Gates of Vienna News Feed 12/30/2014

The badly damaged car ferry Norman Atlantic, which caught fire off the island of Corfu, is being towed to Albania. At least ten people died in the fire, and thirty-eight are said to be missing. Two Albanian seamen were killed when a cable towing the ferry snapped.

Meanwhile, the wreckage of the missing AirAsia jet has been found in the Java Sea, and the bodies of passengers are now being recovered.

In other news, a Chinese businessman was sentenced to thirteen years in prison for eating three tigers.

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

Thanks to Diana West, Fjordman, Insubria, Jerry Gordon, and all the other tipsters who sent these in.

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

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

Financial Crisis
» Italy: Recession Likely Ending, But No New Jobs Says ISTAT
» Russian Tourism to Turkey Slumps Due to Economic Crisis
» Doubts on N. Korea Claim? FBI Briefed on Theory Sony Hack Was Inside Job
» Union Chief: “No Resolve” After Hours-Long Meeting With Mayor, Bratton on NYPD Concerns
» US Makes Bullet That Can Change Direction in Mid-Air
» Nine Dead After Edmonton Slayings; Multiple Homicide Scenes
Europe and the EU
» German Firm Buys Greek Island for Top Customers
» Icy Winter Winds Blow Out 2014, Bring New Year in Italy
» Lithuania Adopts Euro
» On Facebook, French is Supporters and Fighters Urge Attacks in France and Europe
» Space Plane That Could Carry People Anywhere in Four Hours Another Step Towards Completion
» Sweden’s Christmas Junta and Why it Matters Here
» U.S. To Station 150 Armored Vehicles in Europe
» UK: 19-Year-Old Released on Bail After Alleged Koran-Burning Video
» Zlatan Joins Sweden’s Growing Billionaire List
» Fire-Damaged Ferry Being Towed to Albania, Sources Say
» Two Albanian Sailors Die in Attempt to Tow Stricken Norman Atlantic
North Africa
» Libya: EU Ready for Sanctions on ‘Those Fuelling Violence’
Israel and the Palestinians
» UN Security Council Nixes Palestinian Resolution
Middle East
» Grisly Finds in Iraqi Yazidi Village Taken Back From ISIS Militants
» Has Qatar Turned Away From Islamist Support in the Middle East?
» ISIS: Jordan King Follows Case of Pilot Captured in Syria
» Obama’s NPR Interview Raises Troubling Questions About Normalization of Relations With Iran?
» Oil Drops From 5-Year Low as U.S. Stockpiles Seen Adding to Glut
» Tehran Air Pollution Puts Nearly 400 in Hospital
» Turkey: Dog Rape Suspect Controversially Freed by Animal-Abasing Judge
» UN, EU Concerned That Arrest of Top Bahraini Shiite Leader Could Worsen Political Standoff
» Eastern Germans’ Soft Spot for Russia
South Asia
» Airasia QZ8501: Bodies, Debris Spotted in Java Sea
» At Least 40 Bodies, Debris Found in Search for Missing Airasia Plane
» Bangladesh Islamist Politician Sentenced to Death for War Crimes
» Militants Hit Pakistan Schools in Arson Attacks
Far East
» Chinese Businessman Gets 13 Years in Jail for Eating Tigers
» North Korean Defector Details ‘Human Experiments’
Australia — Pacific
» Swedes Begging to Fund Australia Backpacking
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Where Does Ebola Come From?
» Italy: Migrant Ship Heads for Salerno, Coast Guard on Board

Italy: Recession Likely Ending, But No New Jobs Says ISTAT

Oil price drop could have negative fallout for Italy

(ANSA) — Rome, December 30 — Italy’s economy may be pulling out of recession, Istat national statistics bureau said Tuesday.

“We expect the contraction phase of the Italian economy to cease in the coming months due to positive internal demand signals,” Istat said. “However labor market conditions remain difficult…with the unemployment rate on the rise”. Stagnant growth is likely in the fourth quarter this year, Istat added. “Overall… growth in the final quarter of (2014) will remain substantially stationary,” the bureau said. Istat also said a drop in worldwide crude oil prices will not affect Italy.

“The drop in oil prices will likely have limited expansionary effects,” the bureau said in its monthly report on the national economy.

A fall in energy prices could accentuate “the deflationary drive with a negative impact on expectations…highly indebted countries will see a rise in the real price of their debt”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Russian Tourism to Turkey Slumps Due to Economic Crisis

(ANSAmed) — ISTANBUL, DECEMBER 24 — The number of Russian tourists visiting Turkey has slumped due to the economic crisis in Russia triggered by the fall in oil prices and the weakness of the ruble, Daily Sabah online reports quoting the latest statistics published by the tourism ministry. The number of Russians visiting Turkey fell by 18.45% in November from the same period the year earlier, according to the data. Arrivals were recorded from 62,961 Russians in November. In November 2013, 77,210 Russians had visited Turkey, up by 6.11% on 2012.

The popularity of Turkey among Russian tourists has long been crucial to the Turkish tourism industry which is one of the mainstays of the wider economy. However with Russians having to tighten their belts and the ruble bringing far less spending power than before, many are now opting to stay at home for their holidays. The figures showed that Germans were by far the most frequent visitors to Turkey, with almost 255,000 recorded arriving in November alone. Arrivals from the United States also fell 24.5% but visitors from neighbouring Greece continued to rise, up 4.6% to over 61,500 arrivals in November.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Doubts on N. Korea Claim? FBI Briefed on Theory Sony Hack Was Inside Job

A security firm has brought new evidence to the FBI that it claims points to a laid-off employee and others as the hackers behind the massive cyber-breach at Sony, even as the bureau publicly stands by its explanation that North Korea executed the attack.

Kurt Stammberger, senior vice president for market development at cyber intelligence firm Norse, told that his company was turning over “raw data” to the FBI on Tuesday. He said the company also briefed the FBI for “two or three hours” on Monday during a meeting in St. Louis.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Union Chief: “No Resolve” After Hours-Long Meeting With Mayor, Bratton on NYPD Concerns

The president of the city’s biggest police union said “time will tell” how the de Blasio administration responds to police safety concerns raised during a two-hour closed-door meeting Tuesday between the mayor, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and the heads of the five NYPD unions.

The meeting was intended to begin repairing the widening rift between de Blasio and much of the rank-and-file police force. Tensions have escalated in recent weeks over the executions of two NYPD officers in Brooklyn and City Hall’s response to protests over police conduct in the wake of a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict an officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

US Makes Bullet That Can Change Direction in Mid-Air

The United States Department of Defense has successfully tested a bullet that can change direction after it has been fired, apparently using fins built into the shell to direct it in the air and account for wind and targets moving.

The Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance weapon, known as Exacto, is made by American industrial company Teledyne Technologies. The firm is making the bullet for the American government’s military research agency, Darpa.

A video made by the company shows the bullet being fired twice, deliberately off target. The second time it swings back in towards the target and hits.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Nine Dead After Edmonton Slayings; Multiple Homicide Scenes

A suicidal male is being blamed for the deaths of eight people — including five adults and two children found in a north Edmonton home — marking the largest mass homicide in the city’s history.

The violence began around 6:52 p.m. Monday when police were called to a home near Haswell Court and 16 Avenue and found a middle-aged woman deceased. Police believe a man entered the residence and shot the woman before fleeing the scene.

An hour-and-a-half later, officers were called to a home near 83 Street and 180 Avenue to check on the welfare of an emotionally unstable man, but he wasn’t there.

“According to the family, the male seemed depressed and overly emotional,” said Edmonton police Chief Rod Knecht, noting there was nothing suspicious at the home at the time.

“The family was concerned that the male may be suicidal.”

Police left the home, but later returned around 12:23 a.m. after receiving further information. Inside, they found the bodies of three female adults, two male adults, and two young children — one male and female — shot dead.

Two hours later, city cops headed out to the VN Express Restaurant in Fort Saskatchewan, where they discovered a black SUV that matched the description of the vehicle believed to be associated to the first slaying in southwest Edmonton.

RCMP later shut down the downtown core of Fort Saskatchewan around 9 a.m. Several witnesses in the area watched police blow out the front door and a large window of the restaurant. A police dog was also sent into the business, along with a police-controlled robot.

RCMP found a male deceased in the restaurant from what appeared to be an apparent suicide. Police said it’s the same suicidal male Edmonton detectives had been looking for earlier.

“This series of events are not believed to be random acts and there is no risk to the broader public,” said Knecht, adding homicide detectives have established links between the two homicide locations.

“These events do not appear to be gang related, but rather tragic incidents of domestic violence.”…

[Return to headlines]

German Firm Buys Greek Island for Top Customers

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, DECEMBER 24 — A German company that specializes in eyewear has offered to buy customers a Greek island if they buy 420,000 frames from the company as Kathimerini online reports. Libuda Optic World, which manufactures and sells glasses, has offered to buy the island of Aghios Athanasios, with a land surface of around a hectare, in the Corinthian Gulf as part of a regular incentives program it offers its big customers. A company spokesman told Kathimerini that the company has offered flights to space in previous programs and that the latest offer is based on Germans’ fondness for spending their vacations in Greece. Real estate agents value the island at around 1.5 million euros. Libuda will also purchase the island for their customers if they buy 155,000 frames and contribute another 1 million euros toward the transaction.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Icy Winter Winds Blow Out 2014, Bring New Year in Italy

Temperatures fall as low as -20C in central Abruzzo region

(ANSA) — Rome, December 30 — The year 2014 was ending on a very cold note across Italy as Arctic-inspired winds blew from north to south down the peninsula, bringing unusually low temperatures, snow and ice.

The cold front that kept the thermometer below zero all day Tuesday in the normally temperate capital city of Rome was forecast to linger much of the week, including New Year’s Day on Thursday.

Snow was expected in many parts of east-central and southern Italy where it is not often seen, and civil protection authorities began issuing freezing temperature warnings extending through Wednesday.

Many parts of central Italy faced a deep freeze on Tuesday, as temperatures dropped as low as -20 degrees Celsius in Abruzzo while snow continued to fall and fierce winds caused train delays along the Adriatic coast.

High winds blew a tarp onto electrical wires on the train tracks between the Adriatic coastal towns of Ancona and Falconara, delaying trains along the line.

Temperatures at the Gran Sasso Campo Imperatore ski resort in Abruzzo fell to -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees F), where lifts and runs remained closed as a snowstorm with whipping winds battered the area.

Motorists on the highways in Abruzzo were urged by motorway authorities to use caution when driving the region’s A24 and A25 motorways through New Years Eve, as forecasts called for between two to eight inches of snow.

Meanwhile, in the mountainous central region of Umbria, light snowfall dusted much of the region but concentrated mainly in the capital city of Perugia.

Further south of Rome in the Molise region, icy rain was reported Tuesday triggering fears that highways would turn to ice during the night as temperatures fell.

Strong winds through Naples and east into Caserta kept firefighters occupied, chasing flying debris from torn rooftops, broken trees and billboards.

Not even the island of Sardinia has been spared, as snow was reported there on Tuesday.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Lithuania Adopts Euro

Lithuania is set to adopt the euro on January 1. The country has been stepping up trade with the West as it strives to be less reliable on Russia for trade.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

On Facebook, French is Supporters and Fighters Urge Attacks in France and Europe

The launch of the military campaign against the Islamic State (IS), in which France and Belgium have enlisted, has sparked a flurry of French-language posts by IS supporters and fighters on the social media calling for terror attacks in Europe and particularly in France.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Space Plane That Could Carry People Anywhere in Four Hours Another Step Towards Completion

A plane that could one day fly anywhere in the world in four hours, and carry spaceships out of the atmosphere without using rockets, is another step towards being built after it received approval from the European Space Agency (ESA).

The ESA acted as an independent auditor for Reaction Engines’ Sabre technology, which works like a jet engine in the atmosphere and a rocket in space and could transform air travel. The company hopes to eventually attach the engine to its Skylon plane.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sweden’s Christmas Junta and Why it Matters Here

by Diana West

In a post titled “The Christmas Junta,’ Gates of Vienna reports on appalling developments in Sweden, where the political establishment’s policy of population replacement via mass Third World immigration is being challenged in parliament by the lone opposition party, Sweden Democrats. Rather than play by democracy’s rules, the Establishment is going junta.

This is a very important piece with direct relevance to our condition here. Why?

The American people are undergoing an identical “junta”-like suppression here, particularly if we allow for the differences between the US and Swedish governing systems. We have the same Democrat/GOP Establishment flouting the wishes (votes) of Americans, ramming through, with shameful ease, dictator-amnesty over the objections of the same embattled minority/opposition. Indeed, Swedes may be at an advantage since Sweden Democrats holds 13 percent of the parliament — likely a higher percentage of immigration stalwarts than the GOP can lay claim to, no matter how stupendous Sen. Jeff Sessions is.

I went to Sweden six years ago and interviewed members of Sweden Democrats. They were a tiny, fractional party then, with perhaps a couple of members in parliament. Members of the other political parties wouldn’t shake their hands, let alone speak to them. Sweden Democrat rallies and meetings were often scenes of physical attack and intimidation by so-called “anti-fascists.” With a consistent anti-immigration, pro-Sweden/West/Israel message, they have come an amazingly long way to become the third largest party in Swedish parliament today — provoking the other political parties to destroy their own democracy to avoid SD’s popularity — and all over the Establishment’s schemes to maintain/increase immigration, the largest in Europe today…

           — Hat tip: Diana West [Return to headlines]

U.S. To Station 150 Armored Vehicles in Europe

(Reuters) — The United States plans by the end of next year to station around 150 tanks and armored vehicles in Europe for use by U.S. forces training there, according to a U.S. military commander.

Some of the tanks and vehicles — enough to equip an armored brigade — could be placed in Poland, Romania or the Baltic states, Lieutenant-General Ben Hodges, commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, said in a telephone interview with Reuters from Wiesbaden, Germany.

Hodges said a proposal to have a U.S. brigade rotate to Europe was first made two years ago, before the crisis over Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UK: 19-Year-Old Released on Bail After Alleged Koran-Burning Video

A 19-year-old from Leeds, West Yorkshire, who was arrested in connection with an offensive video he posted on a social media website has been released on bail. A video, which was shared to the Yorkshire Standard, showed a man ripping apart an English translation of the Koran with his teeth and putting it in the toilet before burning it.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Zlatan Joins Sweden’s Growing Billionaire List

There are more Swedish billionaires than ever before, an annual list has found, with 147 Swedes able to put at least nine zeros on the end of their bank account balance.

There was no change at the top of Swedish business magazine Veckans Affärer’s list of Swedes with a wealth of at least 1 billion kronor ($127 million).

Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad finished in the top spot with an estimated wealth of 550 billion kronor.

H&M frontman Stefan Persson finished second with a fortune of 251 billion.

Over the last ten years, the total number of billionaires in Sweden has shot up by 50 percent.

There were 17 new faces in the magazine’s 2014 list, including gaming developer Jakob Porsér whose bank balance skyrocketed when Microsoft purchased Minecraft earlier this year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Fire-Damaged Ferry Being Towed to Albania, Sources Say

Greek media say 38 people missing after disaster

Intelligence sources said Tuesday that the fire-damaged ferry Norman Atlantic, which caught fire killing at least 10 and forcing evacuation of 427 people, was being towed towards Albania.

Although Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said Monday all were evacuated from the car ferry, Greek media reported some 38 people were still missing.

Italian authorities say it is difficult to pin down precise numbers because not everyone who reserved a place on the ferry, which was travelling to Italy from Greece, showed up. Stowaways were also possible.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Two Albanian Sailors Die in Attempt to Tow Stricken Norman Atlantic

Two Albanian seamen were killed when a cable connecting their tugboat to the fire-stricken ferry Norman Atlantic broke on Tuesday morning after towing the gutted ferry throughout the night.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Libya: EU Ready for Sanctions on ‘Those Fuelling Violence’

Foreign policy chief calls for UN measures

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, DECEMBER 30 — EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini issued a statement Tuesday declaring that “the EU stands ready to implement restrictive measures against those fuelling violence in Libya”.

“I underline that only political dialogue can bring a solution to the Libyan crisis,” she added in relation to rising levels of tension in the country.

“The recent violence in Libya, including the fighting in the Gulf of Sirte and the airstrikes on targets in Misrata, can only bring further suffering to the Libyan people. Those who are consciously undermining the efforts by the UN to de-escalate the situation and to set the basis for a political dialogue are subject to international sanctions under UNSCR 2174.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UN Security Council Nixes Palestinian Resolution

NEW YORK (JTA) — A Palestinian-backed U.N. resolution setting a deadline for a peace deal with Israel failed to garner sufficient votes for passage in the U.N. Security Council.

The resolution, which was voted on Tuesday, was aimed at achieving a full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank by late 2017.

Eight nations on the 15-member council votes yes, two voted no and five abstained. Nine votes were required for passage.

Had nine votes been obtained, the United States, which voted against the resolution, was expected to exercise its Security Council veto. The United States believes a final settlement between Israel and the Palestinians must be negotiated by the parties themselves.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, called the draft resolution “deeply imbalanced” and slammed the council for the unusual move of putting the resolution to a vote without any debate.

“We voted against it because we know what everyone here knows as well: Peace will come from hard choices and compromises that must come at the negotiating table,” Power said.

“This text addresses the concerns of only one side,” she said. “It would undermine efforts to get back to an atmosphere that achieves two states for two peoples.”

The deadlines in the resolution, she said, “take no account of Israel’s legitimate security concerns”.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

Grisly Finds in Iraqi Yazidi Village Taken Back From ISIS Militants

Hardan is one of a number of tiny villages dotting the plains of northern Iraq populated by members of the Yazidi religious community. When the Islamic State group swept through the area in early August, its fighters unleashed some of their most brutal atrocities against the Yazidis — whom they consider heretics. Hundreds were killed, and the militants abducted hundreds of Yazidi women and girls, enlisting them as sex slaves given to their fighters and supporters, according to accounts by escaped women and reports collected by the U.N. and rights groups.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Has Qatar Turned Away From Islamist Support in the Middle East?

Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal published an intriguing analysis by Yaroslav Trofimov of the of Qatar’s apparent withdrawal from being a broker in the murky world of Middle East peace and Islamist causes, “Qatar Scales Back Role in Middle East Conflicts.” Trofimov noted:

From mediating in Lebanon and Sudan to helping rebels in Libya and Syria and backing the Palestinian group Hamas, Qatar has been involved in virtually every Middle Eastern flash point. But, under pressure from bigger neighbors Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, it has moved in recent weeks to distance itself from its traditional posture of championing Islamist movements—particularly the Muslim Brotherhood—in Egypt and elsewhere.

“The Qataris were a little bit shaken about how much blowback they have had,” said Abdullah Baabood, director of the Gulf Studies Center at Qatar University. “The recent events show they have overstretched themselves. They will now pick their battles and focus on what serves best their strategic interests.”

Trofimov drew attention to some demonstrable turns of events in December 2014 following the dustup in March when envoys from three Arab States in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Bahrain, the UAE and Saudi Arabia withdrew their Ambassadors. In November the UAE followed Saudi Arabia and listed the Muslim Brotherhood and affiliates Hamas, CAIR and the Muslim American Society in the US as terrorist organizations. Trofimov noted the turnabout: After their threats to boycott a summit of Gulf monarchies in Doha this month, Qatar revised its stance on the critical point of disagreement—how to treat the Muslim Brotherhood and the current Egyptian leadership, which ousted the Islamist group from power last year. Having expelled several Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders ahead of the summit, Qatar sent a senior envoy to Egypt on Dec. 20 to seek a rapprochement with President Abdel Fattah El -Sisi. Two days later, Qatar shut down the Egyptian channel of its Al Jazeera TV network, an outlet for the Brotherhood and other opponents of Egypt’s current leadership. “The security of Egypt is important for the security of Qatar,” Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani said.

Earlier on December 6, 2014, we reported that the Qatari Ambassador to the US, H.E. Mohammed Jaham Al-Kuwari at a presentation before the Pensacola, Florida Tiger Bay Club proclaimed, “We do not support Hamas”. He astounded some in the audience. That was in contrast to the views of Jon Schanzer of the Washington, DC-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies who in a September 2014 Congressional hearing said, “That Qatar is currently Hamas’ ATM”. We noted Qatar’s pledge of $1 billion to rebuild Gaza after the cease fire that ended the 50 day war in the summer of 2014. Qatar had provided a luxurious safe haven for billionaire Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal. The Ambassador said, “Better to have Khaled Meshaal in Qatar than across the Gulf in Iran”. Trofimov in his WSJ analysis cites the characterization of Qatar by a human rights critic:

Despite its rhetoric in favor of democratic change in the region, the absolute monarchy has remained just as repressive as its neighbors, said Najab al Nuaimi, the country’s former justice minister who is now a prominent human-rights lawyer.”It is a police state. There is no democracy in Qatar. If you open your mouth, they will even strip you of your passport,” he said. “We supported directly all the uprisings, with violence, with guns—but only the Brotherhood, not the liberals.”Thus, tiny Qatar has been forced to rein in its support of the Islamist jihadist causes because of geo-political realities, leaving Turkey’s President Erdogan as the lone supporter of Hamas in the region. That has been fueled by the US energy revolution producing a glut in the weakened demand for oil and gas that precipitated the plummeting oil and gas prices. We can thank American entrepreneurial enterprise for causing the drop in revenues to energy dependent producers like Russia, Iran and Venezuela and quickening the possible demise of OPEC.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

ISIS: Jordan King Follows Case of Pilot Captured in Syria

Authorities should exchange prisoners, Salafi activists say

(ANSAmed) — AMMAN, DECEMBER 24 — The Islamic state has captured a Jordanian pilot after downing his plane with a rocket during an attack over Syria city of al Raqa, army sources announced on Wednesday.

Pictures of the Jordanian pilot, Moath Kassasbeh in hands of IS fighters went viral over the internet as Jordan said it was following his case very closely, including king Abdullah.

Jordan said it will hold IS responsible for safety of Kasasbeh with official source suggesting authorities were ready to exchange the pilot with some of IS individuals currently spending time in Jordanian prisons.

Jordan has been among the first Arab countries to join the anti-IS alliance, sending its planes and using its widespread intelligence tools to help bring down the hard-line group.

Salafi activists in Jordan told ANSA that authorities have no choice but to negotiate with IS over the capture of its pilot and would be obliged to release some of IS figures, including Abu Mohammad al Tahawee, who is in prison over ties to the group.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Obama’s NPR Interview Raises Troubling Questions About Normalization of Relations With Iran?

President Obama held a year end interview with NPR’s Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep on December 17, 2014 that aired today. During the interview Obama was questioned about possible normalization of relations with Iran. He coyly said , “ I never say never”. He also said that he might like to see the Islamic regime become a “successful regional power in the region”.. All while the P5+1 beavers away trying to conclude a nuclear deal with Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran, the last time we looked, is still called a state sponsor of terrorism by the State Department Read the transcript here

This sounds like legacy building akin to his dramatic announcement of a renewal of relations with Communist Cuba. Perhaps the December 19, 2014 signing of the US Israel Strategic Partnership Act was to bolster the Labor- Hatnua alliance in the March 17, 2015 snap election for a new Knesset. The leftist alliance position is that the right in Israel have abused the partnership with the US through approval of settlement building authorizations undermining possible two state peace arrangements with the Palestinian Authority. Meanwhile the PA supported by Arab League is rushing to file a resolution for a vote by the UN Security Council demanding a peace deal with Israel within a year for and the end of alleged Israeli occupation of the West Bank by 2017. The PA, the Arab League and sponsor of the proposed resolution, Jordan have been emboldened by the Recent actions of the European Parliaments and several EU member states passing symbolic Palestinian statehood resolutions. There has been an indication from Secretary Kerry that the US might veto the Palestinian resolution as it might jeopardize the March 2017 Israeli snap elections result. Meaning that Israeli leftist allies might hopefully form a new ruling coalition more amenable to a peace deal . There have also been leaks that the US might threaten to abstain from such a resolution. The PA believes it may have sufficient votes on the Security Council to pass such a resolution.

Today’s State Department Press Briefing evinced concerns over the President NPR interview in an exchange between Jeff Rathke, Director of the Department’s Press Office and AP’s Matt Lee who covers both the White House and State Daily Press Briefings.Since taking office, President Obama has written four letters to Ayatollah Khamenei. All have been dismissed by the Supreme Ruler. The fourth and latest ‘secret’ October 2014 letter suggesting that the US and Iran had common interests regarding the Islamic State came amidst P5+1 efforts to obtain a final agreement by the deadline of November 24, 2014. That failed to interest Khamenei leading to the P5+1 to set a new date for June 2015. Obama was roundly criticized by both querulous Arab allies and Israeli PM Netanyahu as constituting appeasement of this state sponsor of terrorism. Joseph Puder in a FrontPage Magazine article on November 17, 2014 wrote:

Ayatollah Khamenei rejected Obama’s overtures for improved relations, and in the words of Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, the latest letter smacks of “Obama chasing after Khamenei in the undignified and counterproductive manner of a frustrated suitor.”

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

Oil Drops From 5-Year Low as U.S. Stockpiles Seen Adding to Glut

Oil fell for a fourth day, extending losses from a five-year low amid speculation that U.S. crude inventories will stay at the highest level since June, offering no relief from a global glut.

Oil has slumped 46 percent this year, set for the biggest annual decline since 2008, as the highest U.S. production in more than three decades contributed to a global surplus estimated by Qatar at 2 million barrels a day. Saudi Arabia, which is steering the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to resist cutting output, has said it’s confident that prices will rebound as economic growth boosts demand.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Tehran Air Pollution Puts Nearly 400 in Hospital

TEHRAN: Almost 400 people have been hospitalized with heart and respiratory problems caused by heavy air pollution in Tehran, with nearly 1,500 others requiring treatment, an official said Tuesday.

Year round, more than four million cars spew exhaust fumes into the atmosphere of the Iranian capital. The situation worsens in winter, when cold air leads to a carcinogenic fog that blankets the city.

The latest casualties were treated Monday, according to Hassan Abbas, an emergency services manager quoted by the official IRNA news agency. “Some 392 people were admitted to hospital due to respiratory and heart problems,” he said. “We treated another 1,434 externally.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Turkey: Dog Rape Suspect Controversially Freed by Animal-Abasing Judge

A suspect of raping a dog was acquitted of all charges Dec. 30 in a trial that drew much attention after its judge abased the animal who was the victim of the violence, calling her “a mongrel,” prompting a social media campaign.

The verdict may trigger more outcry as the defendant, identified only as H.Y., was not present at the hearing, which was largely attended by animal rights groups, nongovernmental organizations, lawyers representing various bars, as well as main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmakers Melda Onur and Mahmut Tanal.

The suspect, who was facing between 10 months and four years in jail for the crime, had denied all accusations of sexual abuse during the eventful first hearing, despite video evidence collected by security cameras.

Stressing that the footage was widely spread on the Internet, activists denounced the verdict as the “reflection into justice of the state’s patriarchal policies legitimizing rape.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UN, EU Concerned That Arrest of Top Bahraini Shiite Leader Could Worsen Political Standoff

The UN human rights chief on Tuesday called on Bahrain’s government to immediately release the leader of the country’s main Shiite opposition group and the European Union warned that his arrest could further destabilize an already fragile political environment.

Sheikh Ali Salman’s arrest on Sunday has been widely viewed as an escalation that is likely to deepen the political standoff between the Arab nation’s majority Shiite population and its Sunni-led monarchy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Eastern Germans’ Soft Spot for Russia

In Dresden, thousands of pro-Russian protesters have taken to the streets for several weeks, denouncing the “Lügenpresse” (“liar press”) as part of an out-of-touch political elite. Polls find a significantly friendlier attitude toward Russia among Easterners.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Airasia QZ8501: Bodies, Debris Spotted in Java Sea

Indonesian officials have said that bodies and debris have been spotted off the coast of Borneo Island. These are thought to be from an AirAsia flight that went missing on Sunday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

At Least 40 Bodies, Debris Found in Search for Missing Airasia Plane

At least 40 bodies have been found in the area where AirAsia Flight 8501 last made contact with air traffic controllers, along with debris from the plane.

The bodies were found in the Java Sea about six miles from the plane’s last known point of contact. The plane disappeared Sunday with 162 people on board traveling from Surbaya, Indonesia to Singapore.

The bodies were were not wearing life jackets, according to Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Director, SB Supriyadi.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Bangladesh Islamist Politician Sentenced to Death for War Crimes

A tribunal in Bangladesh has sentenced a senior member of the Islamist party to death for atrocities committed during the country’s 1971 independence war. He is the 16th person to be convicted in the war crimes inquiry.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Militants Hit Pakistan Schools in Arson Attacks

Militants have torched two schools in northwest Pakistan. No one has claimed responsibility, but the Pakistani Taliban is known to target schools as it opposes secular education and the teaching of girls.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Chinese Businessman Gets 13 Years in Jail for Eating Tigers

A wealthy real-estate developer in China has found that money might buy him many things but it can’t keep him out of jail. The man was sentenced this week to 13 years in prison for buying and eating three tigers.

There is an unproven belief in China that the tiger’s penis makes a man viral and other parts of the tiger were once, and still are by some, considered valuable ingredients in medicines.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

North Korean Defector Details ‘Human Experiments’

A former officer in Pyongyang’s armed forces says mentally and physically disabled children are used as subjects in chemical weapons experiments in North Korea, a claim denied by the supporters of the communist nation.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Swedes Begging to Fund Australia Backpacking

As hundreds of thousands of Swedes head for sunshine over the winter holidays, police in Australia have reported a rise in young Scandinavians posing as bogus beggars.

Swedish tourists are begging on the streets of Melbourne in order to help fund their trips during the holiday season, with the region’s police force, Melbourne City Council and the Salvation Army all raising concerns about the problem.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Where Does Ebola Come From?

New clues from Guinea yield tantalizing pieces of the puzzle

The new work from Leendertz falls short of fingering the bat species that may be behind Ebola, but it does shed light on other circumstances around the outbreak. His team also found it’s unlikely that primates — another top candidate for the animal reservoir title — were behind this outbreak.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italy: Migrant Ship Heads for Salerno, Coast Guard on Board

To verify ship administration

(ANSAmed) — ROME, DECEMBER 30 — An Italian navy EH 101 helicopter on Tuesday dropped three Coast Guard officials onto the Blue Sky M cargo ship carrying 600 migrants.

The navy said that their task was to verify the ship’s management conditions. An Air Force HH-139 helicopter reached the ship in the evening to bring three port authority officials as well.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

4 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 12/30/2014

  1. From the ferry insidence: the Danish newspaper BT is reporting that witnesses are telling about muslim men from – Tyrki, Pakistan and Iraq, asylumseekers where using violence and was climbing on top of women, children and the elderly (as custom is in the west: children, women and the elderly first) – to get into the rescue helicopters. The muslims also fighting among each other and hit on women to climb into the helicopters first.

    Aftenposten – one of the main newspapers in Norway reported on the case with the same source as BT – but desided to report that there had been reported about “some men” had behaved wrong in the situation.

    A Norwegian site reporting the real facts:

  2. An eyewitness account from Dimitra Theodossiou:

    Translated: “It was hell. I saw some scary scenes. There were men, Iraqis, Turks, Pakistanis on the ship, who was told to sit down to allow rescuers to prioritize children, elderly and women. But they climbed, beat and pulled the people to come first to the rescue helicopter and into safety. I was also beaten. I was so furious. It was really ugly. I will never forget it.”, Said Dimitra Theodossiou.”

    These people enrich our culture So much.

  3. Beron,

    Allow me to suggest – on the occasion of 2015 standing on the treshold – that you write a small back story to Roland Huntford (born 1927) and his book “The New Totalitarians” with its absolutely true description of the Swedes and their rulers 45 years ago. The book is unchanged relevant today – although the Swedish reality is sevenfold worse. 58 hits

    At the same time, notify your readers that the book is downloadable as pdf.file from this link:

    The Swedish translation “Det blinda Sverige” (= Blind Sweden)
    seems to have vanished from the face of the earth. Have all residual copies, also at all antiquarian bookshops been bought up by the “power elite”?
    The “sleeping people” (so called by Reinfeldt) must go on sleeping,
    and loose their country while asleep. And – fait accompli – wake up 2022 or 2026 being ruled by sharia.

  4. AirAsia to Singapore –
    Involontary manslaughter

    Co-pilot on this tragic flight, was a French Citizen, originally a Martiniquean, an engineer turned pilot in 2012. Following the disaster, a lawsuit has been opened by the Paris Court claiming involontary manslaughter on a French Citizen.

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