Gates of Vienna News Feed 6/23/2013

Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked secret surveillance documents to the press, has flown from Hong Kong to Moscow on an Aeroflot jet. He has reportedly been granted asylum in Ecuador, and will fly there accompanied by Ecuadoran embassy officials.

In other news, the EU’s counter-terrorism coordinator says that as many as 800 Europeans are fighting alongside the “rebels” in the Syrian jihad.

To see the headlines and the articles, click “Continue reading” below.

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, Steen, and all the other tipsters who sent these in.

Notice to tipsters: Please don’t submit extensive excerpts from articles that have been posted behind a subscription firewall, or are otherwise under copyright protection.

Caveat: Articles in the news feed are posted “as is”. Gates of Vienna cannot vouch for the authenticity or accuracy of the contents of any individual item posted here. We check each entry to make sure it is relatively interesting, not patently offensive, and at least superficially plausible. The link to the original is included with each item’s title. Further research and verification are left to the reader.


Financial Crisis
» Greece: Revenues Lag But Deficit Drops, Ministry
» Spain ‘Rejects’ IMF Call for More Labor Reform
 
USA
» “This Agreement Hands the Sovereignty of Our Country Over to Corporate Interests.”
» DARPA Computer Geek Talks About Hacking Cars (Video)
» Grass Gestapo Invade Home (Video)
» James Bamford: The Secret War
» Judicial Watch Obtains State Dept. Images of Benghazi Terror Attack
» Knox Meets Ex Ahead of Retrial for Kercher Murder
» Niall Ferguson: The Regulated States of America
» Obama’s Enormous Climate Lies
» Sex Offender Charged With Florida Girl’s Death
» The Top Secret Rules That Allow NSA to Use US Data Without a Warrant
» World War Z: Emergency Preparedness, United Nations, And Predictive Programming
 
Canada
» Canadian Jihad Murder Plotter: More Jihad Murderers May “Appear Amongst the One Million and a Half Muslims Living in Canada”
 
Europe and the EU
» Central Europe: Corruption Dies Hard
» France: Muslims Cry Islamophobia Afer Two Burka-Wearing Women Attacked Near Paris
» Germany-Turkey Row Escalates
» Greece: Crime Rate Down in the First 5 Months of the Year
» Italian Finance Police Recover 5.5 Bln Euros in Dodged Taxes
» Italy: Question in Parliament Over Team Signing Nazi-Salute Greek
» Italy: MEP Borghezio Suggests Minister is Political ‘Whore’
» Italy’s Civil Proceedings ‘Need More Speed’
» Italy: Almost 1 Billion in Public-Sector Waste, Fraud Found in 2013
» Italy: Sports Minister Says She is ‘Honest But Not Infallible’
» Italy: Economy Minister Vows to Continue War on Tax Dodgers
» Italy: Deputy Economy Minister Says VAT Rise Will be Cancelled
» More Martyrs Now Than in Ancient Times, Says Pope
» Muslim Woman ‘Cremated’ In Germany
» Obama’s Turbulent European Vacation
» Portugal: Lisbon Risks Big Penalty for Buildings Directive
» Renzi Wants to be Italy’s Blair
» Talks Between Labor Unions and Indesit Break Down
» Thousands Take Part in Demo Backing Turkey’s Erdogan in Austria’s Capital, Vienna
» UK: Muslim Prison Numbers Soar as Staff Warn of Islamic “Gang Culture” In Jails
» UK: My Hero Son Who Won Victoria Cross Died Because of Army Ban on Weapons That Damage Taliban Mud Huts
» UK: NHS Chief ‘Offered Bribe to Hush Up Death of My Baby’: Father’s Shock at Scandal-Hit Boss’s £3,000 Cash Deal
» UK: Walsall Mosque: Package Was Explosive Device
» Vatican: ‘Our Fathers’: On the New Pontificate’s Enigmas
 
North Africa
» Egypt: New Luxor Governor Resigns After Protests
» Islamist and Ex-Militant Group Member Quits as Governor of Egypt’s Luxor
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» Israeli Cabinet Approves Rules Holding Natural Gas Exports Below Expected Amount
» Israeli PM Criticises EU Decision on Hezbollah
 
Middle East
» Anti-Erdogan Protesters Gather at Games Opening
» Car Bomb Kills 12 Government Troops in Northern Syria
» Syria: Several People Die in Damascus Twin Suicide Attack
» Tourism on the Rise in Jordan’s Red Sea Resort Aqaba
» Up to 800 EU Citizens Fighting in Syria
 
Russia
» AK-47 Creator to be Flown to Moscow for Treatment
» EU Condemns Russia’s ‘Discriminatory’ Legislation
 
South Asia
» Gunmen Kill Nine Tourists in Pakistan
» Operation Junkyard: US Scrapping ‘Tons’ of Equipment as Afghan Exit Looms
 
Far East
» Chinese Press Agency Defines U. S. As ‘The Biggest Outlaw’
» N.S.A. Leaker Edward J. Snowden Leaves Hong Kong, Local Officials Say
 
Latin America
» Brazil: 75 Pct Support Protests, 29 Pct Against World Cup
 
Immigration
» Giant Amnesty & Big Money: The Shame of the Grand Old Party
 
Culture Wars
» America and Christianity
 
General
» Most Dangerous Game
» Super-Hurricane-Force Winds on Venus Are Getting Stronger
 

Greece: Revenues Lag But Deficit Drops, Ministry

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 21 — The Greek Finance Ministry is placing its hopes on the second half of the year for a rebound in public revenues, as according to data it issued on Thursday on the first five months of the year, revenues were 549 million euros short of the target for the period as reported by daily Kathimerini. Ministry officials said that with the processing of income tax declarations and the payment of the FAP property tax for 2011 and 2012, the fiscal shortfalls of the January-May period will be covered in the coming months.

Despite the lag in revenues, the budget remains within target given that expenditure has been contained to a considerable extent, while the absorption of social security funds’ allocations from the budget is now at an acceptable level.

The data published show that the primary deficit in the year to May amounted to 970 million euros, against a budget target of 4.1 billion euros. The state budget deficit came to 3.84 billion euros against a deficit of 10.87 billion euros in the same period last year and a target for 7.06 billion this year to May.

As a result, the deficit has dropped to 2.1% of gross domestic product, against 5.6% in January-May 2012. Revenues before tax rebates dropped by 8% from last year and lagged this year’s target by 3%, reaching 17.86 billion euros, while primary spending came to 18.17 billion euros, i.e. 11% less than last year and 8% less than planned.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Spain ‘Rejects’ IMF Call for More Labor Reform

Gov’t and unions agree more reform would be harmful

(ANSAmed) — MADRID — Both government and unions rejected recent IMF recommendations to make further labor reforms or risk endangering Spain’s deal with the troika (EU-ECB-IMF).

“Spain already has a labor reform law. We are enacting it, and will soon reap its rewards”, said State Labor Secretary Engracia Hidalgo. “We believe the ongoing reform to be a deep, balanced and significant one. It has transformed the labor market, and will reach its full potential as soon as credit is extended once more, to small and medium businesses especially”.

Spain “respects all opinions”, she added. “The reform has modernized the labor market, favored wage moderation, and made the economy more competitive.

“The IMF wants more cuts that will endanger the rights of workers and cause more layoffs and salary devaluations” said UGT union leader Toni Ferrer. The laters IMF recommendations are “clearly regressive” and will depress consumption even more, transforming the recession into a depression, Ferrer added.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

“This Agreement Hands the Sovereignty of Our Country Over to Corporate Interests.”

Its an international treaty that’s so secret, only one member of congress has been allowed to see it. Even the decision to make it Top Secret was classified as secret. What can be in this treaty that it has to be kept secret from congress and the American people?

According to the guy who read it, Congressman Alan Grayson;

“Last month, 10,000 of us submitted comments to the United States Trade Representative (USTR), in which we objected to new so-called free trade agreements. We asked that the government not sell out our democracy to corporate interests.

“Because of this pressure, the USTR finally let a member of Congress — little ole me, Alan Grayson [anyone who’s seen Grayson in action knows that he is formidable] — actually see the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP is a large, secret trade agreement that is being negotiated with many countries in East Asia and South America.

“The TPP is nicknamed “NAFTA on steroids.” Now that I’ve read it, I can see why. I can’t tell you what’s in the agreement, because the U.S. Trade Representative calls it classified. But I can tell you two things about it.

1) There is no national security purpose in keeping this text secret.

2) This agreement hands the sovereignty of our country over to corporate interests.

3) What they can’t afford to tell the American public is that [the rest of this sentence is classified].

See also: Washington’s blog[url]

Apparently their main reason for keeping this secret is so the American people don’t find out what’s in it and skin them alive before they can shove this thing down our throats. Even Grayson’s comments on what he read are being classified so we can’t read them.

It looks like our government is finally ready to sell us all out to the corporate interests of the world and they’re so scared we’ll find out they’re keeping the whole thing classifies Top Secret. Gotta love how our elected representatives really look out for us huh?

[Comment: Sounds like the beginning of “asset-stripping” of a bankrupt nation. The fact that US is actually bankrupt may be what the politicians are classifying as “national security”. One commentor on Washingtons blog states “The treaty will trump the present restrictions on hostile foreign governments [Red China] buying control of key US infrastructure companies or companies making or managing strategic assets or military products.” ]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

DARPA Computer Geek Talks About Hacking Cars (Video)

In the video below, Dr. Kathleen Fisher, a DARPA program manager, talks about the ability to hack into car computer systems. She explains how it is possible to remotely control modern cars through Bluetooth and smart phone technology.

DARPA, short for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is the Department of Defense agency responsible for the development of new technologies for use by the military.

Her talk demonstrates that such an ability exists and the Pentagon has researched it.

Fisher makes the comments within the first three minutes of the following video.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Grass Gestapo Invade Home (Video)

In the video here, a woman is told by police showing up at her door that she must present an ID. After she consents to this intrusion, the cops swear at her when she tries to close the door. They then follow her inside without presenting a search warrant.

All of this after government issued a warrant over uncut grass.

That’s right — uncut grass. In some parts of the country government has nothing better to do than waste taxpayer money on producing court papers and dispatching rude cops to harass and threaten people who have committed such heinous crimes.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

James Bamford: The Secret War

For years, Four-Star General Keith Alexander has been building a secret army capable of launching devastating cyber-attacks.

Inside Fort Meade, Maryland, a top-secret city bustles. Tens of thousands of people move through more than 50 buildings’the city has its own post office, fire department, and police force. But as if designed by Kafka, it sits among a forest of trees, surrounded by electrified fences and heavily armed guards, protected by antitank barriers, monitored by sensitive motion detectors, and watched by rotating cameras. To block any telltale electromagnetic signals from escaping, the inner walls of the buildings are wrapped in protective copper shielding and the one-way windows are embedded with a fine copper mesh.

This is the undisputed domain of General Keith Alexander, a man few even in Washington would likely recognize. Never before has anyone in America’s intelligence sphere come close to his degree of power, the number of people under his command, the expanse of his rule, the length of his reign, or the depth of his secrecy. A four-star Army general, his authority extends across three domains: He is director of the world’s largest intelligence service, the National Security Agency; chief of the Central Security Service; and commander of the US Cyber Command. As such, he has his own secret military, presiding over the Navy’s 10th Fleet, the 24th Air Force, and the Second Army.

Alexander runs the nation’s cyberwar efforts, an empire he has built over the past eight years by insisting that the US’s inherent vulnerability to digital attacks requires him to amass more and more authority over the data zipping around the globe. In his telling, the threat is so mind-bogglingly huge that the nation has little option but to eventually put the entire civilian Internet under his protection, requiring tweets and emails to pass through his filters, and putting the kill switch under the government’s forefinger. “What we see is an increasing level of activity on the networks,” he said at a recent security conference in Canada. “I am concerned that this is going to break a threshold where the private sector can no longer handle it and the government is going to have to step in.”

[Comment: Long, but very interesting article. (James Bamford is the author of the “The Shadow Factory: the Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America.”)]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Judicial Watch Obtains State Dept. Images of Benghazi Terror Attack

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

Judicial Watch has obtained seven photos from the State Department depicting the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012.

The images are the first released by the State Department and were obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit.

According to Judicial Watch, the images seem to depict a burned and ransacked building, two burned vehicles and Arabic graffiti with militant Islamist slogans.

One of the messages translates to “Be strong with Allah.”

“The fact that it took six months and a federal lawsuit to release these few photos tells you all you need to know about the Obama administration’s Benghazi stonewall,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement.

Click to view the photos.[url]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Knox Meets Ex Ahead of Retrial for Kercher Murder

American’s acquittal overturned by supreme court in March

(By Emily Backus) (ANSA) — Rome, June 20 — Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito met in New York City ahead of their retrial for the murder of Meredith Kercher, the Daily Mirror reported on Thursday.

The British tabloid splashed pictures of the pair warmly embracing and chatting, followed by Knox’s mother, who the newspaper said chaperoned the pair during a meeting in Manhattan on Tuesday.

Knox, 25, last month told CNN she was afraid to go back to Italy after the supreme court overturned her acquittal for murder.

“I’m afraid to go back there,” she said in the interview televised on May 7.

Knox was serving a 26-year sentence for the 2007 murder of fellow student Meredith Kercher when an appeals court overturned a lower court’s ruling in 2011, setting her free to return to the US.

But in March, Italy’s supreme Court of Cassation overturned the acquittal, setting the stage for a retrial at the appeals level.

Her Italian boyfriend at the time of Kercher’s death, Sollecito, 29, is also accused of the murder.

In a document explaining its reasons for overturning the acquittal of Knox and Sollecito, the Cassation said Tuesday that unanswered questions, from the precise time of death to the actions of the accused, had to be explained in the new appeals trial.

It also said the death could have been the result of an erotic game, as prosecutors had argued at the pair’s previous trials.

It raised several other questions that it said had be dealt with when the new appeals trial in Florence is held — likely in the fall.

Judges questioned the precise time of death of Kercher — three women in the area said they heard a “heartbreaking” scream somewhere between 11 pm and 11:30 pm, although another witness said it was much earlier.

And they questioned if the murder was the work of one or more people.

Only one man, Rudy Guede, was convicted of the slaying in a separate proceeding and is serving a 16-year sentence.

The judges also pointed out testimony that Knox was seen buying detergent a few hours after Kercher’s murder, although she testified she was at Sollecito’s house until 10 a.m. the morning after her roommate’s death.

In March, a top prosecutor argued before the Cassation that justice was lost when the pair’s murder convictions were overturned.

The judgment of Perugia’s appeals court was “a rare concentration of violations of the law and of a lack of logic and I think (the acquittal decision) must be undone,” prosecutor-General Luigi Riello said at the time.

Knox told her own account of the ordeal in a new book entitled “Waiting to be Heard”.

“In Italy,” Knox told CNN in May, “people think it’s arrogant of me to sit here in the United States and have a book come out and defend myself. And first of all, I find that incredibly unfair, because I have the right to defend myself.

And no one can ask me to just shut up because it’s convenient.

But at the same time, I want to prove to them that I care about what’s going on”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Niall Ferguson: The Regulated States of America

Tocqueville saw a nation of individuals who were defiant of authority. Today? Welcome to Planet Government.

In “Democracy in America,” published in 1833, Alexis de Tocqueville marveled at the way Americans preferred voluntary association to government regulation. “The inhabitant of the United States,” he wrote, “has only a defiant and restive regard for social authority and he appeals to it . . . only when he cannot do without it.”

Unlike Frenchmen, he continued, who instinctively looked to the state to provide economic and social order, Americans relied on their own efforts. “In the United States, they associate for the goals of public security, of commerce and industry, of morality and religion. There is nothing the human will despairs of attaining by the free action of the collective power of individuals.”

What especially amazed Tocqueville was the sheer range of nongovernmental organizations Americans formed: “Not only do they have commercial and industrial associations . . . but they also have a thousand other kinds: religious, moral, grave, futile, very general and very particular, immense and very small; Americans use associations to give fetes, to found seminaries, to build inns, to raise churches, to distribute books, to send missionaries to the antipodes; in this manner they create hospitals, prisons, schools.”

Tocqueville would not recognize America today. Indeed, so completely has associational life collapsed, and so enormously has the state grown, that he would be forced to conclude that, at some point between 1833 and 2013, France must have conquered the United States.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Obama’s Enormous Climate Lies

Putting aside Obama’s intention to further reduce our nuclear arsenal as articulated in his June 19 speech in Berlin, he has solidified his position as the World’s Greatest Liar with his statements about climate change, aka global warming, which he called “the global threat of our time.

Let us stipulate that the global threat of our time is the rise of Islamic fanaticism in its pursuit of a worldwide caliphate. It threatens some six billion of the world’s population that represent other faiths. It is on the rise throughout the Middle East and into northern Africa’s Maghreb. It has cells in South America and it threatens the lives of millions of Americans if the jihadists acquire nuclear arms.

Regarding the President’s call for nuclear disarmament, veteran journalist Bill Gertz observed that “The president is using a new term to support his earlier disarmament call back in 2009 in Prague, and it’s called ‘peace with justice’ which has a very Marxist-Leninist ring to it. All the rhetoric of the communist groups around refer to peace with justice, (and) now the president has employed it for the first time.

Obama continues to conjure up global warming despite overwhelming evidence that it does not exist. Dubbed “climategate”, revelations in 2009 made clear that a small group within the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were deliberately falsifying their climate models.

There is nothing that humans can or should do regarding the Earth’s climate. It is a force that is so vast and powerful that calls for renewable energy, energy conservation, and a “carbon tax” on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are utterly false, a danger to human life, a threat to global economic development, and the work of scoundrels and charlatans.

Obama’s administration has given us scandals from “Fast and Furious” to the failure to come to the aid of our ambassador to Libya in Benghazi; the revelation that the IRS engaged in a deliberate program against Tea Party, patriot groups, and even Jewish organizations. It has reduced and degraded the U.S. military with programs to permit homosexuals to serve and women to be in combat units. An outbreak of sexual assaults — 26,000 and most men-on-men — in the military has resulted.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Sex Offender Charged With Florida Girl’s Death

[WARNING:**Disturbing Content**]

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) A registered sex offender recently released from jail was charged Saturday with murder in the death of an 8-year-old Florida girl abducted while shopping with her mother.

Donald James Smith of Jacksonville was taken into custody after police cornered his white van on Interstate 95, said Mike Williams, director of investigations at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office…

Smith has been a registered sex offender since a 1993 conviction in Duval County for attempted kidnapping and selling obscene materials. He has been arrested several times since then, most recently in 2009 on a charge of child abuse after making obscene phone calls to a 10-year-old girl, making verbal threats, and impersonating a social worker with the Florida Department of Children and Families who claimed to be investigating the girl’s family.

Smith pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges in that case and was released from jail May 31.

Williams said Smith had just met with police Friday morning to comply with a state law that requires sex offenders to verify their address once a year.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

The Top Secret Rules That Allow NSA to Use US Data Without a Warrant

Fisa court submissions show broad scope of procedures governing NSA’s surveillance of Americans’ communication

Top secret documents submitted to the court that oversees surveillance by US intelligence agencies show the judges have signed off on broad orders which allow the NSA to make use of information “inadvertently” collected from domestic US communications without a warrant.

The Guardian is publishing in full two documents submitted to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (known as the Fisa court), signed by Attorney General Eric Holder and stamped 29 July 2009. They detail the procedures the NSA is required to follow to target “non-US persons” under its foreign intelligence powers and what the agency does to minimize data collected on US citizens and residents in the course of that surveillance.

The documents show that even under authorities governing the collection of foreign intelligence from foreign targets, US communications can still be collected, retained and used.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

World War Z: Emergency Preparedness, United Nations, And Predictive Programming

As summer heats up, so does the Hollywood box office. With so many remakes and sequels being made, it seems that no original plot can be written in Hollywood these days. World War Z is no exception; it is based on the zombie-apocalypse book of the same title by Max Brooks.

And like most blockbuster “disaster movies”, World War Z offers viewers a tightly tailored agenda as to who they should look to for guidance and safety during disasters. This is typical of end-of-the-world entertainment and a key component of predictive programming, as we saw in Contagion, Children of Men, Outbreak, and many others.

The World Health Organization (WHO), FEMA, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are typically glorified as saviors, even though local populations are often decimated or under strict control of local authoritarians.

World War Z capitalizes on a loosely defined “zombie outbreak” that is sweeping the planet at a ferocious speed with the main star, Brad Pitt, portraying a former United Nations investigator. Coupled with the United States Navy, the reluctant hero Pitt goes from retired house-husband to full-blown, globe-trotting diplomat within a few hours.

The film uses the zombie outbreak as a means to sensationalize the pandemic and ensuing global martial law; viewers begin to equate such tactics with worst-case scenarios, and if global catastrophe were to ever happen, the consumer-herd will go along with whatever authoritarian plan is demanded, like good little sheep, awaiting their heroes at the United Nations, FEMA, and the World Health Organization to save the day.

There are multiple scenes, such as the one depicted here, in which thousands are killed, desensitizing the viewer to large-scale violence

Predictive programming is a subtle form of psychological conditioning provided by the media in order to acquaint the public with planned societal changes to be implemented by those in power. If, and when, these changes are put through, the public will already be familiarized with [the concept] and will accept them as ‘natural progressions’; thus, lessening any possible public resistance and commotion. Predictive programming, therefore, may be considered as a veiled form of preemptive mass manipulation or mind control, courtesy of our puppet masters.” — Alan Watt

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Canadian Jihad Murder Plotter: More Jihad Murderers May “Appear Amongst the One Million and a Half Muslims Living in Canada”

Speaking slowly and firmly, his dark eyes staring straight through a thick pane of glass, Chiheb Esseghaier — the alleged mastermind of Canada’s first-known Al Qaeda-sponsored terrorist plot — said his arrest may have “neutralized” him but others could still be out there.

“I am in jail, I have been neutralized, but tomorrow, maybe four or five Esseghaiers will appear amongst the one million and a half Muslims living in Canada,” he said.

During a 45-minute interview at the Toronto West Detention Centre Friday, an alternately polite and demanding Esseghaier did not once proclaim his innocence, but instead obsessively condemned the Canadian government for its involvement in Afghanistan.

“I can enjoy my life in Canada, I could be finishing my PhD, searching for a job to be a professor and be teaching, I can do all of that and close my ears and eyes from the suffering of my brothers and sisters in Afghanistan. I can do that. But if I do that, I would be a selfish person.”

A devout Muslim who has denounced Canadian law and said he wants to be judged by the Qur’an, Esseghaier also said he believed Islam allows for killing when there is a justification.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

Central Europe: Corruption Dies Hard

De Volkskrant Amsterdam

Nearly 10 years after its accession to the EU, some questionable practices persist in several countries of the former communist bloc. If pressure from Brussels is not working, change must come from the states themselves, says a Warsaw-based correspondent.

Jan Hunin

Petr Necas, the Czech prime minister, finally stepped down. On Monday afternoon, five days after his country was hit by the biggest corruption scandal in its recent history, he resigned.

Necas clearly would have liked things to turn out differently. In the past few days he made it clear he had done nothing wrong and that he would remain no matter what.

Nevertheless, he may count himself lucky. A few weeks ago one of his former colleagues, former Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša, was sent to prison for two years by a court in Ljubljana. He was convicted of accepting bribes for the purchase of Finnish armoured vehicles. His case shares some striking similarities with the Czech corruption scandal. That case too involved kick-backs on military equipment.

Things are no better further afield. In Croatia, which will become a member of the European Union in two weeks, former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader is in jail awaiting the outcome of his trial. He is looking at more than 10 years in prison.

Good news and bad

The problems facing these former prime ministers are both good and bad news. Good news, because almost 10 years after the European Union started to expand to the east, some inroads are finally being made in the battle against corruption. Unfortunately the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Croatia are not exceptions….

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]
 

France: Muslims Cry Islamophobia Afer Two Burka-Wearing Women Attacked Near Paris

Several hundred residents of a working-class town near Paris took to the streets on Saturday in protest at two alleged Islamophobic attacks on young women wearing face-covering veils. Police have opened inquiries but not accepted that the assaults were hate crimes, according to lawyers.

Up to 1,000 people joined the silent protest in Argenteuil, near Paris, to denounce “increasing Islamophobia” in France.

Organisers accuse news media and politicians of playing down the extent of anti-Muslim prejudice in the country.

The rally was a response to two attacks on young women in the space of three weeks.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

Germany-Turkey Row Escalates

The German foreign ministry has summoned Turkey’s ambassador in Berlin to complain about Turkey’s EU affairs minister, Egemen Bagis. A German spokesman said Bagis’ recent remarks — that German leader Angela Merkel is bashing Turkey in order to get right-wing votes for September elections — are “unacceptable.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

Greece: Crime Rate Down in the First 5 Months of the Year

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 21 — The number of recorded crimes in Greece in the first five months of the year is 15% down compared to last year, according to data presented on Thursday by the Greek Police, which said that this year’s rates are the lowest seen in the past four years. Crimes such as smuggling, begging and sexual exploitation, however, have risen significantly and are being linked directly to the toll of the ongoing crisis. A breakdown of the figures for the period from January to March shows a promising decline in the number of robberies, from 2,571 cases reported last year in the same period to 2,187 cases this year, dropping 14.9% on average. In Attica, the decline in robberies was 12.8% and in Thessaloniki 14%. Home break-ins and burglaries also posted a decline of 17% overall, with Attica seeing a drop of 22%. Thessaloniki, in contrast, observed a rise of 7%. The number of fatal robbery was also slightly less this year, with 17 cases recorded in the first five months compared to 19 cases in 2012. Where the numbers have spiked, however, is in crimes such as begging, which shot up 120%, and smuggling, which rose by 69.5%. There was also a worrying rise in the number of cases involving sexual exploitation, which increased by 32% this year compared to 2012.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Italian Finance Police Recover 5.5 Bln Euros in Dodged Taxes

Over 30% of business checked had ‘irregularities’ in receipts

(ANSA) — Rome, June 21 — Italian Finance police said on Friday that some 5.5 billion euros of dodged taxes were recovered so far in 2013 from Italians shifting money abroad.

In the first five months of the year, 3,506 tax evaders were nabbed, police said.

Another 317 million euros in taxes were avoided through false invoicing.

Of the 166,737 businesses examined for properly issued receipts, 33% were found to have “irregularities”, police said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: Question in Parliament Over Team Signing Nazi-Salute Greek

Serie B Novara say Katidis deserves second chance

(ANSA) — Rome, June 21 — The controversy over a second-division Italian soccer team’s decision to sign a Greek player internationally stigmatised for performing a Nazi-style straight-arm salute is set to reach parliament.

Fabio Lavagno, a lawmaker with the left-wing SEL party, has presented an urgent question in parliament to Equal Opportunities and Sport Minister Josefa Idem over Novara’s acquisition of Giorgos Katidis.

The 20-year-old player was banned from ever representing his country and fined 50,000 euros for doing the salute after scoring the winning goal for his former club AEK Athens against Veria in March.

The midfielder, a former Greece Under 21 international, subsequently said he was unaware of the salute’s connotations.

Novara Chief Executive Massimo De Salvo said Katidis now appreciated the gravity of what he did and so the club decided to “give him a second chance”. But Lavagno is not satisfied. “It is very serious that Novara are playing down the controversy stirred by then buying Georgos Katidis,” he said. “I hope that the soccer League and the Italian Soccer Federation intervene to avoid any form of tolerance towards unjustifiable behaviour”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: MEP Borghezio Suggests Minister is Political ‘Whore’

League member says real prostitutes aren’t the professionals

(ANSA) — Rome, June 21 — A Northern League member of the European Parliament, Mario Borghezio, who is known for his often rough and crude slurs against immigrants, lashed out on Friday against Italian Minister for Equal Opportunities and Sport Josefa Idem for a recently emerged scandal regarding an allegedly unpaid housing tax.

Borghezio said that he had a problem with Idem, commenting that “perhaps the real whores aren’t the professional ones, they are those full of hypocrisy, political talk, who say one thing and do another”. Borghezio preceded by saying that he did not have issues with Congolese-born Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge, whom he and other members of the League have been quick to target since her appointment in April.

Soon after she was appointed, Borghezio claimed Kyenge would “impose her tribal traditions from the Congo” on Italy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Italy’s Civil Proceedings ‘Need More Speed’

OECD report presented in Rome recommends faster justice system

(ANSA) — Rome, June 21 — Italy needs to speed up the length of its sluggish civil proceedings by 10% to reach recommended OECD levels, a report by the organization said on Friday. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said in the report presented in Rome, “What Makes Civil Justice Effective”, that the duration for civil proceedings in 2010 in Italy took 564 days compared to an average of 240 days for other OECD member countries and 107 days compared to Japan, which has the fastest judicial system.

“Well-functioning judicial systems play a crucial role in determining economic performance — notably by guaranteeing the security of property rights and the enforcement of contracts — but not all countries’ judiciaries operate at the same level of efficiency,” the report said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: Almost 1 Billion in Public-Sector Waste, Fraud Found in 2013

Finance police track down fake blind, poor benefits cheats

(ANSA) — Rome, June 21 — Italian finance police said Friday that they uncovered 957 million euros worth of waste and fraud in the public sector in the first five months of this year.

They said fraud in public grants to support industrial concerns, infrastructure and the development of renewable energy accounted for 800 million euros of that money.

The police said they tracked down 3,660 fraudsters in this period, including people who had faked being poor or having disabilities such as blindness to be able to claim benefits.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: Sports Minister Says She is ‘Honest But Not Infallible’

(AGI) — Rome, June 22 — Italian sports minister Josefa Idem said in a press conference that she would continue her work “for the good of the country”. “I am not infallible,” she added, “but I am honest.” The comments came after allegations of tax evasion.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: Economy Minister Vows to Continue War on Tax Dodgers

Rome, 17 June (AKI) — Economy minister Fabrizio Saccomanni on Monday said the government would continue to fight widespread tax evasion in Italy but would “take into account the financial difficulties faced by citizens.”

Fighting rampant tax dodging in Italy was a question of social justice, Saccomanni said.

“Tax evasion distorts competion between companies, increases the tax burden for honest citizens and worsens inequality. Only by going after tax dodgers and simplifying tax returns can we achieve greater social justice,” he stated.

Sacccomani, addressing tax police cadets in Rome, said that mending Italy’s ailing public finances was still a top priority as the country remained mired in its longest recession in 20 years.

“While pursuit of tax dodgers absolutely cannot be eased at time like this when fixing the public finances is a government priority, we can and must take into account people’s economic problems,” Saccomani said.

A decree issued by the cabinet at the weekend aimed to “better target” tax collection from individuals and companies and “give more flexibility” in the payment of backtaxes, he said.

“We remain committed to fighting tax evasion and efficient tax collection is essential to this,” Saccomanni stated.

Under the decree, Italy’s collection agency Equitalia can no longer impound people’s main residences over unpaid tax bills, unless these homes have an exceptionally high market value.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: Deputy Economy Minister Says VAT Rise Will be Cancelled

(AGI) — Rome, Jun 23 — “I think that it is inevitable that we postpone the issue. The most likely way is to cancel the rise in the autumn, with the passing of the budget bill”, explained Italian Deputy Economy Stefano Fassina Minister in an interview to the daily La Stampa, referrig to the planned VAT rise. As for the funds required to avoid a VAT rise, Fassina explained that the “debate is still ongoing and I presented a proposal that is also shared by others”, meaning thereby that by increasing debt pay-backs by the Public Administration, there will be a rise in VAT revenue from companies that would amount to a one-off measure till next autumn.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]
 

More Martyrs Now Than in Ancient Times, Says Pope

(AGI) Vatican City — Today’s martyrs are men and women killed or imprisoned because they are Christian, said the Pope .

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]
 

Muslim Woman ‘Cremated’ In Germany

German authorities deemed the Muslim woman as of “no religion” without informing the Turkish consulate

STUTTGART — A Muslim woman has been cremated in south-western Germany after her death, in a move that sparked uproar and calls for investigation.

“I stressed that cremation in our religion is unacceptable,” Stuttgart Consul General Türker Ari told the Cihan news agency.

“We have not received any response from state authorities.”

A 47-year-old Muslim woman was cremated in the south-western town of Waiblingen.

Found dead in her house last month, the Muslim woman’s body was taken to the morgue where authorities deemed her as having no religion.

Authorities also failed to inform the Turkish consulate about the woman’s death, according to the German daily Esslinger Zeitung.

Authorities reached out to the woman’s adopted daughter but she never showed up to claim the body.

Later on, the authorities asked officials at the morgue to extend the stay of the body for a week but then cremated the body in the town of Schwaebisch Hall.

Waiblingen Mayor Martin Staab said local authorities registered woman as “agnostic,” acknowledging that the authorities made a mistake and that they should have informed the Turkish consulate.

The process is against the German law which stipulates that if a foreign citizen without relatives dies on German soil, authorities have to inform his or her consulate to receive the body.

Protesting the incident, Stuttgart Consul General sent a letter to Baden-Württemberg Interior Minister Reinhold Gall.

The Turkish consulate has also informed the state’s integration minister Bilkay ×ney.

“We are closely following the issue,” Ari said.

In Islam, cremation is prohibited as it is disrespectful to the dead body and Islam calls for respecting human beings whether alive or dead.

A Muslim’s dead body should be immediately taken to a mortuary for washing and preparation.

Two or three adult Muslims should wash the body and then put on the shroud (kafan). Before the burial, the funeral prayer should be done.

The burial should be done as soon as possible. It is makruh (reprehensible) to delay the burial of the dead.

Germany is believed to be home to nearly 4 million Muslims, including 220,000 in Berlin alone.

Turks make up an estimated two thirds of the Muslim minority.

Germans have grown hostile to the Muslim presence recently, with a heated debate on the Muslim immigration into the country.

A recent poll by the Munster University found that Germans view Muslims more negatively than their European neighbors.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]
 

Obama’s Turbulent European Vacation

With vague pledges and backtalk from Merkel and Putin, the president shows how far America’s standing with Europe has fallen.

President Obama’s honeymoon with the world is over.

What was it, exactly, about Obama’s controversy-marred trip to Germany and the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland that fell so flat? Ummm, how about — everything?

There were the snarky words from Vladimir Putin, who expressed an almost Soviet-esque distance from Washington in his views about Syria. “Of course our opinions do not coincide,” the Russian leader said bluntly. There was the coded warning from Chancellor Angela Merkel about spying on friends, and her and Obama’s continuing frostiness over the issue of economic stimulus versus austerity. Above all, there was Obama’s vague attempt at the Brandenburg Gate to capture some wisp of his past glory by pledging vague plans to cut nuclear arms and an even vaguer concept of “peace with justice.”

The “peace with justice” line was a quote from John F. Kennedy, Obama’s attempt to steal just a little of JFK’s thunder from 50 years before. He didn’t come away with much, winning just a smattering of applause from a crowd that was one one-hundredth the size of JFK’s. A crowd that, at about 4,500, was also much, much smaller than Obama drew as a candidate in 2008.

Not only is the honeymoon long over, folks. The marriage is becoming deeply troubled and, increasingly, loveless.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Portugal: Lisbon Risks Big Penalty for Buildings Directive

Referral of the EU Commission to the European Court of Justice

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, JUNE 20 — The European Commission is referring Portugal to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failing to transpose the Energy Efficiency of Buildings Directive. Under this directive, Member States must establish and apply minimum energy performance requirements for all buildings, ensure the certification of buildings’ energy performance and require the regular inspection of heating and air conditioning systems. In addition, the directive requires Member States to ensure that by 2021 all new buildings are so-called nearly zero-energy buildings. The Commission proposes a daily penalty of 25,273.60. The level of this penalty is set taking into account the duration and the gravity of the infringement and the size of the Member State. In case of an affirmative judgment of the Court, the daily penalty is to be paid from the date of the judgment until the transposition is completed. The final amount of the daily penalty will be decided by the Court.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Renzi Wants to be Italy’s Blair

“I’ll be the new Tony Blair” read many of the headlines after Matteo Renzi’s interview in Italian daily Il Foglio. This sounds odd to many in Britain, where these days opinion tends to be divided between those who always hated Tony Blair and those who didn’t start to hate him until some time after 2003. When Blair announced in 2010 that proceeds from his memoirs The Journey, would be donated to a sports centre for wounded soldiers it was described variously as an act of “desperation”, “blood money” and a PR stunt necessary because “Tony Blair has one of the most toxic brands around”. Personally, the final straw was those photographs of Tony and Cherie hobnobbing in Sardinia with a perma-tanned, bandannaed, post hair-transplant Berlusconi.

But when the mayor of Florence says he wants to be the new Tony Blair he does not mean he wants to invade a foreign country on the basis of dodgy, “sexed up” intelligence reports about non-existent weapons of mass destruction, nor cash in on his political career once he has left office by accepting extremely lucrative positions with investment banks and oil companies. He wants to be Blair in one very specific sense: “I am fascinated by the idea of doing to the Democratic Party (PD) what Tony Blair did in 1994 with New Labour.” In other words, take another “toxic brand” and make it electable. “Old” Labour was seen as out of touch with post-Thatcher Britain, too bound to the trades unions and outmoded ideological positions and too preoccupied with infighting between the party’s far left and more centralist tendencies. The parallels with today’s PD are obvious, although if only the infighting were as simple as left versus right wing of the party.

The headline of the actual interview, “Renzi crosses the Rubicon”, gave the impression that after months of teasing the mayor had finally openly declared he was ready to stand for secretary at the party congress in the autumn. It is no secret that current secretary Guglielmo Epifani is a stopgap, appointed after Pier Luigi Bersani shot himself in the foot by failing to score a decisive win in elections that appeared to be his for the taking, then — just to be sure — shot himself twice in the other foot through his handling of the presidential elections.

In the interview Renzi says he still has not decided, but he does say, “I am ready, I’m already working, I have a plan, I’m preparing a document” about how to do a Blair. Renzi has much in common with the young Tony. He is 38 years old (Blair was 41 when he became leader), articulate, with an easy-going casual style that wins over the general electorate, while the party old guard look on with some suspicion…

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]
 

Talks Between Labor Unions and Indesit Break Down

Home-appliance company plans over 1,000 layoffs

(ANSA) — Ancona, June 21 — Meetings between trade union and company representatives from the home-appliance maker Indesit in Rome on Friday to discuss major layoff plans have concluded unsuccessfully, the company said.

Unions FIOM-CGIL, FIM-CISL and UILM, which have been staging strikes since the announcement of sweeping job cuts, called for more protests immediately.

The company said at the beginning of the month that it was set to slash 1,425 positions, including 25 managers, 150 white collar staff and 1,250 factory workers across three Italian manufacturing plants.

Workers must be let go due to production and financial woes triggered by falling sales, the company said.

A 70-million euro restructuring plan was being prepared, the company added.

Investors applauded the plan and shares in Indesit gained 1.9% in value at the announcement during last Tuesday’s trading to end the day at 6.39 euros.

Indesit plans to keep only high-end appliance manufacturing in Italy, and to concentrate low-cost appliance manufacturing in Poland and Turkey.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Thousands Take Part in Demo Backing Turkey’s Erdogan in Austria’s Capital, Vienna

Several thousand people have taken part in a demonstration in Vienna in support of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Police said about 8,000 people participated in Sunday’s pro-Erdogan demonstration in the Austrian capital — many waving red-and-white Turkish flags and some carrying banners with pictures of the Turkish leader.

About 600 people took part in a separate protest against a crackdown on anti-government demonstrations in Turkey.

Protests in Turkey erupted three weeks ago after riot police brutally cracked down on environmental activists opposing plans to develop Istanbul’s Gezi Park.

The demonstrations soon turned into expressions of discontent against Erdogan, who won a third term in office in 2011 elections. His critics say he is showing increasingly authoritarian tendencies.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

UK: Muslim Prison Numbers Soar as Staff Warn of Islamic “Gang Culture” In Jails

Prison officers’ association boss reveals “there is clear ­evidence of radicalisation of young men… some ­individuals are bullied into conversion”

Prison officers have warned of Islamic “gang culture” in jails after ­figures showed the number of Muslim inmates has rocketed compared with other faiths.

Stats obtained by the Sunday People reveal convicts in England and Wales who say their religion is Islam have passed the 11,000 mark for the first time.

The total for Christians is 43,235, ­according to data given out under ­freedom of information laws.

Prison officers’ association ­general secretary Steve Gillan said: “The POA are aware that some ­individuals are bullied into conversion.

“There is clear ­evidence of gang ­culture and a radicalisation of young men.

“They use the name of religion as an excuse to behave badly and in a threatening manner.

“It is clear from ­incidents in the Prison Service that it is problematic. It is a drain on resources and indeed safety.”

The number of Muslim prisoners is quickly catching up with Anglicans.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]
 

UK: My Hero Son Who Won Victoria Cross Died Because of Army Ban on Weapons That Damage Taliban Mud Huts

A British soldier awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross died in vain because of an order to prevent damage to Taliban mud huts, an inquest will be told this summer.

Colleagues of Lance Corporal James Ashworth — who won the UK’s highest gallantry medal ‘ are expected to tell a coroner they were denied powerful weapons to take on the Taliban due to fears mortars and rockets could damage buildings.

Soldiers from the Grenadier Guards will claim James died because he was forced to crawl to within a few feet of an enemy sniper in a mud hut while clutching a grenade, rather than firing from a safer distance.

Last night his father Duane Ashworth accused top brass of sacrificing his son’s life to protect the building, saying his pride in his son’s VC was now coupled with anger over the way in which he had died.

‘We can build more mud huts but nobody can bring back my son. This is hard to stomach,’ he said.

Just weeks before L/Cpl Ashworth died in June last year, new tactics were introduced by the multi-national forces in Afghanistan that prevented use of heavy weapons in all but the most exceptional circumstances.

The change — in response to a request from President Hamid Karzai to protect local infrastructure — meant British patrols no longer carried mortars and shoulder-held rocket launchers on routine operations, forcing them to engage any targets at close range.

L/Cpl Ashworth would still be alive if they had been able to use the weapons that were restricted just a month earlier, his comrades will say.

The revelation follows last week’s ruling by the Supreme Court that any decision to deny troops access to adequate weaponry could constitute a negligent decision and therefore a breach of their human rights — potentially opening the floodgates for hundreds of damages claims from bereaved families.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

UK: NHS Chief ‘Offered Bribe to Hush Up Death of My Baby’: Father’s Shock at Scandal-Hit Boss’s £3,000 Cash Deal

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

The hospital boss at the heart of the NHS cover-up scandal offered a grieving father £3,000 ‘hush money’ while he was considering legal action over the deaths of his wife and newborn son, it was claimed yesterday.

Carl Hendrickson, whose wife Nittaya and son Chester died in “horrific” circumstances at Furness General Hospital in Cumbria, was visited twice at home by Tony Halsall, the local trust chief executive, and told that he should take the money and move out of the area, ‘so that we can all move on with our lives’.

Friends of Mr Hendrickson — who worked as a £13,500-a-year cleaner at the hospital — said he was shocked and insulted by the offer, which he considered to be a “bribe” to stop his awkward questions. He has since started legal action against the trust for clinical negligence.

MPs said that the visits raised serious questions about a potential cover-up at the trust, which is the subject of a botched review by watchdogs at the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Mr Hendrickson told friends the offer came when Mr Halsall made the second visit to his Ulverston home in May 2011.

The friend said: “ Halsall said to Carl, ‘Can we have a grown-up conversation? We don’t want to be sat here in two years’ time and you’ve lost your case. So why don’t I give you £3,000, [we] will find you a job in Preston, you can move from the area, and we can all move on with our lives?’ Carl was pretty insulted. He thought it was a bribe — hush money to drop the clinical negligence case.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

UK: Walsall Mosque: Package Was Explosive Device

A suspicious package found near a mosque in Walsall was a small home-made explosive device, West Midlands Police said tonight.

Almost 40 homes close to the mosque in Rutter Street, Walsall, were evacuated after bomb disposal experts were called to the scene.

The area remains condoned off, but 150 people who were moved from the vicinity are now being allowed back in their homes.

West Midlands Police said they were alerted after the item was found last night by a member of the public.

Superintendent Keith Fraser, the head of crime and operations for Walsall Police, said the incident is being treated as a hate crime but the motive for placing the item near a mosque remains unclear.

The mosque is known for its open policy, welcoming people from other religions. A spokesman said there have never been any problems at the venue.

Abdul Shahid, who lives locally, said: “Something happened here on Friday night. I think there was some wires and some batteries. The Iman took that thing straight to the police.

“I have been told by neighbours of the mosque that they heard a blast on the night of Friday evening.”

Plenty of help was on hand for those affected by the evacuation.

Local councillor Zahid Ali said: “We have put in comprehensive support for them, including food and whatever other support they require.

“It is absolutely wonderful to see that the communities have come together, supporting the residents and most of those residents are back in their homes.”

Zia Ul Haq, from the Aisha Mosque thanked the police and local authority for their help.

“We found this suspicious item which we didn’t consider to be very serious or very threatening. but as a precaution we thought that we would call the police and bring this to their attention,” he said.

“They have taken this very seriously and they have supported us wholeheartedly.”

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]
 

Vatican: ‘Our Fathers’: On the New Pontificate’s Enigmas

Bergoglio’s challenges after Ratzinger’s shocking resignation

(ANSAmed) — VATICAN CITY, JUNE 21 — Pope Francis “doesn’t have much time to set Peter’s boat afloat once more”, for it has been “somewhat battered by the pedophile priest storm and the Curia divisions which Ratzinger’s pontificate ran aground on”. And if on the one hand it is “necessary to repair the sails and the rudder” and “to throw overboard certain foul-smelling excess baggage”, it is also true that “time presses”: it can play in favor, as in the case of John XXIII whose Council “opened the Church up to a new era”; or it could on the other hand turn into an insurmountable obstacle. The many challenges of Bergoglio’s pontificate, their roots firmly sunk into the knots left untangled by his predecessors John Paul II and Benedict XVI, are the central theme of “Our Fathers” (Manni publishers, 206 pages, 14 euros), in which Vatican expert Elisa Pinna offers an attentive and in-depth view of the historic passage the Church has recently experienced: the one that began with Ratzinger’s shocking resignation and ended with the election of the pope “that came from the end of the world”. A pope whose “Franciscan simplicity”, “attention to the poor”, and “personal frugality”‘, are “extraordinarily in tune with the sentiment shared by a majority of the faithful (and not only the faithful) in a Europe crushed by an economic crisis that has now transformed into a social crisis”. The challenge for Francis will also be to hear “the demand for more rights”, of engaging in dialogue with the calls for change that are emerging from ecclesiastic communities. How far will Francis be able to go “in finding a balance with progressive petitions”? All this is going on while the “nomenclature” observes the new pope’s moves with apprehension, Pinna stresses, “in the secret hope that the revolution will end up not being as painful or as radical as had previously been announced”.

With great effectiveness and legibility, “Our Fathers” analytically retraces the dark season of unmentionable secrets, of “moles” and pedophilia scandals, of financial intrigues and plots to gain or retain control of the Curia and of Vatican Bank IOR: a season that culminated with the “resounding break’, of Ratzinger’s resignation, “an admission of defeat”.

Pinna’s book also describes the desire for profound reform and the hope that Bergoglio’s election has brought with it, in spite of the fact that certain “secret dossiers”, such as those “held in the Vatican Bank fortress or in Vatileaks folders”, could be “walls even the boldest of reformers might find insurmountable”. Bergoglio’s personality is described as much more complex than meets the eye. The authoress defines him as an “Italian-Argentine with a thousand nuances”: but this very “complexity”‘ could explain “the across-the-board and seemingly electoral convergence on his name” at the last Conclave. In preparatory meetings, the College of Cardinals liked “his speech on a Church that would be capable of taking to the high seas, one no longer corralled within its own fences”. Herein lies the program brand of the new pontificate, along with the Franciscan ideal of “a Church that is poor and for the poor”: it could not be otherwise for the first Jesuit pope in history. And if Bergoglio will be able to steer Peter’s boat down this route, freeing it from all the excess baggage and resistances, that will indeed be a story that remains to be told.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Egypt: New Luxor Governor Resigns After Protests

(AGI) Cairo, June 23 — The new governor of Luxor, integralist Adel el Khayat, has resigned after protests. Anger came from the opposition and the tourist sector when the president appointed a man whose fundamentalist Jamaa group massacred 58 tourists in the city in 1997. Demonstrators had been blocking the governor’s entrance to his office for several days.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]
 

Islamist and Ex-Militant Group Member Quits as Governor of Egypt’s Luxor

Luxor’s governor has announced his resignation. Protests followed the appointment of Adel al-Khayat, of al-Gamaa al-Islamiya, which claimed responsibility for killling 58 tourists in a 1997 attack in Egypt.

Adel Al-Khayat told a news conference broadcast live on television that he had decided to resign. Last week, President Mohamed Morsi had controversially appointed al-Khayat the new governor of Egypt’s Luxor province, despite his belonging to a hard-line Islamist group that killed 58 tourists there in 1997.

“We will not accept that one drop of blood be spilt because of a position that I did not personally aspire to at any time,” al-Khayat anounced in a news conference, saying the decision had been made after consultations with his party. “I offered my resignation to serve public interest and because of the unfair media campaign against me.”

Morsi’s appointing al-Khayat showed the growing importance of the formerly militant faction al-Gamaa al-Islamiya as an ally of the president’s Muslim Brotherhood. The group had mounted campaigns against Egypt’s military rulers and tourist industry from the 1970s to 1990s. Tourism Minister Hisham Zazou, a technocrat, quit in protest amid the outcry, saying he had heard “very negative messages” from the industry over the appointment.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

Israeli Cabinet Approves Rules Holding Natural Gas Exports Below Expected Amount

JERUSALEM — The Israeli government has approved limits on the export of natural gas reserves, keeping a larger amount for local consumption than originally expected.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would export 40 percent of Israel’s natural gas. Last year, an advisory panel had proposed exporting just over half of the country’s gas, sparking protests by Israelis who said the country should keep most of its reserves to reduce energy prices at home.

Netanyahu said the export policy, approved by his Cabinet Sunday, strikes a balance between domestic needs and the concerns of private exploration companies pumping the gas.

The consortium that is drilling for gas declined comment.

Israel began pumping gas this year and is expected to begin exporting when a second field goes online in 2016.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

Israeli PM Criticises EU Decision on Hezbollah

Israeli PM Netanyahu told EU foreign policy chief Ashton in Jerusalem on Thursday that EU countries are wrong not to blacklist Lebanese group Hezbollah. “If Hezbollah isn’t a terrorist organisation, I don’t know what is a terrorist organisation … They’re murdering civilians without letup, including on European soil,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

Anti-Erdogan Protesters Gather at Games Opening

Men, women, kids, old people calling for ‘freedom and democracy’

(ANSAmed) — MERSIN (TURKEY) — Anti-Erdogan protests yesterday followed the premier all the way to the Mediterranean Games opening ceremony in the southern Anatolian city of Mersin.

Accompanied by his wife, the premier was greeted by whistles as he began his speech. “The Mediterranean unites”, he said.

“Its name means White Sea. Let us hope it will not be tinged with blood”.

Prophetic words, as four protesters and two policemen later ended up wounded in clashes. Shouting “Freedom and democracy”, about 1,000 men, women, children and the elderly had gathered in the early afternoon at Mersin Forum. Some were “armed” with whistles, others wrapped in flags picturing Ataturk, the founding father of secular modern Turkey. Others still carried photos of the violent repression in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, where police used water cannons and irritant agents to disperse demonstrators.

They were monitored by about 100 police in riot gear, armed with tear gas and backed by armored vehicles.

“We are not against the Mediterranean Games. We are protesting against the prime minister and the methods he is using”, a demonstrator explained. Singing “Bella Ciao”, the Italian WWII Resistance song that has been adopted by Turkish protesters as a hymn to freedom and democracy, demonstrators then marched from Mersin Forum to the stadium.

The Mediterranean Games are Turkey’s dry run ahead of its bid to host the 2020 Olympics, with the host country to be chosen September 8 in Buenos Aires. The Mersin Games were “organized in 18 months at an expenditure of 550 million Turkish Liras (approximately 215 million euros)”, Erdogan pointed out in a speech peppered with references to the 2020 Olympics, an objective he holds dear.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Car Bomb Kills 12 Government Troops in Northern Syria

(AGI) Cairo, June 23 — A car bomb has killed at least 12 Syrian government troops in the northern town of Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. The bomb, with at least five tonnes of explosives, went off near an air force intelligence station on the south side of the city. The Islamist Ahrar al-Sham group was believed to be responsible.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]
 

Syria: Several People Die in Damascus Twin Suicide Attack

(AGI) Damascus — A twin suicide attack in north Damascus has killed several people, and injured nine .

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]
 

Tourism on the Rise in Jordan’s Red Sea Resort Aqaba

Scuba diving top attraction

(ANSA) — Rome, June 20 — The Red Sea city of Aqaba has attracted visitors for centuries, but only recently have developers set their sites on making Jordan’s port location an even bigger draw for tourism and business travellers.

Located a stone’s throw away from the Petra archeological site and Wadi Rum, also known as The Valley of the Moon, and a 26-minute boat ride to Egypt, Aqaba attracted over 480,000 tourists in 2012.

Easily accessible to the Middle East, Asia and Europe, since 2010 approximately 100,000 Italians travelled to Aqaba, local authorities said.

While there is no end to activities and entertainment, “diving should be high on the list, Jordanian architect, professor and Head Commissioner of ASEZA (Aqaba Special Economic Zone) Kamel O. Mahadin tells ANSA. “There are crash courses for shallow-water diving and 47 different companies to choose from. It is the best way to see the coral reef and 20% of diving fees goes to preserving the environment,” Mahadin says.

In 2012, scuba diving was a main tourism attraction in Aqaba with over 25,000 international divers visiting the over 10 diving sites. There was also a noticeable increase of charter flights.

Some 1,235 flights carrying 47,781 tourists and 143 cruise ships carrying 78,964 tourists reached Aqaba.

While hotel capacity reached 35% in 2012, some 179,254 tourists flocked to the Wadi Rum on day trips.

With the growing tourism sector in Aqaba comes the demand for labor, with 2,500 employees added to hotel staff in 2012.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Up to 800 EU Citizens Fighting in Syria

EU counter-terrorism co-ordinator Gilles de Kerchov has told the Irish Times that between 600 and 800 European citizens are fighting alongside the rebels in Syria. Kerchov said most buy into an ‘al-Qaeda narrative’ and a distinction should be made with the idealists who are fighting for a more democratic Syria.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

AK-47 Creator to be Flown to Moscow for Treatment

MOSCOW — Russia’s Emergencies Ministry says it has sent a medically equipped aircraft to bring the 93-year-old creator of the AK-47 assault rifle to Moscow for treatment.

A spokeswoman for the ministry told Russian state news agencies that doctors will accompany Mikhail Kalashnikov on the flight to Moscow on Sunday from his home in Izhevsk, about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) to the east of the capital.

Kalashnikov spent two weeks in an Izhevsk cardiology clinic in May.

The AK-47 is the world’s most popular firearm with an estimated 100 million spread worldwide. Its name stands for “Avtomat Kalashnikova,” or Kalashnikov’s automatic, and the year it went into production.

Kalashnikov continued working at least into his 80s as chief designer of Izhmash, the plant in Izhevsk that first built the AK-47.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

EU Condemns Russia’s ‘Discriminatory’ Legislation

Russia’s federal law banning the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations among children and minors” is discriminatory towards the gay community, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement. She said the law stigmatises “particular groups and individuals” and contradicts the European Convention on Human Rights.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

Gunmen Kill Nine Tourists in Pakistan

(AGI) Islamabad — Taliban gunmen shot dead nine tourists in Pakistan’s Himalayan range .

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]
 

Operation Junkyard: US Scrapping ‘Tons’ of Equipment as Afghan Exit Looms

As the US military prepares to complete its withdrawal from Afghanistan next year, it is deliberately destroying billions of dollars worth of sophisticated equipment, according to The Washington Post.

The US military is confronted with the logistical problem of what to do with millions of pounds worth of vehicles and other military equipment presently parked in Afghanistan, where the United States is winding down a nearly 12-year military operation.

Instead of donating the equipment to the fledgling Afghan security forces, who are expected to keep the peace following the US pullout, or perhaps selling the equipment to some third-party nation, the US will engage in a “massive disposal effort, which US military officials call unprecedented,” the Washington Post reported.

In total, the US military will not be shipping home “more than $7 billion worth of equipment — about 20 percent of what the US military has in Afghanistan — because it is no longer needed or would be too costly to ship back home,” the report continued.

The US military has already destroyed more than 77,000 metric tons of military equipment, it added.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Chinese Press Agency Defines U. S. As ‘The Biggest Outlaw’

(AGI) Beijing — Commenting on the NSA scandal, the Chinese press agency Xinhua defined the U.S. as “the biggest outlaw of our time.” .

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]
 

N.S.A. Leaker Edward J. Snowden Leaves Hong Kong, Local Officials Say

The Hong Kong government announced on Sunday afternoon that it had allowed the departure from the territory of Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who has acknowledged disclosing classified documents about United States government surveillance of Internet and telephone communications around the world.

A Moscow-based reservations agent at Aeroflot, Russia’s national airline, said that Mr. Snowden was aboard flight SU213 to Moscow, with a scheduled arrival there a little after 5 p.m. Moscow time. The reservations agent said that Mr. Snowden was traveling on a one-way ticket to Moscow.

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Brazil: 75 Pct Support Protests, 29 Pct Against World Cup

(AGI) Rio de Janeiro — Some 75 percent of Brazilians support the widespread protests that have flared up over the last two weeks .

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]
 

Giant Amnesty & Big Money: The Shame of the Grand Old Party

There is one thing harder, in our experience, than convincing members of the Political Class that Shariah and Islamic Supremacism are mortal dangers to themselves.

And that is asking many loyal rank-and-file members of the Grand Old Party, solid citizens and many of them instinctively conservative but not political junkies, to accept that their party leadership — the Beltway GOP — daily and cynically tries to manipulate them with mendacious slogans (as senator Jeff Sessions points out in this video).

Or as Ann Coulter this week put it, by “lying.”

The split between solid Republicans across the nation and the Beltway GOP, long papered over by the rank and file’s sense of loyalty, however, is bursting into the sunlight over the Gang of Eight’s (plus Barack Obama’s) giant amnesty-and-fund-the-Left measure.

For example, see Tony Lee’s Breitbart post about Karl Rove and his “fat cat” friends here.

A new 1,190-page version of Giant Amnesty (click here for Daniel Horowitz’ take) was unveiled yesterday and is slated to be voted on late Monday in the Senate.

Even some conservative commentators are puzzled by the participation of the Beltway GOP wondering whether pro-amnesty senators and representatives are simply misled by (an empty) hope of securing some future bloc of “Hispanic” votes.

Nothing of the sort.

Whatever else, predatory pro-amnesty GOP members of the Congress, their pilot-fish consultants, and Republican National Committee apparatchiks are street wise.

“Money at the Root of GOP’s Amnesty Push”

Rush Limbaugh last Monday had one of the more penetrating analyses (click on subtitle above) we have seen to date—

“They’re [Republicans] looking at it financially, number one. All of their big money wants the bill. All of the Republican major donors want this bill. I’ll give you some names. The Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson. I mean, they want the bill, because they want the influx of new labor. They want it. They’re not concerned with how anybody’s gonna vote down the line. As long as these guys can stay aligned with whoever is running government, they’re in fat city…. If Frank Luntz comes in and tells you that’s what his focus group says, what are you gonna believe? If Mike Murphy, or take your pick, Steve Schmidt, if he comes in and tells you, ‘You know what, you’re never gonna get another dime if you don’t do…’ what are they gonna do? These are the people they trust.” (Highlighting Forum’s)

Limbaugh warns about the Beltway GOP perspective—

“So in this whole amnesty bill, immigration, path-to-citizenship, comprehensive reform, I would urge you to stop thinking about ideas and consequences and the Constitution, because that’s not at play here. What’s at play here is money. If these elected Republicans are told by their donors that the money is gonna dry up if this amnesty thing doesn’t happen, what are they gonna do?” (Highlighting Forum’s)

Click here and scroll throughout the Limbaugh post.

And watch how the Main Stream Media (with the backdoor help, no doubt, of the Beltway GOP) ignore or mock (or both) those Republican members of the Congress who stand firm for the Republic and the integrity of the House and Senate: senators Jeff Sessions, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee. Representatives Louie Gohmert and Steve King are among the unsung heroes in the House. Nor should we overlook those 15 Republican senators who voted against cloture on the amnesty bill.

But if rank-and-file Republicans (and GOP challengers, incumbents, and Tea Parties) acquiesce in this amnesty corruption among the nominal Republicans members in this Congress, the Left won’t have to wait much longer to “transform” our civic culture.

For we will already have given that terrible transformation a jump-start by holding back on calling out questionable GOP members.

[NOTE: See URL for the many links and for an Update at the top of the page]

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America and Christianity

Today’s courts are close to 180 degrees from where the courts of the Founders were. They would prosecute a person for using the Lord’s Name in vain but today it’s called freedom of speech. One of the Founders, Thomas McKean, was well aware of the meaning of the Constitution as he was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, President of Congress, Ratifier of the U.S. Constitution, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Governor of Pennsylvania and Governor of Delaware. As Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania he presided over a case where a man was found guilty of treason and was sentenced to death. In that day one had a very short time to live. Maybe five to seven days at best, not the ten to twelve years they have today. At the conclusion of that case, Justice McKean literally preached a short sermon and gave an alter call. Tody’s court would have the entire case thrown out if a judge did that. Here is what Justice McKean said to the defendant: “You will probably have but a short time to live. Before you launch into eternity, it behooves you to improve the time that may be allowed you in this world: it behooves you most seriously to reflect upon your past conduct; to repent of your evil deeds; to be incessant in prayers to the great and merciful God to forgive your manifold transgressions and sins; to teach you to rely upon the merit and passion of a dear Redeemer, and thereby to avoid those regions of sorrow — those doleful shades where peace and rest can never dwell, where even hope cannot enter. It behooves you to seek the [fellowship], advice, and prayers of pious and good men; to be [persistent] at the Throne of Grace, and to learn the way that leadeth to happiness. May you, reflecting upon these things, and pursuing the will of the great Father of light and life, be received into [the] company and society of angels and archangels and the spirits of just men made perfect; and may you be qualified to enter into the joys of Heaven — joys unspeakable and full of glory!”

No judge would have a sentence stand if he did this today. A court case in Colorado a few years back had a sentence reversed of a man convicted of brutally clubbing a 71 year old woman to death because seven words from the Bible had been mentioned in the courtroom.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Most Dangerous Game

[…]

And while our capabilities have been steadily increasing, our wisdom alas, has not. “Information has become cheap, understanding has become expensive. It’s true in history; it’s true in art; it’s true in literature; it’s true in politics.”

[…]

The same can almost be said of religion. It has gone off into a silent corner and left the field to the creeds of this world, notably Marxism and Islam, who know nothing much about nearly everything, and nearly everything about power. Western civilization no longer links the means and the ends. And so today instead of Newton and Locke we have Holdren and Axelrod.

The unanticipated consequence of this divergence however, has been a diminution of our own freedom. And maybe we will find that the growth of science to “a dominant position in public life” has not necessarily meant that humanity has ridden on its coattails. If man is not the master of his tools he will be a slave to them.

The most striking thing about the present is we no longer consider this a problem. So what if we’re stupid, at least I have an Iphone. I just published a pamphlet titled “Rebranding Christianity” which basically calls for it to get out of the bricks and mortar game and back into history, in part because among the major faiths, together with Judaism, it holds that we are free and alive and not the playthings of the mysteries we stumble upon. And that’s an idea worth getting back into the public space.

Cambridge University has endowed the Project for Existential Risk, which grows out of the idea that “developments in human technology may soon pose new, extinction-level risks to our species as a whole.” The idea is that it may be far too dangerous to go on, with science, philosophy and history divorced from one another in our heedless way. We are perhaps the most dangerous thing that ever existed on this planet. And we have come to misgive ourselves. It is hard to know whether even a heightened awareness of our journey through the cave of wonders that is the universe; a greater consciousness in the opening of doors, or the shutting of them, will help or hinder us. For we are too clever to tell ourselves the truth.

But whether or not our choices run ill, we owe it to ourselves to make the selections consciously and face our fate as free men. Otherwise some visitor from another planet in the far future may come on the ruins of our once magnificent civilization and tease out of the computer logs man’s last message.

“Oh s**t.”

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Super-Hurricane-Force Winds on Venus Are Getting Stronger

As the closest planet to Earth, Venus is a relatively easy object to observe. However, many mysteries remain, not least the super-rotation of Venus’ atmosphere, which enables high altitude winds to circle the planet in only four days. Now images of cloud features sent back by ESA’s Venus Express orbiter have revealed that these remarkably rapid winds are becoming even faster.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

5 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 6/23/2013

  1. So Matteo Renzi wants to style himself as the new Tony Blair. He should take note that in the UK, Blair has become universally despised and discredited to the extent that he is known as Tony B.Liar. He is considered responsible for imposing Cultural Marxism and mass immigration on the British people without obtaining a mandate for either.

  2. Pingback: Steynian 476rd | Free Canuckistan!

  3. If you check the west country papers the Plymouth NHS offered 2000 pounds hush money to the daughter of a man the killed with a penicillin injection despite the note on the chart and the wrist bracelet saying he was allergic!

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