Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110911

Financial Crisis
»Eurozone Crisis: Dutch PM Wants to Kick Out Faulty Countries
»Greece: Unemployment at 26% in 2012, Say Unions
»Greece: Finance Ministry Names Major Tax Debtors
»Greek Banks to Get Off Lighter Than Expected
»Greek Crisis: Brussels Squeezes Slovakia on Rescue Plan
»Italy: Little Change to Cost of Parliamentarians
»Italy: Balanced Budget in Constitution, Provinces Eliminated
»Italy: Napolitano Sounds the Alarm on Growth
»Netherlands: Wilders Challenges Government on Greece and Eurozone
»FBI Ends Up Offending Muslims at Outreach Workshop
»Flight 93
»Leaders in Tears: Clinton and Laura Bush Weep Amid Emotional Bush Tribute as a Nation Begins Ceremonies to Remember 9/11
Europe and the EU
»Anger at European Ruling Which Would Stop Parents Knowing Sex of Unborn Child
»Bedfordshire Police Rescue 24 ‘Slaves’ In Dawn Raid
»Hurricane Katia Threatens Flood Chaos in Northern Britain
»Italy: 9/11: Berlusconi to Obama, Al Qaeda is the Past
»Italy: Council of State Head Urges Judges to Avoid Press Exposure
»Italy: Hague Tribunal to Hear Battisti Case, Says Frattini
»Polish Youth in Trouble, Says New Survey
»Spain: Almost 900,000 Illiterates, 70% Are Women
»The Sun Rises in the East: German Solar Firms Eclipsed by Chinese Rivals
»UK: ‘Husband’ Arrested on Suspicion of Murdering Wife, 20, And Toddler Son Following House Fire
»UK: 9/11 Muslim Protesters Burn American Flag During Minute’s Silence
»UK: 9/11 Anniversary: Muslim Protesters Burn US Flag Outside Embassy in London
»UK: EDL Clash With Locals in Edgware Road
North Africa
»Egypt: Secular Parties Take to the Streets to Correct Path of the Jasmine Revolution
»Egypt: Obama: Government to Honor International Obligations
»Egypt: Cairo: Israeli Embassy Attacked, State of Emergency Declared
»Libya: Niger Minister, We Are Not Capable of Shutting Borders
»Libya: ANSA Reporter: Tens of Buried Tanks in Dufan
»Libya: Tuareg on the Run, Hated by Both Winners and Losers
»Libya: Fight Against Gaddafi is ‘Far From Over’
»Libya: Militants View Libya as ‘Arms Bazaar’
Israel and the Palestinians
»Arab-Israeli Beauty Defies Taboos and Poses in a Bikini
Middle East
»Erdogan Points Finger at Israeli Bomb
»Gulf: GCC: New Step Towards Accession of Jordan and Morocco
»Qatar: Foreigners Unhappy About Wage Increase for Natives
South Asia
»Afghanistan: Taliban Suicide Bomber, 50 US Soldiers Injured
»India: Karnataka Boys Beaten and Arrested for Having Converted to Christianity
»Pakistani Christian Killed During Pilgrimage to the Town of Mary
»Paul Bhatti: Muslims and Minorities, Innocent Victims of Extremism Pakistan
»US Civil Officers in Afghanistan Cost 2 Bln USD
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Guinea Bissau’s PM Says Country Would Welcome Gaddafi
Latin America
»China’s Trade With Latin America Raises Eyebrows

Financial Crisis

Eurozone Crisis: Dutch PM Wants to Kick Out Faulty Countries

De Volkskrant, 9 September 2011

A taboo may have been broken. “Rutte [Dutch PM] first to threaten with expulsion from eurozone”, headlines De Volkskrant. In a letter to the Dutch parliament, the Prime Minister writes that if euro countries systematically fail to comply with budgetary rules, they can take the option to leave the euro. Writing in the Financial Times on September 8 Rutte and his Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager made it clearer: “In the future, the ultimate sanction can be to force countries to leave the euro.” The Dutch government, known, according to NRC Handelsblad, as the “naggers of Europe” on questions of budget discipline, has also suggested that there should be an independent European budget commissioner. “The ultimate punishment of a forced exit is, according to the government, something for the long run. A change in the European treaty would take years […] In the short term it is suggesting a special euro commissioner for budget discipline with extensive powers”, writes De Volkskrant. Finland and Germany support the plan for the special commissioner, says De Jager.

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

Greece: Unemployment at 26% in 2012, Say Unions

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, SEPTEMBER 9 — Unemployment in Greece will reach 26% next year. This is the alarming figure contained in a study carried out by the employment institute of two of the country’s biggest trade unions, GSEE and ADEDY, who operate on behalf of private and public sector employees respectively. The policy followed until now by the Greek government leads only to a deterioration of the country’s economy, the study says.

The institute says that the main characteristic of the current situation is the significant rise in unemployment, which grew by 95% in the first quarter of 2011 compared to the corresponding period of 2008, while forecasts suggest that the real level of unemployment in 2012 will hit 26%.

The research suggests that the actual economy has regressed by a decade, with the continuing limitation of workers’ rights. The situation is no better with regard to workers’ income. Institute figures suggest that the real wage over the 2010-2011 period dropped by 11.5% for the economy in general and by 9.2% in the private sector.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Finance Ministry Names Major Tax Debtors

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, SEPTEMBER 9 — The Greek Finance Ministry on Thursday published a list of 6,000 companies that owe the state more than 150,000 euros each in outstanding taxes in a fresh bid to crack down on widespread tax evasion that has helped bring the economy to its current dire state. The list, published on the website of the General Secretariat for Information Systems, is topped by the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE), which is said to owe the state 1.26 billion euros. Collectively the 6,000 firms owe some 30 billion euros — out of the total 42 billion euros that is due to tax authorities. The list includes 13 professional soccer clubs — including top-flight clubs AEK and PAOK, with debts of 103.2 million euros and 68.4 million euros respectively — as well as several basketball teams and the state-run Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA), which is said to owe 163.5 million euros. “The publication of this data will significantly boost efforts aimed at collecting revenue and consolidating trust between the ministry and taxpayers by promoting transparent procedures,” the ministry said in a statement as reported by daily Kathimerini. The statement added that it would publish another list of individuals who owe large sums in outstanding taxes once the process has been cleared by the Hellenic Data Protection Authority.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greek Banks to Get Off Lighter Than Expected

Der Standard, 8 September 2011

“The bail-outs to Greece are turning out to be much less costly for banks than anticipated,” reports Der Standard. Based on a study by Barclays Capital, the daily writes that institutions holding Greek securities would lose only from five to ten percent of their initial investment, rather than the 21 percent estimated. Barclays’ new estimate is based on the current value of Greek bonds and not their nominal face value, which is fixed when the bonds are issued.

However, notes Der Standard, “doubts are growing among experts over whether the expected participation by the banks in the rescue of Greece will really diminish the debt.” According to the newspaper, the head of the European Financial Stability Fund, Klaus Regling, has said the plan “does not work. The idea was to buy time. Countries should fulfil their obligations. That works in Portugal and Ireland, but not yet in Greece.”

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

Greek Crisis: Brussels Squeezes Slovakia on Rescue Plan

Pravda, 7 September 2011

“Brussels putting pressure on Slovakia: make a decision on the ‘stability fund for the euro’, leads Pravda, recalling that Slovakia has decided to put off till December the vote in Parliament on the Greek bailout. It’s a decision that could undermine the European response to the crisis in Greece, writes the paper. For the European Commission, “the speedy approval of the agreements from the special summit on July 21 in the eurozone on expanding the powers of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) is also in Slovakia’s interest,” the daily writes. Prime Minister Iveta Radicová, however, lacks support within her coalition government. The Parliamentary Speaker, Richard Sulik, meanwhile described the EFSF as a “tool to produce more debt” and declared that in setting up a “bulwark for the euro” the EU is becoming like the Soviet Union. “If Brussels puts on the pressure, it’s solely because all [the leaders of the eurozone] agreed ahead of time” on the bailout, adds the Bratislava newspaper, which concludes that “the hesitation can only drive up the final sum.”

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

Italy: Little Change to Cost of Parliamentarians

Incompatibility rules loosened

ROME — Surprise, surprise. The government amendment that beefs up the budget package by raising VAT, and enhances fairness by imposing a supertax on top earners and bringing forward the pensionable age for women to 65, also gives ministers, deputies and senators a tidy little saving. As we wait for the promised constitutional bill to halve the number of parliamentarians, which even today might not reach the Prime Minister’s Office, the budget’s article 13 on the cost of politics has been comprehensively revised. Cuts to allowances for deputies and senators have been trimmed back to barely a sixth of the amount in the original text while the incompatibility of parliamentary service with other public offices has been loosened.

To start with, the cuts to remunerations or responsibility allowances for members of constitutional bodies — 10% for the portion in excess of €90,000 and 20% in excess of €150,000 — will no longer be immediate and permanent. Instead, they will be applied for this year, next year and 2013 only. The modification voted yesterday by the Senate means that the cut will not affect the President’s Office or the Constitutional Court…

English translation by Giles Watson

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

Italy: Balanced Budget in Constitution, Provinces Eliminated

(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 8 — The two most recent measures approved this morning by the Italian government in addition to the budget bill passed last night in the Senate with 167 votes in favour and 141 against, and which will be examined today by the Chamber of Deputies, include introducing the principle of a balanced budget into the Constitution and eliminating the provincial governments. Provincial governments will be replaced by Metropolitan City governments. The only exception will be the Autonomous Provinces of Trento and Bolzano. The goal of the measures is to reduce the costs of government: “when this law goes into effect,” explained the bill approved in the council of ministers, “a reduction of the overall costs of the political and administrative entities must result in each region”. The regulations enforcing a balanced budget with constitutional law will take effect at the start of the 2014 fiscal year. The bill approved today establishes changes to three articles of the Constitution: not only article 81, but also article 53 (on taxation of citizens) and article 119 (fiscal federalism). The draft law establishes that “the federal budget must respect the balance of revenue and expenses. Resorting to debt is not allowed, unless during adverse phases of the economy within the limited effects resulting from these cycles, or due to a need that cannot be funded with ordinary budgetary decisions. The bill establishes that only “exceptional events” can override the balanced budget principle, but this must be established “with an absolute majority vote” in both houses of Parliament. Respecting the balanced budget principle will also be a requirement for “municipal, provincial, metropolitan city and regional governments”, which must take this into account as part of their financial independence of revenues and expenses.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Napolitano Sounds the Alarm on Growth

Stagnant GDP is ‘dramatic’ says president

(ANSA) — Palermo, September 9 — Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said Friday that stagnant growth in the country’s economy is “dramatic”.

Speaking in Palermo, the head of state said that lowering the national debt is crucial to recovery, citing “common practices” in the Italian economy that have become “an obstacle to sound management of financial resources”.

Napolitano’s statements came as Istat, the Italian statistics agency, announced sluggish growth so far in 2011, with GDP rising by only 0.3% in the second quarter of 2011 compared to the first quarter and by 0.8% over the second quarter of 2010.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) announced forecasts Thursday that growth in Italy would reach a virtual standstill in the second half of the year, with third quarter GDP falling by 0.1% and rising in the fourth by 0.1%.

Napolitano’s speech followed two cost-cutting moves made by the cabinet Thursday: a bill to change the Constitution so balanced budgets will be a requirement for governments; and the abolition of Italy’s provincial administrations.

The moves are part of a 54-billion-euro austerity packaged aimed at balancing the budget by 2013, which passed from the Senate to the House Wednesday.

The Italian president underlined the need for a “comprehensive review of institutional arrangements, economic reality and common practices”.

Alluding to the sharp economic divide between Italy’s prosperous north and struggling south, he encouraged Italians to strive for greater “national cohesion”.

“There is no territory to be privileged as more virtuous, nor punished for being more troubled”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Wilders Challenges Government on Greece and Eurozone

Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-Islam PVV, has called on prime minister Mark Rutte to ‘use action rather than words’ and make sure Greece is expelled from the eurozone.

Wilders used the microblogging service Twitter to urge Rutte ‘not to just call for countries to be put out of the eurozone but to put Greece out now’.

Wilders was responding to an opinion piece in Thursday’s Financial Times in which Rutte and finance minister Jan Kees de Jager said expulsion from the eurozone would be the ultimate sanction for countries which did not keep monetary union rules.

‘In future, the ultimate sanction can be to force countries to leave the euro. That will require a treaty amendment and is therefore a measure for the longer term. It is not a sanction that can be applied at the present time,’ the article said.

Wilders’, whose party supports the minority cabinet on economic policy, has threatened to drop his backing for the government if the latest Greek bail-out costs Dutch taxpayers money.

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


FBI Ends Up Offending Muslims at Outreach Workshop

By Emily Heffter

FBI agents participating in an outreach workshop Saturday hoped to improve their relationship with Seattle’s Muslim, Arab, East African and Sikh communities, but ended up offending some participants.

About 20 community leaders attended the workshop at North Seattle Community College, which featured presentations by the FBI, Seattle police and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The event was aimed at improving communication and building trust between law enforcement and communities that feel targeted and profiled by authorities.

A Seattle Police Department presentation on the rights of citizens when approached by an officer was well-received.

But the event grew confrontational during the FBI’s presentation, which community members complained was too focused on Islamic terrorist groups. Then, the agents showed a PowerPoint slide about state-sponsored terrorism that included a photograph of a man many in the audience believed was a Shia Islamic leader based on his clothes. Several people in the audience asked whether it was Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a political and religious leader who led the 1979 Iranian Revolution and died in 1989.

The photo was small, and the two FBI agents giving the presentation said they didn’t know who it was. That offended members of the audience even more, and one of them compared it to calling the pope a terrorist or serving pork to Muslims.

Afterward, event organizer Amin Odeh said he’d have to do “damage control” to try to explain to the community what happened.

“I was ready to walk out, but this is exactly why we need to do things like this,” he said. “Maybe in their eyes they’re small things, but to the community they’re huge things.”

Turnout to the event was small. Distrust of law enforcement is so fierce that some Muslims refused to attend, said Jeff Siddiqui, a Pakistani-American and Lynnwood real-estate agent who is a member of American Muslims of Puget Sound.

“Most Muslims are not coming because they feel that the door is closed to them, so why would they come to a PR class?” he said.

While the Muslim community’s relationship with city government has improved under Mayor Mike McGinn, Siddiqui said those in the Muslim community do not enjoy the same relationship with Police Chief John Diaz.

A Police Department detective at the meeting weighed in on the FBI’s presentation, explaining that whoever was in the photograph, “The community is tired of seeing their images represented” in presentations about terrorism.

The FBI presentation was led by Seattle agents Brenda Wilson and Daniel Guerrero. They wouldn’t comment to the media afterward, but during a question-and-answer session they told community leaders they welcomed their feedback.

Guerrero said the reason the FBI came to the meeting was to hear from community members. He acknowledged the FBI is “an agency of people” and is therefore imperfect.

“First of all, the FBI does not profile,” he said. “We don’t target because of religion. We don’t target because of race. We don’t care about that. We care about protecting America.”

Many attendees said they have had bad experiences with the FBI, so the agent’s denial that profiling ever occurs undermined the rest of the conversation.

“When you say you don’t profile — and our reality is you do — you negate everything else you say,” Siddiqui told them.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Flight 93

Well we all know who broke the circle of peace on 9/11: it was 19 Islamic terrorists. Thus Murdoch’s circle-breaking crescent-creating theme can only be depicting the actions of the terrorists. Not only are they depicted as smashing our circle of peace, but they leave their own crescent symbol in its place.

In a desperate attempt to avoid this implication, Park Superintendent Keith Newlin insists that it was the passengers and crew who broke the circle of peace on 9/11. “They are the one’s who brought the plane down,” he says. Outrageous.


Will the nation’s assembled news media please ask Superintendent Newlin who is being depicted as breaking the circle? If he admits it was the terrorists, will people recognize the implication: that the broken circle of embrace is in fact a memorial to the terrorists?

[Note: This is a letter to the editor of Somerset’s Daily American from Tom Burnett who is the father of Tom Burnett, Jr., a hero passenger aboard Flight 93 when terrorists crashed the plane.]

           — Hat tip: Egghead[Return to headlines]

Leaders in Tears: Clinton and Laura Bush Weep Amid Emotional Bush Tribute as a Nation Begins Ceremonies to Remember 9/11

Thoughtful: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visit section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery on September 10, which contains service members killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars

[Note from Egghead: Notice that most American leaders and their wives are dressed in formal clothes, but Obama and his wife are dressed casually. When you notice that Obama has no necktie, remember that Obama often skips wearing neckties — and understand that Muslims HATE neckties — considering neckties to be a negative symbol of Western colonization. Neither Obama nor his wife are dressed appropriately to honor the fallen American soldiers.]

           — Hat tip: Egghead[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Anger at European Ruling Which Would Stop Parents Knowing Sex of Unborn Child

Parents could be prohibited from learning the sex of their unborn baby if a European ruling is observed.

Doctors should be told to ‘withhold information about the sex of the foetus’, according to a draft resolution passed by a Council of Europe equal opportunities committee.

A leading parenting group expressed anger at the proposed change and a senior doctor indicated that it would be pointless.

The proposal is a reaction to the practice of selectively aborting foetuses — usually female — which is said to be growing in some former Soviet states which are also members of the council.

It would apply to all 47 member states, including the UK.

Justine Roberts of online parents network Mumsnet said prospective parents want to know the gender of their child for practical reasons, such as whether a room could be shared with siblings.

Mrs Roberts told the Sunday Telegraph: ‘I can understand that there may be problems in some parts of the world but it seems ridiculous to apply the thinking to countries where this has not been shown to be a problem.

‘I think pregnant women would feel pretty angry and disappointed to be told they can’t be told the gender of their unborn child.’

Dr Gillian Lockwood, a former vice-chair of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ ethics committee, said the directive would be of little benefit in Britain.

She explained that most couples who learn their unborn child’s gender do so at around 20 weeks, by which stage an abortion is permitted only on medical grounds.

The Council of Europe does not have the power to impose its recommendations on governments but they are frequently enacted as a result of conventions and treaties.

The committee’s draft resolution will go before the council’s full parliamentary assembly next month.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Bedfordshire Police Rescue 24 ‘Slaves’ In Dawn Raid

One hundred police officers backed up by firearms officers, dogs and a force helicopter raided a caravan site in Bedfordshire early this morning to rescue victims of slavery.

Twenty-four men were taken from the site who are believed to have been held as slaves at the site and forced to live appalling conditions and made to work for no pay.

They were from English and Eastern European backgrounds and were taken from the Greenacre caravan site in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, to an undisclosed medical reception centre where health professionals were waiting to to see if they required medical attention

This morning’s dawn swoop on the site at 5.30 followed weeks of intelligence gathering by police who believed people were being held there against their will.

Three men and a woman living on the site in Leighton Buzzard were arrested in connection with alleged slavery offences and were taken to police station across the county and in neighbouring Hertfordshire.

Officers from the The Beds and Herts Major Crime Unit backed up by specialist unit were involved in the raid.

Search warrants had been granted and the arrests were made under the Slavery and Servitude Act 2010.

Detective Chief Inspector Sean O’Neil from the Beds and Herts Major Crime Unit said “The men we found at the site were in a poor state of physical health and the conditions they were living in were shockingly filthy and cramped.

“We believe that some of them had been living and working there in a state of virtual slavery, some for just a few weeks and others for up to 15 years.

“Because of the number of victims and suspects size of the site, we needed the assistance from specialist units.”

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Hurricane Katia Threatens Flood Chaos in Northern Britain

Rare weather conditions bring 80mph-plus winds on an Atlantic conveyor belt as forecasters warn of high tides and heavy waves

Severe gales and flooding are expected to hit parts of the UK as hurricane Katia makes its way across the Atlantic.

Winds of up to 80mph are predicted to hit north-west Scotland by Monday, with Northern Ireland, north Wales and northern England also likely to be affected.

Forecaster Michael Dukes, of MeteoGroup UK, said: “It looks likely that this will be a significant storm event for mid-September. Strong winds have been predicted that could result in trees coming down, causing major structural damage and travel delays. Inevitably, with the remnants of a tropical storm, there will also be a risk of flash flooding.

“The hurricane is moving slowly at the moment and current predictions show that the remnants of the storm will hit north-west Scotland by Monday.”

While it is rare for so-called “warm core” hurricanes to turn into “cold core” hurricanes crossing the Atlantic, rather than declining into a depression, unusual weather conditions have made Katia more threatening. It is the second major Atlantic hurricane of this year’s season and caused 90mph winds and 20ft waves in the United States.

The storm will hit the west coast of Ireland first. “This is on the way and it is a significant storm,” Met Éireann forecaster Gerry Murphy said. His organisation is predicting winds of 100mph, with the north seeing the worst winds.

By the time Katia reaches the UK on Monday, it is expected to have declined from a category four hurricane — the maximum on the scale is five — to a strong post-tropical storm.

On Saturday morning Katia remained a category one hurricane and was accelerating north-eastwards. It is expected to make landfall in Ireland around dawn on Monday. Tropical hurricanes are usually slow-moving phenomena, fuelled by warm seas and humid air, which fizzle out as they move north into the colder air of the Atlantic.

In Katia’s case, it appears that unusually low-altitude and strengthening jet stream winds between North Carolina and New York are speeding its passage towards Ireland and the UK and allowing it to maintain an unusual intensity.

Tom Tobler, of MeteoGroup, said: “It is looking like the storms will hit early on Monday morning, with the most severe weather coming in the middle of the day. Gusts of over 60mph will be seen quite widely over northern and central Scotland and Northern Ireland and even down into northern England.

“The maximum gusts in western Scotland could easily get up to 75mph or 80mph and potentially it could get above that. It could cause disruption and uproot trees, especially as they still have a lot of leaves on, being early autumn.”

Forecasters say the predicted high winds could coincide with high tides and western coasts in particular are at risk from localised flooding.

An Environment Agency spokesman stated: “At present there is a low risk of flooding across the north coast of Wales and the north-west coast of England during Monday from strong to gale force winds, large waves and a surge which coincides with a period of spring tides.”

           — Hat tip: ESW[Return to headlines]

Italy: 9/11: Berlusconi to Obama, Al Qaeda is the Past

(AGI) Rome — “We can say today that al-Qaeda is the past, and the peaceful Arab Spring is the future”. These are the words Silvio Berlusconi expressed in a message to the Promoters of Freedom on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 massacre. He added he wrote a letter to President Obama.

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

Italy: Council of State Head Urges Judges to Avoid Press Exposure

(AGI) Rome — The President of the Council of State says magistrates should steer clear of media exposure. Pasquale De Lise said that they should “stay away from media exposure and over-exposure,” currently “the source of protagonism.” He was speaking at the press presentation of the celebrations to mark the 180th anniversary of the founding of the Council. With reference to the Council members, De Lise remarked that “this does not apply in our case,” although he recognised that “press activity is extremely important and a constitutional right that, when deployed correctly, is one of the greatest expressions of progress in society and the values of liberty and democracy.” .

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

Italy: Hague Tribunal to Hear Battisti Case, Says Frattini

Italy to present case against Brazil by the end of the month

(ANSA) — Rome, September 8 — The International Court of Justice in The Hague will hear the extradition case of former Italian left-wing terrorist Cesare Battisti before the end of the month, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said on Thursday.

The foreign minister met with the Brazilian ambassador in Rome Wednesday to discuss the case of Battisti, who currently has political asylum in Brazil, and to address a September 15 deadline to name a representative to the court, which the country has yet to do.

“If Brazil does not name a representative, we’ll ask for the court to appoint one on its behalf,” said Frattini.

Battisti is wanted for the murder of four people in the 1970s when he was part of an extremist left-wing group.

To the outrage of the Italian government, the Brazilian supreme court voted in June not extradite the former terrorist and to uphold a decision by Brazilian ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on the grounds that Battisti would face “political persecution” in Italy, prompting Italy to take its case to The Hague.

Frattini is expected to meet with Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota in New York later this month.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Polish Youth in Trouble, Says New Survey

The position of many young Polish nationals in the Netherlands is problematic and many are low-skilled or unemployed, according to a new report by the government’s socio-cultural policy advisory group SCP.

SCP researchers spoke to 600 Poles who have lived in the Netherlands since 2004, the year Poland joined the European Union.

Of these 69% have a job and 13% are officially unemployed, the survey found.

However, the position of youngsters is more problematic, the survey showed. Some 40% of the youngsters (15-24) questioned had only completed primary education and 19% are unemployed.

‘It is notable that many youngsters are in a disadvantaged position,’ the researchers said. ‘They are often poorly educated or jobless… they associate with other Poles and do not feel at home in the Netherlands.’


Older Poles have considerably higher education levels and 20% have college or university degrees.

Some 40% of the Poles questioned had taken a Dutch language course. Over 50% plan to stay in the Netherlands for at least the next five years and one in three have daily contact with the Dutch.

An estimated 150,000 Polish nationals live in the Netherlands.

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

Spain: Almost 900,000 Illiterates, 70% Are Women

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, SEPTEMBER 8 — At present in Spain there are more than 840,900 illiterate people, of which almost 70% are women, according to the survey of the working population relative to the second quarter of the year published today on occasion of the International Literacy Day. Most of the 571,600 women who do not know how to read or write, compared to the 271,300 men, are above the age of 70.

The number of illiterate people has dropped by 3% during the second quarter, compared to the same period of 2010, especially in the age range from 20 to 24, but also in the ranges from 35 to 29 and from 60 to 69.

Unesco estimates that in the whole world there are 793 million illiterate people, most of which are represented by women and little girls. According to Ignacio Goadix, the person in charge of Education for development and awareness for Unicef Spain, “it will be very difficult to meet the number two development objective of the Millennium, in other words universal primary education by 2015”. The main problems are registered in sub-Saharan Africa, and in Asia, where there is the largest concentration of children who are not in the condition of going to school.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

The Sun Rises in the East: German Solar Firms Eclipsed by Chinese Rivals

Green energy used to be Germany’s great hope for its economic future. But now the German solar industry is in trouble amid huge losses, job cuts and the threat of bankruptcies. Chinese firms are gaining an ever greater share of the German market — and are benefiting from German subsidies for renewable energy. By SPIEGEL Staff

The mayor of the eastern German town of Bitterfeld-Wolfen, Petra Wust, is all too familiar with booms and busts. The region was a center for the chemical industry in communist East Germany. Wust experienced at first hand how the industry was wound down after the fall of the Berlin Wall, putting about 50,000 people out of work.

Wust was also there when the region experienced rapid growth, earning it the nickname “Solar Valley.” In 1999, as the town’s then-treasurer, she helped persuade Q-Cells, a manufacturer of photovoltaic cells, to locate its headquarters in Bitterfeld-Wolfen.

The town bent over backwards to smooth the way for the company, says Wust, and the effort paid off. The solar panel business flourished, and the company, which began its operations with 19 employees, soon had more than 1,000 people on its payroll. When Q-Cells went public, one member of its works council even became a millionaire.

A dream seemed to have come true for many people and for the region, which had once been notorious for the pollution caused by lignite-fuelled power plants and the chemical industry. One photovoltaic manufacturer after another located in the area. The clean, future-oriented industry generated jobs and income, employing as many as 10,000 people in its heyday.

But now Q-Cells is struggling to survive. The company made a heavy loss in the second quarter of 2011. It doesn’t take a business degree to recognize the desperate situation in which the company, once the world’s largest solar cell manufacturer, now finds itself.

Solar Valley threatens to turn into a vale of tears. Mayor Wust fears that her town is heading toward another historic watershed. This time the fates of 3,000 workers are at stake.

Assorted Woes

The outlook has turned bleak for the entire solar industry. Companies that were the darlings of the stock market and the political world until recently are now experiencing a sharp downturn. Their share prices have plunged, as they downsize and write off millions in losses.

At Phoenix Solar, a systems supplier based in the Bavarian town of Sulzemoos, sales in the period from March to July were down more than 60 percent over the same period last year. The management of Berlin-based Solon is worried about the company’s ability to survive. Its future hinges on the banks extending a loan that expires at the end of the year.

In the United States, a few well-known solar companies have already run out of money. Last week Solyndra, a Silicon Valley maker of solar power arrays, filed for bankruptcy and laid off 1,100 workers.

A number of German companies are also facing legal problems. The former supervisory board chairman of Conergy, Dieter Ammer, faces charges of accounting fraud and insider trading in a Hamburg court, although he disputes the allegations. The public prosecutor’s office in the Bavarian twin cities of Nuremberg-Fürth is looking into allegations of wrongdoing by Utz Claassen, a former top executive at Solar Millennium.

Faced with their own problems, it comes as little consolation to the erstwhile sun kings that their counterparts in wind energy are dealing with their own woes. Nordex, a pioneer in the industry, plunged into the red in the first half of the year, forcing it to eliminate more than 100 jobs and reduce costs by €50 million ($70 million). In 2010, German wind turbine manufacturers as a whole saw revenues and jobs decline for the first time.

Dashed Hopes

The gloomy news from the solar and wind power industries comes as something of a surprise. After the catastrophe in Fukushima and the German government’s decision to phase out nuclear energy, it seemed obvious that makers of renewable energy systems would be among the winners of the so-called energy revolution.

“Germany is the global market leader in the renewable energy sector,” German Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen recently crowed. “If we expand this position, it will enhance the competitiveness of our industry and our country.” Meanwhile, Chancellor Angela Merkel said she anticipated “opportunities for exports, development, technology and jobs.”

Now, of all times, the green industries of the future are faltering. The goal of developing a new leading industry with global aspirations has become a distant hope. German players play only a secondary role in global markets and are steadily losing market share — despite being heavily subsidized. Or maybe the industry is ailing precisely because of the billions in government aid.

Hardly any other industrial sector has received such generous political support as the producers of green electricity, especially the solar industry. Germany’s Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), introduced 11 years ago, gave the industry a phenomenal boost. Nevertheless, the boom comes at a high price.

The EEG guarantees each provider a fixed price for the electricity it feeds into the grid (the so-called feed-in tariff) — paid for by consumers. The Rhenish-Westphalian Institute for Economic Research (RWI) calculates that, up until the end of 2010, electricity consumers paid roughly €81.5 billion for the expansion of photovoltaic technology alone. This “tsunami of costs” will only continue to grow, says the RWI…

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Husband’ Arrested on Suspicion of Murdering Wife, 20, And Toddler Son Following House Fire

A young mum and her 15-month-old son died when a fire ripped through a a house in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Melissa Crook, 20, and her 15-month-old son Noah were killed in the suspected arson attack on her parents’ home, in Chatham, Kent.

Detectives have arrested two men on suspicion of murder in Coventry, one of whom is believed to be 23-year-old Danai Muhammadi, Ms Crook’s estranged husband. A 37-year-old man was also arrested.

Ms Crook’s father Mark, 49, suffered from serious burns and is fighting for his life following the suspected arson attack.

His son Bohdan, 21, broke both his legs as he was forced to leap from a first floor window to escape the inferno. Melissa’s mum Amanda was also being treated in hospital for burns.

Melissa and her son were thought to be staying at her parents’ house after walking out of her marital home in Coventry.

The blaze was so fierce it caused the mother and baby’s bedroom to cave in at the terrace home. It is thought that Melissa and her dad were trapped in the front bedroom along with baby Noah when ceiling collapsed.

Emergency services were called to the fire at the house at 2.30am yesterday.

The Medway towns have seen a series of arson attacks in the past month, and officers are investigating the possibility of a link.

Kent police Chief Superintendent Neil Jerome said yesterday: ‘‘Our hearts go out to the family and friends of those who have been involved in this very tragic fire, and I would appeal to anybody who was in the Chatham Hill area of Chatham at half past two this morning who has seen anything suspicious, or anything that is connected with this particular tragic incident to make contact with Kent Police.’

Ch Supt Jerome stressed that at this early stage there was no concrete evidence of a connection.

Andy Merriman from Kent Fire and Rescue said firefighters had to fight their way past a serious blaze to get in to the property.

‘Crews were confronted by an extreme fire early in the morning,’ he said.

‘The incident was a very serious incident in which our crews managed to fight their way in to prevent further spread to adjoining properties. But tragically two people have died.”

The previous arson attacks, which happened in a four-day period, targeted a number of properties including a derelict house in Vicarage Road, Strood, a disused restaurant in Rochester High Street, flats in Fort Pitt Street, Chatham, and derelict Market Cafe in Corporation Street, Rochester.

No-one was injured in these incidents.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: 9/11 Muslim Protesters Burn American Flag During Minute’s Silence

Protesters outside the US embassy in London set fire to a US flag during a minute’s silence held to mark the moment when the first hijacked airliner hit the World Trade Centre in New York 10 years ago.

A number of radical Islamic groups including Muslims Against Crusades (MAC) gathered outside the embassy on the tenth anniversary of the attacks.

The group of around 100 men shouted “USA terrorists” and brandished anti-American placards.

Earlier a group of English Defence League protesters, who had gathered in response to the demonstration, were ordered to move on to accommodate the MAC supporters.

The 60-strong group of EDL supporters briefly scuffled with police as they were forced away from their original location to a different part of Grosvenor Square.

Several members of the Muslim groups made anti-American speeches following the flag burning.

One said: “You will always face suffering, you will always face humiliation, unless you withdraw your troops from Muslim lands.”

Another declared that America had been “defeated in Iraq and defeated in Afghanistan”.

           — Hat tip: ICLA[Return to headlines]

UK: 9/11 Anniversary: Muslim Protesters Burn US Flag Outside Embassy in London

A group of Muslim protesters set fire to an American flag outside the US embassy in London during a minute’s silence to mark the moment that the first hijacked airliner hit the World Trade Center 10 years ago.

A number of radical Islamic groups including Muslims Against Crusades (MAC) gathered outside the embassy on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

The group of around 100 men shouted “USA terrorists”, brandished anti-American placards and chanted through a loudhailer.

Several members of the Muslim groups made anti-American speeches following the flag burning.

One said: “You will always face suffering, you will always face humiliation, unless you withdraw your troops from Muslim lands.”

Another declared that America had been “defeated in Iraq and defeated in Afghanistan”.

Members of the group publicly burned a poppy on Armistice Day in a similar stunt.

However, a small opposing group of Muslims — some of whom had travelled hundreds of miles to rebut the extremists — staged a counter-demonstration nearby, holding up placards reading “Muslims Against Extremism” and “If You Want Sharia, Move To Saudi”.

Abdul Sallam, 41, who was waving a sign that read “Keep The Silence”, travelled down to London from his home in Glasgow to show the strength of his feelings.

He said: “I’m a Muslim. What they’re doing is bringing shame on all Muslims. This is not part of the teachings of Islam.

“Islam teaches you that when you see anything bad or evil, you should speak out against it.

“If the moderate Muslims all came out and spoke out, that would defeat them.

“I am proud to be British. I love my country. All these people are doing is breaking Britain apart.”

One of the Grosvenor Square memorial service attendees, who did not want to be named, said the protesters should be stopped from standing just across the road from the embassy and using a loud megaphone.

The man, whose cousin died in the terror attacks, said: “They shouldn’t be allowed to do it. It’s very disrespectful. It’s too loud.”

He added: “They can say what they want but not with the loudspeaker.”

Earlier a group of right-wing English Defence League protesters, who had gathered in response to the demonstration, were ordered to move on to accommodate the MAC supporters.

The 60-strong group of EDL supporters briefly scuffled with police as they were forced away from their original location to a different part of Grosvenor Square.

           — Hat tip: ICLA[Return to headlines]

UK: EDL Clash With Locals in Edgware Road

EDL members have descended onto one of London’s most famous streets and have had clashes with locals, this evening.

Around 50-100 EDL members are currently on Edgware Road, a part of London dominated by the Arab community.

Chairs and windows have been smashed and police are trying to separate the two groups. The Edgware Road area is completely gridlocked with traffic tailing back all the way to White City and the Westfield shopping centre in Shepherds Bush

A London Air Ambulance has arrived in nearby Hyde Park, which is at the top of Edgware Road at the Marble Arch crossing. Some people have said that someone has been seriously injured although this is unconfirmed.

Earlier, EDL members clashed with the group Muslims Against the Crusades outside the 9/11 memorial near the US Embassy. 4 arrests were made.

The EDL alleged on their Facebook page that a member had been stabbed (picture 2)

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Secular Parties Take to the Streets to Correct Path of the Jasmine Revolution

Thousands of young people join the protest, but not the Islamic parties. Among the demands the end of martial law and the expulsion of the former regime members from institutions. Egypt now divided between secular and democratic Islamic parties. There is a growing fear among Christians.

Cairo (AsiaNews) — Thousands of young Egyptians — less than what was announced in recent days — have demonstrated in Tahrir Square to urge the army to keep its promises after the fall of Mubarak. Guided by the slogan “Correct the path of the revolution”, the protesters demanded the institutions be purged of former regime members, justice reforms and an end to the use of military courts for the trials of protesters arrested in January.

Organized by the liberal parties, including the 6 April Movement, the National Democratic Front Party and the ADL, the protest was boycotted by the Islamic parties, which have tried to minimize the demands of the young liberals, judging them devoid of content.

Fr. Rafik Greek, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church, explains that for some time now the Muslim parties have tended to obstruct the demonstrations against the army. “The Muslim Brotherhood — he says — want to win the November election and seek the support of the military.” For the priest Egypt is now split in two. On the one hand there are the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist Islamist traditionalists who want to transform the country into an Islamic republic based on sharia. On the other, democratic parties of secularists who strive for a secular government that respects human rights and religious minorities. They are pursuing the true values of the Revolution, with the extremists riding on the popular wave.

Despite the ongoing trial of Hosni Mubarak which catalyzed much of the Egyptian and world public opinion, showing the interface of the new Egypt, according to AsiaNews sources little or nothing has changed in the almost eight months since the fall of the Rais. “The people — they explain — are afraid and do not know what will happen in the future. There is no security on the streets. It’s hard to make ends meet because of the severe economic crisis aggravated by social instability. “ The sources point out that the only actor who holds this situation in check is the army. “The military is trying to mediate between the various political factions born after the revolution and the Islamic movements, but in reality that have no impact.”

The social crisis is felt particularly in the countryside and in the districts of Upper Egypt, far from the capital, where extremists operate undisturbed. “The Salafists want to impose all Islamic ways — say the sources — such as wudu, the ritual of purification of the body that every Muslim must perform before prayer. Unfortunately in this situation the only victims are Christians and non-Islamic minorities. “

According to unconfirmed reports, in the village of Elmarinab (province of Aswan), a few days ago a group of Muslims sequestered the entire local Coptic community, to force them to demolish the dome of the church of St. George built without the permission of the authorities. (Sc)

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

Egypt: Obama: Government to Honor International Obligations

(AGI) Washington — US President Obama urged Egyptian authorities “to honor international obligations” .

Consequently, Obama called for protection of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, attacked by crowds of protesters. The US President also spoke on the phone with Benjamin Netanyahu, to inform him on the initiatives that Washington is taking to solve this crisis.

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

Egypt: Cairo: Israeli Embassy Attacked, State of Emergency Declared

Tensions remain high in the Egyptian capital after protesters assail Israeli embassy. Violence continues today, with gunfire around the building. Two dead and nearly 500 injured. Netanyahu : a disaster avoided. Catholic sources confirm tension, fears of a Islamic drift.

Cairo (AsiaNews) — Egypt has declared a state of emergency after the attack on the Israeli embassy in Cairo yesterday, at the end of Friday prayers. The battle continued well into the night and tensions have failed to subside in the capital. Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister, spoke of “serious accident” and “a disaster avoided,” thanks to the intervention of the Egyptian special forces who rescued six diplomats from the mission. An official in Jerusalem, on condition of anonymity, revealed that there is already “deep security concerns”. The ambassador Yitzhak Levanon has already returned to Israel, while the Egyptian authorities reported that the toll from the clashes is two dead and nearly 500 injured.

Yesterday afternoon, at the end of Friday prayers, the protesters headed towards the Israeli embassy in Cairo to protest against the erection of a security barrier outside the embassy. The tension had been mounting for days: the demonstrators were protesting against the killing — which took place on August 18 last — of five Egyptian border guards by Israeli soldiers. The Israeli army had made a series of raids in response to the triple attack on two buses in Eilat, the Red Sea resort town in southern Israel, and the explosion of some mines as a military convoy was passing . Seven Israeli civilians died in the attacks, while at least 30 were wounded, including some soldiers.

This morning the Israeli government completed the evacuation of the diplomatic mission in Cairo. At least 80 people — including officials and their families — have left the Egyptian capital.

At least 30 people stormed into the embassy, throwing a number of books and documents out of the windows. The urban warfare between demonstrators and police continued today near the Israeli embassy and the university, where automatic gunfire was heard.

Contacted by AsiaNews Fr Rafik Greek, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church, speaks of a “really terrible” situation of “fear and concern.” The fear, the priest says, is that the protesters could storm a police headquarters in the area and steal all the weapons. A situation he calls “complicated.” He criticizes the decision in recent days to erect a wall around the building that houses the embassy, calling it a “bad idea” because it “created the same feeling of the wall built by Israel in the West Bank.” A terrible psychological effect, he adds, for the Egyptian population.

Fr. Rafiq also reveals that groups of people engaged in the assault on the embassy had a Koran in their hand or pocket. An element which could confirm concerns about an Islamic fundamentalist drift in Egypt’s protests. “The military — said the priest — do not want a confrontation with Israel, but Jerusalem should also maintain a more relaxed attitude to avoid tensions” in the region. The danger is that the street riots in Egypt could be a prelude to an Islamic revolution as was the case in nearly 30 years ago with the takeover of the ayatollahs and the assault on the U.S. embassy. “I hope not — the priest concludes — but at the moment we do not know how this will develop”.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharif has summoned a Cabinet emergency meeting, to discuss the situation. The attack occurred two days before the visit of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the first by a senior political leader of Turkey in 15 years. The bilateral meeting had raised concerns in the Israeli government, which fears a possible alliance between the two Arab countries that could contribute to isolation of Israel in the region. Meanwhile, Benjamin Netanyahu thanked U.S. president Barack Obama for support, while setting up a crisis unit. However, so far, the historic peace treaty of 1979, the first signed by the Jewish state with an Arab country, does not appear to be in question. (DS)

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

Libya: Niger Minister, We Are Not Capable of Shutting Borders

(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 7 — Niger’s minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Bazoum, stated in an interview to the Bbc that his country is “incapable of closing the borders with Libya” and thus prevent colonel Muammar Gaddafi escaping into Niger.

Bazoum, according to a report on the Bbc website, added that “the former leader did not cross the border, nor did he ask to do so, while loyalists who are true to him, and who have already made it to Niger’s capital city, Niamey, enjoy full freedom of movement and are free to stay there”.

Asked whether Niger can close down its borders, Bazoum replied that “There is no reason to do so, it is too large and we have few resources to do so”.

Niger’s foreign minister than expressed his hope that Gaddafi does not “try to cross the border and that his country still has not taken a final decision whether to accept or not the foreign leader or deliver him to the International Criminal Court”.

A few hours earlier a delegation of Libya’s Transitional National Council had announced that it would have travelled to Niger to ask that Gaddafi be prevented from entering the country that borders it to the south.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: ANSA Reporter: Tens of Buried Tanks in Dufan

(ANSAmed) — DUFAN (LIBYAN DESERT), SEPTEMBER 7 — The Libyan rebels have reached the town of Dufan, in the Libyan desert, previously the locations of one of the bases of Gaddafi’s 32nd brigade. The rebels have found large numbers of tanks and armoured vehicles, buried in the sand and hidden in the bushes, ANSA’s correspondent has learned. Colonel Bashir has explained that the rebels are “here to take back these vehicles and keep the Gaddafi forces from using them again. The fighters from Misrata are digging them out and will take them to our bases in the city.” The remote desert area shows the signs of NATO airstrikes that targeted the base, and the main buildings of its command and control centres, three days ago, causing heavy damage. The quarters, an array of cylindrical tubes, show no signs of damage, but it is clear that the troops left the place in a hurry, leaving weapons and personal possessions.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: Tuareg on the Run, Hated by Both Winners and Losers

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, SEPTEMBER 9 — They speak, without mincing words, about genocide, they say they have been persecuted, by both sides, and that therefore, for them, a future in Libya is not an option: they are Libya’s Tuareg people, warriors of the desert, fierce fighters, who however now fear — according to reports by the local Algerian press — for their future, placed at risk not by their actions, but by the political games they now feel taken hostage by.

The coordinator of the Tuareg Movement for Libya, Ishaq Al Hussein, reported the indiscriminate hunting down and summary execution of his people because both the rebels and Gaddafi’s loyalists accuse them, in practice, of a “change of sides” that allegedly has little to do with politics, being nothing more than brazen opportunism. Accusations that Libya’s Tuareg people reject, but in the face of which (and especially in light of the real chance that they may end up in front of the firing squad, no matter whose hands they fall into) they have decided to leave the country en masse and move to certain Algerian locations (mainly Tarat, where in recent hours a column of exhausted and underfed women and children has arrived) where there are large communities of ‘men in blue’, as they are called because of their use, during their eternal wanderings in the desert, long robes of that colour.

The problem, as stated in a message by the Tuareg movement, is that by now in Libya no great distinction is being made between who was or is with Gaddafi and who instead chose, from the start, to side with the rebels.

The Tuareg people (approximately 600,000 used to reside in the southern area of Libya) feel abandoned by the international community, especially by France which nonetheless, they say with perhaps a tinge of involuntary irony, is doing so much to solve the Libyan matter and which seems to have forgotten the good relations which Paris has always maintained with them. To the international community, reporting the violence they have suffered, they ask for help not to abandon their land because they are being accused — without reason — of having sided first with one and then the other. And the mentioned examples are plenty and concern the forced abandonment of a number of villages through the fear of fighting or reprisals. They tell about armed men who broke into their homes and looted everything, before setting them on fire. They also tell about interminable forced marches in the desert, with temperatures constantly above 40 degrees. They also tell about summary executions, such as those in Sinewen, where some 30 Tuareg people were put to the wall and shot down without having done anything, simply for the reason that they belonged to a people that now (alleged) winners and losers view with suspicion, if not with outright hate.

A genocide, the Tuareg people say today, in front of which many turned their eyes elsewhere, even those they thought belonged to friends.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: Fight Against Gaddafi is ‘Far From Over’

Tripoli, 9 Sept. (AKI) — The fight against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime is “far from over,” said Mahmoud Jibril, the equivalent of prime minister for the National Transitional Council.

“This is a phase in which we must stay united,” said the head of the rebels’ political body in an interview with rebel television station Libya Libera on Friday.

Jibril has been campaigning unity among rebel factions — often divided by regional loyalties — as solidarity is showing signs of fatigue.

“There are two battles,” Jibril told journalists on Thursday. Achieving unity will be “our biggest challenge.”

Some rebel units from coastal Misrata and from the Nafusa mountains accuse the leadership of leaving them out of the new Military Council, the body charged with overseeing military operations

Though Gaddafi loyalists have retreated from all but a few Libyan towns and cities, the country’s former ruler has remained defiant, broadcasting audio messages that he is still in Libya and pledging to continue fighting.

“The tyrant is still not finished,” said Jibril, during the interview in capital Tripoli which fell to rebel fighters at the end of August.

Interpol on Friday said it issued red notices — the equivalent of being put on a most wanted list — for Gaddafi, his son Seif al-Islam, and the former military intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senoussi.

The International Criminal Court in The Hague on 27 June issued arrest warrants for the three for alleged crimes against for humanity.

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

Libya: Militants View Libya as ‘Arms Bazaar’

Washington, 9 Sept. (AKI) — The overthrow of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi has given an opportunity for Al-Qaeda and other militant groups to stockpile large amounts of weapons, including chemical and biological weapons, according to US President Barack Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser.

“We have indications that individuals of various stripes are looking to Libya and seeing it as an arms bazaar,” said John Brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, at a breakfast hosted Thursday by the Christian Science Monitor news organisation. “We are concerned about the potential for certain weapons to get into the hands of terrorists.”

Gaddafi is known to have accumulated a large stockpile of mustard gas, and recently seized documents suggest that the regime in its final hours last month shipped large numbers of gas masks and chemical-protection suits to Gaddafi’s bases of support, the CSM said.

Reports have emerged that weapons warehouses belonging to Gaddafi have been plundered in the wake of the seven-month civil which has left only a few pockets of Libya in the hands of Gaddafi loyalists.

Some arms caches are unguarded with weapons stolen from open crates and arms scattered on the ground.

Human Rights Watch estimates there are 20,000 surface-to-air missiles in Libya, and many of those are now missing.

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

Israel and the Palestinians

Arab-Israeli Beauty Defies Taboos and Poses in a Bikini

(AGI) Nazareth — Huda Naccache, a Palestinian woman with Israeli citizenship, posed in a bikini for Arab-Israeli magazine Lilac. The young woman, who has long, dark brown hair, is almost 1.80 metres tall and whose measurements are 84-60-90, was born in Haifa to a Christian family and is the first Arab-Israeli to pose in a small bikini for an Israeli magazine.

“My parents were not against me, they represent a new generation that wants their daughters to make their own experiences”, she said.

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

Middle East

Erdogan Points Finger at Israeli Bomb

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, SEPTEMBER 8 — In the midst of the diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Israel, the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has hinted that Ankara could raise the issue of Israel’s atomic arsenal in the international arena.

The possibility features in a “plan” currently being drafted to put Israel in a tricky position internationally if it continues to refuse to apologise for the deaths of the Turkish pro-Palestinian activists killed in last year’s Israeli military raid on the Mavi Marmara. The dispute has led to the complete break-off of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Erdogan made only a brief mention of the existence of the so-called “Plan C”, which would follow another, “Plan B”, based on the mooted naval patrolling of the Mediterranean’s international waters, though the measure has not yet been formally implemented. However, some sections of the press more up to date with government activity, such as the Yeni Safak newspaper, have revealed that Turkey intends to insert the issue of Israel’s atomic arsenal, which has never been declared by the country, into the agenda of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and of the UN, and to request sanctions. The paper says that the aim of the operation is to shed light on the presumed illegal production of atomic weapons by Israel, while Iran is subject to all manner of international attention only because of its nuclear aspirations. The paper notes Turkey’s intention to put its former ally in difficulty by cosying up to its neighbour and new friend, Iran, whose Foreign Ministry today expressed the country’s disappointment at Ankara’s recent agreement to host on Turkish soil an early warning radar as part of NATO’s missile shield.

The issue of Israel’s nuclear capabilities is only one element of the mysterious “Plan C”, which also includes vetos within NATO (which Israel also uses, despite not being a member, unlike Turkey), a total break-off of diplomatic relations and economic sanctions. The press reports have provided a backdrop to a barrage today from at least three ministers, including the Foreign Minister, Ahmed Davutoglu, who have again demanded apologies and compensation for the Mavi Marmara raid and the lifting of Israel’s naval blockade on the Gaza Strip. The latter demand is part of the clear “patronage” over Middle Eastern issues currently enjoyed by Ankara due to its status as an emerging regional power and a “model” cocktail of economic growth, moderate Islam and democracy.

Apart from the expected confirmation that a Europa League football match between the Turkish team Besiktas and Maccabi Tel Aviv will go ahead as planned in Istanbul next week, there have so far been few conciliatory signs from Turkey counterbalancing the words of the Israeli Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, who said that the crisis would pass, like a “wave”, as “the two countries are very important for the West,” for whom the “real problem” is Syria, Egypt and Iran.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Gulf: GCC: New Step Towards Accession of Jordan and Morocco

(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 9 — A new step has been taken towards Jordan and Morocco’s accession to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The website reports that the Foreign Ministers from the six member states of the GCC will meet next Sunday to discuss the issue. The unexpected decision to open the organisation to new member states was announced in May by GCC heads of state.

Since its creation in 1981, the Council has been made up of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Qatar: Foreigners Unhappy About Wage Increase for Natives

(ANSAmed) — DOHA, SEPTEMBER 8 — The decision announced yesterday by Qatar to increase by 60% wages and pensions for public sector employees, with the apparent intention of preventing potential protest movements against the monarchy, resulted in unhappy reactions by part of the population that does not benefit from the move and which represents more than 80% of the country’s dwellers, including foreigners and private sector employees.

Among the excluded there are first of all the more than one million foreigners who work in the Emirate — compared to a native population of less than 300,000 people — many of whom protested on the social networks. Inter alia, on the Qatar Living website a message of the following tone can be read: “Always and only for the Qataris, but when will some good news come for us as well?”. The international community in Doha is also worried by the expected major rise in prices, which could demolish its purchasing power. “We want people to save and invest, not to suffer for the increase in prices”, stated Minister of Commerce Jassim bin Abdulaziz Al Thani, guaranteeing that the authorities will monitor price increases. With an economic growth equal to approximately 20% and a gross domestic product equal to 128 billion dollars, last year Qatar was the world’s richest country in terms of pro-capita revenue.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: Taliban Suicide Bomber, 50 US Soldiers Injured

(AGI) Jalalabad — Suicide bomber attack in Afghan province of Wardack; 89 injured, 50 were US soldiers. The attack occurred on Saturday afternoon. The bomber caused the explosion in front of a wall of a military outpost. Talibans claimed responsibility for the attack .

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

India: Karnataka Boys Beaten and Arrested for Having Converted to Christianity

Hindu nationalists have denounced Bhasker and Hemanth Naik of practicing forced conversions, because the refused to return to Hinduism. Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians: “The authorities’ political survival depends on the fundamentalist forces, the situation is increasingly worrying.”

Mumbai (AsiaNews) — It is a cause “serious concern” to see how Christians are “regularly” attacked in Karnataka by Hindu nationalists, while the authorities “turn a blind eye, because their political survival depends on these forces”, denounces Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), in the face of yet another case of violence and abuse against two Christians held responsible for forced conversions.

Bhasker Naik, 20 years, and Hemanth Naik, 22, from the village Mank (North Kanara district), worked for over a year in the town of Udupi, employed in a private company. About six months ago, the boys began to follow the sermons of Pastor Sadananda, of the Church of Christ Fellowship in Hirebettu, and converted to Christianity. On 7 September the two returned to their village, but some activists of the Bajrang Dal (ultra-nationalist Hindu youth wing), learned of their conversion, started beating them and insulting them, telling them to return to Hinduism.

Faced with the refusal of Bhasker and Hemanth to deny Christ, Hindu activists reported them to Honnavar police for forced conversions. The inspector Venkatappa conducted a brief investigation, and arrested them. The two Christians are still in prison.

“From May 2008 — accuses Sajan George — when the BJP came to power in Karnataka, freedom of worship for the Christian community is under threat, even in private homes. Our places of worship are under constant control of fundamentalist forces, who systematically stop prayer services and beat pastors and faithful. While the police are increasingly available and hasty in arresting and imprisoning Christians. “

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

Pakistani Christian Killed During Pilgrimage to the Town of Mary

Sunil Masih, 25, left the group travelling to Mariamabad and never returned. The corpse showed signs of injury. Police deny possibility of his being run over by a truck. Identity of the perpetrators of the murder still unknown. The pain of the family, who lost their only son.

Mariamabad (AsiaNews) — Sunil Masih, a 25 year old Pakistani Christian, was kidnapped and killed as he walked on a pilgrimage to the shrine of the Virgin Mary in Mariamabad, the “city of Mary,” in the province of Punjab. The Pakistan Christian Post (PCP) reports that during the journey the young man left the group for a few minutes, heading for the fields for physiological needs, and his body was found shortly after, with visible signs of injuries (see photo). The boy was run over by a truck, to make it appear an accident. However, police investigating the body and the dynamics of episode, strongly denyi the possibility of it being an accident.

Sunil Masih was an only child and sole source of income for the family, because his father suffers from serious kidney problems. At the news of the death of the young man, the mother fainted from the pain. Human rights activists and Pakistani Christians denounce repeated deaths, thefts and robberies perpetrated against the religious minority. They demand greater protection from police and government authorities.

For 60 years now, September 4 marks the beginning of the traditional pilgrimage to the Grotto of Our Lady, Daman E Mariam, located in one of the oldest Christian places of Pakistan, about 115 km from Lahore. The culmination of the festival coincides with September 8, the day the Church celebrates the Nativity of Mary, Mother of Jesus.

The faithful from around the country are travelling on country roads on foot or by bicycle. Some groups are moving by train, those who have them, by car. All embellish their means of transport with streamers or banners to signal that they are travelling to the village of Mary. Catholics are moving along with Christians of other confessions, but also Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. Our Lady of Marialabad has many devotees and over the years has called to her a growing number of pilgrims.

The construction of the grotto dates back to 1927, built by a missionary, Fr Ostar. Years later, in 1949, Fr. Emmanuel Asi promoted the first pilgrimage over three days, starting then as now on September 4th, the faithful throughout the country make their journey to pay homage to the Virgin and ask for her intercession.

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

Paul Bhatti: Muslims and Minorities, Innocent Victims of Extremism Pakistan

The Special Adviser to the Prime Minister explains the Shahbaz Bhatti Memorial Trust’s work, a “platform that provides shelter, assistance and protection.” His political commitment is not “an option”, but a choice to honour the memory of his brother murdered by fundamentalists. No comment, but words of thanks to investigators following the murder case.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) — In Pakistan, no one can claim to be safe because violence affects all citizens, Muslims and religious minorities. For this reason, the Shahbaz Bhatti Memorial Trust — which has recently received official recognition — will be a “platform that provides shelter, assistance and protection” for all victims of violence. This is what Paul Bhatti, brother of the Catholic Minister for Minorities, who was murdered on March 2 last by an armed Islamic extremist for his fight against the blasphemy laws, has told AsiaNews, . And on the investigation into the murder he asks people to “wait for the final results” of the investigators, whom he thanks “for their efforts” to search for the truth.

Paul Bhatti, currently special adviser to the Prime Minister for Minorities, immediately made it clear that his political commitment to Pakistan, a nation to which he returned after many years in Italy, “was not an option” but a choice to be made looking Shahbaz’s example. “His death has been a great loss not only for myself — he tells AsiaNews — but for the whole nation.” His Christian faith and political commitment, he said, led him to accept the assignment, because “if one of my brothers or sisters is in trouble, how can I sit by and watch?”.

With regard to the newly formed Shahbaz Bhatti Memorial Trust (see AsiaNews : Shahbaz Bhatti Memorial Trust: equality and justice for Pakistan’s minorities), the Special Adviser to the Prime Minister said that it is “a non-party platform” in order to continue the struggle of Catholic minister for minorities, to promote the values of humanity and harmony between religions. He confirms that “no one can be considered safe” in Pakistan, where extremist attacks kill dozens of people, targeted assassinations continue to target politicians, activists, religious leaders. The Shahbaz Bhatti Memorial Trust contributes to the fight against violence, triggering a platform that provides assistance and protection to victims 24/7. The experts of the foundation also offer legal protection and legal advice.

Among the measures to protect minorities being considered by the legislature, there is also the Protection Bill, which provides in particular Hindus, Sikhs and Parsis with the legal recognition of marriage. On the other hand there is also humanitarian aid to Hindus and Sikhs in the event of natural disasters, from which so far, they have been excluded. Pakistan’s Federal Government has clamped down on foreign NGOs and groups seeking to bring relief to the population. Ironically, this censorship has left the field open to Islamic extremists in Pakistan — some of which are banned — who can operate freely and relegate minorities to the fringe.

Fr. Ejaz Anwar, of the Diocese of Multan, notes that “denying humanitarian aid to religious minorities is unacceptable” and that it is the government’s responsibility “to respond immediately and put an end to discrimination.”

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

US Civil Officers in Afghanistan Cost 2 Bln USD

(AGI) Washington — Barack Obama’s decision to send more US civil officers to Afghanistan led to a 2 bln USD rise in expenditure. A report of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction ascertained so. According to the report, each single officer costs betwenn 410,000 and 570,000 dollars per year. Not far from the 697,000 dollars spent annualy for every single soldier sent to the Afghan front.

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

Guinea Bissau’s PM Says Country Would Welcome Gaddafi

(AGI) Bissau — Guinea Bissau’s prime minister Carlos Gomes junior said Gaddafi would be welcomed with open arms in his country. “If Gaddafi asks to come to Guinea Bissau, we will welcome him with open arms and we will ensure his security”, Gomes was recorded as saying by local radio station Radio Diffusion Portuguese.

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

Latin America

China’s Trade With Latin America Raises Eyebrows

China’s exports from Latin America have been surging, contributing to better growth for the latter. However, its insistance on buying unprocessed raw materials may be hampering development in Latin American economies, some experts say, also emphasizing the dangers of overdependence on the Asian giant

Soy from Argentina, copper from Chile, iron ore from Brazil: China’s seemingly insatiable appetite for Latin America’s raw materials is credited with fueling blistering economic growth for both.

China’s rise in bilateral trade with Latin America is the greatest of any region in the world — an 18-fold increase over the past decade, mostly due to exports of raw materials from the region.

But experts are warning the increasingly closely tethered economic ties to China may not be entirely to Latin America’s benefit, and may even hamper its long-term aspirations of becoming a major exporter of manufactured goods.

Part of the reason for this is China’s insistence on buying almost exclusively unprocessed raw materials from the region while refusing to purchase more sophisticated “value added” exports.

“It’s essentially one commodity per country and this is quite remarkable,” said Mauricio Cardenas, director of the Latin America program for the Brookings Institution in Washington.

There are also risks, like one flagged recently by analysts from Nomura, which raised concern that the economic boom in countries like Brazil stems from overdependence on exports to China.

“We think Brazil’s much vaunted ‘new middle class’ is a direct result of Chinese commodity demand,” Nomura said in a recent analysis.

Another economist who specializes in economies of the region put it even more bluntly, pointing out that when it comes to export of value-added goods from Latin America, China must be viewed more as a fierce competitor than likely market.

“I don’t think that with China, India, and the rest of Asia in the game, the region stands any chance of becoming a major exporter of manufacturing goods,” said Mauricio Mesquita, senior economist at the Inter American Development Bank. “I think this window is closed with a very few exceptions,” he said.

Experts also raise concern that resources that Latin America has been exporting to China could start running out by mid-decade.

United States left behind

China has in recent years become Brazil’s largest trading partner, overtaking the United States, and in 2010 was the largest investor in the South American nation, pumping in some $30 billion.

For China, Brazil is an importance source of raw materials — oil, iron ore and soybeans account for 80 percent of Chinese imports and 90 percent of its investments in the largest Latin American economy.

But the export of manufactured products, which most economists say is the cornerstone of healthy economic development for emerging countries, is beginning to stagnate.

Companies in the region are themselves to blame in part for making the mistake of many other developed and industrializing economies in sending many of its manufacturing jobs in China, as Brazil did in the case of giant aircraft manufacturer Embraer.

Over the years, the manufacturing sector in Brazil has declined by 3 percent as a share of the country’s gross national product, or GNP, while other countries in the region, such as Colombia, have seen a 2 percent drop.

Experts said it is unlikely that there will be a reversal in that trendline anytime soon.

“The long-term trend for Brazilian employment is not manufacturing. The only place is services,” said Gary Hufbauer of the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

A report by Mauricio Cardenas his colleague Adriana Kluger for Brookings reached the same conclusion. “The region has to be prepared to find alternative sources of trade and growth,” Cardenas and Kluger wrote.

The United States has been watching China’s growing economic prowess in Latin America with some concern, especially after China last year supplanted the U.S. as the top trading partner with several South American nations.

U.S. exports to Latin America have dropped from 55 percent of the region’s total imports in 2000 to 32 percent of the region’s imports in 2009, according to United Nations figures.

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