Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Dutch poised to kill EU treaty

Gareth Harding:

Opponents of the treaty in the Netherlands, which include the Socialists, the conservative Christian Union party and several far-left and right fringe groupings, believe the French rejection will give a boost to the "no" camp.

Hailing the French result as "the beginning of the end for the European super-state," right-wing Member of Parliament Geert Wilders said: "The treaty is half buried, but Brussels is clever enough to revive it. For that reason the Dutch electorate must overwhelmingly vote 'no.'"

Despite the "business as usual" approach adopted by officials in Brussels, there is a widespread consensus that a double rejection by two of the EU's founding members would spell the death-knell of the treaty, plunging the bloc into a profound institutional crisis.

Speaking in Italy Monday, British Prime Minister Tony Blair hinted that Britain may not go ahead with a planned referendum on the controversial 200-page text after French voters rejected the charter by a 55 percent to 45 percent margin. A "no" vote in the Netherlands is likely to convince Blair, and other European leaders, to draw a halt to the ratification process.

Stunned EU grappling with the hard questions

Polls: Dutch Seen Nixing EU Constitution

A New Europe?

Dutch voters set to follow the French

No-vote lobby gains ground in Luxembourg

The collapse of Mexico

Alan Caruba:

According to data from the CIA, 40% of the Mexican population lives below the poverty line. The current population is estimated to be 106,202,900 people and the labor force is estimated to be 34.73 million. Despite being rich in natural resources, the Mexican economy is highly dependent on the US economy. We buy 84% of all Mexican exports, compared to Canada that buys a mere 1.8%. “Per capita income is one-fourth that of the US; income distribution remains highly unequal.” That’s a diplomatic way of saying a handful of Mexican elites own most of everything.

There are a lot of reasons advanced to explain why the Bush administration will do nothing to stop the flow of illegals across our southern border, the vast bulk of whom are Mexicans, but the one I had not heard until I received the email was that Mexico would collapse without the money sent back by the Mexicans, legal and illegal, among us. When you look at the economic data, it is the one explanation that begins to make sense.

Ignoring the financial and social impact that millions of illegal Mexican workers are having on America may well be the US government’s way of avoiding a tsunami of even more Mexicans crossing over in the wake of an economic disaster, the collapse of the Mexican economy.

The most dramatic change that the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement has had is the way it has emptied out whole sections of Mexico as its former citizens head north. People don’t do this because they have a choice. Mexico is not creating new jobs. It is, instead, sending its people here to take over all kinds of jobs that unemployed Americans no longer can get.

The World Bank confirms the CIA data that nearly half of the Mexican population is just as poor today as they were in the 1960s. That’s not slow growth. That’s no growth.

According to Bloomberg.com, “Mexico’s economy grew at the slowest pace in a year in the first quarter as US demand for the nation’s autos, textiles, and appliances declined.”

Surpassing oil and tourism, the estimated $20 billion in US dollars that Mexicans sent home last year is the mainstay of Mexico’s economy. When your main export is your citizens, your nation is in big trouble.

Of course, if the border was militarized and Mexico allowed to collapse then there would be the possibility of some real reforms in that corrupt nation. Our current policy allows Mexico to poison our nation without forcing the Mexicans to deal with their own problems.

McCain amnesty plan puts U.S. citizenship up for sale

Russell K. Pearce:

What part of "illegal" do these guys not get? When Arizona's senior senator and two congressmen released their plan to push amnesty, millions of illegal aliens beamed with pleasure at the idea of gaining legal status after years of living a life as a lawbreaker.

In 2003, 77 border hospitals filed for bankruptcy, violent illegal-alien gangs plague our cities, and criminal justice costs soar. What does it take for our elected officials to recognize and respond to the damage?

With an estimated 23 million illegal aliens living in the United States, this "amnesty on the installment plan" robs U.S. citizens of security and threatens the American way of life.

While illegals have been taking jobs away from Americans and depressing wages of other jobs, they have also been taking advantage of our services. In Arizona alone, it is estimated that free education and health care for illegals runs taxpayers more than $1 billion.

At least 500,000 illegal aliens call Arizona home, according to recent estimates. The amnesty plan would make them legal at a cost of about $2,000. For two grand, some of Washington's elite want to brush aside the will of the people.

Instead of real action, McCain is more concerned about how many employees would be lost at the world-renowned Camelback Inn in Paradise Valley if all the illegals there were rounded up. McCain's comments to a Capitol newspaper when he announced his immigration plan were a shameful attempt to trivialize the immigration problem. (McCain later apologized for those comments.)

Instead of worrying about the resort industry, McCain and the others should consider the impact of illegal immigration on U.S. citizens, the country's economy, and the social consequences. Far from the typical portrayal of illegal aliens as those just seeking a better way to support their family, illegals are responsible for a significant amount of crime in this country. More than 4,000 murder warrants from border states seek suspects who are believed to have fled to Mexico.

Most public-opinion polls show Americans to be fed up with illegal immigration, with 80-plus percent supporting the use of local law enforcement to enforce immigration laws, and a similar number of people opposing amnesty.

The McCain-Flake-Kolbe proposal contains fatal flaws, while at the same time demanding that the common person put aside common sense.

The feds casually enforce immigration law now. Why, with a new law, would there be any difference?

And with the hope of amnesty on the horizon, what is left to dissuade another 23 million illegal aliens from making the trek across our desert, if they know that eventually they can earn U.S. citizenship and all the benefits that accompany it?

And instead of demanding enforcement of immigration laws that are on the books, McCain and others give the government the right to abdicate its sole authority to keep our borders secure.

If they really want to help, then instead of giving money to reimburse hospitals a partial cost of illegal-alien medical benefits, spend that money on border security.

Amnesty is amnesty whatever it's called

The McKennedy Clan: Bipartisan Betrayers

In an act of revenge, a woman was gang-raped with the consent of her in-laws by three people on her wedding night in Pakistan


Ghulam Hussain, the father of the victim Kaneez Kubra, said his daughter was married to Mujahid Hussain on April 28, as ordered by a panchayat (local jury) under the wani custom since her brother Abdul Majid had sexual relations with Mujahid’s sister Sumera.

After the wedding, Kaneez went to the groom’s home. Her husband stayed with her in their room till 11 pm and then left. Afterwards, Mujahid’s grandfather Shahroo Khan and his mother Mukhtar came in and told the bride that the wedding was just an excuse to exact revenge on Majid for outraging Sumera’s modesty.

Mujahid then invited his three friends Muhammad Rafiq, Shabbir Muhammad and Abdul Majid Almani, who gang-raped the bride. The next day, Mujahid took her to the house of his friend Ghulam Mustafa, who also assaulted her.

On April 30, when Ghulam and other relatives arrived to take Kaneez back as per tradition, she related the story to her father. Investigation Officer Zulfikar Ali Qureshi said the police were making raids to arrest the accused but they had left the area and gone into hiding after the case was registered against them.

Bride gang-raped with groom’s consent

Swaziland's king marries 11th wife in secret ceremony - Mswati's Latest Bride Carrying His 25th Child

Thulani Mthethwa:

While King Mswati III might have 13 wives soon, his father had 70 before his death in 1982

Swaziland's King Mswati III has taken another young bride, his 11th wife since he ascended to the throne in 1986.

Noliqwa Ntentesa, the 21-year-old daughter of a commerce lecturer at the University of Swaziland, was selected in 2002 by the king during the ceremonial annual reed dance - where the king traditionally picks his wives. She already is expecting their first child, which would add to the 24 children so far fathered by the 36-year-old monarch.

Ntentesa, who was forced to drop out of high school when she was selected by the king at the age of 18, was smeared with traditional red ochre and married in a secret wedding service held last week at the Queen Mother's royal residence, the Ludzidzini.

"The ceremony was attended by only the female princess and witnessed by the Queen Mother, Ntombi Thwal," governor of the Queen Mother's royal residence, Jim Gama, said Sunday.

Mswati has set his sights on two more 17-year-olds, Nothando Dube and Xolile Titi Magagula, who quit school to prepare for the marriage and their royal duties. According to Swazi tradition, a woman has to become pregnant before the king can marry her. But there are rumors that Dube is already expecting.

Mswati, Africa's last absolute monarch, is frequently criticized for the lack of democracy, his lavish lifestyle and his luxury cars while many of his 1 million inhabitants live in poverty. Even South Africa, which is normally supportive of its African neighbors, has kept at a distance from the monarch.

He has also been accused of setting a bad example in a country with the world's highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS, with 42.6 percent of pregnant women attending antinatal clinics testing positive for the virus, according to a 2004 survey.

All Mswati's wives live in their own luxurious palaces. At one stage, the latest wife, Ntentesa, was nearly kicked out from a prestigious guest house in the capital city, Mbabane, because of huge unsettled rental bills.

Mswati's father, King Sobhuza II, who led the country to independence in 1968, had more than 70 wives when he died in 1982.

11 wives, 25 kids and going strong

Swazi king marries eleventh wife

AIDS fight rooted in tradition

How many wives does one need?

US charges two with conspiring to aid al Qaeda

Associated Press:

Rafiq Abdus Sabir

In the days before their arrest on terrorism charges, two American citizens swore a formal oath of loyalty to Al Qaeda as they conspired to use their skills in martial arts and medicine to aid international terrorism, prosecutors say.

Dr. Rafiq Abdus Sabir, 50, of Boca Raton, Fla., and Tarik Shah, 42, of New York, were to make their first appearances Tuesday in federal courthouses in Fort Pierce, Fla., and Manhattan, respectively.

The names of their lawyers were not available Monday.

The men were arrested Friday on a charge they conspired to provide material support to Al Qaeda, an FBI agent said. If convicted, each could face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.

The one-count complaint details a sting operation from 2003 to 2005 in which the two men took an oath pledging their allegiance to Al Qaeda.

Prosecutors said Sabir, an Ivy League-educated doctor, agreed to treat jihadists, or holy warriors, in Saudi Arabia. Shah, a jazz musician and a self-described martial arts expert, allegedly agreed to train them in hand-to-hand combat.

Court papers detail terror charges

2 terror suspects to be arraigned - U.S. citizens accused of planning to help al Qaeda with training, medical care

Shocked by terror plot bust


Terror Suspects Called Bin Laden Followers

Scheme by 2 to Train Terrorists Is Outlined in U.S. Court Papers

Increased security will be in force at Jefferson High School - the scene of three major racial brawls in the past six weeks

ABC News:

The most recent fighting broke out Thursday and involved about 100 students, according to school district officials. Two 15 year-old girls were hospitalized for hyperventilation, they said.

The unrest came about six weeks after a pair of racially motivated fights broke out on the South Los Angeles campus involving hundreds of students.

"There will be five Los Angeles Unified School District police officers assigned to Jefferson for the balance of the school year, and furthermore for the beginning of the next school year," Dan Isaacs of the Los Angeles Unified School District said Friday.

Attendance was down sharply Friday, with 900 students absent and 1,440 present, district spokeswoman Hilda Ramirez said. About 250 to 300 students are absent on a typical day, Ramirez said.

A "Days of Dialogue" session, which was scheduled before Thursday's violence, was held at the school Friday. Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa met with teachers and students in hopes of easing racial tensions.

Human relations teams from the U.S. Justice Department were on the campus along with officials from the city and county human relations commissions, Villaraigosa said.

Elsewhere, a fight between a black and a Latino student at Los Angeles High School escalated into "a brawl of some kind" on Thursday afternoon, the district's Susan Cox said.

The school was briefly locked down and two students were detained, Cox said. No serious injuries were reported, Cox said.

Gathering calls for end to L.A. school violence

Bridging cultural differences

Two L.A. high schools wracked by brawls

Parents Worry, and Many Students Stay Away at Jefferson

Somali immigrant cab drivers at Cleveland airport say police are ticketing them when they step out of their cabs for traditional Islamic prayer

Associated Press:

Police say they are enforcing a requirement that all drivers remain in their vehicles outside the terminal and are trying to maintain order in an increasingly competitive airport cab scene.

A sign warns taxi drivers not to leave their vehicles within 300 feet of the terminal or their car will be towed. Police are not towing, but they are issuing tickets that carry a $150 fine, plus $69 in court costs.

Members of the Islamic religion are required to have five formal prayers daily, which must be done facing the direction of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, considered the most holy city in Islam.

Muslims are recommended to be freshly cleaned with water, and they also must recite the prayers in various positions, including standing and kneeling on the ground.

The cab drivers say this is why they must leave their cars to wash up in the airport restrooms and to pray in certain areas.

Police spokesman Lt. Thomas Stacho said police ticket only law breakers, regardless of their cultural background. "Our only concern is the safety and security of the airport," he said.

The USA Taxi company says a third of its drivers have quit in recent months over the enforcement. They say the ticketing has hurt efforts to attract Somali cab drivers to Cleveland from the big Somali immigrant community in Columbus.

"Nobody wants to work in an environment of harassment," said Abdifatah Samatar, 25, the manager of the Somali-owned company. "Everyone came here to work. Instead, everyone feels unwanted."

Somali cabbies pick up fines with fares

Will Republicans really win the Hispanic vote?

Steve Sailer:

Bush pulled 11.6 million more votes in 2004 than in 2000, the majority of that growth due to higher overall turnout. By my calculations, over 80 percent of those 11.6 million additional votes, or 9.5 million, came from non-Hispanic whites.

Whites provided almost ten times as many incremental Bush votes as the next most important ethnic contributor to his growth, Hispanics, at 0.97 million extra votes.

As I've said for years, there's a distinct possibility that Karl Rove knows that his minority outreach talk is mostly a smokescreen to distract the media from his Strategy That Dares Not Speak Its Name: majority inreach.

Don’t Worry, Democrats! This Hispanic Hype Is Hogwash

U.S.-trained Mexican commandos now work for drug cartel


Elite Mexican commandos, trained by U.S. forces to combat the drug cartels have switched sides and are working for the drug smugglers in the border area posing a special hazard to American law enforcement and Border Patrol agents, according to a U.S. Justice Department memo.

The commandos, trained by the U.S. Army at Fort Benning, Ga., are known as "Los Zetas."

The Justice Department warning was sent to law enforcement agencies throughout the Southwest.

Using the commando training, Los Zetas are known to be extremely violent and have been blamed for an outbreak of violence along the Mexican border.

There are reports of the commandos making cross-border runs into U.S. territory in military-style vehicles, armed with automatic weapons.

The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars training Los Zetas to intercept drugs, some of them coming from Mexico's southern border, before they could reach the U.S. The U.S. government has also sent U.S. Border Patrol agents to Mexico's southern border with Guatemala to train law enforcement and military forces to intercept human smugglers destined to reach the U.S.

"Things like that are a concern to us, especially trained here on the U.S. side," Pima County Sheriff Tony Estrada told KVOA, channel 4 in Tucson, Arizona. "They've gotten pretty special training. ... Now, they are working with drug traffickers on the Mexican side."

Lt. Ron Benson added: "Not only did they receive some early military training but they developed their own internal training as well increasing their violence far beyond their own original capabilities."

Benson has worked with the Department of Homeland Security and tracked the rogue Mexican commandos. He is now retiring from the Pima County Sheriff's Department and will be working with the FBI.

"They are a threat to authorities not only in Texas, but in New Mexico, Arizona and California," he said. "Because we believe Los Zetas are being used as protectors for narcotics coming into this country."

Benson says sons and nephews of Los Zetas are starting their own organization and taking part in the drug wars.

Mexican commandos seek control of border - U.S.-trained Zetas behind wave of violence killing hundreds over drug, smuggling routes

'El Chapo' behind violence

Violence in Mexico Blamed on Drug Cartel Rivalries

Mexican drug lord fighting for control of entire U.S.-Mexico border

American culture in Islamic Afghanistan

Thomas Coghlan:

As the co-host of Afghanistan's answer to MTV, 24-year-old Shaima Rezayee was one of the best-known women in her homeland. Now, her killing has made her even more famous.

Only three years after the fall of the Taliban, which banned both music and television, Afghan viewers were gripped by her show, called "Hop," an hourlong program that broadcast foreign music videos and featured vivacious young presenters in Western dress.

In a society as deeply conservative as Afghanistan, the show divided viewers into two camps -- those who found such liberalism exhilarating and those who considered it profoundly dangerous.

Just weeks after the program premiered last fall on the country's first independent television station, Tolo TV, the presenters began to receive death threats. In March, shortly after complaints from the country's conservative religious Supreme Court that "Hop" was "un-Islamic,'' Rezayee was sacked. She said in a media interview shortly afterward that she believed her life was in danger.

On May 18, her fears were realized. She was shot dead at her home.

Suspicion fell initially on her fundamentalist foes, but last week Kabul police said they suspect that "family members may be involved in the murder," leading to speculation that Rezayee's death may have been an "honor killing." They said they will question Rezayee's relatives when the mourning period ends.

Here is how the country's Supreme Court sees Tolo TV:

Tolo TV is wildly popular in Kabul, with an 81 percent share of the audience, and "Hop," its No. 1 program, quickly drew the ire of the religious establishment and fundamentalists.

"We oppose this 'Hop' because it is against the culture of Afghanistan, the society of Afghanistan and the religion of Afghanistan," Supreme Court Judge Maulvi Mohammed Seddiq said last week. "This program is changing young people and moving them toward criminal activities. Programs like this are taking them toward sexual desires. Sex is creating a lot of problems in society. That is why Islam has banned the sorts of activities that lead to this destabilization."

Last October, the Supreme Court tried to ban Tolo TV and several satellite channels. The court's list of complaints included a decision by Tolo TV to show the 1956 Cecil B. DeMille epic "The Ten Commandments."

"It showed the prophet Moses with short trousers among the girls," a Supreme Court spokesman told reporters. "He's a very holy person and Islam respects him. This is wrong." The station was taken off the air for three weeks.

In March, Rezayee and her co-presenter, 22-year-old Shakeb Isaar, were accused of engaging in onscreen flirtation and double entendre. A Supreme Court spokesman claimed that on one occasion Isaar told Rezayee that her shoes were very nice and urged her to "hold up your legs" so that the audience could admire them. Isaar was subsequently attacked with a knife on a Kabul street and needed 12 stitches to close wounds to his hands.

In Afghanistan, a woman's own family can be her worst enemy:

It was also widely rumored that Rezayee was having relationships with young men, they said. Whether true or not, even the suspicion of extramarital sex can lead to the killing of a woman by her own family in Afghanistan to protect the family's honor in the eyes of their peers.

Personal and familial honor is a central plank of Afghan society, and honor killings are not uncommon. Last month, a young woman in a remote northeastern region of Afghanistan was reportedly stoned to death for having an affair outside marriage.

Such retribution is both culturally accepted and unlikely to result in legal repercussions.

"If you see your wife sleeping with someone and you kill them before complaining to the courts, if the couple were caught in the act then there is no charge that is investigable against you," said Seddiq, explaining the Supreme Court's position on such killings.

If Rezayee died at the hands of her family, it would be particularly tragic because she had described them in several interviews as her staunchest supporters.

Thanks to Eric for the link.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Border crisis costly to Mexican-Americans, too

Hector Ayala:

According to defenders of open borders, we must all agree that illegal immigrants are only reclaiming their land, or that they all come here to work, or that they deserve no scrutiny regarding requirements that even citizens have to abide by.

To think otherwise makes us racist and insensitive. But to many taxpaying American citizens, the illegal immigrant multitudes seem to be getting commensurately more rights than American citizens, and that's making people angry.

Illegal immigration is a serious problem that neither side of the political spectrum seems to want resolved.

Marshaled by militant Chicano separatists and sundry other activists and sympathy peddlers - like the nefarious ACLU, which sees illegal immigrants as weak and defenseless players unfairly placed on an uneven field - the left doesn't really care for the sovereignty of our nation.

Such a flippant attitude regarding our nation's laws is becoming less and less supportable for the American people.

The American taxpayer is beginning to resent so much money being spent on this issue.

We live in a nation of immigrants, yes, but an important point that gets lost in the shuffle is that legal and illegal immigration are two different things.

On the one hand, we want to help the immigrant; on the other, we see the illegal immigrant as a person who has little consideration for our laws or the expense - at least $10 billion a year spent on schooling, hospitals and medical care for more than 8 million illegal immigrants, according to the Center for Immigration Studies.

And what's with the sanctuary cities, where no one is allowed to give up illegal immigrants? Cops can't; citizens can't. They have free citizenship rights, thanks to sensitive groups interested in political correctness.

National Data

The immigrant 'cheap labor' myth

America's Mexican Medical Insurance Program

15 Years on the Bottom Rung

Raids target Chinese slave labor gang

BBC News:

Police have arrested 70 people after raids in three countries targeting a gang accused of smuggling Chinese illegal immigrants into Italy.

Police said more arrests were expected after the morning raids in Italy, Greece and Turkey.

The operation was requested by prosecutors in the central Italian city of Ancona.

A police spokesman said many illegal immigrants were forced into "slavery" in illegal Chinese workshops in Italy.

"Many of the victims which did not manage to pay completely the ransom imposed by the organisation were then locked up in illegal workshops," General Giampaolo Ganzer told Italian radio station Rai 1.

He said workshops had been found in Prato and Florence, among other places.

Dozens of people had been "freed" in the raids and the heads of the workshops arrested, General Ganzer said.



Italian police arrest 30 Chinese gangsters

Italian police crackdown on human trafficking


Climate change refugees could crowd Europe's central belt

edie newsroom:

Central Europe could become crowded with refugees fleeing the effects of climate change on the continent's northern and southern extremes.

This is the view of the influential European Environment Agency, a wing of the EU.

Arctic leaders are warning that climate change could destroy their culture as the permafrost thaws and ice cover melts, threatening houses and the infrastructure built on the hard ground and destroying the habitat of many species hunted for their survival.

Over the next century they fear this could drive them south, as life in the Arctic becomes untenable.

Meanwhile, many scientific models predict Southern Europe will become drier, potentially turning the Mediterranean area into an arid zone, forcing people to head north.

A recent report from the European Environment Agency confirms that changes in climate and impacts on nature and ecosystems are already underway in several parts of Europe, including the Arctic.

Professor Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of the agency said: "These findings provide even more evidence that climate change is really happening.

"Our report supports policy makers in their efforts to not only reduce emissions of greenhouse gases but also prepare ways to adapt to the changes that will inevitably come.

"Europe has a particular responsibility because of its leadership in the Kyoto process but also because its geography - from the Arctic to the arid regions of the Mediterranean - means that all Europeans will be affected."

Climate change will create refugees

Climate change could crowd middle of Europe-EEA

Dozens of students involved in racially motivated fights at two Los Angeles high schools

Associated Press:

Police detained more than a dozen students after separate brawls broke out at two high schools, the latest in a string of school fights on Los Angeles campuses that appear to be racially motivated.

More than 20 students were caught up in a fight at Jefferson High School on Thursday, and campus police detained about 15 of them, according to Los Angeles Unified School District spokeswoman Hilda Ramirez. There were no serious injuries, although two girls were treated at hospitals for hyperventilation, she said.

Police and district officials were investigating what sparked the fight, which came a day before the school had planned a dialogue to discuss recent violence. Racial and gang-motivated brawls broke out at the campus twice in April.

Jefferson students were dismissed early at staggered times Thursday and would be sent home early again Friday, Ramirez said.

At Los Angeles High School, two separate fights with several hundred onlookers escalated into "a brawl of some kind" in the afternoon, district spokeswoman Susan Cox said. The campus was briefly locked down and two students were detained. No serious injuries were reported.

"I'm told there were some racial overtones" to the violence, Cox said.

Students at Jefferson High said the brawl started with a fight between a black and a Hispanic student, which provoked other fights. Parents who flocked to the school reacted with concern and anger - and some threatened to pull their children out of class.

"I'm not prejudiced. I'm not racist. We all bleed the same color blood," Lilly Ficklin told KCAL-TV. "But my child is outnumbered. This is his last day here."

Another Brawl at Jefferson High

'Days of Dialogue' to Address Violence

Peace Rally Ends With Fight Among Students

San Jose sees an increase in Latino gang violence

Crystal Carreon:

While San Jose police have declined to reveal the number of known gang members in the city, data from juvenile hall shows an alarming increase in youths across the county who identify themselves as gang members. In 2000, 51 young people at juvenile hall admitted gang ties. In 2003, the number skyrocketed to 432. And in the past 18 months, that number has grown by about 40 percent, leading to more gang violence inside the facility, said Delores Nnam, a county probation department official.

"We have seen a huge influx of gangs entering the hall," Nnam said. "Whether or not this reflects what's going on on the outside, I can't say. But here, it has definitely increased."

Officials and community members say they have indeed seen a surge in gang activity on the streets of San Jose, from stepped up recruiting of children to escalating violence.

San Jose police report that gang-related aggravated assaults, many involving weapons, increased during the first quarter of this year compared with the same period in 2004. This year, 64 incidents were reported; last year, there were 50.

Six people were killed in gang-related homicides during the first quarter of this year. In all of 2004, four homicides in San Jose were gang-related.

In the neighborhoods gangs call home, children -- some still in elementary school -- are confronted with a reality that seems to contradict living in America's safest big city.

Boys are beaten with baseball bats and fists, stabbed with pocket knives and machetes, or "jumped" on their way home from school. Some are shot. Other youths -- one as young as 15 -- have been charged with murder.

"What we've seen in the last month is, at least in my recollection, an unprecedented level of gang-related violence committed by juveniles in San Jose," said Kurt Kumli, a deputy district attorney who supervises juvenile prosecutions in Santa Clara County. "We're not talking about the fist fights and assaults of a year ago; we are now talking about shootings and stabbings and clubbings."

Much of this violence is due to conflicts between two Latino prison gangs:

Sureños, or southerners, and Norteños, or northerners, are offshoots and loose affiliates of two Latino prison gangs that have been at war since the late 1960s.

Typically, Norteños in Northern California are the children or grandchildren of immigrants, while Sureños are newer arrivals. They wear blue and claim the number 13 because "M" -- for the prison gang Mexican Mafia -- is the 13th letter of the alphabet. Norteños wear red and claim the number 14 for "N" -- standing either for Norteños or la Nuestra Familia, the Mexican Mafia's rival.

The importance of the colors and numbers is difficult to overstate. Police say scores of innocent Bay Area residents have been beaten or even killed in altercations that started because they were wearing red or blue. San Jose officials recently asked some retailers to stop selling clothing and gear favored by gang members.

In a recent twist, some Norteños have taken to wearing blue and some Sureños red. A Norteño might wear a baby-blue jersey from the University of North Carolina because it includes the word "North," while a Sureño might wear a red shirt or jacket by the clothing designer South Pole.

"It's like saying, 'I'm so confident, look at me in red,' " Brass said.

To many authorities, the rivalry between the two gangs appears to be based on nothing more than members' identity.

"It's the Hatfields and McCoys, and they've been at it so long they don't even know why they're shooting at each other anymore," said Sonoma County sheriff's Lt. Matt McCaffrey, who oversees the county's gang task force and agreed that the Norteños and Sureños are becoming increasingly violent.

McCaffrey said he often gets the same response when he questions a Sureño about his motive for a violent act: "He's a Norteño."

Unwittingly, chain offered shirt with gang symbols

On his turf

Taking a stand against violence

Islamic teacher jailed for assault on a nine-year-old child

Cheryl Smith:

A TEACHER at a Burton mosque has been jailed for four months for assaulting a nine-year-old child — his second conviction for attacking a child in his care.

Religious instructor Mohammed Ashraf, of Horninglow Road, was sentenced at Burton Magistrates Court yesterday after previously admitting hitting the boy, who had refused to read from the Koran, with a piece of wood.

The 57-year-old had also been convicted of assault in 2001, but given a conditional discharge on appeal, after he twice struck a seven-year-old pupil across the back with a metal rod for being disruptive.

Mark Croft, defending, said the defendant, a religious teacher at Parker Street Mosque, had been chastising the children for their disruptive behaviour.

Ashraf hit the youngster in January last year with a piece of wood known as a 'Rael' — a cross frame used to hold the Koran.

The court was told the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, suffered bruising to the back of his head, forearm, shoulder and tenderness behind his right ear.

A statement from the boy, read in court, also said that Ashraf had made him crouch in a 'chicken' position for up to an hour for bad behaviour.

Mr Croft said Ashraf did not believe he had been excessive in his punishments and had permission from the mosque and parents to moderately chastise the children for misbehaving.

He said: "We might find moderate chatisement something rather strange, but the defendant is adamant that in his culture and in the rules of the mosque, moderate chastisement is allowed.

"He was only seeking to correct the boy and bring him back to class so he could get him to read from the Koran.

"He held out the wood to tap him on the head and the boy unfortunately jumped, causing more damage than intended."

Ashraf had initially denied a charge of assault, but later admitted the charge on May 4. The case was adjourned until yesterday for a pre-sentence report.

Presiding magistrate Robert White said Ashraf had left the bench no choice but to impose a custodial sentence after he abused his position of trust and hurt a vulnerable child.

He said: "You were in a position of authority. You also have a previous conviction for a similar offence, which has led us to conclude you have a tendency to commit this kind of crime."

I wonder if there will be any protests by Muslims claiming that their religious freedoms are being interfered with by the courts?

Finally Mexico decides to tackle women's murders

BBC News:

The Mexican attorney general's office says it is setting up a unit to investigate the murders of women in the northern city of Ciudad Juarez.

The team will start work by widening existing inquiries into 22 cases that occurred in the past two years.

It is not clear whether the unit will look into the deaths of the other 300 women killed in the city since 1993.

The move comes a day after Amnesty International said that the government was not doing enough to investigate.

Rights groups say local investigators have either botched their inquiries or obstructed efforts to secure justice.

There have been several arrests, but the killings have continued.

Two girls aged seven and 10 were murdered earlier this month.

The killings were first exposed when bodies were found in desert graves and by city roadsides in 1993.

The murders have been variously attributed to serial killers, drug cartels and domestic violence.

Some of the killings are believed to have been sexually motivated.

Many of the victims were poor working mothers employed in factories in the industrial city on the border with Texas.

Earlier this year the government announced a $2.7m compensation fund for relatives of the victims.

Families say the crimes have never been properly explained.

The UN has also criticised Mexico's handling of violence against women.

El Paso's Bridge of the Americas closed temporarily

More federal agents to investigate killings of women in border city

Mexican Teachers March Against Killings

Rights group says violations persist in Mexico

Bridge closes after crash

Authorities warn of psychopath in Ciudad Juarez

The violence and fingerpointing continues


Mexican defendant sentenced in 1998 murder of Border Patrol agent

Associated Press:

The final defendant in the 1998 slaying of a U.S. Border Patrol agent has been sentenced to 15 years in prison and three years of supervised release.

Juan Manuel Umares-Rivas, 27, was sentenced Thursday in federal court here.

Authorities said agent Alexander Kirpnick was killed on June 3, 1998, in Potrero Canyon, west of Nogales, after he encountered four men trying to smuggle marijuana across the border.

Umares-Rivas, of Mexico, was extradited to Tucson in March 2004 after the three other defendants in the case had been sentenced.

He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana, possession with intent to distribute marijuana and use and carrying of a firearm during a drug-trafficking offense.

According to federal prosecutors, Umares-Rivas admitted he knew one of his companions was carrying a gun and that a law enforcement officer was killed.

Violence against border agents at record pace

Last defendant sentenced in 1998 slaying of Border Patrol agent

Britain is crippling African healthcare

BBC News:

The UK is crippling sub-Saharan Africa's healthcare system by poaching its staff, UK doctors have warned.

With the UK taking over the chair of the G8 in July, there is an ideal opportunity to stop the brain drain from poor to rich countries, they said.

The UK should encourage more home-grown doctors and limit the time period that overseas recruits can train and work in the country, they told the Lancet.

Financially compensating nations for lost staff will not work, they warned.

Nor will strategies that split the training of healthcare staff between developed and developing countries, according to Dr John Eastwood and his colleagues from St George's Medical School in London.

He said: "One basic measure would be an agreement in consultation, with the World Health Organization, to establish a basis in developed countries for minimum annual numbers of health professionals in training.

"This would help to reduce developed country reliance on the investment in training made by developing countries."

The UK does have an ethical code which means it will not actively recruit from certain developing countries, which includes sub-Saharan Africa.

However, healthcare professionals from these countries are free to apply for jobs in the UK.

In 2003, 5,880 UK work permits were approved for health and medical personnel from South Africa, 2,825 from Zimbabwe, 1,510 from Nigeria and 850 from Ghana.

Although the UK government says it is working to create more home-grown doctors to staff the NHS and bring down waiting times after decades of under-resourcing, it still relies heavily on healthcare professionals from overseas.

Nearly a third of the doctors practising in the UK were trained overseas.

UK Poaching doctors and nurses from Sub-Saharan Africa

NHS contributing to African 'brain-drain'

UK crippling Ghana's healthcare

James Johnson: Urgent: practical plan required to end this robbery

Medical staff quit for the West, leaving Africa's health service in crisis

Paying Social Security to people in Mexico

Ron Strom:

A Republican congressman is pushing a bill that would prohibit the federal government from paying Social Security benefits to non-citizens living in other countries.

Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, re-introduced his bill, the Social Security for American Citizens Only Act, H.R. 858, in February after sponsoring a similar piece of legislation last year.

"Please protect Social Security from being transformed into a system of global welfare by cosponsoring my Social Security for American Citizens Only Act," Paul wrote to his colleagues.

The bill amounts to a pre-emptive strike against any efforts by the Bush administration to allow non-citizens in Mexico who worked for a time in the U.S., most illegally, to collect Social Security. Paul's legislation would prohibit all non-citizens from receiving the benefit regardless of where they live.

Currently the bill has nine co-sponsors and has been referred to the House Ways and Mean Committee.

The bill also ends the practice of totalization, which allows certain non-citizens to collect Social Security even though they have not worked in America (and thus not paid payroll taxes) as long as American citizens must to qualify for Social Security.

In 2003, U.S. and Mexican officials were actively discussing a deal that would allow legal and illegal immigrants to return home but still collect U.S. benefits. Such an agreement could mean the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars in payments south of the border.

Here is the financial analysis:

Social Security Administration officials estimate about 50,000 Mexicans would collect $78 million in the first year of a U.S.-Mexican agreement. By 2050, the number is predicted to swell to 300,000 Mexicans collecting $650 million in benefits a year.

But that number doesn't include the potentially eligible, illegal Mexican immigrants. Accounting for illegals, the agreement could cost U.S. taxpayers $750 million within five years of implementation.

"If you look back to when Social Security was created, it was never intended to be an individual foreign-aid program," Jeff Deist, a spokesman for Paul, told WND. "It was intended to provide money to keep old people in the U.S. out of poverty."

If it became law, Deist noted, Paul's bill would encourage aliens who come to the U.S. legally to become citizens.

"It's good to encourage people, if they're going to come here and reap the benefits of our economy, to have an allegiance to the United States," he said.

Deist said the reason Mexico is such a concern is because of the huge monetary impact it represents compared to other nations.

"We do have totalization agreements with some countries," Deist explained, "but signing such an agreement with Mexico opens a much larger can of worms.

"Paying Social Security to people in Mexico is the last thing we should be doing. … We're already scrambling to figure out how we're going to pay benefits 10, 20, 30 years from now. Surely we ought not to be adding to that by putting a bunch of new people on the rolls."

Of course, if the government would only enforce the immigration laws that we already have then we wouldn't need this new piece of legislation.

Israel to spend millions to attract young Jewish immigrants

Associated Press:

Israel is launching a $280 million program aimed at convincing thousands of young Jews to immigrate to Israel in the next five years, officials said Thursday.

The program – targeting people between 18 and 30 – is meant to increase the number of young adults who will eventually immigrate to Israel annually by allowing them to remain here for a year on a tourist visa. During that time, the participants will be offered access to university classes and other programs.

Last year, some 4,000 Jews from this age group immigrated to Israel, said Elan Ezrahi, the official overseeing the program for the quasi-governmental Jewish Agency. Next year, the government hopes to attract 8,000 young Jews, with the goal rising to 20,000 by 2009, he said.

The program will partly focus on Russian Jews who did not come to Israel when the Soviet Union collapsed but may have family here and are looking for a stronger link to Judaism and Israel, Ezrahi said.

The Jewish Agency and the Israeli government will offer participants in the program full and partial scholarships, depending on their economic situation, but they will have to purchase their own plane tickets, Ezrahi said.

Young Jews encouraged to immigrate

Mexican group sues Border Patrol for arresting illegal immigrants in school

Associated Press:

A Hispanic advocacy group has sued the -S Border Patrol and Albuquerque’s public school district and police.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund alleges three Hispanic students’ constitutional rights to an education were violated.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in US District Court in Albuquerque.

The lawsuit says the Del Norte High School students were questioned in March 2004 by a police officer and school administrators.

The lawsuit says the US Border Patrol was called to campus after it was learned the students were illegal immigrants.

The students have been ordered to leave the US by June 1st. The lawsuit contends that campuses are safe havens for students.

School, police and border patrol officials decline comment.

Immigrant rights group sues APS

Students pulled from class stay in U.S. while lawsuit pends

Hispanic group sues over arrests of teens

Hispanic group sues APS, board patrol, police over arrests

German youth are turning towards right-wing extremism

Dominik Cziesche:

A neo-Nazi in a march in the Eastern German state of Brandenburg The NPD organizes free trips for school children to party demonstrations

German young people, faced with liberal parents who are tolerant about sex, drugs and rock and roll, are increasingly rebelling by turning to right-wing extremism. Neo-nazi fashion, music and ideology have become an ever important part of German youth culture.

Here is how young Germans view things:

They believe that if foreigners left there would be more jobs and fewer unemployed Turks getting money from the government. There would be no Albanian drug dealers on the streets and no macho Islamic guys hitting on their girlfriends. They would also no longer run the risk of being beaten up by large groups of "Russians" on a Friday night in front of their favorite bar. They say it is always "the Russians" who attack first.

Many young Germans feel that they are not allowed to be patriotic:

One of the boys says that his mother, who he characterizes as "more to the left," became very upset when he and a group of friends tied the German flag to their tent during a summer camping trip. "Hey guys," she said, angrily, "you must be nuts, where do you think you are?" But what the boy's mother didn't seem to notice was that the surrounding tents were all flying flags -- Dutch, British and Hungarian -- and that no one seemed to care about that.

"We're not allowed to be patriots. We're not allowed to be proud of our country, but they are. Why? It's really annoying," they say.

So now they wear something they call the secret insignia of the right-wing scene: New Balance shoes. The "N" on the shoes is supposed to stand for "national," something that would never occur to mothers. They download songs by bands like Störkraft (Disturbing Force) and sport closely-cropped hair. And instead of making them outcasts in their school, their music and their haircuts are even considered hip in German schools these days.

Quietly and persistently, a new youth culture has developed in both the eastern and western parts of Germany. It's Germanic and xenophobic and potentially explosive.

While the German government does its best to ban neo-Nazi demonstrations at memorials for victims of the Nazis, right-wing extremism is gaining new adherents in schools, concert venues and at youth gatherings. The "nationalist mood" has become "chronic and wide-spread" in former East Germany, says Bernd Wagner, an expert on extremism. But young people in these areas are unlikely to encounter many foreigners there. According to a current study by the Bavarian State Office for Political Education, their right-wing extremism is a protest -- even a revolt -- against the West's more liberal, middle-class values.

Most young right-wingers, both in the West and the East, are not willing to engage in violence, but they do prepare the ground for skinheads and thugs. The first effects of this process are already being felt. In its annual report issued last week, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution notes that neo-Nazi groups have experienced growth rates in excess of 25 percent. The number of crimes and violent acts committed by right-wing extremists is also growing, as is the frequency of skinhead concerts. Minister of the Interior Otto Schily says that the increasingly aggressive right-wing extremist movement is cause "for great concern."

German parents seem to be incapable of understanding their children:

Many parents and teachers are completely perplexed by their children's xenophobic tendencies. These are fathers and mothers who came of age in the 1960s, who provided their children with a liberal upbringing, and whose greatest fear was that their kids might be taking drugs. They have been completely taken by surprise by the right-wing sentiments of German young people. Take, for example, a mother from Bremen who moved to the country with her husband and three children a few years ago. "Everything is wonderful here," she thought at the time. Two-and-a-half years later, when the woman threw her son out of the house, his parting words were "Heil Hitler!"

The boy had become increasingly drawn in by the local right-wing scene. The parents saw all the physical signs, but none of it meant much to them. How could they have known that sweaters by Lonsdale or Pitbull are especially popular among right-wing extremists? "After all, they're expensive clothes, so all I thought was that they must be good, brand-name quality." There was one incident that worried them a bit, but for the wrong reasons. One of their son's new friends showed up wearing a jacket labeled "Bierpatrioten" (Beer Patriots), the name of a right-wing band. But the mother took it as a sign that perhaps her son was drinking too much.

It eventually became more apparent to the woman and her husband that their son had drifted off to the right. He listened to CDs with titles like "Revenge for Rudolf Heß" and was visited by the police, who claimed that he and two of his friends had beaten up a Pole. Finally, the mother had seen enough. She threw the boy out of the house.

Right-wing extremists tend to do most of their recruiting in rural areas. Augsburg street worker Heiko Helbig dubs the phenomenon "village fascism." One of the reasons that rural areas have become such fertile ground for right-wingers is the lack of activities for young people. Those who aren't members of athletic leagues have become easy prey for neo-Nazi recruiters. During youth meetings, Helbig sometimes discovers seemingly harmless boys carrying pamphlets of songs that were popular in the Nazi army, or Wehrmacht.

Other street workers say that the extreme right-wing NPD party sponsors trips to demonstrations in Dresden for high-school students -- bus ride, lunch and beer free of charge. "The Right," says Nürnberg youth advisor Detlef Menske, "seems to have discovered the key." In fact, Nazi culture has become so omnipresent in the daily lives of some young people that they use Adolf Hitler's voice as their cell phone ring tone and Nazi symbols as their screen savers.

One of the most damaging aspects of neo-Nazi activity in the countryside is the silence of the parent generation. Local officials and the police still refer to neo-Nazi efforts as a fringe activity, and they refuse to acknowledge the potential for conflict with violent foreign gangs in Germany's smaller cities.

The press in the Bavarian town of Aichach had reported on a presumably foreign gang of thugs who had been attacking German youth, seemingly at random. The police downplayed the report, saying they were dealing with an "isolated group." Perhaps they were right, but young people in the town have reported multiple attacks, a circumstance that no one seems to be taking seriously in Aichach -- no one but right-wing extremists.

If the Germans really want to stop their children from embracing neo-Nazism they should do something about the high level of immigration in Germany. This new love for Hitler amongst Germany's youth seems to be a response to the problems caused by many immigrant groups in the country.

Prejudice is hard-wired into our brains

Arizona State University:

Contrary to what most people believe, the tendency to be prejudiced is a form of common sense, hard-wired into the human brain through evolution as an adaptive response to protect our prehistoric ancestors from danger.

So suggests a new study published by Arizona State University researchers in the May issue of the "Journal of Personality and Social Psychology," which contends that, because human survival was based on group living, "outsiders" were viewed as -- and often were -- very real threats.

"By nature, people are group-living animals -- a strategy that enhances individual survival and leads to what we might call a 'tribal psychology'," says Steven Neuberg, ASU professor of social psychology, who authored the study with doctoral student Catherine Cottrell. "It was adaptive for our ancestors to be attuned to those outside the group who posed threats such as to physical security, health or economic resources, and to respond to these different kinds of threats in ways tailored to have a good chance of reducing them."

Here is what the researchers did:

Neuberg and Cottrell had 235 European American students at ASU think about nine different groups: activist feminists, African Americans, Asian Americans, European Americans, fundamentalist Christians, gay men, Mexican Americans, Native Americans and nonfundamentalist Christians. The researchers then had the participants rate these groups on the threats they pose to American society (e.g., to physical safety, values, health, etc.) and report the emotions they felt toward these groups (e.g., fear, anger, disgust, pity, etc.).

Consistent with the researchers' hypotheses, findings revealed that distinct prejudices exist toward different groups of people. Some groups elicited prejudices characterized largely by fear, others by disgust, others by anger, and so on. Moreover, the different "flavors" of prejudice were associated with different patterns of perceived threat.

Follow-up work further shows that these different prejudices motivate inclinations toward different kinds of discrimination, in ways apparently aimed at reducing the perceived threat.

"Groups seen as posing threats to physical safety elicit fear and self-protective actions, groups seen as choosing to take more than they give elicit anger and inclinations toward aggression, and groups seen as posing health threats elicit disgust and the desire to avoid close physical contact," says Cottrell.

Study: Homophobia hard wired by evolution

Tendency to be prejudiced is a form of common sense, hard-wired into the human brain

Are You Prejudiced? Researchers Say It's Not Your Fault!

Race, medicine and multiculturalism

Dr. Ken Dombey:

Apparently, the medical community implicitly accepts Philippe Rushton's hypothesis that three major ancestral genetic pools exist. Beyond that, taxonomy becomes somewhat complex. However, physicians as a practical matter undoubtedly work with Steve Sailer's definition that races can be considered to be extended families.

In fact, on the government website for organ transplantation I found that this explicit statement:

"Matching donor organs to potential recipients requires genetic similarity. Generally, people are genetically more similar to people of their own ethnicity or race than to people of other races. Therefore, matches are more likely and more timely when donors and potential recipients are members of the same ethnic background."

Try telling minority patients, disproportionately represented on transplant waiting lists—largely for genetic reasons I would argue—that race is a "social construct."

Now the bad news. After honest discussion about varying racial predispositions to disease, most health care articles descend into obligatory diatribes about discrimination, bias, and needed government programs. It is ominously reminiscent of the quasi-Marxist race/gender/class deconstructionism that now goes on in English departments across the country after reading one of the Western classics.

One unfortunate article perfectly captured the danger of flouting racial genetic differences in the pursuit of social justice.

The authors actually proposed increasing overall morbidity in order to decrease the disparity in the allocation of kidney transplants between racial groups—itself a function of the fact that African-Americans and other minority groups are disproportionately prone to kidney disease. [And for a variety of reasons, less likely to be donors.] They suggested attempting fewer actual transplants in whites and accepting more organ rejections in minorities—because less compatible kidneys would have to be used—in order to equalize the statistical rate of transplantation.

This proposal would knowingly cause increased suffering, sickness, and even death. It is plainly unethical.

But the editors of the New England Journal of Medicine accepted and published this article! [Effect of Changing the Priority for HLA Matching on the Rates and Outcomes of Kidney Transplantation in Minority Groups]

It is astonishing to think that there are doctors out there who would be willing to deny their white patients kidney transplants in the interests of political correctness.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Louisiana-Mexico Drug Ring

Associated Press:

A ring suspected of moving more than $1 million in marijuana and cocaine from Mexico into southern Louisiana has been cracked with the federal indictments of 17 people.

Authorities said the charges, including drug distribution and money laundering, are the result of a three-year investigation.

The alleged ringleader, Pedro "Peter" Mendez Ramos, of Church Point, is in jail along with several of his relatives.

Mendez Ramos, who was arrested in the border town of Brownsville, Texas, faces charges of drug distribution, money laundering and operating a continuing criminal enterprise. Prosecutors have filed forfeiture claims against several members of the alleged ring, seeking to seize property purchased with drug proceeds.

15 drug ring suspects arrested in 3-state, 3-year investigation

Operation Fowl Play

3 suspects still wanted in million-dollar drug sting

Illegal aliens and the cost to hospitals and other providers of emergency health care

Jon Kyl:

The estimated annual cost to hospitals and other providers of emergency health care nationwide for illegal aliens is $1.45 billion. According to congressionally-commissioned research from the MTG Corporation, the annual cost to just the 24 counties along the border in Texas, New Mexico and California exceeds $200 million, and for Arizona's four border counties alone it's $32 million per year.

These unreimbursed costs, and other health-related issues, have put Arizona hospitals in a state of dire fiscal emergency. As a result, some have closed, or are in danger of having to close their emergency rooms and other services.

Copper Queen Hospital in Bisbee, for example, closed its ob/gyn department for several months because it had to provide labor and delivery services for illegal immigrants on an emergency basis and received no compensation. Maricopa County Hospital incurred uncompensated costs of over $1 million just to treat two burn victims.

U.S. Senator Jon Kyl Tells PHXnews About Technology and the Border

Illegal Aliens and the Cost to Arizona's Hospitals


Illegal Aliens Draining Our Healthcare System

Illegals With Criminal Past Often Not Prosecuted

$1 billion of your money for illegals...

Black, White, Hispanic and Asian-American voting patterns

Associated Press:

The Census Bureau reports that whites and blacks voted in the 2004 presidential elections at higher rates than they did four years earlier.

But that wasn't the case with Hispanics -- one of the most heavily courted groups of voters by the political parties.

The turnout for non-Hispanic white voters increased by five percentage points in 2004 to 67 percent, while the gain for black voters was three percentage points to 60 percent.

The voting rates did not change for Hispanics, who came in at 47 percent -- nor for Asian-Americans, who voted at a 44 percent rate.

The census report was based on the annual Current Population Survey of 60-thousand households.

The bureau estimates that 64 percent of U-S citizens over age 18 voted. The January report from the committee placed the 2004 turnout at almost 61 percent of those eligible to vote. That's the highest rate since 1968.

White, older voters rule in state

Utah voter turnout among U.S. highest

Turnout of blacks, whites said higher in '04 presidential vote

Census: 90% voted in general election

Census Details Voter Turnout for 2004

An illegal immigrant who was previously jailed and deported from Britain is facing prison again

Phil Hazlewood:

Harekrishna Maganbhai Patel headed an organised crime syndicate which conspired to smuggle Indian nationals who had entered Britain illegally into the United States.

The plot was uncovered by Britain’s National Crime Squad and the Immigration Service working with the US Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement division.

Detective Superintendent Adrian Wright, from the National Crime Squad, said: “Indian nationals, including children, who had previously entered the UK illegally, were being smuggled over to America.

“We identified 21 separate facilitations and officers arrested a number of illegal immigrants. But we believe the gang could have smuggled across hundreds more.”

The illegal immigrants, who were paying up to £10,000 each to the gang for successful entry into the US, had photo-substitute British passports and were flying out of London Heathrow and Gatwick airports.

A gang member travelling on a legitimate passport would escort them.

The investigation, which began in September 2003, focused on 36-year-old Patel, from Portland Road, Hove, East Sussex, and Mohammed Ayub Gajra, 41, of Howden Road, Leicester.

Both were jailed for five years in December 2000 for conspiring to facilitate illegal immigration.

Mr Wright said: “Harekrishna was deported to India in October 2002 but within a few months he had illegally re-entered the UK and continued his involvement in the lucrative business of illegal immigration.

“He re-established contact with Mohammed and they returned to their old ways.

“Escorts were recruited to assist the illegal immigrants with checking in, completing forms, answering questions if necessary and ensuring they successfully negotiated their way through American Immigration.”

The pair were arrested in June 2004 when more than 200 officers raided addresses across the country.

They later pleaded guilty to conspiracy to facilitate unlawful immigration into America.

I find it ironic that the British seem to be doing more to prevent illegal immigration into the United States than the Bush administration.

Dutch Muslims Encouraged to Vote on EU Constitution

Nasreddine Djebbi:

Boujoufi said the European Constitution guarantees the religious freedom and protects the social and cultural rights of the minorities

Leading Muslim activists in The Netherlands have encouraged fellow Dutch Muslims to make their voices hard in the July vote on the European Constitution, falling short of sponsoring a specific position.

"What is important is for Dutch Muslims to cast their ballot, rather than say "yes" or "no" to the European constitution," Dris Boujoufi, the deputy chairman of the council of Muslim representatives in the Netherlands, told IslamOnline.net.

"We need to get used to vote and do our duties as Dutch citizens," he asserted.

Boujoufi went on: "The European Constitution guarantees the freedom of worship and protects the social and cultural rights of the minorities."

He stressed, however, that they are not appealing to the Muslim minority to adopt a specific position.

"It is up to each Muslim to take such a decision to serve his own interest we are simply encouraging Dutch Muslims to vote," said the activist.

Less than one week before the referendum, polls show that Dutch voters who reject the European Constitution have the edge over those likely to vote "yes".

The nationwide referendum is consultative and non-binding, as the Dutch legislature will ultimately decide whether or not to ratify the proposed body of law.

The Netherlands is home to almost one million Muslims or six percent of the population.

The Netherlands chapter of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe , for its part, is not only encouraging Dutch Muslims to vote but also to say "yes" to the European Constitution.

"We go for the Muslim participation in the referendum and support for the constitution to overcome narrow-minded nationalism which negatively affects Muslims," Yahya Bouyafa, the chapter's chairman, told IOL.

"A unified Europe will better protect the interests of Muslims and assimilate ethnic groups," said Bouyafa, who hails from Moroccan origin.

Mustapha Arab, the director of the Arabic section of The Hague national library, also rallied for backing the European Constitution.

"Voting in favor of the constitution serves the interests of both Muslim minorities and foreigners."

The activist, who also has Moroccan origin, said the European Constitution will be a reference to judge the policies of European countries.

"We need an authority to resort to rein in rising xenophobia in Europe and the European constitution and parliament will be that authority."

So apparently Muslims believe that the EU constitution will be good for Muslims already living in Europe and for those who want to move there. Personally, I think that is just one more reason to vote against it.

"Eurarabia" and Freedom of Expression

A man involved in a ring that kidnapped illegal Mexican immigrants from smugglers and held them for ransom was convicted of federal charges

Associated Press:

Felipe Mendoza-Granades, 31, was convicted Thursday of conspiracy, hostage-taking and using a firearm in a crime of violence, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Four other defendants pleaded guilty to the same charges last month: Luis Aguilar-Ramirez, 30; Sergio Aguilar-Ramirez, 32; Juan Becerra-Perez, 22 and Daniel Montano-Perez, 33.

All five men were illegal immigrants from Tepeapulco, Mexico.

Scheduled to be sentenced in July, the men face a minimum of 32 years in prison. Mendoza-Granades could receive an additional 20 years in prison.

According to prosecutors, the men sent an accomplice to Mexico posing as an illegal immigrant who wanted to be smuggled into the United States. Once here, the accomplice would contact associates who showed up and demand to be taken to the smuggler's "drop houses" - locations where smugglers hold immigrants until someone, often friends or relatives, pays for bringing them across the border.

On Feb. 11, 2004, armed members of the kidnapping ring confronted smugglers in a parking lot of a supermarket and forced them to drive to their drop houses, prosecutors said. The ring members then beat the smugglers and abduct the immigrants, who were then held for ransom.

One of the defendants admitted to taking part in about 30 other kidnappings, court papers show.

Illegal Alien Gang Nailed for Hostage Taking and Weapons Violations

Muslims accused of taking over a "Meditation Room" at the University of Michigan-Flint

Shena Abercrombie:

A room for peaceful reflection and prayer at the University of Michigan-Flint has become anything but.

Instead, Room 386 at the University Center - known as the Meditation Room - is at the heart of a months-long religious dispute between Muslim and non-Muslim students.

The non-Muslims began complaining in November that Muslim students were monopolizing the room and filling the tiny space with religious paraphernalia and anti-Israel literature.

The Muslim students countered that they were being unfairly targeted and appealed to the university for religious tolerance.

"I do think that the current political climate does contribute to Islamophobia," said Bishr Aldabagh, a former UM-Flint Student Government Council president and student commencement speaker.

"The room serves the needs of students from different religions, but I do think that the reaction would have been different if the room was used predominantly by Christians or Jews."

UM-Flint student Zea Miller, 22 of Flint asked the university, in a written petition, to allow a more balanced use of the room, urging it to "whitewash" the walls and remove all religious items - a move that he said caused him to be stalked and harassed.

The university investigated Miller's claims about being harassed and said they were unfounded.

"There are people who feel offended and intimidated being in the Meditation Room or within the presence of artifacts representative of beliefs not their own," Miller said in his petition.

Miller said he was acting on his own, but others feel the same. Miller, a staff member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Center, doesn't belong to any of UM-Flint's four student religious organizations.

The walls of the room, about the size of a storage room, once held posters, Muslim Student Association awards and framed pictures. Prayer rugs and other books also were stored in the room. Muslim students use the space to perform religious practices, such as praying five times a day, as required by their faith.

"I took it upon myself to file the petition; I did this on behalf of others who were afraid to," Miller said. "It was not bigoted. I would have done this against any group who usurped the room. Now, at every move I'm being accused of anti-Muslim behavior. I am not anti-Muslim."

Some UM-Flint students appear unaware of the dispute or regard it as old news. But the other student religious groups weigh in on both sides.

"We don't have a problem sharing that room," said Tom Coy, a member of Students Defending Christian Principles. "(Miller) is using that as a basis for his own intolerance."

The Hillel Student Organization, a predominately Jewish group, issued an open letter supporting Miller's petition.

"The room is really important to us also, (and) we don't feel comfortable using it the way it is right now," said Katie Segal, 20, president of Hillel. "The inside and outside had a lot of anti-Zionist propaganda and pictures and paraphernalia."

Segal said one of her organization's members had discussed the matter with members of MSA.

"The MSA group had a lot of pro-Palestinian (literature) that I was not bothered by. It was the anti-Zionist stuff," Segal said.

"There were news articles, posters and pamphlets. It was a very unfriendly place, (so) we just walked away and went to a different room. I understand people who frequent the room need certain supplies to pray or meditate. I was in favor of the white washing."

Segal said the suggestion of "Islamophobia" simply was not true.

"I think they're going to use that as their cover," she said.

Meditation Room conflict takes new turn

Disquiet Over a Meditation Room

University of Michigan-Flint faces controversy with prayer room

Puerto Rican student wins $601,000 jury award

Dan Herbeck:

Carlos Bayon

In his lawsuit, Bayon accused members of the UB anthropology faculty of giving him low grades in 1997 to retaliate against him for filing a number of discrimination complaints against them. A native of Puerto Rico who walks slowly with a cane, Bayon said those low grades - a D and a C in two key courses - caused him to lose his financial assistance and forced him to leave graduate school at UB.

Ultimately, Judge John T. Elfvin dismissed the discrimination complaints based on race, nationality and disability, but he allowed Bayon's retaliation complaint to go to trial. The verdict was awarded in Elfvin's court May 5.

"The jury's award was for retaliation, not discrimination," said Bayon's court-appointed Buffalo attorney, Robert G. Scumaci. "When Carlos filed his discrimination complaint, his right to file a complaint was protected by federal law. The law protects him from retaliation."

A state attorney, Ann C. Williams, has asked Elfvin to overturn the verdict. In court papers, Williams said the only reason for Bayon's problems at UB was his own "poor academic performance."

Former UB student wins major settlement against university

Ex-Grad Student Awarded $601,000

Former UB students wins major settlement against university

Gang members held in racial beating

LA Times:

Seven known black gang members have been arrested on suspicion of beating and shouting racial slurs at two white men who had left the Compton courthouse, sheriff's officials said Tuesday.

The two, who are brothers, told deputies they were walking to their car Monday in a residential neighborhood when they were confronted by about 15 males shouting gang monikers and racial slurs, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. James Hellmold said. The brothers, ages 34 and 41, had cuts and bruises around their head, face and arms, and one said he was hit on the back of his head with a blunt instrument, Hellmold said.

7 held in alleged assault, possible hate crime

Army base plagued by illegal immigrants' intrusions

Jerry Seper:

Fort Huachuca, a 150-square-mile U.S. Army base in Arizona just 20 miles north of the Mexican border, is home to the country's premier military intelligence school and, despite the sensitive nature of its assignment, has become a popular corridor for illegal migrants headed to America.

Law-enforcement authorities and congressional investigators said the illegals — some in groups of up to 60 — routinely wander through base housing units, drink from hoses and pools, and trample through the yards of military families and other private areas en route to nearby highways, where they catch northbound rides.

Officially, 3,086 illegal aliens were detained by U.S. Army personnel on the base last year and turned over to the U.S. Border Patrol. Illegal immigration has been described by base officials as "a problem."

But a report written for the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus as part of an assessment of the Minuteman Project in Arizona last month called Fort Huachuca "surprisingly ... disturbingly, the most undermanned federal entity in the area in terms of being able to adequately meet the threat waves of illegal immigrants."

The 33-page report questioned who is responsible "for the integrity and security of a military installation and its personnel, when that installation and its sensitive mission and equipment are known to lie within a cross-border 'highway' of illegal movement."

I Thought I Did This Yesterday...

"Other than Mexicans"

Deported Mexican sex offender arrested in Texas


U.S. officials said Tuesday they arrested a man trying to re-enter the United States after being deported on a conviction for indecency with a child.

Jose Enrique Martinez of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, was arrested Monday at the Paso Del Norte crossing in El Paso, Customs and Border Protection officials said. He was being held Tuesday in the El Paso County jail awaiting prosecution.

Martinez claimed to be a U.S. citizen when questioned by U.S. customs officers, but he did not have any documentation to support his declaration, they said.

Customs officers found he had an extensive criminal history in the United States, including convictions for indecency with a child, attempted sexual assault, burglary, and assault on a public servant.

Manhattan man sentenced for raping, impregnating 10-year-old stepdaughter

Customs Agents Crack Down On Sex Offenders

Man living with girl faces assault charge

Parent identifies sex offender at school

Police Are Looking for Sex Offender

Black leaders present concerns to S.D. board

Maureen Magee:

Black civic leaders from across the city held a rally yesterday outside San Diego school district headquarters and urged the Board of Education to improve the education of their children.

Activists presented trustees with a list of demands to address low academic performance and the high rates of dropping out, suspensions and expulsions among black students.

"It's really going to take a massive movement to change things for our kids," said Shirley Weber, executive director of the Association of African American Educators and a former city school trustee.

Calling themselves the African American Education Coalition, the organizers – top officials from the local NAACP, the Urban League and other groups – want their concerns taken into consideration as the San Diego Unified School District searches for a new superintendent. Alan Bersin will step down from the post June 30 and the board hopes to find a successor before school starts in September.

The coalition pointed to statistics that show minority students are often failed by public schools.

Harvard University's Civil Rights Project recently released a report that puts California's high-school graduation rate at just over 70 percent, and shows that half of black, Latino and American Indian students fail to earn diplomas.

Black students also performed poorly on the High School Exit Exam administered to 10th-graders during the 2003-2004 academic year. Asians were the top performers, with an 80 percent pass rate, while whites had a pass rate of 74 percent. Lagging behind were Hispanics and blacks at 40 percent and 38 percent, respectively.

The school district also has a history of disciplining black students at a rate disproportionate to their population.

Trustee Shelia Jackson said the achievement gap between white students and black and other minority students is part of a broader, statewide problem.

Why is it that when black students underperform white students, it is the schools that get blamed? After all, if the schools were so bad wouldn't all of the students have gotten poor grades?

Honors program eliminated due to demands of Latino parents

Adam Klawonn:

An honors program beset by ethnic tensions and strained relations between parents and administrators at Lincoln Middle School is being eliminated.

After three months of public debate, trustees for Vista Unified voted 4-1 late Monday to eliminate the Gifted and Talented Education program, which supporters said promoted Lincoln's brightest students. School administrators, however, said the GATE program was closed to most students.

The board's decision will open honors classes that have GATE students to everyone.

School and district officials said putting GATE students in classes with those of mixed abilities would help improve test scores.

Many parents of Latino students and English-learners said they supported the change because their children would be forced to excel. However, some parents said the academic mix would diminish a gifted child's education by watering down class content and pace.

"My daughter's worth it," Robb Scheele, who led the pro-GATE side, said before Monday's meeting. "It's what I need to do to make sure she has the best education she can have."

Trustee Jim Gibson said he cast the lone dissenting vote because he wanted to leave the honors program as it is.

About 275 people crowded into Lincoln's gymnasium for the three-hour meeting. Those who opposed the change sat on one side of the half-court line; Latino families who wanted GATE opened to all students sat on the other.

Children of pro-GATE parents stood toward the front, waving signs that read, "Save honors." Their Latino counterparts, from the back of the room, displayed signs that read, "We want our voices to be heard now!"

There was a break in the meeting when someone pulled a fire alarm at 9:15 p.m. The debate resumed 10 minutes later.

"All of the students should have the (honors-class) opportunity," Juan Rojas told the board in Spanish. His son attends Lincoln but is not a GATE student.

VUSD OKs compromise on honors program

Dumbing down our students

Two-year-old Bangladeshi child acquitted of 'adultery'

BBC News:

The case is the second involving infants on serious charges this year The infants were bailed at $50 per child

A court in the northern Bangladeshi city of Bogra has acquitted a two-year-old child accused of adultery and theft, officials say.

The infant appeared in court on his mother's lap to seek bail.

Saiful Islam was accused along with six others in the case. The Magistrate expressed "surprise" at the charges, and immediately released him.

They also ordered the complainant in the case to explain why he was filing such charges against a toddler.

Magistrate Naveed Shafiullah also told local politician Yunus Ali - who launched a preliminary investigation into the case - to explain how the incident happened.

A report in the Daily Star newspaper said that the charges against the child and seven others were filed by Jahangir Alam on 9 February.

He alleged that Saiful Islam, other family members and his neighbours were all complicit in stealing gold ornaments and clothes worth between 3,000 Bangladeshi Taka ($47 ) and 13,000 Bangladeshi Taka ($204) from his house.

Mr Alam also alleged that the named parties lured away his wife, Mabia Khatun, to marry another man even though she was not properly divorced.

Mabia Khatun is Saiful Islam's sister-in-law.

The case is not the first in Bangladesh to involve infant children facing serious charges.

In March, Bangladesh's High Court stepped in to halt the trial of four infants - all members of an extended family - who were accused of looting and causing criminal damage.

Four police officers were suspended for negligence in the case and an inquiry was ordered.

The infants, aged between three months to two years, appeared in court in their parents' arms, and were bailed.

Correspondents say that case highlighted the widespread practice of harassing people by filing false complaints.

2yr boy charged with adultery, theft acquitted

Court halts 'baby looter' trial

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