Gates of Vienna News Feed 12/15/2014

In the aftermath of the Sydney hostage crisis, the consensus in the media and the chattering classes seems to be that the incident was an example of a lone wolf attack carried out by an activist who felt marginalized and excluded from Australian society, a mentally unstable victim of intolerance and discrimination who “snapped”. Most ordinary Australians are keen to build bridges to immigrants from the diverse communities from all over the world who have made Australia their new home. And all Australian citizens should be glad that yesterday’s tragic events had nothing to do with Islam.

In other news, in an effort to shore up the ruble, the Russian central bank raised its key interest rate from 10.5% to 17%, causing the price of oil to drop even further.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Fjordman, Insubria, Jerry Gordon, K, Papa Whiskey, Phyllis Chesler, Takuan Seiyo, and all the other tipsters who sent these in.

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

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

Financial Crisis
» EU Says Working to Keep Greece ‘Firmly’ In the Eurozone
» Italian Debt Climbs to 2.1575 Trillion, Tax Revenues Down
» Italy: ‘Gradual’ Lending Recovery in 2015 Says Visco
» Italy: Milan Bourse Falls by 2.8% as MPS Bank Plunges 8%
» Ruble Jumps on Russia Rate Hike, Oil Pressured
» Bill Cosby Speaks Out Against Sexual Assault Claims
» Congress Passes Resolution Denouncing Use of Human Shields
» Parolin Asks for Guantanamo Solution in Kerry Meeting
» Sandy Hook Victims’ Families File Lawsuit Against Gun Maker
Europe and the EU
» 23,000-Year-Old ‘Venus’ Statuette Dug Up in France
» Beer and Beef: Why the Vikings’ Elaborate Feasts Died Out
» Comet 67P/C-G in Living Colour
» Cosmic Mystery Solved? Possible Dark Matter Signal Spotted
» Denmark: Copenhagen Flight Nearly Hit by Russian Military Jet
» Deputy Speaker Criticized for Views on Who Has a Swedish Identity
» France Shaken up by Zemmour and ‘New Reactionaries’
» French Police Dismantle Jihadist Recruitment Ring
» Germans Rise Up Against Islamization
» Germany Tense Over Anti-Islam ‘Pegida’ March in Dresden
» Germany: Merkel Slams ‘Mud-Slinging’ Anti-Islam Demo
» Held Marine Girone Requests to Return From India
» Italy: Three Navy Officials Arrested in Rome Mafia Investigation
» Italy: Ex-MEP Giulietto Chiesa Arrested in Estonia
» Mona Mussee Established Finland’s First Multicultural Model Agency
» Muslims Rule France in Provocative New Novel
» Norway: Revealed: Spy Equipment in Central Oslo
» Sweden: Russian Ambassador Called in Over ‘Near Miss’
» Sweden Investigates Returning ISIS Fighters
» The End of Quotas: A Butter Future for EU Dairy Farmers?
North Africa
» Libya: Military: Militias Regain Border Crossing With Tunisia
Israel and the Palestinians
» 5 Palestinians Arrested in Israel for Planned Attack
» Israeli Sources: We Expect U.S. Veto on Palestinian Resolution
Middle East
» “Difficult Situation” With Swedish IS Fighters
» Al Azhar Refuses to Denounce the Islamic State as “Un-Islamic”
» Concern About Democracy and Press Freedom in Turkey
» Family of Reporter Held in Tehran Speaks to France 24
» ISIS Threatens to Kill Obama ‘The Infidel’
» Jumblatt in Joint Statement: Legalise Hash in Lebanon
» Lebanon, UN Announce Plan to Help Cope With Fallout From Syria Conflict
» Saudi Woman Arrested for Attending Soccer Game
» Turkey Restarts Buying of Iraqi Oil, Says Energy Minister
» Turkey: Police Raid Against “Corrupt” Journalists and Officials
» Turkey: Erdogan Responds to EU Criticism on Media Freedom
» Turkey “Improves” Education
» Turkey Media Arrests: Erdogan Rejects EU Criticism
» Turkish Opposition Steps Up Pressure on Gov’t With New Examples of Nepotism
» Will Falling Oil Prices Impact ISIS Terror Operations?
» Russia’s Ruble Disaster in One Chart
South Asia
» FT: US Has Spent More on Afghanistan War Than on Marshall Plan
» Pakistan: US Funding for Military
Far East
» “Kamikaze” Typhoons Reflected in Japanese Lake Sediments
» China Rules: Why the Pope Ducked Meeting With Dalai Lama
» China Becomes Latest Nation to Impose Burqa Ban in Muslim Western Capital
» Korean Priest Rescues N Korean Women Sold as Slaves in China
» New Silk Road: World’s Longest Train Journey Completed
Australia — Pacific
» Hostage Siege: Australians Stand Up to Islamophobia With #illridewithyou
» Latest on Islamist Hostage Taking in Sydney: Five Hostages Flee
» Security Forces Storm Sydney Hostage Siege Cafe, Gunman Named
» Sydney Hostage Taker Told Obama to Stop Hiding His Religion
» Sydney Cafe: Australians Say to Muslims “I’ll Ride With You”
» Sydney Hostage-Taker Accused of 47 Sex Attacks
» Why the Threat of ‘Lone Wolf’ Attacks Looms Large in Australia
Sub-Saharan Africa
» The Unlikely Love Affair Between Two Countries
» 800 Repelled From Melilla Border
» Massive Genetic Effort Confirms Bird Songs Related to Human Speech
» Men Take More ‘Idiotic Risks, ‘ Study Finds

EU Says Working to Keep Greece ‘Firmly’ In the Eurozone

The EU said Monday its sole aim for Greece is to keep the twice-bailed out country firmly in the eurozone, as Athens battles hostile financial markets spooked by the possibility of early elections.

“The only option that the (European) Commission is working for is to keep Greece firmly in the eurozone,” a spokeswoman said, amid widespread speculation market turmoil could force cash-strapped Athens out of the single currency bloc.

“I think that the commitment of this European Commission to the efforts of the Greek authorities and the Greek people has been made very clear,” she added.

With all eyes on Greece as the global economy runs into fresh trouble, EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici began a visit Monday to review progress on the tough austerity measures Athens agreed to in return for two massive debt bailouts…

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

Italian Debt Climbs to 2.1575 Trillion, Tax Revenues Down

Revenues down 2.7% in October

(ANSA) — Rome, December 15 — Italy’s massive public debt climbed by 23.5 billion euros in October, taking it up to 2.1575 trillion euros, the Bank of Italy said on Monday. Tax revenues in recession-hit Italy dropped to 28,5 billion euros in October, down 800 million euros (2.7%) on the same month in 2013, the bank said. The central bank added, however, that tax revenues for the first 10 months of 2014 were roughly the same as in the same period last year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: ‘Gradual’ Lending Recovery in 2015 Says Visco

‘Essential’ for banks to use TLTRO funds says central banker

(ANSA) — Rome, December 15 — Banks will resume extending credit in 2015 but it will be a gradual affair, Bank of Italy Governor Ignazio Visco told a Lower House hearing on Monday.

“The recovery in bank lending will necessarily be gradual,” Visco said. “We estimate loans to non-financial companies will resume growth not before mid-2015, while loans to families could increase in the first months of the year”.

Banks and financial intermediaries “have made explicit their intention of using low-cost financing obtained through (the European Central Bank’s targeted lending program) TLTRO to support lending to businesses and families”.

“It is essential for that to happen,” Visco said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Milan Bourse Falls by 2.8% as MPS Bank Plunges 8%

Intesa San Paolo and UniCredit lose more than 4%

(ANSA) — Milan, December 15 — Prices on Italy’s main financial market tumbled Monday after share values of MPS and other major banks plunged in what analysts said was a frenzy of speculation.

The FTSE Mib fell by 2.8% to close at 18.078 points.

Shares in troubled Monte dei Paschi di Siena bank fell by as much as 8% while shares in Intesa SanPaolo and UniCredit lost more than 4%.

Among the few companies showing an increase in share price were Tod’s, up 1.5%, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which rose 0.55% while Saipem was up by 1.16%.

On Friday, the European Central Bank (ECB) gave MPS preliminary approval for its capital plan amid media reports of Chinese interest in investing in the Tuscan bank.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Ruble Jumps on Russia Rate Hike, Oil Pressured

(Reuters) — Oil prices continued to slide on Tuesday, while the ruble jumped against the dollar after Russia sharply hiked its benchmark interest rate to halt a collapse in its currency.

The dour mood kept equities down in Asia, with MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS down 0.1 percent in early trade.

The Russian central bank raised its key interest rate to 17 percent from 10.5 percent, in a move it said was aimed at curbing increased devaluation and inflationary risks.

Sales of oil and gas are Russia’s chief source of export revenue, while tougher U.S. sanctions on Moscow, which were set out in a bill passed by U.S. Congress Friday, added to Russia’s economic woes.

The ruble RUB=EBS weakened beyond 60 rubles per dollar, after rising above 67.00 at one point on Monday when oil prices fell sharply. The dollar was last up 13.2 percent against the rouble to trade at 65.9 rubles per dollar…

[Return to headlines]

Bill Cosby Speaks Out Against Sexual Assault Claims

Bill Cosby has spoken out for the first time against allegations of sexual abuse, saying he only expects the “black media” to remain “neutral”. In an interview with the New York Post, the comedian praised his wife Camille for her “strength” in standing by him. Cosby, who has been accused of assault by more than a dozen women, said he’d been advised not to discuss the claims.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Congress Passes Resolution Denouncing Use of Human Shields

Congress passed a resolution denouncing the use of civilians as human shields by terrorist groups, calling it a violation of international humanitarian law.

The resolution was passed by both houses of Congress without objection on Wednesday.

“The United States Congress stood resolved in condemnation of the despicable actions of the terrorist group, Hamas, and its use of children, women and men as human shields. While Israel went to extraordinary lengths this summer in Gaza to protect innocent civilian lives, Hamas placed the Palestinian people directly in harm’s way by using them as human shields and placing its rockets near densely populated areas and near schools, hospitals and mosques,” according to a joint statement from Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who cosponsored the resolution on the Senate side, said in a statement: “The Senate has sent a united signal that we denounce Hamas’ barbaric tactics and unequivocally support Israel’s right to self-defense.”

The resolution calls on the international community to condemn Hamas’ use of human shields and places responsibility for the rocket attacks from Gaza against Israel on Hamas and other terrorist organizations. It also condemns the United Nations Human Rights Council’s biased resolution establishing a commission of inquiry into Israel’s Gaza operation…

           — Hat tip: K [Return to headlines]

Parolin Asks for Guantanamo Solution in Kerry Meeting

Holy See looks favourably on camp’s closure

(ANSA) — Vatican City, December 15 — Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin on Monday expressed the Holy See’s desire to see humane solutions for inmates that make it possible to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp during a meeting with United States Secretary of State John Kerry, Vatican Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said. Lombardi added that the Holy See “looks favourably” on the option of closing the camp, containing detainees from the war on terror.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Sandy Hook Victims’ Families File Lawsuit Against Gun Maker

The families of nine of the 26 people killed in a 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School have filed a lawsuit against a rifle manufacturer.

The negligence and wrongful death suit was filed in Connecticut against Bushmaster Firearms International.

The families allege the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle used by Adam Lanza, 20, in the incident should not have been made publicly available because it was designed for military use.

Twenty children died in the attack.

“There is one tragically predictable civilian activity in which the AR-15 reigns supreme: mass shootings,” the court documents state.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

23,000-Year-Old ‘Venus’ Statuette Dug Up in France

A 23,000-year-old limestone statue of a woman with large breasts and buttocks has been discovered in a small heap of rocks during the second day of a dig at a Palaeolithic site in Renancourt, west of Amiens in northern France, archaeologists piecing together more than 20 fragments to reveal a 12 centimetre long statuette that matches the characteristics of so called ‘Venus’ figurines.

Venus figurines are usually carved from bone, ivory, or a soft stone such as limestone. Some examples have also been shaped from clay. Around 100 such figures have been found in Europe, mostly in settlements in caves or open air sites around Russia and central Europe. They all depict curvaceous women with large breasts, bottoms, abdomens, hips and thighs, while their heads are often small and usually faceless.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Beer and Beef: Why the Vikings’ Elaborate Feasts Died Out

Vikings have a reputation for their ruthless marauding ways, but new evidence from an ongoing archaeological dig shows that the Vikings who settled in Iceland spent more time brewing beer and basting beef than pillaging and plundering. These meals of beef and booze were served during elaborate feasts that were likely held as a strategy to gain some political footing in their new home, research suggests.

The Icelandic Vikings probably wanted the same “tough guy” status they had in their homeland of Scandinavia, where tribe leaders often held elaborate feasts in huge halls, according to Davide Zori, the archaeological field director for the Mosfell Archaeological Project, in Iceland.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Comet 67P/C-G in Living Colour

Rosetta’s OSIRIS team have produced a colour image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as it would be seen by the human eye. As anticipated, the comet turns out to be very grey indeed, with only slight, subtle colour variations seen across its surface.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Cosmic Mystery Solved? Possible Dark Matter Signal Spotted

Astronomers may finally have detected a signal of dark matter, the mysterious and elusive stuff thought to make up most of the material universe.

While poring over data collected by the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton spacecraft, a team of researchers spotted an odd spike in X-ray emissions coming from two different celestial objects — the Andromeda galaxy and the Perseus galaxy cluster.

The signal corresponds to no known particle or atom and thus may have been produced by dark matter, researchers said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Denmark: Copenhagen Flight Nearly Hit by Russian Military Jet

A Russian military jet nearly collided with a commercial passenger plane that had just taken off from Copenhagen Airport, Danish and Swedish military said on Saturday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Deputy Speaker Criticized for Views on Who Has a Swedish Identity

Politicians have called for the resignation of the Sweden Democrat vice-speaker of the Parliament, because he says Jews, Sami and other minorities are not Swedish unless they “assimilate”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

France Shaken up by Zemmour and ‘New Reactionaries’

By Hugh Schofield

There is a new intellectual force in France — giving shape and weight to ideas that challenge the disastrous post-1968 left-wing consensus.

That at least is the hope of the so-called neo-reactionnaires (new reactionaries) — a loose group of writers and thinkers who want to shake up debate on issues like immigration, Islam and national identity.

Of course others see the group rather differently.

For their enemies they are rabble-rousers, providing spurious philosophical cover for the extremism of the National Front (FN).

Most famous of the exponents is journalist Eric Zemmour, whose new book French Suicide reads like a desperate cavalry charge, sabre aloft, into the massed ranks of the progressives.

Seizing popular culture

Zemmour is scorned by most of the Paris establishment but his book is a runaway bestseller. To date it has sold 400,000 copies.

“The big divide today is between the elite and the people,” he tells me at Le Figaro newspaper’s headquarters, where he works.

“And that is why my book has done so well. Because I have become a kind of representative of the people. They have adopted me. They say that what I write is what they think.”…

           — Hat tip: Takuan Seiyo [Return to headlines]

French Police Dismantle Jihadist Recruitment Ring

Extremists sent youths to fight in Syria

(by Chiara Rancati) (ANSAmed) — PARIS — At least around ten people were arrested on Monday in the latest police raid on jihadist recruitment rings in France. The arrests took place in the Toulouse region in the southwestern part of the country, the northern region of Normandy and in Paris banlieue, with those detained accused of running a network to send aspiring jihadists to Syria. Investigators refused to provide specific details on those arrested, only noting that the operation was the result of a year of investigations. French media say that those detained were all born between the second half of the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s, and that one of the men had previously spent time in prison for other charges. The ring was brought to the attention of the police, reports BFM TV, by a tip-off from a Turkish family concerned about their son’s radicalization. The group had organized a trip into Syria for some jihadists — two of whom have reportedly been identified — and at the time of arrest they were on the verge of sending in about ten others. The organization was very discrete and had branches across the entire country, and it is possible that the day’s arrests succeeded in dismantling only a portion of it. Over the past two years, France has been dealing with a growing number of radicalized Muslim youth (both men and women) leaving to fight in the conflict in Iraq and Syria. According to the data provided last month by Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, there are currently at least 400 French nationals fighting with the Islamic State (ISIS) or other jihadist groups, while at least 200 are thought to be ready to leave and another 120 have already returned. In total, Prime Minister Manuel Valls stated, there are “over a thousand” French nationals involved in militant Islamic extremism, and “about fifty” have died in Syria, which would make France the Western nation with the most citizens among the ranks of jihadist groups.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Germans Rise Up Against Islamization

by Soeren Kern

There is a mounting public backlash over what many perceive as the government’s indifference to the growing influence of Islam in German society. This backlash represents a potentially significant turning point.

Despite efforts by German politicians and the media to portray PEGIDA as neo-Nazi, the group has taken great pains to distance itself from Germany’s extreme right. The group says that it is “apolitical” and that its main objective is to preserve what is left of Germany’s Judeo-Christian culture and values.

“Many people in Germany have legitimate concerns about the spread of radical Islamic ideology, which promotes violence against non-Muslims, robs women and girls of their natural rights, and seeks to require the application of Sharia law… Because the rule of law, tolerance and freedom of religion are fundamental Western values, the PEGIDA movement must leave no doubt that it is precisely these values that it seeks to defend.” — Bernd Lucke, leader, Alternative for Germany Party and professor of macroeconomics, Hamburg University.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germany Tense Over Anti-Islam ‘Pegida’ March in Dresden

A march against “Islamisation of the West” is due to take place in Dresden, with turnout expected to reach about 10,000 in the eastern German city.

A big counter-demonstration is also being organised, similar in size.

Dresden is the birthplace of a movement called “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West” (Pegida), which staged a big rally a week ago.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas called Pegida’s protests “a disgrace”. But the Eurosceptic party AfD is sympathetic.

“Most of their demands are legitimate,” said Bernd Lucke, leader of the conservative Alternativ fuer Deutschland (AfD), which has campaigned for a tougher policy on immigration, as well as rejection of the euro.

In the western city of Cologne, about 15,000 people attended a demonstration on Sunday to promote tolerance and open-mindedness, under the motto: “You are Cologne — no Nazis here.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germany: Merkel Slams ‘Mud-Slinging’ Anti-Islam Demo

Chancellor Angela Merkel warned people against playing into the hands of xenophobes hours before an ‘anti-Islamization’ march in Dresden on Monday evening.

A weekly “Europeans Against Islamization of the Occident” (Pegida) march is expected to draw more participants than ever before on Monday night as politicians dither over how to deal with the growing movement.

“Of course there’s freedom to demonstrate in Germany,” Merkel said in Berlin on Monday. “But it’s no place for agitation and mud-slinging against people who come to us from other countries…”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Held Marine Girone Requests to Return From India

Latorre asks for treatment permit to be extended

(ANSA) — New Delhi, December 15 — Italian marine Salvatore Girone has presented a requested to return to Italy for the Christmas holidays to the Supreme Court in New Delhi, ANSA sources said Monday. Girone has been held in India since early 2012 over allegations he and fellow marine Massimiliano Latorre shot and killed two Indian fishermen during an anti-piracy mission. Latorre, meanwhile, has requested his permit to be in Italy for treatment, after he suffered a stroke-like attack this year, be extended, the sources said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Three Navy Officials Arrested in Rome Mafia Investigation

Huge probe into allegations mob muscled in on city contracts

(ANSA) — Rome, December 15 — Finance police on Monday arrested three Navy officials in relation to a massive probe into an alleged mafia organisation that allegedly muscled in on city of Rome contracts worth millions of euros, ANSA sources said. Around 100 people are under investigation and dozens have been arrested in relation to the so-called Mafia Capitale probe, including former centre-right mayor Gianni Alemanno. Monday’s arrests concern an alleged scam that defrauded the State of some seven million euros via false certifications attesting that 11 million litres of fuel had been supplied to Victory I, a tanker which in reality sunk in 2013, according to investigators. The scam was possible due to the alleged complicity of three Navy officials arrested on Monday — Mario Leto, Sebastiano Distefano and Salvatore Mazzone. The false certifications allegedly said the ship was refueled in Augusta, Sicily. Arrests warrants have also been issued for three other people linked to a company, O.W. Supply, that won a contract to supply the Navy with fuel, including its Danish head, although these people have not been detained so far.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Ex-MEP Giulietto Chiesa Arrested in Estonia

To be expelled within 48 hours, his wife tells ANSA

(ANSA) — Rome, December 15 — Former MEP Giulietto Chiesa has been arrested in the Estonian capital, Tallinn, his wife Fiammetta Cucurnia told ANSA on Monday. Chiesa was picked up by police at his hotel, where he was told he will be expelled from Estonia within 48 hours. Cucurnia said Chiesa left Rome on Monday morning for Tallinn, where he was invited to a conference titled “Is Russia Europe’s enemy?” The arresting officers did not have a warrant, but they told Chiesa his expulsion decree is at the Estonian foreign ministry, his wife said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Mona Mussee Established Finland’s First Multicultural Model Agency

Mona Musse’s modelling office is on her cellphone. She has orgainsed fashion parties already for 17 years.

A department store advertisement shows happy, colourful children jumping around in winter clothes. Among them is a girl with dark curly locks, with an African background.

Finland’s multiculturalism is beginning to show in marketing and advertising.

“Advertisers want to sell their products to all families,” says Fashion Models agency’s owner Merja Kupiainen-Groundstroem.

Yet regardless of that, says Kupiainen-Groundstroem, the interest in using ethnic models is increasing slowly. There is already a high demand for young adult and child models, but there are only a few ethnic female adult models in Finland.

One of them is 25-year-old Mona Musse, educated as a translator. She arrived in Finland when she was at kindergarten age. In the autumn Musse created her own multicultural model agency, Choco Promotion. Chocolate refers to her own East African skin tone.

In the modelling world physical characteristics are described bluntly. Black is black; milk coffee is milk coffee. Finns, on the other hand, are elovena.

Even at Musse’s agency, there is more elovena on offer than there are other models.

Rewarding a pioneer

Musse established the modelling agency because she wants to offer dark skinned models the possibility to find work in Finland. “It’s also rewarding to be a pioneer.”

Although there has been plenty of work, Musse wishes that large Finnish companies would offer more work for Finnish models, instead of commissioning photo shoots abroad, or hiring Estonian models. Can it be the case, that it is easier for the industry to accept a child model as a Finn than an adult model, if the model doesn’t look like a typical Finn?

“That might be a reason,” says media researcher Annamari Vänskä. Although it’s possible to see change, she says the advertising world is still ‘white’.

“You can find black models in more artistic editorials. Yet in commercial advertising, dark skinned models are lighter and have more Western features than in fashion stories,” Vänskä explains.

Laila Snellman, director of a Finnish modelling agency, says that in the 1980s, “Finland had everything, including black models in advertising.”

After the 1990s recession, the modelling market has had a “long lasting white season.”

Snellmann says she misses seeing the “patchwork of colours” in Finland.

But will multiculturalism also change the Finnish beauty ideal? Kupiainen-Grounstroem believes that a slow change is taking place.

Kristiina Markkanen — HS

Alicia Jensen — HT


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

Muslims Rule France in Provocative New Novel

France’s infamous literary rogue, Michel Houellebecq, has again displayed his talent for provocation with the announcement that his next novel, Soumission (Submission), is about a future France where a Muslim party wins the presidency.

The year is 2022 and President François Hollande is in the final stretch of his second and last stint in power. The top two parties vying to take over from him are the far-right Front National and the Muslim Fraternity.

The Muslim party wins the presidential election by allying itself with the Socialists and the centrists, and its leader names as prime minister François Bayrou (who in reality is currently the leader of the centrist MoDem party).

France is in turmoil.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Norway: Revealed: Spy Equipment in Central Oslo

Spy equipment that can be used to eavesdrop on the mobile phones of politicians and ordinary Norwegians has been discovered in several places in the Oslo area, including close to the country’s parliament, newspaper Aftenposten has revealed.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Russian Ambassador Called in Over ‘Near Miss’

Sweden’s Foreign Department has called in the Russian ambassador for talks after a Russian military plane nearly collided with a plane near Sweden on Friday. The near-collision occurred early on Friday afternoon in international airspace.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sweden Investigates Returning ISIS Fighters

Sweden’s Security Service, Säpo, says it believes around 40 people have returned to Sweden after going to Syria to fight for Islamist terror groups including Isis.

Officials from Säpo say that Syria is now the most popular destination for young muslims previously living in Sweden, in contrast to two years ago when they were more likely to head to to Somalia or Afghanistan. The group’s latest data suggests that 110 Swedes have travelled to Syria since 2012 to fight alongside Isis (also known as Islamic State).

It also indicates that between 25 and 30 of them died during the fighting, while 40 have returned to Sweden.

“We have a growing problem that we must deal with reasonably, without creating panic. It is an embarrassing situation we will have to live with”, Chief Operating Officer Anders Kassman told Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

The End of Quotas: A Butter Future for EU Dairy Farmers?

Thirty years after introducing quotas to combat the butter mountain caused by overproduction, the EU is on the cusp of freeing up the dairy sector amid growing global demand for milk products.

To see it doesn’t all go sour for producers, Euronext recently announced plans to create futures contracts for several products to help them manage market fluctuations.

Despite introducing the quotas in 1984 to grapple with chronic overproduction, the EU remains the world’s top dairy producer and number two exporter.

Those caps will end on March 31, allowing Europe to tap into growing demand for milk products in emerging markets, in particular in China…

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

Libya: Military: Militias Regain Border Crossing With Tunisia

Troops in “tactic and temporary withdrawal”

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, DECEMBER 13 — Pro-Islamist militias with Fajr Libya have regained control of the Ras Jedir border crossing with Tunisia from which they were evicted yesterday by government forces, Libyan army general command spokesman, Ahmed el Mesmari, said. He explained that troops withdrew “in a temporary and tactic way” to prevent militias from surrounding military units. According to the spokesman, four leaders of Fajr were arrested while 235 others fled to Tunisia.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

5 Palestinians Arrested in Israel for Planned Attack

Israel’s internal security service said Monday it has arrested five Palestinians for planning attacks including a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv.

The suspects from the West Bank were arrested in October and November and included a woman who planned to blow herself up in Israel’s commercial capital, the Shin Bet said.

The announcement came after a series of deadly incidents in Jerusalem in November, where lone Palestinian attackers killed a number of Israelis.

It also came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks to resist a Palestinian ultimatum through the UN Security Council to end Israel’s occupation, citing the spread of “Islamic terrorism” in the region…

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

Israeli Sources: We Expect U.S. Veto on Palestinian Resolution

On Territories withdrawal in 2 yrs. Kerry-Netanyahu talks in Rome

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV- Israel expects the US to veto a Palestinian resolution at the Security Council and this should be Benyamin Netanyahu’s request for US secretary of State John Kerry in Rome, official Israeli sources were quoted as saying by local media.

“US politics over the past 47 years has consisted in opposing unilateral steps”, the sources told Haaretz. “There is no reason for a change and we expect this will not happen”. On Sunday, the Israeli premier said Israel would not accept to withdraw within pre-1967 lines, while the Palestinians have announced they will present on Wednesday a resolution for the end of Israeli occupation within two years.

Netanyahu to Kerry and Renzi,no withdrawal to pre-1967 lines

(by Massimo Lomonaco) (ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV — Israel will not accept to withdraw within pre-1967 borders, Israeli Premier Benyamin Netanyahu said yesterday ahead of meetings today in Rome with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Italian Premier Matteo Renzi.

The Israeli premier also said he is sure a Palestinian-Jordanian proposed resolution and a French proposal — which are asking, though in a different form, for the UN Security Council to vote for the Jewish State’s withdrawal from the West Bank by 2016 — will not pass.

In response, last night, the Palestinians announced they would be presenting to the UN security Council on Wednesday a draft resolution demanding the “end of the occupation” by Israel, according to a PLO official.

Netanyahu told a government meeting in Jerusalem that during his one-day trip to Rome he will tell Kerry and Renzi that Israel “will stand against the possibility of a diplomatic assault, by means of UN decisions, to force us to withdraw to the 1967 lines within two years”. And the reason for this, the premier said, is that a potential withdrawal would bring “Islamist extremists to the suburbs of Tel Aviv and the heart of Jerusalem”.

“Mister security” — as he has been dubbed by Israeli analysts who saw echoes of an upcoming electoral campaign in his speech yesterday as Israel is voting in March — stressed one of the pillars of Israeli politics in front of what it believes are “unilateral acts” by the Palestinians.

At the same time, Netanyahu also sent a message to European MPs who are increasingly expressing themselves through statements and motions in favor of the recognition of Palestine as a State, which is also at the center of diplomatic objectives pursued by PNA President Abu Mazen.

“We will not allow this”, Netanyahu said of the UN Resolution. “We will strongly and responsibly rebuff this. Let there be no doubt, this (objective) will be rejected”.

Netanyahu then explained he would remind Kerry and Renzi that “Israel stands as a solitary island against the waves of Islamic extremism that are washing over the entire Middle East.

Until now, we have successfully withstood and repelled these attacks”.

As observed by some analysts, so far Kerry, at least in part, has a clear purpose in his renewed diplomatic effort in the Middle East which will not exhaust itself with the double meeting today in Rome, but which will continue tomorrow in London. In the British capital, the US secretary of State — according to both Israeli and Palestinian media reports — will meet a delegation of Arab foreign ministers and another coming from Ramallah. The first, according to the same sources, will ask Washington not to veto the Resolution. But in both meetings, including the one with the Palestinian delegation — with chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, Riyadh’s Foreign Minister al Malki and security chief Majid Faraj — it is possible that Kerry will try to determine whether there are margins of flexibility for different positions and whether there is room to re-launch a mediation, given that today he will discuss Israel’s position, as expressed by Netanyahu.

After all Kerry over the past few days — after the death of Palestinian Minister Ziad Abu Ein — spoke on the phone with Palestinian President Abu Mazen.

It is possible the two leaders discussed the intention of Ramallah’s leadership — shaken by what it considers as Israel’s “murder” of minister Abu Ein — to reconsider the security cooperation with the Jewish State. According to many, including the US, the move would make an already difficult situation on the ground even more complicated. It is no coincidence there is talk of a secret meeting between Israeli security chief Yoram Coen and the Palestinian leader.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

“Difficult Situation” With Swedish IS Fighters

The Intelligence Service says 110 people have gone from Sweden to fight with the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq.

This number is changing every day, says head of operations Anders Kassman to Svenska Dagbladet.

His agency is keeping track of the 40 or so fighters who have returned to Sweden.

“We have a growing problem that we have to deal with in a sensible way and not spark panic,” he says to Svenska Dagbladet.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Al Azhar Refuses to Denounce the Islamic State as “Un-Islamic”

For all its talk about “combatting radicalism,” Al Azhar University—perhaps Sunni Islam’s most authoritative voice—will not even denounce the Islamic State as “un-Islamic.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Concern About Democracy and Press Freedom in Turkey

Trials against reporters and Turkish soccer fans follow on the heels of a crackdown this weekend on Turkish media critical of President Erdogan. Observers are worried about where the state is headed.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Family of Reporter Held in Tehran Speaks to France 24

FRANCE 24 on Monday spoke to the family of Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post journalist held in Tehran since July. Rezaian’s mother, Mary, and his brother Ali Rezaian said they are petitioning Iran’s leadership for his release.

Click on the video player above to watch the full FRANCE 24 interview.

Rezaian, the Tehran correspondent for US newspaper the Washington Post, was detained on July 22 along with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, a correspondent for the United Arab Emirates-based newspaper the National.

Rezaian, 38, has dual US-Iranian nationality and has worked for the Post in Tehran since 2012.

The family has been working with to petition Iran’s President Hassan Rohani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for Rezaian’s release. They have also set up a website with information on his case…

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

ISIS Threatens to Kill Obama ‘The Infidel’

In jihadist video showing soldier’s beheading

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT — Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists boasted in a video released on Monday that they would kill US president Barack Obama in central New York, calling him an ‘infidel’. The video showed the decapitation of a Syrian government soldier, accused of being an ‘unbeliever’ because he is from the Alawite minority, as is the ruling clan of Syria. “The Islamic State is here and remains in Syrian territories,” states a jihadist bending over the lifeless, decapitated soldier in the video.

The video, about four minutes long, shows an interrogation of a regime soldier by a number of militants, some of whom have their faces covered and some of whom do not.

The footage of the beheading follows.

“He was condemned because he is an Alawite pig,” says the jihadist, who then proceeds to threaten to kill Obama because he, too, is an “unbeliever”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Jumblatt in Joint Statement: Legalise Hash in Lebanon

Lebanon’s controversial and outspoken Druze leader Walid Jumblatt called in a “joint statement” on Twitter Saturday for the cultivation of marijuana to be legalised.

“It’s time to allow hash to be grown and to overturn arrest warrants against people sought for doing so,” the veteran politician wrote in Arabic on his Twitter account.

The marijuana industry generated hundreds of millions of dollars during the country’s 1975-1990 civil war.

Despite Lebanese law punishing drug trafficking with prison terms, villagers in the Bekaa valley in the east have little respect for the law and clans there grow marijuana openly and process it…

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

Lebanon, UN Announce Plan to Help Cope With Fallout From Syria Conflict

Lebanon and the U.N. have launched a plan that calls for an estimated $2.1 billion to help the country cope with the fallout from the conflict in neighboring Syria.

Lebanon has taken in more than 1.2 million Syrian refugees since the uprising against President Bashar Assad began in March 2011. That influx has put a severe strain on Lebanon’s infrastructure, economy and government services such as health and education.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Saudi Woman Arrested for Attending Soccer Game

A Saudi woman arrested while attending a soccer game in the kingdom claims she did not know women were prohibited from going to the male-only stadiums, the state-linked Okaz newspaper reported on Monday.

Saudi Arabia enforces a strict segregation of the sexes and has no designated areas for women at soccer stadiums, though authorities have announced plans for “family” areas from where women can watch matches.

However, there have been exceptions for foreign women.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Turkey Restarts Buying of Iraqi Oil, Says Energy Minister

The Turkish Petroleum Refineries Corporation (TUPRAS) has bought 520,000 barrels of oil brought to market by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said late on Dec. 11.

The oil will be transported via the port of Ceyhan and sold by Iraq’s national oil company, Yildiz added, noting that a total of 2.6 million barrels have been extracted in the Kurdish region so far.

The sale is one of the first made under a deal between the government of Iraq and the KRG, which ends a dispute over oil-revenue sharing. The Kurds are giving Baghdad half of the barrels extracted from the region, in exchange for $500 million in funds to pay the salaries of regional civil servants…

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

Turkey: Police Raid Against “Corrupt” Journalists and Officials

One year after Turkey’s bribery scandal, President Erdogan attacks the movement linked to the spiritual leader Fethullah Gulen with arrests and searches against the press and even former police chiefs.

Istanbul (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Turkish police have launched a media operation to detain 31 people, including media figures and former police chiefs, simultaneously raiding addresses in 13 provinces across the country.

The raid on daily Zaman occurred at 7.15 a.m. local time, as supporters of the newspaper stood guard in front of the office building upon rumors that such an operation would take place.

Police returned to the newspaper’s office at around 2.00 p.m. on Dec. 14: Zaman editor-in-chief Ekrem Dumanli was taken to police station after being shown the notification of his detention.

As the raids were being carried out in the morning, the crowd outside the Zaman offices chanted slogans and held banners reading, “The free press cannot be silenced.” Dumanli also made a speech, broadcast live on television, defiantly calling on the police to detain him.

Samanyolu Media Group Head Hidayet Karaca and a producer, scriptwriter and director were also detained, as well as Tufan Ergüder, the former head of the Istanbul Police Department’s anti-terror branch and the former head of the Hakkari Police Department.

The Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office has released a public statement, giving the list of individuals to be detained in the operation.

“The detentions have been ordered [for the people on the list] in order to take their testimonies on charges of founding and directing an armed terror organization, being a member of this organization, and engaging in forgery and slander,” the statement said.

Zaman and Samanyolu are known for ties to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, who has been at odds with the Turkish government, particularly since last December. The government accuses the Gülen movement of trying to stage a “coup” via a large corruption probe that broke in December 2013, which included a number of former Cabinet ministers and their relatives, along with many state officials.

For the past year, the government has been waging a campaign against the Islamic spiritual leader Fethullah Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. In the pro-government press, even the word Pennsylvania has become synonymous with a conspiracy to create what is called a “parallel” state by overthrowing the elected government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, former Prime Minister and now President.

The Gulen-affiliated movement counters that these accusations are simply a smokescreen to cover up corruption in high places, including the president’s own family. For the past 12 months, suspected Gulenists in the bureaucracy have been let go from key positions and laws enacted that will shut down a chain of university tutorial colleges affiliated to the movement.

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

Turkey: Erdogan Responds to EU Criticism on Media Freedom

“Mind your own business”, the president says

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, DECEMBER 15 — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejected on Monday criticism from the European Union over a police operation targeting journalists and others on Sunday, saying that his country will deal with its own problems and telling the EU to “mind its own business.” “They cry press freedom, but (the raids) have nothing to do with it…

We have no concern about what the EU might say, whether the EU accepts us as members or not, we have no such concern. Please keep your wisdom to yourself,” Erdogan said in a speech as daily Today’s Zaman online reports. More than 20 people, including the editor-in-chief of Zaman daily and the top executive of Samanyolu television, were detained on Sunday in a police operation that the main opposition leader said amounted to a “coup.” In a joint statement released on Sunday, Federica Mogherini, the EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, and Johannes Hahn, commissioner for European neighborhood policy and enlargement negotiations, said the crackdown on Zaman daily and other media outlets is an “unacceptable attack” against freedom of media. “This operation denies the European values and standards Turkey aspires to be part of and which are the core of reinforced relations,” they said. The US State Department was also critical of the detentions, calling on Turkish authorities to protect media freedom. “The EU should not find the right in itself to intervene in the acts taken by the police and judiciary against the entities that jeopardize our national security. It should mind its own business,” Erdogan said, defending the crackdown as part of a necessary response to “dirty operations” by political enemies.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Turkey “Improves” Education

by Burak Bekdil

Members of Turkey’s National Education Council last week did not discuss Turkey’s extremely poor PISA rankings, or improving the curriculum in mathematics and science. Instead, a pro-government teachers’ union proposed making religion a required course in pre-school.

Turkey’s response to the European Court of Human Rights, which vehemently told Ankara to scrap all compulsory religious education, was to introduce Islamic teaching to six-year-olds.

Another casualty was the “human rights and democracy” classes that Turkish fourth-grade students must take.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Turkey Media Arrests: Erdogan Rejects EU Criticism

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has lashed out at the European Union after it criticised the mass arrest of opposition journalists at the weekend.

“The EU should mind its own business and keep its own opinions to itself,” Mr Erdogan said, denying that the raids had infringed press freedom.

EU leaders have said the arrests were incompatible with “European values”.

At least 24 journalists said to have close links with a US-based cleric are being held for plotting to seize power.

Sunday’s raids targeted the Zaman newspaper and Samanyolu TV channel, which are described as close to Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, the spiritual leader of the Hizmet movement.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Turkish Opposition Steps Up Pressure on Gov’t With New Examples of Nepotism

Despite the government’s counterattack against the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) claims of widespread nepotism and favoritism in civil service recruitment, appointment and promotion, the CHP has continued to give new examples of abuse of public office since the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chair Haluk Koç, who triggered the debate on Dec. 7 when he disclosed a list of hundreds of relatives and friends of Cabinet members and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmakers who have been appointed to state positions without passing the required exam, revealed yet another similar list on Dec. 14.

Speaking at a press conference, Koç stated that none of the government officials related to the list he announced would be able to refute the claims…

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

Will Falling Oil Prices Impact ISIS Terror Operations?

The drop in oil prices by nearly 45 percent since mid-June has raised questions over what impact this could have on the terror group ISIS’ operations within Syria and Iraq.

Since expanding its territorial control over the summer, ISIS has built several small refineries to extract oil to use as fuel for vehicles and to fund its operations. The Defense Department in September stated that the terrorists make a $2 million-a-day profit from oil sales on the black market.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Russia’s Ruble Disaster in One Chart

Russian President Vladimir Putin has tried everything from selling dollars to threatening speculators in his bid to stem this year’s plunge in the ruble.

None of it has worked.

The attached graph provides an up-close look at the ruble’s collapse over the past two months. It dropped 25 percent during that time to 53.40 rubles per dollar, extending this year’s slide to 38 percent. The only currency in the world that’s fallen more is that of Ukraine, the country where all of Putin’s financial troubles began when his troops invaded the Crimea peninsula in March.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

FT: US Has Spent More on Afghanistan War Than on Marshall Plan

The US has spent nearly USD 1 trillion on the war in Afghanistan, the longest overseas conflict the country has led, since it began in 2001.

Furthermore the country will have to spend another several hundred billion dollars after the conflict ends officially in the end of December.

The calculations have been made by the Financial Times and independent researchers.

Nearly 80 % of the spending on the war in Afghanistan has been during the presidency of Barack Obama, who sharply increased US military presence in the country following his election in 2008.

The enormous spending will add to the prevalent scepticism in the US, where opinion polls show that majority of Americans think that the war was a bad decision…

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

Pakistan: US Funding for Military

THE sanctioning of $1bn in military aid to Pakistan by the US Congress will be hailed in many quarters in Pakistan as a sign of improving relations between Pakistan and the US and evidence of trust in the leadership and strategy of army chief Gen Raheel Sharif.

But a few will want to ask a more basic question: why does Pakistan still need US funds to fight militancy inside Pakistan?

The billion-dollar military funds that Pakistan will receive in the year ahead is a decade-old programme, beginning in a period when the country first began to militarily confront the militant threat and when the military was neither fully prepared nor properly resourced to fight militants.

But a decade is a long time and during it the Pakistani military has developed indigenous strategies to fight militants, so why is the state still so reliant on outside funding for military operations here?…

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

“Kamikaze” Typhoons Reflected in Japanese Lake Sediments

Lakebed sediments from Japan’s Amakusa Island suggest that the sea rose over the beach and washed into the lake twice during the late 1200s, lending credibility to historical accounts that typhoons wiped out the invading fleets of the Mongol Empire in 1274 and again in 1281. According to legend, the typhoons were driven by divine Kamikaze winds sent to protect Japan from invasion. A study published in the journal Geology by a team from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Worcester State University shows that the improbable storms occurred during a time of greater flood activity between 250 and 1600 A.D.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

China Rules: Why the Pope Ducked Meeting With Dalai Lama

Pope Francis may be known for championing dialogue, but faced with the certainty of riling China, analysts say, he ducked out of a meeting with the Dalai Lama.

Sensitivities over the fate of the Catholic minority in China were foremost on the pope’s mind when he decided against greeting the Tibetan spiritual leader, according to observers.

A spokesman for the Holy See confirmed Thursday that the pope would not meet the Dalai Lama — whom the Argentinian pontiff “obviously holds… in very high regard” — despite the Tibetan’s presence at a meeting in Rome of Nobel peace laureates.

Francis, an advocate of interfaith ties, isn’t the first pope to wrestle with the question of whether to grant an audience to the Tibetan Buddhist leader…

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

China Becomes Latest Nation to Impose Burqa Ban in Muslim Western Capital

by Phyllis Chesler

China has just banned the burqa (ambulatory body bag and face mask) in the mainly Muslim province of Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi. The government has also banned Islamic head coverings and beards in an effort to contain restive Islamic fundamentalism (“political Islam”) from turning into a full-scale Jihad against the state.

“Beijing blames Islamist separatists for several deadly bomb and knife attacks that have killed hundreds of people in the past two years,” Reuters notes. According to experts and exiles, China’s “heavy-handed policies” may be the cause of ethnic and religious unrest.

Communism still views religion as the “opiate” of the people and as having the dangerous power of dividing a citizen’s loyalty between private faith and the state. Thus, China has controlled permitted religious practices—but it has also jailed clerics, instituted bans, restricted certain religious practices entirely. In neighboring Tibet, occupied by China, Buddhist monks, nuns, and former nuns have immolated themselves in protest to the “brutal repression” of their religion.

While I do not agree with many of China’s policies, their ban on face veils, body bags, and beards in public may make sense. Many European cities and countries have also banned the face veil (with varying degrees of success).

Communist Russia was unsuccessful in holding back the tide of political Islam in Afghanistan. Although they did offer education and other benefits to poor people, including women, the Afghan mode of resistance was associated with the burqa, the turban, and the beard. China is well aware of this.

           — Hat tip: Phyllis Chesler [Return to headlines]

Korean Priest Rescues N Korean Women Sold as Slaves in China

In his 2015 Message for Peace, Pope Francis mentions women “forced into marriage” and “sold for arranged marriages”. About 90 per cent of North Korean women who flee to China are sold to brothels or Chinese husbands for US$ 2,000. A Korean priest, together with humanitarian organisations, buys them and brings them to South Korea.

Seoul (AsiaNews) — Fr Domingo Cho, 40, is a Dominican from Seoul. A priest for 12 years, he has carried out his pastoral ministry among North Korean refugees seeking asylum in the South, helping them through the hard task of integrating in a society that, despite the (almost) identical language, is as alien and distant as can be.

One of his most important and saddest tasks is to rescue North Korean women sold in China as brides or sex slaves, something that Pope Francis referred to in his 2015 Message for Peace.

In the latter, the Holy father call it a global scourge in which people are “forced into prostitution, many of whom [. . .] minors, as well as male and female sex slaves,” with some “women forced into marriage” and others “sold for arranged marriages” (n. 3).

According to studies by some non-governmental organisations, at least 90 per cent of all women fleeing North Korea’s dictatorship become victims of human trafficking, sometimes as prostitutes, often as bride-slaves to Chinese husbands.

The problem is that in the Chinese countryside, the number of women is very low because of the country’s one-child policy and selective abortions, Fr Cho explained. In fact, in some areas in north-eastern China, the ratio between young men and women is 14 to 1. This makes women trafficking very profitable.

After China decided to send back all North Koreans refugees in 2007, fugitives from North Korea have become easy prey to blackmail. Some women go so far as to become virtual slaves just to avoid being sent back.

“Usually a woman is sold for US$ 2,000,” Fr Cho said. In most cases they live as slaves: making babies, cleaning the house, and handing over their wages to the husband.”

In one of the many stories that he is familiar with, one woman was sold to five men, who took turns using her.

“We try to free them,” he said, through a network of friends and mediators. “We raise funds in South Korea, and “buy” them from their owners, before bring them to the South.”

The clergyman knows of some women who were repatriated to North Korea because they tried to rebel against their owners. “Once home, they are executed, or forced into hard labour. And if they are pregnant by their Chinese husbands, they are forced to abort to save the purity of the (North) Korean race.”

When women come to the South, they are first questioned by South Korean intelligence to determine whether they are spies or genuine refugees. Then they are placed in resettlement centres, to introduce them to the South Korean society.

“I help them break out of their shell, and offer them assistance in meeting their needs. But loneliness is their main problem. They have no one, and they are in a completely alien environment, in a world where they know no one. They badly need to talk to someone and be comforted.” And “over time, some express a desire to become Christian,” the priest added.

Some North Korean women may have married a Chinese Catholic, who treated well and humanely. For this, they are grateful towards their husbands and want to experience the faith that allowed them to live with dignity.

In some cases, the Chinese husband and their children arrive in Seoul, the priest explained. However, more often than not, the women come alone after years in slavery.

“Even these are often interested to know the Catholic faith and other religions (like Protestantism and Buddhism),” Fr Cho explained. However, the real reason seems to be their need for help, and the urgency to integrate.”

For Fr Cho, the integration challenges refugees face are compounded by the problem of their acceptance by South Koreans. “South Koreans do not accept them willingly and so North Koreans do not feel at home. We really need to change our hearts.”

“The Church’s task is to change people’s hearts and welcome people, and this not for political reasons. We should get rid of the ideological blinkers with which we in the south see North Koreans.”

“Two Koreas have existed for 60 years,” he said in concluding. “We have a history of competition, war and conflict. Both sides of the peninsula preserve a confrontational mind-set. My generation, for example, was educated in anti-communism. However, after some studies I came to realise that North Koreans were part of the same people; that we come from the same culture. That is why I decided to work for Korean reconciliation.” (BC)

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

New Silk Road: World’s Longest Train Journey Completed

China is known for chasing superlatives — now it can add marathon train journeys to its growing list of unparalleled achievements.

On December 9, a Chinese freight train, dubbed Yixin’ou, completed a journey of epic proportions: more than 13,000 kilometers, snaking across eight countries and lasting a total of 21 days, making it the longest continuous train ride in the world.

The train set off from Yiwu in eastern China on November 18, chugging its way through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany and France, before ending its journey in Spain’s capital, Madrid.

The train carried 30 containers full of toys, stationery and other items.

It’ll bring back Spanish products, including wine, olive oil and cured hams, in an effort the Spanish hope will expand their trade footprint in China.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Hostage Siege: Australians Stand Up to Islamophobia With #illridewithyou

(CNN) — A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou has taken off after an armed man who may have links to radical Islam took hostages in Sydney.

Anti-Muslim sentiment flared as chilling images from Australian media showed people, believed to be hostages, with their hands pressed against the glass of the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Sydney’s central business district. They were holding up a black flag with Arabic writing on it reading, “There is no God but God and Mohammed is the prophet of God.” The gunman reportedly was demanding an ISIS flag.

There were fears that Australian Muslims could become the targets of racially motivated retaliatory attacks.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Latest on Islamist Hostage Taking in Sydney: Five Hostages Flee

Here is the latest report from Fox News on the Islamist hostage taking at the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place in the heart of Sydney’s business district, “Sydney siege: Police in contact with gunman as five hostages escape”:

Five people have escaped from a cafe in central Sydney where an armed gunman had taken several people hostage Monday and forced two people to hold up a black flag bearing Islamic slogans written in Arabic in the store’s window.

Three men were seen running from a fire exit of the Lindt Chocolat Cafe approximately six hours after the hostage situation began at 9:45 a.m. local time (5:45 p.m. ET Sunday). Shortly afterward, two women, one after another, sprinted from the cafe and into the arms of heavily armed police. Both were wearing aprons with the Lindt chocolate logo, indicating they were cafe employees. One of the men who escaped also appeared to be an employee.

New South Wales Deputy Police Commissioner for Specialist Operations Catherine Burn said that police negotiators had made contact with the unidentified gunman, though it was not clear how the hostages escaped. Burn also said that fewer than 30 people were held inside the cafe, though she did not give a precise number.

Estimates of the number of people held in the cafe have varied wildly. Chris Kenny, an associate editor and columnist for The Australian newspaper, left the cafe moments before the gunman entered. He estimated that there were approximately a dozen customers when he was inside, and between three and four staff. However, Lindt Australia CEO Steve Loane said later that there were between 40 and 50 customers and employees inside the store.

Burn said that the first priority was the wellbeing of the people who escaped, after which police would question them to gain more information about the situation inside. She added that police believe that there is only one gunman and had no further information about a possible motive. Television footage shot through the cafe’s windows showed several people with their arms in the air and hands pressed against the glass, and two people holding up a black flag with the Shahada, or Islamic declaration of faith, written on it.

Zain Ali, the head of the Islamic Studies Research Unit at the University of Auckland, said the Shahada translates as “There is no deity of worship except God (Allah), and Muhammad is the messenger of God.” It is considered the first pillar of Islam’s five pillars of faith, and has been used by groups like Al Qaeda and Islamic State but wasn’t invented by them, Ali said.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

Security Forces Storm Sydney Hostage Siege Cafe, Gunman Named

He was identified as Man Haron Monis, an Iranian refugee and self-styled sheikh facing multiple charges of sexual assault.

He was also found guilty in 2012 of sending offensive and threatening letters to families of eight Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan, as a protest against Australia’s involvement in the conflict, according to local media reports.

During the siege, hostages had been forced to display an Islamic flag, igniting fears of a jihadist attack.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sydney Hostage Taker Told Obama to Stop Hiding His Religion

by Daniel Greenfield

Sheikh Haron, the Sydney hostage taker, had an extensive website which is currently down where he posted open letters to assorted politicians. These included a letter to Obama written during his original campaign.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sydney Cafe: Australians Say to Muslims “I’ll Ride With You”

As a gunman holds people hostage in a cafe in Sydney, thousands of messages of support have been posted online for Muslims in Australia who are afraid of an Islamophobic backlash.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sydney Hostage-Taker Accused of 47 Sex Attacks

The man who took up to 20 people hostage in a Sydney cafe has been named as Iranian refugee Man Haron Monis, aged 49.

Channel Nine reporter Airlie Walsh told Sky News charges against him included accessory to murder and sexual assault.

“The list of charges against the Sheikh are extremely long and extremely worrying,” she said.

He is believed to be currently on bail for 47 sexual assaults.

Ms Walsh added: “He’s a very secretive man on a personal level, but he is notorious for his acts of violence.”

Monis moved to Australia in 1996 from Iran.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Why the Threat of ‘Lone Wolf’ Attacks Looms Large in Australia

The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to the upheavals in the Middle East, despite being on the other side of the world. They are as vulnerable as Canadians or Europeans to what are often called “lone-wolf” terror attacks. And recently-introduced anti-terror laws, while some of the toughest in the world, can only do so much.

Radicalized Australians have been drawn to ISIS for many months, as well as to al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra. Intelligence estimates put the number of Australians fighting with militant groups in the region at between 60 and 100. And long before Syria and Iraq became the jihadists’ destinations of choice, Australians were among foreign militants converging on Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan.

Besides those who leave Australia, there has been growing concern about networks which facilitate travel and raise money, raising the risk of attacks on the homeland.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) estimates that around 100 people support jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq, providing money or assisting with travel, for example.

[If this creatures are hooked up with so extensive a support system as this article describes, why are they being called “lone wolves”? — PW]

           — Hat tip: Papa Whiskey [Return to headlines]

The Unlikely Love Affair Between Two Countries

The chaos and conflict that once consumed the port of Mogadishu are now gone and a few foreign investors are starting to move into Somalia. Turkey is leading the way — but why is there such a strong bond between these two countries?

It all started with the famine of 2011. The then Turkish prime minister, now president Erdogan, flew to Somalia. Unlike other foreigners, who keep at a safe distance from the country, preferring to do Somali-related business from neighbouring Kenya, he walked through the streets of Mogadishu. In a suit. Not body armour.

Somalis still talk to me about how he picked up dirty, starving children. How his wife kissed members of the despised minority clans.

And hence the love affair began. Somalis called their boys Erdogan, their daughters Istanbul.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

800 Repelled From Melilla Border

In three groups, trying to climb border fence Morocco-Spain

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, DECEMBER 15 — A mass ‘assault’ on the border fences of Melilla by 800 would-be immigrants was repelled at dawn today by Guardia Civil agents and Moroccan security officials, security sources at the Spanish enclave in Morocco said in a statement.

A first group of some 400 migrants, at around 3 am, tried to climb the double border fence in the area of Barrio Chino but was stopped by border police.

A second group of some 200 sub-Saharan migrants tried to cross the border in the area of Ferhana, followed by a third group of 200 others who, at 3.45 am, tried to jump the metal barriers in the Beni-Enzar area.

Heavy security, aided by a helicopter, prevented the migrants from climb into Spanish territory.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Massive Genetic Effort Confirms Bird Songs Related to Human Speech

The sequencing of genomes of 48 bird species explains the evolutionary roots of vocalization and could offer insight into human speech disorders

A four-year long effort involving more than 100 researchers around the world put the power of nine supercomputers into analyzing the genomes of 48 species of birds. The results, published this week in a package of eight articles in Science and 20 papers in other journals, provides the most complete picture of the bird family tree thus far. The project has also uncovered genetic signatures in song-learning bird brains that have surprising similarities to the genetics of speech in humans, a finding that could help scientists study human speech.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Men Take More ‘Idiotic Risks, ‘ Study Finds

Men tend to take more risks than women do, and they also seem to be ahead of women in engaging in risky behavior that is extremely “idiotic,” according to researchers who revealed in a new study that the majority of the receivers of a Darwin Award are men.

To win a Darwin Award, a darkly humorous honor that has existed for more than 20 years, a person must die in “an extraordinarily idiotic manner,” and thereby protect the human gene pool and improve the species’ chances of long-term survival.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

11 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 12/15/2014

  1. I checked the Daily Mail today and discovered the ‘we ride with you’ face book offering to the Muslim community by those too dim witted to realize their own stupidity. As of midday there were around 121,000 likes. That simply means we have 121,000 useful idiots to Islam in this country who are so ignorant on world events and the real issues that will day overwhelm them if they don’t open their eyes and minds.

    Out of a population of 23 million that is not a significant number of idiots and should in no way be taken on board by any media outlet, as some have, as being representative of the wider population, who I am sure, and by the many red arrows applied to positive for Islam comments are numerically in the vast majority. So many in fact against the positive for Islam comments that the story has now been taken off line, well at least I couldn’t find it when I searched for it at 5pm today.

    • I am an Australian and wish to clarify a few points. Most of the media and politicians here have stopped saying ‘it has nothing to do with Islam’ as there has been a significant deriding/ putting down/mocking of this nonsense by most Australians. They now try to down-play the link to Islam and to minimise the crime. Not calling it a terrorist attack, but rather the ‘work’ of a lone wolf madman. The big issue for us here is how this terrorist and his partner were out on bail after over 40 charges of rape and accessory to murder for him, and murder for her. WHAT THE ….

      We also want to know why he wasn’t on any terrorism watch-list.

      We know who the victims of this terrorist attack were, the hostages. We laugh at the pathetic attempts by some in our communities to make muslims the victims – I’ll walk with you campaign by the young and clueless but well-meaning and for most of us
      Janet Albrechtsen sums up how we feel.

      Janet Albrechtsen – from October this year:
      Our ideas are better than yours. We believe in a society based on respect, dignity, equality, the rule of law, freedom of association (so even men like you can meet and plan a caliphate), freedom of religion (so even men like you can use religion as a reason for revolution), free speech (so men like you can try to spread your hate-filled ideology).

      However, the moment you incite violence, you commit a crime against the very fabric of our society. Short of that, we will meet and defeat your words and ideas with ours.

      On reflection, there’s little point trying to win over, or even explain, our values to these extremists. Their minds are closed, lost to dark dreams of an Islamic caliphate where men rule and sharia law triumphs over human rights.

      So this letter is for the rest of us. A reminder of the inherent virtues of our society, where free speech and other human rights allow even abhorrent ideas to be aired. A reminder, too, that we need to defend these values with vigilance. We could shut down extremists. But that’s too easy. That’s what an Islamic caliphate would do. In any case, shutting down words won’t work. It will only drive people underground, allow them to make martyrs of themselves, attracting more attention from the misguided and the aggrieved.

      • Perhaps the questions now being raised by our PM and NSW Premier as to why exactly that Islamic fundamentalist and his just as lunatic fundamentalist wife were not locked up on the charges made against them, will gain some ‘hot potato’ answers. The question then should be; is our PM up to the task of dealing honestly with the answers and all the implications those answers will bring with them?

        His previous back down to rule 18C ( freedom to express an opinion) when the muzzies lined up against him tells me he isn’t!

        Janet Albrechtsen is one of our better journalists. She could put to shame those so called journalists from the Media Left if they actually possessed any shame!

  2. So the primary response of Sydneysiders to the siege of the downtown Lindt cafe is not to lament the terror experienced by the 40 odd hostages, culminating in the senseless murder of 38 year old barrister, Katrina Dawson as well as the murder of the brave store manager Tori Johnson, by some deranged Muslim sex offender (who Australia was stupid enough to allow into the country in 1996) and ISIS supporter.

    No, the primary response is to issue a clarion call against some imaginary “Islamophobic backlash”! (Of course there has never been any “backlash” against any Muslims in Australia for the egregious behaviour of their co-religionists here and elsewhere). The social media is buzzing with the “I’ll ride with you” hashtag, calling on all worthy Sydneysiders to sit next to an obviously Muslim person on public transport to protect them from hostile glares and verbal abuse. I note with dismay that some girl called Rachel Jacobs champions this cause. Assuming from her name that Ms Jacobs is Jewish, one wonders what would it take for her to abandon her absurdly naive posturing?

    • We just can’t stop the self mutilation. Another bizarre shade of the so called Stockolm Syndrome. Interesting outcomes in store for all and sundry just down the road?

    • Please do not call the murders of the hostages “senseless.”
      In the understanding of Muslims, they deserved to die at least as much as their captor deserved to face the law in our eyes. There is, as far as I am concerned, no random or senseless violence in Islam. Know your enemy, and then the world makes sense, and then the next move is clear. Today, we have Muslim immigrants. Tomorrow, they will all be Muslim hostages, desperate to get back home and out of the west.

      • If only. Sadly I think the time is fast approaching to apply the remedy for “one bad apple in the barrel”. There seem to be an increasing number of supposed “lone wolves” and rather a lot of bad apples. None of it has anything to do with islam of course.

    • I am waiting for Jewish followers of my message: If you are a Hassid or an ultra orthodox or wearing a star of David and get abused because of it I’LL RIDE WITH YOU. And I not a fan of them.

  3. “The only currency in the world that’s fallen more is that of Ukraine, the country where all of Putin’s financial troubles began when his troops invaded the Crimea peninsula in March.”

    Crimea is like Guantanamo and Panama: a military facility located on foreign soil. Except the Russia military has had bases in Crimea for two hundred years, as opposed to only 80 years or so for Guantanamo and 100 years for Panama (before we gave it back). Further, the Russian contract with the Ukraine allowed them to station up to about 30,00o troops in Crimea, a limit that they did not exceed, even after Victoria Nuland’s coup in the Ukraine. Based on this, I am not sure where the “invasion” stuff comes from.

    Of course, you could argue that the agreement between Russia and Ukraine no longer applied after Vicky’s US-funded coup and therefore the contract was null and void and all Russian ships, soldiers and sailors should have left immediately. But, following the same legal logic, the agreement between the US and Cuba no longer applied after Castro’s Soviet-funded coup in Cuba and we should abandon Guantanamo.

    Really, we have enough neocons and neoliberals trying to start yet another War For Democracy. Let us not get sucked into the propaganda too easily. Particularly not with a nuclear power. With a President trying to overthrow Assad and replace him with crazies like we did in Iraq, Libya, and Egypt, we should welcome someone who is trying to keep a lid on things in Syria.

    Goodness knows, since we are now committed to a generations-long war to turn Muslims into Midwesterners all across the Middle East we are going to need all the white Christian help we can get!

  4. “While I do not agree with many of China’s policies, their ban on face veils, body bags, and beards in public may make sense. Many European cities and countries have also banned the face veil (with varying degrees of success).”

    New York and other states and cities used to ban parades and demonstrations of people wearing ambulatory body bags and hoods. Those laws were passed to stop the KKK. I wonder why they no longer enforce them.

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