Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20111016

Financial Crisis
»Blackrock Buying Italian Debt
»China’s Small and Medium Enterprises Struggling
»Indignados’ Revolt Spreads to Switzerland
»Italian Unemployment Drops to 7.8% in Q2
»Portugal: Drastic Measures to Stave Off Collapse
»Portugal: Thirteenth Month’s Salary Cut and Longer Workdays
»Toronto Sun’s Peter Worthington Throws His Support Behind Romney
Europe and the EU
»Cyprus: Russian Tourists Increased by 50% in September
»European Parliament Criticises Dutch Stance on Romania, Bulgaria
»Italy Warned Over Swordfish Net, Risks Court & Fine
»Italy: ‘Blind’ Hairdresser Nabbed Riding Bike
»Italy: Halal Food Market Grows, 5 Bln-Euro Potential in Italy
»Ligurian Town Bans Non-Italian Restaurants
»Parental Monitoring: Nursery School in Italy Introduces Classroom Webcam
»Strauss-Kahn Accused Over Prostitution Ring in Lille
»Turkey Still Wants to Join the EU, Without Enthusiasm
»UK Ship Asked to Point Guns Away From Mrs Obama’s Suite
North Africa
»Libya: Amnesty Says Pro-Gadaffi Prisoners Have Been ‘Tortured’
»Morocco: Consolidates Presence in Global Olive Production
»Tawarga: Fires Blaze and Bad Blood Lingers in Libyan Ghost Town
»Tunisia: Rising Exports in Leather Sector, Italy Top Client
»Tunisia: Shopkeepers in Tunis Medina Against Tour Operators
Israel and the Palestinians
»‘River of Poison’ Rebirth Underway, Soon to be Reserve
Middle East
»Fox-Gate: Ties to US ‘Tea Party’ And Mossad Emerge
»Kuwait: Royal Family Member Sentenced to Death for Murder
»UAE: New Approach to Irrigation Cuts Water Waste
South Asia
»Kazakh Communist Party Suspended for Supporting Strike
»No Casualties in Attack on Italian Troops in Herat
»Pakistani Islamic Extremists March in Support of Assassin Mumtaz Qadri
Far East
»Hong Kong: Appeals Court Decides Less Freedom for Hong Kong Schools
Australia — Pacific
»ALP Bites the Hands That Voted for It
»Life Story of Iraqi “Grandson” of Mother Teresa Becomes YouTube Sensation
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Kenyan Troops Enter Somalia to Pursue Al-Shabab Militants
»Perfect Outreach Tool for Relief Groups: UNHCR’s Melissa Fleming on Social Media
»UK: Ignored for Ten Years… Abandoned Wife’s Pleas to Deport Immigrant Husband Who Flouted Law
»UK: Welcome to the Slums of Southall: How Unscrupulous Landlords Have Illegally Built Squalid Homes for Immigrants
Culture Wars
»Call Off the Thought Police

Financial Crisis

Blackrock Buying Italian Debt

New York, 13 Oct. (AKI/Bloomberg) — BlackRock, the world’s biggest money manager, is buying Italian debt given the improved prospects for a resolution to the euro zone sovereign debt crisis, Chief Investment Officer Rick Rieder said.

“A month ago, policy makers weren’t really reacting to some of the stresses, weren’t talking about bank recapitalization, weren’t talking about putting a blanket of liquidity under Italy and Spain,” Rieder said, “a number of policy makers have talked about that the time is now. The ultimate outcome we think is going to be constructive and that has sent a breath of fresh air into the marketplace.”

German and French leaders at a meeting on Oct. 9 pledged to devise a plan to recapitalize banks, help Greece and strengthen Europe’s economic governance. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, after meeting French President Nicholas Sarkozy, said Europe will do “everything necessary” to ensure that banks have enough capital.

“There are going to be bumps along the way,” said Rieder, who helps oversee $3.66 trillion at New York-based BlackRock. “We are being very deliberate in terms of how we add financials and Italian debt. But it definitely feels better and there is a tone that has changed.”

Slovakia will vote on Europe’s enhanced bailout fund today or tomorrow, completing the ratification process across the 17 euro countries as the region’s leaders prepare for a summit this month. Party leaders in Bratislava yesterday secured backing for the European Financial Stability Facility in a second vote.

Enhancing the powers of the EFSF, the temporary bailout fund, is crucial for adopting the key element in the strategy to prevent contagion from the debt crisis that has spread from Greece to other countries in the region.

European Commission President Jose Barroso yesterday called for a reinforcement of crisis-hit banks, the payout of a sixth loan to Greece and a faster start for a permanent rescue fund to master Europe’s debt woes.

“We’ve been adding to some of the banks and insurance companies in Europe and actually started adding last week some of the financials in the U.S. as valuations became attractive,” Rieder said.

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

China’s Small and Medium Enterprises Struggling

They announce zero profits or losses. More than 3% will go bankrupt. The economic crisis, stagnation in exports and rise in prices affects 72% of SMEs. Hundreds of owners flee and go into hiding, leaving tens of thousands of workers without pay.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) — This year, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in China will make no profits, many marking up losses. Under the same ownership, the situation is far worse than the 2008 crisis.

A survey conducted in Guangdong by and the National School of Development at Beijing University shows that in the next six months, 72% of SMEs at the mouth of the Pearl River will have zero profits or small losses, while the 3.3 % of them will have to close down.

According to data collected, in one year the average profit of the companies has dropped by 30-40%. At the same time, the cost of materials and labour increased blocking all development. 72% of respondents in the investigation said that rising costs is their biggest problem. In the textile and clothing industries, the cost rose by 80%.

The euro crisis and stagnation of the U.S. economy has led to a fall in exports, so that many SMEs are working to only 71% capacity.

SMEs complain about the lack of credit from the State. At least 53% have never had loans other than those of non-banking organizations. The government’s credit crunch on banks — to curb inflation — has dealt a further blow to the development of companies.

Following reports that in Wenzhou (Zhejiang), at least 3% of SMEs had declared bankruptcy, the State Council has promised to help businesses with some tax breaks and possible bank loans, but so far without any solid result.

According to data of the State Council, SMEs account for 99% of companies in China and offer 80% of jobs to the urban population. They contribute to 60% of gross domestic product and 50% of tax revenues.

The fate of SMEs affects the stability and order in society. Over the past 9 months, in Zhejiang alone, 228 owners have fled, leaving 15 thousand workers without pay, amounting to about 76 million Yuan (about 7.6 million Euros).

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

Indignados’ Revolt Spreads to Switzerland

On October 15 thousands of people around the globe — including in Switzerland — will come out on the streets to protest against powerful elites.

There have already been popular protests in Spain, Greece and Israel. In the United States, the Occupy Wall Street movement has spread from New York across the country.

Saturday will see demonstrations against corporate power in more than 400 cities, including Geneva, Basel and Zurich.

Sabelli, an Italian who taught for many years at the universities of Neuchâtel and Lugano, as well as at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, will be taking part in Rome.

Fabrizio Sabelli: Looking beyond local issues, what’s really driving young people is the simple desire for greater social justice. A desire for change has been in the air for several years but it’s only in the past few months that there has really been a collective awakening and that the outrage has been vocalised.

In 2008 during the first financial crisis people thought that the global economic order might be upset. But in the end little or nothing changed and therefore injustices and social exploitation multiplied. Outrage grew as people rediscovered the need for a real economy and specific problems such as unemployment or lack of housing became more serious.

In Europe and the US, anger boiled over when young people realised that the billions of euros being used to bail out troubled banks were coming from state budgets and therefore from citizens’ own pockets. But at the same time, social aid was being cut to the bone.

Fabrizio Sabelli (

F.S.: In this case I wouldn’t call it a class war but internal contradictions of capitalism, to borrow some Marxist terminology. Capitalism is dying because of its own inconsistencies, because it can’t solve the problems that it itself has created.

These protests could actually speed up capitalism’s decline, but they don’t have enough power to call into question the entire current economic system. The system is self-destructing because it has become a huge casino, a global gaming room where people place bets instead of producing.

F.S.: The political apparatus is no longer responding to the mandate it was given by democratic vote but has instead become autonomous, looking after its own interests and those of powerful groups. Look at the US with the political lobbies in Congress, or at Italy, where control over media and advertising allowed Berlusconi to come to power with 25-26 per cent approval. This is absurd for a democratic country.

Decisions are no longer taken as a function of the political programme, they depend instead on mechanisms of power rather similar to the mafia’s. Pressure groups, rather than the people, determine decisions, thus protecting the interests of the stronger parties. It’s politics’ subjection to the economy and the lobbies of the powerful that has really disappointed young people.

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

Italian Unemployment Drops to 7.8% in Q2

(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 30 — The unemployment rate in the second quarter of the year in Italy has dropped to 7.8%, compared with the 8.3% seen in the second quarter of 2010 (equal to 146,000 fewer unemployed). The national statistics institute ISTAT reports that those unemployed has dropped to below 2 million, the lowest number quarterly figure since the second quarter of 2009. ISTAT underscored in any case that despite the drop in unemployment the long-term unemployment figure has instead increased, meaning those who have been looking for a job for over a year. In the second quarter of 2009 long-term unemployment was at 52.9% of the total number of unemployed, the highest in the past 18 years. Youth unemployment dropped in the second quarter from 27.9% to 27.4%, but for young women in the south the rate is still very high at 44%, the highest figure since the second quarter of 2004. Despite the increase in overall employment, those holding a full-time job have decreased on an annual basis (-0.2% or 32,000), while those employed on a part-time basis have increased (+3.4% or 119,000). ISTAT underscored that the latter figure refers “once again to involuntary part-time”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Portugal: Drastic Measures to Stave Off Collapse

Público, 14 October 2011

Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho has tabled the most austere budget since the return of democracy to the country in 1974. “Lower wages and higher taxes to prevent the collapse of the welfare state,” announces Público.”Almost a million people will lose holiday and Christmas benefits,” which represent a 13th and a 14th month’s salary, leads the Lisbon daily. Working hours in the private sector will go up, public holidays will be fewer, VAT will go up and there will a reduction in income tax discounts. Passos Coelho has justified these “painful” measures for the fiscal slippage of three billion euros in order to reverse Portugal’s “downward economic spiral”.

“The country has witnessed one of the most important and dramatic messages of recent years,” Público confirms in an editorial. “The prime minister has confirmed to the Portuguese that the battle they have waged has gone well beyond merely outracing a financial crisis. The issue now is the collapse of the country.”

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

Portugal: Thirteenth Month’s Salary Cut and Longer Workdays

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, OCTOBER 14 — The abolition of the thirteenth and fourteenth month’s salary for civil servants, officials and pensioners who earn more than thousand euros per months will start in 2012. The measure was announced yesterday by Portugal’s Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho, member of the conservative social democratic party PSD, quoted today by the media. The move follows a 10% cut of public wages introduced this year, and is necessary to reduce the country’s public debt and to meet the pledges made in exchange for the financial bailout agreed with IMF and ECB. At the same time, the Portuguese government will allow private firms to introduce longer workdays, half an hour per day, and will revise the calendar of national holidays to eliminate extra days off between holidays and patronal holidays.

The newspaper Public writes that the Portuguese government is also considering the possibility of raising toll on some main motorways, like the one between Lisbon and Porto. The plan that includes the new measures, which also include a VAT increase, will be presented in Parliament on Monday. The PSD party has the absolute majority in the Portuguese Parliament.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Toronto Sun’s Peter Worthington Throws His Support Behind Romney

If it wasn’t clear before, it should be now: Mitt Romney is the only sensible choice Republicans have for their presidential candidate in 2012.

The exciting choice would have been New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie who, in any debate or personal appearance, would have demolished rivals — Republican or Democrat.

Christie has a quickness with a quip that is a bit mindful of Jack Kennedy, and he has a likeability quotient that electrifies people.

But he doesn’t want to run for president, though he hints maybe he’ll change his mind for 2016. (Don’t bet on it — time has a way of revising the list of contenders).

Christie has already endorsed Romney, which underscores his judgment.

           — Hat tip: Van Grungy[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Cyprus: Russian Tourists Increased by 50% in September

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, OCTOBER 14 — Tourist arrivals from Russia to Cyprus increased by almost 50% in September, compared to the same period last year, as Famagusta Gazette reports.

According to data released by the Statistical Service of the Republic of Cyprus, overall tourist arrivals in September 2011 recorded an increase of 5,2%, compared to September 2010 figures. In particular, arrivals of tourists reached 304.260 in September 2011 compared to 289.126 in September 2010, according to the Passengers Survey. It is added that Russian tourists increased by 49,9%, from 33.267 in September 2010 to 49.863 this year, while a decrease of 1,7% was recorded in tourist arrivals from the United Kingdom, from 137.473 in September 2010 to 135.103 last September. Finally, it is noted that arrivals of tourists for the period January-September 2011 totaled 1.974.147, compared to 1.777.456 in the corresponding period of 2010, recording an increase of 11,1%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

European Parliament Criticises Dutch Stance on Romania, Bulgaria

The European parliament has called on the Netherlands and Finland to give up their objections to Romania and Bulgaria joining the EU open border area known as Schengen, according to Dutch media reports on Thursday.

The Netherlands has so far vetoed the move, saying neither country has done enough to combat corruption and organised crime.

The two countries joined the EU in 2007. Joining the Schengen zone would make the two countries responsible for policing a large part of the EU border.


Dutch members of the European parliament are divided on the issue. GroenLinks says the Netherlands’ position has been influenced by national politics — the Netherlands does not allow Romanians or Bulgarians to settle freely in the country.

According to website Public Service Europe, GroenLinks MEP Judith Sargentini called the use of the veto a ‘charade’ and accused the Dutch and Finnish governments of ‘cynically and deliberately misleading their public by playing along with incorrect claims that entry to Schengen equates to a carte blanche for all Romanian and Bulgarian citizens to work in Finland and the Netherlands’.

But both the VVD Liberals and Labour party oppose extending Schengen to cover the eastern European countries. There is ‘reasonable doubt’ as to whether they are ready to guard Europe’s external borders, Labour MP Emine Bozkurt said.

Immigration minister Gerd Leers told news agency ANP there had been no new developments which would allow the Netherlands to change its position.

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

Italy Warned Over Swordfish Net, Risks Court & Fine

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, SEPTEMBER 29 — The European Commission decided to send Italy a letter of formal notice in which it asks the country to conform to a prior EU Court ruling on the illegal use of driftnetters in the Mediterranean Sea. Italy has two months to respond. The next step is the EU court with pecuniary penalties. Brussels requested for Italy to adopt appropriate measures to conform to a ruling dating back to October 2009 by the EU Court of Justice, and, together with EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, “regrets that Italy continues to violate the ban on driftnetters”. If they do not adopt “the appropriate measures within two months of receiving the letter, the Commission will turn to the EU court with heavy financial sanctions”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: ‘Blind’ Hairdresser Nabbed Riding Bike

Woman charged with defrauding state

(ANSA) — Ravenna, October 14 — An Italian hairdresser claiming disability benefit for blindness has been charged with defrauding the state after tax police filmed her working in her salon and riding a bike, officials said Friday.

The woman, 62, was judged “completely sight-impaired” by a medical panel and had been claiming benefits “for at least three years,” they said. Authorities will now try to get their money back and are suing for damages.

“Not only was she styling hair but we also filmed her cycling, crossing the street with a keen eye on the lights and even reading the paper,” police in Vigo near Ravenna said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Halal Food Market Grows, 5 Bln-Euro Potential in Italy

(ANSAmed) — MILAN, OCTOBER 14 — Halal (conforming to Islamic rules) food is seeing double-digit growth the world over and even in Italy — due to rising interest by companies in the sector — it could soon become normal to find “Islamically correct” labelled products on supermarket shelves. “The development potential of this market,” said Hamid Roberto Distefano, the managing director of Halal Italia, an agency authorising Islamic certification of firms and products, “is around 4 or 5 billion euros.” Since the label was brought in a year ago on the initiative of (Islamic Religious Community), sponsored by the Foreign, Economic Development, Health and Agricultural Policies ministries, 30 small and large enterprises have been certified and the same number are undergoing the procedure to do so. “It is a move,” Distefano said at a meeting organised by Promos today at the Milan Chamber of Commerce,” that many are making especially in relation to exports, even though enterprises are discovering a domestic market made up of 1.5 million Muslim citizens, Today, if they want to eat strictly halal food they stock up for the most part in small shops which often become ghettos. In this sense certification can aid integration by fostering the sharing of space and a shared consumption culture.” The phenomenon does not only concern tortellini and sausages. To the contrary: “We have begun to certify also cosmetics and pharmaceutical enterprises,” said the managing director, “a sector which is growing internationally by 30%, double that of halal food.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Ligurian Town Bans Non-Italian Restaurants

(AGI) Viareggio — The municipality of Forte dei Marmi, social capital of Versilia, issued an ordinance forbidding any restaurants that do not serve Italian food. Under the ruling there can be no Chinese, McDonald’s and kebab outlets. The town has many rich Russian tourists, so no more Russian dining, English pubs or fast food.

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

Parental Monitoring: Nursery School in Italy Introduces Classroom Webcam

After several notorious cases of abuse of very young students elsewhere in Italy, a private nursery school in Ravenna allows parents to check in on their kids — and teachers — any time of the day

For some Italian parents, that morning drop-off is apparently just too much to bear. Responding to both growing security fears and the everyday pangs of parenthood, a nursery school in the eastern city of Ravenna has installed a webcam system that will allow mothers and fathers to follow their child’s every move.

Parents at the small “Pargoli” private pre-school will be given a password to allow them to check-in online to have a look at their little ones, and their teachers, who will be monitored by two cameras installed in the one-room facility. The novelty comes in the wake of several episodes of alleged abuse by teachers in Italian schools, including one notorious case at the Cip Ciop school in the Tuscan city of Pistoia, where children were hit, locked in bathrooms and forced to stand still for long periods of times.

Giuseppe Greco, a Pargoli official, said the cameras “offer security and transparency” for both parents and school employees. But he emphasized that the system is not just about safety. “When parents leave us their child for 10 hours a day, it’s nice if they have a moment on their lunch break to be able to watch what their child is doing,” he said. Indeed, the idea for the classroom webcam came originally from the parents themselves, but required necessary approvals from local authorities before being implemented at the start of this school year. Greco said there will be no camera in the school’s bathroom, because of privacy concerns.

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

Strauss-Kahn Accused Over Prostitution Ring in Lille

(AGI) Paris — Dominique Strauss-Kahn is involved in an inquest into a prostitution ring in Lille, the city of Martine Aubry.

Strauss-Kahn, just having been absolved of accusations of rape in France after those in New York, has been mentioned in the inquest in Lille, where Socialist Martine Aubry is mayor. For this the former general director of the IMF has asked to be heard by the judges to end the “malicious insinuations” which are circulating about him in recent hours in France. The name of DSK seems to have been mentioned as a client of prostitutes operating in the Hotel Carlton.

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

Turkey Still Wants to Join the EU, Without Enthusiasm

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, OCTOBER 14 — Turkey still wants to join the EU, but people in Turkey are getting tired of waiting and currently fewer than half of them support Turkey’s candidacy.

The country’s EU accession is blocked, according to Ankara, by mistakes made by the Union, because the country has nearly fully adjusted to European standards. On the other hand, Turkey is aware of the fact that the main problems Brussels has regard freedom of expression and the protection of women’s rights in Turkey. Two days after the publication of the European Commission report on the (lack of) progress made by Turkey on its path to the EU, this picture emerged from statements made by a Turkish Deputy Prime Minister and from articles on the report printed by newspapers in the country. Bulent Arinc, one of the four deputies of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and government spokesman, said yesterday on television that he is convinced that Turkey “in the end” will become a full member of the European Union. With those words the Deputy Prime Minister confirmed a concept that is also supported by European Affairs Minister and Chief Negotiator for EU Accession Egemen Bagis. He said that “it is our duty to do our homework and to apply the EU’s legal, democratic and economic criteria as good as we can.” Support from people in Turkey to the European process has dwindled on the other hand from 70% to 40%, and Arinc said that “mistakes made by the Union” are to be blamed for this, as Turkish news agency Anadolu reports. Arinc underlined, referring to Turkey’s economic and geopolitical power, that Turkey does not really need the EU and that the country could go ahead without it without any problem. “What counts is to reach their standards,” Arinc said referring to European standards, “regarding freedom of expression, rights and freedom, rule of law and civilian-military relations. Up to this point we have reached 90% of these standards.” Newspaper Vatan reports that the Ministry of Justice is working on the problems created by the limited freedom of expression and freedom of press — criticised in the EU report that was published the day before yesterday -, as well as the problem of the length of preventive detention in the country (up to ten years). The Ministry is examining the laws of several European countries, including Germany, Spain and Switzerland.

Hurriyet, one of the most popular Turkish newspapers and owned by a group that is at the centre of a hard clash with Premier Erdogan, underlines that the 2011 report — compared with earlier versions — of the European Commission on Turkey focuses more on violations of freedom of expression and violence against women. The newspaper points out that Brussels sees three problems with press freedom in Turkey: legislation, its interpretation and political relations with journalism. On Wednesday Minister Bagis rejected the accusations made by the Commission and claimed that none of the around 60 journalists locked in Turkish prisons (a figure that would be the highest in the world) have been confined for what they have written, but because they are suspected of complicity in a coup attempt against Erdogan.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK Ship Asked to Point Guns Away From Mrs Obama’s Suite

(AGI) London — The Daily Mail says the Royal Navy was ordered to turn its ship’s guns away from Mrs Obama’s hotel suite in June. The newspaper reports that an excess of zeal and paranoia on behalf of the US Secret Services (Treasury agents who protect the President’s family) led to a British Navy warship, HMS Edinburgh, being asked to turn its guns away from Mrs Obama’s suite, which happened to be the direction in which they were pointing.

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

North Africa

Libya: Amnesty Says Pro-Gadaffi Prisoners Have Been ‘Tortured’

Tripoli, 13 Oct. (AKI) — Thousands of detainees have been tortured and ill-treated over the last few months, human rights group Amnesty International said in a new report.

“The new authorities in Libya must stamp out arbitrary detention and widespread abuse of detainees,” the Amnesty report “Detention Abuses Staining the New Libya” released on Thursday said.

Libya’s National Transitional Council has been Libya’s de facto ruler since rebels overthrew Muammar Gaddafi last month.

The London-based group said it uncovered a pattern of “beatings and ill-treatment of captured Gaddafi soldiers, suspected loyalists and alleged mercenaries in western Libya. In some cases there is clear evidence of torture in order to extract confessions or as a punishment.”

“There is a real risk that without firm and immediate action, some patterns of the past might be repeated. Arbitrary arrest and torture were a hallmark of Colonel Gaddafi’s rule,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Since late August, armed militia have arrested and detained as many as 2,500 people in Tripoli and al-Zawiya, Amnesty said.

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

Morocco: Consolidates Presence in Global Olive Production

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, OCTOBER 10 — Long-term programmes are consolidating Morocco’s presence on the list of most important olive producers in the world. Morocco not only produces large quantities of olives, but its products are also generally recognised to be of high quality.

Exports of untreated and refined olive oil jumped by 73.7% in the first eight months of 2011, compared with the same period in 2010. On a global level, Le Matin points out, Morocco takes seventh place in the ranking of exporters, with 2.6% of total exports.

Most olive oil made in Morocco goes to the European markets, despite the high import duties. Morocco is the world’s second exporter of olives, after Spain, with a total of 65 thousand tonnes, 13% of global production. The good figures could even be better, according to analysts, if Moroccan producers would be able to better adjust to market performance and to find more effective answers to the strategies of their competitors, both regarding quantity and quality.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tawarga: Fires Blaze and Bad Blood Lingers in Libyan Ghost Town

Misratans have long accused population of poor dormitory town of murders, rapes and looting in alliance with pro-Gaddafi forces

A local police chief, who refused to give his name and ordered journalists out of the town, said the fires were the work of arsonists in the pay of Muammar Gaddafi who were hoping to tarnish the reputation of the new authorities.

Tawarga is a poor dormitory town 20 minutes from Misrata, whose mostly black population fled in August when rebel forces captured it.

Today it is a ghost town, its modest grey breeze block houses empty, the doors broken open, with green flags indicating support for the Gaddafi regime still fluttering from rooftops.

Misratans have long blamed the people of Tawarga for murders, rapes and looting in alliance with pro-Gaddafi forces during fighting in March and April.

It is common to hear Misratans making derogatory remarks about Tawarga’s black population, coupled with the hope that the population, who fled to southern Libya, will never return.

On Tuesday homes and shops were set ablaze around the town, some fires starting even as journalists arrived to investigate.

The fires came the day that Amnesty International issued a report accusing rebel forces of crimes against pro-Gaddafi civilians, and urged Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of the National Transitional Council, to do more to prevent these crimes.

While the report blamed the Gaddafi regime for most of the abuses catalogued, it said reprisal attacks against dark skinned Libyans and foreigners were continuing in rebel-held areas.

The police chief in Tawarga said his forces where hunting for those responsible for the blazes, which raged unchecked.

“They are starting these fires to make the rebels look bad,” he said, refusing to give a formal interview or show his credentials. “You must leave. It is dangerous for you. They might shoot you.”

He insisted rebel units were combing the town looking for the miscreants. The only rebel units in sight were relaxing outside a shopping precinct that is their base in the town centre, unconcerned by the fires raging around them.

Some may question how arsonists in the pay of the Gaddafi regime could operate in a town nearly 100 miles from the nearest frontline, deserted of all but rebel units, and surrounded by army bases and checkpoints.

Bad blood between Tawarga and Misrata has lingered from before the war, when many Tawarga residents, their families originally from southern Libya, performed service jobs in Misrata. Misratans accuse them of being badly behaved and unruly and frequently make derogatory remarks about the skin colour of Tawargans…

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

Tunisia: Rising Exports in Leather Sector, Italy Top Client

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, OCTOBER 4 — The dressed leather sector, a major industry in Tunisia, recorded significant increases in the first 8 months of the year, with a 12.4% rise in exports from 315 million euros in 2010 to 354 million euros in 2011. In the same period of the year, imports in the sector registered a 7.2% increase (from 212 million euros to 222 million euros). The figures, reported by TAP, were contained in the monthly report by the National Leather and Footwear Centre, which listed Italy as the top client in the sector. France and Germany both followed in the rankings. On a strategic level, a sharp downturn in exports to Spain of 20.3% was also noted.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Shopkeepers in Tunis Medina Against Tour Operators

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, OCTOBER 10 — In Arab cities the medina traditionally forms the commercial heart, and Tunis is no exception to this rule. The medina of Tunis lies a few dozen metres from Bourghiba avenue, the most important street in the city and therefore the stage of events and protests. It is a medina as all others: crowded, confusing, noisy, a tangle of scents and sounds as not found in any other part of the city.

There are stores that have been managed by families of shopkeepers for many generations, some selling leather objects, some clothes, others snacks or, most importantly, jewellery. It is a world of its own, with only a few simple rules: people who sell make money, and if they have to lower their prices to sell they can do so. These rules were used in the past, but today they are challenged by a world of ruthless competition, in which other elements have come into play, which can make or break traders in this area. In fact a rather odd system has been created in the medina, that has allowed travel agencies that have managed to draw back tourists to the city to do business with a few specific shops during their tour through the medina, taking their clients only to those places, making their owners rich. This system is obviously not appreciated by the other shop owners, who see large number of tourists pass by headed for a small selection of shops. The shopkeepers who do not benefit of this system have lowered their prices, and now have started an unusual protest in this region: the lockout. On October 17 these shopkeepers in the medina will close their stores, fully supported by their unions. In their view, the system represents a monopoly “adopted by some travel agencies who take their groups of tourists to just a few shops.” Shopkeepers and craftsmen in the medina now say that it is not the daily income of shops that it at stake, but the future of what should not be seen as just a commercial district of Tunis. The medina stands for history, like all others, but also for a social and economic element that is vital for a city like Tunis. But this, according to the shopkeepers, seems to be of little importance to those who should intervene.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

‘River of Poison’ Rebirth Underway, Soon to be Reserve

ANSAmed) — HAIFA (ISRAEL), OCTOBER 10 — Israel’s most polluted river, which has been held up for years as a drain for harmful and even carcinogenic substances, in the heart of the biblical land that is supposed to see the flow of “milk and honey”, is about to be turned into an ecological reserve.

The notorious Kishon, known as the “poisonous river of the Holy Land” runs for 70 kilometres through the north of the country and receives the waters of a large area of 1,100 square kilometres, before flowing in to the bay of Haifa. For decades along its course, it has gathered the highly polluted waste of a number of chemical industries. Inhabitants of the area often say that “there is more chemical waste than water in the Kishon”. In truth, the situation has partly improved in recent times thanks to the efforts of various governments. But there was still much work left to do. Soon, however, after the latest commitments undertaken in July, the Kishon is due to become an example of ecological rehabilitation.

Benyamin Netanyahu’s government has drawn up a plan for the careful drainage od the waters, which, according to recent comments by Yishayahu Bar-Or, a director at Israel’s Environment Ministry, “at their worst were more acidic than Coca Cola. S much so that not even bacteria could survive in them”. “The first step is to dredge a thick layer of sediments (hydrocarbons and heavy metals) that have gathered over the last 30-40 years,” Bar-Or explained. Estimates say that there are 440,000 cubic metres of debris, which will then need to be drained. The work, which has begun in earnest in recent days, will last three years. By the end of the process, as well as finally clean water, Israeli citizens should also be able to enjoy 60 hectares of natural park land, which is to be built on the banks of the river.

A few years ago, the Kishon’s disastrous reputation spread across continents, as a result of what the media at the time dubbed “the naval commando affair”. In 2001, it emerged that there was a much higher incidence of cancer among veterans of an elite unit of the Israeli Navy that had been trained close to the river. A study by the University of Jerusalem linked at least 20 tumours to diving exercises carried out by the soldiers in the contaminated waters, and Israel’s Ministry of Defence was forced to pay damages to the families of the victims.

Later on, Greenpeace environmentalists also pointed the finger at the “carcinogenic river”. But bad international publicity at least led to the first positive changes, beginning at the start of the 2000s, when an embryonic project for a partial clean-up of the area got underway. Until now, though, no-one had imagined that such an ecological monster could be transformed into the centre of a future “green lung”. Yet this is the aim of the ambitious project approved in July by the Israeli government, which has already allocated 220 million shekels (around 45 million euros) for the plan.

The plan’s foremost advocate is the high-flying Environment Minister, Gilad Erdan, who has committed himself to ensuring that some of the industries most guilty for decades of pollution contribute economically to the process. First among them will be those who are or were state-owned. A further 10% of costs, meanwhile, will be undertaken by local authorities of the Kishon basin.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Fox-Gate: Ties to US ‘Tea Party’ And Mossad Emerge

(AGI) London — 48 hours after Liam Fox’s resignation as Defense Minister new data has emerged in the British press. The information deals with his ties with the US conservative right Tea-Party, and contacts between his friend-advisor, Adam Werritty, at the root of his fall, with the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. The Independent on Sunday reports that Fox’s friend “was involved in meetings with Israeli secret service to topple President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad”.

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

Kuwait: Royal Family Member Sentenced to Death for Murder

(ANSAmed) — DOHA, OCTOBER 14 — A member of Kuwait’s royal family has been sentenced to death for killing his nephew. The news is reported today by several Gulf newspapers, which specify that sheikh Faisal Abdullah Al Sabah has been found guilty of shooting and killing sheikh Basel Salem Al Sabah during a discussion that took place in 2010. The conflict regarded the victim’s position as chairman of a sports club.

The verdict could be revised in appeal and before the Supreme Court. It is not the first time a member of the Kuwaiti royal family gets the death sentence. In 2007 the same happened to sheikh Talal Nasser Al Sabah, who was sentenced to death and to a fine of 35,000 USD for drug dealing.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UAE: New Approach to Irrigation Cuts Water Waste

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, OCTOBER 10 — Two and a half litres of water against the currently used 12 litres per square metre: the challenge faced by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) against total aridity, extreme temperatures and intense evaporation is taking important steps forward thanks to a pilot project for irrigation in progress on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi is a pioneer in the innovation of renewable energy sources, investing heavily in this sector, despite the fact that it is one of the main oil exporters in the world. The emirate is also redrawing the map of consumption related to its lifestyle, investing in research and alternative projects. The environmental impact made by the UAE is one of the highest in the world, also due to its lack of water, high temperatures and luxurious lifestyle. The project, an initiative of Aldar, one of the most important property firms in the country, is an underground irrigation system that uses layers of gravel and waste material, pipes and water chambers. The system makes it possible to irrigate land with minimal loss of water through dispersion or evaporation. With temperatures rising over 40 degrees for more than six months per year, evaporation is one of the most serious problems with traditional irrigation in the entire Gulf region. “This system reduces the use of water by 80% compared with surface irrigation,” said Bart Rehbein, director of the project. Rehbein added that “underground dispersion is also minimal because the water reaches the plant roots directly.” The efficiency of the system is even more obvious when applied to local plants, shrubs and flowers growing on the edges of the desert, which are widely used in cities and private villas. The new approach could also be a turning point — environmentally and economically — for the maintenance of the many golf courses in the country. Despite the fact that the country has no lakes, rivers and that it rains for an average of three days per year, less than 120 ml, the UAE maintains 18 golf courses by desalinising seawater and reusing waste water. No in-depth studies have been carried out on the amount of water needed to keep these courses in a good state, but Yas Link in Abu Dhabi uses an average of 5,000 cubic metres of water per day in winter, and 7,000 in summer.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Kazakh Communist Party Suspended for Supporting Strike

Kazakhstan’s government is bent on crushing the months-long oil workers strike with prison and fines for those who dare support strikers. Amid world indifference, the conditions for workers have gone from bad to worse with many families are running out of food. So far, one person committed suicide and more are killed by “persons unknown”.

Almaty (AsiaNews/Agencies) — The Communist Party of Kazakhstan (CPK) has had its activities suspended for six months because it co-founded a movement to monitor an ongoing strike by oil workers. Management at KazMunaiGaz continues to reject workers’ demands, making their predicament even more dramatic.

A court in Almaty ruled on 4 October that the CPK violated the law on public organisations by creating, along with the unregistered Algha (Forward) party, the People’s Front movement, which has been monitoring the ongoing mass strike in the western province of Manghystau.

CPK leader Ghaziz Aldamzharov told RFE/RL that he was fined in what he describes a “political” verdict against his party’s support for the protest.

In post-Soviet Kazakhstan, ruled by President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the CPK is one of the main opposition parties, and its suspension might be a prelude to its exclusion from next year’s elections.

The situation of thousands of striking workers is getting worse at the plants of the Qarazhanbasmunai and OzenMunaiGaz oil and gas corporations in Manghystau, which are controlled by KazMunaiGaz. They have been on strike for nearly five months for better wages and the right to set up their own trade unions.

Backed by the government and helped by world indifference, KazMunaiGaz has rejected any concessions. It has also denied “false” rumours about talks with workers or that it was willing to rehire 989 workers it had sacked for participating in the strike. Timur Kulibaev, Nazarbaev’ son-in-law, said workers “violated labour laws”.

Meanwhile, a lawyer for the Qarazhanbasmunai oil company’s labour unions, Natalya Sokolova, was quickly found guilty in August of “igniting social hatred” and given a six-year jail term. Several of the fired workers have been brought to trial on charges of organising unlawful mass gatherings.

At the same time, the families of hundreds of striking workers are running out of food.

On 3 October, Abai Abenov, a 30-year-old electrician hanged himself. His is the third death purportedly connected with the ongoing strike. Saule Qarabalaeva, 18, a daughter of Qudaibergen Qarabalaev, a leading activist for the striking oil workers, disappeared on 21 August and was found dead four days later. A second activist, Zhaqsylyq Turbaev, was killed by unknown assailants the same month.

Most of the 10,000 workers who went on strike in May are back to work. Others resist with the support of volunteers, saying that they cannot live “like slaves”.

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

No Casualties in Attack on Italian Troops in Herat

(AGI) Washington -While on a visit to Washington for a series of meetings, Defense Minister La Russa reported there had been no casualties in the attack on Italian troops 30 kilometres from Herat. The minister emphasized that italian troops were “assisted by air support when the allied forces sent two planes and a helicopter” .

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

Pakistani Islamic Extremists March in Support of Assassin Mumtaz Qadri

The former Chief Justice of Lahore assumes the defense of the assassin of Salman Taseer. The lawyers are threatening to strike if the magistrate who issued the sentence is not removed. A human chain “against the government” that does not protect “the hero of Islam”. Christian leaders’ fears: the country in danger of chaos and anarchy.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) — The Islamic fundamentalist fringe, the association of lawyers in Rawalpindi, a famous judge of the court of Lahore and thousands of Pakistanis are on the streets: a large chunk of the country is challenging the judiciary and the government, guilty of condemning to death Mumtaz Qadri, the bodyguard and self-confessed murderer of the Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, who was killed on January 2 for defending the Christian Asia Bibi and asking for changes to the blasphemy laws. Speaking to AsiaNews Catholic leaders confirm the “mass reaction” of religious parties against the ruling and observe “with great sorrow” a nation that is “in danger of falling into chaos and anarchy.”

Sahibzada Fazle Karim, president of the Sunni Ittehad Council, has announced for 21 November next, a human chain under the slogan: “Bring down the government.” According to the extremist leader, a long line of people will link Rawalpindi — home to the court that handed down the sentence against Qadri — and Karachi in southern Pakistan, demanding the resignation of the executive. “We will not let the government — said Sahibzada Fazle Karim — keep hostage the hero of Islam, who killed a blasphemous infidel.” He then launches an appeal to all Muslims, to fight together against “the government, the Ahmadis and the West” accused of “conspiracy against Islam.”

In a surprise decision, the former head of the Lahore High Court has decided to take the legal defense of Qadri in the appeal process in Islamabad. “ Qadri’s gesture is justified — says the judge — as one of a true Muslim.” The members of the Association of lawyers of Rawalpindi have also given the government an ultimatum: if within five days Judge Syed Pervez Ali Shah — author of the sentence to death — is not transferred a lawyers strike will be launched nationwide. Meanwhile, the city attorney has suspended the enforceability of the death sentence, pending appeal.

Meanwhile, among the Catholic leaders in Pakistan th e fear of a violent drift of the protest remains: for Msgr. Lawrence Saldanha, archbishop emeritus of Lahore, there was a “massive response” of Islamic religious parties, which so far, “the authorities have been able to control.” For Mgr. Rufin Anthony, Bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, the fact a respected judge decides to assume the defense of a criminal is not a “good sign” for the judicial system in Pakistan. Not only for the act of killing itself, clarifies the prelate, but for “the justification for killing anyone who does not share your opinion.”

The bishop of the capital, warns that the country may plunge into chaos and anarchy, becoming a place where “the killers are considered heroes.” And note a contradiction: If Taseer’s murder was justified, why is the Islamic Tehreek movement offering a sum of money “to wash the blood spilled with money.”

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

Far East

Hong Kong: Appeals Court Decides Less Freedom for Hong Kong Schools

Despite a long and hard battle, led by Cardinal Zen, the Territory judges reject an appeal against order requiring private and religious schools to set up monitoring bodies to have the state funds. Bishop Tong: “We have a commitment, we will respect it.”

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) — The Court of Appeals has rejected the appeal submitted by the diocese in the Territory against the amendment to the Education Ordinance 2004 — adopted in July of that year by the Territory Legislative Council — which requires schools in part supported by the government to introduce control bodies for administration and teaching.

The bishop of Hong Kong, Mgr. John Tong-hon said: “We have a social responsibility in education, and will continue to take it forward.” Cecilia Wong Yeuk-han, a spokesman for the diocese, said: “Schools are an integral part of our mission and all must obey the law. We will continue to bring forward and look after the interests of the students until we do so in accordance with our beliefs. “

The law provides several benefits to schools which implement the Ordinance: insurance to school personnel, flexibility in managing funds, an annual bonus of 350 thousand Hong Kong dollars (about 35 thousand Euros). According to the amendment, however, each school financially supported by the government must prepare an internal organizing committee (School Management Committee, SMC) with a separate legal status from the educational institutions (Sponsoring Bodies, Sb).

The government argues that this allows for greater transparency and greater democracy, but for school managers it is just a ploy to interfere in the internal management and undermine the freedom of education. Schools that refuse to enforce the decree, moreover, are penalized: Several Christian leaders have called it “discriminatory and racist”.

According to Justice Kemal Bokhary “the appeal failed because the legislation in question does not prevent religious organizations from appointing a majority of people close to them in their schools.” The 357 schools — of about 850 total — which until now have refused to implement the amendment.

Timothy Ha Wing-ho, the education adviser to the Anglican archbishop, confirmed that 80 schools will now implement it: “But we are very angry. With this law people who do not share our values will be able to join the Board of Directors. “ Cardinal Zen, bishop emeritus of the Territory, has repeatedly stated that schools governed by the diocese “can not live without freedom: if the law does not change, we are prepared to close them.”

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

Australia — Pacific

ALP Bites the Hands That Voted for It

WATCHING their federal government disintegrate over the past 18 months, most Australians have been more inclined to shake their heads than protest. Yet, as we await what must be an inevitable leadership change and contemplate the ramifications for left-of-centre politics, the reaction to the protests provides a window into Labor’s malaise.

The response to anti-carbon tax protesters reveals the Left’s hypocrisy and its fatal alienation from the people it seeks to represent.

A few dozen, largely middle-aged, protesters rudely interrupted parliament last week with their chant of “no mandate, democracy is dead”. From the floor of the chamber, Parliamentary Secretary and Member for Eden-Monaro, Mike Kelly, tweeted: “Couldn’t quite hear, thought it might have been something about dental plates and brain dead.”

One of the nation’s most senior union officials, Australian Workers Union National Secretary Paul Howes, also took to Twitter. “And yes Tony this is [what happens] when you start whipping up extremists and giving them a platform. A people’s revolt often attracts revolting people.”

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Life Story of Iraqi “Grandson” of Mother Teresa Becomes YouTube Sensation

Emmanuel Kelly, Saved by the Missionaries of Charity during the conflict, and adopted together with his brother by an Australian Catholic, carries on his body the marks of chemical warfare. His audition for a popular Australian reality show moves audiences: five million hits on Youtube.

Melbourne (AsiaNews / Agencies) — The video of a young Iraqi, Emmanuel Kelly, auditioning for a popular Australian reality TV show has become a Youtube sensation with upwards of five million visits. Emmanuel’s story which he tells before beginning his audition is truly moving, how his life was changed by the sisters of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and an Australian Catholic foster mother.

Emmanuel does not know when he was born, but he does know that he owes his life to the nuns who found him, along with his brother Ahmed as infants. “We were left in a war zone, in a shoe box,” he recalls. The brothers retain traces of the chemical warfare in Iraq, suffering a variety of malformations of their arms and legs.

Moira Kelly, a well-known Australian Catholic dedicated to humanitarian work, and who has worked for years with Mother Teresa of Calcutta, saw the two children in the Missionaries of Charity orphanage in Baghdad, adopted them and raised them in Australia, where they recieved care and rehabilitation. Kelly decided to devote her life to charity when, as a child, she saw a documentary on the work of Mother Teresa. Today she runs the charity Children First Foundation.

Emmanuel loves to sing. His audition for the reality show was the most applauded. His brother Ahmed, aims to reach the Paralympics in London in 2012. Emmanuel was unable to reach the final because of the jury decision, which resulted in vehement protests by viewers, but he had the satisfaction of becoming a smash hit on YouTube.

If you want to see and hear his audition, here’s the link:

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

Kenyan Troops Enter Somalia to Pursue Al-Shabab Militants

(AGI) Nairobi — Kenyan troops have crossed the border into Somalia to pursue militants of Al Qaeda-linked group al-Shabab.

The Kenyan troops moved into Somalia in agreement with Somali government forces to pursue al-Shabab militants who kidnapped two Spanish and two French women in the past few days. “Kenya violated the territorial rights of Somalia by entering our holy land, but I assure you that they will return disappointed, God willing. Mujahideen fighters will force them to test the pain of the bullets” a senior al-Shabab figure said.

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

Perfect Outreach Tool for Relief Groups: UNHCR’s Melissa Fleming on Social Media

The women sit in line, waiting under the blistering sun to receive much-needed famine aid. Their faces show pain and determination.

This scene from a Mogadishu camp was captured in a photo and tweeted by Melissa Fleming through her personal Twitter account on Sept. 1. Fleming is the head of communications and spokeswoman for the United Nations high commissioner for refugees.

Fleming accompanied her boss, António Guterres, during a recent visit to Somalia, part of a major effort by UNHCR and its partners to scale up humanitarian assistance in the volatile and drought-hit country. She reported about his tour of Dollow, a town bordering Ethiopia, on Aug. 30, and of a settlement for internally displaced persons found on the grounds of the capital’s decaying cathedral two days later.

Fleming “is personally pushing a social media strategy” at UNHCR, she told Devex. And by the looks of it, her personal campaign is paying off: The U.N. refugee agency has more than 100,000 Facebook likes and more than 1.2 million Twitter followers, quite a rarity among its contemporaries.

Aside from Twitter and Facebook, UNHCR is using YouTube to host professionally produced videos, and Flickr to publish photos.

“A number of our country offices have their own distinct regional or local profiles and communicate in major languages such as Arabic, Spanish and French,” she said in an email.

In this exclusive interview, Fleming discusses UNHCR’s social media strategy and why it is important to invest in social media.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]


UK: Ignored for Ten Years… Abandoned Wife’s Pleas to Deport Immigrant Husband Who Flouted Law

The 32-year-old, who has asked to remain anonymous after threats from her husband’s family, spoke out after learning to her horror that he has been told by the Home Office that he can stay in the UK.

She has spent a decade enduring his taunts about how he has taken the immigration system for a ride.

She even took police to the house where the man was hiding — only for him to escape via the back door when bungling officers left it uncovered.

Worse, she says her life is ‘ruined’ because she can never recover from the shame of Sharia law divorce — even though they are still married under British law.

Her protest has been taken up by Deputy Commons Speaker Nigel Evans, who is collecting a dossier of similar cases for Home Secretary Theresa May.

He said: ‘It is scandalous that this lady spent ten years telling the police and the Home Office of her husband’s illegal behaviour — yet they did nothing.

‘It makes our immigration system look like a joke.’

The incident came to light after Ministers said two thirds of people who come to the UK on marriage visas have never set foot in the country before.

The Government is proposing several new curbs, including encouraging people to report suspected illegal immigrants, outlawing forced marriages and making families of would-be immigrants pay a cash bond.

The woman, who contacted The Mail on Sunday, is a respected member of her community in Blackburn, Lancashire.

The daughter of Pakistani immigrants, she was born in the UK, is ‘proud to consider myself English’ and has a full-time professional career.

She said she had been happy to enter an arranged marriage because she considered it ‘part of her culture’.

Aged 21, she went to Pakistan to meet her husband, who was her cousin, and they got married.

She returned to Britain, where she bought and renovated a house while she waited for her husband to join her.

She said: ‘It wasn’t a love marriage, though I believed love would come after we married.

‘But eight weeks after he arrived, he moved out and moved in with an uncle who lived round the corner.

‘I was very shocked. We phoned his mother back in Pakistan and she said “just give him a visa and throw him out”.

We couldn’t believe it. They had been planning it all along. I had kept his passport, and he sent people round to get it. I refused.

I knew he would destroy it to remove any evidence of when he had entered the country.

‘Then he started harassing me. He even sent his grandmother to berate me. He pushed his way into my mum and dad’s house and abused them.

I had to call the police to stop him. The Home Office and the UK Borders Agency said they couldn’t do anything until his one-year marriage visa expired.

‘All the time he taunted me over the way he had got into the country.

On one occasion I tracked him down myself. I called the police and they knocked on the front door of the house where he was staying.

He got out via the back and has never been seen again.

‘Recently I was informed he has been given leave to remain here for three years.

He qualifies for benefits even though he has never paid a penny in tax because he works for cash illegally.

Incredibly, he is now using legal aid to divorce me. He wants to marry someone else to increase his chances of staying here for good.

‘I have been humiliated. I obtained a Sharia divorce on the grounds of desertion, but we are still man and wife under English law. My life is ruined. As a Muslim once you are divorced, no one will marry you.

‘I have been telling the authorities for years that he should be sent back, but they have done nothing.

The people who suffer most are genuine immigrants who come here legally because it makes people hostile to them.’

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Damian Green said: ‘For too long the immigration system was allowed to get out of control, decisions were not taken quickly enough and that meant those who should not have been allowed to stay were able to do so.

‘The Government is toughening the system to prevent abuse.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Welcome to the Slums of Southall: How Unscrupulous Landlords Have Illegally Built Squalid Homes for Immigrants

It looks like something which could be seen in the hit film Slumdog Millionaire.

But these shocking images — which show garden sheds and garages transformed into dodgy homes for immigrants — are not from the slums of Mumbai. Incredibly, they are from a west London suburb.

According to The Sun, the sheds in Southall have been built by rogue landlords who are cashing in on newcomers to the country.

They are completely hidden from view from the street and are a clear breach of strict planning laws.

Illegal immigrants have made some of the tiny shacks their homes, some of which are highly dangerous.

Rats and cockroaches roam around the units, while others have poor wiring and sanitation.

Others are adorned with flat-screen TVs, power showers and central heating…

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Call Off the Thought Police

WITH its intolerance and standover tactics, the more militant arm of the gay lobby is shooting itself in the foot.

Saying anything that is not wholly supportive of the gay-rights agenda is the new taboo—with same-sex marriage and adoption the hottest of hot-button topics at the frontline of the culture wars.

And when Labor holds its national conference in December, its ugliest internal battle is likely to be over gay marriage. If eventually Labor decides to allow its MPs a conscience vote on the issue, expect the traditionalists to be singled out for a relentless campaign of vicious treatment.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]