- Aafia Siddiqui Extradited to US
- One in Five German Firms Leaving China
- Montenegro: Ethnic Albanians Jailed for Alleged Plot
- Hamas’ Christian Convert: I’ve Left a Society That Sanctifies Terror
- Resettlement to Iceland Rescues Palestinians From Border Camp Limbo
- Professor Sacked for Displaying Offensive Pictures of Prophet Mohammed
- Kuwait: 1,000 Workers Deported, Fight Against Abuse Announced
- India: Focus: Band Aid for Cancer
- Iran Warns It Could Close Waterway Vital to Oil Shipments
- Immigration: Women Raped to Get on Boats
- Eastern European Workers Begin Heading Home
From Miss Kelly:
Wow, that didn’t take long. CNN is reporting that Aafia Siddiqui has been extradited to the U.S. Her supporters, including British journalist and Muslim convert Yvonne Ridley are claiming that Siddiqui was “physically tortured and continuously raped by the prison officers at Bagram prison.” Of course! CNN reports that Siddiqui will be charged with attempted murder and assault of a U.S. officer and U.S. employees, according to federal authorities. “Authorities say Siddiqui shot at two FBI special agents, a U.S. Army warrant officer, an Army captain and military interpreters who unknowingly entered a room where she was being held unsecured.
I’m not sure where the trial will be held. It could prove very interesting to learn when and how she became radicalized. At MIT by contacts she made at the Muslim Students Association, as theorized by writer Deborah Scroggins?
NEW YORK (CNN) — A Pakistani accused of shooting at U.S. officers while in Afghan custody last month has been extradited to the United States, federal prosecutors said Monday.
Aafia Siddiqui — who had been sought by the FBI for several years regarding terrorism —- now faces federal charges of attempted murder and assault of a U.S. officer and U.S. employees, federal authorities said.
Authorities say Siddiqui shot at two FBI special agents, a U.S. Army warrant officer, an Army captain and military interpreters who unknowingly entered a room where she was being held unsecured.
Siddiqui was behind a curtain and shot at the personnel with an officer’s rifle, officials said…
— Hat tip: Miss Kelly
France Paroles Ex-BR Terrorist
Marina Petrella allowed to seek medical treatment
(ANSA) — Versailles, August 5 — A French appeals court on Tuesday ordered that a former member of the Italian Red Brigades (BR) terrorist group be granted parole to seek proper medical treatment.
Marina Petrella, 54, is at present in the Saint-Anne hospital in Paris where she is being treated for the effects of a hunger strike and depression.
Hospital sources last week said she had lost more than 20kg and that her psychological condition was ‘‘critical’’.
In its decision, the appeals court said she must reside at her home in the Paris suburb of Argenteuil, report to the local police station daily and not leave French territory.
‘‘We are happy with the court’s decision because now my mother can finally get the treatment she needs. Our battle to fight her extradition will continue,’’ Petrella’s daughter said. Petrella, was convicted by an Italian court in 1992 of the 1981 murder of a police officer and was wanted for other crimes, including kidnapping and armed robbery.
She was arrested in Argenteuil last August, after living in France without any problems for 15 years, in response to an extradition request Italy presented in October 2006 for her and 11 other former far-left militants living in France. Last month French President Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed that Petrella would be extradited but urged Italian authorities to grant her a pardon ‘‘taking into account what has taken place since her conviction and her current state of health and psychological condition’’.
The BR, Italy’s most infamous leftist terrorist group, waged urban warfare in the 1970s and 1980s. Their most notorious act was the kidnapping and murder of Christian Democrat leader Aldo Moro in 1978.
— Hat tip: Insubria
One in Five German Firms Leaving China
China lost its status as the world’s cheapest country for manufacturing some time ago. The momentum now seems to be shifting away from outsourcing to the Far East, with one in five Germany companies pulling production out of the country. Chinese workers, they say, are getting too expensive.
Citing fast-climbing labor costs and pesky production quality problems, a growing number of German companies are doing an about face and pulling their manufacturing operations out of China. Some are searching for countries with lower wages while others are returning production to Germany.
The Association of German Engineers (VDI) estimates that one in five of the approximately 1,600 German companies with presences in China is planning to pull out of the market, the Tagesspiegel am Sonntag newspaper reported. “Many, many firms are naïve when they enter into the Chinese market and don’t even think about the fact that wages are increasing there,” VDI spokesman Sven Renkel told the newspaper.
Rising energy costs, stricter environmental rules, the elimination of many tax incentives, a dearth of skilled workers and the increasing strength of the yuan against the dollar have all pushed production costs up in China. In addition, the country’s 8-percent inflation rate has also driven up wages in the past year by as much as 20 percent.
They’re now looking to other lower-wage countries, like Bangladesh, India or Kazakhstan, where production is cheaper.
— Hat tip: VH
Foreigners Tempted by Swedish Town’s Cash Incentive
The northern Swedish town of Arjeplog has been inundated with requests in recent days from prospective migrants interested in cashing in on the municipality’s innovative new repopulation scheme.
As reported in The Local last week, Arjeplog council is offering 25,000 kronor ($4,000) to anybody willing to set up a new home in the inland municipality located just 50 kilometres south of the Polar Circle.
“Our current population has dropped to 3,100 from a high of 5,500 thirty years ago. We want to eventually get it back up to maybe around 4,000,” council spokesman Bengt-Urban Fransson told The Local.
In recent days, The Local has received correspondence from interested parties from as far afield as Pakistan, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Russia and Gothenburg.
And Bengt-Urban Fransson confirmed that the council’s mailbox was also beginning to fill up.
“We have had a lot of interest from other parts of Sweden but also from places like Russia, Germany and the Netherlands,” he said.
— Hat tip: TB
Montenegro: Ethnic Albanians Jailed for Alleged Plot
Podgorica, 5 August (AKI) — A court in the small Balkan country of Montenegro on Tuesday convicted 12 ethnic Albanians, including four US citizens, of plotting a rebellion when the republic became independent of Serbia in 2006.
Judge Ivica Stankovic also convicted five other members of the group from Montenegro’s Albanian minority of possessing illegal weapons.
He sentenced the 17 defendants to prison terms ranging from three months to six and a half years for planning a rebellion and the Americans received some of the toughest sentences.
The ethnic Albanians were arrested on terrorism charges in September 2006, but the charges were later modified.
Authorities claimed they were planning attacks with a view to creating an autonomous region.
Ethnic Albanians comprise about six percent of Montenegro’s total population of 620,000 and are concentrated in several areas bordering Albania.
Twelve ethnic Albanians were sentenced to a total of 48 years in prison, ranging from terms of three to six years each, while several others were given lighter sentences.
All members of the group had pleaded not guilty to the charges and said they would appeal Tuesday’s verdict.
— Hat tip: KGS
Gaddafi Warns ‘Arrogant’ Iran of ‘Iraq Fate’
Libyan leader Muamar Gaddafi on Tuesday warned “arrogant” Iran that it faces military humiliation on the scale of Iraq for its refusal to respond to western powers over a nuclear impasse.
“What Iran is doing stems simply from arrogance,” Gaddafi said during a visit to Tunisia after Tehran ignored another western deadline to accept an incentives package in exchange for full transparency on its nuclear drive.
“In the event of a decision against Iran, this country will suffer the same outcome as Iraq… Iran is not any stronger than Iraq and won’t have the means to resist (a military attack) on its own,” Gaddafi said.
“The challenges are greater and exceed Iran’s ability to reply,” he added, speaking on the third day of his visit.
— Hat tip: TB
Hamas’ Christian Convert: I’ve Left a Society That Sanctifies Terror
A moment before beginning his supper, Masab, son of West Bank Hamas leader Sheikh Hassan Yousef, glances at the friend who has accompanied him to the restaurant where we met. They whisper a few words and then say grace, thanking God and Jesus for putting food on their plates.
It takes a few seconds to digest this sight: The son of a Hamas MP who is also the most popular figure in that extremist Islamic organization, a young man who assisted his father for years in his political activities, has become a rank-and-file Christian. “I’m now called Joseph,” he says at the outset.
Masab knows that he has little hope of returning to visit the Holy Land in this lifetime.
“I know that I’m endangering my life and am even liable to lose my father, but I hope that he’ll understand this and that God will give him and my family patience and willingness to open their eyes to Jesus and to Christianity. Maybe one day I’ll be able to return to Palestine and to Ramallah with Jesus, in the Kingdom of God.”
Nor does he attempt to hide his affection for Israel, or his abhorrence of everything representing the surroundings in which he grew up: the nation, the religion, the organization.
“Send regards to Israel, I miss it. I respect Israel and admire it as a country,” he says.
— Hat tip: TB
Solidarity: Children Assistance Programme in West Bank
(ANSAmed) — ROME, AUGUST 4 — An assistance programme in support of Palestinian children was promoted by the volunteers of “Operation Dove” of the Community Pope John XXIII and the ecumenical group Christian Peacemaker Team, based in the United States and Canada. The operators — according to reports by Osservatore Romano — are present in three villages of the West Bank: At-Tuwani, Tuba and Magher el Abeed, where recently there were several clashes between the Israeli residents of the settlement of Havat Maon-Hill and the Palestinian families. Some residents threw stones against Palestinian children, coming back home to the villages of Tuba and Magher el Abeed, after taking part in the summer camp in the village of At-Tuwani. The volunteers, in particular, are acting in the areas where the incidents took place, to guarantee the security of the children and their relatives, but also to encourage dialogue between the Muslims and the Jews. On August 2 also a “Summer Camp Peace March” was held, which saw children and parents walk on the road where the aggressions took place, to publicly condemn the situation. The demonstrators were accompanied by the volunteers, who thus expressed their solidarity. Other marches are scheduled for the future, it was announced, if the violence does not cease. The Palestinian families are living, in fact, with great difficulty the restrictions imposed on them. Besides, it is feared that further stone throwing episodes might take place at the passage of other children. “The presence of the volunteers offers more tranquillity for the families. The violence is by now continuous and because of this, a stable assistance is needed, which can also keep the door of dialogue open. Practically, the role that we play is of peaceful mediation between the conflicting parties, we are almost like ‘soldiers’ of the peace forces, armed only with our ideas and convictions”, the programme coordinator Piergiorgio Rosetti explained to Osservatore Romano. (ANSAmed).
— Hat tip: Insubria
Mideast: Territories; Institutions Must be Consolidated
(ANSAmed) — ROME, AUGUST 4 — “The consolidation of Palestinian institutions, of the Palestinian National Authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas, and the sustainable social and economic development are the main targets of the government and of the Italian Cooperation in the Territories”, the Italian General Consul in Jerusalem, Luciano Pezzotti, remarked in an interview with the portal of the Foreign Ministry, Esteri.it, in which he assesses the last ten years of interventions of the Italian Cooperation in the Palestinian Territories. This is a commitment which Italy has been undertaking “with determination for over 20 years, registering an undisputed success and gratefulness from the Authorities and the Palestinian population”, the Consul in Jerusalem added, remarking that the Italian cooperation in the past ten years contributed with over 220 million euro to the “financing of projects in support of the Palestinian population and institutions, diversifying and graduating the interventions according to the necessities and of the moment”. “It was in particular a matter of matching the needs of an almost chronic humanitarian crisis situation with the targets of sustainable social and economic development, accompanied by actions aimed at supporting the establishment of the Palestinian institutions”, Pezzotti said, specifying that “in order to reach this target, Italy, side by side with the international community, measured itself in Paris in December 2007 with the Development Plan presented by PNA, allocating an additional amount of some 80 million euro for the period 2008-2010, with the primary target to encourage economic and social growth in the Palestinian Territories, in tune with the wishes of the international community, represented and summarised by the initiatives of the Quartet’s representative, Tony Blair”. (ANSAmed).
— Hat tip: Insubria
Resettlement to Iceland Rescues Palestinians From Border Camp Limbo
AL WALEED, Iraq, Aug. 4 (UNHCR) — More than two dozen vulnerable Palestinian refugees stranded for the last two years in a makeshift camp in the desert on the Iraq-Syria border are set to leave the camp in the coming weeks for Iceland.
“The group includes some of the most vulnerable women and children with urgent cases, for whom resettlement is the only option” says Daniel Endres, UNHCR’s Representative in Iraq.
Iceland takes 25 to 30 refugees for resettlement every year and in recent years has focused on resettling single women and single mothers with their children.
Wedad, a 30-year-old widow is among the group of 29 refugees that will be leaving soon for Iceland. She arrived in Al Waleed camp a few months ago after her husband was killed while trying to save victims of a suicide bombing in Karada district in March.
A second bomb exploded while he was helping survivors of the first blast, killing him and injuring his four-year old son. Wedad and her three children left Baghdad in hopes of going to a neighbouring county, but became stranded in the border camp.
“Life in the camp is harsh and very difficult for my children,” said Wedad. “My son is especially suffering serious psychological problems after seeing his father killed in front of his eyes.”
An estimated 2,700 Palestinians are living in desperate conditions in two refugee camps along the Iraq-Syria border, unable to cross the frontier into a country already straining to cope with hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Palestinian refugees.
— Hat tip: Spackle
Professor Sacked for Displaying Offensive Pictures of Prophet Mohammed
Manama, Bahrain (AHN) — A foreign professor has been fired by the Bahrain government for displaying photographs of a man wearing torn clothes with Prophet Mohammed written on the attire during her lecture. The Ministry of Education announced the decision on Monday after reports in the local media of complaints by some students.
Dr. Muna Al Balooshi, acting general secretary of the Higher Education Council, said in a statement the female professor was teaching differences in civilizations when the pictures was displayed.
“We immediately investigated the case against the private university. The education minister, Dr. Majeed bin Ali Al Nuaimi, ordered the sacking of the professor,” Al Balooshi said.
According to preliminary information, students were angry when the photograph was displayed during the lecture. The professor apologized to the students, but the damage was done.
“An apology is not enough as she should respect Islam and Muslims. We have also warned the university that if the offense is repeated it would face severe action,” Al Balooshi said
— Hat tip: TB
Kuwait: 1,000 Workers Deported, Fight Against Abuse Announced
(ANSAmed) — KUWAIT CITY, AUGUST 5 — Kuwait deported a thousand of workers from Bangladesh held responsible for violent protest demonstrations, but meanwhile announced a law against “paper traders” and against the abuse of foreign workers, facts which caused the protests of the workers. Last week hundreds of employees of Kuwaiti companies launched a series of protests asking for better work conditions and equal wages, Catholic news agency AsiaNews reported. The motives for the protest included forms of sexual exploitation whose victims are maids. A phenomenon which alongside with that of forced labour was denounced in June by a report of the U.S. State Department on the conditions of workers in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar. Some 200,000 workers from Bangladesh are present in the Gulf states, most of whom employed as cleaners or house keepers. Announcing the deportation of the “violent” people, Kuwaiti Minister of Social Affairs and Labour, Bader al-Duwaila, emphasised a series of initiatives launched after the meeting with the Parliamentary Committee on human rights. The minister said that his country “is not willing to tolerate any violence”, as well as that he will “cut the hands of paper traders”, agency Kuna reported. In order to enter the country, however, one needs a labour contract. Whoever loses their job and does not have another, loses the stay permit as well. Hence, “the market” of those who provide valid or fictitious working contracts could later force the employee into heavy working and living conditions, or to pay them very little. The punishment is practically the deportation. Duwaila, announcing a meeting of the committee in September, added that the Government has discussed a proposal to increase the minimum salary of house keepers to 70 dinars (some $265) and of cleaners to 40 dinars (USD 151) from the current 30 ($114). Besides, there will be officers at the airports to guarantee the “not more than a thousand” deported workers from Bangladesh the payment at least of the due salary. (ANSAmed).
— Hat tip: Insubria
Turkey’s Islamists Inspire a New Climate of Fear
From the August 2, 2008 Wall Street Journal
by Zeyno Baran
This week’s verdict by Turkey’s Constitutional Court — which rejected an attempt to ban the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) for undermining the country’s secular foundations — has been hailed by the U.S. and the EU as a great step forward for democracy and rule of law. Fair enough. Banning a party that last year renewed its mandate in office with 47% of the vote would have been a huge setback for Turkey. But that doesn’t mean we should all sigh with relief and conclude that liberal democracy is flourishing under the Islamic-oriented AKP’s rule.
Government surveillance of AK Party critics and leaks to media of personal phone conversations have created a climate of fear. There is concern among some liberals that the country is becoming a police state. The foundation of a healthy democracy — the right to dissent and hold an elected government accountable — is gradually being undermined.
When asked about mass wire-tapping, Minister of Transportation Binali Yildirim gave a Kafkaesque response: “It is not possible to prevent being listened to; the only way is not to talk [on the phone]. If there is nothing illegal in our actions, we should not be concerned about such things.”
— Hat tip: CSP
India: Focus: Band Aid for Cancer
New Delhi, 4 August (AKI) — (By M.J. Akbar) — In the general elections of 2004 the irrepressible and sometimes irresponsible Lalu Prasad Yadav used to tow around a maulvi when in campaign mode.
Nothing particularly wrong with that. Politicians have this tendency to turn mullahs into best friends at election time. What was the particular competence of this maulvi that attracted Lalu Yadav? Was he a great alim, or scholar, erudite in the finer points of Sharia? Was he a fine economist with specialised knowledge in the intricate problems of rural Bihar?
The reason was less subtle. He was a lookalike of Osama bin Laden. He even handed out autographs signed “Osama”.
Lalu Yadav sent out two unmissable signals with his thoughtless pandering. He told non-Muslims that the true role model of all Bihar Muslims, irrespective of what they said in their politically-correct avatar, was a person whose name had become synonymous with terrorism. And he told Muslims, particularly their impressionable young, that Osama was a legitimate role model.
Did Sonia Gandhi, an ally of Lalu Yadav, question him or even raise the subject? Not a word. Votes were more important, even if they came in the name of Osama bin Laden. Did the subject arise when Gandhi offered Lalu Yadav a prominent place in Manmohan Singh’s Cabinet? No…
— Hat tip: C. Cantoni
Iran Warns It Could Close Waterway Vital to Oil Shipments
Iran on warned that it could close a waterway [Strait of Hormuz] in the Gulf that is critical for oil shipments and announced that it was in possession of a new naval weapon that could sink enemy ships within a range of 300 kilometers.
It was unclear what had provoked the warnings, which were issued by the Revolutionary Guards. But the announcements came just after an informal deadline over the weekend, set by Western powers, for Iran to respond to incentives from world powers to curb its uranium-enrichment activities.
The warning coincided with reports that the chief Iranian nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, had spoken by telephone Monday with the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana. Solana was expected to report back on the conversation to the representatives of the six countries — the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany — that are leading the demands that Iran stop enriching uranium, news agencies reported.
— Hat tip: VH
Immigration: Women Raped to Get on Boats
(By Lirio Abbate) (ANSAmed) — LAMPEDUSA, AUGUST 4 — Women setting off on the “journeys of hope” from their native countries in the Horn of Africa to Italy suffer sexual violence. The journey is marked by abuse on the part of the men who manage the human trafficking and organise the passages, first on land, in the desert of Sudan, then in the Strait of Sicily onboard of boats. According to information confirmed to ANSA, 80% of the women who arrived in the past two years in Lampedusa were victims of sexual abuse and some of them have become pregnant. “One night two men arrived at the abandoned house on the border between Libya and Tunisia in which we were waiting to leave for the sea. There was some 40 of us and these people who wore uniforms took me away. I was taken to a deserted house where they raped me.” This is the story of Blessing, an 18-year-old girl from Eritrea, which she told in the first reception centre in Lampedusa. “When they freed me and I returned to the group I was received by two other women who embraced me and the expression on their faces showed that they had suffered the same abuse,” Blessing said.
— Hat tip: Insubria
Immigration: Spain; at the Surgeon’s to Smooth Features
(ANSAmed) — MADRID, AUGUST 4 — Modifying one’s features to smooth down the ethnical traits, in tune with the western aesthetic standards, has become a real mass phenomenon in Spain, where every year hundreds immigrants decide to undergo plastic surgery, according to the data released by the Spanish plastic, corrective and aesthetic surgery association (SECPRE), reported today by daily El Pais. The immigrants of South American origins are those who resort the most to the scalpel, to redefine the features which betray their ethnical origin, starting from rhinoplasty, since the nose is one of the features which mostly identifies the nationality. “Many clients come to me with the excuse of a deviated septum, but in reality they want to correct flat nostrils,” surgeon Diego Tomas, who confirmed the increase of this type of surgery in the past years, explained.
— Hat tip: Insubria
Eastern European Workers Begin Heading Home
When the European Union expanded in 2004, millions of Eastern Europeans headed west looking for work. Now, with economic realities shifting, many are heading back. Western Europe may be facing a labor shortage as a result.
According to recent survey conducted by the Public Opinion Research Center (CBOS) in Warsaw, only half as many Poles are willing to work abroad as in 2004. Furthermore, UK government statistics indicate that the numbers of work permits issued to Eastern European immigrants dropped by 10 percent in 2007 against 2006.
“The trend is just getting started,” said Justyna Frelak of CBOS. “But it is becoming quite clear.”
Danny Sriskandarajah, who heads up migration research for the IPPR: “It is a question of when, not if the Great East European migration slows. With few migrants in and more migrants out, the UK seems to be experiencing turnstiles, not floodgates.”
The reversing trend is most obvious in the UK and Ireland as well as in Sweden. Those three countries were the only older EU countries which opted to open their doors immediately to new EU members. News of the slow reversal is sure to be welcome in capitals across Eastern Europe. Many countries there have experienced major labor shortages as young professionals and laborers opted for higher western salaries.
— Hat tip: VH