News Feed 20110421

Financial Crisis
» China Trade: Trump ‘Onto Something Even Bigger Than People Realize’
» Greece: Unions Protest Against Privatisation
» Italy: Finance Minister Defends Anti-Takeover Measure
» Netherlands: EU Budget Increase ‘Out of All Proportion’ Says Finance Minister
» UK: Rich Should be Forced to Help the Poor, Says Archbishop of Canterbury
 
USA
» 700 Surround Islamic Center to Protest Terry Jones’ Rally Plans
» Barack Obama Racially Abused as Boy, Says Book on ‘Beaten’ Mother
» Confirmed: CBS Editors Refuse to Release Full Audio of Obama Hot Mic Recording!
» ‘Decapitate’ Email Prompted Complaint Against Outgoing Homeland Security Official
» Democrats Trying to Steal Wisconsin Race
» From Medical Dependency to Dependency on the Welfare State
» National Forum “From Symbols of Hate to Portraits of Understanding”
» New York Times/CBS News Poll Finds Few Favorites as Republican Fight for President Gels
» Obama, Let My People Go
» Second Amendment Rights Once Again at Risk
» The American Press Has Dishonored Itself
» US Dept. of Justice Unveils Stealth Socialist Theme
» USA: Koran Scholar Chuck Norris Warns of Creeping Sharia
» Why Do 3 Supporters Own Obama’s Home?
 
Europe and the EU
» Angry Greeks to Sue German Magazine for Defamation
» Eurogroup Chief: ‘I’m for Secret, Dark Debates’
» First Step Towards ‘Directly Elected EU President’
» Germany: Social Democrats Go After Islam-Critic Sarrazin
» Italy: Herculaneum Opens Decumani Road
» Italy: Asbestos: Prosecutor Demands Trial for Ex Pirelli Managers
» Italy: Government Halts Nuclear Power Stations
» Italy: Sex and Booze-Filled US ‘Jersey Shore’ Series to Film in Florence
» Italy Worst for Cases at European Court of Human Rights
» Italy: Roman Mausoleum Found Under Illegal Waste Dump
» Italy: Fiat to Pay $1.27 Billion for 16% of Chrysler
» Netherlands: PVV to Put Forward Bill to Remove Queen From Government
» Turkish Membership Off EU’s Radar Screen Until 2020
» UK: Chilling Effect of Euro Judges: Public Safety Being Put at Risk by Human Rights Court, Warns Top Lib Dem Lawyer
» UK: Energy Saving Light Bulbs ‘Contain Cancer Causing Chemicals’
» UK: Muslims Celebrate the Royal Wedding
» UK: Scandal of 80,000 on Sickness Benefits for Minor Ailments… Including Diarrhoea
 
Balkans
» Serbia: Ultranationalists Jailed for Disrupting Gay Parade
 
North Africa
» 7 Libyan Civilians Killed by NATO Raid South of Tripoli
» Algeria: Security Report, 2700 Protests in 3 Months
» Clinton: No US Military Instructors to Libya
» Libya: Sarkozy to Jalil; We Will Step Up Strikes
» Libya: NTC: Algeria Supports Gaddafi’s Mercenaries
» Libya: Elections in 6 Months if NATO Strikes Cease, Obeidi
» Libya: British Marines to be Deployed in Cyprus
» Tunisia: Country Fears Spread of Fundamentalism
» U.S. Moves to Give Libya Rebels $25m in Non-Military Aid
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» Gaza: While Hamas Turns Gaza Into an Islamist State, The Western Media Praise it for Keeping ‘Law and Order’
 
Middle East
» Anti-Racism Group to March in Turkey on Armenian Commemoration Day
» Boat of 31 Migrants Lands in Apulia’s Otranto Overnight
» Football: UAE Sheikh Buys Spanish Club Getafe
» Iran: Al Jazeera: Newspaper Asks to Kill Saudis Living Abroad
» Qatar: Record Divorce Rate, 50% of Marriages Fall Apart
» Syria: Dissident Mahmoud Issa Arrested
 
Far East
» Study: EU Firms Shut Out of $1 Trillion Chinese Market
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Nigeria: Violence Erupts Among Muslims After Re-Election of Nigeria’s Christian President
» South Africa: ANC Youth Leader Julius Malema Defends ‘Shoot the Boer’ Song
» South Africa: Malema Fired Up
 
Immigration
» Boat With 20 People Rescued at Crotone
» End of Europe Without Borders? Row Over African Immigrants Threatens Free Travel
» EU Proposal: Redistribution of Refugees
» Family of 12 Ethiopian Asylum Seekers Who Have Just Landed in Britain Get £1,460-a-Week for Vast London Home
» Libya: Thousands of Illegal Immigrants Detained in Tunisia
» Mediterranean Member States, More EU Solidarity
 
Culture Wars
» Germany Expels Openly Homophobic Imam

Financial Crisis


China Trade: Trump ‘Onto Something Even Bigger Than People Realize’

The usual suspects are racing to debunk Donald Trump’s foray into the most serious protectionism — a 25 percent tariff on China — proposed by a major presidential candidate since Patrick Buchanan ran in 1992.

They know this is big. Our long-delayed national trade debate has begun.

I have expressed reservations about getting obsessed with just China before. But broadly speaking, Trump is right on the money here. Nothing less than an actual tariff or the equivalent is ever going to get Beijing to stop gaming the international trading system to America’s disadvantage.

This matters, big-time. Because until we sort out America’s trade mess — which must start by zeroing out, or close to it, our $600 billion-a-year trade deficit — our economy will never truly be healthy again.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Greece: Unions Protest Against Privatisation

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, APRIL 20 APR -GENOP trade union representatives from DEH (the Greek Public Power Corporation) are threatening to conduct a long wave of strikes to stop the company’s privatisation. According to the country’s press, they are planning a series of 48-hour strikes starting May 6 or 7 , that is to say one week before the economic overhaul plan for 2012-2015 is due to be submitted to Parliament. Among other things, the plan provides for 17% of the company to be purchased by private bidders. The trade union is also threatening to stage a sit-in at government buildings, ministries and local government headquarters across the country. Furthermore, through company chairman Nikos Fotopoulos, the union has announced it will be meeting with other Greek unions, regional decision-makers and local authorities in order for everyone to “take a stance, whether they agree or not, on the company’s privatisation and thus, in Genop’s words, build a protective wall around the company”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Finance Minister Defends Anti-Takeover Measure

Tremonti tells parliament “best defense is attack”

(ANSA) — Milan, April 20 — Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti defended a government anti-takeover decree to the House of Deputies’ Finance Committee Wednesday saying, “I believe the best defense is attack”.

The decree authorized the creation of a State-controlled fund to acquire equity in threatened companies in “strategic sectors” of the Italian economy.

Tremonti spearheaded the decree when French dairy giant Lactalis in March garnered a 29% stake in its Italian rival Parmalat, becoming its largest shareholder by far. The Parmalat board then used the decree to postpone an April shareholder meeting to appoint a new board of directors to late June, thus buying time for the State and Italian banks to organize a rival bid for control of Parmalat — or a compromise with Lactalis.

Tremonti in his testimony Wednesday added that he had “difficulty speaking now on these topics, with this method of (divulging) information and, among other things, while the stock market is open”.

Tremonti had no trouble sounding off, however, on other national matters of economic interest, such as reducing tax audits for entrepreneurs and helping them grow larger businesses.

He said the country’s current level of tax auditing “is excessive, with costs like lost time, stress, and opportunities for corruption. (It is) fiscal oppression that we should interrupt”. Tremonti said reform is needed that gives entrepreneurs the right to say, “Don’t bother me so much”. “The problem with this country’s economy is not about its defense but its development. Let’s try to be practical: 95% of the GDP is made up of companies with less than 15 employees. At the top there are few companies listed on the stock exchange, many blocked (from doing so) due to their company structure. But the number of listed companies has fallen. We must make the economy grow in dimension. That does not mean we should be ungrateful to the millions of small entrepreneurs who make up our economy. We are the second manufacturer in the world and the ideologists who have supported the opposite now are ‘retreating into the valleys’. If market dimensions grow, so should entrepreneurial (dimensions)”.

Tremonti also said a plan for national economic reform would soon become law regarding “public infrastructure, residential construction, tourism and scientific research”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Netherlands: EU Budget Increase ‘Out of All Proportion’ Says Finance Minister

The 4.9% rise in the European Union’s budget for next year is disproportional, finance minister Jan Kees de Jager said on Wednesday.

In total, the EU has published plans to spend €132.7bn next year, an increase of €6bn on 2011.

‘These proposals are out of all proportion,’ De Jager is quoted as saying by the Financieele Dagblad. ‘I cannot explain to the people of the Netherlands that the EU budget is getting bigger while everyone else has to cut back.’

European Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski, who is in charge of the community’s budget, says the increase is need to fund social projects and for research and development.

De Jager said he will try to have the budget cut during the next negotiations on the spending plans.

The British government has also said the 4.9% increase is not acceptable, the BBC reports.

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



UK: Rich Should be Forced to Help the Poor, Says Archbishop of Canterbury

The rich and powerful should be required by law to spend some time every year helping the poor and needy, says the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Rowan Williams said today a return to the medieval tradition when monarchs ritually washed the feet of the poor would serve to remind politicians and bankers what should be the purpose of their wealth and power.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 Today programme’s Thought For The Day slot, he said the Bible made clear it was the duty of the powerful to ensure ordinary people were ‘treasured and looked after’ — especially those without the resources to look after themselves.

‘What about having a new law that made all Cabinet members and leaders of political parties, editors of national papers and the hundred most successful financiers in the UK spend a couple of hours every year serving dinners in a primary school on a council estate, or cleaning bathrooms in a residential home?’ he suggested.

Alternatively, he said, they could walk the town streets at night as street pastors ‘ready to pick up and absorb something of the chaos and human mess you will find there, especially among young people’.

Because the duty to serve would be compulsory, those involved would not be able to claim credit for doing it, he added.

Dr Williams acknowledged that it might just be ‘a nice fantasy to mull over during the holiday weekend’, but insisted that it could bring genuine benefits.

‘It might do two things: reminding our leaders of what the needs really are at grassroots level so that those needs can never again just be remote statistics, and reminding the rest of us what politics and government are really for,’ he said.

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]

USA


700 Surround Islamic Center to Protest Terry Jones’ Rally Plans

Some of the interfaith clergy — Muslim, Christian, and Jew — stood hand in hand, others stood linked arm in arm, silently surrounding the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn in solidarity this afternoon.

With them stood about 700 people, members of the InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit, members of the clergies’ congregations, and supporters.

Standing around the perimeter of the Islamic center, their mission was to protest Florida pastor Terry Jones’ plan to hold a rally Friday afternoon outside the Islamic Center mosque.

Jones, known for burning the Q’uran — the Muslim holy book — a month ago as a protest against Islam was nearby at a Dearborn courthouse as Wayne County prosecutors and Dearborn police argued to make Jones pay a bond to cover the cost of security for the Dearborn rally.

As the vigil, which began at 5:15 p.m. and ended five minutes later, came to a close Islamic Center Imam Sayed Hassan Al-Qazwini said the Muslim community was “indebted to our Christian friends who have showed us absolute support.”

“Terry Jones, he is not representative of the Christian community . . . Terry Jones is speaking for himself only,” Al-Qazwini said. “This is bigotry and we condemn his bigotry.”

Al-Qazwini and other Islamic Center officials also directed the Muslim community to attend a peaceful protest at 4 p.m. Friday at the Dearborn Civic Center, away from the mosque “so as to avoid any confrontation.”

Archbishop Allen Vigneron attended the event and released a statement in support of the Muslim community.

“We have an opportunity to show the nation and the world that it is possible for peoples of many different faiths to respect one another and to foster mutual understanding,” Vigneron said.

           — Hat tip: AC [Return to headlines]



Barack Obama Racially Abused as Boy, Says Book on ‘Beaten’ Mother

Barack Obama was subjected to racial abuse as a child in Indonesia and may have witnessed his mother being beaten by his stepfather, according to a new book about her troubled life.

The book also details racism experienced by Mr Obama, then known as Barry Soetoro. Elizabeth Bryant, an American who also lived in Indonesia at the time, recalled a lunch with Mr Obama’s mother, her young son and others.

Afterwards, they took a walk, with the future president running ahead. “A flock of Indonesian children began lobbing rocks in his direction,” Scott wrote in an extract published by The New York Times. “They ducked behind a wall and shouted racial epithets.”

Miss Bryant said that he “seemed unfazed, dancing around as though playing dodge ball” with unseen players.

Scott also writes of an incident recounted by an Indonesian man called Saman. He overheard an argument in which Soetoro said to his wife: “I’ve warned you many times. Why are you still doing this?”

Afterwards, she appeared in the house with a towel pressed to her face and blood running from her nose. Scott writes: “Whether Lolo’s worry was infidelity or simply what others might think is unclear from Saman’s story.”

[Return to headlines]



Confirmed: CBS Editors Refuse to Release Full Audio of Obama Hot Mic Recording!

We observed that CBS only released “selectively edited” moments from the raw tape. We know how much the mainstream media values complete and full disclosure of recordings of this nature, so we found it curious, to say the least, that there was not one drop of intellectual curiosity from these guardians of media purity regarding the content of the full recording.

[…]

People can speculate as to what their motive is, but we suspect that they do not want to jeopardize their White House access leading into campaign season by being the ones to release the audio of His Presidency referring to Americans as “slugs.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



‘Decapitate’ Email Prompted Complaint Against Outgoing Homeland Security Official

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s outgoing communications chief is known for his combative style. But in a confrontation that was undisclosed until now, he once threatened to “f — -ing decapitate” the staff at the immigration office press shop.

The email outburst from Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Sean Smith so startled one of the employees on the receiving end that she made an internal complaint against him. She described the threat as “serious misconduct” and requested a “full investigation” from the Office of Inspector General.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Democrats Trying to Steal Wisconsin Race

Failed Democrat Kloppenburg, the Union puppet that just lost her bid for State Supreme Court, has announced that she is demanding a full RECOUNT of the votes.

You’re not going to believe this. Failed Democrat Kloppenburg, the Union puppet that just lost her bid for State Supreme Court, has announced that she is demanding a full RECOUNT of the votes, and is forcing that the taxpayers of Wisconsin pay for it.

The Tea Party Express and many local tea party chapters fought hard to protect the Wisconsin court system from an activist judge like Kloppenburg, even though the Left spent millions of dollars attacking and vilifying her conservative opponent.

There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind what this means. The politically entrenched union bosses are outraged that the people of Wisconsin saw through their agenda to elect a puppet judge. Undeterred, they are going to force a recount of the votes, given them an opportunity for more dirty tricks and fraud. In fact, the Kloppenburg campaign has already hired Al Franken’s team of recount lawyers — the same guys that made sure votes were recounted again and again until Al Franken won!

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



From Medical Dependency to Dependency on the Welfare State

According to MSNBC, a shortage of drugs used to treat ADD and ADHD has parents “scrambling” to find ways to keep their children medicated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “5.4 million children ages 4 to 17 have ever (sic) been diagnosed with ADHD, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and 66 percent of those with current ADHD take medication to control the condition.” Would it be indelicate to think that a child introduced to chemical dependency at the ripe old age of four might be a tad more amenable to government dependency further down the line?

No doubt some kids have legitimate mental illness. But color me extremely skeptical when the number of children ostensibly requiring regular doses of mind-altering medication reaches 5.4 million. Even more so after I read a Washington Post article by California child and adolescent psychiatrist Elizabeth J. Roberts, who contended her colleagues are “now misdiagnosing and overmedicating children for ordinary defiance and misbehavior. The temper tantrums of belligerent children are increasingly being characterized as psychiatric illnesses,” or when she reveals that there “was a time in the profession of child psychiatry when doctors insisted on hours of evaluation of a child before making a diagnosis or prescribing a medication. Today some of my colleagues in psychiatry brag that they can make an initial assessment of a child and write a prescription in less than 20 minutes.

Twenty minutes of diagnosis to change a kid’s life forever and that’s something to brag about? Fyi, that article was written in 2006. Does anyone seriously think there’s been a downward trend in medicating children?

[…]

Why are these kids drugged? To make them compliant. Question: is there anything more desirable for the maintenance of a top-down, command-and-control, freedom-killing bureaucracy than millions of compliant Americans?

Compliancy is the lifeblood of the welfare state. The siren song of the statists, as so eloquently, if unintentionally, articulated by Barack Obama in his “budget” speech was the idea that, without ever-expanding government, Americans are helpless, hapless, hopeless, or a combination of all three. For the statists, compassion equals government dependency, and self-reliance is tantamount to survival of the fittest. Anyone daring to suggest that most Americans ought to stand on their own two feet and pay their own way is castigated as “mean-spirited,” or “cruel” by those who consider themselves paragons of virtue.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



National Forum “From Symbols of Hate to Portraits of Understanding”

DETROIT — The current discourse in our nation regarding the dignity and respect of diverse cultures, various ethnic groups and personal sexual orientation give rise to an important need for continuous discussion related to these matters. Since the election of President Barack Obama to the Presidency of the United Sates, there has been a remarkable increase in hate talk on radio and television, stereotyping of all kinds, intolerance for different points of view and a growing threat towards physical and verbal abuse.

The recent hearings held by Congressman Peter King of New York (reminiscent of the McCarthy Era hearings) as it relates to the Muslim community are such an indication. It is important that we do not fall victim to stereotypes and finger pointing at any one community when acts of intolerance and resentment have occurred in every community. The generational stereotyping and abuse of African Americans sometimes symbolized by the burning of a cross, the use of the confederate flag and the hanging of a noose make this discussion even more important.

The lack of tolerance for immigrants seeking to come to this nation for a better life and the promise of the land of free and the home of the brave, the continuous stereotyping of members of the Jewish community, in photos and sometimes by the use of a Nazi swastika and the historic lack of respect for Native Americans rooted in the stories of the wild, wild west do not make for the best unity among reasonable people. We are not unmindful, regardless of your point of view, of the unfair and unwarranted attacks upon members of the Gay community due to their sexual preference. The escalation of bullying by young people across our nation is a reflection of the times in which we live. All of these situations have placed at our doorstep a moment for transformation and rededication to the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “do not judge each other by the color of our skin but by the content of our character.”

On Saturday, April 30, 2011 at the UAW/General Motors, located at 200 Walker Street in downtown Detroit, we will present a National Forum entitled “From Symbols of Hate to Portraits of Understanding.” This Forum will bring together members of the Muslim, African American, Native American, Latino, Jewish, and Gay communities to address, identify the problems and prescribe some solutions for these very serious matters.

This National Discussion will begin with a special presentation from Dr. David Pilgrim of Ferris State University entitled: “Them: Images of Separation” sponsored by the Jim Crow Museum of Racists Memorabilia. Other participants will be Rev. Dr. John Mendez, Pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church of Winston-Salem, NC., Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota, member of the House Financial Services Committee, David Victor, Chairman, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Ms. Nickole Fox, Health Education Director for the American Indian Health and Family Services Organization, representing the Native American Community, Curtis Lipscomb, Executive Director of KICK, representing the Gay community, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade of the Eastern District, speaking for the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Justice Department, Imam Dawud Walid, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and Mr. Paul Perez, Regional Coordinator of the Justice for Our Neighbors Organization, representing the Latino Community.

We are inviting everyone who believes that these issues are important enough to discuss and to develop remedies to prevent their negative impact to attend. This event is free and open to the public. We are pleased that our Thurgood Marshall Social Justice Advocacy Project and the Freedom Institute of Economic, Social Justice and People Empowerment are co-sponsoring this event.

Only in Detroit can we once again bring together such a diverse group at such a very critical time to deal with such critical issues. This event will come right after our Friday event dealing with Jobs, Jobs, Jobs for Detroiters and others in Wayne County at Cobo Hall, 9:00a.m. to 3:00p.m. who are in need of economic and social opportunities to develop a very positive life and productive future. It will come one day before our 56t1i Annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner featuring the Civil Rights Icon, the Honorable John Lewis as our keynote speaker, and Xernona Clayton, former secretary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Founder of the Trumpet Awards, who is the recipient of our James Weldon Johnson Lifetime Achievement Award and other recognized citizens for their great work in our community such as Detroit 300, members of the Detroit Police Department, 6th Precinct, Mr. Kid Rock, and Senator Bert Johnson.

Our diversity continues. We are consistently working to grow people together and not to grow them apart. Our theme for this dinner is “We’ve Changed the Guard, Now Let’s Guard the Change.” All persons are invited to join with us on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

This will certainly be one of the most diverse and exciting Fight for Freedom Fund Dinners in Detroit’s history.

For more information on the 56th Annual Fight For Freedom Dinner and to purchase tickets please call (313) 871-2087 or visit www.detroitnaacp.org.

The Detroit Branch NAACP is the organization’s largest branch. It holds monthly meetings that are free and open to the public. For more information please call (313) 871-2087 or visit www.detroitnaacp.org.

           — Hat tip: RE [Return to headlines]



New York Times/CBS News Poll Finds Few Favorites as Republican Fight for President Gels

With less than a year to go before the Iowa caucuses, Republican voters have yet to form strong opinions about most of their potential candidates for president in 2012, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

Only those possible contenders who regularly appear on television — or have made bids before — are well known enough to elicit significant views from their fellow Republicans. And of that group, only one, former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, is viewed favorably by more than half of the Republican electorate.

The poll would seem to reflect the late start to the Republican primary season, with many of the major likely candidates seeking to hoard their money and avoid making any missteps that they might have to live with later, when voters go to polls or caucus rooms.

[Return to headlines]



Obama, Let My People Go

3,000 years after the Jewish people left Egyptian slavery bound for the land of Israel, their freedom remains as elusive as ever. A new Pharaoh adjacent not to the Nile, but the Potomac, looks out from the White House and issues his decrees regarding the Jews.

No sooner does a Jew build a house in Jerusalem, than one of the Pharaoh’s flunkies rushes to condemn him for it. A week before Passover, one of those flunkies announced that the administration was both “deeply concerned” and “very worried” about new Jewish homes in Jerusalem. A day later Jewish families hoping to be able to live in their own holy city were greeted with the announcement that approval for more housing had been suspended to avoid offending the little man with the big ears in the White House.

The Obama Administration has spent more time condemning housing in Jerusalem, than genocide in the Sudan. If some parts of Israel are constantly being shelled by terrorists, the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem is constantly being shelled by administration spokesmen. Year after year, the people of an overcrowded city are frustrated in their efforts to find a place to live, when some White House or State Department flunky finishes sipping his coffee, gets up in front of a microphone and expresses the grave concern of his master that a new condominium might go up in a place where Jews had been living long before the religion of Obama’s grandmother was even a twinkle in her mad prophet’s eye.

Building permits in Jerusalem now undergo a perverse kind of astrology. Approvals for every stage of the process must happen at a time when no administration official is visiting Jerusalem, and no Israeli official is visiting the US. When Biden visited Jerusalem at the same time that a municipal housing approval came through—the administration staged a convulsive spectacle.

Biden threw a fit and stood up Netanyahu, Hillary Clinton shrilled that the housing approvals “were not only an insult to Biden, but an insult to the United States” and then spent 43 minutes berating the prime minister over the phone over what would have been a minor municipal issue in her own country. “There was an affront, it was an insult”, chimed in David Axelrod. A hundred media outlets took up the theme. The theme being that the Jews had gotten so arrogant that they were approving construction in their own city at the same time that a politician who had three times endorsed Jerusalem as the undivided capital had stopped by for a visit.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Second Amendment Rights Once Again at Risk

Americans continue to watch their Second Amendment rights diminish, this time as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives ( still known as ATF) launches a campaign to change the definition of “shotgun.” According to the blog Beregond’s Bar, a recently released study by the Bureau will ultimately make shotguns illegal, and may also have negative implications for all guns.

The ATF states that the purpose of the study is to “establish criteria that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives will use to determine the importability of certain shotguns under the provisions of the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) …[which] generally [prohibit] the importation of firearms into the United States.”

The study focuses specifically on the sporting purposes of shotguns, just as the ATF 1998 survey provided guidelines for determining the sporting purposes of rifles.

Beregond’s Bar notes, “Sporting is one of the three main thrusts of gun control efforts in America. The other two are racism and those who openly advocate complete bans except for military and police.”

[Return to headlines]



The American Press Has Dishonored Itself

We now have the media of an one-party state.

I was watching ABC’s George Stephanopoulos interviewing Donald Trump about the birth certificate issue.

It struck me how much more Stephanopoulos sounded like an Obama staff member than an independent and objective journalist.

Continuing his crusade to save Obama from the dustbin of history, Stephanopoulos, on Good Morning America, waved a copy of Obama’s alleged Certification of Live Birth at Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN).

He demanded that she renounce her recent heresy of questioning Obama’s eligibility to be President by swearing an oath to the purity of her thoughts in order for her to be considered an acceptable contender for the Republican presidential nomination.

Stephanopoulos is the caricature of a main stream media (MSM) news anchor, who moved seamlessly from being press secretary for the Clinton administration to being the spokesman for left-wing Democrats at ABC news.

Of course, the MSM long ago discarded any pretense of independence and objectivity. They have completely bought into the Obama agenda and they want to protect their investment.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



US Dept. of Justice Unveils Stealth Socialist Theme

As any good Infowarrior knows, it is always important to watch what is going on behind the scenes. Little by little the subtle changes keep coming. One day will we wake up and be the United Socialist States of America.

The latest slap in the face to Americans under the Obama regime? The U.S. Department of Justice has ditched red, white, and blue. No stars, no stripes are to be found on its website.

Gone are the colorful red, white, and blue U.S. Flag decorations on the old web page:

Now, replaced by stark black and white:

And at the top of the page, is a rather interesting quote: “The common law is the will of mankind, issuing from the life of the people.”

Catchy, huh? Just one tiny little (too small to be relevant obviously) point —the quote is from C. Wilfred Jenks, who in the 1930′s was a leading proponent of the “international law” movement, which had as its goal to impose a global common law and which backed ‘global workers’ rights.’

Call it Marxism, call it Progressivism, call it Socialism — under any of those names, it definitely makes the DOJ look corrupt in their new website with Marxist accessories to match.

How very interesting that ‘they’ couldn’t find a nice quote from one of our Founders. People, we have lost our Republic. This is an example of the slow, methodical misuse of power our current government is doing as they lead us to socialism, and destroying our republic as we have known it.

[Return to headlines]



USA: Koran Scholar Chuck Norris Warns of Creeping Sharia

Happy Holy Week! This year, Walker Texas Ranger star and Internet meme Chuck Norris is celebrating things a little differently — by writing a special week-long series at WorldNetDaily on the dangers of creeping Islamic Sharia law in American society. Norris, who wants to make clear that he is absolutely not an Islamophobe, warns that “where Muslim religion and culture has spread, Shariah law has shortly followed”:

Of course, many Americans watch on video a Middle Eastern woman allegedly caught in adultery, buried in the ground up to her head and being stoned to death, and think, “That could never happen in America.” But they fail to see how Shariah law has already been enabled and subtly invoked in our country, and that any such induction like it is brought about by understated lukewarm changes, like a frog boiled in a kettle by a slow simmer.

As proof of the slow boiling of the American frog, Norris cites three examples: A Florida judge ordering two Muslim parties to settle their dispute through Islamic arbitration, per the terms of their mutually agreed-upon contract; the push by various state legislators to ban Islamic law from state courts; and an Obama adviser telling a British audience that Sharia has been “oversimplified.” And that’s just in the last few months! Of course, each of these points has its self-refuting flaws. Judges turn cases over to pre-selected religious arbitrators all the time, for instance, and not just for Muslims. None of the state legislators in question have produced a single example of Sharia being forced upon their states. And as for the argument that Sharia has been “oversimplified,” I would just point you to the fact that a quasi-mulleted martial arts actor from the mid 1990s feels qualified to explain to a national audience what Sharia is.

[JP note: Creeping Sharia, hopefully easier to deal with than the creeping vine, particularly at this time of year when it can be a real nusiance.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Why Do 3 Supporters Own Obama’s Home?

Listed as property tax payers for family’s Chicago mansion

Barack Obama is not among at least three people listed as current owners and taxpayers of the mansion his family calls home in Chicago’s upscale Kenwood neighborhood, according to public records.

WND reported in December 2008 that William Miceli, the attorney for convicted political operative Tony Rezko and a fundraiser for Obama, owns the Obama home at 5046 S. Greenwood.

Miceli is a lawyer at the Chicago law firm Miner, Barnhill & Galland, which employed Obama when he did legal work for Rezko.

Now, WND has discovered that, along with Miceli, there are at least two other people listed in public records as owners and taxpayers of 5046 S.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


Angry Greeks to Sue German Magazine for Defamation

A German magazine cover showing the goddess Aphrodite flipping off the rest of the euro zone annoyed the Greeks when it was published back in February 2010. Now a group of Greeks are suing the journalists involved for defamation.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Eurogroup Chief: ‘I’m for Secret, Dark Debates’

Eurozone economic policies should only be conducted via “dark, secret debates”, to prevent dangerous movements in financial markets, the Eurogroup chief said on Wednesday, adding that he had often lied in his career to prevent the spread of rumours that could feed speculation.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



First Step Towards ‘Directly Elected EU President’

Come its next elections in 2014, the parliament’s constitutional affairs committee wants voters across the 27 European Union states to pick 751 constituency MEPs in essentially national contests, but now also 25 super MEPs from an EU-wide list of candidates.

The bill’s sponsor, Liberal Democrat MEP Andrew Duff, told AFP on Tuesday that his plans are based in no small part on experience in Scotland, where a second, regional list effectively decides the identity of its head of government.

“The second vote is used by the parties as a way of electing the First Minister,” said Mr Duff. “Alex Salmond’s Scottish National Party have used this already to good effect,” stating it bluntly on ballots.

[Return to headlines]



Germany: Social Democrats Go After Islam-Critic Sarrazin

Muslims, Sarrazin wrote, are dumbing Germany down. That sentiment and many others like it made the former German central banker a bestselling author last year. Now, the Social Democrats are trying to throw him out of the party — but many fear the case could do damage to the already beleaguered SPD.

His diatribe against immigrants and Muslims sold more than a million copies, making it Germany’s bestselling non-fiction book in 2010. Since then, though, aside from the occasional public appearance, Thilo Sarrazin has largely faded from public attention in recent months. His pointed comments about Islam in Germany have become predictable. His periodic spats with the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), stemming from attempts by the right-extremist party’s efforts to appropriate his message, have garnered little attention.

Now though, Sarrazin, a former member of the board at Germany’s central bank, is once again in the limelight. On Thursday, proceedings are set to get underway in Berlin which could result in Sarrazin’s expulsion from the center-left Social Democrats, his life-long political home. Sarrazin is contesting the effort — and the approaching battle is one that many in the SPD are not looking forward to.

At the peak of the Sarrazin controversy, the sky appeared to be the limit for the politician and many feared his views might pave the way for a new right-wing populist party in Germany modelled on those which have emerged in Scandinavia, the Netherlands and elsewhere in recent years. Unable to predict that the apparent Sarrazin ascent might eventually peter out, SPD leaders filed for proceedings to removed him from the party. Ironically, those proceedings could now push Sarrazin back into the public eye.

‘Behavior Damaging to the Party’

The SPD is accusing the 66 year old of “behavior damaging to the party,” and a final decision won’t likely come for months and after a number of appeals. And the party is not going out of its way to draw attention to the process. No senior party members have commented publicly on the proceedings and they are being kept closed to the public. The truth is, the proceedings come at an inopportune time for the SPD. Yet again, the party is in the midst of a crisis, struggling to find a new direction two years after getting voted out of national government. And it has been suffering in the polls. At a time when the fast-rising Green Party is busy discussing the possibility of fielding its first-ever chancellor candidate, SPD leaders appear to be fumbling. The fact that SPD’s general secretary, Andrea Nahles, who is leading the proceedings against Sarrazin, will have to expend energy that could go elsewhere, has displeased some in the party. And exclusion proceedings are never particularly good for publicity.

SPD Divided over Proceedings

Indeed, the intention of booting Sarrazin from the party has been controversial in the SPD from the beginning. SPD party veterans like former German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück or former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt spoke out against proceedings very early on — even if they did express disgust over Sarrazin’s quasi eugenic arguments and his statements that immigrants are largely useless for Germany. For a time during the past year, stacks of letters began to pile up in the party’s headquarters from members warning against moves to ban Sarrazin from the SPD. But the SPD’s national party boss, Sigmar Gabriel, was determined from the beginning to push the proceedings through.

Now party leaders have months of nail-biting ahead of them. After all, it is anything but a given that the independent commission that will determine the politician’s future will actually move to kick Sarrazin out of the party. Traditionally, the hurdles are set high for expulsion and the justifications must also be strong enough to stand up in a normal court.

Sources say the SPD leadership has decided not to base its complaint on racist remarks from Sarrazin. Instead, the central charge is that, in his book, Sarrazin has systematically sought to undermine the fundamental SPD principles of social equality and equal opportunity for all.

Internally, though even some of Sarrazin’s staunchest opponents within the SPD are questioning the prospects for success. They point to a previous attempt to exclude Sarrazin from a Berlin district chapter of the party in 2010. The arguments to kick him out at the time were based on an interview the Bundesbank board member had given to a German cultural magazine in which he referred to “little girls with headscarves” and made controversial statements like: “The Turks are conquering Germany the way the Kosovars conquered Kosovo: with a higher birthrate.” Or that “a large number of Arabs and Turks in (Berlin) … have no productive function other than in the fruit and vegetable trade”.

‘Freedom of Opinion Is Highly Valued’

Those statements also appeared to have violated the SPD’s core values, but the head of the commission determining the case against him at the time, Sybille Uken — who is also to hear the present case — disagreed, concluding that she was unable to determine whether Sarrazin had violated the party’s principles. When party members appealed Uken’s district-level decision, their arguments were also rejected at the state level. “His statements are certainly problematic for the party, but they can at the same time be useful in that they promote the discussion,” a state SPD panel concluded in March 2010. “Freedom of opinion is indisputably highly valued by the Social Democratic Party and it must be able to withstand such provocative statements.”

Many who supported the first attempt to ban Sarrazin from the party are shying away from the new effort. Still, officials at the SPD’s national party headquarters believe they have a chance, noting that in the previous ruling in Sarrazin’s favor, the SPD commission noted that it was not giving the former central banker “a free pass for all future provocations.”

And Sarrazin’s bestseller, “Deutschland schafft sich ab,” roughly “Germany Does Itself In,” is filled with provocations. He writes, for example: “From an economic point of view we don’t need Muslim immigration in Europe. In every country Muslim immigrants cost the state more in terms of their low employment and high use of welfare benefits than they generate in added economic value.” Or: “Among Arabs in Germany, in particular, there is a widespread tendency to have children in order to receive more social benefits, and the women who are often imprisoned in the family basically have hardly anything else to do.” Sarrazin also played with statistics to try to prove that poorly educated Muslim immigrants had a far higher birth rate than ethnic Germans and are dumbing down the German population.

Nevertheless, the case will still be an uphill battle for the SPD and the party has little to gain by it. A victory in the party court might please some Sarrazin critics, but it would also alienate the not insignificant number of the politicians supporters within the party. A defeat would also make the party chiefs look weak at a time when the party is already ailing.

A first decision in the proceedings is expected within four weeks, but it will not be the last. Both SPD party leaders and Sarrazin have announced that they will exercise every appeal option right up to the national level in proceedings that could draw out for months.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Italy: Herculaneum Opens Decumani Road

(AGI) Herculaneum — The main street of the ancient city of Herculaneum has now been totally opened to the public. This is the most recent result achieved by the Herculaneum Conservation Project (HCP) thanks to cooperation with the Packards Humanities Institute, the Superintendency for Archaeological heritage in Naples and Pompeii and the British School in Rome .

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



Italy: Asbestos: Prosecutor Demands Trial for Ex Pirelli Managers

(AGI) Milan — The Milan judge for preliminary hearings Luigi Varanelli was asked to commit for trial ten former Pirelli managers. The request comes from Milan prosecutor Maurizio Ascione. The managers may be charged with manslaughter and culpable injury, with reference to the twenty workers who died of mesothelioma or other tumours following their exposure to asbestor in the factory. The former Pirelli managers, members of the Pirelli SpA executive board or CEOs between 1979 and 1988, are charged with 21 cases, including deaths and injuries, because the workers worked without wearing the due protection gear.

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



Italy: Government Halts Nuclear Power Stations

Regulations for construction of power stations repealed. Tremonti announces Eurobond funding for renewables

MILAN — It’s fulI steam astern on the good ship Nuclear Energy. The government has halted the power station building programme and included the repeal of all regulations for building nuclear power stations in the moratorium incorporated into the “omnibus” decree law, currently before the Senate. The move would override the 12-13 June referendum on the return to nuclear power irrelevant.

TREMONTI, A DELORS PLAN FOR RENEWABLES — A few minutes prior to announcement of the news that nuclear power station building would be halted, the economy minister, Giulio Tremonti again told the European Parliament in Brussels that events at Fukushima (“it’s not just a run-of-the-mill technical incident”) have an extremely significant dimension “in a historical perspective” and require “a pause for thought on economic and other aspects”. A plan for alternative renewable energy sources to implement immediately could attract “funding with Eurobonds”. The idea Mr Tremonti presented in Brussels is for a great European project for renewable energy sources and research into alternative energy. “I believe the time has come to discuss an applied version of the good old Delors plan, and put in place investment plans for alternative research, possibly in combination with the new geopolitical structure of the Mediterranean”.

DECOMMISSIONING COSTS — Mr Tremonti went on to repropose the concept of calculating future costs deriving from decommissioning and making safe old nuclear power stations, in order to have a clearer idea of the impact on public funds. “Has nuclear power been properly costed? Have decommissioning costs been taken into account? Are there any calculations of radioactivity-related risks? We know there are benefits, and that they are local, but the harm is general”.

RESEARCH — Research into nuclear power “must go ahead”, even though Italy has suspended the commencement of nuclear energy generation, stressed the environment minister, Stefania Prestigiacomo. “Research is independent of Italy’s decision to go ahead with nuclear power or not. Besides, the country is surrounded by nuclear power stations. The incident in Japan compels us to reflect on power stations, but research must move forward”, Ms Prestigiacomo pointed out…

English translation by Giles Watson

www.watson.it

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



Italy: Sex and Booze-Filled US ‘Jersey Shore’ Series to Film in Florence

Florence, 20 April (AKI) — American cable network MTV has decided to film its low brow hit reality show “Jersey Shore” in the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance — Florence.

The Tuscan city that spawned artistic masterpieces by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Dante Alighieri will provide the backdrop for alcohol-fuelled sexual escapes of Italian-American reality-television stars Paul “Pauly D” DelVecchio, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino.

“Florence was chosen because ‘it’s young, walkable, fashionable, and beautiful in springtime’ … and, by the way, riddled with alcohol-guzzling clubgoers,” American gossip website TMZ.com said, citing an unnamed source close to the television show.

Jersey Shore made its debut in the United States on MTV in 2009. The first season tracked the lives of eight housemates spending their summer at the Jersey Shore. The second followed them wintering in Miami Beach.

The show’s hit status has not silenced critics who say the loud-mouthed, promiscuous and heavy-drinking big-haired women and their macho male cohorts creates a bad and misleading image of Italian Americans.

The show may have to tone down the antics if filming is to go ahead in Florence, to prevent the city from being branded as a drinking hot spot, according to the tabloid daily, the New York Post.

Mayor Matteo Renzi has drafted a set of rules that the cast will have to abide by including a ban on filming them in bars or clubs that serve alcohol, the report said.

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



Italy Worst for Cases at European Court of Human Rights

(AGI) Strasbourg — A full 27 percent of cases pending at the European Court of Human Rights concern Italy. This figure emerges from the 2010 Report on the execution of sentences of the European Court of Human Rights, published today. After Italy come Turkey (17 percent), Russia (10 percent) and Poland (8 percent). Despite a fall in the number of cases since 2009 (when it was 31 percent), Italy thus continues to hold the wooden spoon. A big factor in this are the so-called ‘snail trials’.

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



Italy: Roman Mausoleum Found Under Illegal Waste Dump

Decorations and stucco under tonnes of toxic refuse

(ANSA) — Naples, April 20 — An ancient Roman mausoleum has been found under an illegal toxic waste dump near Naples.

The sprawling 2nd-century AD tomb, complete with stucco work and decorations, was discovered under tonnes of so-called ‘special’ refuse illicitly piled up in 17th-century ruins at Pozzuoli, site of the ancient Roman seaside town of Puteolanum.

Police with diggers cleared away the top level of garbage and unearthed an underground tunnel leading into the mausoleum, which archaeologists from the nearby town of Cuma described as “of extraordinary interest”.

The owner of the site and the man who leased it from him have been cited for crimes against the environment and Italy’s cultural heritage.

The Naples area is dotted with illegal waste dumps, many of them managed on the sly by the local Camorra mafia.

Pozzuoli, a pretty fishing port whose Latin name meant ‘malodorous’ because of the presence of sulphur vapours, has the third largest Roman amphitheatre in Italy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Fiat to Pay $1.27 Billion for 16% of Chrysler

Turin, 21 April (AKI) — Fiat said it will boost its Chrysler stake to 46 percent for almost 1.27 billion dollars as part of the Italian manufacturer’s intention to takeover America’s third-largest automaker.

Fiat will raise stake from 30 percent by the end of June, the Turin-based company said in a statement on Thursday.

Chrysler has been led by Fiat chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne (photo) since the company emerged from a Us government-funded bankruptcy in June 2009.

“This is a fundamental step toward completion of the momentous integration of Fiat and Chrysler, initiated less than 2 years ago, that will result in the creation of a global automaker,” Marchionne said in the statement.

The company last week received 5 percent of Chrysler from the US government after hitting specified targets related to Chrysler’s international sales which automatically trigger an increase in its ownership of the company. The goals were outlined during Chrysler’s 2009 bailout.

Fiat’s plans to own 51 percent of the US auto maker this year and hold an initial public offering.

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



Netherlands: PVV to Put Forward Bill to Remove Queen From Government

THE HAGUE, 21/04/11 — The Party for Freedom (PVV) will put forward a proposed bill before the summer to remove the Queen from government. The party of Geert Wilders is thereby pressing on with a plan announced earlier, despite the objections of Premier Mark Rutte.

Formally, the government is formed by the ministers plus the King or Queen. The PVV wants the monarch only in a representative function, as is the case in Sweden. The private member’s bill will be drawn up by PVV MPs Andre Elissen and Lilian Helder.

A majority in the House is likely to embrace the proposal. As well as the PVV, Labour (PvdA), the Socialist Party (SP), centre-left D66 and the leftwing Greens (GroenLinks) have indicated earlier that they want a ceremonial role for the royal household. The conservatives (VVD) also feel disposed towards this, but will vote against it now that Rutte is premier. The Christian parties do not want any changes.

To get the head of state out of the government in practice, the constitution will have to be changed. This means that the proposal, if it is adopted, will have to go through the Upper and Lower House again after the next elections, and this time, with a two-thirds majority. This does not appear to be achievable.

A compromise could therefore be for the Queen to remain part of the government, but to play no role any more in cabinet formations, for some time an idea of D66. No constitutional amendment is necessary for this, and parties with more moderate views would also be able to vote for it.

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



Turkish Membership Off EU’s Radar Screen Until 2020

Turkish membership in the European Union is off the bloc’s radar screen for the next decade, its decision not to include Turkey in the EU’s budget for 2014-2020 appears to show.

“Including Turkey in the 2014-2020 budget would have meant Turkey would be an EU member within this period. This is the last message French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel would like to give,” said Demir Murat Seyrek, a managing partner of the Brussels-based Global Communications and an expert on the European Union.

Candidate countries receive special funding during their first five years of EU membership. An allocation has been foreseen for Croatia, another candidate country that started membership talks the same year as Turkey and is expected to conclude its negotiations later this year.

Member states’ opposition to Turkey’s joining the bloc caused the European Commission, tasked with preparing the budget, to rebuff the Turkish government’s demands to have Turkey included in the EU’s 2014-2020 financial considerations.

The EU decided in 2004 to start membership talks with Turkey, but has avoided giving a specific target date, something it has offered to other candidates that later joined the 27-nation bloc. The EU ruled in 2004 that while the objective of negotiations is accession, such talks are an open-ended process, “the outcome of which cannot be guaranteed.”

This language was accepted in order to convince some member countries that were opposed to Turkey’s eventual membership but did not want to be held responsible for blocking the start of negotiations. Since that time, opposition to Turkey’s membership has grown stronger and the pace of reform in Ankara has slowed. The ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, has been pushing for a target date to finalize negotiations, saying it will have a motivating effect on slackening enthusiasm among a Turkish public less and less convinced that Turkey will ever enter the bloc.

Discussions on the EU’s long-term budget will officially begin only after the commission has tabled its own proposals in June 2011. Tough negotiations will then start for the next generation of spending programs, talks that will probably conclude at the end of 2012.

The budget must be agreed upon by the European Council and the European Parliament.

Discussions have already started among member states on the general outlines of the budget, however, with the United Kingdom joining forces with France and Germany to demand a real-term freeze in the EU budget until the end of the decade.

The three countries’ proposal that the union’s budget should rise by no more than the rate of inflation over the period 2014-2020 has received support from Poland, Sweden, Finland and Austria.

“If this proposal is adopted, this will close the way to add an additional issue to the budget, making it difficult to include Turkey during the course of the next eight years,” Seyrek said.

The negotiations on the EU budget come amid high stress on European national budgets due to the global financial crisis.

According to Seyrek, it would be futile for the AKP government to push to include Turkey in the next seven-year budget, as France and many countries will be strongly against it. He added that being absent in the budget does not mean it is impossible for Turkey to be a member within the next decade.

“Saying yes to Turkey’s membership is, after all, a political decision. The fact that it is absent in the budget will not prevent Turkey from becoming a member,” Seyrek said. “Candidate countries receive approximately 9 billion euros each year for the first five years. Turkey can live without that money.”

Others, though, see Turkey’s exclusion from the budget as a strong negative signal, dampening its hopes of EU accession.

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



UK: Chilling Effect of Euro Judges: Public Safety Being Put at Risk by Human Rights Court, Warns Top Lib Dem Lawyer

Rulings by unelected judges in Strasbourg are having a ‘chilling effect’ on public safety in Britain, a senior government adviser warns today.

Lord Carlile, a Liberal Democrat peer, said the European Court of Human Rights had placed itself on a ‘collision course’ with the UK Parliament.

In particular, he attacked the way the European Convention on Human Rights was blocking the removal of foreign criminals and terror suspects.

Lord Carlile, a Home Office adviser on terrorism, said: ‘A narrow interpretation of the convention has had a chilling effect on deportation, and thereby on public safety.’

The fact that such scathing comments are being made by a Lib Dem grandee will reopen the controversy over human rights law.

Prime Minister David Cameron promised to reform the law in opposition, but he has since been frustrated by his Lib Dem coalition partners.

The peer made his remarks in the foreword to a new report by Tory MP Dominic Raab, an expert in international law who led the backbench revolt against prisoner voting.

The pamphlet, for the Civitas think-tank, calls for urgent reform of human rights legislation to keep European judges from deciding British law.

Mr Raab says that, by granting prisoners the vote, Strasbourg went beyond simply interpreting the convention, which was deliberately worded to allow members states to disenfranchise criminals. Instead, Strasbourg is now ‘making law’. As a result, Mr Raab says democratic policy-making increasingly stands at the mercy of unelected judges.

He writes: ‘The judges have assumed a legislative function, fully aware that there are limited means for elected governments subject to their rulings to exercise any meaningful democratic oversight over them. This judicial coup represents a naked usurpation, by a judicial body, of the legislative power that properly belongs to democratically-elected law makers.’

Mr Raab, a former chief of staff to Attorney General Dominic Grieve, calls for the UK’s Supreme Court to be the last court of appeal, rather than Strasbourg.

He also wants the Human Rights Act to be amended to ensure Strasbourg rulings involving the UK are subject to a debate in the House of Commons.

This would be coupled by a political commitment by the main parties to permit ‘free votes’.

Mr Raab also attacks human rights laws which prevent the deportation of criminals and terrorist suspects.

Last year, more than 200 foreign convicts evaded removal on the grounds that it would infringe their right to a ‘family life’.

Cases included Iraqi Mohammed Ibrahim, who knocked down 12-year-old Amy Houston and left her to ‘die like a dog’ under the wheels of his car. He was driving while disqualified, and after the little girl’s death he committed a string of further offences.

An immigration tribunal ruled that — because Ibrahim had children while living in Britain — he had a right to a ‘family life’ in the UK.

Mr Raab says: ‘The massive expansion of human rights law threatens to frustrate Britain’s ability to deport convicted criminals and terrorist suspects. The goal-posts keep shifting, because of unaccountable judicial legislation — especially the expansion of claims around the right to family life.

‘Britain has lost a degree of control over its borders, which inevitably means we are importing more risk. This has contributed to the growing terrorist threat.’

Mr Raab calls for the law to be changed so the right to a family life is no longer a bar to deportation.

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]



UK: Energy Saving Light Bulbs ‘Contain Cancer Causing Chemicals’

Fears have been reignited about the safety of energy saving light bulbs after a group of scientists warned that they contain cancer causing chemicals.

Their report advises that the bulbs should not be left on for extended periods, particularly near someone’s head, as they emit poisonous materials when switched on.

Peter Braun, who carried out the tests at the Berlin’s Alab Laboratory, said: “For such carcinogenic substances it is important they are kept as far away as possible from the human environment.”

The bulbs are already widely used in the UK following EU direction to phase out traditional incandescent lighting by the end of this year.

But the German scientists claimed that several carcinogenic chemicals and toxins were released when the environmentally-friendly compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) were switched on, including phenol, naphthalene and styrene.

Andreas Kirchner, of the Federation of German Engineers, said: “Electrical smog develops around these lamps.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: Muslims Celebrate the Royal Wedding

The Muslim Council of Britain conveys its warmest congratulations to HRH Prince William on his forthcoming marriage to Catherine Middleton and sincerely wishes them a happy, successful and prosperous life together. Marriage is dear to so many traditions, and many Britons, including Muslims, will no doubt share in the joy of this national celebration.

At the same time, the MCB denounces the latest antics of the group calling itself ‘Muslims Against Crusades (MAC)’ in their bid to protest during this auspicious day. We believe their action on this national occasion of celebration is completely at odds with the ethos of Islam. We believe their action on this national occasion of celebration is completely at odds with the ethos of Islam. We remind them of Prophet Muhammed’s blessed words, that “marriage is indeed half of faith”. They have chosen a day when the whole nation will be watching in celebration and cause offence and stir friction amongst the Muslim and non-Muslim communities. We as a community need to stand united against such extremist groups and convey to the nation that this is not Islam.

We hope that the British public recognises this as an act that yearns for publicity with the sole objective of claiming media attention for silly antics. We also hope that the media will not indulge such cynical behaviour through disproportionate coverage.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Scandal of 80,000 on Sickness Benefits for Minor Ailments… Including Diarrhoea

Thousands of people have been on incapacity benefit for more than a decade for minor ailments, alcohol addiction and obesity.

Officials admitted 135,000 people have been off work for a decade with depression, 1,360 because they have diarrhoea and 6,740 because they have severe stress.

There are 81,670 drug addicts, alcoholics and obese people claiming incapacity benefit instead of working.

With the payments worth up to £91.40 per week, the claims are a huge burden on the taxpayer.

More than 20,000 alcoholics and drug addicts have been drawing on the system for more than a decade.

Dozens more receive the cash despite suffering from such seemingly minor complaints as blisters, acne and ‘nail disorders’.

And more than 120,000 claimants are not listed with any disease at all — meaning they receive the benefit without a doctor having assessed whether their claim is justified.

More than 76,000 of them have not been examined for a decade.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Balkans


Serbia: Ultranationalists Jailed for Disrupting Gay Parade

Belgrade, 20 April (AKI) — A Serbian court in Belgrade on Wednesday sentenced fourteen members of ultranationalist organization Obraz to up to two years in prison for last year’s violent disruption of the capital’s first gay pride parade.

The court sentenced Obraz leader Mladen Obradovic to two years, while others received sentences ranging from eight months to year and a half in prison.

Judge Danko Lausevic said the group organized protests against the 10 October parade which turned into a riot, injuring 140 people, including 124 police.

A mob also caused “great material damage” as rioters smashed store windows and overturned automobiles, Lausevic said.

As the sentences were pronounced, Obraz sympathizers in the courtroom unfolded a banner reading “We defend the face of motherland.”

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

North Africa


7 Libyan Civilians Killed by NATO Raid South of Tripoli

(AGI) Tripoli — According to Libyan media, 7 civilians died and 18 were wounded by a NATO raid in a southwestern Tripoli suburb. The official Jana news agency reported the coalition warplanes bombed the Khellat Al-Ferjan suburb and that the victims include women and children. Bir Al-Ghanam, 50 km southwest of the Libyan capital, was also bombed.

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



Algeria: Security Report, 2700 Protests in 3 Months

(ANSAmed) — ROME, APRIL 20 — Algerian security forces were faced with around 2700 cases of protest in the first three months of this year, according the Algerian newspaper al Khaber which quotes a report sent to the presidency of the republic and to Prime Minister Ahmad Oyahia.

This enormous increase in protests and the continuous use of demonstrations by citizens is a clear indication, according to the report, that the situation could explode any moment.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Clinton: No US Military Instructors to Libya

(AGI) Washington — The US will not send any foot soldiers or military advisors to the Libyan rebels. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton indicated that there is a will to help them organize, but no US direct participation. Previously, the White House stated there are no plans to send US troops on the ground. At the same time President Barack Obama expressed his support the coalition’s decision to send instructors to the anti-Gaddafi fighters.

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



Libya: Sarkozy to Jalil; We Will Step Up Strikes

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, APRIL 20 — The French President Nicolas Sarkozy has promised the leader of Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC), Mustafa Abdel Jalil, that France will step up air strikes against the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Sarkozy today received Jalil at the Elysée Palace.

At the end of the meeting, which lasted around 45 minutes, presidential officials released a statement reporting the head of state’s promise that air strikes in Libya would be intensified, though no further details were released. Sarkozy had previously received two envoys from the Libyan NTC, though today’s meeting was the first to be held with Jalil.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Libya: NTC: Algeria Supports Gaddafi’s Mercenaries

(ANSAmed) — ROME, APRIL 20 — The Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) has accused Algeria of backing Gaddafi’s regime.

The Council filed a report against the country to the Arab League, through its representative in Cairo, Abdulmunim Alhouni.

The NTC, specifies newspaper Libya Today, has asked Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa to talk to Algerian President Abdul Aziz Boutaflika and his government to stop the logistical support to Gaddafi and his mercenaries in the fight against the rebels. The Libyan rebels say that the Algerian government supports Gaddafi in order to defeat the popular uprising.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Libya: Elections in 6 Months if NATO Strikes Cease, Obeidi

(ANSAmed) — LONDON, APRIL 20 — If NATO halts its air strikes on Libya, the government in Tripoli could hold elections within the next six months under UN supervision on any issue that Libyans want, including the leadership of Muammar Gaddafi, Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel Ati Al-Obeidi told the BBC. “If bombing ceases, elections under UN supervision could be held six months later,” told BBC radio. “The foreign minister (Obeidi) has said that elections could concern any issue raised by all Libyans. Anything could be voted on, including the future of Gaddafi as leader,” reported the BBC.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Libya: British Marines to be Deployed in Cyprus

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, APRIL 20 — Six hundred British marines are expected to be deployed in Cyprus over the next two weeks, in order to participate in scheduled maneuvers at the British Bases in Cyprus, according to Cyprus media citing a British Ministry of Defence announcement. The news item spurred various comments regarding the possibility of land operations in Libya. A Ministry of Defence spokesperson told Cyprus news agency (CNA) in London that “there is no intention to be used in Libya” and that “this is against the Security Council resolution.” “But it is within the capability of this force to be used in humanitarian and evacuation operations as they have been used in the past on various occasions,” the spokesperson added.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Tunisia: Country Fears Spread of Fundamentalism

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, APRIL 20 — Tunisia is fighting a political and ideological battle at the same time, about the State’s secularity. Everybody seems to agree on the issue, at least in words, but there are some hardly visible developments that are reason for concern. It doesn’t take much to get the attention and to worry most Tunisians — and not only the young people — who thought that everything would change for the better after the ‘Jasmine revolution’. But now that are faced with the potential explosion of a form of Islam that does not seem to be moderate at all, with which the religious parties are flirting while they are making preparations for a long electoral season. A young man from the outskirts who created a group of other young people around him, speaking a language drenched in piety is even seen as a potential threat in the eyes of the entire country. The person in question is the self-proclaimed ‘emir el Muminin”, meaning “prince of believers”, who is active in the Ras Jedir region, nowadays well-known for its border crossing where hundreds of thousands of refugees from Libya entered the country, with all problems caused by this situation, including security and public order issues. People fear that the ‘prince’ wants to establish an emirate in this place, in Ben Gardane. It started a few days ago, when an artist who performed for the refugees to make them forget about their suffering for a while, was approached by a group of young bearded men. These men reproached the artist, saying that he should not try to make these people smile with all the suffering in the camps. It could have ended there, if these young men had not said that they had a leader, for whom the title ‘emir’ had been chosen. In Arabic ‘emir’ means commander, but the term has a different meaning in religious context, particularly if taken together with the term “el Munimin”, the idea of a caliph and a caliphate. The problem in the eyes of many people is not the name of this group however, but its actions, especially in the early stages of the humanitarian emergency caused by the Libyan crisis. The members of the group, Ahl El Ber wal Khayriya -Kafilet Ennasr (“People of justice and charity — The caravan of victory”), have set up a formidable organisation, supplying meals to 600 refugees per day. That is a lot, considering that — at least on paper — they are only boys who have decided to set up a (so far unknown) organisation of volunteers. This form of assistance has awoken the interest of hundreds of refugees. Now people in Tunisia fear that this situation, with desperate and disillusioned people, could be a fertile ground for fundamentalism.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



U.S. Moves to Give Libya Rebels $25m in Non-Military Aid

The U.S. pledge came after France and Britain said they would send military advisers to help the rebels improve their organization and communications.

The United States is moving to provide Libyan rebels with $25 million in medical supplies, radios and other aid that would not include weapons, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday.

The U.S. move comes as opposition forces seeking to remove Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi are engaged in fierce fighting with pro-government troops.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians


Gaza: While Hamas Turns Gaza Into an Islamist State, The Western Media Praise it for Keeping ‘Law and Order’

When Vittorio Arrigoni was abducted and killed last week in Gaza, the press wasted little time establishing its line that Hamas has done a great job of maintaining law and order.

In the words of the Financial Times’s Tobias Buck, Gaza is now “a safe destination for foreign journalists, aid workers and diplomats.” Conal Urquhart of the Guardian noted that, since winning its first parliamentary election in 2006, Hamas has gone “mainstream.” The real nasties in the Strip are now said to be the “puritanical” Salafi-Jihadis, Koranic literalists with possible ties to al-Qaeda who think Hamas is run by softies no better than bearded Zionists.

Unfortunately, there are several problems with this analysis. The first is that most Salafi-Jihadis used to belong to Hamas themselves, particularly the hardline military wing, the Al Qassam Brigades. Hamas admits this freely: an International Crisis Group report on Radical Islam in Gaza suggests that 60 per cent of imprisoned Salafi-Jihadis are former Hamas members. Is this why one of the four suspects in the Arrigoni murder, Mohammed al-Salfiti, is an active Hamas policeman?

Hamas has not only created the conditions in Gaza that breed schismatic ultras but also has long record of encouraging Salafi-Jihadis. An early group was Jaysh al-Islam (“Army of Islam”). Jaysh became famous in 2007 when it kidnapped BBC correspondent Alan Johnston and held him captive for nearly four months. Hamas was newly in control of a de facto government and reckoned that Johnston’s detention was too high a PR price to pay for ownership of Gaza. It issued an ultimatum to Jaysh to release Johnston. Jaysh’s response was to threaten to go public with details of its collaboration with Hamas, including plots to assassinate Palestinian Authority officials.

Jaysh also played a role in Hamas’s cross-border raid in 2006 that culminated in the death of two Israeli soldiers and the capture of a third, Gilad Shalit, who has been denied access to humanitarian monitors for the five years of his captivity. Khalid Abu Hilal, a member of al-Ahrar, an Islamist faction close to Hamas, boasted of the ruling party’s big-tent approach to snatching him: “Hamas wanted the Shalit operation to be a national undertaking, not purely Hamas. They had just formed a government it was a political calculation.” Last Sunday, just as the news broke of Arrigoni’s kidnapping, a senior Hamas lawmaker called on Palestinians to kidnap more Israelis.

Elsewhere, when Salafi-Jihadi groups have formed, Hamas has welcomed them to the panoply of “resistance” movements. Another early comer was Jund Ansar Allah (“Soldiers of God’s Supporters”), whose military leader, Khalid Banat, used to train Hamas guerrillas in the Qassam Brigades and recruit his Jund followers from the same corps. A Hamas spokesman was happy enough with that arrangement to remark at the time: “The arena is big enough for everyone.”

But now that arena has shrunk and Hamas has embarked on a comical policy of “containment.” It is trying to control young militants who, dissatisfied with nabbing or shooting Jews, are watching al-Qaeda training videos on YouTube and fantasising about becoming the next Zarqawi. Hamas’ programme for re-educating Salafi-Jihadis has included hiring psychologists to analyse the restive youth population and trying to convince prison inmates that man-made and Sharia laws are not mutually exclusive. It’s never a good sign when fogeyish Islamists are the ones preaching tolerance to the rebellious kids.

Like a hoary socialist party with a siphoning constituency and few strategic options left, Hamas has finally discovered the oldest trick in the radical handbook: undercut the rising stars by stealing their agenda. Hamas has lately imposed a host of draconian and unpopular religious measures in Gaza, such as an insistence that men and women who hold hands in public proffer a marriage certificate. The ministry of religious endowments is offering “advice” on how to behave in a more Islamic fashion. Men should neither cut women’s hair nor swim shirtless. Mannequins in lingerie lead to tumescent Palestinians, so they ought to be removed from storefront windows. More sinister moves include the imprisonment of homosexuals and the arrest of one woman for committing “adultery” with her own husband because her family disapproved of the marriage.

Internal terrorism has also increased in Gaza in recent months. Several UNRWA summer camps have been stormed and burnt because they teach children to do things other than blow themselves up in Jerusalem. The Crazy Water Park was attacked by arsonists last September, presumably because too many men were swimming shirtless there. That involved 20 masked men in trucks — not an inconspicuous sight in Gaza — and so many suspect the tacit approval of higher-ups.

These crimes, unlike the murder of Arrigoni, show no signs of ever being seriously investigated or solved. Either Hamas is powerless to control its own personnel or it’s reluctant to do so: take your pick. As one Palestinian UN official put it: “Hamas is using the Salafi groups to implement the social agenda that it fears implementing itself.” But none of this stops the construction of a media narrative whereby the dirty work is done by unaffiliated fanatics whilst a “mainstream” Hamas gets credit for cracking down on the very extremism it’s been incubating.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Middle East


Anti-Racism Group to March in Turkey on Armenian Commemoration Day

An anti-racism initiative will organize a series of protests and marches in Turkey on April 24, the date when some countries commemorate the alleged Armenian genocide in the last days of the Ottoman Empire.

The commemoration march organized by the “Say Stop to Racism and Nationalism!” initiative will begin in Istanbul, while simultaneous demonstrations will also be held in the cities of Ankara, Bodrum, Bursa, Diyarbakir and Izmir.

Marchers will rally behind the slogan, “This pain belongs to all of us.”

The initiative that is behind the demonstrations was jointly founded by Turkish intellectuals and civil-society representatives from Istanbul’s Armenian community immediately after the assassination of Hrant Dink, the Armenian-Turkish editor-in-chief of weekly Agos on Jan. 19, 2007.

Prominent journalist and academic Cengiz Aktar described the initiative as “a citizens’ enterprise” during an interview with the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.

“Such commemorations are now publicly staged; that is crucially important. The people of Turkey will face the painful chapters of history one step at a time. Many new names have now been added to the participants in last year’s commemoration, and the circle is growing,” said Aktar, who is also a columnist for the paper.

Aktar was one of the leading names in the “I apologize” campaign launched in December 2008. Approximately 30,000 people, including many intellectuals and journalists, have signed the petition, which reads in part: “My conscience does not accept the insensitivity showed and the denial of the Great Catastrophe that the Armenians were subjected to in 1915.”

Armenia claims up to 1.5 million Armenians were systematically killed in 1915 under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey denies this, saying that any deaths were the result of civil strife that erupted when Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia.

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



Boat of 31 Migrants Lands in Apulia’s Otranto Overnight

(AGI) Lecce — Apulia’s Adriatic coastline was the scene of further migrant landings. Last night 31 men, seven of whom minors aged between 12 and 17, were spotted by Italian coast patrols off Otranto. The party of 31 has been identified as comprising Afghan, Iraqi, Iranian, Burmese and Bangladeshi nationals. The motorboat on which they were being ferried was spotted at 0300 hours today and is thought to have departed from Albania. The pilot is described as a Russian passport holder and is currently under arrest. The 31 have been granted shelter at the ‘Don Tonino Bello’ home in Otranto and have been visited by the Italian Red Cross. They are reported as being in good health.

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



Football: UAE Sheikh Buys Spanish Club Getafe

(ANSAmed) — ROME, APRIL 20 — UAE sheikh Batai Ben Suhail Al Maktoum has added his name to the list of great investors in the European football market, writes Al Arabiya’s website. The site specifies that the entrepreneur has announced that he has bought the Spanish football club Getafe for 90 million USD. The Royal Emirates Group of Companies, a consortium owned by Al Maktoum, will reveal all details of the transaction in a ceremony that will be held tomorrow. Getafe plays in the first division of the Spanish League. Last season its best position was sixth place, and currently the club is ranked 14th with 6 matches to play. The name of the club will be changed into Getafe Team Dubai. Another Spanish team, Malaga, was bought in May by an entrepreneur from Qatar, and Barcelona has signed a sponsorship deal with Qatar Foundation for 43 million USD.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Iran: Al Jazeera: Newspaper Asks to Kill Saudis Living Abroad

(ANSA) — ROME, APRIL 20 — An article published in the Iranian daily Kayhan, close to the supreme leader of the Islamic revolution, Ali Kamanaei, asks to monitor the movement of Saudis living for various reasons in Europe or the United States and to kill them in the name of the “revolutionary executions”. The article is signed, according to Al Jazeera’s website which reports the news, by Husain Madari, representative of the supreme leader at Kayhan.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Qatar: Record Divorce Rate, 50% of Marriages Fall Apart

(ANSAmed) — DOHA, APRIL 20 — Qatar is the land of rocky marriages. The Qatar Statistics Authority has said that 80 divorces a month were recorded in 2009, while around 50% of marriages today end in divorce. In 80% of cases, domestic violence is the reason for failing marriages. Yet in many cases, it is the level of education — women in Qatar are more educated than men — that separates couples, especially in the widespread arranged marriages.

According to a report by the Al Hayat newspaper, violent husbands are a common problem in Qatar. “80% of divorces in Qatar see the husband accused of beating his wife,” says the lawyer Rashid Al Marri.

Qatar is a country where most marriages are arranged according to social standing, with the couple often having never even met before tying the knot. The documentation necessary for the marriage to be official is often completed before the bride and groom have been introduced. Some families allow telephone contact between the future couple ahead of the wedding, while more liberal families organise dinners at which bride and groom can get to know one another in the presence of their relatives. But the bride and groom are only really acquainted once married and divorce is often requested before the marriage has been consummated. There are often many reasons for this incompatibility, with the level of education first among them. Arab women are much more educated than men, especially in Qatar where university graduates are much more common among women. Often, Qatari men do not feel the need to study in order to land good jobs. Access to business for men in the country is immediate, and is not filtered by cultural or educational needs, which means that many young people prefer not to go to university and enter the world of work straightaway.

University education is not considered an asset in itself, and is only considered worthy if it is directly linked to economic gain. This mindset is slowly changing, in part thanks to the investments of Shaykhah Moza, the second wife of the Emir, who has created Education City, the large university centre where prestigious American institutions such as Georgetown and Northwestern are creating a space for dialogue and intellectual growth for the country’s next generations.

The other factor pushing women in Qatar to study is connected to their social prospects. While men have access to jobs in all sectors, the only prospect for Qatari women is to marry and have children. University therefore becomes an intellectually stimulating shelter free of sexual discrimination for single women and married women whose husbands do not allow them to work. Sharia, the Koranic law, applies for family affairs on Qatar, which means that the conditions of divorced men differs wildly from that of women. While the man is able to find another partner easily, the woman is branded for life. According to a report in today’s Peninsula Newspaper, many divorced women develop psychiatric illnesses. Indeed, divorced women are stigmatised in this part of the world and are considered outsiders to Islam if they have violated the sacred union. Although divorce is accounted for in the Koran, divorced women face defamation and indifference from society as a whole.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Syria: Dissident Mahmoud Issa Arrested

(ANSAmed) — AMMAN, APRIL 20 — Yesterday evening Syrian police arrested the dissident Mahmoud Issa despite the lifting of the state of emergency, according to some human rights activists. Isaa was taken in around midnight from his house in Homs, a city in central Syria where over the past two days security forces have killed about twenty demonstrators. According to some human rights activists, the dissident’s arrest shows that despite the fact that the state of emergency has been lifted by President Bashar Al-Assad, repression will continue. Issa was released in 2009 after three years in jail for having signed an appeal along with a number of other intellectuals and professionals for Damascus to recognise Lebanon’s sovereignty.

As a result of his anti-regime positions, Issa also served eight years in jail between 1992 and 2000.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Far East


Study: EU Firms Shut Out of $1 Trillion Chinese Market

A new study has reinforced longstanding concerns that foreign companies are being denied access to China’s vast public procurement market, valued at roughly $1 trillion.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa


Nigeria: Violence Erupts Among Muslims After Re-Election of Nigeria’s Christian President

[WARNING: Graphic content.]

Burned corpses with machete wounds lay in roads and smoke rose above this city where rioting broke out again this week among Muslim opposition supporters who were angered by the announcement that the Christian incumbent had won the presidential election.

On the outskirts of Kaduna, burned out minibuses and cars littered the highways, and at least six charred bodies could be seen. Skull caps and sandals were strewn nearby, left behind by those who frantically fled amid the chaos.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



South Africa: ANC Youth Leader Julius Malema Defends ‘Shoot the Boer’ Song

Julius Malema, the firebrand youth leader of South Africa’s ruling ANC party has claimed that a controversial song with the lyrics “shoot the Boer” is a way of commemorating the heritage of the country and was not used to target white people.

Mr Malema, president of the African National Congress youth league, who on Wednesday defended himself in court against charges of hate speech, said the anti-apartheid struggle song was not his personal anthem but part of the ANC’s legacy and struggle against white-minority rule. “This is an old song that was sung by leaders before us and we are just continuing with it. This is not my song,” he said. He denied that the lyrics, which contain the phrase “Shoot the Boer” or “Shoot the Farmer”, that he has made his trademark at rallies, targeted white people or were meant to incite violence. “Our struggle has never been directed at white people,” he said. But Afriforum, a white lobby group that brought the case, argues that it is used to single out whites.

“The word ‘Boer’, in this context, is a derogatory word referring to farmers, whites and to Afrikaners in particular,” it said in an affidavit. The controversial song prompted sustained debate after the murder of Eugene Terreblanche, a white separatist leader allegedly hacked to death on his farm by two black employees. Mr Malema was reprimanded by his own party last year for singing the song. The hearing, which began on April 11, continues.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



South Africa: Malema Fired Up

ANC youth league president Julius Malema was in his element yesterday when he took the stand during his hate speech trial in the equality court in Johannesburg.

The young lion also kept multitudes glued to their TV screens on the e.tv news channel, which is broadcasting the trial live. Malema told the court he had to be radical and militant in order to stay relevant in the youth body. Responding to a question from AfriForum legal counsel Martin Brassey about his seemingly militant and radical nature when singing Dubul’ ibhunu, Malema said that staying relevant in the ANC youth league demanded it. “I belong to a very radical and militant youth organisation and if you are not radical and militant, you risk being irrelevant,” he said. Tensions between Malema and Brassey were heightened, with Judge Colin Lamont having to warn them that their exchange was “not fruitful”.

Malema told Brassey that he would respond “politically” to his questions because his clients had brought a political matter to court. The youth league president even took on Lamont, on the subject. He said: “My Lord, the song (Dubul’ ibhunu) is political. “If they are allowed to bring a political matter to court, I think I should be allowed to give political responses.”

Lamont had warned Malema against giving “political speeches” in the witness stand. When tensions finally simmered down, Malema waxed lyrical about his days as a young recruit of the ANC. He testified that at age 13 he attended the funeral of former South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani armed with a 9mm pistol he had been given by the ANC.

“We thought we would encounter the enemy and we were ready to exchange fire with them,” Malema said. He described the “young pioneers” group he was part of as highly disciplined, saying they marched through the “suburb of white people” but did nothing. Malema said that, following the announcement of the death of Hani on April 10 1993, they were waiting for instructions from former president Nelson Mandela, allowing them to engage in fire. “We were excited when Mandela said ‘now is the time’.” Asked why he was excited, Malema said: “Because a command had been given.” But he told the court that he was disappointed when Mandela issued instructions to refrain from violence.

Malema also rejected Brassey’s assertion that there were white Afrikaans-speaking South Africans who feared that Malema’s supporters would act on the lyrics of the song Dubul’ ibhunu. He said: “I have always refused to look at things literally. I am a political activist and I give context to every word I sing or utter.” Malema said the youth league had asked AfriForum not to take their hate speech complaint to court but resolve the dispute amicably. He indicated that the banning of the old South African flag was agreed to after a “gentleman’s agreement”. In the morning, two ANC officials blocked the entrance to court 8A, demanding proof of identity and press cards from those who sought to enter.

One of the men, who declined to be identified, told Sowetan that “the court has been given to us”. However, a court official denied that the ANC officials had been allowed to control security.

What Malema told the court:

  • On Debora Patta: “She knows nothing about politics.
  • On Helen Zille: “I disagreed with her calling me a rabble-rouser.”
  • On AfriForum: “You [AfriForum] came here for cameras.”
  • On the song: “It’s not Julius’s song, I’m not Brenda Fassie. If Julius sings revolutionary songs, it’s a headline, but when they sing Die Stem, it’s not a headline. I want to sing with my people. I want to celebrate and commemorate without any restrictions.
  • On Peter Mokaba: “He was my mentor. I was not inspired by him, but by the ANC.”
  • Him and politics: “There’s never been anything in my life that has not been political … even proposing to a girl.”
  • Being political: “You brought this political matter to court, I will answer in a political way.
  • To AfriForum lawyer: “You have no mandate to speak on behalf of the people. I take offence.” — Vusi Xaba

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Immigration


Boat With 20 People Rescued at Crotone

(AGI) Crotone — Italian Police Forces report that a a 14 mt long- boat with possibly 20 immigrants has been seen at about 20 miles off the Ionian coasts of Crotone, the local harbour office has activated rescue procedures. The Squadra Mobile, Italian special police forces are also participating to catch and eventually arrest the boat capitan. The boat’s port of departure is still unknown.

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



End of Europe Without Borders? Row Over African Immigrants Threatens Free Travel

The EU’s scheme to abolish national borders and allow free movement of people between member states is under threat as a wave of migrants flees to Europe from strife-torn North Africa.

Five major European countries are bringing back border checks on travellers to try to deter the arrival of thousands of North Africans escaping political upheaval.

A major row is developing between France and Italy after the French abandoned their agreement to allow free travel and stopped trains carrying Tunisian migrants on the Italian border.

Checks on documents at borders are being reintroduced by France, the Netherlands and Belgium, which is demanding that Tunisians arriving on Italian temporary permits show they have at least 10,000 euros.

Austria has indicated that it is looking for ways to curb the movement of migrants, and German interior minister Jens Teschke said there would be ‘more intensive observation’ of people arriving at road and rail borders and airports.

The return of inspections of travel documents is a major blow to the Schengen Agreement which allows people to move between 25 EU countries without passports or visas and without being held up by customs or immigration checks at borders.

Schengen — named after the Luxembourg town where the treaty was signed in 1985 — and the euro have been the foundation stones of moves towards a united Europe.

But the euro has been undermined by debt crises in Greece, Ireland and Portugal — and now cracks are appearing in the Schengen Agreement, which Britain has not signed up to.

Difficulties multiplied after 26,000 migrants arrived in Italy from Tunisia after that country’s revolution earlier this year.

Most reached the EU through the Italian island of Lampedusa off the Tunisian coast. However many do not want to remain in Italy but aim to travel to France. French authorities were unhappy when the Italian government issued the migrants with temporary residence permits that allow them to travel freely through the Schengen countries.

France acted on Sunday, halting trains at the northern Italian border town of Ventimiglia to prevent groups of Tunisians from entering France.

Italian politicians reacted with fury. Foreign minister Franco Fattini said France had broken Schengen rules and added: ‘If the situation persists, we would save time by just saying that we are changing our minds about free circulation, which is one of the fundamental principles of the union.’

However the mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, an ally of French president Nicolas Sarkozy, responded: ‘It’s easy for Italy to be generous with other people’s territory.’

French ministers have said their introduction of checks on trains complies with the Schengen rules, which allow occasional police inspections on borders as long as there are no routine controls.

They also said they had security concerns because political activists were on the trains, and that people travelling on Italian permits would have to show they had enough money to support themselves.

Britain and Ireland have never joined the 25 Schengen countries and keep their own border controls — although Britain is not allowed to turn away citizens of EU countries.

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]



EU Proposal: Redistribution of Refugees

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, APRIL 20 — One of the proposals made by the European Commission is to start a programme for the redistribution of Libyan refugees in the camps at the border between Tunisia and Egypt to European countries, to avoid human trafficking. The EC wants to make this proposal part of the ‘communication on immigration’ drafted by Cecilia Malmstrom, which will be formally approved by the European executive on May 4. After that it will be presented to the European Council and the European Parliament. Sources in Brussels explain that the redistribution proposal wants to replicate what was done in 2009 and 2010 for around 10,000 Iraqi refugees in Syrian and Jordan, who have been distributed among several European countries, with funds that have been made available by the EU. Economic migrants are not included in the group of refugees, only people who have a right to request asylum or who need international protection because they are unable to return to their country of origin. Many thousands of people from sub-Saharan Africa are in this situation, among the more than 470.000 who fled Libya at the start of the war.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Family of 12 Ethiopian Asylum Seekers Who Have Just Landed in Britain Get £1,460-a-Week for Vast London Home

An Ethiopian family of 12 are being put up in a vast house costing the taxpayer almost £1,500-a-week just two months after arriving in Britain.

The couple and their 10 children are receiving a staggering £1,460-a-week housing benefit from the cash-strapped Tower Hamlets council in London — Britain’s poorest borough.

The jobless family — who will also be receiving other handouts such as unemployment and child benefits — only arrived in London from Africa in the past few weeks.

It is yet another example of taxpayers having to pick up the bill for families to stay in vast houses in the capital.

And it comes as it emerged benefits payouts in Tower Hamlets have cost the taxpayer a mammoth £223million in just one year.

The Ethiopians, who are believed to be asylum-seekers, will cost taxpayers £76,000 if they are allowed to stay in the property for 12 months.

They received a weekly sum of £1,462,90 on March 4, according to the council’s housing benefits claims department.

Another nine families in the borough received between £590 and £613 in the same week and the last annual figures show 10 families getting between £20,600 and £38,300 for 2008-09.

Tower Hamlets Opposition leader Peter Golds said: ‘Paying a yearly rate of £76,000 for one family shows the ludicrous public money being paid to put people into expensive housing.

‘It is utterly, utterly ridiculous what sort of properties the council must be housing these families in.’

DO YOU KNOW THE FAMILY OF 12? CALL NEWSDESK ON 0207 938 6154A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions: ‘We can’t justify having welfare families in wealthy properties in expensive areas which hard-working families can’t afford.

‘We have to be fair. People on benefits have to make the same choices as the rest of the population.’

Benefits capping began on April 1 for all new claimants, but those already getting more than £20,000 are being given up to nine months to adjust.

The Ethiopian family would have to be among the nation’s top earners on £230,000 before tax to afford to spend the same amount of money on rent or a mortgage.

Ray Bolger, mortgage consultant at John Charcol in the City, said: ‘A family of 12 bringing in £1,460-a-week housing benefit demonstrates why the government is changing the benefit rules.

‘Here is a family with 10 children who normally wouldn’t be able to pay that amount — but the state is encouraging people like them to have many more children than they can afford.’

Tower Hamlets council refused to comment. A spokesman said: ‘We ensure all claims are processed in line with current guidance.’

The top rate of housing benefit has now been slashed to £400-a-week under tough Coalition plans to rein in the vast costs.

The bill for housing benefit has spiralled from £14billion ten years ago to £21billion and is more than the country spends on policing and universities combined.

George Osborne overhauled the law after it emerged Toorpakai Saiedi, a jobless Afghan immigrant with seven children, was paid £2,875-a-week to live in a huge house in Acton, west London.

From this month, the maximum payable became £400-a-week — a move affecting thousands of claimants and one which sparked accusations of social engineering.

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]



Libya: Thousands of Illegal Immigrants Detained in Tunisia

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, APRIL 20 — There is also a flow of illegal immigration from Libya to Tunisia, where the border police are carrying out continuous controls. Press agency TAP writes that the border police at the Dhiba border crossing (in the governorate of Tataounie) intercepted 437 cars and one bus in the past days, which had entered the country illegally and transported a total of 2,718 Libyans. The Tunisian Interior Ministry has announced that the illegal immigrants have been handed over to the military authorities, who will decide on their fate.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Mediterranean Member States, More EU Solidarity

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, APRIL 20 — The Mediterranean states of the EU have asked for more solidarity on behalf of the Union in addressing the disproportionate mass immigration flows caused by the dramatic developments in the Southern Mediterranean region.

In a joint communique they issued at the end of a meeting they held in Nicosia on Tuesday, as ANA reported, they state that current emergency situation with regards the massive illegal immigration flows and movements of possible beneficiaries of international protection brings upon the Mediterranean member states additional social, economic, administrative and demographic burden to that already prevailing.Present at the Meeting where Cypriot Minister of the Interior Neoclis Sylikiotis, Greece’s Citizen Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis, Italian Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of the Interior Alfredo Mantovano, Minister of Justice and Home Affairs of Malta Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici, Spanish Director General for International Relations and Immigration Arturo Avello Diaz Del Corral, French Ambassador in Cyprus Jean Marc Rives, as well as other high ranking representatives from all the above states responsible for immigration issues. In their joint communique they also emphasise that the possible prolongation of such influxes of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers to the Mediterranean member states, can not be managed without the concrete and substantial support and solidarity from the rest of the EU’s member states. In addition, the ministers reaffirm the urgent necessity for the EU to provide concrete and immediate support to member states on the EU southern external borders. In his statements after the Meeting, the Cypriot Minister said that the EU Mediterranean states faced with disproportionate mass immigration flows should not and cannot be left alone in dealing with the challenges caused by the recent political developments in the region. He pointed out that the Nicosia Meeting is part of the initiatives undertaken by the Mediterranean EU states to strengthen their common positions within the EU.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars


Germany Expels Openly Homophobic Imam

Authorities in Germany have ordered the expulsion of a visiting Islamic preacher who argues that homosexuals should be condemned to death. The move comes after Bilal Philips gave an open-air address in Frankfurt.

German police officials announced on Wednesday that Abu Ameena Bilal Philips, a hardline Islamic preacher from Jamaica who defends use of the death penalty for homosexuality, had been ordered to leave the country and asked never to return.

The officials said that immigration authorities had issued an order — prior to Philips’ address to some 2,000 spectators in Frankfurt — instructing the 60-year-old Islam convert to leave Germany within three days, claiming his professed beliefs infringed on federal laws.

German law allows for the expulsion of visitors who “incite hatred against parts of the population” or advocate the use of violence against them. In a sermon published on the video website, Youtube, Philips can be heard defending the death penalty as a justified punishment for proven homosexual acts.

‘Evil and dangerous to society’

Witnesses said no remarks regarding homosexuality were made in the Wednesday address and that its tone was not inflammatory.

Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Philips made no anti-gay remarks on WednesdayHe was invited to address the Frankfurt demonstration in defense of “Islam, the Misunderstood Religion” by Pierre Vogel, a German-born convert to Islam who authorities say harbors fundamentalist views that are closely linked to Islamism — the belief that Islam must prevail over political life.

An article on Philip’s official website describes homosexuality — in reference to its connection with the proliferation of AIDS — as explicitly “evil and dangerous to society,” concluding that it is the product of wayward volition.

Philips is entitled to appeal the expulsion order, according to police officials, but only from abroad. An arrest warrant is ready in case he does not leave Germany before the expulsion deadline.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]