Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Italian Catholics advised not to marry Muslims

Times Online:

The head of the Italy’s Roman Catholic episcopal conference has called on priests to advise Catholics against marrying Muslims.

Cultural differences over issues such as the role of women and the education of children made such partnerships very difficult, said Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Vicar General of Rome.

In a document released to the conference of bishops yesterday, Cardinal Ruini wrote: "The experience of recent years leads us as a general rule to advise against or in any case to discourage these marriages.

"Mixed Catholic and Muslim couples who intend to have a family have other difficulties above and beyond those experienced by other couples, when one considers cultural and religious diversity," wrote Cardinal Ruini, who is 74.

If a Catholic must marry a Muslim, Cardinal Ruini wrote, then it is best if the couple remain in Italy "or at least in the West, which offers better guarantees to the marriage (to the Catholic part in particular)... Otherwise the majority of cases go less well when the couple transfers to an Islamic country."

Cardinal Ruini expressed his concern at a growing number of mixed-faith marriages in Italy, which he called "intrinsically fragile". According to the Italian statistics office ISTAT, there were more than 19,000 such marriages in Italy last year.

According to Cardinal Ruini, among the "delicate problems" faced by Catholics who marry Muslims are differences over the role of women and questions of education.

Another reason for not marrying a Muslim is their tendency to turn their wives into suicide bombers.

Norwegian security police believe that several people linked to major terrorist networks use the country as a base between operations abroad


The Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) has other persons linked to the 2004 terrorist attack in Madrid and recent terrorism arrests in Italy under surveillance.

The PST believes that Norway is used by 'freelance' terrorists as a place to lie low and plan activities, newspaper VG reports.

By using false identities and convincing cover stories these persons can stay hidden in Norway for long periods, posing as asylum seekers, tourists, or by arranging unfounded family reunions.

The PST considers their major challenge to be the discovery and hindrance of efforts to make Norway a haven for financing or equipping terrorists.

VG quoted an anonymous security source as saying that the PST strives to keep on top of dangers to Europe that stem from Norway, but that the task was extremely difficult due to the large number of "potentially dangerous persons residing in Norway".

Norway's Terrorist Haven

Norway’s diplomatic role on behalf of terrorists

Ansar al-Islam spreads its wings

Pregnant woman stabbed to death

Illegal immigrants in Sweden are being denied access to potentially life-saving medical treatment, a new report from Medecins Sans Frontieres claims

The Local:

In a survey of 102 illegal immigrants in the Stockholm area, MSF found that eighty percent of those questioned said they were excluded from the healthcare system. Two thirds of those questioned said their mental and physical health had declined while living illegally in Sweden.

“We are aware that this result is not necessarily representative of all illegal immigrants in Sweden, but we think that the trend is clear,” said Matthias Ohlson, who conducted the survey, to TT.

"Many refugees encounter obstacles to getting medical treatment,” he added.

Ohlson gave the example of cancer patients who are denied life-saving treatment until they can make an advance payment. One such case involved a woman with cancer of the uterus who needed an operation and radiotherapy.

Other immigrants say that they have not been given treatment because they do not have a personal number. Twelve women in the study were pregnant, but got no access to antenatal care.

Sweden places more restrictions on healthcare provision for illegal immigrants than almost any other country in the European Union, according to MSF. Countries including Spain, France and Italy provide free emergency healthcare to all immigrants.

Which is probably one of the reasons why Spain, France and Italy are having so many problems with illegal immigrants.

Two of the Muslims jailed in an international terror investigation have been freed from prison

Copenhagen Post:

Two of the seven young Muslims charged with planning terror activities were released from custody on Tuesday, after a Brøndby court ordered them freed. Four suspects remain behind bars, while one has been transferred to a psychiatric ward, national broadcaster DR reported.

The police did not say why the couple, a Ugandan man and a Georgian woman, had been released, but the two appeared voluntarily for interrogation after the other arrests in late October.

The married couple lived in an apartment owned by the sister of one of the teenagers still held in the case and are still suspects, the police said.

The charges against them, however, remain to be announced, as the judge in the case decided to extend an order keeping details of the investigation sealed, given the on-going nature of the investigation.

Previous reports have revealed, however, that the primary suspects in the case, a group of young men of Middle Eastern descent, were arrested after police in Sarajevo discovered a cache of explosives and linked suspects there with the Danes.

A Turkish-Danish man and a Swedish citizen are under arrest in Sarajevo in the same case.

The court decided that the evidence against the five other suspects arrested in Denmark was strong enough to warrant them remaining in police custody until at least 21 December.

The men are, however, to be released from solitary confinement.

An appeal by prosecutor Henrik Holten-Rasmussen means that the four will continue to be held in isolation until the Supreme Court hands down its decision.

The Supreme Court will also decide whether the two suspects under the age of 18 must be transferred from an adult corrections facility to a juvenile institution.

The man being kept in a psychiatric institution is there at his own request. His mental condition pre-dates the current terror case, according to the court.

Bosnian police break up 'European terror cell’

Bosnia: Haven for Islamic radicals?

Denmark winds up at the bottom in a new European survey of benefit payments given to refugees to sustain themselves

Copenhagen Post:

A refugee in Denmark has much less to spend on clothes, food, telephone, transports, electricity, and heating than newly arrived refugees in the Netherlands, England, Germany, Sweden, and Italy.

Daily newspaper Politiken reported that the average refugee received DKK 1859 per month in Denmark, a little more than a third of what refugees receive in the Netherlands.

The Rockwool Foundation's Research Unit, which conducts studies on social issues, compiled information on how much refugees had to spend once they had paid taxes and rent from their benefit payments. The figures were adjusted to account for the countries' price levels.

Report author Torben Tranæs said he found the figures surprising.

'We were surprised to find out that the level is so low compared with other countries. We knew it was somewhat lower than regular social benefit payments, but not that low,' he said.

The introductory benefit payment allotted to newly arrived refugees since 1 July 2002 grants DKK 5527 per month to single newcomers during the first seven years after their arrival, considerably lower than in other EU countries. After the first seven years have passed, however, Denmark boasts one of the highest level of social benefit payments of all the countries in the study, second only to the Netherlands.

Experts in social studies warned that the reduced level of benefit payments to newcomers added to the risk of an immigrant black labour underclass forming in Denmark.

'People are more likely to find alternative ways to compensate, because the daily necessities do not come any cheaper if one's benefit payments are cut,' said sociologist Shahamak Rezaei at the Roskilde University.

Integration Minister Rikke Hvilshøj said, however, that it was almost impossible to compare social benefit payments between countries, as Danish municipalities granted additional payments for transport, children's clothing, and other costs.

Minister flees with family after home raid by anarchists

Almost half those suffering from HIV in Ireland are immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa

Ann Cahill:

Experts warn there is a resurgence of HIV in Europe with a 23% increase last year, much of it among young people. The figures, released ahead of World AIDS Day on Thursday, show a 69% increase in HIV in Britain, the largest in the EU, with 60% of cases coming from Africa. Of those diagnosed with HIV in Ireland, 43% now come from Africa.

Ireland now has 3,764 people diagnosed with HIV and 813 with AIDS, one of the lowest proportions in the EU. Last year three people died from AIDS.

But the figures, according to the United Nations, are grossly underestimated. They believe more than 2 million are living with HIV in Western Europe compared with official figures of less than 300,000.

One factor influencing the figures is the testing rates. Ireland has one of the lowest rates in Europe with only about half a percent of the population tested for the virus in 2000 compared with 9% in Austria.

The EU country with the biggest number proportionately of AIDS cases is Estonia, but it also has one of the most comprehensive testing rates.

Most HIV positive cases in Ireland are among the heterosexual population though this decreased last year while there was an increase in the number of intravenous drug users contracting the infection.

When it comes to full-blown AIDS over half the cases identified in Ireland are among Irish-born while 39.5% are from sub-Saharan Africa.

Of the 813 people living with AIDS in Ireland last year, the largest single group was drug users (295) followed by gay and bisexual men (273), while 151 were heterosexual and 29 were children who had been infected by their mothers before birth.

William Powderly, Professor of Medicine in UCD and consultant at the Mater said the continuing rise in the number of HIV cases is due to intravenous drug users and he also noted the increase in the number infected coming from sub-Saharan Africa.

'HIV still a problem in Ireland'

HIV Risk For US Blacks Still High

HIV cases pass 40-million mark

Conference hears warnings over HIV

Coming Soon From Your Friendly Federal Government: More HIV-Positive Immigrants

HIV Surveillance among Immigrants and Migrants: Lessons from the EU

HIV/AIDS Continues to Wreck Havoc in Sub-Saharan Africa

The Lessons of HIV/AIDS

The Future of AIDS

India's highways major HIV routes

Associated Press:

Zalisz Ahmed paid $1 and lost his virginity on the side of the road to one of India's countless young truck-stop prostitutes. He's had unprotected sex with many others since and says he's never heard of AIDS.

Ahmed, 20, is one of an estimated 5 million to 8 million truck drivers who supply the country with everything from apples to air conditioners along long-haul routes that have become deadly HIV highways.

The crowded ribbons crisscross the nation of more than 1 billion people and facilitate one of India's high-risk AIDS groups: men far from home who are always on the move.

Just as in Africa two decades ago, truckers and the sex they buy have helped fuel India's spread of a disease that revolves mainly around sex and injecting drugs. With an estimated 5.1 million people living with AIDS and the virus that causes it, India currently ranks just after South Africa in logging the world's highest number of infections. However, the number of Indian cases per capita remains relatively low, with an estimated 0.4 percent to 1.3 percent of adults infected so far.

Local truck stops, called dhabas, litter India's highways. They provide warm food and bodies for truckers with no questions asked. The prostitutes are poor and uneducated -- forced to sell themselves for pennies inside trucks, parking lots or even outside in the bushes. Negotiating condom use simply isn't an option for most who work alone instead of in more organized brothels.

Out of the 20-25 truckers tested each month at Babu Jagjivan Ram Memorial Hospital, near the Sanjay Gandhi truck depot in New Delhi, about one-fourth come back positive.

"They tell us they have many sex partners at red-light areas and then they have sex with their wives," said Nirmal Khatri, a counselor at the hospital whose job it is to inform patients of their HIV status. "We can't press them. It is their own decision. It is a problem -- it is a big problem."

The cycle is often vicious. Out of the handful of positive truckers who come back for follow-up visits, some report still having unprotected sex with prostitutes or sleeping with their unsuspecting wives who sometimes then become pregnant and pass the disease on to their babies.

Outreach workers have for years visited dhabas and depots. Safe sex messages are plastered across billboards and are handed out in brochures at these roadside venues-- they're even painted on the sides of cars that pass big rigs to remind drivers of the risks.

But the message isn't always loud -- or clear -- enough.

The government, trucking industry, unions and the drivers themselves must take responsibility to keep history from repeating itself in India, said S. Sundararaman, an AIDS consultant. He's devoted the past 15 years to working with truckers and has spent many long nights talking safe sex at dhabas that never close.

"In Africa, it was exactly the same because wherever the roads did not take people, the epidemic did not reach there," he said. "The epidemic is invading."

Sundararaman said Indian truckers can have anywhere from 40 to 400 sex partners a year, depending on how much time and money they have on their hands. India's growing economy is also pushing more traffic -- and disease -- into new areas, he said.

"The truckers actually have a very, very important and crucial role to play in containment," he said. "We have characterized them as a bridge population because they are bridging the population across geography."

No numbers are available for how many truckers may be infected, but in the northeastern state of Assam, a survey found one-quarter tested were HIV-positive, said Denis Broun, country coordinator for UNAIDS in India.

He added that fewer than 20 percent of truckers nationwide are getting prevention messages and condoms, and none of the nation's driving schools includes AIDS education in their curriculum.

But the men are being tempted everywhere by sex. Some dhabas use it as their top money maker, and long waits for paperwork between states also fuel boredom relieved by countless women who approach the trucks in parking lots, restaurants or anywhere else drivers congregate.

"The highways are very slow so people, when they start on long hauls, start on trips which are over a month," Broun said. "What we have found in some cases, the food was free (at the dhabas), provided they have sex."

Veteran trucker Satnam Singh, 55, has seen firsthand how the virus can ravage healthy drivers. He watched a father and son from his village die grueling deaths a few years back. They wasted away to skeletons without money for treatment. Their trucking company simply replaced them. For every trucker who falls ill, there's a pool of thousands waiting in line for the job.

"I've seen everything and I know it's worse than leprosy," Singh said in a loud, husky voice that's as rough as his face, worn from years on the road. "This is a family killer."

Singh, who used to fool around with prostitutes 25 years ago, says he frequently warns other truckers like young Ahmed that they're playing Russian roulette today by having unprotected sex at the dhabas.

But Ahmed, whose dark eyes shine beneath ruffled tufts of black hair, says he will continue running apples and bananas on the 15-day drive between the state of Bihar and New Delhi. Someday he will marry the woman he loves back in his home village in the state of Uttar Pradesh, but he has no plans to get tested for HIV and says he has nothing to worry about -- at least for now.

More Married Women In India Are Getting Infected By HIV

India's HIV cases higher than official numbers

The United States has condemned the arrests of 26 gay men during a raid on a party at a hotel in the United Arab Emirates

BBC News:

Washington also warned the UAE that any attempt to administer hormone or psychological treatment would break international law.

Police launched on Tuesday disciplinary proceedings against an officer who published photos taken during the raid, but did not respond to the criticism.

Homosexuality is illegal in the UAE.

Police arrested 22 UAE men, one Indian, and three Arabs from neighbouring states at a hotel in Ghantut in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, the Interior Ministry said on Saturday.

The authorities said 12 of the men had been dressed in women's clothes and make-up in preparation for a gay wedding.

A police spokesman said the foreigners were likely to be deported, while the Emirati men could be given hormone therapy if they consent.

The BBC's Gulf correspondent, Julia Wheeler, says there is a suggestion that agreeing to such treatment could be used as a bargaining tool for a reduction in an individual's sentence.

US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said his government condemned both the arrests and government-ordered hormone and psychological treatment.

"We call on the government of the United Arab Emirates to immediately stop any ordered hormone and psychological treatment and to comply with the standards of international law," he said.

In the UAE there have been a number of cases of arrests of homosexuals in recent years, and a nightclub in Dubai was closed down for allowing an openly gay night to be held on its premises, our correspondent says.

One religious scholar has now called on parents to be vigilant of what he called "deviant" behaviour in their children.

Dozens arrested at mass Emirates gay wedding

One in four British Columbia children are living in poverty

Jonathan Woodward:

The report, by anti-poverty group Campaign 2000, paints B.C. as the worst offender in a country where the gap between rich and poor families is growing and where children of aboriginals and recent immigrants are hardest hit.

Released yesterday for the first ministers conference in Kelowna, the report was timed for the anniversary of a 1989 unanimous vote by the House of Commons to eliminate child poverty by 2000, Campaign 2000 co-ordinator Laurel Rothman said.

Michael Goldberg, a B.C. advocate who worked on the report, said the government has to increase minimum wage, eliminate the controversial $6-an-hour training wage, and end restrictions on welfare rolls that he said have pushed people to low-paying jobs.

They were meant to get good jobs, but they didn't," he said. "And you didn't have that policy anywhere else in Canada."

B.C.'s child poverty rate, measured by the proportion of children living in households earning less than a regionally specific low-income cutoff, is more than double that of Prince Edward Island, which had the lowest poverty rate, at 11.3 per cent.

B.C.'s rate jumped from 20 per cent in 2001 to about 24 per cent in 2002 and 2003. In that time, the national average stayed stubbornly close to its current value, 17.6 per cent.

Nearly half of the children of recent immigrants are poor, said Ms. Rothman, while 40 per cent of aboriginal children and 33 per cent of children in visible minorities live in poverty.

That should make the federal Liberals think twice about a plan to boost immigration to 300,000 over the next five years, she said.

Child poverty levels in Canada constant

The Untied States of America?

Andres Oppenheimer:

Growing numbers of futurologists are forecasting that not only the United States but Mexico and several other Latin American countries are likely to split into smaller states in coming decades. The flag to which you are pledging allegiance today may not be your children's flag, they say.

Last year, Samuel Huntington, a world-renowned Harvard University political scientist, made headlines with a book called Who We Are, in which he warned with alarm that America's territorial integrity is being threatened by the country's growing Hispanic population.

Huntington's book argued that, unlike previous immigrants, Hispanics come from a poverty-ridden neighboring country, are entering the United States massively, concentrate in a few U.S. states, and are maintaining their native language.

Worst, he says, they come from a country that is still sore at having lost half its territory to the United States, and they "could assert a historical claim to U.S. territory." (If you wonder why I think all of this is Hispanic-phobic rubbish, I invite you to read my Feb. 26, 2004, column posted on; click on Today's Extras).

Now, a soon-to-be-published book by Juan Enriquez, a former Harvard professor turned genomics entrepreneur, makes a far more insightful case for the likelihood of new states -- or countries -- in the Americas.

His book, The Untied States of America, reminds us that, in 1950, the United Nations had 50 member countries. Today, the number has grown to 191.

And the trend seems to be toward more new countries. From 1900 to 1950 the world saw an average of 1.2 new countries a year; from 1950 to 1990 the rate grew to 2.2 new countries a year; and between 1990 and now, to 3.1 new nations a year.

"We have paid little attention to how many countries split and disappear because our own hemisphere has been remarkably stable," Enriquez says. "We have generated no true new borders on the American continent since 1910. But this stability may be coming to an end."

Countries, like marriages or corporations, often reach a breaking point, and split up or die. Most often, it is the richest regions -- not the poorest ones -- that seek to "untie" first. They feel they are giving more than they are getting from their current partnerships, and they want out, he says.

In the United States, rich states such as New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Minnesota are increasingly angry about giving more in taxes than they are getting back. Noting that most of these are "blue" [Democratic] states and are not part of the southern U.S. Bible Belt, he says their residents "have a lot more in common with Canadians than they do with those living in red [pro-Bush] states."

Rather than a Mexican takeover of southern U.S. states, we may see Hispanic populations in southern U.S. states and northern Mexico seeking "in-between states" a la Puerto Rico, perhaps -- if they feel alienated from their respective central governments, he says. Watch ongoing regional autonomy drives in Britain and Spain, he says.

In Mexico, Enriquez sees a possible breakup in four nations: the north ("NAFTA country"), Central Mexico (Mexico City and its surroundings), indigenous Mexico (Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca) and the new Maya (Yucatán, Campeche and Quintana Roo).

And it is very likely that these new Mexican states will be controlled by drug cartels.

Immigration puts pressure on southern schools

Gil Klein:

Sitting on the floor around teacher Angela Naggles, first and second graders watch intently as she prints words on her whiteboard and asks the children to read them.

Cat. Hat. Sat.

A boy does a good job and Naggles praises, “Muy bien.”

A visitor asks the class, “De dónde son?” (Where are you from?)

Mexico, pipes up one child. El Salvador. Honduras. Guatemala. Nicaragua. When Naggles proclaims, “Los Estados Unidos,” all the kids laugh.

Naggles, a Richmond, Va., native, is the fifth teacher added at Occoquan Elementary School in as many years to teach English-language learners. Nearly 200 of the school’s 535 students are not native English speakers, up from 42 five years ago.

Like many towns throughout the South, Occoquan, a distant Washington, D.C. suburb, is an immigrant magnet.

Most of these immigrants are from Mexico and Central America. The Hispanic population is growing faster in parts of the South than anywhere else in the United States, according to a recent report from the Pew Hispanic Center, “The New Latino South.”

Immigrants are showing up in places that had not experienced past immigration waves. They are arriving in cities, suburbs and rural areas alike. During the 1990s, Hispanics of school age in six states Pew studied – Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee – grew from 55,199 to 232,756, a 322 percent increase.

But that tells only part of the story.

Immigrants in the 1990s often were single men looking for work in construction, food processing, landscaping, and mills. Now, the report said, they are settling down, getting married and starting families.

Latino school enrollment in those states is projected to grow by 210 percent between 2001 and 2007 compared to 2 percent for non-Hispanic students. The study predicted that by 2007, Hispanic students will constitute 10 percent of the school-age population, compared to 4 percent in 2000.

The influx is putting pressure on schools to find teachers who can reach these students. At the same time, the federal No Child Left Behind Act requires that these English-language learners must make the same progress as native English speakers.

But the big influx is not limited to the six Southern states Pew studied.

For Prince William County schools, which include Occoquan, the number of students getting help with English jumped from 108 in 1987 to 9,996 this year -- doubling in the last three years. About 3,000 students spoke little or no English this September.

At Marumsco Hills Elementary School near Occoquan, principal Joanne Alvey doesn’t need a study to tell her that Virginia’s immigrant population more than doubled in the 1990s and is exploding.

She looks out the school’s front door at the neighborhood of typical suburban homes built in the 1960s and 1970s. Investors often buy them and rent them to three families of immigrants where one Anglo family used to live, she said.

“I live close to here so I am in the middle of the revolution,” said Alvey, whose school averages an additional 20 students with limited English proficiency each year. A little more than a decade ago, immigrants were hardly a factor at Marumsco, she said. Now nearly two out of three of the school’s 450 students need language help.

“It’s a revolving door,” she said. “Some leave and more come in. We get a lot of brand new kids throughout the year. We get kids who have never seen their names in print, never seen letters and numbers, never held a crayon.”

Mercedes Landón, a native of Nicaragua who settled in Occoquan three years ago with her husband who works in construction and their two children, a nine-year-old boy and 11-year-old girl.

While she says her children are getting is good education, Landón herself knows only a smattering of English words.

“There aren’t enough bilingual staff members who can translate. That’s the real barrier,” she said in Spanish. “Sometimes there are things (my children) don’t understand in class, and sometimes we have no idea how to help, and I ask, ‘How can my children do their homework?’ ”

Occoquan Elementary offers once-a-week night classes to involve immigrant parents in the school. But the Landón family is moving on. The rents are cheaper in Baltimore.

To meet No Child Left Behind requirements, schools must show “adequate yearly progress” for English-language learners, just as they do for other groups – whites, blacks, Hispanics, and special education students. The law requires testing every year from third through eighth grades.

English-language learners take all the tests. Only immigrants who have just arrived are exempted once from the regular reading test, said Kathleen Leos, the Education Department’s director of English language acquisition. The next year they have to take the same test as the other students.

“We have two goals,” Leos said. “All children must learn English and they should achieve at the same high academic level set by the state for all students.”

Many educators praise the No Child rule for forcing schools to pay attention to English-language learners. But some question whether the law is realistic in the long run because new immigrants are arriving daily.

Leos said the Education Department soon may be modifying the rules for recent arrivals to give them more time to learn English before they take the regular tests.

At Marumsco, the staff was “demoralized” when the school was cited two years ago because only 51 percent of the English-language learners passed the reading test, principal Alvey said.

She added more Spanish-speaking staff. She worked more with the immigrant parents so they could help their children. The next year 84 percent passed the test.

“We insist that the students learn,” she said. “There’s not a question about not doing your homework. You have been out of school because you were homeless for two weeks? Let me help you catch up. Grades don’t mean a hoot to these kids, but pleasing their teacher is important and that’s what we do.”

Qualifying to be an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) teacher requires advanced training beyond a bachelor’s degree. Education schools at are scrambling to catch up.

“We have more emphasis on language and culture study,” said Education Dean Thomas James at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who added three professors to focus on immigrant education. “We are looking at a program of intensive language study for educators. But we have not yet taken that step.”

Speaking another language is not required to become a certified ESOL teacher. While most immigrants are Hispanic, speaking Spanish does not help with the polyglot of languages arriving in Southern schools.

“We have a Bengali speaker, a Chinese speaker, a Farsi speaker,” said Kari Wilson an ESOL teacher at Occoquan. “You need to teach children from any background.”

But how do these teachers begin to reach these students?

Wilson uses a monkey puppet to break the ice.

“Charades,” said Sarah Baatz, another Occoquan ESOL teacher. “A lot of pictures. You build their vocabulary at first and then work on phrases. The kids learn from other kids.”

For teachers like Angela Naggles and her ESOL colleagues at Occoquan, job security is not a problem. More children of immigrants are expected to show up, many after the Christmas holidays.

And that means Occoquan Elementary will soon be looking to add its sixth ESOL teacher.

And as more and more of these ESOL teachers are added to the payroll there will be less money available for other educational activities.

Latino gang targets African-Americans for murder

Jim Kouri:

A federal grand jury returned an indictment that adds a fifth gang member to an indictment that had previously charged four others in connection with a six-year conspiracy to assault and murder African-Americans in the Highland Park area of Los Angeles.

Porfirio Avila was named in a conspiracy charge that alleges numerous violent assaults against African-Americans, including murders that took place in 1999 and in 2000. The indictment alleges that Avila was the driver of a vehicle that carried the shooter who fatally shot Christopher Bowser on December 11, 2000.

Four of Avila's fellow gang members were previously indicted in August 2004 and are also named in the new indictment. The four previously indicted were allegedly directly involved in the murder of Kenneth Kurry Wilson, an African-American man gunned down in Highland Park on April 18, 1999.

Avila, 31, is currently serving two life sentences in state prison for the murder of Christopher Bowser and another African-American man.

The indictment charges that the five defendants, all members of the Avenues street gang, conspired with each other and with other gang members to violate the civil rights of African-Americans in the gang's neighborhood by attacking and sometimes killing the victims.

The conspiracy charge alleges that the defendants attacked numerous African-American residents of Highland Park and murdered Kenneth Kurry Wilson in 1999 and Christopher Bowser the next year. The second count of the indictment alleges that the four defendants who participated in Wilson's murder did so because Wilson was African-American and because he was using the public streets of Los Angeles. The final count of the indictment charges the same four defendants with using a firearm during the commission of a conspiracy and hate crimes.

How Highland Park’s Latino gang targets African-Americans


On average, 9 out of 10 black and Latino students graduate without a Regents diploma

Art McFarland:

Students at the Eagle Academy in the Bronx, an all boys public high school, say they all want regents diplomas.

A diploma endorsed by New York State Regents requires a score of at least 65 on a series of Regents exams.

Statistics show that black and Hispanic students have very little chance of earning a regents diploma. The problem was discussed at a hearing today of the city council's education committee.

Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz called the problem a civil rights issue.

Regents diplomas for the class of 2004 show African Americans got the diplomas at a rate of 9.4 percent, Latinos at 9.8 percent, while 36 percent of white students got regents', as did 37.5 percent of Asian students.

Some students say Regents diplomas make it easier to get into college.

Department of Education officials testified their reforms are chipping away at the so-called achievement gap for Regents diplomas.

Michele Cahill of the Department of Education, says they are working hard to change the numbers of Regents for minorities.

Everyone agrees that improving the numbers will take much more work.

Eagle Academy Principal, David Banks, says adults need to be more involved in planning and executing successful strategies.

The Department of Education points out the curriculum requirements for a so-called "local" diploma are the same as those for the Regents diploma.

But test scores for the "local" can be 10 points lower.

All state standards are expected to be raised over the next three years, so getting any diploma will become more difficult.

Critics: School System Failing Blacks, Latinos

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

France will tighten immigration controls in response to riots


French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin announced tightened controls on immigration Tuesday as part of his government's response to the nation's worst civil unrest in four decades.

Authorities will better enforce requirements that immigrants seeking 10-year residency permits or French citizenship must master the French language and integrate into society, Villepin said.

France also will implement a stricter screening process for foreign students and plans to crack down on fraudulent marriages that some immigrants use to obtain residency, he said.

Both Villepin and Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, his rival, have announced law-and-order measures since rioting broke out this month in depressed suburbs where many immigrants live.

The two men - members of President Jacques Chirac's conservative party - are expected to vie for the presidency in 2007. Both want to appear firm in response to the violence and France's broader problems absorbing immigrants.

The roughly 50,000 foreign students who come to France each year to study now will be screened by French officials in their home countries, Villepin said.

"We want to channel our efforts to receive the best students, the most motivated, those who have a high-level study project," he said.

Marriages celebrated abroad between French people and foreigners should no longer be automatically recognized in France, Villepin said. A measure requiring consulates to screen a couple before a foreign spouse is granted French identity papers will be brought before Parliament in the first half of 2006, he said.

"It's not an attempt to undermine the right to marry, but to check that all the conditions for a true marriage are in place," Villepin said.

Marriage is the largest source of legal immigration to France: about 34,000 French people married foreigners from beyond the European Union last year.

The government also will propose a law next year requiring legal immigrants who want to move their families to France to wait at least two years before they can apply, an increase from the current one year.

So-called family reunions are the second biggest source of legal immigration to France, affecting about 25,000 people in 2004.

Villepin also said the government should better enforce a law outlawing polygamy. There are 8,000-15,000 polygamous families in France, according to official figures.

Some French officials cited polygamy as one reason that youths from underprivileged immigrant households joined the rioting - saying large polygamous families caused behavioral problems and difficulty integrating into French society. Outraged opposition politicians and human rights groups warned against fanning racism and anti-Muslim sentiment.

The violence broke out Oct. 27 near Paris and spread throughout France. While promising to ease unemployment for youths and fight racial discrimination, the conservative government also promised tighter controls.

Villepin told parliament that the number of illegal immigrants sent back to their home countries has more than doubled over the past three years, with France on target to deport more than 20,000 people in 2005.

De Villepin interview: Full text

A Belgian woman who married a radical Muslim and converted to Islam after her marriage carried out a suicide bomb attack in Iraq


It is the first time that a European has been confirmed as a suicide bomber, various Francophone news reports revealed on Tuesday.

Western intelligence services have been informed about the woman's actions.

According to anti-terrorism experts, more and more women are becoming involved in terrorist operations. However, a new phenomenon is the involvement of foreign women.

In the past 25 years, about 10 percent of suicide attacks have been carried out by women, newspaper 'Le Soir' reported.

The attacks were exclusively carried out by women from the Middle East or South-East Asia, but now western women are starting to carry out suicide bombings.

Hat tip, Giraldus Cambrensis!

Dual Allegiance: A Challenge to Immigration Reform and Patriotic Assimilation

John Fonte:

When immigrants become American citizens they take a solemn oath to "absolutely and entirely renounce" all previous political allegiances. They transfer their loyalty from the "old country" to the United States. Dual allegiance violates this oath.

Dual allegiance is incompatible with the moral basis of American constitutional democracy because 1) Dual allegiance challenges our core foundation as a civic nation (built on political loyalty) by promoting an ethnic and racial basis for allegiance and, thus, subverts our "nation of (assimilated) immigrants" ethic; and 2) Dual allegiance violates the core American principle of equality of citizenship.

The Founders, along with Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Louis Brandeis, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Felix Frankfurter, and Newt Gingrich, among others, have all affirmed that undivided political loyalty to the United States should be an absolute condition for citizenship.

Mexican government policies today directly challenge the patriotic assimilation of immigrants, just as Italian government policies did in the past. What is different is that, in the past, the American government and elites opposed dual allegiance and insisted upon patriotic assimilation. Today, they are mute.

In 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court in Afroyim v. Rusk, by a vote of 5-4, overturned 200 years of traditional American practice toward dual allegiance. Nevertheless, there is plenty of effective action that Congress could take within current Supreme Court interpretations.

Given that almost all immigrants come from countries that permit dual citizenship, and given that Congress is currently examining immigration proposals that would result in a massive increase in the number of potential dual citizens, it is time to ask: Do we continue to permit the rapid increase in dual allegiance, which will happen by default if no Congressional action is taken, or do we begin to act to reject dual allegiance in principle and restrict it in practice?

Congress should exercise its undisputed authority in this arena and prohibit certain acts (e.g., voting in a foreign election) that indicate dual allegiance. The purpose of such legislation would not be to punish people who have acted in good faith in the past, but to establish clear rules for the future in order to discourage and restrict dual allegiance. Such legislation would affirm the principles and norms that underlie our constitutional heritage and proud tradition of patriotically assimilating immigrants.

Dual Allegiance Harms Immigration Reform and Patriotic Assimilation

Immigration and American Identity

Weigh Anchor! Enforce the Citizenship Clause

The Disappearing U.S.-Mexico Border

Did Black Muslims kidnap a liquor store owner?

Guy Ashley:

The owner of an Oakland liquor store destroyed by an arson fire Monday morning was kidnapped shortly before the fire and held for several hours against his will, police said.

Tony Hamdan, owner of New York Market in West Oakland, was found Monday afternoon in the trunk of a car in an El Cerrito parking lot, police said. Investigators provided no other details on the kidnapping this morning.

Police continue to probe the early morning fire, which gutted the corner liquor store on Market Street, and say they still have no established links between the blaze and two incidents last week in which the market and another store nearby were trashed by vandals.

Both the New York Market and San Pablo Market and Liquor, several blocks away, were targeted late Wednesday by a group of about 10 vandals who rampaged through the stores wielding pipes.

Glass cooler doors were smashed at both stores, which are owned by Muslims of Middle Eastern descent, and dozens of liquor bottles were knocked from store shelves, causing an estimated $15,000 damage in each store.

Police have been looking to see if the incidents are tied to Black Muslim groups because surveillance video showed the vandals were wearing suits, white shirts and bow ties, attire commonly associated with such groups. Black Muslims commonly forbid the consumption of alcohol.

Police said Monday they have concluded that the vandals were not affiliated with the Nation of Islam, the 75-year-old black religious group led by Minister Louis Farrakhan.

Deputy police Chief Howard Jordan said Monday that police are investigating the possibility that people affiliated with another Black Muslim group could be responsible.

One such group prominent in West Oakland is that affiliated with the late Yusuf Bey, founder of the Your Black Muslim Bakery chain. The group's male followers, including men who sell bean pies and other baked goods on Oakland streets, also wear suits and bow ties.

In 1993, employees of a Bey-owned laundry in North Richmond were implicated in the vandalism of a store in North Richmond, in which food and liquor were knocked off store shelves. One of the laundry employees was arrested in the ransacking, which caused about $1,500 in damage.

In an interview at the time, Bey said his group was angered by gatherings of people outside the North Richmond store who apparently sold drugs. Bey died of colon cancer in 2003.

Problems with loitering and drugs have been associated with liquor stores in Oakland, leading to the shutdown of two stores in the West Oakland areas. But City Councilwoman Nancy Nadel said Monday that the two stores targeted this week were not known as hot spots for loitering and drug activity.

A person who answered the telephone at the Your Black Muslim Bakery headquarters Monday declined comment on the liquor store incidents.

Oakland grocers set to fight vandals

Race Questions Rise From Flames

Muslims Ransack Oakland Stores

Oakland liquor stores under siege

African Americans Have More Negative View of Islam than Whites

African girls forced to marry to pay off debts

Sharon LaFraniere:

Uness Nyambi, now about 17, was betrothed as a child so her parents could finance her brother's choice of a bride and now has two children and a husband around 70

Mapendo Simbeye's problems began early last year when the barren hills along Malawi's northern border with Tanzania rejected his attempts to grow even cassava, the hardiest crop of all. So to feed his wife and five children, he said, he went to his neighbor, Anderson Kalabo, and asked for a loan. Mr. Kalabo gave him 2,000 kwacha, about $16. The family was fed.

But that created another problem: how could Mr. Simbeye, a penniless farmer, repay Mr. Kalabo?

The answer would shock most outsiders, but in sub-Saharan Africa's rural patriarchies, it is deeply ingrained custom. Mr. Simbeye sent his 11-year-old daughter, Mwaka, a shy first grader, down one mangy hillside and up the next to Mr. Kalabo's hut. There she became a servant to his first wife, and, she said, Mr. Kalabo's new bed partner.

Now 12, Mwaka said her parents never told her she was meant to be the second wife of a man roughly three decades her senior. "They said I had to chase birds from the rice garden," she said, studying the ground outside her mud-brick house. "I didn't know anything about marriage."

Mwaka ran away, and her parents took her back after six months. But a week's journey through Malawi's dry and mountainous north suggests that her escape is the exception. In remote lands like this, where boys are valued far more than girls, older men prize young wives, fathers covet dowries and mothers are powerless to intervene, many African girls like Mwaka must leap straight from childhood to marriage at a word from their fathers.

Sometimes that word comes years before they reach puberty.

The consequences of these forced marriages are staggering: adolescence and schooling cut short; early pregnancies and hazardous births; adulthood often condemned to subservience. The list has grown to include exposure to H.I.V. at an age when girls do not grasp the risks of AIDS.

Increasingly educators, health officials and even legislators discourage or even forbid these marriages. In Ethiopia, for example, where studies show that in a third of the states girls marry under the age of 15, one state took action in April. Officials said they had annulled as underage the marriages of 56 girls ages 12 to 15, and filed charges against parents of half the girls for forcing them into the unions.

Yet child marriages remain entrenched in rural pockets throughout sub-Saharan Africa, from Ghana to Kenya to Zambia, according to Unicef. Studies show that the average age of marriage in this region remains among the world's lowest, and the percentage of adolescent mothers the world's highest.

Many rural African communities, steeped in centuries of belief that girls occupy society's lower rungs, are inured to disapproval by the outside world.

"There is a lot of talk, but the value of the girl child is still low," said Seodi White, Malawi's coordinator for the Women in Law in Southern Africa Research Trust. "Society still clings to the education of the boy, and sees the girl as a trading tool. In the north, girls as early as 10 are being traded off for the family to gain. After that, the women become owned and powerless in their husbands' villages."

In villages throughout northern Malawi, girls are often married at or before puberty to whomever their fathers choose, sometimes to husbands as much as half a century older. Many of those same girls later choose lifelong misery over divorce because custom decrees that children in patriarchal tribes belong to the father.

Hat tip, Randall Parker!

Former South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma has declined to comment on allegations of rape, after earlier indicating he would make a statement

BBC News:

His lawyer said he would not comment before investigations were complete.

Mr Zuma was sacked as deputy president in June, and charged with corruption. He has denied the charges.

In the last two weeks he has come under pressure amid reports that police are investigating rape allegations, which he also denies.

Mr Zuma is still deputy leader of the governing ANC party, but there has been speculation that he could resign this post if rape charges are brought against him.

"We are advised that such investigations remain incomplete and that a further period is warranted in order to complete such investigation under the direction of the National Prosecuting Authority," lawyer Michael Hulley said in a statement on Tuesday.

Reports that Mr Zuma was under investigation for rape first emerged in the South African press more than two weeks ago, although no charge has yet been laid.

ANC Secretary General Kgalema Motlante said last week that the rape allegations were being "regarded very seriously by the ANC," but that the party would not act on allegations that were still being investigated.

Since then, the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party - both allies of the ANC - have denied that they ever backed Mr Zuma as a successor to President Thabo Mbeki.

As recently as early November, Cosatu and SACP supporters were prominent among the crowds that demonstrated in support of Mr Zuma when he appeared in the Durban Magistrate's Court on corruption charges.

However, the ANC Youth League, another organisation that has been vocal in its support of Mr Zuma, reaffirmed this position on Monday.

"Our view remains that we support Jacob Zuma for the presidency," Youth League president Fikile Mbalula said, but hinted that this position could be reviewed if Mr Zuma were to be prosecuted for rape.

Mr Zuma has a large following among ANC members, and the corruption case has caused the party its biggest internal crisis since it was elected to power in 1994.

The corruption charges stem from the trial of Mr Zuma's former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, who is appealing against a 15-year jail sentence for fraud and corruption.

ANC in turmoil as Zuma confirms rape probe

Zuma to step down as ANC deputy - report

Zuma's days numbered?

Marriages where both partners were born in the same country last 30% longer than marriages where the partners come from different countries

The Local:

The typical "new Swede" is a 27 year old woman who has moved to the country from Norway. And a third of all Swedish surnames end in 'son'.

These, and many more, fascinating nuggets of knowledge - some more useful than others - will be presented on Wednesday by Statistics Sweden in its report, Sweden's Population 2004.

The publication, which paints a numerically precise picture of Swedes, will be available on Wednesday morning, but the organisation has already released a sneak preview to whet the appetites of the country's stats lovers.

Sweden's population increased by 35,722 people in 2004, and the total broke the 9 million barrier for the first time.

Marriages which came to an end in 2004 had an average length of 13 years for couples where both partners were from the same country and just 10 years where the partners were born in different countries.

During the 20th century the proportion of the population under the age of 10 has fallen from 22% (1905) to 11% (2004).

For mothers living in Sweden, fertility is highest among those born in Africa, at 2.7 children per woman.

The average life expectancy for women was 82.7 years while for men it rose to 78.4 years in 2004.

An average Swede moves home eleven times in his or her lifetime.

The number of asylum seekers declined dramatically during 2004. In total, 23,161 people sought asylum in Sweden in 2004, a fall of 26% compared to the previous year.

Of Sweden's population of 9,011,392 people, 16% had a foreign background.

Every year around 1,600 people are adopted, of which two thirds are born abroad.

No Longer Just Nordic

Senior Malmö policeman charged over racist e-mails

Muslims rule major Swedish city

Fox News on Malmo, Sweden

Denmark is not receiving as many immigrants as it did before Anders Fogh Rasmussen's Liberal-Conservative government came to power in 2001

Copenhagen Post:

It is, however, giving them a better welcome than ever before, Immigration Minister Rikke Hvilshøj believes.

Since Rasmussen's government came to power and closed the door on many of the immgrants that had access before 2002, the number of annual residence permits granted to asylum seekers each year fell from 5156 in 2000 to 2447 in 2003. Residence permits for family reunification fell from 10,021 in 2000 to 4791 in 2003, according to national statistics office Statistics Denmark.

Hvilshøj, whose slight build and girlish voice belie her importance as the minister in charge of the government's most hotly contested policies, said there was no doubt in her mind that recent years' restrictions on immigrant influx to Denmark had proved positive.

'One of the things we have accepted is that the number of foreigners coming to the country makes a difference,' she said. 'There is a reverse correlation between how many come here and how well we can receive the foreigners that come here.'

Hvilshøj said she herself remembered how the country's towns and cities had fought to accommodate all the immigrants and refugees let into the country before the Liberal Party defeated the Social Democrats in the 2001 national election by announcing 'changing times'.

Backed by the immigration-adverse Danish People's Party, the government implemented stricter rules for who could receive residence permits, slashed social benefit payments to newcomers, and introduced ways to force rejected asylum seekers out of the country, depriving them of benefit payments and granting them only a box of bare necessities to sustain themselves.

'I often say that previously, we received many people, but we couldn't give them a good welcome. Now we can receive new citizens in style, and find a place for them in Danish society,' she said.

Hvilshøj said, however, that high unemployment rates and low education levels remained the biggest problem posed to Danish residents with foreign backgrounds. Only 46 percent of immigrants from third-world countries hold a job, compared with 73 percent of Danes. Sixty percent of youngsters with foreign backgrounds drop out of high school.

Hvilshøj said the government was pushing to get more foreign women to leave the sanctity of their homes and enter the Danish labour market. The best tools to increase immigrant labour participation included Danish language courses, increased economic advantages for work, and job training courses to help newcomers on the labour market qualify for the jobs on offer.

The responsibility, however, could not be placed on immigrants alone. Employers must also open their doors to foreign workers.

'The able and willing should not meet a closed door because they have a foreign-sounding name,' Hvilshøj said. 'We have seen a lot of that in the past, but I think it has become a smaller problem than it used to be. We have talked with many companies that say they would like to hire workers with other ethnic backgrounds, but they never apply for vacancies.'

Hvilshøj added that with Denmark's current economic boom and low unemployment, the time was ripe for immigrants to seize the labour market.

Touching on a more sensitive subject than the matters of fact of the Danish economy, Hvilshøj said integration was also about convincing newcomers in the country to embrace Danish values. In some cases, they must discard cultural and political notions from the countries they left behind.

'In my view, Denmark should be a country with room for different cultures and religions,' she said. 'Some values, however, are more important than others. We refuse to question democracy, equal rights, or freedom of expression.'

After last months' debates about press freedom, sparked by a daily newspaper raising hell in the Muslim community by printing caricatures of the prophet Mohammed, Hvilshøj's comments came as a confirmation of the government's stance that the newspaper was free to provoke the anger of Muslims around the world. It was simply not the government's business.

Nevertheless, she found it difficult to answer whether the newspaper's taunting of Muslims contributed to a hateful tone towards immigrants in the country.

'Speaking for myself, I try to be careful how I say things,' she said. 'There have been comments in the Danish debate that I do not like at all. I don't think the tone has been growing more hostile towards immigrants. On the contrary. Compared with other European countries, we have come a long way. Talking about some things can be painful, but keeping our mouths shut doesn't solve any problems.'

Opposition demands investigation of immigration rules

A 19-year-old Somali has been charged with the murder of British police woman Sharon Beshenivsky


Yusuf Jama: seized in Birmingham

Yusuf Jama was also charged with robbery and firearms offences and will appear before magistrates in Leeds tomorrow.

Jama, 19, was one of a group of up to seven Somalis seized by police in a raid on a terrace house in the Saltley area of Birmingham on Saturday.

WPc Beshenivsky was gunned down in Bradford, West Yorkshire, on November 18 as she and a colleague responded to an armed raid at a travel agent in the city centre.

Man is charged with Pc's murder

Police hunt for prime suspects of PC shooting

City remembers WPC as police name suspects

WPC's gun murder: Suspect seized in sex-attack probe

Man wanted over WPC murder held in unrelated raid

The black victim class and abortion

Mychal Massie:

Mention that between 1882 and 1968, 3,446 blacks were lynched in the United States and the loud sucking noise you hear would be Jesse Jackson, Kweise Mfume, Barak Obama, D-Ill., and the Congressional Black Caucus taking a collective deep breath in preparation for their long-winded diatribe against America, in general, and conservatives, specifically.

The black victim class loves to display themselves dressed in vestiges of sorrow with lamentations of bitterness and resentment while cursing America. You will not however, hear nor see these same immiseration profiteers say one word about the 1,452 black unborn children who are murdered daily by abortionists.

They bemoan slavery, curse conservatives, blame the president, insist upon reparations and claim that tax cuts help only rich white Americans to the detriment of blacks; but as Rev. Clenard Childress Jr., director of the Life Education and Research Network points out: "With one-third of all abortions performed on black women, the abortion industry has received over $4 billion [as a gift] from the black community." To which I add, self-extermination being only the quid pro quo.

The CBC, accepting the challenge of how to give new meaning to the liliripes of the jester's hat they insist on wearing, blamed the president for Hurricane Katrina. Louis Farrakhan seeking to trump them charged the levees had been blown up to kill blacks.

However, they are noticeable only in their silence per even the most heinous acts of abortion savagery. lists the following from late civil-rights leader Erma Clardy Craven: "Several years ago, when 17,000 aborted babies were found in a dumpster outside a pathology laboratory in Los Angeles, California, some 12-15,000 were observed to be black." Does anyone recall Farrakhan and the CBC in front of the cameras attacking the abortion industry? Of course not.

Levitt's response to the Freakonomics abortion-cut-crime theory Scandal

The crisis of fatherlessness in Toronto's black community

Globe and Mail:

Who is doing the killing and who is being killed in the wave of reckless public violence that has struck Toronto? Black boys and young men with no fathers in their homes. Yet as politicians at all three levels and black community leaders scramble for answers to the anarchy, no one has dared talk about the crisis of fatherlessness in the black community.

The silence is inexcusable. Growing up without a father present is now the norm for many black children in Canada, particularly those of Jamaican ancestry. Nearly half of all black children under 14 in Canada have just one parent in the home, compared to slightly under one in five of Canadian children as a whole, census figures from 2001 show. Two in three Jamaican-Canadian children in Toronto are being raised by a single parent. The U.S. trend of "radical fatherlessness" -- in which the majority of children in an apartment building, on a street or in a neighbourhood lack fathers -- is hitting Toronto like a tsunami.

Other countries have begun to acknowledge that the widespread absence of fathers contributes to crushing rates of school failure, teen pregnancy and violence. In Britain, Trevor Phillips, the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, who is black, last month criticized the "almost casual acceptance" that most black children grow up fatherless. In the United States, black artists, thinkers and politicians as disparate as actor Bill Cosby, novelist Charles Johnson, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and Democratic Senator Barack Obama have urged black fathers to take responsibility for their children. They don't worry about giving offence, either.

"There are a lot of folks, a lot of brothers, walking around, and they look like men," Mr. Obama said in June, "and they're tall, and they've got whiskers -- they might even have sired a child. But it's not clear to me that they're full-grown men." Mr. Johnson, writing in The Wall Street Journal last month, said it "could not be more clear in 2005" that "without strong, self-sacrificing, frugal and industrious fathers as role models, our boys go astray, never learn how to be parents (or men), and perpetuate the dismal situation of single-parent homes run by tired and overworked black women. The black family as a survival unit fails, which leads to the ever-fragile community collapsing along with it."

Poor neighbourhoods in Toronto are crying out for involved fathers. The city's deputy police chief, Keith Forde, who is black, says that invariably when he speaks to predominantly black audiences, two or three mothers approach him to be a Big Brother to their sons. "Nothing hurts me more in all I do in policing than having to say no to these parents."

Girls' lives, too, are deeply harmed in fatherless communities. At least a decade ago, Mr. Forde heard from 13- and 14-year-old girls in Rexdale, a dangerous suburb of Toronto, that the boys were insisting: "If you want to be my girlfriend you have to get pregnant for me." Rexdale is where an 18-year-old man was shot and killed on the steps of a church during the funeral last week of his 17-year-old friend.

Some may argue that it takes a village to raise a child. But the truth is that the urban public-housing village is drenched in social toxins such as drugs, violence and poor role models. And in that toxic village, fatherless boys are left to themselves to determine what it means to be a man. Where do they look? To one another, and to those of influence in the public realm such as U.S. gangsta rapper Fifty Cent, himself a fatherless boy whose vision of masculinity glorifies lethal violence.

Funeral shooting becomes a study in fearful silence

No easy solutions

Police officer, Victor Diaz, kills ex-girlfriend in her own home

Daniela Altimari:

Victor Diaz

Ciara McDermott had no idea her estranged boyfriend, Victor Diaz, had slipped into her house while she was at work Monday afternoon.

McDermott, a Newington police officer, left work at 3:30 p.m., went home and sat down on her couch.

She turned on her laptop computer to check her e-mail at 4:15 p.m. Within a minute, she was dead. Police said Diaz, a suspended state trooper, shot her three times before eventually turning his .40-caliber Glock handgun on himself.

"She was surprised," West Hartford Police Chief James Strillacci said Wednesday at a press conference to brief reporters on the status of the investigation into the murder-suicide. "Ambush is a very good term."

Investigators are continuing to weave a narrative of the crime, using phone and computer records to devise a timeline.

Police said Diaz, 37, may have been inside McDermott's house for several hours before she arrived home. They do not know how he entered - there was no sign of forced entry. After he entered her home, Diaz got access to McDermott's e-mail using her laptop computer at 1:15 p.m., according to an examination of the computer evidence, Strillacci said.

A witness reported seeing Diaz's car at Wolcott Park, about a mile from McDermott's Ridgewood Road home, sometime between 12:30 and 1 p.m. Monday. Police believe he left his car at the park and made the 15-minute walk to her house in order to surprise her.

Diaz, who was serving a 60-day suspension after his arrest in March on drunken driving and other charges, had been making harassing phone calls to McDermott. He was also accused of asking a friend to use a state police database to look up the license plate of a car parked in McDermott's driveway. He learned that the car belonged to McDermott's new boyfriend, West Hartford police Officer James DeLuca.

Diaz had been scheduled to surrender to West Hartford police on Monday and was going to be the subject of an administrative investigation by state police.

Instead of turning himself in at the West Hartford police station, he went to McDermott's house, police said.

After shooting McDermott, Diaz called his attorney, Jeffrey Ment, at 4:21 p.m., using McDermott's phone. He left a voicemail saying his plans had changed. Sources said he may have made several other calls to friends and acquaintances as well.

Ment, who spent the afternoon in court, retrieved the message at 5:40 p.m. and, sensing danger, immediately dialed West Hartford police and the Troop H state police barracks in Hartford, where Diaz worked, and advised them to check on McDermott.

As Ment was calling, DeLuca was heading to McDermott's house. He found her slumped over the laptop.

Police later discovered Diaz's body in a room upstairs. He had shot himself in the head.

"Obviously there's no prosecution in this case. Somebody else is going to judge him," Strillacci said. "We still want to know what happened."

A Life Of Devotion Lost To All

Shock, Unanswered Questions

Change Of Plans

A Trooper's Rage

Diaz was arrested for DUI

Police: Diaz ambushed McDermott

A group called the Coalition for a Humanistic Euro-British Canada has publicly advocated limiting immigration to Europeans

CBC News:

The group bought a full-page ad in the Windsor Star on Friday.

Canada should only take in European immigrants who are willing to learn English and adopt British culture, the ad said.

"British culture needs to be promoted and enhanced" in Canada, it said.

Michael Chessman, founder of the coalition, doesn't deny his group has a racist slant.

"Everyone is a racist. And I'm saying do the right thing about it by making sure there's racial justice."

Some Windsor residents are asking why the newspaper printed the ad.

"I was reading it two three times before I totally understood it ... ," said Reza Shahbazi, the director of an immigration settlement agency. "Is this really happening?"

Mo Perrron, the Star's director of advertising, said there was no reason not to print the ad.

"We went over the content to make sure they weren't making any attacks against any one individual group. And they were simply making a policy statement for the organization."

Chessman said the Star was the only newspaper in the CanWest chain to print the ad.

Chessman wouldn't say how many members his coalition has.

Coalition for a Humanistic Euro British Canada

Canadian businesses welcome Mexicans

Thousands of elderly people, mostly women, are being accused of witchcraft and then murdered or maimed by vigilante groups in Tanzania

Oliver Duff:

They came for Lemi Ndaki in the night. "I was sleeping when I heard a noise," explains the 70-year-old Tanzanian grandmother. "Someone grabbed me and chopped off my arm with a machete. I think he came to chop my neck but I raised my hand and he only took my arm."

A neighbour responded to her crying and took her to the hospital in Mwanza, the nearest city, a three-hour drive away near Lake Victoria.

"They couldn't put my arm back on and the scar still hurts," she says. That is not surprising: the bone still pokes out below her elbow, 19 years later.

Other elderly women in her village, Mwamagigisi, have not been so lucky. Ng'wana Budodi was shot in the head with an arrow. Kabula Lubambe and Helena Mabula were stabbed to death. Ng'wana Ng'ombe was murdered with a machete, and when they set fire to her hut they killed her husband, Sami.

This is the fate awaiting thousands of old people, mostly women, accused of witchcraft. The killings are escalating and the Government does nothing.

A combination of poverty, ignorance and personal jealousies leaves fearful and frustrated peasants quick to blame any adverse act of fate - a dead child, a failed crop, an unfair inheritance settlement where a sibling receives all the land - on witchcraft. Throw into the pot some gossip and an often fatal bout of finger-pointing, and groups of professional vigilante killers move in to remove the "problem" for payment. Four cows or US$100 ($144) is said to be the going rate.

A leaked survey by the Ministry of Home Affairs said that as many as 5000 people had been lynched between 1994 and 1998, and a local police chief has said they are a daily occurrence.

The root cause is that village life is so hard, prompting neighbours and relatives into competition over resources that can spill into violence.

These are the most deprived parts of a country whose people have an annual income of US$330 and a life expectancy of 46. There is no electricity and no running water; home is a mud hut with a straw roof. Few roads are passable during the wet seasons and 60 per cent of villagers lack adequate sanitation facilities. Lion and leopard attacks are common.

HIV/Aids is rife and malaria, typhoid, polio and dysentery kill many children before they reach 5 years old.

The witchcraft problems are exacerbated by a motley crew of "witch doctors" which attribute undiagnosed illnesses to witchcraft, and - for a price - direct their vengeful clients to the accused sorcerer.

It is the elderly, particularly those whose families have died and so have no protection, who bear the brunt of people's frustrations and anger.

Back in Mwamagigisi, the "nfumu" (diviner), Gamawishi Shija, said that people needed to know if they had been bewitched by a neighbour so that they could "stop the problem".

Sitting on the ground between four spears, the 44-year-old Maasai said that she derived her authority and magical powers from her ancestors, who were healers. "When you have a disease which is unknown you can see that it is witchcraft," she said.

Many murders go unreported because villagers cover up the killings to avoid police attention. Corruption and a lack of law-enforcement resources only add to the problem.

"The Government is condoning the killing," said Scolastica Jullu, executive director of the Women Legal Aid Centre in Dar es Salaam. "Except for cases of rape of older women, I don't find anyone taken to court for this."

The Government wipes its hands and says that with so few resources it can do little more than encourage NGOs interested in the problem.

"This is an evil, repugnant practice, a repulsive tradition," said the district commissioner for Magu, Elias Maaragu. "But if old people have no children to protect them, it is not like the [West] where you house them together and give them an allowance. That is a faraway dream for us.

"We have so many things to do: build roads, control malaria, fight HIV/Aids and dysentery, build hospitals, take electricity and water to rural areas."

Central Africa witchcraft cops fight sorcery boom

Witchcraft Problem in South Africa

London Witchcraft Murder Traced to Africa Child Trade

Congo witch-hunt's child victims

Aid scheme tackles African witch myth

Honor killing brother jailed for life for hacking to death his sister's lover

BBC News:

Waseem Afsar and Nisar Khan were found guilty of murder

Ahmed Bashir, 21, was attacked with a sword and knife in the garden of his London home in 1996 after the relationship was discovered.

Waseem Afsar, 32, and Nisar Khan, 31, both of Slough, Berks, denied murder and attempted murder but were convicted at the Old Bailey.

Afsar and Khan were given life sentences with minimum terms of 18 years and 14 years respectively.

Afsar is already serving a life sentence for another murder committed before Mr Bashir's, the court heard.

The Recorder of London Judge Peter Beaumont said to Afsar: "You took a life in circumstances of extreme violence."

Detective Inspector Tariq Sarwar said: "This was murder in the name of so-called honour.

"This was a pre-planned vicious attack on Ahmed Bashir and his friend, purely on the grounds that Waseem Afsar disapproved of a relationship Bashir had had with his sister.

"This type of violence cannot be tolerated. There can be no honour in killing and people who commit these crimes are simply murderers."

Mr Bashir, of Cromwell Road, Hounslow, west London, was ambushed in the street by Afsar and Khan before being chased into his front garden and attacked with a scimitar sword and the knife.

He died after receiving 43 "significant and severe" stab wounds, mainly to his groin, according to Mr Brian Altman, prosecuting.

The Old Bailey heard Mr Bashir's 24-year-old friend Abdul Ebrahimkhail was also wounded when he tried to intervene, but survived the July attack.

Afsar had discovered that his sister Nighat had been in a relationship with Afghan-born Mr Bashir, who was refusing to give her back her car, said Mr Altman.

He forced her to reveal the affair, pressurising her to go to Pakistan, where she had earlier been forced into an arranged marriage - and then threatened to kill her, the court heard.

Mr Altman said: "He warned her that he was going to find Mr Bashir and cut his legs off so he could never walk again."

Brother guilty in 'honour' death

Pair convicted after stabbing man 43 times in ‘honour killing’

Pakistani sets Moroccan teenager on fire for refusing to marry him

Henry Samuel:

The family and friends of an 18-year-old girl, doused with petrol and set alight in broad daylight by the man she refused to marry, led a silent march through a Parisian suburb yesterday.

Chahrazad Belayni is currently fighting for her life in intensive care after suffering severe burns on 60 per cent of her body. She is being kept in an artificial coma.

On the morning of Nov 13, the Moroccan teenager was attacked while walking near her home in Neuilly-sur-Marne in the north eastern Seine-Saint-Denis suburb.

She knew her assailant. He was a former workmate of Pakistani origin who was angry about her refusal to marry him. The man and a suspected accomplice are on the run.

"This man asked her to marry him three times. He didn't understand her refusals and wouldn't leave her alone," said Sonia, a classmate. "Chahrazad was a beautiful young girl, very soignée and coquettish. He hurt her more than most by physically damaging her."

Several hundred people marched to the town hall yesterday behind a smiling portrait of Chahrazad and a banner calling for "justice, liberty, respect".

"We are here to denounce this horrible act," said the girl's brother, Abdelaziz, who criticised the lack of public outcry following the attack.

"We are here, not to call for revenge but that justice is done. We are here to denounce all violence against women: women must be able to say No or Yes"

The march was co-organised by Ni Putes ni Soumises (Neither Whores, nor Submissive), an association that tackles growing violence against women, mainly in France's suburbs.

"We are here to tell Chahrazad's parents that they are not alone in this fight. It is not just a family problem. It is a problem for the whole of France," said Fadela Amara, founding president of the organisation.

On Saturday, the group held another silent march in memory of Nadia, allegedly killed by her husband in the south western Parisian suburb of Val d'Oise a year ago. Her body has not been found.

Ni Putes ni Soumises has more than 6,000 members and 60 local committees campaigning against the repression of girls in largely Muslim housing estates, where the choice is either to adhere to strict clothing and behavioural codes or be considered to have loose morals. Yesterday's march was, it said, a "tribute to all the victims of machismo".

Ms Amara said the organisation was overwhelmed by calls for help from women suffering from violence or forced marriages, and asked the government to give more concrete help, notably through campaigns in schools.

The French minister for social cohesion and sexual equality, Catherine Vautrin, described the attack on Chahrazad as a "horrible illustration" of male violence against women, which claimed the lives of 163 women in France in 2003 and 2004.

Silent march follows fire attack on teenager

Samira Bellil

Sohanne Benziane

The French riots were never about social justice

Paul Belien:

The riots that began on Oct. 27 in Clichy-sous-Bois lasted for days, grew ever more violent, and spread throughout France, until the whole world noticed. It is easy to understand why the “youths” in the suburbs turned so violent when Sarkozy tried to establish law and order there. The “youths” have held sway there, unchallenged, for decades. If they allow the French authorities to reassert their authority, they lose their own power base. Unlike the Western intellectuals, they realize that everything boils down to the question of who wields power over a specific territory. The police and the gangs fight over whose laws will apply in the neighborhood: the laws of the French Republic or the laws of Eurabia.

As Dyab Abou Jahjah, the young and charismatic Brussels-based leader of the European Arab League, has said, “We believe in a multicultural society as a social and political model where different cultures coexist with equal rights under the law. We do not want to assimilate and we do not want to be stuck somewhere in the middle. We want to foster our own identity and culture. Assimilation is cultural rape. It means renouncing your identity, becoming like the others.” For Jahjah, Europe does not belong to the Europeans, it belongs to the Arabs as well: “I don’t believe in a host country. We are at home here and whatever we consider our culture to be also belongs to our chosen country.”

It is likely that Sarkozy did not realize what was really at stake when he declared “total war” in order to recapture the suburbs for the French Republic. However, for the Muslim radicals—invariably described in the media as “youths”—it is quite literally a war. The French government is reneging on the 1975 Strasbourg Resolution. If multiculturalism is impossible except as different cultures “coexisting” on neighboring but different territories, the attempt of the French Republic to reconquer the suburbs is a strike at the heart of the culture of the immigrant “youths,” an attempt to deprive them of their country. It is cultural rape, it is forcing them to become like the others, namely secularized Europeans.

Sarkozy, who deployed only policemen in his war, was unable to prevail because he did not have the weapons to win a territorial conflict. After two days of rioting, police officers warned that they did not have the means to win what they (correctly) described as a “civil war.” The riots spread to the whole of France. Dozens of schools, shops, and factories were set ablaze and thousands of cars and buses. Molotov cocktails were thrown into buses while the passengers were still on them. The police were shot at.

Moreover, Sarkozy’s enemies in the government did not want the interior minister to win the battle for the suburbs, which would make him immensely popular with ordinary Frenchmen. Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, who is Sarkozy’s main rival for the presidential elections in 2007, blamed the latter for having incited the “disturbances” with his inflammatory rhetoric which was said to have “provoked the youths.”

While the battle for the suburbs went on, political bickering paralyzed the government. Jacques Chirac, the corrupt center-right president of France, who in 2002 won the elections in the second round from the far-right Jean-Marie Le Pen, distrusts Sarkozy. Chirac sees Villepin, an aristocrat appointee who has never held an elected office, as his crown prince. The president and the prime minister refused to crack down on the “youths” in the suburbs. They favor a policy of “dialogue” and “appeasement.” The latter constitutes not only an appeasement of the radical Muslims and the thugs in society but also of one’s own mind. Indeed, it is more convenient to think that the cause of the riots is plain thuggishness resulting from discrimination on the job market.

The poor natives who live in the immigrants’ neighborhoods know better, however. They know that the generals of Eurabia, the leaders of the “youths,” drive BMWs and Mercedes (which no-one dares to set alight), and that they use mobile phones and PCs to instruct their highly mobile troops. The war in France is not about social injustice, but about territory.

National Suicide

Le Pen’s Revenge

French patience won't last forever

Improving the economic structure of Muslim countries


Monday, November 28, 2005

Former Death Row Inmate Arrested On Drug Charges In Caseyville

Jeff Small:

Verneal Jimerson

He was on death row for murder then exonerated nearly a decade later. Now a Chicago man is back behind bars after a crime in the metro east. Caseyville, Illinois, police say they had no idea a man they arrested on Thanksgiving had such an unusual past along with a stash of drugs.

A caller said drugs were being used in a third floor room. This call led Caseyville police to a Motel 6 and a man who was once the subject of a nationwide controversy.

Police were soon knocking on the door when Verneal Jimerson answered. Officers reportedly found marijuana and crack cocaine packaged to sell. There was also a loaded .38 caliber handgun.

Verneal Jimerson and his wife Angela were arrested following the incident. It wasn't until later police discovered the husband's unusual past. He was the subject of national headlines about his freedom from prison in 1996. Verneal Jimerson was freed after spending nearly a decade waiting to die by electric chair.

In 1985, Jimerson and three men were convicted of murdering a Chicago couple in 1978. Charges against the four were dropped after an independent investigation by The Innocence Project, a group of Chicago students and professors. The group found numerous flaws in the murder and rape case. A witness also recanted her testimony against the four.

In 1996, Cook County, Illinois authorites settled a $36 million dollar lawsuit with Verneal Jimerson and the three men originally accused of the 1978 murder.

It isn't clear what Jimerson was doing in Caseyville but police say his latest arrest could send him back to prison.

Jimerson is being held on a $250,000 bond.

Former Death Row Inmate Facing Drug, Weapons Charges

Verneal Jimerson

Police and prosecutorial misconduct put Verneal Jimerson on death row

The countries of Europe are witnessing an unprecedented decline in birthrates

David R. Sands:

In the cradle of Western civilization, the cradles are empty. From the Atlantic to the Urals, in good and bad economies, in Protestant and Catholic societies, the countries of Europe are witnessing an unprecedented decline in birthrates.

This "baby bust," analysts warn, will affect economic growth, social-welfare programs, patterns of immigration and Europe's ability to pull its weight diplomatically, culturally and militarily in the 21st century.

In 1900, according to U.N. estimates, one out of four human beings on the planet -- 24.7 percent -- lived in Europe.

Today, the European population share is a little more than 10 percent. By 2025 -- with the average woman in the European Union bearing just 1.48 children in her lifetime -- the ratio of Europeans to everyone else is projected to be less than one in 14 -- 7 percent.

The dearth of babies, coupled with longer life spans for today's elderly, "have major implications for our prosperity, living standards and relations between the generations," according to a "green paper" on demographic change issued by the European Commission earlier this year.

With fewer younger workers in Europe supporting more older pensioners, the immediate worry has been the fate of generous welfare and social protection systems across the continent.

But "the issues are much broader than older workers and pension reform," said Vladimir Spidla, EU social affairs commissioner.

"This development will affect almost every aspect of our lives, for example the way businesses operate and work is being organized, our urban planning, the design of [apartments], public transport, voting behavior and the infrastructure of shopping possibilities in our cities.

"All age groups will be affected as people live longer and enjoy better health, the birthrate falls and our work force shrinks. It is time to act now," he said.

The way to deal with the problem of declining birthrates in Europe is for Europeans to abandon the socialist idea that the government has a responsibility to take care of them in their old age. People traditionally had large families so that their children could take care of them when they got old. Once the government took on the role of providing for the elderly, people felt that they no longer needed to have large families. If the various European governments anounced that they would no longer be taking care of elderly Europeans, you would see a dramatic rise in European birthrates as people realized that they would now be dependent on their children in their old age.

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