Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120409

Financial Crisis
»Italy: Child Labour Re-Emerges in Naples
»Facebook Buys Instagram for $1 Billion
»Manufactured Anarchy Will Not Cow Nations
»Obama Uses Taxpayer Cash to Back ACORN Name Changes Used to Dodge the Law
»Yes, Barack Obama is a Marxist
Europe and the EU
»Britain Remains a Slave to Euro Judges
»British Man ‘Fathered 600 Children’ At Own Fertility Clinic
»France: Marine Le Pen Favourite Among the Very Young
»Hungary: Anti-Semitic Blood Libel in Parliament
»I Was Forced to Marry at Five — While Living in UK: Horrific Story of the British Child Bride
»Ireland: Corruption at Heart of Celtic Tiger
»Italy: Bossi Used Northern League Election Grants for Travel and Home Improvements
»Palestinian Activist Ordered Not to Come to Britain Wins Appeal Against Government’s Attempt to Deport Him
»Separatists Marching Under the EU Banner
»UK: Abu Hamza Could be Deported Despite Human Rights Ruling
»UK: Nothing is Sacred to Metal Thieves
»UK: World’s Biggest Wind Farm ‘To Blight the South Coast’ If 200 Near 700ft Turbines Are Erected Just Off Stunning Shore
»Obama Shuns Kosovo Leader Thaci
North Africa
»Egypt Military Warns Against Interference in Its Businesses
»Egypt-Israel Pipeline Sabotaged Again
»Former Egyptian Intelligence Chief: “Not Supported by Army”
»Mario Monti: Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty to be Left Alone
»One Hundred Broken Mirrors
Israel and the Palestinians
»‘Universal’ Cancer Vaccine Developed
Middle East
»Da Vinci Was a Muslim, Iranian Author Claims
»Iran Rejects Rollback on Nuclear ‘Rights’ But Sees Room to Bargain at Talks
»Jerusalem Prelate Warns on Plight of Christians
»Malta-Based Iranian Company and Ship Help Syria Defy Sanctions
»Western Powers to Demand Closure of Iran’s Best-Protected Uranium Facility
South Asia
»Frank Gaffney: Political Compromise of Our Security
»Indonesia: Prosecutors of Atheist ‘Have Proved Nothing’
Far East
»Why We Should All be Very Concerned About Fukushima
Australia — Pacific
»Ban the Burqa Protest Offends Sydneysiders
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Cancer Victim Robert Mugabe is ‘Fighting for His Life’ In Singapore Hospital
»Explosion in Somali City of Baidoa Kills at Least 12
»Most Greeks Support Crackdown on Illegals, Poll

Financial Crisis

Italy: Child Labour Re-Emerges in Naples

Mario Spada/prospekt — Le Monde

In one of Europe’s poorest cities, thousands of children are leaving school to help their families make ends meet. Part of a trend that has been accentuated by the crisis, they find work in the black economy or they are recruited for sinister purposes by the mafia. (Extracts.)

Cécile Allegra

7 a.m. in San Lorenzo in the heart of Naples: the kid is struggling to carry a heavy crate of canned goods through a humid labyrinth of city streets. Dressed in his faded overalls, hoodie and and busted trainers, little Gennaro has already begun his day at work.

No one is surprised to see him slaving away at such an early hour. In September 2011, Gennaro found work in a grocery shop. On the job six days a week and 10 hours a day, he stocks shelves, unloads orders and delivers shopping to customers in the neighbourhood.

Gennaro dreamed of becoming a computer programmer, now he is a shop assistant — the most common profession for Neopolitan child workers. He is paid in cash, earning less than a euro an hour. In a good week he can expect to take home 50 euros. Gennaro has just turned fourteen.

Gennaro’s mother, Paola Rescigno, never thought there would come a day when she would deprive her son of school. For 20 years, she and her husband lived in a 35-square-metre flat that gave onto an interior courtyard in the San Lorenzo neighbourhood, the most densely populated area in the city centre.

Then the father died, carried off by a sudden and virulent cancer, and Paola Rescigno was forced to live from hand to mouth. She organised a micro-company offering cleaning services, which nets her and some of the other unemployed women in her neighbourhood 45 euro cents an hour, or 35 euros a week — significantly less than the wage brought home by her son.

At age 10, the children work ten hours a day

She is the one who wakes Gennaro at dawn every morning so that he will arrive on time at the grocery. His younger sister is only six, and difficult choices had to be made: “I don’t have the means to buy books for both of them. It was either one or the other.” On the kitchen table, there is an “8-day loaf”: 3 kilogrammes of bland long-lasting rye bread, a throwback to the post-WWII Italian famine, which costs only five euros.

In Naples, thousands of children like Gennaro have been forced to work. In 2011, a local government report sounded the alarm on the surrounding Campania region, where more than 54,000 children left the education system between 2005 and 2009 — 38% of them were less than 13 years old.

Shop assistants, waiters, occasional delivery boys, apprentice hairdressers, shop floor hands in the back country tanneries and big brand leather workshops, gofers for market stall holders: they are plainly visible, clearly working, and hardly anyone seems to mind. “Of course, we were the poorest region in Italy. But we haven’t seen a situation like this since the end of the Second World War,” says Naples deputy mayor Sergio d’Angelo. “At age 10, these kids are already working 12 hours a day, which is a clear breach of their right to development.” The parents, who have put themselves in an illegal position, have to contend with the possibility that social services may place their children in foster homes.

The Italian economic crisis has played a major role in all of this. Since 2008, a succession of financial reforms have introduced drastic cuts. In June 2010, the Campania region put an end to its minimum welfare scheme, plunging more than 130,000 families into poverty.

At the time, the average income in the region was 633 euros per inhabitant: today, half of the region’s residents believe they are worse off. “The younger generation has been obliged to suffer the entire weight of the worst economic crisis in the post-war period,” says Sergio d’Angelo.

“A state that abandons its children”

In Naples, the vast majority of children from poor families are faced with a choice between struggling to stay in school or dropping out to work in the black economy. Then there is a third option, which is to join the ranks of the Camorra, the Neopolitan mafia. Specialist educator Giovanni Savino, age 33, has devoted his life to preventing young people from opting for this most brutal choice. His home turf is one of Naples worst neighbourhoods: Barra, a decayed highrise area of the city which is now an openair drugs supermarket under the control of the Camorra clans.

Every week, Giovanni Savino visits Rodino secondary school, located at the centre of one of the suburb’s housing projects, where drug trafficking is a major business and one in every two children is out of school for more than 100 days per year.

By law, absences of more than 60 days should automatically lead to expulsion. For Savino, each case is a race against the clock. Every week, the school’s head teacher, Annunziata Martire, gives him a list of absentees, for whom he must find a solution within ten days before their files are referred to social services.

More often than not, he encourages his charges to sit state exams as external candidates to ensure that they are not taken away from their families and placed in foster homes.

Local government officials are afraid to enter the area’s tower blocks, and there are very few educators like Giovanni Savino who are able to enter Barra.

At the head of an association called Il Tappeto di Iqbal, “Iqbal’s carpet”, named after a Pakistani child-slave who led a revolt and was subsequently murdered, Giovanni Savino has angry words for the mafia, a failing education system, and a state “which abandons its children.” In Italy, there is no automatic access to benefits. Support for the young people and their families is distributed by 150 associations, which are wholly dependent on local government financing.

Since the onset of the crisis, funding for such initiatives has been cut by 87 %: and the 20,000 educators in the Campania region, who have not been paid for two years, have to rely on their own resources to do their work. If no alternative funding is found, Il Tappeto di Iqbal will soon be forced to close down…

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


Facebook Buys Instagram for $1 Billion

Facebook has acquired Instagram, the popular photo-sharing application, for about $1 billion in cash and stock, the company said Monday. In a Facebook post, the company’s chief, Mark Zuckerberg, said he planned to build Instagram independently from the social network, allowing users to post on other social networks, follow users not on Facebook and opt out of sharing on Facebook.

[Return to headlines]

Manufactured Anarchy Will Not Cow Nations

And so it begins.

The day after Easter, April 9, 2012 was chosen as the one to unleash chaos and confusion on the unsuspecting masses.

It’s the day after Easter and the New Black Panthers (NBP) and Occupy Wall Street (OWS) are kicking off the Revolution.

“Shock Video: “Suited, booted and armed. Unbelievable audio from the NBP on Bloody, Anti-capitalist, ‘Race War’ against White Devils. We’re talking about some blood, is the cover story on The Blaze this morning.

Beginning the ‘training’ of some 100,000 activists with mostly George Soros money, the same day message from OWS is “This Spring We Rise!”

It’s more plan than coincidence that both parties are heading toward anarchy on the same day.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Obama Uses Taxpayer Cash to Back ACORN Name Changes Used to Dodge the Law

The Obama administration has showered its allies at ACORN Housing with $729,849 so far this year despite powerful, newly unveiled evidence of corruption and massive accounting irregularities at the longtime affiliate of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now).

Watchdog group Cause of Action recently pressured NeighborWorks America, a taxpayer-funded federal nonprofit that funneled more than $26.5 million in federal foreclosure-avoidance money to ACORN Housing, to disclose an internal audit furnished to then-Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, Connecticut Democrat, late last year.


ACORN itself is a nonprofit version of Enron, the infamous failed energy company that imploded under the pressure of hopelessly confusing, misleading and illegal accounting practices. The ACORN network has developed a tangled, deliberately complex mess of interlocking directorates and affiliated tax-exempt groups that routinely swap seven-figure checks and that has long cried out for a probe under federal racketeering laws.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Yes, Barack Obama is a Marxist

It’s been four years and the mainstream media still refuses to address the fact that Barack Obama is a Marxist. In fact using that word gets you branded as a crazy (guilty but not on this issue) and someone who uses divisive “tone.

Some who brand Obama Marxist use as their evidence his policies such as the takeover of the domestic auto business, Obamacare, “redistribution of income” etc. Others examine his associations, from Frank Marshall Davis and Bill Ayers to people he hired such as Van Jones and Rev. Jim Wallis. While valid, the examples above are purely circumstantial.

I use a simpler and more direct method of proving my case. When the President was running for the Illinois State Senate, not only did he run with the endorsement of a local socialist organization, but also he signed a contract with one of them, The New Party. The party was a Marxist Political coalition. This was not guilt by association thing. Senator Obama sought out their nomination. He was successful in obtaining that endorsement which required that he sign a contract with the group.

Most New Party members hailed from the Democratic Socialists of America and the “Community Organizing” group ACORN. The party’s Chicago chapter also included a large contingent from the Committees of Correspondence, a Marxist coalition of former Maoists, Trotskyists, and Communist Party USA members.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Britain Remains a Slave to Euro Judges

Yesterday, Theresa May promised to instruct the British courts to stop letting foreign criminals claim they have a human right to a ‘family life’ in the UK.

The Mail welcomes any attempt —however belated — to crack down on the egregious abuse of Labour’s insidious Human Rights Act.

But, sadly, the Home Secretary’s plan does not tackle the core of the problem: Britain’s slavish adherence to the edicts of the unelected European Court of Human Rights.

Whatever new rules she passes here, foreign rapists and killers will still be able to march to Strasbourg — at taxpayers’ expense — to claim they have been wronged.

And, inevitably, Europe’s cardboard judges will continue to grant them victories which appal the public — just as they did when ruling hate preacher Abu Qatada must remain in the UK.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

British Man ‘Fathered 600 Children’ At Own Fertility Clinic

A British man may have fathered 600 children by repeatedly using his own sperm in a fertility clinic he ran, it has emerged.

Bertold Wiesner and his wife Mary Barton founded a fertility clinic in London in the 1940s and helped women conceive 1,500 babies.

It was thought that the clinic used a small number of highly intelligent friends as sperm donors but it has now emerged that around 600 of the babies were conceived using sperm from Mr Wiesner himself.

Two men conceived at the clinic, Barry Stevens a film-maker from Canada and David Gollancz, a barrister in London, have researched the centre and DNA tests suggest Mr Wiesner, an Austrian biologist, provided two thirds of the donated sperm.

Such a practice is outlawed now but at the time it was not known that Mr Wiesner was providing the majority of the samples.

The same sperm donor should not be used to create so many children because of the risk that two of the offpsring will unwittingly meet and start a family of their own, which could cause serious genetic problems in their children.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France: Marine Le Pen Favourite Among the Very Young

(AGI) Paris — Marine Le Pen and Francois Hollande top the polls among new voters in France for the presidential elections. The latest CSA poll published in Le Monde gives the leader of the Fronte National 26 percent among voters in the 18 to 24 year category. The daughter of former paratrooper Jean Marie Le Pen just beats Hollande on 25%. The same poll puts Nicolas Sarkozy on 17% and the ultra leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon on 16% amongst the very young.

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

Hungary: Anti-Semitic Blood Libel in Parliament

A centrist analyst wonders what reasons a radical right-wing representative may have had when he addressed the House to request the commemoration of a young girl who disappeared from her village in 1882, and who, according to the old anti-Semitic narrative, was murdered by local Jews.

Why did Zsolt Baráth, a Jobbik MP bring up the 19th century blood libel case in Parliament? How does this anti-Semitic topic fit into Jobbik’s political message? Why did he consider it prudent?, political analyst Ferenc Kumin asks in his blog.

On Wednesday, the Jobbik MP asked Parliament to commemorate Eszter Solymosi, a peasant girl, who died in 1882. The trial of the alleged Jewish murderers became a typical blood libel case. Although the court cleared them of all the accusations, the case is brought up from time to time by anti-Semitic groups in Hungary. In his speech Baráth claimed that the the court acted under the pressure of “circles who still have the economy of Hungary and the whole world in their hands.” His anti-Semitic speech was condemned by all parliamentary parties except his own, and several deputies also demanded Baráth’s resignation. Even Krisztina Morvai, one of the three Jobbik MEPs said she would not have used such rhetoric.

Kumin admits he was surprised by Baráth’s speech, since Jobbik has been trying to portray itself as a sensible political force. He admits however that in this case he cannot find any political rationality behind the scandalous event. It is not known whether speeches by Jobbik MPs have to be approved by the leadership of their parliamentary group in advance. They should be. But since MEP Krisztina Morvai distanced herself from “that language” on the following day, the issue may not have been discussed beforehand. On the other hand, the text of the speech has still not been removed from the Jobbik party homepage.

Kumin concludes that the incident can be considered as a test of how far a Jobbik MP can go in his or her public speeches. And if Ms Morvai had to dissociate herself from the speaker, then Baráth obviously went too far.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

I Was Forced to Marry at Five — While Living in UK: Horrific Story of the British Child Bride

A successful businesswoman has told of her agony after being forced into an abusive marriage at the age of five — despite living in Britain.

Samina Shah, who is now in her 40s and too frightened to reveal her real name, spoke out after revelations that Britain’s Forced Marriage Unit had handled the case of another five-year-old girl last year.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Ireland: Corruption at Heart of Celtic Tiger

The Irish Times, 23 March 2012

“Corruption and abuse of power ‘endemic’ in politics,” headlines the Irish Times, one day after the publication of the report of the Mahon Tribunal, the longest running public inquiry in the history of the state.

Launched in 1997 to investigate corrupt payments to politicians mainly over planning permissions and land re-zoning issues, the tribunal accused former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern of untruthfulness. It found former European commissioner Pádraig Flynn behaved corruptly, and said another former taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, had abused his power.

The tribunal states that Ahern did not tell the truth over payments worth more than IR£275,000 [€349,177] which passed through bank accounts connected to him. Ahern has always claimed that the cash was not taken for planning favours granted to property developers but “personal loans” from friends to help during a difficult period in his life when he was going through a separation.

The 3,200 page report also found former EU commissioner Padraig Flynn guilty of taking bribes during his time as Irish environment minister from 1987-1993. Flynn had accepted a IR£50,000 [€63,486] “donation” from a property developer who wished to purchase a farm in the west of Ireland. It also condemned the involvement of senior government figures such as ex-Taoiseach Albert Reynolds “in seeking financial contributions from businessmen who were in turn lobbying government to support various commercial projects.”…

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

Italy: Bossi Used Northern League Election Grants for Travel and Home Improvements

Resignation of party treasurer Belsito, now under investigation for embezzlement, fraud and money laundering

Bossi Used Northern League Election Grants for Travel and Home Improvements

MILAN — The treasurer of the Northern League, Francesco Belsito, now under investigation for fraud, embezzlement and money laundering, has resigned from his position in the party. The news came from sources close to the party at the end of a dreadful day for the Northern League…

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

Palestinian Activist Ordered Not to Come to Britain Wins Appeal Against Government’s Attempt to Deport Him

A Palestinian activist, who was allowed to enter Britain despite being banned on the grounds he might incite racial hatred, has won an appeal to stay.

Sheikh Raed Salah, 53, leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, arrived at Heathrow Airport on June 25. An investigation revealed Border officials had missed six chances to stop him entering the country.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Separatists Marching Under the EU Banner

Uwazam Rze Warsaw

Scotland, like Catalonia or the self-proclaimed Padania in Italy, is now talking openly of its independence. For these regions the European ideal is a political argument, even if a place in the European Union would not necessarily be a good thing for them.

Marek Magierowski

Gerard Piqué owes his celebrity status to several things. Firstly, he’s an excellent footballer, a pillar of FC Barcelona and the Spanish national team. Secondly, he’s engaged to the Colombian star Shakira. Thirdly, Piqué is also a fierce Catalan nationalist, if not a chauvinistic, a foul-mouth and more.

During the famous “Clasico” match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid last spring, Piqué turned to his rivals while the players from both teams were leaving their dressing rooms and preparing to run out onto the field. “Hey, Spaniards,” he called, “with our eight-point lead we’ve already tied up the championship! All we have to do now is take the King’s Cup. Your King’s cup.”

Sporting events provide perfect setting

Piqué was just saying aloud what many players and supporters of Barça are thinking. Everyone wanted Barcelona to win its victories in the name of the Catalans, wanted the Catalan team to be able to play for the World Cup and wanted Piqué, Puyol, Busquets, Xavi and Fabregas to bring the trophy home not for Spain or for King Juan Carlos but for Catalonia. For now that’s not possible, since FIFA has refused to let the team enter international competitions.

The sport has always been an important element of national identity for Catalan nationalists. Especially under the Franco dictatorship, when Real Madrid was the favourite club of the regime, the goals scored against the “royalists” had the sweet taste of revenge for the years of humiliation and cultural discrimination.

It’s the same with the Scots, who are calling more and more openly for a sovereign state [an independence referendum is planned for 2014] and who take football very seriously. They give their all to support their team, and cheer equally hard for everyone else who plays against England.

Sporting events provide the perfect setting for separatist demonstrations. The chanting, the waving flags, the highlighting of “national unity” are the fixed decor of stadiums in Catalonia, the Basque Country, Scotland and in Corsica. But this is only the backdrop to an acute political struggle over power and money. The street was, until recently, the favourite battleground for that war: in various corners of Europe separatists left bombs in department stores, killed policemen and staged hunger strikes. Often enough, fearing chaos and disintegration of the state, politicians — whether Spanish, British or French — responded with blind brutality…

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

UK: Abu Hamza Could be Deported Despite Human Rights Ruling

Ministers are determined to kick Abu Hamza out of the country even if his extradition to the US is blocked by European judges on human rights grounds tomorrow.

The Home Office is looking into whether or not the terrorist “recruiting sergeant” could be deported to his native Egypt, despite him winning a battle to keep his British passport.

Senior politicians are also urging the Government to go ahead and send the radical Muslim preacher to America to face trial regardless of the European Court of Human Rights verdict.

If he and five other alleged extremists win their claim that facing life imprisonment in a “supermax” jail would breach their human rights, they could be freed from prison almost immediately. Hamza has already served six years for sermons urging the murder of non-Muslims.

Such a decision would also seriously damage relations with the American authorities, which have been trying to put him on trial for allegedly trying to set up a training camp in Oregon as well as supporting jihadis in Yemen and Afghanistan.

Within weeks Abu Qatada, described as “Osama Bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe”, could also be released from effective house arrest if the Strasbourg court decides he cannot be deported to Jordan, where he faces a trial that may rely on evidence obtained under torture.

It would mean two men considered by the Government to be dangerous Islamist recruiters being back on the streets of London in time for the Olympics, considered to be a prime target for terrorists as well as occupying police in the country’s biggest peacetime operation.

Douglas Murray, of the Henry Jackson Society think-tank, said: “Abu Hamza was probably the most successful person that has been in this country for recruiting extremists. He’s not the sort of person you’d want on the streets.”

Hamza, now 53, was an Egyptian engineer who acquired British citizenship after marrying an English woman, and lost an eye and both hands while clearing mines in Afghanistan.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

UK: Nothing is Sacred to Metal Thieves

Theft is up in Britain as commodity prices soar. Crooks are willing to haul away rails, war memorials, even church roofs.

Naomi Wormell is a vicar, not a vigilante. But these days, she finds it hard to choose Christian charity over some swift — and terrible — retribution. The centuries-old church she leads in this quiet English village has fallen victim to a plague sweeping across Britain. Like hungry locusts, metal thieves have repeatedly attacked St. Mary’s Church, swooping down on its roof in the dead of night and stripping away large sections of its Victorian-era lead cladding.

The soaring thefts track a surge in worldwide metal prices. Demand for metals such as copper and lead has boomed as rapidly developing countries including China and India race to build skyscrapers, factories, homes and gadgets for a rising middle class.

Thieves in Britain are ripping up railway and telephone cables, prying off manhole covers and carting away aluminum access ramps for the disabled. Children shiver in schools where heating pipes have been stolen. In a development Prime Minister David Cameron denounced as “absolutely sickening,” memorials to fallen soldiers are being pilfered at the rate of one to two a week.

Last year, grave robbers dug up six tombs in a Welsh cemetery, apparently in search of lead coffin linings. In the English coastal town of Blackpool, despairing officials were forced to pull public artworks from display after thieves lifted three of four lead-based figures from a park and part of a statue from the seaside promenade.

The nationwide epidemic prompted Scotland Yard to announce in December that it was forming a unit devoted to tackling metal theft. But apparently someone forgot to notify the poachers, who, that same day, helped themselves to a large outdoor bronze sculpture by noted artist Barbara Hepworth, valued at $800,000, in South London.

The British are not alone in their growing losses to enterprising metal thieves. Other European countries are struggling with the same problem, including Germany, whose rail system has also taken a big hit. But the extent of the thievery and the wide variety of targets in Britain have been especially notable.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: World’s Biggest Wind Farm ‘To Blight the South Coast’ If 200 Near 700ft Turbines Are Erected Just Off Stunning Shore

The world’s biggest wind farm is being planned for the South Coast of England.

The 200 turbines would earn Dutch company Eneco billions of pounds in Government subsidies. Critics say they will ruin coastal views, while yachtsmen warn they could cause crashes.

The Royal Yacht Squadron, the prestigious sailing club whose patron is the Queen, has written to 200 sailing clubs on the Isle of Wight and along the South Coast to call for action against the development, named Navitus Bay.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Obama Shuns Kosovo Leader Thaci

Washington, 6 April (AKI) — Kosovo prime minister Hashim Thaci ended a three-day visit to Washington on Friday, winning support for Kosovo’s independence and membership in the European Union, but was shunned by president Barrack Obama.

Thaci met with Secretary of state Hilary Clinton on Wednesday and vice-president Joseph Biden on Thursday. He had announced a meeting with president Obama on Friday, but the meeting wasn’t realized and there was no explanation.

At a joint press conference with Thaci, Clinton hailed a recent EU decision to work on a feasibility study for Kosovo’s membership. “It is a step forward towards Kosovo’s membership in the European Union, which confirms that Kosovo and EU statesmen are determined to strengthen relations,” Clinton said.

Belgrade opposes Kosovo independence, but Clinton pledged continued support to Pristina and called on Kosovo and Serbian leaders to remain “dedicated to dialogue” and to implement recently reached agreements.

Under the auspices of the EU, Belgrade and Pristina recently agreed on joint border control, representation of Kosovo in regional meetings, recognition of university diplomas and exchange of birth and land registers.

Kosovo media reported the meeting with Biden was held behind closed doors and there were no statements. But Thaci’s office said in a statement Biden congratulated him on the “courage for making very important decisions in the interest of Kosovo”.

“Biden gave guarantees that the US will remain maximally engaged in Kosovo and will demand implementation of all agreements reached,” the statement said.

Kosovo independence, declared by majority Albanians in 2008, has been recognized by more than eighty countries, including the United States and 22 out of 27 EU members.

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

North Africa

Egypt Military Warns Against Interference in Its Businesses

Egypt’s ruling military has warned against any interference in its murky economic empire amid a burgeoning power struggle with Islamists who control parliament, state media reported on Wednesday.

The warning comes as the military prepares to hand power to a civilian leader when presidential elections end in June, and as the dominant Islamist Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) pressures the generals to sack the government.

Major General Mahmud Nasr, a member of the ruling council, warned that the military “will not allow any interference from anyone in the armed forces’ economic projects,” the official MENA news agency reported.

[Return to headlines]

Egypt-Israel Pipeline Sabotaged Again

(AGI) Cairo — An explosion damaged the Egyptian gas pipeline that supplies Israel and Jordan. This is the 14th sabotage since the beginning of the revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak .

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

Former Egyptian Intelligence Chief: “Not Supported by Army”

(AGI) Cairo — Omar Suleiman, ex 007 Chief and Egyptian presidential candidate, assured not having the support of the Army. Hosni Mubarak’s former secret service chief accused Islamists of having threatened to kill him. 74-year old Omar Suleiman announced his candidacy on Friday and, to confirm his continued influence, he succeeded collecting 72,000 signatures in a single day, more than twice as many as the required 30,000.

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

Mario Monti: Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty to be Left Alone

(AGI) Cairo- According to Mario Monti the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt should be “left alone and respected”. During his first visit to Cairo the Italian Prime Minister asked his Egyptian counterpart Kamal Ganzouri for assurances that the agreement signed by President Sadat in 1979 remains “a pillar for a peaceful and stable Middle east”. Mr Monti expressed “a strong belief” in that regard and told the Egyptian Prime Minister that this was “borne out in the close talks” in Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Italy’s Prime Minister said Mr Ganzouri “reassured” him regarding parliamentary initiatives which did not appear to be “in line with the Treaty”. . .

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

One Hundred Broken Mirrors

Thirty-nine years after the last major war between Israel and Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood will unveil a constitution based on the Al-Azhar document, a lovely piece of work which emphasizes the importance of democracy and freedom—and the subservience of both to Islamic law. Western observers still working up their enthusiasm for the Arab Spring are noting the former and not the latter.

Virtually everyone has ignored one the final clauses of the Al-Azhar document and its commitment to the “Palestinian” cause. For the Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestinian cause is Hamas, which is to say themselves. A commitment to Hamas is a commitment to an arm of the Brotherhood. A war against Israel is inevitable, but not until the Brotherhood sucks as much aid out of the Great Satan as it can, under the pretense of serving as a moderating influence on Hamas.


Americans have already gotten a taste of what that system looks like. A corrupt elite overseeing a broken economy being goosed for the benefit of the few. A lapdog media that is forever searching out enemies, bleating denunciations, exposing new threats and conspiracies, to distract everyone from the disaster up top. The Obama era is only a small taste of how people in Russia or Egypt live. In the wake of the Cold War, rather than them becoming more like us, we are becoming more like them.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

‘Universal’ Cancer Vaccine Developed

A vaccine that can train cancer patients’ own bodies to seek out and destroy tumour cells has been developed by scientists.

The therapy, which targets a molecule found in 90 per cent of all cancers, could provide a universal injection that allows patients’ immune systems to fight off common cancers including breast and prostate cancer.

Preliminary results from early clinical trials have shown the vaccine can trigger an immune response in patients and reduce levels of disease.

The scientists behind the vaccine now hope to conduct larger trials in patients to prove it can be effective against a range of different cancers.

They believe it could be used to combat small tumours if they are detected early enough or to help prevent the return and spread of disease in patients who have undergone other forms of treatment such as surgery.

Cancer cells usually evade patient’s immune systems because they are not recognised as being a threat. While the immune system usually attacks foreign cells such as bacteria, tumours are formed of the patient’s own cells that have malfunctioned.

Scientists have, however, found that a molecule called MUC1, which is found in high amounts on the surface of cancer cells, can be used to help the immune system detect tumours.

The new vaccine, developed by drug company Vaxil Biotheraputics along with researchers at Tel Aviv University, uses a small section of the molecule to prime the immune system so that it can identify and destroy cancer cells.

A statement from Vaxil Biotheraputics said: “ImMucin generated a robust and specific immune response in all patients which was observed after only 2-4 doses of the vaccine out of a maximum of 12 doses.

“In some of the patients, preliminary signs of clinical efficacy were observed.”

The results are still to be formally published but if further trials prove to be successful the vaccine could be available within six years.

As a therapeutic vaccine it is designed to be given to patients who are already suffering from cancer to help their bodies fight off the disease rather than to prevent disease in the first place.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Da Vinci Was a Muslim, Iranian Author Claims

Author of ‘Leonardo Da Vinci’s Drawings’ says in this book he has proved that Da Vinci had been converted to Islam: “The book presents a comprehensive biography of Da Vinci and here for the first time I have proved that the artist had been converted to Islam based on authentic documents.”

IBNA: Morteza Khalaj Amirhosseini’s book “Leonardo Da Vinci’s Drawings” contains best drawings as well as a detailed biography of this eminent artist. Based on valid sources, the book proves that Da Vinci had been converted into Persian.

Amirhosseini added: “I have prepared the book in order to address the needs of art students as there was no comprehensive book of Da Vinci’s works available in Iran. We should know an artist by his works, but unfortunately Da Vinci is just an icon in Iran with mythological fame.”

Amirhosseini went on to say that the book presents a complete biography of Da Vinci in which he has proved based on first-hand sources that the Renaissance artist had become a Muslim. However, the west prefers to keep silent on the subject, he added.

He added: “A French writer in the 19th century has evaluated the issue of Da Vinci’s conversion to Islam in a treatise, but the west has banned the publication of this treatise.”

‘Leonardo Da Vinci’s Drawings’ is compiled by Morteza Khalaj Amirhosseini and published by Ketab-e Aban in 172 pages.

‘The Wings of Simorgh’, ‘On Oil Painting’, ‘On Watercolor Painting’, ‘Mysteries of Miniature’, ‘The Life of Rafael’, ‘The Life of Rembrandt’, ‘The Life of Rubens’, and ‘The Magic of Drawing’.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Iran Rejects Rollback on Nuclear ‘Rights’ But Sees Room to Bargain at Talks

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — When talks between Iran and world powers collapsed last year, Tehran quickly blamed the West for trying to trample its “nuclear rights.” The Iranian line appears little changed — signalling that critical negotiations could begin this week where the impasse left off.

But Iranian officials also display a hint of confidence going into Friday’s talks. They believe Tehran may have beaten back the toughest Western demands for a complete halt to uranium enrichment — the key issue of the standoff — and some bargaining room could open for new proposals.

“They have not gained anything through confrontation with Iran,” said Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of the Iranian parliament’s influential committee on national security and foreign policy.

His message Saturday reflected the challenges of finding a new tone for dialogue with much on the line, including Israel’s threats of possible military action, allegations of covert attacks that have killed Iranian scientists and targeted Israeli officials, and Western sanctions that have taken aim at Iran’s key oil exports and helped drive inflation past 21 per cent.

Iranian envoys in Istanbul will face a cross-section of its foes and allies: the five permanent Security Council members plus Germany. The manoeuvring has already begun, with various policy probes, trial balloons and a flap over the venue that was only resolved Sunday with Iran agreeing to return to Turkey for negotiations.

Yet neither side seems willing — in public declarations, at least — to budge too far from the positions that undercut the last round of talks 14 months ago.

Iran insists it will never surrender the ability to enrich uranium, which allows Tehran to make its own nuclear fuel and is a cornerstone of what the Islamist Republic’s leaders call patriotic efforts toward technological self-sufficiency.

“The nuclear industry is like a locomotive that can push ahead other industries such as the space industry that takes up tens of other industries with itself,” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday, according to the official IRNA news agency. “This is the same clear path we must continue.”

The U.S. and Western allies may demand that Iran agree to close and dismantle a new enrichment lab built into a mountainside bunker south of Tehran and transfer stockpiles of its most high-grade uranium out of Iran, The New York Times first reported, citing U.S. and European diplomats.

No issue looms larger than uranium enrichment, which Iran is permitted to do under a U.N. treaty overseeing nuclear advances. The U.S. and others fear the labs could be used to make weapons-grade material. Iran says it nuclear program is only for energy and medical research.

“Without some new ideas or proposals on the table, it’s hard to imagine the talks finding some kind of breakthrough,” said Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar.

But there have been some tiny cracks in the wall of distrust between Washington and Tehran that could at least offer some toeholds in the talks.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave a rare nod of approval last month toward President Barack Obama’s assertion that there is still room for diplomacy. Washington now says they want to hear further details about Khamenei’s pledge that Iran would never seek nuclear arms.

“Diplomacy has not reached a deadlock,” said Iranian lawmaker Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, a conservative member of parliament’s foreign policy and national security committee.

However, he echoed the common stance among Iranian officials that Western demands to halt uranium enrichment are a dead end…

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

Jerusalem Prelate Warns on Plight of Christians

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fuad Twal, warned yesterday in his Easter homily of the plight of Christians in the region, saying that the world was now “less concerned” about the minority.

“I wish all of you a beautiful and holy feast of the Resurrection, in the knowledge that the events unfolding in the Middle East threaten our region, our people and our Christians, that add a sombreness to this Easter joy,” he said.

Patriarch Twal, the most senior Roman Catholic in the Middle East, evoked the “fear” of Christians in the region in the traditional address, delivered at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Many, he said, “live in fear: fear due to the unrest in our region; fear of an uncertain, even dark future.”

“Politicians and the international community are a little less concerned about our freedom and our fate. Personal interests overwhelm the goodwill of those trying to seek and advance peace and justice,” he added.

Christian communities in the Middle East have come under increasing threat in recent years, and the Arab Spring, which has ushered in more Islamist leadership, has raised new uncertainties for the embattled minority. Patriarch Twal, 71, nonetheless saluted “an enthusiastic youth” which he said had “shaken from his feet the dust of a dark, miserable and totalitarian history.”

“This is a new generation in search of a new life of justice, freedom and dignity; seeking resurrection and reform for its people. The only means of bringing about these changes are strength of will and confidence in a better future,” he said.

“We help them through our prayers, our encouragement, our advice to be guided by reason while being faithful to their motherland.”

Catholic and Protestant Christians celebrated Easter yesterday, marking the most important date in their religious calendar.

Orthodox Christians, who are more populous in the region, celebrate Easter next Sunday, a day after the spectacular “Holy Fire” ceremony in the Holy Sepulchre church.

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

Malta-Based Iranian Company and Ship Help Syria Defy Sanctions

At least one company within the significant web of shell companies set up in Malta by the Iranian government to hide its illicit shipping activities and circumvent international sanctions, as well as a Malta-flagged ship it owns, is helping the Syrian regime defy Western sanctions by shipping Syrian oil worth US$80 million to a state-run company in China.

In a special report, the Reuters news agency quotes a source in the shipping industry, who said he had been approached by Syrian state oil company Sytrol, as stating that Syria planned to sell oil directly to the Chinese but had trouble finding a vessel. The Iranians, however, had stepped in to lend a helping hand through one of its Malta-based companies, which sent one of its ships to collect and deliver the cargo.

The Chinese buyer was named as the Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp, a Chinese state-run company sanctioned by the US government back in January. A spokesperson for the company, however, denied knowledge of the shipment.

The US State Department said in January that Zhuhai Zhenrong was the largest supplier of refined petroleum products to Iran, on which the West has imposed sanctions over suspicions that it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

Iran is one of Syria’s closest allies and has pledged to support the Assad regime and even went so far recently as to have praised Syria’s handling of the year-long uprising in which at least 9,000 people have been killed so far. China has also protected the Syrian regime from the imposition of sanctions, having controversially vetoed two resolutions at the United Nations against the bloodshed. China is not bound by Western sanctions against Syria, its oil sector or its state oil firm Sytrol.

But the European Union had sanctioned Sytrol in September of last year and the fact that a Maltese-registered company and ship is carrying out the shipment is very dubious indeed.

The Maltese-flagged tanker, MT Tour, is owned by shipping firm ISIM Tour Limited, which is also registered in Malta and has been identified by the US Department of Treasury as a front company set up by Iran to evade sanctions.

The ship is reported to have reached the Syrian port of Tartus last weekend where it took on 120,000 tonnes of light crude oil, according to the industry source and ship tracking data. Like the Chinese, Reuters reports that Syrian and Iranian authorities did not comment on the shipment.

The vessel was last spotted near Port Said in Egypt, where it was due arrive on Wednesday and, while its final destination was not available, the industry source speaking to Reuters said the vessel was likely to head to China or Singapore.

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

Western Powers to Demand Closure of Iran’s Best-Protected Uranium Facility

Major Western powers are to set two demands, including the closure of Iran’s best-protected uranium facility, when negotiations over the country’s nuclear programme resume this week.

The United States and its European allies will also tell Iran that it must stop refining uranium to a concentration of 20 per cent — a level considered a short step away from weapons grade — and move existing stocks of fuel already enriched to such levels abroad.

The demands signal a Western acceptance of the most important conditions that Israel says must be fulfilled if it is to be persuaded to drop its threat of unilateral military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

President Barack Obama has warned Iran that the talks, which begin on Friday, represent its “last chance” for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis.

Iranian media said the talks, which collapsed more than a year ago, would be held in Istanbul, apparently dropping a push by Tehran to stage the talks in a new venue.

In a significant softening of its position, the Iranian government dropped its opposition to the negotiations being held in Istanbul. Officials in Tehran had previously called for the talks to be held in Iraq or even conflict-ravaged Syria in a tactic seen as a time-wasting ruse.

According to Western diplomats quoted by the New York Times, Iran will be told it must seal and ultimately dismantle its Fordow uranium enrichment plant, buried deep inside a mountain near the holy city of Qom, as a sign of its sincerity.

Iran has begun enriching uranium to 20 per cent at Fordow and is moving much of its nuclear fuel to the plant in a step that has caused deep concern in Israel, whose US-provided “bunker-busting” bombs would probably not be able to destroy the facility.

Iran has already enriched 240 lb of uranium to 20 per cent according to UN inspectors, a little less than the material needed to supply one nuclear bomb if it is refined further. Iran says it plans to triple its stocks of the higher-grade fuel, saying it needs them to supply a research reactor in Tehran that produces medical isotopes.

The Israeli government has demanded a halt to all Iranian enrichment, including to lower levels of 3.5 per cent, but has agreed to allow its Western allies to adopt a “staggered approach” by concentrating first on Tehran’s higher-grade fuel.

“We told our American friends, as well as the Europeans, that we would have expected the threshold for successful negotiations to be clear, namely that [they] will demand clearly that no more enrichment to 20 per cent,” Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister, told CNN.

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Frank Gaffney: Political Compromise of Our Security

A troubling pattern of putting U.S. and allied security interests second to the Obama administration’s political priorities is now well-established. If allowed to continue, it will not only make the world more dangerous. It is going to get people killed — probably in large numbers and some of them may be Americans.

A prime example of the phenomenon was the disclosure of minute details of the 2011 raid by SEAL Team 6 within hours of its successful liquidation of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. The revelation of special operations tradecraft horrified those in and out of the U.S. military who appreciate that safeguarding the secrecy of such techniques is essential toensuring their future utility, and the safety of those who employ them…

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]

Indonesia: Prosecutors of Atheist ‘Have Proved Nothing’

Jakarta, 6 April (AKI/Jakarta Post) — Indonesian prosecutors have fouled up the indictment of Alexander Aan, the civil servant in Padang, West Sumatra accused of professing his atheism on Facebook, his lawyers say.

Alexander should have been charged under a joint regulation of the Religious Affairs Ministry, the Attorney General’s Office and the Home Ministry, Ronny Saputra, an attorney from the Padang office of the Legal Aid Foundation (LBH), said.

Ronny said sections of the indictment alleging that Alexander had called on others to “embrace atheism” were unclear.

“The prosecutors have yet to describe when or where my client had done such acts,” he said.

Alexander only posted images and text from the “Minang Atheist” Facebook group on his own account, Ronny said, including such as comics titled “The Prophet Muhammad has been attracted to his own daughter-in-law” and “The Prophet Muhammad had been sleeping with his wife’s maid”.

“The article was first circulated in a forum called “Faith Freedom Indonesia 2008” and has been accessible until now. Meanwhile, the same comic was aired by Metro TV on January 20th in 2010,” Ronny said.

Alexander was merely one of the 2,602 members of the “Minang Atheist”, which he said was founded by 70-year-old Jusfiq Hadjar, a resident of Leiden, the Netherlands, according to the attorney.

“The defendant has never met or directly spoken with Jusfiq,” Ronny said, adding that Alexander had made a public apology for his mistake.

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

Far East

Why We Should All be Very Concerned About Fukushima

Very little attention is being paid to TEPCO’s Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. The devastating earthquake that hit Japan in March of 2011 is long out of people’s minds. Tragically, what the Japanese government should have done right after the earthquake was what the Russian government did after Chernobyl in 1986: [url]

There’s no saving Fukushima; containment is a complete failure. When, not if, the next big earthquake hits Japan and Reactor 4 collapses, it will be a catastrophe beyond words. Japan is the earthquake capital of the world.

If you think I’m blowing smoke, this from someone who has been following Fukushima daily since the earthquake:

Fukushima is built on landfill. The whole thing is a geological joke. There is nothing that is going to be done. TEPCO closes the place and no one even works there on the weekends! Reactor 2 is completely untouchable…NO ONE can go near it. However, THE WORST is the spent fuel pool at Reactor 4 , which could literally end life as we know it when — WHEN — it falls to the ground. Listen, there is is 460 TONS of enriched nuclear fuel in that pool …enriched to nearly weapons grade. It takes only 10 pounds to make a thermonuclear bomb. Do the math and prepare to be sick…because that is how many nuclear weapons worth of plutonium, et al, will fission and spew it death into the air for YEARS. Sorry, but it’s all true.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Ban the Burqa Protest Offends Sydneysiders

A group of protesters wearing burqas gathered in various places in Sydney today to argue for Australia to ban the face veil. They say the wearing of the Islamic headwear donned by women, should be outlawed because they pose a security risk. Security and police were called when the burqa-clad non-Muslims incited anger outside state Parliament House.

Members of the public were extremely offended by the male protesters wearing the burqa. Zubeda Raihman from the Muslim Women’s National Network says, “I think it is pretty offensive because we live in this democratic country and we are given the freedom of choice.” The group ventured to the Downing Centre Local Court, a city pub, a bank, and the NSW Parliament House.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Cancer Victim Robert Mugabe is ‘Fighting for His Life’ In Singapore Hospital

Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe is said to be fighting for his life in a Singapore hospital.

According to the Zimbabwe Mail a senior official of the 88-year-old’s ZANU-PF party, said the President was undergoing intensive treatment in Singapore and that some members of his family had joined him after boarding a chartered private jet on Saturday.

The alarm was raised yesterday when the government postponed a cabinet meeting set for today.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Explosion in Somali City of Baidoa Kills at Least 12

(AGI) Mogadishu- At least 12 people were killed as a bomb went off in the Somali city of Baidoa. Al-Shebaab Islamists have claimed responsibility for the explosion, whose target consisted of Somali and Ethiopian troops which took over the city from al-Qaeda associated Islamic fundamentalists in February.

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


Most Greeks Support Crackdown on Illegals, Poll

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, APRIL 9 — Nearly 62% of Greek citizens support the government’s recent crackdown on illegal immigration, says an opinion poll carried out in the country, as the local newspaper Kathimerini reports. 83.4% of respondents say illegal immigration is a huge problem, while 48.3% believe the main priority of an immigration policy should be gradual expulsion of all immigrants from the country. The Greek government plans to set up 30 centers for illegal immigrants. Those who do not get asylum will be deported.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]