Gates of Vienna News Feed 1/13/2016

A man named Walid Mustapha Chalhoub is on trial in a Quebec court for extortion, drugging and raping underage girls, pimping, and other offenses related to the “grooming” of teenagers. The alleged perp allegedly told a young girl that he would burn down her house and expose the video of her having sex to the world if she didn’t comply with his demands.

In other news, a car mysteriously exploded today on the M11 near Cambridge in England, creating a fireball and killing the driver of the car. RAF explosives experts were rushed to the scene, and the southbound lanes of the motorway were closed. Police say they are not ruling anything out.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Dean, dunroamin, Insubria, Jerry Gordon, MC, Seneca III, Vlad Tepes, and all the other tipsters who sent these in.

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

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

Financial Crisis
» India’s Inflation Rate Quickens to 5.6% in December
» Italy: New Low of 0.02% for 3-Yr BTP Bonds
» Trial Begins for Man Facing Charges of Sexual Assault, Pimping and Kidnapping
» Trial: Chalhoub Claimed He Was a Murderer to Extort Sex From Teenagers
Europe and the EU
» Cameron Accused of ‘Gagging’ Euroskeptics After Setting Brexit Ground Rules
» Change of Perspective: Italy May Switch Its Stance on Nord Stream 2
» Cologne Sex Attack Horror Emerges in Police Notes
» Hungary: Strasbourg Court Rejects Anti-Terror Legislation
» Italy: Grillo Says PD Cases ‘Worthy of Crime Group’
» Italy: Renzi Praises Giachetti Ahead of Rome Primaries
» Italy: M5S ‘Knew’ Capuozzo Was Being Blackmailed Says PD
» Italy: Judge Orders Blackout of Jewish ‘Blacklist’ Website
» Italy: Banco Popolare and BPM Stocks Soar Amidst Merger Talk
» Poland Slams EU ‘Pressure’ In Rule-of-Law Dispute
» Scotland: Police Release Footage of Masked Man Who Burned Down Mosque in Paris Revenge
» UK: RAF Bomb Squad Races to M11 as Man Dies in Fireball With Police ‘Not Ruling Anything Out’
Israel and the Palestinians
» Gaza: Israel Strikes ‘Terror Cell’ At Border
» Hamas Shuts Up Critical Palestinian Journalists in Gaza
» Swedish FM Wants Probe Into Israeli Violence
Middle East
» Facts Matter: Cameron’s Claim on Moderate Syrian Rebels Comes Up Short
» Former Acting CIA Director Michael Morrell Versus President Obama on ISIS Threat
» Saudi Arabia: Riyadh Arrests Raif Badawi’s Sister for Discussing Human Rights on the Internet
» Syria: Sources: Loyalists Conquer Rebel Stronghold in North
» UN Appeals for Nearly $8 Billion for Syria Aid
South Asia
» Bangladesh: Christian Clergyman Arrested as a “Threat” To the Bishwa Ijtema Islamic Pilgrimage
» Pakistan: Quetta Bomb Against Anti-Polio Clinic: 14 Dead
Far East
» China: Beijing Detains and Holds Swedish Citizen in Solitary Confinement for Helping Human Rights Lawyers
» China Trade Volume Falls 7.0% in 2015: Customs
Australia — Pacific
» Urgent Meeting Called to Address Hospital Security After Police Officer Shot at Nepean Hospital
Latin America
» Luis Fleischman & Nancy Menges: Hope for Guatemala and Its People
» Austria Reveals 90,000 Asylum Claims in 2015
» Danish Lawmakers Mull Proposal to Take Refugees’ Cash
» Italy: Sentencing Requested in Disabled Woman Gang Rape
» Swedish Press Conceals Migrant Crimes Due to Loyalty to Government

India’s Inflation Rate Quickens to 5.6% in December

India’s consumer price inflation accelerated to 5.6 percent in December, the Statistics Ministry said Tuesday, with prices rising at a faster pace than economists had expected.

A steep increase in food prices drove the inflation rate up to a 15-month high in December, slightly above the 5.5 percent rise foreseen by economists in a Bloomberg survey.

It marked the fifth month in a row that inflation had gained pace, with consumer prices increasing 5.4 percent year-on-year in November and 5 percent in October…

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

Italy: New Low of 0.02% for 3-Yr BTP Bonds

Treasury also sells off 7-yr and 15-yr bonds

(ANSA) — Rome, January 13 — The Treasury said that it sold all two billion euros’ worth of the three-year BTP bonds that it put up for auction on Wednesday at an average in interest rate of just 0.02% — a new low. The rate was down from the previous low of 0.11% registered at an auction in November. The Treasury also sold three billion euros worth of seven-year BTPs at a rate of 0.99%, slightly up from 0.98% in November, and 1.5 billion euros of 15-year BTPS at 2.03%, down from 2.14% in October.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Trial Begins for Man Facing Charges of Sexual Assault, Pimping and Kidnapping

The trial of Walid Mustapha Chalhoub is expected to last three weeks. (Radio-Canada)

The trial of a man accused of assaulting 10 minors began yesterday at a courthouse in Montreal.

Walid Mustapha Chalhoub faces 48 charges, including sexual assault, pimping, extortion and kidnapping.

According to police testimony, Chalhoub allegedly attracted victims to his home by promising them jobs and cash.

Police allege Chalhoub then engaged in blackmail to extort money and force the teenagers to film sex tapes.

He is also alleged to have threatened to upload the sex tapes to the internet to extort more money.

A detective working on the case told the court the investigation began after a father called 911 to report his daughter’s disappearance.

That report led police to other alleged victims…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

Trial: Chalhoub Claimed He Was a Murderer to Extort Sex From Teenagers

Walid Mustapha Chalhoub is accused of sexually abusing 12 young girls, 10 of whom were minors, between 2011 and 2013. Montreal police

A Montreal man charged with sexually assaulting several teenagers after convincing them they were contractually obligated to have sex with him, claimed he was in the Mafia and a murderer in order to intimidate his victims, a court heard Wednesday.

Walid Mustapha Chalhoub, 33, a resident of the Ahuntsic-Cartierville borough, is charged with sexual assault on eight minors and an 18-year-old woman he had previously dated. He faces 48 charges in all in a trial at the Montreal courthouse. That includes ten counts of sexual assault, two counts of armed sexual assault and 11 counts of extortion.

Quebec Court Judge Serge Boisvert heard testimony from two young women who were close friends when they decided to go to Chalhoub’s apartment in the borough because a schoolmate had told one of them Chalhoub had a way for them to make easy money. The women were 16 and 17 when they went to Chalhoub’s home in August 2013. Both gave the Montreal police videotaped statements, last February, in which they said Chalhoub was vague about the contracts he offered them. The statements were played for Boisvert before each witness testified.

The young women said they were given alcohol and offered marijuana when they arrived and found a small party in progress in Chalhoub’s apartment. As the night progressed people gradually left and Chalhoub talked of being a chauffeur for escorts, claimed he was part of the Mafia and boasted that he had killed people…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

Cameron Accused of ‘Gagging’ Euroskeptics After Setting Brexit Ground Rules

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has been accused of trying to “gag” some of his party’s Euroskeptic ministers in the ongoing Brexit debate, after he imposed a strict set of rules for his cabinet to abide by during the EU referendum.

Despite Cameron announcing that he would be temporarily suspending collective responsibility of the frontbench during the Brexit debate, the PM said this was a “wholly exceptional” situation, and listed a set of guidelines for ministers, who he urged to treat each other with “appropriate respect and courtesy.”

Under Cameron’s guidelines, ministers will not be able to campaign for Britain to leave the EU until after negotiations have been completed, warning frontbenchers not to “undermine” his efforts to secure a deal with other member states.

The PM’s letter, sent to the frontbench, also explains that anti-EU ministers will be barred from supporting a Brexit vote from the dispatch box, however it hinted that they would be allowed speak out against the government’s position from the backbench.

Although Cameron hasn’t ruled out campaigning for a Brexit, he has said his preferred choice is for the UK to remain inside a reformed EU. He also noted that he won’t make up his mind until negotiations with European counterparts have been completed.

On top of restrictions on ministers, the prime minister has also made it clear that the civil service will be fully behind the government’s decision, which is expected to be in favor of remaining in the bloc.

“It will not be appropriate or permissible for the civil service or individual civil servants to support ministers who opposed the Government’s official position,” the letter states.

‘One Rule for Them and Another for the Rest’

Despite Cameron allowing for ministers to express their own views over the EU debate, former environment minister Owen Paterson, who is a leading member of the Vote Leave group, says the new ground rules will severely restrict the rights of Euroskeptic ministers to campaign for a Brexit.

“It’s welcome that ministers who want to campaign to take back control from the EU will be able to do so without resigning, but it’s increasingly clear that it’ll be one rule for those who want to stay in the EU at all costs, and another rule for the rest,” Paterson said.

“Ministers who wish to extol the virtues of the EU have been given a green light to do so already, while those who want to take back control are currently gagged… It looks like the government is focusing its energies on gearing up the full weight of the Whitehall machine to campaign to keep us in the EU rather than on bringing powers back from Brussels.”

The prime minister is desperate to avoid the damaging party splits that dogged former PM Sir John Major’s time in office, with reports suggesting two-thirds of MPs are leaning towards voting in favor of a Brexit.

In his letter he called for party unity regardless of the differences in opinion on the matter of EU membership.

“Throughout this period, and in its aftermath, we will continue to have responsibility for governing the country and serving the public who elected us. This can only be done effectively if we remain, despite differences on this one issue, a united, harmonious, mutually respectful team.”

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

Change of Perspective: Italy May Switch Its Stance on Nord Stream 2

Russia may be seeking Italy’s assistance in advancing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin recently had a phone conversation with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi discussing Italy’s possible participation in the Nord Stream 2 project, according to La Stampa.

Several European nations have previously voiced concerns regarding the project as the new pipeline would allegedly increase Europe’s dependency on Russian natural gas.

Interestingly enough, it was Prime Minister Renzi himself who in December 2015 actively sought to torpedo the very same pipeline project. According to the Financial Times, the Nord Stream issue was included in the European Council agenda in large part due to pressure from the Italian government. Eventually, Italy’s efforts culminated in the European Council ruling that the new pipeline was not in the EU’s interests.

Participating in the Nord Stream project would actually be quite beneficial to the Italian economy natural gas consumption has increased by 15 percent in 2015 as the economy grows, La Stampa adds.

Furthermore, in 2016 the country would likely require even more natural gas, but the Italian government forbids drilling for gas in the country due to environmental concerns. In this situation, investing in the Nord Stream pipeline may be a smart move, the newspaper concludes.

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

Cologne Sex Attack Horror Emerges in Police Notes

More than 500 women reported being attacked by a gang of men believed to be migrants while celebrating the New Year in the German city.

The horror attacks have sparked riots as tensions between protestors and counter-protestors reaches breaking point.

Police officer notes describe a timeline of how women were surrounded by men who put their hands down their trousers, groped their breasts, then when women dropped their belongings trying to defend themselves, they were robbed.

One woman said she had been surrounded by 20 men who molested her while another was distracted by me groping her while others went through her handbag.

One police note said: “Several injured women. All suffered attempts to introduce fingers in vaginas, tights. All were touched on the chest and buttocks. Finger was introduced inside a victim.”

A note taken at 11.15pm reads: “Two female victims were encircled by crowd and groped. Handbag fell. From the bag was stolen mobile phone, cash, jewellery.”

Another taken at 12.30am said: “A nafri [North African] group of 20 men surrounded a young woman and put their hand down her pants. Her handbag was stolen.”

At 1am, the police noted: “Three female victims were surrounded by a group of North Africans. Then in stages they had hands on their bosoms and in their pants. Mobile phone stolen then. Attempted to steal purse.”

And at 3.40am, police reported: “A group of 20 men of Nafri appearance (German police shorthand for being of North African appearance) held victims and attacked their intimate parts. Then purse was stolen. Lost items include cash and purses.”

The victims, who were watching a firework display near Cologne’s railway station were attacked by up to 2,000 men who were taking part in the Arab lad culture phenomenon known as ‘taharrush gamea’ — or collective harassment.

One of the victims who has spoken out said: “The men were full of anger, and we had to make sure that none of us were pulled away by them. They were groping us and we were trying to get away as quickly as possible.”

The attacks have been criticised by Angela Merkel, who is backtracking on welcoming 1.1million migrants into the country, who admitted they were “out of control”.

I stood my ground and they went on their way.

Ivan Jurcevic

Ivan Jurcevic, 44, intervened when a group of men tried to attack two women on New Year’s Eve.

The five-time world champion, who now works as a bouncer, said: “There were four of them, young men in their twenties, speaking Arabic. They told me not to interfere, that the girls were “theirs”.

“The girls looked like they worked in a bank, they were wearing jeans and coats, nothing provocative, they were really frightened. I told them to stand behind me, then the loudest member of the gang came at me with a bottle so I kicked him in the chest and sent him flying.

“Another came at me so I slapped him across the face and he went over as well.

The leader drew his finger across his throat and told me he would be back to kill me. I stood my ground and they went on their way.”

Mr Jurcevic, who is originally from Croatia and served in his country’s army as a young man, was arrested when he joined a vigilante mob which attacked innocent people in revenge for the attacks…

           — Hat tip: dunroamin [Return to headlines]

Hungary: Strasbourg Court Rejects Anti-Terror Legislation

Law breaches privacy rights of European citizens

(ANSA) — STRASBOURG, JAN. 12 — The European Court of Human Rights has rejected the Hungarian law regulating covert surveillance as part of anti-terror measures and has ruled that they breach the fundamental privacy rights of European citizens.

According to the ECHR, the bill does not contain “any guarantee which can be deemed sufficiently accurate, effective and complete”, with regard to how the measures provided under this bill are authorized and implemented and the procedures that citizens are allowed to use in order to appeal against these measures whenever they happen to be subject to them.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Grillo Says PD Cases ‘Worthy of Crime Group’

‘Has immoral monopoly’

(ANSA) — Rome, January 12 — Anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) leader Beppe Grillo said Tuesday the number of Democratic Party (PD) members probed, indicted and convicted in the last few years was “worthy of a criminal organisation”. He said “it’s a national record, no one like the PD”. According to Grillo, the PD “has the immoral monopoly, the record of those under investigation, but well-paid newspapers prefer to omit this”.

Grillo said PD leader and Premier Matteo Renzi was “collapsing” in opinion polls and was allegedly paying newspapers for unfavourable coverage of the M5S.

The former comedian called on PD members who are under investigation “to give yourselves up”. He claimed that when a mayor was probed, “nine times out of 10 they’re from the PD, though it’s never specified”. Grillo was reacting to criticism of the M5S mayor of Quarto near Naples, Rosa Capuozzo, who has been touched by a Camorra mafia probe even though she is not under investigation.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Renzi Praises Giachetti Ahead of Rome Primaries

Premier says MP knows Rome like few others

(ANSA) — Rome, January 12 — Premier Matteo Renzi praised Roberto Giachetti, an MP with his Democratic Party (PD), ahead of primaries to select the centre-left’s mayor candidate in local elections in Rome later this year. “The primaries will decide, but Giachetti is certainly someone who knows Rome like few others, he’s even been head of the city cabinet (under former mayor Francesco Rutelli),” Renzi told Repubblica TV. “He is a Roman and an AS Roma supporter. We’ll see if he stands”.

Rome is currently being run by an extraordinary commissioner, Francesco Paolo Tronca, after former PD Mayor Ignazio Marino was forced out last year following an expenses scandal.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: M5S ‘Knew’ Capuozzo Was Being Blackmailed Says PD

Senator wants Quarto mayor before anti-Mafia commission

(see related)(ANSA) — Rome, January 12 — The top ranks of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) knew Quarto Mayor Rosa Capuozzo was being blackmailed by an M5S member there linked to the Camorra mafia but they kept it quiet, Democratic Party (PD) Senator Franco Mirabelli said Tuesday.

“(M5S chiefs Beppe) Grillo and (Gianroberto) Casaleggio expelled Capuozzo…and we will ask she be heard by the parliamentary anti-Mafia commission,” said Mirabelli, who is the PD caucus leader on that commission.

“We need to know the truth because you can’t get away with it just by expelling people,” he told Sky TG24 news channel.

“National M5S executives are clearly involved,” he said.

“Both (Luigi) Di Maio and (Roberto) Fico knew about this issue since November, as is made clear in the wiretaps,” he said.

“But none of them reported it to police”.

M5S bigwigs earlier on Tuesday denied knowing about the goings-on in Quarto.

Fico, chair of the parliamentary oversight commission on RAI State TV, said neither he nor Lower House Deputy Speaker Luigi Di Maio “ever knew about any blackmail, threat or trade-off via threats to obtain something”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Judge Orders Blackout of Jewish ‘Blacklist’ Website

Radio Islam site listed prominent Italian Jews

(ANSA) — Rome, January 12 — An Italian judge on Tuesday ordered a blackout of the pro-Palestine Radio Islam website that had published a “blacklist” of prominent Italian Jews. The site, which included a long list of names of people in the media, acting, and business worlds, is no longer accessible following police intervention.

Rome’s preliminary investigations judge accepted a request from the prosecutor’s office for it to issue an ordinance forcing the blackout.

The list had included journalists such as Enrico Mentana and crusading anti-Mafia reporter Roberto Saviano as well as executives such as Fiat Chrysler Chairman John Elkann. One of its subtitles read “the Jewish monopoly in the mass media in Italy” and the page also included links to documents alleging Jewish influence in the country.

Charges against the currently unknown perpetrators could include threats and defamation aggravated by racial hatred, ANSA sources familiar with the investigation have said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Banco Popolare and BPM Stocks Soar Amidst Merger Talk

Union would create Italy’s 3rd-biggest lender

(ANSA) — Milan, January 13 — Shares of Banco Popolare and Banco Popolare di Milano (BPM) rose sharply on Wednesday as talk increased of a possible merger between the two Italian cooperative banks.

Banco Popolare shares trading was suspended for excessive volatility after jumping more than 6%, while BPM increased 4.9% to 88 cents per share.

Rumours have grown in recent days that the Verona and Milan-based institutions are already in advanced negotiations for a so-called “merger of equals” that would create Italy’s third-largest lender, following Intesa and Unicredit, worth 172 billion euros and with 2,484 branches.

The merger would result in legal headquarters in Milan with an administrative base in Verona, ANSA sources said.

Banco Popolare President Carlo Fratta Pasini would be at the helm of the new merged institution, with BPM CEO Giuseppe Castagna head of operations, while Banco Popolare CEO Pier Francesco Saviotti set to preside over the executive committee.

UBI Banca is also rumoured to be a possible player in the merger, and its stock rose 3.76% Wednesday.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Poland Slams EU ‘Pressure’ In Rule-of-Law Dispute

Poland on Tuesday accused the European Commission of attempting to pressure its new right-wing government regarding a rule-of-law dispute triggered by controversial media and justice reforms.

The legal manoeuvres have prompted escalating warnings from the European Commission that it could intervene, including two letters from its vice president, Frans Timmermans, asking Warsaw for information.

Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said Tuesday he was “astonished” by Timmermans’ request, slamming it as “an attempt to exert pressure upon the democratically elected” parliament and government of a sovereign state…

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

Scotland: Police Release Footage of Masked Man Who Burned Down Mosque in Paris Revenge

Detectives have released CCTV footage of the fire ripping through buildings in Scotland.

The devastating blaze gutted the place of worship and caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to the East Dunbartonshire cultural centre.

Security footage of the fire shows a masked man pouring a flammable liquid in several rooms before setting them ablaze.

He even moves a floor mat next to net curtains to ensure the blaze spreads.

Police Scotland have confirmed the blaze, which started around 2:15am on November 17, was “deliberate and dangerous”, just days after the terror attacks on Paris that left 130 dead.

They called on Scotland to unite against such retaliation as they continue their hunt for the suspect…

           — Hat tip: Seneca III [Return to headlines]

UK: RAF Bomb Squad Races to M11 as Man Dies in Fireball With Police ‘Not Ruling Anything Out’

Explosives officers from the RAF were called to the horrific incident on the M11 just outside Cambridge after the man’s car suddenly exploded into flames without coming into contact with any other vehicles.

It is believed that one man was killed in the huge blast, which took place near junction 12 of the southbound carriageway at around 8.10am today.

The dramatic incident was still shrouded in mystery this afternoon, with police saying they are “not ruling anything out” with regards to the cause of the blast after witnesses said something within the vehicle had “obviously exploded”.

Officers said there is no indication that a collision took place or that any other vehicles were involved.

Cambridge TV

M11 southbound will be closed until this evening following a car fire near junction 12- diversion in place

Police have closed the entire southbound carriageway at junction 13 whilst bomb disposal experts from a nearby RAF base comb the area for clues, with motorists being advised to avoid the area amid lengthy tailbacks. One lane of the northbound carriageway was also shut, with some local football matches being cancelled due to the chaos…

           — Hat tip: Seneca III [Return to headlines]

Gaza: Israel Strikes ‘Terror Cell’ At Border

One dead. Military, explosives to ‘strike soldiers’

TEL AVIV — Israel’s air force on Wednesday morning targeted a Palestinian “terror cell”, according to a military spokesman, which was about to place explosive devices along the border line of the northern part of the Strip to “strike soldiers”. Local sources and Palestinian media said one person died and three others were wounded.

After the attack, the army told Israeli farmers in the area not to get close to the line over fears of potential retaliation from the Strip.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Hamas Shuts Up Critical Palestinian Journalists in Gaza

A Palestinian journalist once openly critical of the Hamas terror movement’s rule over Gaza will no longer write about politics after being brutally beaten in jail.

Ayman al-Aloul was arrested along with another outspoken critic, Ramzi Herzallah, in their homes in Gaza City on January 3.

Both were released Monday after nine days in jail, which included beatings and trips to a torture room, known euphemistically as “the bus,” in which prisoners are forces to sit blindfolded on children-sized chairs for the entirety of a day.

Following the experience, al-Aloul said his work will now be constrained to less controversial topics such as entertainment and food.

“I’ve decided not to talk about the general situation anymore,” al-Aloul told the Associated Press (AP) from his home on Tuesday. “The experience I went through was very difficult.”

Al-Aloul’s arrest is part of a crackdown by Hamas amid rising unrest among the Gaza populace. Critics of the terror group’s rule have become more outspoken on social media and Hamas’ attempts to raise taxes have also provoked rare protests…

           — Hat tip: MC [Return to headlines]

Swedish FM Wants Probe Into Israeli Violence

‘Irresponsible statement’, says Israeli spokesman

(ANSAmed) — STOCKHOLM/TEL AVIV, JANUARY 12 — Sweden’s foreign minister Margot Wallstrom called Tuesday for an investigation to determine if Israel was guilty of extrajudicial killings of Palestinians during the recent wave of violence there. Israel reacted by saying that the “irresponsible statement” would only “support terrorism, thereby encouraging violence”. In November, Wallstrom was reported to have said that the Paris attacks were connected to frustration in the Middle East, and especially that of Palestinians. Israel had lashed out at the statement, calling it “appallingly impudent”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Facts Matter: Cameron’s Claim on Moderate Syrian Rebels Comes Up Short

British Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday admitted his claim that there were 70,000 “moderate” Syrian rebels prepared to ally with Britain in the fight against Daesh was false.

Cameron had used the claim as the centerpiece of his argument to expand the war against Daesh into Syria. He insisted the British government should rely on rebel fighters on the ground to seize Daesh-held territory after Western air strikes.

Faced with criticism over the claim, Cameron on Tuesday admitted that many of those rebels are “relatively hardline Islamists” and that there “aren’t enough” moderate rebels to actually defeat Daesh in the way Britain planned.

He added that the number “wasn’t a figure I invented,” but came from intelligence agencies as a “best estimate.” However, he refused to identify those agencies.

Cameron insisted it was necessary to keep the bulk of the details about these “moderates” secret, however, on the grounds that the Assad government might use the details to target them, and that Britain could potentially work with even the “relative hardliners” in some cases, reported.

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

Former Acting CIA Director Michael Morrell Versus President Obama on ISIS Threat

On the morning of President Obama’s final State of the Union (SOTUS) Address,January 12, 2016, the House Armed Services Committee, chaired by Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) held the latest in a series of hearing on Combating ISIS. Testimony was heard from a panel of witnesses who are former Obama Administration Intelligence and Diplomatic officials: Former Deputy and Acting Director Michael Morrell, former Defense Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Dr. Michael Vickers and former US Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford.

Morell’s bottom line: “ISIS poses a significant strategic and lethal threat to the United States of America.”

Morell presented the case that the US could be subject to multiple direct attacks organized and planned from the Caliphate of the Islamic State in Raqaa Syria. He distinguished between direct and indicate attacks such as lone wolf attacks, the latter causing few fatalities as distinct of large mass casualties as in the November 13th Paris massacres that killed over 130. He noted that the San Bernardino attack produced the largest fatalities second only to 9/11. He suggested that simply taking out the leadership of ISIS would not remove the safe haven of the self-declared caliphate that had attracted more than 30,000 foreign fighters and homesteaders from 100 countries He considers ISIS a source of instability in the Middle East threatening allies Israeli and the Gulf Sunni states, the latter he deemed a bulwark against the hegemonic objectives of Iran…

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: Riyadh Arrests Raif Badawi’s Sister for Discussing Human Rights on the Internet

Police detained Samar Badawi with her two year old daughter. After a four-hour interrogation they brought her to Dhaban prison. The woman is charged with managing the social media profile of activist and ex-husband Waleed Abulkhair, currently serving 15 years in prison. Activists: “overwhelming evidence” of human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) — Saudi authorities have arrested Raif Badawi’s sister. Raif is a famous blogger and human rights activist who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and a thousand lashes for “insulting Islam”.

Amnesty International reports that Samar Badawi was taken yesterday in the latest case of abuses committed in Saudi Arabia against human rights and civil dissent. Moreover these blatant violations have not prevented the appointment of Riyadh to the head of the Council for Human Rights at the UN.

Police stopped Samar Badawi yesterday morning in Jeddah, along with her two year old daughter. The police, after having interrogated her for four hours, ordered her transfer to the prison in Dhaban.

Raif’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, immediately posted a tweet explaining that her sister was arrested for having managed the social profile (WaleedAbulkhair) of her ex- husband — and prominent activist — Waleed Abulkhair.

The man is serving a prison sentence of 15 years.

Human rights groups condemned the detention of Raif Badawi’s sister, Samar, who is “the latest example of the contempt of Saudi Arabia for Human Rights” and the “overwhelming evidence” of the will of the authorities to “repress any form of peaceful dissent. “

For four years the 31 year old Badawi has managed the Liberal Saudi Network, a site that encouraged discussion on the internet of the most important current events, politics and religion. He was arrested in 2012 and sentenced in first instance to seven years in prison and 600 lashes. However, the judges of the Court of Appeal considered the sentence too mild and increased the sentence to 1,000 lashes, 10 years in prison and a fine of 193 thousand euro. The verdict was upheld by the Supreme Court in June 2015 Saudi, who punished him for having created a “liberal” blog — later closed- and of “insulting Islam through digital media.”

The blogger was subjected to the first 50 lashes in January.

In 2015 Raif Badawi received two major awards for his actions in favor of freedom of thought: the Pen Pinter Prize for “the simplicity of” his “liberal goals” and the Sakharov Prize, the European equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Saudi Arabia applies a strict version of Islamic law (Sharia) and does not tolerate any form of political dissent.

Internet and social media such as Facebook and twitter are highly popular in the Kingdom. However, the authorities forcibly suppress all criticism, dissent or calls for change.

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

Syria: Sources: Loyalists Conquer Rebel Stronghold in North

Salma retaken, near Latakia-Aleppo highway

BEIRUT — With the support of Lebanese Hezbollah militias, Iran and Russia, Syrian government forces have taken over the past few hours Salma, a mountain location east of Latakia which has been a stronghold of anti-regime militias backed by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar for the past two years, local sources in Latakia told ANSA on the phone, confirming Syrian and pan Arab media reports.

Salma is close to the Latakia-Aleppo highway and the fact that it has been taken by the government of Damascus is a significant setback for insurgents in the north-west of the country.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UN Appeals for Nearly $8 Billion for Syria Aid

With the war in Syria headed for a sixth year, UN agencies on Tuesday appealed for $7.73 billion in funding to help 22.5 million people affected by the conflict.

The appeal for funds from UN member-states covers help for 13.5 million Syrians displaced inside the war-wracked country and 4.7 million who have fled across the border to neighboring countries.

ADVERTISINGThe aid will also reach some four million people in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon who are hosting millions of Syrian refugees, said a UN statement.

International donors will be asked to come forward with large pledges at a conference on Syria’s humanitarian crisis in London on February 4…

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

Bangladesh: Christian Clergyman Arrested as a “Threat” To the Bishwa Ijtema Islamic Pilgrimage

Police took into custody Rev Gilbart Biswas in Tongi, where one of the largest Muslim gatherings is held each year, for his “suspicious behaviour,” namely preaching the Gospel and selling booklets. Two million pilgrims from 150 countries attended this year’s event.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) — Bangladeshi police detained Rev Gilbart Biswas for preaching the Gospel and selling religious booklets during Bishwa Ijtema, the second largest Islamic pilgrimage in the world after the Hajj, which is held every year in Tongi (near Dhaka), on the banks of the Turag River.

The clergyman was taken into custody last Saturday. Deployed to provide security to the event, police justified his arrest on “security grounds” because of his “suspicious behaviour”. One officer said that “no one can proclaim the Gospel on other religious sites.”

In reality, the Constitution of Bangladesh guarantees every citizen the right to profess, practice and propagate their faith.

“We are very concerned about the arrest of Rev Gilbart Biswas,” said a fellow clergyman, anonymous for security reasons. “He did not commit any crime and was arrested illegally by the police, which has not yet released him.”

Now the “judge wants to read the booklet Rev Gilbart Biswas distributed,” he added. “After reading it, he will give his verdict.”

The Bishwa Ijtema (Global congregation or World Meeting in Bangla) is an annual event organised by the Tabligi Jamaat (Society for the spread of the faith), a transnational religious and non-political movement that seeks the spiritual reform of Islam.

The event, which includes moments of prayer and preaching, draws millions of people from all over the world. This year some two million people from 150 nations took part in the event. The government deployed more than 5,000 police agents to ensure security.

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

Pakistan: Quetta Bomb Against Anti-Polio Clinic: 14 Dead

Most of the victims were security officers. Another 20 people injured. Taliban suspected, after having fought vaccination for years as a “Western conspiracy” to sterilize Pakistani children.

Quetta (AsiaNews / Agencies) — At least 14 people died this morning in the explosion of a bomb near a polio vaccination center in Quetta, Balochistan (south-west of Pakistan). Most of the victims were security guards patrolling the clinic. Another 20 people were injured.

Minister of Balochistan province, Sarfaraz Bugti, said that the attack occurred before security officers began patrols around the structure: “We live in a war zone — he added — and I can say nothing about the nature of the explosion. “

Pakistan, together with Afghanistan, is the only country in the world where polio is still endemic. Clinics for vaccination are always controlled by the security forces, as the subject of frequent attacks by the Taliban. The militiamen consider vaccination a Western conspiracy to sterilize Pakistani children and of infiltrating spies among health care workers.

Pakistan remains a strong prejudice against vaccines. In 2012 the government blocked the distribution of anti polio medicines to 250 thousand children after threats from some Taliban groups.

The opposition to vaccines is also religiously motivated. During the latest round of vaccinations, parents of more than 21 thousand children refused treatment, 21% of which for religious reasons. They fear the introduction of impure substances into their children’s’ bodies.

After international pressure, last March the Pakistani authorities arrested more than 470 parents and issued a warrant for the arrest of hundreds of others, for opposing the vaccination campaign.

In August 2015, religious leaders and Muslim scholars came out stating that the polio vaccine does not go against the precepts of Islam and reflects the practices of the Sunna.

2014 was one of the worst years for the number of attacks on clinics and number of infections (306) registered in the country. In 2015, vaccination reached new areas of Pakistan and polio cases declined.

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

China: Beijing Detains and Holds Swedish Citizen in Solitary Confinement for Helping Human Rights Lawyers

Peter Dahlin, 35, founded an NGO that supports lawyers in rural areas of the country. His girlfriend, a Chinese citizen has also disappeared. The government prevents Swedish embassy from contacting with the man, who also suffers from a rare disease of the endocrine system. Clamp down on individual freedoms increasingly severe.

Beijing (AsiaNews) — The co-founder of an NGO operating in China was arrested on his way to Beijing International Airport and for the past 10 days has been held at an unknown location. The man is a Swedish citizen: the Foreign Ministry in Stockholm confirmed his detention, but so far has not been permitted to contact him. Peter Dahlin is 35 years old and was on his way to Thailand when he was detained: His Chinese girlfriend has also disappeared without trace.

The China Urgent Action Working Group — the name of the NGO — is an organization that provides assistance of various kinds to Chinese lawyers who work in rural areas of the country. It also supports groups working for human rights in China. The group’s spokesman says the co-founder was arrested on charges of “endangering state security. Peter was arbitrarily arrested on the basis of false accusations. “

The communist authorities are preventing any contact with the activist, a clear violation of international law. Dahlin also suffers from Addison disease, a chronic disease of the endocrine system that requires daily care. It is not clear if the police are allowing the necessary treatment.

Dahlin’s arrest was announced the day after the formal charging of seven other Chinese lawyers: they all disappeared in the summer of 2015 during a nationwide sweep against the lawyers, and now are under investigation for “subversion” .

In addition to lawyers, Beijing seems to have decided to clamp down further on NGOs. In September 2015 the Department for the organization of the Communist Party of China “strongly urged” non-governmental organizations, trade unions and foundations linked to civil society to “increase the number of Party members within their own decision-making bodies” .

The initiative, according to the official Xinhua news agency, “is necessary now more than ever. These institutions must be guided in the right direction through policy decisions made by the central government”.

In addition, the new guidelines make some 1,000 NGOs operating in the country “illegal” for “endangering national unity, targeting state interests or violate public order.” These are the same charges used against human rights activists and religious leaders whom the government wants to silence: they are so broad in scope anything could fall into these terms.

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

China Trade Volume Falls 7.0% in 2015: Customs

China’s total trade volume fell seven percent year-on-year to 24.59 trillion yuan (around $3.74 trillion) in 2015, Customs said on Wednesday, as slowing growth in the world’s second-largest economy and plunging commodity prices took their toll.

It was far below the government’s target of six percent growth in trade, and the fourth year in a row that external commerce had missed its goal.

China’s imports slumped 13.2 percent on the previous year to 10.45 trillion yuan, Customs said, while exports were down 1.8 percent to 14.14 trillion yuan…

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

Urgent Meeting Called to Address Hospital Security After Police Officer Shot at Nepean Hospital

An altercation with a man at Nepean Hospital in Sydney’s west has left a police officer and a security guard with gunshot wounds after the man stole the police officer’s gun during a struggle. Vision: Today Show, Channel Nine

NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner has convened an urgent meeting to discuss upgrading security in the state’s hospitals after an ice-crazed patient allegedly attempted to shoot dead a police officer.

Michael De Guzman, a 39-year-old registered nurse, allegedly held a pair of scissors to the throat of a female doctor in Nepean Hospital’s emergency department on Tuesday night, screaming that he was “gonna kill” following an argument with his wife.

Senior Constable Luke Warburton and his dog Chuck were involved in the arrest of Malcolm Naden in 2012. Photo: David Darcy

The ice-addicted patient, who had been admitted to the hospital’s emergency ward twice throughout the day, then scuffled with a police officer and a security guard, allegedly shooting both men when he tried to grab the officer’s gun from its holster.

Senior Constable Luke Warburton, a decorated Dog Squad officer who was instrumental in the arrest of notorious fugitive Malcolm Naden, was hit in the upper thigh in front of terrified patients and staff just before 10.30pm.

He remained in a serious condition on Wednesday night. The security guard, 48-year-old Barry Jennings, was hit in the calf and remained in a stable condition…

           — Hat tip: Dean [Return to headlines]

Luis Fleischman & Nancy Menges: Hope for Guatemala and Its People

Latin America is undergoing a number of different developments as some countries are experiencing deterioration of democracy, drug trafficking and insecurity, while others are developing in more democratic ways and maintaining a stable system of government.

But there are also countries whose objective situation is appalling but fight against the pathologies that affect them. Guatemala is one such country.

Guatemala has been submerged in a state of chaos, anarchy, and insecurity for a long time. The political class is corrupt and drug trafficking is rampant. Still the country surprised everyone when its population and its public institutions forced its president to resign last September in light of a corruption scandal.

It was the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and Guatemala’s State prosecutors who after gathering information accused a number of politicians in the administration of president Otto Perez Molina of establishing a corruption ring within the Tax and Customs Administration. This network enabled “imported” merchandise and products to be sold in the country with very low custom duties. All that was needed was the payment of bribes. This ring was called “La Linea” (the telephone line”) because there was a number that any foreign company could call if it wished to benefit from “reduced” custom duties.

The Guatemalan police arrested a good number of officers in the Perez Molina Administration. It finally became evident, after the interception of phone conversations, that the President, himself, along with his vice-president masterminded the operation. The Vice-President, Roxana Baldetti was arrested almost like a common criminal while the president resigned…

[Return to headlines]

Austria Reveals 90,000 Asylum Claims in 2015

Austria registered 90,000 asylum claims in 2015, government figures showed Tuesday, a rise of more than 200 percent compared to 28,000 the year before and just 11,000 in 2010.

Afghans topped the list of requests by nationality with 25,202 asylum claims closely followed by 25,064 fleeing the civil war in Syria and 13,258 Iraqis, the interior ministry data showed.

The number was however considerably under the record of 170,000 set in 1956 when the Soviet Union crushed an uprising in Budapest and large numbers of Hungarians fled to neighbouring Austria…

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

Danish Lawmakers Mull Proposal to Take Refugees’ Cash

In return for staying at a Danish refugee centre, Iranian software engineer Sarah Alimalayeri said she was happy to hand over the gold bracelet and necklace she was wearing, but not her pendant.

“You can’t take everything, but this is a good balance,” she said.

The 24-year-old migrant is an unlikely supporter of a controversial bill due to be discussed in the Danish parliament on Wednesday, which would allow police to seize migrants’ valuables to pay for their stay in asylum centres if it is passed later this month…

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

Italy: Sentencing Requested in Disabled Woman Gang Rape

Suspects from Somalia, Ghana, Nigeria

(ANSA) — Turin, January 13 — The Turin prosecutor’s office on Wednesday requested sentencing for three migrants accused of gang raping and beating a mentally disabled woman last May.

The men, aged 27, 30, and 31, are from Somalia, Ghana, and Nigeria, respectively.

The crime took place in the abandoned Olympic Village on the outskirts of Turin, which now serves as a de facto residence for refugees, migrants and the homeless who have been squatting there for more than two years.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Swedish Press Conceals Migrant Crimes Due to Loyalty to Government

The fact that the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter — one of the major country’s media sources — did not write about numerous sexual harassment cases involving migrants raises questions about Europe’s commitment to such principles as freedom of speech and expression.

Numerous sexual assaults have been revealed to have taken place during the youth festival ‘We are Sthlm’ in August 2015.

Major Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, however, did not given any information on the issue. The media source explained it with the lack of relevant data and the fact that the police thoroughly “silenced” the incidents.

“Police kept silent about sexual harassment cases at the festival,” Dagens Nyheter stated, denying its guilt.

The newspaper explained that it had only one source of information who wished to stay anonymous and could not get any additional confirmation from the police.

However, according to an investigation of another Swedish newspaper Nyheter Idag, Dagens Nyheter was unwilling to draw attention to such “sensitive” subjects because of its loyalty to the country’s government.

Nyheter Idag published the evidence confirming that the excuse with “the only source of information” was a lie.

It turned out that DN journalists had contact with a policeman, who was deployed during the festival and therefore were able to acquire any necessary confirmation “at first hand.” Moreover, the policeman said he was willing to talk about the sexual assaults and even tried to initiate a conversation on the issue, but DN seemingly tried to avoid the subject.

Apparently, the newspaper was loyal to the government and did not want to cover the sensible issue, fearing that it would “play into the hands “of nationalists and worsen the situation. Choosing between the loyalty and journalist ethics, it opted for the first and concealed important facts, Nyheter Idag concluded.

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

7 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 1/13/2016

  1. “In other news, a car mysteriously exploded today on the M11 near Cambridge in England, creating a fireball and killing the driver of the car”.

    I think in the Soccer world they would call that an “own goal”

  2. Considering what they put on (anti)social media, why would the publication of a sex video bother the girl ?

  3. Odin’s Soldiers

    Finnish Men have decided to guard their population against invaders aka “refugees”/asylum seekers/welfare migrants. One significant question arises, where in the world at any time, did peoples NOT protect themselves against invaders?

    They call themselves Soldiers of Odin, after the Norse god Odin.


    When it comes to Odin himself, and his origines, given islamic history around the time of the Vikings, it should not come as any surprise that Odin’s origins may very well be Caucasian, from the Caucasus regions.

    Odin – Udin, Uddin….

    The name speaks for itself

    • Go Finns!
      Evidently they don’t know (or, more likely, don ‘t care) that ANY mention of anything even vaguely Viking, Nordic, will IMMEDIATELY be portrayed as ‘Nazi’ by the Euro press/TV/politicians/intelligentsia/all the other usual suspects.

      • More likely, Do Not Care.

        They must be fully aware of how the PC press would treat any news about them. This may even have enforced their determination to using this name.

Comments are closed.