Monday, January 31, 2005

Mexican kidnappings

Mexico exports crime as well as people to the United States:

In Mexico, where it is estimated that there are 3,000 ransom kidnappings a year, it's a ripped-from-the-headlines kind of story.

Unfortunately, the story is repeating itself in this country.

On Jan. 19, on a sunny morning in a quiet family neighborhood south of downtown Dallas, 30-year-old Mexican-American Oscar Sanchez, a new father and the director of business operations for his family's successful restaurant business, was rear-ended on his way to work.

He was on the phone with his mother when she heard him get out of the car and actually greet the guy by name who ran into him.

After that, the line went dead and it's been one big pesadilla for the Sanchez family.

The kidnappers, who later were identified as Josi Filix, a local public school teacher, and Edgar Acevedo, a former restaurant employee of Sanchez, called the family demanding $3 million in ransom or they would kill Oscar. When the family said they couldn't come up with that kind of money, the ransom was reduced to $78,000.

The abductors never showed up to claim the money. It was later discovered that Oscar had already been killed and his kidnappers were trying to flee to Mexico. Filix was caught in Chicago trying to board a plane to Guadalajara. Acevedo was able to escape.

Jihadists in New Jersey

Joel Mowbray writes about the activities of radical Muslims in New Jersey:

The former imam at the El Tawheed Islamic Center of Jersey City, Alaa Al-Sadawi, was convicted in July 2003 of attempting to smuggle more than $650,000 in cash to the terrorist Global Relief Fund in Egypt in April 2002.

One of Al-Sadawi’s former mosque-goers was convicted last March of murdering in the name of Islam. Alim Hassan, then 31, killed his pregnant wife, her mother, and her sister on July 30, 2002. He reportedly stabbed the women more than 20 times each because they refused to convert to Islam. According to reports, Hassan prayed regularly at El-Tawheed.

Al-Sadawi and Hassan were hardly the first Muslims in the area, though, to appear on authorities’ radar.

Mohamed El-Mezain, the former imam at the nearby Islamic Center of Passaic County, which has close relations with El-Tawheed, worked with the Paterson-based mosque to raise funds for Hamas in the mid-1990s, according to an FBI memo drafted in November 2001 by the FBI’s assistant director of counterterrorism Dale Watson. El-Mezain, who is no longer affiliated with the Islamic Center, was never charged or arrested.

The FBI document, which served as the basis for the U.S. government shutting down the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development in December 2001, cited a “reliable” source in noting that “during a speech at the Islamic Center of Passaic County (ICPC) in November, 1994, Mohammad El-Mezain, the HLFRD’s current Director of Endowments and former Chairman of the HLFRD Board, admitted that some of the money collected by the ICPC and the HLFRD goes to Hamas or Hamas activities in Israel. El-Mezain also defended Hamas and the activities carried out by Hamas.”

Are cigarettes sexist?

Cigarettes are more harmful to women than to men:

Cigarette smoking is more harmful to women than to men, cutting more than a decade off female smokers' life expectancy but much less for their male peers, Dutch government research suggested Monday.

Statistics agency CBS said a comparison of the numbers of Dutch who died of lung cancer in 2003 and smoking trends showed the habit cut a Dutch woman's life expectancy by 11 years, versus three for a man.

"Women who died from lung cancer were younger than men who died from the same cause. This means the harmful effects of smoking are more serious for women than for men," it said, but did not suggest a reason for the difference.

Cigarette smoking is believed to be one of the main causes of lung cancer as well as other cancers and lung diseases.

The CBS said a rise in lung cancer among Dutch women since the 1970s correlated with an increase in smoking by women.

On average, female lung cancer sufferers died at age 70 versus an average life expectancy for Dutch women of 81.

Male lung cancer sufferers lived to an age of 73 on average, compared with an average expectancy of 76 years for Dutch men.

The CBS said life expectancy for men in the Netherlands has increased by about five years since the 1970s as they have smoked less.

Race and college admissions

Getting accepted by an Ivy League college is more about race than grades:

And, even as the nation's highest courts have ruled against racial and ethnic quotas, a de facto system remains in place as admissions officers strive for "balance" and the inclusion of so-called "underrepresented" populations, like blacks and Latinos.

"If you give me a Hispanic kid with a 1,350 (SATs), I can get that kid into every Ivy League college, or an African-American kid with 1,380 to 1,400,'' Shaw said. "But give me an upper-middle-class Caucasian or Asian with a 1,600, and I can't guarantee anything."

Recently, an Asian client of Shaw's from suburban Philadelphia got "wait-listed" at Yale despite a 1,600 SAT score and a 4.1 grade point average.

Shaw, a partner in the Long Island-based Ivy Success, honed his pragmatism while working in the admissions office at Penn. He recently changed his name from Hsueh to make it easier to pronounce, he said, but allows that a less Asian-sounding name may be an advantage when his young daughters reach college age.

Asylum seeker is gunrunner

An asylum seeker is smuggling guns into Britain:

In one year alone, 4,000 people were injured in shootings and 81 were shot dead. Last year Customs seized hundreds of pistols, machine guns and Semtex explosive being smuggled in by East European gangs.

Dark-haired Konstantin got into Britain six years ago after telling immigration officers he feared for his life after fighting against the Government in war-torn Georgia.

The Russian-speaking rebel disappeared into the system and now claims to be an underworld fixer supplying weapons to other criminals in Britain. He boasts he has NEVER worked, has been ARRESTED 16 times but has got away with it and HIDES behind a string of aliases using FIVE passports.

Konstantin lives in a house in Stratford, east London, drives several cars including a BMW and spends his days wheeler-dealing with other criminals.

Our investigator, posing as a villain, approached him after a tip-off and asked for guns.

Konstantin said: "No problem. I know a lot of people and a lot about guns. I have six years' experience of fighting in Georgia. I have many contacts."

He insisted on meeting in the car park of his local Safeway super-market and we asked him whether he could get a batch of ten 9mm guns with silencers. He said: "Whatever you want but it will not be possible all at once. These things are brought in one or two pieces at a time and always by car. They are from Russia and I use three different drivers to bring them. I have done it at least 20 times." He added: "The prices start at £1,500 each. You could get cheaper Bulgarian guns but those are shit."

Two days later, Konstantin arranged to meet our man outside the Tollgate pub in Beckton, east London. He said: "I have a car ready to move from Lithuania bringing four guns.

"They are all very good guns, a Beretta, a Makarov, a Browning and a Magnum 45. The Makarov is small and not heavy and is used by the secret police in Russia. They don't always kill but are used just to stop somebody in their tracks."The Magnum is different - it is very powerful and would bring down anything."

Asked whether he could get explosives Konstantin replied: "I can get you plastic and the clocks to go with them." He claims to have been picked up by police l6 times but has wriggled out of trouble with 10 bogus identities. As Konstantin spoke he fiddled with a foot-long dagger strapped under his trousers.

He told our man: "If you like it I give it to you as my gift. It will be my goodwill present for lots of future business together."

Economic migration to Britain

A British politician has called for an end to economic migration:

A Labour MP has said economic migration to Britain should be stopped, saying "enough is enough".

Roger Godsiff said economic migration was unnecessary and it posed a danger to race relations within the UK.

The Birmingham Sparkbrook and Small Heath member's opinion puts him at odds with his own party leaders and the Conservatives' quota plans.

The Home Office follows a policy of "managed migration" bringing in workers to fill gaps.

Conservative leader Michael Howard has called for an Australian-style points system to ensure migrants have skills needed by in the UK jobs market.

Mr Godsiff told BBC Radio 4's Westminster Hour: "I do not believe that economic migration is any longer necessary and I also don't think it is going to be good for the future of race relations in this country.

"I have to view it as a Member of Parliament representing a constituency which has already taken in a large number of first and second generation immigrants, who have assimilated and who have contributed a great deal to the development of the country. But enough is enough."

Tony Blair and immigration

The British public believes that illegal immigration is out of control:

MINISTERS are set to announce tough rules for ‘managed migration’ in response to escalating public fears that the system is out of control.

Deportation of thousands of asylum seekers whose claims have failed will be a top priority. Ministers are also expected to adopt an Australian-style points system for economic migrants, where applicants are awarded points on the basis of their education, work experience, age and ability to speak English.

Labour will effectively be stealing the march on the Conservatives with such a move but Tony Blair personally backs a tougher stance, recognising it will go down well with voters. Mr Blair’s intervention comes as a poll by CommunicateResearch showed that two-fifths of voters would be swayed on which party to support by the issue.

Most of the respondents to the Independent on Sunday poll - 71 per cent - did not believe the government had illegal immigration under control. Alarmingly for Labour, three out of five of the party’s supporters also believed the system was in chaos.

Just over four in ten of the 1,008 voters interviewed said that the issue of immigration would affect how they voted.

Saudis' Hate mosques

Mosques in the United States are being used to spread hate:

The government of Saudi Arabia is disseminating propaganda through American mosques that teaches hatred of Jews and Christians and instructs Muslims that they are on a mission behind enemy lines in a land of unbelievers, according to a year-long study by a Washington human-rights group.

The 89-page report by Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom, "Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Fill American Mosques," concludes the Saudi government propaganda examined reflects a "totalitarian ideology of hatred that can incite to violence."

The report says the fact it is "being mainstreamed within our borders through the efforts of a foreign government, namely Saudi Arabia, demands our urgent attention."

The report asserts: "Not only does the government of Saudi Arabia not have a right – under the First Amendment or any other legal document – to spread hate ideology within U.S. borders, it is committing a human-rights violation by doing so."

Would you like glass with that?

McDonald's employee tries to kill a NYPD officer by putting glass in his food:

When a veteran cop bit into his dinner from a Bronx McDonald's, he realized he was given a decidedly un-Happy Meal - his Big Mac was stuffed with shards of glass.

As the K-9 unit cop was rushed to the hospital with cuts to his mouth and throat and a broken tooth, a cop-hating fast-food cook was arrested, police said yesterday.

"Tampering with food in a case like this is an assault as sure as an attack with a knife or a gun," said an outraged Patrick Lynch, head of the Patrolman's Benevolent Association.

The 39-year-old cop, a 17-year veteran of the NYPD, had stopped at the McDonald's at 875 Garrison Ave. at 11:30p.m. Saturday to pick up a dinner while he took his NYPD dog for exercise on Randalls Island, police sources said.

He ordered the $5.19 Extra Value Meal No.1. When he bit into the Big Mac, he hit glass.

Coughing blood, he called for help and was treated at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, police said.

Hours later, a sting operation was cooked up to catch the culprit, sources said. As a marked police car used the McDonald's drive-through, an undercover cop inside the restaurant saw Albert Garcia, 18, spit in his sandwich, the sources said.

Garcia was arrested and later confessed to planting the glass after deciding he "wanted to hurt someone" that day, the sources said.

Gender and ethnic differences

Pat Buchanan comments on the biological differences found in the human species:

Italians have produced many of the world's great works of art and sculpture. African-Americans invented the only original American form of music. If one were to list the greatest running backs in NFL history, the greatest players in NBA history, the greatest athletes in track and field, blacks – though 12 percent of our population – would have several times that representation in the respective halls of fame.

In intellectual and academic pursuits and Nobel Prizes, one finds an extraordinary overrepresentation of Jewish-Americans.

In short, it seems not irrational to conclude God sprinkled his gifts and talents unevenly among individuals and peoples. Early in the 20th century, Americans like Sen. Albert Beveridge argued that the English and Americans were uniquely endowed with the gifts of governance to rule the world.

Among friends, at bars and around dinner tables, such things are commonly discussed. The late great Murray Rothbard, the famed libertarian and polymath, once confided to me at a most politically incorrect dinner, "All stereotypes are true."

And it is not just ethnic groups that vary:

As much of the country now knows, Larry Summers, at a closed session in Boston to discuss the progress of women in academia, suggested their under-representation might be due to the fact that boys outperform girls at the highest levels of math and science.

Statistically, this is undeniable. But Summers' suggestion there might be a link between heredity and intelligence, between maleness and an aptitude for higher math, just as there is between gender and strength, caused one female Ph.D. to react as though she had been gassed.

"I felt I was going to be sick," said biology professor Nancy Hopkins of MIT. "My heart was pounding, and my breath was shallow."

"I just couldn't breathe because this kind of bias makes me physically ill." Had she not fled from the room, said Hopkins, "I would've either blacked out or thrown up."

Economics professor Claudia Goldin of Harvard, however, spoke up at the inquisition: "I left with a sense of elation at his ideas ... I was proud that the president of my university retains the inquisitiveness of an academic." As of now, count has been lost as to how many times Summers has begged forgiveness.

So, what does this tell us about Harvard, and about America?

Nothing that is good.

That a Ph.D. at MIT almost collapsed at hearing a central tenet of her liberal orthodoxy questioned, that Summers has been forced to grovel and apologize for an honest opinion, testifies to a neo-Stalinist intolerance of politically incorrect thought at Harvard. Why are U.S. taxpayers being forced to subsidize these liberal madrassas?

Maybe because the average American taxpayer is as spineless as Larry Summers?

German white slavery

More evidence of German decline:

A 25-year-old waitress who turned down a job providing "sexual services'' at a brothel in Berlin faces possible cuts to her unemployment benefit under laws introduced this year.

Prostitution was legalised in Germany just over two years ago and brothel owners – who must pay tax and employee health insurance – were granted access to official databases of jobseekers.

The waitress, an unemployed information technology professional, had said that she was willing to work in a bar at night and had worked in a cafe.

She received a letter from the job centre telling her that an employer was interested in her "profile'' and that she should ring them. Only on doing so did the woman, who has not been identified for legal reasons, realise that she was calling a brothel.

Apparently, the Germans are desperate to reduce their unemployment rate:

Under Germany's welfare reforms, any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to take an available job – including in the sex industry – or lose her unemployment benefit. Last month German unemployment rose for the 11th consecutive month to 4.5 million, taking the number out of work to its highest since reunification in 1990.

Under German law there is little difference between being a prostitute and being a nurse:

The government had considered making brothels an exception on moral grounds, but decided that it would be too difficult to distinguish them from bars. As a result, job centres must treat employers looking for a prostitute in the same way as those looking for a dental nurse.

When the waitress looked into suing the job centre, she found out that it had not broken the law. Job centres that refuse to penalise people who turn down a job by cutting their benefits face legal action from the potential employer.

So much for women's liberation:

"There is now nothing in the law to stop women from being sent into the sex industry," said Merchthild Garweg, a lawyer from Hamburg who specialises in such cases. "The new regulations say that working in the sex industry is not immoral any more, and so jobs cannot be turned down without a risk to benefits."

Miss Garweg said that women who had worked in call centres had been offered jobs on telephone sex lines. At one job centre in the city of Gotha, a 23-year-old woman was told that she had to attend an interview as a "nude model", and should report back on the meeting. Employers in the sex industry can also advertise in job centres, a move that came into force this month. A job centre that refuses to accept the advertisement can be sued.

At least the scum of the earth are benefiting:

Tatiana Ulyanova, who owns a brothel in central Berlin, has been searching the online database of her local job centre for recruits.

"Why shouldn't I look for employees through the job centre when I pay my taxes just like anybody else?" said Miss Ulyanova.

Ulrich Kueperkoch wanted to open a brothel in Goerlitz, in former East Germany, but his local job centre withdrew his advertisement for 12 prostitutes, saying it would be impossible to find them.

Mr Kueperkoch said that he was confident of demand for a brothel in the area and planned to take a claim for compensation to the highest court. Prostitution was legalised in Germany in 2002 because the government believed that this would help to combat trafficking in women and cut links to organised crime.

Miss Garweg believes that pressure on job centres to meet employment targets will soon result in them using their powers to cut the benefits of women who refuse jobs providing sexual services.

"They are already prepared to push women into jobs related to sexual services, but which don't count as prostitution,'' she said.

"Now that prostitution is no longer considered by the law to be immoral, there is really nothing but the goodwill of the job centres to stop them from pushing women into jobs they don't want to do."

What Armenian genocide?

German students will no longer learn about the Armenian genocide thanks to Turkish pressure:

Pressure from Turkey has resulted in the removal of a reference to the Armenian genocide from a German school curriculum, reports said Wednesday.

The eastern German state of Brandenburg has eliminated half a sentence on the Armenians included in ninth and tenth grade history classes after a Turkish diplomat complained to state Prime Minister Matthias Platzeck, the newspaper Die Welt reported.

In a chapter entitled "War, Technology and Civilian Populations" the school book text said "for example, the genocide of the Armenians population of Anatolia." That passage has now been removed from school textbooks, the newspaper said.

Platzeck met regularly with Turkish diplomats and was "steeled" against their influence, the newspaper quoted him as saying. The prime minister added that genocide was too important an issue to be dealt with in just half a sentence. "Brandenburg's curriculum was the only one in Germany which up until now included a reference to the murder of the Armenians," said Die Welt.

Most historians say that between 600,000 and 1.5 million Armenians were killed in 1915 and 1916 under the Ottoman Turks during World War I. The Turkish government, which denies that a genocide took place, speaks of 200,000 dead.

A Turkish embassy spokesman in Berlin declined to comment directly on the report, but noted the initiative had come from the Turkish consulate responsible for Berlin and Brandenburg - not from the embassy itself.

Prime Minister Platzeck is a member of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats (SPD). Schroeder is a strong supporter of Turkey's bid to become a member of the European Union. Germany has almost two million resident Turks - the biggest Turkish minority in the EU.

The Christian Democratic Union (CDU), which serves as junior coalition partner in Brandenburg's government, is infuriated over the change to the state's schoolbooks. "The impression created is fatal," said Sven Patke, the state CDU secretary general.

The head of the Central Committee of Armenians in Germany, Schavarsh Ovassapian told Die Welt the move was "a scandal." "It is depressing, if what's in schoolbooks in Brandenburg can be dictated from Ankara," he said.

Politically-correct history strikes again!

Mexico threatens Arizona

Mexico has issued a threat against Arizona over Proposition 200:

A Mexican government official has threatened to use international courts to block an Arizona law meant to prohibit illegal aliens from receiving public benefits and voting rights.

Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez said in a radio interview Wednesday that an international strategy would be used if other attempts to reverse Proposition 200 fail, the Associated Press reported.

"We are seeking all the legal opportunities that exist, first using the legal capacities of the United States itself and ... if that does not work, bringing it to international tribunals," AP quotes Derbez as saying.

Mexican officials have repeatedly complained about Proposition 200, which went into effect Tuesday. The statewide measure denies most taxpayer benefits to illegal aliens and requires state workers to report applicants for such benefits who may not be eligible. It also requires anyone registering to vote in the state to show proof of citizenship and bring a government-issued ID to the polling place.

It is not just white Americans who support Proposition 200:

AP reported Derbez expressed regret that, according to polls, about 40 percent of Mexican-Americans in Arizona supported Prop. 200. The measure passed with 60 percent of the vote.

"It's sad, and it gives an idea of how we have to work to educate even our own Mexican-Americans about why it is important that these proposals are not accepted," Derbez said.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund has challenged Prop. 200, saying it is "an illegal, impermissible, unconstitutional state attempt to regulate immigration policy, which is a fundamental function and responsibility of our federal government. Proposition 200 is mean-spirited and un-American."

Since when did protecting ourselves from the negative effects of illegal immigration become "mean-spirited and un-American?"

Friday, January 28, 2005

Israeli Apartheid Week

The University of Toronto is hosting a public event that some have condemned as a "hate fest":

THE UNIVERSITY of Toronto is refusing to stop an event Jewish community leaders are calling a "hate fest." Just the title of the event, "Israeli Apartheid Week," has members of the Jewish community fuming and fearful it will help usher in a "new era of anti-Semitism."

The university is allowing the event, organized by the Arab Students Collective, to be held on its campus beginning Monday.

The list of topics include the apartheid wall, labour apartheid in Israel, and solidarity with workers under apartheid. The topics and speakers have incensed the Jewish community who say they are one-sided.

Anti-Semitic poster?

A political poster has been condemned as anti-Semitic:

The Labour Party has been accused of anti-Semitism over a poster depicting Michael Howard and Oliver Letwin - who are both Jewish - as flying pigs.

Prospective Tory candidate Andrew Mennear, whose Finchley constituency contains a large Jewish community, branded it "tasteless" and offensive.

The poster shows the two men's faces superimposed on winged pigs and says "the day the Tory sums add up".

Labour said the poster was "not anti-Jewish, but anti-Tory".

The illegal immigrants of Paris

Illegal immigrants are causing problems in Paris:

A hostel that once housed the female students of an elite French university has been transformed into France's biggest squat and a bleak symbol of its failure to stem a flood of illegal immigrants.

Batiment F, a squalid, dilapidated building on the campus of the Ecole Normale Supérieure south of Paris, now houses 1,000 people, more than three times the number it was designed to hold.

In each small room into which a single undergraduate would once squeeze the necessities of student life, families of up to four people, almost all from Africa, struggle to stay healthy, clean and comfortable. Desperate to make new lives in France, the squatters are divided equally between illegal immigrants, asylum seekers and those with permission to stay but unable to find housing.

Their presence is deeply embarrassing for the interior minister, Dominique de Villepin, as he struggles to meet President Jacques Chirac's demands for a strategy to fight illegal immigration.

France's immigrant population doubled to 3.4 million in "glorious 30 years" of growth after the Second World War, with most of the influx from its former colonies in Africa. The country is believed to have up to six million Muslims, the most in Europe.

About 100,000 illegal immigrants are thought to enter France each year, although unspecified numbers are in transit, such as those who head for the Channel ports hoping to reach Britain.

Supported by the Left and determined to resist any attempt to disperse them, the Cachan Thousand are said to be provoking rows in the government over how best to deal with their case. The student accommodation agency Crous won a court order last April for the building's evacuation and wants it demolished to make way for a car park.

But officials are wary of trying to enforce the order with a police raid that might cause a riot.

Racial learning gap

The racial learning gap continues to persist according to recent SAT test scores:

Looking at the most recent results of national SAT testing yields few surprises or reasons for hope. Over the last two years, the numbers are the same.

But more alarming, the achievement gap between non-Latino white and Asian students and their black and Latino counterparts shows little improvement, only narrowing slightly across the nation. There is still a 202-point gap between non-Latino white and black students, and there is still a 133-point difference between non-Latino whites and Latinos. California SAT scores lag behind those in the rest of the nation, and trailing California's results are those of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Some students are on the fast track to a four-year university, while others struggle just to read and compute after finishing the 12th grade.

Just how bad is the racial learning gap in L.A.'s public schools?

Only slightly more than 22 percent of black LAUSD students scored proficient or better in the English portion of the SAT, as did 19.7 percent of Latinos, while 60 percent of Asian students tested proficient or better, as did 57 percent of non-Latino white students. Only 21.4 percent of black students tested proficient or better in math, with Latinos doing only slightly better. More than 72 percent of Asian students and nearly 59 percent of non-Latino white students scored at or above proficient in the SAT's math section.

And see who is being blamed for this gap:

Evidence of the tendency to make use of crackpot theories was graphically displayed recently when one local high school attempted to hold a discussion about the achievement gap. The discussion went fairly well until one of the many downtown minions of the LAUSD, who had been invited to speak, announced that the problem of the achievement gap was -- drum roll, please -- mainly that of insensitive, uncaring white teachers.

But the real cause of the problem may be the parents and children themselves:

A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education found that black parents read to their children far less frequently and visit libraries with their children less often than do white and Asian parents, and -- on average -- black children watch far more television per week than their peers from other ethnic backgrounds. Some 54 percent of black kids have cable TV in their rooms, while only 36 percent of white children do.

Other educational surveys have found that black parents are far more accepting of substandard grades than are Asian or white parents. Still another study, conducted by the Viacom Network and the Cultural Access Group, has discovered that black children have the most positive sense of self, being more likely among other ethnic groups to see themselves as powerful and influential. This, of course, runs counter to the orthodox claims that black kids suffer from poor self-esteem, requiring "culturally sensitive" approaches.

Defending the border

A new survey shows that defending the border is a top priority for many Americans:

With reports of smuggled illegal aliens possibly planning a nuclear attack on Boston, a new survey of voters shows the top priority of Americans is the defense of U.S. borders and homeland security, far outranking building democracies in other nations.

According to the poll, 43 percent of voters listed border defense and homeland security as their No. 1 choice when asked about the highest military or foreign priority of the federal government.

Coming in second place at 19 percent is intelligence gathering and working to achieve international agreements encouraging the sharing of intelligence. The third priority, at 17 percent, is international aid and diplomacy, including lining up broad international support for military actions.

Building democracies in other nations received just 7 percent, and the U.S. going it alone in military interventions, footing all or most of the cost in terms of dollars and casualties, came in fifth, at just 6 percent.

When voters were asked to choose their highest, second and third priorities from the same list of five issues and their top choices were combined, defense of U.S. borders was the clear winner at 77 percent.

Violent music

Two rappers have been convicted of making death threats in one of their songs:

Two rappers were given a suspended jail term at a court in The Hague for lyrics which threatened a Dutch politician.

The members of DHC were found guilty of making "serious threats" to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a critic of Islam, in a song circulated on the internet.

The unnamed pair were also given 150 hours of community service by a court.

Somali born Ms Hirsi Ali has recently come out of hiding following death threats triggered by a film she wrote with murdered director Theo Van Gogh.

A death threat was attached to the body of Van Gogh which led to her fearing for her life.

Ms Hirsi Ali is an outspoken critic of Islamic fundamentalism and claimed the Koran encouraged violence against women.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Insulting Islam in Britain

Even under new legislation people will be able to insult Islam in Britain:

MUSLIMS were warned by the Director of Public Prosecutions yesterday that new laws designed to combat religious hatred would not stop people from being rude about Islam.

Ken Macdonald told MPs that he wanted to play down Muslim expectations to avoid a backlash against police and politicians because very few cases were likely to reach the courts.

People will remain “perfectly free to be rude or offensive” about Islam or any other other religion because in most cases the right of free speech will still prevail, Mr Macdonald said.

He added: “It is very important people understand what the law will achieve. It will stop the grossest form of conduct but it will not stop people being rude about Islam.”

Mr Macdonald was speaking at the Home Affairs Select Committee, where he also repeated his caution to ministers to keep the right to jury trial even for terrorist suspects. He told MPs of his concern that religious incitement laws, part of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill, were expected by some to stop all forms of criticism or abuse of Islam.

The proposals have also been criticised for threatening to stifle free speech. Mr Macdonald said that they would not have been possible in the United States because of the First Amendment. But in the light of existing laws on incitement to racial hatred, British courts would “set the bar very high” before convicting, he added.

Dutch Islamic theocracy?

The man who murdered Theo van Gogh had a frightening dream for the future of the Netherlands:

The man accused of murdering filmmaker Theo van Gogh on Nov. 2 dreamed of replacing the Dutch government with an Islamic theocracy, and was supported by a network of like-minded fanatics, prosecutors said yesterday at his first public hearing.

The suspect, Amsterdam native Mohammed Bouyeri, 26, did not appear at the pretrial hearing, but his lawyer said Mr. Bouyeri wants to "be held accountable for his actions" and sees them as part of a religious war.

Allies failed Jews?

The Israeli president has accused the Allies of not doing enough to stop the Holocaust:

Moshe Katsav, the Israeli president, today accused the World War II allies of failing to take sufficient measures to save Europe's Jews and urged the European Union to act to root out modern-day anti-Semitism.

Katsav, addressing a forum marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz death camp by Soviet troops, said Allied action to bomb Auschwitz or rail lines leading to it could have saved the lives of countless Jews. "The Holocaust is not only a tragedy of the Jewish people. It is a failure of humanity as a whole," Katsav told the gathering in the Polish city of Krakow before commemorations at the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex, 70 km to the west.

Mexican border murders

Human rights groups want an investigation into the murders of young women in the border region over the past decade:

Human rights groups and relatives of women murdered near the Mexico-U.S. border want a world-renowned Argentine forensic team to study more than 300 killings over the past decade, many of which are still unsolved.

Around 30 civil organizations and relatives groups told a news conference on Wednesday they wanted the nongovernmental Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, known by its Spanish initials EAAF, to reexamine cases studied by Mexican police.

Mexico's failure to solve — or stop — the murders of young women that began in 1993 in the city of Ciudad Juarez, has brought worldwide condemnation. Some 50 victims are still unidentified.

"We have to know what happened, how it happened, that's why it's so important the inquiries continue with an independent team the organizations and families can trust," said Marimar Monroy, a representative of an independent Mexican human rights commission.

Travel to Mexico

The State Department has issued a warning to Americans traveling to Mexico concerning the risk of violent crime:

Amid escalating narcotics-related violence across northern Mexico, the State Department alerted Americans on Wednesday to the dangers of crossing the border.

"U.S. citizens should be aware of the risk posed by the deteriorating security situation," said a statement issued in Mexico City and Washington. "Although the majority of travelers in the region visit without mishap, violent criminal activity, including murder and kidnapping, in Mexico's northern border region has increased."

The department stopped short of warning Americans against visiting Mexico. But it advised them to take extra precautions, such as visiting border cities only in daylight and avoiding seedier neighborhoods known for prostitution and drugs.

"We certainly do not want at this time to advise Americans to refrain from traveling to Mexico by land or to avoid the border areas," U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza wrote in a separate letter to senior Mexican officials Wednesday. "But it is our responsibility to alert them to the enhanced risks and to provide guidance on how best to protect themselves."

Asylum seeker violence

An asylum seeker who was convicted of a violent crime wants to stay in Britain after he is released from prison:

POLICE have vowed to help a mother in her fight to get an asylum seeker who beat her son unconscious deported.

Kurdish Iraqi, Ismet Rashid Mustafa, was jailed for four years in August 2003 following a vicious attack on the 18–year–old student.

Police were appalled by the severity of the assault and at the time wanted Mustafa to be charged with attempted murder.

Detective Dave McCulloch, who led the investigation, also demanded the courts deport him as soon as his sentence had been served.

The victim’s mother, who does not want to be named, is now horrified that Mustafa is challenging his deportation and will be eligible to apply for parole as early as March 2005.

She said: “The attack has completely devastated our lives. It has always been in the back of my mind that he would appeal for parole but I did not think he would challenge the deportation.

“My son wants to get on with his life but how can he if there is a chance this man could be walking the streets of Manchester?

“He has committed a violent crime and needs to be deported.

“We will never get over it but each step, like the court case and sentencing, helped. The deportation was the final piece in the jigsaw that would give us closure. I have nothing against asylum seekers. I’m not racist. I would want this country to offer help to anyone who needs it, but this man has committed a violent crime and he is now trying to cheat the system by staying.”

The student was attacked on School Lane, Didsbury, in March 2003 after a night out in Fallowfield.

He was jumped on by two men who punched, stamped and kicked him in the head until he was unconscious.

Mustafa was caught by police but his accomplice escaped and has never been found.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Anti-Semitism report

The Israeli government has issued a new report on global anti-Semitism:

The study, published this week by the Global Forum Against Anti-Semitism, pointed to a total of 310 anti-semitic incidents in the UK last year, including 77 acts of violence. In 2003, there were 163 incidents, of which 55 were violent.

While France topped the list with 96 violent attacks, the same number as last year, the report recognised government efforts to combat the problem. Ukraine and Russia were also singled out for rising numbers of attacks against Jews.

According to the survey, Austria and South Africa are the safest countries for Jews with no violent attacks reported.

The report noted: “A radical and violent Islam has become a pan-European problem and the position adopted by countries on the Arab-Israeli conflict has an effect on anti-semitism in that country.”

In Britain, the findings placed blame on the increasing demonisation of Israel in the media, with “years of hostile reporting and commentary” now spilling over into the streets.

Launching the study, Israeli diaspora affairs minister Natan Sharansky said: “When the British Independent publishes a caricature of Sharon eating Palestinian children, we need not be surprised at the results.”

A CST spokesman claimed their official incident report, due to be released in mid-February, were likely to put the figures even higher.

A Board of Deputies spokesman said: “We have over the last four years made the point that heightened anti-semitism is the result of events in the middle east and the coverage Israel receives.

“The CST figures will reflect accurately, and in detail, the climate in Britain.”

The report comes in the week when commission for racial equality head, Trevor Phillips, warned that Jews still faced discrimination in Britain.

Claiming that anti-semitism was not just the result of tensions in the middle east, he told the Observer: “This is also about old-fashioned hatred of Jews and people who believe Jews are an international conspiracy.”

Powerless Britain?

The British government has been accused of surrendering to the European Union on the issue of immigration:

Labour has given up the UK's powers to set its own asylum laws, Tory leader Michael Howard claimed on Wednesday.

He made the claim during heated Commons exchanges with Tony Blair at prime minister's questions.

Mr Blair rejected the claim, saying Tory plans for controlling immigration and asylum were "unworkable, impractical and uncosted proposals".

Ministers had not given up the UK's right to set its own laws and control its own borders, the PM told MPs.

But Mr Howard said under the current government there was "no limit on immigration, no proper control of asylum and control of our borders has been given to Brussels".

The Tories would introduce a quota on asylum, a limit on immigration and 24-hour security across UK ports.

Bush's interventionism

Pat Buchanan explains how President Bush's foreign policy is harmful to the United States:

President Bush is championing a policy of interventionism in the internal affairs of every nation on earth. But did we not learn from 9-11 that intervention is not a cure for terrorism, it is the cause of terrorism.

Clearly, the president does not understand this, or believe it. For, in his inaugural, he describes 9-11 as the day "when freedom came under attack." But Osama bin Laden did not dispatch his fanatics to ram planes into the World Trade Center because he hated our Bill of Rights. He did it because he hates our presence and our policies in the Middle East.

President Bush says we have no other choice than to end tyranny on earth because the "survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands." But this is ahistorical.

The world has almost always been a cesspool of despotisms, but America has always been free. We have retained our liberty by following the counsel of Washington and staying out of foreign wars that were not America's wars. It has been when we intervened in wars where our vital interests were not imperiled – crushing the Philippine insurrection, World War I, invading Iraq – that America has come to grief.

Occupying the Philippines led us to intervention in Asia, war with Japan and, soon after, wars to defend the South Korean and Indochinese remnants of the Japanese empire. Wilson's war gave us the Versailles peace treaty that tore a defeated Germany apart and imposed unpayable debts on her people, leading directly to Hitler.

The invasion of Iraq has reaped a harvest of hatred in the Arab world, cost us 10,000 dead and wounded and $200 billion, and created a new training ground and haven for terrorists to replace the one we cleaned out in Afghanistan.

The new New Yorkers

A new report shows that New York City's demographics are undergoing radical changes due to legal and illegal immigration:

One result is the striking emergence of Mexicans as the fifth largest immigrant group in the city. Their census numbers quadrupled to 122,550 in the decade since 1990, when they ranked 17th with 32,689. City demographers said the true growth was still higher, possibly to a total of 200,000, and not expected to slow. Births to the city's Mexican-born mothers - 6,408 in 2000 - are second only to births to foreign-born Dominicans, who remained the most numerous of the city's foreign-born groups at 369,000 residents, followed by the Chinese, the Jamaicans, and the Guyanese.

The report did not try to calculate rates of illegal immigration for Mexicans or any other group, though Mr. Salvo acknowledged that the large increase in the Mexican-born population could not be accounted for by recorded legal immigration. Jeffrey Passel, a demographer with the Pew Hispanic Center who has studied the issue, said that nationally, 80 to 85 percent of all Mexican immigration since 1990 was undocumented, while among other immigrant groups, a great majority had entered legally.

"Any place that's getting a lot of new immigration from Mexico, virtually all of it is undocumented," Mr. Passel said, "and that certainly includes New York."

Still, the city is home to only 1 percent of Mexicans in the United States - compared with 54 percent of the nation's Dominican-born immigrants and 45 percent of its Bangladeshis, who are the city's fastest-growing group. Too few to count in 1980, Bangladeshis surged to 17th place from 42nd in the 1990's, mainly through diversity visas issued by lottery. They now place 10th in the number of births, with Pakistanis right behind them. One reason is that nearly 80 percent of Bangladeshi households are married-couple families, as are more than 6 in 10 Indian, Chinese, and Pakistani homes, compared with only 31 percent of native-born New Yorkers' households.

Oregon jihadists

Islamic terrorists can be found in some unlikely places:

The FBI knows of "jihadists" who have trained in terrorist camps in Afghanistan and are now living in Oregon, the agency's Oregon chief said in an interview with The Associated Press yesterday.

"We don't have an imminent threat that we're aware of. But I will say this: We have people here in Oregon that have trained in jihadist camps in bad areas. In the bad neighborhoods of the world," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Jordan.

Asked what he meant by "bad neighborhoods," he said Afghanistan, as well as several other countries he would not specify.

During the session with The AP, which lasted nearly two hours, Jordan discussed a wide range of themes — from his agents' participation in the Bush administration's war on terrorism to the upcoming opening of a Portland laboratory for forensic work on computers seized from suspects.

Jordan refused to say how many "jihadists" live in Oregon.

He said the FBI knows "they've trained overseas, taken oaths to kill Americans and engage in jihad," but the challenge is "to prove those things."

Jordan contrasted the known "jihadists" living in Oregon with the so-called "Portland Seven," a group of seven Portland-area people accused of plotting to wage war against U.S. troops in Afghanistan. One of them was killed in combat; the six others returned to Oregon, where they eventually pleaded guilty to all the charges against them.

More Mexican migrant guides

The Mexican government wants to issue more copies of its controversial migrant guide:

The Secretariat of Foreign Relations (SRE) will reprint the “Mexican Migrant Guide,” in spite of prompting from the U.S. government and claims by U.S. legislators and NGOs who classify it as a document that could promote illegal immigration.

While a date for the reprinting of a still undetermined number of the booklets has yet to be set, the guidebook can be found on the Internet page of the Foreign Ministry where it is listed as a recommended link to visit.

The first edition of the Mexican Migrant Guide was handed out free, plus it was included as an insert in two popular Mexican publications.

According to the Mexican Foreign Ministry, throughout its 32 pages the guide points out that undocumented crossings of the border are dangerous and against U.S. law; it offers recommendations in order to diminish the risk of death for those who seek to cross the border; and it describes the rights of the undocumented once they are detained in the U.S.

However U.S. legislators and rightwing activists, who accuse the Mexican government of promoting the departure of people to the U.S. with the guidebook, have rejected this effort.

Some legislators, like Arizona Republican representative J.D. Hayworth, expressed anger, as if the Mexican government had published a guide on how to enter the U.S. illegally. They even asked for the printing and distribution to be stopped.

But the Mexican government decided that it would reprint the guide without modification, as it is convinced that it does not promote or induce undocumented immigration.

Moreover, sources in the Foreign Ministry note that the Mexican government has a legal responsibility to do everything within its power to avoid the loss of human lives on the border, which is what the migrant guide does.

Tom Tancredo, a Republican congressman for Colorado, said: “What would the Mexican government do if we would encourage our citizens to violate Mexican law?”

Lou Dobbs, an activist who for more than a year has advanced a campaign against undocumented immigrants on his CNN television program, also said that “the guide is full of tips on how to cross the border illegally.”

Exit poll errors

Steve Sailer has some bad news for the neocons based on the presidential election exit polls:

As I figured out months ago, Bush's share for Hispanics was smaller (i.e., more realistic) among the larger sample size who took the short form of the questionnaire than among the smaller sample size who took the long form. The same was true for Asian-Americans (reported as voting 44 percent for Bush but now revealed to be only 39 percent in the larger sample ) and Jews (reported as 25 percent, but actually only 22 percent).

Both figures are bad news for neoconservatives. The Asian deflation makes upping immigration, as Bush wants, look even more suicidal for Congressional Republicans. And the revelation that Bush only carried 22 percent of Jews shows that the neocons have a lot more chiefs than Indians. As they say in Texas, the neocons are all hat and no cattle.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Britain: an EU colony?

Apparently the British no longer have the right to decide who can or can not come into their country:

Downing Street admitted today that the Government has signed away its right to cut the number of asylum seekers in Britain.

The Government confirmed that Michael Howard's plans to put a cap on numbers would be unlawful because of European directives agreed last year.

The extraordinary twist to the immigration furore was revealed by Brussels officials who pointed out that the Government gave up any power to cut numbers when it agreed a directive last March making asylum an a matter for EU law.

The claim provoked surprise, coming hours after the Tory leader put tough immigration controls at the heart of his election campaign.

Under Conservative plans, Britain would withdraw from the 1951 UN convention on refugees and impose a 10,000-20,000 a year ceiling on asylum claims.

But No 10 said the convention had become enshrined in EU law by a directive agreed last March, so Mr Howard could not carry out his policy without EU permission.

This is embarrassing for both party leaders, because neither highlighted the loss of power until the EU itself pointed it out. The Tories insisted they could renegotiate the EU law - but No 10 said that was virtually impossible.

Clones of Proposition 200

The success of Proposition 200 has led to the growth of similar political movements elsewhere in the United States:

Two of Arkansas' Republican lawmakers on Friday proposed Protect Arkansas NOW, a Proposition 200 copycat that would require proof of citizenship when registering to vote and when applying for public benefits. The welcome reception of Proposition 200 in Arizona has emboldened those lawmakers and grass-roots groups to raise money, collect signatures and strategize to put similar measures before legislators or to a public vote.

They are buoyed by Proposition 200's national media attention and believe its constitutionality will stand up in court. In addition, Protect Arizona NOW's Kathy McKee has launched Protect America NOW to help proponents of the measures organize and build a membership base.

"We've been contacted by people in every state except for Hawaii . . . saying, 'How do we do this,' " McKee said. "They wanted to see how the postelection challenge went. When it went according to plan and didn't drag on forever . . . they said, 'OK, let's get busy.' "

The curse of California's failed Proposition 187 has worn off and many see Proposition 200-type measures as a tool in the arsenal to pressure the federal government to improve border security and decrease illegal immigration.

About three dozen grass-roots groups in various levels of development are working with the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a national anti-immigration group that poured money into the Proposition 200 campaign. These groups are highly mobilized and spread FAIR's agenda against amnesty, a guest-worker program and illegal immigration.

The interest reverberating across the country in Proposition 200 imitations suggests a mounting movement against anti-illegal immigration and its burden on American taxpayers. Activists say they are desperate to protect America's culture, language and borders from southern immigrants.

"We have become a Third World dumping ground," said Protect Arkansas Now's Joe McCutchen, a 73-year-old resident of Fort Smith, Ark. "It's just madness. I'm hoping that we can wake up Americans to defend our sovereignty, the Constitution and save this Republic from this massive invasion."

Tremendous growth between 1990 and 2000 among some states that had previously had low Hispanic populations, such as Arkansas, Colorado and Georgia, is spawning the movement, experts said.

Race riots in Britain

Britain's Conservative party leader raises the possibility of British race riots because of immigration:

Michael Howard will invoke the spectre of race riots today as he claims that 'uncontrolled immigration' is putting community relations at risk - and pledges a draconian clampdown on asylum.

Refugees would be banned from applying for asylum on British shores and forced to do so from abroad under Conservative proposals, which Howard will argue could help curb people traffickers who prey on vulnerable people.

A quota would also be slapped on how many refugee seekers Britain is prepared to take, and once the limit was reached even those with genuine claims of persecution would be rejected while similar quotas would be set on legal migration under an Australian-style points system.

The Tory leader's decision to go on the offensive over asylum and immigration - with a newspaper advert today listing his beliefs about immigration, claiming that Britain has 'reached a turning point' and only his party has the 'courage to act' - will inevitably bring charges of playing the race card.

But the party is banking on rising anxiety over migration, particularly in marginal south-east seats, to improve its dismal standing in the polls - and help fend off the threat from the UK Independence Party, which has outspoken policies on limiting immigration.

'Our community relations have on the whole been good, better than most other countries of our size, but they are at risk because under this government immigration is unlimited and out of control,' Howard says in an interview to be broadcast today.

'It's been running at an average rate of 160,000 a year, that's the size of Peterborough every year, and it's forecast over the next 30 years to amount to over five million people, five times the size of Birmingham. Now I think that is going to put great strain on our community relations - and you don't have to take it from me.

'After the Bradford disturbances [race riots during the summer of 2001] the government set up its own community cohesion panel and it said in its report that immigration does cause strain.'

He said the Tories would introduce 'proper 24-hour scrutiny' of ports and speed up deportations.

The party has been badly stung by previous pledges to process all asylum seekers offshore. They led to widespread derision and taunts of a 'fantasy island' policy when they were unable to say where such processing would happen. Howard is expected to identify tomorrow a more detailed framework for handling asylum seekers offshore, expected to involve the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Tory aides said Howard, the son of Romanian immigrant parents, will portray the offshore proposal as a means of dissuading the desperate from paying people traffickers to smuggle them into the country, where they then lodge claims.

The government will unveil its own proposals to tighten up asylum and immigration controls early next month.

Dutch fear Muslims

A new poll shows that most Dutch are afraid of Muslims:

The poll, conducted by TNS NIPO in the Netherlands, as well as in Spain and Italy, since the November murder of Theo van Gogh by a suspected radical Islamist, showed only 19% of the Dutch do not see the presence of Muslims in the country as a threat.

Home to almost one million Muslims who make up 6% of the population, the Netherlands’ reputation for tolerance and social harmony has been shattered by the murder and a wave of attacks on mosques and churches and death threats against politicians.

Racial tensions surfaced again this week after a Dutch woman killed a youth of Moroccan origin after he stole her bag.

Highlights of the poll, to be launched formally on Monday, were published by De Volkskrant daily yesterday.

The newspaper said the results were surprising given that Spain and Italy were much more frequently confronted with illegal immigration from Muslim North Africa than were the Dutch.

However, the survey also showed 67% of Dutch people had no contact with Muslims and 65% hardly know anything about Islam in spite of broad coverage in the media.

Those who see Muslims as a threat said they were afraid they would eventually have to live under Islamic religious rules. Those living outside big cities, women and the well educated were more likely to have negative views, the newspaper said.

Half the Dutch polled said they would move house if their neighbourhood became dominated by immigrants and the same proportion said they were afraid women would no longer be able to move freely in public because of Muslims.

English language decline

An increasing number of immigrants in New York are not proficient in English:

The number of New Yorkers who have trouble speaking English rose to more than a quarter of the city's population between 1990 and 2000 -- or more than one-point-five (M) million people, the city reports. The increase was about 30 percent.

About half of those with problems speaking English live in homes where there is no proficient English speaker. A quarter live in houses where only a child has proficiency.

Salvo's statistics are based on census information and immigration surveys where respondents said they spoke English less than "very well."

The data suggest that the immigrant groups with the highest number of births -- Dominicans, Mexicans and Chinese -- have the highest rates of difficulty with English. Up to 76 percent of those groups report problems.

Racist tsunami song

A hip-hop radio station has put out a song parody that mocks the Asians who suffered in the recent tsunami disaster:

Hip-hop radio station HOT 97 has sparked outrage across the city by airing a twisted song that shockingly mocks the 200,000 victims of the South Asian tsunami.

The radio station, WQHT, was forced to air an apology yesterday after the insulting song - whose lyrics include racial epithets aimed at Asians - was played for four days last week by morning deejay Miss Jones.

"We are absolutely appalled, saddened, outraged and angered," said Kai Yu of Asian Media Watch.

The nasty parody, sung to the tune of "We Are the World," makes light of how the killer tsunami "washed your whole country away."

Some of the other tasteless lyrics refer jokingly to orphaned children being sold into slavery.

"You're sick," City Councilman Robert Jackson (D-Manhattan) fumed at HOT 97.

Before one airing of the song, the station's news reader, Miss Info, who is of Asian descent, objected to the song, only to be attacked by Jones and her cohorts.

"That song is really offensive to me, and I opted not to involve myself," Miss Info said.

Jones replied, "I know you feel you're superior because you're Asian, but you're not." Later, co-host Todd Lyn, incensed at Miss Info's criticism, said, "I'm going to start shooting Asians."

Councilman John Liu (D-Queens) said it was outrageous that the station, owned by Emmis Communications Corp., aired the song for four days.

"It degrades the more than 200,000 victims," Liu said.

Liu and other Asian leaders have called for the Federal Communications Commission to crack down on the station and demanded that Miss Jones, whose full name is Tarsha Jones, be fired.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Iraq-Scotland ties?

Apparently, many Scots have ancient Iraqi ancestry:

ABOUT 20 per cent of all Scots have Iraqi blood, according to a new book and television series examining the pre-history of what is now Scotland.

The remaining four in five Scots are descended from bands of hunter-gatherers who came from England and northern Europe after the Ice Age - dispelling the myth of the Scots as a mongrel race made up of Romans, Angles, Vikings, Normans and other arrivals.

These revelations come from a documentary series Before Scotland: The Story of Scotland Before History, to be screened later this year on STV and Grampian.

The programmes - accompanied by a book - also claim the mythical land of Atlantis existed in what we now know as the North Sea, and that many Scots spoke Old Welsh before Gaelic.

And they dispel the myth that the population in 4000BC was made up of grunting cavemen running around in animal skins, saying the people were actually very similar to Scots today.

Alistair Moffat, the writer and producer of the series, said many people would be surprised by the findings: "We find it very difficult to believe that 10,000 years ago people who looked like us lived on this island, hunted and gathered food, had families that they cared for, talked about ideas, gossiped, told funny stories, lied and were often worried about the future.

"Yet all the evidence shows that they were indeed like us, and, further, they were in fact our direct ancestors. They deserve a history and nothing less," added Mr Moffat.

Telling the country’s story from the end of the last Ice Age - about 8000BC - to the fall of the Pictish kingdom, the series ends in 900AD when the name Alba, Gaelic for Scotland, came into common use.

The original name Scotland, said Mr Moffat, meant the Land of the Pirates.

Using new research into Scottish DNA by Professor Bryan Sykes of the Oxford Ancestors Project, the revelation that some Scots have an exotic set of Iraqi ancestors is also backed by his research, which traced the movement of early farmers in the centuries around 4000BC. It showed them coming from Iraq and ultimately to prehistoric Scotland.

Fi Harris, marketing and communications consultant for the Scottish genealogy website ScotlandsPeople, said: "It certainly promises to offer a fascinating and innovative insight into Scottish ancestry and the role it has played in shaping modern-day Scotland.

"Since we launched ScotlandsPeople in 2002, interest in genealogy has soared and we now have over 245,000 registered users.

"Although this new documentary concentrates on 8000BC to 900AD, it will help to demonstrate how fascinating it can be to trace the lives of our ancestors."

US Border security

Border security should be an important issue for President Bush in his second term:

President Bush last week said he plans to renew his push for a change in immigration laws to allow illegal immigrants to obtain work permits - a proposal for an illegal immigration "amnesty light."

The president is right to say that immigration laws need change, but his own plan is the wrong way to go about it.

There is an enormous gap between what the political elites in Washington - both Democrats and Republicans - believe in regard to immigration and what voters clearly want.

Much of official Washington seems to favor open borders outright, through continued benign neglect of a growing problem. Meanwhile, nearly every time voters are given an opportunity, they vote for enforcing America's borders.

Americans basically want to welcome immigrants in an orderly way, but at the same time they want the borders to be enforced and citizenship to remain the privilege that it is.

The current wave of immigration is like no other in our history, with a huge portion of low-skilled immigrants arriving illegally from Mexico and a few other Latin American countries.

The demographics of illegal immigrants are overwhelming border-state welfare and health care systems and are rapidly changing the character of high-immigration areas, not necessarily for the better.

A significant part of the problem is that government policies, against the wishes of voters, no longer encourage assimilation into America, but instead foster ethnic separatism.

More than three years after Sept. 11, the border not only remains plenty porous enough for terrorists to cross with ease, but also political leaders remain strangely blind to these new risks even as they enthusiastically embrace airport shakedowns of grandmothers in wheelchairs.

President Bush likely would find strong popular support for a policy that emphasizes border security, more balanced immigration and assimilation.

If he continues to pursue amnesty light, however, he risks alienating a significant part of his political base and putting at risk other elements of his second-term agenda.

Tory immigration policy

The British Tories are getting attacked for their policies on immigration:

The Conservative Party's new immigration policy is "obscene", according to a leading human rights group.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil rights group Liberty, criticised the Tory proposals, which attempt to put immigration at the centre of the election campaign.

Under the proposals Britain would pull out of the 1951 Convention on Refugees and set quotas on the number of immigrants and refugees admitted to the country each year.

Ms Chakrabarti said: "Quotas are for cod fishing, not humanitarian protection. The refugee convention is one of the proudest legacies of World War Two. It is a little obscene to denigrate it as we approach Holocaust Memorial Day."

Charles Kennedy, Liberal Democrat leader, accused the Tories of falling back on "hard core" policies out of "desperation" in the face of another looming election defeat.

Trevor Phillips, chair of the Commission for Racial Equality, accused the Tories of basing their policy on "ill-informed propaganda" put out by "some of the more demented anti-immigration groups".

But Government criticism has been more muted, a fact possibly linked to consistent opinion poll evidence that immigration is a major concern of voters. Mr Blair said Labour would be publishing its own immigration proposals in the next few weeks.

Michael Howard's plans have been welcomed on the right for bringing to an end to the political silence on the sensitive issue.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the think-tank Migrationwatch UK, which claims Britain is already overcrowded, said: "There's deep concern right across the country about immigration and this is the first time that a major party has addressed the issue for 30 years.

"For the leader to put his personal authority behind it, it's a major step forward. It's quite exceptional."

High school race violence

Racial attacks are a growing problem in a California high school:

Concerns about racial violence are high at Bear Creek High School, where one student was arrested last week and two others have been suspended after attacks on white students, Stockton police and Lodi Unified officials said Friday.

The arrest came after a student was beat up near the school gym on Wednesday. In a separate incident the same day, another teen was attacked in a boys' bathroom.

In both cases, the victims -- ages 15 and 16 -- were white and their alleged assailants were Black, police and school officials said.

Both victims suffered minor injuries. School officials say they also have yet to find any videotape of the assaults, even though the victims said their attackers were taping the beatings.

"I've heard the allegation that there was a videotape of someone getting jumped, but we have no proof of it," said Dennis Brown, Lodi Unified's assistant superintendent of secondary education.

School officials also said they didn't have any proof that the beatings were racially motivated.

Some parents and students are concerned school officials are ill-equipped to handle the escalating violence.

Debra Kahoalii said a teacher had to escort her 18-year-old son off campus Friday after he felt threatened by a group of Black students.

"They are waiting for white students as they go through the passing periods (between classes) and getting them then, or they try to gang up on them at lunch time," she said.

Bear Creek Principal Bill Toledo said the term "White Wednesday" has been used to describe incidents in which groups of Black students supposedly ambush white students and videotape the attacks.

"But we have no credible evidence that that has happened," said Toledo, who was inundated with calls from worried parents on Thursday and Friday.

"If it is true, it will be dealt with very quickly. It is just not acceptable or appropriate and won't be tolerated," he said.

Joseph, a Black 16-year-old Bear Creek sophomore, said the attacks aren't just focused on one ethnic group. Asian and Latino students aren't immune to becoming beating victims at the school, where he said gangs, gambling and drugs are common.

His mother asked his last name not be used for fear of retribution.

"Black kids fight everybody," said Joseph, who said he personally has no conflicts with other students.

Bilingual illiterates

There is a high level of illiteracy amongst bilingual students in Copenhagen:

One in every four of Copenhagen´s teenage students is practically illiterate. A new PISA study shows that the majority of bilingual schoolchildren have almost no reading skills.

One fourth of Copenhagen´s 15-year-old students have too limited reading skills to be likely to find a job in the future.

A new PISA international education study shows that students in 15 out of the city´s 96 schools rank among the world´s worst readers. They fared worse in the test than their academic peers in Brazil, who hit the bottom in PISA´s education study of 31 countries in 2000.

The study showed that more than half of students with immigration background are practically illiterate.

"This is an enormous problem," said Niels Egelund, Professor at Denmark´s University of Education. "The schools have to demand more from both students and teachers. It´s especially worrying that we seem to have failed half of our bilingual students."

The test results came as a blow to many politicians, who agreed that the city´s educational system seemed to have failed.

Michigan and affirmative action

Most Michigan voters are against affirmative action:

More than half of Michigan voters favor banning race- and gender-based preferences in university admissions and government hiring, according to a poll released Tuesday.

Fifty-three percent of 600 likely voters said they favored or were leaning toward a state constitutional amendment that could be on the November 2006 ballot, while 33 percent opposed or were leaning against it. Fourteen percent were undecided.

The EPIC/MRA poll was conducted Thursday through Tuesday and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The amendment would stop public agencies and universities from granting preferential treatment based on race, color, ethnicity, national origin or sex.

Earlier this month, a group seeking to ban race- and gender-based affirmative action programs said it submitted more than 508,000 signatures to state election officials. At least 317,757 valid signatures of Michigan voters are needed to put the proposal on the ballot.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews

New research shows that Ultra-Orthodox Jews are more likely to jaywalk:

It is rarely said that religious types live dangerously, but it seems they do when it comes to crossing roads. A new study in Israel suggests devout Orthodox Jews are three times as likely to be risk-taking pedestrians as their neighbours in secular communities.

Tova Rosenbloom of Bar-Ilan University in Ramat-Gan, Israel, suspected religious beliefs might play a role after hearing complaints about pedestrian behaviour in the ultra-Orthodox community of Bnei-Brak, also in Israel.

"Drivers who get to Bnei-Brak complain that they need seven eyes," she says. "People walk on the roads as if they were footpaths."

To find out more, Rosenbloom and her colleagues watched more than 1000 pedestrians at two busy junctions, one in Bnei-Brak and the other in Ramat-Gan, a largely secular city. They totted up the number of times a pedestrian either jaywalked, walked on the road rather than the footpath, crossed without looking for traffic, or crossed without holding an accompanying child's hand.

The ultra-Orthodox inhabitants of Bnei-Brak were three times as likely to break these rules as people in Ramat-Gan, the team found.

Rosenbloom thinks that ultra-Orthodox faith might contribute to this cavalier behaviour by making people respect religious law more than state-imposed rules. It is also possible that religious people take more risks because they are more fatalistic and have less fear of death.

Biological differences

New evidence that biology plays a major role in human differences:

Map reading and parking may prove difficult for some women because they were exposed to too little testosterone in the womb, researchers suggest.

The study, in the journal Intelligence, fuels the age-old male myth that women are deficient in these skills.

Scientists from the University of Giessen, Germany, found a lack of the hormone affects spatial ability.

Low testosterone levels are also linked to shorter wedding ring fingers, they say.

The research looked at the spatial, numerical and verbal skills of 40 student volunteers.

Spatial skill is the ability to assess and orientate shapes and spaces. Map reading and parking are spatial skills which men often say women lack. Women tend to disagree.

The researchers also looked at the length of the students' wedding and index fingers.

In women, the two fingers are usually almost equal in length, as measured from the crease nearest the palm to the fingertip. In men, the ring finger tends to be much longer than the index.

For one of the spatial tests, volunteers had to tell which of five drawings could not be rotated so it looked like the other four.

The other test involved the ability to think in 3D by mentally "unfolding" a complex shape.

Overall, men achieved higher scores in the tests than women.

But women with the male pattern of finger length did better than those whose wedding finger was shorter.

They also scored better on the numerical tests.

And this is not the only research to show such differences:

Other studies looking at finger length ratio have suggested that, in men a long ring finger and symmetrical hands are an indication of fertility, and that women are more likely to be fertile if they have a longer index finger.

Another study controversially suggested that finger length ration could also be linked to sexual orientation, with lesbian women have a greater difference in length between their ring finger and index finger than straight women do.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

French Muslims and the Holocaust

French Muslims aren't too interested in learning about the Holocaust:

"Filthy Jew!" schoolchildren howl at a classmate. "Jews only want money and power," they tell their teachers. "Death to the Jews" graffiti appear on school walls outside Paris and other French cities.

These are not scenes from the wartime Nazi occupation or a fictional France where the far-right has taken control. Outright anti-Semitism like this is a fact of life these days in the poor suburbs where much of France's Muslim minority lives.

After a slow response when this "new anti-Semitism" flared four years ago, France has made fighting prejudice against Jews into a national priority. Holocaust education in state schools now starts with pupils as young as nine years old.

But even the best plans for teaching about the Nazi massacre of Jews can fall short when confronted with an Islamic identity spreading among a minority of France's five million Muslims.

"It works with those who are ready to listen," said Iannis Roder, a history teacher in the tough northern suburbs of Paris. "But it doesn't work with those who won't listen. They have their minds made up."

Roder is one of several history teachers who sounded an alarm in 2002 about a wave of anti-Semitism among Muslim pupils, much of it a reaction to the uprising by Palestinians against Israeli control of their lands.

Their outspoken book "The Lost Territories of the Republic" opened France's eyes to classrooms where some Muslim pupils openly denounced Jews, praised Hitler and refused to listen to any non-Muslim teacher talking about the history of Islam.

Such tension has prompted Jewish pupils in these areas to switch to private Jewish or even Catholic schools.

"Muslim pupils react less now to what happens in the Middle East," Roder said. "But the situation hasn't really changed. As soon as you talk about Jews in some historical event, there are (anti-Semitic) comments."

United Europe?

Don't get too used to the European Union:

THE CIA has predicted that the European Union will break-up within 15 years unless it radically reforms its ailing welfare systems.

The report by the intelligence agency, which forecasts how the world will look in 2020, warns that Europe could be dragged into economic decline by its ageing population. It also predicts the end of Nato and post-1945 military alliances.

In a devastating indictment of EU economic prospects, the report warns: "The current EU welfare state is unsustainable and the lack of any economic revitalisation could lead to the splintering or, at worst, disintegration of the EU, undermining its ambitions to play a heavyweight international role."

It adds that the EU’s economic growth rate is dragged down by Germany and its restrictive labour laws. Reforms there - and in France and Italy to lesser extents - remain key to whether the EU as a whole can break out of its "slow-growth pattern".

Reflecting growing fears in the US that the pain of any proper reform would be too much to bear, the report adds that the experts it consulted "are dubious that the present political leadership is prepared to make even this partial break, believing a looming budgetary crisis in the next five years would be the more likely trigger for reform".

The EU is also set for a looming demographic crisis because of a drop in birth rates and increased longevity, with devastating economic consequences.

The report says: "Either European countries adapt their workforces, reform their social welfare, education and tax systems, and accommodate growing immigrant populations [chiefly from Muslim countries] or they face a period of protracted economic stasis."

As a result of the increased immigration needed, the report predicts that Europe’s Muslim population is set to increase from around 13% today to between 22% and 37% of the population by 2025, potentially triggering tensions.

Not so friendly dolphins

The image of the dolphin as a peaceful mammal looks more like a myth than a reality:

Harbour porpoises are being killed in increasing numbers by bottlenose dolphins around British coasts, possibly due to competition for food.

The evidence comes from counts of porpoises washed up on coasts and from post-mortem examination of the animals.

A lack of fish may be turning the dolphins on their cetacean relatives, according to some scientists.

And it isn't just the work of some rogue individuals:

Acting on their own, or with others, bottlenose dolphins ram the porpoises with their beaks, causing multiple injuries that include internal bleeding, rib fractures, ruptured lungs dislocated spines.

No one seems to know why the dolphins are so violent:

One theory suggested the violence may be re-directed aggression when access to females is limited. But female dolphins have also been observed taking part in the attacks on porpoises.

Another idea is that the behaviour might help to develop hunting skills, even though the victims are never eaten.

This is evidence that any animal - even the supposedly peaceful dolphin - will become violent if it is in its best interests to do so.

Germans, Jews and Muslims

Apparently, Germany is growing more intolerant of Jews and Muslims:

Germany is growing less tolerant of immigrants, especially Muslims, and more inclined toward anti-Semitism, regarding Jews in the same vein as foreigners, according to a new study of German attitudes.

"There is no distinction anymore between Jews, foreigners and Muslims," said Paul Spiegel, chairman of the Central Council of German Jews.

According to "German Conditions 2004," a study published by Bielefeld University and conducted by Wilhelm Heitmeyer, two thirds of the Germans consider the conduct of Israelis toward the Palestinians the same as the conduct of the Nazis toward the Jews and willingly express their disdain toward Jews living in Germany.

The study, released in Berlin just before Turkey was invited to begin negotiations to join the European Union, found that xenophobia in Germany, especially toward Muslims, has "dramatically" increased in the past two years.

Some 60 percent of Germans, according to the study, believe their country is "too foreign." Germany currently is home to about 6 million foreigners, out of 82 million, about 7 percent. The United States has an immigrant population of about 11 percent.

The main target of German xenophobia is its community of 3 million Muslims, mainly Turks. Seventy percent of the Germans surveyed said that Muslims do not fit in with Western society, and German society in particular. That figure is up from 55 percent of Germans who felt uncomfortable with Muslims two years ago.

Anti-immigrant winner

British audience picks an anti-immigrant former lawyer for election run:

A television contest to choose a candidate for a seat in Britain's Parliament produced an unexpected winner — a convicted con man with a platform to emasculate all child molesters and deport 20 million immigrants.

Rodney Hylton-Potts, a 59-year-old former lawyer, was picked by viewers of the ITV network's "Vote For Me" talent contest to run as an independent parliamentary candidate in the nation's upcoming general election, expected this spring.

And here is his platform:

Mr. Hylton-Potts ran on a platform that he described as a "cabbie's manifesto," calling for the mandatory castration of pedophiles, the legalization of all drugs, a massive program of prison building, and the deportation of 20 million immigrants.

"I won because of the cabbie vote," he insisted.

He said the cabdrivers he talked to all favored his anti-immigration stance. "People didn't vote for me. They voted for that policy." ITV appeared a bit stunned by the vote result.

"We have been underwhelmed by the response to Rodney's victory," a network spokesman said. "From an ITV point of view, the show was always hoping to engage people in debate and increase interest in politics.

"To that end," he asserted, "it was a success. [But] we can't be responsible for what Rodney says."

Hutus, Tutsis and Rwanda

Steve Sailer provides some fascinating insights into Rwanda's history:

The medium-height Bantu Hutu farmers arrived 2,000 years ago and drove the pygmoid hunter-gatherer Twa into the forests. Then, about the time of Cortez, the tall, slender Tutsi herdsmen invaded from the north and, according to Gary Brecher, the acerbic "War Nerd" columnist, "claimed all the land, on the legal basis that if you objected they'd kill you."

The Tutsi rulers treated the Hutu peasantry with the same contempt the Norman lords display toward the Saxon yeomen in Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe. Commenting on Rwanda's "indigenous racism," Congo-born sociologist Pierre L. van den Berghe reported that the Tutsis, like other aristocracies, saw themselves as "astute in political intrigue, born to command, refined, courageous, and cruel."

The Tutsi ascendancy resembled the white pre-eminence in Latin America. Intermarriage was frequent, yet physical differences between the classes endured, just as they have in Mexico, where despite five centuries of intermarrying, the elite remains much taller and fairer than the masses. The trick is that Mexico's most successful short, dark men often wed tall, blonde women and have more European-looking offspring, thus replenishing the caste system. Likewise, in "Hotel Rwanda," Don Cheadle's ultra-competent Hutu executive is married to a Tutsi beauty who is taller and fairer than he is.

Prudent imperialists divide and rule, employing as their local surrogates a well-organized minority like the Tutsis in Belgian Rwanda or the Sunnis in British Iraq. In contrast, the Bush Administration disbanded the Sunni-run Iraqi Army on the advice of Shi'ite exile Ahmed Chalabi. Many Sunnis decided to fight rather than let us give the whip hand to the Shi'ites, whose hatred they had long provoked.

When the Belgians went home in 1962, the Hutus voted themselves into power and began persecuting their ex-overlords. Many Tutsis fled to Uganda, from which their sons invaded Rwanda in 1990. Rather like the French Revolutionaries guillotining the aristocrats in response to the old order's attack on France in 1792, fearful Hutu extremists decided upon a final solution.

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