Gates of Vienna News Feed 6/6/2013

I dragged myself out of my sickbed to gather all the material from emails and build the news feed with it. I think I’m on the mend now, but it wore me out just to do that. With luck, we’ll return to normal programming tomorrow.

The most interesting news stories concern the ongoing demonstrations in Turkey. Erdogan’s return from North Africa is sure to liven things up.

Also worth noting is the appointment of Samantha Power as the United States’ ambassador to the UN.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Erick Stakelbeck, Insubria, JD, JP, McR, 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
» Eurozone: Merkollande Takes the Controls
» Greece: Bill on Loans Moratorium Splits Parties in Coalition
» Greece: Tourism Provides a Ray of Hope Expert Says
» Greece: Troika Concerned by Delay in Tax Collection
» Greece: IMF Review of Bailout Highlights a Series of Errors
» Italian Banks Cut Company Credit by 44 Bln in 2012, Says S&P
» An Israel-Hater Heads to the U.N.
» Court Order Indicates US Secretly Collecting Business Communications
» From Verizon’s ‘Can You Hear Me Now’ To NSA’s “Yes, Every Eavesdropped Word”
» Gov. Chris Christie Names Attorney General of New Jersey as Interim U.S. Senator
» Governed by Sociopaths
» It Gets Worse: Tech Giants Reportedly Share Shocking Amount of User Data With the Government
» Lindsey Graham Isn’t Sure if Bloggers Deserve ‘First Amendment Protection’
» Obama Picks Libya War Architect for U.N. Ambassador
» President Obama Chooses Left-Wing Samantha Power for UN Ambassador Post
» Stakelbeck: Muslim Brotherhood Foothold in Boston
» The Stunning Decline of Barack Obama: 2013. Ten Key Reasons Why the Obama Presidency is in Meltdown
Europe and the EU
» European Commission: ‘Major European Countries Resist Brussels Dikats’
» French Activist Dies After Fight With Skinheads
» Italy: Govt to Issue Decree on Revamping ILVA Steelworks
» Italy: Bossi Lashes Out at Maroni in Ongoing Northern League Spat
» Italy: Bolt Says Balotelli Too Aggressive for Him
» Italy ‘Closely Watching’ China’s EU Wine Investigation
» Italy Retrieved 12.5 Billion From Tax Dodgers in 2012
» Sweden: How My City Went Under
» UK: Child Porn Teacher is Allowed Back in the Classroom: Alarm as Re Master Escapes Ban
» UK: EDL Hate Messages as Leaders Call for Peace After Muswell Hill Mosque is Burnt to the Ground
» UK: Fresh Concerns Over Radicalising Influence of Gym Used by Islamic Terror Group
» UK: Islamic Terror Group Planned to Spark Race War With Bomb Attack on EDL
» UK: Islamic Centre Fire: Muslims ‘Need Protection’
» UK: Ribbon Trial: Girl Previously Accused Father of Abuse
» UK: Second Time in 10 Days… Bomber Command Memorial Hit Again by Vandals
» UK: Soldier’s Wife, 39, Dragged Into a Field and Murdered by a Stranger While She Went for a Walk in the Sun
» UK: Why Crimestoppers is Offering a Reward to Catch Those Who Vandalised Two Treasured War Memorials
North Africa
» Tunisia: 200 Imams to Go on Hunger Strike
» Young Tunisians Ready to Restart Revolution, Blogger
Middle East
» Austria to Withdraw Golan Peacekeepers
» Cuba Reaffirms Support for Syria’s Sovereignty
» Demonstrations in Turkey: The Trouble With Democracy
» Palestinian Refugees Burn Hezbollah Aid Packages
» Power Politics Around Syria
» Syria: Assad Exit Not Essential for Geneva 2, FM Bonino Says
» Syria: Israel Alarmed by Clashes in Golan Heights
» Syrian Regime Forces Regain Control of Jalediya in Homs
» Syria: Israel Sends Tanks to Golan Border
» Turkey: Clashes Over the Night in Ankara, 11 Foreigners Arrested
» Turkey: ‘#wewillnotbepushedaround’
» Turkey: Erdogan Adopts Hard Line, Park to Proceed
South Asia
» Bikinis Axed From Miss World Contest in Indonesia
Far East
» EU-China Trade War: Europeans: Comply or Else…
» Beggars and Thieves From Across Europe Are Flocking to the Streets of Britain, Theresa May Warns the EU
Culture Wars
» Backlash to Obama’s Gay Rights Agenda
» Coulter: Tips for Right-Wingers on the IRS Scandal
» Italian Equal Opportunity Minister Preparing Gay Protections
» Valedictorian Rips Up Approved Speech, Recites Lord’s Prayer
» Computer Virus Found on Facebook Steals Bank Details and Money From Accounts When Users Click on Links
» Enemies of the State — the Misuse of Psychiatry as a Tool of Political Repression Has a Long and Sordid History
» UN’s “Post-2015 Development Agenda” Morphed From “Agenda 21”

Eurozone: Merkollande Takes the Controls

Les Echos, Le Monde, Handelsblatt, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande want to install a government for the Eurozone. This could change the EU’s structure, according to the press in both countries, but only if the leaders’ understanding is sustainable.

Angela Merkel and François Hollande have made up. The “Franco-German contribution,” announced on May 30, shows that the German Chancellor now supports the French President’s proposals concerning the governance of the Eurozone. French financial daily Les Echos notes that —…

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

Greece: Bill on Loans Moratorium Splits Parties in Coalition

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 5 — The Greek coalition government was locked in a fresh dispute on Tuesday when PASOK and Democratic Left refused to allow a bill allowing some households to repay their bank loans over longer periods to be rushed through Parliament as Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s New Democracy had wanted. As daily Kathimerini reports today, the two smaller coalition partners refused to allow the express procedure, which would have allowed the draft law, which had been agreed with the troika, to be passed through Parliament on Wednesday. Instead, there will be a longer debate and the measure is likely to be put to a vote on Monday. Samaras and his aides had hoped for a swift conclusion to the protracted discussions over the bill as they want to ensure there will be no snags with regard to Greece receiving its next loan tranche.

New Democracy sources suggested that the objections voiced by the coalition partners had more to do with PASOK’s efforts to put Samaras in his place rather than any genuine concerns about the would-be legislation. The bill allows financially troubled households a moratorium of up to 48 months on their loan or mortgage repayments. There are certain criteria that the bank customers have to fill and their loan must be secured against a property that has a taxable value of no more than 180,000 euros.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greece: Tourism Provides a Ray of Hope Expert Says

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 5 — Its turquoise sea, idyllic islands and stunning scenery are what have made Greece a holiday hot-spot for years. According to, a new report from the country’s main tourism body shows the good times could soon be back. Alexandros Vassilikos, President of the Attica Hotel Association said that “Greece as a whole will, will see 17 million arrivals, which is a new record for Greece.” Tourism is still the country’s biggest earner, next to shipping. So when the financial crisis hit, those in the tourism industry were hit hard. Regular protests over austerity measures seemed to be a turn off for tourists. “The crisis affected the destination a lot, like I said because of the fall in demand, we had a fall in prices that was over 40% over the past four years, but again we have to look at the positive side of this, which is that today we offer a much better value for money, because the hotels are the same, the same as they were four years ago only they are much cheaper, nearly by 40, 50%, Vassilikos said. “Many hoteliers have been forced to slash prices and upgrade their services to lure visitors. About 40% of Greece’s hotels are now 4 or 5-star; 25% higher than they were in 2004. It also has a new stable government which has helped give holidaymakers more confidence. And things are looking good for the coming summer — with bookings from Germany and the UK up 15% and 20% respectively”, he added.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greece: Troika Concerned by Delay in Tax Collection

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 5 — Visiting troika inspectors have expressed frustration over the delayed overhaul of Greece’s dysfunctional tax system, one of several pledges that authorities have made to international creditors in exchange for continued rescue funding, while European Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud Algirdas Semeta said on Tuesday a shake-up is sorely needed to boost revenue collection. As daily Kathimerini reports today, technical staff representing the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund Greece’s troika of foreign lenders have reportedly been unpleasantly surprised by foot-dragging on actions aimed at improving revenue collection. The ministerial decisions and circulars required to kick-start the overhaul have yet to be issued, the inspectors are said to have complained. Further, the planned absorption by the General Secretariat for Public Revenue of the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) and the General Secretariat for Information Systems (GSIS) part of a broader streamlining program has yet to be carried out and the recruitment of additional tax inspectors is also behind schedule. The technical staff have reportedly pressed government officials to fulfill pledges to boost inspections on rich taxpayers, especially in fields where tax evasion is believed to be rife, with doctors and lawyers facing particular scrutiny. In a speech before Parliament, the commissioner struck a similar note, referring to an unfair tax burden on salaried and low-income Greeks. He also poured cold water on requests for a reduction in the 23% value-added tax rate for restaurants and tavernas, noting that reducing VAT is not a proven way of boosting the economy. The government is to raise the issue next week when troika mission chiefs are due back in Athens. Greek officials are also likely to ask for an extension to the deadline for laying off 2,000 civil servants by September. Talks between the government and the troika are to focus on four areas: the overhaul of the tax collection system, a streamlining of the public administration, a financing gap for 2015 and 2016 and a program for privatizing state assets.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greece: IMF Review of Bailout Highlights a Series of Errors

European Commission’s decision making also criticized

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 6 — An internal review of the Greek bailout program by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has found that the organization made serious errors during the last three years and that the European Commission’s decision making was also suspect, as daily Kathimerini writes today. The report is due to be published on Thursday but extracts were leaked by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. According to the report, the IMF admitted that it underestimated the recessionary impact of the fiscal policies Greece was asked to implement as part of the bailouts, the first of which was agreed in May 2010. “The fiscal targets became even more ambitious once the downturn exceeded expectations,” the report said. However, it acknowledges that more funds would have been needed if the macroeconomic projections had been accurate. “While earlier adjustment of the targets could have tempered the contraction, the program would have then required additional financing,” the document said, according to the Wall Street Journal. The report also highlights the errors made in projecting the country’s debt and suggests that Greece should not have qualified for further loans due to doubts about the sustainability of its debt. The Fund, however, described the bailout as a “holding operation” that gave the rest of the eurozone time to protect itself from any negative consequences of the crisis in Greece. The IMF also highlights problems in coordination with the other troika members, particularly the European Commission, which “tended to draw up policy positions by consensus… and had no experience with crisis management.” The Washington-based body also accuses Brussels of not being “able to contribute much to identifying growth-enhancing structural reforms.” The Fund suggests that the restructuring of Greece’s enormous debt, which was carried out in March 2012, should have been carried out much earlier but that it would have been difficult to get other eurozone members to agree because some of their banks held a considerable amount of Greek government bonds. The report also criticizes Greek governments for failing to progress convincingly enough with structural reforms and not spreading the burden of fiscal adjustment evenly across society, the Wall Street Journal reported.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italian Banks Cut Company Credit by 44 Bln in 2012, Says S&P

Bond issuance on the rise to replace bank funding

(ANSA) — Milan, June 5 — Banks cut 44 billion euros worth of credit to Italian companies in 2012, according to a report by rating agency Standard & Poor’s released on Wednesday. The rating agency said that it expected Italian companies to increase bond issuance given the credit crunch.

Italian companies currently get 92% of their medium and short-term funding need from bank loans but the rating agency noted in its report that the credit crunch along and new fiscal and corporate rules recently introduced for medium-sized companies is likely to encourage bond issuance.

Last year, corporate funding through bond markets totalled 20 billion euros, partially compensating bank-funding cuts. Standard & Poor’s said that, in a zero-growth scenario, bond issuance could rise to 11-14% of funding to refinance existing debt in the next five years. But if the Italian economy were to start recovering, funding through bond issuance could rise to 14-17% in the same period from 8% at the end of 2012.

The rating agency noted that “greater recourse to the bond market could help improve Italian companies’ capital structure and reduce financing risks because it could lengthen Italian corporate funding maturities and diversify the investor base”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

An Israel-Hater Heads to the U.N.

On Wednesday, President Obama nominated Samantha Power to be US Ambassador to the United Nations. Power has “been a relentless advocate for American interests and values, building partnerships on behalf of democracy and human rights, fighting the scourge of anti-Semitism and combating human trafficking,” the president contended. Power’s record, however, tells a much different tale. Power is, unsurprisingly, not only a radical leftist who believes America is evil and owes the world an apology, but someone with an egregious history of antipathy directed towards Israel.

In a March 2003 article for the New Republic, Power engaged in the typically leftist denigration of the United States, characterizing American foreign policy as “an explicitly amoral enterprise.” She bemoaned the fact that America’s “exceptionalist impulses,” had been “with us for a long time,” and that they animated George W. Bush’s “militant moralism.” She was further lamented that such “militant moralism” was left unchecked by Congress, due in large part to the fact that America no longer sustained enough war casualties to animate their concern “thanks to U.S. technological supremacy.”

In the same New Republic piece, Power reveals her true disdain for the US “criminal” foreign policy: “U.S. foreign policy,” she said,

“needs not tweaking but overhauling. We need: a historical reckoning with crimes committed, sponsored, or permitted by the United States…A country has to look back before it can move forward. Instituting a doctrine of the mea culpa would enhance our credibility by showing that American decision-makers do not endorse the sins of their predecessors.”

In 2009, Obama did exactly what Power recommended, and apologized to the Arab world for America’s “sins.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Court Order Indicates US Secretly Collecting Business Communications

Business telecoms network ordered to turn over all internal US call logs and to numbers abroad

The Obama administration in the US is secretly carrying out a domestic surveillance programme under which it is collecting business communications records involving Americans under a hotly debated section of the Patriot Act, according to a highly classified court order disclosed last night.

The order, signed by Judge Roger Vinson of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in April, directs a Verizon Communications subsidiary, Verizon Business Network Services, to turn over “on an ongoing daily basis” to the National Security Agency all call logs “between the United States and abroad” or “wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls”.

The order does not apply to the content of the communications.

Verizon Business Network Services is one of the nation’s largest telecommunications and internet providers for corporations. It is not clear whether similar orders have gone to other parts of Verizon, such as its residential or cellphone services, or to other telecommunications carriers. The order prohibits its recipient from discussing its existence, and representatives of both Verizon and AT&T declined to comment yesterday evening.

The four-page order was disclosed by the Guardian. Obama administration officials at the FBI and the White House also declined to comment on the matter yesterday evening, but did not deny the report, and a person familiar with the order confirmed its authenticity.

“We will respond as soon as we can,” said Marci Green Miller, a National Security Agency spokeswoman, in an email. The FBI sought the order under a section of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the 1978 law that regulates domestic surveillance for national security purposes, including “tangible things” that the law defines as business records. The provision was expanded by Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which Congress enacted after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The order was marked “TOP SECRET//SI//NOFORN,” referring to communications-related intelligence information that may not be released to non-citizens. That would make it among the most closely held secrets in the federal government, and its disclosure comes amid a furore over the Obama administration’s aggressive tactics in its investigations of leaks.

Mass collection

The collection of call logs is set to expire in July unless the court extends it. The mass collection of communications logs, or calling “metadata”, was believed to be a major component of the Bush administration’s surveillance programme that took place without court order under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The order would suggest that the government later continued a form of that aspect of the programme by bringing it under the Patriot Act.

The disclosure late yesterday seemed likely to set off a new furore over the scope of government surveillance.

Kate Martin of the Center for National Security Studies, a civil liberties advocacy group, said that “absent some explanation I haven’t thought of, this looks like the largest assault on privacy since the NSA wiretapped Americans in clear violation of the law” under the Bush administration.

“On what possible basis has the government refused to tell us that it believes that the law authorises this kind of request?” she said.

For several years, two Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee, senator Ron Wyden of Oregon and senator Mark Udall of Colorado, have been cryptically warning that the government was interpreting its surveillance powers under that section of the Patriot Act in a way that would be alarming to the public if it knew about it.

“We believe most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted section 215 of the Patriot Act,” they wrote last year in a letter to Attorney General Eric H Holder jnr.

They added: “As we see it, there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows. This is a problem, because it is impossible to have an informed public debate about what the law should say when the public doesn’t know what its government thinks the law says.”

A Wyden spokesman did not respond yesterday to a request for comment on the Verizon order. The senators were angry because the Obama administration described Section 215 orders as being similar to a grand jury subpoena for obtaining business records, like a suspect’s hotel or credit card records, in the course of an ordinary criminal investigation. The senators said the secret interpretation of the law was nothing like that.

Section 215 of the Patriot Act made it easier to get an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to obtain business records so long as they were merely deemed “relevant” to a national-security investigation.

           — Hat tip: McR [Return to headlines]

From Verizon’s ‘Can You Hear Me Now’ To NSA’s “Yes, Every Eavesdropped Word”

When “Big Brother is Watching You” was the cold war mantra of the day, there were no cellphones, no iPads, no satellite communications of any kind in the hands of the unwashed masses.

Today Big Brother is not watching you, he’s stalking and harassing you — right in the place you call home.

There’s nowhere to hide; nowhere to run to and no one to turn to in a world where a government that has learned how to slip being held accountable has all the tools on its side.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Gov. Chris Christie Names Attorney General of New Jersey as Interim U.S. Senator

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey announced the appointment of Jeffrey S. Chiesa, the state’s attorney general, to fill the Senate seat left vacant by the death of Frank R. Lautenberg.

The appointment comes as Democrats and Republicans across the state scramble to line up support, raise money and secure enough signatures ahead of Monday’s deadline to compete in the August primary.

Mr. Christie, who earlier this week announced that a special election would be held in October to fill the seat, made his announcement at an afternoon news conference in Trenton.

[Return to headlines]

Governed by Sociopaths

You may have heard the word before, but do you really understand what a sociopath is? I didn’t, so I decided I should do a little research. It made America’s political situation a little clearer to me.

A sociopath is defined as “a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.”

At first glance two words popped out at me…”antisocial” and “criminal.” In the mind of the average reader that would eliminate most people that they come in contact with. The words anti-social and criminal are so extreme that we are led to believe that sociopaths come only in freaks like Charles Manson and Rev. Jim Jones, who gave us the term “drinking the kool-aid” because of the things he was able to convince others to do.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

It Gets Worse: Tech Giants Reportedly Share Shocking Amount of User Data With the Government

The National Security Agency and FBI have been engaging in a highly classified program that mines data from leading U.S. internet companies, according to a bombshell report in The Washington Post Thursday night.

The program is code-named PRISM, and the Post reports that it was established in 2007. According to the report, the nine companies that “participate knowingly” in the program are Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.

The NSA and FBI tap directly into the central servers of the companies, obtaining audio, video, photographs, emails, documents and connection logs that “enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time,” according to the Post.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Lindsey Graham Isn’t Sure if Bloggers Deserve ‘First Amendment Protection’

Whether bloggers count as journalists has mostly been a matter of esoterics for reporter types. But as Congress weighs a media shield law in response to the Associated Press/Justice Department subpoena scandal, the question is gaining an urgency that lawmakers are finding hard to ignore as they turn to writing the bill.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., took on the issue — and stumbled.

“Who is a journalist is a question we need to ask ourselves,” he said. “Is any blogger out there saying anything — do they deserve First Amendment protection? These are the issues of our times.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama Picks Libya War Architect for U.N. Ambassador

Samantha Power, Obama’s Special Assistant who pushed for the slaughter over 30,000 Libyans under the guise of humanitarian intervention, may soon replace Susan Rice as U.S. ambassador at the United Nations.

Rice, scorched by the Benghazi affair, will retreat to the White House and take up the role of Obama’s national security adviser.

Power is regarded as the driving force behind the administration’s policy of “humanitarian war” in Libya. “Before joining the administration, in fact, Power flew around the world giving speeches about ‘humanitarian failures’ and the ‘responsibility to protect.’ Furthermore, her professional career began at the International Crisis Group, where she worked under the world’s foremost authority on ‘responsibility to protect,’ Gareth Evans,” write Eric Pottenger and Jeff Friesen.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

President Obama Chooses Left-Wing Samantha Power for UN Ambassador Post

Samantha Power, who previously served in the Obama administration as Special Assistant to President Obama and Senior Director of Multilateral Affairs on the staff of the National Security Council, is President Obama’s choice to take Susan Rice’s place as the United States’ Ambassador to the United Nations.

Obama promoted Rice to serve as his chief national security advisor, a position that is more powerful than the Secretary of State but which does not require Senate confirmation.

In choosing the left-wing radical Samantha Power as our new UN ambassador, Obama is proposing to send to Turtle Bay a self-professed human rights activist with a long record of antipathy towards Israel and a blame-America-first attitude.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Stakelbeck: Muslim Brotherhood Foothold in Boston

U.S. authorities are still piecing together how the two brothers behind April’s Boston Marathon bombing — Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev — became Islamic terrorists.

Tamerlan had traveled to al Qaeda hotbeds in southern Russia, where authorities believe he may have met with known jihadists.

But closer to home, he and his brother attended a Boston-area mosque with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

As I found during a recent trip to Boston, the Brotherhood had laid down major roots in the city, particularly through area mosques.

Locals fear that the Brotherhood is putting young Boston-area Muslims on the path to radicalization.

Click the link above to watch my report.

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck [Return to headlines]

The Stunning Decline of Barack Obama: 2013. Ten Key Reasons Why the Obama Presidency is in Meltdown

by Nile Gardiner

The last few weeks have been among the worst of Barack Obama’s time in office, recalling earlier periods of turmoil for the president in 2010 and 2011, when his ratings also plummeted. In 2013, the situation is significantly worse for the White House, with the Obama administration engulfed in a series of major scandals (IRS persecution of conservative groups, the Benghazi debacle, and the Justice Department seizure of journalists’ phone records) that are not only eroding trust in government but also in the office of the president itself. This is undoubtedly a period of steep decline for the Obama presidency, whose imperial-style big government approach is being increasingly questioned not only by American voters, but also by formerly subservient sections of the liberal-dominated mainstream media. In contrast to his first term, Barack Obama is finding himself less and less shielded by the press, and far more vulnerable to public criticism…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

European Commission: ‘Major European Countries Resist Brussels Dikats’

El País, 3 June 2013

The major countries of the Eurozone are ignoring the Commission’s recommendations while France and Germany are openly defying the it, notes El País.

“The crisis is eroding the influence of [Commission President José Manuel] Durão Barroso,” reports the Spanish daily, adding that “the European Commission, which is in middle of a power struggle with Germany, is suffering from a credibility crisis.”

Although the powers of the EU’s executive branch have been reinforced in recently years, its recommendations and measures required of the member states are only followed “when the markets demand it or within the framework of a bailout plan,” says El País.

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

French Activist Dies After Fight With Skinheads

An 18-year old French far-Left activist died on Thursday night after a fight with skinheads in central Paris, sparking angry calls for the government to break up increasingly violent extreme-right groups.

Four people, including the 20-year old suspected perpetrator, were arrested shortly after the incident near the St Lazare railway station on Wednesday night. Politicians from across the spectrum condemned the incident, with some on the Left suggesting the anti-gay wedding movement indirectly led to the tragedy by fuelling far-Right violence. Clément Meric was a student of Paris’ Sciences Politiques, member of the Solidaires students’ union and the far-Left anti-fascist movement…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Italy: Govt to Issue Decree on Revamping ILVA Steelworks

Thousands of jobs, nearly half of Italy’s steel at risk

(ANSA) — Rome, June 4 — The government is planning to issue a decree “that would temporarily commandeer” the troubled ILVA steelworks in southern Italy, allowing it to operate according to government regulations, Industry Minister Flavio Zanonato said Tuesday. Zanonato, who was entering the House to discuss a court ruling granting permission to use the plant’s confiscated smelting areas Monday, said the cabinet will meet Tuesday to review the long-awaited decree to salvage the Taranto plant, save thousands of jobs and 40% of the country’s steel production.

Premier Enrico Letta’s government reportedly may also appoint a special commissioner for the plant’s cleanup and management.

The new ruling marks a partial victory for the government in a row with the court over whether the plant — accused of damaging health and the environment with billowing toxic emissions — can continue to run as it undertakes major clean-up measures the government agreed would permit it to continue operating.

The Taranto judge had challenged the constitutionality of the so-called “Save Ilva” decree, passed in December, which the government amended specifically to overrule a court-ordered partial shutdown.

The judge’s constitutional challenges were found to be in part inadmissable and in part unfounded.

ILVA has been at the centre of a political and legal battle since July when local magistrates ordered the partial closure of its Taranto plant due to serious health concerns.

Saving ILVA, a plant that produces almost all of the country’s steel for the automotive, shipping and domestic appliance industries, as well as provides jobs for around 20,000 workers, has become a priority for Letta’s government.

The company is also plagued by probes into the Riva family, whose holding controls the plant, for suspected fraud against the State and fake money transfers.

Last week government officials tried to reassure tens of thousands of workers at the troubled company that ILVA workers would be taken care of after police seized 9.3 billion euros’ worth of assets belonging to the steel group’s owners and ILVA’s board of directors resigned en masse, including the company’s chairman and its CEO.

The Riva group is the biggest iron and steel producer in Italy, the fourth-biggest in Europe and the 23rd-biggest in the world.

The Taranto plant is the biggest in Europe.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Bossi Lashes Out at Maroni in Ongoing Northern League Spat

‘It’s all rubbish’ says party founder

(ANSA) — Rome, June 5 — The founder of the Northern League on Wednesday lashed out again at the head of the regionalist party in an ongoing internal spat. “It’s all rubbish,” said Umberto Bossi, responding to statement’s from League Secretary and Lombardy Governor Roberto Maroni, who said Bossi has been “damaging” to the party. The founder of the Northern League sparked a party uproar Tuesday when he said he should return to lead after calling Maroni a “traitor” for allying too closely with ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi and the center right, rather than focusing on promoting regions in the north. Signs of strain between the two surfaced shortly after Bossi resigned in 2012 amid a corruption probe and Maroni took over the party. That July, when Maroni said Bossi only played an “emotional role” in the party, Bossi shot back that “I’m the boss. There are many small dogs who bark very loudly but don’t frighten anyone”. Verona Mayor Flavio Tosi, the head of the League’s Veneto region chapter, said Wednesday there was “zero chance Bossi would retake (the reins of) the League”. Bossi replied that the future of the movement, which he had spearheaded since its founding in the 1980s, and whether or not his comments have hurt it, depended on “who the League runs in (upcoming) local elections”. “It’s all nonsense,” he added.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Bolt Says Balotelli Too Aggressive for Him

World’s fastest man in Rome for Golden Gala

(ANSA) — Rome, June 6 — Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt, who will compete in Rome’s Golden Gala on Thursday, has confessed that he is not all that fond of AC Milan and Italy striker Mario Balotelli.

“Balotelli is a great football player, although perhaps a little too aggressive for my tastes,” Bolt told state broadcaster Rai. “He never misses a penalty. I’ve met him a couple of times and to be honest I don’t like him very much,” Bolt said.

Balotelli responded to Bolt’s comments with a Twitter feed, saying “@usainbolt get to no people before to judge them! Isnt very kind what u said about me…”

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy ‘Closely Watching’ China’s EU Wine Investigation

France calls probe ‘inappropriate and reprehensible’

(ANSA) Rome, June 6. Italian Premier Enrico Letta is closely following an anti-dumping investigation opened by Chinese authorities into European Union wine imports, according to a statement issued by the Italian government Thursday.

Dumping refers to companies selling merchandize below market value and underselling local vendors, which China suspects the EU to have done with its wine. China launched the probe a day after the EU imposed anti-dumping levies on its photovoltaic panel imports. The government in France, the world’s biggest wine exporter to China, labelled the probe “inappropriate and reprehensible”.

Letta, whose country is believed to be the second biggest wine exporter to China, has assigned the task of keeping in close contact with the EU commission and with other European partners on the matter to some of his ministers, the statement said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy Retrieved 12.5 Billion From Tax Dodgers in 2012

‘Much remains to be done’

(ANSA) — Rome, June 6 — Italy recovered 12.5 billion euros from tax evaders in 2012, the country’s inland revenue agency said Thursday. “(An additional) 10 billion were prevented from attempted evasion,” said Attilio Befera, inland revenue director, before the House Finance Commission. Slightly more, 12.7 billion, was retrieved in 2011. “Much has been done to fight tax dodging, but much remains to be done,” added Befera.

The department of finance reported Wednesday that in the first four months of 2013, revenues collected from tax cheats was up roughly 5% compared with the same period last year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Sweden: How My City Went Under

Politiken Copenhagen

Son of a Swede and a Dane, journalist Viggo Cavling grew up in one of the suburbs hit by the recent violence. He tells the story of how the buildings that carried the dreams of a progressive society have become ghettos without hope.

Viggo Cavling

The riots that erupted in Husby, the suburb northwest of Stockholm, have spread to nearby Rinkeby and Tensta, to the west of Stockholm, and to Hagsätra and Fruängen, to the south of the capital. These cities were all built under the Miljonprogrammet, a construction project that put up one million housing units in Sweden from 1965 to 1975. Many of these cities were baptised with poetic names, like Lindängen [the meadow of lime trees] in Malmö and Hammarkullen [Hammer Hill] in Gothenburg.

When she met my father, in the late 1960s, my mother lived in Fruängen, in a low building that had just been built and where she was the first tenant on the ground floor. This small studio allowed her to put an end to 10 years of the nomadic life, when she had moved from one sublet to another. My father was living in Copenhagen. The young couple compromised and moved to Malmö, to the District of Rosengard [the Rose Garden], probably the nicest name ever given to a neighbourhood.

After I was born, in November 1969, our family moved into a building in the Herrgarden neighbourhood, on Bennetsväg Street. One of the stories often told in my family is the first journey my mother took by bus right to Rosengard, full of dreams and hopes. Today, the Herrgarden district of Rosengard is ranked by the EU as among the poorest areas of Europe.

When my little sister was born, our father succeeded in getting a three-room flat on the 15th and highest floor of the new Widellsväg building, after having invited to lunch the employee of the HSB housing cooperative. From the balcony he could see the Øresund [the strait that separates Denmark from Sweden], and even glimpse his former apartment building, the Domus Portus, in the Østerbro district in Copenhagen.

Both my parents came from wealthy families. My paternal grandfather is editor of Politiken [a Danish daily], while my maternal grandfather is a judge in the Ängelholm district [in the south of Sweden].

The levelling momentum

Without it ever being explicitly mentioned at home, my mother and my father were carried away by the great momentum for levelling — moving towards the centre — that swept through Sweden after the war. Prime Minister Olof Palme went with the flow too: with his wife Lisbet, of the Swedish nobility, he abandoned the peaceful district of his childhood, Östermalm [in the centre of Stockholm], to resettle not far from Husby, in the new district of Vällingby, among rows of identical houses. To get to his Prime Minister’s office, he turned down the chauffeured car and drove there himself in his little Saab….

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

UK: Child Porn Teacher is Allowed Back in the Classroom: Alarm as Re Master Escapes Ban

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

A teacher who downloaded child porn has been allowed to resume his career by the Department for Education.

Geoffrey Bettley, 36, was sacked, given a police caution and ordered to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register after admitting viewing sickening images over several years.

But a professional conduct panel said the married RE teacher could return to the classroom because of his ‘excellent teaching’.

A senior official, acting on behalf of Education Secretary Michael Gove, rubber-stamped the decision, saying there was a ‘need to be proportionate and to act in the public interest’.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: EDL Hate Messages as Leaders Call for Peace After Muswell Hill Mosque is Burnt to the Ground

The leaders of an Islamic centre destroyed in a suspected fire bomb attack offered an olive branch to the culprits in a gesture of peace of just hours after the blaze. Sayed Bana, 60, a committee member at the Somali Bravanese Centre in Muswell Hill, invited the thugs behind the blaze to end their campaign of violence and come to the negotiating table as the cross community hub lay in ruins.

He said: “To the perpetrators of this attack I say, forget about what you are doing and come join us in a dialogue and let’s move forward to a future without violence. I’m not angry at those behind the attack, I feel sad for them.” His call for calm came despite English Defence League supporters taking to social media sites to praise the apparent attack and call for further attacks on the Muslim community…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Fresh Concerns Over Radicalising Influence of Gym Used by Islamic Terror Group

A Birmingham gym fuelled fresh concerns it is being used as a recruiting ground for extremists after being associated with a second terror gang.

The Darul Ihsaan centre, known locally as “Jimmy’s gym”, was used by members of the Jihadist group that planned to attack the English Defence League. Two of the gang, Mohammed Saud and Anzal Hussain, also worked there, and the six met in the building the night before the planned attack. The same gym was used by at least four members of a separate terror cell which planned to attack the UK with eight suicide bombers. Earlier this year those four admitted travelling to Pakistan for terror training and will be sentenced at a later date. While the gym is not directly linked to either plot, police sources say they are working with its management to reduce the risk of radicalization there…

[JP note: Heigh ho, it’s off to work we go, how high can you jump, Mr Dhimmi Police Man?]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Islamic Terror Group Planned to Spark Race War With Bomb Attack on EDL

An Islamic terror group planned to spark a race war on the streets of Britain by bombing a rally of the English Defence League (EDL), a court heard.

The gang of six Birmingham fanatics plotted to attack the demonstration with homemade bombs, guns and knives and possibly wanted to assassinate EDL leader Tommy Robinson. The al-Qaeda inspired men have all pleaded guilty to plot, which was only narrowly averted by their own incompetence and sheer luck. It also emerged one of the men had been under watch by MI5.

Opening the case at the start of a sentencing hearing at the Old Bailey today, Bobbie Cheema QC, prosecuting, said had their plan succeeded it would have caused lasting damage to racial tensions. She told the court the group wanted to “execute a terrible vengeance” on the EDL for what they perceived as blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed.

“It takes but a little contemplation to realise that had the retaliatory attack gone ahead as planned it would have had a powerful impact on relations between different groups who for the most part live peacefully alongside each other in this country and that impact would probably still be reverberating today. There can be little doubt that a violent attack of the kind intended to be carried out would have been bound to draw a response in revenge from its target and would most likely led to a tit-for-tat spiral of violence and terror. The defendants anticipated as much.”

In April, Jewel Uddin, 27, Omar Mohammed Khan, 31, Mohammed Hasseen, 24, Anzal Hussain, 24, Mohammed Saud, 22, and Zohaib Ahmed, 22, all from Birmingham, pleaded guilty to plotting to attack the EDL. They hoped to target a rally of up to 750 EDL supporters in Dewsbury in June last year and maybe assassinate Mr Robinson, who was due to speak there.

Five of the gang went armed with homemade bombs, two shotguns, machetes and knives.

But in a stroke of luck for the police and MI5, the demonstration finished earlier than planned and the men turned up too late. And they were only caught by another blunder because an error by one of the terrorists when taking out car insurance led to one of their vehicles being stopped by a traffic officer as they returned home. Even then, the car sat in pound for two days before the terrorist cache and a letter attacking the Queen and detailing the plot was discovered.

Ms Cheema said ten copies of the “chilling” letter, headed “Operation in defence of the prophet Mohammed”, were recovered. “They say ‘This is a message to the enemies of Allah and His messenger’,”she said. “The document then insults HM The Queen who is called the ‘Kafir Female Devil and her accursed Jubilee — fooling a nation of blind sheep’ as well as the ‘Kafir-Devil, David Cameron and all his allies’. Directly to the EDL the document says ‘We love death more than you love life. The penalty for blasphemy (of Allah and his messenger Muhammad) is death’ and later, ‘You are a people who are worse than animals.”

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Islamic Centre Fire: Muslims ‘Need Protection’

Muslims say authorities are not doing enough to protect them against the wave of anti-Islamic attacks since Woolwich.

Muslim groups have pleaded with police to clamp down on Islamaphobic attacks, saying they are living in fear of reprisals after Drummer Lee Rigby’s murder. Counter-terrorism police are investigating after a Somali cultural centre was burned to the ground in Muswell Hill, north London, in the early hours of Wednesday. The letters “EDL” — the initials of the English Defence League — were found scrawled on the outside of the Bravanese Centre, which was also used as a mosque. The EDL has denied any involvement in the fire. The blaze came as the RAF Bomber Command War Memorial in Green Park, central London, was defaced again after being attacked by vandals last week…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Ribbon Trial: Girl Previously Accused Father of Abuse

THE girl who claims she became the sex slave of a gang of men falsely accused her own father of abuse, a court was told.

The girl has alleged that a group of ten young men used her repeatedly for sex after plying her with drink and drugs. She has claimed in court that one of the men, Iblal Fiaz, befriended her over the internet when she was just 11, gained her trust and convinced her to have sex with him before forcing her to have sex with his friends.

However the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was accused of being a serial liar who had made up the allegations and even falsely accused her own father of sexual abuse in claims made to social services. She later dropped the allegations against him, Oxford Crown Court heard today. Sasha Wass QC, defending Iblal Fiaz, put to the girl: “When you’re angry at people in your mind the correct punishment is to accuse them of rape.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Second Time in 10 Days… Bomber Command Memorial Hit Again by Vandals

THE Bomber Command memorial was yesterday defaced by graffiti for a second time in 10 days.

A vandal sprayed “Lee Rigby’s killers shud hang” in green paint across the £7.5million monument. Police are studying CCTV footage of the man, who is understood to have been wearing a hooded sweatshirt or a cap, when he struck between midnight and 4.43am yesterday. The attack came after the word “Islam” was sprayed in red paint on the memorial in London’s Green Park on May 27. CCTV footage showed a man wearing a woolly cap defacing the Bomber Command memorial and then going inside it to look at the centrepiece, a statue of seven crewmen newly returned from a raid. This vandalism followed the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich by two alleged Islamic extremists…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Soldier’s Wife, 39, Dragged Into a Field and Murdered by a Stranger While She Went for a Walk in the Sun

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

A soldier’s wife was ambushed, dragged into a field and murdered by a stranger as she walked down a country lane just 500 yards from her home, it emerged today.

The 39-year-old’s body was found lying next to a copse at the edge of a field after apparently being choked to death.

It is thought she could have been dead for up to 18 hours before she was discovered.

The victim, believed to be Nepalese national Krishnamaya Mabo, lived in Army married quarters on a garrison estate in Arborfield a quarter of a mile away.

A letter issued by Garrison Commander Colonel Ian Gibson warned residents not to ‘venture out alone, especially at night’ in the wake of the killing.

Sources believe Krishnamaya was attacked by a stranger as she made the most of the sunny weather at around 6pm on Sunday evening.

Her killer is thought to have followed her up a country lane and pounced when they were out of sight of passing traffic and walkers.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Why Crimestoppers is Offering a Reward to Catch Those Who Vandalised Two Treasured War Memorials

By Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC

Revulsion and anger were my immediate feelings when I learnt a couple of weeks ago that the Bomber Command Memorial in central London had been vandalised. The courageous members of Bomber Command had to wait 67 years for a wrong to be righted: the Queen only unveiled the new memorial in Green Park on June 28 of last year. Now, just 11 months later and less than a week after the brutal murder of Drummer Lee Rigby on the streets of London, graffiti had been daubed on the memorial. The word “Islam” was sprayed in red paint on both the Bomber Command Memorial and the Animals in War Memorial in nearby Hyde Park.

I want, as I am sure the majority of us do, those responsible for both acts of vandalism to be brought to justice and it is for this reason that Crimestoppers, the crime-fighting charity that I founded 25 years ago, is today offering a substantial reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the culprits. I do not know whether those responsible for the vandalism were motivated by religious hatred or another sense of misguided resentment. What I do know is that they are cowards who should be brought to justice for their shameful and heartless actions…

[Reader comment by Hawkharp on 6 June 2013 at about 1800 hrs.]

I’d wager a small fortune that the perp(s) come from Tower Hamlets and that anyone who knows who did it in that area won’t talk as it’s so detached from the rest of British society it’s scary. This is what happens when importing people en mass and failing to integrate them, politicians need to come to terms with the fact that the culture of Islamic based immigrants is on the whole incompatible with western cultural norms and unlike many other immigrants who have integrated amazingly well, banging on about the silent peaceful majority doesn’t matter as they have failed to integrate too.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Tunisia: 200 Imams to Go on Hunger Strike

To protest directive allowing mosque-goers to choose preachers

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JUNE 6 — Starting from the first day of the month of Ramadan, 200 imams from the Tunis governorate will be going on a hunger strike, the Union of Religious Leaders has announced.

The protest is being staged against a decree issued by Minister of Religious Affairs Noureddine Khadmi allowing mosque-goers to choose which imam they want to lead the prayer. Union leader Fadhel Achour added that there are 178 mosques in the country which are now controlled by “Salafi jihadists” and that 1,048 imams and preachers have suffered acts of violence without the Ministry of Religious Affairs initiating an investigation into the incidents.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Young Tunisians Ready to Restart Revolution, Blogger

Rejecting Islamisation and working for women’s revolt

(ANSAmed) — Brussels, June 5 — Young Tunisians are ready to restart the revolution and return to the streets to fight for democracy, a young blogger said on Wednesday.

“There will be revenge,” warned Henda Chennaoui at a European Parliamentary conference on the Arab Spring held in Brussels.

“In Tunisia there is an enormous problem among those who have power and those who conducted the revolution,” the blogger said.

“We have political prisoners, young ones like Amina Tyler, the Femen militant, in prison for serious charges after publishing a photo of her naked breast on Facebook but also cases of young men already sentenced to years in prison for having published texts and photos on religion”.

“Who governs us in the name of religion cannot continue to repress the Tunisian people, the aspirations of young people to true freedom of expression. We will continue to fight”.

The blogger warned that “injustice cannot endure”. “The revolution of 2010-2011 is the demonstration of it. Action will come, we will take to the streets and we will tell things as they are”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Austria to Withdraw Golan Peacekeepers

(AGI)- Vienna, June 6 — Chancellor Werner Faymann announced Austria’s withdrawal of UNDOF troops from the Golan Heights on Thursday. “The uncontrolled and immediate danger to Austrian soldiers has risen to an unacceptable level,” the chancellor announced in a statement issued shortly after Syrian forces regained control of the Quneitra crossing between Syria and Israel. The Austrian government’s decision is in line with Vienna’s plans to withdraw its troops in the wake of the European Union’s lifting of its Syria arms embargo.

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

Cuba Reaffirms Support for Syria’s Sovereignty

HAVANA, June 5 (Xinhua) — First Vice-President Miguel Diaz-Canel reiterated Wednesday that Cuba supports Syria’s right of self-determination and sovereignty. Diaz-Canel made the remarks during talks with Mohsen Bilal, a special envoy of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to an official announcement. The two sides exchanged views on the ongoing crisis in Syria…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Demonstrations in Turkey: The Trouble With Democracy

Project Syndicate Prague

Protesters in Istanbul’s Taksim Square are taking on the Islamism that came to prominence with Erdogan’s government and which they see as a threat to secularism and civil rights. But that’s the natural outcome of the end of Kemalist authoritarianism, writes Dutch author Ian Buruma.

Ian Buruma

One way to see the anti-government demonstrations in Turkish cities is as a massive protest against political Islam. What began as a rally against state-backed plans to raze a small park in the centre of Istanbul to make way for a kitschy new shopping mall quickly evolved into a conflict of values. The fight appears on the surface to represent two different ideas of modern Turkey, secular versus religious, democratic versus authoritarian. Comparisons have been made with Occupy Wall Street. People even speak of the “Turkish Spring.”

Clearly, many Turkish citizens, especially in the big cities, are sick of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian style, his steely grip on the press, the restrictions on alcohol, the taste for building grandiose new mosques, the arrests of political dissidents, and now the violent response to the demonstrations. People fear that secular laws will be replaced by shariah law, and that the fruits of Kemal Atatürk’s secular state will be undone by Islamism.

Then there is the issue of the Alevi, a religious minority linked to Sufism and Shi’ism. The Alevi, who had been protected by the secular Kemalist state, deeply distrust Erdogan, who further put their backs up by planning to name a new bridge over the Bosporus after a 16th Century sultan who massacred Alevis.

Religion, then, would seem to be at the heart of the Turkish problem. Political Islam is regarded by its opponents as inherently anti-democratic.

Religion, politics and class

But of course things are not quite so simple. The secular Kemalist state was no less authoritarian than Erdogan’s populist Islamist regime, if anything it was more so. And it is also significant that the first protests on Istanbul’s Taksim Square concerned not a mosque, but a shopping mall. Fear of shariah law is matched by anger at the rapacious vulgarity of developers and entrepreneurs backed by Erdogan’s government. There is a strong leftist bent to the Turkish Spring….

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

Palestinian Refugees Burn Hezbollah Aid Packages

Second time in a week in Lebanon, press

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT — About 1,500 food aid packages provided by Hezbollah have been set fire to in Lebanon by Palestinian refugees from Syria to protest the Shiite movement’s involvement alongside Syrian regime troops in the battle for Qusair. Daily Star reported on the incident, noting that it was the second time it had occurred in the past week. There are at least 54,000 Palestinian former refugees in Syria that have been forced to flee to Lebanon due to the ongoing conflict. Another 6,000 have sought refuge in Jordan and a similar number have done so in Egypt. The local activist Omar Halabi said Wednesday that the humanitarian aid packages had been burned by Palestinians and local residents in Saadnayal in the Bekaa Valley, when the recipients noticed the message printed on them: “Islamic Resistance in Lebanon to our brethren, the displaced Palestinians from Syria.” The food aid had been distributed through a local office of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which enjoys close relations with the Syrian regime. Last week other food aid packages provided by Hezbollah had been torched in the Palestinian refugee camp Ain al Hilweh in southern Lebanon.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Power Politics Around Syria

To those wondering why Europe ended up with such an embarrassing failure to agree a common policy on the Syrian arms embargo, a small dot on the map could offer some clue. The giant South Pars/North Dome gas field in the Gulf, which is evenly split between Iran and Qatar’s waters. Damascus’ ally Tehran plans to build a pipeline across Syria to reach Mediterranean shores and the rich European market. Doha, the main sponsor of the rebels, has a rival project, which would run through a post-Assad Syria and Turkey to reach the same destination. Tellingly enough, the worsening of the Syrian crisis in early 2011 came only a few months after negotiations on the Iranian project began in late 2010.

France and the United Kingdom, through their national champions GDF and Shell, are major stakeholders in Qatar’s gas industry. Russia has a steel pact with Iran to counter the attempts of Sunni Gulf states and their western allies to bypass its quasi-monopoly on European provisions.

Germany is linked to Russia by the Nord Stream pipeline, lobbied for by former chancellor Gerhard Schröder, while Italy’s ENI is a key partner of Gazprom. To find Paris and London disagreeing with Berlin and Rome over the future of Syria should thus sound less surprising.

The Syrian quagmire is not the only issue where energy has split Europe lately. The debate over environmental and health risks posed by the exploitation of European shale gas reserves has been increasingly hijacked by conflicting national interests, further complicated by meddling by the Russian nuclear industry and uncertainty over future Germany energy policy. This week, the EU’s standing in the commercial dispute with China over solar panels was demolished by disagreement between France and Germany on whether to tax cheap imports from Chinese state-subsidised industries…

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

Syria: Assad Exit Not Essential for Geneva 2, FM Bonino Says

Democracy at risk in Turkey, EU should play a role but be open

(ANSAmed) — Romeì — The departure of Syrian president Bashar al Assad should not be considered as an essential pre-condition for staging the Geneva 2 peace talks on Syria, according to Italian foreign minister Emma Bonino.

Bonino says there are two “inescapable” issues for the Geneva 2 conference — a transition process through a coalition government and the fact that “you cannot demand, like a part of the opposition, holding the conference on the condition that Bashar al Assad resign”.

“His departure is the object of negotiation, not the pre-condition,” Bonino says in an interview with Tempi, which is to be published tomorrow.

Asked about the topless protest campaign adopted by the Femen movement, “I believe that the true goal of those who are committed should be freedom, and not to replace rights with duties. Rights go together with duties. And if I have the right to express myself, I also have the right to respect others”, the minister says.

Regarding Turkey, Bonino says “there are worrying elements in the Turkish government’s action, and we should never forget that Italy and Turkey share the record for sentences from the European Court of Human Rights: us for the conditions of our prisons and the length of trials, them for pre-trial detention”.

On the repression of the protests against the Erdogan government, Bonino believes the EU should get involved because democracy is at risk. However she says Italy must continue its policy of openness with Turkey and try to convince other recalcitrant European partners without staying silent on specific aspects of Turkish policies that we find unacceptable”.

She noted Erdogan has “changed course” on foreign policy, acting “like a principal player in the region” and he “ is sufferign from the impact of Syria”.

“I continue to believe firmly in the European prospects for Turkey and its role in regional stability and security”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Syria: Israel Alarmed by Clashes in Golan Heights

Assad forces prevail, UN peacekeeper injured, Austria withdraws

(ANSAmed) — Rome, June 6 — The battle between Syrian loyalists and rebels moved dangerously close to the Israeli border as both sides clashed at a UN-monitored crossing in the Golan Heights today.

At first, the rebels managed to overpower their enemies and take control of Quneitra, the line of demarcation but within a few hours the situation changed in favour of troops loyal to Syrian leader Bashir al Assad.

During the conflict a Philippino United Nations peacekeeper was injured.

The UN said it had ordered its peacekeepers to reposition themselves but Austria has announced it is withdrawing its peacekeepers from the Golan Heights because of the fighting.

Israel remains on high alert and all highways linked to the Syrian border are closed after at least four violent clashes between the parties in the past few hours.

Israel captured part of the Golan Heights in 1967 and later annexed but it has never been internationally recognised.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Syrian Regime Forces Regain Control of Jalediya in Homs

(AGI) — Damascus, June 6 — Syrian regime forces have regained control of the Jalediya district, in the central city of Homs, a rebel stronghold, official sources announced. Loyalist troops also reoccupied Qusayr, in Homs province, near the border with Lebanon on Wednesday.

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

Syria: Israel Sends Tanks to Golan Border

Assad army near Quneitra crossing

(ANSAmed) — Rome, June 6 — The Israeli army, according to International sources, has moved its tanks close to the Syrian border on the Golan Heights because of the fighting underway in the area.

Earlier today Syrian rebels took control of the border crossing near the town of Quneitra before it was regained by forces loyal to president Bashir al Assad.

Syrian forces are believed to be now in control of the border crossing.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Turkey: Clashes Over the Night in Ankara, 11 Foreigners Arrested

Tension still high on tenth day of protest

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA — Police fired tear gas and water cannons at protestors during the ongoing protests in the Turkish capital Wednesday night. In late evening the centre of tension shifted from Kizilay Square — where every night since Friday clashes have occurred near the offices of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan — towards the European district Gazi Osman Pasha, where incidents occurred on Kennedy Street for most of the night. Hurriyet reports that Turkish police arrested 11 foreign demonstrators accused of incitement to public disorder. The foreigners detained included four Americans, two British nationals, an Indian, a French national and a Greek national, according to Radikal. At least four are studying in Turkey as part of the Erasmus programme. The protest is today entering its 10th day, notes Hurriyet, and the level of tension remains high.

Prime Minister Erdogan is expected to return this evening after a four-day official visit to North African countries. Turkish media outlets say that incidents occurred between protestors and supporters of Erdogan’s AKP in the Black Sea town of Riza for the first time Wednesday evening

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Turkey: ‘#wewillnotbepushedaround’

Star, 6 June 2013

A one word hashtag in the pro-government Turkish daily Star sums up the response of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his supporters to the demonstrators who, for nearly a week, have been calling for his resignation.

Erdogan and his backers reacted by attacking social media. The PM called Twitter “the greatest threat to society,” because it is used by youthful opponents to spread their message.

Photoshopped pictures of him are being circulated as part of a campaign to boost his popularity. In some, Erdogan is shown with Turgut Özal (former PM and president until 1993 and who’s pro-free trade stance Erdogan claims to continue) and Adnan Menderes (Kemalist PM hanged during the 1961 military coup).

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

Turkey: Erdogan Adopts Hard Line, Park to Proceed

Terrorists with protesters, says PM in Tunis. Shares down 4%

(ANSAmed) — Tunis, June 6 — Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reaffirmed his hard line on the mass protests engulfing his country saying he plans to redevelop the Istanbul park despite the opposition.

Speaking in Tunis on an official visit, Erdogan said he had no intention of shelving the development which threatens the destruction of 600 trees in Gezi Park in Taksim in the European heart of the city.

Erdogan said “a terrorist organisation” was behind the chaos and said the project “respects the history, culture and environment”. “What we are trying to do is defend the rights of the majority and preserve the beauty of Istanbul,” he said. Istanbul’s stock exchange reacted negatively to Erdogan’s hardline comments, posting a loss of 4% “Among the protesters there are some extremists, several have been implicated in terrorism,” he said.

“Militants of this terrorist organisation were present in Taksim square,” he said.

Turkish media fear Erdogan’s return to Turkey will inflame tensions that have diminised in the past four days.

According to the left-leaning daily, Sozcu, which quoted an opposition MP, Erdogan reacted angrily while in Morocco to the news that his deputy Bulent Arinc had apologised to the protesters, following talks with president Abdullah Gul.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Bikinis Axed From Miss World Contest in Indonesia

Organizers replace swimsuits with sarongs to respect traditional values in Muslim country

Miss World organisers have axed bikinis from this year’s pageant in Indonesia, replacing them with conservative beach sarongs amid mounting protests from hardline Muslim groups.

The 2013 competition is being hosted in the resort island of Bali and the capital, Jakarta, in September.

All contestants will be required to wear Bali’s traditional long sarongs instead of the bikinis that are typically part of the competition, said Adjie Soeratmadjie, one of the local organisers.

He said the London-based Miss World Organisation had agreed to the request out of respect for the traditional customs and values of Indonesia.

Most Muslims in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Islamic country, are moderate, but a small extremist fringe has become more vocal in recent years.

           — Hat tip: McR [Return to headlines]

EU-China Trade War: Europeans: Comply or Else…

China Daily Beijing

Following the European Commission decision to tax imports of Chinese solar panels, Beijing has decided to launch a probe on European wine imports. And if the 27 do not get the message, other retaliatory measures will follow, warns the Chinese official newspaper.

China’s decision to launch an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probe into wine imports from the European Union signals the country will safeguard its major economic interests — and it has ample cards in hand to do so.

The Ministry of Commerce said that it has started the probe at the request of local wine producers. It comes after the EU decided on Tuesday to impose an initial tariff of 11.8 per cent on imports of solar panels, cells and wafers from China.

If the two sides do not reach an agreement in August, the tariff will be increased to more than 47 per cent on average.

The EU made the decision in the face of strong opposition from China, and a large number of European enterprises are set to suffer as a result.

The wine probe serves as a timely warning that it is not just European photovoltaic enterprises that will be the victims if the EU sticks to its protectionist stance.

‘Tit-for-tat retaliations’

The lingering debt crisis in Europe has dented its economic vitality, but protectionism is not the solution. It will only incur tit-for-tat retaliations and worsen its economic prospects….

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

Beggars and Thieves From Across Europe Are Flocking to the Streets of Britain, Theresa May Warns the EU

Migrants are travelling from across the EU to ‘beg and steal’ on the streets of Britain, Theresa May will warn Europe’s leaders.

The Home Secretary will demand action to end abuse of the EU’s free movement directive by people who have no intention of finding work.

At a meeting of European home affairs ministers in Luxembourg on Friday, she will highlight how gangs of beggars are setting up camps in London to launch raids on the unsuspecting public.

She will also outline a case in which Romanian fraudsters fleeced the British taxpayer of almost £3million.

Home Office officials say it is a huge achievement for the issue to even be discussed.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Backlash to Obama’s Gay Rights Agenda

An Obama-allied group that is at the center of the scandal over IRS harassment of conservative organizations was the target of a protest outside its own headquarters.

“The escalation of homosexual activist power is bad for America, and American liberty,” declared Peter LaBarbera of the group Americans for Truth outside the headquarters of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) in Washington, D.C. He said Christians and conservatives in favor of traditional values are being subjected to “intimidation, bullying, violence, [and] dirty tricks,” such as the HRC’s acquisition of the National Organization for Marriage’s IRS donor filings, for the purpose of harassing opponents of the gay agenda.

The Huffington Post had also received and publicized the confidential information, a violation of federal law.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Coulter: Tips for Right-Wingers on the IRS Scandal

At Tuesday’s congressional hearings on the IRS, witnesses provided shocking details about the agency’s abuse of conservative groups.

The IRS leaked the donor list of The National Organization for Marriage to their political opponents, the pro-gay-marriage Human Rights Campaign. This is not idle speculation: The documents had an internal IRS stamp on them. The list of names was then published on a number of liberal websites and NOW’s donors were harassed.

The IRS demanded that all members of the Coalition for Life of Iowa swear under penalty of perjury that they wouldn’t pray, picket or protest outside of Planned Parenthood. They were also asked to provide details of their prayer meetings.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Italian Equal Opportunity Minister Preparing Gay Protections

Josefa Idem says sensitizing not enough, more rights needed

(ANSA) — Rome, June 4 — Italian Equal Opportunity and Sports Minister Josefa Idem reiterated that she was working on presenting a law against homophobia on Tuesday.

Her comments came after the House unanimously approved adoption of the Istanbul Convention on combating violence against women on last Tuesday — a measure Idem has pushed for since she became minister five weeks ago. “From the beginning of my mandate I have spoken of a law against homophobia and when we have studied it, we will present it,” said Idem on the sidelines of Rome initiative against homophobia hosted by the prime minister’s office, which involved school children.

Idem also said that preparing the law was a complex process and she did not know when it would be ready.

In her address to the audience, Idem said, “Unfortunately the (economic) crisis increases the propensity toward violence against those who are different. One must sensitize (people) on this subject and on the LGBT world,” making reference to the abbreviation for the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender community.

At the basis of the violence, she said, was “ignorance” deep inside people.

“It is important, therefore, to count on young people, to train them to be sensitive regarding stereotypes and to value diversity, which isn’t seen as enriching. Congratulations, therefore, to the entire scholastic world that got involved (in this initiative)….But sensitizing is not enough. One must aim very much at rights. And measures must be much more effective regarding the excesses of homophobia”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Valedictorian Rips Up Approved Speech, Recites Lord’s Prayer

Roy Costner IV ended his high school career with a bang. As valedictorian, Costner had the honor of giving a speech in front of the entire school, and he certainly made an impact. The school district, under threats from the ACLU and atheist groups, had decided to end the practice of praying before school events. Costner had something else in mind.

As reported by Christian News, Liberty High School held its graduation ceremonies this past week, and little did the school officials know that their valedictorian was about to make national news.

“A high school valedictorian from South Carolina ripped up his approved speech on stage this past weekend, and minutes later, delivered the Lord’s Prayer in defiance of the school district’s decision to no longer include prayer at graduation ceremonies.

“Roy Costner IV drew loud applause and cheers when he surprised attendees of the Liberty High School graduation at Clemson’s Littlejohn Colliseum on Saturday.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Computer Virus Found on Facebook Steals Bank Details and Money From Accounts When Users Click on Links

A computer virus that steals bank details and empties money from accounts has been found on Facebook.

Eric Feinberg, who controls the U.S National Football League Facebook page, discovered the malicious links were being posted on his brand’s page by fake profiles.

The links are believed to be controlled by the Russian Business Network — an online criminal gang accused of stealing internet users’ identities and private information…

Security firm Trend Micro claim that there may be many more hidden on pages, or even being spread inadvertently by Facebook friends.

When a Facebook user clicks the links the Trojan — which gets its name from the Trojan horse the Greeks used to enter the city of Troy undetected — is installed on their computer.

It then scans all the personal files and steals any private information.

The malware is also able to collect login details, even if they aren’t stored in documents on your PC, by using keystroke logging.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Enemies of the State — the Misuse of Psychiatry as a Tool of Political Repression Has a Long and Sordid History

During the political rule of Josef Stalin, those who displeased the party, the state or Stalin himself could expect to be taken into custody by the secret police — the dreaded NKVD or later the KGB — and either imprisoned or summarily executed with a bullet to the back of the neck after being interrogated and tortured. After Stalin’s death in 1953, the de-Stalinization of the U.S.S.R. began under Nikita Khrushchev and the party sought ways to improve its image in the western press, notwithstanding the on-going Cold War or the proxy wars the Communist Bloc was then fighting with NATO and its allies. After the close call of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, and further into the 1960s and 1970s, these efforts intensified. For propaganda value and a variety of other reasons, the Kremlin was not anxious to derail the détente and gradual thawing of relations then beginning with the west.

The Soviet state still maintained a vast network of gulags (prison camps) across the Soviet Union, and while the secret police were just as capable of breaking bones and taking lives as before, the party sought more subtle means of handling its internal enemies. Enter the Fifth Directorate of the KGB, the division charged with maintaining “internal security” against artistic, political and religious dissent. By then, the KGB had perfected the use of psychiatric medicine as a tool of the state and had used it against such dissidents as writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, among many others.

The simple, almost elegant beauty of this method lay in the fact that the state could punish its enemies and remove them from society without any of the negative propaganda or poor public relations attendant to harsher, visibly crueler techniques. The tools of medicine, developed to relieve and heal human suffering, could be turned against enemies of the state without anyone being the wiser that the “patient” was in fact being punished and systematically stripped of his rights. Indeed, in its “mercy,” the party propagandists could claim that the state was helping the individual in question — who was obviously sick — by making sure that he received the finest medical care available.

In reality, the “patient” was usually a dissident or someone else causing trouble for the regime; after a pro forma medical-psychiatric examination designed to provide the appearance of normalcy, the subject could then be committed to a mental facility. Later, when attention was elsewhere, if necessary he could be sent to the gulag or discretely executed and buried in an unmarked grave.

It would be nice to report that the civilized world has seen the last of such methods as those outlined above, but unfortunately, that is not the case. The Obama administration has resurrected some of the old Soviet methods, dusted them off, added a few 21st century modifications and is now attempting to use them on the American public.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UN’s “Post-2015 Development Agenda” Morphed From “Agenda 21”

The main goal of this new agenda is to end poverty through sustainable development in one generation, by 2030 to be exact.

Sustainable development as the United Nations envisions it includes development of good governance as they see it, rule of law, free speech, open and accountable government. Sounds lofty, however, should governments be accountable to the United Nations?

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of 13 years ago did not include the economic, social, and environmental aspects of sustainable development — it did not promote sustainable patterns of consumption and production and left out guidelines for consumption and production. Most importantly, climate change was not addressed. Substituting global warming for climate change might pass the scrutiny.

The entire 69-page document can be found in English at the following link

One World, One Sustainable Development Agenda, Building Consensus, and Our Vision are touted in the paper. I have no idea who empowered the UN to fundamentally transform our sovereign way of life.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

7 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 6/6/2013

  1. Hope you’re feeling better Baron..and your eye is getting better too..You guys have a great summer..(if it ever gets here)..

  2. Canceling my texts in the News section ?

    Not bringing any arguments against …..

    Baron – you do not look out for the way of love ——– you look out for the selfish ways of “promoting” the war “solutions” which is also a racial “solution”.

    You search cover behind Israel to fight against races which you do not like.

    If any clear thinking would reign your heart you would check that the real solution is a solution on mind and not on weapon.

    You “work” on the war “solution” —- I do not ! I work on the true solutions which ideally needs no war at all …………

    • Archangel —

      Let me make something perfectly clear: I am in no way obliged to publish your incredibly long rambling tracts, here in the news feed or anywhere else.

      Those pieces in no way constitute news. They do not serve to enhance the contents of this blog. They may even inhibit it.

      Such writings need to be on your own blog, which you may set up at no charge at any time — just as I did — at Blogger or one of the other free hosting services. There you may say whatever you like, at as great a length as you desire, without any worries about being “censored”.

      But not here. I won’t have our blog converted into a sandbox for your preoccupations.

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