Gates of Vienna News Feed 12/2/2014

The second wife of Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been arrested in Lebanon near its border with Syria. Mr. Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, is said to have three wives and an unknown number of children. One of his daughters was also detained in Lebanon when her mother was arrested.

In other news, recession-wracked Italy reportedly lost 3.7% of its business firms during 2013. Unemployment in Italy now stands at 13.2%.

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

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

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

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

Financial Crisis
» Capital Controls Feared as Russian Rouble Collapses
» Recession-Ravaged Italy Shed 3.7% of Companies in 2013
» Russia Warns of Recession in 2015
» The Greek Patient: Europe Debates Third Bailout Package for Athens
» UK: State Pension ‘Extinct in 30 Years’, Warn One in Six MPs
» Cable Failure Knocks Out Power to Downtown Detroit
» Delta College Attack a Hate Crime, Police Say
» Holder: New Justice Dept. Policy Will ‘End Racial Profiling, Once and for All’
» Lawmakers Make ‘Hands Up’ Gesture on House Floor
» Mankind’s Alcohol Habit 10 Million Years Old
» Meet Chuck Hagel’s Expected Replacement as Defense Secretary
» Rev Al Sharpton Delivers Sermon at Michael Brown’s Church, Warning Prosecutors: ‘You Won the First Round, But Don’t Take Your Gloves Off. Justice Will Come’
» Students Face Charges After Fake Gun Pointed at Couple in Victoria
Europe and the EU
» Church, Politicians Reject Call to Ban the Burka in Germany
» Crisis in Sweden as Budget Poised to Fail
» EU Court Hands Italy Massive Waste-Management Fine
» European Probe Shoots Down Dark-Matter Claims
» French Police in Crisis as Suicide Rate Spirals
» Greece: One in Eight Firms Fined for Undeclared Labor
» HIV Evolving ‘Into Milder Form’
» Ice Blocked the Czech Republic, Transport’s Gone Haywire
» Italy: Court Upholds Antitrust Fines Against Novartis, Roche
» Italy: Soccer: Balotelli Sparks Racism Storm, Faces FA Investigation
» Italy: League Leader Blasts Govt ‘Depenalization’ Decree
» Italy: Ideal Standard ‘Definitively’ Ends Talks With Idealscala
» Italy: Rome Anti-Corruption Czar Also in Mafia Probe
» Paris Jewish Community in Shock Over Rape, Home Invasion ‘Because You Are Jews’
» Russia Link and Le Pen Dynasty Mark French National Front Congress
» Stephen Hawking Warns Artificial Intelligence Could End Mankind
» The Jihad Cult: Why Young Germans Are Answering Call to Holy War
» UK Rejoins European Arrest Warrant
» UK: Jimmy Savile Paedophile Scandal Has Created ‘Non-Stop’ Flow of Sex Abuse Cases, Judges Tell Chris Grayling
North Africa
» 188 Receive Death Sentence in New Egypt Mass Capital Punishment Verdict
» Egypt Prosecutor Appeals Mubarak Acquittal
Israel and the Palestinians
» French Legislators Vote in Favour of Recognising Palestinian State
» French National Assembly Passes Palestine State Recognition: Could UN Security Council be Next Stop?
» ISIS Flyer in Gaza Threatens 18 Writers, PA Condemns
» Israel Headed to Elections: Lapid Rejects Netanyahu’s Terms for Saving Coalition
Middle East
» Harold Rhode on the Threats of ISIS and Muslim Extremism in Iran, Russia and China
» Iraqi Government Reaches Major Oil Deal With Kurds
» ISIS Leader Has Wives and Children in Both Iraq and Syria
» Jihadists in Syria Write Home to France: ‘My iPod is Broken. I Want to Come Back’
» Lebanon Detains Wife of Islamic State Leader
» Lebanon Announces Capture of Wife of IS Leader Baghdadi
» Rise of Turkish Islamic Schooling Upsets Secular Parents
» Saudi Arabia: IS Supporters Take Responsibility for Arla Shooting
» Sepp Blatter: Qatar World Cup Workers’ Welfare is Not FIFA’s Responsibility
» Kyiv and Separatists Agree to Luhansk Ceasefire, Says OSCE
» Moldova: 86% of Votes Counted, Pro-EU 44%, Pro-Russian 40%
» Preliminary Results Show Unexpected Winner of Moldova’s Elections
» Putin: “EU Sabotages South Stream, Gas Can Go Elsewhere”
» Putin in Turkey: Russian Bear Basking in Turkey’s Crescent
» Too Many “Obstacles” Push Moscow to Axe South Stream
South Asia
» Indonesia: Jakarta, Moderate Muslims Oppose Hamas Branch in Indonesia
» Muslim Separatism: Thailand and Malaysia Establish Conditions for Peace
Far East
» Hong Kong Students Vow to Continue Protests
» Hong Kong: Occupy Central Leaders to Surrender to Police, Card Zen to Join Them
» Hong Kong’s Occupy Central Founders Urge Protesters to Retreat
» Occupy Central Urges Hong Kong Protesters to Retreat
» South Korean Christians Allowed to Put Up Christmas Tree Near Border With Atheist North Korea
Sub-Saharan Africa
» 36 Feared Killed in Attack in Kenyan Village
» Islamist Extremists Kill 36 Quarry Workers in Kenya
» Militants Kill 36 Non-Muslims in Northern Kenya
Latin America
» Colombian General Alzate Resigns Over FARC Abduction
» Boehner Moves to Push Off Immigration Fight to 2015
» California Pushes to Expand Immigrant Health Care
» Criminal Organisation Suspected of Smuggling People Into Finland
» Germany Second Top Migration Destination of Choice After US
» Migrants Arrested for ‘Attack’ on Spanish Cops
» President Obama’s “Deferred Action” Program for Illegal Aliens is Plainly Unconstitutional
» Thousands Protest Asylum Policy in Dresden

Capital Controls Feared as Russian Rouble Collapses

The Russian rouble has suffered its steepest one-day drop since the default crisis in 1998 as capital flight accelerates, raising the risk of emergency exchange controls and tightening the noose on Russian companies and bodies with more than $680bn (£432bn) of external debt.

The currency has been in freefall since Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states vetoed calls by weaker Opec members for a cut in crude oil output, a move viewed by the Kremlin as a strategic attack on Russia.

A fresh plunge in Brent prices to a five-year low of $67.50 a barrel on Monday caused the dam to break, triggering a 9pc slide in the rouble in a matter of hours.

Analysts said it took huge intervention by the Russian central bank to stop the rout and stablize the rouble at 52.07 to the dollar. “They must have spent billions,” said Tim Ash, at Standard Bank.

It is extremely rare for a major country to collapse in this fashion, and the trauma is likely to have political consequences

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Recession-Ravaged Italy Shed 3.7% of Companies in 2013

Some 1.5 million firms with employees estimated in Italy: Istat

(ANSA) — Rome, December 2 — The recession ravaging the Italian economy led to a loss last year of 3.7% of its companies, led by a drop of more than 7% in construction firms, national statistical agency Istat said Tuesday.

That also meant job losses for employees, with the total number of workers falling by 2.3% in 2013, the agency said.

A series of recessions and economic crisis have plagued the country since 2008, leading to a national jobless rate reported last Friday at 13.2% and an unemployment rate among youth at more than 43.3%.

In all there were an estimated 1.6 million companies with employees in Italy last year, Istat said.

Those firms involved 13.3 million people, 11.4 million of those employees.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Russia Warns of Recession in 2015

The Russian government has warned the economy will fall into recession next year as Western sanctions, in response to its role in eastern Ukraine, and falling oil prices begin to bite.

Russia’s economic development ministry estimates the economy will contract by 0.8% next year.

It had previously estimated the the economy would grow by 1.2% in 2015.

Russia’s reliance on tax revenues from the oil industry makes it particularly sensitive to price movements.

Household disposable incomes are also forecast to decline by as much as 2.8%, compared with a previous estimate that they would grow by 0.4%.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

The Greek Patient: Europe Debates Third Bailout Package for Athens

Greece wants to shed the shackles of the troika, but it still hasn’t fulfilled the requirements to do so. Despite this, Athens’ European partners want to provide additional aid to ensure that the Greek patient makes a complete fiscal and economic recovery.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UK: State Pension ‘Extinct in 30 Years’, Warn One in Six MPs

One in six MPs believes the state pension will be extinct in 30 years time, a poll found.

Currently people who reach retirement age with a full national insurance record receive £113.10 a week.

But cost of the payments is rising as Britain’s population ages, with official figures showing the bill will quadruple to £420 billion over the next six decades.

An online survey asked 100 MPs from different parties whether they thought the state pension would still be available to retired people in 2044.

Fifteen said the payment would have been phased out or reduced considerably within three decades.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Cable Failure Knocks Out Power to Downtown Detroit

DETROIT — A massive cable failure triggered a huge power outage in downtown Detroit Tuesday, knocking out electricity to most public buildings, trapping many people in elevators and cutting power to police departments, fire stations, schools, jails and traffic lights.

The “major cable failure” shut down the grid at about 10:30 a.m., and all of the roughly 100 buildings on it were affected, according to a statement from the City of Detroit.

“We have isolated the issue and are working to restore power as soon as possible,” according to the statement.

Traffic lights began coming back on at many intersections around 11:45 a.m. and in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, where many people were evacuated through stairwells, WJBK-TV reported…

[Return to headlines]

Delta College Attack a Hate Crime, Police Say

A brutal attack after a math class at the San Joaquin Delta College is being classified as a hate crime.

Police say 23-year-old Dehmi Moore repeatedly stabbed a classmate in the face with a pen.

“When we asked why she attacked the girl, it wasn’t just because of the comments made in the classroom, she expressed it was because she was a white female,” Bock said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Holder: New Justice Dept. Policy Will ‘End Racial Profiling, Once and for All’

Speaking at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta — the church where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday that he will soon unveil long-planned Justice Department guidance aimed at ending racial profiling.

The president asked Holder to set up the meetings in the wake of clashes between protesters and police in Ferguson, Missouri.

“In the coming days, I will announce updated Justice Department guidance regarding profiling by federal law enforcement. This will institute rigorous new standards — and robust safeguards — to help end racial profiling, once and for all,” Holder said. “This new guidance will codify our commitment to the very highest standards of fair and effective policing.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Lawmakers Make ‘Hands Up’ Gesture on House Floor

Several lawmakers took to the House floor Monday evening to make the “Hands up, don’t shoot,” gesture to protest the police shooting of the unarmed Ferguson teen, Michael Brown.

“Hands up, don’t shoot. It’s a rallying cry of people all across America who are fed up with police violence,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said as he took the floor. “In community, after community, after community, fed up with police violence in Ferguson, in Brooklyn, in Cleveland, in Oakland, in cities and counties and rural communities all across America.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Mankind’s Alcohol Habit 10 Million Years Old

Mankind’s ancestors were consuming alcohol ten million years ago, according to US researchers — far earlier than the previously assumed 9,000 years. Their genetic findings could also throw new light on alcoholism.

The team led by molecular biologist Mathew Carrigan found widespread ancient traces of the digestive enzyme ADH4 — which helps rid the body of alcohol — in 28 mammals, including 17 primates.

They reconstructed the enzyme’s evolution and concluded that 10 million years ago a genetic change emerged, enabling the ancestors of primates and Homo sapiens to break down or metabolize alcohol in their digestive tract.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Meet Chuck Hagel’s Expected Replacement as Defense Secretary

Washington (CNN) — Ashton Carter, the former second-in-command at the Pentagon, appears to be the top choice to replace outgoing Secretary Chuck Hagel.

The candidates for Secretary of Defense Barring any last minute complications, Ash Carter will be President Barack Obama’s choice as the new Secretary of Defense, several U.S. administration officials told CNN.

An administration official had said that Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, a former General Counsel at the Pentagon, was also still on the list of possibilities, but on Tuesday morning, sources said Johnson was no longer being considered. The prospect of an additional confirmation hearing for Johnson’s replacement if he were to move to the Pentagon as the Senate switches to Republican control would have been problematic for the White House.

[Return to headlines]

Rev Al Sharpton Delivers Sermon at Michael Brown’s Church, Warning Prosecutors: ‘You Won the First Round, But Don’t Take Your Gloves Off. Justice Will Come’

Reverend Al Sharpton delivered an impassioned sermon to a packed St Louis church, in which he warned prosecutors that ‘the fight is not over’ and ‘justice will come to Ferguson’.

As Michael Brown’s parents sat in the front row of the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist, Sharpton told a congregation of around 2,500 that Darren Wilson’s resignation was a distraction from the family’s quest for justice.

But he claimed he found bits of evidence in the grand jury transcript that might help the cause of those who think the failure to indict Wilson over the shooting of 18-year-old Michael was a mistake.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Students Face Charges After Fake Gun Pointed at Couple in Victoria

In a case Victoria police spokesman Const. Mike Russell called “people doing stupid things,” two students from Saudi Arabia have been charged with pointing a firearm at a couple strolling down Store Street last week.

Meshal Alharbi and Mohammad Alhussain, both 23, turned themselves over police on the evening of Nov. 20. They were arrested and charged with carrying a replica firearm for a dangerous purpose, pointing a firearm, assault with a firearm, using a replica firearm to threaten and assault, and threatening to cause death or bodily harm.

Alharbi is also charged with carrying a concealed restricted weapon and having his face masked with intent to commit an offence.

Victoria provincial court Judge Ernie Quantz released both men on $10,000 bail and ordered them to surrender their passports to the court registry, where they will be kept until a further court order.

After his decision, Quantz told Alhussain that Canada is a very welcoming country to newcomers and students.

“No matter what you might hear out there, our expectation is that you follow the law and that you make a positive contribution to the country,” Quantz said.

The judge suggested the students comply with all the conditions of their bail orders and make a contribution to the community by volunteering as their case makes its way through the court system. “If you do this, it will help you a lot,” said Quantz.

An Arabic translator was in the courtroom for the bail hearing.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

Church, Politicians Reject Call to Ban the Burka in Germany

A call from a regional official of Germany’s ruling CDU to ban the burka in public places has been met with criticism. The issue is not significant enough to merit a ban, religious leaders and politicians have argued.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Crisis in Sweden as Budget Poised to Fail

Sweden’s nationalist party has said it will support a financial package being put forward by the country’s centre-right parties instead of the budget proposed by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven’s coalition.

Such a scenario could lead to a snap election just months after Sweden last went to the polls.

The Social Democrats are currently in coalition with the Green Party, following an election in September that toppled Fredrik Reinfeldt’s centre-right coalition after eight years in power.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

EU Court Hands Italy Massive Waste-Management Fine

Environment minister confident of overturning penalty

(ANSA) — Brussels, December 2 — The European Court of Justice on Tuesday gave Italy a massive fine for its failure to comply with a 2007 judgement ordering it to take action to respect the EU’s waste-management laws. The court ordered Italy pay a lump sum of 40 million euros and pay an additional 42.8 million euros for every six-month delay in coming into line from now on. “In 2013, the Commission found that Italy had not yet adopted all the measures necessary to comply with the 2007 judgment,” the ruling read.

“In particular, 218 sites in 18 of the 20 Italian regions were not in conformity with the Waste Directive (from which it could be inferred that there must be sites operating without a permit); also, of those 218 sites, 16 contained hazardous waste in breach of the Hazardous Waste Directive; and, lastly, Italy had not proved that five landfills had been ‘conditioned’ or closed down in accordance with the Landfill of Waste Directive”.

Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti said he was confident Italy will be able to overturn the penalty as it has largely put its house in order as regards rubbish management. “The fine refers to the past,” Galletti said. The minister said that only 45 of the 218 sites the Court of Justice referred to were still non-compliant. He added that 60 million euros set aside by the government will make it possible to clean up 30 of those and that an additional 60 million will be invested to sort out the rest. “We’ll go to Europe on the strength of what we have done to not pay one euro of that fine, which stems from an old, dangerous way of managing waste that we want to finish with for ever,” Galletti said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

European Probe Shoots Down Dark-Matter Claims

Planck’s four-year study of relic radiation also resolves other cosmological riddles.

The first full analysis of the data gathered by the European Space Agency’s Planck spacecraft has resolved some conundrums raised by earlier cosmology studies — but has made the riddle of dark matter more obscure. The Planck team did not yet address a controversy over the gravitational waves from the Big Bang announced in March, but plans to do so in an upcoming study.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

French Police in Crisis as Suicide Rate Spirals

With the number of suicides in the French police in 2014 passing 50 on Friday the government is under pressure to deal with a growing crisis. The Local asks a police union chief what is pushing so many officers to end their lives.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Greece: One in Eight Firms Fined for Undeclared Labor

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, DECEMBER 2 — In the period from September 15 to October 31 the Labor Ministry in Athens imposed fines adding up to 60 million euros on enterprises found to be employing uninsured workers, according to data from the Artemis project released on Monday and reported by daily Kathimerini online. A total of 29,079 companies were monitored, of which one in eight (12.53%), or 3,645, were found to be employing undeclared workers. Of the 157,085 employees checked, 5,751, or 3.66%, had not been declared to social security services.

Inspections intensified in October according to a new model of monitoring undeclared labor conducted by the Labor Inspection Squad and the special agency of the Social Security Foundation (IKA).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

HIV Evolving ‘Into Milder Form’

HIV is evolving to become less deadly and less infectious, according to a major scientific study.

The team at the University of Oxford shows the virus is being “watered down” as it adapts to our immune systems.

It said it was taking longer for HIV infection to cause Aids and that the changes in the virus may help efforts to contain the pandemic.

Some virologists suggest the virus may eventually become “almost harmless” as it continues to evolve.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Ice Blocked the Czech Republic, Transport’s Gone Haywire

No trains, no trams, thousands of travellers stranded

(ANSA) — PRAGUE — Since last night, the whole Czech Republic is blocked by ice: there are no trains linking the major cities — Prague, Brno and Ostrava — and since power lines in the capital are frozen, the city’s 22 tram-lines are out of order, which usually carry about 900,000 people per day.

Hundreds of thousands of travellers have spent last night in blacked out trains, no heating. Hundreds are waiting for their train, to no avail. “Today, most of the trains have been cancelled”, said Petr Stahlavsky, spokesman for Czech Railways. Because of the ice, even the airplane with the Czech soldiers which should have taken off from the military airport in Kbely (Prague) to reach Kabul, Afghanistan, remained blocked.

Nevertheless, air traffic at the Vaclav Havel airport in Prague has not been interrupted.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Court Upholds Antitrust Fines Against Novartis, Roche

Accused of manipulating market for eye medication

(ANSA) — Rome, December 2 — The Lazio regional administrative court on Tuesday upheld an anti-trust fine of 180 million euros against two major international pharmaceutical manufacturers, Novartis and Roche.

The court, known as TAR, dismissed appeals from the two Swiss-based companies which were accused of market manipulation in the sales of eye medication.

The companies were alleged to have colluded to hamper use of a cheap eye drug in favour of a more expensive one.

The alleged cartel promoting Novartis’s Lucentis over Roche’s Avastin is believed to have cost Italy’s national health service over 45 million euros in 2012 alone, while future costs could potentially have reached 600 million euros a year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Soccer: Balotelli Sparks Racism Storm, Faces FA Investigation

Italian apologises, says Instagram post misinterpreted

(ANSA) — Rome, December 2 — Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli could face a Football Association (FA) investigation despite apologising on Tuesday for a post on his Instagram page that sparked a racism storm. On Monday, the 24-year-old posted an image of the Super Mario computer game character with a caption that read: “Don’t be racist. Be like Mario. He’s an Italian plumber, created by Japanese people, who speaks English and looks like a Mexican… jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a Jew”.

The talented, temperamental player, whose career has been dogged by episodes of indiscipline and several bizarre off-field incidents, deleted the post and said sorry.

“I apologize if I’ve offended anyone,” Balotelli said via Twitter. “The post was meant to be anti-racist with humour. I now understand that out of context it may have the opposite effect.

“Not all Mexicans have moustache, not all black people jump high and not all Jewish people love money. “I used a cartoon done by someone else because it had Super Mario and I thought it was funny and not offensive. Again, I’m sorry”.

British media reported that Balotelli has been asked by the FA for his observations regarding the post.

The FA is reportedly considering charging Balotelli with bringing the game into disrepute.

The forward, who has notched 13 goals in 33 appearances for Italy, has yet to score in the Premier League after joining Liverpool from AC Milan in the close season.

He is out of action at the moment with a hamstring injury.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: League Leader Blasts Govt ‘Depenalization’ Decree

Crimes punishable with up to 5 yrs in prison can be shelved

(ANSA) — Rome, December 2 — Anti-immigrant, separatist Northern League leader Matteo Salvini on Tuesday blasted a cabinet decree that would give judges the option of letting people off for crimes punishable by up to five years in prison.

These include coercion, fraud, property damage, and theft.

“Utter madness,” Salvini said on his Facebook profile.

“Italy under the left has become a criminal paradise. I’m not giving up. The League will conduct total opposition to this insanity”. The purpose of the decree is reportedly to lighten the justice system case load and find alternatives to prison.

Under the decree, a motion to dismiss the case can be filed at any point during proceedings, and it will be up to the preliminary investigations judge (GIP) to make the call.

The measure only effectively depenalizes behaviors that are not a cause for social alarm, Justice Minister Andrea Orlando reportedly said.

The decree also streamlines procedures for extradition requests, among other measures.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Ideal Standard ‘Definitively’ Ends Talks With Idealscala

Multinational says cooperative failed to produce industrial plan

(ANSA) — Trieste, December 2 — Negotiations between Ideal Standard bathroom fittings company to save the Idealscala cooperative have collapsed “definitively,” Ideal Standard said Tuesday.

In a statement, the multinational blamed the cooperative for failing to produce an industrial plan.

Ideal Standard said a “lack of will” existed at the cooperative, employing 400 people at Orcenico, to proceed with plans it said had been agreed on.

Ideal said that plan was designed to save the cooperative but now, its priority is to instead focus on its industrial and business plan for 2015-2017.

Union leaders said the company’s statement was “unacceptable”.

They said that an industrial plan will be presented by the cooperative.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Rome Anti-Corruption Czar Also in Mafia Probe

Along with ex-mayor Gianni Alemanno, scores of others

(see related)(ANSA) — Rome, December 2 — Rome’s anti-corruption czar, Italo Walter Politano, is among some 100 people under investigation in a probe into an alleged mafia organisation that rigged public contracts in the Italian capital, ANSA sources said Tuesday. Politano is accused of mafia association and is reportedly to be removed from his post on Wednesday. He was appointed by center-left Democratic Party (PD) Mayor Ignazio Marino in November 2013, and is the de facto Rome point man for national anti-corruption czar, Raffaele Cantone.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Paris Jewish Community in Shock Over Rape, Home Invasion ‘Because You Are Jews’

Three unknown assailants invaded the home of a Jewish couple in the Paris suburb of Créteil on Monday, raped the 19-year-old woman, and robbed the home, saying it was “because you are Jewish,” local French media reported on Tuesday.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Russia Link and Le Pen Dynasty Mark French National Front Congress

France’s far-right National Front re-elected its leader Marine Le Pen with a 100 percent mandate on Sunday at a party congress marked by closer ties to Russia and the rise of a new generation of the Le Pen dynasty.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Stephen Hawking Warns Artificial Intelligence Could End Mankind

Prof Stephen Hawking, one of Britain’s pre-eminent scientists, has said that efforts to create thinking machines pose a threat to our very existence.

He told the BBC:”The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”

His warning came in response to a question about a revamp of the technology he uses to communicate, which involves a basic form of AI.

But others are less gloomy about AI’s prospects.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

The Jihad Cult: Why Young Germans Are Answering Call to Holy War

Hundreds of young German Islamists have traveled to Syria to fight with the terrorist group Islamic State. SPIEGEL explored the extremist scene in Germany and the fascination with jihad in order to find answers about what drives people to join the murderous cult.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UK Rejoins European Arrest Warrant

The UK Monday decided it will participate in the European Arrest Warrant, reports AFP. The UK had opted out of 133 EU police and criminal justice measures last year but decided to opt back into some of them. The warrant facilitates the extradition of suspects from across the EU.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UK: Jimmy Savile Paedophile Scandal Has Created ‘Non-Stop’ Flow of Sex Abuse Cases, Judges Tell Chris Grayling

Judges have said there is a “non-stop” flow of sex offenders passing through the courts since the Jimmy Savile paedophile scandal was exposed, Chris Grayling has revealed.

The Justice Secretary said the “heightened awareness” of sex crimes after the historic child abuse inquiry into the former BBC presenter had increased pressure on Britain’s prisons.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

188 Receive Death Sentence in New Egypt Mass Capital Punishment Verdict

Giza’s criminal court sentenced 188 defendants to death for a violent attack a police station after last year’s ouster of president Mohamed Morsi that left 11 police personnel and two civilians dead.

The defendants were found guilty of killing the officers after storming Kerdasa police station in Giza, following the dispersal of two pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo on 14 August 2013.

The verdict can still be appealed.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Egypt Prosecutor Appeals Mubarak Acquittal

The acquittal of a murder charge against former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is to be appealed by the country’s public prosecutor. He had been on trial for the murder of some 800 protesters during the 2011 uprising.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

French Legislators Vote in Favour of Recognising Palestinian State

French lawmakers voted on Tuesday in favour of recognising Palestine as a state, following similar moves in Britain and Spain as European countries try to restart the stalled Middle East peace process.

The highly symbolic vote in the lower house National Assembly is not binding on French government policy but is likely to spark fury in Israel, whose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned it would be a “grave mistake”.

MPs voted 339 to 151 in favour of a motion that invites Paris to recognise the state of Palestine “as an instrument to gain a definitive resolution of the conflict.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

French National Assembly Passes Palestine State Recognition: Could UN Security Council be Next Stop?

In a majority vote today, the French National Assembly passed a resolution for symbolic recognition of Palestine statehood. This adds France to a list of EU members, Sweden, Ireland, the UK, and Spain whose Parliaments have passed similar resolutions. Another such vote is pending in Denmark, while the European Parliament has scheduled a debate and possible vote on December 18, 2014. France24 provided this report on the vote in Paris, “French legislators vote in favor of recognizing Palestinian state”:

The non-binding, but highly symbolic National Assembly vote urges the government to recognize Palestine as state, reflecting growing European impatience with the stalled Middle East peace process.

MPs voted 339 to 151 in favor of the motion calling upon the French government to recognize the state of Palestine “as an instrument to gain a definitive resolution of the conflict.”

France is home to Europe’s largest Jewish and Muslim communities and right-wing lawmakers have criticized the ruling Socialist Party of trying to woo Muslim voters.

The Voice of America account of today’s National Assembly vote indicted that 60 percent of French polled support Palestinian statehood.This latest EU member declaration vote for Palestine statehood has been criticized by Israel and praised by the PA. France24 reported:

The Israeli embassy denounce[ed] the move as harmful to prospects of peace in the region.

“Israel believes that the vote in the National Assembly… will reduce the possibility of achieving a deal between Israel and the Palestinians,” according to an Israeli statement released shortly after the vote. “Decisions of this nature harden the Palestinian position and send the wrong message to the people and the leaders of the region,” it added.

This is all part of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestine 194 Campaign that has garnered formal recognition from more than 130 members of the UN General Assembly, where the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has a controlling vote bloc. Our European source in Geneva reports possible moves by the Hollande government to introduce formal statehood recognition before the UN Security Council this month, not waiting for the outcome of European Parliament vote on their resolution in Strasbourg.

Jonathan Schanzer of the Washington, DC-based Foundation for Defense of Democracy in our NER interview ,published in the current December edition, warned about what the Administration might do at any scheduled UN Security Council vote on Palestinian statehood. “The Security Council would be absolutely necessary to make it the 194th country. One of the things that Jeffrey Goldberg’s [The Atlantic] article noted was a one line that was very disconcerting. That was that the United States may be considering lowering the shield, as they call it, at the UN Security Council so that they might abstain on a vote about Palestinian statehood as opposed to vetoing it, which they have in the past.”

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

ISIS Flyer in Gaza Threatens 18 Writers, PA Condemns

Hamas minimizes incident, says it is likely a ‘prank’

(ANSAmed) — GAZA, DECEMBER 2 — An Islamic State (ISIS) flyer circulating on social networks has warned 18 writers and poets against criticizing Islam, noting that “apostates will be punished”. In Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority (PA) replied by condemning the intimidation of Palestinian intellectuals, saying that the threats constitute a serious precedent. Hamas has instead played down the incident. Gaza’s interior minister, Yiad Bazam, denied that ISIS operates in any form in the Gaza Strip and that the threats are — in his opinion — nothing more than “pranks”. ‘He ensured, nevertheless, that the enclave’s secret services were closely watching the situation. The threats to intellectuals came after a similar text (signed by men claiming to be ISIS members) in recent days telling women in Gaza that they would not be allowed to walk in the streets starting next week if not covered in full Islamic veils.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel Headed to Elections: Lapid Rejects Netanyahu’s Terms for Saving Coalition

Prime Minister had demanded Finance Minister back nation state bill, drop 0% VAT plan; Shas chair to faction heads: Set date for elections.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid late Monday rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ultimatums presented to him in a meeting billed as a last-ditch attempt to preserve the coalition.

Netanyahu demanded that Lapid stop “sabotaging the work of the government,” retract his opposition to Netanyahu’s version of the Jewish nation-state bill, and freeze the zero-VAT plan, the flagship of Lapid’s economic agenda.

At the end of the hour-long meeting, Lapid told the prime minister that he could not accede to these demands — paving his way out of the coalition.

Moments after the meeting, Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri calls on all faction heads to “meet at once and to reach an agreement for setting a date as quickly as possible for elections.” Shas’ move brings forward elections, as Netanyahu will not be able to form an alternative coalition without the Haredi parties.

“If the unprecedented behavior of some government ministers continues, there will be no choice but to go to elections again,” Netanyahu said in a statement after the meeting. No reaction from Lapid was forthcoming by press time.

Netanyahu also demanded that Lapid transfer NIS 6 billion to the Defense Ministry for training and equipment, and free the funds necessary for the Israel Defense Forces to move its training bases to the Negev.

The meeting was the first between the two men since the crisis between them erupted a few weeks ago. The meeting was aimed at deciding whether the two could continue working together or whether new elections should be called.

Netanyahu’s associates said prior to the meeting that he hasn’t yet decided whether to continue the current coalition or call new elections, and his decision will rest largely on the outcome of the meeting with Lapid. Lapid’s Yesh Atid party is Netanyahu’s largest coalition partner.

“The prime minister doesn’t want elections at any price,” one Netanyahu associate said. “If he did, he’d have done it last week already. But he’s determined not to continue running the coalition the way it has operated to date.”

Sources in Netanyahu’s Likud party said they believe they have managed to block all possible avenues by which Lapid could replace Netanyahu with an alternative government without holding elections. This assessment is based on promises by the two ultra-Orthodox parties not to cooperate with such a move and conciliatory statements made recently by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who heads another coalition party, Yisrael Beiteinu.

A few hours before meeting with Lapid, Netanyahu attacked the finance minister without mentioning him by name. Speaking at the start of a Likud faction meeting, he said he would call new elections if the ministers who have been attacking him don’t stop.

“I believe a government must work in harmony,” Netanyahu said. “In an effort to reach [such harmony], I’ve supported measures I didn’t completely agree with, like the zero-VAT bill. Unfortunately, I haven’t enjoyed the same support or fulfillment of even the most basic obligation — the loyalty and responsibility of ministers to the government in which they serve.”

The zero-VAT bill, which would eliminate value-added tax on the purchase of first homes, is Lapid’s pet project. Lapid, for his part, vehemently opposes a bill to define Israel as the Jewish nation-state, which is currently Netanyahu’s pet project.

Netanyahu also accused ministers of attacking his diplomatic policies. “Even construction in Jerusalem has become a controversial subject for them,” he said, adding that their criticism “strengthens international criticism of Israel.”

Certain ministers are trying to replace both the government and him, Netanyahu charged. “They are violating agreements that have been reached, such as increasing the defense budget and moving army bases to southern Israel.”…

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

Harold Rhode on the Threats of ISIS and Muslim Extremism in Iran, Russia and China

We interviewed Dr. Harold Rhode about his seminal role in rescuing the Babylonian Jewish archives in Baghdad in 2003. They were ultimately brought to Washington and through public and private resources restored by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). They were exhibited at the National Archives in Washington and at other US locations in 2013 and 2014. See our latest NER interview with him, “The Future of the Babylonian Jewish Archives” (June 2014). Subsequently Rhode has been spending the year in Israel, with occasional side trips, lecturing and writing, since his retirement as an Islamic Affairs Analyst in the Pentagon. He recently returned from an extensive lecture tour in China where he spoke at several universities about Sunni Muslim extremism. We hope to bring you another interview with him about that fascinating episode.

Following his return to Israel he sent us one of the few clear-eyed analyses of why, in his opinion ISIS is a threat to the world. It was an interview with him by Daniel Otzori published in the December edition of Oil Magazine. It is produced quarterly by Eni S.p.A, the Italian multi-national energy company with operations in more than 79 countries. Rhode presents cogent observations on the necessity for the US and its coalition partners to implementing a well thought out strategy for the expressed goal of “degrading” and destroying”, the Islamic State, formerly ISIS. He addresses why Russia and China should also be concerned, in view of their significant Sunni minorities prone to Muslim extremism. In China’s instance he notes the problematic irredentist Uyghurs, a Turkmen Muslim group in the Western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. They have ties to the Islamist government of President Erdogan’s AKP party in Ankara. The Chinese Foreign Ministry recently rebuked Ankara regarding an offer of sanctuary in Turkey for several hundred Uyghur human trafficking victims in Thailand. Rhode confirms what other experts have concluded regarding Turkey’s and Iran’s roles in facilitating the emergence and expansion of the Islamic State. He does not hold great promise that the Administration has an effective strategy for eliminating ISIS, which Rhode considers a threat to the world.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

Iraqi Government Reaches Major Oil Deal With Kurds

The Iraqi government on Tuesday reached a deal with the Kurdish local authorities in the country’s north to exchange oil from the autonomous region for a nearly 20 percent share of the national budget, officials said.

The deal resolves a months-long impasse that had undermined national unity amid the fight against the Islamic State group — a battle in which Iraqi soldiers and Kurdish peshmerga troops have joined forces against the Sunni extremists.

The agreement stipulates that the semi-autonomous Kurdish government will release 550,000 barrels of oil every day to the Iraqi oil ministry, more than half of which will come from the disputed Kirkuk oil fields, according to Iraqi Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

ISIS Leader Has Wives and Children in Both Iraq and Syria

Straddling sides of the border, one wife arrested in Lebanon

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT — The Islamic State (ISIS) leader known as Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi has wives and children from both of the countries the transnational jihadist group has a significant presence in. Baghdadi reportedly has three wives: two Iraqi and one Syrian, who was recently arrested in Lebanon with one of his daughters while trying to enter Syria carrying false ID papers. He is thought to have about a dozen children both east and west of the Syrian-Iraqi border — not as many yet as those sired by Al-Qaeda founder and former leader Osama Bin Laden, known for having married six women (the first at age 17) and fathered 24 children.

Self-proclaimed ‘caliph’ of territory as large as Hungary in the area straddling the border between Iraq and Syria, Baghdadi is wanted by the authorities around the world and the US has offered 10 million dollars for information leading to his capture. An international coalition led by the US was set up last summer to fight against ISIS and get rid of its leader. As is usually the case with the ‘most-wanted’, Baghdadi has managed to surround himself with mystery.

The identity of only one of his Iraqi wives is known: Suja Al-Dulaimi, from a powerful Iraqi tribe that goes by the same name. Suja made headlines in March when she was reportedly one of the few women freed in a prisoner exchange conducted with regional mediation between the Syrian Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Al-Nusra and the Damascus regime near the border between Syria and Lebanon. It is not known when Baghdadi and Suja were married, but several sources say that the woman, in her thirties, had previously been married to an Iraqi Al-Qaeda leader, Faleh Jasem, who died in battle in western Iraq. Baghdadi, who since 2002 has been at the head of Al-Qaeda cells in the region, claims to have married Suja “out of respect for his battle companion”.

Baghdadi’s Syrian wife arrested in late November by the Lebanese authorities is said to be his second. The daughter detained with her is reportedly 8-9 years old, according to Beirut security sources. Iraqi media report that Baghdadi has fathered between 10 and 14 children with his three wives. For security reasons, none of the ‘caliph’s’ wives lives with her husband, who is said to live like a warrior monk, spending his days planning ISIS political and military operations, praying and studying.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Jihadists in Syria Write Home to France: ‘My iPod is Broken. I Want to Come Back’

Letters from French jihadists home to their parents have revealed the misery, boredom and fear suffered by Islamist recruits as the gloss fades from their big adventure.

In a series of letters seen by Le Figaro newspaper, some of the 376 French currently fighting in Syria have begged for advice on how to return. Others have complained that, rather than participating in a noble battle, they have been acting as jihadi dogsbodies.

“I’ve basically done nothing except hand out clothes and food,” wrote one, who wants to return from Aleppo. “I also help clean weapons and transport dead bodies from the front. Winter’s arrived here. It’s begun to get really hard.”

Another writes: “I’m fed up. They make me do the washing up.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Lebanon Detains Wife of Islamic State Leader

The Lebanese army detained a wife and daughter of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as they crossed from Syria nine days ago, security officials said on Tuesday, in a setback to the group as it comes under increased military pressure.

The woman was identified her as Saja al-Dulaimi, an Iraqi, by a senior Lebanese political source and security official.

The Lebanese newspaper As-Safir reported she had been detained in coordination with “foreign intelligence”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Lebanon Announces Capture of Wife of IS Leader Baghdadi

On Tuesday, Lebanon’s army officially confirmed the arrest of a Syrian or Iraqi national thought to be the second of “Islamic State” (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s multiple wives — he is reported to have at least three. Security officials variously said that the military had arrested the woman and a child either at the Syrian border or inside northern Lebanon. According to news agencies, officials were conducting DNA tests on the child to confirm that the IS leader’s suspected wife was in fact the child’s mother.

The claims by media outlets have proved sketchy, but it appears the woman and child were captured about 10 days ago in the border region.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Rise of Turkish Islamic Schooling Upsets Secular Parents

Turkey has seen a sharp rise in religious schooling under reforms which President Tayyip Erdogan casts as a defense against moral decay, but which opponents see as an unwanted drive to shape a more Islamic nation.

Almost a million students are enrolled in “imam hatip” schools this year, up from just 65,000 in 2002 when Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted AK Party first came to power, he told the opening of one of the schools in Ankara last month.

The schools teach boys and girls separately, and give around 13 hours a week of Islamic instruction on top of the regular curriculum, including study of Arabic, the Quran and the life of the Prophet Mohammad.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: IS Supporters Take Responsibility for Arla Shooting

A group that supports the militant jihadists Islamic State (IS) has taken responsibility for last month’s shooting of a Danish Arla employee in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh.

The group released a video on the internet via LiveLeak that contains footage of the assassination attempt of the Dane as he drives in his car on the motorway. The man was shot three times, but survived.

“The material that was posted concerns the episode on November 22, in which an Arla employee was shot, as confirmed earlier,” Theis Brøgger, the dairy giant’s head of communications, told DR Nyheder.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sepp Blatter: Qatar World Cup Workers’ Welfare is Not FIFA’s Responsibility

Sepp Blatter said that the welfare of migrant workers involved in building facilities for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar was the responsibility of the companies who hired them, not Fifa.

A series of stories in the Guardian showed that migrant workers from Nepal, India, Sri Lanka and elsewhere were dying in their hundreds.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Kyiv and Separatists Agree to Luhansk Ceasefire, Says OSCE

The European security watchdog, the OSCE, says Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels have agreed ‘in principle’ on a ceasefire in the Luhansk region. A months-old ceasefire has been frequently broken.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Moldova: 86% of Votes Counted, Pro-EU 44%, Pro-Russian 40%

Socialist party’s booming: in the lead with 22%

(ANSA) — MOSCOW — With 86% of votes counted, three pro-Western parties are in the lead with 44% in the general elections held yesterday in Moldova, compared with 40% which was got by the two pro-Russian opposition parties.

The Socialists are booming, being at the first place with 22%. It will be difficult to form a government majority. A grand coalition between the pro-EU parties and the communist parties is more likely to be the solution, gathering all the political forces which are not hostile to integration into the EU, though in favour of a revision of the EU Association Agreement.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Preliminary Results Show Unexpected Winner of Moldova’s Elections

Despite expectations that it will occupy third or fourth place in the Sunday parliamentary elections, the pro-Russian Socialist party of Moldova is in the lead, according to preliminary results.

With around 85 % of the votes counted, the Socialist Party gathers 21 %, followed by the leading party in the pro-European government coalition — the Liberal Democratic Party with 19 %.

Third is another pro-Russian party, that of the Communists, followed by the other two parties constituting the government coalition — the Democratic Party and the Liberal Party, the Central Election Commission of Moldova announced.

Despite their surprising victory, the Socialists are unable to form a government, and even if relying on the Communists’ support, they are short of majority, as the two collect 39 % of the votes.

The three pro-European parties garner among themselves about 44 % of the votes, with expectations that they might form a grand coalition with the Communists to keep Moldova on the European track.

As no single party is able to achieve a stable majority in the 101-member unicameral Parliament, tough negotiations are forthcoming between the five parties surpassing the threshold.

The elections were described as the most important in the history of the former Soviet republic since its independence in 1991, as these are to determine which path the countries chooses — closer EU integration or strengthening ties with Russia.

The leader of the Socialists, one of whose slogans called for a thriving Moldova alongside a strong Russia, warned on Sunday that his party’s results would be a surprise to everyone.

Igor Dodon headed his party delegation to Moscow on November 4, where he met with President Vladimir Putin and Russian Ministers, promising to cancel Moldova’s Association Agreement with the EU in case of victory at the elections.

The surprising results are disappointing for the Communists of former President Vladimir Voronin, as they were expected to win around 23 %.

According to the Vox Populi polling agency, the Socialists who had seceded from the Communists in 2011, were expected to win around 15 % at the most, while other agencies even estimated their chances below 10 %.

However until the last moment about a third of the voters were undecided, while another pro-Russian party was banned from participation in the elections due to illegal funding from Moscow.

The voter turnout reached 56 %, but it is still a far cry from that in the 2010 election, when it was above 65 %.

This year’s elections were contested by 19 parties, one party bloc and four independent candidates, under stricter conditions for entering Parliament…

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

Putin: “EU Sabotages South Stream, Gas Can Go Elsewhere”

Russian President admits stopping EU gas pipeline project

(ANSA) — ANKARA — Russia for the time being “is forced to withdraw from the South Stream project, due to the EU’s lack of willingness to support the pipeline; the gas will therefore be redirected to other consumers”, Putin said in Ankara, quoted by Russia Today.

The Russian President stated that Moscow “has not yet received Bulgaria’s permission” to let the pipeline pass through its territory. South Stream is a 16 billion euro project and Italy is among the leading proponents, along with Eni, Gazprom’s major partner, France’s EDF and Germany’s Wintershall.

Putin, in order to show his will to strengthen Russian involvement in other markets, different from Europe, announced an agreement with Erdogan to increase supplies to Turkey up to 3 billion cubic metres, through the Blue Stream pipeline, and he added that he’s planning to develop a new pipeline along the Greek-Turkish border, designed only for “consumers in southern Europe”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Putin in Turkey: Russian Bear Basking in Turkey’s Crescent

Turkey’s President Erdogan seems willing to perform an unlikely dance of alliances involving Russia, Turkmenistan and the EU. But when it comes to commerce and trade, it’s all cordial between Moscow and Ankara.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin arrived in Turkey on December 1 for a packed one-day visit, accompanied by a delegation of ten ministers. Even though Ankara and Moscow do not see eye to eye on some issues, they enjoy warm relations when it comes to economics.

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

Too Many “Obstacles” Push Moscow to Axe South Stream

Putin scraps US$ 45 billion pipeline project to bring Russian gas to Europe bypassing Ukraine. In its place, he announces a new energy partnership with Ankara, and a new pipeline to the Greek-Turkish border, but for some experts, it is just a “bluff”.

Moscow (AsiaNews) — After eight years of negotiations and almost US$ 10 billion, Russia has decided to pull the plug on one of the most ambitious and expensive projects in its history, namely Gazprom’s South Stream gas pipeline, which would have brought Russian gas to Europe (Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Austria and Italy), bypassing Ukraine.

“We think that the European Commission’s position was not constructive,” Mr. Putin said on Monday during a press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyp Erdogan. In view of the situation, Russia will diversify its gas supplies and focus on Turkey, after China, as it seeks a broader range of alternative partners to Europe.

Russia will concentrate in fact on supplying gas to Turkey through the Blue Stream pipeline, increasing deliveries by 3 billion cubic metres a year and offering a 6 per cent discount as of 1 January as a gift to Turkey for not joining EU’s sanctions against Russia.

The Russian leader also said that Russia planned a new pipeline until Turkish-Greek border for consumers in southern Europe, cutting off Central Europe.

The decision is “a classic case of bartering energy access for political and economic cooperation,” said Chris Weafer, a partner at Moscow-based consultancy Macro Advisory, cited in Bloomberg. “Putin is obviously hoping that an expanded relationship with Turkey will go some way to compensate for the more difficult trade relations with the EU.”

However, Russia’s decision to scrap South Stream means that the pipelines through Ukraine will remain vital for the energy supply to Europe, giving Kyiv some leverage against the Kremlin.

In order to insure diversified sources, the European Union discouraged the big pipeline because it would enhance dependence on Russia and violate EU anti-trust law. For this reason, it called on member states to stop building parts of the pipeline.

For Moscow, Bulgaria’s decision against the pipeline on its territory was the straw that broke the camel’s back. “We couldn’t get necessary permissions from Bulgaria, so we cannot continue with the project. We can’t make all the investment just to be stopped at the Bulgarian border,” Mr. Putin said.

Gazprom’s partners in the offshore section of the pipeline (estimated price tag: US$ 14 billion) were Eni SpA (ENI), Electricité de France SA (EDF), and Wintershall AG.

Financing construction also faced obstacles because of Western sanctions that gave European banks cause to reconsider loans to Russian companies.

Gazprom’s boss, Alexei Miller, said the Russian giant planned to build a new pipeline capable of shipping 63 billion cubic metres a year from Russia to Turkey to replace the Ukraine route. Of those, 14 billion cubic metres would go to Turkey.

The pipeline will bring 50 billion cubic metres of natural gas to an energy hub to be built on the Turkey-Greece border, Miller said. In view of this, Gazprom will create a new legal entity in Russia for the pipeline in Turkey.

For many analysts, there will be no new pipeline to Europe. Ending the project may also save Gazprom from unnecessary spending because there is already sufficient delivery capacity to Europe, said Mikhail Korchemkin, a former analyst for the Soviet Union’s Gas Ministry. Instead, Russia will concentrate on supplying gas to Turkey through the Blue Stream pipeline.

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

Indonesia: Jakarta, Moderate Muslims Oppose Hamas Branch in Indonesia

Leaders of the Palestinian extremist movement visited the Indonesian capital and met with senior officials of the government and Parliament. The Parliament Speaker open to the possibility of a “Hamas branch office” in Indonesia. But the main movements and moderate Muslim leaders are opposed: there is already the Palestinian embassy, risk of a diplomatic and institutional conflict with Fatah.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — The leaders of the main Indonesian Muslim movements have distanced themselves from the opinion expressed earlier by the Parliament Speaker, and reject the proposal to open an office of the Palestinian Hamas movement in Jakarta.

Prof. Din Syamsudin, chairman of Muhammadiyah, the second most important moderate Muslim movement in the country points out that the presence of a seat of the Palestinian extremist group in the capital would give rise to a new, never-ending conflict. “We do not feel bound to support this idea,” explained the Muslim leader, who is also president of the Forum for the friendship between Indonesia and Palestine, as well as chairman of the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI).

Prof. Syamsudin explains that there has long been an authoritative and official representative of Palestine in Indonesian territory, in short the embassy that has been open for over ten years. He adds that in the territories of the West Bank and Gaza, there are two main political factions, Hamas and Fatah, and if “one of the two opens an office” in Jakarta, there is a risk of a “potential diplomatic and institutional conflict”.

A position shared by the leaders of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the largest moderate Muslim organization in the country. The charismatic leader Nu Kiai Hajj Solahudin Wahid, younger brother of former president Abdurrahman “Gus Dur”, says that a possible opening of a Hamas office should first be “discussed” with the Palestinian Embassy in Jakarta.

On the government side, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Lestari Marsudi clarifies that Jakarta will never allow the presence of pro-Palestinian terrorist movement Hamas on its territory. “We already have the embassy of Palestine — he confirms — dand o not need anything else”.

The controversy was sparked by last week’s visit by some senior Hamas officials. The delegation, led by the head of Political Affairs Abu Omar Muhammad, was received by the Vice-President of Indonesia, Jusuf Kalla and, later, by the Parliament. Reportedly, the number two in Jakarta and House Speaker Setya Novanto expressed — without going into details — a positive opinion on the presence of Hamas.

Moreover, the Palestinian saga is also the subject of exploitation in Indonesia, especially by Islamic extremist groups that foment divisions for personal gain and political interests that have nothing to do with the cause of recognition of a sovereign state. These fundamentalist movements tend to deflect the controversy from the political to the religious sphere, committing obvious errors.

Similar, errors are also made by TV, media and internet sites, which speak of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a “war between Christians (Israel!) and Muslims (Palestine)”. The conflict is also used by extremists to organize fundraisers and events in the streets of the capital.

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

Muslim Separatism: Thailand and Malaysia Establish Conditions for Peace

Yesterday in Kuala Lumpur face to face talks between the Thai premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha and his counterpart Najib Razak. As a precondition for talks they demand an end to attacks by all the rebel groups. So far, the fragmentation of the separatist struggle has hindered negotiations. In ten years of conflict over 6 thousand people have died, mostly civilians.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews / Agencies) — An end of the attacks at the hands of all the rebel groups involved in the separatist struggle and return to the negotiating table. These are the conditions laid down yesterday by the Malaysian Prime Minister and his Thai counterpart (pictured) for the resumption of peace talks — currently stalled — in southern Thailand, which has been plagued by a separatist insurgency led by Muslim movements .

The face to face talks between Najib Razak and Prayut Chan-O-Cha took place in Kuala Lumpur, during the Thai prime minister’s brief one day visit to Malaysia. It was the first visit by the former head of the armed forces since he seized power in Bangkok following a coup.

Following the talks, local political analysts and experts pointed out that, under these conditions, peace talks are unlikely to resume “in the short term” . However, the two leaders confirmed that the situation in southern Thailand, near the border with Malaysia, is a “priority” for both governments.

In a press conference held at the end of the meeting the Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib said that if the rebels stop attacks, Bangkok is willing to “reduce” the army’s presence in the former conflict areas.

In the last year the decades long separatist conflict promoted by pro-Islamic groups has resumed with increased intensity registering almost daily attacks, bombings, shootings and sporadic beheadings. For this the Thai army has launched a campaign to ensure “security”, which has only exacerbated clashes between the various factions.

The war in southern Thailand has so far caused at least 6,100 victims, most of them civilians. Prime Minister Najib admitted that it “will take time” to achieve any results. Moreover, already last year Malaysia hosted a series of peace talks between one of the rebel groups fighting the government then in office, led by former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. These talks stalled with the fall of the executive and the ‘rise to power of the military, led by Prayut.

The Malaysian Prime Minister says it is essential that all the rebel movements unite and speak with one voice, formalizing their demands, so that serious negotiations can begin with Bangkok. According to experts, so far the divisions within the various movements and the fragmentation of the separatist struggle have undermined all peace efforts.

The Muslim majority in the southern region of Thailand, an overwhelmingly Buddhist nation, has never accepted Bangkok’s rule: the local population speaks a Malaysian dialect and follow customs and traditions rooted in Muslim culture. Protesting against the visit of Prime Minister Prayut to Malaysia, yesterday dozens of people demonstrated outside the Thai embassy in Kuala Lumpur, shouting that the former general “illegally” came to power.

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

Hong Kong Students Vow to Continue Protests

Hunger strikes will go on till government accepts talks: leader

(ANSA) Hong Kong, December 2 — Hong Kong students vowed Tuesday to continue their hunger strike protest until the former colony’s government accepts discussions on reforms.

“We respect the decision by Occupy Central founders but we will continue to stay here and hunger strike until the government accepts to talk to us,” said Scholarism group leader Joshua Wong at a news conference.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Hong Kong: Occupy Central Leaders to Surrender to Police, Card Zen to Join Them

It is unclear whether police will take them into custody or let them go. Occupy leaders call on students to stop their sit-ins and, to pre-empt frustrations and violent, urge them to develop alternative ways to continue the struggle. As the University Student Federation pledges to escalate protests, Scholarism’s young leader Joshua Wong goes on a hunger strike.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) — The three founding leaders of Occupy Central have decided to surrender tomorrow at 3 pm to Hong Kong police, assuming responsibility for the acts of civil disobedience that led to the occupation of public spaces.

Other important supporters, like Catholic Cardinal and bishop emeritus of Hong Kong Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, will join them tomorrow. The prelate had pledged to surrender as well, to express his closeness to the movement and the students.

Benny Tai Yiu-ting, Rev Chu Yiu-ming and Dr Chan Kin-man (pictured) announced their plan to surrender at a press conference today. “We don’t know what will happen after we hand ourselves in, whether we will be detained or released, but we are prepared for the consequences,” Tai said.

Tai also said the leaders want students to pull back from protest sites, which have crippled parts of the city for more than two months, urging them to continue the struggle for democracy by other, more fruitful means.

Tai, Chan and Chu are co-founders of the Occupy movement. For some years, they have tried to raise public awareness about the value of democracy. To this end, they organised a referendum in June that saw the participation of 800,000 voters.

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has downplayed Occupy’s influence. In a report to mainland authorities, he cited neither the movement nor its referendum.

Occupy has always called for direct elections to the post of Chief Executive based on universal suffrage.

Last August, Beijing came up with a proposal that included universal suffrage but limited voters’ choice to a candidates preselected by a committee controlled by Beijing.

In the wake of this decision, Occupy leaders urged people to come out to protest and at least 10,000 heeded the call to civil disobedience and the occupation of key sections of Hong Kong’s business district.

The goal was to stage a protest on 1 October. However, the Scholarism movement (which represents high school students), and the Hong Kong University Student Federation came out ahead of time and occupied the Admiralty and Mong Kok.

The ??Occupy movement initially expected the occupation to last a few days. Instead, students have kept it going to this day.

For Occupy leaders, the occupation has to be based on peaceful non-violence. However, in recent weeks, police provocation has led to clashes between security forces and the more radicalised students.

In order to save the movement from drifting towards violence, the three leaders want to end the occupation and develop new forms of struggle for democracy. This would spare students further frustrations, generate by the lack of talks with the authorities over the past two months because of the intransigence of the Hong Kong and Chinese governments.

“Surrendering to the police is not a sign of cowardice. It shows our courage to honour our commitment,” the Occupy leaders said in a letter.

All three “urge students to retreat to put down deep roots in the community and transform the movement to extend the spirit of the umbrella movement,” Tai said. “When violence erupts, it is time to consider the transformation of the movement”.

The three leaders blame the government for the outbreak of violence because of its failure to meet the students’ genuine demands vis-à-vis the election process.

However, the move by the Occupy co-founders is out of step with the Federation of Students, who this week called for an escalation of protests.

In addition, Joshua Wong, the 18-year-old leader of protest group Scholarism, announced last night that he and two others are going on a hunger strike to press the city government to restart dialogue with the students over political reform.

“We are not abandoning the occupiers,” Benny Tai said during a press conference. “We are urging them to understand the fight for democracy is a long one and we need energy to fight on”.

In fact, even though he called for an end to the current sit-ins, “The message to the Hong Kong government is clear: even if you clear the occupied sites, you can’t clear people’s demands for democracy”.

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

Hong Kong’s Occupy Central Founders Urge Protesters to Retreat

The founding members of Hong Kong’s Occupy Central movement have called on pro-democracy activists to pull back from their main protest site. Earlier, student leader Joshua Wong had called on supporters to regroup.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Occupy Central Urges Hong Kong Protesters to Retreat

The co-founders of the Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong have repeated their call for protesters to retreat.

Benny Tai, Chan Kin-man and Chu Yiu-ming also said they would turn themselves in to police on Wednesday.

Occupy Central initially led the pro-democracy protests, but has receded as students continued with demonstrations.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

South Korean Christians Allowed to Put Up Christmas Tree Near Border With Atheist North Korea

South Korean authorities will permit a Christian group to put up a Christmas tree along the border with North Korea, which is likely to cause friction between the nations; Kim Jong-un’s regime is officially atheist.

Pyongyang charged that the recently-dismantled tower, which had stood for 43 years, was tantamount to propaganda warfare, and may interpret the Christian group’s Christmas plan the same way.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

36 Feared Killed in Attack in Kenyan Village

(CNN) — Al Shabaab militants are suspected of killing at least 36 people whose bodies were found in a quarry in a Kenyan village near its border with Somalia.

The bodies were found in a quarry in the village of Kormey, about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the border city of Mandera, the Red Cross said.

It’s an area where Al Shabaab militants are known to operate.

Around 20 gunmen targeted a group of workers at the site, CNN affiliate KTN reported.

[Return to headlines]

Islamist Extremists Kill 36 Quarry Workers in Kenya

(ANSA) — Nairobi, December 2 — Islamist extremists from the Somalia-based al-Shabaab (the Youth) militia have slaughtered 36 quarry workers in northeastern Kenya, the Red Cross said Tuesday.

The massacre by what was reportedly a commando of 11 men took place on the night between Monday and Tuesday, 15 kms from the city of Mandera located near the border with Somalia.

The victims, all non-Muslim workers at a nearby quarry, were attacked in their sleep, some of them horribly decapitated.

Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack and promised new ones would be carried out. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday sacked the national police chief and the interior minister and announced he will wage war on the Somali militia, the BBC reported.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Militants Kill 36 Non-Muslims in Northern Kenya

The heavily armed Somali men roused the sleeping quarry workers in the dead of night.

As in previous such attacks, the gunmen singled out the non-Muslims by asking them to recite the Islamic creed. Then they killed 36 of them — most with a gunshot to the back of the head, according to a survivor who hid nearby during the slaughter.

The Islamic militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the methodical massacre in northern Kenya early Tuesday — 10 days after a similar attack on a bus that killed 28 — and it prompted President Uhuru Kenyatta to shake up his national security team amid public outrage over the continuing violence.

“I know we are all under a lot of pressure, but I appeal to each one of us: This is not a time to be cowed by the enemy,” Kenyatta said in a nationally televised address.

“This is a war we must win,” he said. “We will not flinch or relent in the war against terrorism in our country and our region.”

Al-Shabab has been fighting for years to establish hard-line Islamic rule in neighboring Somalia. The al-Qaida-linked group has vowed to strike against Kenya for sending its troops into Somalia, and it has claimed it was behind the bus attack and the siege at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi last year that left 67 dead…

[Return to headlines]

Colombian General Alzate Resigns Over FARC Abduction

Colombian General Ruben Dario Alzate, released by Farc rebels on Sunday, has resigned from the armed forces.

Gen Alzate and two companions were abducted while travelling by boat in a remote jungle two weeks ago.

President Juan Manuel Santos has demanded an explanation from the armed forces about how the general came to be kidnapped.

Gen Alzate admitted that he had breached security measures.

Gen Alzate was taken by Farc rebels in a jungle area of Choco province, where the 34th division of the Farc is known to be active.

He was dressed in civilian clothes while travelling along the Atrato river by boat…

[Return to headlines]

Boehner Moves to Push Off Immigration Fight to 2015

House Speaker John Boehner announced plans Tuesday to effectively push off a looming battle over President Obama’s immigration policies until next year, while potentially averting a partial government shutdown later this month.

The speaker met behind closed doors Tuesday with fellow Republicans. Boehner is attempting a balancing act — as he tries to avert a budget showdown, while also letting conservatives vent over the president’s controversial executive actions on immigration.

Congress needs to approve a new spending bill by Dec. 11 to avoid a partial shutdown, and opposition to Obama’s immigration approach has complicated that effort.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

California Pushes to Expand Immigrant Health Care

President Barack Obama’s executive order to spare some immigrants from deportation has galvanized Democrats, immigration groups and health care advocates in California to push for expanding health coverage to a segment of the population that remains uninsured.

The president’s action excludes immigrants who came to the country illegally from qualifying for federal health benefits. But California has its own policy of providing health coverage with state money to low-income immigrants with so-called “deferred action” that allow them to avoid deportation. Immigrant and health care advocates say that means Obama’s executive order will enable hundreds of thousands of low-income immigrants in California to apply for Medi-Cal, California’s version of Medicaid.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Criminal Organisation Suspected of Smuggling People Into Finland

The case began to unravel after a person was caught entering Finland with forged personal documents at Helsinki Airport in late August.

Lieutenant Jyri Siitari, the head of crime prevention at the Gulf of Finland Coast Guard District, reveals that the suspect is a permanent resident of Finland but not a Finnish citizen.

In the cases under investigation, Finland was a transit country for people en route to Sweden and Germany. The responsibilities of the woman included providing forged documents to the illegal arrivals and escorting them into Finland.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germany Second Top Migration Destination of Choice After US

More migrants are heading to Germany than any other wealthy country except the US, according to the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

An OECD report out Monday (1 December) says Germany recorded a double-digit increase in the number of migrants in 2013 and its fourth consecutive annual rise.

Some 450,000 people migrated to Germany last year. Of those, around three quarters come from other EU member states.

Germany is also in pole position in terms of accepting the most Syrian refugees with 110,000 asylum claims, followed by the United States, France, Sweden, and Turkey.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Migrants Arrested for ‘Attack’ on Spanish Cops

Police on Monday arrested three African migrants accused of attacking officers who intercepted a boat with 17 people on board, including children and pregnant women, trying to reach Spanish soil.

Civil Guard boats stopped the vessel off Melilla, a Spanish enclave in northern Morocco, Spanish government officials said in a statement.

Spanish authorities blame human-traffickers for bringing the migrants to the border in the hope of reaching European soil.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

President Obama’s “Deferred Action” Program for Illegal Aliens is Plainly Unconstitutional

By Jan Ting

Based on the statutes, legislative history, case law, and analysis presented above, I conclude that each of the three assertions of legal authority needed to implement President Obama’s “deferred action” program for some four million illegal aliens plainly violates our statutory immigration laws. The deferral of removal is based on spurious claims, clearly exceeds the bounds of prosecutorial discretion, and directly violates a provision of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996; grants of advance parole also directly violate a provision of the 1996 Act; and granting employment authorization to millions of illegal aliens directly contradicts numerous court decisions holding that the Executive Branch may not under color of its power to administer the immigration laws circumvent the statutory limits on the number of aliens allowed to compete in the U.S. labor market. Taken together, the three illegal steps amount to a usurpation of Congress’s exclusive constitutional authority to formulate immigration policy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Thousands Protest Asylum Policy in Dresden

More than 7,000 opponents of Germany’s policy towards asylum seekers marched in the eastern city on Monday evening.

Dresden has seen successive demonstrations over what participants regard as excessive influence of Islam in Germany and Europe. Marches were called by the so-called Pegida Alliance, an abbreviation of the German for “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West”.

The issues of asylum seekers and Islam have fuelled tensions in a number of cities this autumn. Numerous demonstrations took place against what participants regard as excessive influence on society by Islamic communities.

Some protests specifically targetted the Salafist branch of Islam and bids by some members to introduce aspects of Sharia law in German cities.

Forty-five people, including 44 police officers, were injured last month in Cologne during clashes with right-wing groups marching under the banner “Hooligans against Salafists”.

Growing activism against Islam has also translated into hostility towards asylum seekers in Germany, many of whom come from Islamic countries.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

8 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 12/2/2014

  1. ” recession-wracked Italy reportedly lost 3.7% … ”
    Recession?! Why is that? How come democratically elected geniuses can’t come up with a solution? How come Italy has billions of Liras /Euros but can’t feed their own people and provide “stimulus packages to firms “too big to fail”.

    Ah now I know Daring Liars or Traitor Class will go to Saudi Arabia and Qatar and say ask for money.
    Saudis: Of course we can help if we build 200 more mosques and accept 6 million muslims.
    Traitor Class : Of course you can build as many as you like. I made that answer ready even before leaving Italy. All of Italy is yours.
    Saudis: Allah gives power and land and Europe to those who cleverly know how to brandish the swishing sword.

    • Why is Italy (and much of the rest of Western Europe) “recession wracked” if immigration is the great benefit that the West’s Traitor Class say it is?

  2. What do they expect? I have Moslems in my immediate family and they don’t understand why we put up with such matters in Europe or UK. “Karim” my Brother in Law says he is scared of the Salafists in UK. I have a Moslem Cousin in Law and he doesn’t like it either. In both their countries the burka is banned.

  3. In Sweden, Pippi Longstocking is something more: a national treasure and embodiment of the country’s egalitarian spirit. So when the Swedish national broadcaster announced this fall that it would edit two scenes that it considered offensive in a 1969 television series about Pippi — including one in which she says her father is “king of the Negroes,” using a Swedish word – neger -now viewed as a racial slur — it hit a nerve. Sweden’s largest daily newspaper this fall — said they opposed the revision, some accusing the broadcaster, SVT, of politically correct censorship.

    • ” broadcaster, SVT, of politically correct censorship.”
      Actually, the west is not suffering from PC censorship, it suffering from a greater morbid unhealthy state of mind and spirit. The west is suffering from servility, muslim [fundament-]kissing and shoe-licking. In 1940s “never in history so many people had so much reverence to so few” namely, the young pilots, who had but an average of 2 months to live.

      1914 … never in history have so many people and Continents shown so much groveling,cower and behave so abjectly towards The Cult of beheaders, as in quran 9:5 When the sacred months are over slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and render the alms levy, allow them to go their way. God is forgiving and merciful.
      There is no allah but the sword. History of muhammad (sic)has shown that the sword is more readily obeyed that allah. allah never does anything without a sword.
      Just look what allah is doing through ISIS and in Britain and Malmo to mention a few.

      • There is no such thing as allah. Islam is a lie, a Christian heresy that must be exposed for what it is.

  4. The Swedish Ggovernment’s budget convicted – extraordinary election is announced. At a press conference this evening Stefan Löfven (S) PM announced that an extraordinary elections is planned to March 22, which basically is a long
    awaited vote on the extreme immigration policy.

  5. On Delta College ‘hate crime’. One may ask what is a ‘hate crime’ and indeed there is no such thing – only in the mind of those who kowtow to the politically correct way of doing things. Being stabbed by a classmate is a felonious assault with a weapon used to inflict grievous bodily harm that can also be described as a malicious wounding offence. The assault may have been motivated by racial hatred, but the proofs of the offence is the action carried out by the perpetrator using an instrument or weapon, and the grievous bodily harm done to the victim. The personal motivation for criminal action has no substance as a separate criminal offence and cannot ever be used as a means to charge anyone with a crime because it is the motivator only and not the action by the perpetrator of the offence itself. If the descriptor of ‘hate crime’ gains any traction within the criminal justice system then just being able to prove that someone ‘hates’ someone else can become a crime. Do we really wish to go down that path?

    And on the inciter of racial hatred – Al Sharpton – surely there is now enough evidence in his speeches and broadcasts to charge him with racial incitement for civil unrest?

    And on Dr Harold Rhode – he has some good advice for the West.

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