News Feed 20110408

Financial Crisis
» A Ronald Reagan Budget
» Feds Run $189 Billion Deficit in March
» Netherlands: Cabinet Agrees €1bn in Defence Spending Cuts, One in Six Jobs to Go
» Spain: CAM to Ask for 2.8 Bln, But Term Deposit Interest 4.25%
» UK: Counting the Cost of Labour’s Profligacy
» Unions, Muslims Unite to Demand ‘Trillions’
» Foreigners Get College Paid by U.S. Taxpayers
» Professors Call BS on Campus Anti-Israel Groups
» Trevor Loudon: Communists Understand They Are in a War for America — So Should You!
» Iggy & the Bamster the Real North American Union
» Japanese Radiation in Canadian Water
Europe and the EU
» France Detects Radioactive Iodine in Rainwater, Milk
» France: Nicolas Sarkozy ‘Threatened to Smash the Face of Editor Who Said Carla Bruni Was Maneater’
» Germany: Merkel ‘Berlusconizing’ Politics, Philosopher Claims
» Italy: Rome Exhibits Life and Dark Legends of Emperor Nero
» Italy: Galateri Tapped as New Generali Chairman
» UK: East Renfrewshire Council Launches “Books for Schools” Project
» UK: Prime Minister Can Deny Prisoners the Vote Says Senior Judge
» UK: School Leavers Unfit for Work: ‘Firms Forced to Spend Billions on Remedial Training for Victims of Education Failure’
» Kosovo: First Female President is Upbeat About Talks With Serbia
North Africa
» Insurgents Accuse NATO of Not Attacking Gaddafi Forces
» Libya: London Speeds Up, Asks Arab Countries to Train Rebels
» Libya: US General Says Conflict ‘Settling Into Stalemate’
» Libya: NATO Refuses to Apologise for Friendly Fire Incident
» Libya: Gen.: U.S. Troops Not Ideal, But May be Considered in Libya
» Post-Mubarak Egypt Has Islamists Calling for Modesty Police
» Tunisia: Ban on Worshippers Praying in Streets
Israel and the Palestinians
» Netanyahu: Land of Israel Faithful in Germany
» Netanyahu: Fire Against School Bus “A Red Line”
Middle East
» Pakistan Poised to Dispatch Army to Saudi Arabia
» Syria: Kurds in Northeast, Foreigners in Their Homeland
» Syria: Kurds Protest in Northeast, Protests in Daraa Resume
» Syria: Religious Figure Supporting Protests Arrested
» Syria Arrests Al-Arabiya Journalist
» Syria: Ten Killed in Daraa Clashes
» Tension Rises in Syria With Violent Clashes in Daraa
» Turkey’s Roma Woes Flow From Legacy of Prejudices
South Asia
» ISAF Captures Al Qaeda’s Top Kunar Commander
Far East
» Defiant Japanese Boat Captain Rode Out Tsunami
» Japan: The Cesium Deception: Why the Mainstream Media is Mostly Reporting Iodine Levels, Not Radioactive Cesium
» Japan: TEPCO’s Reactors May Take 30 Years, $12 Billion to Scrap
» Boat Rescued: Italy-Malta Stand-Off
» Disturbances in Lampedusa After Deportation
» French and Italians Agree to Jointly Patrol North African Waters
» Italy, France Agree Migrant Patrols, But Spat Rumbles on
» Maroni: France Out of Schengen if Stops Tunisians
Culture Wars
» Netherlands: Government Pledges to Get Tough on Anti-Gay Violence

Financial Crisis

A Ronald Reagan Budget

Paul Ryan’s budget offers much more than deficit-reduction brimstone.

Nothing like Paul Ryan’s budget, “The Path to Prosperity: Restoring America’s Promise,” has been heard from a Republican since February 1981, when Ronald Reagan issued his presidency’s first budget message, “America’s New Beginning: A Program for Economic Recovery.” The echoes reach beyond the titles.

Both budgets announced a clear break with the Washington status quo. Reagan reversed the policies of the Carter presidency and the infamous stagflation years of weak economic growth, 18% interest rates and 14% inflation. Reagan’s 1981 message posited four reversals: “a substantial reduction” in spending; “a significant reduction in federal tax rates”; relief from federal regulation; and “a monetary policy consistent with those policies.”

In our day, the problems are the entitlement-spending time bombs and the twin killers of low growth and high unemployment. The Ryan budget proposes to defuse the Medicare and Medicaid bombs, while, like Reagan, overhauling the tax system to “unleash the genius of America’s workers, investors and entrepreneurs.”

Paul Ryan is routinely described as wonkish, a policy-detail guy short on political reality. But nervous Republicans need to understand that Reagan’s political relevance to the Ryan budget, and to the 2012 presidential campaigns pulling away from the curb, is deeper than these details.


Paul Ryan, in his budget’s introduction: “Decline is antithetical to the American Idea. America is a nation conceived in liberty, dedicated to equality and defined by limitless opportunity. . . . This budget’s goal is to keep it exceptional, and to preserve its promise for the next generation.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Feds Run $189 Billion Deficit in March

The government ran a deficit of $189 billion in the month of March alone, according to preliminary estimates — more than three times the $61 billion in spending cuts that have brought the government to the brink of a shutdown.

And with six months of the fiscal year already gone, the Congressional Budget Office said the government is running a record $830 billion deficit, which puts it on pace for a new record.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Cabinet Agrees €1bn in Defence Spending Cuts, One in Six Jobs to Go

The cabinet on Friday agreed major cuts in defence ministry spending in an effort to save €1bn.

Defence minister Hans Hillen will outline the details later in the day.

Over 6,000 military service personnel and defence ministry civil servants are facing compulsory redundancies, Nos television reported ahead of the meeting.

In total, 12,300 defence ministry jobs will go as part of the savings package, Nos says. Some 2,300 vacancies will not be filled and a further 4,000 people will not be replaced when they leave.

The ministry currently has a workforce of almost 69,000.

All ranks

The job losses will affect all ranks in the defence ministry.

Defence minister Hans Hillen also plans to scrap tanks and Cougar helicopters, to cut the 87 F-16 fighter jets by around a third and to sell off a number of naval vessels.

The controversial purchase of a second JSF fighter jet for €100m will go ahead to protect the participation of Dutch firms in its development and production, the Volkskrant said.

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

Spain: CAM to Ask for 2.8 Bln, But Term Deposit Interest 4.25%

(ANSA) — MADRID, APRIL 8 — The Mediterranean Savings Bank (CAM) risks being nationalised and is in a race against time to find the 2.8 billion euros necessary to respect the new solvency rules required by the Bank of Spain, but at the same time it has launched an aggressive offer for an 18-month fixed term deposit at an interest rate of 4.25% to keep their clients and attract new ones. The product is one of the best on the market, wrote Cinco Dias today, because the account can be opened with just 3,000 euros without any obligation to buy any additional products and offers also offers early payment of interest when depositing cash. Sources from the bank speaking to Expansion confirmed that “the issue of capital is a cause for concern and many clients are tending to put their money into institutes that they consider to be more solid”, therefore “it is normal that CAM is now trying to defend itself tooth and nail” to prevent losing its capital. Oddly, the only other fixed term deposit that is competitive with CAM’s is offered by Catalunya Caixa (4.25% in 12 months), another savings bank which, similar to CAM, announced that it wants to resort to the state Ordinary Bank Restructuring Fund.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UK: Counting the Cost of Labour’s Profligacy

Yesterday came two reminders of just how perilously close Britain came to financial calamity under the last government.

First, Portugal — whose budget deficit as a percentage of national income is lower than our own — was forced to go cap in hand to the EU for a £70billion bailout, after the markets lost confidence in its ability to pay its debts.

Nobody should be in any doubt that, had the Coalition not taken decisive action to cut state spending here, Britain would have suffered the same fate.

Right and wrong: It is absolutely necessary for Chancellor George Osborne (left) to cut state spending. It was totally unnecessary for Labour’s Alistair Darling to pledge that Britain must bail out Portugal to the tune of £6billion.

Interest rates would have rocketed with families facing misery far beyond the painful but necessary belt-tightening required by Chancellor George Osborne’s austerity measures.

The second reminder of Labour’s fiscal incontinence came from the Centre for Policy Studies, which reported that — even after the Coalition’s £81billion cuts programme — our national debt stands at £3.6trillion, or £138,360 per household.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Unions, Muslims Unite to Demand ‘Trillions’

Protesting U.S. aid to Israel, ‘police terror’ against blacks, Latinos

The Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, the nation’s second largest union, has united with an Islamic “peace” organization to protest everything from Fox News Channel to “corporate, and financial powers” to U.S. military aid to Israel.

The duo are also calling for trillions in funds for jobs and “quality single-payer healthcare.”

The Islamic group is being trained by an acolyte of radical community organizer Saul Alinsky. The acolyte worked for a socialist group that was an offshoot of an Alinsky training academy funded jointly in the 1990s by President Obama and Weatherman terrorist Bill Ayers.

The so-called Muslim Peace Coalition, or MPC, is helping to organize a rally entitled “Rally Against the Wars at Home and Abroad,” set for this weekend in both New York City and San Francisco.

The rally is being organized under the banner of another group calling itself the United National Antiwar Conference.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


Foreigners Get College Paid by U.S. Taxpayers

Wife of government official to manage tuition outreach

A group of African students whose college tuitions are being paid by the U.S. government yesterday received a boost of additional funds to continue their educations — and an executive from the private contractor coordinating the program just happens to be the wife of a senior Obama administration official, WND has learned.

According to a document uncovered by officials with T-RAM, the U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor blog, during a routine search of a federal contracting database, the U.S. Agency for International Development under the current initiative has already spent nearly $2.1 million to send 16 students from the southeast African nation of Malawi to colleges in their homeland as well as in the U.S. and Kenya.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Professors Call BS on Campus Anti-Israel Groups

At college campuses across the US, student organizations that attack Israel have become more and more active, and obnoxious, over the past decade. The members are drawn from some of the Moslem students and their far leftist companions. Most students are there to get an education, or at least get their degree ticket punched. While there’s little evidence these anti-Israel groups have much support, through their activism they load student governments and with their loud voices they usually dominate campus debates.

Over the past year or so, at many campuses Jewish groups have formed to counter this vileness. Others of sound minds have joined in.

The University of California, San Diego is one of the top-ranked academic campuses in the country. This week a group of professors joined together to call BS on the anti-Israel groups.

Dr. David Feifel, a professor at UCSD and Vice President of the UCSD SPME (Scholars for Peace in the Middle East) chapter, wrote a powerful editorial about the hypocrisy on campus relating to the Arab and Muslim students’ focus on Israel Apartheid Week and their failure to acknowledge the suffering of the Arabs being murdered for demonstrating for democracy in Arab countries. Shockingly, the UCSD Guardian newspaper after an initial acceptance, at the final hour refused to run the editorial. So, the professors had to take out a full page ad which today featured the editorial with 28 signatures of UCSD Professors.

The editorial is below the fold. It is quite educational, and directly confronts the hypocrisy of the on campus anti-Israel groups for actually not giving much of a darn for oppressed Arabs but, instead being preoccupied with vilifying Israel.

These strong counters need to be spread to every other college campus. Please distribute this post to students and professors at other campuses.

An Open Letter To Our University Community About Troubling Hypocrisy On Our Campus

           — Hat tip: AC [Return to headlines]

Trevor Loudon: Communists Understand They Are in a War for America — So Should You!

Communist Party USA leader Sam Webb lays out the consequences of the escalating “civil war” for American public opinion, in today’s Peoples World.

“This is a moment of heightened class and democratic struggle. The signs are everywhere — not least in states in the nation’s heartland. It isn’t a time for the fainthearted.


“But as Robert Burns said about “the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men,” they go oft astray. Neither labor nor its allies is rolling over and throwing in the towel. Instead, a working class led counteroffensive is emerging — so much so that it is fair to say a new phase of a struggle is afoot, in which labor and its allies could turn the tables decisively in their favor.

“The battle in Wisconsin electrified (for good reasons) the whole country. But the counteroffensive is not just Wisconsin — it is national in scope, diverse in form, creative in tactics, and united in action. This nationwide tapestry of struggle is multi-threaded, woven in varied patterns, loops and colors.


“No struggle has the same possibility to rearrange the political balance of forces in a progressive direction as does the 2012 elections and its outcome. No other struggle has the same possibility to throw the working class and people’s counteroffensive onto an entirely new forward trajectory.

“Labor may have fewer financial resources in 2012, but its army of activists will be far bigger and its ground game will be bolder.”

The Communists and their Democratic Party allies/minions certainly do see this as a war. If the left wins the 2012 elections, it is hard to ever see America recovering. The left will establish a complete monopoly on power and proceed to squeeze the last vestiges of life from the American economy and people.

If the Tea Party and patriotic forces can take both take over the GOP and win in 2012, America — and the West, has a fighting chance of survival.

Those are the stakes. The communists understand that. So must we.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


Iggy & the Bamster the Real North American Union

Even though it’s socialist New Democrat Party Leader Jack Layton who has been media-dubbed “the Barack Obama of Canada”, the similarities between Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff and the U.S. president are more eerily striking.


In fact, according to CP 24, Ignatieff is “good friends” with Samantha Power, a senior adviser to Obama during his presidential campaign, a member of his transition team and now a member of the National Security Council.

“Ignatieff met Power, a Pulitzer Prize winning author, journalist and academic, when he became director of the Carr Centre. Power was the centre’s founding executive director.

“He also became friends with Power’s husband, Cass Sunstein, a Harvard professor and constitutional law expert who now heads up the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

“And he got to know Larry Summers, president of Harvard during Ignatieff’s stint at the Carr Center. Obama has appointed Summers as director of the National Economic Council.”

The similarities between Obama and Ignatieff get even better.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Japanese Radiation in Canadian Water

[Blog author also took a screen capture of the story as previous article links kept disappearing.]

But the levels were extremely low, according to the Canadian Health Ministry and well-known experts in the Pacific province of British Colombia.

“Levels of radioactive Iodine-131 rose seven days after the reactor accident in Fukushima, but have dropped considerably since then,” Kris Starosta, a nuclear researcher at the Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, told the German Press Agency dpa.

Following the highest level of 12 bequerel per litre (bq/1) recorded on March 20, the latest analysis taken on March 29 showed a level of 3.4 bq/1.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

France Detects Radioactive Iodine in Rainwater, Milk

After the radioactive cloud eminating from Japan’s stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant reached Europe last week, French authorities have detected radioactive iodine-131 in rainwater and milk.

CRIIRAD, an independent French research body on radioactivity, said it had detected radioactive iodine-131 in rainwater in south-eastern France.

A sample analysed on 28 March showed radioactivity levels of 8.5 becquerel.

In parallel testing, the French Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN), the national public institution monitoring nuclear and radiological risks, found iodine 131 in milk.

According to the institute, concentrations from a sample collected on 25 March showed levels of less than 0.11 becquerels per litre.

In normal times, no trace of iodine-131 should be detectable in rainwater or milk.

Cumulative Effect

The rates detected are said to be extremely low — particularly in comparison to rates observed after Chernobyl in 1986 — and the authorities are stressing that there is no cause for panic.

Nevertheless, according to CRIIRAD, contamination of the air, and consequently of rain water, will continue for at least the next two weeks.

The independent body noted that the fallout of radioactive iodine-131 could reach several hundred becquerel per square metre — or even a few thousand Bq/m2 in the case of adverse weather conditions, for example.

Spinach, salads and other vegetables with large surface areas are among food products that are particularly sensitive to iodine-131 contamination, if they are cultivated outside and exposed to rain water.

Indirect contamination of milk in particular normally occurs within a couple of days if cows have been outside eating grass, CRIIRAD noted.

The fact that France’s IRSN found iodine-131 in a milk sample taken on 25 March indicates that radioactive fallout has already been reaching Europe since at least 23 March.

Radioactive iodine-131 is particularly toxic when absorbed by the thyroid, where it saturates and leads to an increased risk of cancer.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

France: Nicolas Sarkozy ‘Threatened to Smash the Face of Editor Who Said Carla Bruni Was Maneater’

The French president’s alleged threat was sparked by an article in Le Point news magazine offering “24 tips to the President ahead of his marriage to Mademoiselle Bruni”.

One piece of advice was: “Do not introduce your new wife to your sons, Barack Obama or any handsome men.”

In a new book called M. Le President, Franz-Olivier Giesbert, director of Le Point, gives what he says is a blow by blow account of the president’s tirade following the article.

The president allegedly called shortly after publication in January 2008, started with a few niceties before suddenly turning apoplectic.

“This article is filth and I should smash your face in,” he reportedly told Mr Giesbert.


Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy, 43, earned a reputation for promiscuity due to her string of celebrity lovers including Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton and Donald Trump before marrying Mr Sarkozy more than two years ago. Her pre-marriage claim to being “easily bored by monogamy” has become a notorious quote.

She also went out with a well-known philosopher before dropping him for his son, Raphael Enthoven, with whom she has a son.

Mr Sarkozy insisted the magazine issue a written apology, which was denied.

“You’ll see what I’m going to do to you,” he threatened.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Germany: Merkel ‘Berlusconizing’ Politics, Philosopher Claims

One of Germany’s most famous living philosophers, Jürgen Habermas, has accused Chancellor Angela Merkel of “Berlusconizing” the political landscape with her brazen efforts to hold power at all costs.

Raising the spectre of Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is battling accusations he slept with an underage prostitute, Habermas this week launched a blistering attack on the German political scene and what he considers the “pitiful state” of European unification.

“One can no longer see the point of it; whether it actually is about anything more than the next election result,” Habermas wrote of Merkel’s programme in an opinion piece published by daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.

This has shown itself particularly in Merkel’s initial support for former Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, he wrote. Despite serious allegations that Guttenberg was guilty of plagiarism, Merkel had wanted to keep him in her government because he was popular.

“She has, with cool calculation, cashed in the constitutional idea of public office for a few pieces of silver that she hasn’t even been able to pocket at the ballot box.”

Habermas went on to write that the incident had “Berlusconized the political culture of the country.”

Habermas broadened his attack, in flame-throwing rhetorical style, to German politics generally, saying elected representatives were acting wholly according to opinion polls and election cycles.

Politicians were following “shamelessly the playbook of a poll-driven pragmatism of power.”

People’s perception of this trend has led to a new willingness to protest, as seen in the Stuttgart 21 demonstrations.

European unity was one victim of this loss of purpose among the political elite, he wrote. A strengthening of the European parliament in Strasbourg was needed, yet politicians were shrinking from such fundamental change.

“The European unification process, which has always been carried out above the heads of the people, is now at a dead-end,” he wrote, adding that the European Union was now in a “pitiful state.”

Under “a Eurosceptic like Merkel,” Germany had laid a claim to European leadership while instead pursuing national interests.

“The prioritization of national considerations has never before been so naked in appearance as in the robust opposition of a chancellor who … for weeks blocked European help for Greece and the rescue fund for the euro.”

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italy: Rome Exhibits Life and Dark Legends of Emperor Nero

Show traces Nero’s heroics in Rome’s great fire

(ANSA) — Milan, April 8 — The Rome exhibit “Nerone”, examining the life and dark legends of Emperor Nero (37-68 AD), opens Tuesday April 12 across five different landmarks of the ancient imperial capital. Nero has been infamous throughout history for tyranny, extravagance, cold-blooded murder, and cruel persecution of Christians. Ancient Roman historians accused him of killing his mother, stepbrother and two wives, and of burning Christians at night in his garden for firelight.

Nero’s reputation has twisted and writhed through greats of Western literature like Chaucer and Shakespeare. He was known as the emperor “who fiddled while Rome burned”, although fiddles weren’t invented for more than 1000 years after his death. Instead, Suetonius wrote that Nero played the lyre and sang while much of Rome was consumed by flames in 64 AD.

Suetonius also accused Nero of arson that started the fire.

New archeological findings, displayed in the Colosseum, reconstruct details of the day before, the day of, and recovery efforts after the devastating fire that occurred on July 18, 64 AD, and sweep away much of the mystery and ignominy that swirled for millennia around the event.

Nero’s family portraits illustrate the dramatic, often violent domestic affairs of his upbringing in the house of the ancient Roman senate, the Curia Julia.

The luxury in which he lived — and the black propaganda of extravagance it spawned — are the subject of an exhibit in the Cryptoporticus of Emperor Nero, a vaulted gallery Nero built to provide shady passage from his own palace to other imperial palaces on the Palatine Hill. The luxury of the imperial palace is treated also in the Palatine Museum.

An exhibit in the Temple of Romulus shows the legends of Nero as elaborated by the cinema.

“Nerone” is curated by Maria Antonietta Tomei and Rossella Rea, both of Rome’s supervisory body for archeological assets, the Soprintendenza Speciale per I Beni Archeologici di Roma. The show runs through September 18.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Galateri Tapped as New Generali Chairman

Telecom Italia chief to take over after Geronzi resignation

(ANSA) — Milan, April 8 — Outgoing Telecom Italia chairman Gabriele Galateri di Genola has been tapped as new chairman of insurance giant Generali to replace Cesare Geronzi who made a shock resignation earlier this week, sources said ahead of an emergency board meeting Friday.

The sources said Galateri, 63, a Columbia University Business School graduate who has had stints at the top of FIAT and premier merchant bank Mediobanca, was the “right fit” for the job.

“He’s the right age, has an international profile and knows the company well, having spent five years as deputy chairman,” they said.

According to Italy’s top business daily Il Sole 24 Ore, Galateri’s “past experiences have shown the manager’s great ability to create that perfect division of roles and that balance of competences, almost impossible under the Geronzi chairmanship, necessary to ensure the good management of the company”.

The current Telecom Italia No.1 was Mediobanca chairman from 2003 and 2007 and, as such, also deputy chairman of Generali in the interlocking web of Italian high finance. Galateri, a member of an aristocratic Piedmontese family, reportedly beat off stiff competition from former European commissioner Mario Monti and international broker Roland Berger.

He will be appointed at the board meeting Friday evening, sources said.

Among Galateri’s first tasks, insiders say, will be to reposition Generali among the galaxy of financial firms at the pinnacle of Italy’s private-finance sector and prune its core syndication pact from 46% to 30%. After his appointment by the board, Galateri will have to be approved by a shareholders’ meeting on April 30.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UK: East Renfrewshire Council Launches “Books for Schools” Project

On 31st March 2011 East Renfrewshire council invited representatives of 24 local primary schools to attend the launch of “Books for Schools” project of the Muslim Council of Britain in East Renfrewshire. The resources were funded by the council and given to each school for use when required. Ms Anne Dunn, the Quality Improvement Officer of the East Renfrewshire council, welcomed the guests and thanked all for attending the event. She introduced Mr Farrukh Hassan, the project manager of the Muslim Council of Britain, to the audience and asked him to say few words before questions and answers session. UK Islamic Mission’s Zonal chief, Dr Akhtar Saeed Bhutta and Local representative Yusuf Mian were also present and were introduced to the attendees.

The Islamic resource packs for schools are designed to facilitate the teaching of Islam, which is already part of the national school’s curriculum, alongside the teaching of other world religions. Resource packs are made up of books, artefacts, CD, video and tailor-made teaching aids for primary school children at Key Stage 1 (7 year olds) and Key Stage 2 (11 year olds). The resource packs cover basic Muslim beliefs and practices, through engaging and interactive class and small group projects.

The books and other resources are being utilized by thousands of schools in the United Kingdom with excellent feedback from schools’ staff. Farrukh Hassan said, “The future is in the hands of young people in our schools today. The better they understand each other, the more secure their future will be. The Books for Schools project can make a significant contribution to that understanding.”

Dr Akhtar Saeed Bhutta of the UKIM said, “I have had the opportunity to explore the various resources within the pack and believe this is a really excellent collection of material which can greatly assist the understanding of Islam, both for teachers and children. In this way it can make a valuable contribution to community cohesion”.

[JP note: Insidious, inexorable Islamification of the UK’s dhimmi population which probably has all the Quality Improvement Officers it could ever wish for.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Prime Minister Can Deny Prisoners the Vote Says Senior Judge

David Cameron is free to deny prisoners the right to vote without interference from the courts, one of the country’s most senior judges said yesterday.

The Prime Minister can defy European human rights judges without fear of a battle with the judiciary, Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger said.

It clears the way for Mr Cameron to reject demands that Britain allow inmates to vote and removes the risk of £150million compensation claims from criminals.

And the Master of the Rolls — the leading civil law judge in England — revealed there were deep concerns among judges that the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights had become too big for its boots.

He said judges ‘think that there is something in the view that Strasbourg is getting rather too interventionist in some areas’ and believe it is trying to dictate laws to Europe.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: School Leavers Unfit for Work: ‘Firms Forced to Spend Billions on Remedial Training for Victims of Education Failure’

Firms are spending billions on remedial training for school leavers who are not capable of work, a business leader said yesterday.

In a scathing attack on Labour’s legacy, he said the youngsters are the victims of an ‘education failure’, and called for the urgent return of grammar schools.

The comments by David Frost, the outgoing director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, came on the day teachers at one secondary school went on strike in protest over their uncontrollable pupils.

At another, a headmistress exasperated with slovenly standards of behaviour and continual fiddling with electronic gadgets, handed out more than 700 detentions in four days.

Both cases highlight a crisis in discipline which many believe has contributed to a drop in attainment by many children.

Mr Frost, who speaks for more than 100,000 British businesses, told the BCC annual conference in London: ‘Despite the billions that have been spent over the last decade, business relentlessly bemoans the lack of skills available.

‘What they are really describing is a failure of the education system.

‘A system where half of all kids fail to get five decent GCSEs simply means that five years later we spend billions offering them remedial training to make them work-ready.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


Kosovo: First Female President is Upbeat About Talks With Serbia

Pristina, 8 April (AKI) — Atifete Jahjaga, who was elected as the first woman president of Kosovo Thursday evening, said she was optimistic about ongoing talks with Serbia, which opposes Kosovo independence declared by majority Albanians three years ago.

Jahjaga, 36, was won with 80 votes in the 120-seat parliament in a deal between the ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo and main opposition group, the Democratic Alliance of Kosovo.

She replaced a Swiss-based businessman Bedzet Pacoli, who resigned last month after only one month in office, following the Constitutional Court ruling that that there had been irregularities in his election.

In her first address to the parliament, Jahjaga said Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo had shared a “bad past”, but expressed the hope the talks will bring about a turn for better future.

“Since we can’t change the past, we will build future, learning on the errors of the past,” she said. “The dialogue will be successful and it should return peace and stability to the region,” she added.

The European Union has conditioned Serbia’s and Kosovo advances towards EU membership on resolving the outstanding disputes. Kosovo has been recognized by 75 countries, including the United States and 22 EU members.

“Kosovo’s ideal is a membership in the EU and a lasting friendship with the United States,” American-educated Jahjaga said. “I hope and am sure that our dreams will become a reality,” she added.

US ambassador to Pristina, Christopher Dell, who forged the deal between political parties to overcome the crisis triggered by Pacoli’s resignation, said Jahjaga’s election represented “a new chapter in the history of Kosovo”.

The deal includes constitutional changes which would provide for election of president by direct popular vote and general elections to be held at the latest by 2013.

Dell said Jahjaga enjoyed a full support of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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

North Africa

Insurgents Accuse NATO of Not Attacking Gaddafi Forces

(AGI) Benghazi — Insurgents in Misrata have accused NATO of not attacking Muammar Gaddafi’s militias besieging the city on the Gulf of Sirte with enough determination. A spokesman for the insurgents said, “We now doubt NATO’s intentions. We informed them on the positions of Gaddafi’s forces in the city and they are not close to any civilian settlements. We have officially informed them and assumed responsibility for the possible presence of any civilians. For the moment NATO has done nothing.” .

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

Libya: London Speeds Up, Asks Arab Countries to Train Rebels

(ANSAmed) — LONDON, APRIL 7 — The UK of David Cameron is exercising pressure, both on military and diplomatic level. The RAF is converting four Typhoon fighter planes for air-to-ground operations, to increase its fire power on the military targets of the Libyan leader. At the same time, the government will ask the Arab nations that support the coalition to train the rebels.

According to sources in the cabinet, quoted by The Guardian, one of the countries that could offer to train the rebels is Jordan. “They have the best officials and probably the best army in the region”, the source explained. It will not be a short operation though: it could take at least a month to turn the rebels into an effective force, able to carry out offensive manoeuvres against Gaddafi’s forces. “The rebels”, the source continued, “are not advancing, they’re just driving up the road, and when they see guns drawn they turn round and go back again”.

This has led to the idea of private security firms hired by Arab countries — in this case Qatar or the United Arab Emirates — as a method to avoid violation of the UN resolution or hurt the feelings of people in the Middle East.

Time is short though. According to London, a ceasefire will soon be unavoidable: at that point people will look at the maps of Libya and reach conclusions. But the rebels seem unable to tip the balance.

But tensions are rising in Benghazi as well. Abdel-Fattah Younis, head of the rebels’ military operations, has criticised the slow pace of the NATO intervention and the little progress made at Misrata. Apart from France and the UK, the Guardian claims, only Denmark, Canada and Norway have decided to participate in the air strikes.

Meanwhile the military operations are getting more complicated. “Our opponents are learning”, said another source in government. “The regime is now using lorries that are similar to the one used by the rebels, and is positioning its tanks close to civilian buildings: destroying them means taking an enormous risk”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Libya: US General Says Conflict ‘Settling Into Stalemate’

Tripoli, 8 April (AKI/Bloomberg) — The fight between Muammar Gaddafi’s forces and Libyan rebels is settling into a stalemate, the US general who led the opening phase of the alliance military operation said, as the UK announced that a ship carrying humanitarian aid reached the besieged rebel-held city of Misrata.

Nato commanders are deploying more warplanes in their effort to halt forces loyal to Gaddafi. The military alliance’s jets flew 73 missions to identify and engage possible ground targets yesterday, up from 66 the day before. Rebels fleeing toward the city of Ajdabiya in eastern Libya said their tanks and a convoy were mistakenly hit by Nato fighter jets. Ten rebels were killed, according to news reports.

US Army general Carter Ham, who heads the US Africa Command, testified before a US Senate panel that the use of Nato air power is “increasingly problematic” when it comes to hitting regime forces without endangering civilians and opposition fighters. Sending arms to the rebels is not a good idea until US officials have a “better understanding of exactly who the opposition force is,” he said.

Asked by Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona whether the situation on the ground is “basically a stalemate,” Ham said, “Senator, I would agree with that at present.”

A ship carrying food and medical aid has reached Misrata. The ship, the Marianne Danica, was chartered by the United Nations World Food Program and was carrying medicine for 30,000 people for one month as well as high-energy protein biscuits for 10,000 people, water purification kits and other aid, UK International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell’s ministry said in an e-mailed statement today.

Former Libyan energy minister Omar Fathi bin Shatwan, who fled to Malta 1 Apri, said that the situation in Misrata is dire. “I came from Misrata, a city that has been under siege for 48 days, people are being killed every day, they have been surrounded by the loyalist troops and they are attacking all the time,” he said in an interview. “They have destroyed the city, cut off all water and electricity supplies. There is no food or medicines, there is nothing but fear and dead bodies all over the place,” he said.

While Shatwan praised the opening phase of coalition involvement, he criticized Nato’s command.

“It was good when military action was being led by the US, UK and France, but since Nato took over, it is a mess, and there is no real will to liberate Libya from the hardships Gaddafi troops are putting the Libyan people in,” he said.

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who met with her Italian counterpart Franco Frattini in Washington earlir this week, said the two considered how coalition countries can “do more to help the opposition make very fast progress.” The question of providing weapons may be discussed further at a meeting of Nato foreign ministers on 14 April and 15 in Berlin.

The UK is seeking to persuade Arab countries to train Libyan rebels, either directly or by paying private companies to do the work, a British defense official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. He said Qatar or other Arab governments would have to provide the people and finance to avoid any allegations of Western “boots on the ground.”

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

Libya: NATO Refuses to Apologise for Friendly Fire Incident

(AGI) Naples — Rear admiral Russ Harding, issued no apology for yesterday’s friendly fire incident in Brega. The deputy commander of the Unified Protector mission in Libya, explained: “I am not going to apologise because up to that point we hadn’t seen any armoured cars driven by the rebels.” He added: “Today we have documentary evidence of armoured cars that attack civilians, just as we know that civilians are used as human shields and that Gaddafi’s army is positioning armoured cars near mosques and schools, to stop us bombing them.”

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

Libya: Gen.: U.S. Troops Not Ideal, But May be Considered in Libya

The United States may consider sending troops into Libya with a possible international ground force that could aid the rebels, according to the general who led the military mission until NATO took over. Army Gen. Carter Ham also told lawmakers Thursday that added American participation would not be ideal, and ground troops could erode the international coalition and make it more difficult to get Arab support for operations in Libya.

Ham said the operation was largely stalemated now and was more likely to remain that way since America has transferred control to NATO.

He said NATO has done an effective job in an increasingly complex combat situation. But he noted that, in a new tactic, Muammar Qaddafi’s forces are making airstrikes more difficult by staging military forces and vehicles near civilian areas such as schools and mosques.

The use of an international ground force is a possible plan to bolster rebels fighting forces loyal to the Libyan leader, Ham said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Asked if the U.S. would provide troops, Ham said, “I suspect there might be some consideration of that. My personal view at this point would be that that’s probably not the ideal circumstance, again for the regional reaction that having American boots on the ground would entail.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Post-Mubarak Egypt Has Islamists Calling for Modesty Police

Call adds to concerns among liberals that the country is going Islamic after attacks on Muslim mystic tombs, Christians

Officialsof the Al-Gama’a Al-Islamiyya, one of Egypt’s leading Islamic groups, have called for the establishment of a Saudi-style modesty police to combat “immoral” behavior in public areas in what observers say in another sign of a growing Islamic self-confidence in the post-Mubarak era.

Al-Gama’a has taken part in armed attacks in Egypt in the 1980s and 1990s, the most famous of which — the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981. But now the group, which is officially still outlawed, has indicated its intention to join Egypt’s new political arena.

In the political sphere, the Gama’a supported the larger Muslim Brotherhood’s successful drive to get voters to approve a package of constitutional amendments. On the street level, at least 20 attacks were perpetrated against the tombs of Muslim mystics (suffis), who are the subject of popular veneration but disparaged by Islamic fundamentalists, or salafis. After some initial hesitation, Islamic leaders have publicly praised the revolution.

“This is incredibly worrying to many Egyptians,” Maye Kassem, a political scientist at the American University in Cairo (AUC), told The Media Line. “The salafis were always undercover in Egypt and now they are emerging as a political force. They are getting too vocal.”

Newly freed from the political strictures of the Mubarak era, Egypt has turned into a battleground between those who envision a liberal, secular state and those who advocate various shades if Islam. The conflict mirrors those taking place elsewhere in the region. In Bahrain, unrest has evolved into a conflict between Sunni- and Shiite Muslims and the U.S. has pulled back from supporting Libyan rebels over concerns they are dominated by Islamists.

Issam Durbala, a member of the Gama’a’s Shura council, told the Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Youm on Sunday, that he supported the establishment of a virtue police, or Hisbah, which had existed in medieval Islamic societies to oversee public virtue and modesty, mostly in the marketplace and other public gathering spaces.

But he seemed to stop short of advocating a force along then lines of that which operates in Saudi Arabia today under the auspices of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. It enforces a dress code, separation of sexes and the observances of prayer times.

“The new police must have a department with limited authorities to arrest those who commit immoral acts,” Durbala told the newspaper.

Nevertheless, liberal, secular Egyptians, who led the protests that brought down President Husni Mubarak and ushered in a new but as yet undefined era in Egypt, regard the proposal as the latest sign that Islamists are emerging as the dominant force in the country.

Sa’id Abd Al-Azim, a leader of the salafi movement in Alexandria, attacked Egyptian “liberals” for waging a media campaign against his movement.

“Despite the attacks against the salafi movement, it is constantly advancing — untouched by the attack,” Abd Al-Azim told Al-Masry Al-Youm. “If the Christians want safety they should submit to the rule of God and be confident that the Islamic sharia [law] will protect them.”

But it was not only Islamic fundamentalists who foresaw a growing role for Islam in Egypt. In an editorial published in the New York Times April 1, Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, the country’s leading religious figure, condemned the attacks saying they harmed Islamic unity. But he said the world must expect a more Islamic, albeit tolerant, Egypt.

“Egypt is a deeply religious society,” Gomaa wrote. “It is inevitable that Islam will have a place in our democratic political order … while religion cannot be completely separated from politics, we can ensure that it is not abused for political gain.”

Last Tuesday, Egypt’s foreign minister, Nabil Al-Arabi, said his country was interested in “opening a new page with all countries, including Iran,” which he said was “not an enemy state.” Egypt and Iran have not enjoyed full diplomatic relations since 1979, when Iran’s Islamic revolution took place and Egypt signed a historic peace treaty with Israel and gave shelter to the ailing Shah of Iran. On Wednesday, Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi welcomed the Egyptian overture and said he hoped to witness an “expansion of ties” between the two countries.

Nagib Gibrail, a Coptic attorney and head of the Egyptian Union of Human Rights, said the Egyptian revolution had been kidnapped by Islamist radicals.

“There are areas in Egypt where Christian girls can’t walk outside after eight o’clock in the evening for fear of being kidnapped,” Gibrail told The Media Line. “Moderate Muslims should be more scared than Christians. It is very worrying that the military regime hasn’t issued a statement declaring Egypt a secular state.”

Maye Kassem of AUC said parliamentary elections should be postponed in order to allow smaller liberal opposition groups to properly organize. Parliamentary elections are to be held by September, with presidential elections following a month or two later, according to a timetable announced by the government last week.

“We need a longer transition period,” Kassem said. “Otherwise, we will revert to a dictatorship which is not what we were fighting for.”

In a four-page essay titled “The Tsunami of Change,” American-Yemeni cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki, an Al-Qaeda propagandist, referred last week to the popular protest movements sweeping the Arab world.

“I wonder whether the West is aware of the upsurge of mujahedeen activity in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Arabia, Algeria and Morocco?” Al-Awlaki wrote in the English language Al-Qaeda magazine Inspire. “The mujahedeen around the world are going through a moment of elation.”

           — Hat tip: AC [Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Ban on Worshippers Praying in Streets

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, APRIL 8 — A ban has been enforced in Tunisia against worshippers praying on streets and in public spaces. The news was announced in an official statement by the Interior Ministry, and follows growing protests from citizens who have been caught up in traffic jams — especially in the centre of large cities in the country — caused by Muslim worshippers praying in streets, at junctions and on pavements.

There have also been protests by shopkeepers, who have seen their shops “sealed off” by worshippers in prayer. “The law must be respected,” the Ministry wrote in a statement, adding that “such phenomena and behaviour are not in line with Tunisian society”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Netanyahu: Land of Israel Faithful in Germany

by Hillel Fendel

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is in Germany today, hoping to ward off European endorsement for a unilaterally-declared PLO state.

His alternative plan is almost equally worrisome to the nationalist camp — members of which are also in Germany, meeting with Freedom Party leaders.

German officials said that on the table in today’s talks between Netanyahu and German Chancellor Angela Merkel include ideas to break the stalemate in the negotiations between Israel and the PA, as well as the upheaval in parts of the Arab world.

Israel fears that the Quartet of Middle East peacemakers — the United Nations, European Union, Russia and United States — will endorse the PLO state initiative when they convene in Germany later this month. The UN General Assembly is likely to vote on the matter when it convenes this September.

Netanyahu’s Alternative…

It is assumed that Netanyahu will present Merkel with an alternative plan of his own to get the negotiations going again. However, because it is based on Netanyahu’s support for a PA state — albeit demilitarized and recognizant of Israel as the Jewish national home — it has aroused great opposition among Israel’s nationalist camp.

“…Will Lead to Islamic Caliphate” In fact, a delegation of Land of Israel faithful paid a visit of their own to Europe this week, warning that Netanyahu’s plan would actually do nothing less than bring about “a second Holocaust upon the Jewish people, destroy Western culture, and lead to an Islamic conquest of the European continent.”

The delegation includes Prof. Hillel Weiss of Bar Ilan University, Rabbi Shalom Wolpe of Chabad, and the Shomron Regional Council’s David HaIvri. They were invited by and met with European freedom parties fighting against Islam, and spoke in Berlin, Cologne, and in Antwerp to Members of Parliament, party heads and public representatives.

Their message was that the division of the Land of Israel and Jerusalem will lead to the rise of a Muslim Caliphate and to the victory of jihad. They also emphasized that, reminiscent of the early days of the Hitler regime, many European countries cooperate with Iran in its nuclear program and with massive support for its economy, a “phony” embargo notwithstanding.

The European hosts read aloud a declaration at a ceremony in the city of Genselkirschen. Selected quotes:

“We, the leaders of the Freedom Parties all over Europe, fear for the fate, the character and the ancient culture of the continent because of the Muslim waves of conquest enveloping it — and first and foremost, because of the moral corruption that has overtaken the weak leaders of Europe and the European Union. We warn against political, economic and military cooperation. with terror states and terror organizations, instead of [the countries] fulfilling their obligation to ban them and fight against them.

“This conduct is connected to the demands and the heavy pressure by the European Union on the State of Israel while abandoning its security, in order to recognize a sovereign Palestinian state and while allocating inexhaustible resources to the Palestinian state and its leadership.

“The formation of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state and the division of Jerusalem will lead to a second Holocaust on the Jewish People and will constitute the greatest victory for fundamentalist Islam, and this is what will give it the momentum to conquer the rest of the world.

“We stand behind the position of our friends, residents of Judea and Samaria, as guardians of the Jewish People to defend their forefathers’ inheritance against any foe or attacker, and await together with them our joint victory over the evil and darkness spreading throughout the world.”

[Return to headlines]

Netanyahu: Fire Against School Bus “A Red Line”

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, APRIL 8 — “Fire against a bus carrying children represents the crossing of a red line,” according to the Israeli Prime Minister, Benyamin Netanyahu. Speaking from Prague, Netanyahu condemned the launch of an anti-tank rocket from Gaza against an Israeli school bus. Responsibility for the attack, in which one boy was seriously injured, has been claimed by the armed wing of Hamas.

“Those who look to harm children,” he said, “have their own blood on their heads,” a Hebrew term that means to be liable to death.

According the private television station Channel 2, which reported the PM’s words, Netanyahu may have implicitly threatened the resumption of targeted executions of senior Hamas officials.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Pakistan Poised to Dispatch Army to Saudi Arabia

Move seen as effort to assure Sunni Islam dominance

Pakistan is prepared to move two army divisions into Saudi Arabia to protect the kingdom in the event of any outbreak of trouble, such as what has happened in Bahrain, Yemen, Egypt, Libya and other Middle East and North African nations, informed sources say in a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

It also is ready to help recruit ex-Pakistani military personnel for Bahrain’s national guard, the sources report.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Syria: Kurds in Northeast, Foreigners in Their Homeland

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, APRIL 8 — Syria’s Kurdish population is part of the same ethnic group as the Iraqi Kurds (non-Arab) which totals over 20 million people worldwide, mainly concentrated in the current territories of Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Most of the Kurds are Sunni Muslims, and the Kurdish population in Northern Iraq has enjoyed a significant level of administrative autonomy since 1992 compared to their “brothers” in neighbouring countries. In Syria, since 1962 over 100,000 Kurds in the northeast region, rich in oil fields and bordering with Iraq and Turkey, have been denied their right of citizenship. For a half century and until today’s decision, they were not able to access essential services such as education and healthcare, and they did not have civil or political rights. A census carried out 49 years ago established that tens of thousands of Kurds living in this region of great strategic value for Damascus were “foreigners” who illegally arrived from nearby Turkey before the birth of Syria as an independent state.

The ban on owning land imposed on these “makitumin” (deprived) Kurds, who have not held passports or identification cards since 1962, and have only had permits for local use, has been attributed to the fear of the Syrian authorities that this non-Arab minority could make a claim for independence and be tempted by their Iraqi “brothers” across the border to take part in a national project for the creation of an independent Kurdistan.

However, until 1998, based on an anti-Turkish stance, the Syrian regime had supported the pro-independence cause of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) led by their former leader Abdullah Ocalan. Before being arrested by secret services in Ankara, Ocalan was hosted in Damascus for a long period of time and his militias used the Syrian side of the northern border to launch attacks against the Turkish Army.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Syria: Kurds Protest in Northeast, Protests in Daraa Resume

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, APRIL 8 — Hundreds of Kurds took to the streets today in the northeast of Syria, shouting slogans for “freedom”, reports human rights activist Wissam Tarif, citing eyewitnesses, interviewed over the phone by ANSA. The sources that were cited specified that Kurdish protestors staged demonstrations in Qamishli and Amuda, two small towns on the border with Turkey and Iraq, in the rich northeast region. Yesterday Syrian President Bashar al Assad granted citizenship rights after a half century to tens of thousands of Kurds in the region. Several Kurdish parties that are not recognised by the authorities in the country called the measure insufficient and backed new anti-regime protests scheduled for today across Syria. Meanwhile, thousands of Syrian anti-regime protestors gathered in the central square of Daraa, in the south part of the country and the epicentre of the repression that has taken place in recent weeks by security forces, report eyewitnesses cited by monitoring site Rassd, which posts on Twitter.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Syria: Religious Figure Supporting Protests Arrested

(ANSAmed) — AMMAN, APRIL 8 — A senior religious official who has publicly supported the anti-government protests that have swept through Syria has been arrested, human rights activists report.

Sheikh Imad Rasheed was arrested on Wednesday as he was returning to Syria from Jordan, where he teaches Islamic law. “They want to make him pay for not being a regime announcer and for not trying to justify the bloody repression of the protests,” one activist said.

The 50-year old Rasheed publicly stated his concern when the country’s President, Bashar Al Assad, said that popular protests in favour of better living conditions were justified. “The fact is that people have not taken to the streets asking for more bread, but because they want freedom,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Syria Arrests Al-Arabiya Journalist

(AGI) Damascus -A journalist working for the Syrian television network Al-Arabya has been arrested by security forces in Damascus. The network confirmed the incident themselves over their website, citing reports from friends of the reporter, Mohammed Ziad Masto, who was detained on Thursday. The journalist, a resident of Norway, had returned to his native country a few days before protests exploded against the regime of Bashar Assad, to cover the events for the Al-Arabiya site.

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

Syria: Ten Killed in Daraa Clashes

(AGI) Damascus — It has been a bloody Friday in Syria with ten protesters killed by security forces in Daraa, for week the centre of protests against Bashar al-Assad’s regime, as reported by Al Jazeera sources. Initially activists had reported seven deaths. According to Syrian state TV the victims were killed by armed men who had infiltrated protests.

According to witnesses, the angry crowds in Daraa set fire to the Baath Party headquarters and destroyed a statue of Basil al Assad, the brother of the current president.

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

Tension Rises in Syria With Violent Clashes in Daraa

(AGI) Damascus — Tension between protesters and security forces is rising in Syria with clashes taking place in Daraa, in the south of the country. According to eyewitnesses thousands of protesters marched on the Palace of Justice after Friday prayers where they were attacked by security forces. When the soldiers started to throw tear gas protesters answered throwing stones.

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

Turkey’s Roma Woes Flow From Legacy of Prejudices

Prejudice and discrimination are the two biggest problems for Turkey’s Roma people. From these two issues stem many other obstacles to improving the quality of life for Roma, including improved housing, education and health services. ‘We need a profile for Roma other than as people who sing, dance, entertain or sell flowers,’ says a community leader

Friday, April 8, is celebrated as International Roma Day, but many from the community face substantial problems in Turkey.

Turkey’s Roma continue to face problems with shelter, employment, education and health services, yet their largest hardship remains prejudices, according to several community activists.

“Discrimination [against the Roma] is a serious concern, which brings about other problems such as limited education and health services, shelter problems and unemployment,” Elmas Arus, a former chairwomen of the Zero Discrimination Association and a candidate nominee for the upcoming general elections, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Saturday.

Friday, April 8, is celebrated as International Roma Day, but many from the community face substantial problems in Turkey.

Roma people are generally unable to express their concerns to public authorities due to high rates of illiteracy, thus resulting in the perpetuation of problems, Arus said.

With some exceptions, “there is lots of prejudice against Roma in Turkey, and there is a general perception that the Roma are thieves and deal in [bad affairs],” Sükrü Pündük, chairman of the Sulukule Roma Culture Cultivation and Solidarity Association, told the Daily News on Thursday.

Roma and people of other identities must come together and learn more about each other, Pündük said.

Because of the sheer number of problems for the community, improving the group’s societal position is difficult, Arus said. “A Roma child does not go to school due to financial and health problems, as well as prejudices from within and outside of the community. All these problems would have to be addressed simultaneously.”

Women are generally prevented by their families from going to school even at an early age and remain more isolated in Turkish society compared to Roma men, Arus said. “A Roma girl is not allowed to go to school after fifth grade.”

Nobody speaks of Roma lawyers or doctors, Arus said, adding that families generally have “pre-defined” roles for their children within life.

“We need a profile for Roma other than as people who sing, dance, entertain or sell flowers,” Arus said, adding that most Roma children also lack positive role models.

Media has fanned flames of discrimination

The Turkish media has always taken a discriminatory stance toward Roma people, said Arus.

“The media has fanned the flames of discrimination through its reporting,” she said, adding that articles detailing crimes “committed by the Roma” are published frequently and serve to perpetuate prejudices.

The press rarely investigates the issues thoroughly enough to determine the reasons certain Roma might commit crimes, Arus said, adding that they preferred to stay behind a “wall of fear” while poorly reflecting reality.

“A problem related to the Roma is a problem that concerns society as a whole,” she said, adding that all of Turkish society needs to contribute to generating solutions to Roma concerns.

Noting that very few non-Roma people are involved in the activities of roughly 130 Roma associations in Turkey, Arus said it was crucial for all people to be part of such associations. “This would help increase public awareness [of Roma concerns] and would provide Roma associations with experience they generally lack.”

Arus also said there was a risk of division and discriminatory attitudes among Roma people themselves in Turkey due to the presence of three distinct Gypsy groups in the country: The Roma, living in western Mediterranean provinces, the Lomari, living in the Black Sea and Central Anatolian regions, and the Domari, from Southeast Anatolia.

Individuals from these three groups occasionally refuse to cooperate with each other to address their common problems, said Arus. “I do not see the reason why, as we are all Roma.”

Roma initiative moving quickly

The Roma initiative, which was launched in Turkey in March 2010 to integrate Roma into Turkish society and address their concerns more effectively, has progressed at a quick pace, said Arus.

“There is still a lot to do, but we have at least made our voice heard. This is very important,” she said.

Pündük said, however, that the initiative had failed to develop projects and approaches for solutions to Roma’s problems.

“Roma people have raised their voice, but social and gentrification projects, [a must for improving the situation] have not been developed,” he said.

Roma people have been affected the most severely by Turkey’s urban transformation projects, Pündük said.

“Almost all houses demolished as part of different urban transformation projects belonged to Roma people,” he said, adding that many also lost their jobs after buildings were demolished in areas subject to gentrification.

While Turkey’s 3.5 million Roma live in difficult conditions, they are better off than many of their cultural brethren in Europe because the Turkish government has been more proactive about addressing their problems, Arus said.

“There is discrimination against Roma in Turkey, as with other communities, such as the Laz, the Kurds and the Alevis,” Pündük said.

Roma candidate nominees run for upcoming elections

Seven Roma have filed applications to become candidates for the coming general elections in June in Turkey, according to Arus, who said this was the most positive development since the Roma initiative was launched.

Five of the Roma candidate nominees have applied to be included on the candidate lists of the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP: Ayhan Küçükboyaci, a well known Turkish percussionist also referred to as “Balik Ayhan,” Erdinç Çekiç, the chairman of the Edirne Roma Association and Elmas Arus, a filmmaker and former chair of the Zero Discrimination Association have all applied to be included on the AKP’s lists for Istanbul. Moreover, Cemal Bekle, a sociology graduate, and Efkan Özçimen, a primary school graduate, have also applied to be included on the AKP’s lists in the provinces of Izmir and Bursa, respectively.

Two other Roma, primary school graduate Abdullah Çistir and sociology graduate Özcan Purçcu, have applied for candidature with the main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, lists in Izmir.

At least one Roma will be a deputy after the June elections, should Prime Minister Erdogan keep his word given at his speech at the launching ceremony of the Roma Initiative on March 14, 2010.

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

South Asia

ISAF Captures Al Qaeda’s Top Kunar Commander

By Bill Roggio

Coalition and Afghan special operations teams captured al Qaeda’s top military commander in Kunar during a raid in the eastern province late last year.

Abu Ikhlas al Masri served as al Qaeda’s operations commander before he was captured in a special operations raid in Kunar in December 2010.

Abu Ikhlas is an Egyptian citizen who has spent years in Afghanistan and has intermarried with the local tribes. He maintains an extensive network in Kunar due to his close links with the tribes. Abu Ikhlas was named al Qaeda’s operations chief for Kunar province in early 2008. He assumed command of Kunar operations after his predecessor, Abu Ubaidah al Masri, was promoted to take over al Qaeda’s external operations branch (Abu Ubaidah died in early 2008 of a disease).

Abu Ikhlas’s capture was reported by The Wall Street Journal today in an article that noted al Qaeda’s strong presence in Kunar and the Afghan east. In March, The Long War Journal was aware of Abu Ikhlas’s capture, but held the information at the request of US intelligence officials, who cited operational security concerns. Abu Ikhlas is currently being interrogated and has provided information on al Qaeda’s network in Kunar and the wider east.

Kunar province is a known sanctuary for al Qaeda and allied terror groups. The presence of al Qaeda cells has been detected in the districts of Pech, Shaikal Shate, Sarkani, Dangam, Asmar, Asadabad, Shigal, and Marawana; or eight of Kunar’s 15 districts, according to an investigation by The Long War Journal.

Despite the known presence of al Qaeda camps in the provinces, US troops have abandoned several combat outposts in Kunar and the neighboring province of Nuristan after major attacks on remote bases. US Army commanders said that the outposts were closed or turned over to Afghan forces as part of a new counterinsurgency strategy to secure population centers.

But as the US military began drawing down its forces in Kunar and Nuristan in late 2009, it acknowledged that al Qaeda camps were in operation in Kunar. ISAF noted these camps and bases when it announced the death of an al Qaeda leader during a raid on a base in late 2009, as well as in a press release announcing the deaths of two senior al Qaeda operatives in 2010. On Dec. 1, 2009, ISAF announced that Qari Masiullah, the al Qaeda chief of security for Kunar province, was killed during an operation in Kunar. Masiullah ran a training camp that taught insurgents how to use and emplace IEDs that were used in attacks on Afghan civilians and Afghan and Coalition forces throughout the provinces of Nangarhar, Nuristan, Kunar, and Laghman.

On Oct. 11, 2009, US forces targeted an al Qaeda base in the mountains in Pech. The raid targeted an unnamed al Qaeda commander who is known to use a mountainside base near the village of Tantil to conduct attacks in the Pech Valley. The al Qaeda leader, who was not named, and his cadre are also known to facilitate the movement of “foreign fighters” from Pakistan into Afghanistan. ISAF uses the term foreign fighters to describe operatives of al Qaeda and allied terror groups from outside Afghanistan.

In October 2010, ISAF identified another al Qaeda camp in Kunar, when US aircraft bombed a compound in the Korengal Valley. Among those killed in the strike was a senior al Qaeda commander and two operatives. Abdallah Umar al Qurayshi, a Saudi, was a senior al Qaeda commander who coordinated the attacks of a group of Arab fighters in Kunar and Nuristan provinces and also maintained extensive contacts with al Qaeda facilitators throughout the Middle East. The two operatives also confirmed killed in the strike were Abu Atta al Kuwaiti, an explosives expert; and Sa’ad Mohammad al Shahri, a longtime jihadist and the son of a retired Saudi colonel.

Special operations teams have been hunting top al Qaeda leaders and its network for years. Last summer, ISAF announced it was hunting Qari Zia Rahman, who serves as the Taliban’s top regional commander in the northeast and as a senior military leader in al Qaeda. He operates in Kunar and neighboring Nuristan province in Afghanistan, and he also operates across the border in Pakistan’s tribal agencies of Bajaur and Mohmand.

Rahman has been the target of three large conventional operations and multiple special operations raids over the past year. Conventional US and Afghan forces are currently conducting a major offensive, Operation Iron Eagle III, in the eastern Kunar districts of Sar Kani and Marawara. The US military said Qari Zia Rahman is not the target of the operation but acknowledged he uses the area frequently.

“This is not focused on QZR [Qari Zia Rahman] per se, but overall insurgent operations in the area,” Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Seiber told The Long War Journal. “But it does happen to be in an area he’s worked in previously and if we were able to get him that would certainly be an added bonus/benefit.”

More than 100 Taliban fighters and six US soldiers have been killed during the ongoing operation in Kunar. The governor of Kunar province said 132 Taliban fighters have been killed, 20 have been wounded, and 47 more have been captured during the operation. The governor claimed that many of those killed were “foreigners” but did not provide numbers or nationalities.

US and Afghan special operations teams are also launching raids targeting Qari Zia Rahman during the current Kunar operation.

           — Hat tip: AC [Return to headlines]

Far East

Defiant Japanese Boat Captain Rode Out Tsunami

Oshima, Japan (CNN) — Susumu Sugawara looks bemused and a little embarrassed at all the attention he’s getting.

The 64 year old has become a local hero on the Japanese island of Oshima. Smashed boats adorn the coastline of this once-idyllic tourist spot, but Sugawara’s pride and joy, “Sunflower” is intact and working overtime transporting people and aid to and from the island. It can hold around 20 people at a time.

When the tsunami came, everyone ran to the hills. But Sugawara ran to his boat and steered it into deeper waters. “I knew if I didn’t save my boat, my island would be isolated and in trouble,” he tells CNN.

As he passed his other boats, used for fishing abalone, he said goodbye to them, apologizing that he could not save them all.

Then the first wave came. Sugawara says he is used to seeing waves up to 5 meters high but this was four-times that size.

“My feeling at this moment is indescribable,” he says with glistening eyes. “I talked to my boat and said you’ve been with me 42 years. If we live or die, then we’ll be together, then I pushed on full throttle.”

“Here was my boat and here was the wave,” he says, holding one hand low and the other stretched high above his head. “I climbed the wave like a mountain. When I thought I had got to the top, the wave got even bigger.”

Sugawara’s arms flail wildly as he describes the top of the wave crashing down repeatedly onto his boat. “I closed my eyes and felt dizzy. When I opened them, I could see the horizon again, so I knew I’d made it.”

Then the next wave came. Sugawara can’t remember if there were four or five waves, but he says he did not feel afraid, he was just focused on steering his boat.

Suddenly the sea was completely calm and he knew he had beaten the tsunami. Sugawara stayed at sea until dark, pumping water from the boat’s engine room. He believed his island had been destroyed by the wave. He says he didn’t cry but felt angry and utterly helpless. He didn’t know if his family had survived.

Trying to get back to Oshima, he had to navigate carefully past wrecked houses, boats and other debris that floated past him. The island of Oshima was in complete darkness; the only way he could find his way was with the guide of raging fires at Kesunnuma — 5 kilometers (3 miles) away.

For twenty days, he has been making hourly trips to the mainland. For the first two weeks at least he provided almost the only connection with it. Without Sugawara and the Sunflower, the island would have been completely cut off.

He doesn’t ask passengers for money if they have none. Those that can, pay just 300 yen (US$3.5) towards fuel.

Oshima is an island of just 3,500 people. Locals say 35 of them are confirmed dead and some are still missing, though they don’t know how many. Others are believed to have taken their boats out to sea and tried to ride the tsunami like Sugawara but didn’t make it.

The supermarket owner, Tadaomi Sasahara, tells me he gave all of his food away for free after the disaster. Many islanders then brought their food from their homes and shared it out.

He adds, “Everyone used to look out for themselves on this island, but after this, the whole community is now helping each other.”

With his supermarket shelves empty, he now helps Sugawara with his hourly trips to the mainland.

           — Hat tip: Takuan Seiyo [Return to headlines]

Japan: The Cesium Deception: Why the Mainstream Media is Mostly Reporting Iodine Levels, Not Radioactive Cesium

Virtually all the numbers you’re seeing about the radioactivity coming out of Fukushima are based on iodine-131 which only has a half-life of 8 days, not the far more dangerous cesium-137 which has a half-life of 30 years. So while the mainstream media reports that “radiation levels are falling rapidly” from the 7.5 million times reading taken a few days ago, what they’re not telling you is that the cesium-137 radioactivity will take 30 years just to fall by 50 percent.

It’s the great global cover-up in all this: What happens to all the radioactive cesium being dumped into the ocean right now? It doesn’t just burn itself out in a few months like iodine-131. This stuff sticks around for centuries.

As part of the cover story, the FDA now says it will test “all imported food products coming from Japan”. This claim is, of course, ridiculous on its face. Even without this Fukushima emergency in the works, the FDA only tests a tiny fraction of all the food imported into the USA. This agency has no existing infrastructure under which it could test ALL the food being imported from Japan. The very idea is ludicrous.

As this ABC News story reveals, the FDA says it’s “really stretched” just to inspect a mere two percent of imported food.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Japan: TEPCO’s Reactors May Take 30 Years, $12 Billion to Scrap

Damaged reactors at the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant may take three decades to decommission and cost operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. more than 1 trillion yen ($12 billion), engineers and analysts said.

Four of the plant’s six reactors became useless when sea water was used to cool them after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out generators running its cooling systems. The reactors need to be decommissioned, Tepco Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata said today. He couldn’t give a timeframe.

All the reactors, including Units 5 and 6, will be shut down, and the government hasn’t ruled out sealing the plant in concrete, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters today in Tokyo.

The damaged reactors need to be demolished after they have cooled and radioactive materials are removed and stored, said Tomoko Murakami, a nuclear researcher at the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan. The process will take longer than the 12 years needed to decommission the Three Mile Island reactor in Pennsylvania following a partial meltdown, said Hironobu Unesaki, a nuclear engineering professor at Kyoto University.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


Boat Rescued: Italy-Malta Stand-Off

(ANSAmed) — LAMPEDUSA (AGRIGENTO) — APRIL 8 — A Maltese patrol boat has rescued a boat carrying 170 migrants. The boat, which had left the Libyan coast, was rescued in the area 40 miles off Lampedusa where a rickety boat with around 300 people on board was wrecked on Wednesday night, with only 53 of the travellers saved.

The operation tooK place at around 5:00 in the morning. After rescuing the struggling boat and transferring the migrants, the patrol boat from Valletta is said to have headed to Lampedusa, drawing up to the border of Italian territorial waters. This is thought to be the starting point for a diplomatic stand-off between the Maltese authorities and the Italian Interior Ministry, with the migrants eventually taken to Malta instead. With their arrival, the island hosts over 1.000 people who have fled from Libya.

Yesterday afternoon, a further 200 migrants travelling on a boat that broke down 51 miles from Lampedusa — after a joint intervention by Maltese and Italian patrol boats — were transferred on to the boat and taken to the island.

Another boat carrying around a hundred illegal immigrants was intercepted this morning by the Financial Guard in the Ionian Sea, off the Calabrian coasts and taken to the port of Roccella Jonica. The migrants, whose nationalities have not been disclosed, include women and children.

Meanwhile, the first flight repatriating Tunisians left Lampedusa last night, after the signature last Tuesday of a deal between Italy and Tunisia. The 30 or so Tunisians on board the flight are all said to have criminal records. This is according to sources in Lampedusa, who say that the Tunisian authorities themselves, as part of the newly signed agreement, supplied the list recording criminal activity.

With the departure in the early hours of this morning of the ship “Flaminia” for Catania and then Livorno, there are almost no migrants left on the island of Lampedusa. After an “invasion” that has lasted for weeks, there are now only 72 left. The remaining migrants are currently in the island’s reception centre and are expected to be repatriated in the coming days. The 72 arrived in Lampedusa on Wednesdady, on a boat with 104 people on board, after the signature of the agreement by the Italian Interior Minister Maroni and the Tunisian authorities.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Disturbances in Lampedusa After Deportation

(AGI) Palermo — Last night, for a while, the situation in Lampedusa grew tense. Some Tunisian immigrants created disturbances after the repatriation of 30 of their countrymen, the first made possible by an agreement with the Tunisian government. The disorders started at the Contrada Imbriacola holding center after the news broke about the removal from the island by plane of 30 deportees with alleged felony records.

Fearing the same outcome, some 74 Tunisians, who arrived Wednesday with the deported group, angrily expressed their concerns. Peace was re-establish late last night.

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

French and Italians Agree to Jointly Patrol North African Waters

(AKI) — Italy and France agreed to jointly patrol the North African coast in an effort to keep migrant boats from reaching European shores.

The accord was announced after Italian interior minister Roberto Maroni (photo) met his French counterpart Claude Gueant on Friday in the northern Italian city of Milan to ease tensions after Rome granted temporary visas to tens of thousands of mostly Tunisians that would allow them to travel north to France and other European countries.

France has been running checks on travellers and forcing migrants to return to Italy, in what Maroni on Thursday said was a display of a “hostile attitude” and a violation of the Schengen Treaty implemented in 1997 which grants free movement of people within the borders of the agreement’s 25 European signatories.

France had countered that under the so-called Chambery agreement it was entitled to return any undocumented migrants to Italy for expulsion, provided that French officials had sufficient evidence they travelled from Italy.

Maroni and Gueant said both treaties will be respected.

“The Schengen rules will be applied for the free movement of those with a temporary visa, as well as existing bilateral agreements between Italy and France,” Gueant said in Milan.

Maroni said the “French authorities are free to run checks assuming that Schengen’s rules are respected,” adding that many of the issues must still be worked out.

“A crisis can give birth to solid and concrete initiatives to solve the problems Italy and France are facing,” Maroni said.

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

Italy, France Agree Migrant Patrols, But Spat Rumbles on

Maroni satisfied after meeting, having called French ‘hostile’

(ANSA) — Rome, April 8 — Tensions between Italy and France eased on Friday when their interior ministers met here although a high-voltage spat over Italy’s migrant crisis looked far from resolved.

The neighbours agreed to operate joint patrols of waters in the Mediterranean in a bid to stop a flood of mostly Tunisian migrants landing on Italy’s shores following unrest in North Africa.

But big differences remained over what to do with some 26,000 migrants to have arrived in Italy this year, with the Italian government demanding France stop blocking those who want to cross the common border from doing so and the French insisting they have the right to turn the non-EU citizens back.

“I’m satisfied with today’s meeting,” said Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, who on Thursday accused France of adopting a “hostile attitude”, after talks with his Gallic counterpart Claude Gueant.

“From a crisis, it’s possible to create a strong, common, joint initiative like the one we decided on today to give a concrete response to the problems Italy and France are facing over migration.

“These are problems we want to resolve with Europe as part of a solidarity (effort) that we aim to stimulate and reinforce,” added Maroni, who has accused the EU of leaving Italy to handle the migrant crisis on its own.

Tensions simmering for weeks boiled over on Thursday, when Italy approved a decree to issue many of the migrants with temporary permits.

The move was designed to stop France turning back migrants, despite the Schengen Agreement that abolished border controls in much of mainland Europe, on the grounds that they did not have any papers.

But the French government countered the move with an interior ministry order telling border officials to make sure migrants from third countries complied with a series of conditions for entry in addition to the possession of residence permits.

These included a “valid travel document recognized by France” and proof of having “sufficient (economic) resources” and the officials also had to be satisfied “their presence does not represent a threat to public order”.

Neither side showed any signs of backing down on Friday and the dispute may now be taken to the European Union level, with a meeting of European interior ministers chaired by Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom set to take place in Brussels Monday.

“The rules of the Schengen Agreement and bilateral treaties between Italy and France should be applied to the issue that caused the controversy,” said Maroni, who argued on Thursday that France had to accept the migrants or leave Schengen altogether. Gueant continued to disagree: “As regards the temporary residence permits, we’ll act in compliance with Schengen but also with Article Five, which says migrants must have documents and (sufficient) economic resources (to enter)”. A European Commission spokesman said Friday there were grey areas concerning the application of the Schengen Agreement, while stressing the possession of a residence permit does not guarantee a migrant the right to travel throughout the Schengen area. photo: migrants in southern Italy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Maroni: France Out of Schengen if Stops Tunisians

(ANSAmed) — ROME, APRIL 7 — Talks have been held in Milan this morning between the Interior Minister, Roberto Maroni, and his French counterpart, Claude Gueant, to assess the issue of migrants following yesterday’s clash between Italy and France over the temporary permits decided by Italy yesterday for around 20,000 Tunisians and the driving back of those who crossed the border between Italy and France at Ventimiglia.

“Tomorrow I will tell the French Interior Minister, Claude Gueant, that the Tunisians to whom we issue temporary permits have the right to circulate,” Maroni said last night on a television programme. “There is only one way to stop this: for France to leave the Schengen area or to suspend the treaty”. If Tunisians who have been given a temporary residence permit by Italy attempt to cross the border, “France cannot reject them,” Maroni said.

“The circular letter issued by the French Interior Minister to police chiefs does not say that the temporary permit is not valid, but lays down five conditions that are all satisfied,” he said. As a result, “there is no need for talks: France’s objections are not based on the existing rules”.

“I understand that there are elections in France in 2012, and that Sarkozy faces competition from the far-right,” Maroni said, “ but flexing muscles is wrong, and placing troops on the borders is the biggest mistake”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Netherlands: Government Pledges to Get Tough on Anti-Gay Violence

Violence against gay men and women is to be given higher police priority and the perpetrators face tougher sentences, justice minister Ivo Opstelten and emancipation minister Marja van Bijsterveldt said on Thursday.

‘Violence against gays is unacceptable and gay men and lesbians must be able to count on the state to ensure their safety,’ Opstelten is quoted as saying.

In particular, ministers will focus on a ‘cultural change’ to boost the acceptance of gay lifestyles by members of orthodox religious groups and ethnic minority groups, the Telegraaf said.

Schools will also get special focus. Research published by the government’s social policy unit SCP last year showed that 12% of young gay teenagers had attempted to commit suicide.

That research also showed 9% of the population still have serious objections to homosexuality, one in five people don’t think gay people should be allowed to adopt children and one in 10 thinks same sex marriage should be abolished.

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