Gates of Vienna News Feed 3/2/2013

48 itinerant Coptic Egyptian vendors were arrested in Benghazi for allegedly “proselytizing” their Christian faith. Local Libyan Muslims had complained to the authorities about the blasphemous iconography in images that were posted on the vendors’ market stalls.

In other news, a Florida man fell out of bed and was swallowed up in a sinkhole that suddenly formed under his house. He has been missing for two days, and is presumed dead.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Diana West, Fjordman, Gaia, Insubria, Lurker from Tulsa, Nilk, 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
» Italy’s Debt Rose to 127% in 2012, Real GDP Below 2001 Level
» ‘Portugal Has Smaller Debt But Pays Interest Rate Close to Greece’s’
» Portuguese Stage Mass Anti-Austerity Demonstrations
» The US Sequester: Your Essential Guide to the Looming Spending Cuts
» Diana West: Irony and the Al Qaeda List
» Florida Man Missing After Being ‘Swallowed’ By Sinkhole
» Harvard Economist: Legalizing Drugs Suits Ideal of American Freedom
» Hoping for a ‘Fresh Start, ‘ Mother Abandons Child in Woods
» Jurassic Pigeon: A Drive to Revive Extinct Species
Europe and the EU
» Austria: Old Dog Teaching New Political Tricks
» Dutch Payments to Brussels Will Go Down, Says Minister
» EU Commission Asks Cyprus to Boost Protection of Birds
» Europe’s Protest Parties on the March
» ‘Girt’ Wilders on Al Qaeda Death List
» Greece: The Multinationals Are Back
» Italy: Grillo Says M5S MPS Pledge to Shun Horse Trading
» Italy: Berlusconi Probed Over Senator Switch, Deposit Box Seized
» Italy: Sicilian Priest Arrested for Suspected Sexual Abuse
» Italy’s Secret Services Says Sicilian Mafia in Struggle
» Norway Mulls Tolerating Heroin Smoking
» UK: Two Held and Smoke Bombs Hurled at Police as English Defence League Confront Anti-Fascist Group
North Africa
» ‘Harlem Shake’ Rocks Deeply Divided Arab World
» Libya: Benghazi: 48 Egyptian Christians Arrested on Religious Grounds
Middle East
» Hagia Sophia: Facts, History & Architecture
» Palestinians Suspected of Aiding Syrian Regime Hanged
» Qatar: Pre-Marriage Counselling to Lower Divorce Rate
» Syrian Rebels Advancing on Damascus and Aleppo
» Turkey: Erdogan Comments on Zionism ‘Objectionable’, UN Chief
» Australia: No Room for Sharia Law in Multicultural Society
» Denmark: Liberals: Force Immigrant Women to Work
» Look Who’s on Al Qaeda’s Most-Wanted List

Italy’s Debt Rose to 127% in 2012, Real GDP Below 2001 Level

High tax burden in part due to Monti’s austerity measures

(see related stories) (ANSA) — Rome, March 1 — Recession-hit Italy’s real gross domestic product (GDP) dropped below its 2001 level last year and its debt-to-GDP ratio rose to 127% in 2012, Istat said Friday.

The national statistics agency added that the tax burden rose to a record 44%.

The country’s massive national debt of around two trillion euros is the main reason it was exposed to the eurozone debt.

Italy’s already high debt tax burden increased with hikes introduced by outgoing Premier Mario Monti’s emergency government.

These tax increase were part of efforts to restore order to the Italy’s public finances after Silvio Berlusconi quit as premier in November 2011 when the country’s financial crisis threatened to spiral out of control.

Monti’s austerity measures also had the effect of deepening the recession Italy slipped into in the second half of 2011.

This is reflected by Istat saying Friday that Italy’s GDP fell by 2.4% in 2012 and household spending dropped 4.3%, taking real GDP, which is adjusted for price changes, to below the levels of over a decade ago.

The agency added that the deficit-to-GDP ratio was 3% and Italy posted a primary surplus of 2.5% in 2012, up from 1.2% in 2011.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

‘Portugal Has Smaller Debt But Pays Interest Rate Close to Greece’s’

Público, 1 March 2013

Of all the countries receiving bailout, Portugal is one that has seen the lowest reduction in its interest rates, writes Público.

As a consequence, the proportion of debt repayments to GDP for Portugal will be at a level very close to that of Greece (4.4 per cent for Portugal, against 4.7 per cent for Greece) even though the latter has a substantially higher level of debt.

Público concludes that “when a country that respects the rules suffers more than a country that does not respect them, it looks like it is probably better not to comply”.

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

Portuguese Stage Mass Anti-Austerity Demonstrations

(AGI) — Lisbon, Mar 2 — Hundreds of thousands of Portuguese citizens took to the streets of Lisbon and other major cities, calling for an end to austerity measures and the centre-right government’s resignation. With taxes having reached an all-time high in Portugal, Saturday’s demonstrations follow September demonstrations which succeeded in curbing some of the government’s austerity targets.

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

The US Sequester: Your Essential Guide to the Looming Spending Cuts

The sequester is scheduled to kick in on March 1, with $85bn in cuts set to hit a variety of programs. We give you the lowdown

Just when you thought it was safe to read the news from Washington again, another “manufactured crisis” — in the words of the president — is on our doorstep.

So far, politicians have only been arguing publicly about who should take the blame without actually speaking to each other. President Obama appeared at a press conference this week, when Congress was not in session, standing in front of a group of first responders in uniform to repeat critical lines about his congressional adversaries, criticizing the “manufactured crisis” and a “meat cleaver approach to politics.” Boehner, in return, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal attributing the sequester to “the president’s own failed leadership.”

The war of words reprises a similar one over the fiscal cliff last year. As a result, when Obama called Republican leaders this week, it was the first time he had reached out to House speaker John Boehner since December 28, and to Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell since January 1.

So what is the fuss all about? On March 1, an $85bn group of budget cuts known as the sequester will go into effect. They will wipe out a host of federal programs in everything from national parks to the Pentagon to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Hidden among the cuts, of course, will be cuts to the services that many Americans see most often in their everyday lives — education, healthcare and even aviation. Here is our guide to what to expect.

What is the sequester?

Well … remember the fiscal cliff?

Yes. Something about Congress designing spending cuts and tax hikes to happen at the same time like some economic sci-fi movie?

Right. The tax hikes have been taken care of; our payroll taxes went up earlier this year, which is why your paycheck looks smaller.

The sequester is the spending cuts. They’re still set to go in place, as of March 1.

We never figured that out?

With this Congress? Really?

I take your point. So what are we dealing with now?

On March 1, unless Congress averts them, about $85bn in cuts will hit a wide range of government programs. The majority of that — about $47bn in cuts — will hit defense programs. The Pentagon isn’t happy about this, and it will result in layoffs or at least furloughs. But unless you work at the Pentagon or for a defense contractor, that’s not something you’re likely to feel in your own life. What you will feel, most likely, are either the $9.9 billion in Medicare cuts or the $28.7bn reduction in “domestic discretionary programs,” which is what you really should watch.

How many cuts will there be?

Literally hundreds…

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

Diana West: Irony and the Al Qaeda List

The Atlantic Wire notes the appearance of the above image in Inspire magazine, which may be described as Al Qaeda’s English-language jihad glossy, a naseous-making and surreal propaganda product of global jihad.

Not surprisingly, the AQ magazine’s Hollywood-style artwork is nauseous-making and surreal, too. Here we see Al Qaeda, adopting the cartoonish lexicon of George Bush, the Old West (Wanted, Dead or Alive), the Obama administration and Communist/labor/Left organizing (“Yes We Can”) to remind its followers and, probably more important, the rest of us that it is targeting a list of law-abiding, peaceable people whose *crime* in the eyes of Islam is *blasphemy.*

Below is an analysis of the AtlanticWire’s Daschiell Bennett’s account, which I can assume took me longer to write than the hasty-seeming account. (As did, no doubt, this lengthy post on the New York Times’ hatchet job on Lars Hedegaard.) I find the attitudes Bennett conveys so casually, however, of particular interest.

The lede:…

           — Hat tip: Diana West [Return to headlines]

Florida Man Missing After Being ‘Swallowed’ By Sinkhole

A 37-year-old man was feared dead on Friday after a 6-metre deep sinkhole opened up in his Florida bedroom and ‘swallowed’ him as he slept. Engineers will resume tests on the unstable and dangerous ground on Saturday.

Engineers planned to resume their work at a Florida sinkhole at daylight on Saturday to do more tests on the unstable and dangerous ground that swallowed a man in his bedroom.

They have already determined that the soil in the slowly growing sinkhole around the home is very soft and believe the entire house could eventually be devoured.

Jeff Bush, 37, was presumed dead Friday after the earth opened under his bedroom, swallowing him up like something out of a horror tale. About the only thing left was the TV cable running down into the hole.

Sinkholes are a hazard so common in Florida that state law requires home insurers to provide coverage against the danger.

The sinkhole, estimated at 20 feet (6 meters) across and 20 feet (6 meters) deep, caused the home’s concrete floor to cave in Thursday as everyone in the Tampa-area house was turning in for the night. It gave way with a loud crash that sounded like a car hitting the house and brought Bush’s brother running.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Harvard Economist: Legalizing Drugs Suits Ideal of American Freedom

Harvard University professor Jeffrey Miron has advocated the legalization of drugs for decades. In a SPIEGEL ONLINE interview, he explains why prohibition is more dangerous than selling drugs in supermarkets.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Hoping for a ‘Fresh Start, ‘ Mother Abandons Child in Woods

A 24-year-old Pennsylvania woman abandoned her 8-month-old daughter in the woods with the hopes of getting “a fresh start,” according to police.

Jennifer Cutruzzula was spotted by a neighbor walking into the woods with her child, only to emerge alone. The neighbor called police and went into the woods and found the baby girl on a muddy hillside next to a bottle of milk.

“She walked into this area with the intention of abandoning the child,” said Alleghany County District Attorney Stephen Zappala.

Cutruzzula told police she left her child because she wanted “a fresh start,” according to a criminal complaint.

Authorities say the infant is fine after being treated and released from a local hospital. The baby is currently in the custody of Child and Youth Services, according to WPXI-TV Pittsburgh.

Cutruzzula is charged with endangering the welfare of children and recklessly endangering. She is being held on $50,000 bail.

Zappala said the Pittsburgh-area woman will undergo a mental evaluation.

“I have never see anything like this. I don’t know how anyone could leave a child in the woods and walk away,” said Zappala.

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]

Jurassic Pigeon: A Drive to Revive Extinct Species

Extinct species are gone forever. Or are they? For some time now the dream of re-creating something like a mammoth from its DNA has been floating about on the fringes of the scientific world (and in movies like “Jurassic Park”) without being taken seriously.

Now, however, the science is getting serious. A new organization, Revive and Restore, under the auspices of the Long Now Foundation (a hip think tank), with the help of National Geographic and TED (a hip conference organizer), is setting out its stall at TEDxDeExtinction, a meeting in Washington, D.C., on March 15.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Austria: Old Dog Teaching New Political Tricks

Süddeutsche Zeitung Munich

Austrian billionaire octogenarian Frank Stronach made ??a sensational debut into politics nine months ago by founding his own party. In the March 3 regional elections, the conservative Eurosceptic is counting on reaping the benefits of the corruption scandals shaking traditional parties.

Cathrin Kahlweit

In the midst of the large crowd, the old man looks lonely. Hundreds have gathered in the hall of the Bärenwirt. On the stage, a singer going under the stage name Otto Normalverbraucher (Mr Everyman) is belting out “Styrian Men are very good”, and the crowd is clapping enthusiastically along.

Four young ladies, groupies of the guest star, wave red-white-red flags, which match their red-white-red neck scarves — the colours of the new party. The ladies are dark-haired, which is unusual for 80-year-old Frank Stronach, who usually surounds himself with blondes. Stronach, who was born in Styria, sits below the stage, while his team keeps a respectful distance. His eyes on the tabletop, Stronach, lost in the rhythm of the music, raps a little flag on it — as if he were a guest at a party whose purpose he isn’t quite aware of.

Later, when he takes the stage, a respectful hush falls over the hall. Stronach is the leader of “Team Stronach”, and he will be heading the list of candidates in next Sunday’s elections in Lower Austria. Most of the guests know him only from television, where he regularly drives well-prepared interviewers to distraction with long, confusing speeches. Meetings ahead of the two elections — Carinthia is also about to vote on a new parliament — will go on without him. There will only be a lot of muddled bellowing, he explains. The truth is that Stronach does not know how to handle a debate; opinions that differ from his clearly irritate the old man. He was the boss for too long to pretend to be just another guy on the team, despite the name of his party.

Serving Austria

Stronach took the plunge into Austrian politics only nine months ago. He spends much of each year in his adopted country, Canada, where he emigrated as a young man and where he built up the worldwide automotive supplies firm Magna. Now a billionaire, Stronach has stepped down as CEO of Magna. These days, he wants to “serve Austria”…

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

Dutch Payments to Brussels Will Go Down, Says Minister

The cabinet expects to pay a smaller net contribution to Brussels between 2014 and 2020, foreign minister Frans Timmermans told parliament on Wednesday.

The country currently pays some 0.41% of gross domestic product into the EU’s coffers, but this will go down to 0.39% from 2014, Timmermans said.

This means the Dutch contribution will total €48.1bn over the next seven years, compared with €49.9bn over the current budgetary period. Of this, some €14bn comes back to the Netherlands in subsidies and grants.

Earlier this month, European leaders reached agreement on the EU’s spending plans for the next seven years but that deal still has to be approved by the European parliament.

MPs are debating the Dutch contribution to Brussels on Wednesday afternoon.

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

EU Commission Asks Cyprus to Boost Protection of Birds

Nicosia risks to go to EU Court for its Natura 2000 sites

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, FEBRUARY 21 — The European Commission is asking Cyprus to extend its sites for Natura 2000, Europe’s network of protected natural areas. Under the Birds Directive, Member States need to designate the most suitable sites as special protection areas (SPAs) for the conservation of bird species. Cyprus originally designated only 7 SPAs, significantly below the 16 required under the Important Bird Areas (IBA) inventory used by the Commission to assess whether Member States are complying with their obligation to classify SPAs. The Commission opened infringement proceedings in 2007, and although more SPAs are now in place, the Commission is not convinced that the coverage of the areas protected is sufficient to provide adequate protection for a number of important species. The Commission is therefore sending a complementary reasoned opinion (the second stage of the infringement procedure), giving Cyprus two months to reply. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may refer the Member State to the EU Court of Justice.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Europe’s Protest Parties on the March

From Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement in Italy to Ukip in Britain, minor parties are shaking up the political establishment

Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders (right) holds a protest pamphlet that he will hand over to the Dutch cabinet in The Hague. Photograph: Evert-Jan Daniels/AFP/Getty Images

Holland’s iconoclastic populist and Islam-baiter Geert Wilders is plotting a new campaign to rile the political establishment — a “resistance tour” of the Netherlands.

It is not difficult to discern where Wilders, who combines far-right anti-immigrant positions with leftist welfarism, is getting his inspiration from: Rome.

The barnstorming and highly effective campaign by Beppe Grillo and his Five Star Movement in Italy, combining the latest in social media and internet savvy with old-fashioned piazza-pounding up and down the country, has transformed Italian politics. It may yet amplify its effect across a Europe uncommonly volatile and vulnerable to a Grillo-style insurrection.

Wilders promised to take to the bike paths, squares and shopping malls of small-town Holland later this year to mobilise resistance to Europe, immigration and bailing out Greece with Dutch taxpayers’ money.

That’s an agenda that fits squarely with Nigel Farage’s, following Ukip’s triumph coming second and beating the Tories in Eastleigh, leaving the party leader relishing next year’s elections for the European parliament.

Next door to Holland in the Belgian region of Flanders, the national political establishment is running scared of, while closing ranks to try to stop, the new mayor of Antwerp, Bart De Wever, who hopes to “confederalise” Belgium en route to killing the country off altogether…

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

‘Girt’ Wilders on Al Qaeda Death List

Dutch anti-Islam campaigner Geert Wilders is included on an apparent al Qaeda death list, according to RTL news on Friday.

‘Girt Wilders’ is in fourth place on the pastiche-film poster, which also includes Danish newspaper editor Carsten Juste, responsible for publishing cartoons about Mohammed, and other anti-Islam campaigners. Dutch academic Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who now lives in the US, is in 10th place.

The poster, apparently published on a jihadist website includes the slogan ‘Yes we can’, made famous by US president Barrack Obama and the text ‘a bullet a day can keep the infidels away’. This is a play on the English proverb ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’.


A spokesman for the Dutch counter terrorism bureau NCTb told RTL news the circulation of death lists are a popular al Qaeda tactic.

Also on Friday, Wilders’ PVV published a pamphlet outlining the party’s ‘resistance’ to government policy. In the document, Wilders says the current government is reducing the Netherlands to ruin by its cuts.

The party plans to launch a nationwide ‘resistance tour’ to gather support for its position.

[Return to headlines]

Greece: The Multinationals Are Back

I Kathimerini, 1 March 2013

“Goods train to Europe sees the light of day,” announces I Kathimerini, in its report on the February 28 inauguration of a 17km railway connecting the port of Piraeus to the Thriasio logistics platform close to Athens. The new link will boost transport links to central and south-east Europe.

The opening of the line has been eagerly awaited by Chinese firm Cosco, which has operated half the port since 2010 and is seeking to develop its business. “All of the conditions were fulfilled for the signature [on March 1] of an agreement between Cosco and Hewlett Packard, which is planning to make Piraeus a transport hub for its products on their way to Europe,” reports the daily.

The deal, adds I Kathimerini, will help Prime Minister Antonis Samaras convince the troika, which sent a delegation to Athens on the day of the inauguration, that reforms and the government’s privatisation programme are moving forward. Since the start of this week, his coalition government has had multiple meetings with industrial groups like Philip Morris and major banks in its bid to fulfill the objectives assigned by Greece’s creditors: the privatisation of water, power generation, trains, certain airports, race tracks etc.

Le Monde reports on another story of a multinational returning to Greece, the Anglo-Dutch giant Unilever, which is keen to develop its business in the country —

The company has decided to transfer production of 110 consumer products, which until now have been imported from central and eastern Europe, to Greece. The products will be manufactured under licence by Greek partner companies…

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

Italy: Grillo Says M5S MPS Pledge to Shun Horse Trading

Code of conduct forbids bargaining, says ex comedian

(see related stories) (ANSA) — Rome, March 1 — Beppe Grillo, the leader of the 5-Star Movement (M5S), said on Friday that his movement’s MPs are bound by strict rules that make it impossible for them to engage in political horse trading.

“The M5S is composed of responsible people who want a radical change in public ethics,” the former comedian said.

“It is impossible (to get them involved in bargaining), in particular with the usual little political games. “The M5S will vote in parliament every law that corresponds to its program, and it will not make alliances” Grillo said. Grillo added that M5S MPs make a commitment “not to associate with other parties or coalitions or groups if not for votes on common issues” in a code of conduct.

“It was signed by all the (M5S) candidates and made public to the voters before the elections. These rules were known by everyone, the politburo of the (centre-left) PD (Democratic Party) included. “If the PD wants to transform the House and Senate into a Vietnam, the M5S will not look on,” concluded Grillo.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Probed Over Senator Switch, Deposit Box Seized

Case regards money allegedly paid to Sergio De Gregorio

(ANSA) — Rome, February 28 — Italian ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi is being probed in Naples for suspected corruption and illegal party funding, judicial sources said Thursday. The case regards money allegedly paid to Senator Sergio De Gregorio, who defected from the centre left during Romano Prodi’s 2006-2008 government and eventually joined Berlusconi’s party.

The switch of allegiance helped undermine Prodi’s majority in the upper house and the administration collapsed less than two years after taking power.

De Gregorio allegedly received three million euros.

A safety deposit box in Berlusconi’s name was seized by Italian police on Thursday and the three-time Italian premier was summoned to appear before Naples prosecutors on March 5.

The 76-year-old media magnate’s People of Freedom (PdL) party said the move signalled that some prosecutors have resumed their alleged judicial “persecution” of Berlusconi after a truce for Sunday-Monday’s general election.

Berlusconi’s centre right came second in the election, but managed to prevent Pier Luigi Bersani’s centre-left alliance gaining a working majority in the Senate, which his supporters have hailed as a success as the alliance trailed by double figures in the polls at the start of the election campaign.

“The comments on our election success have not yet finished in the newspapers and the attacks by the magistrates against Silvio Berlusconi have already started again,” said Angelino Alfano, the PdL secretary.

“We announce that we are going to organise a big demonstration in the streets to defend the sovereignty of the PdL and of Italian democracy.

“All this is taking place while the country is going through a highly delicate phase of institutional transition in which Berlusconi will be called to exercise great influence as the leader of the PdL. “This circumstance makes it clear that the magistrates’ actions are political”. Berlusconi is currently on trial in Milan over accusations he paid for sex with a young Moroccan dancer, Karima El Mahroug, better known as Ruby the Heart-stealer, before she was 18 during alleged bunga bunga sex parties at his home.

Both the ex-premier and the woman deny ever having sex. She said money she received from Berlusconi was given as part of a gift.

Berlusconi is also accused of abuse of office for allegedly having used his influence when he was premier to spring El Mahroug from a Milan police station to hush up the affair after an unrelated theft claim.

Berlusconi is appealing against a one-year conviction he was handed last year for tax fraud on film rights for his Mediaset TV group.

The three-time premier has also been indicted over accusations he was involved in the publication of an illegally obtained wiretap.

In the ongoing and several other previous trials, Berlusconi has always denied wrongdoing, claiming he is the victim of a minority group of allegedly left-wing prosecutors and judges who he says are persecuting him for political reasons.

Berlusconi has been tried some 30 times but has only been convicted three times — verdicts that were either timed out or overturned on appeal — prior to the Mediaset fraud verdict.

“Now that the elections are over and the voters have once again reiterated their confidence in Berlusconi, the use of the justice system for political ends has resumed in some prosecutors’ offices,” said PdL MP Maurizio Lupi. Valter Lavitola, a former associate of Berlusconi’s, is also being probed in relation to De Gregorio’s switch.

Lavitola and Berlusconi are being probed in a separate case regarding allegations they induced a witness to lie to investigators about the alleged sex parties at the former premier’s home.

Earlier on Thursday, prosecutors in the northern city of Reggio Emilia said they had opened a probe into a letter Berlusconi sent to millions of Italians about an election pledge to pay back the IMU property-tax.

Berlusconi was accused of attempting to buy votes with the pledge by rival politicians, who complained the letter was deceptive as it looked like an official document informing people about how to obtain a rebate, rather than an election pamphlet.

The Reggio Emilia probe was opened after a member of the public lodged a complaint.

Rome prosecutors are also investigating after a similar petition.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Sicilian Priest Arrested for Suspected Sexual Abuse

Clergyman in Siracusa allegedly ‘groped’ girl in confession

(ANSA) — Palermo, February 28 — A priest in the Sicilian city of Siracusa was arrested for alleged sexual abuse on Wednesday. A court ordered the arrest of Father Gaetano Incardona, 73, after a 21-year-old member of his Madre di Augusta parish filed a complaint against the clergyman, saying that he had repeatedly “groped and kissed” a her when she went for confession.

Subsequent investigations uncovered further witnesses, police said.

The priest is under house arrest and will be questioned by magistrates in the coming days.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy’s Secret Services Says Sicilian Mafia in Struggle

Annual report issued to Italian parliament

(ANSA) — Palermo, February 28 — The Mafia in Sicily is in the midst of a power struggle, according to a report issued Thursday by Italy’s secret services.

Times seem to be hard for most Mafia bosses, says the report which highlights the “precariousness of the relationship between the components of the various (factions) of the Sicilian Mafia”.

The provinces of Trapani and Palermo are especially disorganized, said the report, issued annually to Italy’s parliament.

However, in Catania, mobsters are better organized.

In their report, the secret services also discussed the rising threat to Italy of anarchist groups.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Norway Mulls Tolerating Heroin Smoking

The Norwegian government said on Friday it wants to decriminalize the inhalation of heroin, a method considered less dangerous than injecting it, to reduce the number of overdoses in the country.

The move would make smoking heroin an offense on par with injecting it, which is illegal in Norway but tolerated. Oslo’s municipality already operates a site where heroin addicts can inject drugs under safer, more hygienic circumstances than they would have had access to otherwise.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UK: Two Held and Smoke Bombs Hurled at Police as English Defence League Confront Anti-Fascist Group

Two protesters were arrested today as smoke bombs were hurled at police during a rally by the far right English Defence League.

Hundreds of officers from Greater Manchester Police penned in the demonstrators as the left wing Unite Against Fascism held a counter demonstration.

A green smoke bomb and then a white one was thrown as police kept the groups apart at opposite ends of Albert Square in the city centre.

In the middle were officers with police dogs and they were joined later by riot police. Much of the city centre was shut to traffic for most of the day.

A couple who had planned to marry at the small register office in the square were caught up in the demonstrations and had to force their way through the crowds.

They had to contend with riot vans, dogs and EDL chants in the background of their nuptials….

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]

‘Harlem Shake’ Rocks Deeply Divided Arab World

The “Harlem Shake” internet craze has swept the Arab web, turning the peculiar electro breakdance into a protest dance against ruling Islamists in Tunis and Cairo.

After going viral in Australia, America, and the UK, the “Harlem Shake” internet craze has reached the Arab capitals. From Tunis to Beirut or Cairo, Arab youths have posted YouTube videos where one person starts dancing before the video cuts to a large group of people, in costume or in their underwear, moving frenetically to electronic music.

While in the West the “Harlem Shake” is the latest bizarre — and hilarious — internet trend, the break-dancing performances have turned into a light-hearted way to protest against Islamists in several Arab countries.

Dozens of Tunisian university students scuffled this week against Salafi extremists, who were trying to prevent them from filming what they regard as “indecent” dancing.

Some 70 Egyptian protesters also performed the “Harlem Shake” dance on the doorstep of the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in the capital Cairo on Thursday. The dancers — some of them dressed in the white robes associated to the Salafists — shouted anti-government slogans and slammed the police for arresting four pharmaceutical students who had filmed their own “Harlem Shake” dance the week before.

Several videos of the chaotic pelvis-thrusting dance have been filmed in other Arab countries as well — including ultra conservative Saudi Arabia — without stirring much controversy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Libya: Benghazi: 48 Egyptian Christians Arrested on Religious Grounds

The arrest came after a complaint by some Islamists annoyed at Christian images carried by the group of Egyptians, all street and market vendors in Benghazi. Each one forced to shave their head in punishment. For the authorities, they are illegal immigrants and their detention has nothing to do with religion.

Benghazi (AsiaNews / Agencies) — Islamists in Benghazi continue their hunt of Christian workers in the country accusing them of proselytism. The latest case concerns the arrest of 48 Egyptian Coptic Orthodox traders arrested last week in the capital of Cyrenaica. They were detained after a complaint by some Libyans, suspicious of the religious imagery on the vendors boards and stalls in the market of Benghazi. In a video immediately seized by police they appear locked in a small room watched over by men who have the typical beard worn by Salafists (see photo). From the pictures the 48 appear in an obvious state of physical deterioration, many show bruises and abrasions. Each of them had their head shaved.

The case has sparked outrage among the population of Benghazi, which in October rose up against the Salafi militias accused of having organized the attack on the U.S. consulate in which Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed. Yesterday, the authorities issued a statement in which they declare that the hawkers were arrested for violating immigration laws and not for religious reasons. However, this is yet another case of discrimination against Christians living in Libya. In mid-February four foreigners — an Egyptian, a South African, a South Korean and a Swede with a U.S. passport — were arrested on charges of distributing Bibles and other religious material.

The spread of Islamic extremism is also affecting the Catholic religious orders present for decades on Libyan territory, engaged in hospital work and looking after the elderly. In January, the Islamists prompted the flight of the Franciscan Sisters of the Infant Jesus from Barce and the Ursuline Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus from Beida. In October instead it was the turn of nuns from the Convent of the Holy Family of Spoleto in Derna, forced to leave Libya due to continuous threats from Islamic extremists, despite the opposition of the inhabitants of the city.

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

Hagia Sophia: Facts, History & Architecture

The Hagia Sophia, whose name means “holy wisdom,” is a domed monument originally built as a cathedral in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) in the sixth century A.D.

It contains two floors centered on a giant nave that has a great dome ceiling, along with smaller domes, towering above.

“Hagia Sophia’s dimensions are formidable for any structure not built of steel,” writes Helen Gardner and Fred Kleiner in their book “Gardner’s Art Through the Ages: A Global History.” “In plan it is about 270 feet (82 meters) long and 240 feet (73 meters) wide. The dome is 108 feet (33 meters) in diameter and its crown rises some 180 feet (55 meters) above the pavement.”

In its 1,400 year life-span it has served as a cathedral, mosque and now a museum. When it was first constructed, Constantinople was the capital of the Byzantine Empire. This state, officially Christian, originally formed the eastern half of the Roman Empire and carried on after the fall of Rome.

The story of the construction of the Hagia Sophia began in A.D. 532 when the Nika Riots, a great revolt, hit Constantinople. At the time Emperor Justinian I had been ruler of the empire for five years and had become unpopular. It started in the hippodrome among two chariot racing factions called the blue and green with the riot spreading throughout the city the rioters chanting “Nika,” which means “victory,” and attempting to throw out Justinian by besieging him in his palace.

“People were resentful of the high taxes that Justinian had imposed and they wanted him out of office,” said University of London historian Caroline Goodson in a National Geographic documentary. After moving loyal troops into the city Justinian managed to put down the rebellion with brute force.

In the wake of the uprising, and on the site of a torched church that had been called the Hagia Sophia, a new Hagia Sophia would be built. To the ancient writer Paul the Silentiary, who lived when the cathedral was completed, the building represented a triumph for both Justinian and Christianity.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Palestinians Suspected of Aiding Syrian Regime Hanged

(AGI) — Beirut, March 2 — Syrian rebels have hanged two Palestinians at a refugee camp near Damascus on suspicion of aiding the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. According to the rebels, the two were “accused of cooperating with the regime by identifying targets that were bombed last week,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

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

Qatar: Pre-Marriage Counselling to Lower Divorce Rate

In last four years one in three split on wedding day

(ANSAmed) — DOHA, MARCH 1 — Qatar’s Council for the family has announced it will introduce in schools and universities pre-marriage counselling and courses on family life with the objective of reducing the 15% divorce rate, Doha-based daily The Peninsula reported Friday. The president of the Centre for family counselling in Qatar, Turfa Al Naimi, said there is a growing detachment trend from families and ‘families are not strong units anymore’. The president added that the growing role played by babysitters does not help to boost family ties.

One in divorce in three in Qatar since 2009 occurred on the same day as the wedding. According to Al Naimi, one explanation is that youths are not well informed enough on marriage. Another cause for concern, Al Naimi noted, is the increasing number of people getting married at a more advanced age for the local tradition, something which could lower birth rates in a population that is already a minority compared to the number of foreigners in the country. Only 300,000 of Qatar’s overall population of 1.9 million are Qatari nationals.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Syrian Rebels Advancing on Damascus and Aleppo

SOHR reports 12 dead in Aleppo bombing, including children

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, MARCH 1 — Syrian rebels have managed to advance over the past 24 hours both in Aleppo and in Damascus, ANSAmed has been told by concurring sources from both the capital and the country’s second largest city.

In a Skype connection, the sources said that the rebels had taken control of Aleppo’s Palace of Justice in the city center after retaking the perimeter of the Umayyad Grand Mosque. In Damascus, rebels say they have taken control of the northern part of the city to the edge of the central Abbasid Square. At least 12 civilians including four children have lost their lives in regime bombing of Aleppo’s Masaken Hanano district, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). The NGO said that according to a preliminary death toll, on Friday at least 70 people, including 22 civilians, had been killed in the country. The SOHR also reported the finding of the corpses of ten men — one of whom decapitated and some killed by shots to the face — along the road between the cities of Adra Al Simaiya and Al Dumeir. It added that fighting between rebels and government forces occurred on Friday also in the Deraa, Hama and Al Kasaka provinces, while in the Aleppo province clashes are ongoing in the city of Khan Al Asal, near the police academy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Turkey: Erdogan Comments on Zionism ‘Objectionable’, UN Chief

(ANSAmed) — GENEVA, MARCH 1 — UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan’s inclusion of Zionism among “crimes of humanity” in a recent speech “objectionable”. “The secretary-general heard the prime minister’s speech through an interpreter,” Ban Ki-moon’s office said in an e- mailed statement today. “If the comment about Zionism was interpreted correctly, then it was not only wrong but contradicts the very principles on which the Alliance of Civilizations is based.” The statement was in reference to the Vienna conference of the Fifth World Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations, in which Erdogan took the podium. In the eyes of the UN secretary general, it is regrettable that such “objectionable” comments were made during a meeting which focused on “responsible leadership”. The Turkish prime minister had said that “Just like Zionism, anti-Semitism, and fascism, it becomes unavoidable that Islamophobia must be regarded as a crime against humanity.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Australia: No Room for Sharia Law in Multicultural Society

By Patricia Karvelas

ISLAMIC law and polygamous marriages will be denounced as forever unacceptable in Australia in a bipartisan parliamentary report that will define what multiculturalism means for our nation, and state there must be only “one law for all”.

The report — the result of a two-year investigation into Australia’s multicultural strategy — is understood to be critical of the limited access migrants have to English language training and the lack of cultural awareness shown by employers and the federal employment recruitment agency.

It is also understood to make the recommendation that a national multicultural research centre be established, funded by the federal government and run independently. The centre’s chief role will be to conduct research on how communities are integrating and identify their needs.

The committee believes too much crucial knowledge and information has been lost since John Howard abolished a similar body, known as the Bureau of Immigration, Multicultural and Population Research, leading to a lack of planning around how to integrate newly arrived racial communities…

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]

Denmark: Liberals: Force Immigrant Women to Work

Long-term unemployed non-western women should be forced to work.

The Liberal Social Affairs Spokesman Eyvind Vesselbo says enough is enough after a survey has shown that almost 6,000 immigrant women have been on social security for more than 10 years out of the past 15.

The number is almost 25 per cent of those who are on long-term social security.

“Unfortunately there is a widespread view that these immigrant women are weak and that it’s a pity for them. It’s an unfortunate view and a discriminating one. Taking too much consideration for this group is looking down on them and saying that there’s not much that they can do. That’s what it was like in the 90s and so nowadays we have created an unemployment culture among immigrants,” Vesselbo says.’

Asked whether the government is afraid to tackle the problem, Vesselbo says he is not sure, but nothing has been done.

“It’s probably more an unwillingness to do something about it because a large part of the government sees these women as weak, as people who cannot speak Danish and who don’t have the requirements. I don’t agree. They have been in Denmark for more than 10 years, so it can’t be right that they don’t speak Danish,” says Vesselbo , adding that these women should be forced to work.

“Danish society has the same requirements for these women to work as it does for everyone else. Everyone has the responsibility to contribute,” he says.

“One of the things we should look at is why these women are not working. Is it because their husbands won’t allow them to? If so, councils should make sure that the men are not a problem by saying that there’s no more money,” Vesselbo says.

The Liberal Alliance says that social security payments in general should be reduced as this would give immigrant women — and all others on social security — the incentive to get a job after so many years on transfer payments.

“The system has just broken down. The idea was that (social security) was the lowest transfer payment so people could keep on going for a shorter period. We are going to have to look at the amounts concerned. The higher the amount, the more people are on it,” the LA’s Joachim B. Olsen tells Ritzau.

Social Democratic Employment Minister Mette Frederiksen agrees that the current system has gone wrong and promises to do something about it.

“The idea has never been that people should remain on social security year after year and that parents should let their children grow up in families where their permanent income is social security,” Frederiksen tells Jyllands-Posten.

“In the upcoming social security reform proposal we will make sure that this cannot continue,” she says.

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

Look Who’s on Al Qaeda’s Most-Wanted List

Al Qaeda has published the latest issue of its jihadist recruitment magazine Inspire, which includes a handy, up-to-date list of all the people they hate the most. Published under the heading, “Wanted: Dead Or Alive for Crimes Against Islam,” the magazine includes the nine men and two people they’ve targeted as their biggest enemies. In case you’re not clear on what they want, exactly, the list also includes an image of one of the wanted, Koran-hating pastor Terry Jones, being shot in the head. Beneath that is the caption, “Yes We Can: A Bullet A Day Keeps the Infidel Away.”

Not subtle.

More than half the names on the list (a couple of which are misspelled) are related to various cartoon controversies that date back to 2005, when the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammed. It also include two famous Dutch politicians who have been openly critical of Islam, the man who spread the notorious “Innocence of Islam” video, Jones, and of course, Salman Rushdie.

If you’re noticing a common theme, it’s that these are not people who have killed Muslims or even waged war on al Qaeda directly. No, the greatest crime imaginable is insulting the Prophet Mohammed, which most—if not all—of these people would gladly admit to being guilty of. Presidents Obama and Bush will have to wait their turn.

Here’s the full list, with background

Geert Wilders: Founder of the Dutch “Party for Freedom”; has been quoted as saying “I don’t hate Muslims, I hate Islam.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Somali-born Dutch activist and politician; has written that “We are at war with Islam,” not just “radical Islam” and it must be defeated; married to British historian Niall Ferguson (though that’s probably not related)

Morris Sadek: Egyptian-American Coptic Christian; he spread the anti-Islam video “Innocence of Muslims” that sparked violent protests in several Muslim countries.

Carsten Juste & Flemming Rose: Editor-in-chief and cultural editors at Jyllands-Posten when the paper chose to publish cartoons mocking Mohammed.

Kurt Westergaard: Cartoonist who contributed to the Jyllands-Posten controversy; his turban-as-bomb drawing became the most famous of the cartoons.

Lars Vilks: Dutch cartoonist who published his own Mohammed drawings more than a year after the Jyllands-Posten incident.

Molly Norris: American cartoonist who proposed “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” as a protest against both censorship and the idea that images of Mohtammed should be forbidden.

Stephane Charbonnier: Editor of Charlie Hedbo, a French satirical magazine that has published several mocking images of Mohammed on its cover (and got its office firebombed as a result.)

Terry Jones: Florida preacher who has burned Korans in protest of Islam.

Salman Rushdie: The Satanic Verses, etc.

[Return to headlines]

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

  1. Well , I am really happy with the fact there is 3 danes among the 10 . Not bad for a small country .

  2. The story about the attempted infanticide via abandonment in the woods in Pennsylvania feels eeriely portentous of things to come…and it echoes that common practice in Rome’s last days…

    I don’t have the reference anymore, but I vividly remember a Chicago community organizer (no, NOT Obama) saying that while the abandonment of children by fathers was almost universal among her caseload, there was now a troubling and growing number of abandonments by mothers, too.

    That so many childless couples long for children while the carelessly fecund abandon their offspring is a sad irony in this bureaucratic and cruel culture.

  3. When children have become commodities, which is what they are these days, you can expect to see more of this.

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