Friday, May 19, 2006

Hamas' spokesman smuggling cash

Whereas Palestinian children wear suicide belts, Hamas bosses wear money belts!

Hamas' spokesman in Gaza, Sami Abu Zuhri, has been caught Friday morning in the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza with a large quantity of money he attempted to smuggle into Gaza.
According to one report, Abu Zuhri, who is one of the senior leaders of Hamas in Gaza, had Euro 640,000 on his person. Another report claimed he held a larger sum of Euro 900,000.
The money was discovered by European monitors on the border and confiscated by Palestinian security officials. The cash was hidden in a special belt worn by Abu Zuhri, and while trying to cross the border, the belt fell, and the money was uncovered by the monitors.
Abu Zahri left the Rafat junction without money he attempted to smuggle.

continues here

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Ahmadinejad writes to the Pope

Are you ready for this?
Sure you are!
After the letter sent by Mr Ahmadinejad to President Bush only a few days ago, the Iranian President is now sending a letter to Pope Benedict XVI.
It's what the Iranian daily
Jomhuri-ye Eslami reports today.
The letter will be sent to the Vatican in the next few days!

Is he going to convert to Christianity? You can never tell with this man!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

It's not antisemitic, you stupid! It's just pro-palestinian!

We are outraged by the blatantly anti-Semitic cartoon published on 12 May '06 by Liberazione, Mr Bertinotti's Partito della Rifondazione Comunista's daily.

The cartoon constructs an analogy between the deliberate Nazi policy to annihilate the Jews of Europe, and the Israeli policy of temporarily withholding some funds from Hamas.

The terrorist organization Hamas, which now controls the Palestinian Authority Parliament, has a long history of intentionally killing innocent men, women and children simply to advance its political agenda of hate. Hamas has consistently openly called for the destruction of our ally Israel.

Liberazione's apology is: "Certamente però non era antisemita. Era drammaticamente filo-palestinese" (transl: "Surely it wasn't antisemitic. It was dramatically pro-palestinian")

Whatever one's view of Israeli policies, this comparison is inappropriate and offensive.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Palestinians donate jewels to Hamas

NABLUS: Thousands of Hamas followers gathered to donate money and jewellery to their cash-strapped government, while a Western boycott stirred debate inside the militant group over whether to accept a state alongside Israel.
continues here (AP)

Friday, May 12, 2006

I'm away for 2 weeks. Back on 27 May 2006.

In the meantime remember: if you want to understand a Muslim (any Muslim!) learn TAKKYA!
Without Takkya you can only guess! Without Takkya nobody can translate and understand Ahmadinejad's letter!
Takkya is one of the pillars of Islam! Maybe the most important one.

Qaddafi-mocking Cartoons

Bulgaria's Ambassador in Libya Zdravko Velev was scolded Wednesday evening in Tripoli over the Qaddafi-mocking cartoons that were published in a Bulgarian daily on May 3.

Libya finds that the caricatures slander the dignity of Muammar Qaddafi, they discredit the country's justice system and offend the whole Libyan people.

The cartoons were an act of provocation, aimed at disturbing the relationships between the two countries, authorities in Libya seem to believe. Such insults to the head of state are inadmissible, and both Libyan officials and the people cannot tolerate them, Velev was told.

The authors of the cartoons hurt Bulgaria's interests, Libyan officials said to Velev, expressing their hope that the issue won't escalate in other Bulgarian media.

Velev explained that Bulgaria's state institutions have already distanced themselves from the cartoons and that the country hopes this case wouldn't hurt the trial of the five Bulgarian nurses jailed in Libya.

In an attempt to vent their rage at Bulgaria's "quiet diplomacy" and Libya's stalling of the trial against the nurses, jailed on accusations of infecting children with HIV, Bulgarian Novinar daily published 12 cartoons mocking Qaddafi. One of the caricatures shows Qaddafi playing on a chessboard with "figures" that are actually Bulgaria's five jailed nurses. In another picture, the colonel is a devil over a boiling cauldron with the women inside, and a cartoon shows Libyan judges with condoms pulled over their faces.
continues here
more here

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Libya, Bulgaria, a Palestinian Doctor and 4.4 billion Euros

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya abruptly adjourned on Thursday the retrial of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor accused of deliberately infecting hundreds of children at a Libyan hospital with the virus that causes AIDS.

"The retrial case was postponed and will resume on June 13, with the defendants remaining in detention," judge Mahmoud Chaouissa said.

Lawyers for the six medics, who have been in jail since 1999, had asked the court to release them on bail but the judge dismissed the demand.

None of those involved in the long proceedings seemed discouraged by the delay.

"It is a good start and the postponement underlined the court's eagerness to better check the facts and the evidence of the case," the medics' lead lawyer, Othman Bizanti, told Reuters.

Idriss Lagha, a spokesman for the families of the infected children said: "The start of the retrial is good and the postponement is a normal court decision."

Bulgaria's Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying it hoped hearings would be scheduled without long adjournments.

"We expect the new panel of the court in Tripoli to take into account the serious violations already made in procedure as well as the explicit evidence of the medics' innocence presented by the defence," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Dimitar Tsanchev.

The medics first stood trial in 2004 on charges they infected 426 Libyan children with the HIV virus when they worked in a Benghazi hospital. Around 50 of the children have died and the case has fuelled outrage among the families of the victims.

The five Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor were sentenced to death in May 2004.

Bulgaria and its allies, the United States and the European Union, insist the nurses are innocent, citing evidence they were tortured to confess and testimony by world AIDS experts that the spread of AIDS started before they began work at the hospital.


Libya's supreme court overturned death sentences for the six medics in December after an appeal by the defence on both substance and procedure, and ordered a retrial at a court in Tripoli chaired by Mahmoud Ghouissa.

Going into the start of their retrial on Thursday, the defendants seemed more relaxed than at previous hearings.

But in court doctor Ashraf Alhajouj complained of what he called official bias against him.

"The authorities are treating better the nurses than me. They have access to international phone to contact families, not me. They are allowed to be visited by their families, not me," the Palestinian doctor told the court.

Alhajouj has family in Libya, where his father is a university teacher and his sister a lawyer, but other relatives live abroad. The judge promised to look into his complaint.

Tripoli has suggested the nurses could go free if money were provided to cover financial compensation for the families of the victims and medical treatment for the children.

The victims' families have demanded 4.4 billion euro (3 billion pounds) from a group of international donors trying to settle the dispute, although Bulgaria itself has refused to pay any compensation, saying it would be a recognition of guilt.

But the United States, EU, Libya and Bulgaria have agreed to back the establishment of an aid fund, and are seeking ways to help the victims and their families.

The convictions have become a major sticking point to Libya's efforts to emerge from decades of diplomatic isolation.

Libya protested to Bulgaria on May 3 over a newspaper's cartoons of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in the run-up to the retrial. One of the cartoons in the daily newspaper Novinar depicted Gaddafi with a devil's trident standing round a cauldron where five medical caps were floating.

The Libyan embassy in Sofia expressed "deep indignation and disappointment" at the cartoons, Bulgarian radio has said.

(Additional reporting by Michael Winfrey in Sofia)

Si avvera la profezia comunista

Si avvera una triste profezia.

La prima strofa di una canzone dei comunisti Romani contiene la profezia avveratasi ieri con l'elezione di Giorgio Napolitano!

Su, comunisti della capitale,
è giunto alfine il dì della riscossa,
quando alzeremo sopra al Quirinale
bandiera rossa.
continua qua

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Sorry girls! No soccer for you in Iran!

We have to apologise to Iranian women and women worldwide for the exciting news we reported a few weeks ago about President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's decision to allow women into soccer stadiums.
The decision was seen by women's rights campaigners in Iran as a "little victory".
Unfortunately for Iranian women that little victory has been snatched away yesterday by a new ruling by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who has vetoed the decision.
Gholam-Hossein Elham, the government spokesman, said yesterday: "The president has decided to revise his decision based on the supreme leader's opinion."

see AKI- Chicago Tribuneand The Scotsman

Italy has a new President

The Italians, actually Mr Prodi's coalition, have elected Giorgio Napolitano, 81 years old, President of the Italian Republic!
The Italian President was not voted by Mr Berlusconi's coalition, still the Reds in the newly elected Parliament succeeded in what some political commentaters described as a complete take-over of the Country.

Testosterone-depleted leaders

What a day for Iran, China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Hamas! And all credit to our testosterone-depleted leaders!

Surely there is something dodgy going on. Are we celebrating something that we don't know? Are we missing something here?

This is what happened:

The United States will give Palestinians 10 million dollars' worth of medical and other supplies, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday, in Washington's first such offer since Hamas came to power.
Do the Americans now expect that the EU will give less to the poor Palestinians?

The UN General Assembly elected Saudi Arabia, Cuba and China to a new UN Human Rights Council yesterday as part of a planned overhaul of the world body.
I won't tell you why this news makes me sick! I believe you're intelligent enough to understand by yourself!

In an 18-page letter, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave U.S. President George W. Bush a history lesson, philosophy lecture and religious sermon laced with references to Jesus Christ.
A religious sermon from someone who says that Israel should be wiped off the map!

I believe our leaders need an urgent testosterone booster...!

Al-Qaeda in Gaza. The proof.

An unknown Palestinian militant group announced Tuesday it was an off-shoot of the terror network al-Qaeda.

In leaflets telefaxed to reporters and pasted on street corners in Gaza City, the 'al-Quds (Jerusalem) Islamic Army' said that, like its parent organization, it would target 'the crusaders and every enemy of Islam and Muslims and their collaborators.'

'We will blow up our bodies in their positions' and 'strike with an iron fist at all the crusader, American and Zionist campaigns,'
said the statement, adding the group adhered to the principles of al-Qaeda leaders Sheikh Osama Bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahri and Musab al-Zarqawi.

It was the first such leaflet signed by al-Qaeda in Gaza and openly announcing the formation of an al-Qaeda wing in the Palestinian territories.

The leaflets were the latest sign al-Qaida has infiltrated the Gaza Strip and is seeking to carry out large-scale operations inside Israel.

Awaiting White Smoke

Rome-10 May '06
Third round of voting failed to elect a President on Tuesday evening.
There will be a fourth round Wednesday and if necessary a fifth on Wednesday evening.
I'm fairly sure Prodi's coalition will manage today to elect President former communist Senator Giorgio Napolitano.
We shall see.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Russian Racism Rampant

TALLINN, Estonia (UPI)
Leaflets and a newspaper story attacking Jews and Muslims have appeared in the central Russian city of Tver`.
During the first half of this month, at least two unsigned broadsides and an article in the Tver` city government`s newspaper had attacked Jews and 'persons of Caucasus nationality' in crude terms. The articles are referenced at the Web site

One of the leaflets called on Russians to 'liberate (their) native land from kike fascism,' while the other directed its hatred to immigrant groups, 'the Caucasus mafias, or, as they call themselves, diasporas, who are precisely synchronizing their activities with the Zionist mafia that now rules Russia.'

There is some evidence that these leaflets were produced and disseminated not by marginal groups of racists and bigots, but rather reflect the views of some in the government there and may even have appeared and been disseminated with the connivance of local officials.

According to the SOVA-Center report, 'practically at the same time' that the leaflets were appearing on the streets of Tver`, the city`s daily newspaper Gorozhan, which was set up by the Tver` government, featured an article by Valeriy Kirillov, the former editor of another local paper, Tverskaya zhizn, echoing precisely the same themes.

It is no surprise that people who hate members of one group often will hate members of other groups as well. That has been an all too typical pattern around the world. But the appearance in a Russian city of materials that simultaneously attack Jews and Muslims should be a matter of concern not only for those two groups, but for all who care about human rights.

The situation in Tver` should serve as a wake-up call for all those who believe that attacks against one group will not spread to others, a danger that Pastor Martin Niemoeller warned about in Nazi Germany but a threat that some in the Russian Federation and elsewhere now appear to have forgotten.

Al-Zarqawi's face

There’s a date stamp on the video: April 17, 2006

You can watch the video at Little Green Footballs
Or by visiting Corriere della Sera and clicking Il video

No President No Government

A second round of voting for Italy's new President on Tuesday morning failed to produce a winner.
The centre-left coalition, whose candidate is former House Speaker Giorgio Napolitano, said it would vote with blank ballots again as it waited for signs of "convergence" from the centre right.
A third round of voting will begin this afternoon.
(No President means No Government, but I can assure you that by tomorrow evening Italy will have a new President. Hopefully not a former communist!)

France: a Muslim for President

Soheib Bencheikh, former counselor to the rector of the mosque of Paris and former grand-mufti of Marseilles, announced yesterday his candidacy for the presidential election. A candidacy he defines: "totally grass-rooted and secular. A response to the bankruptcy of the traditional political parties".

He presents himself as a "moderate" Muslim, but does not flinch when Dr. Nasser Touyaih, a member of the Sharia Academy, proposes, during a conference of the World Islamic League, the formation of Islamic tribunals throughout Europe. He happens to be the 17th candidate for the office.

This candidate is a Muslim and quickly made clear the nature of his platform and the identity of his enemies.

"The hateful remarks of Mr. de Villiers, that were unfortunately widely circulated and relayed by the ambitious career-minded opportunism of Nicolas Sarkozy, are the symptom of the decay of civic spirit in a France that is more and more turning inward. Regarding the painful silence of the left, it is the reflection of a cop-out and of the ruination of its ideals,"
he explained.

Mr. Bencheikh, with a doctorat in religion, is president of CORAI (Council of Islamic Thought and Action) and has been a member of CFCM (French Council of the Muslim Cult) since it was founded. He now heads a project entitled "a reflection on the adaptation of the Muslim religion to the needs of society."

There is more than enough to satisfy the Islamophiles who will loudly applaud the candidacy of this "moderate" Muslim and who will scream Islamophobia to anyone who denounces this candidate. But, this theologian knows well how to manipulate takkya (the Muslim trick of lying or dissimulating to fool the infidels).

Why speak of hatred when de Villiers denounces the incompatibility of Islam with the republic because of the oumma, the sharia law, and the duty of jihad? Does HE not know better than anyone the true nature of Islam? Is it a turning inward to refuse the totalitarian dictates of this supposed religion? Surely it is! It's a clear bet this "moderate " Muslim will work hard to persuade resistant minds that Islam is the religion of peace and tolerance...

You will note that Nicolas Sarkozy's comment about the Islam OF France is turning on him like a boomerang and revealing to him the reality of Islam IN France. This does not surprise us: as soon as we heard the Muslim guerillas call the Interior Minister a "dirty Jew" during the November 2005 intifada, we knew that our analysis of the inevitable failure of Sarkozy's ambiguous position was accurate.

So, will we have a Muslim President of the Republic in 2007? It's not certain, let's just say for now that it's a bit of entertainment. But if Sarkozy or some left-wing politician enacts a law giving foreigners the right to vote, it could become plausible for 2012.
Source here

France never ceases to surprise me! A candidacy like this one (let alone his success) can only have a detrimental effect of radicalisation of the French electorate, by which I mean the disappearance of traditional centre parties and the formation of two main opposing blocks not just competing but fighting for power. The French electorate should have learned a lesson from the European Elections of 2004, when the pro-palestinian movement of Dieudonne' got 12% of the votes in the Ile de France!
The French like playing with fire. (Often they are unable to extinguish it. Their fire usually spreads to other countries producing disasters!)

Monday, May 08, 2006

The invisible bomber

MOSCOW, April 22 (RIA Novosti) -

Russian military planes flew undetected through the U.S. zone of the Arctic Ocean to Canada during recent military exercises, a senior Air Force commander said Saturday.
The commander of the country's long-range strategic bombers, Lieutenant General Igor Khvorov, said the U.S. Air Force is now investigating why its military was unable to detect the Russian bombers.
"They were unable to detect the planes either with radars or visually,"
he said.
Khorov said that during the military exercises in April, Tu-160 Blackjack bombers and Tu-95 Bears had successfully carried out four missile launches. Bombing exercises were held using Tu-22 Blinders.
By the end of the year, two more Tu-160s will be commissioned for the long-range strategic bomber fleet, Khorov said.
Both new planes will incorporate numerous upgrades from the initial Soviet models, the commander said. The bombers will be able to launch both cruise missiles and aviation bombs, and communicate via satellite. RIA NOVOSTI

Russian Academy of Sciences recently revealed information about a novel "stealth" technology, that incorporates plasma fields. Russian ITAR/TASS news agency recently interviewed the director of the Keldysh Research Center (FKA Scientific Research Institute for Thermal Processes), Academician Anatoliy Koroteyev, who briefly summarized capabilities of plasma stealth system developed by his research center and the current status of the project.
Interactions between various types of electromagnetic radiation and plasma fields were studied for many years in Russia, the United States and around the world.
The system developed by the Russians is based on electromagnetic wave-plasma interactions, but in a very different way. Russian stealth plasma device creates a plasma field around an aircraft. This field partially consumes electromagnetic energy of a hostile radar or causes it to bend around the aircraft, reducing the aircraft RCS by up to 100 times.
It is not known whether the plasma stealth system developed by the Russians employs a plasma laser or some other method for creating a plasma field.

Specification Tu-160 'Blackjack'
Powerplant: four 245.18 kN (55,140 lb st) Trud/Samara NK-32 afterburning turbofans
Dimensions: length 54.1m (177 ft 6 in); height 13.1m (42 ft 11 in); wing span 65° sweep 35.6m (116 ft 9½ in); wing span 35° sweep 50.7m (166 ft 4 in); wing span 20° sweep 55.7m (182 ft 9 in)
Weights: empty 117000 kg (257,937 lb); Max Take-Off Weight 275000 kg (606,261 lb)
Performance: max level speed Mach 2.05 or 2200 km/h (1367 mph); max level speed at sea level 1030 km/h (640 mph); ceiling 15600m (51,181 ft)
Armament: up to 12 KH-55 nuclear or KH-555 conventional long-range cruise missiles or 24 Kh-15 short-range nuclear attack missiles carried in two internal weapon bays; in theory up to 40000 kg (88,183 lb) of freefall nuclear or conventional bombs

Jane made it clear a few years ago!
So did FAS!

Awaiting White Smoke

Rome-8 May 2006

Voting has begun Monday afternoon to
elect an Italian president to succeed Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.

The voting comes after days of negotiations aimed at
achieving the kind of broad support that swept Ciampi into
office seven years ago.
When no such consensus candidate emerged, the incoming
government of Romano Prodi proposed ex-interior minister and
life Senator Giorgio Napolitano in place of their first
choice, Left Democrat Massimo D'Alema, another former
member of the now-defunct Italian Communist Party (PCI).
If elected, Napolitano would be the first ex-Communist in
Italy's highest institutional post

From a former communist to a former communist

Late Sunday night, Prodi's coalition nominated Giorgio Napolitano, 80, a life senator with the Democrats of the Left, former speaker of the lower house and once a top official of the Italian Communist Party, as their candidate for President.

In its heyday 30 years ago, the Italian Communist Party held sway among a third of the country's voters. The party no longer exists, but its legacy lingers on, influencing the fight for the Italian presidency and the staying power of Romano Prodi.

The communists are in a position to exert considerable pressure on the political agenda of the center-left coalition. In 1998, Bertinotti brought down Prodi's first government after a tough budget was introduced to help Italy qualify for the euro. Bertinotti asserted that the budget would sabotage social programs.Exacerbating the debate now has been the election with the Refounded Communists of two controversial figures: Francesco Caruso, a leader of Italy's anti-globalization movement, and Vladimir Luxuria, a transgender gay-rights activist - whose stands in such areas as labor reform and same- sex marriage are not shared by the more moderate elements of Prodi's coalition, which includes Catholic parties.
read more International Herald Tribune

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Al-Qaeda calls, Rome responds

By Lorenzo Vidino for Counterterrorism blog

It appears that al Qaeda is playing politics in Europe once again, this time targeting Italy. Last April Italian voters ousted Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a staunch supporter of U.S. efforts in the war on terror who sent a contingent of
1,600 troops to Afghanistan and 2,700 to Iraq. Italians voted to replace Berlusconi with Romano Prodi, who heads a coalition government whose main components have repeatedly called for the withdrawal of all Italian troops. Since Prodi’s election Italian troops have been hit with repeated attacks in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The attacks came as surprises, since Italian troops are involved mostly in peace-keeping missions and have been attacked only sporadically in the three years they have been operating on the ground in the two countries. Hence the suspicion, revealed by Italian military intelligence, that the attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan have been coordinated in order to put “pressure on the new Italian government to withdraw its military contingents.” Knowing that the new government is already inclined to withdraw troops, but has not taken the decisive step in order not to open its mandate with a faux pas with Washington, al Qaeda might be trying to put additional pressure and to, once again, influence the democratic process of a European country. We’ll see in the next weeks if they have scored another victory.
read it all

Berlusconi calls for Tax Resistance

On Monday Italy will elect a new President. With only 24 hours to go the two main coalitions have not yet found a name or two to agree upon.

Repeating calls for an "impartial" candidate, without
close ties to a particular party, Berlusconi made it clear today he would not back the candidacy of Democratic Left Chairman Massimo D'Alema.
"I don't think it can be someone who waged a ferocious
electoral campaign against the leader of the opposing bloc,"
Berlusconi said.

D'Alema, a former premier, has been an arch-rival of
Berlusconi for over a decade. The centre-right leader has frequently drawn attention to his opponent's political roots in Italy's former Communist party.
"When you talk about the president of the Republic it
has to be someone who will defend the constitution, the
Italian flag and Italian unity. It must be someone who can
offer all sides a guarantee of total impartiality,"
Berlusconi said.

Latest news from red Italy-7 May 2006

"Indecente proporre D'Alema. Si rischia il regime."

"It's indecent to propose D'Alema for President. We are at risk of dictatorship." La Repubblica

"la proposta di un politico di un partito di sinistra è semplicemente indecente e al limite dell'emergenza democratica"

"To propose a left-wing politician is simply indecent and bordering into a democratic emergency." Corriere

Fausto Bertinotti, new speaker of the lower House, leader of Rifondazione Comunista, colleague and close friend of (former?) communist D'Alema

"La candidatura la deve decidere l'Unione. La mia opinione personale è che quella di Massimo D'Alema sia una candidatura di tutto rispetto, molto autorevole e per me convincente". Lo dice il presidente della Camera, Fausto Bertinotti."

"It's up to Prodi's coalition to decide who to propose for President. My personal opinion is that Massimo D'Alema is a respectful candidate..." La Repubblica

Tax Resistance!

Berlusconi: "Se non saremo rappresentati non accetteremo di pagare le tasse"

"If we won't be represented (with one of our candidates) we (verbatim) won't accept paying taxes to this government!"

Italian Battle Group in Afghanistan

On Tuesday, 18 April 2006, ISAF Forces of the Italian Battle Group organized a ceremony to award certificates of proficiency to soldiers of the Afghanistan National Army (ANA) who had successfully completed a six-week training operation called ANA JOINT PATROL.

The joint training program with ISAF Forces and the 1st ANA Brigade Reconnaissance Platoon was part of the on-going training process to build the capability and military effectiveness of the Afghan National Army.

Italian, American and Afghan soldiers on foot patrol in Musiay Valley.
It was right in this valley that two Alpinis died three days ago.

ISAF's KNMB Italian Battle Group is well experienced in training ANA units, having run and organized many similar courses over the past nine months. The content and high professionalism of the courses is organized in close consultation with senior commanders of the ANA and Combined Forces Afghanistan.

ISAF SOLDIERS-AFGHAN FOOTBALL MATCH . "Together for a peaceful Afghanistan"

The Italian Battle Group is led by L'AQUILA Battalion 9th ALPINI Regiment, specialist forces highly trained in mountaineering techniques. From February 20 to the end of April, the Italian Battle Group also ran the first ANA basic Mountaineering Course with the aim to train 36 ANA soldiers to acquire knowledge and appropriate handling of mountaineering and climbing equipment, basic climbing and rescue techniques.

The Mountaineering Course was so successful that 28 of the participants are going on to attend an Advanced Climbing Course in Italy in the near future.

The teamwork and close co-operation that has developed between ISAF Forces and the ANA, particularly as conducting joint patrols becomes a routine part of their daily duties, is helping enormously in the process of building relationships of trust and confidence in the community.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Funeral or Party?

Two Italian soldiers in the Nato peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan have been killed after their vehicle was hit by a bomb.
Four Italians were also hurt in the blast as they were travelling south of the capital, Kabul.
Responding to the incident the commander of ISAF, Lt Gen David Richards, said,
"I wish to send my deepest sympathies to the families of those who were killed or injured. It is a great sadness that a small minority of criminals should attack soldiers who have travelled thousands of miles to help the people of Afghanistan, who overwhelmingly support the ISAF presence. This tragic incident will not affect our total determination and commitment to this mission, working in the closest co-operation with our comrades in the Afghan police and army."

Last week three Italian soldiers were killed in Nassiriya, Iraq.
The funeral ceremony was broadcasted live by Italian National Television RAI.
The funeral was attended by the highest authorities of the State, members of Parliament and common citizens.

The two brave Alpinis killed yesterday will finally return home tomorrow and the funeral ceremony will be held next Tuesday.
Italians will hope that the shameful scene shown live at the last funeral will not be repeated.

Mr Pecoraro Scanio, leader of the Green Party, member of Mr Prodi's coalition, attending the funeral ceremony of the three Italian soldiers killed last week in Nassiriya

Most Italians share the same emotions as the deceased soldier's wife on the left of the pic; however, some pay their respects in a less traditional fashion (pic on the right).

ISAF official report on Italian casualties in Afghanistan

ISAF Patrol attacked in IED incident
Release #2006-032 05 May 2006

Kabul, Afganistan

On the afternoon of May 5, a light armoured vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb, killing two soldiers and injuring four. It was part of an ISAF security patrol that was responding to a request for assistance from the Afghan National Police, after one of the police vehicles struck a mine.

All six soldiers were members of the Italian Army serving in ISAF as part of the Kabul Multi-national Brigade. The strike occurred 16 kilometres south of Kabul on Logar Road.

An ISAF Chinook helicopter evacuated the injured from the site to the German Medical hospital at Camp Warehouse. Quick reaction forces deployed to the scene. Investigative and site security operations continue.

Responding to the incident the commander of ISAF, Lt Gen David Richards, said,
"I wish to send my deepest sympathies to the families of those who were killed or injured. It is a great sadness that a small minority of criminals should attack soldiers who have travelled thousands of miles to help the people of Afghanistan, who overwhelmingly support the ISAF presence. This tragic incident will not affect our total determination and commitment to this mission, working in the closest co-operation with our comrades in the Afghan police and army."

Italian troops in the world (click pic to enlarge)

Through ISAF, NATO has been helping in creating a secure environment, developing Afghan security structures, identifying reconstruction needs, as well as training and building up future Afghan security forces.

ISAF Forces will not be deterred in their important work to support the Government and people of Afghanistan and will never allow these criminal elements to interfere with the democratic process of the country.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Zarqawi's video: what we haven't seen!

Al-Zarqawi is not a capable military leader.

The showing yesterday of the "outtakes"* of the latest Al-Zarqawi's video prompted surprise and laughter among the Coalition Forces.

In one, Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, has trouble trying to operate an automatic weapon. An associate has to show him how to do it. Later in the same shot, an associate takes the weapon from Zarqawi by the barrel and burns his hand. In another, the feared terrorist is shown in a black uniform and bright blue "tenny pumps."

Coalition troops found the tape during a raid on a hideout for foreign fighters.
"He is far from being a capable military leader,"
coalition spokesman Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch said during a news conference today.

A soldier from the U.S. Army's 988th Military Police Company trains an Iraqi police officer on how to properly hold a weapon.

Lynch said the coalition has made good progress against foiling suicide bombings, the most deadly attacks in Iraq.
"The suicide attacks are where the innocent men, women and children of Iraq are being killed or severely wounded,"
the general said.

About 90 percent of those launching suicide attacks are foreigners recruited and outfitted by Zarqawi.
"We have planned and launched operations over the past couple of weeks to deny him that capability,"
Lynch said.

A year ago, Lynch said, there were on average 75 suicide attacks per month. Today there are less than 25 per month.

Lynch said coalition officials have targeted suicide bombers.
"Since April 8, coalition forces have killed 31 foreign fighters,"
he said. "These are people that Zarqawi brought into Iraq to be suicide bombers who were killed before they could launch their attacks."

Suicide bombers most often come from Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Jordan. Most come into Iraq over the Syrian border. Lynch said that once captured, suicide attackers have often given coalition officials "actionable intelligence."


*outtake= a scene that is filmed but is not used in the final editing of the film

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Different Italian Styles

These days there are Italians who risk their lives.

Italian soldiers in Afghanistan

There are Italians who lose their lives

Funeral ceremony of three Italian soldiers killed last week in Iraq

There are Italians who enjoy their lives

Mr Pecoraro Scanio, leader of the Green Party, member of Mr Prodi's coalition, attending the funeral ceremony of the three Italian soldiers yesterday

Can Israelis now visit Saudi Arabia?

Exciting news from the Kingdom!
Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday it would start issuing non-religious tourist visas to foreigners.
Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Secretary-General of the Supreme Commission for Tourism, said tour guides would be allowed to operate from June and revealed the new visa system was developed in conjunction with the ministries of interior and foreign affairs and the Hajj ministry.

“There are no exceptions, we want to open up to people who are not coming for Umrah or investment”,
he said.

source Asharq Alawsat

Now I have a small query to make to the Saudi Commissioners for Tourism.

In February 2004, the Saudi Kingdom issued Visa requirements for business, transit, residency, family, Hajj, conference attendance and also tourism.

This is what it said verbatim:
Everyone who enters the Kingdom should have a valid passport with at least 6 months validity and the appropriate visa.

Unless you are a visitor from a GCC country or in transit, all other nationalities require a visa to enter the Kingdom. Visas can be for business, tourist, transit, residency, family, Hajj, or conference attendance.

Visas can be obtained from the visa department in the Saudi Embassy of the visitor's home country or from Saudi Consulates available in all main cities around the world.

The cost of a visa is generally 200 Saudi Riyals however visitors should ensure that they check with the Saudi Embassy or Consulate.

Normal regulations you may think, but wait a second because I haven't finished yet.

Visas will not be issued for the following groups of people:

An Israeli passport holder or a passport that has an Israeli arrival/departure stamp.

If a woman is arriving in the Kingdom alone, the sponsor or her husband must receive her at the airport.
Every woman must have confirmed accommodation for the duration of her stay in the Kingdom.
A woman is not allowed to drive a car and can therefore only travel by car if she is accompanied by her husband, a male relative, or a driver.
All visitors to the Kingdom must have a return ticket.
Pilgrims must also have all valid documentation and a passport that is valid for 6 months.

I was just wondering if the same requirements are still in place...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Thank you, Mr Berlusconi

ROME, May 2 — Silvio Berlusconi formally submitted his resignation as Italy's prime minister today, as his apparent successor, Romano Prodi, speeded up his work to form a new government.

Mr. Berlusconi, 69, who had overseen the longest-surviving government here since World War II, had refused for weeks to concede defeat, questioning the results in the tight national elections last month.

But today, the first work day after Mr. Prodi's new government narrowly managed to elect leaders of the new Parliament, Mr. Berlusconi handed his resignation over to Italy's president, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.

Mr. Prodi, as is usual in such handovers, was present, and the two men shook hands earlier in the day at a funeral service for three Italian soldiers killed in Iraq last week.

"Now it's up to us to form a new government in the time scale that will be set out by the president," Mr. Prodi told reporters.

In the days after the election, with Mr. Berlusconi still actively contesting the results, Mr. Ciampi had said that he would leave to his successor the job of asking Mr. Prodi to form a government. Mr. Ciampi, 85, is retiring on May 18 after his seven-year term.

That would delay the formation of a new government until at least late May, but investors and credit rating agencies concerned about Italy's economic problems and large public debt have been eager for the president to assign the mandate before then. Over the weekend, Mr. Prodi said he would name his entire government by the end of this week.

"My objective is to be ready, but I don't have any intention of dictating to President Ciampi," he told reporters on Monday. "But I can't be unprepared the day that he decides."

Meantime, Mr. Berlusconi's coalition of center-right parties waded into the politically charged debate over the presidency, saying that the new Parliament ought to re-elect Mr. Ciampi.

Mr. Ciampi, a banker and former prime minister himself, "has represented in these seven years a solid moral and institutional point for the entire nation," the coalition said in a statement.

The statement was notable because it essentially answered the question of who Mr. Berlusconi favors for the presidency, an office of tremendous influence and prestige in Italian politics. Filling the office is a complicated issue, both in relations between the Prodi and Berlusconi camps — important because the election was so close — as well as inside Mr. Prodi's own center-left coalition.

Mr. Berlusconi and his allies have argued that, given how many votes he won in the election, he should have a major say in who the candidate is. Over the weekend, Italian newspapers reported that he wanted Gianni Letta, one of this closest advisors, for the job.

But Mr. Prodi has to satisfy the largest party in his own coalition, the Democrats of the Left, and one of its leaders, Massimo D'Alema, also a former prime minister, has circulated as a possible future president.

Mr. Ciampi, one of the nation's most respected politicians, has expressed a desire to retire but has not completely ruled out a second term, though many experts say it might be for a relatively short time. If he agreed to another term — and Parliament confirmed him — it could nullify Mr. Ciampi's desire to have his successor give the mandate to Mr. Prodi, and thus speed up the formation of a new government. (NYT)

"10,100,1000 Nassiryias"

Italians have yesterday buried their fallen soldiers massacred while on duty in Nassiryia, Iraq. Emotional scenes were seen throughout the country and the ceremony was broadcasted live on national television. It is the second time that Italian troops belonging to the Carabinieri forces have fallen prey to the hands of muslim terrorists in Nassiryia.

To add insult to injury, Italians had to witness disgraceful scenes yesterday during the May Day Parade in Milan. A group of anarco-communists have once again derided the Carabinieri wishing them more losses in Iraq by shouting the disgraceful chant of "10, 100, 1000 Nassiryias!"

Needless to say, members of Mr Prodi’s coalition have distanced themselves from the shameful perpetrators...

‘Til next time…

Monday, May 01, 2006


In the first part of this post I will try to convey to you something you will hardly find in any of the Italian MSM, i.e. the exasperation and serious concern for their freedom and safety of more than 50% of the Italian people who have not voted for the centre-left coalition of Mr Prodi (The Italian electorate "residing" in the country gave Berlusconi's Casa delle Liberta' the majority of the votes).

Mr Prodi's alliance with former Italian Communists who now call themselves Partito della Rifondazione Comunista is already costing the Italians some of those elementary rights for which they fought alongside the Allies sixty years ago.

Now, after enjoying one of the best, longest, and uninterrupted spells of government since the end of WWII, a new dictatorship is looming on the horizon.

For those who live outside Italy surely this doesn't seem possible and my assumption may be regarded as exaggerated.

But we have already witnessed this past week the first signs of it, both in Parliament and in the streets of Rome and Milan.

After appointing the leader of Rifondazione Comunista Fausto Bertinotti speaker of the Lower chamber, and Franco Marini, a former unionist, speaker of the Senate, we are now waiting for the final blow which will tear the country apart: the election of former communist, now party chair of the Democratici di Sinistra (Democrats of the Left), Massimo D'Alema, as new Italian President.

If the new coalition majority elects a leftist president, such
'dictatorship of the majority ... would produce total opposition not only in parliament,'
Berlusconi predicted in the Sunday edition of the Corriere della Sera daily.

And now today's news

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is to submit his resignation to President Carlo Azeglio Campi Tuesday three weeks after parliamentary elections.
His designated successor Romano Prodi meanwhile has called for a swift government take-over and hopes to receive the order from the president to form a cabinet in the next days.

'Our objective is to have the government formed on May 4 or 5,
Prodi said at the weekend. However, the question of who would be appointed to most ministries in the future centre-left government was still open, sources in Rome said.
The incoming parliament is expected to elect a new state president in mid May as current President Ciampi steps down.
According to state television, the influential Left Democrats party, members of Prodi's poll-winning leftist coalition, are seeking to put forward party chair Massimo D'Alema as their presidential candidate. D'Alema, a former communist, served as prime minister from 1998 to 2000.
The Berlusconi camp however vehemently opposes a leftist president following the elections Saturday of both Prodi's candidates as speakers in the two chambers of parliament.
Berlusconi has indirectly threatened his designated successor Romano Prodi with pressure on the streets, a newspaper reported Sunday.
If the new coalition majority elects a leftist president, such 'dictatorship of the majority ... would produce total opposition not only in parliament,' Berlusconi predicted in the Sunday edition of the Corriere della Sera daily.
Prodi consolidated his narrow majority with the appointment of his candidates to the posts of speakers of parliament.
The election of Franco Marini and Fausto Bertinotti, two former trade unionists who play key roles within his centre-left coalition, came at the end of two days of chaotic and at times farcical rounds of voting.
In the decisive race for the Senate, where Prodi enjoys only a narrow majority as a result of the April 9-10 general election, Marini was elected with 165 votes out of 322. His centre-right rival, elder statesman Giulio Andreotti, bowed out after receiving 156 votes.
In the lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, Communist Refoundation leader Bertinotti received 337 votes, 32 more than the required majority in the 630-strong house.
The results represented a hard-fought victory for Prodi and showed that the former European Commission president will have to rely on the support of minor parties within his Union coalition, and even on the help of independent life senators, in order to govern.
Details of Prodi's list of ministers have not yet been disclosed. But financial expert Padoa Schioppa, a charter member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank (ECB), is certain to become economics minister, newspaper reports said.
The election of the new president is scheduled for May 13. The left cannot appoint their candidates to all senior government positions, the centre-right alliance said.

Earth. Year 2006.

Eleven years old Ania after her marriage ceremony at Jalpa Mata temple in Rajgarh, about 155 kilometers (96 miles) northwest of Bophal, India, on Sunday.
Ignoring laws that ban child marriages, hundreds of children, some as young as seven years old, were married in a centuries-old custom across central and western India, according to news reports.
AP Photo

Ocalan to be freed

Turkey, Ankara 1/5/2006

The main news this week is about the controversial anti-terror bill and the different interpretations of Article 6 which, unless revised in the next few days, may pave the way for Abdullah Ocalan's release.

Ocalan, inmate leader of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), could benefit from Article 6 and be granted amnesty together with several hundreds muslim terrorists and members of PKK.

Several lawyers have also asserted that the bill will further encourage religious propaganda and that Article 6 will be most useful to Islamists.

Following the warning from main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal that Article 6 may pave the way for Ocalan's release, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan signaled last week that the bill may be revised. It was reported over the weekend that the Justice Ministry plans to add a clause to the article saying, "This article will be valid only for crimes that are committed after the date the law came into effect," to put an end to debates over Ocalan.

Turkish Justice Minister Cemil Cicek said on Friday that Ocalan couldn't benefit from amnesty laws under the bill and denied claims that the article was added to the bill later. The military, however, claimed that the article was different in the draft text that was sent to them.
read more