News Feed 20120318

Financial Crisis
» Greece: Protest Staged by Employees of Pasok Party
» Monti Has Engineered Italian ‘Renaissance’, Says IMF Chief
» Worrying Situation in Greece, Malmstrom
» Obama Executive Order: Peacetime Martial Law!
» ‘Total Information Awareness’ Surveillance Program Returns, Bigger Than Ever
Europe and the EU
» British Parking Police Become Mobile Video Recorders
» EU Court Says Hotels Should Pay Royalties
» Even the French Think the EU is a Waste of Money
» Ireland: Jewish Black Kid is New “Lord of the Dance”
» Italy: Government Passes ‘Golden Share’ Bill
» Italy: Rightist Youth Group Brings Protest to Indian Restaurants
» Spain: Government Says Yes to Oil Rigs Off Canary Islands
North Africa
» Libya: France, Hague Court Compete for Gadhafi’s Spy Chief
Middle East
» Football: Qatar-FIFA: Divided Over Alcohol in World Cup Stadia
» Iran: USA Reinforce Hormuz Strait Defence With Minehunters
» Iraq: ‘70:000’ Killed Between 2004-2011
» Jordan’s Trade With Syria Drops by 50 Percent
» Lebanon: Ethiopian Woman Suicide, Spotlight on Migrants’ Lives
» Saudi Arabia Supplying Weapons to Syrian Opposition
» Yemen: US Citizen Killed by Terrorists in Taez
» Yemen: Militants Shoot Dead American Teacher
» Police Detain 100 in Anti-Putin Protest
South Asia
» Confiscated Italian Ship to Remain in India for Now
» India Doesn’t Want to Punish the Marines or Italy, Quilon Parish Priest Says
» Indonesia: Islamist Groups Object to Gender Equality Bill
» Pakistan: Bin Laden Wives Fighting, Causing Problems
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Al Shabaab Bases in Somalia Targeted in Air Raid
» Ethiopia Conducts Terrorist Camp Raids in Eritrea
» Nigerian Christian Community Attacked, At Least 10 Victims
Latin America
» Eleven Regular Colombian Soldiers Killed by FARC Rebels
» Venezuela: Agents Arrested in Death of a Consul’s Daughter
» Agrigento Prosecutors Investigate Barge Deaths
» Seafaring Migrant Vessels Spawn Italy-Malta Tensions
» Special Medical Emergencies Unit Dispatched to Lampedusa
» UNHCR: New Wave of Immigrants Arriving, Prepare Lampedusa
» Proposed UN Environmental Constitution for the World Would Establish an Incredibly Repressive System of Global Governance

Financial Crisis

Greece: Protest Staged by Employees of Pasok Party

Offices occupied for not receiving salary since 4 months

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MARCH 7 — Employees of Pasok, the Greek socialist party led by former premier Giorgos Papandreou, today symbolically occupied the party headquarters for 45 minutes, from 1.45pm to 2.30pm local time. The initiative was meant as a protest against the fact that they have not received their salary in the past four months. During that period, the leaders of the party said, state contributions to parties have been “frozen”. The protest of Pasok employees was staged a few days before the party’s national assembly, in which the succession of Papandreou as party leader will be discussed.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Monti Has Engineered Italian ‘Renaissance’, Says IMF Chief

Premier has given country ‘seriousness, determination’ — Lagarde

(ANSA) — Rome, March 9 — International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde hailed Italian Premier Mario Monti on Friday for creating an Italian “Renaissance” after taking the helm of an emergency government of non-political technocrats last year.

Former European commissioner Monti approved a tough austerity package in December to stop the debt crisis, which forced his predecessor Silvio Berlusconi to resign in November, from spiralling out of control.

His government is now trying to introduce a series of structural economic reforms, including liberalisations to encourage competition and labour-market measures to make it easier for young people and women to find jobs.

“Monti has given Italy a sense of seriousness, concentration and determination to take the country out of the depression it found itself in,” Lagarde told Bloomberg Television.

“As he is not a politician, Monti has the courage to implement very tough measures such as the opening-up of competition, the removal of constrictions on the economy and greater labour flexibility.

“He has brought a sort of Renaissance to that extraordinary country”.

Lagarde described Monti and his compatriot Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, as the two “super Marios” for their efforts to end the eurozone crisis.

The IMF chief warned, however, that the European Union must boost its financial firewall to protect states from coming under speculative attacks on the money markets or Italy will still be at risk of contagion from problems elsewhere.

“I don’t have the minimum sensation (that this is happening),” she said. “But growth is low (in Italy), the debt is very high and I think it’s in Europe’s interest to stop contagion”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Worrying Situation in Greece, Malmstrom

Ready to help, but there is still plenty to do

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, MARCH 8 — The situation in Greece on the immigration front is” very disturbing,” said the EU commissioner for internal affairs, Cecilia Malmstrom, following the Council of EU ministers in Brussels today, referring to the report of the European Commission mission in the country.

“There is progress — added Malmstrom — but there is still plenty to do.” “Many recommendations were given to the authorities ‘Greek — said the EU commissioner — from the European Commission, the Member States and the international community. We are working with them to try to help.” Malmstrom also spoke of the Evros area on the border with Turkey, where a ‘wall’ is due to be built to stop illegal immigration. “The humanitarian situation — said the EU commissioner — in Evros is very worrying, and there are funds available, but we must improve the administrative process, so that the authorities can act in the best way they can.” “We are ready to help, — said Malmstrom — but responsibility remains in the hands of the Greeks, as with all Member States”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]


Obama Executive Order: Peacetime Martial Law!

This Executive Order was posted on the web site on Friday, March 16, 2012, under the name National Defense Resources Preparedness. In a nutshell, it’s the blueprint for Peacetime Martial Law and it gives the president the power to take just about anything deemed necessary for “National Defense”, whatever they decide that is. It’s peacetime, because as the title of the order says, it’s for “Preparedness”. A copy of the entire order follows the end of this story.

Under this order the heads of these cabinet level positions; Agriculture, Energy, Health and Human Services, Transportation, Defense and Commerce can take food, livestock, fertilizer, farm equipment, all forms of energy, water resources, all forms of civil transporation (meaning any vehicles, boats, planes), and any other materials, including construction materials from wherever they are available. This is probably why the government has been visiting farms with GPS devices, so they know exactly where to go when they turn this one on.

Specifically, the government is allowed to allocate materials, services, and facilities as deemed necessary or appropriate. They decide what necessary or appropriate means.

UPDATE: BIN reader Kent Welton writes: This allows for the giving away of USA assets and subsidies to private companies:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

‘Total Information Awareness’ Surveillance Program Returns, Bigger Than Ever

A new feature story in this month’s Wired blows the lid off plans for a massive new National Security Agency data center in Utah that represents the resurrection of a program that Congress killed in 2003, known as “Total Information Awareness,” targeting literally all electronic communications all over the world — including those made by American citizens.

The proposal was to build computing systems that could suck up every electronic communication on the planet and filter them through a smart super-computer that would flag certain conversations, emails, transactions and other items of interest for further review. It was a program so monstrous in scope that after a brief legislative battle, Congress imposed strict regulations on the type of technology that could accomplish those ends, prohibiting it from ever being used against Americans.

But if well sourced intelligence reporter James Bamford is to be believed, as of this year, their efforts to stop it are moot.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

British Parking Police Become Mobile Video Recorders

“It looks like a standard identity badge, giving the traffic warden’s number and confirming that he is an officer of the local council. But a closer examination of the card pinned to the warden’s jacket reveals something far more sinister — it contains a tiny lens and is actually a camera for filming motorists. It is so unobtrusive that many motorists would not even know they were being filmed.

Wardens — or civil enforcement officers (CEOs), as they are now known — are under no obligation to inform drivers that they are filming. The only notification is a small strip across the top of the badge which reads ‘CCTV in operation’. If there is a dispute, footage can be used as evidence in a court. Councils that have given the £500 cameras to wardens say they protect staff from abusive behavior and also helps resolve disputes.”

           — Hat tip: McR [Return to headlines]

EU Court Says Hotels Should Pay Royalties

Irish hotel owners should pay royalties for the use of copyrighted works on TV or radio by guests in their rooms.

The European Court of Justice has ruled that Irish hotel owners should pay royalties for the use of copyrighted works on television or radio by guests in their rooms.

The case was taken by Phonographic Performance (Ireland) Limited, or PPL, which argued that it was contrary to Irish law to provide such services free of charge and sought damages.

The case was taken against Ireland and arose from a bid to change Irish law that would make hotel owners exempt from paying royalties.

In its ruling today, the ECJ found that “a hotel operator which broadcasts phonograms in its rooms should pay equitable remuneration to producers… and member states may not exempt such an operator from the obligation”.

Initially, PPL had taken the case to the Commercial Division of the High Court, but the Irish court referred several questions on to the ECJ. Today’s ruling will now be referred by to the Irish Commercial Court where a determination on the case will be made.

The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) has described the decision as “outrageous”. Chief executive Tim Fenn said the ruling would result in an additional layer of costs being imposed on hotels and guesthouses at a time when many premises are struggling to survive.

           — Hat tip: McR [Return to headlines]

Even the French Think the EU is a Waste of Money

MORE than half of French people have branded the European Union a waste of money. Some 43 per cent of Germans feel the same way, compared with 39 per cent of Britons.

The poll findings reveal simmering tensions across all member states as the eurozone crisis takes its toll on taxpayers.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Ireland: Jewish Black Kid is New “Lord of the Dance”

(Wins All-Ireland Championships three times — creates a new legend)

The son of a black Baptist and a white Jewish woman form Iowa, Drew Lovejoy, is taking the world of Irish dance by storm. This year the 17-year-old from rural Ohio has just won the All-Ireland Dancing Championship in Dublin for the third year in a row.

The New York Times says “for those feeling down about the United States and its place in the world” Drew Lovejoy should be an inspiration.

According to the NY Times Lovejoy has been dancing since the age of six but neither he, nor his mother, can remember when he first became interested in Irish dance. Lovejoy thinks it might have something to do with the amount of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly movies his mother played for him as well as the musicals and theater performances.

When Lovejoy saw his first show “he was hooked.” But his mother, Andee Goldberg, didn’t think it was possible for him to become part of the Irish dance world.

She said “You’re biracial and you’re a Jew. We thought you had to be Irish and Catholic.”

But Lovejoy said “I want a medal.”

Lovejoy is still so driven that he once danced an entire competition on seven broken toes.

Now he trains for at least an hour a day and dances for several hours at a dance school in Cincinnati, two-hours for his home in Greenville, Ohio.

Lovejoy says the fact that he comes from an unusual background, for the world of Irish dance, is an advantage. People remember him. Lovejoy said people would say “It’s that black kid from America in the pink shirt”.

In 2008 fellow competitors and his friends started comparing him to Barack Obama.

However in his rural hometown things are different. Lovejoy, his mother and his father Donald Goldberg moved to Greenville when he was nine-years-old. His mother and Lovejoy’s birth father, Terrance Lovejoy, had parted ways when their son was a baby.

Being a dancer isn’t a usual hobby for a boy in Greenvile, and a black teen living in a predominantly white town.

In fact bullying became so bad at school his mother took him out and started him in an online education program.

           — Hat tip: McR [Return to headlines]

Italy: Government Passes ‘Golden Share’ Bill

‘EU should drop case against old policy’ says Moavero

(ANSA) — Rome, March 9 — Premier Mario Monti’s cabinet on Friday approved a reform to the country’s golden-share policy which gave the state veto power in companies where it no longer had a controlling interest.

“The decree redesigns the Italian policy of special government powers in the sectors of defense and national security, energy, transport and communications, in compliance with the parameters defined by the European Union,” said European Affairs Minister Enzo Moavero, who penned the bill.

The measure is a response to a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling against Italy in 2009 for criteria which the ECJ said were “too vague and imprecise” and penalized investors who could not predict a government veto. “We believe that following the approval of the bill, the European Commission will close its case against the old policy,” said Moavero.

The golden share had long been criticised by the EU and the former European commissioner for the internal market, Charlie McCreevy, who repeatedly said that “golden shares have no place in the single market”.

Supporters of the golden share argued that the state should have veto powers in companies which operate under a government license which cannot be bought or sold, as in the case of transport, telecommunications and utilities.

Under the new decree, the government can only veto acquisitions in those sectors made by parties outside the European Union.

Special provisions were made for defense contractors such as Finmeccanica, retaining some government veto rights in the interest of national security. photo: European Affairs Minister Enzo Moavero

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Rightist Youth Group Brings Protest to Indian Restaurants

Rome, 7 March (AKI) — A group of Italian right-wing activists pledged to target Indian restaurants in Rome to protest the arrest of Italian soldiers for the alleged shooting deaths of two fisherman last month.

The Rome branch of Gioventu’ Italia (Italian Youth) — a group linked to nationalist political party La Destra (The Right) — on Wednesday protested in front of the Indian embassy to demand the release of marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone who are being held in an Trivandrum prison in the southern Kerala state.

“For tonight we’ve decided to symbolically hit some Indian businesses in the capital. We’ve closed dozens of Indian restaurants by tying ribbon around their gates with flyers reading “Boycott Made in India, Free the Marines Now” said a statement on the group’s website.

A diplomatic spat broke out in February when the marines guarding the Italy-flagged Enrica Lexie oil tanker shot in the direction of a boat they mistakenly took for pirates. Latorre and Girone say they only fired warning shots. India claims jurisdiction over the case, but Italy insists the shooting took place in international waters in the Indian Ocean, giving Rome the right to oversee any possible trial.

An Indian judge on Monday ordered that the Italians be transferred to a prison from a guest house in the city of Kochi where they had been held since 20 February.

Italy has sent a foreign ministry envoy to follow the incident and prime minister Mario Monti on Wednesday reportedly spoke by telephone with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh about the case.

“Our indignation isn’t only from the unexplainable behaviour of the Indian government, but also against the Monti government whose actions against the incident are weak,” the Giuventu’ Italiana statement said.

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

Spain: Government Says Yes to Oil Rigs Off Canary Islands

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MARCH 16 — Oil company Repsol will set up nine oil rigs off the Canary islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, to look for oil. The Spanish government today approved the controversial project, backed in 2001 by the government of José Maria Aznar and opposed by the regional government of the Canary Islands and by environmental organisations, Europa Press reports.

The nine oil platforms will be placed at a distance of 10 to 48 kilometres from the beaches of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. They will check the “high probability” that there is oil in the area, as indicated by surveys carried out between 2001 and 2003 by Repsol around 70 km from the Canary Islands, near the marine border with Morocco. In the past days, Minister for Industry, Energy and Tourism José Manuel Soria announced that Spain “cannot afford the luxury of disregarding possible sources of energy” and that the government of Mariano Rajoy “supports and encourages” initiatives aimed at reducing Spain’s energy dependence. The licences to drill, granted in 2001 by the Aznar government, were cancelled in 2004 by the Supreme Court due to errors of form and the company was waiting for a new government licence. Both the government of the Canary Islands, formed by Coalicion Canaria and the Psoe party, and the mayors of the two islands are against the start of the project, fearing the environmental impact it may have on the islands and its main source of income, tourism. Environmental organisations like Oceana are also against the oil platforms. They have warned that the drilling will take place in some of the “ecologically most valuable areas of the Canary Islands,” which are put at serious risk in the case of oil leaks.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Libya: France, Hague Court Compete for Gadhafi’s Spy Chief

Interpol has put its weight behind Libya’s demand that Gadhafi’s ex-spy chief be handed over to Tripoli. France and the International Criminal Court are also pushing to get their hands on the man arrested in Mauritania.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Football: Qatar-FIFA: Divided Over Alcohol in World Cup Stadia

(ANSAmed) — DOHA, MARCH 15 — The 2022 World Cup in Qatar could be alcohol-free, with the host country yet to decide whether or not it will allow the sale of alcohol in the arenas where matches are played.

Although one of the World Cup’s sponsors is Anheuser-Busch InBev, a multinational company that produces alcoholic drinks, Doha appears to be hesitating over whether to sell alcohol during the tournament. Alcohol is one of the few products to be heavily taxed in the Emirate and its circulation remains very strictly controlled.

“Alcohol will be available in Qatar, but we are discussing the extent of this with FIFA. Russia, England and Brazil have had different opinions on the matter,” said Hassan al-Thawadi, the secretary general of the 2022 Supreme Committee. FIFA has made its position on alcohol at the World Cup clear, not least when Brazil was considering banning the sale of alcohol in stadia to reduce the risk of violence. At the time, FIFA’s general secretary, Jerome Valcke, intervened, saying: “Alcohol is part of the World Cup, so alcohol will be there. Forgive me if this seems arrogant, but we will not negotiate on the issue”.

Despite the position taken up by FIFA with regards to Brazil, Qatar remains unconvinced and discussions with football’s governing body are continuing. For FIFA, the bottom line appears to be “No alcohol, no World Cup”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Iran: USA Reinforce Hormuz Strait Defence With Minehunters

(AGI) Washington- The US navy has strengthened its flotilla in the Persian Gulf’s Strait of Hormuz with four more minehunters.

Alongside the fifth fleet in Bahrain, the Pentagon has readied the vessels and four CH-53 Sea Stallion with mine-detecting equipment for departure. The aim, admiral Jonathan W. Greenert explained, is to reinforce security in the narrow Strait of Hormuz between Iran and Oman, through which 20% of the world’s oil passes; a strategic point which Iran has repeatedly threatened to blockade in case of an attack on its nuclear facilities. In January Iran’s chief military official warned the U.S. to not send any more aircraft carriers to the Persian Gulf after the USS John C. Stennis traversed Hormuz. Since then the Pentagon has sent another nuclear powered carrier, the USS Abraham Lincon, with a squadron as protection.

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

Iraq: ‘70:000’ Killed Between 2004-2011

Baghdad, 29 Feb. (AKI) — Terrorism and other acts of violence killed almost 70,000 people in Iraq in the almost eight years between 5 April 2004 and 31 December 2011, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement.

“These figures represent the total number of victims who fell as a result of terrorist attacks and violence and military operations,” the statement said.

Citing numbers provided by the Health Ministry and National Security Council, Al-Dabbagh said 69,263 people died and 239,133 were wounded.

The Iraqi Human Rights Ministry in 2009 had said 85,694 people were killed from 2004 to 2008.

The newest casualty statement said Baghdad province suffered the highest number of deaths between 2004 and 2011 at 23,898.

The statement came as car bombs continue to detonate, with a blast killing at least three people in Baghdad on Wednesday, according to reports.

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

Jordan’s Trade With Syria Drops by 50 Percent

(ANSAmed) — AMMAN, MARCH 15 — Trade exchange between Jordan and Syrian dropped by 50 percent since the start of the Syrian uprising against Bashar al Assad rule, Jordanian economists said today.

Additionally, Jordan lost markets in eastern Europe due to lack of security in Syria, the kingdom’s main rout to Europe.

Official figures indicate that Syria is the fourth strongest trade partner to Jordan after Iraq, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, with most of the kingdom’s imported vegetables and basic items such as rice and cotton coming from Syria.

According to Mohammad Abdullat from the Jordan chamber of commerce, the kingdom exports to Syria goods worth USD 200 million and imports items worth USD 200 million.

He said the kingdom’s industrial sector has been heavily affected amid lack of alternative markets.

However, the government has agreed with Iraqi to allow trucks move through its northern borders and into Turkey before going to the European markets.

Jordan has been wary of detrimental impact on its economy after the international community agreed to impose sanctions on Damascus.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Lebanon: Ethiopian Woman Suicide, Spotlight on Migrants’ Lives

Woman was seen beaten in video broadcast on television

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, MARCH 16 — The suicide of an Ethiopian domestic help in Beirut once again puts the spotlights on the dramatic situation of immigrant workers in Lebanon, who are often mistreated according to human rights organisations. Medical sources quoted by the press have said that the woman, the 33-year-old Alem Dechasa, hung herself on Tuesday night in a mental hospital where she was taken three weeks ago. The was taken to the institute after a Lebanese television station broadcast a video in which a man could be seen beating her and forcing her to get in a car outside the Ethiopian consulate. The man, Ali Mahfouz, then took her to the mental hospital, claiming that the woman had psychological problems and had already attempted to kill herself several times. The Ethiopian consul general, Asaminew Debelie Bonssa, has told the Daily Star that the consulate has filed a complaint against Mahfouz, without specifying the charges against the man. Sources in the country’s police and justice system, quoted by the same newspaper today, said that the man was arrested last week and released a short time after. Around 200,000 immigrants are estimated to work in Lebanon, a country with around four million inhabitants. Employers often take the passport of their domestic helps and force them to stay in the house and to work all days of the week. Human rights organisations have reported many cases of suicide already.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia Supplying Weapons to Syrian Opposition

(AGI) Dubai — Saudi Arabia is turning out to be a real driver of the Syrian opposition. “In order to put an end to the massacre in Syria”, Riyadh send “weapons, through Jordan, to the Free Syrian Army”, a diplomat said, upon condition that his identity be kept secret. The announcement was made two days after Saudi Arabia closed its embassy in Damascus and after last week’s meeting between King Abdullah II and Hashemite sovereign Abdallah. “Jordan firmly denied the rumour” (not officially confirmed by Saudi Arabia either), said Rakan Majali, spokesman of the Jordanian government. Indeed, Jordan is in a very delicate position, because of its geographical location: it borders with Syria, the country through which a good 65% of its incoming trade passes and about 80,000 Syrians have sought refuge in the country since March 2011.

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

Yemen: US Citizen Killed by Terrorists in Taez

(AGI) Sanaa — An American national teacher has been killed by a terrorist commando in Taez, the second town in Yemen. The man was the vice-director of a Swedish linguistic institute. He was killed by two men who shot him after getting close to him by motorbike.

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

Yemen: Militants Shoot Dead American Teacher

An al Qaeda-linked group has claimed it killed an American teacher in Yemen, saying he was trying to spread Christianity in the Muslim country.

The English language teacher, who was deputy director of the Swedish Institute school, was shot dead in his car in the city of Taiz by a passenger on a motorcycle, security officials said.

In a statement, the Fighters of Ansar al Sharia, or Partisans of Sharia, said it “killed an American Christian missionary”.

“The attack is in response to a Western campaign to preach for Christianity among Muslims,” it said.

It was the second incident targeting a language school teacher after suspected militants abducted a Swiss woman in the Red Sea port of Hodeida and moved her to the province of Shabwa, according to Yemeni officials.

Taiz, about 120 miles south of the capital Sanaa, was a flashpoint for opposition protests that forced an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 33-year rule, but has seen little al Qaeda violence.

The local al Qaeda group is, however, active in the south and east of the country and there has been an upsurge in violence since President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi took power last month vowing to fight the group.

A government aircraft has bombed the southern town of Jaar in an apparent attack on militant targets.

Ansar al Sharia captured the town in Abyan Province in March last year and turned it into their main base in southern Yemen.

The deadliest in a series of attacks by the group killed at least 110 army conscripts last week.

           — Hat tip: Nick [Return to headlines]


Police Detain 100 in Anti-Putin Protest

Police arrested around 100 demonstrators who had gathered outside a TV station known as loyal to the Kremlin. They were angry about a documentary that portrayed anti-Putin protesters as paid agents of the West. Russian police detained roughly 100 people protesting a documentary that claimed protesters critical of Vladimir Putin were paid to attend demonstrations.

“Anatomy of a protest,” aired by NTV, said that opposition leaders planned to overthrow the government, and that migrant workers and others were being paid to attend recent protests against Prime Minister and President-elect Vladimir Putin. NTV is part of state-owned Gazprom.

Around 1,000 people took part in Sunday’s protest, chanting “Shame on NTV” and “Russia without Putin,” near Moscow’s Ostankino television tower.

“Putin’s most important weapons are lies and propaganda and they are just as effective at protecting him as police batons,” said former deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov, just minutes before he was arrested.

Sergei Udaltsov, an opposition leader who had already been detained twice this month, was also detained on Sunday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

South Asia

Confiscated Italian Ship to Remain in India for Now

Vessel needed for evidence, say Indian authorities

(ANSA) — Kochi, March 15 — An Indian high court judge on Thursday refused to release the confiscated ship, the Enrica Lexie, impounded since the last month’s incident in which two Italian marines allegedly killed two Indian fishermen off the southern Indian coast.

The owners of the impounded vessel sent a request to the Indian authorities last Friday asking for the vessel’s return to Italy.

Examinations of evidence taken from the merchant ship by Indian ballistics experts, expected to conclude last Friday, are still underway after the family of one of the victims filed a court appeal, said Indian authorities.

“Results from examinations need 14 days to process” and the boat must remain accessible to investigators for further inspections, said Kerala authorities.

The marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, are at the centre of a diplomatic dispute between Rome and New Delhi, which intensified when the two were sent to prison at the beginning of March.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

India Doesn’t Want to Punish the Marines or Italy, Quilon Parish Priest Says

Fr Stephen Kulakkayathil denies claims that a climate of hostility surrounds the Italian marines. Italy’s Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Staffan de Mistura has generated admiration for his reasonable defence of the Italian soldiers. The case is unrelated to upcoming by-elections. An anti-government rally is expected to attract 200,000 fishermen.

Kochi (AsiaNews) — “India does not want to punish anyone without reason. We have nothing against the marines, whether they are Italian, German, British or Spanish,” Fr Stephen Kulakkayathil told AsiaNews. A former secretary general of the Kerala Region Latin Catholic Council (KRLCC), he is the parish priest in Quilon. There are no tensions or resentment against the two members of the San Marco Regiment, he said. Last Monday, a judge in Kollam ordered Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone moved to a prison in Trivandrum for the killing of two Indian fishermen, Gelastine and Ajesh Binki. At present, they are being held in section of the prison in accordance with their status.

The decision has been controversial. In Italy, the firm action taken by Indian authorities is seen in terms of domestic politics, i.e. upcoming elections. Hoever, for Fr Kulakkayathil, that is not the case. “It’s a by-election. Two months ago a state minister died and he must be replaced.”

Unlike this week’s elections in Uttar Pradesh and Goa, Kerala elected its state assembly on 13 May 2011. The vote was won by the Congress party with only four seats more than the Communist Party-Marxist.

“Like the Italians, people want to know what really happened,” the clergyman said. “We are all waiting for the ballistic tests.”

“We are also very much impressed by your Foreign Affairs undersecretary, Staffan de Mistura. We like his way of doing things, seeking dialogue but also defending and comforting the two marines. It’s the right attitude.”

“If there are doubts, they are of a different kind. Why didn’t the ship captain stop?” In Italy, they are asking the same question but no answer has yet been found.

The crux of the matter is about who has jurisdiction, an issue that has not yet been settled.

Under international law, countries can extended their territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles. Beyond that, states can enforce their laws in a ‘contiguous zone’ of 12 miles, for a total of 24.

Countries can also establish an ‘exclusive economic zone’ (EEZ) of up to 200 miles, which gives them the right to develop local resources.

“Under Indian law, Indian fishermen can go up to 200 miles to fish,” Fr Stephen said. This is the main point. The fishermen (and Indian authorities) say the fishing boat was in the contiguous zone. Under Indian law, it could go into the EEZ.

Until the matter is clarified, the Dioceses of Quilon, Kochi and Trivandrum are planning a protest rally next Monday, not against the government of Italy but against their own government, to demand greater security for fishermen.

“Some 200,000 people will gather to protest in front of government offices in Trivandrum,” the clergyman said.

Meanwhile, life is slowly going back to normal for the communities involved. “Gelastine’s son is back in school; he has exams to do shortly. Otherwise, not enough time has gone by; the loss of a husband and father are wounds that do not heal quickly.” (GM)

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

Indonesia: Islamist Groups Object to Gender Equality Bill

Jakarta, 15 March (AKI/Jakarta Post) — Six major Indonesian Islamic organizations have voiced objections to the gender fairness and equality bill, saying that some articles may harm Islamic values.

The objections were made during a consultation meeting between the organizations and the House’s religion and social affairs commission.

The criticisms came from the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the Indonesian Consultative Council for Muslim Women Organizations (BMO-IWI), Aisyiah, Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), the Islamic Community Party (PUI) and Muslimat NU.

The representatives, who were all women, said that the bill could further violate Islamic law on inheritance sharing, marriage and women’s rights to be a mother and housewife.

They said that the bill’s article 12, for example, which stipulated that every man and woman could freely choose a husband or wife, contradicted Islamic law that suggests the bride and groom be of the same religion.

Eneng Zubaedah from the MUI said that Islam, as a religion, strictly regulated the proportion of inheritance between a man and a woman, which was two to one.

“We have to realize that it may also contradict the idea behind the bill,” Eneng Zubaedah said.

HTI spokesman Iffah Ainur Rochmah said that gender equality that encouraged women to work would eventually cause more conflicts within marriages.

“In 2009, statistics from Jakarta revealed that the divorce rate of teachers went up mainly because wives had better salaries, and thus felt superior,” she said.

Commission head Ida Fauziyah said that she appreciated the insights and promised that the House would pay serious attention to the concerns.

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

Pakistan: Bin Laden Wives Fighting, Causing Problems

Islamabad, 15 March (AKI) — Osama Bin Laden has been dead for 10 months but his wives are alive and fighting.

His eldest and youngest wives, 61-year-old Khairiah Saber from Saudi Arabia and 29-year-old Yemeni Amal Ahmed Abdul Fatah, recently had to be separated during a fight in a Pakistan prison, according to a Thursday report by the UK Daily Mail newspaper.

Amal thought her older rival leaked information about their terrorist husband’s whereabouts to American authorities, leading to his death, according to an unnamed source inside Pakistan’s powerful Inter Services Intelligence spy agency who said prison guards were instructed to keep the two apart.

An article by the daily published 12 March said Khairiah was overwhelmed with jealousy that the younger wife was sleeping with bin Laden, prompting her to rat him out to American authorities.

Three of the al-Qaeda leader’s wives and eight children are being detained in Pakistan. He reportedly has five spouses.

The al-Qaeda leader was killed on 2 May during a secret US special forces raid on his compound in the garrison town of Abbottabad. Pakistan said the operation was conducted without its permission, causing tensions between Islamabad and Washington’s already strained relations.

The issue of bin Laden’s widows was already a matter of concern for Pakistan when on 9 March the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Pakistan’s branch of the insurgent group, threatened to unleash a wave of suicide attacks if they were not released from prison.

The wives last week were charged with illegally entering and staying in the country.

The country originally intended to repatriate bin Laden’s family after they were interrogated about how the terror chief was able to stay in Pakistan.

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

Al Shabaab Bases in Somalia Targeted in Air Raid

(AGI) Mogadiscio — An air raid has hit several Al Shabaab terrorist bases to the north of the Somali port of Kismayu. The raid targeted several objectives in the area of the village of Daytubako, 135 Km from Kismayu, the nucleus of terrorist operations in the Horn of Africa. According to Mohamud Farah, spokesman for the Somali Army Regulars in Bass Juba, the fighter jets were from Kenya, but the Defense Ministry in Nairobi did not wish to confirm in the report. Already last October Kenya had sent troops to Somalia, following the terrorists held responsible for kidnappings and incursions into Kenyan territory, such as that of last week in which 7 persons were killed.

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

Ethiopia Conducts Terrorist Camp Raids in Eritrea

(AGI) Addis Ababa — The Ethiopian govt reports on operations carried out against ‘terrorist’ encampments in neighbouring Eritrea. Addis Ababa claimed that the operations involved three “terrorist training camps,” located in Badme, run by the people allegedly “responsible for the killing of five European tourists (2 Germans, 2 Austrians and 1 Hungarian), on January 18.” The Ethiopian army sortie was confirmed by Eritrean authorities, who yesterday clarified that they would not retaliate against Ethiopian troops’ penetrating 10 miles into Eritrean territory, in the Gelakalay and Gimbina regions.

Significantly, Badme is still subject to territorial disputes between the two countries.

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

Nigerian Christian Community Attacked, At Least 10 Victims

(AGI) Lagos- Two attacks on Christian communities in the Nigerian state of Kaduna left ten dead and five more wounded.

According to local authorities a clergyman and politician are among the victims. The commando unit which carried out the attacks comprised around twenty men who fired their automatic weapons in Dayi and Kauna, in the Chikun area. “There is still an unacceptable thirst for revenge against Christians today,” said former Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, “what is being done to quell this rage? Shock and grief over a news agency flash article or yet another report on these ever more frequent and ferocious massacres are not enough. Estimates on the number of victims of religious intolerance are rising exponentially. As are the number of nations in which the maximum degree of persecution are recorded. In some of these there are even indicators that matters are worsening”. “There are over 50 nations in the world in which Christian communities are subject to atrocious acts of persecution,” Frattini noted, “if all democratic and liberal governments decided to discuss this topic among the key ones in their bilateral agendas and condemned these barbaric acts in multilateral voices, then that would be enough. Harsher penalties are needed. More and clearer commitments are needed from Europe, so that it may use its legitimate diplomatic pressure in any way possible, as well as the right to religious freedom wherever it is threatened or denied, so that those culpable do not go unpunished. We mustn’t wait for further bloodshed. The EU must provide further defenders of liberty to uphold its values in favour of human rights and religious freedom, calling upon all nations to not underestimate these tragic events and to support freedom.”

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

Latin America

Eleven Regular Colombian Soldiers Killed by FARC Rebels

(AGI) Bogota — Eleven regular Colombian soldiers died, were killed in an ambush made by Farc rebels, along the Venezuelan border. More soldiers have been injured. In October, Farc rebels killed a total of 20 soldiers in diverse attacks. The soldiers killed yesterday were patrolling various oil installations and plants.

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

Venezuela: Agents Arrested in Death of a Consul’s Daughter

(AGI) — Caracas — 12 agents of police were arrested and accused of killing the daughter of a Chilean consul in Maracaibo. The 19 year old youngster was traveling with her brother and did not stop at a road block. The troops allegedly opened fired on the car instead of chasing it.

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


Agrigento Prosecutors Investigate Barge Deaths

(AGI) Agrigento — The Agrigento Prosecutor’s Office has opened an inquest into the deaths of 5 immigrants on a barge in Lampedusa. This new tragedy occurred off the coast of Lampedusa when 5 immigrants were found dead aboard a barge 80 miles from the island. The inquest, according to the information available to AGI, is being coordinated by Prosecutor Renato Di Natale and by Substitute Prosecutor Matteo Delpini. The Prosecutor’s Office has arranged for the inspection of the bodies and from the results of this first examination, the decision to effect autopsies could be taken. The Prosecutor’s Office intends to shed light on the cause of the immigrants’ deaths.

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

Seafaring Migrant Vessels Spawn Italy-Malta Tensions

(AGI) Palermo — Italian authorities and UNHCR are on high alert as more migrant boats cross the Strait of Sicily. With concerns compounded by the death by drowning of an estimated five persons during a recent crossing, UNHCR spokeswoman Laura Boldrini reports that four vessels are currently crossing the stretch of sea between Italy and Tunisia. Carrying an estimated 80 passengers, one such vessel was spotted in Maltese Search and Rescue waters by a French fishing boat. With the boat’s position forwarded to authorities in Valletta, there is growing speculation that Maltese authorities may — as in several other past instances — simply redirect the vessel towards the nearest Italian safe haven, namely the island of Lampedusa. According to Boldrini Italian and Maltese are currently at loggerheads as to who has responsibility for rescuing the migrants.

Furthermore, Lampedusa shelter facilities recently witnessed forceful protests which issued in migrants setting fire to the shelter, leading local authorities to declare the port ‘unsafe’. Interviewed on the matter, the Italian Coast Guard dismiss any direct responsibility in rescuing the vessel spotted off Maltese SAR waters. Similar incidents have generally resulted in Italy taking care of rescue operations, leading, however, to diplomatic spats between Rome and Valletta. Boldrini also reports a Somali source as claiming that a further three vessels are at sea, two of which are yet to be spotted by radars. On that note, the UNHCR spokeswoman clarified that the information has been forwarded to the Italian Coast Guard.

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

Special Medical Emergencies Unit Dispatched to Lampedusa

(AGI) Rome — Italian health authorities have agreed to dispatch a special medical emergency task force to Lampedusa. With the small island off the coast of Sicily bearing the brunt of migrant vessel landings, Health Minister Renato Balduzzi, Sicily’s Regional Health Councillor Massimo Russo and the INMP migration institute’s DG, Concetta Mirisola, agreed to the task force’s establishment. The special emergencies unit — which is to work side by side with other emergency services — is to comprise doctors, nurses and interpreters. News of the unit’s set-up was reported by the Health Ministry in the wake of today’s spotting of a migrant vessel in the Strait of Sicily, with 57 on-board, of whom 5 deceased. INMP (Istituto Nazionale per la Salute, le Migrazioni e la Poverta’) boasts a prior involvement in handling Lampedusa’s North Africa migrant crisis:between April and September 2011, in conjunction with Palermo’s ARNAS Hospital, INMP carried out medical triage at the port of Lampedusa and provided first aid services.

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

UNHCR: New Wave of Immigrants Arriving, Prepare Lampedusa

(AGI) Palermo — The UNHCR has warned of the arrival of a new wave of immigrants in the Channel of Sicily and to prepare Lampedusa. Speaking to the AGI, Laura Boldrini, spokesperson for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees remarked, “It is physiological with the coming of summer.” This, however in a profoundly changed geopolitical situation in the area, and without taking into account the recent condemnation by the European Court for Human Rights of Italy’s policy of forcing immigrants back. Today saw a dramatic landing of 56 persons on Lampedusa, with the death of 5 persons, while yesteday a group of 54 and then another which was blocked in the area of Trapani. Now at least another 4 vessels have been sighted, Boldrini confirms, of which a series of controls are being carried out. “I believe that we must expect a new, significant arrival of persons,” she added, “who are ever more at risk.” Boldrini continued, “As long as there are situations of tension in nearby areas, such as the Horn of Africa, people will try to find a safe place. People continue to flee Somalia, as they do from other countries.” The situation has to be taken into account and for this reason “we must be ready for every eventuality. It is important that the First Aid and Transit Center in Lampedusa is in functioning condition.” The Imbriacola district structure is, in fact, closed after it was set afire at the end of a revolt. It has become imperative that “Lampedusa once again be considered a “safe haven” as it has always been until a few months ago.” ..

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


Proposed UN Environmental Constitution for the World Would Establish an Incredibly Repressive System of Global Governance

Most people have no idea that the United Nations has been drafting an environmental constitution for the world that is intended to supersede all existing national laws. This document has a working title of “Draft International Covenant on Environment and Development” and you can read the entire thing right here. Work on this proposed world environmental constitution has been going on since 1995, and the fourth edition was issued to UN member states on September 22nd, 2010. This document is intended to become a permanent binding treaty and it would establish an incredibly repressive system of global governance. This “covenant”, as it is being called, claims authority over the entire global environment and everything that affects it. Considering the fact that everything that we do affects the environment in some way, that would mean that this document would become the highest form of law for all human activity. This proposed UN environmental constitution for the world is incredibly detailed. The U.S. Constitution only has 7 articles, but the UN document has 79 articles. If the U.S. eventually ratifies this treaty, any national, state or local laws that conflict with this covenant will be null and void. This is potentially one of the greatest threats to our national sovereignty that we have ever seen and we need to warn the American people about it.

Essentially what this proposed environmental covenant does is it takes the sustainable development principles underlying Agenda 21 and turns them into global constitutional law.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]