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News and commentary of the World for english-speaking readers.

Somali Pirates Say They Are Subsidiary of Goldman Sachs

Adotta Un Neurone/World

Could Make Prosecution Difficult, Experts Say

NORFOLK, VIRGINIA (The Borowitz Report) – Eleven indicted Somali pirates dropped a bombshell in a U.S. court today, revealing that their entire piracy operation is a subsidiary of banking giant Goldman Sachs.

There was an audible gasp in the courtroom when the leader of the pirates announced, “We are doing God’s work. We work for Lloyd Blankfein.”

The pirate, who said he earned a bonus of $48 million in dubloons last year, elaborated on the nature of the Somalis’ work for Goldman, explaining that the pirates forcibly attacked ships that Goldman had already shorted.

“We were functioning as investment bankers, only every day was casual Friday,” the pirate said.

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The Power To Be Afraid


The Italian carmaker Fiat on Friday apologised to China for a television commercial (see below) starring United States actor Richard Gere that it acknowledged ”could disturb the sensibility of the Chinese people”.

The ad shows Gere, a long-time supporter of the Tibetan Independence Movement, drive the group’s new Lancia Delta model from Hollywood to Tibet, where he and a child dressed as a Buddhist monk plunge their hands into fresh snow.

The slogan that runs with the ad is ”The power to be different”.

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Liberal Multiculturalism: When Integration Means Segregation (A Dhimmi in Canterbury)


Anglican Church leader Rowan Williams sparked open confrontation with the Labour government Thursday by suggesting that the introduction of some aspects of Islamic (sharia) law was “unavoidable” in Britain to promote social cohesion.
Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is also the head of the worldwide Anglican Church with more than 70 million members, said in a BBC interview that there needed to be a debate on whether the existing legal system could fulfil the demands of a “multi-faiths society.”
Responding swiftly to the call, a spokesman for Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that while the application of sharia could be considered on a case-by-case basis, it was unacceptable that Islamic law should be used “as a justification for committing breaches of English law.”
“The Prime Minister believes that British law should apply in this country, based on British values,” said Brown’s spokesman.
However, Williams, known in Britain as the “thinking archbishop,” said an approach which simply said there was one law for everybody was “a bit of a danger.”

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France’s Thatcher? Not Exactly


French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday claimed victory in the 10-day labour dispute over a pension reform as the strike called to protest the proposal appeared to be ending. “I promised this reform, and I have kept my promise,” Sarkozy said during a speech at the Elysee Palace. The French Finance Ministry has estimated that the strike cost France’s economy up to 4 billion euros (about 6 billion dollars).

The reform, which apparently deprives about 500,000 workers in the railway and energy sectors of some pension privileges, “could not be
postponed any longer,” Sarkozy said, and paid tribute to travelers and commuters who, he said, were “taken hostage” by the striking
workers. However, France-Info reported that most of the railway workers who voted to return to work were talking about a “suspension” of the strike, rather than a definitive end.

The end of the strike has been hailed as a huge success of Sarkozy by two heavyweights in the blogosphere: Glenn Reynolds and David Frum: the former today wrote of France’s Thatcher, citing an enthusiastic article on The New York Sun talking about “a first success of Sarkozy”; the latter today compared France’s president stance in this conflict to the firing of the airline controllers by Ronald Reagan in 1981. We fear that Reynolds and Frum are making a mistake.

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Punitive Psychiatry In China


The Chinese dissident blogger He Weihua has been confined in a psychiatric hospital in a detention his family blames on his criticism of the government, a press freedom group said Friday.
“It is unacceptable that the Chinese authorities use such methods to silence citizens who have just expressed their views peacefully online,” Reporters Without Borders said. “How can the authorities expect us to believe that a mentally ill person is capable of detailed investigative reporting?”

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Jews and Latin Mass


Italian Jewish leaders voiced satisfaction after the Vatican Secretary of State said that a Catholic prayer for the conversion of Jews could be eliminated from the recently re-introduced Latin Mass.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, second only to the pope in the Vatican hierarchy, referred to recent polemics over the prayer on Wednesday, saying it could be removed and that this would “solve all the problems”.

Jewish organisations around the world expressed deep concern earlier this month when Benedict XVI brought back the Latin Mass which was largely abandoned by the Catholic Church after the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.

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The Same Old Europe


European Union leaders have reached agreement in Brussels on an outline of new guidelines to govern the 27-member bloc for drafting a new EU treaty to replace the bloc’s aborted constitution.
At dawn on Saturday they announced a compromise to delay until 2014 a new voting system that reduces Poland’s influence – the main stumbling bloc. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the drafting of the treaty will begin in coming months, with ratification by the end of 2007. She said the goal is to have the rulebook in place by 2009. The main obstacle had been Poland’s demand to keep its voting power – currently equal to that of Germany’s, even though its population is only half as large.

The new system – known as a “double majority” – will now be phased-in beginning in 2014 and fully implemented three years later.

Under this system, a 55% majority of EU countries with at least 65% of the bloc’s population will be required for a change to be approved.
Britain also got what it wanted: “The four essential things that we in the UK required in order to protect our position have all been obtained,” said Tony Blair at the end of his last EU summit as British prime minister.

“Those were first of all to make it absolutely clear that the charter on fundamental rights was not going to be justiciable in British courts or alter British law.”

Mr Blair also wanted to maintain national control over foreign policy, justice and home affairs.

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Unfair Competition


Prosecutors have charged environmental activist Wu Lihong with extortion from industrial plants that he accused of polluting Taihu Lake in eastern China’s Jiangsu province, state media said on Wednesday. The prosecutors in Jiangsu’s Yixing city accused Wu, who was once nominated as one of China’s top 10 environmentalists, of extorting 55,000 yuan (6,875 dollars) by threatening to expose the plants’ pollution, the official Xinhua news agency said. The agency quoted prosecutors as saying Wu’s diary listed “blackmail targets and showed amounts of money he had planned to extort from each factory or enterprise.

The Yixing court had not set a date for the trial of Wu, 39, who had fought for years against the pollution of Taihu.
Water supplies from the lake had to be cut to 2 million people in nearby Wuxi city in late May because excessive pollution had promoted the growth of a pungent blue-green algae.
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Israel Under Siege. By Demography


In Israel, the number of emigrants exceeded the number of immigrants for the first time in 20 years, the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot reported Friday. Many emigrants were recent arrivals who wanted to leave Israel again, the report said. In 2007, 14,400 immigrants are expected in Israel while 20,000 people are expected to leave the country, according to the report based on figures for the first months of 2007.

The last time emigration exceeded immigration was in the aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur War and in 1983 and 1984 when inflation was high. Meanwhile the Maariv newspaper reported that approximately a quarter of the Israeli population was considering emigration.

Almost half of the country’s young people were thinking of leaving the country, the report said. Their reasons included dissatisfaction with the government, the education system, a lack of confidence in the political ruling class and concern over the security situation. But this is not the only demographic threat to Israel.
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