daily archive: 09/16/2005
Brazil crackdown on human smuggling rings
Will Mexico follow suit?
Don't make me laugh. I'm glad the Brazilians are willing to do something, though. There are three-quarters of a million of them here illegally.
SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) - Police arrested 43 people Wednesday during raids on clandestine rings sneaking an increasing number of Brazilians into the United States, Europe and Mexico, authorities said.
Members of the U.S. Homeland Security Department and the Spanish Embassy in Brazil took part in the operation as observers, officials said.
Police said 60 search warrants and 56 arrest warrants were issued for suspected traffickers - including eight federal police agents, airline employees and members of Brazil's federal tax bureau - Federal Police Chief Jose Ivan Lobato said in a news conference in Sao Paulo.
A special agent in charge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office in Miami said the operation was crucial to help stop illegal immigrants entering the United States, including possible terrorists.
"There was no evidence linking the traffickers to terrorism, but this was definitely a national security issue to us," special agent Jesus Torres told reporters. "Terrorism is always a concern when we are dealing with illegal immigration."
A small group of Peruvians and Chinese also were among those arrested in the raids, which had the participation of nearly 600 officers in four states.
More than 20 people were arrested in the southern state of Santa Catarina, a major center of illegal immigration to the United States, in a sweep dubbed "Operation Bye Bye Brazil."
Agents were also targeting gangs operating in the city of Governador Valadares in Minas Gerais state, another illegal immigration hotspot, and in the states of Parana and Espirito Santo. Police did not specify how many people were arrested in each state.
Typically, the gangs bus immigrants to Brazil's largest city of Sao Paulo and use Guarulhos International Airport, the country's main international air travel hub, to fly their clients to Mexico.
Workers and federal police at Sao Paulo's airport are accused of making it easier for migrants to board flights. Wednesday's raids also targeted travel agencies that served as intermediaries for the smugglers, and criminals specializing in forging travel documents.
The number of Brazilians captured on the U.S.-Mexico border - 27,000 from October to July, nearly triple the previous year - illustrates the trend. Brazil's government estimates half the 1.5 million Brazilians in the United States are there illegally.
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Creepy Dutch Initiative
is instituting a database to track citizens from cradle to grave.
I wonder how long Anne Frank's family would have been able to dodge the Nazis if this had existed at the time.
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - The Dutch government plans to open an electronic file on every child at birth as a tool to spot and protect the troubled kids of the future.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2007, all citizens will be tracked from cradle to grave in a single database — including health, education, family and police records — the health ministry said Tuesday.
As a privacy safeguard, no single person or agency will be able to access all contents of a file. But organizations can raise "red flags" in the dossier to caution other agencies about problems, ministry spokesman Jan Brouwer said.
The intention is to protect troubled children, Brouwer said. Until now, schools and police have been unable to communicate with each other about truancy records and criminality, which are often linked.
"Child protection services will say, 'Hey, there's a warning flag from the police. There's another one from school. There's another one from the doctor," Brouwer said. "Something must be going on and it's time to call the parents in for a meeting."
Every child will get a Citizens Service Number, making it easier to keep track of children with problems even when their families move, said Secretary of Health Clemence Ross.
"Safety, guidance, education and supervision are incredibly important for the development of children," Ross said.
All Dutch births are currently registered with local authorities.
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DisasterSearch.org - The Katrina Evacuee Help Center
longwhitecloud alerted us to this righteous effort initiated by a New Zealander
who, with hundreds of volunteers globally, has been working 18-20 hours days since the hurricane struck to help the survivors of Katrina put their lives back together. Not only is it very functional (I bet you can't think of an evacuee's need that they're not trying to take care of), it's also stunningly gorgeous web design. Kudos, and thanks all the way across the Pacific to Lynne Pope in Palmerston North, from grateful America :-) You've done beautiful work and put our own government to shame.Katrina Evacuee Help Center : Search survivors, missing persons, fatalities, shelters, jobs, databases
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Bitter Foods for Bitter Comrades
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Mullahs: Screw Peaceful Atomic Energy, We Want The Bomb
The dispute between Iran and the West on the nuclear issue can be summed up by the answer to one main question: When Iran says that it's interested in developing nuclear capacity, what does it mean?Iran Admits: "The aim is a nuclear bomb"
Ali Larijani, the new secretary of the "Supreme Council for National Security" in Iran, went on a lot of trouble this week to convince the western press that Iran's intension is to gain nuclear capacity for peaceful use only. At the same time, his own brother, Mohammed Javad Larijani, who is also the head of the Physics Research Center in Iran, told an Iranian audience a completely different story.
During a speech he made at a conference on "Nuclear Technology and the Iranian people's will" on August 1st, Mohammed Javad Larijani told his audience that "It is our right to have nuclear defense and we will not be ready to give up this right..." and that "Iran's dispute with the West should have been over nuclear weapon production rather than over the nuclear fuel cycle...."
But doesn't it contradict Khamenei's famous fatwa, which supposedly religiously forbid the non-peaceful use of nuclear technology? Well, trust Mohammed Javad Larijani to sort things out. According to his speech "When we say that the legislator tied our hands regarding the use of nuclear weapons, he means only that we are not to make the first nuclear strike..."
Iran, therefore, admits bluntly their intention to develop nuclear weapons. Therefore, the next time representatives of the Iranian leadership tell the western press that their intention is to gain nuclear capacity for peaceful use only, we should ask ourselves: What does Iran really mean by "nuclear capacity"?
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Rage Followed the Forbidden Affair in Taybeh
Our Biblical Christian village has co-existed in peace with the surrounding Muslim villages for centuries. Not being able to comprehend the tragic events that took place in our little innocent village of Taybeh, I have been speechless for many days. I literally lost my voice yelling at the fanatics to go away from our doorsteps at the Taybeh Brewery as they were about to torch modern-state of the art equipment that produces the only micro brewed beer in the whole Middle East area named after our village. A violent mob of armed young men took the law in their own hands and come for a revenge attack on our whole extended family since a distant cousin was accused of having an affair with a woman from their village of Deir Ejreer. Over three hundred men aggressively raided the village between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. on Sept 3rd burning down houses, cars and looting. Taybeh residents evacuated their homes in fear of their lives thus no one was injured.
At the moment, Taybeh Beer, for me stands as a symbol for democracy in Palestine. It was Muslim fanatics that wanted to burn it and Muslim policemen that saved us. It is a challenge for the Palestinian Authority to protect the small Christian community and diverse populations in Palestine if there is to be a democratic two-state solution following the pro-longed years of occupation. By the way, the Israeli army jeep came in the village and the soldiers simply watched the houses burn down without doing anything in their power to stop the rage. Although we were on the phone with the army captain begging for immediate help to stop the violence.
We are overpowered by tribal laws which make it legal in the Islamic religion to kill women in the honor of the family. Thus, the Muslim woman, Hiyam was killed and buried by her brothers without a death certificate after discovered pregnant. The accused man, a Christian, paid the highest price by not only going to jail but knowing that sixteen homes were attacked belonging to his extended family leaving fourteen homes completely burned. Innocent families losing all of their personal belongings, furniture, clothes, family keepsakes that were passed down from generation to generation and beautiful family portraits that reflect the deep roots of this Christian village having a unique character and identity since the time Christ our Lord walked into this village before his crucifixion (John 11:54).
This barbaric and uncivilized behavior could not be stopped by the Israeli Occupying army or by the Palestinian Authority. As American citizens we made numerous phone calls to the American Consulate Emergency services pleading for help to put pressure on the Israelis to allow the Palestinian police to pass the checkpoints and arrive in Taybeh to stop the catastrophe. It took over three hours for the Palestinian police to arrive but with great appreciation to the American Consulate at least our brewery and our home were saved. This was totally unjustified violence that left over 72 people, the majority children, in despair and agony having nothing left except the shirt on their backs.
Furthermore, as a woman believing in human rights, what bothers me the most is that I live in a culture that wants to punish the man who slept with the woman instead of the men who killed the woman? And not only punish one man but in barbaric style punish every family member that is related to him; and we are talking about fifth cousins and sixth cousins; innocent people that have nothing to do and cannot control the sin of an individual. This aggression is something bizarre that has happened in our village and should be condemned by all people who believe in law and order.
I have never had such an experience in my twenty-five years in Palestine. It is my Muslim collogues who call me before my Christian friends to wish me “Merry Christmas.�? It is a Muslim mother that picks up my son at midnight when he is stranded in the city. My son’s best friend is a Muslim and I love him like my own son Costa. I cannot make logical sense of what has happened in our village. And we are in such deep need of reconciliation among all groups of people who are just in pure shock.
Christ’s love and peace is more important than ever. Our witness to Christian values and our struggle to exist as a small community is now at the mercy of not only the Israeli Occupying power which is legally responsible for protecting unarmed civilians but also at the hands of the Palestinian Authority who must bring law and order and put an end to tribal laws which are detrimental in this new millennium. Family feuds should be taken to a courtroom not solved in the hands of hundreds of crazy fanatics that are capable of wiping out a whole village with such aggressive violence that leave you speechless.
My husband David Khoury, the new mayor of Taybeh has make an appeal to many religious leaders, both Muslim and Christian and to all authorities including humanitarian organizations to help us have a strong voice as a Christian community and send letters of condemnation to the Israeli and Palestinian Prime Ministers that justice, law and order should prevail. Protection against such aggressive unjustified violence should be guaranteed for all human beings in the Holy Land regardless of religion, race, and gender. The violent aggression against our village should be condemned to help Taybeh maintain its unique character and identity as one of the most ancient places in Palestine and the only 100% Christian village left. We want the Palestinian justice system to prevail and not the tribal traditions that seek blood for forbidden relationships.
Note: Maria Khoury is author of Witness in the Holy Land and the new children’s book, Christina’s True Heroes about seven women saints.
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China upgrading anti-Carrier Strike Group capabilities
China is busy, busy, busy
preparing for a major war with the United States. The entire concept of a carrier strike group will face the most determined challenger yet. I wonder if our strategists are working on the next big thing, but I doubt it. It doesn't seem like the right atmosphere, when Rumsfeld is determined to singlehandedly transform the entire military into little more than an assemblage of terrorist-chasers and peacekeepers.
China's military is stepping up training and practice in countering U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups, the Hong Kong Kanwa Defense Review has reported. Internal Chinese military writings discuss the weaknesses of aircraft carriers, how to paralyze them and how to sink ships in battle groups.
A special unit on counter-aircraft carrier operations has been set up in the PLA Science and Engineering University. China's purchase of three old aircraft carriers from Russia and the Ukraine is part of the anti-carrier effort by China, according to the report. Countermeasures to carriers described in the Chinese writings include the use of submarines, naval air forces, surface vessels and tactical anti-ship missiles.
China also has been testing surface-to-surface missiles normally used on land in an anti-carrier mode. U.S. officials have said that the eight advanced Kilo diesel electric submarines China is buying from Russia would be equipped with long-range SS-N-27 anti-ship cruise missiles, which are believed to be part of the anti-carrier weaponry.
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US gives North Korea a deadline, tightens the screws
As part of the Bush administration's multi-pronged initiative to squeeze North Korea
, Bank of China (a private bank, not the central bank) is under investigation for involvement in laundering North Korean money. On another front, Condi Rice gave North Korea a five-day deadline
to make a serious offer or face the freezing of all its assets globally, after they yanked our chain by demanding a light-water nuclear reactor from us.Hurry, lemmings,
we must not miss this once in a lifetime
chance to invest our money in a credible
BEIJING (Reuters) - Bank of China and two banks based in Macau are under U.S. scrutiny for possible connections to North Korea's illicit fund-raising network, which Washington believes finances Pyongyang's nuclear program, The Wall Street Journal said Thursday.
Spokesmen for the Bank of China and China's foreign ministry both said they had no knowledge of the investigation but that China took money-laundering seriously.
"The Bank of China has always paid close attention to anti-laundering efforts to ensure the bank was operating according to relevant laws and regulations," bank spokesman Wang Zhaowen said in a statement.
The banks, which could face stiff sanctions, were caught up in a U.S. operation to shut down lucrative North Korean enterprises producing narcotics, counterfeit U.S. currency and fake cigarettes, the newspaper said.
According to the paper, law-enforcement officials from several countries had described the wide-ranging U.S. operation, while several North Korean defectors gave accounts of Pyongyang's financial network.
A spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, Qin Gang, said he did not know the basis of the Journal's report.
Beijing had ratified international conventions against money laundering and terrorism financing and had a serious attitude towards implementing them, Qin told a news conference.
"The Chinese government attaches great emphasis to dealing a blow to money-laundering, this serious criminal activity," he said.
Qin used the news conference to announce the resumption of six-party talks in Beijing next Tuesday aimed at dismantling North Korea's nuclear weapons.
Going to market
The U.S. investigation comes as Bank of China gears up for an initial public offering next year.
It recently hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (Research) to prepare the listing and sold two 10 percent stakes, each worth $3.1 billion, to Singapore state investment agency Temasek Holdings and to a consortium led by Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc.
Merrill Lynch & Co. and Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing invested alongside the Edinburgh-based bank.
One of the Macau lenders, Banco Delta Asia SARL, is controlled by Stanley Au, a prominent figure in Hong Kong financial markets who is also a legislator in Macau and serves as an adviser to the Chinese government.
The other bank, Seng Heng Bank Ltd., is controlled by billionaire gambling mogul Stanley Ho, who started a casino in Pyongyang and has close ties to Pyongyang and Beijing.
The Journal said executives at Banco Delta Asia had no comment. A spokesman for Seng Heng Bank told the newspaper: "We have nothing to provide you. We have no comment."
Banco Delta Asia SARL, a unit of Delta Asia Financial Group, has been under scrutiny by the Secret Service and other U.S. agencies since a publicly disclosed 1994 counterfeiting case by the Secret Service and Macau police that led to the arrests of North Korean officials in Macau, the Journal said.
Banco Delta Asia is a top candidate for being placed on a Treasury Department blacklist of entities allegedly involved in money laundering, people familiar with the matter said. Inclusion on the blacklist, which could be proposed shortly, could make it difficult for the bank to do business internationally.
The Secret Service, the Justice Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other U.S. agencies are investigating the banks as part of a new initiative against nuclear proliferation that the White House unveiled in June, the newspaper said.
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Zarqawi commits suicide
has all but guaranteed a fullblown Iraqi civil war by declaring a war on Shi'ites in general. I wonder what he's thinking. I know what I'm thinking. I'm thinking his Iranian puppeteers want to make sure we're so tied down in Iraq that we can't spare the troops to wake them up from their nuclear dreams, and they don't care how many thousands of Iraqi Shi'ites die in the process. Iraqi "give unto Caesar" Shi'ism is in competition with Iran's "dictatorship of the mullahs" model, so it's not a big surprise they'd turn on them. They're expendable.
DUBAI (Reuters) - The leader of Iraq's al Qaeda wing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi on Wednesday declared a war on Shi'ite Muslims in Iraq, according to an Internet audio tape.
"Al Qaeda Organization in Iraq ... has declared war against Shi'ites in all of Iraq," said the voice which could not be immediately verified but sounded like previous recordings attributed to Zarqawi.
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