Sunday, October 21, 2007

Another Republican Immigrant becomes a US Governor

Piyush "Bobby" Jindal (India) has joined the ranks of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (Austria), Gov. Jennifer Granholm (Canada) and former Gov. Gary Locke (China) as a child of immigrant parents who has become a US governor.

Some interesting facts about Jindal. He was born in 1971 in Baton Rouge to newly arrived Indian immigrants. He attended Brown University and Oxford University. Jindal, was twice elected as a member of the US House of Representatives from a New Orleans suburb. Prior to his election to Congress, he has held various high-level posts, including an appointment by President Bush. He will now be the youngest Governor in the US, at 36.

Jindal is the second Indian-American to serve in Congress after Dalip Singh Saund, a Democrat who represented California's 29th District from 1957 to 1963.

Religious & conservative views:

Jindal, who was born as a Hindu, converted to Catholicism during high school. Jindal made a particular campaign target of conservative northern and eastern parishes of Louisiana by visiting them frequently and bringing his brand of devout Christianity to their rural churches.

Jindal is a Republican and strong supporter of the Iraq war, off-shore oil drilling, Real-ID Act, guns, and pro-life.

While running for Governorship, Jindal did not have the support of a majority of Blacks, about a third of the population, who usually vote Democratic.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Korean Hostages held by Taliban were Trying to Convert Muslims

Top Exporter of Missionaries in the World (2007)

1. U.S.A.
2. South Korea

With between 12,000 and 17,000 missionaries in over 160 countries, South Korea has one of the biggest and most aggressive armies of Christian missionaries on earth. The number is second only to the estimate for the United States of 46,000. A conservative association of Protestant churches in South Korea has called for dispatching 100,000 missionaries by 2030.

Along with those full-time missionaries, South Korean churches dispatch numerous short-term evangelical, educational and medical missions. Saemmul Church has stressed that Bae's group was not engaged in evangelism, doing only relief work at hospitals and kindergartens. Nonetheless, the hostage crisis, and the deportation last year of 1,600 South Korean Christians gathering for a "peace festival" in Afghanistan, highlighted the overseas activities of South Korean Christians.

Above: Members of Korean Christian group who were in Afghanistan.

Above: Korean Christian group member with Afghani children.

"In South Korean churches, emphasis has always been on growth and expansion," said Lee Won Gue, a professor at Methodist Theological Seminary in Seoul. "There is a fierce competition among churches, so much so that the reputation of the pastor or his church often depends on how many missionaries are sent abroad and how many churches are built there."

Even small churches finance missionary expeditions, thanks to congregations generous with cash donations. Churches advertise their overseas missionary work to attract young members.

"Traditionally the number of missionaries from a country has depended on that country's economic power. In South Korea's case, the number far exceeds its economic standing," said Song Jae Ryong, a sociologist at Seoul's Kyunghee University. "Like Koreans in general, the Korean churches have a strong tendency of following a trend as a pack and going relentlessly after a goal."

In such an atmosphere, young people going on short-term missions arranged by these churches often do not properly train on safety and learn about indigenous religious and cultural backgrounds of their host countries, Song said.
Above: Members of Korean Christian group approach Afghani children and have them sing a hymn for Jesus.

Rev. Bae Hyung-kyu was the first hostage killed by the Taliban on July 26, 2007. Bae was an affable leader in charge of 300 youth members of his 9-year-old Saemmul Church. He looked the part when his group, most of its members in their 20s and 30s, posed for a group picture on July 13, when they left for Afghanistan. All smiled and raised clenched fists.

Above: A personal photo of one of the female Christian hostages (circled in red).

Bae left a job at a big South Korean company to study theology. He was ordained in 2001. He regularly traveled abroad on volunteer missions, most recently to Bangladesh. He reportedly told his friends that he "wanted to save people not with money, but with religion." His dream came to an abrupt end when Taliban gunmen stopped a bus carrying Bae's group from Kabul to the southern city of Kandahar.

Above: The Afghan government permitted a "cultural festival" by the IACD (Institute of Asian Culture and Development) but the Institute is argued to be a Korean Christian group.

Above: The Korean group shows the Afghani people their martial arts.

Above: The Korean group shows the Afghani people their traditional ethnic dance.

Above: Then the Korean group allegedly performed a Christian worship and sang a hymn for Jesus in Korean and English.

Above Pictures: It is claimed by a beggar and a man who interviewed him that the Christian Korean group obtained access past staff and guards to holy Islamic sites, like a mosque and a grave, by wearing black Islamic veils and then conducted their prayers through Christian worship.

Alternate Explanations

Some have argued that the pictures of the Koreans in Islamic veils is authetic and that they are simply are Muslim converts inside Afghanistan, as evidenced by these above pictures indicating the influence of Islam in South Korea.

The US Originally Imported Radical Christianity to Korea

Protestant missionaries from the US came to the Korean peninsula in the late 19th century.
Christianity initially failed to make a big impact in China and Japan, where missionaries were regarded as agents of Western imperialism.

Seoul's Yoido Full Gospel Church is the largest in the world. But the "religion from the West" spread quickly in the Hermit Kingdom, and American missionaries were seen by Korean nationalists as a source of support in their fight against Japanese colonial rulers.

Now South Korea has the largest percentage of evangelical Christians in Asia, at about 25% of the population. Having achieved such a following at home, Korean churches have started in the last couple of decades to look at ways to expand abroad.

Above: A Christian puts his hand on the head of monk raising alms in Korea.

"Pastors of big churches want to show off that they are doing something great for Christianity. Korea is a small country that has achieved a strong economy, and it wants to show its success to the world," said Chung-shin Park, a professor of Korean church history.

"Apart from the strong religious zeal, there is also a sense of nationalism behind this," he said.
"The church's ambition is to overtake the US and become the world's number one exporter of missionaries within the next two decades."

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Video - Public Execution by Hanging in Iran

- ABOVE VIDEO: Public hanging by the government of Iran in the month of July 2007. -

Countries with Most Executions (2006)

  1. China
  2. Iran
  3. Pakistan
  4. Iraq
  5. Sudan
  6. United States

Iran retains government sanctioned execution, which includes the use of public hanging and public stoning to death. The regime often executes dissidents and others who speak against the government by charging them with crimes they have not committed, such as drug smuggling or adultery. The killings are done in public in order to instill fear into the hearts of others who would dare speak out against the Iranian government.

Women's rights activists also continue to face reprisals for their activities demanding an end to laws which discriminate against women. Amnesty International has recorded at least 120 executions since the beginning of 2007, suggesting that by the end of this year the total number of executions could exceed the total of 177 executions recorded in 2006.

- Above Picture: Fariba Tajiani-Emamqoli and her 4 male accomplices hung by crane in 2001. -

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Conservative French President Sarkozy Appoints Three Immigrant Women to the top of his Cabinet

New French President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged to shake up and renew France when he took office. And he started with his cabinet, which includes 11 women -- three of them from minority backgrounds.

They're women, they're from minority backgrounds and they're feminists. Until recently, those weren't exactly trump cards for someone striving to build a political career in France, even less so when they were trying to build that career in the conservative UMP party.

Still, a woman from the Maghreb region of North Africa is now in charge of the Justice Ministry on Place Vendôme, a woman born in Senegal is responsible for human rights issues in the Foreign Ministry on the Quai d'Orsay and a woman of Algerian descent is to henceforth devote herself to the socially disadvantaged in the banlieues, the suburbs that have been the site of so much unrest in recent years. Dati, Yade and Amara: These names are the first indications that the promise of a "Sarkozy revolution" is being kept.

The irony is, of course, that during the presidential election campaign it was Sarkozy's Socialist rival Royal who grabbed everyone's attention as the embodiment of changed gender roles and as the obvious favorite of female voters. She was the one who called for sexual equality and the integration of ethnic minorities in a "colorful, diverse France." What Royal never mentioned was that for decades the left had failed to even put an end to ethnic discrimination within its own ranks.

Dati as minister of justice is an ideal choice. The 41-year-old, a child of a Moroccan bricklayer and an illiterate Algerian housewife, built a career as a judge before achieving success as Sarkozy's spokeswoman. The president appointed her "so that no child in our suburbs will doubt that there is only one justice in France, the same for all."

The president has another highly valuable colleague in Amara. The outspoken left-wing politician has been active in the struggle against racism and discrimination: She is known across the nation as the founder of the organization "Neither Whores nor Subordinated" (Ni Putes Ni Soumises), which helps Muslim girls. A Muslim herself, she will be responsible for the crumbling suburban fringes of France's major cities.

"Beautiful, black, young" -- that's how French daily Le Parisien describes the attributes of Yade, who -- barely 30 years old -- has been made the State Secretary for Human Rights by Sarkozy. She was born in Dakar, and is the daughter of a diplomatic advisor to Senegalese President Léopold Senghor and a history teacher, and she grew up on the outskirts of Paris. Disappointed by the Socialist Party, the political scientist offered her services to the conservative UMP Party. There, she made her career overnight after delivering a terrific speech in front of 80,000 UMP followers at the beginning of Sarkozy's electoral campaign. She then acquitted herself with elegance and eloquence in discussion forums and TV appearances.

According to Sarkozy's close friends, he views his female team of ministers as a particularly successful coup, and is above all proud of the first steps of his colleagues from minority backgrounds. "When I saw Rachida Dati in the Superior Council of the Judiciary on her red chair, a woman amongst all those men, I was moved," the president said.

He complimented Yade on being like a "wild horse," and then gave her an even greater compliment. "There are only two black women on the international stage," he said. "The American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Rama Yade."

Racism Against Dati

Rachida Dati, France's new justice minister, has had a rough few weeks. She has lost key advisors, she's been attacked in the press and her family has been put in the negative spotlight over drug charges against her brother. Anti-racism activists say Dati has been the victim of a smear campaign.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Canada May Allow US Cops to Carry Guns Across the Border

The federal government of Canada is proposing to ease restrictions on foreign law-enforcement officers who carry weapons into Canada.

In a reciprocal agreement with the United States, the regulation would exempt officers, including police and air marshals, from a “foreign state” from having to obtain permits for side arms, according to a posting on the government's official publication, the Canada Gazette and reported on CTV News Monday night.

The changes could mean that both domestic and foreign officers could enter and leave Canada with their weapons without having to get an import and export permit. Currently, police officers from other countries can bring weapons into Canada only in extreme circumstances, such as when accompanying a head of state on an official visit.

While some say the regulation would lead to a safer border, others suggest it could have broad implications for gun control in Canada and could lead to dangerous situations.

The proposed changes could open the rules to wide interpretations, Liberal MP Dan McTeague said. “[This] opens the door to a number of real concerns that I don't think police or politicians or Canadians have had a chance to look into,” he said. “Issues of sovereignty, issues of the kind of guns and duty weapons that are being brought in, may very well be inconsistent with the laws we have on prohibition of weapons.”

Paul Cellucci, former U.S. ambassador to Canada, said the regulation will make the border safer.
“If you're working on a joint team and you're chasing some criminal, you're not going to be dropping your weapon every time you go across the border,” he said. “We're working together, we're going after the same bad guys. It's in our national interest to stop the terrorists, to stop the smugglers.”

Monday, June 11, 2007

Colin Powell Admits Guantanamo has Ruined U.S. Reputation Abroad

Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell became the first from within the administration to call for the shut down of the U.S. Guantanamo Bay detainment camp. He also admitted that the U.S. reputation abroad has since been ruined.

"If it was up to me, I would close Guantanamo not tomorrow, but this afternoon," Powell said Sunday in an interview on the NBC News program, Meet the Press. "I'd close it. And I would not let any of those people go. I would simply move them to the United States and put them into our federal legal system. The concern was, well, then they'll have access to lawyers, then they'll have access to writs of habeas corpus. So what. Let them. Isn't that what our system is all about? And by the way, America, unfortunately, has two million people in jail all of whom had lawyers and access to writs of habeas corpus. So we can handle bad people within our system."

"We have shaken the belief that the world had in America's justice system by keeping a place like Guantanamo open and creating things like the military commission." Powell said. "We don't need it, and it is creating far more damage than anything we get for it."

All this has come after military judges ruled this past week that the Pentagon could not prosecute two suspects currently in custody in Guantanamo.

Above: "Hölle auf Erden" (Hell on Earth) - by Warheit (Azad, Chaker, Jeyz & Sezai).

This is song is very popular right now in Germany is done by a group of famous German rappers. The video depicts Guantanamo captives and denounces US policies. It's popularity is a direct confirmation of Colin Powell's remarks that actions like Guantanamo have ruined the US reputation abroad.


Friday, June 01, 2007

Immigration Reform: The Real Reason Bush Wants Reform

What could be better for business than a workforce that toils for next to nothing, drives down wages for everyone else, can't protest or unionize, and then goes away when you're done with them? Your guide to the guest worker program.

Key to the Bush administration's approach to immigration reform is the controversial guest worker program, which preserves the flow of cheap, low-skilled labor to American businesses while limiting the potential costs to employers and taxpayers. Under the program, there will be no children to educate (since guest workers won't be allowed to bring their families with them), no old-age entitlements to dole out (since workers will have to return home after working here for a maximum of six years), not even any health care to pay for (since these low-wage workers will be required to purchase health insurance).

It appears their goal is not to keep out immigrants, who are indispensable to the U.S. economy, but rather to control and exploit them more effectively. Why give them the opportunity to become citizens—or even permanent residents—if we can get what we need from them and then send them packing?

Though it's been cast by the Bush administration as a novel way to solve the nation's immigration problem, guest worker programs are nothing new in the United States. In fact, such programs have a uniformly sordid history that goes back nearly a century. "Emergency" guest worker programs were launched in response to labor shortages during both World War I and World War II and lingered long after the troops had returned home. At its peak in the 1950s, the notoriously exploitative Bracero Program (bracero translates to unskilled laborer) imported nearly a half-million temporary agricultural workers from Mexico. In its concise history of guest worker programs, the Center for Immigration Reform notes: "Citizen farmworkers in the Southwest simply could not compete with braceros. The fact that braceros were captive workers who were totally subject to the unilateral demands of employers made them especially appealing to many employers. It also led to extensive charges of abuse of workers by employers as most of the provisions for the protection of braceros' wage rates and working conditions were either ignored or circumvented." What could be better for business than a workforce that works for next to nothing, drives down wages for everyone else, can't protest or unionize, then goes away when you’re done with them?

But if we're letting them stay, it's not because we're doing illegal immigrants a favor, it’s because we couldn't survive a day without them. These 12 million undocumented workers, who are for the most part employed, are only filling an obvious need. They are vital to the profits of American agribusiness (which also stands to be a primary beneficiary of the guest worker program) and form the backbone of the low-cost workforce in the service industries. (They are actively sought out by American companies for the purpose of breaking unions.) Illegal immigrants also work at army bases as cooks and janitors.

Not only do these undocumented immigrants fight our wars, grow our food, care for our children and elderly, and serve us in a hundred ways every day, but they have also become an integral cog in American economic growth. According to a February 2007 study by New York's Center for an Urban Future, immigrants are more likely to be self-employed than non-immigrants, spurring growth in new businesses from food manufacturing to health care. "Immigrant entrepreneurs are now the entrepreneurial sparkplugs of cities," according to Jonathan Bowles, the Center’s director.

Some Arab Countries Already Have a Similar Immigration Policy

Odd that the United States is striving to erect a program that emulates the model of the Gulf Arab States of the Middle East - low wage workers, no unions, no ties, perfect opportunities for visa exploitation and abuse. Odd that the more certain factions in America call to change this region, other factions work to make America more like it...there's a certain Newtonian irony to it - when you push to change other countries, you wind up pushing your own away from its ideals.

France to Pay Immigrants to Return Home

- France's new Immigration, Integration and National Identity Minister, Brice Hortefeux toured Charles de Gaulle airport on his first day on the job. He has said he intends to pay more immigrants to return home. -

New conservative French President Nicolas Sarkozy made immigration a central issue of his campaign. Now, his new minister for immigration and national identity, Brice Hortefeux, says its time to start paying immigrants to leave the country.
The government is planning to offer incentives to more immigrants to return home voluntarily. "We must increase this measure to help voluntary return. I am very clearly committed to doing that," Hortefeux said in an interview with RFI radio.

Under the scheme, Paris will provide each family with a nest egg of €6,000 ($8,000) for when they go back to their country of origin. A similar scheme, which was introduced in 2005 and 2006, was taken up by around 3,000 families.

Hortefeux, who heads up the new "super-ministery" of immigration, integration, national identity and co-development, said he wants to pursue a "firm but humane" immigration policy.
The new ministry was a central pledge in Nicolas Sarkozy's election campaign, who had warned that France was exasperated by "uncontrolled immigration."

Since he was appointed by the new president last Friday, Hortefeux has insisted that "co-development" will be an important plank of French immigration policy. He argued that the system of voluntary return can be seen as a means for investment in developing countries. He said that the method of transferring funds via returning immigrants to their country of origin was a better policy than providing aid for development.

"To be integrated, you need language skills and a professional activity," he told RFI, and said he is considering introducing a language test to prospective immigrants.

France is home to an estimated 1.5 million immigrants from mostly Muslim North Africa and 500,000 from sub-Saharan Africa, according to the 2004 census.

Asked on RFI about how the notion "national identity," fits into the new ministry -- the term has been fiercely criticized by the French left -- Hortefeux said: "This should not be understood as something menacing, but on the contrary, it is initiative with the aim of bringing coherence."

Friday, May 25, 2007

Jesus Statue in Brazil Even Controlled by Crime Lords

Police in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, have broken up an alleged multi-million-dollar scam involving the famed Christ the Redeemer monument, a towering statue of Jesus with extended arms that is one of the world's most visited tourist locations.

According to Brazilian officials, the scam allegedly involved ticket agents, tour guides, security guards and other employees of Tijuca National Park, who ripped off $9 million in fees paid by tourists.

Police say the employees turned in tourist fees for only one of every 15 official tour trams visiting the monument, keeping the rest of the money for themselves. The cost to visit the Christ the Redeemer statue is about $10, and the monument has millions of visitors each year. Police estimate the suspects were allegedly pocketing some $50,000 to $250,000 a month.

Christ the Redeemer is located at the top of Rio's famed Mount Corcovado. Legend has it that "Christ" always looks over Rio and its citizens. Trains to see the statue, particularly during high-tourist season, are packed.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

2 Hot Movies Coming Soon - Both Based on Iranians

Movie #1 - "The Crossing"

Plot: Immigrants of different nationalities struggling to achieve legal status in Los Angeles. The film deals with the border, document fraud, the asylum and green card process, work-site enforcement, naturalization, the office of counter terrorism and the clash of cultures.

The film depicts an Iranian-American family (the Baraheri family) trying to obtain US citizenship and who's daughter is murdered by her brother due to her liberal lifestyle, called in some countries an "honor killing." This was objected to by the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) who were able to persuade the director to actually have significant details of the script changed.
Actors: Harrison Ford, Sean Penn, Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd.

Director: Wayne Kramer was born in South Africa and he immigrated to the United States in 1986 to pursue a career in film. In 1996, Wayne directed the original 35mm short film "Crossing Over" which won many international movie awards. He now making a Hollywood version.

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Movie #2 - "Persepolis"

Above: Trailer for the French release of the cartoon "Persepolis."

Plot: Based on Marjane Satrapi's best-selling graphic novel, the poignant coming-of-age story of a precocious and outspoken young Iranian girl that begins during the Islamic Revolution.

US Release: The film debuted in Cannes and will be released in French. U.S. distribution has been secured through Sony Pictures Classics for an English version coming in the future.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Underground Fashion Shows Thrive in Islamic Iran

Above: A model shows off one of the outfits at a secret exhibition in the basement of a nondescript Tehran apartment building.

Tehran — FIRST, a text message arrived. The brief note invited recipients to call about the location of a secret meeting. A cryptic phone conversation followed. "Who referred you?" a woman asked. "Who do you know?"
A man drove up in a Korean hatchback and dropped off a coded slip of paper. The directions led to a bland apartment building in the north of this capital.

There, men and women draped in coats and head scarves entered the lobby, their faces sullen. A young man examined their documents for signs of forgery before allowing them to pass down the staircase to the basement and into a sea of bare skin and perfume.
Amid air kisses and gossip, techno and hip-hop music thumps. The guests slide out of dark overcoats to unsheathe daringly low-cut dresses and open-slit gowns, form-fitting sweaters and go-go boots, skin-tight T-shirts and acid-washed jeans. Skinny, long-legged models giggle as they slip into outfits of satin and silk. A red carpet serves as a runway.

A clandestine Tehran fashion show glitters gloriously to life.
"Everyone is putting on a show," declares Azita, a 46-year-old designer attending the show with her 20-year-old daughter, giddily taking in the swirl of lights, music, perfume and colored fabrics. "All the ladies have gotten into the fashion business. We love it so much because the clerics hate it." She and others taking part and watching the show asked that their family names not be published for fear of retribution.
Since the beginning of the Islamic Republic 28 years ago, those who opposed Iran's Islamic system have carved out sanctuaries from its restrictions. Those islands have become more and more elaborate. They include outlandish liquor- and drug-soaked parties, art exhibitions, showings of banned movies, hip-hop concerts.

Fashion shows of outfits that abide by Islamic dress codes are common. All-women shows of new designs that don't are relatively rare. But fashion exhibitions featuring scantily clad models parading before mixed audiences of men and women almost never take place here. At least one major Internet service provider even forbids Google searches for the word "fashion."

None of that deterred Sadaf, the 30-year-old designer behind this showcase. For dozens of days and sleepless nights, she planned and organized. She scoured the bazaars for exotic fabrics. She scribbled designs onto scraps of paper in a spare room of her parents' flat in north Tehran, then hired a tailor to turn her concepts into clothing. She took the risky step of asking a friend to put up a website, . She signed six models, four of them from abroad, footing the bill for their airfare to Tehran. She could have used local models, she said, but their figures weren't up to "international standards."

She and her boyfriend combed the city and worked contacts for weeks in search of a venue that would agree to lend them a space for such a controversial event. Five days before the show, a friend of a friend agreed to rent them this basement for $1,000. They signed a document promising that all women would abide by Islamic dress codes.

"I'm a little terrified to do this," says Sami, a professional model. She spent six years posing for shoots and working catwalks in the United Arab Emirates city of Dubai across the Persian Gulf before moving back to Iran last year.

Working as a model in Tehran meant going underground.

"We talk about modeling on the phone," Sami says. "But we don't talk about parties and shows on the phone. The designers call us when they need us. People are invited at the last minute. No one knows the address. Everything is like that here in Iran. Everything is private. No one works publicly."

Sadaf's outfits range in price from $130 to $760, a fortune in a country where schoolteachers earn about $2,500 a year. She sells four outfits this night, enough to cover the rent.
Some of the musicians perform afterward. The models, guests and organizers mingle over tea, refreshments and live music, savoring a night of respite from the Islamic Republic's dour fashions and rules.

Even as government censors attempt to tighten restrictions on movies and music, young Iranians now groove to their own tunes on iPods or Walkmans as they go down the street, a rare sight only five years ago. Women still comply with the requirement of keeping themselves covered, but the coverings have become tighter, more colorful and shorter, their mandatory scarves more flimsy and revealing.

Some worry that the retreat into superficial pleasures portends ill for Iran's future.
"As a backlash against the ideology imposed by the state and a mutiny against what they were indoctrinated in the schools … the youth are becoming more and more hedonistic," said Ali Dehbashi, the publisher of a well-known literary quarterly magazine, Bokhara.

The young appear to be making a conscious decision. They learn how to model watching fashion channels that are only a few clicks of the remote control away from programs by Los Angeles exiles urging them to rise up against their government. They organize shows with the same passion and stealth that dissidents might use to plot against authorities.
They invest their ingenuity into pushing the boundaries of fashion instead of politics.

Political Activist Angelina Jolie & her Movie "A Mighty Heart"

Above: Trailer for "A Mighty Heart" to be released June 22, 2007

The Film

The film recounts the life of Daniel Pearl, an American journalist with The Wall Street Journal who was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan. At the time of his kidnapping, Pearl had been investigating the case of Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, and alleged links between Al Qaeda and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence. Pearl was decapitated and his body was found cut into ten pieces. A video was released by his captors showing Pearl's beheading.

Additional Link: Daniel Pearl beheading video

The Actress

Angelina Jolie stars in the movie and it is partly produced by Brad Pitt. Ms. Jolie is well known for humanitarian generosity, as she has worked for the United Nations, donated literally millions of her own money, and has traveled to countless countries to meet refugees and other underprivileged groups. She has also adopted children from Cambodia, Ethiopia and Vietnam. Here are pictures of her traveling the world for worthy causes: MSNBC Photos

Above: Angelina Jolie's tatoo on the bottom of her neck says "Know your rights" and on her left shoulder is a verse written in Khmer.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

James Baker & Jimmy Carter Admit Israel is the Problem

- PHOTO: Iraeli & Palestinian Couple Fight to Love Eachother -
For Palestinian ID holders married to Israeli citizens or permanent residents of Jerusalem, they must either build their family outside of the country or choose to live “illegally” inside Israel, which means they cannot legally work, drive etc.

Two unprecedented statements have been expressed that have historically been wholly off the table for discussion. The statements regard the oppression of the Palestinians as being a reality, and one which is a cause of Middle East tyranies.

The commission (Iraq Study Group) that issued a harsh analysis of President George W. Bush's Iraq policy said "To put it simply, all key issues in the Middle East - the Arab-Israeli conflict, Iraq, Iran, the need for political and economic reforms and extremism and terrorism - are inextricably linked."

"The United States will not be able to achieve its goals in the Middle East unless the United States deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict," the report said.

One possible scenario for ending that would include return of the strategic Golan Heights to Syria after four decades of Israeli occupation. That would come only after Damascus had met politically and diplomatically difficult, possibly even incriminating, conditions.

Meanwhile, speaking about his new book Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid, Jimmy Carter told CNN, "However, in the West Bank, in the occupied territories, a horrible example of apartheid is being perpetrated against the Palestinians who live there. Israel has penetrated and occupied, confiscated and colonized major portions of the territory belonging to the Palestinians."

Sources: ;

Friday, December 08, 2006

How Canada Treats Their "Illegals"

Police have carried out a series of raids on 18 Vancouver-area massage parlours, making 108 arrests. According to the RCMP, police targeted parlours suspected of having connections to the sex trade, organized crime and human trafficking operations.

But no charges have been laid and most of the parlour workers appear to be Canadian citizens, according to CTV Vancouver's Lisa Rossington. A police investigation is currently underway.

"As both Canadians and law enforcement personnel, we are very concerned about people being deceived or coerced into coming to Canada, with the hope of a better life, only to be held in virtual slavery," said RCMP Superintendent Bill Ard. "It is situations such as these, where there are suspicions of people being victimized, that clearly demonstrate the importance of the RCMP and outside agencies working together, to help protect those who are vulnerable and who do not have an opportunity to help themselves.

According to Rob Johnston of the Canada Border Services Agency, officials do not deport victims of human trafficking from the country.

"Under the new guidelines and laws these victims can be issued temporary residence permits by Citizenship and Immigration Canada and if in our work we do locate victims we are in immediate contact with the RCMP and with Citizenship and Immigration Canada," said Johnston.

Victims of human trafficking are also provided with temporary health coverage until they are considered eligible for provincial health coverage. Other available services can include housing, health care, emergency income, trauma counseling and legal assistance, according to Susanne Dahlin of the B.C. Public Safety Ministry.


Monday, December 04, 2006

Death Squads Target Iraqi Gays

Following a death-to-gays fatwa issued last October by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, death squads of the Badr Corps have been systematically targeting gay Iraqis for persecution and execution, gay Iraqis say. But when they ask for help and protection from U.S. occupying authorities in the “Green Zone,” gay Iraqis are met with indifference and derision.

“The Badr Corps is committed to the ‘sexual cleansing’ of Iraq,“ says Ali Hili, a 33-year-old gay Iraqi exile in London who, with some 30 other gay Iraqis who have fled to the United Kingdom, five months ago founded the Abu Nawas Group there to support persecuted gay Iraqis.

Said Hili, “We believe that the Badr Corps is receiving advice from Iran on how to target gay people.” In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been carrying out a lethal anti-gay pogrom against Iranian gays, notably through entrapment by Internet -- and this tactic has recently begun to be used by the Badr Corps in Iraq to identify and hunt down Iraqi gays.

The well-armed Badr Corps is the military arm of the Iranian-backed Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the powerful Shia group that is the largest political formation in Iraq’s Shia community, which was headquartered in Tehran until Saddam Hussein‘s fall. The SCIRI’s Badr Corps is trained and commanded by former Iraqi army officers.

The Ayatollah Sistani, the 77-year-old Iranian-born cleric who is the supreme Shia authority in Iraq, is revered by SCIRI as its spiritual leader. His anti-gay fatwa (available on Sistani’s official website) says that “people involved” in homosexuality “should be killed in the worst, most severe way of killing.”

Speaking by telephone from London, the Abu Nawas Group's Hili said that “there is a very, very serious threat to life for gay people in Iraq today. We are receiving regular reports from our extensive network of contacts with underground gay activists and gay people in Iraq -- intimidation, beatings, kidnappings and murders of gays have become an almost daily occurrence. The Badr Corps was killing gay people even before the Ayatollah’s fatwah, but Sistani’s murderous homophobic incitement has given a green light to all Shia Muslims to hunt and kill lesbians and gay men.”

Hili says,”Badr Corps agents have a network of informers who, among other things, target alleged 'immoral behavior'. They kill gays, unveiled women, prostitutes, people who sell or drink alcohol, and those who listen to western music and wear western fashions.

"Badr militants are entrapping gay men via internet chat rooms. They arrange a date, and then beat and kill the victim. Males who are unmarried by the age of 30 or 35 are placed under surveillance on suspicion of being gay, as are effeminate men. They will be investigated and warned to get married. Badr will typically give them a month to change their ways. If they don't change their behavior, or if they fail to show evidence that they plan to get married, they will be arrested, disappear and eventually be found dead. The bodies are usually discovered with their hands bound behind their back, blindfolds over their eyes, and bullet wounds to the back of the head.”

Tahseen is an underground gay activist in Iraq, and a correspondent there for the British Abu Nawas Group. A 31-year-old photography lab technician, Tahseen told me by telephone from Baghdad this weekend that, “Just last week, four gay people we know of were found dead. I am afraid to leave my room and go out in the street because I will be killed. We all live in fear.“ Tahseen said that men who seem obviously gay “cannot walk in the street. My best friend was recently killed for being gay.”

Tahseen confirmed the murderous efficiency of the Badr Corps’ Internet entrapment program. “Within one hour after they meet a gay person in an Internet chat room, that person will disappear and be found dead,” he said, adding that “since Sistani’s fatwa, the life of a gay person is worth nothing here, and the violence and killings have gotten much, much worse.”

Tahseen lives in a Baghdad apartment with his two brothers. “Right now, I have five gay men hiding in my room in fear of their lives, because they cannot go outside without risking being killed,” he said, with anguish audible in his voice. “They are all listening to me as I speak with you.” All those hiding with Tahseen are in their late twenties or early thirties, and by their mannerisms would be easily identified as gay by most Iraqis. I spoke briefly with one of them, who expressed his fear in a soft, shy voice.

One of those being given refuge by Tahseen is Bashar, a 34-year-old stage actor, who was forced to go into hiding after receiving death threats against him and his family. Before he went underground, his house was raided several times by the Badr Corps. Fortunately, he was not at home, otherwise he fears he would have been kidnapped and killed.

“We desperately need protection!” pleaded Tahseen. “But, when we go to the Americans, they laugh at us and don’t do anything. The Americans are the problem!” The Abu Nawas Group’s Hili confirmed from London that representations to officials of the U.S. occupation in Baghdad’s famous “Green Zone” had been made by underground gay activists, only to be met with disdain and indifference.

Hili, who has a bachelor’s degree in English literature, and who used to work for Iraqi radio and television, fled to the U.K. in 2002 after having been persecuted for being gay under Saddam Hussein. “In the late ‘80s and early 90s there were a couple of gay clubs in Baghdad, but they were all shut down in 1993 after sanctions were imposed against Saddam’s regime and Iraq. We had a weekly gay nightclub in the Palestine Hotel (right) that became the gathering place for gay people, especially for actors and others in the entertainment world, but it, too, was shut down. I was arrested three times for being gay, and tortured. After several attempts, I finally was able to escape the country, going first to Dubai, then Jordan, then Syria, and finally reaching England.” Now, Hili says, he is heartbroken to see that, three years after Saddam’s fall, life for gay people in Iraq is even more unbearable than before.

“Just last night I spoke via Internet with a young gay man in his mid-20s who was caught by SCIRI agents. He had no identification with him -- gay people are afraid to carry their I.D.s when they go in the street in case they are caught,” because both the police and the Badr Corps agents would inform their families and add them to a list of known homosexuals, which would be used later to target them for killing.. “This young man had his left arm broken by the SCIRI thugs -- I saw this with my own eyes via Internet camera,” Hili said.

Hili said the Abu Nawas Group is accumulating evidence that Iranian agents are advising SCIRI and the Iraqi police on how to implement anti-gay persecution. Not only has Iran’s Internet entrapment campaign targeting gays been adopted in Iraq, he says, but there are reports that Iranian agents have been involved in interrogations, questioning those arrested in Persian through translators. “This is particularly true in Basra in the south,” Hili says.