Gates of Vienna News Feed 1/27/2015

Upon her arrival at the airport in Saudi Arabia, First Lady Michelle Obama exited Air Force One alongside her husband, but without being clad in hijab. To make certain that devout Muslim viewers did not expose themselves to the sight of a filthy uncovered infidel whore, Saudi state TV blurred out her image in the news coverage of the momentous event.

In other news, Five foreigners were killed by armed attackers in a luxury hotel in Tripoli, Libya. The activists who committed the crime are thought to be affiliated with the Islamic State. An ISIS-related group claimed responsibility, and said they were targeting foreign diplomats. The surviving guests at the hotel were relieved to learn that the incident had nothing to do with Islam.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Fjordman, Gaia, Insubria, Nick, Papa Whiskey, Phyllis Chesler, 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
» Greece: More Private Islands to be Sold in Coming Months
» Padoan Says Italy Following Budget Rules, Will Reduce Debt
» Russia Bonds Cut to ‘Junk’, EU Sanctions Blamed
» Tsipras to Raise Salaries, Clashes With Merkel on Debt
» Apple Just Posted the Best Quarter in Corporate History
» Is Hillary Inevitable? Republicans Say ‘Yes’
» Justice Department Working on National Car-Tracking Database
Europe and the EU
» Anti-Jihadist Raids Net Five in France, Three in Belgium
» At Least Nine Italians Injured in NATO Crash in Spain
» Average of 5.8 Years’ Salary to Buy a House in Italy
» Belgian Muslims Say the Survival of Their Community is at Stake
» Euro 2016 in France ‘Faces Real Terror Threat’
» France: Jewish Community, Anti-Semitic Attacks Doubled
» Germany: Dresden Hosts Anti-PEGIDA Rock Concert
» Hollande to French Jews: ‘France is Your Home’
» Italians Spent 1.45bn on Books in 2014
» Italian Government Set to Approve Anti-Terror Package
» Italy: Taranto Businesses Say Thousands at Risk if ILVA Doesn’t Pay
» Italy: New M5S Defectors to Attend Consultations for President
» Italy: 26-Year Jail Term Sought for Concordia Captain
» Muslims First Victims of ‘Terrorism’
» Police Raid Southern French Town With Strong Jihadi Network
» Pope Wants Marriage Annulments to be Gratuitous
» Remembrance Day: Hollande New Plan Against Anti-Semitism
» Sacrament of Matrimony Not Valid Without Faith, Says Pope
» Sweden: Jimmie Åkesson Requests Sick Leave be Extended
» Sweden: Islamism ‘Threat’ Greater Than Nazism: SD Leader
» Sweden’s National Radio Blocked by ‘Nazi’ Tape
» Sweden: Stieg Larsson Sequel Set for 35 Country Release
» Swedish Soldier Stirs Row Over Help for ISIS Fighters
» The UK’s FGM 500 Cases of Female Mutilation Identified in One Month in 2014
» UN Slams Sweden Over Increasing Hate Crimes
» Who Are Britain’s 1m-Plus Missing Voters?
» Street Clashes in Kosovo, Dozens Injured
North Africa
» Five Foreigners Killed in Assault on Tripoli Hotel
» Libya: Oil Trafficking Problem for Regional Countries
Israel and the Palestinians
» Left-Wing MEPs Call for Suspension of EU-Israel Treaty
Middle East
» ISIS Urges New Attacks After Paris Shootings
» Kurdish Victory in Kobane Worries Erdogan
» Oil Price: Gulf Monarchies Keep Their Stance
» Purported Message From ISIS Threatens Jordan, Japan Hostages
» Watch: Saudi TV Blurs Out Michelle Obama
Far East
» China Officials Dine on Endangered Salamander: Reports
» China President Stresses Marxist Materialism in Effort to Silence Critics
» China: Xi’s First Grand Military Parade ‘Meant to Deter Japan and Corrupt Officials’
» China’s Worsening Air Pollution Has Had a Surprising and Unexpected Consequence — Fashionable Face Masks.
Latin America
» Argentinean President to Dismantle Top Intelligence Agency
» Fidel Castro Says He Supports Renewed Relations, But Distrusts Washington
» Greece: Vote: Golden Dawn Third, The Black Shade Stays on
Culture Wars
» Italy: Probe Opened of Bologna Council Transcribing Gay Weddings
» Pope Receives Spanish Transsexual, Girlfriend

Greece: More Private Islands to be Sold in Coming Months

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JANUARY 26 — More sales of private islands in Greece are expected in the coming months, as GreekReporter website writes, since there is increased movement between owners and prospective buyers. With prices starting at 1,000,000 euros, Greeks and foreigners of means can acquire their own island, according to a feature article in Eleftheros Typos daily. Most preferred are the private islands in the Ionian Sea, because of the beautiful landscapes and neighboring mainland. According to the report, most prospective buyers reside outside the European Union, with the majority coming from Arab states, while those who acquire the islands look forward to future collaborations with foreign companies in the tourism sector, or resale.However, legislation regarding the purchase and sale of private islands in Greece is both an encouraging and inhibiting factor. A new legislation automatically gives those who buy real estate property exceeding 250,000 euros in Greece, a 5-year residence permit. Renewal of residency is instant and includes the owner of the property and their family. However, the completion of the purchase process involves labyrinthine bureaucratic procedures and up to 32 signed licenses before the buyer takes full ownership of the property, including, for example, permits from the Forest Service or the Archaeological Service. Yet, the price of these islands has become more enticing, since the political instability over the past few months allows foreign buyers to bargain with owners and get lower prices. In fact, from the beginning of the financial crisis until today, Greek island prices have dropped by 40%, making them the cheapest worldwide. At the moment, buyers can choose between 40-50 beautiful Greek islands, including, Isle Modi near Kefalonia, Isle Sophia in Echinades, Isle Vouvalos in Amvrakikos Gulf, the peninsula Katakali near Corinth, the Tragonisi in the Saronic Gulf, Isle Strogkylo near the island of Marathos and many more in the Ionian and Aegean Seas.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Padoan Says Italy Following Budget Rules, Will Reduce Debt

Economy minister not interested in president’s job

(ANSA) — Brussels, January 27 — Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan on Tuesday said that Italy was not in violation of European Commission budget rules and said the country was making every effort to reduce its massive debt.

“I know there is the perception that Italy is breaking the rules but look carefully at the figures, it’s not true,” said Padoan said in an appearance before the European Parliament.

“We stick to the rules better than others despite the high debt, which we are making every effort to keep on a path of reduction,” he added. Italy is also introducing structural reforms “to strengthen sustainability” of economic growth.

Padoan’s comments came as an apparent indirect response to an earlier declaration by his German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble on whether the EC should apply flexibility in assessing the annual budgets of member States.

“Flexibility is not negative per se but it must not lead to a situation where the agreed rules are not respected,” Schaeuble said.

“Then it would be wrong and would destroy confidence,” of financial markets in the sustainability of eurozone budgets, the German economy minister added.

Meanwhile, Padoan said Tuesday that EC officials “appreciate” the reform efforts Italy is making to improve its economy and encourage growth. Talks with EC officials examining Italy’s 2015 budget show they also understand “the exceptional circumstances” created by years of economic weakness, Padoan said. Italy has not seen any real growth since 2008 while unemployment and business failures have increased and inflation fallen at times below zero. Still, Padoan predicted that times will get better and economic growth will help Italy to pay down its massive debt of more than two trillion euros — more than 130% of GDP — beginning next year.

“We respect the rules, we are one of the EU countries that doesn’t go over the (budget) limits,” Padoan told Sky news. “From 2016, the debt will be on a downward path, guaranteeing stability”. The EC last year deferred a decision on whether to approve Italy’s 2015 budget until March, expressing concerns about the lack of debt-reduction measures.

But Padoan said Rome had already given the EC details of his “sufficient” efforts to bring the public debt down, adding that he was “confident no further (budget) adjustments” will be needed.

Efforts will be helped by the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing programme, which is the right springboard for a new EU-wide push for growth and jobs, Padoan said.

He also laid to rest any rumours he might be interested in running to replace Giorgio Napolitano as Italian president.

“I have so much to do as minister,” Padoan said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Russia Bonds Cut to ‘Junk’, EU Sanctions Blamed

Rating agency S&P has cut Russian bonds to “junk” status in a move linked to EU sanctions, prompting angry rhetoric in Moscow.

The agency said in its note on Monday (26 January) Russian bonds are not worth buying because of low oil prices, the risk of more economic sanctions, and long-term Russian mismanagement.

It said the downgrade “reflects a lack of external financing due to the introduction of economic sanctions and the sharp decline in oil prices”.

The Russian finance minister, Anton Siluanov, accused the US-based company of “exorbitant pessimism”.

“There’s no reason to dramatise the situation … there are no grounds for foreign investors’ withdrawing assets from Russia”, he told Russian media the same day.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin at a government meeting also on Monday noted his parliament will on Tuesday approve an “anti-crisis” plan in order to “ensure social stability”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Tsipras to Raise Salaries, Clashes With Merkel on Debt

‘Impossible to pay in full’, Syriza

(by Patrizio Nissirio) (ANSAmed) — ATHENS — The Tsipras government has taken an oath to the constitution and the Greek people and will on Wednesday get down to work.

Its first act will likely be to raise the minimum salary. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has meanwhile said that she is against a reduction in Greek debt, while the new deputy foreign minister tasked with international economic affairs, Euclid Tsakalotos, called it “unrealistic” to expect Athens to pay its enormous debt in full. At a meeting of her party on Tuesday, the German chancellor said — according to internal sources — that she was against the request for a reduction in Greece’s debt. She added that no official request on the matter had yet been received. The position is nonetheless difficult to reconcile with Tsakalotos’s words today to the BBC: “Nobody believes that the Greek debt is sustainable,” he said. “I haven’t met an economist in their heart of hearts that will tell you that Greece will pay back all of that debt. It can’t be done.” The Syriza-ANEL government has thus got off to a rocky start at the international level. Visits to Athens have been scheduled by European Parliament chief Martin Schulz (Thursday) and Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem (Friday). Tsipras’s government will include the economist and sworn enemy of austerity and the ‘memorandum’, Yannis Varoufakis and deputy prime minister Yannis Dragasakis, “coordinator” of the economic ministries and tasked with talks with international creditors (EU-IMF-ECB troika), as well as the only minister not part of the party: Greek Independents (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos, who will be defense minister. Kammenos is one of a handful of ministers and undersecretaries that took their oath of office from Archbishop Ieronymos while placing their hand on the Bible (others include the new healthcare minister, Panayiotis Kouroublis, who is blind and was wearing dark glasses), while all the others opted for the non-religious oath taken on Monday by Tsipras. The ceremony was simple, with many members of the government not even wearing ties, and Varoufakis (known for the attention he places on his appearance) with his shirt left untucked. There are no women in his government except for the head of Parliament (which in Greece is a government role) and anti-corruption chief Zoe Kostantopoulou. Four “super-ministries” absorb the various functions of formerly autonomous ones, reducing the number of ministries from 16 to 10. Much applause was heard from the crowd outside the presidential palace on the announcement of the new government.

With his team ready, Tsipras is likely to adopt one of the most popular measures included in his election campaign: a raise of the minimum monthly salary from 450 euros before taxes to 751, followed by the reinstatement of collective bargaining rules that were cancelled by the conservative government under Antonis Samaras on the request of the troika. Different signals on Europe’s views of “the new Athens” continue to come in. Italy’s economy minister Pier Carlo Padoan has said that “there is the feeling of finding an agreed-upon solution. The government has not asked us anything about renegotiation”, stressing that they would later see how to work things out together. His German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble instead stressed that “Greeks are suffering not because of decisions made by Berlin or Brussels. They are suffering because of the failure of their political elite over the past decades”, adding that he had given “a great deal of help to the Greek finance ministry, which — it must be said — did not take much advantage of this help”. Even before the group photos were taken, the Tsipras government seems to have found itself in the midst of a storm.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Apple Just Posted the Best Quarter in Corporate History

Apple posted the biggest profit in corporate history last quarter after selling a record number of iPhones.

Apple sold 74.5 million iPhones in the last three months. That helped Apple’s profit soar more than 37% to $18 billion. That’s larger than Gazprom’s $16.2 billion profit during the first quarter of 2011 — the previous profit record posted by a corporation.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Is Hillary Inevitable? Republicans Say ‘Yes’

As potential Republican 2016 candidates converged on Des Moines Saturday, they reserved their harshest language for only two Democrats. One was President Obama.

The other was Hillary Clinton.

The former first lady, New York senator and secretary of state is enjoying all the early benefits of being an apparently inevitable presidential candidate, such as being able to ease at her own pace into a campaign, but also the drawbacks, including early attacks from Republicans.

“Like Hillary Clinton, I too have travelled hundreds of thousands of miles around the globe. But unlike her, I have actually accomplished something,” said former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, one of many potential Republican candidates who descended on the Iowa capital for a summit organized by Rep. Steve King. “Mrs. Clinton, flying is an activity not an accomplishment.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Justice Department Working on National Car-Tracking Database

The Justice Department has acknowledged constructing a database to track the movements of millions of vehicles across the U.S. in real time.

The program, whose existence was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, is primarily overseen by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to combat drug trafficking near the U.S.-Mexico border. However, government emails indicate that the agency has been working to expand the database throughout the United States over the past several years.


According to the Journal, the DEA program uses high-tech cameras placed on major highways to collect information on vehicle movements, including location and direction. Many of the devices are able to record images of drivers and passengers, some of which are clear enough identify individuals.

[When I was a kid, “police state” was a hiss-word. Now it’s a reality. — PW]

           — Hat tip: Papa Whiskey [Return to headlines]

Anti-Jihadist Raids Net Five in France, Three in Belgium

(Reuters) — Police in France and Belgium arrested eight suspected militant Islamists on Tuesday in dawn raids three weeks after jihadists killed 17 people in Paris.

“A particularly dangerous and organized network was broken up today,” said French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, whose government has deployed thousands of soldiers and extra police since the Jan. 7-9 attacks on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket.

Elite police troops, many of them hooded and heavily armed, arrested five people aged 26 to 44 in the raid in Lunel, a small town near France’s Mediterranean coast.

Two of the arrested had returned from Syria, a police source said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

At Least Nine Italians Injured in NATO Crash in Spain

Disaster occurred during pilot training program

(ANSA) — Madrid, January 26 — At least nine Italians were among the injured when an F16 crashed into a Spanish airbase during a NATO pilot training exercise Monday, killing 10 including the two Greek pilots.

Two of the Italians were said to be serious injured in the accident at the Las Lanos base in Albacete where the Greek F16 crashed.

The aircraft went down during the take-off stage at the base used for NATO pilot training which involves individuals from a range of nationalities.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Average of 5.8 Years’ Salary to Buy a House in Italy

Rome most expensive, Palermo the least

(ANSA) — Rome, January 26 — Prospective home buyers need an average of 5.8 years’s salary to make their their dream come true in Italy, a study by Tecnocasa real estate agency said Monday.

This is down slightly from the previous year, when it would have taken six years’ salary to buy a house, the agency said.

Rome is the most expensive Italian city to buy a house in terms of salary-to-price ratio, the study showed. It takes an average of 9.5 years’ salary to purchase a home in the capital, against 7.9 years in Milan, 3.9 in Verona, and 3.6 in Palermo.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Belgian Muslims Say the Survival of Their Community is at Stake

EmBem, the organisation Empowering Belgian Muslims, has taken the initiative to bring many of the country’s Muslims together: the aim is to speak with one voice.

Several organisations, leading figures and ordinary citizens from Belgium’s Muslim community have come together to take a stand against radicalisation and in favour of citizenship. Their goal is to promote an Islam that harmoniously feeds society as a whole and contributes towards social cohesion.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Euro 2016 in France ‘Faces Real Terror Threat’

The threat of a terror attack at next year’s Euro 2016 football championships in France is now a reality in the light of the shootings in Paris earlier this month, organizers admitted on Tuesday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

France: Jewish Community, Anti-Semitic Attacks Doubled

Anti-Semitic attacks grew from 423 to 851 in 2014

(ANSAmed) — PARIS — The number of anti-Semitic attacks has almost doubled between 2013 and 2014, according to the annual report by the Protection Service of the Jewish Community of France (SPCJ), which points to +92% increase. The report indicated that anti-Semitic attacks grew from 423 to 851 representing 51% of the number of racist aggressions in France. SPCJ pointed out that the Jewish community represents less than 1% of French population. The report stressed that the 30% spike of racist attacks in France was solely provoked by the growth of anti-Semitic aggressions. In fact, the total number of racist attacks has actually gone down 5% in contrast to the rise of anti-Semitic ones.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Germany: Dresden Hosts Anti-PEGIDA Rock Concert

Around 22,000 people gathered in Dresden Monday at a rock concert for tolerance, a day after some 17,000 anti-islam protesters, under the Pegida flag, took to the streets of the German city. Pegida’s image was recently tarnished after a photo emerged of its leader apparently posing as Hitler.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Hollande to French Jews: ‘France is Your Home’

French president François Hollande told the nation’s Jewish community on Tuesday that France is their “homeland”, as he announced a set of plans to fight racism and anti-Semitism in France.

President Hollande was giving a speech in honour of the victims of the Holocaust, on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of prisoners from the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italians Spent 1.45bn on Books in 2014

Up 0.1% over the previous year

(ANSA) — Rome, January 26 — Italians spent 0.1% more on books and ebooks in 2014 than the previous year, the Italian Publishers Association (AIE) said Monday.

Readers spent a total of 1.452 billion euros, AIE said.

Of these, 51.7 million euros were spent on ebooks, 1.2 billion went to printed books, an estimated 111 million euros were spent on e-readers, and 54.3 million were spent on collateral products, according to AIE.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italian Government Set to Approve Anti-Terror Package

The Italian government is set to approve a new anti-terrorism package including measures against foreign fighters, Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said on Tuesday.

“The government is playing close attention to the risk of a return of foreign fighters and will approve the new measures in this direction tomorrow (Wednesday),” Gentiloni said.

However, “there is no need to give messages that confuse terrorism with the generic phenomenon of immigration,” the minister continued.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italy: Taranto Businesses Say Thousands at Risk if ILVA Doesn’t Pay

Southern city seeks guarantees from Renzi if govt takes mill

(ANSA) — Rome, January 19 — Businesses from the southern Italian city of Taranto said Monday they are fearful that bill payments will be blocked if the government continues its plans to take over the ill-fated ILVA steel plant there.

“There are 5,000 households and the industrial base of the city (which are) at risk,” said Vincenzo Cesareo, head of the local Confindustria business employer association.

Some 250 business sent a delegation to meet with Federica Guidi, minister of economic development, to press their case for guarantees that bills incurred by the steel plant will be paid.

Cesareo said that about 200 million euros in bills are owing, including debts incurred in environmental improvements required at the ILVA plant which has been shrouded in controversy related to serious pollution it has caused in the area.

Years of pollution have been linked to unusually high rates of cancers there.

A new debate arose after a meeting on Christmas Eve of Premier Matteo Renzi’s cabinet, where he announced plans to take over ILVA, one of Europe’s largest steel plants. Renzi has said the plan is for the government, which has been managing the steel mill through a special commissioner, to own ILVA only temporarily to get its affairs in order before reselling to the right bidder.

That has raised fresh concerns for companies in Taranto, the southern port city where ILVA is based.

“We appreciate the efforts of the government and the current management but to date we have no guarantees…we cannot work for free,” said Cesareo.

Meanwhile, a similar message was sent in a letter to Renzi from Taranto Mayor Ippazio Stefano, who said some 3,000 workers have not been adequately paid and they should be given the highest priority as ILVA creditors.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: New M5S Defectors to Attend Consultations for President

(see related) (ANSA) — Rome, January 27 — The Democratic Party (PD) of Premier Matteo Renzi on Tuesday invited 10 lawmakers who left the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) earlier in the day to participate in consultations ahead of this week’s vote to elect a new president to replace Giorgio Napolitano. The movement led by ex-comedian Beppe Grillo has refused to enter talks with the PD over names. Earlier in the day PD Deputy Secretary Lorenzo Guerini said former M5S MPs would be taking part in consultations for the next head of state.

Tuesday’s walkout was the latest in a long series of losses for the M5S due to defections or expulsions after the party won a quarter of the vote in the 2013 general election.

Disillusionment among lawmakers with Grillo’s uncompromising stance on refusing to reach agreements with the traditional parties and with his allegedly authoritarian running of the movement are largely to blame.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: 26-Year Jail Term Sought for Concordia Captain

Italian prosecutors called on Monday for Francesco Schettino, the captain of the doomed Costa Concordia, to serve 26 years and three months in jail for the 2012 shipwreck which left 32 people dead.

“God have pity on Schettino, because we cannot have any,” prosecutor Stefano Pizza said in his summing up speech, which accused the man dubbed “Captain Coward” by the media of multiple manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship.

Co-prosecutor Maria Navarro told the trial in Grosseto, Tuscany, that it was “not an exaggerated sentence” for a man who “has lied to everyone, to the press, to the court, to the maritime authorities”.

“He has never accepted responsibility (and) no elements have emerged in his favour” since his trial began in July 2013, she said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Muslims First Victims of ‘Terrorism’

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called Tuesday for international cooperation against extremism, saying Muslims have been the first victims of “terrorism”.

“No one fights under the name of religion,” Fabius told journalists in Kuwait, the first Muslim country he has visited since last month’s deadly attack by Islamist gunmen on French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

When Kuwait and France fight “against terrorism, we fight those who are not only liars, but also killers,” he said. “Muslims have been the first victims of those terrorists.”

           — Hat tip: Nick [Return to headlines]

Police Raid Southern French Town With Strong Jihadi Network

PARIS (AP) — French security forces detained five people Tuesday and broke up a jihadi recruiting network in a small southern town that has sent several French youths to fight in Syria and Iraq, the interior minister said.

At least six young people from Lunel, a town of about 27,000, have died in Iraq and Syria in recent months, authorities have said.

In December the head of the local Muslim union, who also manages a mosque there, refused to condemn the 10 or more residents who have left Lunel to join the extremists. Instead, he charged that Hollande’s harsh rhetoric against Syrian President Bashar Assad had encouraged young people to go there to fight.

“One more network was broken up today,” Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Tuesday after the raids, pledging the country’s “total mobilization” against terrorism. He said he has ordered strengthened efforts against suspected terrorists after attacks around Paris earlier this month by three Islamic radicals that left 20 people dead, including the gunmen.

           — Hat tip: Nick [Return to headlines]

Pope Wants Marriage Annulments to be Gratuitous

(AGI) Vatican City, Jan 24 — Pope Francis again asked the ecclesiastical tribunals that deal with marriage annulments to “shorten the proceeding, which is often perceived by the spouses to be long and wearisome”, when commemorating the 10th anniversary of the “Dignitatis connubi” on Saturday, the document promoted by Pope John Paul II in order streamline marriage annulment proceedings under Canon Law. Pope Francis inaugurated the Roman Rota’s judicial year on Friday and asked that the proceedings be fast and free of charge. “Up until now, not all of the resources that this instruction makes available for an expeditious process, devoid of every formalism for its own sake, have been explored; nor can we exclude further legislative acts in the future aimed at the same end”, he stated. While addressing the participants to the International Conference promoted by the Pontifical Gregorian University to celebrate the publication of the “Dignitas connubii” Instruction, Pope Francis called on the judges and clerks of the ecclesiastical tribunals to “respond more generously” to the indications contained in the document which, he said, also demonstrates the “importance of Dignitas connubii, which is not directed to law specialists but to the workers in the local tribunals”, he said. “It is, in fact, a modest but useful vademecum (handbook) that really takes the ministers of the tribunals by the hand toward the implementation of a process that is both sure and expeditious”.

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

Remembrance Day: Hollande New Plan Against Anti-Semitism

During address at Shoah memorial in Paris, “by end of Febr

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, JAN 27- French president François Hollande announced that the French government will unveil “a global plan against anti-Semitism and racism by the end of February” during an address at the Holocaust Memorial in Paris.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Sacrament of Matrimony Not Valid Without Faith, Says Pope

(AGI) Vatican City, Jan 23 — The sacrament of matrimony is not valid in the absence of faith, Pope Francis told the Roman Rota tribunal on Friday as it begins its judicial year. His statement confirmed the line indicated by his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. The current Pontiff has already formed a commission that will investigate how to speed up the processing of annulment requests. The bulk of the work of the Rota involves deciding cases of marital nullity and marriage annulments. In his address, Pope Francis said that in the absence of faith, annulment is conceded due to a “serious deficit in the understanding of marriage itself.” He continued: “A crisis in marriage is often rooted in a crisis of knowledge enlightened by faith; that is, by an attachment to God.” This situation is no longer an exception, as it was in the past, but nowadays many people live in irregular marriage situations as a worldly mentality is spreading, the Pontiff said. “There is in fact a kind of spiritual worldliness hiding behind appearances of religiosity and even love for the Church, which instead of pursuing the glory of the Lord, pursues personal well-being.” This immature faith is “one of the fruits of this attitude.” If you have “faith locked into subjectivism”, there is a risk of staying “locked inside one’s own reason or feelings.” According to Pope Francis, “it is clear that, for those who bend to this attitude, faith remains devoid of its value as a source of guidance, leaving the field open to compromises with their own selfishness and with the pressures of the current mentality, which has become dominant through the mass media”. Therefore , “judges, in weighing the validity of the expressed consent, must take the context of values and faith, or the absence of these, into account.” The absence of faith not only “poses a threat to the stability of marriage, its exclusivity and fertility, but also to conjugal love as vital principle, the mutual gift of a lifelong bond.” That way, “marriage tends to be seen as a mere form of emotional gratification that can be constituted in any way and changed at will, creating doubts in the minds of the married couple about the permanence of marriage, or its exclusivity, if the loved one is no longer emotionally gratifying”.

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

Sweden: Jimmie Åkesson Requests Sick Leave be Extended

The leader of the Sweden Democrats party, Jimmie Åkesson, has requested that his sick leave be extended until the end of March, according to the tabloid Expressen.

Åkesson has been on sick leave because of burn-out since October of last year, right after his anti-immigration party became Sweden’s third largest in elections the month prior.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Islamism ‘Threat’ Greater Than Nazism: SD Leader

Acting Sweden Democrat leader Mattias Karlsson has said Islamism is “a greater threat than Nazism”, sparking a strong response from Jewish and Muslim communities as the world marks 70 years since the liberation of Nazi concentration camps.

Mattias Karlsson, who is in charge of the Sweden Democrats for the foreseeable future after the party’s leader Jimmie Åkesson announced on Tuesday that he was extending his sick leave, described Nazism as “terrible” in an interview with Swedish broadcaster SVT on Tuesday.

But he added that he felt the threat from Islamism today was “perhaps greater than from Nazism”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sweden’s National Radio Blocked by ‘Nazi’ Tape

Staff at P4 Dalarna radio, which is part of Sweden’s national publicly funded radio broadcaster Sveriges Radio, discovered tape put up by Nazis blocking the entrance to their office’s main entrance on Tuesday morning.

The tape was installed by a Nazi group sometime before 4am on Tuesday morning, “encouraging” the channel not to report on Holocaust Memorial Day, which is commemorating the date Jews were freed from the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps in Poland.

The letter attached to the tape said:

“The Swedish people don’t want to hear people nag about the dead Jews today. This is old and dusty. We should focus and shed light on real tragedies such as the huge amounts of immigrants that are coming to Sweden or the genocide in South Africa. Not with best regards, from the Motståndsrörelsens Kampgrupp in Dalarna.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Stieg Larsson Sequel Set for 35 Country Release

A sequel to the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson’s best-selling Millennium crime trilogy will go on sale in at least 35 countries from August, the book’s publishers have announced.

“That Which Does Not kill” was completed in November by David Lagercrantz who is best known for co-authoring Swedish football star Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s autobiography. He stands in for Larsson, who died of a heart attack in 2004 aged 50.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Swedish Soldier Stirs Row Over Help for ISIS Fighters

A Swedish soldier’s Facebook post from Afghanistan is causing a stir, after he suggested that he was likely to get less help when he came back to Sweden than returning Isis fighters.

Frederick Brandberg’s comments originally appeared as his Facebook status on Sunday afternoon before spreading across Swedish media.

Writing in both English and Swedish, he questioned his future situation upon returning to Sweden, including options for work.

“In a few months, I’m back in Sweden after being deployed in Afghanistan, against Talibans and others who have really jeopardizing development in this very sore country,” he said.

“There is no permanent job waiting for me when I come home.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

The UK’s FGM 500 Cases of Female Mutilation Identified in One Month in 2014

by Phyllis Chesler

Almost 500 cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) were identified by hospitals across the UK in just one month in late 2014.

According to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), fifteen cases were documented daily in the month of November. However, 25% of the HSCIC Trusts did not submit documentation. This suggests that the number of actual cases is much higher.

FGM is not the same as male circumcision. FGM involved the deliberate total or partial removal of the female genitalia for non-medical reasons. The procedure makes urination painful; sexual pleasure impossible; childbirth torturous. It is a barbaric, tribal, and primarily African practice which can also lead to infertility, incontinence, infection, fistulas, and death.

It has been estimated that 20,000 girls under the age of fifteen are at risk every year in the UK.

This practice was outlawed in 1985; clearly, that has not stopped people from breaking the law in Britain. Despite the high number of known cases, only one prosecution is currently underway, the first of its kind.

Contrast this with Egypt, where approximately 90% of women have been subjected to this atrocity. Egypt banned FGM six years ago…

           — Hat tip: Phyllis Chesler [Return to headlines]

UN Slams Sweden Over Increasing Hate Crimes

Sweden faced sharp criticism for the way it is tackling discrimination and violence against minority groups, at a key UN meeting in Geneva on Monday.

As part of the second UN review of human rights practices in Sweden, the Nordic nation’s recent experiences linked to Islamaphobia, anti-semitism and prejudice against Roma migrants were highlighted. The review also noted an increase in sexual violence against women.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Who Are Britain’s 1m-Plus Missing Voters?

Labour claims almost a million voters have dropped off the electoral roll in the past 12 months. So what’s going on?

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]

Street Clashes in Kosovo, Dozens Injured

Riot police have clashed with thousands of anti-government protesters in Kosovo’s capital Pristina. The protesters demanded a dismissal of a Serb minister and a government takeover of a mine claimed by Serbia.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Five Foreigners Killed in Assault on Tripoli Hotel

Terrorists may be linked to ISIS

(ANSA) — Rome, January 27 — Libyan security forces said Tuesday that five foreigners were killed in an attack on Tripoli’s Hotel Corinthia by a group of terrorists who may be linked to ISIS. The terrorists who stormed the luxury Maltese-owned hotel are reportedly holding a number of hostages. Between two and five of the assailants are reportedly barricaded in one of the hotel floors. Tripoli security forces have sealed off the area and gunfire could be heard. All of other hotels in Tripoli have been evacuated. A tweet by a Isis-affiliated group said that “foreign diplomats” were the targets of the attack. Two Libyan guards were also killed in the assault.

A number of Italians staying at the Corinthia escaped the attack, according to reports.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Libya: Oil Trafficking Problem for Regional Countries

Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria sign a pact

The chaotic Libyan situation concerns regional countries worried about a possible domino effect while oil trafficking, tolerated in Libya under the regime of Muammar Ghadafi has reached levels that are no longer sustainable for neighbouring countries. Libya has always been a great oil exporting country and the oil flow from Libya has always moved along two different paths: on the one hand, the official route with lucrative concessions to the ‘Seven sisters’, the major oil excracting and refining companies, and on the other,the one managed by thousand of traffickers who flooded the Tunisian, Algerian and Egyptian markets virtually ignored by the police forces of these countries. The problem has now become much more worrisome because the funds obtained through the oil sales no longer ends up solely in the pockets of criminal organizations but also in the coffers of armed militias fighting each other with cannons and kalashnikovs to consolidate their power.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Left-Wing MEPs Call for Suspension of EU-Israel Treaty

Sixty three MEPs from the left-wing Gue and S&D groups and Greens and Liberals, have, in a letter to EU foreign affairs chief Mogherini asked to suspend the EU-Israel association treaty “unless Israel takes substantial and immediate steps to bring its conduct in line with international law”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

ISIS Urges New Attacks After Paris Shootings

The Islamic State jihadist group Isis urged Muslims on Monday to carry out new attacks similar to the Paris shooting at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, where 17 people were killed.

Abu Mohamed al-Adnani, referring to attacks in France, Australia, Canada and Belgium, urged “Muslims in Europe and the infidel West to attack the Crusaders where they are”.

“We promise that in the Christian bastions they will continue to live in a state of alert, of terror, of fear and insecurity… You have seen nothing yet,” the recording said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Kurdish Victory in Kobane Worries Erdogan

The Islamic state had threatened the city since September. Some 1,800 people died in the fighting with tens of thousands made refugees. Turkey’s ambiguity stems from its fear that a Kurdish autonomous region might emerge in northern Syria.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) — Thousands of people took to the streets in Istanbul, even more so in the cities of Diyarbakir and Hakkari, in Turkey’s Kurdish southeast region, to celebrate the Kurdish victory in the city of Kobane against Islamic State (IS) forces.

The turn of events has made Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan none too happy. The Turkish leader opposes the idea of a Kurdish-controlled autonomous government in northern Syria, like that in northern Iraq.

“We do not want a new Iraq. What’s this? Northern Iraq,” Erdogan told the Hurriyet newspaper, referring to the Kurdish-controlled part of Iraq known as Iraqi Kurdistan.

“A northern Syria there after northern Iraq. . . It is not possible for us to accept this,” he said. “Such formations will lead to grave problems in the future.”

Since last September, the city of Kobane, near the border with Turkey, has been the scene of relentless fighting between Kurdish and Islamic State forces.

During the battle, which saw the intervention of Iraqi peshmerga and air strikes by the US-led coalition, more than 1,800 people died, including more than a thousand IS fighters.

Because of the fighting, tens of thousands of Kurdish civilians — old men, women, and children — fled to Turkey.

Yesterday, reports touted a Kurdish victory with most of the city falling under peshmerga control. However, throughout the battle, Turkey held an ambiguous position.

On the one hand, it tried to slow the entry into its territory of refugees from Kobane, and refused to take part in the international anti-jihadist coalition in Iraq and Syria. On the other, under pressure from its allies, it finally accepted the refugees and allowed a symbolic contingent of Iraqi Kurdish fighters to cross its territory to boost Kurdish defences in Kobane.

Ultimately, Turkey fears that the victory of the Kurds in northern Syria may further nurture independence ambitions in its own Kurdish regions.

For this reason, Erdogan has tried to prevent Bashar al-Assad from winning in Syria, among other reasons, because the Syrian leader, for pragmatic reasons, has expressed support for a Kurdish autonomous region in the country.

By contrast, Erdogan has labelled as “terrorist” those Kurdish parties in Turkey that support autonomy or independence.

Turkey is home to at least 15 million Kurds.

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

Oil Price: Gulf Monarchies Keep Their Stance

They count on previuos surplus. Oil plunge helps ‘recovery’

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI — The constant decline of oil prices, which have halved since last June, does not worry Arab monarchies that can fall back on the large surplus accumulated in previous years to keep their economies viable. On January 20 the price of crude oil reached its lowest level since September 2010: 46.49 dollars a barrel.

Six months ago, a barrel was worth 120 dollars.

According to estimates, the plunge will affect oil exports considerably, going from 743 billion dollars in 2012, to a meager 140 dollars of 2015.

At current production levels, the gross internal product of Gulf Cooperation Council countries (GCC) — Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Oman — will be marked by 3.4% growth in contrast to the 4.1% of 2014.

The fiscal budget will slide from a 4.8% surplus in 2014 to a 2.1% deficit in 2015.

In any case, the block has no intention of turning back. “The decision not to cut production taken in November at the Opec meeting is the correct one” said Emirati Energy Minister, Suhail Mohammad al Mazrouei, Monday. “ The market needs to stabilize itself. It’s a good thing for global economy, it’s good for China, It will boost growth”. The situation will be assessed once again in June, added Al Mazrouei, echoing the Emirati minister of the Economy who told Gulf News today: “ oil prices will not go down for much longer, half way through the year there will be a reversal spurred by positive economic change in Europe the Us and China”. Financial analysts agree that the spending capacity of the six sisters should not be tied to current oil prices, not in the short term anyway. These countries have surpluses that will allow them to weather market instability for many months. According to a study conducted by investment bank VTB Capital oil sales at a price point around 60 dollars a barrel would still allow them to withstand public spending for another 2 to 5 years. The weakest sovereign funds at the moment belong to Oman and Bahrain. Many Gulf leaders have already stated that economic development spending will not be cut, nor will investments in the oil sector notwithstanding possible delays. Gulf Cooperation Countries benefit from low debts and the consolidation of foreign assets, their financial standing is much more solid than in the ‘80 and ‘90, report financial analysts, stressing nonetheless that current conditions may still lead to fiscal adjustments.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Purported Message From ISIS Threatens Jordan, Japan Hostages

An online message purportedly from the Islamic State group warned Tuesday that a Japanese hostage and Jordanian pilot the extremists hold have less than “24 hours left to live.”

The message, posted online Tuesday afternoon, again demanded the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi woman sentenced to death in Jordan for involvement in a 2005 terror attack that killed 60 people. It also mentioned Jordanian pilot 1st Lt. Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh, who is a captive of the Islamic State group.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Watch: Saudi TV Blurs Out Michelle Obama

Upon arriving in Saudi Arabia Tuesday to pay a condolence visit following the death of King Abdullah, Saudi TV showed US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walking down a red carpet and meeting key dignitaries, including the newly-crowned King Salman.

But apparently perturbed at the first lady’s lack of Islamic attire — and, alas, unable to photoshop her out of the shot — the producers at Saudi state TV came up with a different, even less subtle approach to protect their viewers’ eyes from temptation: the massive blurred column.

You have to admit, it is effective.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

China Officials Dine on Endangered Salamander: Reports

Chinese officials feasted on a critically endangered giant salamander and turned violent when journalists photographed the luxury banquet, according to media reports Tuesday on the event which appeared to flout Beijing’s austerity campaign.

The 28 diners included senior police officials from the southern city of Shenzhen, the Global Times said.

“In my territory, it is my treat,” it quoted a man in the room as saying.

The giant salamander is believed by some Chinese to have anti-ageing properties, but there is no orthodox evidence to back the claim.

The species is classed as “critically endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of threatened species, which says the population has “declined catastrophically over the last 30 years”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

China President Stresses Marxist Materialism in Effort to Silence Critics

President Xi Jinping sought to silence critics at both ends of the political spectrum on Friday by using a Politburo study session to underscore his commitment to Marxism and socialism, analysts said.

The Politburo squeezed a collective study session on Marxist dialectical materialism into its tight schedule, a year or so after it held a similar one on historical materialism.

“The high-profile study session comes amid heated debate about China’s future path, with the two extremes of the political spectrum focusing on either Western political thinking or Chinese traditional culture and values,” said Gu Su, a professor of political philosophy at Nanjing University.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

China: Xi’s First Grand Military Parade ‘Meant to Deter Japan and Corrupt Officials’

A grand military parade this year to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war will be a show of force to deter Japan and corrupt officials, according to an opinion piece published on the Wechat account of People’s Daily.

The parade, the first to mark a non-National Day occasion, will serve as the first grand military parade since President Xi Jinping took office.

Wen Wei Po, a pro-Beijing newspaper in Hong Kong, last week quoted deputy defence minister Fu Zhenghua as saying a military parade will take place in Beijing this year to mark the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Anti-Fascist War, as China calls the conflict, and that foreign state leaders will be present.

Fashion-forward face masks a big hit in China amid soaring air pollution

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

China’s Worsening Air Pollution Has Had a Surprising and Unexpected Consequence — Fashionable Face Masks.

A trend has sprung up among people who want to look good while trying to avoid the smog. Face masks are now an accessory and are matched according to the weather, sport or outdoor activity.

When the air is bad, people who don’t wear masks are like ET

They are so commonplace that it is unusual when someone is outside without the protection. “When the air is bad, people who don’t wear masks are like ET,” Chen Dawei said.

Chen, 35, is a sporty Beijing-based designer and writer who has been cycling intensively since 2008. He regularly wears masks when he trains, picking several brands based on their function.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Argentinean President to Dismantle Top Intelligence Agency

Argentinean President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner on Monday night announced that she was dismantling the country’s top intelligence agency in the wake of the uproar caused by the death of a federal prosecutor who had accused her of trying to derail his inquiry into the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Fidel Castro Says He Supports Renewed Relations, But Distrusts Washington

Although Fidel Castro does not trust American politics, he does not reject Havana and Washington’s efforts at rapprochement. The octogenarian leader shared his opinions in a letter published on Monday night by Cuban state newspaper Granma, a month and a week after US President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced plans to relaunch full diplomatic relations.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Greece: Vote: Golden Dawn Third, The Black Shade Stays on

Leader and all MPs from neo-Nazi part jailed

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JANUARY 26 — The worst nightmare for democratic Greeks has become a reality. Repeating the success of national elections on June 17, 2012 — in which it won 6.92% of the vote and 18 seats in Parliament — far-right party Chrysi Avghì (Golden Dawn, which has strong neo-Nazi and racist connotations) obtained 6.28% of the vote and 17 seats, becoming the country’s third-largest party after Syriza and Nea Dimokratia. The vote confirmed some forecasts over the past months: the country, devastated by over five years of an economic crisis and deep recession, is increasingly divided, as shown by the polarization of the electorate at the expense of centrist and Social Democratic parties.

Those who hoped that a wave of arrests last year among members of the party founded and led by Nikos Michaloliakos could crush the resurgence of neo-Nazi feelings in Greece were wrong. The desperation of people and vote “of rage” against traditional parties prevailed over consideration and this time as well Greeks voted as a form of retaliation in favor of more extremist political movements.

Golden Dawn ended up in Parliament for the first time in its history on May 6, 2012, obtaining 6.97% of the vote and 21 seats (over 300) in Parliament. The subsequent June 17 the party of Michaloliakos again obtained 6.92% of the vote and 18 seats, widely prevailing over another right-wing party Laos — a staple of the most reactionary right in Greece — which did not exceed (neither on May 6 nor on June 17) the 3% threshold necessary to enter Parliament.

Among the issues raised by Golden Dawn that most attracted votes were without a doubt the hard line against crime, illegal immigration (one of the proposals was to mine borders) and the forced expulsion of illegal immigrants. These proposals certainly contributed in attracting the votes of an increasingly tired and confused electorate but, mostly, of voters who are angry with the same parties perceived as responsible for disaster in the country.

All lawmakers from Golden Dawn, detained for months on charges of setting up a criminal organization, voted in polling stations set up in jails across the country. Among them, were Michaloliakos, party spokesman Ilias Kassidiaris, as well as Nikos Michos, Yannis Lagos, Giorgos Germenis and Efstathios Mpoukouras. Last October 16, judge Isidoros Dogiakos sought their indictment, along with that of the other party MPs. Greek magistrates opened a probe over the suspected criminal activities of the neo-Nazi party after the murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas in Athens, on September 18, 2013. Golden Dawn militant Georgios Roupakias confessed to the murder.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Probe Opened of Bologna Council Transcribing Gay Weddings

Flying squad raids council offices for documents

(ANSA) Bologna, January 22 — The public prosecutor’s office opened an inquiry Thursday into Bologna council officials transcribing same-sex marriage ceremonies performed abroad, officials said.

The inquiry was opened after a member of the public filed a complaint. Police flying squad officers raided the offices of Bologna town hall to obtain documents relevant to the investigation.

Bologna Mayor Virgino Merola had vowed to disobey instructions from Interior Minister Angelino Alfano forbidding local councils from transcribing into local wedding registers details of same sex marriages performed outside Italy.

Similar probes have been opened in other Italian cities.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Pope Receives Spanish Transsexual, Girlfriend

Transgender male said priest called him ‘Devil’s daughter’

(ANSA) — Vatican City, January 26 — Pope Francis on Saturday received in a private audience a Spanish transsexual and his girlfriend after the man wrote to him saying he had been cast out of the church in his native city, Spanish daily Hoy reported Monday.

The transgender male, Diego Neria Lejarraga, a 48-year-old former woman, wrote to the pope some time ago saying he had been “marginalised” by Church officials in the city of Plasencia, in the southwestern region of Estremadura, Hoy said.

Neria, a believer and a practising Catholic, said he had been rebuffed by elements of the local clergy and claimed the parish priest had called him “the Devil’s daughter”, Hoy reported.

Francis phoned him twice in December, setting up Saturday”s meeting in St Martha’s House, the Vatican guesthouse the pontiff lives in, Hoy said.

The pope has said the Catholic Church should be more accepting of gays but recently failed to muster a big enough majority of cardinals to change doctrine on the issue.

Asked about the reported meeting, official Vatican sources declined to comment.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

3 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 1/27/2015

  1. There is not a lot good I can say about the Obamas but, I am pleased that Michelle didn’t put the “costume” on. Let Saudi TV pixilate her. They can go on the internet and see the pix. And yes, I do like her wardrobe!
    There was a joke going around when Mr. Obama first took office. He and Michelle went to France in the summer and she wore a dress to a ceremony that was sleeveless. Many thought her dress was out of line but Michelle said “I am an American and have a right to bare arms!”

  2. I’m very much interested in how Pope Francis is approaching topics that have brought down the sternest of responses from other, recent popes: homosexuality and, now, a transgendered person. It’s clear that il papa is doing his best to live up to the ideas of his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi. He dresses in the plainest of papal robes, wears the least ornate vestments for mass, speaks out for the need to feed the hungry, and so on.

    I just wish he would bring Catholic doctrine into line with family needs, i.e., family planning. The vast majority of Catholics worldwide have said that they indeed practice family planning of one kind or another (from “rhythm” to birth-control pills) and still consider themselves good Catholics. Perhaps there wouldn’t be so many hungry to feed if family planning and a concomitant factor–education of girls–was supported worldwide.

    However, his call recently for, effectively, self-censorship in re. the West and Islam was very disappointing. I hope Pope Francis comes to realize that such a call will only be to the detriment of Catholicism and, indeed, all of Christianity (Roman, Orthodox, Protestant–the works). The more the West limits itself in deference to Islam or any other ideology, the more it deforms its own shape/civilization.

  3. “No one fights under the name of religion,”

    What stupendously ignorant or dangerously mendacious person said this? The multiple-times Prime Minister and current Foreign Minister of France, Laurent Fabius! In Kuwait of all places – his four Jewish grandparents must be turning in their graves.

    Fabius is a graduate of all three of the elite three institutions of the much vaunted French tertiary education system: Ecole Normale Superieure, Ecole National Administration and “Sciences Po”. ENA graduates, “Enarques”, dominate the upper echelons of French bureaucracy. And yet the man is apparently an utter moron.

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