Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110725

Financial Crisis
»Greece Urges Citizens to Repatriate Money Held in Foreign Banks
»House Leaders Call for Short-Term Rise in Debt Ceiling
»Manufacturing in China in Decline as Economy Tightens
»More Credit Suisse Bankers Charged in US
»US Seeks New Battlefield
Europe and the EU
»Frank Gaffney: A Warning From Norway
»In Crime-Plagued Naples Google Maps Can Help You Find Illegal Parking Spots
»Italy: Berlusconi Company to Pay Court-Ordered 560 Mln Euros to Rival, Will Appeal
»Netherlands: Convicted Rapist Gets Sex Sessions in Psychiatric Prison
»Norway: Calderoli: Multiculturalism Has Nothing to Do With It
»Norway Shooter Made Many References to the Netherlands
»Papal Nuncio to Ireland Recalled to Rome for Consultations
»Polish Police Deny Arrest of Norway Killings Accomplice
»Serbia: Oslo Killer’s Support of ‘Anti-Islamic Serbs’ Prompts Bitter Serbian Reaction
North Africa
»Lega Nord Leader Says War in Libya Will End in September
»The Power Elite and the Muslim Brotherhood
Israel and the Palestinians
»Caroline Glick: Squandering Israel’s Limited Influence
Middle East
»Conservatism on the Rise in Turkey
South Asia
»Afghanistan: Italian Soldier Killed in Fighting
»Italy: Opposition Says Time to End Afghan Military Quagmire
»Italy: Calderoli Doubts About Afghan Mission, But Supports Bill
»The Drama of Farah Hatim, Common to Many Women in Pakistan
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Famine and Abundance Rub Shoulders in Ethiopia
»EU Says France and Italy Didn’t Violate Schengen

Financial Crisis

Greece Urges Citizens to Repatriate Money Held in Foreign Banks

An estimated €15bn is believed to have left Greece as high-income earners moved their money abroad

After securing a second rescue package to prop up its debt-stricken economy, Greece has implored its citizens to honour the agreement by repatriating cash whisked abroad during the crisis.

Appealing to businessmen, shipowners and financiers who transferred large amounts of wealth out of the crisis-hit country, finance minister Evangelos Venizelos said last week’s mega-deal had ensured that Greek banks were now among the safest in the world.

“Brussels’ agreement absolutely guarantees [the liquidity] of banks,” he said in an interview with the authoritative Sunday Vima. “Today banks are much safer … this is an opportunity for the money that has been taken abroad to be re-deposited in Greek banks,” he added to help kick-start the cash-starved economy.

Under the €109bn (£96bn) deal, sponsored by the EU, IMF and private investors, an estimated €20bn will be used to recapitalize banks. The funds offered an “umbrella of protections” that safeguarded lenders’ solvency, Venizelos said. An estimated €15bn is believed to have left Greece as high-income earners moved savings abroad amid speculation the nation could default €350bn debts.

Venizelos insisted that it was the patriotic duty of Greeks to pump their cash hoardings back into the economy.

“All those who have also taken deposits [out of banks], who have perhaps taken them home because their savings are small, should for reasons of participation in the national effort [to revive the economy], return them to banks,” he said.

Greek money moved mostly to banks in Switzerland and Cyprus. Greeks eager to offload deposits have also been reported flying to the UK with “suitcases full of cash” used to snap up prime properties in central London.

Estate agents in the capital said that over the course of the past year Greeks had scaled the rich list of foreigners acquiring £2m plus properties in Britain “often closing deals in less than a week.”

Amid fears of the banking system’s imminent collapse, a growing number of citizens, hit by austerity measures, have also withdrawn savings, often keeping the deposits in the safety of their homes.

Recently the Greek media reported the case of a man in Crete who had hidden a vast amount of cash in his home only to discover that it had been destroyed by mice. Demand for gold has also risen in Greece.

With the country mired in its worst recession since the second world war, the cash flight has exacerbated its liquidity problem now seen as one of the major obstacles to economic growth. Cash outflows have played a major role in credit ratings agencies slapping downgrades on the Greek economy.

The rescue plan has been met with palpable relief in Athens with commentators and politicians agreeing that after “saving” Greece by solving the conundrum of sustaining its colossal debt, it is now up to Greeks to save themselves by implementing reforms to modernise their country.

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

House Leaders Call for Short-Term Rise in Debt Ceiling

House Republicans intend to push for a vote this week on a two-step plan that would allow the federal debt limit to immediately rise by about $1 trillion and tie a second increase next year to the ability of a new joint Congressional committee to produce more deficit reduction.

Top Republicans were to try to sell the proposal to their rank-and file in a crucial meeting Monday afternoon as House Republicans and Senate Democrats readied competing plans in an effort avoid a federal default next week.

The proposal would cut current spending and put legal limits on future spending, saving what Republicans estimate to be about $1.2 trillion over 10 years. The plan calls for no new revenue.

[Return to headlines]

Manufacturing in China in Decline as Economy Tightens

Manufacturing activity in China contracted for the first time in a year in July and hit a 28-month low, HSBC data showed Thursday, the latest sign tightening measures are impacting the economy.

However, the figures also indicated that despite several interest rate hikes aimed at tempering stubbornly high inflation the cost of raw materials continued to rise.

HSBC’s preliminary purchasing managers index fell to 48.9 in July from a final reading of 50.1 in June. A reading above 50 indicates the sector is expanding, while a reading below 50 indicates contraction.

The July reading, which is subject to revision when the bank publishes its final figures on August 1, is the lowest since March 2009 and fell below 50 for the first time since July 2010.

“We expect industrial growth to decelerate in the coming months as tightening measures continue to filter through,” HSBC chief economist Qu Hongbin said in a statement.

The world’s second-largest economy is still likely to grow nearly 9 percent in the rest of the year, supported by resilient consumer spending and massive investment in infrastructure projects, he said.

But what will likely cause a headache for policymakers is data showing the price of raw materials rose at a faster rate in July than the previous month, indicating manufacturers remain under inflationary pressure.

Chinese officials have been pulling on a variety of levers to prevent the economy from overheating and rein in inflation — which hit a three-year high of 6.4 percent in June — amid fears high prices could trigger social unrest.

In a bid to stop money flooding the system Beijing has increased the amount banks must hold in reserve several times — which cut lending 10 percent in the first half of 2011 — while interest rates have risen five times since October.

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


More Credit Suisse Bankers Charged in US

United States federal prosecutors have charged four more US-based bankers linked to Credit Suisse with conspiracy in what they say was a long-running tax evasion scheme.

Prosecutors originally charged four people involved in the scheme in February; Thursday’s announcement brings the total number of people charged up to eight.

The US Justice Department wrote in February that as of late 2008 Credit Suisse was maintaining thousands of secret accounts for US customers with as much as $3 billion (SFr2.5 billion) in total assets under management in those accounts. The conspiracy allegedly goes back as far as 1953, according to prosecutors.

The four individuals charged on Thursday include Credit Suisse’s former head of North American Offshore Banking. At least three of the four are Swiss.

Credit Suisse itself is not charged in the case, but prosecutors wrote that bank officials “knew and should have known that they were aiding and abetting US customers in evading their US income taxes”.

“Credit Suisse is committed to a fully compliant cross-border business. Subject to our Swiss legal obligations and throughout this process we will continue to cooperate with the US authorities in an effort to resolve these matters,” the bank was quoted as saying.

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

US Seeks New Battlefield

The Pentagon is asking scientists to figure out how to detect and counter propaganda on social media networks in the aftermath of Arab uprisings. The project echoes concerns among top military officers about the lightning pace of change in the Middle East, where social networks have served as an engine for protest

The U.S. military’s high-tech research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), has put out a request for experts to look at “a new science of social networks” that would attempt to get ahead of the curve of event unfolding on new media.

The program’s goal was to track “purposeful or deceptive messaging and misinformation” in social networks and to pursue “counter messaging of detected adversary influence operations,” according to DARPA’s request for proposals issued on July 14. The project echoes concerns among top military officers about the lightning pace of change in the Middle East, where social networks have served as an engine for protest against some longtime U.S. allies. Some senior officers have spoken privately of the need to better track unrest revealed in social networks and to look for ways to shape outcomes in the Arab world through Twitter, Facebook or YouTube. “Events of strategic as well as tactical importance to our Armed Forces are increasingly taking place in social media space. We must, therefore, be aware of these events as they are happening and be in a position to defend ourselves within that space against adverse outcomes,”the DARPA announcement said.

DARPA predicted that social networks would have a groundbreaking effect on warfare. Under the proposal, researchers would be expected to unearth and classify the “formation, development and spread of ideas and concepts” in social media. The document cited a case in which authorities employed social media to head off a potential crisis, but did not specify details of the incident. “For example, in one case rumors about the location of a certain individual began to spread in social media space and calls for storming the rumored location reached a fever pitch,” it said.”By chance, responsible authorities were monitoring the social media, detected the crisis building, and averted a physical attack on rumored location.” DARPA planned to spend $42 million on the Social Media in Strategic Communication (SMISC) program.

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

Europe and the EU

Frank Gaffney: A Warning From Norway

Almost lost in official Washington’s preoccupation with the partisan slug-fest over raising the debt ceiling and reducing the deficit was the despicable, murderous attack in Norway on Friday. Unfortunately, such inattention increases the likelihood that the wrong lessons will be learned from the mayhem — and a proper response to the mayhem inflicted upon that Nordic ally will not be forthcoming.

The predictable narrative has already begun to take hold. The confessed perpetrator of a bombing of government offices in Oslo and a seek-and-destroy operation at a Labor Party youth camp on Utoya Island, Anders Behring Breivik, is depicted as a “Christian,” “conservative” and/or “right-wing extremist.” His attacks, we are told, were animated by a delusional ambition to save his country from an Islamic take-over.

Much remains to be learned about this evident psychopath and his precise motivations for acting in such a deranged fashion. Still, an unholy axis of Muslim Brotherhood operatives and those on the Left — groups whose spokesmen, ironically, endlessly inveigh against precipitous judgments when jihadists are the perpetrators — have been quick to find in this attack proof of their favorite meme: that conservatives and Christians are as much a threat to domestic tranquility (if not more) as are those seeking to impose the totalitarian Islamic politico-military-legal doctrine of shariah. They insist that as much effort (if not more) should be expended by law enforcement and other government agencies to counter such “Islamophobic” right-wing extremists as is applied to Muslim “violent extremism.” …

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]

In Crime-Plagued Naples Google Maps Can Help You Find Illegal Parking Spots

Aimed at assisting police in tracking down those running Naples’ infamous racket of illegal parking, a new Google maps page may be more useful for those desperate for a spot

Antonio Salvati

Alongside the pizza makers and syrupy folk singers, unlicensed parking attendants — well-known in Italian as parcheggiatori abusivi — are traditional Naples characters central to the city’s folklore.

And now their old — albeit illegal — pavement-pounding profession is going high-tech: a Google Maps page is providing all the relevant information about Naples’ 150 or so unlicensed parking areas, from availability to expected fees.

Depending on your point of view, or how much of a rush you are in, you can view parcheggiatori abusivi as criminals or as a valuable help in the search for the elusive parking spaces in Naples’ super congested streets. In some crime-infested areas, paying these unlicensed key-keepers guarantees that your car will not be vandalized or stolen.

If nothing else, the unlicensed parking attendants are adaptable. Recently, a huge and affordable (and legal) public lot opened in Naples. At first, the parcheggiatori abusivi bought the parking tickets and sold them to the drivers. The police responded by forcing drivers to provide their car registration number at the entrance.

A travel guide to illicit spots

The unlicensed parking attendants are still here, though. For many, this is a family business. They control streets inherited by their fathers or their grandfathers. They consider themselves professionals and would prefer to be called “parking overseers.”

For a while, if a customer wanted to park in a particularly crowded area — for example, close to a restaurant on the seafront — he could call the parcheggiatori abusivi and book in advance. Now, the costumer can find them online. On Google Maps there is a constantly updated map of Naples with more than 150 — illegal — car lots.

It is a sort of Travel Guide to unlicensed parking. In via Marina, near Federico II University, there are 300 lots controlled by five parcheggiatori abusivi. The minimum fee is one euro, and the “insistence” in asking for the payoff is “medium .” On the seafront, there are around one thousand spots, and ten unlicensed attendants. The fee is two euros. In Piazzetta Scacchi, in the heart of Naples, a weekly or monthly subscription is available, especially for residents.

The creator of the Google Maps page says that though there is a gag element to his creation, it’s also aimed at helping the police.

The local authorities, though, say tracking the abuses is not the hard part. “We don’t need tips. We know this issue very well, and we have been combating it for years,” says the Municipal Police Chief, Colonel Luigi Sementa. “The main problem is that we can arrest an unlicensed parking attendant only if a driver is assaulted, or denounces them for extortion. Without a complaint, we can only fine them.”

In 2009, the parcheggiatori abusivi even rallied in front of Naples Cathedral asking not to be persecuted anymore, insisting that they provide the city with a service. And now that service is new and improved thanks to Google Maps.

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

Italy: Berlusconi Company to Pay Court-Ordered 560 Mln Euros to Rival, Will Appeal

Milan, 21 July (AKI) — Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s holding company on Thursday said it will pay 560 million euros directly to a competitor after a court earlier this month ordered the payment as damages for corruption in a 1991 takeover battle for Italian publisher Arnoldo Mondadori Editore.

Milan-based Fininvest in a statement said the money will be wired directly to rival CIR within five days but added that it will appeal the case and that the payment is not an admission of any wrongdoing.

“Following the sentence by Milan’s appeal court on 9 July concerning the Mondadori affair, Fininvest has decided to pay the sum directly to CIR,” the company said.

“The payment, which will be made before 26 July, by no means implies the sentence has been accepted,” it said, adding that the company “will turn to the final court of appeal” to challenge the order.

A Milan court reduced the original 750-million-euros Berlusconi’s company was ordered to pay CIR.

In a courtroom battle between billionaire Berlusconi from Milan and rival Carlo de Benedetti from Rome, a Fininvest lawyer was found guilty of bribing a judge to rule in his company’s favour to buy the Mondadori, a publisher of books and magazines.

Fininvest controls Mediaset, Italy’s largest private television broadcaster.

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

Netherlands: Convicted Rapist Gets Sex Sessions in Psychiatric Prison

A convicted serial rapist serving four years in a psychiatric prison has been allowed to use a spare room in the clinic to have sex with his girlfriend, newspaper Tubantia reports on Friday.

The man is in a relationship with an older worker at another psychiatric prison where he spent time, and is said to be ‘hypersexual’.

The man was convicted of the sexual abuse and rape of eight young girls, although police had received complaints from 35, the paper says.

Prisoners lobby group Bonjo told the paper it was shocked by the revelations.

‘I can hardly believe it,’ spokesman Nico Epskamp said. ‘There have been major rows in the past about pornography in tbs clinics, never mind a relationship between a prisoner and a clinic worker.’

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

Norway: Calderoli: Multiculturalism Has Nothing to Do With It

(AGI) Bergamo — Simplification Minister Roberto Calderoli says massacres in Norway have nothing to do with multiculturalism.

“Multiculturalism has nothing to do with massacres,” he said at the margins of a Lega Nord festival in Treviglio, “there is always one who goes crazy, in spite of the general situation.

One must tackle situations intelligently and with common sense.

Here there are no parameters, it is a matter of mental wellbeing.” .

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

Norway Shooter Made Many References to the Netherlands

The 1,500 page document which appears to have been written by Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian arrested for killing at least 93 people in a bombing and shooting spree, contains many references to Islam in the Netherlands.

The document, written under the name Andrew Berwick, describes the Netherlands as a country which will become a victim of the ‘Islamic colonisation’ of Europe, and forecasts 55% of the population will be Muslim by 2070.

According to the Telegraaf, large parts of the manifesto have been copied from texts by a Norwegian anti-Islam blogger known as Fjordman. One piece by Fjordman — who some sources claim is the gunman — says Muslim migration will lead to the Netherlands becoming a totalitarian state.

Newspaper reports

The document, which includes many references to newspaper reports and right-wing blogs, refers several times to Geert Wilders but not to his current role in national government, indicating it was written some time ago. It includes several quotes by Wilders and mentions his video compilation Fitna and the protests it generated.

The document also mentions Ehsan Jami, the anti-Islam activist who disbanded his committee of ex-Muslims, riots in Amsterdam’s Slotervaart district, bus drivers in Gouda who had been attacked by Moroccan youths and various surveys on Islam and the Dutch.

The work also criticises the Dutch media for portraying Pim Fortuyn as an extreme-right politician — a fact which led to his murder by a left-wing activist on behalf of Muslims, the document claims.

Theo van Gogh

The author also says Ayaan Hirsi Ali should be given the Nobel Prize for Peace and comments on the arrest of Dutch cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot and the murder of Theo van Gogh.

‘My bet is still on Britain, or possibly Denmark, as the first Western country to face a civil war due to Muslim immigration, but the Netherlands is a potential candidate as well,’ the document says.

‘I just wonder whether the Dutch are already a broken nation, mentally speaking. Their political elites have chosen formal surrender and will enforce sharia and ban everybody disagreeing with this as ‘extremists’. Native Dutchmen will either have to fight back or leave their country behind and watch it die from a distance, as a significant number of them have already done.’

The document also includes calculations of how much anthrax would be needed to wipe out ‘A and B category traitors’ in the Netherlands and other European countries and a list of nuclear power facilities.

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

Papal Nuncio to Ireland Recalled to Rome for Consultations

(AGI) Vatican — The secretary of state has recalled the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, Monsignor Giuseppe Leanza, for consultations. This follows the publication on 13 July of the report of the commission of inquiry set up by the Irish government into child sex abuse by clergy in the Diocese of Cloyne.

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

Polish Police Deny Arrest of Norway Killings Accomplice

(AGI) Oslo — Polish police are investigating possible complicity in the Norway killings, but no one has been charged or arrested. Polish public television had reported that local police were interrogating the owner of an online chemicals business, while one of his homes in the south-western city of Wroclaw was being searched. According to the Norwegian newspaper Stian Pride, in his 1,500 page piece posted online six hours before the massacre, Breivik had mentioned the online supplier of chemical products.

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


Serbia: Oslo Killer’s Support of ‘Anti-Islamic Serbs’ Prompts Bitter Serbian Reaction

Belgrade, 25 July (AKI) — Norwegian, Anders Behring Breivik, who admitted carrying out a pair of attacks on an Oslo government building and killing 93 people in a shooting spree in a youth camp on an island, has no sympathizers among Serbs, press reports showed on Monday.

Most newspapers described Breivik as a “madman”, psychopath”, “monster” and similar views prevailed on Serbian newspapers’ web side forums.

Before embarking on his murderous crusade, Breivik, 32, posted on a web site a 1,500-page document written in English, under the pseudonym of Andrew Berwick, in which he said he was motivated by NATO bombing of Serbia 1999.

“That was all we needed,” said daily Press in a front page banner. “Norwegian monster ‘revenges’ Serbs and Christians,” the paper said ironically. Other newspapers reacted in a similar manner.

In a document posted on web site Breivik said he was a crusader against “Islamization of western Europe” and criticized European leaders for bombing Serbia and Serbs in Bosnia who allegedly fought against Islam.

“Bosnia was Serbia and only Serbian,” Breivik said. “There had been no Muslims for 500 years until Turkey occupied the Balkans,” he added. Breivik described himself as a fan of wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic who is currently standing trial for genocide before the Hague-based United Nations war crimes tribunal.

Breivik said the bombing of Serbia in 1999, which ultimately led to independence of its southern Kosovo province, declared by majority Albanians, was “unforgivable” mistake and “another step in Islamization of Europe”.

He described Albanians as “known criminals and drug dealers”, saying Serbia had the right to expel them after 1998 rebellion.

But most commentators on Sebian web sites, though bitter over NATO bombing, said the last thing Serbs needed was to be defended by individuals like Breivik. “May God save us from such friends and peacemakers,” one commentator said.

“We will be lucky if they don’t bomb us again because of his statement,” said another commentator. “And if his grandfather, God forbid, turned out to be a Serb, we would really be in trouble,” he added.

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

North Africa

Lega Nord Leader Says War in Libya Will End in September

(AGI) Cuveglio — Umberto Bossi said “the war in Libya will end in mid-September 2011”, and claimed “Berlusconi was against it”. Speaking at a Lega Nord meeting in Cuveglio (Varese), Bossi said: “We spent one billion euro. It was the President of the Republic who wanted this war. Berlusconi would have never embarked on a war to drop a couple of bombs”.

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

The Power Elite and the Muslim Brotherhood

German political scientist Matthias Kuntzel in Islamic Anti-Semitism and Its Nazi Roots describes how the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) gave rise to the PLO’s Fatah, Al Qaeda, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad (Egyptian) and has its roots in Nazism. He relates that the concept of a Jihad against non-Muslims wasn’t basic to any Islamic doctrine until the 1930s, and “its concurrence with the arrival of a newly virulent anti-Semitism is verified in no uncertain terms.”

The MB in Egypt in the 1930s began to hold large demonstrations with slogans such as “Jews get out of Egypt and Palestine” and “Down with the Jews.” They also cheered the anti-Semitic violence of Amin al-Husseini’s followers in the Palestine Mandate area, with his followers using Nazi salutes and younger members wearing Hitler Youth uniforms.

Concerning Egypt today, Yaakov Lappin in the June 1, 2011 Jerusalem Post, claimed that the MB is using mosques as headquarters for its party branches, and that it is seeking to create a Sharia-based nation, according to Shabtai Shavit (former Mossad chief). Picking up on this, Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick in her June 3, 2011 article, “The real Egyptian revolution,” reveals that the MB is really “calling the shots” there, and that the military “see themselves as engines for a transition from [Hosni] Mubarek’s authoritarian secularism to the Brotherhood’s populist Islamism…. The military junta has embraced Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood…. Jihadists from Hamas, al-Qaeda and other groups are inundating the [Sinai] peninsula…. The Brotherhood is using its mosques as campaign offices. The message is clear: If you are good Muslim you will vote for the Muslim Brotherhood…. In all likelihood, in September the Brotherhood will contest and win the maj ority of the seats in the Egyptian Parliament…. They are invoking the strategies of the movement’s founder, Hassan al-Banna, for establishing an Islamic state. His strategy had three stages: indoctrination, empowerment and implementation. Al-Masry Al-Youm cites Khairat al-Shater, the Brotherhood’s ‘organizational architect,’ as having recently asserted that the Brotherhood is currently in the second stage and moving steadily towards the third stage…. Facing the prospect of a Muslim Brotherhood Egypt in September, Israel’s government must begin preparing both diplomatically and militarily for a new confrontation with Egypt.”

[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Caroline Glick: Squandering Israel’s Limited Influence

The past month has been a difficult one for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for the Palestinians (UNRWA). First Palestinians in Hamas-controlled Gaza held mass protests against the agency’s attempt to change its name to the United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees. Conspiracy theories claimed the name change was part of a secret plan to end the Palestinians’ refugee status so as to block their demand to “return” to Israel.

UNRWA officials explained repeatedly to the public and to Hamas terror masters that this was not the case. The agency’s devotion to the cause of “return” remained unchanged. The name change was just a bid to streamline their website to mark the agency’s 60th anniversary.

But to no avail. Within days, the name change was canceled.

But that didn’t end UNRWA’s problems. Last week, demonstrators returned to protest against the agency, this time for its cutbacks in benefits. Protesters blocked the entrance to UNRWA’s offices and generally frightened its employees…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Conservatism on the Rise in Turkey

A recent survey reflects little progress on the women’s issues in Turkey.

Both conservative and democratic values are being more widely adopted by Turkish society, according to a recent poll conducted as part of the World Values Survey.

“I do not have any findings that support the idea that [Turkish] people have become more religious in recent years; however six out of 10 people believe that we should involve more religious facts in our lives instead of science,” said Yilmaz Esmer from Bahçesehir University, who headed the team that conducted the survey.

In this year’s survey, 44 percent of respondents said restaurants should be closed during fasting periods in Ramadan, a belief held by 39 percent in the 2007 poll.

The survey also noted a high rate of people, 84 percent, saying they do not like the idea of having gay neighbors. According to the research, while ideological differences are not a big problem anymore, as they were in the early 1990s, race, religion and sexual orientation remain issues between neighbors.

According to Esmer, the survey also reflected little progress on women’s issues.

“Contrary to developed countries, the situation of women did not change in Turkey,” said Esmer, a member of the board of World Values Survey Association.

He said it was “humiliating” to present the data on women’s issues to conferences abroad, noting that support for the idea that men can marry more than one woman is accepted by 23 percent of the Turkish population, up from 10 percent in 1996.

According to the survey, not only men but also women support the idea of male dominance, which increases discrimination against women. Some 60 percent of survey participants, both male and female, said women should obey men, a rate that did not change in 15 years.

“The rate of people who say some women deserve to be beaten by their husbands was 19 percent in 1996, however that has increased by 14 percent,” Esmer said, adding that 70 percent of respondents said children may be damaged by their mothers working outside of the home.

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

South Asia

Afghanistan: Italian Soldier Killed in Fighting

Kabul, 25 July (AKI) — An Italian soldier was killed and two injured Monday in northwest Afghanistan during fighting with insurgents.

The soldiers were on a joint patrol with Afghan troops in the Bala Murghab valley when the fighting broke out, according to a statement by the Italian Defense Ministry.

Two Italian soldiers were injured in the fighting, with one wounds of one considered serious, according to the statement.

The attack brings to 41 the number of Italians who died in Afghanistan since their deployment in 2003. Italy has more than 4,000 troops taking part in the Nato coalition in Afghanistan.

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

Italy: Opposition Says Time to End Afghan Military Quagmire

(AGI) Rome — Vendola called for the end of Italy’s involvement in Afghanistan urging a reflection on the reasons behind it.

Commenting on today’s killing of 3 soldiers in Afghanistan, Nichi Vendola said “the right and proper words of condolence, even the most grieved ones, risk sounding false and increasingly cold, with each passing week, unless they are accompanied by a courageous reflection by Italian politicians on the reasons behind this military mission, its impact and failures, and unless a decision is made to put an end to the Afghan military quagmire “ . .

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

Italy: Calderoli Doubts About Afghan Mission, But Supports Bill

(AGI) Rome — Lega minister, Roberto Calderoli, confirmed his doubts about the Italian mission in Afghanistan. While expressing condolences for the death of Tobini, he announced in a statement: ‘On the issue of mission the Lega Nord has obtained the return of at least 2070 of our soldiers by the end of this year, a reduction in funding for international missions and the definition of the duration of the mission in Libya and thus, for this reason, and due to a sense of responsibility, I will vote for the decree to finance our military missions.” ..

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

The Drama of Farah Hatim, Common to Many Women in Pakistan

A 24 year old Christian kidnapped, forced to convert to Islam and marry her kidnapper. In court later she says it was voluntarily, to protect her family. Hundreds of similar cases occur every year in Pakistan, denounced by the commission for Justice and Peace.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) — Farah Hatim, a Christian woman of 24, resident in Yar Khan in southern Punjab, was abducted on 8 May by Zeehan Ilyas and his brothers Umran and Gulfam and was forced to convert and marry her kidnapper, The Catholic Church and human rights organizations have condemned the act and demanded action against this violation of human rights. The Justice and Peace Commission brought the case to court, and since then the police has been constantly threatening the girl’s family. Judge Khawaja Mir has transferred the case to the Supreme Court, because of the sensitivity of the matter. The appeal to the Supreme Court was presented by the Commission for Justice and Peace and the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA). The Supreme Court has asked the Bawalphur District Police Chief Rahim Yar Khan and families to appear in court July 20.

The judge asked if Farah Hatim was kidnapped, or went with Zeehan Ilyas of her own accord, and after some minutes of silence she replied: “Of my own will.” After a few more questions, the judge announced that Farah should remain with her new family. Farah Hatim burst into tears when the Court announced its decision. Farah Hatim was granted a few minutes to meet her old family. Farah’s brother said: “I am shocked by what Farah said in court. She was threatened, and all hope that she could return is gone. Why us? Why do we have to deal with it? Just because we are Christians? “.

According to the Committee for Justice and Peace, “Farah has become a victim of the prostitution racket. Zeeshan Iiyas tried to push her into prostitution when she was still a student at Sheikh Zaid Medical College, Rahim Yar Khan, but she refused. Zeehan Iiyas then took revenge. The current decision on Farah is possible because she is pregnant, and she fears that her family will be killed if she tries to return, and even if she had chosen the courageous path to return, she would not be accepted by society because she was kidnapped and raped. Fear of rejection is also a possible reason for her statements. “ The Justice and Peace Commission reports that “thousands of girls from minority communities are kidnapped and forced to marry. We are fighting against the cancer of abductions and forced marriages. “

Hatim’s family, has made desperate appeals to higher authorities, urging action, or laws against forced marriages and forced conversions. “We do not want this to happen to any other girl. We lost our sister, and our pain is great. We are targeted because we are a minority, so we ask the government not to abandon minorities,” appealed, Farhi’s elder brother, in tears, outside the courthouse.

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

Famine and Abundance Rub Shoulders in Ethiopia

While millions of people in the Horn of Africa suffer a terrible drought, foreign investors are harvesting tonnes of cereals to be exported to Asia and the Gulf states.

Kneeling in the middle of a sugar-cane field in blistering 40-degree Celsius heat, a young boy is digging up weeds. An Indian worker stands over him to make sure he doesn’t miss any. Red is eight years old and earns €0.83 (SFr0.96) for a day’s work, less than the cost of using pesticides.

The United Nations says 4.5 million people in Ethiopia are currently in need of aid as a result of a devastating drought. Three million are affected in Somalia, where there are pockets of famine, 3.5 million in Kenya and 120,000 people in Djibouti.

The humanitarian crisis threatens to become worse than the terrible 1984-85 famine which devastated the region and caused the deaths of a million people. Today most emergency food aid is imported.

Meanwhile, Indian tenant farmers are hoping to earn millions by exporting crops grown in Ethiopia. In the world’s twelfth poorest country the race for the country’s most productive agricultural land has only just begun and the social and environmental consequences are immeasurable.

“It’s still total wilderness here, but we will soon start growing sugar cane and palm oil,” explained Karmjeet Singh Sekhon as we drove through burning bush land in his Toyota 4x4.

The 68-year-old Indian investor is the manager of a huge farm, which covers an area of ??nearly 300,000 hectares in western Ethiopia, one of the biggest in the region.

Land rush

Since 2008 there has been an unprecedented rush to secure farmland in Africa, South America and Asia as a result of rises and fluctuations in prices of foodstuffs on world markets and food riots in a number of countries.

Countries including India, China and the Gulf states want to feed their own growing populations but are also looking to position themselves in the race to produce biofuels.

The World Bank says 45 million hectares of farmland were negotiated in 2009 — up from four million a year between 2006-2008. It is estimated that by 2030 another six million hectares will be leased annually in developing countries, two-thirds in sub-Saharan Africa and South America.

“Land acquisitions are a huge risk. The veil of secrecy that hangs over these deals must be lifted so that poor people do not pay the ultimate price and lose their land,” declared Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, managing director of the World Bank.


In Ethiopia 85 per cent of the 80 million population live off the land. But little has changed in the past 100 years and most of the barren fields are still worked using ox-drawn ploughs.

The government hopes that leasing farmland to foreign investors will lead to a wave of modernisation.

According to the Rome-based UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), food production needs a 70 per cent boost between 2010 and 2050 to meet global needs.

Investors seem to have woken up to this fact, however. Agricultural groups like Karuturi Global are blooming. The firm, owned by Ramakrishna Karuturi, is the world’s largest rose producer and wants to become the number one agricultural business. And the Ethiopian government should help.

All Ethiopian land belongs to the state, which hopes to dedicate three-quarters of it to agriculture in the years ahead. This remains an ambitious target as so far only 3.6 million hectares, mainly in the west, has been leased to investors. But with one hectare of land only costing SFr5 a year to rent the situation could change rapidly…

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


EU Says France and Italy Didn’t Violate Schengen

(AGI) Brussels — The decisions made by France and Italy to deal with the immigration emergency didn’t violate the Schengen treaty. The EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmstrom, said the steps taken by France and Italy to tackle the immigration emergency, following popular unrest in several North African countries, were in compliance with EU law, at least “from a formal point of view”. Malmstrom, however, regrets “that the spirit of the Schengen rules has not been fully respected”. According to the Commissioner, the implementation of such rules should always be ensured “in a spirit of solidarity and mutual trust”.

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