Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 10/20/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 10/20/2009The big news story of the day concerns a halal goat meat plant in Illinois that was raided by the FBI and other Federal agencies. There was speculation that the issue was illegal immigrants, but the size of the raid and the armament carried by the agents seem to preclude that explanation. The Feds aren’t saying anything about what is going on.

In other news, a woman in Saudi Arabia has filed for a divorce because her husband stored her number on his mobile phone under the name “Guantanamo”.

Thanks to Barry Rubin, C. Cantoni, Earl Cromer, Gaia, Henrik, heroyalwhyness, Insubria, JD, JP, KGS, Paul Green, Sean O’Brian, TB, TV, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Financial Crisis
Kuwait: Fewer Immigrants as Recession Bites
Chuck Baldwin: You Might be a Constitutionalist if…
Congress Moves to Control All U.S. Water
D.C. Muslim Group’s Shocking Al-Qaida Ties
Does Sharia Law Promote Women’s Rights?
Illinois: Federal Agents Raid Goat Meat Plant
Obama Dragged Into University Race Row After Student is Crowned First White Beauty Queen
U.S. Scientist Who Found Water on the Moon Charged With Attempting to Spy for Israel
U.S. Sponsors Plan to Restrict Free Speech
US Airways, Others Settle Lawsuit Filed by Muslim Clerics
Libya-Canada: Minister Cannon in Tripoli to Renew Relations
Europe and the EU
Audio: ‘Green-Jobs’ Disaster Grips Germany
Berlusconi: Never Made a Gaffe, All Invented by the Newspapers
Denmark: Shooting Targets Hells Angels
EU: Ireland Says ‘Yes’ To the New World Order
Italy, Election: PDL Denies News of Piedmont Going to Northern League
Italy: State-Mafia Contacts Spark Polemics
Italy: ENEL’s Plan for Four Nuclear Reactors
Italy: Suicide Bomber Read Verses Before Attack
Italy: Protests Over Threat to Toads From 62 Million-Euro Road
Italy: Cicciolina Sues Sky Over Moana Film
Italy: Anger Over Muslim Lessons Proposal
Italy: “Street Lawyers” Help Homeless
Italy: Safeguards for PM Damages Judge
Netherlands: The Day the Last Moroccan Leaves
Pope Opens Door to Anglicans
Slovenia: 12% Live Below Poverty Line
Spain: 50:000 Protest in Santiago for Galician Language
Sweden Democrat Leader Reported for ‘Hate Speech’
UK: CSI: McDonald’s
UK: Criminal Checks on School Exchanges: Now Families Hosting Foreign Pupils Face Anti-Paedophile Vetting
UK: Devoted Couple Die Within Minutes of One Another After Suffering Heart Attacks
UK: Former Senior Military Figures on New List of ‘BNP Members’ As BBC Reviews Leader Griffin’s Question Time Appearance
UK: How Our Brave Servicemen Are Still Living in ‘Disgraceful’ Accommodation
UK: How Not to Prevent Violent Extremism
UK: I Was Savagely Disfigured by My Deranged Boyfriend: Acid Attack Victim Bravely Shows Her Face
UK: Labour Abandons ‘Backdoor’ Attempt to Store DNA of Innocent People for 12 Years
UK: Melanie Phillips: Our Leaders Are Queuing to Prove Their Virtue by Denouncing the Vile BNP. But It’s They Who Are to Blame for Its Rise
UK: Parents Sell Virgins Aged 12 for Sex
UK: Teenager ‘Attacked With Hammer by Asian Gang After Politically Correct School Ignored Racial Tensions’
Vatican Toasts Galileo
Croatia: OECD: In 3rd Place for Time Spent Watching TV
Kosovo: More Than 48,000 Serbs Sign Anti-EULEX Petition
Mediterranean Union
Italy-Libya: Urso, First Italian Business Free Trade Area
North Africa
Algeria: Al Qaida Emir Killed — Wanted for 14 Years
Egypt: Islamic Science College for Non-Arabic Speakers Set Up
Yemeni Rebels Get Death Penalty
Israel and the Palestinians
Barry Rubin: Palestinians Choose the Illusion of “Victory” Over Negotiated Peace
Gaza: Queen Bees Force Israeli Blockade
Israel-US Differences on Settlements Overcome
Protester Assails Blair in Palestinian Mosque
Rabbi Medan: Moral Weakness Allows Islam to Take Over the World
West Bank: Blair Insulted on Hebron Mosque Visit
Middle East
Abdullah: Israel Decide to Integrate or Stay Outside
Aqaba Choses as Location of Jordan’s First Nuclear Plant
‘Human Rights Watch’ Founder Denounces His Group as Anti-Israel
Iran Accuses Pakistan Over Attack
Jordan: King Abdullah, Peace Disappearing
Lebanon: Exploded Devices Lead to Hezbollah Not Israel, Press
OIC and the International Islamic Relief Agency Sign Cooperation Agreement
Saudi Arabia: Woman Files for Divorce for ‘Gitmo’ Name
South Asia
Case Closed on Taleban Bribe Report
Islamists Say Taliban Targeting India
Italy Hails Afghan Run-Off Stance
More Boats Bound for Australia
Pakistan: Arrest of Local Taliban Chief ‘Foiled a Major Terror Plot’
Australia — Pacific
‘Midget’s Cup’: New Australian Political Correctness Row as Officials Slam Bizarre Race
Sub-Saharan Africa
Backers of £3million Prize Rewarding Good Governance in Africa Say They Can’t Find Anyone to Give it to This Year
Boat With 37 Migrants Intercepted in Granada
Finns Shun Immigrant-Heavy Schools
Seoul: Human Rights Activists Protest Expulsion of Migrant Workers
Culture Wars
BBC: Vile Queen Joke Was OK
‘Should We Pass Laws That Would Affect Christian Right?’
How the West Came to Dominate the Whole Wide World?
Press Freedom Index 2009

Financial Crisis

Kuwait: Fewer Immigrants as Recession Bites

Kuwait City, 19 October (AKI) — The number of immigrants in Kuwait has dropped for the first time in nearly 20 years, as the Gulf region feels the impact of global recession, pan-Arab daily Al-Quds al-Arabi reported on Monday, quoting Kuwaiti officials and analysts.

Immigrants living in the tiny emirate, many of whom come from Asia, fell 0.6 percent in 2009 to 2.34 million, compared with almost 2.36 million in 2008, the daily reported, quoting Kuwaiti officials.

A growing number of immigrants had headed to Kuwait over the past 19 years. Regional economic analysts blame the current global recession and rising joblessness for the new trend.

The number of Kuwaiti citizens, on the other hand, has continued to rise and in June this year stood at 3.4 million.

This contrasts with the situation in at the start of the 1990s when the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait drove many residents abroad.

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


Chuck Baldwin: You Might be a Constitutionalist if…

I am absolutely convinced that without a renewed allegiance to constitutional government and State sovereignty, there can be no resolution to America’s current slide into socialism and oppression. Therefore, it is critical that we cast aside our infatuation with partisan politics and steadfastly stand firm for the principles of federalism and freedom, as did America’s founders.

Might you be a modern-day Minuteman who understands the principles of freedom and federalism? I offer the following test. Read it and see if you, too, are a Constitutionalist. (Yes, Martha, this is another Jeff Foxworthy spin-off.)

1. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that every congressman, senator, President, and Supreme Court justice is required to obey the U.S. Constitution.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Congress Moves to Control All U.S. Water

Conservatives are warning Americans about the ambitions of federal lawmakers to control all waters within the United States including those on private property, in the latest power grab by progressive politicians.

According to the American Land Rights Association, the Obama Administration and Congress are attempting to pass the Clean Water Restoration Act of 2009 (S787) that would amend the 1972 Clean Water Act and replace the words “navigable waters” with “waters of the United States.”

“The US Constitution’s Tenth Amendment automatically reserves power for controlling waters to the states, not to the Oval Office and US Congress,” said political strategist Mike Baker.

“This is just one more power grab by out-of-control politicians who only adhere to constitutional law when it suits them,” he added.


After being overuled by the U. S. Supreme Court in two recent decisions that the words “navigable waters” in the Clean Water Act limited federal agencies to regulation of navigable waters only, Democrats and liberal Republicans in Congress are striking back.

They are attempting to pass the Clean Water Restoration Act of 2009 (S 787) that would amend the 1972 Clean Water Act and replace the words “navigable waters” with “waters of the United States.”

“The bill also defines “waters of the United States” with such breathtaking scope that federal agencies would be required to regulate use of every square inch of the U.S., both public and private,” according to the American Land Rights Association.

“Obviously, those behind this legislation have only contempt for the Constitution, limited government and private property rights. To understand what the framers of the Constitution intended, one need only look to their writings and the writings of those from whom they took wisdom and direction,” said officials at ALRA.

“This is a terrible bill that would give the Federal government jurisdiction over anything that is wet including seasonal mud flats. This means that the Feds could enter your property and dictate what you can do with bodies of water on your land,” said political strategist Mike Baker.

“It also means that the Great Lake States and Provinces could not protect the Great Lakes from being pumped dry to feed the growth of California and the Southwest. In that area, Democrat Senator Russ Feingold has sold out his own state: Wisconsin.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

D.C. Muslim Group’s Shocking Al-Qaida Ties

CAIR’s terror connections extend beyond Hamas to Enemy No. 1

In just one of several shocking and previously unreported findings, “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America” details a secret meeting between CAIR’s founding chairman and al-Qaida’s spiritual leader in America — blind Sheik Omar Abdul-Rahman — who is now a convicted terrorist. Al-Qaida’s top leaders have vowed revenge for the federal imprisonment of the Egyptian-born cleric.

CAIR has come under fire in the past for supporting the Blind Sheik, who was convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing investigation. But the group maintains “this is a lie. No evidence substantiating this falsehood has ever been offered.”

However, “Muslim Mafia” — co-authored by former federal agent P. David Gaubatz and investigative journalist Paul Sperry — reveals that around the time the Blind Sheik was plotting to bomb major New York landmarks, he traveled from New York to San Jose, Calif., to meet privately with Omar M. Ahmad, CAIR’s long-time chairman, who is now under active federal investigation.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Does Sharia Law Promote Women’s Rights?

by Cinnamon Stillwell

In thinking about women’s rights, sharia law, or Islamic law, doesn’t typically come to mind.

Yet, according to a survey conducted by Dalia Mogahed, executive director and senior analyst of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies and appointee to President Obama’s Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the two are closely intertwined. Her survey alleges that a majority of Muslim women believe sharia law should either be the primary source or one source of legislation in their countries, while viewing Western personal freedoms as harmful to women.

The survey’s findings appear in the book, Who Speaks for Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think, co-authored by Mogahed and John Esposito, Georgetown University professor and founding director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, named for its Saudi royal benefactor. While Esposito is well-known as one of the foremost academic apologists for radical Islam, Mogahed is making her name as a shill for sharia law. Mogahed employs the Gallup poll, which has been criticized by knowledgeable authorities as misleading and unscientific, to portray sharia law as what Muslims women want.

She spoke last month by phone to the UK-based Islam Channel women’s television program “Muslimah Dilemma.” Hosted by Ibtihal Bsis, a member of the Islamist organization Hizb ut Tahrir (Party of Liberation), and featuring national women’s media representative for Hizb ut Tahrir, Nazreen Nawaz, the interview (view here; complete transcript here) presented a biased, pro-Islamist platform for discussing Muslim women’s rights. Hizb ut Tahrir’s self-described objective is “to resume the Islamic way of life by establishing an Islamic State that executes the systems of Islam and carries its call to the world.”

So it was with ostensible credibility that Mogahed could utter such preposterous statements as…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Illinois: Federal Agents Raid Goat Meat Plant

Authorities Confirm Raid, No One Taken Into Custody

Federal agents conducted a raid Sunday afternoon at a goat meat processing plant near Morris, Illinois. The secretive operation was led by the Chicago FBI office. CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports that on Monday, the Feds are being very tight-lipped on what they found and why they were even there.

Spokesman Ross Rice confirms agents were at 6260 Kinsman Road, in Kinsman, Illinois. The business is called First World Management. Rice would not say why agents were there but said nobody was taken into custody.

The FBI said the raid began Sunday morning and ended in the late afternoon. They were at the plant about nine hours total.

FBI officials told CBS 2 the meat plant was shut down and abandoned. A spokeswoman would not comment on whether the plant was processing goat meat illegally.

According to sources, the plant provides goat, beef and lamb meat which is prepared in the Halal way in accordance with Muslim custom.

The government workers inside First World Management meat packing plant in Kinsman Monday wouldn’t say why they were there or why scores of FBI agents and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were there Sunday.

The trouble is the FBI isn’t saying much about what happened at this rural Grundy County plant. A spokesman confirms that the plant, which has a Muslim prayer room, was raided as part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

Several witnesses reported that the Grundy County Sheriff’s office was involved, as well, saying sheriff dept. vehicles were visible at the scene. The Sheriff’s department denies it was present.

When asked if the raid had something to do with undocumented aliens, the person wouldn’t say. A neighbor suggested that undocumented immigrants live in a trailer behind the facility and work there.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said the agency assisted in the raid, but had no further comment. According to sources, many of the FBI and ICE agents were armed.

Several USDA criminal investigators were on site at the plant on Monday, but they would not comment on the situation.

One man who was talking about the raid was Jim Cavaness. He’s a handyman who occasionally works at the plant where goats, sheep and cows are slaughtered. On Sunday, he witnessed the raid and says he was questioned by FBI agents.

Cavaness says the FBI asked him if he had seen anything unusual at the plant. He says he’s never seen anything unusual, but, he says, judging by the amount of firepower on the scene, the FBI wasn’t just working an immigration case.

“Way too much overkill for immigration,” Cavaness said.

Neighbors who saw the raid on Sunday told CBS 2 it was a huge operation, involving more than 100 agents, police officers and even what one believed to be National Guard troops.

Sources say during the raid, the driveway was filled with more than 50 government vehicles. There was a helicopter flying overhead and a command center set up. On top of it were government sharpshooters with rifles at the ready.

George Jackson III is an attorney hired by one of the plant operators, Dr. Syed Hamid. Jackson and Dr. Hamid spoke briefly while on their way to a meeting with the federal prosecutor Monday.

Jackson says it’s too early to say why there was such a huge show of force at the plant.

“Obviously, it was more than what was needed here, but why they felt the need to come forward with that much manpower allegedly, it’s too early to say,” Jackson said.

Jackson said federal agents confiscated the company’s computers, effectively shutting down the business. Dr. Hamid chose not to weigh in Monday.

“I don’t want to comment at this point,” Dr. Hamid said.

Sources tell CBS 2 there are only six employees at the plant. An FBI spokesman would not confirm that but does say that no one has been charged.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Obama Dragged Into University Race Row After Student is Crowned First White Beauty Queen

A university student has provoked a race storm after she was crowned as the first white winner of a beauty pageant at a predominantly black university..

Nikole Churchill claimed she was subjected to racial abuse after she won the pageant at Hampton University in Virginia.

She was so outraged that she wrote to U.S. President Barack Obama complaining of her treatment, saying: ‘I feel as though you could relate to my situation’.

But the 22-year-old backed down after a public outcry at her complaints, apologising to fellow students and admitting she may have overreacted.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

U.S. Scientist Who Found Water on the Moon Charged With Attempting to Spy for Israel

A scientist who worked on the cutting edge of moon exploration has been caught trying to sell classified secrets to an FBI agent posing as an Israeli intelligence agent, prosecutors say.

Stewart David Nozette, who is credited with helping discover evidence of water on the moon and has been a leader in recent lunar exploration, was arrested yesterday and charged with attempting to communicate, deliver and transmit classified information, the Justice Department said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

U.S. Sponsors Plan to Restrict Free Speech

Joins Egyptians in proposal to United Nations Human Rights Council

A proposal sponsored by the Obama administration at the United Nations that purports to seek protection for “freedom of opinion and expression” actually is a call for a worldwide crackdown on freedom of speech and a mandate for nations to ensure “that relevant national legislation complies with … international human rights obligations” — a clear threat to the First Amendment, according to critics.

The resolution was submitted recently by the United States and Egypt. It was approved by the U.N. Human Rights Council as a first step in its process through the international organization.

It demands that all nations condemn and criminalize “any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.”

Steven Groves of the Heritage Foundation told WND the issue is not about free speech at all but about installing international precedents to stifle any criticism of Islam.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

US Airways, Others Settle Lawsuit Filed by Muslim Clerics

A settlement has been reached in a federal lawsuit filed by six Muslim clerics against US Airways and other parties after they were removed from a flight between Minneapolis and Phoenix in 2006.

The imams sued US Airways, the FBI and Minnneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Other passengers on the flight had expressed concerned about their behavior, which included asking for seat belt extenders, sitting in seats to which they were not assigned, and saying prayers and having discussions in Arabic.

The clerics were removed from the aircraft, questioned and then released without charges.

The imams filed suit in 2007 in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, claiming they were unlawfully detained. Details of the settlement were not released, but will be presented to the federal court judge who let the case proceed.

“Law enforcement officials did what they believed was appropriate to ensure the safety of travelers based on the information available at the time,” said Tom Anderson, general counsel for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in a statement. “We will continue to be vigilant in maintaining the security of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and the safety of travelers who use it.”

Tempe-based US Airways Group Inc. did not comment on the settlement.

           — Hat tip: Paul Green[Return to headlines]


Libya-Canada: Minister Cannon in Tripoli to Renew Relations

(ANSAmed) — TRIPOLI, OCTOBER 20 — Canada’s Foreign Minister, Lawrence Cannon, arrived yesterday in Tripoli with his staff as a part of his mission to Libya to discuss “relations with Libya in all sectors”, according to what was reported today by Jana. Cannon’s visit is a part of a larger mission dedicated to the Maghreb and Middle East, which will take the minister in the days to come to Israel and Saudi Arabia. The objectives of the mission, explained an official statement from the Canadian ministry, are to “strengthen bilateral relations with these countries and discuss the primary regional issues of mutual interest such as Iran, Afghanistan and the peace process in the Middle East”. The visit of the Canadian Foreign Minister to Libya is the first after the “diplomatic crisis” last September when Muammar Gaddafi, Libya’s leader, decided to annul his scheduled stop in Canada on September 29. His plane had to land at St. John’s, Newfoundland, for refuelling and supplies, and the Colonel reportedly passed the evening in the city. The Canadian Premier, Harper, asked Cannon to officially protest at the moment of landing due to Canadian disappointment over the welcoming in Libya of the Lockerbie terrorist. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Audio: ‘Green-Jobs’ Disaster Grips Germany

Think-tank study: Little benefit to economy, environment despite large expenditures

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Berlusconi: Never Made a Gaffe, All Invented by the Newspapers

(AGI) — Rome, 10 Oct. — “I have never made a gaffe, not even once,” said Italian Premier, Silvio Berlusconi, while speaking to CNN. “Every gaffe was an invention by the newspapers,” he said. The statement was reported by CNN on its website, in anticipation of an interview to be broadcast on ‘Revealed’, which will be aired on Wednesday at 8:30 local time and will be replayed at 4:30PM.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Denmark: Shooting Targets Hells Angels

Bullets rain into a restaurant in an upscale Copenhagen neighbourhood as a Hells Angels member is shot

An apparent assassination attempt on leading Hells Angels’ member Brian Sandberg as he ate in a restaurant in Hellerup, Copenhagen, has resulted in another member of the gang being shot.

Sandberg and five other gang members were sitting at a table in a sushi restaurant in Hellerup last night when an unknown assailant fired about seven shots at the group.

Dennis Brodthagen, a member of the Hells Angels club in Østerbro, was hit by a bullet behind the ear and had his jaw damaged. The 36-year-old was rushed to Rigshospitalet and is reportedly in a stable condition.

None of the restaurant’s 15 other patrons were injured in the attack.

The shooter escaped the scene and a vehicle was found burnt out in Nørrebro, Copenhagen, about an hour later.

Sandberg lives near the restaurant in the exclusive neighbourhood, which is home to some of Denmark’s wealthiest families.

It is not the first time an attempt has been made on his life. Most recently in January, Sandberg was shot at close range while sitting in a city centre juice bar. The thick glass fronted façade and his heavy jacket were said to have saved his life.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

EU: Ireland Says ‘Yes’ To the New World Order

On the “Yes” side was the entire power elite of Ireland and the EU — virtually all government employees and the Irish Parliament, the entire Irish media, trade unions, the banking and financial community, the Irish bishops, and a slew of multinational corporations. EU critic and columnist Christopher Booker reports that the European Commission poured €1.5 million [$2.2 million] into an “unprecedented advertising blitz,” while EU Commission President Jose-Manuel Barroso (of Portugal), and an assortment of MEPs and officials “have been flooding in to promote the cause.”

Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce got involved, issuing a dire warning that a No would cost Ireland some 300,000 jobs.


The treaty’s been sold to the public as a necessary means of “streamlining decision-making” within the European Union, but the media have chosen to ignore or given only a few specifics about the pending provisions, particularly the expansion and centralizing of police powers. Treaty promoters have made much of the negotiations with Ireland regarding the treaty, implying that all concerns were swept away — that the negotiators had “listened” to what the people said. But a recent study by Open Europe — titled “How the Irish Government Lost in the Negotiations”— reports that of the 149 amendments Ireland proposed to the text, only 36 resulted in changes to the treaty, while 113 were rejected — a success rate of just 24 percent.


The report details the 25 most important rejected amendments, and these cover a range of changes. For instance:

Appointment of a permanent EU President.

Loss of the national veto in key policy areas. The treaty scraps the national veto that allows countries to block EU-wide measures in 60 areas of policy seen as not in their national interest, handing over to the EU the power to make laws regarding public services, jurisprudence, law enforcement, immigration, energy, transportation, tourism, sports, culture, public health, the EU budget, climate change, and so on.

Creation of a European Public Prosecutor.

Neutrality and “Obscene Militarization” of the EU: Catherine Connally, a barrister and Galway city councilor, actively campaigned for a No vote particularly because of the set of new obligations for increased military development and participation.

“Most frightening of all … is the obscene militarization of the EU,” Connally wrote in a statement for the BBC. “Indeed the 20-plus pages setting out our binding obligations are significantly the clearest part of the treaty.”


Return of the Death Penalty: This issue has generated a great deal of interest among EU critics. European nations have abolished capital punishment, but the Lisbon Treaty brings it back through the back door by way of some small print — not for crimes against individuals, such as homicide, but for insurrection and rioting against the state.


Schachtschneider: “The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in its ‘explanations’ and ‘negative definitions’ accompanying the fundamental rights, allows a reintroduction of the death penalty in case of war or imminent war, but also the killing of humans to suppress insurgency or riot. This is in contradiction to the abolishment of the death penalty in Germany (Article 102 of the German Constitution), in Austria and elsewhere which results from the principle of dignity. …

Q: Can you imagine one reason why anything like this is passed?

K.S. Obviously, the governments expect riots. Skepticism towards the governments and the EU apparatus is growing and growing. The financial and economic crisis increases the pressure on the population.

Q: So they want to be allowed to shoot them?

K.S. This is what it looks like.

[Comments from JD: See article for link to the Open Europe study titled “How the Irish Government Lost in the Negotiations”.]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Italy, Election: PDL Denies News of Piedmont Going to Northern League

(AGI) — Rome, 19 Oct. — Nothing has been decided yet regarding who will be the centre-right wing candidate for the Piedmont regional presidency, said PdL coordinators in a statement. “The national organisers of the PdL Party deny all news regarding a definitive decision on a candidate for the regional elections and specifically the newspaper article which states that ‘Berlusconi has also given Piedmont to the Northern League”.

“The choice of candidates,” it was assured in a statement, “will be decided according to statutes which state that only after the evaluation by the president, in agreement with the office of the presidency, after the preliminary work carried out by the national coordinators in collaboration with their regional party coordinators.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: State-Mafia Contacts Spark Polemics

Justice minister vows to ascertain the truth

(ANSA) — Rome, October 19 — Reports that negotiations existed between the State and the Mafia in 1992 continued to spark political polemics in Italy on Monday.

The negotiations apparently started in the weeks between the murders of anti-mafia crusading judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, who were killed by bombs set by Cosa Nostra in Sicily.

The State-Mafia contacts recently leapt into the public spotlight after Massimo Ciancimino, son of former mayor and reputed mafioso Vito Ciancimino, gave prosecutors in Palermo a copy of the conditions Cosa Nostra gave the state for suspending its bloody offensive.

While some politicians have called the 12-point ‘wish list’ a fake, including ex-Lower House speaker Luciano Violante, others have confirmed that a line of communication was opened with the Cosa Nostra bosses Salvatore Riina and Bernardo Provenzano through Vito Ciancimino and two officials from the Carabinieri ROS special branch, Mario Mori and Giuseppe Di Donno.

Massimo Ciancimino on Monday continued his testimony before prosecutors here and is said to have given investigators other documents which belonged to his late father.

In reply to Violante’s accusation that the list he delivered was a fake, Ciancimino told the press “I don’t want to get into something which is up to the magistrates to decide. However, what is really disturbing is that there are people who only now remember things of 17 years ago”.

The son of the ex-Palermo mayor was apparently referring to Violante who only this year remembered that Vito Ciancimino, through Mori, had asked to meet with him.

Violante, a former judge and ex-MP for the center-left, at the time was head of parliament bicameral Anti-Mafia Commission.


Justice Minister Angelino Alfano on Monday said that while he could say nothing on the authenticity of the documents produced by Ciancimino, “I have full faith in the magistrates to ascertain the truth” Among those who have confirmed that a line of communication existed between the State and Cosa Nostra are Claudio Martelli, justice minister at the time; Liliana Ferrero, who took Falcone’s place at the justice ministry after his murder; and, most recently, Italy’s top Anti-Mafia Prosecutor Piero Grasso, who along with Falcone was part of Martelli’s team at the justice ministry.

In an interview published Sunday by the Turin daily La Stampa, Grasso said that negotiations were successful in avoiding the murders of a number of top Italian politicians, including, Martelli, seven-time premier Giulio Andreotti, Carlo Vizzini and Calogero Mannino.

According to Grasso, there was documented evidence that at the time Cosa Nostra had sought to negotiate with the State, that Mori and Di Donno had been in contact with Vito Ciancimino and that Riina and Provenzano had been promised certain benefits and preferred treatment if they turned themselves in.

He added that Borsellino’s murder would appear to have been an attempt by Cosa Nostra to get more out of the negotiations.

Grasso also said that a list of demands similar to those produced by Massimo Ciancimino had been delivered to Mori and Di Donno.

The interview shocked Borsellino’s brother Salvatore who on Monday asked: “How is it possible that such a high-ranking magistrate only now talks about negotiations between the State and the Mafia. And why are all the rest from Martelli to Ferraro to Violante — only talking now. Everyone knew but no one said anything before”.

In regard to the possibility that his brother was killed as a bargaining chip in the negotiations, Borsellino said “the idea that my brother was a sacrificial lamb in negotiations between the state and the Mafia to save the lives of politicians shocks me”.

“I ask myself why these institutional figures are only talking now, 17 years after the fact. Is it because prosecutors in Palermo and Caltanissetta are getting close to the truth? Those who knew anything had the duty to speak out years ago. This was a moral duty which transcends justice,” he added.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: ENEL’s Plan for Four Nuclear Reactors

Three sites could be selected for nuclear installations

FLAMANVILLE — Four sites were involved in the first Italian nuclear programme in the 1960s: Caorso, Garigliano, Latina and Trino Vercellese. But how many reactor sites will there be for the Berlusconi government’s nuclear renaissance? It is still too early to say but a glance at the plans of Sviluppo Nucleare Italia, the new ENEL-EDF joint venture which is drafting feasibility studies, suggests that there could be at least three to start with. For the time being, we can only conjecture about the three sites — ENEL staff at the Flamanville plant construction site say there may be two — which will host four 1,650 megawatt EPR reactors, similar to the one the French are building opposite the Channel Islands. It should be noted that this represents only half of the full Italian atomic programme, which should by 2020 account for at least 25% of the country’s electricity output. A second consortium could take come in to reach the estimated total of 13,000 megawatts and there are rumours of interest from ENI, as well as from Germany’s E.on. This means the number of sites required could rise.

Will there be four? Or six? For the time being, we can only speculate. There are many hoops still to be jumped through, none of them avoidable. To start with, there is the earthquake risk of possible sites, which also have to be sufficiently distant from residential areas. Crucially, agreement needs to be obtained from local residents, territories and local bodies, such as regional authorities. Enough water has to be available to cool the plants and the electricity grid has to be robust enough to take considerable loads. The last two criteria on their own are enough to rule out many areas, and in all likelihood the islands. Not many areas are capable of absorbing energy from high-powered generating plants that operate round the clock. We shall see what happens.

The path to the sale of the first kilowatt in 2020 starts with the government’s implementation decrees and the inception of the nuclear agency by the end of next February. Only when the agency is fully operational will the site selection procedure get into full swing, which is likely to be some time in the second half of next year, when suitable macro-areas will be identified. According to ENEL, it will then be up to each operator to nominate specific territories and apply for appropriate authorisation. In theory, if the areas selected are state property, there could also be UK-style auctions. The aim, however, is thought to involve moving the first cubic metre of soil before the end of 2013 — and the end of the current legislature — as requested by the government. Concrete for the nuclear island should be laid in mid 2015 and from 2020, the scheduled nuclear reactors will come onstream at a rate of one every 18 months.

English translation by Giles Watson


           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Suicide Bomber Read Verses Before Attack

MILAN — A small green-painted door opens onto the balcony. Inside, an old sofa stands against one wall. Resting on the cushions was a Koran open at the Cow Surah, the verses that suicide bombers read before they go out to blow themselves up. The book was the last trace left by Mohamed Game in his lair, a third-floor flat in a block in Via Gulli. Just after seven o’clock last Monday morning, Game prayed before the open pages. Then he picked up his explosives-packed toolbox and left. He went down three floors of stairs to the street, turned left and went on his way. At a normal pace, it would have taken him just over five minutes to reach the nearby barracks in Piazzale Perrucchetti, at the end of the street. Seven hundred and fifty metres separated Game from martyrdom. It has been a week since the attack on the Santa Barbara barracks in Milan.

The terrorists’ lair was discovered at 11 pm on Monday evening, 15 hours after the explosion. Since then, it has been the focus of investigations by the DIGOS special branch and ROS special operations group. The apartment has a double door. The first has an iron frame and leads to a small balcony, onto which the front door opens. Inside, the first room serves an entrance and living room. This is where Game and his accomplices spent days, and perhaps weeks, “cooking” the explosive. The kitchen is in the corner on the left with gas rings, a sink, cupboards and drawers. There were pots and pans on the worktop and on the table in the middle of the room. Large and small containers were scattered over the floor and other surfaces, along with bottles and flasks of chemicals, including nail-polish remover and cosmetics. Anyone can buy them in a supermarket or ironmonger’s but a fundamentalist cell could use them as reagents or ingredients to cook their explosive “jam”. Game and his accomplices did their jam making in the kitchen and bathroom, where investigators found another large pot in the tub. You can get an idea of the lair’s layout by going up to the fourth floor in Via Gulli because the flat above is identical in plan. Now abandoned and minus its door, it is open to anyone who wants to brave the rubbish and old clothes on the floor. Apart from the living room, there is another room with a small balcony overlooking the street. On the left is the bathroom door. As investigators explain, the flat was “at the disposal of” Mamhoud Kol, the Egyptian plumber now in jail on charges of being Game’s accomplice. With each passing day, Kol looks to be an increasingly crucial figure in the story. The question arises as to how an immigrant with ten children, living in a squat, could leave a flat at the cell’s disposal. Kol, who remained silent during questioning by magistrates, was one of Game’s neighbours. The two men lived in separate social housing blocks looking onto the same courtyard. Over the past few days, two of the tenants have described aspects of the men’s acquaintance. “They had been seeing a lot of each other in the past few months. They’d chatter away in the garden or go out”.

One detail that today seems important, because it is one of the fundamental questions that investigators will have to answer, is: who convinced Game to be a martyr? Until six months ago, the Perrucchetti barracks suicide bomber wasn’t even particularly religious. But then financial difficulties and serious health problems generated a deep sense of frustration. One web-based jihad manual explains: “If you know any young people — whether one, two, or more — in your area, mosque or university who are as dedicated and enthusiastic about jihad as you are, … together form a cell”. Two days ago, Game, one of the younger members of the group, celebrated his 35th birthday in a hospital bed. Kol is 52. It is not known when the Egyptian plumber last visited “his” flat in the kasbah-like block in Via Gulli, nor is it known how many men visited, or were supposed to visit, the flat. Nonetheless, the fridge contained enough groceries to feed several people for days. Then there was the stock of explosives. Forty kilograms of fertiliser, the same ammonium nitrate used for Game’s bomb, stood in one corner of the kitchen. Finally, there was another toolbox, identical to the one used by Mohamed Game. On 12 October, the suicide bomber got up at half past six, recited the dawn prayer and performed his ablutions while his wife and four children were still asleep. He left Via Civitali at about seven and walked the 900 or so metres to the lair, where he collected the explosive device. By 7.35 am, he was outside the barracks. He waited until two soldiers in a Fiat Punto drove in and slipped through the gateway with them. Two guards blocked him. Game then bent over and triggered the device, which exploded, blowing his hand off and both his eyes out. The 113 emergency service received the first call at 7.41 am.

English translation by Giles Watson


           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Protests Over Threat to Toads From 62 Million-Euro Road

Asti’s expensive by-pass. Communist Refoundation protests at threat to amphibian’s habitat

ROME — Three hundred and seventy five million eight hundred and twenty three thousand two hundred and fifty euros. That’s enough money to buy three hundred luxury carriages for commuter trains. Or restructure all the damaged university buildings in L’Aquila, pay the students’ fees for a year and purchase 3,000 wooden homes for the earthquake victims. Instead, all that money will be spent on one road, a short by-pass south west of Asti. The strip of asphalt only 5,329 metres long, including 2,848 metres of links and junctions to hook it up with existing roads, will cost more than 60 million euros a kilometre. Sixty two point two million, to be precise. It will run along a viaduct and then underground. Just think how much money is needed.

If it’s not the most expensive road in the world, it must come close. In comparison, the Variante di Valico stretch, almost all of which runs through a tunnel, cost 52 million euros a kilometre. The new by-pass is probably the most expensive stretch of road ever constructed in Italy, where it costs an average of 32 million euros to build a kilometre of motorway, compared with 14.6 million in Spain. Strictly speaking, the south west by-pass at Asti is not even a proper motorway as one third of the project will only have one lane in each direction. But in a country where despite all the promises, very few infrastructure projects ever come to fruition, it would be money well spent (if the huge sum could be justified). Some claim, however, that the planned road is utterly pointless, and a local committee has been campaigning against it for years. Some Piedmont regional councillors agree — for example, Angela Motta of regional president Mercedes Bresso’s Democratic Party — and are set to go into action when the regional authority rules in a few days’ time. Far from being dispirited at the region’s expected approval, which will dash any remaining hopes, the protesters are digging in for a fight. On 22 September, Paola Barassi and Alberto Deambrogio, two Communist Refoundation councillors, tabled a motion opposing the preliminary project filed by the ANAS road network management company in August. One of their complaints concerns the threat to a “special, rare species of toad found only in two areas of Piedmont”. Pelobates fuscus insubricus survived flooding in 1994 but its natural habitat is claimed to be seriously at risk from the new road.

It should be added that the amphibian would have run the same risk half a century ago, when the by-pass was first mooted and there was no pro-toad party. Landowners received the first compulsory purchase orders from the Asti municipal authority in 1960, but then things ground to a halt until 1974 when the by-pass appeared in the town’s development plan. Initially, it was going to skirt the back gardens of city centre residents but as more and more of the territory was built up, the route was shifted further and further out. Meanwhile, costs mushroomed as the 1994 floods adding the final touch by inspiring a viaduct over one kilometre long. Needless to say, this was all exclusively on paper because no one really believed that the by-pass would ever be built. Too much money, too much time, too many problems. In the meantime, the pro-toad party had appeared and toad lovers were rubbing their hands. They had failed, however, to reckon with the Asti-Cuneo motorway and provincial authority chair Roberto Marmo of Forza Italia, who persuaded ANAS to build the by-pass to link the Asti-Cuneo and Turin-Piacenza motorways at the Asti Ovest junction. Both motorways are managed by private companies controlled by the influential Marcellino Gavio. Lavish plans for a six-lane motorway were duly forthcoming.

But then in 2002, the new Centre-left mayor, Vittorio Voglino, blocked the project at the end of an election campaign in which four of the five candidates, the exception being Forza Italia, had promised not to build the by-pass. The reason was that another existing road could be used to link the two motorways at the Asti Est junction, a solution regarded as easier and more rational. ANAS would, however, have to widen the road. What could be done to compensate the local and provincial authorities? Easy. Build the by-pass using another project. This time Marmo and Voglino were in agreement. The project may have been less ambitious but it was apparently just as expensive. What about the money? No problem. There’s a special law for infrastructure finance. Opponents protested in vain that no study of traffic flow had ever been made: no one could say how many cars would use the road. The committee also tried to raise other points about the operation. For example, there is the fact that the Gavio group’s Autostrada Asti-Cuneo company, which holds the licence for the by-pass, is 35% owned by ANAS, which grants the licence. There is also the matter of the project’s being assigned to Sina SpA, another Gavio group company whose CEO is Agostino Spoglianti, who also happens to be the chairman of the Asti-Cuneo company.

English translation by Giles Watson


           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Cicciolina Sues Sky Over Moana Film

TV flick breaches copyright, ex-porn star claims

(ANSA) — Rome, October 20 — Ex-porn star Ilona Staller, former wife of top US sculptor Jeff Koons, is suing Sky Italia for breach of copyright in allegedly using her memoirs in its new TV film on the late porno diva Moana Pozzi.

Staller’s lawyer and companion Luca Di Carlo claimed Tuesday Sky had used details from two autobiographical books by the Hungarian-born Staller, 57.

“What’s more, they never contacted us to verify the parts of the film involving Cicciolina,” Di Carlo said.

The suit also argues that Staller’s stage name and ‘cuddly doll’ persona is protected by copyright at the Italian patents office.

At the beginning of the 1980s, established star Staller and up-and-coming Pozzi were friends and companions in porn impresario Riccardo Schicchi’s stable and made several films together.

Cicciolina gained prominence outside the porn world with a foray into politics.

She also made headlines by her affair and subsequent short-lived marriage to Koons, who made big-selling portraits and sculptures of the couple making love.

But despite Steller’s publicity stunts Pozzi supplanted her at the pinnacle of the porn world and in the wider public imagination.

The Sky film, entitled Moana, shows how Pozzi emerged from a strict Catholic background to become a porn legend, a reputed lover of politicians, actors and soccer players, and an icon to many before dying of cancer aged 33 in 1994.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Anger Over Muslim Lessons Proposal

Idea of Islamic classes at school for Muslim kids criticized

(ANSA) — Rome, October 19 — A proposal to offer Muslim students the option of Islamic classes at school continued to provoke strong reactions on Monday. The suggestion, which envisioned optional classes similar to those already available to Catholic students, has sparked heated debate since Economic Development Undersecretary Adolfo Urso raised the idea on Saturday. The Catholic Church has voiced concern over the proposal, which has also triggered outrage among sections of the centre-right governing coalition.

The Northern League, which has traditionally opposed immigration, has been particularly resistant to the idea. On Monday, Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, a key figure in the League, said his party was “absolutely opposed to the idea”, which he said would not improve integration.

Highlighting the differences between Catholicism and Islam, he said the former reflected a hierarchy with precise values, while the latter depended on the views of individual imams, who “interpret the Koran freely”. The League Senate whip Federico Bricolo said his party would “never allow it”.

“We will defend our Christian roots in every way possible,” he added.

Roberto Cota, who heads the League’s Piedmont chapter, described the idea as “absolutely absurd”. But members of Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party were split over the proposal. Figures from the now defunct National Alliance (AN) party, which was merged into the PdL earlier this year, were more open to the proposal than members of the PdL’s former incarnation as Forza Italia. PdL spokesman Daniele Capezzone, an ex-Forza Italia figure, said Italy had other priorities with respect to Islam. “First, there should be an end to the burqa and veils, which offend women’s dignity, and an end to violent imams who foment hatred,” he said. “Furthermore, Italian, not Arabic, should be spoken in mosques”.

However, European Policy Minister Andrea Ronchi, a former AN member, said the idea was one that should be taken into consideration. He said it would be overly complex to introduce the proposal at the current time but said it would be foolish to dismiss it, pointing to the growing number of kids with foreign parents. Former AN leader Gianfranco Fini, who has been increasingly at loggerheads with the premier over policy issues in recent months, has also spoken out in favour of the idea, which he said would “promote social cohesion”. “Closing one’s eyes to reality is short-sighted,” he added. Opposition MPs have similarly welcomed the idea.

Former premier and foreign minister Massimo D’Alema, a leading figure in the largest opposition grouping, the Democratic Party, said he backed the proposal.

“An hour’s religious teaching is a right,” he said, underscoring that students who don’t want to take Catholic lessons can opt out. “But I don’t see why Muslim children should be prevented from alternative teaching relating to their religion, which would effectively just be expanding a principle already in existence”. The leader of the small, independent Italy of Values party, Antonio Di Pietro, said different religions should be taught in schools. “I am Catholic and I would always want the chance to profess my faith,” he said on Monday. “This same right should be guaranteed to everyone, including those of different religions”.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church has focused on the special relationship between Italy and the Vatican, pointing to the Lateran Pact, which is the basis for optional Catholic classes in school.

The 1929 Lateran Pact and its 1984 revision governs relations between Italy and the Holy See. “The hour of Catholic teaching in state schools is justified on the basis of Article 9 of the agreement, as Catholicism is a fundamental part of Italian history and Italian culture,” said the President of the Italian Bishops Council (CEI) Angelo Bagnasco in an interview published Sunday. The head of the CEI’s Legal Affairs Committee, Domenico Mogavero, said the proposal was “interesting and provocative” but stressed there would first have to be a “special agreement” between the state and Italy’s Muslim communities. Italian law enshrines a strict separation of church and state but children in public schools are entitled to one hour of teaching on Catholicism each week as a result of the Lateran Pact. Children who opt out of the class are provided with alternatives, such as civic studies lessons.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: “Street Lawyers” Help Homeless

(ANSAmed) — ROME, OCTOBER 19 — The results of the first year of aid for the homeless in the health system by the non-profit organisation ““Avvocato di strada” (Street Lawyers) were presented at the San Gallicano hospital in Rome on October 16. One hundred and forty one people used the services of the Rome aid station which opened on October 17, 2008 to offer information and free legal aid to the homeless. Antonio Piqué, the coordinator of the Rome “Avvocato di Strada” service said that there were people from 41 nationalities including many north Africans and that the work done by the intercultural mediator Danuta Gaszowska was fundamental. “Without a lawyer’s help”, Antonio Mumolo, president of the association, told ANSAmed, “it is hard to get off the streets. For example, among those without a fixed address there are many who have the right to a pension but they don’t get it and so can’t even reach the minimum income needed to get public housing”. The “Avvocato di strada” association was founded in Bologna in 1994 as the “Amici di Piazza Grande” (Friends of the Large Plaza) and has been the non-profit organization “Avvocato di strada” since 2007. There are currently 650 “street lawyers” in Italy. During the conference a new service was presented by the National Institute to Promote Health in Migrant Populations to fight diseases linked to poverty (INMP) to shelter and cure the homeless. The service, with professional anthropologists, psychologists, doctors, nurses and trans-cultural mediators, continues the work carried out by the Preventive Medicine department at the San Gallicano hospital which has been helping 40% of the homeless population in the capital for more than thirty years. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Safeguards for PM Damages Judge

Top judicial body to shield Mondadori case official

(ANSA) — Rome, October 20 — The Italian judiciary is to safeguard a judge criticised for awarding huge damages to a former business rival of Premier Silvio Berlusconi.

The judiciary’s self-governing body, the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM), on Tuesday voted unanimously to take action in defence of Milan civil court judge Raimondo Mesiano. The CSM is expected to detail its formal moves in a plenary session Wednesday to protect Mesiano’s status and dignity, judicial sources said.

Mesiano, 57, has been accused of bias and subversion by Berlusconi allies, blasted by Berlusconi papers and secretly taped and lampooned by one of the premier’s three TV channels.

The premier called the 750-million-euro award over the 1990 takeover of publishing group Mondadori “a juridical enormity”. The Senate and House caucus leaders of Berlusconi’s centre-right People of Freedom Party spoke of a “subversive plot”.

Mesiano made the award to financier Carlo De Benedetti, publisher of anti-Berlusconi daily La Repubblica, on the basis of a criminal ruling that found a judge was bribed to decide in favour of the Berlusconi family holding company Fininvest.

Mondadori, Italy’s largest publishing company, is one of several media companies controlled by the Berlusconi family including Italy’s three largest private TV stations and Italy’s top-selling rightwing daily Il Giornale.

Mesiano’s ruling was attacked not only because of the size of the damages but also because it came a few days before the premier was stripped of immunity from criminal prosecution when the Constitutional Court overturned an immunity law passed by his government after it came to power last year.

Berlusconi supporters also said Mesiano’s almost immediate promotion to the highest ranks of the judiciary was suspiciously timed.

A morning news show on the premier’s flagship channel poked fun at the judge and his allegedly unusual dress sense last week.

After the news station’s internal union protested the video and one member resigned, the author of the unflattering video apologised and asked Mesiano onto the show.

Nonetheless, the Italian Magistrates Association on Tuesday called the TV attack “intimidatory” and “very serious”.

Italian opposition politicians showed solidarity with the judge by wearing turquoise socks of the kind the video highlighted.

Mesiano was on Tuesday for the first time assigned an official car to take him to and from court, instead of using public transport.

Berlusconi has appealed the Mondadori sentence.

Meanwhile, he has reacted to the verdict from the Constitutional Court by reiterating claims of bias and persecution.

The premier, who says he is “the most persecuted man in world history,” has relaunched justice reforms which the judiciary claim are aimed at reining in prosecutors but which the government says would only put the prosecution and defence on an equal footing as in other countries.

The Constitutional Court ruling reopened trials for corruption and fraud but they may expire before a sentence can be reached.

Berlusconi has been convicted four times in 15 trials but the convictions have been overturned because of the statute of limitations or law changes introduced by his government.

He has always denied wrongdoing.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: The Day the Last Moroccan Leaves

MUNT, a group of Dutch-Moroccans, prepared a short internet movie titled “Kop of Munt” (Heads or Tails) about the day the last Moroccan leaves the Netherlands. The movie is featured on their site and is intended to show that Moroccan-Dutch form an integral part of Dutch society and that most Dutch don’t participate in the hysteria regarding ‘Moroccans’.

The group says they think it’s necessary to approach important social issues without hysterics or panic.

The movie is based mostly on visuals (bored social services agents, no buses) and newspaper headlines (‘sharp drop in small businesses’).

The site also polls visitors on whether they would like to see Moroccans leave the Netherlands. According to De Telegraaf, about 75% so far answered that they ‘can’t wait’, and just 20% think that Moroccans belong in the Netherlands.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Pope Opens Door to Anglicans

Married priests will not be allowed to become bishops

(ANSA) — Vatican City, October 20 — Pope Benedict XVI has created a new provision which will allow dissident Anglicans to join the Catholic Church while maintaining their traditional liturgy and identity.

A statement from the Vatican press office said on Tuesday that with the new Apostolic Constitution the pope “has introduced a canonical structure which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony”.

This is said to include allowing married clergy, although they will not be eligible to become bishops, and permitting the Anglicans to answer to their own bishops and not the ones of their relative dioceses.

The only other group in the Catholic Church which has this latter privilege is the Opus Dei organization.

The first expected to take advantage of the door opened by Benedict are the some 500,000 members of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), a conservative group which broke away in 1991 over such issues as women in the priesthood, liturgical revisions, the acceptance of homosexuality and the importance of tradition.

The Anglican Church is actually an international association of national Anglican Churches, known as the Anglican Communion, which counts some 77 million members.


The pope’s decision to make it easier for Anglicans to enter the Roman Catholic Church has been welcomed by both the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head of the Anglican Church of England, and the Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, the Catholic primate in Britain. In a joint statement issued on Tuesday, the Anglican and Catholic officials said the new arrangement announced by Benedict “brings an end to a period of uncertainty for those groups which held hopes for new ways to achieve unity with the Roman Catholic Church. It is now up to those who have advanced such a request to answer to the Apostolic Constitution”. The new provision, they added, “is Pope Benedict’s response to a series of requests advanced in recent years by groups of Anglicans who sought to be part of a more visible communion with the Roman Catholic Church and are ready to declare that they share a common Catholic faith”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Slovenia: 12% Live Below Poverty Line

(ANSAmed) — LJUBLJUANA, OCTOBER 19 — In 2008 12.3% of Slovenians lived below the poverty line, almost one percent more than the previous year, according to data from research on the standard of living in Slovenia carried out by the National Statistical Institute and published today in the Ljubljana press. A single person in Slovenia needs at least 545 euros per month to cover minimum expenses, 50 euros more than 2007, and a household of four needs at least 1,155 euros to be classified as above the poverty line. The poorest sector is the unemployed, but a high level of poverty was also registered among elderly women and people in rented accommodation, given the high cost of rent. Only 3.6% of people in work were below the poverty line. If so-called social income is excluded from annual incomes (help from the family or welfare support) the percentage of the population below the poverty line would be almost double, 23% of the total population and 33% of the elderly population. A further increase in poor families is expected in 2009, due to the crisis and a sharp rise in unemployment. The minimum net wage in Slovenia is 431 euros, while the average was 920 euros. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: 50:000 Protest in Santiago for Galician Language

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, OCTOBER 19 — Police report that over 50,000 people took part in the pro-Galician march yesterday in Santiago de Compostela, called by the ‘Queremo Gallego’ platform (“We Want Galician”) against the linguistic policies of the regional council governed by the Popular Party. Taking part in the protest were the Galician Nationalist Bloc and the Socialist Party, with Justice Minister Francisco Caamaño in the lead. The march began at 12.20 from the Alameda square, to then snake through the streets of the old city centre and end in the Quintana square, where a manifesto was read in favour of the Galician language, to claim the “right to live in Galician” and bilingualism, against the regional council which “does not respect the autonomy statute of the region”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Sweden Democrat Leader Reported for ‘Hate Speech’

An opinion piece by Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson in which he labels Muslims a major threat has been reported to Sweden’s highest legal official by the Centre Against Racism (Centrum Mot Rasism).

Sweden Democrat leader joins white power singsong (6 Apr 09)

The anti-racism organization called on the Chancellor of Justice (Justitiekanslern — JK) to examine whether claims made by the head of the far-right party were tantamount to agitation against an ethnic group (hets mot folkgrup).

Åkesson’s article, published in Aftonbladet on Monday, has provoked a furious reaction following the Sweden Democrat chief’s assertion that the spread of Islam represents the country’s “greatest external threat since World War II”.

“We are of the view that the article agitates against Muslims when it points at Islam as the greatest threat to Sweden,” said Mariam Osman Sherifay, head of the organization and Social Democrat politician, to the TT news agency.

Osman Sherifay was also highly critical of Aftonbladet’s decision to print the article, a move she said was out of step with established journalistic standards.

“The newspaper is giving the Sweden Democrats space that they don’t deserve. The fact that they’re racists is not news. Aftonbladet could instead have examined the party’s views,” she said.

Osman Sherifay’s political rivals, the conservative Christian Democrats — currently the smallest of the four parties in the governing centre-right coalition — were also quick to shoot down Åkesson’s comments.

“My understanding of media reports from the weekend’s Sweden Democrat conference was that they wanted to broaden the party and show that they have more strings to their bow than just xenophobia,” said party leader Göran Hägglund in a written comment to The Local.

“But when they formulate this opinion piece all we get once again are sweeping accusations portraying an ethnic group as a threat, all of which is based on facts that are dubious to say the very least.”

Tempers have flared between the two parties in recent months as the battle heats up for the conservative vote. A number of opinion polls have indicated that the Sweden Democrats are closing in on the four percent threshold necessary for representation in the Riksdag as the Christian Democrats struggle to keep their heads above water.

Relations between the two reached perhaps their lowest ebb during the summer when the Christian Democrat leader accused the Sweden Democrats of failing to shake off their Nazi past. But this didn’t stop Åkesson from weighing in recently on Hägglund’s side as the latter slammed Sweden’s “cultural elite” for their purported antipathy towards “regular people”.

But Hägglund, who has called on the established parties to tackle the Sweden Democrats head on, was keen to reiterate his view that the Christian Democrats have little in common with their challengers from the far-right.

“Theirs is a viewpoint that places the value of human life on a scale. Some are worth more than others. The way their party views human life is light years away from both my own view and that of my party,” he said.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

UK: CSI: McDonald’s

A SCHOOLBOY was forced by police to give a DNA sample — for chucking McDonald’s ketchup.

Zach Cameron, 15 — a twice-weekly bible student — lobbed the tiny pot of sauce at a girl diner for making “nasty” comments when he took the daughter of his pastor for a burger.

His 14-year-old “victim” complained to cops that it got in her hair — and days later Zach was summoned to a police station where he was also fingerprinted.

Shocked Zach said yesterday: “It was crazy. I know I should not have thrown the sauce but it was only a tiny bit.” His outraged mum Dawn, 42, said: “This all started when Zach was defending the daughter of his church pastor who was being abused by this girl.

“He realises now it was a silly thing to do but it wasn’t the crime of the century.”

She blasted police for doing nothing when SHE was victim of a road rage attack, or when husband James, 43, was assaulted in a pub.

Dawn raged: “This girl complained about having a bit of tomato sauce thrown over her hair and the police reacted as if someone had been murdered.” Cops gave Zach a DNA mouth swab and ticked him off. He was told he still has no criminal record after the incident in Chatham, Kent, but fears that since his details are on file it could harm his job prospects if firms run a check.

Supt Des Keers said: “The girl reported she had been assaulted. The boy was reprimanded and his fingerprints and DNA taken. No further action will be taken.”

[Comments from JD: Trivializing the serious and inflating the trivial — the UK police force in action.]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Criminal Checks on School Exchanges: Now Families Hosting Foreign Pupils Face Anti-Paedophile Vetting

Vetting rules aimed at shielding children from paedophiles could put an end to the tradition of school foreign exchange trips.

Ministers are insisting that both parents in British host families submit to child protection checks before they can put up an overseas pupil.

Teachers and MPs fear families will stop taking in foreign children.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Devoted Couple Die Within Minutes of One Another After Suffering Heart Attacks

A devoted couple are thought to have died of heart attacks within minutes of each other.

Stewart Whitfield, 56, had just dialled 999 for his stricken wife Olga, 61, when he too suffered cardiac failure.

Police and paramedics arrived at their red-brick terraced home and found them dead.

It is believed that Mr Whitfield, a pipe fitter, collapsed at his wife’s side as he waited for the ambulance to arrive.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Former Senior Military Figures on New List of ‘BNP Members’ As BBC Reviews Leader Griffin’s Question Time Appearance

  • ‘Members’ include military figures, doctors, academics
  • BNP denounces document as ‘malicious forgery’
  • BBC Trust review Griffin’s involvement after Hain letter

Former senior military figures are among members of the British National Party, according to a new list published today.

The leaked document of those affiliated to the far-right party, which was posted on the web, includes several majors, scores of doctors and some professors.

It purports to show the membership as of April 15 this year and lists names, street addresses, post codes, mainline telephone and mobile phone numbers.

But the BNP denounced the list as a ‘malicious forgery’, insisting it is ‘unequivocally’ not genuine and many of the names had never been in touch with the party.

This is the third time in recent years that such a list has been published and comes days before leader Nick Griffin is due to appear on BBC’s Question Time.

The BBC Trust is now reviewing his involvement in the high-profile show after it was contacted by Welsh Secretary Peter Hain last night.

Mr Hain turned to the corporation’s governing body after his plea for Mr Griffin to be dropped from the programme was rejected by director general Mark Thompson.

He argues that the party is not ‘lawfully constituted’ because it has admitted only accepting white members and is now having to change its rules.

The minister told Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons: ‘Until that happens and until the court case is resolved, it is not for the BBC to prejudge matters and confer a legitimacy on the BNP that even they do not claim today.’

It is the first time the Trust has been asked to step in before a show goes on the air and it is expected to fast-track the review.

In a separate row today, ex-Army chiefs accused the BNP of hijacking patriotic British symbols and attaching itself to the Armed Forces for its own ‘dubious ends’.

A letter signed by General Sir Richard Dannatt and General Sir Mike Jackson said it was tarnishing the forces’ reputation by associating itself with soldiers’ sacrifices.

The BNP claimed the new ‘membership’ list was an attempt by the ‘whole establishment’ to derail the party ahead of Mr Griffin’s Question Time appearance.

‘The timing of it, just before Question Time, is suspicious. The whole media is out to derail the BNP,’ a spokesman said.

Mr Griffin, writing on the party website before the list was unveiled, also claimed the leak was part of a ‘massive media hysteria smear campaign’.

Later, once the party had examined it and dismissed it as a fake, he put up another post saying: ‘We have had a chance to examine the list in detail and can unequivocally say that it is not a genuine BNP list.

‘It is a concoction of the “old” list plus a number of inquiries received, but, most disturbingly, it contains thousands of names of people with whom the BNP has had no contact whatsoever.

‘The list includes thousands of people with renewal and membership numbers next to their names which are totally false and made up.

‘We have no idea from where this information has been drawn. Some of it looks like random items drawn from a telephone book.’

The BBC’s invitation to Mr Griffin to appear on the political discussion show has provoked a storm of controversy.

Critics insist the leader, as an extremist, should have no platform on the high-profile political programme but the corporation has so far stood firm and refused to axe him.

Mr Hain called on the director general to drop him from the panel yesterday, claiming the BBC could face legal action if it went ahead.

He argued that the BNP was currently an ‘unlawful body’ after the party told a court last week it would amend its whites-only membership rules to meet discrimination legislation.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission had issued county court proceedings over concerns the membership criteria were restrictive to those within certain ethnic groups.

But the BBC rejected the call. Mr Thompson said the court case did not legally inhibit the corporation because the BNP was still operating.

He said: ‘It remains the BBC’s obligation to scrutinise and hold to account all elected representatives and to do so with due impartiality.

‘We are also advised that if there were to be any election — local or national — tomorrow, the BNP would still be able to field candidates.

‘We therefore do not agree that the developments in the Central London County Court proceedings legally inhibit the BBC from allowing Nick Griffin to participate on the Question Time programme and our position remains as set out.’

The BBC says Mr Griffin’s inclusion is based on obligations resulting from the party’s success in winning two seats in European Parliament elections this year.

Anti-fascist campaigners plan to stage a protest against Mr Griffin’s presence on the show at the BBC’s Television Centre in west London when it is filmed.

But an opinion poll at the weekend found voters backed the BBC by 63 per cent to 23 per cent.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: How Our Brave Servicemen Are Still Living in ‘Disgraceful’ Accommodation

More than 12,000 military homes are in worse condition than a year ago despite pledges to improve the standard of accommodation for soldiers, sailors and airmen.

A damning report by the Public Accounts Committee reveals that those risking their lives are forced to live in homes without adequate showers and with wiring that is more than 36 years old.

One third of military families living in service accommodation rate the condition of their homes as ‘poor’, while nearly a quarter say they are badly maintained, according to Ministry of Defence figures.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: How Not to Prevent Violent Extremism

A report published today by the Institute of Race Relations finds that the government’s Prevent programme for tackling extremism fosters division, mistrust and alienation.

Entitled Spooked: how not to prevent violent extremism, the report suggests that the Prevent programme has been used to establish one of the most elaborate systems of surveillance ever seen in Britain.

Moreover, there are strong reasons for thinking that the Prevent progamme, in effect, constructs the Muslim population as a “suspect community”, fosters social divisions among Muslims themselves and between Muslims and others, encourages tokenism, facilitates violations of privacy and professional norms of confidentiality, discourages local democracy and is counter-productive in reducing the risk of political violence.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: I Was Savagely Disfigured by My Deranged Boyfriend: Acid Attack Victim Bravely Shows Her Face

With painful honesty, Katie Piper, the former TV presenter tells why she has finally waived her right to anonymity — and reveals the awful events that changed her life for ever

However much she would like to forget them, the details of how she lost her dreams, her identity and very nearly her life will stay with Katie Piper for ever.

They are burned into both her memory and her face. Katie, 26, has remained fearful and anonymous in the 18 months since the man she met on the internet attempted to destroy her, so few will recognise her name.

But the facts of the case — the rape, the vengeful boyfriend Daniel Lynch, the cup of industrial-strength sulphuric acid — are all too familiar, a cause of anger and revulsion when they were revealed in court earlier this year.

It was an added cruelty that Katie’s world had revolved around her beauty. She modelled for catalogues and magazines, presented television programmes and had dreamed of a full-time career in the media.

But on March 31, 2008, the old Katie Piper disappeared for ever. The acid, hurled into her face on a busy London street, disfigured her beyond recognition. Some slipped down her throat with further terrible consequences.

‘I could hear someone screaming and screaming and kept wishing they’d be quiet. Then I realised it was me,’ she recalls.

‘I was standing in the street with people walking past me and I could feel my face evaporating. I thought I was on fire as the acid ate at my skin.

‘In one of Danny’s calls he’d told me he’d got a present for me that would change my life for ever. I knew instantly that he was behind it.’

Afterwards, able to communicate only in writing, she gave her parents a note that said: ‘Kill me.’ Yet today, Katie is no longer in despair.

Still learning to live with her rebuilt features and exhausted by more than 30 operations, she has agreed to waive her anonymity and speak in public. Her fightback will be featured in a Channel 4 documentary this month.

She hopes her bravery will help her regain some confidence. It is also a chance to insist — as she has discovered in the hardest way — that appearance cannot be the measure of human worth.

‘I’m never going to be the old Katie. She’s like a best friend I once had,’ she admits.

‘She’s gone and there’s a different one in her place. I’m not going to be a victim. I’m the woman who got through this. I’m full of life and looking forward to the future.’

At the beginning of last year, Katie was living in London for the first time and enjoying it. She was popular, particularly with men who were drawn to her blonde good looks and petite figure.

Like many young adults, she lived part of her hectic life through the pages of Facebook and it was not unusual for her to receive 80 emails in one day, many from admiring strangers.

Mostly, these were ignored. But when 33-year-old Daniel Lynch, a martial arts enthusiast, emailed Katie to say he’d been following her career, she admits she was instantly attracted.

‘He was wearing a martial arts suit in his picture and I’d been doing some promotional work for martial arts in the UK,’ she explains.

‘We seemed to have a lot in common and, to be honest, looking at his picture, I fancied him.’

A few days later Lynch turned up at a promotional event in Reading where Katie was working.

‘He seemed quite shy and nervous when we first met,’ she says. ‘We just had a nice, normal chat. He was 6ft 4in, quite macho-looking and handsome. I liked what I saw.’

Katie sent him her phone number and when they went on their first date, he met her with flowers and a teddy bear.

‘We liked each other and we had fun,’ she says. ‘He told me on our second date that he loved me. His arm was always around me and even when we were in the car and stopped at traffic lights, he would turn and kiss me.

‘He was attentive and showered me with affection. He rang me and emailed me constantly. At one point he’d sent so many messages he blocked my Facebook account. If I’m honest, I was flattered — at least at first.’

She soon got a very different view of her new boyfriend, though. Angered by a trivial slight when he was buying trainers, Lynch had exploded at a shop assistant, leaving Katie to pick up the pieces. This was at the end of March last year.

‘We were two weeks into our relationship and I’d started feeling stifled by his constant calls and emails. I didn’t say anything but I planned to break up with him,’ she says.

If she had known his true background, she would never have been with him in the first place. Lynch, who lived in Shepherd’s Bush, West London, with his mother and brother, had convictions for violence and had served a jail sentence for throwing boiling water into the face of another man. But Katie knew none of this.

‘Later on the day of the incident in the shop, when he suggested we make a night of it and stay in a hotel in Bayswater, I agreed,’ she says.

‘It was a Thursday and I had an appointment in town the next day. We went for a meal, shared a bottle of wine and he seemed to be in a good mood again.’

What happened next was terrifying by anyone’s standards. To a young girl from a comfortable home in a South of England market town, it was unimaginable. Lynch raped her in the hotel room before holding her captive for eight hellish hours.

He smashed her head, beat her, threatened to slash her face with a razor and said he would hang her with a belt. Later he claimed to have been high on steroids.

Even now, the details of the rape are hard for Katie to recount. ‘One minute he’d tell me he loved me and the next he was shouting and swearing. His face was so contorted and I knew that I was dealing with a very sick person,’ she says. ‘I didn’t think he was going to let me leave that room alive.

‘The blood from my head wound was everywhere — on the bed, on the carpets, on the bathroom tiles. I told him the maids would be along soon and we had to clear up, otherwise they’d call the police.’

They drove back to Katie’s flat in Golders Green where, to her relief, he agreed to let her out of the car. It was 5pm on Friday.

If her brief affair with Lynch was a dreadful mistake, Katie’s next decision, too, might seem open to question. She decided not to go to the police, gripped by the fear that he would kill her if she put one foot wrong. Nor did she tell the truth to the doctors at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, where her head wound was glued.

‘I hated myself and what had happened to me,’ she says. ‘But I was terrified that he would hurt me or someone I loved. I kept thinking that as long as I played along and didn’t make him angry, he’d get fed up.’

Instead, the bombardment of phone calls continued. Lynch was full of apologies, she says, and the following Monday morning begged her to read an email he had written.

So, with her own internet line down, she agreed to leave her flat and walk to an internet cafe.

Katie admits: ‘I was nervous about leaving the flat but thought that I could end this thing if I read the email. The whole time Danny was on the phone to me, making conversation, asking me what I was wearing. I was exhausted so I told him.’

This was how her assailant, directed by Lynch, picked her out.

‘I saw a man in a hooded top walking towards me,’ she says. ‘He was carrying a cup. I assumed he was a beggar so I reached into my bag for some change. He came up close, like he was going to speak, and threw liquid from the cup at my face.

‘The pain was indescribable, but for a split second I remember thinking, “How rude to throw coffee when I was trying to help him.” I could feel my skin and clothes burning off me.’

Losing her vision and disorientated, Katie staggered across Golders Green High Road, dodging in and out of cars to get help. ‘I remember my Ugg boots slipped off and I just left them in the middle of the road,’ she says. ‘I could so easily have been knocked down.’

To make things worse, Katie had to wait more than an hour in agony before ambulance crews were given the all-clear to treat her, because they didn’t know what the substance was and whether there was a risk of her attacker being nearby.

Chillingly, she confides: ‘They zipped me up in a protective suit and I thought it must be a body bag and that I was dead and looking in on the scene around me. All I could hear were voices and I figured I must be in Heaven.’

David Piper, who runs a business, and his wife Diane took one look at their once beautiful daughter in hospital and silently believed she’d be better off dead, as Diane now admits. On one side, Katie’s face had been destroyed as far as the fat layer — the only thing beyond it was bone.

She had lost the sight in her left eye and, because of the damage to her oesophagus, was unable to eat.

‘I couldn’t see a way back for her,’ says Diane. ‘I couldn’t imagine what sort of future she’d have. Everything she’d hoped for and dreamed of depended on her face and it was gone. The thing that upset me most was when she wrote, “Kill me.” ‘

So serious were the injuries that Katie’s surgeon at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Mohammad Ali Jawad, resorted to pioneering techniques. In a single operation, the first of its kind ever to be performed, he removed Katie’s entire face, used a skin substitute, Matriderm (which provides a ‘scaffolding’ for grafts), to rebuild its foundations, then grafted skin from her lower back and buttocks on to her face.

After the operation, she was put into an induced coma for 12 days and kept in intensive care. Her weight plummeted to six stone and she had to be fed via a tube in her stomach.

Katie was given police protection even though Lynch and Stefan Sylvestre, now 21 and who threw the acid, had been arrested.

Her determination to recover astonished doctors but it was seven weeks before she knew and saw for herself the extent of the damage.

‘When I held the mirror up I thought someone had given me a broken one or put a silly face on it as a joke,’ she admits.

‘I knew that they’d taken my face away and that it was put somewhere in a bin in the hospital, but in my head I assumed I’d look like the old Katie, just with a few red blotches.

‘I was so embarrassed that people had seen me like this. I wanted to tear the whole thing off and make it go away. There was nothing about me that I recognised. My identity as I knew it had gone.’

Diane gave up her job as a classroom assistant in a primary school to look after her daughter full-time. As well as regular massage at home to keep her damaged skin supple, Katie attends a clinic in southern France that specialises in treating burn-damaged skin.

Eating remains a struggle. Just last week she had another operation to dilate her oesophagus because, every few weeks, scar tissue reforms, narrowing the passage to just a centimetre wide.

It is a measure of her progress that, a few hours later, she sat through a whole meal with her family to celebrate her 26th birthday. ‘I’m usually sick several times throughout a meal and prefer to eat alone,’ she explains.

‘To sit down with my family and friends, eat chicken and have a couple of glasses of wine was such a thrill that I felt I really had something to celebrate.’

The psychological damage has been enormous and it has taken months for Katie to go outside. She keeps all doors and windows locked, is terrified by unexpected callers and is frightened to make hot drinks because of the memories it revives. For months she couldn’t bear to have a shower because of the feeling of liquid moving across her body.

At night she has to wear a balaclava-style mask and a body suit to try to stretch her burned skin and during the day she wears a clear, plastic mask. Pam Warren, who had been terribly burned in the Paddington rail crash and also wore a mask, came to see Katie to advise her.

In May, at Wood Green Crown Court, North London, Lynch and his accomplice Sylvestre were told by the judge that they were ‘the face of pure evil’. Both were jailed for life and Lynch will serve a minimum of 16 years.

But Katie still has nightmares and fears Lynch’s release. When he obtained a phone illegally in jail he used it to post a message on the internet saying how much he missed her. She has now closed all of her social networking accounts.

Katie sounds remarkably well-adjusted despite what she has been through, and is full of praise for her treatment. In particular, she says that the specialist rehabilitation she received should be standard for burns victims.

‘I was fortunate to have a good surgeon and together with the correct aftercare I’ve achieved results that exceeded even my expectations,’ she says. ‘Although, yes, I’ve been scarred for life, I am extremely happy with my new beautiful face.

‘There were times when I was so depressed I wanted to hide from the world. Facing people looking like I do has been a huge ordeal for someone who lived her life to look beautiful. My family have been amazing and without their support and the support of Mr Jawad, I would never have got through this.

‘Now, though, I realise my life before was so superficial. I used to refuse to go out if I had a spot on my face. Now I wish a spot was all I had to worry about. There are people who point and stare. One man even knocked my sun hat off and laughed at me. Those times hurt, but I won’t let them get me down. I’d like to be able to have a husband and family one day. I can’t live a life of regret.’

And what of Lynch? ‘Danny was sick. He may have taken away what was once important to me but, cheesy as it sounds, I am a better person for it. And he couldn’t take away my spirit. I love my life and I know that I have a future now, and it’s a wonderful feeling.’

My Beautiful Face, a Cutting Edge programme for Channel 4 produced by Mentorn, will be shown on October 29 at 9pm.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

UK: Labour Abandons ‘Backdoor’ Attempt to Store DNA of Innocent People for 12 Years

Ministers have abandoned a ‘ backdoor’ bid to let police store the DNA of innocent people for up to 12 years.

They had planned to use an obscure Parliamentary rule to change the law, but dropped the idea in the face of overwhelming opposition in the Lords.

Now a full Bill on the subject will be in the next Queen’s Speech.

Campaigners hope it will lead to a significant watering-down of the plan.

LibDem spokesman Chris Huhne said: ‘The Government must take this opportunity to end their fudge on DNA.

The innocent should be removed from the database immediately — no ifs, no buts.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Melanie Phillips: Our Leaders Are Queuing to Prove Their Virtue by Denouncing the Vile BNP. But It’s They Who Are to Blame for Its Rise

The participation on this Thursday’s Question Time of the British National Party leader Nick Griffin is a priceless publicity coup for his party.

From the commotion this is causing, a casual observer might imagine that Griffin is the pivotal figure in British political life.

His appearance is being treated by the chattering classes as the biggest showdown since Attila the Hun’s rampage through Gaul was halted by the Roman general Flavius Aetius in 451AD.


And that is what the political class is getting so badly wrong. For the strategy being adopted to contain and destroy Griffin is to attack him for being a racist. Which he is.

But that is not the reason for his appeal. Those who support him do not in the main do so because they are racially prejudiced. It is because he also opposes mass immigration, Islamisation and the loss of sovereignty to the EU.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Parents Sell Virgins Aged 12 for Sex

BRITISH virgin girls as young as 12 are being sold to mega-rich Arabs for sex at up to £50,000 a time.

Parents force the schoolgirls into prostitution and then sell them to millionaire paedophiles.

Vice Squad cops nicked three women and a man from Manchester after secretly filming them offering to pimp six girls aged between 14 and 23 at a five-star West London hotel.

They also taped the gang bragging how they were prepared to peddle even younger, prepubescent girls.

The gang — described as being “like something out of TV’s Shameless” with most unemployed or on benefits also had links to Newcastle and Liverpool.

A senior insider said: “This is about as sick as it gets.

“These are among the youngest girls we’ve found being offered for sex.

“This gang was extremely greedy — it was all about the money. Sex with a virgin aged 12 or under cost anything up to £50,000.

“Our inquiries continue and we expect more arrests.”

Sex trafficking of children born here is extremely rare. Detectives normally see foreign kids from Eastern Europe, the Far East and Africa bought here to work as sex slaves.

An NSPCC spokesperson said: “Unscrupulous traffickers are controlling and terrorising vulnerable children within the UK, forcing some into the sex industry and abusing and exploiting many others.

“When the police and other agencies find these children, they need to provide immediate protection and support to help them overcome their ordeal.

“We urge anyone who fears a child is being exploited to call the police, children’s services or the NSPCC.”

Meanwhile, the Yard’s Clubs and Vice Unit, known as CO14, is expected to take full responsibility for targeting the multi-million pound sex trafficking trade in London.

As well as stopping foreign sex slaves being smuggled into the UK, they will investigate home-grown prostitution rings.

There is likely to be an explosion in sex trafficking in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics.

Last week, several leading charities wrote to Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson urging him not merge the force’s stand-alone Human Trafficking Team into the Vice Squad when Home Office funding ends shortly.

But Clubs and Vice are considered more than capable of taking on the big trafficking jobs.

           — Hat tip: Earl Cromer[Return to headlines]

UK: Teenager ‘Attacked With Hammer by Asian Gang After Politically Correct School Ignored Racial Tensions’

A white schoolboy was battered with a claw hammer in an attack at a school where politically correct teachers were afraid to deal with racial tensions, the High Court has heard.

Henry Webster, aged 15, suffered a fractured skull and brain damage after being set upon by a gang of youths during a fight on the school tennis court in 2007.

In the six years beforehand it is alleged that staff looked the other way during a string of incidents involving ‘radicalised’ Asians.

Teachers were too anxious about being seen as bigoted to intervene as a ‘culture of racist bullying and harassment’ built up around a 30-strong gang called the ‘Asian Invasion’.

At the same time, white pupils were branded ‘racist’ by the headmaster and given harsher punishments than Asians, the High Court was told.

Fourteen youths, some of whom were pupils, have already been jailed over the attack on Mr Webster but it was not prosecuted as a racially motivated attack.

However, his family have now brought a civil action against Ridgeway Foundation School near Swindon, Wiltshire, claiming there was a negligent failure to maintain proper discipline and deal with racial tension.

They are also seeking compensation of up to £1million.

Today, Robert Glancey QC, representing the family, said that existing tensions escalated after the July 7 2005 bombings and when more Asian pupils joined the school, some of whom were ‘radicalised and hostile’.

Racial intimidation and violence became a ‘feature of the life of the school’ with eruptions of ‘extreme acts of violence’, it was alleged.

Asians were ‘encouraged’ to separate from white pupils and formed a gang that would hang around the corridor laughing at other pupils and abusing them.

Serious incidents included the riot in May 2006 on the playing field, which led to armed police attending the school.

There were also two attacks almost identical to Mr Webster’s beating.

According to Rachel Barker, a trainee teacher at the school, Mr Glancey said: ‘She thought the punishment system was ineffective and, for example, she was told by Mr Walton, the acting head, not to give out any more warnings to pupils as it would look bad on their disciplinary records.

‘In her view the school did not promote cohesion or integration and the Asians felt superior and were never disciplined or if they were lesser punishment was handed out to them than to white pupils guilty of similar offences.

‘She felt the school did not deal with the problem effectively because they were fearful of being accused of racism.’

The court heard the school ‘closed its eyes’ to the growing unrest and when parents and staff repeatedly complained they were met with complacency and rudeness.

At the same time, white pupils were being targeted for unfair treatment, the court was told.

One boy was disciplined for wearing an England shirt while Asian pupils were not punished for wearing hoodies or listening to music on their mobile phones.

A father of one pupil claimed that during an assembly Mr Walton had said that, in his view, white pupils at the school were racist.

According to Mr Glancey, this showed how teachers were ‘clamping down on white pupils while doing little to tackle the bad and worsening conduct of members of the Asian gang’.

He added: ‘There were a large number of incidents, events, complaints and warnings which would or should have made any school which was being reasonably competent realise there was a serious problem in this school with racism, violence security, discipline and misbehaviour.

‘Viewed cumulatively in this way the large scale violent incidents were evidence of a very bad situation in the school as a whole, tips of an iceberg of very bad behaviour.’

The attack on Mr Webster, who had been a victim of bullying, took place in January 2007 after a 15-year-old Asian pupil picked a fight with him.

The keen rugby player was lured to the tennis courts thinking he would have a one-to-one fight by his adversary who summoned reinforcements using their mobile phones from outside school.

Ridgeway School disputes the allegation and says blaming it for the attack, carried out by a non-pupil, is ‘unprecedented and far-fetched’.

The case is being brought by Mr Webster, his mother, Elizabeth Walker, 46, who runs her own nanny recruitment business, his younger brother Joseph, 14, and his step-father Roger Durnford, 44, who runs his own building company.

They say they were traumatised by witnessing Mr Webster’s suffering, and are also seeking damages.

The case continues.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Vatican Toasts Galileo

Astronomy exhibit features over 130 items

(ANSA) — Vatican City, October 19 — The Vatican Museum has joined international celebrations marking 400 years since Galileo Galilei’s first landmark observations of the night sky, with a major new exhibition. The event, which is also part of the United Nations’ International Year of Astronomy, showcases a host of precious instruments and equipment used to study the sky over the centuries. Billed as the largest astronomy exhibition ever staged in the Vatican or Italy, it features over 130 items, created between the 11th and 20th centuries. Many of these are on loan from Italy’s National Institute for Astrophysics, but the exhibit also includes pieces borrowed from individuals, observatories and the Vatican’s own collections. “In terms of the size of its collections, Italy’s historical astronomy heritage is unique in the world,” commented the exhibit’s curator Ileana Chinnici. Among the star attractions is an original manuscript of the Sidereus Nuncius, a short scientific treatise published by Galileo in March 1610, documenting his first telescopic observations. A priceless collection of antique astrolabes, once used by astronomers, navigators and astrologers to predict the stars, are also on show, alongside an 1801 star-map by German astronomer Johann Elert Bode, who determined Uranus’s orbit and named the planet.

The event includes dozens of telescopes, with many rare, original examples restored for the exhibit, as well as an exact replica of Galileo’s first telescope.

An eight-canvas painting, created by artist Donato Creti in 1711 at the request of the Count Marsili of Bologna, offers a sweeping vista of the entire night sky, accurately reproducing every celestial body known to astronomers of the day.

Other pieces include early spectroscopes used to measure light, travel and navigation instruments, maps, photographs, manuscripts, models and paintings. Galileo (1564-1642) created his first telescope in 1608, based on descriptions from the Netherlands where the device was invented.

He initially produced a lens able to magnify objects threefold and soon after created a lens with a magnification of 32.

This put him in a nearly unique position, as he was one of the few people at the time with a lens powerful enough to observe the sky.

He started making regular recorded observations in 1609 and in 1610, discovered three of Jupiter’s moons. He initially thought they were stars but observing their changing position, soon concluded they were orbiting Jupiter. Galileo later used his powerful telescope to observe the various phases of Venus.

Both sets of observations played a crucial role in his conclusion that the sun was at the centre of the universe, rather than the Earth, as was commonly believed at the time. Church opposition to Galileo’s sun-centred model flared up immediately in 1612 and would dog Galileo for the rest of his life.

In 1633 he was tried and convicted of heresy and a ban was imposed on the publication or reprinting of any of his works. He was then placed under house arrest, where he spent the remaining nine years of his life.

Galileo is said to have muttered the famous phrase ‘Eppure si muove’ (“But it does move”) as he left his trial.

The astronomer was formally rehabilitated by the late Pope John Paul II in 1992 who admitted that the Church had made a “tragic mistake” in rejecting Galileo’s heliocentric views.

The exhibition, Astrum 2009, runs at the Vatican Museum until January 16.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Croatia: OECD: In 3rd Place for Time Spent Watching TV

(ANSAmed) — ZAGREB, OCTOBER 19 — Croatians are among the biggest TV-watchers, spending around 28 hours per week in front of the television, according to research carried out in an OECD report and published today in the Croatian press. The average Croatian spends around 4 hours in front of the TV per day, or 28 hours per week: around three-quarters of the time formally spent at work, with a working week of 40 hours. According to the report, Croatians are second only to the Americans (eight hours per day) and the Greeks (six hours), and are on a par with the Danes and the Poles. Those most at risk from the negative effects of this are children and young people, who spend 67.5% of their free time watching television. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Kosovo: More Than 48,000 Serbs Sign Anti-EULEX Petition

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, OCTOBER 19 — A delegation of Serbs in Kosovo has delivered a petition with 48,373 signatures asking for the withdrawal of the EULEX mission from Kosovo, to Serbian president Boris Tadic. According to the Serbian community in Kosovo, EULEX is not neutral and its operations do not conform to resolution 1244 of the UN Security Council. After nearly a year in the territory, the petition underlines, the European mission has demonstrated a desire to carry out the Martti Ahtisaari plan in favor of Kosovo’s independence. The anti-EULEX petition was also given to the Russian ambassador in Belgrade with a request for it to be given to President Dmitri Medvedev, scheduled to visit Belgrade tomorrow. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

Italy-Libya: Urso, First Italian Business Free Trade Area

(ANSAmed) — TRIPOLI — In Libya, within the next six to twelve months, Italy will have the first area dedicated to Italian companies wishing to do business there. The 500 hectare area in the Misurata district, 210 kilometers east of Tripoli, will be a free trade and an industrial area. Italian businesses will be able to import and export without trade tariffs and will enjoy fiscal advantages provided by Libyan law on investments for five years from startup. The area, owned by the Investment Fund of the Libyan Central Bank, was symbolically handed over this morning, in the form of a planning document, by the bank’s governor Farhat Ben Gdara, to Italian deputy economy minister Adolfo Urso. Urso arrived in Libya yesterday with a delegation of 25 representatives from business associations as a follow up to the trade agreements between Italy and Libya. “Finally we have move to the operational phase”, commented Urso at the end of the meeting, “there are all the conditions needed to make Misurata the Timisoara of the Mediterranean, now there is a base on which to involve Italian companies and at the same time on which to stop immigration offering jobs a work force”. The Libyan Central Bank has said the area is already equipped with infrastructure and has a port, an international cargo airport and a highway with coastal connections. The Libyan Fund for Domestic Investment and Development, with Ben Gdara as president of the board, has already allocated 11.6 billion euros which as Ben Gdara explained to the press, “will be used to build the duty free area and furnish financing requested from Italian companies. The investment is aimed at creating a workforce in Libya and diversifying sources of income.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: Al Qaida Emir Killed — Wanted for 14 Years

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, OCTOBER 19 — Mourad Louzai, one of the two men killed on October 7 by the Algerian army and considered one of the most important emirs (terrorist leaders) of Al Qaida for the Islamic Maghreb, had been wanted by security forces for the past 14 years. The APS agency reports that Louzai, also known as Bouh Abou Qotada El Salafi, 43, was at the head of a criminal organisation in charge of internal relations among the commands of various areas in the country. Having begun working with armed groups with Islamic roots in 1994, he was later named emir of the “Katibat Al Ansar”, a unit of the Salafite Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) active in the Algiers region, and took an active part in numerous terrorist attacks. The emir was killed on October 7 in the El Bayadh region (in south-western Algeria) while travelling in his car with another high-level member of the organisation. According to official sources, numerous fighters of the North African wing of Al Qaida have been killed in the last few weeks, the last three during a wide-ranging military offensive still underway in the Kabylie mountains. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Islamic Science College for Non-Arabic Speakers Set Up

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, OCTROBER 19 — The first college specialized in Azharite Islamic sciences for non-Arabic speakers within the framework of developing al-Azhar University and upgrading its quality of education, was launched today by Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif. The premier approved the project which was previously accepted by al-Azhar University board and the Supreme Council of al-Azhar, Azhar University President Ahmed el-Tayyib said. The new college will work on graduating non-Arabic speaking students mastering Azharite Islamic studies, he said. The main target of al-Azhar University is disseminating the moderate teachings of Islam through its students, he added. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Yemeni Rebels Get Death Penalty

Ten Shia rebels have been sentenced to death in Yemen for involvement in clashes with the army last year.

Five more were given 15 years in prison in the latest trial of those captured during fighting north of Sanaa, in which hundreds were killed or wounded.

The government began a new campaign to try to crush the rebels in August 2009.

The Shia group say they are combating marginalisation by the Sunni majority, but are accused by the government of seeking a return to Shia clerical rule.

The insurgents first took up arms against the government in 2004.

Operation Scorched Earth

Upon hearing Tuesday’s verdict, the defendants shouted anti-American and anti-Israeli slogans and “Victory for Islam.”

They were found guilty of criminal activity, armed resistance to the authorities and belonging to a terrorist organisation.

The BBC’s Yolande Knell in Cairo says the latter charge is usually reserved for al-Qaeda cases, but it comes at a time of increased tension.

The government’s offensive, known as Operation Scorched Earth, has precipitated a wave of intense fighting.

Aid agencies say tens of thousands of people have been displaced.

Two other rebels from the group were handed death sentences this month. About 90 others are awaiting trial.

The Zaidi Shia community are an overall minority in Yemen but make up the majority in the north of the country near the border with Saudi Arabia.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Barry Rubin: Palestinians Choose the Illusion of “Victory” Over Negotiated Peace

This may be a very big development, a turning point. Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders are now openly complaining about President Barack Obama, saying he has hurt the Palestinian cause, by accepting less than a complete freeze of construction on settlements from Israel, pressuring PA leader Mahmoud Abbas to stand next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the president’s UN photo opportunity, and pushing the Palestinian Authority to ease off on demanding the UN put sanctions against Israel over the Goldstone Commission issue.

Obama is now going to discover what gratitude is worth in the Middle East. All his pro-Palestinian, pro-Muslim pronouncements, all his criticism of Israel, and everything else he’s tried to do to show his warm support for that side have availed him nothing. In the eyes of the Palestinian leadership it isn’t enough. It can never be enough.

I predict that within a month or two, Obama is going to be denounced in the Palestinian media—with the Syrians and others picking this up—that he is just another George W. Bush. Will he get angry or just keep pretending this isn’t happening?

Here’s how one Palestinian activist puts it, “We had more than a little hope that things would change with an Obama administration. Now the almost universal feeling among Palestinians is one of disappointment.” This view isn’t just coming from high-level officials but also has broad popular appeal.

Once again, the Palestinians have made clear choice. They can seek a mythical victory or real negotiations and a solution. They are choosing the illusion of victory over the reality of getting peace and a Palestinian state through negotiations…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]

Gaza: Queen Bees Force Israeli Blockade

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, OCTOBER 19 — For once, Gaza delivers some sweet news: the honey industry managed to pry open a crack in the Israeli blockade that was imposed in June 2007 when Hamas grabbed power with a military coup. A few weeks ago some 3 million bees and 300 queen bees secretly passed through the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza. Newspaper Yediot Ahronot reported that this was a contribution by the Israeli Agriculture ministry to prevent the honey industry in Gaza from collapsing because of the repercussions of the Cast Lead operation carried out by Israel last winter. Imad Ghazal, president of Gaza’s beekeeping association, explained to the paper that until recently Gaza’s honey was in great demand in foreign countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Yemen. Gaza’s beekeepers were also in good relations with their Israeli counterparts and were often guests in the Vulcani agricultural research institute located south of Tel Aviv. However things changed with the sealing off of Gaza in 2007 and then last winter with the Cast Lead operation. Many beehives were destroyed during clashes, the bees were very upset, and there was no chance of moving them close to the Israeli border, where they previously stocked up on pollen. The local produce dropped dramatically, prices shot up, and honey workers had no choice but to contraband relatively cheap Nile bees in from Egypt. Yediot Ahronot reported that Gaza’s beekeepers are still regretting this decision, because the Egyptian bees turned out to be “stingers, nervous, lazy and not very productive”, quite disappointing compared to the native Gaza bees, which are also known as ‘Italian bees’. The Egyptian bees also carried a virus that now poses a direct threat to those of Yad Mordechai, a well known Israeli kibbutz close to Gaza, one of the largest local honey producers. A red alert was sounded in the Israeli Agriculture Ministry, and the minister contacted top military authorities to grant an emergency supply of ‘good’ bees to Gaza. Even Hamas, for once, turned a blind eye to its traditional hostility to anything ‘Zionist’. Consequently the first load of buzzing bees was successfully allowed into Gaza, but Ghazal believes that it will not meet the demands of the market: 300 queen bees are good, but at least 6,000 are needed. Israel’s minister of Agriculture also submitted a request to Defence minister, Ehud Barak, who will now have to seek the advice of his heads of security to decide whether, given the deep rift with Hamas, to allow further deliveries. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel-US Differences on Settlements Overcome

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV — Israel and the United States have overcome their differences on the question of construction in Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The statement was made, without any further detail, by Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor during a telephone interview with Radio Jerusalem from the United States where he is on an official visit. In recent months U.S. president Barack Obama has insisted on Israel committing to a total freeze on construction for a limited period. Premier Benyamin Netanyahu has said he is willing to accept some limitations in exchange for an adequate Arab agreement in return. On Radio Jerusalem Meridor added that the Israelis and Palestinians are close to agreeing on a formula that would allow the peace talks to restart. The Haaretz newspaper also reports today that Netanyahu recently told the Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Zapatero that the differences of opinion between Israel and the United States about construction projects in the settlements have been removed. Not even Haaretz gave further details regarding the issue.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Protester Assails Blair in Palestinian Mosque

HEBRON, West Bank, Oct 20 (Reuters) — Bodyguards subdued a Palestinian man on Tuesday as he approached Middle East envoy Tony Blair, shouting “You are a terrorist.”

The former British prime minister was verbally assailed while visiting an ancient mosque during an official trip to the West Bank city of Hebron.

The protester, carrying a bag, was backed into a corner by guards who tried to shut him up. “He is not welcome in the land of Palestine,” the struggling man shouted.

Blair, 56, is envoy for the “Quartet” of powers on the Middle East, comprising the European Union, the United States, Russia and the United Nations.

He gave a tight-lipped smile and a pacifying wave in the general direction of the shouting man, and afterwards played down the incident as a “protest and that’s fair enough”, but not one that should be viewed as typical of local feelings.

Most Palestinians and Israelis want the conflict “resolved in a peaceful way”, he said. They understand “it’s not going to be resolved unless we find a way of creating two states, a state of Israel and a state of Palestine side by side in peace.”

“Frankly it’s not protests that will do that. It’s patient negotiation,” Blair told reporters.

A spokesman for the envoy told Reuters it was unclear why the protester launched his attack on Blair. “We’ve heard nothing on that,” he said.

Blair’s Hebron hosts were upset by the security breach. He remains unpopular with some Arabs for supporting the 2003 United States invasion of Iraq and for what they perceive as his bias in favour of Israel when he was Britain’s prime minister.

“You know, he made his protest and that’s fair enough,” Blair told reporters once the man was removed. “I think it’s important for you guys as well to not always mistake the protest for the general view of the whole population,” he said. (Reporting by Reuters TV; writing by Douglas Hamilton; editing by Jon Boyle)

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Rabbi Medan: Moral Weakness Allows Islam to Take Over the World

(IsraelNN.com) The world is against Israel because of its own moral weakness and not because of alleged human rights violations, according to Rabbi Yaakov Medan, rabbi of Har Etzion Yeshiva, located in Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem.

“Islam is strong, and it is convenient for people to go with strength,” the rabbi explained in an interview with Arutz-7. He added that the world’s preoccupation with individual rights, as well as the infiltration of Western culture into Israel, are “illnesses” that have led to “an erosion of obligations to the country and of the significance of Israel as a nation.”

He added that one way of solving the problem is for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to “be more forceful” but added, “He is not strong enough.”

The national religious rabbi pointed out that if the world really cared that Israel killed people and destroyed homes, it would have condemned China for its torture and murder of millions of people who believe in the Falun Gong religious movement.

“What is important to the world’s countries is their need to identify with those who are strong, and today they are impressed” that Muslim dominance is growing.

Rabbi Medan warned, “Islam is a real threat to Christian Europe, and the United States also is in danger, although further down the road.” He said it is not a coincidence that Turkey and the rest of Europe are on the attack against Israel, especially since the Goldstone report on alleged war crimes in the Operation Cast Lead counterterrorist campaign in Gaza.

“After the Six-Day War, in which the victor [Israel] was clear, the world and applauded Foreign Minister Abba Eban in the United Nations when he said that Israel never again will return to ‘Auschwitz borders’ before the war,” the rabbi emphasized. “After the Yom Kippur war, when the unjustifiable feeling was that we lost, third world countries’ relations with us deteriorated. Now we are considered weak, despite our strong economy and army.”

Rabbi Medan explained that world leaders speak with the “elite” in Israel who are “ceasing to believe in our own rights here. We feel like a Byzantine state whose time is limited and that our end is to integrate into the European and American cultures.

“As long as this lasts, the Arabs will be justified and we will be blamed as robbers and murderers.”

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

West Bank: Blair Insulted on Hebron Mosque Visit

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, OCTOBER 20 — A Palestinian demonstrator verbally attacked the Quartet’s envoy to the Middle East, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, during a visit to a mosque in Hebron, in the West Bank. “Terrorist”, you are not welcome in the land of Palestine” shouted the demonstrator to Blair before being immediately surrounded by bodyguards. Blair did not seem disturbed by the incident and with a half smile made a conciliatory gesture to the Palestinian whose identity is not known. Blair commented on the incident affirming that there was no need to confuse an isolated incident as the expression of the opinion of the majority of the Palestinian public. Many Arabs however have reproached Blair for his support for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 when he was premier, and his refusal to condemn the war started by Israel in 2006 against Hezbollah in Lebanon. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Abdullah: Israel Decide to Integrate or Stay Outside

(ANSAmed) — ROME, OCTOBER 20 — “Israel must decide whether to integrate definitively in the region or remain outside, and it must put an end to the settlements”, said King Abdullah of Jordan at the end of a long meeting at the Quirinale with Italian Head of State, Giorgio Napolitano, which focused on the Israel-Palestine issue. The Hashemite ruler, who is the leader of a country which is a “pillar of stability in the Middle East”, as Napolitano put it, spoke of the “efforts which we are continuing to take forward on the Israeli-Palestinian issue”, and said that he was “disappointed” by the fact that talks “are not going forward.” But we cannot abandon the field, in fact we must work even more seriously to reach a two-state solution and a global peace at the regional level, because the alternative is a continuation of the conflicts”. Recalling the peace initiatives taken by the international community, the US administration and the European Union, King Abdullah explained that it is now up to Israel to decide, and he stressed the importance of Italy, a country which “has always been a highly-respected and strong voice, and has made a fundamental contribution to the stability of our area”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Aqaba Choses as Location of Jordan’s First Nuclear Plant

(ANSAmed) — AMMAN, OCTOBER 19 — Jordan is putting the final touches to build the kingdom’s first nuclear plant, to be constructed on the shores of the Red Sea, an official said today. The Jordan Nuclear Regulatory Commission (JNRC) is in talks with a Belgium company to make environmental impact assessment, according to JNRC Director General Jamal Sharaf. He said the location of the plant has been approved awaiting results of a risk analysis study on the scheme. “We are in talks with an international company to work with us on a risk assessment report,” he said, noting that the 1,000 megawatt nuclear power plant will be built 20km outside the port city of Aqaba. Belgian firm Tractebel-GDF Suez, is expected to complete the study in late 2011, before allowing the construction of the multi-billion project to start. Jordan turned to nuclear energy to save public expenditure on fuel and provide the 5.6 million population with desalinated water. Several agreements have been signed with the US, Japan, France and other countries to develop the nuclear programme. The kingdom has no natural resources and buys most of its energy needs from neighbouring countries. Oil is purchased from Saudi Arabia and Iraq while most needs of gas and electricity are imported from Egypt. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

‘Human Rights Watch’ Founder Denounces His Group as Anti-Israel

(IsraelNN.com) Israel received support from a most unlikely source Tuesday, with a harsh condemnation of the Human Rights Watch group by its own founder, Robert Bernstein. Writing for The New York Times, he charged the group with “issuing reports on the Israeli-Arab conflict that are helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state.”

HRW was in the forefront of accusing Israel of war crimes in the three-week Operation Cast Lead counterterrorist campaign in Gaza, and has continually condemned Israeli retaliation for the thousands of Hamas rockets and other terrorist attacks on Israel.

Bernstein emphatically stated that “Hamas and Hezbollah…go after Israeli citizens and use their own people as human shields,” a situation that was stated as largely unproven in the recent Goldstone report for the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Bernstein accused his own group’s leaders of knowing that “Hamas and Hezbollah chose to wage war from densely populated areas, deliberately transforming neighborhoods into battlefields. They know that more and better arms are flowing into both Gaza and Lebanon and are poised to strike again. And they know that this militancy continues to deprive Palestinians of any chance for the peaceful and productive life they deserve.”

Bernstein, who was chairman of the group until he stepped aside in 1998, pointed out that HRW has condemned Israel more than any other country. Undermining the group’s anti-Israeli stance, he stated that the Jewish State “is home to at least 80 human rights organizations, a vibrant free press, a democratically elected government, a judiciary that frequently rules against the government, a politically active academia, multiple political parties.”

“Meanwhile, the Arab and Iranian regimes rule over some 350 million people, and most remain brutal, closed and autocratic, permitting little or no internal dissent.” Bernstein echoed Israeli complaints that HRW has ignored “the plight of [Arab] citizens who would most benefit from the kind of attention a large and well-financed international human rights organization can provide.”

“These groups are supported by the government of Iran, which has openly declared its intention not just to destroy Israel but to murder Jews everywhere,” he wrote. “This incitement to genocide is a violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.”

In what was a virtual repetition of Israeli government statements from the past several years, he noted that “There is a difference between wrongs committed in self-defense and those perpetrated intentionally.

“In Gaza and elsewhere where there is no access to the battlefield or to the military and political leaders who make strategic decisions, it is extremely difficult to make definitive judgments about war crimes. Reporting often relies on witnesses whose stories cannot be verified and who may testify for political advantage or because they fear retaliation from their own rulers.”

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

Iran Accuses Pakistan Over Attack

Iran’s president has accused Pakistani agents of involvement in a suicide bombing in south-east of the country targeting a group of the elite Revolutionary Guards force.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on Pakistan to arrest the attackers, who he said had entered Iran from Pakistan.

Forty-two people died in the attack in Sistan-Baluchistan, including six Revolutionary Guards commanders.

Iran has previously accused the US and UK of contributing to the attack.

In his first comments on the bombing, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini also blamed the United States.

“This terrorists crime revealed the evil face of enemies of security and unity who are supported by intelligence organisations of some arrogant governments,” he said, using a phrase that usually refers to the US and its allies.

Pakistani officials condemned the attack, which has been blamed on the Sunni resistance group, Jundullah.

The Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman, Abdul Basit, dismissed Iranian claims that Jundullah’s leader was in Pakistan.

‘Crushing’ response

According to state media, one or more suicide bombers targeted the group of Revolutionary Guards leaders who had arranged to meet tribal leaders in the Pishin district close to the Pakistani border.

Reports said a suicide bomber detonated a belt packed with explosives as the meeting was about to start.

The deputy commander of the Guards’ ground force, General Noor Ali Shooshtari, and the Guards’ chief provincial commander, Rajab Ali Mohammadzadeh, were among at least six officers reported to have been killed.

Dozens of people were injured.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

Jordan: King Abdullah, Peace Disappearing

(ANSAmed) — ROME, OCTOBER 19 — “The window of hope, shortly, will close. By the end of 2010 if Israel doesn’t believe in the two state solution, the possibility of a future Palestinian state will disappear due to geographic questions: the territories are already fragmented in cantons”. Kind Abdullah of Jordan underlined the need for fast intervention in an interview with La Repubblica on the eve of his arrival in Italy for a three day state visit. “America and Europe intervene, Israel has the courage to sit down with the Palestinians, with a strong support from President Obama and the solid support of the EU. It decides to integrate with in the Arab-Muslim world or continue to be a fortress, with the calamities that will ensue for it and all of us. Now it is digging a hole, wider and wider”, said Abdullah. Regarding Hamas, said Abdullah, “we support the reconciliation with Fatah promoted by Egypt. America and Europe decide their policy. We recognize however the urgency, the terrible price that all will pay. They understand that a humanitarian catastrophe is happening in Gaza, that the siege is lifted as soon as possible”. In terms of the not yet achieved understanding between Israel and the United States, Abdullah affirms that he hoped for more: “I believed in a decisive turn already at the beginning of the summer, in the start of real negotiations at the UN. And yet, the problem of the Israeli settlements, illegal for the international community, remain central. Everyone is asking for a freeze, even temporary, just to get the negotiations started. If Israel really believes in the two state formula, it knows that the settlements in the Palestinian land would become Palestinian property. Stopping would be a proof of sincerity”. Between Jordan and Israel, Abdullah commented “it’s a cold peace, and getting colder. In May Netanyahu made a lot of promises but has not maintained any so far”. During his state visit tomorrow in Italy Abdullah said, “I speak with our Italian friends. I will solicit the government’s commitment, as part of the EU, in the peace process, and collaboration in various large projects in Jordan for an investment of 20 billion dollars over 10 to 15 years”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Lebanon: Exploded Devices Lead to Hezbollah Not Israel, Press

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, OCTOBER 20 — The spy devices destroyed between Saturday and Sunday along the temporary border reportedly belonged to the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah and not to Israel, the pan-Arab paper, Asharq al Aswat, reported today. The Saudi owned newspaper, which contrary to standard practice cited “an unofficial source” from Israel, specified that the devices blown along the central sector of the Blue Line that demarks the two countries were a part of “Hezbollah’s telecommunications network”. The Party of God, on the other hand, confirmed yesterday that the devices destroyed was spy equipment placed there by Israel along the Lebanese land telephone line after the war in 2006, and in violation of UN Resolution n.1701, which interrupted hostilities between the Jewish State and Hezbollah three years ago. A spokesman from UN forces deployed in southern Lebanon (Unifil) for their part specified to ANSA that “an investigation is underway”, and that it has not yet been possible to reach a conclusion on the nature of the devices, or who placed them. Preliminary investigations at first attributed them to Israeli ownership. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

OIC and the International Islamic Relief Agency Sign Cooperation Agreement

The Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, and the Secretary General of the International Islamic Relief Agency )IIRA), Dr. Adnan bin Khalil Basha, signed on Monday 19th October, 2009 at the headquarters of the OIC General Secretariat in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, a bilateral cooperation agreement.

The agreement between the OIC and the Jeddah-based IIRA will boost cooperation and Islamic unity among Muslim countries in general, and charitable and humanitarian organizations in particular, as part of the implementation of the decisions adopted by the 3rd Extraordinary Islamic Summit and the Ten-Year Program of Action (TYPOA).

The agreement provides for cooperation in a broad framework with the objective of providing various assistance to the needy. The IIRA, as per the stipulations of the signed agreement, will operate and manage humanitarian projects mentioned in the agreement through partnership in the execution of concerned humanitarian programs while the OIC will take the responsibility of notifying the IIRA of the needs of the OIC Member States.

The agreement includes a clause on holding periodic meetings to examine the humanitarian situation across the Muslim world as well as defining a mechanism for the articulation of proposals on addressing these issues and contributing to peace building in the Muslim world and beyond.

           — Hat tip: Henrik[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: Woman Files for Divorce for ‘Gitmo’ Name

Dubai, 19 October (AKI) — A Saudi woman wants to divorce her husband after the man stored the wife’s name as ‘Guantanamo’ on his mobile phone. The 30 year-old woman, who had been married for 17 years called her husband on the mobile phone, which he had left at home, and saw the name Guantanamo, after the notorious US prison in Cuba, Saudi daily Al-Watan reported.

The wife, who lives in the Saudi port city of Jeddah, immediately filed for divorce and said her husband is a tyrannical person that she could no longer live with.

The Riyadh-based daily also suggested that the woman might settle for “substantial” financial compensation and stay married to her husband.

The spouse defended himself saying he merely did it for privacy reasons and did not want people to know his wife was calling.

“I don’t want people sitting around me to know that this is my wife calling,” said the husband.

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

South Asia

Case Closed on Taleban Bribe Report

France dimisses claims that Italians paid warlords for peace

(ANSA) — Rome, October 20 — The French foreign ministry on Tuesday dismissed accusations that an alleged cash-for-peace deal between Italian forces and Taleban warlords put French troops in danger.

Bernard Valero, a spokesman for the ministry, said the controversy “began with reports from a British newspaper and ended the next day when Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi denied them”.

Articles published in The Times last week alleged that the Italian secret service bought a truce from Taleban commanders and tribal warlords in the Sarobi area east of Kabul, where ten French troops were later killed during an ambush in August 2008.

The articles insinuated that the French troops who replaced the Italians mistakenly thought the area to be peaceful, because their allies failed to inform them of the arrangements.

The Times reports included quotes from unnamed NATO officials and a local Taleban chief who claimed Italians paid for peace in the area.

The articles met with angry denials from both the Italian government and the opposition who called them an affront to the 22 Italian soldiers who have lost their lives in Afghanistan since Italy’s mission there began in 2004.

French Defense Minister Herve’ Morin last week expressed disbelief at the reports and said he had “no reason to doubt the Italian government”.

Asked if NATO would open an inquiry into the charges, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Monday said they were “just accusations” and that he had “faith in his allies”.

In an attempt to end the controversy, Valero stated that “France has taken note of the Italian government’s denial of the accusations” and that “the case is closed”.

The spokesman added that the French government was in “constant contact” with Italy and that relations between the two countries were as close as ever.

Italy’s contingent in Afghanistan counts some 2,800 troops in addition to 500 soldiers deployed for the elections in August, making it the fifth-largest in the NATO-led ISAF mission. Six troops killed by a suicide car bomb in Kabul last month together with a soldier who died in a road accident near Kabul last Thursday brought the number of Italian casualties in Afghanistan to 22.

France, whose mission to Afghanistan counts around 3,070 soldiers, has lost 36 troops so far, ten of whom were killed in the Sarobi ambush in 2008.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Islamists Say Taliban Targeting India

Takeover of Pakistan seen as setting stage for advance against Kashmir

The Pakistani Taliban, apparently aided by al-Qaida elements, may have decided to launch an all-out effort to take over the state of Pakistan and use it as a base to begin an offensive against Indian-administered Kashmir, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

A number of militant Islamist websites in recent weeks have outlined this strategy as Pakistan has come under increasing terrorist attacks that have successfully targeted some of the most defended Pakistani military facilities, including Pakistani army headquarters in Rawalpindi.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Italy Hails Afghan Run-Off Stance

Karzai ‘statesmanlike’ says Berlusconi

(ANSA) — Rome, October 20 — Italian officials on Tuesday hailed Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s acceptance of a run-off against rival Abdullah Abdullah after the incumbent failed to win re-election in a fraud-mired vote.

Echoing British and French leaders, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Karzai had shown “statesmanlike” qualities in the circumstances.

Berlusconi went on to congratulate Karzai’s rival, ex-foreign minister Abdullah, on also agreeing to the November 7 run-off and voiced the hope that it would help “ensure the construction of the democratic, secure, stable and prosperous country that the Afghan people deserves”.

He said it was “vital” that all of Afghanistan’s leaders work together to ensure national unity.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said the acceptance of the run-off was “an act of political maturity on the part of President Karzai, his opponent and the whole Afghan community”. “It is essential that the electoral process can move forward in a credible way to make sure Afghanistan has a president who enjoys full political legitimacy”.

Earlier on Tuesday, Karzai told a news conference that he accepted the findings of a United Nations ballot-monitoring panel, adding that the run-off was “a good step forward”.

Italian Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa echoed his colleagues and said the additional troops Italy sent to Afghanistan to boost security for the elections will remain there through the presidential runoff.

“It is our hope that this election process can be completed within a month, a month and a half. In that case we will be able to bring the troops back by December,” he added.

Official results from the August elections were released on Tuesday which showed that Karzai had failed to win over 50% of the vote and would have to run off against Abdullah.

Karzai said the vote would be held on November 7 in line with the Afghan constitution which states that run-off elections must be staged within two weeks of the release of official results.

The official results, recounted following accusations of massive fraud, saw Karzai with 49.67% of the vote and Abdullah with 32% of the vote.

A preliminary count had given the incumbent 54.6% and his rival 27.8%.

Aside from the some 500 troops Italy deployed for the election, it maintains a contingent of some 2,800 troops in Afghanistan, the fifth-largest in the NATO-led ISAF mission.

Debate about Italy’s presence in Afghanistan heated up after six Italian soldiers were killed in a Taliban suicide attack in Kabul in September.

But the government repeatedly stressed its commitment to helping Afghanistan defend its fledgling democracy in the face of a mounting Taliban offensive.

Berlusconi on Tuesday reaffirmed this, saying that Italy would do its part in international efforts to ensure “greater voting possibilities” in the run-off.

As well as ballot stuffing and voter registration fraud, one of the major problems in August’s elections were Taliban attacks which resulted in tiny turn-outs in some of Afghanistan’s most unstable areas.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

More Boats Bound for Australia

URGENT talks were under way last night between Canberra and Jakarta over responsibility for a suspected Australia-bound asylum-seeker vessel carrying 79 passengers that had issued a distress message off the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

HMAS Armidale was sent to help and was last night alongside the boat — one of three new vessels found heading for Australia — said a spokesman for Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor.

Last night, the question of which nation was responsible for the boat and its occupants had not been settled.

Under maritime law, if the vessel was in international waters, responsibility would fall to Australia.

The boat, whose identity was not given, radioed a distress call giving its position as 548km “north-northwest” off the Australian territory of Christmas Island and 222km off Java. The distress signal was picked up by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which sent the Armidale to intercept the boat. Asked which country was going to take responsibility for the boat and those aboard, a senior government official told The Australian last night: “They’re still trying to work that out.”

None of the passengers were in danger and the vessel was regarded as seaworthy, a spokesman for Border Protection Command said last night.

A photograph of the boat released last night appeared to indicate the vessel was of Indonesian origin.

Mr O’Connor last night said another boat, thought to have 39 passengers and three crew aboard, was intercepted yesterday near Ashmore Island, off Australia’s north coast, after being spotted by an RAAF aircraft.

Meanwhile a third refugee-crammed vessel was yesterday reported to be in distress 200 to 300 nautical miles from Malaysia.

The Malaysian navy has taken charge of that vessel but few details have been released on its whereabouts.

Unconfirmed reports say the total number of asylum-seekers on all three boats is more than 310.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Arrest of Local Taliban Chief ‘Foiled a Major Terror Plot’

Karachi, 19 October (AKI) — By Syed Saleem Shahzad — Police on Monday moved to arrest the Pakistan Taliban’s chief in the southern port city of Karachi, Akhtar Zaman, foiling a major new terror plot there, a senior intelligence official told Adnkronos International (AKI) on condition of anonymity.

Intelligence agents who are deeply embedded in the Mehsud tribe network in Karachi became aware of the plot allegedly being hatched by militants on the outskirts of Karachi, the official told AKI.

Police described the previously unknown Zaman as the head of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan in Karachi, but the organisation has a cell structure in the city and no official local leader.

“The arms cache recovered from Akhtar Zaman, so-called chief of TTP’s Karachi and his aides Samiullah, Fazl Karim, was sufficient to fight a battle,” the unnamed official told AKI.

“It includes grenades, rocket launchers, AK-47 guns and light machine guns. This was very timely arrest which saved the city from major devastation,” the official said.

Pakistani police and intelligence services have been investigating Zaman and his fellow militants in Karachi since a foiled attempt to bomb the Kemari oil depot in mid-September.

A security guard was killed in an exchange of fire there between police and militants in which police said the would-be bombers had been disguised as women and had worn burqas. The attackers fled, leaving their their arms and ammunition in the Baldia town area.

Power cuts are a frequent problem in Pakistan, which keeps just 20 days of strategic oil reserves. Had the TTP attack against the oil depot succeeded, the whole country would have been plunged into darkness.

The TTP’s reign of terror in the northern and central parts of Pakistan has included a string of recent attacks against the military, security services and government targets, including a brazen raid on the army headquarters in the garrison town of Rawalpindi earlier this month.

Karachi is the industrial and the financial capital of the country, and Pakistan’s intelligence services had been largely expecting an attempted terrorist attack there.

Zaman’s arrest came amid an intensifying battle between the Pakistani army and Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants in the restive northwest.

The army last Friday launched a major ground offensive in the lawless South Waziristan tribal area bordering Afghanistan in which it claims scores of militants and several soldiers have been killed.

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

Australia — Pacific

‘Midget’s Cup’: New Australian Political Correctness Row as Officials Slam Bizarre Race

Horse racing officials have been attacked for holding a competition which has been nicknamed the ‘Midget’s Cup’.

The event, held at an Australian race meet in Melbourne, involved three men charging down a 50-metre course with smaller ‘jockeys’ riding piggyback.

The race was held at the Cranbourne Cup on Sunday and has been denounced by government officials and advocacy groups.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Backers of £3million Prize Rewarding Good Governance in Africa Say They Can’t Find Anyone to Give it to This Year

The backers of a $5 million prize celebrating good governance in Africa said Monday they cannot find anyone to award this year.

Sir Ketumile Masire, former president of Botswana, said the committee could not select a winner for the prize, which aims to recognise African leadership that will improve the prospects of people in the continent.

Billed as the largest annually-awarded prize in the world, the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership consists of $5million (£3.1 million) over 10 years and $200,000 (£123,125) annually for life thereafter.

Contenders include democratically-elected former African heads of state or government who have left office in the last three years.

Sudanese mobile phone entrepreneur Mo Ibrahim set up the prize as part of his foundation designed to support good African leadership that will improve the prospects of people in Africa.

But, announcing the decision in central London, he said: “This is an award for excellence. The jury meets and sets a bar somewhere.

“There’s no way for us to know the reasons behind the decision. It’s tough.”

Asked if less secrecy around the decision would make it clearer what the problems were, he said it would not work like that.

He said: “The nature of any committee like this is that it has to be closed..

“The panel has to be free to discuss and say what you like.

“It’s up to people to draw their own conclusions. You are a grown-up.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Boat With 37 Migrants Intercepted in Granada

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, OCTOBER 20 — A boat with 37 migrants of Sub-Saharan origin on board, drifting along the coast of Granada (Andalucia) near the small town of Castell de Ferro, was intercepted last night by a Spanish Civil Guard patrol vessel, according to Coast Guard Rescue sources. The migrants were aided by Red Cross volunteers and brought to the port of Motril, where they disembarked at 3 am to be transferred to a temporary detention centre and await repatriation. This morning a patrol vessel from the maritime branch of the Ceura Civil Guard located two migrants, also of Sub-Saharan origin, who were swimming for the coast of Ceura. The two were aided near the southern border of Tarajal, which separates the Spanish enclave from Moroccan territory, and turned over to the Moroccan Gendarmerie for repatriation. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Finns Shun Immigrant-Heavy Schools

Finnish parents are increasingly taking their kids out of schools with a heavy immigrant population. Families are even moving into different school districts to get their kids into schools with fewer immigrants.

One school in southern Finland says parents began pulling their children out of the school when the proportion of immigrant kids reached 40 percent.

“We didn’t see a flight when the proportion of immigrant kids was 30 percent. But as we reached the 40 percent mark, an exodus began,” says the principal of the school, who wishes the name of his school not be published as it already suffers from a poor reputation.

The principal says most parents are discrete about the reasons for taking their kids out of the school; however, some families are more direct.

“In one case the parents said they pulled their child because the child’s class did not have a single ethnic Finnish boy, which the parents said contributed to their child having no friends,” explains the principal.

Segregation of schools accelerates

Venla Bernelius, an urban geography researcher at the University of Helsinki, says the Finnish schools system is at a crossroads. Currently, a third of primary school pupils and half of secondary school students attend schools outside their district determined by residence. Special classes have long affected school choice, but parents are now increasingly paying attention to the student population at schools.

“Finland is going down the same road as Sweden and France. It appears as if differences between schools are growing due to parental choice and a widening gap in neighbourhoods,” says Bernelius.

Officials have attempted to stem the trend by allocating more funds to schools with special needs pupils.

“The main issue is where immigrants and foreigners settle down to live. It all boils down to urban planning,” says Rauno Jarnila, who heads Helsinki city’s Education Administration.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Seoul: Human Rights Activists Protest Expulsion of Migrant Workers

The government has hardened policy in order to identify and expel workers without the right residency papers. In six months, 17,000 migrants lost their job and were deported.

Seoul (AsiaNews) — “Free Minu! Stop Crackdown!” shouted members of a coalition of 23 groups, including the Migrant Workers Trade Union in front of the Hwaseong Immigration Detention Centre in Gyeonggi Province last Friday. They were demanding the release of Minod Moktan (AKA Minu), a 33-year-old Nepali musician and cultural activist who, like other migrant workers, is undocumented and has been the target for a government expulsion order.

Some labour analysts and human rights observers are saying that the government must re-evaluate its positions on issues facing undocumented migrant workers, as they have integrated into Korean society.

In Minu’s case, he immigrated to South Korea in 1992 and went to work in restaurants and garment factories in the Uijeongbu area.

During this time, he campaigned actively on social issues, produced a documentary on migrant worker human rights and served as head of the executive committee for the Migrant Worker Film Festival. He has also been the recipient of a number of awards, but now he could be deported.

Prior to this recent target crackdown, the Korea Immigration Service had arrested and deported undocumented migrant workers , in 2007 and 2008, who had served as leaders of the Migrants Trade Union, a union founded for and by migrants.

Minu, who is engaged in human rights activism, became a target after a recent election of documented migrant workers to positions of leadership.

Target crackdowns are the consequence of President Lee Myung-bak’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy.

Last March he said, “illegal residents should not be allowed to just strut around”, a view widely condemned by human rights and labour organisations around the world.

Critics also note that the situation of migrant workers in South Korea has induced the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders to speak out on the issue.

The number of migrant workers deported has gone from around 20,000 a year during the Roh Moo-hyun administration to 32,000 last year under the Lee administration.

As of late July 2009, some 17,000 have lost their jobs and have been deported.

In addition, reports of serious human rights violations during the Justice Ministry’s crackdowns are surfacing; they include a steady number of cases of undocumented migrant workers suffering from injuries, dying, and committing suicide whilst in custody.

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

Culture Wars

BBC: Vile Queen Joke Was OK

THE BBC’s governing body provoked fury yesterday after declaring it was acceptable to tell a vile joke about the Queen — but not about lesbians.

Viewers reacted with astonishment when the BBC Trust rejected a complaint over remarks by comedian Frankie Boyle about the monarch, 83, on BBC2’s topical comedy show Mock The Week.

The Trust admitted his joke was “sexist and ageist” and would have offended many viewers.

But it decided it did not breach guidelines because it was well after the 9pm watershed and within audience expectations for the show.

In contrast, the Trust upheld a complaint over radio presenter DJ Spoony and porn actor Ron Jeremy discussing the possibility of having sex with Hollywood actress Lindsay Lohan and her lesbian lover Samantha Ronson.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

‘Should We Pass Laws That Would Affect Christian Right?’

Survey targets members of religious faith, raises alarms

A survey being launched by university faculty members in Texas is raising alarms over its questions that focus on whether there should be additional laws “that would affect members of the Christian Right.”

According to an e-mail from the Texas Freedom Network, the survey is being done by David A. Williamson at the University of North Texas, and asks in a key question: “Do you think that we should pass laws that would affect members of the Christian Right? If you do want to pass such law(s), what would they be and why.”

Dave Welch, executive director of the U.S. Pastor Council, said if the survey had listed any other category of American citizen, there would have been a storm of protest.

“What we want to find out is who initiated it, what was its intent and who was paying the costs,” he said. “We intend to find out [what is going on]. We’ll do an open records request to this university if we need.”


Welch said the very idea of government neutrality towards religion is being blown apart by the questions in the survey, which include: “What is the most negative thing you can say about the Christian Right?”

Welch said the Texas Freedom Network, which was distributing an e-mail promoting the survey, is “overtly hostile to Christians.”

He said there is no way an organization would get away with surveying about the desire for laws to apply to any subject other than Christianity. He called it a simple demonization of Christians.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


How the West Came to Dominate the Whole Wide World?

By Brother: N. Awan

In the 15th century, Christian Europeans began making oceanic voyages of discovery. Very quickly, these voyages led to the outright economic, political and religious domination of the globe. This domination lies at the heart of the problems facing Muslims today.

Why were Europeans the only ones to discover and conquer the world, notwithstanding the Church’s lie to them, that the earth was flat and if anyone sailed too far, they would fall into Hell! They were not only inward-looking, illiterate and misguided but oppressed by their clerics who victimised them through inquisitions, witch-hunts and charges of heresies. How was it possible for a society with such characteristics to even dream about discovering, and conquering the world?

The fact is, the very institution that misguided its followers, also sent them on a Naval Crusade in the guise of explorers, traders and colonialists.

Following the destruction of Baghdad in 1258 AD by Christian-backed Mongols, the remaining intellectual Islamic states were in Africa. Africa was home to several Islamic universities, namely Fez, Timbuktu, Jenne and Al-Azhar, with many faculties including Law, Medicine, Grammar, Building, Crafts, Manufacturing and Geography which attracted scholars from all over the Muslim world. Even though, two-thirds of the world’s supply of gold came from West Africa during the Middle Ages, more profit was made from the sale of books. Arabic was not only the language of religion and learning, but it was also the language of trade and commerce.

This is not surprising because Islam is a universal religion. Allah (swt) is the Lord of the East, and the West [73:9]. Furthermore, the Last Prophet (saw) was sent to the whole mankind, the Last Message had been delivered and Islam had been completed [5:4]. Muslims were inclined to practice trade, Dawah, Jihad, migration, etc.

In addition, Muslims were sailors, geographers, astronomers and scientists. For example, in 793 AD, Al-Biruni, an Afghan scientist in the Punjab had calculated the earth’s circumference and thus, Muslims had ascertained that the earth was round 700 years before the Europeans.

Unlike Christians, Muslims faced few obstacles in spreading Islam throughout the world. When the Church discovered that Muslims from West Africa were actually doing so, they launched the Naval Crusade and the brutal slavery of West Africans.

Many people are under the impression that the primary reason for these events was economics. History books have been written to openly talk about the evils of slavery, racism, economic exploitation, etc.. in order to hide the truth.

Prior to secularism, religion played a dominant role in all civilisations including the Ancient Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Europeans and Indians. In fact, it still does so right up to the present day. The concept of secularism is about 200 hundred years old. Thus, all historical events should be interpreted using the religious reference frame, and not the secular, economic, or even geo-political reference frame.

By critically analysing the Kuffar’s so called scholarly writings using the Islamic reference frame, we find that they shrewdly attempt to remove, hide or ridicule the role of Muslims in world history. However, they often reveal the very opposite of what was intended. These history books supply the very evidence they thought to suppress or record significant facts of which they were ignorant. Even Shaytan cannot write a book completely devoid of truth

In 1457, the Council of Cardinals met in Holland as a righteous and progressive idea, the enslavement of Africans for the purpose of their conversion to Christianity and exploitation in the labour market as chattel property. This devilish scheme quickly gained the sanctimonious blessing from the Pharaoh (Pope) and became a standard policy of the Catholic Church, and later of the Protestant churches.

A bull of Pharaoh Nicholas V instructed his followers to ‘to go by way of the West to India’. Columbus set sail in the name of the Trinity from the harbour of Palos on 3rd August 1492. He sailed down the West coast of Africa to some outlying islands, then straight across the Atlantic Ocean.

On the very first page of his diary, Columbus describes the humiliating end of the Muslims in Granada. He then goes on to state the objective of his journey to the lands of India to meet the Great Khan, who like his predecessors, had many times appealed to Rome to instruct him in Christianity, to combat the religion of ‘Mahomet’ and all idolatries and heresies.

He also wrote that he hopes in God to find gold mines and spices in great quantities that within three years, Spain would undertake and organise themselves to go to conquer the Holy Sepulchre, for all the wealth gained in the enterprise should be spent on the conquest of Jerusalem.

By 1500, a number of royal marriages took place linking the Spanish monarchy with that of Hapsburg possessions in Austria, Germany and Holland. Spain became a global empire, stretching from Vienna to Peru! Charles V, who held more than 60 royal titles declared: ‘in my realm the sun never sets’. The Church which often arranged these royal marriages began to think a universal Christian empire had at last been achieved.

The destruction of Al-Andalus was planned, to ensure that Muslims from Africa could not assist their co-religionists in Europe. With two year’s preparation and a papal bull, a Crusade was launched in 1415 against Ceduta, a Muslim stronghold and a trading centre on the African side opposite to Gibraltar. A well armed Portuguese Armada, supported by a contingent of English archers overwhelmed Ceduta within a day.

The Portuguese set out with the intention of uniting the Christian forces of Europe with those of Africa, namely Ethiopia in an all out war against the Muslims and to make their state into a vast African-Indian empire, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean and bigger than the continent of Europe. To achieve this the Church had given the Portuguese organisational skills and uninhibited aggressiveness to go forth to conquer and dominate.

The early Portuguese were not traders or private adventurers, but aggressors with a royal commission to conquer territory and promote the spread of Christianity.

In July 1497, Vasco Da Gama set sail from Lisbon. unlike previous Portuguese expeditions, Da Gama continued sailing further down the West coast of Africa and north along the East African coast. With the help of an Arab pilot borrowed from Malindi inmodern Kenya, Da Gama entered the IndOcean and arrived at Calicut in 1498.

A second expedition, consisting of thirteen ships and 1200 soldiers, under the command of Cabral, was despatched in 1500. The sum of his instructions was to begin with preaching, and, if that failed, to proceed to the sharp determination of the sword. On reaching Calicut, Cabral established factories in face of active hostility.

In 502 Da Gama sailed again to the East, with a fleet of twenty vessels and thus began the Crusade, Christianisation, conquest, and ‘administer’ the resources in these lands, on a scale never seen in history. Their aim was to ensure the social, economic, political, technological, military and spiritual domination of the world by the West to this very day.

To achieve this, the Church created, financed and organised a New Order, in which religious reformation, scientific and economic revolution simultaneously took place, namely Protestantism, modern science and capitalism respectively. The result of this New Order was the displacement of Catholic Spain and Portugal by Protestant France, Holland, Germany, Britain, etc.

However, the foreign policy of the ‘cultivate’ resources including people (slavery) and commodities (colonialism), and distribute them around the world as inputs to the factories of the Industrial Revolution or as finished products to the colonies. The globalisation of trade in ‘stolen goods’ was sanitised by the term, Capitalism. The trade was financed by the largest owners of capital, namely the Church and Jews, underpinned by usury, sanitised by the term, ‘interest’. As Catholics were taught that indulging in usury was akin to sodomy, the Protestant order was taught no such thing, thereby enabling its global implementation and thus causing so much misery for the masses today. Little wonder that the capitalistic theories of Adam Smith -a Jew- are still popular under neo-colonialism.

When King Henry VIII broke away from the Church, he started building Britain’s first Navy. The Protestant British Empire was built on Naval power and ruled one quarter of the world. India was not the jewel in the Crown but the engine of the Empire providing men and materials for the Mother Country. One of the very last countries colonised by Britain was Palestine in 1917, when the British Army General entered Jerusalem declaring: ‘Today the Crusades have ended’. Soon after, the British Empire started to ‘unravel’ when nationalists from India demanded independence. Palestine was colonised to protect the route to India. In 1947 Palestine was handed over to the Zionists. The never forgotten objective of the Church, the recapture of Palestine, had finally been achieved.

Having been previously expelled from European countries, the Jews returned under the New Secular Order, to dominate the socio-economic, political and foreign affairs of the Gentiles (non-Jew) by indirectly ruling the Church. In addition, two large Gothic Cathedrals were built, the House of Lords (for clergy, royalty, feudals) and House of Commons and a replica of St. Peter’s Basilica -the White House, from where ‘Democracy’ could be practised to freely and democratically elected secular Western governments to continue to fight Islam and Muslims and support the Zionist cause in Palestine in the 20th Century.

For the East, the Church created another Order using Jews like Karl Marx but based on extreme secularism (Communism) to conquer those countries with strong religious values like China and Africa. However, this Order, comparable in result to British Imperialism, ended in failure in Afghanistan

It is the same old Pharaohnic System that was behind the pagan Greek and Roman Empires, following the collapse of Ancient Egypt. The Greek and Roman religion was based on classical myths and legends.

Whatever mutations they go through: Pharaohnic, Greeco-Roman, Catholicism, Renaissance, Protestantism, Colonialism, Secularism, Democracy, Nationalism, Zionism, Communism, Cold War, New World Order, etc. it is still the same old battle between belief and disbelief. Each New Order strengthens them to fight Islam and prepares Palestine for their one-eyed leader.

The battle continues…

Let There Be NO Compulsion in Religion (Holy Quran 2:256)

“Invite (all) to the way of the Lord With wisdom and Beautiful preaching And argue with them in ways that are Best and most gracious” (Holy Quran)

Peace Be Upon All Of You

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

Press Freedom Index 2009

Obama effect in US, while Europe continues to recede

Israel in free fall, Iran at gates of infernal trio

“Press freedom must be defended everywhere in the world with the same energy and the same insistence,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said today as his organisation issued its eighth annual world press freedom index.

“It is disturbing to see European democracies such as France, Italy and Slovakia fall steadily in the rankings year after year,” Julliard said. “Europe should be setting an example as regards civil liberties. How can you condemn human rights violations abroad if you do not behave irreproachably at home? The Obama effect, which has enabled the United States to recover 20 places in the index, is not enough to reassure us.”

Reporters Without Borders compiles the index every year on the basis of questionnaires that are completed by hundreds of journalists and media experts around the world. This year’s index reflects press freedom violations that took place between 1 September 2008 and 31 August 2009.

Europea no longer an example?

Europe long set an example in press freedom but several European nations have fallen significantly in this year’s index. Even if the first 13 places are still held by European countries, others such as France (43rd), Slovakia (44th) and Italy (49th) continue their descent, falling eight, 37 and five places respectively. In so doing, they have given way to young democracies in Africa (Mali, South Africa and Ghana) and the western hemisphere (Uruguay and Trinidad and Tobago).

Journalists are still physically threatened in Italy and Spain (44th), but also in the Balkans, especially Croatia (78th), where the owner and marketing director of the weekly Nacional were killed by a bomb on 23 October 2008.

But the main threat, a more serious one in the long term, comes from new legislation. Many laws adopted since September 2008 have compromised the work of journalists. One adopted by Slovakia (44th) has introduced the dangerous concept of an automatic right of response and has given the culture minister considerable influence over publications.

Israel: operation media crackdown

Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s military offensive against the Gaza Strip, had an impact on the press. As regards its internal situation, Israel sank 47 places in the index to 93rd position. This nose-dive means it has lost its place at the head of the Middle Eastern countries, falling behind Kuwait (60th), United Arab Emirates (86th) and Lebanon (61st).

Israel has begun to use the same methods internally as it does outside its own territory. Reporters Without Borders registered five arrests of journalists, some of them completely illegal, and three cases of imprisonment. The military censorship applied to all the media is also posing a threat to journalists.

As regards its extraterritorial actions, Israel was ranked 150th. The toll of the war was very heavy. Around 20 journalists in the Gaza Strip were injured by the Israeli military forces and three were killed while covering the offensive.

Iran at gates of infernal trio

Journalists have suffered more than ever this year in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Iran. The president’s disputed reelection plunged the country into a major crisis and fostered regime paranoia about journalists and bloggers.

Automatic prior censorship, state surveillance of journalists, mistreatment, journalists forced to flee the country, illegal arrests and imprisonment — such is the state of press freedom this year in Iran.

Already at the lower end of the rankings in previous years, Iran has now reached the gates of the infernal trio at the very bottom — Turkmenistan (173rd), North Korea (174th) and Eritrea (175th) — where the media are so suppressed they are non-existent.

Obama effect brings US back into top 20

The United States has climbed 20 places in the rankings, from 40th to 20th, in just one year. Barack Obama’s election as president and the fact that he has a less hawkish approach than his predecessor have had a lot to do with this.

But this sharp rise concerns only the state of press freedom within the United States. President Obama may have been awarded the Nobel peace prize, but his country is still fighting two wars. Despite a slight improvement, the attitude of the United States towards the media in Iraq and Afghanistan is worrying. Several journalists were injured or arrested by the US military. One, Ibrahim Jassam, is still being held in Iraq.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Zenster said...

Denmark: Shooting Targets Hells Angels

Most recently in January, Sandberg was shot at close range while sitting in a city centre juice bar.

As Old Bill would say, "Therein lies the rub."

What use is it to pin any hope upon gangsters who may just as well be targets of gangland assassinations instead of Muslim hit contracts? More importantly:

How can you tell the difference?

It's all very well and comforting to think that these Nouvelle Riders of the Iron Horse™ might come to the aid of Western civilization, but there are relatively equal chances that their own outlaw activity will just as easily result in them being cut down by a hail of bullets from some competing criminal faction.

Who's to tell the difference if it was Muslim thugs or contending drug lords that are to blame?

None of this addresses the near absurdity of hoping that conventional political or law enforcement authorities will step into the yawning legal vacuum where the Hell's Angels seem to roam with such impunity.

The fact still remains that it is highly dubious to pin your hopes on one brand of thug over another.

Sean O'Brian said...

No link, but this a verbatim quote from tonight's London Evening Standard:

"A British nuclear scientist involved in disarmament talks with Iran killed himself by jumping 120ft from the 17th floor of the UN building in Vienna, police said today."