Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Four out of five migrants take more from the British economy than they contribute

James Slack:

The analysis demolishes the Government's key claim that migrants pay more in taxes than they take back in public services.

Instead, a small number of very high earning foreign workers are masking the fact that 80 per cent of immigrants are taking more out of the economy than they contribute over their lifetimes.

Only one in five is earning the £27,000 a year required to make a positive contribution over the course of their lifetime. It means that, if they settle here, they will cost the taxpayer money.

The report's author, Migrationwatch UK, said it proved the case for only highly-skilled economic migrants - such as doctors and engineers - to be allowed to settle in Britain.

It heaps even greater pressure on Home Secretary John Reid to call an end to Labour's 'open door' migration policy.

Sir Andrew Green, Migrationwatch chairman, said: 'The Government and its supporters repeatedly trot out favourable looking statistics which seek to give the impression that immigration in general has a very positive effect on the UK economy.

‘The reality is that immigrants are extremely varied. A minority are highly skilled and highly paid but a large majority will end up as a cost to the taxpayer if they settle here permanently.'

The Government calculates adult migrants make-up 10.6 per cent of the population, but contribute 10.9 per cent of the country's Gross Domestic Product - its total economic output.

This is the basis for its claim they make a 'small but positive' contribution to the economy.

But, using the Government's own Labour Force Survey, Migrationwatch says this calculation fails to show the full picture.

To make a positive contribution to GDP over the course of a person's lifetime, they must earn £27,000 a year.

This is the equivalent of paying £7,600 a year in income tax and other taxation, and would cover the costs of healthcare and other public services into retirement.

Only 20 per cent of migrants achieve this. But, many of those that do - such as financiers, engineers and NHS consultants - earn large amounts of money.

This makes it appear that migrants in general are making a positive contribution to GDP when, in fact, they are only a small minority of the total number.

Some eight out of ten earn less than £27,000, with a large number - including many eastern Europeans - on the minimum wage of less than £10,000 a year.

EU immigration is not the problem

Immigration is not the solution to our skills shortage

We are importing misery and despair

Principal steps down over comments on black students' test scores

Associated Press:

A high school principal who singled out black students' poor test scores over the school's intercom system is leaving her position.

The Everman Independent School District yesterday announced Kathy Culbertson's departure.

Culbertson made the comments during an address on the first day of classes at Everman High School. She said black students who failed math on the state's accountability test had caused the school to be rated unacceptable.

The remarks set off a racially charged debate at the suburban Fort Worth campus, which is about 59 percent black.

Culbertson says her remarks were intended to be motivational and not derogatory.

Low scores among black students on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills reduced the school's rating to academically unacceptable this year. Under the state's accountability system, a school fails if any subgroup of students does not meet standards.

Everman high school principal resigns over remarks

Overreacting in Everman

Obama criticizes Africa

Washington Times:

If Africans welcoming home a native son thought that rising Democratic star Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois came only in praise of the continent of his roots, they were mistaken.

In South Africa last week, he took the government to task for its tepid response to the AIDS epidemic that has ravaged sub-Saharan Africa. He also criticized the government of President Thabo Mbeki for its "quiet diplomacy" with Zimbabwe, demanding that more pressure be put on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

Kenya risks losing its status as a model of African democracy if it does not urgently crack down on corruption that has reached crisis levels and stifled development, Mr. Obama said yesterday.

Western nations must ensure they practice what they preach to African nations about graft, said Mr. Obama, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who is using the trip in part to polish his credentials in foreign policy.

"While corruption is a problem we all share, here in Kenya it is a crisis -- a crisis that's robbing an honest people of the opportunities they have fought for," Mr. Obama told an audience at the University of Nairobi.

Mr. Obama, born in Hawaii to a Kenyan father and white American mother, is on his first trip to Kenya since being elected to the Senate in 2004 and has become an idol to many in the East African country, who see him as a native son.

The senator, who stopped in South Africa last week, also will travel to Djibouti and Chad, to visit refugees from Sudan's Darfur region, on a trip he hopes will bring new focus on Africa's importance.

He scrapped plans to visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda at the request of the U.S. Embassy in Congo because of postelection fighting in that country's capital, Kinshasa.

Anti corruption official unhappy with Obama's remarks

Obama ends "feel good" Kenya visit

Sorcery and homelessness in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Edmund Sanders:

Naomi Ewowo had just lost her parents when her family branded her a witch. She was 5.

After her mother and father died unexpectedly less than a month apart, Naomi's care fell to relatives who struggled to cope with the tragedy. They sought counsel from a neighborhood "prophet," who warned that a sorcerer was hiding in their midst. Soon all eyes turned on the family's youngest, most vulnerable member.

"They blamed me for killing my parents," said Naomi, now 10, nervously swinging her short legs under the seat of a chair. The girl eventually was cast out by relatives and lived on the streets until she moved to a rescue center three months ago.

"They say I ate my father. But I didn't. I'm not a witch."

On a continent where belief in black magic and evil spirits is common, witch hunts are nothing new, usually targeting older, unmarried women. But in the Democratic Republic of Congo, there's a new twist to this ancient inquisition. A majority of those said to be involved in witchcraft and sorcery are children, and such allegations against them are the No. 1 cause of homelessness among youths.

Of the estimated 25,000 children living on the streets of Kinshasa, the capital, more than 60% had been thrown out of their homes by relatives accusing them of witchcraft, child-welfare advocates say. The practice is so rampant that Congo's new constitution, adopted in December, includes a provision outlawing allegations of sorcery against children.

A rise in religious fundamentalism, revival churches and self-proclaimed prophets is one cause. More than 2,000 churches in Kinshasa offer "deliverance" services to ward off evil spirits in children, the group Human Rights Watch says.

"Some prophets who run these churches have gained celebrity-like status, drawing in hundreds of worshipers in lucrative Sunday services because of their famed 'success' in child exorcism ceremonies," the group said in an April report.

But chronic poverty is the real culprit, some experts say. Decades of dictatorship, instability and war have unraveled the nation's social fabric, tearing apart traditional family and tribal support systems. It's no coincidence that the vast majority of accused children come from poor, broken homes. Most are orphans or have lost one or both parents to divorce or abandonment.

When relatives are unable or unwilling to cope with an additional mouth to feed, they may look for ways to get rid of the child, said Charlotte Wamu, a counselor at Solidarity Action for Distressed Children, which assists street children. In Africa, kicking out a family member, even a distant relative, is considered shameful, but allegations of witchcraft provide a convenient and hard-to-disprove justification.

"It's always the stepmother who finds witchcraft in the stepchild, not in her own," Wamu said. "The sorcerer is your dead brother's child, never yours."

Congo's homeless children building lives on the streets

Congo risks plague epidemic - aid group

D.R. Congo: Election Poses Dangers for Street Children

DR Congo's unhappy child 'witches'

A majority of Americans back anti-terrorism racial profiling

Jason Szep:

Most Americans expect a terrorist attack on the United States in the next few months and support the screening of people who look "Middle Eastern" at airports and train stations, a poll showed on Tuesday.

The Quinnipiac University Polling Institute said 62 percent of Americans were "very worried" or "somewhat worried" that terrorists would strike the nation in the next few months while 37 percent were "not too worried" or "not worried at all."

The poll of 1,080 voters, conducted August 17-23, comes as many Americans are jittery after British authorities foiled a plot to blow up planes but is broadly in line with other surveys on expectations for another attack since September 11.

By a 60 percent to 37 percent margin, respondents said authorities should single out people who look "Middle Eastern" for security screening at locations such as airports and train stations -- a finding that drew sharp criticism by civil liberties groups.

Poll: Americans think Sept. 11 more significant than Pearl Harbor

SAT scores are sinking in Massachusetts

Nicole Martinez:

Lynn Classical High School Vice Principal Gene Constantino said his school is following a current trend in the state after its drop in SAT scores.

Statistics released Tuesday show the average reading and math SAT scores of Massachusetts students has dropped for the first time in 14 years.

The average reading score was 513, down from 520 in 2005. In math, the average score was 524, down from 527.

Although Classical's math scores have actually risen by three points, verbal scores dropped by four.

"I believe it is because the emphasis in curriculum has changed," Constantino said. "More emphasis has been put on preparing students for the MCAS than the SATs."

But Constantino said the school is working toward getting students the help they need."There are courses being offered at North Shore Community College (after school)," he said. "And teachers have been willing to help students electronically."

Although Lynn Classical's verbal scores have dropped slightly since last year from 455 to 451, their math scores rose from a 453 to 456.

Lynn English has scores of 444 for math and 437 for reading, while Lynn Tech scores are 388 for math and 384 for reading.

Massachusetts still scored above the national average of 503 in reading and 518 in math, which dropped five points and two points, respectively, from last year's national averages.

Lynn English principal Andrew Fila said computerized SAT prep courses are offered at his school.

College Board officials said fatigue might have been a factor because of a new writing test that added 45 minutes to the exam.

The board also said that some students who took the SAT in 2005 might have chosen not to take it again to avoid the longer test.

Constantino, however, said he does not feel the extra 45 minutes has made any difference with Classical students.

"Most colleges haven't even looked at those scores yet," he said.

Massachusetts scored 510 on the new writing exam, above the national average of 497.

"While any drop in performance is unsettling, without a multiyear drop in our numbers it is impossible to tell if this is the start of a downward trend, or merely a blip we will make up next year," State Education Commissioner David Driscoll said. "Regardless, this is something we will watch closely over the coming school year."

The state still showed an achievement gap among races, with white and Asian students scoring better than black and Hispanic students in all three tests.

Whites scored highest in the reading test, with 524, compared to 506 for Asians, 444 for Hispanics and 430 for blacks.

Asians scored an average of 577 on the math test, compared to 534 for whites, 447 for Hispanics and 430 for blacks.

On the writing test, whites scored 525, Asians scored 508, Hispanics scored 437 and blacks scored 426.

Black students dropped one point in reading and three in math, compared to last year. Hispanics gained three points in reading and dropped two in math.

State sees drop in student SAT scores

Wash's 2006 high school grads top national average in SAT results

Local SAT scores down, following state trend

Wisconsin beats national average on SAT scores

A Few Students Get The SAT Just Right

Lower Scores, Fewer Students

Europeans may be 5% Neanderthal

Roger Highfield:

People who have large noses, a stocky build and a beetle brow may indeed be a little Neanderthal, according to a genetic study. But the good news is that other research concludes that Neanderthals were much more like us than previously thought.

People of European descent may be five per cent Neanderthal, according to a study published in the journal PLoS Genetics, which suggests we all have a sprinkling of archaic DNA in our genes.

"Instead of a population that left Africa 100,000 years ago and replaced all other archaic human groups, we propose that this population interacted with another population that had been in Europe for much longer, maybe 400,000 years," says Dr Vincent Plagnol, of the University of Southern California, who with Dr Jeffrey Wall analysed 135 different regions of the human genetic code.

They looked at 34 people from Utah with ancestors from Northern and Western Europe and Yoruba people from West Africa. Using statistics and computer modelling, the researchers focused on linkage "disequilibriums", or sections within genes that did not make sense if only modern human matings are considered.

The missing genetic links only fit if some other hominid population is introduced. "We found that a simple model cannot explain the data if we do not add an 'ancestral population'," said Dr Plagnol.

Dr Plagnol explains that different parts of the genome have different ancestry, so an individual could have a fraction of a certain chromosome that is inherited from a Neanderthal, but still have mitochondrial DNA which is "very typical Homo sapiens".

A second study has concluded that Neanderthals were much more like modern humans than had been previously thought, after finds from one of the most famous palaeolithic sites in Europe were re-examined by Bristol University archaeologist, Prof Joao Zilhao, and his French colleagues.

Prof Zilhao has been able to show that sophisticated artefacts such as personal ornaments found in the Châtelperronian culture of France and Spain were genuinely associated with Neanderthals around 44,000 years ago, rather than acquired from modern humans living nearby.

Neanderthals: Still in Our Genes?

Possible ancestral structure in human populations

Sam Francis’ Race and the American Prospect: Thoughtfully Scandalous

The New York Times and the Duke rape hoax

Stuart Taylor Jr:

Imagine you are the world's most powerful newspaper and you have invested your credibility in yet another story line that is falling apart, crumbling as inexorably as Jayson Blair's fabrications and the flawed reporting on Saddam Hussein's supposed WMD. What to do?

If you're the New York Times and the story is the alleged gang rape of a black woman by three white Duke lacrosse players—a claim shown by mounting evidence to be almost certainly fraudulent—you tone down your rhetoric while doing your utmost to prop up a case that's been almost wholly driven by prosecutorial and police misconduct.

And by bad journalism. Worse, perhaps, than the other recent Times embarrassments. The Times still seems bent on advancing its race-sex-class ideological agenda, even at the cost of ruining the lives of three young men who it has reason to know are very probably innocent. This at a time when many other true believers in the rape charge, such as feminist law professor Susan Estrich, have at last seen through the prosecution's fog of lies and distortions.

Enough from Duff


Boulder, Durham, and Sham Justice

Duke Lacrosse (Supposed) Rape Case: New “Evidence” Doesn’t Seem To Help Prosecution

A 12-year-old Scottish girl has been kidnapped and taken to Pakistan - for a forced marriage to a man aged 25

Karen Bale:

Molly Campbell was snatched from her school on the isle of Lewis on Friday and flown 4500 miles to her dad Sajad Rana's homeland.

Last night the youngster's distraught granny said she believes he will now make Molly become a child bride.

Violet Robertson, 67, said: "It's just terrible. Molly is only a little girl. It's an arranged marriage. She doesn't know the man. He's 25.

"Molly doesn't want to go to Pakistan. She wants to stay with her mum."

Violet claimed that Sajad had tried before to abduct Molly, whose given name is Misbah Iram Ahmed Rana.

UK: 12 Year Old Abducted For Forced Marriage In Pakistan

'We miss you so much, Molly, we just want you back home'

Interpol alert for snatched girl, 12

End of innocence

Mother in tearful appeal over 'Pakistan abduction' girl

Three more men have appeared in a British court charged in connection with an alleged plot to bomb transatlantic aircraft

BBC News:

Mohammed Shamin Uddin, 35, Mohammed Yasar Gulzar, 25, and Nabeel Hussain, 22, are accused of conspiracy to murder and preparing an act of terrorism.

The men, all from London, were remanded in custody by City of Westminster magistrates until 18 September, when they will appear at the Old Bailey.

Eight other men have already been remanded on the same charges.

A further four people are facing other charges - three with failing to disclose information and a 17-year-old boy with possessing articles useful to a person preparing terrorism acts.

Officers have until Wednesday to question five other people still being held, after which time they must charge or release them or apply for more time to question them.

All the suspects were arrested in raids in London, Birmingham and High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.

Mr Uddin, from Stoke Newington, north London, Mr Gulzar, from Barking, east London, and Mr Hussain, from Chingford, east London, are accused of conspiring between 1 January and 10 August 2006 to murder other persons.

They are also charged with planning to intend "to smuggle the component parts of improvised explosive devices onto aircraft and assemble and detonate them on board" contrary to section 5 (1) of the Terrorism Act 2006.

Mr Hussain's brothers, Mehran and Umair, are among the four people facing less serious charges.

They have been accused of failing to disclose information about Nabeel Hussain's alleged activities.

Custody Extended for 3 British Suspects

UK: Request For Muslim Terror Suspect's Extradition From Pakistan

Piggybacking on Terror in Britain

Migration is changing the composition of Britain

Philip Johnston:

Immigration to Britain today is fundamentally different from previous settlements because it is changing the composition of the nation, the head of the Commission for Racial Equality said last night.

Trevor Phillips, who provoked controversy last year by challenging the concept of multiculturalism and saying that Britain was "sleepwalking to segregation", said the social significance of the current wave of immigration was being overlooked.

More young people were arriving to compete for jobs with settled workers and a growing number of incomers were setting up their own institutions, such as churches, shops and media outlets.

Also, high levels of emigration by British nationals, at a time of record immigration, were having an impact on the make-up of the country.

"The result is that, though the total population numbers may not rise hugely, the composition of the population changes," Mr Phillips said in a speech to the Royal Geographical Society, in London.

He said that while the white ethnic population had fallen over the past 20 years there had been a 96 per cent increase in the number of ethnic minority Britons.

"We desperately need immigrants to sustain our workforce," he said. "But in this new world of more rapid and more diverse immigration, coupled with an unprecedented threat to global security, we cannot continue to pretend that there are no costs faced by our changing communities."

Most Britons Want Tougher Immigration Laws

Flight of the white middle class creates a split between have-a-lots and have-nots in New Jersey

Steve Chambers:

New Jersey remains the nation's wealthiest state, but its population is increasingly divided along lines of race and class as lower- and middle-income whites leave in growing numbers.

The findings come from a voluminous array of U.S. Census information released yesterday. The most comprehensive sampling in five years documents trends in income, immigration, commuting and race.

The statistics show that between 2000 and 2005, income levels of Asians and whites in New Jersey jumped 18.7 percent and 15 percent, respectively, boosting the state's median household income to $61,672. At the same time, the incomes of black and Hispanic residents lagged behind at less than half that rate, far behind the inflation rate of 17 percent.

White flight … to Brooklyn

More are getting less in county

Poverty among Central Florida's Hispanics rose from 2000 to 2005

Babita Persaud:

One in five Hispanics in the seven-county area was living below the poverty line -- 20 percent were poor in 2005 compared with 17 percent five years previously, figures show. That adds up to more than 108,600 people.

By comparison, the number of poor blacks in Central Florida dropped from 25 percent in 2000 to 21 percent last year, equivalent to just more than 95,000 people.

Among whites, poverty has remained the same at 8 percent -- nearly 184,500 people in Orange, Seminole, Brevard, Lake, Osceola, Volusia and Polk counties.

"In my 20 years in Orlando, I have never seen so many homeless among Hispanics," said Marytza Sanz, president of Latino Leadership.

A misconception is that poor Hispanics are illegal immigrants, Sanz said.

"These are U.S. citizens trying to survive," she said.

The federal government defines the average poverty threshold at a little less than $20,000 for a family of four and just under $10,000 for an individual.

Other than the elderly, children younger than 5 were the biggest group of those living under the poverty line in Central Florida last year: 15,089 black children, 16,277 Hispanic children and 12,837 white children.

"Traditionally, it has been mostly adults, but now we are seeing more homeless families, people living in their cars," said Carmen Hernandez, a supervisor with Catholic Social Services of Central Florida.

Sanz remembers parents at a recent community fair, eager to receive free backpacks for their children.

"If you listen to the people, they are saying, 'We are going through a tough time,' " Sanz said.

Dave Krepcho, executive director of Second Harvest Food Bank, said many of the people in the statistics would be described as the "working poor."

Nationally, poverty rates remained statistically unchanged for blacks -- 24.9 percent -- and for Hispanics, 21.8 percent. One reason Hispanics seem to be doing worse in Central Florida than nationally is their dependence on low-paying service jobs that make up so much of the local economy, Krepcho said.

The national poverty rate among all groups remained the same at 12.6 percent. The census found 37 million people living in poverty in 2005 -- 7.7 million of those in families, a slight drop from 2004.

Among children the poverty rate was 17.6 percent, and as in years past, it remains greater than the poverty rate of people older than 65. Among seniors, the poverty rate climbed from 3.5 million in 2004 to 3.6 million in 2005.

Tuesday's announcement came from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, which is conducted every year and are estimates based on sample surveys, as compared with the population count of every decade.

Among other national findings:

Median household income rose by 1 percent between 2004 and 2005, reaching $46,326. Among racial groups, median income remained statistically unchanged, with black households having the lowest median income in 2005 at $30,858; Asians had the highest at $61,094 and Hispanics had $35,967. Among whites, the median income was $50,784.

Texas poverty 'has not gotten better'

Census: Income in state tops U.S.

Bigger share of blacks than whites feels pinch

Lower Hudson balances extremes of wealth and poverty

Tucson's 20 percent poverty rate highest among Arizona cities

D.C. Suburbs Top List Of Richest Counties

U.S. household income rises a bit, but poverty rate maintains its grip

An Afghan-American is being held in San Francisco on suspicion of 14 counts of attempted murder

Juliana Barbassa:

The driver in a bloody hit-and-run spree that killed one man and injured more than a dozen people was mentally unstable and had been undergoing stress from a recent arranged marriage, according to relatives.

Omeed A. Popal, 29, of Fremont, was taken into custody Tuesday following a 20-minute rampage that terrorized pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists throughout San Francisco. Authorities believe it began more than an hour earlier when his black Honda Pilot fatally struck a man in Fremont.

"He drove on sidewalks, streets, hit people on crosswalks. It runs the gamut," said San Francisco police spokesman Sgt. Neville Gittens.

Popal was arrested on suspicion of 14 counts of attempted murder and 1 count of willful flight after causing serious injury or death, Gittens said.

A woman who identified herself as Popal's cousin said he had been having recurring nightmares about someone coming to kill him and had been taking medication.

"He thought the devil was coming to him," said Zargona Ramish, who went to the family's home Tuesday afternoon while Popal's relatives were speaking with police. "He is a very good person. He is not like that. What's wrong with him?"

Another cousin, Hamid Nekrawesh, said a recent arranged marriage in Afghanistan, where his family is from, may have contributed to Popal's problems.

"The kid grew up here. He wasn't used to the lifestyle in Afghanistan. I'm sure that put a lot of pressure on him," Nekrawesh said.

Relatives: Rampage suspect may have been stressed over wedding

Bay Area Driver Goes on Rampage

THE SUSPECT: Recently began arranged marriage

Claim: San Fran killer called himself 'terrorist'

Over 40 Algerians and Guineans have started a fourth week on hunger strike in central France in an attempt to get temporary residence rights

BBC News:

The group of 44 - three of them women - want 12-month residence permits. They are occupying a former police station in the city of Limoges.

In June the French parliament adopted a new law tightening the entry rules for immigrants' dependents.

Some immigrant families with school-age children are to get residence permits.

The authorities are examining applications from thousands of illegal immigrants as part of the plan to regularise the status of about 800 sans-papiers (without papers) families.

The condition is that the families must have children who were born and brought up in France.

But the new immigration law makes it harder for unskilled migrants to settle in France.

A spokesman for the hunger strikers in Limoges, Houssni el-Rherabi, complained of "always having to hide for fear of checks which would lead to detention".

"We don't work, we flee the boss, the bailiffs. We go to charities for our food, especially food for our children. It's better to die in dignity, for dignity's sake," he told the French news agency AFP.

The French Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, introduced the new law in a drive to curb illegal immigration and promote selective immigration based on skills - a system similar to the Australian or US models.

The French government believes up to 400,000 people are now living in France illegally.

Out of Africa - Illegal Immigrants, Crime, Terrorism, Polygamy And Aids

Muslims in the United States are becoming increasingly Islamic

Geneive Abdo:

If only the Muslims in Europe -- with their hearts focused on the Islamic world and their carry-on liquids poised for destruction in the West -- could behave like the well-educated, secular and Americanizing Muslims in the United States, no one would have to worry.

So runs the comforting media narrative that has developed around the approximately 6 million Muslims in the United States, who are often portrayed as well-assimilated and willing to leave their religion and culture behind in pursuit of American values and lifestyle. But over the past two years, I have traveled the country, visiting mosques, interviewing Muslim leaders and speaking to Muslim youths in universities and Islamic centers from New York to Michigan to California -- and I have encountered a different truth. I found few signs of London-style radicalism among Muslims in the United States. At the same time, the real story of American Muslims is one of accelerating alienation from the mainstream of U.S. life, with Muslims in this country choosing their Islamic identity over their American one.

A new generation of American Muslims -- living in the shadow of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks -- is becoming more religious. They are more likely to take comfort in their own communities, and less likely to embrace the nation's fabled melting pot of shared values and common culture.

Part of this is linked to the resurgence of Islam over the past several decades, a growth as visible in Western Europe and the United States as it is in Egypt and Morocco. But the Sept. 11 attacks also had the dual effect of making American Muslims feel isolated in their adopted country, while pushing them to rediscover their faith.

From schools to language to religion, American Muslims are becoming a people apart. Young, first-generation American Muslim women -- whose parents were born in Egypt, Pakistan and other Islamic countries -- are wearing head scarves even if their mothers had left them behind; increasing numbers of young Muslims are attending Islamic schools and lectures; Muslim student associations in high schools and at colleges are proliferating; and the role of the mosque has evolved from strictly a place of worship to a center for socializing and for learning Arabic and Urdu as well as the Koran.

Arab Press Says Jews Perpetrated 9/11 Attacks

Al-Jazeera Is Poisoning The Arab Mind

Hurricane Katrina may not have pounded Houston, but a year later the city is reeling from an ugly aftermath of the storm - a surging crime wave

Philip Sherwell:

The murder rate in the Texan city has soared by almost 20 per cent since 150,000 Katrina evacuees arrived in August last year. According to police statistics, they are involved - as victim or killer - in one of every five homicides.

In the gun stores and on the shooting ranges of America's oil industry capital, business is booming as fearful locals take their defence into their own hands and buy concealed weapons licences that allow them to travel armed.

Although 9mm semi-automatic pistols are the easiest gun to carry, Jim Pruett, an arms salesman, says that his "looter shooter" - a pistol-grip, pump shotgun retailing at $370 (£200) - is also a big seller. "We've seen a 50 per cent increase in people taking our concealed weapons courses since the Katrina evacuees arrived," he said. "They are scared and they want to be able to defend themselves." Audrey Nelson, 63, a native of Trowbridge, Wiltshire, who moved to Houston 30 years ago with her Texan husband, Phil, knows all about the reality of the chilling crime statistics.

Despite the violent reputation of some American cities, the school headmistress never imagined that she would be too scared to take her dog for an evening walk around the affluent Houston suburb of Westchase. That was before thousands of Katrina evacuees were moved into nearby blocks of flats, which had previously been scheduled for demolition to make way for luxury condominiums. Just a few minutes' walk from the Nelsons' well-kept home, a 64-year-old man was shot dead at a car wash earlier this month when he refused to hand over money to four young men armed with a pistol. Three teenagers from New Orleans have since been arrested and the murder weapon was also traced to the Louisiana city.

"We opened our arms to these people after what they had experienced," said Mrs Nelson, who has lived in the area for 24 years. "At my school, we collected clothes and toys and sleeping bags; anything we could to help them. But now we've seen what's happened to our pleasant community and realised that many never plan to leave, the mood has changed."

The Rev Walter Ellis, the vicar at the Church of the Ascension in Westchase, said: "There was a tremendous groundswell of goodwill and support for these people, but that is fast drying up. "This was a nice place to live with a community atmosphere before, but now car-jackings and homicides are a way of life around here. "People are scared to walk alone at night. Some are getting guns, some are getting dogs, some are getting new security fences, many just want to leave. It's a great shame."

In Westchase, residents do not want to talk about buying guns, fearful it will only make them more of a target. But a local business-woman said: "I always hated guns and would never touch one. I could not understand the mindset of the women I knew in Houston who not only owned and handled guns but drove around town with one in the car. "But never is a word we should not use. Six months ago, with my blessing, my husband bought a gun and went, with our 23-year-old daughter, to a class to learn how to use it, clean it and learn the laws that go with it. After another recent murder, I now have one too, although it still freaks me out." Texas offered shelter to nearly 400,000 evacuees from Louisiana at one stage, including thousands ferried by bus from the squalid nightmare of the New Orleans Superdome. About 250,000 are still scattered across the state.

Many lost everything in the storm and are now dependant on government subsidies to support them in Texas. Sixty per cent of the evacuees are unemployed and two-thirds say they expect to make Houston their permanent home.

New Orleans has set up an office to help exiles head home, but many Houstonites suspect that there is no concerted drive to organise their return. It is a sad twist that some long-term locals are now planning to evacuate Westchase instead.

Road To Recovery Hard For Some Evacuees In N. TX

What We Should Have Learned From Katrina

Drug gangs taking New Orleans by storm

Katrina evacuee fatally shot in Houston

The mystery of China's celtic mummies

Clifford Coonan:

Solid as a warrior of the Caledonii tribe, the man's hair is reddish brown flecked with grey, framing high cheekbones, a long nose, full lips and a ginger beard. When he lived three thousand years ago, he stood six feet tall, and was buried wearing a red twill tunic and tartan leggings. He looks like a Bronze Age European. In fact, he's every inch a Celt. Even his DNA says so.

But this is no early Celt from central Scotland. This is the mummified corpse of Cherchen Man, unearthed from the scorched sands of the Taklamakan Desert in the far-flung region of Xinjiang in western China, and now housed in a new museum in the provincial capital of Urumqi. In the language spoken by the local Uighur people in Xinjiang, "Taklamakan" means: "You come in and never come out."

The extraordinary thing is that Cherchen Man was found - with the mummies of three women and a baby - in a burial site thousands of miles to the east of where the Celts established their biggest settlements in France and the British Isles.

DNA testing confirms that he and hundreds of other mummies found in Xinjiang's Tarim Basin are of European origin. We don't know how he got there, what brought him there, or how long he and his kind lived there for. But, as the desert's name suggests, it is certain that he never came out.

His discovery provides an unexpected connection between east and west and some valuable clues to early European history.

One of the women who shared a tomb with Cherchen Man has light brown hair which looks as if it was brushed and braided for her funeral only yesterday. Her face is painted with curling designs, and her striking red burial gown has lost none of its lustre during the three millenniums that this tall, fine-featured woman has been lying beneath the sand of the Northern Silk Road.

The bodies are far better preserved than the Egyptian mummies, and it is sad to see the infants on display; to see how the baby was wrapped in a beautiful brown cloth tied with red and blue cord, then a blue stone placed on each eye. Beside it was a baby's milk bottle with a teat, made from a sheep's udder.

Based on the mummy, the museum has reconstructed what Cherchen Man would have looked like and how he lived. The similarities to the traditional Bronze Age Celts are uncanny, and analysis has shown that the weave of the cloth is the same as that of those found on the bodies of salt miners in Austria from 1300BC.

The burial sites of Cherchen Man and his fellow people were marked with stone structures that look like dolmens from Britain, ringed by round-faced, Celtic figures, or standing stones. Among their icons were figures reminiscent of the sheela-na-gigs, wild females who flaunted their bodies and can still be found in mediaeval churches in Britain. A female mummy wears a long, conical hat which has to be a witch or a wizard's hat. Or a druid's, perhaps? The wooden combs they used to fan their tresses are familiar to students of ancient Celtic art.

At their peak, around 300BC, the influence of the Celts stretched from Ireland in the west to the south of Spain and across to Italy's Po Valley, and probably extended to parts of Poland and Ukraine and the central plain of Turkey in the east. These mummies seem to suggest, however, that the Celts penetrated well into central Asia, nearly making it as far as Tibet.

The Celts gradually infiltrated Britain between about 500 and 100BC. There was probably never anything like an organised Celtic invasion: they arrived at different times, and are considered a group of peoples loosely connected by similar language, religion, and cultural expression.

The eastern Celts spoke a now-dead language called Tocharian, which is related to Celtic languages and part of the Indo-European group. They seem to have been a peaceful folk, as there are few weapons among the Cherchen find and there is little evidence of a caste system.

Even older than the Cherchen find is that of the 4,000-year-old Loulan Beauty, who has long flowing fair hair and is one of a number of mummies discovered near the town of Loulan. One of these mummies was an eight-year-old child wrapped in a piece of patterned wool cloth, closed with bone pegs.

The Loulan Beauty's features are Nordic. She was 45 when she died, and was buried with a basket of food for the next life, including domesticated wheat, combs and a feather.

The Taklamakan desert has given up hundreds of desiccated corpses in the past 25 years, and archaeologists say the discoveries in the Tarim Basin are some of the most significant finds in the past quarter of a century.

"From around 1800BC, the earliest mummies in the Tarim Basin were exclusively Caucausoid, or Europoid," says Professor Victor Mair of Pennsylvania University, who has been captivated by the mummies since he spotted them partially obscured in a back room in the old museum in 1988. "He looked like my brother Dave sleeping there, and that's what really got me. Lying there with his eyes closed," Professor Mair said.

It's a subject that exercises him and he has gone to extraordinary lengths, dodging difficult political issues, to gain further knowledge of these remarkable people.

East Asian migrants arrived in the eastern portions of the Tarim Basin about 3,000 years ago, Professor Mair says, while the Uighur peoples arrived after the collapse of the Orkon Uighur Kingdom, based in modern-day Mongolia, around the year 842.

A believer in the "inter-relatedness of all human communities", Professor Mair resists attempts to impose a theory of a single people arriving in Xinjiang, and believes rather that the early Europeans headed in different directions, some travelling west to become the Celts in Britain and Ireland, others taking a northern route to become the Germanic tribes, and then another offshoot heading east and ending up in Xinjiang.

This section of the ancient Silk Road is one of the world's most barren precincts. You are further away from the sea here than at any other place, and you can feel it. This where China tests its nuclear weapons. Labour camps are scattered all around - who would try to escape? But the remoteness has worked to the archaeologists' advantage. The ancient corpses have avoided decay because the Tarim Basin is so dry, with alkaline soils. Scientists have been able to glean information about many aspects of our Bronze Age forebears from the mummies, from their physical make-up to information about how they buried their dead, what tools they used and what clothes they wore.

In her book The Mummies of Urumchi, the textile expert Elizabeth Wayland Barber examines the tartan-style cloth, and reckons it can be traced back to Anatolia and the Caucasus, the steppe area north of the Black Sea. Her theory is that this group divided, starting in the Caucasus and then splitting, one group going west and another east.

Even though they have been dead for thousands of years, every perfectly preserved fibre of the mummies' make-up has been relentlessly politicised.

The received wisdom in China says that two hundred years before the birth of Christ, China's emperor Wu Di sent an ambassador to the west to establish an alliance against the marauding Huns, then based in Mongolia. The route across Asia that the emissary, Zhang Qian, took eventually became the Silk Road to Europe. Hundreds of years later Marco Polo came, and the opening up of China began.

The very thought that Caucasians were settled in a part of China thousands of years before Wu Di's early contacts with the west and Marco Polo's travels has enormous political ramifications. And that these Europeans should have been in restive Xinjiang hundreds of years before East Asians is explosive.

The Chinese historian Ji Xianlin, writing a preface to Ancient Corpses of Xinjiang by the Chinese archaeologist Wang Binghua, translated by Professor Mair, says China "supported and admired" research by foreign experts into the mummies. "However, within China a small group of ethnic separatists have taken advantage of this opportunity to stir up trouble and are acting like buffoons. Some of them have even styled themselves the descendants of these ancient 'white people' with the aim of dividing the motherland. But these perverse acts will not succeed," Ji wrote.

Many Uighurs consider the Han Chinese as invaders. The territory was annexed by China in 1955, and the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region established, and there have been numerous incidents of unrest over the years. In 1997 in the northern city of Yining there were riots by Muslim separatists and Chinese security forces cracked down, with nine deaths. There are occasional outbursts, and the region remains very heavily policed.

Not surprisingly, the government has been slow to publicise these valuable historical finds for fear of fuelling separatist currents in Xinjiang.

The Loulan Beauty, for example, was claimed by the Uighurs as their symbol in song and image, although genetic testing now shows that she was in fact European.

Professor Mair acknowledges that the political dimension to all this has made his work difficult, but says that the research shows that the people of Xinjiang are a dizzying mixture. "They tend to mix as you enter the Han Dynasty. By that time the East Asian component is very noticeable," he says. "Modern DNA and ancient DNA show that Uighurs, Kazaks, Kyrgyzs, the peoples of central Asia are all mixed Caucasian and East Asian. The modern and ancient DNA tell the same story," he says.

Altogether there are 400 mummies in various degrees of desiccation and decomposition, including the prominent Han Chinese warrior Zhang Xiong and other Uighur mummies, and thousands of skulls. The mummies will keep the scientists busy for a long time. Only a handful of the better-preserved ones are on display in the impressive new Xinjiang museum. Work began in 1999, but was stopped in 2002 after a corruption scandal and the jailing of a former director for involvement in the theft of antiques.

The museum finally opened on the 50th anniversary of China's annexation of the restive region, and the mummies are housed in glass display cases (which were sealed with what looked like Sellotape) in a multi-media wing.

In the same room are the much more recent Han mummies - equally interesting, but rendering the display confusing, as it groups all the mummies closely together. Which makes sound political sense.

This political correctness continues in another section of the museum dedicated to the achievements of the Chinese revolution, and boasts artefacts from the Anti-Japanese War (1931-1945).

Best preserved of all the corpses is Yingpan Man, known as the Handsome Man, a 2,000-year-old Caucasian mummy discovered in 1995. He had a gold foil death mask - a Greek tradition - covering his blond, bearded face, and wore elaborate golden embroidered red and maroon wool garments with images of fighting Greeks or Romans. The hemp mask is painted with a soft smile and the thin moustache of a dandy. Currently on display at a museum in Tokyo, the handsome Yingpan man was two metres tall (six feet six inches), and pushing 30 when he died. His head rests on a pillow in the shape of a crowing cockerel.

Caucasians preceded East Asians in basin

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Accused Vermont shooter pleads not guilty

Associated Press:

Christopher A. Williams

A man accused of killing two people and wounding two others in a shooting rampage that began at his ex-girlfriend's home and continued at an elementary school pleaded not guilty Friday, while a prosecutor said the suspect confessed to the crimes.

Christopher A. Williams, 27, was ordered held without bail. He shot himself twice in the head after the rampage Thursday and appeared in court confined to a wheelchair, arms strapped to his sides and feet shackled.

Williams was charged with two counts each of first-degree murder and attempted murder. He was released from a hospital Friday and transferred to jail. He appeared listless in court, slumping in his chair and showing no emotion.

Mental health counselor Joan Tracy told Judge Edward Cashman that Williams had said he wanted to drown himself in a toilet after being arrested Thursday. He was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

According to Tracy, Williams was exposed to domestic violence early in life and suffers from post traumatic stress disorder as a result.

Acting Chittenden County State's Attorney Margaret Vincent told Judge Edward Cashman that Williams confessed to the shootings, which started after a fight with ex-girlfriend Andrea Lambesis.

Intent on killing her, he went looking for Lambesis at the home he shared with her and her mother, Linda Lambesis, 57, police said.

Williams shot the elder woman to death, then went to Essex Elementary School in search of her daughter, police said. Though the school was still in summer recess, about 39 staffers were working -- including the younger Lambesis, a teacher. It wasn't clear where she was in the building, but Williams didn't find her.

He fatally shot second-grade teacher Mary Alicia Shanks, 56, in her classroom and wounded school staffer Mary Snedeker, 52, Vincent said.

Snedeker, who was shot through a window, remained hospitalized Friday at Fletcher Allen Health Care hospital, where she was in fair condition, spokesman Mike Noble said.

According to a police affidavit released Friday, Williams got the .45-caliber pistol used in the shootings from a friend, Chad Johansen.

Williams returned to Johansen's condominium after the shootings and the two argued before Williams shot his friend in the hand and forehead, according to an affidavit by police detective Lt. Bradley LaRose. Johansen was in fair condition at a hospital on Friday.

Williams, who works at a bakery, is charged in Springfield, Massachusetts, with violating a restraining order filed by an ex-girlfriend. The woman obtained the order after telling police he had threatened to kill her and her stepmother.

Williams also was sentenced to two years in prison in 2000 after being convicted of selling drugs in a school zone in Springfield, according to court records.

Ex-girlfriend sought help for shooting suspect

Suspect in shooting rampage is removed from state hospital

White teachers say that students threatened and verbally abused them at predominantly black school

Associated Press:

Students at a Charleston County school were so racially hostile that some teachers say they preferred teaching in prisons or serving during the Vietnam War, according to testimony in the first day of a federal lawsuit against the district.

Elizabeth Kandrac and other white teachers have said students at the predominantly black Brentwood Middle School threatened and verbally abused them.

Kandrac is suing the Charleston County School District, saying her complaints of harassment were ignored by her principal and the district.

"I was treated with much more respect at Lieber prison than I would ever dream of at Brentwood," said Elizabeth Wallace Jones, a former school nurse, said in testimony Monday.

Former teacher Edward William Mikell said he would rather "go back to Vietnam" than return to Brentwood.

But district officials say Kandrac was ill-prepared for the rigors of the teaching in one of Charleston's toughest schools.

"This is a case about a teacher who couldn't make it, who basically came up with another way to make some money," school district lawyer Alice Paylor told the jury Monday. Paylor also said Kandrac's complaints of racial hostility didn't surface until after she was told in spring 2004 that she would not be rehired.

Kandrac, who is seeking unspecified damages, claims she was the victim of racial discrimination and harassment, breach of contract and retaliation.

Kandrac's attorney Larry Kobrovsky called white former students to the witness stand to testify to their fear in the hallways of Brentwood. Kandrac also claims Principal Wanda Marshall ignored her complaints.

Kobrovsky, a former member of the Charleston County school board, said Brentwood was "a school out of control" and that he was embarrassed to repeat the language used by students toward his client.

Paylor said rough language was something Brentwood children could not shake.

"Cursing is an everyday thing in their homes," she said, adding there was no "magic pill" that makes them become "perfectly behaved students."

Kandrac vs. C.C.S.D.

White former teacher settles racial discrimination lawsuit

Lebanon and the Israel lobby

David R. Sands:

The authors of a hotly debated study on the influence of the pro-Israel lobby in Washington said yesterday that the Bush administration's unquestioning support for Israel's military action in Lebanon confirms their thesis that the power of the lobby hurts both U.S. and Israeli national interests.

"Backing Israel to the hilt in the recent war in Lebanon was a disaster for the Lebanese people, served none of our real strategic goals in the region and ended up hurting Israel as well," said John Mearsheimer, political scientist and co-director of the University of Chicago's international security program.

Mr. Mearsheimer and co-author Stephen M. Walt, an international affairs scholar and academic dean at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, showed no signs of backing away from their analysis of the U.S.-Israel lobby at a National Press Club briefing.

The event was sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the country's largest Muslim civil rights group.

That analysis, published in the London Review of Books in March, was a lengthy attack on what the authors said was the distorting power of pro-Israel interest groups, think tanks, campaign donors and public officials to slant U.S. policy toward the Jewish state.

The article sparked a heated debate. Some praised the authors for taking on one of the country's most powerful lobbies, while others condemned them for everything from sloppy scholarship to anti-Semitism.

Mr. Walt said the two authors never said that groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee was involved in a conspiracy to drive support of Israel or to stifle debate in the United States, but that the ability of the Israel lobby to influence friends and punish adversaries on Middle East issues was "no secret inside the Beltway."

"It wasn't what we said" that sparked a firestorm, he said yesterday. "It was the fact that two card-carrying members of the American intellectual establishment finally pointed out the elephant in the room."

Mr. Mearsheimer said the Bush administration's strong backing of Israel's tactics and strategy in the conflict against Hezbollah guerrillas in southern Lebanon harmed U.S. interests in several ways.

The inconclusive battle strengthened Hezbollah's standing in Lebanon and throughout the Arab and Muslim world, he said. The shelling of Beirut and other cities heightened anti-Israel and anti-U.S. feelings, fostering recruitment for al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

Mr. Mearsheimer said the U.S. stance in the conflict strengthened Iran's ties to Hezbollah, gave Iranians a new reason to meddle in Iraq and supplied Tehran with yet another incentive to expedite its nuclear program.

The University of Chicago scholar said in an interview before the briefing that the article had "broken a taboo," but that it was too soon to tell whether it would have a lasting effect on U.S. foreign policy.

"If nothing else, I think there's a lot of evidence that we have opened up a little space in this debate so that people can actually talk about the issue," he said.

Two scholars say pro-Israel lobby has warped U.S. policy

The Israel Lobby Stifles Another Israel-Questioner

The Washington Post Attacks Walt and Mearsheimer as Teutonic Antisemites

The Israel Lobby - Part II

A ninth man has been charged in Britain with conspiracy to murder and preparing acts of terrorism over an alleged plot to bring down airliners

BBC News:

Nabeel Hussain, 22, from north east London, is due at City of Westminster Magistrate's Court on Wednesday.

Eight men facing the same allegations have already been remanded, and four other people are facing lesser charges.

Police are also questioning seven other people held after a series of raids in London, Birmingham and High Wycombe.

Officers have until Wednesday to question the seven, after which time they may charge or release them or apply for a further extension.

Mr Hussain has been charged with conspiracy to murder and with a new offence of preparing an act of terrorism under section 5(1) of the Terrorism Act 2006.

His brothers, Mehran and Umair, are among the four people facing less serious charges.

They have been accused of failing to disclose information about Nabeel Hussain's alleged activities.

UK charges 13th suspect in airline bomb plot probe

Bail Denied for Teen in Jet Plot Probe

Terror rap mum in court

Ninth man charged over transatlantic bomb plot

A Malian man has died after he and 50 other would-be migrants were dumped by the Moroccan authorities in the Sahara

BBC News:

The group, including citizens of Mali, Senegal, Gambia, Ivory Coast and Guinea had been trying to reach Europe in small boats when they were intercepted.

They were left in a desert border zone between Mauritania and Western Sahara without food or water, aid workers say.

Over 18,000 African migrants have arrived on the Canary Islands in boats this year, hoping for jobs in the EU.

"Neither the Moroccans nor the Mauritanians accept them on their territory," Ahmedou Ould Haye of the Mauritanian Red Crescent told Reuters news agency.

Spanish relief agency Medicos del Mundo said its members had brought them food, water and plastic sheets with which to build shelters.

Mauritania has reported finding the bodies of 16 migrants washed up on its beaches in recent days.

Record numbers of African migrants hit Canary Islands

Over 400 African illegals land in Spain in two days

Italy is disturbed by the murder of a Pakistani woman and other immigrant-related violence

Elisabetta Povoledo:

A series of unrelated killings here this month has pushed this elegant city to the center of a national debate on the challenges of immigration and cultural integration.

The trigger was the gruesome killing on Aug. 11 of Hina Saleem, a 20-year-old woman whose family moved here from Pakistan and who was found buried, with her throat slit, in the garden of her family home in a small town about 12 miles north of Brescia.

The tragedy ballooned into a cause célèbre after media reports alleged that Ms. Saleem had been killed because her traditionalist Muslim father objected to her Western lifestyle. She smoked and wore revealing, low-slung jeans like many young women. News reports said she had been living with an Italian man. Her body was found after her boyfriend reported her missing.

Her father and uncle have been arrested in the case. [A brother-in-law turned himself in on Thursday, and an unidentified fourth man, also of Pakistani descent, was arrested Friday and accused in the case, the ANSA news agency reported.]

“She was always happy,” said Multani Gurmail, her boss at the Antica India restaurant, where she had worked as a waitress. “I knew she had some problems. I didn’t realize how bad they were.”

The killing, and a series of other unrelated slayings involving immigrants that followed, has stirred anti-immigrant statements from some residents and groups. It also has prompted front-page debate about what can happen when conservative beliefs collide with the mores of more permissive societies, and has highlighted the generation gap between parents who have immigrated to Italy from countries with conservative social and religious traditions and their Westernized children.

Muslim leaders, who have condemned the killing, say they resent accusations that Ms. Saleem was murdered as a result of her family’s religious beliefs.

“For us, murder is a sin, not only a crime,” said Mahmood Tariq, the director of the Muhammadiah Islamic Cultural Association in Brescia. “This is an exceptional case,” he added, describing the murder as a question of tension between members of the Saleem family. “Cases like this happen in all societies.”

[On Thursday, Ms. Saleem’s mother, Bushra Bakum, dismissed notions that religion had played a role in the killing. She told reporters that Ms. Saleem had been a constant worry to her parents.

“She stayed out without explanation, we never knew where she was and with whom, she was simply a daughter who did not obey,” Ms. Bakum said. She also said she would not forgive her husband. “It’s his fault and no one else’s.”]

A few days after Ms. Saleem’s body was found, a young Italian woman was found dead in a Brescia church. A Sri Lankan immigrant who assisted the priest has been arrested in the case.

On Aug. 21, an immigrant from Morocco was arrested and charged with killing a notable painter here, and this week a Pakistani man was knifed to death during what appears to have been a robbery. It is still unclear whether the assailants were immigrants.

The result has been a round of anti-immigrant talk. A lawmaker from the anti-immigration Northern League, Angelo Alessandri, told ANSA that immigration to Italy should be limited to people who “are socially, culturally and religiously compatible with our way of life and legislation.” Some residents of this wealthy provincial capital east of Milan, in one of Italy’s most industrialized areas, have been venting their anger to the news media.

“The mayor tells us we have to live with them, but the immigrants don’t reciprocate, and this isn’t their city,” said Gloria Gatta, the owner of a cafe on the Via San Faustino, a street lined with shops catering to the neighborhood’s growing African and Asian population.

Things in Brescia have gotten so bad, she said, that “people are afraid to go out after dark.”

Comments like these prompted the mayor’s office to issue a statement addressing the recent deaths and pledging increased security measures.

Citing Ms. Saleem’s case, the statement said the city would work to ensure that women’s rights were respected “against any tribal or fundamentalist point of view.”

Honor Killing of Hina Saleem in Italy

The Death of Hina Saleem

Altar boy held for Italy murder

Gene-on-gene interactions may influence risk for developing alcoholism

Marc A. Schuckit:

Not only do both genes and environment have an impact on the development of alcohol-use disorders, but now researchers have found that certain genes may influence scientists' ability to interpret other genes' effects. One variant of the alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) gene – the ADH1B genotype – appears to be able to influence level of response (LR) to alcohol among non-Asians.

Results are published in the September issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

There are at least two known groups of gene mutations that can effect how individuals metabolize alcohol, explained Marc A. Schuckit, director of the Alcohol Research Center, Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System, professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, and co- author of the study. One group of mutations is in an enzyme called aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) and the other group is in the ADH enzyme. These mutations – predominantly observed among Asians – tend to impart protection from alcohol-use disorders because they cause a larger, more intense LR to alcohol, including facial flushing.

"The question was raised," continued Schuckit, "do the ADH mutations affect LR to alcohol in Caucasians? There are some fairly consistent reports in the literature that some Caucasians do have a bit of facial flushing with alcohol similar to what you see in Asians. Accordingly, if you can find this same increased response to alcohol in the roughly 10 percent of the Caucasian population that carries these ADH gene mutations, the next question is: 'how does that effect our ability to study people's LR to alcohol as it might be influenced by another gene?'"

For this study, participants numbered 117 (81 females, 36 males), ranging in age from 18 to 29 years of age, were primarily Caucasian (70.1%) and Black (26.5%), and recruited from San Diego, California. Researchers used various tools to assess demographic, substance use, psychiatric history, and first-degree family history of alcohol dependence. In addition, all participants provided a blood sample for genotyping, and were given an alcohol challenge in order to examine their LR to alcohol during a 210-minute session.

Results showed that participants with the ADH1B*1/*2 genotype had a higher LR to alcohol early in the alcohol challenge (that is, 30, 60 and 90 minutes after drinking), as measured by subjective feelings of intoxication and body sway.

"These findings suggest that there indeed might be a genetically influenced factor of a possible mildly increased LR to alcohol associated with the two genes that we studied," said Schuckit, "and that may decrease some people's risk for alcoholism slightly."

Schuckit said that these findings will likely change how he approaches his own research in the future. "In the kind of work that I'm doing, I had better evaluate people with those two gene forms of ADH separately, because I think they may wash out the effects of some of the other genes that I'm trying to look for. For the field in general, it's important for researchers to know that there are milder effects of alcohol-metabolizing enzymes similar to what's seen in Asians that might have an effect of slightly decreasing the risk for alcoholism."

He added that the implications of these findings go beyond significance for just researchers. "This is the sort of finding that reinforces the fact that genes impact on your response to alcohol, and impact on your risk for alcoholism," he said. "There are some people who think it's hard to see behavioral problems like alcoholism being impacted by genes, but of course it is, because genes affect what you were like before you took the alcohol, and also genes absolutely impact on how the alcohol will affect you. The clearest example we have of this are the alcohol-metabolizing genes."

Rare form of gene discourages alcohol dependence among Jews

Australia issues first anti-terror control order


Australian authorities issued their first anti-terror control order on Monday, imposing a strict curfew on a man who had his conviction on terrorist charges quashed by an appeals court 10 days ago.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said the control order had been issued against Joseph Terrence Thomas, forcing the father of three to report to police three days a week and imposing a midnight to 5 a.m. curfew on his movements.

Thomas was jailed for five years in April on charges of receiving $3,500 and a plane ticket from senior al Qaeda agent Khaled bin Attash after training with Osama bin Laden's militant network in Afghanistan in 2001.

But he was set free on August 18 when an appeals court quashed his conviction, saying an interview with Australian police conducted in Pakistan was inadmissible as evidence because it was not voluntary and because Thomas had no lawyer to offer advice.

Ruddock said the control order had been issued to protect the community rather than to punish Thomas, and said there was enough evidence to support the accusation that Thomas had trained with a banned terrorist organisation.

"I know there are two grounds and I know there was evidence produced that would allow a person to form a view on reasonable grounds ... that training had occurred," Ruddock told reporters.

The control order is the first issued in Australia under tougher anti-terrorist laws, which have been gradually tightened since the Sept. 11, 2001, airliner attacks on the United States.

But Thomas's brother, Les Thomas, said the move was a stunt which ended his brother's country holiday with his family.

"It's a vindictive move by the Australian Federal Police, and we hope it can be overturned," Les Thomas told reporters.

During his trial, Thomas's lawyers argued that he had been foolish and naive and had never intended to act as a "resource" for al Qaeda. They said he had taken the money and plane ticket because he wanted to get home.

Australia keeps terror suspect in check

Australia: "Jihad Jack" Placed Under Control Order

Black children were more likely to be expelled from preschool than whites, Hispanics or Asians

Clarence Page:

Preschool expulsions? It's not a joke. It's a tragedy.

Harvard's Alvin Poussaint, one of the nation's pre-eminent child psychiatrists, drew audible gasps from an audience when he brought up the topic at a recent Washington forum on the state of young African-American males.

In particular, Dr. Poussaint wondered why African-American kids are being expelled from preschool at a much higher rate than other racial or ethnic groups.

Nationally, preschool programs expel children at more than three times the rate of kindergarten-through-12th-grade programs, according to a first-of-its-kind study by Yale University's Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy.

Black children were twice as likely to be expelled from preschool programs as white or Latino children, and five times as likely to be expelled as Asian-American children, the study found.

"Now, what's going on there?" Dr. Poussaint, a black man, asked the mostly black crowd at "Paths to Success: A Forum on Young African-American Men."

"Is racial profiling starting at age 3 or 4?" he asked. "Or is there something going on before preschool that relates to the family and the community that already is making some of these young black males unable to adapt, unable to fit, in a preschool level?"

If you thought he was about to point fingers in knee-jerk fashion at white racism, you'd be wrong. Instead, Dr. Poussaint said he believes we all should be asking where that early anger is coming from. He zeroed in on abnormally high levels of child abuse and neglect, particularly in the homes of low-income black families. His principal target was what the forum's featured speaker, Bill Cosby, has called in his own famously blunt terms, "parents who are not parenting."

"There's an overuse of beating kids - corporal punishment," Dr. Poussaint said. "So that you have 80 percent of black parents believing you should beat them - beat the devil out of them. And research shows the more you beat them, the angrier they get. It is not good discipline."

Abuse also does not have to be physical, he said. Heads in his audience nodded in agreement as he described black parents cursing, shaking or slapping their prekindergarten kids or demeaning them with statements like, "You're no good, just like your father."

Pre-K Black Kids Getting Expelled at Alarming Rates

Hand that rocks

A massive brawl in the town of Lillestrøm, northeast of Oslo, has been linked to a feud between two Afghan immigrant families


Police wouldn't comment on what was behind the brawl that left one 45-year-old man with life-threatening injuries. Newspaper Romerikes Blad, however, reported that the brawl erupted after a fight between two 16-year-old boys from two Afghan families.

"All of my closest family members have been arrested," one of the teenagers told the paper's web site "This is about my own and my family's honor."

It started with a violent quarrel outside a fast-food restaurant in Storgata (Main Street) in Lillestrøm on Friday evening. That culminated with one of the boys making indecent remarks about the other boy's sister.

On Saturday morning, representatives of both families reportedly agreed to take up the quarrel at 6pm at Nebbursvollen. Around 30 people using both knives and other weapons were involved in what developed into a massive street fight.

The 45-year-old who was critically injured is the father of one of the boys, reported Romerikes Blad.

Around 23 persons were arrested in connection with the brawl. Several nationalities were involved.

Norwegian-Pakistanis applaud gang crackdown

South Africans are killing each other at a scary rate

Associated Press:

Watch your back in South Africa. They kill folks here. Murder them at a bewildering rate.

Robbers kill their victims, bystanders kill criminals, family members kill each other.

Gunbattles erupt on streets and in shopping malls. Passers-by whip out pistols and join in firefights between criminals and police or security guards. A recent flurry in high profile bloodshed even has police suggesting they are losing the fight with violent crime.

Plans for South Africa to host soccer’s next World Cup, in 2010, has focused international attention on the crime rate, with organizers having to answer questions not just about whether they’ll have enough stadiums and hotel rooms, but whether the 350,000 foreign visitors expected for the monthlong tournament will be safe.

Statistically a South African is 12 times as likely to be murdered than the average American and his chances of being killed are 50 times greater than if he lived in western Europe.

“This is an extraordinarily violent society and nobody understands it,” said Peter Gastrow, a crime analyst at the Institute for Security Studies in Cape Town.

There are plenty of theories, many tied to South Africa’s unique history and the belief that the struggle against apartheid created a culture of lawlessness, Gastrow said.

“The reasons seem to be unbelievably complex. There is no explanation that makes sense. The million dollar question is, ’Why?’ If we could understand that we could start to fix it. But we can’t. All we can do now is ask religious people to pray for us,” he said.

The government contends it has made progress, reducing some types of crime and leveling off others. Still, after recent highly publicized cases, including the deaths of 17 people in just two incidents in June and July, the government had to promise a much tougher stance, saying police will be much more aggressive.

At the same time, the government tries to reduce attention paid to crime by having police release crime statistics only once a year.

The last statistics available showed that between April 2004 and March 2005, 18,793 people were murdered in South Africa, an average of 51 a day in a nation of 47 million. There were 24,516 attempted murders, 55,114 reported rapes and 249,369 assaults with grievous injury.

The government has not released newer figures, but contends there have been slight improvements.

Gastrow said studies show the levels of anxiety about crime are higher now than they were in the 1990s when violent crime was at its peak. People don’t trust the government figures, and there is an accumulation of fear from years of horrendous crime, he said.

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Is multiculturalism endangering British society?

Ronald Sanders:

Unmanaged multiculturalism does not work within nation states.

For instead of contributing to a strong single society, it fragments society and weakens the nation through the creation of separate groups with individual identities and competing values and traditions.

Britain is now an example of how unmanaged multiculturalism can disrupt a society. The bombings of London trains last year and the alleged plot a few weeks ago to blow up several trans-Atlantic flights by disenchanted persons born in Britain of foreign parents demonstrates the dangers of multiculturalism. Their loyalty is not to Britain or to British values, for both their birth and existence in Britain are incidental – not integral – to their lives.

When immigrants enter a new society particularly one in which the language and customs are different from the land of their birth, the government should make provision for them to learn the language and to gain knowledge of the cultural norms. They should not be left simply to muddle through the system.

It is also particularly important that, having made the decision to leave their native countries for a new society, immigrants make the conscious decision to integrate into it. And, if they find the norms and customs of their new society repugnant, they ought to return to the societies from which they came. If not, they will have consigned themselves to existing in cultural ghettoes outside of mainstream society.

In many British cities, such cultural ghettoes exist now.

In the past, governments found it politically convenient not to manage multiculturalism. Instead, they submitted to the extreme views of religious and other leaders to permit separate schools and the development of separate communities. It was convenient for governments, and desirable for community and religious leaders, to push immigrant groups into their own separate neighbourhoods.

Thus, no funds were allocated to integrate new immigrants into the school system, to ensure that they learned English, to make compulsory knowledge of the history and development of their new country, to create laws that gave minorities equal opportunities both for education and employment, and laws that stopped racial discrimination particularly by law enforcement agencies.

Such laws as have been enacted came too late to quell the resentment that had built up in the separate communities over the years.

The vast technological advances of the last few years particularly in satellite television and the Internet have also reinforced the separateness of these communities. They watch television programmes in their own language and they follow events – including about the country in which they live – through the news programmes and websites originating in the countries from which they came.

Over the last few years, schools for Asians have become “faith schools”. In the case of Muslims, for example, children attend separate schools wearing Muslim dress and following the Muslim religion.

And, State schools are also, by and large, separate schools. For in deprived areas where mostly ethnic minorities live, the student body is also mostly ethnic minorities.

So, education and technology, instead of becoming integrating influences, became a further means of creating real separateness in British society.

Fortunately, despite the weaknesses in the system, the vast majority of immigrants – while maintaining aspects of their culture – have adapted to British society and integrated into it as best they could.

But, a reality of Britain today is the existence of persons from ethnic minorities who are born “in” their society but are not “of” it. The challenge that faces the government is how to manage multiculturalism so that it does not reinforce separateness.

Religious tolerance must continue but not to the point of separate “faith” schools; schools that are predominantly white should be required to accept more ethnic minorities; scholarships should also be provided for bright and talented children from ethnic minorities; discrimination, particularly by law enforcement agencies, should be rigorously policed to stop abuse; and funds should be provided to rehabilitate deprived areas to create employment and higher standards of living. In other words, minorities must be made to feel part of British society.

All this will also require the active cooperation of the leaders of ethnic groups who should incorporate into the guidance of their communities the notion of a strong and common national British culture undiluted by many flourishing and different religious strands and customs.

Without such an approach, multiculturalism will do nothing more in Britain than promote discontent and weaken the nation; as it will in every other country in which it is not managed for the good of the society as a whole.

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Britain now presents a greater security threat to the United States than Iran or Iraq

Francis Harris:

In an article on Islamists headlined "Kashmir on the Thames", the New Republic painted Britain's Muslim communities as a breeding ground for violent extremism.

Citing recent opinion poll evidence suggesting that one in four British Muslims believed that last year's London Tube bombings were justified, the magazine said: "In the wake of this month's high-profile arrests, it can now be argued that the biggest threat to US security emanates not from Iran or Iraq or Afghanistan, but rather from Great Britain, our closest ally."

The magazine, with a circulation of 60,000-a-week, has its roots on the Democratic Left although in recent years it has backed much of President George W Bush's foreign policy. The claim is the latest in a series of hostile reassessment of Britain by Americans in the wake of the alleged plot to bring down transatlantic airliners.

Many have been appalled both by the existence of enthusiastic jihadis in British cities and by the call from some of their leaders for a change in the country's foreign policy.

Other publications and the think-tanks that shape public debate in America have also issued stern criticism both of Britain's Muslims and of the Government. Nile Gardiner, of the Right-wing Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Telegraph yesterday that Americans were coming to view Britain as "a hornet's nest of Islamic extremists" and thought it posed ''a direct security threat to the US".

He said that if British-based terrorism continues, America is likely to respond harshly.

"A major concern would be the tightening of travel restrictions unless the authorities start to crack down on Islamist militancy," he said. More than four million Britons enter America annually using the visa waiver programme. Any change would force Britons wishing to visit the US into lengthy queues at American diplomatic missions.

Mr Gardiner said the issue had not yet acquired a head of steam in Congress, but that another plot, or a "successful" attack by British Muslims on an American target, would be likely to spur an immediate response.

Investor's Business Daily has already demanded an end to the programme because it "allows Pakistani Britons to dodge security background checks".

Much of the outraged American response this month was sparked by the call from Muslim leaders for a change in British foreign policy. The letter from six Muslim MPs and 38 community leaders said "current British Government policy risks putting civilians at increased risk both in the UK and abroad".

The theme was taken up by the Wall Street Journal, which said: "It is typical of some of Britain's so-called moderate Muslims, who seem less concerned with fighting extremists in their midst than in excusing them."

The newspaper went on to attack Tony Blair's government for "cultivating and promoting such pseudo-moderate Muslim organisations". The BBC and the Foreign Office, described as "a preserve of Arabists", were also lambasted both for quoting extremists and allowing them into Britain.

'Britain poses greater terror threat to US than Iraq and Iran'

UK Islam: Faces of Fanatacism Part Five

Are Indians among the most racist people in the world?

Shashi Baliga:

The moment an Indian comes face to face with another for the first time, all it takes are a few subconscious seconds for an ethnic profile to be formed on either side: Punjabi — rich, friendly, brash. Tamilian — affluent, reserved, intellectual. Bengali — middle class, arrogant, culture vulture. Goan — gregarious, laid back, fun.

They’re all stereotypes of course. Unfortunately, that’s how the average Indian perceives people-not-like-me. A predilection reinforced by popular cinema and television soaps that revel in ethnic caricatures. And compounded by an amazing ignorance or worse, contempt of the many shades that make up India.

Given our genetic diversity, when a fair-skinned Punjabi of Aryan descent dismisses a dark-skinned Dravidian as a ‘Madrasi’, what it essentially amounts to is racism. It is the same atavistic urge that makes white skins suspicious of brown skins. And it is what makes Indians put a premium on fair skin, whether in the marriage market, at a job interview or when adopting a child.

The average South Indian who responds to the ‘Madrasi’ tag by labelling everyone north of the Vindhyas a ‘Punjabi’ puts up a racial wall in his mind as well. Move to the North-East and you’ll be told tales of more overt racism. “We’re simply not looked upon as Indians,” says Khanchinpau Zo from Manipur. Most Indians from the hill states of the Northeast will tell you how they have to face an array of prejudices and preconceived notions, the commonest being that girls from the Northeast are ‘easy’, and that everyone from the region does drugs.

Sometimes, they are even denied entry to discos and pubs. A TV anchor from Sikkim was turned away along with his friends from Elevate, a Noida discotheque — while others queuing up after them were let in. He was later ushered in by the bouncers when he made a call to the club’s PRO. The Northeast states, too have pejorative terms for outsiders, and several have seen attempts at ethnic cleansing directed against ‘mainland Indians’.

As for all those protesting the way Indians with long beards are singled out at international airports today, they should perhaps try asking Sikhs what it was like after Indira Gandhi’s assassination. And if you’re outraged at the manner in which all Asians are being tarred with the terrorist brush abroad, hear what Samuel Fatai, a 24-year-old Nigerian studying at Delhi University, has to say: “I’ve been called kalu, Habshi, Negro, all sorts of names. I’ve felt insulted so often on flights — airhostesses have a way of letting you know how unwelcome you are, and Indians excel in it. I have been strip-searched at most Indian airports even before 9/11.”

The worst came after the Rahul Mahajan cocaine scandal, when Fatai was picked up by the Delhi police and kept in illegal confinement for three days. Why? They suspected he was a cocaine peddler. Says Fatai wryly, “Indians don’t want to make friends with a black man. Unless, of course, they get cocaine at discounted rates.” He echoes what most people of African descent will tell you in a candid moment: Indians are among the most colour-conscious and racist people in the world.

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