Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/30/2014

According to airport security sources in the UK, Al Qaeda is planning a simultaneous attack on five jetliners as part of a Christmas “spectacular” in London and other European cities. Airport authorities are considering banning all carry-on hand luggage in an attempt to thwart the attacks.

In other news, recently arrested members of a criminal gang in Naples are thought to be responsible for 90% of the counterfeit euro notes and coins circulated in the EU and other regions.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Fjordman, Insubria, Mark Spahn, 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
» Italy: Inflation Edges Up to 0.2% in November, Says ISTAT
» Number of Unemployed in France Hits Record 3.46 Million
» Unemployment Hits Historic Record of 3.4 Million in Italy
» ‘Big Wave of Confusion’ Surrounding Bomb Threat Against American Airlines Jet
» Bomb Threat Against American Airlines Jet Being Investigated
» Darren Wilson Won’t Receive Severance Package, Ferguson Mayor Says
» Missing Ohio State Football Player Found Dead
» Murder Case Highlighted in ‘Serial’ Podcast Moves Through Appeal
» Off-Duty Texas Deputy Accused of Road Rage Attack
» US Not Pro-Nazi, Just Anti-Christian
Europe and the EU
» Corruption, Waste Cost Italy 6 Bn in 18 Months — Report
» Cruise Companies Look Outside Europe for New Ships
» Devastating Floods Sweep Across Southern France
» Has France’s Far-Right National Front Won the Battle of Ideas?
» Italy: Muslim-Friendly Tourism Grows Faster Than Global Market
» Italy: Escort Testifies She Had Sex With Berlusconi in 2008
» Italy: Three Former Meridiana CEOs Probed After Offices Searched
» Italy: Ex-Telecom Board Member Elio Catania to Face Trial
» Italy: Naples Crooks Blamed for 90% of Fake Euros
» Send Our Jihadis to Devil’s Island! French Politician Demands Paris Reopens ‘Papillon’ Jail for Terrorists
» Three-Quarters of Norwegians Against Joining EU
» UK: Al Qaeda Plot to Blow Up 5 Passenger Planes in Christmas ‘Spectacular’
» UK’s Cameron to Restrict Benefits for Immigrants
North Africa
» Italy’s Confidence in Egypt Restored at Business Council
» Italy-Egypt: Sace: 210 Mln to Enlarge Giza Plant
» Lucchini Steelmaker to Accept Cevital Offer
Middle East
» US-Led Airstrikes Have ‘Not Weakened’ Islamic State Group
» Moldova: Pro-Russian Party Excluded From Sunday’s Elections
South Asia
» I Removed 2,000 Nails From Patient’s Body, Says Surgeon Promoting Islamic Therapy
Far East
» Hong Kong Protesters Clash With Police, Government HQ Closes
» North Korea: Pyongyang: The Three Women Behind Kim Jong-un’s Throne
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Ebola Death Toll Nears 7,000, World Health Organization Says
Latin America
» Uruguay: Marijuana Law Gets Boost in Presidential Vote

Italy: Inflation Edges Up to 0.2% in November, Says ISTAT

Barely above disinflationary levels seen in summer

(ANSA) — Rome, November 28 — Italy’s annual inflation rate edged up slightly to 0.2% in November, national statistics agency Istat said Friday. But while the rate rose compared with November 2013, it fell 0.2% compared with October and is far below the 2% rate of inflation that policymakers say indicates an economy operating at a healthy rate of growth. Meanwhile, the agency said the EU’s harmonized index of consumer prices (HICP) fell by 0.3% in November compared with the previous month but rose by 0.2% with respect to November 2013.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Number of Unemployed in France Hits Record 3.46 Million

More people were unemployed in France in October than ever before, data released Thursday showed, highlighting continued weak activity in the eurozone’s second-largest economy.

The Labour Ministry said the jobless total in mainland France rose by 28,400 to 3,460,900, a 0.8 percent increase over one month and 5.5 percent over one year.

President François Hollande has seen his popularity fall to the lowest ratings in French polling history, with a key factor being his failure to live up to promises to tackle unemployment.

The jobless increase in October was the biggest monthly rise since February, when the total rose by 31,500. It came after a rise in September which wiped out a slight fall in unemployment in August…

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

Unemployment Hits Historic Record of 3.4 Million in Italy

(AGI) Rome, Nov 28 — The situation in Italy’s lbour market shows no sign of improvement according to national statistics agency, ISTAT. The working population amounted to 22.3 million in October, 55,000 workers less than in September and stable on an annual basis. The number of unemployed reached 3.4 million in October, up by 90,000 from September — 2.7 percent — and by 268,000 units from October of the previous year. Unemployment in Italy hit a historic record of 13.2 percent in October, the highest on record since 1977. The number of jobless rose 0.3 percentage points compared to September and 1.0 percent compared to October 2013. Those in the 15-24 age group rose to to 708,000, or 11.9 percent of this population segment, 0.1 percent up from the previous month and 0.7 percent higher than last year, ISTAT reported. The rate of unemployment among the 15-to-24-year-olds either employed or seeking a job is now 43.3 percent, 0.6 percent higher than in September and 1.9 percent more than a year ago. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was not slow to commenting on the figures. “The rate of unemployment concerns us, but the data also shows that the number of employed is growing. Since we came into office, we have created 100,000 new jobs”, Mr. Renzi said. On his part, Welfare Minister Giuliano Poletti pointed out that the figures “show that the rate of employment is in line with a see-sawing economy, in which signs of recovery have to counterbalance the tail of a long crisis that continues to pour negative results over Italy and Europe”. In the meantime, the Ministry of Labour announced some good news: “a positive trend with 400,000 new permanent contracts, up 7.1 percent from the previous year”, reported the Mandatory Communications Information System, saying it was the first indication drawn from a preliminary analysis of the data. Fixed-term contracts now represent 70 percent of all contracts, 1.8 percent more than in the third quarter of 2013.

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

‘Big Wave of Confusion’ Surrounding Bomb Threat Against American Airlines Jet

A passenger aboard the American Airlines flight from Barcelona that landed safely at John F. Kennedy International Airport today after a bomb threat described the scene as “a big wave of confusion.”

“Nobody knew what was going on,” Beth Henderson, 24, of Brooklyn, New York, told ABC News. “There was a gnawing worry in the pit of my stomach.”

The jet, with 200 passengers and nine crew members on board, was taken to a secure area at JFK after landing and a bomb squad, K-9 units and emergency services were dispatched, according to the Fire Department of New York.

Passengers got off the plane and were taken to “holding buses,” Robert Wolf, a passenger on the flight, tweeted.

The plane was evacuated and there were no reports of injuries.

Police used bomb-sniffing dogs to check passengers’ luggage. Four dogs inspected each piece of luggage on the flight…

[Return to headlines]

Bomb Threat Against American Airlines Jet Being Investigated

An American Airlines flight from Barcelona landed safely at John F. Kennedy International Airport today after a bomb threat against Flight 67, officials said.

The jet, with 200 passengers and nine crew members on board, was taken to a secure area at JFK after landing and a bomb squad, K-9 units and emergency services were dispatched, according to the Fire Department of New York.

Passengers got off the plane and were taken to “holding buses,” Robert Wolf, a passenger on the flight, tweeted.

The plane was evacuated and there were no reports of injuries.

Police used bomb-sniffing dogs to check passengers’ luggage. Four dogs inspected each piece of luggage on the flight.

[Return to headlines]

Darren Wilson Won’t Receive Severance Package, Ferguson Mayor Says

Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson did not receive a severance package when he resigned over the weekend, the St. Louis suburb’s mayor said Sunday.

Wilson, 28, won’t receive any further pay or benefits, and he and the city have severed their ties, Mayor James Knowles told reporters a day after Wilson tendered his resignation, which was effective immediately.

Wilson, who is white, had been on administrative leave since he killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, during an Aug. 9 confrontation. He wrote in his resignation letter that his “continued employment may put the residents and police officers of the City of Ferguson at risk, which is a circumstance I cannot allow.”

His lawyer, Neil Bruntrager, told The Associated Press that Wilson decided to step aside after police Chief Tom Jackson told him about the alleged threats on Saturday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Missing Ohio State Football Player Found Dead

The body of Ohio State football player Kosta Karageorge, a walk-on and a fifth-year senior, was found on Sunday afternoon in a trash bin near his apartment, a Columbus Police spokesman told reporters. Karageorge, 22, died from what appeared to be self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the police. The police also said that they had recovered a firearm at the scene. Karageorge had gone for a walk around 2 a.m. Wednesday and had not been seen since.

Karageorge’s family had indicated that his disappearance may have had something to do with his concussion history. He reportedly sent a text message to his mother, apologizing if he had been an “embarrassment” and blaming it on concussions.

In a phone interview on Friday, his older sister, Sophia Karageorge, said that he had sustained a concussion as recently as September and had had “at least four or five” concussions in his life.

[Return to headlines]

Murder Case Highlighted in ‘Serial’ Podcast Moves Through Appeal

BALTIMORE — A 15-year-old murder case that landed a popular teenager from Baltimore County behind bars for life is being revived in a podcast that offers more questions than answers about the crime and its fallout.

Ultimately, a Maryland appeals court will decide the man’s fate.

Millions of listeners are anxiously awaiting the next installment of Serial, a podcast from the creators of “This American Life” that tells the story of Adnan Syed, a Woodlawn High School student who was found guilty in 2000 of murdering his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. The podcast is the brainchild of longtime radio producer and former Baltimore Sun reporter Sarah Koenig, who spent more than a year digging into Syed’s case and reporting her findings in almost real-time in hour-long segments released online every Thursday (with the exception of Thanksgiving).

Nine episodes in, the podcast has attracted more than 1.5 million listeners per episode worldwide and turned Syed into something of a household name, inspiring a dedicated fan base, re-cap blogs and even spin-off podcasts, not to mention heated debates around countless water coolers and dinner tables about Syed’s guilt or innocence.

But although the buzz surrounding the case is new, Syed has been trying to prove his innocence for years — so long, in fact, that his case is now in its final stages of appeal. A hearing scheduled for January represents what Syed’s lawyer, C. Justin Brown, said is the man’s “last best chance” at freedom…

[Return to headlines]

Off-Duty Texas Deputy Accused of Road Rage Attack

A reserve deputy constable in Texas remains jailed on allegations that he shot another motorist during an apparent road rage incident while he was off-duty.

Harris County Constable Kenneth Caplan is charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and is scheduled to appear in court Monday. Online records show he remained in jail Sunday on a $200,000 bond.

Authorities say the victim was driving Nov. 11 on a Houston freeway when a bullet grazed her head. They say their investigation led to Caplan, who was booked Wednesday…

[Return to headlines]

US Not Pro-Nazi, Just Anti-Christian

By Xavier Lerma

Although middle-America is conservative with sound Christian values its government is not. Last Friday the UN General Assembly passed a resolution against the promotion of Nazism and other forms of racial discrimination. The majority of countries like Russia were for it but the “land of the free” voted against it. The “brightest beacon for freedom” would not stand in the way of Nazi ideologies. Has the US government turned into Nazis or are they really against Christianity?

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

Corruption, Waste Cost Italy 6 Bn in 18 Months — Report

Increased tax police inspections cite 13,300 people

(ANSA) — Palermo, November 24 — Italian tax police uncovered corruption and waste costing 5.7 billion euros in the 18 months between January 2013 and September 2014, said a report published Monday in the weekly journal of non-profit anti-mafia research center Pio La Torre.

In the first nine months of 2014 alone, Italian tax police conducted 24% more investigations than in the entire year of 2013, the analysis said.

The analysis of data from the 18-month period showed that tax police cited 13,300 people, for offences such as absenteeism in State jobs, paying suppliers twice for the same order, or ordering expensive equipment that was never used.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Cruise Companies Look Outside Europe for New Ships

(AGI) Brussels, Nov 27 — Cruise companies may choose cheaper options if European shipyards fail to offer competitive prices for ships, said the secretary general of Cruise Lines International Association, Robert Ashdown. Last week Italy’s Fincantieri, the China State Shipbuilding Corporation and Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise company, signed an agreement to build cruise ships in China. Mr Ashdown told MediTelegraph magazine: “We want to keep buying ships at the best possible price. European shipyards build sophisticated ships with an excellent design, but competition has become global and no one can force us to order ships in Europe.

Therefore, European shipyards must continue to offer high-quality products but at a competitive price.” .

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

Devastating Floods Sweep Across Southern France

The worst flooding in southern France has claimed five lives and forced almost 3,000 people to evacuate their homes, officials said Sunday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Has France’s Far-Right National Front Won the Battle of Ideas?

Marine Le Pen is hoping to build on a year of momentous electoral victories to establish her National Front as France’s pre-eminent political force — a battle some say the far-right party has already won.

National Front party members gathered in Lyon on Saturday for the start of their two-day party conference.

France’s third-largest city, Lyon is also a left-wing bastion with a proud record of resistance to fascism during World War II.

Its choice underscores the party’s all-conquering confidence ahead of next year’s regional polls.

The weekend gathering caps a triumphant year for the National Front, which captured a dozen towns in municipal elections, romped to victory in European elections with a whopping 25% of the vote, and seized its first ever seats in the Senate…

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

Italy: Muslim-Friendly Tourism Grows Faster Than Global Market

Market worth 126 bn Usd a year, but Italy lags

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 26 — They are young, cultured, technological and rich. They travel 12 months a year, and Italy is one of the countries at the top of their wishlist because, if the Coliseum and luxury shopping were not enough, Rome also has the largest mosque in Europe. But they complain about the lack of services and packages dedicated to them, in particular the possibility to eat according to Halal rules (Arabic word that means “licit”), and for this reason they snub Italy in favor of other European countries (France, Germany, Spain, and even Scandinavian countries). The characteristics of the typical Muslim tourist were outlined by the project Italia Bayti (Italy my home) organized to sensitize the Italian hospitality industry to hosting Middle Eastern clients and, more generally, those coming from one of 57 countries of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The industry segment is substantial considering that for the last 10 years Muslim-friendly tourism has been growing by 5% per year, compared to 3.8% growth for international tourism in general. In 2013, Muslim-friendly tourism was worth 126 billion dollars, or 12.3% of total spending on global tourism. In addition, Muslim tourists have enormous spending capacity. One need only to consider that the Saudi tourist spends the most per capita in absolute terms, from 10,000 to 100,000 euros per year in travel and vacation.

The largest part of the requests come from Saudi Arabia, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and Kuwait, but there is also a large segment of the market for those Muslims who live in non-Islamic environments, such as France and Germany. Top destinations are Malaysia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, followed by Singapore, Russia, China, France, Thailand and even Italy, which, however, has much untapped potential. “A month ago in Granada, there was the first European congress on Halal tourism,” explained Anna Maria Aisha Tiozzo, vice president of Confassociazioni and president of World Halal Development (WHAD). “There are very strict criteria that require dedicated structures for Muslim tourists,” she added, such as no alcohol, Halal cooking, pools and other separate places for men and women, places of prayer, no music or television. “Here in Italy it would be ‘mission impossible’. We are not ready and perhaps not even suited, and the tourists don’t even ask for it. What they complain about is, instead, a series of services that are essential for them and an attitude that is Muslim-friendly, on which we can and must do much more. For this reason, with WHAD, we have instituted a training and certification program directed toward the whole tourism world that is aimed at a rating by international bodies and that we will present also at the BIT (international tourism fair in Milan)”.

A survey found that for 67% of Muslim travelers, Halal food is an indispensable requirement, followed by a fair price (53%) and a Muslim friendly attitude (49%) also towards families.

Muslim travelers appreciate places that are suitable for their prayers, as well as staff and guides who speak Arabic or at least English. In Italy, they look for mountain and lake locations — as lakes are novel for them — as well as elite sports like horseback riding and golf. They also seek out luxury and Made in Italy shopping, the medical sector, beauty and spas.

They would also be open to sampling Italian cuisine, as long as it is Halal. “In Italy, there are 56 million soccer commissioners and 56 million tourism experts, but there have been no steps made to improve this sector,” said Giuseppe Sarnella, “We can no longer be content with traditional tourism”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Escort Testifies She Had Sex With Berlusconi in 2008

Patrizia D’Addario went public with ‘bunga bunga’ sex parties

(ANSA) — Bari, November 27 — Escort Patrizia D’Addario testified Thursday that businessman Giampaolo Tarantini told her she would “have to have sex” with then-premier Silvio Berlusconi if she wanted to be introduced to him.

D’Addario, 47, is a witness for the prosecution in a case against Tarantini and six others — including showgirl Sabina Beganovic, known as the “queen bee” for her role in organizing so-called bunga bunga sex parties at Berlusconi’s homes — on charges of criminal association and running an escort ring.

They stand accused of supplying a total of 26 women, including working girls, to the former premier in 2008 and 2009.

D’Addario said she met twice with the premier in his Rome residence at the request of Tarantini, but the first time declined to sleep with the elderly tycoon despite “pressure from Giampaolo and the premier”.

When she refused, Tarantini halved her compensation for the night, D’Addario said.

She went on to testify that she had sex with Berlusconi on the night of November 4, 2008, when the then-premier allegedly promised to intervene “to resolve a real estate issue of mine”.

But Berlusconi did not keep his promise, D’Addario said.

A high-profile escort, D’Addario participated in a few of the bunga bunga parties at Berlusconi’s villas and made national headlines when she went public with her story.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Three Former Meridiana CEOs Probed After Offices Searched

Privately held carrier to lay off 1,366 in restructuring

(ANSA) — Olbia, November 28 — Three former CEOs of privately owned Sardinian carrier Meridiana have been placed under investigation in connection with a restructuring at the airline, sources said Friday.

Investigators are looking into the relationship between Meridiana and Air Italy after the Sardinian carrier announced plans to lay off 1,366 staff in a restructuring.

Those being probed are Massimo Chieli, who was CEO until July 2011, Giuseppe Gentile, who is also a co-founder of Air Italy, and Roberto Scaramella, who recently stepped down. Also under investigation is Meridiana SpA holding company president Marco Rigotti. The move comes after Finance Guard police searched the offices of Meridiana, Meridiana Fly and Air Italy. The airline operating domestic, European and intercontinental flights is owned by British business magnate Aga Khan Prince Karim al-Hussayni, who founded it in 1963 to promote tourism to Sardinia.

Meridiana pilots have berated the company’s plan to lay off employees after what they said has been “a decade of deranged executive decisions” and mismanagement by former CEO Roberto Scaramella, who “gave himself a 700,000-euro salary while the company lost an estimated 200 million euros in 2014”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Ex-Telecom Board Member Elio Catania to Face Trial

Accused of giving privileged information to journalist

(ANSA) — Rome, November 28 — A judge on Friday ordered Elio Catania, ex-Telecom board member, to stand trial in March on charges of insider trading, ANSA sources said.

Catania, who is currently president of the digital division of Italian big-business group Confindustria, will be tried for abuse of privileged information, ANSA sources said.

The trial, set to start on March 3, stems from a formal complaint brought by Telecom in which Catania is alleged to have given a journalist information that was reserved only for the Telecom board of directors.

Telecom claims that the information Catania revealed about the company’s negative growth trend provoked a 5% decline in Telecom stock. The journalist was also implicated in the original complaint, but investigating judges later dismissed that allegation.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Naples Crooks Blamed for 90% of Fake Euros

Gang busted by police, part of larger crime organization

(ANSA) — Rome, November 26 — A criminal gang busted in Naples was said Wednesday to be part of a larger ring responsible for 90% of the world’s counterfeit euros. The gang, part of the so-called “Napoli Group”, is known to police throughout Europe, prosecutor Giovanni Colangelo said at a news conference to explain the investigation that led to some 56 arrests.

Charges include conspiracy, forgery of money, spending and introduction of counterfeit money.

Described as the arch-enemy of the European Central Bank, the Napoli Group includes some 11 criminal gangs, each specializing in a part of a counterfeit operation that even circulated in Germany a fake 300-euro banknote — a denomination that doesn’t exist.

Police believe the gangs, based in Italy, had organized crime connections across Europe to help with distribution that spread the counterfeit euros as far as Africa.

The gang apparently used nicknames for the fake currency, including using the Italian terms for shoes, postcards and dumplings for euro coins. They also produced the occasional fake lottery tickets, known as “scratches”, and false stamps.

Albania, Algeria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Morocco, Romania, Senegal, Spain and Tunisia were the countries most affected by the counterfeiting, police said.

Over two years of investigating, police said they seized 5,500 counterfeit banknotes and coins worth a total of about one million euros.

Investigators said the Napoli Group had achieved “complete control of the international market through the distribution of significant amounts of fake money in Italy and all over the world”.

In a twist in the case, police said that Domenica Guardato, the mother of a six-year-old child who died on June 24 after a suspicious fall from a sixth-floor balcony, was implicated in the counterfeit operation. An autopsy showed the child, Fortuna, was sexually abused before she died from the fall in Caivano, a city about 14 kilometres north of Naples.

The child’s death has been under investigation as a possible murder and Guardato has vowed to get justice for her daughter who had been abused in the months before her death, the autopsy showed.

Other Caivano residents were arrested Wednesday on suspicion they distributed the counterfeit currency through spending in supermarkets and stores in the city.

Police said their investigation, which began two years ago, uncovered a printing operation in the Naples suburb of Arzano and a mint to produce counterfeit euro coins near Rome in Gallicano.

Meanwhile, prosecutors said they had not found a link between the Napoli Group and the powerful Camorra mafia clan that is based in the area.

Still, Italy’s Anti-Mafia Directorate (DIA) was involved in the probe because it is responsible for dealing with crimes of conspiracy to produce and sell counterfeit currency.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Send Our Jihadis to Devil’s Island! French Politician Demands Paris Reopens ‘Papillon’ Jail for Terrorists

A senior French politician has called for Devil’s Island to be reopened — as a prison for jihadis returning to Europe after travelling abroad to fight.

Nicolas Dupont-Aignan — who stood as a candidate for the French presidency in 2012 — believes that the former penal colony in South America would be a fitting place for ‘the madmen’ who have fought with radical groups such as Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaeda.

The island in French Guiana is notorious as the place where French army officer Alfred Dreyfus was unjustly held at the end of the 19th Century after being accused of treason, and as the location of the 1973 film Papillon, starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Three-Quarters of Norwegians Against Joining EU

World | November 28, 2014, Friday // 16:42

Almost three-quarters of the Norwegians don’t want to join the EU, shows a poll conducted by Sentio for the newspapers Nationen and Klassekampen, quoted by the Norwegian edition of The Local.

The survey showed that only 16.8% of the respondents said they wanted Norway to join the EU, while 9.2% replied with “I don’t know”.

The remaining 74% said they were against Norway joining the EU.

According to The Local, this is a historical high. For comparison, in a referendum on the matter, conducted 20 years ago, 52.2% of the citizens voted against the EU membership. In the 1972 vote on joining what was then the EEC, opponents won with 53.5% of the vote.

The last time there was a majority supporting EU membership, was in a 2005 EU membership public opinion poll.

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

UK: Al Qaeda Plot to Blow Up 5 Passenger Planes in Christmas ‘Spectacular’

TERRORISTS are plotting to blow up five European passenger jets in a Christmas “spectacular”, security experts say.

The threat has been taken so seriously it came close to leading to an outright ban on all hand luggage, a senior insider has revealed.

Mobile phones and electronic devices could still be banned from plane cabins, with the threat of a 9/11-style coordinated attack on London and other major cities feared imminent.

The warning comes as Whitehall officials admit that a terror strike on the UK is now “almost inevitable” particularly with British jihadis returning from fighting alongside the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

An airport security source told the Sunday Express: “We’ve been told that five planes are being targeted in a high profile hit before Christmas. They’ve been waiting for the big one.

“We have many scares but this one nearly got hand baggage pulled from all airlines. The threat is still alive and real.”

The plot, which has been known about for the past two months, is thought to involve Islamists smuggling bombs on to planes bound for major European destinations before Christmas.

The well-placed security insider said talks had been held about how to deal with it, with suggestions made to ban hand luggage…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

UK’s Cameron to Restrict Benefits for Immigrants

Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday promised tough curbs on welfare for EU migrants to counter a surge in arrivals and warned European leaders that blocking them could put Britain’s EU membership in doubt.

He said the package of reforms would require changes to European Union treaties but said he was “confident” he could deliver a deal.

Immigration to Britain has increased sharply in the past decade and Cameron is under intense pressure to address voters’ concerns ahead of the May 2015 general election…

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

Italy’s Confidence in Egypt Restored at Business Council

‘Focus on security sector’; Fincantieri eyes Suez

(by Cristiana Missori) (ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 25 — An Italian-Egyptian business council meeting held on Tuesday as part of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s visit to Italy resulted in several agreements signed. Energy, transportation, security, agriculture, construction, infrastructure and training for youth, technicians and craftsmen were all touched on during the meeting. Along with Egyptian industry and trade minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, investment minister Ashraf Salman and Italy’s deputy economy minister Carlo Calenda, representatives from the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade (ICE), Sace, Simest, Pirelli, Italferr, Italcementi and Alex Bank of the Intesa San Paolo group all took part.

“We are prepared to open the second phase of our bilateral relations and this phase will begin with the late February mission (announced on Monday by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Ed.),” Calenda said in his opening remarks at the press conference, during which the agreements signed between Italian enterprises and the Egyptian authorities were announced. The agreements are worth a substantial amount of money and affect the key sectors of the economy, especially infrastructure and transportation. There is a wide range of opportunities to be had in the security sector as well, noted the co-chairman of the Italian-Egyptian Business Council, Mauro Moretti. “Security and border and coastal control is an area that Italian industry can offer skills and experience in,” he said.

Through Fincantieri, Italy is prepared to get involved in the project for a new Suez canal parallel to the current one with the building of a shipyard, said Deputy Minister Calenda, noting that “the matter will be discussed in late February”. Italian investors will also play a part in the building of a high-speed Alexandria-Cairo-Aswan-Luxor rail link (1200 km), with investment estimated at about 10 million dollars. A 30-year loan has been requested from the Italian foreign ministry for the project. Then there is also mining in the ‘Golden Triangle’ in southern Egypt and the creation of a logistics hub in Damietta. “In the energy field, the opportunities can come from both renewables and traditional forms. Investment could rise as high as 40 billion euros over the next five years,” said Khaled Abu Bakr, head of Taqa Arabia (Egypt’s largest private energy distribution company) and co-chairman of the business council. Italy already has 902 investment projects underway in Egypt and trade was estimated at 5.1-5.2 billion euros in 2014, noted Calenda, underscoring that the levels were rising once more to those seen in 2012, which marked “a record year for our trade”.

By 2016, he said, “we are aiming to reach 6 billion euros”. Calenda noted that the textile industry and cotton production could be one area to focus on, as well as tanneries and leather goods. Sisi’s Egypt is thus Italy’s “strategic partner”, he said. “We are making difficult decisions,” said Egypt’s industry and trade minister, Abdel Nour, “but we will free ourselves of market distortions and improve investor confidence.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy-Egypt: Sace: 210 Mln to Enlarge Giza Plant

New agreement also with Egyptian investment ministry

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 25 — Insurance and financial group Sace, which supports the growth of Italian firms, has pledged 210 million euros to back the order to Ansaldo Energia issued by the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company (EEHC) for work to enlarge the electrical power plant “6 October”, near Cairo, in the Giza district, Sace announced during the Italian-Egyptian Business Council Tuesday in Rome, organized to coincide with the visit of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el Sisi.

The 13-year-long financing project is entirely covered by the insurance group and will be allocated by a pool of banks led by HSBC. As part of the project, EEHC has entrusted to Ansaldo Energia the project, realization and inauguration of the new open-air electrical power plant worth 600MW, which will enable to double the power generation capacity of the “6 October” site.

Also on the sidelines of the Business Council, Sace has signed a cooperation agreement with the Egyptian government to give new momentum to investment opportunities and exchanges between the two countries.

The agreement was signed by the Deputy Minister for Economic Development Carlo Calenda and Egyptian Investment Minister Asharad Salman.

The accord sets the groundwork for a medium to long-term cooperation between the two countries to support transactions and projects where Italian companies can offer expertise and high-quality provisions: infrastructure, electrical power and from renewable sources, food industry, irrigation and treatment of water.

“There is a natural convergence between what Italy has to offer and what Egypt is demanding to consolidate recovery”, said Alessandro Castellano, CEO of Sace.

In Egypt, the insurance-financial group has a portfolio of insurance endorsements worth some 480 million euros, mainly in the sectors of energy, petrochemicals and industrial technologies, and is working on new projects for a total value of 1 billion euros.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Lucchini Steelmaker to Accept Cevital Offer

Algerian group pledged to preserve all 2,000 jobs

(ANSA) — Livorno, November 25 — Lucchini steelmaker said it wants to accept a buy offer from Algeria’s Cevital Group, sources said Tuesday.

The second-largest steelmaker in Italy employs 2,000 people at its plant in the port city of Piombino. Previously owned by Russia’s Severstal, it has been under special administration since going bankrupt in 2012.

The company received another offer for its core assets in Piombino from India’s JSW Steel Ltd.

Lucchini liked the Cevital offer better because, among other things, the Algerian company said it would preserve all 2,000 jobs at the Piombino plant. The company administrator has asked for a formal green light from the industry ministry, company sources said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

US-Led Airstrikes Have ‘Not Weakened’ Islamic State Group

The Islamic State group “is not weaker” after months of US-led airstrikes, Syria’s foreign minister said in an interview broadcast Friday, adding that it cannot be defeated until Turkey closes its border to prevent the movement of fighters.

A US-led alliance launched airstrikes against Islamic State group targets in Syria in September as part of a wider effort to destroy the jihadist militants that have seized large areas of the country as well as in neighbouring Iraq.

“All the indications say that [Islamic State] today, after two months of coalition air strikes, is not weaker,” Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said in an interview with the Beirut-based Al Mayadeen TV broadcast on Friday…

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

Moldova: Pro-Russian Party Excluded From Sunday’s Elections

“Illegally funded from abroad”. The Supreme Court decides today

(ANSA) — MOSCOW — A Moldovan appeal court has decided to exclude from Sunday’s parliamentary elections the pro-Russian party “Homeland”, accused of receiving illegal funds from abroad.

This issue, anyway, will be examined today by the Supreme Court.

The leader of the “Homeland” party Renato Usatii said this is a political decision, and added that the “mysterious” money paid into the party’s account (about 424,000 euros) were given unbeknown to the movement by an almost unheard-of offshore company. Usatii is in trouble due to some wiretaps issued this week, in which the politician admitted to be a supporter of Moscow’s economic interests in Moldova: the pro-Russian leader justified these words by claiming that he was taking part in a kind of role-playing game on the phone. The “Homeland” party — which is opposed to Moldova’s EU membership — according to the latest polls could win13% of the vote if it were admitted to Sunday’s general election.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

I Removed 2,000 Nails From Patient’s Body, Says Surgeon Promoting Islamic Therapy

Advocating Islamic therapy to complement modern medicine, an Indonesian surgeon said he pulled over 2,000 nails from the body of a female patient in Sumatra two years ago, The Star reported today.

Dr Sagiran Sukardi, however, did not believe that his patient was inflicted with the supernatural — “sihr” (sorcery) or “jinn” (genies), even after he pulled over 70 nails from her legs and feet, the portal reported.

As a surgeon, he was sceptical when he found even more rusty nails in her legs and feet the next day when treating her at his hospital after her first operation in 2012.

“Surprisingly, a day after the operation I found more nails in the same areas again. At the time, I didn’t think sorcery had anything to do with it,” he was quoted as saying at a forum titled “Jinn and Sihr in Medicine” at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) yesterday.

Dr Sarigan from Universiti Muhammadiyyah Yogjakarta’s medical faculty, said his understanding of medical practice was challenged when he treated the woman.

The condition of the patient, Supiyati, 25, defied medical logic, he said, showing doctors, psychiatrists, academics and researchers at the forum pictures and X-rays of her infected wounds and the nails under her skin.

He said he consulted his colleagues and religious teachers about Supiyati’s condition, and then decided to use complementary Islamic therapy to treat her.

He said he recited verses from the Quran when he dressed her wounds or whenever she was in pain.

“That caused her to throw up. You cannot imagine it but there were even more nails along with hair in her vomit,” he said, adding that it was suspected that Supayati’s first husband, who disappeared after she underwent treatment, was responsible for the sorcery.

Dr Sarigan said the case showed that there was a need for a holistic approach, which included spiritual and religious treatment, at hospitals.

The Star Online also quoted forum moderator Associate Professor Dr Supyan Hussin of UKM as saying that “Islamic complementary therapy can be used to treat patients whose illnesses cannot be diagnosed”.

He said Islamic therapy had nothing to do with black magic or witchcraft, which was against Islam.

           — Hat tip: Mark Spahn [Return to headlines]

Hong Kong Protesters Clash With Police, Government HQ Closes

(Reuters) — Thousands of pro-democracy activists forced the temporary closure of the Hong Kong government’s headquarters on Monday after they clashed with police outside, defying orders to retreat after more than two months of sustained protests.

Chaos erupted as commuters made their way to work, with hundreds of protesters surrounding Admiralty Centre, which houses offices and retail outlets, in a tense stand-off with police. The central government offices and the legislature were forced to close in the morning, as were scores of shops.

The latest flare-up, during which police charged protesters with batons and pepper spray, marked an escalation in the civil disobedience movement. It also underscored the frustration of protesters at Beijing’s refusal to budge on electoral reforms and grant greater democracy to the former British colony.

“The atmosphere in Admiralty is very different now after the clashes last night,” said Jessica Lam, 20, who returned to the protest site on Monday morning. “It has become very tense, like back to the early days when the protest just started.”

The democracy movement represents one of the biggest threats for China’s Communist Party leadership since Beijing’s bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy student protests in and around Tiananmen Square…

[Return to headlines]

North Korea: Pyongyang: The Three Women Behind Kim Jong-un’s Throne

With the appointment of his younger sister to the leadership of the Workers’ Party, the North Korean dictator finds himself at the center of a circle of women who advise and guide him: two sisters and his wife, increasingly influential in the regime’s political and economic decisions.

Seoul (AsiaNews) — With the appointment of his younger sister Kim Yeo-jong to leadership of the Workers’ Party, the “circle” of the closest advisers to the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is now dominated by the women members of the family. His wife Ri Sol-ju and older half-sister Kim Sul-song have long been among the most trusted people for the Stalinist leader, who seems to have ended his series of purges against officials of the time of his father Kim Jong-il.

Kim Sul-song is the oldest of the three. Despite the secrecy that shrouds the life of each member of the Kim family — in power in North Korea since 1953, the year of the end of the Korean War and the division of the peninsula — it is believed she was born in 1974. She is the eldest daughter of the former dictator Kim Jong-il and his second wife, Kim Yong-suk.

According to data available, Sul-song studued Economic Policy at Kim Il-sung University and, since the late 1990’s, has worked in the Central Secretariat of the Party. During her father’s reign she acted as personal secretary in charge of security and the “dear leader’s” daily agenda. Today she holds the same position for her brother.

She is also believed to be a “ the hub” for the flow of information to and from government officials. Together with her husband Sin Pok-nam, a long time regime official, she played a central role in the purge of her uncle Jang Song-taek.

Ri Sol-ju, born around 1989, is instead believed to be the protector of Choe Ryong-hae: the former “number two” of the regime had fallen on hard times in recent months and was replaced with Hwang Pyong-so, but thanks to his wife, Kang Kyong-sil’s friendship with the dictator’s companion he is back at the top.

Kim Yeo-jong, finally, is Kim’s younger sister. Appointed a few days ago deputy director of the powerful Central Committee of the Workers’ Party, she is the youngest person in North Korea (27 years old) to achieve such an important position. According to some sources, her appointment blocks the road to the dictator’s male siblings (three in total, two twins, plus the exiled Kim Jong-nam).

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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 7,000, World Health Organization Says

Nearly 7,000 people have now died from Ebola in west Africa, with the latest report from the World Health Organization counting over 1,200 more deaths than in a toll given on Wednesday.

Data published by the UN’s health body late Friday showed that 16,169 people had been infected with Ebola and that 6,928 of them had died in the three countries at the centre of the outbreak — Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

On Wednesday, WHO had put Ebola death toll in the three countries at 5,674, with 15 additional deaths in other countries…

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

Uruguay: Marijuana Law Gets Boost in Presidential Vote

(CNN) — Uruguay’s politicians who led the charge to legalize marijuana and same-sex marriage appeared to win another ringing endorsement from voters in the South American country Sunday.

Exit polls placed Tabaré Vazquez of the left-wing Broad Front coalition in the lead in the country’s presidential runoff. And candidate Luis Lacalle Pou of the conservative National Party told supporters Sunday evening that he had conceded to Vazquez and wished him well.

A win for Vazquez would give Uruguay a third consecutive five-year term with a leftist leader at the helm.

President Jose “Pepe” Mujica — a former Marxist guerrilla who donates the majority of his salary, drives a 1987 Volkswagen Beetle and sells flowers with his wife at their home — leaves office next year…

[Return to headlines]

4 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/30/2014

  1. Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday promised tough curbs on welfare for EU migrants to counter a surge in arrivals and warned European leaders that blocking them could put Britain’s EU membership in doubt.

    This is a cop out. Everybody knows that the primary recipients of UK welfare benefits are immigrants from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. These are the claimants that UK voters want stopped yet Cameron will not confront this issue. Why? He doesn’t want to be called Waycist.

    He is being called a lot worse than that as he will discover after the next general election.

  2. Every Muslim and money grubbing elitist knows that Islam is the source of the least productive, most bloodthirsty savages in fourteen hundred years. Mr Kenyan Muslim stop arming and supporting the Muslim war with the world. Stop riddling the ranks and government armed forces with enemy combatants. Elect real grounded connected wartime leaders.

  3. ..thought to be responsible for 90% of the counterfeit euro notes and coins circulated in the EU and other regions.

    I thought the EU central bank was responsible for that?

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