Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/16/2014

The Islamic State has released a video that appears to show the severed head of the American hostage Peter Kassig. Mr. Kassig, who converted to Islam after he was taken captive, was also known as Abdul-Rahman Kassig.

In other news, on November 30 the Swiss will vote in a referendum to decide whether their government will be required to repatriate all its gold reserves and return to a gold-based monetary policy.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Fjordman, Insubria, Jerry Gordon, JLH, 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
» Austria: GDP Per Person Declined But Life Quality is OK
» Recession-Battered Italy’s GDP Back to 2000 Level
» 4 Workers Die, 1 Hurt in Texas Chemical Plant Leak
» An Accusation of Abuse, Then Special Treatment for an N.F.L. Player
» Obama Calls Hostage’s Beheading by ISIS ‘Pure Evil’
Europe and the EU
» Activist Wounded as Spanish Navy Attacks Greenpeace Ship
» Allegations of Paedophilia and Murder Made Against UK MPs
» David Cameron ‘Horrified’ By Beheading of Peter Kassig
» Italy: CGIL: FIOM Blast Jobs Act Deal and Promise Action
» Italy’s First Female Astronaut Prepares for Soyuz Mission
» Italy: PD Party Won’t Dissolve City Council, Says Rome Mayor
» Italy: Nobel Peace Prize Summit to be Held in Rome
» Swiss Gold Referendum on November 30
» Twenty-Two EU Countries Sign Against Agriculture Budget Cuts
» EU Dissatisfied With Croatia’s Progress
» The Croats Prefer ‘Made in Croatia’ And German Products
Mediterranean Union
» Libyan Crisis Leads Italy’s Exchanges With Med to Drop
North Africa
» Algerian Firms Greenlighted to Invest Abroad
» Algeria: Economy Shakes Over Plummeting Oil Prices
» Egypt: CEO Alex Bank: Italian Entrepreneurs Must Wake Up
» Egyptian Army Kills 13 Jihadists in North Sinai
Israel and the Palestinians
» Israeli Man Stabbed in Jerusalem
Middle East
» Iran’s Former Chief Prosecutor Mortazavi Disbarred
» ISIS Beheads U. S. Muslim Convert Peter Kassig
» Islamic State Claims it Has Beheaded U.S. Hostage Kassig
» Italy to Send 4 Tornados for Recon in Iraq
» Peshmerga Women Ready to Fight in Kobane
» U.S. Believes ISIS Video Shows Beheaded American Hostage
» Germany Says No New Russia Sanctions on Agenda
» Vladimir Putin Tops Forbes’ Most Powerful People Ranking
Far East
» Alan Bollard on APEC, FTAAP, New Silk Road
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Somalia: Al Shabaab Militants Attack Presidential Palace
» Woman Suicide-Bomber Kills 8 in Nigeria
Latin America
» Erdogan’s Boast of Muslims Discovering America is Pure Hokum
» Immigrants Land in Sicily, Including Women and Children
» Italy: Over 700 Immigrants Rescued Off Coast of Sicily
» Italy: Tor Sapienza Mayor Should Get on With it, Says Alfano
» Iran and Venezuela Urge OPEC Members to Defend Oil Prices

Austria: GDP Per Person Declined But Life Quality is OK

Statistik Austria issued 30 well-being indicators

(ANSA) — TRIESTE — Economic growth does not always coincide with “progress and wealth”, according to Statistics Austria, the national statistics office in Vienna, which issued today a report entitled “Wie geht’s Oesterreich? “ (How is Austria doing?), based on 30 key indicators of life quality, well-being and environment.

The report showed that real GDP per person in Austria has decreased by 0.4% in 2013 over the previous year, whereas household consumption decreased even more (-0.6%), together with the per capita disposable income (-2.2%). However, the Austrians seem generally satisfied with their lives. On a scale of one to 10, the Austrians say they are generally very satisfied with their personal relationships, living environment (8.5), work environment (8.0) general life conditions (7.8), the financial situation of their household (7.0).

Less positive news in terms of natural environment. The land use grew by 19.2% between 2001 and 2012, whereas the population increased only by 4.8%, Statistik Austria reported. The energy consumption for transport increased by 48.8% until 2013, as well as the truck traffic on national roads (+ 65.2% until 2012).

PM10 emissions, however, fell by 13% between 1995 and 2012, and the total share of renewable energy rose to about 32% last year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Recession-Battered Italy’s GDP Back to 2000 Level

Italy’s GDP fell 0.1% in third quarter

(ANSA) — Rome, November 14 — The beleaguered Italian economy’s gross domestic product has plunged “to 2000 levels” after 13 straight quarters without managing any positive growth, Istat national statistics agency said Friday. Underlining the continued failure to emerge from business recession, Italy’s GDP edged down by 0.1% in the third quarter of 2014 with respect to the previous three months and by 0.4% compared to the same period in 2013, Istat said in its preliminary estimate. The economy posted flat growth in the first quarter of this year and GDP dropped 0.2% in the April-June period, Istat added.

Estimated GDP for all of 2014 assuming zero growth in the fourth quarter would be the equivalent of -0.3%, Istat continued.

According to Eurostat, Italy and Cyprus are the only countries to experience negative growth in the third quarter of 2014 with Cyprus’s GDP contracting by 0.4%.

GDP in the eurozone rose on average by 0.2% and in the 28-nation European Union by an average of 0.3%.

The eurozone is currently posting 0.8% annual growth, which is 1.3% in the EU, underlining how far Italy is lagging behind the rest of Europe, Eurostat added.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

4 Workers Die, 1 Hurt in Texas Chemical Plant Leak

(CNN) — Four workers were killed Saturday after a chemical leak at a DuPont plant in La Porte, Texas, on the eastern outskirts of Houston, plant manager Randall Clements said.

A fifth employee exposed to the chemical was hospitalized, but is expected to make a full recovery, Clements said.

The community around the DuPont plant was never at risk, the company said.

The cause of the leak is under investigation, Clements said.

The leaked chemical, methyl mercaptan, is used in insecticides and fungicides, as well as to odorize natural gas for safety purposes.

The leak happened at about 4 a.m. (5 a.m. ET), Clements said…

[Return to headlines]

An Accusation of Abuse, Then Special Treatment for an N.F.L. Player

The treatment of players involved in domestic violence cases has become an inflammatory issue for the National Football League this fall after a video emerged showing Ray Rice, at the time a Baltimore Ravens running back, knocking his fiancée unconscious. Amid heavy criticism, Commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged that his initial two-game suspension of Mr. Rice was insufficient and that the league had fallen short in its handling of domestic abuse.

Long before the Rice controversy, however, the case of Phillip Merling, formerly of the Miami Dolphins, served as an example of how N.F.L. players can receive lenient treatment not only from local law enforcement agencies but also from a league that has taken an inconsistent approach to domestic violence — despite a pledge in 2007 to strictly enforce its personal conduct policy.

Through interviews with Mr. Merling’s former fiancée, Kristen Lennon, whom he was charged with abusing in 2010, when he was a 6-foot-5, 305-pound defensive end for the Dolphins, and a review of documents obtained through public record requests, The New York Times found a pattern of continuing harassment by Mr. Merling — while he continued to play in the N.F.L.

[Return to headlines]

Obama Calls Hostage’s Beheading by ISIS ‘Pure Evil’

(CNN) — American aid worker and former soldier Peter Kassig was beheaded by ISIS terrorists, the White House confirmed Sunday, hours after a video claiming to show the victim surfaced online.

ISIS held Kassig as a hostage and in previous communications had threatened his life.

The video shows the aftermath of a beheading in which the victim is not clearly recognizable.

President Barack Obama confirmed the 26-year-old’s beheading, saying Kassig “was taken from us in an act of pure evil by a terrorist group that the world rightly associates with inhumanity.”

Kassig, who converted to Islam in captivity, also went by the name Abdul-Rahman Kassig…

[Return to headlines]

Activist Wounded as Spanish Navy Attacks Greenpeace Ship

(AGI) Rome, Nov 15 — An Italian activist of Greenpeace was wounded on Saturday morning as RIBs of the Spanish Navy attacked the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, which was protesting against the drilling ship Rowan Renaissance, which — on behalf of Spain’s oil company Repsol — will conduct drilling explorations off the coast of Lanzarote and Fuertevenura, in the Canary Islands archipelago. During the action, a 21 year-old Italian woman fell into the water and suffered a fracture and extensive cuts. She has been taken to hospital in Las Palmas.

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

Allegations of Paedophilia and Murder Made Against UK MPs

(AGI) London, Nov 16 — A new alleged paedophilia scandal has emerged in Great Britain, this time reportedly involving unheard-of deprivation and horror also allegedly involving the British ruling class. Scotland Yard is investigating three possible murders linked to a Westminster paedophile ring that was allegedly operating in the ‘70s and ‘80s when they met to rape and reputedly kill 10 to 12 year-old boys. One Conservative MP supposedly strangled a 12-year-old boy during the ‘80s in front of other MPs after they are said to have all raped the young victim.

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

David Cameron ‘Horrified’ By Beheading of Peter Kassig

(AGI) London, Nov 16 — British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted on Sunday “I’m horrified by the cold blooded murder” of Peter Kassig. “ISIL have again shown their depravity. My thoughts are with his family,” .

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

Italy: CGIL: FIOM Blast Jobs Act Deal and Promise Action

CGIL to stage general strike against labour reform, budget bill

(ANSA) — Milan, November 14 — Susanna Camusso, the leader of Italy’s biggest trade union confederation CGIL, on Friday blasted the agreement Premier Matteo Renzi’s executive reached with dissidents within his own centre-left Democratic Party (PD) over his Jobs Act labour reform bill. She also vowed that “the game is absolutely not over”. The GCIL is set to stage a national general strike against the Jobs Act, which features changes to the law on unfair dismissal, and the government’s 2015 budget bill, on December 5.

Tension eased within the PD on Thursday when the executive agreed to amend the changes in the Jobs Act to Article 18 of the 1970 Workers Statutes guaranteeing people unjustly sacked the right to their job back. Initially the Jobs Act stipulated this this would change for newly hired workers so that if a court finds they were unjustly sacked, they would get compensation, rather than being rehired. It said judges must order a firm to rehire a worker only in cases of discrimination. But the government has agreed to change the bill on the basis of a petition approved at a tense PD meeting in September, which states that people fired on the basis of groundless disciplinary complaints should also have the right to their jobs back. Camusso, however, is not satisfied. “It doesn’t seem to us that the mediation (within the PD) maintains the rights (of workers),” Camusso said.

She was echoed by Maurizio Landini, the leader of leftwing Italian metalworkers union FIOM, who blasted the internal PD agreement as a “mockery”. He also said the FIOM will keep protesting against the bill. “The mediation within the PD is a mockery that is only useful for MPs to hang on to their jobs,” said Landini, whose organization is part of CGIL. “We won’t stop. We’ll keep going all the way until they change their position,” he added at a protest rally in Milan. “We have the strength and intelligence to do so”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy’s First Female Astronaut Prepares for Soyuz Mission

(AGI) Baikonur (Kazakistan), Nov. 15 — “We have very little room inside the spaceship but I will bring some souvenirs my friends and family gave me. The launch does not scare me,” Italy’s first female astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti told AGI, adding that “it will be fun to float around”. Cristoforetti, from Italy’s space agency ASI and the European space agency ESA is currently at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan where she is completing the standard pre-launch quarantine before the next launch of the Soyuz TMA-15M to the International Space Station set for 21:01 (UTC) on November 23. The trip from earth to the ISS will last about six hours. Liftoff will take place from site 31 with three crew members on board the space craft: Soyuz Commander Anton Shkaplerov, from Russia with Samantha Cristoforetti and NASA astronaut Terry Virts as Flight Engineers. The trio assigned to Expedition 42, also called Futura, were flown in directly from Moscow (Star City) on Tuesday afternoon by Russian space agency Roscosmos. “These are very busy days because there are many things to check as we look at the cargo that has already been loaded and plan how to climb into the spacecraft though the hatch. Right now we are completing pre-launch quarantine are are in contact only with medical and management staff and others who follow this procedure. We will carry out a great number of experiments, about 200 in all, and ten will be conducted exclusively for ASI, “ Samantha said. The 37-year-old Italian Air Force captain was raised in Male’ and Bolzen, and studied in the United States, Munich and at the Academy of Pozzuoli in Naples.

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

Italy: PD Party Won’t Dissolve City Council, Says Rome Mayor

(AGI) Rome, Nov 16 — Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino denied that the Democratic Party (PD), to which he belongs, asked him to dissolve the city council and instate a new one. He was talking to Lucia Annunziata, the anchorwoman of TV channel Rai 3’s programme In Mezz’ora and, when pressed by the journalist on whether the PD would urge him to dissolve the council, the mayor replied that nobody would ask him to. However, he went on to express his intention to reallocate tasks and functions, thereby implying some sort of administrative reshuffle.

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

Italy: Nobel Peace Prize Summit to be Held in Rome

(AGI) Rome, Nov 16 — The yearly Nobel Peace Prize summit, originally planned for Cape Town to commemorate Nelson Mandela, will be held in Rome from Dec. 12 to 14. South African President Jacob Zuma submitted to pressure from China and refused the Dalai Lama a visa for the event, prompting other Nobel laureates to boycott its celebration in the South African capital. As well as the Dalai Lama, 22 other Nobel laureates will be in Rome for the summit, including Desmond Tutu, Shirin Ebadi, Leymah Gbowee, Tawakkul Karman, Mairead Maguire, Jose Ramos-Horta, David Trimble, Lech Walesa and Betty Williams.

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

Swiss Gold Referendum on November 30

One of the very few remaining proper democracies in the world will vote on bringing the Swiss Gold back to Switzerland on November 30.

This is an initiative that could only happen in Switzerland. An influential member of parliament, Luzi Stamm, representing the biggest Swiss party SVP (Swiss People’s Party) started this initiative with two other parliamentarians.

In order to have a national referendum on an issue in Switzerland, 100,000 supporting signatures are required. The ‘Swiss Gold Initiative’ already achieved this requirement in early 2013.

Not only will the referendum deal with gold repatriation but also seeks to stop all gold sales by the SNB (Swiss National Bank) and to require the SNB to hold 20% of its assets in gold.

The Swiss Parliament and the SNB are against the initiative since it would stop their ability to freely print money. Swiss monetary policy used to be the soundest in the world, but in recent years Switzerland has joined other countries in abandoning a policy of sound money. Switzerland had 2,600 tons of gold in 1999 which was a significant amount in relation to the size of the country. At that time it was decided to sell 50% of the holding. Most of this was sold at the low of the market just like in the UK.

But not only did Switzerland dispose of half of their gold over ten years ago, but a major part of their remaining gold has either been leased out or sold. And some of the gold , if it is still there, is stored in other countries. As most other central banks, the SNB refuses to carry out a proper and official audit of the Swiss gold. Until an audit is done there is no certainty that all of the gold is still there.

Most governments and central banks officially dislike gold because it reveals the decline in the value of paper money. Since 1913 when the Fed in the USA was founded, all major currencies, including the Swiss Franc, have lost between 97% and 99% of their value against gold…

           — Hat tip: JLH [Return to headlines]

Twenty-Two EU Countries Sign Against Agriculture Budget Cuts

Funds needed to ease effects of Russian ban on EU products

(ANSA) — BRUSSELS — Twenty-two EU Member states signed a joint declaration against the proposal of the European Commission to reduce the funds dedicated to agriculture by 448 million euros.

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain asked for these funds to be used for mitigating the effects of the Russian sanctions. EU sources referred that several other Member Countries share the views expressed in the Declaration although they did not sign.

The declaration has been attached to the letter written by the President of the EU Agriculture Council, Maurizio Martina, to the President of the EU Economic and Financial Affairs Council, Pier Carlo Padoan.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

EU Dissatisfied With Croatia’s Progress

Insufficient measures, reform process is too slow

(ANSA) — ZAGREB — The European Commission has renewed criticism of Croatian economic and financial policy, saying that the measures which were taken in recent months by the government to correct macroeconomic imbalances are “partial, limited and uneven in the different areas”.

Since February, only eight months after Croatia’s Eu accession, the country had been kept under observation for excessive deficits and then Brussels put forward a number of recommendations to be turned into economic policies, in order to reduce the national debt and expenses. According to the Commission’s report the progress which has been made is partial, slow and not systematic enough. The main concerns are related to the uncertain introduction of a tax on real estate since 2016, and the lack of measures to ensure that pensions and health system are stable. Among the obstacles to improving competitiveness of the Croatian economy are the lack of efficiency of public administration, the judicial system and corruption.

Brussels has viewed the labour reform very favourably, following the adoption in July of some changes aimed at improving flexibility, underlining that unemployment in August fell for the sixth consecutive month, reaching 17.5%. At the same time, however, the overall employment rate fell by 2.1%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

The Croats Prefer ‘Made in Croatia’ And German Products

Consumers love local food, high-tech & cars made in Germany

(ANSA) — TRIESTE — The most popular goods among Croatian consumers? Those which are “made in Croatia” or those coming from Germany, according to a recent market research conducted by the Croatian arm of the Swiss Icertias and reported by the local media in Zagreb.

As for the geographical preference in relation to products, consumers generally say they prefer items manufactured in Croatia (46.2%). In second place, those which are “made in Germany” (14.7%), followed by those made in Austria (4.7%) and in Italy (4.2%).

With regard to food industries, 76.8% of the sample of respondents (1,200 people over the age of 15), said they generally opt for foods coming from Croatia, 4.2% choose products imported from Germany and Italy (4%). In terms of food retail chains, the citizens of the 28th EU member country prefer shopping in Croatian supermarkets (26.8%).

In second place, supermarkets based in Germany (25.1%), followed by Italian chains (7.6%).

As for cars, the Croats seem to be fond of German models (64.2%), followed by the cars produced in France (9.1%), Japan (7.8%), Italy (2.4%) and Korea (1.5%). In terms of high-tech, Germany is again ranked first (32.4%), followed by “Made in Japan “ (16.4%) and by high-tech products coming from the US (8.2%). Finally, with respect to financial-banking and insurance sector, Germany is Croatia’s favourite country (18.9%), followed by Austria (14.2%), Croatia (12.3%) and Italy (4,9%).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Libyan Crisis Leads Italy’s Exchanges With Med to Drop

-5.8% at end 2014; 11% exports towards Mena area, Turkey

(ANSAmed) — NAPLES — Commercial exchanges between Italy and countries from the Mediterranean area at the end of 2013 were worth 54.8 billion euros, with a 5.8% drop expected at the end of this year, according to the fourth annual report on “Economic relations between Italy and the Mediterranean” published on Friday by with based in Naples.

Forecasts until 2016 see a further drop with Italy losing ground to become the fourth-largest trade partner with the Med area, after China, Germany and the US, with a total value of exchanges estimated at around 57 billion euros.

The report blames political instability in Libya as responsible for the expected drop. The year 2013 saw a 11.2% contraction from 2012 due to plunging oil imports from Libya, down 37.8% in 2013.

Data on the first half of 2014 confirmed a significant drop in trade exchanges, which are expected to go down 5.8% at the end of the year.

The Mediterranean area however keeps a strategic role for Italian trade: Italy’s exports were worth 390 billion euros over the past year and exports towards countries on the southern shores of the Mediterranean were worth 29 billion, with an additional 15 billion from exports towards the Gulf area, for a total of 43.8 billion euros. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) area plus Turkey cover 11.1% of Italy’s exports, more than exports towards the US (27 billion) and China (9.9 billion).

If the long-term trend is considered, moreover, Italian exports towards the Med area from 2001 through 2013 more than doubled, up 107.1%. Italy’s exports grew at a higher rate than those of the United States (+58,6%) and France (+53,8%) and were not far from Germany’s (+138,7%).

Forecasts for 2014 see Italian exports stable at -0.6% from 2013.

In particular, the southern Mediterranean area made up 7.3% of Italy’s foreign trade in 2013, significantly higher than Italy’s competitors — it was 2.9% for Germany and 1.7% for China.

This highlighted the importance of the Mediterranean area for Italian foreign trade, which is even more significant in southern Italy, or Mezzogiorno, where exchanges towards the southern Mediterranean are worth twice as much as in the rest of Italy, 14.6%.

This is also due to the fact that some southern regions are at the receiving end of pipelines: energy exchanges are worth 40.3% of the total, down however on 2012.

Some of these countries are essential for energy provisions: over 22% of Italian energy provisions come from this area, a percentage which is under 10% in France and Germany.

The impact of sweeping political changes over the past three years have affected growth in southern Med countries, and the study stressed that the average growth of their GDP, before the 2009 financial crisis and Arab Springs, was on average 5.5% annually — a growth down to today’s 2.3% in 2014 forecasts.

However, a recovery estimated at 3.6% in 2015 and 4% in 2016 is expected.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Algerian Firms Greenlighted to Invest Abroad

Previously only Sonatrach could

(ANSAmed) — ROME — An era has come to an end in Algeria, in which even the most profitable companies were prohibited from investing abroad.

Algerian firms desiring to go international — currently only Sonatrach is authorized to do so — will soon be able to, after a decision by the Council of Money and Credit (CMC), which passed a central bank directive now applicable to all publicly and privately owned companies. One of the effects will be to enable those linked to vital sectors of the economy to create interests abroad, which will in turn benefit the domestic market.

Restriction include that the investing company and its foreign activities must be in the same sector, preventing potentially risky ventures in fields that the companies do not have experience in. The Algerian company will also have to hold at least ten percent of the shareholder capital of the activity in which it invests, with caps set according to the individual sectors. Financial investment abroad will be restricted to available company funds, without making use of credit, to prevent banks from becoming indirect ‘shareholders’ in the initiative.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Algeria: Economy Shakes Over Plummeting Oil Prices

Negative trend might endanger plans, diversification needed

(ANSAmed) — ROME — The constant decrease in oil prices — which on Thursday saw the Brent fall below the 80 dollar threshold per barrel on international markets — is cause for major concern in Algeria, a country that has almost entirely banked on oil revenues over the past few decades to plan the future.

Oil prices are strongly influenced by many factors: political instability in producing countries — like Libya, which is however resuming extraction with a certain continuity — and oscillations in demand.

With demand contracting in China, the second-largest world economy with a weak growth rate after registering strong growth over the past 24 years, producing countries need to face unconventional production in the US.

The US cannot yet export oil extracted from shale fields, yet this production is cutting imports by satisfying domestic demand.

This is also why Algeria is forced to redesign its future over fears oil prices will continue to plummet over the next few months or years.

With the price of a barrel at 79,85 dollars, Algerian royalties must be lowered along with fiscal revenues, although Energy Minister Youcef Yousfi said the “falling prices have no impact on the national economy nor on the project of Sonatrach”, the powerful state energy company.

Yet, apart from the security showcased by Yousfi, what is happening on international markets makes the process of diversification of Algeria’s economy even more urgent while the country is having a hard time starting it given its vast oil reserves.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Egypt: CEO Alex Bank: Italian Entrepreneurs Must Wake Up

Vercelli, opportunities but Russians and Chinese could outdo us

(ANSAmed) — Naples, Nov 14 — Italian entrepreneurs “must wake up” because Egypt holds “fantastic development opportunities” but on the Italian side “there is still too much mistrust and if we don’t move fast Russians and Chinese who are already in the country will outdo us” said Roberto Vercelli, Ceo of AlexBank, Intesa San Paolo Group. The ceo of the Egyptian bank spoke on the margins of the Southern Italy Study and Research Center (SRM) conference on “Relations between Italy and the Mediterraean” telling ANSAmed that the “situation is improving in Egypt after the constitutional reform and the election of president Sisi. Ibrahim Mahlab’s government has initiated a series of interesting projects like the doubling of the Suez Canal and has also begun to review the subsidy policy which made petrol and elictricity prices exceedingly low and investiment in renewable energy not advantageous”. In this respect, the aeolian and soloar energy sectors are the ones which are most attractive to foreign investors: “I’ve been in Cairo three years and a half — said Vercelli, stressing the positive signals — and for the first time the bank is being contacted by Italian businessmen who want to understand how certain sectors are moving, in particular renewable energy and tourism. Last week I met one of the biggest Italian solar-panel producing firms because they intend to invest over 50 million euros in a solar power station close to Cairo”. According to Vercelli Italy “can contribute with its know how to sectors in which it has great experience and that here in Egypt are blooming like health, information-technology and more generally the development of small and medium enterprises”. The Srm 2014 report offers a study on the banking systems of Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. In particular, it emerges that Egypt with regard to market dimensions, degree of banking system, financialisation of the economy, access to banking services is still quite limited, whereas the financial structure of the Moroccan economic system is more developed in terms of markets and intermediaries who allow swifter access to banking services. On the other hand, the financial structure of the Tunisian economic system, presents a contrast between a weak market development and a satisfactory growth of the banking sector.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Egyptian Army Kills 13 Jihadists in North Sinai

(AGI) Cairo, Nov 16 — Egyptian armed forces killed at least 10 jihadist militants on Saturday night in North Sinai, said military spokesman General Mohamed Samir. Another 68 jihadists were arrested in army raids in the Nile delta.

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

Israeli Man Stabbed in Jerusalem

(AGI) Jerusalem, Nov 16 — Another Israeli man was stabbed in the back in Jerusalem and has been hospitalised. Police are searching for a young Arab, about 32 years old, who fled from the area. The incident happened near the Damascus Gate, the main entrance to the old city.

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

Iran’s Former Chief Prosecutor Mortazavi Disbarred

(AGI) Tehran, Nov 16 — Iran’s Supreme Court has disbarred and banned former chief prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi, accused of ordering the torture of three dissidents arrested during the June 2009 protests against the regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The protesters, Mohammad Kamrani, Amir Javadifaar and Mohsen Ruholamini, died in custody at the infamous Kahrizak jail, south of Teheran. The jail was closed in June 2009 on the orders of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameni. Mortazavi was suspended in 2010, following public outcry.

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

ISIS Beheads U. S. Muslim Convert Peter Kassig

(AGI) Rome, Nov 16 — Isis has beheaded U.S. hostage Peter Kassig. The extremist group released a video showing his murder in Syria. Mr Kassig, 26, was kidnapped on Oct 1 on his way to Deir Ezzoir, where he worked as an aid worker. He had previously been deployed as a soldier in Iraq in 2007. He had converted to Islam while held captive.

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

Islamic State Claims it Has Beheaded U.S. Hostage Kassig

(Reuters) — Islamic State militants fighting in Iraq and Syria claimed in a video posted online on Sunday that they had beheaded American hostage Peter Kassig.

The video did not show the beheading but showed a masked man standing with a decapitated head covered in blood lying at his feet. Speaking in English in a British accent, the man says: “This is Peter Edward Kassig, a U.S. citizen.”

Reuters could not immediately verify the authenticity of the footage, which appeared on a jihadist website and on Twitter feeds used by Islamic State.

Kassig, a 26-year-old from Indiana, is also known as Abdul-Rahman, a name he took following his conversion to Islam while in captivity.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italy to Send 4 Tornados for Recon in Iraq

By Tom Kington

ROME — Italy will send four Tornado aircraft to join coalition operations against the Islamic State in Iraq, a Defense Ministry spokesman said on Friday.

The aircraft, which will be based at Ahmed Al Jaber air base in Kuwait, will be used for reconnaissance missions only, he added.

In a letter sent to the Italian parliament, Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti said the aircraft would be accompanied by 135 support staff.

Pinotti said Italy was also dispatching to Iraq a number of Folgore 80mm anti-tank weapons previously used by the Italian Army.

In October, Italy said it would send a 767 tanker aircraft and two unarmed Predator drones to assist operations against fighters in Iraq, as well as 280 instructors.

Italy also sent a loaded C-130J to Baghdad, for shipment to Erbil, on Sept. 12. On board was a collection of arms worth €1.9 million (US $2.4 million), including 100 MG 42/59 machine guns and 100 12.7 Browning machine guns, plus munitions taken from Italian military stocks.

But there were also 2,000 RPG munitions and 400,000 machine gun rounds taken from a collection of arms and munitions seized in 1994 from a vessel allegedly defying a blockade to ship arms to Serbian fighters during the Balkan wars. —


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

Peshmerga Women Ready to Fight in Kobane

(AGI) Cairo, Nov. 13 — The only regiment of Kurdish Peshmerga women has completed training and is ready to fight Islamic State jihadists in Kobane. The news was reported in an interview with the regiment’s commander, Nahida Ahmed, published on the Kurdish news website “Rudaw”. Ahmed said the women will travel to Kobane as soon as the president of the Iraqi Kurdish autonomous region, Massod Barzani, gives the order. There are already dozens of women fighting in Kobane with the YPG. “We have trained for three months using all kinds of light and heavy weapons. The trainers were all men and expressed positive opinions, observing that in some cases the Peshmerga women did better than their male colleagues,” specified Ahmed. The officer spoke of how Peshmerga women have already fought in Iraq against Islamic State militias and lost a fighter in Kirkuk. “We would like to join the soldiers in Kobane to prove there is no difference between men and women.

There are both Sunni and Shia women in or regiment and they have come from all over the Kurdish region, from Khanaqin to Qandil”.

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

U.S. Believes ISIS Video Shows Beheaded American Hostage

The Islamic State released a video Sunday showing a black-clad executioner standing over the severed head of a man it identified as the American aid worker Peter Kassig.

Mr. Kassig, a former Army Ranger disappeared over a year ago at a checkpoint in northeastern Syria while delivering medical supplies.

In recent days, American intelligence agencies received strong indications that the Islamic State had killed Mr. Kassig. But without a body or other corroborating evidence, officials could not be certain.

But after the video was released and intelligence analysts were able to conduct an initial assessment, one senior American official said Sunday that the government was increasingly convinced that the video was authentic and that Mr. Kassig was dead.

[Return to headlines]

Germany Says No New Russia Sanctions on Agenda

(AGI) Berlin, Nov 16 — Germany’s Foreign Minister, Frank Walter Steinmeier, announced that on Monday no new sanctions will be adopted against Russia at the EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels. The pressure on Moscow is already heavy and new “punitive measures are not on the agenda”. “We will discuss about a list of Ukrainian separatists whose access to goods within the EU and freedom to travel in the EU will be limited,” said Minister Steinmeier during an interview to Welt am Sonntag.

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

Vladimir Putin Tops Forbes’ Most Powerful People Ranking

For the second year running, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been named the world’s most powerful person by a panel of Forbes editors, reports

Forbes says its list isn’t based on political influence, but an evaluation of “hard power” — the use of military and economic means to influence the behavior or interests of other political actors.

“We insist the people on our list wield the kind of power that shapes and bends the world, and moves people, markets, armies and minds,” the magazine wrote, explaining its choice.

Putin came out top among 17 other heads of state, presiding over a combined GDP of USD 48 trillion.

Second in the rankings comes US President Barack Obama (also for the second consecutive year), followed by Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Pope Francis. The first woman on the list, Angela Merkel, takes the fifth place in the ranking.

The top 10 list is completed by Janet Yellen, Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank, and the Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

As reasons for the decision to put Putin on top of the list, the editors cite Russia’s acquisition of the Crimean peninsula, management of the international standoff over Ukraine and a USD 400 B gas pipeline deal signed with China in May.

The business bi-weekly painted Russia under Putin’s rule in less than flattering terms, saying the country “looks more and more like an energy-rich, nuclear-tipped rogue state with an undisputed, unpredictable and unaccountable head unconstrained by world opinion in pursuit of its goals.”

Putin also won the award last year, after successfully managing to broker a deal to rid Syria of its chemical weapons.

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

Alan Bollard on APEC, FTAAP, New Silk Road

(People’s Daily Online —

(People’s Daily Online) — Beijing, November 14 — The APEC events are taking place in Beijing. People’s Daily Online spoke to Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat Dr. Alan Bollard about China’s APEC Chairmanship, the proposed APEC-wide free trade initiative FTAAP and China’s New Silk Road.

Before heading the Singapore-based APEC Secretariat, Dr. Bollard served as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand as well as the nation’s Treasury Secretary. Host: As you know, China has assumed the chairmanship of APEC 2014. Then, what difference does it make? What implications does China’s chairmanship have for China, the other APEC economies and the rest of the world? Bollard: China is hosting APEC this year, and it’s been a very busy, very active year with a number of important initiatives for boosting trade, investment and sustainable growth agreed and more still to come. It’s been a year when APEC has been invigorated. Trade ministers from the region are meeting in Beijing, and they will sign off on more initiatives to strengthen our economies, job creation and wages, and those will all go to the economic leader’s meeting for them to be announced. It’s been a year when we had a lot of meetings and a record number of ministerial meetings. They’ve all been organized very well and very thoroughly.

We still have more to do, but I am hopeful that we will deliver policies that will specifically address infrastructure investment and connectivity gaps to ensure that people and goods can move around the Asia-Pacific more cheaply and easily, for example. Within some of policies being worked out, China has been quite innovative in terms of looking for new drivers for growth. We know that, in the past, APEC growth was driven by strong trade growth. Since the global financial crisis, trade growth has slowed down so we’re looking for new growth drivers in the region.

Host: Let’s talk about the FTAAP and the trade landscape in the Asia-Pacific. You know, the FTAAP has been talked about for many years, but has not progressed as fast as some regional FTAs, such as the US-led TPP and the ASEAN-led RCEP. So, based on your inside knowledge and expertise, the proposed FTAAP, TPP and RCEP, which one do you think will be the future? Bollard: Well, I think that depends on how far you look. I know that China is doing a lot of work, looking at the FTAAP. FTAAP has been cited as a possibility for some years, but really at the moment it’s only a vision, and we want to work out what it might actually mean. We know that it’s a long-term objective. It won’t suddenly reach FTAAP. But we do see that as being the big goal out into the future.

China this year would like to bring FTAAP to our attention, and probably agree to work on a study that will help us understand what it means; when we might achieve it; how we might achieve it; and what paths would be followed to get there; could this be the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), or a different stepping stone. It’s still a work in progress.

Host: But for the benefits of the entire Asia-Pacific region, in your opinion, which trade pact should the 21 APEC economies really engage in, regardless of any political factors? Bollard: Well, they have all seen it. They said in the past that we are moving towards FTAAP. That’s already been said. But we don’t know enough about what that means yet, and China wants to clarify all that. At the moment, the only negotiations are RCEP and TPP. Indeed, we cannot be sure about what those mean, because it’s still too early to know what’s in the material.

Maybe TPP will be concluded this year, but it’s still not secure.

Host: Just as you said, the FTAAP is certainly still a vision, but do you think it’s feasible? Bollard: Yes, but it will take some time, and it will take a lot of commitment from leaders for us to get there. So, I think it is achievable, but it will be somewhere in the future. What is quite possible is that TPP and RCEP will both need to be concluded first.

Host: Alright, let’s move on to the topic about China’s New Silk Road strategy. As you know, Chinese President Xi Jinping has proposed a so-called “One Belt and One Road” initiative, which is meant to strengthen cooperation and economic ties between China and its neighboring countries. So, what’re your thoughts on this initiative? Bollard: I think that’s very much in line with APEC’s initiatives for connectivity, which means physically connecting our trade routes, and addressing more complex structural barriers to make it easier for goods, services and people to get across borders. I expect it will make use of some APEC trade facilitation measures like the introduction of electronic forms and customs single windows that reduce red tape at borders so that those sorts of initiatives can happen. It isn’t an APEC initiative; it’s a Chinese government’s initiative. But it’s very much in line with what we are trying to do.

Host: So, what opportunities do you think the Silk Road Economic Belt will bring to China and the other APEC economies? Bollard: At the moment, most trade opportunities are around the Pacific Rim, but when you start recovering and growing again, there will be a strong demand for the export of merchandise and other goods from East Asia. At the moment, most of that goes via the Malacca Straits, between Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

But people are looking for new possible trade routes and if those across China can be competitive, then there will be a lot of demand for services for them.

Host: Lastly, I know you’ve travelled to China multiple times this year because of the APEC meetings. So, would you care to share with us some of your personal experience here in China? Your impressions about the country? Bollard: Ok. Well, this year I have come to China maybe a dozen times for a lot of meetings. It’s been a very interesting experience. And I had the chance to have meetings in a number of progressing cities, not just in Beijing and Shanghai, but in Xiamen, Ningbo, Macau and Qingdao. That also means from a personal point of view, I’ve been able to visit some other parts of China that I haven’t been to before, for example, Hangzhou and the birthplace of Confucius — Qufu. So, it’s been a very enriching experience — seeing more places in China, seeing the huge progress it has made on infrastructure investment and seeing how cooperation in APEC is influencing development and areas where we can do more.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Somalia: Al Shabaab Militants Attack Presidential Palace

(AGI) Mogadishu, Nov 16 — Somalian Islamist militants of Al Shabaab, a branch of Al Qaeda, launched an attack on the presidential palace in Mogadishu. “We have fired several mortar rounds at the presidential palace, and we will give details later”, Al Shabaab’s spokesman Abu Masab said on Sunday. The Somalian government and police said that none of the shots hit the target.

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

Woman Suicide-Bomber Kills 8 in Nigeria

(AGI) Kano, Nov 16 — A female suicide bomber has killed at least 8 people in an attack on a market in the Nigerian town of Azare, in Bauchi State. Local witnesses report.

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

Erdogan’s Boast of Muslims Discovering America is Pure Hokum

In a book, The Dark Knight by Harvey Dent, there is an exchange between a criminal, Tejeda and a judge that defines moral choice: “you either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” President Erdogan, an elected dictator and avowed Muslim Brotherhood supporter has made that choice given his record of human rights abuses of his own people in Turkey and tacit support for Salafist barbarians like the Islamic State, formerly ISIS. Attacks by members of the Turkish Youth Union on US sailors on shore leave, captured on video, in Istanbul with red paint and plastic bags this past week left an indelible impression of how he despises NATO allies. Will those attackers who shouted “Yankees go home”, “pay the price” as Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu sought to soften the attack at a G-20 press conference in Australia.

To top that incident we had Erdogan’s resurrection of a hoary fabrication in a Summit with Latin American Clerics in Istanbul this weekend. His assertion was that Muslims discovered America centuries before Columbus. That was based on a literary reference from Columbus’ chronicle of his voyages that he thought a formation on a mountain in Cuba looked like a Mosque. Erdogan used that fraudulent claim to endorese his earlier suggestion that he might condone building a Mosque in Communist Cuba. It also gave him leave to castigate a former ally now an avowed enemy, Sheikh Fehtulleh Gulen in exile in Pennsylvania with his globe girlding network of schools. Pennsylvania,. Erdogan said, “Islam is being abused by Those who use Quran for their own interests, by Those who open schools abroad.” A BBC report on his latest agit-propaganda “Muslims found Americas before Columbus says Turkey’s Erdogan”, boosting his anti-West and anti-US agenda Turkish President Erdogan is conveying pure hokum, ‘meaningless nonsense’ claiming that Muslims discovered America in 1178 and not alleged crypto Jew Columbus in 1492. But if anyone deserves credit for discovering America we have archeological proof that Norseman Leif Ericksson may have discovered America half a millennia earlier around 1000 C.E. earlier given the settlement uncovered at L’Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of the island of Newfoundland.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

Immigrants Land in Sicily, Including Women and Children

(AGI) Ragusa, Nov 16 — The Italian ship San Giorgio disembarked a total of 864 refugees in Pozzallo, near Ragusa, in Sicily.

Amongst them were 164 women and 77 children. A woman in an advanced stage of pregnancy was taken to the nearby hospital of Modica, in the province of Ragusa.

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

Italy: Over 700 Immigrants Rescued Off Coast of Sicily

(AGI) Palermo, Nov 15 — The Italian Navy “Vega” vessel rescued 208 immigrants off the coast of Sicily on Saturday evening, while 96 were saved by the “Sirio” in the morning. A total of 354 immigrants, many of them children, were brought to shore at Pozzallo, near Ragusa, after being rescued by the “Libra”, and were then transfered to the city’s immigration reception centre. In Messina, 230 immigrants arrived on board a merchant ship that had rescued them a few days earlier. The cargo ship, unable to dock, anchored outside the harbour while port authority guard ships proceeded to take the immigrants to shore.

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

Italy: Tor Sapienza Mayor Should Get on With it, Says Alfano

(AGI) Rome, Nov 16 — There have been no visits by government representatives to Rome’s Tor Sapienza district over the last few days because recent residents’ protests over the immigrant reception centre were the mayor’s province. The government’s input was to ensure security via the forces of law and order, Interior Minister Angelino Alfano told news channel Skytg24. It was up to the mayor, Ignazio Marino, who was heckled and jeered during a visit to the area on Friday, to get on with it as far as Rome, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and the Italians were concerned, he added.

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

Iran and Venezuela Urge OPEC Members to Defend Oil Prices

(AGI) Dubai, Nov 15 — In a weighty shift within OPEC’s internal dynamics ahead of a meeting in Vienna on Nov. 27, Iran and Venezuela have now urged fellow oil-producing nations to defend oil prices. Up till a few days ago, the traditional OPEC hawks seemed to exclude resorting to production cuts to counter the 30 percent drop in oil prices on the global market in the last six months. However, with the budget plans of numerous OPEC states now at risk, pressure on the organisation to take action has increased, chiefly from members such as Ecuador, Libya, and especially Venezuela, which is facing a deep economic crisis.

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

3 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/16/2014

    • Islam has been showing its true ugly, bloody, face for the last 1435 years: In the Middle East, India, Egypt. . . . Only recently, for reason unknown, that ugly, bloody face was/ is being, invited with fanfare to the west, to prove their “democracies” are genuine.

      • What was that you say? To teach us beauty snd peace? Speak up. We can’t quite make out what you are saying.

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