Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/14/2014

Topless feminist activists for the group Femen were arrested in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican today during a protest against the pope. The young ladies inserted crucifixes into their… ahem… nether orifices as part of their protest.

In other news, a jihad group in Sinai formerly known as Ansar Beit al Maqdis has declared allegiance to Caliph Abu Bakr al Baghdadi of the Islamic State and changed its name into “State of the Sinai belonging to Islamic State”.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Diana West, DS, Insubria, Phyllis Chesler, Takuan Seiyo, 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
» France’s GDP Up 0.3% in Q3, Above Expectations
» German Economy Returns to Growth in Q3, GDP Up 0.1%
» Baby’s Death Leads to Charges of Murder, Child Abuse, Incest
» For Florida State Football Player, A Hit-and-Run Becomes Traffic Tickets
» Islam Comes to the National Cathedral
» It’s Not Your Founding Fathers’ Republic Any More
Europe and the EU
» Enel: Starace: 3 Bids for Slovakia, But This is Not the End
» EU Greenlights Alitalia-Etihad Deal
» Italy ‘Complies With International Law’ On Hostages, Says FM
» Italy: Prosecutors Want Nine-Year Sentences in No-TAV Trial
» Italy: MPS Facing Tax Demand of Nearly 300 Mn Euros
» Italy: Bunga Bunga Hush Money Trial Opens for Berlusconi, Lavitola
» Italy: ‘Social Strike’ Protestors Scale Colosseum, Clashes in Milan
» Pope Orders Showers Built for St. Peter’s Homeless People
North Africa
» Libya: Government Calls on Embassies to Boost Security
Israel and the Palestinians
» Italian Parliament ‘To Discuss Recognition of Palestine’, FM
» No Restrictions for Muslims on Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif
» The Islamic State is Coming to Israel
Middle East
» 17-Year-Old Saudi Girl Wins Case Against Father After Being Tricked Into Marriage With 90-Year-Old
» ISIS: Sinai Jihadists Respond to Al Baghdadi and Change Name
» Moscow Says OSCE Observers Support Kiev
» Ukraine Introduces Passport Control Towards Occupied Regions
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Boko Haram Militants Take Chibok, Hong and Gombi
» Italy: Refugees Moved Out as More Violence Hits Migrant Center
» Italy: Rome Mayor Jeered Near Refugee Centre
» Operation Triton to Continue Rescuing Migrants, Italian FM
» The Big Money Behind the Push for an Immigration Overhaul
Culture Wars
» Italy: Milan Diocese Apologizes for Gender-in-Schools Letter
» Topless Femen Protestors Detained in St Peter’s Sq

France’s GDP Up 0.3% in Q3, Above Expectations

Analysts expected rise of 0.1%

(see related) (ANSA) — Rome, November 14 — France’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew 0.3% in the third quarter of 2014 with respect to the previous three months, national statistics office Insee said Friday. The data was better than analysts’ expectations of a rise of around 0.1% after France’s GDP dropped 0.1% in the previous quarter.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

German Economy Returns to Growth in Q3, GDP Up 0.1%

Increase in line with expectations

(ANSA) — Rome, November 14 — The German economy returned to positive growth in the third quarter of this year, with a 0.1% rise in gross domestic product with respect to the previous three months. The rise was in line with analysts’ expectations after the German economy posted negative growth of 0.1% in the previous quarter.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Baby’s Death Leads to Charges of Murder, Child Abuse, Incest

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — A man and his daughter are being held on charges murder, cruelty to children and cruelty to a physically disabled person, after the body of a 15-month-old girl was brought to a Georgia hospital Tuesday, reports CBS affiliate WGCL.

Police said Calvin Mcintosh, 44, brought his unresponsive daughter, Alcenti, to Northside Hospital in Sandy Springs, Ga., Tuesday. She was declared dead on arrival and police were called.

Due to Alcenti’s physical appearance, it was quickly determined by medical personnel that her death was most likely due to neglect and abuse, according to police.

Officers went to the Extended Stay hotel where Mcintosh said he lived and found three other children, ages 5, 3 and 3. They were severely malnourished and were in need of medical attention, police said.

Also in the room was Mcintosh’s 23-year-old daughter, and another woman, 21.

She was lying on the floor wrapped in blankets and was in desperate need of medical attention, police said. She weighed only 59 pounds.

Investigators said Calvin Mcintosh fathered two children with his daughter, and two children with the other woman, one of them being Alcenti.

Calvin Mcintosh ordered his daughter to deprive the other woman and the children of food if they were disobedient, police said.

The Gwinnett County Medical Examiner ruled starvation as the cause of death for 1-year-old Alcenti.

Police said they believe the 21-year-old victim was deprived of food for the past few months.

Investigators said they also discovered “copious amounts of literature and notes in reference to ritualistic behavior and the Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, an Islam-based cult which is known for being a sovereign group.”

[Return to headlines]

For Florida State Football Player, A Hit-and-Run Becomes Traffic Tickets

In the early-morning hours of Oct. 5, as Tallahassee was celebrating another big football victory by Florida State University, a starting cornerback on the team drove his car into the path of an oncoming vehicle driven by a teenager returning home from a job at the Olive Garden.

Both cars were totaled. But rather than remain at the scene as the law requires, the football player, P. J. Williams, left his wrecked vehicle in the street and fled into the darkness along with his two passengers, including Ronald Darby, the team’s other starting cornerback.

The Tallahassee police responded to the off-campus accident, eventually reaching out to the Florida State University police and the university’s athletic department.

By the next day, it was as if the hit-and-run had never happened.

[Return to headlines]

Islam Comes to the National Cathedral

by Diana West

There are several ways to see the National Cathedral’s decision to host Islamic Friday prayers this week.

First, the facts. The service is the brainchild of the Rev. Canon Gina Campbell, the Episcopal cathedral’s director of liturgy, and South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool, a Muslim, who is delivering the sermon. Invitation-only guests include Masjid Muhammad of The Nation’s Mosque, representatives of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).

That’s some roster if playing “Spot the Muslim Brotherhood Front” is a hobby. Clearly, it’s not the professionals’ pursuit. On being quizzed by the Daily Caller, for example, cathedral spokesman Craig Stapert had no idea that two of the invited groups were unindicted co-conspirators in the landmark Holy Land Foundation Hamas-financing trial.

A kewpie doll to the reader who can pick out the unindicted co-conspirators in the cathedral’s guest list (ISNA and CAIR — right!). A cigar to anyone who knows the name of the man who is both ISNA president and ADAMS executive director (Mohamed Magid). And which group tops the “list of our organizations and the organizations of our friends” in the Muslim Brotherhood document explaining the “Civilization-Jihadist Process” underway in the U.S.?

Here’s another hint. The U.S. government entered this “Explanatory Memorandum” into evidence during the 2009 Holy Land Foundation trial. It explains that the organization’s secret “work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by (Westerners’) hands and by the hands of believers so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” The answer, of course, is ISNA.

Speaking of the Muslim Brotherhood, here’s a bonus question: Where did the first delegation of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to visit the U.S. make a beeline from the airport to visit? The residence of South Africa’s Ebrahim Rasool, reports South African news site City Press.

Conservative media, noting the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas links of the cathedral invitees, quickly dubbed the prayer service “Islamist,” which they define as a radical fringe separated from Islam’s vast mainstream by the “Islamist’s” adherence to sharia.

Is this correct? Not according to an array of polls that show that solid majorities of Muslim populations in the Islamic world (Pew) and in Europe (Gustav Stresemann Foundation) want to live under sharia. Even in the United States (Wenzel Strategies), 39 percent of Muslims wish to be judged by sharia, while one in eight believe parodies of Islam should be punishable by death. (Nine percent were undecided!)

Meanwhile, the Episcopal Church blindly, blithely thinks the cathedral’s Islamic service “demonstrates an appreciation of one another’s prayer tradition.”

In fact, it is against Islamic law for Muslims to hold Christianity or Judaism in the same regard the Episcopal Church is now showing Islam. Indeed, Islamic law “abrogates” (cancels) Christianity and Judaism as “previously revealed religions (that) were valid in their own eras,” but are no longer — not after the advent of Islam in the 7th century.

I am quoting above from “Reliance of the Traveller,” the authoritative Sunni law book, which, in explaining the “finality” of Islam (page 846), asserts that it is “unbelief (kufr) to hold that remnant cults now bearing the names of formerly valid religions, such as ‘Christianity’ or ‘Judaism,’ are acceptable to Allah” post-Mohammed. (“Unbelief,” meanwhile, is an act of Islamic apostasy and punishable by death.) Clearly, no devout Muslim can show “appreciation” for the “prayer tradition” of a “remnant cult.” The sharia textbook is definitive about this point, adding: “This is a matter over which there is no disagreement among Islamic scholars.”…

           — Hat tip: Diana West [Return to headlines]

It’s Not Your Founding Fathers’ Republic Any More

Presidents, Congresses, and courts are creating an elective despotism.

by Myron Magnet

How far have we distorted the Constitution that the Founders gave us, and how much does it matter? A phalanx of recent books warns that we have undermined our fundamental law so recklessly that Americans should worry that government of the people, by the people, and for the people really could perish from the earth. The tomes—Adam Freedman’s engaging The Naked Constitution, Mark R. Levin’s impassioned The Liberty Amendments, Richard A. Epstein’s masterful The Classical Liberal Constitution, and Philip K. Howard’s eloquent and levelheaded The Rule of Nobody (in order of publication)—look at the question from different angles and offer different fixes to it, but all agree that Americans need to take action right now.

Before we scramble, though, we had better understand just what happened. There’s no single villain. As these books show, all branches of government conspired over more than a century to turn the Constitution that the Framers wrote in 1787, plus the Bill of Rights that James Madison shepherded through the first Congress in 1789 and the Fourteenth Amendment ratified in 1868, into something their authors would neither recognize nor endorse…

           — Hat tip: DS [Return to headlines]

Enel: Starace: 3 Bids for Slovakia, But This is Not the End

Bids may be even more at the end of the process

(ANSA) — ROME — Enel has received at least three bids for all the assets for sale in Slovakia. This was announced by the company’s CEO Francesco Starace on the sidelines of a cultural happening entitled ‘The hidden treasure of Rome’. However, bids may be even more at the end of the process: “We’ve not finished collecting them, since there is no specific deadline”, the CEO pointed out.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

EU Greenlights Alitalia-Etihad Deal

Etihad invested 560mn for 49% of Italian carrier

(ANSA) — Brussels, November 14 — The European Commission on Friday green-lit a merger between United Arab Emirates carrier Etihad and troubled Italian airline Alitalia. The merger is authorized as long as the companies agree to free up some slots in favor of new operators on the Rome-Belgrade route, sources said. Etihad earlier this year invested 560 million euros for a 49% stake in Alitalia, which earlier this month gave the nod to former Ferrari chief Luca Cordero de Montezemolo to be its next president, with Etihad CEO James Hogan as vice president.

“The European Commission has OK’d Italy’s Alitalia operation,” said Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi.

“We said more than once that Italy had respected EU norms and parameters (on competition) to the letter,” he added.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy ‘Complies With International Law’ On Hostages, Says FM

In response to question about alleged ransom paid for Vallisa

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, NOVEMBER 13 — The Italian foreign minister said on Thursday that Italy “complies with and has always complied with international regulations” on the issue of its nationals taken hostage abroad. Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni was responding to a question on alleged ransom paid for the release in Libya of Marco Vallisa.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Prosecutors Want Nine-Year Sentences in No-TAV Trial

Four anarchists allegedly tore down fences, threw molotovs

(ANSA) — Turin, November 14 — Turin prosecutors on Friday requested nine and a half-year prison sentences for four defendants in a terrorism trial in connection with protests against a high-speed rail (TAV) line being built in Piedmont’s northern Susa Valley.

Charges against Claudio Alberto, Nicolò Blasi, Mattia Zanotti and Chiara Zenobi include terrorism for an attack on a TAV construction site near the town of Chiomonte on May 14 last year.

Police at the time said roughly 30 hooded vandals broke into the construction site under the cover of nightfall and tore down fences and blocked machinery.

In a nearby incident, several other activists confronted police with fireworks and Molotov cocktails.

The four defendants, alleged anarchists, have been in jail since December 9 last year. They stood by their actions during trial, sources said.

The incident “was an attack on the State, its choices and basic interests,” prosecutors argued. “We must evaluate actions not ideas. Like it or not…the TAV project is the economic and political choice of a democratic State”.

The high-speed rail line, which will eventually connect Turin to Lyon, has sparked years of protest from locals and other activists who denounce its high cost and damage to the environment.

France and Italy argue it will save money and help the environment in the long run by cutting down on automobile traffic.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: MPS Facing Tax Demand of Nearly 300 Mn Euros

Troubled bank facing fines over ‘evasive’ transactions

(ANSA) — Milan, November 14 — Italian tax authorities are asking troubled bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) for around 151 million euros of back taxes plus interest and sanctions, for a projected total of nearly 300 million euros, ANSA sources said Friday.

The demand comes following three separate audits of MPS transactions, one of which is still underway, and all of which involve an operation called “Chianti Classico” which took place between 2008-2012, when the bank was headed by former MPS chairman Giuseppe Mussari and former MPS general manager Antonio Vigni, both of whom were sentenced at the end of October to 3.5 years in prison for fraud.

Tax authorities requested clarification from MPS over operations that authorities claim “constitute, on the whole, evasive intentions”.

In late October, MPS failed significant stress tests by the European Central Bank, which caused a plunge in stock prices of the world’s oldest continuously operating bank.

The bank had received a 4.1-billion-euro bailout approved under former premier Mario Monti just before it was thrown into crisis when it emerged in January 2013 that a shady series of derivative and structured-finance deals had produced losses of 720 million euros.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Bunga Bunga Hush Money Trial Opens for Berlusconi, Lavitola

Media mogul, Avanti editor accused of bribing Tarantini

(ANSA) — Bari, November 14 — Trial opened Friday for Silvio Berlusconi and former Avanti newspaper editor Valter Lavitola on charges of bribing Bari businessman Gianpaolo Tarantini to lie to investigators probing the former premier’s so-called Bunga Bunga sex parties.

Neither defendant attended the hearing at the Bari court in which they are charged with pressuring Tarantini to perjure himself during a 2009 investigation into whether he provided escorts and attractive women for sex parties in the private home of the ex-premier and billionaire media magnate in 2008 and 2009.

Prosecutors argue Berlusconi used Lavitola to pay Tarantini 20,000 euros a month to keep quiet. He also allegedly put 500,000 euros in Tarantini’s name in a Uruguay account, and paid his legal expenses and rent on his flat in the tony Parioli neighborhood in Rome.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: ‘Social Strike’ Protestors Scale Colosseum, Clashes in Milan

Violence in Padua, Naples ring road blocked

(ANSA) — Rome, November 14 — There was violence in Milan and Padua on Friday and a group of demonstrators scaled the Colosseum in Rome, as thousands of people took to the streets of Italian cities as part of the so-called social strike protests. The social strike demonstrations are made up of disparate groups of protestors. The Rome protest features members of small unions protesting against the government’s Jobs Act labour reforms and budget measures, people demanding greater social housing, students, migrants and refugees.

However, there was also a big rally in Milan staged by Italy’s biggest trade union confederation CGIL, and its metalworkers’ arm FIOM, which is staging a strike in northern Italy.

Transport strikes in many parts of the country added to the disruption for the public. At the Colosseum a group of around 10 workers from a private firm climbed up restoration scaffolding and hung a banner, reading “No Jobs Act and privatization of public services”. A march in the capital started with eggs and fireworks being throw at the economy ministry. A number of police officers were injured in Padua during clashes outside the northern city’s university.

The violence took place when members of the march tried to make towards the local offices of Premier Matteo Renzi’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD).

In Milan, police fired teargas and charged at students who had tried to break a police cordon. The students responded by throwing bottles, flares and other objects.

In Naples, protestors blocked traffic on the southern city’s ring road.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Pope Orders Showers Built for St. Peter’s Homeless People

Papal almoner says showers for street folk ‘ABC of community’

(ANSA) — Vatican City, November 13 — Pope Francis has ordered a bathroom with three showers be made available for homeless people sleeping rough near St. Peter’s Square, a senior Vatican official said Thursday.

“We are not doing anything extraordinary because bathrooms and showers are the ABC of a community,” said Monsignor Konrad Krajewski, the Almoner of the pope responsible for charitable acts ordered personally by the Roman Catholic pontiff.

“In Rome all the public restrooms have been shut down and it would suffice to close your bathroom at home for two days to understand what it means to not be able to wash,” the Polish prelate said.

“I say this also to (Rome) Mayor Ignazio Marino, who is a doctor — where should these people go to relieve themselves?” “This is just helping in an intelligent way, when I speak to politicians they speak of so many things but they don’t touch on the real questions and meanwhile so much money is thrown away,” the monsignor said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Libya: Government Calls on Embassies to Boost Security

After attacks on missions Egypt, UAE, ‘we are powerless’

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, NOVEMBER 14 — The Libyan Foreign Ministry has condemned in a statement attacks on Thursday against the embassies of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates in Tripoli “situated out of the area controlled by the State, in the hands of terror groups”. The ministry therefore asked diplomatic missions to take all measures necessary to safeguard their security.

Both Egypt and the UAE have been repeatedly accused by pro-Islamist militias ruling Tripoli of taking part, or supporting logistically, in air raids on the capital and Benghazi, to back renegade general Haftar. The accusations and “media revelations” have always been sharply rejected by Egyptian authorities while government forces accuse for their part Qatar of having provided with a cargo flight weapons and provisions to armed group from Farj Libya (Libyan Dawn) from Tripoli and Misrata.

The two embassies — both close to Italy’s, the only one to remain open — have long been evacuated for security reasons. The blasts, which took place very early in the morning, caused mostly material damage outside the buildings and to cars parked in the area.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italian Parliament ‘To Discuss Recognition of Palestine’, FM

In response to question on French vote

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, NOVEMBER 13 — Italy’s foreign minister, Paolo Gentiloni, said on Thursday that the issue of recognition of the Palestinian state “should be dealt with at the right moment” and should serve to relaunch peace talks. The minister was responding to a question on the initiative by the French National Assembly to vote on a draft resolution to recognize Palestine as a state. After meeting with his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, Gentiloni noted that “we will discuss the matter in the Italian parliament”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

No Restrictions for Muslims on Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif

Kerry obtained engagement in reducing tension in Jerusalem

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV- For the first time in a while, no age limitations will be in place for Muslim worshippers attending Friday prayers at the Jerusalem holy site known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif and as Temple Mount to Jews.

Israeli police took the decision after an agreement Thursday in Amman between Premier Benyamin Netanyahu, US Secretary of State John Kerry and King Abdallah II.

A firm engagement to cut tension in Jerusalem was obtained by Kerry at the meeting with Netanyahu and the Jordanian king, Kerry told reporters.

Escalating tension in Jerusalem has alarmed Washington, which has been trying to halt it while putting Israeli and Palestinians around a negotiating table — though separately, for now.

On Thursday for the first time in Amman, Kerry met Netanyahu in a surprise visit to the Jordanian capital. And, most importantly, he met him with King Abdallah — who has control over an international trust in charge of the volatile area, which is the holiest site in Judaism and one of the three holiest sites in Islam — to discuss the situation in Jerusalem and the open contrast between the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and Israel, in a trilateral summit.

The Jordanian monarch immediately denounced “unilateral initiatives” by the Jewish State in the Holy City and stressed “the importance of the US role to restart peace talks based on a two-State solution and the initiative of Arab peace”.

Before the summit, the US diplomacy chief discussed the same issues with Abu Mazen, who reached Ramallah after a commemoration of Yasser Arafat’s 10-year death anniversary.

According to a number of observers, Amman appears at this time as the only place to re-start dialogue which up until yesterday was deemed impossible, given the reciprocal accusations launched by Netanyahu and Abu Mazen.

The Palestinian president, slammed “incursions” — denounced once again yesterday by the PLO’s Hanna Ashrawi — by right-wing nationalist settlers and new Israeli construction plans in East Jerusalem as vying to create a “religious war”.

While promising he will not change the status quo on Temple Mount — Which Jews can visit but where they cannot pray — Netanyahu denounced Abu Mazen for “inciting” violence, blaming him as morally responsible for attacks against Israelis.

Meanwhile incidents were reported Thursday amid spiraling tension: an 11-year-old Palestinian was wounded in clashes with the Israeli army after stones and firecrackers were hurled in the volatile eastern district of Issawyia.

The diplomatic scenario is also tense: the PNA is gearing up to present by the end of the month a resolution to the UN Security Council for the recognition of Palestine as a State within 1967 borders and for the end of Israeli occupation by 2016. The move has been criticized by the US and slammed by Israel as unilateral and going against a possible peace accord through direct talks.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

The Islamic State is Coming to Israel

The controversy over the Temple Mount, anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab policies is pushing many young Muslims around the world to embrace Isis and its “religious” war against Israel. Netanyahu is Isis’ “best ally”. We need a radical overhaul of Israeli politics: peace with the Palestinians, agreements with Arab countries, relations with Iran. From the great statesman and peace activist.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews / Gush Shalom) — IF ISIS had approached the borders of Israel this week, nobody in the country would have noticed. Israel was riveted to a court-room drama.

There, in the Jerusalem District Court, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert faced his erstwhile secretary, Shula Zaken. No one could take his or her eyes off them. It was the stuff soap operas are made of.

Shula was a 17-year old Jerusalem girl when she first met Ehud. He was a fledgling advocate, she was a new secretary in the same office.

Since then, for more than 40 years, Shula was the shadow of Ehud, a fiercely loyal secretary who followed her ambitious boss from station to station — mayor of Jerusalem, then Minister of Trade, and finally Prime Minister. She was his closest associate, his confidante, everything.

And then it all blew up. Olmert was accused of several big corruption affairs and was forced to resign. For years now he has been a fixture in the court rooms and TV court reports. Shula Zaken, now a 57-year old rather stout matron, is his co-defendant. She supported him through thick and thin, until in his testimony he put all the blame on her. Shula was sent to prison for 11 months. Ehud was (again) acquitted.

That was the turning point. It appeared that for years the devout secretary had recorded her boss’s private conversations with her. According to her, because she could not live without being able to listen to his voice at any time. Others saw in it as a kind of life insurance.

And indeed, this week, after Shula made a deal with the prosecution, the court listened to a whole stack of recordings, which may well send Olmert to prison for many years.

The drama between the two was irresistible. It headed the news, pushing almost everything else off the table. Few dealt with the real importance of the affair.

The recordings showed an all-pervading atmosphere of corruption at the highest level of government. Large bribes moved around as a matter of course. The relationship between the tycoons and the prime minister was so intimate, that the leader could request any tycoon by phone to transfer tens of thousands of dollars to his secretary to pay for his personal life in luxury and then for her silence.

The recordings do not show what the ultra-rich got in return. One can only guess.

It seems that the same symbiosis between top politicians and the “wealthy” (the American synonym for stinking rich) prevails in the US. In this respect, too, the similarity between the two countries is growing. We have indeed common values — the values of the tiny group of plutocrats who employ the top politicians in both countries.

While everybody stares at the court scenes, who is there to watch what is happening beyond our borders?

Some 2400 years ago, the Gauls were about to mount a night time surprise attack on Rome. The city was saved by the geese of a temple on Capitol Hill, which raised such a ruckus that the inhabitants woke up in time.

We have no temple and no geese to warn us, only some intelligence agencies with a consistent record of failure.

ISIS is far away. We have enemies galore, who are much nearer: Hamas, Mahmoud Abbas, “the Palestinians”, “the Arabs”, Hizbollah, and -somewhere beyond — “the Bomb” (a.k.a. Iran).

To my mind, none of these are an existential danger for us. ISIS is.

AS I have said before, ISIS (“the Islamic State”) poses no military danger. The present and former generals who shape Israel’s policy can only smile when this “danger” is mentioned. A few tens of thousands of lightly armed fighters against the huge Israeli military establishment? Ridiculous.

As indeed it is. In military terms.

Israelis, like Americans, are practical people. They don’t appreciate the power of ideas. They think like Stalin who, when warned of the Pope, asked: “How many divisions does he have?”

It is ideas that change the world. Like those of the legendary Moses. Of Jesus of Nazareth. Of Muhammad. Of Karl Marx. How many divisions did Lenin have, when he crossed Germany in the sealed train?

ISIS has an idea that can sweep the region: to do what Muhammad did, to restore the Caliphate which ruled from Spain to India, to wipe away the artificial borders that divide the Islamic world, to drive away the pitiful and corrupt Arab rulers, to destroy the infidels (including us).

For millions upon millions of young Muslims in their impotent and impoverished failed states, this is an idea that straightens their back and swells their breast.

Ideas cannot be detected by spy drones. They cannot be blown out of existence by heavy bombers. The American conviction that you can solve historical problems by bombing from the air is a primitive illusion.

It is an old Israeli complaint that whenever something goes wrong in our region, Israel is always blamed. Take Sabra and Shatila. As our then Chief of Staff exclaimed: “Goyim kill goyim and the Jews are blamed.”

Once more. ISIS has nothing to do with us. It is a purely Islamic affair. Yet many people blame Israel.

However, this time the blame is not without reason. Israel considers itself an island in the region, the famous “villa in the jungle”. But that is wishful thinking. Israel is located in the middle of the region, and whether we accept it or not, everything that we do or do not do has a huge impact on all the countries around us.

ISIS’ astonishing successes are a direct outcome of the general frustration and humiliation felt by a new Arab generation faced with our military superiority. The oppression of the Palestinians is felt by everyone in the Arab world.

(Yesterday I happened to see on TV an old Saudi movie about a high-school student who was punished by her teacher for riding a bicycle. The punishment was a fine “for our Palestinian brothers”. The movie had absolutely nothing to do with Palestine.)

If Israel did not exist, ISIS would have had to invent it.

Indeed, somebody with a taste for conspiracy theories could well arrive at the conviction that Binyamin Netanyahu and his minions are secret ISIS agents. Is there any other reasonable explanation for their doings?

It is one of the main tenets of ISIS that the struggle against Israel is a religious war, at the center of which is the Noble Sanctuary in Jerusalem.

For months now, a group of Jewish zealots has been kicking up a storm in Jerusalem by advocating the building of the Third Jewish Temple on the sites of the two Islamic shrines — the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa mosque. This group is tolerated and even promoted by the police and the government, and makes news daily.

The Noble Sanctuary (or “Temple Mount”) is one of the most sensitive spots in the world. Who in his right mind would upset the status quo and allow Jews to pray there, turning the political conflict into a religious one, just as ISIS desires?

These days, violent protests in annexed East Jerusalem are daily occurrences. The government has just passed a law that allows stone-throwing Palestinian teenagers to be imprisoned for nine years. That’s not a typo: years, not months.

The recent Gaza war has stirred sentiments throughout the Arab world. The human and material losses suffered by the Palestinian population remain immense, as does the rage throughout the region. Who gains? ISIS.

And so forth. A constant stream of deeds and misdeeds designed to upset the Palestinians, all Arabs and the entire Muslim world. Food for ISIS propaganda.

Why, for God’s sake, are our politicians doing this? Because they are just politicians. Their sole interest is in winning the next elections, which may come sooner than the law requires. Keeping the Arabs down is popular. And the traditional contempt for all things Arab is blinding them to the serious dangers ahead.

ISIS may be the beginning of a new era in our region. A new era necessitates a re-evaluation of reality. Yesterday’s enemies may become today’s friends and tomorrow’s allies. And vice versa.

If ISIS is now the paramount existential danger for us, we must reassess our policies comprehensively.

Take the Arab Peace Initiative. For years now it has been lying around, like a discarded sandwich paper. It says that the entire Arab world is ready to recognize Israel and establish normal relations with it, in return for the end of the occupation and a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. Our government has not even responded. The occupation and the settlements are more important.

Does this make sense?

Peace with Palestine on the basis of the pan-Arab initiative would take much of the wind out of ISIS’ sails.

If ISIS is now our main enemy, yesteryear’s enemies become potential allies. Even the abominable Bashar al-Assad. Definitely Iran, Hizbollah and Hamas. Israel must reconsider its attitude to all of them.

When the Mongol invasion destroyed Iraq in 1260 and threatened the entire Arab world, the Crusader state opened its gates and let the Muslim army pass through it to march to Ain Jalut in the valley of Jezreel, where they crushed the Mongols in a battle which changed history.

Only an Israel that makes peace with Palestine can join a new regional alignment to face ISIS, before it engulfs the entire region. This is a matter of survival.

A great Israeli statesman would recognize the historic challenge and the historic opportunity — and seize it.

Unfortunately, there is no great Israeli statesman in sight. Only the little Netanyahus, who are now riveted to the story of Ehud and Shula.

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

17-Year-Old Saudi Girl Wins Case Against Father After Being Tricked Into Marriage With 90-Year-Old

by Phyllis Chesler

A Saudi teenager, told she would marry a handsome young man whom she had been allowed to meet, was shocked when she discovered that her father had tricked her and that her groom was a man in his nineties. She is 17-years old.

Amazingly, the girl bolted and called the police. Headlines, and a social media campaign, condemned her father, accusing him of “selling his daughter to an old man.” A court just ruled the marriage “null and void.”

This news is both depressing and inspiring. Depressing because fathers are still arranging inappropriate matches for their daughters and sentencing them to a lifetime of misery. Depressing because, according to Sharia law, in the case of a divorce, custody belongs to fathers, not mothers. This girl was living with her father whose authority is traditionally considered supreme. She was, or so it seems, a child of divorce.

But the news is very inspiring because the girl actually fled her father’s choice (which is unheard of), other Saudis supported her on the internet, and a court upheld her right not to be duped in this way.

This case follows another similar case in which a fifteen-year old Saudi girl “locked herself in her bedroom on her wedding night after being forced to marry a 90-year-old Saudi man.” Social media condemned this arranged marriage, calling it “child trafficking and prostitution.” The elderly man said he paid 10,767 pounds for her—and later insisted that both the bride and her parents had set out to “swindle him.”

One must understand that the “selling” of girls into marriage is not seen as barbaric. To the contrary, it is viewed as taking care of one’s daughter, protecting her reputation, ensuring that an (under-valued, useless, potentially dangerous) daughter is fed, clothed, and housed and not at her father’s expense. In poverty-stricken, illiterate countries and cultures, marriage is a woman’s only dignified and viable alternative other than prostitution.

           — Hat tip: Phyllis Chesler [Return to headlines]

ISIS: Sinai Jihadists Respond to Al Baghdadi and Change Name

Audio message by ‘caliph’ amid escalating tension in Egypt

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO — The jihadist group active in northern Sinai, Ansar Beit al Maqdis, which had recently pledged allegiance to ISIS, announced via Twitter it has changed its name into “State of the Sinai belonging to Islamic State”, responding to an audio message attributed to the leader of ISIS Abu Bakr al Baghdadi released on Thursday.

In the message, Baghdadi allegedly “accepted” the alliance with jihadists in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Libya and Algeria.

Ansar Beit al Maqdis is constantly forced to change its Twitter account to avoid the “suspension” by social networks.

A wave of attacks of different intensity, at times targeting the armed forces, has intensified in northern Sinai, as well as in other parts of the country, over the past few months.

On Thursday, a low-intensity device exploded in a subway car in Cairo, wounding 21 people, mostly over injuries caused by those fleeing in panic.

The previous night, a Navy cutter exchanged gunfire with four boats some 40 miles off the coast, between the ports of Damietta and Port Said.

Five sailors were injured while another eight are missing at sea. The boats of assailants were sunk, also thanks to air raids, and 32 people were arrested.

Forty others were arrested yesterday in Ezbet el Borg, near Damietta, and questioned.

According to a high-ranking military source quoted by newspaper El Masri el Youm, among those arrested were “foreigners who could be members of the Islamic State”.

Some observers, however, are calling for caution. That part of the sea is at the center of drug and human trafficking rings, which could be behind the gunfire. But all eyes are on Ansar Beit al Maqdis, the group blamed for several attacks against the army in northern Sinai.

The operation to cleanse the Sinai was widened after a deadly attack on October 24, in which at least 30 soldiers died, and every day dozens of arrests of “terrorists and criminals” are announced.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Moscow Says OSCE Observers Support Kiev

NATO chief says Russia staging ‘significant military build-up’

(ANSA) — Rome, November 14 — Moscow on Friday accused Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) observers in south-eastern Ukraine of “helping and supporting only one side in the conflict… the Kiev authorities”. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, meanwhile, said in an interview with Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera that NATO supports Ukrainian sovereignty and will continue to sustain that position. Stoltenberg said Russia is conducting a significant military build-up in eastern Ukraine and along the Ukrainian border, amassing tanks, armored cars, cannons, anti-aircraft batteries, and trucks.

“We’re convinced this conflict can’t have a military solution. We’re asking Russia to respect the Ukrainian border and not support separatists, because that could threaten the ceasefire,” Stoltenberg said.

The head of NATO, who took office last month, said that the agency has quadrupled its operations and patrolling activities over the last year, compared to Russia’s tripling of its military actions since 2013.

“We’ve reinforced our Response Force, which today is at its highest levels since the time of the Cold War, and is capable of intervening anywhere on short notice,” Stoltenberg said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Ukraine Introduces Passport Control Towards Occupied Regions

Record low for grivnia. EU sanctions to Russia an option

(ANSA) — KIEV — Ukraine has introduced passport control towards its eastern regions controlled by the pro-Russian separatists, official sources announced. All Ukrainian and foreign citizens will have to present their passports to enter and exit the areas under control of the rebels, according to a note issued by the Government office for border control. The measure aimes at isolating the territory after seven months of armed conflict has provoked the death of more than 4000 persons. The conflict in the South-East against the pro-Russian militants has crippled the Ukrainian economy, with the local currency, grivnia, reaching record low towards the US dollar — now exchanged for 13,95 grivnia, while one euro is now worth 17,41 grivnia. Meanwhile, the newly elected head of EU diplomacy, Federica Mogherini, reminds that sanctions against Russia remain an option for the EU, and that they will be once again analysed during the high level meeting of the EU ministers of foreign affairs set for November 17th.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Boko Haram Militants Take Chibok, Hong and Gombi

Terrorists kidnapped 276 Chibok schoolgirls in April

(ANSA) — Kano, November 14 — The Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram has taken control of the town of Chibok in northeastern Nigeria, Nigerian Senator Ali Ndume said Friday.

Boko Haram militants kidnapped 276 Chibok schoolgirls in April.

The group also seized control of Hong and Gombi, two towns in the state of Adamawa, after having been pushed out of the commercial center of Mubi, a city the militants had taken control of two weeks ago declaring it “the city of Islam”.

Boko Haram seeks to establish Nigeria as an Islamic state, and has in recent years been waging a violent war opposing Westernized education.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Refugees Moved Out as More Violence Hits Migrant Center

Refusal at bar sparks trouble

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 13 — Rome city authorities on Thursday started transferring some refugees from a migrant reception centre on the outskirts of Rome that has been at the centre of repeated violence this week.

Earlier in the day residents of the Tor Sapienza area threw bottles and stones at the centre, which mostly hosts minors.

The refugees responded by throwing objects from the windows. The latest violence was reportedly triggered by a bar’s refusal to allow a group of migrants to enter.

“Don’t come in here, this place is not for you,” they were allegedly told. The Catholic Community of Sant’Egidio, which works closely with migrants, responded by calling for an end to “the culture of violence” and urged Rome to maintain its open character “against every form of racism”.

However, Senator Maurizio Gasparri of the opposition center-right Forza Italia party blamed the government’s now-defunct Mare Nostrum migrant search and rescue programme for “dumping hundreds and hundreds of immigrants on our coasts and in our cities, clogging reception centres and making the situation unmanageable”. One woman who lives in the Tor Sapienza area said locals would only be satisfied when the facility was completely empty.

“It’ll only be a victory when they’ve taken them all away,” the woman said.

On Wednesday Rome prosecutors opened a probe into a violent attack on the Tor Sapienza migrant reception center on Tuesday in which two people were injured, including a police officer who was hospitalized with contusions. Some 80 enraged residents set cars and dumpsters on fire and threw stones and flares at police who stood guard throughout the night around the reception center. “Some 70-80 people, many of them with their faces covered and armed with sticks, attacked the center and our patrols with a clear intent to commit an assault, throwing blunt objects and flares at law enforcement and at the center itself,” police said in a statement. Tensions remained high throughout the day Wednesday in the eastern suburb and a migrant was attacked in the evening. The violence came after 400 people turned out to a public meeting Tuesday to call for more security after a local girl was harassed while walking her dog in broad daylight. Residents also complained of car thefts, the lack of lighting in the neighborhood park, and a rash of house break-ins, which residents ascribe to foreigners living in the area. These also include Romanians and Albanians who reside in low-income housing and Roma people who live in an area encampment. “We are exasperated, not because we are racists but because these people commit thefts and attacks. They are making our neighborhood unlivable,” one female resident said. “If no one will guarantee our safety and justice, we will have to provide it ourselves”. City authorities were swift to slam the episode of gang vigilantism. “We will not let citizens’ safety be endangered by a gang of violent extremists venting their fanaticism,” said Mayor Ignazio Marino.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Rome Mayor Jeered Near Refugee Centre

(AGI) Rome, Nov 14 — Mayor of Rome Ignazio Marino was jeered during a visit to the city’s Tor Sapienza district on Friday.

The area’s refugee centre has been the focus of protests and clashes fuelled by local residents over the last few days. Mr Marino said the city council would concentrate its efforts on ensuring that the area was kept respectable and safe, as befitted the spirit of welcome embodied by the city.

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

Operation Triton to Continue Rescuing Migrants, Italian FM

‘Obligation remains’ after Mare Nostrum replaced

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 13 — Italian foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni said on Thursday that the handover from the Italian search-and-rescue operation Mare Nostrum to the EU’s Operation Triton would not result in lessened attention to the issue of migrant deaths at sea. The minister noted that the change would simply result in a “a shared division of efforts and of repercussions”. An obligation to rescue those at sea remains in place and must continue to do so, he said, following criticism to the effect that Operation Triton would focus exclusively on patrolling the EU’s sea borders. Mare Nostrum was set up in October 2013 after almost 400 people perished off the coast of Sicily in two migrant boat disasters and resulted in the saving of some 150,000 lives over 12 months. It was replaced by Operation Triton as of November 1.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

The Big Money Behind the Push for an Immigration Overhaul

The calls started shortly after President Obama’s news conference on the day after the midterm elections. He had said he would go ahead with action on immigration before year’s end, in spite of warnings from Republicans that he could wreck relations with the new Congress they will control. White House officials were calling immigrant advocates to talk strategy and shore up their support.

The officials wanted to reassure them, several activists said, that the president, after delaying twice this year, was ready to take the kind of broad measures they had demanded to shield immigrants here illegally from deportation.

The White House calls — and the president’s decision itself — reflected the clout the immigrant movement has built up in recent years, as it grew from a cluster of scattered Washington lobbying groups into a national force.

A vital part of that expansion has involved money: major donations from some of the nation’s wealthiest liberal foundations, including the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Open Society Foundations of the financier George Soros, and the Atlantic Philanthropies. Over the last decade those donors have invested more than $300 million in immigrant organizations, including many fighting for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

The philanthropies helped the groups rebound after setbacks and financed the infrastructure of a network in constant motion, with marches, rallies, vigils, fasts, bus tours and voter drives. The donors maintained their support as the immigration issue became intensely partisan on Capitol Hill and the activists grew more militant, engaging in civil disobedience and brash confrontations with lawmakers and enforcement authorities.

Some opponents accuse the foundations of blatant partisanship…

           — Hat tip: Takuan Seiyo [Return to headlines]

Italy: Milan Diocese Apologizes for Gender-in-Schools Letter

After govt condemns it as ‘inopportune fruit of excessive zeal’

(ANSA) — Milan, November 13 — The Milan Catholic diocese on Thursday apologized for a letter asking religion teachers to report back on any schools with gay- or gender-related programs.

“The letter sent Saturday November 8…is formulated in an inappropriate way and we are sorry about that,” wrote Father Gian Battista Rota after teachers turned the letter over to the press.

An openly gay undersecretary in the cabinet of Premier Matteo Renzi earlier called the letter “inopportune”. “One could euphemistically call the letter inopportune, and it was probably the fruit of an excess of zeal and a lack of forethought,” said Reform Ministry Undersecretary Ivan Scalfarotto, a long-time promoter of LGBT rights.

The letter by Rota, prelate in charge of education, was made public when some teachers turned it over to La Repubblica newspaper.

The Milan diocese later confirmed the letter, while withdrawing it from its own site. “Religion teachers play an important role in a public school system that is and must remain secular,” Scalfarotto said.

“Turning them…into some kind of secret agent or snitch damages their dignity and harms a Church that so many — believers and non-believers — would like to see be welcoming and inclusive,” the undersecretary concluded. Also on Thursday, Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) chief Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco appeared to distance himself from the incident. “It seems extremely improbable and strange that a census of this kind could be carried out in schools,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Topless Femen Protestors Detained in St Peter’s Sq

Feminist group apparently demonstrating against Pope’s EP visit

(ANSA) — Vatican City, November 14 — Several topless Femen protestors were detained by police in St Peter’s Square on Friday. The protest seems to have been against Pope Francis’ visit to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on November 25.

The women had “the pope is not a politician” written on their breasts. The radical feminist Paris-based group is famous for a series of controversial topless protests against sex tourism, religious institutions, sexism, homophobia and other issues in recent years.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

6 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/14/2014

  1. Well done Femen (even if their tactics are in dubious taste). They have the guts and conviction many western “feminists” lack.

Comments are closed.