Gates of Vienna News Feed 4/23/2016

During her trip to Turkey, German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited a refugee camp in Gaziantep in southeast Turkey, accompanied by EU Council President Donald Tusk, EU Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans, and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Critics of the gesture maintain that the camp Mrs. Merkel visited had been “sanitized”, and did not show the actual conditions that refugees in the area suffer.

In other news, eight people were murdered execution-style in four different locations in Ohio. All the victims were members of the same family, and the youngest was sixteen. Police have a person of interest in custody, but at least one additional perpetrator is thought to be at large.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Dean, DV, Insubria, JD, LP, MM, Murad, 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
» How Central Planners Crippled Japan’s Economy
» Capsized Boat of Two Missing Florida 14-Year-Olds is Found Nine Months After Their Disappearance as Relatives Hope iPhone Found on Board Will Offer More Clues to What Happened
» Hordes of Alaskan Moose Loose in Vast Arctic Ice Melt
» Maine Governor Goes Off on Ted Cruz Camp for Stealing Trump Delegates
» More Than 500 Pounds of Explosives Stolen From Train
» Ohio Authorities Reportedly Detain ‘Person of Interest’ for Questioning in Murders
» Renzi in ‘Very Cordial’ Talks With Hillary Clinton
» RNC Rules Committee Member: “If Trump Gets 1,237 Delegates, That Doesn’t Mean He’ll be Nominee”
» Virginia Gov Gives 200,000 Felons Voting Rights; ‘Move to Boost Clinton’
» White House Admits it Did Return Winston Churchill Bust to Britain
» Mom Investigated for Letting Kids Play in Backyard
Europe and the EU
» British Museum Opens Sicily, Culture and Conquest Show
» Italians See Better Pancreatic Cancer Treatment
» Italy: Ex-Head Rome Traffic Cops Indicted
» Italy: Govt Dissolves Brescello Town Council for Mafia
» Italy: Judge Probed for Corruption in Salerno
» Italy: Man Gets 30 Yrs for Killing Prostitute
» Italy: Arrests Over Alleged Hospital Malpractice Cover-Up, Lorenzin Says ‘Scandalous’
» Italy: Berlusconi Has Bad Advisors Says Salvini
» Italy: Ruling Majority Presents Reform Referendum Request
» Obama Urges British Youth to Reject ‘Isolationism and Xenophobia’
» Swedish Muslim Politician Quits After Refusing to Shake Women’s Hands
» US President Says Britain Would be at the Back of the Queue After a Leave Vote
North Africa
» Western Envoys Condemn Threats Against Libya Lawmakers
Middle East
» US Supreme Court Ruling on Assets Amounts to Theft: Iran
» Yazidi Girl, 12, Uses Sleeping Pills to Escape ISIS
» US Losing Out to Russian Wheat Exports
South Asia
» Dad Cuts Hands Off Teen Who Raped His Infant Daughter
» India: Chhattisgarh: 11-Year-Old Girl Cuts Off Tongue to Offer to Lord Shiva
» Mystery ‘Body Possession’ Epidemic Sweeps Through Malaysian Schools, Causing Teachers and Pupils to Collapse While ‘Being Pinned Down by Evil Spirits’
» Pakistan: Minority Leaders Slam Murder of Sikh Minister Who Was a Friend of the Christians
Far East
» China: Hundreds of Students With Cancer and Leukemia in School Built on Contaminated Land
» At Least Hundred Undocumented Refugees Cross Moroccan Border
» Donald Tusk on Refugee We Can Never Negotiate Our Values With Erdogan
» France: Video Shows Migrant Women Beat 16-Yr-Old Girl ‘For Wearing a Dress’
» How 4 ISIS Terrorists Used Migrant Crisis to Enter Europe
» Merkel Arrives in Turkey Amid Criticism Over Migrants Deal
» Swiss Parliament Visits Hungarian Border
» Texas Gov.: SCOTUS Will be ‘Completely Rewriting’ Constitution by Favoring Obama in Immigration Lawsuit
» The ‘Freital Group’: German Prosecutors Go After Right-Wing Terrorism

How Central Planners Crippled Japan’s Economy

Country consumes more adult diapers than baby diapers

The greatest tragedy of the 2008-2009 financial meltdown was not that it happened.

The collapse of asset prices was the necessary result of near zero interest rates. No, the most devastating aspect of the financial meltdown is that central planning alchemy lost no credibility. Policymakers around the world are still turning to Keynesian and socialist interventionism to address problems caused by Keynesians and socialists. The twin sledgehammers of central banking and almost unlimited state power have so distorted global markets (again) that some economies are now terminal. The latest victim of the interventionists and micromanagers is the nation of Japan. A once genuinely productive and innovative nation has, over the years, slowly succumbed to the cancerous rot of interventionism.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Capsized Boat of Two Missing Florida 14-Year-Olds is Found Nine Months After Their Disappearance as Relatives Hope iPhone Found on Board Will Offer More Clues to What Happened

A boat that capsized with two teenagers on board last summer has been found — with family members hoping a recovered iPhone belonging to one of the boys will offer some crucial clues as to what happened.

Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, both 14, went missing on a 19-foot Seacraft boat on July 24, 2015, after they set out on a fishing trip off the coast of Jupiter, Florida, and never returned.

The US Coast Guard located the boat about 67 miles off the shore of Daytona Beach just two days after they went missing, but it drifted away, the Palm Beach Post reported.

Nine months later, the boat has now been found 100miles off the coast of Bermuda, with Stephanos’ iPhone among the personal items still on board.

A boat headed to Norway found the 19-foot Seacraft vessel about 100miles off the coast of Bermuda on March 18th, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission confirmed it belonged to Stephanos, CBS12 reported.

Personal items, including Stephanos’ iPhone, were found and handed over to the FWC, the Post reported.

Family members expressed the hope that they would learn more about what happened to the two boys, who were both experienced fishermen.

Pamela wrote on her Facebook: ‘This is an open Missing Persons case, and we hope that FWC reopens their investigation and utilizes the expert resources of other government agencies as well as the private sector if necessary to extrapolate the data from the recovered iPhone’…

           — Hat tip: MM [Return to headlines]

Hordes of Alaskan Moose Loose in Vast Arctic Ice Melt

Alaskan moose have colonized new areas of Alaska, spreading from the boreal forest into the tundra as a result of warmer temperatures.

Alaskan moose have spread from their habitat in the taiga, or boreal forest, to new areas of Alaska, following an increase in shrub cover and vegetation there, according to a study by scientists at the University of Alaska.

In the early twentieth century there were no moose in Alaska’s northernmost tundra regions, which had been attributed to overhunting. However, in recent decades, populations have spread along the rivers and streams that flow into the Arctic Ocean.

In their paper, published on Wednesday in the journal PLOS One, the researchers propose that the increase in moose is in fact due to an increase in shrub habitat.

While caribou, also known as reindeer, are able to dig down through the snow to find forage in winter, moose feed on the shrubs and plants that stick through this layer.

The researchers used data about recent changes in shrub cover and empirical relationships between shrub height and growing season temperature to estimate that the average shrub height in 1860 was 1.1 meters.

By 2009, the average height of shrubs in Arctic Alaska was two meters, a great increase in the available forage above the snow that the moose can eat.

“Although scientists have been anticipating changes to wildlife in response to the observed changes in climate and vegetation of the Arctic, this is one of the first studies to demonstrate it. We showed that the large-scale northward shift of moose was likely in response to their increasing shrub habitat in the tundra,” said Ken Tape, one of the authors of the study.

The researchers explained that the northward shift in the distribution of moose is similar to that of snowshoe hares, and is a likely a precursor for the migration of other boreal species and their associated predators.

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

Maine Governor Goes Off on Ted Cruz Camp for Stealing Trump Delegates

Ted Cruz’s campaign faced more allegations of dirty tricks

Maine Republican Governor Paul LePage endorsed Donald Trump for president in February before the Maine primary caucus.

Cruz won the state with 12 delegates. Trump was second with 9 delegates followed by John Kasich with 2 delegates.

This week the Cruz campaign, like they’ve done is several states, are cheating and stealing delegates from Trump at the state convention.

But this time Governor Paul LePage went off on the Cruz campaign for stealing delegates…No doubt the Ted Cruz supporters and FOX News will call this a “good ground game.”

“Ted Cruz’s campaign faced more allegations of dirty tricks after the Maine governor, Paul LePage,took to Facebook to condemn the Texas senator’s campaign as being run by “greedy political hooligans.”

The fiery and controversial governor claimed on Friday that the Trump and Cruz campaigns had previously reached a “unity deal” to elect delegates to the national convention in proportion to results of the Pine Tree state’s 5 March caucuses.

Such an allocation would deliver 12 Cruz delegates, nine for Trump and two for John Kasich, the Ohio governor.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

More Than 500 Pounds of Explosives Stolen From Train

(CBS News) Federal law enforcement investigators are searching in at least three states for more than 500 pounds of explosives stolen from a CSX train, CBS News has learned.

CBS News Justice Department and Homeland Security correspondent Jeff Pegues reported a law enforcement source says the amount stolen has authorities concerned that the explosives could fall into the wrong hands.

Sources say the theft was reported two days ago but the case has not yet gone public. The ATF is considering putting out an advisory and announcing an reward in the coming days.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Ohio Authorities Reportedly Detain ‘Person of Interest’ for Questioning in Murders

Authorities in Ohio reportedly detained at least one “person of interest” late Friday after police revealed details about a brutal string of shootings in four homes that killed a total of eight family members.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine admitted to the Chillicothe Gazette the person was one of 30 people interviewed in the case. Some of those questioned were from Chillicothe, some 40 miles northeast of where the shootings took place in Piketon.

DeWine told reporters earlier Friday that eight relatives — seven adults and a 16-year-old boy — were apparently shot in the head “execution-style.”

Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader said at least three young children survived. One was 4 days old, one was 6 months old, and the third was 3 years old. The youngest baby was found in bed next to the child’s dead mother.

“My heart goes out to my county,” Reader said.

DeWine said the family’s last name was Rhoden, but did not give first names. “If I was a member of that family, I would be extra cautious right now,” the attorney general added.

Reader later told a late night news conference he had spoken with the family and gave them “precautionary measures to take.”

Asked if he had a message for the killer or killers, Reader replied, “we’re coming.”…

           — Hat tip: Dean [Return to headlines]

Renzi in ‘Very Cordial’ Talks With Hillary Clinton

Set to meet Bill later Friday

(ANSA) — New York, April 22 — Premier Matteo Renzi and Hillary Clinton had a “very cordial” conversation in a break from the Italian premier’s bilateral meetings at the UN Friday, government sources said. The Democratic presidential candidate is campaigning in Pennsylvania ahead of primaries there next week. Later today Renzi will meet Bill Clinton at his foundation in New York.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

RNC Rules Committee Member: “If Trump Gets 1,237 Delegates, That Doesn’t Mean He’ll be Nominee”

“The votes during the primary process are only estimates.”

In March Republican convention rules member Curly Haugland told CNBC that the delegates choose the GOP nominee, not the people.

On Friday Curly told CNBC that even if Donald Trump wins 1,237 delegates that does not mean he will be the Republican nominee.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Virginia Gov Gives 200,000 Felons Voting Rights; ‘Move to Boost Clinton’

The move, coming in a presidential election year, outraged Republicans

Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order Friday restoring the voting rights of 206,000 ex-felons, a sweeping action the governor said was aimed largely at rectifying Virginia’s “long and sad history” of suppressing African-American voting power.

The move, coming in a presidential election year, outraged Republicans who accused McAuliffe of abusing his power to help longtime ally Hillary Clinton win a battleground state by putting more likely Democratic voters on the books.

The governor’s order applies to all violent and nonviolent felons who had finished their sentence and supervised release as of Friday, even those who have not applied for a restoration of rights. Previous Virginia governors have restored rights on an individual basis, but none has done it for an entire category of offenders with one pen stroke.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

White House Admits it Did Return Winston Churchill Bust to Britain

Barack Obama’s White House has been forced to admit that it did return a bust of Sir Winston Churchill to British diplomats, after describing such claims as “100 per cent false”.

Aides to Mr Obama were furious after The Daily Telegraph disclosed last week that Mitt Romney planned to restore the Jacob Epstein sculpture to its home under George W Bush from 2001 to 2009.

“I’m looking forward to the bust of Winston Churchill being in the Oval Office again,” the Republican challenger confirmed at a fund-raiser at London’s Mandarin Oriental hotel.

Dan Pfeiffer, the President’s communications director, said in a statement that widespread reports of the bust being returned to Britain’s embassy in Washington as Mr Obama took office were untrue.

“This is 100 per cent false,” Mr Pfeiffer said. “The bust is still in the White House. In the Residence. Outside the Treaty Room”. Illustrating his statement with a photograph of Mr Obama inspecting it with David Cameron in 2010, he added: “Hopefully this clears things up a bit and prevents folks from making this ridiculous claim again”.

British officials were surprised by Mr Pfeiffer’s statement and photograph, however, because the bust now resides in the residence of Sir Peter Westmacott, Britain’s ambassador to the US. Further inquiries led to the discovery that there are, in fact, two matching Churchill busts by Epstein.

Related Articles

Why the USA is still in love with Churchill

Mitt Romney ‘will restore special relationship’

Churchill bust welcomed back to US Capitol

Obama sends Winston Churchill packing

The one displayed by Mr Bush was indeed returned, along with all other art lent to him, as his presidency came to an end. The other, which remains in the White House residence, was given as a gift to President Lyndon B Johnson in 1965 by a group of Atlanticist diplomats and military officers…

           — Hat tip: Murad [Return to headlines]

Mom Investigated for Letting Kids Play in Backyard

Child and Family Services worker interrogates mother, inspects home

A mother in Canada is worried about losing her children after a neighbor reported them playing within the family’s enclosed backyard.

Child and Family Services (CFS) earlier this month investigated Winnipeg mom Jacqui Kendrick conducting a “well being check” following a report that her children were seen playing in her fenced-in backyard unsupervised.

“(The worker was) asking me about if we’ve ever dealt with CFS before, what my childhood was like, how I punish my children, whether we drink or do drugs…she had to look to see where my kids slept. She had to see if we had enough food in the house,” Kendrick described, adding the confusing encounter left her in tears.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

British Museum Opens Sicily, Culture and Conquest Show

Centuries of Sicilian history enchant London

(ANSA) — London, April 20 — London’s British Museum has opened a show titled “Sicily, Culture and Conquest”, which tells of the splendor of the island’s multi-millennial history, built by tyrants, great philosophers, invasions, cultural contamination and periods of open-mindedness that few other parts of the world can boast, in Europe and beyond.

The show, put on by an institution of symbolic importance from a northern island and dedicated to the masterpieces and ancient roots of a fascinating island in the south, was realized in cooperation with the Region of Sicily and inaugurated on Tuesday by the Italian ambassador to the United Kingdom, Pasquale Terracciano.

Top newspapers have hailed the exhibition as one of the main cultural events of the season in the British capital.

It brings together thousands of objects from the Greek epoch through the Norman period — gold inherited from classicism to contemporary sculptures from the admirable Palatine Chapel — many of which have never before left Sicily.

These are the vestiges of a land that, as the ambassador commented, conceals in its past the imprint of “super power”.

Throughout the centuries, Sicily played a strategic role in the Mediterranean, and represented — at least at times — a model for peaceful and harmonious coexistence, an example that has something to contribute still today.

This model saw coexistence between the Arabs, Christians, Greeks and Jews who prospered together in the court of Norman King Roger II, which, in the words of today’s diplomat Terracciano, was a very powerful “message of peace” still relevant in a time when the Mediterranean finds itself involved in migrant tragedies and in which its shores echo the threat of terrorism.

The myth, but also the reality documented by the Trinacria “felix”, filtered by a story that — from the first traces of 2000 BC through the Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans, the Arabs, the Normans, the Angevins, the Aragons, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies to a united Italy — has captured the attention of the press and commentators from across the Channel, as with Jonathan Jones in the pages of The Guardian, where he focused particularly on the Norman chapter in Sicilian history.

The Normans left a footprint of conquests and victories on the British island as well, on their way up from the south, as shown by scenes from the celebrated Bayeux Tapestry.

But if in the memory of the lands of Britain the Normans hold a certain reputation for ferociousness going back to the decades of the Middle Ages following the year 1000 (“victims” perhaps also of the popular legend of Robin Hood), in Sicily they undoubtedly touched on heights of good government and a profitable mix between cultures that was unthinkable at the time.

The show in London seals this moment in time with the deep and imperious look of a marble bust of Frederick II, the king who, the Guardian remembers, earned the name “stupor mundi” (wonder of the world) in the Medieval Europe of the 13th century, a time in which the entire island — even with its highs and lows — still aims to reflect itself.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italians See Better Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

Verona University-led team publishes findings

(ANSA) — Verona, April 18 — An international group of researchers led by Verona University’s Davide Melisi have come up with a new therapeutic strategy for treating patients affected with advanced pancreatic surgery.

The researchers have shown that a molecule called galunisertib is capable of inhibiting the action of TGFβ, one of the main factors in the disease’s growth and spread.

The new drug, in addition to standard chemotherapy with gemcitabina, can in fact increase in a statistically significant manner, overall survival and survival free of disease progression in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer and a very favourable toxicity profile.

The results of the clinical trials with galunisertib were presented today that the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in New Orleans.

“Cancer of the pancreas,” said Melisi, “is one of the deadliest and least explored human tumours.

“The severe prognosis of our patients is basically linked to phenomena of precocious metastasization during the development of this disease, which are responsible for the already advanced onset of most cases, the intrinsic aggressiveness of this disease, and, above all, the limited efficacy of current treatments with classic chemotherapy drugs.

“For this reason, in the last few years, we have focused our studies on the role of the various signals induced by TGFβ which are the reason of the particular resistance of the cancer to classic chemotherapy drugs in various preclinical trials”.

The international clinical trials were conducted in Verona by the Clinical Research Centre of the hospital to assess the efficacy and tolerability of the treatment with gemcitabina in combination with the new drug in in 156 patients affected by advanced cancer of the pancreas.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Ex-Head Rome Traffic Cops Indicted

On street-cleaning work after accidents

(ANSA) — Rome, April 18 — The former head of Rome’s traffic cops, Angelo Giuliani, was indicted Monday on charges of corruption and fraud.

Giuliani is accused of taking kickbacks on contracts to clean up roadways after car accidents, judicial sources said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Govt Dissolves Brescello Town Council for Mafia

Rightwing Northern League claims victory

(ANSA) — Bologna, April 20 — Cabinet has dissolved the town council of Brescello in Reggio Emilia province on grounds it was infiltrated by the mafia, the rightwing Northern League party announced Wednesday. “This is a victory for the League, which has been fighting for lawfulness for years,” Brescello League Councillor Catia Silva said. “We are ready to cooperate with the commissioner”. Reggio Emilia regional League chief Gianluca Vinci said Silva “paid a high price for shedding light on the underground system in Brescello”. Vinci said Silva suffered arson, property damages, and aggravated threats “on the part of five characters” including Calabria native and Brescello resident Alfonso Diletto, who is in prison and currently a defendant in a massive trial into ‘Ndrangheta mafia infiltration in the northern Emilia Romagna region that kicked off in March this year. The 147 defendants include businessmen, politicians, and two Chinese nationals arrested in the so-called Aemilia investigation, which led to the indictments in December 2015.

Among those indicted is former footballer Vincenzo Iaquinta, who played for Juventus and for the Azzurri when Italy won the World Cup in 2006. The ex-striker is charged with illegal weapons possession aggravated by intent to abet mafia links.

His father Giuseppe Iaquinto faces charges of belonging to a racketeering mafia ring.

In July last year, police arrested nine people — including Diletto — on charges of fraudulent money transfers with intent to abet mafia activities as part of the Aemilia probe.

Assets, commercial property and businesses worth a total of 330 million euros were also seized in the bust.

In January 2015, the operation saw 117 arrests connected to Nicolino Grande Aracri, ‘Ndrangheta boss of the Grande Aracri clan, who was already in prison at the time.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Judge Probed for Corruption in Salerno

‘Bribes for rulings’

(ANSA) — Naples, April 18 — A civil judge of the Salerno court currently working in Potenza has been placed under investigation on suspicion of corruption, judicial sources aid Monday.

Possible charges against the judge, whose home and office were searched, are conspiracy to commit corruption in judicial acts, abuse of office and illegal access to computer systems, they said.

As well as the judge, lawyers, court clerks and businessmen have also been placed under investigation.

The magistrate is suspected of taking bribes in exchange for favourable rulings.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Man Gets 30 Yrs for Killing Prostitute

Moroccan, 30, stabbed Nigerian, 46

(ANSA) — Pisa, April 19 — A man got 30 years Tuesday for killing a prostitute near Pisa last year.

Idrissi Rahalli, a 30-year-old Moroccan, was found guilty of murdering Nigerian Iriagbonse Eghianruwa, 46, on March 31, stabbing her 14 times.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Arrests Over Alleged Hospital Malpractice Cover-Up, Lorenzin Says ‘Scandalous’

Four doctors under house arrest, six suspended from medicine

(ANSA) — Reggio Calabria, April 21 — Four doctors were put under house arrest and six others were suspended on Thursday in relation to a probe by prosecutors in Reggio Calabria into alleged cover-ups of medical malpractice, ANSA sources said. A midwife was also suspended over the probe into alleged wrongdoing at the obstetrics and gynaecology, neonatology and anaesthetic departments of the southern city’s Ospedali Riuniti hospitals. The probe, which began from wiretaps obtained in an an anti-mafia case, reportedly covers the suspicious deaths of two newborn babies. Among those involved are the head and the former head of the obstetrics and gynaecology department, Alessandro Tripodi and Pasquale Vadal.

Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin on Thursday called the alleged cover-up a “really scandalous situation”. She said that it was “strange that the complaints came from patients and not from health managers” at the hospital involved.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Has Bad Advisors Says Salvini

‘Will make him lose Rome’

(ANSA) — Rome, April 21 — Former premier and centre-right Forza Italia (FI) leader Silvio Berlusconi “has bad advisors who will make him lose” the Rome mayoral race by sticking to low-polling candidate Guido Bertolaso, Northern League leader Matteo Salvini said Thursday.

Salvini’s high-polling candidate, Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni, said she was still “open” to a joint candidacy by all the centre right despite FI’s continued backing for former civil protection chief Bertolaso.

Salvini said Bertolaso was “needed in Africa”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Ruling Majority Presents Reform Referendum Request

Law overhauls Italy’s political machinery

(ANSA) — Rome, April 20 — The ruling majority backing Premier Matteo Renzi’s executive on Wednesday presented a request for a referendum to ratify the government’s recently approved law changing the Constitution to overhaul Italy’s political machinery. Renzi has staked his political future on the October referendum on reforms to make government cheaper and easier. Among other things, it transforms the Senate into a leaner assembly of local-government representatives with fewer powers. The referendum request was presented by Mauro Del Barba, the Senate treasurer for Renzi’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD), said Roberto Calderoli, one of the deputy speakers of the Upper House. The ruling coalition’s Senate whips, the PD’s Luigi Zanda, Renato Schifani for the centrist AP and Karl Zeller of the AUT group, have been tasked with delivering the signatures needed for a referendum to the supreme Court of Cassation.

Renzi’s government survived two no-confidence motions late on Tuesday over an oil probe, the latest in a long series of such petitions presented by oppositions groups to fail.

A motion filed by the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) was rejected by the Senate with 183 votes against and 96 in favour.

Another presented by centre-right opposition parties went down with 180 votes against and 93 in favour. The motions were filed in the wake of a probe into alleged misconduct at oil and gas giant ENI plants in the southern Basilicata region that includes people with connections to the premier’s administration. The oilman boyfriend of former industry minister Federica Guidi — who resigned earlier this month — is one of the suspects in the investigation, which has led to both Guidi and Reform Minister Maria Elena Boschi being questioned by prosecutors. Guidi’s boyfriend Gianluca Gemelli is being investigated for corruption conspiracy and falsely claiming influence over a public official in order to obtain bribes. While neither Guidi nor Boschi are under investigation, wiretaps emerged last month in which Guidi discussed with Gemelli an amendment to a budget bill containing measures for the development of the Tempa Rossa oil field in Italy’s south, which Boschi signed.

Renzi has always said the amendment was his, and on Tuesday, he denied it was passed without proper debate.

Denis Verdini’s small Liberal Popular Alliance — Autonomies (ALA) group, which has recently given essential backing to the government for key reforms, helped the executive fend off the no-confidence motions.

Verdini is a former top aide of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi who recently split with the Forza Italia leader and has several judicial headaches.

His frequent support of the government has caused controversy, with a rebel minority within Renzi’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD) among the critics.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Obama Urges British Youth to Reject ‘Isolationism and Xenophobia’

US President Barack Obama said that he “implores” British youngsters to reject new calls for isolationism or xenophobia.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — US President Barack Obama called on the British youngsters to reject isolationism as future development route during his Saturday speech at a town hall event in London.

‘Don’t pull back from the world’ — Obama tells town hall in London #ObamaInUK #ObamaTownHal

— Liam Young (@liamyoung) 23 April 2016

?”The challenges of our time — economic inequality, the climate change, terrorism, migration — all these things are real, and in the age of instant information — where TV and Twitter can feed us a steady stream of bad news, I know that it could sometime seem like the order that we’ve created is fragile, maybe even crumbling, maybe the center cannot hold, and we see new calls for isolationism or xenophobia, we see those who would call for rolling back the rights of people,” Obama said.

Obama tours London theater, watches “to be or not to be” soliloquy:

— The Hill (@thehill) 23 April 2016

?”Those impulses, I think we can understand, they are reactions to changing time and uncertainty, but when I speak to young people I implore them and I implore you to reject those calls to pull back. I’m here to ask you to reject the notion that we are gripped by forces that we can’t control and I want you to take a longer and more optimistic view on history and the part that you can play in it,” he added.

Sophie Hunter and Benedict Cumberbatch at a Town hall Q&A session with Barack Obama, London — 23 Apr 2016 #ThatHand!

— The Cumberbatches (@TheCBatches) 23 April 2016

?On Friday, Obama told reporters during a press conference with UK Prime Minister David Cameron that the upcoming British vote on whether Britain should leave the European Union is of deep interest to the United States while “the United Kingdom is at its best when helping to lead a strong Europe.”

Earlier on Friday, British media reported that a majority of UK voters believe that Obama should not intervene in the EU referendum campaign.

UK citizens are set to vote on June 23 in a referendum on the country’s EU membership, after Cameron and the leaders of the 27 EU member states reached a deal in February to grant Great Britain a special status within the bloc.

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

Swedish Muslim Politician Quits After Refusing to Shake Women’s Hands

“You can’t have a man in the party who can’t greet women in the same way you greet a man”

As if Sweden wasn’t troubled enough, The Local reports that another Green Party politician, who ignited a storm of controversy after refusing to shake hands with a female reporter on grounds that it violated his Muslim faith, announced on Wednesday that he was quitting politics. This follows the resignation of Sweden’s housing minister following a week of mounting controversy over his contacts with Islamic organisations and Turkish ultranationalists.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

US President Says Britain Would be at the Back of the Queue After a Leave Vote

BARACK Obama was last night condemned for trying to “blackmail” Britain into remaining in the EU.

The US President warned the UK would be “at the back of the queue” for a trade deal with America if it quit Brussels.

But his threat provoked outrage and scorn from pro-Brexit campaigners, who dismissed it as yet another scaremongering ploy from the pro-EU lobby.

Mr Obama, who will no longer be in office when decisions on a trade deal are made, delivered a lecture to the British people on why he thinks it is in the UK’s, America’s and the world’s best interests for Britain to vote to stay in the EU on June 23.

He weighed into the debate despite being warned by a host of anti-EU campaigners to “butt out” of our referendum battle…

           — Hat tip: LP [Return to headlines]

Western Envoys Condemn Threats Against Libya Lawmakers

(c) AFP/File | Libyan deputy prime minister of the UN-backed government, Ahmed Maiteeq (L), French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault (C) and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the naval base in Tripoli on April 16, 2016

Most of the members of the House of Representatives elected in Libya’s last polls in June 2014 have been based in the far eastern town of Tobruk since an Islamist-led militia alliance overran the capital shortly afterwards.

The militia alliance restored the previous, Islamist-dominated parliament elected in July 2012 and established a rival administration to that in Tobruk.

A unity government forged through UN mediation to replace the rival governments has now stamped its authority on most of the levers of power in Tripoli but has yet to win the legitimacy of a vote of confidence from the Tobruk parliament…

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

US Supreme Court Ruling on Assets Amounts to Theft: Iran

(c) AFP/File | US Marines search for victims on October 31, 1983 after a bomb attack on the headquarters of a US barracks in Beirut

“The ruling is considered stealing the Islamic Republic of Iran’s properties and naturally the onus of compensation of damages to Iran… falls on the US administration,” foreign ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari said.

The spokesman said the decision went “against international law”.

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Iran must hand over nearly $2 billion in frozen assets to survivors and relatives of those killed in attacks blamed on the Islamic republic…

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

Yazidi Girl, 12, Uses Sleeping Pills to Escape ISIS

(RT) A 12-year-old Yazidi girl secretly slipped sleeping pills into her Islamic State captor’s tea to escape. The girl and her aunt were being held as slaves by the jihadist group west of Mosul, before they were able to escape to Kurdish-controlled areas.

The escape was confirmed by Vian Dakhil, a Kurdish Yazidi member of the Iraqi parliament, who told the Kurdish BasNews agency that a 12-year-old girl and her 17-year-old aunt had managed to escape from their Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) captives by spiking their captors tea with sleeping pills.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

US Losing Out to Russian Wheat Exports

Russia strives to become largest non-GMO exporter

The United States was once the world’s leading wheat exporter, but now is losing its position to Russia and Canada due a stronger dollar, stagnant yields, rising competition and climate change.

According to analysts, exports of wheat may drop 9.3 percent to 21.1 million metric tons in the season ending May 31, the lowest since 1972.

“We’re no longer going to lead in volume every year,” said Alan Tracy, president of US Wheat Associates told Bloomberg, adding that an increase in global wheat trade was the only hope for the country.

Nearly forty percent of the US crop goes for export, according to the Department of Agriculture. The acreage for winter wheat fell to its second-lowest since 1913.

As US wheat is no longer the leader in global markets, American farmers are changing to corn and soybeans.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Dad Cuts Hands Off Teen Who Raped His Infant Daughter

Two years ago, an unnamed then 14-year-old was accused of raping the 7-month-old daughter of Parminder Singh. The girl’s mother walked in on him allegedly molesting the infant in April 2014, the AFP reported.

On Tuesday, the now 17-year-old appeared at the Rama Mandi district courts in Punjab, only to have the hearing postponed. Singh approached him with the offer of an out-of-court settlement of some sort. He promised to give the boy a ride to town on the back of his motorbike, The Indian Express reported. But the brick kiln laborer allegedly had no intention of offering any such settlement.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

India: Chhattisgarh: 11-Year-Old Girl Cuts Off Tongue to Offer to Lord Shiva

The incident occurred on Wednesday in Sangeetarai village. After initially losing consciousness, she continued to pray in front of a religious symbol, drawing a crowd of curious onlookers. Local authorities deputed a medical doctor to monitor her health.

Raigarh (AsiaNews) — An 11-year-old Indian girl on Tuesday cut off her tongue and offered it to Lord Shiva at a temple in Sangeetarai village, Raigarh (Chhattisgarh).

When police and district authorities rushed to the scene to rescue the child, villagers prevented them from taking the child to hospital because they believe that she would “recover without any medical aid with the blessings of the God,” said Sub-Divisional Magistrate Prakash Sarve.

The girl, who is still at the temple, “was not ready to go home,” he added. However, as a precautionary measure, a doctor has been deputed to monitor her conditions.

Since the incident first occurred, people have been coming to the temple to catch a glimpse of Chameli Sidar, the girl’s name. Her father, Budheshwar Sidar, is a farmer.

After going to a local temple on Saturday, she cut her tongue off with a knife in front of the Siva Lingam, a standing, cylindrical representation of the Hindu deity that symbolises generative power.

Hindu worshippers traditionally burn incense in front of the phallic pillar, which is decked out with flowers on holidays.

Although this is not the first incident of its kind, experts cannot explain the child’s action.

Still, what is more worrisome for a source that spoke to AsiaNews is the fact that the “child was away from home for three days and no one bothered to alert the authorities. Her rights and welfare are at stake.”

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

Mystery ‘Body Possession’ Epidemic Sweeps Through Malaysian Schools, Causing Teachers and Pupils to Collapse While ‘Being Pinned Down by Evil Spirits’

Schools in Malaysia have been struck by a mass hysteria ‘epidemic’ in which students claim they are having visions of female vampiric ghosts and are being physically pinned down by evil spirits.

Called ‘body possession phenomenon’, one bizarre incident saw 20 female students sent home from a single school after complaining of being overwhelmed by it.

Yesterday reporters attempting to speak with students at one school were not allowed entry but heard screams coming from inside classrooms.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Minority Leaders Slam Murder of Sikh Minister Who Was a Friend of the Christians

Two men on motorbikes gunned down their victim. At the start of his mandate as minister, he had asked a bishop for his blessing. Muslims liked him for his welfare work. For one observer, the incident highlights the government’s failure to protect minorities.

Lahore (AsiaNews) — Leaders of Pakistan’s minorities, including the country’s Christians, have condemned the murder of Minority Affairs Minister Sardar Soran Singh, the first Sikh in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Assembly.

Singh, 46, was killed yesterday in front of his home in Bacha Killay village in the province’s mountainous Buner District.

Gunmen riding on two motorbikes came in front of the car and fired at the minister, killing him instantly. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the murder.

Hundreds of Sikhs attended the minister’s funeral.

AsiaNews had interviewed Singh a few weeks ago, on the occasion of the reopening of an ancient Sikh temple in Peshawar, capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Rev Humphrey S. Peters, bishop of the Anglican Church of Pakistan, condemned the killing.

“I feel like someone has snatched away a very benevolent friend. He used to call me guru (spiritual teacher)”, Bishop Peters said.

“Singh came for a blessing the day after he took office in 2013,” the prelate remembers. “He was very supportive of Christians. Soon we became family friends.”

“He used to visit my home twice a month. Three days before his death, he called me and shared his plans to open an old people’ home”.

For the bishop, Singh’s murder highlights the government’s failure.

Guru Nanak Mission Gee president Dr Mimpal Singh called on the authorities to arrest immediately the culprits. “He was a true patriot,” he noted. “Even the Muslim community liked him for his welfare works. We are shocked by his loss.”

“Terrorists are targeting everyone,” the Sikh leader added. “We shall not hold street protests but we shall call on the government for protection”.

The Singh murder comes at a time when Pakistan’s Armed Forces are in the last phase of an operation against Taliban militants near the border with Afghanistan.

According to police, at least eight members of the Sikh community have been killed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa since 2013.

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

China: Hundreds of Students With Cancer and Leukemia in School Built on Contaminated Land

The school stands next to the site of three former pesticide plants. Groundwater and soil pollution levels are way above the safety limit. The authorities tried to hush up the problem. Government and business interests tend to protect polluting companies.

Beijing (AsiaNews) — Hundreds of students at a high school fell ill with bronchitis, thyroid problems, leukemia and lymphoma after their school was relocated to a campus next to a site where pesticides were made.

Last September, the Changzhou Foreign Languages School in Jiangsu moved to its new location, reportedly near three former chemical plants.

Since December, students and teachers at the privately run facility have complained of an unusual smell. At the same time, they began having rashes (see 2nd photo), coughs, headaches, and vomiting.

Local officials said that a soil restoration project was underway at the site at the time of the complaints.

An environmental-expert panel found that the air quality met national standards.

However, state-run China Central Television (CCTV) noted that soil and groundwater in the area contained toxic compounds and heavy metals, with the level of carcinogenic chlorobenzene in the ground water nearly 100,000 times the safety limit.

After parents sent 641 students for medical checks, 493 were found to have health problems, including bronchitis, blood and thyroid abnormalities, and in some cases lymphoma and leukemia.

Before the TV exposé, local authorities tried to keep the matter under wrap. Many doctors refused to examine the students to find the cause of their illnesses until parents and teachers began protesting in public (see 3rd photo)

Environmental activist Wu Lihong told by Radio Free Asia that “In China, the environmental protection department is nicknamed the pollution protection department, because it’s actually responsible for allowing a lot of the pollution by protecting polluting enterprises”.

Jiangsu rights activist Wu Shiming said the problems stem from a lack of checks and balances on the power of ruling Chinese Communist Party officials.

“There are strong links between government and business in many locations, because of a lack of scrutiny of state power,” Wu Shiming said. “In the end, it’s the ordinary people who suffer.”

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

At Least Hundred Undocumented Refugees Cross Moroccan Border

As many as 119 undocumented migrants crossed Morocco’s border into the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in North Africa on Saturday, local authorities said.

MADRID (Sputnik) — The migrants took advantage of the low tide and managed to cross the border near the Moroccan settlement of Benzu, according to a mission of the Spanish government in Ceuta.

The Moroccan security forces stopped another hundred of migrants from crossing the border.

According to Spanish media, all the migrants, who managed to cross into Ceuta, were intercepted and sent to a temporary migration center, 30 of them were in need of medical assistance.

Ceuta is a Spanish autonomous city located on the northern coast of Africa, on the border with Morocco.

In mid-1990s, Spain erected a 20-foot fence on the border between Ceuta and Morocco to stop illegal border crossings and smuggling. Morocco objected the construction as it does not recognize Spanish sovereignty in Ceuta.

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

Donald Tusk on Refugee We Can Never Negotiate Our Values With Erdogan

Tough policies on migration do not rule out humanitarian goals in the EU, the European Council president argues in an editorial. But Europe must also set clear limits on the concessions it is willing to make with its partners in resolving the refugee crisis.

One year ago, at the outset of the migration crisis, some accepted as a given that the migration wave is too big to stop. One consequence of this was to suspend the Schengen and Dublin rules, leading to the opening up of our territory to uncontrolled migration .

Europeans experienced increasing helplessness and uncertainty, along with more or less justified fears about security, the ability to integrate newcomers in our societies and the social and financial implications of an unrestricted flow of migrants.

This growing unease provided fertile ground for radical, populist, often nationalist sentiment. With surprising intensity, the debate became infused with apocalyptic prophecies and questions about the future of Europe.

Stopping this dangerous trend was a change of paradigm. So, several months ago, I proposed we make the reverse assumption, that the wave of migration is too big not to stop. Our priority should be to have a proper migration policy. The European Union and its member states must regain the capacity to decide who crosses our borders, where and when.

Paradoxically, this is essential to operate a rational and humane asylum policy. Without such an approach, tragedies at sea will also continue. We know the gravity of the present situation. On Wednesday, the UN refugee agency said up to 500 migrants may have died when a large ship sank in the Mediterranean last week.

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

France: Video Shows Migrant Women Beat 16-Yr-Old Girl ‘For Wearing a Dress’

The attack appears to have been a random act of violence

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

Video out of France shows a group of migrant women beat a 16-yr-old girl they labeled as a “slut” for wearing a dress.

As the victim reportedly did not know the assailants, the attack appears to have been a random act of violence.

Fortunately, a man was able to pull away the most vicious assailant, a woman described as a “real giant,” before she was able to murder her victim.

From (translation via Liveleak):

A 16-year-old girl was beaten up, on Monday, because of her clothes to Gennevilliers, in the Hauts-de-Seine.

It is 7 pm, on Monday, and Nadia* waits for the tram in front of the district of Lute. A small group of teenagers approaches her.

A few minutes later, three girls more or less of the same age as Nadia arrive then. In their turn, they speak to her about her skirt. The tone is clearly less cordial. Four young women rise in the tram which arrives. The trio continues to be obsessed with the skirt. The situation becomes inflamed. The leader makes her victim fall by pulling her by hair in the stop following, in the district of the Village, the thugs accuse Nadia to be a “slut” and begin to strike her.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

How 4 ISIS Terrorists Used Migrant Crisis to Enter Europe

(Washington Post) On a crisp morning last October, 198 migrants arrived on the Greek island of Leros, all of them seemingly desperate people seeking sanctuary in Europe. But hiding among them were four men with a very different agenda.

The four were posing as war-weary Syrians — all carrying doctored passports with false identities. And they were on a deadly mission for the Islamic State.

Two of the four would masquerade as migrants all the way to Paris. There, at 9:20 p.m. on Nov. 13, they would detonate suicide vests near the Stade de France sports complex, fulfilling their part in the worst attack on French soil since World War II.

The other two men would not make it that far.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Merkel Arrives in Turkey Amid Criticism Over Migrants Deal

GAZIANTEP, Turkey — German Chancellor Angela Merkel and top European Union officials arrived near Turkey’s border with Syria on Saturday in a bid to bolster a troubled migration deal with Turkey as they face increasing pressure to reassess the agreement.

Human rights groups criticized the trip to what they call a “sanitized” refugee camp — and said EU officials should look further at the tens of thousands of Syrian refugees that are now blocked from entering Turkey.

The German leader is also facing pressure to speak out against freedom of speech restrictions in Turkey.

The trip to the border city of Gaziantep by Merkel, EU Council President Donald Tusk, EU Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, comes as many have questioned the legality of the March 20 EU-Turkey deal allowing for the deportation of migrants who don’t qualify for asylum in Greece back to Turkey…

           — Hat tip: DV [Return to headlines]

Swiss Parliament Visits Hungarian Border

A high-powered delegation from the Swiss parliament is currently conducting a two-day tour of the border fence system at the famous border town of Asotthalom, Hungary. The delegation-which includes a number of senior Swiss People’s Party Members of Parliament, congratulated the town’s mayor, László Toroczkai, on his tough stance against the fake refugee invasion.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Texas Gov.: SCOTUS Will be ‘Completely Rewriting’ Constitution by Favoring Obama in Immigration Lawsuit

Greg Abbott accuses of justices playing ‘naked politics,’ says best outcome a 4-4 decision

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said that the U.S. Constitution will be “completely rewritten” if the Supreme Court sides with President Obama in the lawsuit challenging his executive action on immigration.

Abbott, formerly the state’s longest-serving attorney general, told reporters Thursday morning that the lawsuit brought against the president by Texas and 25 other states is “framed under” the issue of immigration but in reality challenges Obama’s use of executive power to “unilaterally” rewrite laws.

“The lawsuit is about the fact that the president completely abandoned the Constitution to assume power he does not have and wrote law that he himself, as a constitutional lawyer, said he did not have the power to do,” Abbott said during a roundtable discussion at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.

“The lawsuit is about the fact that, if the president wins this lawsuit, the Constitution as we know it has been completely rewritten and Congress no longer has any authority.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The ‘Freital Group’: German Prosecutors Go After Right-Wing Terrorism

By Steffen Winter

Local prosecutors in a German state believed a group had sought to intimidate refugees. But federal prosecutors have now taken over the case, accusing members of being part of a far-right terror cell that may have been out to kill.

Terror can be terribly banal. For example when people with screen names like Ninepin Karl, Gypsy Philli, Cookie, Buddy, Riot-Rico and Cuckoo join forces to fire off Dum Bum-brand fireworks in the middle of the night. Or when they complain in a chat service called Kakao Talk that they are having trouble getting ahold of the fruit.

But terror can also be terribly concrete — if you know, for example, that “fruit” is a code word for “explosives.” And when you realize that an elderly care worker, two bus drivers, a railway trainee, a warehouse worker and an unemployed person were preparing to launch a wave of right-wing terror attacks across Saxony.

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

7 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 4/23/2016

  1. I’m afraid SCOTUS will uphold BHO’s power grab. Once this is confirmed nothing will stop him from staying in power.

    • Obama may be arrogant, but it’s a huge leap from taking executive action on one issue to refusing to leave office.

  2. One has got to give it to Erdogan and his gang for the way they are playing Angela? I imagine the Russians are watching closely.

  3. It has all become quite mad. Is it possible that rivers of blood will seem aok and a very rational response to merkeslam?Feminazis were the end of the line and now soon it will be a restart from – scratch. Who would have thought? Imagine the pope kissing Hitler’s posterior.

  4. Those eight people in Ohio were reportedly all from the same family, and while they were in different specific locations, they were all in the same general area.

    What’s also curious is that the area is not along the commonly presumed drug routes into the more highly populated areas, nor is it where one might really expect something like “two families feuding back in them thar hills.” Ohio has foothills but no mountains.

    It should also probably be noted that Ohio’s current attorney general is definitely a politician. (…Presently sitting somewhere between John Kasich and John Boehner.)

  5. Oh, dear Lord (go ahead, think Beatles). The news is so BAD that I can barely read it these days. I cannot remember when it was this bad, at least not since the days of Vietnam war.

    I am beginning to think that people will take the law into their own hands, since the government refuses to do it.

    BTW I never knew that “fruit” is a code word for explosives. OTH, I really know very little anyway I guess.

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