Gates of Vienna News Feed 3/27/2016

A suicide bomber killed more than 60 people today when he exploded himself in a park in Pakistan. The park was crowded with Christians who had gathered to celebrate Easter.

Some analysts believe the attack was revenge for the invasion of Afghanistan by Pakistani Christians. Others think it is because Pakistani Christian airplanes bombed Muslims in Syria. Still others surmise that it may have been due to resentment over the past colonization of Muslim lands by Pakistani Christians. It’s also possible that Muslims were angry because the ancestors of today’s Pakistani Christians took part in the Crusades — the so-called “Pakis’ Crusade” in the 11th century.

And, yes, nothing in the paragraph above is true. I made it all up. But not the first paragraph; that’s real.

In other news, a pipe bomb exploded in an alleyway in Anaheim, California on the afternoon of Easter Day, punching a hole in a door. No one was injured. This one is also true.

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

Thanks to AF, C. Cantoni, Dean, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, KS, LP, MM, 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
» French Unemployment Hits New Record
» Italy: Moody’s OKs BPM-Banco Merger
» Italy: Retail Sales Flat in Jan on Dec, Down 0.8% on 2015
» No Sackings After BPM-Banco Create Italy’s 3rd-Top Bank
» Sovereign Debt for Territory: A New Global Elite Swap Strategy
» 2 Shot Dead and Police Officer Wounded in Tampa
» Communist Party USA (CPUSA) Recruits 1100 Priests to Join Catholic Church
» Deal Reached to Boost California’s Minimum Wage to $15, Avoiding Ballot Box Battle
» Milo: Why Does Everyone Think Bernie Sanders is a Nice Person?
» Neighbors Say Homes Shook During Pipe Bomb Explosion in Anaheim
» The Scalia Death Shines a Light on What the Supreme Court Really is.
» Watch: ‘America Should Not Become Like Brussels’ Says Belgian Pro-Trump Politician
Europe and the EU
» Daily Mail: UK Taxpayers Money Has Funded Terrorists
» Hungary: Eur 1.2 Bln Foreign Direct Investment in 2015
» Italy Leads EU for Quality-Food Laurels
» Italy: Priest Indicted for Underage Sex
» Khalid Zerkani: Brussels’ Jihadist Preacher Who ‘Perverted a Generation’
» Migrants Flood to Idomeni on Rumours Border Will be Forced Open
» Poland: Health Insurance Policies Up by 21%
» Postcard From a Failed State? Attacks Cast Light on Belgium’s State Crisis
» Prominent Business Leader Predicts ‘Massive Economic Problems’ If Britain Remains in EU
» Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia Most Corrupt EU Countries
» Spain: Barcelona Mayor Praises Podemos After Criticizing Leader’s “Arrogance”
» UK Tabloid Censured Over Story of Muslims’ IS Support
» UK Will Deploy Over 2,000 Additional Police Officers to Patrol Streets
» UK: Pictured: Schoolgirl, Seven, Killed in Bouncy Castle Horror After it Was Lifted by Winds and Blown 150 Yards Across a Park
Middle East
» Bold: Female Arab Journalist Asks, ‘What if Christians Were Suicide Bombers?’
» Syrian Army Retakes Palmyra From ISIS
South Asia
» Easter Massacre! At Least 53 Dead After Suicide Bomber Targets Christians Celebrating Easter in Lahore Park
Far East
» China: Profits for Oil, Cement, And Coal Companies Plunge by Up to 60 Per Cent
Latin America
» Trump Effigy Set Ablaze in Mexico Easter Ritual
» Is Italy Ready for the Next Wave of Migrants?

French Unemployment Hits New Record

France’s unemployment rate rose 1.1 percent in the month of February, pushing jobless numbers to a record 3.591 million people, the Labour Ministry said Thursday.

The monthly spike is the sharpest since September 2013 and follows a slight dip in January that had raised hopes of an end to years of surging unemployment.

It comes as students and trade unions staged new protests in cities across France on Thursday against government plans to reform the labour market.

France’s Socialist government says the reform will help create jobs by introducing greater flexibility in the labour market…

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

Italy: Moody’s OKs BPM-Banco Merger

Combined banks can ‘weather more competitive environment’

(ANSA) — Milan, March 25 — Moody’s Investors Service on Friday said that the merger between Italian banks Banco Popolare and Banca Popolare di Milano (BPM) is “credit positive” in the long-term for the two banks as well as the entire Italian banking system.

Moody’s said the combined banks, which together will form Italy’s third-largest bank, “will be able to weather a more competitive banking environment”.

Moody’s cited increased efficiency, revenue diversification, additional capital, and improved governance as positives in its assessment.

“Both Banco and BPM mostly operate in the relatively wealthy northern Italy, an overlap which offers the opportunity to rationalise their branch networks,” the rating agency said.

“In addition, a larger group could offer a wider range of products in a more efficient manner, which would in turn improve revenue diversification”.

The additional capital from Banco Popolare’s agreement to a one-billion-euro capital increase, in light of requests by the European Central Bank prior to giving its preliminary approval, is also seen by Moody’s as positive.

“The proceeds will be used to increase the coverage of problem loans up to 49% from 43% while the bank’s Common Equity Tier 1 ratio will remain at its current level; this is credit positive for the senior debt and deposit ratings on both institutions,” Moody’s said.

“The merger will also contribute to improved governance, which has so far been a weakness for BPM”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Retail Sales Flat in Jan on Dec, Down 0.8% on 2015

Biggest year-on-year drop since Nov 2014

(ANSA) — Rome, March 24 — Italian retail sales were flat in January with respect to December and down 0.8% with respect to the same month in 2015, Istat said on Thursday. It was the biggest year-on-year drop since November 2014.

The national statistics agency said sales for small shops were down 2% but up 0.6% for major retailers. “In January 2016 the seasonally adjusted retail trade index remained unchanged compared with December 2015 (0.0% for food goods and 0.1% for non-food goods),” Istat said.

“The average of the last three months compared to the previous three months decreased by 0.1%. The unadjusted index decreased by 0.8% with respect to January 2015”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

No Sackings After BPM-Banco Create Italy’s 3rd-Top Bank

Saviotti says employees are our strength

(ANSA) — Milan, March 24 — Banco Popolare and Banca Popolare di Milano (BPM) said Thursday that their merger will create a strong bank that needs all of the employees currently on the books. The two lenders agreed to merge on Wednesday to form Italy’s third-biggest bank and the European Central Bank has given preliminary approval after Verona-based Banco Popolare agreed to a one-billion-euro capital increase. “It is absolutely the best possible result,” BPM CEO Giuseppe Castagna, who is set to become the chief executive of the merged group, said on Thursday. “A solid bank has been born”. Banco Popolare CEO Pier Francesco Saviotti said that there will be no redundancies after the merger. “There won’t be any problems regarding the employees, there won’t be any sackings,” Saviotti told a news conference. “Those who leave will do so because they want to take part in the solidarity funds. “The employees are our strength, just like the clients are”. Saviotti said that Banco Popolare had “no alternative” to a capital increase in the light of the ECB requests, which he described as “excessive”.

Saviotti had previously ruled out a capital increase, but said the bank would have no trouble raising the money. The combined bank will have around 171 billion euros in assets, 2,500 branches and 25,000 staff, meaning only Intesa Sanpaolo and UniCredit are bigger lenders in Italy.

Banco Popolare’s shareholders will have 54% of the new bank, compared to 46% for BPM shareholders.

The merger comes after the Italian government passed a reform of the banking industry aimed at encouraging consolidation in a system many experts consider too fragmented.

Premier Matteo Renzi’s government recently had to take action to save four small lenders — including one in which Reform Minister Maria Elena Boschi’s father was a vice president.

But the rescue left many investors with worthless shares and bonds in those banks, leading to a huge furore and no-confidence motions that the executive had to fend off. Giuseppe Castagna said the merger will not result in any spinoffs. “We are not obligated to make any sales,” he told reporters. “Obviously there will be some rationalizing,” he added. “It’s possible to find some synergies and through them it will be possible to value some of these assets, including externally, and in ways we will invent while coming up with an industrial plan”. Castagna added BPM is not considering any other mergers.

“We face a burdensome task,” he said. “Right now we’re concentrating on this merger”. The merger got a frosty reception on the Milan stock exchange, with BPM’s share price losing 5.9% and Banco Popolare’s stock 6.63% down.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Sovereign Debt for Territory: A New Global Elite Swap Strategy

Sovereign debts are a major problem in just about every country in the world, including the US, UK and EU nations. So much so, those debts have become a Damocles’ Swords threatening the livelihood of untold billions of workers around the world.

One often wonders why governments indebt themselves for so much more than they can ever hope to pay… Here, Western economists, bankers, traders, Ivy League academics and professors, Nobel laureates and the mainstream media have a quick and monolithic reply: because all nations need “investment and investors” if they wish to build highways, power plants, schools, airports, hospitals, raise armies, service infrastructures and a long list of et ceteras, economic and national activities are all about.

But more and more people are starting to ask a fundamental common-sense question: why should governments indebt themselves in hard currencies, decades into the future with global mega-bankers, when they could just as well finance these projects and needs far more safely by issuing the proper amounts of their own local sovereign currency instead?

Here is where all the above “experts” go berserk & ballistic, shouting back: “Issue currency? Are you crazy?? That’s against the “rules & laws” of economics!!! Issuing national sovereign currency to finance the real economy’s monetary needs leads to inflation and lost jobs and chaos and… (puts us nice mega-bankers out of a job…)!!.” That’s when they all gang-up into noisy “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!!” mode.

Then you ask them: What happens when countries default on their unpayable sovereign debts — as they invariably and repeatedly do — not just in Argentina, but in Brazil, Spain, Venezuela, France, Costa Rica, Peru, El Salvador, Portugal, Russia, Bolivia, Iceland, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Thailand, Nigeria, Mexico, and Indonesia?

Again the voice of the “experts”: “Then countries must “restructure” their debts kicking them forwards 20, 40 or more years into the future, so that your great, great, great grandchildren can continue paying them”. Oh, I see!

The truth is that countries need public spending to maintain their economies resilient and buoyant, their citizens working, prospering and happy; their nation-states sovereign, strong and secure.

[Comment: Communists in the US government would not hesitate to allow Chinese troops to invade and claim US land in lieu of debt payment — especially if they were losing a civil war against constition loving Americans.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

2 Shot Dead and Police Officer Wounded in Tampa

The shooting happened north of Busch Gardens

A Tampa police officer was wounded and two other men were fatally shot Saturday after officers received reports of gunshots fired between two vehicles driving north of Busch Gardens. Tampa police were investigating the shooting that ended in the parking lot of a Hyatt Place hotel.

Tampa police Officer Jose Rodriguez, 53, was wounded, said Tampa police spokeswoman Andrea Davis. He was taken to Tampa General Hospital and was expected to survive.

Patrick Matthew McManamon, 46, was shot and killed when he opened fire on Rodriguez as the veteran officer arrived at the Hyatt Place hotel, according to police.

Rodriguez and another officer returned fire, and McManamon, who was shot an unknown number of times, later died at a hospital.

Officers found the other man, Edward Leroy King, 51, shot in the parking lot when they arrived, police said. Detectives are classifying King’s death as a homicide…

           — Hat tip: Dean [Return to headlines]

Communist Party USA (CPUSA) Recruits 1100 Priests to Join Catholic Church

What follows is a true story. It explains how the communists plotted the downfall of the Catholic Church — and have come a long way toward achieving their objectives. It is a story that is difficult to believe… but it is the absolute truth and is exemplary of just how far diseased minds go to achieve the objectives of world dominance.

The book School of Darkness was published in 1954. It was written by Bella Dodd, from 1932 — 1948 an organizer for the Communist Party USA (CPUSA). For four years, she sat on the CPUSA’s National Council. Bella Dodd says: “In the 1930s we put eleven hundred men into the priesthood in order to destroy the Church from within.” In a Fordham University lecture, in 1950, she said: “Right now they are in the highest places in the Church.”

This may help some people understand the socialist/communist messages that periodically emerge from priestly commentary at Sunday Mass — or from the Pope in Rome. Just as America today is the result of policies put quietly in place in the late 1800s to turn our Republic into a corporation, the Church today faces the problems caused by those eleven hundred communists placed in the Catholic Church by CPUSA way back in the 1930s and 40s…

Specifically, Mrs. Dodd said: “In the 1930s we (CPUSA) put eleven hundred men into the priesthood in order to destroy the Church from within.” The idea was for these men to be ordained and progress to positions of influence and authority as Monsignors and Bishops. Just 12 years before Vatican II, held in 1962, she said: “Right now they are in the highest places in the Church.” The plan was to weaken the church’s effectiveness against Communism. She stated that these changes would be so drastic, “you will not recognize the Catholic Church.”

During her Fordham University lecture in 1950, Dodd talked of the chaos planned. A monk who attended the lecture is quoted from Christian Order:

“I listened to that woman for four hours and she had my hair standing on end. Everything she said has been fulfilled to the letter. You would think she was the world’s greatest prophet, but she was no prophet. She was merely exposing the step-by-step battle plan of Communist subversion of the Catholic Church. She explained that of all the world’s religions, the Catholic Church was the only one feared by the Communists… The whole idea was to destroy, not the institution of the Church, but rather the Faith of the people, and even use the institution of the Church, if possible, to destroy the Faith through the promotion of a pseudo-religion: something that resembled Catholicism but was not the real thing.

“Once the Faith was destroyed,” the Monk continued, “she explained that there would be a guilt complex introduced into the Church… to label the ‘Church of the past’ as being oppressive, authoritarian, full of prejudices, arrogant in claiming to be the sole possessor of truth, and responsible for the divisions of religious bodies throughout the centuries. This would be necessary to shame Church leaders into an ‘openness to the world,’ and to a more flexible attitude toward all religions and philosophies. The Communists would then exploit this openness in order to undermine the Church.”

Has anyone listened to the recent comments of Pope Francis lately? They ring with “openness.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Deal Reached to Boost California’s Minimum Wage to $15, Avoiding Ballot Box Battle

Lawmakers and labor unions have struck a tentative deal to raise the statewide minimum wage to $10.50 an hour next year and then gradually to $15, averting a costly political campaign this fall and possibly putting California at the forefront of a national movement.

The deal was confirmed Saturday afternoon by sources close to the negotiations who would speak only on condition of anonymity until Gov. Jerry Brown makes a formal announcement as early as Monday.

[Comment: Watch for mass layoffs as a move to robots takes place and/or business departures from California.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Milo: Why Does Everyone Think Bernie Sanders is a Nice Person?

On the topic of Bernie Sanders, Yiannopoulos questioned the assumption that he is a “nice guy.”

“People think Bernie Sanders is nice. I don’t get it…is he a nice guy? No, he wants socialism in America. It’s poisonous, ugly, oppressive, political philosophy that has made people suffer everywhere that it’s been tried.”

Yiannopoulos claimed that the end of social justice culture may be near: “If they break this time, they are losing with the full support of politicians, the media, and academia.

If people rise up and say this social justice thing, this language policing, this political correctness, safe spaces, trigger warnings, microaggressions — this stuff is horsesh*t…. If enough people smash its stranglehold on the public square, it will never recover,” Yiannopoulos claimed.

“It will never come back like this again because it will lose at the height of its powers. It will lose in its strongest possible form.”

“Social justice cannot get any stronger than it is now. It’s at the peak of its powers and it is losing. It’s losing because people want freedom. they want to be able to do, say, think, be, play, and read anything,” Yiannopoulos said.

           — Hat tip: AF [Return to headlines]

Neighbors Say Homes Shook During Pipe Bomb Explosion in Anaheim

ANAHEIM ( — A pipe bomb exploded Sunday afternoon in an alleyway in Anaheim, authorities said.

The device, according to police, had been placed on the ground near a utility pole at E. Wilhelmina Street and Anaheim Boulevard.

The blast was so strong that it sent the end-cap punching through a wooden structure, creating a round hole in a door.

Investigators say the bomb was made of metal though it remains unclear what type.

The explosion happened near homes with some neighbors reporting that they felt their residences shaking during the blast.

“It was like around 1:30 and I was assisting some customers that were with me. We were talking about a vehicle when we hear the explosion happen in the alleyway,” said Anna Trujillo, who works at a car dealership nearby.

She initially thought there had been a shooting.

“It was too loud to be a shot so we were like, “It has to be a bomb.’ And then we see all the white smoke coming out,” Trujillo said. “I was scared.”

           — Hat tip: LP [Return to headlines]

The Scalia Death Shines a Light on What the Supreme Court Really is.

Today I am going to show you what the court is actually empowered to do under the constitution. Not what you have been TOLD all of your life. Not what the liars and controllers want you to believe. But what it is actually empowered to do. And after I do that you will see that it makes perfect sense. And you will see that if the court was doing what it was actually authorized to be doing, there wouldn’t be ANY CONCERN at all about who was ON THE COURT. Because it wouldn’t hardly matter to you.

The judicial section of the constitution is short. You should go look. But I will save you some time. The activating portion of it is really just ONE SENTENCE.

The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.

That my friend is ALL it says about the supreme court’s supposed powers. Do “judicial powers” mean that the court can amend the constitution? Of course not. Does having “judicial power” mean that once the court rules in one case that that the opinion “becomes the constitutional law” for all cases that follow? No. Does it say that once the court rules that there must be a constitutional amendment to “overturn it”? No. It doesn’t say ANY of those things because none of them are true. Those are all lies you have been told.

Judicial power is just that. The court is there to rule on actual cases and controversies. NOTHING more. They can’t issue sweeping edicts about whether a law is or is not constitutional in general. All they can do is decide a single case. Here is a simple explanation of what the court is empowered to handle.


The tyranny of the s.ct. does not come from the s.ct. being the final arbiter of a case. It does not stem from them exercising the judicial power over a case or controversy that they are granted in the constitution. The tyranny comes from the FALSE and totally UNSUPPORTED concept that the court’s opinion in one case is BINDING on every other case and on all people in ALL CASES for all times.

And that principle has nothing to do with exercising “judicial power” . It has nothing to do with anything in the constitution. That “power” has just been MADE UP.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Watch: ‘America Should Not Become Like Brussels’ Says Belgian Pro-Trump Politician

Expressing surprise the video had gone viral so rapidly, racking up well over a million views so far, People’s Party founder and leader Mischaël Modrikamen said he was locked out of the mainstream media in Europe. He told Breitbart London: “Although we get six per cent in the polls, we are basically more or less banned from all media.

“We get interviewed on television once a year. They try to shut me down. Despite what all has happened, not a single Belgian journalist has called us”.

Mr. Modrikamen explained why Brussels had become such a haven for radical Islam, and why it was so important for America to not follow in Europe’s footsteps. He said: “I wish Mr. Trump success because I don’t want the United States to become the new Brussels. I was reinforcing his message, and that was just days before the attack here.

“We are a very weak state with no identity. A weak state with very weak politicians for the last 40-50 years. Socialism dominates along with multiculturalism in Brussels and Wallonia, and they turn a blind eye to Islamism. They close their eyes”.

Explaining why politicians in Belgium were so happy to look the other way when it came to Islamism, he said: “The leftist parties would have vanished from Brussels without the support of the Muslim population here. And we have to let people know in the United States that according to demographic reports, we now have approximately 30-35 per cent Muslim population, and this is re-enforced every day by the migrant invasion.

           — Hat tip: AF [Return to headlines]

Daily Mail: UK Taxpayers Money Has Funded Terrorists

The scandal of how Britain fritters away billions in foreign aid — including paying salaries to convicted terrorists who have murdered hundreds of innocent people — is exposed today by a major MoS investigation.

The shocking revelation that thousands of Palestinian terrorists, including men who have masterminded suicide bombings and murdered children, are given cash handouts from aid money will cause anger and disbelief, particularly in the wake of the Brussels massacres.

Our probe exposed how huge amounts of taxpayers’ cash, that critics say should be spent in Britain, is being ‘squandered’ on wasteful schemes elsewhere by the Department For International Development (DFID) and Foreign Office.

Despite claims of astonishing waste, the Government maintains a dogged adherence to the commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of the nation’s income on foreign aid — the highest proportion of any of the world’s major economies — even though last year it had to borrow £70 billion.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Hungary: Eur 1.2 Bln Foreign Direct Investment in 2015

Drop compared to 2014 (5.6 bln) and 2013 (2.5 bln)

(ANSA) — BUDAPEST — Direct foreign investment in Hungary amounted to 1.2 billion euros in 2015 — a drop compared to 2014 (5.6 billion) and 2013 (2.5 billion), Hungarian media reported referring to the data released by the National bank (Mnb).

The investments of Hungarian citizens abroad amounted to 1.3 billion euros in 2015.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy Leads EU for Quality-Food Laurels

Emilia Romagna, Veneto top with 77 each

(ANSA) — Rome, March 25 — Italy has stretched its lead over France for EU quality-food protection labels, Istat said Friday.

As of December 2014 Italy had 269 food products that have won one of the three prestigious traditional-food laurels: Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and Traditional Specialities Guaranteed (TSG).

Of these, 103 were fruit, vegetable or cereals; 49 cheeses; 43 extra-virgin olive oil; and 38 meat specialities.

Of the Italian regions, Emilia-Romagna and Veneto shared top spot with 77 products each.

“This result confirms a winning recipe,” said Farm Minister Maurizio Martina.

Tuscan Bread was the latest Italian delicacy to earn a PDO, earlier this month.

Before that, Piedmont salami got a PGI designation last July.

In November 2014 the culinary pride of Romagna, the time-honoured piadina flat-bread sandwich, kept up Italy’s lead in Europe’s quality-food stakes.

The piadina, which dates back to Roman times, was recognized by European officials for its unique origins and importance as a traditional fast food, receiving formal protection as a significant Italian product.

The European Protected Geographic Indication means the soft, rich flatbread that is the perfect base for cheese, ham or other sandwiches will now be protected from weak imitations and fakes.

The PGI designation has become increasingly well known internationally as representing quality food products with a confirmed Italian pedigree.

The more stringent Protected Denomination of Origin is also known around the world as a certification of the authentic origins and production methods, specific to a region.

These protect some of Italy’s most iconic products such as olive oil and the balsamic vinegar of the Emilia Romagna region.

Under EU law, products must abide by strict production regulations and geographical restrictions to be graded as genuine and worthy of an PGI or PDO seal.

The PGI certification traces food specialties back to their geographical origin during at least one phase in production, but not to all phases like the PDO seal.

Italian authorities are continually battling the sale of the counterfeits of the nation’s traditional food products.

Italy has long been a leader in food designations France comes in a distant second at 200 such products, followed by Spain with 170.

Italy has kept up its lead over the years with a fund of scrumptious entries.

For example, five years ago, in 2011, a sheep’s cheese produced on the hillsides near Enna in Sicily earned an EU quality-food laurel.

The Piacentinu Ennese, cultivated with centuries-old lore and laced with a distinctive touch of saffron, won a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) appellation, the most prestigious of the EU’s three food quarantees that keep genuine articles safe from inferior pretenders.

Italy’s almost 270 quality foods generate a turnover of more than six billion euros a year, amid rising interest from new consumers in China, India, Vietnam and Thailand.

Before the Enna cheese, the most recent Italian entry was a type of chestnut native to the Val di Susa in Piedmont, the ‘Marrone della Valle di Susa’, which won a PGI label in November.

The nut owes its creamy-white and crunchy flesh to the special soil of the valley north of Turin, experts say, and has been a staple of the local economy since the Middle Ages.

The nut followed into the rankings a type of wheat called spelt (‘farro’) once used by the Romans and still cultivated in the fields around Spoleto, which earned a PDO in July.

Before the farro, entries included a traditional pastry from Siena and a potato grown around Bologna.

Siena’s famed Ricciarelli biscuits, a slim lozenge-shaped dainty that morphed from an original curly creation by a Crusading knight impressed by an Arab sweetmeat, won a PGI label. The ‘Patata di Bologna’ won a PDO.


Italy’s special foods have put in a spurt in the last five years.

A fragrant white celery from Sperlonga received a PGI label aimed at keeping other celeries from posing as the aromatic product from the marshlands near the ancient coastal village between Rome and Naples which have for centuries produced the unique vegetable.

The ‘Mela di Valtellina’ won a PGI label to guard the strongly scented, firm-fleshed apple from the sub-Alpine valley.

In January 2010 that Italian food glory, Neapolitan pizza, got a long-awaited TSG label.

In December 2009 a ‘prosciutto crudo’ from Cuneo claimed a PDO.

It was the third product to get a PDO in less than a week, following a chestnut from the Tuscan village of Caprese Michelangelo and the Piennolo tomato from the slopes of Mt Vesuvius.

In October 2009, a traditional sour cherry jam produced near Modena, ‘Amarene Brusche di Modena’ was awarded a PGI, while ‘Ciauscolo’, a large soft spreadable sausage from the Marche region, got the same recognition in August 2009.

Other recent additions have included Sicily’s ‘Pagnotta del Dittaino’ bread, with a PDO label; Roman suckling lamb, abbacchio romano, which earned a PGI label; and Modena’s balsamic vinegar, another PGI.

Italian culinary glories like Parmigiano, buffalo mozzarella, mortadella, lardo di Colonnata, Ascoli olives, pesto sauce and Pachino plum tomatoes have been protected for some time.

Lesser-known munchies like Mt Etna prickly pears and Paestum artichokes swelled the ranks in 2009 along with two kinds of saffron, from San Gimignano and L’Aquila.

A range of salamis, rices, honeys and nuts are also on the protected list.

Several up-and-coming regional wines have earned TGIs.

PDO identifies a product whose characteristics are exclusively dependant on a geographical origin and whose productive phases all take place in the specified area.

PGI defines a product whose characteristics can be connected with its geographical origin and that has at least one productive phase located in the specified area.

TSG distinguishes a product whose raw materials, composition or recipe, production method or transformation, are of a traditional type.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Priest Indicted for Underage Sex

Father Alberto Paolo Lesmo ‘paid for sex with drugs’

(ANSA) — Milan, March 25 — Milan prosecutors have indicted Father Alberto Paolo Lesmo, accusing him of paying with cash and drugs for sex with a minor, ANSA sources said on Friday.

Prosecutors said that between 2009 and 2011, Lesmo paid a boy aged between 14 and 17 for sex, at times also paying with illegal drugs.

Another person not connected to the Church has also been indicted in the case, and prosecutors said that on one occasion that suspect raped the minor involved.

A preliminary hearing date has not yet been set.

Milan Archbishop Angelo Scola suspended Lesmo on Friday from his duties as parish priest at Santa Marcellina Church in the Milan neighborhood of Muggiano, as well as deacon of the neighboring Baggio district.

The Archdiocese of Milan said it learned of the investigation on March 2.

It said it also learned that Lesmo was the subject of a police search at the parish church in 2013, but that “the priest didn’t notify his superiors at the diocese in any way”.

“Only in recent days was the archdiocese given permission to intervene, so as to not obstruct the investigation,” the archdiocese said. The archidiocese has opened its own investigation, and it said that at no time was the archbishop or the archidiocese aware of the crimes for which Lesmo is accused.

Scola on Friday expressed “shock and sorrow” at the news.

ANSA sources said prosecutors had initially asked for Lesmo’s arrest but were denied by a preliminary judge.

Prosecutors then appealed to the Court of Reexamination, which confirmed the arrest request, but Lesmo’s defence attorney appealed to Italy’s Court of Cassation.

It rejected the Court of Reexamination’s decision based on a recent legal change requiring pre-trial custody orders to be carried out in cases where the crimes in question present a “current danger”.

As Lesmo’s alleged crimes occurred in 2009-2011, the Court of Cassation rejected the arrest request.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Khalid Zerkani: Brussels’ Jihadist Preacher Who ‘Perverted a Generation’

Thursday’s arrest near Paris of a man alleged to have been in the “advanced stages” of plotting a terrorist attack has cast the spotlight back on a Brussels-based jihadist recruitment network that Belgian authorities cracked but failed to neutralise.

Reda Kriket, whom French police arrested in the Paris suburb of Argenteuil on Thursday, had been convicted in absentia by Belgian authorities for his role in the so-called “Zerkani network” — which radicalised Muslim youths and pushed them to wage jihad in Syria.

The network’s leader, radical preacher Khalid Zerkani, has been described by Belgian investigators as the country’s “biggest recruiter” of jihadist fighters…

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

Migrants Flood to Idomeni on Rumours Border Will be Forced Open

Hopeful refugees flooded back Sunday to Greece’s overwhelmed Idomeni migrant camp on the border with Macedonia, creating confusion, after rumours that the closed frontier would be forced open.

The influx came as Greek authorities were trying to evacuate the estimated 11,600 people stranded in the squalid camp after Balkan states slammed shut the migrants’ route into the European Union.

Dozens of hopeful refugees gathered on railway tracks at Idomeni and at the fence on the frontier, singing and waiting for others like them to arrive, as Greek police in riot gear stood guard…

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

Poland: Health Insurance Policies Up by 21%

1.4 million Poles insured in 2015

(ANSA) — WARSAW — The overall number of individual and group health insurance policies in Poland grew by 21% in 2015 compared to the year before, amounting to a total of 483 million of zloty (around 114 million euros), a report by the Polish Insurance Association (Piu) shows.

The number of Poles insured grew by 19% on a yearly basis, reaching a total of 1.43 million in 2015.

During the year, individual clients acquired 272,000 policies.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Postcard From a Failed State? Attacks Cast Light on Belgium’s State Crisis

With bombs set off in the airport and the subway system, the deadly Islamic State attacks on Brussels have struck the heart of the European Union. Belgium, once the nucleus of Europe, will now have to combat its reputation as a failed state.

Bart De Wever doesn’t have much faith in his country. In fact, you can hardly call it a country, this artificial construct created sometime in the 19th century as the result of an accident of history, a power struggle among major powers. The centralized Belgian state is “slow, complicated and inefficient,” says De Wever, one of the most powerful men in Belgian politics.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Prominent Business Leader Predicts ‘Massive Economic Problems’ If Britain Remains in EU

Voting to remain in the European Union would be “very bad news for the future of humanity” leaving Britain exposed to the sort of economic mess seen in mainland Europe, a prominent business leader has warned.

Tim Martin — the founder and Non-Executive Chairman of the FTSE 250 pub company JD Wetherspoon PLC — made the comments in an interview with the BBC, during which he warned about the undemocratic nature of the European Union (EU).

“Democracy equals prosperity,” he said, “and slowly democracy is being removed by the European Union, and power is being put in the hands of unelected people in Europe.”

He observed that the effects of such moves are most keenly felt in Greece and Spain “where they don’t even have control over their own budget or over their own interest rates which are the key controls that a democratic country has.”

           — Hat tip: AF [Return to headlines]

Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia Most Corrupt EU Countries

Study by Rand Europe

(ANSA) — TRIESTE — Romania is the most corrupt Eu country according to a study conducted by Rand Europe upon commission of the EU Parliament. Bulgaria is the second most corrupt, while Croatia is third. The least corrupt are the Scandinavian countries (Denmark, followed by Finland and Sweden). Italy is 22nd.

Among the member countries above the estimated Eu28 average of 4.9% of the Gdp are Lithuania (14%), Italy (13%), Greece, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland (12%), Slovenia (10%) and Hungary (9% of the national Gdp). Bulgaria is low on the list with 14.5% of the Gdp, Croatia with 13%, Romania with 13.5% and Latvia with 15%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Spain: Barcelona Mayor Praises Podemos After Criticizing Leader’s “Arrogance”

New book out about Ada Colau comes at a difficult time for the anti-austerity party

Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau on Monday rushed to defend Podemos after calling its leader “arrogant” in a new book about her.

“Podemos is the best news of the last few decades for institutional politics, it is the best ally for change,” she wrote on her Twitter account.

In the book Ada, la rebelión democrática (or, Ada, the democratic rebellion) by the journalist Joan Serra, who followed the social activist’s rise to the mayor’s office, Colau states that “there is a certain style displayed by Pablo [Iglesias] and by the core driving members behind Podemos that we do not connect with.”

“It makes me feel more Catalan than ever,” she is quoted as saying. “It is a difference in style, a personal and political difference. Barcelona en Comú [her own political group] is not Podemos. It never was.”…

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

UK Tabloid Censured Over Story of Muslims’ IS Support

London (AFP) — Britain’s press regulator on Saturday censured Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun tabloid for a “significantly misleading” story claiming one in five British Muslims sympathise with jihadist fighters.

The ruling on the front-page story from November comes amid heightened community tensions following the Brussels attacks this week claimed by the Islamic State group, which left 31 people dead.

The mass-selling daily claimed an exclusive poll revealed “1 in 5 Brit Muslims’ sympathy for jihadis”, and published a picture of Mohammed Emwazi, the British IS executioner known as Jihadi John, alongside the shock headline…

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

UK Will Deploy Over 2,000 Additional Police Officers to Patrol Streets

More than 2,000 armed police officers will be deployed in the United Kingdom to provide additional security measures in the country’s biggest cities, local media reported Sunday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Friday, Belgian police detained Mohamed Abrini, a suspected organizer of Brussels explosions and accomplice of likely Paris attacks mastermind. During the special operation, police have found photos of a shopping complex in the British city of Birmingham among Abrini’s personal possessions.

According to The Sunday Times newspaper, the additional armed officers would be deployed due to the growing terror threat in the country, following the discovery of the photographs.

The newspaper added that the number of the country’s armed police officers would be increased by 1,000, while other troops would be redeployed from the protection of nuclear power plants in case of multiple terror attacks in the United Kingdom.

On Tuesday, at least 31 people were killed and over 300 were wounded in several terrorist attacks in Brussels. On November 13, a series of terrorist attacks were staged across Paris, leading to the death of 130 people and injuring over 350 others. Islamic State, which is outlawed in many countries, including Russia and the United Kingdom, has claimed responsibility for the violence in both the French and the Belgian capitals.

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

UK: Pictured: Schoolgirl, Seven, Killed in Bouncy Castle Horror After it Was Lifted by Winds and Blown 150 Yards Across a Park

This is the seven-year-old girl who tragically died after strong winds blew a bouncy castle more than 150m across a park in Essex while she was trapped inside.

Summer Blackie was taking part in an Easter celebration at Harlow Town Park, in Harlow, organised by Thurston Fun Fairs when a ‘strong gust of wind’ blew it off its moorings.

The girl, from Norwich, was rushed to hospital with serious injuries, but was later confirmed to have died.

Essex Police confirmed a 24-year-old woman and a 27-year-old man, both from Cambridgeshire, have been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter by gross negligence and remain in police custody.

It is the second bouncy castle disaster at Harlow Town Park in less than a year, after another collapsed with children inside in May 2015…

           — Hat tip: MM [Return to headlines]

Bold: Female Arab Journalist Asks, ‘What if Christians Were Suicide Bombers?’

DOHA, Qatar (Christian Examiner) — A female Arab journalist who lives in Qatar has penned a bold article that asks Muslims in the Middle East how they would respond if Christian suicide bombers struck their public markets, collapsed their tall buildings or tried to force Muslims to convert to Christianity.

Liberal Saudi journalist Nadine Al-Budair writes in Kuwait’s Al-Rai newspaper that Arab countries have refused to address the problem of terrorism and have yet to create a climate that matches the liberal, humanitarian climate of the West. She asked Muslims to consider what their world would be like if Christians the world over had responded to Muslims the way terrorists have spread radical Islam.

“Imagine a Western youth coming here and carrying out a suicide mission in one of our public squares in the name of the Cross. Imagine that two skyscrapers had collapsed in some Arab capital, and that an extremist Christian group, donning millennium-old garb, had emerged to take responsibility for the event, while stressing its determination to revive Christian teachings or some Christian rulings, according to its understanding, to live like in the time [of Jesus] and his disciples, and to implement certain edicts of Christian scholars,” Al-Budair writes in a translation of the editorial provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

           — Hat tip: KS [Return to headlines]

Syrian Army Retakes Palmyra From ISIS

Preparation for operation took a little over a month, and involved planned cooperation with Russian military

Syrian government forces have retaken the ancient city of Palmyra from Islamic State. The army now aims to use the desert city as a “launchpad” to expand operations against the terrorist group.

Syrian President Bashar Assad said the victory proves the success of the army’s strategy in combating terrorism…

A Syrian army officer told RT that preparation for the operation took a little over a month, and involved planned cooperation with the Russian military.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Easter Massacre! At Least 53 Dead After Suicide Bomber Targets Christians Celebrating Easter in Lahore Park

At least 53 people were killed and several injured after Islamists bombed Christians at Gulshan Iqbal Park in Pakistan.

The Christians were celebrating Easter.

— (@dawn_com) March 27, 2016

At least 50 are dead—

Prayers for the people

of #Pakistan! 50+ dead

in a suicide attack in #

Lahore’s Gulshan Iqbal


— Khalil Mandhro (@Khalil_Mandhro) March 27, 2016

Bomb kills three people, injures several more during #Easter celebration at a park in Lahore, Pakistan: local media.

— Steven Porter (@reporterporter) March 27, 2016

Dawn reported:

An explosion occurred in Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park of Iqbal Town on Sunday evening, killing at least 53 people and injuring over a 100, police said.

Iqbal Town Superintendent of Police Dr Muhammad Iqbal said the explosion was a suicide attack.

Eye witnesses said there were pools of blood and scattered body parts in the park, where a large number of families, especially women and children, were present on a Sunday evening.

Rescue officials and police rushed to the explosion site in a renowned residential area, where at least 20 people are reportedly injured.

2 dead, 15 injured as an explosion takes place in Gulshan Iqbal Park of Lahore.

— Dunya News (@DunyaNews) March 27, 2016

#Easter celebrations attacked. At least 15 dead in #suicidebombing in #Lahore’s Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park #Pakistan

— Rabia Mehmood (@Rabail26) March 27, 2016

Here is a report from Pakistan.

This is how Gulshan e Iqbal park looks like on a usual Sunday. Plus it’s Easter today. #LahoreBlast #

— Ghouri (@Musabghouri) March 27, 2016

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

China: Profits for Oil, Cement, And Coal Companies Plunge by Up to 60 Per Cent

PetroChina Co. reports a 60 per cent drop in profits. China’s largest cement company reports a 30 per cent decline. The largest coal company saw its profits drop 16.1 per cent.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Some of China’s biggest companies are going through major difficulties, as evinced by their 2015 reports filed with the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

One of them is PetroChina Co., China’s largest oil and gas producer, whose net profits shrank by more than 60 per cent as a result of a sluggish world economy, downward pressure on the domestic front, and plunges in international oil prices. Net profits were down to 35.51 billion yuan (U$ 5.5 billion) last year.

Anhui Conch Cement Co., China’s largest cement maker, announced today that its net profits slumped by over 30 per cent year on year in 2015, because of a weakening property sector and slower fixed-asset investment. Its earnings per share fell from 2.07 yuan in 2014, to 1.42 yuan.

The China Coal Energy Co. also reported a huge loss and shrinking revenue in 2015 as prices dropped in the saturated coal industry. The Shanghai-listed mining company posted losses of 2.52 billion yuan (US$ 390 million) last year. Its total revenue dropped by 16.1 per cent year on year.

Coal mining is one of several heavy industries struggling with serious overcapacity as the world economy slows down. For analysts, this trend might end the jobs of at least six million people.

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

Trump Effigy Set Ablaze in Mexico Easter Ritual

An effigy of US presidential contender Donald Trump — a hated figure for many in Mexico — was set ablaze in a contemporary twist on a Holy Week ritual.

A smiling figure of the billionaire American businessman went up in flames during the Easter eve “Burning of Judas,” a tradition in which Mexicans torch effigies of the devil — and of public figures they dislike.

In a neighborhood of the Mexican capital city, this year the devil took the form of Trump, who is notorious here for comments made during his presidential campaign accusing Mexican immigrants in the United States of being criminals and rapists…

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

Is Italy Ready for the Next Wave of Migrants?

The “crossing season” for migrant boats from Libya to Italy has not yet begun, yet arrivals are already up on last year’s count, raising questions about where the new wave of tens of thousands will be housed.

Amid unseasonably fine weather and calm seas, warnings have been sounded in recent days over the number of migrants in Libya ready to attempt the perilous Mediterranean crossing — 500,000 according to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, while French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian puts it closer to 800,000.

“In 2016, we risk having to manage a greater number of migrants than in 2015. We can pretend it’s not true, but it is,” said Giuseppe Sala, running as the centre-left candidate for Milan mayor…

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

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