Gates of Vienna News Feed 5/9/2013

A man walked out of the American embassy in Cairo today, and was set upon by an assailant who stabbed him in the neck. There’s no word on whether the attacker was obeying the Koranic instruction to “cut the necks of non-believers”.

In other news, Ariel Castro, the Cleveland kidnapper who kept three women prisoner in his home for a decade, may face the death penalty for allegedly beating one of the women when she was pregnant until the baby in her womb was killed.

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

Thanks to Insubria, JD, Jerry Gordon, MB, Papa Whiskey, Salome, Vlad Tepes, 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
» Are We on the Verge of Witnessing the Death of the Paper Gold Scam?
» Crisis-Hit EU Should Go Back to Founding Spirit, Says Bonino
» EU Will Ease Austerity to Help Growth Says Monti
» Greek Version of Anti-Euro 5-Star Movement is Founded
» Spain: +30% Business Bankruptcies in First Trimester
» All Digital Communications in the United States Are Being “Captured” By Government Surveillance Systems *video*
» American Pravda, A Nation of Lawbreakers and Benghazigate
» Are All Laws Necessary?
» Ariel Castro Threatened, Starved, Raped His Captives, Police Report Says, May Face Death
» Automated License Plate Readers Threaten Our Privacy
» Benghazi Whistleblower: ‘I’ve Been Demoted’ for Challenging Susan Rice’s Claims
» Charles Ramsey: Take That Reward and Give it to the Kidnap Victims
» Coulter: Beware of Liberals Who Come in Evangelicals’ Clothing
» CPS Takes Baby From Mother to ‘Protect Against’ Parents Seeking a Second Opinion
» Governed by Goons
» Judge Orders Conspiracy Re-Education for Lauryn Hill
» Man Charged in NY Had Connections to Canadian Terror Suspects
» Obama Backs FBI Plan Making it Easier to Surveil Internet
» Seal Team 6 Families to Blame Government for Deaths
» Sen. Manchin: Background Checks “Expand Second Amendment”
» Senate GOP Supports Remote Control Taxation
» Using Tax Dollars to Change How You Think
» Your Genes — Or Not
Europe and the EU
» Italian Highway Chief Argues for Strait of Messina Bridge
» Italy: Jewish Leader Appeals to Govt Over Priebke Tax Bill
» Italy: Archbishop Scola Speaks Out Against Blasphemy Laws
» Italy: Frattini Gets Boost in Bid to Lead NATO
» The Man With 9 Lives: 25-Year-Old Survives a Broken Neck, Four Heart Attacks, Bouts of Mrsa and Pneumonia — and Then Cancer
» UK: Outrage at Barrister Who Called Stuart Hall’s Crimes ‘Low Level’
» UK: Queen’s Speech Contains Backing for EU ‘Propaganda’ Promoting the ‘Virtues’ of Brussels
North Africa
» Benghazi Blow-by-Blow: How Obama & Hillary Left Americans to Die
» Bombshell Benghazi Testimony: Beyond Incompetence
» Egypt: American ‘Stabbed Outside Cairo Embassy’
» The Tears of Benghazi
Israel and the Palestinians
» Jerusalem Mufti Questioned for Six Hours
» Jerusalem in Good Health, Also Economically
Middle East
» Britain Lays Out Plan for Arming Syrian Rebels Amid Fears of ‘Likely’ Chemical Weapons Attack
» Could Tuesday’s Explosion at a Chemical Research Facility be a Setback in Iran’s ICBM Program?
» Free Syrian Army Rebels Defect to Islamist Group Jabhat Al-Nusra
» It’s Dishonest to Talk About Benghazi Without Talking About the Syrian War
» Lebanon: 5.8 Mln Euros in EU Funds for Infrastructure
» Syria: UN Peacekeepers Held by Rebels ‘For Their Protection’
» Syria Militants Capture UN Peacekeepers in Golan Heights
» The Real Benghazi Story: U.S. Op to Arm Al-Qaeda in Syria
Australia — Pacific
» ‘God-Only’ Man Jailed Over Sydney Riot
» UK: EU Expansion Pushes Concern Over Immigration to Highest Level Since Coalition Took Power

Are We on the Verge of Witnessing the Death of the Paper Gold Scam?

The legal claims on physical gold far exceed the amount of physical gold that the banks actually have by a very, very wide margin. And right now the bankers are scared out of their wits because their warehouses are being drained of physical gold at a frightening rate. So what happens when their physical gold is gone but they still have lots and lots of people with legal claims to gold? When that moment arrives, it will represent the end of the paper gold scam. Many believe that the recent takedown of the price of paper gold was a desperate attempt by the bankers to put off that day of reckoning, but it appears to have greatly backfired on them. Instead of cooling off demand for precious metals, it has unleashed a massive “gold rush” all over the globe. Meanwhile, word has been spreading among wealthy families in both North America and Europe that they had better grab their physical gold out of the banks while they still can. This is creating havoc in the financial community, and at least one major international bank has already declared that it will only be settling those accounts in cash from now on. The paper gold scam is starting to unravel, and by the time this is all over it is going to be a complete and total nightmare for global financial markets.

For years it has been widely known that the promises that banks have made regarding their gold far exceed their actual ability to deliver, but we have never reached a moment of such crisis before.

Posted below are quotes from people that know precious metals far better than I do. What these experts are saying is more than a little bit disturbing…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Crisis-Hit EU Should Go Back to Founding Spirit, Says Bonino

Foreign minister sees ‘alarming trends’

(ANSA) — Florence, May 9 — The European Union needs to react to the economic crisis by rediscovering its fundamental values and drawing inspiration from its founding fathers, Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino said on Thursday.

Addressing an international conference in Florence on the State of the Union, Bonino spoke of a crisis in “fundamental values” and the growth “everywhere in Europe” of intolerance, support for xenophobic and populist parties, discrimination and a weakening of the rule of law. “It is in our vital interest to react to these alarming trends”, the foreign minister said, adding that “in order to defend the construction of Europe we need to rediscover its mission”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

EU Will Ease Austerity to Help Growth Says Monti

‘Productive public investments’, ex-PM tells Florence conference

(ANSA) — Florence, May 9 — The European Union is set to ease up on austerity and allow Italy to invest to stoke growth, ex-premier Mario Monti told a Florence conference on the State of the Union Thursday.

“Much can be done to combine budget discipline and growth,” he said, adding that Italy’s likely exit from an excessive-deficit procedure would give it “significant room” to help get the economy out of its deepest recession in 20 years.

Two ways he cited were long-awaited payments of government debts to businesses and “productive public investments”.

These two “windows” had been closed by the EU but Monti’s recent emergency technocrat government had “convinced the EU with great effort to open them over the course of more than a year”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greek Version of Anti-Euro 5-Star Movement is Founded

Drachma M5S calls for eurozone exit, no more deals with EU

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, MAY 9 — The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) of Italian comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo has gained adepts in Greece, with the birth of the Drachma Greek Democratic 5-Star Movement.

According to its statute, the new movement embodies “patriotic Socialism with a human face” and is made up of “professionals and political elements that are not in bondage to the Memorandum with Europe”.

Its watchwords are “solidarity, efficiency, honesty, transparency, meritocracy” and its program focuses on “the environment and non-privileged citizens who are committed to the country’s self-development and self-promotion”.

On its agenda: “Ripping up the Memorandum signed with Europe, a return to the drachma, social justice, national dignity, and creating an alliance of Southern European countries”. The Drachma 5-Star Movement was founded by university professor Theodoros Katsanevas, a former brother-in-law to former Greek Premier George Papandreou, and journalist Stephanos Mitilineos.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Spain: +30% Business Bankruptcies in First Trimester

Insolvent families decreasing

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MAY 8 — The economic crisis and difficult access to bank credit is hitting businesses hard in Spain where, in the first trimester of 2013, 2.661 companies suspended payments or went bankrupt, a 30,1% increase from the same period in 2012 and up 13,3% from the previous trimester, according to data released Wednesday by the national statistics agency.

Only 193 families declared they were insolvent, down 30,6% from the same period in 2012, according to the statistics bureau.

Overall 2.854 indebted families and companies went bankrupt, up 22,8% from the first trimester in 2012 and up 10,4% from the previous trimester. Some 25% of companies which went bankrupt from January till March operated in the construction sector while 17% worked in trade and 16,3% in industry and energy. One in four companies that went bankrupt had been active for 20 years or more while 12,4% had been open for less than four years.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

All Digital Communications in the United States Are Being “Captured” By Government Surveillance Systems *video*

You may be reading this article in the privacy of your own home, but somewhere in a National Security Agency control center your every move is being tracked. What time you logged on this morning, the web site you visited, how long you stayed and even what you said in the comments section — all of it — has been cataloged and possibly even flagged for suspicious activity.

Several years ago, to the disbelief of many, we discussed the tracking and archivingcapabilities of advanced monitoring systems being implemented by the government. We noted that everything you do on a daily basis is being tracked.

Since then, the government has further expanded their capabilities. In fact, their ability to monitor Americans has increased to such an extent that they’ve built a data center so massive that it can store over a yottabyte of information; that’s 1 trillion terrabytes, or about 100 trillion high definition DVD’s worth of information. The NSA’s new data center is such a game changer, that it prompted one whistle blower to come forward:

Domestically, they’re pulling together all the data about virtually every U.S. citizen in the country and assembling that information, building communities that you have relationships with, and knowledge about you; what your activities are; what you’re doing.

We’re talking about every digital data bit in existence here. If it crosses an internet pipeline (and that includes your phone calls), it’s being logged.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

American Pravda, A Nation of Lawbreakers and Benghazigate

Louis Brandeis, who served on the United States Supreme Court from 1916 to 1939, once warned, “Our government teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.”

The temptation of each generation of those who value truth is to say that the leaders in power at that moment in time must be the most corrupt ever to rule. The blight of progressivism had its root in the administrations of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. Those who opposed FDR and his power grabs of the 1930s saw the roots of communism, one of the scourges of the world at that time, in much of what he did. Richard Nixon was considered by many at the time to be the most lawless president of our time. And Bill Clinton’s attempts at undermining the Constitution were only exceeded by his loutish behavior and perjury before a grand jury, which led to his impeachment.

But all these instances of duplicity pale in contrast to the serial mendacities of Barack Obama and his administration over the last four and a half years. From his breathtaking lies about immigration, gun control; the stimulus bill, government-sanctioned theft from the legitimate bondholders of General Motors to prop up the United Auto Workers; the corruption of Solyndra; murder along our southern border due to Operation Fast and Furious; the $20 billion shakedown of BP after the Gulf oil spill (where did all that money go?) and, of course, Obamacare, this president has taken deceit to a whole new level.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Are All Laws Necessary?

With more laws than any one person can read in multiple lifetimes, it is fair to say America is over-regulated

If anyone were to take the time to read the Federal Register of Laws, in which all laws passed by Congress are recorded since its first session in 1789, and they read an average of 700 pages per week, it would take them over 25,000 years to read them all, a feat impossible in multiple lifetimes.

This number becomes even more daunting every two years, since Congress passes an average of 2,000 bills into law during each session. In light of this impossible task, the old adage “ignorance of the law is no excuse” is completely unreasonable. As a matter of fact, this quantity of laws makes unwitting lawbreakers out of every person living in America. Consequently, to claim all these laws are necessary is either a gross exaggeration or an outright lie, because in many cases Congress has exceeded their constitutional authority in passing them.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Ariel Castro Threatened, Starved, Raped His Captives, Police Report Says, May Face Death

CLEVELAND — An Ohio prosecutor said Thursday he may seek the death penalty against Ariel Castro as investigators charged that he impregnated one of his captives at least five times and then starved her and punched her in the belly until she miscarried.

Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty said aggravated murder charges punishable by death could be filed related to pregnancies terminated by force.

Castro, a 52-year-old former school bus driver, is being held on $8 million bail under a suicide watch in jail, where he is charged with rape and kidnapping for allegedly abducting three women and holding them captive in his home for a decade.

A police report obtained Thursday by The Associated Press said Castro threatened, starved and raped the women. Other chilling details in the report:…

[Return to headlines]

Automated License Plate Readers Threaten Our Privacy

Law enforcement agencies are increasingly using sophisticated cameras, called “automated license plate readers” or ALPR, to scan and record the license plates of millions of cars across the country. These cameras, mounted on top of patrol cars and on city streets, can scan up to 1,800 license plate per minute, day or night, allowing one squad car to record more than 14,000 plates during the course of a single shift.

Photographing a single license plate one time on a public city street may not seem problematic, but when that data is put into a database, combined with other scans of that same plate on other city streets, and stored forever, it can become very revealing. Information about your location over time can show not only where you live and work, but your political and religious beliefs, your social and sexual habits, your visits to the doctor, and your associations with others. And, according to recent research reported in Nature, it’s possible to identify 95% of individuals with as few as four randomly selected geospatial datapoints (location + time), making location data the ultimate biometric identifier.

To better gauge the real threat to privacy posed by ALPR, EFF and the ACLU of Southern California asked LAPD and LASD for information on their systems, including their policies on retaining and sharing information and all the license plate data each department collected over the course of a single week in 2012. After both agencies refused to release most of the records we asked for, we sued. We hope to get access to this data, both to show just how much data the agencies are collecting and how revealing it can be.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Benghazi Whistleblower: ‘I’ve Been Demoted’ for Challenging Susan Rice’s Claims

Gregory Hicks, former deputy chief of mission in Benghazi, told Congress today that a State Department official began criticizing his job performance, and he was ultimately demoted, after he asked why U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice attributed the Benghazi attack to an anti-Islamic Youtube video.

“In hindsight, I think it began after I asked the question about Ambassador Rice’s statement on the TV shows,” Hicks said of the criticism during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the attack today.

Hicks said he asked Assistant Secretary Beth Jones why Rice made the statements that she did on the 9/16/13 Sunday talk shows.

“Her reaction was ‘I don’t know,’ and it was very clear from the tone that I should not proceed with any further [questions],” he told lawmakers.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Charles Ramsey: Take That Reward and Give it to the Kidnap Victims

“Because there’s a lot of people, they’re saying you’re a hero,” the CNN host noted.

“No, no, no. Bro, I’m a Christian, an American, and just like you,” Ramsey insisted. “We bleed same blood, put our pants on the same way. It’s just that you got to put that — being a coward, and I don’t want to get in nobody’s business. You got to put that away for a minute. You have to have cajones, bro.”

Cooper noted that the FBI had offered a reward for at least two of the victims.

“I tell you what you do, give it to them,” Ramsey said. “Because if folks been following this case since last night, you been following me since last night, you know I got a job anyway.”

[Return to headlines]

Coulter: Beware of Liberals Who Come in Evangelicals’ Clothing

Every few months since at least 2006, The New York Times takes time out from brow-beating Evangelicals to praise them for supporting amnesty for illegal aliens.Most of the “Evangelicals” the Times cites are liberal frauds, far from “unlikely allies” in amnesty, as alleged. It is a specialty of the left to pose as something they’re not in order to create the impression of a zeitgeist. The only one I haven’t seen quoted yet is the ACLU’s minister, Barry Lynn.

The Times keeps touting Evangelicals for Amnesty as evidence of a “shift,” a “change of heart” and a “secret weapon.” Breaking the same news story every two months since 2006 isn’t a shift; it’s propaganda.

Any Evangelical promoting the McCain-Rubio amnesty plan has the moral framework of Planned Parenthood. Like the abortion lobby, they have boundless compassion for the people they can see, but none for those they can’t see.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

CPS Takes Baby From Mother to ‘Protect Against’ Parents Seeking a Second Opinion

Alex and Anna Nikolayev, parents of five-month old Sammy, entered Sutter Memorial Hospital for assessment of their son’s flu-like symptoms. Sutter doctors recommended heart surgery for the heart murmur Sammy has had since he was born.

The Nikolayevs left the hospital without a formal discharge, and went to a different hospital, Kaiser, for a second opinion. Both a doctor and a police officer cleared that Sammy was not in any danger by remaining in his parents’ care, and the family went home.

But the following day, armed police arrived at the family’s private home and demanded, at gun point, that the baby be handed over, without a warrant. The officers specifically informed the Nikolayevs that they would not be told what location the baby would be relocated to.

The home video clearly shows that police, who arrived at the home in numbers, showing their overwhelming force, used the stern phrase, “I’m going to grab your baby, don’t resist.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Governed by Goons

State senators in New York are dropping like flies, casualties of the latest bribery probe. In Washington, D.C., a presidential spokesman blows off the murder of America’s ambassador to Libya, last September, with “Oh, that was a long time ago.” In Texas, school officials refuse to let parents see the curriculum being taught to their children unless they pay for the privilege.

At every level, everywhere you look, public officials, elected and appointed, dazzle us with their displays of towering stupidity, clueless arrogance, and cheap venality. It’s as if you have to demonstrate a truly high capacity for baseness, incompetence, and overweening pride before you can even be considered for a public office, nowadays.

We are here to pay special honor to the Chief Electoral Officer of British Columbia, Dr. Keith Archer. In a teeming mob of idiots, he stands out like a colossus.

This man occupies “a non-partisan office of the legislature,” according to the government website, and his job is the “fair, impartial, and efficient administration of provincial elections.” Please remember those words: non-partisan, fair, impartial.

The following is a transcript of a public service message from Dr. Archer’s office, and has been aired on television and youtube. It’s short, so I’ll quote the whole thing.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Judge Orders Conspiracy Re-Education for Lauryn Hill

Grammy award-winning singer Lauren Hill has been ordered by a judge to “undergo counseling because of her conspiracy theories.” What was her conspiracy theory? That the music industry oppresses people with actual talent in favor of pumping out mindless nonsense.

Yesterday Hill was sentenced to 3 months in jail followed by three months’ home confinement after failing to pay a tax bill because she had withdrawn from society following threats to her family.

In June last year, Hill posted a diatribe to her Tumblr account complaining of how the music industry is “manipulated and controlled by a media protected military industrial complex.”

As we’ve highlighted numerous times in the past, other recording artists have made it clear that anyone who doesn’t conform to the strict demands of the music industry or even, as Nicole Scherzinger recently remarked, sell their soul to satan, tends to find success hard to maintain in an industry that punishes individuals who dare to speak their mind.

In numerous performances and speeches over the last few years, Hill has attempted to warn young people about how “pop culture cannibalism” and the deliberate reductionism of art and music is damaging a whole generation and turning them into passive, unthinking consumers — destroying inspiration and true creativity in the name of profit.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Man Charged in NY Had Connections to Canadian Terror Suspects

A Tunisian man has been charged in New York for lying about his work visa because he wanted to facilitate “an act of terrorism” and authorities say he had connections to the thwarted terror plot that involved derailing a passenger train near the Canadian border.

Federal prosecutors said Thursday that the man has ties to the two suspects arrested recently in what the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said was an “al-Qaida-supported” plot.

Law enforcement sources tell NBC 4 New York that Ahmed Abassi met with the Canadian terror suspects and may have helped to radicalize them. The charges Thursday said he lied about his visa documents in an effort to “facilitate an act of international terrorism.”

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Abassi “had an evil purpose for seeking to remain in the United States — to commit acts of terror and develop a network of terrorists here, and to use this country as a base to support the efforts of terrorists internationally.”

Prosecutors said Abassi helped radicalize one of the Canada suspects. Lawyer information for Abassi was not immediately available.

Authorities said the Canada plot involved targeting the railway that is operated by Via in Canada and Amtrak in the U.S., and multiple sources familiar with the investigation have said the suspects may have scouted Amtrak trains out of New York City.

The alleged plot entailed blowing up a bridge near Niagara Falls as the train tried to cross.

Officials stressed that those suspects were under surveillance for more than a year and that there was never any threat to public safety. They say the attack was “in the planning stage” and was not imminent.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

Obama Backs FBI Plan Making it Easier to Surveil Internet

The Obama administration, resolving years of internal debate, is on the verge of backing a Federal Bureau of Investigation plan for a sweeping overhaul of surveillance laws that would make it easier to wiretap people who communicate using the Internet rather than by traditional phone services, according to officials familiar with the deliberations.

The F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, has argued that the bureau’s ability to carry out court-approved eavesdropping on suspects is “going dark” as communications technology evolves, and since 2010 has pushed for a legal mandate requiring companies like Facebook and Google to build into their instant-messaging and other such systems a capacity to comply with wiretap orders. That proposal, however, bogged down amid concerns by other agencies, like the Commerce Department, about quashing Silicon Valley innovation.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Seal Team 6 Families to Blame Government for Deaths

“Never before revealed information” to be aired at press conference

Families of the SEAL Team 6 members who were killed when their helicopter crashed in Afghanistan in August 2011 are set to give a press conference tomorrow during which they will hold the Obama administration partially responsible for the deaths of their sons.

With the administration already reeling over today’s Benghazi revelations, a press release on the ‘Tea Party Command Center’ website promises “never before revealed information” about the circumstances behind the incident.

“Accompanying the families of these dead Navy SEAL Team VI special operations servicemen will be retired military experts verifying their accounts of how and why the government is as much responsible for the deaths of their sons as is the Taliban,” states the press release…

Perhaps even more controversially, the family members are set to reveal how a Muslim cleric attended the funerals of the service members and disparaged them by “damning them as infidels to Allah.” The press release states that a video documenting this will be played to members of the press tomorrow.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Sen. Manchin: Background Checks “Expand Second Amendment”

Democrat Senator Joe Manchin is trying to get another background check bill through the Senate following last month’s defeat of a bill he introduced with Republican Senator Patrick Toomey.

“I truly believe the background check bill is possible to get passed,” Manchin told CBS News on Tuesday.

He also tried to sell the idea that laws restricting and regulating the Second Amendment actually expand it. Manchin said it is the job of Democrats in Congress to educate Americans who exercise the right to own firearms about this new interpretation of the Second Amendment.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Senate GOP Supports Remote Control Taxation

States could withhold a percentage of your paycheck each year to cover the estimated amount you would pay in online sales tax. (Does term ‘withholding’ ring a ball?) At the end of the year you could file a return with receipts from online purchases and if you spent less than the state estimated, you would get two refunds, instead of just one!

Somehow state politicians don’t think this idea would be too popular. Instead they want the federal government to force online retailers who don’t have a location in their state, don’t use any services in their state and don’t have any representation in their state to collect taxes for their state. And if they don’t, the state will seize the company’s property through court proceedings in a state where the company isn’t located. It’s remote control taxation without representation.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Using Tax Dollars to Change How You Think

USA TODAY approves of the president’s plan to create and distribute TV, radio and print ads promoting gun safety. The Editorial Board believes that these ads would save lives by reminding gun owners to store and handle firearms responsibly.

What could possibly go wrong?

Millions of gun owners believe that the administration will use the public safety announcements (PSAs) as a launching pad for a campaign to make gun ownership socially unacceptable. Now where would they get that idea?

In 1995, then-U.S. Attorney Eric Holder called for an “informational campaign” to “change the way people think about guns … in the way which we’ve changed our attitudes about cigarettes.” Holder, who is now attorney general, asserted that the government needs to “brainwash people into thinking about guns in a vastly different way.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Your Genes — Or Not

Allowing any genes to be patented would be a mistake

The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing an interesting case. It’s about your genes or, more accurately, the question as to who owns them.

A company claims to have unravelled the biochemical codes of certain human genes which are said to be specifically associated with breast and ovarian cancer in women. The mutation of such genes, so it is claimed, is responsible for increased risks to such cancers. The company which has determined the biochemical code wants to protect its turf, i.e. the right to sue any competitor using such information to cure, prevent, or mitigate the diseases. The American Civil Liberties Union is suing.

Lower court rulings have already been decided on both sides of the issue. Now the Supreme Court is deliberating it. Ultimately, the question to be decided is: Who owns your genes? A corollary of that is the question whether human genes or their biochemical codes can be patented at all.

As Jeffrey Tucker writes in Tomorrow in Review, the U.S. Supreme Court is soon going to decide on one of the most contentious issues in medical science: “Can human genes be patented and to what technologies can those patents be extended to cover?”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Italian Highway Chief Argues for Strait of Messina Bridge

Says EU’s Helsinki-Valletta corridor not feasible without it

(ANSA) — Rome, May 8 — Italy’s highway system chief on Wednesday said European plans for the Helsinki-Valletta corridor requires the resuscitation of the nearly dead mega-project of building a bridge across the Strait of Messina.

“The Helsinki-Valletta corridor appears little plausible without a road connection from Naples onward,” wrote Pietro Ciucci, CEO of Italy’s state-controlled highway infrastructure firm ANAS.

Ciucci observed that that European Union does not specify “how to connect Calabria to Sicily, and thus remains the necessity of a bridge across the Strait: rail, but also road”.

Last Thursday, Italian Industry Minister Flavio Zanonato said building a bridge across the Strait of Messina to connect mainland Italy to Sicily, an erstwhile dream of former premier Silvio Berlusconi, is not a priority for the new government given the current economic climate.

Italy’s grand-coalition government, which was sworn in on Sunday, is facing huge challenges with the country in the midst of its longest recession in 20 years.

Speaking to state broadcaster’s Radio 2 programme, Zanonato said that while the bridge was an interesting project, it “is absolutely not a priority for Italy”.

The idea of building a bridge to link the island of Sicily to the Italian peninsula goes back to Roman times, but modern engineering and planning took shape in the 1950s and 1960s.

But it was Berlusconi who championed actually undertaking the massively ambitious 8.5-billion-euro suspension bridge.

Last year the technocrat government of former premier Mario Monti, who replaced Berlusconi during a peak in the euro crisis in November 2011, decided not to cancel the controversial bridge project but to extend feasibility tests for another two years.

Supporters say the bridge would create jobs and boost Italy’s image while bringing Sicily closer to the mainland.

But the bridge has been opposed by environmentalists and dogged by concerns over safety and the potential involvement of the Mafia.

The 3,690-metre-long bridge has been designed to handle 4,500 cars and hour and 200 trains a day.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Jewish Leader Appeals to Govt Over Priebke Tax Bill

Journalist accused of defaming former Nazi also asked to pay up

(ANSA) — Rome, May 8 — The head of Rome’s Jewish community is appealing a tax bill arising from a court case involving former German SS officer Erich Priebke that dates back 17 years.

Riccardo Pacifici is asking the new Minister of Justice Anna Maria Cancellieri to intervene in the case, “on a matter of principle” after he received the 300-euro tax bill.

It arose after Priebke, imprisoned in Rome for his role in the 1944 massacre of more than 335 Italians, unsuccessfully sued Pacifici and journalist Walter Vecellio.

Pacifici said he has no quarrel with the tax agency Equitalia, which unsuccessfully tried to collect the bill from Priebke, now 99, who claims jail has left him destitute.

The former SS officer claimed he was defamed by Vecellio, who called him an “executioner” in a 1996 article.

Vecellio, who like Pacifici received a copy of the tax bill, is also appealing to the government to intervene. Priebke was extradited from Argentina in 1995 and sentenced to life for his part in the 1944 reprisal that occurred outside of Rome at the Fosse Ardeatine where German soldiers killed 335 men and boys including many Jews.

Priebke has been living under house arrest in Rome.

He had a work permit revoked in 2007 after an outcry from the city’s Jewish community.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Archbishop Scola Speaks Out Against Blasphemy Laws

‘A litmus test for religious freedom’

(ANSA) — Milan, May 8 — Milan Archbishop Angelo Scola on Wednesday spoke out against blasphemy laws in the world in order to protect religious freedom. “In those countries still dominated by state religion…protecting religious freedom means above all encouraging religious pluralism and opening to all forms of religious expression, for example eliminating laws that criminally punish blasphemy,” said Scola.

The cardinal, once considered a favorite to become pope, was speaking at a conference devoted to the Roman emperor Constantine, whose Edict of Milan in 313 decriminalized Christianity. His words come just two days after Islamists in the capital of Bangladesh clashed with police, leaving at least 29 dead, over demands that included making “insulting Islam” punishable by death. Scola promoted “the values of healthy secularism” that allows for all religious expression. In turn, he warned the west away from its “inherent distrust” of religion. “The practice of religious freedom is a true litmus test of the degree of civilization of a society,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Frattini Gets Boost in Bid to Lead NATO

Ex-foreign minister ‘profoundly honored’ by president’s support

(ANSA) — Florence, May 9 — Former foreign minister Franco Frattini on Thursday said he was “profoundly honored” to have the support of the Italian president and the premier in his bid to become NATO secretary-general.

Speaking on the sidelines of an international conference in Florence on the state of the European Union, Frattini said he also appreciated the support of the previous technocratic administration of Mario Monti, which was replaced last month by Enrico Letta’s left-right coalition. Sitting NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen completes his term in June next year. Talks surrounding his successor officially begin this fall.

Analysts say Frattini, who served under ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, is among the most credible candidates.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

The Man With 9 Lives: 25-Year-Old Survives a Broken Neck, Four Heart Attacks, Bouts of Mrsa and Pneumonia — and Then Cancer

Meet Matthew Hawksley — the man with nine lives.

In a tale of survival that would make the most death-defying cat jealous, the 25-year-old has come through a catalogue of life-threatening dramas.

In all, he has cheated death eight times — surviving a broken neck, heart attacks, MRSA, pneumonia and cancer.

Now on his ‘ninth life’, he describes himself as ‘the unluckiest man I know, but the luckiest man in Britain’ over his string of escapes.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Outrage at Barrister Who Called Stuart Hall’s Crimes ‘Low Level’

[WARNING: ** Disturbing Content **]

Stuart Hall’s sex crimes were low-level misdemeanours, a leading barrister claimed yesterday.

In comments that provoked outrage, Barbara Hewson called for the age of consent to be cut to 13 and for an end to the ‘persecution of old men’.

She said Scotland Yard’s Operation Yewtree, which is investigating the crimes of Jimmy Savile and allegations against other celebrities, had ‘nothing to do with justice’.

She added that ‘the post-Savile witch-hunting of ageing celebs echoes the Soviet Union’ and it was not difficult to see why some elderly defendants ‘conclude that resistance is useless’.

Miss Hewson, who is an abortion rights specialist, said the arrests of Rolf Harris, Dave Lee Travis, Jim Davidson and Max Clifford were driven by the need to produce ‘scapegoats on demand’…

But Susan Harrison, 61, who was indecently assaulted by Hall when she was 16, said it was wrong to make light of his crimes.

‘To call them low-level misdemeanours is not only incredibly hurtful to all the victims it is also utterly ridiculous,’ she said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Queen’s Speech Contains Backing for EU ‘Propaganda’ Promoting the ‘Virtues’ of Brussels

Britain is to sign off taxpayer-funded ‘propaganda’ to promote the virtues European Union despite growing calls to quit Brussels altogether.

Tory MPs had called on David Cameron to bring forward legislation in today’s Queen’s Speech for his promised in-out referendum.

But instead, buried in the small print, was a plan for the UK to authorise the Europe for Citizens scheme which aims to ‘develop understanding of the EU’.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Benghazi Blow-by-Blow: How Obama & Hillary Left Americans to Die

Wednesday on Capitol Hill, three impeccable witnesses offered the clearest evidence to date that the Obama administration’s response to Benghazi before, during and after the terrorist attack that claimed the lives of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, State Department employee Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Glen A. Doherty and Tyrone S. Woods, was a deadly combination of ineptitude, political calculations, and outright lying.

Mark Thompson, acting deputy assistant Secretary of State for counterterrorism; Greg Hicks, former deputy chief of mission in Libya; and Eric Nordstrom, former regional security officer in Libya, offered unshakeable testimony, despite efforts by several Democratic lawmakers to protect both the current administration and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, their party’s most viable presidential candidate for 2016. What the witnesses averred reveals a grim web of deceit likely orchestrated by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to cover up the order to ground U.S. rescue teams that could have easily saved our besieged countrymen in Benghazi.

Some of the most compelling and emotional testimony was provided by Hicks, who offered the House Oversight and Government Reform committee a damning blow-by-blow account of the September 11, 2012 attack: In Tripoli at the time, Hicks recounted how he had spoken with Stevens early in the evening, and there was no sign of unusual activity. After relaxing for a while, he got an alert that Benghazi was under attack. When he checked his cell phone he saw two numbers, one of which he didn’t recognize. He called that number first and got Stevens on the phone. “Greg! We’re under attack!” said Stevens, according to Mr. Hicks.

[Comment: Excellent summary of testimony and events. Well worth reading the whole article.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Bombshell Benghazi Testimony: Beyond Incompetence

On Wednesday, the famed Benghazi “whistle blowers” testified before The House Oversight and Reform Committee, and what they had to say should have every single media outlet burning the midnight oil to get the story out. The testimony was detailed, emotional, and riveting. More importantly, the testimony painted a picture of a series of events that goes beyond incompetence. What we are looking at is political corruption that led to the death of four Americans.

One of the key witnesses was Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya Greg Hicks. Greg was there. He was in the middle of it all, and he became the highest ranking representative of the U.S. in Libya when his boss, Ambassador Chris Stevens, was murdered.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Egypt: American ‘Stabbed Outside Cairo Embassy’

AFP — An American was stabbed in the neck as he came out of the US embassy in central Cairo on Thursday, a security official told AFP.


The motive for the attack and the condition of the victim national remain unclear.

[Motive unclear? Not if you consult the ignoble Qur’an; specifically, verse 8:12 (I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks) and verse 47:4 (when ye meet the Unbelievers, smite at their necks). — PW]

           — Hat tip: Papa Whiskey [Return to headlines]

The Tears of Benghazi

The question is, where’s the accountability for lying to the American people?

On Wednesday, on Capitol Hill, three men, Greg Hicks who was deputy chief of mission in Libya, second in command to the assassinated Ambassador, Chris Stevens; Eric Nordstrom, a diplomatic security officer who was formerly the regional security officer in Libya; and Mark Thompson, a former Marine and an official with the State Department’s Counterterrorism Bureau; sat at a table and gave short statements followed by answers to the questions they were asked.

In real life, heroes often look like someone in middle management. It was wrong — even demeaning — for the media to call them “whistle blowers.” These men were patriots. Who else would go to a war zone to represent their nation or to protect its highest diplomat there?

At the hearing they wore suits and ties. And, when called on to tell the truth, they sometimes choked up from the mix of emotions that flowed through them from memories of colleagues lost in combat and the awful realization that the nation for which they put their lives on the line, the nation they served with honor, left them defenseless to come to the aid of those colleagues…

What emerged from the hearings was the failure and the refusal of the State Department, the CIA, and the Department of Defense to activate any of the resources they had to send any forces to defend the consulate. Someone had to make a conscious choice to do that. Someone had to tell those forces to “stand down.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Jerusalem Mufti Questioned for Six Hours

(ANSAmed) — Jerusalem, May 8 — Israeli police on Wednesday released the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Hussein, after six hours of questioning.

Hussein was taken to a police station early Wednesday and questioned over several recent incidents near the Al-Aqsa mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem, police sources said.

The Mufti is the highest religious authority in the Palestinian Territories. Police said their inquiries were continuing.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Jerusalem in Good Health, Also Economically

Report, citizens ‘happiest’ of country but youths leave

(by Massimo Lomonaco) (ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM — Jerusalem appears to enjoy good health and not just economically: its citizens say they are ‘the happiest’ in Israel, much more satisfied than those living in swinging Tel Aviv or industrious Haifa, according to a report by the Israeli national statistics agency. The survey however also showed that ‘cultured and secular’ youths leave the city after studying there. In spite of widespread difficulties and tensions — on Tuesday nationalist Jews clashed with police and Muslim pilgrims on Temple Mount — the report showed a city which is growing and offering new opportunities to citizens, with Judaism as a point of reference.

The survey’s results were released on the eve of the 46th anniversary of Jerusalem Day, celebrated since the 1967 war in which Israel extended its sovereignty over the whole urban area including the Arab East. Ever since then, Jerusalem as a whole was declared Israeli capital, a decision however not recognized by the international community.

The report stressed the current ‘positive economic climate’: in 2012, 17.000 new jobs were created which, in addition to the almost 30.000 generated between 2007 and 2009, include 50.000 new jobs for citizens. This reflected on the fact that 88% said they were ‘satisfied’ with their city, 2% more than in Tel Aviv, 4% more than Haifa and 8% more than Asdod.

Moreover, 59% of residents were satisfied with their economic situation, well over the 55% average.

Jerusalem — the largest urban centre in Israel — has 800.000 inhabitants, according to the survey’s data, of whom only 500.000 are Jews. The majority said they were ‘religious on various levels’ while 32% were ‘haredi’, conservative Orthodox Jews, a significant number compared to the 8% average in the other major cities. This growing religious presence along with protracted tensions over security and the ‘slow’ pace of life contributed to a negative detail highlighted by the report: students leave the city after completing their degrees. In spite of efforts by the city administration and NGOs focusing on the problem, ‘educated and secular’ youths leave. In the past few year, out of a student population of some 37,000, only some 12.000 chose to stay.

‘Young people come here to study but most of them decides to leave’, said an NGO chief quoted by local media. In the 1970s young people chose to remain in Jerusalem after getting a degree while after more than two decades ‘the growing religious presence and terrorism’ overturned the trend, added the NGO official. Another cause is the cost of life which is higher, for example, than in Tel Aviv.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Britain Lays Out Plan for Arming Syrian Rebels Amid Fears of ‘Likely’ Chemical Weapons Attack

A confidential paper, seen by The Daily Telegraph, sets out the case for two “options” allowing Britain and France to start supplying arms to the official Syrian opposition as early as June.

“The situation in Syria is deteriorating sharply. With the likely use of chemical weapons and the growth of extremism, the conflict has entered an even more dangerous phase,” the paper argues.

“We must consider all the options, [including] the ability to give further assistance to the moderate Syrian opposition. It will also protect civilians, and save lives. Crucially, it will ensure we can respond flexibly to a major escalation in the conflict, such as chemical weapons attacks.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Could Tuesday’s Explosion at a Chemical Research Facility be a Setback in Iran’s ICBM Program?

Israel Defense, reported on the massive explosions Tuesday at the Raja-Shimi military chemical research facility near Tehran. Those explosions were clearly heard across the capital of the Islamic Republic. Ronen Solomon of Israel Defense noted in his article, “Explosion at Iranian Military Chemical Complex,” that the explosions occurred not far from the Missile test facility that blew up under mysterious circumstances in November 2011. See our Iconoclast post in early December 2011.Two explosions two years apart within a few kiloomters of one another is not a coincidence. It may perhaps have been a covert attack. That attack could disable the Islamic Republic’s development of their own version of the North Korean BM-25’s. Missles capable of hitting targets throughout Europe and Israel. At issue is whether Israel had the means of accomplishing that remotely, whether via a kamikaze drone attack or a Stuxnet malworm triggering the devastating explosions that occurred on Tuesday.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

Free Syrian Army Rebels Defect to Islamist Group Jabhat Al-Nusra

Syria’s main armed opposition group, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), is losing fighters and capabilities to Jabhat al-Nusra, an Islamist organisation with links to al-Qaida that is emerging as the best-equipped, financed and motivated force fighting Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Evidence of the growing strength of al-Nusra, gathered from Guardian interviews with FSA commanders across Syria, underlines the dilemma for the US, Britain and other governments as they ponder the question of arming anti-Assad rebels.

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, said that if negotiations went ahead between the Syrian government and the opposition — as the US and Russia proposed on Tuesday — “then hopefully [arming the Syrian rebels] would not be necessary”.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

It’s Dishonest to Talk About Benghazi Without Talking About the Syrian War

According to Democrats, today’s Congressional hearings on Benghazi are nothing but a partisan witch hunt.

According to Republicans, the Obama administration committed treason in it’s handling of Benghazi … and then tried to cover it up.

Both parties are avoiding the bigger picture … The fact that Democrats and Republicans alike have been using Benghazi as the center of U.S. efforts to arm the Al Qaeda-affiliated Syrian rebels.

Specifically, the U.S. supported opposition which overthrew Libya’s Gadaffi was largely comprised of Al Qaeda terrorists.

Al Qaeda is now largely in control of Libya. Indeed, Al Qaeda flags were flown over the Benghazi courthouse once Gaddafi was toppled.

(Incidentally, Gaddafi was on the verge of invading Benghazi in 2011, 4 years after the West Point report cited Benghazi as a hotbed of Al Qaeda terrorists. Gaddafi claimed — rightly it turns out — that Benghazi was an Al Qaeda stronghold and a main source of the Libyan rebellion. But NATO planes stopped him, and protected Benghazi.)

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Lebanon: 5.8 Mln Euros in EU Funds for Infrastructure

Part of a 14 mln private sector programme

(ANSAmed) — Beirut, 8 May — The European Union and the Lebanese ministry of economy and commerce have launched the third phase of the Qualeb Programme, a joint project to strengthen infrastructure in Lebanon. The EU will provide a total of 5.8 million euros for the projects.

The third phase of the Qualeb Programme, worth a total of 4.4 million euros, is aimed at adapting Lebanese products and services to international standards.

The EU will also provide 1.4 million euros for a joint project between the British Standards Institution Royal Charter and the Czech Office for Standards, Metrology and Testing to improve the country’s infrastructure network.

The two projects are part of a broader effort by the European Union to spend a total of 14 million euros to support Lebanon and its competitiveness in the private sector, in particular for small and medium enterprises. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Syria: UN Peacekeepers Held by Rebels ‘For Their Protection’

Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade releases picture of four soldiers

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, MAY 7 — Syrian rebels in south-western Syria announced on Tuesday they were ‘ensuring the protection’ of four abducted UN peacekeepers deployed between Syria and Israeli-held Golan Heights. The group, the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, posted a picture of the four UN peacekeepers.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Syria Militants Capture UN Peacekeepers in Golan Heights

Militants fighting against the Syrian government have abducted a group of UN peacekeepers monitoring the ceasefire line between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

According to Reuters news agency, a militant group operating in Syria issued a statement on Tuesday saying it was holding the four peacekeepers.

The statement said the peacekeepers were being held for their own safety because of clashes in the separation zone between Syria and the Israeli-occupied heights.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Real Benghazi Story: U.S. Op to Arm Al-Qaeda in Syria

Last November, we reported that the murder of ambassador Christopher Stevens wasn’t about a lame anti-Muslim video. It was connected to an arms shipment as part of the on-going “creative destruction” of the Middle East and North Africa.

During an interview with CNBC’s Larry Kudlow, radio talk show host John Baxter said the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus had nothing to do with an extramarital affair with his biographer, reserve Army officer Paula Broadwell, but was related to U.S. policy in the Middle East, ongoing “color revolutions” in the region, and specifically the operation underway to arm al-Qaeda in Syria and overthrow the al-Assad regime.

“Benghazi is not about Libya, Benghazi is about the policy of the Obama administration to involve the United States without clarity to the American people, not only in Libya but throughout the whole of the Arab world now in turmoil,” Baxter told Kudlow. “Benghazi is about the NSC directing an operation that is perhaps shadowy, perhaps a presidential finding, perhaps doesn’t, that takes arms and men and puts them into Syria in the guise of the Free Syria Army.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

‘God-Only’ Man Jailed Over Sydney Riot

A DEVOUT religious man who “only stands for God” has been jailed for a minimum of almost three years for his part in a Sydney riot during which he kicked a celebrated police dog.

Mahmoud Eid, 26, refused to sit down while Deputy Chief Magistrate Jane Culver delivered her sentencing remarks so that he would not have to stand to receive his punishment.

“He only stands for God,” his lawyer Elie Rahme told the court.

Eid was dealt a maximum sentence of four years and one month with a non-parole period of two years and nine months, making him the first of 12 people charged over the riot in last September to be jailed.

Ms Culver cut Mr Rahme off when he started to discuss the religious anxiety that led to the protests that turned violent.

“I don’t want a platform for politicisation,” she said. “I’m strictly looking at criminal activity.”

Eid previously pleaded guilty to riot, assaulting a policewoman and kicking Chuck, the police dog who on another occasion helped catch Malcolm Naden.

“Freedom of speech can never justify large scale and very serious public violence,” the magistrate told the court.

She acknowledged that Eid had anger management issues but noted his violent actions took place over a number of hours and at number of locations in the CBD.

The court also heard he served jail time for his part in the reprisal attacks after the Cronulla riots in 2005.

“It is clear that the offender has engaged in similar conduct in the past,” Magistrate Culver said.

Worldwide revolt, including the Sydney riot, resulted when the US film mocking the prophet Mohammed was posted on the internet.

Outside court, Mr Rahme said he was not expecting a four-year jail sentence but could not predict if his client will appeal.

“It’s a fairly heavy penalty.” he told reporters.

           — Hat tip: Salome [Return to headlines]

UK: EU Expansion Pushes Concern Over Immigration to Highest Level Since Coalition Took Power

Concern over immigration has hit the highest level since the Coalition took power, according to new figures.

More than 57 per cent of people surveyed by YouGov said that immigration is one of the three most important issues facing Britain today, a rise of 11 per cent on this time last year.

Immigration was second only to the economy, which has remained Briton’s top concern for the last three years.

When asked about what concerned them personally, 51 per cent of people were worried that over the next two years they would lose their jobs to foreign workers.

Experts say the steady rise over the last year is in part down to the expansion of the EU to include Bulgaria and Romania…

           — Hat tip: MB [Return to headlines]

One thought on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 5/9/2013

  1. I don’t think A. Castro should be convicted to death. That would be, in my opinion, unjust and unfair.

    I think he should be locked up in the deepest dungeon, never to see daylight or talk to a human person again, to listen his brains slowly corrode. When he finally died, he should be buried in an unmarked grave face down, without honor or funeral, without anyone to grieve or notice his passing, as if he had never excisted.

    Alternatively, he could be locked up in his own dungeon and treated as he treated others.

    One concession I would make.. he should be offered all the medical care possible, to make sure he lives his full time.

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