Gates of Vienna News Feed 2/2/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 2/2/2009Look for more articles tonight on wildcat strikes in Europe, especially in the UK over the issue of the importation of foreign labor. According to EU law, member states cannot discriminate against job applicants based on nationality, nor favor citizens of their own nations.

In other words, within the EU the nation-state no longer exists.

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Diana West, Gaia, Holger Danske, Insubria, JCPA, JD, Paul Green, TB, Tuan Jim, VH, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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“Is This the Job of the President of the United States?”
A Bidding War and a Row Over Ethics: How the Octuplets Story Turned Sour
Beware of CAIR
Bill Creates Detention Camps in U.S. for ‘Emergencies’
Forcing International Agendas Through Local Mayors
Guantanamo Jury Sentences Al Qaida Video-Maker to Life
Halal Meat Demand Increasing
Obama’s Secret Nuke Talks With Iran Exposed
Obama Demands 10% Defense Cuts
One in 10 Inmates Behind Bars Turns to Islam
Canada: ‘Mummy, Don’t’: Woman Kills Her Only Daughter, 12, After Boyfriend Says, ‘It’s the Child or Me’
Europe and the EU
Books: Turkey No Longer Guest of Honour at Paris 2010 Fair
Cyprus Flagged Ship Causes State a Headache
Finland: Pregnant Substance Abusers May Face Involuntary Commitment
Finmeccanica: E-Geos Gets 180m-Euro Cosmo-Skymed Contract
Firms’ Secret Tax Avoidance Schemes Cost UK Billions
Indian Immigrant Set on Fire in Italy
Netherlands: Extra 10 Million Euros for Moroccan Youths
Political Scientist Criticizes Iceland’s New Government
Savage Attack at Nettuno, Near Rome. Three Youths Detained. One Has Confessed.
Sweden: Outrage Over Language Ban Proposal
Sweden Set to Legalise Same-Sex Marriage by May
Switzerland: “What Motivates Bankers? Vanity”
Terror Concern Rises in Germany
UK: Cricket Team Told it Can’t Call Itself ‘The Crusaders’…in Case it Offends Muslims and Jews
UK: EU Database ‘Vital to Trace Terrorists’
UK: GP ‘Told Husband He Was Treating for Depression: I’M Having an Affair With Your Wife’
UK: Now China’s Prime Minister Has Shoe Flung at Him as He Speaks at Cambridge University
UK: Police Adopt Uniform Hijab
UK: Strikes: Last-Minute Talks Taking Place to Stop Wildcat Strikes
UK: This is the Way a Society Dies
Banks: Croatia; Merger Between German Hypo and Slavonska
Serbia: Around 15000 Punto Cars to be Produced in 2009
Trade: Serbia Aims to Develop Links With Southern Italy
Mediterranean Union
Aerospace: EU Vice President Tajani to Visit Israel
Israel and the Palestinians
Can the Palestinian Authority’s Fatah Forces Retake Gaza? Obstacles and Opportunities
Gaza: Attacks in the Negev, Israeli Strike on Hamas
Israel: U.S. Partner, Not Hamas, Firing Rockets Into Israel
Obama Held Secret Talks With Iran, Syria Weeks Before Election
The West Bank: Attack on Israeli Army Patrol
Middle East
Defence: Alenia; Turkey Selects ATR72 Aircraft for Its Navy
European Court Rules on Property Cases Against Turkey
Gaza: Erdogan Hailed; Israel Denies Peres Apology
Iraq: Security Improves for Christians in Mosul
Israel May Reject Turkish Arms Request
Italy-Bahrain: S.Craxi in Manama, Considers Gulf Strategic
Official: Aliya From Turkey to Double
Schoolgirl Divorcee, 10, Launches Book About Shocking Child Bride Ordeal
Turkey: Sermons in the Mosques to Inform About Exports, TIM
Russians in Sweden: Taming a Fear of the Bear
South Asia
Bangkok Postpones Repatriation of Rohingya Refugees
Indonesia Targets Polygamy
Malaysia: Clash Over Use of ‘Allah’
Pakistan: Truckling to the Taliban
Pakistan: Ex-ISI Chief: Nuke India if Necessary
Sri Lanka: Anti-Conversion Bill: Minorities Fear Restrictions on Religious Freedom
Tensions Rise Between Nepal and India After Indian Comedy Implies Buddha Was Born in India
US Citizen Kidnapped in Pakistan
Far East
China — EU: Wen Jiabao and Barroso Talk About the Economy. Silence on Human Rights
Philippines: Sulu Sultan Asserts Rights Over Sabah
Pyongyang Scraps Political and Military Accords With South Korea
German Interior Minister Pledges to Improve Turkish Integration
UK Not Against Italian Workers
UK: 17,000 Asylum Seekers’ Files Lost
Church Organization Refuses to Divulge if Pastors Are on FEMA Payroll
Obama Says US Can Work With Muslims: OIC(AFP)


“Is This the Job of the President of the United States?”

by Diana West

It all just went by in a flash: The very first TV interview Barack Obama gave as president went to Saudi-backed, Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television. Missed it? The interview aired too late Monday night to make the morning papers (in most of the United States, anyway), transforming its initial burst of coverage into a second-day follow-up story (at least in the United States). It was as if the people (Americans) who put Obama into office were so much, well, chopped liver.

Is that halal? Couldn’t say. But the target audience for this first Obama interview was anything but kosher. The whole event, however, was a huge surprise.

According to Time magazine, Al-Arabiya reporter “(Hisham) Melhem’s bosses in Dubai got a feeler from the White House on Sunday.” That image alone — a White House “feeler” to “bosses in Dubai” is sci-fi fantastic. That is, it’s easy to see why Obama would bypass Fox News, for example, but how could he do this to his Main Squeeze Media (MSM)?

On Monday, the White House contacted the Washington bureau of Al-Arabiya, but even then Melhem wasn’t expecting anything greater than an interview with the new envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell. “Would you like to chat with the president about 5 p.m. today?” a White House caller asked the reporter. And that was how this precedent-shattering interview came about.

But why did it come about? I’m guessing Barack Now-You-See-Hussein-Now-You-Don’t Obama chose to sit down for this first interview before the Muslim world for an important reason. He wanted to appeal to what he seems to regard as his new constituency.

No kidding. Obama spoke quite deliberately about the requirements of his new “job” as commander in chief, many of which are unprecedented. “My job is to communicate the fact that the United States has a stake in the well-being of the Muslim world, that the language has to be the language of respect.”

That’s the job of the president of the United States?

“I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim

           — Hat tip: Diana West [Return to headlines]

A Bidding War and a Row Over Ethics: How the Octuplets Story Turned Sour

It was a heart-warming tale of a young Californian mother who gave birth to eight babies. But now, as more details emerge, public reaction has turned from from joy to shock to anger

It was a midwinter miracle; eight babies born to a single mother and every one of them delivered alive. For a nation enduring its deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression, the tale was a welcome relief from bail-outs and bankruptcies. But this weekend, as the journalistic pack chases an altogether darker dimension to the story of Nadya Suleman, the feel-good factor has suddenly vanished.

The birth of Suleman’s eight babies — six boys and two girls — was clearly an extraordinary event. Only one previous case of eight surviving babies had ever been recorded in the US. Yet as the eccentricity of Suleman’s background and biography emerges, America is suddenly recoiling in shock. Far from being a heart-warming tale of wonder, the more that becomes known about the Suleman family, the more it seems something very disturbing has occurred. Public reaction has quickly turned from joy to shock and anger.

By last night, it was clear that Suleman is not an infertile woman who sought medical help to have children. The 33-year-old Californian already has six children. She is single and has no visible means of support for her current family, let alone the additional eight babies that now give her enough offspring to field a football team with three substitutes.

In fact, Suleman still lives with her parents. Her family has revealed that she may have serious mental-health problems and be addicted to having children. Her own mother, Angela Suleman, told one Associated Press reporter: “[She] is not evil, but she is obsessed with children. She loves children, she is very good with children, but obviously she overdid herself.”

Angela Suleman also revealed that her daughter’s obsession with children caused her considerable stress, and led her to seek help from a psychologist, who had told her to order her daughter out of the house.

“Maybe she wouldn’t have had so many kids then, but she is a grown woman,” Angela said. “I feel responsible and I didn’t want to throw her out.”

The case of the Suleman octuplets is now sending shockwaves through the medical fertility community. Few reputable doctors can understand how a healthy mother-of-six could have been allowed to have fertility treatment that resulted in octuplets without serious questions arising about the mother’s mental health, her capacity to raise such a large family or the huge medical dangers involved in giving birth to so many babies at once.

The family has now taken refuge behind the curtains of its modest three-bedroom suburban home in Whittier, a town near Los Angeles. Usually in these situations, the proud parents parade before the cameras, appear on talk shows and land lucrative sponsorship deals with baby-products firms.

But when Nadya Suleman’s father, Edward, briefly emerged, he did not appear full of the joys of enlarging his family with more grandchildren. “I wish it happens to you people, so you go through hell,” he snapped at the media throng as he unloaded bags of shopping from his car. It was later revealed that Edward was considering going back to his native Iraq — where he has worked as a contractor — in order to raise some cash for the family. As the bidding war begins for Suleman’s story, the quickest and most likely route to financial security is likely to be a publishing contract.

The money seems to be desperately needed. Details of the family’s finances suggest that the Sulemans are already struggling with the load of looking after six children and are ill-prepared for the arrival of eight more.

Court records in nearby San Bernardino show that Suleman’s mother filed for bankruptcy last year, claiming $1m in liabilities as a result of a bad housing investment. At the same time, the records hint at an unusual personal history for the family. They show that Suleman — who changed her name from Nadya Doud in 2001 — divorced her husband, Marcos Gutiérrez, a year ago. Gutiérrez, however, may not be the father of her first six children, because the divorce filing indicates no children were produced from the marriage.

In fact, birth certificates name one “David Solomon” as the father of her eldest four children. It also seems that Suleman had been living with her parents, not her husband, for the past eight years, at a variety of addresses. However, her own parents, who still live together, are also divorced, having legally separated in Las Vegas in 1999.

Suleman herself seems to have little employment history. Neighbours have reported that she worked as a psychiatric technician before she began having children. After that, she attended college, studying child development. She graduated with a bachelor of science degree and returned to do a masters. She last went to a classroom in the spring of 2008.

But even more mysterious than the family’s history are the details of how Suleman became impregnated. Officials at Kaiser Permanente, where a 46-strong medical team delivered her eight children, have said she first appeared there when she was already three months pregnant. Yet it seems that the fertility clinic that implanted Suleman with so many embryos was going against current medical practice. Leaving aside the wisdom of treating a single mother with six children, it is dangerous to implant so many embryos in a woman so young. The likelihood of all those embryos taking hold is much higher in younger mothers and so most doctors would only implant one or two embryos.

Then there is the question of why doctors allowed Suleman to keep all eight embryos once they took hold in her womb, despite the enormous risks to her: even having triplets puts a woman and her babies at huge risk of death or serious injury.

Medical experts across America have queued up to express their rage. “If this resulted from an IVF treatment, we can say that transferring eight embryos in an IVF cycle is well beyond our guidelines,” said Dale McClure, president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

Meanwhile, Arthur Wisot, a fertility doctor in Los Angeles, raised a further prospect. “I cannot imagine that any of the mainstream practices in the Los Angeles area were involved in this. I would guess… she either went out of the country or went to a practice that flies below the radar,” he told a TV reporter.

All the drama has left many questions still unanswered as the eight babies at the centre of the controversy recover in hospital.

They are all doing well. But if the American public was looking for hope and inspiration in the face of tough times, the Suleman octuplets will have provided little in the way of light relief.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Beware of CAIR

Over the past several months, the Washington-based pressure group has suffered a series of punishing blows to its reputation as a self-proclaimed “moderate” voice for Muslim-Americans. In the latest setback, a “Dear Colleague” letter sent out to every House member warns lawmakers and their staffs to “think twice” about meeting with CAIR officials.

“The FBI has cut ties with them,” the letter says. “There are indications” CAIR has links to Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group.

The letter, signed by five Republicans, including the head of the Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus, is attached to an article by a homeland-security news service. It reports that the FBI has been canceling outreach events across the country with CAIR, following a recent directive from headquarters to cut ties with the group.

It’s a major policy shift at the FBI, which has appeased the notoriously litigious CAIR since 9/11. The group aggressively attacks critics with threats of boycotts and discrimination lawsuits.

The marginalization of CAIR, which has enjoyed astonishing access to official Washington, comes after the successful prosecution of leaders of a U.S. Muslim charity that funneled millions to Hamas terrorists. CAIR and its co-founder Omar Ahmed were named unindicted co-conspirators in that Holy Land Foundation case.

CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad, moreover, was caught on tape participating in a meeting with Hamas leaders to disguise payments as charity. During the trial, the FBI described CAIR as a front group for Islamic extremists.

It just gets worse for CAIR. Former clients of the group are suing it for fraud. The Muslims say CAIR, which claims to be an advocate for Muslim rights, extorted thousands of dollars from them in a scam in which CAIR said it would help them get U.S. citizenship.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Bill Creates Detention Camps in U.S. for ‘Emergencies’

Sweeping, undefined purpose raises worries about military police state
Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, D-Fla., has introduced to the House of Representatives a new bill, H.R. 645, calling for the secretary of homeland security to establish no fewer than six national emergency centers for corralling civilians on military installations.

The proposed bill, which has received little mainstream media attention, appears designed to create the type of detention center that those concerned about use of the military in domestic affairs fear could be used as concentration camps for political dissidents, such as occurred in Nazi Germany.

The bill also appears to expand the president’s emergency power, much as the executive order signed by President Bush on May 9, 2007, that — as WND reported — gave the president the authority to declare an emergency and take over the direction of all federal, state, local, territorial and tribal governments without even consulting Congress.


Three additional purposes are specified in the text of the proposed legislation:

* To provide centralized locations for the purposes of training and ensuring the coordination of federal, state and local first responders;

* To provide centralized locations to improve the coordination of preparedness, response and recovery efforts of government, private, not-for-profit entities and faith-based organizations;

* To meet other appropriate needs, as defined by the secretary of homeland security.

The broad specifications of the bill’s language, however, contribute to concern that the “national emergency” purpose could be utilized by the secretary of homeland security to include any kind of situation the government wants to contain or otherwise control.


Rep. Hastings created controversy during the 2008 presidential campaign with his provocative comments concerning Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

“If Sarah Palin isn’t enough of a reason for you to get over whatever your problem is with Barack Obama, then you damn well had better pay attention,” Hastings said, as reported by ABC News. “Anybody toting guns and stripping moose don’t care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks. So, you just think this through.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

CAIR Asks FBI to Probe Harassment of Florida Muslims

‘Biblical group’ shouts anti-Islam slurs outside mosque, frightens children

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on the FBI to investigate possible civil rights violations by a “biblical group” that allegedly harassed worshipers yesterday at a Florida mosque.

More than 20 people used bullhorns to shout slurs against the faith of Islam and Islam’s Prophet Muhammad at those attending the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay Area. They also handed out anti-Muslim literature and, according to a mosque official, frightened children attending weekend school at the facility. The group was apparently in Tampa for today’s Super Bowl. Police were called to the scene.

           — Hat tip: Holger Danske [Return to headlines]

Face to Face With a Terrorist

“Aren’t you beautiful!”

Those aren’t the first words you’d expect from a domestic terrorist turned childhood education specialist, but that’s what Bill Ayers said to me last week

He was surrounded by fawning St. Mary’s College students asking for autographs and then — there was me, standing directly behind him, tapping on his shoulder and asking how his life as a terrorist informed his career as an educator.

Perhaps he thought he’d disarm me; no doubt he knew I wasn’t a student. My question was more intelligent than any he’d been asked by students that evening.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Forcing International Agendas Through Local Mayors

[Comment from JD: This is insidious…]

In June 2005, I reported on the UN’s efforts to recruit the nation’s mayors to directly impose Sustainable Development policy into our local communities. The Mayors weren’t there to simply discuss policy, they committed to an agenda with specific goals. And the results are now clearly being seen in more than 400 communities in 48 states.

First, let me define the policy I’m talking about and describe where it came from. Sustainable Development is the direct opposite of the type of locally elected representative government our Founding Fathers organized for the United States. Sustainable Development expert Michael Shaw explains, it “is the process by which America is being reorganized around a central principle of state collectivism using the environment as bait.” In fact, the policy involves every aspect of our daily lives from food processing and consumption, to health care, to community development to education to labor, and much more. The blue print for sustainable development came from a United Nations soft law policy called Agenda 21, first revealed at the UN’s Earth Summit in 1992.

The best way to understand what Sustainable Development actually is, can be found by discovering what is NOT sustainable. According to the UN’s Biodiversity Assessment Report, items for our everyday lives that are NOT sustainable include: Ski runs, grazing of livestock, plowing of soil, building fences, industry, single family homes, paved and tarred roads, logging activities, dams and reservoirs, power line construction, and economic systems that fail to set proper value on the environment (capitalism, free markets). There are many more specifically listed on UN documents, but these examples should show clearly how Sustainable Development is not compatible with a free society.

It’s interesting to note that most of the Sustainable Development agenda has not been implemented through congressional legislation, rather through the use of government grants, Executive Order and Public/Private Partnerships between government officials and global corporations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as through non-elected boards and committees. As a result, under the banner “going green,” it has become official policy for federal, state and now local governments. It literally represents a revolution in the way the United States operates; yet voters have had basically no say in its implementation.

Now to the mayors. The 2005 conference was a way for the UN and its NGO cohorts to skip around Congress and head straight to local implementation. As part of their participation, the mayors were pressed to commit to specific legislation and policy goals by signing a slate of UN accords. Two documents were presented for the mayors’ signature.


For example, under the topic of energy, action item #1 called for the mayors to implement a policy to increase the use of “renewable” energy by 10% within seven years. Energy actions items 2 and 3 dealt with reducing energy consumption. These action items are classic examples of the UN trying to go around the U.S. Congress and federal energy policy and force a backdoor implementation of the UN’s Kyoto Accord, which the U.S. has never ratified.


Again, the UNs’ meeting with the mayors took place in 2005. Today in 2008, what are the consequences? Plenty. Meet ICLEI, a non-profit, private foundation, headquartered in Canada, dedicated to helping your mayor implement all of his promises. Originally known as the “International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), today the group simply calls it self “ICLEI — Local Governments for Sustainability.” In 1992, ICLEI was one of the groups instrumental in creating Agenda 21. Now it is driven to help impose it from the local level of government.

Many Americans ask how dangerous international policies can suddenly turn up in state and local government, all seemingly uniform to those in neighboring communities. The answer — groups like ICLEI. The group has made its mission to push local communities to regulate the environment — and it’s having tremendous success. According to a report published by the Capital Research Center, ICLEI is now operating in more than 400 cities in 48 states (except Hawaii and South Dakota). The group is shooting for 1,000 member cities in the next three years. ICLEI is there to help the mayors keep their promises and meet their goals.

Climate change, of course, is the ICLEI mantra. That’s the real excuse for all of the draconian controls and bannings of valuable tools of civilization. ICLEI’s programs are designed to decrease each cities “carbon footprint.” That can be costly to the taxpayers. But mayors, who sign promises on UN documents to ban at least three valuable commodities per year, love them. In fact, ICLEI is very popular with the mayors and city council members because it not only shows the community leaders how to promote climate change, but it also does the work for them. Never mind that cities have to pay dues to ICLEI in order to gain access to their impressive list of programs.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Guantanamo Jury Sentences Al Qaida Video-Maker to Life

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — A military jury Monday convicted Osama bin Laden’s media secretary of war crimes for creating an al Qaeda recruiting video that prosecutors argued incited suicide bombers. Within hours, the jury sentenced him to life in prison.

The convict, Ali Hamza al Bahlul, about 40, responded by breaking his week-long boycott of the trial with a 50-minute anti-American monologue.

He declared his devotion to Allah, berated the United States for the plight of the Palestinians and, noting his election-eve conviction, announced that radical Islam’s war with the West would persist with whoever succeeds President Bush.

“We have fought and we fight and will fight any government that governs America,” said Bahlul. He waved a poem he wrote in Arabic in praise of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, The Storm of the Airplanes.

           — Hat tip: Holger Danske [Return to headlines]

Halal Meat Demand Increasing

Tom Breen,Agweek

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — In a room where farmers in camouflage baseball caps and John Deere jackets mix with women in head scarves, Larry Gardner is scolding himself for forgetting Ramadan last year.

After 30 years raising lambs, the Waverly farmer is learning something new about the business. There’s a growing demand in West Virginia for sheep and goats from Muslim residents tired of traveling hundreds of miles for meats prepared in accordance with their faith’s dietary requirements.

At the same time, West Virginia’s farmers are eager for new customers.

Putting these two constituencies in the same room at the Islamic Center in South Charleston, W.Va., was largely the work of Almeshia Brown, an agriculture and natural resources specialist at West Virginia State University Extension Service who also is a Muslim.

Tired of using the Internet to buy groceries, Brown saw the seminar as a chance to supply a growing ethnic market and bring new customers to state farmers.

About 60 people — farmers, grocery store owners, an imam and a rabbi — met recently for a seminar on getting West Virginia meat onto the tables of Muslims, which included a crash course on halal.

Meaning “lawful” or “permitted,” halal encompasses far more than food. But in dietary matters, it establishes which animals can be eaten and how they must be slaughtered — conscious, upright, the throat cut and the blood drained.

           — Hat tip: Holger Danske [Return to headlines]

Obama’s Secret Nuke Talks With Iran Exposed

Even before election, president began ‘open fist’ negotiations

The Obama administration has quietly initiated previously undisclosed back-channel negotiations with both Iran and Syria, according to an Agence France-Presse report.

Even before winning the November 4 election, Obama initiated “two track” discussions with Iran and Syria, using top-level experts to begin talks, according to Jeffrey Boutwell, the executive director for the U.S. branch of the Pugwash Group, an international organization of scientists who champion international nuclear disarmament.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama Demands 10% Defense Cuts

Budgets $55 billion less on military, $314 billion more on social projects

The Obama administration asked the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff to cut the Pentagon budget for fiscal year 2010 by $55 billion, more than 10 percent of last year’s $512 defense budget.

The announcement came late Friday, following a meeting at the White House between President Obama and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and Gen. Jim Jones, chairman of the National Security Council, according to a Fox News report.

The White House website appears to have no published notice of the Obama directive, nor was there any explanation from the White House how the proposed cuts might affect our military in the field in Iraq and Afghanistan.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

One in 10 Inmates Behind Bars Turns to Islam

Many embrace faith to help ease the desperation of prison

MONROE — The announcement rang out across the open courtyards of the Monroe Correctional Complex.

“Movement is now open.”

Men wearing baggy navy-blue sweatshirts and loose-fitting pants or jeans drifted from one building to the next. They ambled along, laughing with one another and gulping in fresh air. It’s free time, when prisoners who are being held for rape, burglary, murder and other crimes can attend classes or read in the library.

A small group of men, many wearing crocheted skullcaps, filed into a windowless room. They tug off their shoes and ease down cross-legged on thin rugs that have been spread on the floor for the service.

Prison is a tomb or a womb, they say. Either a man wastes his years on the inside and allows bitterness to rot his soul, or he uses the time to quiet the rage or fear or desperation that landed him in prison. Anthony Waller, like many Muslims at Twin Rivers, converted to the faith while behind bars. That changed everything, he said.

“If I wasn’t a Muslim I’d still be in closed custody,” Waller, 31, said, referring to prison facilities that strictly control prisoners with violent pasts.

“Or, I’d be dead,” he said.

Waller, who doesn’t expect to see freedom until 2033, attends a Muslim prison service every week with dozens of other men who have converted to the faith since being locked away. These “prison Muslims” are among the fastest-growing religious groups in U.S. correctional facilities.

A movement that began in the 1970s under Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to evangelize inmates has evolved into one of the most effective religious rehabilitation agendas in the U.S. Imams under the Nation of Islam continue to draw converts, but most Muslims in prison today are Sunnis, said Lawrence Mamiya, a professor at Vassar College who has studied Muslim prison ministries.

Mamiya estimates that about 10 percent of all prison inmates have converted to Islam. Using his estimate, about 1,800 of the state’s 18,000 inmates would be Muslim.

           — Hat tip: Holger Danske [Return to headlines]

The Stimulus Shell Game

When the US House of Representatives passed President Barack Obama’s stimulus package on Wed., Jan. 28, 2009 it was an $819 billion boondoggle (on top of another $800 billion taxpayer-funded bank-bailout on top of a $15 billion auto industry bailout) that will become an $890 billion bailout when the Senate version of the bill is enacted next week. In the second stimulus package in as many months, there is about $400 billion of actual money to stimulate the economy. The balance is pork. Not a single House Republican voted in favor of the legislation. In a bipartisan spirit, 11 Democrats crossed the aisle and voted against the Democratic leadership. The vote was 247 ayes, 188 nays.

Here’s why. Sen. David Vitter [R-LA] revealed to the public on Jan. 29 that the Obama people inserted a $5.2 billion “stimulus” in the stimulus package that will reward the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now [ACORN] for flipping the traditionally Red States that Obama needed to become the 44th President of the United States. Nationwide, ACORN, using deliberately-created loopholes the Motor Voter Law (enacted by the Democratically-controlled Congress in 1993 to help Bill Clinton win reelection in 1994) that were tailored specifically for this type of vote fraud). ACORN, using the vetting flaws in the law, created from 9.5 to 15.2 million “new” voters who were not legally eligible to cast those votes in the Election of 2008 because many of them were illegal aliens or they simply didn’t exist because they were the result of multiple registrations by the same people. Since 1993, the far left has created over 20 million registered voters from resident aliens, the Daly Dead (which, under Clinton, spread from Chicago to every urban center in the nation), to minors under the legal voting age, felons who could not legally vote, and illegal aliens.


The Democrats know that ACORN was singularly responsible for their regaining control of Congress in 2006 and securing a virtually veto-proof majority in 2008 (which technically means the Republicans can’t stop them from doing whatever they want). Political pundits, looking at the known instances of vote fraud, estimate that only 3 to 5 million, or 30% to 35% of the registrations generated by ACORN and other civil rights community activists, were actually legitimate. ACORN’s voter advocacy in 2007-08 was accomplished with about $5.8 million—with a “M.” Imagine how much damage to honest elections ACORN could generate with $5.2 billion—with a “B.” It’s understandable why Obama and the far left wants to endow ACORN. With a $5 billion “get-out-the-vote” nest egg for the far left voter advocacy group that has shown it can magically multiply the value of the ballots cast by the voters it registers through the Motor Voter Law, ACORN will be able to manipulate the texture of the vote in almost evenly Congressional district in the country, virtually guaranteeing that conservatives will never again be able to control Congress, and only with great difficulty, succeed in winning the White House.


The Democrats are in pig heaven. They’ve never seen a pork bill they didn’t fall in love with, and they’ve never passed up an opportunity to enlarge government. It’s not often they get both in the same bill…well…no…with the Democrats having a 1933 FDR majority in both Houses, we can expect that every piece of legislation coming out of Congress at least until 2010 will enlarge both the national debt and the size and scope of government. If this nation does not prosecute ACORN for vote fraud, repeal the Motor Voter Law and invalidate all registrations created under the bad law, and force those registrants to refile and prove their eligibility to vote, you will find the elections in Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea and communist China will be more honest than those in the United States.


The only “breathe of fresh air” measure in the legislation, already being attacked by the liberal press, was inserted in the House version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 by 13th term Congressman Peter Visclosky [D-IN]. The Senate version was proffered by Byron Dorgan [N-ND]. Dorgan’s measure mandates that all construction projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 must use infrastructure materials, particularly steel, that were made in the United States. The “Buy American” provision came right out of the playbook of Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression. While FDR-student Obama privately eschews the Vischlosky-Dorgan amendment, publicly “Buy American” has a vote-getting patriotic ring to it.

The Obama Administration will fight hard to sabotage that provision in the Senate bill and, if necessary, to surreptitiously drop it out of the bill in joint conference when the patriotic public is no longer watching what they believe is “enacted law.”

On Jan. 30 Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs said he would “…review that particular provision…[the president’s advisers understand that]…all of the concerns that have been heard, not only in this room, but in newspapers produced both up north and down south.” When asked by the press corp, Gibbs refused to say what Obama will do if the provision is still in the legislation when the bill hits his desk. I suspect the Solicitor General of the United States will file a lawsuit with the Supreme Court to remove it. After all, what could be worse in an American stimulus package than a measure that would require US government contractors to actually buy American products to stimulate the economy? […]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


Canada: ‘Mummy, Don’t’: Woman Kills Her Only Daughter, 12, After Boyfriend Says, ‘It’s the Child or Me’

A mother has pleaded guilty to murdering her only child after being told by her boyfriend: ‘It’s her or me’.

Penny Boudreau strangled her 12-year-old daughter Karissa in a twisted bid to stop her boyfriend from ending their affair.

The heartless mother ignored her terrified daughter’s cries of ‘Mummy, don’t!’ as she pinned her to the ground and wrapped a rope around her neck, prosecutor Paul Scovi told a Canadian court.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Books: Turkey No Longer Guest of Honour at Paris 2010 Fair

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, JANUARY 29 — Turkey was to have been the guest of honour at the Paris Book Fair in March 2010, at the end of the Year of Turkey in France which will get underway in July 2009, and as part of the events for Istanbul’s position as 2010 Capital of European Culture. However, the national union in charge of organizing the Fair has decided to dedicate next year’s event to the celebration of its 30th anniversary, and to renounce having a guest of honour for this purpose. Reports were in the weekly L’Express, which confirmed rumours going round over the past few days and posed the question as to whether this was the real reason for the choice. “Has the fear of fresh polemics over such things as Armenia, the Kurdish issue and European integration have once more taken precedence over the criticism sparked by the choice of Israel as guest of honour for 2008?,” was the question asked by the paper, which spoke on the vitality of the publishing industry in Turkey and the large-scale success of the Turkish stands at the last Frankfurt Book Fair, where it was the guest of honour. On the latter occasion, Orhan Pamuk had accused the Turkish state of continuing to punish Turkish authors. According to the newspaper, Turkish publishers were very upset over the matter, and talks are underway to try and set up some sort of homage to Turkish literature as an accessory event to the French celebrations for the 30 years of the Fair.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Cyprus Flagged Ship Causes State a Headache

The Government is taking all the necessary steps to overcome the issue of a Cypriot flagged ship, that has docked at Limassol Port, House President Marios Garoyian has said.

It has been reported that the Russian-owned ship is carrying arms that originated from Iran.

As a result, it was forced by an American military vessel to dock at Limassol Port.

Speaking here Sunday, Garoyian noted that the issue requires patience, and careful handlings.

“For that reason, I would not like to say in detail what has to be done”, he said, adding that “the less we talk about this issue in public, the better”.

“I know that the Government is making all the necessary moves. And not only the Government, but also several other people are trying to help in order the problem to be solved in the best possible way for Cyprus”, he added.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Finland: Pregnant Substance Abusers May Face Involuntary Commitment

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is proposing that expectant mothers with substance abuse problems be committed against their will if the unborn child is deemed in danger.

Under current laws, the state may intervene to commit pregnant women for up to five days on foetal health protection grounds. A working group under the ministry now wants to see the period for forced commitment extended to 30 days and that women could be held for the entire duration of their pregnancies, should the situation warrant it.

The working group, however, underscores the importance of preventive drug treatment services, and it says involuntary commitment is considered a final resort after all other avenues have been exhausted.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Finmeccanica: E-Geos Gets 180m-Euro Cosmo-Skymed Contract

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JANUARY 28 — E-GEOS, a company made up of Telespazio (Finmeccanica/Thales) and the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (Italian Space Agency), has signed a contract worth 180 million euros with the Luxembourg company 4C Satellite Images & Technologies SA (4C), for the exclusive commercialisation rights in North Africa-the Middle East and in South East Asia of radar observation data of the Earth from COSMO-SkyMed Italian satellites. On the basis of the agreement, the 4C company will have exclusive distribution rights on COSMO-SkyMed data in North Africa and the Middle East for the next 10 years. In addition, 4C will be acquiring a station for the reception and elaboration of COSMO-Skymed data which will be installed in the area of GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries. The agreement also provides for the underwriting with 4C of an accessory contract for non-exclusive distribution rights on COSMO-Skymed products in almost all African countries, which the parties involved intend to negotiate and underwrite before July 31 2009.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Firms’ Secret Tax Avoidance Schemes Cost UK Billions

British taxpayers are being left to plug a multibillion-pound hole in the public finances as hundreds of the country’s biggest companies increasingly employ complex and secretive tax arrangements to limit the amount they hand over to the exchequer.

An extensive Guardian investigation has examined the accounts of the UK’s biggest companies — many of them household names — and discovered a series of sophisticated tax strategies which, critics say, amount to an almost unstoppable tide of perfectly legal corporate tax avoidance.

The veil of confidentiality that covers these tax avoidance schemes is so difficult to penetrate that nobody knows exactly how much tax goes missing each year. But HM Revenue & Customs estimated that the size of the tax gap could be anything between £3.7bn and £13bn. The Commons public accounts committee put it at a possible £8.5bn and the TUC said £12bn.

UK listed companies are not required to set out exactly how much UK corporation tax they actually hand over to HM Revenue & Customs. When the Guardian asked each FTSE 100 company to provide this information only two offered a response.

Similarly each company was asked what its official policy on so-called tax planning is and how this is implemented. No company was prepared to answer the question directly. However, the investigation, which we publish over coming days, has established that:

• The UK-based drinks giant Diageo plc has transferred ownership of brands worth billions of pounds, including Johnnie Walker, J&B and Gilbey’s gin, to a subsidiary in the Netherlands where profits accrued virtually tax-free. Despite average profits of £2bn a year, it paid an average of £43m a year in UK tax — little more than 2% of its overall profits.

• Two major drug firms have shifted ownership of their brands to tax havens in the Caribbean. Their UK operations can then be made to pay royalties for the use of the trademarks, reducing their profits and the amount of tax due in this country.

• An internationally renowned corporation has structured itself so that it is now simultaneously a British public company, tax-resident in Amsterdam, but whose brands are Swiss-owned.

• The makers of an iconic British food product have shifted the rights in it to a tax haven in Switzerland.

• A household name has been deliberately loaded with debt so that it no longer has any profits to pay tax on.

• Top accountancy firms are charging £500,000 a time to invent tax-avoidance schemes.

• Some UK-listed companies which have moved control to Dublin to benefit from Ireland’s low-tax regime appear to have little real presence there.

According to the National Audit Office, in 2006 more than 60% of Britain’s 700 biggest companies paid less than £10m corporation tax, and 30% paid nothing.

Britain’s top taxman, Dave Hartnett, told the Commons public accounts committee last year that 12 major corporations had “extinguished all tax liabilities in 2005-6” thanks to avoidance schemes.

Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrats’ deputy leader, said last night: “The scale of corporate tax-dodging exposed by the Guardian research is absolutely mind-boggling. It will deeply anger households and businesses who pay their fair share.

“The baroque complexities of corporate tax-avoidance schemes are similar to the elaborate structures which have now devastated a substantial part of the banking system. The tax authorities should stop trying to compete in the complexity stakes and apply the general principle that if companies deliberately seek to avoid taxation they should be penalised and charged.”

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, overall tax receipts — including personal income tax — will be £7bn lower next year than forecast as a result of the downturn. The respected thinktank says key Labour programmes face being squeezed, in particular health and education spending. The result, say unions and campaigners, is that ordinary taxpayers have to make up the difference. If the TUC estimate of £12bn is correct, it takes the average income tax contribution of 2.4m households just to fill the gap left by the perfectly legal tax manoeuvres of big business. That £12bn is the equivalent of around 480 new schools, 300 hospitals or more than 1.3m new nursery places.

Today, is also launching a unique interactive database of the corporation tax figures recorded in the accounts of each FTSE 100 compay in the last four years. It reveals the low amounts of tax paid by some, and a reluctance to supply meaningful numbers to the public.

Despite their efforts to shift profits out of the country and minimise UK tax, the companies enjoy a range of important benefits by being based in Britain and listed on the London stock exchange.

This has given them access to one of the widest pools of capital in the world; they have enjoyed light-touch but respected regulation and high corporate governance standards; and it has enhanced their international reputations to be listed in the UK, helping them to attract the best talent. Companies here also benefit from political stability and — perhaps most important of all — the directors want to live near London

Many of the companies the Guardian looked at are already feeling the effects of the recession on their profits so their tax bills will go down. But campaigners insist that this makes the task of collecting maximum tax revenues more, rather than less, urgent. Failure to do so, they say, will put a massive strain on public finances already being stretched to breaking-point.

Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, said: “Tax avoidance is hollowing out the tax system. With the rest of us having to fill the tax gap left by Britain’s most wealthy, there is a real threat to the future of public services — especially as the recession takes its toll on normal tax flows.

“It will be hard to maintain public support for tax when it looks increasingly optional for big companies and the super-rich, who increasingly float free from the network of mutual obligations that underpin any civilised society.”

As they watch tax receipts dwindle through a combination of legal avoidance schemes and economic downturn, governments also face international pressure to crack down on the entirely separate problem of illegal tax evasion.

In the US, Barack Obama introduced the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act in 2007 when he was still just an Illinois senator. Obama and his fellow sponsors of the act, Democrat Carl Levin and Republican Norm Coleman, claimed the US annual tax gap was approaching $100bn. “We need to crack down on individuals and businesses that abuse our tax laws so that those who work hard and play by the rules aren’t disadvantaged,” Obama said.

Political concern is growing across Europe. German chancellor Angela Merkel launched hostilities against individual tax evaders after her secret service bought computer discs from a whistleblower detailing the bank accounts of thousands of wealthy Germans in the tiny Alpine tax haven of Liechtenstein.

In Britain, the Revenue paid £100,000 for the same information about individual UK tax dodgers and is now pursuing them. And just before Christmas, Alastair Darling, the chancellor, launched a potentially explosive review of British-linked tax havens.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Indian Immigrant Set on Fire in Italy

ROME (AP) Italian police have arrested three young men for allegedly beating and setting on fire an Indian immigrant who was sleeping on a train station bench in a seaside town near Rome, investigators said Monday.

The attack on the 35-year-old man in Nettuno sparked outrage in Italy and fueled a debate on attitudes toward immigrants.

Carabinieri paramilitary police said the three poured gasoline on the man early Sunday, then set him on fire. The man was hospitalized with severe leg burns but is expected to survive, Italian state radio said.

The mood among some citizens has turned ugly in recent years following the arrest of immigrants as suspects in several high-profile crimes, including the slaying of an Italian admiral’s wife in suburban Rome and the rape of a young Italian woman in the countryside near Rome.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano warned in a statement against “any display and risk of xenophobia, racism and violence.”

Police said the suspects in the Nettuno attack include a 16-year-old and a 19-year-old. The third suspect is 29.

Investigators said the suspects apparently had been using drugs and alcohol.

“We can exclude racism as a motive because they were so high,” Carabinieri Maj. Emanuele Gaeta told SKY TG24 TV.

Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative government has been cracking down on illegal immigration in Italy, which surveys show many citizens link to crime.

His top security official, Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, told reporters the Nettuno violence “isn’t a racist attack. It’s something worse,” he said, a lack of fundamental values in society.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Extra 10 Million Euros for Moroccan Youths

The government has earmarked an additional 10 million euros to help underprivileged youths of Moroccan origin. The money will be used to deploy more coaches in troubled neighbourhoods. The coaches will approach youths in the streets, accompany them to school, help with them homework and teach them social skills. The cabinet also unveiled a raft of other measures, including neighbourhood bans and teaching support for parents. The cabinet stressed that the Moroccan youths not only cause problems but also have problems of their own.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Political Scientist Criticizes Iceland’s New Government

Political scientist Baldur Thórhallsson said the Social Democrat-Left-Green coalition that was appointed yesterday is weak since it is backed by only a minority of MPs and that appointing ministers who do not have a seat in parliament is undemocratic.

“They are strengthening the expertise within the government, but these appointments aren’t exactly democratic,” Thórhallsson told Fréttabladid. “These new ministers have not been elected to parliament and therefore were not granted democratic authority from the nation.”

“It makes one wonder whether the government parties do not have people that are knowledgeable enough in these areas to be suited for these ministries,” Thórhallsson added.

Gylfi Magnússon, associate professor in economics at the University of Iceland, was appointed minister of business affairs yesterday and Ragna Árnadóttir, former undersecretary of the minister of justice, as minister of justice.

Thórhallsson is doubtful that the minority government will be able to undertake much before the upcoming elections, scheduled for April 25.

“The government is only backed by 27 MPs. The opposition has 29 MPs and therefore the government requires support from the Progressive Party on every single bill that it proposes,” Thórhallsson said. “The government also has very limited time because the parliament will most likely go on vacation a few weeks before the elections.”

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Savage Attack at Nettuno, Near Rome. Three Youths Detained. One Has Confessed.

Democratic Party (PD) and People of Freedom (PDL) clash over “climate of hatred”

Three Italian youths set fire to an Indian man in the early hours of yesterday morning. F.S., from Ardea and at 16 the youngest of the three, confessed yesterday evening. “We were looking for a dosser to wind up…”. At 4 am, they found one in Nettuno railway station, lying on the second bench to the left of platform number one. There were no witnesses. At the time, the station was open but unsupervised because trains no longer use it at night. There is no security and no CCTV.

The Indian man, 35-year-old Singh Navte, was asleep on the bench. Four months ago, he lost his job as a building labourer and no longer has enough money to pay for somewhere safe to sleep. Just a month ago, a group of unidentified attackers left him with knife scars. The three Italians, F.S. and Nettuno residents Gianluca C., 19, and Francesco B., 28, were all arrested on charges of attempted murder. F.S. was taken to the “Virginia Angeli” remand home in Rome and the two older men were detained in prison at Velletri.

The three told Carabinieri officers that they were looking to “round off the evening with something spectacular”, a tragic end to yet another Saturday night binge involving drug and alcohol abuse.

Initially, there were fears that the attack was racially motivated in the wake of the appalling incident at Guidonia ten days ago, when a 21-year-old Italian woman was raped by four Romanians.

Investigators, however, ruled out political motives and this time the attackers all speak Italian. “Yesterday, immigrants were the culprits; today they are victims”, said Rome’s mayor, Gianni Alemanno, when he visited Singh Navte in the Sant’Eugenio hospital yesterday. Luckily, Mr Singh survived the attack but he was left with third-degree burns to his legs, hands, feet, abdomen and part of his neck.

“Winding up the dosser” turned out to involve paint. The three, who had filled a bottle with petrol at a nearby garage, also had a spray can of grey paint and sprayed Mr Singh’s face and neck before setting fire to him and beating him up. “I didn’t realise what was going on at first”, Mr Singh told the Indian ambassador in hospital. “Then the three attacked me. They went berserk. They wanted to kill me. One sprayed paint in my face and another threw liquid onto my legs. I thought it was water, and that they were just having a laugh, but then the third got out a lighter and set me on fire. Straight away, I could feel my legs burning so I tried to tear off my trousers…” Mr Singh’s statement proved crucial. He was able to identify two of the three men from identification photographs.

The trio had started drinking early, visiting a number of bars before setting off in a Peugeot 206 to look for some action in the streets of Nettuno. Investigators searching their homes found a DVD of “The Warriors” [known as “Guerrieri della notte”, or “Night Warriors” in Italy — Trans.], a film title that says it all. About 3.30 am, a patrol from the local Carabinieri station stopped and identified the three youths, who had already been identified a few weeks ago when they had been “acting silly” in the town centre. Then half an hour later, a man called the 112 emergency number: “Come quickly, someone’s set a dosser on fire”. Officers put two and two together and picked the men up from their homes at breakfast time.

Politicians were quick to condemn the incident. The leader of the Chamber of Deputies, Gianfranco Fini, called it “racist violence and criminal hooliganism”. “An act of incivility that casts a serious shadow over Italy’s well-established principles of tolerance and hospitality”, added the leader of the Senate, Renato Schifani. “Episodes of criminal intolerance like this are the result of xenophobic sermonising and a deliberately created climate of hatred and fear”, commented PD secretary Walter Veltroni in a note criticising the government. “Before airing political theorems, you need to understand what the real motive is for yet another barbaric act of violence”, responded Rome’s mayor, Gianni Alemanno. “I believe the government has always been very coherent about distinguishing individual responsibility for crime”.

Fabrizio Caccia 02 febbraio 2009

English translation by Giles Watson

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Outrage Over Language Ban Proposal

Elementary students in Sweden with foreign backgrounds should no longer be allowed to study maths in their native languages, according to a Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) working group.

[Comment from Tuan Jim: Why was this even happening? Math terms are generally simple enough that it should be easy to transition to Swedish (or any language) — not like reading literature or something.]

“We are very skeptical toward the experiment taking place around Sweden right now, with maths being taught in Arabic. The risk is that it will worsen students’ development of Swedish language skills,” said Christer Nylander, a Liberal Riksdag member and head of the party’s working group on education policy, to the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

The proposal has drawn criticism from the Green Party, which wants to give children and young people who come to Sweden from other countries the right to learn both maths and English in their mother tongue.

“It’s not only effective for teaching mathematics, but it’s also been shown to be effective for learning Swedish. The Liberal Party is going against everything they stand for with this idiocy,” Green Party spokesperson Maria Wetterstrand told SvD.

“The goal still must be to have more students leave elementary school with passing marks in maths, Swedish and English. There are no rational grounds for taking a measure as coercive as a ban.”

Nylander contends that research into the success of teaching subjects in students’ native language are inclusive, pointing to a study by the European Forum on Migration Studies, carried out at the request of the European Commission.

“It’s not supported by international research that it results in positive results in the subject,” he said.

However Carla Jonsson, a researcher at the Centre for Research on Bilingualism (Centrum för tvåspråkighetsforskning) at Stockholm University, thinks the ban would not only prevent learning in students’ mother tongues, but that their knowledge of the subject and of the Swedish language would also suffer.

“It would also send out the signal that minority languages aren’t worth anything and lead to students feeling a diminished desire to learn Swedish,” she told the newspaper.

The working group’s proposal is set to be reviewed at the Liberal Party’s national meeting in November.

According to 2007 statistics from the National Education Agency (Skolverket), more than 18,000 elementary school students in Sweden receive lessons in Arabic, more than any other foreign language. Second most common is Spanish, with 5,000 students being taught, followed by Albanian, Bosnian, Somali and Persian.

Roughly 3,900 school children receive lessons in English, the seventh most common language represented in the agency’s statistics.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Three Charged in ‘Romario’ Killing

Three young men were charged on Monday for the murder of 23-year-old Ahmed “Romario” Ibrahim Ali, who was stabbed to death north of Stockholm in October.

A fight broke out between the suspects, all of whom hail from the nearby suburb of Spånga, and Ibrahim Ali and a group of his friends near an exit from the E4 motorway toward Kista.

An 18-year-old stands charged for the actual murder and for the attempted murder of two additional men who received life threatening injuries.

A 20-year-old and a 16-year-old have also been charged for being accomplices to all three crimes.

The 18-year-old primary suspect has confessed to stabbing all three victims, explaining that he had been assaulted earlier in the evening.

He claims that he was acting in self defence.

The other two suspects deny they committed any crime.

Ibrahim Ali was a promising footballer and popular figure in his home suburb of nearby Husby, serving as something of a role model for many in the predominantly immigrant neighbourhood.

His killing prompted an outpouring of public sympathy, as well as calls for more resources to combat violence among the area’s young people.

In November, Sergels Torg — a central square in downtown Stockholm — was filled with hundreds of young people from neighbourhoods surrounding Ibrahim Ali’s home to honour his memory and encourage the area’s youth to refrain from violence.

The trial of the three suspects is set to start on Monday, February 9th in Attunda District Court.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Terror Financing Trial Underway in Malmö

Security was tight at a Malmö courthouse as proceedings began on Monday to determine whether or not donations to the Swedish chapter of a Palestinian foundation were being used to support Hamas.

All visitors were subject to a search as they entered the Malmö District Court for the trial of Khalid al-Yousef, the 44-year-old head of the al-Aqsa Spannmål, the Swedish branch of the al-Aqsa Foundation.

The foundation has collected more than 4 million kronor ($476,000) which it contends is used to help support Palestinian orphans and other humanitarian efforts. But prosecutors allege that al-Aqsa funds were sent to Hamas.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Agnetha Hilding Qvarnström explained that everything related to the Palestinian question is politically explosive, referencing the recent escalation between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza.

“The case isn’t about taking a stance in the conflict, but about the fact that Hamas has been labeled a terrorist organization by the EU,” she said.

She then began reviewing the history of Hamas, its bylaws, and leadership, arguing that Hamas had established itself through violence and that the organization had “suicide bombers as a trademark”.

In her case, Hilding Qvarnström will attempt to show that al-Aqsa spannmål sent money to organizations with ties to Hamas and in so doing contributed to the deaths of innocent people in Israel.

“I assert that they have ties to Hamas and that’s what I intend to prove,” she told the Sydsvenskan newspaper.

As a part of her case, Hilding Qvarnström plans to call a witness from Interpal, a UK-based organization which directs aid to Palestinians.

The witness is expected to confirm that Interpal and al-Aqsa spannmål are both part of the Union of Good, an umbrella organization the US claims was created by Hamas leaders to facilitate financial transactions for Hamas.

Back in 2003, the United States requested that Swedish authorities freeze al-Aqsa Spannmål’s assets because it suspected the group was funneling money to Hamas.

The group’s accounts were frozen in 2006 and Al-Yousef was arrested on suspicions of preparing acts of terrorism and general destruction.

However, he was later released due to lack of evidence.

He now stands charged with crimes against Sweden’s terror financing and sanctions laws. If convicted for the first crime, al-Yousef faces a penalty of six months to six years in prison.

One of those in attendance at the trial said that she had sent thousands of kronor to al-Aqsa spannmål, and is very upset about the charges against al-Yousef.

“I’ve sent money to children who don’t have any parents, they have no place to live; they’re starving. I’ve sent it to the children, not to Hamas,” she told the TT news agency.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Sweden Set to Legalise Same-Sex Marriage by May

Sweden is edging closer towards officially approving gay marriage now that three of the four parties in the ruling government coalition have joined forces and tabled a motion to legalise the controversial unions by 1 May. Of the four parties in the Alliance government, only the Christian Democrats are holding out. The Local newspaper reports that they are opposed to using the term “marriage” when referring to gay unions.

The Liberals, the Centre Party, and the conservative Moderates, however, are all behind the new law that would remove the reference to marriage as being restricted to a union between a man and a woman. The motion before parliament reads: “Regardless of sexual orientation, people in stable couple relationships have a need to manifest their feelings and their desire to live together.”

At present, homosexuals may only register their union in a civil ceremony, and are barred from taking part in a church ceremony. Even the opposition Social Democrats, Sweden’s largest political group, support the measure so there should be little to stop the law from being passed in parliament.

If the new law does pass, Sweden will become the seventh country to allow full same sex marriage rights. Sweden has pioneered the way for gay unions to get equal legal status as heterosexual married couples since 1995, and this progressive-minded nation looks set to raise the bar again.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Swedish School Pupils Falling Behind

Swedish pupils still perform above average in the majority of international studies conducted over the last 20 years, the Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) has concluded.

But performance has declined and Swedish pupils are falling behind.

“The development is comprehensively negative,” the agency has concluded in a new study compiling results from both international and national studies completed in recent decades.

The new survey broadly confirms the analysis made by the education minister, Jan Björklund. His interpretation of the agency’s statistics has been questioned by opposition politicians and led to him commissioning a comprehensive study.

Sweden is above average in reading comprehension in all the surveys. In the natural sciences Sweden had been above average in all the studies until 2007 when it fell below in one of them.

In maths Swedish pupils are currently above or on the average in all studies.

The reason behind Sweden’s relative decline with regards to results is not only due to improvements in the performance of pupils in comparable countries, the agency explained.

“Sweden’s results in the surveys are declining,” according to the agency. The period under consideration is from 1991 to 2007.

Jan Björklund was quick to point the finger at the opposition after the agency published its findings.

“The opposition has to lift its head out of the sand. It is the Social Democrats that over 30 years have created the schools policy that has led to this problem, and they now have to re-think. I understand that they had hoped that the education agency would find fault in my judgement, but the board does not.”

Björklund expressed concern over the development and called for action.

“The situation is very worrying. The results are declining in key subjects in Swedish schools, and that is why education policy is being quite radically restructured,” he said.

Marie Granlund, the education spokesperson for the opposition Social Democracts, denied however that the agency’s findings support the minister’s description of the situation.

“No. Of course not! But that is not the same thing as saying that there are not challenges to be faced. The report clearly shows that he has made a mess of the statistics. That he throws around words that are very, very exaggerated and creates a picture that the Swedish schools system as in crisis.”

“I think that the most important thing is that we address the problem.”

The education agency’s director-general Per Thullberg concludes that the development in Swedish schools is concerning.

“It is serious when 25 percent of the pupils in Swedish schools can not cope with the basic school subjects. It is serious when ten percent of school pupils do not have sufficient knowledge to get into upper secondary school programmes (gymnasium). It is serious when Swedish pupils lose ground in comparison with those in other countries and perform worse in real terms,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Switzerland: “What Motivates Bankers? Vanity”

UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank, is back in the headlines with its decision to give its employees bonuses for 2008 — a year when its losses ran into billions.

swissinfo spoke to business ethicist Ulrich Thielemann of St Gallen University about why the move has provoked such an outcry, and whether bonuses can ever be justified.

The government gave UBS a rescue package worth SFr6 billion ($5.3 billion) in October, so the fact that the bank is now paying out SFr2 billion in bonuses — and initially wanted to pay more — has not gone down well with the public or the media.

The bank claims that the fixed pay of many employees is relatively low but has traditionally been increased by a variable element, whose amount depends partly on their own performance and partly on the performance of the bank.

swissinfo: Once again UBS is paying its employees billions of francs in bonuses. The public, politicians and the media think this is a scandal. What about you?

Ulrich Thielemann: My initial reaction was that this really was giving out the wrong signal. It’s true that you could argue, as Finma (the Federal Financial Market Supervisory Authority) does, that it’s hard to cap these bonuses because then the employees could in principle just up and leave.

swissinfo: Where would they go?

U.T.: That’s what any headhunter is wondering too. That’s why I said “in principle”. It’s questionable whether people would run off to the competition. You keep hearing that it’s the best people who would go. But those who are only prepared to work hard for a company if they get millions of francs as a reward are certainly not the best people. It doesn’t matter if you are a top manager or an investment banker: if you only work hard for the sake of getting an exorbitant bonus, you disqualify yourself.

The fact that the bank openly wanted to pay significantly higher remunerations than the regulatory authority did reflects badly on the integrity of the UBS top management.

Business ethicist Ulrich Thielemann (zvg)swissinfo: What’s wrong with the principle of bonuses?

U.T.: The problem is that they corrupt people. They undermine their professionalism. That’s why I am calling for performance-related pay, for incentives, to be drastically reduced or even done away with completely. They destroy a company’s integrity.

But you can’t get rid of them merely in one company, not even somewhere as big as UBS. It wouldn’t even work in a single country — it has to happen globally. Otherwise the only enterprises that investors will seek out — in other words give money to — are those whose employees fling themselves body and soul into increasing shareholder value by whatever means.

swissinfo: Finma chairman and former UBS manager Eugen Haltiner has come in for strong criticism. The left are even calling for his resignation. What’s your opinion of the regulatory authorities?

U.T.: This body needs to include representatives who take customers’ concerns into account, for example consumer groups.

And that brings us to the main problem: taking a different view of what sound management is. If you only have bankers in a body like this, it is very likely that they won’t have this other way at looking at sound management. The way they see it, the economy is governed by their own interests. We’re back to “shareholder value”. That applies both to financiers and to employees; they make a bargain with each other.

swissinfo: How come bank managers are so insensitive, almost blind, to popular feeling? Do they simply not care about criticism from the public, from politicians and from the media?

U.T.: I don’t think it’s that they don’t care about it. I always say, when people ask about the causes of the financial crisis, that it is to do with market credibility. Which includes the credibility of the regulatory authorities, the central banks. They say the more profit is made, the better for all. That’s the implicit justification for what they do. They absorb that idea as part of their studies, you could say.

And what motivates the bankers? Vanity. What do they want these high salaries for? Not for the actual value of the money, to enable them to buy all kinds of nice things. In a way that’s something they couldn’t care less about. They see these bonuses as status symbols. And with this fixation on status, people tend to overlook the rather bad status they have among the public.

And yet people do look up to you when you have millions to throw around. It is extremely difficult for bankers to get away from this kind of thinking.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Switzerland: Leuthard Says Bank Wage Gap is “Too Large”

Economics Minister Doris Leuthard has called for increased transparency at Switzerland’s largest bank, UBS, and says salaries paid to bankers are too high.

“For me, it is clear that the wage gap between the banking sector and other sectors has become too large,” Leuthard told the Berner Zeitung newspaper on Saturday. “Bankers’ wages must fall, that is clear for me.”

Her comments come after UBS announced a SFr2 billion ($1.72 billion) bonus package for its employees despite losing billions in 2008.

“I am of the opinion that UBS must quickly show greater transparency,” Leuthard said. “[Salary] information should be provided before the annual meeting. Then, perhaps everything will be justifiable and transparent.”

UBS wrote down $49 billion last year and turned over around $60 billion in toxic assets to the Swiss National Bank. The federal government has also agreed to inject SFr6 billion of fresh capital into UBS in exchange for a 9.3 per cent stake.

UBS still expects to lose SFr8 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Terror Concern Rises in Germany

Security officials in Germany are concerned that terrorists may be targeting the country ahead of general elections in September. A top crime fighter says recent threat videos show “parallels to the situation in Spain” before the March, 2004 attacks there.

So far in this mega-election year in Germany, it has been easy to forget that there is a general election campaign just around the corner. In addition to numerous state elections, voters will be asked to head to the polls in September in a vote that will determine whether Chancellor Angela Merkel will be able to keep her job or not. But neither she nor her opponent from the Social Democrats, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, have taken many steps down the campaign trail.

According to German security officials, though, Islamist terrorists may already be developing a plan of attack for 2009. And Germany may be high up on the target list.

“The Islamists apparently want to influence Germany’s election year 2009,” said August Henning, a senior deputy in the Interior Ministry, in the tabloid Bild am Sonntag. In other comments to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Hanning said that Germany “has moved well up the list of terrorist target countries.”

Hanning isn’t the only one who is concerned. Jörg Ziercke, who heads up the Federal Criminal Police Office, said over the weekend that “we have observed meaningful parallels to the situation in Spain.” He was referring to the March 11, 2004 terrorist attacks in Madrid that killed 191 people just days before general elections there…

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

UK: Cricket Team Told it Can’t Call Itself ‘The Crusaders’…in Case it Offends Muslims and Jews

A cricket team has been forced to change its name after angry complaints from Muslims and Jews. The Middlesex Crusaders, who have played under the name for almost 10 years, will play next season as The Panthers. Bosses at the county club acted after protests about the name from Jewish and Muslim communities, who said they felt it was a reference to the religious wars waged by Christians in Europe against other faiths.

But Middlesex members condemned the decision to change the team’s name and described the move as “batty”. “The world really has gone mad,” one said. “It’s a real kick in the teeth and is bound to upset a lot of fans.” Middlesex chief executive Vinny Codrington said his club “had one or two complaints from our Muslim community and our Jewish community”. “The name was nothing whatsoever to do with the Crusades in the 11th and 12th century,” Mr Codrington said. Middlesex, which plays most of its home games at Lord’s in St John’s Wood, won the 2008 Twenty20 Cup.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

UK: EU Database ‘Vital to Trace Terrorists’

Britain’s police forces are still unable to use a pan-European database of criminals, prompting warnings that this could hinder their ability to track terror suspects entering Europe ahead of the Olympics.

The UK was given access to sensitive information on criminal and policing matters held on the Schengen Information System, an EU-wide directory, in 2000, but there have been repeated technical problems.

Baroness Ludlow, the Liberal Democrat spokeswoman on home affairs in the European parliament, called the hold-up “absolutely crazy”. “The government keeps claiming crime is falling; well, it could do even more to cut crime if it takes advantage of this arrangement,” she said.

Experts say the database could form a powerful weapon in the fight against crime and terrorism. In the past, Home Office officials have said that connecting British forces to the system had proved impossible due to technical difficulties and “acts of God”, such as a fire that destroyed vital IT equipment.

The government insists it is keen to sign up to a new, bigger database — SIS II — that will include information provided by eastern European countries. This was due to be implemented in 2007 but, following a legal row with a contractor, the deadline has been pushed back.

Ben Hayes, of the privacy campaign group Statewatch, said there were concerns about the database’s size and scope — and its use to store allegations as well as proven facts.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

UK: GP ‘Told Husband He Was Treating for Depression: I’M Having an Affair With Your Wife’

A tearful husband accused his family doctor of ‘ripping out his heart’ by conducting a secret affair with his wife, allegedly while treating him for depression.

The father-of-two told how he became suspicious after his wife of 20 years went on a trip to Paris with the married GP, Dr Henry Kinch, supposedly to attend a conference.

On Monday he gave an emotional account of the resulting confrontation to the General Medical Council, where the doctor is accused of misconduct.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: My Little Girl Lost Both Legs to Meningitis Because Our GP Refused to Make a Home Visit

Jodie Cross looked on in despair as her daughter Lydia was violently sick again. She knew the two-year-old was seriously ill, but she was facing an uphill battle to prove it.

Lydia had appeared unwell three days earlier, on a Friday evening. When her father Tony, a policeman, took her to see an out-of-hours doctor, he diagnosed a virus and said there was nothing to worry about.

By Sunday, the little girl’s condition had deteriorated. This time, a different doctor diagnosed an ear infection. ‘He prescribed antibiotics, even though I said Lydia wouldn’t be able to keep them down as she was vomiting repeatedly,’ says Jodie.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Now China’s Prime Minister Has Shoe Flung at Him as He Speaks at Cambridge University

A protester has thrown a shoe at the prime minister of China as he gave a speech at Cambridge University.

Wen Jiabao was interrupted by one of the pro-Tibet demonstrators who have dogged his three-day visit to Britain.


Security guards restrained the man, who shouted: ‘This is a scandal. This dictator here, how can you listen to the lies he’s telling? You are not challenging him.’

The German man, thought to be a student at the university, was later arrested.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Police Adopt Uniform Hijab

Police have opened the door to female Muslim recruits by incorporating the hijab into the uniform.

The force has become the latest to approve a design for a headscarf suitable for officers on patrol.

Senior officers believe the lack of the option has deterred applications from the considerable number of Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab.

The police hijab is plain black and made of a flame-retardant material.

Officers will be able to wear a standard police hat on top of it.

A small number of forces nationwide have taken a similar step, including Thames Valley and the Metropolitan police.

Superintendent Geoff Feavyour, who leads the Leicestershire Constabulary recruitment team, compared the development to the incorporation of the turban several years ago, which removed a barrier to the recruitment of male Sikhs.

The police’s annual report for 2007/08 showed women made up about 23 per cent of the force’s officers.

The number of officers from black and Asian communities stood at about six per cent — short of the 15 per cent target.

Mr Feavyour said: “Clearly, we want people from all walks of life to join the force and the fact we have the hijab available now shows our commitment to that. It’s an extension to our uniform which will, hopefully, show people they are welcome.

“It is very important to us that the force reflects the community it serves.”

The move has also been welcomed by officers, including the Leicestershire branch of the National Association of Muslim Police.

Sgt Yakub Ismail, chairman of the branch, said: “Leicestershire Constabulary is always understanding and supportive of the religious needs of its staff.

“It has always encouraged applicants from all communities and religious denominations.

“I firmly believe neighbourhood policing can only be truly achieved by having officers from within those neighbourhoods being part of the police family.”

Sughra Ahmed, a research fellow at the Islamic Foundation, in Markfield, said: “Not every Muslim woman who wants to join the police would want to wear the hijab, but that choice is there now and that is a very important step.

“There may also be women who are already with the force who do not wear the scarf but choose to later. Again, this will be positive for them.”

Sabrina Khan, a 19-year-old student from Evington, Leicester, said: “I don’t wear the veil, but a lot of my family and friends do.

“I have seen Sikh officers wearing turbans and if I saw a female officer wearing the hijab, I would feel that the police respected the Muslim faith.”

Osob Osman, an 18-year-old student from North Evington, said: “The hijab has had a lot of bad press during the past couple of years.

“This will give women more career opportunities and, hopefully, change people’s attitudes to Muslim people.”

Police spoke to community groups, including the Leicestershire Federation of Muslim Organisations, when they were developing the garment.

Suleman Nagdi, spokesman for the federation, said: “It’s a wonderful move and it will help the police encompass a wider range of people in its recruitment.”

Resham Singh Sandhu, chairman of the Sikh Welfare and Cultural Society and a trustee of Leicester Council of Faiths, said: “This is a positive step forward for religious people who want to serve the community as police officers.”

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]

UK: Strikes: Last-Minute Talks Taking Place to Stop Wildcat Strikes

Urgent talks were taking place across the country in a last-minute attempt to stop wildcat strikes over the employment of foreign workers.

However, more than 900 workers at the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria are expected to be the latest to join thousands on picket lines.

Britain is facing the threat of a co-ordinated nationwide strike which could hit energy supplies later this week as the dispute escalates.

Union leaders warned that Gordon Brown had risked “inflaming” the situation by “condemning” workers with legitimate complaints.

British workers have alleged that they have been barred from applying to work on major construction projects across the country.

They claim that some firms are using loopholes in European laws to only hire cheaper foreign workers.

The industrial action started last week after construction work at the Total Lindsey oil refinery in Lincolnshire was subcontracted to Italian and Portuguese workers.

As well as strikes by about 600 workers at the Lindsey plant, protests spread to up to 20 other construction sites.

Contractors at the Heysham nuclear power station in Lancashire are shortly expected to decide whether to join the unofficial walk-outs.

Bosses from Total will today meet with sub-contractors and union leaders for hastily-arranged talks in S


Moves are also under way to set up a special panel, under an independent chairman, to review the recruitment of hundreds of the Italian and Portuguese workers.

Sources disclosed that a co-ordinated national strike for later in the week is likely to be called.

Some trade union members are pushing for more radical steps to be taken such as blockades of oil refineries and petrol stations. Similar action caused a major crisis in 2000.

However, the number of strikers at the Total plant on Monday were fewer than on Friday. Around 300 protesters gathered at the terminal gates as dawn broke.

There are fears that right-wing extremists are also seeking to join the action with the British National Party (BNP) calling on its members to assist the strikers.

Ministers are also braced for protests to turn violent after rioting broke out during industrial action in several European cities. Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, yesterday said that maintaining the British tradition of “peaceful protest” was “really important”.

It was initially thought that workers at the plants were angry about Britons not being employed for the construction work. The Prime Minister had previously said that he would create “British jobs for British workers”.

However, it is now alleged that British workers may have been explicitly banned from applying for jobs at the sites. It is claimed that firms are using a recent European legal judgement to restrict employment to certain countries.

Other workers say that foreign workers are paid the minimum wage but then a significant proportion of their salary is automatically deducted to pay for “bed and board” — provided at expensive rates by their employers. British workers are excluded from such arrangements.

Over the weekend, ministers called in Acas, the arbitration service, to investigate the claims.

The Prime Minister and Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, have condemned the unofficial action. Mr Brown said he recognised people were “worried” about jobs being taken by workers from other countries, but stressed that the UK was part of a “single European market”. He said the strikes were “not defensible”.

Lord Mandelson added: “It would be a huge mistake to retreat from a policy where within the rules, UK companies can operate in Europe and European companies can operate here.

“Protectionism would be a sure-fire way of turning recession into depression.”

However, yesterday there were signs of a split within the Labour Party with other senior figures apparently urging the Government to intervene to help British workers.

Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary and a former trade union leader, insisted that wildcat strikes were “unhelpful”. However, he added: “If workers are being brought across here on worse terms and conditions to actually get jobs in front of British workers on the basis of dumbing down the terms and conditions that would be wrong, and I understand the anger about that.

“These various judgments have distorted the original intention and we need to bring in fresh directives to make it absolutely clear that people cannot be undercut in this way.”

Peter Hain, the former Work and Pensions Secretary, added that something had gone “badly wrong” with British employment laws.

“Clearly something has gone badly wrong. The Lindsey Oil Refinery situation is unacceptable, because I do not believe that those Italian and other workers can be getting the same conditions and rights and pay as the British workers who would have filled those jobs would be entitled to,” he said.

He added: “We should stop gold plating European directives. After all, the first duty of a British government is to protect its own voters, its own citizens and its own workers.”

The trade unions are not officially backing the strikes which are illegal. However, senior union leaders yesterday voiced support for the workers’ complaints. It also emerged that ministers are informally discussing the situation with union leaders.

Paul Kenny, General Secretary of the GMB union urged the government to do more to try to resolve the row rather than “blame’’ British workers.

Ed Miliband, the Energy Secretary, was also at the meeting, which Mr Simpson said was held to try to find a breakthrough to the deadlocked row.

“We advised that a solution to the problem was for the government to ensure that companies applying for contracts to build UK public interest structure projects sign up to corporate social responsibility agreements which establish a guaranteed fair access for labour,” the union leader said.

“I have asked the ministers to give the union’s proposals serious consideration. It is imperative that we reach a speedy resolution to this growing problem.”

Mr Simpson pointed out that Britain will need to replace more than half its power stations in the coming years and he said British workers must be given a fair chance of being recruited.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

UK: This is the Way a Society Dies

British police running from Muslim demonstrators, a Christian nurse facing the sack for offering to pray for a patient

In our allegedly multicultural society, there is one religious group which is apparently not to be afforded equal respect, let alone treated for what it embodies — the foundational creed of this nation. That group is Britain’s Christians.

Somerset community nurse and committed Christian Caroline Petrie has been suspended and faces being sacked and even struck off for offering to say a prayer for an elderly patient. Although startled, the patient — herself a Christian — did not make a complaint and was in no way offended.


It was particularly telling to compare this incident with the astounding video footage featured in yesterday’s Mail on Sunday, showing police officers running away from chanting demonstrators who took part in a violent protest in London against Israel’s military action in the Gaza Strip.


It is hard not to reach the dismal conclusion that a society faced with violence in pursuit of the goal of overturning Christian values and conquering Britain for Islam turns tail and runs away — while at the same time coming down like a ton of bricks on any expression of those Christian values which underpin British society, in the interests of ‘equality and diversity’.

This is the way a society dies.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Why Foreign Worker Row Will Erupt Into a Headache for Gord


THE only surprise in the row over Grimsby’s foreign workers is that it took so long to erupt.

When jobs are scarce, why should skilled Brits stand idle while hundreds of Italians are imported.

For years we have been told what we can and cannot do by unaccountable Brussels directives.

Now in hard times, we are no longer prepared to put up with the lunatic attempt to turn the EU into an artificial nation state.

Europe’s overweening power, and the Government’s refusal to act, are turning migrant labour into a toxic new factor in this slump.

Gordon Brown casually handed strikers their slogan when he promised “British jobs for British workers”.

“Deputy PM” Peter Mandelson fears unemployment — here and in Europe — could unravel the EU.

Yet Mandy fuelled the blaze by telling strikers if they don’t like Italians taking our jobs, they should go to Italy and take theirs!

He should understand that this clash over foreign workers is just the first puff of smoke from the volcano…

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]

UK: Wildcat Oil Strikes: Europeans Are Finally Waking Up to the Demise of Democracy

The peoples of Europe have finally discovered what they signed up to. I do mean “peoples” (plural) because however much political elites may deceive themselves, the populations of the member states of the EU are culturally, historically and economically separate and distinct. And a significant proportion of them are getting very, very angry.

What the strikers at the Lindsey oil refinery (and their brother supporters in Nottinghamshire and Kent) have discovered is the real meaning of the fine print in those treaties, and the significance of those European court judgments whose interpretation they left to EU obsessives: it is now illegal — illegal — for the government of an EU country to put the needs and concerns of its own population first. It would, for example, be against European law to do what Frank Field has sensibly suggested and reintroduce a system of “work permits” for EU nationals who wished to apply for jobs here.

Meanwhile, demonstrators in Paris and the recalcitrant electorate in Germany are waking up to the consequences of what two generations of European ideologues have thrust upon them: the burden not just of their own economic problems but also the obligation to accept the consequences of their neighbours’ debts and failures. Each country is true to its own history in the way it expresses its rage: in France, they take to the streets and throw things at the police, in Germany they threaten the stability of the coalition government, and here, we revive the tradition of wildcat strikes.

But the response from the EU political class is the same to all of these varied manifestations of resistance. Those who protest are being smeared with accusations of foolhardy protectionism or racist nationalism when they are not (not yet, anyway) guilty of either. It is not purblind nationalism, let alone racism, to resent the importation of cheap labour en masse when its conditions of employment (transport and accommodation provided, as seems to be the case at Lindsey) allow it to compete unfairly with indigenous workers. The drafting in of low-wage work gangs has always been seen as unjust: exploitative of the foreign workers, and destructive of the social cohesion of existing communities which, incidentally, is something about which the Tories say they are much exercised. So can the protesters expect their support?

The US had a rule during its great period of immigration in the early years of the last century, that no one could enter the country with a pre-arranged job. This was designed precisely to prevent the unfairness and disruptive effect of the wholesale import of cheap labour. An individual travelling to seek work, prepared to take his chances in fair competition with local workers is one thing: the organised recruitment of people from the poorest regions of the poorest countries in Europe in order to reduce employers’ wage costs in the more prosperous ones, is something else altogether.

Nor is it “protectionism” to argue that competition for employment should take place within a context of social responsibility and respect for the fabric of communities. Genuine protectionism is setting up barriers to free trade: this is what Barack Obama is doing when he forbids the importation of foreign materials such as British steel, and urges his countrymen to restrict their purchases of goods not manufactured in the US (“Buy America!”) I eagerly await the condemnation of his proposal for US economic isolationism from all those European leaders who were so anxious to see him elected.

Free trade in goods, as opposed to unlimited open borders for transient labour, is absolutely essential to the recovery of the global economy (and for that matter, to the relief of poverty in the developing world). I agree with those who fear that the US under President Obama may be about to do what it did under Franklin Roosevelt, whose protectionism and hard-nosed refusal to make concessions to international needs condemned the world to a depression (followed by a war). But what the British strikers are demanding is not the same at all, and if their complaints are caricatured or defamed, the price in social disorder could be hideous. It is not an exaggeration to say that this could be the moment of justifiable anger that neo-fascist agitators have been waiting to exploit.

The protesters are simply demanding what they thought — what all free people have been taught to think since the 18th-century enlightenment — was their birthright. That is to say, for the basic principle of modern democracy: the understanding between the state and its people that the proper function of a government is to represent the interests of those who elected it. And to be fair to both presidents, Obama and Roosevelt, this assumption is so deeply grounded in the American psyche that it is almost inconceivable for any US administration not to abide by it quite literally.

In the grand abstract terms of the enlightenment, the legitimacy of government derives from the consent of the governed, and therefore no government should have the right to hand over its authority to some external body which is not democratically accountable to its own people. So when the framers of the EU arranged for the nations of Europe to do exactly that, they were repudiating the two centuries old political struggle for the rights and liberties of ordinary citizens, of government “of the people, by the people and for the people”. It has always been my view that this was a quite conscious decision by the EU founders who, in the wake of two world wars, came to believe that the infamous national crimes of the 20th century could be traced directly to the democratic revolutions of the 18th century, and that the only long-term solution to this was to replace democracy with oligarchy.

But there it is. And here we are, with a generation of European political leaders who almost all accept the terms in which their predecessors gave away the most important principle of that great democratic pact between a free people and its government. While times were good and there was enough prosperity to keep everybody distracted and happy, the loss went almost unnoticed except by a few persistent and despairing critics. Well, not any more. The American government may be committing itself to a policy that is economically unsound and even irresponsible, but its insistence on maintaining the compact with its own voters — on putting their concerns first — will at least ensure that democracy will survive there. I am not at all sure that will be true in Europe.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]


Banks: Croatia; Merger Between German Hypo and Slavonska

(ANSAmed) — ZAGHREB, JANUARY 30 — According to German bank Hypo, by March 1 2009 Hypo Alpe-Adria Bank, owned by German Bayern LB, and Croatian Slavonska Banka will merge. As the ICE office in Zagreb already reported in June, which Hypo bank will acquire Slavonska shares and use them to increase its base capital from 4.187 billion kuna (about 0.58 billion euro) to 5.959 billion kuna (about 0.83 billion euro). The two banks have stated that the reason for the merger is to improve their efficiency and profits, liquidity and balance management, and to lower operational risk. The joint share of the two banks of the local banking market will be about 9.9%, the 5th most important on the local market. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Serbia: Around 15000 Punto Cars to be Produced in 2009

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, JANUARY 30 — Veroljub Stevanovic, Mayor of Kragujevac, believes that the Zastava car company will produce more than 15,000 ‘Punto’ cars, reports VIP Daily News Report. Stevanovic claims that the revitalization of the Zastava company will be done in the agreed timeframe, and that the only thing left is to determine when the production of the new A class Punto model, planned for 2010, will begin. According to him, the production of ‘Punto’ will begin in March, and, by the end of the year, Zastava will have produced more than 15,000 cars, despite the crisis Fiat is in at the moment.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Trade: Serbia Aims to Develop Links With Southern Italy

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, JANUARY 30 — Serbia intends to develop trade and cooperation with businesses and production in southern Italy, says the Serbian Trade Minister Slobodan Milosavljevic. The minister was attending the general assembly of members of the Italo-Serbian Chamber of Commerce which took place over the last few days, and at which he was elected honorary president of the organisation. “Serbia is interested in working with all of Italy. So far, those who have seemed most active are northern Italian businesspeople, and now we intend to develop contacts with southern businesses as well”, said Milosavljevic. The trade minister defined the business ties between Serbia and southern Italy as “unsatisfactory” and invited southern industrialists and businesspeople to forge contacts with Serbian counterparts. Amongst the most promising sectors for cooperation, Milosavljevic listed agriculture, textiles, animal skins, and wooden furniture. The minister also emphasised the advantages that Serbia offers as a springboard into the Russian market, as it is the only country in Europe to have a free trade agreement with the Russian Federation, so that goods can be exported without paying tariffs. Identical free trade agreements are being put together with Belarus, Ukraine and Turkey, noted the trade minister, which would allow almost immediate access, through Serbia, to a potential market of 200-300 million consumers. Italian products are highly sought after in Russia and other ex-Soviet Union countries, such as Serbia. Milosavljevi noted that the design and high quality of Italian products are known the world over. Vincenzo Divella, the president of the Italo-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, has also said that he is in favour of a greater presence of southern Italian businesses in Serbia. Divella said that “trade, tourism, agriculture and also clothes and crafts are the most promising sectors”.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

Aerospace: EU Vice President Tajani to Visit Israel

(ANSAmed) — NAPLES, JANUARY 27 — European Commission Vice-President head of Transportation Policy, Antonio Tajani will be in Israel tomorrow to take part as guest of honour in the opening of the 4th “Ilan Ramon” international aerospace conference. According to a message from the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Tajani will also discuss increasing Israel’s participation in European aerospace programmes during his visit. Among the objectives of his visit, will also be the promotion and increase of Israeli industries and research centres in European aerospace projects. The Vice-President of the European Commission’s agenda also includes meetings with Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert, Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz, and Industrial, Commerce, and Labour Minister Eli Yishai. Antonio Tajani will also visit the most important Israeli aerospace companies after taking part in a diplomatic briefing organised by the Foreign Ministry. Israel participates in the “Galileo” European aerospace project, a geographic satellite location system operating as an alternative to GPS, and takes part in the “Copernicus” programme for the development of satellite systems to monitoring the environment and borders. Israel also collaborates in European Space Agency projects and this year should sign a cooperation agreement with the European space agency. Israel was also invited to the SESAR initiative for developing air transport management systems. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Can the Palestinian Authority’s Fatah Forces Retake Gaza? Obstacles and Opportunities

by Dan Diker and Khaled Abu Toameh


  • Israel’s recent military operation in Gaza has raised the issue of the possible return of Fatah to Gaza. However, a previous U.S.-funded and armed Fatah security regime in Gaza had entirely failed. In fact, the PA in the West Bank has offered safe haven to terror groups, and the PA Interior Ministry pays monthly salaries to Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades terrorists.


  • Today, some PA forces are far more professional, having been equipped and trained by U.S. security officials in Jordan. However, these forces are still in their infancy. They have less than one year’s experience, number fewer than 1,500 men, and lack a central command structure.


  • It is widely believed that the PA in Ramallah only pays the salaries of civil service employees in Gaza to encourage them to stay at home to avoid working with Hamas. However, PA Prime Minister Fayyad also pays the monthly salaries of between 6,000 and 12,000 Hamas Executive Force operatives in Gaza, in line with the 2007 Mecca national unity agreement.


  • Former PA Civil Affairs Minister Mohammed Dahlan, whose forces were routed by Hamas in June 2007, has re-emerged as a leading candidate to command Fatah’s security forces, particularly to secure the Gaza crossing points into Egypt and Israel. Palestinian documents captured in 2002 revealed Dahlan’s involvement in major racketeering, including revenues from cigarettes, cement, and the collection of illegal crossing fees. Dahlan’s personal wealth has been estimated at well over $120 million.


  • The U.S. must avoid the temptation of once again blindly relying on Fatah as the sole security and reconstruction subcontractor for Gaza. The Obama administration must implement tough and verifiable directives to facilitate internal Palestinian housecleaning: no militias, good governance, complete accountability, full transparency, effectiveness, and zero tolerance for corruption, gangsterism, and terror within PA ranks…

           — Hat tip: JCPA [Return to headlines]

Gaza: Summary Executions, Hamas Denies Accusations

(ANSAmed) — GAZA/TEL AVIV, JANUARY 30 — The end of summary executions and systematic attacks against private citizens by Gaza secret service agents was requested by the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), founded by political representative Hanan Ashrawi among others. In Gaza, Hamas spokesperson, Ihab al-Ghussein, denied accusations from the ICHR and other organisations like a-Damir and PCHR-Gaza. Al-Ghussein said to the press, “If someone had truly been attacked and made a complaint, we will intestigate it”. The events reported by the ICHR allegedly occurred during operation ‘Cast Lead’ and in the days following the ceasefire. A message explained that some citizens were victims of summary executions “by uniformed or hooded officers” presumably affiliated with secret services who also shot other civilians at point blank range. In other cases they beat people and put them under house arrest. Palestinian press agency Maan also learned from ICHR that 20 people total were killed in summary executions in Gaza and another 116 were “shot in the kneecaps”. At least 150 al-Fatah members were put under house arrest. Last week similar accusations were made by al-Fatah member, Fahmi a-Zahir, who said that in the past weeks Hamas killed 16 members of his party in Gaza and injured dozens more accusing them of “collaborating” with Israel. Similar reports appeared in Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Mussa Abu Marzuq, a Hamas leader in Damascus confirmed that in the past days in Gaza “a certain number of collaborators have been executed”. ICHR expressed worries that they found these occurrences “while Palestinians are trying to recover from the profound wounds inflicted by Israeli aggression in Gaza”. “ICHR also expresses deep worries about these atrocities… which are a manifestation of chaos regarding security issues and are proof that there are people present who want to take the law into their own hands”. ICHR also voiced fears that al-Fatah supporters will now retaliate against Hamas members in the West Bank. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Gaza: Attacks in the Negev, Israeli Strike on Hamas

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, FEBRUARY 2 — While Egyptian leaders are at work drawing up a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas, which may be brought in as early as Thursday, the situation has once again taken a turn for the worse with spats of violence flaring up. Yesterday Palestinian militants repeatedly fired on the Negev in southern Israel with rockets and mortar rounds. In the evening Israel responded with air strikes hitting Hamas security service buildings, as well as a number of tunnels along the border with Egypt. After the attacks on the Negev, Premier Ehud Olmert immediately warned of a “disproportionate” reaction, and in Gaza Hamas militants were ordered to spread out to prevent becoming a target. In yesterday’s air strikes no one was injured, while in the Palestinian attacks two soldiers and one Israeli civilian suffered minor injuries. The latter are the first three to have been injured since the non-official truce came into force on January 18, 22 days after Operation Cast Lead got underway against Hamas in Gaza. Meanwhile, in the Olmert government — about a week before general elections — profound dissent has arisen between Defence Minister Ehud Barak (Labour), who aims to bring in a tacit agreement with Hamas for a long-term truce, and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni (Kadima), who insists that a firmer stance is necessary. In Jerusalem the news reported by the television station al-Arabiya on Hamas’s willingness to sign a year-long cease-fire agreement, on the basis of Egyptian proposals, has been met with caution. It may be simply an expedient used by Hamas to prevent further Israeli attacks against Gaza just before the February 10 elections, as the military radio quoted a political sources as saying. Making Israeli leaders even more nervous are the repeated Palestinian attacks (five rockets, thirteen mortar rounds and an armed ambush on a border patrol along the edges of the Gaza Strip). According to intelligence chief General Amos Yadlin, the latter are not attacks from Hamas but from small groups trying to spark violence along the border. Responsibility for a few launches has been claimed by a faction of the Al-Aqsa martyrs Brigades, a group under PA president Mahmoud Abbas’s al-Fatah. Hamas, in Yadlin’s eyes, is currently behaving in a passive manner. Likud, the main right-wing party, has sharply criticised the Olmert government for not being able to restore calm to the Negev and has demanded a strong reaction. “There is no doubt that we will respond,” said deputy premier Haim Ramon, a Kadima leader. But even he is aware of the fact that Defence Minister Barak himself is hesitant to resume military operations at full regime. “Barak,” said Ramon, “would like to bring in a tacit agreement with Hamas” supported by internatinoal activity preventing arms trafficking towards Gaza. However, he said, these are only his “hopes”. Ramon is also working within the government to prevent Hamas (“a terrorist and anti-Semitic organisation”) from continuing to put down roots in Gaza: which, in his eyes, would mean accepting that along Israeli borders “dependence on Iran” is created. Livni, said Ramon, agrees with his approach.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel: Gazans Detail Being Used as Human Shields

Testimonies decry ‘monstrous’ use of women, children, ambulances

HERZLIYA, Israel — More tales are emerging of the ways Hamas utilized civilians during Israel’s 22-day war against the terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip, including accounts from Gaza residents who accuse Hamas of using them as human shields.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Israel: U.S. Partner, Not Hamas, Firing Rockets Into Israel

While terrorists promise cease-fire, American ‘allies’ provoke violence

HERZLIYA, Israel — With Hamas signaling it is willing to enter a cease-fire with Israel, it was the U.S.-backed Fatah party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas whose so-called military wing took responsibility for a barrage of rockets and mortars fired from the Gaza Strip today.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama Held Secret Talks With Iran, Syria Weeks Before Election

( United States President Barack Obama employed representatives and experts to hold secret high-level talks with Iran and Syria months prior to his election as president, organizers of the meetings told Agence France Presse on Monday.

Over the past few months, Obama campaign and election officials, as well as nuclear non-proliferation experts, had several “very, very high-level” contacts with Iranian leaders, according to Jeffrey Boutwell, executive director for the U.S. branch of the Pugwash group, a Nobel Prize-winning international organization of scientists. Former defense secretary William Perry, who served in Obama’s election campaign, also participated in some of the meetings, which included discussions on Iran’s nuclear program and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Though Boutwell refused to name other participants, he said they were senior figures in the Iranian and US governments.

The United States and Iran have had no official diplomatic relationship since the overthrow of the Shah and the institution of the Islamic Republic, 30 years ago. The U.S. accuses Iran of developing nuclear weapons.

In his first television interview as president, conducted by the Muslim Al-Arabiya television network, Obama called Iranians “a great people,” adding “the U.S. has a stake in the well being of the Muslim world.”

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad affirmed the reports Monday that Obama officials had repeated contact with his country for some time prior to the U.S. elections. “Dialogue started some weeks ago in a serious manner through personalities who are close to the administration and who were dispatched by the administration,” Assad said.

A group of experts, under the auspices of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) think tank, announced Thursday that they met for more than two hours in Damascus with President al-Assad. Obama transition team member and former Clinton White House adviser Ellen Laipson attended the meeting as well, they said.

The United States has accused Syria of protecting and aiding Hizbullah and Hamas terrorists, and of providing a channel for anti-U.S. Muslim militants to attack U.S. positions in Iraq.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

The West Bank: Attack on Israeli Army Patrol

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, FEBRUARY 2 — An Israeli army patrol has been attacked today by Palestinian fighters whilst they doing reconnaissance in the Beit Yatir area (Hebron, the West Bank). The soldiers returned fire, killing a Palestinian, according to Israeli military radio. According to local sources the initial shots were fired from a moving car. The reports of the death of a Palestinian have been corroborated by Maan, the Palestinian press agency. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Defence: Alenia; Turkey Selects ATR72 Aircraft for Its Navy

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JANUARY 30 — The ten Atr72-Asw aircraft ordered by the Turkish navy for an anti-submarine strike role are to be constructed by Italy’s Alenia Aeronautics of the Finmeccanica Group for a price tag of around 220 million dollars. According to the specialist Turkish press, the first flight is due by the end of 2009 and trade consignments are to begin in 2011. The ATR72/600-Asw (Antisubmarine Warfare) aircraft ordered by Turkey are to carry ‘Thales Amascos’ weaponry for marine patrols, a special option for the client and developed especially for the package by Alenia from the popular commercial transport model ATR-72/500, in widespread use with civil passenger carriers. The ASW (Antisubmarine warfare) version has emerged to respond to demand for an economically-priced medium-range aircraft with anti-submarine strike capacity combined with the marine patrol capabilities of the ATR42 MP, ‘Maritime Patrol’ already in service with Italy’s customs police and coast guard service. Alenia Aeronautics is also charged with the promotion in Turkey of the ‘Eurofighter Typhoon’, built by the Italian company in collaboration with BAE Systems and EADS. The programme involves 400 companies Europe-wide with a combined workforce of 120,000. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

European Court Rules on Property Cases Against Turkey

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, JANUARY 29 — The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled, by majority vote, that Turkey violates the property rights of eight Greek Cypriots, who own land and immovable property in Turkish occupied Cyprus. The Court has asked all of the applicants — three from villages in the occupied district of Famagusta on the east and five from villages in Kyrenia district on the north — and the Turkish government to submit, within three months from the date the Court judgment becomes final, their written observations. The Court, as reported by CNA, also held that the heirs to these Greek Cypriots could continue the present proceedings, instead of the applicants themselves.The Court rejected Turkey’s argument that domestic remedies have not been exhausted and therefore the European Court should not have accepted the applications. Turkey maintains that a self-styled properties commission, set up by the Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus, is effective domestic remedy for property claims. In previous judgments, the Court held Turkey responsible for what happens in occupied Cyprus by virtue of the effective control its troops exercise in this part of the country. It described the Turkish Cypriot regime as local subordinate administration to Turkey. The applicants brought their cases to the Court in May or June 1991, saying that the Turkish military, which occupies Cyprus’ northern areas since 1974, deprives them of their property rights and prevents them from enjoying their property. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Gaza: Erdogan Hailed; Israel Denies Peres Apology

(by Furio Morroni) (ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JANUARY 30 — Unyielding and uncompromising as always, Turkish Premier Tayyip Erdogan did not hesitate today to confirm that he did the right thing yesterday at the Davos Forum when he suddenly angrily left a debate because the moderator did not allow him to respond to Israeli President Shimon Peres. On the stage where they were supposed to talk about peace possibilities in the Middle East, Peres and Erdogan had just stated harsh and opposite viewpoints regarding the recent Israeli offensive in Gaza. The Davos scene earned him the unconditional approval of Palestinian fundamentalist movement Hamas and influential Iranian Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, who praised the Turkish Premier in Tehran saying that “Erdogan made an excellent move”. Hamas spokesperson, Fawzi Barhum said that his group “pays homage to the courageous stance taken by the Turkish Premier, who in Davos defended the victims of Zionist war crimes against our women and children in Gaza”. Late in the morning, Turkish diplomatic sources announced that next week (probably on February 7) Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) will visit Ankara to meet with top government officials. Addressing thousands of supporters waving Turkish and Palestinian flags at the inauguration of a new section of the metro in Istanbul, Erdogan said that “we will not allow anyone to disrespect a Turkish premier” and confirmed that “our criticisms about the Gaza issue are addressed to the Israeli government and not the Jewish people”. Peres, he added, called him “to apologise about the incident”, but later, sources in the office of the Israeli president denied this, according to press agency Anadolu. The same source later released statements by the Israeli ambassador in Ankara, Gaby Levy, who, after spoken about the “strategic” nature of relations between Jerusalem and Ankara, which in 1996 signed a military cooperation agreement, said to be “confident that our relations will return to normal soon”. Erdogan also received harsh criticism from the opposition in Turkey. Onur Oymen, Vice-President of the Peoplés Republican Party (CHP, lay, left-wing party) said that “due to Erdogan’s treatment of Peres, Turkey will pay a heavy price”. According to Deniz Bolukbasi, MHP national party representative, “you cannot become a hero if you leave the field. He (Erdogan) is only a cartoon hero”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Iraq: Security Improves for Christians in Mosul

Baghdad, 30 Jan. (AKI) — Security for the Christian minority in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul has improved since the wave of sectarian violence there last year, according to the only Christian candidate running in Saturday’s provincial elections, Sami Habib Astifu. He spoke to Adnkronos International (AKI).

“The situation has improved markedly since the Iraqi government dispatched armed forces to the area, and things will improve further once we have a new provincial council,” he said.

The Iraqi polls are significant and could set the tone for parliamentary elections planned in late 2009. They are also seen as a key test for Iraq’s Shia prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.

At least 14 Christians died in violence last year in Mosul, capital of Nineveh province, causing hundreds of families to flee the city. Many have since returned.

The situation in Mosul is far calmer than some media reports suggest, Astifu said. “I have been able to campaign freely and to hold public rallies. I was in central Mosul two days ago, and everything went fine.”

He admitted however ahead of Saturday’s landmark polls, there were fears that terrorists could stage deadly attacks against him and other Christians in Mosul.

“The electoral commission even asked me to name a substitute in case I didn’t make it to the end of the electoral campaign,” he said.

He praised new US president Barack Obama and his early moves to increase dialogue with the Muslim world.

“We expected this from his predecessor (George W. Bush) and view it as a positive step, particularly concerning the situation of Christians in Iraq and all Arab and Muslim countries.”

Mosul is home to the second-largest community of Christians in Iraq after Baghdad. Hundreds of thousands of Christians have been forced to flee Iraq however to escape the violence and the economic crisis caused by the war.

The provincial polls are being seen as a key test of Iraq’s stability after years of sectarian strife, as 140,000 US troops prepare to leave the country by the end of 2011.

Nineveh is among 14 out of Iraq’s 18 provinces that will select provincial councils. These elect provincial governors and administrations.

Amid tight security millions of people were expected to go to the polls to elect 14,000 candidates, including 3,912 women, belonging to over 400 parties or groups.

Preliminary results of the provincial elections were unlikely to be available for several days and the final tally may not be certain for a month.

The formation of the new provincial administration is expected to take weeks more.

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

Israel May Reject Turkish Arms Request

As Turkish-Israeli diplomatic relations continue to crumble, the close ties between the two countries in other areas are being reexamined as well.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks in front of President Shimon Peres during a plenary session on the Middle East Peace at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, WEF, in Davos, Switzerland, Thursday.

Photo: AP

Slideshow: Pictures of the week The Defense Ministry is considering rejecting a number of requests by Turkey to purchase advanced Israeli-made military platforms, officials told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

The IDF and the Turkish military enjoy strong ties, but there is growing concern in Israel that the military could be losing its power and influence within and over the government.

“Turkey is eyeing moderate Arab countries and is hoping to strengthen its ties with them,” one senior defense official explained. “Just like we don’t sell advanced military platforms to Jordan and Egypt, we may decide not to sell to Turkey.”

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]

Italy-Bahrain: S.Craxi in Manama, Considers Gulf Strategic

(ANSAmed) — MANAMA, JANUARY 29 — Italy’s Foreign undersecretary Stefania Craxi, today on a visit to Manama, has said that “for Italy the Gulf is a strategic area. Our businesses want to contribute to the economic development of Bahrain.” In meeting with the Bahrain Minister for Industry and Trade Hassan Fakhro, Craxi invited the country to the “large economic forum of ‘the extended Mediterranean’ scheduled for July in Milan, which is to focus on two themes: SMEs and infrastructures, especially in the energy sector,” stressing that small and medium-sized enterprises are able to act as a form of protection against the effects of the world crisis. The undersecretary added that “we highly esteem the efforts made by Bahrain to create a modern economic and financial system. It has been very far-sighted in having diversified the country and not limiting itself to simply exploiting oil resources.” In the bilateral talks with the Foreign Minister of Bahrain, Khaled al Khalifa, talks also focused on the problem of the suspension, decided in December by Arab countries, of negotiations for the conclusion of Free Trade Agreements between the European Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council (EU-GCC). “We are both aware that these negotiations have been going on for too long, 19 years,” said Craxi. “They must be concluded as soon as possible to the benefit of both the EU and the Gulf.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Official: Aliya From Turkey to Double

The number of Jews expected to immigrate to Israel from Turkey this year is likely to double compared to last year, but the level remains extremely low despite surging anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incidents in the predominantly Muslim country, a Jewish Agency for Israel official said Sunday.

Separately, the Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Venezuela said Sunday that he doubted whether the South American country held any future for the Jewish community, following the Friday night vandalism of the oldest synagogue in the country.

About 250 Turkish Jews are expected to immigrate to Israel this year, more than double the 112 who did so last year, said Eli Cohen, director-general of the Jewish Agency’s Immigration and Absorption Department in Jerusalem.

The number of expected immigrants from Turkey this year makes up only 1 percent of the 25,000-strong Jewish community that traces its roots in the nation back more than five centuries, dating to the Spanish Inquisition.

“We would prefer that the main reason for aliya today [be] the ideology of those immigrants who come from Western countries, but we see that the anti-Semitic incidents, as well as the global economic crisis, are what is furthering aliya today,” Cohen said.

He noted that many of the Turkish Jews seeking to make aliya were students or young couples wanting to study at Israeli universities or to live in Israel.

Relations between Israel and Turkey hit a nadir last week after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been a leading and vitriolic critic of Israel’s recent military operation against Hamas in Gaza, stormed out of a panel discussion with President Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

At the same time, the Jewish Agency official said Sunday that there was “a large interest” in immigration to Israel among Jews living in Venezuela. About 14,500 Jews live there, and only 60 immigrated to Israel last year.

All Israeli representatives were kicked out of the country last month during Operation Cast Lead, but the agency is in daily contact with Jewish groups there, Cohen said.

Meanwhile, Rabbi Pynchas Brener of Venezuela said Sunday that he was doubtful that there was any future for the Jewish community there.

“There is a psychological mechanism which makes people within the country think things are not as bad as they seem,” Brener told The Jerusalem Post in a telephone interview from Caracas. “For psychological reasons, people who live in the country tend to justify actions taken against them.”

His comments came after the main Sephardi synagogue in Caracas was vandalized by a group of attackers.

Two security guards were overpowered by about 15 people who ransacked the synagogue’s sanctuary and offices late Friday, shattering religious objects and leaving graffiti such as, “We don’t want murderers,” and “Jews, get out.”

The incident forced the synagogue to cancel Saturday services.

“Reason makes us believe that this was done with the consent — if not the instigation — of some central power in Venezuela,” he said.

He noted that Israel and Jews were viewed as synonymous in the South American country, adding that an upcoming vote on whether the president could be reelected indefinitely could prove to be a harbinger of things to come.

“I do not know if in this environment there will be a future for the Jewish community here,” he said.

The New York-based Anti-Defamation League called the synagogue incident “a modern day Kristallnacht.”

“This violent attack, occurring on the Jewish Sabbath, is reminiscent of the darkest days leading to the Shoah, when Jews were attacked and synagogues and Torahs vandalized and destroyed under the guard of the Nazi regime,” said ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman.

Foxman said the heinous anti-Jewish hate crime was not random, but was “directly related to the atmosphere of anti-Jewish intimidation promoted by President Hugo Chavez and his government apparatus.”

The organization called for Chavez to “abandon the official government rhetoric of demonization of Israel and the Jews and to publicly denounce this wanton act of anti-Semitic violence.”

Separately, the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center said Sunday that Chavez’s attacks on Israel and the Jewish community had “set the stage” for the incident.

“This was no mere hate crime from the margins of society, but a reflection of President Chavez’s campaign to demonize Israel and her supporters,” the organization said. “For this dangerous escalation of hate against a minority to stop, President Chavez’s hate campaign must be denounced by all leaders in the Americas and beyond.”

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Schoolgirl Divorcee, 10, Launches Book About Shocking Child Bride Ordeal

A schoolgirl who was married by the age of eight today launched a new book about her extraordinary ordeal.

Nojoud Ali, now aged 10, is in Paris promoting an autobiography which is set to be a worldwide bestseller.

British publishers are already queuing up for the rights to a story which has been taken up by women’s rights groups worldwide.

Last year a court in Yemen annulled Nojoud’s arranged marriage to a 29-year-old man. The minimum age for marriage is currently 15 years-old in the country, but parents are allowed to overrule the law if they judge that their daughter is ‘ready’ for marriage. Noujoud’s strict Muslim family had decided she was, forcing her to go and live with Faez Ali Thameur. The pair did consummate the marriage, it is claimed.

Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the world, is notorious for its child brides.

Noujoud’s unemployed father, Mohammad Ali Al-Ahdal, told the court he felt obliged to marry off his daughter after receiving repeated threats from the would-be husband and his entourage.

He said was frightened because his oldest daughter had been kidnapped several years earlier and had been forced to marry her abductor.

Noujoud said she was also regularly beaten by her husband. Shatha Nasser, Noujoud’s lawyer, said: ‘Child brides are common in parts of Yemen, but this case received wider attention because it reached court.’

Now Nojoud and her eight year-old sister Hifa are able to go to school thanks to financial donations from human rights activists. Her case was also taken up by politicians including Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice and the actress Nicole Kidman.

Visiting Pantin, a suburb of Paris yesterday, Nojoud said: ‘Now I want to return to school so as to become a lawyer and help other girls like me.’

‘Me, Nojoud, 10, divorcee’ is published by Michel Lafon.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Turkey: Sermons in the Mosques to Inform About Exports, TIM

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JANUARY 27 — Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM) President, Mehmet Buyukeksi, has proposed that sermons be given in mosques to inform people about the importance of exports for Turkey, daily Today’s Zaman reported. Buyukeksi suggested that the Religious Affairs Directorate should have clerics inform people about exports and the value of righteousness in business and work ethics. “Exports are very important for a country, and the most important thing in exports is quality; people should know this; they should be aware of how much exports contribute to Turkey’s economy and how important it is to make the best of it and this topic should be emphasized in religious sermons”, he noted. He also underlined that Islam gives the utmost importance to business ethics and being righteous in trade affairs. “People should learn more about exporters and the valuable work they do for their country and this will improve the standing of exporters in public opinion”, Buyukeksi declared. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Turkish Investors Eye the Middle East

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JANUARY 29 — The Middle East and the Gulf region, which does not consider cutting public investments despite the deterioration of oil prices, are still popular markets for Turkish investors, as Huriyet daily reports today. The regions, which attract investors due to their accumulated wealth, offer great opportunities particularly for Turkish contractors. Turkey’s annual export volume to the region currently stands at $8.3 billion, signaling a significant potential with its geographical as well as cultural closeness. The figure is expected to triple within five years. Turkish firms have grabbed global orders worth $110 billion, and these regions constitute $60 billion of the firms’ business volume. Apart from contractor services, export volume has risen from $5.4 billion to $8.3 billion in two years. According to November 2008 data, Turkey’s exports rose 318% to Bahrain, 166% to the United Arab Emirates, or UAE, 151% to Qatar, 127% to Kuwait, 90% to Lebanon, 51% to Iran and 34% to Iraq, compared to the previous year. The sovereign wealth funds of Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait government constitute the world’s largest investment funds, said Korhan Kurdoglu, chairman of the Turkish-UAE Business Council. Total fund volume under the control of Gulf countries is around $1.7 trillion, he said, adding that the figure is expected to reach $5-$6 trillion by 2015. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]


Russians in Sweden: Taming a Fear of the Bear

In the first of a series highlighting different communities in Sweden, The Local’s David Landes takes a look at how the sprawling and complex history of Swedish-Russian relations affects life for Russians living in Sweden today.

Any cursory glance at Swedish history reveals that Russia has continuously affected Swedish politics and society — from centuries of war to a shared passion for vodka.

And even though there hasn’t been a war between the two countries for 200 years, the complicated legacy of Sweden’s relationship with that lumbering bear to the east continues to affect contemporary attitudes towards Sweden’s Russian community.

Most accounts of relations between the Swedes and Russians start with Rurik, a Viking leader who supposedly united a number of Slavic tribes in western Russia sometime in the 9th century to form an early precursor to the modern Russian state.

Another popular but disputed theory even holds that the word “Russia” itself derives from ‘Rhos’ or ‘Rus’, the name by which the Viking transplants were known at the time, and which refers to Roslagen, a region along Sweden’s central east cost.

“Russians have a very positive image of Sweden,” says Lioudmila Siegel, referencing Sweden’s connection to the founding of Russia….

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

South Asia

Bangkok Postpones Repatriation of Rohingya Refugees

The 78 refugees will be treated for wounds caused by Myanmar soldiers. Prime Minister Abhisit says he is not going to change policy on repatriation. A Myanmar official denies that a Rohingya ethnic minority even exist in his country

Bangkok (AsiaNews) — Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjachiva has postponed the repatriation of 78 Rohingya refugees picked up last Monday off the south-western coast of Thailand in the Andaman sea. He ordered forensic experts to examine their wounds, but according to preliminary results, burn marks and cuts are more than 10 days old and so could not have been caused by Thai officials.

Khunying Porntip Rojanasunan, the director-general of the Institute of Forensic Science, said that the refugees confirmed that the signs of torture “were caused by Burmese soldiers.” She added that the refugees will be treated in Thailand until they recover before deportation.

In fact postponement does not mean that Bangkok is going to change its policy vis-à-vis Rohingya refugees.

For Mr Abhisit, the Rohingya are a “security problem” and that it is still “necessary to force the illegal migrants out of the country”, albeit without “mistreatment.”

In saying so the prime minister, who is also the leader of the Democrat Party, seems to be reneging on what he had said when he was leader of the opposition.

“Morality on human rights is of the utmost importance to the Thai people and inherent in its character. Defending human rights must remain a prominent feature because Thai society is sensitive to the matter,” he had said.

The government’s current policy is backed by the army, which has justified the treatment meted out to Rohingya refugees landing on the country’s coasts.

“The report that naval officers mistreated the Rohingya is not true,” said Admiral Kamthorn Phumhiran, commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Navy.

“Imagine 200 Rohingya illegally entering Thailand with only 18 officers to take charge of them,” he explained. “It is necessary to have them take off their shirts to see if they have a weapon [on them] and have them lay face down. Otherwise there is no way 200 people can be controlled”.

The United Nations has intervened in the matter, urging Thailand to launch a “full inquiry” into the alleged mistreatment of refugees, voicing none the less doubts about the its “transparency” and “speed”.

The regional head of the UN’s refugee agency, Raymond Hall, has in fact asked for permission to see the latest group of migrants, but so far Thai authorities have not granted it.

An unnamed Myanmar official said there was no evidence to suggest that the Rohingya were from Myanmar.

“There is no so-called Rohingya ethnic minority group in our history before or after our independence,” he said. “It is totally unacceptable to say the Rohingya are from Myanmar.”

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

Indonesia Targets Polygamy

JAKARTA — INDONESIA is planning a crackdown on illegal polygamous marriages and will ask all Muslim couples to undergo pre-wedding marriage courses, an official said on Monday. Religious affairs ministry official Nasaruddin Umar told AFP the government was concerned about rising rates of divorce, especially the increasing numbers of women who are leaving their polygamous husbands.

According to Indonesian court figures, in 2007 there were 937 cases of divorce due to differences over polygamy, up from a reported 813 in 2004.

Polygamy is technically legal in this mainly Muslim country, but only when the husband has registered his marriages and received the consent of his other wives.

‘In our law, polygamy is allowed but the requirements are very hard. The man has to get the consent of his wife but a normal wife will never give consent to her husband wanting to marry another woman,’ Mr Umar said.

‘What’s happening is that men are taking another wife without registering the marriage, usually through a religious ceremony which is considered legal for Islam.

‘In the near future we will also issue a regulation that bans this kind of marriage.’

Mr Umar said the marriage course would last about one day and would be compulsory for all engaged Muslim couples hoping to marry.

‘We will teach them about the risk of polygamy. The statistics show that polygamy does more harm than good,’ he said.

‘We have observed that the increasing divorce rate is caused by the fact that couples don’t have sufficient knowledge about the substance of a marriage.’ He said the idea was to ‘eliminate or reduce the number of couples seeking divorce’.

Along with issues surrounding polygamy, the course would cover topics such as family planning and domestic violence.

‘They will learn about contraception so that they won’t have a child every year… About domestic violence, most married couples don’t know that domestic violence can carry a jail sentence in this country,’ he said. — AFP

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Malaysia: Clash Over Use of ‘Allah’

KUALA LUMPUR: Two Malaysian Cabinet members are at odds over the use of the word ‘Allah’ by a Catholic publication. The issue is now before the High Court with the Catholic Church seeking a ruling on the right to continue using the word.

Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, leader of the Upko political party in Sabah and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, said the terminology is widely used in Indonesia and also in Arab countries by Christians.

‘So it is a universal terminology used in the Christian world when they are praying in their vernacular language. There is no reason for the Home Ministry to continue harassing the Catholic Herald,’ The Malaysian Insider reported him as saying.

His Cabinet colleague, Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, hit back at him last Saturday when he told Mingguan Malaysia: ‘There are some non-Muslim leaders who are asking that permission be granted so that the word ‘Allah’ can be used, using Indonesia as an example.

‘This is Malaysia. Do not equate us with another country. We are an Islamic country as stated in the Constitution,’ he said, adding that there was a hidden agenda to use the word ‘Allah’ in the Herald, the Catholic publication.

In raising this issue, Mr Ahmad Zahid said a small group of non-Muslim leaders was trying to question the position of Islam in Malaysia.

Islam is the official religion under the Federal Constitution while the right of non-Muslims to worship is also protected.

‘Don’t play with fire and challenge the Muslims. We are willing to do anything to protect our religion,’ he warned.

Muslims have long feared that Christian groups are bent on preaching and converting followers of Islam. They see the use of the word ‘Allah’ as a subtle way of spreading Christianity to Muslims — a charge church leaders have dismissed.

The ‘Allah’ issue could have an impact on a by-election in Pensiangan, Sabah, which is likely to be called when a court rules on election irregularities soon.

Mr Dompok represents the Kadazandusun community in Sabah, many of whom are Christians.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Truckling to the Taliban

Pakistan’s 1.4m military shies away from fighting the extremists. It must show whose side it’s on

Listen, for far in the distance one can hear the sound of a great tin cup rattling. The president of Pakistan tells the newest president on the block (via the Washington Post) that his country could be “the most critical external problem” facing the US. And he wants “aggressive, innovative action” against the forces of darkness. But for Pakistan to defeat the extremists, it must be stable — and economically viable. So give us the money, and necessary military hardware, too. Then together we can try to do something about Afghanistan and our collapsing region — your slightly desperate friend, Asif Ali Zardari.

Well, that’s the story of the last 30 years — perhaps even the basic story of Pakistan’s short existence. Hang tight with whoever happens to be in the White House and hope that he delivers enough goods to keep us afloat. But now, perhaps, there’s a new answer building. Ask not what the US treasury can do for you — ask, rather, what you can do for America. And, first, ask Pakistan’s million-plus military. (Immediately deployable men, 650,000; plus 350,000 paramilitary, and reservists and reserve reservists, making 1.4 million in a crisis — the seventh biggest national defence total in the world.)

Turn those big figures inside out. Short of resources to fight the Taliban inside Pakistan as Nato’s secretary general rattles his own tin cup? Anxious, if you’re Obama, to wind down Iraqi deployments so you can bring critical mass to bear from Kabul to Helmand to the long, infinitely porous border with Pakistan? Then look at the troops already there or thereabouts on the ground.

Factor in some of Zardari’s millions. “Unlike in the 1980s, we are surrogates for no one,” he writes. “We need no lectures on our commitment. This is our war. It is our children and wives who are dying.”

Very well. Then follow the logic and match his pretty desperate assertion against 60 years of war and constant tension. Pakistan’s army is the largest, most omnipresent political player in the country. Four of its leaders have doubled as military dictators — rivalling mere elected politicians in time served at the top. The army, in that sense, is effectively a political party itself, seizing power when the quasi-democrats fail and relinquishing it when their popularity begins to run dry. And, within that neat game of pass the power parcel, there are well-oiled wheels within wheels. Retired top brass don’t go home to the Punjab and sit on their porches: they run corporations, found factories, open carpet emporiums and travel agencies. In sum, they accumulate nice little earners, wrapped safe by the nest-feathering activities of previous army generations. Putting on the braid is one of the best insurance policies in the world.

And who — as America pours in more billions of dollars — is the main enemy here? Not those involved in “our war, where women and children are dying”. No, as always, the alleged enemy is India, with Kashmir as casus belli. Military intelligence specialises in shadowy manoeuvres involving Kabul (where Indian influence is a supposed threat). Army deployment concentrates along the border with India, supposedly ready for any attack…

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Ex-ISI Chief: Nuke India if Necessary

Former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Hamid Gul says Islamabad should not hesitate to use nuclear weapons against New Delhi.

“It is the matter of country’s defense and existence, therefore, Pakistan should never be hesitant to use its atomic capabilities if need arises,” a Press TV correspondent quoted Gul as saying on Sunday.

The ex-ISI chief who was speaking at the “Defense of Pakistan” conference held in Islamabad added that Pakistan’s inferior military might would trigger the need for the use of nuclear weapons.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Sri Lanka: Anti-Conversion Bill: Minorities Fear Restrictions on Religious Freedom

Tabled in January by a party led by Buddhist monks, the draft law could be adopted before the end of next month. Its purpose is to stop people from changing religion under pressure or in exchange of economic advantages. A similar bill had been presented in 2004 but failed after the Supreme Court found it unconstitutional. Protestant Churches have already mobilised against the bill; Catholics are concerned about it and waiting for their bishops to take a stand.

Colombo (AsiaNews) — A draft anti-conversion bill has been before Sri Lanka’s parliament since 6 January and could become law before the end of next month. National media have tended to give the matter scant coverage but many in the population wonder about its risks and merit. The bill is purportedly designed to stop people from being forced to convert from one religion to another under duress or when enticed by money or economic advantages.

The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), a party founded in 2004 and led by Buddhist monks, is one of the bill’s main backers. But opposition leader Joseph Michael Perera has called for two debates on the proposal because it affects all religions, various organisations and political parties, and could harm relations among the island nation’s various confessions.

Buddhists are 68 per cent of the population of Sri Lanka; Hindus are about 11 per cent; Muslims 9 per cent; Christians about 6.8 per cent.

Most Sri Lankan Buddhists welcomed the anti-conversion bill. A young university student told AsiaNews that “this law is as necessary as the government’s destruction of the LTTE (Tamil Tigers rebels). We must rid ourselves of all those who convert (others), priests and pastors who destroy our Buddhist-Sinhalese culture. Christians are living in this land peacefully because of the great Buddhism. . . . Otherwise they would have washed out long ago.”

At least one monk agrees with the student. For him “there is no place for many religions, many ethnic groups or many cultures. This is the only purely Buddhist and Sinhalese country in the world.”

The bill is above all controversial because it does not clearly define what constitutes forced conversion. In fact charity work and help to the poor could be seen as a form of coercion to be punished with up to seven years in prison or fines of up to 500,000 rupees (US$ 4,400).

In 2004 the JHU had tabled a similar law, provoking criticism, especially in Christian communities. But in response to a challenge filed by the National Christian Evangelical Alliance Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court ruled that two points in this early draft bill were unconstitutional because they were in violation of Article 10 of the Sri Lankan constitution which says that “Every person is entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including the freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.”

At that time the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka (CBCS) had sent a letter to lawmakers, warning them of the “terrible dangers” the bill could entail if it was adopted.

Working with the National Council of Christian Churches and some Hindu and Muslim leaders, the CBCS opposed the bill, warning however some Christian fundamentalist groups against taking advantage of the debate to harm inter-faith relations in the country.

Even now that anti-conversion legislation is back on the front burner, Protestant communities were quick off the mark in their opposition—on Monday Evangelical Churches organised a collective prayer at Colombo’s Vihara Maha Devi Park.

Catholic Church leaders appear to be showing more restraint in the matter. For their part, the faithful are waiting for the bishops to speak up.

One Catholic when asked about the issue said: “We are waiting for our bishops and fathers to take the initiative and take steps for the good of our faith. We need a society that is united. We need Church leaders to come together as one voice and articulate our opposition to this terrible law.”

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

Tensions Rise Between Nepal and India After Indian Comedy Implies Buddha Was Born in India

Demonstrations take place in the main cities of the mountain nation. ‘Chandni Chowk to China’, a movie that suggests that the Buddha was born in India, is the cause. Screening of the film in Nepal is banned. Nepali nationalists call on the government to defend national independence from Indian attacks.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) — Hundreds of people have taken to the streets of Nepal’s capital and four other cities to protest against an Indian comedy titled ‘Chandni Chowk to China’ (poster pictured) because it implies that the Buddha was born in India.

Tradition has it that Siddhartha Gautama was born in the small principality of Kapilvastu, now a south-western district in modern-day Nepal.

Having their country as the birthplace of the first Buddha is for Nepalis a source of national pride.

The suggestion made in the movie, the first Sino-Indian co-production, that Gautama was born in India has been received in Nepal as a national insult. For Nepali nationalists it is just another attack from India against their country’s identity and independence.

News about the birthplace slip reached Nepal after Nepalis living in Great Britain saw the movie and told family and friends back home.

Protests also reached the government, which banned the movie from the country’s theatres and sent a formal letter of protest to its counterpart in New Delhi.

Nepal’s foreign minister has demanded India correct the error and removed the offending scene.

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

US Citizen Kidnapped in Pakistan

Suspected Taliban militants have kidnapped a US citizen working for the United Nations in Pakistan, and shot dead his driver.

John Solecki, the head of the UN refugee office in Quetta, was kidnapped as he was being driven to work.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. The vast south-western province of Baluchistan is home to both Taliban militants and an insurgency by Baluch separatist rebels, but Baluch groups are not known to target foreigners.

Pakistani police said that Mr Solecki had been given protection, but travelled to his office without an escort.

Exits from the city were sealed and police on the border with Afghanistan searched vehicles in an attempt to prevent Mr Solecki being smuggled out of Pakistan.

The UN expressed “extreme shock and dismay” at the kidnapping and the killing of the driver, Syed Hashim.

A statement said: “We strongly condemn this attack on humanitarian workers in Pakistan who have been doing their utmost to deliver their humanitarian mission.”

Foreigners in Pakistan have been repeatedly targeted in recent months as the government battles both a deeply entrenched Islamist insurgency in the tribal north west and rising violent crime…

           — Hat tip: Holger Danske [Return to headlines]

Far East

China — EU: Wen Jiabao and Barroso Talk About the Economy. Silence on Human Rights

The next China-EU summit is in April. The theme: presenting a united front on the economic crisis; commercial and cultural cooperation; joint work on the climate. Taiwanese, Tibetans, Falun Gong, and Amnesty International are calling for efforts on human rights, but with no results. On February 9, China must undergo its periodic examination on human rights by the UN commission in Geneva.

Brussels (AsiaNews) — China and the European Union agree on holding a summit on the economy and trade as soon as possible. The announcement was made by prime minister Wen Jiabao and by Manuel Barroso, president of the EU commission, at the end of a meeting held today in Brussels. Wen arrived yesterday evening at the general headquarters of the EU, as part of his “journey of trust” to a few European countries.

Together, they decided to hold the second China-EU forum by April of 2009. The meeting had been scheduled for last December, while France held the rotating presidency, but China refused to participate after Nicolas Sarkozy decided to meet with the Dalai Lama in Gdansk.

The meeting between Wen and the EU commission touched upon various themes: preparation for the G20 in London; the fight against climate change; air traffic; clean energy; cooperation in education and research.

Because of the global economic crisis, China wants to extend its trade relations with the EU, given the drop in foreign demand that is forcing many Chinese factories to close. The EU also wants to extend its commercial ties, calling for a lowering of import tariffs in China, and an adjustment in the balance of payments.

The issue of human rights seems to be water under the bridge. In recent months, the European parliament invited the Dalai Lama to speak in Brussels, and awarded the Sakharov Prize to the activist Hu Jia, in prison for publishing articles about democracy on the internet.

Tibetans, Taiwanese, members of Falun Gong continue to ask the EU to take a stance on human rights violations in China, but these appeals seem to be falling on deaf ears. Amnesty International has also asked for greater effort on the part of the EU for the liberation of Hu Jia and in favor of dissent, especially in view of the periodic examination on human rights at the UN in Geneva, to which China must submit next February 9.

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

Philippines: Sulu Sultan Asserts Rights Over Sabah

MANILA, Philippines—The Sultanate of Sulu on Saturday declared it would assert its property rights over Sabah (formerly North Borneo) regardless of the unresolved territorial dispute between the Philippines and Malaysia.

Sultan Esmail Dalus Kiram II said he had entered into an agreement with foreign companies to develop Sabah, especially its oil and gas, to press his proprietary rights.

In a speech at the Manila Pavilion Hotel in Manila, the sultan said, “I am getting old and the wait is too long and so I decided to sign a development contract with some legitimate foreign companies to develop our property.”

He said he had sent copies of the contract to the Malaysian prime minister to inform him “that we mean to exercise our rights as stipulated by the British high court of Borneo (in 1939).”

Sabah was leased to the British North Borneo Co. in 1878 by the Sultanate of Sulu but it was made part of the Federation of Malaysia in 1963 after the British granted it independence.

The Philippines’ pending claim to Sabah is dormant at this time but Kuala Lumpur continues to pay yearly rent to the sultan.

The sultan’s son and royal commerce secretary, Abdula Kiram, explained that “we will exercise ownership regardless of which government owns [Sabah].”

He said they will not question the sovereignty issue because it is “complicated.”

The younger Kiram lamented the measly $1,000 Malaysia pays in annual rent for Sabah compared to the $10-12 billion annual income the territory generates for the Malaysian government.

In the same forum, the sultan said they will tap private security agencies to maintain law and order in Sulu.

He said, “The Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo (Sabah) has decided to tap quasi-government security and peacekeeping agencies to foil any attempt of terrorist and kidnap groups to use the sultanate regions in their continued kidnap for ransom activities.”

He added that the “lawless groups using the regions of Sulu in sowing terror send a negative signal to would-be investors in the region.”

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Pyongyang Scraps Political and Military Accords With South Korea

According to the north’s communist regime the two nations are “on the brink of war”. Seoul seeks to calm tensions and restore dialogue. Analysts see Pyongyang’s move an attempt to gain greater weight in negotiations with the US. But the possibility of an inter-Korean war is not excluded.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) — North Korea has scrapped all political and military agreements with South Korea and accuses Seoul of hostile intent. According to Pyongyang the hard-line policies of Lee Myung-bak have pushed the neighbouring nations “to the brink of war” and it has not ruled out the possibility of “imminent naval clashes” along the Northern Limit Line, the western marine border that has long been a source of tension between the two nations.

“All the agreed points concerning the issue of putting an end to the political and military confrontation between the North and the South will be nullified,” the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said, adding that the situation had arrived at a point where there was “neither way to improve [relations] nor hope to bring them on track”. The document arrives shortly after an official meeting between the North’s dictator Kim Jong-il and a high level Chinese diplomat, during which the “dear leader” declared he did not want to see “tensions emerge on the Korean peninsula”.

Seoul is trying to calm tensions expressing its “regret” at the communist government’s announcement and calling for “dialogue”. “Our government expresses deep regret — said Kim Ho-Nyoun, spokesman for South Korea’s unification ministry, which handles cross-border affairs — We urge North Korea to accept our call for dialogue as soon as possible”. Further fomenting tensions between the two nations was this week’s nomination of Hyun In-taek, professor of international relations at Korea University and considered a “hawk” in his field, to lead the Unification Ministry. It was a strong sign from South Korean president Lee, that he has no intention of backtracking on the issue of the North’s nuclear ambitions or the threat that the communist regime presents. Seoul has always maintained that the food and economic aid depend on the dismantling of the North’s nuclear program.

Some analysts believe that Pyongyang is trying to build up tensions with the South in order to give itself more negotiating power with the new US administration, under Barak Obama. A more pessimistic analysis suggests that the rising tension does raise the possibility of small-scale military clashes.

Since 1953, the year in which the war between the two Koreas officially ended, there has never been the official signing of a formal peace accord, but over time relations between the two nations had improved: in 2000 joint economic projects were started and many families, divided since the war, were reunited through cross border visits.

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


German Interior Minister Pledges to Improve Turkish Integration

German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is calling for greater efforts in integrating Germany’s immigrant communities, in particular those of Turkish origin, in a newspaper article to be published on Monday.

“The linguistic integration, especially of citizens of Turkish origin, must be improved”, Schaeuble wrote for Monday’s edition of the Hamburger Abendblatt.

“We need more intensive pre-school preparation for children of migrants, so they can use education as an opportunity,” the interior minister wrote.

Figures released last week showed that Germany’s population of Turkish descent is poorly integrated, compared to other immigrant groups.

Poor results

Education, considered a key indicator of integration, shows significantly low results for Turks or Germans of Turkish origin.

Around 30 percent have no school leaving qualification whatsoever, and just 14 percent have passed university entrance level exams, less then half the average of their German counterparts.

These results, Schaeuble said, couldn’t be ignored.

School leaving certificates and vocational training were preconditions for social participation, and thus for the unity and cohesion of our society, the minister wrote.

Guest workers no more

During the economic boom of the 1950s, large numbers of Turks were invited to work in Germany, on the understanding that these so-called “guest workers” would one day return home.

Instead, their families followed. Numbering 2.8 million people, Germany’s Turkish population is now one of the country’s largest immigrant groups.

The low socioeconomic standing of the Turkish laborers, coupled with their large presence in Germany, reduced the impetus for Turkish families to adapt to Germany, learn the language or value their children’s education, according to last week’s report.

Schaeuble expressed support for a rigorous discussion about integration.

“That counts for the recognition of the many achievements of immigrants, as well as a serious discussion about the deficits of integration.”

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Germany Criticized for Migration Issues at UN Rights Review

Germany came before the United Nations’ periodic country review to say it had a strong regard for human rights but was still in the process of tackling some open issues, including racism and immigration related matters.

“Xenophobia and racism are serious concerns for us,” Germany’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gernot Erler said before the Human Rights Council.

Since the introduction in 2007 of the UN’s Universal Period Review program, set up by the Human Rights Council, each country’s rights record is supposed to be checked once every four years.

Berlin came under criticism for problems related to the integration of immigrant children and the well-being of asylum seekers.

The German delegation to the review said steps were being taken, costing hundreds of millions of euros, to integrate immigrants, and that schools would no longer report undocumented children, making it easier for them to receive education.

About 18 percent of people living in Germany are first or second generation immigrants.

The salary gap between men and women was also raised at the review, but Erler said this was mostly a private sector issue.

Additionally, human rights groups said Germany had been too complacent during the US-led “war on terror” and let people pass through its territory en route to being tortured in other countries.

Erler also said that by 2020, Germany planned to dedicate 0.7 percent of its GDP to foreign development aid — the target amount set by the UN for developed countries.

Human rights groups, however, said the report did not take the situation in Germany seriously enough. Amnesty International’s UN expert said Silke Voss-Kyek the report had “nothing to do with reality in Germany.”

She criticized the German government for not taking a tough enough line against police for misconduct.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

UK Not Against Italian Workers

British ambassador says strikes not a sign of animosity

(ANSA) — Rome, February 2 — Italian workers in Britain are not at risk of discrimination nor is there any animosity towards them, London’s ambassador to Rome assured the Italian government on Monday.

Ambassador Edward Chaplin met Cabinet Secretary Gianni Letta at the premier’s office and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s view that the workers’ protest in Britain was not anti-Italian. Relations between Rome and London are ‘‘splendid.’’ he said.

The ambassador officially met with Letta to review preparations for Brown’s February 19 visit to Italy.

Last week British workers began a protest at Total’s Lindsey Oil refinery near Grimsby, Lincolnshire over a decision to award a £200 ($285, 224 euro) million construction contract to an Italian firm, IREM, employing Italian and Portuguese workers.

Workers at other plants have since come out in support and joined the demand for ‘‘British jobs for British workers’’.

Prime Minister Brown’s condemnation of the strikes won the full backing of the European Commission which applauded his position that ‘‘the single market is an advantage for all nations in the EU’’.

According to the EU executive, ‘‘opening markets creates new jobs and new opportunities. Jobs are not saved nor created by closing markets’’.

Brown’s stand was also backed by Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini who defined Brown as ‘‘a wise and competent person’’ and said that the wildcat strikes in Britain were ‘‘indefensible’’.

Frattini, also noted that Italian and British workers were free to work anywhere in the EU.

‘‘There is free circulation of labour in the EU — of Italians in Britain and Britons in Italy,’’ he said. NORTHERN LEAGUE VOICES COMPREHENSION FOR STRIKERS.

Although the protest has been criticised by the government, opposition and unions in Italy, it has found some support from a key ally in Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative government: the devolutionist Northern League, which in the past has voiced opposition to immigration.

In an interview published Monday in the Turin daily La Stampa, Northern League House Whip Roberto Cota said ‘‘the British workers are right’’ and what is taking place in Britain ‘‘is the most classic consequence of globalization’’.

According to Cota, ‘‘the job market, especially during a recession, must be managed on a local level. However, this is not the case and it is creating problems today in Britain and, sooner or later, in Veneto,’’ the northeast Italian region.

‘‘Northeast Italy is already beginning to have these problems. Foreign workers are taking jobs away from Italians. What we need is a moratorium on the influx of foreigners, the way Spain did,’’ he added.

In regard to the free flow of persons in the EU, Cota explained that this was fine for the highly skilled ‘‘but not for the common blue-collar worker. The market only works if it has rules. Total open competition is unfair’’.

‘‘We need to guarantee jobs for our own. Businessmen who want foreign workers because they cost less are engaging in unfair competition practices,’’ he added.

‘‘The time has come to re-write international labor laws. Gordon Brown says the strike is illegal, maybe he says this for diplomatic reasons. In any case, it’s Britain which continues to remain outside the euro zone.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UK: 17,000 Asylum Seekers’ Files Lost

More than 17,000 files containing the personal details of refugees and their families have been lost by the government, plunging the asylum system into chaos.

The names, dates of birth, passport numbers and addresses of people applying to stay in Britain as well as details of their children are believed to be among the documents. In many cases, applicants have had to begin the process again, while still unable to work or claim benefits.

This follows a series of high-profile losses of data, including an Inland Revenue CD with the details of 25 million child-benefit claimants, four CDs with the names of dozens of magistrate court defendants and witnesses, and a Ministry of Defence laptop containing details of 620,000 recruits and potential recruits.

The disclosure comes just days after the National Audit Office found that a backlog of up to 200,000 cases is still to be examined by the UK Border Agency.

MPs and human rights groups were last night furious about the scale of the blunder, claiming that it demonstrated the agency is failing and has left vulnerable people open to identity theft.

Shailesh Vara, a Tory party frontbencher who has raised the issue with the Home Office, said: “This is a huge number. As well as the uncertainty for the individuals concerned, there are serious security implications if the files end up in the wrong hands.”

Emma Ginn, co-ordinator of Medical Justice, which helps the victims of torture, said that she has witnessed many asylum seekers suffering delays because their files have been lost. “We have seen numerous asylum seekers become mentally ill during years of ‘limbo’ while the Home Office seem to have lost their file. Many self-harmed and some were hospitalised after serious suicide attempts,” she said.

The figures emerged from the office of Phil Woolas, the immigration minister, in response to a parliamentary question from Dr Brian Iddon, Labour MP for Bolton South East.

Asked how many files from those seeking the right to remain in Britain have been lost, the minister replied: “The UK Border Agency maintains a rolling programme of locating files, and parts of files, that have been identified as lost. On 10 November there were 17,208 principal files recorded as lost.”

According to immigration caseworkers, the number of lost files has escalated because more casework is being done by regional offices, instead of offices in central London. As a result, more paper files are being transported across the country and being lost in transit.

“Principal” files can include a number of claimants from the same family. Some files include passport details, driving licence numbers and bank details, leaving the claimants open to fraud.

Bashir Ahmud, 34, an Afghan living in Manchester, applied for asylum in December 2007 on the grounds that he had faced torture and abuse at the hands of the Taliban. He was told in February 2008 through his solicitor that his file could not be located by the Home Office.

He said that he was finally told through his solicitor in May that he should consider his file lost. “I had no money, no work, and no right to a room or any benefits. I have friends who have looked after me, and fed me, or I could have starved,” he said.

A spokesman for the Information Commissioner’s Office said last night that it would be contacting the Home Office to establish how and why the files came to be lost. “Where organisations rely heavily on paper records it is important that they ensure they have back-up copies,” the spokesman said.

A UK Border Agency spokesman said that the files were lost while being moved between different offices and storage facilities. He added that the files only represent 0.2 per cent of the total number of files that are held by the Home Office.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]


Church Organization Refuses to Divulge if Pastors Are on FEMA Payroll

A large church organization has refused to divulge how many of its pastors are on the FEMA payroll, after a member expressed concerns about religious leaders being used to condition their congregation to accept the declaration of martial law.

In a May 2006 story we first broke the shocking news that FEMA was training pastors and other religious representatives to become secret police enforcers who teach their congregations to “obey the government” in preparation for a declaration of martial law, property and firearm seizures, and forced relocation.

Despite debunkers and urban myth websites claiming the story was a hoax, it was confirmed in triplicate by mainstream news outlets over a year later.

Church Organization Refuses To Divulge If Pastors Are On FEMA Payroll 161008pptv1

A KSLA news report confirmed that Clergy Response Teams are being trained by the federal government to “quell dissent” and pacify citizens to obey the government in the event of a declaration of martial law.

[Return to headlines]

Obama Says US Can Work With Muslims: OIC(AFP)

RIYADH — President Barack Obama told the Organisation of Islamic Conference that he has full confidence that the United States can work together with the world’s largest grouping of Muslims, the OIC said on Sunday.

In a letter to OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihasanoglu, Obama said he would work to improve relations with the group, the Jeddah-based organisation said in a statement.

It did not release the text of the letter.

Obama also thanked the OIC, which represents 1.5 billion Muslims in 57 countries, for its congratulations on the occasion of his inauguration on January 20, the organisation said.

In an open letter published in major US newspapers on January 21, the OIC urged Obama to work for a “shared” peace in the world rather than one that is “imposed.”

“We warmly welcome your expressed desire to give a major address in a Muslim nation soon after you assume the presidency and hope it will mark the beginning of a more fruitful and better-informed dialogue between the West and the Muslim world,” the OIC said at the time.

“We firmly believe that America, with your guidance, can help foster that peace, though real peace can only be shared — never imposed. A nation can either be great or feared, but rarely both at the same time.”

           — Hat tip: Paul Green [Return to headlines]

11 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 2/2/2009

  1. I just read the article about Zero’s talks with Syria and Iran, while the Bush Administration was still in office.
    Isn’t that enough to try ANYBODY for treason? Is Zero above the LAW?

    I also read the article about the “Stimulus” and the part about Acorn and voter fraud.
    Where is the FBI, prosecutors and the courts in this? Acorn will GLUE the Left to power for the next 1000 years (no, the mention of a 1000 year socialist US Reich is not coincidental!) with the $ 5.2 BILLION stimulus handed out to them by a very grateful Dem Party and Prez!

    I just effing MOVED to this country 7 years ago, to escape this kind of socialist scheming, fraud and bullying! It makes me angry as hell, to think, that I would NEVER be granted US citizenship, if I had the friends and associates that the hollow new kid in the White House has …

    It is such dangerous crap, this nation is exposed to now. Just look over the pond, at Europe. What you see, that undescribable cowardice of the European individual in the face of every self-declared minority, it’s coming HERE!

    Where do I have to move, to find America?


  2. The best way to understand what Sustainable Development actually is, can be found by discovering what is NOT sustainable. According to the UN’s Biodiversity Assessment Report, items for our everyday lives that are NOT sustainable include: Ski runs, grazing of livestock, plowing of soil, building fences, industry, single family homes, paved and tarred roads, logging activities, dams and reservoirs, power line construction, and economic systems that fail to set proper value on the environment (capitalism, free markets). There are many more specifically listed on UN documents, but these examples should show clearly how Sustainable Development is not compatible with a free society.

    Sustainable Development is the ideology of death: the death of the to be recreated common serf whilst the rich are not living by this doctrine. life for most will turn back millenia to a brutal, animal existence. Do not believe for one minute that the wealthy will not have their grazing animals, plowed fields, and paved roads.

  3. @TC
    Simon & Garfunkel are not America: the America of these two is the America of which you complain.

    Where do I have to move, to find America?

    It has gone. My homeland is not coming back. I am now a stranger in a land that only has superficial relationship to the one I was born in and grew up in.

  4. NJArtist

    “Simon & Garfunkel are not America: the America of these two is the America of which you complain.”

    Oh, hey, thanks for the lecture!

    This was not about S&G or about the 60s as the beginning of the Disaster. It’s about LOST INNOCENCE! Do you understand that concept?

  5. Well, about the “British strikes”:

    They have all the right to complaint and I would be supportive of their struggle if there were not two things:

    1) Among those “British” employees struggling for work in the name of their Nationality I saw some Pakistani/MiddleEastern/North African faces, defeinetly not “British” and hardly European at all.

    2) Their lack of courage to make such noise when the imported workers are a little bit darker than Portuguese and Italians.

    Nonetheless the declarations of the Portuguese Minister of Foreign Affairs was disgusting:

    We want to underline the absolute responsability the governments have to assume in order to avoid a proteccionst, xenophobic, nationalist way, that, if it is not stopped rapidly by stronger governmental power may drag us to an ever bigger crisis.


    A compilation of some official statistics I found:

    Portugal, the poorer Nation of Weestern Europe has already been bypassed by some Eastern European counterparts like the Czech Republic and Greece. It is a country of almost 11 million people, 6 to 10% of whom are ethinc minorities mostly arrived since the late 80s;

    During the nineties, Portugal inverted its traditional position as a net exporter of migrants towards Western Europe and the Americas (and Africa and Oceania), registering between 1991 and 2001, a positive NET MIGRATION RATE OF 404 747 people. This tendence became stronger and BETWEEN 1995 AND 2003 THE PORTUGUESE NET MIGRATION RATE WAS ALWAYS SUPERIOR TO THAT OF THE EUROPEAN UNION despite being the poorest Nation of Western Europe.

    Portugal entered the European Union in 1986.

    Despite all this numbers and the positive net Migration Rate, Portugal continues to be a country where the Native People is forced to immigrate, as it has always been;
    Raw numbers are difficult to get, especially because immigration is free across most of the European Union. There is a great dynamism in the migratory movements between Portugal and Galiza, while “Galegos” come to the Portuguese metropolitan areas to work, especially as nurses and in the business sector, it is estimated that most of the male population of some municipalities of the North of Portugal go seasonally work in Galiza;

    Besides this strong dynamics of immigration, since 2005 70 000 Portuguese HAVE EMMIGRATED ANUALYL (0,7% of the population) some fifty thousand to other European Union Nations and twenty thousand towards the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Andorra, Angola, Brazil and other destenies.


    If this is not National descontruction, I do not know what is it.
    I must tell you that if someone had this as a plan, it is working wonderfully all across the European Civilisational World.

  6. Afonso, many of those people you mentioned have been here for several generations or have at least made the effort to gain citizenship. They are British. Britain is the state. They are not English. England is the nation.

    This isn’t about race. It’s about the right for a nation state to determine its own work practices, a right that is being denied by our membership of the EU. These people are all British citizens protesting to have that right restored even if they don’t necessarily realise that yet.

  7. @TC
    You’re welcome for the lecture. As I am not a member of the Professoriate — by choice, I will not be sending you a bill for my services.

    And yes, I do understand the loss of innocence. Thank you for asking. I also understand the disappointment of delayed hope and frustrated dreams.

  8. So I just found out today that on top of everything else, the government is now requiring any commercial vehicle towing a trailer to fit a tachograph. Not ust big trucks – any vehicle. There are literally hundreds of thousands of these vehicles around. The local heavy tool rental place near us is probably going to shut down because of this one regulation due to the sheer cost of compliance. In the middle of a freaking recession they do this… Are they trying to destroy this country?

    No wait, don’t answer that.

  9. Archonix, no doubt, “sem dúvida”.

    “They are British. Britain is the state. They are not English. England is the nation.”

    And as you said, you end up not having a Nation State, that is a State that corresponds to a Nation and acts in the best way to defend the Nation’s interest.

    And that is why I have some difficulties in supporting these British workers as strongly I would like to.

    Can’t you see that all those Portuguese and Italians are potentially British too???

    It reminds me of a report here of Portuguese people being “victims of racism” in Northern Ireland.

    In the end half were Africans and the other half were socialists, one of the phrase the Portuguese – African “Portuguese” or Europeans otherwise – were always repeating was:

    “I earn more being unemployed here than I did working in Portugal. That’s why I stay.”

    I would support any one who would comit acts of “racism” against such parasitic immigrant hosts.

    This however is not the case. These are people who were contracted for an Italian company to work in England. Technically, they are not that parasitic (here we have a word: “chupista” meaning something like suck-ist) kind of immigrants and are not “stealing the jobs” or “lowering the salaries” of no one.

    … and being they potentially British, I have to say that I cannot support the English with as much strneght as I would like to.

    Do not doubt me however that I would like to see a British Britain and jobs for British workers. I desire the best for England and all the British Isles.

    P.S. – Archonix, not to mention that not-English-at-all cowardy that is here once more evident:
    1) Immigration started to be discussed because the immigrants were Poles;
    2) Cheap work started to be discussed because the immigrants are Italians.

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