Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Immigration authorities have deported a gang figure who came to Canada 17 years ago as a refugee and promptly embarked on a life of crime and violence

Stewart Bell:

Jeyaseelam Thuraisingam was the leader of the Seelapu gang, one of several Sri Lankan Tamil street gangs that Toronto police and Canada Immigration have been working to dismantle since 2001.

He was deported to Sri Lanka last Monday, the same day his final court appeal was thrown out. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) had determined he was a danger to the public.

"CBSA's diligence in this case has been rewarded," said Anna Pape, spokeswoman for the agency, which has been trying to deport Thuraisingam since he was first convicted of criminal offences in 1997.

Known on the street as Seelapu, Thuraisingam came to Canada in 1989 and was granted refugee status. The following year, he became a permanent resident, but he later joined a ruthless Tamil gang and was repeatedly arrested.

His gang was the Scarborough wing of the VVT, which immigration authorities described as ''a group of military-trained terrorists from Sri Lanka'' who help raise money for the Tamil Tigers.

During the 1990s, the VVT and its affiliates were engaged in a long-running turf war with a rival Tamil gang called AK Kannan that caused the deaths of at least three bystanders.

A joint investigation called Project 1050 resulted in the arrests of dozens of Tamil gang members in October, 2001. Since then, many have been deported to Sri Lanka for immigration violations.

Thuraisingam's refugee lawyers had claimed he could not be deported because Canadian police had publicly linked him to the VVT and Tamil Tigers terrorists, and he would therefore be mistreated by the Sri Lankan authorities.

A Federal Court judge initially agreed and halted his deportation in 2004, but on Dec. 8, he was again deemed a danger to the public and on Jan. 23, the courts cleared the way for his removal. Immigration officials wasted no time, putting him on a plane to his homeland that same day.

"We succeeded in establishing that any potential risks to this individual upon deportation are far outweighed by the danger he presents to Canadians," Ms. Pape said.

This month, the Immigration and Refugee Board upheld the deportation of another Tamil gang member, Kaileshan Thanabalasingham. In its decision, the panel said more than 100 Sri Lankans had already been sent back to their homeland and none had been mistreated as their lawyers had claimed they would be.

During the federal election campaign, the Conservatives promised to add the Tamil Tigers to Canada's list of outlawed terrorist groups and to clear up the backlog of unexecuted deportation orders, starting with those involved in crime and terrorism.

Canada deports Tamil underworld leader

Toronto Gang Leaders Facing Deportation

Tamil gangs dispense their own justice

Ontario police arrest 40 in gangland raids


Tamils preying on Tamils

Is Islamophobia on the rise in Europe?

Stefan Nicola:

Danish cartoons enrage the Arab world, a German immigrant test singles out Muslims and opposition grows to admit Turkey and its 70 million Muslims into the European Union -- a ghost is haunting Europe, the ghost of Islamophobia.

At least that's what Islamic organizations across the continent say. Does Europe face a clash of cultures?

In Denmark, round one seems to have already started. The Arab world has reacted with outrage to a series of caricatures depicting the Prophet Mohammad, published last September by Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. The 12 drawings were reprinted in a Norwegian paper this month, including an image of Mohammad wearing a turban shaped like a bomb. Depicting images of Mohammad is considered a sin in Islam.

Several Arab governments (including Egypt, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia) have called on the Danish government to apologize, but in Copenhagen, officials argue they won't apologize for a newspaper because that would interfere with the country's free-press rules. But in a TV interview, Danish premier Anders Fogh Rasmussen distanced himself from the drawings: "I would never publicize pictures of Jesus or Mohammad that might offend other people."

Although the newspaper on Monday issued an apology for having offended Muslims throughout the world, the conflict between Denmark and the Arab world is ever-mounting: Arab countries have ordered home their Danish ambassadors, Danish products are being boycotted in several Muslim-dominated countries, and Danish and Norwegian flags are being burned on sidewalks all over the Middle East.

On Monday, a group of armed Palestinians stormed a European Union office in the Gaza strip, a day after al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades distributed flyers urging Scandinavians to leave the area within 72 hours.

Right-wing Danish lawmakers have apparently decided to hit back, with racist propaganda there making it into the media daily.

"All countries in the West are infiltrated by Muslims. They are nice to us while they wait until they are enough to kill us," said Mogens Camre, a MEP from the right-wing Danish People's Party, or DVP.

Ake Sander, one of Sweden's leading experts on religion and Islam at Gothenburg University in Sweden, Tuesday told United Press International via telephone that the cartoon affair was not the tip of an iceberg, but rather an isolated incident.

"Islamophobia has undoubtedly risen in Denmark, not so much in the rest of Scandinavia, however," he said. "But there are countries in Europe where Islamophobia has measurably increased, such as Austria and Great Britain."

Sander, alongside several colleagues throughout Europe, conducted a European Commission-sponsored study on Islam-related fears in 25 European nations, which will be released next month.

Islam is already the EU's second-most popular religion, and it could one day claim the top spot if the Western European affinity to atheism continues, and Turkey and its 70 million Muslims join the bloc.

But an ever-growing opposition to that move has settled in nearly all Western European countries, including generally pro-European nations such as Germany and the Netherlands.

"A lot of people still equate Islam with terrorism," Sander said, adding the recent bombings in Madrid and London have taken the conflict from the United States to Europe. Imams that preach hate do exist, but they are in a small minority, he said.

The fear of anyone wearing a hijab, combined with the problems of integration suffered by a number of Muslims in Europe, has led to a spat in Germany over one state's immigration test.

The conservative state government of Baden-Wuerttemberg has decided to single out Muslims trying for a German passport for tougher questioning to find out if they really mean business when they sign an oath to the constitution. Questions touch on sensitive topics including homosexuality, domestic violence, promiscuity and equality of the sexes.

They range from: "Imagine that your adult son comes to you and says he is homosexual and plans to live with another man. How do you react?" and "Your daughter or sister comes home and says she has been sexually abused. What do you do?" to "What do you think if a man in Germany is married to two women at the same time?"

Muslim organizations in Germany have reacted with outrage. Earlier this week, 12 of them issued a joint statement condemning the new method.

"The fact that only Muslims have to take this test implies that the commitment to Islam could mean a threat to security and it thus clearly segregates Muslims. It also encourages prejudices about Islam, massively violates the private sphere and the freedom of speech and opinion of the people questioned," it read.

The German state has so far refused to take back the new policy, arguing the application of the test would be expanded to include all immigrants whose true intentions are doubtful.

Muslims are increasingly self-confident when it comes to addressing such controversial issues and in recent years have reacted very strongly, Sander said.

"Now they are more often in the offensive after being in the defensive for many years."

In several European countries, integration of immigrants, often Muslims, is failing. Germany's Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said it was one of his top goals to better his country's integration efforts after witnessing the riots in neighboring France last fall.

Sander said several things need to improve to bring down Islamophobia and improve integration, including giving Muslims a chance to speak for their community.

"It's still very hard for them to make a career in politics, but they have to be given channels to voice their frustrations and grievances in the European society."

Bettering the socio-economic status of Muslims is another way to integrate them, albeit a tough task, he said.

"Unemployment among young people in Sweden is high, and young men and women with Muslim identities get cut first," he said. "I get papers written by an author with an Arab name and it doesn't get published. I'd put my name on it and it get published right away."

The whole problem with this "Islamophobia" stuff is that it suggests that it is not rational to be afraid of Muslims. Yet, Muslim immigrants and their descendants are causing all sorts of problems in the countries in which they have settled with Australia and France being just two that come to mind.

Fall in London faith hate crimes

Islamophobia myth

Islamophobia pervades UK - report

A fatal drunk driving wreck caused by an illegal immigrant has resulted in a backlash for Charlotte's Hispanic community


Noel Moreno was charged with involuntary manslaughter and driving while impaired after the wreck last Saturday on Beatties Ford Road. Immigration customs enforcement officials confirmed Friday Moreno was in the country illegally. Moreno's passenger, Roberto Casillia, died at the scene. Casillia was also an illegal immigrant.

The Latin American Coalition said Friday cases like this only hurt the way the community views latinos. "People are angry about our immigration system and rightfully so...it's broken and needs to be fixed," said the coalition's executive director, Jess George. "Unfortunately, a lot of people take the misunderstanding of immigration law and turn it into something that's akin to bigotry."

So being against illegal immigration is "akin to bigotry"?

Driver in fatal wreck charged with DWI

Police identify man killed in crash

A generation from now, non-Hispanic whites will make up less than 60% of the U.S. population, and by 2050 they will be just half

Bob Herbert:

Nine out of 10 American students now attend public schools. It is likely that within a decade, fewer than half of the public school students will be white.

The dramatic changes in public school enrollment will not be a result of white flight, according to a study by the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University: "It is because of a changing population structure created by differential birth rates and age structures and a largely nonwhite international flow of millions of immigrants. Since whites are older, marry at later ages, have smaller families and account for a small fraction of immigrants, these changes are almost certain to continue."

So, what's happening with the black and Latino students who already account for more than a third of the public school population, and who should be expected to play an increasingly important role in shaping American society?

Not much that is good.

When Bob Dylan first came on the scene, it was possible for a young man or woman with energy and a dream and a high school diploma (or less) to actually build a decent life. That's pretty much over.

We are in a time when a college education is a virtual prerequisite for achieving or maintaining a middle-class lifestyle. "Only the kids who get a post-secondary education are even keeping even in terms of income in their lives, and so forth," said Gary Orfield, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and director of the Civil Rights Project. "The rest are falling behind, year by year. Only about a twelfth of the Latino kids and maybe a sixth of the black kids are getting college degrees. The rest of them aren't getting ready for anything that's going to have much of a future in the American economy."

One of the weirder things occurring in American education is the disappearance of kids - especially black and Hispanic kids - from high school. The San Antonio Express-News, reporting last March on a study by a local research association, said that "more than a third of Texas high school freshman students are disappearing from the system or otherwise failing to obtain a high school diploma in four years."

The Los Angeles Times, for a feature article that same month, interviewed Nancy Meza, a 17-year-old who had quickly made friends with dozens of classmates when she arrived at the Boyle Heights campus of Roosevelt High School. Four years later, as her senior class gathered for its graduation photo, only four of her friends were there. Nearly all of the others had dropped out.

This is an underrecognized, underreported crisis in American life. Far from preparing kids for college, big-city high schools in neighborhoods with large numbers of poor, black, and Latino youngsters are just hemorrhaging students. The kids are vanishing into a wilderness of ignorance. If the dropout rate were somehow reversed in a city like Los Angeles, there wouldn't be enough schools to accommodate the kids.

"The high dropout rate has been built into the regular order of school facilities in our big cities," said Orfield. "They expect that the classes will just shrivel as the kids go through the grades."

Nationally, just two-thirds of all students, and only half of all blacks and Latinos, who enter ninth grade actually graduate with regular diplomas four years later.

Youngsters who drop out of high school are much less likely to be regularly employed, or to escape poverty, even if they work full time. They are less likely to be married and less likely to have a decent home and a decent school for their kids. Their chances of ending up in prison, especially for the African-American and Latino boys, are much higher.

Back to Basics: Why Does High School Fail So Many?

WASL remains a must to graduate

WASL tests the state as well as students

A drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis from Mexico is worrying U.S. health officials


Many Mexicans are using potent, readily available drugs such as telithromycin to treat TB, but they are not meant for the disease. That fact, along with short-term and inconsistent medicine use creates a drug-resistant variety of the life-threatening illness that could spread, the Brownsville Herald reported.

"In my opinion, the growth of this (drug resistance) could be considered an epidemic situation," said Eduardo Olivarez, chief administrative officer for the Hidalgo County, Texas, Health Department.

Tuberculosis, a potentially fatal bacterial disease usually affecting the lungs, poses a great public health risk because it is spread through coughing or sneezing.

Incidents of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, or MDR TB, still comprise a small portion of cases in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas near the Mexican border, but officials have noted an increase.

According to the Herald, in 2005, the county health department handled 101 new cases of TB, a 25-percent increase from 2004.

With MDR-TB, a patient's immune system does not respond to basic antibiotics rifampin and isoniazid.

The costs to the state are staggering. While a standard TB patient costs some $2,800 for about six to nine months of treatment, an MDR-TB treatment runs about $250,000 for two years, said Charles Wallace, manager of the state's infectious disease, intervention and control branch.

With a budget of about $800,000 to treat TB, the increase in cases will cripple the county's ability to handle the disease, according to Olivarez.

One family in the Rio Grande Valley with nine members afflicted with MDR-TB recently cost the state $4 million over a three-year period, including drugs and multiple hospitalizations.

Cynthia Tafolla, director of Groups without Borders, a binational effort between Mexico and the United States to minimize TB cases and treat them in Mexico, told the Herald with "migration back and forth from Mexico to the United States, we definitely have to screen anyone who may come in contact with a case or someone who is a suspect."

Tafolla says that in the last few years, about 65 percent to 75 percent of the approximately 40 clients treated annually are multi-drug resistant.

Dr. Dave Griffith, the chief of TB services and medical director at the Center for Infectious Diseases in San Antonio, told the Brownsville paper new MDR-TB cases in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America have prompted drug companies to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into developing new drugs.

"But how close they are to general use is still problematic," he said.

Tuberculosis in the United States, 2004


Illegal aliens threaten U.S. medical system

Ian Blair and institutional racism in the British media

Rod Liddle:

Welcome back, Sir Ian Blair. We haven’t heard from you for a while. A week or two at least. It’s been far too long.

Blair’s job, as commissioner of the Metropolitan police and therefore Britain’s top copper, is not to catch criminals but instead to wander from television studio to radio studio making pronouncements so fatuous that you have to listen to them several times to be certain that you hadn’t dreamt them.

Last week he was on particularly good form and gave us two for the price of one. First, he confessed that he did not understand why the public got itself so worked up about the murder of the little girls, Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells, in Soham. Nasty crime, he admitted — but why, he asked, was it such a big story? Later, when normal people reacted the way they usually do to Blair’s contributions to the great debate — with incredulity or anger — he was forced to apologise. Let us examine his contention that the media overplayed Soham.

Soham transfixed the public because a number of factors collided. First, it was a horrible drama played out in real-time on television every evening: Holly and Jessica go missing; they’re seen or maybe not seen by villagers; the police comb every inch of ground; their parents make tearful pleas; suspects are fingered and questioned; Ian Huntley is arrested.

Second, the victims were cheerful and likable little girls, which, in the public mind, tends to make the crime all the more appalling. Third, sexual perversion appeared to be the main motive for their murders, which the rest of us felt was particularly repellent. Fourth, they were murdered by someone who worked in a school — which worried the hell out of the rest of us.

The final point — and by far the most important — was that Soham was a hideous singularity. All we can glean from the terrible events is that there are among us a very small number of extraordinarily depraved people. It was the singularity of the tragedy — like that of Fred and Rosemary West — that held us captive.

There were other factors, of course — the insular nature of the village, which made the story horribly compelling, and also the intimation of police incompetence. But that’s why it gripped us. It certainly wasn’t because Holly and Jessica were white rather than black.

Which brings us to Blair’s second, unregretted, point, that the media is “institutionally racist” in the way in which it reports crime and gives less coverage to black victims of crime. Blair is, as you will be aware, obsessed by racism. Whether he is obsessed because of a deep-seated psychological flaw or because it is advantageous in career terms, we may never know. But obsessed he is.

Blair is not merely wrong on this point, though, he is diametrically, 180 degrees wrong. No crime attracts more press or television attention than when the police have let it be known that a member of our ethnic minorities has been attacked for racist reasons. Compare, for example, the coverage given to the brutal murders of Anthony Walker, a black man killed by two white men with an axe in Liverpool, and, in the same week, Richard Whelan, a white man who was stabbed to death by a black man on a bus in London.

Walker’s murder was front-page news and the lead story on our television bulletins; Whelan’s murder — well, can you remember hearing about it at all? And then there’s Christopher Yates. Does his name ring a bell? I bet it doesn’t. In late 2004 he was killed by three Asian men who had beforehand laughed about killing a white man. Didn’t make much of a splash. If our media is institutionally racist, then it is institutionally racist the other way around.

Nor is it true to say that black-on-black crime goes unreported in the papers: the callous drive-by shootings in Birmingham of Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare was front-page news for days. Or is it the case that we care less, perhaps, about the deaths of black children? Nope. You remember the names of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells sure enough — but I bet you remember Damilola Taylor and Victoria Climbié too.

Blair should have a look at the things that go pretty much unreported, too. When newspapers mention the fact that there are disproportionate numbers of black and Asian people in our prisons, it is to highlight the institutionally racist nature of our criminal justice system rather than a greater propensity on the part of our ethnic minority communities to commit crime. This latter possibility is unmentionable.

I could be here all night — or, at least, until Blair’s next mind-boggling public pronouncement. His obsession harms us all, black and white. It is not enough simply to call it political correctness and thus write it off as the inevitable, almost Pavlovian, foible of an ambitious public servant. It is seriously deluded thinking and Blair is an extremely influential man. The danger is that our police become institutionally deluded as a result.

Police deny revolt against top cop

MPs demand Police Commissioner resigns

Clarke calls Sir Ian to 'showdown' talks

Can Ian Blair really not see what made Soham such a big story?

The crass insensitivity of Sir Ian Blair

More women and foreigners among homeless in Sweden

The Local:

The number of people who do not have a home is continuing to rise in Sweden. At least 17,800 people were homeless at the end of April last year and increasing numbers of women and immigrants are being affected, according to a survey by the National Board of Health and Welfare.

The number of homeless people in Sweden has increased by between 2,000 and 3,000 since 1999 when the last survey was carried out. Today there are homeless people in 86% of the country's municipal districts but the problem is greatest in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö.

Three quarters of the homeless people in Sweden are male and the majority were born in Sweden. However, people with a foreign background are over-represented in the figures: 26% of the country's homeless were born abroad, compared to 12% of the population as a whole.

"We have chosen a broader definition of homelessness to catch more groups who are lacking their own home, and so are also lacking the security and opportunities to maintain social relationships and a private live," said Anna Qvarlander, the project leader for Homelessness in Sweden.

Although the overall number of homeless people has climbed sharply, the number of people actually sleeping rough has not risen. However, the number who live in different kinds of hostels and shelters has increased from around 500 to 1,650.

The number of women has increased, and psychiatric problems are more common among homeless women than men.

Around 3,600 homeless people are in an "acute" situation, said the report. They sleep rough or live temporarily in hostels, women's refuges or camp sites.

The average age of Sweden's homeless population is 41 and one in three is a parent to a child under the age of 18.

Fox News on Malmo, Sweden

Muslims rule major Swedish city

Sweden's rising Muslim tide

Stockholm Suburb: "It's too Dangerous for Children here, Many are Wearing Bulletproof Vests"

Sweden, Rape and Responsible Speech

The same (but worse?) goes for Sweden

Arla Foods says its sales in the Middle East have plummeted to zero as a result of a row over cartoons published in Denmark

BBC News:

The firms said it had to lay off 100 people because of the fall in demand.

The row began when a Danish newspaper published a series of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, some of them depicting him as a terrorist.

Anger against Denmark is continuing to grow across the Middle East, despite an apology offered by the newspaper.

Arla Foods, one of Europe's biggest dairy companies, is being hardest hit by a boycott of Danish products across the region.

The company has annual sales of $480m there.

"Our sales in the Middle East have come to a complete stop - in all countries in the region," company spokeswoman Astrid Gade Niels told the BBC.

She said the row came as a shock to the company.

"We have found ourselves in the middle of a game that we have no part in.

"We have taken 40 years to build up a very big business in the Middle East, and we've seen it come to a complete stop in five days."

At the weekend, Arla placed adverts in Middle-Eastern newspapers to try to dissociate itself from the caricatures.

The cartoons sparked outrage in the Muslim world, where depictions of the Prophet Muhammad or Allah are banned.

On Monday the newspaper that published the caricatures, Jyllands-Posten, said: "These cartoons were not in violation of Danish law but have irrefutably offended many Muslims, and for that we apologise."

The Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, welcomed the apology - but again defended the freedom of the press.

"The Danish government cannot apologise on behalf of a Danish newspaper... Independent media are not edited by the government," he said.

Besides boycotts, the backlash has also included diplomatic sanctions and Islamic militant threats.

The Danish foreign ministry advised against non-essential travel to Saudi Arabia and urged Danes to be cautious in other Muslim countries.

"Danes who choose to stay in Saudi Arabia should show extraordinarily high watchfulness," it said on its website.

Saudi Arabia has recalled its ambassador to Denmark, while Libya said it was closing its embassy in Copenhagen.

On Monday masked gunmen briefly stormed the local office of the EU in Gaza, demanding apologies from Denmark and Norway, where a paper reprinted the cartoons.

Some sort of sorry

Danish imams relent on Muhammad cartoons

Apology Met With Anger Over Danish Cartoons

Arab press fury over Prophet cartoons

In Arab countries, rage growing over cartoons

Iran summons Danish envoy over Prophet cartoon

Threats by Militants Alarm Scandinavians

Norway Apologizes over Muhammad Cartoons


Three men accused of murdering Glasgow schoolboy Kriss Donald by stabbing him and setting him on fire have appeared at the High Court in Glasgow

BBC News:

Imran Shahid, 29, Mohammed Mushtaq, 27, and Zeeshan Shahid, 28, pleaded not guilty to the charge at a preliminary hearing before Lord MacPhail.

They deny abducting Kriss, 15, in Kenmure Street, Pollokshields, on 15 March 2004 by forcing him into a car.

The judge agreed to continue the case for another hearing in March.

It is alleged that Kriss was imprisoned in a car at knife point and tied up before being driven to Strathclyde Park near Motherwell, Dundee and Glasgow's east end.

The charge alleges Kriss was taken from the car, restrained by the arms and murdered by being repeatedly stabbed and set on fire with an accelerant which was said to have been poured over him.

Imran Shahid and Mr Mushtaq deny a string of other charges.

One claims they fled Scotland to Pakistan after the alleged murder.

Both deny shouting, swearing and uttering racial abuse at three people in Glasgow Sheriff Court on 6 October.

Imran Shahid further denies assaulting two detectives in the medical suite at London Road police office on 5 October last year and trying to pervert the course of justice by jumping on a blood sample.

Lord MacPhail was told by defence counsel for the three men that a substantial amount of preparation was required before the case could go to trial.

Kriss verdict 'warning to gangs'

Police arrest three suspects over killing of Kriss Donald

The trail of death

Extradition of Kriss Donald murder suspects stalled by demands for deal

Racist coward helped kidnap Kriss with evil gang


The first challenge to regulations which allow benefits to be cut off for failed asylum seekers with children has failed at the High Court in Britain

BBC News:

A Congolese woman had argued that cutting off support breached the Children Act and Human Rights Act.

But the judge, Mr Justice Bean, said it was for Parliament, not the courts, to decide if the policy was desirable.

Asylum seekers without means to support their children risk having them taken into care.

The mother-of-three bringing the case, known only as 'K', came to the UK in 2002 but had her benefits stopped last August after losing her case for asylum.

Appearing for the mother, barrister Stephen Knafler said the policy was putting children at risk of trafficking, sexual exploitation, illegal working and other abuse.

But Elisabeth Laing, appearing for the home secretary, said the scheme was "legitimate" and was designed to ensure a breach of human rights should not take place.

Refusing K permission to seek a judicial review, Mr Justice Bean said he did not consider it was arguable that the policy was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

The failure of the test case comes as charities claim failed asylum seeker families facing loss of benefits are going into hiding.

A Home Office scheme piloting the new powers has been taking place in three areas - central and east London, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire - and involved 116 families.

The Refugee Council and Refugee Action said 32 families have gone underground to avoid having their children taken into care if they fail to leave.

The Children's Society said it was aware of 35 families who had vanished rather than comply with removal orders.

When the trial of the new regulations began last January the Home Office said they were simply a method of persuading families who had exhausted their asylum appeals to leave voluntarily.

Ministers denied seeking to use the threat of children being taken into care as a way of enforcing removals.

A Home Office spokesman said: "The government is currently carrying out a pilot of the Section Nine policy and will undertake a detailed analysis.

"Section Nine only applies to failed asylum seeking families and is intended to act as an incentive to return voluntarily.

"It is not designed to make families destitute or split families up."

Charities condemn 'inhumane' asylum policy

Mother loses asylum legal challenge

All European Union workers to benefit from Irish childcare allowance

Lisbeth Kirk:

Ireland will be obliged under EU law to make an Early Childcare Allowance available to all EU citizens working in the country, as well as to children not living in Ireland, reports RTE, the Irish public service television and radio broadcaster.

The allowance was included in the budget in December and amounts to €1,000 per year for all children under six in order to help their parents manage the high cost of childcare in Ireland.

The news may be welcomed by the 166,000 workers from accession states working in Ireland. They can claim the child benefit for children living in their home country, where the benefit of €1,000 could be worth a fortune.

But the Irish opposition Fine Gail party said it was a ridiculous situation that Irish tax payers would be funding childcare for children not resident in Ireland.

The costs of the allowance scheme may also have been underestimated by as much as €150 million, according to Fine Gail.

Irish legislation on the issue will be finalised later this week. A ruling by the EU court gives employees working at least 12 hours per week the right to receive full social security in all EU member states.

Only Ireland, the UK and Sweden have accepted free movement of labour from new countries entering the EU bloc on 1 May 2004.

But the other 12 'old' EU countries will decide on whether to open up their labour markets as well before 1 May this year.

A recent Irish Times newspaper poll revealed that a large majority of the Irish think there are enough or too many foreign workers in the country and a similar majority (78%) wanted to reintroduce work permits for workers from new EU member states.

Childcare payment criticism 'not racist'

All EU workers to get childcare benefit

FG claims migrant child payment to cost €150m

Monday, January 30, 2006

Suspect: jury system unfair with fewer blacks in New Orleans area

Associated Press:

A suspect in a federal drug case failed to persuade a judge that the post-Katrina jury pool violates his rights because too many black people have left the region.

Mervin Spencer, 40, of New Orleans faces allegations that he twice sold crack cocaine to undercover state troopers in May 2004.

Spencer's attorney, John Craft, argued that the hurricane forced black people from the area, leaving disproportionate numbers of blacks on the registered voter rolls, the source for prospective jurors. The U.S. District Court draws jurors from 13 parishes, including Orleans and Jefferson.

Chief Judge Ginger Berrigan flatly dismissed the argument, which has arisen in several cases on the federal docket but had not yet been ruled upon by a judge. "Any underrepresentation, if it exists, was caused by natural disaster and not by any systematic flaw in the jury plan," Berrigan ruled in an order released Thursday.

Spencer, who is black, wanted the court to modify the jury selection system in light of the post-hurricane demographics, and order the jury commission to find the displaced people and arrange for anyone selected to come to New Orleans for jury duty.

"You're entitled to a jury that reflects the community you live in," said Craft, a federal public defender. "Members of the community are out of town but they're still members of the community. It's an obvious issue that has to be addressed."

Man says jury pool makeup unfair

Too many African-American leaders are pushing the very divisiveness they claim to abhor

Stephen Towe:

I have a penchant for writing about difficult things, because so many other people love to avoid the subject matter. As an American Caucasian male who has grown up in the most intense time of racial change our country has ever known, it’s time I write honestly about the most taboo of all subjects — racism. And man, has it ever changed since 1960.

I want to say that I am personally sorry that our Constitution and Bill of Rights were ignored regarding fair and equal treatment of African Americans for 185 years.

That action was inexcusable, but it is now a sad part of our past and not something to continue to dwell on. It is past time to move on.

AC-T local columnist Dwight Mullen, a political science professor at UNC Asheville, consistently continues to preach the politics of divisiveness that are a carbon copy of Jesse Jackson’s, Al Sharpton’s, and others front and center on the American stage of racial theatrics.

It is a never-ending soap opera designed to make all white folks feel guilty for sins we did not personally commit, punish college students with racial guilt to the extent that they feel the need to apologize for being born white, and capitalize on the same tired, broken and patently false theme of racial prejudice.

Mullen has caused me to lose my patience at long last with his column, “King holiday’s stature is a reminder of how elusive equality remains in America,” (AC-T, Jan. 8).

African-Americans have had 42 years since the integration of all public facilities to gain a foothold and begin to prosper within the American educational and economic system. It is not our fault that:

Forty-nine percent of prison inmates are African-American, when they comprise only 13 percent of the overall population.

One in three black males aged 20-29 is under criminal justice supervision.

One in 14 black males are in jail, compared to one in 100 white males.

A black male born in 1991 has a 29 percent chance of being imprisoned in his life, compared to 4 percent for whites and 16 percent for Hispanics (Bureau of Justice Statistics from 1996).

Indeed, blacks are five times more likely than whites to be in jail because they disproportionately commit more crimes, not because of a white conspiracy or racial prejudices.

When the politics of divisiveness and racism are accurately portrayed, it is the African-American leaders who insist on blaming whites for their problems that perpetuate racism and promote hostility, not the attitudes of whites.

The more African-American leaders play the blame game on whites, the less likely their constituents will wake up to the truthful realization that the moral virtues of hard work, education, sexual restraint and honoring our laws are the only tickets out of their self-imposed exile from the American dream.

Mullen’s column was about Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and in it he stated that equality in “health care, housing, employment, education and criminal justice are areas that continue to have worse outcomes for African-Americans than for whites.”

He goes on to state that “these areas are beyond the ability of the individual to single-handedly overcome,” and that King “thought that the institutions responsible for these areas should be held accountable for delivering racially just outcomes.”

No mention of personal accountability, no mention that what King actually said was, “I have a dream of a day when a man will be judged by the content of his character and not the color of his skin.”

No, Mullen and many like him want the institutions, “the hospitals, the Realtors, the banks, industries, schools and law enforcement agencies” to “deliver racially just outcomes.” He even suggests there be annual audits for performance. Meritorious behavior be damned — if you are black, you deserve equality of outcomes ... same pay, same benefits, same health care, and you don’t even have to work for it. According to this argument, whites owe equality of outcomes to blacks, regardless of their behavior or merit, simply because of their skin color.

That is not what King stood for, and Mullen’s belief in that lie is nothing but the reverse racism of privilege by skin color. African-American leaders do nothing but damage to their cause by such suggestions, causing the very divisiveness they claim to be opposed to. Truthfully, until this attitude of privilege by skin color is erased from the African-American mentality, they are doomed to failure and despair in a nation that celebrates and rewards achievement earned by hard work and efficiency, and not by skin color. The recent incredible success of the Asian and Latino populations of America are ample testament to that reality.

The moment anyone feels they “deserve” something they have not earned, they doom themselves to resentment, anger and a self-defeating psychology of privilege. It is unfortunate that prominent and influential leaders who should know better still cling to this defeatist psychology, which only alienates their partners and reinforces the racism they claim to despise.

Mapping The Unmentionable: Race And Crime

My Black Crime Problem, and Ours

Why is human hair and eye color so diverse in northern and eastern Europe?

Peter Frost:

Human hair and eye color is unusually diverse in northern and eastern Europe. The many alleles involved (at least seven for hair color) and their independent origin over a short span of evolutionary time indicate some kind of selection. Sexual selection is particularly indicated because it is known to favor color traits and color polymorphisms. In addition, hair and eye color is most diverse in what used to be, when first peopled by hunter-gatherers, a unique ecozone of low-latitude continental tundra. This type of environment skews the operational sex ratio (OSR) of hunter-gatherers toward a male shortage in two ways: (1) men have to hunt highly mobile and spatially concentrated herbivores over longer distances, with no alternate food sources in case of failure, the result being more deaths among young men; (2) women have fewer opportunities for food gathering and thus require more male provisioning, the result being less polygyny. These two factors combine to leave more women than men unmated at any one time. Such an OSR imbalance would have increased the pressures of sexual selection on early European women, one possible outcome being an unusual complex of color traits: hair- and eye-color diversity and, possibly, extreme skin depigmentation.

Peter Frost

Norwegian government splits on job quotas for immigrants

Nina Berglund:

Once again, the three parties making up Norway's coalition government appear to have sharply different views on an important issue, this time whether employers should be subject to mandatory quotas to spur the hiring of immigrants.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg from the Labour Party has already said he's against the use of quotas, in the hopes of finding another way to better integrate immigrants into the workforce.

The Socialist Left (SV) party, however, favours imposing quotas, believing it to be the only way to ensure the immigrants get a fair chance in the job market in Norway. The Center Party is positive towards drafting an attempt at quotas.

Many immigrants are also split on the issue, but some are convinced that quotas are necessary in a country that continues to suffer a fair dose of so-called "fear of foreigners." Among them is Nguyen Phuong Ngoc, age 55, who arrived in Norway from Vietnam in 1975 with little more than a plastic bag containing a pair of trousers and a shirt.

He went straight to work, starting out as a garbage collector, then a warehouse worker and then as cleaning help. He had studied social anthropology in Vietnam and knew he wanted a higher education.

First he studied Norwegian several hours a day, and even went to sleep with Norwegian tapes playing in the background "so I could keep learning in my sleep," he told newspaper Aftenposten. He started at the bottom, in a Norwegian high school, then going on to study engineering and medicine at the university level. He graduated with the highest marks, but then hit the tough reality of trying to find a job in Norway when you're not a Norwegian.

"I must have applied for at least 50 jobs as a doctor, without getting any response at all," he said. "I had to take small jobs here and there for many years to get the references I needed to prove I was a proper doctor and not a dangerous foreigner."

That's why he has little doubt that quotas are needed to give other foreigners a chance. "Foreigners have a difficult time getting a job in Norway, even when they're better qualified than Norwegians," Nguyen claimed. "If there are several qualified applicants for a job, the foreigner should get preference."

Nguyen now also lectures at the University of Oslo, is active in the Oslo medical association Legeforeningen, and works with the Catholic church, refugee aid and the Red Cross. He notes that foreigners also have an obligation to integrate into Norwegian society.

"Immigrants who isolate themselves, distance themselves from Norwegians, and create big problems for themselves," he said.

If immigrants are such a benefit to the Norwegian economy then why do so many politicians feel it is necessary to force employers to hire them by imposing quotas? Maybe the employers know something that the politicians don't?

A new report reveals that children in Britain today struggle with questions they could have answered 30 years ago

Sian Griffiths:

For a decade we’ve been told that our kids, just as they seem to be getting taller with each generation, are also getting brighter. Every year new waves of children get better GCSE, A-level and degree results than their predecessors. Meanwhile, in primary schools, the standards in national maths and English tests at 11 head in one direction — relentlessly upwards.

Last week came the bombshell that blew a gaping hole in this one-way escalator of achievement.

Far from getting cleverer, our 11-year-olds are, in fact, less “intelligent” than their counterparts of 30 years ago. Or so say a team who are among Britain’s most respected education researchers.

After studying 25,000 children across both state and private schools Philip Adey, a professor of education at King’s College London confidently declares: “The intelligence of 11-year-olds has fallen by three years’ worth in the past two decades.”

It’s an extraordinary claim. But it’s one that should startle parents and teachers out of complacency. Shocked by the findings, experts are questioning our entire exam system and calling for radical changes in the way our children are taught in primary schools.

In their painstaking research project Adey and his colleague, psychology professor Michael Shayer, compared the results of today’s children with those of children who took exactly the same test in the mid-1990s and also 30 years ago. While most exams have changed (been made easier, if you listen to the critics) this one is the same as it was in 1976 when pupils first chewed their pencils over the problems.

In the easiest question, children are asked to watch as water is poured up to the brim of a tall, thin container. From there the water is tipped into a small fat glass. The tall vessel is refilled. Do both beakers now hold the same amount of water? “It’s frightening how many children now get this simple question wrong,” says scientist Denise Ginsburg, Shayer’s wife and another of the research team.

Another question involves two blocks of a similar size — one of brass, the other of plasticine. Which would displace the most water when dropped into a beaker? children are asked. Two years ago fewer than a fifth came up with the right answer.

In 1976 a third of boys and a quarter of girls scored highly in the tests overall; by 2004, the figures had plummeted to just 6% of boys and 5% of girls. These children were on average two to three years behind those who were tested in the mid-1990s.

“It is shocking,” says Adey. “The general cognitive foundation of 11 and 12-year-olds has taken a big dip. There has been a continuous decline in the last 30 years and it is carrying on now.”

But what exactly is being lost? Is it really general intelligence or simply a specific understanding of scientific concepts such as volume and density? Both, say the researchers. The tests reveal both general intelligence — “higher level brain functions” — and a knowledge that is “the bedrock of science and maths” says Ginsburg. In fact it’s nothing less than the ability of children to handle new, difficult ideas. Doing well at these tests has been linked with getting higher grades generally at GCSE.

So why are children now doing so badly? Possible explanations are numerous. Youngsters don’t get outside for hands-on play in mud, sand and water — and sandpits and water tables have been squeezed out in many primary schools by a relentless drilling of the three Rs and cramming 11- year-olds for the national tests.

“By stressing the basics — reading and writing — and testing like crazy you reduce the level of cognitive stimulation. Children have the facts but they are not thinking very well,” says Adey. “And they are not getting hands-on physical experience of the way materials behave.”

Ginsburg says parents too can do their bit. “When did children stop playing with mud, plasticine and Meccano and start playing with Xboxes and computer games?” she asks. Parents should switch off the television and “sit children around the dinner table to debate issues such as ‘What should we have done about the whale in the Thames?’ ” says Adey.

If these experts are right — and our children are losing the ability to think, the burning question is: what is the value of what they are being taught in primary school and of all those test results that every year rise to new heights? Paul Black, professor of education at King’s College, London is one of the experts so startled by these findings that he now wants ministers to reassess what our children are being taught.

“The decline shown up by this research is big and it is worrying,” he says. “It casts doubt on claims that standards are improving . . . There is not much evidence, in fact I don’t know of any good evidence, that the things tested at the moment in national tests at the age of 11 and 14 are of long-term benefit to learning . . . The government should look at this again.”

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), the exams watchdog, has called in the research. Asked whether it may prompt changes in what is being taught in our schools, a spokesman said: “We are cautious about research where questions never change because times change and the world changes.”

And our children’s knowledge and intelligence is changing too — but not, perhaps, in the direction ministers would have us believe.

I wonder if immigration might play a role in this decline in intellectual ability?

Children are less able than they used to be

Norway's Foreign Ministry was heeding a warning from Islamic groups that want all Scandinavians out of Gaza

Nina Berglund:

One Islamic group burned a Danish flag over the weekend

The groups claim the Scandinavians have offended them by printing controversial caricatures of their prophet Mohammed.

The first drawing, which showed the prophet wearing a turban shaped as a bomb, appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten in September and was re-printed in a Norwegian Christian publication called Magazinet earlier this month. Islamic law forbids any illustrations of the prophet Mohammed, so the caricatures have spurred protests from Islamic countries and from Muslims living in Denmark.

One Islamic group demanded on Sunday that all Scandinavians leave the Gaza Strip within 48 hours. Armed members of another group, the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, handed out pamphlets in Gaza encouraging Danes and Swedes to leave within three days.

Members of the al-Aqsa Brigade burned a Danish flag, and a Norwegian Foreign Ministry official said the ministry has alerted Norwegians to the groups' threats.

Anne Kjersti Shaw of the ministry said efforts had been made to contact aid workers "who we know are in the Gaza Strip. We have coordinated their travel out of the area."

At the same time, the ministry is advising Norwegians against travelling to Gaza "unless it is absolutely necessary."

The Arab League and the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference, meanwhile, have requested a UN resolution that would forbid attacks on religious beliefs and another that would impose sanctions on countries that don't abide by the resolution.

Many Muslim countries have started boycotting Danish products, while there have been several demonstrations against Danish embassies.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre last week urged Norway's embassies to apologize for the publication of the caricature, but that has spurred counter-criticism that Muslim countries should respect freedom of expression.

Norway has long been active in trying to broker peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Now it appears both sides are angry at the Norwegians: Israelis were furious over support from one of Norway's government parties for an Israeli boycott that supports the Palestinians, and now the Palestinians are angry with Norway as well.

Norwegian flag burned in Gaza

Gaza gunmen drag EU into Danish-Muslim blasphemy clash

Anti-Dane protests over 'blasphemous' cartoons

Gaza EU offices raided by gunmen

Gaza gunmen warn Denmark, Norway on Islam cartoons

Libya has said it is closing its embassy in Denmark in protest against a series of caricatures depicting the Prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper

BBC News:

Tripoli said Denmark had failed to act against the Jyllands-Posten's cartoons, which showed Muhammad as a terrorist.

The Danish government has refused to get involved in the issue despite growing anger in the Muslim world.

The newspaper said it did not mean to insult Islam. Islam bans any depiction of Muhammad or Allah.

"Because the Danish media had continued to show disrespect to the Prophet Muhammad and because the Danish authorities failed to take any action on that, Libya decided to close its embassy in Copenhagen," the Libyan foreign ministry said in a statement.

Libya also said it would be taking "economic measures" against Denmark, but did not say what they would be.

Ambassadors from several Muslim countries have complained to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, threatening to boycott Danish goods.

Last week, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador from Denmark.

Copenhagen has expressed regret for the furore over the 12 cartoons, but refused to get involved, citing freedom of expression.

"The government can in no way influence the media," Mr Rasmussen said on Sunday.

"And the Danish government and the Danish nation as such cannot be held responsible for what is published in independent media," he added.

Mr Rasmussen was speaking at a joint news conference with visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who said the newspaper's drawings were a mistake.

However, Mr Karzai added: "Prime Minister Rasmussen explained Denmark's position on that (the drawings), which was very satisfactory to me as a Muslim."

The Jyllands-Posten had said earlier it published the drawings to test the boundaries of expression about Islam.

Its editorial on Sunday said it did not mean to insult Islam.

"We at Jyllands-Posten feel regret because the issue has reached this level and we reiterate that we did not mean to insult anybody," it said.

"We believe, like the rest of Danish society, in the respect of freedom of religion."

Afghan president looks beyond drawings

Iraqi group urges Danish attacks over cartoons

The EU warns Saudi Arabia not to give its official support to a boycott of Danish goods

Highly analytical couples, such as scientists, may be more likely to produce children with autism

BBC News:

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, of the University of Cambridge, said the phenomenon may help explain the recent rise in diagnoses.

He believes the genes which make some analytical may also impair their social and communication skills.

A weakness in these areas is the key characteristic of autism.

It is thought that around one child in every 100 has a form of autism - the vast majority of those affected are boys.

The number of diagnoses seems to be on the increase, but some argue this is simply because of a greater awareness of the condition.

In a paper published in the journal Archives of Disease of Childhood, Professor Baron-Cohen labels people such as scientists, mathematicians and engineers as 'systemizers'.

They are skilled at analysing systems - whether it be a vehicle, or a maths equation - to figure out how they work.

But they also tend to be less interested in the social side of life, and can exhibit behaviour such as an obsession with detail - classic traits associated with autism.

Professor Baron-Cohen argues that systemizers are often attracted to each other - and thus more likely to pass 'autism' genes to their offspring.

He cited a survey of 1,000 members of the National Autistic Society which found fathers and grandfathers of children with autistic spectrum conditions are twice as likely to work in a systemizing profession.

In addition, students in the natural sciences have a higher number of relatives with autism than do students in the humanities, and mathematicians have a higher rate of autistic spectrum conditions compared with the general population.

Other research has found both mothers and fathers of children with autism score highly on a questionnaire measuring autistic traits.

Brain scan studies have also shown that mothers of autistic children often show patterns of brain activity more associated with men.

Professor Baron-Cohen said the rise in autism may be linked to the fact that it has become easier for systemizers to meet each other, with the advent of international conferences, greater job opportunities and more women working in these fields.

Richard Mills, of the National Autistic Society, said: "The society welcomes all new research, particularly that which helps us understand the nature and possible causes of autism and which may inform the support that we give to individuals.

"Over half a million people in the UK have a form of autism, it is a lifelong developmental disorder which requires specialist support."

Parents' marriage choice may lead to autism

Autism: What's Sex Got to do With It?

They just can't help it

Boy's vicious beating raises fears in Philadelphia's Liberian community

Kathy Matheson:

The boy's beating was brutal: He was punched in the mouth and then stomped on by a group of youths until his jaw was broken and he had bleeding on the brain.

Jacob Gray, the 13-year-old victim of the Oct. 31 attack, had only been in the country six weeks. A Liberian, his family had just moved here from a refugee camp in Ghana.

The city was appalled - not only that it had happened to a boy on his way home from middle school, but that the reported motive for the attack was simply that Gray was an immigrant.

Members of the Liberian community, who number about 15,000 in this city of 1.5 million, said the beating was evidence of long-standing if rarely documented tensions between the city's black immigrants and American-born blacks.

Though authorities said it appeared Gray was attacked because he was mistakenly labeled a snitch in a drug arrest, the schools and city have taken steps to ease the fear and anger the beating stirred in the city's Liberian enclave, one of the country's largest.

Three teens were charged in the assault. Town meetings were held. A citywide hearing was conducted. And the school district did everything from offering Gray new educational options and buying him requested Spider-Man paraphernalia to creating student "heritage clubs" designed to promote cultural understanding.

Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson, responding to complaints that immigrants are too scared to report problems, suggested creating an African-immigrant advisory council, though it hasn't met yet. Area churches are also trying to foster cultural exchanges between adults.

"Out of something unfortunate, some fortunate things have happened," said Teta Banks, honorary consul general for the Liberian consulate in Philadelphia.

But some say relations will improve only when attitudes change.

Liberian immigrant M. Sekou Kanneh, who runs an African music and video store in the neighborhood, said American kids look at their West African peers "as less than human beings." He said his son was called a "black monkey" at school.

Dixon Daye, an immigrant restaurant owner, said Liberians are resented by American-born blacks because of their work ethic; many of them put in long hours to support themselves here and send money back home. The unemployment rate for blacks in Philadelphia is 13.6 percent, nearly twice as high as it is for whites, according to the most recent federal labor statistics.

Youths get detention in SW Phila. attack

13-yr-Old Liberian Student Flogged In Philadelphia

Responding to attacks on immigrants

'Normal' at Tilden Middle School is different

Blacks, Immigrants, And The SPLC

Will Australia have to let in tens of thousands of unskilled migrants?

Cynthia Banham:

AUSTRALIA will have to open its doors to potentially tens of thousands of unskilled migrants to save its smaller Pacific island neighbours from economic ruin, a report commissioned by the Federal Government has found.

The report, by a taskforce on foreign aid, argues that the plight of the island nations has become so dire that urgent remedies, notably moving abroad in search of job opportunities, are necessary to keep them viable.

The tiny states of Nauru, Kiribati and Tuvalu are cited as the economies most in need of a migration fix. But the report also points to Melanesian nations like Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, with their larger populations.

While the Federal Government has substantially raised its immigration numbers over the past few years, its policy is to concentrate on people with skills.

Late last year, the Prime Minister, John Howard, flatly rejected a request from Pacific island leaders to allow seasonal workers into the country, arguing that it would simply create a new pool of visa overstayers.

The demand for a radical policy shift has been made by the Government's Core Group. It was commissioned to prepare a report for the new white paper on Australia's aid program.

The group's conclusion, after detailed economic analysis, is that it is "deeply concerned about the future of the Pacific".

To avoid a descent into increased poverty and a complete deterioration of services, the region needs to integrate with the global economy. This involves expanding migration opportunities for Pacific islanders.

"The Government should consider developing a Pacific unskilled migration window to facilitate migration, especially from Melanesia and the microstates," the report says.

"For microstates such as Nauru, Kiribati and Tuvalu, it is highly unlikely that these economies will be viable in the absence of migration opportunities."

The Core Group, headed by Professor Ron Duncan of the University of the South Pacific, says the need to expand migration opportunities to the Pacific islands is "urgent" given the rapid population growth.

You would think that the Australians would have learned an important lesson from their problems with Muslim immigrants that Third World immigration usually leads to higher crime rates.

The non-white British population grew by more than half a million between 2001 and 2003

Philip Johnston:

Over the same period, the white British population fell by more than 100,000, largely because of emigration and a low birth rate.

The white British and Irish are the only ethnic groups that registered a decline, the Office for National Statistics said. While the non-white group had an average annual growth rate of 3.8 per cent, the white British population declined by 0.1 per cent.

The fastest population growth - 11 per cent a year - was registered among the Chinese community, mainly due to immigration, rather than a high birth rate among settled Chinese.

Growth in the Black African population is largely the result of asylum seekers, principally from Somalia and Zimbabwe.

The research, the first of its kind and based on the 2001 census, shows that the non-white British population was around 7.1 million in 2003, compared with 6.6 million in 2001.

The white British population fell from 42.9 million to 42.8 million in the same period.

More than 40 per cent of London's population is non-white British, and the capital's ethnic minority population grew by 68,000 over the period. However, non-white immigrants are now beginning to leave London for other parts of England, all of which have seen an increase in ethnic minorities.

The ONS said: "The results suggest the growth in urban areas such as London is being driven by international immigration while growth in less urban areas is largely attributable to immigration from those urban areas."

Although the North East had the lowest population of non-white British communities at less than five per cent, it saw the fastest growth, with an increase of almost 10 per cent.

The Office for National Statistics said the figures had been published in response to "substantial demand" for up to date and reliable estimates of the population by ethnic group.

Government figures last month indicated that the population is projected to rise by more than seven million in the next 25 years and more than half of this will be the direct result of immigration, with another 30 per cent formed by the children of recent immigrants.

Migration changes the face of England

An American Reader Eyes British Immigration Stirrings

A Muslim civil liberties group is once again demanding an apology from a talk-radio host whom it accuses of insulting Islam

Susan Jones:

This time, the man in the please-apologize spotlight is Bill Handel of KFI-AM 640 in Los Angeles.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations complains that Handel made fun of a stampede that killed hundreds of Muslims during their annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

In a Jan. 12 segment called the "Annual Stampede Report," CAIR said Handel imitated people screaming, then joked that Muslim pilgrims should use a helicopter to monitor pilgrimage traffic, just as helicopters monitor traffic on L.A. freeways.

"The deaths of hundreds of people engaged in religious observances is no laughing matter," CAIR spokeswoman Sabiha Khan said in a statement. "KFI needs to distance itself from Mr. Handel's unbelievable insensitivity by issuing a formal apology and a reprimand."

CAIR said it has been rebuffed in its efforts to contact Handel and his producer.

More than 300 people were crushed in a stampede during this year's Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, the birthplace of the prophet Mohammed. It happened during a ritual in which pilgrims throw stones at a symbolic devil.

According to press reports from Saudi Arabia, some of the pilgrims, rushing to complete the stoning ritual before sunset, tripped over luggage and were crushed when other pilgrims pressed in from behind them.

This was not an isolated incident. The annual pilgrimage, which brings millions of people to Mecca, saw more than 1,400 people killed in a stampede in 1990; and 244 killed in Feb. 2004.

CAIR's war on conservative radio

CAIR 1, Free Speech 0

Michael Graham, Killed in Action


Are Republicans supported by whites with prejudice against blacks?

Shankar Vedantam:

Another study presented at the conference, which was in Palm Springs, Calif., explored relationships between racial bias and political affiliation by analyzing self-reported beliefs, voting patterns and the results of psychological tests that measure implicit attitudes -- subtle stereotypes people hold about various groups.

That study found that supporters of President Bush and other conservatives had stronger self-admitted and implicit biases against blacks than liberals did.

"What automatic biases reveal is that while we have the feeling we are living up to our values, that feeling may not be right," said University of Virginia psychologist Brian Nosek, who helped conduct the race analysis. "We are not aware of everything that causes our behavior, even things in our own lives."

Brian Jones, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said he disagreed with the study's conclusions but that it was difficult to offer a detailed critique, as the research had not yet been published and he could not review the methodology. He also questioned whether the researchers themselves had implicit biases -- against Republicans -- noting that Nosek and Harvard psychologist Mahzarin Banaji had given campaign contributions to Democrats.

"There are a lot of factors that go into political affiliation, and snap determinations may be interesting for an academic study, but the real-world application seems somewhat murky," Jones said.

Nosek said that though the risk of bias among researchers was "a reasonable question," the study provided empirical results that could -- and would -- be tested by other groups: "All we did was compare questions that people could answer any way they wanted," Nosek said, as he explained why he felt personal views could not have influenced the outcome. "We had no direct contact with participants."

For their study, Nosek, Banaji and social psychologist Erik Thompson culled self-acknowledged views about blacks from nearly 130,000 whites, who volunteered online to participate in a widely used test of racial bias that measures the speed of people's associations between black or white faces and positive or negative words. The researchers examined correlations between explicit and implicit attitudes and voting behavior in all 435 congressional districts.

The analysis found that substantial majorities of Americans, liberals and conservatives, found it more difficult to associate black faces with positive concepts than white faces -- evidence of implicit bias. But districts that registered higher levels of bias systematically produced more votes for Bush.

"Obviously, such research does not speak at all to the question of the prejudice level of the president," said Banaji, "but it does show that George W. Bush is appealing as a leader to those Americans who harbor greater anti-black prejudice."

Vincent Hutchings, a political scientist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, said the results matched his own findings in a study he conducted ahead of the 2000 presidential election: Volunteers shown visual images of blacks in contexts that implied they were getting welfare benefits were far more receptive to Republican political ads decrying government waste than volunteers shown ads with the same message but without images of black people.

Jon Krosnick, a psychologist and political scientist at Stanford University, who independently assessed the studies, said it remains to be seen how significant the correlation is between racial bias and political affiliation.

For example, he said, the study could not tell whether racial bias was a better predictor of voting preference than, say, policy preferences on gun control or abortion. But while those issues would be addressed in subsequent studies -- Krosnick plans to get random groups of future voters to take the psychological tests and discuss their policy preferences -- he said the basic correlation was not in doubt.

"If anyone in Washington is skeptical about these findings, they are in denial," he said. "We have 50 years of evidence that racial prejudice predicts voting. Republicans are supported by whites with prejudice against blacks. If people say, 'This takes me aback,' they are ignoring a huge volume of research."

Why we should start measuring bias

See No Bias

Where bias begins: the truth about stereotypes

Unmasking Bias

Are Our Brains Wired for Race or Gender Bias? New Annals Book Suggests Biases Are Widespread

Invisible bias

Red states and race

"Science" Report from The Washington Post: Conservative Voters Are Racists


The radical Islamic movement Hamas won a large majority in the new Palestinian parliament trouncing the governing Fatah party

Scott Wilson:

In Wednesday's voting, Hamas claimed 76 of the 132 parliamentary seats, giving the party at war with Israel the right to form the next cabinet under the Palestinian Authority's president, Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of Fatah.

Fatah, which has dominated the legislature since the previous elections a decade ago and the Palestinian cause for far longer, won 43 seats. A collection of nationalist, leftist and independent parties claimed the rest.

Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, another Fatah leader, resigned his post along with his cabinet early Thursday, as reports of Hamas's victory began to circulate. Although the cabinet would have been required to step aside even if Fatah had retained its majority, Qureia acknowledged in submitting his resignation that Hamas had earned the right to form the next cabinet.

"This is the choice of the people," Qureia, a member of the party's discredited old guard who did not run for reelection, told reporters here. "It should be respected."

Abbas, on the other hand, will continue to serve the four-year presidential term he won in an election a year ago, shortly after the death of his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, the founder of Fatah. Abbas will maintain the broad power to create national policy and control the security services, though he needs parliamentary approval for his budget and legislative proposals. He will also shape peace policy with Israel as head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which does not include Hamas.

The arrival of Hamas, formally known as the Islamic Resistance Movement, in the Palestinian Authority as a nearly equal partner will severely complicate Abbas's efforts to begin negotiations with Israel under the U.S.-backed peace plan known as the "road map." Hamas, which emerged in 1987 during the first Palestinian uprising as an offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, favors the creation of a Palestinian nation on land that now includes Israel rather than the road map's two-state solution.

The election results stunned U.S. and Israeli officials, who have repeatedly stated that they would not work with a Palestinian Authority that included Hamas, which both countries and the European Union have designated as a terrorist organization. In Washington, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that a party could not "have one foot in politics and the other in terror. Our position on Hamas has therefore not changed."

Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, said in a statement that the Palestinian people had "voted democratically and peacefully." But, he added, "these results may confront us with an entirely new situation which will need to be analyzed" at a meeting of European foreign ministers next week.

Jubilant Hamas leaders reiterated Thursday that they had no plans to pursue peace talks or disarm the party's armed wing, a condition Israel has set for beginning negotiations under the road map. The plan, which calls for the creation of an independent Palestinian state by the end of 2005, has been frozen during recent years of violence.

Hamas is a Creation of Mossad

Hamas Victorious In Palestinian Territories Elections

Does Democracy Blvd. lead to Islamism?

Iran vs. Israel: Bush's dilemma

If it's gangs that are committing the crimes, well then, go after the gangs. And don't be afraid to go after them because they're black

Linda Frum interviews former NYC chief of police, William Bratton:

Chief Bratton, have you ever been to Toronto?

Yes, quite a few times.

So you know a little bit about our city? You know about our problems? A 27-per-cent increase in the number of homicides from 1995 to today. A Boxing Day slaying where a 15-year-old innocent bystander was gunned down during a gang shootout on a major shopping street. Can I tell you -- it would be nice if you were our police chief.

Well, thank you. Tell me, the gang violence that you are experiencing, what is the racial or ethnic background of the gangs?

That's a refreshingly blunt question. Some say it may be as high as 80 per cent Jamaican. But no one knows for sure, because people here don't like to talk about that.

You need to talk about it. It's all part of the issue. If it's Jamaican gangs that are committing the crimes, well then, go after the Jamaican gangs. And don't be afraid to go after them because they're black. That's the last thing you need to be concerned with.

Oh boy, I can see the complaints coming in already. You have to understand the climate here. The major local daily in Toronto, the Toronto Star, says it doesn't believe in "gratuitously" labelling people by ethnic origin.

Well, that really helps identify who they are, doesn't it? The next step will be to refuse to allow the police to identify people by their race or ethnic origin. That type of societal consciousness really goes to extremes.

Bullets fly in a North York neighbourhood

Toronto police arrest 65 alleged gang members

U.S. gun pipeline proves difficult to track

Mafia movies influence gang

A large proportion of Ashkenazi Jews and North African Arabs with Parkinson’s disease carry the same single gene mutation

Michael Smith:

The mutation -- apparently derived from a single “founder” individual several centuries ago -- was found in 18.3% of a cohort of 120 Ashkenazi Jews treated for Parkinson’s at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Beth Israel Medical Center here.

The same mutation was found in 39% of a cohort of 76 Arabs with the disease, French researcher said. Both studies were published as letters in the Jan. 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The single-base-pair alteration, dubbed G2019S, is found on exon 41 of the leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2), according to Laurie Ozelius, Ph.D., of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and lead author of the paper describing the Jewish cohort.

Overall, Dr. Ozelius said, 22 of the 120 Parkinson’s patients carried the mutation, but only four of 317 controls with the same ethnic background carried the mutation. Carrying the mutation gave an odds ratio for disease of 17.6, with a 95% confidence interval ranging from 5.9 to 52.2.

Also, the mutation was found in 11 of 37 (29.7%) of patients with a familial pattern of disease, and 11 of 83 (13.3%) patients with apparently sporadic disease.

One implication of the finding, Dr. Ozelius said in an interview, is that many patients thought of as having sporadic disease probably have familial -- but unknown or unrecognized -- connections.

“What this is telling us is that there is this group of people who supposedly have sporadic Parkinson’s, but actually have a genetic form of the disease,” she said.

The gene mutation has been shown to be due to a single founder in European populations, where it is carried by about 5% of familial patients and 1% of sporadic patients -- rates much lower than those found by the New York group, Dr. Ozelius said.

However, genetic markers in and surrounding the altered gene in the Jewish cohort show that it is identical to the gene found in the European studies. “The mutation is the same mutation as that in the European population – it’s due to the same founder,” Dr. Ozelius said.

The New York results, combined with the Arab study, which also found the same genetic pattern, imply that the gene mutation has its origins in the Middle East. Dr. Ozelius said some of her colleagues are now trying to estimate when it first appeared.

In the other study, researchers from the French Parkinson’s Disease Study Group examined a cohort of 104 Parkinson’s patients in North Africa, including 76 Arabs, 18 Europeans born in North Africa, six Sephardic Jews, and four black Africans, as well as a cohort of 151 healthy Arab controls.

The study showed that 31 of the 104 patients (30%) carried the mutation, according to Suzanne Lesage, Ph.D., of the French national institute for health and medical research’s unit 679 in Paris, and lead author of the study.

But all but one of the carriers was Arab, Dr. Lesage and colleagues found, and the other carrier was a Sephardic Jew.

Among the 76 Arab patients, the researchers found, 10 of the 27 familial cases (37%) carried the mutation and 20 of the 49 sporadic cases (41%) carried the mutation. Two of the controls were also found to have the mutation. Carrying the mutation gave an odds ratio for disease of 48.6 (95% CI 11.2 to 211) in Arab patients.

Both groups of researchers noted that the finding will have implications for genetic testing and counseling, although the issue is fraught with difficulty since there is no cure for the disease.

But Dr. Ozelius said the findings may also make it possible to tease out some of the earliest signs of Parkinson’s disease, because genetic screening would find carriers of the mutated gene long before they develop symptoms.

“This really opens up our ability to look at a homogenous population -- everyone with the same mutation -- and look at pre-clinical things,” she said.

Genetic Link to Parkinson's Disease Is Detected in 2 Ethnic Groups

Gene causes Parkinson's in Ashkenazim

Genetic Link to Parkinson's Is Discovered

Racial differences in earwax?

BBC News:

Whether your earwax is wet or dry is determined by a mutation in a single gene, scientists have discovered.

An international team of researchers studied the genes of people from 33 populations across the world.

They found ethnicity affects which form of the gene people have, and therefore their earwax type.

And in Nature Genetics, they raised the unlikely possibility that earwax type could be linked to attractiveness, due to a link with body odour glands.

Earwax is secreted by the ceruminous apocrine glands.

Dry earwax is seen in up to 95% of East Asians, but no more than 3% of people of European and African origin.

In both Europeans and Africans, the wet type completely dominates.

Earwax type determined by single letter of DNA

Those pesky race-related genes again

Ancient mystery solved - dry earwax boosts sex appeal

Genetic link found for gooey earwax

Japanese Scientists Identify Ear Wax Gene

Dry earwax? It's genetic

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The City Council in a mostly Hispanic Los Angeles suburb has passed a resolution prohibiting local police from taking on immigration enforcement

Associated Press:

Maywood's resolution, passed unanimously 5-0 late Tuesday, also promised to reject any future federal law mandating cooperation between police and immigration officials in the city of 45,000 residents.

"We want to make clear that our police department will not become immigration agents," said mayor Thomas Martin. "We also want to send a message to places like Costa Mesa that police should be focused on gangs and drugs, and not overextending their resources."

In December, Costa Mesa voted to train police officers to help enforce immigration laws, a step that a handful of forces nationwide have taken since a federal law allowing it was passed in 1996.

Currently, municipalities have the option of enforcing immigration law, though a handful of immigration reform bills being considered by Congress would make it mandatory.

Bruce Leflar, Maywood's police chief, said his 43-officer force did not enforce immigration law and had no plans to do so.

Virginia Kice, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Maywood's decision wouldn't impact the agency's ability to enforce immigration law there.

Police chief sells immigration plan

Feds Bust 61 Gang Members, Many Are Illegal Aliens

Is racism behind suicide attempts in Sweden?

The Local:

Racism and sexual harassment could lie behind the higher incidence of suicide attempts amongst teenagers adopted from foreign countries.

Girls are particularly at risk, according to a Swedish study which has looked into the problem.

"I'm concerned that racism is a bigger problem than we previously thought," said researcher Frank Lindblad to TT.

Earlier research has indicated that adopted teenagers from foreign countries are more than four times more likely to attempt suicide than other teenagers.

There are a number of possible factors behind the phenomenon. Society's prejudice against against people of different appearance can be an important one, according to Lindblad, a researcher at the Institute of Psyhosocial Medicine and a member of the team behind the current study.

Lindblad and his colleagues looked at 13,000 adopted children who were born between 1963 and 1973 and followed them up to 2002. Just over half were born in Sweden and the rest in other countries.

The results show an increased risk in both groups of attempted suicide, but a significantly higher risk amongst the foreign adoptees. Discrimination could be an explanation.

It's also not unusual for foreign adoptees to have greater problems in finding their identity in relation to their parents and society as a whole.

The situation is most serious for women. Suicide attempts are several times higher amongst foreign female adoptees than amongst Swedish born women of the same age. The difference is big even compared to adopted women with Swedish biological parents.

The research team believe they've detected a pattern following interviews with young adopted women of Asian descent.

"People have preconceptions that [women of Asian descent] are promiscuous, prostitutes, have a strong sex drive and are considered to be exotic," said Frank Lindblad, who believes that such sexual prejudices can be difficult for the women concerned to understand.

High Risk of Psychiatric Ills in Children Adopted from Another Country

Nigerian student to be deported again from Ireland

RTE News:

Nigerian student Olunkunle Eluhanla, who was allowed to remain in Ireland to sit his Leaving Certificate examination last year, is to be deported again.

The Department of Justice granted him a six-month visa last March to sit his exam. However, the department has now ruled that he should not be allowed to remain any longer because it would be contrary to the common good.

It is understood that one factor in the decision was Mr Eluhanla's recent plea of guilty in court to charges of driving without insurance or tax, along with the fact that he already has a previous conviction for a road traffic offence.

McDowell accused of revenge in student's deportation

Minister decides student must leave Ireland again

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