NEWS - Archive June 2008

Headlines 27 June, 2008


Reforms foresee equal status for immigrants’ children born in Greece

27/6/2008- New reforms being proposed by the Interior Ministry promise to grant the children of immigrants who were born and educated in Greece the same rights as Greek citizens and save them countless bureaucratic hassles and discrimination. The reforms would apply to all second-generation immigrants whose parents are legally resident in Greece once they reach the age of 18. These would include a significant proportion of some 120,000 second-generation migrant schoolchildren. In the first instance, they would get long-term resident status – a five-year permit that would be twice renewed automatically. They would then get citizenship. During this process they will be able to travel freely within the European Union for studies or work without any bureaucratic restrictions. The initiative has been welcomed by migrant support groups. “This is the first serious dialogue about the status of child migrants born or raised in Greece,” said Vassilis Chronopoulos who runs the website for migrants living in this country. Chronopoulos highlighted the paradox of second-generation immigrants having to look for work immediately after graduating from college to avoid being declared illegal. “It is absurd for these young people to face deportation from a state that has invested in their education for so many years,” Chronopoulos said. One issue that remains unclear is whether these second-generation immigrants will be obliged to pay a 900-euro fee to acquire long-term residence status (an obligation that the country’s highest court has declared illegal and abusive). Some youngsters expressed skepticism about the drive if it is to be dependent on this condition. Others seemed to doubt that it would pass through Parliament. But all those interviewed by Kathimerini said their current situation must change. “We live in constant anxiety about renewing permits, the fear that the law might change again and that we’ll be illegal,” said 27-year-old Manolis Atholanio, born in Greece to Nigerian parents.



25/6/2008- There are large differences in the infant mortality rates of ethnic groups in England and Wales, according to new statistics published for the first time today. The new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals that, for babies born in 2005, infant mortality – the number of babies who die within a year of birth – in both the Pakistani and Caribbean groups was twice that of the white British group. The figures show Asian and black ethnic groups accounted for more than 11 per cent of live births in England and Wales in 2005, and 17 per cent of infant deaths. Babies in the Pakistani and Caribbean groups had particularly high infant mortality rates, 9.6 and 9.8 deaths per 1,000 live births respectively. This was double the rate in the white British group of 4.5 deaths per 1,000 live births. These new statistics have been compiled by linking birth and infant death registration records with NHS numbers for babies’ records which include information on ethnic group.

Other key findings include: 
*Mortality in the Pakistani group was high throughout the first year of life. Mortality in the Caribbean group was especially high in the first month of life.
*Half of all infant deaths in the Pakistani group were due to congenital anomalies, compared with only a quarter of deaths in the white British group.

Bradford’s Infant Mortality Comm-ission was set up at the end of 2004 in a bid to find out why the district has the second highest number of infant deaths in England after Birmingham. The commission worked from statistics from 2003, which showed infant mortality rates for babies born in Bradford to women who were born in Pakistan were 13 per 1,000 live births, compared with a national rate of 11.2 per 1,000 live births for the same ethnic group. The death rate of Bradford babies born to UK born mothers was also significantly higher than the national average with a rate of 7.2 per 1,000 live births, compared with a national average of 5.4 per. The commission, which reported in 2006, found poverty was a key factor and recommended a series of measures to reduce the number of infant deaths. Among the actions being taken include making Bradford a baby-friendly district to encourage breastfeeding, greater support to help pregnant women stop smoking, the updating of nutrition guidelines for mothers and babies with advice on different cultural diets and a pilot project in Girlington to help families with housing needs. Projects will also be set up to study genetic risk in Bradford communities, based on Department of Health research carried out by Dr Aamra Darr at the University of Bradford. The Born in Bradford project is also currently recruiting 10,000 babies born, who were born in the city and will be followed through their childhood into adulthood. The aim is to find out why babies born in the district are more likely to die in their first year and become ill, than babies born in other parts of the country. Dr Shirley Brierley, consultant in public health, said: “We are already aware of the high infant mortality rates in the Pakistani community. “A lot of research has gone on in Bradford and the work of the Infant Mortality Commission is being taken forward by the partnership agency Every Baby Matters. “We are looking at all the issues that affect communities that have raised infant mortality rates, such as the Pakistani community and white communities living in areas of deprivation and doing everything we can to reduce the rates.”
The Telegraph and Argus



One of Boris Johnson's senior advisers has quit after he said Caribbean immigrants should go home "if they don't like it here".

23/6/2008- James McGrath made the remarks after it was suggested Mr Johnson's election as London mayor would lead to immigrants leaving the capital. But the mayor said Mr McGrath was not a racist and the adviser's remarks were quoted out of context. In an online interview, Mr McGrath was challenged with the suggestion by prominent black commentator Darcus Howe that Mr Johnson's election could cause an exodus of Caribbean immigrants to their homelands. In response, Mr McGrath was quoted as saying: "Well, let them go if they don't like it here." Mr Johnson said Mr McGrath would only provide ammunition to the Tory mayor's critics if he was to remain in post. "James is not a racist," Mr Johnson said. "But his response to a silly and hostile suggestion put to him allowed doubts to be raised about that commitment. "James's remark was taken out of context and distorted but he recognises the need for crystal clarity on a vital issue like this." Mr McGrath, a 34-year-old Australian, was appointed director of political strategy at City Hall following Mr Johnson's narrow victory over Ken Livingstone last month. Shadow cabinet minister Francis Maude hailed him recently as "one of our real big hitters". He has worked for the Conservative Party for seven years.
Sky News



A neo-Nazi paedophile who had four nail bombs under the bed he let his five-year-old son sleep in, has been jailed for 16 years.

25/6/2008- White-supremacist Martyn Gilleard was found guilty on Tuesday of two counts of terror offences and had pleaded guilty to possessing 39,000 indecent images and owning ammunition without a licence. Judge Millford said: "You claimed that your political fascism was burning out by the time of your arrest, but it was still burning bright." The week long trial at Leeds Crown Court heard that Gilleard's home in Goole, East Yorks., was initially searched by police looking for indecent images of children. Martyn Gilleard, 31, idolised Adolf Hitler and urged sympathisers to act to preserve the 'purity of the white race'. When police raided his flat they found bullets, swords, knives and four nail bombs under a bed used by his five-year-old child. Officers also found DIY bomb manuals, a guide on making a sub-machine gun and internet instructions on carrying out assassinations by poison. A speech he had recorded in a notebook mentioned 'killing Muslims, blowing up mosques and fighting back'. Police found the material at his flat in Goole, East Yorkshire, while searching for child pornography. They discovered 39,000 indecent images on his computers.

Gilleard, a member of the extremist British People's Party and the National Front, will be sentenced at Leeds Crown Court tomorrow for a string of offences. He could face life in jail. Outside court, Detective Chief Superintendent John Parkinson, head of the counter-terrorism unit in Leeds, said Gilleard was extremely dangerous. He added: 'He considers himself to be a British nationalist. He is in fact a terrorist, a man prepared to use violence to divide, or perhaps even attack, our communities. 'Not only has he openly expressed extreme far-Right views and a desire to act on them, he also had the capability to do so. 'Gilleard had access to weapons and, more frighteningly, explosives. He had even gone as far as to create small hand-held bombs. 'We can only assume that his intention was to use them and we are thankful we were able to intervene before he had an opportunity to do so. 'Literature found at his home exposed Gilleard's anti-Semitic views, his cultural and racial intolerance and his hatred for religion. 'They also demonstrated his readiness to use threats and intimidation to further his cause.' Gilleard was found guilty today on charges of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts and collecting information for terrorist purposes. At an earlier hearing, the forklift truck driver admitted possessing 34 cartridges of ammunition without a firearms certificate.

At the beginning of the terror trial, Gilleard also pleaded guilty to ten counts of possessing child pornography. He claimed he was a bored internet surfer with an innocent interest in weapons and did not intend to harm anyone. The prosecution convinced the jury that Gilleard was preparing for acts of terrorism. Andrew Edis, QC, prosecuting, said the defendant had copied long sections of the Anarchist's Cookbook from the internet. This work includes sections on letter bombs, an explosive pen, pipe hand grenades, light-bulb bombs, carbon dioxide bombs and obtaining acid from aspirin. Another seized document set out instructions on making a car bomb. Mr Edis said Gilleard's walls were covered with Nazi posters and his flat filled with fascist ornaments and memorabilia. He said: 'This is a man who did have a profound interest in and admiration for Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist movement.' Detectives found a document in his flat which was a blueprint for the formation of an extremist group with a 'mobile strike force'.
The Mail on Sunday



26/6/2008- Firm action has been called for to fight the evil of growing anti-Semitism on British university campuses. During a Lords debate on the future direction of higher education, Lord Janner of Braunstone, a barrister and former president of the Cambridge Union, said: "It is vital that the Government takes decisive and long-term action to deal with growing anti-Semitism on university campuses. "The Community Security Trust recorded 59 anti-Semitic incidents in 2007, in which all the victims were Jewish students. "Typical examples are, in Nottingham swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti were scratched on the doors of Jewish students' rooms and in Birmingham 'I hate Jews' was written on frost on cars. "This sort of racism is nasty and growing, and completely and entirely unacceptable. I hope there will be a sub-group set up, to the main cross-Governmental anti-Semitism working group, to deal specifically with higher education." He wanted it to "agree on a long-term plan to see an end to the disgraceful and divisive boycotts which have been targeted at Israeli academics by unions, including the University and College Union". Such action did nothing to help bring peace to the Middle East. It assaulted "the vital principle of academic freedom".
The Press Association



21/6/2008- The government department in charge of outlawing discrimination against women, black and ethnic minority and disabled people does not know whether it complies with Whitehall diversity targets more than eight months after it was set up by Gordon Brown, it was revealed yesterday. The Government Equalities Office, headed by Harriet Harman, the equalities minister, has not yet set up a database of its staff so it cannot tell whether it fulfils targets it should have met three months ago. The department is one of nine that have either refused or failed to reply to parliamentary questions tabled by Theresa May, the Conservative shadow minister for women, on whether they have met targets set by the Cabinet Office over a year ago. Among the 10 departments that have replied, nine have failed to meet at least one of the four targets set by the government to ensure that they employ more women, disabled and people from ethnic minorities in top jobs. The Cabinet Office set a Whitehall target for 37% of senior civil servants to be women and 30% of top management to be women. Four per cent of the top posts should be held by people from ethnic minorities and 3.2% by disabled people. So far, only the Department for Communities and Local Government, run by Hazel Blears, exceeds all the targets. Five other ministries meet some of the targets: the Department for Children, Schools and Families; the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Department for Health, the Ministry of Defence and the Home Office.

Four departments - the Department for Transport; the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills; the Northern Ireland Office and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - have not met a single target. In the case of the Northern Ireland and the Innovation ministries, no disabled person holds a top job, according to answers given to May. The Foreign Office, the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and the GEA have not replied while the rest of Whitehall declined to release the information. The Olympic Delivery Authority, released figures showing that although 85% of its staff were women, 86% of the top jobs were held by men. The GEA said: "We were only set up in October so we have not yet been able to compile a database so we could give a breakdown of staff. I am sure that when we do we will be able to show that we will meet the targets and we may set more challenging ones for the future." May said: "When you put all these figures together, they show that unfortunately, the government is failing to deliver on equality in its own ranks." The Cabinet Office, which had refused to release the information, last night gave the Guardian a breakdown that showed it met three of four of the targets .
The Guardian



In a county renowned for embracing everyone, it seems that some residents have decided Muslims are no longer welcome. Jonathan Brown investigates an outbreak of rural hate crimes

21/6/2008- A disused chapel in a sparsely populated hamlet far from the summer tourist crowds has emerged as a crucial testing ground of Cornwall's reputation as an easy-going haven for those looking to escape the pressures of urban life – whatever their race. For amid green rolling hills just a few miles outside the cathedral city of Truro, the slate-roofed Bible Christian church at Quenchwell, near Carnon Downs, is under sustained assault from racists opposed to a planned community centre for the county's Asians. The third attack in recent weeks was discovered in the early hours of Thursday morning. Obscene graffiti defaming Islam and espousing the cause of Cornish nationalism was splattered across the walls of the chapel. In earlier incidents a pig's head was nailed to the door and "KKK" – Ku Klux Klan – was painted in red gloss on an outside wall. The most recent grafitti included BNP slogans. The attacks have shocked the Cornish establishment. Police chiefs, politicians (including the head of Mebyon Kernow, the Party for Cornwall), Church leaders and local people have all condemned the desecration and Islamophobia. One man has been arrested and released on bail. But the attacks have continued, and police, who are treating them as "critical" and linked, appear powerless to stop them recurring. Officers believe residents of the affluent surrounding villages hold the key to the case. "Somebody in the local community will have an idea who is responsible," said Superintendent Julie Whitmarsh. "I know people would not want to be associated with an individual who is responsible for this."

For Tipo Choudhury, a local restaurateur who bought the chapel and has become the reluctant voice of the Asian communities here, the events have come as a terrible shock. The British-born father of three has been raising his family in nearby Penzance since the mid-1980s. "In 22 years I have had no uncomfortable moments, until now. When you suddenly get called a 'Paki bastard' here in Cornwall it makes you jump. This sort of thing just does not happen here," he said. In addition to the attacks on the chapel, he was also racially abused by a passing motorcyclist while standing outside the building. "Racism is showing its ugly head. It shows prejudice is alive and kicking," he added. Mr Choudhury is at pains to point out that the centre will not be a mosque but a centre for all of Cornwall's Asians, though he concedes Bengali Muslims make up the majority of the scattered ethnic minority population, most of whom work in Indian restaurants or in the Royal Cornwall Hospital. He says some 2,000 people will use the centre, including Buddhists and Hindus. Asians have no dedicated facilities, with the nearest mosque a two-hour drive away. But not everyone is convinced that the decision to locate the centre in Quenchwell is for the best. A local Tory councillor, Tomas Hill, had planned to hold a public meeting to discuss concerns about the scheme. He was forced to cancel it as the police investigation intensified.

"People are afraid to speak out because of political correctness," he said. "Some residents have intimated to me privately that it would change the character of the area. In light of the Exeter bombing, which happened only a week or so before it was announced, it was unfortunate timing. There has been unease among certain quarters." Dick Cole, the leader of Mebyon Kernow, disassociated Cornish nationalists from the attacks, which he described as "a crude attempt to foster division and intolerance" that must be resisted "at all costs". The local MP, Andrew George, president of the Council for Racial Equality in Cornwall, said the attacks had "brought shame on us all". One of the most telling and impassioned condemnations came from Truro police inspector Mark Richards, who told local reporters the graffiti was offensive "not only to Asians and Asian religions, but also to Christians and Cornish nationalists whose name has been taken in vain". There is a growing sense of alarm. The story has been picked up in Pakistan and the Middle East but is also being exploited by the British National Party website, where those who condemn the attacks are accused of "sickening hypocrisy" because of an alleged failure to condemn in similarly vociferous terms the recent Exeter bombing.

Despite the hand-wringing of public figures there is evidence that the South-west has a growing racism problem. Figures released by Devon and Cornwall police last month under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that racist crime has risen by 130 per cent. In 2000 there were 349 recorded incidents; this figure had risen to 802 by last year. Attacks on eastern European migrants have swelled the numbers. An assault on a Lithuanian migrant worker in Redruth in February led to the victim being left in a coma. Police say much of the increase is because victims are more prepared to report abuse. According to the most recent census figures, 97.1 per cent of people in Cornwall classify themselves as white British, with 99 per cent classed as white. The Asian population is scattered across the county in groups of just a few families. As a result, said Mr Choudhury, they struggle to gain any kind of foothold in the political decision-making process. This lack of "voting muscle" he says, has hampered the search for a permanent cultural centre following the forced closure of an earlier community base in Truro. It is a typical story, said Victor Downer, director of the newly-founded anti-racism group Unity Cornwall, who believes that many of the problems faced by the county's ethnic communities have not been reported. "Rural racism is different from what you expect in cities like London. Here it has to do with power. You will find a lot of people who are highly qualified working in the very worst jobs – cleaning toilets, picking vegetables from the ground," he said. But the latest spate of attacks have left many deeply worried. "If people are prepared to do this, to sneak out in the middle of the night and run the risk of arrest, what next? The community is feeling very vulnerable," he said.
Independent Digital



26/6/2008- One in five lesbian and gay people have been victims of homophobic aggression over the past three years, a survey of hate crime will reveal today. Their experiences range from beatings and sexual assault to persistent harassment and insults, often from neighbours and workmates. The charity Stonewall commissioned YouGov to carry out the first comprehensive national survey of homophobic crime, which analyses the experiences of more than 1,700 lesbian, gay and bisexual people. The poll found that 12.5% had been the victims of a homophobic crime or incident over the past year, and 20% over the past three years. One in six of the victims had been physically assaulted and one in eight had been subjected to unwanted sexual contact. Almost nine in 10 had experienced homophobic insults and harassment. Three-quarters of the victims had not reported the incident to the police, often because they did not think the complaint would be investigated. Two-thirds of victims who reported incidents to the police were not offered advice or referred to support services. Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, said the findings of the poll would be considered by the ministerial action group on violence, which is investigating further action against hate crime. Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, said: "We hope the whole criminal justice system will now rise to the challenges that this research poses."
The Guardian



25/6/2008- Heinz has withdrawn its Deli Mayo TV advert that featured two men sharing a kiss and apologised to viewers after the advertising regulator received about 200 complaints. The advert has been pulled after under a week on air, after viewers complained to the Advertising Standards Authority that it was "offensive" and "inappropriate to see two men kissing". Other complaints said the advert was "unsuitable to be seen by children" and that it raised the difficult problem of parents having to discuss the issue of same-sex relationships with younger viewers. "It is our policy to listen to consumers. We recognise that some consumers raised concerns over the content of the ad and this prompted our decision to withdraw it," said Nigel Dickie, director of corporate affairs for Heinz UK. Dickie added that the campaign, which was due to run for five weeks, was meant to be humorous and that the company apologised to anyone who felt offended. The TV advert is the first by Heinz's new ad agency AMV BBDO since it won the £10m-a-year UK business last year. AMV BBDO said that the concept behind the campaign is that the product tastes so good, "it's as if you have your own New York deli man in your kitchen". Heinz's ad features a family on a normal morning routine with a boy and girl getting ready for school and their father preparing for the office. Sandwiches are being prepared by a man with a New York accent, dressed in a deli serving outfit. The boy and girl refer to him as "mum", and the father shares a kiss with him. The Heinz TV ad carried an "ex-kids" restriction, meaning it could not be shown in or around children's programming, because Heinz Deli Mayo falls foul of Ofcom's TV advert restrictions relating to products that are high in fat, salt and sugar. The ASA has not yet decided whether to investigate the complaints over the advert.
The Guardian



27/6/2008- The Sofia Mayor Boyko Borisov announced Thursday he had decided to change the location of the gay parade, which is scheduled to take place in Sofia on Saturday, June 28. Borisov has been asked by a number of city councilors from his own GERB party to change the route of the procession in order to ensure the security of the homosexuals and the other participants in the event. Thus, instead of starting at the National Palace of Culture and proceeding down the central Vitosha Blvd, the gay parade is going to take place in Sofia's Southern Park. "For their own security I have designated the southern part of the Southern Park as the location of their parade because it is easier to protect them there. If they parade on Vitosha Blvd, they could be attacked by people springing out of any side street", Borisov explained with respect to his new order.

The Sofia Mayor also announced his firm intention to destroy the illegal Roma ghetto in the Vuzrazhdane Quarter known as Batalova Mahala. He made it clear this move would be made in order to fulfill a court ruling made two years ago to remove the squatters, and said the illegal Roma settlers had to find homes on their own. "There is a court ruling and a decision of the City Council, and we will execute it. We are expecting protests but we are obliged to carry it out. With all due respect to everyone, I cannot turn Sofia into an asylum place for all poor from all over Bulgaria, who have nowhere to live, and nothing to eat, and so they come here so that we have to find them homes", the Mayor explained.

Today's Quote
"For their own security I have designated the southern part of the Southern Park as the location of their parade because it is easier to protect them there. If they parade on Vitosha Blvd, they could be attacked by people springing out of any side street."
The Sofia Mayor Boyko Borisov explaining his decision to change the route of the gay parade scheduled to take place in Sofia on Saturday.

"There is a court ruling and a decision of the City Council, and we will execute it. We are expecting protests but we are obliged to carry it out. With all due respect to everyone, I cannot turn Sofia into an asylum place for all poor from all over Bulgaria, who have nowhere to live, and nothing to eat, and so they come here so that we have to find them homes."
The Sofia Mayor Boyko Borisov explaining that he was going to destroy the illegal Roma ghetto in the Vuzrazhdane Quarter.
Sofia News Agency


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