Gates of Vienna News Feed 2/21/2015

The kinetic activists of the Islamic State in Libya have imposed a curfew in Sirte. Residents are required to stay indoors after the evening prayer at 8pm.

In other news, former President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi of Yemen has been allowed to leave the capital Sana’a by the Houthi rebels who have assumed control of the country. It is understood that Mr. Hadi will leave Yemen to seek medical treatment.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Derius, DS, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, Papa Whiskey, RL, Srdja Trifkovic, Steen, 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
» Denmark Willing to Use Capital Controls, Says Advisor
» Greece and the Endgame of the Neocolonial Model of Exploitation
» 7 Homeschool Kids to Remain in State Custody at Least 5 More Weeks; Father Says They’re Victims of ‘Christian Persecution’
» Android Malware Can Spy on You Even When Your Mobile is Off
» Did the Torture Report Give the C.I.A. a Bum Rap?
» Ignoring America’s Safety, Homeland Security Vows: “Government Should Give Voice to Plight of Muslims in This Country”
» Innocent College Student Subject to Restraining Order for Resembling Alleged Rapist
» Mpls. Officer Shot Responding to North Side Burglary; Suspect at Large
» Pennsylvania: Bill: HR-5 Denies Parents Their Rights Over Their Own Children
» The Internet Isn’t Broken. Obama Doesn’t Need to ‘Fix’ It.
» Video: Veteran Pepper-Sprayed, Cuffed, Beaten and Dragged Through Dirt by Cop
» White House May Snub AIPAC as it Seeks to Undercut Netanyahu Speech
Europe and the EU
» France’s Bizarre Strauss-Kahn Pimping Trial Had Little to Do With the Law
» French Minister Asks Social Media Giants to Remove Terrorist Propoganda
» Getting a Gun Legally in Europe May be Hard, But Terrorists Have Little Trouble
» Italy Prepares for Potential ISIS Air Attack
» Italy: Ligrestis Sent 17 Mn Euros to Switzerland
» Italy: Maradona Loses Tax Appeal, Ordered to Pay 15,000 in Costs
» Italy: Berlusconi ‘Paid for Ruby’s 7,000-Euro Party’
» Italy: Pollster Mannheimer Plea Bargains in Tax-Fraud Case
» Italy: Singer Gino Paoli Under Investigation in Tax Evasion Probe
» Italy: Video of Roma Driving Police Car Riles Officers
» Italy: Ex Member of Sicilian Parliament Convicted of Graft
» Italy: Denis Verdini Indictment Sought for Fraudulent Bankruptcy
» Italy: Parliament ‘Humiliated’ By Renzi Says Vendola
» Norway’s Muslims Form Protective Human Ring Around Synagogue
» Ports: Deiana: Free Zone in Cagliari Also for Arab Markets
» Spain Outstrips Italy and France as Largest Wine Exporter
» Swedish Employment Office Recruiting for ISIS
» The Islamic State Threatens to Come to Rome; Italians Respond With Travel Advice
» Thousands of Polish Farmers in GMOs, Land Rights Protest
» UK Police Force Apologises for Taking Details of Charlie Hebdo Readers
» Bizarre: Tony Blair to Advise Serbia’s Prime Minister
North Africa
» Gentiloni Says No Alternative to Diplomacy on Libya
» Italy: ISIS Imposes Curfew in Sirte
Israel and the Palestinians
» Israeli Elections: A “Super-Bottled” Netanyahu
Middle East
» Arab Governments Reportedly Concerned About Terms of Iran Nuke Talks
» Former Yemen President Flees Capital After Rebels Let Him Go
» Iran Politics Soiled by ‘Dirty Money’: Minister
» Iranian VP: CIA Behind Islamic State
» Iraqi Army (And US) To Launch Offensive on Mosul in April-May
» Massive Fire Engulfs Dubai ‘Torch’ Residential Tower — Videos
» Pakistan Terror Wave Sparks Rare Criticism of Saudi Arabia
» Europe “Isolates” Putin? Considers “Reframing” Energy Relations With Russia
» Peace? Ukraine “Preparing for Full-Scale War” With Russia, Demands the West Supply Lethal Weapons
» The “Exceptional” U.S. Suffers Crushing Defeat in Debaltsevo
» Ukraine Crisis: Prisoner Swap Boosts Ceasefire
South Asia
» Indian Special Court Postpones Hearing for Marines
» Newspaper in India Pays a Price for Reprinting a Charlie Hebdo Cartoon
» Pentagon Chief: U.S. Considering Slowing Exit From Afghanistan
» Soccer: Thai Businessman in Milan Bid
» US Signals Likely Delay in Troop Pullout From Afghanistan
Australia — Pacific
» Landing Strips, Farms and Hideaways: Secret Escapes of the Elite: “the Rich Are Worried and They Should be”
» A Cowardly War: Obama’s Backdoor Invasion
» Border Patrol Continues to Act as if Judge Hasn’t Blocked Obama’s Amnesty
» Obama to Seek Emergency Order Restarting Immigration Programs
» Senate Democrats Choosing Illegal Immigrants Over Border Patrol Agents

Denmark Willing to Use Capital Controls, Says Advisor

Denmark’s central bank is willing to use extreme measures including capital controls to defend its currency peg to the euro, which it considers a “holy” policy, said the head of the Economic Council, a body that advises the government.

Since the Swiss National Bank stunned the market by scrapping its cap on the franc on January 15 there has been upward pressure on the crown as some speculators believe Denmark could be next to change its currency regime.

But Hans Jorgen Whitta-Jacobsen said it was a fallacy to draw parallels with the three-year-old Swiss franc cap because Denmark’s central bank had other means available to defend the peg “to the last drop of blood”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Greece and the Endgame of the Neocolonial Model of Exploitation

In Neocolonialism, the forces of financialization are used to indenture the local Elites and populace to the financial core: the peripheral “colonials” borrow money to buy the finished goods manufactured in the core economies, enriching the Imperial Elites with A) the profits made selling goods to the debtors B) interest on credit extended to the peripheral colonies to buy the core economies’ goods and “live large”, and C) the transactional skim of financializing peripheral assets such as real estate and State debt.

In essence, the core banks of the EU colonized the peripheral nations via the financializing euro, which enabled a massive expansion of debt and consumption in the periphery. The banks and exporters of the core extracted enormous profits from this expansion of debt and consumption.

Now that the financialization scheme of the euro has run its course, the periphery’s neocolonial standing is starkly revealed: the assets and income of the periphery are flowing to the core as interest on the private and sovereign debts that are owed to the core’s central bank and its money-center private banks.

Note how little of the Greek “bailout” actually went to the citizenry of Greece and how much was interest paid to the financial powers.

This is not just the perfection of neocolonialism but of neofeudalism as well. The peripheral nations of the EU are effectively neocolonial debtors of the core, and the taxpayers of the core nations are now feudal serfs whose labor is devoted to making good on any loans to the periphery that go bad.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

7 Homeschool Kids to Remain in State Custody at Least 5 More Weeks; Father Says They’re Victims of ‘Christian Persecution’

After his recent parental custody hearing was postponed for an additional six weeks, the devout Christian father of seven Arkansas homeschool students, who were removed from their home by state and local authorities last month, is claiming that his family is a victim of “Christian persecution.”

Although Hal and Michelle Stanley were under the impression that their seven children would be returned home after a Feb. 12 court hearing, they were frustrated to learn that their hearing was postponed until March 23.

Even though the children have already been in state custody for over a month, 73-year-old Hal Stanley told The Christian Post that he was not given any reason for why their court date was pushed back.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Android Malware Can Spy on You Even When Your Mobile is Off

Security researchers have unearthed a new Android Trojan that tricks victims into believing they have switched their device off while it continues “spying” on the users’ activities in the background. So, next time be very sure while you turn off your Android smartphones.

The new Android malware threat, dubbed PowerOffHijack, has been spotted and analyzed by the researchers at the security firm AVG. PowerOffHijack because the nasty malware has a very unique feature — it hijacks the shutdown process of user’s mobile phone.

When users presses the power button on their device, a fake dialog box is shown. The malware mimics the shutdown animation and the device appears to be off, but actually remains on, giving the malicious program freedom to move around on the device and steal data.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Did the Torture Report Give the C.I.A. a Bum Rap?

By David Cole

WASHINGTON — IN December, when the Senate Intelligence Committee issued its long-awaited report on the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation program, it seemed to confirm what I and many human-rights advocates had argued for a decade: The C.I.A. had started and run a fundamentally abusive and counterproductive torture program. What’s more, the report found that the C.I.A. had lied repeatedly about the program’s efficacy, and that it had neither disrupted terror plots nor saved lives.


But the principal lesson drawn by countless commentators in the initial news cycle — that torture does not work — was reached before nearly anyone read the full report and responses by the C.I.A. and the Republican members of the committee. The report and responses amount to 828 pages. I’ve now had a chance to read the documents in full. And I suspect the C.I.A. was treated unfairly.

The full story is more complicated, and ultimately much more disturbing, than the initial responses — mine included — suggested.


The area of dispute concerns the report’s “headlines” — namely, that the C.I.A.’s tactics did not work, and that the agency repeatedly lied about that. The report focuses on 20 prominent instances in which the C.I.A. claimed that information obtained from detainees they subjected to coercive tactics helped identify high-level terrorists and disrupt terrorist plots. The committee concluded that every such claim was a misrepresentation.

When one places the C.I.A.’s accounts of the 20 cases side by side with the committee’s accounts, however, the truth is far from clear. In each instance, the C.I.A. makes a credible case that information it obtained after using coercive tactics played an important role. The C.I.A. says, for example, that 75 percent of the information that led to the capture of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, who pleaded guilty to conducting research on explosives for a potential terrorist attack, came from the interrogation of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the 9/11 mastermind, who was waterboarded 183 times. Information from Mr. Mohammed, the C.I.A. claims, also helped it capture several other key Qaeda terrorists, disrupting their efforts to kill innocent civilians.


Without the underlying documents, it’s not possible to resolve the competing claims, but many of the C.I.A.’s responses appear plausible on their face. At a minimum it is possible that the C.I.A.’s tactics did help it capture some very dangerous people planning future attacks.


In retrospect, the Senate committee should not have given so much emphasis to whether torture works. The law does not prohibit torture because it is ineffective, but because it is wrong. As David Bromwich wrote in The London Review of Books, asking whether torture works is like asking whether slavery works. It’s the wrong question.

[A patently false analogy. Slavery was not engaged in to save lives but to steal them. The CIA’s efforts, au contraire, were engaged in to save lives, by extracting information about those who were bent on destroying them. — PW]

           — Hat tip: Papa Whiskey [Return to headlines]

Ignoring America’s Safety, Homeland Security Vows: “Government Should Give Voice to Plight of Muslims in This Country”

So much for protecting America and defending the homeland.

According to Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson, protecting the plight of Islam and guarding against discrimination should now be part of the mission of the United States.

No kidding.

Here’s what he said — on video, no less:…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Innocent College Student Subject to Restraining Order for Resembling Alleged Rapist

An innocent male student was reportedly banned from entering large areas of his liberal-arts school in Oregon after a female classmate accused him of slightly resembling a rapist she encountered months prior in another state.

According to Professor Janey Halley, who detailed the incident in an article for the Harvard Law Review, the unnamed male student was forced to abide by the restraining order despite being found innocent during an extensive school investigation.

“I recently assisted a young man who was subjected by administrators at his small liberal arts university in Oregon to a month-long investigation into all his campus relationships, seeking information about his possible sexual misconduct in them…” Halley wrote.

Calling the investigation “an immense invasion of his and his friends’ privacy,” Halley stated that the ensuing punishment resulted in the near-complete dismantling of his education at the college.

“(He) was ordered to stay away from a fellow student (cutting him off from his housing, his campus job, and educational opportunity) — all because he reminded her of the man who had raped her months before and thousands of miles away,” she said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Mpls. Officer Shot Responding to North Side Burglary; Suspect at Large

Police searched neighborhood homes, alleys and dumpsters for a suspect Saturday morning after a Minneapolis police officer was shot about 5 a.m. during a burglary call on the North Side, according to police.

The officer, identified by a source close to the investigation as Jordan Davis, was taken by his partner to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, where he is in satisfactory condition, police said.

The two officers had just finished handling a burglary call on the 1100 block of 24th Avenue N. in the Jordan neighborhood around 5 a.m., police said. One of the officers was shot while standing outside their squad car.

“It was right next to us,” a police audio said from the scene. “We did not see anybody. It came out of nowhere.”

Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau met with the injured officer and his family at the hospital. She said she believes the officer was targeted. Police spokesman John Elder wouldn’t elaborate, other than to say it was not an unintentional act.


Ron Edwards, a member of a steering committee recently created by Police Chief Janee Harteau, said efforts in the black community are being made to get the gunman to turn himself in to prevent further violence.

[But … but … it’s those evil right-wing “sovereign citizens” who are the real domestic terror threat! Barry Hussein’s DHS just said so! — PW]

           — Hat tip: Papa Whiskey [Return to headlines]

Pennsylvania: Bill: HR-5 Denies Parents Their Rights Over Their Own Children

The following information is critically important. It should go viral immediately. Send it to every parent and grandparent, school board member, state legislator, voter, friend… Post it on Facebook, websites, blogs, etc. Time is very short.

Citizens of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvanians Restoring Education, Pennsylvania Against Common Core, parents and students are asking Representative John Kline to stop the REAUTHORIZATION of ESEA, HR 5, the Student Success Act of 2015 which will amend No Child Left Behind.

  • HR 5 denies parents their rights over their children. References page 488; 522-555.
  • HR 5 legislation creates the radical transformation of tax collection through the assigned destruction and hostile takeover of our local neighborhood schools.
  • HR 5 violates states’ rights under the United States Constitution.
  • HR 5 is designed to destroy local, public neighborhood schools through usurpation of elected school boards’ authorities and responsibilities.
  • HR 5 will destroy all private education in America, as well, legislating Title I “choice” vouchers that will “follow the child,” enforcing HR 5 compliance in EVERY PRIVATE AND RELIGIOUS SCHOOL.
  • HR 5 would legislate services to these Title I “choice” children called DIRECT STUDENT SERVICES AS A VOUCHER that must be equitable and comparable to any public school, which is needed to satisfy Common Core.
  • HR 5 will destroy representative government, all non-governmental schools, and standardize education across this nation. This overreach of the federal government is in direct violation of our United States Constitution which dictates separation of federal jurisdiction vs. State jurisdiction.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Internet Isn’t Broken. Obama Doesn’t Need to ‘Fix’ It.

If you like your wireless plan, you should be able to keep it. But new federal regulations may take away your freedom to choose the best broadband plan for you. It’s all part of the federal government’s 332-page plan to regulate the Internet like a public utility — a plan President Barack Obama asked the Federal Communications Commission to implement in November and that is coming up for a vote Feb. 26.

While the plan contains no shortage of regulations, the most problematic may be the new “Internet conduct” rule. It’s a vague rule that gives the FCC almost unfettered discretion to micromanage virtually every aspect of the Internet, including the choices that consumers have for accessing it. If a company doesn’t want to offer an expensive, unlimited data plan, it could find itself in the FCC’s cross hairs.

But restricting service plan options is inherently anti-competitive and anti-consumer. The inevitable results will be higher prices and less service for consumers along with an especially adverse impact on small providers and upstart competitors trying to differentiate themselves in a crowded market.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Video: Veteran Pepper-Sprayed, Cuffed, Beaten and Dragged Through Dirt by Cop

A five year Air Force veteran is suing two Orlando police officers and the city after video emerged of one of the officers viciously beating him, while the other turned away to avoid capturing footage on a body cam he was wearing.

Refus Holloway was attacked after police were called to the scene where the veteran was attempting to break up a fight between two other men at a relative’s house.

Holloway attempted to show the police his military ID, and was not being confrontational according to witnesses. However, he was ordered to get on the ground, where he was cuffed face down.

Despite clearly not resisting in any way, Holloway was pepper sprayed and had a loaded gun pointed at him by officer Joel Williams. Video taken by Holloway’s sister shows him being punched, beaten, kicked, and unceremoniously dragged through the dirt by officer William Escobar.

Additional footage from Williams’ body cam reveals that the officer yelled at his partner to stop using excessive force, but did nothing to stop Escobar, opting instead to turn away so as not to catch the incident on camera.

“That’s what my whole disappointment is about this. They allowed it to happen,” Holloway told reporters.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

White House May Snub AIPAC as it Seeks to Undercut Netanyahu Speech

Administration considering media blitz, cold-shoulder for pro-Israel lobby in its diplomatic war over PM’s address to Congress

ASHINGTON (AP) — In what is becoming an increasingly nasty grudge match, the White House is weighing actions to undermine Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming trip to Washington and blunt his message that a potential nuclear deal with Iran is bad for Israel and the world.

There are limits. Administration officials have discarded the idea of President Barack Obama himself giving an Iran-related address to rebut the two speeches Netanyahu is to deliver during his early March visit. But other options remain on the table.

Among them: a presidential interview with a prominent journalist known for coverage of the rift between Obama and Netanyahu, multiple Sunday show television appearances by senior national security aides and a pointed snub of America’s leading pro-Israel lobby, which is holding its annual meeting while Netanyahu is in Washington, according to the officials.

The administration has already ruled out meetings between Netanyahu and Obama, saying it would be inappropriate for the two to meet so close to Israel’s March 17 elections. But the White House is now doubling down on a cold-shoulder strategy, including dispatching Cabinet members out of the country and sending a lower-ranking official than normal to represent the administration at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the officials said.

           — Hat tip: RL [Return to headlines]

France’s Bizarre Strauss-Kahn Pimping Trial Had Little to Do With the Law

It is a bizarre kind of trial that ends with the prosecutor asking for the defendant to be acquitted. But then the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair has never been straightforward.

Behind the charges of “aggravated pimping”, presented during a case in Lille, lay all sorts of other business: power-play among rival magistrates; a moral campaign by anti-prostitution campaigners; sexual titillation; and the vengeance of a country against the man it nearly chose as president.

What the trial had very little to do with — we can pretty safely say today — is the law.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

French Minister Asks Social Media Giants to Remove Terrorist Propoganda

The French interior minister said Friday he asked Google, Facebook and Twitter to work directly with French officials during investigations and to immediately remove terrorist propaganda when authorities alert them to it.

“We emphasized that when an investigation is underway we don’t want to go through the usual government to government channels, which can take so long,” said French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve after a meeting with representatives from the U.S. tech giants.

“It’s important to have full cooperation and quick reaction” he added.

Cazeneuve’s one-day visit to San Francisco and Silicon Valley comes weeks after terrorist attacks in Paris left 20 people dead, including three gunmen.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Getting a Gun Legally in Europe May be Hard, But Terrorists Have Little Trouble

COPENHAGEN — Europe, a continent long known for the rarity of gun violence, is confronting twin challenges that give the issue sudden urgency: a growing population of radicalized young men determined to strike targets close to home, and a black market awash in high-powered weapons.

The problem has been rendered vividly in recent weeks by a pair of deadly assaults that each paralyzed a European capital. In Paris and Copenhagen, the attacks were carried out by former small-time criminals turned violent extremists who obtained military-grade illicit weapons with apparent ease.


“You can find Kalashnikovs for sale near the train station in Brussels,” acknowledged a Brussels-based European Union official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record. “They’re available even to very average criminals.”

In the case of the Paris attackers, they were able to obtain an entire arsenal: AK-47 assault rifles, pistols, a Skorpion submachine gun and even a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher. All of it was purchased in Brussels for about $5,000, according to Belgian media reports.


Analysts say explosives can be easier to detect than guns and are harder to transport and assemble. Guns also require less expertise, allowing even petty gangsters such as Omar Abdel Hamid el-Hussein, the assailant in Copenhagen, to carry out deadly strikes.

The use of guns has enabled terrorists to pick their victims more precisely. In Paris and Copenhagen, the targets were the same: cartoonists, police officers and Jews.

[Gun-control societies, hyper-empowered terrorists. Why am I not surprised? — PW]

           — Hat tip: Papa Whiskey [Return to headlines]

Italy Prepares for Potential ISIS Air Attack

According to recent reports, the Italian Secret Service fears an air attack by ISIS, compounding the already existent danger of terrorist infiltration among with throngs of immigrants coming to Italy by boat from neighboring Libya.

Several days ago, the air defense system went into high alert after the secret service sent a notice.

The notice spoke of aircraft prepared to take off from Sirte and able to strike the Italian peninsula. Though this has not yet occurred, tensions remain high because of the strong risk of an attack carried out by “lone wolves” as occurred in Paris and in Copenhagen.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Italy: Ligrestis Sent 17 Mn Euros to Switzerland

Failed to report stock and cash transfers

(ANSA) — Turin, February 16 — The Ligresti family moved some 16.7 million euros to Switzerland in stocks and cash during probes into their insurer Fonsai, according to tax police who alerted the economy ministry and the Bank of Italy to a Milan unit. The firm should have communicated the transfers, police said. In July the entire Ligresti family was arrested in a graft probe and in November family patriarch, veteran financier and insurance magnate Salvatore Ligresti went on trial for alleged corruption along with former insurance watchdog Giancarlo Giannini.

Former Fonsai insurance giant boss Ligresti, 82, is charged with trying to get Giannini named antitrust watchdog, a higher job, in exchange for lax controls by insurance authority ISVAP (now IVASS) on his business empire.

The case “shows the extent of the two men’s attempted corrupt power swap,” prosecutors said at the time.

Insurance magnate Ligresti allegedly contacted ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, while he was in office, as part of an attempted arrangement to ease ISVAP oversight.

The appointment to the antitrust authority was to take place at the end of Giannini’s mandate as ISVAP chief, prosecutors say.

Prosecutor Luigi Orsi claimed that Giannini, in exchange, saw to it that the insurance regulator was “inefficient and slow” in its oversight of Fonsai.

Giannini and Ligresti are both accused of corruption in the probe into alleged accounting fraud and market manipulation at the troubled Italian insurance group.

No information indicating legal trouble for Berlusconi has been revealed in the case.

Four other suspects, including Fonsai manager Emanuele Erbetta and Ligresti’s s daughters, Jonella and Giulia, have been implicated.

The group are accused of involvement in accounting irregularities that enabled Ligresti, according to the indictment, to acquire illegal dividends of 200 million euros.

The Ligresti family are the former majority owners of the Fonsai and Milano Assicurazioni insurance companies.

Salvatore Ligresti has long been one of Italy’s most influential businessmen with stakes in a slew of leading banks and companies.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Maradona Loses Tax Appeal, Ordered to Pay 15,000 in Costs

Tribunal says former soccer great refused tax amnesty

(ANSA) — Rome, February 16 — A tax appeal by former Napoli soccer great Diego Armando Maradona was rejected on Monday by a tribunal that also ordered he pay 15,000 euros in legal costs.

The Naples tribunal’s decision, dated January 14, deals with just one of several legal matters involving the Argentinean football star.

In this case, Maradona challenged an October 16, 2013 ruling by the Naples provincial tax directorate which rejected the soccer star’s request for cancellation of tax assessments for the years 1985 to 1990.

The tribunal refused Maradona’s bid for a tax amnesty that it said he had previously rejected.

Maradona has been involved in a long-standing dispute with the Italian tax authorities, who say he owes them around 40 million euros.

In 2012 he said he was the victim of persecution by Equitalia, the tax collection agency, and was recently charged with defaming the former head of the agency, Attilio Befera.

The dispute regards alleged unpaid taxes on off-the-books earnings in sponsorship and merchandising deals in his late 1980s glory-day earnings with Napoli and interest on that income.

Maradona, who played for the Italian club between 1984 and 1991, is revered in Naples for helping the city’s soccer team win two Serie A titles and the UEFA Cup.

The former player had a diamond-studded earring and a Rolex watch seized, among other assets, on past visits to Italy.

Befera was also head of Italy’s inland revenue agency, from 2008 to 2014.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi ‘Paid for Ruby’s 7,000-Euro Party’

Maldives holiday, haute couture ‘also bankrolled’

(ANSA) — Milan, February 18 — Silvio Berlusconi allegedly recently paid for a lavish birthday party for the baby daughter of the former underage prostitute he had sex with at bunga bunga parties, investigators said Wednesday.

The 7,000-euro party paid in cash to former nightclub dancer Ruby the Heartstealer was just one of several big cash handouts the ex-premier made via various factotums, they said.

Another allegedly funded a nine-day Maldives holiday for two people with an estimated cost of 60-90,000 euros, while Ruby also spent large amounts on haute couture.

The handouts of 14-15,000 euros each were made by people acting for Berlusconi in Milan and at Ruby’s home in Genoa, investigators said.

On Tuesday police searched the homes of Ruby and another 20 young women who attended the parties at Berlusconi’s villa outside Milan, in a probe into suspected bribes by the media magnate for them to keep mum about the real, sexual nature of the parties, prosecutors said.

All the women allegedly had a lifestyle out of all proportion with their declared income, investigators said.

Unlike Ruby, who was paid by various people, all the others were allegedly on the payroll of Berlusconi’s trusted ‘treasurer’, Giuseppe Spinelli.

Berlusconi was cleared on appeal last year of knowingly having sex with Ruby when she was 17, one year below the legal age to be a sex worker.

Judges upheld the three-time premier’s assertion he did not know she was underage.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Pollster Mannheimer Plea Bargains in Tax-Fraud Case

Repays 6.3 mn euros

(ANSA) — Milan, February 18 — Top Italian pollster Renato Mannheimer plea-bargained a one year, 11-month suspended jail term Wednesday for conspiracy to commit tax fraud amounting to some 10 million euros.

The head of the ISPO institute repaid all the “tax damage” to the tune of 6.3 million euros, a judge said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Singer Gino Paoli Under Investigation in Tax Evasion Probe

Singer-songwriter allegedly took 2 million euro to Switzerland

(ANSA) Genoa, February 19 — Finance police searched the home of popular singer Gino Paoli Thursday after he was placed under investigation for alleged tax evasion and allegedly illegally exporting two million euros to Switzerland in 2008.

Investigators began looking into Paoli’s affairs as a spin-off from a separate inquiry into alleged fraud against the Carige bank, judicial sources said, tapping telephone chats between the singer-songwriter and Andrea Vallebuona, an accountant also used by the chairman of Carige.

In one conversation the two talked about transferring two million euros to Switzerland using Carige’s fiduciary centre.

The two million were not declared to tax authorities, meaning Paoli would owe 800,000 euros in tax.

The search of Paoli’s Genoa home was to try and determine which Swiss bank the singer used to deposit the two million.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Video of Roma Driving Police Car Riles Officers

Police probe finds used movie set squad car

(ANSA) — Rome, February 19 — A group of Roma (gypsies) who made a video of themselves apparently sitting at the wheel of a police car they had stolen used a movie-set squad car vehicle to poke fun at the forces of law and order, police said Thursday.

The video showing the Roma mimicking police rushing out of the car attracted a wide readership on social networks but a probe by police headquarters in Rome found that a car belonging to a movie prop agency had been used for the prank.

The company has been identified and police are starting legal proceedings to protect the image of the police and obtain damages, a police statement said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Ex Member of Sicilian Parliament Convicted of Graft

Gaspare Vitrano sentenced to 7 years

(ANSA) — Palermo, February 19 — A former member of Sicily’s regional assembly was convicted of graft and sentenced to seven years on Thursday for activities in the green energy sector.

Gaspare Vitrano, a former member of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), was arrested in March 2011 while he was pocketing a 10,000-euro bribe from a businessman operating in the photovoltaic industry. Prosecutors said Vitrano and Mario Bonomo, ex coordinator of the party Allies for Sicily, facilitated the activities of two companies in which they held majority stakes but which were formally registered in someone else’s name. Bonomo is being tried in separate proceedings.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Denis Verdini Indictment Sought for Fraudulent Bankruptcy

Publishing firm went bust in 2014

(ANSA) — Florence, February 20 — Italian prosecutors on Friday asked a judge to indict Forza Italia heavyweight Denis Verdini and four others on charges of fraudulent bankruptcy.

Verdini was the founder and boss of a Tuscan publishing company, Società Toscana di Edizioni, which went bust in 2014.

Another Forza Italia MP, Massimo Parisi, also faces indictment.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Parliament ‘Humiliated’ By Renzi Says Vendola

SEL expects ‘more respect’

(ANSA) — Rome, February 17 — Parliament has been “humiliated” by Premier Matteo Renzi’s ramming through key legislation such as the scrapping of the Senate in its present form via emergency decrees and confidence votes, the leader of the Left, Ecology and Freedom (SEL) party, Nichi Vendola, said after meeting President Sergio Mattarella Tuesday.

Vendola, among opposition leaders who asked to meet Mattarella last week after the government used non-stop ‘river’ debates to push its constitutional reform ahead, said Renzi could not “govern by ‘coups de main’ and accelerations that gag parliament, reducing it to a vote factory”.

He said SEL expected more “seriousness and respect” from the premier and leader of the ruling Democratic Party.

Renzi had been relying on a deal with ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi for broad support for constitutional reforms.

That deal collapsed, and Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (FI) joined opposition parties in boycotting votes, after Renzi had Mattarella elected without FI’s agreement.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Norway’s Muslims Form Protective Human Ring Around Synagogue

More than 1,000 Muslims formed a human shield around Oslo’s synagogue on Saturday, offering symbolic protection for the city’s Jewish community and condemning an attack on a synagogue in neighboring Denmark last weekend.

Chanting “No to anti-Semitism, no to Islamophobia,” Norway’s Muslims formed what they called a ring of peace a week after Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, a Danish-born son of Palestinian immigrants, killed two people at a synagogue and an event promoting free speech in Copenhagen last weekend.

“Humanity is one and we are here to demonstrate that,” Zeeshan Abdullah, one of the protest’s organizers told a crowd of Muslim immigrants and ethnic Norwegians who filled the small street around Oslo’s only functioning synagogue.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Ports: Deiana: Free Zone in Cagliari Also for Arab Markets

To facilitate commercial relations with Maghreb and Middle East

(ANSAmed) — CAGLIARI, FEBRUARY 20 — A Free Zone to facilitate and boost commercial ties with Arab countries, is what local regional authority for transport, Massimo Deiana, spoke about during the international market of Italian-Arab enterprises which began this morning at the cruise terminal in the port of Cagliari. “The port — he stressed — can create better conditions to improve these relations. Let’s think about the Free Zone: the technical and management infrastructure is growing and we are working to calculate the permiter of the first part of the Free Zone. It could be a turning point especially with regard to the region of Maghreb and the Middle East” he added. Preparatory studies are needed: “We have to monitor ship itineraries and the type of wares they carry in order to understand how to use the Free Zone which could prove pivotal for the commercial traffic with non EU countries”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Spain Outstrips Italy and France as Largest Wine Exporter

France had top export value between 2013-2014

(ANSAmed) — MADRID — Spain has become the largest wine exporter in the world in terms of volume sold, beating Italy, France, Chile, Australia and South Africa, according to Spanish customs and excise agency data analyzed by the Spanish Wine Market Observatory (OEMV).

The data were cited on Tuesday by the daily elEconomista.

Between September 2013 and September 2014, Spain sold a total of 2.168 billion liters of wine (+19.9%), compared with Italy’s 2.035 billion liters (-1.7%). A year ago Italy was the top exporter with 2.071 billion bottles and Spain the second, with 1.808 billion liters. France was in third position in terms of exported volume and top in terms of export value, much higher than both Italian and Spanish export value. From September 2013 to September 2014, France got 7.673 billion euros from wine exports on international markets, compared with 5.087 from Italy and 2.524 from Spain. Until November 2014, Spanish wine exports continued to rise, with a 22.2% increase on the year, but lower revenue was due to the fall of prices to make the product competitive on international markets.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Swedish Employment Office Recruiting for ISIS

The Swedish national employment office has been running an extensive “establishment pilot” program for years, where the thousands of new arrivals from MENA each week are supposedly being helped find jobs. The tax-funded pilot services are often carried out by countrymen on a consultant-basis with the intent of bridging the gap into Swedish society.

Now the employment office has been forced to do an emergency shutdown because it turns out the consultants have been more focused on scams, recruiting for ISIS and setting up Swedish terror cells than finding jobs. The program has been in effect since 2010 and has been heavily criticized since the start, but this tax-funded debacle sowing the seeds of societal destruction has been allowed to run unchecked until now.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

The Islamic State Threatens to Come to Rome; Italians Respond With Travel Advice

In a recently released video that showed the killing of 21 Christians in Libya, all but one of them Egyptian, the Islamic State issued an ominous warning: “Today we are south of Rome,” one masked militant said. “We will conquer Rome with Allah’s permission.”

To make matters worse, Rita Katz, director of SITE Intelligence Group, pointed out that supporters of the Islamic State have begun using a hashtag to warn of their plan to reach “Rome.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Thousands of Polish Farmers in GMOs, Land Rights Protest

Polish government destroying roots of agriculture, say protesters

EXCERPT: Jadwiga Lopata, a family farmer and co-director of the International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside (ICPPC) said, “The health and welfare of the nation depends on consumers and farmers having access to traditional seeds and good quality food. The Polish government does not accept this and is destroying the roots of Polish agriculture by listening to corporations rather than the Polish people.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK Police Force Apologises for Taking Details of Charlie Hebdo Readers

Wiltshire force says it has deleted from its system details of four people who bought copies of magazine from a newsagent

A British police force has apologised after an officer told a newsagent to hand over details of customers who purchased copies of the French satirical magazineCharlie Hebdo in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.

Wiltshire police confirmed that one of their officers visited a newsagent in Corsham, Wiltshire, to ask for the names of four customers who ordered the commemorative “survivors’ issue” of the magazine.

The incident came to light when Anne Keat, 77, who bought the special issue from that newsagent, wrote a letter to the Guardian to warn people that wearing badges emblazoned with je suis Charlie may attract police interest…

           — Hat tip: Derius [Return to headlines]

Bizarre: Tony Blair to Advise Serbia’s Prime Minister

Srdja Trifkovic’s Interview on RT International

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a leading advocate of NATO’s bombing of Serbia in 1999, will be an advisor to Serbia’s Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, who was Milosevic’s information minister at that time. Five years later Vucic edited Seselj’s book which referred to Blair as “that English faggot fart.” In his latest RT International interview Srdja Trifkovic examines this strange development.

RT: The chief proponent of NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia could now advise a Prime Minister who was himself an outspoken critic of Tony Blair. What’s going on there?

ST: The Belgrade government is almost desperate to continue what is euphemistically called the “European path”: They want to join the EU, even though the benefits of doing so are rather moot. And there are some major obstacles, including the determination of Germany to demand Serbia’s recognition of Kosovo’s illegal independence as a precondition. What is bizarre is that Tony Blair has never expressed any regrets about his support for the bombing of Serbia in 1999, even though his justification for joining the U.S.-led bombing campaign was as false as his reasons for joining Bush in the war against Iraq.

In fact, his government and he personally claimed that it was the objective of Serbia to create an apartheid society and to ethnically cleanse Kosovo of the Albanians, which was simply not true. But what is even more bizarre… I mean, one might imagine that Serbian Prime Minister Vucic would want a former foe on board because he wants to influence the powers-that-be in Western Europe. But what is particularly bizarre is that they seem to be blissfully unaware of Tony Blair’s low standing in his own country, where he has been under fire primarily for his role in the Iraq war…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic [Return to headlines]

Gentiloni Says No Alternative to Diplomacy on Libya

Tripoli again refuses talks with rival govt in Tobruk

(ANSA) — Paris, February 20 — Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said Friday that “there are at the moment no alternatives” to diplomacy under the United Nations aimed at resolving the crisis in Libya and stemming the advance of ISIS militants. Tripoli meanwhile once again refused to resume UN-mediated negotiations with its rival government in Tobruk.

During meetings of the so-called Mediterranean group in Paris, he said if diplomacy fails, that would mean a “different hypothesis”. Meetings next week will focus on political and economic support as well as capacity building, he said. Monitoring will also be needed, he added.

The ‘Mediterranean Group’ meeting served to come up with a shared position on the Libyan crisis, he said.

“At the moment we are fully backing the UN’s mediation attempts, which aim to reach an agreement next week between the various parties involved for a reconciliation government,” the minister said after meeting with his French, Portuguese, Spanish, Greek and Cypriot counterparts.

Gentiloni said that “we must not describe Libya as if it were entirely in the hands of terrorism and the Islamic State (ISIS). This is not the reality. Of course the situation is getting worse, and this is why time is of the essence.”

Terrorism rooted in Islamic extremism, he said, “is not a threat only to one or two countries. It is a threat to all Europe.”

He added that in addition to the urgency of it, “there is a problem that affects all Europe: the lack of stable institutions in Libya, which leads to an increase in irregular migratory flows. These, of course, land on the Italian coasts but then affect all 28 EU nations. This is why the EU must increase its commitment.”

Omar Al-Hassi, the prime minister of the government not recognized at the international level and based in the Libyan capital, has insisted that dialogue be suspended “unless the UN bring the Egyptian regime before justice” for its airstrikes on “civilians in Derna”, say Libyan media. Hassi said that the beheading of 21 Egyptian Copts in Libya has been at the hands of “loyalists” of the now-dead Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and attributed to the Islamic State (ISIS) with a fraudulent video to damage the Tripoli government’s image and justify an Egyptian invasion.

Media reports had said that talks were to have taken place on Sunday in Morocco, though no official confirmation had been given. Tripoli had previously insisted that talks be moved from Geneva to Libya.

The death toll of three car bombs Friday in the eastern Libyan city of Al-Qubah has risen to 47 dead and 80 injured, say sources at the city’s Al-Bayda hospital.

The death toll may rise, as 26 of those injured are in critical condition. The Islamic State (ISIS) have claimed responsibility for the attacks, say Libyan sources that quoted a statement released by the jihadist group.

The new was also given by Al-Jazeera on television.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: ISIS Imposes Curfew in Sirte

(AGI) Rome, Feb 20 — Three ISIS suicide bombers perpetrated a massacre in the town of Al Qubah on Friday, detonating their charges while in their car. The tally is of 40 dead and 70 injured; most of the victims were also in their cars, queuing at a gas station near a security force building. Al Qubah is located between the ISIS stronghold of Derna in eastern Libya and Beida, the seat of Abdullah al Thani’s government elected by the House of Representatives of Tobruk. ISIS militants have also reportedly taken full control of Sirte, the birthplace of Muammar Qaddafi, where they have imposed a curfew after the prayer of Isha, at 8 p.m. local time. A branch of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s organisation has occupied the city’s university and public buildings. On Wednesday, it published a video showing its militants parading in Sirte. On the diplomatic front, the Islamist forces that control Tripoli and Libya’s western region refused to take part in new UN-mediated peace talks. Omar al Hasi, the prime minister of the local government not recognised by the international community, said there is no more room for the dialogue sponsored by the UN’s special envoy, Bernardino Leon, in the light of Egypt’s air strikes within Libya, albeit against ISIS targets. It is the latest episode in a conflict of legitimacy between the so-called shadow government in Tripoli, supported by Qatar and Turkey, and the ‘secular’ government of Abdullah al Thani, supported by Egypt — primarily through General Khalifa Haftar — and the United Arab Emirates. It is also recognised by the international community. Al Hasi also accused former pro-Qaddafi groups of masterminding the rise of the Islamic State in Sirte. The international community remains firm in its view that negotiations are the only viable path.

Strong support for Bernardino Leon’s mediation was expressed by the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, during her meeting in Washington with the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, and Egypt’s foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry.

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

Israeli Elections: A “Super-Bottled” Netanyahu

A tired Israel goes to the polls in March. The scandals related to the prime minister’s carefree lifestyle and greed are at the heart of the campaign. But Bibi’s adversaries lack substance. Here is a masterly and ironic analysis by Israel’s great peacenik.

Tel Aviv (AsiaNews) — Everybody Knows what the Israeli elections are about. The choice is stark: on the one side, the dream of a Greater Israel “from the sea to the river”, which would in practice be an apartheid state; on the other side, an end to the occupation and peace.

Some would add a social choice: on the one side, the existing neoliberal state with the widest inequality in the industrialized world; on the other side, a social-democratic state of social solidarity.

So is the country plastered with posters about war and peace, occupation and settlements, wages and the cost of living? Are TV programs full of them? Are they occupying the front pages of the newspapers?

Far from it. Five weeks to Election Day, and all these subjects have practically disappeared.

War, peace, social justice — they just raise a collective yawn. There are far more interesting matters which electrify the public mind.

Bottles, for example.

Bottles, For God’s sake? Elections about bottles?

Yes, indeed. Bottles.

The entire country is preoccupied by what Sherlock Holmes would have called the Mystery of the Bottles.

Israel is an ecology-minded society. It felt threatened by discarded plastic and glass bottles. So a law was enacted that obliges supermarkets and other retail businesses to demand a small deposit — a few cents — about 13 for a plastic bottle, about 30 for a wine bottle — to be returned in exchange for the empty bottle. Many people, like myself, don’t bother.

But small sums can become large sums. Many poor elderly people earn a kind of living by collecting empty bottles from the dustbins in the streets, mostly for organized crime families.

All the returned bottles are treated for reuse. The environment is saved. Everybody is satisfied. So how did this become a hot election issue, pushing everything else from the national agenda?

Enter The First Family: Binyamin Netanyahu, wife Sarah and the two just adult sons.

The family is housed by the state in the official Prime Minister’s residence in the center of Jerusalem. It also owns two private dwellings — an apartment in a well-to-do Jerusalem neighborhood and a sumptuous villa in Caesarea, a neighborhood of the very rich.

By law, all these residences are kept by the state. The public purse pays all living expenses, such as food and drinks, as well as the staff that mans (and womans) them.

Since the beginning of the Netanyahu terms, news and rumors about the goings-on in the three residences abound. It seems that Sarah Netanyahu, the would-be-queen, is a difficult person to deal with, especially for domestic employees. Several of them have sued her in court for mistreatment. Human turnover is frequent. Dismissed personnel complain.

Netanyahu’s home full of bottles

One disclosure was that Sarah’le (as everybody calls her, not always out of love) has removed garden furniture from the government-owned residence to her private villa. Another was that the chief of the domestic staff was woken in the middle of the night at his home and ordered to bring some hot soup at once to his mistress’ bedroom. It seems that she frequently yells at the staff for small omissions. All this was brought up in various court cases, to the great delight of the masses.

For example, it became public that the Prime Minister’s residence has ordered ice cream for hundreds of thousands of dollars during the year. Always pistachio.

Complaints about the Prime Minister’s love for luxury are not new. For years now, the Attorney General has been making inquiries about “Bibitours”, the habit of Netanyahu and his family to fly first-class and stay in luxury hotels all over the world without paying a shekel — all expenses paid by foreign billionaires. Since he was Minister of Finance at the time, this was against the law.

And now come the bottles.

One Dismissed employee disclosed to the media that Sarah’le habitually sends two government employees in an official car to the bottle collection station to return empty bottles and get the deposits back. Instead of returning the money to the government, as the law demands, she pockets it for her private use.

Big deal? Seems so. When first caught, the family returned to the government 4000 shekels, almost a thousand Euros. Now it appears that the sums are much larger, and that Sarah’le has continued with the practice since.

This may be a criminal offence. The Attorney General and the State Comptroller, both Netanyahu appointees, threw the file at each other. Now the may be compelled to do something before the elections.

How many bottles? It has become known that the family consumes an average of one bottle of expensive wine every day. In a country like Israel where many people don’t drink alcohol at all, that is quite a lot. When asked about it, the family lawyer astonished the country by asserting on TV that “wine is not alcohol”.

The idea that our Prime Minister may be drunk when fateful decisions have to be taken at once — ordering a military action, for example — is not very appealing.

A Yiddish expression comes to my twisted mind. Long before Alois Alzheimer, the German doctor, discovered a hundred years ago the disease that bears his name, the symptoms described by him were called in Yiddish “over bottle”. This is derived from the Hebrew “over battel” — nothing-doer, useless old fogey.

About the Netanyahus one could say now, in a more literal sense, that they are over-bottled.

FOR WEEKS now, this is the hottest topic in Israel.

Bibi-haters, with which the country abounds, are happy. This will surely hurt Netanyahu and the Likud grievously. Does it?

Labor’s ‘Zionist Camp’

As of now, not at all. On the contrary, after several days in which the “Zionist Camp” (a.k.a. Labor Party) overtook the Likud in the polls by one or two seats, the Likud has rebounded and taken the lead by two or three seats. No Labor djinn has emerged from the bottles.

The country was amused. The bottles provided the stuff of unlimited quantities of gossip, cartoons and satire, but did not change the political attitudes of the voters.

And, of course, something has gone wrong with the “Zionist Camp”.

In Military terms, when a general succeeds in breaking the lines of the enemy, the last thing he should do is stop and congratulate himself. He should throw all his forces into the breach and conquer the opponent’s rear.

Yitzhak Herzog is no general, and did not learn this lesson.

He started his election campaign well enough. His political marriage with Tzipi Livni was a masterstroke. Livni did not bring a dowry — her party was more virtual than real. But the union created a sense of novelty, of movement, of momentum. The more so as Herzog agreed to a rotation between himself and Livni if he becomes prime minister — a gesture that was perceived as a generous act of modesty and selflessness, unusual for a politician in Israel (or elsewhere, I suspect). Usually, politicians are egomaniacs.

Results were immediate. The Labor party, seen until then as almost moribund, jumped to life in the polls. It overtook Likud. Suddenly people could imagine the defeat of the Right. Herzog, an unassuming and physically small person, suddenly appeared as a plausible candidate for leadership.

And there it stopped. Something happened to the new Camp: nothing happened. In internal primary elections, an impressive slate of candidates emerged, a list of new, fresh and competent people who are far more attractive than the lists of all the other parties.

But that was it. The party fell quiet. It did not react at all to Netanyahu’s blatant act of provocation on the northern border, it did not bring up new and revolutionary ideas, it started no real propaganda campaign. Until now, the party campaign is like Herzog himself: unassuming, decent and quiet. Very quiet.

Likud, on the other hand, is rampant. They throw every ounce of dirt they can lay their hands on. They are shrill, unscrupulous and vulgar.

Anti-Netanyahu Forces?

But the main thing is that there was no more momentum. In vain, I proposed, in two articles in Haaretz, a joint election list of all center and left parties, thus giving the impression that all anti-Netanyahu forces are uniting to put an end to Likud domination and build a new governing majority, with a new agenda.

The idea evoked no reaction. Herzog did not want Meretz, for fear that his list would be contaminated by leftists. Neither was he ready to woo Yair Lapid’s center party. (My proposal was to include both, so that they would balance each other in the public mind.) Herzog apparently did not feel, like me, that a large new alliance would create enthusiasm and arouse the leftist public from its fatal apathy.

Lapid’s egomania prevented him from promoting such a union, in which he would not be No. 1, though polls predicted that his party would shrink to half its first-time strength. Meretz was not ready to give up its cozy isolation, more a social club than a political force. The learned professors, devoid of any political intuition, with which the Left abounds, adamantly advised against it.

When the final day for submitting the election lists came and passed, I was sad. Not angry, just sad. I felt in my bones that a unique opportunity to overcome the right-wing domination, with all that it entails for the future of Israel, had been missed.

It may still happen. The public may still decide that enough is enough. But the chances for that are much diminished.

A Friend of mine, who has a conspiratorial turn of mind, has suggested that the whole bottle affair was really brought up by Netanyahu himself as a ploy to take the public mind off the fateful problems facing Israel, for which he has no solutions.

For better or for worse, the bottles have centered public attention on him. His pictures fill the TV screen, his name features in the news. Herzog, without bottles or pistachio ice cream, remains discreetly in the background. Even Tzipi cannot compete with Sarah’le’s colorful personality.

Those of us who feared that Netanyahu might provoke a war on the eve of the election, might say: better bottles than battles.

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

Arab Governments Reportedly Concerned About Terms of Iran Nuke Talks

Arab governments are privately expressing their concern to Washington about the emerging terms of a potential deal aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program, according to Arab and U.S. officials involved in the deliberations.

The direction of U.S. diplomacy with Tehran has added fuel to fears in some Arab states of a nuclear-arms race in the region, as well as reviving talk about possibly extending a U.S. nuclear umbrella to Middle East allies to counter any Iranian threat.

The major Sunni states, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, have said that a final agreement could allow Shiite-dominated Iran, their regional rival, to keep the technologies needed to produce nuclear weapons, according to these officials, while removing many of the sanctions that have crippled its economy in recent years.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Former Yemen President Flees Capital After Rebels Let Him Go

SANAA, Yemen — Yemen’s former president left the capital after Shiite rebels who surrounded his house let him go under international and local pressure, aides close to him said Saturday.

The aides said former President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi left Sanaa and later arrived in Aden. They say Hadi later plans to leave the country to receive medical treatment.

Hadi has been under house arrest for several weeks following a coup by Shiite Houthi rebels. The rebels earlier captured the capital, Sanaa, in September.

The aides say the rebels let Hadi go after pressure from the United Nations, the U.S., Russia and local political parties.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Iran Politics Soiled by ‘Dirty Money’: Minister

Iran’s Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said Saturday political life in the Islamic republic was tainted by “dirty money”, including from drugs, the official IRNA news agency reported.

“A large part of the moral corruption in this country comes from the introduction of dirty money into politics,” the minister was quoted as saying.

Iran was in 136th place out of 175 last year in an index of nations seen as corrupt by Transparency International, a non-governmental organisation…

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

Iranian VP: CIA Behind Islamic State

Masoumeh Ebtekar, the first female vice president of Iran, has singled out the United States and the CIA as the progenitor of ISIS or IS, the Islamic State.

“Well, I think there’s a lot of skepticism about the role of the United States in dealing with ISIS, because the support they initially provided for ISIS in Syria strengthened this group at that time, and then also other reasons to believe this is not a genuine group, it somehow instigated or created by, I don’t know, a certain intelligence agency,” Ebtekar said when asked about IS during an interview conducted by ABC News.

In October the former Iranian minister of intelligence, Heydar Moslehi, was more direct. He said ISIS was created by “the triangle of Mossad, MI6, and the CIA.”

Moslehi said that “dollars from Saudi Arabia and some of the Gulf countries” are responsible for funding the terrorist army.

“The coalition certainly does not want to destroy IS because it needs to use IS for most of its Satanic goals,” he added.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Iraqi Army (And US) To Launch Offensive on Mosul in April-May

The operation must be carried out before the summer heat. The US does not exclude its participation in the ground war. 20-25 thousand men needed among Iraqi troops, the peshmerga, tribal and anti-terrorism forces. Amazement at the publicity given to the news. Discussions in Saudi Arabia on how to strengthen the Iraqi army

Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) — An official of the US Central Command said that the Iraqi army is preparing an offensive to take back Mosul from the hands of the Islamic State (IS) in April-May. An estimated 20-25 thousand Iraqi soldiers are in training, including police forces, the Kurdish Peshmerga troops, tribal forces and anti-terrorism groups.

Mosul, Iraq’s second city was inhabited by over a million people before it was conquered by the IS last June. It is estimated that it is controlled by a 2 thousand strong Islamist militia.

The US official said the offensive must take place before the end of May and the onset of the summer heat. In any case, he added, if the troops were not ready and trained, the operations would be delayed.

Recapturing the city of Mosul implies a house to house guerrilla war. The official did not rule out the participation of the US in a ground war.

Several observers are amazed by the communication: it is quite strange to broadcast news and details of a military operation well in advance. One hypothesis is that the United States wants to show that they are engaged in the fight against the IS and that their training of Iraqi troops is bearing fruit. In recent weeks, the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has been stepping up pressure to recapture Mosul..

So far the Kurdish forces have been reluctant to fight for Mosul, preferring to defend the borders of the Kurdish region, for which they would like independence. Even the southern Shiite militias fear the battle against the Sunni IS militiamen and feel unwelcome in the Sunni majority region of Mosul.

The United States are training Iraqi soldiers in five areas. Many Iraqi soldiers, before the advance of the IS last June, have abandoned their weapons and uniforms, allowing the city to fall into the hands of militants.

Yesterday, the military leaders of 20 nations gathered in Saudi Arabia to discuss the ways to strengthen the Iraqi army against the IS.

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

Massive Fire Engulfs Dubai ‘Torch’ Residential Tower — Videos

A massive blaze has engulfed the ‘Marina Torch’ skyscraper in Dubai, forcing hundreds of people to flee the 336-meter-high tower — one of the tallest residential buildings in the world. It took firefighters over two hours to bring the fire under control.

The fire initially started in the middle of the tower, rapidly spreading across some 15 floors, intensifying and reigniting with each gust of wind, according to photos and videos from the scene.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Pakistan Terror Wave Sparks Rare Criticism of Saudi Arabia

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have long enjoyed close relations, but Islamabad’s new-found resolve for fighting the root causes of extremism has seen the Gulf state come in for rare criticism.

The two countries, both with majority Sunni Muslim populations, are bound together by shared Islamic religious ties, financial aid from oil-rich Saudi and Pakistani military assistance to the kingdom.

But a Taliban massacre at a school that killed more than 150 people in December, mostly children, has led the government to crack down on militants and talk of bringing religious seminaries under tighter control.

Now the country’s media and even government ministers have begun to question whether support from Saudi Arabia for seminaries, known as madrassas, is fuelling violent extremism — bringing tension to the relationship for the first time…

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

Europe “Isolates” Putin? Considers “Reframing” Energy Relations With Russia

It appears President Obama’s “costs” imposed on Russia have boomerang’d just too much for Europe to take. As Reuters reports, The EU is seeking to create a single energy market, based on cross-border connections to improve security of supply and reduce dependence on Russia, which supplies roughly one third of EU energy. The headline pivot away from Putin, likely misses the fact that there is very little a stagnating Europe can do, even in the medium term, to ‘reduce’ dependence on Washington’s nemesis.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Peace? Ukraine “Preparing for Full-Scale War” With Russia, Demands the West Supply Lethal Weapons

“We don’t want to scare everybody, but we are preparing for full-scale war,” warns Vadym Prystaiko — Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister — telling CBC during a stunning interview that “what we expect from the world is that the world will stiffen up in the spine a little.” Deamnding that West provide ‘lethal weapons’ Prystaiko rages “everybody is afraid of fighting with a nuclear state. We are not anymore.” Coming just a week after the Minsk Summit ‘peace’ deal and with Germany having warned they are likely unable to stop arms being supplied to Ukraine, Prystaiko concludes, “we would like [The West] to send lethal weapons to Ukraine… weapons to allow us to defend ourselves.”

As CBC reports,

Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister says he is preparing for “full-scale war” against Russia and wants Canada to help by supplying lethal weapons and the training to use them.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The “Exceptional” U.S. Suffers Crushing Defeat in Debaltsevo

In less than a year, the United States has toppled the democratically-elected government of Ukraine, installed a Washington-backed stooge in Kiev, launched a bloody and costly war of annihilation on Russian-speaking people in the East, thrust the economy into a downward death spiral, and reduced the nation to an anarchic, failed state destined to endure a vicious fratricidal civil war for as far as the eye can see.

Last week, Washington suffered its greatest military defeat in more than a decade when Ukraine’s US-backed army was soundly routed in the major railway hub of Debaltsevo. Roughly, 8,000 Ukrainian regulars along with untold numbers of tanks and armored units were surrounded in what-came-to-be-known-as “the cauldron.” The army of the Donetsk Peoples Republic led by DPR commander Alexander Zakharchenko, encircled the invading army and gradually tightened the cordon, eventually killing or capturing most of the troops within the pocket. The Ukrainian Armed Forces suffered major casualties ranging between 3,000 to 3,500 while a vast amount of lethal military hardware was left behind.

According to Zakharchenko, “The amount of equipment Ukrainian units have lost here is beyond description.”

Additionally, the US-backed proxy-army saw many of its crack troops and top-notch units destroyed in the fighting leaving Kiev unable to continue the war without assistance from allies in the US or Europe. The full impact of the defeat will not be known until angry troops returning from the front amass on the streets of the Capital and demand Petro Poroshenko’s resignation. The Ukrainian President is responsible for the massacre at Debaltsevo. He was fully aware that his army faced encirclement but ordered them to remain in order to satisfy powerful right-wing elements in his government. The disaster is even more terrible due to the fact that it was entirely avoidable and achieved no strategic purpose at all. Extreme hubris frequently impacts outcomes on the battlefield. This was the case at Debaltsevo.

The debacle ensures that the bumbling president’s days are numbered. It’s nearly certain that he will either be replaced or hanged sometime in weeks ahead. He has already flown his family to safety out of the country, and there’s growing speculation that both Washington and the far-right nationalists who occupy the Security Services will insist on his removal. That paves the way for a second Ukrainian coup in less than a year, a grim reminder of the tragic failings of US policy in Ukraine.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Ukraine Crisis: Prisoner Swap Boosts Ceasefire

Ukrainian government and rebel forces have exchanged dozens of prisoners, a week after a ceasefire came into effect in the east of the country.

A total of 139 Ukrainian soldiers were freed and 52 rebels.

The exchange is the first step carried out successfully under the terms of the 12 February Minsk agreements, brokered by France and Germany.

Later on Saturday the rebels reportedly ordered a pullback of heavy weapons, another key part of the ceasefire.

The moves came as the US said it was considering “serious sanctions” against Russia following breaches of the truce.

During a visit to London, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Mr Obama would make a decision on the sanctions in the coming days.

He accused Moscow of “craven behaviour” in its support for the rebels, undermining a ceasefire.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Indian Special Court Postpones Hearing for Marines

Rescheduled to follow Supreme Court hearing

(ANSA) — New Delhi, February 20 — The Indian Special Court in New Delhi has postponed a hearing scheduled Friday for Italian marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone to March 12, ANSA has learned.

Latorre and Girone are accused in India of killing two Indian fisherman during an anti-piracy mission in 2012.

The Special Court, tasked with examining the incident involving the marines, said the Indian Supreme Court is still hearing the case and it has ordered that all other judicial proceedings be suspended in the meantime.

The new March 12 hearing date is three days after a Supreme Court hearing scheduled for March 9, when a magistrate will verify whether or not the competent Indian ministries and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) responded to a request for an opinion brief regarding an Italian request to eliminate NIA from the trial.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Newspaper in India Pays a Price for Reprinting a Charlie Hebdo Cartoon

By Neha Thirani Bagri

MUMBAI, India — The Charlie Hebdo slaughter in Paris has reverberated into the multireligious ethnic sprawl of Mumbai, where an Urdu newspaper has closed and its editor faces charges and death threats for having reprinted a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad from the satirical French weekly.

The prosecution of the editor, Shirin Dalvi, has focused attention on limits of freedom of the press in India, where news coverage often conflicts with the government’s efforts to protect religious groups from insult and disrespect.

All the employees of the daily newspaper, Avadhnama, were dismissed in the days after Jan. 17, when it published a 2006 cover from Charlie Hebdo showing Muhammad weeping. That image was part of the newspaper’s coverage of the aftermath of the deadly assault on Charlie Hebdo’s Paris offices on Jan. 7 by Islamist militants, who said they were avenging Muslims offended by the French newspaper’s cartoons.

Ms. Dalvi was arrested on Jan. 28. She has been out on bail, but is in hiding because of threats against her.

At the urging of Urdu Patrakar Sangh, an association of Urdu-language journalists in Mumbai, five police complaints against Ms. Dalvi were filed from precincts across the city on the day her newspaper published the cartoon.

“You are free to write anything in our country, but you are not free to hurt religious sentiments,” said Nusrat Ali, a reporter with an Urdu weekly who was among those filing the complaints.

[Just the kind of progresso-fascist regime sought by Hillary Clinton and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for us. — PW]

           — Hat tip: Papa Whiskey [Return to headlines]

Pentagon Chief: U.S. Considering Slowing Exit From Afghanistan

The United States is considering slowing its military exit from Afghanistan by keeping a larger-than-planned troop presence this year and next because the new Afghan government is proving to be a more reliable partner, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Saturday.

Carter, on his first overseas trip since starting the Pentagon job Tuesday, also said the Obama administration is “rethinking” the counterterrorism mission in Afghanistan, although he did not elaborate.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Soccer: Thai Businessman in Milan Bid

Bee Taechaubol aiming for more than 50% of Berlusconi’s club

(ANSA) — Bangkok, February 16 — Thai businessman Bee Taechaubol on Monday confirmed he has made a one-billion-euro bid for a majority stake in Silvio Berlusconi’s AC Milan, the Bangkok Post reported.

Taechaubol, 41, head of the Thai Prime financial group, said he was interested in more than 50% of the seven-time European and 18-time Italian champs’ share value but not all of it.

He said he was confident the deal could be sealed by the end of February.

Milan on Saturday denied a report by La Repubblica daily that an unspecified Thai investor was negotiating to take a stake in media magnate and former premier Berlusconi’s club.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

US Signals Likely Delay in Troop Pullout From Afghanistan

President Barack Obama’s new Pentagon chief said Saturday the United States was seriously considering slowing the pace of a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan after talks with Afghan leaders in Kabul.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s comments offered the clearest sign yet that Washington was ready to delay the closure of some bases and retain more troops on the ground after appeals by Afghanistan’s new President Ashraf Ghani and advice from commanders.

To safeguard “hard-won” progress, Obama “is considering a number of options to reinforce our support for President Ghani’s security strategy, including possible changes to the timeline for our drawdown of US troops,” Carter said…

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

Landing Strips, Farms and Hideaways: Secret Escapes of the Elite: “the Rich Are Worried and They Should be”

Many of the world’s uber-elite and super-wealthy are staking out retreats in remote lands like New Zealand to protect themselves and their families from coming unrest.As reported by Britain’s Mirror, hedge fund managers especially are staking out the secret escapes, “in the event of civil uprising against growing inequality,” the paper said in online editions.

Included in the purchases are landing strips, homes and land in remote areas of remote countries where they believe they will be safe from the masses.

The paper further reported:

With growing inequality and riots such as those in London in 2011 and in Ferguson and other parts of the USA last year, many financial leaders fear they could become targets for public fury.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

A Cowardly War: Obama’s Backdoor Invasion

President Obama’s rhetoric refuses to address the very real issue of terrorism on our borders and sleeper cells within the United States.

His disdain for our founding principals has become overtly apparent to a majority of Americans. A communist New World Order agenda appears to be playing out its final stages before our very eyes.

Now, thousands of illegals from Syria are being brought into the United States. A perfect cover for Al Qaeda and ISIS to infiltrate and activate the dormant islamic extremist terroristic cells nested and blatantly ignored by our government in the heartland of the United States.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Border Patrol Continues to Act as if Judge Hasn’t Blocked Obama’s Amnesty

While a federal judge’s injunction has halted the implementation of President Obama’s sweeping executive actions from November, it appears U.S. Customs and Border Protection never got the news.

According to CBP Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske, the relaxed border enforcement guidelines that accompanied Obama’s executive actions should continue apace, unaffected by the judge’s ruling.

In an email sent to CBP agents on Wednesday and later obtained by NRO, Kerlikowske conceded that the federal judge’s action meant agents “should not consider” Obama’s new and expanded deferred action guidelines when processing illegal immigrants.

But border protection and enforcement are apparently a different matter. Kerlikowske’s email expressed the belief that the judge’s decision has no impact on the border enforcement and protection directives issued at the same time as Obama’s executive actions by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and that those directives remain in force.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama to Seek Emergency Order Restarting Immigration Programs

The Obama administration will seek an emergency court order to move forward with President Obama’s executive action on immigration.

Officials at the Department of Justice (DOJ) plan to seek what is known as an emergency stay that would essentially undo a Texas-based federal judge’s injunction from earlier this week. If the stay is granted, the government could restart a pair of executive programs that will shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said DOJ will file for the stay by “Monday at the latest.”

The emergency stay had been sought by immigrant rights advocates, who want to get the programs up and running as soon as possible while the appeals process plays out.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Senate Democrats Choosing Illegal Immigrants Over Border Patrol Agents

Allow funding for the Department of Homeland Security to lapse or engage in the legislative process.

Those are the only two options Senate Democrats have at this point. Everything else transcribed in the press or recited by television pundits is nothing more than a distraction. Senate Democrats, of course, deny that binary choice, but their denials are only accepted by those who can’t — or won’t — understand the wonderfully complex rules of the United States Senate.

Before diving into the process, it is worth taking a minute to understand the politics.

The implication of the Democrat-led filibuster is that Homeland Security funding will lapse and our nation’s border patrol agents will have their paychecks withheld after Feb. 27. While those fine men and women continue to work without pay, the Department of Homeland Security will be preparing to grant legal status and work permits to those who are in the country illegally. To make matters worse, some of these individuals will use their newly issued Social Security numbers to claim four years’ worth of tax credits…

           — Hat tip: DS [Return to headlines]

5 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 2/21/2015


      Look carefully at the clothes the ringers wear: They are Kurds. They are muslim. In the past they had the same attitude towards infidels. But recently, as some shiite, they are at odds with some Arabs and ISIL. “thwe enemy of my enemy is my friend” applies for now. That’s the ploy played by western media and traitors to trick us. Typical.

      Showing us those rings does not change reality. We know today Israel and Iraqi Kurds are friends. Some of their aims meet.

      That does not change the realities of what muslims are doing to Jews in Israel, Europe all over the world, and also pressuring westerners to hate and vilify Jews. And some, many, obey.

      Can we forget or ignore what muslims are doing to Jews in Montreal, France, Britain, New York, and governments look the other. Take the easy way out.

      Yes, some muslims even ask for secularism in their countries because they are tired of shiite muslim strife. But they have no real weight. They can’t steer the ship. Boko Haram Hamas, ISIL, Alnusra, ISIS in Libya, Yemen, in Saini, are the movers and shakers. The “ring” could not stop the beheading of the 21 Coptic Christians in Libya, or stop Hamas from killing 4 year kids in kindergarten in Israel. Can they stop the 17 Peshmerga Kurdish fighters from being incinerated like the Jordanian pilot in a cage?

      One swallow does not make a summer.

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