Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110816

Financial Crisis
»Chinese Rating Agency Chief: ‘The Whole World Will be in Danger’
»EU: Central Bank Buys Record €22bn of Eurobonds in Bid to Contain Debt Crisis
»Italy: Call to ‘Legalise Prostitution’ To Counter Crisis
»Italy: Milan Shares Tumble on Weak German GDP
»Italy: Austerity Budget Heads to Senate
»Italy: National Welfare and Pensions Agency Recoups €345mln of Unpaid Contributions From Jan-June
»Italy: Milan Stock Exchange Closes Down After Poor German GDP Data
»Merkel: Sarkozy Call for European Economic Government
»Netherlands: Parliament Debates Euro Crisis; Government Discusses More Power to EU
»Spain: Economy Slows: Zapatero Readying New Cuts
»Rural Council: It’s About Control
Europe and the EU
»2011 England Riots: Statistics of Ethnicity
»Ireland: Traveller Wins Discrimination Case
»Italy: Heat Wave From Africa to Hit Italy This Weekend
»Replacing Mario Draghi: Rome Squabbles Over New Banca D’italia Head
»UK: Gangs at Centre of London Riots
»UK: Oxford Law Graduate ‘Threw Bricks at Police’ And Sons of a Evangelist Minister ‘Stole From Supermarket’ During Looting
»UK: Two Facebook Users Who Urged People to Join in Riots Online Are Jailed for Four Years
North Africa
»Tunisia: Lawyer: Surrender to Judges on Porn Site Ban
Israel and the Palestinians
»Archaeology: 2nd Century AD Hercules Statue Found
»Caroline Glick: The Left’s Faustian Bargain
»Protests: Knesset Holds Extraordinary Session
Middle East
»Bahrain: Commission on Repression Closes Office to Public
»Campaign to Collect Trees for Palestinian Farms
»Syria: PLO Denounces Crimes Against Humanity
»Two Iranian Women Risk Death for Apostasy From Islam
South Asia
»Pakistan: More Deadly Violence Erupts in Southern City of Karachi
Far East
»China’s First Space Lab Tiangong 1 May Launch Soon
»280 Land on Lampedusa, Over 2000 During Weekend
»280 Refugees Reach Lampedusa
»Hundreds of Migrants Land on Lampedusa
»Lampedusa Witnesses Landing of a Further 200-Odd Migrants
»Malta: Tear-Gas Used to Quell Migrants’ Protest
»Over 2,500 Migrants Land on Southern Italian Island
»UK Population Grows at Twice EU Average: Migrant Baby Boom Fuels 400,000 Rise in One Year
»UK: Is This the Moment the British Public Finally Had Enough?
»UK: Immigration Officer Comes Home to Find Family of Romanian Gypsies Squatting in Her House, Wearing Her Clothes and Drinking Her Wine
»UK: So What Does it Take to Deport a Criminal? Judge Cuts Drug-Dealing Migrant’s Sentence So He Won’t Get Kicked Out
Culture Wars
»UK: Starkey Racism Row: It is the Political Elite’s Ceaseless Denigration of White Working-Class Culture That Has ‘Turned Kids Black’
»Hacking the System, Because He Could

Financial Crisis

Chinese Rating Agency Chief: ‘The Whole World Will be in Danger’

The head of state-owned Chinese rating agency Dagong, Guan Jianzhong, 57, speaks to SPIEGEL about China’s economic model, why he believes the rating system used by the Big Three is a threat to the world and the twilight of Western dominance.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt[Return to headlines]

EU: Central Bank Buys Record €22bn of Eurobonds in Bid to Contain Debt Crisis

Frankfurt, 16 August (AKI) — The European Central Bank has announced it spent a record €22 billion euros buying euro-zone government bonds last week in a bid to prevent the eurozone debt crisis escalating out of control.

The central bank’s bond-buying spree is came amid debate on the creation of eurobonds, a move favoured by Italy’s finance minister Giulio Tremonti and his British counterpart George Osborne.

Eurobonds are staunchly opposed by European heavyweight Germany. Berlin argues eurobonds would encourage lax fiscal policy in heavily indebted states which include Italy and raise the borrowing costs of Germany and other countries currently considered a safe bet by markets .

Last week’s bond purchases were the biggest made by the ECB since it first began bond-buying in May last year in response to the Greek debt crisis.

German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Nicolas Sarkozy were due to meet in Paris on Tuesday to draft “fresh proposals” on the governance of the eurozone.

The eurozone insolvency crisis has been threatening to spread to Italy and Spain — the zone’s third and fourth biggest economies. It has caused turbulence in financial markets in recent weeks as investors fear the two countries’ high cost of borrowing could cause them to default on their debt repayments.

Under pressure from the ECB, Italy and Spain last week rolled out fresh austerity measures to mend their ailing public finances.

Italy’s prresident Giorgio Napolitano on Saturday signed an emergency decree introducing sweeping austerity measures to cut the fiscal deficit by some 45.5 billion euros and balance the budget in 2013, a year ahead of its previous schedule.

The measures were branded ‘iniquitous’ by trade unions, who have threatened a general strike. Criticism also came from economists and business leaders, who said the spending cuts and tax measures and penalised the middle classes and failed to boost growth and combat Italy’s endemic problem of tax evasion, especially by the wealthy.

The austerity decree must be passed by parliament within two months, during which it will almost certainly be amended by lawmakers.

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

Italy: Call to ‘Legalise Prostitution’ To Counter Crisis

‘Up to 100,000 working illegally’ says mayor

(ANSA) — Altopascio, August 16 — The mayor of the small Tuscan town of Altopascio has found a unique solution to counter the Italy’s economic crisis — the legalisation of prostitution.

Maurizio Marchetti, from Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party, said while debate continues over the government’s proposed cutbacks, it is time to say “enough hypocrisy” and legalise prostitution. In a statement Marchetti has proposed “the creation of red light districts with greater restrictions, with health and financial controls and public management of the proceeds”.

“Today this is a totally illegal industry where you see employment of between 70,000 and 100,000 people, according to estimates,” he said.

“I can already imagine the criticism, but I am asking everyone — is it moral for a person to work illegally earning 10,000 euros a month and feeding a criminal underworld, while there are people who are working honestly and cannot get to the end of the month?” he said.

“In every case, if you believe it cannot be legalised, then we should make prostitution a crime. I do not see any other way”. Prostitution is not illegal in Italy but profiting from the sex trade is against the law.

On Friday the government announced a new round of austerity measures totalling around 45 billion euros in a bid to balance the budget by 2013.

Measures include the abolition of 29 of Italy’s 110 provincial governments and the merger of thousands of councils in towns that have fewer than 1,000 inhabitants, as well as a new wealth tax on incomes higher than 90,000 euros. Berlusconi explained that due to instability created by recent market speculation on Italian bonds, it was imperative to move forward Italy’s goal of balancing the budget from 2014 to 2013.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Milan Shares Tumble on Weak German GDP

Losses reduced on release of US output data

(ANSA) — Rome, August 16 — Share prices on Italian and other European exchanges took a beating Tuesday on news that the German economy, Europe’s largest, grew much less than expected in the second quarter of 2011.

The situation improved later in the day after the US reported a stronger-than-expected increase in industrial output and the Fitch ratings agency confirmed the country’s AAA rating.

It followed Standard & Poors’ shock decision this month to downgrade the US for the first time in 70 years and that sent markets into a tailspin.

Output in the US was up 0.9% in July which was its biggest gain of the year and almost twice what pundits had expected.

After falling by more than 3% in early trading, Milan’s benchmark FTSE Mib index closed the day down 0.87% at 15,750 points.

Elsewhere in Europe, London was able to inch into the black with a gain of 0.13% to close at 5,357.63 points.

Germany’s GDP in the second quarter rose by only 0.1%, lower than an expected rise of 0.5% and compared to a 1.3% increase in the first quarter.

This lowered the GDP for the full 17-nation euro area which rose by 0.2% in the first three months of the year, compared to a 0.8% quarterly jump in the first quarter, the lowest rise since the end of the recession in 2009.

Fiat shares were down sharply due to indications that it would not meet its sales targets in the US for its trendy 500 city car because of delays in opening showrooms.

Energy stocks also suffered due to the so-called ‘Robin tax’, named after Robin Hood, on windfall profits in the energy sector included in the Italian government’s new austerity package aimed at eliminating the deficit by 2013.

The distribution company SNAM Rete Gas, for example, fell as much as 12% However, Citigroup on Tuesday issued a study which concluded that the ‘Robin tax’ would have only a modest effect on companies in the energy sector.

Double-digit losses in the energy sector were offset by gains in the banking sector with Intesa up over 3.7%, Banca Popolare Milano gaining almost 4% and Mediobanca up 3.5%.

Market attention is now focused on Tuesday’s meeting in Paris between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel from which operators expect some clear signal on dealing with the current market crisis.

There is speculation that Germany may drop its opposition to the issuing of ‘eurobonds’ which would be backed by all 17 countries using the single European currency. Germany’s coalition government appears split over the eurobond with Merkel’s Christians Democrats opposed, although this position is not shared by all in the party, while the Social Democrats are more open to the idea.

Supporters of the eurobond argue that a single bond would appeal to investors more than 17 separate bonds and a single debt would be more sustainable than a mixture of national debts.

This would be good for countries like Italy but not for Germany.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Austerity Budget Heads to Senate

Berlusconi says government willing to amend bill

(ANSA) — Rome, August 16 — The government’s austerity budget package will be officially presented in the Senate on Wednesday and floor debate on the measures should begin on Monday, after they are examined by the constitutional affairs and budget committees.

The measures, which include spending cuts, welfare reforms and a ‘solidarity tax’ on higher earnings, aim to raise 20 billion euros in 2012 and 25 billion euros in 2013 in order to balance the budget in two years’ time, instead of 2014 as originally envisioned by the government.

Italy bowed to pressure from the European Central Bank and other European Union states, in particular Germany and France, and agreed to move quicker to tackle its budget deficit after the country came under speculative attacks due to doubts over its ability to pay its sovereign debt.

The measures in the budget decree, which takes immediate effect but must be approved by parliament within 60 days, include cuts to ministerial budgets, state contributions to regional and local government budgets, minor pension reforms, standardization of the tax rates applied to financial gains, tax increases for annual earnings over 90,000 euros, a reduction in the number of provincial governments, municipalities and government-funded agencies and foundations, and some structural reforms, including the privatization of local utilities and the deregulation of certain areas of the economy, in order to boost growth.

The government also wants to push through a constitutional amendment to make balancing the national budget obligatory.

At present there is no proposal to increase value-added tax (VAT) because this could risk depressing spending and growth, with the Italian economy already struggling.

In response to protests and criticism of the draft package, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said at the weekend that the measures could be modified in parliament as long as the final target of raising 45 billion euros is achieved.

Berlusconi is already facing pressure within his own People of Freedom (PdL) party and from coalition partner the Northern League over the budget measures, while opposition parties have vowed to modify the package in parliament to make it more ‘equal’.

Northern League leader Umberto Bossi, who holds the portfolio for reform in the government, who said that bowing to pressure from Europe by adopting a tough package was “an unmistakable sign of the end of Italy… either we make the cuts or Europe will kill us”.

However, Bossi, who has never disguised his separatist sympathies, brushed aside complaints from some party members about the decree and said he did not see any risk of rifts within the government or early elections.

Members of Berlusconi’s PdL party in the northwest coastal region of Liguria have voiced their opposition to the suspension of some national holidays, saying that this will seriously hurt the tourism sector.

On Tuesday a report was issued specifying the effect of some of the measures in the austerity package. The three-year ‘solidarity tax’, an additional 5% on income over 90,000 euros and 10% over 150,000 euros, is expected to generate a total of more than 3.8 billion euros over a three-year period: 674.4 million euros in 2012, 1.557 billion euros in 2013 and 1.586 billion euros in 2014.

Standardizing the tax rate at 20% for all earnings on financial investments, except on treasury bonds which will remain at 12.5%, should produce 1.919 billion euros for the state once it comes up to full speed in 2014. Next year it is expected to amount to 1.494 billion euros and in 2013 this should rise to 1.724 billion euros.

An additional ‘robin tax’, for ‘Robin Hood’ tax, on windfall profits made in the energy sector is expected to produce 1.88 billion euros in revenue in 2012 and some 900 million euros in 2013 and 2014, the study said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: National Welfare and Pensions Agency Recoups €345mln of Unpaid Contributions From Jan-June

Rome, 16 August (AKI) — Italy’s public pension and health insurance fund INPS recovered 345 million euros of dodged contributions and uncovered 29,000 people working illegally during the first half of 2011, the agency said on Tuesday.

“INPS is continuing to inspect the labour market with great vigilance,” said the fund’s president Antonio Mastrapasqua.

“This fact is shown by the greater-than-forecast efficiency in the inspections — 0.5 percent more workers discovered with unpaid contributions — and 6.2 percent more of these unpaid contributions for illegal workers recovered ,” he said.

INPS said it carried out over 30,000 inspections from January to June.

The country’s rampant tax evasion is estimated to cost the country anything from a quarter to multiples of Italy’s annual output or gross domestic product.

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

Italy: Milan Stock Exchange Closes Down After Poor German GDP Data

Milan, 16 August (AKI) — Italy’s FTSE MIB leading-stock index slid 0.87 percent to 15,750 points on Tuesday in Milan after the German economy, Europe’s largest, almost stalled in the second quarter as the region’s sovereign-debt crisis weighed on confidence.

Most European stocks fell, as the economies of the euro area and Germany grew at a slower-than-estimated pace. The benchmark Stoxx 600 slid 0.1 percent to 237.56 at the 4:30 p.m. close in London as three stocks dropped for every one that climbed. The gauge has tumbled 18 percent since this year’s high on Feb. 17 amid concern that global economic growth is faltering.

Germany’s gross domestic product, adjusted for seasonal effects, rose 0.1 percent from the first quarter, when it jumped a revised 1.3 percent, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said Tuesday. Economists had forecast growth of 0.5 percent, according to the median of 33 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. From a year earlier, GDP increased 2.8 percent.

The worse-than-expected GDP data from Germany, which had been powering euro-area growth, add to signs Europe is flirting with a renewed economic slump as the debt crisis curbs spending across the region.

Growth in the 17-nation euro region slowed to 0.2 percent in the second quarter from 0.8 percent in the first, the European Union’s statistics office Istat said Tuesday. Economists had forecast growth of 0.3 percent, a Bloomberg survey shows.

In New York, the Dow Jones index sliopped 0.88 percent within half an hour of the start of trading on Wall Street Tuesday despite Fitch Ratings reaffirming its triple A long-term credit rating for the US and positive industrial output data for the world’s largest economy.

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

Merkel: Sarkozy Call for European Economic Government

The leaders of Germany and France are proposing collective governance for the euro zone led by the European Union president.

Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy announced the proposal Tuesday after meeting in Paris, as new figures showed economic growth in the region all but stalled even before last week’s turmoil on the financial markets.

Sarkozy said he and Merkel want a “true European economic government” that would consist of the heads of state and government of all eurozone nations.

The leaders are also pushing all 17 nations that use the euro to enshrine balanced budgets in their constitutions.

The new body would meet twice a year and be led by EU President Herman Van Rompuy.

Economists attribute much of that turmoil to Europe’s failure to come up with a convincing plan to deal with massive government debts.

Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics office, reported that the combined economies of the 17 countries that use the euro eked out meagre growth of 0.2 per cent in the second quarter.

Previously robust expansion in Germany and France — which make up nearly half of the region’s output — almost ground to a halt.

Growth rate was well short of the 0.8 per cent recorded in the first quarter, largely due to an abrupt slowdown in Germany.

Germany’s economy has helped support the eurozone through the government debt crisis. Its world-renowned companies have tapped export markets all around the world, particularly in faster-growing emerging countries.

The downbeat growth news weighed on markets, with major North American and European markets lower .

Crude oil futures fell by as much as 2.6 per cent and investors seeking refuge in gold pushed the December contract up $23.40, or 1.3 per cent, to $1,781.40 US an ounce as Merkel and Sarkozy talked.

Europe’s slowing growth prospects complicate the debt crisis, because slower growth makes it even harder for governments to shrink debt and to serve as creditors and back increased bailouts.

It also shrinks potential export markets for countries, like Greece, mired in recession.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Parliament Debates Euro Crisis; Government Discusses More Power to EU

The government is prepared to give core responsibility for economic policy to the European Union in Brussels as the only way to stabilise the eurozone, the Algemeen Dagblad reports following a meeting on Monday evening between prime minister Mark Rutte, deputy prime minister Maxime Verhagen, finance minister Jan Kees de Jager and social affairs minister Henk Kamp.

This would include the setting up of a European institute to intervene in member states before a crisis erupted. Countries would be placed under guardianship if a majority of leaders agreed, says the AD.

Emergency debate

Parliament meets later on Tuesday for an emergency debate on the eurozone debt crisis, the rescue package for Greece and Rutte’s explanation of why he got wrong the amount the package will cost.

MPs want to know why Rutte said the package was worth €109bn when other EU leaders said the deal involved &euro159bn.

The prime minister has already apologised for his mistake saying he had used a different ‘approach’ when announcing the size of the deal after the eurozone leaders’ meeting in July. But MPs are concerned he is not showing enough leadership.

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

Spain: Economy Slows: Zapatero Readying New Cuts

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, AUGUST 16 — Not only the German economy but also its Spanish counterpart saw a slowdown in growth in the second quarter at 0.2% of GDP, a tenth less than in the first quarter according to the figures released today by the national statistics institute. On the year GDP rose in April by 0.7% compared with the 0.8% seen in the first three months of the year. However, apart from a slight deceleration, the Spanish economy has seen three consecutive quarters on the rise compared with the negative data last year, and is in line with the “slight recovery” forecast by the Bank of Spain in its latest economic newsletter.

The latter is due in part to a drop in national demand (-0.2% in the second quarter compared with the previous one), in a context marked by “a worsening crisis for eurozone sovereign debt”. The overseer reports that the negative trend in the labour market with about 5 million jobless combined with a drop in household income makes for a less-than-favourable context for household spending and investment.

A slowdown has also been seen in industry turnover, which rose in June by 5.1% compared with the same month in 2010, but by three and a half points less than the increase seen in May (8.6%), according to INE data. In any case, industry turnover is experiencing a positive trend with rises over the past 18 consecutive months. With markets volatile, the Spanish treasury has today placed 5.695 billion euros in 12 and 18-month bonds in the first auction held after the Central European Bank’s acquisition of Spanish and Italian bonds worth 22 billion euros on the secondary debt market, which decreased the risk differential for both countries. The public body today placed 12-month bonds worth 4.154 billion euros at a marginal interest rate of 3.4%, compared with the 3.76% in the previous auction, and 18-month bonds worth 1.541 billion at a 3.65% interest rate, compared with the 3.98% previously. The economic crisis and the attacks on Spanish debt over the past few days has forced Prime Minister Jose’ Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to give up most of his holiday. After a brief August 15 break in the natural park of Doñana in Andalusia, Zapatero has returned today to government offices to prepare for the special Council of Ministers meeting scheduled for Friday August 19, which is to approve further measures for deficit reduction, with cuts to pharmaceutical spending and an advance payment on company taxes for ensure administrative liquidity.

On Friday Zapaptero also plans to meet with the Pope, who on Thursday August 18 will be arriving in Madrid for the 12th World Youth Day, for which events have been scheduled starting today and lasting until Sunday in the capital.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Rural Council: It’s About Control

Al Gore was beside himself when the Senate failed to ratify the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1994. Gore had spent the first two years of his Vice-Presidency developing what he called his “Ecosystem Management Policy.” This new policy was nothing more than preparing the agencies of government to implement the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and Agenda 21. These three policy documents were adopted in Rio de Janeiro at the 1992 U.N. Conference on Environment and Development.

Agenda 21 was the only document that was not an international treaty. It was, instead, a non-binding “soft-law” document that was designed to avoid the necessity of Congressional debate or Senate ratification. Bill Clinton issued an Executive Order to create the President’s Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD) — especially to implement Agenda 21 administratively — without oversight or interference from Congress. The agencies of government have done a masterful job of infecting almost all urban communities with some form of government control under the guise of “Sustainable Development,” which is the objective of Agenda 21.

Now, the Obama regime intends to impose the same kind of control over rural America through his White House Rural Council, also created by Executive Order.

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

2011 England Riots: Statistics of Ethnicity

Very short summary:

1) Over 50% rioters are black, below 30% are white (CCTV in 2)

2) Black people are 10-65 times more likely to participate in riots than whites (CCTV, data in 2)

2) High unemployment in London -> riots? (map in 1D)

3) Black areas -> riots? (map in 1A)

4) Low social class != riots, low training !=riots (maps in 1B, 1C)

5) Black areas = high unemployment (map in 1E-2)

6) High unemployment + black areas = riots (maps in 3E)

7) High unemployment + non-black areas = no riots (maps in 1E, map in 3B)

8) Average or low unemployment + black areas (rare) = riots, but fewer (map in 1E-2)


The media seem to focus exclusively on the social class of the August rioters, while claiming the absence of a large ethnocultural undercurrent. There is an excessive concentration on ‘chavs’ or ‘yobs’, who are understood to be white. However, chavs form but a minority of rioters and looters, while the disproportionate majority is Black African and Afro-Caribbean. This will be illustrated below using authoritative sources, in three arguments.

1. Distribution of ethnicity and other factors in London. I will show the distribution of riots and addresses of the arrested on the following maps of London: a. Black African and Afro-Caribbean population; b. Education, skills and training; c. Social class; d. Unemployment; e. Combined map of ethnicity and unemployment.

No significant correlation was found on B and C. D and especially A show a stronger correlation. However, that may be because of a large tie between A and D. The best result is with E, which predicts riots with formidable precision.

2. Ethnicity of riot suspects on police CCTV by percentage. I will examine all available photographs on the official police CCTV sources to determine the ethnic make-up of rioters. I will then compare the proportions of ethnicities to the total population.

Photographs show that most (over 50%) rioters were black even in areas with a small black population, such as Bristol. There is a vast overrepresentation of Black British among rioters in comparison to their total percentage in a city. Their likelihood of participating in riots in comparison to whites is more than 10 times higher.

3. Black population and chance of riots in London boroughs and large settlements. I will substantiate the preceding arguments with additional data showing: a. London boroughs by black population and riots; b. 20 largest settlements, their black population and riots; c. Unemployment and riots alongside the list of the largest settlements.

This shows that black population is greatly indicative of the chances of riots both in London boroughs and in settlements. The total size of the settlement does seem to influence the chance of riots, as in the case of Nottingham or Glasgow. Albeit in London unemployment was found to have a fairly strong correlation with the riots, that is not the case with the UK. Many non-rioting areas had very high unemployment (parts of Scotland, NE England, S. Wales, N. Ireland, etc.), but all of them had a minor black population.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Ireland: Traveller Wins Discrimination Case

A traveller who claimed she was asked to leave a branch of the maternity and childcare shop Mothercare by a male member of staff has been awarded €1,500 by the Equality Tribunal.

Mothercare Ireland Ltd had said it had no male employees in the store and that the incident never happened.

Margaret Connors said she was refused service and asked to leave the shop in the Carrickmines Retail Park, Dublin, and could see no other reason for this action other than she was a member of the Travelling community.

Ms Connors claimed she went to the shop with her brother and four children in November 2009 to buy a present when she was approached by a man in “casual clothing” who asked her to leave.

When she asked for a reason, a woman in store uniform joined the man and also asked Ms Connors to leave. Ms Connors asked the woman for a reason and claims she was told “we do not need to give you a reason”.

She said she and her family left the shop feeling “humiliated” and that her eight-year-old daughter was particularly upset by the incident.

Mothercare denied the incident took place and said it had no male members of staff at the store at the time. It was informed about the alleged incident through Ms Connors’s solicitor in January 2010. It subsequently questioned its staff who said they knew nothing about it, the company told the tribunal.

Equality officer Tara Coogan, who chaired the tribunal, said Ms Connors and Mothercare gave “honest accounts of their version of events”.

She found the company did not take the allegation seriously enough and did not give consideration to the possibility that a male employee from outside the Carrickmines branch was visiting the store.

Ms Coogan found Ms Connors was a credible witness and she had been discriminated against.

In another case, a Chechen Muslim woman was also awarded €1,500 for discrimination after she was asked to leave a shoe shop. Khedi Bisayeva said she had been mistaken for a Roma because of her traditional national dress.

Ms Bisayeva said she was in Pavers shoe shop in the Westend Retail Centre in Blanchardstown in March 2009 when she was told to leave by members of the centre’s security staff. A security supervisor told the tribunal that Ms Bisayeva had been involved in a previous incident in another store, where she had been suspected of trying to steal clothes.

Equality officer Elaine Cassidy found this accusation to be false and found Ms Bisayeva was discriminated against on the grounds of her race.

In an employment equality case, the tribunal awarded more than €14,000 to a woman who was made redundant from her job in a restaurant when she became pregnant.

The tribunal found Jevgenija Petrakova had been discriminated against by Lexor Entertainment Ltd on gender grounds. No representatives of the company attended the hearing.

           — Hat tip: McR[Return to headlines]

Italy: Heat Wave From Africa to Hit Italy This Weekend

(AGI) Rome — A heat from Africa is about to hit Italy with temperatures rising at the weekend to 37-38 degrees Celsius (98.6 to 100.4 Fahrenheit) in the cities and 33 degrees (91.4 Fahrenheit) on the coast. High temperatures are also expected in higher elevations. Relief up north will have to wait until Thursday, August 25, while in the center-south the weather will stay muggy until the end of the month.

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

Replacing Mario Draghi: Rome Squabbles Over New Banca D’italia Head

One might think the Italian government had better things to worry about. But Rome has been bickering for weeks over who should replace Mario Draghi as governor of the Italian central bank. The row is causing uncertainty at a time when Italy desperately needs to regain the faith of financial markets.

The Italian economy is paralyzed, the country’s level of public debt is alarmingly high and the rating agencies are concerned about the prospect of Italy requiring an European Union bailout. The country could therefore use a little breather. But what are Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his cabinet up to? They have ignited an embarrassing dispute over one of the country’s most important jobs: the position of governor of the Banca d’Italia, the country’s central bank.

In November, the incumbent governor, Mario Draghi, 63, is heading to the European Central Bank (ECB), where he will take over from Jean-Claude Trichet as president. Hence Rome needs to quickly find another cool head to lead Italy’s central bank, someone who would calm the markets and stimulate the economy. Instead, Berlusconi and his colleagues are blithely engaging in the usual intrigues.

The wrangling over the top job is so nerve-racking that Italian President Giorgio Napolitano recently felt obliged to intervene. “Political power plays and personal differences” could not be allowed to damage the country’s central bank or the ECB, he said. There has certainly been enough scandal associated with the central bank in the past. Draghi’s predecessor, Antonio Fazio, had to resign in late 2005 as part of a bribery affair. He was sentenced to four years in prison and a €1.5 million ($2.16 million) fine in May of this year.

If it was up to Italian Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti, Vittorio Grilli would be the new head of the Banca d’Italia, a choice supported by many European experts. The 54-year-old head of the Treasury in Rome has already rendered outstanding services on the EU stage. Accordingly, Berlusconi is under pressure to choose Grilli. But when it comes to filling top jobs, things are never that easy in Italy.

Berlusconi has someone else in mind for the post: Lorenzo Bini Smaghi. The reason is that Bini Smaghi is a member of the ECB’s executive board. When Draghi was chosen to succeed France’s Jean-Claude Trichet as head of the ECB, it suddenly raised the prospect of having two Italians in the bank’s inner sanctum, but no French representative. For Paris, the idea was intolerable.

But Berlusconi cannot simply dismiss Bini Smaghi. Members of the ECB’s executive board are appointed for eight years and are not subordinate to their home governments…

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

UK: Gangs at Centre of London Riots

Hundreds of London gang members were at the centre of last week’s violence and looting, the Standard reveals today. One in four suspects arrested is in a gang or “affiliated” to one, according to figures from the Met. Younger gang members carried TVs and other goods to leaders in cars and there are reports of gangs orchestrating the first riots in Tottenham.

The extent of their involvement comes after David Cameron pledged to “wage war” on gangs. It came as:

Theresa May revealed police could get new curfew powers and establish “no-go” areas.

A 16-year-old boy appeared in court charged with the murder of Richard Bowes who tried to put out a fire in Ealing.

Two sons of an Evangelist minister were charged with looting.

Carphone Warehouse became the latest big business to back the Standard’s Save Our Shops appeal.

Police monitoring Twitter and the BlackBerry messaging system last week thwarted planned attacks on the Olympic site, the Westfield shopping centre and Oxford Street.

The Met has arrested a total of 1,685 people for offences linked to the disorder, of whom 985 have been charged. Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin said an analysis of the backgrounds of suspects detained so far showed that around “20 to 25 per cent” were “gang affiliates”. Mr Godwin’s figure means that about 420 of those held so far are suspected gang members. Police figures in 2006 suggested there were 169 street gangs in London but the figure is expected to have grown significantly since then. Detectives believe that gangs also helped to organise some of the initial rioting in Tottenham and the subsequent disturbances elsewhere in the capital. The Home Secretary vowed to support police if they adopted more robust tactics to deal with any future disorder. Mrs May also announced that ministers would consider plans to introduce new curfew powers which would bar whole communities, rather than just individuals, from going out at night.

Curfew powers, which currently only apply to adults, could also be extended to juveniles. In a further swipe at police leadership, Mrs May also said that too many chief constables had been assessed on “whether they ticked boxes” and hit government targets and that she now wanted to see “single-minded crime fighters” running forces instead. She added that the need to appoint a new Met Commissioner swiftly, with the Olympics looming, meant that there was no time to rewrite the law to allow overseas police chiefs such as Bill Bratton to apply and insisted that she was convinced that a “tough crime fighter” from Britain could be found to lead the Met. She also disclosed that new guidance on handling riots will be drawn up by HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Denis O’Connor, in a bid to ensure that police are able to respond more effectively to any future disorder.

In his speech yesterday, Mr Cameron promised to launch “a concerted, all-out war on gangs and gang culture” which he called “a major criminal disease that has infected streets and estates across our country” in the wake of nation-wide rioting. He said that measures to address the problem included a National Citizen Service for school leavers to work in their communities.

Today a 16-year-old boy appeared in court charged with the murder of Richard Bowes, 68, who sustained serious head injuries when he was attacked near his home in Ealing. The suspect’s 31-year-old mother was also appearing at Croydon magistrates’ court this morning charged with perverting the course of justice. The boy, from Hounslow, has also been charged with violent disorder and four counts of burglary. He was remanded in custody. The court was told that CCTV footage captured the teenager striking Mr Bowes with “the fatal blow”. Prosecuting lawyer John Gardner said the pensioner was seen walking from his home in Spring Bridge Road to the shopping centre that was being ransacked by looters on the Broadway when he was attacked. He was seen being “challenged” by youths as he went to try to put out a fire in a bin. Mr Gardner said: “He was punched in the face once, fell backwards, hit his head on the pavement and lay motionless after being thrown to the ground. The prosecution say it was this suspect who struck the fatal blow.” Mr Gardner said that following the punch Mr Bowes never regained consciousness

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Oxford Law Graduate ‘Threw Bricks at Police’ And Sons of a Evangelist Minister ‘Stole From Supermarket’ During Looting

An Oxford law graduate hurled bricks at police officers in broad daylight during London’s riots last week, a court heard, while two sons of an evangelist minister have been accused of looting from an Iceland in Croydon.

Fahim Wahid Alam, 25, is accused of joining a mob that attacked police in Hackney at the height of the riots on Monday afternoon and Sam and Michael Caillaux targeted the supermarket at the height of the chaos.

Alam, who also has a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics, attacked police as he walked home from a job interview with the London Civic Forum, Highbury Corner magistrates’ court heard yesterday.

The group works to promote ‘healthy communities’ and an ‘inclusive civil society’ — and strongly condemns the riots on its website.

The Caillaux brothers’ father, Remi, is the head of several charities and travels the globe preaching the word of God.

The pair live in Purley, South London, and appeared in court charged with burglary.

While Samuel, 20, did not enter a plea, Michael, 18, indicated that he would plead not guilty and they will both face magistrates in Camberwell today.

Their father told the Daily Mirror: ‘I have just come back from Ghana to London and I haven’t seen them yet. I need to find out what happened.’

Alam is alleged to have thrown two bricks at police officers, one of which hit a constable on the leg, during almost three hours of disorder outside Hackney Town Hall. He was arrested later that evening.

Police on Mare Street came under attack from bricks, bottles, and fireworks in one of the worst clashes witnessed in the capital during three days of rioting.

Alam claimed he had not taken part in the riot and was on the street because it was the only way he could walk to his grandmother’s house.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Two Facebook Users Who Urged People to Join in Riots Online Are Jailed for Four Years

Two Facebook users who tried to kickstart mob violence during last week’s riots were each jailed for four years yesterday.

Perry Sutcliffe, 22, and Jordan Blackshaw, 20, were locked up even though their ‘chilling’ plans to go on the rampage came to nothing.

In a separate development a judge in Manchester tore up normal sentencing rules and said any adults involved in rioting should expect to go lose their liberty for a ‘significant period’.

Judge Andrew Gilbart, QC, unveiled a sliding scale of tariffs under which riot leaders will be jailed for at least eight years, burglars who broke into shops to steal for between four and seven years, and arsonists between three and seven years.

Even those who claimed they found stolen goods abandoned on the street should be jailed for up to four years, he said. The sentences were longer than for similar offences committed ‘in isolation’ because of the need to send a message about the consequences of such ‘outbursts of criminal behaviour’.

Jailing three men for their part in last week’s mayhem, Judge Gilbart made a furious attack on rioters for undoing Manchester’s efforts to rebuild after the IRA bomb that tore through the city centre in 1996.

As Judge Gilbart made his comments, a few miles away at Chester Crown Court Judge Elgan Edwards was making an example of Facebook plotters Sutcliffe and Blackshaw.

The court was told that in separate incidents they set up pages on social networking sites at the height of last week’s violence calling on others to join them in causing trouble in Cheshire.

Unemployed landscape gardener Sutcliffe, who has just one previous conviction, created a Facebook page entitled ‘The Warrington Riots’ and urged 400 friends to join him in creating mayhem.

Petty criminal Blackshaw created an event called ‘Smash Down in Northwich Town’ and invited 147 people to gather at a McDonald’s in the centre of the historic town for a looting spree. Both pages were quickly spotted by the police and taken down before any violence occurred.

But the sentences — which are tougher than many handed out to muggers, sex attackers and killer drivers — are fresh evidence that judges are determined to reflect public demands for the strictest possible punishments.

Judge Edwards, the Recorder of Chester, branded both men ‘evil’.

He sentenced Blackshaw, who admitted a charge of arranging an event capable of encouraging the commission of offences including burglary, criminal damage and riot, to four years in a young offenders institution.

The judge told him: ‘This happened at a time when collective insanity gripped the nation. Your conduct was quite disgraceful. You sought to take advantage of crime elsewhere and transpose it to the peaceful streets of Northwich.’

Sutcliffe admitted a charge of organising an event capable of assisting in the commission of an offence, namely riot.

Judge Edwards told him: ‘You caused a very real panic and you put a very considerable strain on police resources in Warrington. You changed your mind and posted a retraction but it does not change the evil of the offences.’

Meanwhile in London yesterday, the 17-year-old daughter of a doctor was told she could face a lengthy jail sentence after she admitted taking a bottle of Lucozade from Poundland in Peckham during the riots.

The churchgoing youngster, whose mother is a nurse, faced Camberwell Magistrates Court after handing herself in.

Robust sentences for looters were defended by former Tory leader Michael Howard in the face of claims from former prison service boss Martin Narey that courts were handing out ‘savage’ punishments.

On radio 4’s Today programme, Lord Howard said the courts were right to respond to public demands that rioters should be jailed.

Offenders who were complaining about their punishments ‘should have thought of the consequences of their actions’, he said.

Lord Howard was responding to comments from Mr Narey, who said a ‘thirst for retribution’ meant young people who had committed petty crimes and were on the fringes of the riots had been punished too severely.

Instead, many should have been cautioned and told they ‘mustn’t get in trouble again’, he said.

Lord Howard said the punishments were ‘exactly what I would expect’ and were necessary to maintain public confidence in the justice system. ‘The courts don’t operate in a vacuum and shouldn’t operate in a vacuum,’ he said.

‘What we saw last week was an absolutely appalling outbreak of violent behaviour, and it’s absolutely right that those who are responsible for that violent behaviour should be dealt with appropriately and that’s what the courts are doing.

In Birmingham, West Midlands Chief Constable Chris Sims called for ‘compassion’ for some of the rioters.

He said: ‘There are tragic offenders as well as tragic victims. Young people who have been in care for most of their lives. We need to show some compassion and be pragmatic about how we deal with these people.’

However, he added: ‘There has to be a deterrent to stop people thinking they can behave like this in future.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Tunisia: Lawyer: Surrender to Judges on Porn Site Ban

(ANSAmed) — ROME, AUGUST 16 — Sami Ben Gharbia, a Tunisian lawyer and co-founder of the collective independent blog,, which continues to defend the Tunisian revolution, has reacted to the decision by which judges have upheld on appeal the obligation of the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI) to block websites with pornographic content.

The issue concerns “the defence of the law”, Ben Gharbia said, as judicial power “cannot surrender its prerogative to an administrative organ when it comes to fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and access to information”.

The verdict consolidates the victory won on May 26 by three lawyers who had appealed to judges to ban internet pornography in order to protect young people and Islamic morals.

“I have not yet been able to read the reasons, but I am profoundly disappointed with the verdict,” Ben Gharbia continued. “Judges cannot delegate their power to protect fundamental freedom to the administration”. The lawyer went on to underline the difference between analysing individual appeals on a case-by-case basis and generalizing the principle and effectively abdicating power — shared with the legislative body — in favour of the government.

The ruling will now be put to the country’s Court of Cassation, although Moneem Turki, one of the lawyers who began the legal proceedings and who was contacted by France Presse, said that the sentence could not be suspended in the meantime.

The ATI, meanwhile, previously appealed against the ruling, maintaining that it lacked the financial and technical means to intervene, and that any “filtering” by internet suppliers (Globalnet, Hexabyte, Orange Tunisie, Topnet and Tunet) would have negative repercussions on the quality of the service. The head of ATI, Moez Chakchouk, also opposed the idea, drawing praise from many quarters, Ben Gharbia added.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Archaeology: 2nd Century AD Hercules Statue Found

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, AUGUST 16 — A rare 2nd century AD statue of Hercules of “extraordinary artistic quality” was found by Israeli archaeologists during excavations in the Jezreel Valley near the city of Afula, in north-central Israel. The announcement was made by the Israeli Antiquities Department, which noted that the statue was made of white marble and is half a metre high. According to Dr. Walid Atrash, who was in charge of the excavations, it is a statute of “extraordinary artistic quality” which was part of ancient Roman thermal baths in a site called Horvat Tabernet, which later became a Jewish settlement mentioned in the Talmud in the 3rd century AD.

The archaeologist said that “Hercules was exhibited on a pedestal. His muscles are focused on, he is leaning on a cudgel and a lion’s skin is hanging over his left shoulder.” The statue will be shown to the public following the necessary restoration work.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Caroline Glick: The Left’s Faustian Bargain

The Palestinians’ decision to place the issue of the establishment of a Palestinian state before the United Nations for a vote next month repudiates of the principles of the 1993 Oslo peace framework, through which the Palestinian Authority was formed out of the PLO. The Oslo framework dictated that the final status of Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem would be determined through direct negotiations between the PLO and Israel.

While brazen, the Palestinians’ UN gambit is not the first time that Israel has been confronted with unequivocal proof that the Palestinians have been operating in bad faith. From the outset, PLO leaders from Yassir Arafat down have made statements and taken actions that have demonstrated that from the PLO’s perspective, the entire “two-state paradigm,” of peacemaking upon which the Oslo process is predicated was nothing more than a ploy…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Protests: Knesset Holds Extraordinary Session

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, AUGUST 16 — The Knesset, the Israeli parliament, has today interrupted its summer recess to hold an extraordinary session demanded by opposition parties to discuss the mass protests that have been going on for weeks in the country against high living costs and in favour of greater “social justice”. In a chamber packed with opposition parliamentarians but with a low turn-out from the governing coalition (in the absence of the Prime Minister, Benyamin Netanyahu, and the Finance Minister, Yuval Steinitz), the session was opened by Tzipi Livni, the leader of the majority centrist party Kadima and of the opposition. Livni accused the government of being “deaf” to the chorus of protests coming from large sections of the population and said that a “fundamental change in economic and social priorities” was “indispensable”. The Likud minister without portfolio, Benny Begin, will answer for the government.

Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Knesset to demand social reforms. Elsewhere in the city, streets were blocked by taxi drivers protesting against the cost of petrol. The protests began around a month ago with rallies by groups of young students in the centre of Tel Aviv and have rapidly spread, seeing tens of thousands of Israelis take to the streets. Two weeks ago, more than 200,000 people took part in a protest in the city.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has set up a committee of experts, led by the well-respected economist, Professor Manuel Trajtenberg, to hear the views of all political factions and unions. The committee has been tasked with putting forward a series of reforms to reduce the cost of living for the middle and working classes, but without interfering with rigid budget discipline and the containment of public spending.

But a number of protest leaders fear attempts to cover-up the seriousness of the situation, and believe that the commission does not intend to put forward the radical reforms being demanded. The protesters have been supported by other university professors, who have formed an independent commission to put forward their own socio-economic reforms.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Bahrain: Commission on Repression Closes Office to Public

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, AUGUST 16 — The independent investigative commission set up to look into the repression of the popular protest which shook Bahrain between February and March has today closed its offices to the public, after growing protests staged by crowds who made their way onto the premises, according to the daily paper Gulf News. Yesterday in an interview with a local paper the commission’s president Sharif Bassiouni praised the interior ministry’s cooperation and said that there was no proof of any violations or torture committed by the forces of order.

During the spring revolt which demanded greater democratisation and less discrimination in a country with a Shiite-majority population governed by a Sunni royal family, 24 people died including four policemen. Thousands were arrested and many reports were made of maltreatment and torture. “Insults were hurled, threats were written on the office’s walls and others were sent by text message and emails, and an employee was physically attacked,” said one of the members of the commission, adding that statements to the press would be suspended to prevent their being used for political ends by any group.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Campaign to Collect Trees for Palestinian Farms

(ANSAmed) — AMMAN, AUGUST 16 — Jordanian activists have kick started a national campaign to collect 100,000 trees to plant them in the West Bank and Jerusalem in light of targeting to Palestinian farmers by Israeli authorities, according to campaigner.

The project is spearheaded by the Arab organization for the protection of the environment and continues during the holy month of Ramadan and will continue until end of the year.

The campaign was triggered by continued Israeli measure to uproot thousand of trees from Palestinian farms in the West Bank, Gaza and near Jerusalem, said officials from the organization.

By the end of the project, campaigners hope to plan nearly one million trees around the Palestinian territories. Farmers in Gaza will also be receiving donations in order to cope with challenges facing them including closure of markets and infestation of several diseases in their crops.

The organization in 2008 planted nearly one million trees in the West Bank and Gaza as part of efforts to replace all trees that have been uprooted during unrest in the areas.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Syria: PLO Denounces Crimes Against Humanity

(ANSAmed) — RAMALLAH, AUGUST 16 — The recent operations conducted by the Syrian Army in Latakia on a Palestinian refugee camp represent a “crime against humanity”, said PLO official, Yasser Abed Rabbo, speaking today in Ramallah. Abed Rabbo reported that he received information on bombings conducted with warships and tanks against “mud houses” lived in by people who have no shelter. “Therefore this is a crime against humanity,” exclaimed the official. According to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), the al Raml refugee camp hit in the attack normally holds 10,000 people, but it is now completely deserted. According to the UNRWA, at least four people were killed inside of the camp, “but the real numbers could be higher”. PNA official news agency Wafa told Syrian officials today that it is their duty to assure the protection of Palestinians who live in the country, who have never gotten involved in internal Syrian issues, according to the agency.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Two Iranian Women Risk Death for Apostasy From Islam

Arrested in March, their conversion goes back at least a decade. So far, no one has been executed on such grounds in Iran, but the authorities are afraid of the expansion of Christianity. And, in a recent raid, they seized 6,500 Bibles.

Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Two Iranian women jailed in Iran’s notorious Evin prison for converting from Islam to Christianity may be executed for apostasy, Radio Farda reported. Amir Javadzadeh, a broadcaster for a London-based Christian radio station, said that the two women could be put to death even though “they were not politically active at all.” They “just wanted to serve people according to the Bible,” he said.

Marzieh Amirizadeh, 30, and Maryam Rustampoor, 27, were arrested in March, although they had “converted to Christianity about 10 years ago,” Javadzadeh said. They became Christians after “spending a lot of time studying the religion and helping others,” he added.

A number of judicial revisions in Iran have excluded the death sentence for apostasy, but some local courts have recently imposed it (but not carried it out) based on religious scriptures.

Iranian authorities fear rising conversion to Christianity, especially to Evangelical groups.

As part of a crackdown, some 6,500 copies of the Bible were seized, said Majid Abhari, advisor to the Social Issues Committee of the Iranian parliament.

“With regard to the activities of these Christian missionaries to deceive people, especially youngsters, they have begun a huge campaign by spending huge sums” and engaged in “false propaganda” in order to lead the public astray, Abhari complained. The evidence of this: “These books were made with the best paper in the world” and “in pocket size”.

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

South Asia

Pakistan: More Deadly Violence Erupts in Southern City of Karachi

Karachi, 16 August (AKI/DAWN) — After a brief period of relative calm in the strife-hit southern Pakistani city of Karachi, at least 12 people were shot dead since Sunday, DawnNews reported.

The victims included two people who were gunned down early Tuesday. According to police, 1,300 people have so far been killed this year in the ethnic and political violence.

Late Monday, assailants sprayed a car with bullets in Karachi’s Gulshan-i-Iqbal Town, killing two people. Moreover, an activist of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) was gunned down in the city’s Pir Ilahi Bux (PIB) Colony.

A 12-year-old child was among two people killed in separate incidents of firing late on Monday in Orangi Town.

Many link the killings to rising tensions between the Mohajirs, the Urdu-speaking majority represented politically by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), and Pashtun migrants affiliated to the Awami National Party (ANP).

Authorities appear powerless to stop the bloodshed and most of the victims are innocent civilans from poor neighbourhoods, according to human rights activists.

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

Far East

China’s First Space Lab Tiangong 1 May Launch Soon

The buzz out of Beijing is that China’s Tiangong 1 space lab may fly sooner than expected, perhaps soaring into space by this month’s end. That might be the case, according to China space watcher Gregory Kulacki, a senior analyst and China Project manager at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The Tiangong 1 module (“Heavenly Palace 1” in Chinese) is not China’s actual space station — nor will it be a part of the planned Chinese space station, he said. Rather, the 8-ton experimental prototype is designed as a test bed for the technologies China will need for its future space station program, including docking technology.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt[Return to headlines]


280 Land on Lampedusa, Over 2000 During Weekend

(ANSAmed) — LAMPEDUSA (AGRIGENTO), AUGUST 16 — There were 280 migrants including 20 women and one child who landed on Lampedusa this morning on a large raft, the latest in a long line of landings which between August 13 and 14 brought about 2,000 migrants to Lampedusa from North Africa. The latest arrivals have been transferred into the reception centres where there are already 1180 migrants after the transfer of 450 refugees yesterday. Their boat arrived in the Cala Pisana wharf this morning, where the Palladio ferry was preparing to leave for Porto Empedocle. Between August 13 and 14 an overall 2,000 migrants landed on Lampedusa including about 200 Tunisians, while most of the others were coming from Libya.

Among those who did not survive the crossings were three migrants who fell into the sea and were lost off Marettimo, who had arrived in Italy with three others on a three-metre-long fibreglass boat which capsized. The other three were rescued.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

280 Refugees Reach Lampedusa

(AGI) Palermo — 280 refugees, including 20 women and a child, reached the island of Lampedusa this morning. The refugees arrived on a vesseL escorted into the port by Carabinieri and Coast Guard. The immigrants, who sailed out of Libya two days ago, were registered after deboarding and taken to the Imbriacola reception center, where nearly 1,200 persons are already lodged after their tranferal yesterday from a Moby company ship.

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

Hundreds of Migrants Land on Lampedusa

Almost 2,500 new arrivals in recent days

(ANSA) — Lampedusa, August 16 — A boat carrying hundreds of migrants landed on the southern island of Lampedusa on Tuesday.

The new arrivals came after almost 2,500 migrants landed on the island off the coast of Sicily in the past three days.

The latest boat landed in the bay of Cala Pisana where a ferry was about to set sail for Porto Empedcocle in Sicily.

Coast Guard officials and police met the vessel and were transferring the migrants to the island’s migrant reception centre, which is currently hosting 1,180 migrants.

Tuesday’s arrivals followed the transfer of 450 people who arrived at Lampedusa on Monday.

Meanwhile around 100 migrants travelling by ferry from Lampedusa on Wednesday are expected to land at the Sardinian port of Cagliari where they will be transferred to local migrant reception centres in Cagliari, Oristano, Nuoro and Olbia-Tempio.

Around 40,000 migrants have landed on Lampedusa from North Africa, first in a large wave from Tunisia and then in a smaller one from Libya, since the beginning of the year.

The reception facilities of the small island, which is closer to Africa than to Sicily, were quickly overrun and the Italian government has had to ship migrants out after protests from islanders.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Lampedusa Witnesses Landing of a Further 200-Odd Migrants

(AGI) Palermo — Lampedusa witnessed the landing of some 200 North African migrants this morning, ending yesterday’s respite. The vessel — which set for sea from Libya — reached the port of Cala Pisana escorted by police and coast guard motorboats. (AGI) .

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

Malta: Tear-Gas Used to Quell Migrants’ Protest

Soldiers had to use tear-gas at about noon today to quell a riot by almost 100 migrants at Safi detention centre.

The disturbance started at about 8 a.m. when a small group of migrants started to protest about their detention after their application for humanitarian protection was rejected.

They started a fire as they called for their release and insisted that the conditions they were living in were ‘inhuman’.

It was not clear what was set on fire. The migrants also damaged beds and smashed furniture as they shouted ‘Freedom, freedom’.

The situation calmed down as policemen in riot gear assembled.

But the protest then flared up again at about 11.30 a.m. and involved a much larger group of migrants who pelted the police with stones and other objects.

Policemen and soldiers in riot gear were seen entering the compound and charging the riots as another fire blazed.

An AFM helicopter flew low overhead.

Lt Col Brian Gatt, head of the Detention Service, confirmed the use of tear-gas and said a number of the migrants would be taken to court.

He said that no one was injured, but sewage water was thrown at him when he entered the migrants’ quarters.

Informed sources said water with toilet bleach was throw at the soldiers and policemen.

Army and police trucks were lined up one in front to other, blocking the view of what was happening inside. An army spokesman said the trucks were parked that way to shield cars in the courtyard from the stone-throwing migrants.

           — Hat tip: PJ[Return to headlines]

Over 2,500 Migrants Land on Southern Italian Island

Lampedusa, 16 August (AKI) — A boat carrying over 200 migrants landed on the southern island of Lampedusa on Tuesday, after 2,500 reached the island in recent days. The boat set sail for Italy on Sunday from Libya where civil war has been raging between rebels and forces loyal to leader Muammar Gaddafi for almost six months.

The vessel had 274 illegal immigrants on board from Sub-Saharan African countries and included 20 women and a child.

Coast Guard officials and police intercepted the latest boat and were transferring the migrants to the island’s migrant reception centre, which is currently hosting 1,180 migrants.

The boat landed in the bay of Cala Pisana where a ferry was about to set sail for Porto Empedcocle in Sicily. A total of 456 migrants were transferred by ferry late Monday to reception centres on the western island of Sardinia and across the Italian mainland.

Some 40,000 migrants have landed on Lampedusa from North Africa this year, initially from Tunisia at the time of the unrest that overthrew autocratic preisdent Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in mid-January and subsequently from Libya.

Lampedusa has a sole reception centre designed to accommodate 850 people at most . The government has had to deport migrants and transfer others to other detention centres in Italy after locals protested the influx of migrants was harming the tiny island’s crucial tourism and fishing sectors.

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

UK Population Grows at Twice EU Average: Migrant Baby Boom Fuels 400,000 Rise in One Year

Britain’s population is growing at more than twice the European average.

The number living in the UK soared by 400,000 last year — almost a third of the increase across all 27 EU countries.

The rise is underpinned by high levels of migration and a baby boom itself brought about mainly by immigrants.

The figures from Eurostat, the statistical arm of the EU, are further evidence that England is becoming the most crowded country in Europe.

Projections show that Britain will have the highest population on the continent within 40 years, overtaking both Germany and France.

Eurostat said the UK’s population growth of 409,000 in 2010 amounted to 30 per cent of the 1.4million added to numbers across the whole EU.

The only other country to experience a population increase of more than 300,000 was France.

Britain’s population went up at a rate of 6.6 new people for every 1,000 already in the country, well over double the EU average rate of 2.8 for every 1,000.

Only two countries — Belgium and Sweden — and the tiny nations of Malta and Luxembourg saw higher rates of increase.

The figures will fuel concerns over the provision of housing and public services in crowded areas.

Transport, schools, water and energy supplies are all in increasing demand as the UK population heads toward the landmark figure of 70million, which is expected to be reached in 25 years time.

The EU analysis reflects the findings of Whitehall officials in attributing two fifths of the population increase to immigration and three fifths to ‘natural change’ — the difference between numbers of babies born and the national death toll.

However a substantial share of the baby boom, which is producing birthrates which match the historic highs in the two decades after the Second World War, is largely a result of high migration.

Around one in four babies is born to a mother who was born outside UK.

Sir Andrew Green of the MigrationWatch think tank, said: ‘This is a result of Labour’s immigration policies which brought in three million migrants, raising our population both directly and indirectly.

‘Many of the additional births over the past ten years have been to mothers born outside the UK.’

A report yesterday revealed that UK migrants from one East African country are much more heavily dependent on the state to provide them with homes than people from any other minority group.

Eight out of ten Somalis were found to live in homes provided by the taxpayer. Yet among every other immigrant nationality, more than half pay for their own housing either by renting it on the private market or through buying their homes.

The findings come from the Institute for Public Policy Research and were revealed yesterday in a report by MigrationWatch.

If the IPPR figures — calculated from official statistics — are correct, then the provision of homes for Somalis is likely have cost taxpayers more than £2billion.

Whitehall officials estimate there are 150,000 Somalis in Britain, most of whom fled civil war and lawlessness that broke out in 1991.

There has been outrage over Somali refugee Saeed Khaliif, who moved with his family into a £2m house in North-West London, at a cost to the public of £8,000 a month.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

UK: Is This the Moment the British Public Finally Had Enough?

THE appalling events of the last week have left Britain staring into an abyss. Across our cities and towns the veneer of civilisation has been torn away, exposing the savage anarchy beneath. What has made the chaos all the more disturbing is the fear that the state can no longer protect us in a crisis. the social contract, by which we pay our taxes in return for the mainte- nance of public order, has been shattered by the outbreak of mass thuggery, looting, arson and even murder. Yet, as a tense peace returns to our streets, there is a glimmer of hope that the disturbances could mark a turning point in our society. the patience of law-abiding citizens may have finally snapped. if the politicians have enough guts this might be the moment that Britain regains its moral self-confidence after years of cultural cringing.

Following the carnage of recent days most decent people are revolted by the destructive dogma of political correctness that has so undermined the robustness of our police forces, lowered standards of behaviour in schools, created welfare ghettos throughout the country, obliterated our sense of national identity, weakened traditional family structures, and provided endless excuses for law-breakers. Tragically much of the political Left is still trapped in this mindset of moral relativism, where even the most brutal conduct — such as fire-bombing a carpet store — can be explained away by reference to poverty, inequality or racism. That twisted attitude was exemplified by the disgraceful interview that Labour’s Deputy Leader Harriet Harman gave to the BBC, in which she wailed about tory policies on tuition fees and education mainte- nance allowances. It is precisely this sub- Marxist outlook that has caused such damage to our society over recent decades. When young people are absolved of any responsibility for their actions, when drug- dealing gangsters are told that they are really the victims of racial prejudice or economic deprivation, it is no wonder that they feel they can act with impunity. But the shock delivered to our society by the extreme, unprecedented scale of the criminality means that the coalition Government now has a golden opportunity to dump all this nonsense and reinvigorate the authority of our civic institutions. So far David Cameron has spoken with commendable resolution but he needs to translate his tough rhetoric into action. if he does so he will find that the British public are behind him. In practice that means far longer jail sentences and an end to the catastrophic human rights culture that has been a charter for criminals. Offenders must be taught to fear the courts and the harshness of prison regimes.. In the same way discipline must be brought back to the classroom by allowing teachers to punish wayward pupils.

One step that would help would be to encourage more men to enter the teaching profession, which has become increasingly feminised over the past 20 years, with the result that too many inner-city youths growing up in fatherless households have no masculine role models. the police also need to be freed from the straitjacket of political correctness. Contrary to the claims of Labour or London Mayor Boris Johnson, the weakness of the police has nothing to do with budgets or numbers. in fact with a total force of 142,000 we have more officers than ever before but they are overwhelmed by the burdens of bureaucracy, paperwork and the ideology of multicultural diversity. Indeed the very concept of multi-culturalism, so beloved by Labour, belongs in the dustbin. it is a dogma that has promoted social division by encouraging a tribal mentality, whereby migrants are encouraged to cling to their own ethnic group instead of embrac- ing a British identity. One of the most tiresome features of the past week has been the endless prattle from self-styled, unaccountable “community” leaders, so often fanning the flames of discontent with their irresponsible talk about racism. The only community in this country should be a British one, regardless of race or religion. That is also why we need a rigorous crackdown on immigration, running at the absurd level of 600,000 arrivals a year, the majority from Asia or Africa. The import of such numbers is a recipe for social dislocation and distrust.

JP note: Perhaps the most overused word over the past week has been “community” and the one that appears least susceptible to rational analysis by our leaders.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Immigration Officer Comes Home to Find Family of Romanian Gypsies Squatting in Her House, Wearing Her Clothes and Drinking Her Wine

When immigration officer Julia High came back from a night out at the Royal Albert Hall she might have expected to enjoy a nightcap before retiring for the evening.

Instead she discovered a family of Romanian gipsies squatting in her terrace house — sitting round the dining table and wearing her clothes.

When horrified 55-year-old quizzed them about their presence, she was invited in and offered a glass of her own wine as the family of eight tried to convince her their bogus tenancy document was legal.

Ms High had left her home in Leytonstone, east London, on a Friday morning for work but then spent the weekend visiting her elderly parents in Guildford.

Neighbours raised the alarm on the Monday evening as she attended the Proms, and she returned to her home of 30 years to find the Romanians sitting around the dining table. Her possessions had been stuffed into bin bags and thrown into the back garden.

Ms High, who works at the UK Border Agency, said the family — five adults and three children — had told her neighbours that she was dead and they had rented the house from her ‘son’.

She said: ‘The women came to the door dressed in my clothes, they were sitting around my dining room table, drinking my wine out of my glasses. They even offered me a drink and told me they were from Romania.

‘They said I was dead and my son had rented the house to them. I am very much alive, single and I don’t have a son.’

The following day Ms High secured a county court eviction order, which the police served that evening. However, her home was left in a terrible state, with water damage to the kitchen and bathroom caused by the removal of lead roofing. Carpets had been taken and her fridge and freezer emptied.

She said the squatters took some of her clothes packed in her suitcases, along with a computer, containing precious pictures of her two-month-old grand-niece, and digital cameras.

Only her two beds and her wardrobes were left intact and her insurance claim is being frustrated by the loss of receipts and documents.

It has taken Ms High, who is staying with friends, two weeks to go through less than half of the bags piled in her garden. She expects it will be many more weeks before she can move back in. The front door had been levered open but she had no way of proving the Romanians were to blame.

She said: ‘These people have just trashed 30 years of my life and thrown it into bin bags. It is soul destroying.’

The squatters were tracked down to a house in a nearby road.

Neighbours said they moved in two weeks ago and the property is said to be owned by a doctor who bought it in March.

No one answered when reporters knocked at the door, but children could be seen peeking out of the first-floor window.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: So What Does it Take to Deport a Criminal? Judge Cuts Drug-Dealing Migrant’s Sentence So He Won’t Get Kicked Out

A judge cut the sentence of an illegal immigrant and drug dealer yesterday to help him escape deportation.

Vincent Miller was kicked out of the UK twice but managed to return and stay for more than a decade by stealing the identities of British citizens.

Yet when the 33-year-old was sentenced, the judge said sending him home to Jamaica would be ‘devastating’ for his three children.

Incredibly, he deliberately shortened the sentence Miller would have received from a year to 11 months. Criminals given 12 months face automatic deportation proceedings.

Recorder Farook Ahmed told Miller: ‘The sentence I have had in mind was 12 months, but it seems to me that it isn’t necessary for me to pass a sentence of 12 months because a sentence of 11 months will have the same effect, and it would take away the automatic triggering of deportation. I have taken into account that if you were to be deported it is bound to have a devastating effect on your three children, who I’m told are lawfully here in the UK.’

The judge’s decision provoked a fierce backlash.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the pressure group Migrationwatch, said: ‘This raises serious questions about the attitude of the judiciary towards the whole question of removing from Britain those who no longer have a right to be here.

‘To shorten the sentence of a criminal so as to allow him to stay simply beggars belief.’

Tory MP Dominic Raab said: ‘The sentence should be tailored to fit the crime, not avoid Parliament’s rules on deportation which are there to protect the public.’

The case follows a string of outrages where the Human Rights Act has blocked deportation on family grounds.

Criminals have been permitted to stay even where they do not have children or a wife, but only a girlfriend.

Miller arrived in Britain at Christmas in 2000 when he was given permission to stay for only four days.

He did not return home and was arrested and deported in February 2001 only to return that Easter under a stolen identity. Within two years he was deported for supplying class A drugs.

From abroad he successfully applied for a new passport in the name of another man, Joseph Roche, who had no idea his identity had been stolen. That second identity crime allowed him to obtain a driving licence and start work as a barber.

As a result of his fraud, his wife and their three children, aged two, four and six, were able to claim UK citizenship.

His crimes were uncovered only when the real Mr Roche applied for a replacement driving licence, and DVLA officials realised two people were claiming to be the same man.

Miller, of Herne Hill in South East London, was arrested on July 5 and claimed he had given up Mr Roche’s identity some time earlier.

He later pleaded guilty to possessing another person’s identity document, three counts of conspiring to obtain property by deception and three counts of dishonestly making a false representation.

Anyone sentenced to more than a year in prison is automatically considered for deportation by the UK Border Agency.

But the judge at Inner London Crown Court said he would reduce the intended sentence to allow Miller to stay in the country and look after his children.

Judge Ahmed told him: ‘You subverted immigration rules and you were able to construct a life in the UK based on your deception.

‘I have taken into account that if you were to be deported it is bound to have a devastating effect on your three children, who I’m told are lawfully here in the UK.

‘At least one other person benefited from your conduct, and that is I’m told your former wife,’ said the judge. ‘She was able to become a UK national as a result of your assumption of Mr Roche’s identity.’

The judge said it was a significant aggravating factor that he had made a ‘wholesale assumption’ of Mr Roche’s identity, who was himself then suspected of being a criminal. ‘He is a real person and is entirely innocent,’ he said.

The Home Office insisted it would still seek to deport Miller at the end of his sentence. However, the Jamaican will be entitled to use Article 8 of the Human Rights Act — the right to a private and family life — to attempt to stay in the country.

Figures obtained by the Daily Mail show nearly 400 foreign criminals escaped deportation last year by using Article 8.

A UK Border Agency spokesman said: ‘We will seek to remove this individual at the end of his sentence. If someone has no right to be in this country, and does not leave voluntarily, we will take action to enforce their removal.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

UK: Starkey Racism Row: It is the Political Elite’s Ceaseless Denigration of White Working-Class Culture That Has ‘Turned Kids Black’

Anyone who has met a white working-class lad or lass aged between 11 and 19 will know that David Starkey had a point when he said, rather crudely, that white chavs “have become black”. One of the curiosities of the gym that I go to in Lambeth in South London is that all the white teens speak in a bizarre, so-called “black accent”, while the black guys in their mid to late 30s who run the gym speak in an accent that is far more instantly recognisable as “London”. They sound a lot more like me than the white kids do. (Which isn’t surprising — they actually are more like me than the white kids are, having likewise been brought up in working-class parts of London in that now seemingly distant era of the 1980s and 90s.)

But Starkey and his minuscule number of defenders are wrong to claim that this so-called “blacking” of white youth (God, that’s a terrible way to put it) is down to the invasion of Britain by Jamaican values and language. Listening to Starkey and Co., you could be forgiven for thinking that Jamaicans have culturally colonised this fragile island, winning over “our youth” to their allegedly peculiar ways. In truth, it is Britain’s own denigration of white working-class culture and lifestyles, the political and media classes’ ceaseless war of words against the way the white working classes live, love, speak and act, which communicates to white youngsters the message: “Your culture is shit. Find another one.”

If it were true, as Starkey seems to believe, that Jamaican or West Indian immigrants brought to Britain an alien culture which they have successfully spread amongst the young, then how would we explain the fact that in the 1970s and 80s even the children of these immigrants didn’t speak the way that black and white kids speak these days? The black kids I grew up with in the 1980s didn’t talk like Ms Dynamite or Dizzee Rascal — they spoke in the same nondescript, t-dropping accent as the rest of us. Remember Desmond’s, the Channel 4 sitcom in which the immigrant parents and their friends had strong Guyanan or Jamaican accents but their British-born children sounded a bit cockney? That’s how most urban black youth in London used to speak. (My nextdoor neighbours were Guyanans: the parents sounded like Desmond and Co, their offspring like the characters in EastEnders.)

What changed is not so much that blacks, followed by whites, immersed themselves in the lingo or outlook of their ancestors, but rather that white working-class culture has in recent years been denigrated to an extraordinary degree. From the way the white working classes speak (un-PC, foul) to what they eat (“junk food”, which makes them “obese”) to what they wear (the girls dress like “slags”, the boys like “scum”), virtually every facet of white working-class life has been subjected to the ridicule of the political and cultural elite, finding itself mocked on TV shows and tut-tutted over or legislated against in parliament and the press. Meanwhile working-class institutions are either in a state of disarray (trade unions being the best example) or have been invaded by the intolerant nannies and nudgers of the prole-loathing elite: consider the public house, once a relatively free zone, now colonised by morality cops on the lookout for smoking, excessive boozing and anything with a whiff of rowdiness. Football games, post-work pints, EastEnd attitude, northern grit — hardly any aspect of white working-class culture has escaped being problematised by the snobs, therapists and health obsessives who govern modern Britain.

At the same time, immigrant cultures are more likely to be celebrated, as “vibrant” by the educational establishment and as “cool” by the trustafarian chattering classes who like nothing better than listening to Niggaz with Attitude on their outsized headphones. The movers and shakers of modern British society demonise white working-class culture while simultaneously slumming it with what they consider to be the “noble savages” of the immigrant community. In such a climate, is it really any wonder that white working-class kids are “turning black”? Their so-called “blackness” was not in any way the cause of the riots, but it does point to a problem that at least contributed to that urban upheaval: the fact that huge swathes of lower-class youth feel cut off not only from society but also from their traditional cultures, turning them into confused, at-sea, potentially nihilistic individuals.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Hacking the System, Because He Could

RELAXED, witty and charming, when you see Kevin Mitnick it’s hard to imagine he was once the world’s most wanted hacker. Now companies line up to have him steal secrets from them as a premier cybersecurity consultant. But it wasn’t always that way.

Hackers have made headlines recently with the unprecedented notoriety of collectives LulzSec and Anonymous, who select their high-profile targets — ranging from the FBI to Sony to NATO — to cause mayhem or make a political statement, in varying proportion.

But long before Google, Twitter and Facebook, computer hackers and “phone phreakers” like Mitnick relied on social cunning and technical prowess to coax confidential information from the agencies that owned it. In Ghost in the Wires Mitnick and his co-author William L. Simon boldly retell the true story of how, and perhaps why, he became one of the FBI’s most elusive fugitives.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt[Return to headlines]