Gates of Vienna News Feed 3/7/2015

In their latest assault on antiquity, community organizers for the Islamic State bulldozed another ancient city in Iraq. Their target this time was Hatra, which was founded by the Seleucid Empire in about the 3rd century B.C.

In other news, an Ohio man named Christopher Lee Cornell was arrested for planning a terror attack on Washington D.C. In a jailhouse interview, Mr. Cornell told a TV station that he had intended to shoot President Barack Obama in the head. Although he identified himself repeatedly as a Muslim, American citizens may rest easy knowing that the planned attack had nothing to do with Islam.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, DS, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, Papa Whiskey, 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
» Another Dubious Jobs Report Paul Craig Roberts
» Washington Strips New York Fed’s Power
» Why it Matters if the Dollar is the Reserve Currency
 
USA
» CIA Reshuffle Features ‘Mission Centers’, Cyber-Warfare to ‘Cover the Entire Universe’
» House Dems Vow to Protect Boehner From Conservative Coup
» In Marking 50th Anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday’ March in Selma, Obama Honors Civil Rights Heroes
» Ivory Tower Hypocrites of the Century: Rutgers Bans Condoleezza Rice But Welcomes Mariela Castro
» Man Sentenced to 30 Days in Jail for Showing up Early to Work
» Missions May Elevate Pluto, And Ceres, Dwarf Status
» Ohio Terrorism Suspect Says He Would Have Shot President Obama
» Released Gitmo Prisoners Return to Evil Ways: Report
» The ‘Islamophobia’ Scam Returns
» The New Civil Rights Leaders: Emerging Voices in the 21st Century
» U. California Students Remove Offensive American Flag From ‘Inclusive’ Space
» What’s Next for NASA’s Dawn Probe at Dwarf Planet Ceres?
 
Europe and the EU
» EU Sends UN Its Promise on Emissions Reduction
» Female Islamic State Recruiter Arrested at Barcelona Airport
» Former French Interior Minister Guéant Detained Over Sarkozy Libya Finance Allegations
» Greece: Geologist Claims Amphipolis Tomb Posterior to Main Burial Monument
» Is Something Going Terribly Wrong With British Justice?
» Islamist Sympathiser Launches ‘Muslim Manifesto’ In British Parliament
» Italy: Rome Police Unions Face 100,00 Euro Fine Over Action
» Italy: ‘Crimes Against Animals Fuel Criminal Interests’ Says WWF
» Italy: Eight Arrested in Two-Mn-Euro Insurance Scam
» Italy: Rome Police Nab Four on Suspicion of Real Estate Corruption
» Italy: Palermo Police Arrest Head of Chamber of Commerce
» Italy: IDI Bankruptcy ‘A Consequence of Plunder’ Investigators Say
» Italy: Senate Approves Bill Creating New ‘Eco-Crimes’
» Italy: Ex-Prison Chaplain Appeals Sexual Assault Conviction
» Italy: Naples Cops Nab Eight for Selling Tickets to Post Office
» Italy: Prosecutors Want Prison Time for Absentee Anesthesiologist
» Italy: Tosi Says May Quit League, Run Against Zaia in Veneto
» Italy: Soccer: FIGC, Lega A, Parma FC Offices Searched
» Patients in Sweden Paying for Ambulance Call-Outs
» Swedish Police Will Prevent the “Wrong” Opinions
» UK: Crown Prosecution Service’s Nazir Afzal Quits Despite Being Cleared of Improper Conduct
» UK: Corrupt Policewoman Who Tried to Blackmail Steven Gerrard is Jailed for 22 Months
» UK: How Cage’s Asim Qureshi Lives the Good Life in the Country He’s Trying to Destroy
» UK: Jihadi John Apologist Who Said Killer Was a ‘Beautiful Man’ Sparks New Outrage After Refusing to Condemn Stoning of Women
» UK: Waseem Zaffar Accused of Having Two Wives
 
North Africa
» Algeria: Sonatrach Announces Investments Worth 90 Bln Dollars
» Austrian Official: IS Attack on Oil Field in Libya Leaves 9 Foreign Workers ‘Unaccounted for’
» Operations Near Libya Risky, Says Frontex Chief
» Tunisia: Bribes Amount to 225 Mln Euro a Year
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» West Bank: From Beer to Wine, The ‘Vinfest’ of Taybeh
 
Middle East
» Gang-Raped Saudi Woman Sentenced to 200 Lashes, 6-Months in Jail
» ISIS Savagely Execute Two Spies and Publicly Flog a Man for Drinking Alcohol as Atrocities Continue in Syria
» Nusra Front Military Chief Killed in an Air Raid in Syria
» Organization of Islamic Cooperation Denounces Parkinlotism, Blames Islamic Terrorism on McCarthyism
» Reports: ISIS Bulldozed Ancient Hatra City in Mosul
» Saudi Court Sentences Gang Rape Victim to 200 Lashes and Custodial Sentence
» Saudis Dismiss Criticism of Blogger Lashes Sentence
» Some 28 Countries Said to Support Independent Kurdistan
 
Russia
» Britain Sends Ukraine Military Aid After Kiev Asks for Help With Basic Equipment
 
South Asia
» Six Killed in Gunmen Attack on Sufi Place of Worship in Kabul
 
Far East
» Ex-Crewman on Japanese Battleship Says He Recognizes Wreckage Found This Week
» Nine Hurt in China Station Knife Attack
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» African Union Blames US, UK, Norway for South Sudan Civil War
» Boko Haram Swears Formal Allegiance to ISIS
» Five Dead Including Frenchman and Belgian in Mali Restaurant Terror Attack
» Four Sentenced to Death Over Tanzania Albino Death
» Norway to Blame for South Sudan War: AU
 
Latin America
» Enel Investing Dlrs 220 Mln in Brazil Wind Plant
» Mexican Official: Troops Arrest 14 Federal Police Officers in Kidnapping of Border Businessman
 
Immigration
» German Couple Starts Website to Match Refugees With Potential Housemates
» Up to 1 Mln Migrants ‘Ready to Leave Libya’, Says Frontex
 
Culture Wars
» Perpetual Grievance
» Planet Fitness Bans Woman From Gym for Complaining About Transgender in Locker Room
» UK: Mother Became a Surrogate for Gay Son Who Was Desperate to Become a Father
 

Another Dubious Jobs Report Paul Craig Roberts

According to the payroll jobs report today (March 6) the economy created 295,000 new jobs in February, dropping the rate of unemployment to 5.5%. However, the BLS also reported that the labor force participation rate fell and the number of people not in the labor force rose by 354,000.

In other words, the unemployment rate dropped because the labor force shrunk.

If the economy was in recovery, the labor force would be growing and the labor force participation rate would be rising.

The 295,000 claimed new jobs are highly suspect. For example, the report claims 32,000 new retail jobs, but the Census Bureau reports that retail sales declined in December and January. Why would retailers experiencing declining sales hire more employees?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Washington Strips New York Fed’s Power

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, once the most feared banking regulator on Wall Street, has lost power in a behind-the-scenes reorganization at the nation’s central bank.

The Fed’s center of regulatory authority is now a little-known committee run by Fed governor Daniel Tarullo , which is calling the shots in oversight of banking titans such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc .

The new structure was enshrined in a previously undisclosed paper written in 2010 known as the Triangle Document. Under the new system, Washington is at the center of bank supervision, exercising control over the Fed’s 12 reserve banks, much as the State Department exerts control over embassies.

The power shift, initiated after the financial crisis and slowly put in place over the past five years, is more than a bureaucratic change. It influences how the biggest banks on Wall Street are overseen and has begun to affect regulation in unanticipated ways across the Fed system.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Why it Matters if the Dollar is the Reserve Currency

Today we are seeing the beginnings of a change. The Fed has been inflating the dollar massively, reducing its purchasing power and creating an opportunity for the world’s great trading nations to use other, better monies. This is important, because a loss of demand for holding the US dollar as a reserve currency would mean that trillions of dollars held overseas could flow back into the US, causing either inflation, recession, or both. For example, the US dollar global share of central bank holdings currently is 62 percent, mostly in the form of US Treasury debt. (Central banks hold interest-bearing Treasury debt rather than the dollars themselves.) Foreign holdings of US debt is currently $6.154 trillion. Compare this to the US monetary base of $3.839 trillion.

Should foreign demand to hold US dollar denominated assets diminish, the Treasury could fund their redemption in only three ways. One, the US could increase taxes in order to redeem its foreign held debt. Two, it could raise interest rates to refinance its foreign held debt. Or, three, it could simply print money. Of course, it could use all three to varying degrees. If the US refused to raise taxes or increase the interest rate and relied upon money printing (the most likely scenario, barring a complete repudiation of Keynesian doctrine and an embrace of Austrian economics), the monetary base would rise by the amount of the redemptions. For example, should demand to hold US dollar denominated assets fall by 50 percent ($3.077 trillion) the US monetary base would increase by 75 percent, which undoubtedly would lead to very high price inflation and dramatically hurt us here at home. Our standard of living is at stake here.

So we see that it is in the interest of many that the dollar remain in high demand around the world as a unit of trade settlement. It is necessary in order to prevent price inflation and to prevent American business from being saddled with increased costs that would come from being forced to settle their import/export accounts in a currency other than the dollar.

Threats To the Dollar as Reserve Currency

The causes of this threat to the dollar as a reserve currency are the policies of the Fed itself. There is no conspiracy to “attack” the dollar by other countries, in my opinion. There is, however, a rising realization by the rest of the world that the US is weakening the dollar through its ZIRP and QE programs. Consequently, other countries are aware that they may need to seek a better means of settling world trade accounts than using the US dollar. One factor that has helped the dollar retain its reserve currency demand in the short run, despite the Fed’s inflationist policies, is that the other currencies have been inflated, too.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

CIA Reshuffle Features ‘Mission Centers’, Cyber-Warfare to ‘Cover the Entire Universe’

The Central Intelligence Agency has announced a sweeping reorganization, introducing a new Directorate dedicated to cyber-espionage and establishing ten new cross-directorate ‘mission centers’.

The CIA’s new cyber-division will be called the Directorate of Digital Innovation. It joins the four existing Directorates: Support, Science and Technology, and Operations and Analysis, under the new organization plan. Analysis is reverting to its traditional name, having been renamed “Directorate of Intelligence” previously, while Operations used to be known as the “National Clandestine Service.”

Additionally, agency director John Brennan announced the establishment of ten new “mission centers,” gathering CIA officers from across different Directorates to concentrate on specific subjects, regions or targets.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

House Dems Vow to Protect Boehner From Conservative Coup

Tea Party Republicans contemplating a bid to oust Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) shouldn’t count on Democrats to help them unseat the Speaker.

And without their support, there is no chance to topple Boehner in this Congress.

A number of right-wing Republicans, long wary of Boehner’s commitment to GOP efforts attacking President Obama’s policy priorities, have openly considered a coup in an attempt to transfer the gavel into more conservative hands.

[Comment: Of course…he helps them push Obamas agenda.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

In Marking 50th Anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday’ March in Selma, Obama Honors Civil Rights Heroes

President Obama led the ceremony Saturday marking the 50th anniversary of the Selma, Ala. “Bloody Sunday” march, hailing the men and women who fought for civil rights in the 1960s, but declared that more work needs to be done for race relations in the United States.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

Ivory Tower Hypocrites of the Century: Rutgers Bans Condoleezza Rice But Welcomes Mariela Castro

By Carlos Eire

Okay, okay, this does it.

This bit of news pushes me over the edge.

Ka-boom! A billion megaton hydrogen bomb has just exploded inside me.

Rutgers University — a public school funded by taxpayers — has invited the daughter of Raul Castro to be the keynote speaker at a conference it is hosting.

Of course, the conference is on Mariela Castro’s totally bogus “expertise” on sexuality, especially of the non-heterosexual kind.

Yes, the very same kind of sexuality that her father and uncle identified as criminal and punished with imprisonment and torture in their concentration camps and dungeons.

This invitation is the ultimate in hypocrisy and sheer lunacy…

           — Hat tip: DS [Return to headlines]
 

Man Sentenced to 30 Days in Jail for Showing up Early to Work

A suburban Atlanta garbage collector has been incarcerated after being arrested for starting work too early.

The sanitation worker, Kevin McGill, was sentenced to 30 days in jail after being cited for simply picking up the trash shortly after 5 a.m., one time.

A Sandy Springs city ordinance only allows for the hauling of trash between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

McGill was shocked when prosecutor Bill Riley requested the maximum penalty for violating the ordinance.

According to ABC 7, McGill had only been on the job for three months.

To sentence this man to 30 days of being held hostage by the state for being early for work one day, seems patently unjust.

For his part prosecutor Riley has no remorse for putting an otherwise law-abiding civil servant simply attempting to do his job behind bars.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Missions May Elevate Pluto, And Ceres, Dwarf Status

by David A Weintraub

Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt, and NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will arrive at this dwarf planet on March 6, 2015.

Pluto is the largest object in the Kuiper belt, and NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will arrive at this dwarf planet on July 15, 2015.

Never before visited by human spacecraft, Ceres and Pluto, as we will soon bear witness, are both evolving, changing worlds. Yesterday, Ceres and Pluto were strangers, distant, barely known runt members of our solar system. By the end of this calendar year, however, we will have showered both objects with our passion and our attention, we will have welcomed them both into our embrace. And we almost certainly will once again call both of them planets.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

Ohio Terrorism Suspect Says He Would Have Shot President Obama

CINCINNATI — A man accused of plotting to attack the U.S. Capitol called a television station from jail and said if he hadn’t been arrested he would have gone to Washington and shot President Barack Obama in the head.

WXIX-TV in Cincinnati said Christopher Lee Cornell, 20, called the station from the Kentucky jail where he’s being held, confessed to being a supporter of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and said he planned to kill government officials in retaliation for U.S. strikes on the militant organization.

The station aired part of the interview Friday night, hours after Cornell’s attorney argued unsuccessfully in court that it could violate the defendant’s right to a fair trial.

Cornell, asked by the interviewer what he would have done had he not been arrested in January, said he would have taken one of his guns, “I would have put it to Obama’s head, I would have pulled the trigger, then I would unleash more bullets on the Senate and House of Representative members, and I would have attacked the Israeli embassy and various other buildings.”

Cornell, who repeatedly identified himself as Muslim, said he wanted to carry out the attack because of “the continued American aggression against our people and the fact that America, specifically President Obama, wants to wage war against Islamic State.”

He said: “They might say I’m a terrorist, but you know we see American troops as terrorists as well, coming to our land, stealing our resources and killing our people, raping our women.”

Cornell, 20, grew up in the Cincinnati suburbs and still lived with his parents. He said support for ISIS in the U.S. is widespread.

“We’re here in Ohio. We’re in every state,” he said. “We’re more organized than you think.”

At times what seemed like a nervous chuckle punctuated his responses. He said he would do whatever ISIS asked of him, including beheading Americans, and predicted “there will be many, many attacks.”…

[Return to headlines]
 

Released Gitmo Prisoners Return to Evil Ways: Report

By Geoff Earle

WASHINGTON — More than 100 prisoners released from Guantanamo Bay went right back to being terrorists when they got out, according to a new report.

Out of 647 detainees who were released, 116 — or 18 percent — have been confirmed as “re-engaging” in terrorism, according to the report by the Director of National Intelligence.

Of those, 25 are dead and 23 are back behind bars.

Another 11 percent of those released are “suspected” of re-engaging in their jihadi ways, according to the annual summary that is required by Congress.

The trend is likely to continue, even as President Obama works to clear out the prison he has vowed to close.

The report predicts that prisoners still in custody will follow a similar path when they get out.

[The name of the game is “Hold ‘Em,” not “Catch-and-Release.” — PW]

           — Hat tip: Papa Whiskey [Return to headlines]
 

The ‘Islamophobia’ Scam Returns

By Robert Spencer

In recent weeks, the terror group calling itself the Islamic State (aka ISIS and ISIL) has beheaded journalists and social workers, burned a pilot alive, and forced hundreds of captive women into sex slavery — all while citing Islamic texts to justify their actions and appeal for new recruits. A Muslim in the latest Islamic State beheading video cited two Qur’an verses (8:12 and 47:4) to refute “those who say [beheading] is cruel.” In New York Wednesday, a Muslim was found guilty of plotting to bomb the New York subway system. The previous day in London, a woman from Nigeria pleaded for asylum, as she faces certain death if she returns to her homeland: an Islamic court has sentenced her to die for being a lesbian.

All this and a great deal more like it — a daily horror show of jihad attacks and plots, boasts of coming catastrophic attacks in the West, declarations of imminent conquest, and more, all carried out by people claiming to represent the truest and purest form of Islam — is why, according to a poll released last summer, only twenty-seven percent of Americans have a favorable view of Muslims. Yet as far as the hard-Left Center for American Progress (CAP) is concerned, people aren’t suspicious of Muslims and Islam because of jihad terror and Islamic supremacism, but because of “the efforts of a small cadre of funders and misinformation experts” which were “amplified by an echo chamber of the religious right, conservative media, grassroots organizations, and politicians who sought to introduce a fringe perspective on American Muslims into the public discourse.”

[…]

It wasn’t accidental that Hitler’s Reich had an entire Ministry of Propaganda: lying to the public is a major job, as the cleverest of propaganda constructs is always threatened by the simple facts. CAP is trying to compel non-Muslims to disregard what they see every day — Muslims committing violence against non-Muslims and justifying it by referring to Islamic texts — and instead embrace a fictional construct: Islam is the religion of peace and tolerance. This takes a relentless barrage of propaganda, and “Fear, Inc. 2.0” is just the latest in a steady stream from CAP and its allies, which are exponentially wealthier and better-funded than the groups CAP vilifies in this report.

[“Shut up!” they explained. — PW]

           — Hat tip: Papa Whiskey [Return to headlines]
 

The New Civil Rights Leaders: Emerging Voices in the 21st Century

Some of the concerns are old — voting rights, police misconduct, racial profiling. Others — such as trans rights and access to technology — are more recent. Much in the spirit of activists who pushed for civil rights a half century ago, a new generation is fighting battles old and new. A sampling of these emerging leaders across the country:

[…]

Executive director and co-founder, Council on American-Islamic Relations

Age: 53

Washington, D.C.

CAIR is the nation’s most prominent Islamic advocacy organization, making Awad, its leader, one of America’s foremost Muslim voices in the years since the Sept. 11 attacks.

[…]

“I’m outraged as an American citizen that my government, after decades of civil rights struggle, still spies on political activists and civil right activists and leaders,” Awad told the Intercept, the news organization that broke the story. “I’m really angry that despite all the work that we have been doing in our communities to serve the nation, we are treated with suspicion.”

[I’m outraged that after decades of bloody jihad attacks on Americans both here and overseas, the mewling of these creatures is still treated with respect. CAIR is a snivel-rights organization. — PW]

           — Hat tip: Papa Whiskey [Return to headlines]
 

U. California Students Remove Offensive American Flag From ‘Inclusive’ Space

The Associated Students of University of California, Irvine (ASUCI) voted Tuesday to remove all flags, including American flags, from an inclusive space on campus because of their offensive nature.

The bill, R50-70, was authored by Social Ecology Representative Matthew Guevara, and accuses all flags, especially, the American flag, of being “symbols of patriotism or weapons for nationalism.”

“[F]lags construct paradigms of conformity and sets [sic] homogenized standards for others to obtain which in this country typically are idolized as freedom, equality, and democracy.”

“[F]lags construct paradigms of conformity and sets [sic] homogenized standards for others to obtain which in this country typically are idolized as freedom, equality, and democracy,” the bill reads.

The legislation argues that flags may be interpreted differently; the American flag, for example, can represent “American exceptionalism and superiority,” as well as oppression.

“[T]he American flag has been flown in instances of colonialism and imperialism,” the bill continues, arguing that “symbolism has negative and positive aspects that are interpreted differently by individuals.”

The anti-flag hanging bill adds that free speech, such as flags in inclusive spaces, can be interpreted as hate speech.

“[F]reedom of speech, in a space that aims to be as inclusive as possible[,] can be interpreted as hate speech,” the bill reads.

[To paraphrase Wordsworth: “Orwell! Thou shouldst be living at this hour.” — PW]

           — Hat tip: Papa Whiskey [Return to headlines]
 

What’s Next for NASA’s Dawn Probe at Dwarf Planet Ceres?

NASA’s Dawn probe has begun orbiting Ceres, but the spacecraft still has some traveling to do before it starts taking the dwarf planet’s measure.

Dawn will perform this work through June 30, 2016, from a series of four science orbits that will be successively closer to the dwarf planet. The final orbit, which Dawn should reach this December, will take the probe within just 230 miles (370 km) of Ceres’ cratered surface.

“By the time we finish in mid-2016, we’re going to know Ceres in exquisite detail,” Dawn Deputy Principal Investigator Carol Raymond, also of JPL, said during Friday’s news conference. “We’re going to understand why it has very, very bright spots — which are unique to any body in the solar system that has been explored thus far — and we’re going to understand what Ceres means in terms of a building block for planets in our solar system.”

Ceres is also interesting astrobiologically: The dwarf planet probably once had a subsurface ocean, which may have been capable of supporting life as we know it, Raymond said. (Some researchers, in fact, think Ceres might still harbor some underground liquid water.)

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

EU Sends UN Its Promise on Emissions Reduction

The EU on Friday became the second, after Switzerland, to have submitted to the UN’s climate body a text outlining its intended contribution to greenhouse gas emissions reduction, after environment ministers in Brussels gave the green light.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

Female Islamic State Recruiter Arrested at Barcelona Airport

A Moroccan woman was arrested at a Spanish airport Saturday on suspicion of recruiting European and North African women to join the Islamic State group, authorities said.

The suspect, named as Samira Yerou, was sent to Spain by Turkish authorities after they caught her trying to illegally enter Syria, Spain’s interior ministry said. Spain had issued an international arrest warrant for the woman.

Spanish authorities, who believe Yerou was seeking to meet up with IS, took her into custody after she flew into Barcelona-El Prat Airport.

Yerou “could have played an important role in recruiting and sending of women sympathisers of the terrorist group in Europe and Morocco,” the ministry said…

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

Former French Interior Minister Guéant Detained Over Sarkozy Libya Finance Allegations

Former French interior minister Claude Guéant was taken into custody on Friday in connection with the alleged financing by Moamer Kadhafi’s Libya of Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential election campaign.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

Greece: Geologist Claims Amphipolis Tomb Posterior to Main Burial Monument

A geologist who took part in the excavation of the ancient burial mound in Amphipolis in northern Greece says the ancient tomb found together with a series of vaulted rooms wasn’t built at the same time, but somewhat later than the rooms themselves.

Geologist Evangelos Kambouroglou also said Saturday that the mound inside which the rooms and the tomb were found is not man-made, but a natural hill.

The vaulted rooms had been dated to between 325 B.C. — two years before the death of ancient Greek warrior-king Alexander the Great — and 300 B.C., although some archaeologists had claimed a later date. Kambouroglou’s announcement casts doubt on the theory that the five bodies found in the tomb could belong to members of Alexander’s family.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

Is Something Going Terribly Wrong With British Justice?

DJ Paul Gambaccini spent a YEAR on bail when case against him was groundless. So much for ‘innocent until proved guilty!’

During the 12 long months that broadcaster Paul Gambaccini stood accused of sexual offences against two teenage boys, the emotion he felt most often was one of extreme anger.

Anger that his reputation had been besmirched by allegations he knew to be baseless. Anger that he had been banned from contact with his young nieces, nephews and godchildren. Anger at the £200,000 he saw draining from his bank account as work dried up and he fought to clear his name.

But most of all his anger was directed at the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for dragging out his suffering month after month, despite what he describes as the ‘completely fictitious’ case against him…

‘I was also told my accuser had been expelled from school for making a false sexual allegation and, now that the police were asking people to accuse celebrities of sex crimes, he had returned to that kind of behaviour.’

Why would he do such a thing? ‘A man in the street is known to the people he has met in his life,’ he said. ‘A celebrity is known to the people he has met in his life and millions of others.

‘A few have fantasies. Some have grudges. Who knows? The point is that when you open a website and a phone line, as the police did, for the dedicated purpose of accusing celebrities, you are going to get some people who are responding to the offer of money and attention.

‘Now, when you say “money”, what are you talking about? The Government posted the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 2012 on the web in late 2012.

‘It is a tariff of at least 200 injuries with specified sums for what you get if you accuse people. All you have to do is say: “Well, gee, £22,000 for this if I accuse Paul.” And there is the disturbing line: Conviction is not required for payment.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Islamist Sympathiser Launches ‘Muslim Manifesto’ In British Parliament

A known Islamist has appeared in Parliament to present a ‘Muslim Manifesto’ ahead of the general election. Azad Ali, who has previously spoken of his “love” for al-Qaeda terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki, received a warm reception from the audience which included a number of Labour MPs and former cabinet minister Baroness Warsi. (h/t Guido Fawkes)

The manifesto has been put together by the Institute for Muslim Community Development, as a “call-to-action” for parliamentarians, “pinpointing key issues of high importance to the Muslim community.” According to their website, it was assembled through consultation with “grass roots members, community leaders, religious leaders, social activists, academics, thinkers and politicians.”

The list of 33 points is comprehensive, but amongst other things, the manifesto calls on members of parliament to “Support efforts to accurately remember Muslim and non-Muslim histories including oppressive and genocidal actions against Muslim peoples by British and European peoples”; “Celebrate and support Muslim heritage and cultural institutions”; “Eliminate the root causes of institutional discrimination against Muslims and introduce tougher legislation to prevent it”; “Introduce more robust legislation to curb media hate campaigns against Muslims” and “Acknowledge that the holy scripture of Muslims (the Qur’an) does not endorse terrorism and the murder of innocents.”

[In fine, Brits must acknowledge Muslims’ default moral superiority, keep their traps shut, and grovel at Muslims’ feet. “That England, which was wont to conquer others, hath made a shameful conquest of itself.” — PW]

           — Hat tip: Papa Whiskey [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: Rome Police Unions Face 100,00 Euro Fine Over Action

Strike authority approves sanction

(ANSA) — Rome, March 3 — Unions representing Rome police officers will likely be fined 100,000 euros over job action, the authority that oversees strikes in essential services in Italy said Tuesday as it authorized the fine.

The city says about 85% of officers called in sick on New Year’s Eve in an illegal form of protest.

Police unions have been ramping up job action for months in protest over cutbacks and working conditions, including a national municipal police strike and Rome rally last month with more than 10,000 officers taking part.

Other trade union organizations stayed out of the action, suggesting the timing of the police protests was not well chosen.

“It is unacceptable that a worker should use battle instruments not contemplated by the unions that create problems for all public employees while we are discussing public administration reform,” Rossana Dettori, secretary-general of the public-sector branch of the CGIL, said last month during the national strike.

Civil Service Minister Marianna Madia has said that protests by Rome police, including the alleged mass absenteeism on New Year’s Eve, would be used in framing new rules for Italy’s public administration — particularly concerning mass and reiterated abstention from work, including “concrete disciplinary measures”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: ‘Crimes Against Animals Fuel Criminal Interests’ Says WWF

On second UN World Wildlife Day

(ANSA) — Rome, March 3 — The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said Tuesday crimes against nature — such as poaching and deforestation — put hundreds of species at risk, including in Italy.

The environmentalist organization issued its statement on the second annual World Wildlife Day, declared by the United Nations on March 3 to coincide with the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

The WWF has so far gathered 55,000 signatures on a petition to make the killing of protected wildlife a crime, and not just a violation punishable with a fine. Crimes against wildlife make up 22% of environmental crimes, the organization said.

Species at risk in Italy include wolves — with an estimated 300 killed every year — bears, eagles and sea turtles.

“Protected species, like the environment and biodiversity, are an asset and a resource belonging to the community as a whole,” said Isabella Pratesi, conservation director of WWF Italy.

“Crimes against nature are worth yearly turnover of 213 billion dollars and are a business that feeds criminal systems,” she added.

“Putting a stop to this animal slaughter must be made a priority objective of all government agendas”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: Eight Arrested in Two-Mn-Euro Insurance Scam

Suspects faked car accidents to collect insurance payouts

(ANSA) — Taranto, March 2 — Eight people were arrested Monday on suspicion of racketeering in an insurance scam that investigators say defrauded 18 auto insurance companies of more than two million euros.

Seven suspects were placed under house arrest and the eighth went to jail.

Some 150 people are being probed in the case, including a doctor and two lawyers. According to investigators, participants in the scam simulated car accidents in order to defraud the auto insurance companies.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: Rome Police Nab Four on Suspicion of Real Estate Corruption

Police officer, two city employees and a real estate developer

(ANSA) — Rome, March 2 — Rome finance police on Monday arrested four people on suspicion of taking bribes in exchange for turning a blind eye to illegal construction, sources said.

The suspects include a city cop, two city officials, and a real estate developer as part of the so-called Vitruvio operation that has led to 39 arrests and the seizure of assets worth 800,000 euros since the beginning of the year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: Palermo Police Arrest Head of Chamber of Commerce

Allege Roberto Helg involved in extortion scandal

(ANSA) — Palermo, March 3 — Police in Palermo said Tuesday they had arrested the president of the city’s Chamber of Commerce.

Roberto Helg is also head of the airport management authority Gesap.

Police said Helg was arrested Monday in connection with an alleged bribe of 100,000 euros from a catering company leasing space at the Palermo airport.

Investigators allege extortion which they say went on for several months involving the extension of contracts for retail space at the airport.

They say they followed the money trail and have interviewed Helg.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: IDI Bankruptcy ‘A Consequence of Plunder’ Investigators Say

A priest, two execs behind bars as likely main suspects

(ANSA) — Rome, March 3 — Investigators on Tuesday concluded a probe into the multi-million-euro crack-up of a religious body that ran a Rome hospital and two clinics.

Some 40 people will likely be indicted on 144 counts of bankruptcy fraud, money laundering and embezzlement in what prosecutors said was the 2007-2012 “despoiling” of the religious entity, called the Italian Province of the Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Conception (Picfic).

In Rome, Picfic runs the Dermopathic Institute of the Immaculate (IDI), the 250-bed San Carlo di Nancy hospital, and the Villa Paola clinic, among others. The three main suspects — all of whom were arrested in April 2013 — are IDI board member Father Franco Decaminada, former IDI executive Domenico Temperini, and his former advisor Antonio Nicolella.

Complaints by IDI employees that they were not getting their paychecks sparked the probe, which led to the seizure of six million euros in assets from Decaminada and Temperini.

Finance police discovered IDI was 845 million euros in the red and 450 million euros in tax evasion while 82 million euros had been diverted and six million euros in public funds embezzled.

Picfic declared bankruptcy and went into receivership in May 2013.

The crack-up was “a direct consequence of repeated plundering behaviors”, investigators said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: Senate Approves Bill Creating New ‘Eco-Crimes’

Legislation returns to Lower House for final approval

(ANSA) — Rome, March 4 — A series of new environmental crimes are closer to becoming law in Italy after the Senate on Wednesday approved an establishing bill.

The bill, which must now return to the Lower House for its third reading, creates new crimes regarding environmental pollution and disasters.

As well, it establishes culpable felonies against the environment, trafficking and abandoning radioactive material, and the crime of impeding environmental controls. Several high-profile environmental scandals have made headlines in Italy in recent years, including problems linked to the so-called ‘ecomafia’, responsible for the illegal burial and burning of toxic waste in the so-called Land of Fire’s area of Campania around Caserta. The new legislation “responds to the great need for justice and environmental protection from all over our country,” said Senate Speaker Pietro Grasso, a former anti-mafia magistrate.

He added the measures should help to ease “the pain” of many Italians particularly those connected to the Land of Fire. Other cases have related to polluting industries and companies blamed for creating toxic conditions that have contributed to the deaths of workers. “This bill is a positive starting point for the punishment of environmental crimes,” said Senator Felice Casson of the Democratic Party (PD).

Justice Minister Andrea Orlando said the bill was a “response to the many injuries that have hit our country in the environmental realm”.

The number of environmental problems created by industry in Italy has threatened to mar the country’s international stature and reputation as a beautiful destination for visitors from around the world.

The Eternit case involving hundreds of workers’ deaths by asbestos poisoning was cited by politicians as giving extra impetus to the new measures.

Orlando said the bill provides “the best policy response to a case such as that Eternit because it redefines the offenses”.

Prosecutors in Turin less than two weeks ago called for a new trial for the former owner of Eternit, Stephan Schmidheiny, after charges against him in connection with the asbestos-related deaths of 263 people had “timed out even before the trial had started”, Italy’s highest appeals court said in releasing its decisions for a ruling last November.

Schmidheiny had been charged with failing to provide adequate safety measures at four Eternit plants in Italy, charges he has denied.

Another high-profile case of environmental damage involves Europe’s largest steel plant, ILVA, located in the southern port city of Taranto where it has employed some 20,000 people and been blamed for decades of health and environmental degradation.

Earlier this week a decree rescued the insolvent ILVA plant — parts of which were seized more than two years ago by judges to cover some of the costs of cleaning it up and meeting damage claims related to high levels of cancer in the area.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: Ex-Prison Chaplain Appeals Sexual Assault Conviction

Father Alberto Barin ‘extorted sex for cigarettes’

(ANSA) — Milan, March 4 — Milan prosecutors on Wednesday requested a term of seven years four months for Father Alberto Barin, a former prison chaplain convicted of extorting sexual favors from prisoners in exchange for cigarettes and other highly coveted items.

The 53-year-old prelate is appealing his conviction.

Barin was arrested in November 2012 on aggravated sexual assault charges involving 12 North African detainees aged 23-43.

Prosecutors at his trial of first instance asked for 14 years eight months but the judge sentenced the priest to four years.

Barin, who is under house arrest in a convent, has defended himself by saying his conduct involved consensual acts between adults.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: Naples Cops Nab Eight for Selling Tickets to Post Office

Seize 28.50 euros in ‘ill-gotten gain’

(ANSA) — Naples, March 4 — Carabinieri police on Wednesday nabbed eight suspects and seized 28.50 euros in what they said were ill-gotten gains at post offices in four Naples neighborhoods.

The suspects allegedly sold numbered tickets to people so they could jump the lines, which are notoriously long in Italian post offices. The suspects were caught red-handed during patrols on the day pensions are paid out, when the elderly are often targeted by robbers on their way out of the post office.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: Prosecutors Want Prison Time for Absentee Anesthesiologist

Skipped 145 days of work in 2013, got paid anyway

(ANSA) — Milan, March 4 — Milan prosecutors on Wednesday requested prison time for a chief anesthesiologist who skipped 145 days of work in 2013.

The prosecution says Giorgio Barzoi was paid over 30,000 euros for work he never did. The chief anesthesiologist at Milan’s Fatebenefratelli hospital would stamp his time card and then leave for the day.

His collegue and co-defendant Roberta Truveri faces a possible sentence of six months behind bars for allegedly covering up his truancy. The pair face charges of defrauding the hospital.

Barzoi told the court a doctor’s worth cannot be judged based on how many times he stamps his time card.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: Tosi Says May Quit League, Run Against Zaia in Veneto

Verona mayor at odds with party leadership

(ANSA) — Rome, March 6 — Verona Mayor Flavio Tosi said Friday that he may quit the Northern League and run against the party’s official candidate, Governor Luca Zaia, in upcoming regional elections in Veneto. “If the (league) federal council does not take a step back I may resign and free everyone,” Tosi told Radio24. “Then I’d be able to run to be governor”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Italy: Soccer: FIGC, Lega A, Parma FC Offices Searched

Labour consultancy also searched, documents seized

(ANSA) — Rome, March 6 — Italian tax police on Friday searched the offices of Parma FC, the Italian Soccer Federation (FIGC) in Rome, and the Lega Serie A in Milan ahead of a pre-bankruptcy hearing involving the cash-strapped Serie A club.

A labour consultancy office in Parma was also searched. Documents were seized in the raids. Earlier a Parma ground safety agency said Sunday’s home game against Atalanta could go ahead. The whole Serie A season could be compromised unless the bottom club’s games continue.

On Thursday former Parma chairman Tommaso Ghirardi was placed under investigation for fraudulent bankruptcy.

Also on Thursday, Sky Italia TV warned Serie A that it must solve the Parma crisis, adding that the clubs had the money to do so after the payment of the latest installment of the satellite broadcaster’s cash for TV rights. Bottom side Parma’s away game at Genoa was postponed last weekend, as was their home game the week before against Udinese, because of their financial plight.

But FIGC chief Carlo Tavecchio said Wednesday he and Parma Mayor Federico Pizzarotti had framed a plan to allow Sunday’s home game with Atalanta to go ahead.

Pizzarotti said there was “a 50% chance” of the match being played. The news came two days after Giovanni Malago’, the head of Italian Olympic Committee CONI, blasted the buck-passing on Parma and said the authorities were ready to intervene.

If Parma are unable to complete the championship it will cause chaos for Italian football.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Patients in Sweden Paying for Ambulance Call-Outs

Several county and regional councils are charging patients for the use of an ambulance. Criticism has been fierce.

Norrbotten, in the north of Sweden, is the latest county health authority to charge patients for ambulance services. From May, it will charge a fee of SEK 200, that’s in addition to the SEK 300 that one pays for a hospital visit. Swedish Radio’s local channel in Norrbotten asked tax payers if they agreed or disagreed with the fee. Most were critical.

“It will mean that some will go by taxi or take their own car or not even seek care,” said one.

“One cannot help becoming ill and we already pay taxes. I understand that it has become more expensive for medical care but even so, I don’t like it,” said another person in Norrbotten.

Nine counties or regions in Sweden are charging for ambulance services, and the cost varies from SEK 150 to SEK 400. Acute patients go free, reports Swedish Radio News.

More than half of the county councils in Sweden do not charge for ambulance services.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

Swedish Police Will Prevent the “Wrong” Opinions

In a recent article in Dagens Nyheter the newly appointed head of police, Dan Eliasson, explains that three new police units have been formed to “prevent crimes that threaten the open society” and will work to combat “the marshlands of the internet”, where people host opinions that are not in line with “everyones equal value”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

UK: Crown Prosecution Service’s Nazir Afzal Quits Despite Being Cleared of Improper Conduct

Nazir Afzal, who led the Crown Prosecution Service in North West England, was exonerated by an internal inquiry, but nevertheless handed in his resignation.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

UK: Corrupt Policewoman Who Tried to Blackmail Steven Gerrard is Jailed for 22 Months

A corrupt policewoman who seized CCTV of a street fight in an attempt to blackmail footballer Steven Gerrard was jailed for 22 months today.

Helen Jones, 32, a former Pc with Merseyside Police, took the footage by ‘flashing her warrant card’ to the manageress of a bank which was intended to be used to extort money from the Liverpool star.

The film showed friends of Gerrard, the then-England captain, involved in a bar brawl near his home in Formby, Merseyside, which spilled out on to the street

Local businessman Paul Lloyd, 35, claimed the midfielder ‘threw the first punch’ but, at an earlier hearing, prosecutors said the Liverpool midfielder was acting as a peacemaker on the evening of August 4 2013.

Jailing her today Judge Baker told the defendant: ‘This was deliberate and calculated misconduct in a public office.

‘You deliberately created a false impression in the mind of the bank manager that you were investigating a criminal offence.

‘In fact you were on a mission to obtain that matter so that you could put it either directly or through an intermediary, who would use it for his own ends, which were nothing whatsover to do with a criminal investigation.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

UK: How Cage’s Asim Qureshi Lives the Good Life in the Country He’s Trying to Destroy

Asim Qureshi, chief mouthpiece for Muslim ‘human rights’ group Cage, introduced himself in that now infamous press conference last week after Jihadi John was finally identified.

The grand residence, complete with picturesque porch, gable and verandah, is situated on an exclusive private development in the Surrey suburbs.

You arrive at the £700,000 property, set over three stunning floors, via a tree-lined avenue in immaculate contoured grounds that include tennis courts, nature trails and cycle paths.

This affluent enclave on the outskirts of London could be a film set or a location for a designer fashion shoot. It is here — in the splendour of the aforementioned house (the biggest and most expensive in the close) — that Asim Qureshi leads a very middle-class existence.

Bearded Qureshi, chief mouthpiece for Muslim ‘human rights’ group Cage, introduced himself and his poisonous organisation to the world in that now infamous press conference last week after Jihadi John, the butcher who beheaded Western hostages, was finally identified as Mohammed Emwazi from West London.

Cage research director Qureshi, who has advocated the creation of a medieval Islamic Caliphate in the UK, defended the IS executioner, calling him a ‘beautiful, gentle young man’.

But the gap between the rhetoric and the reality of his privileged lifestyle, which allows him to luxuriate in the trappings of infidel decadence, might surprise even Qureshi’s most fanatical supporters.

Qureshi married into money. Wife Samira — born in Britain to Pakistani parents — is from the fabulously wealthy Ahmed dynasty. The Ahmeds ran a cash-and-carry empire in South Wales, supplying restaurants and takeaways from Cardiff to Swansea. The business had a turnover in excess of £100 million when it was sold last year.

In 2009, Samira’s brother Zahier, with a personal fortune then estimated at £5 million, made it on to The Sunday Times Young Rich List featuring the 100 most moneyed people in the country under the age of 30 (Princes William and Harry were also listed).

Asim Qureshi, who has two young sons, has benefited from this gilded family connection. The marital home was purchased by his wife (and sister-in-law); it is in their names, not his. The sisters own a second house, worth just under £500,000, a few miles away.

In 2009, Samira’s brother Zahier, with a personal fortune then estimated at £5 million, made it on to The Sunday Times Young Rich List featuring the 100 most moneyed people in the country under the age of 30 (Princes William and Harry were also listed).

Asim Qureshi, who has two young sons, has benefited from this gilded family connection. The marital home was purchased by his wife (and sister-in-law); it is in their names, not his. The sisters own a second house, worth just under £500,000, a few miles away

Their late father Bashir, who founded the cash-and-carry enterprise after arriving on these shores from Pakistan with just £5 in his pocket more than 40 years ago, epitomised the vast majority of decent, hard-working Muslims who have contributed so much to the nation. But the opposite is true of Qureshi and Cage.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

UK: Jihadi John Apologist Who Said Killer Was a ‘Beautiful Man’ Sparks New Outrage After Refusing to Condemn Stoning of Women

The leader of the Muslim group who defended ISIS executioner Mohammed Emwazi has sparked further outrage after he refused to condemn the stoning women.

Asim Qureshi, the director of Cage, was last night quizzed about extremist positions advocated by Muslim scholars — including female genital mutilation, domestic violence and stoning as a punishment for adultery.

But Mr Qureshi, appearing on the BBC’s This Week programme, failed to speak out against the practices — while also defending the right of Muslims to wage jihad.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

UK: Waseem Zaffar Accused of Having Two Wives

Councillor Waseem Zaffar has said he is committed to fighting gender inequality but the politician and magistrate married teacher Ayesha Imdad last year without having formally divorced his first wife.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Algeria: Sonatrach Announces Investments Worth 90 Bln Dollars

Thousands of new jobs in 2015-1019 period

(by Diego Minuti) (ANSAmed) — ROME, MARCH 2 — Although the energy sector (with oil prices plunging over the past few months with barrel prices almost halved) is suffering a condition of instability that paves the way to uncertainty, Algerian giant Sonatrach has decided to invest in a huge plan worth 90 billion and 600,000 dollars in 2015-2019 according to today’s currency value.

A huge injection of resources that seems to give responses outside Algeria (almost reassuring foreign partners over the line of the State company) and on the domestic front where protests are ongoing (also with thousands taking to the street) against the exploitation of shale in connection with fears for its negative impact on the environment.

Such protests, which included moments of great tension for “contacts” between demonstrators and police, occurred mostly in the south, where shale should be extracted — and reached the capital in sign of solidarity with those opposing the drilling activities.

The five-year plan, as reported by Aps, was made in Orano by president and interim CEO of Sonatrach, Said Sahnoun, who chose the 44th anniversary of the nationalization of the hydrocarbon sector that marked the awaited conclusion of the colonial era, in the energy sector as well.

Sahnoun said that “these investments will enable Sonatrach to intensify efforts of exploration to consolidate its reserves with particular interest in hydrocarbon prospecting in the north of the country, in offshore and non-conventional resources”.

Research activities will be intensified in the five-year period over an area of 26 square km a year, with 120 wells forecast for each year.

Among Sonatrach’s objectives is the support of small and medium-sized companies whose activities can be connected with the oil sector.

Sonatrach appears to have an optimistic view of its medium and long-term future with a plan expected to create thousands of new jobs.

By 2015, 8,000 young people are expected to find a job, in a new response, also in social terms, to the State’s mission in the energy sector.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Austrian Official: IS Attack on Oil Field in Libya Leaves 9 Foreign Workers ‘Unaccounted for’

An Austrian Foreign Ministry official says fighters from the Islamic State group have attacked an oil field in Libya and nine foreign workers are unaccounted for.

Ministry spokesman said Saturday that several security personnel were killed in Friday afternoon’s attack at the site in Al Ghani, south of Sirte.

Weiss says security teams retook the site but nine foreign workers are unaccounted for including one Austrian, one Czech and the seven others, who are non-EU citizens.

No demands have been made by any group or individual for their return.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

Operations Near Libya Risky, Says Frontex Chief

Agency coordinates Triton operation

(ANSA) — Brussels, March 6 — Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri admitted Friday that migrant operations near the Libya coast were risky after cases of human traffickers threatening Italian coast guard vessels. “The Italian authorities have taken steps to reinforce security and mitigate the risk,” Leggeri told ANSA. “I can’t go into specifics because its sensitive information. “We had an exchange of opinions on this with the EU member States. But that doesn’t mean where won’t be incidents tomorrow.

There is a risk near to the Libyan coast”. Frontex coordinates the EU’s Triton operation in the southern Mediterranean, which replaced Italy’s better-funded Mare Nostrum migrant-search-and-rescue programme last year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Tunisia: Bribes Amount to 225 Mln Euro a Year

27% of Tunisians admit to paying off officials

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, March 5 — 27% of Tunisians admit to having paid bribes to government officials in the past year while 43% think that payments are necessary to be eligible for some services, a phenomenon which amounts to 225 million euro per year, a study by the Tunisian Associated of Public Controllers and Emnrod Consulting reported.

According to people interviewed in the study, administrative officials are responsible for this relentlessly propagating phenomenon and has developed into a tolerated sociocultural fatality that the citizen. The study reported that 77% of respondents estimates that petty corruption has not stopped rising in recent years and 89% considers that the lack of political to fight the phenomenon is one of the causes of its proliferation. 81% of those interview considers that the weak framework is one of the main causes of corruption, also 75% estimates that petty corruption is the cause of crime and terrorism, while 74% acknowledges that it also affects the loss of purchasing power of citizens.

Despite the intrusive presence of the bribery phenomenon in Tunisian society, 84% of respondents do not denounce small incidents of corruption, as if internalizing them as part of normal behavior in state-citizen relations.

Minor corruption, the study cited, referred to modest exchanges of 5 or 10 Tunisian dinars (approximately five euros at most), but precisely because of their endemic spread, it amounts to total considerable figures comparable to those of the so-called “large corruption “, and thus weigh on the proper functioning of public services.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

West Bank: From Beer to Wine, The ‘Vinfest’ of Taybeh

A festival to present high-quality wines

(by Michele Monni) (ANSAmed) — RAMALLAH, MARCH 2 — From beer to wine, the small town of Taybeh, in the occupied Palestinian Territories, re-opens to tourists and connoisseurs. But this time, the occasion is provided by its famous beer — produced in the first and only brewery in the Middle East — to present to the public ‘Nadim’, a new series of high-quality wines. The initiative is called ‘Vinfest’ and follows the lines of traditional wine festivals mixing music, culture and, naturally, a glass of red.

“We should invest on this to make Palestine a competitive country that attracts investments”, Nadim Khouri, co-owner and creator of the festival, told ANSA. “Unfortunately, until Israeli occupation will prevent this, we can only get ready for that moment”.

Khouri has been producing since 1994 three different qualities of beer — lager, dark and amber — named after the Christian town of Taybeh and has successfully conquered a good size of the Palestinian market, as well as exported to Israel and Europe.

The grapes harvested in the villages of Taybeh, Aboud and Birzeit (where one of the most important Palestinian universities is based) are Merlot, Cabernet and Syrah and, since last November, are already sold at many Palestinian liqueur stores and restaurants (those that serve wine). ‘Nadim’ is the name of the owner but also means in Arabic ‘drinking companion’ and has a strong connection with traditional Arab music: in particular, with legendary Egyptian artist Ummm Kulthum who, in her famous song, ‘Al-atlal’, sings about “Nadim”. But in Taybeh’s cellars are not only the aspirations and passions of Nadim and his wife Maria. A key role is played by son Canaan who — after graduating from Harvard University — is taking control of the family business and has already started experimenting, with local farmers, a Palestinian version of the Sauvignon Blanc to be presented in the spring.

Italy is also present with wine-making machinery. “Italy sets the example in wines. We hope one day to be able to sell our products there”, said Maria.

Vinfest opened on February 27 at the Taybeh Golden hotel with the participation of local musicians, including the Mina Band and the jazz music of Joseph Dugmaq, who teaches saxophone at the Edward Said school of music in Ramallah. The work of leading Palestinian set designers, Nabil Anani and Tyser Barkat will also be on display. Art, music and good wine appear to be the successful ingredients for the new adventure of the Khouri family and the small Christian town of Taybeh.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Gang-Raped Saudi Woman Sentenced to 200 Lashes, 6-Months in Jail

A 28 year old Saudi woman has been sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in jail for indecency and speaking out to media about her subjection to a gang rape in 2006, Iranian PressTV reported Saturday.

The woman was, back in 2006, driven to a secluded area after entering the car of a student friend when she was 19 years old. There, she was raped by seven men, according to the report.

According to Saudi legislation, women must at all times be accompanied by a male family member in public. The victim was initially sentenced in court to 90 lashes for not adhering to this law; Her rapists were sentenced to five years in prison.

The sentence was appealed by the victim’s lawyer. Yet instead of mitigating her sentence, the courts worsened it whilst banning her lawyer from the case and stripping him of his license under the claims that the woman committed the offense of speaking to media in addition to the indecency she was originally sentenced for, PressTV reported.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

ISIS Savagely Execute Two Spies and Publicly Flog a Man for Drinking Alcohol as Atrocities Continue in Syria

Islamic State continue to maintain their brutal regime in eastern Syria, publicly executing two alleged spies and whipping a man for drinking wine.

According to Raqqa is being slaughtered silently, a well known Syrian activist network based in Raqqa, Islamic State executed the two men on charges of working as spies for the Assad regime.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Nusra Front Military Chief Killed in an Air Raid in Syria

Abu Homam al-Sham died in a government forces air raid security in Idlib province. Three other prominent leaders also died during the operation. The leaders were meeting to outline the groups future strategies. They were considering the possibility of leaving al Qaeda, and seeking the support of the Arab states.

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) — The military leader of the Nusra Front, an Islamic extremist group operating in Syria and affiliated with al Qaeda, was killed in a government forces air raid launched yesterday in the northwest of the country.

His death was confirmed by Syrian state media and by the same jihadist movement, which also confirmed, in addition to the death of Abu Homam al-Shami, that of three other prominent leaders.

The explosion targeted the group’s leaders who had gathered in the village of Hobait (rural area of Idlib province) to shape future combat strategies. Military sources in Damascus add that the Syrian air force led “targeted attacks” against the Nusra Front and other Islamist groups in the area of Abu al-Dhuhur, north-east of Hobait.

The Front is one of the most powerful and bloodthirsty movements among those fighting to overthrow the government of Syrian President Bashar al Assad. On March 4 it launched an offensive against an intelligence building in Aleppo, which killed dozens of people.

For some time the leaders of al Nusra Front have been considering cutting ties with al Qaeda, to form a new entity supported by the wealthy Gulf states, who could finance the battle to topple Assad.

These nations, like much of the Western bloc, are looking for allies in the region both in the fight against the Islamic State as well as in the war against the forces loyal to the Syrian president.

Since the beginning of the uprising against the Syrian President Bashar al Assad, in 2011, over 3.2 million people have fled Syria and 7.6 million others are internally displaced. At least 200 thousand people have been killed in the conflict, many of them civilians.

It was in the shadow of the Syrian conflict that extremist groups such as the Islamic State emerged, before making a rapid advance in the region by tearing large chunks of territory from the hands of Damascus and Baghdad and imposing a reign of terror.

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

Organization of Islamic Cooperation Denounces Parkinlotism, Blames Islamic Terrorism on McCarthyism

By Daniel Greenfield

Iyad Abdullah Ameen Madni is the first Saudi to head up the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the UN’s Islamic coalition. His education consists of a BA from Arizona State in product administration.

Something clearly went missing along the way.

At the UN Human Rights Council, itself an ongoing joke, Madni delivered a speech filled with oddball references.

[…]

“This is not mere history,” he claims, but “a context that we must search to identify the root causes of Daishism, bokoharamism, parkinglotism…”

Daishism refers to ISIS. People are speculating that ‘parkinglotism” refers to the murder of 3 Muslims in Chapel Hill over a parking space. But good luck making sense of any of this. Except that the world is Islamophobic.

“This OIC position had to deal with an increasingly Islamophobic world,” he states. Then he pushes for the worldwide adoption of Islam’s blasphemy laws while claiming that he wants to take on incitement to hatred based on religion. This from a regime that teaches its kids that Jews are pigs and apes.

“We must show courage to openly discuss and address sensitive issues such as limits to freedom of expression,” he insists.

[“Limits to free expression.” To wit, exposure, analysis, criticism, and mockery of Islam. — PW]

           — Hat tip: Papa Whiskey [Return to headlines]
 

Reports: ISIS Bulldozed Ancient Hatra City in Mosul

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants bulldozed early Saturday the ancient city of Hatra founded 3rd or 2nd BC by the Seleucide Empire, activists and Kurdish media reported.

Spokesman for the 14th branch of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) in Ninveh province Saeed Mumuzini told Rudaw news website that “ISIS militants used buldozzers to destroy Hatra city.”

“ISIS stole the ancient gold and silver coins, which were used by the Assyrian kings and were stored in the city,” Mumuzini added.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

Saudi Court Sentences Gang Rape Victim to 200 Lashes and Custodial Sentence

The victim of a violent gang rape has been sentenced by a Saudi Arabian court to 200 lashes and six months in jail for the crimes of speaking to the press and indecency.

According to Sharia Law, a Saudi Arabian woman must be accompanied by a male guardian at all times in public, something the 19 year old victim did not obey when she went to meet a friend, according to website Live Buddhism.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

Saudis Dismiss Criticism of Blogger Lashes Sentence

Saudi Arabia on Saturday dismissed criticism of its flogging of blogger Raef Badawi, who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes over 20 weeks for “insulting Islam”.

Badawi received the first 50 lashes of his sentence outside a mosque in the Red Sea city of Jeddah on January 9, and subsequent rounds of punishment were postponed on medical grounds.

In a statement, a foreign ministry spokesman “strongly denounced the media campaign around the case of Raef Badawi”, and deplored criticism of the judiciary.

“The kingdom does not accept any form of interference in its internal affairs and rejects… the attack on the independence of its justice system,” the official SPA news agency quoted the spokesman as saying…

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

Some 28 Countries Said to Support Independent Kurdistan

(AGI) Baghdad, Mar 6 — Some 28 countries have so far declared their support for the creation of an independent Kurdistan, Deputy President of the Kurdistan Regional Parliament, Dr Jaffar Eminiki, said live on the local website Rudaw. The international community’s stance on Kurdistan’s independence was changing, he said, although he did not name the 28 countries. Rudaw also reported a contrary opinion, voiced by Professor Dlawer Ala’aldeen of the Middle East Research Institute, who said that if Kurdistan were to declare independence right now, many countries would turn their backs and leave the region to its own devices.

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

Britain Sends Ukraine Military Aid After Kiev Asks for Help With Basic Equipment

The UK is to supply a further package of non-lethal military equipment worth £850,000 as a gift to the government of Ukraine, it has been announced.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Six Killed in Gunmen Attack on Sufi Place of Worship in Kabul

Attackers with guns fixed with silencers killed six people after storming a Sufi place of worship in the Afghan capital Kabul on Saturday evening, according to a government statement.

Several men attacked the religious building in the western part of the capital during evening prayers, said the statement released by the Ministry of Interior.

Five people were wounded. The gunmen escaped the scene, and police arrested five suspects on Saturday evening in connection with the attack.

The rare sectarian attack comes hours after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani pledged his government would pursue peace efforts in a speech before parliament…

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

Ex-Crewman on Japanese Battleship Says He Recognizes Wreckage Found This Week

A former crew member on a Japanese battleship that sank during World War II said Thursday he recognized photos of wreckage discovered this week off the Philippines by a team led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

Shizuhiko Haraguchi served as a gunnery officer on the Musashi, one of the largest battleships in history, when it was being fitted in Japan before it departed for the Pacific in 1943.

He said he recognized underwater photos taken by Allen’s team of a large gun turret and a catapult system used to launch planes.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

Nine Hurt in China Station Knife Attack

Nine people have been injured in a knife attack at a station in the Chinese city of Guangzhou, police say.

The attack happened on Friday morning. Police shot one suspect dead and caught another, a statement said.

No information was given on the possible motive for the attack.

In recent months there have been two attacks on stations in China, in Kunming and Urumqi. Authorities have blamed both on extremists from China’s Uighur Muslim minority.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

African Union Blames US, UK, Norway for South Sudan Civil War

By supporting South Sudan’s independence from Sudan, the US, UK and Norway have created conditions for the civil war, which broke out in the world’s youngest country in 2013, leaked documents from an inquiry by the African Union allege.

In 2005, the US, UK, Norway and the East African trading bloc, IGAD, pushed through a peace deal, which legitimized the South Sudanese rebels, and paved the way for the country’s independence in 2011.

According to a draft of the African Union inquiry obtained by Reuters, the actions of the Western powers helped establish “a politically unchallenged armed power in South Sudan” that acted with impunity and legitimized “rule of the gun.”

At least 10,000 people were killed and another 1.5 million have been displaced since July 2013 when the fighting between the forces loyal to South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, and the militants led by his sacked deputy Riek Machar began.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

Boko Haram Swears Formal Allegiance to ISIS

A message allegedly from the head of Nigeria’s Boko Haram terror group Saturday pledged his group’s allegiance to Islamic State.

The message was posted on Twitter, hours after Boko Haram claimed responsibility for four suicide bomb attacks in northeastern Nigeria that killed at least 54 people and wounded more than 140 people.

The unverified pledge, first reported by the SITE intelligence group, comes as the Nigerian militants reportedly are massing in a northeastern town for a showdown with a multinational force that has dislodged them from a score of towns in recent weeks.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau makes the oath in Arabic in a tweeted message saying: “We announce our allegiance to the Caliph of the Muslims.” Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has declared himself the caliph.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

Five Dead Including Frenchman and Belgian in Mali Restaurant Terror Attack

By David Chazan

A hooded assailant has killed five people including a Frenchman and a Belgian in a gun and grenade attack on a nightclub popular with expatriates in Mali’s capital Bamako.

A policeman, a security guard and a young woman were the three Malians who died.

The attacker shouted “Allahu akbar” (Arabic for ‘God is great’) as he burst into the nightclub, La Terrasse, at about one am and sprayed bullets from an automatic rifle, witnesses said.

French troops intervened in the west African country two years ago against groups linked with al-Qaeda.

The Frenchman was shot dead in the first-floor bar. The Belgian, a security officer with the European Union delegation in Bamako, was killed in front of his house in a nearby street as the attacker made his getaway in a car driven by an accomplice who also wore a hood concealing his face, police said.

As they drove away, the attacker hurled a grenade at a police car, killing the policeman.

Nine people were wounded, including two Swiss soldiers serving as UN experts, who were described as being in “stable but critical condition”, and a Swiss woman.

[Coming soon to a neighborhood near you, thanks to unrestricted Muslim immigration. Walk heavy and watch your six. — PW]

           — Hat tip: Papa Whiskey [Return to headlines]
 

Four Sentenced to Death Over Tanzania Albino Death

Thought body parts had ‘special powers’

(ANSA) — Rome, March 5 — Four people were sentenced to death in Tanzania Thursday after being found guilty of murdering an albino woman.

The four killed the woman in 2008 because they subscribed to a widely held local superstition that her body parts had special powers, according to the judge in north-western town of Geita.

The 22-year-old victim, Zawadi Mangidu, left behind a nine-month-old child. Her husband is one of those convicted.

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete this week vowed to tackle the killing of albinos, who are targeted for superstitious reasons.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Norway to Blame for South Sudan War: AU

The African Union has blamed Norway for the civil war which broke out in South Sudan at the end of 2013, arguing that the country had inadvertently created “a politically unchallenged armed power” when it brokered the 2005 peace deal with Sudan.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

Enel Investing Dlrs 220 Mln in Brazil Wind Plant

Esperança plant will have 28 MW capacity

(ANSA) Milan, March 2 — Enel Green Power announced Monday it is launching the construction of the Esperança wind power plant in Brazil for a total estimated cost of dlrs 220 million (some 178 million euros).

The new plant will have energy capacity of 28 megawatts and will climax the completion of the Serra Azul complex that will be capable of producing more than 500 Gwh per year, Enel said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]
 

Mexican Official: Troops Arrest 14 Federal Police Officers in Kidnapping of Border Businessman

A Mexican official says troops have detained 15 federal police officers for allegedly kidnapping the owner of a construction company in the northern border city of Matamoros and demanding a $2 million (31 million peso) ransom.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

German Couple Starts Website to Match Refugees With Potential Housemates

A German couple have started a website to match refugees with roommates in Germany and Austria to create a “more human culture of welcoming refugees”.

Marieke Geiling, 28, and her boyfriend Jonas Kakoschke, 31, launched Refugees Welcome to match refugees and asylum seekers with shared flats or other “normal” housing situations so that migrants would not have to live in mass accommodation.

After a shared flat or house signs up to the website, available in English and German, they will then be connected to a refugee organisation who will put them in touch with a person who has fled to their city.

Once a flatmate has been placed, Refugees Welcome with then help with financing rent costs to cover their stay.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

Up to 1 Mln Migrants ‘Ready to Leave Libya’, Says Frontex

(ANSAmed) — ROME — There are reportedly between 500,000 and one million migrants ready to leave from the Libyan coast and head towards Europe, Frontex’s executive director told ANSA in an interview on Friday. The leader of the EU’s external border control agency, Fabrice Leggeri, warned that there may be risks related to the Islamic State (ISIS). ‘‘In 2015,’’ Leggeri said, ‘‘we must be prepared to deal with a situation that is even worse than last year.’’ ‘‘Depending on the source, we have been told that there are between 500,000 and one million migrants ready to leave Libya.’’ In response to a question about ISIS possibly being behind the trafficking of migrants in Libya, he answered that ‘‘we must be aware of the risks. I do not currently have any evidence to say that they control undocumented migration. But we must be careful.’’ ‘‘We do have proof that migrants have been forced to get on the boats by armed men,’’ he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

Perpetual Grievance

by Heather Mac Donald

The latest advancement in victimhood links “queer theory” with illegal immigration.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]
 

Planet Fitness Bans Woman From Gym for Complaining About Transgender in Locker Room

Gym says members can use whatever locker room corresponds to their “personal gender identity.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

UK: Mother Became a Surrogate for Gay Son Who Was Desperate to Become a Father

Anne-Marie Casson, of Doncaster, South Yorkshire, has told how she became a surrogate and gave birth to her gay son’s baby.

Impatient to be a father, Kyle Casson was just 24 when he decided to seek out a surrogate to carry his child.

But being a single gay man, his options were limited.

Turned away by surrogacy clinics across the country, his only option was his 45-year-old mother Anne-Marie.

Last July — in a unique case that has divided opinion across Britain — she gave birth to her son’s son by Caesarean section.

Miles, now eight months old, is Mr Casson’s biological son created by his sperm and an anonymous donor egg implanted into Mrs Casson’s womb. In the eyes of the law, he is also Miles’s brother.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]
 

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