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Archive for May 23rd, 2008

The deputy prime minister of Iraq speaks

Posted by Judy K. Warner on May 23, 2008

Jay Nordlinger of National Review is one of my favorite writers. This week he has been reporting from the World Economic Forum on the Middle East which is meeting in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Yesterday he covered a meeting with Barham Salih:

The deputy prime minister of Iraq, he is one of the most impressive and valuable people in the Middle East. And he meets a group of us for coffee and a talk.

Salih says that news coverage of Iraq can be misleading: The country has great problems, but is not the disaster that is often portrayed. And Iraq has come a long way in building its security services.

I want him to talk about refugees. He only touches on them, but it’s worthwhile reading the context:

In due course, he comments that Iraq has “been afflicted by a tornado of terrorism.” Therefore, the world should not be too judgmental about Iraq and what it has been able to do thus far. He speaks of being in the U.S. at the time of the Virginia Tech massacre. It was all over television, constantly talked about, analyzed, wept over — the nation seemed “almost traumatized” by this.

Understand, says Salih, that “Iraq has ten Virginia Tech massacres almost every day.”

He says he once sat down with a suicide bomber — or rather, a fellow who had wanted to be a suicide bomber. Salih learned that the fellow had been thoroughly indoctrinated. This poor wretch had been told that, if he blew himself up — along with others, of course — he would be speeded into heaven. In 15 minutes, he would be having lunch or dinner with the Prophet.

This was the fellow’s “passport,” says Salih: a quick way out of despair.

About al-Qaeda and similar groups, Salih says this: “I have learned never to underestimate the depravity — the evil — of organizations of this type.” They will stop at nothing. They take retarded kids and send them into markets, wearing the exploding belts. These groups “have no mercy, no values.”

A journalist asks why the terrorists are killing professors, doctors, and the like. Salih answers thoughtfully.

Iraq, he says, is “the determining factor for the entire Middle East.” It will determine what people expect out of government, what the relation of religion to the state will be, and so on. Salih likes to say that Iraq “is not an island in the remote Pacific.” It is at the heart of the Middle East.

And “the religious fanatics have identified Iraq as an arena that must not be lost to a vision of decent democratic government, supported by Western power.” So they have tried to do everything to disrupt life: cutting off water supplies, blowing up infrastructure, blowing up people — paralyzing the country. Making life impossible.

As a result of this “tornado of terror,” says Salih, many of Iraq’s “most competent people” have left the country. And as deputy PM, he knows in particular that “some of the most competent bureaucrats have left.” But, with improved security, people are coming back — “not in droves,” but significantly.

That’s it. I wish he’d said more.

Posted in Iraqi refugees | Comments Off on The deputy prime minister of Iraq speaks

More food stamp scams compliments of a certain immigrant group

Posted by Ann Corcoran on May 23, 2008

Here are a pair of Food Stamp scam cases from this week, reported on the same day in the same city—Cleveland, OH.   In the first case the local police get a reward of sorts and in the second we, the taxpayers, are bilked out of $24 million. 

CLEVELAND, May 21 (UPI) — The Cleveland Police Department has received $1 million forfeited by two brothers who ran a food stamp fraud operation.

The money is part of $2.5 million paid by brothers Sami and Amin Salem as a part of their plea bargain.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service received $125,000 from the plea bargain, and the Ohio Department of Public Safety got $100,000.

The Salems, who ran a grocery store, admitted to trading beer, cigarettes and cash for $7.7 million worth of food stamps and welfare vouchers.

They often traded the stamps, which are supposed to be for food, for 75 cents on the dollar and then redeemed the food stamps for full value, the newspaper said.

Amin Salem was sentenced to three years in prison. Sami Salem received a year in prison as part of a plea bargain in which he agreed to provide information to investigators about other cases.

That’s cool, I hope he rats out a bunch of his friends.

The second case is outrageous! 

CLEVELAND — A former grocery store owner who ran a $24 million food stamp fraud scheme will not serve prison time because of his poor health.

Mahmoud “Mike” Salti Jr., 47, of Westlake, got three years of probation and was ordered to pay $6 million during a hearing Tuesday in Youngstown federal court. Prosecutors acknowledge Salti does not have the money and will probably never pay the restitution.

Salti fled to Jordan shortly after a grand jury indicted him in 1996. He returned to the United States two years ago to plead guilty to conspiracy, money laundering and tax charges, but only did so because his health was failing.

[…..]

Salti and his uncle, Mohammed Salti, ran nine grocery stores on Cleveland’s East Side in the 1980s. Prosecutors accused them of buying food stamps from recipients for about 75 cents on the dollar, then redeeming them for full value from the government.

The scam ended in 1994, when the grocery store owners realized they were being investigated, prosecutors said. The two men – both are Palestinians who became U.S. citizens – deeded their homes to their wives and fled to Jordan shortly before they were indicted in 1996.

Mohammed Salti remains in Jordan. The United States and Jordan do not have an extradition treaty, meaning the elder Salti may never be prosecuted, Edwards said. 

We have followed Food Stamp fraud ever since it happened in our city and as we have said previously we don’t have any evidence that this involves refugees except that refugees use a lot of food stamps.  See all our our previous posts on Food Stamp fraud here.

Posted in Crimes, Other Immigration | Comments Off on More food stamp scams compliments of a certain immigrant group

Anger at immigrants from Switzerland to South Africa

Posted by Ann Corcoran on May 23, 2008

I was planning to tell you what the Swiss will vote on in about a week when blulitespecial sent me this interesting article about anti-immigrant riots in South Africa.  Two countries on separate continents with very different cultures and they are both blowing up, each in its own way, about immigrants.

According to Time, citizens of Switzerland will vote on a constitutional amendment that would leave decisions on who will become a naturalized Swiss citizen up to the local community!  Can you imagine it! The Swiss People’s Party (SVP) has collected the requisite 100,000 signatures to bring the referendum to a national vote. 

A staunch proponent of tighter immigration policies, the SVP says Switzerland naturalizes more foreigners than any other European nation, and official figures seem to support that claim. The party charges on its website that more than half of all citizenship requests — in 2006, approximately 50,000 were granted in this country of 7.5 million — go to [Muslim] immigrants from the Balkans and Turkey. The SVP claims those immigrants commit a disproportionate number of violent crimes and abuse Swiss social and welfare benefits. Some official statistics do attribute the rise in serious infractions to resident foreigners, but the numbers are not clear. For example, official statistics show that in 2007 nearly 70% of all prisoners in Switzerland were foreigners, but some experts say that is because foreigners are considered a flight risk and are more likely to be sent to prison than local criminals.

The SVP argues that in a country based on grassroots democracy where voters can challenge any legislative decision by launching a referendum, the people, not what the party considers to be lenient government authorities, must approve each citizenship request.

In Switzerland the people vote while in South Africa the response to immigrants has been violent.   

A wave of anti-immigrant violence in South Africa spread to Cape Town on Friday, even as troops and police appeared to have quelled the unrest in the hotspot of Johannesburg.

Police reported attacks against immigrants and foreign-owned shops in a slum area of picturesque Cape Town.

The southern coastal city is a major draw for tourists and had thus far been spared the mob violence seen in Johannesburg.

At least 42 have been killed, more than 500 arrested and 16,000 displaced in the province of Gauteng, which includes Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria, since unrest broke out 12 days ago.

Police spokesman for the Cape Town area Billy Jones said a public meeting to address the danger of xenophobia in the Dunoon slum area 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of the city degenerated into violence on Thursday evening. 

I read the article several times to try to figure out who was killing whom and in addition to a reference to Pakistani immigrants the only other group mentioned was a vague reference to people coming from Zimbabwe.  But, who is being violent?  Surely not the majority blacks!   I didn’t think it was possible for blacks to be xenophobic, I always thought that was just a white malady. 

Foreigners in South Africa, many of whom have fled economic meltdown in neighbouring Zimbabwe, are being blamed for sky-high crime rates and depriving locals of jobs.

The violence, which has done untold damage to South African’s reputation as the “Rainbow Nation,” is also taking its toll on the country’s economy.

What is the “rainbow nation?”    I went to Wikipedia to learn more about South Africa as the “rainbow nation.”   You gotta laugh!   South Africa is run by the African National Congress which is a leftist (Marxist really) political party that has extolled the virtues of multiculturalism.   Here’s what Wikipedia said:

South Africa is often called the “Rainbow Nation”, a term coined by  Archbishop Desmond Tutu  and later adopted by then President Nelson Mandela. Mandela used the term “Rainbow Nation” as a metaphor to describe the country’s newly developing multicultural diversity after segregationist apartheid ideology.

The term was intended to encapsulate the unity of multi-culturalism and the coming-together of people of many different races, in a country once identified with the strict division of white and black.

Our elected officials (and Presidential candidates) can put their collective heads in the sand but the anger is growing about uncontrolled immigration and only time will tell how each country facing the same problem will solve the crisis— with the Swiss model or the South African model?

Posted in Africa, Crimes, diversity's dark side, Other Immigration | 4 Comments »

The UN has prolonged the Palestinian refugee problem

Posted by Judy K. Warner on May 23, 2008

Following up on Ann’s post of May 20, In 1948 Arab leaders created the Palestinian “refugee” problem, also see my post of May 9, The UN is blocking a solution to the Palestinian refugees which points out that the Palestinian refugees have their very own UN agency, the UNRWA, whose mission is to keep them as refugees through the generations rather than resettling them. As much as we criticize the UN’s main refugee agency, the UNHCR, at least its mission is to find refugees permanent homes, either back in their own countries or in other countries.  The UNRWA, founded at the behest of the Arab nations, is supporting millions of Palestinians classified as refugees though they never lived in Israel. See also a Daniel Pipes article from 2003 which explains the situation briefly and well.

This is the cruelest and most cynical policy imaginable. Were it not for the determination of the Arab nations to destroy Israel at the outset, and the continued refusal to recognize Israel, the Palestinians could have had their own country from the very beginning, and could have it at any time. All they have to do is recognize Israel’s right to exist. This their leaders will not allow, preferring to keep the people in misery in order to nurse their grievances.

Posted in Israel and refugees, Muslim refugees | 1 Comment »

Iraqi refugees in Jordan helped with private funds

Posted by Ann Corcoran on May 23, 2008

Here is an article (thanks again to Chris) about Iraqi refugees who are Palestinians and now living in Jordan.  Apparently some of those are being helped privately and that is a good thing.   See yesterday’s post about private funds helping the Iraqi Chaldean refugees.

Samia says she is willing to work [Jordan must allow refugees to work] but she cannot leave the house due to her daughter’s condition. The family is surviving on assistance from a brother and from NGOs such as Al Tamkeen, a local project funded by the International Rescue Committee and implemented by the Near East Foundation. Samia said the United Nations High Commission for Refugees hasn’t done much for her. 

Then the article goes on to say that the Palestinians living in Iraq were hated by the Iraqis and fled Iraq when we invaded, however it’s puzzling to note that we arrived in Iraq in 2003 and they didn’t leave until the time the surge began in 2006.

The Kouzah family fled Baghdad in 2006. She said Iraqis went after Palestinians after the U.S. occupation began.

A reader asked why were the Palestinians not welcome to stay in Iraq.   The Brookings Institution report I referred to yesterday obliquely mentions this was because the Palestinians were favored by Saddam Hussein.

Another reader, Setare, responds with more interesting information and some links to Human Rights Watch which has apparently taken up the cause of the Iraqi Palestinians.  One article answers the question of why the Palestinians are hated in Iraq.

Here are a couple of links to reports by Human Rights Watch that might be of help:

http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2006/04/07/jord…

http://www.hrw.org/reports/2003/iraqjordan/

An excerpt from the first linked article:

“Following the 2003 Iraq conflict, many Palestinians in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities came under direct attack, in part due to resentment of the fact that Saddam Hussein’s government provided many of them with homes it seized from Iraqi Shia.”

 Then to add more evidence to what I said yesterday that we are not getting the whole story about the Iraqi refugees another reader, Kris, says this:

It’s funny, a few months ago I met an Iraqui gentleman in Amman visiting for Operation Smile with the Iraqui doctors. I talked with him about the war and he assured me that it was just a blip in the stream of human history and that people were not suffering, that life was normal. It was really hard to reconcile that point of view with the people that I meet every day.

I’m wondering, can’t we get some definitive study about the Iraqi displaced persons situation, maybe from some independent outfit (not the UN or the NGO’s!) so that policy decisions can be made without being distorted by the politics of the War and by those who have assorted motives for wisking tens of thousands of Iraqis to the US.

Posted in Iraqi refugees | Comments Off on Iraqi refugees in Jordan helped with private funds

 
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