Gates of Vienna News Feed 6/4/2014

Public controversy about the “Trojan Horse” scandal about the radical Islamic infiltration British schools has been ratcheted up by the political war between Theresa May and Michael Gove. As James Kirkup from The Telegraph says:

Theresa May goes nuclear

Theresa May has been accused of an “extraordinary over-reaction” by publishing private Cabinet papers as part of a row with Michael Gove. Senior Government sources have expressed alarm after the Home Secretary published a letter she wrote to the Education Secretary about Islamic extremism.

See various articles below for more on the topic.

In other news, seventeen people were killed and more than fifty wounded in separate bomb attacks across Iraq.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Egghead, Fjordman, Insubria, JP, 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.

» Becket Fund Explains Defense of TN Mosque
» Mosque Construction Still Underway
» New York Police Arrest Suspect in Child Stabbing Case
» NSA Chief: Agency Not Collecting Visual Images of US People
» White House Admits Oversight in Bergdahl Deal: Senate Committee Chairwoman
» Canada’s Expanding Muslim Population
Europe and the EU
» Bulgaria Caught Between Russia and Europe in the Game of Pipes
» Bulgarian PM Sees No Link Between Suspended EU Funds, South Stream
» Bulgaria ‘Must Suspend’ South Stream During Procedure — EU Commission
» EU Anti-Terror Chief Expects ‘More Small-Scale Attacks’
» Germany Opens Probe Into Merkel ‘NSA Phone Tapping’
» Germany: The Fair Mosque
» Iceland: Founder of Muslim Association Sues for Hate Speech
» Italy: Judiciary Asked to Probe Handling of Marines Affair
» Italy: Venice Mayor Among 35 Arrested in Flood-System Probe-Update2
» Italy: Grillo Writes to European Greens
» Italy: Tax Cop ‘Promised 2.5 Mn Euros’ To Ease Mose Probes
» Italy: Audit Court Magistrate Held in Venice Graft Scandal
» Italy: Venice Corruption Scandal ‘Includes Bribesville Politicians’
» Mass Grave With Bones of Up to 800 Kids Found in Ireland
» Northern Ireland: Islam Row: Peter Robinson Makes Public Apology for Causing Offence to Muslims After Meeting in Belfast
» Spanish Food Giant Ebro Buys 52% of Garofalo Premium Pasta
» UK: Brutal: Retired East Lancs Teacher Held in Captivity and Beaten for 5 Months
» UK: Cabinet Splits as Gove and May Point Finger Over Extremism in Birmingham Schools
» UK: David Cameron’s Inaction Has Fuelled the Row Between Michael Gove and Theresa May Over Extremism in Schools
» UK: Education Experts Voice Fury Over Ofsted’s ‘Trojan Horse’ Schools Inquiry
» UK: Five Things You Need to Know About Theresa May’s Row With Michael Gove
» UK: Governors Banned From School After £900k Deficit Revealed
» UK: Husband Jailed for Life Over Rania Alayed Murder
» UK: PM Intervenes in Gove-May Dispute
» UK: Theresa May’s Letter to Michael Gove in Full
» UK: Two Held Over Tower Hamlets Electoral Irregularities
North Africa
» Libya’s New Prime Minister and Anti Islamist General Escape Assassination Attempts
» Libya’s Renegade General Survives Assassination Attempt
Israel and the Palestinians
» Britain Welcomes Formation of New Palestinian Interim Gov’t
Middle East
» 17 Killed, 53 Wounded in Bomb Attacks Across Iraq
» Jordan Protests Over Israeli Measures on Aqsa Mosque
» Qatar 2022: Bribery and Corruption Hits the Middle East’s First World Cup
» US, Turkey Embroiled in Scandal Over CNN ‘Spy’
» Yemeni Security Forces Kill 2 Al-Qaida Militants in Firefight
» 300 Pro-Russians Killed in East Ukraine in 24 Hours
» Prompt Reorganization of Russian Army Due to NATO Activities
» Ukraine Starts Mass Production of Armored Personnel Carriers
» Ukrainian Army Resumed Shelling in Slavyansk
South Asia
» Afghanistan Protests Against US Deal to Free Taliban Prisoners
» Afghanistan: Bowe Bergdahl ‘Wanted to Renounce US Citizenship’
» Another Girl ‘Raped and Hanged’ In India
» ‘Flexible’ US Ready to Meet India’s Defence Requirements
» Indian Jesuit Priest Kidnapped in Afghanistan , “A Life in Service of Marginalized”
» Russia Lifts Arms Embargo to Pakistan: Report
Far East
» Hong Kong Remembers Tiananmen
Australia — Pacific
» New Zealand: Claim Drone Strike Victims Encountered Radical Islam at Christchurch Mosque
» New Zealand: Drone Victims ‘Radicalised’ At Mosque
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Boko Haram Kill Villagers in Front of Church
» Boko Haram Attack Church Dressed as Nigeria Soldiers as Dozens Are Killed in Fresh Raids
» Dozens Killed by Boko Haram in Nigeria, Says BBC
Latin America
» Italy ‘Overtaken by Brazil in Manufacturing’
» Venezuela Demands US to Explain Its Role in Assassination Plan
» UK: Whitehall Mole Sabotages Hundreds of Immigration Raids by Leaking Identities of Targets to Activists
» Women Would Have to Breed for Britain if Immigration is Curbed, Says Stella Creasy

Becket Fund Explains Defense of TN Mosque

A law firm dedicated to religious liberty is pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a lawsuit from Tennessee residents who tried to shut down a new mega-mosque in Murfreesboro Tennessee.

There had been a mosque in the Murfreesboro, Tennessee community for over 30 years, but in 2012 some residents of Rutherford County filed a lawsuit over concerns about how the proposed new 52,000-square-foot mega-mosque was going to be utilized…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Mosque Construction Still Underway

POCATELLO, Idaho — By the end of June, Pocatello will have a completed mosque to add to the diversity of churches and other religious institutions in the city. But the crews still in the middle of construction. One of the biggest changes is to the roof. It’s no longer flat but more like a house, and most of the inside walls have been removed…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

New York Police Arrest Suspect in Child Stabbing Case

A suspect has been arrested in the weekend stabbing attack that left a 6-year-old boy dead and his 7-year-old friend critically wounded, a police inspector said.

The arrest, of Daniel St. Hubert, was announced shortly after his name was revealed at a news conference at police headquarters.

Mr. St. Hubert was arrested shortly after 8 p.m. in Queens, the police said.

[Return to headlines]

NSA Chief: Agency Not Collecting Visual Images of US People

The U.S. National Security Agency is not routinely collecting visual images of people in the United States or mining photographs taken for U.S. drivers’ licenses, the four-star U.S. Navy admiral who runs the spy agency said on Tuesday.

Admiral Mike Rogers, who heads the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, acknowledged that the agency used facial recognition technology but said the aim was to deepen its knowledge of foreign intelligence targets and counterterrorism targets. He gave no specifics.

However, Rogers insisted the agency was not collecting such images of U.S. citizens, unless they were linked with an investigation of a foreign subject, and then only after taking the appropriate legal steps.

“We do not do this on some unilateral basis against U.S. citizens,” he told a conference hosted by Bloomberg. “We just don’t … decide, ‘Hey, today I’m going to go after Citizen X, Y or Z.’ We don’t do that. We can’t legally do that.”

He said some people thought the NSA was combing through databases of photographs for U.S. drivers licenses but said that was not the case.

The New York Times, citing documents it obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, on Sunday reported the agency was using facial recognition software to analyze images of people intercepted through its global surveillance operations.

The newspaper said the documents showed that the agency intercepted millions of images per day, including about 55,000 “facial recognition-quality images.”

Rogers, who moved into the top jobs at NSA and Cyber Command two months ago, has emphasized the need to better balance transparency about the government’s surveillance systems with privacy protections for U.S. citizens.

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

White House Admits Oversight in Bergdahl Deal: Senate Committee Chairwoman

WASHINGTON, June 3 (Xinhua) — The White House has said it was an oversight for failing to inform Congress in advance of a deal to release five Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for the only American soldier held captive in Afghanistan, the Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein said on Tuesday…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Canada’s Expanding Muslim Population

Which country has the fastest-growing Muslim population? No, it’s not Canada, it’s Ireland. But Canada is a close second. From 2010 to 2030, the general population of Canada is expected to increase by 18%. However, according the Pew Forum survey “The Future of the Global Muslim Population,” during that same time period the Muslim population of Canada will increase by 183% — i.e., 10 times faster than the general population. One focal point is Calgary; it’s the fastest-growing Canadian city, and its Baitunnur Mosque is the largest mosque in North America.

Dutch halal sex shop hooks up with German erotic giant

A Dutch online shop selling halal sex products announced Wednesday an alliance with Europe’s largest erotic retailer to tap into the lucrative Muslim market, potentially worth billions of euros.

The founder of Amsterdam-based El Asira, Abdelaziz Aouragh, said the deal with Frankfurt-listed Beate Uhse (Xetra: 755140 — news) came four years after his company first launched a range of erotic products that do not contravene Sharia law.

El Asira, which means “Society” in Arabic, launched its range of discreet products in 2010, including sensual oils based on the highly sought-after agar wood oil — one of the world’s most expensive natural raw materials — to massive acclaim and approval from the local Muslim community.

“We will take 18 of our Islamic branded products to the market through Beate Uhse,” Aouragh told AFP.

“Considering we’re targeting a (global) market of around 1.8 billion people, the potential is huge,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Bulgaria Caught Between Russia and Europe in the Game of Pipes

Each time the ЕC slams Bulgaria over South Stream, Economy Minister Dragomir Stoynev makes a statement, with both anger and anxiety carved into his face. Is he embarrassed for having to stick to the government’s prescriptions?

He might be. Some experts claim that, in the case of South Stream, instructions come directly from Gazprom. But even if the pipeline is just yet another evidence of Russian influence in Bulgaria, there is more to it to be taken into consideration.

Bulgaria does not have alternative routes safeguarding energy security. In this it resembles Central and East European countries like Greece, Austria, Hungary and Slovenia, which are also set to have the new pipeline on their soil. Some of these countries have also signed agreements with Gazprom; but it is Bulgaria that the Commission chose to start an infringement procedure against, despite hinting the record of other states regarding South Stream might also be dubious.

EC admitted it was in a rush to stop the project and that is why it sanctioned Bulgaria. But the government in Bulgaria is also in a rush to see the project is under way; it knows that here energy could easily make a government fall.

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

Bulgarian PM Sees No Link Between Suspended EU Funds, South Stream

Bulgarian Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski. Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski sees no connection between the suspended European funds for regional development and the South Stream issue.

The European Commission decided to temporarily suspend payments to Bulgaria under the Operational Programme for Regional Development, citing mismanagement during the 2010-2013 period.

Meanwhile, Bulgaria is also facing procedures from the EC for its decision to implement amendments to the status of the South Stream gas pipeline, which would not be in accordance with European law.

“I would like to think that there is no connection between the two. I have also been assured by the European Commission that there is no link between the suspended funds and South Stream”, PM Oresharski said in Parliament on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister outlined that there has been criticism for the use of regional development funds in the past as well, while the latest penalties concern a longer period over the last 3 years.

On the issue of South Stream, Oresharski was clear that it is an important project for the country, but needs to be constructed in line with European norms.

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

Bulgaria ‘Must Suspend’ South Stream During Procedure — EU Commission

EU Commission expects that Bulgaria will not pursue activities regarding the construction of South Stream gas pipeline while an infringement procedure is under way.

Antoine Colombani, spokesman for the Commission’s Vice-President Joaquin Almunia, said the position of Brussels on that matter remains unchanged after the ruling party in Bulgaria declared Wednesday it would not freeze the pipeline project despite having been asked to do so.

“We really asked Bulgaria to suspend the project while we are carrying out discussions with Bulgarian authorities on the issue,” the Bulgarian National Radio quoted Colombani as saying.

He reminded the first stage of an infringement procedure was already in force and its “steps” have been clearly outlined. A second written warning and then a “last” one are to be issued if a certain country does not comply with the Commission’s actions. If it does not abide by the requirements it might be taken to the European court.

Colombani’s comments came after the EU Commission announced it had launched an infringement procedure against Bulgaria over competition and public procurement issues in the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline.

Brussels also believes recent amendments adopted at first reading by Bulgarian Parliament come at odds with the Third Energy Package, as they seek to block third-party access to the offshore section of the pipeline.

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

EU Anti-Terror Chief Expects ‘More Small-Scale Attacks’

(BRUSSELS) — Europe can expect further “small-scale attacks” like the fatal shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, the EU’s anti-terror chief Gilles de Kerchove said Monday.

“I don’t expect another 9/11,” he said in a video statement. “I don’t expect a major sophisticated attack.”

“I expect more small-scale attacks like the one in Brussels,” he added referring to the May 24 attack that left three dead and a young man fighting for his life.

A 29-year-old Frenchman, Mehdi Nemmouche, who spent more than a year fighting in Syria, is being held in custody on suspicion of the attack after being detained Friday in Marseille.

De Kerchove said more than 2,000 Europeans had left for Syria or were on their way there, where “they will get military training, become much more radicalised, and have a network across Europe.”

Though “few will mount an attack”, the Brussels incident was “very, very worrying” for Europe’s future security, he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germany Opens Probe Into Merkel ‘NSA Phone Tapping’

Investigation into ‘persons unknown’

(ANSA) — Rome, June 4 — Germany on Wednesday opened a probe into allegations by United States intelligence leaker Edward Snowden that the US government bugged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone.

Federal prosecutor Harald Range told parliament an investigation would be held into persons unknown.

Merkel in October asked US President Barack Obama for an explanation for the alleged spying by the US National Security Agency

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Germany: The Fair Mosque

Mosques with solar panels, fair trade products and a guide to living an eco-friendly life during the Hajj … Eco Islam is gaining momentum. Ulrike Hummel reports on a project that seeks to develop environmental awareness among Muslims in Germany

Various organic teas, lovingly prepared vegetarian dishes as well as porcelain plates and cups are arranged on a buffet table laid out for the midday break. Small sample bottles of high-quality argan oil products have been placed on the tables in the meeting room — all fairly traded and “halal”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Iceland: Founder of Muslim Association Sues for Hate Speech

Salman Tamimi, founder of the Muslim Association of Iceland, and his lawyer, Helga Vala Helgadóttir, say it is important to make a stand against the hate speech which has recently been flaring up on the internet.

An article published on on Sunday with the heading ‘Could start to build mosque after the weekend’ sparked a lot of discussion. Some of the comments on the website were particularly harsh and were directed towards Salman and Ibrahim Sverrir Agnarsson, chair of the association…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Italy: Judiciary Asked to Probe Handling of Marines Affair

Citizens group accuses authorities of ‘obscurantism’

(ANSA) — Rome, June 3 — A group of citizens on Tuesday called on the judiciary to look into the handling of the case of two Italian marines detained in India without formal charges after allegedly murdering two Indian fishermen during an anti-piracy mission in February 2012. “With this petition to the public prosecution we intend to have our say,” said General Fernando Termentini of the case concerning Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, a day after the servicemen reiterated their innocence and said all they could do is “suffer with dignity” as they wait for a resolution to the affair. “To say that there is obscurantism surrounding the case is an understatement,” continued Termentini. “Often the facts that are reported are at the limit of being inferential. “The two marines must have justice and they must be tried before the ‘natural tribunal’, which is Italian. Last week Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini said a team of experts in international law had begun work on the case with a view to steering it towards arbitration by an international organisation such as the United Nations.

Meanwhile on Tuesday the navy said the patience of Latorre and Girone was wearing thin and called on Premier Matteo Renzi to channel “his enthusiasm and energy into brining our boys home”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Venice Mayor Among 35 Arrested in Flood-System Probe-Update2

Request for arrest of ex minister Galan, around 100 probed

(ANSA) — Venice, June 4 — Venice Mayor Giorgio Orsoni was among 35 people arrested on Wednesday in relation to a probe into alleged corruption in contracts for the Lagoon city’s MOSE flood-protection system. Veneto Infrastructure Councillor Renato Chisso was arrested too, while around 100 people are under investigation, judicial sources said. Prosecutors also requested the arrest of former Veneto governor and ex minister Giancarlo Galan, a Senator for ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (FI) party. The Upper House will have to decide whether to authorise the arrest.

Galan was at the helm of the region around Venice from 1995 to 2010 before short stints as agriculture and then culture minister between 2010 and 2011 in Berlusconi’s third and final executive. The probe is the latest in a series of investigations into alleged corruption to have hit parties from many parts of Italy’s political spectrum and contributed to growing disenchantment with the ruling class.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Grillo Writes to European Greens

‘Knock knock, anybody at home’ quips on blog

(ANSA) — Rome, June 4 — Anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) leader Beppe Grillo on Wednesday wrote to the head of the European Green caucus, Vula Tsetsi, to explore “possible collaboration” at the European Parliament.

The letter was posted on Grillo’s blog under the title “Knock knock, anybody at home?.

Grillo, who got 21% of the Italian EP vote to finish 20% behind Premier Matteo Renci’s Democratic Party, has come under pressure from M5S activists to put out feelers to the Greens as a possible alternative to a mooted alliance with UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Tax Cop ‘Promised 2.5 Mn Euros’ To Ease Mose Probes

General Emilio Spaziante among 35 arrested

(ANSA) — Milan, June 4 — A top tax cop was promised 2.5 million euros to influence inspections and criminal probes on the MOSE flood barriers in Venice, according to his arrest warrant released to the press Wednesday.

Finance Guard General Emilio Spaziante, now retired, was one of 35, including Mayor Giorgio Orsoni, arrested on suspicion of involvement in an alleged 25-million-euro tender-rigging for the massive, near-completed project to protect the lagoon city.

Spaziante eventually received half a million euros which he allegedly split with two of the other people arrested, the warrant said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Audit Court Magistrate Held in Venice Graft Scandal

Alleged scheme funneled bribes to political campaigns

(see related) (ANSA) — Venice, June 4 — A magistrate in the Rome audit court was arrested in an unfolding political corruption scandal, police files showed Wednesday. Vittorio Giuseppone, formerly of the Venice audit court, allegedly received roughly half a million euros annually over several years from the body that oversees building the lagoon city’s MOSE flood-prevention system, “acts that went against his duties”. Giuseppone is among 35 people arrested, including the mayor of Venice and other politicians, for an alleged scheme to funnel bribes to political campaigns.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Venice Corruption Scandal ‘Includes Bribesville Politicians’

‘Recent scheme even more sophisticated’ says prosecutor

(see related) (ANSA) — Venice, June 4 — A prosecutor in Venice on Wednesday said a political corruption scandal unfolding there included some of the same politicians involved in the Bribesville probes of the 1990s that brought down the old party system. “(In some cases) we’ve found the same suspects from the 1990s,” said Carlo Nordio, who played a role in the investigations two decades ago. The current alleged scheme involves the consortium building the lagoon city’s flood-prevention system, which is accused of illicitly back-channeling 25 million euros to election campaigns over several years. High-profile names among the 35 arrested Wednesday include Venice Mayor Giorgio Orsoni and Veneto Infrastructure Councillor Renato Chisso, and investigators have requested the arrest of former Veneto governor and ex-minister Giancarlo Galan, currently a Senator. According to Nordio, the web of bribery in Venice is much more sophisticated than Bribesville, which was brought down by the Clean Hands anti-corruption probes. He and Chief Prosecutor Luigi Delpino said the case has effectively been open since 2008.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Mass Grave With Bones of Up to 800 Kids Found in Ireland

Remains thrown in septic tank by nuns at home of unwed mothers

(ANSA) — London, June 3 — The bodies of as many as 800 children have been found in a mass grave in western Ireland at a former home for unwed mothers run by nuns between 1925 and 1961, Irish media reported.

Many of the children died of disease and malnutrition and their bodies were thrown into a septic tank.

The discovery in Tuam, where nuns from the Bon Secours order ran the home for pregnant unmarried women, sheds more light on a dark period in the history of Catholic Ireland, where pregnancy outside marriage was often treated as one of the worst possible crimes.

Police are continuing to investigate and media reports say that the Catholic Church is discussing construction of a memorial to the children.

Irish Central newspaper quoted local historian Catherine Corless, who says she recalled growing up the so-called “Home Babies” who she said were segregated by nuns at school and treated badly by everyone.

She said that she was moved as an adult to research what became of the children, and through a regional health board tracked down the records of the deaths of 796 children at the home.

The records listed names, birth dates and sometimes included cause of death for each child.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Northern Ireland: Islam Row: Peter Robinson Makes Public Apology for Causing Offence to Muslims After Meeting in Belfast

First Minister Peter Robinson has publicly apologised for offence caused to Muslims following comments he made in defence of a firebrand pastor who denounced Islam as “satanic”.

Speaking outside the Islamic Centre in Belfast following a meeting with Muslim leaders, Mr Robinson said he had made a “face-to-face, man-to-man” apology…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Spanish Food Giant Ebro Buys 52% of Garofalo Premium Pasta

Sparks outcry on foreign encroachment on Italian food brands

(ANSA) — Rome, June 4 — Italian premium pasta maker Pastificio Lucio Garofalo announced Wednesday it signed a preliminary agreement to sell a majority 52% stake to the listed, Spanish multinational Ebro Foods for a total investment of 62 million euros.

Ebro Foods is active in the rice, pasta, and condiment sectors, and quoted on the Madrid stock exchange. Garofalo called Ebro Foods an industrial partner with a solid background with which to grow on the basis of a common vision that will “preserve the identity of the company and the product, which owe their distinctive and differentiating traits to the leadership, the workers, as well as the production site”.

News of the deal sparked immediate outcry from Italian agrifood association Coldiretti as the latest in a growing tide of encroachment on Italian food producers. “With the sale of Garofalo pasta, the Spanish have exceeded 10 billion euros worth of historic Italian agrifood brands that have passed into foreigners’ hands since the beginning of the (financial) crisis,” said Coldiretti President Roberto Moncalvo, speaking to roughly 10,000 farmers gathered at a meeting near Florence.

“We are facing an escalation of the Spanish presence in Italy with the passage of 25% of Riso Scotti (Italian rice) into the hands of the same Spanish food multinational Ebro Food after Barcellona’s Gruppo Agroalimen rose to 75 % of ownership in Star (Italian boullion producer),” Moncalvo continued.

Moncalvi complained that Italy’s Fiorucci hams had also been bought by Spanish meats group Campofrio.. Garofalo pasta Chief Executive Massimo Menna countered that the Ebro takeover “represents value for the Italian System and should not be read as a ‘piece of Italy that is going away’“.

“Our company is healthy and strong, and this has put us in an optimal position to seize the best opportunities for growth,” Menna said.

“We chose Garofalo for the quality of its product, for the excellent results it has achieved over time and for its people who, in the last 15 years in particular, have enabled to give life to an extraordinary story and with whom we have found a perfect personal and professional understanding,” said Ebro Foods Chief Executive Antonio Hernandez Callejas. Pasta Garofalo has over 100 years of history. The Menna family have been shareholders since 1952, and gained control of the company in 1997.

Pasta Garofalo has concentrated on the premium segment since 2002, and has risen from a turnover of 30 million euros in 2002 to more than 134 million in 2013.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UK: Brutal: Retired East Lancs Teacher Held in Captivity and Beaten for 5 Months

A RETIRED teacher was kept a virtual prisoner for several months in a squalid bedsit and subjected to ‘degrading’ and ‘brutal’ abuse, a court heard.

Mohammed Ballal is now starting a 50-month jail sentence after bullying 63-year-old Gerald Kennedy into transferring ownership of his home to someone else and buying a £22,000 sports car..

Preston Crown Court heard that Mr Kennedy was the victim of regular assaults — including being throttled, punched and kicked between the legs, as Ballal treated him as his chauffeur and ‘lackey’.

His ordeal only ended when Mr Kennedy was able to escape from the bedsit and confide what had happened to a trusted friend, the court heard.

           — Hat tip: Egghead [Return to headlines]

UK: Cabinet Splits as Gove and May Point Finger Over Extremism in Birmingham Schools

Home Office and Education Department at loggerheads as Michael Gove and Theresa May point finger over failure to tackle Islamist infiltration of schools

A Cabinet split has emerged after Michael Gove blamed the Home Office for failing to combat the alleged ‘Trojan Horse’ plot by Islamist extremists to take control of schools in Birmingham…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: David Cameron’s Inaction Has Fuelled the Row Between Michael Gove and Theresa May Over Extremism in Schools

by James Forsyth

The row between Michael Gove and Theresa May over how best to tackle Islamist extremism in schools is typical of how tense things get between these two whenever the subject of Islamist extremism arises. Gove wants to wage intellectual war on Islamist extremism, taking on the argument wherever it raises its head. May, heavily influenced by the civil servant Charles Farr, who is very much part of her circle, thinks that a distinction has to be drawn between extremism and violent extremism…

[Reader comment by Martin Adamson on 4 June 2014.]

Gove is in the right on this — the distinction between “violent” and “non-violent” extremism is an entirely bogus one that does nothing but serve the interests of the islamists. It is a good-cop bad-cop tactic invented with the sole purpose of lulling gullible western liberals into a false sense of security. Britain has allowed itself to become the Islamist world’s safe haven where active front-line Islamist armies of Nigeria, Mali, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan, Thailand etc can be financed, armed, recruited, rested, healed and ideologically supported. We are a vital link in the Islamists’ chain of financing through crime, creating false identities, intelligence operations, ideological justification, propaganda production/distribution, logistics and other behind the front lines general staff functions. If we have seen no large scale attacks on our own soil since the 7 July bombings, it is not because we are not targets, but because this British base has become too valuable to compromise by foolish small scale actions.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Education Experts Voice Fury Over Ofsted’s ‘Trojan Horse’ Schools Inquiry

Sir Tim Brighouse leads attack on watchdog’s investigations into claims that conservative Muslims infiltrated Birmingham schools

An ideology “at odds with traditional British values” has taken hold at the schools inspectorate Ofsted, a group of leading educationalists and Muslim leaders have warned.

Led by Sir Tim Brighouse, a former chief education officer in Birmingham, the 20 experts — unhappy at the way Ofsted has conducted inspections into schools allegedly infiltrated by conservative Muslims — say in a letter to the Guardian that it is at risk of compromising political independence by producing “tarnished reports”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Five Things You Need to Know About Theresa May’s Row With Michael Gove

By Toby Young

1. Theresa May is desperate to be the next leader of the Conservative Party. She knows that her best chance of achieving this will be if Labour wins the next general election and David Cameron resigns. In that scenario, she’ll have no serious rivals, a point underlined by yesterday’s poll in ConservativeHome showing her as the clear front runner. That explains why she has absolutely no qualms about aggressively briefing against Michael Gove this morning in spite of the fact that it torpedoed Downing Street’s hopes of getting some good PR from today’s Queen’s Speech and comes on the eve of a critical by-election…

[Reader comment by Martin Adamson on 4 June 2014.]

All we need to know is that the single most important role that any State has — that of defending the borders of the nation against its enemies — has become a battleground between the various factions of pygmies, midgets, hobbits and dwarves that make up our ruling classes.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Governors Banned From School After £900k Deficit Revealed

Interim executive board bars entire governing board from Al-Hijrah School in Bordesley Green after revealing deficit of nearly £900,000

The entire governing board of a Birmingham school has been BANNED from its premises as it was revealed the school was facing a £900,000 deficit. The interim executive board (IEB) at Al-Hijrah School has issued legal letters to the former chair of governors and all other former governors barring them from the school site with immediate effect.

It is understood the letters warn that breaching the ban could be classed as a criminal offence under Section 547 of the Education Act, 1996, and could lead to enforcement action.

A statement from the IEB, issued through the city council, said: “The IEB has three times in recent days tried to go about its lawful business but has been turned away each time by the school. The refusal of the previous governing body is unprecedented.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Husband Jailed for Life Over Rania Alayed Murder

Police have yet to find the body of 25-year-old after Ahmed al-Khatib lured her to her death and then tried to convince family she was alive

A man who lured his wife to her death and then wore her clothing to convince her family and friends she was alive has been jailed for a minimum of 20 years.

Ahmed al-Khatib put on her jeans and headscarf and then carried her corpse in a suitcase less than a hour after she dropped their children off at his brother’s flat in Salford, Greater Manchester, on 7 June last year…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: PM Intervenes in Gove-May Dispute

David Cameron is intervening directly in a dispute between senior Tory Cabinet ministers over the handling of Islamist extremism in schools. A Downing Street source said the Prime Minister was “keen to establish the facts” of the apparent spat between Home Secretary Theresa May and Education Secretary Michael Gove…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Theresa May’s Letter to Michael Gove in Full

Home secretary writes to education secretary asking if it is true no one acted over earlier warnings on Birmingham, and why not

I am writing in response to your letter to the prime minister seeking approval to launch a public consultation on a voluntary code of practice for supplementary schools.

The publication of a code of practice for supplementary schools was an agreed Extremism Taskforce commitment and we agreed at the conclusion of the ETF’s work that the code should be voluntary. However, since the publication of the ETF report in December there have been serious allegations of extremism in some Birmingham schools and accusations about the inability of local and central government to tackle the problem effectively. In this context, I am not convinced that a voluntary code is sufficient and I believe it would be sensible to include the option of developing a mandatory code in your consultation document.

I understand and share your desire to include a clear and unambiguous definition of extremism and of Islamist extremism, and indeed I was pleased that we were able to agree the latter in the ETF report. It is important that having agreed these definitions we now stick to them in the code of practice to avoid any confusion…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Two Held Over Tower Hamlets Electoral Irregularities

Arrests part of investigations following mayoral and council polls in which independent mayor Lutfur Rahman beat Labour’s John Biggs

Police have arrested two people in connection with electoral irregularities in the east London borough of Tower Hamlets following dozens of complaints.

A 24-year-old man was taken into custody on Tuesday regarding allegations of postal vote fraud, and a 38-year-old man was arrested in May in connection with a false declaration on official nomination forms, a Met spokesman said on Wednesday …

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Libya’s New Prime Minister and Anti Islamist General Escape Assassination Attempts

A suicide bomb attack targeting the home of retired Libyan General Khalifa Hifter has left four people dead. Hifter has launched a military campaign against Islamist militias who he blames for the country’s instability.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Libya’s Renegade General Survives Assassination Attempt

BENGHAZI, Libya, June 4 (Xinhua) — Libya’s “coup” general Khalifa Haftar on Wednesday survives a suicide attack on his army camp in Benghazi, according to one air force commander.

The suicide attacker blew himself up at the gate of Haftar’s headquarter in Bomrem region some 60 kilometers southeast of Benghazi, killing three guards at the site, one of Haftar’s air force commanders Brigadier Saqr Jeroshi told Xinhua in an telephone interview.

“The guards saw a car rushing towards them and it exploded near the headquarter and caused massive damage.” Jeroshi said. Jeroshi added he got slightly injured and Haftar was not hurt. It was not immediately clear about the identities of the attacker…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Britain Welcomes Formation of New Palestinian Interim Gov’t

LONDON, June 3 (Xinhua) — British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Tuesday hailed the formation of a new interim technocratic government in Palestine.

On Monday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced the end of a seven-year-long political division between his Fatah party and the Islamic Hamas movement, forming a national unity government which was sworn in on Monday in the West Bank city of Ramallah…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

17 Killed, 53 Wounded in Bomb Attacks Across Iraq

BAGHDAD, June 4 (Xinhua) — A total of 17 people were killed and some 53 others wounded in separate bomb attacks across Iraq, including an overnight suicide bombing, police said on Wednesday.

One of the attacks took place in northern Iraq when two car bomb explosions at noon struck the city of Kirkuk, some 250 km north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, leaving eight people killed, among them two women and two children, and 14 others injured, a local police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Jordan Protests Over Israeli Measures on Aqsa Mosque

AMMAN, June 3 (Xinhua) — Jordan’s Ambassador to Israel Walid Obeidat submitted a letter to the Israeli Foreign Ministry on Tuesday protesting Israeli measures to prevent Muslims from entering Al Aqsa Mosque.…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Qatar 2022: Bribery and Corruption Hits the Middle East’s First World Cup

The Sunday Times reports a money scandal involving the World Cup in Qatar with former FIFA vice president Bin Hamman, from Qatar, as the main culprit. UEFA president Platini is also touched with French and German interests involved. A new investigation could lead to a new vote.

Doha (AsiaNews) — The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is at the centre of a scandal involving sports and finance. An investigation is currently underway that could see Qatar lose the right to host the cup and a new vote.

The complex story involving football’s highest officials, business interests and national pride began in 2010 when the small Arab nation won the right to host the tournament against a number of competitors.

The latter include the United States, England and Australia. In the first case, former President Bill Clinton who was the driving force behind the US bid, was so angry, informed sources said, that he caused damages in his hotel room in Switzerland.

England and Australia are instead connected to Rupert Murdoch, the Australian-born publishing magnate who owns the Sunday Times, which broke the story.

According to the newspaper, a plot was behind the 2022 World Cup, already controversial because of the expected high temperatures (50º centigrade) and poor labour conditions, including deaths, associated with the construction of stadiums and related infrastructure.

The paper’s accusations are based on e-mails, documents and wiretapping that show corruption, kickbacks and money going into the pockets of senior executives from FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), who picked the venue for the 2022 World Cup.

Former FIFA vice president Mohammed Bin Hammam, the Qatari member of the association and a former president of the Asian Football Confederation from 2002 to 2011, was allegedly behind the bribery. As a result of this he was kicked out and banned for life.

Supposedly, he doled out more than US$ 5 million in cash and gifts to influence officials before tournament voting, particularly from Asia and Africa, thereby ensuring a favourable vote for his country.

According to reports, the Qatari football official paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to the presidents of the federations and a super bribe of £720,000 to Jack Warner, former president of Conceal (North and Central American Confederation).

The serious allegations, which also touch Russia’s successful bid for 2018, are likely to send shockwaves throughout FIFA with England and Australia ready in the wings to meet the challenge of organising the event in case it is moved.

UEFA president Michel Platini, a former footballer for France and Juventus, has admitted holding a secret meeting in Switzerland with the disgraced football official Mohamed Bin Hammam, shortly before voting for Qatar.

At the working lunch, Mr Bin Hammam supposedly asked the UEFA president to stand against Sepp Blatter in the 2011 FIFA presidency, but Mr Platini refused.

However, the ties between France and Qatar, at least in sports, go beyond the Platini-Hamman meeting.

In 2012, state-owned Qatar Sports Investments bought Paris Saint-Germain, former French President Sarkozy’s favourite team.

Mr Platini’s son Laurent became the chief executive of Burrda, a Qatar owned sports company.

Recently, FIFA president Sepp Blatter (pictured) said that choosing the Arab country was a mistake because it is “too hot in summer” even though FIFA’s “executive committee with quite a big majority decided all the same”.

He also indicated that political pressure from France and Germany had played a part. In fact, “big French and German companies work in Qatar”. However, officials from the two nations rejected the accusations.

Doubts were raised about the choice of Qatar from the start given the Arab nation’s limited football history.

Bookmakers are now offering bets on the outcome of the investigation and on whether the World Cup 2022 will remain in Qatar.

FIFA said two days ago that a panel led by former US federal prosecutor Michael Garcia would issue a report in July into the allegations made by the Sunday Times.

Meanwhile, Qatar has threatened to take legal action, claiming the “right” to host the event for itself and the Middle East.

The country’s authorities are not particularly concerned about the scandal’s economic repercussions — Stadium construction might stop, not so urban train and other infrastructures — as opposed to its impact on the image of a country that is rapidly growing.

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

US, Turkey Embroiled in Scandal Over CNN ‘Spy’

Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan believes foreign-operating news and media services are serving non-Turkish interests. Photo by EPA/BGNES

A dispute broke between Washington and Ankara after it was revealed that CNN correspondent Ivan Watson had been harassed by Turkish police on the anniversary of Gezi protests.

US State Department officials dismissed Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan’s comments that Watson was “an agent” and wanted to “stir up trouble in Turkey”.

Department Spokesperson Marie Harf described his accusation as “ridiculous”.

The CNN “are nothing except for independent and non-biased media,” Harf was quoted by Hurriyet Daily News as saying.

She warned that developments in Turkey “have continued to raise” concerns and that Washintgon was “closely monitoring” official response to demonstrations held a year after the Gezi Park protests.

Over the weekend CNN International reported its correspondent Ivan Watson had been harassed by Turkish plainclothes police in Istanbul while speaking live in the eve of the Gezi Park anniversary.

Watson could be heard as saying to an anchor that he and his crew was “being detained right now”. Later he said police officers had demanded his press credentials and had sad it could have been “counterfeited”. The team was released in half an hour.

Prime Minister Erdogan lambasted at him by calling him a “CNN International lackey” and also by saying he was a proof “[CNN] have been caught red-handed”.

He also put into question the media’s independence and impartiality, calling its reporters “agents”.

This is not the first time Erdogan has recently embarked on attacks at foreign-based news services or web platforms.

Earlier this spring he vowed to “eradicate” Twitter and was harshly critical of YouTube and Facebook, suggesting the interests they served were dangerous to Turkey and arguing they could be used to incite espionage.

He even ordered a ban on Twitter and YouTube, with the latter finally being accessible this week after having been shut down for two months.

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

Yemeni Security Forces Kill 2 Al-Qaida Militants in Firefight

ADEN, Yemen, June 4 (Xinhua) — The Yemeni security forces clashed with suspected al-Qaida gunmen at a military checkpoint in the southeastern province of Hadramout on Wednesday, killing two terrorists and detaining four others, a government official told Xinhua…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

300 Pro-Russians Killed in East Ukraine in 24 Hours

(AGI) — Kiev, June 4 — In the course of the past 24 hours, over 300 pro-Russia militiamen have died and a further 500 were wounded in clashes with government troops in the eastern separatist regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. The news was reported by army spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov, who clarified that only two soldiers had been killed and 45 wounded in what is described as an “anti-terrorist” operation, adding that clashes are ongoing especially near Slavyansk and Krasni Liman.

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

Prompt Reorganization of Russian Army Due to NATO Activities

Due to enhanced activities of NATO near Russia’s western borders and the events in Ukraine, it has been decided to hold a prompt reorganization of the Russian Armed Forces in order to increase troop mobility in this and other strategic directions, Russian State Duma defense committee head Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov told Interfax-AVN on Tuesday.

“Due to the conflict in Ukraine and considerable NATO reinforcements on our country’s west, we are currently working on proposals related to reorganizing troops and army and fleet forces to increase their mobility,” Komoyedov said.

According to Komoyedov, it concerns enhancing military potential and troop mobility in all areas — space, ground and sea. “We think that now our forces should be ready to respond promptly to new threats and challenges all around our borders — from Kaliningrad to Kamchatka,” Komoyedov said.

The admiral did not specify which re-organization events related to enhancing army and fleet mobility it concerned.

As to bills related to improving army service, “the Duma defense committee currently is getting ready for the second reading of the bill to provide army draftees with a choice — to do one-year draft service or two years contract service,” he said.

This bill also stipulates cutting contract service for professionals from six to five years.

“These changes are related to the opportunity of contractors to enter the savings and mortgage system for housing for servicemen after five years of service, which is of crucial importance for contractors of private and non-commissioned officer corps,” Komoyedov said.

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

Ukraine Starts Mass Production of Armored Personnel Carriers

Ukraine will start mass production of Dozor armored personnel carriers for the National Guard, Verkhovna Rada-appointed acting President of Ukraine Turchynov said on Wednesday.

Turchynov reviewed on Wednesday heavy armored and special vehicles at the Chuguyev firing range in the eastern Kharkov region, which will be used by the Ukrainian army, including during Kiev’s punitive operation in the country’s east, the acting president’s press office reported.

The armor was also inspected by Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and commanders of the battalions involved in Kiev’s so-called “anti-terrorist operation” in the country’s east.

“The small armored personnel carrier Dozor is three times cheaper than the BTR-4E APC and has proved its efficiency in field conditions. Today this vehicle is awaited in the National Guard,” the press office quoted Turchynov as saying.

Military experts say it will take several months to put the Dozor APC into serial production. Poland earlier purchased a license from Ukraine to make these combat vehicles operational in the Polish army.

Turchynov, Avakov and battalion commanders are expected to visit the headquarters of Kiev’s military operation near the town of Slavyansk in the eastern Donetsk region on Wednesday, Interfax reports.

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

Ukrainian Army Resumed Shelling in Slavyansk

The Ukrainian army resumed shelling in Slavyansk and continued military confrontation on Tuesday evening, steadily attempting to lock in the city, self-defense leader told RIA Novosti.

“The situation is very difficult for us. The opponents are constantly using planes against us, 2-3 strike fighters at a time (changing the flights as they work with several airfields) and 6-7 combat helicopters. A squadron of Uragan rocket launchers is headed our way, and Grad rocket launchers already operated in Semenovka today.

The number of self-propelled and conventional howitzers above 122 mm is already well over fifty, I won’t even start to count the mortars. The opponent’s goal is to close the ring around Slavyansk once and for all,” Igor Strelkov, leader of the Slavyansk self-defense forces, told RIA Novosti.

Witnesses report explosions around the Semenovka village in the suburbs of Slavyansk. There are also shootouts between the independence and security forces at the Kramatorsk airport and the roadblock near the village of Kirovsk.

Self-defense headquarters reported end-of-the-day casualties: seven people killed, and around ten injured.

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

Afghanistan Protests Against US Deal to Free Taliban Prisoners

Afghanistan’s government protested against a U.S. deal to free five high-ranking Taliban militants in exchange for a U.S. soldier arguing the transfer of the men from a Guantanamo Bay jail to Qatar violated international law.

The five prisoners were flown to Qatar on Sunday as part of the agreement to release Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the only known U.S. prisoner of war in Afghanistan, held captive for five years. Bergdahl was flown out of Afghanistan to a military hospital in Germany on Sunday.

The prisoner swap has stoked anger in Afghanistan, where many view the deal as a further sign of a U.S. desire to disengage from Afghanistan as quickly as possible. Washington has mapped out a plan to fully withdraw all of its troops by the end of 2016.

“No government can transfer citizens of a country to a third country as prisoners,” the Afghan Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement issued late on Sunday.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who was excluded from the deal to avoid leaks according to the U.S. government, has not commented on the prisoner swap, although the foreign ministry statement was emailed from his media office.

Karzai, who is due to step down as leader later this year, has been fiercely critical of the U.S. administration in recent years, and the prisoner swap will only serve to deepen the distrust between the sides.

Under the terms of the deal cut by Qatari intermediaries, the five Taliban detainees were released from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they had been held since it opened in 2002, and flown to Qatar where they must stay for a year.

Senior officials at the Afghan intelligence agency say they believe the men will return to the battlefield and bolster the insurgency just as most foreign combat troops prepare to exit by the end of this year.

All five prisoners were classed as “high-risk” and “likely to pose a threat” by the Pentagon and held senior positions in the Taliban regime before it was topped by a U.S. led coalition in 2001.

At least two of them are suspected of committing war-crimes, including the murder of thousands of Afghan Shi’ites, according to leaked U.S. military cables.

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

Afghanistan: Bowe Bergdahl ‘Wanted to Renounce US Citizenship’

Fellow soldiers claim former US prisoner of war left note behind when he disappeared saying he no longer wanted to be an American citizen

Bowe Bergdahl declared that he wanted to renounce his US citizenship in a note that he left behind in his tent before disappearing “to start a new life”, according to former members of his army unit.

Some soldiers who served alongside him believe that he may also have walked off their remote outpost in eastern Afghanistan on previous occasions, possibly trying to contact the Taliban, and returned unharmed…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Another Girl ‘Raped and Hanged’ In India

And woman shot after resisting rape

(ANSA) — New Delhi, June 4 — A 15-year-old girl was raped and hanged Wednesday in the same northern Indian state where two young teen lower-caste cousins were found hanged aftre being raped last week, according to media reports.

The rape claim, made by the father in Uttar Pradesh state, has to be verified by an autopsy, they said.

In another northern state, Meghalaya, a 35-year-old mother of five was shot dead by secessionist militiamen Tuesday after resisting a rape attempt, media reported.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

‘Flexible’ US Ready to Meet India’s Defence Requirements

With India strengthening its defence ties with Israel, the US has decided to rebalance its ‘Asia-Pacific’ strategy in an attempt to play a ‘special’ role in the region. The political leadership in Washington is well aware of India’s position in Asia and knows that it is important to strengthen ties with the South Asian nation to gain political advantage in the coming days.

The recent change in the government in New Delhi has also forced the Barack Obama administration to readjust its policy towards India (as well as towards South Asia). According to sources close to the State Department, policy-makers in Washington have advised the US president to maintain ‘close’ ties with the recently-installed Narendra Modi government as it becomes increasingly difficult to ignore India. According to them, even if the international community ignores India politically, it cannot ignore the South Asian powerhouse economically because of its huge population who are the possible buyers of foreign commodities. As a result, they urged the US government to adopt ‘flexible’ strategies in order to meet the Indian defence needs. India’s relations with neighbouring Pakistan and China have also encouraged America to boost defence ties with New Delhi.

The official, who wants to remain anonymous, has said that he played a key role in Indo-US defence ties in the past. He told the Press Trust of India (PTI) that the Narendra Modi-administration would definitely try to implement the high-tech defence projects as soon as possible. According to him, the Obama administration should also be prepared to go an extra mile to help the India become self-reliant in defence research, development and production. “Those were projects that our industry would like to do with the Indian industry,” stressed the official. He also highlighted the sensitivity of the bilateral defence ties saying that these projects cover the entire range of defence system from high-tech information, command and control to reconnaissance and naval systems. As a result, according to him, the US officials will have to readjust its policies and to allow the Pentagon to develop and produce high-tech defence items jointly with India in the coming years. Otherwise, other competitors will capture the Indian market, the official told PTI. “If India would like to work with the US forces in developing those systems for both of the militaries to be deployed at the same time, the US should make those changes. The US would be flexible as it has been in the last three years, changing its practices, its policies, incentivising its industry, it can do in a way that is agreeable and comfortable to the Indian side,” he added.

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

Indian Jesuit Priest Kidnapped in Afghanistan , “A Life in Service of Marginalized”

Fr. Victor Edwin SJ , a native of Tamil Nadu like the victim, speaks to AsiaNews about Fr. Alexis Prem Kumar SJ and his work among the Sri Lankan refugees and the Dalits in South India. According to the Afghan police six armed men kidnapped the Jesuit, but no one has claimed responsibility, nor asked for ransom. The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS ) suspends operations in Afghanistan. The appeal of Fr. Alexis’ family.

Kabul ( AsiaNews) — “His entire life as a Jesuit was happily spent in the service of Jesus for the ‘other’ especially the disadvantaged and those deprived of human dignity”. This is how Fr Victor Edwin SJ , a doctoral student of Christian Islam relations at the renowned Jamia Islamia University, New Delhi, describes Fr. Alexis Prem Kumar SJ, the priest kidnapped in in the province of Herat Afghanistan June 2, to AsiaNews. There is still no news about the kidnap, no-one has claimed responsibility and no ransom has been demanded so far.

The deputy police chief of Herat, Mohammad Nadir Fahimi, that “six gunmen” had abducted Premkumar and may have taken him to Gulran district. He said authorities are working with “district elders” to try to mediate his release. “We are trying to get him to safety,” Herat’s Provincial Governor Fazelullah Wahidi was quoted as saying.

Fr. Alexis Prem Kumar is the director of the Afghan section of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) , an international Catholic NGO run by the Society of Jesus, which has suspended its activities in Afghanistan. Fr. Peter Balleis, SJ, director of the international NGO , said he was “deeply shocked by the kidnapping”, adding that “our prayers are with him, his family and his friends”.

Originally from Devakkottai (Sivaganga district, Tamil Nadu), Fr. Alexis Prem Kumar, 47, is the eldest of five children. His father Anthony, 77, his brother Albert Manohar and his sister Elizabeth have called for the intervention of the State and central governments. “He used to talk to us frequently over phone from there — says Anthony, a retired teacher — and always said that there was no problem for him though activities of militants were there. Let us all pray for his safe return”.

Ordained to the priesthood in 2000, Fr. Alexis spent seven years with the JRS in Tamil Nadu, working among the Sri Lankan refugees in the state. Fr. Victor Edwin, also from Tamil Nadu, told AsiaNews : “Fr Alexis ran for six years, the People’s Education and Action in Kodaikanal (Peak), a community center for the human rights of Paliyar refugee settlement”.

Fr. Edwin also recalls that “ in the village of Puthupur he led a campaign against the discrimination of dalits who were not allowed to fetch water from the village well. At Puthuputhur the news of his abduction shocked the dalit community which has planned to petition the government seeking efforts to rescue him”.

Fr. Alexis has been in Afghanistan for four years.

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

Russia Lifts Arms Embargo to Pakistan: Report

Russia has lifted its embargo on arms supplies to Pakistan and is holding talks on supplying Islamabad with combat helicopters, the head of state-owned Rostec, Sergei Chemezov, said Monday, the ITAR-TASS news agency reported.

“Such a decision has been taken. We are holding talks on supplying the helicopters,” Chemezov said, adding that the negotiations were about Russian Mi-35 Hind attack helicopters.

Russia has long been the largest supplier of arms to India, which is the world’s top arms buyer.

But Moscow’s move to supply Islamabad came as New Delhi is seeking to modernize its armed forces’ aging hardware and has recently chosen to buy arms from Israel, France, Britain and the United States.

Leading Russian defence commentator Pavel Felgenhauer said the lifting of the embargo that had been in force since the Soviet era marked a sea change in Russian policy on arms sales, which until now have been focused on India amid difficult relations between New Delhi and Islamabad.

“This is an important, key change in Russian policy in the region,” he told AFP.

“The sale of arms to Pakistan will abruptly worsen our relations with India, the main buyer of our arms… This risks dismantling our cooperation with India,” Felgenhauer said.

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

Hong Kong Remembers Tiananmen

Tens of thousands of people take part in a candlelight vigil at Hong Kong’s Victoria Park June 4, 2014, to mark the 25th anniversary of the military crackdown on the pro-democracy movement at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

New Zealand: Claim Drone Strike Victims Encountered Radical Islam at Christchurch Mosque

An Australian man who died in a US drone strike alongside a New Zealander was introduced to radical Islam at a Christchurch mosque, Australia’s ABC is reporting…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

New Zealand: Drone Victims ‘Radicalised’ At Mosque

Christchurch’s Muslim leaders say they are shocked and “disturbed” by claims two men killed in a drone strike in Yemen were introduced to radical Islam at their mosque.

Australian Christopher Havard, 27, and dual New Zealand-Australian national Daryl Jones were killed by a missile fired by a US drone in November…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Boko Haram Kill Villagers in Front of Church

(AGI) Abuja, June 4 — Boko Haram militants fired into a crowd of people in the northeast Nigerian village of Attagara killing a number of them, the BBC has reported. “They came in mass in military uniform with about 200 motorcycles… they said they came to rescue them… they should not run away,” local MP Peter Biye told the BBC’s Newsday programme. The area has become a Boko Haram stronghold after the army withdrew from its base at Chinene three months ago.

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

Boko Haram Attack Church Dressed as Nigeria Soldiers as Dozens Are Killed in Fresh Raids

Militants allied to al-Qaeda continue strikes as Nigeria’s military denies reports 15 senior officers court martialled for helping Islamist army

Christians shepherded into a church by armed men apparently for their safety died when those soldiers turned out to be Boko Haram fighters in disguise, who opened fire on the cowering crowd in their latest attack.

It was one of at least six different raids across northern Nigeria on Monday and Tuesday, when as many as 30 people died…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Dozens Killed by Boko Haram in Nigeria, Says BBC

Revenge attack destroys village that fought militant group

(ANSA) — Rome, June 4 — Dozens of villagers were killed in a series of fresh attacks by suspected Boko Haram militants in northeastern Nigeria, the BBC reported on its website Wednesday.

The villagers in the state of Borno were reportedly killed in revenge attacks where the community church and homes were destroyed, local MP Peter Biye told the BBC.

He added that he had warned the army that the area was at risk after troops stationed nearby were withdrawn three months ago, BBC reported.

Since 2009, Boko Haram has stepped up its violent attacks as it attempts to create an Islamic state in Nigeria.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy ‘Overtaken by Brazil in Manufacturing’

Confindustria says 100,000 factories shut in 2001-2011 period

(ANSA) — Rome, June 4 — Italy has been overtaken by Brazil and dropped from seventh to eighth place in its world manufacturing rankings after output fell by 25.5% in the 2000-2013 period, according to a report released Wednesday by the study centre of industrial employers’ confederation Confindustria. The report said that in the same period global manufacturing output increased 36% in volume terms. Confindustria said Italy was “running against the trend” and “doing worse where others are getting better” because of “domestic faults”.

The report said there had been a “large-scale erosion of the productive base” in Italy, with over 100,000 factories closing and almost a million jobs lost between 2001 and 2011.

It added that Italy, which is struggling to recover from its longest postwar recession, lost another 160,000 jobs and 20,000 firms in the sector in the 2011-2013 period.

While Italy dropped one place in Confindustria’s manufacturing rankings with respect to its 2013 report, the country has fallen from fifth place in six years, the report noted.

The report said many factors were behind Italy’s fall in the rankings, including a drop in domestic demand, difficulties for firms to obtain credit and increases in labour costs without productivity rises.

It added that European Union limitations, including “restrictive fiscal policies… certainly don’t help”. The report also said that the appreciation of the euro, especially with respect to the currencies of many emerging economies, held back exports.

The Confindustria manufacturing ranking is headed by China, followed by the United States, Japan, Germany, South Korea and India, with Brazil and Italy behind them.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Venezuela Demands US to Explain Its Role in Assassination Plan

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has alleged US involvement in a plot to oust his government and assassinate him. The South American leader said there are hundreds of emails that prove members of the State Department were part of the conspiracy.

Venezuela has opened an investigation into a supposed plot to overthrow the government and assassinate President Maduro, reports Venezuelan state news broadcaster TeleSur. Authorities have alleged the plot was hatched by members of the Venezuelan far right with the support of the US State Department.

“We will ask the State Department for an explanation of the evidence that implicates high-level functionaries in a plan to assassinate the president of the Bolivarian Republic,” said Maduro during his weekly radio show ‘En Contacto con Maduro’.

Maduro went on to say the investigation had revealed new information about the plan to oust the Venezuelan government. He alleged that the plot not only threatened his life, but also the foundations of the Venezuelan constitution.

“The evidence shows they were trying to find a way to assassinate the head of state and other leaders of the Bolivarian Revolution,” said Maduro.

As part of the investigation, the Venezuelan authorities gathered hundreds of emails from political figures. According to Maduro the emails are irrefutable proof of the conspiracy against Venezuela by the far right with the support of the State Department.

“All of the emails were gathered legally,” said Maduro, adding that more evidence would be revealed later this week.

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

UK: Whitehall Mole Sabotages Hundreds of Immigration Raids by Leaking Identities of Targets to Activists

A Whitehall mole has sabotaged hundreds of raids against immigrants working illegally in Britain by leaking sensitive government documents to activists, it was claimed last night.

Small businesses suspected of illicitly employing foreigners were tipped off after a radical protest group was covertly handed the hit-list. The Home Office launched a two-week crackdown — codenamed Operation Centurion — to target workplaces, including care homes, hotels and restaurants and construction sites that were believed to be employing illegal immigrants…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Women Would Have to Breed for Britain if Immigration is Curbed, Says Stella Creasy

Stopping immigration would leave British women having to have “a lot of children very quickly” to keep the NHS and economy afloat, says Stella Creasy. The Labour MP also calls Nigel Farage “deeply unpatriotic” and argues that his policies on Europe and immigration were “basically talking about managing the decline of Britain”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]