Thursday, July 27, 2006

Zapata sheriff says Mexican border violence worsening

Lynn Brezosky:

Drug and smuggling gangs controlling Mexican border territory are proving an increasingly violent and sophisticated threat to Texas border law enforcement, Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzales told a state Senate committee today.

"The weapons we possess are like water guns compared to what they have," Gonzales said. "They're trying to scare us away from the border."

Gonzales, representing the Texas Border Sheriffs' Coalition, was one of more than a dozen witnesses testifying before the Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security. The panel was in South Texas for a hearing on border security and funding for sheriffs along the border.

Gonzales said federal efforts to protect the U.S. side of the border have failed, allowing foreign criminals to infiltrate Texas counties — in some cases just to commit violent crimes before slipping back into Mexico.

"Many murders committed in Laredo were committed by Mexican gang members," he said. "(Improvised Explosive Devices) seized in Laredo, we think were being brought to Mexico to be used against us."

Laredo is in Webb County, just west of Zapata County. Gonzales said that in his own county, residents have reported men marching two abreast, carrying backpacks and automatic weapons. He recounted the barrage of gunfire coming at Hidalgo County sheriff's deputies from across the Rio Grande this month.

"It's not just illegal immigrants," he said. "Something more frightening is happening."

Compromise would allow unlimited immigrants

Riverside OKs illegal aliens measure

Zimbabwean exposed in British asylum racket


Dzumbira, left, seen greeting the undercover journalist

A CORRUPT Zimbabwean working as an immigration officer in the United Kingdom has been exposed by the Sun newspaper after a sting operation organised by a genuine asylum seeker and the tabloid.

Joseph Dzumbira, 35, boasted to The Sun that he has helped 200 bogus asylum seekers enter Britain for cash.

Senior Home Office worker Joseph Dzumbira bragged to an undercover reporter that he could get anyone refugee status for up to £2,000.

He agreed to provide fake documents and IDs and coach bogus asylum seekers on how to cheat the system using loopholes learned in his job.

His biggest scam is pretending people of other nationalities are “Zim” cases — Zimbabweans threatened with arrest in their homeland. He knows the Home Office will not deport people to Zimbabwe because they face torture and death at the hands of President Mugabe’s thugs.

Dzumbira has worked for seven years at the scandal-ridden Lunar House asylum HQ in Croydon, South London.

Earlier this year The Sun exposed a sex-for-visas racket at the same office.

Dzumbira — part of a gang which includes other bent immigration officers, solicitors and an ex-cop — boasted: “I believe in delivering results. There are people who can bend the rules.”

We were tipped off about Dzumbira by a disgusted asylum seeker who received huge demands for cash.

Known very well amongst the Zimbabwean community in Southend-on-Sea, Dzumbira bragged to all and sundry about what he could do for those trying to stay in the UK legally. In one instance, he hid the papers of a Zimbabwean woman seeking asylum trying to clear all the other cases so he could get an opportunity to speak with her and ask for a bribe to assist her. In another, he followed a group of former Daily News journalists from Zimbabwe who had gone to the courts to support a friend at the appeals court.

He told them the case had not been handled well by the lawyer and if they were prepared to pay he would assist them and influence the judge through his "powerful friends". They saw through him and refused to work with him.

He insisted and the group was saved by a train that arrived early when he had nipped into the toilet at Hatton Cross tube station. Since he had already taken a number of one of the journalists before they knew his intentions, Dzumbira pestered the group with phone calls soon after.

In the end they ignored his calls. He even tried to lure them into parting with their money saying not only could he help their colleague with her papers but also with mortgages because he was also linked to the housing market in the UK. But, many in Southend, which today has been abuzz with his story after the Sun exposed him, believed he was a liar who did not work with anyone in the immigration department.

Fresh corruption claim hits immigration service

Inquiry calls over 'out of control' immigration system

Official faces cash for asylum probe

Sun Online breaks video exclusive of illegal-immigration sting

Scandal a blow to Reid

Immigration corruption 'is rife'

Tory fear over visa scam

By 2010 there will be more 55-to-64 year-olds than 15-to-24 year-olds in the European Union

Times Leader:

The growing number of older Europeans, coupled with low birth rates across the 25-nation bloc, is giving lawmakers a big headache. At issue is how to financially shoulder the burden of an aging society while staying competitive globally and finding workable incentives for people to have more babies.

“It’s getting worse and worse. If things continue like this, no one is ever going to get to retire,” said Roni Howath, 56, a former Vienna postal worker who retired early and now drives a cab from time to time to supplement his monthly pension.

In the past, European taxpayers relied on generous national pension plans fueled in part by those still working. But in recent years, many governments have made severe cutbacks amid fears that with fewer people paying into the system, there will be less money to dole out.

Experts say the impact of an ever-grayer Europe will be felt throughout society.

According to a recent EU report, the bloc’s working age population is projected to fall by 48 million, or 16 percent, between 2010 and 2050, while the number of seniors is expected to rise sharply by 58 million, or 77 percent.

Europe will go from having four people of working age for every senior citizen to a ratio of two to one by 2050, predicts the report by the Economic Policy Committee and the European Commission.

“Without exaggeration, one could say that what is going to happen on average in the next 25 years is really something we have never seen before,” said Bernd Marin, executive director of the Vienna-based European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research. “It has implications for everything.”

Already, it’s clear that people will have to work longer before retiring.

Most companies think older workers are “inflexible” and prefer hiring younger workers instead of retraining or retaining older ones, he added.

That trend could add pressure to younger people struggling to balance job responsibilities against the need to play a bigger role in caring for aging parents.

“Younger people are going to do a lot more in formal care. They will have to struggle hard with work and taking care of family. There’s going to be a collision of pressures here,” said Peter Taylor-Gooby, professor of social policy at the University of Kent in England.

Europe Faces Challenge of Aging Population

Poll: Most People Unaware Of The Age When Fertility Begins To Decline

Islamic extremists in Switzerland

Craig Whitlock:

For centuries, this Alpine nation has successfully relied on a strict policy of political neutrality to insulate it from the wars, invasions and revolutions that have raged outside its borders. These days, a new threat has emerged: one from within.

As they have elsewhere in Europe, Islamic radicals are making inroads in Switzerland. Last month, Swiss officials announced the arrests of a dozen suspects who allegedly conspired to shoot down an Israeli airliner flying from Geneva to Tel Aviv. In a related case, a North African man has been charged with organizing a plot from Swiss soil to blow up the Spanish supreme court in Madrid.

For years, even after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, Swiss officials assumed that their country was one of the last places Islamic radicals would look to attack. Long considered a slice of neutral territory in a world full of conflicts, Switzerland trades on its status as home to the International Committee of the Red Cross and other diplomatic institutions.

As the global jihad movement becomes more decentralized and fragmented, however, Swiss security officials are warning that their country could become a target.

In an intelligence report completed in May, the Swiss Federal Police reversed previous assessments that the domestic risk of terrorism was nearly nonexistent. The report concluded that Switzerland had become "a jihadi field of operation" and predicted that terrorist attacks were "an increasing possibility."

"It would be dishonest to say that these groups are ready to act in Europe but that Switzerland is an island and that these groups could not be active in Switzerland, too," Jean-Luc Vez, director of the federal police, said in an interview here in the Swiss capital. "It is very, very important for us to say this to the Swiss politicians and the Swiss people."

The changes in Switzerland mirror those in other smaller European nations that, until recently, didn't see themselves as likely targets for Islamic terrorists.

In Sweden, another country with a long history of neutrality, prosecutors last month convened a top-secret closed trial of three terrorism suspects in the southern city of Malmo. Authorities have not identified the suspects or disclosed any evidence. But Swedish media have reported that the arrests were made at the request of British counterterrorism investigators.

In Denmark, counterterrorism authorities say they remain on high alert after a Danish newspaper printed cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that spurred boycotts, death threats and violent protests in Islamic countries.

And in the Netherlands, the Dutch government has classified the risk of a terrorist attack as "substantial," a threat level proportionally higher than in the United States, where homeland security officials judge the risk as "elevated." The Dutch government established its threat-ranking system in November 2004, when an Islamic radical killed the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh.

Like Denmark, the Netherlands has contributed troops and other support to U.S.-led military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. But until the van Gogh killing, Dutch officials had played down the threat of terrorism at home.

Since then, the number of Islamic radicals in the country has increased, as has the number of fundamentalist imams who are seeking to recruit new followers, said Tjibbe Joustra, the Dutch national coordinator for counterterrorism. He said international conflicts such as the war in Iraq are fueling the problem, although the Netherlands has also been polarized over its difficulties in assimilating Muslim immigrants.

"I'm afraid we are seeing an increase in radicalization in the Netherlands," Joustra said in a telephone interview. "In their search for motivation and their search for reasons to radicalize, they are no longer looking so much at national issues as international ones."

Jacques Pitteloud, a former coordinator of the Swiss intelligence agencies, said that in the past Swiss officials were primarily concerned that outside radical networks might try to use the country as a logistical base to raise money or support operations elsewhere. Most terrorism suspects arrested or questioned after Sept. 11, 2001, were foreigners just passing through.

That has changed recently, he said. Most of the suspects in the Israeli airliner case, for example, are immigrants who were granted Swiss residency.

"We might be facing a new era in homegrown terrorism," said Pitteloud, now the director of the Center for International Security Policy, an arm of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. "We don't feel like we are a primary target, but in the end, Switzerland is a symbol of quite a lot of things that radical Islam hates." Officials worry about attacks on foreign embassies and institutions in the country.

An estimated 350,000 Muslims live in Switzerland, constituting about 5 percent of the population. Swiss officials said they have done a better job integrating foreigners into the population than other European countries and have fewer radical mosques and organizations.

But "we have seen early signs now of anti-Swiss propaganda on the Internet," Pitteloud said. "We have our fair share of radical Islamists, there is no doubt, many of whom we don't know what to do about because many of them are refugees and we can't just kick them out."

The Twin Myths of Eurabia

In Europe, Islam rises, Christianity falls

A court in India has sentenced a school teacher to two years imprisonment for forcibly kissing a German tourist and trying to outrage her modesty


The court said such incidents were blots on Indian culture and fined the teacher 1,000 rupees ($21), the Asian Age daily reported.

Police had registered a case against the teacher soon after the tourist complained that the man tried to molest her when she was visiting a school in Jhunjhunu district, 150 kilometres south-west of New Delhi, in March this year.

Rajasthan is one of India's most popular tourist destinations and the incidents of molestation and rape of foreign tourists is causing the administration concern.

A court in Rajasthan recently sentenced an MBA student to seven years in jail for raping a German research student.

The verdict in another case in which a Japanese tourist alleged she was raped by the son of a hotel owner, is likely to be delivered this week.

7-year RI for main accused in Japanese woman rape case

New Delhi - the rape capital of India?

Turkish imams may no longer enter the Netherlands, as the Immigration Service (IND) does not consider them sufficiently integrated


Eighteen Dutch mosques are now without a spiritual leader, the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper reports.

New immigrants must follow a course in Dutch language and culture since March before being allowed into the Netherlands. "Under the new rules, all newcomers, including imams, must first take a test at the Dutch embassy in the country of origin. The imams have not done this," IND spokesman Maud Bredero explained.

The Turkish government has asked the Dutch embassy in Ankara for an explanation. "We will wait for this. But if necessary, we will join 142 mosque executive committees to take legal action," said Yusuf Kalkan, who is responsible for religious issues at the Turkish embassy in The Hague. He is also chairman of the national mosque association Diyanet.

Kalkan does not understand why the Netherlands no longer issues residence permits to Turkish imams. "All our imams have followed a three-month integration course at our expense at the Albeda college in Rotterdam. They know more about the Netherlands than they need to."

The IND spokesman admitted that the Rotterdam exam may be more taxing than the test at the embassy in Ankara. "But the fact is that we only accept a diploma gained at the embassy." According to Algemeen Dagblad, eighteen mosques in the Netherlands now have no spiritual leader.

Imams on Dutch culture course

New Imams

Verdonk orders three imams to leave

Former Colorado Gov. Dick Lamm writes that blacks and Hispanics should follow the example of Jews and Japanese-Americans

Felix Doligosa:

Illegal immigration fuels terrorism and brings economic burdens on Americans, former Gov. Dick Lamm said at a breakfast this morning at the University Club.
"It used to take an army and navy to hurt America," Lamm said about the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001. "Not anymore."

Lamm was continuing the theme he espoused Monday when he said in a speech in Vail that Hispanics remain an "underclass" in America because their culture is "not success-producing."

He also pushed his new book, Two Wands, One Nation, where he wrote that Hispanics and blacks need to take responsibility for their "under performance" and should adopt the values of the Japanese and Jews.

His talk this morning was aimed at illegal immigrants in general.

Lamm said 12 of the 48 people prosecuted for the 9/11 attack were illegal immigrants who had created bank accounts in America to fund their attack.

"It’s not people coming to do our yard work only," he said.

Lamm said illegal immigration cuts wages and hurts Colorado.

He recently visited a Denver home where three illegal immigrant families had 11 children in public schools.

Lamm said it takes about $11,000 for each child to go through school and it costs just as much for health care.

"The taxpayers are being abused," he said.

Lamm said we can’t have America as the health care provider for the world.

‘Culture matters,’ Lamm says

Lamm-basting Political Correctness

Lamm's words draw fire

African-Americans remain much less likely than American Indians, Latinos and Asian-Americans to marry whites

Nicola Pytell:

Breaking away from previous marriage and cohabitation studies that treated the U.S. black population as a monolithic culture, a new Cornell study finds significant variations in interracial marriage statistics among American-born blacks and black immigrants from the Caribbean and Africa.

Among the findings: Blacks born on the U.S. mainland (African-Americans) are more likely to cohabit with and marry whites than are newcomers from the West Indies, Africa and Puerto Rico, who are more likely to marry within their group or to marry African-Americans, although marriage rates between these two groups remain very low.

The study also found that there is a higher proportion of cohabitation among interracial couples relative to mixed race marriages, said Daniel T. Lichter, professor of policy analysis and management and director of the Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center at Cornell. "Nearly 10 percent of all cohabiting unions are between partners of different races."

The study, conducted with Christie Batson and Zhenchao Qian of Ohio State University, is published in the August issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family.

Among the study's other findings:

A higher percentage of black cohabiting couples than married couples involve partners of different races or ethnic ancestries;

Nearly 75 percent of interracial couples in which one partner is black involve a black man and white woman;

African-Americans are more likely to pair with blacks born outside the United States than with whites.

The study is an effort to tease out discrete factors that influence "assimilation" -- a term often interpreted as pejorative -- of minority groups into the majority population. The recent increase in interracial unions presumably reflects positive changes in American race relations and a blurring of racial and ethnic boundaries and identities, Lichter said.

However, relying on data from the 2000 census, the primary goal of the study, he said, "is to acknowledge the diversity in America's black populations, while highlighting emerging patterns of marriage and cohabitation with whites as well as other black subpopulations."

Demographers and sociologists have always treated intermarriage between groups -- blacks and whites, or between whites of different ethnic backgrounds -- as evidence of a narrowing of "social distance" between groups, Lichter said. Quantifying these relationships is a useful way to summarize the extent to which minority or historically oppressed populations -- including new immigrants -- are being economically, geographically and politically incorporated into American society and to which racial boundaries are breaking down.

"A current question is whether the new black population -- from the West Indies and Africa -- will, over time, more strongly identify with the native-born African-American population or with the majority white population," Lichter said. "There also is a growing literature on ethnic antagonisms between native-born blacks and African-born immigrants. Hence our interest in intermarriage among diverse black populations -- intermarriage reveals important information on inter-group relations."

The importance of the study comes into sharper focus when viewed in a historical context. Miscegenation laws forbidding interracial marriage were not lifted nationwide until 1967, the study states. Even so, when it comes to marriage, the color line remains strong. Despite an increase in black-white marriages and cohabitation since 1967, African-Americans "remain much less likely than American Indians, Latinos and Asian-Americans to marry whites," Lichter said.

Skin color, then, remains a powerful and mitigating factor in America's marriage patterns.

Multiracial youth more likely to engage in violent behavior, substance abuse

Mixed-race students report more troubles

Multiracial patients have tough battle to find marrow matches

3 percent of Americans are mixed-race

Interracial relationships are on the increase in U.S., but decline with age, Cornell study finds

Immigrants are bringing female circumcision to Britain

Michael Holden:

Sacdiya Hussein Ali was seven years old when she was taken to a stranger's house in her native Kenya and held down on a mat by 10 women who pulled her legs apart while a woman cut her with a razor blade.

"The lady who was doing the circumcision came between my legs and she started cutting my private parts," Ali, now 34 and living in London, told Reuters.

"After the cutting I was screaming. They had put some clothes in my mouth so I couldn't shout, but they could still hear me screaming."

Ali is one of an estimated 3 million women and girls who suffer female genital mutilation (FGM) each year.

The practice, also known as female circumcision, involves removing part or all of a girl's clitoris or labia. It is often carried out by an older woman with no medical training, using anything from scissors to tin can lids and pieces of glass.

The victims have no idea what is going to happen to them and anaesthetic or antiseptic treatment is often not used.

"When they cut me, they mixed some herbs and eggs ... and poured it where they had cut and stitched me with thorns," Ali recounted.

The centuries-old practice, prevalent mostly in Africa, is now also being brought by immigrants to Western countries, like Britain.

"FGM is a huge problem in the UK," said Ensharah Ahmed, community development officer at the UK-based Foundation for Women's Health, Research and Development (Forward).

Forward estimates there are around 279,500 women living in Britain who have undergone FGM, with another 22,000 girls under 16 in danger of joining them.

This year London police launched an awareness campaign to coincide with the start of the summer school holidays -- a period, they say, when women who carry out FGM are most likely to come to Britain, or when families send their daughters back to their countries of origin where they can be circumcised.

Detective Inspector Carol Hamilton from London police's Child Abuse Command says it is difficult to tackle what she calls a "crime of love" as those responsible believe they are doing the right thing for their child.

The custom was traditionally carried out to bestow status and honour or because of the mistaken belief it was a religious requirement. It is thought it was also used to control a woman's sexual desire and reduce the chance of promiscuity in marriage.

However, it can disfigure, cause extreme pain, psychological damage, infertility or even kill.

Ali says she has suffered back pains, menstruation problems and kidney infections.

"It has affected me so much -- psychologically, socially," she said. "I can still remember that razor going into my body -- I can still feel it. Even now, I cannot bear to look at razors."

Ahmed says not enough study has been carried out into the mental scars which were often as bad as the physical ones.

"When you talk to someone who has undergone FGM you can see the flashback and the effects just the bringing up of the issue has for them," she said.

Legislation passed in 2003 makes it illegal for British residents to arrange FGM in Britain or abroad, and those guilty of procuring or carrying out the practice face up to 14 years in jail. No one has yet been prosecuted.

"It's not something you can stamp out in two seconds -- it's been going for thousands of years," Hamilton told Reuters.

"Most communities will say it's necessary, it's something they need to protect their cultural identity now they are living in another country," she said.

"I've been going to a lot of communities and I have spoken to a lot of women and men and they all tell me the same thing -- they have to do it.

"But what it is actually is physical and emotional torture of little girls who have no say in the matter. It is so totally barbaric and against human rights that we need to be seen to be tackling it -- but we have to do it slowly."

Kenya urged to impose tough laws to curb FGM vice against women

Female circumcision clampdown call

Islamic schools are undermining British identity

Amit Roy:

Christian schools are perfectly acceptable but other faith schools, especially Muslim ones, are a big mistake and should be scrapped if the Government wants to encourage a unifying British identity, according to the man reckoned by many to be the world's leading moral philosopher.

Commenting on the damage that he believes is being done by Muslim, Hindu and Sikh schools, set up because the Government wanted to give them parity with Christian institutions, Professor Amartya Sen said: "I am actually absolutely appalled."

Trying to curb Islamic terrorism in Britain by going through Muslim organisations and defining the identities of immigrants only on the basis of religion had been another serious error.

Prof Sen, 72, who has come to Britain from Harvard, where is he is professor of economics and philosophy, is currently delivering a series of lectures on how religion is being used to pull Britain apart and also encouraging inter-communal violence.

Born in India into an academic Hindu Bengali family with links to Rabindranath Tagore, the polymath 1913 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Prof Sen has lived and worked in Britain for many years and was Master from 1998 to 2003 of Trinity College, Cambridge, where he did his undergraduate degree and PhD. Widely respected as possibly the world's top economist, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1998.

Illusions of identity

Black and Latino gang violence in Compton

Megan Garvey:

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca redeployed deputies to Compton on Tuesday in response to a bloody weekend that left four dead and numerous people wounded, including two young girls.

The move restores the additional staff Baca ordered into the gang-plagued city earlier this year after homicide levels in 2005 reached near-record rates. In recent weeks, sheriff's officials said, staffing had dwindled as some task force members were promoted or transferred.

"Clearly, the past week has shown that the community is not stable enough to sustain a reduction in staff," Baca said Tuesday. "We have moved personnel back into Compton and we will keep them there … until we have a clear indication that the community is stable."

The violent weekend — which saw 20 gang-related shootings — capped several weeks of escalating gang activity in a city that had seen a dramatic drop in shootings and homicides since the task force was created in January.

Through early July, sheriff's officials said, there were 13 gang-related killings in Compton, compared to 38 for the same period the year before. Shootings were down by more than 50%.

As of Sunday, there had been 21 homicides in the city and another three killings within blocks of the city boundaries in unincorporated areas also patrolled by sheriff's deputies. Nearly all of the killings are thought to be gang-related. A year earlier, the total at this point in the year was 40 in the city and four nearby.

Baca said some of the recent violence appears to have been racially motivated — with black gang members attacking Latinos and Latino gang members attacking blacks.

He said the racial overtones have reinforced his belief that it would be "morally wrong" not to assist Compton despite the city's inability to pay for more deputies.

"There's no question about it that the additional personnel have had a huge impact in blocking off opportunity and access to victims," he said, calling some of the attacks "callously random."

"It's: 'We're going to hit someone who is an innocent person, but that doesn't concern us at all.' There are no rules of engagement with these gang members," he said. "They are reckless, wild and need to be stopped."

Among the recent victims: two girls, ages 2 and 3, who were wounded in a drive-by shooting Friday night while playing in their family's frontyard.

The renewed level of violence stunned elected officials and residents who had hoped the downturn in crime would last.

At a City Council meeting Tuesday, Councilwoman Yvonne Arceneaux's voice cracked with emotion when she described the scene of a weekend shooting that killed a 19-year-old man on the street where she lives.

"There were people standing outside, devastated by this," she said. "One 15-year-old was outside and he was pacing the sidewalk and refused to come inside, he was so upset."

Arceneaux said she wanted "some reassurance from the sheriff that this mayhem" would be stopped, adding that "gang members had sent the word out" that more attacks were planned.

Sheriff Baca back for more

4 Fatally Shot At Week's End In Compton

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The French government has banned a radical black power group held responsible for an anti-Semitic rally in Paris


"Tribu Ka," or Tribe K in English, was blamed for disturbances in a Jewish area of Paris in May when a band of black youths were witnessed shouting anti-Semitic slogans.

French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, announcing the ban, said: "Their anti-Semitism is no longer to be established and the Republic cannot tolerate such action and behaviour."

He had no intention "of tolerating people that threaten, intimidate, injure or behave in the way that they behaved," he said.

The leader of the group, Kemi Seba, told AFP that the group intended to ignore the ban.

"During the time of slavery, we asked slaves not to meet up after a certain time ... If slaves had taken this into account there would not have been the abolition of slavery," he said.

He said the membership of his organisation, estimated previously at 15-30 people, had "doubled, even tripled" since the incident in May in Paris' Marais district.

France bans group behind Paris anti-Semitic march

Sarkozy visits Jewish neighborhood after threat from Black extremists

France Black Muslim Influenced Group "Tribu Ka" Is Banned

The highest court of Pakistan has ordered an inquiry into the case of a man who spent three years in jail for a murder that never happened

Aijaz Mahar:

A Supreme Court official confirmed on Wednesday that Malik Taj Mohammed had been the victim of a "huge injustice".

He proved his innocence when it was discovered that his "murder victim" was serving a jail sentence for theft.

Lawyers say the case is exceptional, even though false charges in criminal cases are often made in Pakistan.

The chief justice ordered Mr Mohammed's immediate release and told a lower court to carry out an inquiry to identify those officials responsible for wrongly incarcerating him.

A court official told the BBC that the victim, Malkani Bibi, was believed to have been murdered during a property dispute between relatives a few years ago, and a case was registered against Malik Taj Mohammed.

The official told the BBC that the accused had been convicted by a lower court of murder, and had been languishing in jail for the past three years.

Mr Mohammed told the chief justice that his "opponents" had even gone so far as to perform a mock burial of Ms Bibi, the official said.

Mr Mohammed informed the court that the "murdered" woman had in fact been arrested in another case and is currently serving a sentence in a prison in the city of Gujrat.

The chief justice ordered to the police to present her before him, and she was located and brought before the court.

After verifying the facts, he ordered the release of Mr Mohammed with immediate effect, and said the inquiry should establish whether he was entitled to any compensation.

Pakistani freed after murder victim found alive

Israel's ambassador to Norway has complained to press regulators about a cartoon showing Israeli PM Ehud Olmert as a Nazi concentration camp commander

BBC News:

Miryam Shomrat told the BBC the caricature in Oslo's Dagbladet newspaper went beyond free speech.

Ms Shomrat said it would be open to prosecution in some European countries.

Dagbladet's editor said the caricature was "within the bounds of freedom of expression," according to Norway's NRK state broadcaster.

Ms Shomrat made the official complaint to the Norwegian Press Trade Committee following the publication of the cartoon on 10 July.

In an interview with the BBC's Europe Today, she said however that her protest could not be compared to the outcry in the Muslim world over the publication in a Danish newspaper of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

Lars Helle, Dagbladet's acting editor-in-chief, said the newspaper was taking the complaint seriously.

"But I do not fear that Dagbladet will be found guilty," Mr Helle told the NRK.

The cartoon shows Mr Olmert standing on a balcony in a prison camp.

He is holding a sniper's rifle and a dead man is seen lying on the ground.

The drawing clearly alluded to the Hollywood film Schindler's List, in which a sadistic Nazi commander shoots Jewish prisoners for fun, according to Dagbladet.

Cartoonist likens Olmert to Nazi

Jews Under Attack in Norway

Rise in number of people with HIV in Birmingham, England partially due to African immigrants

Shahid Naqvi:

The number of people who are HIV positive is increasing by about 20 per cent a year in Birmingham and Solihull with the biggest growth among children.

Almost 1,300 adults have been diagnosed with the incurable disease in the area - more than double the number at the beginning of the Millennium.

Among children, the figure has spiralled from less than ten in 2000 to 62 testing HIV positive, with a new child being diagnosed on average every two weeks.

A further 29 babies have been born to HIV infected mothers who may go on to develop the virus.

Health experts blame an increase in people having unprotected sex and an influx of people from other parts of the world where Aids is more prevalent.

They believe the true number of adults carrying the disease is up to a third higher because many do not realise they are infected, increasing the danger of infecting others.

Dr Steve Taylor, lead consultant for HIV services at Birmingham's Heartlands Hospital, said the rise in child infections showed heterosexuals were as much at risk of developing Aids as the gay community.

"The perception is that it is a gay disease. The positive children data testifies to the fact that HIV knows no sexuality boundaries.

"The big message is that if children are affected, then women are affected. If women are affected, it is heterosexual. That shocks many people who consider HIV/Aids is not their problem."

Dr Taylor said all sexually transmitted diseases were on the increase as the mass awareness campaign of the 80s and early 90s became a distant memory.

"People are simply not using condoms and they are having more casual sex so it should come as no surprise that sexually transmitted infections are rising.

"A quarter to a third of people who have HIV don't know they have got it. There are people out there who have got it and don't know they have got it and are having unprotected sex and passing it on."

He also raised concern that people are coming to the UK from countries with very high infection rates.

"If you have immigration from countries like Zimbabwe and South Africa where up to one in three of the population can be infected with HIV then it comes as no surprise a significant proportion of recent migrants will also be infected," he said.

With more than ten new diagnoses every month at Heartlands Hospital, Dr Taylor said there was an urgent need for a new awareness campaign and investment in sexual health services.

"We need to normalise the HIV test and actively promote testing among people who have put themselves at risk," he said.

HIV-positive Zimbabweans find love

HIV/AIDS: A deadly crisis each day in Zimbabwe

'Africa's HIV infection rates frightening'

HIV trust targets city's Africans

HIV-Positive Women Talk It Over in 'Mama's Club'

Mexico ends inquiry into rape-strangulations along the border

Olga R. Rodriguez:

Federal officials have quietly closed a three-year inquiry into the rape-strangulation of 14 women and teenagers in the border city of Juarez, leaving relatives with little hope the killings will ever be solved.

The federal Attorney General's Office intervened in 2003, promising it would try to solve cases plagued for years by allegations of state police corruption and incompetence.

Federal prosecutors privately returned the cases to state authorities in June because they didn't find evidence of a federal crime, according to the Chihuahua state prosecutor's office. The federal Attorney General's Office didn't respond to repeated requests from The Associated Press for comment.

The victims' families weren't told the investigation had been closed; they read it in the local newspaper.

"It fills me with rage, with a feeling of impotence, because they never investigated anything," said Josefina Gonzalez, whose 20-year-old daughter's remains were found with those of seven other young women in 2001.

In addition to those eight killings, federal authorities also dropped investigations into the slayings of six teenagers, aged 15 to 18.

They were among about 100 young women who were sexually assaulted, strangled and dumped in the desert outside Juarez since 1993. The killings appeared to fit a serial pattern. Most of the victims were young, slim brunettes who worked in foreign-owned assembly plants. Many disappeared walking home on unlit streets in working class neighborhoods.

Relatives of the victims have long demanded President Vicente Fox do more to solve the killings in the city of about 1.3 million people across the border from El Paso, Texas. Police made many arrests, but the killings continued.

Women demand Mexico murder probe

In Juarez murders, progress but few answers

Group of men repeatedly rape teen in Mexican border city infamous for killings of women

Will Femicide Stop At The Mexican Border?

More than 80% of black women older than 40 are overweight and more than 53% are obese

Kayce T. Ataiyero:

Last weekend, black comedian Mo'Nique held her second ``Mo'Nique's F.A.T. Chance,'' a beauty pageant for full-figured women who are ``fabulous and thick.'' The popular show, on the Oxygen network, encourages fat women - and the world - to believe they are beautiful by shattering myths about big girls. Fat girls can look sexy in lingerie. Fat girls can ride horses. Fat girls can do choreographed dance numbers.

But what Mo'Nique doesn't tell you is that big girls also have big health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes. Ain't nothing sexy about a stroke.

Obesity in women is one of the most serious public health threats in the country. Of women ages 20 to 74, 62 percent are overweight, according to the American Obesity Association. And 34 percent are obese, which is defined as having a body mass index of 30 or higher. Body mass index is a measure of body fat based on height and weight.

The situation is particularly dire in the black community. More than 80 percent of black women older than 40 are overweight, according to a study released this month by The Cleveland Clinic. More than 53 percent are obese. And the incidences of heart disease, high blood pressure, hypertension and diabetes among black women are at epidemic levels.

These women are the ones Mo'Nique is targeting. She has made a career out of being an overweight woman. And she is at the forefront of one of the more socially irresponsible movements of our time.

For generations, obesity among black women has been deeply rooted in our cultural heritage. African women's wide hips and thick bodies were viewed as well-endowed, affluent, sturdy enough to bear many children. These women ate high-calorie, fatty foods to get the energy they needed to work in the fields.

On a subtle level, African girls learned that African men and families valued large women, said Ruth Johnson, an associate professor of nursing at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina. Those cultural values were transmitted to the United States during slavery, Johnson said in an article analyzing obesity trends in black women.

These early ideals have lingered among black women, despite mainstream society's emphasis on thinness. A 2004 Boston College study of body-image issues among black adolescent girls found that they have high self-esteem about their bodies and, by and large, do not accept white notions of weight.

Many black women have a distorted view of their weight, and that view is reinforced by their cultural aesthetic, said Dr. Cheryl Rucker-Whitaker, assistant professor of preventive medicine at Rush University Medical Center.

``I had a woman in a workshop whose (body mass index) was higher than 30 say to me, `I am not obese, look at me,''' Rucker-Whitaker said. ``They might look good in their clothes or be attractive to their boyfriends, and you have these cultural icons saying it's OK. That is really the wrong message to send.''

To be certain, notions of beauty are not the only culprits. Many factors are converging in this epidemic.

Some researchers point to diet, saying the eating habits of black women have long been influenced by cultural tradition. A LaSalle Bank study released last week said blacks who live in ``food deserts'' - neighborhoods where there are more fast-food restaurants than grocery stores - tend to make poor food choices.

Other studies suggest that black women, particularly those with low income, might be using food to cope with ``psychosocial stress.'' High rates of single motherhood have many black women assuming sole responsibility for sustaining their families, pressure that can prompt compulsive overeating. But higher rates of obesity in black women are seen at all socioeconomic levels.

Though the medical community has mixed opinions on what is hurting black women, it's clear that encouraging them to be overweight is not helping.

Persuading women to love themselves is a good thing. Far too few women of any size have a positive self-image. But too many black women are using our culture's affinity for thicker bodies as a license to carry too much weight. And Mo'Nique's celebration of obesity sets a dangerous example for women who wrongly equate loving themselves with accepting a size that is unhealthy.

U.S. adults losing ground in the battle of the bulge

Key Facts About Childhood Obesity in the Latino Community

Britain should emulate the tough Maltese stance on immigration

Neil Clark:

One sure sign that your country is a fully-paid up member of the EU is when boatloads of illegal immigrants start heading for your shores. It's certainly been the experience of Malta, the small Mediterranean island which acceded to the EU in 2004.

One day last week, no fewer than five such boats arrived, carrying a total of over 150 people. The Maltese government's response was swift and decisive. Police were at hand for four of the landings, while the fifth vessel, a Spanish trawler containing 51 Eritreans, was refused permission to land on the basis that the migrants had been picked up at a point where Malta was not the closest land territory.

For its uncompromising stance, the Maltese government was criticised by the UN refugee agency and pressure groups representing the interests of refugees. But it did exactly the right thing.

Malta is one of the most cohesive societies in Europe, and enjoys low levels of crime. There is a real sense of community and the family unit is strong. A large influx of African migrants, with different faiths and cultures, could easily endanger social cohesion.

In addition, Malta is already crowded enough: after Bangladesh, it is the most densely populated country on earth. The Maltese government's refusal to admit the Eritreans gained domestic support from across the political spectrum.

In the end, Malta allowed one pregnant woman and her child ashore from the boat; the other migrants were flown to Spain and Morocco.

By standing up to the international do-gooders, Malta has sent out a clear signal that it will put the interests of its own people first. Is John Reid's "new-look" immigration service a sign that Britain is - at long last - considering doing the same? Fat chance.

Lack of bed space sees illegal immigrants walk free

EU patrols off Africa due within a few weeks

Two Africans die in new wave of migration

First National Conference to discuss ethical, legal and economic issues of prescribing medical treatments based on race

Vanessa Wong:

Health experts, researchers and opinion leaders from across the country will meet in Northern California for a national conference on genomics, health and race. The goal of the conference is to explore how genomics could potentially be used to customize medical care such as diet plans and medications to improve the health of minorities. Conference attendees will discuss a wide spectrum of ethical, legal and economic issues related to these issues.

The meeting is organized by the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD) Center of Excellence for Nutritional Genomics, based at the University of California, Davis and Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI). Keynote speakers include Nicholas Wade, science writer for the New York Times, and Jeffrey Drazen, M.D., editor of the New England Journal of Medicine and professor at Harvard University. The conference chairman is Ronald Krauss, M.D., Senior Scientist at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI).

"We are moving toward an era in which personalized medicine is a real possibility, but there are real concerns that must be resolved such as safeguards to ensure genetic information will not be used in a discriminatory way," said Dr. Krauss. "We hope this conference will begin a national dialogue to bridge the gap between science and social responsibility." Leading anthropologists and sociologists will also share their views during the conference.

It is widely accepted that biological differences dictate how diseases work between racial groups. For example, a study released by the American Heart Association in 2004 showed that African Americans responded better to a new heart failure pill than Caucasians. Southeast Asians have a higher incidence of lactose intolerance than any other racial group. African-American men also have a 60% greater risk of having prostate cancer and are two to three times more likely to die of the disease than men of European descent. However, a perplexing question for experts is to what extent biological differences are caused by genetics or by a person's diet, environment or culture.

The Center of Excellence for Nutritional Genomics is dedicated to reducing and ultimately eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities. "We believe genome-based nutritional interventions can prevent, delay and treat diseases such as asthma, obesity and cardiovascular disease," said Raymond Rodriquez, M.D., director of the Center and professor at UC Davis. "The knowledge that is gained and shared during this conference must be used to address health disparities among racial/ethnic populations and the poor."

Dr. Bertram Lubin, co-director of the Center and president of Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI), shares this enthusiasm. "Evidence based translational research is the next needed step to realize the tremendous benefits of using genetics to improve health outcomes," he said. "We must make sure patients understand and are at ease about the use of genomics before physicians will ever be able to use it in their day-to-day practice."

Genetic Find Stirs Debate on Race-Based Medicine

Race-Based Medicine Continued...

Race-Based Medicine Arrives

Canada is heading toward conflict with its Muslim population, says the head of a study on Canadian attitudes toward Islam

The Chronicle Herald:

The study indicated that the majority of Canadians held a negative view of Muslim countries.

"There are clearly some tensions," said Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Association for Canadian Studies. "If it is so heavily polarized then the opportunity to generate dialogue may be limited."

Jedwab said Islam is the fastest growing religion in Canada — expected to grow to around 1.4 million followers by 2017 from 2001’s total of about 600,000.

A poll of 1,500 adults found that 52 per cent had a negative view of the relationship between Western democracies and Muslim countries.

Only 25 per cent had a positive view of the relationship.

In Quebec, 67 per cent said they had a negative view of the relationship between the West and Muslim countries.

In Ontario, 48 per cent said the relationship was negative, 39 per cent said the same in Atlantic Canada, 53 per cent in the Prairies, 49 per cent in Alberta and 50 per cent in British Columbia.

The poll also indicated Canadians had a dim view of democracy’s prospects in Muslim countries, with 56 per cent saying they doubted it would take root.

The numbers also indicate foreign policy may become a voting issue in the next election, said Jedwab.

In light of the recent Toronto terror arrests, Jedwab said Canadians now connect international events with domestic issues.

"Foreign policy, in the short period the Conservatives have been in power, has emerged at the very top of the agenda," he said.

One-quarter view Muslims negatively

Islamic cleric Abdul Nacer Benbrika wanted to kill 1000 Australians to please Allah

Natasha Robinson:

Abu Bakr, aka Abdul Nacer Benbrika

A Melbourne court heard yesterday that a witness would reveal that Shane Kent, 29, received weapons and explosives training at the Taliban-run al-Faruq training camp for foreign jihadis in Afghanistan.

And at a meeting with bin Laden in the country, Mr Kent, from Meadow Heights in Melbourne's north, allegedly committed to violent jihad. The alleged Melbourne terror cell's spiritual leader, Mr Benbrika embraced Mr Kent as part of his clique, the court heard, saying: "He's good, and he doesn't talk too much."

Mr Benbrika encouraged his devotees to plan a large-scale terrorist attack, which police foiled during its "developmental stages", the court heard during the opening day of the committal hearing of 13 suspects yesterday.

"If you kill, we kill here 1000," Mr Benbrika allegedly said in a conversation covertly taped by police. "Because if you get large numbers here, the government will listen."

The court heard yesterday that the group was making plans for a backyard explosives laboratory, had held secret training camps and was found with an armoury of weapons and bomb-making manuals.

And some members of the alleged terror cell were anxious to carry out an attack.

According to the police surveillance, Abdulla Merhi, 21, said he "could wait months but not years" to carry out violent jihad.

"You shouldn't kill just one, two or three," Mr Benbrika allegedly responded. "Do a big thing."

"Like Madrid?" Mr Merhi asked, to which Mr Benbrika allegedly replied: "That's it."

Twelve of the accused - Mr Kent, Mr Merhi, Izzydeen Atik, Ahmed Raad, Bassam Raad, Ezzit Raad, Majed Raad, Amer Haddara, Aimen Joud, Fadal Sayadi, Hany Taha and Shoue Hammoud - are charged with being members of a terrorist organisation which Mr Benbrika is alleged to have directed.

They face a range of other charges including making funds available to a terrorist organisation, providing support to a terrorist organisation, and possessing a thing connected with a terrorist act.

Some of the charges carry a maximum prison term of 25 years.

Mr Benbrika is also charged with directing the activities of a terrorist organisation and recruiting a person to join a terrorist organisation.

Court Told Australian Terror Suspects 'Inspired' by Bin Laden

I must preach holy war, says teacher

The day one man infected a community with hatred

Two talked of killing PM, court told

Melbourne trio charged with terrorism offences

'Terror groups in race to bomb Australia'

Black girls to be the target of plans to cut teen pregnancy in Britain

Alexandra Frean:

BLACK and Caribbean girls will be the targets of the Government’s latest drive to bring down the rate of teenage pregnancy, The Times has learnt.

The move has been ordered by Beverley Hughes, the Children’s Minister, who is concerned that teenagers from some ethnic minority groups remain much more likely to become pregnant than their peers from different backgrounds, even after taking into account factors such as deprivation and poor educational achievement.

Ms Hughes said that she wanted agencies working on teenage pregnancy to have the confidence to reach out to and engage with young people from black and minority ethnic (BME) groups. “There are some BME groups, for example Bangladeshi girls in Tower Hamlets, where teenage pregnancy rates are much lower than the norm,” she said. “There are other BME groups where the rates are much higher than the norm.”

Guidance issued today to councils and health authorities by Ms Hughes and Caroline Flint, the Public Health Minister, notes with concern that rates of teenage motherhood are significantly higher than average among mothers of “black Caribbean”, “other black” and “mixed white/black Caribbean” ethnicity.

Black British girls also have proportionately more abortions, accounting for 9 per cent of all terminations to women under 18, even though they make up 3 per cent of the population of women aged 15 to 17.

An analysis of the teen pregnancy data ordered by Ms Hughes found that the best-performing local authority had had a reduction of 42 per cent since the Government’s strategy began in 1999, but rates have increased by 43 per cent in the worst areas.

“What really is striking is that some areas of significant deprivation, such as Liverpool and Hackney, have shown major improvements, while others, such as Manchester and Newcastle, have not,” Ms Hughes said. Areas that had performed the best had appointed a senior official in charge of reducing teenage pregnancies and had good family planning services tailored to the young people in their area.

The new guidance document comes amid concern that the Government’s teenage pregnancy strategy is unlikely to meet its target of halving teenage conceptions by 2010. Britain still has the highest teenage conception rates in Western Europe and the latest official statistics show that pregnancy rates among 15 to 17-year-olds fell by 11 per cent between 1998 and 2004, to 41.5 per 1,000.

Vanessa Bridge, of the Black Health Agency, a non-profit organisation working in Manchester, welcomed the new emphasis on extra sexual health help for BME teenagers, but also argued for more support for girls who chose to become pregnant.

“In this community, it is socially acceptable to be a young mum,” she said. “It may not be ideal, but you are got going to be ostracised by your community or forced into marriage by your parents because this will have happened through many generations of your family. You cannot come in and say this is wrong. But you can teach the benefit of waiting until you are older to have children.”

Duane Jeffers, a project worker at Young Black Peerspectives in Hulme, Manchester, said that it was particularly difficult to break the cycle of teenage pregnancy in the Caribbean community.

He said: “My mother is Caribbean, and I know that it (contraception) is not something that tends to be spoken about. A lot of young men feel they cannot go to parents, aunts or uncles with these issues, so the majority of the time they discuss it with peers. Also, a lot of males run wild and free. They do their own thing without any structure from their parents.”

Fears over drive to cut black teenage pregnancies

Black teen pregnancies 'warning'

IQ of Thai children must be boosted


Thai schools and curricula must be developed to boost the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) levels of Thai children in order to meet the international standard, Education Minister Chaturon Chaisang said here on Thursday.

Mr. Chaturon conceded that the ministry now faces a challenging mission of lifting the IQ levels of the country's younger generation, especially those in schools to meet the recognized standard.

Plans to develop both schools and curricula have been in place, but implementations have been postponed until the new government is formed after the next general election later this year, according to the education minister.

The minister admitted, however, that frequent changes in the education portfolio could affect national education development.

Mr. Chaturon's remarks followed a report at a symposium organized this week by the Ministry of Public Health that Thai children's IQs currently stand at 88 points on average, which are lower than the international standard of 100-110 points.

The report said the problem appears to have caused by an imbalanced development between the children's physical and intelligence strength by concerned parties, particularly parents who have paid more attention on their children's physical healthy than their IQ standard.

Thai children's IQ average low

Thailand Gets Serious About IQ

Experts warn of falling IQ of Thai kids

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

New restrictions for Jews settling in Germany

Daily Mail:

Berlin is planning to make Jews wanting to settle in Germany qualify for the first time on a points system already in place for other would-be residents.

Germany has operated an open-door policy for Jewish migrants ever since the end of WW2 as atonement for the Holocaust engineered by the Nazis which killed six million people. The new restrictions follow recent concerns about integration and reflect Germany's economic problems with unemployment at nearly five million.

Tens of thousands of Jewish migrants arrive annually: last year more settled in Germany than in Israel, most of them from the former Soviet Union.

But now the government wants to regulate the influx with a points system based on education, religious orientation and profession. According to news magazine Der Spiegel, only those Jews who amass at least 50 out of 105 points will be allowed to settle in Germany.

Exceptions will be made for victims of Nazism. Applicants will be evaluated on criteria including age, education, work experience, family status, language ability, relationship to Germany, and country of origin.

Those who meet the required standard will be entitled to move to Germany without having to show proof of employment beforehand. According to Spiegel, the interior ministers of the 16 states of Germany have already agreed to the plan being run in a pilot scheme for one year.

A university graduate will automatically gain 20 points, experience in a profession 10 points, the likelihood of working with Jewish organisations a further 10 points and a good working knowledge of German 25 points.

The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees in Nuremberg will be in charge of administering the tests which government sources say are necessary to stop Jewish organisations in the country being overwhelmed in years to come.

Critics of the open-door policy claim many Jews arriving in Germany have no affinity with the religion whatsoever and have never worshipped in a synagogue but arrive hoping for handouts from Jewish charities.

Study: Economic concerns to trigger anti-Semitism in US, Germany

Germany on watch for Mideast-linked attacks

Report: Germany to slow Jewish immigration

Statistics confirm higher levels of inflammatory diseases among black populations (Source: Health Survey for England 2004)

Black Britain:

Among the general population 22.7 per cent of men and 23.2 per cent of women are obese (a BMI over 30 kg/m2). This compares with 25.2 per cent of black Caribbean men, 32.1 per cent of black Caribbean women and 38.5 per cent of black African women. The exception is black African men who have a lower obesity rate (17.1 per cent).

If we turn our attention to diabetes we find that the rate of doctor-diagnosed diabetes among the general population stands at 4.3 per cent for men and 3.4 per cent for women. But among the black population the rates are more than double ( black Caribbean men 10 per cent and black Caribbean women 8.4 per cent).

As we reported last week on Britain, diabetes can lead to loss of sight and people of African heritage are four times more likely than white people to develop glaucoma – and to develop it at a younger age.

But it does not stop there; black Caribbeans have the highest levels of hypertension (high blood pressure). Among the general population the rates are 31.7 per cent of men and 29.5 per cent of women. But among black Caribbeans the rates are 38.4 per cent for men and 31.7 per cent for women.

Another alarming revelation is the prevalence of asthma in young black boys. Black Caribbean boys (30 per cent) were more likely than boys in the general population (23 per cent) to have had asthma diagnosed by a doctor. However, doctor-diagnosed asthma was less prevalent among Black African boys (17 per cent) and only 9 per cent of black African girls were diagnosed with asthma, compared with 18 per cent among girls in the general population.

So we already have the evidence in the UK of higher levels of inflammatory diseases among the black population. For the record, the problem is just as pronnounced in the Caribbean. The issue of health was discussed at a recent CARICOM meeting in St Kitts, which looked at a report called The Caribbean Commission on Health and Development , headed by Sir George Alleyene, Chancellor of the University of the West Indies. The study showed that deaths resulting from diabetes, hypertension and heart disease were ten times higher than the number resulting from AIDS and HIV and it looked at the high cost to the region of treating these illnesses.

In the USA 3.2 million African Americans aged 20 (13.3 per cent of the population) have diabetes, a third of whom are undiagnosed and on average, African Americans are 1.8 times more likely than hispanics or whites to suffer from diabetes. (Source: National Diabetes Education Program).

On the African continent more than 20 million people are affected by hypertension and its prevalence ranges from 25 per cent to 35 per cent in adults aged between 25 and 64. Each year there are 300,000 deaths as a result of rheumatic heart disease with 20 million people requiring ongoing hospitalisation. So we are beginning to see that inflammatory diseases are a big problem not just for black people in the UK, but also in the USA, the Caribbean and on the African continent. (Source: WHO Africa Report June 2005).

How inflammatory diseases develop and why people of African descent are more susceptible:

Ian Stoakes is a research professor, author and ex-Director of the Dietary Research Foundation. He previously worked in the area of behavioural science looking at the role of inflammation as a means of creating behaviour. But he was keen to understand the cause of the inflammation, a very new area of science.

Doctors in this area of research were saying that they thought it was caused by ‘non-self’ getting into the bloodstream and producing this immune response. ‘Non-self’ put simply is anything that does not originate from the body (nail varnish, for example) and ‘self’ is everything that does come from the body (nails for example).

Doctors looking at this area of research were not able to demonstrate this and were not necessarily interested in looking at this particular aspect of inflammation. But Stoakes approached a manufacturer about what equipment was available to test blood for certain chemicals. Such equipment is not cheap.

Stoakes told Black Britain that when he first became involved in this area of research in the late 1980s a haematology analyser cost around £120,000.He managed to talk a manufacturer into loaning him a machine that he could experiment with. This was how he discovered what causes inflammation.

He told Black Britain: “Inflammation is a response that your body has that is generated by your immune system in response to something which shouldn’t be there.”

A new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association called Ethnic Differences in Arterial Responses and Inflammatory Markers in Afro Caribbean and Caucasian Subjects found that African Caribbean people had “Higher insulin levels and increased inflammatory markers compared with matched Caucasians.”

But what does this mean? Stoakes explained: “If you have more inflammatory receptors than your Caucasian counterparts, you are going to suffer quicker, longer and more intensely.”

So this research points to why black Caribbeans are more prone to develop inflammation, which can lead to inflammatory disease, but the crucial connection is how the process of inflammation takes place, as this is the key to how inflammation can be prevented.

Stoakes confirmed: “The biggest source of non-self that gets into the body three or four times a day is food.” Digestion is the normal process by which the body converts ‘non-self’ food sources into ‘self.’ But if that system breaks down or food is not digested properly, food particles can find their way into the bloodstream and that is where the fireworks begin!

The body’s immune system is then activated and white blood cells begin to attack the ‘non-self’ detected in the bloodstream. One of the major white cells that spring into action is called the neutrophil .

In 1999 Professor Casatella from Verona University in Italy revealed that the neutrophil produces around 50 pro-inflammatory chemicals and that 80 million neutrophil cells are produced each day and they are hugely significant in relation to the development of inflammatory diseases.

Stoakes explained: “An inflammatory illness is the result of inflammation being continued either because the pathogen (non-self) cannot be overcome or because it is continually replaced. This process, in some form or other is the root of all inflammatory illness.”

Survey links higher asthma rates, ethnicity

Low Prepregnancy BMI for Black Women Tied to Vaginal Inflammation, Prematurity

Black Teen-Agers with Severe Athma are Three Times Likely Than White Teens to Have Steroid-Resistant Asthma

Underweight Black Women Risk Preterm Delivery

Dermatology of Pigmented Skin

Racial Average Differences In Inflammation Responses Found

Blacks Need More Asthma Meds

Expelling former Kurdish guerrilla leader mullah Krekar from Norway could take years

Jonathan Tisdall:

Deporting the controversial former Kurdish guerrilla leader mullah Krekar can take anywhere from several months to many years, says Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) researcher Henrik Thune.

Norwegian authorities will not send Krekar back to Iraq until they have guarantees from Iraqi authorities that he does not risk the death penalty or inhumane treatment.

Thune points out that this can take a great deal of time, depending on whether Norwegian authorities are satisfied by formal guarantees, or whether they want to ensure that the guarantees will be carried out in practice.

Norway's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (UD) has the job of securing guarantees for Krekar. UD information adviser Frode Andersen said that the ministry is closely following the reform process in Iraq and the evolving relationship of responsibility between central and local authorities there.

For the time being, Andersen said, it remains unclear who can give the necessary guarantees. Andersen also pointed out that Norwegian immigration authorities, and not the ministry, that make the decision to deport.

Thune believes that the question of the status of Kurds in Iraq is not likely to be resolved in the near future, but that the necessary formal guarantees can be in place in the foreseeable future - after a few months time at the earliest.

But if Norway wishes to be sure that Krekar truly faces no risk in a return to Iraq, the time frame stretches to many years.

"In today's Iraq there is no one who can guarantee a person's safety," Thune said.

Frequent-flier data used to track movements of CIA operatives

Beheading Nations: The Islamization of Europe’s Cities

Release denied for mosque leader

Australian politician calls for an increase in the birth rate

Phillip Coorey:

AUSTRALIA faces a future of social upheaval unless couples start having more children, warns the Treasurer, Peter Costello.

Launching the 2006 Census yesterday, Mr Costello said that without an increased fertility rate, Australia would be forced to buttress its population decline with increased immigration.

This, he said, would change the nation's social composition and lead to problems similar to those being experienced in western European nations such as France, the Netherlands and Denmark.

"There are some European countries with low birthrates and high immigration which have moved into this situation and it has caused a lot of social division. In some of these countries there has been social disruption and violence," he said.

Mr Costello said Australia had benefited from immigration and the biggest waves of immigrants had come when the birthrates were highest.

"It was easier to keep the balance in population because immigrants were being absorbed into a growing population led by fertility," he said.

Australia's fertility rate has recovered in recent years from a 40-year low of 1.73 in 2002-03 to 1.8 in 2004-05.

Mr Costello said the rate needed to be 2.1 for parents to replace themselves but he conceded achieving this rate would be "a very tall order".

He has made an increased birthrate a personal crusade since 2002 when he released the intergenerational report, which warned of an ageing population with too few workers to sustain it.

Allowing more guest workers was not a long-term solution because they were second-class citizens who were not expected to assimilate, were vulnerable to exploitation and became a society within a society, he said.

"Our concept of an immigrant society is that all arrivals are offered the opportunity to become full, first-class citizens. Our culture and history is not compatible with the introduction of guest workers or different tiers of citizenship," he said.

Coining the challenge ahead as "procreate and cherish", Mr Costello said fathers could do a lot more to allow women more flexibility to balance parenthood and career. "I think the mothers of Australia will tell you there is room for improvement; that dads can take more responsibility in relation to children and minding them," he said.

Labor's spokeswoman on work and family, Tanya Plibersek, accused Mr Costello of being in "la-la land". Women and men were working longer hours trying to make ends meet and the Government's new industrial relations laws were family-unfriendly.

"Like so many of Mr Costello's comments, calling on fathers to spend more time at home is just wishful thinking," she said. "It bears no relationship to the reality of people's lives, including his own." She cited the lack of affordable, high-quality child care as the major impediment to women wanting to work.

The census, a five-yearly event, will begin on Friday when more than 30,000 collectors and supervisors begin to hand out forms to every household before census night, August 8. They will return between August 9 and 28 to collect the forms.

Have more babies

Tougher checks will be carried out at Britain's borders in an immigration clampdown - but not until 2014

Daily Mail:

Home Secretary John Reid made the pledge today as he unveiled a raft of changes, including promising to make more stringent checks abroad so only those with permission can travel to the UK, and ensure the number of people leaving was monitored.

In a statement to the Commons on immigration reform, Mr Reid said "counting out" procedures at borders would be reinstated in phases up to 2014. He added that biometric ID requirements would be in place for the highest risk countries by 2008, including taking fingerprints from all visa applicants.

The Home Secretary also confirmed that the Border Control Service would be strengthened and made a "visible, uniformed presence".

To make this possible, Mr Reid said spending on "enforcement and compliance" with immigration rules would be doubled by 2009-10.

Mr Reid was publishing his review of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) which was at the centre of the foreign national prisoners fiasco.

Under the reforms, travellers will be refused permission to board planes, trains or boats if they do not have the right documents.

Plans to put passport control officers in uniform and privatise some of the Immigration Service's operations have already been revealed.

When he took office just over two months ago, the Home Secretary inherited the scandal surrounding the failure to deport more than 1,000 foreign criminals on their release from prison.

His predecessor Charles Clarke was forced out of office over the fiasco, despite saying he wanted to stay in the post in order to sort out the mess.

Weeks after his appointment, Mr Reid told the Commons Home Affairs Committee that the immigration service was "not fit for purpose" and had inadequate leadership.

He was also forced to admit he had no precise figures for the number of illegal immigrants in the country.

He said the Government had inherited a legacy of an unknown number from previous administrations and such people led clandestine lives.

He was forced into the embarrassing admission after Dave Roberts, director of enforcement and removals at the Immigration and Nationality Directorate, told MPs he did not have "the faintest idea" how many illegal immigrants were in Britain.

Mr Reid has said a wholesale transformation of the Home Office is probably needed and refused to rule out splitting it into smaller sections.

He said there were eight priority areas to focus on, including better identifying those involved with the criminal justice, immigration and asylum systems and making it an obligation for criminals to declare their nationality.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg said ahead of today's announcement that it "beggared belief" that the Government had taken nearly a decade to sort out the immigration system.

Last week Mr Reid published two other major reform packages to knock the Home Office into shape and "rebalance" the criminal justice system in favour of the victim.

Mr Clegg said: "It beggars belief that the Government has taken nearly 10 years to sort out the administrative mess of our immigration system. "We need a comprehensive approach to reform, not merely cosmetic changes."

Parts of the Home Office, including areas of the IND, were declared "not fit for purpose" by Mr Reid after the shambles surrounding 1,000 foreign prisoners who were freed without consideration for deportation led to the sacking of Mr Clarke.

Eight year wait for key immigration reform

Reid will 'count every immigrant entering UK'

Will action plan man Reid deliver?

Bush and the NAACP

Ben Johnson:

Last week, President Bush continued his policy of feeding the hand that bites him. In the past, he has allowed Ted Kennedy to gut his education policy, petitioned intransigent Democrats to reform Social Security and Medicare, and sent representatives to reason with Cindy Sheehan. (Who says Bush doesn’t understand when he’s involved in a quagmire?)

This time, Bush went hat-in-hand to one of the prime forces in the racial grievance industry (behind Rainbow/PUSH and CAIR) and learned firsthand capitulation does not pay.

After a five-year boycott, Bush spoke before the NAACP, the organization that blamed him for the dragging death of James Byrd during an election year. The same group chaired by Julian Bond. A few months ago, Bond said, “The Republican Party would have the American flag and the swastika flying side by side” and likened President Bush’s judicial selections to the Taliban. (Although Bond disputes the Nazi remark, a reporter present confirms it.) Despite this unsavory comparison, Bond wrote a comic book in 1967 presenting Ho Chi Minh as a freedom fighter and comparing the Viet Cong to colonial Minutemen.

The NAACP has never withdrawn its ridiculous Byrd blood libel, nor has it apologized for any of its rhetorical excesses (at least publicly). Nevertheless, Bush agreed to address the organization. Bond rewarded Bush’s senseless act of kindness with a lampooning speech that again invoked James Byrd and derided the idea that the real problems facing the black community are “crime, teen-age pregnancy, welfare dependency, and family disintegration.” (Bill Cosby would add inadequate education and ebonics.) The second half exhorted his crowd, “Oppose we must.”

The well sufficiently poisoned, the biggest applause line of the night should have come as no surprise: “I understand that many African-Americans distrust my political party.”

Bush’s oration early highlighted Jesse Jackson’s presence at Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination – although Jesse’s “bloody shirt” was the first of many self-promotional frauds.

The president won plaudits for acknowledging the obvious: “I understand that racism still lingers in America.” So do sexism, “homophobia,” and road rage. Such you have with you always; no law can make people love each other. However, to the extent that government policy encourages racism, it is not anti-black.

This is due in no small part to the NAACP, which for decades has made its top priority opposition to a color-blind society. In addition to promoting Affirmative Action, the allied NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund is heavily involved in overturning a several-hundred-year tradition and granting convicted felons the franchise. “It is time to erase felon disfranchisement laws from the books,” its website overkills. “Indeed, the integrity and legitimacy of America's democracy, and the fulfillment of the promise of the Voting Rights Act and the human sacrifice that led to its passage, depends on it.” To honor the memory of the people who marched at Selma, the NAACP-LDEF has joined in unsuccessful cases such as Farrakhan v. Gregoire.

The fact that “many African-Americans distrust” the president’s political party also has roots with the organization. The NAACP-LDEF filed NAACP v. Harris following the 2000 presidential election, claiming President Bush stole the 2000 election in Florida. (Florida settled in return for making common sense improvements in voter registration.) During that election, this organization theorizes, thousands of blacks were “denied the opportunity to participate meaningfully in the political process.”

The organization not only never withdrew this baseless allegation but cranked up the crank factor in 2004. This time, they accused Ken Blackwell, himself a black man, of throwing the election for Bush. They joined numerous rallies at the state capital of Columbus, including one co-sponsored by “The Pissed Off Voters of Ohio.” More than a month after the election, Greg Moore, executive director of the NAACP National Voter Fund, demanded “a recount of all the votes cast on November 2, 2004, in the state of Ohio; something that never happened in Florida 4 years ago.” “By almost all independent accounts, had the 2000 Florida recount not been halted by the U.S. Supreme Court in December of 2000, it would have led to the election and inauguration of Vice President Al Gore as president,” he misinformed Buckeye voters.

Conspiracymongering, though, is something of a staple of the modern NAACP, ever desperate to assert legitimization for continued existence. At the same NAACP conference graced by the Leader of the Free World, “comedian” Dick Gregory insisted white devils are poisoning black people’s food and drink – and worse, beer! “I murder because something's in my food, something's in my water,” he said on behalf of all murderers-of-color. He found evidence the FBI keeps files proving “polluted water can cause brain damage that turns ordinary people into violent criminals.” That’s why honkies deliberately spike malt liquor with manganese, because, “Once you get so much manganese in you, you will kill your momma.”

The CIA probably puts manganese into the crack it sells in black neighborhoods, when it’s not blowing up levees in New Orleans.

Such rhetoric belongs in meetings of the Ku Klux Klan. It begs the question why the commander-in-chief of the world’s only superpower would want to be associated with such nonsense.

Bush’s motives, as always, were pure: he wanted to improve his image in the black community and used the NAACP gatekeepers to gain access. However, such a group will never enthusiastically respond to the president’s message…about cutting the estate tax. Not speaking at the NAACP two more years would not have hurt him; it apparently cost him no significant support in the past two elections. Had he wished to make a play as “a uniter not a divider,” he could have made an end-run around these leftist gatekeepers, addressing black churches that would have him in. He mentioned his friendship with Rev. Tony Evans in his remarks; he could have appeared on Evans’ nationally syndicated radio program, carried on more than 500 radio stations. He could have spoken with other dynamic figures respected in “the black community.” (Joe Clark is still a Republican.) Better yet, he could have cultivated and appeared with a new generation of black leadership that sees the value in reforming Social Security, increasing home ownership, and holding non-performing schools accountable.

Instead, he squandered a speech by honoring an organization that will never share his politics, that is dedicated to racial demagoguery and vapid fearmongering, and that attacked him before, during, and after his speech.

Bush really should have learned: rewarding one’s enemies is no more successful at home than it is abroad.

Voting Rights For Everyone—Whether Or Not They Speak English

Hispanic and African American students were more likely to fail the California high school exit exam than whites and Asians

Nanette Asimov:

The final tally of high school seniors who failed the statewide exit exam is in: 40,173 students -- more than half of whom would have otherwise graduated this year -- did not pass the test, the state Department of Education announced Friday.

Passing the exit exam was a graduation requirement for the first time this spring, causing anguish for students who had satisfied all other graduation requirements except the test of basic math and English skills.

Based on a poll of the state's largest districts, an estimated 5 percent of all 2006 seniors ultimately did not graduate solely because they couldn't pass the exam, state officials said.

Those students -- who would have qualified for graduation in prior years but leave high school empty-handed this year -- are at the center of a lawsuit that seeks to nullify the exit exam on constitutional grounds. The case goes to a state appeals court for a hearing on Tuesday.

Many of those students tried to pass the test in May, when it was given for the last time before graduation in June. The new results show that only 1,759 seniors managed to pass at that time, compared with 4,542 who succeeded in the March administration of the test.

Statewide, 9 percent of the Class of 2006 failed the exit exam, while seniors at the Bay Area's largest school districts fared worse. In San Francisco, 12 percent of seniors failed, while 13 percent did not pass in the West Contra Costa Unified School District and 43 percent failed in the Oakland Unified School District.

Hispanic and African American students were more likely to fail than their white and Asian counterparts. Through May, 97 percent of white students and 95 percent of Asian students had passed, compared with 85 percent of Hispanic students and 83 percent of African Americans.

Because it takes two months to score the tests, students who passed in May and were otherwise qualified to graduate will now receive their diplomas, many of them in special summer ceremonies organized by their districts. San Francisco Unified, for example, will hand out diplomas to all eligible students in a ceremony later this month.

The law gives students six chances to pass the exit exam between 10th and 12th grade. But state schools Superintendent Jack O'Connell, who wrote the exit exam legislation when he was a state senator in 1999, has said there is no statute of limitations for students who want to continue trying to pass the exam and earn a diploma.

For now, in addition to the regularly scheduled test dates, the state Legislature approved funding in the recently signed budget for two additional administrations of the exam for the class of 2006. The first is next week, and the second is on two Saturdays in December -- English and math on separate days -- to accommodate adult school or independent study students who work.

"I urge these students to continue to work in summer school, take a fifth year of high school, or study in adult school or community college to acquire those important skills in English and math," O'Connell said.

Many students are doing just that.

Iris Padilla, 17, who did not pass the exam despite having satisfied all other graduation requirements at Richmond High, studies English twice a week at Contra Costa Community College. She plans to take the English portion of the test on Tuesday and the math portion on Wednesday.

"I know I'm not going to pass," Iris said.

Like 41 percent of those who haven't passed, Iris speaks little English. She was born in Los Angeles but grew up in Mexico. Now, living with her Spanish-speaking mother in Richmond, she is torn between her need to learn English and her fear of speaking the unfamiliar words.

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