Gates of Vienna News Feed 4/24/2016

The leader of the Pirate Party in Germany was arrested by police for citing the poem that a TV satirist is being investigated (and possibly prosecuted) for. The same law that forbids insulting a foreign head of state — in this case, Turkish President Recep “Goatlover” Erdogan — was used to justify the arrest.

In other news, in the first round of the Austrian presidential election, Norbert Hofer, the candidate for the FPÖ (Freedom Party) did much better than any of the other parties. The two main parties won’t even be represented in the run-off, in which Mr. Hofer will face the candidate for the Greens.

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

Thanks to acuara, AF, C. Cantoni, Dean, Insubria, JD, 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
» Draghi Has All of Europe’s Faith, Says Renzi
» Eurogroup Wants More Austerity Measures From Greece
» Italy: Inps Reports 34% Drop in New Pensions in First Quarter
» Padoan Says 4-Good-Bank-Sale Postponement No Problem
» Alex Marlow on the Milo Yiannopoulos Show: Conservatives Misread 2016 Election by Dismissing Their Commenters
» Four Great Concealed Carry Guns for Women
» Pro-Hillary PAC Spending $1 Million to Hire Online Trolls
» Seattle to be Sprayed With GMO Bacteria, Agency Warns “Stay Inside After the Spray”
» Smelling Blood in the Political Water
» Teenager Who Opened Fire at Wisconsin Prom Dies, Police Say
Europe and the EU
» Ankara Asks Turkish Firms in Netherlands to Report Those Mocking Erdogan
» Austrian Right Wing Strong in 1st Round of Presidential Vote
» Austria Presidential Vote Set to Punish Ruling Parties
» Austrian Nationalists Trounce Political Establishment in Landmark Presidential Election
» German Police Arrest Pirate Party Leader for Citing Anti-Erdogan Satire
» Italy: Uproar Over Davigo’s ‘Politicians Steal’ Comments
» Italy: PD Dissenters ‘Don’t Count’ Says Renzi
» Italy Has 1 Petrol Station for Every 1,900 Vehicles — Up
» Italy: Retail Sales Up 2.7% in Feb, Biggest Rise Since 2014
» Italy: ENI to Lay Off 354: Suspend Supplier Contracts
» Merkel Admits ‘Error’ In Erdogan Satire Row
» Netherlands: Turkish Embassy Sends Out Directive: Report Any Insult to Erdogan
» New Book Sets Record Straight on GMO Myths and Truths
» Obama Praises ‘Courageous’ Merkel Ahead of Trip to Germany
» Rapid-Fire Bids as French Retail Takeover War Heats Up
» Satire Affair: Turkish-Germans Caught Between Two Nations
» UK: ‘Crazed Cannibal’ Launched a Terrifying Attack on a Stranger and Bit His Ear Off After Telling Him His Favourite Food is Rare Steak
Israel and the Palestinians
» Report: Russia Wants Share in Israeli Gas
Middle East
» At Least 5,000 Jihadists Entered Syria From Turkey, Including Chinese Uighurs
» Where Are the Censors? Popular TV Drama Flouts Iran’s Islamic Taboos
» Block by Block: The Building of Russia’s Longest Bridge
» Vibrant, Noisy and Booming: Welcome to the New Moscow
» George Clooney Leads Yerevan March Commemorating Armenian Genocide
South Asia
» India: Child Brides Break Down When Forced to Marry
» University English Professor Hacked to Death in Bangladesh
Far East
» The Silk (Rail) Road on Track, Directly From Wuhan to Lyon
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Africa’s Largest Cotton Producer Bans Use of GMO Cotton
Latin America
» Final Deal for Italian Holders of Argentine Bonds
» 18,000 Illegal Aliens Caught in 5 Months — in Single Texas Sector
» Armed, Masked Greek Men Attack Refugee Boats, Leaving Stranded People to Die at Sea — HRW
» Austrian Riot Police Clash With Protesters Fighting New Border Controls as Anti-Immigration Far-Right Triumphs in First Round of Presidential Elections
» Ex-US Diplomat: Hungary the Future
» Israeli Anti-Tunnel System Could Put End to Smugglers, Migrants From Mexico
» Pope Francis Reneges on Offer to Take in Christian Refugees
» Swedish Support for EU Membership Plummets Amid Refugee Crisis — Poll
Culture Wars
» Information Age? Or Age of Lies and Deception?
» Petition Created to ‘Suspend Social Justice Courses’
» The Answer to Gender Anarchy

Draghi Has All of Europe’s Faith, Says Renzi

ECB hit back at criticism he said cd hurt bank’s independence

(ANSA) — New York, April 22 — Premier Matteo Renzi has stood up for European Central Bank President Mario Draghi after the Italian official hit back hard at criticism from Germany of his monetary policy for the eurozone.

“Draghi enjoys the confidence and esteem of all the European countries,” Renzi said at the United Nations in New York after a series of bilateral meetings to promote Italy’s bid for a non-permanent Security Council seat. On Thursday Draghi said “certain criticism” directed at the ECB’s policies under him threatened the independence of the central bank and he stressed that its mandate was to serve the whole eurozone, not just Germany. This seemed to be a response to comments by Germany finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, who had said the ECB’s record low, zero interest rates were causing “extraordinary problems” for German banks and pensioners and could fuel Euroskepticism.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Eurogroup Wants More Austerity Measures From Greece

‘Contingency package’ if budget targets not met

Chairman of Eurogroup Jeroen Dijsselbloem speaks during a meeting of the Eurozone Finance Ministers in Amsterdam

AMSTERDAM — The Eurogroup decided on Friday that Greece must approve a ‘contingency package’ with additional austerity measures that will be brought in if Athens does not meet budget targets set for 2015 and 2016.

Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem made the announcement.

The Greek government must now approve the package and — if an agreement is also brought in with international creditors on all the other measures — on Thursday a Eurogroup meeting will be held to unblock the aid. “We came to the conclusion that the policy package should include a contingent package of additional measures that would be implemented only if necessary to reach the primary surplus target for 2018,” the chairman of euro zone finance ministers Jeroen Dijsselbloem told a news conference in Amsterdam after the ministers met.

He said that the contingency measures need to be “credible, legislated up-front, automatic and based on objective factors”.

The measures themselves and what exactly will bring them in will be decided alongside Greek minister Tsakalotos, he said. The Eurogroup has tasked Dijsselbloem with finding ways to possibly lighten debt, which will in any case need to respect limits set during discussions last year: debt cannot be cut, but can be extended.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Inps Reports 34% Drop in New Pensions in First Quarter

(ANSA) — Rome, April 21 — Pensions and social-security agency INPS said Thursday that it liquidated 95,381 new pensions in the first quarter of 2016, a fall of 34.5% on the 145,618 registered in the same period of 2015. INPS stated that this year new requirements for women to retire kicked in, which took the retirement age for them from 63.9 years in 2015 to 65.7, and noted that there a four-month increase in life expectancy had also been registered.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Padoan Says 4-Good-Bank-Sale Postponement No Problem

Banks rescued last year

(ANSA) — Amsterdam, April 22 — Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said Friday there would be no problem with a delay in the sale of the four ‘good banks’ set up last year to save the accounts and jobs of four insolvent lenders. Padoan said that talks with the European anti-trust authorities was over and Italy had provided all the relevant documentation required.

“There should not be any problems in delaying the deadline for the sale of the four banks,” he said. The four banks, Banca Etruria, Banca Marche, Cassa di Risparmio della Provincia di Chieti (CariChieti) and Cassa di Risparmio della Provincia di Ferrara (CariFe) were rescued saving jobs and deposits but shares and bonds were rendered worthless, causing one bondholder to commit suicide. The government is setting up a compensation package for the bondholders, many of whom say they were duped into buying risky bonds.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Alex Marlow on the Milo Yiannopoulos Show: Conservatives Misread 2016 Election by Dismissing Their Commenters

The latest guest on the Milo Yiannopoulos Show is his boss, Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow.

Yes, that’s right, even Milo has a superior. Someone who can ask him to make the tea, tell him off, discipline him, even tell him to calm it down.

Their main topic of discussion is the kickback against liberal campus culture of safe spaces, trigger warnings, and campus censorship, where Marlow emphasised the need to have figureheads who are perceived as cool in order to achieve success.

Marlow said, “Every movement needs spokespeople, and those spokespeople must be cool. If you think about the left, it is really run by the cool guys.”

“What got Barack Obama into power? Obama was the cool guy,” he explained. “He had Scarlett Johannessen and going out there making videos [for him] being cool on TV, and that overwhelmed the logic, common sense, and good ideas that were on the other side. The cool factor is so important.”

           — Hat tip: AF [Return to headlines]

Four Great Concealed Carry Guns for Women

Now that women are a driving force behind the burgeoning firearms industry and the ever-expanding number of concealed carry permits in the U.S., it is only fitting to highlight four concealed carry guns that carry as comfortably in a purse or bag as they do in holster.

All these guns are light and compact, yet shoot a round of sufficient caliber to stop a threat should one appear.

           — Hat tip: AF [Return to headlines]

Pro-Hillary PAC Spending $1 Million to Hire Online Trolls

Correct the Record, a pro-Hillary Clinton political action committee (PAC), is spending over $1 million on online trolls in order to ‘correct’ Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) supporters on social media sites.

The PAC this week launched an initiative called “Barrier Breakers 2016,” which is composed of a “task force” that will debate ‘Bernie Bros,’ presumably supporters of the Senator Sanders’s campaign, as referred to by their official press release.

           — Hat tip: AF [Return to headlines]

Seattle to be Sprayed With GMO Bacteria, Agency Warns “Stay Inside After the Spray”

What’s that being sprayed in the skies?

Residents living in Western Washington are about to be doused with a bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), as a government agency attempts to control gypsy moths who plague agriculture in the area.

It has many people alarmed at the use of the genetically modified pesticide in the area where they live and breathe.

KOMO News in Seattle reports:

A controversial pesticide program will be underway Saturday in Pierce County.

“Once [the troubling gypsy moth] become established it becomes very difficult to do anything that slows it down,” said Hector Castro, spokesperson for the Washington State Department of Agriculture. “We don’t want it to become established at all in Washington State.”… Saturday the state will start spraying seven areas in Western Washington with a pesticide called Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki or Btk.

As Your News Wire points out, this insecticide has been genetically engineered by leading biotech firms specifically for use on GMO crops:

The program, opposed by many residents, will spray a bacteria with pesticide properties called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), the same bacteria gene commonly used in GM crops to kill insects.

Now, residents across Washington state are part of an unannounced experiment where they are being sprayed with a pesticide that can admittedly accumulate in the body, and has been found in tissue samples of people throughout North America. Though the exposure level is said to be low, it doesn’t mean that there is no effect.

The state authorities claim that the pesticide is safe for the general population, yet conversely admit that it could affect people with health problems:

Lauren Jenks with the Washington State Department of Health… says people who could be impacted by the spraying are those with respiratory issues.

“We recommend they try to minimize their exposure to the Btk by staying inside for up to a half hour after the spray,” said Jenks.

However, the USDA and other organizations claim that the acidic diet of most Americans renders the bacteria harmless, though it is persistent in produce and food products. It is widely used on crops, and is even used on organic crops.

Nevertheless, in countless cases, agencies throughout the government have proven far too willing to accept ‘minimal risk’ in favor of policies for the great good, even if it means a negative health impact on the community.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Smelling Blood in the Political Water

Having destroyed US coal industry, Democrats and eco allies are now attacking all fossil fuels

The great white environmentalist sharks smell blood in the water. It’s gushing from mortally wounded US coal companies that the Obama EPA has gutted as sacrifices on the altar of “dangerous manmade climate change” prevention and other spurious health, ecological and planetary scares.

Peabody Energy, Arch Coal and other once vibrant coal producers have filed for Chapter 11 protection, shedding some $30 billion in shareholder value and tens of thousands of jobs in their companies and dependent industries. The bloodletting has left communities and states reeling, union pension funds and 401k plans empty, and the health, welfare, hopes and dreams of countless families dashed on the rocks.

President Obama promised to bankrupt coal companies with punitive regulations, and he kept his word…

40,000 elderly Europeans died this past winter, because they could no longer afford adequate wintertime heat, after EU climate policies sent electricity rates “necessarily skyrocketing” more than 40% since 1997. Millions die every year in Africa from lung, intestinal and other readily preventable diseases, while President Obama tells Africans they should forego fossil fuels and rely on wind, solar and biofuel power, because “if every one of you has got a car and-a big house, well, the planet will boil over.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Obama joined Chinese, Indian and other world leaders in signing the Paris climate treaty on Earth Day, ignoring the requirement for Senate ratification. The hypocrisy and insanity are boundless.

The treaty will obligate the United States and other developed nations to slash their fossil fuel use, carbon dioxide emissions and economic growth. China, India and other developing economies are under no such requirement, unless and until it is in their interest to do so. For them, compliance is voluntary-and it should be. They simply cannot afford to eliminate fuels that supply 85% of all global energy and are their ticket out of poverty and into the world of modern health and prosperity that we enjoy, thus far.

In fact, while unaccountable EPA bureaucrats are shutting down US coal-fired generators, these countries have built over 1,000 coal-fired power plants and plan to build 2,300 more-1,400 gigawatts of new electricity. China and India account for 1,077 GW of this total. They are also lining up for free energy technology and billions of dollars a year from developed nations for climate change “reparations.”

[Comment: Soros is waiting in the wings to invest into more coal companies for pennies on the dollar.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Teenager Who Opened Fire at Wisconsin Prom Dies, Police Say

A teenager who got into a gun fight with police after he allegedly shot two students outside a high school prom in Wisconsin died several hours after being wounded in the incident.

Police said 18-year-old Jakob Wagner — a former student at Antigo High School in Antigo, Wis. — died at 1:06 a.m. Sunday “after lifesaving measures at a nearby hospital,” according to a statement posted on the Antigo Police Department’s Facebook page.

Two other teenagers, shot as they were leaving the prom, suffered gunshot wounds that were not life-threatening, police said. A female student has been released from the hospital, police said, and a male student was undergoing surgery on Sunday morning.

Police said an otherwise calm night at the Antigo High School prom turned violent around 11 when Wagner arrived at the event with a rife and “began shooting while outside the entrance to the building,” police said.

Officers who were patrolling in the parking area heard the gunfire and one officer was able to open fire on the gunman, police said.

“The officer’s immediate response prevented further injuries and possible casualties,” police said. “The initial investigation and officer response indicate this was a lone shooter and a search warrant is being executed at his residence seeking any additional information pertaining to this incident.”

Police believe Wagner acted alone, according to CNN.

The shooting shocked parents, who told reporters that they didn’t expect a school shooting would occur in a small, 8,000-person town like theirs, where people know each other by name.

           — Hat tip: Dean [Return to headlines]

Ankara Asks Turkish Firms in Netherlands to Report Those Mocking Erdogan

The Turkish consulate in Rotterdam has emailed different Turkish organizations operating in the Netherlands with an appeal to report cases of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan being insulted, Dutch NL Times newspaper said Thursday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — According to newspaper, this move comes a day after the Dutch authorities voiced their intention to abolish its legislature which makes insulting a friendly state’s leader a criminal offense.

Dutch politicians have negatively reacted to this move by Ankara calling it a “disturbing interference,” as quoted by the media outlet.

The Turkish laws making it illegal to insult Turkey, the Turkish nation, or Turkish government institutions. According to media reports, more than 1,500 people in Turkey are being investigated for insulting the president.

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

Austrian Right Wing Strong in 1st Round of Presidential Vote

VIENNA — The law-and-order candidate of Austria’s right-wing party swept the first round of presidential elections on Sunday, gathering over 35 percent of the vote for the party’s best ever result and leaving the other five candidates far behind. Among the losers were the government coalition candidates, reflecting deep voter rejection and political uncertainty ahead.

The triumph by Norbert Hofer eclipses his Freedom Party’s best previous showing — more than 27 percent support in elections that decided Austria’s membership in the European Union. With his declared willingness to challenge the governing coalition of center-left Social Democrats and centrist People’s Party, Hofer might push for new elections should he win the May 22 runoff in hopes that his Freedom Party will triumph at the polls.

With 98 percent of ballots counted, Hofer was far ahead of Alexander Van der Bellen of the Greens party who ran as an independent. He polled just over 21 percent support and will challenge Hofer in the second round.

Independent Irmgard Griss came in third. At just under 20 percent she was still ahead of People’s Party candidate Andreas Khol and Social Democrat Rudolf Hundstorfer, both hovering around 10 percent. Political outsider Richard Lugner was last, with just over 2 percent.

Freedom Party chief Heinz-Christian Strache hailed the “historic event” that he said reflected massive “voter dissatisfaction” with the traditional political landscape. Still, Van der Bellen remained in the running for the second round, with many of those who voted for other candidates likely to swing their support behind him in hopes he will defeat Hofer, and with it deal a blow to the Freedom Party…

           — Hat tip: Dean [Return to headlines]

Austria Presidential Vote Set to Punish Ruling Parties

Austria’s two main centrist ruling parties are set for a bloody nose in Sunday’s presidential election at the hands of the far-right and the Greens two years before a general election.

The Social Democrats (SPOe) and the centre-right People’s Party (OeVP) have dominated Austrian politics since 1945 and form the current government under Chancellor Werner Faymann.

The country’s president, who has a largely but not entirely ceremonial role, has also usually come from these two parties or had their backing as independents…

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

Austrian Nationalists Trounce Political Establishment in Landmark Presidential Election

Austria’s anti mass immigration party triumphed Sunday in the first round of presidential elections, dealing a wake-up call to Vienna’s cosy political establishment two years before the next scheduled general election.

Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party (FPOe) won 36.7 of the vote, projections showed, with candidates from the two governing parties failing to even make it into a runoff on May 22, projections showed.

The result, if confirmed, means that for the first time since 1945, Austria will not have a president backed by either the Social Democrats (SPOe) or their centre-right coalition partners the People’s Party (OeVP).

The SPOe’s candidate Rudolf Hundstorfer came joint fourth with just 11.2 percent, level with Andreas Khol of the OeVP.

           — Hat tip: AF [Return to headlines]

German Police Arrest Pirate Party Leader for Citing Anti-Erdogan Satire

Berlin chairman of the German Pirate Party Bruno Kramm was arrested by police for citing anti-erdogan satire poem, according to the party’s statement.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Berlin chairman of the German Pirate Party Bruno Kramm was detained by police during a protest against the government’s decision to open inquiry into a comedian’s satiric poem mocking Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to the party’s statement.

Last week, Berlin sanctioned the launch of an investigation against German comedian Jan Boehmermann over a controversial obscene poem that the satirist recited on German TV targeting the Turkish leader.

“The demonstration in front of the Turkish Embassy was dispersed. Bruno Kramm was arrested for citing Böhmermann’s poem,” the statement published Friday on the Pirate Party’s Twitter page reads.

Kramm violated the same section of the German criminal code, which allowed opening proceedings against Boehmermann. The section 103 prohibits “defamation of organs and representatives of foreign states.”

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

Italy: Uproar Over Davigo’s ‘Politicians Steal’ Comments

President of National Magistrates Association to Corriere

(ANSA) — Rome, April 22 — Piercamillo Davigo, president of Italy’s National Magistrates Assocation (ANM) union, stirred an uproar on Friday over comments he made in an interview with Italian daily Corriere della Sera in which he said that politicians steal.

Davigo said that politicians “haven’t stopped stealing; they’ve stopped being ashamed of it. They’re boldly claiming what they used to do in secret. They say things like ‘With our money we do what we want’. But it’s not their money, it’s taxpayer’s money,” Davigo said.

Former ANM president Luca Palamara said that now “isn’t the time to feed a useless conflict between politics and the judiciary” and said he “didn’t like generalisations” about corruption.

Antonio Leone, a member of the Superior Council of the Magistrature, the judiciary’s self-governing body, called Davigo’s comments “a misguided attempt to feed a new and violent clash between institutions”.

MP Andrea Romano of the Democratic Party (PD) said Davigo seemed uninformed on current legislation. “I find it very coarse the idea that politicians all steal in the same way: it seems like Davigo isn’t well-informed about the laws that we’ve made,” Romano said.

“Laws that haven’t made politicians honest from the first to the last, but that serve to fight dishonesty,” he said.

However, the leader of rightwing Northern League, Matteo Salvini, said he would be open to meeting with Davigo.

“I know him and respect him, I’d meet him and I’d meet him gladly because some battles in common I’m interested in doing them with him and ANM,” Salvini said.

“However I’d like it if there were more detailed remarks, because saying that politicians steal is too generic,” he said.

Davigo was undaunted Friday, saying “the leadership class of this country when it commits crimes reaps a number of victims incomparably higher than any street criminal and causes more serious damage”. Davigo said that “in Italy the common saying is that everyone steals. No, that makes me angry, many people steal. Not all. Otherwise it would make no sense to have trials”. Davigo added that “saying that magistrates must only speak through their sentences is equivalent to saying they must keep quiet.” He asked “have you ever read sentences? It’s like when there’s a fisherman who’s caught an enormous pike in a local daily. I say: is the fisherman affected by protagonism or is the pike enormous?” He also said those who accused magistrates of abusing preventive custody were “without shame”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: PD Dissenters ‘Don’t Count’ Says Renzi

Premier miffed on referendum about-face

(ANSA) — Mexico City, April 20 — Premier Matteo Renzi said Wednesday a dissenting minority within his Democratic Party (PD) engages in a kind of reflex opposition. “It’s no longer a novelty at this point,” he told reporters in Mexico City. “There’s a part of the PD that is in the opposition on everything… the referendum decision was taken by all of us together, if someone changed their mind I’m sorry but they don’t count”. Most PD minority faction leaders earlier declined to sign a petition for a referendum on the government’s Constitutional reform law, saying that according to parliamentary etiquette it should be up to the opposition alone to file such petitions. Renzi has staked his political future on winning the referendum, saying he will resign if he loses it. The constitutional reform revamps Italy’s political machinery to make it cheaper and easier to operate. Among other things, it transforms the Senate into a leaner assembly of local government representatives with fewer powers. Among the PD minority figures to reject signing the petition was former PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani.

The Italian premier is in Mexico City, the first part of a three-day North America visit that will see him at the UN in New York Thursday and Friday. Renzi will meet Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and then at around 17:00 local time will speak at the ITAM tech university. The premier was accompanied to Mexico City by the heads of several major Italian companies including ENI CEO Claudio Descalzi, ENEL CEO Francesco Starace, Finmeccanica CEO Mauro Moretti, SACE CEO Alessandro Castellano and Paolo Del Pino, Pirelli’s Latin America chief.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy Has 1 Petrol Station for Every 1,900 Vehicles — Up

In the UK 1 for every 4,300 vehicles

(ANSA) — Rome, April 19 — The number of petrol service stations in Italy remains comparatively high, Italy’s trade association for oil refiners and distributors Unione Petrolifera (UP) said on Tuesday.

There were 21,300 service stations in Italy in January 2015, or one per 1,900 vehicles in circulation. This compares to 8,591 petrol stations in the UK (one per 4,300 vehicles), 14,562 in Germany (one per 3,200 vehicles), 11,356 in France (one per 3,300 vehicles) and 10,712 in Spain (one per 2,500 vehicles). In Italy each service station distributes on average 1,311 cubic metres, compared to 2,340 cubic metres in Spain, 3,330 in Germany, 3,790 in France and 4,360 in the UK.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Retail Sales Up 2.7% in Feb, Biggest Rise Since 2014

Istat reports 0.3% month-on-month increase

(ANSA) — Rome, April 22 — Italian retail sales increased by 0.3% in February with respect to January and by 2.7% compared to the same month in 2015, Istat said on Friday. The year-on-year rise was the biggest since April 2014. The national statistics agency said the driving force of the rise was the food sector, which registered gains of 3.3% in value terms and 3.6% in volume terms with respect to February 2015.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: ENI to Lay Off 354: Suspend Supplier Contracts

At Viggiano plant, which is under probe

(supersedes previous)(ANSA) — Potenza, April 19 — ENI oil and gas giant said Tuesday it has suspended contracts with suppliers for its oil treatment plant near the Basilicata town of Viggiano.

Management earlier told union delegates it will have to lay off 430 employees at the Viggiano plant, which has been shut down under court order since March 31 due to a graft and illegal waste disposal probe by anti-mafia investigators that led to the arrests of five ENI employees. ENI later said 354 people currently working there will be laid off.

The company has denied charges of improper waste disposal at its plant, and its appeal is pending before the supreme Court of Cassation. The Viggiano plant produces 75,000 barrels a day.

The probe covers various oil plants in the southern Basilicata region and led to the resignation of Federica Guidi as industry minister earlier in the month. Also on Tuesday, unions warned the shutdown is also having negative effects on related oil-sector companies that employ some 3,000 people. The regional secretaries of CGIL, CISL and UIL labor federations issued a joint statement expressing “serious concern” over the situation and called for the plant to resume working regardless of its current legal situation.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Merkel Admits ‘Error’ In Erdogan Satire Row

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday admitted she had made an “error” in the bitter freedom of speech row sparked by a comedian’s poem about Turkey’s president.

But she defended her decision to authorise criminal proceedings against popular comedian Jan Boehmermann, saying this was a “fair” reaction to the poem that accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of paedophilia and bestiality.

Merkel did, however, express regret that her spokesman Steffen Seibert had said she viewed the poem as “deliberately insulting” in the chancellery’s first official reaction to the row.

“With hindsight, it was an error,” Merkel told regional officials meeting in Berlin, adding that the remark could have given the impression that “freedom of opinion is not important, that freedom of the press is not important”…

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

Netherlands: Turkish Embassy Sends Out Directive: Report Any Insult to Erdogan

Ankara’s consulate in Rotterdam has requested that Turkish organizations in the Netherlands report on any derogatory or defamatory statements made about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to reports by The Washington Post.

“We ask urgently for the names and written comments of people who have given derogatory, disparaging, hateful and defamatory statements against the Turkish president, Turkey and Turkish society in general,” read the email according to a BBC translation.

The Turkish embassy defended the email, claiming it’s message had been misunderstood. The consulate claimed the government was requesting reports on hate speech incidents and racism.

This incident comes after Erdogan demanded earlier this month that Germany press charges against comedian Jan Boehmermann after he recited a poem about the Turkish leader in a show on another public broadcaster, ZDF, suggesting he beats little girls, watches child pornography and engages in bestiality.

Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed to allow prosecutors to pursue the case against Boehmermann under a section of the German criminal code that prohibits insults against foreign leaders but leaves it to the government to decide whether to authorize such cases.

Additionally on Sunday, a prominent Dutch journalist was detained by Turkish police, a Dutch official said, a week after she wrote a column published in the Netherlands in which she criticized President Tayyip Erdogan for his clampdown on dissent.

Columnist Ebru Umar, who is of Turkish descent and an outspoken critic of Erdogan, was detained by police overnight in Turkey where she was on holiday.

A spokesman for the Dutch foreign ministry confirmed that Umar had been detained by police. “We are aware of this and we are following the situation closely. We are in contact with her,” he said. He declined to give further details.

Last week she wrote an article in the free newspaper Metro criticizing a Turkish consular official in the Netherlands for asking all Turks to report incidents of insults against Erdogan in the country. The call was widely criticized, including by Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and was later withdrawn…

           — Hat tip: acuara [Return to headlines]

New Book Sets Record Straight on GMO Myths and Truths

Many of us have become convinced that genetically engineered (GE) foods and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are harmful to health and the environment.

But how can you effectively respond to friends and family who have fallen for the oft-repeated fallacies and myths about GMO safety and efficacy?

Claire Robinson is the editor of GM Watch, which is based in the U.K. Together with genetic engineers John Fagan and Michael Antoniou, she also co-authored the book “GMO Myths and Truths,” which can be a very helpful resource.

I was really impressed with Steven Druker’s landmark book, “Altered Genes, Twisted Truth,” which decimates most of the GMO proponent arguments. Sadly most proponents fail to ever read his book.

Steven’s book is longer and a more challenging read for most, while “GMO Myths and Truths” is very concise and to-the-point, and it does a great job of providing you with strong arguments to effectively counter nonsensical GMO propaganda.

Robinson has been involved in the GMO debate since 1999. Her initial concerns were not incited by environmental groups, but rather by scientists.

“I knew some genetic engineers in the 1990s,” she says. “They were warning about the possible effects on health and the environment of genetically modified foods. At the time, I just didn’t want to think about it because there were too many other things to worry about.

But it became increasingly urgent that we do something, because before we knew it, there was talk about Monsanto wanting to genetically engineer every food crop on the planet, and I thought, “This is something we should be concerned about.”

The scientific voices did not die away. They were still warning about the possible effects of these foods. That’s really how I got involved…

[My co-authors and I] noticed there was this rumor out there that activists against GE crops had no science on their side, that they were uneducated, and that they were irrational. We knew that that wasn’t the case.”

That’s what led to the creation of the book. In fact, it was written for the explicit purpose of arming people with facts to counteract claims that there is no scientific basis for concern.

Many GMO proponents claim that genetic engineering is just an extension of natural breeding methods, and just as safe. Nothing could be further from the truth — on both counts.

Genetic engineering is radically different from conventional breeding techniques used to improve a crop. For starters, it’s a laboratory-based technique allowing scientists to create a food that could never be created by nature. As explained by Robinson:

“Genetic engineering enables DNA to be transferred not only between different kinds of plants, but even between different kingdoms. You can take DNA from an insect, an animal, or a bacterium, and insert it into the genome of a food crop plant.

This is actually a very imprecise process. What happens is that you’re disrupting the genome of the plant. We found time and time again that there are unexpected effects on the plant that is genetically engineered.

They tell us that it’s exactly the same, except for the inserted gene that’s been deliberately put in…But this isn’t the case. The genome is very complex. It’s not like Lego; you can’t just take out one bit, put in another bit, and expect there to be no knock-on effects.“ […] Who Benefits From GE Crops?

The answer is the companies that patent and own them. Profit is the real reason why GE crops are pushed so relentlessly in spite of the fact that they don’t yield more and they don’t reduce pesticide use. When you patent a GE crop, you not only own the rights on the particular crop, you also own the breeding rights.

Every crop bred from that GE crop, as long as your proprietary patented genes are in that progene, you own the progene as well as the original crop. So patenting GE seeds is a means of consolidating control over the food supply by a few big companies.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama Praises ‘Courageous’ Merkel Ahead of Trip to Germany

US President Barack Obama will push plans for a trans-Atlantic trade deal as he visits Germany at the invitation of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has emerged as his primary European interlocutor and strategic partner.

Obama jets in to Hanover for a final bilateral visit to a country that has long been Europe’s biggest economy, but has in modern times punched below its weight politically, diplomatically and militarily.

During Obama’s seven years in office, that dynamic has changed, with the US president making the German chancellor — among European leaders at least — first among equals…

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

Rapid-Fire Bids as French Retail Takeover War Heats Up

Bids flew like bullets Thursday as an acquisitive South African retailer and a French electronics giant battled it out over control of one of Europe’s leading electrical goods chains.

The fight for control of London-listed Darty, which runs 400 stores across Europe, pits Conforama, owned by South African retail giant Steinhoff, against France-based Fnac, a seller of books, music and electronic goods with a growing international network.

Fnac, seeking international expansion, opened a new round of hostilities Thursday by launching a fresh bid for Darty, valuing it at £779 million ($1.1 billion, 990 million euros).

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

Satire Affair: Turkish-Germans Caught Between Two Nations

By Serdar Somuncu

An insulting poem about Turkish President Erdogan by German comedian Jan Böhmermann has set off widespread anger among German-Turkish people. But why is the community so attached to the Turkish president?

For days now, angry Turkish nationalists and supporters of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have been bombarding me with hate mail and posting on my Facebook wall. The reason: my appearance on “Anne Will,” a German political talk show, during which I supposedly attacked Erdogan and defended the controversial and insulting poem by satirist Jan Böhmermann that sparked an international incident over the last few weeks.

My argumentation was in no way anti-Turkish, and I clearly expressed my reservations about the way the poem intentionally transgressed boundaries. Nonetheless, I have been accused, mostly in Turkish, of justifying its insults. I have been told that I am a traitor to my fatherland, that I sold Turkish honor to the German devil and that I sold myself out for my career.

These reactions are nothing new to me. I am familiar with them from my stage performances. But I too am surprised at how much fresh anger has emerged out of a debate about satire and art that has already been conducted countless times. Would there have been the same strong reactions if the subject had been the president of another country?

Clearly, this is mostly about the honor of Turkish people living in Germany. They have long felt persecuted by German degradation and arrogance. They feel humiliated and betrayed. And they don’t believe in the good intentions of German politicians when they talk about integration and leading culture.

The German-Turkish population’s tendency to separate itself has become stronger since the 1990s arson attacks, including those that took place in the northern German town of Mölln and western German town of Solingen. Then came the string of murders committed by the National Socialist Underground between 2000 and 2006, in which eight people of Turkish background died. As a result of the long period of political indecisiveness that followed, as well as the hesitant proceedings of the German justice system, Turks’ doubts about whether they can ever feel at home in Germany have become a near-certainty. Germans and Turks will never become friends, they are step-siblings.

The true father of the Turks, including those who live in Germany, is President Erdogan. For many of them, he is the savior of a new and self-confident Turkish nation that no longer takes the world’s abuse. Turks in Germany believe that you can’t depend on the Germans, and if there is anybody who truly looks after our interests, it’s our President Erdogan.

If you want to understand why Erdogan so successfully fulfills the longing for a reinvigorated greater Turkish state inspired by the Ottoman Empire, you need to consider the historical background. For years, Turkey was run by elitist circles made up of spiritual and ethical followers of Kemalism. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk turned the structures of Turkey on their heads while taking away the central pillar of its continued independent development. The former superpower became a Europe-oriented republic. The affairs of the state were separated from religion. Since the beginning of his rise, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been obsessed with the idea of replacing the hegemony of post-Atatürk republican Turkey with a seemingly libertarian-Muslim social order.

Suspicion of a Self-Confident Turkey

Internally, Erdogan is driven by a vindictiveness that seems to have built up during his months in prison and which he is now taking out on the people he thinks were complicit in Turkey’s unwavering Kemalist politics. As a result, his opponents consider him a dictator while he still sees himself as a dissident.

But Erdogan has also stabilized Turkey. The economy is booming, its social systems are functional. Turkey is no longer on the threshold of the developing world, rather it is oriented towards Europe, and thus finally to take seriously. It is balm for the maltreated soul of a chronically sick nation.

Germans view this newly self-confident Turkey with suspicion. Have the German-Turks taken up residence in the middle of German society, or are they sectarian lone wolves who are merely using German hospitality to pursue their own interests? The recurring accusation that Turks are unwilling to integrate and take refuge in parallel societies only confirms the German-Turks’ divergent position. As long as a polemicized debate about the subject continues to sell well and the books of Thilo Sarrazin, a boistrous opponent of multiculturalism, remain bestsellers, a rapprochement between German-Turks and their German identity will remain difficult.

The Turks have lost their trust in Germany — and the Germans theirs in Turkey. German-Turks are balancing between their two identities as they would on a tightrope. Only when Germany understands that Turks are a part of their society will the willingness of the Turks to decide for one side or the other become greater. Only when people are no longer asking which conditions Turkey still needs to fulfill to be recognized as a full-fledged part of Europe, will the willingness of German-Turks to cut the rope on which they are balancing — and to decide for the side that is doing the most for them — become greater.

Serdar Somuncu , 47, is a cabaret performer, writer and director. He was born in Istanbul and grew up in the Rhineland.

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

UK: ‘Crazed Cannibal’ Launched a Terrifying Attack on a Stranger and Bit His Ear Off After Telling Him His Favourite Food is Rare Steak

A man had half his ear bitten off by a ‘crazed cannibal’, who told him that his favourite food was rare steak.

Chad Feeney, 25, was staying at a YMCA hostel in Birmingham when he was awoken in the early hours of the morning by a stranger who had just returned from a night out.

But after getting up and chatting to the man in the common room, Mr Feeney soon fell victim to a gruesome attack.

Mr Feeney, who is an engine assembler, said: ‘We got onto the subject of food. I mentioned I loved pizza and he said he loved a rare steak.

‘Then before I knew what was happened he jumped on top of me and started repeatedly punching me in the face.

‘I tried to fight back but he was bigger than me. The I felt him bite my right ear, it sounded like someone was eating lettuce.

‘There was a massive chomp and then there was blood everywhere. He had blood all over his mouth and was laughing manically to himself.’

Mr Feeney claims he was unable to find the missing part of his ear, and fears the man may have eaten it.

He said: ‘He was like a crazed cannibal, he reminds me of Hannibal Lecter.

‘They should lock him up and throw away the key. He was a complete lunatic.’

Mr Feeney had only moved into the YMCA hostel in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham a week before the attack after falling on hard times.

It was only a temporary measure for him while he found permanent accommodation nearer to his work at the BMW factory.

Following the alleged attack, last Saturday, the police were called and the man was evicted from the hostel.

[Comment: “evicted”…That’s all?!]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Report: Russia Wants Share in Israeli Gas

Gazprom’s interest in Israeli gas reservoir Leviathan is a strategic issue for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Russian press reported at the end of last week that Russia was seeking to enter the Israeli natural gas industry, following a meeting in Russia last Thursday between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

It is believed that Putin wants to take part in the development of the Leviathan gas reservoir. This was not the first time that Russia has tried to strengthen its foothold in the Middle East through control of gas reservoirs. In February 2013, Gazprom, the Russian state-controlled (50.1%, with 49.9% owned by private and other investors) national gas company, signed a memorandum of understanding to buy gas produced from the Tamar reservoir through a floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) facility. Gazprom agreed to buy three million tons of LNG a year, amounting to 4.1 BCM. The project was never implemented, among other things because the Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources never approved the export project.

However, while the Israelis, led by Yitzhak Tshuva’s Delek Group Ltd, were enthusiastic about the possibility of the giant Russian company joining the Leviathan partnership, the US partner — Noble Energy — objected, preferring a Western partner, even on terms slightly inferior to those offered by Gazprom. Indeed, Woodside is the company with which the final negotiations took place, but it withdrew at the last minute, and no contract was ever signed.

Now that the Israeli gas industry is in its poorest position in a long time (dependent on a single reservoir, with the gas plan having stalled, a global gas glut, and plunging global oil prices), it appears that Putin is trying his luck again. Russia’s oil and gas revenues account for 50% of the country’s income (45% from oil and 5% from natural gas), but for Putin, a stake in an Israeli gas reservoir is a strategic-geopolitical issue, not an economic one.

           — Hat tip: acuara [Return to headlines]

At Least 5,000 Jihadists Entered Syria From Turkey, Including Chinese Uighurs

Preparations are underway for a big fight in Aleppo. Turkey allows weapons and recruits through. Saudi Arabia blocks peace talks. For people in villages near Aleppo, there is only flight.

Damascus (AsiaNews) — Syrian Prime Minister Wael Nader al-Halqi (pictured) confirmed recent reports that more than 5,000 Jihadis travelled through Turkey on their way to Idlib and the outskirts of Aleppo.

The Syrian leader told Russian news agency Sputnik that “Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar, as well as Western countries such as Great Britain and France have no real desire to move the process of the political settlement,” and are pushing for a military solution.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al Moallem said many countries continue to provide Islamist fighters advanced weapons, most notably Turkey.

The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported that the minister told a Chinese special envoy on official visit to Damascus that Syria would “continue combating the terrorist organizations which are constantly supported by some countries, such as Turkey, being offered passage for terrorists and provided with advanced weapons”.

The agency went to say that an international stand must “be taken to the effect of respecting the Security Council resolutions”.

Syria’s UN Permanent Representative Houssam-Eddin Ala said that hundreds of new fighters have entered Syria through Turkey, noting that “Saudi Arabia continues to put pressure on the delegation from the Riyadh conference to reject any agreement.”

A Christian living southwest of Aleppo, who asked his name be withheld, told AsiaNews that a large number of Jihadi fighters from the Islamic Turkmen Party are being deployed.

“They received weapons and ammunition from the al Nusra Front and Jund al-Aqsa (Soldiers of Al Aqsa), which includes Syrians and others. Meanwhile, logistical work is being undertaken, with new positions with sandbags being prepared.”

“In the past few days, East Asian-looking fighters have joined the Islamic Turkmen Party, speaking Chinese,” the source added. They are probably “Chinese Uighurs coming through Turkey”.

Al Ahrar Sham fighters “are no longer on the frontline, but in the rear.”

In the village of Al Bawabiya (southwest of Aleppo, two kilometres from the Aleppo-Damascus Road, where the new Jihadis from Islamic Turkmen Party have set up their headquarters), the people are scared to death by the arrival of Turkic Uighur fighters “who have taken over abandoned houses”.

“They know that preparations are underway for a big fight,” he said. Residents have only two choices: “join the fighters, coerced or to survive, or quickly flee. Standing up to these armed men is impossible.” (PB)


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

Where Are the Censors? Popular TV Drama Flouts Iran’s Islamic Taboos

“Shahrzad”, a slick, new Iranian TV series set in the Shah era, is raising eyebrows and wowing audiences across the country. But it’s also sparking fears of a crackdown to come.

Over a sumptuous tea party complete with plates of pastries, fruit and jugs of chilled tea, a woman plays a tambour as the female guests around the table sing, clap their hands to the beat and ululate joyfully.

The scene seems innocent enough by international TV standards. But for a local Iranian TV series, licensed and approved by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, this is edgy stuff. It’s the sort of content that has many Iranians questioning whether the censors did not realise the significance of the series or if the state’s red lines are dramatically shifting…

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

Block by Block: The Building of Russia’s Longest Bridge

Several months ago, after much planning and careful preparations, the construction of the bridge between Crimea and Russia’s mainland has begun in earnest.

The Russian Federal Road Agency authorized the construction of the 19-kilometer (11.8-mile) bridge in February.

The road-rail bridge, which is probably the biggest and most ambitious infrastructure project undertaken by Russia over the last decade, is designed to provide a land route between mainland Russia and the Crimean Peninsula.

The estimated cost of the project is about $3.4 billion.

The bridge is expected to become operational in December 2018 and will become the longest bridge in Russia.

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

Vibrant, Noisy and Booming: Welcome to the New Moscow

Moscow was long in the hands of criminals and the nouveau riche. Today, Europe’s biggest metropolis is undergoing rapid change. It is becoming more open and more cosmopolitan, despite Putin’s nationalism.

In his company’s loft offices above the roofs of Moscow, along with the hammocks and Soviet-era memorabilia, Artemy Lebedev has a provocative piece on display. Guests who use the bathroom while visiting Russia’s best-known product designer find themselves inside the Kremlin, so to speak, sitting between the battlements of the fortress walls, gazing out at Red Square and listening to the sounds of the city. The voices of pedestrians and the traffic noise are a recording, the buildings and churches are painted onto a mural and the Kremlin wall is made of red-painted wood.

The 41-year-old designer is Moscow’s enfant terrible. Together with his studio, he has designed a microwave for South Korean company Samsung, rectangular traffic lights for Istanbul and, for the nerds of the world, a computer keyboard that has acquired cult status with its luminous keys.

Lebedev has traveled to more than 200 countries, but he always feels drawn back to his native city. It is impossible to escape his creations in Moscow, where he has designed street signs and building numbers, mailboxes and even the maps for the city’s metro system.

“Moscow never sleeps. It’s the best city in the world,” says Lebedev, “a city of unlimited possibilities, not as deadly boring as Berlin, where the restaurant kitchens close before midnight. No other city has this much energy. Moscow is just cool!”

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

George Clooney Leads Yerevan March Commemorating Armenian Genocide

Hollywood star and rights advocate George Clooney on Sunday led thousands of Armenians on a march to a hilltop memorial in Yerevan to commemorate the 101st anniversary of the World War I-era Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire.

A staunch advocate of the massacre’s recognition as genocide, Clooney arrived in the ex-Soviet nation on Saturday to take part in the hugely symbolic ceremonies.

Clooney, Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and thousands of Armenians on Sunday laid flowers at the eternal flame at the imposing Tsitsernakaberd memorial as requiem services for the genocide victims were held in churches across Armenia…

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

India: Child Brides Break Down When Forced to Marry

(Emirates 24/7) A mass child marriage ceremony has been captured on camera — showing young brides crying as they are forced to wed.

In the video that has been circulated on social media, a girl of around 10-years-old is seen crying and pleading for help as her father as he rags her to the ceremony.

In another clip a priest — conducting the Hindu ritual — is also seen scolding the children for crying.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

University English Professor Hacked to Death in Bangladesh

University professor A.F.M. Rezaul Karim Siddique was hacked to death by a gang of attackers while on his way to work in Bangladesh. ISIS have claimed responsibility for the attack.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Silk (Rail) Road on Track, Directly From Wuhan to Lyon

After 16 days and 11,300 km, the first freight train reached France after crossing six time zones through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, and Germany, taking half the time of sea shipping. Xi’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ is back in the spotlight, to trade with Europe, bypassing the United States.

Beijing (AsiaNews) — An intercontinental freight train that left Wuhan city in China arrived in Lyon, France, after travelling 11,300 km to Lyon, France, crossing seven countries and six time zones. A new ‘Silk Road’ thus begins.

The train arrived at its destination after 16 days, half the time it would take by sea, which tends to be dominated by US exports. The convoy carried a cargo of mechanical, electrical, and chemical products. The same train is expected to leave in a few days loaded with French wine and produce.

After receiving the iron horse with great fanfare, France announced plans to introduce three links a week between Wuhan and Lyon in the near future.

On its website, Chinese freight company Trans Eurasia Logistics (TEL) already advertises regular rail links between 16 Chinese cities and European cities — including Barcelona, Bologna, Rotterdam, and Kotka, in Finland.

In March 2015, China and a number of European nations agreed to a ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’, an initiative designed to open up new trade routes.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has backed this dream, which he had dubbed ‘One Belt, One Road’, and is part of a broad geopolitical project with many implications.

On the one hand, the ‘New Silk Road’ embodies a desire to bypass the war-torn Middle East and Africa’s pirate-infested seas. On the other, Beijing wants to become the most competitive possible to marginalise US exports in Europe.

China also has to contend with India, which launched its own maritime trade initiative, called the ‘Cotton Road’ to link the nations of South Asia and South-East Asia.

For Alice Ekman, a research fellow and head of China research at the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI), China’s project “goes off in all directions”.

“In the beginning, China announced a possible 60 partner countries — Eurasian countries. Now we’re seeing that the project also includes Africa, and Beijing has also said that ‘all countries across the world are welcome’.”

The ‘Belt’ initiative is backed by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which China controls. Yet, “it won’t be easy for China’s institutions to implement the government’s program,” said Ekman.

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

Africa’s Largest Cotton Producer Bans Use of GMO Cotton

Burkina Faso, Africa’s top cotton producer and the sole West African nation to venture into biotech farming, is dropping genetically-modified (GM) cotton on quality grounds.

The world’s 10th largest cotton producer, with four of its 19 million people dependent on the “white gold”, Burkina Faso earlier this month said it was giving up Monsanto’s GM Bt cotton because it had proved uneconomical.

Burkina took up GM cotton in the 2000s in the hopes of bumping up returns on what was then its top export product, surpassed in 2009 by gold.

But the country’s association of cotton producers now say GM cotton, though producing higher yields, has caused a drop in crop quality.

“The cotton fibre we are producing today is short,” Burkina Faso’s new President Roch Marc Christian Kabore told AFP this month.

Fibre length is key in textiles with longer ones tending to produce stronger yarns because they allow fibres to twist around each other more times, also enabling higher spinning speeds.

But the shorter fibres now being produced from Burkina’s GM cotton “means that in market terms it’s an activity which is no longer very attractive for us,” the president said.

The government, he added, has taken steps “to underpin the sector … and help producers.”

[Comment: GMO cotton plants yield inferior and coarse textile material. Clothing manufactures don’t want that rubbish.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Final Deal for Italian Holders of Argentine Bonds

Repayment of 150% of capital for a total of $1.35 bn

(ANSA) — Rome, April 22 — The Task Force Argentina (TFA) group representing around 50,000 Italians who had Argentine bonds when the Latin American country defaulted in 2001 has signed a final deal for a refund, ANSA sources said on Friday.

The bond holders will recover 150% of their capital, for a total of around $1.35 billion, by the end of June.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

18,000 Illegal Aliens Caught in 5 Months — in Single Texas Sector

Nearly 18,000 illegal aliens were apprehended by Border Patrol agents in just one sector of the Texas/Mexico border, the Laredo Sector.

Border Patrol agents assigned to the Laredo Sector had an impressive first five months of the current fiscal year which began in October 2015. 17,945 apprehensions were made of illegal aliens who had crossed the border from Mexico, Border Patrol officials wrote in a statement released late Friday afternoon. In addition, large quantities of drugs were seized and 33 bodies of illegal immigrants were found.

The Laredo Sector covers 101 counties in Texas. This area represents 86,793 square miles of the Lone Star State. It covers a distance of 171 miles of the Rio Grande River border with Mexico and runs northward from Laredo through Dallas to the Oklahoma border on the Red River.

           — Hat tip: AF [Return to headlines]

Armed, Masked Greek Men Attack Refugee Boats, Leaving Stranded People to Die at Sea — HRW

Armed masked men around the Greek islands have been targeting migrant boats and turning them back, sometimes throwing their engines away, according to a damning HRW report. This follows witness claims of Greek border guards refusing asylum seekers entry.

The report bases its findings on nine witness testimonies detailing cases of masked, often armed, assailants intercepting boats off the Aegean Sea coast, which are usually headed from neighboring Turkey carrying refugees from the Syrian war.

The most recent case allegedly took place on October 7 and 9, when the attackers allegedly disabled the engines of several boats and even punctured holes in their inflatable hulls. Some of the boats were towed back into Turkish waters.

           — Hat tip: AF [Return to headlines]

Austrian Riot Police Clash With Protesters Fighting New Border Controls as Anti-Immigration Far-Right Triumphs in First Round of Presidential Elections

Austrian riot police used batons and pepper spray as they clashed with protesters fighting controversial new controls at the country’s border with Italy today.

Scuffles broke out when several hundred demonstrators tried to breach police barriers at the Brenner Pass where Austria has said it will toughen controls in response to unprecedented migrant flows into Europe.

The violent scenes broke out as it emerged Austria’s anti-immigration far-right has triumphed in the first round of a presidential election, with candidates from the two governing parties failing to even make it into a runoff in May.

[Comment: Communists, traitors and useful idots do not relinquish power easily. Perhaps agitators were paid by Soros. Look at how young these protestors are… another generation of university students weened on communist indoctrination. ]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Ex-US Diplomat: Hungary the Future

Hungary will increasingly become the destination choice of north western Europeans fleeing their nations’ “suicidal migration policies,” a former senior US diplomat has said.

Writing in the Hungary Today journal, Hungarian-American Adam Topolansky, who previously worked at the US International Trade Commission in Budapest, said that Hungary will “welcome autochthonous western European migrants with open arms.”

[Comment: Hungary should only take in those that were not traitors to their own nations in the mass migration destabilization plan. Those scum should be forced to remain in the country they destroyed.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Israeli Anti-Tunnel System Could Put End to Smugglers, Migrants From Mexico

TEL AVIV — The U.S. is cosponsoring an Israeli-invented tunnel detection system that could prevent drug smugglers and illegal migrants from cross-border passage with Mexico, ISRAEL21c reported.

The technology, which is being heralded as the underground Iron Dome anti-missile defense system, was behind the IDF’s recent discovery of a 1.5 mile-long Hamas terror tunnel from Gaza and into Israeli territory.

The U.S. has earmarked $120 million over the next three years to help develop the system, the Financial Times reported.

           — Hat tip: AF [Return to headlines]

Pope Francis Reneges on Offer to Take in Christian Refugees

A Christian brother and sister from Syria felt blessed to have been among the dozen refugees selected to start a new life in Italy — but now say their savior, Pope Francis, abandoned them on a Greek island, according to a report.

Roula and Malek Abo, who had been housed in a refugee camp on Lesbos, said they thanked their lucky stars when they found out the Vatican had selected them during the pontiff’s visit to the island last week, the Daily Mail reported.

Their dreams were shattered, though, when they were informed the following day that they would not be traveling to Rome. Instead, three Muslim families were taken.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Swedish Support for EU Membership Plummets Amid Refugee Crisis — Poll

Swedish support for EU membership has dropped amid the European refugee crisis, with the majority of citizens saying the bloc is heading in the wrong direction, according to a new poll.

The survey, conducted by Swedish polling company TNS Sifo and commissioned by public broadcaster SVT, asked 1,142 people aged 18 to 79: “What do you think in general about Sweden being a member of the EU?”

It found that just 39 percent of Swedes believe that being in the EU is a positive thing, compared with 59 percent last autumn.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Information Age? Or Age of Lies and Deception?

One of the biggest problems we have in our society today is thinking because we “know” something that it is “knowledge.” That is what makes it possible for so many psychopaths to publish a plethora of lies on the Internet that is believed by so many people.

This is the information age. Never have people had access to so much information — and it can be accessed while sitting in the comfort of your own living room… on your Smart TV or your laptop.

But information is not knowledge. It is just information… possibly true, possibly false; possibly meaningful, possibly not; possibly helpful, possibly destructive or otherwise worthless.

How does information become knowledge? Experience!

You only KNOW information is accurate when it has been tested. If people understood this there would be far fewer divorces and far fewer wars.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Petition Created to ‘Suspend Social Justice Courses’

Popular YouTuber Sargon of Akkad has set up a petition to suspend social justice courses at universities, gaining over 28,000 signatures at the time of this writing.

The petition states, “Social justice has become scientifically illiterate, logically unsound, deeply bigoted and openly supremacist. Social justice professors are indoctrinating young people into a pseudoscientific cult behind closed doors that is doing damage to their health, education and future.”

“It has become a victim of its own good intentions and in the desperate attempt to make the world better for some it is creating a world better for none,” it continues. “It has become another ideology fit only to pave the road to Hell, so it is time to turn around and choose another path that is concerned with reason, science and improving the lives of every human” he continues.

“To clarify, we are calling for the teaching of social justice courses in universities to be temporarily suspended,” it says. “What follows is up for debate, but as it stands now, social justice is causing far more harm than good and it must be halted and reassessed.”

           — Hat tip: AF [Return to headlines]

The Answer to Gender Anarchy

Linda Harvey writes, “evil leftists as the power-brokers [are] looking to separate children from something essential … to sever American children from their God-designed, biological genders.

The Human Rights Campaign, the ACLU and the National Education Association want schools to become “gender expansive.” These deviants are sucking the life out of young humans, persuading them to embrace delusions and become surgically mutilated at the earliest opportunity… Radicals take the wrecking ball to everything, including human design. But it’s not simply a fight against gender distinctions. It’s a fight against modesty and decency, and the presumption that these are unnecessary is the basis of the pressure to open school restrooms and showers to both sexes.”

All these are but a smoke screen for the real agenda — sexual anarchy, overthrowing God’s Law regarding all aspects of sexual morality. It is apparent from the mile high point of view that this agenda of sexual anarchy is insatiable. At first only small demands were made but then more and more and greater and greater then even more expansive demands are made to the point that it becomes more evident every day that there is no end to their demands that all of us surrender to their agenda.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

6 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 4/24/2016

    • Jeff, it seems that the Book of 66 Fairy Tales proves to be anything but Fairy. The modern abysmal stupidity of the Traitors whose decisions are aimed at nothing to empower jihadis, self-loathing, and worshiping foreign gods will lead to the End Times. How will the following be fulfilled?

      “Nation will rise against Nation, Kingdom against kingdom… ”

      The king of the South will push against the King of the North. The stupidly imported Muslims will continue their atrocities against the west to the point where western countries will start to prosecute a few tens, then a few hundreds, then a few thousands. Then muslim supremacists will declare war on the infidels. Western countries will react. Now it will be clear either fight or die anyway.

      Then muslim countries who dare not pick up an open fight/ war with the west will declare war siding with their brethren in the west. Then Pakistan against India, Iran against the Gulf States Europe (siding with muslims) and everyone else against Israel.

      A few nuclear weapons will be hurled. Millions nay, billions will

      Let’s hope that Christ will come and stop the Armageddon and remind Lucifer that pride is a deadly sin and you see the result.

      Traitors, when elected, become blind to logic and reason. Result the mess we are in.

      • Well, given the current state of affairs, the overall number of people and the available technology = WWII + 70 years of research: I’d say we are in for a time of trouble such as never was before.

  1. From “Rorate Caeli” (

    “The Pope’s Weakness” – Submitting himself to Allah
    Passage from the article “Liberalism caresses Totalitarian thinking”

    The Pope’s Weakness
    Ivan Rioufol
    Le Figaro
    April 22, 2016

    The obvious: nothing is less evident than a compatibility of political Islam, a totalitarian ideology, with democracy. Yet it is this problem that the Pope evades, due to his refusal to contemplate the confrontation between the West and the Muslim world, despite History and the facts.

    His choice of bringing from the Greek island of Lesbos, last Saturday, three Muslim Syrian families for whom the Vatican took responsibility, is clearly a happy portrayal of Catholic humanism. His oversight of the Christians of the Middle East, persecuted by the Islamic State, makes one fear nonetheless a lack of interest for his own religion. For him, all refugees are “children of God.” But the vengeful Muslim God is not the Christian God of Love.

    On Tuesday, the Holy Father accused Western societies of closing themselves, “out of fear of the change of mindset and lifestyle” that the arrival of the immigrants entails, according to him. While addressing himself to them, he alluded to “our God, the clement and the merciful,” making use of the formula of the Koran. However, to expect goodwill from Islam all the while submitting himself to Allah is a weakness that discredits Francis.

    Posted by New Catholic at 4/23/2016 05:50:00 AM

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