Tag Archives: Italy

Syrian asylum seeker is jailed for life in Sweden after footage emerged of him taking part in the execution of seven men in 2012

sakhanh-syria-refugee

The criminal refugee Sakhanh, far left (circled in red)

And proggies wonder why many Americans want a refugee ban and stronger vetting processes. Go figure…

From Daily Mail: A Swedish court on Thursday sentenced a Syrian man to life imprisonment for participation in the 2012 mass execution of seven government troops in Syria.

The Stockholm District Court ruled that 46-year-old refugee Haisam Omar Sakhanh joined the armed group Suleiman Company in early May 2012, and shot a person dead with an assault rifle.

Judge Tomas Zander said the victim, who was not identified, was shot dead along with six others ‘under particularly cruel circumstances’. The seven men who were shot were part of the Syrian regime who had been captured by the independent Islamist group, which was founded in 2011.

The Islamist armed group captured the men during an attack at the beginning of May 2012, and the seven were shot to death less than two days later, according to Stockholms Tingsratt. In the years since the execution, it has been impossible to identify the victims.

Sakhanh had confessed to the shooting but said he should not be prosecuted because the death sentences had been made by a legitimate court, something the Swedish court rejected. It also rejected his defense that he had been following orders.

The group Sakanh was part of, the Suleiman Company, is a Islamic rebel group independent of Free Syrian Army that was formed in 2011 during the Syrian uprising. The group is mainly active in the Idleb countryside’s Jebel al-Zawiya region, and is led by former drug smuggler and Salafi militant Abu Suleiman al-Hamawi, according to TrackingTerrorism.org.

The court said Sakanh had been active in Italy in 2011 and 2012 where he protested against the Syrian government. 

Italian police helped investigators in Sweden to identify him via fingerprints and photos of him illegally entering the Syrian Embassy in Rome during a protest, according to the court ruling obtained by The Associated Press.

After his stint in Italy, Sakhanh returned to Syria before heading north to Sweden where he sought asylum in Sweden in 2013.  He failed to inform authorities about the executions and was given refugee status and permanent residence permit in early 2016.  He has been held in pre-trial custody since March.

In a statement, the court said Sakhanh’s crime ‘is so high that the punishment has been ruled to be life imprisonment’.  In Sweden, life imprisonment is normally ten years. The court said Sakhanh should then be expelled from the country and banned from returning.

DCG

 

 

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Puppies Found Alive Five Days After Deadly Italy Hotel Avalanche

puppies rescued in italy.png

From NBC News: Emergency workers on Monday rescued three puppies from a destroyed Italian hotel that was buried under tons of snow by an avalanche, bringing joy to searchers who’ve had little reason to hold on to hope.

Italy’s fire brigade found the three white sheepdog pups five days after an avalanche triggered by a series of earthquakes buried the Rigopiano Hotel in Farindola, Italy, last Wednesday. The puppies were found in an air pocket in the hotel’s boiler room, the brigade said.

Rescue workers were holding out hope for survivors as more than 20 guests and workers remained missing after the avalanche. Authorities raised the death toll to seven on Monday, according to the Associated Press. Nine others have been rescued from the rubble.

The three rescued puppies are the offspring of Nuvola and Lupo, two sheepdogs who also lived at the hotel, officials said. The litter was born on Dec. 4.

Lupo and Nuvola managed to escape the avalanche alive, the brigade said, and were found in Farindola on Friday by a bartender at the hotel who knew the dogs well and was not working on the day of the incident.

The National Animal Protection Agency (ENPA) in Italy told NBC News that Nuvola and Lupo were currently with a friend of the missing hotel’s owner, and they were working on getting them reunited with their puppies.

The hotel’s owner is still missing.

DCG

Tony Blair sees dangerous times ahead for Western democracies

tony-blair

From USA Today: Former British prime minister Tony Blair warns that political upheaval from Great Britain’s Brexit vote in June to the collapse of the Italian government on Sunday signals the most dangerous time for Western democracies in decades.

“It does feel perilous, actually, because I think there are decisions that are being taken of vast moment in circumstances where systems are fragile,” he told Capital Download on Monday. “And that is troubling.”

It has been a year of unexpected victories by populist and nationalistic forces that are challenging the establishment: passage of the referendum pulling Britain from the European Union, the election of Donald Trump as president in the United States, defeat of a measure in Italy that prompted the prime minister to announce his resignation. And in the Austrian election Sunday, the candidate representing the party founded by former Nazis lost — but after commanding 46% of the vote.

Michael Bloomberg at a No Labels conference...you know he's not bipartisan.

Michael Bloomberg at a No Labels conference…you know he’s not bipartisan.

Blair, who was in Washington to address a conference sponsored by the bipartisan group No Labels, announced last week the launch of a new organization that will try to help build a more muscular policy agenda for centrists and encourage networking among them across Europe, in the United States and elsewhere. Given the rise of extreme voices on the left and right, he said, “I’m not sure we’re asking the right questions right now, never mind giving the right answers.”

Of particular concern to him is a “longing” for an authoritarian leader.

Dog eyeroll

“It’s amazing how many people you will find who will reference a style of leadership of (Russian) President Putin in a positive way,” he told USA TODAY’s weekly video newsmaker series. “I think people want their country moving and they think that if the present system is not moving it, and not making the changes that they want to see, then maybe someone who just says, ‘I don’t care what anyone thinks; I’m just going to go for it, and this is what I’m going to do’ — that has a certain attraction.

“If the center isn’t a place of strength and vitality, and it looks kind of flabby and just managing the status quo, then you’re at risk of someone coming along and doing that.”

In his speech to the No Labels conference, he faulted some centrist political leaders for failing to do enough to improve the economic prospects for workers disrupted by globalization and to ensure a sense of personal safety at a time, for instance, that Great Britain and other European countries have absorbed a wave of immigrants from Syria. “People will only put aside prejudices if they think there are rules,” he said.

Blair sees a common thread from Brexit’s passage to Trump’s election to support for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, a provocative figure whose anti-drug campaign is blamed for thousands of deaths.

“There is immense amount of anger at established ways of doing things,” Blair said. “There is, I think, a whole group of people who feel ignored by those in power, that is for sure true. There is more anger around in politics than for a long time.” While issues such as immigration aren’t new, there is “much greater skepticism towards globalization and the benefits of it.”

What’s more, “social media is a revolutionary phenomenon,” he went on. “It changes the way politics works. It changes the way the media works. If we’re not careful, it locks people into conversations with people who just agree with them, and who then have a general conspiracy-theory view of the rest of the world.

liberal media bias

Blair has never met Trump and didn’t criticize him. Asked about whether it was wise for Trump to accept a congratulatory telephone call from the president of Taiwan — the sort of conversation every American president since 1979 deliberately has avoided — Blair demurred. “I’m not going to get into your politics,” he began. “To be honest, in the end, I’ll tell you what I really think: Let’s see how it works out.”

“I’m less worried about America than I am about Europe; I’ll be very frank with you,” he said. “America is such a strong country and you’ve got so many checks-and-balances and you’ve got such resilience in your economy and so on; you guys will do fine, I’m sure. In Europe, we have systems that are at a point of fragility that troubles me.

Blair was just 54 years old when he moved out of 10 Downing Street after serving as prime minister from 1997 to 2007. His political appeal for a “new way” was akin to President Bill Clinton’s “third way” for Democrats here, and he was a crucial ally for President George W. Bush during the Iraq War.

Now he offers a bit of free advice for President Obama, who will move out the White House next month at age 55: Find a cause.

Don't worry Tony, Obama's found a cause. The same one he's been working on for the past eight years!

Don’t worry Tony, Obama’s found a cause…he’s been working on it for the past eight years!

“When you’ve got young political leaders and then they leave office young, you’ve got to find something that really motivates you,” he said. “The reason I spent so much time on the Middle East is that I’m deeply motivated by it. But you’ve got to find something that gets you up in the morning with the same sense of purpose and excitement as happened when you were prime minister or president.”

DCG

What’s that on the dam wall?

dam1

This is the Cingino Dam in Piedmont, Italy.

Can you see the little dots on the wall ?

You’ll never guess what they are….

dam2You’ve got to be kidding !

dam3dam4dam5

They are Alpine ibex and they like to eat the moss and lichen growing on the wall, as well as lick the salt off the stone.

Isn’t it incredible they can stand at that angle?

H/t my friend Sol !

~Eowyn

Confiscation of bank deposits: Can it happen in America?

Cyprus rally

Three days ago, on Saturday, March 16, 2013, the people of Cyprus were told by the grand poobahs of the eurozone that as much as 10% of the deposits in their personal bank accounts would be “levied” confiscated, in exchange for a $13 billion (€10 billion) bail-out of their heavily indebted country to avoid default and a banking collapse.

Cyprus is a small island country in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea to the east of Greece, and a member of the European Union (EU). The eurozone is an economic and monetary union of 17 EU member states that have adopted the euro (€) as their common currency and sole legal tender.

The 10% levy figure is now undergoing furious negotiations. Most likely, Cyprus and the eurozone will settle on a “progressive” levy, wherein small savers will be spared or “levied” a small percentage, while those with 6-figures or more bank deposits will have a larger percentage of their money confiscated. Whatever the confiscation formula, what the eurozone wants is that Cyprus raise €5.8 billion to secure its bailout.

Although the Cypriot parliament must vote to approve the eurozone’s levy — and the latest news is that Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades thinks parliament will reject the bill — that the levy was proposed at all is stunning. As the Financial Times‘ Wolfgang Münchau puts it: “the eurozone has effectively defaulted on a deposit insurance guarantee for bank deposits” given in 2008 after the collapse of Lehman Brothers to assure depositers “that all savings are safe.”

Analysts including Münchau, Phoenix Capital Research, and ZeroHedge’s Tyler Durden all expect that there will be bank runs, not just in Cyprus but elsewhere in Europe, especially in financially-troubled heavily-indebted countries like Italy and Spain. (Interestingly, Greece isn’t mentioned, perhaps because Greeks have no more money to even do a bank run.)

As Durden puts it: “the bottom line is that the Rubicon has been crossed, and deposits have now been forcefully confiscated in what Europe promises to be a standalone case. What is certain, is that nobody will wait to find out how long it takes before Europe’s class of increasingly more desperate and ill-meaning despots is found to have lied once more (as it has about everything else since the start of the European crisis).”

To prevent bank runs, Cypriot banks will remain closed till this Thursday. Customers can still use their banks’ ATMs but, as in the United States, they are limited as to how much money they can withdraw from the machines — reportedly, up to €500 a day. And as of yesterday, there have been no reports of bank runs in Spain or Italy.

Cyprus ATMPeople lining up to withdraw money from ATMS at the Bank of Cyprus, March 19, 2013. (Photo from Reuters)

How might the Great Cyprus Bank Robbery of 2013 affect Americans?

1. If you have a bank account in Cyprus, your deposits may be “levied” at a percentage depending on how much you have in your account(s).

2. If the levy is approved by Cyprus’ parliament, Americans will contribute toward the $13 billion bailout of Cyprus, thereby adding to our already gargatuan $16+ trillion national debt. Why? Because International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde already said she would ask the IMF board in Washington to contribute to the bailout.

With 16.2% of the IMF shares, the United States is the largest shareholder or contributor among the 187 nations who belong to the fund—even though its managing director has always been a European. In addition to America’s 16.2% “share” (i.e., “contribution”) in the IMF, in 2009, Obama proposed and Congress approved a $100 billion U.S. loan to the IMF.

Even before Cyprus, the IMF has joined with the European Union to sculpt bailout packages for Greece, Ireland, and Portugal.  Coupled with loans from the EU, the price tags on the bailout packages came to $157 billion for Greece, $122 billion for Ireland, and most recently, $116 billion for Portugal. Alarmed about this, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R.-Wash.), the premier congressional foe of spending U.S. tax dollars on IMF bailouts, points out that “The Portugal bailout is half that country’s GDP—$116 billion out of $233 billion. The IMF has refused to provide a reliable number but, given America’s contribution to the bailout, we estimate that our support of the package is equal to writing a check worth $600 for every man, woman, and child in Portugal.” She added that this ratio “was nearly identical for Greece and Ireland bailouts. (See John Gizzi, “Why Is the U.S. Bankrolling IMF’s Bailouts in Europe?,” Human Events, May 2, 2011.)

3. If bank runs occur in Europe, leading to a systemic collapse of European banks and the euro currency, that in turn will trigger a worldwide financial-economic crisis of an unimaginable scale.

4. Can it happen here? Will we wake up one day to be told that our bank deposits are also confiscated? Tyler Durden of ZeroHedge writes that the key thing about what happened to Cyprus is that “the Rubicon has been crossed,” that is, the until-now taboo subject of the forceful “levy” of citizens’ private bank accounts has been broached. As Durden puts it: “the topic of ‘wealth taxation’ is now front and center, and it stars not only Europe, but the US as well. The question then becomes … is there any possibility of Cyprus ‘wealth tax’ recurring on the other side of the Atlantic.”

Durden points out that in the US, other financial assets, namely the stock market, account for a far greater proportion of household net worth than bank deposits. It is therefore quite possible that instead of confiscating our bank deposits, thereby voiding the FDIC guarantee, the government may instead choose to tax 30% of all of your stock holdings, and achieve the same “wealth transfer” result.

Will Congress do this?

Obviously, nobody can answer that question now. However, it was “absolutely certain” as recently as three days ago that the safety of Cypriots’ bank deposits was protected.

Then things changed rapidly.

What is the lesson we should take away from the Great Cyprus Bank Robbery?

Answer: There are no longer any rules, and any assets, any “wealth” saved, stored, and hidden is now fair game.

See also:

Update: Cyprus parliament rejected the levy.

~Eowyn

The cat who brings gifts to his person’s tomb

Toldo2Toldo, the faithful cat

Italian companion animals appear to be a spiritually-evolved breed. 😀

Last Sunday, I posted about Tommy the dog who attends daily Mass in Santa Maria Assunta Church, San Donaci, in memory of his beloved departed person, Maria Margherita Lochi.

Today, I bring you the story of Toldo, a cat in Montagnana, in northern Italy, who daily brings little presents to his late master’s grave.

montagnana-from_castello_san_zenoTown of Montagnana as viewed from Castello di San Zeno

As reported by Agence France-Presse on January 4, 2013, the story of a cat named Toldo who visits his master’s tomb and brings him little presents on an almost daily basis a year after the man’s death has moved the inhabitants of Montagnana, a mountain village in Italy.

Renzo Iozzelli’s widow Ada told AFP on Friday from Montagnana that Toldo “brings little twigs, leaves, toothpicks, plastic cups. A bit of everything really. Sometimes he comes with me and sometimes he goes on his own. The whole town knows about him now!”

Toldo, a grey-and-white three-year-old tomcat, followed Iozzelli’s funeral procession last year and has continued going to the cemetery ever since, a habit usually ascribed to dogs.

Ada said: “He loved my husband. It was something else! Now it’s just me, my daughter and my son-in-law and he’s very affectionate with us too.” But the journey to and from the cemetery each day had tired Toldo out in the cold winter weather. “He’s not going out so much these days. He’s caught a bit of bronchitis so he’s sleeping next to me.”

ToldoToldo

According to the Corriere Fiorentino, Iozzelli Renzo had died on September 22, 2011, aged 71. At his funeral, Toldo followed the coffin from the house to the cemetery.

The next morning, Ada went to the grave again: “We went to the cemetery with my daughter and found a sprig of acacia on the grave. I immediately thought that it was the cat, but my daughter was convinced that I was just in a very emotional state at that moment.”

That night, however, Renzo’s son returned to the cemetery and found Toldo standing guard at the grave, reported Dreuz.info.

Ada says that her late husband shared a particularly strong bond with Toldo, having adopted Toldo from a stray cat colony when he was just 3 months old. “My husband was very affectionate with him. Renzo loved animals. It’s almost as if Toldo would be grateful. He is a special cat, one can not help liking him. ”

But not everyone believes in the sanctity of the relationship between Toldo and his owner. Ada told La Nazione that people often try to shoo the cat away: “There are insensitive people who send him away with stones or other things, convinced that the presence of an animal in the cemetery is almost a desecration.”

Still, Toldo remains undaunted and continues to visit the grave everyday.

~Eowyn

Be careful what you say in an Italian courtroom!

Italian Supreme Court: saying a man  has ‘no balls’ is a crime

No mention of hand  gestures, but it’s no laughing matter in Italy. Now a civil court will determine  just how much the insult will cost.

New York Daily News: Size might not matter, but Italy’s Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that it is a  crime to insult a man by saying he has “no balls.”

The decision arose out of a rather contentious courtroom argument between  two cousins, a justice of the peace named only as Alberto G. who handed the  insult to Vittorio G., a lawyer, in the southern Italian city of Potenza,  Italy’s ANSA news service reports.

“Apart from the vulgarity of the term used, the expression definitely also  has an injurious quality,” read the ruling of Maurizio Fumo, according to the  agency.

“It refers not only to the target’s lack of virility but also to his  weakness of character, lack of determination, competence and coherence – virtues  that, rightly or wrongly, are still identified as pertaining to the male  gender,” the agency quoted.

All this, despite what the court called a “popularization” of the  expression.

Now, a civil court will decide on how much Vittorio must be paid by his  cousin.

I guess the Italians don’t tolerate bad language in court!

DCG