The news feed is outgrowing its format. Readers have been inspired by it to send in more tips, so that tonight there are more than fifty articles here. I can’t create headline links for all of them; otherwise the top part of the post would be too long, So, if you want to read all the news that’s fit to post, click “read further” and keep scrolling.
I’m working on a revised version of the software that will change the format, but that will take time. Bear with me for a while longer…
Thanks to Abu Elvis, ACT for America, Barry Rubin, BJM, C. Cantoni, CzC, Fausta, Fjordman, Insubria, LN, Steen, TB, VH, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Details are below the fold.
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Boeing Awarded Contract to Continue Developing Mobile Laser Weapon
The Boeing Company has been awarded a U.S. Army contract valued at approximately $36 million to continue developing a truck-mounted, high-energy laser weapon system that will destroy rockets, artillery shells and mortar rounds.
Under the High Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator (HEL TD) Phase II contract, awarded Aug. 15, Boeing will complete the design of, then build, test and evaluate, a rugged beam control system on a Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck. Boeing also will develop the system-engineering requirements for the entire HEL TD laser weapon system. Boeing successfully completed the preliminary design of the beam control system earlier this summer.
“This contract award is an important win for Boeing because it supports a cornerstone of the Army’s high-energy laser program,” said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems. “HEL TD will give warfighters a transformational capability to counter the difficult threats posed by rockets, artillery shells and mortar projectiles.”
“Boeing spent the past year developing the preliminary design of the HEL TD beam control system, and we appreciate the confidence the Army has shown in our efforts by awarding us these contract options to continue working on the program,” said Gary Fitzmire, vice president and program director of Boeing Directed Energy Systems.
The objective of the HEL TD program is to demonstrate that a mobile, solid-state laser weapon system can effectively counter rocket, artillery and mortar projectiles. The program will support the transition to a full-fledged Army acquisition program. […]
Muslim Obama Supporter Declares White People Deserve and Want to Have Their Ears and Noses Cut Off
And that Muslims shouldn’t worry, “because God wants you to do it”
Old videos appear to show a radical Muslim named Khalid Al-Mansour helped Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama gain acceptance into Harvard Law.
In one of the videos, titled “Christians Designed Discrimination” uploaded by a YouTube user named IslamStudios, Al-Mansour said, “White people don’t feel bad, whatever you do to them, they deserve it, God wants you to do it and that’s when you cut out the nose, cut out the ears, take flesh out of their body, don’t worry because God wants you to do it.”
The Hollywood Offensive: Islamic Group Offended by Alan Ball’s ‘Towelhead’
It has almost come to the point where I could turn this into a regular weekly column, where I single handedly track down all of the activist groups who are needlessly offended by the “art” of mainstream film and set them straight with a simple dose logic. This time we will travel a little wide of the mainstream, to an indie film from a big name director that is getting some attention from the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The film in question is American Beauty writer Alan Ball’s Towelhead, a drama about a young Arab-American girl (Summer Bishil) who struggles with sexual obsession as she goes to live with her very strict father (Peter Macdissi), who just so happens to live next to a bigoted, kid-touching Army reservist (Aaron Eckhart).
The CAIR-LA asked via a press release yesterday that Warner Bros., who is distributing the film under their now-defunct Warner Independent Pictures label, to change the title of the film before its September 12 release. In the statement, CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush said in part:
“The title…is of great concern to us, since the word is commonly used in a derogatory manner against people of the Muslim faith or Arab origin…We have no desire to inhibit the creative process or your right to produce any film you wish. However, I ask you to take the above concerns into consideration and examine the social implications of releasing the film under its current title, ‘Towelhead.’“
Now, unlike the issue over the word “retard” related to the recently released Ben Stiller film Tropic Thunder, this one seems to be a bit more straight forward. In fact, once again we see a group who does have the right to be offended, as anyone would. The term “towelhead” is a very derogatory term; I don’t think anyone would argue that. The problem is that once again we are dealing with the right of the artist, in this case Alan Ball, to create art and deliver it uncensored. It has nothing to do with the fact that the film’s title has significant relevance to its message, one that displays many of the struggles that young American Muslims face every day in our country, and more to do with Alan Ball’s right to call his movie whatever he so chooses…
One Man’s China Crusade
For Canadian diplomat Brian McAdam, it wasn’t that he had uncovered the lucrative sale of Canadian visas during his posting at Canada’s Hong Kong consulate.
Both Canadian and Chinese consular staff, he says, were selling visas to members of the Chinese mafia and Communist China’s intelligence service. The price, he heard, ranged from $10,000 to $100,000 per visa.
It wasn’t that reports he sent to his bosses in Canada — details on murderers, money launderers, smugglers and spies trying to enter Canada — were met with silence or mostly destroyed.
It wasn’t dozens of threatening calls — “Stop what you’re doing or you’re going to find yourself dead” — from Triad members during his 1989-1993 stint in Hong Kong.
What finally broke him down, he says, was “the incredible feeling of betrayal from my colleagues. I’d worked with these people for years.”
“It goes to your very soul,” he says. “It is a spiritual crisis. It is a psychological breakdown.”…
Accused Terrorist Sues Norway
The co-founder of a suspected al-Qaeda linked militant group in Iraq who lived a double life as a refugee in Norway’s capital Oslo is suing Norway for violating his rights. The bizarre saga began when Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad, better known as Mullah Krekar, fled an onslaught by former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein’s forces in 1991.
Krekar, who had been a member of a Kurdish Islamist militant group battling both the Iraqi regime and the largest Kurdish resistance organisation Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), arrived in Norway, where he was granted refugee status.
So far so good, but Krekar did not rest on his laurels, according to the U.S., and officials in Kurdish Iraq. Instead, they say, he returned to Iraq on several occasions during the 1990s to help support Islamic militant organisations. Then, in 2001, he co-founded the radical Salafist group Ansar-al-Islam, which ruled according to a strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law in the villages it controlled.
Ansar-al-Islam is the organisation that former U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell told the United Nations provided an operational link between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s regime. Such an operational link has later been denied both by former CIA director George Tenet and the 9/11 Commission, among others, although some contact may have existed.
The U.S. and others say there is evidence linking Ansar-al-Islam to al-Qaeda, including claims that it helped former leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, enter the country.
It has also been accused of masterminding several attacks against Kurdish officials in 2001 and 2003, including suicide bombings, although U.S. allegations that Krekar personally ordered suicide bombings and controlled a chemical weapons factory have never been proven.
Ansar-al-Islam was designated a terrorist organisation by the U.S. in 2004, and Krekar was put on a U.N. sanctions list for his alleged al-Qaeda affiliations in 2006 (reportedly under U.S. pressure).
How, then, has Krekar managed to escape the clutches of the Guantanamo Bay prison — or at least a Norwegian jail cell — and instead court the tabloids in Oslo and even find the time to release an autobiography titled ‘In My Own Words’ in 2004? If a 2006 article in the newspaper Washington Post is to be believed, it is not for lack of trying by the U.S.
The article claims the U.S. sent undercover CIA agents to Oslo to abduct Krekar in 2003 — with quiet acquiescence by the Norwegian government — only weeks after completing another ‘extraordinary rendition’ of a Muslim cleric in Milan, Italy, who later said he was sent to Egypt to be tortured. However, Krekar’s lawyer was tipped off by an anonymous Norwegian government source, and a police guard was arranged.
The previous year Krekar was arrested in the Netherlands when returning to Norway from Iraq. The Dutch authorities said he was wanted for extradition to Jordan on drugs charges. However, his lawyers said the charges were trumped up by the U.S., and Krekar was released four months later.
Norway revoked Krekar’s refugee status during his 2002 visit to Iraq, and was none too eager to allow him back into the country after his release by the Netherlands. However, they could find no legal reason to refuse him entry. In 2003 he was arrested as Norway’s financial crimes agency investigated accusations that he had used Norway as a base to finance terrorism, but again the charges did not stick.
Norway also sought to deport Krekar back to northern Iraq in 2003 for allegedly posing a threat to national security. The case did the rounds in the Norwegian courts until 2007, when the High Court confirmed that he could be deported. However, as Norway has a policy of not expelling people to countries where they may be tortured or executed, the ruling has not been carried out, and may not be for a long time.
As a result, Krekar has been trapped in a legal limbo for the past six years.
“He has no identification papers, no freedom of movement and no rights in this country economically or socially speaking. Instead he has been forced into a situation reminiscent of house arrest, without any possibility of for instance earning an income,” his lawyer Brynjar Meling told Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang on Aug. 5. Krekar, he said, has to support his wife and four children.
Meling is helping Krekar file a case before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg alleging that Norway has violated the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. According to Meling, this includes charges for “inhuman treatment”.
“I am suing Norway to check whether I have all the rights I am entitled to,” Krekar told the newspaper. “I’m only demanding to get what I am entitled to, and I don’t care how people react.”
As regards the allegations against him, Krekar says that he left Ansar-al-Islam in 2002, and denies that he has ever been involved with any terrorist activities.
Despite the denials, Krekar is not afraid to voice controversial opinions. In 2005 he declared al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on Norwegian television “the jewel in the crown of Islam.” The following year he lamented the “bad news” of al-Zarqawi’s death in a U.S. air strike, although he was “proud of what (al-Zarqawi) has done and that he has become a martyr.”
This former refugee and militant leader will be heating tempers in chilly Norway for some time to come.
Danish Publisher Hopes to Publish ‘Inflammatory’ Islam Novel
A Danish publisher is in negotiations to buy Sherry Jones’s novel about the child bride of Muhammad, which was dropped by Random House in America and pulled from bookshops in Serbia.
The Jewel of Medina tells the story of Aisha, one of Muhammad’s wives, from the age of six to 18 when Muhammad dies. It was bought by Random House US for a reported advance of $100,000, but then dropped after the publisher was told by academics and security experts that publication was potentially more risky than Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses and the Danish publication of cartoons of Muhammad.
Last week, Serbian publisher BeoBook withdrew 1,000 copies of the book from shops across Serbia, following protests from an Islamic pressure group. BeoBook also apologised for publishing the novel.
Now small Danish publisher Trykkefrihedsselskabets Library (Free Speech Library) is in negotiations with Jones’s agent over publication of The Jewel of Medina in Denmark. Co-owner Helle Merete Brix said that the fact that Random House was prepared to pay $100,000 for the book showed its quality, and that she was determined not to “bow to any censorship”.
She added: “I think that whether you are Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu or atheist you have to be able to bear insults. You can’t say ‘I’m a Muslim, and that means I should be above criticism’. You can freely insult Jesus Christ, you can mock other religions.”
Brix said that, following Jyllands-Posten’s publication of the cartoons of Muhammad in 2005, which prompted protests across the Muslim world, she felt it was “deep in the mentality of Danish people that we will not tolerate people saying ‘you can’t say or publish that’…There is a growing awareness in Denmark that we have to keep it the bastion of free speech that it has been for many years.”
Brix expects to conclude negotiations with Natasha Kern, Jones’s agent, on Friday. Trykkefrihedsselskabets Library was founded in 2004, and published four books last year. Brix herself is also the author of Towards Darkness: The Muslim Brotherhood in Europe, which was published in April, and editor-in-chief of www.sappho.dk, a Danish site about free speech, radical Islam, culture and politics.
Denmark Pledges to Defend National Immigration Laws Against EU
By Tasneem Brogger
Aug. 27 (Bloomberg) — Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the country would keep immigration limits that contradict the free movement of labor enshrined in the European Union’s founding treaty.
“Denmark’s immigration policy is not going to change; the voters need to know that the law holds,” Rasmussen told voters in a speech last night in his constituency of Greve. “We’re going to the EU to change the rules.”
Rasmussen faces an uphill battle. The European Court of Justice struck down an attempt by Ireland on July 25 to keep its stricter immigration standards, stating EU rules override national laws. Now, keen to stem the flow of immigrants, Denmark is seeking support within Europe to win limited jurisdiction from EU rules on immigration.
“We’ve already written to some of our ambassadors and our friends, I’ve spoken to the EU Commissioner, I’ve spoken to my French colleague and I’m in the process of writing to other colleagues,” Integration Minister Birthe Roenn Hornbech told lawmakers on Aug. 12.
Denmark is trying to stem an inflow that saw the number of non-western immigrants jump 50 percent to 177,5000 between 1990 and 2000.
“We’re trying to change the set of rules inside the EU so that we can get things as we want them,” Rasmussen said today.
Doubts About the European CO2 Network
A near-disaster last week in Germany involving a cloud of CO2 gas made it clear that transporting CO2 by pipeline can be hazardous. It is an important lesson to learn since Rotterdam is about to become the hub of a European network of pipelines for the storage of greenhouse gas. The “Rotterdam Climate Initiative” will involve the permanent storage of CO2 in exhausted gas fields. [….]
If Rotterdam gets its way, within a couple of decades CO2 from all over Europe will be transported there by high-pressure pipelines. Pumps will then inject the gas into empty underground gas fields in Groningen and even under the North Sea. The theory is that the CO2 will remain stored there permanently where it cannot affect the environment. […]
Menso Molag, an engineer and risk management expert, thinks too little is known about the risks of CO2 transport: “Transport will cover long distances, passing partly through inhabited areas. We must know precisely what risks are involved and what to do if anything goes wrong.” […]
So isn’t the proposed CO2 network extremely vulnerable to terrorist attack? Like the natural gas network, the high-pressure pipelines will be close to the surface of the ground. But Mark Spruijt doesn’t believe that will necessarily make them an attractive target:
“I don’t regard that as a real threat, in any case no more than holds true for the natural gas transport network. Moreover, both sabotage and technical failure will be taken into account during the design stage. There will always be “traps”, valves which close whenever the pressure drops. So only a small amount of gas can escape. Safety is built into the design of this kind of pipeline.” […]
Ireland: Conor Lenihan Pushes the Myth of Replacement Migration
In an extraordinary new twist to the immigration debate, Conor Lenihan, speaking at the Parnell Summer School on August 14 2008, has introduced the myth of replacement migration in relation to Ireland. In other words we are not, he says, having enough children to sustain our population and so we must bring in immigrants.
This myth is demographic nonsense and was totally demolished by Anthony Browne in his book “Do We Need Mass Immigration?”
Irish Women’s Fertility at Highest Level in 16 Years
Fertility rates among Irish women are at their highest in 16 years, according to new figures from the CSO.
The statistics agency says the lifetime fertility rate for the average Irish woman last year was 2.03 children.
This is up from 1.9 children the previous year and is the first time since 1991 that the rate has been higher than two children.
The increase in fertility was most pronounced in the 30-39 age group.
Elsewhere, just over two-fifths of births last year were to first-time mothers, while 33% were outside marriage.
Islam: Ramadan; Imams, Women Preachers From Morocco to Italy
(ANSAmed) — ROME, AUGUST 26 — Some thirty imams from Morocco and with them a few “mourchidat” (spiritual advisers) are to reach these days Italy to follow the Muslim community in Italy in the sacred month of Ramadan which begins next week. A measure wanted by the Moroccan Government and agreed with the Italian one, MP of PdL, Suad Sbai, specifies, to contribute to avoid that the rites of Ramadan are managed by unprepared imams if not even directly related to the extremist currents. “Some imams, maybe six or seven had already come last year and were welcomed with enthusiasm. But this year the news is exactly that apart from being more numerous the group of imams is accompanied by women or by the Mourchidat’,” Sbai who is also president of the Association of the Moroccan Women in Italy says. The reference is to the “spiritual advisers” of the mosques with function of preachers even if without a title to lead the prayer whom for several years Morocco has begun to educate in order to approach them to the imams. This innovation is introduced and supported by King Mohammed VI also with the intent to stem extremism. And it was exactly “against extremism and violence” that the Moroccan government wanted to “export” its imams for Ramadan not only in Italy, but also in other European countries like the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain, Sbai adds. The initiative has been coordinated also with the Italian government by Moroccòs Islamic Affairs Ministry. Imams and ‘mourchidat’, whose expenses for the stay will be covered by Morocco, will work in particular for the evening prayer at the mosques and prayer centres throughout the country. (ANSAmed).
Music: Jewish World Leit Motif of Festival of Nations
(ANSAmed) — CITTA’ DI CASTELLO (PERUGIA), AUGUST 27 — The Jewish world in its different European derivations and Israel as a symbolic place for the interaction among different cultures: this is the leit motif which connects the programme of the Festival of Nations, running in Città di Castello and other places of the Upper Tiber Valley in Umbria until September 5. The Festival, whose formula envisages every year a guest country, is dedicated this time to the state of Israel, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the foundation, but already from the previous editions the artistic director Aldo Sisillo had explored the most significant presences of Jewish culture in Poland, Bohemia and Spain. The Festival’s programme offers an original overview of the itineraries of the Jewish culture and, inevitably, also of the Arab culture. As regards the latter, the most interesting moment is the concert in Piazza Fanti, next Monday, of the Arab Music Orchestra from Nazareth. The orchestra was set up some ten years ago within the music conservatory in Haifa, and includes Israeli and Palestinian musicians, with the ideal of peaceful coexistence, or rather of close artistic cooperation and mutual acceptance. It plays only instruments of the Arab tradition, strictly acoustic, which however did not prevent it from crossing for a few years the visionary path of the British band Radiohead, one of the most important examples of today’s rock scene. The concert in Città di Castello is dedicated to the art and the voice of Oum Koulthum, an Egyptian singer just short of being a legend, who has been for years not only the ‘voice’ of Arab music, but has represented also a kind of spokeswoman of her peoplés culture and identity. Her funeral, in March 1975 in Cairo, was followed by millions of people, and had the character of national mourning. Tomorrow evening, the Festival of Nations will live one of its most important days from the point of view of classical music in the traditional sense, with the arrival of great violinist Gidon Kremer, conducting the Kremerata Baltica, founded by him. Kremer, in the artistic project of the Festival, represents at the highest level the extraordinary school of violinists of Jewish origin, which in the last century generated very great artists and virtuosos of the instrument. The concert’s programme includes music from Beethoven, Schubert and Liszt and compositions by Nino Rota, Astor Piazzolla and even by jazz pianist Chick Corea. (ANSAmed).
‘Sharia’ Law Firm Secretaries Unmasked as Porn Actresses
THE HAGUE, 27/08/08 — Faizel Ali Enait refuses to shake hands with women and prefers them to wear burqas. But on the website of his law firm, two hard-core porn actresses posed as its secretaries.
Faizel Ali Enait claims to be a lawyer. He works for Jairam Advocaten, a law firm for Muslims in the Netherlands. Ali Enait lost a court case last week against Rotterdam municipality, which he accused of discrimination.
The municipality rejected the Muslim for a job as client manager at the Social Services department because he refused to shake hands with women. The judges ruled that Rotterdam had the right to do so.
Ali Enait, who regularly appears on talk shows, also wants women to wear burqas. But on the home page of Jairam Advocaten, two porn stars posed as its secretaries. Although wearing clothes, they were identified by news website Geenstijl.nl as well-known ‘adult entertainment’ models Anetta Keys and Rahilla.
Based on cache data, Geenstijl.nl established that the pictures had already been on the website since 2005. They therefore seem to have been deliberately picked by the ‘sharia lawyers’.
Jairam Advocaten removed the porn actresses’ portraits from its website yesterday, replacing them with a picture of what appears to be its office. This time Geenstijl.nl discovered that the picture chosen was a prestigious office building in Rotterdam. In reality, Jairam Advocaten is located in a shabby building in Amsterdam.
Swedish Bank Probed Over Muslim Names Ban
Sweden’s anti-discrimination agency said Tuesday it was investigating a Swedish bank that blocks customers with certain foreign names from using routine banking services.
Ahmad Waizy reported his bank, Skandiabanken, to the Ombudsman against Ethnic Discrimination (DO) in late July, accusing it of racial discrimination, according to a copy of his complaint obtained by AFP.
He tried to pay a bill and transfer money to Germany online but was unable to complete the transaction.
Skandiabanken told him “it was because of my first name (Ahmad), and they said there were other names also on the blacklist,” he said.
At the bank’s suggestion, he removed his first name and the transaction went through.
DO, a government agency that identifies ethnic and religious discrimination, said it was investigating the complaint and had given the bank until September 3 to respond to a series of questions.
Skandiabanken spokeswoman Lena Hoek told Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet the bank merely checked names against the European Union’s list of suspected terrorists drawn up after the September 11 attacks in the United States.
Among the names on the list were names such as Ahmad, Mohammed, and Hussein, as well as Jose Maria and James, the paper pointed out.
“Like all other banks we have to follow the list. We are required to by law,” Hoek said, saying Skandiabanken welcomed a probe into its practices in order to clarify procedures.
Switzerland Denies Desire for Bin Laden Talks
Switzerland said on Tuesday there was “no question” of talks with the world’s most wanted man Osama bin Laden, after the Swiss foreign minister on Monday questioned what limits should be put on international diplomacy.
The Swiss Foreign Ministry (FDFA) said in a statement on its website that “in practice there is no question of the FDFA proposing a dialogue with Osama Bin Laden.”
Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey “did not state that she would promote such a dialogue, nor has she proposed such a dialogue,” the statement added.
In her speech on Monday to 170 assembled Swiss ambassadors in Bern, Calmy-Rey said they needed to talk to “heavyweight political figures” on the world stage even if they are considered persona non grata by other powers.
“It is important to get away from a Manichean view of the world in black and white, where peoples and countries can only be allies or enemies,” she said.
UK: One in Seven Children Growing Up in Households Where No-One Works
Six million Britons are living in homes where no one has a job, shocking official figures revealed yesterday. They include almost 1.8million children, one in seven of all under 16s, growing up in households entirely dependent on state handouts. Experts say these youngsters are more at risk from drifting into a life of joblessness, poverty, ill-health and crime.
This army of families on welfare — costing taxpayers nearly £13billion a year in benefits — has been untouched by a decade of Labour’s efforts to get them into work, critics claim. In total, the number of homes where no one works has risen by 43,000 in the past five years to a shade over three million — nearly one in six of all UK working-age households. […]
Mr Brown has hailed Labour’s New Deal schemes and other welfare-to-work programmes as a success, claiming they have helped 1.8million people find jobs. However, a damning report by an influential Commons committee earlier this year, found that the Government still cannot say how many benefit claimants are jobless because they cannot work, and how many because they will not work. […]
The most spectacular failure was the New Deal for Partners, aimed at finding jobs for the domestic partners of long-term benefits claimants. In 2006, it found jobs for only 61 people at a cost to the taxpayer of £1,100 each. […]
War Crimes Trial Underway
A 41-year-old Bosnian who’s now a Norwegian citizen pleaded not guilty in Oslo on Wednesday to charges that he tortured and raped civilian Serbs during the war in Bosnia-Hercegovina.
Many of the defendant’s alleged offenses were carried out at this prison camp in Capljina south of Mostar.
The man later came as a refugee to Norway and now is at the center of the country’s first war crimes trial since World War II.
The 41-year-old, who in accordance with local press practice isn’t expected to be publicly identified until a verdict is reached, is charged with serious abuse of 18 civilian Serbs in the early 1990s, including the rape of a Serbian woman after he raided her home 1992.
She couldn’t endure the trauma of testifying during the trial, however, and hasn’t traveled to Norway. Other alleged victims of the defendant are expected to testify, also via video links.
The charges against the 41-year-old are detailed in a seven-page indictment. Much of the alleged torture is believed to have taken place at the prison camp Dretelj south of Mostar.
Algeria: End of Ethyl Alcohol Monopoly, No to Beverages
(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, AUGUST 18 — The Algerian Finance Ministry specified in a statement that the new complementary 2008 budget has liberalised the import and sale of ethyl alcohol “to guarantee the supply with pure alcohol for industrial and pharmaceutical purposes”. There is no change — as the new regulation seemed to hint — in the import of alcoholic beverages like beer or wine, the Algerian media pointed out. The ban to import alcoholic beverages was approved by the Parliament in 2004 although it has never been strictly applied and products from various foreign countries are present on the Algerian market. The Islamic parties such as the Movement of Society for Peace (MSP, former Hamas) have been fighting for the banning of alcohol production and consumption in Algeria. (ANSAmed).
Algerian Town Rocked by Car Bombs
Two car bombs have rocked a hotel and a military headquarters in the Algerian town of Bouira, killing 11 people a day after a suicide bombing in a neighbouring region killed 43, official media and witnesses said. The first bomb targeted Bouira’s regional military command and injured four soldiers, the state-run APS news agency said.
A minute later, 11 people died and 27 were wounded when a second bomb went off next to a hotel in downtown Bouira, APS and the state-run national radio said. A security official in the Bouira area told The Associated Press that nearly all the victims were civilians. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t allowed to discuss such matters with the media. […]
Some 27 miles to the north of Bouira in the adjacent Boumerdes province, a suicide bomber on Tuesday rammed a car into a line of applicants at a police academy in the town of Les Issers, killing at least 43 people and injuring 45.
Tourism: Oil Dollars Flood Paris and Rescue Season
(by Antonella Tarquini) (ANSAmed) — PARIS, AUGUST 27 — Oil dollars are flooding Paris, and are rescuing the tourist season of Ville Lumiere struck by a heavy decline (down 20.1% in terms of hotel overnight stays) in American tourists, in addition to, by a smaller rate, Japanese ones (down 8.1%). In the first half of the year the presence of rich tourists coming from the wealthy Gulf monarchies — like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia — rose by 14% compared to the same period of 2007, and by 23.7% in terms of overnight stays in hotels, the director of the Paris tourism office, Paul Roll, said, showing his contentment. And it is well known that this clientele does not stay in the small two and three-star hotels, and not even in the four-star ones: luxury is and remains their codeword, and luxury are the shops where the Middle Eastern ladies — designer sunglasses, and headscarf just put on the head, designer purses in hand — leave heaps of dollars. They enter Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Boucheron, as if they entered a supermarket, and go out with notably slimmer wallets and credit cards, in exchange for precious jewels. “The rich Gulf travellers are deserting the United States, which was their preferred destination before September 11, and are opting for Paris where they find the hotel quality and the luxury they are searching for,” Roll explains. The new clientele, very demanding and with habits differing from the Western, has caused a small revolution in the management of the hotels: many, for example, like Warwick on the Champs Elysees, have delayed the time for serving breakfast. “They go to sleep and get up very late, and for this reason we have set extra shifts of the staff,” an official of the Fouquet’s hotel, opened two years ago nearby the cafeteria bearing the same name, which is the stronghold of cinematographers, explains. Many of the restaurants in the capital are also fitting into the Arab schedules and customs. This is how Monte Cristo offers to its customers narghile and certain discos on rue de Washington play Arab music. Several dozens of metres away Elysee Biarritz, a private cinema, organised for the second summer in a row a festival of Arab films with extraordinary prices: 20 euro (compared to 9.0 euro in regular cinemas) for a show and also offers private showings in the middle of the night at a price of 5,000 euro. And often even much more. “We show films still unreleased in the Middle East and since in Saudi Arabia cinemas are forbidden our customers do not mind the expenses,” said Hugues Piketty, the director of Elysee Biarritz. Recently, a Saudi prince spent 15,000 euro to see an Egyptian film which had not been included in the programme. “We had to bring a specialist from Egypt with the film for the VIP showing for the prince at 3am,” Piketty said. Unfortunately, the prince did not say whether he liked the film. (ANSAmed).
Tunisia: Women’s Rights, Unique Case in Arab-Muslim World
(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, AUGUST 26 — The Tunisian woman, especially after the coming into effect a few years ago of the Personal Status Code which established the equality of men and women, is a case ruled unique in the Arab-Muslim world. Among the numerous regulations in the Code, those which abolish the polygamy, repeal the forced marriage (on the part of the parents or relatives in general), legalise the divorce, recognise the right of children in case of divorce, and so on, are worth mentioning. And all this given the fact that, especially in the medium-low class of the population, the old mentality of the father-family head exists and stubbornly resists, especially in rural areas and in the southern part of the country in general. Another fact is that the Code is constantly being updated in order to follow the development of the modern society. And thus this year it was subject to two new amendments: the first refers to the right of women to receive the conjugal residence in case of divorce if they have little children (and it is guaranteed in terms envisaged by the law); the second one refers to imprisoned mothers who can dispose of specifically expanded room in order to take care of children at tender age. Statistics show that in the period between 2000 and 2007 women represented a total 25.3% of the active population. Women accounted for 29% of magistrates, for 31% of lawyers, for 6.3% of directors general in the public administration and for 15.2% of the managers in the same sector. The average presence in the sector stands at 40%, the percentage of heads of companies and the percentage of admittance to professional training courses at the National School of Administration is the same. It is finally worth reminding that the Tunisian legislation has introduced amendments to the Tunisian Code of the Obligations and Contracts in order to guarantee the rights and the role of employees both as women and mothers. (ANSAmed).
Dangerous Talks With Syria
Uzi Dayan and Jonathan Spyer
The current indirect talks between Israel and Syria are highly unlikely to result in a peace agreement. The talks, far from playing any positive role for Israel, are mistaken both in terms of our values and in terms of our practical interest. They are being conducted by an irresponsible government with no public mandate, and are already causing real harm. We should be working to isolate the Syrian regime, not rehabilitating it.
From the point of view of values, the government’s approach is fundamentally mistaken. The Golan Heights were taken in a just war in 1967, a war which was provoked by an extremist and reckless Ba’athist regime in Damascus. Our presence is both legal and essential. The Golan Heights must be retained under Israeli sovereignty.
The Syrian regime preached the destruction of Israel, and was directly responsible for the deterioration which made the 1967 war inevitable. There is no moral content to the claim by the same regime that its “rights” were violated by defeat in a war which it had actively sought. Independent Syria controlled the Golan Heights for exactly 21 years. Its borders are based not on some ancient patrimony, but rather on the division of the Ottoman Empire by the Western powers after 1918. Syrian rhetoric regarding its connection to this area lacks all content.
Since the indirect talks with Syria are taking place in Turkey, it is worthwhile comparing our willingness to part with the Golan with Turkey’s attitude to a parallel border dispute with Syria…
Mus’ab Hassan Yousef, Son of a West Bank Hamas Leader: Atrocities Committed by Hamas Led Me to Convert to Christianity
Golf: Tiger Woods Presents Super Exclusive Complex in Dubai
(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, AUGUST 26 — An exclusive residential complex dedicated to the golf enthusiasts. This is the plan presented by Tiger Woods, the world’s richest golf player, who has personally designed the course, the soul and the philosophy around which the entire project is developed. “To be a part of this has been a lifelong dream of mine. I want this to be an oasis, an escape from the city,” the winner of the 2008 U.S. Open said. An escape that very few will be able to dream of. The plan envisages the construction of 22 palaces, 75 mansions and 100 signature villas with private parks and prices ranging between 7.5 and 30 million euro. On a surface almost four times the size of London’s Hyde Park, the exclusive community will also include golf academy, clubhouse and wellness centre. For all guests and tourists, a 100-million-euro hotel complex will offer 90 suites and 14 bungalows, each with its private garden. Tiger Woods Dubai (TWD) to be built by Tatweer, is taking shape in the heart of Dubailand, the area that is scene of the development of numerous huge amusement projects. It will be completed by 2009, according to the builders. (ANSAmed).
Holy Sinod Meeting Sparks Debate in Turkey
(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, AUGUST 26 — A former Turkish mayor sought to block the meeting of the Holy Synod Assembly of the Fener Greek Patriarchate in Istanbul claiming that the meeting violated the Lausanne Treaty while the Patriarchate claims that the Synod does not have legal personality to be bound by the treaty, daily Hurriyet writes. Tahsin Salihoglu, former mayor of Istanbul’s Avcilar district and president of the Solidarity Association of Western Thrace, petitioned the Istanbul Governor’s office and demanded the Fener Greek Patriarchate block the meeting claiming the Holy Synod violated the 1923 Lausanne Treaty as it contained non-Turkish members. “According to the Lausanne Treaty, the founding document of modern Turkey, all the Holy Synod Assembly members have to be Turkish”, Salihoglu said, adding that “if the foreign members of the assembly attend the meeting in Istanbul the Lausanne Treaty would be violated”. “We have the right to invite any members to the Holy Synod meeting as the Synod does not have a legal status and personality to be recognized by Turkey”, the Greek Patriarcate said in a statement. The Holy Synod Assembly of the Fener Greek Patriarchate convened in 2004 for the first time since 1923 with foreign members. Fierce debates have been made every year ahead of the Holy Synod Assembly meetings in Istanbul since that time. (ANSAmed).
Kuwait: Parliament Divided on Women Ministers’ Veil
(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, AUGUST 27 — It is not only the economic reforms promised during the electoral campaign or the alleged illegalities carried out in the construction of the fourth oil hub which are dividing the Parliament of Kuwait: it is also the issue whether the women Ministers are obliged or not to wear the traditional long dress with the veil in the Parliament hall. The MPs of the Islamic block, which represent the majority in the National Assembly, want to force Nuraya Al Sabih, Education Minister, and Moudhi Al Homoud, House Minister, to wear the hijab, “in respect of the Islamic dictates”. Clarifying that the request “is not a matter of extremism”, MP Mohammad al Kandari insisted today from the pages of daily Kuwait Times that “according to Islam and according to Kuwait’s traditions, women must wear the hijab”. The other section of the Parliament answered that “in a democracy such as Kuwait, the hijab cannot be imposed”. “It is a matter between women and God”, MP Saleh Al Mullah pointed out. The criticism of the Islamic majority targeted Minister Al-Sabieh since the first day when she entered the hall, wearing a two-piece suit and no veil, in April 2007. At the time, the president of the Parliament had supported the Minister, saying that the regulation of the Assembly does not explicitly mention the obligation to wear the veil. The controversy, however, is still raging. The women of the oil Emirate became protagonists of the political life with full rights in 2005, with the clause that they comply with the dictates of the Islamic law. This indication, however, does not specify which behaviours are acceptable and which are considered disrespectful or improper. (ANSAmed).
Lebanon Issues Arrest Warrant Against Khadafi
Lebanon has issued an arrest warrant against Libyan leader Muamar Khadafi in connection with the disappearance of one of the most prominent spiritual leaders of Lebanon’s Shiite community 30 years ago.
Imam Mussa Sadr, founder of the Shiite Amal movement, disappeared along with two companions during a visit to Libya. Libya has always maintained that the three left the country and travelled to Italy. An arrest warrant has also been issued for six other Libyan suspects charged with taking part in the alleged abduction.
Hamas First to Recognize Russia’s Ossetia Annexation
(IsraelNN.com) The revolutionary government of Hamas in Gaza is the first entity in the world to recognize the annexation of separatist areas in southern Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Hamas announced that the Russian move has its backing.
Alleged Mata Hari of Al Qaeda Could Provide ‘Treasure Trove’ of Intelligence
When she was arrested in Afghanistan last month, Aafia Siddique allegedly had in her possession maps of New York, a list of potential targets that included the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, the subway system and the animal disease center on Plum Island, detailed chemical, biological and radiological weapon information that has been seen only in a handful of terrorist cases, as well as a thumb drive packed with emails, ABC News has learned.
That haul of information has led multiple government sources to describe Siddique, a 36 year-old MIT graduate, as a potential “treasure trove” of information on terrorist supporters, sympathizers or ‘sleepers’ in the United States and overseas. “She is the most significant capture in five years,” said former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who said she lives up to her reputation as an alleged terrorist ‘Mata Hari.’
And there is an eagerness to see what, if anything, she can add to the thin trickle of fresh information on the activities of terrorists and terrorist supporters in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as what if any risk she might pose to national security.
Only a “handful” of captured alleged Al Qaeda associates have had the kind of detailed information on weapons of mass destruction that Siddique, who attended MIT as an undergraduate and earned her PhD in neuroscience at Brandeis, had in her handbag, multiple current and former US intelligence and law enforcement officials told ABC News.
“She is a very dangerous person, no doubt about it,” said a senior US counter terrorism official. “This is a major haul, a major capture for the FBI,” said Kiriakou. “To find someone who has such rich information, computer hard drives, e-mails, that is really a major capture.”
US authorities are analyzing Siddique’s saliva, hair, and fingernail scrapings to determine, if possible, what evidence they can find of any exposure to chemical, biological or radiological materials with potential use in weapons of mass destruction, sources said.
“Her education troubled us. We know that she’s extremely bright. She’s radicalized. We knew that she had been planning, or at least involved in the planning, of a wide variety of different operations, whether they involved weapons of mass destruction or research into chemical or biological weapons, whether it was a possible attempt on the life of the President,” said Kiriakou. “We knew that she was involved with a great deal and we had to bring her into custody.”
Army Takes Over Other Parts of Kashmir
CRPF [Central Reserve Police Force] is in total command in Srinagar and army in other towns. With a strictly enforced curfew, use of excessive force, very tight security arrangements and arrest of senior separatist leaders, the state government today thwarted the Coordination Committee (CC) sponsored march to Lal Chowk.
However, there were widespread protests as curfew was defied at a number of places and marches taken out. Security forces and police opened fire, lobbed smoke shells and resorted to cane charge killing five persons and injuring 140 others.
Official reports put the death toll at seven. Police and security forces arrested Syed Ali Shah Geelani, chairman Hurriyat Conference (G) and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman Hurriyat (M) from their respective residences last night.
Another senior leader Mohammad Yasin Malik, chairman JKLF [Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front], was arrested after he defied curfew at Maisuma and started marching towards Lal Chowk along with his supporters. Some other leaders were also arrested and raids were being conducted to nab those, evading arrest.
Border Villages Rise Up Against Taliban
“We are trend-setters. Others are following us,” boasts Rauf Khan, mayor of Pakistan’s Buner district, where villagers killed six militants in the Dara Shalbandi area on Aug. 14. In some parts of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), people are enlisting in anti-Taliban squads to take on the extremists who are blamed for a spate of abductions and arson attacks on girls’ schools, rural clinics and cyber cafes.
Rauf Khan is leading the village defence squads in Buner, a small valley between Peshawar and Swat. On Aug. 8, the Taliban had attacked the Pir Baba police station in Buner and killed nine policemen. The village defence squad retaliated with indiscriminate firing that resulted in the deaths of eight militants, including Kamran Khan, the so-called chief of the Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in adjacent Mardan district.
“Villagers had asked the militants to surrender before they laid siege,” Khan told IPS. “But the militants requested safe passage. That was denied. Then the militants threw a hand-grenade in the direction of the villagers to break the siege,” he recounts. […]
Initially the local people — ethnic Pakhtoon or Pashtun cousins of the Afghan Taliban — welcomed the guests from across the border. But in 2005, the U.S., in the pursuit of its so-called ‘war on terror’ on militant Islam, began putting pressure on the Pakistan government to evict the outsiders, and FATA became a battleground for the military.
The following year the U.S. launched unmanned drone attacks on North and South Waziristan, forcing thousands to flee their villages. The Taliban capitalised on the strong anti-U.S. sentiment to challenge the Pakistan military.
Fear of intensifying military action in Swat and neighbouring Bajaur Agency, FATA, have triggered the current backlash against the Islamic fighters. “We are seeing the writing on the wall. If we don’t prevent the Taliban at this stage, there is every possibility the military would launch an operation and the 11million population would be migrating in a state of helplessness to safer areas,” says Rauf Khan.
On Aug. 15, a jirga (assembly) of elected councillors in Mardan district (NWFP) decided to set up anti-Taliban squads on the Buner model. “The Taliban had already bombed about a dozen girls’ schools besides bombing 50 CD shops and attacking police stations,” says Shakoor Khan of Bakhshali locality who participated in the jirga. “Before the Taliban resorts to torching more schools, we have decided to resist them,” he told IPS. […]
Islamic Party to Protest Avril Lavigne Concert
Malaysia’s conservative Islamic party has said it will mount protests at Canadian rocker Avril Lavigne’s concert here on Friday, after failing to have it banned. The concert is an insult to Islam as the fasting month of Ramadan is due to start just a few days later, said Mr Nasrudin Hassan of the Pan Malaysian Islamic Party PAS. […]
Last year, US singer Beyonce scrapped a planned concert in Malaysia due to fears of protests, when Gwen Stefani went ahead with a performance but was forced to cover up after complaints about her outfits.
It is Time for Bengal Communists to Return Illegally Snatched Land From Poor Farmers
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Monday rejected West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s fresh offer of talks to end the Singur deadlock and stuck to her demand that 400 acres be returned immediately to farmers.
It is time for them to first return the land they snatched with force from these poor farmers, the vibrant anti-communist Bengal leader said. The Tatas thought like the oligarchs from Marwar, they could bribe the communists and do anything they like in West Bengal. If Marwar oligarchs can do it, why can’t the Farsi oligarchs? The fact of the matter is the communists of Bengal are ready to deal with any one who can supply them the money they waste in keeping cadres and incompetent Government employees. […]
Threatening to intensify the indefinite dharna launched since Sunday to other parts of the state, Banerjee said, “We are ready to join a discussion, but land should be returned first.”
Kashmir Keeps Burning as Manmohan Singh’s Failed Policies Backfires
Kashmir is slowly and steadily going out of hand as Indian Government cannot bring reconciliation between the Hindus and Muslims in Jammu. Indefinite curfew was imposed in Kashmir today to stop the Coordination Committee (CC) sponsored march towards Lal Chowk tomorrow.
Several separatist leaders were arrested and others placed under house arrest. One person Ghulam Qadir Hakim was killed and his son Mohammad Yaqub critically injured when CRPF opened fire at Dalgate here. The local people said the incident occurred when the deceased and his son were moving in their area to get some milk and bread.
While curfew continued for the second consecutive day today in violence-hit Poonch town, situation remained tense in the entire town with more incidents of violence being reported. A total of seven shops, two houses and at least ten vehicles of both the communities were either completely damaged or set on fire in fresh clashes between the members of both communities at Painch and Khanetar villages. […]
Malaysia Wants 25,600 Aceh Tsunami Refugees to Go
Malaysia has ordered more than 25,000 refugees who fled Indonesia’s Aceh province after the 2004 Asian tsunami to leave by early January, an official said Tuesday. Authorities will deport any Acehnese migrants who remain illegally in Malaysia beyond Jan. 5, said Ishak Mohamed, enforcement director of the Immigration Department.
About 40,000 people from Aceh came to neighboring Malaysia after a giant quake off their province spawned the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed more than 130,000 people in Indonesia alone. “We allowed them to work here (for humanitarian reasons) because we are helping them to earn money for their families to rebuild their homes,” Ishak said. […]
Malaysia’s government has been trying to reduce its reliance on migrant workers amid concerns that they contribute to crime and unemployment among Malaysians. Authorities earlier this month launched a crackdown to expel more than 130,000 mostly Indonesian and Filipino illegal immigrants in an eastern state on Borneo island. […]
New Afghanistan Weapon Criticised
Amnesty International has criticised the military for its purchase of a new shell that indiscriminately distributes small spikes upon impact
Danish Defence has purchased a new shell that releases 1100 small spikes upon impact for use in the Afghanistan War, reports public broadcaster DR.
The shell is fired from an 84mm hydraulic canon and is primarily used against human targets. The spikes distribute at a radius of 10-12 metres and travel at 300 metres per second.
Human rights organisation Amnesty International calls the purchase irresponsible and claims the weapon has caused many civilian deaths in Gaza and Lebanon from its use by the Israeli army.
‘This is an imprecise weapon that strikes randomly and thereby increases the risk of killing civilians,’ said Lars Norman Jørgensen, Amnesty’s secretary-general.
But Danish Defence says the weapon is necessary for the army’s intense battles with the Taleban in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. Lars Møller, head of the army’s combat training centre, added that the weapon will be used only in sparsely-populated corn fields where the Taleban commonly hides.
‘The fighting takes place out in the countryside. It would be completely idiotic to use this kind of weapon in the cities,’ said Møller.
‘Obviously if we use it in a marketplace or bazaar we’d hit civilians — we’ve managed to figure that out ourselves.’
Night Life in Jakarta Limited During Ramadan
Operating hours for tourism establishments will be subject to several restrictions during Ramadan, the head of Jakarta’s tourism agency announced Tuesday.
Tourism spots — including night clubs, spas, massage parlors, video game centers, bars, billiard halls, karaoke and live music lounges — must cease operations on the following days: the day before the fasting month begins, the first day of Ramadan, the tenth night before Idul Fitri, the day before Idul Fitri, throughout the two days of Idul Fitri and one day after Idul Fitri ends.
“The regulation also covers businesses managed by starred hotels,” head of the city tourism agency Arie Budhiman said in a statement released Tuesday. […] Those who violate the regulation face up to three months in prison and/or a maximum fine of Rp 5 million (US$549).
Orissa: Burning and Looting Continues, Christians Beaten and Cut to Pieces
by Nirmala Carvalho
Vikram Nayak was killed, and then cut to pieces. Two Christians die two days after suffering serious injuries. Unrest by radical Hindus continues as police is ordered to shoot on sight those who break the curfew. Two nuns who were attacked tell their stories; Catholic schools to close for a day; the faithful are called to observe a day of prayer and fasting.
Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) — Burning, looting, manhunts and violence against women continue today in the state of Orissa as the curfew imposed by the government is expanded from the district of Kadhamal to other cities. Police are ordered to shoot on sight.
Only now the death of a Catholic man in the village of Tiangia has come to light. After he was killed Vikram Nayak he was cut to pieces. Two other people close to him were so seriously beaten up and hurt that they died two days later.
The murder took place last Sunday evening at the end of the funerals of radical Hindu leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati whose assassination was blamed on Christians.
Christian homes in Tiangia were torched and families forced to flee into the forests. They were however pursued and attacked by extremists.
Sister Karuna, a nun with the order of the Precious Blood, was one of the first to be hit. Speaking to AsiaNews, she confirmed that “burning and looting were continuing this morning. Women are being molested and brutalised and extremists are doing what they want with them.”
Sister M. Suma, from the Sisters of Mother Teresa, said that ‘Christian villages are being razed to the ground. Terrified, Carmelite nuns have had to flee their convent to find shelter in the woods.”
Rumours that extremists from other states are coming to Orissa to help local radicals have also been confirmed. Hindu supremacists from Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra have converging in the district of Kandhamal.
Some Protestant Christians have said the government of the state of Chhattisgarh is helping paramilitary groups to reach Orissa to attack Christians.
Attacks continue in spite of the curfew and the presence of anti-riot units. Police yesterday killed four radical Hindus as hundreds of others attacked the village of Barakhama. Law enforcement agents can shoot on sight those who violate the curfew.
Fresh attacks and burning were reported in Baliguda, Udaygiri and Raikia.
Orissa’s government has come under criticism by Indian political leaders and leading public figures for being slow in enforcing law and order.
Some people suspect that it wants to cover up the violence perpetrated by Hindu extremists. On the day violence first broke out with looting, killing and fires, Home Secretary Tarunkanti Mishra told journalists the demonstrations organised by the Sangh Parivar after Swami Laxmanananda’s death were “almost entirely peaceful.”
Sangh Parivar is an umbrella group of Hindu nationalist associations, including paramilitary groups linked to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Sr M Suma, from the Missionaries of Charity, appealed to AsiaNews. “Please, let the whole world that we should love one another—we are al children of the same Father.”
Elsewhere male and female missionaries of Charity have had stone thrown at them; one of their orphanages and one of their hospitals have been damaged. The same has happened to the vehicles they use to transport the sick and ill.
In light of the situation Catholic schools across India have decided to close down next Friday as a protest against the anti-Christian violence in Orissa. For that day the Indian Church is planning a day of prayer and fasting in solidarity with Orissa’s persecuted Christians.
Population Decline — Enter the Matchmaker
After failing to induce young people to marry early and raise families with tax breaks and ‘baby bonus’ schemes, the government appears ready to fall back on the matchmaker to give the stork a chance. The government’s concern was reflected in the fact that Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spent more than 30 minutes of his two-hour long National Day (Aug 9) televised speech encouraging young educated Singaporeans to marry early, and even set parenthood before careers.
Lee, who seemed to be targeting young career-minded Singaporean women, referred to a recent conversation he had with two Indian women migrants. Lee said they expressed satisfaction with the marriages arranged for them by their parents and that, for them, love blossomed post-marriage.
In the Mandarin version of his speech, directed at the majority Chinese community, Lee pointed out that arranged marriages were now being encouraged by the Chinese government. In Beijing, he said, thousands of parents go secretly to “Parental Matchmaking Sessions” to find suitable partners for their children. […]
Lee pointed out that the low total fertility rate (TFR) is especially acute for the Chinese community (that makes up about 70 percent of the population here) and stood at 1.14, which is almost half of the replacement level of 2.1.
“Many singles do want to get married” he noted. “They are serious, and not just out to have a good time. But they face difficulties because some have never dated, and once they start work and settle into a routine, there’s no opportunity to socialise and meet new people.” [….]
Statement of Imran Raza Regarding Release of American Children From Pakistani Taliban Madrassa
(Atlanta, GA) — Imran Raza, the director and executive producer of the documentary “Karachi Kids” who discovered up to 80 American children in a Taliban-backed madrassa in Pakistan released the following statement regarding the return of two American children to Atlanta:
I am grateful for the safe return of the two American children from Atlanta from a Taliban- backed madrassa but the mullah claims to have up to 78 more in his institution. The headmaster comes to the United States once a year and personally recruits American children to enroll in his madrassa.
The remaining 78 children must be returned to the United States. This pipeline to jihad must be closed.
Let me be clear — these children do not learn math, or science, or liberal arts. They learn one thing — they memorize over the course of seven years every verse of the Koran coupled with the radical interpretation of their teachers.
This is just the first step in integrating these children back to American society. I am proud we did our part so we could say “Welcome Home.”
It is imperative that Members of Congress and the State Department undertake an accounting of just how many Americans are in the other 20,000 madrassas in Pakistan. Hundreds remain behind.
The Karachi Kids is a documentary about American children in the Jamia Binoria madrassa in Karachi Pakistan. A trailer of the film is available at www.karachikids.com.
ASEAN Agrees Region to Have Nuclear Power Plants
The ASEAN working group on the establishment of nuclear power plants announced on Wednesday that the ten member countries* supported all current nuclear projects in the region. The working group head, Carunia Firdausy, in Jakarta on Wednesday said no ASEAN member country objected to the plans of Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam plans to establish nuclear power plants.
Firdausy explained that all nuclear power plant projects in the region were for peaceful purposes with the main aim of reducing the countries’ dependency on fossil fuel to generate electricity. Fossil fuel dependency is not only inefficient in terms of costs, it is also detrimental to the environment, he said.
The Indonesian government has set a modest target of four percent of the country’s total electricity supply to be generated by nuclear power plants in 2025, Firdausy said. […]
* Brunei Darussalam; Cambodia; Indonesia; Lao PDR; Malaysia; Myanmar; Philippines; Singapore; Thailand; Vietnam
Bank of China Denies Aiding Terrorists
A major state-owned Chinese bank on Wednesday denied accusations in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles that it transferred money to terrorist groups and said it would fight the case. “The accusation is absolutely groundless,” Bank of China Ltd. said in a statement. “Bank of China is prepared to fight the suit.”
The lawsuit filed last Thursday by victims of terrorism in Israel accused the bank of putting through dozens of wire transfers totaling several million dollars to Hamas and Islamic Jihad and ignoring Israeli demands to stop the practice. The lawsuit said the money helped to finance attacks between 2004 and 2007.
The Beijing-based bank “knowingly assisted Hamas and the Islamic Jihad,” the lawsuit alleged. […] The U.S. lawsuit says Israeli officials met with Chinese police and central bank officials in 2005 seeking action to prevent Bank of China from making more transfers but the practice continued.
Transfers for Hamas and Islamic Jihad were initiated in the Middle East, sent to branches in the U.S., then to an account at a bank branch in Guanzhou, China, the suit said. It said the money was then wired to group leaders in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. […]
OIC Secretary General Calls for Pacification of the Tense Situation in Southern Philippines
The Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, expressed his deep concern over the recent outbreak of hostilities in the Muslim region of Mindanao in southern Philippines, giving rise to a military standoff between the Philippine government military forces and elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The confrontations caused the death and injury of civilians.
The Secretary General condemned the illegitimate acts conducted by wayward elements affiliated with the MILF refusing to abide by the repeated appeals by the Front’s leadership to maintain calm, peace and restraint. He also called on the Philippine government to put an end to its military operations in the region which inflicted tremendous damage among civilians.
Likewise, Ihsanoglu expressed concern over reports that the Philippine government intends to freeze the memorandum agreement for ancestral domain which came about as a result of strenuous, long and sincere efforts by both sides. He stated that it is unfortunate to let undisciplined elements from the MILF determine the course of negotiations or halt the peace process.
The Secretary General urged the parties to the conflict to rapidly return to the negotiating table and continue working together in the same positive spirit that led to the conclusion of the agreement. The parties, he added, need to preserve and build upon the accomplishments so far achieved in a bid to reach the just and durable peace desired by all.
The Secretary General further stated that all friends of the Philippines, notably Malaysia, which has played a key role in facilitating the process towards the agreement had expressed the hope that the Philippine government and the MILF would persevere in their efforts to support peace and restore calm and stability in southern Philippines. He stressed that the parties ought to work out a swift settlement to the current crisis that threatens to thwart the peace process and refrain from giving extremist elements the opportunity to dictate their own agenda or determine the course of events.
Al Qaeda-Linked Shabab in Control of Southern Somalia
Just one and a half years after Ethiopian forces ejected the Islamic Courts Union from power in the failed state of Somalia, the country is poised for a takeover by a radical al Qaeda regional group. Shabab, an al Qaeda-linked terror group, has taken control of most of southern Somalia and portions of the central region, according to press reports from the troubled nation.
Late last week, Shabab fighters overran the strategic southern port city of Kismayo, Somalia’s second largest city. The capture of Kismayo capped a yearlong campaign by Shabab to retake territory lost to the Ethiopians in late 2006 and early 2007.
Shabab, the radical Islamist youth movement formed from the leadership and fighters of the ousted Islamic Courts, has teamed up with the powerful Hawiye clan to attack Ethiopian and Somali security forces. These attacks soon spread north, south, and west of Mogadishu. […]
The Kenyan border regions have been used to train Shabab and al Qaeda fighters and to launch attacks into the Shabelle and Jubba provinces. Much of Lower Shabelle and Upper and Lower Jubba are under control of Shabab.
Shabab’s campaign in western Somalia has endangered the Ethiopian Army’s long supply lines to Baidoa and Mogadishu. Tens of thousands of Ethiopian forces, along with several thousand African Union peacekeepers from Uganda and Burundi, are deployed in Mogadishu in an effort to quell the insurgency.
Shabab’s longtime links to al Qaeda
Shabab spokesman Sheikh Mukhtar Robow admitted the group is closely aligned to al Qaeda, and seeks to merge with the terror group. “We are negotiating how we can unite into one,” Robow said, according to The Los Angeles Times. “We will take our orders from Sheik Osama bin Laden because we are his students. Al Qaeda is the mother of the holy war in Somalia.”
But the senior leaders of Shabab have had long links to al Qaeda, and Shabab and its predecessor have been al Qaeda affiliates in all but name. Hassan Dahir Aweys, Aden Hashi Ayro, and Hassan Turki have trained in al Qaeda camps during the 1990s. Robow admitted this in his interview with The Los Angeles Times. “Most of our leaders were trained in Al Qaeda camps. We get our tactics and guidelines from them,” Robow said. “Many have spent time with Osama bin Laden.”
Turki, Sheikh Yusuf Indha’adde, and Sheikh Mukhtar Robow have appeared on al Qaeda propaganda tapes training and fighting with foreign fighters. Both Turki and Indha’adde admitted to foreign al Qaeda involvement in Somalia in the summer of 2006. […]
‘Pretoria Had to Fight Harder for Detainees’
By Hazel Memani
Two South African Muslim clerics have been detained by the Ugandan government on suspicion of being involved in terrorism.
IOL asked readers: “Should Pretoria have taken tougher action about the South Africans detained in Uganda?”
Of the 130 readers who responded to our poll, 52 percent (68 votes) said ‘Yes’, 18 percent (24 votes) said ‘No and 30 percent (39 votes) said ‘Who cares?’.
Hezbollah Presence in Venezuela Feared
Via Irish Spy and Jihad Watch, a detailed article reviewing information regular readers of this blog have known for a while, but it’s a good article:
Western anti-terrorism officials are increasingly concerned that Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Shiite Muslim militia that Washington has labeled a terrorist group, is using Venezuela as a base for operations…
Migrants: New Arrivals and Reception in Locride
With a boat intercepted by the Italian Revenue Guard corps off Calabria’s coasts, another 155 immigrants, including some thirty children, including newborns, and around 20 women, arrived in Roccella Ionica (Reggio Calabria, Southern Italy). This was the fifth, and most numerous, landing in Calabria since May. Among the new arrivals are entire families of Iraqi and Kurdish origin. Meals and medical visits were provided before transferring them all temporarily in port facilities. Based on first reports, the migrants travelled at sea for a week onboard a large fishing boat with Greek and Turkish flags, with the name cancelled but over all in fairly decent condition. “We are for reception and integration and certainly not barbed wire”, said the Mayor of nearby Riace, Domenico Lucano, yesterday morning, referring to the initiative of the mayor of Lampedusa, Bernardino De Rubeis, in announcing the will of the communes of Locride to welcome the new arrivals on the island. “Our message aims to go in the opposite direction of that of the mayor of Lampedusa, who considers immigration a mere problem of public order and proposes to set up barbed wire around the temporary centre. We, instead, are convinced that immigrants are a resource”, specified Lucano, adding: “The experience we have lived in Riace in these years demonstrates that immigrants are a resource that needs to be valorised. Over here, immigrants have contributed to revitalising our historic centre. We have set up a hostel type hotel, with work opportunities for the local youths. We have restored handcraft activities, also using the experiences offered by the immigrants”. For seven years Riace has been part of a network of communes linked to the protection service for asylum seekers and refugees. “I am not racist. Also I am convinced that immigrants are a resource for Italy, but I am contrary to what has now become a trade of human meat”, De Rubeis responded promptly. Lampedusa’s temporary reception centre, built to hold around 700 people, in the past days passed the 2,000 mark.
Morocco: Europe ‘Punishing the Victims’ of Illegal Immigration
Rabat, 27 August (AKI) — Security measures adopted by European countries against illegal immigration are misallocating funds and penalising the victims of illegal immigration, Moroccan activist Khalil Jammah told the Al-Jazeera satellite TV network late on Tuesday.
Jammah spoke about a recent incident in which African would-be illegal immigrants to Europe admitted dumping the bodies of 25 of their peers who died at sea.
“This is additional evidence to the failure of the security approach adopted by Europe as a solution to illegal immigration,” he said.
“Europe has slotted immense funds for this approach which could have paid the debts of the countries of the South.”
He is the head of Morocco’s Committee of Friends and Families of Victims of Illegal Immigration.
“There are no laws in the countries of the South that sufficiently protect the victims, many of whom are young people,” he stated.
The hundreds of would-be illegal immigrants who die each year during the perilous sea voyage to Europe are “a stigma for some of the South’s regimes and governments,” Jammah said.
“And we find the laws drafted in Europe, as well as the funds, are directed against the victims of immigration.”
“The security approach including the radars, the logistical means and the plans set by Europe are not directed towards the illegal immigration mafias,” he said.
He claimed Spain has publicised the illegal immigration issue excessively to receive European aid although it actually receives smaller boatloads of illegal migrants than other southern Mediterranean countries like Italy and Greece.
Sweden: Immigration to Pass Births by 2030
A new report by the Institute of Future Studies claims that the number of immigrants in Sweden will soon be double that of new births each year.
Sweden’s number of immigrants has risen annually by 3 percent since 1980 and if it continues at this rate as many as 200 000 people will immigrate annually to Sweden in 2030, twice the number of births estimated per year.
According to the report’s authors Professor Bo Malmberg and Charlotta Hedberg at Stockholm University, Sweden needs to rethink the way they view increasing numbers of immigrants. The authors believe that migration contributes to a better economy and better relations between countries in the long run.
Will Cross Adorn Coca-Cola Cans This Christmas?
The crescent moon and star — yes, the same symbol featured on the flags of so many Muslim countries — is an internationally-recognized symbol of the Islamic faith in much the same way as the cross represents Christianity and the star of David Judaism. When I learned the symbol of the Islamic faith will appear on Coca-Cola packaging during Ramadan 2008, I found myself wondering whether or not the Atlanta-based soft drink maker will soon include the Christian cross and Jewish star of David in future holiday packaging designs targeting people of those faiths.
The firm selected by Coca-Cola to help interpret its brand across a number of events is ATTIK, according according to Brand Republic. Notable among those events are Ramadan, a Muslim religious observance that runs from Sept. 1-30, and Christmas 2008. [Note: I’ve found no evidence that the company plans to focus any efforts on Hannukah or any other Jewish holiday.]
During Ramadan, the ATTIK design shown above will adorn packaging in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Morocco, Tunisia and other countries with a great many Muslims.
With hopes of finding out whether the Christian cross — instead of the penguins, polar bears and snow of recent years — will grace Coca-Cola packaging for Christmas 2008, I sent an e-mail to Roger Darnell at the firm’s San Francisco office at 11:52 a.m. (Central) today…
2008 Olympics: Why Intolerant Societies Can’t Jump by Louis Palme
The 2008 Olympics inspired and thrilled viewers all around the world. The “One World One Dream” theme was played out over and over as competing athletes treated one another with respect and admiration. For example, when the tanks of the Russian Federation invaded Georgia, their athlete representatives on the medal award stand gave each other a hug. That dispute had nothing to do with the Olympics!
On the other hand, some other countries displayed some very mixed responses to the Olympic games, as will be shown below. Just after the opening of the Olympics, the U.S. Congressional Research Service prepared a list of twenty-three countries who will not issue visas to foreign religious workers. As Congresswoman Sue Myrick (R-N.C.) said, “This gives us a better picture of what countries discriminate against us based on religion.” It is also a indisputable indicator of intolerance. The countries are: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bhutan, Brunei, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Maldives, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Yemen. With the exception of North Korea, all of these countries are Muslim.
So, how did these intolerant countries fare at the Olympics? The following compilation shows the leading “tolerant” countries, China, and the twenty-two “intolerant” Muslim countries listed above in terms of medals awarded per million citizens. To counter the argument that athletics is a middle-class pursuit and that medals are a function of per capita income, the list also includes Jamaica — one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, and Zimbabwe — one of the poorest countries in Africa.
“The intolerant 22”
To put the data above into perspective, if the United States had earned medals at the same proportional rate as “the intolerant 22,” the US would have earned just eleven medals. So what would explain the significantly poor showing of “the intolerant 22”? While individual athletes work hard to compete in international sports, their best efforts can be thwarted or even undone by the society around them. The remarks below, therefore, do not reflect on individual athletes but the climate under which some are forced to compete.
Pirate Attacks Up 75%; Nearly One Raid Per Day
Somewhere on the world’s waterways, a pirate will try to strike today. Another will tomorrow. And another the day after that. Piracy is on the rise, across the globe — up nearly 75%, from last decade to this one, according to a new report from the RAND Corporation. There’s now at least an attempt at a pirate attack nearly every day. […]
There were “a total of 2,463 actual or attempted acts of piracy were registered around the world between 2000 and the end of 2006. This represents an annual average incident rate of 352, a substantial increase over the mean of 209 recorded for the period of 1994—1999,” the report notes. “The concentration of pirate attacks continues to be greatest in Southeast Asia, especially in the waters around the Indonesian archipelago…. which accounted for roughly 25 percent of all global incidents during 2006.”
The post-9/11 environment has also made some shipping lanes more vulnerable. Since then, governments have been pressured to “to invest in expensive, land-based homeland security initiatives” — often ignoring maritime security, as a result. In addition: