Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110703

Financial Crisis
»EU Budget: Tug of War Between EU27 and Commission
»Youth Unemployment Endemic in Europe
»American Constitution Faces ‘Progressive’ Threat
»French Socialist MP Says Strauss-Kahn Victim of Plot
»Obama Consultants Picked to Draw Arizona Redistricting Maps
»Ohio Cops Tased Mentally Handicapped Teenager With Speech Impediment for ‘Disrespect’
»The Dark Muslim Brotherhood World of Huma Abedin
Europe and the EU
»Food Poverty: EU Cuts Funding to the Poor
»Iceland Opens EU Membership Talks
»Italy: MP Elected New Chair of Jewish Parliamentarians Worldwide
»Italy: Judges Reiterate Wiretaps Are Indispensable Instrument
»Italy: 20,000 Tonnes of Waste to be Sent From Naples to Genoa
»Italy: Govt’s PDL Party Blames Left for Naples’ Waste Predicament
»Italy Expels Algerian Terrorist Yamine Bouhrama
»Slovakia — Czech Republic: After the Russians, Ecological Disaster
»Switzerland: Ticino Toughens Its Stance Over Italy Tax Spat
»UK: BBC’s Fears for Newsnight as Viewers Hit All-Time Low
»UK: Guardian Columnist Kia Abdullah Tweets Cruel Taunts About the Death of Gap Year Boys
»UK: RAF’s Rare Anti-Nazi Leaflet That Told Truth to Wartime Germany
»Croatia: EU Leaders Say Yes, Will be 28th Member State
North Africa
»Tunisia: Pact That Bans Normalisation With Israel Adopted
Israel and the Palestinians
»Messianic Christian Couple in Israel Accused of Converting Minor
Middle East
»Nasrallah Defends “Brothers” Accused of Hariri Murder
»Saudi Arabia “To Drive Out” All Indonesian Migrants
South Asia
»Lega Nord Leader: Afghanistan Mission is Costing Too Much
»Takeover is the Taliban Plan for Afghanistan
Far East
»China Sells Fake Microchips to U.S. Navy
Sub-Saharan Africa
»AU Urges Members to Ignore ICJ Gaddafi Arrest Warrant
»Hotel in Ogliastra Rejects 18 Refugees
Culture Wars
»UK: Why Was the Man Behind G-A-Y and Porn Idol a Guest at No 10 Party?

Financial Crisis

EU Budget: Tug of War Between EU27 and Commission

The Commission “struggled through” its presentation of the EU budget proposal for 2014-2020, remarks Le Figaro, which reports that “in line with a demand made by Nicolas Sarkozy, the absolute value of agricultural policy funding remains unchanged” [over seven years, 371.7 billion euros or 36.2% as opposed to 39.4% of the proposed global budget of 1025 billion euros, which amounts to 1.05% of the EU’s GDP].

“Less developed Central Europe has obtained a continuation of regional funding, while the priorities of the moment — energy and Internet access — appear to be respected. On the other hand, the financial transaction tax proposed by Brussels to alleviate pressure on the European treasury has already been greeted by a British veto,” reports Le Figaro.

The tax on financial transactions (TFT) or Tobin tax, “levied at a rate that has yet to be determined, would affect all the activities of financial institutions within the EU and bring in between 50 and 70 billion per year,” which would provide the EU with its own budget resources.

For Libération, the proposal amounts to “a revolution, especially when you consider that how the alter-globalisation movement has campaigned for just such a measure, while the incumbent EU administration is the most right wing to hold office since 1958 — a faithful reflection of the balance of political power in Europe (22 out of 27 member states have right-wing governments).” However, there is no guarantee that member states will be in a hurry to introduce a tax which a spokesman for the British government, quoted by Euobserver, has described as “unrealistic.”

Another bone of contention between the Commission and member states is the issue of cuts to what Le Figaro terms “eurocrats’ salaries”: this group of “of approximately 50,000 privileged [civil servants], who have benefited from a remarkable immunity to the crisis, will have to endure the most hard-hitting wage review in 50 years,” remarks the newspaper.

“To speak of a flare-up between the unions and management — which in this case is the Commission — and the shareholders, otherwise known as member states, is an understatement.” Brussels will have to act quickly to resolve a what is a serious equity and credibility issue: it cannot ask everyone else to tighten their belts while it continues to enjoy such an opulent lifestyle “insists the treasurer of one member state. Eleven countries — including France, Germany, the United Kingdom and most of northern Europe — are now involved in the struggle, and have issued an ultimatum to José Manuel Barroso. Le Figaro has obtained a copy of a letter in which they insist: ‘a significant reduction in spending, including cutbacks on wages, pensions and perks, will have to be implemented’. The offensive against “exisiting entitlements” has heated up, at a time when Greece has been forced to make enormous sacrifices.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Youth Unemployment Endemic in Europe

Politiken, 27 June 2011

“No jobs for the young in Europe” leads the daily Politiken, which quotes Eurostat figures showing that one in five Europeans under 25 is unemployed — a 5 per cent increase from three years ago. Taking the lead is Spain, with 45 per cent youth unemployment, followed by Slovakia, Lithuania and Greece. The phenomenon has not spared the countries whose economies were left relatively unscathed by the crisis, Politiken notes: in Sweden, more than 20 per cent of young people are jobless. Denmark, with an unemployment rate of “only” 12 per cent, has, for the moment, escaped. That situation may not last, and in the rest of Europe it will probably get worse, with long-term consequences, says Jesper Rangvid, a professor at the Copenhagen Business School. “When a large part of a generation is absent from the labour market, countries lose out on expertise and important experience,” he told the Danish newspaper. And Greece, which will have to implement a drastic economic austerity plan to get help from other member countries of the EU and the IMF, is likely to face a massive brain drain in the near future — especially when it comes to young graduates.

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


American Constitution Faces ‘Progressive’ Threat

Look what Obama’s buddies plan for founding document

Still more White House officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder, have ties to an effort funded by billionaire George Soros to push for a new, “progressive” U.S. Constitution.

WND previously reported how President Obama’s regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein, maintained extensive ties to Soros’ funding, particularly with regard to a movement that openly seeks to create a “progressive” consensus on what the U.S. Constitution should provide by the year 2020.

Now, it has emerged that Lisa Brown, Obama’s staff secretary, served as executive director of the Soros-funded American Constitution Society, ACS, a progressive legal organization that was behind the Constitution scheme.

Brown’s White House responsibilities include managing the flow of information, advice and decision-making between staff members and Obama.

Also, Holder has been closely tied to the ACS, serving on the group’s board of directors and even keynoting their 10th anniversary national convention earlier this month.

In 2008, Holder also keynoted their convention. At that event, he reportedly urged young lawyers to get involved in the liberal legal network, saying America would soon be “run by progressives.”

“The pendulum is starting to swing. America run by progressives. Really. It’s about to happen. So we’re going to be looking for people who share our values,” he stated, as captured in a YouTube video[link].

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

French Socialist MP Says Strauss-Kahn Victim of Plot

(AGI) Paris — A French Socialist Mp has said Strauss Kahn was the victim of a plot organized between New York and Paris.

Orders would have come from Paris to the Sofitel, a hotel belonging to the French Accor group, where the former director of the International Monetary Fund had a sexual encounter with a maid who then reported him for rape. Socialist Mp, Francois Loncle, pointed a finger at the management of the hotel chain, whose director for this year as of January 15th is Denis Hennequin.

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

Obama Consultants Picked to Draw Arizona Redistricting Maps

Arizona’s redistricting commission again split along party lines on a key staff choice, selecting a Washington-based firm with perceived Democratic leanings as its mapping consultants on Wednesday.

The commission voted 3-2 to have its executive director negotiate a contract with Strategic Telemetry Inc. to advise the commission in drawing new congressional and legislative districts for use in elections in the coming decade.

The commission’s independent chairwoman and its two Democratic members voted to direct the panel’s executive director to negotiate a contract with Strategic Telemetry. The two Republicans voted no.

The split was the same when the commission previously chose two law firms to serve as its attorneys.

A principal of Strategic Telemetry, Ken Strasma, did 2008 work for President Barack Obama’s campaign, and one of the two Republican commissioners said the firm’s expertise appeared solid but that its Democratic leanings could put public confidence in the redistricting process at risk.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Ohio Cops Tased Mentally Handicapped Teenager With Speech Impediment for ‘Disrespect’

The mother of a 17-year-old handicapped child is pressing charges against two head police officers, as well as the city of Dayton, Oh., after the two cops tased, pepper sprayed, and beat the disabled boy without cause.

According to a report from Courthouse News Service (CNS), Officer Willie Hooper and Officer John Howard of the Dayton Police Department (DPD) allegedly mistook Jesse Kersey’s speech impediment for “disrespect,” and tracked the boy all the way home from where they first encountered him, and proceeded to brutalize the boy with all sorts of inappropriate assault tactics prior to finally arresting him.

The report explains that Officer Hooper first stopped Jesse for an unknown reason while the boy was riding his bicycle, and proceeded to try to speak with him. Jesse, who was having difficulty trying to converse with the officer, decided to ride home and get his mother to help him communicate with the man. Hooper then followed the boy home along with Officer Howard, and before Jesse could even make it in the door, the two officers tased the young boy.

Jesse’s mom, Pamela, stated that “[p]rior to the incident … Hooper knew Jesse was mentally challenged / handicapped and a minor child.” And a neighbor who witnessed the chase as Jesse was trying to return home also came out and tried to tell the cops that the boy was mentally challenged, only to be told to “go back into his home, or he would be arrested.”

As Jesse finally made it through the doorway after being tased, the cops followed him inside and began to shoot pepper spray at him. Officer Howard then “struck Jesse with a closed fist in the upper chest area … and repeatedly struck Jesse in the upper left side of his left thigh.” And while all of this was occurring, roughly 20 more officers from various jurisdictions also arrived on the site.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Dark Muslim Brotherhood World of Huma Abedin

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Walid Shoebat, a former PLO terrorist and Muslim Brotherhood activist who is the author of the new book For God or For Tyranny.

FP: Walid Shoebat, welcome to Frontpage.

Shoebat: Thanks for having me.

FP: You were the first to break the news on Huma Abedin, Anthony Weiner’s wife, being linked to her mother Saleha Abedin, who, as you have exposed, has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

First, let me ask you: how credible are your sources?

Shoebat: Al-Liwa Al-Arabi (translated here) leaked an extensive list, which was partially published by Al-Jazeera and several other major Arab newspapers. The detailed list included Huma’s mother, Saleha Abedin.

Another piece of the puzzle and what was common knowledge in the Arab world is that Huma Abedin has a brother named Hassan Abedin who sits in on the board of the Oxford Centre For Islamic Studies (OCIS) where Huma’s brother is a fellow and partners with a number of Muslim Brotherhood members on the Board, including Al-Qaeda associate, Omar Naseef and the notorious Muslim Brotherhood leader Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi; both have been listed as OCIS Trustees. Naseef continues to serve as Board Chairman.

This becomes an issue since Huma sits in the U.S. State Department with eyes and ears to classified government secrets. Was Huma unaware of all this as she accompanied Hillary Clinton to the Dar El-Hekma women’s college in Jedda-Saudi Arabia? Huma’s mother is the co-founder and a Vice Dean at the college and an active missionary on issues regarding Muslim women and is considered by the Egyptian security services as a dangerous member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Food Poverty: EU Cuts Funding to the Poor

“The decision of the European Commission has paralysed the thousands of charities that help the poorest on the Old Continent: the budget for food aid will be cut by 80 percent,” reports Le Soir. This decision, which reduces to a minimum (from 500 to 113 million euros) the aid the EU will give out in 2012 to charities that provide food to the poor, comes in wake of a legal ruling.

The idea of ??a system of social solidarity to redistribute agricultural surpluses as food aid to the poor was brought in (in the winter of 1986-87) by Jacques Delors, then President of the European Commission. (…) But in the last ten years, food surpluses have fallen. The contributions that had come from surpluses were then replaced by direct financial contributions to charities. One percent of CAP financing — that is, 500 million euros — was to finance the European Programme of Food Aid to the Most Deprived Persons (PEAD). Some countries, like Germany and Sweden, turned to the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ), arguing that this amount was purely social assistance unrelated to the CAP.

On April 12 the Court agreed with them by annulling the right to award a portion of the CAP budget for food distribution through charities. The Commission has not appealed. According to the latest study of the impact of the PEAD, more than 13 million people in Europe benefited from the programme in 2006, a year in which the number of people at risk of food poverty was estimated at 43 million in the EU of twenty-five states.

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

Iceland Opens EU Membership Talks

Iceland on Monday opened negotiations to join the European Union, with fishing disputes and anti-EU sentiment on the island the only hurdles for a nation already well integrated with the bloc.

“I feel that Iceland is making history today by formally starting the negotiation process,” Icelandic Foreign Minister Oessur Skarphedinsson told a news conference.

The two sides launched talks on four of the 35 policy chapters that Iceland must negotiate in order to comply with EU laws and promptly wrapped up two of them, education and science.

Hoping to seize on the early momentum, Skarphedinsson said he planned to open half of the chapters this year, including what he called the two “heavyweight chapters,” agriculture and fisheries, and the rest in 2012.

Iceland applied for EU membership in 2009 in the wake of a catastrophic banking and economic meltdown. It faces fewer obstacles than other EU candidates like Croatia, which is expected to join the bloc in 2013 after EU leaders said Friday it was finally ready following six years of negotiations.

The North Atlantic nation and the 27-country bloc are at odds over fishing rights, with a so-called “mackerel war” heating up late last year after Iceland unilaterally multiplied its catch quota. Brussels then blocked Icelandic fishing boats.

“Today of course it was a small step, an easy step,” Skarphedinsson said, noting that EU membership would have to be approved in a referendum.

“Fisheries indeed will be very difficult because this is the first time that the European Union is negotiating with a country that comes to the table with fisheries as the big, vital, special need,” the minister said.

Thanks to its membership of the European Economic Area, Iceland is already in compliance or partially linked with two-thirds of EU rules, said EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fule.

“With that kind of alignment already achieved, one would indeed expect no shortcuts but indeed a fast process forward, building on the achievements already done,” Fule said. “No doubt there’s going to be challenging moments ahead of us, but we want to face them together.”

Another contentious issue for Iceland could be an ongoing tiff with Britain and the Netherlands over repayment for the 3.9 billion euros they spent reimbursing 340,000 of their citizens hit by the collapse of the online Icelandic bank Icesave in late 2008.

Icelanders have rejected repayment deals in two referenda. The European Free Trade Association has threatened to drag Iceland to court, while Britain and the Netherlands have hinted they could trip up the country’s EU bid.

The dispute has eased since Iceland said the recovered estates from the failed Landsbanki bank, Icesave’s parent company, would basically allow it to repay Britain and the Netherlands, without tapping into taxpayer money.

Skarphedinsson said the Icesave row turned Icelanders against joining the EU, but it is the fisheries talks that voters are watching. The latest poll shows that 57.3 percent of Icelanders oppose EU membership.

“There is especially one thing that weighs on their mind, that is related to the psyche of the nation and to the soul of everyone in Iceland, and it is the fisheries,” he said. “They have to see the outcome of the fisheries before they are ready to commit themselves.”

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

Italy: MP Elected New Chair of Jewish Parliamentarians Worldwide

Jerusalem, 30 June (AKI) — Conservative Italian lawmaker and journalist Fiamma Nirenstein was on Thursday in Jerusalem elected chair of the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians.

Sixty-five-year-old Nirenstein, a former journalist, succeeds United States Congressman Gary Ackerman.

World Jewish Congress secretary General Dan Diker congratulated Nirenstein on her appointment, calling her “a patriot of Italy and a true friend of Israel and the Jewish people.”

Italy’s prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, for whose ruling centre-right People of Freedom party Nienstein in an MP, welcomed her election as ICJP chair.

“This prestigious and authoritative role is the culmination of the cultural commitment and political passion in defence of the values of liberty , democracy and freedom that Italy and Israel share, which the Rt. Hon. Nirenstein has always shown,” Berlusconi said.

Italy’s foreign minister Franco Frattini in a statement also welcomed Nirenstein’s election. “It is very good news for Italy and for all those who are committed to the ideals of civility, liberty and freedom,” he said.

Florence-born Nirenstein said she would fight attempts to delegitimise Israel. She is vice-president of the Italian lower house of parliament’s foreign affairs committee and an expert on the Middle East conflict, terrorism and anti-Semitism,

Berlusconi earlier in June urged radical Palestinian Islamist group Hamas to recognise the Jewish state during a visit to Rome earlier this month by Benjamin Netanyahu, prompting the Israeli premier to claim Israel had “no better friend”.

Until she was elected to parliament in 2008, Nirenstein was a columnist and Israel correspondent for Italy’s ‘Il Giornale’ newspaper. She still contributes analysis piece for the daily and for the weekly ‘Panorama’.

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

Italy: Judges Reiterate Wiretaps Are Indispensable Instrument

(AGI) Rome — During a hearing with the Senate’s Justice Commission, the president of the National Judges Council, Luca Palamara, said that wiretaps are an indispensable instrument in gaining proof of crimes, both serious and less seriousones.

Another issue,” he added, “concerns the publication of transcripts which should not be linked to individual cases.” .

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

Italy: 20,000 Tonnes of Waste to be Sent From Naples to Genoa

(AGI) Genoa — Over the next weeks about 20,000 tonnes of rubbish in Naples’ streets will be carried to Genoa. Carlo Senesi, local councillor for waste policies, said “it’s undifferentiated urban solid waste, colelcted in the Neapolitan districts where recycling is done. Therefore, none of the waste sent to Genoa will be humid. Over the past weeks — he added — I spoke, over the phone, to Raphael Rossi, chairman of ASIA (Naples’ local waste-management company), to consider the possibility of helping out Naples”.

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

Italy: Govt’s PDL Party Blames Left for Naples’ Waste Predicament

(AGI) Rome — In comment to the Naples waste crisis, PDL party whip Fabrizio Cicchitto blames the ‘Left’ for past mismanagement. Faced with the current emergency, Fabrizio Cicchitto said today, “government is doing its utmost. Proof of that is the recent fast track bill.” Urging regional governments’ to cooperate in allowing Naples’ urban waste to be offloaded at their landfills, Cicchitto went on to canvass political parties across the board to also provide their cooperation, lamenting “the Left’s undue criticism”, which he characterised as going hand in hand with the Left’s efforts to “try and make public opinion forget that the reason Naples faces its current waste crisis is because of years of mismanagement by the Left.” .

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

Italy Expels Algerian Terrorist Yamine Bouhrama

(AGI) Roma — Interior minister Roberto Maroni has personally signed orders to expel Algerian terrorist Yamine Bouhrama.

Described as “a menace to society”, Bouhrama was repatriated to Algiers today, immediately after his release from jail. News of the expulsion was reported by the interior ministry. Bouhrama was sentenced to years in jail by a Naples court, on January 10, 2008, on international terrorism, false papers, stolen goods and violating a crime scene charges. He was detained at Macomer facilities in Sardinia.

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

Slovakia — Czech Republic: After the Russians, Ecological Disaster

SME, 20 June 2011

“Twenty years without the Russians” On June 21, 1991, as Soviet troops left the territory of Czechoslovakia, 100,000 soldiers and their families and all their military equipment rolled out of more than 70 bases. It was a massive logistical undertaking, photographed by Karel Cudlín and published with a report in the weekly Respekt. In Bratislava, the Slovak daily SME draws up the ecological balance twenty years later: “The Russians left devastation behind them…. After the human wreckage that began with the 1968 occupation, the Soviets went on to ravage the landscape for another 23 years,” writes the paper, calculating that Slovakia has paid out some 40 million euros in the fight against “ecological disaster”, especially pollution from fuels.

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

Switzerland: Ticino Toughens Its Stance Over Italy Tax Spat

The Italian-speaking canton of Ticino says it will temporarily block some tax at source revenues belonging to Italian cross-border workers.

The move is a way of putting pressure on the Swiss government to resolve an ongoing tax dispute with neighbouring Italy.

More than half of the amount of money which should go to Italy — around SFr30 million ($36 million) — is to be frozen in a Swiss bank account. It will stay there until the Swiss government starts negotiations with Italy over a new double taxation agreement, agreed the cantonal government on Thursday evening.

The Swiss finance ministry said that it had taken note of Ticino’s decision and that it was also interested in an end to the tax dispute. Spokesman Mario Tuor told the Swiss news agency that the two sides may restart talks next week.

Switzerland has come under pressure from its neighbours to crack down on tax dodgers and abolish its traditional banking secrecy. Italy, led by Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti, has been particularly vociferous, particularly because Switzerland does not want to include the automatic exchange of information about bank clients in any agreement.

Italy has retained Switzerland on its own black list of tax havens despite the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development having cleared the Swiss 18 months ago. As a result, Italy has increased the amount of red tape for Swiss companies, making it harder for them to do cross-border business.

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

UK: BBC’s Fears for Newsnight as Viewers Hit All-Time Low

BBC bosses have become increasingly concerned about flagship news programme Newsnight after discovering that it can be watched by as few as 166,000 people.

Figures obtained by The Mail on Sunday reveal the BBC2 show’s overnight ratings have dropped to the lowest level in its 31-year history.

The Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB) says the average audience is now around 450,000 viewers — roughly half what it was a decade ago — with some editions regularly struggling to breach the 200,000 mark.

Official industry ‘snapshot’ figures show that one broadcast, on May 19, had only 166,000 viewers.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Guardian Columnist Kia Abdullah Tweets Cruel Taunts About the Death of Gap Year Boys

A newspaper journalist who cruelly mocked the the deaths of three teenagers killed on a gap year has been forced to apologise for her grossly insensitive comments on Twitter.

Guardian columnist Kia Abdullah tweeted that she had ‘smiled’ when she heard the news that students Max Boomgaarden-Cook, 20, Bruno Melling-Firth and Conrad Quashie, both 19, had died in a coach crash in Thailand.

The journalist, who has published a controversial book about paedophiles, asked her hundreds of followers if it was ‘awful’ that she felt no sympathy for the death of the three school friends, who had spent months saving for a tour of South-East Asia.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: RAF’s Rare Anti-Nazi Leaflet That Told Truth to Wartime Germany

A rare anti-Nazi leaflet dropped over Germany by the RAF during the Second World War will be presented to the UK Holocaust Centre this week.

The document is one of the few surviving White Rose leaflets produced by brave students at Munich University.

The White Rose resistance movement was behind thousands of copies of the leaflets, which gave details of the Holocaust and supported the ideals of democracy, freedom and religious tolerance.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Croatia: EU Leaders Say Yes, Will be 28th Member State

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, JUNE 24 — Croatia will be the 28th member State of the European Union. This much-awaited decision was taken today in Brussels at the summit of State and government leaders of the 27 EU nations. It was not specified when Croatia will join the EU, but the most likely date is July 1 2013, as expressed by the European Commission. “This is a historic moment”, underlined EU President Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Commission Jose’ Manuel Barroso and Hungary’s Prime Minister and EU President Viktor Orban, addressing Croatian Premier Jadranka Kosor who is in Brussels to harvest the fruits of six years of hard work. “We expect to conclude the negotiations very soon: by the end of June. We should sign the accession treaty before the end of the year 2011”, said Van Rompuy.

“I hope”, added Barroso, “that everything is ready to welcome Croatia as 28th member State on July 1 2013”. Premier Kosor is pleased: “Croatia has come to the end of a long journey”, he said. Today’s decision “is the greatest gift we could receive for the 20th anniversary of our independence”, June 25 1991. The Croatian Premier continued: “we have had some difficult times since the start of negotiations in 2005, but this shows our neighbours that perseverance and hard work pay off”. The European leaders insisted in their conclusions that Croatia should continue its efforts, “in particular regarding the legal sector and fundamental rights”. They asked the European Commission to monitor the situation until Croatia joins the EU. “No new conditions have been added”, said Van Rompuy, to whom Kosor confirmed his intentions to “continue working hard until and after the accession”. According to the time table, the citizens of Croatia have to give their green light in a referendum after the accession contract is signed halfway December. After that, the EU member States have to ratify the accession, a process that should be concluded by July 2013.

In a wider prospect, the green light given to Croatia certainly sends a clear message to other countries in the region, who will also be welcomed in the Union by the EU leaders if “they continue on the road of reforms”, they specify. “This autumn we will discuss how to proceed with the enlargement procedure with other countries” in the region, said Orban. The Balkan dossier will in fact be on the agenda of the December summit.

Meanwhile, Serbia has received a special sign of encouragement from the EU leaders: in their conclusions they call the arrest of former Bosnian-Serb general Ratko Mladic “a positive step for international justice, as well as for Serbia’s European prospect”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Tunisia: Pact That Bans Normalisation With Israel Adopted

(ANSAmed) — TUNISIA, JULY 1 — Today Tunisia’s commission of political reform announced that it adopted (by majority) a “republican pact” that will be the basis of the future new Constitution, and in particular it states the rejection of any normalisation with Israel.

While announcing the pact the president of the commission, Yadh Ben Achour, did not offer any details, but the Arab speaking Tunisian press published its content, which defines Tunisia as a free and democratic country, whose official language is Arab and whose religion is Islam.

The pact, that will serve as the basis of the future Constitution, categorically rejects “any form of normalisation with the Zionist State”, and supports the Palestinian cause.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Messianic Christian Couple in Israel Accused of Converting Minor

A hard-line Jewish ultra-Orthodox group in Israel that singles out Jewish Christians known as Messianic Jews for harassment and abuse is taking aim at a couple it claims is manipulating minors into becoming Christians.

The group, Yad L’Achim, this week placed leaflets around the home of Serge and Naama Kogen, 37 and 42 respectively, in Mevasseret Zion, a suburban community located just west of Jerusalem. The same week someone took out a full-page ad in a local newspaper giving the couple’s address and telling residents they were part of a missionary group “targeting” the community. The Kogens are native Israelis and hence not part of any missionary group.

During the protest, a distraught 16-year-old girl, the alleged target of the couple’s “missionary” efforts, said all of Yad L’Achim’s claims were false. Donna Lubofsky maintains that she has never converted to Christianity. She wanted to speak at the protest to give her side of what happened, but the organizers wouldn’t let her, she said.

“They are all liars, all liars! Ask them, why won’t they let me speak?” Donna told Compass at the protest. “They won’t let me speak because what they are saying is untrue. They [the Kogens] never tried to get me to believe. They are just good people.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Nasrallah Defends “Brothers” Accused of Hariri Murder

(AGI) Beirut — Shiek Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, defended the 4 members of the Shiite militia accused of the Hariri homicide. Hassan Nasrallah defended the four accused by the UN Special Court for Lebanon for the death of former Sunnite Premier, Rafiq Hariri, killed with another 22 persons by a bomb February 14th, 2005. Speaking for the first time of the indictment, the leader of the Party of God defined the four “brothers” with a “honorable story”.

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

Saudi Arabia “To Drive Out” All Indonesian Migrants

The decision announced June 30. Jakarta replies that it has pre-empted a decision already taken to stop migration. But experts point out that Riyadh needs the Indonesian workforce and Jakarta has millions of unemployed. Instead safety and rights should be discussed.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — Tension remains high between Riyadh and Jakarta in the aftermath of the beheading of an Indonesian woman in Saudi Arabia. The latter has decided to ban Indonesian workers (called Tenga Kerja Indonesia or TKI) from the country, but Indonesia had already decided to bring home the majority of its citizens migrated to Arabia, to ensure their safety.

Riyadh’s decision is effective from today. The Indonesian Minister for Human Resources Muhaimin Iskandar, however, commented on June 30 that “there is no problem, because their decision is in line with our moratorium.” During a debate, he added that “they still need our TKI … so we are not concerned about the decision to ban them.”

President Susilo Bambang Yodhoyono had already promulgated the decision to recall some of the Indonesian workers who have migrated to Arabia, as of August 1. Jakarta aims to protest the beheading its citizen Rubati bin Satupi, carried out by Riyadh in violation of “international standards”, without even informing Indonesia (in the picture: a moment of street protests in Indonesia).

The ban affects about 1.5 million Indonesian migrants who live in Saudi on a regular basis and send home at least 2 trillion rupees a year. Experts believe that the two countries should seek a solution together, rather than take unilateral decisions.

Jumhur Hidayat, head of the Indonesian national office for the placement and safety of TKI, said the Saudi decision is in line with Indonesia to stop this migration, but fears that it “will result in many illegal TKI without official documents.”

Rusdi Basalamah, Secretary General of the Indonesian TKI agency, explains that there are thousands of Indonesian workers who have already applied for a visa and are ready to leave for Saudi.

Muhammad Yunus Yamani, head of the Agency, shows that this situation creates problems for both countries, because “Saudi Arabia has a strong need of our TKI and Indonesia relies heavily on TKI remittances from abroad “.

The National Commission for Human Rights of Women believes that any travel ban will have no effect unless alternative forms of employment are created for millions of unemployed domestic workers.

President Yudhoyono is concerned, however, to ensure the effective presence abroad of the newly created body for the safety of TKIs. He notes that there are at least 200 TKI, who are domestic workers in Saudi Arabia, China, Singapore and Malaysia, subject to charges involving the death penalty. “20% of them — he said yesterday — are involved in murder cases, while others in case of narcotic drugs or sexual abuse.” “The Task Force for the TKI should provide them legal assistance and take all steps to minimize the possibility of death sentence.” “We must ensure that any death sentence is transmuted to life imprisonment.”

Minister Muhaimin Iskandar noted however, that the legal protection abroad is only one problem with TKI to discuss with Riyadh. It is also necessary to mention the minimum monthly wage, which Jakarta has asked be raised to at least 11 thousand reais (around 3 thousand dollars), however, this has met with objections.

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

South Asia

Lega Nord Leader: Afghanistan Mission is Costing Too Much

(AGI) Romano di Lombardia — Umberto Bossi has once again expressed his misgivings about Italy’s involvement in Afghanistan. “The truth is that wars end when the money runs out, and we have no money”. Then he added: “there are too many men involved. They cost too much and I can’t see what principle we are trying to defend”. Bossi also said that Italy has troops “in Libya, and Afghanistan and sometimes they die”.

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

Takeover is the Taliban Plan for Afghanistan

The administration’s plan for Afghanistan may include reconciliation with the Taliban, but the latter have no plans that allow American gains, much less bilateral-negotiations to end the conflict.

It appears that the administration is tangoing with an imaginary partner. Neville Chamberlain’s wishful Sept. 30, 1938 proclamation, “I have returned to Germany with peace in our time,” should serve as a chilling reminder to those who are under the illusion that war is receding which in fact, it is about to escalate into global conflict.

The Taliban strategy is not obscure; most of it has been announced, publicized and is based in ideology, as has been the case with totalitarian movements throughout history. U.S. inability to grasp Taliban plans is not due to the jihadists’ highly-developed denial and deception skills, but rather to the unwillingness or inability of the U.S. and its allies to see it.

The Taliban long-term strategic plan is simple: practice taqiyya to gain terrain and power; resume jihad to eliminate the other forms of governance; and implement their version of Shariah to reverse democracy.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Far East

China Sells Fake Microchips to U.S. Navy

The chips weren’t only low-quality fakes, they had been made with a “back-door” and could have been remotely shut down at any time. If left undiscovered the result could have rendered useless U.S. missiles and killed the signal from aircraft that tells everyone whether it’s friend or foe.

Apparently foreign chip makers are often better at making cheap microchips and U.S. defense contractors are loathe to pass up the better deal. The problem remains with these “trojan-horse” circuits that can be built into the chip and are almost impossible to detect — especially without the original plans to compare them to.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

AU Urges Members to Ignore ICJ Gaddafi Arrest Warrant

(AGI) London — The African Union has called on its members to ignore ICJ arrest warrants issued against Colonel Gaddafi. News of the AU’s resolution is reported by the UK’s SkyNews.

According to the AU the ICJ’s arrest warrant “seriously complicates efforts to find a solution to the Libyan crisis.” Should Union’s 53 members agree to the resolution, Gaddafi will be allowed to freely move within the African continent. Similar resolutions were adopted for Sudan’s Omar el Bashir.

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


Hotel in Ogliastra Rejects 18 Refugees

(AGI) Cagliari — A hotel in Lanusei (Ogliastra) rejected 18 African refugees, of the group of 52 that landed this morning.

The hotel manager initially offered to give them shelter, having reached an agreement with Sardinia’s civil defence. The six families with children, the first refugees of the 436 landed in Sardinia and to be given shelter in Ogliastra, were then transferred — following the intervention of the Provincial Council and of Social Services councillor Beniamino Lai — to a hotel in Girasole.

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

Culture Wars

UK: Why Was the Man Behind G-A-Y and Porn Idol a Guest at No 10 Party?

David Cameron is to review No 10’s guest policy after a gay nightclub owner who encourages men to strip naked at ‘Porn Idol’ contests was invited to an official function.

Jeremy Joseph, who runs London’s G-A-Y club, attended a Downing Street event last month designed to celebrate the ‘importance gay people play in national life’.

But his contribution to society includes cajoling young audience members to take their clothes off in front of a baying crowd at the weekly Porn Idol nights he hosts at the Heaven nightclub.

An undercover Mail on Sunday reporter attended the event on Thursday and saw Mr Joseph, 44, encourage contestants to strip naked, using lewd language, and urge the audience to jeer at those who were reluctant to do so.

So his presence at the No 10 reception on June 22 shocked many guests. One said: ‘People were astonished to see Joseph there. Many gay people regard his shows as distasteful.

[Return to headlines]