Saturday, January 30, 2010

Gates of Vienna News Feed 1/30/2010

Gates of Vienna News Feed 1/30/2010A recent survey of French popular opinion shows that 63% of the public are opposed to raising the retirement age to help the country cope with its pension crisis. Opponents of the proposal to raise the age beyond sixty believe that the current arrangement is an important part of French culture.

In other news, the Hamas leader Mahmoud al Mabhouh was traveling without bodyguards and under his real name when he was assassinated recently in the UAE. Hamas has vowed revenge against the Zionist entity.

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Fjordman, Frontinus, Insubria, JD, Steen, TB, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Financial Crisis
Italy: Italians Gloomy But Hopeful for Tomorrow
Obama Finds $20b in Cuts
Spain: Unions United, No Increase to Retirement Age
Confusion Re Supreme Court Ruling on Campaign Finance
Councilwoman Accused of Racist Muslim Comment
Disgraced Former Obama Czar Reemerges
Justice Alito Was Right
Obama and Scott Brown Are 10th Cousins
Europe and the EU
Dutch MP’s Trial Reminiscent of Reporter’s Post-9/11 Writings
Fiat: Govt ‘Has Had Seven Offers for Sicily Plant’
G8: Italy ‘Wasted’ Almost €330 Mln on Location Change
Italy: Ministers to Face Empty Seats at Inauguration of Judicial Year
Italy Lags for Justice Pace
Pensions: France; 63% of French Against Raising Age
Survivors of Auschwitz Escaped One Nightmare Only to Face Another Unimaginable Ordeal
The Swiss v Islam’s Bayonets
UK: Grandmother Disgusted at Filthy Hospital Nursed and Bathed Other Patients on Her Ward
UK: Scandal of GPs Refusing to Work Nights and Weekends That Claimed This Boy’s Life
UK: The Big Fat Lies About Britain’s Obesity Epidemic
‘Zionism’ Remarks Anger Sweden Jews
North Africa
Italy-Egypt: History of Italian Presence at Cairo Book Fair
Spain: Rabat Asks for Compensation for Civil War Fighters
TV: Tunisia: Only Digital-Ready TV Starting in March
Israel and the Palestinians
Gaza: Goldstone, Israel Presents Counter Report to UN
Middle East
Assassinated Al Mabhouh Travelled to UAE Without Bodyguards
Children of Armenia: A Forgotten Genocide and the Century-Long Struggle for Justice
Italy-Israel: Berlusconi Crucial Partner, But on Iran…
Turkey Leading Human Rights Violator, Says European Court
Turkey: Soldiers Will No Longer Guard Parliament Entrances
Turkey: Father Discovers Only One Twin is His Son Through DNA
Turkish Ambassador to Rome Under Internal Investigation
South Asia
Harassed, Intimidated, Abused: But Now Pakistan’s Hijra Transgender Minority Finds Its Voice
Latin America
Chavez: US ‘Tectonic Weapon’ Caused Haiti Quake
England is Where We All Want to End Up…
Italy: Police Arrest 10 Immigrants in North
Let Them Leave: Why Migration is the Best Solution for Haiti’s Recovery
Culture Wars
Italy: Senate Freezes Abortion Pill
IPCC Again Shown to be Liars!

Financial Crisis

Italy: Italians Gloomy But Hopeful for Tomorrow

Vast majority see link between immigration and crime

(ANSA) — Rome, January 29 — The global economic downturn has made Italians more pessimistic on the economic situation in Italy today but at the same time there is growing optimism for the future, according to this year’s report on the country from the Eurispes socio-economic think tank.

Compared to a similar study two years ago, Eurispes found that the percentage of Italians who thought the economic situation had gotten worse rose from 37.6% in 2008 to 47,1% in 2010.

However, the percentage who believed the situation would get better almost doubled, from 10.9% to 18.3%, reducing the percentage of Italians who saw a bleak future to 36.3%.

Another 37.5% of Italians said they think the economic situation will not significantly change either way over the next 12 months.

Italians salaries, Eurispes reported, are far below most in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) but tax pressure in Italy is among the highest in the 30-nation group.

Based on data from 2008, the average Italian salary was said to be $21,374, placing Italy in 23rd place and far below its European partners like Germany ($29,570), France ($26,010) and Spain ($24,632).

Although Italy’s salaries are low, Eurispes said tax pressure stood at 46.5%, for an employee with no dependents, placing it sixth in the 30-nation OECD. Despite having lower salaries, Eurispes found that fewer Italians were having problems making it to the end of the month, 48.4% compared to the 53.4% who said they had to tighten their belts .

There was also a decline this year in the percentage of Italians who saw significant increases in consumer prices, from 83.4% in the 2009 Eurispes report to 56.8%. According to the 2010 study, 88.9% of Italians saw noticeable increases in prices for food, 86.3% for fuel, 74.9% for clothing and footwear, 74.3% for health costs and 66.7 for rents. Eurispes also calculated that single-person households in Italy rose 10.4% over the past three years, based on a seven-year trend set from 2001 to 2007.

Single-person households were said to be 32.1% of the total in the northwest, 20.5% in the northeast, 19.5% in central Italy and 17.6% in the south. People living alone were found to be more likely to be employed with 69.2% holding jobs and unemployment running at only 4.3%, compared to a national average for 2007 of 6.1%, a 14-year low. While another 25.6% of singles were retired and only 0.9% were drawing unemployment compensation, 53% of people living had permanent jobs, 28.1% were self-employed were and only 18.9% had term contracts or part-time employment.


Looking at Italian society, Eurispes reported that 60% of Italians believe immigration has raised crime rates, with over 51% of Italians who described themselves as liberal acknowledging a relationship between immigrants and crime compared to 75% of conservatives.

Around a third of Italians fear foreign residents could spread disease, slightly less thought they threatened Italy’s cultural identity and just under a quarter said they were taking jobs from Italians. However, over 86% said foreign residents perform jobs Italians don’t want and 59% said they represent a source of cultural enrichment for the country.

In a section dedicated to crime, the report said that, based on data for 2008, mafia killings accounted for one in five of all homicides. Eurispes put the number of mafia-related deaths that year at over 106, with over half of them at the hands of the violent Camorra crime syndicate in the Campania area around Naples. Around 29% of the killings were connected to the increasingly powerful ‘Ndrangheta in Calabria, which is now considered the most insidious of Italy’s mafias, and some 24% attributed to the Cosa Nostra in Sicily, while 20% were linked to the Sacra Corona Unita in Puglia.

On the controversial issues of displaying crucifixes in classrooms and public buildings, Eurispes found that Italians had not changed their minds on the Christian symbol since 2006, with 60% still in favor of leaving them in place and over 50% opposed a recent European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling ordering their removal.

The 2010 Eurispes study also reported that workplace and road accidents cost Italian taxpayers 72 billion euros every year, amounting to 4.6% of the country’s gross domestic product.

Workplace and street accidents cost Italian taxpayers 72 billion euros every year, amounting to 4.6% of the country’s gross domestic product, while car and motorbike accidents racked up 28 billion euros in road rescue, medical bills and other service costs.

Other findings in the Eurispes report included that about one third of Italians took out a bank loan over the past three years, more parents were sending their children to private school and one out of three Italians drink alcohol.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Obama Finds $20b in Cuts

Twenty billion “dollars.” Cheers and shouting can be heard across the land! The Washington establishment elites believe we are all idiots so they feed us this kind of drivel.

The national debt is created by Congress borrowing from the privately owned Federal Reserve. Congress rents their fiat currency and the interest is the fruits of our labor.

On January 28, 2010, the interest we all ‘owe’ to this cabal was:


What that means is the people’s purse, the U.S. Treasury, is over drawn $12.4 TRILLION dollars.

By what means shall this $20 billion be saved?

“One of the proposals would eliminate the “Advanced Earned Income Tax Credit,” which allows eligible taxpayers with children to get a portion of the a tax credit paid out in their paychecks throughout the year.

“The White House said only 514,000 people — 3 percent of those eligible — claimed the credit and the error rate for the program was high, with 80 percent of recipients not complying with one or more of the program’s requirements.

“This ineffective and prone-to-error program should be eliminated,” White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said in the statement.”

I wonder what the total cost in man hours for government payroll has been during the duration of that program that has been found to be “ineffective” and “error prone”?

Right now, you and I ‘owe’ $112,998.00 to the banking cartel for the interest on the debt created by both parties. If you’ve never seen how the interest racks up, it will make you sick:

[Return to headlines]

Spain: Unions United, No Increase to Retirement Age

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JANUARY 29 — The most important unions in Spain, Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) and Union General de Trabajadores (UGT), are unified in their opposition against a government proposal to raise the pensionable age from 65 to 67, which will be approved today by the Council of Ministers. CCOO union boss Ignacio Fernandez Toxo, in statements to the media called the measure “unnecessary and unfair” and “tries to frighten society”. According to Toxo, the social security system “is in excellent health” and it is only necessary to “incentivise those who voluntarily decide to delay their retirement”, since the increase to the age of 67 penalises younger workers, women and immigrants on the job market, since these groups are hit harder by unemployment. UGT union secretary Candido Mendez, in statements to Radio Cadena Ser, said that this is a “very controversial proposal” and is “probably a short term measure to satisfy the financial markets” to contain negative forecasts on the Spanish economy by international groups and credit rating agencies. According to the IMF, Spain is the only developed country that will not come out of its recession in 2010, with negative GDP growth of 0.6%, and only in 2011 will it move into a timid recovery, with GDP growth of 0.9%. Faced with dramatic unemployment data, which in 2009 reached record numbers of 4,326,500 people, or 18.83% of the active population, Labour Minister Celestino Corbacho, who is also the leader of the EU Informal Council of Labour Ministers in Barcelona, defended the government plan. The measure will be applied starting in 2013, with a progressive increase of two months per year until reaching the age of 67 in 2025. According to Corbacho, “pensions are not at risk in the next ten years, but if we do not do anything,” he said, “they will be in the next 20 years”. The proposal will be passed today by the council of ministers, and will then be discussed by the unions and brought to Parliament for approval. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Confusion Re Supreme Court Ruling on Campaign Finance

Have received quite a few emails since Obama/Soetoro gave his State of the Union address regarding the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The headlines splashed ‘Alito mouths not true’ and he was right. Obama/Soetoro lied. Every time he opens his mouth he lies. I expect nothing else because I knew what that hustler was all about long before the pretend election.

[Return to headlines]

Councilwoman Accused of Racist Muslim Comment

PALMDALE, Calif. (KABC) — A diverse group of Antelope Valley religious and political leaders are asking for Lancaster City Councilwoman Sherry Marquez, to apologize for what she wrote on her Facebook page about Muslims.

“Why this is of such great concern is that it isn’t something that was said to somebody or was overheard on an open microphone. It is because it went on the World Wide Web,” said Valerie Elliott of the Antelope Valley Interfaith Council.

A portion of what Marquez wrote on her Facebook page after reading a story about a Buffalo New York man accused of beheading his wife reads, “This is what the Muslim religion is all about. The beheadings, honor killings are just the beginning of what is to come in the U.S.A. We are told this is a small majority of Muslims in America, but it is truly what they are all about.”

“We need her apology to come from the heart, and that comes with education,” said Kamal Al-Khatib of the American Islamic Institute of A.V.

Marquez has her supporters. She was elected to the Lancaster City Council in 2008.

“Maybe she shouldn’t have commented on what she said. Maybe it was taken out of context.” said Ron Spears, a Lancaster resident. “It is just Facebook, and I’m sure she doesn’t want to offend any people. The more that I read about her, I’m sure she does not hate Muslim people in general.”

Marquez denied requests for interviews by Eyewitness News. Instead, she referred to a statement she read at a Tuesday night city council meeting.

“My reaction to that has now affected those and the city and to you. I apologize. I was, Saturday morning, and am still very disturbed every time I read about these horrific crimes against women and young girls. I will continue to voice my opinion and speak out about it,” she stated at the meeting.

While one group says that they’ll continue to ask Marquez to apologize to the Antelope Valley’s religious community, they have convinced the councilwoman to remove the statements from her Facebook page

           — Hat tip: Frontinus[Return to headlines]

Disgraced Former Obama Czar Reemerges

Communist-group founder to address world’s leading corporations

Van Jones, President Obama’s controversial former “green jobs” czar, is slated to address a major environmental forum next week alongside speakers from such major corporations as Microsoft, IBM, Yahoo, Intel, Best Buy and the Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

Jones resigned in September after it was exposed he founded a communist revolutionary organization and signed a statement that accused the Bush administration of possible involvement in the 9/11 attacks. Jones also called for “resistance” against the U.S. government.


Jones has not remained in the background since stepping down from his White House position.

White House still listening to Jones’ advice

WND reported Jones serves on the advisory board of an independent environmental organization actively working with the White House.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Justice Alito Was Right

By Judge Andrew P. Napolitano

Despite claims made by the president, last week’s Supreme Court opinion on campaign finance specifically excludes foreign nationals and foreign-owned corporations from its ruling.

You can read the court’s full ruling here:

[Return to headlines]

Obama and Scott Brown Are 10th Cousins

According to the New England Historic Genealogical Society, the president and Brown are 10th cousins. The group said Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, and Brown’s mother, Judith Ann Rugg, are both descendants of Richard Singletary of Haverhill. Singletary died in 1687 when he was 102 years old.

Obama’s family is descended from Singletary’s oldest son, Jonathan, who changed his surname to Dunham. Brown’s family can be traced to Nathaniel Singletary, Jonathan’s brother, the group said in a press release issued today.

Brown won a surprise victory for the open Massachusetts Senate seat earlier this month, breaking the Democratic grip on the Senate and forcing Obama to rewrite his political agenda.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Dutch MP’s Trial Reminiscent of Reporter’s Post-9/11 Writings


As the trial of Dutch MP Geert Wilders for offending Muslims unfolds in Amsterdam, I am reminded of Oriana Fallaci’s post-9/11 writings on how she saw Europe wasted from within by the alien cultural force of Islam.

Fallaci was a fearless journalist and author. And though critics faulted her for intemperate language, especially when it came to writing about Islam, Wilders’ trial might well confirm her fears about Europe and the West were not misplaced.

In 2006, Fallaci published The Force of Reason in the U.S. This was a translation from Italian of her hugely successful book La Forza della Ragione, published in 2004, which followed her previous bestseller, The Rage and the Pride, written in the aftermath of 9/11.

In The Force of Reason, Fallaci wrote: “And there is a Europe which does not know where it goes. Which has lost its identity and sold itself to the sultans, the caliphs, the viziers, the mercenaries of the new Ottoman Empire.”

Italian authorities would indict Fallaci with similar charges as brought against Wilders. She was eager to testify at her trial, to turn her indictment against the authorities. But the case never got to court before her death in 2006 at age 77.

Great courage

Fallaci attributed her understanding of Europe’s fate in part to the writings of another woman of great courage. In Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide and Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis, Bat Ye’or, a Jewess born in Egypt and forced into exile, documented the recent history of Europe’s partnership with Arab states.

This Euro-Arab relationship has meant increased sensitivity in European capitals and among its political-intellectual elite for Arab-Islamic politics and culture. It is this sensitivity as political correctness that is on display at the Wilders’ trial.

But this sensitivity also inhibits the political-intellectual elite in Europe and North America from discussing the outrageousness of putting on trial Wilders, or anyone else, for speaking and writing on matters that might offend Muslims.

The demand by Europe’s officialdom — Canada’s officialdom is on the same page — that “free speech” must also meet the requirements of “responsible speech” when the subject is Islam is tantamount to repudiating Europe’s history that made her the cradle of the modern world of science and democracy.

The Wilders trial is indicative of Europe’s bleak future, as Fallaci had warned. This trial amounts to appeasing official Islam, which has demanded “defamation of religions,” according to a resolution adopted in the UN General Assembly in March 2008, be prohibited.

Moreover, in trying Wilders, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal has conceded space to the Islamists by accommodating, in practical terms, their demand for acceptance of Shariah (Islamic law) within secular society.


This can only mean abandoning those Muslims, especially women, who escaped from Islamic countries seeking freedom. They will become vulnerable once again to Islamists enforcing Shariah rule inside enclaves where Muslims reside within Europe.

And a Europe that appeases official Islam, while punishing its critics, will also be uncaring about the struggle for reform inside the Arab-Muslim world as in Iran. Such a Europe, as Fallaci so passionately raged against, will be then sliding into a new dark age.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Fiat: Govt ‘Has Had Seven Offers for Sicily Plant’

Rome, 29 Jan. (AKI) — Italian car giant Fiat has received seven offers for its plant in Termini Imerese, Sicily, Italy’s industry minister Claudio Scajola said on Friday. He was opening crucial talks in Rome with Fiat and trade union officials over plans to close the factory this year and temporarily shut down several plants next month.

“So far, we have had seven proposals on Termini Imerese. But we are evaluating their content carefully before we agree to any requests for talks on these,” said Scajola.

“We hope that Termini Imerese continues to produce cars,” he said.

A total 1,300 workers are expected to lose their jobs when the Termini Imerese factory is closed at the end of the year.

Although the tiny plant — Fiat’s smallest factory — is losing money, political and union leaders want it to remain operating, given its importance to the under-developed Sicilian economy.

Scajola described as “inopportune” Fiat’s announcement on Tuesday that it would close six car plants, including its main plant in the northern city of Turin, from 22 February until 7 March, laying off 30,000 workers.

Trade unions have sharply criticised the planned layoffs. Fiat announced these days after it reported an 800 million euro loss in 2009 and a 26 percent fall in car sales in the last quarter.

Italy is emerging from its worst economic slump in 60 years.

“The government is expecting answers from Fiat on its proposals for all its factories….we want to know what contribution it can make to new prospects for car production,” Scajola said

Scajola has convened a fresh round of talks on 5 February.

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

G8: Italy ‘Wasted’ Almost €330 Mln on Location Change

Rome, 28 Jan.(AKI) — Italy spent 327 million euros in preparations for the Group of Eight summit on the island of Maddalena near Sardinia it was abruptly transferred to the mainland last year, according to the Italian daily, La Repubblica.

Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was moved to the quake-stricken city of L’Aquila in act of solidarity with the victims and held there in July.

According to La Repubblica, the move meant that several buildings including a former military base that was turned into a compound for leaders including US President Barack Obama were abandoned.

A luxury hotel, one of the biggest projects inside the compound was close to completion before the move.

The hotel cost 75 million euros, or 742,000 euros per room, to construct and is yet to be completed, La Repubblica said.

Most of the development was funded by the region of Sardinia, according to the daily.

About 1,200 construction workers were employed at the building sites, which appear to have created no permanent jobs.

With less than three months to go before the arrival of world leaders including Obama, Berlusconi announced that the G-8 meeting would be transferred to the region of Abruzzo after it was devastated by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake in April.

The three-day international summit of the world’s wealthiest countries was held in July near L’Aquila which was largely levelled by the quake.

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

Italy: Ministers to Face Empty Seats at Inauguration of Judicial Year

Magistrates association (ANM): “No to personalised laws and no to insults to magistrates”. Justice minister says: “They have ruined a day that is for ordinary citizens

ROME— Magistrates all over Italy will take action after agreeing to a hard-hitting form of protest. Justice minister Angelino Alfano and his representatives will be speaking to empty chairs at Saturday’s inauguration of the judicial year. It is a very visible way of expressing “concern at legislation currently under way” and saying no to “personalised laws that destroy the judicial system”.

CONSTITUTION AND REPORT — At the ceremonies to be held at all appeal court districts, magistrates will be carrying a copy of the Italian constitution to “symbolise their strong attachment to the judicial function and the constitution”. They will leave the hall when the minister or ministry representative is due to speak in order to “testify to their concern at legislation currently under way, which threatens to destroy justice in Italy, and at the absence of initiatives necessary to ensure the efficiency of the system”. Magistrates will return at the end of the speech. Presidents of local branches of ANM, the magistrates’ association, will then read a document drafted by the central executive council (“No more laws without reason or coherence, designed exclusively for individual judicial processes, and which have brought criminal justice in this country to its knees. No more insults or attacks”). After this, presidents will hold up a copy of the report “Europe’s Truth about Italian Magistrates”, which will be handed to the president of the appeal court. Copies of the report will be distributed to all those present. Following the ceremony, each local executive will hold a media briefing at which the ANM document and the report will be presented and problems specific to each district explained.

REACTIONS — Politicians reacted to news of the magistrates’ decision. The People of Freedom’s (PDL) national coordinator, Sandro Bondi, said the initiative was “a profound, outrageous infringement of the democratic and constitutional order. A clear stance on the part of all institutions to safeguard legitimate democratic prerogatives is now a matter of urgency”. In contrast, the Italy of Values (IDV) group leader in the Senate, Massimo Donadi, referred to “a just protest at a disgraceful law. Alfano has shown on a thousand occasions that he is not the minister of justice. He is Berlusconi’s anti-magistracy commissioner”.

ALFANO — Later on, the justice minister replied: “I am the minister of justice, I serve my country and I have sworn on the constitution. Unlike those who are going to follow ANM’s short-sighted suggestions, I will be present at the inauguration of the judicial year at the Supreme Court of Cassation, in the presence of the president of the republic”, announced Angelino Alfano, the justice minister, in a note. Mr Alfano continued: “Similarly, I will be going tomorrow to the appeal court at L’Aquila, where the justice service has started to function brilliantly again after the earthquake, thanks to the efforts of the institutions and of many public servants. Instead of inaugurating the judicial year, ANM has decided to inaugurate an election campaign in view of the upcoming vote for the magistracy’s ruling council, the CSM, which will be held in the spring. ANM has opted to ruin a day that is about Italian citizens and their right to justice. The image ANM is offering of itself does not coincide with the image and sense of ethics of the thousands of magistrates who every morning serve Italy and the institutions they represent”.

English translation by Giles Watson

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

Italy Lags for Justice Pace

‘Stealth tax’ on business says top judge

(ANSA) — Rome, January 29 — Italy lags far behind its European competitors because of its snail-paced justice system which puts “a stealth tax” on businesses of some 2.3 billion euros a year, Cassation Court President Vincenzo Carbone said Friday.

Italy was 150th of 181 countries in the latest World Bank rankings of justice speed, below countries like Angola, Gabon and Guinea, Carbone told dignitaries including Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Premier Silvio Berlusconi at a ceremony marking the start of the judicial year.

Over the last year, he said, “all the European countries showed slight progress while in Italy it still takes 1,210 days to get a loan back,” he said.

On average, civil cases took 1,000 days to get under way and too many years to be completed, he said, noting that trials were slower in the south than in the north.

Italy also had “too many lawyers,” he said, pointing out that there were 26.4 lawyers per judge in Italy compared to 7.1 in France, 6.9 in Germany and 3.2 in the UK. Carbone rapped prosecutors for appearing “too often” on talk shows but said Italian judges worked “very hard”.

He said that while reforms were needed to streamline the system, these must not be dictated by “cases in the news”.

Noting that there had been 79 justice laws over the last 20 years, “or one every three months,” Carbone said political intervention had too often taken place “without worrying about damage to the system, which needs stability if it is to work”.

While judicial reform was urgently required, he stressed that the wheels of Italian justice were also gummed up by “an abuse of appeals, a lack of filters, an excessive number of lawyers and a lack of alternatives to trial”.

Carbone said judicial costs could be radically cut by redrafting the “19th-century” map of judicial districts, a reform which was “urgently” needed.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Pensions: France; 63% of French Against Raising Age

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, JANUARY 29 — A survey has found that 63% of French people oppose the idea of raising the legal age for receiving the state pension from 60, considering it to be a social-security achievement from which “it would be a mistake to turn back”. Carried out by the BVA Institute on behalf of the French daily Les Echos and for Radio France Info, the survey found that only 34% of those interviewed believed that the raising of the age represented an opportunity, given the trend of increasing longevity. Some 3% of those interviewed said they had no opinion on the matter: a low figure. Pension reform is shaping up to be one of the main points on the 2010 agenda. President Nicolas Sarkozy’s right-wing party is aiming to increase the age at which pensions become payable beyond the threshold of 60, but is facing stiff opposition from the Left. Having become effective in 1982, the reduction of the age to 60 was a symbolic reform of Francois Mitterand socialist tenure. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Survivors of Auschwitz Escaped One Nightmare Only to Face Another Unimaginable Ordeal

Although some Holocaust survivors truly found joy after being freed from Auschwitz, for many it was a very different story — and one that most definitely does not offer us a happy ending.

A story of abuse, rape, theft and terrible betrayal.

For a start, despite being friendly to the victims, the Russians were strangely unaffected by what they saw at Auschwitz.

Indeed, the liberation was hardly reported in the Soviet Press — on February 2, 1945, there was a small report in Pravda, but hardly the coverage you would imagine.

One reason is that many of the Soviet soldiers who first arrived at Auschwitz had themselves endured horrors beyond imagining on the Eastern Front.


Another factor was that the Soviets wanted to make political capital out of the death camps.

Their Marxist propaganda downplayed the suffering of the Jews — even though out of the 1,100,000 people killed at Auschwitz, 1,000,000 were Jews — in order to claim that the murder factory was an example of fascist capitalism’s exploitation of expendable workers.

In Soviet minds, there was little suggestion that this was genocide, no real belief that the souls they had liberated deserved special sympathy.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Swiss v Islam’s Bayonets

By James Neilson

To the dismay of all right-thinking people in Europe, the backward Swiss still cling to the old-fashioned custom of letting ordinary folk influence government policy. The fruits of such irresponsibility were made unpleasantly plain a couple of weeks ago when a majority voted in a referendum to ban the construction of more minarets in their country. Their objections had little to do with architecture. As Turkey ‘s Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had helpfully explained to them: “The minarets are our bayonets, the domes our helmets, the mosques our barracks and the faithful our army.” Seeing most Swiss dislike the idea of being stabbed in the guts by the soldiers of what to them is an alien creed, the desire of 57 percent of those who took part in the referendum to keep Erdogan’s “bayonets” out of sight was not that surprising.

Nor was it that in a series of polls improvised by newspapers elsewhere in Europe the majorities in favour of banning minarets were even bigger than in Switzerland. “Islamization” is now a hot issue everywhere from the northernmost tip of Norway to the southern coast of Crete. It is not a matter of racism as apologists for the status quo would have it: hardly anyone gets worked up by the presence of Chinese, Hindus or Sikhs. On the contrary, they are regarded as model immigrants. It is entirely to do with the aggressive refusal of too many members of one particular creed to make any attempt to assimilate. Like European colonists of yesteryear, Muslims in Europe seem determined to impose their own beliefs and their own cultural mores on the natives, many of whom feel they have been betrayed by their respective governments.

Ironically, the main reason European leaders opted to open the doors to indiscriminate mass immigration was the horror and shame so many felt for letting the holocaust happen. They told themselves that religious and ethnic prejudice led inevitably to genocide so it was wrong to pick and choose, admitting people they thought could adapt to the host society and rejecting those who in all probability would refuse to do so. The upshot was that an astoundingly creative minority was replaced by another whose contributions have, one might say, been mixed. Plenty of individual Muslims have proved to be fine upstanding citizens, but on the whole the large communities they have formed have been exceedingly troublesome and, for the welfare services, hugely expensive. When asked by reporters just why they had voted to ban minarets, many Swiss said they did not want their country to go the way of the UK, France, Belgium and Holland where street riots, terrorist threats, and the “honour killings” of women for breaking ancestral codes of conduct have become routine.

As was to be expected, government spokesmen in such bastions of religious freedom as Turkey , Saudi Arabia , Libya , etc, harshly condemned the Swiss. In most of the Muslim world, anyone rash enough to try to build a church or synagogue who manages to overcome the countless bureaucratic and legal hurdles is liable to be torn apart by an enraged mob, but because they are convinced that theirs is the only true faith, that minor detail did not impress them in the slightest. Their Western sympathizers could also insist that everyone should be true to his own principles, meaning that mosques, minarets, burqas and promises to decapitate anyone who speaks ill of the prophet Muhammad or his legacy should be tolerated in Europe and the Americas, but it would be most unreasonable to demand that Muslim countries treated Christians, Jews and Hindus with similar respect. For now at least, there is little chance that the Europeans will prohibit the establishment of mosques in their countries until Saudi Arabia permits the building of churches and synagogues throughout the kingdom, without excluding such “holy cities” as Mecca.

It is now widely agreed that multiculturalism, the notion that all ways of life and belief systems are equally valid and that providing Europeans make amends for their criminal past everyone can live happily together, was a big mistake. Unless people take some pride in their own achievements and those of their forefathers, societies will be in no shape to accommodate newcomers who reject out of hand the multicultural pieties because they know perfectly well that their own traditions are superior to all others. Unfortunately, it took several decades for awareness of that disquieting truth to sink in, decades in which the European Union acquired an intolerant minority that is already about 20 million-strong, with over 50 million in Europe as a whole, and which enjoys the enthusiastic support of oil-rich countries in the Middle East and North Africa whose leaders have no qualms when it comes to making use of their economic leverage. As far back as 1974, the Algerian leader Hoauri Boumédienne said Islam would conquer Europe “through the wombs of our women,” a promise that since then has been echoed frequently by his Libyan neighbour Muammar Khaddafy. Just how the resulting drama will play out is anybody’s guess; if the history of Europe, India and many other places is any guide, the conflicts to come between the native population and those who openly aspire to replace them will not be pretty.

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

UK: Grandmother Disgusted at Filthy Hospital Nursed and Bathed Other Patients on Her Ward

A grandmother was so disgusted by the filthy conditions and neglect on a hospital ward that she bathed and cared for the patients herself.

Janet Halsall, 74, was admitted to Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, for three days to have a scan on her liver, when she was shocked to see staff repeatedly ignore pleas for help and leave fellow elderly patients to ‘fend for themselves’.

The kind-hearted pensioner was so appalled by the conditions in the hospital that she bathed, washed and tucked in the frail elderly patients herself.

The grandmother-of-seven said fellow patients were distressed after being left without water, and when she went to the pantry to clean their glasses, she found it in a ‘disgusting state’.

When one elderly lady got no help after repeatedly complaining to staff she was cold, Mrs Halsall was moved to search a store cupboard for a blanket.

The former hairdresser even washed and bathed one lady who needed help to clean herself and took another pensioner to the toilet after staff continually ignored her requests because they were ‘too busy’.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Scandal of GPs Refusing to Work Nights and Weekends That Claimed This Boy’s Life

It was a nightmare that would be made all the more ghastly because of the fact that Joseph’s death had been avoidable.

His parents had sought medical help for their son, who had tonsillitis. Joseph was prescribed antibiotics, but when he started to vomit and had diarrhoea, Mr Seevaraj phoned for further help.

Because it was a Sunday, he could not talk to the family doctor. Instead, he was connected to the out-of-hours service and was put through to a German-trained medic.

The locum doctor, who Mr Seevaraj claims struggled to understand what was being said to him, told him there was nothing to worry about and that, no, it wasn’t necessary to bring in the child for further treatment.

Mr Seevaraj followed that advice — and the following morning woke to find that his son was dead.

An inquest would later hear that had Joseph been taken to hospital, then the septicaemia that claimed his life could have been treated.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: The Big Fat Lies About Britain’s Obesity Epidemic

We are doing approximately 25 per cent more exercise than we were in 1997.

But are our waist lines shrinking? No. In fact, a quick glance around most High Streets would suggest the opposite is happening — with even young girls displaying ‘muffin tops’.

This ‘spare tyre’ of abdominal fat is an accurate indicator of future health problems, such as Type 2 diabetes.

So what is really behind this obesity epidemic? I’ll tell you.

We’re following Government advice on how and what to eat, but that advice is so wrong it is actually making us fatter.

The endless message of ‘eat less, do more’ has never been proven using proper clinical trials.

And we’ve only started to get really fat since governments started promoting the current low-fat health messages, back in the early Nineties.

I’m a lawyer by training and I became convinced that the rise in obesity must be partly due to bad guidance. So I set out to look at the research studies on which government advice is based.

What I found has shocked me.

The Government’s Food Standards Agency (FSA), among others, is pumping out a template of a balanced diet that is based on flawed science that I believe is responsible for thousands of people developing health problems.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

‘Zionism’ Remarks Anger Sweden Jews

CAIRO — The mayor of Sweden’s third most populous city of Malmo has angered the Jewish community in the Scandinavian country for equating Zionism to extremism.

“These statements and other events in Malmo are making the Jewish community feel very uncomfortable,” George Braun, a Swedish Jewish leader, told Haaretz on Friday, January 29.

“Some people, especially the young, are leaving the city.”

Malmo mayor Ilmar Reepalu on Wednesday described Zionism as a form of ‘unacceptable extremism’.

“We accept neither Zionism nor anti-Semitism,” Reepalu told a local newspaper.

“They are extremes who put themselves above other groups, seeing others as something lesser.”

Zionism is an international political movement that spearheaded the creation of a homeland for the Jewish People in Palestine.

On April 18, 1948, Palestinian Tiberius was captured by Menachem Begin’s Irgun militant group, putting its 5,500 Palestinian residents in flight. On April 22, Haifa fell to the Zionist militants and 70,000 Palestinians fled.

On April 25, Irgun began bombarding civilian sectors of the Palestinian city of Jaffa — the largest city in Palestine at that time, terrifying the 750,000 inhabitants into panicky flight.

On May 14, the day before the creation of Israel, Jaffa completely surrendered to the much better-equipped Zionist militants and only about 4,500 of its population remained.

Israel was created on the rubble of Palestine on May 15, 1948.

Slamming Israel

Jewish leaders accused the Malmo mayor of discrimination, lashing out at his criticism of the deadly Israeli war in Gaza.

“Reepalu does not address other communities in a similar manner and his words constitute discrimination against local Jews,” Charlotte Wiberg of the Swedish Committee against Anti-Semitism told Yediot Aharonot.

“Reepalu chose not to show solidarity with Jews facing danger in Malmo, but rather, with the people who wish to marginalize a religious group because of Israel’s policy.”

In his interview, the Swedish mayor urged the Malmo Jews to disassociate themselves from Israeli assaults in Gaza.

“I wish the Jewish Community would distance itself from Israel’s violations of the rights of the civilian population in Gaza,” he said.

The mayor also criticized demonstrations by local Jews in support of last year’s Israeli war in Gaza.

“I wish that representatives of Muslims in Malmo would clearly say that the Jews in Malmo shouldn’t be mixed up in the Israel-Palestine conflict.”

At least 1,400 Palestinians were killed and thousands injured when Israel launched a three-week deadly onslaught in Gaza in late 2008.

The onslaught wrecked havoc on the infrastructure of the densely-populated Gaza enclave, leaving some 20,000 homes and thousands other buildings in ruins.

A UN fact-finding committee headed by world-renowned judge Richard Goldstone, a Jew, accused Israel of committing war crimes during the Gaza war.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Italy-Egypt: History of Italian Presence at Cairo Book Fair

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, JANUARY 29 — The paper was called the Egyptian Messenger, (‘Il Messaggero Egizianò), formerly ‘Lloyd Egiziano’ and it issued regular editions between 1876 and 1930. Now its yellowed pages, some of the documents on show in the Italian Pavilion at the 42nd Cairo Book Fair, tell the story of modern Italy’s presence in Egypt. Opening the pavilion, Ambassador Claudio Pacifico spoke of how the presence had been an active one, committed on the economic and business fronts as well as on those of culture and archaeology, providing the background to the close bonds which made Italy Egypt’s first European partner and one of its first in the world. The exhibition begins its documentation with a precious 17th century book by Athanasius Kircher, a Jesuit who lived in Rome and was the first to uncover the links between the Egyptian and Coptic languages, and it closes with the birth certificate of Giuseppe Ungaretti, born in Alexandria in 1888. But it is also flanked by the show dedicated to 140 years of the Suez Canal, with documentation of Italian involvement in the great work, from the planning stages (with Luigi Negrelli) to those of construction under director of works Edoardo Gioia. There is also an anastatic reprint of the book by Luigi Antonio Balboni ‘Gli Italiani nella Civilta’ Egiziana del secolo XIX’, (Italian Contributions to 19th Century Egyptian Civilisation) edited by the Italian Embassy and the Italian Cultural Institute of Cairo. The Italian Pavilion is also being attended by the country’s Foreign Minister as well as by the ministers for Youth and Culture, representatives of both Houses, of the Lazio and Apulia regions as well as of foundations, banking and cultural institutions, and the Rome Chamber of Commerce. Italy will continue to participate in the Fair, which this year has Russia as its guest of honour, until it ends on February 7. There are to be several debates, including one on journalism and the Internet with the writer Beppe Severgnini, who was one of the speakers at yesterday’s meeting at the American University. This evening’s highlight are the ‘Solisti Veneti’ in a concert at the Cairo Opera House. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: Rabat Asks for Compensation for Civil War Fighters

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JANUARY 29 — Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Taib Fasi Fihri, asked the Spanish government to give Moroccan soldiers who participated in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and their families compensation for the damages they suffered. “Morocco invites Spain to read our shared history with different eyes, with serenity and without prejudice, following a scientific method to shed light on the dark areas”, Fasi Fihri stated yesterday before the Moroccan parliament. According to the minister, the Moroccans who fought in the Spanish conflict which put brother against brother are estimated at somewhere between 100,000 and 130,000 by the government in Rabat, while Spanish sources say that the number is just 80,000. There were at least 9,000 children among those recruited, according to what Fasi Fihri claimed. Currently 2,000 of the former soldiers are still alive and reside in the northern provinces of Morocco and in Western Sahara, according to estimations made by the Moroccan Association for Veteran Fighters. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

TV: Tunisia: Only Digital-Ready TV Starting in March

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JANUARY 29 — Starting on March 1, the sale of television sets that are incompatible with digital terrestrial TV will be prohibited, reports infotunisie website, which specified that “this decision is part of a plan to migrate towards digital television and to be in tune with the innovations and changes in global technology.” Infotunisie pointed out that there has been a ban on “television imports (plasma, LCD and CRT television sets) that are not equipped with a digital tuner since January 1 2010”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Gaza: Goldstone, Israel Presents Counter Report to UN

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, JANUARY 29 — A 40-page counter report, deposited at the UN, in response to accusations of war crimes contained in the document written in recent months by the commission led by the South African judge, Richard Goldstone, on the military offensive Cast Lead that took place one year ago. This is the defensive move formalised today by Israel to justify the operations of the country’s servicemen in the three weeks of strikes carried out in the Gaza Strip (in the hands of the radical Islamic Palestinians, Hamas) between December 28, 2008, and January 18, 2009: a conflict launched with the declared intention of putting an end to the recurrent rocket launches by Hamas militia against the south of Israel and which concluded with a death toll of 14 Israelis and 1,400 Palestinians (amongst whom hundreds of civilians). The report, confirmed Defence Minister Ehud Barak from Tel Aviv, is addressed to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and was handed to New York after the approval of the government and the finishing touches by Premier Benyamin Netanyahu. It responds synthetically, but point by point, to the criticism contained in the Goldstone tirade of over 1,000 pages, which is not lacking in criticism of Hamas but is extremely severe in regard to Israel. Using documents and photos, the Israeli text contests in particular the credibility of testimonies collected by the South African judge and by other members of the UN Commission in the Gaza Strip, while it denies any episodes of deliberate firing on civilians. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Assassinated Al Mabhouh Travelled to UAE Without Bodyguards

DAMASCUS // Mahmoud al Mabhouh was without his bodyguards when he was murdered in his Dubai hotel room, having travelled to the Emirates under his real name, officials in Hamas’s Syrian headquarters revealed yesterday.

The officials confirmed that al Mabhouh, a leading member of Hamas’s military wing, was a key arms supplier for the group, and was in the UAE on “a mission” when he was killed, possibly by Israeli agents.

No further information about the purpose of his trip was given, other than it was expected to last a few days and that al Mabhouh had taken the unprecedented step of travelling without a security detail. Hamas has now launched a review of internal security, the officials said.

Rather than using a passport with an assumed identity, al Mabhouh booked his ticket under his real name. “He has five passports, one of them with his real name the other with different names, and this time he travelled under his actual identity,” said Talal Nasser, a senior spokesman for Hamas in Damascus. “He has travelled to Dubai many times before in this way without any problems.”

As a senior member of Hamas’s military faction, the Ezzedine al Qassam Brigades, al Mabhouh would typically be accompanied by security guards, Mr Nasser said, but had failed to do so on this occasion because no reservations had been made for them with the airline. “Everywhere he goes he takes bodyguards but there was no booking for them on this flight, so he travelled alone,” Mr Nasser explained. “The guards were due to follow him on the next available flight the following day.”

Al Mabhouh, who lived with his family in Damascus, flew to Dubai on January 19. He was murdered in the Al Bustan Rotana on January 20.

According to Hamas, citing information it said it received from Dubai authorities, he was electrocuted while walking in the hotel corridor, dragged into his room, and then strangled.

“We are now very carefully studying our security plans for all senior figures, we are reviewing all our measures to make sure that we are as well protected as possible,” Mr Nasser said.

“We do not have all of the details yet but maybe he [al Mabhouh] made a telephone call about his plans from a mobile that was intercepted.”

Mr Nasser added: “It is also standard for airlines to fax advance notice of their passengers, so that may have given the assassins a chance.”

Dubai’s police chief, Lt Gen Dahu Khalfan Tamim, confirmed that al Mabhouh had entered the country on a passport bearing his real name.

While involvement of Mossad, Israel’s overseas security agency, had not been ruled out as part of the ongoing investigation, Lt Gen Tamim said his officers were “pursuing individual suspects, not an organisation”.

“We know everything about the suspects’ identity due to the strong evidence they left behind, and we will contact several countries which are connected to the suspects to provide us with all the necessary information,” he said.

In a statement issued on Friday, the Dubai authorities said the suspects were mostly European passport holders and members of an “experienced criminal gang” who had been monitoring al Mabhouh’s movements.

The Israeli government has not commented on the incident but Tel Aviv has long followed a policy of assassinating opposition figures, both inside the Palestinian territories and overseas.

Hamas says Israel tried and failed to kill al Mabhouh three months ago and insists there is no doubt Mossad was responsible. The murder means that two founding members of the Qassam Brigades are now dead. Salah al Shardeh, who effectively set up the group with al Mabhouh, was assassinated by Israeli forces in 2003. Hamas’s spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, was also assassinated, in an air strike in 2004 in Gaza City.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, some Hamas figures said the loss of an experienced operator like al Mabhouh, 50 years old at the time of his death, would have an impact on the group’s ability to stage military strikes. He masterminded Hamas’s first successful operation to kidnap Israeli soldiers in 1989.

Mr Nasser said: “Mahmoud al Mabhouh played a key role in supplying the Palestinian people with weapons and money. His central role in the 2008/2009 Gaza war was clear, he supplied Palestinian fighters with special weapons, he was an important figure for our military.

“But his murder is not a victory for Israel, it is a victory for the resistance. The blood of Mahmoud al Mabhouh will spawn a thousand more like him.”

Hamas said it hoped to co-operate with the UAE security services in investigating the killing but there appears to be little prospect of that happening.

Lt Gen Tamim. said: We do not deal with anybody apart from a country’s official representatives in our country; in this case, it is the Palestinian Embassy here,”

Dr Khairi Aridi, the Palestinian ambassador to the UAE, said he had been contacted by national authorities regarding the case and would provide any assistance to the UAE if requested to do so.

Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, controlled by Fatah, have been locked in an internal conflict since the Islamic movement won elections in the Gaza strip in 2006.

Al Mabhouh’s remains were flown back to Syria on Thursday, and he was buried in a cemetery in Yarmouk Camp, a Palestinian area of Damascus, alongside other fallen militants on Friday.

Thousands of mourners turned out for his funeral, including Hamas’ exiled leader Khalid Meshaal, who lives in Damascus.

Hamas vowed to avenge the death, saying it would do so at a time and place of its choosing, although some Hamas members in the Damascus office predicted retaliation would come quickly, within weeks.

Mr Nasser also insisted that Hamas military strength would eventually increase as a result of the killing, even if it did represent a temporary setback.

“There are only two options for the resistance, victory or death and the martyr Mahmoud Mabhouh knew that. It is not possible to be secure all the time, even if you do everything right.

“But this death will be a curse on those who were involved. Israel will pay. They will know our response soon enough.”

           — Hat tip: Frontinus[Return to headlines]

Children of Armenia: A Forgotten Genocide and the Century-Long Struggle for Justice

Much has been written about the deportation and slaughter of the Armenians by the Ottomans in 1915, but much less has been written about what followed in the years after — which is odd given that the event is so deeply seared into the memories of Armenians everywhere and remains an immense burden on modern Armenian-Turkish relations. At every turn, Bobelian argues, from the post-World War I peace to the failure of the U.S. Congress to pass genocide resolutions in the 1990s, the Armenian cause has fallen victim to broken Western promises and been sacrificed to the priorities of others. He carefully unwinds three entwined threads, starting with the hopes for an independent homeland that were dissolved when Armenia was absorbed into Soviet Russia. The second thread emerges from the 1920s onward, when Atatürk’s Turkey made denial of the episode an element of the country’s emergent nationalism. The third thread is the quest to have the events of 1915 recognized as genocide, efforts that have been thwarted by U.S. administrations concerned with protecting relations with a NATO ally.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy-Israel: Berlusconi Crucial Partner, But on Iran…

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, JANUARY 29 — Silvio Berlusconi is “a crucial partner” of Israel and will be received in the Jewish state as “a friend”, but the level of trade between Italy and Iran worries Israel and “must be discussed in Jerusalem” during the bilateral summit set to take place at the start of next week, wrote Yediot Ahronot today, the most widely read daily in Israel, in a long analysis on the summit. According to the newspaper, it is undeniable that Berlusconi “has radically changed the political climate in Italy regarding Israel” and is perceived by the Jewish state today as “a crucial partner”, also with respect to other European leaders on decisive topics such as “the fight against anti-Semitism”, terrorism and EU-Israeli relations. In particular, the article pointed out Israel’s support of Italy’s EU presidency in 2003, resulting in entering Hamas into the group’s black list of terrorist organisations; or the constant support received from Rome in the past years in the UN; or the sensitivity demonstrated on the recent International Holocaust Remembrance Day and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel’s speech in Parliament. They did not leave out personal elements like a younger Berlusconi’s ties with Yosef Nissim, a Jewish businessman who was his friend and partner, with whom he still has an important relationship. “However, with all of the friendship and sincere love of Berlusconi for Israel,” writes Yediot Ahronot, the fact that there is a “business problem” cannot be denied. “There are two sides of the coin (regarding Italian-Israeli relations)”, continued the newspaper, “and on the other is the number 7 billion euros”: the total amount of trade between Italy and Iran in 2008. A figure that is “four times greater” than in 2001, the year in which Berlusconi returned to lead the Italian government, and which makes Italy a leading country in Europe for imports and exports with Tehran, despite their repeated consideration of a possible harshening of sanctions in response to fears of Iran’s nuclear programme. According to Yediot Ahronot, at the summit in Jerusalem, Berlusconi must “cope with these two aspects”, amid the backdrop of Italian gas and oil giant ENI’s interests in Iran, but also of companies that — according to speculation in the press — are reportedly committed in cooperation projects with Iran to launch satellites or the build tunnels that could be used to potentially connect bunkers and hide “pieces of nuclear reactors”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey Leading Human Rights Violator, Says European Court

The European Court of Human Rights said it issued 2,395 rulings in 2009, an increase of 27 percent from the previous year, with Turkey and Russia as the biggest offenders, according to annual figures released Thursday.

Judges issued 341 rulings against Turkey, more than 200 of them concerning the workings of its national courts and 30 following complaints of inhuman or degrading treatment.

Russia remained in second place with 210 rights violations, including three for torture and 84 for inhuman treatment — mostly from war-torn Chechnya.

Russia is also by far the biggest source of complaints with 28 percent. The foreign ministry in Moscow says many these relate to conditions in jails and abuses committed by government forces in Chechnya.

The Russian parliament has just voted to ratify a key protocol that allows reforms streamlining the Strasbourg court to go ahead.

The protocol had been blocked by Moscow lawmakers in 2006 amid complaints that the court was anti-Russian.

Europe’s top rights court is battling to come to grips with an increasing workload that soared by nearly a quarter last year. The number of pending cases at the Strasbourg tribunal rose by 23 percent to 119,300, the court said in its annual report.

The European Court of Human Rights, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, can be appealed to by 818 million people in the 47-country Council of Europe if they feel their national courts have failed.

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

Turkey: Soldiers Will No Longer Guard Parliament Entrances

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JANUARY 29 — The duty of guarding the entrances of the parliament will now be handed over from soldiers to police officers, as Turkish media report today. As Turkey debates allegations of plans for a coup, the Security Coordination Council for Turkey’s Grand National Assembly has quietly signed on to a very significant decision. Accordingly, from now on, police will replace soldiers in standing guard 24-hours a day over the Parliamentary buildings three entrances, Cankaya, Dikmen and Ayranci. The fact that certain parliamentary members were not allowed entrance by soldiers keeping guard overnight and on the weekends was an influential factor in the decision to assign the entrance guard duty to police forces instead of soldiers. The Assemblys Security Coordination Council made the decision after receiving a number of complaints on the issue by parliamentarians. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Father Discovers Only One Twin is His Son Through DNA

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JANUARY 29 — A Turkish man on the point of divorcing his wife, who gave birth to twin boys three years ago, has had a nasty surprise. Thanks to a DNA test, it is has been uncovered that only one of his sons is in fact his own. Daily newspaper Sabah has reported on the surreal matter caused by an extremely rare phenomenon called super-insemination. The newspaper reports that the man, a security services agent from Istanbul named only as A.K., had started to suspect that his wife was being unfaithful and, before launching the divorce process, he had DNA tests carried out on his two sons. From these tests it emerged that only one of the presumed twins was 99.99% his own, a result confirmed by a second laboratory appointed by the court to repeat the test. The explanation of everything lies in the fact that before marrying A.K. at the wishes of her family, the woman had a lover who was already married and who, in turn, has three children and who she still saw after getting married. One day the woman had sexual intercourse with both men: with her lover in the morning and with her husband in the evening. With a one in a million chance statistically speaking, she had a double ovulation that day and thus got pregnant twice. The ending to the story is that A.K.s real son has been entrusted to his father by the court while the other son has been sent to an orphanage, while A.K.s wife — who has received death threats from her own family members and from her ex-husbands family (who feel dishonoured) — has received a restraining order to remain at least 500m away from her ex-husbands home. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkish Ambassador to Rome Under Internal Investigation

Turkey’s ambassador to Rome is under investigation over claims of sexual harassment, the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review has learned from official sources.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry is investigating accusations against Ambassador Ali Yakital for misconduct while he was in Rome, according to official sources. Yakital was appointed ambassador to Italy approximately three months ago.

The sources said Yakital might be called back if the allegations are found to be true.

Before his appointment to Rome, Yakital, a career diplomat, had worked in the Prime Ministry as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s main advisor on foreign-policy issues and was known to be part of the premier’s inner circle.

The Foreign Ministry regularly appoints one or two ambassadors as foreign-policy advisors to prime ministers.

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

South Asia

Harassed, Intimidated, Abused: But Now Pakistan’s Hijra Transgender Minority Finds Its Voice

New civil rights for Pakistan’s long-oppressed ‘wedding dancers’ offer hope of a better life

Down a grimy alleyway in Rawalpindi, in the heart of Pakistan’s military establishment, a striking figure tweaked her makeup and squirted a dash of perfume under her arms.

Life as a hijra, as Pakistan’s ­transgender minority is known, can be tough, said 21-year-old Alisha, recounting tales of extortion, sexual violence and predatory policemen. But of late things have started to improve.

The government has offered help, the hijras’ plight has come into the public eye, and even the police are showing a little respect.

“They call us the chief justice’s darlings,” she said.

An unlikely revolution is stirring among Pakistan’s transgender community. Over the past six months the supreme court has issued a series of ground-breaking judgments in favour of hijras, who have long lived under a cloud of disapprobation and ­discrimination.

Spurred by the forceful chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, who was restored after countrywide protests last year, normally moribund authorities have been ordered to ensure hijras enjoy the same rights as other Pakistanis, in matters of inheritance, employment and election registration.

Police have been warned to cease harassment and intimidation. Pakistan’s national database and registration authority, which issues ID cards, has been told to research a third option under the “sex” column.

“Times are changing,” said Almas Bobby, leader of one of the largest group of hijras in Rawalpindi. “Our community feels good for the first time in 60 years.”

The changes have triggered a heady sense of possibility.

In October hijras in the southern city of Sukkur fielded the country’s first hijras cricket team. After winning their inaugural match, the captain thanked the chief justice.

The exuberance is spreading. Earlier this month about 100 hijras from across Punjab crammed into a tented rooftop area for a raucous dance party.

Showers of rose petals filled the air as hijras of all ages, draped in sequined dresses and bedecked in costume jewellery, danced into the small hours — whirling and swinging their hips in the manner of Bollywood movie stars.

The hijras’ roots run deep in Asia: many were respected courtesans in the courts of the Moghul emperors who ruled south Asia in the 17th and 18th centuries. One even commanded troops into battle.

But behind the merriment, hijra life can be lonely and dangerous in a conservative society such as Pakistan.

Most hijras describe themselves as “professional wedding dancers” (women performers are forbidden under Pakistani law) but campaigners say their main sources of income hail from begging and prostitution.

Alisha, who worked as a makeup artist to pay for silicon implants, sported a 36B bra under a red sequinned dress. “I’ve always felt like a girl in my soul,” she said. But her voice also rang with sadness: her middle-class Islamabad family cast her out. She pointed to Azeem, a middle-aged hijra who once worked as head of ­housekeeping in a five-star hotel.

“Now she is my mother and father,” Alisha said.

Although often referred to as “eunuchs”, many of Pakistan’s hijras have not undergone gender reassignment surgery, according to campaigners. The medical and psychological services available in other Asian countries, such as Thailand, are either absent or operate in the shadows. A plastic surgeon in Rawalpindi, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he would only operate on hijras after hours.

“It would not raise the prestige of the clinic if they were seen,” he said.

The surgeon said he also treated a minority of women seeking gender ­reassignment surgery.

“They come in with bandages on their breasts, which causes ulcers and lesions, threatening to commit ­suicide if we don’t operate,” he said.

Back at the party in Rawalpindi a group of men wearing regular shalwar kameez, loose trousers and tunic, watched from the back of the room. They were the “sponsors” — often married men who keep hijras as mistresses.

The men watched silently, filming with their mobile phones, but sometimes stepped forward to cast bundles of 10 rupee notes over their favourite dancers — and in so doing, sent banknote images of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan’s founding father, fluttering to the ground.

An unlikely revolutionary

The man leading the hijras’ modern crusade is an unlikely warrior: a lawyer who specialises in Islamic law. Islamabad barrister Muhammad Aslam Khaki instigated the supreme court cases last year after reading about a brutal incident in Taxila, near the capital, where police allegedly robbed and raped a group of eight hijra wedding dancers.

“People don’t consider them as human beings. They don’t like to eat with them, drink with them or shake their hands,” he said. “But they are full citizens of Pakistan like everyone else.”

It is not the first time the softly-spoken lawyer has challenged Pakistan’s status quo. Last year Khaki persuaded a federal Islamic court to overturn the punishment for drinking alcohol — 40 lashes of the whip — on the basis that it was not in accordance with the Qur’an. Later, he won a declaration that prisoners should be allowed conjugal rights with their wives during visiting hours — also, he says, a little-known provision of Islam.

“Ours is the most misunderstood religion,” he said.

But his advocacy for hijras is a bridge too far for some. He has received death threats from Shabab e-Milli, an offshoot of the youth wing of Pakistan’s main religious party, Jamaat e-Islami. “They say I am protecting the gay culture. But I am protecting them from the police culture of torture and sex abuse.” Declan Walsh

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

Latin America

Chavez: US ‘Tectonic Weapon’ Caused Haiti Quake

A ‘tectonic weapon’ under testing by the United States caused the Haiti earthquake, according to Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, who appears to have more of a sci-fi background than we all thought.

“President Chavez said the US was ‘playing God’ by testing devices capable of creating eco-type catastrophes, the Spanish newspaper ABC quoted him as saying.

“Chavez said the killer earthquake followed a test of ‘weapon of earthquakes’ just offshore from Haiti. He did not elaborate on the source of his claim,” according to Press TV.

Apparently, the media in Venezuela have reported that the earthquake “may be associated with the project called HAARP, a system that can generate violent and unexpected changes in climate.”

HAARP, the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, is a study run in Alaska directed at the occasional reconfiguration of the properties of the Earth’s ionosphere to improve satellite communications. The project receives funding from the US Air Force, the US Navy, the University of Alaska and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).

Fans of the LucasArts game Fracture (perhaps Hugo Chavez among them) may recall weaponry like Tectonic Grenades that create “terrain deformation” as a part of game play (see photo).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


England is Where We All Want to End Up…

FRENCH authorities were last night accused of shamelessly washing their hands of the battle to prevent illegal immigration to Britain.

The row flared as a new base camp was opened yesterday in Calais to help migrants illegally enter Britain.

Ironically, it is in the town’s Place d’Angleterre — England Square.

Last night Tories slammed the camp and the massive influx into Britain as “an example of Gordon Brown’s lax immigration policy.”

Shadow Immigration Minister Damian Green said: “Any attempt to rebuild a camp at Calais would be a disaster for Britain. We need proper co-operation from the French in fighting people smuggling.”

And Philip Davies, MP for Shipley, West Yorks, said: “One of the main reasons they come is because they know once inside Britain their chances of being kicked out are nil.”

Local charities in the ferry-port town have built the 2,000 sq ft shelter to help the 1,000 UK-bound immigrants sleeping rough on Calais streets.

Yesterday delighted migrants said that they hoped to use the new centre as a springboard to the UK.

Afghani ex-student Said, 21, said: “I should have somewhere to stay, especially when temperatures are so low.

“Word has spread quickly about this centre. Our only ambition is to get to England where we will claim asylum.”

The centre is already being dubbed Sangatte II after the former Red Cross centre which attracted thousands of illegal foreigners before being razed in 2002.

The facility will provide food, shelter and asylum-claim advice for the estimated 50 migrants a day boarding ferries and trains to England, where most then disappear into the black economy.

Now it is feared it will attract even more migrants across Europe — just months after France’s Immigration Minister Eric Besson claimed that our shared borders are “watertight”.

Yesterday news of the camp not only angered Calais locals — who fear it will be like a beacon to thousands more immigrants — but also Britons campaigning for a tougher immigration policy.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrant Watch UK, told the Daily Express: “This is getting increasingly ridiculous. France is a safe country for refugees. If they are genuine, it is for the French to give them refuge. If they are bogus, it is for the French to return them to their home countries.

“Instead, they are waving them on to Britain, which they clearly regard as a much softer touch than France.”

Matthew Elliott, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Our government is always bragging about having a seat at the top table in Europe, and so they should speak to the French government and stop the establishment of this camp which will only bring great expense and heartache to British taxpayers.”

A spokesman for the SOS refugee and homeless charity said: “We don’t envisage any legal problems.

“This is a humanitarian gesture — we’re putting the shelter at the disposal of the migrants.”

He added: “There are showers, bathrooms and toilets. It will be heated and there will be blankets and beds.” The fact that the new hangar is on Place d’Angleterre has not been lost on the charity workers.

“It’s very appropriate,” said one. “England is where almost everyone who stays here will want to end up. We’ll be able to look after hundreds at a time.”

But furious Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart vowed to tear it down, saying: “It’s scandalous. I’ll do everything possible to stop them using it.

“I don’t want another Sangatte. The people responsible for this are walking over ordinary Calasiens.”

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Italy: Police Arrest 10 Immigrants in North

Milano, 29 Jan. (AKI) — Police near the northern Italian city of Milan have arrested 10 immigrants as part of an operation targeting illegal immigration and drug dealing. Among those arrested by paramilitary Carabinieri police in the Legnano area outside Milan were two Tunisians, and an Egyptian, who have been served with expulsion orders, and a 43-year-old Moroccan.

A total of 44 foreigners’ documents and 50 cars were checked in the operation, in which police identified 104 people.

The conservative Italian government led by prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has vowed to crack down on illegal immigrants, which many Italian associate with a growing security problem in their towns and cities.

On Thursday Berlusconi signalled a tougher line on illegal immigration in new emergency measures announced to tackle organised crime.

Under a law passed last July, people entering Italy without permission face fines of up to 10,000 euros and immediate expulsion. Anyone renting housing to an illegal immigrant faces up to three years in prison.

The law also provides for citizen anti-crime patrols in towns and cities and triples the amount of time illegal immigrants can be detained in holding centres from two to six months.

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

Let Them Leave: Why Migration is the Best Solution for Haiti’s Recovery

Long before the calamity in Haiti, many Haitians and their families benefited from working abroad, and many, including me, have suggested allowing more Haitian immigrants into the United States as a way to help the country’s economy recover.

It might seem strange that the best solution to Haiti’s woes lies outside its borders, but migration and remittances have been responsible for almost all of the poverty reduction that has happened in the island country over the past few decades. They have done enormously more good than any policy intended to reduce poverty inside Haiti during that time. Any poverty-reduction strategy for Haiti going forward that does not include what has been Haitians’ most successful poverty-reduction strategy to date is not a serious one.

This idea is a no-brainer if we take a minute to look at the numbers.

First, Haitians have already emigrated in droves. There are around 535,000 Haitian-born U.S. residents at the Census Bureau’s last count, out of roughly 1 million in total living abroad.

The vast majority of Haitians who have escaped poverty have done so by leaving the country. Pick any reasonable poverty line for Haiti; the vast majority of Haitians above it no longer live there. In a study I did with Harvard’s Lant Pritchett, we chose a bare-bones poverty line of $10 per day (measured as a living standard at U.S. prices). That’s total destitution — just a third of the $30 per day that the United States considers “poverty” for a single adult. Eight out of 10 Haitians above that line currently live in the United States…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Italy: Senate Freezes Abortion Pill

Health ministry asked for second opinion on RU486

(ANSA) — Rome, November 26 — The so-called abortion bill at the center of a six-year tug of war between Italian pro-life and anti-abortion advocates hit another roadblock on Thursday when a Senate health commission delayed its approval and asked the health ministry for a second opinion.

The RU486 pill was given the green light last summer by the Italian medicines agency, AIFA, which ruled to allow the RU486 pill to be used in hospitals as an alternative to surgical abortion up to the 49th day of pregnancy.

In September, the Senate health committee launched an inquiry over concerns the pill could endanger women’s health or violate abortion laws, prompting AIFA to postpone making the drug available.

On Thursday, the committee approved a motion by Senators from the centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) and Northern League parties to stop the drug’s approval and ask the health ministry to decide whether the pill violated abortion laws.

As of 1978, women in Italy have the right to terminate a pregnancy on demand within the first 90 days, after which termination may only be carried out if the mother’s health is at risk or the foetus is deformed.

But Welfare Minister Maurizio Sacconi, who retains the health ministry portfolio, said on Wednesday that “Italy’s abortion laws weren’t conceived with a pharmaceutical solution in mind”.

In the past, he has expressed his doubts that the Italian health system was capable of enforcing a use of the pill in line with the strict Italian laws regulating the termination of pregnancies.

All of the votes against Thursday’s motion came from centre-left opposition parties, who accused Catholics in the majority of masking their true intentions to have the drug banned.

Senate whip for the opposition Democratic Party (PD), Anna Finocchiaro, said “instead of admitting what they really want, they’re hiding behind a lot of blather”.

Italian consumer group Aduc also reacted angrily to the ruling, saying it enforced a law “requiring abortions to painful”.

The association accused pro-life centers of “lacking the courage to take on current abortion laws, preferring an underhanded campaign to keep abortions as painful as possible”.

Aduc pointed out that the drug had been in use for over 20 years in France and eight years in the United States “without any problem,” asking Senators what they thought the health ministry would turn up that two decades of clinical trials hadn’t.

RU486, or mifepristone, was first introduced in France in 1988 and is now used widely in Europe apart from some of the more Catholic countries such as Portugal, Ireland and Poland.

It has been approved for use in the United States since 2000.

But the chairman of the Catholic-Centrist UDC, Rocco Buttiglione, party defended the decision saying it “fell on the side of caution”.

“It’s important to be absolutely certain that this drug is safe and conforms with the law on abortion,” he said.

Recent health ministry figures suggest that 70% of all Italian gynaecologists are now ‘conscientious objectors’ who refuse to carry out abortions.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


IPCC Again Shown to be Liars!

This is the fourth exposé of IPCC lies and deception to emerge in the past two weeks. This time the lies are documented in a scientific paper, issued 27th January, 2010 (‘Surface Temperature Records: Policy Driven Deception?’ by Joseph D’Aleo and Anthony Watts, in the SPPI Original Paper series. Copies from the Science and Public Policy Institute).

The incriminating paper shows how the IPCC eliminated GHCN weather recording stations, starting in 1990. In the 1970s there were more than 6000 GHCN stations that helped to give average temperatures. In 1990 the IPCC dropped all but 1500 of these stations. Therefore, the same method of calculation was used even though the number of stations providing measurements fell to less than one quarter of all stations. This is one reason why the Russians warned the figures were fake. I also mentioned this in my book. So, the facts are indeed out there… but who wants to bother with mere truth?

It is a simple fact that if the number of measurements went down by three quarters, then the size of anomalies must grow with it. That is, the areas covered by the remaining stations must be huge, with many variables in between.

But that is only the start. The IPCC then based their fake figures on stations that were mainly sited in the USA, and in places affected badly by urban heating! If that isn’t fakery, then what is?

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Sean O'Brian said...

Afghan interpreter shoots dead two US soldiers

Two US soldiers who died in eastern Afghanistan on Friday were shot dead by an Afghan interpreter, it has emerged.

A Nato official said the translator gunned down the US soldiers before other soldiers shot him dead at an outpost in Wardak province.

A US military official told Reuters news agency the attacker seemed to be a "disgruntled employee", not a militant.

Also in Wardak province, four Afghan soldiers died in an apparently bungled coalition air strike.

Afghanistan's defence ministry demanded punishment for those behind the air strike; Nato said the deaths were "regrettable" and announced an investigation.

Unreal. Do they not realise how transparent this sounds? It seems that what the Bureau of Labour Statistics does for the unemployment figures, the US military bureaucracy does for jihadis. The official response to the Ft. Hood massacre wasn't a one-off.

Zenster said...

Assassinated Al Mabhouh Travelled to UAE Without Bodyguards

No further information about the purpose of his trip was given, other than it was expected to last a few days ...

Several days fewer than al Mabhouh originally planned, we can be sure.

Some errors:

1) ... al Mabhouh had taken the unprecedented step of travelling without a security detail.

LESSON: Thanks to Mosaad, a mistake he'll never be able repeat.

2) Rather than using a passport with an assumed identity, al Mabhouh booked his ticket under his real name.

LESSON: Airline reservation systems are notoriously easy to hack.

3) “He has travelled to Dubai many times before in this way without any problems.”.

LESSON: There's always a first time and any repetition of travel patterns is a significant lapse in security.

4) ... al Mabhouh would typically be accompanied by security guards ... but had failed to do so on this occasion because no reservations had been made for them with the airline.

LESSON: Better to bump someone else than get bumped off.

5) “The guards were due to follow him on the next available flight the following day.”.

LESSON: Bodyguards aren't very effective if they're not on hand to guard your body.

6) “We do not have all of the details yet but maybe he [al Mabhouh] made a telephone call about his plans from a mobile that was intercepted.”.

LESSON: Pay close attention when Osama bin Laden stops using his cell phone.

7) Mr Nasser added: “It is also standard for airlines to fax advance notice of their passengers, so that may have given the assassins a chance.”.

LESSON: Written records are not healthy for terrorists and other "most wanted" criminals.

8) In a statement issued on Friday, the Dubai authorities said the suspects were mostly European passport holders and members of an “experienced criminal gang” who had been monitoring al Mabhouh’s movements.

LESSON: Never, ever get on the bad side of an "experienced criminal gang". Especially if they are the ones who sell you weapons.

9) Hamas says Israel tried and failed to kill al Mabhouh three months ago and insists there is no doubt Mossad was responsible.

LESSON: If at first your enemies don't succeed, do not give them another easy chance.

10) The murder means that two founding members of the Qassam Brigades are now dead. Salah al Shardeh, who effectively set up the group with al Mabhouh, was assassinated by Israeli forces in 2003. Hamas’s spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, was also assassinated, in an air strike in 2004 in Gaza City.

LESSON: Watch out when your enemy is batting cleanup.

Can you say: "Three for three"? Very good! I knew you could.
[/Fred Rogers]

11) Hamas figures said the loss of an experienced operator like al Mabhouh ... would have an impact on the group’s ability to stage military strikes. He masterminded Hamas’s first successful operation to kidnap Israeli soldiers in 1989.

LESSON: Military institutions have an elephant's memory for such things.

12) “... his murder is not a victory for Israel, it is a victory for the resistance. The blood of Mahmoud al Mabhouh will spawn a thousand more like him.”

LESSON: Just without any of al Mabhouh's contacts or insider knowledge.

13) “There are only two options for the resistance, victory or death and the martyr Mahmoud Mabhouh knew that.

LESSON: Always, Always, ALWAYS, keep your options open.

That's a solid baker's dozen of fatal errors. Even if al Mabhouh had the lives of a cat, he came up short four ways to Sunday on this particular operation. Thank goodness.

Thousands of mourners turned out for his funeral, including Hamas’ exiled leader Khalid Meshaal ...

Only one question remains: How come Khalid Meshaal is still stealing oxygen from far more deserving creatures like cockroaches, scorpions and lice?