Gates of Vienna News Feed 9/9/2008

CAIR Attempts to Sabotage Law Enforcement Terrorism Training
Editors’ Round Table on Sarah Palin: an Innocent Abroad
Getting Started With Palin Doll [Translated by VH]
Greeley Tribune in the Tank for the Somalis!
Tarring Sarah Palin
Muslims Fired Over Long Skirts, Tribunal Told
Europe and the EU
Biggest Newspaper Opens Fire on Turkish Mosque Organisation
Campaign Launched to Liberate ‘Speling’
France: XIX Arrondissement, the Most Violent in Paris
French Cabinet Row Over ‘Big Sister’ Database
Hijaz Muslim College in Birmingham UK is Running Sharia Law Court
More Babies Born in Switzerland
UK: The ‘How to be Happy’ Classes Coming to a School Near You
Middle East
In August Inflation Reached 27.6 Per Cent in Tehran
Iraq’s First Christian Militia Fights Al-Qaeda
Iraqi Christians Face New Persecution
Two Weeks on, No News of an Imprisoned Iranian Christian
Far East
North Korea’s Kim Jong Il May Have Had Stroke, Official Says
North Korea ‘Hired Taekwondo Killers’
Australia — Pacific
Sydney Suburb Denies Racism Against Muslims
Sub-Saharan Africa
Pirates Attack Norwegian Ship
Latin America
Venezuela Plays the Russia Card
All-Party Call for 20,000-a-Year Cap on Migrants Arriving in UK
Immigration: Spain; Almost 1 Million Immigrants in One Year
It Isn’t Racist to Want a Cap on Immigration
Italy Bears Brunt of Asylum Seekers
Culture Wars
Muslim Cabbies in Minn. Lose Round in Court
U.N. Thugs
Ibsen, Munch, Heyerdahl … and Now Magnus Carlsen
Scientists Receive Death Threats Over Big Bang Experiment From Critics Who Fear End of the World

Thanks to ACT, Amil Imani, Boudica, C. Cantoni, Fausta, Fjordman, Holger Danske, Insubria, JD, JEH, RRW, Srdja Trifkovic, Steen, TB, VH, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Details are below the fold.
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CAIR Attempts to Sabotage Law Enforcement Terrorism Training

by Jim Kouri, CPP — (The following is based on material obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police.)

The Council for American Islamic Relations has been trying in vain to stop a counter- terrorism program in Sarasota Florida, aimed at providing first responders with information on subjects such as building safety, suicide terrorism, technologies against terrorism and more.

This is part of CAIR’s program to stop Security Solutions International (SSI) — an organization that has trained more than 500 Federal, State and Local agencies since 2004.

SSI officials, CAIR attempted to stop a training program for cops and security personnel in Seattle last Memorial Day. Fortunately, they failed.

“As Americans, we can not allow the civil liberties of our great country to be exploited by groups that are intent on creating a fundamentalist Islamic regime here in the USA”, says Sol Bradman, CEO of Security Solutions International, the organizers of the Sarasota Sheriffs 3rd Annual Gulf Coast Terrorism conference being held in Sarasota from the 15th to the 19th of September for the benefit of Homeland Security professionals — coming from as far as Australia to attend what is being called the most innovative terrorism prevention conference in the USA.

           — Hat tip: Holger Danske [Return to headlines]

Editors’ Round Table on Sarah Palin: an Innocent Abroad

by Srdja Trifkovic

At Christmas a couple of years ago I was given a daily planner called The Worst Case Scenario Survival Calendar. It gives you advice on how to deal with seriously dire emergencies, like free-falling from 10,000 feet with a parachute that wouldn’t open, facing shark attack far from shore, being bitten by a cobra with no antidote on hand, or evading a roaring grizzly in the wilderness. The advice was tongue-in-cheek serious: based on real-life situations and special forces’ manuals, each daily snippet told you how to improve your chances of survival perhaps a hundredfold—from one-in-ten-thousand, say, to one-in-a-hundred. The booklet was fun: you don’t really believe that you’ll ever be in need of such advice, but you read on nevertheless, tickled with vivid images of horrors that happen to “others.”

The forthcoming general election is a Worst-Case Scenario Survival situation and it is happening to us. November 4 calls for the Guide approach. Let me come to the point and speak plainly.

When we look at this season’s four key names—Obama, McCain, Biden, Palin—we know what three of them signify…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic [Return to headlines]

Getting Started With Palin Doll [Translated by VH]

AMSTERDAM — Sarah Palin is just getting into the spotlight and is now already more popular than John McCain. There is even a doll of the Governor of Alaska.

Fans may want to buy both versions of the Palin doll: as a manager and as a Tomb Raider action figure, Het Nieuwsblad reports.

The last doll figure comes with a leather jacket, a short skirt and the dolll has a firearm with her.

Earlier this week in the United States the governor was already named a trendsetter when a run for her type of glasses arose.

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]

Greeley Tribune in the Tank for the Somalis!

Thanks to Patrick at VDARE here is part of the explanation about why the Tribune newspaper in Greeley, CO may be covering up the violence by Somalis at the Swift plant on Friday evening. The paper editorialized just a few months ago about how great the Somali refugees are for Greeley. What is that expression people use on the internet about rolling on the floor laughing—well that is me at the moment.

The Somalis, like refugees from varied backgrounds before them, have come to Greeley for the opportunities it offers. Their presence, however, is not just about opportunities for them, it is also an opportunity for all of us. It is an opportunity to grow and expand our world. The essential strength of America is the country’s ability to embrace the best of many cultures.

While the customs that come from half a world away can seem scary, they will — like the customs of the Russian-Germans a century ago — enrich our lives. The Somali, and other East African, refugees that represent Greeley’s first distinct immigration wave of the 21st century are fully documented, legal workers. They deserve all the opportunities they get.

And then this:

We are glad — and honored — that Greeley can give people who have survived so much an excellent place to live.

           — Hat tip: RRW [Return to headlines]

Tarring Sarah Palin

The left lost not a minute in tarring Sarah Palin after McCain selected her as his running mate. Of course they had to be careful—very careful. As hard as they worked, they couldn’t dig up anywhere near as much dirt on this outstanding self-made governor than they have all along covered up for their darling Obama.

What did they do? The cunning leftists are nothing if they are not devious and Machiavellian. It would have been a huge self-inflicted disaster if the men had led the offensive. So, true to form, these unscrupulous leftist cowards hid behind their women’s skirts and let them do their dirty work.

Women vilifying a woman, no matter how baseless and vicious the assaults may be are better tolerated than men doing the dishonorable thing—they are chalked to the nasty game of partisan politics. To the leftists, as is the case in war and love, all is also considered fair in politics…

           — Hat tip: Amil Imani [Return to headlines]


Muslims Fired Over Long Skirts, Tribunal Told

Women say garb posed no risk in UPS delivery plant

Nadifo Yusuf lost her job scanning and flipping boxes at the UPS package delivery plant near Jane St. because she refused to hike up her long skirt to her knees, a Canadian Human Rights tribunal has heard.

When Yusuf was hired as a temporary worker on Aug. 27, 2003, she was told not to wear loose clothing, jewellery or hair extensions that could get caught in machinery.

Each day for almost two years, Yusuf, 35, a devout Muslim, wore traditional garb to work — a hijab, headscarf and long loose-fitting skirt — she told a hearing before tribunal member Karen Jensen at a Dixon Rd. hotel yesterday.

Yusuf said she and seven other Muslim female workers always modified their wardrobe somewhat when they arrived at work, tucking in their hijabs and raising their skirts to mid-calf.

But around April 2005, because of a change to the collective bargaining agreement, Yusuf and the others were told their jobs were being changed to full-time unionized positions. So she and her Muslim co-workers applied for the full-time positions, according to an agreed statement of facts.

Yusuf said that was when she was told to hike her skirt to knee-length or face losing her job for safety reasons. Their duties included flipping packages on to a moving conveyor belt and climbing ladders or stairs to get to work stations.

In June 2005, she saw a letter posted near the punch-out cards, requiring women workers “to pull up their skirts.”

“I didn’t believe there was a problem. I was working there two years wearing the same clothes from day one,” she told the hearing, dressed in traditional garb.

Her supervisor told her she was a good worker and punctual, and she was given a reward of Tim Hortons and Wal-Mart coupons on four occasions “for a job well done.”

But Yusuf lost her job on July 13, 2005. The other Muslim women were also let go.

They filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission alleging that UPS discriminated against them on the basis of religion and gender.

Yusuf, who made $9.10 an hour, told the hearing she felt like UPS was “using” her.

“They throw me out like garbage on the street,” she said, covered head to toe in Muslim dress and at times close to fainting, as she testified on the eighth day of Ramadan that requires fasting from dawn until dusk.

“I was working two years and I became unsafe?” she told the tribunal.

Six of the eight women, all of whom sat through the hearing yesterday, provided

           — Hat tip: JEH [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Biggest Newspaper Opens Fire on Turkish Mosque Organisation

The Party for Freedom (PVV) is demanding a ban on Turkish mosque organisation Milli Gorus. The opposition party was reacting to an extensive article in newspaper De Telegraaf, which has obtained access to an alarming report of the Dutch intelligence services.

De Telegraaf obtained a “secret analysis by a Regional Intelligence Service, which is also in the possession of the AIVD” secret service. “In the presentation, the links between Milli Gorus and extremists and financiers of terrorism were exposed. The spider in the web is (…) the German leader Ibrahim El-Zayat, who is said to be a representative of the ultra-orthodox Muslim Brotherhood and closely involved with the appointment of Dutch kingpins,” writes the Netherlands’ biggest newspaper.

De Telegraaf says the intelligence services link Milli Gorus with all kinds of radical groups, from Hamas to Al Qaida. Milli Gorus governs some hundred associations and foundations in the Netherlands, including dozens of mosques. It is also the driving force behind the much-discussed Wester Mosque project in Amsterdam, one of the biggest mosques in Europe, which received subsidies from Mayor Job Cohen.

De Telegraaf was earlier considered right-wing, but has been quite moderate in recent years. For example, it did not support the rise of Pim Fortuyn. However, in recent months, a sharper rightwing tone appears to have emerged and some sources say the direction has shifted since the death last year of its political chief editor Kees Lunshof. He liked to maintain good contacts with the mainstream parties.

De Telegraaf often chose and chooses the conservatives (VVD) for reactions to journalistic revelations. But its full-page attack on Milli Gorus is combined with a reaction by Geert Wilders’ PVV. “The PVV urges a ban on the Turkish movement and speedy closure of dozens of affiliated mosques now that security services appear to have linked the organisation with financiers of terrorism and extremism,” according to the paper.

PVV MP Hero Brinkman has called Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin to the Lower House for an interlocutory debate: “What we have been saying for years has now emerged through De Telegraaf. We must resist here. I want Milli Gorus put on the list of banned organisations and that all affiliated mosques close their doors,” Brinkman was quoted as saying.

The intelligence service analysis is remarkable, “as Milli Gorus has for years been praised in the Netherlands as a moderate movement,” De Telegraaf comments. The organisation indicated in a reaction that it is “unconcerned” about the secret presentation. “Let them just come up with evidence,” says Yusuf Altyuntas, chairman of the Milli Gorus Netherlands Federation.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Campaign Launched to Liberate ‘Speling’

‘One reason for problems with literacy is the burden spelling places on children’

The president of the United Kingdom’s Spelling Society is using this week’s society dinner to call for a liberation of the spelling of English words, opining that children are being hindered in their education because they must memorize irregular spellings.

The plan is being proposed by John Wells, emeritus professor of phonetics at University College London, according to a report in the London Times.

“The teaching of literacy in schools is a major worry,” he said. “It seems highly likely that one of the reasons Britain and other English-speaking countries have problems with literacy is because of our spelling and the burden it places on children.”

An accompanying commentary by Libby Purves, in the same newspaper, however, challenged the idea. “Preposturos!” she wrote. “Words wud lose there meening.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

France: XIX Arrondissement, the Most Violent in Paris

(by Luana De Micco) (ANSAmed) — PARIS, SEPTEMBER 9 — Rue Mathis, Paris. At number 42 a young man of 23 of Algerian origin was found yesterday prostrated on the steps of a fast food restaurant, where he had tried to escape, his body riddled by bullets. This is the story of the ordinary delinquency in the northeastern part of the capital, the XIX arrondissement, one of the largest and most populated which leads the statistics of violence in Paris: the police counted here more than 18,500 crimes in 2007. More than the nearby XVIII where a little less than 16,000 offences were registered. A trip in the district, a kind of a Parisian ‘Bronx’: big blocks of apartments, grocer’s, bazaars, kebab. Youngsters lean on the walls, at the foot of the barrack-like buildings, listening to rap music on their MP3 players. Here Arabs, black, Jews, white live on the same streets and go to the same bars. It is one of Paris’s most mixed districts, a Babel of colours and languages, but living together is not easy. Assaults, anti-Semitic racism, drug and cell phone trafficking, domestic violence, gang stories, settling the scores between rival gangs are actually on the agenda. Wearing a kippah could be dangerous here. Audrey, 21, said: ‘‘The Jews are watched every Saturday and are insulted all the way to the synagogue.’’ This is how XIX also is the most anti-Semitic district in Paris with 21 anti-Semitic acts and threats in 2007, according to the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France. After three young Jews were beaten three days ago and after Rudy, 23, was left in coma in a public park in June, again because he is Jewish, people in the district are beginning to fear. Yesterday Jewish institutions cried: ‘‘there is a true problem in this arrondissement where daily life is spoiled by insults and incivility,’’ the president of CRIF, Richard Prasquier, said. The Socialist mayor of the arrondissement, Roger Madec, tried first to play down the facts (‘‘after all, we can all live together’’, he said), then he informed that the number of policemen will be increased for the Jewish holidays of October. But if the XIX arrondissement, at the foothill of the park of Villette and the canal of Orcq, has become the ‘black sheep’ of the capital, it is also because it’s at the border with Seine-Saint-Denis, the most dangerous suburb, the department which hosts the most violent cities of France. From the big housing estates of Pantin, Aubervilliers, Saint-Denis, the pushers come to deal drugs between Stanligrad and the nearby districts of Goutte d’Or and Chateau Rouge. A police report, published in June, deemed the XIX arrondissement one of the ‘main supermarkets’ for the drug dealers of the Paris region. Crack, cocaine, marijuana and also ecstasy are sold at 5 euro in the discotheques: one out of six young Parisians said to smoke at least ten joints per month. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

French Cabinet Row Over ‘Big Sister’ Database

An embarrassing row has erupted within the French cabinet over a controversial “Big Sister” database in which the intelligence services will store details on millions of citizens, including their health, social life or sexual orientation.

Hervé Morin, the defence minister, broke ranks to join an army of associations, the main judges’ union, civil liberty groups, unionists and opposition figures all opposed to Edvige — the acronym for the computer system.

Edvige, also a woman’s Christian name, was created by decree in July to collect information on anyone aged 13 or above who is “likely to breach public order”.

But it can also list anyone in politics or trade unions or with a significant role in business, the media, entertainment or social or religious institutions.

“Surely this is a curious mix-up of categories,” said Mr Morin, a centrist party MP who joined President Nicolas Sarkozy’s “rainbow” cabinet last year.

“Is it useful to gather data such as telephone numbers, sexual orientation, and details of taxes and assets and the like without knowing exactly what the point is?”

Mr Morin was firmly rebuked by the prime minister François Fillon.

“I don’t think it is necessary to create suspicion when none exists and I had the occasion to tell him so,” he said.

Michèle Alliot-Marie, the Interior Minister, who is tasked with pushing through Mr Sarkozy’s tough law-and-order agenda that helped him win last year’s presidential election, was equally vociferous.

“It is odd that Mr Morin has not managed to find my telephone number. I would have set his mind at rest,” she said.

Edvige, according to the government, is simply a spruced-up version of a file system already used by the Renseignements Généraux (RG), a police intelligence service which civil liberties groups claim has files on 20 million people.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Hijaz Muslim College in Birmingham UK is Running Sharia Law Court

A MUSLIM college in the Midlands is running the UK’s first official sharia law court.

The Muslim Arbitration Tribunal has already used sharia law to decide the outcome of more than 100 civil disputes between Muslims across the UK since it opened its doors last December.

The tribunal, which operates alongside the British legal system, was set up by scholars and lawyers at Hijaz College Islamic University in Nuneaton, Warwickshire.

The Archbishop of Canterbury prompted controversy when he said use of certain aspects of sharia law seemed “unavoidable”.

And recently, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, said there was no reason why it could not be used for contractual agreements and marital disputes.

Faisal Aqtab Siddiqi, a commercial law barrister and head of Hijaz College, who has sat in judgment at a number of the tribunals, said British society was not ready for such punishments.

But he added that if society became more ‘civilised’ then those who broke the law should expect to receive the highest degree of punishment.

Last night, the Bishop of Rochester, the Right Reverend Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, who was born in Pakistan and has both a Christian and Muslim family background, said he was concerned that people might feel coerced into accepting sharia-based arbitration.

           — Hat tip: Boudica [Return to headlines]

More Babies Born in Switzerland

The number of babies being born in Switzerland continues to increase, and more and more older women are giving birth.

Figures issued by the Federal Statistics Office on Thursday for 2007 show that 74,500 children were born in Switzerland, up 1.5 per cent on the previous year, and the highest figure since 2001.

These babies can hope to live for longer than ever before. Men now have a life expectancy of 79.4 years, where boys born in 2006 could hope to reach the age of 79.1. For women the figure was up from 84 to 84.2.

The number of births to women aged over 35 had increased by 31 per cent in comparison with the 2001 figure, in contrast to the figure for women under 30, who are having fewer and fewer children.

Despite this trend, the figures show that overall women are having more children than they did six years ago. Nevertheless, at 1.46 per woman it is still insufficient to maintain the population at its current level. For this a rate of 2.1 would be needed.

While non-Swiss women continue to have more children than the Swiss, the number of births among them has remained more or less stable since 2001.

Switzerland is still well below the European average for the number of children born to unmarried couples, although the proportion has nearly doubled since 1998, and now stands at 16.2 per cent. In the European Union, a third of children are born outside marriage.

Nevertheless, marriage appears to becoming more popular in Switzerland. The number of weddings rose by 1.3 per cent in 2007 in comparison with 2006, while the number of divorces fell by 5.2 per cent.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Not to Jail… [translated by VH]

After a wild chase, three twenty year olds from the city of Mol last weekend deliberately rammed into a police car.

It was a true miracle there were no fatalities. Yet the prosecutor ordered their immediate release. “To put someone in custody there needs to be more”, is heard from the prosecutor’s office…

“Driving for many kilometers with a speed of 160 kilometres per hour [100 mph] to escape the police, deliberately ramming a police surveillance car and also having drugs in their pockets,” the Gazet van Antwerpen writes. “What else must a man do to be thrown in jail?”

Good question.

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]

Police Use ‘Guess Who?’ Flash Cards to Help Migrants Who Can’t Speak English Identify Criminals

A police force is dealing with so many foreign crime victims that it has armed its officers with Guess Who? — style picture cards to beat the language barrier.

Sussex Police — which has more than 10,000 Eastern European immigrants on its patch — say the cards allow officers to discuss crimes without waiting for a translator. The force is hoping to save cash on interpreters — after it was blasted for last year spending £102,000 on them. […]

Sgt Danny West, leading the trial scheme in Arundel, Bognor and Littlehampton, said: “Within a week of me putting it out to a selection of officers a Polish woman tried to tell us she had been assaulted in very limited English. […]

The expansion of the EU in 2004 led to a massive influx of Eastern European workers heading for Sussex in search of work. Officers in the Arun district — which has more than 4,000 Poles alone — have already been given crash courses in Polish in a bid to help them integrate with the new communities which have sprung up. […]

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]

The British 9/11: Muslim Extremists Convicted of Plotting to Kill Thousands in Liquid Bomb Campaign

A gang of British-born Muslims were convicted yesterday of plotting a British 9/11 by blowing up liquid bombs disguised as soft drinks.

Abdulla Ahmed Ali, Assad Sarwar and Tanvir Hussain were accused of planning horrific attacks on planes, power stations, oil refineries and airports in their warped desire to kill thousands.

Disturbing links have emerged between the group and a secretive Muslim sect which is lobbying to build Europe’s biggest mosque in the shadow of the London 2012 Olympic site.

Tablighi Jamaat is an ultra-orthodox movement which has its UK base in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, the home of 7/7 ringleader Mohammed Siddique Khan. Both he and fellow 7/7 bomber Shezhad Tanweer were thought to attend the mosque. Richard Reid, the shoebomber who tried to blow up a flight to America, also attended mosques run by the group.

The operation to thwart Ali, Sarwar and Hussain is one of the largest ever carried out by Scotland Yard and has cost more than £20million.

[…] Security services became aware of the plot in May 2006 and a massive surveillance operation began. Prosecutors alleged Ali, Sarwar and Hussain plotted to blow up seven planes bound from Heathrow to cities in the U.S. and Canada. It was also claimed that the bombers talked of taking their wives and children on board planes.

At least 2,000 passengers and crew would have perished and thousands more could have died if the planes had been flying over land. […]

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]

UK: The ‘How to be Happy’ Classes Coming to a School Near You

Children are to have happiness lessons to prevent them becoming depressed.

More than 20 schools are already teaching the classes, which are supposed to help banish negative thoughts.

And psychologists will meet ministers this week with a view to launching the scheme nationwide.

The Penn Resiliency Programme is the brainchild of Professor Martin Seligman, a U.S. expert in positive psychology.

In the lessons, 11-year-olds are taught how to cope with difficult situations and emotions and to develop positive attitudes, assertiveness, aspirations and a better approach to decision making.

They are encouraged not to think or react like Chicken Little, the hen in the fable who wrongly feared the sky was falling in.

It is hoped that the classes will equip youngsters better to cope with the challenges of adulthood.

Those in favour of the U.S. programme say it has been shown significantly to reduce rates of anxiety and depression in the young.

But critics believe the classes sound much like common sense and are a waste of timetable space.

Professor Seligman, of the University of Pennsylvania, said the pilot, which involves schools in South Tyneside, Hertfordshire and Manchester, is the largest in the world.

‘Much of what is currently taught in this area is based on sentiment — it just seems like a good idea. Depression leads to low productivity and poor physical health. Multiply that by a lot of people, and that affects a whole country.’…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Work on the Essalam Mosque in Rotterdam Resumed [translated by VH]

The Rotterdam Alderman Hamit Karakus (City Councilor of Planning) will not revoke the building permit for the new Essalammoskee in the South of Rotterdam. His spokesperson said Tuesday.

The alderman threatened in July this year to withdraw the licence, if the construction of the largest mosque in the Netherlands is interrupted more than 26 weeks. Since mid-March no work had been no activity building the prayer house because of a dispute with the German contractor. […]

The Mosque has a dome of 25 meters high and minarets measuring 50 meters high. The General Intelligence and Security Service AIVD did research into the financing of the new building.

Some of the Muslims oppose the influence of foreign donors. To five of them a Mosque-ban was imposed earlier this year because they caused riots in the Mosque.

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Mideast: Small Square Named After Bush

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, SEPTEMBER 9 — ‘Square Bush’ is the name of a small square to be built in downtown Jerusalem, near the famous King David hotel. The proposal to dedicate a square to the president of the United States came from an Israeli philanthropist, Yosef Hakshuri, who claims he was deeply moved by the speech Bush delivered at the Knesset (parliament) last May and by his demonstration of friendship with the Jewish people. Maariv daily reported that Hakshuri donated a considerable sum to the municipality of Jerusalem to fund the paving and the lighting of the small square, which will be decorated with trees and ornamental flowers. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Middle East

In August Inflation Reached 27.6 Per Cent in Tehran

Central bank figures show upward trend. In the previous three months the consumer price index rose 26.1, 25 and 24 per cent respectively.

Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Iran’s inflation hit 27.6 per cent in the month of Mordad that ended on 21 August, the central bank said Sunday. The consumer price index (CPI) in urban areas also increased by 27.6 per cent compared to the same month in the previous year, thus confirming that prices are on a runaway trend in Iran.

A month earlier inflation reached 26.1 per cent, whilst in the two previous months it was 25 and 24 per cent respectively.

The inflation mostly affected staples such as meat, beans and rice whose prices have doubled in a yearly comparison. If milk and bread were not subsidised they too would have been hard hit by inflation.

Now a four-member family can spend up to 80 per cent of its income on food each month.

Despite having pledged economic improvements, inflation and the economy are President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s weak points.

Instead his government has paid closer attention to military issues. Today in fact Iran is conducting already announced manoeuvres designed to test the anti-naval capacities of the armed forces and the Guardians of the Revolution.

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

Iraq’s First Christian Militia Fights Al-Qaeda

Tel Asquf village has taken security into its own hands with armed patrols, checkpoints at its four entrances.

TEL ASQUF — With Kalashnikovs slung over their shoulders, Iraq’s first Christian militia enforces one simple rule on the border of this little village. “Anyone not from Tel Asquf, is banned.” This village in northern Iraq’s flashpoint Nineveh province, frequently targeted by Sunni and Shiite fighters, has now taken security into its own hands with armed patrols and checkpoints at the village’s four entrances.

The village borders are marked with a sand barrier built by residents in a bid to stop car bombs breaching the perimeter as they did in 2007 when two such attacks within six months rocked the village and spurred the local authorities into action.

“The terrorists want to kill us because we are Christian. If we don’t defend ourselves, who will?” asked militia group leader Abu Nataq. Associated with the “Crusader” invaders, they are often victims of violence.

Iraq’s Christians, with the Chaldean rite by far the largest community, were said to number as many as 800,000 before the 2003 US-led invasion, but this number is believed to have halved as people fled the brutal sectarian violence and the poor economic conditions.

Neighbourhood militias have become popular in Iraq, particularly with the rise of the Awakening groups — former Sunni insurgents who switched sides and are now paid by US forces to battle Al-Qaeda. But Iraq’s Christian population, concentrated in Nineveh and its capital city Mosul, had not until now organised its own fighting force to protect against attack.

“We used to pay “jezya” (protection money) and they would leave us alone,” Nataq said in reference to a tax levied on the Christian community by Al-Qaeda in exchange for peace. But Tel Asquf’s villagers rebelled against the payments and called on the help of the Kurdish forces of Arbil, the nearby capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region, after judging that its own provincial capital, Mosul, had too large a Sunni population.

“I prefer the help of Kurdistan, of the peshmerga,” Nataq said. The Kurdish fighters now controlled the roads leading to the village and claimed large swathes of the region, much to the fury of Mosul’s Arab population, he added. The peshmerga provide Kalashnikov rifles and radios to the 200 Christian militiamen who receive around 200 dollars (140 euros) a month from the Arbil administration to protect the 8,000 inhabitants of the village.

Since the arrangement was introduced around 10 months ago, the Christian militiamen have never had to use their weapons, “because the peshmerga form the first line of defence,” Nataq said. Christian fighters are stationed at the village’s entry points and mobile teams patrol inside the inner cordon, especially around the Chaldean Catholic church of St George

On January 6, a series of bombs exploded outside churches and a monastery in Mosul, in an apparently coordinated attack that wounded four people and damaged buildings, as Christians celebrated Epiphany. In March, the body of Iraq’s kidnapped Chaldean Catholic archbishop, Paulos Faraj Rahho, was found near Mosul, prompting the condemnation of Pope Benedict XVI and US President George W. Bush. […]

—- Adding:

Iraq’s Christian Militias

MOSUL — Christians in Iraq have united and formed new militias to protect themselves against what they describe as targeting by Muslim extremists in northern Iraq. “During five years we were victims of the general violence in Iraq but mainly from violence carried by Islamic extremists who want us to follow their religious behaviors, though we are from a different culture and belief,” Priest Michel Youssef, militias supporter in Mosul, told

Few armed Christians started patrolling their areas last year but now there are 250 of them with official approval from the US army base in Mosul. Armed with heavy machine guns and assault rifles, they receive salaries of around US $250 and are commanded by Father Yusuf Yohannes. “The idea to form militias was the only way to protect our families and friends from attacks because we are tired of waiting an action from the government which is preoccupied with politics and never look after us,” said Youssef.

Christian women in many parts of Iraq, including Nineveh, still wear Abayas — the traditional full-length cloak — and headscarves to prevent them from being distinguished from Muslims and avoid becoming victims of extremist violence. “I want to walk wearing what I want and eating when I want,” said Louise Annuar, a 38-year-old primary school teacher and mother of two.

“During years we lived in peace in this land where I was born. All Muslims were happy to be part of our lives, share our thoughts and respect our decisions,” she recalls bitterly. “Today we are seen as prostitutes for not wearing traditional clothes, our husbands killed for not fasting or wearing shorts, our children out from schools and colleges for security reasons and even our churches closed after constant attacks and threats.”

The last census in 1987 counted 1.35 million Christians in Iraq, but nearly half left during the 1990s when economic sanctions were imposed by the UN. Thousands more have left since the 2003 US-led invasion after targeted attacks left hundreds of Christians killed nationwide. According to the local Christians Peace Association (CPA), about 350,000 Christians remain in Iraq from 800,000 prior to the invasion.
Armed Christians are now manning checkpoints in many villages and cities of Nineveh province, 390 km north of Baghdad, including some districts of Mosul. They stop and check any car or person they feel suspicious. “If they don’t want to respect us for being human beings, now they will have to esteem us because we can be as tough as they are to protect our loved ones,” said Yehia Carlo, manning a checkpoint in a village of Nineveh province.

“We didn’t have a choice. We cannot wait for an extremist to come and kill dozens just because we want to live according to our beliefs.”

The local police in Mosul seem to be turning a blind eye to the issue, some say because they recognize inability to offer an exclusive protection to the Christian community. “Sometimes it is better to close your eyes towards some facts because although it seams illegal, it can save many lives,” a senior police officer in Nineveh told IOL, requesting anonymity.

The idea of taking protection in their own hands is very appealing to Christians.

“Our new militias are the start of a possible new life for Christians in Iraq,” believes Annuar, the primary school teacher. “Unfortunately some people here today just respect others if they feel they can fight them with the same weapons and now we started and hope it can change our sad reality.”

Lucas Barini, a CPA spokesman, agrees. “We will have more chance to stand up and survive among the ongoing violence if we fight face to face and protect ourselves from attackers,” he says. “Each human being has the right to believe in what he wants. We want to follow our culture and religion without affecting others but unfortunately some people don’t agree. During years we lived in peace with other Muslims in this country but now we cannot trust even your friend from decades.”

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]

Iraqi Christians Face New Persecution

[…] Concern is growing that The Batallion of Just Punishment, Jihad Base in Mesopotamia which strongly opposes Christians entering the Iraqi police force, have begun an aggressive campaign to force Christians from the region once more.

The letter stated, “We caution and warn anyone who tries to rob us through dealings with the Americans or through the spreading of American forces and/or police to protect the Holy Shrines in the Islamic Republic of Iraq, that these shrines would remain target of the freedom fighters.”

The letter made clear that non-Muslims would remain under oppression and forced into the Muslim Dhimmi system.

“We remind the dhimmi people [Jews and Christians] that Iraq is for the noble Iraqis and not for how you are now.” Community leaders in the region suspect the letter actually originated from Ansar Al-Islam, a Kurdish Islamist group affiliated with al-Qaeda.

Muslim Kurds who have squatted on Christian lands in the North are collaborating with al-Qaeda to keep Christians out of the Iraq Police Force and increase tension in the region. “The Kurds benefit as long as there is fighting going on. The Kurds remain ally of the coalition forces. This wins them favor, gains them support and money, and makes it easier for them to finally gain their own autonomous region in northern Iraq and southern Turkey. […]

All that land was legally owned by Christians until Kurdish rebels began using the mountains as their place of operations to attack Iraq and Turkey, knowing that they could easily push Christians out of the region. […] Fearing that Christians on the police force will begin to uncover many of the corrupt efforts, they are being attacked and warned to leave the region and not join the police,” says Bunni.

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]

Two Weeks on, No News of an Imprisoned Iranian Christian

Vain attempts by the family to find out why Ramtin Soodmand was kidnapped and where he is being held. Security officials respond to their questions with threats.

Teheran (AsiaNews) — Two weeks on there is still no news of an imprisoned Iranian Protestant Christian, or why he was arrested. This is the dramatic story of Ramtin Soodmand, arrested 15 days ago by security officials and intelligence officers in Mashhad, on Iran’s north east border with Turkmenistan.

The Iranian exile website Rooz reports that since the man’s arrest his family and friends have repeatedly and in vain sought news of Ramtin’s whereabouts. What’s more; their attempts to contact officers from the Ministry for Security to find out why he was arrested and where he is being held have not only failed to produce results, they have also provoked threats of “consequences” for them and for Ramtin.

According to the small and increasingly concerned Iranian Christian community — estimated to count 60 thousand — one week before Soodmand’s arrest, another Christian, Iman Rachidi was arrested in the very same city. Since then there has been no news either of the fate of the 18 year old.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Far East

North Korea’s Kim Jong Il May Have Had Stroke, Official Says

Sept. 9 (Bloomberg) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is sick and may have suffered a stroke in the past month, a U.S. intelligence official said.

The official, who declined to be identified, said it was noteworthy that Kim didn’t attend the 60th anniversary celebration of the country’s founding today.

U.S. intelligence had other reasons to believe Kim is ill, the official said, declining to describe those conclusions. Kim is 67 years old.

The South Korean government said Kim’s absence at the celebration was unusual. “We think that it is highly irregular, since he made an appearance during the 50th and 55th anniversary” events, Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ho Nyoun said in an interview.

The developments come as North Korea has taken steps to reverse the dismantling of a major nuclear site, part of an agreement with the U.S., China, South Korea, Russia and Japan to end its nuclear-arms effort.

Scientists at the Yongbyon plant, which produced weapons- grade plutonium, are moving equipment out of storage and are “taking some of the steps that would allow them to restart” the reactor, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters in Washington yesterday.

           — Hat tip: Fausta [Return to headlines]

North Korea ‘Hired Taekwondo Killers’

Choi Jung-hwa says he returned to Seoul to clarify past misunderstandings

A master of the ancient martial art of taekwondo says North Korean agents recruited him in a failed plot to kill a South Korean president.

South Korean-born Choi Jung-hwa said North Korean spies infiltrated a global taekwondo body and ordered its members to kill Chun Doo-hwan in the 1980s.

Mr Choi made the claim as he returned to Seoul after living abroad for years.

He is unlikely to be punished over his alleged links to Pyongyang, a South Korean prosecutor told AP news agency.

The senior prosecutor, Oh Se-in, was quoted as saying Mr Choi would be cleared of most of the suspicions as the statute of limitations had expired and he had chosen to return to South Korea voluntarily.

           — Hat tip: Fausta [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Sydney Suburb Denies Racism Against Muslims

Residents of a Sydney suburb on Tuesday denied they were racist for objecting to a Muslim school but supporting plans for a Catholic school nearby, local media reported.

The Camden/Macarthur Residents’ Group, set up earlier this year to fight a proposed Quranic Society Muslim school, said the yet to be approved Catholic school “ticked all the boxes.”

“Catholics are part of our community so we should be supporting it on this basis alone,” group president Emil Sremchevich told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Why is that racist? Why is it discriminatory? It’s very simple: people like some things but don’t like other things. Some of us like blondes, some of us like brunettes.

“Why is it xenophobic if I want to make a choice? If I want to like some people and not like other people, that’s the nature of the beast.”

The Quranic Society said the group’s stance was racially motivated.

“Everyone can see there is a double standard… No one knows anything about the Catholic school and they say, ‘Yeah, give it a tick already’. I think racism is affecting this,” spokesman Issam Obeid told the paper.

The residents’ group opposed the building of the 1,200-student Muslim school in rural Camden in Sydney’s southwest earlier this year.

Ahead of one heated public meeting, pigs’ heads on stakes were placed on the proposed site with an Australian flag draped between them.

Camden council said the Islamic school was rejected in May on planning grounds, and religion had nothing to do with it

The Catholic proposal for nearby Cawdor would be treated the same way, it said.

Camden mayor, Chris Paterson, said the proposed Catholic school differed from the Islamic school because it would be built on grounds already owned by the church, zoned for school use and housing an existing school.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Pirates Attack Norwegian Ship

A Norwegian tanker owned by shipping tycoon John Fredriksen has become the latest target of pirates who tried to hijack it in the Gulf of Aden.

The tanker Front Voyager was sailing through the gulf Saturday morning when alert crew spotted a speed boat closing in on the vessel.

The pirates on board the speedboat, believed to be from Somalia, came up alongside the large tanker and attempted to board while firing between 10 and 15 shots, according to reports from the scene.

“Fortunately no one (on board the vessel) was hit,” said Dag Christoffersen of V Ships Norway, which manages the vessel.

The crew of the Front Voyager, trained to fend off pirates, contacted the Danish naval vessel Absalon stationed in the area to fight a wave of piracy in the gulf. The Danish ship sent an armed helicopter to the Front Voyager while the tanker’s crew used water canons to keep the pirates from scrambling up the sides of the ship.

“These water canons are very powerful,” Christoffersen told

The helicopter arrived, the pirates were eventually captured and taken to an American battleship also stationed nearby.

Christoffersen praised the crew of the Norwegian-owned vessel, comprised of around 25 Russian officers and Filipino seafarers. The vessel continued sailing to Singapore after the drama subsided.

The Gulf of Aden, along with the Straits of Malacca, has become a site of frequent pirate attacks, with 24 reported just between April and June. Saturday’s attack on the Front Voyager was the fourth in three days, according to Jesper Lynge of the Danish navy.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Latin America

Venezuela Plays the Russia Card

Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez is known to use oil to exert power, but he’s proving more ambitious. His new push for a Russian presence in the Caribbean is about control of sea lanes — where the U.S. is vulnerable.

On Monday, Russia accepted Chavez’s invitation for a first-ever joint naval exercise with Venezuela. In its first major maneuvers off U.S. waters since the Cold War, Russia will send a heavily armed nuclear cruiser to the Caribbean.

Just how critical the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico are to U.S. interests isn’t widely recognized. But in the years since Congress barred offshore drilling in all but the Gulf, U.S. vulnerability has increased. Hurricanes have brought this reality more into focus, but America’s enemies are taking notice too. Venezuela’s invitation to Russia is just the start.

What is well-known is how dependent we are on foreign oil. During the Arab embargo of 1973, we imported about 25% of our crude. Since 1990, when Congress imposed a moratorium on new drilling, that’s grown to 58%. Most of this oil is transported by sea.

We are therefore more dependent than ever on regional access routes. About 64% of U.S. energy imports must pass through the Caribbean to reach ports and refineries of the Gulf Coast, Energy Department data show. It’s not just shipments from Venezuela, which account for 10% of U.S. oil imports, but energy from almost everywhere else too…

           — Hat tip: Fausta [Return to headlines]


All-Party Call for 20,000-a-Year Cap on Migrants Arriving in UK

An unprecedented coalition of public figures will today call for a limit on migrant numbers settling in the UK. The group of MPs and peers, including a former Archbishop of Canterbury, want a policy of ‘balanced migration’.

Only around 20,000 non-EU economic migrants would be allowed to stay permanently each year. The rest would have to go home after four years. The campaigners, led by former Labour Minister Frank Field, say their system would produce a UK population of around 65million by 2050 — compared to projections of 78.6million under Government policies.

Net immigration is currently estimated at more than 190,000 a year, though not all will stay permanently. An opinion poll last night showed a large majority of voters in favour of the all-party group’s proposal — but Labour effectively ruled it out.

Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said the Government’s new points-based system would be better than ‘made up quotas’ for bringing in migrants with the skills needed by our economy. The aim of balanced migration is to keep the number of foreigners settling here permanently at around the same as the number of Britons who leave.

The group calling for it, headed jointly by Mr Field and Tory MP Nicholas Soames, also includes Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, and Lord Ahmed, one of Labour’s leading Muslim politicians.

Labour MP Frank Field is leading the cross-party parliamentary group on balanced migration Mr Field said the recent wave of immigration had been unprecedented — 25 times higher than any for nearly 1,000 years. It had ‘undoubtedly brought gains’ to some sections of the community.

But the former welfare minister added: ‘One group that has disproportionately borne the cost of such immigration, through pressure on wages, longer waiting lists for decent housing and increased demand for public services, has been lower-paid black and white Britons. ‘This group has also often experienced a transformation of their neighbourhoods from settled working-class communities to societies they can barely recognise.’

The MPs and peers, who also include Lord Bill Jordan, former president of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union, Field Marshal Lord Inge and economic historian Lord Skidelsky, asked the campaign group Migrationwatch to prepare ‘ constructive’ proposals for balancing migration.

Today, it publishes a 56-page report setting out a framework for controlling numbers without harming the economy. The document suggests no limit or changes to the rights of genuine asylum seekers, who make up only three per cent of foreign migration. There would also be no major changes to marriage rules which confer settlement rights, or any attempt to limit free movement within the EU.

Instead, the proposals focus on economic migrants. They would still be allowed to obtain work permits, using the points-based system to ensure the economy is not left without vital skills. But workers would be expected to return home after four years. Only a limited number of the best-paid or highest-skilled — around 20,000 each year — would be allowed settlement rights.

When this 20,000 is added to those granted settlement rights through marriage, asylum and other routes, the total number of foreigners allowed to remain permanently each year would be around 130,000. It would be balanced by the 125,000 British citizens who emigrate, giving a net increase of only 5,000.

The campaigners hope this would reduce some of the strains being experienced by communities across the UK. They point out that, over the past decade, nearly 2.5million migrants have arrived while almost 750,000 British people have left — a 1.7million rise in the population. Schools, hospitals and housing have been placed under enormous pressure.

Migrationwatch also commissioned a YouGov opinion poll on behalf of the group. It found that 81 per cent of Labour voters want a substantial reduction in immigration numbers — a position at odds with the Government. Some 89 per cent of Tories also want a sharp fall.

The poll showed that 33 per cent of the electorate would be more likely to vote Tory if David Cameron adopted ‘balanced migration’, while only five per cent would be less likely.

Among black and ethnic minority respondents, 75 per cent wanted much lower immigration. They were split almost evenly between supporting ‘balanced migration’ and wanting even tougher controls.

Migrationwatch chairman Sir Andrew Green said: ‘This clearly shows that voters from across the board, including the ethnic minorities, strongly support a policy at least as firm as balanced migration. Concern about the present massive uncontrolled level of immigration is not a partisan issue.’

Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve said: ‘We have made our own proposals to set an annual limit on economic immigration, because we want to reduce the pressure on our public services caused by the uncontrolled immigration levels of recent years.

‘We will look with great interest at the proposals of the new group, so that we can continue to develop an immigration policy which is fair, helpful to the British economy and reasonable for the public services.’

But Jill Rutter, of the IPPR think-tank, said: ‘The proposal that migrant workers should leave the UK after a four-year period would mean employers could not retain the hard-working migrants they want to. We need to make migration work for Britain, rather than play to xenophobic sentiments.’

Immigration minister Liam Byrne said: ‘Our tough new points system, plus our plans for newcomers to earn citizenship, will reduce numbers of economic migrants coming to Britain, and the number awarded permanent settlement.

‘The points system means only those with the skills Britain needs can come. Unlike made-up quotas, this stops Government cutting business off from the skills it needs when it needs them.’

—- Graph: “By Numbers”

50,000 average annual level of net migration to the UK between 1982 an 1997

224,000 net immigration in 2004

68% of immigration in 2006 was from outside the EU

1.338 schools where more than half of pupils do not have English as a first language

14% of prisoners are foreign nationals

62 pence [$ 1.09] per week per head benefit of immigration to individuals in Britain

—- Adding:

New Poll Indicates Balanced Migration a Vote Winner

Labour and BME voters want much lower immigration

September 8, 2008

A new poll [link to poll, xls document] out today demonstrates there is massive backing for a substantial cut in immigration levels from supporters of all parties and shows that a programme of ‘Balanced Migration’ into the UK could have a major effect on voting intentions in a future election.

The YouGov poll, which the Cross party Group on Balanced Migration asked Migrationwatch to commission, found that were the Conservatives to adopt such a policy — in which the number of people allowed to settle in the UK in any year was broadly similar to those who left — they would be likely to improve their support among a significant number of Labour and Liberal Democrat voters.

81 per cent of Labour voters want to see a substantial reduction in current immigration numbers. Of those, 36 per cent think that Balanced Migration is about the right level, but the other 45 per cent think even that is too high. […]

Commenting, Migrationwatch chairman Sir Andrew Green said: ‘This poll clearly shows that voters from across the board, including the ethnic minorities, strongly support a policy at least as firm as Balanced Migration. Concern about the present massive uncontrolled level of immigration is not a partisan issue. I hope that all the political parties will now get the message and engage in a constructive debate about Balanced Migration in the months ahead. […]

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]

Asylum: EU to Adopt Unified Procedure by 2012

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, SEPTEMBER 9 — France plans to put forward by the end of the year, when its six-month term as EU president expires, a European pact on immigration and asylum policy in order to achieve the application of a common regime in terms of protection of political refugees “by 2010 or 2012 at the latest”. Yet there should be no confusion between immigration and asylum, French Immigration Minister Brice Hortefeux said at a meeting of the interior ministers of the 27 EU states he invited yesterday and today in Paris. “The asylum will never be a variable to adjust the immigration policy,” he said. The pact should confirm the introduction of stricter European policies in the field. Hortfeux assured that the EU member states plan to “welcome and protect the foreigners who are being persecuted rejecting with certain criteria the abusive asylum requests”. The EU has the duty to contribute to the application of the Geneva Convention, “offering a better level of protection to political refugees”. Vice-President of the European Commission Jacques Barrot spoke of unification of the national procedures on asylum and “stronger solidarity between the member states”. It is the same European solidarity evoked by Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, because, he said, “it must not be Italy and the border states to take upon themselves the entire burden, all the costs for those who come and want to live in Europe and not necessarily in Italy”. In his speech, the minister said that 14,000 asylum requests were filed in Italy in 2007. Maroni spoke also of the situation in Lampedusa, “a European outpost in the Mediterranean” and of an asylum system exposed to “extraordinary pressure”. The minister also expressed his approval for a European support office. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres called upon the European Union states to create a common asylum seeking system to guarantee the efficient protection of the refugees and to “set an example for the entire world”. “There are now more obstacles for the entry on European territory and the consequence is that many people seeking protection have no other choice than resorting to smugglers in order to cross the borders,” Guterres said. In 2007, for the first time in years, the number of asylum request in the European Union has fallen to 220,000. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Immigration: Spain; Almost 1 Million Immigrants in One Year

(by Paola Del Vecchio) (ANSAmed) — MADRID, SEPTEMBER 8 — The waves of illegal immigrants arriving in Spain have not stopped, with new landings on the Canary Islands, and the number of the voyages of hope continues to grow, while a report of the National Statistics Institute (INE) reveals that almost a million immigrants arrived in Spain in 2007, of whom just a scarce 1% aboard barges or via sea. A total of over 260 migrants landed on the Canary Islands during the weekend: most recent was a barge which docked this morning on Graciosa Island with 33 sub-Saharan Africans aboard, adding to the over 111 illegal immigrants, all Africans, who arrived in three successive landings between Sunday and today on the islands of Gran Canaria and Lanzarote and to the 118, including 23 minors, who arrived on Saturday at the port of La Gomera, in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. One of the latter, who was admitted to the hospital of Tenerife, died yesterday of a cardiorespiratory crisis. One dead who adds to the 14 victims of the crossing of death recovered in a boat rescued on Thursday in the port of Gran Canaria. The organisers of the expedition who navigated the barge, which remained 12 days adrift in the Atlantic, are five people of sub-Saharan origin identified by the police and arrested by the order of the prosecution of Gran Canaria: the high court of justice of the Canary islands charged them with multiple manslaughter and trafficking of immigrants. Yet the continuous landings over the last weeks are fewer than the ones registered from January to July last year. According to sources of the Interior Ministry, in the first seven months of 2008 more than 7,165 illegal immigrants landed on Spain’s coasts, 9.1% less compared to the same period of 2007. They represent a scarce 1% of the total number of foreigners who arrived on the Iberian Peninsula in 2007, not at all discouraged by the winds of the economic crisis. According to the report drawn up by INE on foreign migrations, the immigrants amount to 920,000, of whom 373,241 were Europeans, mostly Romanians (174,149); 284,772 came from Latin America and the rest mainly from African countries. The reasons prompting to emigration, according to INE’s national survey relating to last year, remain the quest for a higher standard of living, despite the signals for the recession of Spain’s economy, followed by the search for a better job or by family reasons. In fact, a total of 64.9% of the migrants who arrived in Spain in 2007 already had jobs in their countries of origin, 53.7% as employees, and 11.2% as freelance workers. A total of 13.4% however had their spouses already residing in Spain so they rejoined their families. Finally, the vast majority of the immigrants arrived in Spanish territory by plane (62.7%), followed by a high percentage of people who used land means such as train, bus or car. The immigrants who face the trips of hope via sea, confronting the high risk to end up drowning in the waters of the Atlantic or Mediterranean, which have become cemeteries of nameless illegal immigrants, do not arrive at 1% of the total. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

It Isn’t Racist to Want a Cap on Immigration

Our balanced migration policy is not ‘chuck ‘em out’. It is essential for British society

by George Carey

The Church’s response to immigration in recent years has drawn heavily upon the call to welcome and treat the stranger as if you have Christ in your midst. This is absolutely right, yet we also have to question whether the unprecedented levels of immigration that we are now seeing can truly contribute to the “common good” — another theme the churches have emphasised in their teaching on social justice.

The facts are simple. Immigration has tripled in the past ten years. The Government predicts that, over the next 25 years, immigration will add seven million to the population of England — seven times the present population of Birmingham.

For years it has been impossible to question the wisdom of large-scale immigration without being branded a “racist”. This lack of respect for others’ views has suffocated healthy debate while providing grist for extremists. Many people ask: “Who is listening to our concerns?”

And it is easy to see why they are concerned. The British people are not racist. They know the benefits that migration has brought to our country down the centuries. But they see society changing before their eyes, like a film that has been speeded up. For example, 25 per cent of UK births are to women born abroad. There are at present 1,338 schools where at least 51 per cent of pupils do not have English as their first language. At a third of schools in Leicester and Blackburn, the majority of pupils do not have English as their first language.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Italy Bears Brunt of Asylum Seekers

Burden should be shared, minister tells EU conference

(ANSA) — Paris, September 8 — Italy should not bear the brunt of supporting Europe’s asylum seekers, Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said on Monday.

Addressing a two-day conference of European Union ministers, Maroni suggested Italy’s location as one of the bloc’s southernmost border nations put it under particular pressure. ‘‘Italy and other border countries cannot be the ones bearing all the burden and all the costs of those who want to come and live in Europe, not necessarily even in Italy,’’ said the Italian minister. The EU’s current refugee rules, as enshrined in the Dublin Convention, require applicants to lodge their asylum claim in the first EU country they enter. The rule was designed to prevent people making multiple asylum applications or ‘‘shopping around’’ for the state most likely to grant them refugee status.

However, this has placed considerable strain on countries at the edge of the 27-nation bloc, as they receive a far higher number of requests. Discussing Italy’s policies at the ‘‘Building a Europe of Asylum’’ conference, Maroni said his country’s centre-right government had made every effort to implement a ‘‘best practice for asylum seekers’’. But he said as a frontline EU state, Italy needed more support from the bloc as a whole. He urged ministers to agree on common rules, which he said would ease the burden currently borne by border states. The focus of the two-day event, hosted by France in its capacity as duty president of the EU, is on pushing ahead with the bloc’s common rules on asylum. MINISTERS DISCUSSING PROPOSALS ON AMENDING DUBLIN RULES.

Ministers are discussing proposals from the European Commission to amend the Dublin rules. As well as the pressure the current system places on border states, there has been criticism of the different levels of protection offered by various member states.

Not only does this mean states with more favourable asylum policies receive more applications, it also means some countries may be turning away applicants unfairly. Speaking at the meeting, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres commented on the ‘‘wide disparities’’ between different EU countries. ‘‘Protection rates for asylum-seekers […] can range from zero to near 100%, depending on the country where the claim is examined,’’ he said. ‘‘Such wide disparities are incompatible with a common system which seeks to guarantee equal protection across the European Union’’. Guterres said this was of particular concern given that the Dublin system was based on the presumption that ‘‘asylum systems of the Member States are comparable’’.

He also reminded ministers that EU efforts to build a common asylum system offered a ‘‘unique opportunity to strengthen refugee protection’’ but urged the bloc to work more closely with third countries. Currently, 80% of the world’s refugees are hosted by developing countries, and Guterres called on the EU to allow more of these individuals into the bloc under resettlement programmes. Guterres also warned that Europe ‘‘must be accessible for those seeking protection’’. ‘‘Yet there are more and more barriers to entry to Europe,’’ he said. ‘‘This creates a situation in which many people in search of protection have no choice but to put themselves in the hands of people-smugglers and traffickers’’.

Paris has said it hopes to reach agreement on the second phase in the EU’s progress towards a common asylum policy by the end of the year, with amended rules on asylum coming in to force by ‘‘2010 or 2012 at the latest’’.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Muslim Cabbies in Minn. Lose Round in Court

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Muslim cabbies whose religious beliefs go against driving passengers who carry alcohol have lost another round in Minnesota courts.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday against the cabbies’ latest attempt to block penalties from being imposed when they refuse to transport passengers because they’re carrying alcoholic beverages.

An ordinance adopted by the Metropolitan Airports Commission last year revokes a cabbie’s license for 30 days for refusing to pick up a passenger for any reason at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. A second refusal brings a two-year revocation.

A large share of the cabbies who serve the airport are Somali Muslims, and many of them believe that Islamic law prohibits them from giving rides to people carrying alcohol. Since the commission began keeping track in 2002, there have been over 5,200 recorded instances of cabbies refusing service to passengers at the airport, including a “significant percentage” of passengers carrying alcohol, the appeals court noted.

           — Hat tip: Fausta [Return to headlines]

U.N. Thugs

By Christine WilliamsSupport for Israel has never ranked high on the United Nations’ agenda. And the upcoming World Conference Against Racism, scheduled for early 2009 in Geneva, Switzerland, presents a valid case. Many observers are concerned that the UN-sponsored event will simply serve as yet another a platform to launch attacks against Israel — as the previous world anti-racism conference did in Durban, South Africa, seven years ago.Even by the standards of the organization’s traditional antagonism toward the Jewish State, the U.N.’s 2001 Durban gathering marked a low point. To the extent that “racism” was discussed, it was only to condemn Israeli policies. Little wonder that the conference, known as “ Durban I,” is largely remembered as a U.N.-backed assault on Israel.Now it’s back. And if early evidence is any guide, Durban II, as the Geneva event is already being called, will be a replay of its predecessor. Consider that the chair of the conference’s planning committee is Libya, whose longtime leader, Muammar Gadhafi, has recently claimed that the Israeli Mossad aims to assassinate Barack Obama. The vice chair of the conference, meanwhile, is communist Cuba. And the fact that Iran’s president has notoriously called for Israel’s destruction has not, expectedly, prevented it from playing a key leadership role in the upcoming conference.

           — Hat tip: ACT [Return to headlines]


Ibsen, Munch, Heyerdahl … and Now Magnus Carlsen

A teenager from a picturesque valley just outside of Oslo is on his way to becoming one of the world’s best-known Norwegians, after he emerged over the weekend as the best chess player on the planet.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Scientists Receive Death Threats Over Big Bang Experiment From Critics Who Fear End of the World

Scientists who are preparing to ‘switch on’ the most powerful particle accelerator ever built, have received death threats from critics who fear it could destroy the Earth.

[…] In the flashes from the collisions, scientists expect to reproduce conditions that existed during the first billionth of a second after the Big Bang at the dawn of creation.

But some of those working on the LHC have received threatening emails and worried phone calls from members of the public, who fear it could create a devastating black hole.

A lawsuit has been lodged at the European Court For Human Rights by a small group of maverick scientists hoping to stop the experiment. […]

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]

One thought on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 9/9/2008

  1. It surprises me that children have managed with the ‘old’ spelling for years and years and now suddenly it is too difficult?

    Children have just become lazy. The system is ineffective I would go as far as to blame the left.

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