Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Interior Ministry Admits Migrant Crime Up 50 Per Cent in 2016, Contuining Year-on-Year Trend

Germany’s interior ministry has once against reported a significant rise in crimes committed by so-called asylum seekers, “tolerated foreigners”, and unauthorised foreigners in the country, with the migrants in the groups suspected of crimes rising by over half since 2016.

The number of migrants who were suspected of crimes in 2016 rose to 616,230 reports German newspaper Welt, excluding crimes that only migrants can commit so to give a balanced view compared to normal German citizens. Those excluded crimes include entering Germany illegally and overstaying the permitted period of residence.
While the crimes committed by migrants is small compared to all crime in Germany — just 8.6 per cent of the total — the statistics show the immigrant groups counted are significantly over-represented in the statistics, suggesting they may commit more crime, or are caught more often than the average native German criminal.
Some 31 per cent of those suspected immigrants stood accused of more than one crime, the report said.
While they account for 8.6 per cent of the crimes, they make up just two per cent of the whole national population. The Figure is up from 5.7 per cent of all crime in 2015, the previous year of figures to have been released.
The report also shows a propensity towards certain crimes — again compared to the two per cent of the population they make up, the migrant groups account for 15 per cent of assault and sexual assault, and one tenth of burglaries. These figures have also risen compared to the last release of statistics covering 2015.
The count does not include long settled foreigners with residence and jobs, and tourists. Most criminal foreign groups were shown in the statistics to be from the Balkans, Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia.
Syrians were the single largest group of foreign offenders but were also the largest single group of migrants to have arrived in the country recently — other foreign nations beat them in crimes per head of population in Germany.
One noted growth area for migrant crime in 2016 was a politically motivated crime, including that by Jihadists and Kurdish militants. German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere called the trend of rising political violence “unacceptable”.
Breitbart London reported in May 2016 when these statistics were last released, which then also showed a steep rise in migrant crime. Just like in the following year overall crime had risen as well — however, statistical analysis showed that if crime by recently arrived migrants was stripped out of the statistics, overall crime would have actually fallen.
That report followed another in 2015 reporting the end of year statistics, which again showed a rise in migrant crime in the state of Saxony and came among hundreds of reports by Breitbart London including the migrant crisis livewire, reporting on the Cologne sex attacks, and numerous swimming pool sexual assaults against children and young women.
Germany has admitted more than one million migrants since 2015 as part of a policy of open borders, which has seen significant damage done to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s poll ratings as she heads to a national election later this year.

German FM refuses to talk to Netanyahu

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel to explain his decision to cancel their meeting Tuesday. However, the minister refused to talk with Netanyahu.
Netanyahu cancelled the meeting after Gabriel refused to cancel a meeting with radical leftist organizations B'Tselem and Breaking the Silence.
The Prime Minister's Office released a statement explaining Netanyahu's reasons for cancelling the meeting.
"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's policy is not to meet with diplomats who visit Israel and meet with organizations that defame IDF soldiers and seek to prosecute them as war criminals," the prime minister's office said.
"The same diplomats will not consider meeting in the US or Britain with representatives of organizations calling for the prosecution of American or British soldiers. The Israel Defense Forces and its soldiers are the basis of our existence. Relations with Germany are very important to Israel and will continue."
Gabriel was informed that his meeting with the Prime Minister was cancelled during a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin.
"The Israeli ambassador has informed us that - to my regret - the meeting with Netanyahu has been cancelled," Gabriel told the German Bild newspaper.
He added that his views on the German-Israeli relationship had not changed.

Muslim "Peace Tour" Ends With 4 Stabbed

It's vitally important for us to understand our cultural differences if we are to have peace. For example, to us, peace means the absence of hostilities. In Islam, peace means submission to Muslims. This latest misunderstanding of cultural differences led to four being stabbed by a Muslim peaceseeker.
The Natural Peace Tours NGO, which arranges for one day entry passes for PA Arabs wishing to tour and become acquainted with Israeli society, confessed they had no idea one of their clients would grab a sharp object and stab four innocent Israeli civilians – one out on the street near Tel Aviv’s Atarim Square and three more inside Leonardo Beach Hotel.
A representative of the NPT management spoke to Army Radio and admitted, “We didn’t take this into consideration.” This, meaning that, as documented on CCTV, the Arab visitor sponsored by NPT grabbed a sharp object, stabbed a pedestrian on the street, then attacked the hotel gallery owner and her spouse, then stabbed a male guest in the lobby and tried to run out—breaking the glass entrance door.
The stabber was finally stopped and neutralized by the gallery owner’s husband, Claudio Wengerowicz, who, unarmed, jumped the attacker near the lobby’s revolving door.
 It's really the sort of thing you ought to take into consideration if you're going to run tours of Muslims into Israel. Probably the first thing to ask prospective clients is, "Are you planning to stab four people while shouting Allahu Akbar?"


At Meat Market, Marine Le Pen Backs ‘Eating French’

French right wing presidential contender Marine Le Pen has called for more food to be produced and consumed in the country known as the gastronomic center of the Western world. Le Pen, visiting the Rungis wholesale market outside Paris on Tuesday, said the French government must promote meat from France. “Let’s promote the ‘eating French’ especially in (school) canteens where our children must take advantage of healthy, quality products,” she said. Le Pen was booed by some workers in the fruits and vegetables section. The National Front leader is facing pro-European centrist Emmanuel Macron in France’s May 7 presidential runoff. But even presidential candidates sometimes have to face criticism from the family. Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie, told France Inter radio Tuesday that he thinks his daughter has produced a “too laid-back” campaign. He said in her position, he would have done a “Trump-style” campaign that would have been “very aggressive against those who are responsible for the country’s decadency.” He still supports her candidacy in the presidential runoff. Jean-Marie Le Pen, who repeatedly has been convicted of crimes based on anti-Semitism and racism, founded the National Front party that his daughter now leads but the two have had strong political disagreements at times. In 2015, his daughter pushed him out of the party because he had refused to desist from anti-Semitic provocations that were undermining both her bid to become French president and her bid to make the National Front an acceptable political alternative.

German politician wants to humiliate Netanyahu

The German politician Martin Hans Sonneborn, a member of the European Parliament, wrote on April 25, 2017 via Facebook:
„That’s funny. For the first time I’m on Sigm. Gabriel’s side … I’d visit Netanjahu with a few bulldozers, cut off his water, and then humiliate him even further.“
Sigmar Gabriel is the Foreign Minister of Germany who on March 24, 2017 emphasized on Facebook his friendship with Mahmoud Abbas.
I’m Gerd Buurmann, a German theater artist, and I reply as follows:
If Netanjahu had lived in Frankfurt in 1938, you could have visited him with Sigmar Gabriel riding a bulldozer, cut off his water, and humiliate him further, but thank G_d, Netanyahu lives in Israel today and not in Germany. Therefore, he’s not at risk to suffer the „funny“ fantasies of a German politician.
Best regards,
Gerd Buurmann
PS: What exactly do you mean with “further humiliations”? Things like poisoning Israeli wells and making organic German bread from Jewish blood?

Translation: William Wires http://www.williamwires.com http://www.facebook.com/William.Wires.Fine.Art


Barely a Quarter of Scots Support Sturgeon’s Plans for Second Referendum

Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon’s plans to hold a second referendum on leaving the United Kingdom have suffered a blow after polls show barely a quarter of voters back the proposed ballot.

According to the Kantar Scottish Opinion Monitor, only 26 per cent of Scots want another separation referendum between the Autumn of 2018 and Spring 2019.
The Daily Mail reports the poll also showed a drop in support for leaving the United Kingdom overall, with 60 per cent opposed a breakup and 40 per cent in favour – a statistically significant fall from the 45 per cent support which Sturgeon’s predecessor Alex Salmond was able to garner in 2014.
Previously, the first minister had said she would not consider a second referendum unless polls demonstrated significant and consistent support. An SNP spokesman had said: “There will only be a second referendum on independence if there is clear evidence of a shift of opinion.”
Nicola Sturgeon has, however, attempted to play down any link between her party’s fortunes in the snap election and her mandate for a second referendum, called in response to Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in June 2016.
“The election won’t decide whether or not Scotland becomes independent,” she told the Scottish Trades Union Congress. “We got a mandate for a referendum in the election last year so this is about Scotland’s voice is heard and Scotland’s interests are protected.”
Responding, Scottish Conservative MSP Miles Briggs said: “There is one cast-iron rule about the SNP: whenever it says something has got nothing to do with independence, it’s a sure-fire way of knowing it has everything to do with independence.”

The Scottish Conservatives are currently on course to capture around ten seats from the SNP – a huge boost for the party, which was wiped off the Scottish electoral map in 1997 and has never managed to return more than one Scottish MP since.

German Foreign Minister responds to Netanyahu's ultimatum

Germany’s Foreign Minister responded Tuesday morning to an ultimatum issued by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Monday night, warning the German official that he would not be received by the Israeli government if he went through with a planned meeting with a radical left-wing organization.
Netanyahu issued the ultimatum to German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel Monday night, after it was revealed that Gabriel was slated to meet with radical leftist groups critical of the IDF, including Breaking the Silence.
"Choosing these meetings [with Peace Now] constitutes a defiant message against the policy of the government and against its leader personally, and Netanyahu thinks that a red line should be placed against the German officials," a senior political official told Channel 2.
The Prime Minister is scheduled to meet with Gabriel, but has warned that the meeting will not go forward should Gabriel meet with Breaking the Silence members as planned.
Responding to Netanyahu’s ultimatum Tuesday, Gabriel told ZDF it would be “regrettable” to cancel, saying that if Netanyahu carried out the threat it would be a “remarkable event, to put it mildly.”
"Imagine if the Israeli Prime Minister ... came to Germany and wanted to meet people critical of the government and we said that is not possible ... That would be unthinkable."

'Germany’s EU dominance promotes frustration’ French anger at Merkel’s power, say expets

FRANCE is becoming increasingly frustrated with Germany’s dominance of the European Union (EU) with voters across the Channel wanting a revival of the Franco-German axis, according to experts.With Britain now on its way out of the the bloc due to Brexit, the imbalance in the relationships between the two key EU countries has been highlighted with France being exposed as the junior partner as it struggles to revive a flagging economy. French frustration with Germany’s dominance of the group is reflected in the sizeable vote on Sunday for the right-wing, anti-EU Front National party in the first round of voting in the presidential election, according to one expert. Sven Giegold, a spokesman for the the German Greens in the European Parliament said that the high level of support for Marine Le Pen, who at the time was leading the Front National, indicated “just how much German dominance in the EU promotes frustration about the EU in many countries.He added: “German EU policy has to gear for more solidarity.” Some French voters are also disillusioned with Emmanuel Macron, the En Marche! presidential candidate who will face Ms Le Pen in the second round of voting. Critics of the 39-year-old have dismissed the pro-European as simply being “deputy Chancellor” to Germany’s leader Angela Merkel.While Mr Macron came out top in the first round of voting in France with 24 per cent of the vote, France clearly indicated a sizeable anti-EU opinion with 41 per cent of all voters opting for one of two anti-EU candidates. Although the financial markets initially reacted favourably to the outcome in France, with the Dax in Frankfurt rising three per cent on the news, it appears that there are fundamental doubts over the future relationship between the two power-houses of the EU. The biggest problem appears to be the future direction of the eurozone, according to financial experts, with Mr Macron either unable or unwilling to push through needed reform.The two countries are at loggerheads over economic policy. Germany is pushing for France to adopt tax cuts and deregulation of its labour market as a way of revitalising its economy while France wants Germany to loosen its grip on its fiscal policy in an attempt to soften the impact of needed reforms. Jorge Kramer, chief economist at Commerzbank said: “Macron isn’t a genuine reformer. Discord over economic policy will persist in the eurozone.”EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs Pierre Moscovici said recently at a meeting of the Peterson Institute for International Economics: "The challenges that lie ahead for Europe now are mostly of a political nature, but brought on by fundamental flaws in the eurozone single currency area, which have created a north-south divide that has led to a rise in populism in countries struggling to stay within fiscal limits. “The incomplete governance of the eurozone has produced or contributed to economic divergence rather than convergence between and within its members. “And this divergence has in turn fuelled populism, which still has its roots in economic discontent.“There is cultural discontent, but the cultural discontent comes from the economic discontent.” Mrs Merkel, so far, has been wary of softening her hard-line fiscal stance as she has one eye on re-election in September and any concession she made now would almost certainly impact negatively on the German people which could cost her votes. Indications appear to show that Mrs Merkel would be willing to change her stance as long as the future French president introduced credible reforms.Daniela Schwarzer, head of the German Council on Foreign Relations, a Berlin-based think-tank, said Mrs Merkel was likely to react positively to reforms but warned that “the eurozone must be strengthened before the next crisis”. Divisions though are not just at the national level, splits have also been appearing in the financial world. On one side is the European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi who wants to avoid any dramatic policy shifts due to the political uncertainty while Jens Weidmann, President of Germany’s Bundesbank is seen as an ardent critic of the ECB.

“Resisting” Marwan Barghouti in Britain: An Israeli watchdog scores two wins against the terrorist.


It started last week when the New York Times, in its Sunday edition, ran an op-ed by Marwan Barghouti, a convicted Palestinian terrorist serving five life sentences plus 40 years in an Israeli prison.
The article identified Barghouti as “a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian.” The Israeli government and others protested to the Times that this description left out some vital information. The Times then added an “Editors’ Note” saying:
This article explained the writer’s prison sentence but neglected to provide sufficient context by stating the offenses of which he was convicted. They were five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization.
But as many pointed out, the Times’s printing of the article remained problematic. Neither the Times nor other papers had, for instance, provided op-ed space to Terry Nichols, now serving a life term for having been Timothy McVeigh’s accomplice in the Oklahoma City bombing; or to Omar Abdel-Rahman (the Blind Sheikh), who before his death in February spent almost 24 years in U.S. prisons for planning the first World Trade Center bombing.
So far as I know, the practice in Western countries is that conviction on a mass-murder count removes you from the legitimate political discourse. The fact that the Times still has not acknowledged any wrongdoing in publishing Barghouti’s op-ed—apart from not fully identifying him—indicates either that it sees the murder of Israelis, and Israelis alone, as acceptable, or that it—slanderously—does not see Israel as having a bona fide judicial system.
Considering that Barghouti is an anti-Israeli terrorist, it comes as no surprise that his op-ed—which announced the launching of a hunger strike by a thousand Palestinian prisoners—does not paint Israel in a favorable light. It does, though, laud Barghouti himself as a freedom fighter—“here I still am, pursuing this struggle for freedom”—and constantly refers to “freedom” as the goal for which the Palestinians are striving.
In fact, the Second Intifada—the vicious terror assault (2000-2004) of which Barghouti was a major ringleader until his arrest in 2002—was launched in September 2000 two months after, at Camp David, Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak had offered the Palestinians an independent state in almost all of the West Bank and Gaza.
In that case as in many others, the Palestinians could have had the “freedom” for which they purportedly long simply by saying yes. Instead the response to Barak’s offer by Barghouti’s boss, Yasser Arafat, by Barghouti himself, and by thousands of other Palestinians was a campaign of slaughter in Israeli buses, streets, and restaurants.
Meanwhile the Palestinian effort to glorify Barghouti continues. Having successfully made use of the compliant New York Times to present him as a freedom fighter and Israel as a dark and brutal colonizer, the struggle is also being waged in Britain.
But there, thanks to the efforts of the Israeli watchdog organization Palestinian Media Watch, it has so far met less success.
The Palestinian Authority’s embassy in Britain has been trying since last week to get a film screened about Barghouti’s life. The announcement for the film (reproduced here) says:
Marwan is 70min docudrama which depicts the life of Palestinian resistance fighter Marwan Barghouti…. The film shows the many faces of the Fateh representative from resistance fighter to advocate of the two-state solution and demonstrates how his personal story is symbolic of the Palestinian people’s fight for freedom and independence.
But while Marwan was supposed to be screened on Sunday at the Mayfair Hotel in London, PMW reports that, following its exposure of Barghouti’s identity as a terrorist, the hotel canceled the event.
The showing was, however, moved to a second London hotel, the Copthorne Tara. But that showing, too, was canceled.
In that case, PMW’s legal director Maurice Hirsch sent a letter to the manager of the Copthorne Tara, a Mr. Braudi, that changed his mind about screening Marwan.
“Barghouti,” Hirsch pointed out,
is a terrorist convicted of the murder of five people, including four Israelis and a Greek priest.  
Noting the planned screening, we would like to bring to your attention that paragraph 1 of the Terrorism Act 2006 prohibits “direct or indirect encouragement or other inducement…to the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.” Subsection (3) of that paragraph includes glorification of acts of terrorism as incitement.
…Should the event take place as scheduled, it is our intention to submit a formal complaint to the Metropolitan Police against you as the Manager of the Hotel for being an accomplice to the offence….
Not surprisingly, Braudi decided not to host Marwan in his hotel. Whether it will yet be screened anywhere else in Britain remains to be seen.
So far, though, this episode indicates that, first, determined “resistance” to Palestinian glorification of terrorism can get results.
Second, while the New York Times may not have broken the law by running Barghouti’s op-ed, it clearly violated moral norms by doing so—and continues to do so by failing to apologize for providing an outlet to a terrorist.
And, third, with President Trump scheduled to meet with 82-year-old Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas on May 3 for the purported beginning of a peacemaking venture, it should be noted that, as the Times itself acknowledges, Barghouti “is the most popular choice to replace…Abbas”—with all that implies about the Palestinians’ ability to give up their war on Israel.  

Roger Waters Leads Cry for Radiohead to Scrap Show in ‘Apartheid’ Israel


 Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters has joined a line-up of arts world figures urging British rock band Radiohead to scrap its upcoming show in Israel and “stay away, until apartheid is over.”

An open letter signed by a number of performers, as well as by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, tells the band to “think again” about heading to Tel Aviv and playing in a country  “where a system of apartheid has been imposed on the Palestinian people”.
Among the 47 signatories are Wolf Hall writer Peter Kosminsky, Scottish Mercury Prize-winners Young Fathers and actors Ricky Tomlinson, Miriam Margolyes, Maxine Peake, and Juliet Stevenson.
The letter was organised by Artists For Palestine UK. It follows previous requests by Palestinian activists for Radiohead to pull out of the 19 July concert.
“In asking you not to perform in Israel, Palestinians have appealed to you to take one small step to help pressure Israel to end its violation of basic rights and international law,” the letter reads.
It cites Radiohead’s support of Tibet’s independence as a reason to turn down the gig. “Since Radiohead campaigns for freedom for the Tibetans, we’re wondering why you’d turn down a request to stand up for another people under foreign occupation.”
The letter adds: “Surely if making a stand against the politics of division, of discrimination and of hate means anything at all, it means standing against it everywhere – and that has to include what happens to Palestinians every day.”
In a separate comment on the issue, Loach said the band should cancel the gig “for their own self respect”.
The Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood is married to an Israeli artist, Sharona Katan, and he recently released an album with an Israeli singer, Shye Ben Tzur.
The band made its original announcement of the gig in Feberuary. As Breitbart Jerusalem reported, the band’s upcoming summer tour is intended to promote their latest album.
Radiohead played three shows in Tel Aviv in 1993 when they were still a struggling band with only a single album under their belt.
“Creep,” the most famous song from their debut album, gained wide radio play in Israel and the country was one of the first places outside the UK where the band won recognition.

Analysis: A Le Pen Wins More Acceptance than Ever in France

 le pen

When France last put a Le Pen onto the threshold of the presidential Elysee Palace, one step from power, it could write off the 2002 election shock as a mere accident.

Jean-Marie Le Pen squeezed into the winner-takes-all runoff against Jacques Chirac with just 17 percent of the vote, a record low. Ashamed and stunned by the ultra-right leader’s breakthrough, French voters of all political persuasions regrouped for round two, filling the streets in protest and rallying at the ballot box to hand Le Pen a humiliating defeat from which his sulfurous political career never recovered.
This time, the presidential election success of another Le Pen, Jean-Marie’s daughter, Marine, was anything but accidental.
Voters propelled her Sunday into the decisive May 7 duel against Emmanuel Macron with their eyes wide open. The entire political establishment and every poll had forewarned and foretold of Le Pen’s first-round breakthrough.
That voters pulled the trigger anyway – giving her 1.2 million more votes than in 2012 and, with 21.5 percent of the total, the best score in a presidential race for a Le Pen – showed how ingrained her brand of anti-establishment “French-first” nationalism has become in areas most bruised by and fearful of globalization’s blows.
A less divisive and more polished politician than her father, the mother of three has made voting for the National Front party that Jean-Marie founded in 1972 more socially acceptable than ever. Many of his voters kept their ultra-right political sympathies to themselves, afraid of being labelled racists and anti-Semites by association with the ex-Foreign Legionnaire convicted for describing Nazi gas chambers as a “detail of history.”
Marine Le Pen’s backers are far less inhibited. Although older voters on the left still sniff that the National Front remains a redoubt of “fachos” – or fascists – she has partially punctured that argument by sidelining much of the party’s old guard, including her father in 2015.
By consistently hammering on her populist themes that the European Union is straightjacketing and impoverishing France, that open borders are open doors for job-taking migrants and murderous Islamic extremism, and that the French political elite is guilty in all this and more, Marine Le Pen is more on-message than her father.
Sharp-tongued like him, she also jumps the tracks of respectability from time to time – for instance, with her denial earlier this month that France was responsible for rounding up more than 13,000 Jews at a Paris cycle track to be sent to Nazi death camps during the Holocaust. Overall, however, she is better packaged and more media- savvy than the cantankerous Jean-Marie ever was.
Macron quickly agreed to share the stage with Le Pen in the traditional televised debate between rounds one and two. That showed how she and her expanding electorate are becoming an increasingly unavoidable force and feature on the landscape, however unsavory that reality is to mainstream politicians who immediately appealed for a repeat of the “all against Le Pen” second-round unity of 2002.
By refusing to debate Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2002, Chirac cast his opponent as a pariah and himself as a champion of French democracy. That Macron couldn’t do likewise without looking undemocratic is another measure of how Marine Le Pen is fighting her way into France’s political inner circle. By stopping both the mainstream right and left from reaching the second round – a first for modern France – Le Pen and the centrist, pro-EU Macron are redrawing the contours of that circle and taking the country into unchartered territory.
Fifteen years ago, Jean-Marie Le Pen’s qualification to the runoff provoked massive street protests – voters’ way of making amends for not turning out in sufficient numbers to keep him out in round one. There were scattered protests in Paris on Sunday night, with police reporting 29 arrests. But it appears less likely this time that more than 1 million people will take to streets across France on Monday’s May Day holiday as they did against Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2002.
With slow but sure gains at the ballot box since she assumed leadership of the National Front in 2011, Le Pen is planting ever-deeper roots into a broader spectrum of voters – including 18- to 24-year-olds hit hardest by chronic unemployment and, despite her plans to roll back some of their rights, among gays. Those groups largely wouldn’t have been seen dead voting for her father.
Sunday’s outcome shows a France split almost down the middle. Le Pen outperformed Macron in National Front strongholds along the Mediterranean coast, on the front lines of Europe’s efforts to control migration from Africa and the Middle East that she rails against, and in the east and northeast, with rust-belt pockets of despairing working-class voters who see succor in “French first” economic and social protectionism. Le Pen is their whip to sanction the French and EU political establishment – even among some voters who don’t otherwise share her politics.
As in 2002, voters probably will come together in sufficient numbers to keep a Le Pen from power. After election setbacks for right-wing populists in the Netherlands and Austria, a Le Pen defeat will signal a halting – at least for now – of the populist wave that crashed over the EU with Britain’s Brexit vote last year to leave the bloc and, across the Atlantic, helped put Donald Trump in the White House.
But polls suggest Le Pen won’t suffer a beating as severe as that endured by her father. At 48, she still has time and, with each passing vote, perhaps a little bit more of France on her side.

Cinema Commandos of the Armenian Genocide: Lessons from a courageous and long overdue film.


The Promise, Survival Pictures, directed by Terry George, PG-13, 2 hr. 12 min.
In southern Turkey in 1914, Mikael Boghosian wants to attend medical school but doesn’t have the money, so he gets engaged to Maral, a young woman in his village, and uses her dowry to pay tuition. In Constantinople, he meets the dashing Ana Khesarian, who is consorting with American reporter Chris Meyers.
This love quadrangle plays out in fine style, with homage to Dr. Zhivago and Casablanca. The larger back story is probably unknown to many viewers, so The Promise takes pains to spell it out up front.
At the outset of World War I, the Ottoman Empire was coming apart and that was bad news for the non-Muslim minorities, particularly the Christian Armenians. The Ottoman Turks set out to exterminate the Armenians, the first attempt at genocide of the past century and the most well documented. So the filmmakers, who claim an “educational” purpose, had plenty of source material.
As in any Islamic state, the Christian Armenians are third-class citizens, derided as “dogs” and such. One prominent Turks says the Armenians are a “microbe,” and that was indeed the pronouncement of Turkish physician Mahmed Reshid. An Islamic state can’t tolerate an invasive infection, and when war breaks out Turkish mobs attack Armenians and loot their shops and homes. The film does not explain why the oppressors met with such little resistance.
The Turks took great pains to disarm the Armenians, and that left them essentially helpless against their highly mechanized oppressors. The Turks did indeed load Armenian captives into railroad freight cars, as the film shows. As Peter Balakian noted in The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response, a good companion volume for the film, the Turks packed 90 Armenian men, women and children into a car with a capacity of 36. That was hardly the only way they perished.
In villages and on death marches, as one witness wrote, the Turks “killed without exception all Armenians.” The Promise shows Armenians hanged in one of their towns but does not show the Turks hanging them. The Turks nailed horseshoes to Armenians’ feet and crucified them while taunting the victims about their savior. The Turks forced men to watch the rape of their wives before executing them. The Promise shows none of this. 
The Turks butchered innocent Armenians and ripped the unborn from their mothers’ wombs. Late in the film, Mikael Boghosian says they did that to his wife Maral, but viewers don’t see the Turks cutting up the women.
U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau appears briefly but the film does not include what he wrote: “I do not believe the darkest ages ever presented scenes more horrible” than those then going on “all over Turkey.”
In similar style, U.S. consul Leslie Davis wrote, “We could all hear them [Muslims] piously calling upon Allah to bless them in their efforts to kill the hated Christians.” Around Lake Goeljik, Davis wrote, “thousands and thousands of Armenians, mostly innocent and helpless women and children, were butchered on its shores and barbarously mutilated.”
All told The Promise fails to portray the detail and vast scale of the slaughter. As Mikael Boghosian says in one scene, “I couldn’t pull the trigger.”  On the other hand, the film does show that the Turks punished those Muslims who dared to help the persecuted Armenians. Medical student Emre Ogan is executed for his efforts to help Mikael Boghosian and his family.
For most viewers, The Promise will be more than enough to confirm the grim reality, and to its great credit the film never gives the impression that there are two sides to this story. Neither were there two sides to what happened in Germany under the Nazi regime, and the Cambodian genocide of the Khmer Rouge.
Viewers might get the impression that Chris Meyers of the Associated Press was telling the story all alone. The film’s real heroes are the missionaries who in the face of great danger took care of the orphans, nursed the wounded, and helped Armenians escape. That is why Armenians can say with Mikael Boghosian, at the end of the film, “we’re still here.”
In 1939, on the eve of World War II, Adolph Hitler said “who today, after all, speaks of the annihilation of the Armenians?” Today, in 2017, many will be speaking of the Armenians thanks to The Promise, a long overdue and courageous film with lessons for filmmakers and viewers alike.
If an Islamic country objects to your film project, push back and make it anyway. Resist the political correctness of entertainment industry and tell the truth about a neglected story. Viewers will thank you for it, with good reason.
The current Islamic State perpetrates the same atrocities as the Ottoman Turks, against the same victims, and with the same deadly goals. Most viewers will want to resist any submission to Islamic rule or Islamic law, and it will be okay with them if President Trump continues to “bomb the shit out of ISIS,” as he said he would.
Meanwhile, those trolls who trashed The Promise without seeing it might try a new tactic. Get a bag of jellybeans, a six-pack of Pepsi, and a can of spray paint. Find a wall under a bridge and do your writing down there where you belong.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Germany Sees Rise in Political Crimes by Foreigners

Germany recorded a sharp rise in politically motivated crimes by foreigners including jihadists and Kurdish militants last year, a trend branded “unacceptable” by Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere on Monday. Some 3,372 such cases were recorded last year, up 66.5 percent from 2015, according to the latest crime statistics unveiled by de Maiziere. They include “criminal offences carried out in the name of foreign extremists of the so-called IS, or the (outlawed Kurdish militants) PKK”, said the interior minister. Germany was hit by a string of jihadist attacks last year, with the deadliest being last December’s assault on a Christmas market in Berlin. A Tunisian suspect had rammed a truck into the crowded market in the attack claimed by the Islamic State organisation that killed 12. But beyond jihadist attacks, Germany has also seen a rise in violence pitting its sizeable minority communities of Turks and Kurds, as Turkey was increasingly split over President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rule. Overall, the number of politically driven crimes was also up in Germany, reaching 41,549 such offences in 2016, 6.6 percent more than a year ago.

Report: German Jews Fear Growing Muslim Anti-Semitism

Jews in Germany say they feel a “growing threat” of anti-Semitism, especially from Muslims but also from xenophobic far-right groups, a parliamentary report said Monday. They are “increasingly concerned for their safety due to everyday experiences of anti-Semitism,” said the Independent Experts Group on Anti-Semitism. In a 2016 survey, Jewish people questioned about verbal and physical attacks against them put “Muslim persons or groups” first as the perpetrators, ahead of “people unknown” or far-right or left groups, said the report, without providing specific data. In Germany, which has long struggled with the dark memory of Nazi-era World War II and the Holocaust, there was now “a significant discrepancy in perception” about anti-Semitism, said the group set up by the German Bundestag in 2014. “While the non-Jewish majority does not see current manifestations of anti-Semitism as a relevant problem, Jews in Germany feel they are facing a growing threat,” it said. “In addition to the disconcerting rise of right-wing populism, there is concern about anti-Semitism among Muslims, these days especially in refugee and migrant populations.” About 200,000 Jews live in Germany, Europe’s third largest community after Britain and France, up from only about 15,000 after the end of the Nazi Third Reich. Germany has taken in more than one million asylum seekers since 2015, many fleeing war and persecution in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The case of a 14-year-old Jewish boy in Berlin recently made headlines — his parents took him out of a state school with many pupils of Turkish and Arabic descent after he was allegedly bullied and threatened by classmates who told him that “all Jews are murderers”. The parliamentary panel report said rising Jewish fears were partly due to “the growing importance of social media”, which was “key to the spread of hate speech and anti-Semitic agitation”. It called for closer online monitoring and for using legal instruments “to delete the social bots and fake accounts through which anti-Semitic hate speech is spread”. And it recommended the appointment of an ombudsperson for anti-Semitism and better nationwide coordination on fighting the problem. It also called for study into anti-Muslim discrimination and other prejudices, finding that “these attitudes overlap with anti-Semitic attitudes”.

Macron Criticised over ‘Complacent’ French Bistro Party

Pro-EU centrist Emmanuel Macron came under fire Monday over a glitzy party in a high-end Paris bistro and his triumphant speech following his success in the first round of France’s presidential polls. Even close allies appeared to caution the inexperienced 39-year-old against complacency ahead of the second round run-off on May 7 against right wing leader Marine Le Pen. “We need to be humble. The election hasn’t been won and we need to bring people together to win,” Richard Ferrand, secretary general of Macron’s “En Marche” (“On the Move”) movement, told BFM television on Monday. After results emerged on Sunday evening, Macron addressed thousands of euphoric supporters at an election party in southern Paris and brought his wife Brigitte on stage to share in the applause. “In one year, we’ve changed the face of French political life,” he said to shouts of “Macron! President!” Later in the evening, he was filmed visiting supporters at the famed La Rotonde bistro in southern Paris, a “Belle Epoque” hang-out for Picasso and other artists where a steak and chips costs 28 euros ($30). “Macron made a speech as if he’d already won,” Le Pen’s top aide Florian Philippot said Monday, before attacking Macron for copying the style of former right-wing leader Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy, who would come to be known as the “bling-bling president”, held an infamous victory party in 2007 in a restaurant on the Champs Elysees called Le Fouquet’s which was packed with celebrities and business leaders. “There were mostly volunteers… supporters who sacrificed everything for a year to put him where he is today,” one of Macron’s top supporters, Gerard Collomb, told RMC radio of the crowd in the restaurant. He said La Rotonde, one of Macron’s favourite eateries, “isn’t exactly Le Fouquet’s.” Le Pen’s National Front (FN) will seek to highlight the centrist’s past as a millionaire investment banker, advisor to unpopular President Francois Hollande and pro-globalisation economy minister in the weeks ahead. “While all Macron’s supporters recover from their showbiz evening at La Rotonde, Marine is at a market in Rouvroy,” leading FN figure David Rachline tweeted on Monday, showing the far-right leader in a small town in northern France. Polls published on Sunday night showed Macron comfortably beating Le Pen in the run-off if the vote were held now.

Now the French Election Becomes Interesting

Imagine if after winning the Republican nomination, every Republican rival then joined in to campaign against Trump. That's the closest analogy to the French election.
The field, Le Pen and Macron, shows that the French are just as dissatisfied with the status quo as everyone else. Macron is an empty suit. On top of that he's tied to one of the most unpopular French administrations since Louis XVI. But Le Pen getting this far isn't unprecedented. And the responsible is predictable. Everyone is going all in on Marcon. Except Melenchon who might go all in on Stalin instead.
So the French election will come down to a choice between a fake moderate who will advance many of the same policies as Hollande and a revolution. The real question is whether France wants another revolution or the promise of stability. Will the Euroskeptics from the center and the left, those worried about Islamic terrorism and everyone uncomfortable with the status quo unite behind Le Pen?
The odds aren't great.
European political systems have lower barriers of entry, but high barriers of success. This creates a kind of phony democracy. The Trump Effect is much easier and harder to achieve in Europe because the bar to actually winning is much higher. Once Trump made it to the top of the GOP, his odds were good, even with some Republican defections. But as we saw with Wilders, just making it in isn't enough. Not when the rest of the system will make certain that you can't win.
Le Pen has better odds than Wilders because of the structural differences. And nothing can be ruled out. But revolutions also begin in phases. It's important to remember that.

Lefty French Mayor Calls Residents ‘A***holes’, Quits After His Town Votes for Le Pen

The left wing mayor of the northern French town of Annezin, Daniel Delomez, has announced his resignation after residents in his town voted for anti-mass migration Front National leader Marine Le Pen.

Delomez called the result of the first round of the French presidential election “catastrophic” as Le Pen and independent Emmanuel Macron advanced to the second round. The reason for his resignation, according to the mayor, was that he felt it was a waste of his time serving people he referred to as “arseholes”, L’Avenir de L’Artois reports.
Ms. Le Pen received a massive 38 per cent of the vote in the small town located in the Pas-de-Calais region, a Front National stronghold.
“It is catastrophic,” Mr. Delomez said. “It’s possible that I will step down as I do not want to dedicate my life to arseholes.”
Far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon came in distant second in the town with 19.25 per cent and came fourth overall in the race. Mélenchon’s policies were highly controversial amongst the wealthy of France after he called for a 90 per cent tax rate on anyone making over €400,000 a year.  Some elites even spoke of leaving the country if Mélenchon had made it to the presidency.
“I was annoyed that so many people could vote FN,” Delomez said. He told media that he initially voted for Mélenchon, but would now switch his vote to pro-globalist candidate Macron in the second round of the French presidential elections on 7 May. Delomez said that he intends to present his resignation after discussing the matter with his political group in the local council on Tuesday.
“I’m 70 years old, I’ve been a mayor for nine years, I’m a little blasé,” he said.
The results of the first round of the French presidential election has caused upset in the political establishment as both the candidate of the Socialist party, Benoît Hamon, and the candidate of the conservative Republicans, François Fillon, failed to make it past the first round.
In her victory speech Sunday night, anti-mass migration candidate Marine Le Pen said the second round was now a fight between the forces of globalism and nationalism. She said the “survival of France” was at stake. Le Pen called her rival Macron the heir of immensely unpopular French president François Hollande.
Le Pen has promised to hold a referendum on European Union membership and restore order to France which has been rocked by terror attacks and near constant rioting and protests against the unpopular policies of Hollande.

Oxford: You might be racist if you don't make eye contact with a minority

By Rick Moran

One of my favorite personal adages in describing the lengths to which the anti-discrimination crowd will go in prohibiting behavior is said in half jest; you can't look sideways at a minority without being accused of some racist act.
Oxford University has fixed that. They published a newsletter in which they suggest that if you don;'t make eye contact with a minority, it may be a sign of racism.
The university’s Equality and Diversity Unit newsletter includes a list of items, including a lack of eye contact, that are considered signs of “everyday racism,” reports the Telegraph.
Not making eye contact is a “micro-aggression,” as well as asking someone where they are originally from and making jokes about other’s race or nationality, the newsletter maintains. Doing these things can lead to mental heath problems and other issues.
“Some people who do these things may be entirely well-meaning, and would be mortified to realize that they had caused offence. But this is of little consequence if a possible effect of their words or actions is to suggest to people that they may fulfill a negative stereotype, or do not belong to,” the newsletter states.
Never mind "intent," if you don't mean to be racist, you are still a racist. In fact, if you are a minority, you would have to be hypersensitive to everything anyone ever does or says in order to be offended. You must seek out offense - invent it if necessary. 
The university defended the newsletter as a way to “advise and support staff” in creating a discrimination-free campus in a statement to The Telegraph.
One professor criticized the newsletter, saying it could make students “hypersensitive.”
“Essentially people are being accused of a thought crime. They are being accused of thinking incorrect thoughts based on an assumption of where they may or may not be looking,” Dr. Joanna Williams, a lecturer, told The Telegraph.
I've got news for the professor. You don't even have to have a conscious  racist thought to be accused of being a racist. Plumbing the depths of your subconscious, proponents of the theory of "white privilege" find plenty of evidence you're a racist. It seems we are born racist - that white people come into the world full blown kluxers. Our parents inculcate racist attitudes. Our schools teach us how to be racist - unwittingly, of course. Mass media reinforces our racism. Society condones it.
Any unreasonably hypersensitive person of color recognizes this and gets offended by, well, just about anything and everything a white person does - including walking into a room where the unfortunate target of this white privilege happens to be standing. 
The beauty of this construct is that it is totally, completely unprovable using any known empiracle evidenciary standard that would be accepted by any real scholars. There is not a shred of proof that any of this is true - except we must accept the "moral authority" of minorities so it must be real.
The main cause of racism is not being born white but ignorance. This seems painfully self evident to most of the rest of us who live in the real world and have to put up with nonsense like this. 


The real culprits behind the human waves of migrants

By Monica Showalter

So what's behind the sudden deluge of migrants flooding Europe?
According to the Italian prosecutor's office, it's non-government organizations, seeking to keep a problem boiling in order to win more funds, funds, funds for all their supposed do-goodery. It's no different from a fireman who sets fires in order to put them out and find himself hailed a hero. Or a wicked stepmother who poisons her child in order to win sympathy for all her heroic caregiving.
The BBC reports:
An Italian prosecutor says he has evidence some of the charities saving migrants in the Mediterranean Sea are colluding with people-smugglers.
Carmelo Zuccaro told La Stampa (in Italian) phone calls were being made from Libya to rescue vessels.
Organisations involved in rescue operations have rejected accusations of collusion, saying their only concern is to save lives.
Italy is the main route for migrants trying to reach Europe.
Almost 1,000 people are thought to have drowned in waters between Libya and Italy this year, according to the UN refugee agency.
Nearly 37,000 people have been rescued over the same period, a surge of more than 40% from last year, the figures say.
"We have evidence that there are direct contacts between certain NGOs [non-governmental organisations] and people traffickers in Libya," Mr Zuccaro is quoted as saying in La Stampa.
So the whole migrant thing flooding Europe and wreaking untold havoc is actually the work of NGOs looking to beef up their portfolios and win applause and maybe Nobel peace prizes for their induced do-goodery. They collude with the brutal migrant smugglers and the state has to pay for all the 'imports' they are responsible for bringing in. The taxpayers get stiffed, the migrants colonized Europe, and the NGOs pocket the gains and go looking for more brutal people smugglers out for a few billions, to make common cause with.
It's all about the money. And these are the profiteers.
Don't think the same thing isn't going on here with Mexico's evil cartel people smugglers and the network of church and charity NGOs who encourage illegal immigration to the U.S. They all know the taxpayers will pay for every illegal immigrant's health care, education, welfare, food and jailing costs once they get to the states, and in the meantime, they can go to the press about a supposed sudden humanitarian crisis which requires funds funds funds for themselves.
If this isn't a racket, what is?
The Italian prosecutor is absolutely right to hold these colluders accountable. If only it would happen in the states, too.


Brussels backs Macron: EU elites to campaign for europhile - but will it just HELP Le Pen?

SENIOR eurocrats and EU ministers last night broke with protocol and waded full on into a member state’s domestic politics by openly backing europhile Emmanuel Macron to become the next French president. In a rupture with long-standing tradition top heavyweights including Jean-Claude Juncker, Michel Barnier and Angela Merkel all issued full-throated support for the centrist as he prepares to go head-to-head with Marine Le Pen. –– ADVERTISEMENT –– It is customary for Europe’s elite to hold back from commenting on national elections, citing the custom that it does not meddle in its members’ internal politics. Last week EU officials refused to comment on the potential outcome of Britain’s contest, to be held on June 8, saying the decision was a matter for UK voters.But it appears eurocrats have made an exception for this year’s French election and are now set to actively campaign on behalf of Mr Macron, who narrowly beat the eurosceptic Ms Le Pen in the first round of voting last night. In reality the populist Ms Le Pen, who is standing on a virulently anti-establishment platform, is unlikely to mind seeing her rival being lavished with praise by the likes of Mr Juncker. The messages of support for Mr Macron, which poured in from prime ministers and presidents across the continent last night, will only provide her with more political ammunition with which to rail against what she sees as corrupt elites.Ms Le Pen has attempted to portray the pro-EU former banker as a poodle of both Brussels and Berlin, and has said he will represent their interests and not those of the French people. She is now likely to up those attacks in the next two weeks before the final vote, and will be able to point to the entire establishment lined up behind her rival in much the same way as Donald Trump did with Hillary Clinton. Last night Mr Juncker’s chief spokesman said the EU Commission boss had “congratulated” the centrist frontrunner for winning the first round, and added he “wished him good luck for the next round”. Meanwhile the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, a former French foreign minister, described Mr Macron as a “patriot and European” and endorsed him for the final vote, saying: “France must stay European”. The EU’s foreign minister, Federica Mogherini, noted that Mr Macron gave his speech last night in front of supporters waving flags of France and the EU and described him as “the hope and future of our generation”. And the bloc’s Commissioner for finance, Pierre Moscovici, wrote on Twitter: “Emmanuel Macron now carries the flag for all democrats and pro-Europeans. We should all support him. He will have mine.” Mrs Merkel has not yet personally provided her views on the result, but senior officials within her team and Government made their stance crystal clear. Foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel said: “I am certain that Emmanuel Macron will be the next president of France. Great for Europe.” And the Chancellor’s chief of staff, Peter Altmaier tweeted: “The result for Emmanuel Macron shows: France AND Europe can win together! The middle is stronger than the populists believe!” The chancellor’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, also wished Macron “all the best” in the run off against Le Pen and wrote: “Good that Emmanuel Macron was successful with its course for a strong EU + social market economy.” Belgian prime minister Charles Michel added his “hearty congratulations” for Mr Macron, saying doing so was “my statement of support for an optimistic and forward-looking European project”.Here in the UK, the Government of Theresa May stuck with protocol by refusing to be drawn on any reaction to the first round of voting. However, some prominent current and former politicians did provide their views including ex Chancellor George Osborne, a personal friend of Mr Macron. He tweeted: “Congratulations to my friend Emmanuel Macron. Proof you can win from the centre. At last, the chance for the leadership that France needs.” Lib Dem leader Tim Farron also offered his congratulations, writing: “Congrats Macron. We stand with you against Le Pen's divisive politics. Time to turn the tide and stand up for openness, tolerance and unity But former Ukip leader Nigel Farage was less impressed by the first round result, posting: “Macron speaking with EU flag behind him. Says it all.” He later added: “Macron speech was vacuous nonsense. Other than backing the status quo he says nothing.”

Report: Only 2.65 Percent of Immigrants into Italy Are Refugees

According to official reports, during the year 2016, only 2.65 percent of those immigrating into Italy were awarded asylum as refugees, with the vast majority staying on in the country as illegal, undocumented immigrants.

According to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), a total of 181,436 migrants crossed the Mediterranean Sea into Italy during 2016, a record year in recent history. This figure does not include those who were able to enter the country undetected, but only those who were officially registered either by Italian officials or NGOs.
Of these, only 4,808 were recognized as refugees and awarded asylum in Italy, a mere 2.65 percent of the total number of those making the crossing.
A disturbing statistic that has recently come to light reveals that half of the migrants arriving in the country (90,334) never even requested asylum, but disappeared into the country as undocumented immigrants, commonly referred to by the Italians as “clandestini.”
The remaining 91,902 migrants applied for asylum, and 60 percent of these (54,252) had their petitions rejected unconditionally. Another 21 percent (18,979) were awarded “humanitarian protection,” allowing them a renewable yearly permission to remain in the country, and 14 percent more (12,873) were given “subsidiary protection.”
The 4,808 immigrants who were awarded asylum represent 5.28 percent of the asylum seekers and therefore only 2.65 percent of the total number of immigrants entering in the country during the year.
Despite the fact that the vast majority of immigrants into Italy were denied asylum, fewer than 5,000 were deported in 2016, meaning that more than 175,000 remained in the country, most of them illegally.
Despite last year’s record immigration into Italy, the first quarter of 2017 registered a 30 percent jump compared with the same period in 2016. Shortly afterward, Italy received another 8,500 migrants in a single weekend as migrants poured into the country over Easter.
The leader of the Northern League (La Lega) political party, Matteo Salvini, announced that he would bring a case against government leaders for promotion of illegal immigration into the country.
“It is now clear that illegal immigration is organized and financed and for this reason we have decided to bring a case against the government, the President of the Council, the ministers and the commanders of the Navy and the Coast Guard,” Salvini said.

France: Two Men Charged in Thwarted Pre-Election Attack

French authorities have filed preliminary charges against two people of plotting an attack days before a tense presidential election. The Paris prosecutor’s office said Sunday the two men are being kept in custody pending further investigation. They were given preliminary charges Sunday of “association with a terrorist enterprise with plans to prepare one or several attacks,” and weapons and explosives charges. The two suspected Islamic radicals were arrested Tuesday in Marseille and police seized guns and explosives. The target of their potential attack is unclear, though presidential campaign teams were warned about the threat. Meanwhile, prosecutors said that investigators have released three people without charge after they were detained in an attack on Paris’ Champs-Elysees. The attacker was killed but three people in his entourage were detained for two days.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Go Lady Go!

 Bild könnte enthalten: Schuhe
Judith Katz

Provisional Results Give Le Pen Lead Over Macron

The BBC's Andrew Neil has tweeted provisional results which suggest that the exit polls over-estimated Macron's vote to the cost of Le Pen. We could yet see Le Pen claim first place, though it will make little material difference as the two will still face off in the second round on May 7. 

Italian Prosecutor Accuses Charities of Colluding With Traffickers in Libya

Charity boats rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean are colluding with traffickers in Libya, an Italian prosecutor was quoted as saying Sunday, stirring up a simmering row over aid groups’ role in Europe’s migrant crisis. In an interview with Italian daily La Stampa, Sicily-based prosecutor Carmelo Zuccaro made his most specific claims yet over NGO activities off Libya, which the EU border agency Frontex recently described as tantamount to providing a “taxi” service to Europe. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) active in the rescue effort include long-established groups such as Doctors without Borders and Save the Children, and smaller, newer operations such as the Malta-based MOAS. They have all dismissed suggestions of de facto collusion with smugglers as a baseless slur on volunteer crews whose only mission is to save lives in the absence of EU governments acting effectively to do so. Over 1,000 migrants are feared to have died in waters between Libya and Italy so far this year, according to the UN refugee agency. Nearly 37,000 have been rescued and brought to Italy. “We have evidence that there are direct contacts between certain NGOs and people traffickers in Libya,” Zuccaro was quoted as saying by La Stampa. “We do not yet know if and how we could use this evidence in court, but we are quite certain about what we say; telephone calls from Libya to certain NGOs, lamps that illuminate the route to these organisations’ boats, boats that suddenly turn off their (locating) transponders, are ascertained facts.” Zuccaro is the head of a five-strong pool of prosecutors investigating criminal aspects of the migrant crisis, from trafficking to illegal exploitation of migrants on Italian farms and via prostitution to rackets in the provision of reception facilities. La Stampa reported that prosecutors were looking into whether some of the newly-established NGOs may be financed by the traffickers as a way of making it easier to guarantee their human cargoes get to Italy. The organisations involved have all dismissed the charges against them. They fear they are being targeted by a smear campaign designed to get them out of the way. One group, SOS Mediterranee, told AFP last week it had “never, not once” been put in touch with a migrant boat via smugglers. Under an EU-backed strategy, Italy is currently trying to beef up Libya’s coastguard in the hope more boats can be prevented from getting out of Libyan territorial waters and the migrants returned to holding camps in the troubled country. The strategy has been described by rights groups as a breach of Europe’s obligations under international refugee conventions. And it has so far made little headway towards closing down the Libya-Italy migrant route. Rome said Friday it would be providing Libya with ten new coastguard boats but a cooperation deal covering holding camps and repatriations is in limbo after it was suspended by Libya’s Court of Appeal. The number of people leaving Libya in the hope of starting a new life in Europe is up nearly 50 percent this year compared with the opening months of 2016. With most departures coming in the warm summer months, the trend points to around 250,000 people arriving over the course of 2017 – a forecast Zuccaro described as “an under-estimate”. Some 500,000 migrants were registered in Italy in the three years spanning 2014-16. And pressure on the country’s reception facilities has increased in the last year as a result of neighbouring countries tightening border controls, making it harder for migrants to move further north. Tensions at bottleneck border points were underlined when Ventimiglia, a town on the Riviera border with France, issued an order banning locals from distributing food to migrants. The order, similar to one issued in Calais in northern France, was withdrawn on Sunday in a move welcomed by aid groups who hope it will have a bearing on a court case against French activist Felix Croft. Prosecutors have asked for a prison term and 50,000 euros fine for Croft, 28, for trying to help a Sudanese family from Darfur to cross the border into France in July 2016. “This is excellent news. You cannot use the law to persecute solidarity, however it is expressed,” said Patrizio Gonnella, president of Antigone, a civil rights group. Croft is due to learn his fate on Thursday.