Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/2/2014

A suicide bomber blew himself up today in Pakistan at the Wagah border crossing with India. Dozens of people were killed in the attack, which occurred late in the day when the crossing was crowded with people.

In other news, Republican candidates are riding high in the polls in the final hours leading up to Tuesday’s midterm elections, and seem to stand a good chance of regaining a majority in the Senate.

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

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

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

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

Financial Crisis
» Croatian Deficit Exceeds Expectations, GDP Drop Continues
» Italy: Ukrainian GDP Drops by 5.1% in Third Trimester
» Slovenia-Croatia Have Highest GDP/Debt Ratio in New Europe
» An Aging Nation Braces for More Deadly Falls
» Polls Give GOP Momentum Going Into Midterms
Europe and the EU
» Daimler Buys 25% of MV Agusta
» El Alamein ‘Lost With Great Honour’, Chief of Staff
» Germany: Federal Police Chief Warns of Domestic Islamist Threat
» Italy Not Dependent on Russian Energy, Says ENI
» Italy: IOR Money-Laundering Trial Adjourned Over Missing Case File
» Italy: Intesa Says ‘No Way’ It Will Merge With Siena’s MPS
» Italy: Ex Minister Scajola Illicit Funding Case Timed Out
» Italy: Tremonti Denies Finmeccanica ‘Bribe’
» Italy: Vegetable Prices Rise as Fruit and Sugar Falls
» Italy’s Northwest Bracing for Bad Weather
» ‘Podemos’ Is the Leading Party in Spain
» Sign Stolen From Entrance to Dachau Camp
North Africa
» Hundreds of Egyptians Barred From Entering Libya
Israel and the Palestinians
» Arab League Warns of Jerusalem ‘Red Line’
Middle East
» Al Nusra Islamists Take Control of Five Syrian Villages
» Around 50 Italians Thought to Have Joined Islamic State
» Iranian-British Woman Sentenced to One Year in Prison After Attending Men’s Volleyball Game
» IS Kills 200 People in Iraq’s Anbar Province
» IS Spiritual Leader Captured, Says Iraqi Government
» Video: Islamic State Jihadis Happily Discuss Buying and Selling Sex Slaves
» Wanted — Experienced Oil Plant Manager, Pay £140,000 P.A….Send CV to ISIS
» Russia-Ukraine Gas Deal Secures EU Winter Supplies
» Ukraine: Separatist PM Garners 81 Pct of Votes in Donetsk
» Voting Begins in Separatist Eastern Ukraine Republics
South Asia
» Suicide Attack Kills 37 in Pakistan Near India Border
Far East
» China Develops Anti-Drone Laser System
Sub-Saharan Africa
» U.S. Condemns Military Coup in Burkina Faso

Croatian Deficit Exceeds Expectations, GDP Drop Continues

Government introduces corrective measures to stimulate spending

(ANSA) — ZAGREB — Instead of becoming the year of recovery as hoped by the government, 2014 will mark Croatia’s sixt consecutive year of economic recession, with GDP growth projections corrected by mere 0,1% to a more realistic -0,7%. In this light, the Zagreb government has approved a set of corrective measures aiming to bring the public deficit to 5% of GDP, foreseeing a Eur 2 billion deficit at the end of 2014.

To encourage more citizen spending and give a “breath of fresh air” to the middle class, the government will rise the non-taxable portion of income as of February — a measure which should bring 10 to 100 euro increase in paychecks to over one million Croatian workers. The loss of tax return is to be compensated by the introduction of a 12% tax on savings interest. Currently, Croatia is the only EU country without a tax on savings and with 12% will however remain one of the lowest in Europe.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Ukrainian GDP Drops by 5.1% in Third Trimester

Because the war in the East, 8,3% fall expected at annual level

(ANSA) — TRIESTE — Amidst the war in the east of the country, the Ukrainian economy has contracted by 5,1% in the third trimester of 2014 compared to the same period last year, according to data released by the National statistics office. Compared to 2013, the country’s GDP contracted by 4,6% in the second trimester and by 1,15% in the first. The Crimean economy has not been subject to examination due to its annexation to Russia in March. According to the Ukrainian national bank, 8,3% GDP drop is to be expected at the annual level, while a more optimistic 6,5% has been forecasted by the International Monetary Fund for the same period.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Slovenia-Croatia Have Highest GDP/Debt Ratio in New Europe

Estonia best performing in EU28 (10.5%)

(ANSA) — TRIESTE — According to data released by Eurostat, at the end of the second quarter of 2014, Estonia was the EU country with the lowest government debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio with around 2 bln euros of debt equaling to 10,5% of GDP. The second lowest was Luxembourg, at a distance with 23% of GDP and total debt of around 10 bln euros. Romania is the third lowest with 38,5% of GDP (56,2 bln euros according to currency exchange rates to date). Italy holds the highest debt to GDP ratio in the EU28 (133.8%), while amongst the New Europe countries Slovenia (78,3%) and Croatia (77%) have the highest rates. Percentages for Greece (317 bln euros), Bulgaria (8 bln euros) Hungary (83 bln euros), Lithuania (13,7 bln), Poland (194 bln) and Slovakia (41 bln) were not available in the report relative to the second quarter of 2014.

Czech Republic (44,2% of GDP, 67 bln Euros), and Latvia (41,1%, 9,7 bln) are positioned in the middle amongst the New Europe countries with available data.

The overall government debt to GDP ratio in the Euro Area (EA18) stood at 92.7% in the second quarter, compared with 91.9% at the end of the first quarter of 2014, according to Eurostat.

In the EU28, the ratio increased from 86.0% to 87.0% in the same period. Compared with the second quarter of 2013, the government debt to GDP ratio rose in both the Euro Area (from 91.7% to 92.7%) and the EU28 (from 85.1% to 87.0%).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

An Aging Nation Braces for More Deadly Falls

As the American population ages, the number of older people who fall and suffer serious, even fatal, injuries is soaring. So retirement communities, assisted living facilities and nursing homes where millions of older Americans live are trying to balance safety and their residents’ desire to live as they choose.

They are hiring architects and interior designers, some of whom wear special glasses that show the building as an old person would see it. Some have begun to install floor lighting, much like that on airplanes, that automatically illuminates a pathway to the bathroom when a resident gets out of bed.

The number of people over 65 who died after a fall reached nearly 24,000 in 2012, almost double the number 10 years earlier, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 200,000 Americans over 65 died after falls in the decade from 2002 to 2012. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death in that age group.

And more than 2.4 million people over 65 were treated in emergency departments for injuries from falls in 2012 alone, an increase of 50 percent over a decade.

[Return to headlines]

Polls Give GOP Momentum Going Into Midterms

Washington (CNN) — Republicans woke up Sunday to a wave of new polls that showed their Senate candidates surging ahead in key states — including one in Iowa that looked particularly grim for Democrats — giving the GOP a jolt of enthusiasm going into the 2014 campaign cycle’s final hours.

Two days from the midterm election, Washington’s political class was buzzing around news that Iowa GOP Senate hopeful Joni Ernst was 7 percentage points up in a Des Moines Register poll, and Republican candidates and surrogates popped up on the Sunday news shows, gleeful about their prospects.

“I think the wind is at our back,” Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” He added that Republicans will “in all likelihood” win control of the Senate and added: “I think people are ready for new leadership.”

‘This election isn’t over’ Fueling the Republicans’ optimism was a Register poll that showed Ernst leading Democrat Bruce Braley, 51% to 44% — prompting pollster J. Ann Selzer to tell the newspaper that “this race looks like it’s decided.”…

[Return to headlines]

Daimler Buys 25% of MV Agusta

‘Strategic partnership’

(ANSA) — Berlin, October 31 — German auto giant Daimler said Friday it was buying 25% of Italian motorcycle maker MV Agusta in a new “strategic partnership. The acquisition is part of a long-term cooperation deal which gives the German car and truck maker access to lightweight three-cylinder engines. Daimler will buy the stake via its AMG performance cars unit and will take a seat on the board of directors at MV Agusta. Daimler did not disclose the financial terms of the deal.

Cooperation between the two high-end brands will include marketing and sales, Daimler said in a statement.

Tobias Moers, chief executive of Mercedes-AMG, said: “In MV Agusta, we have found the perfect two-wheel partner for Mercedes-AMG. The partnership provides us with an entry into a world of additional high-performance enthusiasts”.

Giovanni Castiglioni, president and CEO of MV Agusta, said: “Mercedes-AMG will help MV Agusta to further expand globally and to accelerate our growth.” The Agusta stake will give Daimler access to a range of high-performance three-cylinder engines which the Italian company has developed for its superbikes.

The partnership is subject to the approval of the relevant authorities, expected to be granted in late November.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

El Alamein ‘Lost With Great Honour’, Chief of Staff

72nd anniversary of desert battle commemorated in Livorno

(ANSA) — Livorno, October 31 — Italian troops who fought and were defeated in the battle of El Alamein “lost with great honour,” the Italian Defence ministry chief of staff Luigi Binelli Martelli said Friday.

Speaking at a ceremony in the Tuscan port city of Livorno to mark the 72nd anniversary of the 2nd World War battle between Allied and Axis forces in north Africa, Mantelli paid tribute to 3,500 Folgore regiment paratroopers who took part valiantly with very heavy losses sustained against British troops, saying that “spirit of service and cohesion are fundamental elements for the operational capacity of the armed forces.” “The paratroopers have always shown this. El Alamein was a battle that was lost with great honour, facing up to overwhelmingly superior fire power with poor weapons but with great spirit and capacity to resist and to hold up high the honour of Italy”.

The ceremony held at the Vannucci barracks was attended by Army Chief of Staff Claudio Graziano as well as the current commanding officer of the Folgore, Lorenzo D’Addario.

Italy has made strides in recent years in reversing the stereotypical image of the Italian soldier’s alleged eagerness to retreat or surrender in WWII.

Two years ago, on October 30, 2012, an historical park was unveiled on the battle site to show visitors key points in the showdown in the Egyptian desert.

The 1942 battle turned the tide in the Allies’ favour despite what is now recognised as uncommon resistance by the Italian soldiers who won praise from Winston Churchill by fighting as fiercely as the Germans against high odds and their own limitations in equipment and weapons.

Padua University has worked with 266 volunteers on the three-year project, wholly funded by private donations, which also aims to protect the site from oil exploration and coastal building development.

There has been an upsurge of interest in the battle in recent years and a greater awareness in Italy and abroad of the courage shown by the Italian soldiers who fought there.

A major exhibition on the battle was staged in Milan in 2008, when documentaries were shown on national TV and the movie ‘El Alamein’ came out.

The conviction that Italian troops fought heroically at El Alamein had been championed most visibly by the now-defunct rightwing National Alliance party, which evolved from Italy’s post-war Italian Social Movement (MSI) neo-fascist party.

But politicians on the centre left have also said that, despite having been on the “wrong side,” Italian soldiers at El Alamein saved the honour of the army.

Non-Italian war historians also revised a traditionally negative view of the nation’s military, typified by jokes about Italian tanks having nine reverse gears and only one to go forward.

A 2007 book on El Alamein by two British historians, John Bierman and Colin Smith, had several good things to say about Italian soldiers in the North African campaign.

“The Italian tank regiment, despite the prattle about the abundance of reverse gears, fought with great audacity, just as the ‘Ariete’ artillery regiment did,” Bierman told Italian TV in an interview.

According to American historian John W.Gordon, whose book Behind Rommel’s Lines was recently translated into Italian, the British special forces were so impressed by the methods and tactics of the Italian desert corps that they actually copied them.

Italy’s crack paratrooper regiment, the ‘Folgore,’ sent some 5,000 of its men to El Alamein. Only 304 returned.

“The paratroopers threw themselves against oncoming tanks with Molotov cocktails and live mines,” said Francesco Marini Dettina, a survivor of the battle who was awarded a silver medal for valour.

Interviewed for a documentary, Dettina said: “They urged us to surrender but the only answer they got came from the artillery with our last remaining shells. The British were surprised by the Italians’ behaviour.” Churchill said in a speech to the House of Commons a month after El Alamein: “We must honour the men that were the Lions of the Folgore”.

The 13-day battle pitted Allied soldiers under the command of British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery against Italian and German troops led by Erwin Rommel from October 23 to November 4, 1942.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Germany: Federal Police Chief Warns of Domestic Islamist Threat

With the number of Islamists on the rise in Germany, the president of the country’s Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) has warned that “lone perpetrators” or “small groups” pose the greatest domestic threat.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italy Not Dependent on Russian Energy, Says ENI

Energy giant’s Q3 and 9-month figures ‘30% better than expected’

(ANSA) — Rome, October 30 — Italy should not worry about energy supplies this winter, even in the event of a Russian gas crisis, as the country has diverse sources, ENI chief Claudio Descalzi said Thursday.

“Italy has long diversified its supplies,” the chief executive officer of the Italian oil and gas giant said in reporting third-quarter profits of 1.71 billion euros.

“We don’t depend solely on Russia, we have re-gasifiers and a good connection with North Africa,” he said.

Descalzi also predicted that the price of oil would be “stable for the next few months”.

Tension between Russia and Ukraine over the ongoing military crisis in pro-Russian eastern Ukraine and Kiev’s failure to pay off a billion-dollar debt to Moscow for its own gas have raised fears of interruptions to supplies to Europe.

Meanwhile, ENI said its third-quarter profits were down 57% over the same period in 2013, due to an usual gains last year on the divestment of a 20% interest in the Mozambique discovery for approximately three billion euros.

Net profits for the first nine months of 2014 were 3.68 billion euros, down 36.7% over 2013, Eni said in a statement.

Further, the company posted an operating cash flow of 3.98 billion euros for the period July-September, the highest performing third quarter for the last five years.

Oil and gas production remained stable at 1.58 million barrels of oil a day.

Descalzi said he was “very pleased” with the firm’s cash generation, and said the third-quarter and nine-month profits posted by the Italian oil and gas giant “exceeded expectations by 30%”.

“It has hit the highest level of the last five years in spite of continued weakness in the trading environment…Our exploration is continuing to deliver extraordinary results which will drive future growth in our upstream portfolio”. Company stocks rose more than 2% during trading Thursday but closed a bit lower, show a gain of 1.47% to 16.58 euros on the Milan bourse.

“Today’s results are extremely positive, they surprised the market,” said the CEO, who attributed the results to “major efforts made to renegotiate gas contracts with (Norwegian multinational oil and gas company) Statoil, (Russian energy company) Gazprom and Algeria”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: IOR Money-Laundering Trial Adjourned Over Missing Case File

Two ex-Vatican Bank execs on trial for money laundering

(ANSA) — Rome, October 29 — The first hearing in the money laundering trial of two former Vatican Bank executives was adjourned Wednesday because the case file was lost.

The former general manager of the bank whose official name is Institute for Religious Works (IOR), Paolo Cipriani, and his ex deputy Massimo Tulli must answer charges related to a probe that in 2010 led to the freezing of 23 million euros over two cash transfers involving the Vatican Bank that were deemed suspicious.

The judge adjourned the hearing to December 2 pending a search for the missing file, while prosecutors tried to minimize the incident.

“Nothing has been lost,” they said. “These things happen.

We already filed copies of the case file”.

The trial is a fresh blow to the image of the bank after a series of scandals over the years.

Italian banks effectively stopped dealing with the IOR in 2010 after the Bank of Italy ordered them to enforce strict anti-money-laundering criteria to continue working with it.

From January 1 to February 12 last year, the Bank of Italy froze all credit-card and ATM transactions inside the Vatican City over its failure to fully implement international anti-money-laundering standards.

The Vatican has made several reforms to introduce greater financial transparency and fight money laundering since Pope Francis was elected to the helm of the Catholic Church last year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Intesa Says ‘No Way’ It Will Merge With Siena’s MPS

Messina says his bank following its own business plan

(ANSA) — Rome, October 31 — The head of Italy’s largest retail bank Intesa Sanpaolo said Friday that there was “no way” his institution would merge with troubled Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS).

“It is not possible in any way that MPS will become part of Intesa Sanpaolo,” said Chief Executive Officer Carlo Messina.

“We are following our own business plan”.

Intesa said earlier this week that it was not planning any domestic acquisitions following reports that MPS might be a candidate for takeover after stress tests by the European Central Bank found the Siena-based institution had a capital shortfall of 2.1 billion euros.

Those stress tests, performed on 130 European banks, found that nine in Italy had capital shortfalls but seven had already taken remedial action.

Of the remaining two, MPS had the largest hole and is expected to present a plan to correct the problem by November 10 to the ECB.

The other Italian bank with capital holes was Banca Carige of Genoa, which was short about 810 million euros and said it has a plan to raise the funds on markets.

Both banks have taken a beating on equity markets following last Sunday’s ECB report, with MPS losing roughly one-third of its value.

Short-selling in MPS, the world’s oldest continuously operating bank, has been temporarily banned amid volatility.

The capital shortfalls at the two banks are the result of poor management decisions that the Bank of Italy has highlighted in the past, central bank Governor Ignazio Visco said Friday.

Troubled MPS raised some five billion euros in new capital in early summer in order to repay a State bailout and avoid nationalization, as well we shoring up reserves ahead of the ECB assessment.

The bank had received a 4.1-billion-euro bailout approved under former premier Mario Monti, and had been threatened with nationalization if it failed to repay the government support.

That came just before the bank 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.

Since then, MPS has come under the spotlight in relation to investigations for suspected insider trading and fraud.

MPS has also been at the center of a judicial investigation into its acquisition of smaller rival Antonveneta in 2008 as well as the derivatives trades the bank allegedly used to conceal losses.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Ex Minister Scajola Illicit Funding Case Timed Out

Acquitted of shady real estate deal charges in March

(ANSA) — Rome, October 31 — A Rome appeals court on Friday acquitted former industry minister Claudio Scajola of illicit funding because the crime has timed out. A member of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party, Scajola was forced to resign when he was indicted on charges related to a shady real-estate deal involving an expensive home with a view on Rome’s iconic Colosseum. Prosecutors had originally asked that Scajola and his co-defendant in the case, businessman Diego Anemone, be given three-year jail sentences and fined two million euros each on charges of illicit funding.

The judge cleared Scajola, saying his assertion that Anemone had paid for most of the flat for him without his knowledge was credible.

The property was allegedly bought by Anemone, who is said to have paid 1.1 million euros of a total of 1.7 million euros through architect Angelo Zampolini for the purchase, as well as paying 100,000 euros for renovations.

The case was part of a broader investigation into alleged illegal activities by Anemone that emerged following the 2009 Group of Eight (G8) summit in Italy.

The meeting of G8 international leaders was initially scheduled to be held in La Maddalena in Sardinia before being moved to the earthquake-stricken town of L’Aquila. The case against Anemone was timed out by the statute of limitations.

Scajola is currently under house arrest for allegedly helping Amedeo Matacena, a fugitive former MP for ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (FI) party who has been convicted of Mafia links.

A 66-year-old former government programme, interior and industry minister under separate Berlusconi governments, Scajola is accused of trying to help transfer Matacena from Dubai to Lebanon, from where it is allegedly more difficult to obtain an extradition.

Matacena’s wife Chiara Rizzo and right-hand man Martino Politi face identical charges.

The pair are also believed to have tried to conceal Matacena’s assets to prevent them from being seized.

Matacena announced in June that he would return to Italy from Dubai to serve his time in order to give his children “their mother back”, but so far has not come back.

Scajola was also forced to resign as interior minister from a previous Berlusconi government in July 2002 after sparking controversy by making derogatory remarks about slain labor ministry aide Marco Biagi.

Biagi was gunned down the previous March by the Red Brigades after being denied a police escort by Scajola.

In off-the-cuff remarks, Scajola said Biagi had been a “pain in the a**” and that had Biagi been given an escort “three people would have been killed instead of one”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Tremonti Denies Finmeccanica ‘Bribe’

‘Absolute confidence in justice system’

(ANSA) — Rome, October 30 — Former economy minister Giulio Tremonti on Thursday denied taking a bribe from defence giant Finmeccanica for unspecified favours in 2009.

“I never asked for anything in any way from Finmeccanica,” Tremonti said, adding he had “absolute confidence in (the) justice (system)”.

Earlier Thursday Carabinieri police searched the Milan law office where he is a partner

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Vegetable Prices Rise as Fruit and Sugar Falls

(AGI) Rome, Oct 31 — The price of vegetables is rising, while fruit and sugar are decreasing, reported Italian statistics agency ISTAT on Friday. On the one hand olive oil was up 1.1 percent in monthly terms and 0.6 percent over the year, while on the other sugar was down 0.7 percent month-on-month and 5 percent since October 2013. Unprocessed food was 1 percent more expensive in both monthly and annual terms, compared to an annual rise of 1.4 percent in September.

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

Italy’s Northwest Bracing for Bad Weather

(AGI) Rome, Nov 2 — Bad weather is expected to hit Liguria, the coastal region of northwestern Italy, from Monday to Wednesday, the regional council warned.

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

‘Podemos’ Is the Leading Party in Spain

(AGI) Madrid, Nov 2 — Spain has been affected by a political ‘earthquake’ as the anti-government ‘indignados’ movement is becoming the country’s leading party, by the name of ‘Podemos’.

Since the return of democracy in the 1970s, Spain had been accustomed to a bipartisan political framework with the PSE (Socialists) on one side and the PP (Popular Party) on the other. Despite ‘Podemos’ being established only ten months ago, it has become the country’s top party now with twelve months to go before new elections. According to a survey carried out by El Pais, ‘Podemos’, led by Pablo Iglesias, aged 36, is at 27.7 percent, followed by the Socialist opposition at 26.2 percent, and third is currently Mariano Rajoy’s Partido Popular at 20.7 percent.

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

Sign Stolen From Entrance to Dachau Camp

(AGI) Berlin, Nov 2 — A sign has once again been stolen from a Nazi concentration camp, an identical theft having occurred at Auschwitz in 2009. The German press reported that the infamous sign “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work Brings Freedom) was taken from Dachau camp.

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

Hundreds of Egyptians Barred From Entering Libya

Hundreds of Egyptians have been barred from entering Libya through the airport in the capital Tripoli.

Staff at the capital’s Maitiga airport told the BBC they have been ordered by immigration officials not to allow any Egyptians into the country until further notice.

Dozens remain stranded at the airport.

The Islamist-affiliated militias in control of Tripoli have accused Egypt of bombing their allies, who hold power in the eastern city of Benghazi.

The BBC’s Rana Jawad in Tripoli says that the decision to introduce visa restrictions is likely to be a politically motivated move to put pressure on Cairo.

Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians live and work in Libya, and in recent weeks some have alleged that they have been intimidated by armed groups.

Nearly 800 Egyptians arriving in Libya have been sent back since Thursday, officials said…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

Arab League Warns of Jerusalem ‘Red Line’

The Arab League warned Sunday that Israel has reached a “red line” after fresh clashes in Jerusalem, urging international pressure to stop what it branded “violations” in the holy city.

Clashes around the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound — the third holiest site in Islam and Judaism’s holiest — prompted Israel on Thursday to close the site for a day.

Al-Aqsa and adjacent neighbourhoods have seen months of violence, with the mosque compound a rallying point for Palestinian resistance to perceived Jewish attempts to take control of it.

“Israel has reached a red line,” Arab League deputy chief Ahmed Ben Hilli said after an assembly of the 22-member bloc’s delegates.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Al Nusra Islamists Take Control of Five Syrian Villages

(AGI) Cairo, Nov 2 — The Al Qaeda affiliated Al Nusra group has taken control of another five villages in northern Idlib province, the Syrian Observatory for Human rights reported.

This follows clashes with Free Syrian Army rebels who are fighting President Bashar Assad. Al Nusra seized two key rebel strongholds in Idlib on Saturday.

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

Around 50 Italians Thought to Have Joined Islamic State

(AGI) Rome, Nov 2 — Around 50 Italians have joined the Islamic State (IS) group based on intelligence estimates, Italian Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti told SkyTg24 news.

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

Iranian-British Woman Sentenced to One Year in Prison After Attending Men’s Volleyball Game

An Iranian-British woman detained while trying to attend a men’s volleyball was sentenced to one year in prison Sunday.

Lawyer Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei told The Associated Press on Sunday that a court found 25-year-old Ghoncheh Ghavami guilty of “propagating against the ruling system.”

Ghavami was detained in June at a stadium in Tehran. She was held initially for a few hours and released only to be detained again a few days later. She stood trial last month.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

IS Kills 200 People in Iraq’s Anbar Province

(AGI) Baghdad, Nov 2 — More than 200 Sunni tribesmen have been killed by Islamic State fighters in Iraq’s Al Anbar province in the last ten days. The news comes from official sources and tribal leaders.

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

IS Spiritual Leader Captured, Says Iraqi Government

(AGI) Baghdad, Nov 2 — The Iraqi Interior Ministry has announced that Islamic State Mufti Husam Naji has been captured. A statement from the ministry said that Naji, regarded as the group’s spiritual leader, had authorised the destruction of Shiite mosques and churches and the killing of citizens in Nineveh province. (AGI) .

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

Video: Islamic State Jihadis Happily Discuss Buying and Selling Sex Slaves

“Today is the slave market day. Today is the day where this verse applies: ‘Except with their wives and the (captives) whom their right hands possess,- for (then) they are not to be blamed.’“

That’s Qur’an 23:6. The whole passage is: “The believers must (eventually) win through, those who humble themselves in their prayers; who avoid vain talk; who are active in deeds of charity; who abstain from sex, except with those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess, for (in their case) they are free from blame.” (Qur’an 23:1-6)

The rape of captive women is also sanctioned in Islamic tradition.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Wanted — Experienced Oil Plant Manager, Pay £140,000 P.A….Send CV to ISIS

Jihadists advertising for skilled professionals to man its failing oil fields after string of fatal accidents

ISIS is on the lookout for a skilled professional to manage its failing oil refineries and has been using black-market agents to advertise the £140,000-a-year post.

The terror group is said to have captured at least 11 oil fields in Iraq and Syria during its offensive campaign and was thought to be making around £2million-a-day from sales in June.

But a string of fatal accidents and a lack of ideological commitment from trained engineers has seen its profits slump by more than two thirds.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Russia-Ukraine Gas Deal Secures EU Winter Supplies

‘No reason for Europeans to be cold this winter’ says Barroso

(ANSA) — Rome, October 31 — Russia agreed an EU-brokered gas deal with Ukraine Thursday that will secure winter supplies to the European Union.

“There is now no reason for people in Europe to stay cold this winter,” said European Commission President José Manuel Barroso.

European Union energy chief Guenther Oettinger said he was confident that Ukraine would be able to afford to pay for the gas it needed.

He added that the agreement might be the “first glimmer” of hope in easing tensions between Russian and Ukraine over a pro-Moscow insurrection in eastern Ukraine.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Ukraine: Separatist PM Garners 81 Pct of Votes in Donetsk

(AGI) Lugansk, Nov 2 — Exit polls in the separatist Ukrainian region of Donetsk gave the electoral victory to the self-proclaimed prime minister Alexander Zaharchenko with 81 percent of the votes in his favour. The news was reported by the Russian agency Ria Novost. The votes, which include the second pro-Russian region, Lugansk, will end in an hour. They were dismissed by Ukraine’s President, Petro Poroshenko, as a “farce that is being conducted under the threat of tanks and guns”.

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

Voting Begins in Separatist Eastern Ukraine Republics

(AGI) Moscow, Nov 2 — Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine are holding presidential and parliamentary elections in the two self-proclaimed people’s republics in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Ukraine, the U.S. and EU say they will not recognise the elections but Russia has given its support to the polls. A total of 400 polling stations will remain open until 18.00 CET on Sunday amid tight security measures.

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

Suicide Attack Kills 37 in Pakistan Near India Border

(AGI) Islamabad, Nov 2 — At least 37 people were killed and 70 injured, including women and children, in a suicide attack in Pakistan on Sunday at the Wagah border with India, between the cities of Lahore and Amritsar, police reported.

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

China Develops Anti-Drone Laser System

(AGI) Beijing, Nov. 2 — China has developed a laser-based anti-drone defence system, state press agency Xinhua reported on Sunday. The weapon is designed to strike unmanned aerial vehicles flying at altitudes of less than 500 metres, at speeds of 180 km/h and within a 1.2 kilometre range, and can fire within five seconds of target acquisition.

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

U.S. Condemns Military Coup in Burkina Faso

(AGI) Washington, Nov 2 — The U.S. State Department has condemned the seizure of power in Burkina Faso by Colonel Isaac Zida after the resignation of President Blaise Campaore’. “The United States condemns the Burkinabe military’s attempt to impose its will on the people of Burkina Faso. We call on the military to immediately transfer power to civilian authorities.

We urge civilian leadership to be guided by the spirit of the constitution of Burkina Faso and to move immediately towards free and fair Presidential elections,” said spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

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