Gates of Vienna News Feed 7/2/2013

Investigators for the European Commission say that thirteen major banks colluded to suppress competition in the €10 trillion derivatives market during the financial crisis of 2008-2009. It also says that credit default swaps were used by Goldman Sachs and other firms to speculate on the likelihood of a Greek debt crisis in 2010.

In other news, the Obama administration has ordered that the mandate requiring employers to provide health insurance for their employees be delayed until 2015 — that is, until after the midterm elections.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, CSP, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, TV, and all the other tipsters who sent these in.

Notice to tipsters: Please don’t submit extensive excerpts from articles that have been posted behind a subscription firewall, or are otherwise under copyright protection.

Caveat: Articles in the news feed are posted “as is”. Gates of Vienna cannot vouch for the authenticity or accuracy of the contents of any individual item posted here. We check each entry to make sure it is relatively interesting, not patently offensive, and at least superficially plausible. The link to the original is included with each item’s title. Further research and verification are left to the reader.

Financial Crisis
» Banks Rigged €10 Trillion Derivatives Market, Brussels Says
» Confindustria President Quashes Optimism on Italian Economy
» Italy: Economy Minister Says ‘Full’ Recovery Possible in 2013
» The Federal Reserve is Paying Banks Not to Lend 1.8 Trillion Dollars to the American People
» 60 Billion Alien Planets Could Support Life, Study Suggests
» American Freedom Law Center: Muslim Claiming “Defamation” Caves in; Dismisses Lawsuit Against National Security Experts Who Exposed His Ties to Terrorism
» NSA Surveillance Database: Backdoor to a National Gun Registry?
» Seize Your Food and Resources: “Hoarding of Just About Anything Can be Banned”
» The Conservative Founding Fathers Who Saved America
» U.S. Orders $12.5-Million Payment to Victims of Racial Harassment
» White House Delays Employer Health Care Rule Until 2015
» You Want Proof, Here is the Smoking Gun
» Canadian Police Arrest 2 in Relation to Terror Plot
Europe and the EU
» Council of Europe Praises Italy’s Fight Against Corruption
» Italy: Govt Vows Plan to Keep Pompeii’s UNESCO Status
» Italy: Tourists Say Best Treatment Rimini Hotels, Coldest in Como
» Italy: Ribbon Cut on Expanded US Military Base in Vicenza
» Italy: Vegetable Company Allegedly Dodges Tax on 45 Mn Earnings
» Italy: Indictment Sought for Emilio Riva in ‘Tax Fraud’
» Swedish Police Arrest Amateur Circumciser
» UK: Woman in Her 30s Fights for Life After She is Stabbed Repeatedly in Fitness Centre Car Park
» Vandals Daub Racist Graffiti and Spray Swastikas Onto Graves of Dead Muslims in a Welsh Cemetery
» Vatican Prelate Denies Charges in Cash-Flight Scandal
» Yes, You Can Tell the Truth About Jihad Violence in Britain (As Long as You’re for it)
Mediterranean Union
» Music: Tunisia Asks Rome Orchestra to Re-Launch Sector
North Africa
» Egypt: Rebels Fear Islamists Will Storm Protest Sites
» Egypt Teeters on Brink of Overthrow, Seven Reported Killed in Clashes
» Egypt on Brink of Civil War as Seven Killed in Clashes Between Protestors and Morsi Supporters While President Rebuffs Army Ultimatum to Resolve Political Crisis
» Egypt’s Freedom Fighters Make Real Gains: Chance for Freedom and Democracy
» Hundreds of British Soldiers to Deploy to Libya ‘Within Months’ To Train Army in Their Battle With Al Qaeda Extremists
» Millions of Egyptians Standing Up to Muslim Brotherhood Bossman Obama
» Morsi Says No to the Military and Millions of Egyptians Who Call for Democracy
» Obama Smacked by Arab Spring
Middle East
» Syria: State Clashes in Central Homs Continue
» UAE Jails 61 Islamists in Coup Plot Trial, Rights Groups Protest
» United Arab Emirates: Abu Dhabi Convicts 64 Islamists for Organising a Coup D’état
» Russian Rocket Carrying Three Satellites and 600 Tonnes of Highly Toxic Fuel Explodes Into a Spectacular Fireball After Take-Off
South Asia
» Swede Denies Links to Hezbollah in Thai Trial
» You’ve Put us on the Map, Kazakh Despots Tell the PM After He Flew in to Win £700m of Business Deals
Far East
» World’s Biggest Building Opens in China — and the 19 Million Sq Ft Complex is So Huge it Comes With Its Own Artificial Sun
» Black Leaders Fed Up With Obama’s Amnesty Schemes, Will March on D.C.
» Outrage: Obama “Justice” Dept Went After Major Retailer for Verifying Employees’ Immigration Status
» Police Seek Migrants Near Siracusa
» UK: More Than One Million Schoolchildren Don’t Speak English as Their Native Language — Up 54,000 in a Year

Banks Rigged €10 Trillion Derivatives Market, Brussels Says

BRUSSELS — Thirteen big banks colluded to shut out competition from the multi-trillion euro derivatives market, according to an investigation by the European Commission.

The EU’s executive arm said that its investigation, which began in 2011, had uncovered anti-competitive practices during the 2008-9 financial crisis.

The commission investigation focuses on the credit default swap (CDS) market which allows banks and businesses to hedge against possible losses. However, more controversially, they were used by Goldman Sachs and others to speculate on the probability of a Greek debt crisis in 2010.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Confindustria President Quashes Optimism on Italian Economy

Squinzi sceptical of economy minister’s statements

(ANSA) — Rome, July 2 — The chief of the Italian industrialists’ federation Confindustria on Tuesday bucked recovery optimism expressed by the economy minister. Economy Minister Fabrizio Saccomanni on Tuesday told a Confindustria assembly in Rome, “There are a number of signs of improvement even in Italy…signs that the economy is recovering”.

Saccomanni said he expected a “very significant impact on the economic cycle in the second part of the year, and particularly in the fourth quarter”. “I deeply respect Saccomanni, but I truly don’t see signs of light yet,” said Giorgio Squinzi, president of Confindustria.

“May was better than April, June (better) than May, but industrial production in June is down 1.7% on an annual basis. “We’re nearing the bottom and towards the end of the year I think we’ll start climbing again,” Squinzi said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Economy Minister Says ‘Full’ Recovery Possible in 2013

Saccomanni hopeful recession is waning

(ANSA) — Rome, July 1 — A full economic recovery could be possible by the fourth quarter of this year, Economy Minister Fabrizio Saccomanni said Monday.

In an interview with television station TG4, Saccomanni said that a “full recovery of the economy in the fourth quarter of this year” is possible.

The Italian economy, which has been struggling under the weight of its longest recession in more than 20 years, is emerging from the downturn, said Saccomanni.

That forecast echoes similar predictions made last week by industrial employers’ confederation Confindustria.

It said the recession will continue until late this year with “a weak recovery” beginning only in the fourth quarter. Saccomanni also said he hoped a solution to the hated IMU housing tax could be found in the next few weeks.

The center-right People of Freedom (PdL) party of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi has threatened to pull its support from the coalition government if the tax is not rolled back. “If we can resolve (the situation) before August, I for one would be happy,” said Saccomanni.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

The Federal Reserve is Paying Banks Not to Lend 1.8 Trillion Dollars to the American People

Did you know that U.S. banks have more than 1.8 trillion dollars parked at the Federal Reserve and that the Fed is actually paying them not to lend that money to us? We were always told that the goal of quantitative easing was to “help the economy” but the truth is that the vast majority of the money that the Fed has created through quantitative easing has not even gotten into the system. Instead, most of it is sitting at the Fed slowly earning interest for the bankers. Back in October 2008, just as the last financial crisis was starting, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke announced that the Federal Reserve would start paying interest on the reserves that banks keep at the Fed. This caused an absolute explosion in the size of these reserves. Back in 2008, U.S. banks had less than 2 billion dollars of excess reserves parked at the Fed. Today, they have more than 1.8 trillion. In less than five years, the pile of excess reserves has gottennearly 1,000 times larger. This is utter insanity, and it will have very serious consequences down the road.

Posted below is a chart that shows the explosive growth of these excess reserves in recent years…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

60 Billion Alien Planets Could Support Life, Study Suggests

Though only about dozen potentially habitable exoplanets have been detected so far, scientists say the universe should be teeming with alien worlds that could support life. The Milky Way alone may host 60 billion such planets around faint red dwarf stars, a new estimate suggests.

Based on data from NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft, scientists have predicted that there should be one Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of each red dwarf, the most common type of star. But a group of researchers has now doubled that estimate after considering how cloud cover might help an alien planet support life.

“Clouds cause warming, and they cause cooling on Earth,” study researcher Dorian Abbot, an assistant professor in geophysical sciences at the University of Chicago, said in a statement. “They reflect sunlight to cool things off, and they absorb infrared radiation from the surface to make a greenhouse effect. That’s part of what keeps the planet warm enough to sustain life.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

American Freedom Law Center: Muslim Claiming “Defamation” Caves in; Dismisses Lawsuit Against National Security Experts Who Exposed His Ties to Terrorism

A former “Multicultural Relations” officer at the Ohio Department of Homeland Security (OHS) who was fired for falsifying his background filed a notice today in Ohio state court, dismissing his “defamation” lawsuit filed against several national security experts for publishing reports about his role as a former high-ranking official in the Jordanian government and his ties to terrorist organizations. The notice came in response to a motion filed on behalf of the security experts by the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC), which argued that the lawsuit lacked merit and should be dismissed by the court.

Omar Alomari, a Muslim who emigrated from Jordan in 1978, claimed that the experts cast him in a “false light” by publishing false statements about him and, as a result of the statements, tortiously interfered with a business relationship by causing him to be fired.

AFLC filed its motion to dismiss on May 28 on behalf of Todd Alan Sheets, Stephen Coughlin, John Guandolo, and Patrick Poole, who specialize on the Muslim Brotherhood and the sharia-driven threat of stealth jihad to America. AFLC is representing the experts along with local co-counsel David W.T. Carroll of Carroll, Ucker & Hemmer, LLC.

In its motion to dismiss, AFLC argued that Alomari’s allegations lack the requisite elements to sustain either cause of action. Moreover, the facts demonstrate that the OHS terminated Alomari because he falsified his background and covered up an illicit relationship he had with a student while he was teaching at a local community college.

David Yerushalmi, Co-Founder and Senior Counsel of AFLC, commented: “It is likely that Alomari folded his hand so he can re-file this case with another lawyer, perhaps with a Muslim Brotherhood-Hamas lawyer from CAIR. Under Ohio law, it appears that this option still remains. Nonetheless, the writing is on the wall for Mr. Alomari. If he wants to re-file this frivolous action, then the American Freedom Law Center is prepared — like always — to fight back against this form of Islamist ‘lawfare,’ which is nothing more than an attack on the constitutional rights of Americans who speak out against sharia-adherent Islam.”

           — Hat tip: CSP [Return to headlines]

NSA Surveillance Database: Backdoor to a National Gun Registry?

A large group of mostly Democratic U.S. senators penned a letter to National Intelligence Director James Clapper (shown) asking if the NSA had created a national gun registry by keeping all electronic business transactions in a permanent database. And the NSA just might have done this, contrary to existing law.

The 26 senators stated in the June 27 letter penned by Ron Wyden’s office:

We are troubled by the possibility of this bulk collection authority being applied to other categories of records. The PATRIOT Act’s business records authority is very broad in its scope. It can be used to collect information on credit card purchases, pharmacy records, library records, firearm sales records, financial information, and a range of other sensitive subjects. And the bulk collection authority could potentially be used to supersede bans on maintaining gun owner databases, or laws protecting the privacy of medical records, financial records, and records of book and movie purchases.

Additionally, the letter sought to get confirmation of details regarding…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Seize Your Food and Resources: “Hoarding of Just About Anything Can be Banned”

In March of 2012 President Obama signed an executive order which, among other things, gives the federal government authority over every resource and infrastructure element in the United States.

The new order provides specific definitions for each of these essential infrastructure elements, indicating that all resources, not just those owned by large farms and businesses, are to be directly controlled by the government…

“The signing of the National Defense Resources Preparedness executive order grants the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Labor, the Department of Defense and other agencies complete control of all US resources, including the ability to seize, confiscate or re-delegate resources, materials, services, and facilities as deemed necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense as delegated by the following agencies:”

That the government would seize energy depots, large farms, water reservoirs, and infrastructure-critical factories in the midst of a widespread disaster is a given, but how far can they really go?

According to a detailed analysis by Code Green Prep, The Present Legal Support for Seizing our Food and other Supplies suggests they can go all the way, including what you have stocked in your home pantry.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Conservative Founding Fathers Who Saved America

On the Fourth of July it is traditional and proper that we pay tribute to the nation’s Founding Fathers. The names of Washington, Jefferson, Adams and Madison are well known to Americans, but far less of the names of the conservative founders who, in many ways, saved and created the nation through their efforts and sacrifices.

They include Robert Morris, Gouveneur Morris, John and Edward Routledge, James Wilson, Philip Schuyler, and John Dickerson. Their achievements have been mentioned in passing by many historians, but it took David Lefer to do them the full justice they deserve in his new book, “The Founding Conservatives: How a Group of Unsung Heroes Saved the American Revolution.”

For conservatives today, it is testimony to the tenacity, fortitude, and sacrifice these men demonstrated during the long years of the Revolution and it is also the story of the way the colonies, later states, often failed to meet their obligations to fund the soldiers who fought for freedom from England, often suffering horribly at Valley Forge and elsewhere. When the fighting ceased, they just as often found themselves without pay or pension.

– From the Declaration of Independence in 1776, to the peace treaty in 1783, to the ratification of the Constitution in 1788, and the inclusion of the Bill of Rights in 1791, Lever notes that “The Revolution was a time of war without end; of real estate crashes, rampant speculation, and mounting public debt; of popular outrage at bankers and merchants who grew rich while the rest of the nation struggled; of bitter disputes over taxation; and of such animosity between left and right that it left Congress paralyzed for months on end.”

In short, times not unlike our own today.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

U.S. Orders $12.5-Million Payment to Victims of Racial Harassment

The Justice Department orders L.A. County, Lancaster and Palmdale to pay residents of subsidized housing whose civil rights were violated during inspections.

U.S. Department of Justice officials have demanded that Los Angeles County, Lancaster and Palmdale pay a total of $12.5 million to residents who the federal government found were victims of harassment and intimidation in the Antelope Valley.

The demand coincides with last week’s accusation by the Justice Department that Antelope Valley authorities conducted a systematic effort to discriminate against African Americans who received low-income subsidized housing and that sheriff’s deputies engaged in widespread unlawful searches of homes, improper detentions and unreasonable force.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

White House Delays Employer Health Care Rule Until 2015

The Obama administration announced on Tuesday it would delay for a year, until 2015, the Affordable Care Act mandate that employers provide coverage for their workers or pay penalties, responding to business complaints and postponing the effective date beyond next year’s midterm elections.

“We have heard concerns about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively,” Mark J. Mazur, an assistant Treasury secretary, wrote on the department’s Web site in disclosing the delay.

[Return to headlines]

You Want Proof, Here is the Smoking Gun

The direct link between Agenda 21 and local planners

When the fight started against Agenda 21, those of us working to expose it were largely ignored by the main stream media and even the established Conservative movement and its media. Too far out there, they said, to be taken seriously.

Then, as more and more Americans began to experience the dire effects of Sustainable Development in their daily lives, suddenly our message began to take hold. Today, thousands of Americans have taken up the fight. And anti-Agenda 21 activists are storming planning meetings, demanding answers. State legislatures and even some county and city governments are passing legislation against it. It seems the Agenda 21 fight is everywhere.

So, now, proponents of the Sustainable Development policy are alarmed and working feverishly to counter our claims that such controls over local development and energy policy have their roots in international policy. In particular, our claims that these planning policies come from the UN’s Agenda 21, that was introduced to the world at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992.

Their most often used description of Agenda 21 is an “innocuous, 20 year old document that has no enforcement power.” Continuously we hear that local planning programs, especially from such groups like the American Planning Association (APA) have no connection to Agenda 21 or the UN. It’s all local — – or as the APA says in its document, Glossary for the Public, “There is no hidden agenda.” In its ‘Agenda 21: Myths and Facts’ document found on the APA website, the group goes to extreme measures to distance itself and its policies from Agenda 21, specifically saying “The American Planning Association has no affiliation regarding any policy goals and recommendations of the UN.”

Well, then it would be interesting to hear the APA explain this information found in one of its own documents from 1994…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Canadian Police Arrest 2 in Relation to Terror Plot

Police in Canada have arrested and charged a man and woman with terrorism for attempting to leave pressure cooker bombs at British Columbia’s provincial legislature on Canada Day, when thousands of people were expected to be there.

John Stewart Nuttall and Amanda Marie Korody were inspired by Al Qaeda ideology but were self-radicalized, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner James Malizia said Tuesday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Council of Europe Praises Italy’s Fight Against Corruption

But transparency still a problem

(ANSA) — Strasbourg, July 1 — Italy has taken important steps in fighting corruption but still has work to do on increasing financial transparency, a report by the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption group said Monday.

In its latest report on corruption, the council said Italy deserves to be acknowledged for its work on anti-corruption policies in business but “there are still important issues to be resolved”.

In particular, Italian businesses must be more transparent in their financial reporting — including privately held companies.

It also suggested businesses should adopt a code of conduct for dealing with government members including restrictions on gifts.

The anti-corruption group, which made 27 recommendations in October 2009, said it “regretted” the reluctance of Italian legislators to enforce stronger laws governing financial transparency by business.

And it called on Italy to move more quickly on corruption investigation and trials.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Govt Vows Plan to Keep Pompeii’s UNESCO Status

Works to begin, surveillance increased

(By Kate Carlisle) (ANSA) — Naples, July 1 — UNESCO has given Italy until December 31 to apply a series of upgrade measures or face having one of its most famous archeological sites removed from the elite World Heritage catalogue.

A clear plan operated with maximum transparency is needed to keep the world-famous tourist destination of Pompeii on UNESCO’s list, Italian Minister of Culture Massimo Bray said on Monday.

“Shortly safety measures, including videos surveillance for 50% of the area, will be installed and 39 work areas will be opened by 2015,” Bray said.

“These measures are all outlined as necessary and urgent by UNESCO,” Bray added.

To date, five work sites have opened in Pompeii, but two have been halted due to the contractors’ “lack of transparency,” Bray said. Plans for the revamping and preservation of the ancient archeological site of Pompeii were announced in April.

The conference that unveiled the key points of a mega-undertaking called the Grande Progetto Pompei or Great Pompeii Project, said that work would “secure the site’s damaged areas and to ensure that this is done using capable, honest businesses, not organized crime”.

In March, the EU Commission approved an injection of 105 million euros in restoration funds for Pompeii’s ailing monuments, to be combined with matching money from Italy. A parallel project of private investors and businesses to develop areas surrounding the archeological site is also planned.

“In Pompeii, as with the Colosseum and other historical sites, funds and staff are needed,” Bray said in an interview with Il Corriere della Sera daily paper on Monday.

Staff is also needed to effectively monitor the site and avoid damage by visitors.

“The last round of hirings in 2008 foresaw 400 new employees,” Bray said. Some 139,000 people, of which 80% were college graduates, applied, the minister said. Campania region tourism director, Pasquale Sommese, said on Monday that he hoped the responsibility for restoring and preserving the ancient Roman city that was buried under ash in 79 AD did not fall exclusively on the local government.

“The Campania region has invested more than 150 million euros in Pompeii and now the ministry of culture has to do its part,” Sommese said. “Please note that these sites are run directly by the ministry, but there is a lot of uncertainty in the responsibility”. Sommese added that he hoped a situation similar to Naples’ rubbish problem, which has brought criticism from the European Court of Justice and put the region at risk for fines due to a series of trash crises over the years, did not occur.

“I would like to avoid the situation where everyone and no one is responsible,” Sommese said.

He especially warned of union meetings that kept visitors waiting outside the site’s gates last week.

“It is a shame that 600 tourists had to find the gates closed, no matter how noble the unions’ efforts are,” Sommese said.

Pompeii and nearby Herculaneum are some of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations in Italy.

Currently, an exhibit at London’s famed British Museum, Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum, has already recorded 287,000 visitors — well beyond the number expected for its six-month run.

Tens of thousands more are expected to visit the exhibition, which is on course to become the third-most popular in the museum’s history, which first opened its door in 1753.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Tourists Say Best Treatment Rimini Hotels, Coldest in Como

Italy’s historical, artistic beauty, wine key for visitors

(ANSA) — Rimini, July 1 — Visitors say they get the friendliest treatment in hotels in the Adriatic city of Rimini, while lodging in the northern Lake Como region is cold in every sense.

Those findings come from a socio-economic survey of 500 foreign tourists who visited Italian hotels in May.

While 13% said they received friendly service in Rimini, 11% were pleased with Ischia, Capri, Sorrento and Amalfi. Third place went to Gallipoli in the Puglia region, cited by 9%. The city least welcoming was judged to be Como, cited by just 0.3%.

About 39% of tourists surveyed said they recalled friendly greetings by hotel reception staff; another 27% were most affected by the willingness by hotel workers to provide information and suggestions; and 22% appreciated good organization.

The survey found the most important attractions of Italy are the historical, architectural and artistic achievements, cited by 34%; and the country’s food and wine, important to 30%.

Prices, city services and green space were important for visitors.

Chief complaints by visitors were inefficiencies in tourism services including the opening hours of museums and archaeological sites, a problem for 28%.

Others complained of the high cost of tickets, difficulties buying tickets online, and reservation services.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Ribbon Cut on Expanded US Military Base in Vicenza

245-million-euro annex spans 143 acres in UNESCO city

(ANSA) — Vicenza, July 2 — A white ribbon was cut on a newly expanded American military base in Vicenza, Italy on Tuesday. The 245-million-euro expansion of the base in northern Italy, called Del Din, consists of 28 buildings and spans more than 143 acres, including baseball and football fields, a gymnasium, a recreation center, a theater and a mess hall. Largely built in the 16th-century Palladian style, the new installation is also “the first in the history of the US defence department to achieve a sustainability certification,” said Colonel David Buckingham at the inauguration. Also in attendance were Veneto Governor Luca Zaia, American Ambassador Davide Thorne, and General Donald M.Cambell, the commander of the US army in Europe, among other dignitaries. “This is an American investment in American and Italian security,” said Thorne. “It is also the greenest base in the world. It’s a monument to the security and the health not only of those who work here but also to our neighbors”. The base is now equipped to host the entire 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, which had been divided between Italy and Germany. It will also be the headquarters for the 503rd Infantry Regiment, a special support battalion, the 509th Signal Battalion and the US Army Africa Command. The expansion of the air base, which was called Dal Molin until recently, was at the center of controversy for several years and split the local population between those against enlarging the US military presence and those who see this an an economic opportunity.

The project was in and out of the courts until the Council of State in 2009 overturned a regional court’s ruling against the expansion.

The airfield is across town from the main Ederle military base that hosts the headquarters of the Southern European Task Force (SETF), which has been in Italy since the early 1950s and includes a rapid reaction force that has seen action in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Opponents to the project argued expansion would have a devastating effect on the urban fabric of the city, which is on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites for its host of buildings and villas by Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. Others have argued the expansion would make Vicenza a target in the event of a military conflict or terrorist attack.

Still others see it as an economic boon.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Vegetable Company Allegedly Dodges Tax on 45 Mn Earnings

Director cited for false returns

(ANSA) — Bari, July 2 — Finance police busted the director of a wholesale fruit and vegetable company in the southern city of Bari on Tuesday for alleged tax evasion on 41.5 million euros of sales.

Police said the wholesalers carried out numerous undeclared transactions from 2007 to 2011 that left them with over 880,000 euros which should have gone to taxes.

The company director has been cited for false tax returns.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Indictment Sought for Emilio Riva in ‘Tax Fraud’

Family at centre of giant ILVA steel-plant trouble in south

(ANSA) — Milan, July 2 — Prosecutors asked the courts to indict Emilio Riva, former head of troubled steel manufacturer ILVA, on charges of massive tax fraud Tuesday.

Prosecutor Francesco Greco accused Riva, and two other former executives of the steelmaker, of evading 52 million euros in taxes dating back to 2007.

A London-based executive with Deutsche Bank was also named by the prosecution for assisting in the alleged fraud.

Emilio and Adriano Riva, owners of the parent company that owns Taranto’s ILVA steel plant, have been under investigation for fraud against the State and fake money transfers.

Some 1.2 billion euros transferred out of Italy by the Rivas were previously confiscated.

ILVA has faced enormous problems in the past year, most recently with a decision by the Italian government to appoint a commissioner to take over management of the company’s ill-fated Taranto steel plant in southern Italy.

Enrico Bondi’s job as commissioner is to clean up and revamp the plant — the largest in Europe — located in southern Italy.

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

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

In January, ILVA executive and family member Fabio Riva was arrested in London after two months on the run.

Taranto prosecutors had issued a European arrest warrant for Fabio Riva, the deputy chairman of parent-company Riva, last December saying that he was sought as part of a criminal probe into the environmental scandal at the facility.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Swedish Police Arrest Amateur Circumciser

Swedish police have arrested a woman on suspicion of aggravated assault, after two young boys were circumcized in Eksjö, central Sweden.

The two boys, both of whom are younger than ten, were circumcised on Sunday.

“The police received a call on Sunday from someone who had heard the boys screaming,” local police spokesman Göran Gunnarsson told the TT news agency.

The police encountered a 36-year-old woman, believed to be related to the boys, at the scene. She has been arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault, as it is illegal to perform a circumcision without the procedure being supervised by a medical professional.

In 2001, the Swedish parliament passed a law to protect boys against being circumcised without a professional present. The legislation was designed to safeguard them against discomfort, pain, as well as help prevent potential infection.

The prosecutor assigned to the case in Eksjö told Sveriges Radio (SR) that the boys were doing well despite the circumstances.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UK: Woman in Her 30s Fights for Life After She is Stabbed Repeatedly in Fitness Centre Car Park

Police were tonight hunting for a man who stabbed a woman in her 30s and left her with life-threatening injuries in a Birmingham car park.

Reports of an assault in Stirchley, Birmingham, said the man drove away from the scene of the stabbing in a silver vehicle this afternoon.

The man, who is thought to have known the victim, stabbed her multiple times outside a gym.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Vandals Daub Racist Graffiti and Spray Swastikas Onto Graves of Dead Muslims in a Welsh Cemetery

Muslim graves have been defaced with racist graffiti in the latest case of far-right attacks.

Vandals sprayed swastikas, ‘Lee Rigby murder’, and ‘white power’ on four tombstones in the Muslim area of a cemetery in Newport, South Wales, on Saturday night.

They signed their work with initials of the British National Party (BNP), the UK Independence Party (UKIP), and the National Front (NF).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Vatican Prelate Denies Charges in Cash-Flight Scandal

‘Only trying to do favour,’ Msgr Scarano says

(ANSA) — Rome, July 1 — A top Catholic prelate who until recently led a key Vatican accounting unit on Monday denied charges he conspired with a former Italian spy and a financial broker to try to secretly repatriate 20 million euros of laundered money from Switzerland to Italy.

Msgr Nunzio Scarano, from the port city of Salerno near Naples, was suspended a month ago from his job as head of analytic accounts at the Holy See’s asset-management agency APSA when police started sifting through his assets because of his suspiciously large financial holdings and artistic trove.

He was arrested Friday on suspicion of planning to elude customs controls along with Giovanni Maria Zito, a recently transferred agent in the AISI domestic intelligence agency, and financial broker Giovanni Carenzio.

Police said Scarano and Zito set up a private jet to fly the cash for three Salerno-based shipowner brothers, the D’Amicos, whose family was friendly with Scarano.

Zito is suspected of getting 400,000 euros for arranging cover for the flight, which never took place because of last-minute cold feet.

Scarano was questioned for about three hours Monday by investigating magistrate Barbara Callari, who will decide the next step in the process.

The prelate reportedly said he was not comfortable in Rome’s Regina Coeli prison and requested house arrest.

Scarano said he was only “trying to do a favour for the D’Amicos” because of his “long-standing ties to their grandfather.

The prelate told prosecutors he “acted in good faith” but things began to unravel when Carenzio started making “excessive demands”.

Police have said the D’Amico brothers were the alleged beneficiaries of what they called “a complex and expensive operation to evade airport customs controls and bring back into Italy money that is believed to be the fruit of tax evasion”.

The Vatican said Friday it would cooperate “fully” with the probe, which gained headlines worldwide and was seen as a fresh blot on the reputation of the troubled Vatican Bank, the Institute for Religious Works (IOR).

The Scarano probe is part of a wider investigation into alleged shady transactions at IOR, in which former president Ettore Gotti Tedeschi and his former No.2 were placed under investigation in connection with suspected money laundering.

IOR, to which APSA is indirectly linked, said it would launch an internal inquiry “in line with the zero-tolerance policy promoted by (new) president Ernst von Freyberg”.

German aristocrat and industrialist von Freyberg, appointed in February by Pope Benedict XVI in one of his last official acts as pontiff, last month vowed to bring greater transparency to IOR’s dealings.

Von Freyberg said the bank planned to publish its profit and loss accounts online by the year’s end and would run checks on its 19,000 account holders.

In addition, the bank will start to have a different “communication policy”, and plans to give interviews with “qualified representatives of the international press”, von Freyberg said.

The Vatican Bank has made a series of moves to show greater transparency since Argentinian Jesuit bishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis in March, succeeding Benedict XVI, the first pontiff to voluntarily abdicate in 700 years.

As a new broom with a reputation for plain talking, Francis is reportedly keen to remove stains from IOR’s reputation and get it onto the ‘white list’ of countries with unimpeachable anti-money-laundering credentials.

The new pope has vowed to take on power elites in the Curia, or central governance, of the Catholic Church, and recently admitted he would even have to tackle a gay lobby.

Two days before the Scarano case broke Francis set up a pontifical commission on IOR, to brief the pontiff on the bank’s activities and make sure it operated in harmony with the “Church’s mission”.

After coming into the prosecutors’ cross-hairs, IOR has started working with the Council of Europe’s Moneyval anti-money-laundering agency in a bid to make it onto the white list.

In a report last July, Moneyval said that the Holy See had made progress on financial transparency, but added that more reforms were needed.

The Italian press has increasingly speculated on the fate of the scandal-plagued bank, wondering whether the pontiff might reorganize or shut it down.

The new IOR panel will be chaired by Cardinal Raffaele Farina, and it will include another three prelates and Harvard Law Professor Mary Ann Glendon, a former United States Ambassador to the Holy See.

Last month the Vatican’s financial watchdog published its first annual report on the Holy See’s efforts to combat money laundering and funding terrorism.

In it, the Financial Information Authority (AIF) said it had uncovered six cases of suspect transactions in 2012, a notable increase since 2011 when only one such case was flagged.

Two of those cases were sent on to Vatican prosecutors for a probe.

AIF Director Rene’ Bruelhart did not go into the specifics of the transactions, specifying only that “they were not tied to financing terrorism”.

Established by Benedict XVI in 2010, the AIF is charged with monitoring the commercial and monetary activities of Vatican agencies like the Vatican Bank.

Over the years the Vatican Bank has acquired a murky image on transparency.

There have been allegations that IOR was used to launder money most notably by ‘God’s Banker’ Roberto Calvi, the former head of Italy’s biggest private bank, whose body was found hanging under Blackfriar’s Bridge in London in 1982, a suspected victim of the Sicilian mafia.

IOR was also named in kickbacks probes stemming from the 1990 collapse of public-private chemicals colossus Enimont, part of the Clean Hands investigations that swept away Italy’s old political establishment.

More recently, there has been a series of Italian TV reports and a best-selling book claiming to show how individuals have used IOR to squirrel away money, dodging Italian regulations.

A Vatican report to Moneyval is due in December on the basis of a questionnaire the Holy See will receive in September.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Yes, You Can Tell the Truth About Jihad Violence in Britain (As Long as You’re for it)

Why I’m banned from entering the UK but Saudi cleric Mohammed al-Arifi is not.

By Robert Spencer

When he learned that Pamela Geller and I had been banned from entering Great Britain, Roger Kimball wrote in a marvelous PJ Media piece titled “Free Speech Dies in UK” that what Geller and I do is “speak out against the intolerance of Islam,” and for that, we are not welcome in a country where recently a British soldier was “hacked to death by Muslim fanatics.” He summed up the situation in a single phrase: “the irony of the situation is rich.” And since then, it has gotten even richer than that.

Kimball succinctly summed up the Leftist mindset behind the ban:

Disagree with me and I’ll have you named an enemy of the state. Entertain views that conflict with the dominant left-wing narrative and I’ll see to it that you are branded a hate monger and are ostracized (or worse). Say or write something I don’t like and I’ll pretend you did something criminal: I’ll deliberately confuse the expression of opinion and criminal behavior so that the expression of opinion blends seamlessly into criminal behavior….Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer say and write things the timid, politically correct bureaucrats who run Britain don’t and they’re declared pariahs.

The British Home Office was kind enough to spell out which of my views and opinions were so unacceptable as to make it “not conducive to the public good” for me to enter the country. The Home Office’s letter stated that I said this:

… the Prophet Muhammad said that when the Muslims fight the Jews, each and every stone and tree will say: Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him…

I have to admit that the Home Office has a point. After all, to suggest that Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, whom Islamic scholar Karen Armstrong has likened to Gandhi, called for the genocide of the Jews — clearly such a thing would be morally abhorrent. Theresa May, the British Home secretary, almost certainly has been told again and again that Islam teaches tolerance of Jews and Christians as “People of the Book.” Saying that Muhammad told Muslims to kill Jews would be hateful! Islamophobic!

And there is more. The Home Office also depicted me quoting what I brazenly misrepresented as Islamic supremacist aspirations:

We will control the land of the Vatican; we will control Rome and introduce Islam in it. Yes, the Christians, who carve crosses on the breasts of the Muslims in Kosovo — and before then in Bosnia, and before then in many places in the world — will yet pay us the Jiziya [poll tax paid by non-Muslims under Muslim rule], in humiliation, or they will convert to Islam….

Horrors. That is bad: to suggest that Islam, which every right-thinking person knows is tolerant, pluralistic, and peaceful, has imperialist ambitions to conquer and subjugate Europe — clearly such a view would incite hatred against Muslims, and I have to admit that under the circumstances I understand why the Home Office banned me.

And — I am abashed to admit — it gets even worse. The Home Office also quoted me thusly:

There is no doubt that one’s devotion to jihad for the sake of Allah and one’s will to shed blood, smash skulls, and chop off body parts for the sake of Allah and in defense of His religion constitute an honor for the believer.

Now, that’s just going too far. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) recently sponsored a huge ad campaign designed to show that jihad was walking on the beach with a loved one, or dropping off the kids at soccer practice. Everyone knows that the one thing that jihad is not is warfare against and murder of those who don’t believe in Islam. Only hate-filled Islamophobes contend otherwise, and that’s why I was banned from the United Kingdom.

I feel so ashamed.

Except that there’s one catch. In reality, I didn’t say any of those things, and none of them are in the letter to me from the Home Office. Those are all the words of Mohammed al-Arifi, a Saudi cleric who just last week was admitted into Britain without any difficulty…

           — Hat tip: TV [Return to headlines]

Music: Tunisia Asks Rome Orchestra to Re-Launch Sector

Director La Vecchia to reform conservatories

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JULY 1 — Tunisia’s musical scene, hit by a crisis which has lasted many years, well before the ‘revolution’, is hoping in a new dawn with the help of Maestro Francesco La Vecchia who directed Rome’s Symphonic Orchestra last Saturday at the inauguration of the Le Jem Festival with an homage to Giuseppe Verdi. The three-year-long project to re-launch the country’s musical sector will be complex, La Vecchia told ANSA. It will concern a reform of curricula at Tunisia’s four conservatories and will eventually lead to the creation of a national symphonic orchestra based at the municipal theatre in the capital Tunis, the symbol of the Jasmine Spring, after Tunisia’s national flower, as it is from its stairs on avenue Bourghiba that protesters started demonstrating to demand the fall of Ben Ali’s regime.

The initiative, along with others involving the orchestra, will have as a point of reference the Rome-Mediterranean Foundation which has supported Rome’s symphonic orchestra in all its projects including the concerts currently scheduled in Tunisia.

The most difficult thing, La Vecchia said, will be reforming the structure of the current conservatories which don’t have enough courses to train all musicians needed to form a philharmonic orchestra. And La Vecchia means to act on this issue together with the culture ministry. The ministry has asked the director to reform conservatories with the aid of foreign professionals able to improve the quality of courses.

The Tunisian culture ministry has pledged its full support though more aid will be necessary for an initiative aimed at radically changing the profile of classical music in the North African country.

Tunisia holds Rome’s Symphonic Orchestra in great esteem and proof of this is the fact that the concert dedicated to peace held in the splendid Roman amphitheatre of Le Jem was broadcast in prime time by the main national television network.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Egypt: Rebels Fear Islamists Will Storm Protest Sites

Morsi supporters also in front of Cairo University

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, JULY 2 — The rebel movement Tamarod leading the protest against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi fears that ‘Islamist militias will storm the squares’ where demonstrations are held. In a statement released on Tuesday the movement asked security services to guarantee safety in Cairo’s Tahrir square and at the presidential palace Ittahadeya which are calm at the moment. Morsi supporters are gathering in front of Cairo’s University and on Tuesday afternoon Tamarod will organize a march towards Kobba palace, where the president’s office has been moved.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Egypt Teeters on Brink of Overthrow, Seven Reported Killed in Clashes

Egypt teetered on the brink of overthrow late Tuesday after a defiant Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi rejected an ultimatum issued by the military and seven people were reported killed in clashes between his supporters and opponents.

Defense officials have pledged to intervene if the government does not address public demands and end the political turmoil engulfing Cairo.

The clashes came just one day before the deadline set by the military for Morsi and his opponents to work out their differences.

Security and hospital officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the seven were killed in three separate incidents but gave no further details.

Morsi said Tuesday he would pursue his own plans for reconciliation between his government and opposition leaders, according to Reuters.

The Egyptian leader has repeatedly vowed not to quit, saying that street action must not be allowed to remove an elected president. At the same time, Morsi has offered no concessions, although his opponents appear in no mood to accept anything short of his removal.

His Islamist supporters, some hardliners who belong to formerly armed militant groups, have vowed to defend him.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Egypt on Brink of Civil War as Seven Killed in Clashes Between Protestors and Morsi Supporters While President Rebuffs Army Ultimatum to Resolve Political Crisis

Seven people have been killed in clashes between supporters and opponents of Egypt’s president as the country faces the prospect of civil war.

President Mohammed Morsi today rebuffed an army ultimatum to force a resolution to Egypt’s political crisis.

Security and hospital officials say the seven were killed in three separate clashes in Cairo, but had no further details.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media.

Nationwide protests against Morsi prompted the army to tell feuding politicians they had 48 hours find a resolution with the opposition or it would impose its own road map for the country.

Neither side showed any signs of backing down today with Morsi arguing he had not been consulted by the military and would pursue his own plans for national reconciliation.

But the Islamist leader looked increasingly isolated with the liberal opposition refusing to talk to him and the armed forces, backed by millions of protesters in the street, giving him until Wednesday to agree to share power.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Egypt’s Freedom Fighters Make Real Gains: Chance for Freedom and Democracy

The aerial view of Egypt’s cities, towns and villages across Egypt on June 30th, teaming with supporters of the Tamarud freedom movement, resembled an ant colony (industrious with a heavy load many times their weight) filling squares and streets and overflowing into neighborhoods to demand what has long been their goal — the removal of Egypt’s President. On the one year anniversary of President Morsi’s term, hundreds of thousands of protesters (reports estimate several million) delivered a petition necessitating Mr. Morsi’s immediate resignation.

Twenty-five percent of Egypt’s population signed the petition — roughly the same number of voters in last year’s presidential election. If this massive effort accomplishes the task, the world will see for the first time a blueprint for a freedom revolution in the Middle East as Egypt extricates itself from a totalitarian Islamic regime.

This enormous collective action takes place now after a year of Morsi’s unfulfilled promises and the harsh evidence that Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have moved away from the principles of freedom and democracy and the general welfare of the country. Demonstrating patience in the past year toward an elected President-turned-dictator who orchestrated Egypt’s constitution into an Islamic Shariah document, Egyptians have seen Morsi’s agenda and conduct contravene his election promises.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Hundreds of British Soldiers to Deploy to Libya ‘Within Months’ To Train Army in Their Battle With Al Qaeda Extremists

Hundreds of British troops are being prepared to deploy to North Africa to tackle al Qaeda-inspired extremists.

Under secret plans being drawn up urgently by top brass, UK soldiers would be sent — within months — to the region to help train the Libyan army.

Political and military chiefs have acted amid mounting fears that Libya is rapidly becoming a safe haven for Islamist fanatics after Coloner Gadaffi was toppled in October 2011.

But critics have raised concerns that Britain could suffer “mission creep” and be sucked into another bloody war just as fighting in Afghanistan — which has cost 444 UK lives — is drawing to a close.

Military officers warned the proposed deployment would risk “overstretch” as it takes place when the MoD is axing nearly 5,000 soldiers this year, controversially reducing the size of the Army from 102,000 to 82,000.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Millions of Egyptians Standing Up to Muslim Brotherhood Bossman Obama

The Frankenstein radical Islamist Obama put into power in Egypt is falling apart at the seams; his handing a country over to the Muslim Brotherhood, proving to be an epic failure.

More Egyptians are protesting Morsi than those who voted him in: 14 million people marched against him, on Sunday, destroying Muslim Brotherhood headquarters, while 5.7 million voted for him in the first round of presidential elections and 13.2 million voted for him in the second round.

Obama’s phone call made so infinitesimal an impression on the beleaguered president that today he firmly rejected yesterday’s 48-hour ultimatum given by the army, throwing Egypt further into political turmoil. (Financial Times, July 2, 2013)

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Morsi Says No to the Military and Millions of Egyptians Who Call for Democracy

An Egyptian protester talks to AsiaNews about the atmosphere of unity and celebration at Sunday’s mass gathering. Christians, Muslims, young and old, men and women were happy to walk together because they were Egyptians. Mohamed Morsi rejects the army’s 48-hour ultimatum.

Cairo (AsiaNews) — Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi rejected out of hand the military’s ultimatum, announcing that he is determined not to yield to their threat. After mass rallies were held against the Muslim Brotherhood, which on Sunday brought to together at least 23 million Egyptians, the military gave the president and political parties until Wednesday to stop the protests. Should Morsi and parliament fail, the military will intervene to restore order.

Yesterday, Mahmoud Badr, a spokesman for the ‘Tamarod’ campaign that collected 20 million signatures for Morsi’s resignation, called on the Egyptian people to occupy the streets of the country’s main cities until the Muslim Brotherhood gives up power.

Today Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II issued a statement expressing its support for the protesters, urging them to protest in a peaceful manner. Similarly, Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed Al-Tayeb expressed his closeness to the people, denouncing the infiltration of armed men in the marches to provoke violent clashes.

The tense situation has already prompted five ministers to resign, including Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr. At the same time, Morsi’s isolation has been accentuated by a recent decision of the Court of Appeal in Cairo, which today confirmed the dismissal of Talaat Abdallah, the city’s notorious chief prosecutor appointed by the president, who is responsible for the wave of blasphemy trials against Christians and intellectuals.

In order to understand what many experts call “the biggest demonstration in the history of Egypt,” AsiaNews has decided to publish the letter of one of the protesters, anonymous for security reasons. In it, he speaks of the unity of the Egyptian population.

“I’ve seen whole families walking together,” he told us. “Fathers walked with mothers who held their children in their arms, parents walked with grandparents, old people, young people, poor, rich, men, women, every human on two legs; all delighted to be united, because they were all Egyptians. “

What happened yesterday afternoon, since zero hour and now is a miracle. Egypt is being re born. It happened all over the country, but I can only tell you what happened in Cairo. The rest is from T.V. We started moving at around 4 pm, each from their respective locations, but all moving mainly in two directions, towards the Presidential Palace in Heliopolis and towards Tahrir Square.

My wife Mervet and myself with other friends moved from Zamalek (a well off area on an island in the midst of the Nile where are located most of the embassies) Shagaret el Dorr street to Hassan Sabri, towards the Gezira Club, then Feroussia Horsing Club, then Kasr El Nil Bridge, until our final destination, Tahrir Square. People were asked not to carry any other flag but the Egyptian one (contrary to the Muslim Brotherhood who carry black murderous flags, the Hamas and all sorts of foreign flags). Thousands and thousands were moving towards the same directions, they turned into millions, but they are expected to cross the many millions numbers. People were waving their Egyptian flags, chanting, singing and repeating after group leaders encouraging words, slogans and sentences, giving us power and courage. Adrenaline was pumped to unknown heights. All over Egypt, in large cities, governorates, and towns similar large conglomerations were taking place.

All what we seek is a free, liberal and united Country, where all Egyptians have equal rights, are fairly and equally treated, both males and females, both Muslims, and Christians, or others who have their own religious inclinations.

Mervet and I lost each other at a certain time, as the masses were too numerous for a couple to stick together.

I cannot express in words the spirit that reigned among the people. You had families together, parents carrying their children, parents caring for grandparents, old, young, poor, well to do, men, women and any species that walks on two legs. They were all happily unified as EGYPTIANS.

I walked backed home, soaked in my clothes, out of breath, and I start to listen to the World comments on TV, which is music to my ears, but the type that I was dying to hear. The one I liked very much is the comment of CNN: “If this is a show of force, then it is a knockout.”

I hope that the American Ambassador in Cairo (Ann Patterson) should do away with the dishonest approach she has been using since she came from Pakistan (her previous post, where she practiced the same conspiracies), for reasons I do not know and cannot comprehend. I hope that she has the courage to acknowledge her dishonesty in giving the true picture of what is happening in Egypt, belittling the efforts of the opposition, and blowing out of proportion, the inexistent success of the Government. She spoke of “Democracy of the Government,” while in fact it is an autocracy. All parties were put aside. All key positions were given to Muslim Brotherhood, including Ministerial positions and Governors Offices. The so-called President did away with the law, which he took in his own hands. He tried in every way to shut up all decent TV stations, the free press and newspapers, etc. She has covered up on deficiencies that took place in the elections, although she knew the truth about the matter, and these resulted in us having on unwanted, unsuccessful President instead of the one who actually won.

The unmatched success of yesterday will continue, due to the tenacity and conviction of our people, because they are only asking for what is right and honest. It should not last long before their dream is realised.

Keep praying. God will never let us down.

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

Obama Smacked by Arab Spring

Obama just had to meddle in Egyptian affairs. He decided Hosni Mubarak had to go. A flawed leader, to be sure, but a dependable ally to the United States and Israel who did a good job of reigning in extremist elements in his country. In the middle east, there are never truly “good” options. Sometimes there are less terrible ones.

For all of the celebrating among the American punditry and the president who foolishly believed the Egyptian people would glide gracefully from life under a dictator to Jeffersonian democracy overnight, what really happened was as predictable as night following day. Pushing Mubarak out created a power vacuum. In the mid east, those are always filled immediately by Islamic extremists and this time was no different.

The Egyptian people, nowhere near prepared to govern themselves, elected the Muslim Brotherhood by way of Mohamed Morsi. One year later, the people are so pleased with their choice, there is massive violence in the streets.

That ought to be enough to declare Obama’s Arab Spring to be a flop. But, wait, it gets worse. Was Morsi involved in the plotting of the 9/11/12 attack on our embassy at Benghazi?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Syria: State Clashes in Central Homs Continue

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, JULY 2 — Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have been trying since Tuesday morning to access rebel-held districts of Homs, the country’s third largest city in the Centre, Syrian state television reports.

According to the state broadcaster, ‘an entire group of terrorists was wiped out by the worthy soldiers during clashes in Bab al Hud’, which provides access to the city center. The loyalist offensive in Homs has resumed with renewed vigour last Saturday with the support of Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia.

Hezbollah militants have already fought alongside Assad forces and provided key support in the Homs region.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UAE Jails 61 Islamists in Coup Plot Trial, Rights Groups Protest

(Reuters) — Sixty-one convicted coup plotters received jail terms of up to 10 years in the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday after a trial that targeted Islamists and drew criticism from human rights groups.

Among those sentenced were academics, lawyers and members of prominent UAE families, including a cousin of the ruler of one of the seven emirates in the oil-rich federation, a longtime foe of Islamist groups seeking a role in politics and state affairs.

Eight more defendants were sentenced in absentia by the Federal Supreme Court to 15 years in prison, in a judgment denounced by human rights groups as evidence of growing intolerance in the U.S.-allied Gulf Arab country.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

United Arab Emirates: Abu Dhabi Convicts 64 Islamists for Organising a Coup D’état

Arrested in February, the group had close ties with the Muslim Brotherhood in various Arab countries and North Africa. Its funding came from financial companies and real estate.

Dubai (AsiaNews/Agencies) — A court in Abu Dhabi handed down sentences ranging from seven to 15 years in prison for 64 of 94 extremists on trial, eight of them tried in absentia. The remaining 25 were acquitted for lack of evidence. All of them had been arrested in February for plotting a coup d’état.

According to the prosecution, the group had formed a “secret organisation” to overthrow the federal government of the United Arab Emirates, criticised for being too “liberal” and flouting Sharia.

The organisation was in contact with various individuals and organisations in the Arab world and North Africa, including the Muslim Brotherhood, and had created or invested in financial institutions and real estate firms to finance their activities.

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

Russian Rocket Carrying Three Satellites and 600 Tonnes of Highly Toxic Fuel Explodes Into a Spectacular Fireball After Take-Off

A Russian rocket carrying three navigation satellites worth around $200 million and 600 tonnes of highly toxic fuel exploded into a fireball moments after take-off.

The explosion led to a large spill of heptyl, a highly toxic rocket propellant, but there were no reports of casualties or of any immediate threat to nearby settlements.

State-run Rossiya-24 television showed footage of the Proton-M booster rocket veering off course seconds after lift-off at the Russian-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan on Tuesday.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Swede Denies Links to Hezbollah in Thai Trial

A Swedish citizen of Lebanese origin on Tuesday denied links to the Hezbollah movement during his trial on charges of breaking Thailand’s weapons laws.

Atris Hussein, 48, was arrested in Bangkok in January last year and police later found chemicals that can be used to make a bomb at an address he rented.

According to the charges, Hussein and some unidentified accomplices had packed more than six tonnes of ammonium nitrate into bags.

In March Thai authorities alleged Atris had connections to Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shiite Muslim group that is blacklisted as a terrorist organization by Washington.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

You’ve Put us on the Map, Kazakh Despots Tell the PM After He Flew in to Win £700m of Business Deals

Kazakhstan’s brutal regime has gloated that David Cameron and Tony Blair have put their bloodsoaked country on the map yesterday.

The foreign minister of the former Soviet dictatorship, best known as the home of comic creation Borat, said the country was “very honoured and privileged” that two prime ministers have sought to bring the country in from the cold.

Mr Cameron yesterday became the first serving prime minister to visit Kazakhstan and its ageing autocrat Nursultan Nazarbayev, who is accused of sanctioning the torture of his political opponents.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

World’s Biggest Building Opens in China — and the 19 Million Sq Ft Complex is So Huge it Comes With Its Own Artificial Sun

The world’s largest building has opened in China capable of fitting 20 Sydney Opera Houses — or three Pentagons — inside.

The New Century Global Center in Chengdu, Sichuan province, is a staggering 19million sq.ft. and contains shopping centres, a Mediterranean village, a water park, an ice-skating rink, and multiple hotels.

However, visitors to the glass panelled building need not worry about the weather as the giant complex will have its own artificial sun.

The building is 500 metres long, 400 metres wide and 100 metres high, reports said.

According to Chinese officials, the New Century Global Center is the largest freestanding building in the world, and took three years to complete.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Black Leaders Fed Up With Obama’s Amnesty Schemes, Will March on D.C.

Next month, the Black American Leadership Alliance will hold a march in Washington D.C. to protest against the amnesty bill now making its way through the U.S. Senate.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Outrage: Obama “Justice” Dept Went After Major Retailer for Verifying Employees’ Immigration Status

By Debbie Schlussel

If you shop at Macy’s, the price of everything you buy will go up a bit to cover the latest Obama immigration outrage. Macy’s, unlike many other businesses (see Chipotle a/k/a “Sh-tpotle,” America’s largest illegal alien smuggling ring), went the extra mile to verify that its employees are here legally and eligible to work. But the Obama administration no likee that and went after Macy’s in a federal civil lawsuit filed by the Obama (in)Justice Department, which Macy’s just settled for $275,000 (nuisance money) and a whole lotta legal fees.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Police Seek Migrants Near Siracusa

Almost half of 150 arrivals picked up

(ANSA) — Siracusa, July 2 — Italian police on Tuesday were trying to round up about 150 North African migrants whose boat fetched up on rocks near the Sicilian city of Siracusa.

Police said they had so far picked up “about 70” of the fugitives.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UK: More Than One Million Schoolchildren Don’t Speak English as Their Native Language — Up 54,000 in a Year

More than a million school children now do not speak English as their mother tongue — up by nearly 54,000, new official figures reveal.

A survey of the nation’s classrooms, which provides an accurate snapshot of the composition of schools in England, shows a radical transformations taking place.

During the past five years alone, the number of pupils without English as a native language has increased by almost 250,000.

The figures also show an increase in the number of pupils in England who are classed as being from an ethnic minority background.

Now nearly three in 10 primary school children in this category.

In the last year, the numbers of children who speak English as an additional language have risen by almost 54,000, according to statistics published by the Department for Education (DfE)…

English-speaking children were in a minority in 1,600 schools, according to a 2012 census.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

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