Gates of Vienna News Feed 1/16/2016

Austria has tightened its border controls even further, instituting comprehensive checks along its border with Slovenia and temporarily suspending its compliance with the Schengen Agreement. Meanwhile, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is proposing to finance measures that deal with the “refugee” crisis by imposing a new petrol tax on EU member states. And the Jewish Agency in Italy reports that 353 Italian Jews emigrated to Israel last year, which according to some sources is more than 1% of the Jewish population in Italy, while others say 0.1%.

In other news, gunmen wearing turbans attacked a major hotel in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, killing an undetermined number of people and taking hostages. The kinetic activists who staged the attack are reportedly affiliated with Al Qaeda.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, Jerry Gordon, ThinkofEngland, 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
» Canadians Panic as Food Prices Soar on Collapsing Currency
» Drone Legislation to Require Owners to Buy Insurance, Get License Plates — Constant GPS Tracking
» In Need of Repairs: US Navy’s $2 Billion Ships Don’t Hold Up on High Seas
» Obama Administration Bankrupting Coal
» RNC Scuttles Impeachment in Committee Vote
» Silicon Valley Appears Open to Helping US Spy Agencies After Terrorism Summit
» World’s Largest Retaiter Wal-Mart Plans to Close 269 Stores Globally
Europe and the EU
» Austria to Impose Controls as Europe Borders on Chaos
» Donald Trump ‘Should Visit Brixton’ To be Educated, UK MP Tells Sputnik
» European Liberal Left Leaves Europe in Decay. Blames the Victim for Failed Policies
» France Mobilizes 40,000 Reservists to Boost National Security
» French Say ‘Non, Merci’ To Encryption Backdoors
» Italy: Grillo Says PD Also Faces ‘Thorny Issue’ In Local Council
» Italy: Mogherini Says Stupid to Create Divisions in EU
» Italy: CGIL Chief Sees Too Many Limits on Labor Negotiations
» Italy: ‘We Never Insulted EC’ Says Gozi
» Italy: ‘We Won’t be Intimidated’ Renzi Tells Juncker
» Italy: Four AMX Planes Deployed at Trapani
» Italy: Marketing Strategy Prepped for Cannabis Legalization
» Juncker Says Euro Will End Too if Schengen Collapses
» Juncker Blasts Renzi for Offending Commission
» London Police to Train 600 Extra Firearms Officers to Counter Terror Threat
» Police Identify Last Paris Attack Suicide Bomber Akroub, A Belgian Moroccan National
» Portugal Court OKs Ex-CIA Agent Extradition to Italy for Imam Snatch
» Relations Between Italy-EC Not the Best Says Juncker
» Several EU States Not Ready to Abolish Visas With Corrupt Ukraine — Source
» Sex Attack: Migrant Teens Assault Women on Belgian Train
» The Cologne Attacks Are Affecting Everyone
» UK: Alleged Gay Serial Killer Stephen Port to Stand Trial in October
» UK: CCTV Video Shows a Woman Attempting to Stab a 15-Year-Old Boy on London Bus
North Africa
» France ‘Must Act Bold, ‘ Land Troops in Libya Before Daesh Comes to Europe
» Military Intervention in Libya Would be Big Mistake Says Gentiloni
» Report: Rescue Team on Way to Benghazi Turned Back
» Tunisia to Boost Arms Procurement to Combat Terrorism — Envoy to Russia
Middle East
» Jailed Turkish Newspaper Editor Pens Open Letter to Renzi
» Lebanon: 35 Mln Euros From EU for Waste Treatment
» Not Welcome: Mayor of Ankara Calls for US Ambassador to Leave Turkey
» Qatar to Hike Petrol Prices by 30%
» Soros’ Agenda? Madaya Town Hype ‘Aimed at Derailing Syrian Peace Process’
» Turkey:12 Academics Arrested for Appeal Pro-Peace With Kurds
» US Iran Prisoner Swap- “Another Questionable Executive Action by the Administration”
» Aerial Revolution: Russia Tests Flamethrower-Equipped Multicopter
» George Soros-Funded Books Burned in Russia
South Asia
» Mining in Afghanistan: Another Failed Program, Half a Billion Dollars Later
» Pakistani Boy Cuts Off Own Hand After Blasphemy Mistake: Police
» Pakistan Raid Against Fundamentalist Madrassas Nets Scores of Arrests
Far East
» Tsai Ing-Wen Becomes Taiwan’s First Female President
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Al Shabaab Fighters Storm African Union Base in Somalia
» Gunmen Attack Hotel: Take Hostages in Burkina Faso Capital
» 353 Italian Jews Emigrated to Israel Last Year
» As Danes Debate: Swiss Already Seizing Refugees’ Cash
» As Germany Welcomes Migrants, Sexual Attacks in Cologne Point to a New Reality
» Austria Turns Tougher on Migrants
» Austria Suspends Schengen, Imposes Border Control Amid Refugee Crisis
» Bundestag Approves Identity Card for Refugees
» Canadians to be Unaffected by 10,000 Syrian Refugees — Immigration Minister
» Deal Needed on 3 Bn for Turkey Needed Despite Italian Opposition Says Dijsselbloem
» German Ruling Party Hopes to Pass Refugee Deportation Law Within Weeks
» German Politician Sends Refugee Bus Home After Merkel’s Snub
» German Minister Eyes Europe Petrol Tax to Pay for Migrant Crisis
» Immigration to Israel by European Jews Hits a High as Anti-Semitic Attacks Rise
» Islamist Fighters in Germany: Less People Leaving, More Coming Home
» Italy: EU to Change Rules on Migration in 2016
» Majority of Germans Believe Merkel Unable to Resolve Current Refugee Crisis
» Migrants Feel Chill as Europe Tightens Frontier Checks
» Muslims ‘Bully: Persecute and Harass’ Christians in German Refugee Camps
» One Million Refugees Will Try to Enter Europe in 2016, UN Predicts
» ‘Quotas Are Meaningless’: Czech Minister Criticizes EU Refugee Policies
» Refugees Banned From Pool in Germany After Girls Complain
» Swiss to Seize Assets From Refugees to Cover Costs
» Ten Theses on Immigration
Culture Wars
» Italy: PD Catholics Seek to Water Down Civil Unions Bill
» Why Are People Arguing About ‘Black Girl Magic’?

Canadians Panic as Food Prices Soar on Collapsing Currency

Canada is struggling through a dramatic economic adjustment, especially in Alberta, the heart of the country’s oil patch. Amid the ongoing crude carnage the province has seen soaring property crime, rising food bank usage and, sadly, elevated suicide rates, as Albertans struggle to comprehend how things up north could have gone south (so to speak) so quickly.

The plunging loonie “can only serve to worsen the death of the ‘Canadian Dream’“ we said on Tuesday.

As it turns out, we were right.

The currency’s decline is having a pronounced effect on Canadians’ grocery bills.

As Bloomberg reminds us, Canada imports around 80% of its fresh fruits and vegetables. When the loonie slides, prices for those goods soar. “With lower-income households tending to spend a larger portion of income on food, this side effect of a soft currency brings them the most acute stress” Bloomberg continues.

Of course with the layoffs piling up, you can expect more households to fall into the “lower-income” category where they will have to fight to afford things like $3 cucumbers, $8 cauliflower, and $15 Frosted Flakes.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Drone Legislation to Require Owners to Buy Insurance, Get License Plates — Constant GPS Tracking

Los Angeles, CA — Assemblyman Mike Gatto Southern of California lawmaker introduced legislation this week that would require owners of drones to get insurance and license plates, similar to the requirements for motor vehicles. The bill is called the Drone Registration/Omnibus Negligence-prevention Enactment (DRONE) Act of 2016 and would tighten the restrictions on personal drones even further than they have been already.

“If cars have license plates and insurance, drones should have the equivalent, so they can be properly identified, and owners can be held financially responsible, whenever injuries, interference, or property damage occurs,” Gatto told CBS.

The bill has technical requirements as well and would require all personal drones to be tracked by GPS and an automatic shut off to prevent them from crossing paths with airplanes.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

In Need of Repairs: US Navy’s $2 Billion Ships Don’t Hold Up on High Seas

The US Navy is spending millions of dollars to repair new high-speed transport ships whose weak bows cannot withstand stand buffeting from high seas, according to the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester.

The Navy spent about $2.1 billion for a fleet of ten Expeditionary Fast Transports, built by Austal Ltd. Five of the all-aluminum catamarans are in operation, while the others are under construction at an Austal shipyard in Alabama.

In a letter sent to Congress in September, Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation, said all ten ships require reinforcing structure to bridge the twin hulls because of a design change that the Navy adopted at Austal’s recommendation, Bloomberg reported.

“The Navy accepted compromises in the bow structure, presumably to save weight, during the building of these ships,” Gilmore wrote. “Multiple ships of the class have suffered damage to the bow structure.”

So far, the Navy has spent almost $2.4 million strengthening the bows of the first four vessels, according to Bloomberg.

The speedy ships are designed to transport military cargo and troops, and serve as an intermediate between larger, slower vessels and cargo aircraft. They have been deployed to Africa, the Middle East and Singapore

The repairs have made each ship 1,736 pounds heavier and displaced 250 gallons of fuel. Because the repairs are still in progress, there has been no testing yet to verify if the fixes are sufficient.

Even with reinforced structures, the ships cannot sail on the highest seas or travel at their maximum speed, because “encountering a rogue wave” can “result in sea-slam events that causes structural damage to the bow structure,” Gilmore wrote in his report to Congress.

The ships’ latest sea tests also revealed faulty generators that failed much more than anticipated.

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

Obama Administration Bankrupting Coal

WASHINGTON — Institute for Energy Research President Thomas Pyle issued the following statement after the Obama administration announced plans to put a moratorium on new coal leases:

“Throughout his time in office, President Obama has shown complete disregard for the communities and the people left in the wake of his ideological climate agenda. The pattern couldn’t be clearer. Having already destroyed the livelihoods of Appalachian families, the president is now moving to the citizens of the West with this moratorium on coal leasing. The president is perfectly content to destroy the livelihoods of anyone who doesn’t subscribe to his ideology or share his values. For many Americans in the West, the administration’s actions will kill existing jobs and prevent new jobs, raise the cost of living, and damage their way of life.

“This attack on affordable energy doesn’t end with coal. The administration will use this announcement as a springboard to halt oil and natural gas leasing, all in an effort to make his favored energy sources the “preferred” energy sources. As the sun sets on his presidency, this administration has once again made clear that they have no intention of slowing down their costly agenda — no matter who it harms.”

A new IER study shows how opening our federal lands and waters to oil, gas, and coal leasing would increase economic growth, wages, jobs, and federal, state, and local tax revenues. Key findings include:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

RNC Scuttles Impeachment in Committee Vote

At the opening of the January Republican National Committee meeting in Charleston South Carolina Wednesday, the RNC Resolutions Committee was forced to vote on a RNC Resolution known as the Agema Resolution, supporting the proper Impeachment of Barack Hussein Obama for his many crimes of treason, tyranny and treachery against the United States and the people.

The nine member Resolutions Committee chaired by Carolyn McLarty of Oklahoma, voted unanimously to kill the Agema Resolution in committee, preventing the full body of the RNC from ever having a vote or voice on the measure in the full meeting scheduled for Friday January 15.

Not one member of the RNC Resolutions Committee supported the Agema Resolution to impeach what is admittedly the most impeachable administration in U.S. history. Not even known acts of treason and tyranny by the Obama Administration, not the Iran deal, or even Obama’s recent unilateral gun grab EO (Executive Order) just a week ago, was enough to cause the leadership of the Republican Party to support a resolution on impeachment.

The nine members of the RNC Resolutions Committee who blocked the measure from the full body are as follows…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Silicon Valley Appears Open to Helping US Spy Agencies After Terrorism Summit

Technology giants appeared to be open to helping the US government combat Islamic State during an extraordinary closed-door summit on Friday that brought together America’s most senior counter-terrorism officials with some of Silicon Valley’s most powerful executives.

The remarkable rendezvous between Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and others and a delegation from the White House revealed a willingness on the part of tech firms to work with the government, and indicated that the Obama administration appears to have concluded it can’t combat terrorists online on its own.

Top officials — including National Security Agency director Michael Rogers, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and FBI director James Comey — appeared to want to know how they could launch a social media campaign to discredit Isis, a person familiar with the conversation said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

World’s Largest Retaiter Wal-Mart Plans to Close 269 Stores Globally

World’s largest retailer Wal-Mart will close 269 stores across the globe, 154 of which are located in the United States, the company said in a press release on Friday.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — At present, Wal-Mart operates approximately 11,600 stores worldwide. The company’s management reviewed their performance and alignment with long-term plans prior to announcing the cuts, according to the release.

“Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. today announced plans to close 269 stores in the US and globally,” the press release stated.

The majority of the corporation’s stores abroad that will be closed are located in Latin America, including 60 in Brazil.

“It’s important to remember that we’ll open well more than 300 stores around the world next year,” Wal-Mart President Doug McMillon assured.

The stores closure will impact about 16,000 employees, 10,000 of whom are in the United States, according to the release.

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

Austria to Impose Controls as Europe Borders on Chaos

Austria is seeking the backing of Germany to impose more controls along its borders with Croatia and Slovenia, in the latest move to tear up the Schengen agreement on a borderless Europe amid the refugee crisis.

Austria has been overwhelmed by refugees flooding through from Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia — all making for Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel famously declared its door open to refugees, precipitating the refugee crisis.

Vienna has been under more pressure, since Germany imposed controls along its border with Austria, sending more refugees back into the country, following protests from the President-Minister of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, who said the southern German state could not cope with the influx.

Austria is seeking the support of Germany to send its own police into Slovenia and Croatia in an effort to check the flow of refugees arriving in Austria. According to Der Spiegel, the governments in Vienna, Ljubljana and Zagreb are in talks over the possible deployment of Austrian police on the Slovenian or Croatian border.

In particular, the governments are aiming to put more resources into checking for false documents — an issue that has gained importance following the November 13 Paris attacks, which exposed the ease with which the attackers were able to travel freely around Europe without being identified.

Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said she predicts other countries will follow.

“There is a domino effect from the north to the south. This is a good thing. We need a thrust reverser and must set the limits of refugees,” she said.

Bordering on Chaos

Greece, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Finland Austria and Germany itself have all imposed some form of border control — ranging from simply document checks to razor wire fences.

Austria’s latest move — and, in particular, it’s plea for German support — is further evidence that one of the core principles of the European union — a borderless Europe — lies in tatters and that the refugee crisis — which began with Merkel opening its doors — is now out of control.

Merkel admitted this week that Europe was now “vulnerable” because it does not have the “order or control” of the situation. She warned that the euro single currency was “directly linked” to freedom of movement in Europe and if countries continued shutting their borders, the European single market would “suffer acutely.”

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

Donald Trump ‘Should Visit Brixton’ To be Educated, UK MP Tells Sputnik

Members of Britain’s parliament will spend three hours debating a motion whether to ban US Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump from the UK for three hours, the House of Commons has confirmed.

The petition launched in Scotland has gathered more than 570,000 signatures, calling for Trump to be banned from entering the UK on hate speech grounds, which means is must be debated by parliamentarians.

“Three hours is an appropriate time for a matter that more than 600,000 people think is important,” Labour MP Paul Flynn and leader of the debate told Sputnik.

“This is a people’s agenda — not a politician’s agenda,” he added.

“The petitions committee facilitate debate on a subject the government and opposition seek to avoid. We should allow debates to take place.”

Paul Flynn believes that there is a strong argument that Donald Trump has indulged in hate speech after “mocking the disabled, degrading women and insulting Mexicans and Muslims.”

“I think it is right a possible bar should be considered because of past precedents where people have been forbidden from coming to the country,” he said. However, the Labour MP warned that that a ban could also backfire.

“The difficulty is because he [Donald Trump] is an important political figure, a ban could be counterproductive,” Paul Flynn told Sputnik.

“As it was with Dutch politician Geert Wilders; he was banned on account of his extreme right-wing views but appealed against the ban and was allowed in. The publicity of the ban multiplied the support for Geert Wilders.

“The last thing we want to do is garland Trump with sense of victimhood or martyrdom which might assist him amongst his supporters in the US,” said Flynn.

Instead of just banning Donald Trump from entering Britain, leader of the debate Paul Flynn suggests MPs could invite him on a tour of London.

“We could invite him here and perhaps he can show us where the no-go areas for police are?

“Maybe we could take him for a walk down Brixton to show him the racial harmony. It would be spiritually educational for him,” he added.

Paul Flynn also believes it could be an opportunity for MPs to put America’s gun laws under the spotlight.

“Maybe we could ask him why there are more people killed in the US with guns every day than are killed in Britain per year?”

In the issue of balance, the debate on Monday 18 January will also include a less popular petition urging MPs not to ban the US Republican presidential candidate.

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

European Liberal Left Leaves Europe in Decay. Blames the Victim for Failed Policies

Swedish Foreign Minister, Margot Wallstrom, a regular anti-Israel provocateur, however demanded an international investigation into what she called “extrajudicial killings of Palestinians” in order to bring about “possible accountability.”

Her demand was yet another of her public acts of anti-Israelism. As with her past statements, she ignored Palestinian-incited mass terrorism against Israel and, instead, targeted the Israeli victim for possible prosecution.

Wallstrom has a talent for finding Israel guilty for all of Sweden’s woes. When, according to Swedish intelligence, over two hundred Swedes were reported to have joined ISIS, Wallstrom pointed at Israel when she said, “Clearly we have a reason to be worried not only here in Sweden but around the world because there are so many who are being radicalized. Here again, you come back to situations like that in the Middle East where not least there isn’t any future. The Palestinians either have to accept a desperate situation or resort to violence,” implying that Israel is responsible for the radicalization that is driving so many Swedes into the arms of Islamic terror groups.

Wallstrom is typical of the political sickness that has swept Europe and America. Her attitude of blaming the victim makes her a kindred political spirit to the Mayor of Cologne, Henriette Reker, who told the women of her city that they should have kept an “arm’s length” distance of the thousand migrant men that raped, sexually abused, and robbed almost two hundred German females in the central Cologne square on New Years Eve.

This is yet another example of a left-wing pro-immigration politician blaming the victim.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

France Mobilizes 40,000 Reservists to Boost National Security

French President Francois Hollande announced Thursday the mobilization of 40,000 reservists, up from 28,000, to boost the country’s security.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The decision may be related to a series of coordinated attacks in the French capital on November 13, killing 130 people and injuring over 350 others.

“I have asked [Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian] that the number of reservists be increased to 40,000, against the current 28,000,” Hollande said, as quoted by the Elysee Palace on Twitter.

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

French Say ‘Non, Merci’ To Encryption Backdoors

The French government has rejected an amendment to its forthcoming Digital Republic law that required backdoors in encryption systems.

Axelle Lemaire, the Euro nation’s digital affairs minister, shot down the amendment during the committee stage of the forthcoming omnibus digital bill, saying it would be counterproductive and would leave personal data unprotected.

“Recent events show how the fact of introducing faults deliberately at the request — sometimes even without knowing — the intelligence agencies has an effect that is harming the whole community,” she said according to Numerama.

“Even if the intention [to empower the police] is laudable, it also opens the door to the players who have less laudable intentions, not to mention the potential for economic damage to the credibility of companies planning these flaws. You are right to fuel the debate, but this is not the right solution according to the Government’s opinion.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Italy: Grillo Says PD Also Faces ‘Thorny Issue’ In Local Council

M5S leader says case touches PM Renzi’s sister

(ANSA) — Rome, January 13 — Italy’s anti-establishment 5-Star Movement leader (M5S) Beppe Grillo drew attention on Wednesday to an investigation of the town council of Castenaso in Bologna province, where Premier Matteo Renzi’s sister is serving as councillor.

Grillo, whose own movement faces a scandal over Camorra mafia infiltration in the council of Quarto, wrote on his blog that Renzi’s Democratic Party (PD) faces a “thorny issue” in Castenaso.

He pointed out that the PD mayor running Castenaso, Stefano Sermenghi, is under investigation for allegedly threatening another local mayor for blocking the construction of a new residential complex in the area.

The M5S mayor of Quarto near Naples, Rosa Capuozzo, returned to her offices on Wednesday even though her party has expelled her over a mafia infiltration case.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Mogherini Says Stupid to Create Divisions in EU

EU foreign affairs rep says Italy-Europe need each other

(ANSA) — Rome, January 15 — Federica Mogherini, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, said Friday that creating division within the block was senseless, when asked to comment on European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s attack on Italian Premier Matteo Renzi. “It’s stupid to create divisions within Europe,” said Mogherini, who served as Italian foreign minister under Renzi before being nominated to her current post. “The Europeans need to be united when faced with the many crises that exist,” she told reporters during a visit to the Community of Sant’Egidio in Rome. “Italy needs Europe like Europe needs Italy”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: CGIL Chief Sees Too Many Limits on Labor Negotiations

Camusso says lawmakers need to take a step back

(ANSA) — Turin, January 13 — CGIL trade union chief Susanna Camusso said on Wednesday that Italy’s governments have slowly whittled away at the room for negotiation on work contracts, fuelling fragmentation in the labour market.

“Under the guise of deregulation, the world of work has fragmented… with the consequence that it is very complicated to (arrive at) equality and universal rights,” Camusso said on the sidelines of a CGIL meeting in Turin.

She said lawmakers need to back off, because not allowing discussions of work contracts is tantamount to “subtracting freedom and collective protection”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: ‘We Never Insulted EC’ Says Gozi

Bu ‘not time for inertia’ says undersecretary for EU

(ANSA) — Rome, January 15 — Italy has never insulted the European Commission despite EC President Jean-Claude Juncker’s assertion that Premier Matteo Renzi has unfairly criticised it, the foreign undersecretary for European affairs, Sandro Gozi, said Friday.

Stressing that it was, however, “not the time for putting things off or inertia,” Gozi said “we have never insulted the Commission and have never meant to offend anyone”.

He said that “we are very committed towards change in the EU and we have said and done this since the start of the Renzi government and above all in the duty presidency of the EU”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: ‘We Won’t be Intimidated’ Renzi Tells Juncker

‘Italy deserves respect’

(ANSA) — Rome, January 15 — Premier Matteo Renzi responded to Jean-Claude Juncker’s criticism about his alleged complaints on the European Commission Friday by saying “we won’t be intimidated”. Speaking to TG5, he said “Italy deserves respect”.

Renzi stressed that the EC, in his view, had only conceded flexibility on budget spending “after a lot of insistence on Italy’s part”. Juncker earlier hit back at growing criticism of the EU executive from Renzi in an unusual frontal attack on a member State’s head of government.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Four AMX Planes Deployed at Trapani

‘Worsened security conditions’

(ANSA) — Rome, January 15 — Italy on Friday deployed four AMX attack aircraft at its base in the western Sicilian city of Trapani. The defence chiefs of staff said the decision was taken “following the recent developments in the area of the countries of North Africa and the consequent deterioration of the security conditions”. The so-called Ghibli planes will be used for reconnaissance purposes and not for bombing, to monitor the situation in North Africa, military sources said.

The AMX is a ground-attack aircraft for battlefield interdiction, close air support and reconnaissance missions.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Marketing Strategy Prepped for Cannabis Legalization

Minister denies any other use than therapeutic considered

(ANSA) — Rome, January 12 — A group of Italian agronomists and entrepreneurs have begun to lay the foundations for the sale and marketing of cannabis, saying that it will soon no longer be illegal. Though both growing and selling marijuana is currently illegal in Italy, many people smoke it. Debate has long raged over whether or not it should be made legal as in some other countries, but the road ahead looks steep after Justice Minister Andrea Orlando on Monday ruled out the legalization of the substance for any uses other than therapeutic ones. The identities of those organizing a future franchising of marijuana cannot be known — for obvious reasons — but the objective is clear: preside over a market with enormous potential that will eventually open up, and get there before others do when the time comes. The Nativa brand name has been created, which for the moment only exists as an online idea to understand “market interest in this business proposal” as well as “come in ahead of the other players and thereby be the first in consumers’ imaginations with a strong, elegant brand that is tied to the high-quality agro-food traditions that Italy has long been known for around the world”. “We are certain that 2016 will be the year that marijuana is legalised,” Nativa’s management say, “and we have decided to bet on this. Once the market emerges, there will be many possible ways to make use of these opportunities. We spent a large portion of 2015 looking into what the best marketing strategy is, shaping a business idea that we had long had and studying its costs, critical issues and feasibility.” The idea would see single-brand shops in Italy’s major cities and open-air farms in such areas as Chianti, Salento and Cilento, with products that are entirely natural and grown in the soil (no hydroponic cultivation) and only marijuana for smoking. They say that it is a matter of “making marijuana into a high-quality product that brings together the undisputed knowledge of our farmers and a specific know-how that Italy has always had in cannabis growing”. Italians consume an estimated 3 million kg of cannabis annually. A Nativa survey on 500 regular marijuana smokers showed that 65% of respondents are forced to make do with what they find and, of they could, would choose to smoke like in other countries in the world (85%). Most do not feel guilty about smoking (76%) and believe that the current law doesn’t make sense (85%).

The quality that Italian consumers manage to get is often very low, but there is no awareness of what one is smoking other than the look, smell and effect of it as well as the presence of seeds. Almost all marijuana consumers agree that the media do not provide quality information on the issue (92%).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Juncker Says Euro Will End Too if Schengen Collapses

EC chief ‘struck by fragility of EU’

(ANSA) — Brussels, January 15 — European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned Friday that if the Schengen agreement on the free movement of people collapses due to security concerns, the euro may end too. “No one talks about the link between Schengen and the free circulation of capital,” Juncker said. “The end of Schengen would threaten to end the economic and monetary union and the problem of unemployment would become even more significant. It’s necessary to look at things as a whole”. He stressed that border controls are costly, saying those between Sweden and Denmark cost 300 million euros and those between Germany and Denmark cost 90 million. He also lambasted the EU member States for the frequent divisions shown, mentioning issues such as the refugee crisis, terrorism, the Ukraine conflict and relations with Russia.

“I’m struck by the fragility of the EU and the rifts that have occurred or are already announced,” he said in his start-of-year news conference.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Juncker Blasts Renzi for Offending Commission

EC president says premier attacks at every opportunity

(ANSA) — Brussels, January 15 — European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday hit back a criticism of the EU executive from Italian Premier Matteo Renzi. “I think that the Italian prime minister, whom I love very much, is wrong to offend the Commission at every opportunity, I don’t see why he does it,” he said. “In truth, Italy should not criticise it too much. We have introduced (budget) flexibility against the will of member States who some say dominate Europe”. Juncker admitted that relations between the EC and Italy were not going well at the moment. “I’ll probably go to Italy at the end of February because the atmosphere between Italy and the Commission is not the best,” Juncker said. “Renzi always complains that I have not been to Italy since I became president”.

Renzi has frequently criticised the European Union, saying it is too focused on budget austerity and dominated by bureaucrats and does not give enough importance to promoting growth and employment.

Rome also reacted angrily when the Commission opened infringement proceedings last year against Italy for failing to respect the rules on taking the finger prints of asylum seekers.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

London Police to Train 600 Extra Firearms Officers to Counter Terror Threat

The London Metropolitan Police will increase the number of armed officers by 600 to help counter the threat of a terrorist attack, following the November 13 attacks in Paris, the police said in a statement on Thursday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — At present, there are about 2,200 armed police officers in London. Scotland Yard reassessed its ability to respond to terror attacks after the attacks in Paris on November 13 killed 130 people.

“The Met will now start putting plans in place to raise the number of armed officers that we have by 600,” Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service Bernard Hogan-Howe said, as quoted in the statement.

Hogan-Howe noted that although the move entailed high costs, it was vital for security.

According to the police chief, the threat that London faces “is likely to be a spontaneous attack that requires a fast response to deal with it.”

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

Police Identify Last Paris Attack Suicide Bomber Akroub, A Belgian Moroccan National

The Paris prosecutor has identified a suicide bomber killed during a police raid on the ringleader of the terror attacks. Chakib Akrouh blew himself up on 18 November in St Denis.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Portugal Court OKs Ex-CIA Agent Extradition to Italy for Imam Snatch

De Sousa faces six years in prison in Italy

(ANSA) — Lisbon, January 15 — A Lisbon court has approved the extradition to Italy of Sabrina De Sousa, an ex-CIA agent who was convicted of involvement in the abduction Muslim cleric Hassan Mustafa Omar Nasr from Milan in 2003. De Sousa, who has American and Portuguese nationality, was among 22 CIA agents convicted in Italy in the case of the rendition of the Egyptian cleric, an Islamist suspected of recruiting jihadi fighters.

De Sousa’s lawyer told the Associated Press that she intends to appeal to the Portuguese supreme court and, if that fails, to the Constitutional Court. Nasr, whose case led to the world’s first judicial examination of the controversial practice of rendition in the so-called war on terror, got a prison term of six years for international terrorism in December 2013.

De Sousa, who faces six years in prison if extradited to Italy, has said in interviews the operation had been “approved by Washington” and that she had been “abandoned” by her superiors.

Portuguese authorities seized her passport, pending a decision on her extradition, after she tried to leave the country in October.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Relations Between Italy-EC Not the Best Says Juncker

Commission chief says likely to visit next month

(ANSA) — Brussels, January 15 — European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday admitted that relations between the EC and Italy were not going well at the moment.

“I’ll probably go to Italy at the end of February because the atmosphere between Italy and the Commission is not the best,” Juncker said. “(Premier Matteo) Renzi always complains that I have not been to Italy since I became president”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Several EU States Not Ready to Abolish Visas With Corrupt Ukraine — Source

According to a diplomatic source, some EU member states aren’t ready to introduce a visa-free regime with Ukraine due to Kiev’s corruption issues.

BRUSSELS (Sputnik) — Several members of the European Union are not ready to abolish visa regime with Ukraine because of corruption concerns, a diplomatic source said Friday.

“Some [EU states] consider that the issues of struggle against corruption are raised [during discussion of visa liberalization with Kiev]… There are several member states, which are careful in the issues of visa liberalization independent from the state in question,” the diplomatic source told reporters on condition of anonymity.

The source added that the views on visa-free regime for Ukrainian residents within the Council of the European Union differ.

Ukraine has long sought a visa-free regime with the European Union. The introduction of a visa-free regime for Ukrainian citizens was stated to be a priority for the new authorities in Kiev, after former President Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown in February 2014.

On December 18, the European Commission said in a statement that Ukraine had completed necessary requirements for visa-free regime with the European Union.

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

Sex Attack: Migrant Teens Assault Women on Belgian Train

Three Syrian teenagers have been arrested by Belgian police after they sexually harassed women on a local commuter train, a Belgian newspaper wrote on Friday.

The three 13-year-olds, who had previously applied for asylum in France, were detained minutes after one of the women they accosted on the Brussels-Tourne train alerted the police, Dernière Heure reported.

Police are currently investigating.

The incident happened just as concerns were mounting over the New Year mass assaults in Cologne and several other German cities.

On New Year’s Eve, dozens of women in Cologne were robbed, threatened and sexually assaulted by small groups of aggressive men, mostly of Arab and North African origin.

Security authorities are concerned by the rising number of sex attacks by gangs of migrants which appear to be spreading across Europe.

Finland and Sweden are the latest European countries to have issued warnings to women to be wary of the threat of sex attacks, while Austrian police have advised women not to go outside alone in Vienna.

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

The Cologne Attacks Are Affecting Everyone

After hundreds of women were allegedly groped and sexually assaulted during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Cologne, the atmosphere around the city’s central station remains tense. The consequences are felt everywhere.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UK: Alleged Gay Serial Killer Stephen Port to Stand Trial in October

The gay escort (pictured) gave his victims fatal doses of the party drug GHB before dumping their bodies in a graveyard near his home in Barking, East London, it is alleged.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: CCTV Video Shows a Woman Attempting to Stab a 15-Year-Old Boy on London Bus

CCTV footage captures the moment a woman (pictured) tried to stab a 15-year-old boy with a kitchen knife as he boarded a bus on Brixton Road, in London, with his grandmother.

This is the moment a woman tried to stab a 15-year-old boy with a kitchen knife as he boarded a bus with his grandmother.

Police said the 51-year-old defended her grandson when he was approached by the woman on a route 133 bus on Brixton Road, in south London.

The suspect, who was already on the bus, attacked the boy before his grandmother intervened.

She managed to disarm the suspect, who then got off the bus and fled north towards Oval.

The boy suffered a minor cut to the stomach, the Metropolitan Police said, and the eight-inch knife was later recovered. Police said they were investigating the incident as an ‘attempted stabbing’ as the injury was a slash rather than a puncture wound.

‘The victim’s grandmother intervened and managed to disarm the suspect, who then got off the bus and fled towards Oval.’

The suspect is described as an Asian woman, aged about 20 to 30 years.

She wore a distinctive headscarf with a kangaroo print.

[Comment: Another spontaneous jihad attack. Watch the video.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

France ‘Must Act Bold, ‘ Land Troops in Libya Before Daesh Comes to Europe

France must take bold actions and crush Daesh (Islamic State) militants in Libya before their influence grows stronger in North Africa, French journalist Philippe Bonnet wrote for Boulevard Voltaire.

Currently there are around 5,000 Daesh militants crawling around in Libya, according to the country’s Interior Ministry.

HIS Jane’s magazine reported back in December that Daesh considers Libya as the most favorable country into which it could expand and establish its regional North African “caliphate.”

That’s why Bonnet thinks it’s time for France to start acting bold.

“If we want to defeat [Daesh], we need to smash it in Libya and not allow terrorists to seize the country, the destruction of which we, ourselves, contributed to,” Bonnet said, according to the Boulevard Voltaire.

The author believes if Daesh controls the North African coast, they’d hit Europe next.

According to the author, airstrikes won’t be enough, this time European soldiers should land on the Libyan coast and fight Daesh on their soil to prevent the jihadists from coming over to Europe.

Although only France, Britain and Italy can act military in Libya, the rest of the European Union (EU) should pitch in and help a future anti-Daesh operation financially. The key is to “act as quickly as possible,” Bonnet argued.

Security has been on high alert in Europe since the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, carried out by Daesh militants.

In late December 2015, Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni warned there was a possibility of new terrorist attacks across Europe in the future.

Daesh is considered one of the most serious threats to global security. In three years, the terrorists have seized large parts of Iraq and Syria. They have also been trying to establish their presence in North Africa, particularly in Libya.

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

Military Intervention in Libya Would be Big Mistake Says Gentiloni

Minister of Foreign Affairs interviewed by Le Figaro

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, JANUARY 15 — “In the current phase it’s not possible. It would be a serious mistake. Americans and Europeans are squaring their bets on the stabilisation of the Country” said Italian Foreign Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, during an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro, in response to a question on possible military intervention by the coalition in Libya.

Gentiloni said he “does not see an alternative” to the establishment of a government of national unity contributing to the stabilisation of the Country. “Any other scenario — warned the minister — would be dangerous for Libya and for the international community”. “We can contain the terrorist threat in several ways but there are no other means to stabilise the Country and initiate its reconstruction”, stated Gentiloni reaffirming the need for a government of national unity. “If in a few months we will somberly have to admit that the Libyans have renounced this scenario — he added speaking to Le Figaro — then surely an anti-Isis coalition such as the one in Iraq and Syria will have to be formed but I insist this is not on the agenda today nor tomorrow. Doing this now, would mean certifying that Libyan efforts are destined to failure. If we had to intervene against terrorism we would wish to do so after a request by the Libyan government in order to support it”.

In the interview the Foreign Minister stressed that “we must not underestimate the threat”, but neither “describe Libya as an Isis province”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Report: Rescue Team on Way to Benghazi Turned Back

(PJ Media) The evidence is overwhelming that the United States had several rescue teams ready to go during the 2012 Benghazi attacks, but someone — possibly the president himself — prevented them from acting. So said Emmy Award-winning journalist Sharyl Attkisson to talk show host Steve Malzberg in an interview on Wednesday.

This week on her show, “Full Measure,” Attkisson looked into the aborted rescue mission in an in-depth two-part report, “Rescue Interrupted,” which you can watch here and here. She spoke with a Green Beret commander who told her that there were actually Special Forces on their way to Benghazi who were turned back.

Col. Andrew Wood had once commanded a Special Forces anti-terrorism team protecting Ambassador Chis Stevens and other diplomats in Libya. In October of 2012, Woods told Congress that one month before the attacks in Benghazi, his team had been removed from Libya by the Obama administration, despite the numerous warnings of impending terrorist attacks. Wood told Attkisson that Special Forces (the ones mentioned in the “spinning up” email from Jeremy Bash) were on their way to Benghazi, but were ordered to turn back.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Tunisia to Boost Arms Procurement to Combat Terrorism — Envoy to Russia

Tunisia’s government will boost expenditures on the country’s military and security capabilities.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Tunisia’s authorities have decided to boost government expenditure on the country’s military capabilities in order to withstand the terrorist threat, Tunisian Ambassador to Russia Ali Goutali said Friday.

“Tunisia has devoted very little attention to developing military production and procuring arms. We have devoted much more attention to education and the social sphere. Now, however, we must increase our expenditures on the military and on security…We are forced to do this, we must strengthen our armed forces for successfully countering terrorism,” Gutali said during a press conference at Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency.

Tunisia has seen increased terrorist activity since the 2011 Jasmine Revolution toppled the country’s long-time leader Zine Abidine Ben Ali.

On March 18, 2015, a group of gunmen killed 22 tourists at the National Bardo Museum near the parliament building in the capital Tunis. Daesh terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Daesh militants have carried out a suicide attack in the country in August, killing 38 holidaymakers on a beach in the town of Sousse.

In November, a Daesh bomb hit a presidential guard bus in Tunis. Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi declared shortly a state of emergency saying the country was at war against terrorism. Late December, the state of emergency was extended for another two months.

Tunisia has also been the leading country of origin for extremist recruits for Daesh. The International Centre for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence has placed Tunisia next to Saudi Arabia in terms of the number of citizens involved with radical jihadist organizations in Syria and Iraq, estimating the number to be between 1,500 and 3,000. Throughout late 2015, Tunisian security forces have made scores of arrests, detaining Daesh ecruiters.

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

Jailed Turkish Newspaper Editor Pens Open Letter to Renzi

Appeals to premier not to ignore violations of human rights

(ANSA) — Istanbul, January 15 — Turkish daily Cumhuriyet on Friday printed an open letter to Italian Premier Matteo Renzi written by its jailed editor-in-chief, Can Dundar, appealing to the premier to not ignore violations of human rights in Turkey in exchange for an agreement on the migrant crisis.

Dundar was imprisoned last November together with Cumhuriyet’s Ankara correspondent Erdem Gul for an investigative report they ran into the alleged passage of weapons from Turkey to Syria.

In the letter, Dundar said “there are currently more arrested journalists in Turkish prisons than in those of Syria” and also recalled “the intimate friendship” between former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi and current Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan had said the two would “pay a high price” for having published their report.

The pair are accused of espionage and terrorist propaganda.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Lebanon: 35 Mln Euros From EU for Waste Treatment

Five-year projects presented for emergency

Temporary garbage dump in Beirut [ARCHIVE MATERIAL 20151101 ]

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, JANUARY 14 — Two five-year projects funded by the European Union with 35 million euros have been started in Lebanon to help solve the problem of waste management, which has become serious due to the presence in the country of over one million Syrian refugees.

The initiative was presented by the head of the EU delegation in Beirut, Christina Lassen, and by the minister for administrative reform, Nabil De Freige.

The projects, called Swam I e Swam II provide for the construction or enlargement of eight new dumps and eight plants to treat solid waste as well as the provision of garbage cans and trucks to collect waste, along with waste compactors.

An estimated two million citizens across 280 Libyan municipalities will benefit from these initiatives.

According to Ambassador Lassen, over 600 jobs will be created and some 2,395 tons of waste will be treated every day.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Not Welcome: Mayor of Ankara Calls for US Ambassador to Leave Turkey

Mayor of the Turkish capital of Ankara Ibrahim Melih Gokcek on Friday called for US Ambassador to Turkey John Bass to leave the country, because of his position on recent detentions in the country.

ANKARA (Sputnik) — Earlier in the day, Bass voiced concerns about the detention of 14 Turkish scholars for a public denunciation of Turkish military actions against Kurdish militants. The scholars signed a petition last week calling for an end to Ankara’s violent attacks against Kurds.

“You are the wrong choice for the United States, come back to your country. It will be better if a new ambassador, knowing us, comes. When we are trying to bring the level of US-Turkish relations to the highest level, you are trying to make the Turkish nation an enemy of the United States,” Gokcek said on his Twitter account.

He added that it was not very wise advice to tolerate “terrorist attacks on Turkish police officers and soldiers.”

Turkey’s Kurdish-dominated southeast region has recently seen renewed violence between the Turkish government forces and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party since mid-summer breakdown of a two-year peace process.

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

Qatar to Hike Petrol Prices by 30%

Energy-rich Qatar has decided to raise the cost of petrol by a third or more from Friday, according to the state fuel company, amid a slump in global oil prices.

The surprise hike comes into force from midnight (2100 GMT) and has immediately led to queues at some petrol stations in Qatar, according to social media.

The rises were announced by Woqod, the state fuel company, in a memo sent to petrol station managers on Thursday.

Prices for regular petrol will increase to 1.30 Qatari riyals (35 US cents) a litre from 1.00 riyal…

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

Soros’ Agenda? Madaya Town Hype ‘Aimed at Derailing Syrian Peace Process’

UN head Ban Ki-moon has condemned all parties of the Syrian conflict for creating a humanitarian disaster in the town of Madaya, where people are dying from starvation. Madaya, as media reports say, has been besieged by government forces and has not received food supplies for months.

Vanessa Beeley, an investigative journalist and peace activist, told Radio Sputnik in an exclusive interview that the hype around Madaya is nothing but a propaganda campaign launched by George Soros NGOs and Western countries, which are interested in perpetrating regime change in Syria.

The town received first aid on January 11, but it was seized by local rebels supported by the West. They have raised prices to an unbelievable level — a kilogram of rice costs $250.

In her article, Beeley pointed out that the Western media failed to notice the plight of the villages of Kafraya and Foua in Idlib province, where the situation is worse.

“This is a completely fraudulent media and government campaign to highlight the case of Madaya while ignoring the very real siege and vicious attacks on Kafraya and Foua in the Idlib region which are of course Shia villages.”

The activist further said that it is important to bear in mind that these NGO operatives on the ground who are effectively getting the information outwards are part of ‘George Soros’ malevolent nest of propaganda that has been created in Syria for their purpose. We have regime changing operatives working on the ground in Syria that serve to derail any internal or international resolution.”

She goes on to name the NGOs that, according to her, are Soros funded. Beeley said that NGO’s such as the White Helmets and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights are used to justify the West’s policy of arming and supporting the insurgency in Syria.

When talking about Madaya town, Beeley said that on October 19, a person from the Red Cross went to the town and at that point they left a two-month supply of food there. She went on to explain how the al-Nusra Front and other groups with links to al-Qaeda are occupying Madaya.

“If we think back to operation Mockingbird from the 1950’s, it is not so exaggerated that this speculation is propaganda with the intent of regime change. What we are seeing, in my opinion, is a clear alliance between Israel and Saudi Arabia to ferment sectarian violence in Syria, destabilize Iran and strengthen forces that are a raid against the Hezbollah resistance stronghold in an attempt to undermine the axis of resistance in Syria, which is heated by our fraudulent media and the Soros directed NGOs,” Beeley concluded.

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

Turkey:12 Academics Arrested for Appeal Pro-Peace With Kurds

‘Terrorist propaganda’ pro-PKK, warrant for 9 more professors

A demonstrator flashes the V-sign as participates in a pro-peace rally in Istanbul

ISTANBUL — Turkish police arrested 12 university professors accused of “terrorist propaganda” in favour of the PKK after they signed an appeal calling for a peaceful resolution to the Kurdish issue.

The arrest warrant also regards other 9 academics who have not been apprehended yet, the Anadolu agency reported. The arrest was decided after a ruling by the Kocaeli (south of Istanbul) prosecutor’s office against academics from the local university.

The appeal signed by the arrested professors was launched by a group called ‘Academics for peace’ with the title ‘We will not be part of this crime!’, a reference to the operations Ankara is conducting against the PKK in the Kurdish-majority south-east of the country, where hundreds of people, including many civilians, have been killed since last summer.

Signed so far by 6,492 people, the appeal remains open until tonight and has attracted the support of academics and researchers from dozens of universities, many of which foreign, as well as the signature of Noam Chomsky.

The Anadolu agency reported yesterday that all signatories of the appeal were under investigation. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan harshly attacked them calling their support to the appeal a sign of “treason” towards Turkey, while the Council for Higher Education (Yok) announced punitive actions.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

US Iran Prisoner Swap- “Another Questionable Executive Action by the Administration”

In one fell swoop, Iran has had sanctions lifted Saturday freeing up $100 billion in impounded oil sales revenue. The UN nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, authorized removal of sanctions as the Islamic Regime allegedly met key provisions for compliance with the JCPOA. Those included shipment of 25 million pounds of enriched uranium to Russia, disconnection of the requisite number of centrifuges, and stopping construction of the Arak heavy water plutonium reactor.

However, there was more to come that had been in the works for months. As part of the announced deal there was a prisoner exchange involving four dual US Iranian citizens held hostage by Iran for seven convicted or charged Iranians in an act of Clemency by the President authorized under Article II, Section 2 of the US Constitution. The seven Iranians were granted clemency for their crimes of industrial espionage or acquisition of embargoed sensitive technology equipment under Federal law.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

Aerial Revolution: Russia Tests Flamethrower-Equipped Multicopter

The first multicopter armed with flamethrowers and automatic grenade launchers is undergoing tests in an environment which is designed to resemble combat as closely as possible.

A multicopter is a mechanically simple aerial vehicle; its pilot controls it by speeding up or slowing down multiple propeller units.

The Russian corporation that designed the attack multicopter is putting it to various tests. It is being fired at from the ground to check its survivability. It is also being tested to see if it is able to withstand electronic warfare.

“Copters are demonstrating good results but it is a bit early right now to talk about the end of the tests,” an official from the Joint Instrument-building Corporation said.

Earlier the head of the defense industry, Alexander Yakunin, spoke about multicopters, saying that they are able to provide troops with intelligence, surveillance and transportation. They are also good at combat; they have the ability to dodge bullets.

The copter is much more compact than a conventional UAV; it does not require a runway. It is also much cheaper, making its loss in a battle not especially significant.

“In the shelling they perform special maneuvers, making them almost invulnerable to minor arms,” Yakunin added.

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

George Soros-Funded Books Burned in Russia

Moscow: Russian authorities have burned more than 50 books and removed more than 500 other volumes from university libraries on the grounds they contain sentiments “alien to Russian ideology”.

The books, most of them textbooks, were published with money from the Soros Fund, which in November was declared an “undesirable agent” and forced to stop its work in Russia.

The books were removed from libraries in two universities in the north-western Komi region and some were later burned.

The Komi education minister said in a letter dated Wednesday that the books were destroyed to fulfill an order from a presidential envoy requesting that books published with funds from the Soros Fund be removed from circulation.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Mining in Afghanistan: Another Failed Program, Half a Billion Dollars Later

A damning report from the Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction released on Friday exposes that the United States has spent nearly half a billion dollars and five years developing Afghanistan’s oil, gas and minerals industries — with very meager results.

The United States Agency for International Development and the Pentagon Task Force for Business Stability Operations, had been attempting to develop an “extractive” industry in Afghanistan, to mine valuable minerals and other natural resources in the wartorn country. Raw material commodities are believed to be currently worth some $1 trillion.

The report found that the program is failing due to poorly planned programs, inadequate infrastructure and an unhealthy relationship with the Afghan government. Many mines were found to be operating illegally, with profits going to insurgents, as efforts are hampered by corruption and lack of infrastructure.

“After operating in Afghanistan for 5 years, TFBSO left with nearly all of its extractive projects incomplete,” SIGAR found.

SIGAR reports have consistently found that USAID and the Defense Department have been inadequate in creating stability for the project, and this latest report was no different.

Further, Friday’s report highlights that the US spent $46.5 million to convince privately-held local companies to agree to develop the resources, but not a single entity signed a contract.

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

Pakistani Boy Cuts Off Own Hand After Blasphemy Mistake: Police

A 15-year-old Pakistani boy cut off his own hand believing he had committed blasphemy, only to be celebrated by his parents and neighbours for the act, police told AFP Friday.

Local police chief Nausher Ahmed described how an imam told a gathering at a village mosque that those who love the Prophet Mohammad always say their prayers, then asked who among the crowd had stopped praying.

Mohammad Anwar, 15, raised his hand by mistake after apparently mishearing the question.

The crowd swiftly accused him of blasphemy so he went to his house and cut off the hand he had raised, put it on a plate, and presented it to the cleric, the police chief said…

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

Pakistan Raid Against Fundamentalist Madrassas Nets Scores of Arrests

Pakistani forces go after the militant Jaish-e-Mohammad group, blamed for an attack against an Indian Air Force base. The group’s founder is among those detained. Peace talks with Delhi were the its target.

Islamabad (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Pakistan has shut down several madrassas (religious schools) run by Jaish-e-Mohammad, a militant Islamist group, and arrested 14 people, including its founder, Maulana Masood Azhar.

The group is accused, among other things, of carrying out an attack against India’s Pathankot Air Force Station that left 13 people dead, following a recent meeting between Indian and Pakistani leaders.

The police raid targeted a mosque and seminary near the city of Daska, ostensibly where the order was issued to launch the attack with heavily armed gunmen dressed in Indian army uniforms.

The gun battle, which lasted four days, began on 2 January, some days after the Indian and Pakistani prime ministers, Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif, met in Lahore to launch a surprise peace initiative.

Extremists in both countries are not keen on any rapprochement. Islamic and Hindu fundamentalists oppose “normalisation” between the two nations, once part of the pre-independence British Raj.

Responding to the Pakistani action, India yesterday announced that it would re-schedule diplomatic talks with its neighbour, which had been postponed after the Pathankot attack.

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

Tsai Ing-Wen Becomes Taiwan’s First Female President

Although vote counting is still underway, the leader of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) appears to have secured a landslide victory. Her main opponent, Eric Chu, of the Kuomintang, has already conceded defeat and resigned from the leadership of his party. Chen Chien-je, a Catholic, becomes vice president.

Taipei (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Tsai Ing-wen has been elected Taiwan’s first female president. With most of the votes counted, her party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), has a commanding lead in the Legislative Yuan (parliament).

Following his poor performance, KMT (Nationalist Party) presidential candidate Eric Chu announced his resignation. “Sorry everybody,” he said, “Chu Li-luan has disappointed you. We have failed. We have failed the expectations of all voters. We have failed our responsibilities towards Taiwan”.

Tsai Ing-wen also ran in the 2012 presidential elections (when as the first female presidential candidate she lost to Ma Ying-jeou, with 45 per cent of the votes).

Born in Fangshan in 1956, before becoming DPP leader, she was Minister of the Mainland Affairs Council and Vice Premier (officially vice president of the Executive Yuan) under President Ma Ying-jeou’s predecessor, Chen Shui-bien.

With Tsai Ing-wen’s election, Chen Chien-je, a Catholic and a well known figure in Taiwanese society, becomes vice president.

Since President Lee Teng-hui adopted a policy of “Special state-to-state relations,” which she helped draft, Tsai Ing-wen has moderated her views.

Although she has pledged to maintain peaceful and stable relations with mainland China and wants to meet with Chinese government officials, she remains a supporter of Taiwanese independence, and refuses to support the view that Taiwan is part of “one China”.

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

Al Shabaab Fighters Storm African Union Base in Somalia

Somalia’s al Qaeda-linked Shabaab militants stormed an African Union base Friday in the country’s southwest, the Somali army said, with witnesses reporting several dead.

“They launched an offensive on a military base at El-Adde and there was heavy fighting which caused casualties,” Somali army colonel Idris Ahmed told AFP news agency.

He said a Shabaab suicide commando blasted a way into the base in the Gedo region, which borders Kenya and Ethiopia…

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

Gunmen Attack Hotel: Take Hostages in Burkina Faso Capital

Gunmen battled with security forces outside one of the main hotels in the Burkina Faso capital Ouagadougou on Friday, witnesses and gendarmes said, moments after shots and explosions were heard coming from the hotel.

Unconfirmed witness reports said at least some of the attackers were still holed up inside the hotel. A gendarme source told Reuters that hostages had been taken.

An AFP journalist at the scene reported seeing three men with turbans firing weapons outside the Splendid Hotel, located in a busy, central area of the Burkina Faso capital regularly frequented by United Nations staff and westerners…

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

353 Italian Jews Emigrated to Israel Last Year

Highest since 1948-49, says demographer

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, JANUARY 14 — More Italians emigrated to Israel last year than any other year since 1948-49, Italian-Israeli demographer Sergio Della Pergola told ANSA on Thursday.

The Jewish Agency reported that around 10,000 people from Western Europe moved to Israel in 2015. “At the end of the year, the figure was 353 — which could seem small but it really isn’t,” he said, “compared with the only roughly 30,000 Italian Jews. We’re talking about just over one in 1,000.” Della Pergola stressed that “steadily rising levels of anti-Semitism was a matter of large concern” for Italian Jews who moved to Israel, as was the case with other European Jews.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

As Danes Debate: Swiss Already Seizing Refugees’ Cash

As Denmark faces a barrage of criticism over its controversial plan to seize refugees’ valuables, Switzerland has already been doing so for years, Swiss authorities said Friday.

Swiss law has since the 1990s required asylum seekers to contribute to the costs of hosting them in the wealthy Alpine country.

ADVERTISINGThe country is permitted to confiscate from people seeking asylum in the country amounts over 1,000 Swiss francs ($995, 913 euros), Celine Kohlprath, a spokeswoman for Swiss migration authorities, told AFP…

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

As Germany Welcomes Migrants, Sexual Attacks in Cologne Point to a New Reality

COLOGNE, Germany — In early December, the Cologne police made their New Year’s Eve preparations. Drawing on the previous year’s experience, they identified their biggest worry as pickpocketing and fireworks among the crowds. So they increased their holiday deployment, to 142 from 88, concentrating on the banks of the Rhine River, where revelers traditionally gather for a giant fireworks display.

As 2016 neared on Dec. 31, however, some 1,500 men, including some newly arrived asylum seekers and many other immigrants, had instead assembled around Cologne’s train station. Drunk and dismissive of the police, they took advantage of an overwhelmed force to sexually assault and rob hundreds of people, according to police reports, shocking Germany and stoking anxieties over absorbing refugees across Europe.

           — Hat tip: ThinkofEngland [Return to headlines]

Austria Turns Tougher on Migrants

Austria’s interior minister signalled Friday a tougher line on migrants, saying that from next weekend it will follow Germany’s lead and turn back any new arrivals seeking to claim asylum in Scandinavia.

“Right now on the Austrian-German border only those seeking asylum in Germany are being allowed in. Those who want to go further are being turned back,” Johanna Mikl-Leitner said on public radio Oe1.

“We will stop those people directly at our southern border (with Slovenia) from the end of next week,” Mikl-Leitner said…

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

Austria Suspends Schengen, Imposes Border Control Amid Refugee Crisis

The Austrian government temporarily suspended the Schengen agreement, imposing full border control measures on everyone entering the country, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann told the newspaper Oesterreich in an interview.

“Everyone who is coming to us would be carefully checked at the border,” Fayman told Oesterreich.

Chancellor Faymann said that from now on Austria would “similar to Germany” have a more strict border control and deport people who, lacking the proper refugee identification, out of the country.

“At border control points everyone has to show a valid ID to Austrian authorities,” Faymann said, adding that if the EU cannot provide the security at its external borders, countries should start controlling their own national borders, according to the Austrian newspaper.

Austria plans to use its army to stop refugees from entering the country. Most refugees are trying to reach Germany and apply for asylum there, but to get to Germany they need to hike across Austria.

The move of the Austrian government essentially means that the Schengen agreement is thrown out the window. The Schengen zone has currently 26 members, including most EU members and four non-EU members.

The idea behind the agreement is that the citizens of Schengen countries can access any country without the need to go through border controls and visitors can travel across the Schengen zone with one common visa that applies throughout the entire Schengen zone.

Earlier this week, other Schengen countries, including Norway, Sweden and Denmark, also temporarily suspended the Schengen agreement and restored border control measures at their national borders.

Europe is currently struggling to cope with a massive refugee crisis, with hundreds of thousands of people fleeing conflict-torn countries in the Middle East and North Africa in search of safety and refuge in the stable and wealthy EU states.

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

Bundestag Approves Identity Card for Refugees

Bill goes to Bundesrat, law will come into force by summer

(ANSA) — BERLIN — The German Bundestag (parliament) has approved the introduction of a specific identity card for refugees, which should bring order to bureaucratic chaos in the registration of asylum seekers. The bill was presented to parliament by the Interior Ministry.

According to the German government, the bill will also facilitate and speed up the exchange of data and information between the different administrations in the country. The bill should be discussed in the Bundesrat (the upper house of parliament with regional representatives), at the end of Janaury.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Canadians to be Unaffected by 10,000 Syrian Refugees — Immigration Minister

The government of Canada will not give preference to Syrian refugees to the detriment of Canadians waiting for social assistance programs, Immigration Minister John McCallum said.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Tuesday, the number of Syrian refugees who have arrived in Canada under a plan proposed by the Liberal Party reached 10,000.

“We want to welcome all of these refugees with open hearts and with love the way Canadians have, but at the same time we are mindful that we don’t want to offend Canadians who have themselves been waiting for a long time for social housing and things of that nature,” McCallum said Wednesday, as quoted by the CBC News broadcaster.

He added that the government would not put Syrian refugees “ahead of the queue” to avoid triggering anti-refugee sentiment.

His comments come in the wake of a recent incident in the Canadian city of Vancouver, in which some 30 people were injured in a pepper-spray attack on a group of refugees from Syria.

According to the media outlet, the Liberal Party initially proposed to bring 25,000 refugees to Canada by December 31, 2015, but decreased the target number to 10,000 in November. Since then, the Liberals have pledged to resettle another 15,000 “mostly government-assisted” Syrian refugees in the country by March 1, 2016.

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

Deal Needed on 3 Bn for Turkey Needed Despite Italian Opposition Says Dijsselbloem

Ecofin chief says Rome ‘apparently’ against three billion grant

(ANSA) — Brussels, January 15 — Econfin and Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Friday that a EU deal was needed on giving three billion euros to Turkey in exchange for help on the refugee crisis despite “apparent” opposition from Italy. “I’ll try to push to reach an agreement on the three billion for Turkey, we need it,” Dijsselbloem said. “We’ll talk about it today”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

German Ruling Party Hopes to Pass Refugee Deportation Law Within Weeks

The ruling Christian Democratic Party (CDU) hopes to pass a bill within weeks that will make it easier to deport refugees who commit crimes in Germany, a CDU lawmaker told Sputnik on Thursday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik), Svetlana Alexandrova — The German government came under pressure over its open-door policy toward refugees after a series of sexual assaults on women by asylum seekers hit German cities on New Year’s Eve.

“My political party… is highly determined to pass the new legislation as fast as possible,” CDU’s Nina Warken said. “I think the new law-making initiative will be on the agenda of the German government within the next two weeks.”

After the initiative passes this stage, “it will only be a matter of days until the bill will be discussed and voted on in the German Bundestag,” she claimed.

German laws currently allow for migrants to be sent back to their origin countries if they have been convicted of a crime that carries a three or more years jail term — and that only when the situation in their country of origin is deemed safe for them to go back.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Thursday that the government wanted to ease deportation barriers in cases when asylum seekers are jailed for violent crimes like bodily harm, homicide, rape, and sexual assault.

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

German Politician Sends Refugee Bus Home After Merkel’s Snub

A bus that carried 31 Syrian refugees to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office in protest returned Friday to the small town that organised the road trip widely condemned as a political stunt.

The Bavarian district chief behind Thursday’s journey to Berlin, Peter Dreier, had called it an “act of desperation” as his southern rural area buckled under the strain of a mass influx that brought 1.1 million migrants to Germany last year.

The coach had arrived Friday evening after a 570 kilometre (350 mile) trip outside the chancellery building of Merkel, who declined to send her staff to negotiate with the provincial official…

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

German Minister Eyes Europe Petrol Tax to Pay for Migrant Crisis

Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Saturday raised the prospect of introducing a tax on petrol in Europe to pay for solving the migrant crisis, in remarks to the Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

“If national budgets or the EU budget are insufficient, let’s agree to set up, for instance, a tax of a certain amount on each litre of petrol,” the minister said.

“This way we would have the means for a European response to the refugee issue,” he said, in an apparent reference to beefing up security at the European Union’s outer borders in order to stop the migrant inflow…

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

Immigration to Israel by European Jews Hits a High as Anti-Semitic Attacks Rise

Jews in Europe feel as threatened now in Europe as they did during the Holocaust, experts have said. Nearly 10,000 Jews have flocked to Israel following a rise in anti-Semitic attacks.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Islamist Fighters in Germany: Less People Leaving, More Coming Home

Amid the increased threat of terror across Europe, officials in Germany have warned that while the number of people leaving the country to fight alongside jihadists in the Middle East is falling, there has been an increase in the number of Islamist militants returning to Germany from Syria and Iraq.

Holger Muench, president of the German federal police, the BKA, told ARD television that while it was encouraging that less people were leaving Germany to join jihadist groups, there had been an increase in militants return from fighting in the Middle East, with more than 400 people being closely monitored by security and intelligence authorities.

“The wave of departures is becoming flatter […] In the meantime, we have more than 400 individuals who pose a threat and whom we must keep an eye on.”

The comments come as a sign that German officials are on high alert to the threat of a terrorist attack, following incidents in Paris, Beirut and multiple blasts in Turkey in recent months.

Earlier this week, 10 German nationals were killed in a suicide bombing attack in Istanbul, which was believed to have been carried out by a Daesh militant who entered Turkey from Syria.

Although Muench said the incident did not change the threat of an attack in Germany, officials have been on high alert in recent months amid fears of a terrorist plot.

Germany’s ‘open-door’ immigration policy, which resulted in more than one million people entering the country from the Middle East in 2015, has led some opposition political figures to suggest the country is under a greater threat from some jihadists who may have slipped into the country, disguised as refugees.

Following the Paris attacks in November, German officials canceled a planned football international friendly between Germany and the Netherlands in Hanover, just 90 minutes before the scheduled kick-off due to “concrete information” about a terror attack.

While Munich’s main train station was evacuated on New Year’s Eve after authorities received a “very concrete” tip that Daesh was planning a terrorist attack at the station.

Despite Germany having never experienced a major Islamist terror attack, the admission that there are increasing numbers of militants returning from Syria and Iraq has heightened speculation among some that the country is facing its biggest terror threat in recent history.

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

Italy: EU to Change Rules on Migration in 2016

Avramapoulos ‘not satisfied with EU plan implementation’

(ANSA) — Rome, January 14 — European Migration and Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramapoulos on Thursday announced that the EU will change its rules on migration in 2016.

“In 2016 we’ll present a new global package of measures on the migration and integration front: I’m thinking of a radical revision of European asylum and ‘Dublin’,” he said, referring to the rule that requires migrants to register and seek residency in the first EU country they enter.

“We’ve done great work but I’m not satisfied with the implementation of the EU Plan. The results aren’t what were expected. There needs to be a bigger effort on the part of member states,” he said.

Avramopoulos said the migrant crisis is “putting the heart of Europe in danger” and that Italy must increase the number of repatriations of migrants who don’t have the requisites necessary to stay in Europe.

“If Schengen falls, we’ll all pay an enormous economic and political price,” he said, referring to the visa waiver program that abolished passport checks at internal EU borders.

Meanwhile in Italy, Justice Minister Andrea Orlando said the postponement of a decree to abolish illegal immigration as a crime is not “sine die”, or without a final date.

Orlando said the postponement is linked to “a systematic rethinking” on immigration, in order to transform the intervention into a “wider package”.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin told Spanish weekly Vida Nueva that the EU must find “quick and shared” solutions to the migrant emergency.

“Europe has the necessary judicial, technical, and above all cultural tools to face the migrant question in a way that’s respectful of the dignity and rights both of its citizens and those of migrants,” Parolin said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Majority of Germans Believe Merkel Unable to Resolve Current Refugee Crisis

The majority of German citizens believe their security and financial situation are threatened because of the current refugee crisis, the German magazine Focus Online writes.

The German population is increasingly becoming skeptical towards Germany’s policy of open doors. Every second German believes that the refugee crisis cannot be overcome, while 48 percent of the population stated they are afraid of refugees, a recent ARD survey reveals.

In 2015 more than one million refugees entered Germany, fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries. Despite overburdened municipalities and crowded refugee facilities, German Chancellor Angela Merkel optimistically repeated her credo: “We can do this”.

However, the most recent polls reveal that this optimism in Germany is decreasing. 51% of Germans believe that their country won’t be able to resolve the current refugee crisis, Focus Online writes.

The skepticism among the population has especially risen after the massive attacks on women on New Year’s Eve in Cologne and other German cities. Hundreds of women were reportedly robbed, threatened and sexually assaulted by small groups of aggressive men, allegedly mostly of Arab and North African origin.

Besides security concerns, 85% of Germans are afraid that they will lose material wealth because of the current migration crisis, a recent survey conducted by the consulting firm Ernst & Young showed.

“The refugee crisis has been the main subject in the debates and the media coverage in this country for several months,” EY representative Thomas Harms told the German magazine Focus. As a result, this issue becomes more important for people than in fact it should be, the expert claimed.

The current financial situation in the country seems to be stable. Low unemployment rates, low inflation, rising salaries and cheap energy prices demonstrate positive changes in the socioeconomic field compared with the previous year.

Despite this, German consumers access their own financial situation for 2016 as pessimistic. Many of them don’t fear job losses, small pensions or illness. However, they remain anxious about more global issues such as the economic slowdown, environmental pollution, the debt crisis in Europe, and the current refugee crisis, which was assessed by the European Commission as the worst migration crisis since WWII.

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

Migrants Feel Chill as Europe Tightens Frontier Checks

Running in looping coils, razor-wire now stretches along part of Macedonia’s border with Greece.

At every border along the refugee trail, through Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Denmark and Sweden, the welcome is cooling, the checks are getting tougher, and people are being turned back.

Here at Idomeni there is just one small gate, right by the railway line, where refugees can pass.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Muslims ‘Bully: Persecute and Harass’ Christians in German Refugee Camps

Muslim refugees “bully, persecute and harass” Christians, who came to German refugee camps from the Middle East in search of a better life, the head of the St. George Monastery in Götschendorf, Hegumen Daniil, wrote in a letter to Peter Altmaier, who serves as the Chief of Staff of the German Chancellery and Federal Minister for Special Affairs.

“Christian asylum seekers from Syria, Eritrea and elsewhere suffer bullying, persecution and harassment at the hands of their Muslim neighbors in refugee camps. This is also true of the Yazidi religious minority. Sometimes, bullying ends in injuries and death threats,” he detailed in the letter, which was also published on Facebook.

Hegumen Daniil singled out Muslims, who converted to Christianity, as the group that runs the highest risk of being abused. “They should fear for their life,” he warned, “since Muslim radicals treat ‘apostates’ as if they have no right to live.”

These people often choose to spend the night at a church like the Trinity Lutheran Church in southwest Berlin, not a refugee camp.

Harassment has forced many Christians, who fled violence in the Middle East, to consider returning home. They, according to Hegumen Daniil, look back at their life in war-torn countries and view it as “a lesser evil” compared to their present-day state.

Hegumen Daniil called this environment “shameful.” He also pointed out that German law enforcement officers rarely try to resolve religious conflicts. “Whatever the reason might be, this is where the fundamental rights in this country need to be protected. There is no alternative.”

Hegumen Daniil told the Pravmir (Orthodox Christianity and the World) website that he is helping a refugee family from Damascus: the Arab father, who studied in Russia, his Russian wife and their baby girl.

“They came to Germany a month or two ago. They are Christians. They have been transferred from one camp to another. They are not given money to buy food. They stay in rooms with [dozens of other refugees]. At the moment they are staying in a camp with two other Christian families from Syria. You can imagine the persecution [they have to endure]. There are many others like them,” he explained.

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

One Million Refugees Will Try to Enter Europe in 2016, UN Predicts

One million more refugees and migrants will try to enter Europe through the Eastern Mediterranean and Balkans in 2016, according to new UN projections.

The report, from the UNHCR, also predicts increasing numbers of women and children, either being sent ahead, or seeking to re-join male relatives who have already entered the continent.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

‘Quotas Are Meaningless’: Czech Minister Criticizes EU Refugee Policies

To effectively solve the ongoing migrant crisis, EU leaders need to provide more support to the countries that have received the most refugees and make sure the borders of the Schengen Zone are protected, Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec said, according to Czech News Agency (CTK).

Chovanec spoke with the media prior to a Visegrad Group meeting in Prague, which is scheduled to take place on January 19.

“Quotas are meaningless, and I think everyone knows it,” the Interior Minister told CTK.

The minister added that the European Union (EU) needs to make sure that the borders of the Schengen Zone are “impenetrable.”

Chovanec also criticized the prolonged construction of special migrant centers, which the EU said it would build to accommodate refugees. The centers aren’t ready yet and the Czech minister fears that given the current rate of work, the center won’t be ready to function by the spring either.

Furthermore, the minister of interior added that Czech policemen would continue to patrol the border between the Czech Republic and Austria. Over the past seven months, police have arrested 3,300 refugees illegally trying to cross into the territory of Czech Republic.

Earlier this month, Former Czech President Vaclav Klaus said that the mandatory quota system on redistributing refugees proposed by the European Commission wouldn’t solve the migrant crisis.

Last September, the EU interior ministers approved a plan proposed by the European Commission to redistribute some refugees throughout the bloc based on a quota system. The quotas were strongly opposed by several EU states, including the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary.

Klaus predicted that Europe would soon face a “real migration tsunami” if EU politicians continue to act the same way they’re doing now. According to Klaus, the migration wave cannot be stopped in the center of Europe, so it should be tackled on the EU’s external borders.

Others, such as the Czech Organization for Aid to Refugees (OPU) think that Czech politicians are simply “playing the card of xenophobia” amid the refugee crisis, choosing not to explain the entire situation concerning refugees to the general public.

According to OPU, politicians do not properly explain who the refugees are and why they arrive from Syria. Meanwhile, the group claims, the media aids them by giving too much space for their xenophobic comments.

This year has seen an unprecedented wave of migration to Europe, with over one million migrants arriving on European shores, according to International Organization for Migration data. Over 1.2 million illegal border crossings have been detected by the EU border agency Frontex since the beginning of 2015.

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

Refugees Banned From Pool in Germany After Girls Complain

Group of girls said they were being sexually harassed

(ANSA) — Berlin, January 15 — Male refugees have been banned from entering a public pool in a town in Germany after a group of girls complained they were being sexually harassed, the German director for social affairs said Friday.

Markus Schnapka confirmed the group of refugees will no longer have access to the pool in Bornheim, a town with 50,000 residents near Bonn in the German state of North Rhine- Westphalia.

He said there would be no criminal charges as their behaviour did not constitute a crime.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Swiss to Seize Assets From Refugees to Cover Costs

Country to allow seizure of up to 1,000 Swiss francs

(ANSA) — Bern, January 15 — Switzerland is to allow the seizure of up to 1,000 Swiss francs (€914) from refugees to pay for their stay in the country.

It comes just days after Denmark’s parliament debated a plan to allow authorities to seize asylum seekers’ money exceeding 10,000 kroner (€1,340) as well as items valued at more than that amount. The Swiss plan would follow similar guidelines.

Meanwhile a 16-year-old boy died in the Syrian city of Madaya, which has been besieged by pro-government forces for months.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Ten Theses on Immigration

My Sunday column argued, fairly strenuously, that mass immigration on the scale of the last two years will put more stress on the politics and culture of Germany than any prudent statesman should accept, and that the German government should do everything in its power to not only limit migration but actually restrict asylum rights and begin deportation for some of the migrants who have already arrived.

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

Italy: PD Catholics Seek to Water Down Civil Unions Bill

Tension over step child adoption in same-sex unions

(see related) (ANSA) — Rome, January 14 — A group of over 30 Catholic members of Premier Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party (PD) presented amendments on Thursday seeking to water down a bill to regulate civil unions, including same-sex ones. The issue has caused considerable tension within the centre-left party in recent days, even though Renzi has said PD members will be able to vote according to their conscience and not have to toe the party line when it comes to this bill. The amendments include scrapping the controversial norm introducing the possibility for one partner in a same-sex relationship to adopt the other partner’s biological child.

The amendments would see this replaced with a form of ‘reinforced’ foster care.

The bill currently before the Senate must be approved “without re-discussing points that are already the fruit of mediation”, a group of MPs formerly belonging to the small left-wing party Sinistra Ecologia Libertà (SEL) and now members of the PD said Thursday. “The extension of stepchild adoption, which is already contemplated for married heterosexual couples, would at last regulate a de facto situation that already exists but without any form of protection, by granting a child born of a same-sex couple the right to affectional continuity with the second parent,” the MPS wrote.

They said some form of ‘reinforced’ foster care would only “make growing up all the more precarious for the child”.

Meanwhile lawyers on Thursday called for parliament to amend the bill so that not only notaries would be able to stipulate and register a civil union. This faculty should be extended to lawyers, the general secretary of the National Forensic Association Luigi Pansini said. “Not only do lawyers have an irreplaceable role in protecting the rights of every citizen, but they also ‘guard’ the value of equality before the law,” Pansini said. “From a professional point of view lawyers unboubtedly have all the skills needed to accompany couples who decide to legalise their co-habitation,” he concluded. Discussion of the bill has been delayed by two days and is now due to hit the Senate floor on January 28.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Why Are People Arguing About ‘Black Girl Magic’?

A hashtag intended to inspire, motivate and celebrate black women has triggered a spate of controversy. But what does “Black Girl Magic” stand for? And why are people arguing about it online?

First, a counter hashtag gained traction — “White Girl Magic” — which was used in a variety of ways, sometimes with a positive sense but often with a provocative edge, as if to suggest that “Black Girl Magic” placed a needless focus on race. “I get #blackgirlmagic is meant to be uplifting, and it’s cool, but if there was #whitegirlmagic it would be seen as racist,” wrote one user. The hashtag gained ground, but many on Twitter said that it missed the point.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

4 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 1/16/2016

  1. Interesting to read about Austria’s suspension of Schengen. As far as I know (and have read in Austria’s newspapers), no such thing has officially taken place. There is some haggling going on among the coalition parties, but Schengen has definitely NOT been suspended. Unless Sputniknews knows something the Austrian media have missed, which I doubt.

      • Der Standard will definitely be doing their level best to deletedeletedelete all posts even alluding to this.

  2. Italy’s Jewish population is about 30,000 (it has never been higher than about 45,000 since unification), so 353 Jews leaving would be about 1.2% of the population.

    By contrast, 8,000 Jews leaving France for Israel in 2015 would be about 1.7% of France’s Jews.

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