Gates of Vienna News Feed 10/19/2013

The Justice Department appears to be on the verge of a shakedown settlement with JPMorgan Chase. The figure reached is an unprecedented $13 billion in fines and restitution, which when paid will make all the criminal investigations of the bank go away.

In other news, textbooks used in many public schools in Pakistan describe the killing of Christians as a “goal to be sought”. Even Christian students are required to read and study these texts.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Insubria, KP, Papa Whiskey, Steen, The Observer, 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
» JPMorgan Chase and Justice Dept. Said to be Discussing a Record $13 Billion Settlement
» Mark Steyn: Potemkin Parliament
» Piers Morgan Whines That he is “Maligned” And “Misunderstood.”
Europe and the EU
» “Happy and Flattered, “ Indonesian Tycoon Erick Thohir is Inter Milan’s New Owner
» Denmark-Sweden: Identical Twins — Or Cain and Abel?
» European Parliament: Headed for a Single Seat
» Italian Premier Gets Obama’s Endorsement
» Italian Doctor Offers Own Burial Plot for Priebke’s Burial
» Italian Politician Believes There Are Two Sides to Monti
» Italy: Judiciary Body Set to Drop Case Against Berlusconi Judge
» Italy: Firestorm Follows Claim That Berlusconi Fiancée a Lesbian
» Italy: Fiat Heir Claims He Was Abused at Jesuit School
» Netherlands: UN Investigates ‘Racist Stereotype’ Claims for Zwarte Piet (Update)
» Sweden: Fear and Giggles: A Day as a Jew in Malmö
North Africa
» Ten Members of Ansar Al-Sharia Killed in Tunisia
Middle East
» Is This the Most Sickening Image of the War in Syria So Far? Snipers ‘Target Unborn Children in Chilling Competition to Win Cigarettes’
» Syria: Deadly Explosion in Christian Loyalist Suburb of Damascus
» Training of Syrian Insurgents Steps Up in Saudi Arabia
South Asia
» Italy Reducing Its Forces in Afghanistan, Says Mauro
» Pakistan: School Textbooks Teach It’s Okay to Kill Christians
Australia — Pacific
» Religious Levy Costs Queensland Abattoirs Thousands Each Month
» France: Francois Hollande Allows Kosovan Deportee to Return
» Italy: Macerta Council Clerk Takes Own Life in ‘Migrant Scam’
» Roma Schoolgirl Will Not Return to France Without Family
Culture Wars
» France: Mayors Can’t be Gay Marriage Conscientious Objectors
» Transsexual Policewoman Sues British Police

JPMorgan Chase and Justice Dept. Said to be Discussing a Record $13 Billion Settlement

JPMorgan Chase and the Justice Department are moving closer to a $13 billion settlement over the bank’s mortgage practices, people briefed on the talks said Saturday, a record penalty that would cap weeks of heated negotiating and underscore the extent of the bank’s legal woes.

To resolve an array of federal and state investigations into the bank’s sale of troubled mortgage securities to investors in the lead up to the financial crisis, the bank would be expected to pay about $9 billion in fines, according to a person briefed on the negotiations. JPMorgan, the nation’s largest bank, will also likely provide about $4 billion in relief for struggling homeowners, another person briefed on the talks said.

The penalties eclipse what the bank previously offered to pay. Until now, JPMorgan was offering about $11 billion. And it had been refusing to increase its offer until the Justice Department dropped a parallel criminal investigation into the bank’s sale of troubled mortgage securities to investors.

[Return to headlines]

Mark Steyn: Potemkin Parliament

The least dispiriting moment of another grim week in Washington was the sight of ornery veterans tearing down the Barrycades around the war memorials on the National Mall, dragging them up the street, and dumping them outside the White House. This was, as Kevin Williamson wrote at National Review, “as excellent a gesture of the American spirit as our increasingly docile nation has seen in years.” Indeed. The wounded vet with two artificial legs balancing the Barrycade on his Segway was especially impressive. It would have been even better had these disgruntled citizens neatly lined up the Barrycades across the front of the White House and round the sides, symbolically Barrycading him in as punishment for Barrycading them out. But, in a town where an unarmed woman can be left a bullet-riddled corpse merely for driving too near His Benign Majesty’s palace and nobody seems to care, one appreciates a certain caution.

By Wednesday, however, it was business as usual. Which is to say the usual last-minute deal just ahead of the usual make-or-break deadline to resume spending as usual. There was nothing surprising about this. Everyone knew the Republicans were going to fold. Folding is what Republicans do. John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are so good at folding Obama should hire them as White House valets.

[Mark Steyn is a national treasure, even if he is a Canuck. — PW]

           — Hat tip: Papa Whiskey [Return to headlines]

Piers Morgan Whines That he is “Maligned” And “Misunderstood.”

By Daniel Greenfield

Excerpt: With rumors growing that CNN is prepared to dump the disgraced former Daily Mirror editor over poor performance, Piers Morgan appears to be prepping for a transition back to work in the UK. Key to making that transition is convincing people in the UK that he’s a success in the US, rather than a failure known only for his one-note rants about gun control. And the Guardian and a friendly pal of his are perfect for rolling out the new “successful” Piers Morgan.

           — Hat tip: KP [Return to headlines]

“Happy and Flattered, “ Indonesian Tycoon Erick Thohir is Inter Milan’s New Owner

Through his company, the 43-year-old businessman is paying € 250 million for 70 per cent of the Italian team. His goal is to win with a more “international team” and an Indonesian among its players. Ordinary Indonesians are astonished by the power and wealth of one of their tycoons.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — “I am happy and flattered. I thank everybody for their crucial support, which spurred me to finalise the deal. [However], the road to reach our goal is still long,” said the team’s new young owner, Indonesian tycoon Erick Thohir after agreeing to the terms for the purchase of Milan’s historic ‘Internazionale’ football team from its current owners, the Moratti family.

After a gruelling six-month negotiation, the Asian businessman bought 70 per cent of the company shares. He will own 35 per cent, whilst his partners Roeslani and Soetedjo will hold 17 per cent each.

Thohir agreed to pay the team’s outgoing Italian owners just over € 250 million (US$ 340 million). He said he is “happy and flattered” to be Inter Milan’s majority shareholder.

Even in Indonesia, a nation where football has a wide appeal, people are familiar with the successes of Inter Milan, a team that has however lost some of its shine in the past two years after winning the Champions League in 2010.

The team’s new 43-year-old owner, who heads a financial empire, said he hopes that one day an Indonesian player might join the Milan-based team, making it more international in accordance with its Italian name (Internazionale).

Thohir will not be alone in this adventure. His two oldest partners, Rosan Roeslani and Handy Soetedjo, are joining him.

After going to university in Belgium, Roeslani now holds business interests in banking, assets management and construction.

Soetedjo is unknown to most Indonesians outside of certain circles. With Thohir, he owns the PT Mahaka Media Tbk. Since 2011, he also owns Philadelphia 76ers NBA basketball team. His other interests are in mining and oil.

Erick Thohir, father of four, is now a “new entry” in the local and international business world. Son of the co-founder of the country’s main car company, Astra International, he earned greater visibility in the sporting world.

So far, Indonesia football fans and others in civil society have had little to say about the transaction because the economics of sports tend to be low key. However, quite a few people were surprised that fellow Indonesians could have achieved such power and wealth, people like 43-year old Erick Thohir that is.

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

Denmark-Sweden: Identical Twins — Or Cain and Abel?

Dagens Nyheter Stockholm

Few European countries are as similar as Denmark and Sweden. But while the states are becoming more economically integrated, their populations remain divided, writes a Stockholm-based Danish political scientist. Excerpts.

Drude Dahlerup

“Do you know that everything that is not forbidden in Sweden, is mandatory?” This is a joke that has been circulating in the corridors of the Danish political scene for years. Naturally, everyone knew that it wasn’t true, but it got a lot of laughs. It was part of our low-key, standard teasing between neighbours.

Seen from the rest of the world, Sweden and Denmark look very similar in terms of legislation, the voluntary sector, and culture. The bickering over trivia, the sarcasm about the idiosyncrasies of each other helps, here as elsewhere in the world, to shore up a national identity, with both good and bad consequences.

For 10 years now, though, there has been a growing impression that this friendly bantering between Sweden and Denmark has given way to genuine antagonism, and at times to a frankly hateful climate in public debate. “In Denmark, you can hurt people in the name of freedom of expression,” you hear people say in Sweden, while in Denmark the Swedes are described as rigid prisoners of the politically correct, “too afraid to talk straight” in the immigration debate. You will have noted the generalisations — the first rule of all good prejudice. It’s the Swedish people against the Danish people. Where stereotypes abound, the internal debates within the other country are ignored.

As a Danish national living in Stockholm since the end of the 1990s, I have followed these developments with growing unease. While the bonds between northern and southern businesses are quickly growing stronger and while opinion in favour of this cooperation is still very strong, some politicians and elements of the media on both banks of the Öresund have embarked on a misguided campaign to make the other country a whipping boy.

My theory is that warnings on “the situation in Sweden” or “the situation in Denmark” primarily serve the purposes of domestic political wrangling. Today one can say almost anything about the next-door neighbour, because it is a discussion about, not with the other country. In both countries, the political debate is taking place almost entirely within the national context, and knowledge of the life and political debates of the neighbour are shockingly low.

The immigration issue

Let’s look at one of the areas where Swedish and Danish debates are probably the most divergent, and where the fallacies, myths and prejudices are the most common — namely, immigration….

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

European Parliament: Headed for a Single Seat

Les Dernières nouvelles d’Alsace, The Daily Telegraph

“The anti-Strasbourg faction has won yet another victory,” complains Les Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace, in the wake of the adoption by the European Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs (by 22 votes to 4) of a report, which demands that MEPs themselves decide on the venue for the European Parliament’s plenary sessions.

Lambasting a document “without any legislative value”, which was “undertaken on the initiative of notoriously anti-Strasbourg representatives,” the Strasbourg daily points out that the report —

A solid majority of MEPs are opposed to the monthly sessions in Strasbourg. And that is precisely the location of the next plenary session in November, where they are expected to approve this report.

In London, the Daily Telegraph, which is not known for its fondness for European institutions, voices its support for the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, and points to the environmental impact of the two-city system —

The constant shuffling between Brussels and Strasbourg — which takes place twice this month — also pumps an estimated 20,000 tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere.

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

Italian Premier Gets Obama’s Endorsement

US president praises Letta’s leadership, integrity

(by Denis Greenan) (ANSAmed) — WASHINGTON — Italian Premier Enrico Letta got a ringing endorsement from US President Barack Obama on his first visit to the White House Thursday.

Obama told Letta he had been “impressed” by his leadership of an unprecedented and unruly right-left government, cobbled together between traditional foes to end a two-month post-election stalemate in April.

He also praised Letta’s “integrity” in staying firm amid intense political pressure.

Letta recently won a key confidence vote to strengthen the government after uneasy ally Silvio Berlusconi, the media magnate and three-time premier, did a last-minute U-turn because of a rebellion by leading members of his People of Freedom (PdL) party.

The Italian premier, former deputy head of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), has since sealed a PD-PdL deal on a budget bill to keep Italy’s finances in shape while helping the economy emerge from its longest recession in 20 years.

Obama said that, with the budget and other moves, Italy is “on the right track” with essential political and economic reforms.

The economic restructuring Letta is attempting will be “of great help to bring the country out of recession,” Obama said.

Letta said the narrowing spread with Germany’s top-rated bonds and Italian paper shows Italy is on the right fiscal path.

He said markets had welcomed his 2014 budget, launched Tuesday night. The spread closed trading at 233 basis points after hitting a two-year low of 229 earlier this week.

Letta said the last-minute US debt-ceiling deal, which avoided a potentially catastrophic default, was good for Italy because it will keep interest rates low for the debt-laden country.

Italy has the second-biggest public debt in the eurozone after Greece and pays a high premium to investors for holding its bonds.

A US default would have sparked a sharp rise in global interest rates.

Letta promised Obama that Italy will work hard to promote growth in Italy and Europe.

He said growth would be a priority of Italy’s six-month spell at the EU helm from the middle of next year.

Italy has been trying to get the EU to move from German-led austerity policies to growth-stoking measures, alongside fiscal discipline. The “importance of European growth,” dealing with youth unemployment and developing a “strong growth agenda” were key topics of the talks, Obama said. Obama said Italy was an “exceptional partner” for the United States. He cited Rome’s role in US efforts to help restore order in Libya, end the conflict in Syria and keep up the war on terror. US military bases in Italy are of crucial importance to the security of American personnel operating in North Africa, US officials said.

Some 30,000 US military personnel and their families are based in various parts of Italy.

Italy is playing a lead role along with the US, Britain and Turkey in helping Libya’s efforts to restore order and rebuild its institutions, the White House said.

Italian troops have been “extraordinary” in helping US-led efforts to make Afghanistan safer, Obama told Letta.

Italy contributed some 3,000 troops to the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan and is now drawing them down like the other allies.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italian Doctor Offers Own Burial Plot for Priebke’s Burial

(AGI) Brescia, Oct 19 — A doctor from Brescia’s network of civilian hospitals offered his own family burial plot at Rovere cemetery for Erich Priebke’s body, which has been in limbo at Pratica di Mare airport for days. Alberto Negri, aged 52, and a hospital employee, is willing to hand over his plot for the war criminal’s burial, local newspaper Brescia Oggi reported. Mr Negri said he would allow Priebke to be buried next to his mother and grandmother in order to send a message that “we must forgive”. He would not, however, be covering the burial costs.

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

Italian Politician Believes There Are Two Sides to Monti

(AGI) Stresa, Oct 19 — Italian politician Pier Ferdinando Casini believes there are two sides to Mario Monti. “I’ve met two Montis. I’m fond of the first one. I won’t comment on the second one”, he stated during a conference titled ‘The Rules of the Economy’.

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

Italy: Judiciary Body Set to Drop Case Against Berlusconi Judge

But Esposito could still be disciplined over interview

(ANSA) — Rome, October 16 — The Italian judiciary’s self-governing body, the CSM, is set to drop a case against a supreme court judge over a controversial interview he gave after leading the panel that upheld a tax-fraud conviction against ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi in August.

Judicial sources said Wednesday that a senior CSM committee that has the power to transfer judges is likely to unanimously vote not to proceed with the case However, Antonio Esposito may still face proceedings as a prosecutor at the supreme Court of Cassation is looking into whether there is a disciplinary case to answer. The interview with Naples-based daily Il Mattino days after Berlusconi received his first definitive conviction following two decades of legal battles caused a massive furore.

It was a highly unusual move as a court usually only comments on its sentences in a written explanation generally published over a month after the verdict is announced.

Esposito said he was talking only in general terms and the newspaper had misconstrued his comments to make it seem like he was referring specifically to Berlusconi’s case.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Firestorm Follows Claim That Berlusconi Fiancée a Lesbian

Pascale threatens lawsuits after allegations on TV program

(ANSA) — Rome, October 18 — A political firestorm and a potential multi-million euro lawsuit were ignited Friday after a Bulgarian actress claimed that ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s fiancée is a lesbian.

Francesca Pascale, 28, said she has been defamed by the allegation and is considering legal action, her lawyer Paola Rubini said Friday.

According to some reports, Pascale could demand as much as 10 million euros in damages.

Pascale is also considering action against a political talk show Servizio Pubblico (public service) on the La7 network, presented by controversial TV personality Michele Santoro, on which the claims were made, said Rubini.

“We are evaluating whether to file a lawsuit,” including the possibility of “acting against LA7,” said Rubini. In response, Bonev wrote on her Twitter feed Friday that she was willing to go to court to defend her remarks.

“I have not received any complaints, but am ready to support the truth, even in front of magistrates,” she wrote.

The controversy arose when Bonev said during Thursday night’s broadcast that Pascale’s engagement to the 77-year-old Berlusconi, who is one of Italy’s richest men and a former three-time premier, is “just a facade” and that she and Pascale were “much more” than just friends.

Bonev has also claimed that Berlusconi knew that Pascale was a lesbian.

“Silvio decided to announce the engagement with Francesca only to continue to have fun with her and her ‘friends’, and not be misjudged by the company,” said Bonev. Berlusconi is appealing after being sentenced to seven years in prison for paying for sex with an underage prostitute at sex parties at his home and abusing his power to cover up the affair.

Three associates of Berlusconi were convicted during of providing him with prostitutes.

Bonev’s comments outraged not only Pascale but triggered a flood of fury from members of Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) political party, who say her claims were made only to tarnish the reputation of the former premier.

“Our history and the story of Silvio Berlusconi cannot ever be fouled by journalism that uses vulgar gossip and questionable characters,” said Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, who is also the PdL secretary. Renato Brunetta, the PdL’s whip in Lower House, claimed the program was designed to throw “mud” and discredit Berlusconi.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Fiat Heir Claims He Was Abused at Jesuit School

Rome, 18 Oct. (AKI) — Fiat heir and wildchild Lapo Elkann has claimed he was abused “physically and sexually” when his family sent him to a Jesuit school as a boy.

“Things happened to me and to other boys. I endured physical and sexual abuse,” 36-year-old Elkann said in an interview on Friday with Il Fatto Quotidiano daily.

He spent ten years at the school after he was diagnosed with dsylexia, a period of his life that he lived through like “a thoroughgoing punishment,” he told the daily.

“I encountered difficult, painful things from the age of 13 which left me with serious problems to deal with in life,” Elkann said.

“Others endured these things and didn’t manage to come to terms with them,” said Elkann.

His best friend at the Jesuit school, committed suicide 18 months ago, Elkann said.

“He saw and experienced the same things that I did.”

Elkann said he was thinking about setting up a foundation to help others who had been abused in their youth to exorcise their demons.

“I’ve had to do a huge amount of work on myself and admit things I had never wanted to admit… you have to do this when your best friend kills themself,” he stressed.

The playboy and entrepreneur is the grandson of late Fiat patriarch Gianni Agnelli.

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

Netherlands: UN Investigates ‘Racist Stereotype’ Claims for Zwarte Piet (Update)

The United Nations high commissioner on human rights is looking into whether Zwarte Piet, considered an essential part of the Sinterklaas festivities, is a racist stereotype, the NRC reports.

In a letter to the Dutch government in January, the body states that according to information it has received ‘the character and image of Black Pete perpetuate a stereotyped image of African people as second class citizens, fostering an underlying sense of inferiority in Dutch society’.

The letter also hints that the character of Black Pete may undermine the Netherlands’ efforts to have the Sinterklaas celebrations recognised as part of official Unesco’s immaterial cultural heritage listings. It ends by asking the Netherlands to answer five key questions about the tradition and the public debate.

The letter was replied to by the Dutch ambassador to the UN, Roderick van Schreven. In his answer, dated July, the ambassador says the Netherlands has not applied to have Sinterklaas included on the UN’s cultural heritage list and that the government is aware ‘Black Pete’ is considered offensive by some people.

The government regards Sinterklaas as a children’s festival with a ‘focus on Sinterklaas who hands out presents’, the ambassador states.

The NRC says the UN officials will discuss the Dutch response to their letter at the end of November.

Prime minister Mark Rutte was asked for his opinion about the ongoing Zwarte Piet debate by reporters on Friday and said he does not consider it an issue for the government. In Amsterdam, activists are trying to stop the traditional Sinterklaas procession because of the inclusion of Zwarte Piet.

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

Sweden: Fear and Giggles: A Day as a Jew in Malmö

Anti-Semitism and Malmö are words that frequently appear together. Jews are turning their back on the southern city in the wake of several incidents while potential Jewish tourists have expressed concern over the city’s safety. The Local’s Patrick Reilly donned a kippah for a day to find out what the situation is really like.

Last month The Local received an email from a Jewish reader in America who is contemplating a visit to Sweden.

“With the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, and some very scary stuff in Sweden (Malmö comes to mind), why should a Jewish guy visit Sweden with his family? I don’t wear tzitzit or a yarmulka, but I look ethnic. I am asking this without sarcasm,” said the reader.

In 2010 the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, which represents Jewish interests abroad, issued a travel warning for Malmö urging “extreme caution.” A year later a Hollywood film company scrapped plans to shoot a Jewish themed movie in the city because of concerns about anti-Semitism there.

Last year the Wiesenthal Centre said “they see no reason to relax or revoke” their travel warning to Jews considering a visit to southern Sweden.

A few months afterwards the Jewish community centre was attacked in a bomb blast. Former mayor Ilmar Reepalu was accused of anti-Semitism during his latter years in office, which coincided with a rise in hate crimes targeted against Jews — although few ever made it to a prosecutor.

Jews who are open about their identity in Malmö are few and far between. There is the Rabbi Shneur Kesselman, who dresses in full traditional Jewish attire, and there is chef Shmuel Goldberg who wears a kippah.

Both have experienced harassment. Kesselman had the word ‘Palestina’ carved into his car while Goldberg says he is frequently verbally abused. Earlier this year he was confronted in central Malmö by an angry man in an incident which almost became violent. He was encouraged to report it to the police who classified it as a hate crime.

When I told Goldberg I intended to wear a kippah for a day he was initially concerned.

“Don’t do anything you wouldn’t ordinarily do. Be careful as at times it can be unpleasant,” he advised.

The idea was to go about my normal day and also visit places which a potential tourist may go to, albeit with one major difference — the kippah clipped to the back of my head.

My intention was not to take the biggest risk possible by venturing into a suburb like Kroksbäck where a Gambian national was recently assaulted along with his young son and nearly thrown off a bridge in a racially motivated crime. Besides, Kroksbäck along with say Rosengård are not exactly tourist hotspots.

Well, it didn’t take long before I got the feeling that I was on display as I walked towards Möllevången…

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

Ten Members of Ansar Al-Sharia Killed in Tunisia

(AGI) Tunis, Oct 19 — Ten members of Ansar al-Sharia were killed in an army raid some 70 kilometres west of Tunis, Prime Minister Ali Larayedh said on Sunday. The Tunisian Defence Ministry also reported the death of two policemen and the seizure of close to two tons of explosives. The announcement came at the end of a three-day operation in the Beja region’s Mount Touyer. The radical Islamist Ansar al-Sharia has been operating in the North African country since 2011.

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

Is This the Most Sickening Image of the War in Syria So Far? Snipers ‘Target Unborn Children in Chilling Competition to Win Cigarettes’

The unborn children of Syrian women are the targets of a sickening war game where a shooter who murders a foetus in its mother’s womb is awarded with cigarettes, a British surgeon has revealed.

Dr David Nott witnessed evidence of fighters using civilians as target practice and on several occasions shooting pregnant women in the stomach, killing their unborn babies.

Dr Nott, recently returned from volunteering at a Syrian hospital, said there are local rumours the snipers are sell swords, working for the Assad regime, awarded when they ‘hit the correct targets’…

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Syria: Deadly Explosion in Christian Loyalist Suburb of Damascus

(AGI) Damascus, Oct 19 — A deadly explosion occurred on Saturday morning in Jaramana, a suburb with a majority of Christians and loyalists. The official press agency Sana reported that the suburb, 10 kilometres southeast of Damascus, extends to the province of Rif Dimashq. Sana has no estimate of the number of victims, but says that the type of explosion would suggest an attack by rebels, referred to by the regime as ‘terrorists’. The rebels control al-Mleah, a district adjacent to Jaramana.

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

Training of Syrian Insurgents Steps Up in Saudi Arabia

Mohammed Najib, Ramallah — IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly

Free Syrian Army (FSA) units are receiving intensive training from US Marine Corps personnel in Saudi Arabia, a senior FSA source has told IHS Jane’s .

The source said the United States and Saudi Arabia have agreed to train around 1,500 insurgents. The programme began a few months ago and most of the personnel will be trained by the end of 2013.

The courses last for 100 days and include fighting in built up areas (FIBUA). The most recent intake that arrived from Jordan on 13 October consists of around 40% from insurgent groups operating inside Syria, with the rest recruited from refugees in neighbouring countries.

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

Italy Reducing Its Forces in Afghanistan, Says Mauro

Likely 1,800 soldiers left by spring 2014

(ANSA) — Rome, October 17 — Italy is withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan and will leave as few as 1,800 by the first quarter of next year, Defence Minister Mario Mauro told a parliamentary committee Thursday.

The Italian withdrawal, in line with reductions by other NATO allies in the ISAF mission, will see the Italian contingent in Afghanistan reduced from 2,900 by the end of this year to 1,800 by spring.

Italy will maintain a presence in Afghanistan after 2014 through a support mission, involving 59 countries, where it will assist with business training and other forms of support excluding law enforcement, said Mauro.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Pakistan: School Textbooks Teach It’s Okay to Kill Christians

In a report by the Middle East Media Research discriminatory books are widespread in all public primary schools . By law, Christians are forced to study these texts.

Islamabad ( AsiaNews / Agencies) — The text-books of Pakistani schools pose the killing of Christians as “goal to be sought” that would help the same members of the minority to seek martyrdom for the faith. This is shown by a report published in late September by the Middle East Media Research ( MEMRI ) .

According to research, the texts are common in most public primary schools and even Pakistani Christians and members of other minorities are forced to read and study them. The authors of the books led by the religious leaders have changed the meaning of the term “minority”, which is now perceived with negative meaning .

The problem of education in Pakistan emerged strongly in 2011, the year that the government dedicated to the promotion of this issue. In one year, several studies were published which showed that thousands of non-Muslim students are “forced” to study Islam and elements of the Muslim religion, for fear of discrimination. In 2012 the Catholic Church National Commission for Justice and Peace published a report denouncing the law passed by the Punjab Parliament that makes study of the Koran mandatory.

In an interview published by AsiaNews in 2011, Msgr . Lawrence John Saldanha , archbishop emeritus of Lahore ( Punjab ) , said that Pakistan has become a state for “only Muslims.” Non-Muslims do not enjoy equal rights.

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

Religious Levy Costs Queensland Abattoirs Thousands Each Month

QUEENSLAND abattoirs are being slugged thousands of dollars a month through a religious levy on meat exports so powerful Muslim clerics in Jakarta can raise money for Islamic schools and mosques.

The Halal certification fees can cost some meat processors up to $27,000 a month.

The Indonesian Council of Ulama (MUI), the top Islamic body which orders fatwa religious rulings, has even banned a Brisbane business from operating — because it was not charging Queensland abattoirs enough to give the religious tick-off to export meat.

The scandal has stopped most of Queensland’s Halal meat exports to Indonesia, as angry abattoir operators boycott the more expensive Halal certifiers endorsed by the MUI.

Australian companies that certify meat as Halal, or legal under Islamic law, must be accredited with Indonesia’s MUI — which approves just one certifier per state or territory.

The MUI has suspended Brisbane based Australian Halal Food Services (AHFS) for engaging in “unfair competition” that could “weaken (the) Halal certification movement”.

Certifiers must donate a share of their revenue to mosques and Islamic schools.

AHFS — which refused to comment on Saturday — sponsors the As-Salaam Institute of Islamic Studies, based in Eight Mile Plains. It has also spent funds repairing and maintaining mosques in Rochedale and Rockhampton.

One big Queensland meat processor, which did not want to be identified, claimed it had been quoted $27,000 a month in Halal certification fees through another MUI-endorsed certifier — four times more than AHFS had been charging.

JBS Australia — the nation’s biggest meat packer and exporter with more than 8500 employees — has been unable to export beef from Queensland to Indonesia.

“We need to look at options (for hiring certifiers) rather than be dictated by one supplier of a service,” JBS director John Berry said

But MUI chairman Amidhan Shaberah said AHFS had been suspended for trying to work interstate, as well as Queensland. He said setting minimum fees and restricting one certifier to work in each state was “part of our control”.

“We have to standardise the charge to avoid any unfair competition between certifiers,” he told The Sunday Mail during an interview in Jakarta.

The federal Department of Agriculture confirmed it had no power over approvals for religious certifiers. A spokesman said the Government “values our close relationship with MUI”.

           — Hat tip: The Observer [Return to headlines]

France: Francois Hollande Allows Kosovan Deportee to Return

(AGI) Paris, Oct 19 — Leonarda, the Kosovan girl who was deported from France, can continue her schooling in France if she wishes to do so. French President Francois Hollande said: “If she submits a request, and if she wishes to continue her studies, then she, and she alone, is welcome to come back”.

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

Italy: Macerta Council Clerk Takes Own Life in ‘Migrant Scam’

Suicide ‘took bribes to help families reunite’

(ANSA) — Macerata, October 18 — A councillor in the Marche city of Macerta committed suicide Friday after being probed for taking bribes to help immigrants’ relatives join their families.

Giuseppe Garufi was under investigation for fraud and embezzlement.

Police said he burned papers to try to clear himself.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Roma Schoolgirl Will Not Return to France Without Family

(AGI) Paris, 19 Oct — Leonarda Dibrani, the schoolgirl who was deported to Kosovo from France on Oct. 9, said she would not return to France without her family. The 15-year-old Roma girl rejected French President Francois Hollande’s offer to pursue her studies in the country, saying she would not “abandon” her family. Leonarda said she was not the only one in her family having to go to school. Speaking to journalists in Kosovo, she said the French president had no heart and had not understood the situation or read the report.

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

France: Mayors Can’t be Gay Marriage Conscientious Objectors

Constitutional Council rules public service must be neutral

A protester holds a sign representing the French Marianne underlined by ‘Liberty Equality Sexuality’ during a protest march in support of gay marriage in Paris

(ANSAmed) — PARIS — The French Constitutional Council early on Friday ruled mayors cannot refuse to celebrate same-sex marriages on ground of conscientious objection.

Some mayors had petitioned the Council for an opinion on this issue, since the new same-sex marriage law does not include a conscientious objection clause. The lack of such a clause “is in conformity with the Constitution,” the Council judges said in their opinion. “Lawmakers intended to ensure the law would be applied by their agents, thereby guaranteeing the healthy functioning and neutrality of the public service with regards to marital status”, the Council said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Transsexual Policewoman Sues British Police

(AGI) — London, Oct 18 — A transsexual police officer is suing her force after she allegedly had to “out” herself over a police radio system. PC Emma Chapman, 44, was born male and underwent gender reassignment in 1999 while serving as a volunteer officer with Essex police, in south-east England.

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

6 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 10/19/2013

  1. “…in a town where an unarmed woman can be left a bullet-riddled corpse merely for driving too near His Benign Majesty’s palace and nobody seems to care…”

    Steyn’s locution there is a bit disingenously incomplete. Miriam Carey ran a barricade on White House grounds then would not stop when cops told her to stop and led them on a chase down Pennsylvania Avenue. Any President has to take extraordinary precautions in our time.

    • You are quite wrong, it was murder, they could have shot out the tires or disabled it no problem but the assasinated her, shame they are not so diligent with treasonous traitors that live nearby!

      • It was not murder but execution. When you shoot an unarmed woman with her child in the car it is execution.

  2. Speaking of Miriam Carey, I found this interesting tidbit buried in New York Post report:

    In a search of her Connecticut home afterward, authorities found medications used to treat schizophrenia and depression, CNN reported.

    Carey also left a letter addressed to Francis at her apartment that appeared to contain white powder, CNN said.

    Francis called cops on Carey Dec. 10, and she told officers the president had ordered Stamford locked down and Carey monitored for a television show.

    She was taken away in handcuffs and remanded for a mental health evaluation, ABC reported.

    On Dec. 21, Francis called police again and said Carey was “off her medication.” Sources said a state social worker declared her “100 percent back to normal” in January.

    Stamford Police yesterday would not immediately release the official reports of those incidents. A source said the FBI has asked they not be made public.

    Why does the FBI not want details made public? The likeliest reason would be that there is an Islamic connection with Miriam Carey. If they found out her vehicular attack was motivated by Christian teachings or symbolisms, the FBI likely would not have cared to suppress such information; and of course the mainstream news media would have plastered that on the front page.

  3. We turn away real immigrants who want to and would enrich our societies, for perceived or real minor infractions. We are very concerned about anyone who may have been remotely involved in conflicts of seventy years ago and God knows what else. Yet we give these denizens of the dark ages who drink straight-up brand Christian Killer a base from which they can take their ideology to a whole new level.

    • To be fair, once the Capital Police heard the White House police on the radio with the two calls; “officer down,” and then “shots fired;” unless she made it real obvious she wanted to surrender, they weren’t going to be taking any chances.

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