Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/8/2014

Forget Ebola: more than 300,000 Americans are thought to be infected with Chagas, the “Kissing Disease”, which originated in Latin America and was brought into the country by immigrants. The disease remains asymptomatic for a significant period of time after infection, and treatment at that point tends to be ineffective. Complications of Chagas, which include heart disease, may be fatal.

In other news, after secret negotiations with the United States, North Korea released two Americans who had been held captive in the Hermit Kingdom.

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

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

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

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

» Amanda Knox Working as Cub Reporter in Seattle
» Kissing Bug Disease Has Infected 300,000 Americans
» Pittsburgh Professor Convicted for Fatally Poisoning Wife With Cyanide
» Robin Williams’ Autopsy Found No Illegal Drugs, Alcohol
Europe and the EU
» Berlin Commemorates 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Wall
» Catalans Defy Madrid, Go to Polls on Sunday
» Egypt, Greece and Cyprus Form United Regional Front
» Italian Resercher Gianotti Becomes First Woman to Head CERN
» Italy: Salerno Mayor Indicted for Real Estate Corruption
» Italy: Carige Suspects Assets Seized
» Italy: Art Critic Sgarbi in Court for Dubbing Architect ‘Criminal’
» Italy: Ex-Top Officials Facing Possible Trial in Procurement Probe
» Italy: Two Million Euros in ‘Ndrangheta Assets Seized
» Italy: Camorra ‘Preyed on CEI-Funded Church Complex’
» Italy: Jail Term for Ex-Finance Police General in Venice Mose Case
» Italy: Brindisi Mayor Says ‘Not Frightened’ After Car Torched
» Italy: Prison Police Union Sues Cucchi’s Sister
» Italy: Social Centre Members Attack MEP’s Car
» Italy: Parmalat Net Revenues Up 9.6 Percent in Third Quarter
» UK: The Diplomat Who Said ‘No’ To Saudi Oil
» Viktor Orban Steers Hungary Toward Russia 25 Years After Fall of the Berlin Wall
» Widower Weds Son’s Girlfriend to Allow Her to Stay in Italy
North Africa
» Egyptian President Vows to Crack Down on Traffic Violations
» Sinai: Egyptian Forces Kill 19 Militants and Arrest 249
Israel and the Palestinians
» EU’s Mogherini Calls for Palestinian State
» Netanyahu: Jerusalem Not Settlement But Our Capital
» Palestinian-Israeli Tensions Raise Concerns Over Third Intifada
Middle East
» Agency Claims Iran Still Working Toward Nukes
» Iran: Threat of Lashes or Fine for Walking the Dog
» Kurdistan Exports 300,000 Barrels of Oil a Day Via Turkey
» New Wave of ISIS Attacks Kills at Least 36 in Iraq
» North Koreans Working as ‘State-Sponsored Slaves’ In Qatar
» Turkey: US Embassy ‘Censored’ Frescoes in Historic Building
» Warplanes Hit Convoy Near Mosul in Attempt to Kill ISIS Leaders
» Yemeni President Dismissed From Leadership of GPC Party
Far East
» Chinese Police Break Up Child Trafficking Ring
» First Japan Reactors Since Fukushima to Restart
» North Korea Releases 2 Americans After Secret U.S. Negotiations
Latin America
» Estela De Carlotto Says She Was ‘Wrong’ About Pope Francis
Culture Wars
» Greece is Gays’ Most Desired Holiday Destination

Amanda Knox Working as Cub Reporter in Seattle

‘To give talented writer a chance at a normal life’

(ANSA) — Rome, November 5 — Amanda Knox is working as a cub reporter for a small daily in her native Seattle less than a year after being reconvicted of the 2007 murder of Perugia flatmate Meredith Kercher, the Daily Beast reported Wednesday.

The West Seattle Herald has been employing her for a few months as a freelance reporter, but not because of her notorious status, Web Editor Patrick Robinson told The Daily Beast.

“We approached her originally to give her the opportunity of a normal life,” Robinson said. “We simply asked her as we would ask anyone of that age and stage, if they would be interested in writing for us as a qualified writer of that scale and this level of journalism”.

As for the murder charges against Knox and Italy’s possible future request to extradite her, Robinson said that was not the newspaper’s concern. The outcome of the case has “little to nothing” to do with Knox’s relationship with the newspaper, he said.

“It’s really about giving a young, talented writer an opportunity at a normal life.” In November 2007 Knox’s flatmate Kercher was found dead in the house they shared with two other women. Authorities arrested Knox and boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and charged them in Kercher’s murder. In 2009 Knox and Sollecito were found guilty of murder. Both spent four years in prison before a court acquitted them in 2011 after evidence was thrown into doubt by independent experts. Knox returned to the U.S. following acquittal, but a court in January 2014 upheld the 2009 guilty verdict and sentenced Knox and Sollecito to more than 25 years. Knox, who had started to study creative writing when she went to Italy in September 2007, has not been extradited to Italy while the case is appealed.

Knox was allowed to write under a pen name fo the Herald at first.

“That was purposely to give her the protection of that and to give her the opportunity. She showed us writing samples and they were good,” Robinson said. After she “got her feet wet,” Knox began writing under her own name.

Knox is covering everything from human-interest stories to local theater like a high-school production of Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

“Amanda’s a very bright, very capable, highly qualified writer,” Robinson said, adding he was “flabbergasted” by how good her photography had become over a few months. “She’s certainly been through as lot and been very easy to work with and very interested and eager in doing stories.” The Herald was obviously aware that their newest freelancer — an international celebrity and convicted murderer — would eventually generate outside attention. There was “some note of caution” attached to hiring Knox, thanks to the negativity from the case, Robinson said. But that wasn’t why the paper hired her, he insisted.

“It doesn’t matter what people say or think — the truth is that she’s a West Seattle resident, she grew up here,” Robinson added. “Why not give her the opportunity to be an actual human being versus a celebrity?” That celebrity may attract unwelcome visitors, like people with cameras, but Robinson said all meetings with Knox are conducted privately. Though “she’s not hiding,” he added.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Kissing Bug Disease Has Infected 300,000 Americans

Over 300,000 Americans have already been infected with the potentially fatal ‘kissing bug disease’ called Chagas but U.S. healthcare workers lack of knowledge about the illness is letting many cases of the parasite unnoticed. Some doctors are calling it the ‘new AIDS’ because of the way it develops.

Researchers who gathered on Tuesday at the annual American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene meeting in New Orleans said that if caught early the disease can be cured however sometimes the disease can be asymptomatic and there is a dearth in medication for the condition.

The CDC reports that the initial symptoms of the disease caused by a parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi, which is spread through the feces of kissing bugs includes fever, fatigue, body aches, rash, diarrhea and vomiting. One of the first visual signs can be a skin lesion or a purplish swelling of the lid of one eye.

The disease can develop in the body causing eventual heart failure and other deadly complications that by the time they are realized cannot be helped with medicine.

[Return to headlines]

Pittsburgh Professor Convicted for Fatally Poisoning Wife With Cyanide

(CNN) — Part of Robert Ferrante’s job had been to manage a laboratory that conducted clinical trials using various drugs and chemicals.

Until he was accused of using one of those substances — cyanide — to kill his wife.

On Friday, a Pennsylvania jury determined that this accusation was well founded, convicting the University of Pittsburgh medical researcher and professor of murder in death of 41-year-old Autumn Klein.

As juror Helen Ewing told reporters afterward, “It was very hard for me to accept and to believe that he could have done it.

“But I felt that the facts were clear, and I couldn’t argue with them.”

For many on the outside, there seemed little amiss in the lives of Ferrante and Klein. They both had successful careers, including Klein as a top neurologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Their house was brightened by Klein’s then-6-year-old daughter, Cianna. And they’d just returned from a trip to Puerto Rico.

“I’ve never seen anything to suggest they were anything but a happy couple with a beautiful little girl,” their neighbor Blithe Runsdorf said…

[Return to headlines]

Robin Williams’ Autopsy Found No Illegal Drugs, Alcohol

Robin Williams’ autopsy found no alcohol or illegal drugs were in his body when he killed himself at his Northern California home in August, sheriff’s officials said Friday.

The autopsy results released by the Marin County sheriff’s office found that the actor had taken prescription medications, but in “therapeutic concentrations.”

The coroner ruled Williams’ death a suicide that resulted from asphyxia due to hanging.

Sheriff’s officials have said Williams was found in the bedroom of his home in Tiburon on the morning of Aug. 11. His death had been preliminarily ruled a suicide.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Berlin Commemorates 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Wall

People from across Germany and the globe are flocking to Berlin to remember the fall of the Wall 25 years ago. Iconic figures, among them former Soviet leader Gorbachev, are also in the capital for the historic occasion.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Catalans Defy Madrid, Go to Polls on Sunday

BARCELONA — There is a certain feeling of excitement in the air, the kind which makes the hairs on the skin stand up. Something big is about to happen.

Red and yellow striped flags can now be found all over Catalonia, hanging on balconies, houses and official buildings. Many of the them carry the blue triangle with the white star — a call for independence.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Egypt, Greece and Cyprus Form United Regional Front

(AGI) Cairo, Nov 8 — Egypt, Greece and Cyprus have signed an agreement to form a united regional front against threats in the Middle East, including terrorism and religious discrimination. The news was announced on Saturday by Cypriot President Nicos Anastasides, on the sidelines of the tripartite talks in Cairo. He told a joint press conference with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras that the front was not being set up against any particular country, but against common threats. The aim was to promote development, peace and prosperity in all three countries.

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

Italian Resercher Gianotti Becomes First Woman to Head CERN

Helped discover Higgs Boson

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 4 — An Italian, Fabiola Gianotti, on Tuesday became the first woman to head the CERN particle-physics lab in Geneva. Gianotti, 52, was one of the leaders of the tam that discovered the Higgs Boson. She was named CERN’s director general, succeeding Rolf-Dieter Heuer. Gianotti, who made the cover of Time magazine two years ago, beat Manchester University’s Terry Wyatt and Dutch Institute of Subatomic Physics chief Frank Linde to the top job.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Salerno Mayor Indicted for Real Estate Corruption

Vincenzo De Luca to stand trial with 22 co-defendants

(ANSA) — Salerno, November 7 — Salerno Mayor Vincenzo De Luca was indicted Friday on charges including abuse of office in connection with the Crescent urban development project by Catalan architect Riccardo Bofill.

De Luca is also charged with forgery and tampering with public tenders in connection with the complex.

He will be tried beginning in December along with 22 co-defendants, officials said.

Businessman Aldo Rainone will be judged in a separate fast-track trial in January on attempted bid-rigging charges.

“As always, I have the utmost respect for the magistrature,” the mayor said when he was served notice of the indictment while at an art opening.

“I acted solely in the interests of my city”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Carige Suspects Assets Seized

Police confiscate 29 mn

(ANSA) — Genoa, November 7 — Italian police on Friday seized assets worth some 29 million euros from suspects in a probe into alleged corruption at Genoa’s Carige bank, including former chairman Giovanni Berneschi. Property and valuables were confiscated and bank accounts frozen.

Berneschi and his daughter-in-law Francesca Amisano are among the suspects. In June police seized five million euros from accounts in the names of Berneschi, Amisano and the former chief executive officer of the Carige Vita Nuova subsidiary, Fernando Menconi.

Berneschi, who was Carige’s president until last year, was arrested in May along with Menconi and real-estate businessman Ernesto Cavallini.

Police said they believe Berneschi, 77, was the ringleader of a scam involving purchases made at inflated prices of stakes in companies headed by accomplices, which allegedly made it possible for 21 million euros to be taken out of Italy into Switzerland between 2006 and 2009.

They suspect that part of this money was used to buy properties in Switzerland in the name of senior figures at Carige, a Genoa-based lender with about 1,000 branches and two million clients.

Previous investigations led prosecutors to believe Carige manages used the trust centre to avoid monitoring of the Bank of Italy over illegal operations.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Art Critic Sgarbi in Court for Dubbing Architect ‘Criminal’

Aesthete denounced for terming piazza restyling ‘s***’

(ANSA) — Florence, November 6 — Trial began Thursday for flamboyant art critic Vittorio Sgarbi on charges of defaming architect Maurizio Barabesi as a “criminal” who restyled Piazza Santa Maria Novella with “s***ty benches”.

The trouble began in 2010 when Sgarbi stopped short of identifying Barabesi by name but criticised him fiercely for his work on the piazza for the Florentine Biennale of cultural heritage.

Barabesi considered his reputation to have been damaged and denounced the critic, who initially was acquitted by an investigating judge but subsequently was indicted after an appeal by prosecutors.

Defense lawyers for the critic presented a list of witnesses to be called including former minister Sandro Bondi, former superintendant Paola Grifoni and former Florence alderman Eugenio Giani.

The trial was adjourned until March 19.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Ex-Top Officials Facing Possible Trial in Procurement Probe

Charges include criminal association, fraud, abuse of office

(ANSA) — Rome, November 6 — Former top-ranking officials including the ex-chairman of Italy’s public contracts oversight authority Giuseppe Brienza and former president of the state audit court Luigi Giampaolino are among 86 people facing possible trial in connection with the issuing of false certificates for the purposes of participating in public tender competitions, judicial sources said Thursday. Other suspects include MP Angelo D’Agostino, a member of the small centrist Civic Choice party founded by ex-premier Mario Monti.

Rome prosecutors closed their investigation on Thursday and are now expected to make a formal request for the suspects to be committed to trial on a variety of charges including criminal association, corruption, fraud and abuse of office. The probe focused on so-called Certification of public procurement companies (SOA) tasked with screening companies for eligibility to participate in public procurement processes.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Two Million Euros in ‘Ndrangheta Assets Seized

From two Crotone clans

(ANSA) — Crotone, November 4 — Italian police on Tuesday seized two million euros in assets from two clans in the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta mafia.

Businesses, farms and cars were seized, property impounded and a string of bank accounts frozen.

‘Ndrangheta is Italy’s richest and most powerful mafia.

It dominates the European cocaine trade.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Camorra ‘Preyed on CEI-Funded Church Complex’

34 arrests near Naples

(ANSA) — Caserta, November 3 — A Camorra clan preyed on a company constructing parish buildings near Naples funded by the Italians Bishops’ Conference (CEI), police said Monday.

Some 34 members of the Belforte clan were arrested on suspicion of extortion and drug trafficking.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Jail Term for Ex-Finance Police General in Venice Mose Case

Spaziante, Meneguzzo plea bargain in corruption case

(ANSA) — Milan, November 5 — Emilio Spaziante, a retired general in Italy’s finance police, and Roberto Meneguzzo, former chief executive officer of Palladium Financial, were sentenced to prison terms Wednesday for their parts in the Venice MOSE corruption case.

Spaziante received a four-year term while Meneguzzo was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison after the pair reached a plea-bargain deal with prosecutors.

As well, the court ordered confiscation of 500,000 euros after finding the two men guilty on corruption charges.

According to the indictment, that amount was paid in a bribe to Spaziante, who was one of 35 people, including former mayor Giorgio Orsoni and ex-Veneto governor Giancarlo Galan, involved in the initial investigation.

Galan recently reached a plea-bargain deal including a sentence of two years and 10 months in prison and a fine of 2.6 million euros.

His lawyers said at the time that they still may appeal.

Prosecutors said the case involved the alleged funneling of 25 million euros in taxpayer money to political campaigns and away from the MOSE project to build a system of retractable dikes.

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

A second episode also involved a promise of 2.5 million euros if Spaziante helped to ease tax inspections and criminal probes.

Prosecutors said Meneguzzo became involved when money was exchanged in the Milan offices of Palladio Financial.

Last week, the Italian National Anti-corruption Authority (ANAC) launched a procedure to ask the Roman prefecture to appoint a commissioner for the consortium Venezia Nuova, the company in charge of building the MOSE flood control system in the Venetian lagoon.

The consortium was given time to present a defense. Earlier in October, Mauro Fabris, president of the consortium Venezia Nuova, said the project was respecting the established time-frame, despite some delays on new tenders, and that the consortium was working to ensure transparency to the next MOSE phases.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Brindisi Mayor Says ‘Not Frightened’ After Car Torched

Suspected intimidation of centre-left Democratic Party official

(ANSA) — Brindisi, November 4 — The mayor of Brindisi said Tuesday that he “is not frightened” nor intimidated after his car was set on fire while parked in front of his home.

One theory behind the blaze is possible intimidation of Mimmo Consales, who represents the centre-left Democratic Party (Pd).

His car was destroyed and two others damaged by the weekend fire, which came amid controversy over alleged mismanagement of a municipal subsidiary, Brindisi Multiservizi.

The fire may have been designed to intimidate the mayor but Consales said he has been threatened before was not going to change.

Nor was he alone in taking a stand against crime, he added in an interview with ANSA.

“How many mayors in other parts in Italy are often forced to face situations of extreme danger alone,” said Consales.

And like his colleagues in other cities, he will not be intimidated, he said.

“If they thought to frighten me, they have not succeeded,” he added.

“I go forward stronger than before”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Prison Police Union Sues Cucchi’s Sister

For “instigating hatred” against warders

(ANSA) — Rome, November 3 — Italy’s Sappe union representing penitentiary police officers announced on Monday it is suing Ilaria Cucchi, sister of 31-year-old Stefano Cucchi who died in custody in 2009.

The secretary-general of Sape, Donato Capece, said the union had previously chosen to maintain a “low profile” but could not accept the “judgements and allegations” made by Ilaria Cucchi after an appeals court last Friday acquitted all accused in her brother’s death.

A first-instance trial last year acquitted three warders and three nurses in the case, a decision upheld by the appeals court last week.

At the first-instance trial, however, five doctors and a hospital staff member were convicted of manslaughter, a ruling struck down on Friday.

The Cucchi family expressed outrage after the acquittals and Ilaria Cucchi said she wanted to meet Rome Chief Prosecutor Giuseppe Pignatone to push for an appeal, which means the case could be heard for a third time by Italy’s supreme court, the Court of Cassation.

“All statements made by Ilaria Cucchi are clearly aimed at instigating hatred and suspicion towards a whole category of people operating in the security sector, in particular against those who are in charge of the custody of people under arrest or detention, as provided by law”, Capece said on Monday.

Rome prosecutors have said they are willing to reopen investigations, provided there are sufficient grounds to do so.

Cucchi died in the prison wing of Rome’s Pertini hospital on October 22, 2009, one week after he was arrested on a drug charge.

An autopsy found he was seriously dehydrated, had two broken vertebrae and internal organ damage at the time of death.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Social Centre Members Attack MEP’s Car

(AGI) Rome, Nov 8 — “This is what thugs from the social centres did to our car to destroy it even before we approached the Roma camp. We are fine. Bastards”, Northern League MEP Matteo Salvini wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday. Salvini also posted some pictures of the attack by community centre members close to a Roma camp.

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

Italy: Parmalat Net Revenues Up 9.6 Percent in Third Quarter

(AGI) Rome, Nov 7 — Third-quarter net revenues of Parmalat increased 9.6 percent to 4.2 billion euros at constant scope of consolidation and exchange rates (2.5 percent at current exchange rates). The gross operating margin increased by 13 percent to 342 million euros at constant scope of consolidation and exchange rates (+2.4 percent at current exchange rates).

Net profit slid 10.3 percent to 143 million euros, reflecting primarily the effect of higher income taxes for the period and lower net financial income. Parmalat said it expects net revenues and EBITDA to grow by more than 5 percent in 2014, at constant exchange rates and scope of consolidation and excluding the effects of hyperinflation, up from an earlier 3 percent growth projection.

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

UK: The Diplomat Who Said ‘No’ To Saudi Oil

Hindsight can be cruel. In 1932, amid a global economic slump, the impoverished Saudis came to London looking for a loan. They also had an offer: would Britain like to try drilling for oil? A disdainful Foreign Office mandarin gave the fateful reply, writes Matthew Teller — no loan, and no drilling.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Viktor Orban Steers Hungary Toward Russia 25 Years After Fall of the Berlin Wall

BUDAPEST — A quarter-century ago, as Hungary helped ignite the events that would lead to the collapse of communism, the ferment produced a new political star.

Viktor Orban was 26 then and a longhaired law graduate. In June 1989, five months before the Berlin Wall came down, he lit up a commemoration of the failed 1956 revolt against Moscow with a bold call for free elections and a demand that 80,000 Soviet troops go home.

Now, as the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall is commemorated Sunday, Hungary is a member of NATO and the European Union and Mr. Orban is in his third term as prime minister. But what was once a journey that might have embodied the triumph of democratic capitalism has evolved into a much more complex tale of a country and a leader who in the time since have come to question Western values, foment nationalism and look more openly at Russia as a model.

After leading his right-wing party to a series of national and local election victories, Mr. Orban is rapidly centralizing power, raising a crop of crony oligarchs, cracking down on dissent, expanding ties with Moscow and generally drawing uneasy comparisons from Western leaders and internal opponents to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

He is the only Putinist governing in the European Union,” said Joschka Fischer, the former German foreign minister.

Some other Eastern European countries, especially Poland, have remained oriented toward the West and still harbor deep suspicions of Russia long after the Cold War ended.

But Hungary is one of several countries in the former Soviet sphere that are now torn between the Western ways that appeared ascendant immediately after the fall of the Soviet Union and the resilient clout of today’s Russia. Money, culture and energy resources still bind most regional countries to Russia as tightly as to Europe. Mr. Putin’s combative nationalism is more popular here than what many see as Western democratic sclerosis.

Mr. Orban has laid out a philosophical vision and justification for his authoritarian-leaning approach that suggests a long-term commitment to turning Hungary into something quite different from what the West anticipated when the Iron Curtain collapsed and the Berlin Wall came down.

           — Hat tip: Takuan Seiyo [Return to headlines]

Widower Weds Son’s Girlfriend to Allow Her to Stay in Italy

Brazilian’s permit of stay due to expire, son awaiting divorce

(ANSA) — Massa Carrara, November 4 — An elderly widower married his son’s Brazilian girlfriend to enable her to remain in Italy after her permit of stay expired, local media reported Tuesday.

The man, 87, offered to wed the woman in place of his son who was awaiting a divorce. The marriage took place a year ago in the Tuscan town of Villafranca in the province of Massa Carrara.

Local residents reportedly supported the “kind gesture by an elderly father”, media said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Egyptian President Vows to Crack Down on Traffic Violations

12,000 road deaths every year, special court to be set up

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO — A deadly mix of minivans that fail to abide by speed limit and go the wrong way down streets, buses a few decades old, arrogant drivers, potholes, obstacles, a lack of traffic lights and truckers’ widespread use of drugs results in some 12,000 road deaths per year in Egypt, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Tens of thousands are also injured. After the latest serious accident — in which at least 18 schoolchildren were killed on Wednesday when their school bus ran head-on into a tanker in Beheria (northern Egypt) — President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi called for a commission to assess the situation and draw up possible measures. Al-Sisi, known for his hardline approach to terrorism, has decided to set up special courts for highway code violations and to stiffen punishments for those not abiding by even the least serious of traffic rules. Al Ahram reports that driving in the wrong direction and breaching traffic law could be punished with a six-month imprisonment, that could go up to at least three years in the event the violation leads to injury or death. Another proposed amendment allows jail terms for speeding, and amendments put a penalty of a minimum of one-year imprisonment for driving under the influence of drugs, which goes up to at least two years if the driver injures one or more persons.

Last month, the prefect’s office in the northwestern town of Marsa Matrouh initiated an anti-drug campaign, subjecting car drivers and truckers to testing. On one day, 12 out of 12 tested positive for the use of illegal substances. This marks the second time in less than six months that the traffic law has been amended. Another recent amendment by presidential decree gives a deadline of August 2014 for the removal of additional trailer attachments — a common cause for road accidents — to tractor trailers, reports Al Ahram.

Egypt has 24,000 kilometers of major roads connecting its major cities and 62,000 kilometers if city streets are included in the total. Road works are currently underway on 12,000 kilometers.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Sinai: Egyptian Forces Kill 19 Militants and Arrest 249

(AGI) Cairo, Nov 8 — A total of 19 militants were killed by Egyptian armed forces in an operation in northern Sinai on Saturday, in response to a double attack which killed 34 soldiers on Oct. 24. The news was announced on the Facebook page of the Egyptian army’s spokesman, Mohammed Samir, who said operations in the last few days have also led to the arrest of 249 suspects, the destruction of 24 vehicles and three arms depots. Samir said that three dangerous terrorists were among the militants killed.

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

EU’s Mogherini Calls for Palestinian State

(AGI) Gaza, Nov 8 — EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini has called for the establishment of a Palestinian state, saying that the world could not afford another war in Gaza. “We need a Palestinian state, that is the ultimate goal and this is the position of the whole European Union”, the former Italian foreign minister added. She is in Gaza on a visit to the Middle East, her first official trip abroad.

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

Netanyahu: Jerusalem Not Settlement But Our Capital

Meeting with Mogherini, conflict is on Israel’s existence

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, NOVEMBER 7 — Jerusalem is “not a settlement but our capital”, Israeli Premier Benyamin Netanyahu told EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Friday. “The district where Jews live and where we are building have been there for almost 50 years”, the premier added, claiming the conflict is not due to the issue of settlements or land “but rather our existence and the refusal to recognize Israel within any border”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Palestinian-Israeli Tensions Raise Concerns Over Third Intifada

Tensions are on the rise between Israelis and Palestinians, and talk has turned to the possible outbreak of a third intifada. But not everyone thinks these concerns are well-founded.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Agency Claims Iran Still Working Toward Nukes

Hours after the UN’s nuclear agency said that its attempts to investigate allegations that Iran worked on nuclear weapons, an Iranian opposition group claimed to have information showing the country is still working toward nuclear weapons.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran released information in a Washington press conference saying there were two explosive chambers build by AzarAb industries as part of a highly classified project that only two senior Iranian officials knew about. The two chambers were reportedly used for high explosive tests as part of the program.

Iran denies wanting — or ever working on — nuclear arms. Since February, it has provided information only on the detonators, insisting that they were used for oil exploration or non-nuclear military purposes. The agency says interconnected information suggests that they were being tested for nuclear weapons use.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Iran: Threat of Lashes or Fine for Walking the Dog

A group of Iranian MPs has proposed making it a criminal offence to keep dogs as pets or walk them in public, with offenders subject to 74 lashes or a fine.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Kurdistan Exports 300,000 Barrels of Oil a Day Via Turkey

(AGI) Baghdad, Nov 8 — The autonomous region of Southern Kurdistan is exporting around 300,000 barrels of oil a day via Turkey, and is aiming to reach 500,000 by the end of this year, according to a statement from the Ministry of Natural Resources in Erbil. The statement said an average 300,000 barrels of crude oil were exported via Turkey in the first week of November, whereas only 185,000 barrels a day were exported in August.

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

New Wave of ISIS Attacks Kills at Least 36 in Iraq

(AGI) Baghdad, Nov 8 — At least 36 people were killed in six separate car bombings and detonations in Shia majority zones of Baghdad and Ramadi on Saturday. In the capital, at least 10 people were killed on the Sinaa road in the Karrada neighbourhood. Two explosions in the Amin area and another car bomb in front of a shop caused numerous victims. At the same time, in Ramadi, in the western province of Anbar, a suicide bomber drove a rigged military jeep into a checkpoint and killed five soldiers. The soldiers had been hit by mortar fire in a battle that lasted over an hour before the suicide attack.

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

North Koreans Working as ‘State-Sponsored Slaves’ In Qatar

Thousands of migrant labourers from North Korea are toiling for years on construction sites in Qatar for virtually no pay — including on the vast new metropolis that is the centrepiece of the World Cup — in what may amount to “state-sponsored slavery”.

According to testimonies from workers and defectors, labourers from the reclusive state said they receive almost no salaries in person while in the Gulf emirate during the three years they typically spend there.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Turkey: US Embassy ‘Censored’ Frescoes in Historic Building

Palazzo Corpi was built in 1860 by Giacomo Leoni in Istanbul

(ANSAmed) — ISTANBUL, NOVEMBER 6 — Restorations at a historic building in central Istanbul, which had been used as an embassy and a consulate building for nearly a century by the U.S., have unveiled a unique example of “censorship,” after nude drawings surfaced from under thick wall paint as daily Hurriyet online reports. The U.S. mission left the building in the Tepebasi neighborhood of Istanbul’s Beyoglu district in 2001, and the building has remained mostly idle since then. However, property developer Serdar Bilgili recently hired the facility for 51 years to transform the venue into a branch of the private members’ club, Soho House. During restorations of the building, workers came across “erotic” murals when they removed thick paint from the walls. Bilgili confirmed to daily Hurriyet that the paintings on the walls were covered when the building was used as the U.S. consulate, as they were considered improper.

The Palazzo Corpi was built in 1860 by Giacomo Leoni for Italian businessman Ignazio Corpi. The U.S. consulate left the building in 2001 in a bid to move to a more secure location following the 9/11 al-Qaeda attacks. Soho House was founded in London in 1995 as a private members’ club for those in film, media and creative industries. Its venues vary from hotels and houses, to restaurants and cinemas.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Warplanes Hit Convoy Near Mosul in Attempt to Kill ISIS Leaders

(CNN) — U.S. warplanes attacked a convoy near Mosul in Iraq this weekend in an attempt to kill ISIS leaders, said a spokesman for U.S. Central Command.

Col. Patrick Ryder, in a statement Saturday, said he could not confirm that top ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was in the convoy.

Ryder issued that information in response to news reports indicating the ISIS leader may have died or been injured.

“I can confirm that coalition aircraft did conduct a series of airstrikes yesterday evening in Iraq against what was assessed to be a gathering of ISIL leaders near Mosul, destroying a vehicle convoy consisting of 10 ISIL armed trucks,” Ryder said, using another acronym for ISIS.

Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, is crucial to ISIS. Besides having material resources, such as Iraq’s largest hydroelectric dam, Mosul is the site of one of ISIS’s greatest battlefield victories

In June, the Sunni Muslim extremist group overran the city, causing soldiers and police officers to drop their weapons and flee, according to numerous witnesses. ISIS announced plans to establish a caliphate, or Islamic state, in Mosul after the takeover.

In another airstrike against an ISIS stronghold, at least 15 people were killed and 31 were wounded when planes hit the town of Al-Qaim, in Anbar province, on the border with Syria, a witness said Saturday.

The town is 286 kilometers (178 miles) from Mosul.

The strike hit a market near an ISIS checkpoint in the town, according to the resident who cannot be named for safety reasons. The resident, who went to a local hospital after the strike and saw the wounded, did not know whether there were any ISIS casualties from the strike.

Al Qaim became a stronghold for ISIS, the Sunni Muslim extremist group, after militants took control of the town in June.

U.S. officials in Washington declined comment Saturday when CNN asked whether coalition or U.S. forces carried out the airstrike…

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Yemeni President Dismissed From Leadership of GPC Party

(AGI) Sana’a, Nov 8 — Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, has been dismissed from the leadership of his General People’s Congress (GPC) party after calling for United Nation sanctions against his predecessor, Ali Abdullah Saleh. The decision to sack Mr Hadi was taken by the party’s permanent committee shortly after the UN Security Council announcement of its decision to impose sanctions on Mr Saleh and two Houthi rebel leaders, at the behest of the U.S. Mr Saleh is accused of being the main backer of the Shiite rebels, who seized control of Sana’a in September and have since taken control of coastal areas and regions south of the capital. The former Yemeni president and the two Houthi rebels, Abd al-Khaliq al-Houthi and Abdullah Yahya al-Hakim, are now all subject to a global travel ban and asset freeze. The current Yemeni head of state was also vice president of the General People’s Congress, led by Mr Saleh. On Friday thousands of supporters of the former president and the Shiite Houthi movement demonstrated in Sana’a against what they regard as foreign interference in the country’s affairs. The sanctions imposed on Mr Saleh came the day after President Abdo Rabu Mansur Hadi announced that he had formed a new government of 36 ministers, led by Jaled Mahfuz Bahah. The new executive is the product of an agreement between the president and the Shiite Houthi rebels, and aims to put an end to the political crisis in the country. The peace agreement with the rebels provides for the withdrawal of their troops from Sana’a and other cities under their control. In August the UN Security Council had urged the rebels to end their armed revolt against Mr Hadi, saying sanctions would be imposed on anybody threatening the stability of the country. Mr Hadi is seen as a key U.S. ally in the fight against Al Qaeda. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was pleased that a new government had been formed, describing it as a step towards peace and stability in the country.

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

Chinese Police Break Up Child Trafficking Ring

In the southern province of Yunnan, 32 traffickers, some blood related, bought or abducted children to sell to couples in other parts of the country. Police released the pictures of 11 babies rescued from the baby trafficking ring, hoping to trace the families.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Authorities in the southern Chinese province of Yunnan arrested 32 people accused of being involved in child abductions for the purpose of trafficking.

Local authorities are now searching for the parents of 11 infants rescued from the baby trafficking ring. For this purpose, police released pictures of the babies to local media with the hope of tracing their families.

Police said that many of the traffickers were related to each other; others were close friends or came from the same town in Yunnan.

Media reports indicate the ring sold 21 children in total, some to buyers in other provinces such as Shandong, Fujian and Henan.

It is not clear whether all the children were sold by their families or abducted. What is certain is that some birth parents were paid up to 10,000 yuan (US$ 1,600), and that traffickers resold the babies for at least 10 times that price, up to 140,000 yuan each.

Police became suspicions in August of last year when officers came across a middle-aged couple with non-local accents preparing to board a train at Kunming with an infant who appeared to be only a few weeks old. After questioning, the couple admitted to buying the baby from traffickers.

Police later uncovered a network buying babies from remote villages and transporting them to willing city buyers.

The Yunnan case is not an isolated one but is part of a persistent problem. Critics say the country’s one-child policy and lax adoption laws as well as poverty and preference for boys have fuelled demand for babies.

People buy stolen children as cheap labour, domestic workers, or, in the case of girls, brides for unmarried sons. In many other cases, children are sold to families who want to adopt, or forced into prostitution.

According to a report released by China National Radio, some 200,000 children disappear every year, and only 0.1 per cent is eventually found and freed from traffickers.

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

First Japan Reactors Since Fukushima to Restart

Since disaster in 2011

(refiling with photo) (ANSA) — Rome, November 7 — Two reactors at Japan’s Sendai nuclear plant are set to become the first to be restarted since the 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear facility.

The governor of Japan’s Kagoshima prefecture gave his approval, marking the final hurdle for the restart, which is now likely to happen next year.

Before the accident, caused by a massive quake and tsunami, about 30% of Japan’s power was nuclear-generated.

All 48 plants were shut down but PM Shinzo Abe has lobbied for a restart.

Abe’s government has argued that the shutdown has hurt the economy, forcing Japan to import expensive fossil fuels to make up the power shortfall.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

North Korea Releases 2 Americans After Secret U.S. Negotiations

North Korea has released two Americans who have been held in the country for extended periods, after a negotiation carried out in secret by the director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr.

In a terse statement issued by Mr. Clapper’s office, the Americans, Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller, were described as “on their way home, accompanied by DNI Clapper.” It was an unusual role for Mr. Clapper, the nation’s senior-most intelligence official, whose job is to coordinate intelligence policy and operations among the nation’s 16 intelligence agencies.

Mr. Bae, 46, has been held for two years on charges of operating with an evangelical organization, Youth with a Mission, and preaching against the North Korean government. North Korea said he had been planning a “religious coup d’etat” and he was sentenced to hard labor on a farm. Mr. Miller, 25, entered North Korea seven months ago and reportedly tore up his visa, and by some reports sought asylum. He was charged with unruly behavior.

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Estela De Carlotto Says She Was ‘Wrong’ About Pope Francis

Argentine human rights activist says she was ‘misinformed’

(ANSA) — Buenos Aires, November 7 — Human rights activist Estela de Carlotto on Friday admitted she had been wrong about Pope Francis’ role during the Argentine dictatorship of 1976-1983.

“I was wrong about Pope Francis,” said De Carlotto after being received by the pontiff at the Vatican last Wednesday.

“I’m not asking for forgiveness, because I was misinformed by what I thought were credible sources,” she said.

When the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis, De Carlotto reportedly said: “Bergoglio belongs to that part of the Church which has cast a shadow over Argentina”. De Carlotto, whose pregnant daughter in 1977 was abducted, tortured and murdered by the dictatorship, is the founder of Abuelas de la Plaza de Mayo (Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo).

While the dictatorship also kidnapped, tortured and murdered several Catholic nuns and Jesuit priests, the Catholic hierarchy was seen at the time as indifferent to, if not outright complicit in, the military repression against leftist dissidents.

Argentina in 2007 convicted Catholic priest Christian Federico von Wernich of torture and murder, sentencing him to life in prison for crimes committed while he was chaplain of the Buenos Aires Province Police during the dictatorship.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greece is Gays’ Most Desired Holiday Destination

According to a leading global travel networking association

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, NOVEMBER 6 — Greece and Athens are at the top of the LGBT community’s list as a choice holiday destination, GTP website reports quoting the results of a study released Wednesday at this year’s World Travel Market in London.

Research data released by leading global travel networking association Out Now Business Class (ONBC) ranks Greece 9th on a list of 10 leading country destinations and Athens 9th in the Top 10 European city destinations for 2015. The U.S., France and Australia top the country list while Amsterdam, London and Paris were preferred cities. A Greek strategy to appeal to LGBT visitors has been discussed but decisions and specific policies have never been drawn up. The LGBT2020 survey asked LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) respondents living in key global markets to indicate which destinations they plan to visit next year from a list of over 300 locations. New York, Sydney and Amsterdam were the leading global picks. According to the report, a determining factor in choice of destination was the ability to feel comfortable and welcome. “The number one motivating factor for consumers is needing to know before they go that they can relax and be comfortable being themselves on holidays,” CEO of Out Now Global, Ian Johnson, said. “Nobody wants to worry that the staff that serve them in a location might be uncomfortable with their sexual orientation or gender identity. People would prefer to stay elsewhere,” he added.

LGBT2020 research indicates that LGBT tourism is an increasingly competitive international market estimated at over USD 200 billion in annual spending. According to the World Tourism Organization, the LGBT consumer takes an average four trips a year, the majority in the mid-range, immediately followed by luxury class. The biggest drops this year were Spain (falling 5 places since 2011) and Argentina, which has dropped out of the Top 10 countries entirely.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

2 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/8/2014

  1. About Orbans Hungary : Notice WHO exactly it is that keeps calling Hungary bad names … It is the same sick people who is responsible for importing tens of millions of integration-resistant muslims to europe in order to guarantee their own sucsses in the next elections . Of Course THEY have every reason to hate Hungary , but for the rest of us , their hate can only be a good reason to admire hungary for the strength of leadership and general courage that has made it resistant to the multicultural brainvirus . Hungary wil be a wellfunctining modern society long after countries like Sweden has descendet into a chaotic midleastern-style banana republic .

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