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Archive for the ‘Italy’ Category

Some weeks ago, I blogged about Oliver Stone’s new film project about Ahmadinejad’s life. At first, he was rejected considering him a part of the Great Satan. Well, Ahmadenijad has thought about it and has finally given his approval to make the film:

Fars News just reported that Iranian President Ahmadinejad has given Oliver Stone approval to film his biography:

TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has expressed his approval of acclaimed director Oliver Stone’s plans to make a film about him.

“I have no objection, generally speaking, but they have to let me know what are the frameworks. They should talk to my colleagues. Principally speaking, I have no objection,” President Ahmadinejad told reporters during a press conference here in Tehran on Tuesday.

This was probably the kicker that pushed Mahmoud over the top:

“Stone’s publicist referred to the bad image that the U.S. media has given to Islam and Islamic countries and said that the documentary could assist in countering such negative propaganda.

😯

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Some news about peaceful and respectful Muslims:

  1. English speaking Muslims living in America stomp on the American flag, state that they are taking advantage of the “loophole” in American law that gives them free speech, and proclaim that Islam will take over America and the world, and dribble out a multitude of Allah akbars ….
  2. Editor-in-chief Of UK-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi: ‘I’ll Dance in Trafalgar Square When Iran Nukes Israel’.

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The EU, just wasting money in useful things:

Officials of the European Union are investigating the special tax treatment accorded to the Catholic Church in Italy, asking whether the policies give unfair competitive advantages to Catholic institutions that engage in commercial activity.
The ANSA news service reports that the European Commission is considering a full inquiry into a 2006 law that exempts Church property for real-estate taxes, and allows a substantial discount for corporate taxes owed by Church-owned businesses.
Bishop Giuseppe Betori, the vice-president of the Italian bishops’ conference, has argued that the tax exemptions are amply justified, since they apply only to Church organizations that engage in charitable, cultural, or educational work. Bishop Betori observed, in an interview with the daily Avvenire, that similar tax breaks are given to other Italian institutions that “serve the common good.”

Later they will raise the VAT tax and say “Ohh, we don’t have enough”.

I do not want the Church to have special treatment -in fact, I support the Church should be treated the same way as the rest of the religious institutions-. But that means the same way, equally to the rest of similar organizations.

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One of the best islamologues the Catholic Church has is Father Samir Khalil Samir, sj (here in Spanish some interviews; in the latter he says: Europe is stupid if it does not take into account that Islam is using its tolerance to “Islamize” it). He is an Egyptian Jesuit and teacher of History of Arab Culture and of Islamology both in Beirut and Rome. He has written recently two very interesting articles for AsiaNews.it about an extraordinary case which is happening just now:

The case of Mohammad Hegazi, young Egyptian converted to Christianity, who wishes to be legally recognized as such, has opened a new debate in the Islamic world on conversions, which are often seen as acts of apostasy that merit death. What has emerged is a veritable obsession in Islam for personal conversions, this religion having been reduced more to an ethnic and sociological submission. There is even talk of a plan to convert Europe and the world to Islam, to which European governments are giving a hand.
Beirut (AsiaNews) – The case has received a lot of public attention: a young Egyptian, Mohammad Ahmad Hegazi, age 25, converted to Christianity some years ago (some say 9, others 6 years ago; according to the Islamic version, it was just a few months ago!). He then married a woman named Zeinab, who also became Christian, taking the name Cristina. In recent months, he asked that his documents show his new religious affiliation. In Egypt, identity cards must indicate the holder’s religion and, so far, Hegazi’s is officially Islam. This means that he is considered to be Muslim for various legal questions pertaining to inheritance rights, family law etc.

His request was effectively been turned down by administrative authorities, who did not see his request through. So, Hegazi went to the government direct.Why did he ask for this change to be made only now, years after his conversion? Perhaps because the couple is expecting a baby. And if they are registered as Muslims, the child will have to be as well, regardless of the parents’ wishes.

When administrative authorities balked at his request, Hegazi went to the courts to claim his rights, with the help of a lawyer from an NGO.The case is extremely important, more than it may appear, also because it has been reported by media around the world and now the press in Egypt is also discussing it.Initially, reactions came from imams, then from the general public. The vast majority is saying that Mohammad Hegazi must be killed as an apostate. Only a small part dares to quote the Koran – which states that “there is no compulsion in religion” – and states its support for his freedom.

[…] The Islamic world is truly obsessed with conversions. At least 7 Islamic countries apply the death penalty to those who convert from Islam: Sudan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Mauritania. But in other states, like Egypt, converts are condemned to prison, not as apostates but for contempt of Islam, as Hossam Bahgat, a member of the Egyptian Initiative for personal rights, explains.

According to government daily Al-Massa’, all imams are unanimous on the need to kill the apostate Hegazi. They say that sharia (not the Koran) must be enforced and it calls for the death penalty.The more moderate say: if the apostate hides his conversion, does not broadcast his decision, then it is not necessary to kill him; he can live. If he lets it be known, then he causes scandal (fitna) and must die.

I happened to be looking through the web-site of the “Forum of Arab Aviation.” This case – Hegazi’s conversion — is the sole topic of the site’s “Islamic” section. There are 8 reactions registered on the page and they all say that he must be killed. Some are subtle, saying for example: “The government must take the harshest decision to eliminate this problem,” but all the others quote the Koran: “Fitna is worse than killing” (2,191 and 2,217); others say that “Islam is the better religion”; others still “Kill him to avoid fitna” (8,39); others: “He who wants a religion other than Islam, his worship will not be accepted and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers” (3,85). No one quotes the Koranic phrase that affirms freedom of conscience, the one quoted by the Pope at Regensburg last September 12: “there is no compulsion in religion (2, 186); nor the other that says: “Truth comes from your Lord. Let him who will believe and let him who will not believe” (18,29).

[…] In any case, 3 famous imam have pronounced themselves against Hegazi. The first is Imam Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a big expert in his field, who cites dozens of references from the first centuries and concludes that Hegazi has to be killed because the group is in danger and the group takes priority over the individual. The idea is: if this person begins to speak and says that he is happy to be Christian, and smilingly appears in photos with a Gospel in his hands, this is intolerable and is non-Muslim propaganda, which is officially allowed neither in Egypt, nor in other Islamic countries. And since Hegazi is spreading Christian propaganda, he must be killed.

Suad Saleh, Muslim judge and dean of the Faculty of Islamic Science at Al-Azhar University, has stated: yes, in matters of faith there is no compulsion, but Hegazi is spreading propaganda and thus the law must be applied. The judge advises that the apostate be given 3 days to repent and reconvert to Islam (istitâbah), then “apply the law” (i.e. execution).

The Grand Mufti of Egypt, Dr Ali Gomaa, Egypt’s highest religious authority, stated to the Washington Post last June that apostasy “should not” be punished by death, eliciting numerous reactions from Al-Azhar. After many people expressed their approval for a death sentence, he retracted in a confused matter and his stance is still today unclear. On the surface, he wanted to reassure the West by using ambiguous wording, like the one that goes: “Apostasy is to be punished when it represents fitna or when it threatens the foundations of society.”

[…] Islam protects itself against conversions by putting apostates in prison or by killing them. But its obsession with conversion includes a series of privileges it claims for itself. So much so that in many Muslim countries, even those that are supposedly secular, the right to promote the Islamic faith is taken for granted and is not enshrined in law. Conversely, the right to promote any other religion is considered de facto and de jure unacceptable.

Islamic propaganda is part of the state’s mandate. In Egypt for example public institutions disseminate songs, prayers, movies and written material that praise Islam and denigrate Christianity. Inevitably this favours conversions to Islam. By contrast, Christian propaganda (tabshīr) is banned by law.

Recently in Algeria, a new law was approved that condemns anyone promoting the Christian faith and anyone who converts to Christianity. Of course, some might say that this kind of law is directed only at Protestant proselytising. True! But Muslims proselytise as well? Should the law not be the same for everyone?

Saudi Arabia is undoubtedly the country where double standards in matter of religion are the most glaring. One example: Saudi Arab Airlines’ website explicitly warns its passengers that Bibles, crucifixes, and any other non-Muslim religious symbol are prohibited on board. If any are found they are confiscated. Another example is when two pieces of wood happen to end up across one another. However inadvertently that may have come about, the resulting cross becomes ipso facto a religious symbol and police are known to have ordered people who happened to be nearby to step on them.

Anti-Christian propaganda is also found in how words are used. In Arabic Christians are called Massihi. In Arabia they are also called Salībi, crusaders, and Nasrami, Nazarenes. Interestingly, at the time of the Crusades Christians were by and large referred to as Faranj or Franks. But the most commonly used word today is kuffar, unbelievers who must be killed. For the past 30 or so years, its use has increasingly spread around the Muslim world.

Read both of them. They are truly interesting.

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Also some months ago I blogged about the Government Regulation related to Electronic Communications, by which there was “introduced an administrative procedure to intercept electronic communications without Judicial control“, regulation which was declared illegal by the Supreme Tribunal. Well, afterwards, it came the SGAE (General Society of Authors and Writers) with another foolish proposition:

If a web page is reproducing intellectual works which could go against author’s rights, the SGAE or any other similar association will be able to tell the server where the blog/page is located to inform that the blog’s author is breaking the law. The client will be obliged to defend him before the SGAE of the illegality in the next 6 days if he does not want to see his blog’s content down or closed. Even if the communication is absolutely ridiculous or unmaintainable, it obliges the normal blogger/website’s author to defend himself to regain access to the presumably illicit content”.

Well, it results that the same article that was introduced in the Government Regulation related to electronic Communications, has been introduced in the new project of the Law of the Internet’s Society:

According to the present project, the “competent authority” can shut down webpages without any kind of judicial authorization. The “competent authority” would be those associations who “guard” the rights of intellectual property (SGAE and similars) and, of course, every authority. It is true that after the shutdown, there would be a judicial process. But letting the power to control and possible webs’ shutdown to a “competent authority” is just the same that letting the police not to report to the Tribunals. That is, the kick-to-knock-down-the-door, but this time, digitally way.

The time to present modifications to the law ends on Sept, 4th. It is widely hoped that Popular Party presents some modifications that guarantee the effective right to information.But that is not very clear, because the Popular Party first succeeded in passing a resolution on Senate against the digital canon, but later it voted favorable the Law of Intellectual Property that regulated it (not very coherent, no 😡 ). “There are unanimities which are fearful”, the Web-surfers’ Association’s speaker states. They have already presented a proposal to modify the law.

So, if no one does anything, we could see how the digital kick-to-knock-down-the-door could be consolidated again. A new step in the strategy of reducing (that is, really, of eliminating) the freedom of information.


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China, the environment and birth control:

China says its one-child policy has helped the fight against global warming by avoiding 300 million births, the equivalent of the population of the United States.

But delegates at U.N. climate change talks in Vienna said on Thursday birth control is unlikely to find favor as a major policy theme, partly because of opposition by the Catholic Church and some developing nations trying to increase their population.

Some scientists say that birth control measures far less draconian than China’s are wrongly overlooked in the fight against climate change, when the world population is projected to soar to about 9 billion by 2050 from 6.6 billion now.

So, why don’t we all just commit suicide to prevent any harrassment on the environment? 😯

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A quick note on Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto announced some days ago that Pervez Mussharraf was going to step down as head of his country’s military. But today Mussharraf has already denied that. The situation has complicated even more as his rival, Sharif, has been allowed to return to Pakistan. Musharraf has stated already that he seeks reconciliation. Let’s hope that, but I’m not very optimistic in the matter, after all we have witnessed in Pakistan these last months.

Related news: Pakistan has successfully test-fired a new cruise missile capable of carrying nuclear weapons, its military said.

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Beth has posted about the Florida Masochist going to be operated of melanoma (after 12 years of being clean) and about Kat from Madhouse Cat,who has lost in a single day, one cousin and her daughters as a result of a car crash.

Also a friend of mine has lost his wife rather unexpectedly of cancer. On the first week of August, when they had already begun their vacations, she felt bad and went to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with a sudden and fast growing cancer, a week ago she died. He works at my University’s library. I remember him when I began University: he was all smiles, a really helpful guy with all of us who were back then so overwhelmed if we did not find the required book. He was always a patient guy. These days, when I go to find some books there, he is just older but the same. I know the bad times he is going to have now, as they really loved each other. They have an only daughter, aged 19. 😥

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As I wrote some months ago:

Opium production in Afghanistan has soared to record levels, with an increase on last year of more than a third, the United Nations has said.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime report says the amount of opium produced there has doubled in the last two years. It says Helmand province is now the biggest single drug-producing area in the world, surpassing whole countries such as Colombia. Afghanistan now accounts for more than 93% of the world’s opiates.

Despite billions of dollars of aid and tens of thousands of international troops, the report says 193,000 hectares of opium poppies are being grown in Afghanistan.

[…] The report says growing opium poppies is now closely linked to the insurgency and the instability in the south. And what is to be done? The report recommends more determined efforts to bring that security. It urges the government to get tough on corruption, which it says is driving the drugs trade and it lists poor governance, a weak judiciary and failing eradication programmes for these new frightening record levels.

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World Organization for Human Rights has sued Yahoo! over its policy in China: Look at Yahoo!’s hypocrisy:

Yahoo is being sued by the World Organization for Human Rights for sharing information about its users with the Chinese government. The information has led to the arrests of writers and dissidents. One journalist cited in the case was tracked down and jailed for 10 years for subversion after Yahoo passed on his e-mail and IP address to officials.

In its 40-page response to the lawsuit, filed with a federal court in San Francisco, Yahoo acknowledged releasing information to the Chinese government. But it argued that there was little connection between the information the firm gave and the ensuing arrests and imprisonment of its users.

[…] But Morton Sklar of the World Organization for Human Rights said the company had failed to meet its ethical responsibilities. “Even if it was lawful in China, that does not take away from Yahoo’s obligation to follow not just Chinese law, but US law and international legal standards as well, when they do business abroad,” he said.

Barely, Yahoo! claims this is a merely political case. 😡

At the same time, Angela Merkel reminds China the West would like to see progress on freedom of the press and Human Rights’ matters (where it has not progressed really):

“The world will be looking at China to a greater extent than it has in past years,” Merkel said. “And people will also be looking at how China presents itself in terms of freedom of speech and freedom of the press.”

Chinese critics of Beijing welcomed Merkel’s remarks.

“Unlike her predecessor Gerhard Schröder, Angela Merkel does not run and hide from this topic,” former university professor and dissident Liu Xiaobo told Deutsche Welle. “She tells it like it is. The pressure she’s put on the Chinese government has already had significant effect.”

Well done, Merkel!

It’s logical, by the way, Merkel’s position. Looks like that the Chinese Government has hacked Merckel’s chancellery and three other Berlin ministries h/t Barcepundit.

Germany’s domestic intelligence service, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, discovered the hacking operation in May, the magazine reported in its new edition, published Monday.

The Chinese government has vehemently denied the report, with the Chinese Embassy in Berlin describing the accusation of state-controlled hacking as “irresponsible speculation without a shred of evidence.”

But Prime Minister Wen Jiabao assured Merkel that measures would be taken to “rule out hacking attacks.” During a news conference in Beijing on Monday, Merkel didn’t comment on the specific allegation but said it was important that “common rules of the game” were observed in a globalised economy.

Well, there has been reports before about industrial spying on Canada, also vehemently denied by China. And on Australia, where they have targeted exiled dissidents.

So worried about foreign lands and yet China is searching for 8 kgs of “missing” uranium. Take a little more care about things which are really dangerous and stop targeting dissidents and foreign governments… 😡

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In Italy, a mother pregnant of two daughters, went to a clinic to see the state of both fetuses. In the clinic, she was informed that one of them has Down Syndrome so she asks for the abortion of that fetus. In the operation, the fetuses change places and the healthy one is finished. After that, she asked again for the abortion of the unhealthy one, which was done by injecting a solution of digoxine. This method which causes a cardiac stop, is used only in grown-up fetuses, while in this case, they were in the 30th week of pregnancy. The scandal in Italy is great. For a link in English, click here.

Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano has already condemned the abortion of the twins:

L’Osservatore Romano reported: “Two girls have died, assassinated as a consequence of selective abortion. A radical decision has brought about another abortion, that of the little sister that still had life.” No one “has the right to eliminate another life. No person has the right to take the position of God. Not for any motive.”

But that’s not all. In Spain, as I wrote days before, there is a “problem“: doctors working in public health system are not practising abortions as they think it’s a matter of conscience and have objected. Some leftist MSM -specially world-known as very objective El País– began saying that people had a lot of problems to get themselves an abortion, with statements like: “They told me abortion was a crime“, “Leny and Fátima had succeeded in achieving their right (¿? Really didn’t know that was a right) to have an abortion in private clinics paid with public money” or “I had to go to have it to another Autonomous Community“.

There are three causes for legal abortion in Spain: rape, grave illnesses of the fetus or grave danger for the physical or psychological health of the mother. More than 98% of all the abortion held in Spain use this last cause.

So the Spanish Ombudsman, Enrique Múgica, has begun an investigation about the “great difficulties to have a free-willing interruption of pregnancy practised in the public health system“. He also asks to “adopt the pertinent measures to let the users have the guarantee the attention in the Community of residence and in the main hospitals of the National Health System“. So how are they going to do that? Are they going to hire pro-abortion doctors? Or are they going to make pro-life ones make abortions against their conscience and will? I really have a bad feeling about this…

Meanwhile, the Spanish Schools’ Council has passed a resolution by which the State can educate the children on affective-sexual matters without any consentment from parents ( 😯 ). But at the same time, “it rejected to include Cervantes in the minimum required to pass Literature, the Catholic Kings in History and the inversion of €1000 millions in the infants’ education from o-3 years-old (which was in the PSOE’s electoral program) and to liberalise the prices of the books (as stated in the Law passed in the terms requested in this respect from the Culture’s Ministry)”.

Regarding immigration, Zapatero denies it (hmm…) but French Prime Minister maintains that he is totally repented from the immigrants’ regularization.

Zapatero spoke yesterday about the statements of French PM, François Fillon, about the content of the summit between both of them last July in Madrid, to contradict his ally and ask for an immediate rectification which has not happened and most probably, won’t in the future. Fillon has stated that Zapatero admitted then that the regularization of more than 600.000 immigrants in 2005 was an error of which he repented “bitterly” and that he won’t make more in the future (repentance and modification of behaviour: we’re on the right track! Eehh, no, not quite). The President contradicted yesterday French PM, insisting on all the good things that his policy of open borders have brought and said that France was going to “make things clear because it was all probably a bad interpretation”. Sources near Fillon assured EL MUNDO that «there hasn’t been nor there is going to be any rectification in any way». The more similar to tinging his words, was some statements made by the entourage of the French PM, according to which Fillon understands that Zapatero supported the policy of “papers for all” because “he had no options… because of circumstances” (there is always another option, even if it’s very difficult or harder to follow. And in this case, there is). It is not clear if Zapatero has or hasn’t a communication problem or of interpreters when he has to speak about his analysis and compromises over immigration, as Zaplana (PP, center-right) laughed about yesterday, but it is clear that the President puts at risk again the diplomatic relations between France and Spain, because of the massive regularization which affected all Europe because of its awful “calling” effect.

Look here, I do not know who is responsible for this misunterstanding. But if he is not a total idiot -and I don’t think he is, he is just convinced he is going to save Spain from fascism (¡!), yeah I know…-, he knows he was stupid enough to let a lot of immigrants without any kind of control (not even medical, and there are illnesses which did not existed in Spain, which have appeared afterwards). Border control is not a characteristic of being a fascist, it’s just a consequence of common sense. Does Spain need immigrants? I really don’t know, but it’s possible. But what is certain is that we need some kind of immigrants, not every immigrant in the world. Ergo, select them according to the needs here and their qualifications -if we need truck drivers and the people who come are cookers, they are going to be jobless… with all the dangers that implies-. So, please, stop blaming others for your own bad policies’ results, move your ass and begin working on something more profitable than in denying what it’s clear as clean water: it was a HUGE ERROR.

[A friend of mine told me: With all my heart aching, I have to acknowledge that I trust more Fillon than Zapatero… Ejem].

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Christianity’s greatest menace:

Christians around the world suffer daily because of their faith, and it seems the persecution is intensifying.

CBN News looks at the top two offenders– North Korea and Saudi Arabia.

Countries that persecute Christians usually fall into two camps: those with communist governments and those where Islam as the dominant religion.

That is: where there is no freedom, no respect for Human Rights…

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Looks like that Chávez has bought both the military and the Majors from… Evo’s paradise:

One of the accomplices of Hugo Chávez, the head of one ghost Ministry of all that Venezuela has nowadays, has stated to Venezuelan press that Hugo Chávez’s regime has given $6 millions to pay Bolivian military. Meanwhile, the sheepy Bolivian President, Evo Morales, has been photograpphed while giving money checks to Bolivian majors who are Venezuelan friends. The shameless says: “Chávez gave me the money to give it away“.

They do not refer to woodcutters. I wonder if this has something to do with it h/t Kate. 😈

But Chávez wants also to infiltrate himself in other weak South-American democracies, like Ecuador or Paraguay. In the latter, the so-called “Yearly operative Planning of the Foreign Relations Ministry of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela” (wow, what a name 😯 ), reveals that he wants to give “Bolivarian indoctrination” to Armed Forces, energetic firms, students and peasants; even it speaks of the recruitment of young doctors from rural areas.

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USA and Europe: Another terrorist attack inevitable. h/t Extreme Centre: Newsweek interviews Redd, Head of the US National counterterrorism center. An excerpt:

Tell us about the threat that emerged earlier this year.
We’ve got this intelligence threat; we’re pretty certain we know what’s going on. We don’t have all the tactical details about it, [but] in some ways it’s not unlike the U.K. aviation threat last year. So we know there is a threat out there. The question is what do we do about it? And the response was, we stood up an interagency task force under NCTC leadership. So you have all the players you would expect: FBI, CIA, DHS, DIA, DoD, the operators—the military side comes into that—participating in an integrated plan, but integrated in a much more granular and tactical way than we’ve ever done before. This is my 40th year in government service, 36 in uniform and almost four as a civilian. This is revolutionary stuff, and it is affecting the way we do business.

Earlier this summer, there was talk that people were picking up chatter that reminded them of the summer before 9/11. The Germans basically said this is like pre-9/11. They said, “We are very worried.” What do you make of this?
We have very strong indicators that Al Qaeda is planning to attack the West and is likely to [try to] attack, and we are pretty sure about that. We know some of the precursors from—

Attack Europe?
Well, they would like to come West, and they would like to come as far West as they can
. What we don’t know is…if it’s going to be Mark Hosenball, and he’s coming in on Flight 727 out of Karachi, he’s stopping in Frankfurt, and he’s coming on through with his European Union passport, and he’s coming into New York, and he’s going to do something. I mean, we don’t have that kind of tactical detail. What we do have, though, is a couple of threads that indicate, you know, some very tactical stuff, and that’s what—you know, that’s what you’re seeing bits and pieces of, and I really can’t go much more into it.

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Yesterday I wrote about Abdulah Gül’s being named new Turkish President. Today I read dissapointing news from French PM Sarkozy:

If this essential inquiry on the future of our Union is undertaken by the 27 member nations, France will not oppose the negotiations between the EU and Turkey that are to take place in the months and years to come,” said the French president addressing the 15th Conference of Ambassadors.
These new discussions must, he stressed, “be compatible with the two visions of future relations between Europe and Turkey, i.e., membership in the EU, or as close an association as possible.”

French blogger Tiberge writes commenting this:

It isn’t clear what Nicolas Sarkozy means by a “close association”, but it is clear that he accepts Turkey as much more than a trading partner or a tourist attraction. A close association implies an alliance, with attendant loyalties and military implications.

With Islamist Gül in the Presidency? Uuuuuuuuuuuyyyyyyyyy, Sarko….

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More about Greek fires: from NYT:

“Up the hill, workers were preparing the grave for Athanasia Karta-Paraskevopoulou, a 35-year-old teacher, and the four children she shielded as the flames closed in on them: Angeliki, 15; Maria, 12; Anastassia, about 10; and Constantinos, 5. They had been on vacation from Athens”.

Requiescat in Pace. She was brave enough and she died to protect these children, while they were waiting for rescue. Unluckily, it ended in a very sad way.

And it is more worrying as:

The danger had by no means passed. In the village of Grillos, just over a ridge from here on the western peninsula, a couple who own a restaurant watched in tears as flames advanced from three directions while fire trucks spewed water in the flames’ path.

“All we need is one of those,” said one owner, Iannis Drakopoulos, 72, as a Russian plane carrying an industrial-sized water bucket passed. “If he dropped it here, it would all have been fine.”

In Artemida and here in Makistos, the flames were already out, and Monday was instead a day for tallying the damage and preparing to bury the dead.

[…] The descriptions from people who saw it were the same: flames moving at an unimaginable rate and no one apart from the police to help.

[…] The fire reportedly came over a ridge first to Makistos, a village of 60 homes. Antonios Kokkaliaris, 80, a farmer, said he had been reading his newspaper, underlining parts he liked, when he heard the bell in St. John’s church ring. “I went out and I saw the flames before me and people running,” he said. He could not leave, he said, because his wife, Koula, 82, is severely disabled. “I told her, ‘Stay put, we’re going to fight this out.’ I grabbed onto the hose and I started dousing left, right and center.”

The town emptied, with only him, a herdsman and Mr. Dimopoulos with his wine staying behind. Mr. Kokkaliaris managed to douse his home, and two next door, well enough that the fires howled past, leaving his house intact.

But when it was over, he did not feel relief.

“I was disappointed, honestly,” he said, “because not only was there no one to help me, there was no one in sight. ‘Am I just standing here alone? What happened to all my townspeople? What is the purpose of life if I am all alone?’ ”

I can only say: 😯 A brave old man.

But we continue:

The region normally produces 10,000 tons of oil, but nearly all the olive trees are now destroyed, along with countless livelihoods. Charred donkeys and chickens litter ruined farms.

This village is literally wiped out,” Ms. Bammi said. “It’s not just those who have been killed. Those who are left have no fields to work in, no olive trees. They have nothing to look forward to.”

It is already a tragedy. And if finally it’s proved they did that with mobile phones, well, the punishment for these bastards must be … great.

More from the Astute Bloggers:

DAY 4 of deadly fires: Fires rage in Greece as SEVEN PEOPLE CHARGED WITH ARSON.
They remain nameless. Why? Those depraved savages set a country on fire, the public deserves to know no matter who it is. I have searched all news sources. Any Atlas readers have a clue?

Well, can it be because they can be charged with terrorism? I really don’t know. Seems strange to me too.

(+) If you want to read a magnificent post about the political consequences of the Greek fires, just go over to Cassandra’s blog.

The other usual suspects in the EU are exploiting the crisis to call for more integrated emergency cooperation, in other words: continued deepening of federal structures. Strangely, among the first countries to send fire-fighters and airplanes were Israel and Switzerland; both countries aren’t EU members.

The press from hell continues: “‘The village of Artimeta in the Peloponnese has become known as the ‘crematorium’, says the BBC’s Malcolm Brabant who is in the village near the town of Olympia.” I have serious doubts about this piece of atheist cynicism! Considering the fact that Greece is 96% Orthodox, a Christian denomination prescribing interment, I ‘d be surpised if most Greeks even know what a crematorium is, as the first is still to be build; it’s highly unlikely that local Greeks would describe a much loved village in such terms!

😯

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Chaim writes that “More than 5000 Kassam rockets have been fired at Israeli targets from the Gaza Strip which Israel abandoned to the PLO two years ago, the Sharon government brutally throwing thousands of Jews out of their homes“. Very critical of Olmert as ever:

Israel’s government, as any other government, has an obligation to defend its people. As long as Ehud Allmerde and his cohorts are running at the top they are going to do little more than a few symbolic gestures to make it look like they are defending Israelis. Rather, they seem obsessed with appeasement. Obsessed with a policy that invariably has failed miserably time and again. They seem intent on giving everything up to the terrorists, little realizing that the more they give, the less they get and the more is demanded!

Olmert spoke on Tuesday 28th with Mahmoud Abbas to “agree on measures against terrorism“. As I linked yesterday, this policy is not going to bring them any good.

Meanwhile, Israeli leaders are building themselves shelters to protect them in case of attack. Everyday’s tale…

Also, on related news, the Israeli government’s tourism ministry has reached an agreement to cooperate with the Vatican’s new charter-flight service for pilgrimages to the Holy Land, the Ynetnews agency has reported.

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And now for the thinking post of the day. Pastorius has written it -the scene of Patton is priceless-:

[…] you have to ask yourselves, do you want a world which is ruled by men, or by women?
Hmm???
Obviously, rationality is not arbitrated by force.

Read it all. It’s worth it. (Chauvinist males: this post is not very recommended for you 😈 ).

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Il Corriere della Sera  tells us the story of the wife of Imam Trabelsi, condemned on terrorism charges, who will declare with burqa.

[I will translate it from Italian. If something is not correct, please leave a comment correcting it].

Both in the market, at work, but also before the Tribunal for the trial of her husband. Rigurously in burqa and black gloves. Ora Monia Mzoughi, the wife of Mourad Trabelsi, the ex-imam of the Mosque from di Cremona, condemned by International terrorism (the cell he belonged to, had planned terrorist attacks in Cremona and in Milan), has arrived to the trial for appearing with the integral Islamic veil in public. This is the first case of this type in Italy. The Chief Procurator Adriano Padula will accuse her of violating the article 5 of the Law 152 from 1975, because in «a public place and without justified cause she was wearing a veil that makes it difficult her recognition by police».

The case began in Sept 2005, when people began talking about the “Islamic woman in burqa who carried her son to school“. The school began receiving calls from worried parents of other children, who asked the school to do something about it. The local police intervened, asking and obtaining that Monia should lift her veil for recognition. Some days after, in application of the law presented by Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu, the Republic’s Prosecutor have decided to proceed by the hard line: women wearing burqa in public places will be denounced. Some time later, Monia Trabelsi was isncribed in the register of denounced people. In those months, his husband was prosecuted by international terrorism. With 5 other people, he was accused of having planned terrorist attacks both in Cremona and in Milan. Accusation which evolved into punishment, confirmed some weeks ago in appeal.

Sat in the benches, Monia has been observing the process against her husband; covered from head to toe, with black gloves, the women entered the Justice Palace. Here, the agents have invited her to make her recognisable. This last subject, has been the cause of her own process. The first audience will be on Jan 30th 2008. Monia Trabelsi, 37-years-old, born in Cremona, can be condemned to two years of reclusion and to a fine of approx. 1000 €. But before the Judge she will be with her face uncovered, no burqa.

 We will see what happens in the end.

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Daniel from Venezuelan News and Views, has posted about the draft of the new Venezuelan constitution summing it up with the words “the path to an eternal Chávez dictatorship“.

No more private property besides your personal belongings. That is, there will be some private sector allowed with business of reasonable size but the sate will have the right to expropriate or confiscate at will if it thinks it is necessary to its interests (NOTE: even if it is all made in the name of the “people”, since it is the state that translates the “real will” of the people, well, you know which are the interests truly served).
The air borne media will have rights to emit only if they serve educative purpose. The state decides which are the educative goals.
The autonomy of Universities is done with. The state will be deciding which careers should be offered and which is the right curriculum to follow. You can decide on your own how creativity and free thought in a controlled university will prosper.
Decentralization will be done with. Governors and Mayors will be subordinated to special vice presidents. Mayors can be removed almost at will by the National Assembly. And anyway, elected Governors and Mayors will be gutted of most meaningful power they might have. That is, they will be left with picking up the garbage and be blamed for anything else that doe snot work.

Basically, then, a socialist/communist dictatorship. As we have feared.

If you understand Spanish, just watch this video. Very interesting to see, how Chávez has changed.

There is another worrying sign in Venezuela: its treatment to foreign little investors. And do you think that the support Zapatero has given Chávez has changed it? Well, no, in fact, Spanish -and Portuguese and Italian- emigrants in Venezuela have been robbed and kidnapped because they did not want to give their lands to outsiders:

Canarian and Galician farmers have been denouncing kidnappings and the invasion of their lands by peasants paid by Venezuela. Today the Catalan newspaper “La Vanguardia” runs in its Sunday edition, an important report in the situation. Newspaper El Mundo also takes a look to this matter.

Marbella Rodríguez was nearly burnt alive when she tried to defend the lands of her father. “They are not importing Cuban model but Zimbabwean model. Hugo Chávez is not bringing communism but chaos, robbery, kidnapping. They want Spanish out of the country, they are making us leave it“, says Luis Valdés, an unhopeful 67-years-old farmer  (51 spent in Venezuela).

He is one of the 66 Europeans – Spanish, Italians and Potuguese- who have been kidnapped in the last one year and a half in the state of Yaracuy by armed bands, who, according to different statements, are connected with oficialist political leaders. There are not more kidnapping counted by police, because the families not only do not denounce them, but also deny them because of the possible retaliation. Dozens of Spanish farmers have seen their lands stolen in moments of full production by false cooperativists who, after stealing harvests, livestock and machinery, abandon the lands.

[…] “Spanish people -states Phandor Quiroga, ex-Major of San Felipe, Yaracuy’s capital- have prospered because they are very hard-working types. Emigrants, now with Venezuelan sons and grandsons, revitalised the lands. They were greeted as brothers. Now they are called oligarchs, even if they have little lands, with an average extension of 120 hectares. For the most part they are little landowners who, with a lot of sacrifice and making huge savings, bought some lands“.

[…] The method they use repeats itself: outsiders invade a land, in less than a week they are given an stay pass, they are given tractors and other tools. In less than a month they are given  39 millions of Bolivars (15.500 €) in money and 59 millions (24.000 €) in products and tools. Everything is wasted. Nothing is produced there any more”.

After lots of negotiations, and thanks to the good relationship between Chávez and the Spanish Ambassador, Raúl Morodo, some of the Spanish farmers received a little compensation for the lose of their lands. Portuguese, Italians and a lot of Venezuelan have received nothing. The Canarian Edmundo Rodríguez received only 110.000 € for a 100-hectares land. “I am totally broke. I cannot even pay the first instalment of an apartment in Spain with that money”, he comments with an unhappy expression.

Edmundo and his daughter Marbella are the true image of the two generations dedicated to work. In Venezuela the census lists 175.000 Spanish and 250.000 descendants. Totally sick of the agressions, a lot of the farmers are considering the idea of going back to Spain. But for the most part, they are modest people who, stripped of their lands, do not have enough money to begin a new life.

Spanish, Portuguese and Italians, we are all annoying the Government. They want us to leave because we are uncomfortable witnesses. They do not want complaints. We cannot go on like this. Do we wait till they shot us in the head? You feel totally defenceless, you are not from there, not from here– says Rosaura Ibáñez, a distressed Canarian. Some names cited in the report are fictitious to preserve the security of the interviewed-. I never though that the hate against the foreigner could be used as a political tool. When Chávez is on TV, I turned it off, because I do not want to get all his hate”.

A judicial representative from the state of Yaracuy exposed with all the cruelty to La Vanguardia, that there is a campaign to make the Spanish people  emigrate from Venezuela. “A lot of the kidnappings are politically caused. The pro-Chávez MP Braulio Álvarez is the responsible of the invasions of the lands owned by Spanish, Italians and Portuguese. He is protecting them, he promotes and supports them. Europeans are annoying, because they have the protection of their embassies. They do not like that the foreign Governments defend their people. The huge part of kidnapped and subjects of expropiations are Europeans or of European origins. There is not a single kidnapped which has been solutioned. Justice is just a sham”, according to the same judicial source.

There haven’t been reactions from the Spanish Government that I know of.

You can also read the students manifesto translated by Kate here, who has also sent me the tips -except the link to the video-. And a beautiful composition of the students can be seen here.

You can also see the demonstrations in Rome and Milan supporting freedom of expression in Venezuela. More photos here.

UDPATE: Writing the post in the Spanish blog, I have found that José María Aznar has said: “I prefer the photo of the Azores (the one in which he appeared with Bush and Blair) than the Spanish photo with Castro and Chávez“. h/t Prevost. Me too.clap

UDPATE 2: Chávez has announced that he is going to buy more submarines to Russia and to strengthen the nation’s short-range air-defense system, contining then the trend that could make Venezuela the most improtant buyer of weapons of the decade. h/t Lady Godiva.

While the hospitals are in this state (scroll down the link to see more photos).

0510HospitalUniversitario30510HospitalUniversitario7A0510HospitalUniversitario8A

Sent to Open Trackbacks: 123 beta, Pirate’s Cove, Demediacratic Nation, The Right Nation, Blue Star Chronicles, Phastidio.Net.

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 If you haven’t heard about the turnout bid of Spanish electric firm Endesa, you should. By now, there have been three: by Spanish firm Gas Natural (who did not pay enough at all), by German E.On (which was ended after a Zapatero-Prodi summit in Ibiza) and by Italian Enel and Spanish Acciona -which the laic blessings of both Italian and Spanish Government-. The impact on Spanish energy market is going to be great: Endesa is a great firm, stabilised and with magnificent prospects. Enel is not a very efficient firm and is a public firm, which hasn’t got gas, which is one of the main products of Endesa. The main critic is then that, while Enel gains a lot by the operation, Endesa does not win anything, and can be even divided if Enel and Acciona do not agree about their results.

But the turnout bid has meant a special war between Zapatero and Endesa’s President, Manuel Pizarro. Last february he was even followed:

Endesa’s President, Manuel Pizarro, has asked today in Zaragoza “transparence and effectiveness” to the Civil Guard after being followed by two agents on Feb 20th, when took place the meeting in Ibiza between Italian President Prodi, and his counterpart, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. According to sources, it was then that was decided the entry of Enel in Endesa Al parecer, durante esa semana, se gestó la entrada del grupo Enel en la eléctrica.

According to newspaper “El Mundo”, the Government confirms that Pizarro was being followed, but does not tell about the motives. Pizarro, who took part in a post-graduates course at the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at Zaragoza’s University, added that both agents were later detained by Police.

“We denounced them before the Civil Guard and, through Internal Affairs, they should investigate what these 2  men were doing, not on duty, acting like that for themselves or a third party”, he stated.

Source: La Nación – Pizarro pide transparencia a la Guardia Civil por el seguimiento del que fue objeto el 20 de febrero

Don’t think I have anything more to add…

(En español)

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From Deustche-Welle:

Three Italian nationals have been charged and are being held in custody in Brussels as part of a corruption probe into tenders awarded by the European Commission.

The three include a civil servant working for the European Commission, an assistant to a member of the European Parliament and a businessman, Belgian prosecutors said on Wednesday.

The three men, who live in Belgium and whose names were not given, were charged with forgery and using forged documents, corruption, fraud and forming a criminal organization, said spokesman Jos Colpin.

Large-scale bribery

“There were bribes of millions of euros for more than 10 years,” Colpin said.

The bribes were paid in relation to public tenders for buildings housing “European Commission delegations outside of EU territory,” he said.

The civil servant, aged 46, works for the Commission services responsible for managing delegations’ infrastructure.

The second person charged, aged 60, is the personal assistant of an Italian member of the European Parliament and the third person, 39, runs a real estate consortium.

Let’s see how far the accusation goes. But there is something that intrigues me: why telling all those data about the accusated men and not telling their names?

UPDATE: Italian Newspaper Corriere della Sera reports that the accused Italians are Sergio Tricarico, that is the assistant to the European Parliamentary Gianni Rivera, Giancarlo Ciotti, the Commission civil servant and Angelo Troiiano, the businessman.

It also reports that the accusation was made after charges were presented against the three of them were by a Finnish businessmen, who claimed he had been obliged to give them 345 millions of € (and he had to give them more, till 600 millions of €). The Finnish was going to build a Commission delegation in India.

Neither the Commission nor the accused have made any comments.

h/t Le Guerre Civile.

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Tres Italianos han sido acusados y detenidos en Bruselas como parte de un procedimiento de corrupción en relación a sitios que son entregados por la Comisión Europea. Incluyen un funcionario que trabaja para la Comisión, un asistente de un miembro del Parlamento Europeo y un empresario, según los fiscales de la UE.

Los tres hombres, que viven en Bélgica y cuyos nombres no han sido anunciados, han sido acusados de falsificación y de uso de documentos falsificados, corrupción, fraude y formación de una organización criminal, según el portavoz Jos Colpin.

“Hubo sobornos de millones de euros durante más de 10 años!, añadió Colpin.

Los sobornos se pagaron en relación a solares públicos para construir “delegaciones de la Comisión Europea fuera del territorio de la UE.

El funcionario, de 46 años, trabaja para los servicios de la Comisión responsables de la infraestructura de las delegaciones.

La segunda persona acusada, de 60 años es un asistente personal de un miembro italiano del Parlamento Europeo y la tercera persona, de 39 años, dirige un consorcio de promoción y venta de inmuebles.

ACTUALIZACIÓN: el Corriere della Sera ha dado los nombres de los acusados: Sergio Tricarico, asistente personal del Parlamentario Italiano Gianni Rivera, Giancarlo Ciotti, que es el funcionario de la Comisión, y Angelo Troiiano, el empresario.

También añade que fue un empresario finlandés el que presentó cargos contra ellos tres, porque ya había pagado 345 millones de euros (de un total de 600 millones) para construir una delegación de la UE en India.

Ni la Comisión ni los acusados han hecho comentario alguno.


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FT:

Romano Prodi, Italian prime minister, came under attack again on Wednesday over his government’s stance on the Afghan conflict, four weeks after his centre-left coalition nearly collapsed when it lost a parliamentary vote on foreign policy.

Opposition deputies criticised the government for arranging with the Afghan government to free five Taliban prisoners in exchange for an Italian journalist who was kidnapped in southern Afghanistan on March 5.

Mr Prodi faces a difficult vote in the Senate, parliament’s upper house, next Tuesday when he will try to win approval to renew funding for military operations in Afghanistan.

You can also read about the increasing gap between Italy and US, deepened by this move.

Right after the story was known, sources very close to the Bush administration, the british Foreign Office and also to the German Cancellor and the Dutch Prime Minister, stressed their strong disappointment regarding the way the italian government is dealing with its efforts in Afghanistan.

The italian government is accused to dealing with the terrorists, giving the Taliban an international reliability they had not got before, and also is not doing any efforts to fight the terrorists due to the several “caveat” put to the italian military troops standing in Kabul, and doing so is accused to discuss its NATO allies’ decisions putting in jeopardy the force and the unity of the Organization itself.

As Charlton Heston said in “Battle of Pacific” -I think it is its title but as the original is in Italian… I do not know what the English-American/original title was-: “You do not win a war by kissing the ennemy“. There are two opitions here: “Or we sent the Italian soldiers to Afghanistan to do everything which is necessary to combat and win this [war] against the Taliban or we better ask them to return“.

A similar idea by Neocon Italiani.

Paolo reports that the Afghan Ambassador in Italy is angry about this decision.

Related posts on this: Italian reporter freed…

(more…)

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