Gates of Vienna News Feed 6/2/2014

A Dutch trade association has apologized to Saudi Arabia and the Muslim world for the offensive words and actions (especially this) of Geert Wilders, the leader of the PVV. VON-NCW, which represents more than a hundred thousand Dutch companies, says that it regrets Mr. Wilders’ provocative statements.

In other news, forty people were killed in a series of attacks across Iraq.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, DS, Fjordman, Insubria, JP, Steen, 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
» Italy Gets Mixed Economic Review From European Union
» ADL Calls on Chicago Schools to Respond to Virtual Jewish Incinerator in Online Student Game of ‘Clash of Clans’
» Inquiry Implicates Former Brooklyn D.A. In Misuse of Public Funds
» Inside the Ring: Memo Outlines Obama’s Plan to Use the Military Against Citizens
» Supreme Court Rejects Appeal From Reporter Over Identity of Source
» Terry Jones, Bikers Plan June 14 Rally Outside Dearborn Mosque
Europe and the EU
» After the Deadly Attack on a Jewish Museum in Brussels, Will Britain be Next?
» Dutch Business Group Apologises Over Anti-Islam MP
» Four Arrested as French Police Swoop on Jihadist Recruiters
» French Police Arrest Four ‘Jihadist’ Suspects
» German Army to Offer Soldiers Crèches and Flat-Screen TVs
» Iceland: Final Preparations for Mosque Construction Underway
» Italy: Renzi Moves to ‘Unblock’ Frozen Initiatives
» Multicultural Surrender Has Turned Britain Into a Third World Country
» Muslim Body in Belgium Calls for Dialogue to Promote Peaceful Coexistence
» ‘Renzi’s Europe Becoming a Monster’ Says Farage
» UK: Damning Reports Will Show State Schools in Birmingham Are Imposing Islamic Practices
» UK: Key Figure in ‘Trojan Horse’ Plot is an Ofsted Inspector
» UK: Lutfur Rahman: A Defence Based on Lies
» UK: Swan Killer: I Like the Queen and Didn’t Know What Type of Bird it Was… But it Tasted Nice
» UK: School ‘Failed to Protect Pupils From Extremism’
» WSJ: Bulgaria’s Western Allies Worry About Eastward Tilt
» Young Man Killed, Four Others Wounded in South France Shooting
Israel and the Palestinians
» Israel Strikes Militant Sites in Central, Southern Gaza
» Palestinian Women Stage Sit-in at Al Aqsa Mosque
» US Will Work With Palestinian Unity Government
Middle East
» 40 Killed in Spate of Attacks Across Iraq
» Baroness Nicholson and Iran’s Iraq
» Gazprom Extends Ultimatum for Ukraine Gas Payment
» New Mosque Opened in Tatarstan Village
South Asia
» 2 Suicide Attacks Kill 11 in Afghanistan
» Bowe Bergdahl ‘A Deserter Who Cost Soldiers’ Lives’, Say US Army Comrades
» Cadbury Chocolate Pork Free, Says Malaysian Islamic Body
» Captive in Afghanistan: Bowe Bergdahl: Yvonne Ridley, And Me
» Indian Police Use Water Cannon to End Gang-Rape Protest in Lucknow
» Latorre Says Italian Marines ‘Suffer With Dignity’ In India
» Singapore: 109-Year-Old Al-Huda Mosque to be Upgraded
» The Bigger Story in the Real War on Women
Australia — Pacific
» Mixed Blessings to Roselands Mosque
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Nigeria Schools Walk Line Between Islamic and Western Traditions
Latin America
» Whistleblower Snowden Seeks Asylum in Brazil
» Suspected Tunisian People Traffickers Arrested in Sicily
» Tony Blair: Nigel Farage is Deceiving the British People Over Immigration

Italy Gets Mixed Economic Review From European Union

EC OKs postponing balanced budget, but not a good sign says Rehn

As the country celebrated Republic Day on Monday, the government received a mixed economic report from the European Commission, which agreed to postpone Italy balancing its budget until next year while outlining several areas where the country must improve in order to spur growth and employment while keeping its commitments in Europe. The EC’s list of economic recommendations started with “additional efforts” in 2014 in order for the country to respect the requirements of the Growth and Stability Pact. Italy has been close to the 3% limit on the deficit-to-GDP ratio imposed by the pact, which has forced the government to raise taxes and cut spending, arguably choking off economic growth as the country struggles to definitively emerge from its deepest recession since the Second World War. Meanwhile the country’s massive debt has continued to rise, with a debt-to-GDP ratio at approximately 133%, second only to Greece in the eurozone. The Commission said Italy must “reinforce its 2014 budget measures” in order to stay in line with debt-reduction rules. “In 2015 it must substantially enhance budget strategies” in order to “ensure debt is sufficiently going down,” it added. Despite such measures, Italy can still jumpstart growth and spur employment, said the recommendations, through initiatives such as shifting tax pressure away from businesses and towards consumption, real estate and factors that harm the environment. The recommendation, which came from the office of Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn, acknowledged that Italy is “already implementing considerable reforms”. Celebrating its first Republic Day on Monday since coming to power in February, Premier Matteo Renzi’s administration has been counting on a range of measures aimed at giving the lackluster economy a boost while reducing the deficit as a percentage of GDP. Those include 10 billion euros in a tax break for lower-income earners, a reduced regional business tax, and targeted spending increases. The EC said his government would be wise to better manage EU funds, especially in southern regions, while increasing transparency of how such funds are spent. Finally, it warned that the country’s own macroeconomic outlook was “a bit too optimistic,” and criticized Renzi for budget targets it said were “not entirely supported by sufficiently detailed measures, especially from 2015 on”.

Italy’s 2014 budget was passed by ex-premier Enrico Letta. Meanwhile his successor Renzi has unveiled a major package of tax cuts and investments to revive the weak Italian economy.

On Monday the Commission cited Italy’s “considerable reforms” as justification for postponing the country’s deadline to balance the budget. Nevertheless, European Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn suggested the decision was made reluctantly. “It’s important to underscore that postponing mid-term targets doesn’t put Italy in a good position with regard to the rules it’s endorsed,” he said, pointing out that Italy’s own Constitution requires a balanced budget. “For that reason it is fundamental to tackle the problem of extremely high public debt by making adequate structural efforts”. Italy’s massive public debt hit a record 2.1072 trillion euros in February, up 17.5 billion euros since January. The EC has already criticized Italy’s 2014 budget for not doing enough to bring down debt, around 132% of gross domestic product (GDP).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

ADL Calls on Chicago Schools to Respond to Virtual Jewish Incinerator in Online Student Game of ‘Clash of Clans’

The Anti-Defamation League called on the Chicago Public Schools to take action against student harassment in the classroom and online, after Chicago’s CBS 2 exposed how the video-game app ‘Clash of Clans’ was being used by students to create a virtual “Jewish Incinerator.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Inquiry Implicates Former Brooklyn D.A. In Misuse of Public Funds

A Department of Investigation inquiry has implicated Charles J. Hynes, the former Brooklyn district attorney, for improperly using money seized from drug dealers and other criminal defendants to pay a political consultant more than $200,000 for his work on Mr. Hynes’s unsuccessful re-election campaign last year.

The report, which has been referred to the state attorney general and several other agencies, concluded that Mr. Hynes could face felony larceny charges for the misuse of public funds.

The investigation also found that a widely respected jurist, Barry Kamins, the administrative judge for New York City’s criminal courts, violated the judicial code of ethics by advising Mr. Hynes on his campaign, offering legal advice and discussing matters that the district attorney’s office was actively prosecuting. Judge Kamins has been relieved of all administrative duties, a state courts spokesman said on Monday.

[Return to headlines]

Inside the Ring: Memo Outlines Obama’s Plan to Use the Military Against Citizens

By Bill Gertz

A 2010 Pentagon directive on military support to civilian authorities details what critics say is a troubling policy that envisions the Obama administration’s potential use of military force against Americans.

The directive contains noncontroversial provisions on support to civilian fire and emergency services, special events and the domestic use of the Army Corps of Engineers.

The troubling aspect of the directive outlines presidential authority for the use of military arms and forces, including unarmed drones, in operations against domestic unrest.

“This appears to be the latest step in the administration’s decision to use force within the United States against its citizens,” said a defense official opposed to the directive.

Directive No. 3025.18, “Defense Support of Civil Authorities,” was issued Dec. 29, 2010, and states that U.S. commanders “are provided emergency authority under this directive.”

“Federal military forces shall not be used to quell civil disturbances unless specifically authorized by the president in accordance with applicable law or permitted under emergency authority,” the directive states.

“In these circumstances, those federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the president is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances” under two conditions.

The conditions include military support needed “to prevent significant loss of life or wanton destruction of property and are necessary to restore governmental function and public order.” A second use is when federal, state and local authorities “are unable or decline to provide adequate protection for federal property or federal governmental functions.”

“Federal action, including the use of federal military forces, is authorized when necessary to protect the federal property or functions,” the directive states.

Military assistance can include loans of arms, ammunition, vessels and aircraft. The directive states clearly that it is for engaging civilians during times of unrest.

A U.S. official said the Obama administration considered but rejected deploying military force under the directive during the recent standoff with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his armed supporters.

Mr. Bundy is engaged in a legal battle with the federal Bureau of Land Management over unpaid grazing fees. Along with a group of protesters, Mr. Bundy in April confronted federal and local authorities in a standoff that ended when the authorities backed down.

The Pentagon directive authorizes the secretary of defense to approve the use of unarmed drones in domestic unrest. But it bans the use of missile-firing unmanned aircraft.

“Use of armed [unmanned aircraft systems] is not authorized,” the directive says.

The directive was signed by then-Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn. A copy can be found on the Pentagon website: …

           — Hat tip: DS [Return to headlines]

Supreme Court Rejects Appeal From Reporter Over Identity of Source

The Supreme Court on Monday turned down an appeal from James Risen, a New York Times reporter facing jail for refusing to identify a confidential source.

The court’s one-line order gave no reasons but effectively sided with the government in a confrontation between what prosecutors said is an imperative need to secure evidence in a national security prosecution and what journalists said is an intolerable infringement of press freedom.

The case arose from a subpoena to Mr. Risen seeking information about his source for a chapter of his 2006 book “State of War.”

[Return to headlines]

Terry Jones, Bikers Plan June 14 Rally Outside Dearborn Mosque

In what the city’s mayor called an “un-American” event, motorcyclists and Quran-burning pastor Terry Jones of Florida say they are coming to Dearborn this month on Flag Day to rally against what they claim is the threat of Islamic law being implemented in the U.S.

Called the Dearborn Freedom Rally, the June 14 event is to be held in front of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, one of the biggest mosques in Michigan. A Facebook page, with images of a bald eagle and the U.S. Constitution, says that about 450 are planning to attend the event…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

After the Deadly Attack on a Jewish Museum in Brussels, Will Britain be Next?

by Con Coughlin

The arrest of four French jihadists in the wake of last week’s deadly attack against a Jewish museum in Brussels should put the British authorities on full alert against the possibility of similar attacks taking place in Britain…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Dutch Business Group Apologises Over Anti-Islam MP

The Netherlands’ biggest business association has officially apologised over a comments by a Dutch party leader against Islam and Saudi Arabia in the latest move by the European nation to stem the fallout from the controversial remarks.

Days after Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans said he would visit Saudi Arabia to try to prevent trade sanctions against the Netherlands, the VON-NCW, which represents 115,000 companies and establishments, including most small and medium-sized firms, said it regretted the provocative statements.

It said the entire Dutch business society was completely against the comments, it was reported.

Geert Wilders, the leader of the opposition, anti-immigration Dutch Freedom Party, known by its Dutch acronym PVV, wants to halt immigration from Islamic countries to the Netherlands and exit the European Union.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Four Arrested as French Police Swoop on Jihadist Recruiters

Detentions come a day after arrest of a French citizen who had fought in Syria over fatal shooting at Jewish Museum in Brussels

French police have arrested four people in a sweep against jihadist recruiters, a day after authorities said they had detained a French citizen who had fought in Syria over last week’s deadly shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

French Police Arrest Four ‘Jihadist’ Suspects

‘Recruited to fight in Syria’

(ANSA) — Paris, June 2 — French police arrested four suspects on Monday for allegedly recruiting militants to fight in Syria. The suspects were tracked down to the region around Paris as well as the south of France for ties to “a jihadist cell,” said French Interior Minister Berard Cazeneuve, a day after it emerged a 29-year-old Frenchman, Mehdi Nemmouche, was in police custody for links to the murder of three people at the Brussels Jewish Museum last week.

Investigators say Nemmouche, who spent more than a year in Syria, has claimed responsibility for the shooting spree.

Without providing further details to Monday’s arrests, Cazeneuve said there were people in the country recruiting jihadists.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

German Army to Offer Soldiers Crèches and Flat-Screen TVs

Defence ministry seeks to lure recruits with family-friendly package amid criticism from commanders

Germany has announced plans to modernise its armed forces by offering crèches for soldiers’ children and limiting postings to match school term dates. Soldiers are to be allowed to work flexible hours, and barracks accommodation will be refurbished with flat-screen televisions and minibars.…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Iceland: Final Preparations for Mosque Construction Underway

Head of the Muslim Association of Iceland, Ibrahim Sverrir Agnarsson, says the final preparations are being made for the design of a mosque, scheduled to be built on a plot of land on Sogamýri, Reykjavík. “We could in reality break ground—symbolically—after the weekend,” he told yesterday…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Italy: Renzi Moves to ‘Unblock’ Frozen Initiatives

‘Construction sites, building projects held up by bureaucracy’

(ANSA) — Rome, June 2 — Premier Matteo Renzi called on mayors throughout Italy on Monday to help him “unblock” projects and initiatives that have been held up by bureaucracy. “Dear mayor, Italy is relaunching,” said Renzi in a letter sent out to mayors. “Signs of confidence are shown by the determination of the citizens, by various sectors of the economy and by international markets. Nevertheless, it’s not enough. We can and we must do more,” said Renzi. Speaking at a economics fair in Trento on Sunday, Renzi announced his government’s “Unblock Italy” initiative meant to relaunch “projects that have been stalled for 40 years”. The plan is to be officially rolled on by the end of June. Renzi, who has been pushing for deep economic and institutional reforms since the start of his premiership in February, was emboldened last week by his party’s resounding victory at European elections. In his letter to Italian mayors, Renzi insisted that “no reform will be credible without us first sending a signal that the music has truly changed. That’s why I find it a priority that the government adopts all measures necessary to unblock all the initiatives and the construction sites that have been shut frozen for years, due to delays and inconclusive responses from various departments of the civil sector”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Multicultural Surrender Has Turned Britain Into a Third World Country

by James Delingpole

Britain is turning into a third world country. If you want to know how and why, consider three of the ongoing scandals that continued to fester over the weekend…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Muslim Body in Belgium Calls for Dialogue to Promote Peaceful Coexistence

BRUSSELS, June 2 (KUNA) — Muslim Executive of Belgium (MEB), the official interlocutor between public authorities and the Muslim community, Monday called for dialogue to promote peaceful coexistence after the Jewish Museum shooting in which three people were killed.

The MEB President Noureddine Smaili in a statement condemned “in the strongest terms the heinous crime committed in cold blood. No reason or no thought can justify such crimes.” It noted that the arrest of a Muslim suspect for the attack “who is subservient to the religious radicalism, once again throws reproach upon a community that aspires to live in harmony and peace in our society.

“This is why, this tragedy reminds us of the importance of dialogue and living together, which alone can lead to a harmonious and peaceful society,” it said.

“The fight against anti-Semitism and racism in all its forms calls the effort of all without exception. A struggle that is central to the concerns of the Muslim community in Belgium,” it added.

French police on Sunday announced the arrest of a suspect called Mehdi Nemmouche in the French city of Marseille where he had arrived in a bus from Brussels. (end)

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

‘Renzi’s Europe Becoming a Monster’ Says Farage

‘Taking away people’s self-determination’

(ANSA) — Brussels, June 2 — Nigel Farage of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) said Italian Premier Matteo Renzi was “just like the rest” who want to “create the United States of Europe as soon as possible”. Speaking to ANSA, Farage said “Europe is in the hands of the European establishment” and it’s becoming a monster. I fear Renzi is a part of this process”. Farage, who after winning EP elections last week is mulling an alliance with Italy’s anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, went on to defend accusations of racism within his party. “UKIP is neither racist nor sectarian,” said Farage, claiming to be the victim of “a witch hunt” after his party’s success.

As proof he pointed to the fact that UKIP’s constituents recently elected a Muslim businessman, an openly gay man and a seven women. As to why he might side with Grillo, who came in second behind Renzi’s Democratic Party in Italy’s European elections, Farage said it was to oppose a Europe working against its own people. “What Europe and the national governments are doing is taking away the people’s ability to determine their own future,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UK: Damning Reports Will Show State Schools in Birmingham Are Imposing Islamic Practices

The head of Ofsted is expected to reveal six schools have been placed in special measures following worrying evidence of religious interference in the classroom

Teachers are to be sent on training programmes to help them stop extremism entering the classroom, as damning reports show that some state schools have been imposing Islamic practices and attitudes…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Key Figure in ‘Trojan Horse’ Plot is an Ofsted Inspector

The chairman of governors at a school implicated in the alleged “Trojan Horse” plot has been named as an Ofsted inspector — days before the watchdog releases a series of damning reports into the affair

A key figure implicated in the Islamic “Trojan Horse” plot to take over secular state schools in Birmingham is a registered Ofsted inspector, it has emerged. Tahir Alam, chairman of governors at Park View School in the city, has been registered as an education inspector since 2010, it was revealed…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Lutfur Rahman: A Defence Based on Lies

By Andrew Gilligan

I’ve been marvelling at last week’s Guardian article by Richard Seymour and Ashok Kumar defending Lutfur Rahman, the extremist-linked mayor of Tower Hamlets. Ashok is the man who celebrated Rahman’s election victory under the headline: “The last outpost of the Raj falls.” There are also interesting things online about Richard which open, shall we say, new windows into his views on racism. With friends like these, etc, etc…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Swan Killer: I Like the Queen and Didn’t Know What Type of Bird it Was… But it Tasted Nice

A man caught stuffing a beheaded swan into his rucksack said today that he did not know what sort of bird it was. Hasan Fidan, 46, was fined after an angler photographed him killing the creature at a beauty spot.

Officers found the swan chopped into pieces and jammed into Fidan’s freezer when they traced him to his home in Tonbridge, Kent.

In a law dating to the 12th century — when they were considered a delicacy — all mute swans are considered to belong to the monarch.

Today Fidan, originally from Turkey, said he did not realise he had broken the law by hunting one: “I did not know what type of bird it was. For me it was any type of bird. I didn’t know the Queen owned them. “I like the Queen very much. The moment the police told me what I did was wrong, I said I was sorry.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: School ‘Failed to Protect Pupils From Extremism’

An Ofsted probe leaked to Sky also finds students have a scant grasp of other religions because the focus is primarily on Islam.

A Birmingham school facing claims of an Islamist takeover plot has been found to have failed to protect children from extremism, Sky News has learned.

An Ofsted investigation said the school — which Sky News is not naming — is inadequate. Its management has been strongly criticised by inspectors…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

WSJ: Bulgaria’s Western Allies Worry About Eastward Tilt

Recent Government Moves Raise Concerns About Moscow’s Influence in Former Client

The article is from the Wall Street Journal

Concerns are growing in some Western capitals that Bulgaria, for decades one of the Soviet bloc’s most loyal members, could be falling back under Moscow’s spell despite having been accepted years ago into Western alliances.

Any eastward tilt in Sofia could undermine efforts by the European Union and the U.S. to present a united front to Russian President Vladimir Putin as Russia seeks to reassert its influence in Ukraine and other former Soviet republics.

Bulgaria has been in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for a decade and the EU since 2007. Yet the Balkan nation, with its gold-domed Orthodox churches and communist-era architecture, still feels culturally and politically connected to Russia.

“Russia will always be close to the hearts of Bulgarians,” said Yavor Simeonov, head of the governing Socialist party’s youth wing. “Bulgaria has always been between Russia and Europe and it shouldn’t have to choose. It can take a middle path.”

In the past three months, steps by the coalition government have heightened concerns among European diplomats in Sofia and officials in Brussels.

An April legislative package allowing Russia’s natural-gas exporter Gazprom to circumvent EU competition regulations for the Bulgarian section of its South Stream pipeline drew warnings of possible penalties from the European Commission, which also noted Bulgaria’s new law contained some of the exact same wording as the initial proposal from Gazprom.

While other former Warsaw Pact countries condemned Moscow’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March, the Socialist head of parliament’s committee on relations with Russia, Mikhail Mirov, sent a letter of congratulations to the Russian parliament.

Although Sofia backed the first round of EU sanctions against Russia, Socialist lawmakers on parliament’s foreign-affairs committee put forward a motion in May to oppose any more.

Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski has repeatedly voiced opposition to escalating the sanctions war against Russia, calling for a “balanced position” on the crisis, according to Bulgaria’s state news agency.

“We are worried because we see expanding Russian influence in many sectors here,” said one senior European diplomat in Sofia. “When it comes to sanctions, the Bulgarians are a potential weak spot for Europe which could be a problem.”

Bulgaria, the EU’s poorest member state, is potentially more vulnerable to the political fallout of the Ukraine crisis than other countries formerly behind the Iron Curtain.

Staunchly pro-Western Poland is less hooked on Russian energy supplies, as is Romania, which joined the EU with Bulgaria in 2007. Both also drew a more independent path from Moscow during communist times.

The Baltic countries tend to see Moscow as a former occupier, whereas Sofia sees Moscow as a friend. Bulgaria’s only oil refinery is controlled by Russia’s Lukoil and its only nuclear plant runs on Russian fuel.

“Everyone is concentrating on Ukraine but the crisis also has the potential to push the soft disintegration of the EU,” said Ivan Krastev, chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, a Sofia-based think tank.

“You have very divergent interests between Poles and Baltics, who feel very exposed, and Bulgaria which wants no shift and sees the European position toward Russia as unnecessarily hostile,” he said.

Bulgaria’s foreign and economy ministries didn’t respond to requests for an interview. The governing Socialist party—a direct descendant of the communists who governed Bulgaria before the fall of the Berlin Wall—has repeatedly said it favors a European future, stressing that party leader Sergey Stanishev is also president of the Party of European Socialists.

The Russian Embassy in Sofia didn’t respond to calls for comment.

Bulgaria’s government has sent pro-Western signals as well, going along with the initial sanctions and taking part in two U.S.-led naval exercises in the Black Sea since the Ukraine crisis erupted.

Bulgaria has been on the rough end of Moscow’s policy choices too: freezing along with Ukraine in 2009 when Russia cut natural-gas supplies after a price dispute.

Some Western officials suggested that the government’s more pronounced pro-Russian rhetoric was related to elections this month for the European Parliament, which the ruling party cast as a referendum on its performance in government. If so, it is unclear what impact it had: The center-right opposition finished first with about 30% of the vote, well ahead of the Socialists with 19%.

Still, pollsters note that Russian propaganda—disseminated through Russian television channels and pro-Moscow newspapers—is increasingly resonating with Bulgarians.

A poll this month by the U.S. firm Gallup found that the number of respondents who backed pro-Russian forces in Ukraine was almost the same as the number who supported the government in Kiev.

A separate poll from Bulgarian pollster Alpha Research at the end of April found that while 40% of people supported the country’s EU membership, 22% favored joining Moscow’s nascent Customs Union.

“Right now Bulgaria is torn between these two realities. The EU hasn’t brought the wealth many people hoped it would in recent years and many are nostalgic for the Soviet past,” said Boryana Dimitrova, Alpha Research’s director. “We’ve been called the Trojan horse of Russia in the EU because of its past and that could be true now.”

Political analysts Moscow’s economic footprint in Bulgaria has expanded—particularly in the energy and media sectors—in recent years while the EU was fixated on battling its sovereign debt crisis…

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

Young Man Killed, Four Others Wounded in South France Shooting

PARIS, June 2 (Xinhua) — A young man had been killed and four others wounded during a shooting in the southern city of Avignon, local media reported on Sunday.

According to the local broadcaster Europe1, two masked gunmen on Saturday night opened fire against a group of youth gathered in a popular area in the southern city…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Israel Strikes Militant Sites in Central, Southern Gaza

JERUSALEM, June 2 (Xinhua) — Israeli military aircraft targeted sites operated by militants in the Gaza Strip early on Monday in retaliation to rockets fired into southern Israel over the past 48 hours, the army said.

Pilots confirmed direct hits on two “terror sites” in central and southern Gaza, the army said in a statement but did not elaborate…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Palestinian Women Stage Sit-in at Al Aqsa Mosque

Scores of Palestinian women staged on Monday a sit-in at the western gate of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem.

They were protesting Israeli police demand that they hand over their ID cards until they finished performing their prayers inside the mosque and come out. Since Sunday, Israeli police have kept the identity cards of several Palestinian women…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

US Will Work With Palestinian Unity Government

Kerry speaks to Netanyahu by phone; State Department says no plans to cut off aid despite some US lawmakers’ comments to the contrary, says the US “will be judging this government by its actions.”

WASHINGTON — The United States will work with a new Palestinian Authority that has unified Hamas and Fatah, the State Department said on Monday, hours after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas swore in the new government.

“Based on what we know now, we intend to work with this government,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters. “We will continue to evaluate the composition and policies of the new government, and if needed, we will recalibrate our approach.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

40 Killed in Spate of Attacks Across Iraq

BAGHDAD, June 2 (Xinhua) — A total of 40 people were killed and 92 others wounded in separate bombings and shootings across Iraq on Monday, while up to 17 civilians died in a deadly accident of a river tour in southern part of the country, security and medical sources said.

The heaviest casualties during the day occurred in the militant- seized city of Fallujah, some 50 km west of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, when up to 22 people were killed and 36 others wounded during the past 24 hours by airstrikes, artillery and mortar shelling on several neighborhoods in the city, a medical source from the city hospital told Xinhua…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Baroness Nicholson and Iran’s Iraq

by Samuel Westrop

Why does the British Prime Minister appoint politicians with links to violent regimes as trade envoys?

On January 30, Prime Minister David Cameron selected Baroness Emma Nicholson as Britain’s trade envoy to Iraq. Questions have now arisen about the nature of her connections to the Iranian regime, and what, if anything, these connections might mean as a result of her appointment as trade envoy…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Gazprom Extends Ultimatum for Ukraine Gas Payment

Russia’s energy giant Gazprom has decided to give Ukraine an additional week for its gas payment, setting June 9 as a new deadline.

Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller announced the move after the company received USD 786 M, the first tranche of the USD 2.237 B sum Kiev is to transfer for gas supplies within the coming days, RIA Novosti reported.

Ukraine has delivered on its debt for part of the gas sold before April 1 and is yet to make payments for quantities pumped up in April and May.

If the Russian state-owned concern does not receive the whole sum until June 9, it is to introduce advanced payment for any quantities of gas demanded by Ukraine.

Russia and Ukraine are due to continue talks in Brussels over the gas pricing system in an attempt to end a dispute that emerged in April, when Gazprom abolished a special pricing regime previously available for Kiev.

According to Ukraine’s UNIAN news agency, Gazprom announced Monday it would also look into options for discounts.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has pledged that Kiev will make its payments by the end of this week if new terms of the gas supplies agreement are reached during the talks.

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

New Mosque Opened in Tatarstan Village

An opening ceremony of a new mosque was held in the village of Srednyaya Korsa on Saturday. It was joyful event for both the residents of the village and Tatarstani Muslims at large.

The opening ceremony of the “Muhammad Vaf” mosque was attended by respected guests from Turkey. It is worthy to note that the mosque has been erected on the motherland of the renowned Tatarstani theologian Gabdennasir Kursavi…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

2 Suicide Attacks Kill 11 in Afghanistan

KABUL, June 2 (Xinhua) — Two suicide attacks which rocked the southern Helmand and the eastern Nangarhar province on Monday had left 11 people dead, including three Turkish nationals and five attackers…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Bowe Bergdahl ‘A Deserter Who Cost Soldiers’ Lives’, Say US Army Comrades

American prisoner of war freed in deal with the Taliban abandoned his post in Afghanistan and six soldiers died looking for him, it has been alleged

Former military comrades of Bowe Bergdahl have called the released American prisoner of war a deserter whose “selfish” actions costs the lives of six fellow soldiers searching for him. His army peers said they were expressing their anger in public for the first time because they had previously faced the risk of prosecution if they spoke out while efforts continued to free him.

Their scathing comments were in sharp contrast to the pride expressed by the Obama administration at securing the soldier’s release and fuelled the controversy that five senior Afghan Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo Bay were freed in the swap.

“He is safe, and now it is time to speak the truth,” said Nathan Bradley Bethea, an officer who served with Mr Berghdahl in the the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment. “The truth is: Bergdahl was a deserter, and soldiers from his own unit died trying to track him down.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Cadbury Chocolate Pork Free, Says Malaysian Islamic Body

Cadbury chocolate has been found not to contain pork DNA by Islamic authorities in Malaysia.

Earlier government tests on two Cadbury products had suggested they might not have been suitable for Muslims. However, new tests by Malaysian Islamic authorities found no traces of pork in a range of Cadbury products. Nevertheless, an Islamic consumer body said it would maintain its call for a boycott of Cadbury chocolate. The boycott would be only be lifted should the earlier health ministry tests be acknowledged as wrong, the body said…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Captive in Afghanistan: Bowe Bergdahl: Yvonne Ridley, And Me

by Phyllis Chesler

Unless one has been through it, one cannot imagine what five years of captivity in Afghanistan might be like.

I only endured five months of captivity in Kabul and, to this day, no one has ever understood what that was like.

Breitbart reporters Jordan Schachtel, Raheem Kassam, and Dr. Sebastian Gorka have charged that Bowe Bergdahl may be a secret spy as well as a true believer convert to Islam. They may be right. He might just turn out to be a real-life Nicholas Brody, the former star of Homeland. Bowe allegedly just walked off his base. Was he deserting his post? Was he somehow crazed by war?

Now, Bergdahl’s father Robert sports a long, unkempt, flowing beard which suggests that he may also be a convert to Islam. Apparently, Bowe is having difficulty speaking English and so, rather curiously, at a press conference with President Obama, his father addressed his newly liberated son in Arabic, not Pushto or Dari, the languages native to Afghanistan. In a previous video Bergdahl Senior made, he respectfully addressed “those who have cared for our son, as a prisoner and as a guest.”…

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Indian Police Use Water Cannon to End Gang-Rape Protest in Lucknow

Protesters outside office of chief minister of Uttar Pradesh demand end to violence against women

Indian police have fired water cannon at a mainly female group protesting against the gang-rape and lynching of two girls in the country’s largest state…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Latorre Says Italian Marines ‘Suffer With Dignity’ In India

Girone says pair are innocent in shooting

(ANSA) — Rome, June 2 — One of the two Italian marines who have been held in India for two years said Monday that all they can do is “suffer with dignity” as they wait for a resolution to the case against them involving two fishermen killed while the marines were on anti-pirate patrol. In a video link from New Delhi, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone repeated their innocence in a message for Italy’s Republic Day. Meanwhile, Nicola Latorre, who heads the Senate defence committee, said talks should soon begin with India’s newly elected government.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Singapore: 109-Year-Old Al-Huda Mosque to be Upgraded

SINGAPORE — A mosque in Bukit Timah, which goes back 109 years, will undergo a long-overdue refurbishment from Monday, with the $1.1 million cost to be reimbursed from the sales of private residential units to be built on adjacent land.

Located near Sixth Avenue, Al-Huda Mosque was built in 1905 and has not been upgraded since 1966, when its wooden structure was rebuilt in concrete.

The mosque and the private property that will come up next to it stand on about 2,830 sq m of wakaf land — land bequeathed or willed by a Muslim towards religious or charitable uses…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

The Bigger Story in the Real War on Women

by Phyllis Chesler

And so now Malaysian men have joined the circus of barbarism against women that is very much upon us this season. Is such violence specific to Asia?

Actually, no.

For example, similar kinds of bestial rape-murders took place in Guatemala at the hands of paramilitary troops. One haunting book recounts the tale of a girl who was literally raped to death?. She? began singing the Ave Maria until she actually died and her singing did not stop the men but it did “spook” them. More recently, indigenous women have brought lawsuits against military men for gang-rape. Such matters may still be pending.

Repeated public gang rapes were used as weapons of war in Bosnia, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Sudan, and along the way the International Tribunal of Justice declared rape to be a war crime. That declaration has not stopped sexual violence from happening, and individual sovereign countries not holding themselves accountable for this crime.

The Malaysian suggestion to solve this problem by bringing back the hudud laws is laughable since this would only further penalize women.

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Mixed Blessings to Roselands Mosque

Roselands Mosque will seek to extend its operating hours as residents continue to raise concerns about the running of the site.

The mosque opened in late February under strict conditions for one year set by Canterbury Council.

The conditions included the mosque be used for prayer only on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from noon to 7.30pm, and a limit of 15 to 25 worshippers depending on prayer times. Mosque chairman Ahmad Kamaledine told The Express it would apply to council to extend the hours of operation. “We are in the process of putting together a section 96 to expand the operating hours and that could be submitted to council any day now,” Mr Kamaledine said…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Nigeria Schools Walk Line Between Islamic and Western Traditions

For Muslim children in northern Nigeria, memorising and reciting the holy Koran is an integral part of growing up.

Down an alleyway in central Kano, I find one of the many Koranic schools which have changed little in generations. About 800 boys are sitting on mats chanting verses of the Koran, which they have written out on wooden tablets with short sharpened sticks, dipped in ink. They do this for hours each day. For most of these boys, this is the only education they get…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Whistleblower Snowden Seeks Asylum in Brazil

(AGI) Brasilia, June 2 — Whistleblower Edward Snowden said he was seeking political asylum in Brazil. “I would love living in Brazil,” said the American National Security Agency leaker during an interview with Globo TV on Sunday. His temporary asylum in Russia expires in August. The United States has revoked Mr Snowden’s passport.

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

Suspected Tunisian People Traffickers Arrested in Sicily

(AGI) Siracusa, June 2 — Four Tunisians believed to have piloted the boats seized by the Italian navy in the Strait of Sicily over the weekend were arrested in Augusta after the refugees had landed. They may be charged with aiding and abetting illegal immigration. The suspects were identified by maritime border police and inter-forces officers appointed by Syracuse prosecutors to fight illegal immigration.

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

Tony Blair: Nigel Farage is Deceiving the British People Over Immigration

The former Prime Minister says the Ukip leader is fuelling grievances about immigration and it is ‘dangerous’ for other politicians to pander to such ‘unpleasant prejudices’

Nigel Farage is “traducing” Britain and “deceiving” voters by fuelling “grievances” about immigration and Europe, Tony Blair has said. The former Prime Minister said that it is “dangerous and wrong” for Britain’s political leaders to pander to “unpleasant prejudices” and an “attitude which says we don’t like foreigners”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

8 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 6/2/2014

  1. Tony Blair is known in the UK as Tony B Liar. He is also regarded as a hypocrite particularly for his recent pontifications on immigration and UKIP. Nigel Farage is only voicing the concerns of genuine British taxpayers when he criticises the undemocratic EU and its policy of uncontrolled mass immigration. In the UK it was Blair’s government that introduced mass immigration into the UK and he did so in an underhand way and without seeking a mandate from the electorate. He also appears to have become very rich in his retirement. Who said petro dollars?

    • Blair and his enablers are Traitors. There is no other description for the way they have undermined Britain and its people. And regardless of Blair having had the act of Treason repealed, Blair and his enablers must be called out for what they have done and for what they are.

  2. @Bowe Bergdahl ‘A Deserter Who Cost Soldiers’ Lives’, Say US Army Comrades

    A creepy American horror show of disorientation and self-delusion …

  3. ” A Dutch trade association has apologized to Saudi Arabia”

    Are there any men with chicken balls left in Europe? What kind of continent or politicians there are in Europe. Do they think that apologies are manly things? Do they have any dignity, honor? Do they know what honor is? If they don’t they should know that honor means to starve to death and not apologize or compromise one’s values. Europe and values? oh no. Islam and terrorism? Oh no.

    • A Dutch Trade Assocition has apologised for the actions of a Dutch politician to save valuable trade links no doubt. But why should this group feel the need to apologise for something that was not of their making? Are they so afraid of losing their share of the Saudi trough? ” We are sorry he upset you” isn’t much of an apology – more of “it wasn’t us gov, honest” but there isn’t much honesty to be had here is there?. The only honesty in this whole affair comes from Geert Willders original statement with which I heartily concur and support his right to make it.

  4. ” Tony Blair: Nigel Farage is Deceiving the British People Over Immigration”

    Tony Blair the LIAR has converted to Catholicism. It did not change anything in him. To be a Christian you have to have conscience, scruples, moral sense, a sense of right and wrong. A real Christian has to tell the truth and care about his own family, neighbors, society, country first, the charity is extended to other foreign countries. Blair you don’t sacrifice your own people for foreigners, because they don’t sacrifice themselves to your people. Is it not sad to tell a supposedly learned PM axioms like these.? How could EU politicians evolve to become sheeple? They have no courage, no discerning, no scruples, no care for their own people, no sense of right or wrong. The only goal they have is to invite as many invaders as possible before the people wake up. Because they have no values of any kind they surrender their country and women to invaders to prove that they are not racists and that they have values. That one value has replaced all other meaningful values.

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