Gates of Vienna News Feed 6/12/2014

After taking Mosul and Tikrit, the Islamic insurgent army known as ISIS is moving on Baghdad, the capital of Iraq. Meanwhile, ISIS has said that it will take its war of conquest to Jordan, where it will “slaughter” King Abdullah.

In other news, the latest statistics indicate that at least 1.1 million schoolchildren in Britain speak English as a second language. The proportion may be as high as 75% in East London.

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

Thanks to Apollon Zamp, C. Cantoni, Caroline Glick, Charlie Marteau, Insubria, Jerry Gordon, JG, JP, 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
» Italian Three-Year Bonds Sold at Record-Low Rate
» Italy: Danone to Shut Plant in Lombardy, Cutting 100 Jobs
 
USA
» Big 3 TV Networks: Bias Alert
» FAA Changes Hiring Practices for Air Traffic Controllers Ignoring Qualified Students and Vets
» ‘I Choose Muhammad!’: The Fiery Christian Tract That Has Some Muslims Up in Arms
» In Tennessee Mosque Fight, Religious Freedom Trumps Islamophobia
» Preventive Measures Key to Combating Terrorism: U.S. Experts
» SecDef Hagel Victim of Bus Accident
» Woman in Jail for Kids’ Skipping School Dies in Cell
 
Canada
» Mississauga Parking Restriction During Prayer Hours Discriminates Against Muslims, Rights Complaint Says
 
Europe and the EU
» Bulgaria: Plovdiv Court Rejects Muslim Claim on Former Mosque Land in Karlovo
» Conservatives Propose Muslim for European Parliament President
» EU Members Go Own Way on Genetically Modified Crops
» Fiat, Apple, Starbucks in EU Antitrust Probe
» France: Jews of Marseille ‘Bunkerize’ After Brussels Museum Shootings
» How Britain Left Its Muslim Children to the Islamists
» Iceland: Mosque Plan Supporters ‘Register as Muslims’
» Italy: Senate Rejects Resignations of M5S Rebels
» Italy: House Approves Civil Responsibility for Magistrates
» Italy: Fiat Car Plant Wives Committee Asks Pope to Refuse ‘Gift’
» Italy: Top Bank Managers, RAI Chairman Involved in Usury Probe
» Italy: Finance Police Commander Arrested in Corruption Probe
» Italy: Tax Police General Probed for Alleged Corruption
» Italy: Mayor Near Milan Writes to Prefect About Neo-Nazi Gathering
» Italy: M5S Votes to Join Farage’s Euroskeptic Brussels Caucus
» UK: Bradford’s Schools in ‘Witch Hunt’ Row Over ‘Trojan Horse’ Investigation
» UK: Blogger Frog-Marched Out of Tower Hamlets Council Meeting in ‘P***k’ Row
» UK: Chair of Governors at Bradford School Says Links to Trojan Horse Controversy Are ‘Completely False’
» UK: Evicted From Tower Hamlets Council Meeting for Swearing at a Spin Doctor
» UK: Islamic Schools Extremism Row Predicted by Muslim Forum Chair Ten Years Ago
» UK: Middlesbrough EDL March: Police Warn Criminal Behaviour Will be Dealt With ‘Robustly’
» UK: Muslim School Inspector Employed by Ofsted Refuses to Shake Women’s Hands
» UK: Police in Dawn Raids as Six Arrested in Trafficking Investigation
» UK: Terror Trial to be Heard in Secret Despite Open Justice Victory
» UK: The Last Time the English Defence League Demonstrated in Middlesbrough
» UK: Women’s Charity CEO Jailed for Over Seven Years for Child Abuse Offences
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» Caroline Glick: Hezbollah and Israel’s Lawyers-in-Chief
 
Middle East
» 7 Killed in Car Bomb Blast in Syria’s Homs
» A Powerful and Merciless Force Has Emerged on the World Stage
» Iraq Crisis: MI6 Hunting for Britons Among Al Qaeda Fighters
» Iraq Islamist Insurgency — Live
» Iraq on Brink of Disintegration: ISIS Blitzkrieg Threatens Baghdad While Kurds Seize Kirkuk
» Iraq: As Mosul Burned, William Hague Discussed Rape With a Beautiful Actress
» Iraq: Baghdad Urges Civilians to Take Up Arms Against Insurgents in Mosul
» ISIS Threatens to Invade Jordan, ‘Slaughter’ King Abdullah
» Jihadist Iraqi Gains Symbol of U. S. Failure, Says Russia
» Turkey: Gov’t Replaces More Than 2,500 Judges and Prosecutors in Latest Mass Purge
» Turkey Tough in Banning Alcohol Sales
» Western Reaction Muted as Islamic Militants Sweep Across Iraq
 
Russia
» Kiev Says Three Russian Tanks Entered East Ukraine
» Ukraine Accuses Russia of Letting Rebels Bring in Tanks
 
South Asia
» Afghan Army Kills 35 Militants, 4 Soldiers Die in Bombings
» India: 16-Year-Old Found Hanging From Tree in Moradabad, Family Alleges Rape
» Pakistan: Karachi Airport: Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan Claims Attack
» Second Drone Strike in Hours Hits Pakistani Militant Hideout
 
Far East
» Enel Signs Two Deals With Chinese Energy Companies
» Latvia Allows Mongolia to Use Sea Ports for Export
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Britain Ups Nigeria Aid Against Boko Haram
» Somali Minister Tells British Somalis: Forget the Danger, Come Back and Help Rebuild
 
Immigration
» Italian Government Defends Sea Rescues of Migrants
» Rand Paul Throws Weight Behind Immigration Reform Effort
» UK: At Least 1.1m Pupils Speak English as a Second Language
 
Culture Wars
» Italy: Constitutional Court Rejects Law on Sex-Change Marriage
 

Italian Three-Year Bonds Sold at Record-Low Rate

Treasury says interest of just 0.89%, lowest in its history

(ANSA) — Rome, June 12 — The Italian Treasury said Thursday it sold 8.5 billion euros of three-year bonds at a new record low interest rate of 0.89%.

The entire offering of the bonds, which mature in May 2017, were sold, the Treasury said in a note.

Meanwhile, Italy’s benchmark 10-year bond was trading Thursday morning at a low level of 2.80% with the spread between BTPs and the ultra-safe German Bund opening trading at 140 basis points.

The spread closed Wednesday at 139 basis points.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: Danone to Shut Plant in Lombardy, Cutting 100 Jobs

Yogurt maker says consumer demand, economy too weak

(ANSA) — Rome, June 11 — Paris-based food giant Danone announced Wednesday it was shutting three European plants including one in Italy that would throw 100 people out of work.

The Italian plant in Casale Cremasco, about 45 km east of Milan, as well as a facility in Germany and one in Budapest are on the chopping block as Danone blames declining consumer spending across Europe as well as economic weakness.

Danone said it would be “working closely with union representatives” ahead of the plant closures slated for the middle of next year.

The company, best known for its yogurt, said that the cuts should bring its dairy-products division back to profitability.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Big 3 TV Networks: Bias Alert

On Tuesday, June 10, the Obama Administration issued a delay that will allow 18 states not to implement a portion of ObamaCare’s small business health insurance exchange until 2016.

Despite the delay, which was issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, all three network evening news broadcasts on ABC, CBS, and NBC ignored the story on Tuesday evening.

From The Hill:

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) granted requests for lenience from 18 states in their effort to enact “employee choice” on the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP exchange. The delays mean that small-business employees seeking to buy health insurance in the SHOP system will only have one option in those 18 states.

The Affordable Care Act intended to allow customers on the SHOP exchange to pick from a variety of options, but the rollout of that feature has been delayed several times. In the latest deferral, the administration allowed state insurance commissioners to request that the SHOP in their state not offer “employee choice” next year.

In response, state officials raised concerns that insurers would price policies higher in 2015 under “employee choice” due to worries about absorbing sick customers.CMS did not deny any of the petitions, which were due on June 2.

The states that will not offer “employee choice” in 2015 are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia.

Rather than finding time to cover the latest ObamaCare delay, the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley ran a full report on Colorado’s “new cash crop” i.e. marijuana. ABC’s World News With Diane Sawyer decided to run a full segment on swimming with sharks and NBC’s Nightly News covered the American Medical Association announcement that cheerleading should be considered a sport.

[Return to headlines]
 

FAA Changes Hiring Practices for Air Traffic Controllers Ignoring Qualified Students and Vets

DENVER — Thousands of potential FAA air traffic control trainees, with College Initiative Training (CTI) degrees or previous military experience, have been told by the federal agency they are no longer eligible for job interviews. Instead, the FAA has decided to accept less qualified applicants, apparently to satisfy concerns that the agency needs a more diverse workforce.

           — Hat tip: JG [Return to headlines]
 

‘I Choose Muhammad!’: The Fiery Christian Tract That Has Some Muslims Up in Arms

A pamphlet that was recently distributed by a Christian church in Virginia is angering some Muslims who claim that its contents constitute an attack on Islam.

Entitled “Unforgiven,” its pages contain a comic that tells the story of a man named Lamont who converts to Islam in prison, changs his name to Muhammad and essentially ends up threatening his Christian grandmother…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

In Tennessee Mosque Fight, Religious Freedom Trumps Islamophobia

After four years of protests, lawsuits, vandalism, arson, and a bomb threat, American Muslims in Murfreesboro, Tenn., can finally celebrate the power of religious freedom to triumph over hate and fear — at least in the courts…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Preventive Measures Key to Combating Terrorism: U.S. Experts

NEW YORK, June 11 (Xinhua) — Counter-terrorism efforts in recent years are characterized by a shift to prevention although interdiction and response remain their main thrust, experts have said.

“The best way to combat terrorism is to collect, analyze and share intelligence, especially about suspected terrorist groups and individuals,” former FBI special agent Richard Marquise told Xinhua in a recent interview…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

SecDef Hagel Victim of Bus Accident

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was unexpectedly run over by a bus in Washington, DC today as he was reaching for a buck President Obama was trying to pass him.

No word on whether the Secretary was injured or not, as journalists are having trouble extracting him from the pile of other individuals caught under the same bus.

“The wheels of the bus go round and round,” one rescuer said. “It’s difficult to get close to the vehicle because you’re afraid of getting hit by a spinning wheel yourself.”

Witnesses said it appeared as though the driver of the bus was intentionally trying to run over Mr. Hagel, or at the very least, did nothing to try and avoid the Secretary as he stepped off the curb. A composite description assembled by authorities described the driver as a tall, skinny guy with big ears and a huge ego.

[See sketch of busdriver at The People’s Cube]

“I got the feeling he couldn’t throw a baseball very well but was good at golf,” noted an eyewitness on the scene.

Other witnesses had the feeling that Mr. Hagel simply did not see it coming.

“It’s not unusual for him, given his performance so far as Secretary of Defense,” said one defense expert.

Sources said Mr. Hagel may have been preoccupied by recent stories in the media naming him as the official who made the final decision to go ahead with the prisoner swap with the Taliban for Bowe Bergdahl:

Now the White House says Hagel made final call on Bergdahl as criticism of Obama over prisoner swap mounts. Congress learned on Monday that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel gave final approval for the prisoner exchange that freed Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Last week, Hagel said the swap was a unanimous decision made by senior officials. Hagel is expected to defend the prisoner exchange on Wednesday in an appearance before the House Armed Services Committee.

“The man’s memory is not very good if he doesn’t remember important decisions,” noted a White House insider. “It’s no wonder he forgot he shouldn’t walk in front of buses.”

Whatever the ultimate cause, this latest episode continues an odd string of bus accidents involving Obama Administration officials dating back to January, 2009.

“It’s like there’s a curse,” observed one journalist. “I’m not a superstitious womyn but if I worked in the Obama White House, I’d be really careful about buses.”

[Return to headlines]
 

Woman in Jail for Kids’ Skipping School Dies in Cell

Eileen Dinino found in cell.

BERN TWP., Pa. — A woman died at the Berks County Jail in Bern Township on Saturday.

Some legislators are questioning why how she died and why she was in jail in the first place.

“I have questions as well as what happened to the woman in prison. How did it happen that she passed away? Did she need medical attention and not receive it,” said PA Senator Judy Schwank, (D) Berks County.

Eileen Dinino, 55, was a mother of seven. She was serving a 48-hour sentence for her children’s multiple truancy violations. But some legislators cannot come to grips with her sentence.

“I cannot understand how someone ends up going to jail. They did not murder someone, they did not steal, they did not commit a felony. How does jail time equate to resolving this particular problem?” said Sen. Schwank.

Dinino had a total of 55 violations against her for her children missing numerous days of school in both Reading and Muhlenberg Township.

Under state law, you can be sentenced to five days in jail for every violation.

“That unfortunately is part of the law in Pennsylvania and I think it is insanity. There has got to be a better way to deal with truancy than putting somebody in prison,” said Christian Leinbach, (R) Berks County commissioner.

Schwank suggested maybe community service or a payment plan for the fines would have been more beneficial.

But Leinbach is calling for an outright change to the existing law.

“I think there are better ways to deal with nonviolent crimes. I am not even sure quite frankly that things like truancy and parking should be criminal offenses and frankly support legislation that would decriminalize those offenses,” said Leinbach.

Dinino died 24-hours into her sentence. An autopsy was performed, but the coroner is awaiting toxicology results before deciding the cause of death.

Officials say nothing indicates the death was suspicious.

           — Hat tip: Apollon Zamp [Return to headlines]
 

Mississauga Parking Restriction During Prayer Hours Discriminates Against Muslims, Rights Complaint Says

TORONTO — Two men say a parking restriction in the City of Mississauga that’s in effect during Friday prayer services discriminates against Muslims and they’re asking the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario to back their claim.

Salman Khalid, 32, is an emergency physician at a hospital about half an hour from the ISNA Canada Centre, a mosque he and his family have always attended in Mississauga, west of Toronto. In May 2012, he was given a ticket for parking on nearby Finfar Court rather than the mosque’s parking lot, while attending Friday prayer services…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Bulgaria: Plovdiv Court Rejects Muslim Claim on Former Mosque Land in Karlovo

Plovdiv Regional Court has upheld a decision by Karlovo District Court rejecting an application by the Muslim community to be awarded property at the central square of Karlovo where the Karmaza mosque once stood.

The claim was for a plot of about 400 sq m of land. The mosque was demolished in the 1960s.

The case is similar to another in Karlovo, involving the Kurshum mosque, where the building is still standing. The Kurshum mosque court case is still pending because the Sofia Court of Appeal has to decide on an issue of succession-in-title regarding the property…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Conservatives Propose Muslim for European Parliament President

The conservative ECR group has proposed Sajjad Haider Karim, who in 2004 became the first British Muslim MEP, to be the next European Parliament President. However, the candidacy appears to be a long shot.

Sajjad Karim, nominated as European Parliament Presidential candidate by the European Conservatives and Reformists’ group (ECR), has written to the leaders of all the main groups in the European Parliament seeking their backing.

He said that the image of the EU in the world had been tainted by the recent European elections, with the rise of extremist parties.

“I ask the group leaders: is it not now time to reinstate our values of tolerance, acceptance and diversity”, writes Karim, who was born in Blackburn, Lancashire, of Pakistani descent. He adds he is relying on a track record of 20 years experience, as an elected public official, 10 of which have been served here in the European Parliament.

“I have served diligently working across groups and political divides always seeking consensus and delivery,” writes Karim, who was elected in 2004 for the Liberal Democrats, but joined the Conservative Party in November 2007.

Karim has championed developing and facilitating international trade between the EU and the wider world and has been a key player in the development of the EU-India Free Trade Agreement within the European Parliament. He has also been active in human right issues, including by raising the matter of the alleged CIA renditions and secret prisons.

However, the candidacy of an MEP proposed by ECR may be a long shot. In recent years, the election of the European Parliament President has been a deal between the centre-right European Peoples’ Party and the centre-left Socialists and Democrats, who have split the two-year term in two and use to alternate their representatives for the job. Pat Cox, an Irish liberal, has led the Parliament from January 2002 to July 2004.

The Tories are also hardly in a position to be given any “presents”, as their leader David Cameron is opposing the election of Jean-Claude Juncker for Commission President. As a leading candidate of the of the centre-right EPP group which won the European elections, Juncker should be given a mandate to form a majority to back him in the European parliament.

The mandate of the present Parliament President, Martin Schulz, expires next month, when two sessions will be held from 1 to 3 and from 14 to 17 July, at which the new European Parliament is expected to elect its next President, and other new leaders.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]
 

EU Members Go Own Way on Genetically Modified Crops

Environmental ministers end years of deadlock on GMOs

(ANSA) — Luxembourg, June 12 — European Union environmental ministers on Thursday ended four years of legislative deadlock by agreeing to allow member countries to go their separate ways on genetically modified crops.

Member states will be able to decide whether and to what extent to allow the cultivation of gene-modified organisms (GMOs) in their territory. It is now up to Italy’s six-month presidency to see whether it can find a legislative agreement on the issue with the new European Parliament.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Fiat, Apple, Starbucks in EU Antitrust Probe

Tax deals in three countries, possible illicit State aid

(ANSA) — Brussels, June 11 — Italian-American car manufacturer Fiat is one of three multinational companies implicated in a probe by the European commission into whether tax arrangements granted by three EU countries amounted to illegal State aid.

The EU’s antitrust regulator said Wednesday it had opened an investigation to examine whether tax deals granted by Luxembourg, Ireland and the Netherlands respectively to Fiat Finance and Trade, Apple and Starbucks were in contravention of European competition rules. “In the current context of tight public budgets, it is particularly important that large multinationals pay their fair share of taxes,” said EU antitrust chief Joaquín Almunia.

Ad hoc tax agreements are not illegal per se under European law, but “they could contain illegal State aid if they involve specific and selective advantages to some companies or groups of companies,” the EU regulator pointed out. Brussels is not calling into question the overall tax regimes of the three countries concerned, the antitrust authority said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

France: Jews of Marseille ‘Bunkerize’ After Brussels Museum Shootings

French police are guarding ninety synagogues and Jewish schools in Marseille after the shooting attack at the Jewish Museum in Brussels killed four people last month, the UK Guardian reported on Wednesday.

Michèle Teboul, the leader of a regional Jewish organisation, was quoted as saying that Marseilles’s 80,000-member Jewish community had no alternative other than to “bunkerize.” The city has 850,000 people, a quarter of whom are Muslim…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

How Britain Left Its Muslim Children to the Islamists

By Douglas Murray

The Birmingham schools row is the logical outcome of years of weak policy and political correctness

Who’s up, who’s down? Who’s in, who’s out? While Westminster spent last week gossiping about which minister’s special adviser said what, in another city, not far away, a very different Britain was unveiled…

[Reader comment by Ronayne Maher on 12 June 2014.]

Sharp, logical, and informative article. This episode is deeply concerning, not least when one glances towards events over the last 24 hours in the Middle East.

This barbarism is being taught in British schools, and naive liberals are carping about tolerance and diversity. There is nothing more intolerant than Islam, so even if we’re to name ‘tolerance’, rather flaccidly I must say, as one definable British value, Islam most certainly isn’t it!

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Iceland: Mosque Plan Supporters ‘Register as Muslims’

People in Iceland have been joining the national Muslim Association as a protest against right-wing opposition to a new mosque planned for the capital Reykjavik, it seems.

“I’ve received emails from people asking how they can register. I was a bit surprised, but very pleased,” association founder Salmann Tamimi tells the Iceland Review website.

The upsurge in interest apparently stems from a row over the council’s decision to grant land for the mosque. Opponents say it’s a misuse of public land and they’re defending the established church, while critics accuse them of bigotry.

Iceland’s 770 registered Muslims currently worship in a room on the third floor of an office block, and waited 14 years before getting permission to build the new mosque in 2013.

A leading journalist, Gunnar Smari Egilsson, says he might join the Muslim Association so that, as Icelandic law requires, it receives a small donation from his taxes. In a Facebook post he says joining would “help its members protect themselves from the attacks and lies of the Progressive Party and its supporters”, whom he accuses of a “xenophobic lurch”. But Prime Minister and Progressive Party leader David Gunnlaugsson rejects accusations that his supporters are flirting with racism, saying instead that they simply want an “open debate” .

Icelandic law allows membership of only one religious association at a time, and Mr Tamimi says he’d prefer that people didn’t have to quit the national church simply to show support for the mosque. “There’s room in Christianity to fight for the human rights of others,” he says.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: Senate Rejects Resignations of M5S Rebels

Tensions persist between Grillo stalwarts and dissidents

(ANSA) — Rome, June 11 — The Italian Senate on Wednesday voted not to accept the resignations of two Senators kicked out of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) by its leader Beppe Grillo. The M5S was outvoted in its bid to accept the resignations of Laura Bignami and Maria Mussini, whom Grillo expelled from the party in March after they tendered their resignation as Senators in solidarity with four former party members who had been similarly ejected, that time for criticizing their leader’s tirade against Premier Matteo Renzi during talks to discuss forming the government in February.

The incident has brought tensions within Italy’s second-biggest political force to a head amid accusations that the movement is far from democratic.

On Wednesday M5S faithful were once again on the offensive, this time against Parma’s M5S Mayor Federico Pizzarotti, who has been threatened with expulsion from the M5S for challenging Grillo. In a post on Grillo’s blog titled The Unkept Promises of Pizzarotti, M5S Bologna Councilor Max Bugani said he doesn’t “like coy people, especially when they’re in the M5S”. Pizzarotti responded with a Facebook post in which he singled out “those who spew rivers of bile and vitriol”. Instead “I’m making a revolution with a smile on my face”. The Parma mayor has been on thin ice with Grillo for criticizing his resistance to compromise early last year, when Grillo refused to enter deals with the traditional parties after his movement captured around a quarter of the national vote and held the balance of power in inconclusive elections. The stance led to two months of deadlock that forced unnatural allies in the centre-left and centre-right to form a coalition.

Grillo justified the position, saying he wants to destroy the established party system, which he blames for corruption and Italy’s recent economic decline.

Many predicted his movement was losing steam after coming 20% behind the Democratic Party (PD) of Renzi in May 25 European elections, failing to upset the traditional party system as other Euroskeptics did in France and Britain. But last weekend, following a new tide of corruption probes linked to the 2015 World’s Fair in Milan and the flood-protection system in Venice, the M5S did well in municipal elections, snatching away the leftist stronghold of Livorno from the PD.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: House Approves Civil Responsibility for Magistrates

Renzi’s PD says measure will be overturned

(ANSA) — Rome, June 11 — The Lower House on Wednesday approved an amendment to a bill incorporating a European regulation into Italian law that, if it wins final approval, will make it possible to prosecute magistrates in civil courts for bad decisions made carrying out their duties. Premier Matteo Renzi’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD) said the controversial measure will be stripped from the bill when it goes to the Senate.

Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, who has been at the centre of dozens of criminal cases and is currently doing a year of community service for a tax-fraud conviction, has frequently called for it be possible to sue magistrates for their decisions.

The amendment was not proposed by Berlusconi’s opposition centre-right Forza Italia (FI) party, but by his allies in the Northern League.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: Fiat Car Plant Wives Committee Asks Pope to Refuse ‘Gift’

‘CEO makes more than all his workers combined’

(see previous). (ANSA) — Pomigliano D’Arco (Naples), June 11 — A committee of the wives of Pomigliano automobile plant workers on Wednesday called for Pope Francis to refuse a Fiat Panda said to have been given to him by workers at the southern car plant.

“The acritical acceptance of the ‘gift’ would offend both the living and the memory of the workers who committed suicide in Pomigliano and Nola,” reads the statement. Pope Francis on Wednesday morning received the offer of the gift produced on the assembly lines of the Campania region plant, and took the keys at his general audience in St Peter’s Square.

The committee stated that the “gift” was “not from the workers, it was from Fiat” and that the workers who had brought the car to him had been paid for doing so by the company. The gift came from “CEO Marchionne, who in a single year takes home as much as all of his workers put together”, said the committee.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: Top Bank Managers, RAI Chairman Involved in Usury Probe

BNL, Unicredit, MPS and BpB suspected of applying usurious rates

(ANSA) — Trani, June 11 — Former Bank of Italy director and current chairman of State broadcaster RAI, Anna Maria Tarantola, and former Bank of Italy director general and ex-economy minister Fabrizio Saccomanni are among 62 people implicated in a probe into allegd usury at some of the country’s biggest banks.

Former and current top managers at BNL, Unicredit, Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) and Banca popolare di Bari (BpB) have all been investigated in relation to the alleged application of usurious interest rates on certain loans, news of which emerged Tuesday. They include BNL Chairman Luigi Abete, Unicredit former CEO Alessandro Profumo — currently chairman at struggling MPS — and MPS former chairman Giuseppe Mussari and his deputy Francesco Gaetano Caltagirone.

Prosecutors say the four banks involved in the probe allegedly applied the usurious rates from 2005 to 2012 with the “moral participation” of the then directors of Italy’s central bank and of Giuseppe Maresca, a director at the ecomony ministry. The companies affected by the allegedly usurious rates are located in the province of Bari in Italy’s southern Puglia region.

Prosecutors say overall profits from the alleged usury run to the tune of 95,000 euros.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: Finance Police Commander Arrested in Corruption Probe

Officer suspected of taking bribes to stop tax inspections

(ANSA) — Naples, June 11 — Fabio Massimo Mendella, the commander of the Italian finance police (Guardia di Finanza) in the province of Livorno, was arrested on Wednesday in relation to a probe into alleged corruption.

A Neapolitan accountant, Pietro De Riu, was also arrested as a result of the investigation by Naples prosecutors. De Riu is suspected of taking bribes of over one million euros from people wanting to avoid tax inspections on behalf of Mendella when he worked in the province of Naples between 2006 and 2012.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: Tax Police General Probed for Alleged Corruption

Links believed with arrested finance guard commander

(ANSA) — Naples, June 11 — Vito Bardi, a general in Italy’s tax police, was put under investigation Wednesday, reportedly for alleged corruption. Investigators were searching finance guard headquarters in Rome. He is believed to be part of the same probe in which a Livorno tax police commander was arrested earlier Wednesday. A Neapolitan accountant, Pietro De Riu, was also arrested as a result of that investigation. De Riu is suspected of taking bribes of over one million euros from people wanting to avoid tax inspections on behalf of Mendella.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: Mayor Near Milan Writes to Prefect About Neo-Nazi Gathering

Saturday event ‘to raise money for Greece’s Golden Dawn’

(ANSA) — Milan, June 11 — Municipalities near Milan were protesting Wednesday over plans by alleged neo-Nazis for an event Saturday near the northern Italy town of Carugate. The concert is said to be a fund-raising event for the Greek Neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn. Mayor Cristina Carrer of nearby town Pioltello spoke out against “any demonstration that serves as an apology for Nazi” ideology and calling on government institutions and security forces to work together on the matter. Carrer said that the mayor of Carugate, Umberto Gravina, had informed Milan prefect Francesco Paolo Tronca and he, in turn, said he was “willing to call an immediate meeting of the committee for security and public order” to discuss dealing with event.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: M5S Votes to Join Farage’s Euroskeptic Brussels Caucus

Members overwhelmingly in favor, says Grillo’s online poll

(ANSA) — Rome, June 12 — Members of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) voted overwhelmingly in favor of joining the Euroskeptic caucus in Brussels of UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage on Thursday. The vote was held on the blog of M5S leader Beppe Grillo.

Over 23,000 of a total 29,584 voters opted to join Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD). UKIP garnered the most votes of any party in the UK in European elections last month.

Grillo, whose party got 21% of the Italian vote to finish 20% behind Premier Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party (PD) in the elections, had been looking into a possible alliance with either the Greens or UKIP.

Farage said Wednesday that he and Grillo differed only on a few policies but shared an overall vision, and rejected out of hand accusations that his party was racist.

Farage told ANSA last week that UKIP is “a democratic organization…the classic liberal party of the 1800s,” in which “any form of racism, sexism or xenophobia is not tolerated”.

As proof he pointed to the fact that UKIP’s constituents recently elected a Muslim businessman, an openly gay man, an individual of Roma origins and “many women”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

UK: Bradford’s Schools in ‘Witch Hunt’ Row Over ‘Trojan Horse’ Investigation

DAVID Cameron hinted he believed the ‘Trojan Horse’ affair had spread to Bradford, as he described the threat of Islamist extremism in schools as “extremely serious”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

UK: Blogger Frog-Marched Out of Tower Hamlets Council Meeting in ‘P***k’ Row

A reporter was frog-marched out of a Tower Hamlets Council meeting last night after telling a senior council officer he was “acting like a p***k”. Trial by Jeory blogger Ted Jeory was evicted from the Town Hall after the spat with head of communications Takki Sulaiman over the lack of seats available for the press…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

UK: Chair of Governors at Bradford School Says Links to Trojan Horse Controversy Are ‘Completely False’

A chair of governors in Bradford has warned that reports linking Bradford schools to Islamic extremism is beginning to “feel like a witch hunt.”

Faisal Khan was speaking following reports relating to two Bradford schools, Carlton Bolling College and Laisterdyke Business and Enterprise College, comparing them to Birmingham schools criticised by governing body Ofsted for pushing an Islamic agenda in secular schools.

And Bradford Council leader David Green has warned of making comparisons between two totally different situations…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

UK: Evicted From Tower Hamlets Council Meeting for Swearing at a Spin Doctor

To cut a long story short, I was evicted from a Tower Hamlets council meeting tonight and frogmarched out of the town hall by two uniformed security guards on the orders of Head of Communications Takki Sulaiman.

Because I told him he was acting like a *****. I regret my choice of word. Four letters would have been enough.

He and I have a long history. He dislikes my journalism and I dislike his attitude to press freedom…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

UK: Islamic Schools Extremism Row Predicted by Muslim Forum Chair Ten Years Ago

The ongoing row about whether or not schools in Birmingham may have been subject to Islamic radicalisation continues. Now, the chairman of think-tank the Muslim Forum in Leicester, Manzoor Moghul, has written a newspaper article claiming that he warned of such dangers more than a decade ago. VoR’s Tim Ecott asked him if he was shocked by events in Birmingham…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

UK: Middlesbrough EDL March: Police Warn Criminal Behaviour Will be Dealt With ‘Robustly’

Opponents of the English Defence League are planning counter demonstration to coincide with planned march later this month

Police have warned that any anti-social or criminal behaviour linked to a planned English Defence League demonstration will be dealt with “robustly”. It comes as hundreds of demonstrators plan to march through Middlesbrough later this month…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

UK: Muslim School Inspector Employed by Ofsted Refuses to Shake Women’s Hands

A Muslim schools inspector employed by Ofsted in London refused to shake hands with women teachers, the education watchdog admitted today. Teachers complained that he snubbed female members of staff because he said it went against his Islamic faith…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

UK: Police in Dawn Raids as Six Arrested in Trafficking Investigation

Thursday, 9.40am update: Six people have been arrested in London and Peterborough in relation to the human trafficking of more than 100 women, the Met Police have confirmed on Wednesday (11 June).

The arrests were made by the Metropolitan Police in relation to alleged sexual exploitation, controlling prostitution and money laundering offences…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

UK: Terror Trial to be Heard in Secret Despite Open Justice Victory

Identity of suspects revealed by Court of Appeal but “core” of trial will be in private

The majority of a major terrorism trial will be heard in secret despite a victory for open justice. The “core” of the prosecution of two men for an alleged terror plot will be heard in private on national security grounds, the Court of Appeal has ruled…

The men were then named for the first time as Erol Incedal and Mounir Rarmoul-Bohhadjar…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

UK: The Last Time the English Defence League Demonstrated in Middlesbrough

The EDL is planning a demonstration in Middlesbrough later this month :: Around 500 people were involved at last demonstration in 2011

The Gazette reported yesterday how the English Defence League (EDL) is planning to demonstrate in Middlesbrough later this month. Cleveland Police officers are currently in talks with a number of groups over plans by members from as far afield as London and Scotland to gather in the town on June 28.

About 250 EDL supporters have already confirmed they are attending on Facebook — with organisers saying full details of the demo will be released “at a later date”. The last time the organisation marched through the town — shown in the gallery above — was in July 2011…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

UK: Women’s Charity CEO Jailed for Over Seven Years for Child Abuse Offences

The chief executive of Southwark Muslim Women’s Association has been jailed for seven and a half years after being found guilty of sexual abuse against three girls under the age of 14.

Zafar Iqbal, 67, was sentenced at Woolwich Crown Court yesterday. He will be placed on the sex offenders register indefinitely…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Caroline Glick: Hezbollah and Israel’s Lawyers-in-Chief

The Middle East is rapidly changing. Indeed, it is convulsing. After generations of stasis, where strong, despotic central governments ruled with an iron fist and everyone knew who he was and who he was not, today everything — borders, regimes, identities — is in flux.

Take Iraq. Last week, residents of Mosul lived under Iraqi government control. On Tuesday, they lived under al-Qaida control.

Today national governments throughout the Islamic world are incapable of defeating strategically minded and aggressive jihadist militias like al-Qaida and proxy forces for the likes of Iran.

The most prominent example of an organization that is strategically flexible and capable of evolving and learning is Hezbollah. Since Iran founded the Shi’ite terrorist organization in 1982, Hezbollah has operated on multiple levels simultaneously.

Today it is an international terrorist organization with cells throughout the world. It is Iran’s foreign legion. It is a member of the Lebanese government.

It controls south Lebanon. And it fields its own formidable military force that now serves as the core of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s military forces in the Syrian civil war.

All of these disparate tasks require an enormous capacity for organizational flexibility and learning.

This brings us to Israel…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick [Return to headlines]
 

7 Killed in Car Bomb Blast in Syria’s Homs

DAMASCUS, June 12 (Xinhua) — At least seven people were killed and 55 others wounded on Thursday when a booby-trapped car went off in a pro-government neighborhood of the country’s central province of Homs, official SANA news agency reported…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

A Powerful and Merciless Force Has Emerged on the World Stage

by Peter Oborne

As Middle East borders are redrawn by jihadists, the West should regard Iran as an ally

It is almost one hundred years since Sir Mark Sykes, an otherwise forgettable British politician, entered into an agreement with a French diplomat called François Georges-Picot (great uncle of the former president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing) to carve up the Middle East after the end of the First World War…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Iraq Crisis: MI6 Hunting for Britons Among Al Qaeda Fighters

Downing Street says ‘arc of extremism’ is stretching across Middle East, as intelligence agencies investigate whether British jihadists have joined fighters in Iraq

MI6 are investigating whether British citizens fighting with Jihadist groups in Syria have joined the chaos in Iraq, Downing Street said today. The insurgency is part of an “arc of extremism” stretching across the Middle East from Egypt to Iraq, the Prime Minister’s office said…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Iraq Islamist Insurgency — Live

16:51: President Obama says there will be “short-term immediate actions that need to be done militarily in Iraq”.

16:41: US Vice President Joe Biden has called Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki to discuss Iraq’s deepening security crisis, a US official quoted by Reuters says. No details on the conversation were immediately available…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Iraq on Brink of Disintegration: ISIS Blitzkrieg Threatens Baghdad While Kurds Seize Kirkuk

The ISIS Jihad blitzkrieg seized the oil-rich Northern Iraqi City of Mosul Wednesday, while the Iraqi Army fled. This leaving nearly half a million civilians, Assyrian Christians among them, to flee to rural areas of the province of Biblical Nineveh. ISIS is the Salafist -Jihadist Al Qaeda terrorist army, the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham, the Levant. ISIS has looted nearly a half billion in cash and tons of gold bullion making the terrorist army perhaps the largest well funded Al Qaeda affiliate. Add to that the significant oil fields and Iraq’s largest refinery in Mosul, the ISIS literally may have the fuel to follow through with their threat to attack Baghdad. Mosul was festooned with the decapitated heads of Iraqi policemen. This despite Prime Mimister Nouri al-Maliki putting on a brave face calling upon his parliament to declare a state of national emergency. Now he has to rely on the loyalty of the US trained Iraqi army and militia from his Shia base to defend the capital.

Meanwhile, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Irbil dispatched its peshmerga forces to take over what they couldn’t do by plebiscite, the oil rich city of Kirkuk. A Kirkuk that the Kurds consider as “their equivalent of Jerusalem”. Now, as one report cited, just a mound of dirt separates

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]
 

Iraq: As Mosul Burned, William Hague Discussed Rape With a Beautiful Actress

by Freddy Gray

How will history remember this week? Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, was seized by ISIS, an army of fanatics who like crucifying people, among other activities, and who reportedly have British Muslims among their ranks. This was more evidence that Iraq — far from flowering into a beautiful democracy after the allied invasion of 2003 — has descended into bedlam. Again. Well done us…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Iraq: Baghdad Urges Civilians to Take Up Arms Against Insurgents in Mosul

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Iraq’s embattled government urged the terrified residents of Mosul to set up armed vigilante groups and fight Islamic militants who have taken over the city, the country’s second-largest and in Nineveh province…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

ISIS Threatens to Invade Jordan, ‘Slaughter’ King Abdullah

by Khaled Abu Toameh

Islamist terrorists in Iraq and Syria have begun creeping toward neighboring countries, sources close to the Islamic fundamentalists revealed this week.

The terrorists, who belong to The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS — known as DAESH in Arabic] and are said to be an offshoot of al-Qaeda, are planning to take their jihad to Jordan, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula — after having already captured large parts of Syria and Iraq, the sources said…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Jihadist Iraqi Gains Symbol of U. S. Failure, Says Russia

(AGI) Moscow, June 12 — Russian Foreign Minister Serghei Lavrov has said that recent gains made by jihadists in a number of Iraqi cities is a clear sign of the “total failure” of policies started with the 2003 U.S. led invasion. “Events in Iraq prove the total failure of the adventure in which the United States and Great Britain became involved,” said Lavrov.

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

Turkey: Gov’t Replaces More Than 2,500 Judges and Prosecutors in Latest Mass Purge

The government has replaced more than 2,500 judges and prosecutors, in its latest mass purge in the police and judiciary.

The Turkish government has replaced more than 2,500 judges and prosecutors, in its latest mass purge in the police and judiciary.

A decree replacing 2,224 judicial officers and 293 administrative officers employed in the judicial bodies was released by the 1st Chamber of the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) late June 11. “The 2014 Judicial Justice Summer Decree” included hundreds of chief prosecutors, chiefs of heavy penal courts, judges and prosecutors. It assigned new deputy chief prosecutors to the capital Ankara and Turkey’s largest city Istanbul, while replacing chief prosecutors in a number of provinces around the country, including Balikesir, Bursa, Çanakkale, Elazig, Erzincan, Eskisehir, Hatay, Trabzon and Van.

Both in terms of quantity and quality, the decree is considered as the most serious blow by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government against what it calls the “parallel state.”

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan alleges that the “parallel state” orchestrated the Dec. 17 and the Dec. 25 of 2013 corruption investigations — which ensnared the sons of three former ministers and businesspeople known to be close to the government — in order to unseat him and his government. The AKP has responded with a series of huge counter-reaction of purges and replacements, particularly in the judiciary and the police, where Gülen’s followers are believed to be prominent, as it aimed to contain the damage.

Hours before the release of the latest decree, Teoman Gökçe, member of the 1st Chamber of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), the highest judicial body of the country that has become the center of focus for the government’s moves against the Gülen movement, announced his resignation from membership of the 1st Chamber.

Throughout a process that began after a meeting in January, during which members of the 1st Chamber were replaced upon an initiative by the justice minister, four separate decrees have been released, Gökçe noted in a written statement.

These decrees included assignments that were in violation of the independence of the judiciary, he added.

“I have to express with sadness that with the 2014 Summer Decree, debates on which were finalized June 11, and which will go down in Turkish judicial history as ‘The Decree of Injustice,’ assignments similar to the ones in the decrees following Jan. 16 have been carried out. However, these [June 11] assignments are more unlawful, more unprincipled and more inconsistent [than the earlier ones],” Gökçe said.

“I have received no text concerning the resignation. I heard about it from reports and I don’t know if they [the reports] are true or not,” Bozdag said on June 12, when asked about the resignation and Gökçe’s criticism of the replacements.

June/12/2014

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

Turkey Tough in Banning Alcohol Sales

ISTANBUL, June 12 (Xinhua) — Turkey tightens the alcohol ban with the new regulation of the law through removing of all the outdoor advertisement of alcoholic beverages throughout the country as of June 12.

The time that has been giving to the owners of the cafes, bars, restaurants and shops, which have been selling alcohol, to remove all the outdoor signs, logos and advertisements of alcohol beverages will run out as of 24:00 on Thursday…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Western Reaction Muted as Islamic Militants Sweep Across Iraq

LONDON — The capture of Mosul, arguably the most dramatic coup by jihadist militants since the September 2001 attacks on America, has raised scarcely a whimper in Western capitals…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Kiev Says Three Russian Tanks Entered East Ukraine

Ukraine’s interior minister has said three tanks have crossed the border from Russia into rebel areas of the east and that fighting is under way.

The tanks entered Ukraine along with other armour through a checkpoint controlled by rebels in the Luhansk region, Arsen Avakov said. The army engaged two of them and destroyed part of the column, he said…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Ukraine Accuses Russia of Letting Rebels Bring in Tanks

(Reuters) — Ukraine accused Russia on Thursday of allowing separatist rebels to bring three tanks and other military vehicles across the border into the east of the country to fight the Ukrainian army.

Evidence that Russia is sending in weapons or assisting the rebels militarily would implicate Moscow in the uprising against Kiev’s pro-Western leaders, making a mockery of its denials that it has played a role in weeks of fighting…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Afghan Army Kills 35 Militants, 4 Soldiers Die in Bombings

KABUL, June 12 (Xinhua) — About 35 Taliban militants have been killed in Afghan army operations within day, said the country’s Defense Ministry on Thursday morning.

“Afghan National Army conducted cleanup operations and battled enemies in Takhar, Ghazni, Kandahar and Zabul provinces within the past 24 hours, killing 35 militants,” the ministry said in a statement. Up to 21 militants were wounded and two Taliban who tried to plant roadside bombs were arrested during the above raids, the statement added.

Four army soldiers lost their lives in separate roadside bombings over the same period of time, according to the statement…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

India: 16-Year-Old Found Hanging From Tree in Moradabad, Family Alleges Rape

In yet another brutality similar to that of the Badaun rape and murder, the body of a 16-year-old girl has been found hanging from a tree in Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh. Her family has come forward with allegations that she was raped and murdered…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Pakistan: Karachi Airport: Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan Claims Attack

Uzbek militants fighting with the Pakistani Taliban say they carried out Sunday’s deadly assault on Karachi’s international airport.

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan posted photos of 10 men in black turbans holding AK-47s who had sought revenge for military air strikes…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Second Drone Strike in Hours Hits Pakistani Militant Hideout

Karachi, Pakistan (CNN) — A suspected U.S. drone strike killed 10 militants early Thursday in Pakistani tribal areas, local intelligence officials said.

A high-level commander with the Haqqani network, Haji Gul, was among those killed in the latest drone strike in North Waziristan Agency…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Enel Signs Two Deals With Chinese Energy Companies

MOUs reached as Renzi continues trade mission to China

(See related) (ANSA) — Beijing, June 11 — Italian electricity giant Enel energy signed two deals Wednesday with leading Chinese energy companies aimed at continuing cooperation and development during a visit to China by Premier Matteo Renzi.

Enel, one of Italy’s biggest energy producers with an international reach, signed the memo of understanding with China Huaneng Group and the State-owned China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) following a business forum in Beijing.

Renzi is on an Asian trade mission that began in Vietnam and includes Kazakhstan.

Francesco Starace, chief executive officer of Rome-based Enel, signed the MOU that the company says will build on joint work that began in 2009 in the field of carbon capture and storage.

A second MOU signed by Starace with the CNNC involves information-sharing and cooperation on development, construction, operation and maintenance of nuclear power plants.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Latvia Allows Mongolia to Use Sea Ports for Export

ULAN BATOR, June 12 (Xinhua) — Visiting Latvian President Andris Berzins said here Thursday that Mongolia can use Latvian sea ports to export its products to any European country.

At a meeting with Mongolian Prime Minister Altankhuyag Norov, Berzins said there are wide possibilities for the two countries to work together in economic areas, especially in the transportation and logistics sector…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Britain Ups Nigeria Aid Against Boko Haram

Military to be trained in counter-insurgency tactics

(ANSA) — Rome, June 12 — Britain is raising its educational and military aid to Nigeria in a bid to stem the depredations of Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

In the latest promise of Western help since Boko Haram abducted some 200 schoolgirls in April, Foreign Secretary William Hague said Thursday the UK will increase both kinds of aid to help Nigeria tackle Boko Haram.

The Nigerian army will receive extra training, especially in counter-insurgency tactics, and a million more children will be schooled.

The Islamist group, which has waged an increasingly bloody insurgency since 2009 in an attempt to create an Islamic state, has stepped up its attacks since the mass abduction and thousands have died.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Somali Minister Tells British Somalis: Forget the Danger, Come Back and Help Rebuild

Life in comfortable Britain is “boring” compared to challenges of repairing Somalia’s broken state, says foreign minister

Somalis who have claimed refuge in Britain should abandon comfortable lives in the “boring” West and return to rebuild their war-torn homeland, the country’s foreign minister has said.

In an interview in London with The Daily Telegraph, Abdurrahman Dualeh Beileh urged Britain’s large Somali diaspora to come home even if it meant it a more dangerous life than they were used to…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Italian Government Defends Sea Rescues of Migrants

‘We are proud of the mission, 80% of those rescued are refugees’

(ANSA) — Rome, June 12 — Italy is “proud” of its sea search-and-rescue operation for migrants and has no plans to stop these, cabinet Undersecretary Graziano Delrio said Thursday.

“We are proud of Mare Nostrum (our sea), which has rescued 39,000 people so far,” Delrio told the Senate.

That has almost exceeded the total number of migrants for all of 2013.

“I would like to point out that 80% of them have the prerequisites to be considered asylum seekers, not illegal immigrants”, Delrio added.

He was responding to a Senate motion calling for an exit strategy from Mare Nostrum, which they say “in no way constitutes a definitive solution” to the migrant problem.

The government has come under fire over the rescue operation, which some opposition parties say is encouraging human traffickers to increase illegal crossings.

Delrio said the government of Premier Matteo Renzi is working to get greater support for the rescue missions as well as subsequent care of migrants once they arrive in Italy, often the first port for migrants heading for other parts of Europe.

“We are absolutely in agreement with many elements contained in the motions, on the need to improve and go beyond Mare Nostrum,” said Delrio.

“We must make it a fully European effort, and no longer just an emergency mission”, Delrio added.

Mare Nostrum was established last October, after almost 400 people drowned in two migrant boat shipwrecks off the coast of Lampedusa. The Italian government has struggled to house and care for the tens of thousands of migrants who are arriving, and agencies including the United Nations have said that Monday that Italy must be given more help to cope.

Renzi has accused the European Union of looking the other way and not doing enough to help Italy after dozens of people were killed in two new migrant disasters in May.

“Europe explains everything about how to catch swordfish, but it turns its head when we go to rescue people in trouble,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Rand Paul Throws Weight Behind Immigration Reform Effort

Makes calls with Grover Norquist seeking conservative support

Sen. Rand Paul on Wednesday waded deeper into an issue that has proved perilous to some of his GOP colleagues, throwing his political weight behind an establishment lobby effort to get Congress to reform the country’s immigration system this year.

Mr. Paul, a libertarian-leaning Republican from Kentucky and possible 2016 presidential hopeful, participated in a telephone conference call to conservative and business leaders in favor of immigration reform in an effort brokered by anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, The Washington Times has learned.

The business group, the Partnership for a New American Economy, immediately blasted an email Wednesday evening to supporters crowing that Mr. Paul had formally joined its pro-reform effort.

           — Hat tip: Charlie Marteau [Return to headlines]
 

UK: At Least 1.1m Pupils Speak English as a Second Language

Figures from the Department for Education show that a record 1.1 million pupils now speak English as a second language, with the proportion exceeding three-quarters in parts of east London

The number of schoolchildren speaking English as a second language has soared by a third in just five years amid fresh concerns that immigration may be putting a strain on the education system…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: Constitutional Court Rejects Law on Sex-Change Marriage

Says State must recognize marriage even when gender changes

(ANSA) — Rome, June 12 — The Italian law that annuls a marriage when one of the partners changes gender cannot stand because it ignores the possibility the couple may choose to remain together, the Constitutional Court has ruled.

The ruling late Wednesday, striking down the Italian law, could open the door to legalizing civil unions, some observers say.

The Constitutional Court on Tuesday began hearing the case of a woman, Alessandra Bernaroli, who saw her nine-year marriage annulled after undergoing male-to-female sex-change procedures five years ago.

Italy’s 15 Constitutional Court judges overturned the initial marriage annulment made by a Bologna court as well as a subsequent appeal that upheld the initial ruling against Bernaroli, a 43-year-old bank employee.

“I think this is the only surgical intervention that causes the annulment of marriage,” Bernaroli said earlier this week of the sex-change operation which under Italian law leads to the automatic suspension of the civil effects of marriage.

Bernaroli, then named Alessandro, married in a religious ceremony in 2005, four years before undergoing surgery in Thailand to become a woman.

She noted that “the church has never annulled our marriage”.

The Constitutional Court said it was aiming to balance “the State’s interest in not changing the model of heterosexual marriage…and the interest of the couple where one of the two components changes sex”.

It also suggested lawmakers consider establishing “an alternative form” of marriage, triggering suggestions that civil unions be recognized in law.

Lawyer Giovanni Genoa, representing a group advocating for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, said that while civil unions are not yet recognized in Italy, this ruling will help lead to change.

Added Bernaroli: “Meanwhile, we have won and it is not a trivial matter”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

6 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 6/12/2014

    • Maybe “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”, at least temporarily (remember Stalin?)

      But, it can go very wrong (remember the CIA & the Taliban?) I’d hate to be a politician now, even Obama.

      • The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (Isis) has become the richest terror group ever after looting 500 billion Iraqi dinars – the equivalent of $429m (£256m) – from Mosul’s central bank, according to the regional governor.

        An Isis Armour & Bullion payday incursion that may have been an enemy of my enemy friendly nudge to break the deadlock in Syria.

  1. The debacle in Iraq reminds me of Vietnam in 1975, the same confident assurances followed by a squalid collapse.

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