Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120526

Financial Crisis
»Italy: Recession Claims Two More Suicide Victims
»Italy: PM Monti on Eurobond ‘No Black-Eye to the Germans’
»Monti Says Italy Can Mediate Between Merkel and Hollande
»Serbia: Dinar Caught in Greek Maelstrom
»“The Reason is Religion, Mom”
»Absurd Whitewashing: U.S. Army Overlooks ‘Know Your Enemy’ Rule
»Differences Between Mormonism and Christianity
»Go to Jail for Dissing the President?
»Hundreds of Words to Avoid Using Online if You Don’t Want the Government Spying on You
»Kansas Gov. Signs Measure Blocking Islamic Law
»Marked for Death: An Anti-Islam Rally Cry for Politicians
»Obama Hires His Personal Murder Czar and Dems Continue to Threaten SCOTUS
»Shameless Bias by Omission
»The DNA of the CIA
»The Election Over Capitalism
»The Last Days of the Media
»UN Agenda 21 and the Military
»United States Socialist Republic (USSR)
»Why LOST (The Law of the Sea Treaty) Is Dangerous to US Sovereignty
Europe and the EU
»EP Crackdown on Illegal Tuna Fishing
»Eurovision Song Contest is the Real Union of Europe
»Italian Cheese Production Hit Hard by Earthquake
»Italy: Teen Gypsy Shot Dead, Body Dumped at Hospital
»Italy: Berlusconi and Romani Investigated in Monza for Corruption
»Italy: Prada to Add 260 Shops in Three Years on Demand From Emerging Economies
»Italy: Cabinet Ratifies Italy-U.S. Agreement on Terrorism
»Italy Lags Behind on Jobs, Education in Better Life Index
»Italy Bans Cosmetic Breast Surgery for Under-18s
»Monti: Fight Against Tax Evasion Not Made With Protests
»Muslims Want More Burial Space in Germany
»Muslim Rapes of Children Covered up by U.K. Politicians
»Preachers Insult the Netherlands
»Schoolboy ‘Genius’ Solves Puzzles Posed by Sir Isaac Newton That Have Baffled Mathematicians for 350 Years
»Swedish Security Police Raid Mosque in Goteborg
»Syriza Leads by 28.5% in Greek Surveys; NEA Dimokratia 26%
»UK: Don’t be Fooled by Resurgent Labour. They Would Soon Send US the Way of Greece
»UK: Kayaker Tells of Desperate Effort to Save Boy, 15, Who Drowned After Leaping Into River Thames to Cool Off
»UK: Legal Secretary Attacked by Girls Who ‘Rained Fists’ And Wiped Pizza in Her Face Slams Court for Letting Thugs Go Free
»UK: Under-18s Commit a Quarter of All Crimes: Young Offenders Responsible for More Than a Million Crimes in Just One Year
»Vatican: Bank Chief Ousted After Money-Laundering Scandal
»Vatileaks and the Vatican’s Irritation
North Africa
»Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Against Shafiq to Save Revolution
»Former Intelligence Chief ‘Holds Key’ To Yvonne Fletcher Shooting in 1984, Says Libyan PM
»Tunisia: Leila Ben Ali Tells Her Side of the Story
»Tunisia: From North to South: Unrestrained Salafists Wreck Havoc in Tunisia
Middle East
»Brave Saudi Woman Confronts Religious Police Trying to Chastise Her for Having Painted Nails — Then Posts Video Online
»Dubai: Debate on Miniskirts and Low Necklines
»Four Fingers of a Thief in Iran to be Cut-Off
»Suicide Car Bomb Kills 12 Rebels in North Yemen
»Syria: Ban Ki-Moon: Many Towns in Rebels’ Hands
»Yemen: 62 Members of Al Qaeda & 3 Soldiers Die in Clashes
»Islamist Lawyer Faces Criminal Case Over Hate Speech
»Russia to Deploy Its Yars Missile Systems in Siberia
South Asia
»Afghan Parliament Approves U.S.-Afghan Security Pact
»Afghanistan: It’s Hard to Believe We Can Build a Credible State After So Many Years of Failure
»NATO and France: For Afghanistan, Worry About the People and Schools
Australia — Pacific
»Every Banquet a Bonus: Lunch With Mohammad Hussein Al-Ansari
»54 Somalis Land at Lampedusa, Women & Children
»Chinese European Crisis and a Visit to Wenzhou’s Little Italy
»Italy: Police Smash ‘People-Smuggling Gang’ And Arrest Three Africans
»Italy: Moroccans in Quake Area Return Home
Culture Wars
»Serbia: Gay Pride Back in Belgrade on October 6
»UK: Head Attacks Being Sent a Bible

Financial Crisis

Italy: Recession Claims Two More Suicide Victims

Rome, 25 May (AKI) — Two more people have committed suicide in Italy, both of whom had financial problems. They are the latest of dozens of Italians to kill themselves since the fourth recession in 11 years.

A 38-year-old woman apparently stabbed herself to death the beach at the seaside resort of Ostia, near Rome. The woman had gone missing from her native city of Parma in northern Italy last week and had economic problems.

On Thursday, a 53-year-old businessman in the northeastern city of Vicenza hanged himself in a broom cupboard in his apartment. In his suicide note he said he had too many economic problems. Just hours before, he had announced the closure of his debt-laden haulage firm.

Most of the spate of suicides have involved business people, the unemployed or people who have lost their jobs and most are men.

Approximately one Italian a day is killing themselves, according to Eures, an economic and social think-tank.

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

Italy: PM Monti on Eurobond ‘No Black-Eye to the Germans’

(AGI) Rome — PM Mario Monti spoke in an interview with TG1 today. He observed that the Eurobond “is not yet a thing for tomorrow, there remain German reserves and no-one wants to effect measures which are a punch in the eye to another important country, we need cohesion”. “But the fact that a large number of both euro and non-euro countrieds, such as Great Britain, have expressed their approval of the Eurobond,” Monti added, “will indeed make this matter be carefully considered instead of removed because of Germany’s disapproval.” Regarding the time involved Monti responded that “‘soon’ is a word that is ill suited to the complex and weighty European situation. Europe, however, knows how to react to the crisis putting new things on the field. The success of the summit the day before yesterday in Brussels,” he concluded, “is that these questions have assumed a greater importance than in the past.” .

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

Monti Says Italy Can Mediate Between Merkel and Hollande

(AGI) Rome — “In Europe, an agreement has been reached over the fact that growth and rigour should go hand in hand. And it’s not a matter of axes. We have a very solid relation with Angela Merkel’s Germany and a new French president, Francois Hollande, has just come on stage. I think that Italy may help mediate between the French and German positions in order to achieve what we all need”, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said, interviewed by Tg1 news reporters.

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

Serbia: Dinar Caught in Greek Maelstrom

Le Monde

The debt crisis in the eurozone also affects countries that have not adopted the euro. Le Monde explains that Serbia has been struck by sudden drop in the value of its currency, which —

… fell to 116 dinars against the euro, forcing the the country’s central bank to intervene and spend €80 million of its reserves.

The domestic context in Serbia following a presidential election on 20 May has contributed to this steep decline in market confidence —

Investors moved en masse to offload the currency, […] in the wake of the failure of the Tadic coalition government, which had come to embody the country’s aspiration to enter the European Union, and the surprise victory of right-wing leader Tomislav Nikolic, who is now experiencing difficulties in forming a government.

Belgrade is also largely dependent on “foreign banks based in EU countries, many of which are Greek and Italian.” This is one of the main reasons for concern over the prospect “of another credit squeeze in the region,” notes the French daily.

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


“The Reason is Religion, Mom”

The Investigative Project on Terrorism

Army Pvt. Naser Jason Abdo faced his mother during a visit in a Texas jail last July.

Abdo had been arrested for plotting an attack on a restaurant in Killeen popular with soldiers from nearby Fort Hood. He would set off a bomb inside the restaurant, then shoot and kill as many survivors as possible as they scrambled out to safety. His mother asked the obvious question. Why? Jurors convicted Abdo’s Thursday of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempted murder after hearing and seeing the answer on video. “The reason is religion, Mom.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Absurd Whitewashing: U.S. Army Overlooks ‘Know Your Enemy’ Rule

by Michael Coren

Welcome to our brave new world of truth, honesty and courage. The U.S. Army has a Special Operations Training Course, where its commandos, Green Berets, secret military operatives and so on are taught about the enemy, and the context of whom they’re fighting. Today, it’s not the communists or fascists who the Americans and the west are up against, but of course Islamic fanatics. So, obviously they need to understand Islam, Shariah law, the Qur’an, and so on. Here, then, is what the manual for the Arabic language section of the course says about the legal code of the Islamic world.

“The Shariah (Islamic law) prescribes rules to regulate the functioning of the family so that both spouses can live together in love, security and tranquility.”

Well, sort of. Mind you, more than 90% of all honour killings are committed by Muslims in the name of Islam. Britain is experiencing a plague of Muslim gangs grooming teenage white girls into prostitution after mass raping them; polygamy invariably reduces women to mere chattel; girls are often denied an education and even health care; and a raped woman is generally designated as the offender rather than the victim. The list could go on, and frankly it’s just applied common sense to realize that such a description of Shariah is like defining Mussolini as a man who managed to drain marshes and make the trains run on time! It’s an absurd whitewashing, an infantile and horribly misleading caricature of a pernicious challenge to equality and decency.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Differences Between Mormonism and Christianity

Table that compares the differences between Mormonism and Christianity: [table]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Go to Jail for Dissing the President?

Did you know you can be arrested and jailed for saying “disrespectful” things about the president?

According to a highly-trained education professional teaching “social studies” in the Rowan-Salisbury public schools, North Carolina, you can’t “say things” about the president—although in just about the same breath, she said President George W. Bush was, if you’ll excuse the expression, “sh**ty.” Her tirade was recorded by a student in her classroom, and you can listen to it here. [url]

The Salisbury Post reported last week that the teacher “tells a student he can be arrested for speaking ill of President Barack Obama.” In the interests of truth, we must point out that the teacher, for all her blustering foolishness, did not actually say that. If you listen to the entire recording, almost 10 minutes long, you will not hear her say you can be arrested for dissing the current occupier of the White House.

What she did say—and it’s clear she is fanatically devoted to Obama, even to the point of being emotionally disturbed about it—was this…

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Hundreds of Words to Avoid Using Online if You Don’t Want the Government Spying on You

The Department of Homeland Security has been forced to release a list of keywords and phrases it uses to monitor social networking sites and online media for signs of terrorist or other threats against the U.S.


Released under a freedom of information request, the information sheds new light on how government analysts are instructed to patrol the internet searching for domestic and external threats.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Kansas Gov. Signs Measure Blocking Islamic Law

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a law aimed at keeping the state’s courts or government agencies from basing decisions on Islamic or other foreign legal codes, and a national Muslim group’s spokesman said Friday that a court challenge is likely. The new law, taking effect July 1, doesn’t specifically mention Shariah law, which broadly refers to codes within the Islamic legal system. Instead, it says courts, administrative agencies or state tribunals can’t base rulings on any foreign law or legal system that would not grant the parties the same rights guaranteed by state and U.S. constitutions.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Marked for Death: An Anti-Islam Rally Cry for Politicians

by Ferry Biedermann

Do we live in the age of the civilisational warrior? And if so, what is that warrior’s influence on the political events of our time?

If you were to conduct an online search of stories using the terms “Obama” and “Muslim”, it will almost certainly turn up a plethora of screeds linking the incumbent US president to Islam, accusing him of appeasing Islam, regurgitating the misconception that he is a Muslim and even calling him a candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Obama Hires His Personal Murder Czar and Dems Continue to Threaten SCOTUS

When any country’s leader reaches comprehensive dictator status, he begins either incarcerating or killing off his opponents (aka enemies). One need only look at the rich and murderous histories of Josef Stalin, Adolph Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot and other tyrannical rulers to know that this is a fait accompli in all totalitarian regimes. In one way or another, each of these tyrants conducted their own personal genocide(s).

In fact, Barack Obama’s FCC “Diversity” Czar Mark Lloyd has touted as legitimate the usage of a willing and malleable press (as was done with the media-based “Big-Lie” that the Tutsis planned to enslave the Hutus which resulted in the Rwandan slaughter of 800,000 Tutsis within a period of 100 days) to conduct just such a genocide for “social change.” The openly Black Liberation (Marxist) Lloyd also praises Venezuelan Marxist Dictator Hugo Chavez and has said the “whites” need to be forced to step down allowing blacks and other minorities to have their turn at power. ObamaCzar Lloyd also says that free speech is overrated and “This freedom is all too often an exaggeration. At the very least, blind references to freedom of speech or the press serve as a distraction from the critical examination of other communications policies.” And with regards to the American people, one of Lloyd’s patently racist comments is: “There are few things I think more frightening in the American mind than dark skinned black men. Here I am!”


In the past, the Joint Chiefs of Staff had substantial input into this process. Now, however, appointee-Brennan has been given (by his boss Obama) the role of holding the decision trump card(s) as to when, where and whom will be ‘taken out’ by the recently enabled and enacted drone aircrafts. One thing the AP story did not cover is the fact that the Obama-drones are now being used—nationwide—for domestic surveillance within the United States. One must—logically, I believe—surmise that it won’t be a great deal longer until Obama uses the Brennan-controlled drones for Obama’s opponents (aka “domestic enemies”). That, after all, was largely why the “domestic-enemy” NDAA bill was crafted by the Marxist pair McCain and Levin. And, now Brennan has been given license to choose who will be killed.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Shameless Bias by Omission

You’d think the largest legal action in American history in defense of religious liberty would be a major news story. But ABC, CBS, and NBC don’t judge news events by their inherent importance as relates to the future of our freedoms. They deliver the news according to a simple formula: Does it, or doesn’t it, advance the re-election of Barack Obama?

If it doesn’t, it isn’t news.

On May 21, 43 Catholic dioceses and organizations sued the Obama administration over its ridiculously narrow idea of how a “religious institution” can be defined under their ObamaCare law. Never has the Catholic Church — or any order, for that matter — undertaken something of this magnitude. It’s truly jaw-dropping that ABC and NBC completely ignored this action on their evening newscasts, while “CBS Evening News” devoted just 19 seconds to this historic event.

No, let’s be blunt: They spiked the news.

This is the worst example of shameless bias by omission I have seen in the quarter-century history of the Media Research Center. We recall the Chinese communists withholding from its citizenry for 20 years the news that the U.S. had landed on the moon, because it reflected poorly on their government. Never, never would the U.S. “news” media behave thusly.

They just did.

This is not an honest mistake. It was not an editorial oversight by the broadcast networks. It did not occur too late for the evening deadline. This was a deliberate and insidious withholding of national news to protect the “Chosen One” who ABC, CBS and NBC have worked so hard to elect and for whom they are now abusing their journalistic influence. Even when CBS mentioned the suit ever-so-briefly, like so many others, they deliberately distorted the issue by framing it as a contraception lawsuit when it is much broader, a religious freedom issue — and they know it.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The DNA of the CIA

Spying has always played an essential role in the history of war and statecraft. George Washington set up an intelligence gathering operation that contributed greatly to winning the Revolution.

Recently, during a “60 Minutes” interview, Henry A. (Hank) Crumpton, a former high ranking officer of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) made news saying, “If you look at the threat that is imposed upon our nation every day, some of the major nation states — China in particular — (have) very sophisticated intelligence operations, very aggressive operations against the U.S.

“I would hazard to guess there are more foreign intelligence officers inside the U.S., working against U.S. interests now than even at the height of the Cold War,” said Crumpton.

Except for media coverage of his assessment, there was little public response.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Election Over Capitalism

The Soviet Union leaders called us capitalist pigs. I never thought the Democrats would start calling us that too.

This election has come down to whether you support capitalism, or socialism. For the first time in my lifetime, capitalism is the enemy as far as the President of the United States is concerned, and to win his reelection, he is launching attack after attack against capitalism, and the capitalists that dare to make a profit.

This nation’s prosperity is the direct result of our free enterprise and capitalist system. The concept of capitalism was present from the very beginning, though it was not called such. Capitalism built America, from the individual successes of the early colonists, to the individual successes of today’s business owners.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Last Days of the Media

The magazine business isn’t what it used to be. In the last ten years, Newsweek lost 2.5 million readers, and its newsstand sales are hardly worth mentioning. A full-page ad in it costs less than the price of a luxury car. Sold for a buck to the husband of an influential Congresswoman, merged with an internet site, it survives only by building issues around provocative essays and covers.

If you want to understand why Newsweek put a badly photoshopped picture of Obama with a gay halo on its cover or features Romney doing a number from The Book of Mormon, you need only look at those numbers. Fifteen years ago, desperate tactics like that were for alt weeklies like The Village Voice, but Time and Newsweek are the new Village Voice. Or the new Salon.

There is no news business anymore, just media trolls looking for a traffic handout, feeding off manufactured controversies that they create and then report on. Magazines and sites struggling to stay alive while preaching to a narrow audience which likes essays by leftist cranks and mocking pictures of conservatives. And they’re not alone; any magazine that still covers politics, covers it in the same exact way.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UN Agenda 21 and the Military

Welcome to UN Agenda 21 “sustainability” in the last bastion of capitalism — the U.S. military. According to the May 19, 2012 issue of Army Times, “The Defense Department, like other federal agencies, is already under orders from the White House to curb energy use throughout its operations and emphasize Sustainable Development. “Planners must make bases more walkable.”(Sean Reilly)

The euphemisms concocted by the environmentalists with the Club of Rome, the original developers of the scare tactic idea of fabricated global warming/climate change catastrophes, have made their way into the military lingo.

The federal government guidelines demand “compact development,” “mass transit,” “energy conservation,” “sustainable development,” and high-rise mixed housing, a five-minute walk from shops and work. Land preservation must be included in military missions, a monumental challenge, costing a huge amount of taxpayer dollars since the Defense Department has 300,000 buildings and 2.2 billion square feet.


“Which would you rather have? Would you rather spend $4 billion on Air Force Base solar panels, or would you rather have 28 new F-22s or 30 F-25s or modernized C-130s? Would you rather have $64.8 billion spent on pointless global warming efforts, or would you rather have more funds put towards modernizing our fleet of ships, aircraft and ground vehicles to improve the safety of our troops and help defend our nation against the legitimate threats that we face?” (Sen. James Inhofe as quoted by Caroline May)

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

United States Socialist Republic (USSR)

In United States Socialist Republic (Part 1), the first three major characteristics of the similarities between Lenin and President Obama were discussed. In the United States Socialist Republic (Part 2), the fourth through the seventh similarities between Lenin and President Obama will be discussed. They are as follows:

Fourth, President Obama and his administration definitely have a billionaire-backer for their socialist agenda. He is George Soros. According to Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes in an article “Correctly Attributed” by,

  • He’s anti-God, anti-family, anti-American, and anti-good. He killed and robbed his own Jewish people. What we have in Soros, is a multi-billionaire atheist, with skewed moral values, and a sociopath’s lack of conscience. He considers himself to be an elitist World class philosopher, despises the American way, and just loves to do social engineering and change cultures.
  • Soros has been actively working to destroy America from the inside out for some years now. People have been warning us. Two years ago, news sources reported that Soros [is] an extremist who wants open borders, a one-world foreign policy, legalized drugs, euthanasia, and on and on.

This is off-the-chart dangerous. In 1997 Rachel Ehrenfeld wrote, “Soros uses his philanthropy to change or more accurately deconstruct the moral values and attitudes of the Western world, and particularly of the American people. His “open society” is not about freedom; it is about license. His vision rejects the notion of ordered liberty, in favor of a PROGRESSIVE ideology of rights and entitlements.


Fifth, President Obama does have many of the same leadership qualities that Vladimir Lenin had. As a result, like Lenin, President Obama is a professional revolutionary with an iron will, ruthless, brilliant speaker, a good planner with ONE aim to overthrow the government. According to a Snopes “Correctly Attributed” article written by his college classmate at Columbia University, Wayne Allyn Root, Class of 1983, President Obama is not an incompetent person. In reality, “he is a brilliant person who knows what he is doing. He is purposely overwhelming the U.S. Economy to create systemic failure, economic crisis and social chaos — thereby destroying capitalism and our country from within.

How would President Obama destroy America from within? Apparently, according to Mr. Root, President Obama is using a myriad of strategies to achieve his objectives. They are as follows:

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Why LOST (The Law of the Sea Treaty) Is Dangerous to US Sovereignty

The Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) was first conceived in the early 1980’s by the United Nations as a method for them to gain control of most of the activities on, over, and beneath the ocean’s surface. The fundamental premise of the Law of the Sea Treaty is that the resources on the ocean’s floor belong to all of the people of the world and those resources should be protected and controlled by an international organization like the United Nations. Although that may sound like a noble goal, in order to achieve this goal, the United Nations has created a multinational, bureaucratic creature called the International Seabed Authority (“ISA”) and charged this entity with regulating and controlling the world’s mineral resources in the oceans.

When President Reagan was president, he objected to several of the treaty’s provisions that would have resulted in surrendering our nation’s sovereignty and refused to sign it, but that didn’t stop the proponents of world government and the New World Order. In 1994, the “progressives (a nice term used to describe communists) at the United Nations decided to keep moving forward with their plans by creating a diversion they called an “Agreement of Implementation” that was supposed to address the concerns of the United States and other industrialized nations. It didn’t change anything. This new agreement was all smoke and mirrors, but our Oxford educated, globalist president Bill Clinton signed it anyway. The Senate, however, refused to ratify it, as required by the U.S. Constitution.

Proposed regulations in the new Law of the Sea Treaty will require private companies that want to conduct exploration and mining operations in international waters to submit substantial application fees to the UN’s International Seabed Authority (ISA), which in turn would allow the ISA to use these application fees to partially pay for its own mining efforts through its own mining subsidy, called the Enterprise. Corporations from member nations operating in international waters would have to pay annual fees and even be taxed to pay a percentage of their profits to the ISA. These corporations would also be expected to share their mining and navigational technology with third world countries to ensure that opportunities aren’t restricted to more technologically advanced. This is insane. The decision to grant or to withhold mining permits in international waters would now be decided by unelected, globalist bureaucrats at the United Nation’s International Seabed Authority (ISA).

The Treaty would essentially give the United Nations, a notoriously corrupt, anti-American, anti-capitalist and un-democratic organization, the power to assert control over 70% of the earth’s surface.


The socialists, Marxists, globalists and other supporters of the New World Order keep pushing for this treaty. Senator Harry Reid has indicated that he might reintroduce the treaty in the Senate for a vote in the near future and Barack Obama, our socialist President, who is a long term advocate of the Law of the Sea Treaty, has indicated that he will sign it if passed by the Senate.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

EP Crackdown on Illegal Tuna Fishing

Euro MPS, identify reproduction areas and create ‘havens’

(ANSAmed) — STRASBOURG, MAY 23 — Calls have been made in the European Parliament to reduce further the quantity of illegal blue-fin tuna fishing in the Eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean and to identify reproduction areas at sea, where fishing is to be forbidden. These are just some of the requests approved by an overwhelming majority (635 votes in favour, 16 against and 11 abstentions) in Strasbourg today with the aim of guaranteeing more sustainable development of stock. For the European Union, it is a case of incorporating into European law the recommendations agreed with the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), which mainly focus on “the reduction of the dimensions of fishing fleets, the extension of closed fishing seasons for dragnets and heightened checks”. After the Parliament vote, the new rules must also be approved by the EU’s Council of Ministers.

NO TO ILLEGAL FISHING — The reconstruction plans for blue-fin tuna stocks will see checks stepped up, including those concerning the transfer of tuna from nets to cages. All operations involving caging tuna will now have to be recorded on video. If the number or maximum weight of tuna is over 10% above the figure declared, the excess will automatically have to be released.

MONITORING — Member states will need to guarantee the monitoring by their national observers of all dragnet fishing boats of less than 20 metres long in 2012. For larger boats, a regional observer from the ICCAT will be tasked with monitoring.

Only 20% of dragnets were checked previously.

FEWER FISHING BOATS — Member states have until the start of 2013 to bring their fishing fleets in to line with the contingents agreed. The dragnet fishing season will also be reduced from two months to one, and will take place between May 15 and June 15.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Eurovision Song Contest is the Real Union of Europe

by Fraser Nelson

Tonight, half a billion people in 42 countries will glory in the kitsch and camp of the Eurovision Song Contest. It does more to bring people together than the EU will ever do

In its long and eventful history, the Eurovision Song Contest has never had an equivalent to Sir Terry Wogan. His caustic commentaries on the singers, their songs, and rival nations summed up a very British ambivalence to this bizarre, foreign event, which provides high camp, Saturday-night entertainment for close to half a billion viewers in 42 countries. But in 2008, after 35 years, Sir Terry quit. The contest, he complained, had become predictable. Countries were voting for their allies, no matter how good (or appalling) their entry. Eurovision, he grumbled, was “no longer a music contest”.

But Eurovision has never really been a music contest, and to its fans — myself included — this is the appeal. Every vote from every country is dripping in politics, and through these votes you can see scores being settled, pot shots being fired and even hatchets being buried. Sir Terry was right: the score that German voters give Greece tonight will not be a statement of musical purity. Eurovision is a wonderful annual clash of polities, cultures and ethnicities that not only reflects European politics but even anticipates future trends. One night of Eurovision says more about European politics than a year of debates in the Strasbourg parliament.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Italian Cheese Production Hit Hard by Earthquake

First losses estimated 200-250 million euros

(ANSA) — Rome, May 22 — At least 10% of the production of Italy’s prestigious Parmigiano Reggiano cheese was destroyed by Sunday’s earthquake that shook the region of Emilia-Romagna, killing seven, reported the farmers’ association Coldiretti on Tuesday. Some 300,000 Parmigiano Reggiano wheels were lost in and near the town of Modena when aging racks collapsed. Grana Padano, another famous Italian cheese produced in the province of Mantova, lost 100,000 wheels, or 2% of its total production. Damages to Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano producers so far are estimated at 200-250 million euros, a “conservative number,” said Stefano Berni, head the Grana Padano consortium.

Premier Mario Monti said Tuesday that taxes may be suspended in the areas of Emilia-Romagna hit by Sunday’s deadly earthquake and that his government will declare a state of emergency later on Tuesday.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Teen Gypsy Shot Dead, Body Dumped at Hospital

Naples, 21 May (AKI) — A Roma- Gypsy teenager was shot dead late Sunday and his body dumped in front of a hospital near Naples.

The 15-year-old boy who was shot with a pistol was abandoned in front of the San Giuliano di Giugliano hospital in the town of Giugliano. His name was not immediately released but police said he lived in a gypsy camp in Giugliano.

A car was seen leaving the seen after dumping the body.

Of the 150,000 Roma-Gypsies who live in Italy, about 70,000 have Italian citizenship. Many Roma Gypsies come from Romania. Up to 40,000 Roma-Gypsies migrated to Italy after the 1990s Balkan wars.

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

Italy: Berlusconi and Romani Investigated in Monza for Corruption

(AGI) Milan — Monza’s public prosecutor has entered the names of Paolo Berlusconi and Paolo Romani, former minister of Economic Development as being under investigation for corruption in Monza. At the time Romani was a member of the PDL-Northern League government as city assessor. The investigation began after a revelation by the former center-left mayor, Michele Faglia. The accusations state that Berlusconi and Romani tried to corrupt minority councillors in order to pass an amendment in the council, starting the Cascinazza affair.

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

Italy: Prada to Add 260 Shops in Three Years on Demand From Emerging Economies

Milan, 24 May (AKI/Bloomberg) — Prada SpA (1913), the Italian fashion company that owns the Miu Miu and Church’s brands, plans to add 260 stores in the next three years to tap demand in emerging markets including Brazil, China and Persian Gulf countries.

“We aim to speed up expansion by opening 100 stores this year, 80 stores each in 2013 and 2014 globally,” said Chief Executive Officer Patrizio Bertelli whose company opened 75 stores last year.

Demand for Prada leather goods and other items is rising even as China’s economic growth slows and Europe’s debt crisis weighs on consumer spending, Bertelli said. The company is benefiting from increasingly wealthy Chinese tourists who are fueling growth in Europe as it also targets markets in the Middle East, he said.

“We are expanding in Morocco, Istanbul, Beirut, Dubai and Qatar,” Bertelli said in an interview with Bloomberg Television conducted in Italian via a translator. “Brazil is also a big market we’re looking at.”

The expansion would increase the number of Prada outlets to 674 by adding to the 388 directly operated stores and 26 franchises it had as of January.

The so-called BRICs take their name from the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

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

Italy: Cabinet Ratifies Italy-U.S. Agreement on Terrorism

(AGI) Rome — The Cabinet has ratified a draft bill on the Italy-U.S. agreement on the fight against terrorism. A government statement informs that, “This agreement sanctions the commitment of our two countries to achieve closer police cooperation for the prevention of trans-border crimes and terrorism, implemented to the automated consultation of data and DNA profiles.”

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

Italy Lags Behind on Jobs, Education in Better Life Index

But nation performs well in life expectancy, OECD says

(see related stories on OECD) (ANSA) — Rome, May 22 — Italy came low in the OECD’s updated Your Better Life Index on Tuesday for employment and education but was on high on the list for life expectancy.

Out of the 36 countries examined in the OECD study, Italy ranked 34th for the percentage of working-age people holding jobs, 57%, and 28th for the percentage of the people who are long-term unemployed, 4.08% compared to an OECD average of 3%.

In the area of education, Italy fell below average in two of the three parameters. It came 28th for the percentage of adults between the ages of 25 and 64 who had at least a secondary school diploma and 27th for the competence of its students, with a rating of 486 points against an OECD average of 497 points.

Italy was in 26th place out of 36 in terms of the perceptions people have of the level of well-being in their own country, with an average rating of 6.1 points out of 10, well below the average.

The nation came fourth for life expectancy though, in part thanks to a below-average percentage of the population that smokes and-or is obese.

In 2009, life expectancy at birth in Italy was 82 years, two years above the OECD average of 80. Life expectancy for women is 85 years, compared with 79 for men. The OECD’s Your Better Life Index aims to measure and compare national wellbeing in a way that goes beyond traditional GDP numbers.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy Bans Cosmetic Breast Surgery for Under-18s

Final approval given by House commission

(ANSA) — Rome, May 23 — Italy has banned doctors from giving breast implants and performing cosmetic breast surgery for girls under 18.

The ban was given final approval by the House’s social affairs commission.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Monti: Fight Against Tax Evasion Not Made With Protests

(AGI) Bergamo — Mario Monti said, “The fight against tax evasion is not made with hollow words or gestures of protest.” The prime minister was speaking at the swearing in of Bergamo’s Financial Police. Tax evasion is not just a violation of the law but an obstacle to fair competition,” he said. The Financial Police is key to activities essential for recovery.

Anyone committed to work for legality and respect for the law is not distant from the people but shoulder to shoulder with them and at their service. This should give you the capacity to withstand the pressure.” Northern Italy, Monti said, is “often penalised” by pockets of tax evasion, perhaps attributable to other parts of the country. “We, the citizens of northern Italy and Lombardy are often hampered in the international competitiveness of our businesses because of large pockets of tax evasion that nest everywhere in the country, perhaps more in other parts of the country here.” .

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

Muslims Want More Burial Space in Germany

BERLIN // In a sombre sign that Muslims are becoming more integrated in German society, the 300,000-strong Islamic community in Berlin has complained that it is running out of graveyard space, and is urging authorities to help solve the problem. The shortage of sites reflects a desire by increasing numbers of Muslims to be buried in Germany rather than be taken to their countries of origin after their death. Community leaders have stepped up their campaign this month for more burial space.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Muslim Rapes of Children Covered up by U.K. Politicians

by Jim Kouri

In spite of British politicians’ and activists’ adherence to a politically-correct orthodoxy, police officers and citizens are well aware of a rampant crime problem in the United Kingdom — children being sexually abused by Muslim males — according to several British news organizations this week. According to a Law Enforcement Examiner source within the British law enforcement community, Muslim gangs frequently rape women, especially young girls, but cops are told to overlook the ethnicity and religion of perpetrators especially when the victims are white British citizens. As frequently happens in the United States, Muslim groups are continuously making claims that their rights are being violated by police officers and intelligence officers with the U.K.’s MI5 (Military Intelligence Section 5) who conduct surveillance of terrorist suspects and criminal activity within the Muslim community. The “racial profiling” label is attached to any police or security activity that Muslims find uncomfortable, said the British source.


[Reader comment by Barbara Griffith on 26 May 2012 at about 0400 hrs.]

Allowing your country to be overrun by Muslims is one of the worst mistakes any country can make. But the UK was one of the worst offenders as far as giving them anything they asked for. From foot washing in schools to special food for the lunch program. And now all of the UK population will pay for the mistakes of a group of politicians that was totally ignorant of the thought processes of the Muslim immigrants they were allowing to take over their country. The government has allowed churches to be replaced with giant mosques and the taxpayers have to foot the bill for the 8 kids these women have each. A lot of the population has moved out of the country because of this government sponsored invasion.

Just like what has happened here in the US with our doors standing wide open since 1964 half the world has moved to the US. And now most of our larger cities have large areas that look like Calcutta. Canada also have taken in thousands of boat refugees in the past 6 or 7 years they don’t have a clue who some of them really are, they may regret that in the coming years.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Preachers Insult the Netherlands

[Digest from the Dutch]

Last Friday, at a kind of press conference in the middle of the Amsterdam, the Muslims fundamentalists of Sharia4Belgium insulted the entire Dutch nation. According to the Salafists the Freedom Monument is nothing but the center of “the axis of evil” around which “all perversities assemble.”

According to the hate preachers, on the first sunny days of the year the Dutch people indulge in drinking and prostituting themselves. The group, which was in Amsterdam because they were invited to speak at a conference on Saturday, also threatened the life of PVV leader Geert Wilders. His fate will be that of the murdered film maker Theo van Gogh.

PVV parliamentarian Joram van Klaveren will question Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten about the incident. The latter was also threatened. “The minister can go to hell” preacher Abu Imran said. Earlier this week Opstelten warned Imran that he could be arrested and extradited to Morocco where a prison cell of the years for drug dealing is awaiting him.

During the speech another incident occurred. While the hate preachers could freely express their death threats a man was arrested while the tried to prevent the Salafists to speak.

The PVV wants the group to be forbidden. The man who expressed the death threats must be prosecuted and if necessary extradited, the PVV said.

[Return to headlines]

Schoolboy ‘Genius’ Solves Puzzles Posed by Sir Isaac Newton That Have Baffled Mathematicians for 350 Years

A 16-year-old has managed to crack puzzles which have baffled the world of maths for more than 350 years.

Shouryya Ray has been hailed a genius after working out the problems set by Sir Isaac Newton.

The schoolboy, from Dresden, Germany, solved two fundamental particle dynamics theories which physicists have previously been able to calculate only by using powerful computers.

His solutions mean that scientists can now calculate the flight path of a thrown ball and then predict how it will hit and bounce off a wall.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Swedish Security Police Raid Mosque in Goteborg

Security police spokeswoman Sirpa Franzen said Thursday’s raid against the Bellevue Mosque in Goteborg was prompted by prosecutor Agnetha Hilding Qvarnstrom, who heads the investigation against three men arrested on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. Mosque officials weren’t immediately available for comments. Franzen declined to say if the raid was connected to the arrests and wouldn’t give more details. The force only confirmed the operation, following a report in a GT tabloid.

The men, of Somali and Iraqi origin, were arrested as around 400 people were evacuated from an arts center and were initially suspected of plotting a terrorist attack. However, the charges were later changed to preparing murder and the prosecutor said it related only to one individual. The arrests and evacuation of the arts center — which is located beneath the city’s landmark half-mile (930-meter) Alvsborg bridge — spread jitters across Sweden, which saw a suicide bomber blow himself up on a pedestrian street in Stockholm in December.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Syriza Leads by 28.5% in Greek Surveys; NEA Dimokratia 26%

(AGI) Athens — A recent survey gives Tsipras’ extreme left-wing party Syriza gaining strength in view of the 17 of June elections. According to the VPRC Institute, Tsipras is forecast to win 28.5% of the votes against 26% of the conservative party Nea Dimokrata, which is also on an uptrend, and 12% of Pasok, which drops compared to previous polls.

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

UK: Don’t be Fooled by Resurgent Labour. They Would Soon Send US the Way of Greece

The Labour Party is doing an excellent job of creating an illusion of electability. After all the criticism it endured a few months ago about its lack of policies and, indeed, its lack of a serious leader, the weather has suddenly changed.

In the small world of Westminster politics, Labour seems to have the advantage. Not least, it’s facing a Government that reels from one crisis to another, led by a ‘chillaxing’ Prime Minister who merely responds to events rather than leads.

As Melanie Phillips wrote in last Monday’s Mail, the Tories face the prospect of an Opposition that is more Right-wing than they are. Indeed, that is a clever part of the illusion of its electability.


In the meantime, Labour continues shamelessly to present itself as the saviour of the country’s horrific economic problems — problems of which it was largely the architect when last in power.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Kayaker Tells of Desperate Effort to Save Boy, 15, Who Drowned After Leaping Into River Thames to Cool Off

A kayaker today told of four desperate attempts to save a teenage boy from drowning in the River Thames after he jumped off a bridge to cool off.

Kayleigh Robbins watched in horror as 15-year-old Hussain Mohammed and his friend both leapt off Donnington Bridge in Oxford hand-in-hand last night in front of dozens of bystanders.

The 21-year-old said she saw his female friend emerge straight away, and Hussain eventually resurfaced shouting for help but then disappeared under the water.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Legal Secretary Attacked by Girls Who ‘Rained Fists’ And Wiped Pizza in Her Face Slams Court for Letting Thugs Go Free

A legal secretary savagely assaulted by a girl gang during the Royal Wedding celebrations today slammed a decision to let her attackers walk free from court.

Daniela Holischeck, 41, was left with a bloodied face after being battered by ‘raining fists’ following a street party to mark Prince William and Kate Middleton’s marriage in April last year.

Kalee Powell, 18, and Precious Gordon, 19, along with a 17-year-old who cannot be named, attacked her and fellow legal secretary Birgit Habersetzer ‘like a pack’ after spending the day boozing.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Under-18s Commit a Quarter of All Crimes: Young Offenders Responsible for More Than a Million Crimes in Just One Year

A quarter of all crimes are committed by offenders under the age of 18, official figures suggest.

A report has revealed that young offenders committed more than a million crimes in a single year. They were behind half of all robberies, and one in three burglaries.

The Home Office research paper on youth crime in England and Wales in 2009/10 shows that youngsters commit a ‘disproportionate’ amount of crime, as under-18s make up a tenth of the population but are responsible for 23 per cent of offences.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Vatican: Bank Chief Ousted After Money-Laundering Scandal

Vatican City, 25 May (AKI/Bloomberg) — The Vatican bank, whose reputation took a blow last year over an investigation into money laundering, has fired Chairman Ettore Gotti Tedeschi after a tenure stained by a financial scandal.

In a vote of no-confidence, the board of directors unanimously agreed to remove Tedeschi, a Banco Santander SA (SAN) banker who took the job in 2009, from his post for failing “to carry out various duties of primary importance,” according to a statement Thursday by Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi.

“I would rather say nothing otherwise I would only have ugly words to say,” Tedeschi told reporters in Rome.

The bank, which is formally called the Institute for the Works of Religion, said it’s now hunting for a replacement who can “restore” relations with the financial community. Set up in 1942 by Pope Pius XII to manage the Vatican’s finances, the bank, known by its Italian initials as the IOR, reports directly to the pope.

After barely a year in office, Tedeschi, who also teaches ethics in finance at Milan’s Catholic University, was taken by surprise when Italian prosecutors in 2010 seized 23 million euros (29 million dollars) from a Rome bank account registered to the IOR amid suspicions of money-laundering violations.

He and Director General Paolo Cipriani were placed under investigation for allegedly omitting data in wire transfers from an Italian account. The publication this month of confidential leaked documents in a book titled “Your Holiness” by journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi also painted a poor picture of Tedeschi as the man in charge of the church’s money.

The probe triggered calls to bring the city-state in line with European Union financial rules and become more transparent.

Tedeschi responded by saying the investigation was yet another example of the Catholic Church coming under “fierce attack.” At the time, Pope Benedict XVI was beset by allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests.

The cardinals on the IOR’s governing council are to meet today to decide on the next steps, according to the Vatican statement.

The institute is no stranger to scandal. It was implicated in the fraudulent bankruptcy of Banco Ambrosiano in 1982. The bank’s former Chairman Roberto Calvi, dubbed “God’s banker,” was found hanged under London’s Blackfriars Bridge in June of that year. The Vatican paid 240 million dollars to compensate Ambrosiano’s account holders without admitting any wrongdoing.

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

Vatileaks and the Vatican’s Irritation

I have just finished reading “His Holiness, the secret files of Benedict XVI” which contains the ‘Vatileaks’, the documents and letters that an internal Vatican source gave to journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi. As you know, yesterday the Holy See reacted harshly to this, defining the operation “a criminal act” and declaring its will to “take the necessary steps” with the help of the international community.

It is obvious and also understandable that the Vatican feels exasperated at the publication of messages, notes, memos, remarks and letters that had been written only a few months or in some cases a few weeks before. I am not sure what legal action can be taken against publication, but it seems obvious to me that the Holy See has an internal security problem and that the “criminal act” was carried out by someone working inside the Vatican, who may have access to the archives and who manages to intercept papers coming from the Pope, his secretary and the Secretary of State. This person has a precise objective, the details of which are still somewhat hazy. But the source of the problem is the mole’s identity.

From what I know the internal investigation into who was responsible for the leaks has not yet been successful. The three old cardinals in charge of the investigation (Herranz, Tomko and De Giorgi) have received the results of the work carried out by the Vatican Gendarmerie, but it seems that there are no specific leads, despite the fact that only a few people have had access to the documents going in and out of the Pope’s office and that of his secretary. As such, the creation of the committee, which was announced a month in advance by the Substitute to the Secretary of State, Becciu, and which was established on the 25 April, as well as yesterday’s statement seem to have the intent of discouraging further instances of this kind rather than investigating the current ones. But for the time being (more than three months since the first leaks came out) a solution seems to lie beyond the Vatican’s reach.

Moreover one cannot help notice how yesterday’s harsh statement by the Vatican unintentionally ended up doing the book’s author a favour. Obviously, whoever prepared the statement did not mean to do this, but rather felt the need to send out a precise message.

Now, let’s talk about the book: it certainly has a documentary value because of the papers it presents, which in part had already been published by Il Fatto Quotidiano daily newspaper. I noticed that it defines the same situation that I, without any documents at my disposal, had in some cases described, in a more fragmented way. An example would be the meeting between the pope and president Giorgio Napolitano on the 19th of January 2009. Il Giornale newspaper talked about that lunch (not dinner) at length four days after the event.

It was also interesting to read about the evening of the 10th of December 2009 when a car belonging to the Vatican Gendarmerie, with the licence plate SCV, was riddled with bullets while the drivers were at dinner in a restaurant in Rome, an act that was objectively disturbing. In this case too, the reconstruction provided by Il Giornale a few weeks after the event proved correct, as shown by this article written days after the incident in St. Peter’s Basilica on Christmas Eve that year, when the Pope was pushed over by a young mentally ill Swiss woman.

The same can be said for the columns dedicated to the Williamson case and the revocation of the excommunication of the Lefebvrian bishops. In the book Nuzzi presents the minutes of the meeting that took place in the Secretariat of State, which were made public in August 2010 in the book “Attack on Ratzinger” (pp.110-116). The same can also be said for the reconstruction of the conflict for the control of the Toniolo institute and for the debate and internal tensions linked to the acquisition of San Raffaele (Saint Raphael) with money coming also from the IOR.

On the other hand, the letters sent by the former editor in chief of Avvenire newspaper, Dino Boffo, to the Pope’s secretary offer details that help put together the last pieces of a puzzle that was only half finished; while the messages regarding the nomination of Cardinal Angelo Scola in Milan and other documents that I will mention in greater depth in the next few days offer brand new insights into the internal workings of the Vatican.

I disagree however on one point. Nuzzi and some influential critics said that it is not useful to ponder on who might be responsible for leaking such a hefty and varied load of documents, but rather one ought to analyse the content of said documents. It is obvious that these papers, which, as I said before, help piece together known facts in greater detail, must be examined. But I believe that in order to understand the workings of the Vatican it is also necessary to ask ourselves what happened, what conflict might be taking place in the Holy See, who might be behind these unprecedented leaks and why would anyone orchestrate them. I hope Nuzzi will forgive me, but I struggle to believe the story that his source, Maria as she is called, repeatedly leaked bundles of documents simply in the name of ‘transparency’.

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

North Africa

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Against Shafiq to Save Revolution

(AGI) Cairo — Egypt “will be in danger” should former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq win the presidential elections. That’s the warning coming from the Muslim Brotherhood, which also asked the Egyptian opposition parties to discuss how to save the Revolution, according to party member Essam al-Erian, who confirmed that “it is now clear” that candidate Mohamed Morsy will face Shafiq in the ballot and that the party will start to hold talks with the other candidates, starting tomorrow.

Hamdeen Sabahy and Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh have also been invited to tomorrow’s meeting.

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

Former Intelligence Chief ‘Holds Key’ To Yvonne Fletcher Shooting in 1984, Says Libyan PM

Libya’s Prime Minister has claimed his country’s former head of intelligence holds the key to solving the murder of policewoman Yvonne Fletcher, who was shot dead outside London’s Libyan embassy in 1984.

Leader Abdurrahim El-Keib, who yesterday visited the spot where Wpc Fletcher was shot dead, described Abdullah al-Senussi as the ‘black box’ who would know who carried out the killing.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Leila Ben Ali Tells Her Side of the Story

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS — The debate is between those claiming that the ‘fiendish’ Leila can write what she likes — in line with the rules of the country’s democracy newly acquired through the “revolution” — and those who instead say after the harm she did to the population she does not deserve the right she denied those opposing her. Within her “golden retreat” in Saudi Arabia (where she rushed to on January 14 last year) Leila Trabelzi had remained silent after a few remarks made shortly after the fall of the regime. She is now filling this “void” — which nobody had really paid much attention to or at least in Tunisia, where she stills remains for many the “Hajema”, the hairdresser who was able to bewitch Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and bring out his sensational divorce from his first wife.

The “hairdresser”: a woman who became a queen and who has now set out to explain — or at least try to — what was actually behind the fall of the dictatorship, in response to the flood of accusations directed towards her and her husband. To be honest, the accusations were more towards her, considered to be the mind behind the regime and the one who in 23 years set up a family-based government in which everything that could be gained upon was made to pass through the hands of her original family.

Today Leila says that just like her husband she also loved her people very much, and never did what people accused her of doing, claiming that the entire matter has been manipulated. But what most people are asking themselves is: did she actually write “My Truth”, or is she just being used as an intermediary for her husband, to whom the Saudis have granted asylum while maintaining firmr silence on the matter? The two hypotheses are not entirely in contrast, since by defending herself Leila is also defending her husband, whose surname she used in this book. It will probably be a small success in the world of publishing (thanks to Éditions du Moment, directed by the French journalist and essayist Yves Deraie), but in Tunisia a minister has already announced that all profits from the book in Tunisia will be returned to the Tunisian population, from whom Leila stole.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: From North to South: Unrestrained Salafists Wreck Havoc in Tunisia

Hundreds of Salafists attack bars, shops, clash with security forces in Jendouba in the latest incident to raise religious tensions.

Hundreds of Salafists attacked bars and shops and clashed with security forces in a Tunisian town on Saturday in the latest incident to raise religious tensions in the country.

Police and witnesses in the northwestern town of Jendouba said hundreds of Salafis, followers of a puritanical interpretation of Islam, began rioting to protest the arrest of four men in connection with previous attacks on alcohol vendors. Police responded with tear gas, breaking up the crowd, but clashes had yet to die down, witnesses and police said. […]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Brave Saudi Woman Confronts Religious Police Trying to Chastise Her for Having Painted Nails — Then Posts Video Online

A brave Saudi woman confronted members of the country’s religious police after they accused of breaking strict modesty rules with her freshly painted nails.

The woman, who has not been identified, refuses their demands that she leave the mall where she is shopping and tells them that her nails are ‘none of [their] business’.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Dubai: Debate on Miniskirts and Low Necklines

Respect for local culture or tolerance to foreign habits?

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI — Dubai is known and appreciated for its tolerance towards the almost two hundred different nationalities that visit and live in the state. But the there is a gray area in which certain questions have remained unanswered, and this is starting to cause problems for the ‘locals’, as well as others. Hashtag #Dubaidresscode, tweeted by two young Emirati girls, has led to a public debate to which the press has dedicated complete pages, asking for “individual common sense” as well as a clampdown on “indecency” by the authorities. Many say that there are laws, but that they are not enforced. One would expect to find a clear dress code in the Muslim-Arab United Arab Emirates; it is unlikely to see women shopping in Qatar, Kuwait or Saudi Arabia with a low neckline or wearing a miniskirt. But the situation in Dubai is different.

The emirate is more tolerant to attract foreign professionals and technicians, indispensible to build and manage the country.

Foreigners may “feel at home” in Dubai, but this policy is now starting to show its downsides. Some Emirati citizens feel suffocated by the foreign residents, grown to over 80% in numbers, but the current situation is also a problem for the foreigners who risk being jailed for revealing too much skin or drinking in the wrong place.

Posters have been placed at the entrance of shopping centres, asking people to “dress respectfully.” Pictures of tops, shorts and miniskirts are crossed out by a diagonal red bar. But this message is too vague: how short can a skirt be? And a sleeve? What kind of demonstrations of affection are tolerated in public? And only for married couples? Who is allowed to drink, where and under which conditions? Tourists and foreign residents don’t know the exact answers to this questions. That way they may offend the local culture or worse, legal steps may be taken against them, leading to consequences ranging from imprisonment to deportation.

People need more information is the most wide-spread comment.

Brochures must be distributed when people enter the country, leaflets must be available in hotels and bars and the country has to collaborate more closely with travel agencies. Others say that people who live in Dubai need to be more tolerant, and that there must be more “clarity”, “surveillance”, with the Emirati authorities enforcing the law.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Four Fingers of a Thief in Iran to be Cut-Off

The finger amputation sentence of a thief will be carried out in Mashhad, Iran.

According to Mohabat News, the regime-supported daily, Khorasan, reported that a court in Iranshahr county sentenced a man to the Islamic punishment of amputation of four fingers for alleged robberies.

The sentence was confirmed by branch 29 of the Iranian high court and will be carried out in Mashhad soon.

His four fingers will be cut-off in the presence of other inmates and thieves.

Mr. Zoghi, the Prosecutor of Mashhad had already said that the hand of thieves who have committed robberies punishable by this sentence will indeed be amputated.

According to the Islamic penal code implemented in Iran, “under some conditions, the act of rubbery can be considered as “war against Allah” which is punishable by death.”

Regarding robberies not considered as “war against Allah”, Mr. Zoghi referred to verse 38 of chapter “Maedeh” in the Quran and stated, “according to this verse, the hand of a thief should be cut-off”.

           — Hat tip: Hermes[Return to headlines]

Suicide Car Bomb Kills 12 Rebels in North Yemen

(AGI) Sanaa — A suicide car bomb killed 12 people at a former school, transformed into rebel Shi’ite military base being used by Houthi guerrillas in northern Yemen. The attack, reported by a tribal chief, happened in the province of Al-Jawf on the border with Saudi Arabia.

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

Syria: Ban Ki-Moon: Many Towns in Rebels’ Hands

(AGI) New York — Relentless violence continues Syria’s unending crisis. As expressed in a letter addressed to the UN Security Council, the UN general secretary, Ban Ki-Moon underscored that Syria in undergoing a “significant physical destruction”, stating “that significant parts of some cities appear to be under the de facto control of opposition elements”. Ban continued stating that “while the international effort is making some impact on the ground, unacceptable levels of violence and abuses are continuing in violation of the six-point plan”. His report will be discussed next week by the Security Council.

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

Yemen: 62 Members of Al Qaeda & 3 Soldiers Die in Clashes

(AGI) Sanaa — At least 62 members of Al Qaeda, some of them Somali, and three Yemeni soldiers have died in clashes. The Yemeni Ministry of Defence reported that the fighting occurred as part of the government’s offensive in Zinyibar in the south of the country. On 12 May the army began a series of attacks on a number of Al Qaeda bastions, in particular Zinyibar and Yaar.

These towns have been in the hands of the Islamic guerrillas for more than a year, due to political instability following the protests that led to the resignation of former President Saleh.

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


Islamist Lawyer Faces Criminal Case Over Hate Speech

Russian prosecutors have initiated a case for inciting racial or ethnic hatred and affronting human dignity against a radical Islamist lawyer, Dagir Khasavov, who threatened “rivers of blood” should Sharia courts be denied to Russian Muslims. The prosecution investigated the case of Khasavov, a lawyer with the Muslim Union who had delivered a notorious speech in favour of reviving Sharia courts broadcast by the REN-TV channel on April 24, 2012, and filed it to the Central Investigation Department of the Russian Investigative Committee for Moscow, the prosecution said. Dagir Khasavov’s address received widespread critical acclaim in Russia. On May 4, 2012, the Russian Justice Ministry appealed to deny Khasavov his lawyer status. Khasavov has left Russia to hide abroad.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Russia to Deploy Its Yars Missile Systems in Siberia

Russian advanced mobile missile systems Yars will be deployed in Siberia and the Kaluga region in the immediate future, a Defense Ministry spokesman said on Monday.

He added that plans to deploy the Yars systems in the country’s other regions are also in the pipeline. The Yars system has an intercontinental range of up to 11,000 kilometers. Its RS-24 missile is fitted with a multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle warhead.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghan Parliament Approves U.S.-Afghan Security Pact

Afghanistan’s parliament has approved a strategic partnership agreement between Kabul and Washington, clearing the way for a U.S. presence in the country after most foreign combat troops leave in 2014.

Afghan lawmakers said the approval came in a vote on May 26.

It was not immediately clear how many lawmakers were present in the 249-seat lower house for the vote held by a show of hands. Legislators said only a handful of lawmakers voted against the pact.

The deal will now go to the Afghan Senate which is expected to approve it next week.

The strategic partnership agreement was signed by U.S. President Barack Obama and Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai in Kabul on May 2.

It sets out a long-term U.S. role in Afghanistan, including the provision of aid and advisers.

No Plans For Military Bases

The pact, reached after months of contentious negotiations, does not commit the United States to specific troop levels.

But it does allow Washington to potentially keep a number of troops after the planned 2014 withdrawal to train Afghan soldiers and pursue al-Qaeda militants.

It also states that the U.S. does not seek permanent military bases in Afghanistan.

[Return to headlines]

Afghanistan: It’s Hard to Believe We Can Build a Credible State After So Many Years of Failure

by Rory Stewart

History of invasions speaks of inflated pride

Three years ago, I started working on a documentary about foreign invasions of Afghanistan. This week in Chicago, Nato and the Afghan government were agreeing to withdraw foreign troops, having failed in the objectives they set themselves four years ago of defeating the Taliban and building a “credible, effective Afghan state”. It is easy to describe the disasters of the last 160 years. We filmed in the narrow, five-mile long gorge where 5,000 British soldiers and camp-followers were picked off, one by one, in the 1842 retreat towards Jalalabad. We filmed the ridge above Kabul, from which Highland soldiers were driven in 1880. We sat in the Kombat bar in Moscow, with Russian veterans, toasting the memories of the 20,000 Russians who were killed in Afghanistan in the 1980s; and with mujahedin commanders, talking of the million Afghans who were killed. But I am still struggling to understand how we got trapped in these situations — what exactly we were thinking, and who exactly was responsible.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

NATO and France: For Afghanistan, Worry About the People and Schools

The country is not ready for the transfer of powers and the withdrawal of international troops. 70% of funds absorbed by the military. Criticisms of France, but also NGOs. Fears for the resumption of inter-tribal violence and the situation of women. The reflections of a teacher in Kabul (who for safety reasons has used a pseudonym).

Kabul (AsiaNews) — At the NATO summit in Chicago there is discussion on the future of Afghanistan and the possibility that some European countries will leave Afghanistan before the agreed deadlines (late 2014). All this leads me to a few conclusions.

First, as you Westerners say, “pacta servanda sunt “ pacts must be respected. If the agreement between the members of NATO is that they will leave by 2014, everyone should respect this date.

It is true that France, with its mania for grandeur, thinks it can do as it pleases. It is also true that the world economic situation is difficult. But with all this, there are countries that are worse off than France, yet who remain faithful to their agreements. It seems to me that in addition to France, there are other countries — with sizable military contingents — who have decided to leave. The bulk will retire between 2013-2014, as outlined.

Another consideration: leaders in Chicago have to be clear about the consequences their decisions will have. The question to be answered is this: is the Afghan army prepared to take over management of the country’s security? And the police are prepared?

This begs a moral problem: with all the money donated to the armies and the military — about 70% of international aid — why is the training of Afghan troops taking so long? The rush to withdraw, and the way they are spending the money has left a bad taste in my mouth and a strong distrust of Western countries, because those of us who remain in Afghanistan will face the consequences.

After over 10 years, these troops leave a country almost exactly as they found it. From the social point of view living standards are more or less the same as the past. Sure, they will leave an armed trained military, who will defend the interests of groups rather than national interests. But if we consider that 70% of the funds went to the reorganization of the army and police, social structures — hospitals, schools, roads, which are what matters to people — only got the crumbs.

Another problem that the future of Afghanistan will face are the tribal struggles. Just look at the history of the country: the Tajiks who have always been overwhelmed by the Pashtuns, the Azara also humiliated, who are raising their head again.

Hopefully common sense will prevail, but fear is gripping the country because we are aware of not having prepared enough for a future of peace.

But rather than soldiers, much more support should be given to humanitarian operations in the time that remains. Even in this realm, however, there are NGOs that have been enriched with their operations in Afghanistan.

For a clear assessment of the commitment of the multinational force, we only need to consider one final point: that of improving the status of women.

One can say that the situation in Kabul is pretty good and the school attendance of girls is high. The girls want to study. Indeed, if there is an evolution of the country, this will be due to women alone. In other cities there are positive signs. But where the Taliban are in the villages, everything is determined by the mullahs and the Taliban and their mentality.

The anti-female mentality is always widespread in society. Perhaps only during the Soviet invasion there was greater freedom. Perhaps humanitarian organizations should do more for the education of girls and the general population.

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

Australia — Pacific

Every Banquet a Bonus: Lunch With Mohammad Hussein Al-Ansari

There is no better feeling than knowing that you are safe and free, a Bankstown ayatollah tells Debra Jopson.

When one is seeking an audience with an ayatollah who ranks as the most important Shiite religious figure in Australia, before there can be lunch, there must be protocol. “It is like meeting a cardinal,” says his son, Mohammad Basim al-Ansari, head of the Office of the Ayatollah for Australia and abroad, as we sit on mismatched furniture over tea, toast and coffee in a narrow CBD terrace house cafe with Sydney counterterrorism activist Fouad Nagm.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


54 Somalis Land at Lampedusa, Women & Children

(AGI) Agrigento — A boat with 54 Somalis on board, including women and children, was rescued by the Coast Guard off Lampedusa. The refugees were transferred to a Coast Guard patrol boat and taken to Lampedusa, where, after refreshments, they boarded the ferry for Porto Empedocle. They will arrive in the afternoon and then be taken by bus to the reception centres.

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

Chinese European Crisis and a Visit to Wenzhou’s Little Italy

Chinese have set out en masse in recent years to find their fortune as immigrants in Europe. Lately, though, more than usual are returning home in the face of Europe’s economic crisis and opportunities in their booming native land. In Wenzhou, the tale comes with an Italian twist

Looking at the data, more than 90% of the Chinese who have immigrated to Italy in recent years came from in and around Wenzhou. Around 2.5 million people live in this southern Chinese city in the region of Zhejiang, and some 9 million people live in its county. In some places, such as the town of Qingtian, more than 60% of the population has emigrated to different parts of Europe.

But the most recent numbers show a new trend: due to the crisis hitting the euro zone, many Chinese immigrants have decided to go back home, bringing along a piece of Europe.

That, of course, means a whiff of Italy is settling in China as well. For some it is just a matter of better clothes, but many former immigrants clearly miss other aspects of Europe. Newly opened stores in Wenzhou have European-sounding names such as Genio La Mode, or La Féta.

Italian bars and restaurants in Wenzhou are different from those you find in other Chinese cities. They don’t look like the posh clubs packed with foreigners in Beijing and Shanghai. They are not fashionable, and might actually fit in on a typical street back in an average Italian town. Caffè Ally sells Illy coffee products. The owners of the restaurant 0039, named after the Italian international area code, learned everything about Italian cooking from Wang, who works as a cook in Ostia, a seaside town near Rome. He came back to China to help launch the restaurant, but he will return to Italy soon.

Wang came out with the name for the restaurant because, he says, “my wife is in Italy with our child who was born in Ostia and has no affinity for China. To call them, I have to dial the area code 0039, which is the number closest to my heart right now.”

The restaurant serves typical Italian dishes, with the pasta cooked “al dente,” and as tasty as if an Italian chef had cooked them. Wang wears a white uniform with a little ribbon with an Italian flag. The same Italian flag waves outside of 0039, which is managed by Chinese people. Customers of 0039 and of Napoli, another Italian restaurant in town, are all Chinese too. They eat Italian food in the Chinese manner, placing all the plates at the center of the table and sharing them. There are plenty of pizzerias, and even a Piazza Rome, which is at the heart of the Europe City mall.

Wenzhou is a typically chaotic Chinese city, with stores that open and close nonstop, and dozens of Catholic and Protestant churches, due to the historically large Christian presence here.

Italian is “easier” than French

Along the main street that leads to the train station, Chezhan Dadao, there are several wine shops that sell Champagne and Cognac, imported by the returning immigrants from France. Song Xiaohu, the owner of Barolo, a store that organizes Italian wine tastings , says that “for many Chinese, everything about Italy is more accessible and genuine. Italian cooking, for example, does not require long and difficult preparations, so it is more approachable than French cooking. It is the same with the wine. French wines are good, but Italian wines are easier. Now, at weddings or birthdays, every Chinese who wants to make a good impression serves wine to his guests.”…

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

Italy: Police Smash ‘People-Smuggling Gang’ And Arrest Three Africans

Milan, 24 May (AKI) — In a series of dawn raids, police across Italy police arrested three African suspects and said they broke up a gang that allegedly smuggled into the country hundreds of migrants from Central and North Africa.

The three suspects arrested on Thursday are from Ghana, Nigeria and Ivory coast and they were detained during operations in the northern cityof Brescia, near Milan, in Catanzaro in the southern Calabria region and in Latina in the Lazio region surrounding Rome, police said.

The migrants paid thousands of euros each for their passage to Italy, spending days and nights aboard overcrowded and rickety people-smuggling boats, investigators said.

In mid-May, police in southern Italy arrested seven people trafficking suspects of Egyptian and Tunisian nationality.

Police said the arrests came amid six-month probe that uncovered an international people-smuggling ring based in Egypt with cells across Italy.

Italy last year overtook Greece as the number-one gateway for illegal immigration to Europe, following a massive influx of tens of thousands of migrants to Italy amid the unrest that ousted longtime authoritarian rulers in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

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

Italy: Moroccans in Quake Area Return Home

Rome, 25 May (AKI)- At least 100 Moroccans are returning home after the area in northern Italy where they were residing was struck by an earthquake five days ago.

The immigrants were forced to abandon their homes in the town of Finale Emilia in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region where a 5.9-magnitude quake early Sunday morning killed seven people and left around 5,000 homeless. A Moroccan working a night shift in a factory was among the dead.

The Moroccan embassy to Italy together with an organisation for expatriate Moroccans organised the bus trip that will take them home via a ferry from Gibraltar.

“Yesterday we received the request to help repatriate more than 200 Moroccans only in that area,” said Khalid Moufidi, coordinator of the Association of Moroccans in the world. “In just a few hours we were able to fit two buses that will take 100 Moroccans directly from Finale Emilia directly to Morocco.”

Other organisations working with the embassy in Rome may organise chartered flights to repatriate further Moroccans.

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

Culture Wars

Serbia: Gay Pride Back in Belgrade on October 6

Police-homophobe clashes in 2010. 2011 event was cancelled

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, MAY 22 — The Gay Pride will be held in Belgrade this year on October 6, it was announced today by the organizing committee, pointing out that the gay parade will be the culmination of a week of events and demonstrations which will begin on September 30. The Gay Pride’s slogan will be “Love, Faith, Hope” Boban Stojanovic, a member of the organization, told the press. Last year the Belgrade Gay Pride had been cancelled in fear of clashes and violence due to the threats of extremist groups of ultranationalist homophobes, intentioned to prevent in any way the parade from taking place. In 2010 the Gay Pride took place but ended with violent fighting between police and right-wing extremists resulting in hundreds of arrests and people being injured.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: Head Attacks Being Sent a Bible

21,000 copies of the King James Bible have been sent out, one to every state school in the country. The £370,000 cost was raised by private donations. Even those with no interest in religion can scarcely deny the literary significance of this book. The Education Secretary, Michael Gove, spoke on The World at One yesterday about the hundreds of letters of appreciation the Department of Education has received. Gove said it would be “fantastic” if philanthropists funded other “great books” to be sent to schools. But Peter Elliot, the Headmaster of the bog standard East Bridgwater Community School in Somerset writes to the Times Educational Supplement to show his sneering ingratitude:

Dear Mr Gove,

Thank you for taking the trouble to send me a copy of the King James Bible (“What should you do with the King James Bible from Michael Gove?”, 18 May). I appreciate you spending this considerable sum of money on distributing these weighty tomes across the country. In lieu of the capital monies that our school requires, I have placed this book under the corner of our main block to stop it listing any further. I see this as a highly cost-effective solution to scrapping the Building Schools for the Future programme.

If you are looking for further inspired ideas about how to spend money wisely, we are in desperate need of a series of umbrellas to place on the flat roof to stop the rain coming in — maybe you could have your face printed on them so the pupils would know who had been so generous.

Peter Elliott, Headteacher, East Bridgwater Community School, Somerset.

He seems to have rather missed the fact, which has been widely reported, that no taxpayers’ money was spent on sending out the book. Is he really so ignorant about the matter he has chosen to write about? Or is he seeking to deliberately mislead? Either way, if I lived in Bridgwater I wouldn’t want my children to go to his school — not because of the deficiencies of the building, but the deficiency of imagination and leadership. The sooner a free school is set up in Bridgwater to give parents a choice, the better. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]