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Wednesday, 29 July 2015
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Press Review nį171- by Gilberte Jacaret Print E-mail

Senate Passes Health Care Overhaul on Party-Line Vote... By ROBERT PEAR. New York Herald Tribune, Dec. 25, 2010.

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted Thursday to reinvent the nation’s health care system, passing a bill to guarantee access to health insurance for tens of millions of Americans and to rein in health costs.

The 60-to-39 party-line vote, starting at 7:05 a.m. on the 25th straight day of debate on the legislation, brings Democrats closer to a goal they have pursued for decades and brings President Obama a step closer to success in his signature domestic initiative. When the roll was called, with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. presiding, it was the first time the Senate had gathered for a vote on Christmas Eve since 1895.

If the bill becomes law, it would be a milestone in social policy, comparable to the creation of Social Security in 1935 and Medicare in 1965. But unlike those programs, the initiative lacks bipartisan support. Only one Republican supported a broadly similar bill that the House approved last month 220 to 215, and no Republicans backed the Senate version.

American airline attack... The Economist, Dec. 26. Terror in the sky...

An attempt to down an airliner, apparently inspired by al-Qaeda, thankfully fails…….Another concern is the connection with Britain and Nigeria. Britain has a record of turning out radicalized young Muslims intent on carnage though it is trying to tackle this problem.

But terrorism-watchers are growing increasingly worried that al-Qaeda and other Islamist terrorist groups from across north Africa have attached themselves to Nigeria’s Islamic sects, which feed off ever-mounting resentment of its wretched government. Either way, al-Qaeda’s long reach has made itself apparent once again.


Pope moves controversial wartime pope closer to sainthood... European Jewish Press, Dec 22.

VATICAN CITY (AFP)---Pope Benedict XVI moved controversial wartime pontiff Pius XII closer to sainthood by declaring him "venerable" in a surprise announcement on Saturday, provoking the ire of Jewish leaders.
The pontiff simultaneously bestowed the same title on his beloved predecessor John Paul II and paved the way for the beatification of Jerzy Popieluszko, the activist priest who helped bring down Poland's communist regime. 

The triple announcement by the German-born pope "took everyone by surprise," Vatican expert Bruno Bartoloni told AFP, adding: "There will certainly be negative reactions" from the Jewish community.  
The head of Germany's Central Jewish Council, Stephan Kramer, told AFP in Berlin that Benedict was "rewriting history."  

"This is a clear hijacking of historical facts concerning the Nazi era. Benedict XVI rewrites history without having allowed a serious scientific discussion. That's what makes me furious," he said.  
Italian Jewish leaders said they were still awaiting access to the Vatican's archives so that they could make an accurate historical assessment of Pius XII, who is accused of not having done enough to save Europe's Jews from the Nazis.  

"We do not forget the deportations of Jews from Italy and in particular the train that deported 1,021 people on October 16, 1943, which left Rome's Tiburtina station for Auschwitz to the silence of Pius XII," said a statement. 


Israeli company finds oil beneath Rosh Ha'ayin ! (near Petah Tikwa)... Haaretz, Dec. 24

An Israeli oil exploration company on Thursday announced that it had found a huge amount of oil and gas during drilling below the city of Rosh Ha'ayin this week.

Givot Olam Oil Exploration Limited Partnership said that more than 60 percent gas was measured in the drill, indicating the first such find in Israel.

The company said it was too soon to determine what significance the find would bring to Israel, but added that it would become clear over the next few months of drilling whether it could be used for commercial purposes.

Givat Olam began drilling at the Megged 5 well beneath Rosh Ha'ayin last June. Its shares rose 123 percent upon news of the find. 

Immigration to Israel hits 16,244, highest jump in 10 years... by Raphael Ahren. Haaretz, Dec. 28.

For the first time in 10 years the number of immigrants to Israel has risen this year, according to Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky and Immigration and Absorption Minister Sofa Landver.
In 2009, 16,244 people immigrated - a 17 percent jump over last year's 13,859.

The number of immigrants from English-speaking countries has also increased by 17 percent this year, from 4,511 to 5,294, said Eli Cohen, the director-general of the agency's aliyah department. 

After 10 years during which we saw less and less immigrants, now we see an increase," said Sharansky yesterday at a press conference at the Jewish Agency's Jerusalem headquarters. "This year there were more immigrants from the former Soviet Union, more immigrants from the United States, from Britain and from South Africa - there's an increase from almost everywhere."

The largest number of new immigrants still comes from the former Soviet Union, where the numbers increased by 21 percent from 5,867 to 7,120.

Sharansky and Landver attributed the climb to what the Jewish Agency calls its "Red Carpet" program, which includes so-called aliyah fairs for new arrivals during which they are assisted with their initial absorption, such as opening bank accounts, choosing health care providers, etc.

The numbers presented at yesterday's press conference include four planeloads of immigrants who are scheduled to arrive in Israel this week, but exclude Ethiopians who moved to Israel this year, as they did not immigrate according to the Law of Return but based on a special law, called the Law of Entrance.


Iranian opposition website reports Tehran violence. Clashes...Euronews, Dec 26

In Tehran, according to an Iranian opposition website, violent clashes between security forces and opposition demonstrators are said to have been taking place in many parts of the capital.

The reformist Jaras website said forces including the Revolutionary Guard also broke the windows of cars whose drivers were honking horns. It said riot police fired tear gas to disperse people who used a ceremony of religious mourning to try to rekindle anti-government protests in the Islamic Republic.

A French news agency journalist reported that police in downtown Tehran broke up a demonstration using batons, and that arrests were made. He said people were chanting “death to the dictator,” their term for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The reports could not be immediately verified by other independent sources.

Six months after a disputed election plunged Iran into political turmoil, foreign media are banned from covering protests. Religious ceremonies are traditionally held across Iran on the day before Ashura, a politically important Shi’ite religious commemoration. Tension has been mounting in Iran after the death a week ago of a leading dissident cleric, a fierce critic of the clerical establishment.

Iranian Demonstrators Put the Regime on the Defensive... By Ulrike Putz, Spiegel, Dec.28

The regime in Tehran has gone on the defensive following deadly riots on Sunday. By breaking the traditional ceasefire on religious holidays, the regime has angered many conservatives. The government in Tehran could be facing louder and more self-assured demonstrators in the coming days who see their opportunity to force regime change.

Well-equipped policemen beating unarmed demonstrators. That was the image that became synonymous with opposition protests in Iran following the disputed presidential election in June.
But on Sunday the pattern changed. On the holy festival of Ashura, the day on which Shia Muslims commemorate the violent death of their religious leader Imam Hussein, the tide may have turned in Iran.

The pictures and amateur videos coming out of Iran via the Internet showed many scenes that form a marked contrast to the images that have become familiar in recent months. This time it was the demonstrators who were chasing, seizing and beating up the police.

This time it was members of the security forces who were sitting covered in blood by the roadside. And not only that -- there were also pictures of uniformed men who had changed sides, being carried by demonstrators on their shoulders and waving the green ribbons that have come to symbolize the protest movement

Jewish cemeteries to get 20 mln euros from Austria.... European Jewish Press, Dec.24.


French Mosque’s Symbolism Varies With Beholder... by STEVEN ERLANGER, New York Herald Tribune, Dec. 23. MARSEILLE JOURNAL.

MARSEILLE, France — The minaret of the new Grand Mosque of Marseille, whose cornerstone will be laid here in April, will be silent — no muezzin, live or recorded, will disturb the neighborhood with the call to prayer. Instead, the minaret will flash a beam of light for a couple of minutes, five times a day.

Normally, the light would be green, for the color of Islam. But Marseille is a port, and green is reserved for signals to ships at sea. Red? No, the firefighters have reserved red.

Instead, said Noureddine Cheikh, the head of the Marseille Mosque Association, the light will almost surely be purple — a rather nightclubby look for such an elegant building.

So is this assimilation? Mr. Cheikh laughs. “I suppose it is,” he said. “It’s a good symbol of assimilation.”

But as Western Europe is plunged into a new bout of anxiety over the impact of post-colonial Muslim immigration — reeling in varying ways from the implications of a recent Swiss vote to ban minarets altogether — some scholars see a destructive dynamic, with assimilation feeding a reaction that, in turn, spawns resentment, particularly among young Muslims.

Vincent Geisser, a scholar of Islam and immigration at the French National Center for Scientific Research, believes that the more Europe’s Muslims establish themselves as a permanent part of the national scene, the more they frighten some who believe that their national identity could be altered forever.

“Today in Europe the fear of Islam crystallizes all other fears,” Mr. Geisser said. “In Switzerland, it’s minarets. In France, it’s the veil, the burqa and the beard.”

The large new mosque, which its builders call “the symbol of Marseillais Islam,” is a source of pride here in France’s second-largest city, which is at least 25 percent Muslim. But it is also cause for alarm, Mr. Geisser said, embodying the paradox that visible signs of integration set off xenophobic anxiety. “All these symbols reveal a deeper, more lasting presence of Islam,” he said. “It’s the passage of something temporary to something that is implanted and takes root.”

The change has been significant over the last five years, Mr. Geisser said. “Now we’re at a crossroads,” he said, of a complicated European anxiety that stems from economic crisis; the fear of globalization; the perceived increase in immigration as European birthrates fall; and the subsuming of national states into an enlarged Europe.

“There is an angst over identity in Europe,” he said. “There’s a feeling that Europe is becoming smaller and less important. Europe is like an old lady, who whenever she hears a noise thinks it’s a burglary.” This generalized anxiety and fear is translated into a specific one, he argues: Islam, “a box in which everyone expresses their fears.”

The European Union is believed to have more than 15 million Muslims and perhaps as many as 20 million. France has five million to six million Muslims, the most in Western Europe.

In general, relations between Muslims and other Europeans have been good. But the terrorism associated with attacks in France in 1995 and 2001 in the United States has resonated through the years, reinforced by the Madrid train bombings in 2004; the killing that year of the Dutch film director Theo van Gogh, a critic of conservative Muslims; the London bombings of 2005; and the controversy over Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published the same year.

In 2004, France banned the head scarf (and other signs of religious affiliation) in public schools. It is now debating a ban on the burqa, by which the government seems to mean any full facial covering, including the niqab, which shows the eyes. That controversial measure is caught up in a government-sponsored debate over national identity, led by the ministry that also handles immigration.

Both measures have been widely criticized as political maneuvers by President Nicolas Sarkozy, capitalizing on social fears to unite the center-right and co-opt the far-right National Front before regional elections in March. He has tried to play down the religious element in the debate, but he has also urged Muslims to show “humble discretion” and avoid “ostentation and provocation”; a junior minister, Nadine Morano, said young Muslims should dress better, find jobs and stop using slang and wearing baseball caps backward.

The far-right and anti-immigrant parties did comparatively well in last June’s European elections, which had a low turnout. For the first time, Britain’s far-right party won two seats, and the Dutch Freedom Party secured 17 percent of the vote.

This year, the Danes and the Swiss have brought a new focus to mosques and minarets. Plans for Copenhagen’s first two large mosques have met with strong opposition from the right. The Swiss vote brought widespread condemnation of fear-mongering and racism, including from Switzerland’s own government.

Youcef Mammeri, a writer on Islam in France and member of the Joint Council of Muslims of Marseille, says that the debates over minarets, burqas and national identity have angered many French-born Muslims and brought them together in a defensive circle... Nadim Audi contributed reporting.

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