Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/14/2013

The percentage of adult American civilians participating in the labor force is lower than it has been for more than 35 years. The last time the proportion dropped below 63% was in 1978, when Jimmy Carter was president.

In other news, a hotel in northern Sweden that is made entirely out of ice and is rebuilt every year will be required by the housing board to install fire alarms this year.

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

Thanks to Fjordman, Insubria, JD, JP, Vlad Tepes, and all the other tipsters who sent these in.

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

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

Financial Crisis
» Americans’ Participation in Labor Force Hits 35-Year Low
» Brooklyn Rabbi: Gang of Teens Playing Disturbing Game of ‘Knock Out the Jew’
» Does This Photo Vindicate Armed Pro-Gun Protesters in Texas?
» Intelligence Agency Seeks Facial Recognition Upgrade
» James (Whitey) Bulger, Crime Boss, Sentenced to Life in Prison
» Numbers Aren’t Adding Up for ObamaCare
» ObamaCare Fraud and Extortion on Track
» Our Friends Are Killing Us
» Poll Shows Republicans Losing Ethnicity, Age Battle in California
» School’s New Spy System Places Children Under Complete Surveillance
» Seattle Police Deactivate Wi-Fi Spy Grid After Privacy Outcry
» Secret Globalist Treaty Threatens Internet Freedom
» Teenage Girl Wielding Bow-and-Arrow Tells Intruder to Get Out
» The American-Made Stuxnet Virus Has Infected the International Space Station
» USDA to Allow U.S. To be Overrun With Contaminated Chicken From China
» Canadian Rower Completes Historic Solo Journey Across Atlantic Ocean
» Ottawa Cops Charge Cabbie in Rape of Woman, 20
Europe and the EU
» Air France-KLM Won’t Subscribe to Alitalia Capital Increase
» Denmark: DF Turns Down EU Anti-Immigration Alliance
» EU Opens in-Depth Review of Italy ‘Imbalances’
» Far-Right French Magazine Under Investigation After Racist Cover
» France: Hollande’s Popularity Dips to 15% in Poll
» Graffiti at Pau Mosque: Imam Admits to Being the Author
» Italian Police Launch Hate-Speech Crackdown
» Italian Prosecutor Warns of Mafia Threat Against Pope Francis
» Italian Employees Declare More Than Owners
» Italy: Police Seize 50 Mn Euros in Assets After Broker’s Suicide
» Italy: Assets Worth 25 Million Seized From Ex-Magliana Gang Boss
» Italy: Teen Rome Prostitutes Had 20-30 Clients, Police Say
» Italy: TV Prankster Arrested for Sex With Minors Says He’s in Love
» Italy: PdL Doves May Snub Showdown With Berlusconi Loyalists
» Italy: Judicial Body Drops Case Against Judge in Berlusconi Case
» Italy: Nigerian Confesses to Murder of 60-Year-Old Bari Woman
» More Italians Marrying Foreigners, ISTAT Says
» OECD Says Italy Public Managers Best Paid Among 34 States
» Prosecutor Warns of a Mafia Threat Against Pope Francis
» Research Shows Patients in Vegetative States Could be Aware and Paying Attention
» S&P Cuts Telecom Italia Rating to Junk Status
» Sweden: Ice Hotel Told to Install Fire Alarms
» Sweden: One in Three Taxi Drivers Suffer Threats: Report
» Swedish Journo Attacks ‘Selfish’ Norway
» UK: George Orwell Betrayed: Islamist Tariq Ramadan Gives a Lecture in His Name
» UK: Traffic Worries Over Mosque Extension in Whitechapel
» What Made the Nazi Holocaust Possible? Gun Control
Middle East
» Iraq: Bombings Kills Dozens of Shia Pilgrims in Iraq
» Over 500 Saudi Lingerie Shops Shut for Non-Compliance
» Saudi Migrant Crackdown Closes Shops, Raises Fears
» Syria: Putin Expresses Concern for Persecution of Christians
» Syria: Al-Qaeda-Linked Rebels Apologise After Cutting Off Head of Wrong Person
» Turkey’s Emerging Role as Sponsor of Global Terrorism
» Western-Raised Jihadists Pouring Into Syria Could Threaten US in Future
» Russia to Deploy Long-Range Attack Drone by 2016
Far East
» Robots to ‘Counter Soaring Labor Costs’ In China
» Soros Crony: Current Energy Policies ‘Partly Caused’ Typhoon
» Unless Persecution Ends, Discussion of Reform in China is Empty Talk
Australia — Pacific
» Jewish Leaders Raise Fears Over George Brandis’ Race Hate Law Changes
Latin America
» Telecom Italia Sells Argentine Holdings for $960 Mn
» 5.2 Million Legal Immigrants Live in Italy
» Italy’s Immigrants De Facto Citizens, Says Kyenge
» To Speak to a Nigerian Prince About Your Health Care, Press ‘1’ Now
Culture Wars
» The Woman Who Wants Sweden’s Gender Rating at a Cinema Near You
» Brazil and Germany Proposed UN Resolution Against Mass Surveillance

Americans’ Participation in Labor Force Hits 35-Year Low

The percentage of American civilians 16 or older who have a job or are actively seeking one dropped to a 35-year low in October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In September, the labor force participation rate was 63.2 percent, but in October it dropped to 62.8 percent — the lowest it has been since February 1978, when Jimmy Carter was president.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Brooklyn Rabbi: Gang of Teens Playing Disturbing Game of ‘Knock Out the Jew’

Activists, Victims’ Families Say 8 Incidents Not About Robbery, But About Hate

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The NYPD is looking into a series of attacks on Jews in Brooklyn. At least one attack was caught on surveillance tape.

Some of the assaults may be part of a disturbing game, CBS 2’s John Slattery reported on Tuesday.

Police have yet to connect all the incidents, but released surveillance video that shows one group attacking a Jewish man. The video shows from a few different angles the victim, a man in a hooded jacket, getting punched.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Does This Photo Vindicate Armed Pro-Gun Protesters in Texas?

A photo of an armed protest on Saturday in Texas may not have been exactly what it seemed.

The photo (posted below) gained national attention this past weekend after it was released by the gun control group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense. Taken at a distance and from the side, it showed the armed protesters gathered in a parking lot, staring forward, with some kneeling, their guns in hand.

Moms Demand Action pointed to it as proof the armed demonstrators had been trying to intimidate a small meeting of the gun control organization’s state chapter that was taking place at a restaurant in Arlington.

But shortly after the story broke, a second photo surfaced online that seemed to show the armed group in a different light. It was taken from the front, and clearly showed them posing and smiling for the camera. Someone in back was holding up an American flag.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Intelligence Agency Seeks Facial Recognition Upgrade

The U.S. intelligence community is pushing a leap forward in facial recognition software that will enable it to determine better the identity of people through a variety of photographs, video and other images.

Called Janus, the program run by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA), “seeks to improve face recognition performance using representations developed from real-world video and images instead of from calibrated and constrained collections. During daily activities, people laugh, smile, frown, yawn and morph their faces into a broad variety of expressions. For each face, these expressions are formed from unique skeletal and musculature features that are similar through one’s lifetime. Janus representations will exploit the full morphological dynamics of the face to enable better matching and faster retrieval.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

James (Whitey) Bulger, Crime Boss, Sentenced to Life in Prison

James (Whitey) Bulger, Boston’s most notorious gangster, was condemned Thursday to spend the rest of his life in prison, receiving two consecutive life sentences plus five years.

Before announcing her sentence, Judge Denise J. Casper of Federal District Court told him that the “scope, callousness and depravity of your crimes are almost unfathomable.” She said his crimes were made “all the more heinous because they were all about money.”

But, she said, “it takes no business acumen to take money from people at the end of a gun.” She recounted the grim list of his murders, how the victims were left to expire at the scene of the crime or stuffed in a trunk. “Unfathomable acts conducted in unfathomable ways,” she said.

[Return to headlines]

Numbers Aren’t Adding Up for ObamaCare

The Obama administration did its best to inflate the number of ObamaCare enrollees yesterday, but it’s clear even the administration’s most vigorous efforts have fallen painfully short.

The initial announcement made at 3:30 p.m. EST revealed that 106,185 people nationwide had “selected” an ObamaCare health insurance plan. The word “selected” is critical here, because the administration was forced to admit the figure includes people who have signed up for the plan, but have yet to pay for their premiums. At the House Oversight Committee hearing on ObamaCare yesterday, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) forced White House Chief Technology Officer Todd Park to reveal the folly of the administration’s position. “Have you ever shopped on Chaffetz asked. “Yes sir,” he replied. “When you put something in your shopping cart, is that considered a sale?” Chaffetz continued. “No,” replied Park.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

ObamaCare Fraud and Extortion on Track

Clearly, ObamaCare was not designed to actually work. Obama’s promises have been broken, all of them. As a result, Obama’s individual approval rating has plummeted to an all-time low in the 30s and the congressional approval rating is bottoming out in the single digits.

No, ObamaCare was designed to carry out the Cloward-Piven Strategy of overloading the social benefits system until the entire system collapses, at which point, Democratic Socialists running Washington DC will capitalize on the health care crisis they created by moving to their end game, a single-payer system run by the Federal Government, wiping out an entire industry responsible for 1/7th of our nation’s economy…

If you don’t know that we are under siege, pay very close attention to this glimpse into reality.

In 1938, members of the US House of Representatives formed the House Committee on Un-American Activities for the sole purpose of defending the Constitutional Republic from Communism and Socialism invading our country.

That committee issued numerous SPECIAL REPORTS warning Americans of an increasing internal threat of communist and socialist “progress” in America.

By 1969, the government had been very successful in the character assassination of McCarthy and everyone involved in confronting the growing communist threat in America, and the name of the House Committee was changed to the House Committee on Internal Security.

In 1975, that committee had been totally neutered and was placed under the House Judiciary Committee.

TODAY, at least eight (8) members of the House Judiciary Committee are public members of either The Communist Party USA, the Socialist Party USA, or the Democratic Socialists of America… The committee formed to stop the spread of communism is now run by known communists

These eight members of the House Judiciary Committee are open members of the extreme LEFT…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Our Friends Are Killing Us

Not only does the Second Amendment protect the liberties of the people of the United States, the Second Amendment protects the free peoples of the world. Without the armed citizenry of the people of America, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, France, and the rest of the free world would plummet into abject tyranny and oppression. Look at how socialistic and enslaved people in these countries already are. Can one imagine how quickly they would plunge into the Dark Ages without the power and influence of the last bulwark of liberty: a free and armed United States of America?

Daniel Webster uttered another profound truth: “There is no nation on earth powerful enough to accomplish our overthrow. Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter: from the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence. I must confess that I do apprehend some danger. I fear that they may place too implicit a confidence in their public servants and fail properly to scrutinize their conduct; that in this way they may be made the dupes of designing men and become the instruments of their own undoing.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Poll Shows Republicans Losing Ethnicity, Age Battle in California

California right now is an extreme example of the nation, to be sure: more ethnically mixed and younger than most states, and riven for 20 years by a hobbling GOP civil war that now is surfacing dramatically elsewhere in the country. But if California is on the leading edge, as opposed to an outlier, the poll serves as confirmation that long-term problems loom for Republicans.

Take party registration: Among white California voters, almost four in 10 are Democrats and four in 10 are Republicans. But among Latinos 55% are Democrats and only 15% are Republicans.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

School’s New Spy System Places Children Under Complete Surveillance

In a stinging similarity to the telescreens of 1984, schoolchildren will soon be monitored in real-time through surveillance sensors mounted inside the classrooms of a charter school in Oakland, California. A typical classroom in the United States.

SST, Inc., a Bay Area technology firm, is currently installing its ShotSpotter “gunshot detector” system inside the school, which will allow the company’s employees to observe the classrooms through multiple computer screens, according to SF Gate…

Yet as we reported back in August, these “gunshot detectors” are fully capable of recording conversations and are reportedly better at doing so than actually detecting gunshots.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Seattle Police Deactivate Wi-Fi Spy Grid After Privacy Outcry

Following a privacy outcry concerning a wi-fi “mesh network” being installed in Seattle with DHS funding that has the capability of recording the last 1,000 locations of anyone in its vicinity, the Seattle Police Department announced last night that it is temporarily deactivating the network.

The Seattle Police Department responded to the controversy by announcing that it will temporarily deactivate the network, which was rushed through the Seattle City Council with virtually no oversight, and allow public scrutiny of the system before proceeding.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Secret Globalist Treaty Threatens Internet Freedom

Wikileaks has released a 95 page, 30,000 word document spelling out details on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). The secret globalist agreement will have a significant effect on a wide range of issues including internet freedom, medicine, patents, and civil liberties. The cabal will meet in Salt Lake, Utah, between November 19 and 24.

The draft text for the TPP Intellectual Property Rights Chapter spells out provisions for implementing a transnational “enforcement regime” designed to supplant national laws and sovereignty with a globalist construct. The TPP is by far the largest and most oppressive economic treaty devised thus far. It will have an impact on a staggering 40 percent of worldwide GDP. The TPP is the forerunner to the equally secret US-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Both treaties combined will cover 60 percent of world GDP and exclude China…

In addition, aspects of the treaty resemble SOPA and ACTA treaties with draconian surveillance mechanisms. In early 2013, thousands of websites “went black” to show solidarity in opposition to SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act, legislation that seriously threatened the functionality of the internet. “SOPA was an attempt to put the power of information back in the hands of an elite few who are rapidly losing the ability to control what the masses are reading, hearing and seeing,” Mac Slavo wrote in January, 2012.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Teenage Girl Wielding Bow-and-Arrow Tells Intruder to Get Out

A 14-year-old Volusia County girl armed herself with a bow-and-arrow early Saturday to confront an intruder in her home.

Mariah Reed was home alone when she heard the doorbell ringing at about 5:30 a.m. Thinking her mother was at the door, Mariah deactivated the house alarm, unlocked the front door and then returned to her bedroom, a Sheriff’s Office report said.

Mariah then heard an unfamiliar woman’s voice. The teen texted her mother, and discovered she was not home…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The American-Made Stuxnet Virus Has Infected the International Space Station

Last year, news broke that a virus sabotaged the Iranian uranium enrichment program. It seemed all too convenient at the time — and as it turned out, the virus, Stuxnet, was actually engineered by the United States and Israel. Now, the man-made virus has ventured into space, and made its way to the International Space Station.

The virus wasn’t planted there by a species of locust-like space aliens hell-bent on revenge for a defeat at the hands of humans during a certain day of historical importance. Instead, the virus has reportedly gone rogue — or at least become too big for its creators to control. Reports state that Stuxnet is hitting nuclear plants in countries for which the virus was not originally intended, and has somehow even made its way up to space. Eugene Kaspersky, famed head of IT security at Kaspersky Labs, states that a friend who works at a nuclear plant in Russia has informed him that the virus has managed to infect the plant’s internal network, which was not connected to the internet.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

USDA to Allow U.S. To be Overrun With Contaminated Chicken From China

(NaturalNews) The USDA has announced its intention to allow China-grown chicken meat to be imported into the USA. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has announced that China is eligible to export processed, cooked chicken to the United States,” says an official announcement on the USDA website.

The announcement goes on to ridiculously claim that the USDA “has determined that China’s poultry processing inspection system is equivalent to that of the United States, and cooked chicken imported from China would be processed under equivalent conditions as in the United States.”

This statement holds about as much water as Obama’s claim that “you can keep your health plan if you like it.” It’s a lie, in other words, and everybody knows it.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Canadian Rower Completes Historic Solo Journey Across Atlantic Ocean

After 130 days at sea, a Canadian rower has become the first North American woman to complete a solo journey across the North Atlantic Ocean, arriving in France Tuesday morning (Nov. 12).

In just over four months, Mylène Paquette, from Montreal, Quebec, rowed from Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the east coast of Canada, to Lorient, France, along the country’s northwestern tip.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Ottawa Cops Charge Cabbie in Rape of Woman, 20

An Ottawa cabbie has been arrested and charged in connection with the rape of a 20-year-old woman.

City cops say Nidal Zeiti, 52 of Ottawa, is charged with one count of sexual assault. He is to appear in a city courtroom on Thursday.

A taxi was seized Wednesday following the gruelling task by police of whittling down a possible 1,025 cabs to help zero in on one in particular, as well as its driver.

Police commended Blue Line for the company’s cooperation in their investigation.

Investigators told the Sun they watched videos including one where the victim got into the taxi and the driver covered the camera lens.

The victim flagged down a taxi at about 2:30 a.m., on Bank St. near Hunt Club. Police said she was driven to an area near McCarthy and Walkley Rd., where she was allegedly raped, inside the cab, by the driver.

Every cab in Ottawa has a GPS and camera, as well as other technology that can help identify a specific car.

Police are also probing a second sexual assault in a taxi on Nov. 2. A 17-year-old girl flagged down a taxi in Gatineau, and was driven to Sandy Hill, where she was sexually assaulted by the driver.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

Air France-KLM Won’t Subscribe to Alitalia Capital Increase

French-Dutch carrier says Italian business plan not adequate

(updates previous) (ANSA) — Rome November 14 — Air France-KLM on Thursday announced it will not participate in a 300-million euro capital increase for Alitalia.

The move comes after the French-Dutch carrier voted against a restructuring plan passed by Alitalia’s board on Wednesday.

Air France-KLM praised Alitalia’s progress on operating performance, service and cost control, but said the new industrial plan does not go far enough to reduce Alitalia’s towering debt.

Air France-KLM is the Italian airline’s largest shareholder with a 25% stake.

Alitalia’s revised industrial plan includes deep cost reductions, efficiency gains, and other measures to beef up competitiveness.

Sources told ANSA the plan foresees 200 million euros in spending cuts and 2,000 layoffs, half of those coming from expiring work contracts.

Air France-KLM said it was not enough.

“Even if the industrial component of the new plan presented yesterday by Alitalia is a step in the right direction and is receiving Air France-KLM’s full support, the necessary financial restructuring measures are still not yet met,” Thursday’s statement said.

The French-Dutch stakeholder reportedly also disapproved of the plan to slash domestic flights and increase international and intercontinental flights, a source told ANSA.

Air France-KLM said it remains committed to its eight-year partnership with Alitalia signed in 2009.

The airline group also intends to convert Alitalia bonds to reinforce its equity, a move it said would also offset dilution of Air France-KLM’s stake in Alitalia after the capital increase and “keep the strong relationship between the airlines”.

Last month, Alitalia’s board approved a 500-million-euro budget package that included the 300-million-euro capital increase and 200 million euros in new lines of credit.

So far, Alitalia has gathered subscriptions for 136 million euros — less than half of the stated goal.

The Italian airlines board on Wednesday also voted to extend the participation deadline to November 27, saying it wanted to give shareholders time to reflect on the new industrial plan.

Sources told ANSA the new deadline was also set to follow a shareholder assembly of Poste Italiane on November 20.

Last month, the Italian postal company agreed to underwrite the capital increase to the tune of 75 million euros, while Italian banks Intesa Sanpaolo and UniCredit said they would put in up to a maximum of 100 million euros.

But meanwhile the search for another possible international partner continues, with possible candidates rumored to be Air China, Etihad and Aeroflot.

While Aeroflot made no comment, sources say the Russian airline views its market and that of Alitalia as complementary, but only if the Italian airline puts a satisfactory restructuring plan in place.

Italian Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi responded to the industrial plan saying the defense of jobs was a government priority.

Unions are expected to meet, perhaps as soon as Friday, to prepare their response to the new plan.

Trade union CGIL leader Susanna Camusso warned that if Alitalia attempts major layoffs, CGIL’s response will be “very hard”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Denmark: DF Turns Down EU Anti-Immigration Alliance

Dansk Folkeparti refuses to join alliance, which so far includes the French party Front National and the Dutch party PVV, ahead of the European Parliament election next year

Dansk Folkeparti (DF) has turned down a request to join a coalition of anti-EU and anti-immigration parties ahead of next year’s European Parliament elections. The coalition was started by Dutch politician Geert Wilders of the Party for Freedom, who is known for his strong views on Islam and immigration.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

EU Opens in-Depth Review of Italy ‘Imbalances’

Barroso urges reforms as more Italians poor and excluded

(ANSAmed) — Rome — The European Commission (EC) said Wednesday that it is opening an in-depth review of recession-hit Italy’s macroeconomic imbalances as more and more people are swelling the ranks of the ‘new poor’ and being excluded from the economy.

Italy, France and Hungary were deemed in need of further analysis in the EC’s Alert Mechanism Report (AMR), which was released Wednesday in relation to the EU executive’s Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure (MIP).

They were among a group of European Union countries identified by the EC as experiencing excessive imbalances.

“France, Italy and Hungary were found to be experiencing imbalances in the previous round of the MIP and the Commission indicated the necessity of adopting decisive policy actions,” read the AMR.

“The upcoming in-depth review will assess the persistence of imbalances”.

The EC said it will make policy recommendations after the in-depth review.

The imbalances the EC looks at include public debt levels, unemployment, labour costs, the rate of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion and the percentage who are living in households with very low work intensity.

Italy has been placed under review due to its increasing poverty, the EC said. “Poverty and social exclusion have increased significantly in Italy”, the Commission wrote in its report, which is based on eleven indicators of external and internal imbalances. European Commission President Josè Manuel Barroso said Italy must “complete the (structural economic) reforms promised by the government”.

But he added that the political instability within Premier Enrico Letta’s grand-coalition government “has not put the progress made at risk”.

Barroso said a recovery in the Italian economy is fragile but the first signs can be seen.

Still, he added, the government cannot allow political uncertainty to pull its focus away from the importance of maintaining longer-term economic reforms.

“In Italy we are beginning to glimpse the first signs of recovery, but it is a very fragile recovery,” said Barroso, who was speaking on the issue of economic imbalances in Europe.

“You should not put at risk the path of reforms,” he added.

His remarks came on the same day that Letta said that he was confident Italy was about to pull out of its longest recession in over two decades.

The government had said it was hopeful the recession would end in the second half of this year, although national statistics agency Istat recently reported that Italy again posted negative growth in the third quarter.

“The recovery is within reach in 2014,” Letta said. “There are signals that we can reverse the trend,” he added.

“Even though it cannot be seen in the figures yet, I’m confident we can get going again”.

Italy has been in recession since the third quarter of 2011.

Italy’s efforts to emerge from its longest recession in 20 years are at risk from the instability affecting its government that sees traditional foes, Letta’s Democratic Party (PD), in an uneasy alliance with three-time premier and media magnate Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party.

Berlusconi has repeatedly threatened to sink the government because of his upcoming ejection from the Senate on a tax-fraud conviction but pro-government elements in the PdL, which is on the verge of splitting, may keep it going.

Letta is hoping to enact key structural reforms to rev up Italy’s sclerotic economy before 2015 while keeping to EU-mandated fiscal discipline.

The 2014 budget, which is being changed daily, contains modest growth-boosting measures along with spending cuts that will keep the deficit-to-GDP limit within the mandatory 3% limit, Economy Minister Fabrizio Saccomanni says.

Barroso also announced the Commission is undertaking an in-depth review of Germany’s high trade surplus. The EU wants to see whether Berlin “can do more to help balance the European economy”, he said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Far-Right French Magazine Under Investigation After Racist Cover

PARIS, Nov 13 (Reuters) — A French court opened a preliminary inquiry into a far-right magazine on Wednesday after the government complained about a front cover comparing France’s black justice minister to a monkey.

The “Minute” weekly featured a picture of Justice Minister Christiane Taubira on its cover next to a caption that read: “Clever as a monkey, Taubira gets her banana back.”

The magazine, whose cover exploits the fact that “banana” means “smile” in French slang, will add to fears of a rise in racism in France, coming weeks after a far-right local election candidate compared Taubira to a monkey on national TV.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

France: Hollande’s Popularity Dips to 15% in Poll

By far lowest popularity rating for V Republic president

(ANSAmed) — PARIS — A new poll published on Thursday showed that French President Francois Hollande’s popularity has dipped to an all-time low, dropping by a further six points with only 15% supporting the head of state. The YouGov survey for the Huffington Post and iTele showed that Hollande has become by far France’s most unpopular president on record.

Asked what they thought of Francois Hollande as president, only 3% of those polled said they had a ‘very good’ opinion and 12% said ‘good’ for a total of 15%.

On the contrary, the opinion of 27% was ‘quite negative’ and 49% ‘very negative’ for a total of 76%; 9% did not express an opinion.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault also saw his popularity sink to 15% with 74% expressing a negative opinion. Overall, the government’s popularity ratings dropped to 14%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Graffiti at Pau Mosque: Imam Admits to Being the Author

Original Translation by C. B. Sashenka

From this French news site:

The graffiti had caused a deep stir, at the end of October. (Mark Zirnheld Archives PP)

The police had opened an investigation after the discovery of insulting graffiti in green paint towards the end of October on the mosque of Pau, avenue of Buros.

No trail led anywhere, until Wednesday, the author spontaneously came to give himself up to the police (perhaps stricken with remorse?): he is the imam himself. Employee of the religious association, this man in his fifties would have thus acted in the context of an internal settling of scores.

He is called to court next January 8th for an appearance based on plea bargaining.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

Italian Police Launch Hate-Speech Crackdown

‘Stormfront elements targeted Saviano, Lampedusa mayor’

(ANSA) — Rome, November 14 — Police on Thursday said they arrested a heavily armed man and searched the property of 35 people in an effort to identify members of a neo-Nazi Web forum with ties to an older site already shut down by authorities. The 51-year-old suspect was arrested in the northern city of Mantua and was charged with inciting racial hatred and illegal possession of firearms, including two rifles, a hand-grenade casing and seven bayonets. Police said he also had a Swastika flag. The rest searched came up in probes linked to an anti-Semitic organization known as Stormfront, one of the Web’s most notorious hate sites, whose Italian version was shut down last year for regularly posting hate speech and white supremacist propaganda.

In April, four of its Italian members were sentenced to terms ranging from 30 months to three years for “promoting and directing a group whose purpose was the instigation to ethnic, religious and racial discrimination and violence”.

The latest crackdown took place in 22 Italian provinces, including Rome and Milan. Police said the suspects were wanted in association with hateful posts directed against a number of public figures, including acclaimed organized-crime writer Roberto Saviano and the mayor of Lampedusa, the island off the coast of Italy that annually draws tens of thousands of seaborne migrants due to its proximity to Africa.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italian Prosecutor Warns of Mafia Threat Against Pope Francis

A state prosecutor in Italy warned that Pope Francis could be a target of a mafia group, who he says are becoming “very nervous” about the pope’s effort to reform the church.

Nicola Gratteri, a prosecutor from the Calabria region of Italy, where the ‘Ndrangheta organized crime organization is the most active, said “if the godfathers can find a way to stop him, they will seriously consider it,” according to the Religion News Service.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italian Employees Declare More Than Owners

20,680 euros vs. 20,469 euros

(ANSA) — Rome, November 14 — The average pay-roll worker in Italy declares more than the people who employ him, the economy ministry said in another indication of rampant tax evasion Thursday. According to government data, workers, whose income is taxed at source, made an average of 20,680 euros a year, compared to the average entrepreneur who declared an annual 20,469 euros.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Police Seize 50 Mn Euros in Assets After Broker’s Suicide

Money laundering, investor fraud under investigation

(ANSA) — Rome, November 13 — Police seized 50 million euros in assets Wednesday as part of an investigation following the suicide of a securities broker in Rome.

Giovanni Paganini Marana, who owned his own brokerage firm, took his life in September 2012 and finance police said they are probing complaints from wealthy clients of financial wrongdoing.

These include allegations of money laundering, misappropriation of funds, and misleading investors.

Several employees of Marana’s firm are being investigated.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Assets Worth 25 Million Seized From Ex-Magliana Gang Boss

Probe unravels hidden assets of ex-boss of notorious Roman gang

(ANSA) — Rome, November 13 — Italian police on Wednesday seized 25 million euros worth of assets traced to a former boss in the Magliana Gang that ruled Rome’s criminal underground in the 1970s and ‘80s.

Assets included a luxury 14-room residence in the piazza of Rome’s famous Trevi fountain as well as a villa in southern Corsica and a complex of luxury townhouses facing the sea in Olbia, Sardinia.

Ex-Magliana Gang chieftain Ernesto Diotallevi was arrested in July 2012 with 10 others, including a priest, on suspicion of fraud and money laundering.

Investigators have been unravelling the Diotallevi’s vast patrimony of assets, previously hidden from justice authorities under borrowed names, shell companies, and family members, like his wife Carolina Lucarini and sons Mario and Leonardo.

Wednesday’s blitz froze bank accounts and the stock and assets of seven companies, active in real estate, sporting and pleasure boats, electrical power, shipping, and asset management.

Among 42 properties seized was a luxury villa on Isola di Cavallo, off southern Corsica and just north of Sardinia’s famous resort destination of Costa Smeralda, belonging to a Liberian company, in addition to the residence near the Trevi fountain and the townhouses in Olbia.

Other assets included nine vehicles and properties on the Adriatic coast near Pesaro.

Police also seized some additional 10 million euros worth of assets from Diotallevi in April.

The name of the joint probe between finance police and Carabinieri ROS anti-mafia police — Operation 30 Years — pays tribute to the Magliana Gang’s long, notorious three-decade trail of crime. At its height, the gang controlled of almost all lucrative criminal activities in Rome and the city’s region of Lazio, as well as establishing alliances with various bosses of the Sicilian Mafia, according to the testimony of ex-mobsters-turned-informers.

Diotallevi is also implicated in the case of Roberto Calvi, the Italian banker found hanging under London’s Blackfriars Bridge in 1982 in mysterious circumstances.

Italian prosecutors have claimed he was murdered after failing to pay back the Mafia, but no convictions have ever been made.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Teen Rome Prostitutes Had 20-30 Clients, Police Say

‘More underage girls involved than thought’

(ANSA) — Rome, November 13 — Investigators on Wednesday revealed that more than just the two underage girls originally suspected were involved in prostitution in Rome, and that as many as 20-30 clients paid them for sex. The case made headlines last month when five men were arrested on suspicion of paying two prostitutes, aged 14 and 15, based in an apartment in the upscale Parioli neighborhood.

The girls studied at the same Rome high school and allegedly began working in May after being lured through a social network called ‘Bakeca Incontri’ (Meetings Bulletin Board).

Police did not quantify the additional suspected prostitutes, but added that they were likely friends of the original suspects. They allegedly went to school in the morning and worked in the afternoon, making up to 300 euros per client and used the money to supply their pimps, including one of their mothers, with drugs, according to police sources.

Police said Wednesday they have identified between 20 and 30 possible clients, most of whom were well-off.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: TV Prankster Arrested for Sex With Minors Says He’s in Love

Paolini nabbed for videos of him having sex with two 16-yr-olds

(ANSA) — Rome, November 13 — Italian TV prankster and safe-sex advocate Gabriele Paolini, who was arrested Sunday after police found self-recorded videos of himself having sex with two underage boys, told a judge at his preliminary hearing Wednesday that he is in love with one of the boys and that the relationship is consensual.

“I knew he was underage. Our relationship is consensual.

There was never money involved, just a lot of love”, 39-year-old Paolini, who is being held on charges of paying for sex with a minor and making child pornography, told the judge at his three-hour hearing. Paolini, whose antics usually involve waving condoms behind unwitting live reporters, took pictures and videotaped himself having sex with the two boys in a Rome cellar.

Police seized an amateur video from a Rome lab showing Paolini having sex with two Italian 16-year-old students. The video also shows Paolini explicitly propositioning a third 16-year-old boy, a Romanian.

“That was a joke”, defense lawyers said, adding that since that particular video was made, their client has fallen in love and been in a monogamous relationship with one of the boys only.

Paolini told the judge one of the two minors has been his boyfriend for the past eight months, and denied inducing anyone to prostitution or that he intended to use the videos for commercial purposes.

“We love each other. He introduced me to his mother, and I introduced him to my parents. We went swimming at the military officers’ club, where we played cards and had tea with my parents”, he said. “I have never had orgies with minors. I made the videos for private use. I have always loved to document my life”.

Paolini, who is a high-profile public figure in Italy, stated he met one of the boys on the street.

“He asked for my autograph, and our friendship took off from there”. Prosecutors allege that the boys, all of whom have been identified, were having sex for money, and that they knew they were being filmed.

They are all from middle-class families, and occasionally hooked up with Paolini to make some extra cash to buy trendy clothes, according to the prosecution.

Paolini, who once called for pedophiles to be put to death, allegedly lured underage victims via the Internet.

“Having had a bad experience when I was 15, I can tell you that people who abuse children are ruthless and unscrupulous, and that is why they deserve the death penalty”, Paolini reportedly wrote on Facebook in 2012.

The three boys are in the custody of their families and will be interviewed by investigators in the presence of a psychologist. Investigators are combing through Paolini’s computer and other files, trying to work out if any other minors are involved.

“Paolini never paid for sex. He slept only with his boyfriend, and made the videos for his own private use. There was never an attempt or intent to sell them. One of the videos even shows them mutually declaring their love”, defense lawyers said. The judge is to rule on a defense motion to release Paolini into house arrest in the custody of his parents.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: PdL Doves May Snub Showdown With Berlusconi Loyalists

Says PdL will be worse off if Letta govt falls

(By Paul Virgo) (ANSA) — Rome, November 13 — Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano hinted Wednesday that pro-government doves in Silvio Berlusconi’s divided People of Freedom (PdL) party may desert the group’s national assembly on Saturday.

The meeting has been called to make it possible for the party to be replaced with a new group taking its former name, Forza Italia (FI). But it may see the party split between doves like Alfano and Berlusconi loyalists, or hawks, who are in favour of breaking off the government alliance with the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) if the centre-right leader is ejected from parliament.

The PD, Premier Enrico Letta’s party, has supported a drive for Berlusconi to be stripped of his Senate seat after the supreme court upheld a tax-fraud conviction against the 77-year-old media magnate, making it definitive. A vote on the floor of the Senate is scheduled for November 27. Alfano, who led a PdL rebellion that forced Berlusconi to back down on a bid to scupper Letta’s grand-coalition government last month, suggested the doves will only attend if they know they will have the chance to have their say.

According to some reports, no debate will be allowed at Saturday’s meeting, only Berlusconi will speak and the only motion to be voted on will be one prepared by the hawks.

“We are all very well aware of how much Berlusconi wanted this move from PdL to FI, so it’s in no one’s interest to go there and spoil the party,” Alfano said.

“We are hopeful that there will be the right conditions for us to be able to go there together to make a single choice that we agree on centred on Berlusconi”. Alfano has called on Berlusconi to continue to support Letta’s government, which was cobbled together by traditional foes in the PdL and PD in April to end the deadlock after February’s inconclusive general election, even if he is ejected from the Senate.

The three-time premier has knocked this back, saying it would be unthinkable for his party to cooperate with the PD if it commits “political homicide” by getting him stripped of his seat.

Berlusconi has also warned the doves that they risked political oblivion if they break away from the rest of the party.

But Alfano stuck to his guns, saying PdL-Forza Italia will not benefit if Letta’s government falls and fresh elections are called, in part because Berlusconi would be ineligible to stand after his tax-fraud conviction.

“In any case it would be worse because we’d end up with a left-left government alliance with positions that are the opposite of the PdL’s,” said Alfano, apparently referring to the possibility of the PD forming a government alliance with rebel lawmakers from the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S).

“Or we’d go to elections without our champion, Silvio Berlusconi, who could not stand as a candidate”.

Letta has said it would be senseless for Berlusconi to torpedo his government as fresh elections would probably produce another inconclusive outcome and another grand coalition unless the current widely criticised election law is changed.

Many experts think Letta would be able to keep his government afloat with the support of PdL rebels if Berlusconi tried to torpedo it again.

Alfano, meanwhile, continued to come under heavy fire from PdL hawks Wednesday.

“The time of hypocrisy, with sweet words for Berlusconi and hostile acts against him, must end,” said the hawks’ leader, PdL MP Raffaele Fitto.

The doves and hawks both believe that Berlusconi is the victim of a campaign of persecution by left-wing judges who are trying to wipe him off the political scene.

But the doves do not think the party should sink the government over Berlusconi’s legal problems, as the country struggles to emerge from its longest recession in over two decades.

A senior dove, the PdL’s former House Whip Fabrizio Cicchitto, said Wednesday that the national assembly should be cancelled in order to avoid an inevitable clash between the two sides of the party.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Judicial Body Drops Case Against Judge in Berlusconi Case

Esposito said he spoke only in general terms about ex-premier

(ANSA) — Rome, November 13 — The Italian judiciary’s self-governing body announced Wednesday that it will drop the 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. A senior committee of the Consiglio superiore della magistratura (CSM), which has the power to transfer judges, agreed by a large majority of 17 to 5 to drop the case against Antonio Esposito which grew out of an interview the judge gave days after a definitive conviction of Berlusconi on fraud charges.

Two committee members abstained from the vote.

He may still face proceedings as a prosecutor at the supreme Court of Cassation is looking into whether there is still a disciplinary case to consider.

Esposito’s interview with Naples-based daily Il Mattino caused a massive furore, coming so soon after Berlusconi received his first definitive conviction following two decades of legal battles. 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 that during the interview, he was talking only in general terms and the newspaper had misconstrued his comments to make it seem as if he had been referring specifically to Berlusconi’s case.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Nigerian Confesses to Murder of 60-Year-Old Bari Woman

Probe helped by photos of man leaving victim’s house

(ANSA) — Bari, November 14 — A Nigerian arrested by police on Thursday has confessed to the murder of a 60-year-old woman in Bari, a southern Italian coastal city.

Caterina Susca on Monday was found strangled with a bag over her head in her home. A neighbor took pictures of the man as he left Susca’s house.

Investigators said Nwajiobi Donald made his admission after interrogators confronted him with “the numerous (pieces of) incriminating evidence collected in the hours immediately following the crime”.

An autopsy and reconstruction from evidence to help explain the dynamics of the crime will be completed Friday.

A 30-year-old Ghanaian was earlier held for 24 hours, questioned, and then released Tuesday.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

More Italians Marrying Foreigners, ISTAT Says

Marriages down since 1972, but mixed weddings on the rise

(ANSA) — Rome, November 13 — More couples are getting married in Italy, but the rise is due to weddings between Italians and foreigners, national statistics bureau Istat said Wednesday.

In 2012 there were 207.138 marriages in Italy, (+2,308 over 2011, or 3.5 weddings per 1,000 inhabitants).

Of these, 30,724, or 15%, were between an Italian and a foreigner (+4,000 over 2011). Another 153,311 marriages were between Italians, down by 39,000 over the past five years.

The marriage rate in Italy has been decreasing since 1972, dropping by an average of 1.2% a year over the past two decades, and by 4.8% a year between 2007-2011.

The slight increase in couples taking their vows in 2012 is due to more weddings in which one or both partners is foreign, Istat said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

OECD Says Italy Public Managers Best Paid Among 34 States

Senior government salaries almost three times next highest

(ANSA) — Paris, November 14 — Senior government managers in recession-weary Italy are the highest paid among the 34 member States within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the agency reported Thursday.

Average salaries for senior Italian public-sector managers were, the equivalent of $650,000, almost three times the OECD average of $232,000, the Paris-based agency said.

Based on 2011 data, the Italian public-sector salaries were also far ahead of the second-highest paid, in New Zealand, where top public administrators’ salaries averaged $397,000.

In the United Kingdom, the average was $348,000 annually followed by the United States, where the average salary was $275,000.

Back in the eurozone, a similar level director in France earned an average of $260,000 annually, while in Germany the average was $231,000.

The OECD report comes at a time when Italy is struggling to emerge from its worst recession in 20 years with rising unemployment, falling living standards and increasing levels of poverty.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Prosecutor Warns of a Mafia Threat Against Pope Francis

Pope Francis could be at risk from the ‘Ndrangheta organized crime organization, according to a leading anti-mob prosecutor who has himself been the target of threats from the mafia.

Nicola Gratteri, 55, a state prosecutor in the southern Italian region of Calabria, where the ‘Ndrangheta is most active, said the pope’s effort to reform the church is making the ‘Ndrangheta “very nervous.”

The organization is considered by experts in Italy to be the most dangerous, most unified and most difficult to penetrate mafia-type organization in the country.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Research Shows Patients in Vegetative States Could be Aware and Paying Attention

(NaturalNews) New, detailed brain measuring research suggests that patients in a vegetative state may actually be fully aware and paying attention, even though they cannot move or speak. Scientists at the Medical Research Council’s Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit from the University of Cambridge brought forth their findings in the scientific journal NeuroImage: Clinical.

Using electroencephalography (EEG), the researchers covered the scalps of 21 vegetative patients with non-invasive brain-reading electrodes. The researchers also tested eight healthy participants to compare brain responses. Electroencephalography, which records the electrical activity along the scalp, measures voltage fluctuations deriving from ionic current flows within the brain’s neurons. In short, EEG records the brain’s spontaneous electrical activity over a brief period of time, usually 20-40 minutes.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

S&P Cuts Telecom Italia Rating to Junk Status

Outlook negative after contested board decisions

(ANSA) — Rome, November 14 — Standard & Poor’s cut Telecom Italia’s rating from BBB- to BB+, or junk status, Thursday after a string of poor results.

S&P said the outlook for Italy’s biggest telecoms group, which changed management and posted over 900 million euros in losses lately, was negative.

Analysts have been bearish about TI since Spain’s Telefonica took a a controlling stake and CEO Franco Bernabé stepped down, saying he had only been informed after the takeover was OK’d.

Board decisions such as selling off its Argentina unit and a huge bond issue aimed at curbing debt prompted inspections by Italian bourse watchdog Consob this week.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Ice Hotel Told to Install Fire Alarms

Despite being made entirely out of ice, the world renown Ice Hotel in northern Sweden must install a fire alarm system before it can open to its guests this season.

Sweden’s National Housing Board is requiring the installation, according to news agency TT. The hotel is rebuilt every year from massive blocks of ice from a nearby river and this year’s structure, still under construction, must install the alarms.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sweden: One in Three Taxi Drivers Suffer Threats: Report

One out of three taxi drivers in Sweden have been subjected to threats or verbal abuse and close to one in six have been physically abused, according to report by the Transport Workers Union, Swedish Television reports. The transport union claims that the work environment for taxi drivers has deteriorated in recent years.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Swedish Journo Attacks ‘Selfish’ Norway

A Swedish journalist has enraged Norwegian commentators with an incendiary column describing the country as “a selfish country which treats the poor like animals”.

“It’s like Anders Behring Breivik never happened,” Ehsan Fadakar, a columnist for the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet, claimed, before laying into Norwegians’ racist attitudes.

Fadakar described the Progress Party, which entered government for the first time last month, as “the mass murderer’s favourite gang”, arguing that its politicians regularly use “Breivik-style rhetoric” that in Sweden would only come from the far-right Sweden Democrats, while its leader has called to bus the Roma back Eastern Europe.

“The richest country in the world treats the poorest people in Europe like animals,” he wrote.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UK: George Orwell Betrayed: Islamist Tariq Ramadan Gives a Lecture in His Name

by Alan Johnson, BICOM Senior Research Fellow, editor of Fathom

The present political chaos is connected with the decay of language. (George Orwell, Politics and the English language, 1946.)

This week in London, the annual George Orwell Lecture was given by the Islamist writer Tariq Ramadan. Where is one to start? George Orwell was against religious censorship. Tariq Ramadan campaigned successfully to cancel a production of Voltaire’s play Le fanatisme, ou Mahomet le Prophete in Geneva. Orwell was a rational man. When Ramadan taught at the College de Saussure he argued in favour of Islamic biology over Darwin…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Traffic Worries Over Mosque Extension in Whitechapel

Plans to extend a mosque and Islamic school in Whitechapel have been called “bonkers” by residents who say the increase in traffic could cost lives.

A decision on the proposed new four-storey Esha’atul Islam Mosque building in Cavell Street will be made by the council’s planning committee on November 14.

The mosque has applied for the extension, which will link the new building to it’s current home in Damien Street, to provide extra classrooms, a new ladies’ prayer hall and more men’s prayer space. But residents worry that an extension so near to the A&E at Royal London Hospital will increase traffic congestion and disrupt the flow of ambulances. James Perkins, a resident in Cavell Street, said: “Traffic on the streets around the existing mosque is already chaotic, especially at the Cavell Street entrance to A&E. “If it was just the case of a few honking horns and angry drivers, that would be one thing. But ambulances use this road to get in and out of A&E. Would you want to be stuck in the back of one of those ambulances? It’s bonkers.”…

[JP note: Bonkers.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

What Made the Nazi Holocaust Possible? Gun Control

This week marks the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, or the Night of the Broken Glass, the Nazi pogrom against Germany’s Jews on Nov. 9-10, 1938. Historians have documented most everything about it except what made it so easy to attack the defenseless Jews without fear of resistance. Their guns were registered and thus easily confiscated.

To illustrate, turn the clock back further and focus on just one victim, a renowned German athlete. Alfred Flatow won first place in gymnastics at the 1896 Olympics. In 1932, he dutifully registered three handguns, as required by a decree of the liberal Weimar Republic. The decree also provided that in times of unrest, the guns could be confiscated. The government gullibly neglected to consider that only law-abiding citizens would register, while political extremists and criminals would not. However, it did warn that the gun-registration records must be carefully stored so they would not fall into the hands of extremists.

The ultimate extremist group, led by Adolf Hitler, seized power just a year later, in 1933. The Nazis immediately used the firearms-registration records to identify, disarm and attack “enemies of the state,” a euphemism for Social Democrats and other political opponents of all types. Police conducted search-and-seizure operations for guns and “subversive” literature in Jewish communities and working-class neighborhoods.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Iraq: Bombings Kills Dozens of Shia Pilgrims in Iraq

One of the most important days in the Shia religious calendar is marked by a wave of attacks killing at least 43

More than 40 people are dead after a wave of bombings aimed a Muslim worshippers in Iraq.The Sunni attacks on Shia pilgrims coincided with one of the holiest days in the religious calendar, the festival of Ashura. In one attack, 17 worshippers were killed and 65 injured by a suicide bomber who targeted a pilgrims’ procession north of Baquba, north of Baghdad. At least another nine people died and dozens were wounded after an attack on a tent where Shia worshippers had gathered at the town of Hafriyah. This followed another three bombings the previous day which claimed the lives of a further eight lives…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Over 500 Saudi Lingerie Shops Shut for Non-Compliance

With rules on women-only areas

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, NOVEMBER 14 — After resolving the age-old paradox of women’s lingerie shops run and worked in by men only, Saudi Arabia is now strictly following its new policy of “feminization”: women’s clothing and lingerie shops will from now on have to be run exclusively by women. The grace period having expired, over 500 have now been shut down after labour ministry inspections due to non-compliance, report Saudi media. Almost 1,200 shops were found to be in violation of the regulations during the Islamic year ending on November 3, with especially high numbers in the holy city of Mecca and the capital Riyadh. The measure marked a break with the conservative tradition forbidding women to be seen in public. It was not brought in solely for social requirements, however, but also economic ones.

Unemployment affects Saudi Arabia as well, and women — who account for 22% of the oil-rich monarchy’s workforce — have been hit the hardest. Making it hard for women to find a job is not only their gender but also the very small number of professions open to them, restricted as they for all practical purposes are to the fields of education and healthcare, though a few are starting to be seen in the judiciary, public administration and politics. The opening up of the retail world to women — though confined to ‘family’ departments accessible solely to women, with separate entrances for men and women — has made for about 50,000 jobs over the past year, reports Glowork, the first specialised manpower agency for women.

Of the 1.6 million who applied for ‘job-seeker’ benefits introduced two years ago by Saudi authorities to encourage its citizens to seek work, 1.2 million are women, underscores Glowork, noting that 40% of them have a university degree. Nevertheless, companies that want to hire women and renovate their work environments to prevent ‘promiscuity’ often do not know who to speak to. The ‘feminization’ of retail is also part of the ‘Saudization’ of the country’s workforce, through which the government is trying to reduce the number of foreign workers. The massive sweep-up operation of undocumented workers over the past few days is a means to this end, several analysts say, in order to create opportunities for the poorer segments of Saudi society.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Saudi Migrant Crackdown Closes Shops, Raises Fears

Garbage is piling up on streets around the mosque housing the burial site of the Prophet Muhammad. Grocery stores have shut their doors and almost half of Saudi Arabia’s small construction firms have stopped working on projects.

The mess is because foreign workers on which many businesses rely are fleeing, have gone into hiding or are under arrest amid a crackdown launched Nov. 4 targeting the kingdom’s 9 million migrant laborers.

The majority of workers hail from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines, as well as Egypt and Yemen. Others, mostly from east Africa, have never acquired visas, often taking perilous boat journeys across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen from where they cross illegally into the kingdom with the help of smugglers.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Syria: Putin Expresses Concern for Persecution of Christians

In call to Assad; Moscow will ‘support the Syrian people’

(ANSAmed) — MOSCOW, NOVEMBER 14 — In a telephone call to Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad, Russian president Vladimir Putin expressed concern over the news of the “purposeful persecution of Christians and other religious minorities” by extremists. Reports were from the Kremlin.

Putin also said he hoped that the Syrian government would do “everything in its power” to alleviate the suffering of civilians and to restore interconfessional peace. The Russian president reiterated Moscow’s support for “the decisions made by the Syrian people”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Syria: Al-Qaeda-Linked Rebels Apologise After Cutting Off Head of Wrong Person

Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham militants say sorry for decapitating a fellow extremist rather than enemy

Militant Islamist rebels in Syria linked to al-Qaeda have asked for “understanding and forgiveness” for cutting off and putting on display the wrong man’s head. In a public appearance filmed and posted online, members of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, one brandishing a knife, held up a bearded head before a crowd in Aleppo. They triumphantly described the execution of what they said was a member of an Iraqi Shia militia fighting for President Bashar al-Assad.

But the head was recognised from the video as originally belonging to a member of Ahrar al-Sham, a Sunni Islamist rebel group that often fights alongside ISIS though it does not share its al-Qaeda ideology. After inquiries, an ISIS spokesman admitted he was Mohammed Fares, an Ahrar commander reported missing some days ago. This could not be independently confirmed, but in an earlier video of a speech by Mr Fares he bears a close resemblance to the severed head in the later video. The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, which monitors deaths in the Syrian conflict, and several activists on social media said that ISIS fighters misunderstood comments Mr Fares made referring to the Imams Ali and Hussein, the founding fathers of Shiism…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Turkey’s Emerging Role as Sponsor of Global Terrorism

Cairo, Egypt — The Egyptian Foreign Office denounced the speech of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, because he openly made the ‘Rabaa’ gesture, a gesture used by the Muslim Brotherhood. It’s a symbol used in protests after the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi. (Rabaa in Arabic means Forth) Erdogan appeared several times gesturing, he said it’s a symbol of oppression and injustice suffered by certain groups of the Egyptians.

Ambassador Badr Abdel Atty, spokesman of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, said the Ministry sent a strong message to the Turkish ambassador in Cairo and issued a formal statement expressing Egypt’s anger over Erdogan’s comments, which represent an insult to the will of Egyptian people, and belittles the reality of 30 million Egyptians who came out to demand the overthrow of the Brotherhood and President Morsi. Ambassador Atty said that there is a clear recognition by the world of the legitimacy of the June 30 revolution — with the exception of Brotherhood governments in Tunisia, Qatar and Turkey, who show their hostility to Egypt through their official statements, while Qatar is using al-Jazeera for falsifying the facts and spreading lies about Egypt.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Western-Raised Jihadists Pouring Into Syria Could Threaten US in Future

Most of the more than 1,000 jihadists who have poured into Syria to fight alongside Al Qaeda carry passports from North America and Europe, raising the possibility that they could easily bring terror back to the west, according to a key lawmaker who receives regular briefings on the issue.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Russia to Deploy Long-Range Attack Drone by 2016

Russia is developing its first long-range drone aircraft capable of conducting ground attack missions, but lags behind other militaries in building unmanned aerial combat vehicles, according to U.S. officials.

The new drone is being developed in secret and was first revealed in online images earlier this year.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Robots to ‘Counter Soaring Labor Costs’ In China

Zhejiang province is to invest 500 billion yuan ($82 billion) over the next five years to encourage manufacturers to adopt more robots to overcome the short supply and high cost of labor.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Soros Crony: Current Energy Policies ‘Partly Caused’ Typhoon

More typhoons will happen unless liberal energy policies are adopted, and those who disagree have “blood on their hands” — at least according to climate alarmist Jeffrey Sachs.

Sachs, a friend of liberal billionaire George Soros and head of The Earth Institute at Columbia University and a favorite of the news media, appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Nov. 12 to discuss the recent tragedy caused by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Unless Persecution Ends, Discussion of Reform in China is Empty Talk

The Chinese Communist Party is seeking to reinvent itself, and the Third Plenary Session of the Central Committee, which opened on Nov. 9, is meant to be the staging ground for putting the Party on a new path of economic reform.

On Oct. 28, the day prior to the announcement of the dates for the Plenum, a SUV carrying three Uyghurs careened through Tiananmen Square, the symbolic seat of power for the Chinese regime. The car left 28 wounded and three dead in its wake before it crashed and exploded, killing those inside.

The chaos on the square provided an ominous counterpoint to the bright official hopes for a new beginning.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Jewish Leaders Raise Fears Over George Brandis’ Race Hate Law Changes

Jewish leaders are preparing to fight Abbott government plans to weaken race hate laws, saying they could encourage persecution and racially motivated violence.

The head of the Jewish national peak body, Peter Wertheim, is concerned Attorney-General George Brandis wants to amend sections of Commonwealth law that protect Jews and other minority groups against hate speech.

“We don’t really know what’s intended,” said Mr Wertheim, the executive director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

“The time for talking is before any bill is drafted, not afterwards.”

Senator Brandis has signalled that as his first legislative act he wants to amend sections of the Racial Discrimination Act that make it unlawful to offend or insult another person on grounds of race or ethnicity.

Senator Brandis has declared himself a champion of “freedom” and disparaged the laws used against Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt over an article he wrote in which he accused “white” Australians of identifying as Aborigines to advance their careers.

Asked about concerns raised by members of the Jewish community, Senator Brandis promised he would consult “stakeholders and interested parties, including leaders of the Jewish community such as Mr Wertheim, before introducing the legislation to Parliament.”

Mr Wertheim has warned that the “wholesale repeal” of sections of the Racial Discrimination Act would not only prevent vilified groups from defending their reputations legally, but would also encourage more sinister forms of hate speech.

“It would … open the door to the importation into Australia of the hatreds and violence of overseas conflicts,” Mr Wertheim said.

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said he had condemned Senator Brandis’ plans “from the moment he first opened his mouth”.

The laws were aimed at stopping “extreme cases of hate speech,” said Mr Dreyfus, whose great-grandparents died in the Holocaust and whose father and grandparents fled Nazi Germany for Australia.

“When Senator Brandis says that repealing these laws is in the interests of freedom of speech, what he really means is freedom to engage in public hate speech,” Mr Dreyfus said.

Mr Wertheim said he had been given assurances by Senator Brandis’ office and Jewish Liberal MP Josh Frydenberg that the Attorney-General would meet him to discuss changes to the Racial Discrimination Act.

[Return to headlines]

Telecom Italia Sells Argentine Holdings for $960 Mn

Proceeds from major telecom sale to be used to pay down debt

(ANSA) — Milan, November 14 — Telecom Italia has signed an agreement to sell its controlling interest in Telecom Argentina to the Fintech Group for $960 million, the Italian company announced Thursday.

Proceeds from the sale to Fintech, which had been rumoured for several days, will be used to pay down debt at Telecom Italia. The deal will see Fintech paying $859.5 million for Telecom Italia’s 68% stake in the Argentine company, plus another $100.5 million for technical support from TIM for three years.

Telecom Italia has said it wants to raise four-billion euros over the next several years to pay down debt and avoid a credit-rating downgrade.

The announcement comes just one day after Italian finance police and officials from market regular Consob inspected Telecom Italia offices in Rome and Milan on the heels of a series of significant financial decisions by the company.

Inspectors were following up on a major meeting last Thursday of the board of directors of Telecom Italia, including its decision to sell its unit in Argentina and the possible sale of a bond issue worth about four billion euros.

Some investors are concerned about Telecom Italia’s financial plans.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

5.2 Million Legal Immigrants Live in Italy

Itay’s immigrant population grows 30% in six years

(ANSA) — Rome, November 13 — There are 5.2 million legal immigrants in Italy, or roughly 8.7% of Italy’s population of 60 million, revealed the Statistical Dossier on Immigration 2013 presented on Wednesday in Rome by Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge.

The immigrant count greatly exceeds the government statistical agency Istat’s figure of 4.4 million, and marks the first time the dossier is not signed by two Catholic charities, Fondazione Migrantes (Migrants Foundation) and Caritas Italiana (Italian Caritas).

Instead the dossier was furnished through a coordinated effort of the government’s Anti-racial Discrimination Office (Unar), under the Premier’s Office, and the research firm Idos, which has analyzed the data for the report in the past. The reason for the difference between Istat’s numbers and Unar’s is that Istat counts only immigrants on official registries.

Italy’s painful economic squeeze since the global financial crisis has slowed but not stopped immigration. From 2007 to 2012, the number of immigrants in Italy grew 30% from under four million.

The increase is due not only to foreigners seeking work, but also to family reunification and births to immigrants in Italy.

Italy does not grant citizenship on the basis of birth or length of residency on Italian territory, but blood and marriage relationships to Italians. In 2012, nearly 80,000 children were born to immigrant couples, and roughly 27,000 were born to mixed Italian-foreigner couples.

The total population of immigrant minors in Italy is more than 900,000 for non-EU citizens, and 250,000 for EU citizens.

Immigrant population growth was far smaller in 2012 than in previous years, up 8.2% for EU citizens and up 3.5% for non-EU citizens. At the same time, return flows to countries of origin are rising, more out of necessity and lack of employment in Italy than choice, the study found.

The countries of origin for Italy’s immigrant population are 50.3% European, 22.2% African, 19.4% Asian, 8% from the Americas, and 0.1% from Oceania.

The single largest immigrant group is Romanians, who number about one million in Italy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy’s Immigrants De Facto Citizens, Says Kyenge

More than half are Romanian, new asylum law promised

(ANSA) — Rome, November 13 — There are over five million immigrants now living in Italy, and they contribute 1.4 billion euros to State coffers, according to statistics released Wednesday by Idos immigration research center and the premier’s anti-discrimination office UNAR.

“They are still being called foreigners, but what most people don’t realize is that these immigrants are de facto citizens,” Integration Minister Cécile Kyenge said. Italy’s immigration and citizenship law is at least 20 years out of date, Kyenge said, and must be reformed in line with EU directives.

“We will reform all our norms on asylum, refugees, and asylum seekers by December 31, so that we can have a single bill by 2014. It is a duty, and this government has made it a priority on its agenda”, Kyenge added.

Between 2007-2012, immigrants to the Bel Paese rose from 4 million to 5.186 million due to new arrivals, births, and family reunions, the Idos-UNAR report showed.

More than half, or 50.3%, are Romanian, and there are an estimated nine million Romanians now living in Italy.

There are also 900,000 non-EU minors, who were either born in Italy or came to join relatives, while minors from other EU countries total 250,000.

Almost 80,000 children were born to immigrant parents in 2012, and another 27,000 kids were born to mixed Italian-foreign couples.

Also in 2012, authorities issued 81,322 family-related visas, down from 83,493 such visas issued in 2011.

But the economic crisis combined with on-the-job discrimination also drive people out of the country: last year, at least 180,000 work- and family-related residency permits lapsed and were not renewed. “Immigrants are often given the inferior jobs, are paid less and fired more easily than Italians,” said Deputy Labor Minister Maria Cecilia Guerra. “These are almost always single-income families, with no extended family network to fall back on”.

The government wants to remedy this situation by reaching out to immigrants via its labor policies, Guerra added.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

To Speak to a Nigerian Prince About Your Health Care, Press ‘1’ Now

In a weird confluence of the nation’s two most pressing issues — Obamacare and our insane immigration laws — this week we found out that the tens of thousands of “navigators” hired by the government to enroll people in Obamacare will include convicted felons.

Despite some “navigators” having already been exposed as having arrest warrants against them, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has no plans to screen out the criminals. (But rest assured: If your identity is stolen as a result of trying to sign up for Obamacare, no one will be more upset about it than President Obama.)

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Woman Who Wants Sweden’s Gender Rating at a Cinema Near You

A gender bias rating launched by Swedish cinemas had the world talking last week, thanks to our pick for Swede of the Week Lina Thomsgård, founder of Equalisters, and her efforts to kick patriarchy in the cojones one list of competent women at a time.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Brazil and Germany Proposed UN Resolution Against Mass Surveillance

On November 7th, Brazil and Germany jointly proposed a preliminary version of a resolution on online privacy at the UN General Assembly. At a time when public outrage over the reach and scope of U.K. and U.S. mass surveillance is at an all time high, the draft resolution is the first official recognition by the UN of the threat that mass surveillance poses to human rights. The draft resolution is significant in many respects but particularly because it condemns “human rights violations and abuses that may result from the conduct of any surveillance of communications, including extraterritorial surveillance of communications… in particular massive surveillance.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

One thought on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/14/2013

  1. A hotel in northern Sweden that is made entirely out of ice and is rebuilt every year will be required by the housing board to install fire alarms this year.

    The Ice Hotel will be requisitioned by the Immigration board for “refugee” housing. All normal and traditional housing, every castles, manor and mansion, all countryhouses, museums, hostels, closed mills, homes for the aging, disused rail stations and ditto gas stations are already occupied as refugee centers. Next in turn are the Swedish people’s uninhabited summer houses. Sweden shall be filled up. If possible the authorities will relocate Syria to Scandinavia mixed up with a creative majority of somalis and muslim MENA people. The Prophet is said to be in favor of the relocation, if we are to believe the newly appointed female Swedish Archbishop, whose motto is GOD IS GREATER or in arabic ALLAHU AKBARR.
    Swedish State Motto: Any moslem stranger is a friend you yet have not learned to know. سلام (Peace)

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