Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110823

Financial Crisis
»Eurozone Finland Destabilizes Bailout Plan
»Ireland: Dublin Catholics Face Levy as Church Faces Bankruptcy
»Italy: Milan Stocks Close Slightly Higher, After Early Surge
»Italy: LNP Party Objects to PDL Hints of Leveraging Pensions
»Napolitano Says Majority Slow to Acknowledge Seriousness of Crisis
»Netherlands: Rutte Wants Secured Loan for Greek Bail-Out Money
»Aftershocks Being Felt in Central Virginia After 5.8 Quake
»Former IMF Boss Strauss Kahn Thanks Prosecutor
»Strauss-Kahn Indictment Dismissed by Judge
Europe and the EU
»A Society on the Verge of a Meltdown
»Damning Poll on Leadership: Germans Don’t Trust Merkel to Handle Euro Crisis
»European ‘No-Go’ Zones for Non-Muslims Proliferating
»Italy: High Rollers Drink and Dash on 86,000-Euro Bill
»Italy: ‘Clean’ Energy, Scourge of Our Countryside
»Massive Seam of Gold Worth at Least £9 Billion is Discovered in Hard-Up Region of Germany
»Norway Police to Question Anders Behring Breivik’s British ‘Mentor’
»Norway Gunman ‘Feels Like a Demon’ — Lawyer
»Poles Apart From Reality
»Shariah Abolished for Greek Muslims
»UK: Caught on CCTV: The Grisly Moment Killer Struggled Through Heathrow With His Victim Stuffed in Suitcaseby Nick Enoch
»UK: Lesbian Raped by Rickshaw Driver as She Made Her Way Home After Night in Gay Clubby Alanah Eriksen
North Africa
»Libya: Del Boca: “Gaddafi Wants to Become a Martyr and Will Resist Till the End”, Others Fear Total War
»Libya: The Endgame: The Future, The Risks
Middle East
»Saudi Arabia’s Bra Problem
»Why Golda Meir Was Right
South Asia
»Indonesia: No Churches: Bogor Mayor Against the Law and Government
Far East
»China: New Corruption Charges Against the Red Cross and Other Charities
Australia — Pacific
»Townsville Mother Makes Son Wear Humiliating ‘I’m a Thief’ Sign
»Townsville Mother Defends Shaming Her Son
Latin America
»Peru Suspends Coca Eradication Program
»Italy: Bigamist Immigrant’s Wife Reports Husband Over Rival Spouse
»Migrant Uprising in Pozzallo: 50 Escape: 5 Officers Hurt
»UK: ‘She’s Big: Black, Smokes and Likes Chicken Burgers’: The Only Four Things Sham Marriage Husband Could Tell Police About His Bride-to-Beby Rob Cooper
Culture Wars
»Italy: ‘At Least Gay 100 Priests Targeted by Facebook Blackmailers’

Financial Crisis

Eurozone Finland Destabilizes Bailout Plan

De Volkskrant, 19 August 2011

‘Finland puts bomb under EU bailout plans’, headlines De Volkskrant, reporting on Finland’s demand that Greece put up collateral against Helsinki’s participation in the Greek bailout. According to the Dutch newspaper, the two countries have now struck a deal, and four others — Austria, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Slovenia — are now demanding similar guarantees, leading to fears for the stability of the July 21 agreement to save Greece.

In the Netherlands several MPs have already asked the finance minister to take action. De Volkskrant says it is unclear what Greece could offer as collateral to Finland. Probably not islands or railroads: more likely a cash payment of €0.5bn-1bn. Because Greece has no money of its own, the paper fears that the deposit will have to come from the European fund.

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

Ireland: Dublin Catholics Face Levy as Church Faces Bankruptcy

Leaked document shows many parishes in Irish capital close to financial collapse due to child abuse compensation payments

Reparations for child abuse victims and the recession have brought Ireland’s largest Catholic diocese to the brink of bankruptcy, according to a leaked document from a group of priests.

The paper from the Council of Priests concludes that many parishes in Dublin are close to a state of financial collapse.

It cites the ongoing cost of compensation payments made to victims of clerical abuse, the death of the Celtic Tiger economic boom and falling numbers going to mass in the Irish capital.

The document, which was leaked to this week’s edition of the Irish Catholic newspaper, proposes imposing a parish-based levy on Catholic families living in Dublin that would raise up to €3m (£2.6m) a year.

The priests also recommend cuts in the wages of religious orders and lay people working for the church in line with public pay cuts imposed to trim back Ireland’s massive national debt.

A spokeswoman for the Dublin archdiocese has confirmed the existence of the document, saying it was aimed at addressing the economic realities facing the archdiocese. She said making no changes would have serious financial consequences.

Two years ago a damning report into clerical sex abuse found that the diocese had covered up the activities of 46 priests accused of abusing children.

It found the church placed its own reputation above the protection of children in its care.

It also said state authorities including the Garda Síochána facilitated the cover-up by allowing the Catholic church to operate outside the law.

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

Italy: Milan Stocks Close Slightly Higher, After Early Surge

Energy companies boosted by rebels’ assault on Tripoli

(ANSA) — Milan, August 22 — Milan stocks finished slightly higher on Monday, boosted by gains in energy companies with links to Libya as rebel forces swept into the capital Tripoli.

The FTSE Mib index closed up 1.78% at 14,861 points as shares in Eni, the Italian energy giant, rose nearly 6.88% and Ansaldo, a Finmeccanica subsidiary with energy interests, gained 7.05%. Other European markets also recorded slight gains with London shares rising 0.89%, Paris up 1.09% and Frankfurt’s stock index rising only 0.42% World leaders including Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi called for Muammar Gaddafi to surrender amid reports of an impending attack on his bunker Bab Azaziya in Tripoli expected late Monday.

Rebels seized control of much of the city on Sunday and Italian officials estimate only 10-15% of Tripoli remains in the hands of government forces.

Earlier on Monday Frattini said that Eni technicians were working with Libyan insurgents in Benghazi to reactivate oil installations shut down by the military conflict.

The European Union is preparing a post-Gaddafi plan for Libya and also called for him to resign “without further delays”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: LNP Party Objects to PDL Hints of Leveraging Pensions

(AGI) Rome — The LNP party has disclosed its stance concerning contingency budget proposals. In a 3-point statement the party submits that a) prior agreements between Umberto Bossi and Silvio Berlusconi (Bill no. 138) shall not be subject to any further change, b) budget cuts affecting local administrations need to be downscaled, c) ad hoc measures need to address the country’s massive tax dodging.

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

Napolitano Says Majority Slow to Acknowledge Seriousness of Crisis

Then asks opposition: “Is the government really to blame for everything?” “Get the tax evaders”

MILAN — Italy’s president Giorgio Napolitano had harsh words for everyone, slamming the majority but also targeting the opposition. The head of state also attacked tax evaders, over whom, he claimed, too many eyes had been closed. The president’s subject was the economic crisis. “Predominantly concerned with upholding the validity of its track record, in part through propaganda-style simplification and consoling comparisons with other European countries”, the majority has “been slow to acknowledge the critical nature of our situation and the genuine seriousness of the issues”. But the opposition also came in for chastisement from the president: “Is it really possible that every critical incident in Italy’s current state of affairs should be due to some sin of omission or commission by the government, its leaders or the coalition on which it is based?” “This is not a road that should have been taken and it did not lead very far”, said President Napolitano concluding his analysis at the opening ceremony of the Comunione e liberazione (CL) meeting at Rimini.

TRUTH — When facing difficulties, “the language of truth must be used. Because it does not generate pessimism” but instead “stimulates a reaction of courage and far-sightedness”, added the head of state, referring to the economic crisis we are experiencing. “In these past three years in Italy, have we spoken the language of truth? Have we spoken it, we who have responsibilities in institutions, in society, in families, in our relations with the younger generations? Inspiring faith does not mean fuelling illusion. You do not inspire faith or elicit the required reaction by minimising or playing down critical issues but by facing up to them boldly and intelligently”. Politicians in general were in the president’s cross-hairs: “The price paid in politics to partisan calculations and the logic of antagonism is becoming unbearable”.

CHALLENGES — “The challenges and trials we face are more than ever arduous, profound and uncertain in their outcome”, said the president. “Since Italy and its public debt became the target of a serious crisis of confidence, and of major shocks and risks in financial markets, we have been swamped by an anxiety-filled present, by day-after distress and by an urgent, inescapable search for fast answers. Obviously, we cannot subtract ourselves from these factors, or from the duty of taking immediate decisions, but we will not find satisfactory, long-term ways forward without considering the past and scrutinising the future”.

COMMITMENT — For President Napolitano, what is needed is “the courage of hope, determination and commitment. That commitment cannot come from, or be encouraged solely by, the state. It must emanate from individuals, local communities and intermediate bodies, according to the concept and logic of subsidiarity that has turned an astonishing range of entrepreneurial and social activities, and grass-roots responses to shared needs, into an engine crucial to the reconstruction and change of Italy”.

TAX EVADERS — Finally, the president pointed out a path to follow in the current state of crisis: “Let there be no more resignation or weakness in the fight against tax evasion, in which, depressingly, Italy still tops the table. It is an intolerable blemish and should be attacked without hesitation” using “all possible measures of verification and intervention”.

22 agosto 2011

English translation by Giles Watson

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

Netherlands: Rutte Wants Secured Loan for Greek Bail-Out Money

Prime minister Mark Rutte told the press on Friday afternoon that he wants a secured loan for the money being lent to Greece to bail it out of its financial difficulties.

His remarks came after it was revealed on Thursday that Finland has agreed a secured loan with Greece in which Greece will deposit money in a Finnish state bank account in return for the loan.

‘We don’t think it’s necessary, but if the Fins have a deal with Greece, we want one too,’ Rutte told journalists at his weekly press conference.

All countries

Since the deal between Finland and Greece was announced, several other eurozone countries have said they want their loans secured. ‘If they are to be secured loans, then this must apply to all the countries involved,’ Rutte said.

The Finnish deal is reported to be for €50bn but Rutte says this is much too high. ‘Our first step must be to get this deal off the table but if it remains, it must be much smaller.’

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


Aftershocks Being Felt in Central Virginia After 5.8 Quake

Aftershocks are keeping central Virginia residents on edge.

Hours after a powerful earthquake rattled the state, U.S. geologists and local residents are reporting milder tremblers, one measuring 4.8 magnitude.

Shirley Sea said she just stepped out of her house in Mineral when she felt the aftershock Tuesday night.

She said it was not nearly as potent as the 5.8 quake that rocked the East Coast earlier Tuesday.

Gov. Bob McDonnell and public safety officials said initial reports following the quake indicate its impacts were minimal.

[Return to headlines]

Former IMF Boss Strauss Kahn Thanks Prosecutor

(AGI) New York — Strauss Kahn is “thankful” to the Manhattan prosecutor’s office. On 14 May, the prosecutor indicted him and had him arrested: Strauss Kahn was accused of having raped a maid. Today, showing great intellectual honesty, the prosecutor asked that the rape charge be dropped. That’s the position expressed by William Taylor and Benjamin, the lawyers of the former IMF boss. Their client is going to be in court tomorrow to attend the formal proceeding, with which the judge will acquit him, granting him freedom.

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

Strauss-Kahn Indictment Dismissed by Judge

A judge formally ordered the dismissal of all criminal charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn on Tuesday, but he said his order would be stayed until an appellate court decides whether a special prosecutor should be appointed.

Prosecutors in the office of Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, told Justice Michael J. Obus of State Supreme Court in Manhattan that they could not prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt because of serious credibility issues with the hotel housekeeper who had accused Mr. Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her as she entered his suite to clean it.

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

A Society on the Verge of a Meltdown

By Jakob Augstein

The riots in London are a social Fukushima for the Western world. Should we really be suprised that an increase in wealth for just a few, accompanied by simultaneous impoverishment of the masses, could not continue unabated?

We know nothing about the form of future tragedy,” German playwright Botho Strauss once wrote. But that isn’t true any longer. Now we can picture the form of our tragedy — all we have to do is watch it on YouTube. The images of the London riots are a preview of our future. Malaysian student Asyraf Haziq sits bleeding on the ground as a man approaches to help him up, only to then help three others plunder the contents of the defenseless man’s rucksack, leaving him alone on the street.

This is rock bottom for humanity.

British Prime Minister David Cameron needed a few days to find the right words. “Social problems that have been festering for decades have exploded in our face,” he said just this week, referring to a “broken society.” For a Tory this was a step forward. “Society” is not a word that easily passes through the lips of a conservative.

“There is no such thing as society,” former conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously said. “There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first.”

But when society is broken, people break too. Thatcher and all the other neoliberal ideologues after her didn’t want to believe this. But the market has no moral qualities, and without morals we all become animals.

Moral Meltdown

Suddenly this has occurred to everyone. Just weeks before the riots conservative commentator Charles Moore wrote in the Daily Telegraph: “It has taken me more than 30 years as a journalist to ask myself this question, but this week I find that I must: is the Left right after all? You see, one of the great arguments of the Left is that what the Right calls ‘the free market’ is actually a set-up.”

In the conservative German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, commentator Frank Schirrmacher turns similar sentiments toward Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Christian Democrats, complaining about the “ghostly coolness” with which she approaches the moral vacuum of conservative politics.

The riots in London have done to the West’s social self-image what Fukushima did to the concept of nuclear energy. It was a super maximum credible accident — the imagined, but never expected catastrophe. A moral meltdown.

But with all due respect, the only thing astonishing here is the actual astonishment. Who really thought it could simply go on indefinitely like this? Who believed there would be no consequences to the increase of obscene wealth for a few while impoverishment simultaneously plagued the masses. Wealth disparity is no accident of the capitalist system — it is the system. Just as the Berlin Wall and the Russian Gulag were no accidents of socialism, this disparity is reality. Capitalism means that one person owns a yacht with a swimming pool and a hangar for their helicopter, while millions of others haven’t had a salary increase in years. Socialism means equal fortune for all, except for those who don’t play along and end up in prison…

[12:08:31 AM] Baron 2:
           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Damning Poll on Leadership: Germans Don’t Trust Merkel to Handle Euro Crisis

Good news and bad for German Chancellor Angela Merkel: Three-quarters of Germans disapprove of her efforts to solve the problems plaguing the euro, according to a poll released Friday. But at least the French trust her more than their own president, Nicolas Sarkozy.

A poll released Friday indicates Germans know little about the current euro crisis — but are overwhelmingly opposed to the way it is being handled by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the two leaders spearheading efforts to solve the crisis…

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

European ‘No-Go’ Zones for Non-Muslims Proliferating

“Occupation Without Tanks or Soldiers”

by Soeren Kern

Islamic extremists are stepping up the creation of “no-go” areas in European cities that are off-limits to non-Muslims.

Many of the “no-go” zones function as microstates governed by Islamic Sharia law. Host-country authorities effectively have lost control in these areas and in many instances are unable to provide even basic public aid such as police, fire fighting and ambulance services.

The “no-go” areas are the by-product of decades of multicultural policies that have encouraged Muslim immigrants to create parallel societies and remain segregated rather than become integrated into their European host nations.

In Britain, for example, a Muslim group called Muslims Against the Crusades has launched a campaign to turn twelve British cities — including what it calls “Londonistan” — into independent Islamic states. The so-called Islamic Emirates would function as autonomous enclaves ruled by Islamic Sharia law and operate entirely outside British jurisprudence.

The Islamic Emirates Project names the British cities of Birmingham, Bradford, Derby, Dewsbury, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Luton, Manchester, Sheffield, as well as Waltham Forest in northeast London and Tower Hamlets in East London as territories to be targeted for blanket Sharia rule.

           — Hat tip: Janet Levy[Return to headlines]

Italy: High Rollers Drink and Dash on 86,000-Euro Bill

Young Russians allegedly cheat Ex-Renault Formula One boss

(ANSA) — Cagliari, August 22 — Young men allegedly ran up an 86,000-euro drinks bill and left without paying at a Sardinian nightclub owned by Ex-Renault Formula One boss Fabio Briatore, local reports said.

According to Briatore, who reported the incident to police Sunday, three young Russian men and their respective girlfriends opened over 90 bottles of Cristal champagne as they partied until dawn inside the private suite at his discotheque on the Costa Smeralda, an area frequented by the jet-set in northern Sardinia.

When the bill arrived, the accused thieves referred the waiter to a chartered yacht for payment, according to reports.

However, the bill has yet to be paid.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: ‘Clean’ Energy, Scourge of Our Countryside

Frank Krahmer

Crisis-hit Italian farmers are turning to the intensive cultivation of maize for biogas production, which is more profitable than growing it for food. But they’re laying themselves open to the mercies of speculators — and they’re threatening biodiversity too, declares the founder of the Slow Food movement.

Carlo Petrini

Industrial agriculture. Think about this oxymoron. In its name, companies set out to produce food without farmers, and eventually to crowd the farmers out of the fields. Today we’re taken with the idea that fields can be cultivated without any food being produced: agriculture without nourishment. It’s a form of agriculture based solely on profit and speculation that manages to turn bad everything that could be good: food, fertile soils (though less and less so), and even clean and renewable energy. Like photovoltaics. Like biogas.

We have already debated how photovoltaics can become a machine that gobbles up land and food resources. Now it’s the turn of biogas plants, which convert biomass — i.e. livestock waste, straw and other plants — to energy. These facilities would be ideal for getting rid of manure, a recurring problem for ranchers, and other biological waste, improving farm-gate income by producing energy that can be used on the farm or sold. But once the wheelers and dealers get involved, once investors who could not care less that farming produces food and does so as well as it can — once these speculators sniff a good deal on the wind and come running, biogas can turn into a blight on the land. This is what is happening in many regions of the Po Valley, particularly where there are large concentrations of intensively reared livestock.

What’s happening? Many farmers, left in dire straits by the widespread crisis in the sector, are becoming energy producers and getting out of food production. In effect, they grow maize intensively just to fill up “digesters”: tanks that produce biogas from the anaerobic breakdown of organic matter. Investors help them out, and sometimes they exploit them. On some cattle-rearing farms the farmers are paid to grow corn by those who built the converter tanks: they have become workers in the energy sector, and no longer farmers.

It all began in 2008 when a new green “agricultural” certificate was introduced in order to produce electrical energy from biogas. The production installations were to be “small” electric power plants not exceeding one megawatt. Yet just one megawatt turns out to be a lot. It has stimulated business, since a tariff of 28 euro cents per kilowatt-hour was awarded to those who produce the power, a rate three times higher that the price paid for energy produced “normally”.

The subsidy system, in addition to those subsidies paid out by the European Union for maize production, has therefore made building large and expensive (up to €4m) facilities highly profitable, especially as their cost can be amortised over just a few years. In the region of Cremona [North] alone, five licensed facilities were built in 2007; today there are 130. The maize destined for biogas, it is estimated, takes up 25 per cent of the land currently being cultivated. By 2013 there are predicted to be 500 facilities throughout Lombardy.

The environment and agriculture itself are under threat. Some findings (and truisms) are in order.

First: we are giving up growing food to produce energy in its stead.

Second: intensive maize monoculture is harmful to the land because it uses large amounts of chemical fertilizers and consumes an enormous amount of water, which is pumped up from a groundwater table that is sinking lower and becoming polluted. Without plot rotation, soil fertility is degraded and pests spread more easily — and then have to be eliminated by doses of pesticides.

Third: those who produce energy by growing corn can afford to pay much higher rents for land, up to €1,500 per hectare, which creates unfair competition for those who need to rear livestock. It’s the same phenomenon that has been created with the solar voltaic parks, which means we are repeating the mistake.

Fourth: …

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

Massive Seam of Gold Worth at Least £9 Billion is Discovered in Hard-Up Region of Germany

One of the poorest regions of former Communist East Germany is set to become a mini Klondike after a deep-boring machine hit a rich seam of pure gold.

At least £9billion worth — and possibly much more — of the precious metal has been found nearly 4,000ft down in a region called Lausitz where one-in-five are jobless.

Already the call has gone out for 800 miners to sign on for jobs and there are estimates that double that number could soon be on the payroll.

As well as hitting the gold seam, the company that has been boring into the earth near the Polish and Czech borders also struck the intended copper-bearing rock laden with an estimated 2.7 million tons, as well as lesser deposits of silver and platinum.

With copper trading on world markets on Friday at nearly £6,050 a ton, the copper alone is worth a fortune.

New seismological tests begin on Monday over a wider 50 square mile area before work gets underway on the mammoth task of drilling the first mine shafts.

It will be around seven years before the first gold is extracted but that is normal in precious metal mining.

The KSL mining company also reported that deposits of zinc and lead are also there for the taking.

Media reports spoke of an industry that could provide employment for half-a-century and strip German of some of its dependence on countries like China for raw mining materials essential to its heavy industries.

‘Gold, at least 15 tons of it and possibly much more, has been found,’ said a KSL spokesman.

‘At the depths it is at it would at one time not have been profitable to try to extract it — but it is now.’

The gold seam was hit almost two years after drilling began.

Klaus-Peter Schulze, mayor of the town of Spremberg near to the drilling area, said: ‘We have over 11 per cent joblessness here so this is fantastic news.

‘We need miners, contractors, suppliers. This is the economic miracle that East Germany needed.’

KSL agreed to sharing a large part of any profits from the mining venture with the impoverished region.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Norway Police to Question Anders Behring Breivik’s British ‘Mentor’

Norwegian police plan to question the former member of the far-right English Defence League (EDL) described by confessed killer Anders Behring Breivik as his “mentor”.

Paul Ray will travel to Norway today where he will voluntarily submit himself to police investigating the twin attacks on July 22 that killed 77 people, a spokesperson said.

“(He) wants to explain himself to police and the police want to hear his explanations,” said Unni Turid Groendal, Oslo police spokesperson.

“He is set to come to Norway tomorrow (Wednesday) and will be questioned by police the same day,” she added.

Mr Ray is widely considered to be the unnamed “mentor” mentioned by Breivik in the 1,500-page manifesto he posted online shortly before carrying out his deadly attacks.

Describing himself as a crusader at war against multiculturalism and Islam, Breivik, 32, explained in the document that he had had “a relatively close relationship” with an Englishman he gave the pseudonym “Richard”, “who became my mentor.”

Mr Ray, who heads the “Knights Templar” movement and runs a “Richard the Lionhearted” blog, has said he recognised himself in the Norwegian right wing extremist’s description and worried that he was Breivik’s inspiration.

Mr Ray has called the attacks “pure evil”, and had told Norwegian media he planned to come to the Scandinavian country to clear his name, saying he did not know the Norwegian killer.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Norway Gunman ‘Feels Like a Demon’ — Lawyer

Anders Behring Breivik, who admits carrying out the mass killings in Norway, knows that people think he is “a demon”, according to his lawyer. Geir Lippestad said that his client knows that he did “something dreadful”, but justified the atrocities as “necessary”. The far-right extremist admits killing eight people with a bomb in Oslo and shooting dead 69 on Utoeya island.

[JP note: News item includes BBC video of the interview with Breivik’s lawyer.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Poles Apart From Reality

Gazeta Wyborcza, 18 August 2011

“The twisted face of Poland” headlines Gazeta Wyborcza, complaining that this is the image of Poland that some 60 million students across Europe may get from their history textbooks. According to a report commissioned by the Polish ministry of Foreign Affairs, Poland is presented as a backward country, with images of pitchfork-wielding martyr-faced Poles against a background of smoking factory chimneys. Professor Adam Suchonski, the report’s author, says that “the distorted image of Poland is an outcome of years of neglect” on the part of Polish politicians and academics.

“Contrary to the Germans, French or Italians, who propagate their historical victories, we keep focusing on our martyrdom. We say nothing about our successes,” observes Suchonski, who suggests that Poland should use its EU presidency to change the situation. He also recommends that Polish embassies should monitor Polish themes in school textbooks in other European countries.

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

Shariah Abolished for Greek Muslims

According to an article of the Greek newspaper “Eleftherotypia”, under the scope of reforms in the Greek Family Law, the Shariah will be abolished for Greek Muslims.

This Muslim law establishes among others the right of polygamy and gives only to men the right to divorce their wives which constitutes a problem for the women in Thraki, Northern Greece. Even in Turkey, this law was abolished in 1926.

In addition, this law does not comply with the Greek constitution which establishes the equality of Greeks regarding the application of the laws and the equality of men and women. The National Committee on the Human Rights considers that the Shariah does not protect minorities but abuses the rights and values of all the Greek Muslims.

It is also announced that the family and hereditary relations of all Greek citizens will be regulated by Greek Laws. Thus, the Mufti will only be religious leader of Greek Muslims and will no longer have judicial authorities.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

UK: Caught on CCTV: The Grisly Moment Killer Struggled Through Heathrow With His Victim Stuffed in Suitcaseby Nick Enoch

This image of a man pushing a suitcase on a trolley through a deserted concourse at Heathrow appears to show nothing out of the ordinary.

But it is in fact the grisly moment airline steward Yousseff Wahid, 42, was caught on CCTV preparing to dump the butchered body of flatmate Fatima Kama — which he had stuffed inside.

Wahid, from Lebanon, was today convicted of murder, 11 years after going on the run.

He fled the country after slashing the aspiring singer’s throat after having sex with her in their central London flat in 1999.

Moroccan-born Kama, 28, was a ‘Holly Golightly’ character who worked as a cabaret singer and dancer entertaining Arabs in the area around Edgware Road.

The day before her murder, July 17, 1999, she was due to fly home to her family who lived in Montreal, Canada.

But that evening, CCTV footage caught Wahid boarding the Heathrow Express at Paddington with a heavy suitcase before he dumped it in a car park at Terminal Three.

Two women discovered the suitcase within minutes and a security guard found Miss Kama curled up in a foetal position.

She had been robbed of expensive jewellery and more than £40,000 she had been carrying.

Despite the quick discovery, Wahid was able to return to Central London undetected.

He shaved off his moustache and went back to Heathrow where he then paid cash for an airline ticket to Lebanon.

When British detectives finally tracked him down to Bahrain and brought him back to face trial, Wahid tried unsuccessfully to argue that his extradition — the first from the Gulf state to the UK — was unlawful.

Legally aided Wahid, who has had three firms of solicitors representing him, then sacked his barrister as the trial got underway and refused to attend court so the jury, unusually, did not hear prosecution or defence closing speeches.

But Wahid, who has since married and had two children, was in the dock as the Old Bailey jury found him guilty of murder by a majority of 11 to one after just under two-and-a-half-hours.

Warned that he faces around 30 years behind bars, Wahid said: ‘I really don’t know what to say.

‘I did not murder Fatima Kama, that’s all I can say.’ But Judge Paul Worsley QC agreed to postpone sentencing so Wahid could instruct a barrister on mitigating factors. He is to be sentenced on October 3.

Ms Kama’s family reported her missing when she failed to arrive home.

Police went to were called to her London flat and found diluted traces of blood after someone had tried to clean up, as well as blood-soaked carpets and stained skirting boards.

Wahid’s fingerprints were also found inside the flat as well as his semen inside her body.

Prosecutor Adrian Derbishire told the jury Ms Kama had moved into Wahid’s flat for just a week but they were polar opposites.

She had something of ‘a Holly Golightly about her’, with many rich Middle Eastern admirers, and readily accepted their generosity, but Wahid was ‘neither rich nor it seemed attractive to Fatima Kama’.

Mr Derbishire said: ‘He appeared to have an interest in Fatima Kama. That interest was no doubt encouraged by the sharing of a small flat with her. She shared that flat until the day she died.

‘On the Sunday morning, the day after the murder, he left the UK never intending to return.’

Detectives travelled to Lebanon soon afterwards but it was ‘quickly discovered there was no prospect of extraditing the defendant’ because no treaty existed.

But ‘the long arm of Scotland Yard did not simply rest’, the jury were told.

Detectives eventually found he was living under a false name in Bahrain with a wife and two young children wrongly believing he was safe from being extradited.

Mr Derbishire said: ‘It was confirmed extradition from Bahrain to the UK was possible though it had never happened before.’

When arrested by Bahrain police with a Scotland Yard observer, Wahid, who was using the false name Ibrahim Hadid, was ‘indignant’ and demanded ‘a big apology’ because he insisted he had never been to London.

But Mr Derbishire said: ‘There was no big apology. It’s now accepted by the defendant it was untrue.’

Fatima’s family were not in court to see Wahid convicted of murder.

However, making an appeal at the time of her death, her father Bouchaib Kama, a wealthy director of a catering company in Casablanca, Morocco, said: ‘I miss Fatima very much. She was a beautiful girl, so young and full of life.

‘Every parent expects their children to outlive them and that their children all go to have a long and happy life.

‘Fatima was prematurely taken from us and we will always mourn her.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Lesbian Raped by Rickshaw Driver as She Made Her Way Home After Night in Gay Clubby Alanah Eriksen

The woman, in her 20s, was attacked after she was left alone with Turkish-born Murat Durmus, 23, during the early hours on February 5.

She had kept her sexuality a secret but was forced to come out to her family because of her ordeal, the Old Bailey was told.

The doctor and her gay friend had been drinking at bars in Soho and unsuccessfully tried to find a black cab home.

They walked around the road closures near Tottenham Court Road and decided to catch a pedal rickshaw, which ply for trade in the West End, to their homes near Tower Bridge.

Her friend got out of the rickshaw on the way to her house and the woman doesn’t remember what happened next.

The woman said: ‘Things got a bit hazy. I honestly don’t remember how it all started.

‘My next memory is simply buzzing the buzzer and going into my flatmate’s bedroom. I was hysterical and crying. Because of my orientation, I was outraged. I was angry.’

A passer-by noticed Durmus arguing with the doctor, telling her to get back inside the rickshaw.

She was telling him to leave her alone, the court heard.

When the passer-by intervened, the doctor grabbed his arm and said she wanted to go with him. But Durmus insisted he was owed money.

The Good Samaritan accompanied the pair to a cashpoint. He left when the doctor walked away and Durmus rode off.

Lisa Matthews, prosecuting, said: ‘The CCTV shows the defendant picking her up and putting her into the rickshaw and then driving around.’

The jury were shown CCTV footage of Durmus as he cycled through the deserted streets sometimes doubling back on himself.

Ms Matthews added: ‘Her next memory was being raped by him. That happened she thought in the rickshaw.

‘Because she had been drinking she remembers something of standing up and then lying down.

‘She said she was crying and saying ‘no’ and he put his hand over her mouth to stop her screaming.’

After raping her, Durmus then cycled off leaving the woman to make her way home, the court was told.

Ms Matthews said: ‘She was very distressed by what had happened and told her flatmate that she had been raped.

‘She then also told her brother who was staying with her. Her family at that stage did not know that she was gay and she found it very difficult to tell them what had happened.’

The doctor was able to give police a description of her alleged attacker and his rickshaw and 13 days later he was tracked down and arrested.

The court heard Durmus’ DNA was found inside his alleged victim.

Durmus, of Walthamstow, denies two counts of rape and claimed the sex was consensual.

He said he had cycled away but saw her ‘standing in a dark corner’.

She approached him, took his hand and went back into the corner and kissed him.

‘They returned to the rickshaw and went to a garage area. He said she initiated the approach.’

The trial, expected to last two weeks, continues.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Libya: Del Boca: “Gaddafi Wants to Become a Martyr and Will Resist Till the End”, Others Fear Total War

Thousands of people loyal to Gaddafi could lose everything with his defeat. The sudden fall of Tripoli was due to growing weariness by the Libyan leader and the population. The country could fall in the hands of unscrupulous characters.

Rome (AsiaNews) — “Gaddafi is still alive and will certainly not flee. He wants to become a martyr and will resist until the end,” said Angelo Del Boca, an Italian journalist and historian who is an expert on Libya. Speaking to AsiaNews, he explained that a total war between Gaddafi loyalists and rebels might break out. Many towns and cities around the Gulf of Sirte and other parts of the country in fact remain in loyalist hands. Thousands of people are still pro-Gaddafi and could lose everything with his fall.

Months of air strikes took their toll on government forces around the capital, despite Gaddafi’s calls for resistance till death. For the historian, “a gap in the city’s defences allowed the rebels to enter Tripoli.”

Yesterday night, Libyan government spokesman Ibrahim Moussa warned of a possible “blood bath” if the National Transitional Council (NTC) goes after Gaddafi supporters.

Gaddafi’s fortified compound is still under siege, but there is no news about the Libyan leader whereabouts. Media reports indicate that rebels have met with little resistance. Their sudden appearance in the city broke a long deadlock.

The Italian scholar is particularly concerned about post-Gaddafi’s developments. Libya, in his view, might fall in the hands of unscrupulous characters, former regime members or people tied to Islamic extremism.

Following the announcement of Tripoli’s fall, the NTC told its NATO allies that oil production would be quickly resumed.

“It is hard to know when this war will end,” Del Boca said. “What is certain is that oil was the goal of NATO countries, especially France, and not only the defence of civilians. For sure, Italy will lose much of its expensive investments.”

However, for the historian, some hope comes from various exiled Libyan dissidents and intellectuals, who want real change.

Anwar Fekini, one of Gaddafi’s long-term opponents, is an internationally recognised lawyer who fled to the United States. He supported the resistance from the mountains to the south of Tripoli.

According to the dissident, once fighting is over, preparations for the elections will get underway, insisting that they should be free and without foreign interference.

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

Libya: The Endgame: The Future, The Risks

La Stampa Turin

The fall of Tripoli marks a victory for NATO and the EU countries that supported the war. But Europe, divided and weakened by the euro crisis, will have to find ways to manage the post-Gaddafi era without bringing chaos to its southern border.

Marta Dassù

For the Libyan dictator and his regime, the moment of truth has finally come. After months of a ‘forgotten war’ in the backyard of Europe, the fall of Gaddafi will allow NATO to save face. In theory, that is. In fact, it will not be easy to manage. If Libya is left to its own devices by a Europe struggling with financial crisis, the victory could well end in failure: or, in the cynical and pessimistic phrase circulating in Brussels, “a catastrophic success”.

The precedents — from the Balkans to Afghanistan — reveal the costs and risks that follow wars. In the Libyan case, the first risk is that the fall of Gaddafi opens up a new cycle of violence, leaving civilians exposed, and that the broad front of “winners” crumbles in the settling of scores past and present. How can security be assured? It is already clear that the United States, after taking part reluctantly in military operations, wants to back out. Barack Obama has no intention of providing manpower or economic aid to manage a problem he considers to lie in the European sphere of responsibility.

In turn, Europe, which has led the military intervention from Paris and London — exposing the limits of its capabilities — will step down, and intends to back the idea being discussed at the UN that an initial technical assistance mission be given to Arab and South African contingents. After Gaddafi, therefore, the role of countries such as Turkey and the Gulf monarchies will increase. Formally, the responsibilities for security will lie with the Libyans themselves. With uncertain results, of course. Including for European interests.

The risk is even more evident on the political front. Italy, Europe and the United States have wagered on a specific hypothesis: that the National Transitional Council (NTC) set up in Benghazi will manage to secure a reconciliation process by controlling the tribal rivalries and starting to create national institutions in a country where they have never existed. It’s a risky bet, complicated further by the role in the military offensive against Tripoli of the rebels in the west, the Berbers of the Nafusa Mountains [southwest of the capital]. How many among those who fought against Gaddafi are willing to recognise the leadership in Benghazi? Europe will no longer have the same influence once the rebels have taken over. Today — even yesterday — is the time to discuss the conditions that will follow Gaddafi, before we suffer a “catastrophic success”.

Economic agreements can serve as leverage. It is more than likely — and legitimate — that the European countries will try to secure their energy interests. On the other hand, it would be absurd if Europe, divided on supporting the rebels, is divided further on how to handle what comes after the war, or by squabbles over the unfreezing of Libyan assets in Europe, which should be used for securing guarantees on the future of Libya…

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

Middle East

Saudi Arabia’s Bra Problem

Women in Saudi Arabia have to buy their intimate clothing from male clerks. This causes much embarrassment for women customers seeking advice on bra sizes. The Labor Ministry is threatening to close all lingerie stores that fail to replace male staff with females

One would be surprised to be welcomed into a women’s lingerie store by male clerks in one of the world’s most conservative countries such as Saudi Arabia. And surprisingly that is just the case. The lingerie shops are being run by female staff worldwide and one would expect the same from this kingdom. Instead women in Saudi Arabia have to buy their intimate clothing from male clerks. Such irony.

Because in this country, all women are expected to have a male guardian, women are not permitted to vote or be elected to high political positions, they are prohibited from driving. Saudi Arabia is ranked 130 out of 134 countries for gender parity according to the World Economic Forum 2009 Global Gender Gap Report.

Religious police patrol the streets of Saudi Arabia to enforce keeping the sexes apart. In such a conservative society, women are banned from working in public places. The reason for that is to avoid their contact with men.

This causes much embarrassment for women customers seeking advice on cup sizes in lingerie stores. The shops are also not allowed to have fitting rooms. And the biggest complaint is that male clerks in general try to guess customers’ bra sizes by staring at their abayas.

Shops may hire females. But then again, they must train them and bear the cost of that. They are expected to cover their display windows in order to block the view into the stores. And should pay $930 a month to hire a male security guard. This is all to keep men from entering the shop.

In 2005, the Labor Ministry announced a plan to employ women in shops. In 2006, a law passed by lawmakers said women were allowed to work in stores that sell women’s items. But the law has not been put into practice.

Conservative Saudis look disapprovingly upon women entering the workforce. High unemployment among Saudi men has made contribution to some retailers’ unwillingness to hire female clerks and cashiers. But then again, growing rate of unemployment among women in the kingdom is currently at 30 percent and this ruling will create thousands of jobs for Saudi women.

Women’s intimate apparel represents 17 percent of the $2.3 billion Saudi women’s clothing market. The owners of lingerie stores resist replacing male sales clerks with women because they argue that this change will result with them losing customers. The resistance continues even though the Labor Ministry threatened to close all lingerie shops that failed to replace male staff. They believe the change will not be as fast as the government expects, because the women have to be trained from scratch.

Last year, in February, activists boycotted lingerie shops that employ men. Twenty-six women attended a 10-day course on selling women’s underwear held by activist Reem Assad, a lecturer in banking and finance at Jeddah’s liberal Dar Al Hekma Women’s College. The campaign, which began on Facebook and was dubbed “Enough Embarrassment,” received wide support from women and Islamic scholars. It aimed to get rid of men who work as sales clerks in these shops. The campaigners’ argument was that nothing has been done to employ women clerks since the announcement in 2005.

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

Why Golda Meir Was Right


In a 2007 research, Gunnar Heinsohn from the University of Bremen and Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, found out that some 11 million Muslims have been violently killed since 1948, of which 35,000, (0.3 percent) died during the six years of Arab war against Israel, or one out of every 315 fatalities. In contrast, over 90 percent who perished were killed by fellow Muslims.

According to Mssrs. Heinsohn and Pipes, the grisly inventory finds the total number of deaths in conflicts all over the world since 1950 numbering around 85 million. Of that, the Muslim Arab deaths in the Arab-Israeli conflict were at 46,000 including 11,000 during Israel’s war of independence. That makes 0.05 percent of all deaths in all conflicts, or 0.4 percent of all Arab deaths in the Arab-Israeli conflict.


Golda Meir, the fourth prime minister of Israel, or rather the “Mother of Israel,” had a perfectly realistic point when she said that peace in the Middle East would only be possible “when Arabs love their children more than they hate us.”

           — Hat tip: Jedilson Bonfim[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Indonesia: No Churches: Bogor Mayor Against the Law and Government

Diani Budiarto opposes churches on a street named after Abdullah bin Nuh, a Muslim religious leader. Christian leaders accuse him of pursuing his own political interests rather than upholding the law. Abdullah bin Nuh’s son Muhammad Mustofa has no objection to a Christian place of worship on the street named after his father.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — The refusal to allow the construction of the Yasmin Church, despite a green light from the country’s Supreme Court and government, is the result of the “personal action” of Diani Budiarto. For the latter, “no church will ever be built on an Islamic road” as long as he is mayor.

The decision by Bogor’s mayor (West Java) continues to be controversial. A member of the Prosperous Justice Party, he is opposed to Christian places of worship even though the congregation has all the necessary permits to build one.

The church was slated for construction on Abdullah bin Nuh Street, in the northern part of the city. During a meeting with Interior Minister Gamawan Fauzi, the mayor explained his objection. In his view, no Christian place of worship should be built on streets where Muslims are a majority.

The road in question is named after Abdullah bin Nuh, a famous Muslim religious leader from Cianjur (West Java) who passed away in 1987.

For Diani Budiarto, building a Christian place of worship is an insult to the memory of the Muslim scholar. In reality, Abdullah bin Nuh’s son, Muhammad Mustofa, who is also a religious scholar, said that he was not against a Protestant church on a street named after his father.

Fr Benny Susetyo PR, an activist with the Setara Institute, slammed the sitting mayor’s “bad example”, who appears to be pursuing “his own self-interest and could serve as a negative example that others might follow.”

Bona Sigalingging SH, a lawyer for the Yasmin Church, agrees. Dian Budiarto has “created a new series of problems, ignoring the primacy of the law.”

In Indonesia, places of worship need a building permit (Izin Mendirikan Bangunan). An application requires the signature of 60 local residents.

The Yasmin Church has the right permit, issued by Budiarto’s predecessor. Yet, construction has been disrupted several times by violent action carried out by Muslim extremists (see Mathias Hariyadi, “Christians protest against the new closure of the Yasmin Church in Bogor,” in AsiaNews, 16 March 2011).

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

Far East

China: New Corruption Charges Against the Red Cross and Other Charities

The Red Cross is accused of keeping portion of funds raised for the treatment of a girl with leukaemia. A public television network accuses the China Charity Federation of selling the invoices of tax-deductible donations. Expert calls for greater transparency to regain public trust.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) — More scandals are rocking China’s charities. Zhang Shiliang, the father of a four-year-old leukaemia patient, has accused the Red Cross Society of China of keeping 50,000 yuan of charity-auction funds meant to go towards his daughter’s medical bills. In another blow, the China Charity Federation is accused of charging handling fees for tax-deductible donations.

Zhang, a migrant from Hunan, said that Li Yidong, a man he knew through blogging promised last month that he would try to raise 80,000 yuan at a charity auction held through the Angel Fund, a fund-raising agency set up in 2005 under the Chinese Red Cross Foundation, a subsidiary of the Red Cross Society.

As the pronunciation of Zhang’s daughter’s name Ziling was similar to that of Zhang Zilin, Miss World 2007, Li invited the beauty queen to take part in the charity event. She agreed and brought a teapot from her collection to be sold at the auction on 2 July.

Li’s company bid 80,000 yuan for the teapot, and the beauty queen handed a ceremonial cheque for that amount for Zhang Shiliang and his daughter.

However, Zhang said the Angel Fund then sent him a notice that he was entitled to a one-off charity payment of no more than 30,000 yuan, asking him to sign a statement of acceptance.

Zhang explained that later he was promised the remaining 50,000 yuan but saw it as “a trap” and refused to sign.

Chinese Red Cross Foundation spokeswoman Li Jing stated there had been a mistake and that all the money would go for the girl’s medical treatment.

Meanwhile the China Charity Federation, the mainland’s second most important charity after the Red Cross, has been accused of charging a 50,000-yuan handling fee to the Beijing Chuangxinzhongyi company before it would issue an invoice for tax deduction.

Today, the China Charity Federation on its website said that the 50,000 yuan was a donation to cover its administrative fees since it does not receive public funds and must find money to finance its activities.

However, Central China Television (CCTV) revealed that Suntech, Beijing Chuangxinzhongyi’s parent company, had pledged to give solar panel and other products worth 15 million yuan for a total of 2 million yuan in tax deductions.

Luo Fanhua, a former employee of the Copyright Society of China, accused the China Charity Federation of selling the invoices in exchange for cash. Once the charity gets it, it does not check whether the promised donation is ever delivered.

The CCTV revealed that 200 schools had only received one solar panel each, even though the donor had promised to donate 3,700 panels said to be worth 17 million yuan.

Citing a former deputy manager of the Suntech subsidiary in charge of the distribution, CCTV said that the missing panels had been sold for 5.9 million yuan.

China Charity Federation Secretary General Liu Guolin told CCTV that he was not sure if the solar panels donated last year had been sold, but promised to conduct an investigation. The company promised all donations would be distributed before the end of this year.

Many Chinese charities have been marred in scandals. In recent years, their credibility has taken a major hit. The Red Cross has been accused of not recording all the money it receives from donors. Members of the Red Cross have also been accused of using donations for personal use like dinner, rather than charity.

Professor Wang Ming, from Tsinghua University’s Non-governmental Organisation Research Centre, said, “Our government should make rules to demand all NGOs improve transparency.”

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

Australia — Pacific

Townsville Mother Makes Son Wear Humiliating ‘I’m a Thief’ Sign

A seaside town in Australia is in uproar over the punishment a mother has handed out to her young son, making him wear a sign in public labelling him a thief.

‘Do not trust me. I will steal from you as I am a thief,’ the sign around his neck read as he stood in a park in Townsville in Queensland.

The boy, aged about 10, remained standing with his head lowered in shame while his family ate lunch nearby.

But his humiliation did not end there — he was made to wear Shrek ears and was also seen writing lines, believed to say repeatedly that he would not steal.

While his family may have deemed the public humiliation applicable, parents who saw the boy wearing the sign were appalled.

One woman, Diane Mayers, said she was so ‘horrified’ that she contacted the local child safety services.

She told the Townsville Bulletin newspaper: ‘The boy just kept his head down and was staring at the ground.

‘A lot of people walked past and were laughing at him.’

The punishment was also condemned by child psychologist Nicole Pierotti — herself a mother — who said she was shocked that this treatment was used.

‘Humiliation is not the best way to punish the child,’ she said. ‘This gives the child the message that they should be sneakier.

‘He’s learning, “don’t get caught”.

‘It also makes you wonder what else goes on in the family. Parents are supposed to be the people a child can trust.’

Miss Pierotti said that if the child had stolen something from a shop, it would have been far more appropriate to make him go back to the premises and admit to what he had done.

‘That would be much better than humiliating him in public,’ she said.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Townsville Mother Defends Shaming Her Son

A TOWNSVILLE mother who made her young son sit in public with a sign reading “Do not trust me. I will steal from you as I am a thief” pinned to his shirt has defended her actions, saying she had tried everything to stop him from shoplifting.

The woman, dubbed “Tough Love Mum” after the Bulletin’s front page story, has made national headlines this morning sparking a frenzied debate over parenting.

The boy, believed to be about 10, had been forced to stand on The Strand for about an hour with the sign in an attempt to publicly shame him.

The woman said she had tried everything to stop her son from stealing before resorting to the drastic action.

“We’ve had a process over the last three years of him shop-lifting and stealing whatever he can get his hands on,” she said.

“I have taken him to the police station, had the police officers take him around, shown him a paddy wagon, shown him all the cells, shown him the process of being charged.

“I’ve taken him to the court house, I’ve taken him out to Cleveland (Youth Detention Centre) to drive around, I’ve done all that.

“I have put him into courses, I have had counselling down, I have done everything I can.

“You name it I’ve had him at the shops where he’s stolen from, I’ve got the shop owners to call the police and have the police come and have a talk to him.

“I’ve had lots of things happen.”

The mum said the last straw happened last Wednesday.

“I let him go to the shops to get the family some milk or some bread or something,” she said.

“Then he’s got these chocolates in his top drawer of his bedroom.”

The woman said the she believed her son had learnt from public humiliation which forced him to deal with the consequences of his actions.

“I am hoping he has (learnt his lesson), I don’t think he will be game to do it again, I really don’t but time will tell, soon as I trust him to go out to a shop,” she said.

“(He got) lots of looks and people laughing at him it wasn’t very nice for me to watch that at all.

“I think he has learnt his lesson, I think that hour down on The Strand, is enough for him to go I don’t want to ever do this again.

Townsville Child Psychologist Nicole Pierotti, who is also a parent, said she was “shocked that this form of punishment could be used.

“This gives the child the message that they should be sneakier,” she said.

“He’s learning ‘don’t get caught’. It also makes you wonder what else goes on in the family.

“Parents are supposed to be the people a child can trust.”

The mum said there was nothing wrong with the public punishment.

“These days you blow on your kids the wrong way and it is considered child abuse, if you speak to your child in the wrong way.

“If you don’t wrap them up in cotton wool it is child abuse.”

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Peru Suspends Coca Eradication Program

The Peruvian government says it has suspended coca eradication efforts in an area where much coca is grown.

The Huallaga valley is Peru’s second largest coca producing region.

Peru’s new government said Wednesday it had suspended its eradication program for coca plants in the east central part of the nation, a move that raised doubts about efforts to combat illegal drugs.

Richard Soberon, head of the anti-narcotics program for President Ollanta Humala’s government, said there was an indefinite “pause” in the eradication program in the Alto Huallaga region northeast of Lima to evaluate the effort.

“In every country — in Afghanistan, in Colombia, in Bolivia, in Mexico — it is normal to have these pauses to do the necessary evaluation of what has happened, to correct mistakes,” he told AFP.

Soberon said that in the past, the program eradicated some cultivation areas “to placate lawmakers and other countries but without assuring the sustainability of the action and preventing the movement to other areas.” He added that 12 years of eradication efforts have had little impact on the production of coca in Peru.

The Huallaga region, a remote, mountainous rainforest area, is the second largest in Peru for production of coca leaf, which is used to make cocaine. Meanwhile, authorities announced the seizure of 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) of cocaine in separate operations in Lima and northern Peru, and the arrests of five Colombians and three Peruvians. In both cases, the drugs were bound for Europe.

According to a United Nations report, Peru in 2010 became the world’s largest producer of coca leaf, overtaking Colombia, where production has seen a steady decline.

The 2011 UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report says Peru had 61,200 hectares (150,000 acres) of coca under cultivation in 2010, two percent more than in the previous year.

Peruvian officials estimated that the amount of cocaine produced in the country in 2010 was 330 tons, close to the estimated 350 tons produced by Colombia.

The election of Humala, who was sworn in July 28, has raised questions about the government’s anti-drug policy because of his party’s links to major coca leaf producers. Coca leaf is still legal in the country for traditional and medicinal uses.

Former interior minister Fernando Rospigliosi said the indefinite suspension “sends a bad signal.” “It says to the coca producers and guerrillas, ‘Go ahead, plant your coca, nothing will happen,’“ he said.

But Interior Minister Oscar Valdes said the move does not signal a change in drug policy.

“The public should be clear that the reduction of illicit crops will continue, as President Humala has said, and there will be a full frontal fight against drug trafficking,” Valdes said.

The eradication, which is done manually, is carried out as part of a cooperation agreement with the United States.

The US ambassador to Peru, Rose Likins, said Wednesday that she had not been notified but commented that “it is natural that a new government may want to review these programs.” “I’m not surprised, but it would have been nice to have had news on this before,” she said.

Peru received $37 million in US aid in 2010, a level of support that has been consistently declining.

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


Italy: Bigamist Immigrant’s Wife Reports Husband Over Rival Spouse

Treviso, 22 August (AKI) — The second wife of a longterm Muslim immigrant in Italy has reported her husband to police after authorities allowed his first wife to join the household in the northern city of Treviso from Senegal.

The 45-year-old immigrant’s second wife, who has twin daughters of eight with him reportedly cannot countenance living with him, his second wife and their two sons of 15 and 16 with his first wife.

The man, who has lived in Italy for over a decade, runs little risk of prosecution for bigamy, however.

Under Italian law, bigamist long-term immigrants are allowed to bring more than one wife to live with them in their adoptive country provided they are ‘integrated’.

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

Migrant Uprising in Pozzallo: 50 Escape: 5 Officers Hurt

(AGI) Ragusa — There was an uprising at the first aid post in Pozzallo last night as hundreds of migrants tried to escape.

Fifteen or so officers attempted to quell the rioting refugees.

Sixteen escapees were tracked down, but another fifty or so are still missing and a police search is ongoing. Thirteen migrants have been arrested and charged with causing damage and obstruction. Five police officers have been hurt.

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

UK: ‘She’s Big: Black, Smokes and Likes Chicken Burgers’: The Only Four Things Sham Marriage Husband Could Tell Police About His Bride-to-Beby Rob Cooper

As a vicar, Robert Simpson is used to dealing with couples who claim to have fallen in love at first sight.

But when he met father-of-two Mojeed Bello, 31, and Carina Merselina, 25, to arrange their big day, he realised something was wrong as the couple appeared to know nothing about each other.

The only thing Bello could tell officers about his beloved was that she’s ‘big, black, liked smoking and chicken burgers’.

And after Mr Simpson, the vicar at St James, Gloucester, called the police, it turned out his hunch was correct.

Police later discovered that Bello, a Nigerian illegal immigrant, had arranged to marry Dutch national Merselina so that he could continue living in the UK.

She admitted that she had been recruited at a pop festival in Holland and agreed to go ahead with the marriage in return for £3,000.

After the pair admitted the scam, Bello was jailed for 14 months while his would-be bride was jailed for 300 days at Gloucester Crown Court.

Merselina’s sister Loreen was also jailed for 300 days after admitting being involved in the fraud.

Prosecutor Martin Steen said the vicar was so concerned he went to check the address nearby that the couple had given him.

‘When he got to the flat he found it had all the appearances of student digs,’ he said.

‘He saw no evidence that it was the couple’s home, as claimed. His visit did nothing to reassure him that this was a genuine marriage.

‘However, he did see the couple at that address but again saw nothing between them to confirm their asserted closeness.

‘He determined the marriage was a sham and he reported it to the police.’

Mr Steen added: ‘He noticed then that there didn’t appear to be anything of a real relationship between the woman and her fiance and they did not give out that they were properly engaged to each other.’

When first questioned by police, Mr Steen said Bello continued to claim it was a genuine relationship and told police he had first met Carina at Notting Hill Carnival.

‘But he appeared to know little about her except that she was “big, black and liked smoking and chicken burgers,”‘ Mr Steen said.

Loreen Merselina travelled to Gloucester with her sister Carina to assert that the sham marriage was genuine.

Bello, from Peckham, London, Carina and her sister Loreen, 35, of no fixed address, all admitted conspiracy to stop Bello being deported from the UK.

The court heard that another man who had also been involved in the scam, Aderojo Babatunde, had been sentenced at an earlier hearing to 300 days’ imprisonment after he admitted a similar offence.

Mr Steen told the court that Bello had lived in the UK since 2006 and a previous attempt by him to marry an EU national in 2008 had failed.

Stephen Thomas, for Bello, said he was simply desperate to stay in this country with his partner so their two children could have a better life than he had in Nigeria.

He realised he had been foolish and he bitterly regretted his behaviour, Mr Thomas said.

Bello’s two children, aged six and seven, are pupils at Peckham junior school and have been writing affectionate letters to their father in jail, he added.

For Carina, David Billingham said she was a student in Holland and was tempted to take part simply because she needed the money.

Judge William Hart said they had ‘engaged in a cynical commercial arrangement to try to flout UK immigration law’.

He said ‘This sort of offence is becoming somewhat prevalent — it strikes at the very heart of the UK system for regulating the population.’

He went on ‘This was a particularly bad example of this type of offending in my judgement. It only failed due to the intervention and vigilance of others.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Italy: ‘At Least Gay 100 Priests Targeted by Facebook Blackmailers’

Isernia, 18 August (AKI) — At least 100 gay priests across Italy were blackmailed by two southerners who used social networking websites to meet them, Italian weekly Panorama reported on Friday.

The pair asked the priests for up to 10,000 euros each to keep quiet about their virtual sex sessions via webcam and in some cases, actual encounters, Panorama said.

The weekly cited a judicial probe spearheaded by magistrates in the town of Isernia in Italy’s southern Molise region, which led to the arrest on 26 July of 35-year-old Diego Maria Caoggiano and Giuseppe Trementino, aged 30.

The men live together in the town of Bagnoli del Trigno, where they have been granted house arrest, Panorama said.

Police found the contact details of over 100 priests on computers and mobile phones belonging to the suspects, as well as video recordings of sex sessions involving priests and incriminating messages in what prosecutors described as a “disturbing” case.

Trementino, a despatch rider, told Panorama through his lawyer that he had initially been seduced by a priest who he had delivered a parcel to and had sex with soon after they exchanged phone numbers. The priest had made regular payments to him via Postpay “often of his own free will” and had offered to buy him a car, Tremonti claimed.

The priest reported Trementino to police in May but he meanwhile met another priest on the social networking website Facebook. Trementino claimed to have spent three days with the priest in a hotel in Rome during a conference, and said the priest paid for his rail ticket and gave him 300 euros “to buy canabis, alcohol, condoms and lubricants”.

Trementino claimed he was soon inundated with erotic messages and requests for sex from “dozens” of priests with whom he came into contact on Facebook and Messenger.

“I would begin to speak to them using dirty talk and they would get undressed and masturbate,” he said. “I would get up to five requests a day, and even had one from France” he said.

“Asking them for money was a way of filtering the requests, which had got out of hand, he said, adding that he became “disgusted” by the priests’ “absurd” and “asphixiating” needs.

Caggiano, who had access to Tremontino’s computer and to his friends’ social networking profiles, appears to have been the chief blackmailer, asking some priests for up to 10,000 euros, according to investigators.

One priest who paid out 7,000 euros to the pair said he had to use money given to him by parishioners for blessing their homes.

There are “a multitude of priests” in Italy who are keen for sexual contact via the Internet, where they exchange information on the casual partners they meet there, Isernia prosecutors said, cited by Panorama.

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