Gates of Vienna News Feed 2/23/2016

A 14-year-old girl carrying two knives went on a stabbing rampage in a Toronto high school, wounding eight people. The alleged suspected perpetrator is now in custody. Victims were apparently selected at random, and no motive has been established, but the attacker reportedly wore a long black coat, and was known to change her first name frequently.

In other news, the Slovenian parliament has approved the use of army troops to supplement the border police and help protect the country’s borders.

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

Thanks to AF, C. Cantoni, Dean, Insubria, JD, LP, Vlad Tepes, and all the other tipsters who sent these in.

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

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

Financial Crisis
» Germany: Highest Surplus Since Reunification in 2015
» Greek Attempt to Force Use of Electronic Money Instead of Physical Cash Fails
» Italy Remains Under Observation Despite Progress — EU
» Seattle’s Minimum Wage Hike Leads to Job Losses
» Trudeau Drops Campaign Promises and Goes All in With Deficits
» 5 Dead After Shooting, Fires at Phoenix Home
» Establishment Declares War on Trump
» Obama Says Guantanamo Threatens U.S. Values, Time to Change
» Poll Shocker. Donald Trump Leads John Kasich in Ohio
» Sheriff Joe Stumps for Trump
» 8 Injured in Ontario High School Stabbing
» GMOs Have Been ‘Catastrophic’ For US Agricultural Exports, Says Canadian Alfalfa Exporter
» Pickering School Stabbing Rampage: ‘It Was Just Horrifying’
Europe and the EU
» Cell Phones Are Cooking Our Reproductive Organs and Causing an Epidemic of Cancer
» German Father-to-be Burned His Eight Month Pregnant Girlfriend Alive Because He Could Not Bear the Thought of Becoming a Dad
» Human Rights Court Condemns Italy on CIA Snatch
» Italian Foreign Fighter ‘Fatima’ Indicted for Terror
» Italy: Renzi Govt Sets Out Vision for Stronger Europe
» Italy: Ex-Rome Mayor Marino May Face Charges
» Italy: Prosecutors Ask Fast-Track Trial for Iraqi Terror Suspect
» Italy: U.S. Ambassador Summoned Over Berlusconi Spy Reports
» Italy: Students Disrupt Panebianco Classes for Second Day
» Mars Recalls Chocolate Bars in 55 Countries, Italy Too
» Police Are Concerned After Soldiers of Odin’s Rapid Growth in Norway
» U.S. Soldier Gets Seven Years for Raping Italian Girl, 17
» UK: Ebola Nurse Pauline Cafferkey is Back in Hospital for Third Time
» UK: Police Arrest Man and Boy for ‘Murdering Muslim Leader Jalal Uddin’
» UK: Two Patients ‘Contract’ Hepatitis C and 8,000 at Risk After Being Treated by Infected Worker
North Africa
» Egypt: Another Christian Killed in His Military Unit, Supposedly by “Suicide”
» Libya: Intelligence Service Alarm, ISIS ‘Caliphate’ Growing
» Use of Base ‘Not Prelude to Intervention’, Gentiloni Says
» White House Concerned Over ISIS in Libya
Middle East
» 15-Year-Old Swedish Girl Rescued From ISIS in Iraq for Second Time After Previously Running Back to Jihadists to Give Birth
» A “Nervous” NATO Fears Turkey, Russia May Soon Go to War
» Bitter Backlash for Iraq’s ‘No Chocolate’ Cleric
» Syria: Islamic State Frees Last Group of Assyrian Christians of Hassaké
» Syria: ISIS ‘Take Key Postition in SE Aleppo’
» The Smoking Gun: Phone Transcripts Show Turkish Military Allowed ISIS to Cross Syrian-Turkish Border
» Turkey: Davutoglu: Plan Worth 80 Mil to Support Tourism
» BBC Claims Stalin Only Killed ‘Thousands’
South Asia
» Pakistan: High Tensions Over Clemency Plea for Salman Taseer’s Murderer
» 100,000 in Italy and Greece in 2016, 413 Deaths
» 88,277 Criminal Illegal Aliens Released
» Austrians Let 3,200 Per Day Into Germany
» Calais: In the Evening, As Soon as it Gets Dark One is in Danger
» Danish Police Officer Speaks Out: Citizens Security is Threatened
» Germany: 217 Attacks on Invader Centers in 2016
» Germany Asks Countries to Speed Migrant Repatriation
» Police in Cologne Launch New Sex Attack Investigation… Into Who Was Leaking Information to the Press About Cover Ups
» Portugal: This European Country Wants More Refugees — Many More
» Slovenian Parliament Approves Border Police Powers to Army
Culture Wars
» Italy: PD Agrees to Drop Stepchild Adoption From Civil Unions

Germany: Highest Surplus Since Reunification in 2015

0.6 percent of gross domestic product,double the previous year’s

(ANSA) — BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s statistics office says the country last year achieved its highest budget surplus since reunification a quarter-century ago.

The Federal Statistical Office said Tuesday that federal, state and local governments last year accumulated a surplus totaling 19.4 billion euros ($21.5 billion) — up from 8.9 billion euros the previous year. That beat the previous record of some 18.2 billion euros from 2000.

Last year’s surplus amounted to 0.6 percent of gross domestic product, double the previous year’s 0.3 percent.

The German economy, Europe’s biggest, grew by 1.7 percent last year and is expected to repeat that performance this year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greek Attempt to Force Use of Electronic Money Instead of Physical Cash Fails

While the “developed world” is only now starting its aggressive push to slowly at first, then very fast ban the use of physical cash as the key gating factor to the global adoption of NIRP (by first eliminating high-denomination bills because they “aid terrorism and spread criminality”) one country has long been doing everything in its power to ween its population away from tax-evasive cash as a medium of payment, and into digital transactions: Greece.

The problem, however, is that it has failed.

According to Kathimerini, “Greek businesses are not ready for the expansion of plastic money through the compulsory use of credit and debit cards for everyday transactions.”

Unlike in the rest of the world where “the stick” approach will likely to be used, in Greece the government has been more gentle by adopting a “carrot” strategy (for now) when it comes to migrating from cash to digital. The government has told taxpayers that they will have to spend up to a certain amount of their incomes via bank and card transactions in order to qualify for an annual tax-free exemption.

This appears to not be a sufficient incentive however, as a large proportion of stores still don’t have the card terminals, or PoS (Points of Sale), required for card payments, while plastic is accepted by very few doctors, plumbers, electricians, lawyers and others who tend to account for the lion’s share of tax evasion recorded in the country.

Almost as if the local population realizes that what the government is trying to do is to limit at first, then ultimately ban all cash transactions in the twice recently defaulted nation as well. It also realizes that an annual tax-free exemption means still paying taxes; taxes which could be avoided if one only transacted with cash.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Italy Remains Under Observation Despite Progress — EU

Report on macroeconomic imbalances on EC agenda Wednesday

(ANSA) — Brussels, February 23 — Italy remains under observation because of its macroeconomic imbalances but Brussels acknowledges progress in many fields including the labour market, schools, the civil service and banks, according to a report on macroeconomic imbalances in EU countries that will be on the European Commission’s agenda Wednesday. The EU encourages Italy to make more progress but highlights the persistence of overly high debt-servicing costs, the report says. The EC is yet to give its final verdict on Italy’s 2016 budget which is expected to be issued in the mid-March. Premier Matteo Renzi on Monday hailed the reforms he has made in two years in office, saying they had got Italy moving again.

Premier Matteo Renzi said Tuesday he would welcome European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker “to the most beautiful country on Earth” when the EC chief visits Rome Friday.

Renzi was asked on Italian radio how he would welcome Juncker after a series of spats in recent months.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Seattle’s Minimum Wage Hike Leads to Job Losses

Seattle is supposedly now the beacon for attempts at socialism. With Kshama Sawant leading the charge, Seattle may be a hipster’ s (sporting a Che Guevara of course) paradise as its lawmakers are portraying themselves as the crusaders of social and economic justice. How’ s it working out so far?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Trudeau Drops Campaign Promises and Goes All in With Deficits

In for a penny, in for a pound.

With falling oil prices eroding Canada’s revenue base, newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is fully embracing deficits, with his finance minister hinting Monday the country will run a deficit of about C$30 billion ($22 billion) in the fiscal year that starts April 1.

It’s one of the biggest fiscal swings in the country’s history that, in just four months since the Oct. 19 election, has cut loose all the fiscal anchors Trudeau pledged to abide by even as he runs deficits. The government’s bet is that appetite for more infrastructure spending and a post-election political honeymoon will trump criticism over borrowing and unmet campaign promises.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

5 Dead After Shooting, Fires at Phoenix Home

Authorities have confirmed that five people are dead after a shooting and two fires at a Phoenix home Tuesday morning.

Firefighters and police officers from Phoenix and Glendale responded to reports that a family of four had been shot at the home in the area of 47th Avenue and Cactus Road around 4:45 a.m.

The initial call came from the people inside the home who said they were being shot at, Phoenix police Sgt. Trent Crump said.

Shortly before 7 a.m., police said the suspect “is down.”

Capt. Reda Bigler with the Phoenix Fire Department confirmed three people died at the scene. A woman approximately 20 years old and a girl who is 10 to 12 years old suffered life-threatening injuries and were transported to hospitals. Both later died.

That woman reportedly told first responders that her brother was the shooter. Police have not confirmed that at this time.

Crews were working a first-alarm fire at the home as well. Firefighters could not make entry right away to give aid to the victims because there was still an active shooter inside the house.

Some of the police officers had to put on fire gear and drag the hoses to the house so firefighters could fight the fire and get to the victims…

           — Hat tip: Dean [Return to headlines]

Establishment Declares War on Trump

Donald Trump has officially been declared public outlaw number one by the establishment-with the entire spectrum from conservative to far left uniting to condemn him as either the anti-Christ or a second Hitler.

The Washington Post has called for a Republican-Democrat alliance to stop Trump; the NY Daily News has called him the “anti-Christ;” while the far leftist gaggle of Jews in the Southern Poverty Law Center have used Trump’s picture to headline their latest “year in hate” review.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama Says Guantanamo Threatens U.S. Values, Time to Change

Announces plan to transfer prisoners to other countries

(ANSA) — Washington, February 23 — United States President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that the Guantanamo Bay detention camp threatened the country’s values and he did not want to pass the problem on to the next president, as he announced a closure programme for the prison.

The Pentagon’s plan to close the controversial camp will be sent to Congress on Tuesday.

“If something does not work, we have to change course. For a while now it is evident that Guantanamo threatens American values and does not help our national security. It is counterproductive in the fight against terrorism,” he said.

Obama also announced that 35 prisoners from Guantanamo would be transferred to other countries after receiving necessary approvals.

He said that American courts were capable of trying terrorism suspects and that the current military commission system should not set a precedent for the future.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Poll Shocker. Donald Trump Leads John Kasich in Ohio

Gov. John Kasich is at risk of losing his home turf of Ohio to Donald J. Trump, according to a new poll that shows the billionaire Republican presidential candidate leading in the state.

A Quinnipiac University survey released on Tuesday found that 31 percent of likely Republican primary voters in Ohio back Mr. Trump, while 26 percent support Mr. Kasich. Senator Ted Cruz trails them with 21 percent, followed by Senator Marco Rubio with 13 percent and Ben Carson with 5 percent.

Kasich has basically punted Super Tuesday and is basing his candidacy, such as it is, on his perceived strength in the Old Northwest and Upper Midwest where, allegedly, Republican primary voters are more moderate than their slack-jawed brethren in the South.

Likewise, Rubio’s backers have based their hopes on the notion that Rubio will pull in those moderate voters and Ted Cruz is over after Super Tuesday.

In fact, where Rubio has hoped the “establishment lane” voters will coalesce around him, it seems as though the GOP establishment is a lot less offended by Trump than conservatives think they are. For instance, Jon Huntsman, says he is open to backing Trump:

Huntsman said there are aspects of Trump’s platform he finds attractive.

“He’s strong on things like campaign finance reform and I think it’s going to take an extraordinarily unique leader to stand up and say that the way that we’re doing this on the campaign finance side is broken and we need to fix it,” Huntsman said, adding Trump is “right about bringing aboard a new generation of the best and the brightest and wiping out the old Washington establishment and the old Washington culture.”

“I’d love to see someone stand up who’s a total outsider and see if that can be done because I think it would actually be a pretty healthy thing,” he said.

I think one can expect, based on such semi-endorsements, to see Bush voters break to Trump because anyone who is still interested in voting for Bush probably loathes Rubio. When Kasich folds, let’s not forget his campaign manager was Huntsman’s campaign manager in 2012 and don’t be surprised to see a Kasich endorsement of Trump.

As I said yesterday, this primary is now Donald Trump’s to lose.

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

Sheriff Joe Stumps for Trump

(REAL CLEAR POLITICS) Sheriff Joe Arpaio, famous for protecting the Arizona-Mexico border, endorses Donald Trump for president at a rally in Last Vegas Monday night.

Arpaio talked about his nearly 60-year career in law enforcement, and even about the last time he worked on sealing the U.S.-Mexican border.

Speaking about what it would take to get Mexico to pay for the border wall: “I’m not going to get into my experience closing the border with G. Gordon Liddy [under Nixon],” he said. “But the Mexicans bowed down when we talked about removing their foriegn aid, and then they began cooperating with our country.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

8 Injured in Ontario High School Stabbing

PICKERING, Ont. — Students described a chaotic scene at a suburban Toronto high school on Tuesday after a female classmate ran down the hallways knifing people, leaving six students and two teachers with non-serious injuries.

A 14-year-old girl was taken into custody and four people were transported to hospital for treatment, although none of the injuries were considered grave, police said.

Sgt. Bill Calder of Durham Regional Police said officers were called to Dunbarton High School in Pickering, Ont., at 8:32 a.m. in response to reports of a stabbing. He added that two staff members wrestled the suspect to the ground and held her down until police arrived.

“We’re giving kudos to the staff members that stopped this before it got worse,” Calder said.

“They did the right thing.”

Investigators said in a release they did not believe any particular student or staff member was targeted in the attack.

Calder said a lockdown remained in place at the school, but there was no active threat.

“She appeared to be acting alone,” he said.

Police said the school was closed for the day as investigators were interviewing witnesses.

Psychologists and social workers were at the school for those who wanted help.

Several students described running from a girl brandishing two large kitchen knives careening down the hallways of the school.

One emotional 14-year-old girl said she came face-to-face with the suspect, who slashed at her with the knives.

“I just ran for my life,” the girl said as she began to cry. “I just can’t believe it happened. She almost got me.”

Another student said he saw a girl with a long black coat chasing students in the hall of the school’s tech wing waving a knife in each hand.

“I heard the teachers say ‘clear the halls’ so I started to run outside informing people that there’s a student with a knife, you need to get to safety,” the 16-year-old said in a text message as he sat in a locked classroom inside the school…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

GMOs Have Been ‘Catastrophic’ For US Agricultural Exports, Says Canadian Alfalfa Exporter

Pandora’s box is a disturbingly apt metaphor for the GMO industry. In the Greek myth, Pandora was tempted into opening a forbidden box which contained all the evils in the world. Once the box was opened and Pandora realized what she had done, she tried to close it, but it was too late — all the evil contained in it had escaped and spread around the planet.

When scientists first realized that they had the ability to genetically modify living organisms, they — of course — were tempted into doing so, despite the warnings and protests from those who foresaw the potentially destructive consequences. Biotech corporations, particularly Monsanto, pushed for the introduction of GM crops, promising benefits to farmers and consumers, but the scheme has backfired on many levels.

People are beginning to realize how greedy and shortsighted — if not downright evil — Monsanto and other GMO companies truly are, but it’s too late. GM crops are being planted and harvested, and even in areas where they have been banned, cross-pollination contamination by GMO-tainted seed has become a serious issue.

Many countries have had the courage to outlaw GM crops and imports — China is one of them. And China’s zero-tolerance policy toward GM imports is causing big problems for U.S. alfalfa farmers.

In a recent article published by The Western Producer, a Canadian agricultural publication, hay exporter Ed Shaw was quoted as warning Canadian farmers about the “catastrophic” consequences of the blacklisting of U.S. alfalfa exporters by China after Monsanto’s Roundup Ready GM alfalfa was detected among shipments from U.S. suppliers.

Shaw is concerned that the same thing could happen to Canadian alfalfa farmers, since there are currently Roundup Ready alfalfa test plots being planted in Ontario and Quebec, along with plans to expand testing in other areas of the country.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Pickering School Stabbing Rampage: ‘It Was Just Horrifying’

Dunbarton High School students ran for their lives Tuesday morning as a teen girl armed with two large knives allegedly rampaged through the halls randomly stabbing eight people.

Those who came face to face with her and narrowly escaped were shaken as they gathered out front of the school at Sheppard Ave. and Whites Rd. N.

“It was just horrifying,” Kristina Petrovska said.

The Grade 9 student said the girl came within a metre of her and stared.

“She almost stabbed me but I started sprinting for my life,” Petrovska said. “I was terrified.”

Petrovska said some students took shelter in the guidance office while she and others ran outside.

Ryan Dunklin, 15, said he was near the school’s front doors when the violence erupted around 8:30 a.m. — before classes had begun for the day.

He saw his schoolmates scatter but initially wasn’t sure why everyone was running.

He realized something terrible was happening when he saw a teacher holding up an injured girl and another girl nearby cupping her hand over a neck wound.

“Then I turned around and saw this girl with two knives,” Dunklin remembered. “She just looked at me with two shiny, big knives.

“I just quickly ran as fast as possible out of there,” he said, adding two of his friends were among the injured.

Durham Regional Police Sgt. Bill Calder confirmed the girl wandered “throughout the school” stabbing six fellow students and two staff members.

The motive for the attacks wasn’t immediately known.

“It seems to be random at this point,” Calder said.

He said heavily armed tactical officers raced to the school, but by the time they arrived, two brave faculty members had managed to subdue the enraged girl.

“The people who deserve the most credit are those staff members,” Calder said. “They did a great job of holding her until we got here.

“Their actions stopped this from getting worse.”

Two staff and two students were taken to hospital while four other students were treated by medics at the school, Calder said, explaining none of the knife injuries are thought to be serious. Durham District School Board later confirmed a third teacher suffered minor injuries, but a spokesman couldn’t say if they were knife injuries.

A 14-year-old girl was arrested but there was no immediate word on what charges she’ll face.

Some students described her as a loner who often changes her first name…

           — Hat tip: LP [Return to headlines]

Cell Phones Are Cooking Our Reproductive Organs and Causing an Epidemic of Cancer

Is your cell phone keeping you from having kids and slowly killing you at the same time? Most people have no idea that one of the greatest threats to their health may be something that they are willingly carrying around with them all day long. A brand new study has just come out that shows that men that carry around cell phones in their pockets continually are much less fertile than other men. Of course we have known that cell phone use has some very nasty consequences for our health for a very long time. As you will see below, studies have shown that there is a very clear link between cell phone use and cancer. But even after learning all of these things, most people just continue to use their cell phones normally. Most people believe what they want to believe, and most people don’t want to believe that cell phone use is harmful.

One of the most respected news sources in the UK has reported on the new study that I just mentioned above. The following is an excerpt from that article…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

German Father-to-be Burned His Eight Month Pregnant Girlfriend Alive Because He Could Not Bear the Thought of Becoming a Dad

[WARNING: Disturbing Content.]

Eren Toben, 20, lured his 19-year-old girlfriend Maria Peiner, who was eight months pregnant, into a wooded area in Berlin, Germany, before stabbing her with a bread knife and setting her alight.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Human Rights Court Condemns Italy on CIA Snatch

Italy abused State secrecy, violated cleric Nasr’s rights

(ANSA) — Rome, February 23 — The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday condemned Italy for preventing justice being done in the 2003 US extraordinary rendition of a Muslim cleric from Milan.

The Strasbourg court said Italy abused State secrecy norms to protect Italian defendants, including Italy’s then top two spies, and was also wrong not to request the extradition of 22 CIA agents and a US Air Force colonel who were convicted.

It further condemned pardons for three top U.S. defendants by successive Italian presidents Giorgio Napolitano and Sergio Mattarella.

The ECHR ruled that Italy had infringed the rights of the cleric, Hassan Mustafa Omar Nasr. “Having regard to all the evidence in the case, the Court found it established that the Italian authorities were aware that the applicant had been a victim of an extraordinary rendition operation which had begun with his abduction in Italy and had continued with his transfer abroad,” read a statement by the Court. It said Italian officials cooperated in the operation which saw Nasr transferred to Egypt, where he was held in secret for several months. It ruled Italy was guilty of several human rights violations, including the failure to prevent Nasr from suffering “torture and inhuman or degrading treatment” and the infringement of his right to liberty and security.

The ECHR also said that Italy had abused the principle of State secrecy in the case. “In the present case the Court held that the legitimate principle of “State secrecy” had clearly been applied by the Italian executive in order to ensure that those responsible did not have to answer for their actions,” the Court said.

“The investigation and trial had not led to the punishment of those responsible, who had therefore ultimately been granted impunity”.

In February 2014 Italy’s supreme court acquitted the former head and the No.2 of the Italian secret service agency SISMI (now known as AISE), Nicolo’ Pollari and Marco Mancini, as well as three agents, for involvement in Nasr’s rendition.

The Cassation Court said sentences could not be upheld due to State secrecy.

Pollari and Mancini were respectively appealing a 10-year and a nine-year sentence at a lower court for allowing the CIA to commit “a grave violation of national sovereignty” when they snatched Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, an Islamist suspected of recruiting jihadi fighters.

Nasr, whose case led to the world’s first judicial examination of the controversial practice in the so-called war on terror, got a jail term of six years for international terrorism the previous December.

In September 2012, Italy’s top court of appeals upheld the convictions of 22 CIA agents and a former US air force officer, commander of the Aviano air base, Joseph L. Romano, for the abduction.

The Court of Cassation confirmed the seven-year sentences for 22 of them and a nine-year term for former Milan station chief Robert Seldon Lady.

Italian President Napolitano later pardoned Romano, while last December President Sergio Mattarella pardoned Lady and another CIA operative, Betnie Madero.

Despite calls from prosecutors, Italy never formally requested the extradition of the US officers convicted.

In its Tuesday ruling, the ECHR found that Italy had not fully pursued justice for Nasr “because of the fact that the sentences imposed on the convicted US nationals had not been enforced because of the refusal of the Italian authorities to request their extradition”.

As for Pollari, Mancini and the other Italian defendants, Italy again effectively failed to give Nasr justice “because of the fact those responsible had been granted impunity owing to the application of State secrecy”.

Reacting to the ruling, Milan Prosecutor Ferdinando Pomarici voiced “personal satisfaction, but profound bitterness.

“We, who are the cradle of law, find ourselves brutally slapped. It took the Strasbourg court to put us back in line and say: kid, you don’t do these things”.

Claudio Fava, deputy chair of the parliamentary anti-mafia commission, called on Premier Matteo Renzi to “urgently” report to parliament on the ECHR ruling.

Nasr was snatched by a team of CIA operatives with the help of SISMI and taken via Aviano to a NATO base in Ramstein, Germany, en route to Cairo.

He emerged from an Egyptian prison four years later claiming he had been tortured.

Italian courts have awarded him one million euros in damages.

The case caused friction between Italy and the United States.

Extraordinary rendition was first authorised by former American president Bill Clinton in the 1990s and stepped up when his successor George W. Bush declared war on terror after the September 11, 2001 attacks by Al-Qaeda.

Successive Italian governments denied all knowledge of the case and consistently ruled out the possibility of extradition.

The trial of Nasr claimed headlines worldwide and stoked discussion of rendition, which was extended by President Barack Obama in 2008 under the proviso that detainees’ rights should be respected.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italian Foreign Fighter ‘Fatima’ Indicted for Terror

Sister sentenced to over five years, dad also indicted

(ANSA) — Milan, February 23 — Maria Giulia ‘Fatima’ Sergio, a young convert to Islam who is allegedly fighting with the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria, was indicted Tuesday for international terrorism along with her father, Sergio Sergio. Her sister Marianna was sentenced to five years four months. The alleged foreign fighter’s parents and sister, all of whom were converts to Islam, were arrested in July when prosecutors said they and seven other suspects had joined ISIS and were on the verge of leaving to fight in Syria. The mother, Assunta Buonfiglio, died of cardiac arrest aged 60 in October, on the eve of her release into house arrest.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Renzi Govt Sets Out Vision for Stronger Europe

Premier set to visit U.S., Iran, Russia in coming months

(ANSA) — Rome, February 22 — The Italian government on Monday set out its vision for Europe in a nine-page position paper titled Italy’s Strategic Proposal for the Future of the European Union: Growth, Jobs, and Stability.

The document moots the ideas of transforming the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) into a “European Monetary Fund”, and gives its backing to the creation of a “eurozone super finance minister” as proposed by the French and German central banks. It goes on to call for “a joint, shared policy” to deal with the ongoing migrant and refugee crisis and for joint management of external EU borders, both of which could be financed by issuing EU bonds — an idea Germany has never been partial to.

The Schengen Agreement “is one of the most important results achieved” in the process of European integration and “must be preserved and strengthened”, the paper said.

On the economic front, Italy called for any budget leeway to be “integrally used to support growth” during the current phase of modest recovery and exceptionally low inflation. The European Central Bank’s monetary expansion policies have proven “insufficient” to ensure proper economy recovery, the Italian position paper said.

Accordingly, the EU should promote budget policies that foster growth, reforms, and job creation. “Economic union is a multi-dimensional project…which should go hand in hand with measures for growth and employment,” the paper said.

“This would prove to citizens that Europe is the solution not the problem” in the face of a rising tide of populism in almost every member State, the position paper said.

Renzi said Monday that his criticism of the EU was aimed at contributing to real change of the bloc and not to win concessions for Italy. He also announced he will attend a nuclear summit in Washington at the end of March after visits to Illinois, Nevada and Massachusetts, a visit to Tehran in April, and that he has accepted an invitation from Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend an economic forum in St Petersburg on June 18.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Ex-Rome Mayor Marino May Face Charges

(ANSA) — Rome, February 23 — Ex-Democratic Party (PD) Rome mayor Ignazio Marino may face charges in two separate trials for alleged misuse of a city credit card and for alleged improprieties in consulting contracts at his non-profit, called Imagine, while he was still in office, sources said Tuesday.

Rome prosecutors have notified him that two probes have been closed, usually a prelude to an indictment request.

Rome prosecutors opened probes into the mayor’s expenses after the small rightwing Brothers of Italy (FDI) party and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) — the second-largest party in Italy — filed petitions last year.

Marino took office in June 2013 after a landslide win, and stepped down in October 2015 due to the expenses scandal.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Prosecutors Ask Fast-Track Trial for Iraqi Terror Suspect

Majid Muhamad suspected of aiding foreign fighter immigration

(ANSA) — Bari, February 23 — Bari prosecutors on Tuesday requested a fast-track trial for an Iraqi national who is a terror suspect accused of abetting illegal immigration into Italy.

Majid Muhamad, 45, was arrested in December on charges of abetting illegal immigration as part of an international terrorism probe into at least 10 suspects.

Muhamad is thought to have helped people linked to an Italian cell of an Islamist terror group and “aiding the entry into Europe of people linked to Islamist fundamentalist combatant circles,” police sources said at the time of his arrest.

He allegedly organized the illegal entry into Italy of numerous foreigners using fake documents including 11 people from Egypt, Iran, Morocco, Pakistan, and Turkey whom he helped find accommodation in Bari between March and September last year, investigators said.

Muhamad had been released from an Italian prison in January 2015 after serving 10 years for international terrorism, and moved to Bari after winning an appeal against an expulsion order.

Wiretaps revealed he subsequently had telephone contact with numerous people believed to be linked to an Islamist terrorist group, and used what police believe to be code for explosives when he spoke of two kilos of “truffles” his wife sent him from Iraq.

During a February 2015 raid on a Bari apartment, police confiscated from Majid postcards he sent from prison in which he exalted the jihad, or Islamist holy war.

The suspect, who has been transferred to a maximum security prison near the town of Rossano in Calabria, will be tried on the illegal immigration charges beginning in April and is still under investigation on separate international terrorism charges.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: U.S. Ambassador Summoned Over Berlusconi Spy Reports

Renzi demands clarification over new Wikileaks files

(ANSA) — Rome, February 23 — The foreign ministry in Rome said Tuesday that it had summoned United States Ambassador John Phillips for clarification following reports that the telephone conversations of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi and his close aides were tapped in 2011. Daily newspaper La Repubblica and sister weekly magazine l’Espresso reported on new Wikileaks files that suggested a special unit of the United States National Security Agency (NSA) listened in on the media magnate during the last of his three terms as the head of government. Premier Matteo Renzi said Tuesday that Italy would “ask for information in all seats, also via formal steps,” on the alleged US tapping of Berlusconi.

Berlusconi’s opposition, centre-right Forza Italia (FI) party demanded answers, calling on Renzi to report to parliament and requesting an urgent meeting with Intelligence Undersecretary Marco Minniti. “What happened seems to be an extremely serious thing,” said Forza Italia Senate whip Paolo Romani. “It’s serious that the NSA took the liberty to take wiretaps at the highest level on Italian territory and did not inform the Italian government which, when faced with our questions, has always said that this is not true. “It seems to me that the executive must now give a clear response”. Berlusconi has frequently said there was plot to cause his third government to collapse late in 2011, when Italy risked a Greek-style financial meltdown.

Forza Italia Lower House whip Renato Brunetta reiterated his demand for a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the collapse of Berlusconi’s third government. “A parliamentary commission of inquiry is needed now more than ever,” Brunetta said. “We are asking for it for the events of 2011 and we asked for one on the banks crisis at the end of 2015. “The two could be combined given that they are two sides of the same coin, with the hands of international finance on Italy and dark powers intending to put their hands on our country”. The Italian media said the NSA’s Special Collection Service (SCS) tapped the conversations of Berlusconi, his personal advisor Valentino Valentini, his national security advisor Bruno Archi, diplomatic advisor Marco Carnelos and Italy’s NATO representative Stefano Stefanini. They said the NSA knew about a meeting on October 22, 2011, with then French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at which Sarkozy told Berlusconi that Italy’s financial institutions risked popping like a champagne cork.

The conversation is said to have contributed to Berlusconi’s decision to step down as premier. According to the documents, the NSA also recorded Berlusconi promising Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he would help repair relations with Washington in a phone conversation. Giacomo Stucchi, the head of the COPASIR parliamentary oversight committee of the intelligence services, said Tuesday that he will ask Minniti to report on the case. “It seems right and proper to put the question to the attention of Undersecretary Minniti in the hearing set to take place the day after tomorrow,” Stucchi told ANSA. Sources at Rome’s prosecutors office said that a probe will only be opened if a formal complaint is filed.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Students Disrupt Panebianco Classes for Second Day

Professor accused of ‘warmongering’ for editorials

(ANSA) — Bologna, February 23 — Bologna University students on Tuesday disrupted a class being held by a political science professor and top editorialist at leading Corriere della Sera daily, saying his views make him a ‘warmonger’.

This was the second day protesters from the self-styled leftist Autonomous University Collective (CUA) disrupted Professor Angelo Panebianco’s class by deluging him with questions and playing sound recordings of war bombings, among other tactics.

Panebianco has editorialized that Italy has relied so long on United States military protection that it finds itself unprepared to defend itself against current threats, such as the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) insurgency in Libya.

“The ‘good’ pacificist sentiments we developed — not only the entirely healthy idea that everything possible must be done to avert war, but also the sick notion that one must not equip oneself for self-defence — are a luxury we have been able to afford thanks to (U.S.) protection,” Panebianco wrote in a February 16 op-ed in Corriere della Sera titled ‘Will We Ever Be Ready in Libya?’ Panebianco on Tuesday declined to comment on the incidents.

Emilia Romagna Governor Stefano Bonaccini from the center-left Democratic Party (PD) expressed solidarity for the beleaguered professor.

“Such gestures have no place here because they have nothing to do with freedom of opinion and of expression,” the governor said.

This was echoed by PD Senate whip Luigi Zanda, who said Panebianco was the “victim of violent bullying and intolerance, which takes us back to very painful times of our history”.

“This is undemocratic behavior, and certainly not leftist (behavior),” Zanda said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Mars Recalls Chocolate Bars in 55 Countries, Italy Too

After plastic found in product that ‘could lead to choking’

(ANSA) — New York, February 23 — American manufacturer Mars, Inc., has recalled its Celebrations, Mars, Milky Way, Mini Mix and Snickers chocolate bars from the shelves in 55 countries including Italy, the company said Tuesday.

The Dutch food safety authority posted what it said was a Mars press release on its website, saying a piece of plastic had been found in a product that could lead to choking. The recall reportedly affects chocolate bars produced early this year in the Netherlands.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Police Are Concerned After Soldiers of Odin’s Rapid Growth in Norway

The controversial group Soldiers of Odin is not popular with the police, but the group claims that many now want to become members — and soldiers.

Soldiers of Odin could this weekend be seen on the streets of several Norwegian cities, including Stavanger, Kristiansand and Drammen.

The Police Directorate is skeptical of Soldiers of Odin, and has stressed that it is unacceptable that groups act as a form of vigilantes.

           — Hat tip: AF [Return to headlines]

U.S. Soldier Gets Seven Years for Raping Italian Girl, 17

Jerelle Lamarcus Gray already doing time for gang rape

(ANSA) — Vicenza, February 23 — American soldier Jerelle Lamarcus Gray was sentenced Tuesday to seven years six months in prison for raping a 17-year-old Italian girl.

The victim was leaving a night club on Vicenza’s Viale della Pace near the American Carlo Ederle barracks when Gray attacked her and raped her.

The perpetrator was also sentenced to pay the victim 100,000 euros.

Gray is already serving six years for gang raping and beating up a six-month-pregnant Romanian prostitute for several hours after taking her to an isolated area along with fellow American serviceman, Darius Montre McCullogh, on the night between July 14 and 15 last year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UK: Ebola Nurse Pauline Cafferkey is Back in Hospital for Third Time

British nurse Pauline Cafferkey has been transported by an RAF Hercules to London having been admitted to hospital for a third time since contracting Ebola.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Police Arrest Man and Boy for ‘Murdering Muslim Leader Jalal Uddin’

Jalal Uddin, who attended mosque every day, was attacked as he took a short cut home from a friend’s house following evening prayers in Rochdale on Thursday. Two men were arrested yesterday.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Two Patients ‘Contract’ Hepatitis C and 8,000 at Risk After Being Treated by Infected Worker

Anyone who has been treated by a former NHS healthcare worker who tested positive for hepatitis C is being advised to arrange a blood test, NHS Lanarkshire has said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Egypt: Another Christian Killed in His Military Unit, Supposedly by “Suicide”

According to Maj. Gen. Muhammad Mas’ud, the 20-year-old Copt known only as Michael “shot a bullet from his firearm into his chest, dying instantly.” He supposedly killed himself “after receiving a phone call from his home,” added Mas’ud.

Read here for several more accounts of this “phenomenon” of Coptic Christians being killed in their military units under “mysterious circumstances,” including supposed suicide.

Accordingly, lawyer Hani Ramses remarked that “It’s new for us constantly to hear about Coptic recruits killing themselves in the military and police stations. It’s especially strange that it’s happening now, and not previously, when Egypt was often in a state of war and under constant threat… The killing of Coptic conscripts in the military has become a [new] phenomenon.”

The lawyer also wondered if these deaths indicate that “extremist groups” have infiltrated the Egyptian military.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Libya: Intelligence Service Alarm, ISIS ‘Caliphate’ Growing

New ‘institutions’ created and financed by migrant trafficking

(ANSAmed) — NEW YORK — Isis is entrenching itself increasingly in Libya with the aim of creating a new ‘caliphate’ on the model of what has been done in Syria, using para-state ‘institutions,’ financed mainly with the proceeds of migrant trafficking, Western intelligence services say.

Proceeds from people smuggline are vital for Isis in an area where it doesn’t control oilwells, the intelligence sources quoted by the New York Times say.

Part of Isis’ revenue comes from taxes imposed on the population and from extortion as in Syria and Iraq.

Also worrying for the intelligence officers is the arrival of a great many recruits for Isis in Libya from different African countries ranging from Nigeria to Senegal, Chad to Sudan and passing through Mali.

Most of the Jihadists killed in the recent US air raid on Isis’ training camp at Sabratha were from different African countries, the sources said.

Many Isis leaders have come to Libya from Syria and Iraq to flee air raids by the US-led coalition. While the number of ISIS fighters has fallen to 25,000 from 31,500 in Syria and Iraq over the past few months, due to the air campaign, the number of fighters in Libya has more than doubled to some 6,500, msot of the concentrated in the Sirte area.

Against this background there has been icnreasing discussion of the need to step up the military campaignagainst Isis in Libya with President Obama ready to make a greater commitment as long as the Libyan national unity government starts to function and so long as allies such as Frane, Italy and the United Kingdom play their part, the New york Times said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Use of Base ‘Not Prelude to Intervention’, Gentiloni Says

‘Evaluations to be made by defence minister case by case’

(ANSA) — Istanbul, February 23 — The decision to allow armed American drones to take off from a NATO-Italian air base at Sigonella in Sicily for operations against the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) fundamentalist militia in Libya and North Africa “is not a prelude to military intervention”, Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said Tuesday.

“The use of bases does not require a specific communication to parliament, but rather evaluations will be made by the defense minister” on a case by case basis, he added.

The authorisation granted by the Italian government is “confirmation of the cooperation between Italy and the US on a case by case basis, and it is cooperation aimed at defense operations,” Gentiloni said.

“Moreover I don’t believe the authorization is aimed at Libya specifically, but at anti-terror operations in general,” he concluded.

On Monday The Wall Street Journal reported that the Italian government had agreed to let armed US drones use the base in January in operations against ISIS in Libya and across North Africa.

The deal came after over a year of negotiations, the US financial paper said. The green light reportedly arrived from Rome on the condition that the drones be used only “for purposes of defence, to protect US special forces operations in Libya”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

White House Concerned Over ISIS in Libya

‘Confidence in EU and new gov’t, but ready to take action’

(ANSAmed) — WASHINGTON, FEBRUARY 23 — Libya is an area of particular concern for the US as concerns the Islamic State (ISIS), presidential envoy for the international anti-ISIS coalition Brett McGurk said on Tuesday at a press briefing at the White House. He added that Libya is a somewhat different case from Syria and Iraq, even though ISIS uses the same tactics to attract foreign fighters as much as possible in all three countries. McGurk went on to say that a great deal of cooperation with European partners was expected in Libya and that it was hoped that a new government would be born in Tripoli, but that action would be taken if any new, direct threat emerged.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

15-Year-Old Swedish Girl Rescued From ISIS in Iraq for Second Time After Previously Running Back to Jihadists to Give Birth

A 15-year-old Swedish girl who ran away with her boyfriend to join ISIS has been rescued for a second time, in a raid carried out in Mosul, Iraq, by Kurdish special forces last week.

Marilyn Stefanie Nevalainen, from Boras, western Sweden was pregnant when she left her home country along with her 19-year-old ISIS-supporter boyfriend in May last year.

She was rescued from ISIS by Kurdish forces in late October, but escaped from her saviours to go back to her partner, and gave birth to a son days later, Swedish media reports.

Ms Nevalainen was first reported missing in June by both her biological parents and her foster family, after tricking the latter that the former had allowed her to go to Stockholm for a few days.

She was last seen at a train station on May 31, where she and her 19-year-old boyfriend were dropped off by her foster family, where she had been living since February.

According to Swedish media, the couple had married in a Muslim ceremony in Stockholm in early 2015.

The couple reportedly travelled via Denmark and Bulgaria, before entering Syria via Turkey, and joined an ISIS-linked group on arrival.

The first attempt to free Ms Nevalainen was carried out at the end of October, when she was heavily pregnant, but the teenager somehow managed to return to her boyfriend near Mosul.

           — Hat tip: AF [Return to headlines]

A “Nervous” NATO Fears Turkey, Russia May Soon Go to War

If you want our take — and let’s face it, you must because that’s why you’re here — we wouldn’t put too much faith in today’s announced Syrian “ceasefire” agreement.

Although the deal calls for the cessation of hostilities as of Saturday at midnight, you shouldn’t expect the Russians and the Iranians to halt their advance on Aleppo and likewise, you shouldn’t expect Turkey to stop shelling the Azaz corridor in a largely transparent effort to keep the supply lines to the rebels open.

The stakes are simply too high now. As we’ve explained exhaustively, the fall of Aleppo to Hezbollah and the Russians would for all intents and purposes be the end of the rebellion. Assad would once again control the bulk of the country’s urban backbone in the west and that would mean his rule would be effectively restored.

Additionally, don’t expect Hezbollah to simply pack up and head back to Lebanon once the rebels are defeated. Iran will most likely keep Hassan Nasrallah’s army in place to provide security as well as members of the various Shiite militias the Quds called over from Iraq. Similarly, the Russians won’t be going anywhere either. Vladimir Putin now has an air base and a naval base in Syria and The Kremlin will want to protect those installations vociferously during what is likely to be a turbulent couple of years following the demise of the rebel cause.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia know all of this and they’re fuming mad. The last thing Saudi Arabia wants is for Tehran to preserve the Shiite crescent and the supply line to Lebanon and Turkey is now in a bitter feud with the Russians following Erdogan’s ill-fated move to down an Su-24 near the border on November 24.

Both Riyadh and Ankara have indicated that they would participate in ground operations in Syria and most recently, the Turks have been busy shelling the Syrian Kurds to keep what’s left of the supply lines to the rebels open and prevent the Russian-backed YPG from consolidating territorial gains and uniting a Kurdish proto-state on Turkey’s border.

All of the above has NATO rattled, but the thing that worries the alliance the most is the possibility that Turkey will end up in an armed, direct confrontation with Russia. Were Russia to attack Turkey, NATO would be obligated to defend Ankara but that defense would mean going to war with Moscow and, most likely, with Iran.

Below, find some insightful — if slightly biased — commentary from Der Spiegel on NATO’s “Article 5” problem.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Bitter Backlash for Iraq’s ‘No Chocolate’ Cleric

Iraqis took to social media Monday to pile ridicule on a cleric who said in a sermon that people should cut down on chocolate bars to fight the economic crisis.

At a Baghdad mosque on Friday, Sheikh Jalaleddin al-Saghir took aim at Iraqis’ immoderate love of “Nestle” — a generic term for chocolate bars which they pronounce “Nestelleh”.

“Brothers, chocolate bars are not necessary. Restrict your spending because you may be in need tomorrow,” said the cleric, a former MP from one of the country’s leading parties.

A video of the sermon, in which Saghir suggests Iraqis could save 70 percent of their salaries if they tried a bit harder, has since gone viral, drawing widespread online anger and derision…

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

Syria: Islamic State Frees Last Group of Assyrian Christians of Hassaké

Confirmation in an official note of Acero, the Assyrian association that oversaw the negotiations for the release. Freed, for a fee, also the last 43 community members. To date there are more hostages in the hands of jihadists. In recent months three people had been executed.

Damascus (AsiaNews) — The militias of the Islamic State (IS) have released the last group of Christians (pictured), still in their hands, part of a community of at least 200 worshipers seized last year in the northeast of Syria . 42 people were released yesterday morning, thanks to the mediation of leaders of the Assyrian Church, which has worked for the release of all prisoners.

In a statement the members of Acero (Assyrian Church of the East Relief Organization, which focused first on the release of the Assyrian Christians) “confirm” the liberation “of the last group of hostages kidnapped in February 2015,” still in the hands of IS.

The group was met by the Assyrian bishop Mar Afram Athneil, who negotiated the terms of the release. To date, the statement continued, “there are no longer hostage” in the hands of militias and “any word contrary is without foundation.”

Thanking those who “worked in these 12 months” for the release of hundreds of faithful and “rejoicing” for the happy outcome of the case, the organization’s “ we mourn the tremendous losses, both human and material, suffered by the indigenous Assyrians of Syria”.

Some sources close to the Assyrian community, say that their release came after 18 million dollars was paid in ransom; others speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the payment of a large sum of money, “but not 18 million. less than half “was paid. One community member reports that, to date, the fate of five Assyrians, also seized last year by jihadists remains unknown and they are still untraceable.

A year ago, 23 February 2015, hundreds of Assyrian Christians of the villages along the Khabur River, near Tal Tamr, in the governorate of Al-Hasakah in northeastern Syria, were abducted by the Islamic State (IS). These included women, children and elderly. In the days following the collective seizure, the terrorists freed a first group of 19 Christians, following the payment of a ransom of about 1,700 US dollars each.

Later, through contacts with negotiators and spokesmen, an agreement had been reached for the delivery of all prisoners. However, an ambush — probably carried out by Kurdish fighters — of the jihadist convoy that was about to release all prisoners, scuttled the operation.

The kidnapping of Christian families — at least 250 people, but the exact numbers have always been uncertain, three of whom were summarily executed — happened during the offensive launched by jihadists against majority Assyrian villages in the northeast . This is an area of strategic importance, because it represents a kind of bridge between the lands of the Caliphate in Syria and Iraq and allows the opening of a corridor with Turkey for weapons, supplies and fighters.

Local witnesses reported that, following the offensive of Daesh militias [Arabic acronym of the Islamic state, IS], more than 5 thousand Assyrians — of 30 thousand that made up one of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East — decided to leave the country, choosing exodus in search of a safety and shelter.

Until March 2011 up to 40 thousand Assyrian Christians lived in Syria, when the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began, before being transformed over time into a bloody war that has caused 260 thousand deaths and over 11 million displaced people. There were at least 1.2 million Christians of varying denominations. Today the number, as in neighboring Iraq, has been halved.

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

Syria: ISIS ‘Take Key Postition in SE Aleppo’

Government troops attempting to retake town

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, FEBRUARY 23 — The Islamic State (ISIS) took over a key town in northern Syria near Aleppo on Tuesday, strengthening its presence along the main supply route for government forces between the northern and southern parts of the country. Reports were from local sources, who confirmed what had been stated by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). The sources said that ISIS had taken over Khanasser and that loyalists were attempting a counteroffensive on the ground and by air with Russian support to retake the town.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

The Smoking Gun: Phone Transcripts Show Turkish Military Allowed ISIS to Cross Syrian-Turkish Border

One of Turkey’s largest newspapers is reporting what the world already knows: Turkey is allowing ISIS and other terrorist groups to move freely across the Turkish-Syrian border.

“Friendly” phone conversations between Turkish border officers and ISIS fighters is the latest smoking gun:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Turkey: Davutoglu: Plan Worth 80 Mil to Support Tourism

To avoid fall after crisis with Russia and security alerts

ISTANBUL — A plan worth 225 million Turkish Lira (about 80 million Euros) to support the Turkish tourism sector, at risk of another blow this year after the crisis with Russia and security alerts following the recent terrorist attacks in Istanbul and Ankara was established, Turkish Premier Davutoglu announced adding that he was certain there would no be no further losses for the sector.

“We believe Russian tourists will return to Turkey” despite Moscow’s measures to discourage them, Davutoglu said.

The fall in Russian tourists is hitting the coastal areas hard, in particular resorts around Antalya.

Support for the sector includes incentives to the purchase of fuel geared towards airlines including the ones flying to and from Russia.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

BBC Claims Stalin Only Killed ‘Thousands’

The BBC has placed the number of people killed by the Russian Communist dictator Joseph Stalin in the “hundreds of thousands,” massively downplaying the truly horrific scale of his 30 year reign of terror. The true figure is dispute, but estimates place it in the tens of millions.

In an article published on Monday 22nd February — about a group of activists who have begun commemorating some of Stalin’s victims by affixing memorial plaques to buildings across Russia — the BBC’s Sarah Rainsford writes “the nameplates are gradually restoring the memory of some of the hundreds of thousands of victims of Joseph Stalin’s political repressions.”

The BBC claim that Stalin’s victims numbered mere thousands is made again in the article’s sub-headline which reads: “The BBC’s Sarah Rainsford in Moscow reports on a new scheme to remember the thousands of people executed in the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin.”

But Stalin’s victims didn’t number in the thousands, or even in the hundreds of thousands. Exact figures are unsurprisingly difficult to ascertain, given both the scope and scale of the massacres enacted by Stalin, but the true number is thought to be anywhere between 20 million (not including the 20 million Soviets who died fighting during World War II) to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s estimate of 60 million, a full ten times more than the number of Jews killed by Hitler during the Holocaust.

Those figures are equivalent to between nearly 13,000 and 40,000 people being killed every single week during Stalin’s 30 year reign between 1922 and 1952.

Millions of those people were poor peasants who died of starvation thanks to Stalin’s communist policies, but even if the BBC is referring strictly to those considered to be “enemies of the people” by the Communist regime, the numbers still run into the millions.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Pakistan: High Tensions Over Clemency Plea for Salman Taseer’s Murderer

President Mamnoon Hussain is expected to decide in the coming days whether to accept or reject a clemency plea by Mumtaz Qadri’s lawyers. Fearing retaliation, the president’s family has sought refuge at the president’s official residence. One of his three children recently escaped an assassination attempt. Police are ready to raise the alert level in the country and review Islamabad’s security arrangements.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) — Tensions are at their highest level in Pakistan, with the security forces ready to revise the capital’s security arrangements. In the coming days, President Mamnoon Hussain is expected to decide on whether to grant clemency to Mumtaz Qadri, the self-confessed murderer of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, who was sentenced to death.

Experts fear that if the death sentence is confirmed radical Muslims will engage in violence. In fact, some members of the president’s family, including one of his three children who narrowly escaped an assassination attempt, fled their homes for the relative safety of the presidential palace for fear of possible retaliation.

President Hussain will make his decision after a long legal process marked by threats. Only a few days ago, Professor Ibrahim, a former provincial ameer of the Jamaat-e-Islami (Islamist) party, threatened retaliation against the government if Qadri was not immediately released. The Islamist leader warned the president and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to protect themselves from the wrath of the people.

On 4 January 2011, Qadri, one of Taseer’s body guards, killed the governor as he left a restaurant in Islamabad, over his positions against the blasphemy law, which imposes life imprisonment or the death sentence for those who desecrate the Qur’an or the name of the prophet Muhammad.

Qadri has always claimed responsibility for the murder saying he wanted to punish the governor, who had also spoken in favour of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman charged with insulting the Prophet. For this reason, Islamists have hailed him as a “national hero”.

Qadri’s defence team has argued that the Federal Shari’a Court had jurisdiction in this case because their client acted in defence of Islam. For the lawyers, the accused murdered Taseer because the latter had spoken out against the blasphemy law, calling it “black law” and, therefore, had to be considered a blasphemer.

Qadri was sentenced to death in October 2011 by an anti-terrorism court, a decision that was upheld by the Islamabad High Court in February 2015 on the grounds that nothing justified “the murder of the victim”. Last October, his lawyers’ appeal to the Supreme Court of Pakistan was also rejected.

For Qadri, the last hope rests with President Hussain. The terrorist’s supporters are leaning heavily on him, but so far, there have been no leaks about his decision.

Meanwhile, the president and his family have been placed under stricter security arrangements in the president’s residence. One of his children, 25-year-old Salman Mamnoon Hussain, was targeted in a bomb attack in May 2015 near Karachi, but remained unharmed.

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

100,000 in Italy and Greece in 2016, 413 Deaths

UNHCR warns border restrictions could lead to chaos

Refugees and migrants on their arrival aboard a dinghy on the Greek island of Lesbo

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS/GENEVA, FEBRUARY 23 — Over 100,000 migrants and refugees have arrived in Greece and Italy this year, the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Since the beginning of 2016, the total number of arrivals in the two countries is at 110,054. In the same period, over 413 migrants and refugees lost their lives in the Mediterranean.

Greece alone had seen 102,547 arrive in the country as of February 22.

In 2015, the 100,000-migrant level was reached only in July. For Italy, after several days in which no migrants arrived due mainly to rough seas, a total of 940 migrants were rescued in the single day of January 22 in the Strait of Sicily. Since the beginning of the year, about 7,507 migrants arrived by sea to Italy. UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi expressed concern on Tuesday on Lesbos that over restrictive practices recently adopted by some European countries that cause undue inconvenience for refugees and asylum seekers and that are creating “chaos” at several spots along Europe’s internal borders. EU Immigration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos and Dutch (holder of EU presidency) interior minister Klaas Dijkhoff called on all EU member states to act jointly and with a sense of responsibility in a joint statement.

Brussels, after the latest “developments” on the Western Balkans route used by migrants, fears a humanitarian crisis in some countries, especially Greece, and called on all those along the route to draw up emergency plans to deal with humanitarian needs including reception facilities, Avramopoulos and Dijkhoff said.

Belgian interior minister Jan Jambon has meanwhile announced bolstering of border controls with France ahead of a partial evacuation of the migrant camp known as the ‘Calais Jungle’ scheduled for Wednesday. The evacuation has for the time being been postponed. The minister wants to prevent the dismantlement of the camp from leading to the creation of makeshift camps in Belgium, especially along the coast and the Zeebrugge port. Belgium has notified the EU Commission of the temporary introduction of border controls.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

88,277 Criminal Illegal Aliens Released

Some 88,277 illegal aliens officially classified as “criminal threats” were released without being deported in 2015, official statistics from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have shown.

Internal ICE figures show that in 2015, ICE detained 152,393 illegal immigrants labeled a criminal threat, but only charged 64,116.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Austrians Let 3,200 Per Day Into Germany

The Austrian government’s claims that it is “halting the flow of refugees to 80 per day” has been revealed as yet another hoax-and it is still sending around 3,200 nonwhite invaders every day into Germany.

The ruling Austrian Peoples’ Party (ÖVP)-Socialist Party of Austria (SPÖ) alliance’s deliberate deception in this regard is of such a devious nature that it has even angered the race-traitor German government.

[Comment: 80/day = propaganda and lies designed to mollify the growing public outrage.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Calais: In the Evening, As Soon as it Gets Dark One is in Danger

In front of a large crowd, Simone Héricourt, who is a native Calaisienne, tells a story of a town destroyed. Destroyed by illegal immigrants who come to town in large gangs to create havoc.

Describing what Calais looked like in her childhood, a safe and secure town that she loved, it has become a city of lawlessness, where the inhabitants are harassed by violent illegal immigrants, abandoned by the authorities, and living in fear.

If they protest, they are arrested, she says.

She blames the mayor of Calais, who has spent millions to please illegal immigrants, instead of pleasing the Calaisiens.

Citizens of Calais are evicted from their homes if they live too close to the immigrant areas, and along with her husband, who is seriously ill, she faces eviction from her home herself in the coming days.

           — Hat tip: AF [Return to headlines]

Danish Police Officer Speaks Out: Citizens Security is Threatened

The criticism from the policeman Mikkel Jørgensen from Thy is fierce.

After seven years with the police, he went on leave and has now gotten other work, he says to DR.

It was simply too hard to accept the pressure at work and the lack of resources to solve simple police tasks at the end:

– Now we have nine refugee centers in Thy, and we only have one patrol. If something happens inside one of the centers, we must not go in. Instead they send a car from Holstebro, and meanwhile we have to wait while the war rages inside the center, he said.

And for citizens in some areas it is virtually anarchy, he says.

– There is lawlessness. Drunk drivers and people without a license. It’s the Wild West. There will never come police to these areas, says Mikkel Jørgensen.

According to the now former cop, he is far from the only policeman who currently is considering throwing away the uniform.

           — Hat tip: AF [Return to headlines]

Germany: 217 Attacks on Invader Centers in 2016

There have been 217 attacks on invader centers in Germany this year already, according to an article in the Bild newspaper. The record number of attacks-which have included arson and other incidents-are an indication of the increasing ferocity of the growing resistance to the Angela Merkel-created nonwhite invasion.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Germany Asks Countries to Speed Migrant Repatriation

Sends letter to 17 countries

(ANSA) — Berlin, February 23 — Germany’s interior and foreign ministers have sent a letter to 17 countries asking for the repatriation of people who have been refused asylum in Germany to be accelerated, the Bild daily reported, citing the letter.

“The unprecedented escape and migratory movement of the last months has particularly hit Germany as a destination aim,” Bild cited Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier as saying in the letter.

“For this reason, those that do no not have the right to stay have to go back to their origin country more quickly than in the past.” The 17 countries to which the letter is addressed include Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria, Tunisia, Bangladesh and India.

Separately, European Commissioner for Immigration Dimitris Avramopoulos and Dutch Minister for Migration Klaas Dijkhoff said in a joint statement on Tuesday that the European Union must act with solidarity and responsibility, especially in times of difficulty.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Police in Cologne Launch New Sex Attack Investigation… Into Who Was Leaking Information to the Press About Cover Ups

Police in Cologne have launched a new sex attack investigation — into who was leaking information to the Press about cover-ups.

The Cologne force has repeatedly faced embarrassment over the leaks amid claims senior officers played down the role of immigrants in the wave of New Year sex attacks in the city.

Leaks included a secret internal document detailing the extent of the crimes, as well as an interview with a senior officer who revealed how they were receiving hundreds of requests for help on the night but were powerless to do anything.

The official added they were dealing with a level of disrespect for the law which they had never seen before.

Prosecutors in Cologne have confirmed that police are gathering material which will then be examined for evidence as to the source of the leaks that resulted in complaints from the region’s interior minister Ralf Jager.

           — Hat tip: AF [Return to headlines]

Portugal: This European Country Wants More Refugees — Many More

No, it’s no joke.

Come to us, says the government of Portugal, who will gladly accept 10,000 refugees from overfilled EU countries. The refugees will ensure that depopulated areas get new life.

The country’s socialist government hopes the refugees will be able to ensure that the country’s population does not decline in line with a strong emigration trend, reports ABC Nyheter.

The attitude of one of Europe’s most crisis-affected countries stands in sharp contrast to the setting in other EU countries, where the political rhetoric is characterized by fears that the refugees and migrants will create problems, both economically and socially, which has already happened many places.

Last week Prime Minister Antonio Costa sent letters to Greece, Italy, Germany and Austria. Where he opens up to accommodate up to 5,800 more refugees than the 4,500 the country has already agreed to under the EU quota system.

           — Hat tip: AF [Return to headlines]

Slovenian Parliament Approves Border Police Powers to Army

For managing migrant flows

(ANSA) — TRIESTE — The Slovenian Parliament has approved new legislation which allows additional police powers to military forces at the border with Croatia, Sta agency reported. The new regulation, valid for three months with a possibility of extension, allows military to take decisions independently in absence of the border police among other things. The necessary two thirds majority has been obtained following a five hour discussion on Monday evening, with 66 votes in favour and 5 against.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: PD Agrees to Drop Stepchild Adoption From Civil Unions

Renzi to slap confidence vote on bill

(ANSA) — Rome, February 23 — The Senate caucus of the ruling centre-left Democratic Party (PD) on Tuesday agreed to drop a so-called stepchild adoption provision in its civil unions bill.

It also agreed to the government filing a so-called maxi-amendment the bill, and putting this to a confidence vote.

That vote will likely be held Thursday.

The provision on adopting the biological children of partners, including same-sex ones, was removed after the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) pulled its support for the bill last week.

Without M5S backing, PD Premier Matteo Renzi opted to turn to his junior ruling coalition partner for support. But the small New Center Right (NCD) party led by Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said this was conditional on the PD dropping the stepchild adoptions clause.

Renzi told his PD Tuesday that the M5S “can’t make fools of the PD” by “playing games” over the bill, now in its first Senate reading.

He said he “defended” a bid to get the M5S on board but noted that “there was an unexpected about-face — they tricked us”.

He said “now we can’t risk sinking a law that is crucial to millions of Italians… the M5S are playing at the expense of rights with a cavalier position.” The bill is set to go forward without the stepchild adoption measure as demanded by the NCD.

PD Senator Monica Cirinnà, the bill’s rapporteur, said Tuesday that she backed Renzi’s proposal to file a big amendment to the package and put it to a confidence vote.

“It’s a vote of confidence in the country, not in the government,” Cirinnà told a meeting of PD Senators.

The M5S on Tuesday said it was ready to vote for the bill and accused the PD of being “scared of parliament”, arguing Renzi would rather maim the bill and be sure it will pass rather than risk submitting it to proper debate.

The M5S has been blamed for the dropping of the stepchild adoption provision because of its last-minute refusal to back a ‘kangaroo amendment’ that would have knocked down hundreds of other amendments presented by opponents to the bill, which otherwise would have had to be debated one by one.

The Renzi government has in the past used the so-called kangaroo to bypass opposition obstructionism in order to push other reforms through.

A leftist minority member of the PD appeared to agree with the M5S on this, saying the government was wrong to compromise with its center-right coalition partner. “Renzi chose to deliver himself to the NCD,” said PD Senator Miguel Gotor. The bill might have passed as it stands after debate had the government not been in such a rush to push it through, Gotor argued.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

9 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 2/23/2016

  1. Re the Toronto stabbings – dozens of 16-18 year old men “run for their life” and didn’t dare to confront a 14-yr old girl who was playing with “big shiny knifes”. What a sad and miserable joke Western males have become.

    • Here’s a tip for any of the young guys who aren’t male feminists: if someone pulls a knife on you, grab a chair which should be pretty common in high schools. Use the chair as a weapon… It has more reach, mass, and the legs are good for poking.

      Been there, done that. Fortunately for him, the kid with the knife backed down but the useless “teacher” seemed very uninterested in the incident.

      • My son, when faced with a similar situation in the dorm at school used a mattress as a shield and battering ram.

      • Some males and females I imagine have taken note and will respond a la naturelle next time. In fact planned prepared responses may be in the planning here there and everywhere as the liberal mob ducks, denies, prayz dumb and cowers. The heterosexual men and women, boys and girls acting as team players will probably survive quite well.

        • Mentally planning a response is rather important as people tend to freeze in panic when they haven’t thought of a response ahead of time.

  2. Also in the news: Hungarian PM announced his intention to organize a referendum on whether to accept mandatory EU quotas for migrants, protesting that Brussels has no right to “redraw Europe’s cultural and religious identity”. The referendum would ask voters: “Do you want the EU to prescribe the mandatory relocation of non-Hungarian citizens to Hungary without the approval of the Hungarian parliament?”

    This is the next best step for other countries with blood and brains, like Poles, Czechs and Slovaks. There are no others so far, as strong and straight. Good for them!

  3. “Establishment Declares War on Trump”

    Another reference to Talmud recommending that Jesus be boiled in feces? Allegedly, the Lubavitcher Rebbe was particularly enamored of this reading. Except …. the Chabad version of the relevant Babylonian Talmud tractate doesn’t mention Jesus/Yeshu at all.

    Also, the only time religion is mentioned is when it’s the gaggle of way left Jews at the Southern Poverty Law Center. While this center is loathsome in every way, it’s always da Jooz who get singled out.

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