Gates of Vienna News Feed 3/15/2013

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is said to have survived an assassination attempt, which possibly occurred late last year. The attempt on his life was unusual in that occurred in downtown Pyongyang, and not while the Chubby Leader was visiting the provinces. The exact identity of the would-be assassins is not known, but the plot is thought to have involved a power struggle within the military.

In other news, Britain and France are lobbying for lifting the EU embargo on arms to the Syrian rebels. Prime Minister David Cameron has threatened to break the embargo unilaterally if Brussels does not accede to his request.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, Jerry Gordon, JP, Lurker from Tulsa, Paul Green, TV, 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
» Athens Airport Lowers Fees to Draw More Flights
» EU Must Learn From Italy’s Election, Says Hollande
» European Union: The Problem With Germany
» Italian Parliamentarians Face Backlash as Grillo’s Force Arrives
» Chicago Siblings, Cicero Man Face Fed Fraud Counts
» Daniel Pipes: Denying Islam’s Role in Terror: Explaining the Denial
» Deceit. The Lies That Enslave a Nation
» Donors to Obama ‘Non-Profit’ Pay $50,000 for Night of Access
» Facing Religious Intolerance: Islamophobia in the 21st Century
» Gun Control Mirroring Health Care Reform
» U.S. To Bolster Missile Defense to Deter Attack by North Korea
Europe and the EU
» Denmark: Arsonists Terrorising Albertslund
» Green Facism: Beppe Grillo is the Most Dangerous Man in Europe
» Islam in Europe: Bat Ye’or Interview
» Italy: Grillo Raps Napolitano for Not Slamming PDL Anti-Judge Demo
» Italy: Berlusconi’s PDL Party Weighs New Protest at Milan Court
» Italy: Soccer: Sheikh Al Qaddumi Probed Over Failed Roma Investment
» Italy: Bari Prosecutor Challenges Puglia Governor’s Acquittal
» Italy: Turin Priest Convicted of Stealing 1.5 Mn in Offerings
» Italy: Bridgestone Ready to Negotiate on Bari Plant Closure
» Jesse Norman Visits EUtopia (And Doesn’t Like What He Finds)
» Over One Third Italians Say Bersani Should Take a Step Back
» Pope Francis — The Challenges. Europe Risks Secularization
» The EU’s Insidious War on the Nation State Must be Halted
» UK: Bullfinch Trial Day 34: ‘Claims Made Up by Troubled Girls’
» UK: Concern Over Ed Miliband’s Zionist Credentials
» UK: City Mosque Opens Its Doors to Raise Awareness
» UK: Gavin Barwell MP: Seven Ways of Engaging Ethnic Minority Voters
» UK: iERA Investigates Complaints About Seating Arrangements at the Debate, “Islam or Atheism: Which Makes More Sense?”
» UK: Lord Ahmed Controversy: If a Labour Politician Said Something Rude About Muslims Instead of Jews, They’d be Drummed Out Immediately
Mediterranean Union
» French Ambassador in Rome Says UFM Still Useful
North Africa
» Libya: EU: Concerns About Detainees Charged of ‘Proselytism’
» Libya: Benghazi: The Coptic Church of St. Mark is Torched
» Muslim Brotherhood Statement Denouncing UN Women Declaration for Violating Sharia Principles
» Pope: Al Azhar Dispute With Ratzinger, Hopes for New Era
» Tunisia: EU: New Aid for Justice and Against Gender Violence
Israel and the Palestinians
» Israel Has Formed a New Government to Greet President Obama
Middle East
» British Radicals ‘Are Flocking to Syria’
» French, Britain Push EU Nations to Lift Syria Arms Embargo
» Syria: Arm Rebels or We Will, Cameron to Tell EU
» Syria: Merkel: Reservations Over Lifting Arms Embargo
» Foreign Banks Banned From Opening Branches in Russia
South Asia
» Italians Advised to be ‘Prudent’ In India Amid Marines Row
» Italian Ambassador ‘Held Hostage’ By India, Says Union
» Italy Marines Row With India Intensifies
Far East
» North Korea’s Kim Jong-un ‘Was Target of Assassination Attempt’
» Can America Withstand Mass Immigration That Creates Mass Illiteracy?
Culture Wars
» Leftist Prayers for a Red Pope Dashed
» Marxism in Education — The Infiltration of Our School Systems by the Common Core Standards
» Netherlands: Lesbian Couple Go Into Hiding With Turkish Foster Child
» Sicilian Priest Disavows Regional Governor Over Pope

Athens Airport Lowers Fees to Draw More Flights

Aegean Airlines to start eight new international services

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MARCH 15 — Athens International Airport (AIA) is making an effort to increase traffic by lowering its charges — currently the highest in Europe — and hosting more flights by the country’s biggest carrier, Aegean Airlines, as well as welcoming the scheduled service of Ukraine’s national carrier. In a joint press conference with Aegean on Thursday, as GreekReporter writes, AIA revealed that it is offering incentives to companies which opt to increase their services to and from Athens this summer. It is offering discounts of up to 100% in landing fees, starting from 10% for airlines that do not reduce their services. Other incentives concern support to companies offering cheaper fares. AIA estimates that the average drop in fees will amount to 20-30%. The airport’s aim is to rekindle the industry’s interest in the country’s main terminal as traffic has declined considerably over the last few years.

Aegean announced the start of eight new international services from Athens, taking its total to 28 from Eleftherios Venizelos.

The new destinations are Manchester, Berlin, Geneva, Lyon, Kiev, Warsaw, Saint Petersburg and Baku.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

EU Must Learn From Italy’s Election, Says Hollande

Danger of Euro ‘rejection’ if consolidation too fast

(ANSA) — Brussels, March 15 — French President Francois Hollande said at the European Union summit on Friday that the bloc had to learn the lesson from Italy’s post-election impasse and be more flexible with its demands for fiscal consolidation.

Outgoing Premier Mario Monti sent a letter to European leaders at the summit saying that Italy should be able to use “every possible ulterior margin” within the European Stability Pact to be able to boost growth and employment.

Monti’s emergency administration implemented austerity measures to comply with European budget commitments but these policies deepened Italy’s recession and caused unemployment to rise above 11%.

The approach seemed to be rejected by Italian voters in last month’s election.

Pier Luigi Bersani’s centre-left alliance came first in the elections, but failed to win a working majority in the Senate because of votes pulled in by three-time premier Silvio Berlusconi’s centre right and Beppe Grillo’s anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S). Both Berlusconi and comedian-turned-politician Grillo were accused of using Euroskeptic, populist rhetoric in the election campaign.

Monti’s reform platform backed by centrist parties, meanwhile, did less well than expected.

“When consolidation takes place too fast, the risk is that Europe gets rejected,” Hollande said Friday when asked about Monti’s letter. “This is the lesson the absolutely must be learned”.

Monti did not attend that second day of what is almost certainly his last EU summit as premier because he returned to Rome for the opening sessions of the new term of parliament.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

European Union: The Problem With Germany

New Statesman, 15 March 2013

“A spectre is once again haunting Europe — the spectre of German power,” writes historian Brendan Simms in The New Statesman’s cover story, dedicated to “The German problem”. The weekly outlines how the last five years have witnessed a “remarkable increase” in German influence, while Berlin has simultaneously fared well during the economic crisis and stopped the European Central Bank (ECB) from embarking —…

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

Italian Parliamentarians Face Backlash as Grillo’s Force Arrives

Rome, 15 March (AK/BloombergI) — Lawmakers from Italy’s main established parties, who united last year to impose austerity on taxpayers, are bracing for a fight over their own privileges as the upstart movement led by Beppe Grillo enters parliament and vies for key roles.

Up for grabs as the legislature convenes today are the speakerships of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies, followed by appointments to budget committees and commission chairmanships. The posts could give Grillo’s Five Star Movement, which took a quarter of the votes in elections last month, enough leverage over the bodies’ more than 2 billion euros ($2.6 billion) in annual operating expenses.

“The costs could be cut in half,” said Elio Lannutti, a consumer advocate, ex-senator and a friend of Grillo’s.

“If they keep these people out, the revolution is just going to get bigger.”

Five Star was swept into the legislature with a mandate to cut taxes, curb public spending and shove career politicians from power. The party’s power is still up in the air, as no political force emerged from the Feb. 24-25 election with a majority. It’s now up to President Giorgio Napolitano to nominate a figure to form a government.

Still, Five Star has already used its electoral gains to push its version of an austerity agenda.

Lawmakers make about 20,000 euros a month in salary and benefits, including train and air travel. Yesterday, Grillo called on Pier Luigi Bersani, head of the largest parliamentary force, to persuade his members to give up more than half of their pay.

Monthly salaries, at about 11,000 euros, should be reduced to 5,000 euros, Grillo said. There are 945 elected seats in the Senate and Chamber. That compares to 635 in the US Congress.

‘The Caste’

Dubbed “The Caste” after a 2007 book by Sergio Rizzo and Gian Antonio Stella, career lawmakers suffered in polls last year as Prime Minister Mario Monti implemented tax increases with about 80 percent of parliament behind him. Corruption scandals at the party founded by Silvio Berlusconi, the billionaire and three-time ex-premier, also contributed to an erosion of public esteem and fueled Grillo’s rise.

The 162 Five Star representatives range from lawyers and scientists to unemployed activists. They have said they will shun the Italian parliamentarian’s title of “Honorable” and refuse privileges typically reserved for lawmakers and unavailable to citizens at large.

They will run into at least one such perk today in the Chamber, where lawmakers relax with cigarettes in leather armchairs, even though smoking was banned 10 years ago in workplaces, public buildings, restaurants and bars.

Covering Costs

Napolitano is set to begin consultations next week with the speakers and heads of the parties in both houses to pick a premier capable of mustering a majority of parliament. The process of forming a new government may be delayed as talks among the rival parties stall. Bersani told his allies he would seek to scuttle the speakership votes because progress toward a coalition hasn’t been made.

Along with internal budget commissioners, the speakers also oversee the more than 70 million euros that get handed out annually to individual party delegations to cover the costs of their staffs and incidentals.

The particulars of those expenses are kept secret from the public and the rank-and-file lawmakers, according to Lannutti, who said he petitioned unsuccessfully for the information when he was a senator. If Five Star won a speakership or a spot as a budget commissioner they might be in a position to show the public how that money is spent, he said.

‘Tuna Can’

Grillo, an ex-comic, drew cheers during the election campaign by saying at rallies that his lawmakers would “open parliament like a can of tuna” by revealing backroom discussions and detailing expenses that haven’t been published.

Grillo, 64, wasn’t a candidate himself and won’t join his deputies in parliament because he says he isn’t fit to serve due to a manslaughter conviction in the 1980s. He was behind the wheel in a one-car accident that killed two friends and their son.

Lannutti’s estimate that parliament’s expenses could be cut in half was rejected by former colleague Lamberto Dini, the 82- year-old former prime minister whose last day in the Senate was yesterday. Expenses are reasonable, he said, advising Five Star to start by learning how parliament works.

“It won’t be easy to manage this parliament,” said Dini in an interview. “I have nothing against young lawmakers in principle, but these new members of parliament need to be humble and then they will be able to be protagonists.”

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

Chicago Siblings, Cicero Man Face Fed Fraud Counts

Two Gary, Ind., food marts let people use their food stamps like a normal debit card, giving them cash back and cigarettes in exchange.

In return, they illegally redeemed those food stamps to the federal government for more than $500,000, according to two federal indictments filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court in Hammond.

Now Ola Mohammad, 31, and her brother Abdkdar Mohammad, 29, both of Chicago, face one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and three counts of wire fraud.

Kaled Mohammad, 27, of Cicero, Ill., faces two counts of wire fraud in a separate but similar case. It was unclear Friday if he is related to Ola and Abdkdar Mohammad.

Court records say Ola Mohammad used her store, Moses Foods, at 1330 Broadway, to allow customers to purchase cigarettes and receive money back through their food stamps.

For instance, on Nov. 22, one customer bought a bag of Cheetos, a 2-liter bottle soda and a pack of cigarettes, and received $40 back in cash, all paid for from a food stamps card. The siblings redeemed the food stamps from the federal government for $4,735,850 through the illegal scheme, according to the indictment.

The money was sent to a bank account that both Ola Mohammad and her father could access, then was wired outside the country.

Although Ola Mohammad is the sole owner of the business, her brother assisted her and works there as a cashier. The indictment claims the scheme lasted from February 2010 to June.

Abdkdar was arrested Thursday and ordered held without bond pending a detention hearing and arraignment set for Monday afternoon. Court records did not show if Ola Mohammad has been arrested.

In a separate case, an indictment claims Kaled Mohammad conducted a similar but smaller scheme at his store, Kay Mart, at 4845 Broadway.

As with Moses Mart, Kaled Mohammad allowed customers to use their food stamp card to purchase cigarettes and receive cash back. The indictment claims he redeemed those food stamps from the federal government for about $60,000.

Kaled Mohammad was also arrested Monday and ordered held without bond pending a detention hearing and arraignment set for Monday afternoon.

           — Hat tip: Paul Green [Return to headlines]

Daniel Pipes: Denying Islam’s Role in Terror: Explaining the Denial

Note to the reader: This is the first article in a three-part survey of “Denying Islam’s Role in Terror.” The other two parts, by Teri Blumenfeld and David Rusin (both not yet posted), look at the specific phenomenon of denial in the FBI and the U.S. military, respectively.

Over three years after Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan’s massacre at Ft. Hood, Texas, in November 2009, the classification of his crime remains in dispute. In its wisdom, the Department of Defense, supported by law enforcement, politicians, journalists, and academics, deems the killing of thirteen and wounding of forty-three to be “workplace violence.” For example, the 86-page study on preventing a repeat episode, Protecting the Force: Lessons from Fort Hood, mentions “workplace violence” sixteen times.[1]

Indeed, were the subject not morbid, one could be amused by the disagreement over what exactly caused the major to erupt. Speculations included “racism” against him, “harassment he had received as a Muslim,” his “sense of not belonging,” “mental problems,” “emotional problems,” “an inordinate amount of stress,” the “worst nightmare” of his being deployed to Afghanistan, or something fancifully called “pre-traumatic stress disorder.” One newspaper headline, “Mindset of Rogue Major a Mystery,” sums up this bogus state of confusion.[2]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Deceit. The Lies That Enslave a Nation

America is ruled today by a host of pathological liars. They are professional liars. It’s what they do. Never underestimate these people for they are smart. They have to be.

There is an article entitled: “Traits Of A Habitual Liar” We recommend you read it.[url]

Once you have read the article you will, we expect, find that you are better able to understand the way the Obama Administration works.

As a bit of a teaser here is one of the “Characteristics Of Habitual Liars” found in the article:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Donors to Obama ‘Non-Profit’ Pay $50,000 for Night of Access

Organizing for Action: We are not a partisan organization, We are here to move this shared progressive agenda forward.

Organizing for Action (OFA), Barack Obama’s former campaign apparatus reincarnated as a nonprofit advocacy group, initiated a two-day “founders summit” on Wednesday at the St. Regis hotel, located two blocks from the White House. The group characterizes themselves as a grassroots organization, driven from the bottom up. “This is going to be absolutely local,” said OFA chairman and former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina. “Members will decide what issues in their community they most care about.” OFA has come under criticism for effectively selling access to the president, who addressed OFA attendees at a dinner Wednesday — one that cost $50,000 per person to attend…

Even the reliably leftist USA Today is skeptical regarding such claims. “OFA was created in January by Obama’s top campaign lieutenants,” the paper notes. “It looks for all the world like an extension of the White House. It is collecting money and pushing Obama’s agenda, two things that sound awfully political, while masquerading as a ‘social welfare’ organization under the tax code.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Facing Religious Intolerance: Islamophobia in the 21st Century

by Nathan C. Lean

In my remarks this evening, which will be somewhat brief, I want to provide an overview of my new book, The Islamophobia Industry, and in doing that, propose that we think about the phenomenon of Islamophobia as not only an organic social disease that grips our society, where, for instance, the general public reacts to episodes of violence committed by Muslim extremists by stereotyping ALL Muslims BUT ALSO think about it as a product — something that is manufactured, marketed, sold, and consumed…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Gun Control Mirroring Health Care Reform

It is time to commit one way or the other: capitulation to a dysfunctional, deviant, totalitarian America, or a life-or-death fight for our liberty.

The Obama administration’s war against the Second Amendment rages on, most notably in Colorado (the state in which I happen to live). As I write this, the Senate’s resident putrid harridan Dianne Feinstein and Senate Democrats are trying to pass a package of national firearms control laws similar to the draconian measures recently passed in Colorado.

As AWR Hawkins pointed out in his Dec. 30, 2012 column for Breitbart, it is President Obama’s intention that the city of Chicago serve as the “blueprint for national gun laws.” In other words (Hawkins’), “When President Obama appeared on Meet the Press (NBC News) on Dec. 30, he made it clear that the same gun laws that have made Chicago a criminal’s paradise are going to be pushed on the entire country during 2013.”

I would urge everyone with a dog in the gun control fight to watch that segment of Meet the Press, which is available on numerous online venues. It is very telling.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

U.S. To Bolster Missile Defense to Deter Attack by North Korea

The United States will deploy additional ballistic-missile interceptors along the Pacific Coast to increase the Pentagon’s ability to blunt a potential attack from North Korea, in a clear response to recent tests of nuclear weapons technology and long-range missiles by the North.

The new deployment will increase the number of ground-based interceptors to 44 from the 30 already based in California and Alaska. While the limited missile-defense system does not offer a 100-percent guarantee of knocking down a North Korean attack, the weapons send a signal of credible deterrence to the North’s limited intercontinental ballistic missile arsenal.

[Return to headlines]

Denmark: Arsonists Terrorising Albertslund

Police and council are powerless to stop a wave of arson attacks that started last September. Albertslund Council has now asked the community for help identifying the culprits

The western Copenhagen suburb of Albertslund suffered its 99th arson attack in six months when the recently-closed youth centre Frihjulet was burned to the ground Tuesday night.

That fire follows arson attacks on two containers and a shed in the past week and has police and the council under pressure to identify the culprits and bring the wave of fires to an end.

“Since 21 September 2012, we have suffered 99 fires in Albertslund,” Mikael Storgaard, deputy police inspector of Albertslund’s local police force, told Politiken newspaper. “All sorts of objects have been set on fire including containers, cars, outhouses and now the youth house. We think the 99 fires are connected and think that there is a group of people responsible for all of them.”

A 19-year-old was arrested and interviewed by Copenhagen Vestegn Police yesterday. He was released but remains charged with arson.

Despite the one arrest, the council fears that the arson attacks will continue until the culprits are identified and apprehended.

“Frihjulet has been attacked three times and now they succeeded in burning it down,” Mikkel Nielsen, head of crime prevention at Albertslund Council, told Politiken. “Since (Frihjulet) was closed in January, we have been in constant dialogue with our youth. We have talked about how it would operate if it opened again because it used to have a really bad atmosphere.”

Nielsen added that the police and council have been holding meetings with young people belonging to groups that are suspected of being responsible for the arson attacks, as well as their parents.

Despite these efforts, the arson attack against the youth centre went ahead.

“Albertslund needs to step up and help the police end this. We don’t have a magic bullet, and have since September tried to fight this without success. Now we need to stand together to solve it.”

He added: “We need to involve the entire local community. We can’t solve it unless Albertslund helps,” Nielsen said. “Help us, we’ve run out of ideas.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Green Facism: Beppe Grillo is the Most Dangerous Man in Europe

A Commentary by Jan Fleischhauer

Beppe Grillo, leader of the populist Five Star Movement in Italy, prides himself on his ridicule of the parliamentary system. Yet while his anti-establishment rhetoric sounds appealing, at heart it’s actually anti-democratic. And very similar to that of an infamous Italian from the past.

The man whom German center-left leader Peer Steinbrück called a “clown” does have entertainment value, that much we can agree on. Italy and the euro? “De facto, Italy is already out of the euro zone.” Rome and the parliamentary system? “I give all the parties six more months, then it’s over here.” And these quotes are only the highlights from a recent interview with Beppe Grillo published by the German business daily Handeslblatt. When it comes to straight talking, even Steinbrück, reknowned for his lack of a filter, is surpassed by Grillo.

Steinbrück got a fair amount of flack for his clown comparison. If he had used the term to describe only Berlusconi, everyone would have simply nodded in agreement. But Grillo? The leader of the streets and hero of the youth, whose third-placed Five Star Movement demonstrated the degree to which Merkel’s austerity diktat is pushing Italy to its limits? The advocate for shorter terms of office and a cleaner way of doing politics? Even within the ranks of Steinbrück’s Social Democrats (SPD), people were calling for their candidate to be put in his place…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Islam in Europe: Bat Ye’or Interview

A hat tip to Imre H. Israel Flash has published this important interview with Bat Ye’or covering a wide range of topics. As usual our chavera is prescient about the darkening developments in Eurabia. Ever the Cassandra she warns about the intensified isolation of Israel by EU members and the islamophiliac bureaucracy. prodded by increasing demands for self -governing Muslim Communities engaged in perfecting compliance with Sharia and Blasphemy Codes while engaged in blatant Islamic anti-Semitic actions. She examines the pressures by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on the EU to comply with totalitarian Islamic doctrine under Sharia. Positions that she has ably articulated in her book Europe, Globalization, and the Coming of the Universal Caliphate that Dr. Richard L. Rubenstein in Bat Ye’or and the Coming Universal Caliphate and we in Worldwide Caliphate Rising! reviewed in the NER , as well as our interview with her published in The West Speaks.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

Italy: Grillo Raps Napolitano for Not Slamming PDL Anti-Judge Demo

M5S leader calls PdL Milan protest exceptionally ‘subversive’

(ANSA) — Rome, March 13 — Beppe Grillo knocked Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Wednesday for not coming out more forcefully against parliamentarians from Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party who demonstrated inside Milan’s main courthouse on Monday.

PdL parliamentarians, led by party secretary Angelino Alfano, railed against a series of criminal proceedings against Berlusconi, accusing judges of politically motivated persecution and threatening to boycott the opening session of parliament. “(It’s a) poor country where a president of the republic, instead of going on prime-time television to condemn a subversive act of exceptional magnitude like the sad parade of parliamentarians in the court, receives Alfano (ex-justice minister) at the Quirinale the day after,” wrote the leader of the populist and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) in his blog, making reference to Alfano’s Tuesday visit to the Italian president’s official residence. Napolitano on Tuesday attempted to bring some calm back to the country’s political scene by conducting separate talks with Alfano and later with members of the Italian judges’ self-regulatory body. Napolitano then released a note in which he warned against “destabilising tensions” which could harm Italy’s democracy.

Responding to criticisms of Italy’s judiciary by PdL leaders, Napolitano said that the idea of judicial maneuvers aimed at preventing Berlusconi from participating in the coming institutional appointments were an “aberrant hypothesis”.

The president, however, also warned the judges to not overreach their mandates.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi’s PDL Party Weighs New Protest at Milan Court

Demo during Mediaset hearing being considered by members

(ANSA) — Rome, March 14 — Senior figures in Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party weighed on Thursday whether to stage a new protest at the Milan courthouse this Saturday after a demonstration last Monday sent shock-waves across the Italian political scene.

On Monday, PdL parliamentarians accused the judiciary of persecuting Berlusconi and threatened to boycott the first session of parliament after a judge presiding over the ‘Ruby’ trial sent three doctors to check whether Berlusconi, who is in hospital, really was unfit to attend the scheduled trial hearing that day.

The doctors confirmed Berlusconi’s illness, and the hearings were postponed in the trial for allegedly paying for sex with an underage prostitute, a Moroccan nightclub dancer whose stage name was “Ruby Heart-stealer”, and for alleged abuse of office when Berlusconi made a phone call to pressure police when she was detained on an unrelated theft allegation.

The PdL was also irate that Berlusconi had received an order for immediate judgment in Naples due to allegations related to graft.

The Naples prosecutor alleges that Berlusconi was involved in paying Senator Sergio De Gregorio three million euros to switch sides from centre-left to centre-right six years ago, a move that was instrumental to the collapse of ex-premier Romano Prodi’s centre-left majority in 2007.

After the Monday demonstration, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano met on Tuesday with PdL Secretary Angelino Alfano and then with the Supreme Council of Magistrates. Napolitano then issued a note calling the Monday protest “unprecedented”.

On Wednesday, Napolitano suffered attacks in the media and by Beppe Grillo, leader of the 5-Star Movement, for being overly mild.

The PdL’s new public demonstration would be made to coincide with a scheduled hearing in Berlusconi’s Mediaset trial, in which Berlusconi is appealing a four-year conviction for tax fraud in the purchase of broadcasting rights by his Mediaset group.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Soccer: Sheikh Al Qaddumi Probed Over Failed Roma Investment

Deadline for deal to become effective passed Thursday

(ANSA) — Rome, March 15 — A wealthy Middle Eastern investor, Sheikh Adnan Adel Aref al Qaddumi, has been put under investigation by Rome prosecutors after his bid to take up a stake in Serie A side AS Roma failed, judicial sources said Friday.

Last month the three-time Italian champions issued a statement saying they had reached a preliminary deal with the sheikh, who is reportedly from Jordon although mystery surrounds his origins, to enter the club’s ownership group.

But on Thursday Roma said a deadline had passed without al Qaddumi coming up with the funds needed to invest in the club.

Media reports had said al Qaddumi was poised to invest 100 million euros.

This contributed to the club’s share price soaring before it came back down when it became clear the deal was running into trouble.

The sheikh is being probed for market rigging.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Bari Prosecutor Challenges Puglia Governor’s Acquittal

Probe into friendship between judge and governor’s sister

(ANSA) — Bari, March 15 — A prosecutor in the southern Italian city Bari challenged the recent acquittal of Puglia Governor Nichi Vendola, and ex-health board chief, Lea Cosentino, on abuse of office charges, local newspapers reported on Friday.

Vendola was cleared in late October, after prosecutors had requested a 20-month prison sentence for him for the allegedly unlawfully appointment of a local chief of surgeons, Paolo Sardelli, at Bari’s San Paolo hospital in 2010.

The acquittal stirred controversy when two prosecutors working on the probe, Francesco Bretone and Desire’ Digeronimo, filed a complaint concerning an alleged friendship between the governor’s sister, Patrizia Vendola, and the judge who had issued the acquittal.

Lea Cosentino, the former head of the health board in Bari whom Vendola fired in 2010 after she was placed under house arrest during a graft investigation, was also acquitted of abuse of office.

Vendola had said the case against him was based solely on testimony from Cosentino.

“She is accusing me due to her strong resentment,” Vendola said in October.

Vendola is leader of the leftwing Left Ecology Freedom (SEL) party, and ran in the Italian parliamentary elections with in an alliance wuth Pier Luigi Bersani, the leader of the main centre-left Democratic Party (PD).

The centre-left coalition narrowly won the largest percentage of the national vote in late February, but with barely 1% more than the centre-right, and an impressive 25% protest vote for the populist anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, rule over the Italian parliament remains deadlocked.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Turin Priest Convicted of Stealing 1.5 Mn in Offerings

2-year term for putting flock’s money in pension funds, property

(ANSA) — Turin, March 13 — A parish priest in Turin was convicted Wednesday of stealing 1.5 million euros over 15 years from offerings given by the faithful in church.

Father Giovanni Ballesio received a two-year jail term for misappropriation.

Prosecutors said he invested the money placed on offering plates and in boxes in financial operations, pension funds, property and a company which has since been dissolved.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Bridgestone Ready to Negotiate on Bari Plant Closure

Shutdown no longer ‘irrevocable’ say Vendola and Passera

(ANSA) — Rome, March 14 — Tyre-maker Bridgestone is ready to negotiate on the planed closure of its plant in Bari, the governor of the southeastern Puglia region, Nichi Vendola, said Thursday.

Vendola and Industry Minister Corrado Passera said the closure was no longer “irrevocable” for the firm.

Local officials and unions hailed the news. On March 4 Bridgestone Europe announced plans Monday to close the Bari factory next year, throwing 950 people out of work.

The plant, making car tyres in the Modugno suburb of Bari, would be shut down no later than the first half of next year, the company said.

The Bari plant is one of eight in Europe owned by Bridgestone.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Jesse Norman Visits EUtopia (And Doesn’t Like What He Finds)

by Paul Goodman

I’ve just returned from an intellectual romp of an evening with Jesse Norman who, courtesy of Localis, gave a lecture entitled t”he Road to EUtopia: Britain and the EU after the Bloomberg Speech”. The spine of his talk was set out in this morning’s Daily Telegraph, but its detail dismissed the EU with a kind of courtly scorn. “The EU has developed in a way that lacks legitimacy in at least ten different senses,” he told his audience, before berating the Union as “an elite project, with a minimum of democratic involvement”; labelling the European Parliament as “the EU’s representative to the voters, not the other way round, as yesterday’s events showed”; describing the court as “ increasingly part of the executive, contrary to a proper separation of powers”, and pointing out that “the EU’s language and communications are largely unintelligible to normal citizens”. Welcome to Norman’s EUtopia…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Over One Third Italians Say Bersani Should Take a Step Back

More than half centre-left supporters back alliance with M5S

(ANSA) — Rome, March 15 — Just over one third of Italians believe centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani should take a step back to allow the formation of a new government after February general elections left no party or coalition with a clear majority, an opinion poll said Friday. Instead 28% of Italians think the Democratic Party (PD) secretary should pursue an alliance with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) of comedian Beppe Grillo, according to the Trieste-based pollster SWG.

This figure rises to 66% among centre-left voters. So far attempts by the PD to reach a government agreement with M5S have proved elusive. Some 13% of Italians support an alliance between PD and the centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi. The same percentage instead sees new elections as the only answer to the present deadlock.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Pope Francis — The Challenges. Europe Risks Secularization

Marriage, euthanisia & abortion: hot potatoes for the Church

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, MARCH 14 — As he knuckles down to his first day in business Pope Francis is expected to find solutions to a growing ‘secularization’ in Europe brought about by a combination of crippling economic crisis and what Pope Benedict XVI dubbed “fatigue and tedium of belief”.

Top of the hot potatoes on Pope Francis’s to-do list are a tumbling demographic and a crisis of family, as well as the threat of fundamentalism and a lack of solidarity towards poverty and unemployment, particularly in the Mediterranean south. On all fronts the Church will be appealing to the hearts and minds of the young and disenchanted who for months have taken to the streets across Europe to protest at what they see as a bleak and uncertain future. Scandals simmer in the background. Vatileaks might have exited stage left but a storm involving pedaophile priests has boiled over in Belgium, Ireland and most recently Great Britain where Cardinal Keith O’Brian resigned three weeks ago for “inappropriate behavior”, giving up his right to a place in the conclave in the process. These are thorny issues for the church. On the one hand its position on marriage between men and women is unshakeable; on the other it is watching as laws on gay marriage sweep Europe, from Madrid to Paris, Lisbon to Amsterdam, Brussels to London. Despite appeals from the Bishops, Rome’s position is looking increasingly shaky. Legislation on gay couples adopting children has gone ahead in the last few years regardless of some cardinals branding it “commercial”. Almost two weeks ago the European Court of Human Rights recognized the right of gays to adopt their partners’ children, something that is already legal in Slovenia, Iceland and Spain. And in Belgium a debate is well underway on extending euthanasia laws to cover children and adults suffering from degenerative diseases and dementia such as Alzheimer’s.

The conference of Bishops has dug its heels on the issue, pointing to advancements in palliative care as a possible alternative, but the legislation is likely to pass. Abortion, too, is rearing its head. Two class actions against law 194 are pending at the European Committee of Social Rights in Strasbourg as the number of conscientious objectors among physicians continues to rise, in clear violation of women’s rights.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

The EU’s Insidious War on the Nation State Must be Halted

by Jesse Norman

As a voice of fairness and free trade, Britain can help to remodel the future of Europe

Over many years, European leaders have frequently compared the creation of the European Union with the founding of the United States of America. The former president of France, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, has a special fondness for the comparison. In an interview in 2003, he even compared himself with Thomas Jefferson, citing Jefferson’s part in the framing of the US constitution. In his words, “I tried to play a little bit the role that Jefferson played.”…

Jesse Norman is Conservative MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire. He is delivering a lecture, ‘The Road to EUtopia?’, tonight (Thursday 14 March) at the think tank Localis

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Bullfinch Trial Day 34: ‘Claims Made Up by Troubled Girls’

A MAN accused of raping and selling girls for sex told police he may have been ‘set up’ by the alleged victims, the Old Bailey heard yesterday. The Oxford sex exploitation trial heard defendant Anjum Dogar told police the girls were “troubled” and “influenced by drugs”. In an interview transcript read to the jury, Dogar said the girls did not have homes or parents.

He said: “The way I see it is troubled kids making up allegations…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Concern Over Ed Miliband’s Zionist Credentials

The Zionist beliefs of Ed Miliband, the Leader of the Opposition, are mired in confusion after the Labour Party leader — who is Jewish — said at a public meeting that he was a Zionist, only for his office then to deny he had said any such thing. During a question-and-answer session at a Board of Deputies event last Thursday, an audience member asked Mr Miliband: “David Cameron has described himself as a Zionist. Would you describe yourself as a Zionist?” Mr Miliband replied: “The answer to that is yes, because I consider myself a supporter of Israel. I think it’s very, very important that as somebody who supports not only Israel’s right to exist but has huge respect for what Israel does that I count myself in that category.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: City Mosque Opens Its Doors to Raise Awareness

Ihsan Mosque in Norwich has opened its doors as part of Islam Awareness Week.

The city’s Lord Mayor, Ralph Gayton, attended the launch of the Norwich part of the week-long national event, aimed at increasing awareness of the Muslim community. Organisers hope the week will provide an insight into the lives of the local Muslims and an opportunity to meet the community. Organiser Momodou Taal said: “Everyone is welcome to these interesting free events, especially our Sunday soup kitchen. It will be nice for people to see that we are really no different from everyone else.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Gavin Barwell MP: Seven Ways of Engaging Ethnic Minority Voters

Gavin Barwell is Member of Parliament for Croydon Central.

I’ve written before for ConservativeHome both about the long-term existential threat to the Party from our low support among Britain’s growing black and minority ethnic communities and about what we could do to tackle this threat. On Saturday, I had the chance to speak about this challenge at one of the breakout sessions at ConservativeHome’s excellent Victory 2015 Conference…

[Reader comment by Mohammed_Amin on 15 March 2013 at about 9 am.]

Gavin, I attended the breakout session and strongly agree with your points above. I was very pleased to see you leading the way by attending the Conservative Muslim Forum Islam Awareness Week event earlier this week.

[JP note: Risible.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: iERA Investigates Complaints About Seating Arrangements at the Debate, “Islam or Atheism: Which Makes More Sense?”

The University College London (UCL) has decided to not take any further bookings from the Islamic Education & Research Academy (iERA) after the event entitled: “Islam or Atheism: Which Makes More Sense?” that took place on its premises on Saturday 9th March 2013.

UCL’s reasoning is that they do not allow enforced segregation on any grounds at meetings held on campus and their assertion is that “attempts were made to enforce segregation at the meeting (sic).” iERA complied with the request from the University to cater for all preferences by having seating that was open for all attendees, male or female, and two sections to accommodate those that wished to adhere to their deeply held religious beliefs. We also adhered to UCL’s request to make sure that the respective areas were clearly marked and ushers were employed in order to facilitate the seating. Please access the following link that is a time-lapse video which demonstrates this…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Lord Ahmed Controversy: If a Labour Politician Said Something Rude About Muslims Instead of Jews, They’d be Drummed Out Immediately

by Stephen Pollard

This morning, the Labour Party suspended the whip from Lord Ahmed, a life peer whose career has been notable for little other than a jail sentence for dangerous driving and his unsavoury allies. Last night, it was claimed that Lord Ahmed had engaged in an anti-Semitic tirade on a Pakistani TV channel last April that would have shamed Mel Gibson…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

French Ambassador in Rome Says UFM Still Useful

Several projects, hundreds of millions of euros budget

French Ambassador Alain Le Roy

(ANSAmed) — ROME- While many commentators have become skeptical of the continuing usefulness of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), the initiative launched in 2008 by the French president at the time, Nicolas Sarkozy, French Ambassador to Rome Alain Le Roy strongly disagrees.

Interviewed by ANSAmed Wednesday on the fringes of the FrancoFilm Festival presentation, Le Roy said that “France feels a sense of responsibility towards North Africa. We have a privileged relationship with Maghreb countries, as well as with Mauritania and Lebanon. We — as France — were the ones to launch the project for the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) in an attempt to bring the northern and southern Mediterranean regions closer together at the economic, cultural and political levels”. France and Italy, he added, “ are the EU nations that apply the most pressure in Brussels to assist and support Mediterranean countries”. Le Roy himself took part in the creation of the UfM as the ambassador tasked with the initiative. At the Paris summit which gave the go-ahead to its establishment, representatives from over 40 nations in the area participated, including the North African leaders at that time: such as Egyptian president Mubarak and his Tunisian counterpart Ben Ali.

Since 2008 the situation has changed dramatically in the region. The Arab Spring swept away the old regimes and redrew the contours of the political situation. Nevertheless, the French ambassador said, the UfM remains a “valid and implementable tool”. “I recently spoke to UfM Secretary General Fathallah Sijilmassi here in Rome. There are many meetings and projects on the agenda. Of course,” Le Roy said, “there are political problems, but many initiatives as well — such as in the student exchange and solar energy fields. We have several projects underway, and though they may not receive much media attention, they do succeed in getting people from the northern and southern parts of the Mediterranean to meet and work together”.

Thus, the Union for the Mediterranean is still of importance.

It also enjoys a budget in the “hundreds of millions of euros”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Libya: EU: Concerns About Detainees Charged of ‘Proselytism’

Make every effort in a spirit of tolerance and respect

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, 14 MARCH — The EU Delegation to Libya has published a statement expressing its “deep concerns about the continued detention and the treatment of persons held on alleged charges of proselytism in Libya,” and urging the Libyan government “to ensure adequate conditions and treatment of all detainees in accordance with international standards and Libya’s international obligations”.

According to the Enpi website (, the Delegation expressed its satisfaction concerning the commitment of the Libyan authorities to “fully respect all human rights, the creation of the Human Rights Commission and the repeal of laws of the previous regime that restrict the enjoyment of human rights”. The statement reiterated the EU’s position concerning the universality of the freedom of religion or belief and therefore, it exhorted the “Libyan communities to make every effort in a spirit of tolerance and respect”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Libya: Benghazi: The Coptic Church of St. Mark is Torched

The attack took place last night. Authors of the act Still unknown. The building had been attacked a few weeks ago.

Benghazi (AsiaNews / Agencies) — Unidentified persons have set fire to the Coptic Orthodox Church of St. Mark in Benghazi. This is confirmed in a statement by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry. There the authors of the act are as yet unknown. This is the second attack on the religious building. The first took place a few weeks ago. In December a group of Salafists planted a bomb near another Christian complex in Misrata. The explosion left two dead and dozens wounded.

Abdel-Salam al-Barghathi, a security official in Benghazi said that his forces tried to stop a group of men as they attacked the building on fire. According to the agent this gesture was a kind of response to the anti-Libyan protest that took place in Cairo after the death of Ezzat Atallah, a Christian of 45 who died March 10 in a prison in Benghazi.

Ali al-Ashiry, Foreign Ministry secretary points out that Libya is in chaos, especially Cyrenaica, where Islamic militants are exploiting the security vacuum to carry out attacks against religious minorities.

Since Gaddafi’s fall, the number of attacks against foreign residents has increased. The most affected are Egyptians, especially Catholic and Orthodox Copts. On 3 February, an armed group attacked a religious building in the capital of Cyrenaica and assaulted two Coptic clergymen, Fr Paul Isaac and his assistant. last month, four foreigners from Egypt, South Africa, South Korea and a Swede with a US passport were arrested for allegedly circulating Bibles and other religious material. They are currently in a Tripoli jail waiting for trial. On 28 February, the authorities arrested 48 Egyptian peddlers on charges of proselytising. Twenty were eventually sent home following the intervention of Egyptian authorities. Under pressure from the Egyptian Foreign Ministry 44 of them were released. On returning home they confessed that they were beaten and tortured.

Catholic religious orders have also been targeted by Muslim militias despite operating in the country for decades in hospitals and nursing homes. In January, Islamists forced the Ursuline Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus out of the city of Bayda.In October, the same thing happened to the Sisters of the Convent of the Sacred Family of Spoleto in Derna who felt they had to leave the city even though local residents wanted them to stay. (S.C.)

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

Muslim Brotherhood Statement Denouncing UN Women Declaration for Violating Sharia Principles

Muslim Brotherhood slams proposed UN CSW document which contradicts principles of Islam and destroys family life and entire society.

Thursday, March 14

The 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), taking place from March 4 to 15 at UN headquarters, seeks to ratify a declaration euphemistically entitled ‘End Violence against Women’.

That title, however, is misleading and deceptive. The document includes articles that contradict established principles of Islam, undermine Islamic ethics and destroy the family, the basic building block of society, according to the Egyptian Constitution.

This declaration, if ratified, would lead to complete disintegration of society, and would certainly be the final step in the intellectual and cultural invasion of Muslim countries, eliminating the moral specificity that helps preserve cohesion of Islamic societies.

A closer look at these articles reveals what decadence awaits our world, if we sign this document:

           — Hat tip: TV [Return to headlines]

Pope: Al Azhar Dispute With Ratzinger, Hopes for New Era

Muslim Brotherhood open to dialogue, Salafis refuse

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO — With the Ratzinger era over, the most prestigious body in the Sunni world is hoping that the new Argentine pope will lead the way to resumed dialogue between the two religions.

Relations were broken off sharply on January 20, 2011 — after New Year’s Eve killings in an Alexandria church — when Pope Benedict XVI called for the Christian minority in Egypt and the Middle East to be protected. “The problem is with the German pope, not with the Vatican,” Mahmud Abdel Gawad, diplomatic advisor to Al Azhar’s Grand Imam Ahmed El Tayyeb. The leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and their political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party — which since 2012 has been the largest political force in the country — have also shown themselves open to reconciliation. This is in sharp contrast with a well-known Salafi leader, who quoted a Koranic verse to criticize the statements made by FJP vice president Essam El Eryan, who had called Pope Francis’s election “historic”. Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy was marked from the very beginning by difficult relations with the Muslim world after his famous September 2006 Regensburg speech, in which he used a quote by Manuel II Palaiologos on Mohammed that the Muslim world interpreted as associating Islam and violence.

Pope Ratzinger tried to make amends with his visit to Istanbul’s Blue Mosque in late 2006, but in early 2011 relations were severed after he called for the protection of Christians after the latest in a long strong of violent attacks. His words were called “unacceptable interference into Egypt’s affairs” by El Tayyeb and relations were henceforth suspended.

Al Azhar is now awaiting a signal from the new pope — a signal which never came from Benedict XVI. Gawad noted that Ratzinger had been encouraged to find an opportunity to publicly state that Islam “is not a violent religion”, but never did so. The hope is now that Pope Francis will instead say a few “good” words about Islam. Or, as Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Mahmud Ghozlan put it, that he will “follow in Christ’s footsteps and love everyone”.

Signs of an easing in tensions have also come from the spiritual guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Badie, who sent a message of congratulations to the new Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Egypt Ibrahim Sidrak, in which he said that he “prays to God that He be ever close to Egypt and all Egyptians”. The conciliatory gestures made by the Muslim Brotherhood to the new Catholic hierarchies have been rejected, on the other hand, by the El Nour Salafis, Egypt’s main extremist party. One of its representatives, Sheikh Sherif Taha, quoted Koranic verses on repentance (Surat Al-Tawbah) in reference to the gestures: “Fight those who do not believe in Allah and Judgement Day, who do not prohibit what Allah and his messenger prohibited, who do not follow the religion of truth”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Tunisia: EU: New Aid for Justice and Against Gender Violence

One project will help victims in the North East of the country

(ANSA) — BRUXELLES, 15 MAR — Two new EU funded projects in Tunisia have been announced today, on preventing gender violence and improving the performance of the justice sector in the area of juvenile delinquency.

The first project is a grant contract of 550.000 euros aimed at preventing violence based on gender and on helping the victims of gender violence in the North-East of Tunisia, in the governorates of El-Kef, Jendouba and Beja by preparing advisors to train specialised staff dealing with this problem and providing legal, psychological and socio-medical support to the victims. The three-years project will be implemented by a Spanish NGO (Fundacion CIDEAL de Cooperacion y Investigacion).

Another action worth 1.8 million euros will be implemented by UNICEF, covering the implementation of the action related to juvenile justice within the framework of the EU-Tunisia cooperation programme of support to the justice sector adopted last year. This specific action with UNICEF is designed to ensure the protection of young delinquents and to provide them with support during the judicial procedures and their detention until their reintegration into the society and is part of a broader program to reinforce the independence and professionalism in the justice sector.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel Has Formed a New Government to Greet President Obama

After six weeks of intense negotiations, a new Israeli coalition has emerged to greet President Obama when he arrives in Jerusalem on March 20th. It is a product of an obsessive democracy with diverse backgrounds and conflicting views on practically everything. . . The government that has been formed under the leadership of Israeli PM Netanyahu reflects an introspective turn concentrating on domestic economic and social issues rather than on Palestinian peace prospects. It is a coalition of partners, who reflect the consensus of the Israeli polity that is “sane about” the realities of the neighborhood that surrounds them. . . .The emerging consensus arising from this Israel coalition bicker process is that Israel has to deal with cleaning up decades of domestic problems such as monopolies, housing availability and integrating, rather than being beholden to the demands of the extreme Orthodox, the heredim. The steadfast coalition that emerged from the January 22nd Knesset election is composed of former Israeli Channel 2 news anchor Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party and young Israeli multi-millionaire high tech entrepreneur Naftali Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi ( Jewish Home). They cut a deal with Netanyahu reflecting those issues. . . .An interview on Israeli TV Thursday night with President Obama may not have mollified the opinion of viewers in the Jewish nation concerned with Iran’s relentless quest for nuclear weapons. . . . If the new government announced by PM Netanyahu has the solid backing from its citizens on one issue it is that Iran must be stopped from perfecting its nuclear existential threat against the Jewish Nation. The Persian New Year, Nowruz, occurs during President Obama’s visit to Jerusalem. Given the threats to Israel on its immediate borders from Hezbollah and al Qaida on Israel’s Golan Heights, the new government will not take any chances with differing timetables about a Nuclear Iran.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

British Radicals ‘Are Flocking to Syria’

Radical British Islamists are travelling to Syria in greater numbers than all other theatres of war, a senior British official has said.

The numbers of young British Muslims travelling to fight with extremist groups battling the Syrian regime has escalated to the point where the conflict already poses a “major threat” to Britain’s stability and security. “This is a horrific situation that is now on a grave trajectory,” the official said. “We now have more British jihadists going to Syria than all the other areas of conflict, be it Afghanistan, Pakistan or Yemen combined.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

French, Britain Push EU Nations to Lift Syria Arms Embargo

BRUSSELS, March 15 (Xinhua) — European Union (EU) leaders started the second day of their spring summit on Friday as French and Britian urged their EU partners to lift an arms embargo on Syria to allow supplying for the the country’s opposition. French President Francois Hollande said on Thursday that France and Britain had agreed on the issue but other countries would have to be convinced. “We will use our diplomacy and explain how terrible the situation is in Syria in order to lead our European partners to that solution… Our goal is to convince our partners at the end of May, and if possible before,” Hollande said after the first day of the summit…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Syria: Arm Rebels or We Will, Cameron to Tell EU

Britain and France are prepared to arm Syrian rebels unless the European Union lifts a blanket arms embargo on the country, David Cameron will tell a Brussels summit on Friday.

The Prime Minister will warn other EU leaders that he and François Hollande, the French president, can no longer stand by as the Syrian regime, armed by Russia and Iran, kills civilians and seeks to crush rebels. “There is a perversity about an arms embargo. It doesn’t stop those aiding Assad,” a No10 source said. “It does stop EU countries and others helping those against whom Assad is waging a brutal and terrorising war.”…

[JP note: Ho-hum, dancing to the Muslim Brotherhood’s tune.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Syria: Merkel: Reservations Over Lifting Arms Embargo

Sources, French and British position minority at EU summit

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS — German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday said she has reservations on lifting a weapons embargo on Syria. ‘The situation in Syria is difficult, the hypothesis of lifting an embargo on weapons will be discussed by EU foreign ministers in Dublin next week, we have reservations along with others while France and Great Britain have changed ideas’, said Merkel after the EU summit.

Spanish sources in Brussels confirmed that the position of Paris and London in favour of lifting the arms embargo in Syria to help the anti-regime opposition is a minority among 27 EU members. The issue, which was initially not included in the agenda of talks, will be discussed at the request of France and Britain. Countries opposing the end of the embargo fear that the situation in the whole region could get more complicated, in particular in relation to Lebanon, Iran and Turkey.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Foreign Banks Banned From Opening Branches in Russia

(AGI) — Moscow, Mar 15 — Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law banning foreign banks from opening branches in Russia. The bill was adopted by the State Duma on February 22 and approved by the Federation Council on March 6. It amends some of the existing Russian banking laws as part of a strategy to develop the Russian banking sector until 2015, and consolidates the agreements reached by Russian negotiators during consultations on Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

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

Italians Advised to be ‘Prudent’ In India Amid Marines Row

Demos likely against refusal to send ‘murder’ pair back

(ANSA) — Rome, March 15 — The Italian foreign ministry on Friday advised Italians in India to show “prudence” amid probable street protests against Italy’s refusal to send back two anti-piracy marines accused of murdering two Indian fishermen last year.

An advisory on the ‘viaggiaresicuri’ (travel safe) Website said Italians in India or planning a trip there should try to keep away from any protests, especially in the southern state of Kerala where the fishermen came from.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italian Ambassador ‘Held Hostage’ By India, Says Union

SNDMAE accused New Dehli of violating Vienna Convention

(see related stories) (ANSA) — Rome, March 15 — The India government is holding the Italian ambassador to New Delhi hostage after telling him he cannot leave the country, Italian diplomats union SNDMAE said Friday.

The Supreme Court in New Delhi slapped the ban on Ambassador Daniele Mancini after the Italian government’s decision not to return to India two marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen while on an anti-piracy mission last year.

They had been granted a permit to come home to vote in last month’s general election.

The union said New Delhi was violating the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, specifically article 44, which it said aims to stop diplomats “being taken hostage while carrying out their duties, as is happening to Ambassador Mancini”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy Marines Row With India Intensifies

Ambassadors involved after Rome didn’t send ‘murder’ pair back

(ANSA) — Rome, March 14 — A diplomatic row over Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen last year intensified Thursday after Italy’s decision not to send them back after a trip home to vote in February’s general election.

As India’s showed fresh ire over what it saw as a failure to uphold a sworn pledge, the country’s Supreme Court ordered the Italian ambassador to New Delhi, Daniele Mancini, to “not leave the country”.

The court also wrote to the two marines, Massimilano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, asking them to clarify their position, ANSA sources said.

In another development, India put on hold the procedure for its new ambassador to Rome to take up his position.

The new ambassador, Basant Kumar Gupta, was scheduled to leave for Rome on Friday.

The Indian foreign ministry has also summoned the EU’s ambassador to New Delhi to discuss the case.

Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi reacted by saying Italy’s decision not to send back the marines was legitimate.

“We have a very solid position, of which we are perfectly convinced, (as are) many important partners in the international community, (based on) the fact that we are acting in full respect of international law,” Terzi said from Jerusalem, where he is on a diplomatic mission to meet Israeli political leaders.

The Italian foreign minister was referring to the Indian Supreme Court’s letter to the Italian ambassador which accused him of “violating” the pledge to return the two men.

Asked to comment specifically on the letter delivered to Italy’s ambassador, Terzi only said: “I won’t enter into the details”.

The marines, who had been held in India since February 2012, were allowed to return to Italy for one month for national elections held February 24-25.

Latorre and Girone, who are charged with homicide for alleged shooting the fisherman while on an anti-piracy mission, were supposed to return to India later this month.

The Italian government has always denied that India has jurisdiction over the matter, as the incident took place in international waters off the country’s coast.

Along with the order to not leave the country, the Supreme Court ordered the ambassador to offer explanations for Italy’s actions by March 18.

An earlier deal, which allowed the marines to return to Italy for Christmas, was respected by both governments and was seen as a positive step — as well as a sign of goodwill — towards a diplomatic solution.

Commenting the developments on Thursday, Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said that a decision regarding the matter would “be taken by the Supreme Court in collaboration with the central government”.

The Indian government, Khurshid said, “is following the situation in collaboration with the Republic’s central prosecutor”. In separate statements to journalists, Khurshid said: “the most important thing is to safeguard the dignity and the feelings of the India”.

Some members of the Indian political establishment seem to be using the diplomatic tussle over the marines to gain leverage ahead of national elections scheduled to take place later this year.

On Thursday, Subramanian Swamy, president of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, presented a petition to the Supreme Court asking for legal action against the Italian ambassador for the crime of “contempt of court”.

The current government is led by the Congress Party, whose president, Sonia Gandhi, the Italian wife of Rajiv Gandhi, a former Congress leader and prime minister assassinated in 1991.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un ‘Was Target of Assassination Attempt’

Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, was the target of an assassination attempt linked to a power struggle within one of the nation’s military bureaus, according to reports.

South Korean intelligence sources were quoted as saying that “disgruntled people inside the North” moved ahead of the demotion of Kim Yong-chol, director of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, in November.

Authorities were paying special attention because the attempt was made in downtown Pyongyang, not during one of Kim’s regional trips outside the capital city, the intelligence officer told the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper on Thursday.

The precise timing of the attack has not been accurately established, although there were rumours of a skirmish involving an exchange of gunfire in Pyongyang in November of last year.

It has also proved difficult to identify who was behind the incident, with the intelligence official suggesting it was linked to the punishment meted out to General Kim.

A known hawk and a close ally of Kim Jong-un, General Kim earned a reputation for being an aggressive military leader who was behind the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan in March 2010, which Pyongyang still denies involvement in.

General Kim was also a key player in the decision to bombard South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island in November of the same year, resulting in the deaths of four people and injuries to 19 others.

Promoted to a four-star general in February 2012, he was demoted to a two-star lieutenant general just nine months later because of the power struggle when the intelligence department of the Workers’ Party and a division of the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces were merged into the Reconnaissance General Bureau.

A dispute over which faction would lead the new entity led to the gunbattle in the streets of Pyongyang, the intelligence official said.

“The people who were purged after the gunfight could be related to the assassination attempt,” he added.

General Kim has since been restored to his four-star status and appeared alongside Kim Jong-un at a musical recital in Pyongyang last month…

           — Hat tip: Lurker from Tulsa [Return to headlines]

Can America Withstand Mass Immigration That Creates Mass Illiteracy?

John Wayne said, “Life is tough; it’s even tougher if you’re stupid!”

In order to maintain a constitutional republic, our citizens must be able to read, write, perform simple mathematics and think critically. Our Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin worked diligently to create the finest educational system throughout the fledgling United States of America.

Up until 1965, America enjoyed the most educated citizenry in the world. Most kids graduated from high school and most advanced to colleges and/or vocational trade schools. Our middle-class flourished as an intelligent and dynamic part of America’s greatness.

In 2013, however, according to the National Institute for Literacy, an astounding 42 million Americans cannot read, write or perform simple math. Another 50 million cannot read past the 4th grade level. It costs taxpaying Americans $240 billion annually in lost industrial productivity, uncollected tax revenues, welfare, crime, poverty and food stamps.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Leftist Prayers for a Red Pope Dashed

Tuesday night’s NBC News story, “America’s Hopes for a New Pope,” was typical of how the liberal media tried to force the Roman Catholic Church further to the left. The tone of the coverage was that the Catholic Church, in picking a new pope, had to make peace with “diversity” — liberals, feminists and homosexuals demanding state recognition of “gay marriage” in the United States.

With the selection of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, the liberals have lost out. He opposes abortion, euthanasia, and homosexuality. A Catholic insider tells me, “Looks like we might have ourselves a relatively conservative new pope. He appears to be opposed to liberation theology and doesn’t approach ‘social justice’ from the political end.” The latter means that while he is an advocate of helping the poor, he doesn’t believe this should be done through state socialist schemes.

Liberal and “progressive” websites are already attacking the first Latin American pope as someone who may have a “dark past” and be linked to the Argentine military during the “dirty war” against the communists. The accusations, which have now been picked up by the Associated Press, show the bitterness of the left, as their hopes were dashed of a “Red Pope.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Marxism in Education — The Infiltration of Our School Systems by the Common Core Standards

My friend and fellow blogger Michelle Malkin has done a set of four in-depth articles on reporting on the Common Core Standards as well as additional pieces providing more information. Her work is very well done. Before her write-ups, I would wager most parents had never heard of Common Core. There are now many teachers who are quitting and/or standing up against this Progressive travesty that is intent on corrupting our schools and students. Here are some videos explaining the Common Core Standards:

I will tell you that George Soros and the Tides Foundation along with other major Progressive organizations and the Obama Administration are behind all of this monstrosity. Gee, I’ m sooo surprised. Educational policies are supposed to lie with the states, so the government coercing the states to carry the Common Core Standards violates the Constitution. The tracking database violates privacy at every turn as well. I strongly recommend you click on the links below and read what Michelle has written and fight to drive out the Common Core Standards from your state. While Obama took us from one emergency to the next, he was slipping in the back door to destroy our children who are the building blocks of the country. Get your children out of the public schools now and fight this at the state level. It is almost too late.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Lesbian Couple Go Into Hiding With Turkish Foster Child

A lesbian couple and their nine-year-old foster child have gone into hiding because of the row in Turkey about Muslim children being cared for by gay or Christian couples.

The couple have looked after Yunus since he was five months old but his mother has long campaigned for his return. Last week she made an emotional television appeal, leading to widespread debate in Turkey itself.

Next week, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit the Netherlands and some expect him to raise the fostering issue.

A Turkish parliamentary commission is currently researching the fostering of Muslim children by gay or Christian couples, which they say will lead to them becoming estranged from their cultural background.

Child social services in The Hague say they are extremely concerned about the ongoing debate. ‘The situation means Yunus cannot go to school,’ one official told Nos television.

No direct threats have been made but the family have now been moved to a different address, officials say.

The two mothers have done a fantastic job, one told the Volkskrant. ‘They have explored his ethnic background, visited Turkey and are learning Turkish. But this witch hunt means they are continually being questioned, at school, in the street, in the bakers,’ a spokeswoman said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sicilian Priest Disavows Regional Governor Over Pope

Centre-left politician called for woman pontiff, married priests

(ANSA) — Gela (Caltanissetta), March 15 — A Sicilian priest, the personal confessor of centre-left regional Governor Rosario Crocetta, disavowed the politician on Friday for what he considered to be “inappropriate” ethical and religious statements.

The recently elected governor, who is openly gay, told private national TV channel L7 on Wednesday that in order to draw close to the public the Church needed “a woman pope, married priests and even to celebrate gay marriage”.

Luigi Petralia, a parish priest in Crocetta’s native Gela, in an open letter described the comments as being those “of a showman rather than of a politician or a Christian politician” and said that they effectively placed Crocetta “outside the Catholic Church”.

“They are very serious issues that have already been resolved within the Catholic Church, which does not expect answers from Crocetta, seeing as he is neither a biblical scholar nor a theologian, and that he does not hold any other title indicating competence in these matters,” he wrote. Petralia added that the governor could be forgiven in confession and return to the Church only if he showed sincere repentance for the comments.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

2 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 3/15/2013

  1. The assassination attempt in PyongYang is likely to have been engineered by the South Koreans and Americans. This may explain the current bellicosity of the regime’s rhetoric, promising to attack the US etc. They may not have to power to reach the US but they certainly could take out Seoul and the US bases in S.Korea.

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