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Thu, 12 Dec 2019
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'Venice is dying': Residents must vote on whether or not to split the city in half

© Deposit Photos
Venice, Italy
Venetians headed to the polls on Sunday to decide whether they want the historic and 'floating' centre of the city to literally break away from its more populated boroughs on the mainland, a vote brought on by the negative consequences of mass tourism on Venice's residents.

Venice authorities have called on its citizens to decide whether they want to split their municipality in two - on one side the historic city and islands which are famously built on stilts on the lagoon, and on the other the inland and more residential 'frazioni' known as Mestre.

It's a decision that beggars belief at a time when referendums across Europe, approved or attempted, seem to be sowing more divisions than any actual prospect of civil neighbourliness.

But the case for a referendum in Venice isn't one based on cultural identity or fear of foreign government; instead its focal points are mass tourism, depopulation and urban decay.

On Wednesday September 25 Veneto Region's president Luca Zaia announced that the referendum was legitimate and could go ahead in two months, even though he did not have the support of Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro, who urged all residents not to take part in "yet another referendum on separation."


Father of London Bridge victim slams BoJo for using his son's death for political gain as 'beyond disgusting'

Merritt Bojo
© Reuters/handout/AFP/Pool/Simon Dawson
Jack Merritt, victim • PM Boris Johnson
The father of Jack Merritt, a victim in last Friday's London Bridge terrorist attack, has shared a tweet branding PM Boris Johnson's response to the vile murders, as "beyond disgusting."

David Merritt, whose 25 year-old son was one of two victims killed by convicted terrorist Usman Khan in a savage stabbing spree, appeared to condemn Johnson for using the death of Jack as justification for harsher sentencing. He shared a tweet on Monday morning from Ash Sarkar, a contributing editor at Novara Media, that also hit out at Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Just a day after the murders, Johnson declared that a Tory government led by him would toughen terror sentences and stop criminals entering the UK from the EU. He also claimed there would be a crackdown on early release for convicted terrorists, insisting that "the practice of automatic early release where you cut a sentence in half" isn't working.

Comment: See also:

Manufactured terror: MI5 lifted surveillance of London Bridge terrorist weeks before attack


Houthis down Saudi helicopter, release video

© CC BY-SA 4.0/Qrmoo3/Saudi Arabian National Guard AH-64 Apache
Saudi AH-64 Apache helicopter
The Yemen-based Houthi movement claimed to have shot down a Saudi helicopter near the border with Saudi Arabia on Friday, according to the group's spokesman. The Saudi-led coalition hasn't commented on the report yet.

An alleged video showing a Saudi helicopter being downed near the frontier with the Saudi Arabian region of Asir, which borders the northern part of Yemen, has been published on social media platforms.

The video shows an alleged Saudi Apache attack helicopter that was reportedly hit by a new surface-to-air missile launched by Yemeni air defences. Riyadh has yet to confirm or deny the Houthis' claims.

Comment: Sputnik, 1/12/2019: Houthis claim 2nd aircraft shot down over Yemen
Houthi Rebels said they have shot down an unmanned drone over northern Yemen just a day after claiming to bring down a Saudi Apache helicopter, Yahya Sarea, the group's military spokesman, said on Saturday.

"Yemeni air defences were able to shoot down a Chinese-made Wing Loong fighter reconnaissance aircraft in the Hiran district of Hajjah province this evening during hostilities", Sarea said in a post in Twitter.

Sarea added that the operation was caught on tape and that footage will be published shortly.

Cell Phone

World-first: Mobile phone detection cameras installed in Australia; hopes are to cut fatalities by a third

phone driving
© Unknown
New South Wales rolled out mobile phone detection cameras on Sunday, hoping to cut the number of fatalities on its roads by a third over two years, transport authorities said.

The world-first mobile phone detection cameras, according to Transport for NSW, which manages the state's transport services, operate day and night in all weather conditions to determine if a driver is handling a mobile phone.

"It's a system to change the culture," the NSW police assistant commissioner, Michael Corboy, told Australian media last week.

Making or receiving voice calls while driving in NSW is legal, but only when using a hands-free device. All other functions, such as video calling, using social media and photography, are illegal while behind the wheel.

Comment: Not to mention a new revenue stream for NSW.


Najaf, Iraq: Protesters again set Iranian consulate on fire, second time in a week

Iran consulate
© Reuters/Stringer
Iranian consulate ablaze in Najaf, Iraq
Dozens of demonstrators were injured in clashes with security officers close to the Iranian consulate in Najaf on 28 November.

Demonstrators have reportedly set the Iranian consulate building in the Iraqi city of Najaf on fire for the second time in a week as violent protests rock Iraq's southern regions.

Protesters, mostly young people, have reportedly accused the Iraqi elites of being corrupt and serving the interests of foreign powers, especially Iran, while the country is plagued by endemic poverty and mass unemployment.

Comment: See also: Iranian consulate in Iraq torched by protesters


'Burn my son the same way she was burned,' says mother of accused Hyderabad gang rapist

People shouting during Priyanka Reddy protest
© Reuters/Vinod Babu
People shout slogans during a protest against the alleged rape and murder of a 27-year-old woman in Hyderabad, India, December 2, 2019.
The families of the four men accused of the gang rape, murder, and desecration of Priyanka Reddy in a case which has shocked the whole of India, have called for their sons to be hanged and burned for what they did.

The four accused men currently in custody for the barbaric crime are Mohammad Pasha, Jollu Shiva, Jollu Naveen, and Chintakunta Chennakeshavulu. Each of their families have faced public humiliation and intense scrutiny in the wake of the devastating crime.

"If my son is wrong, burn him the same way she was burned. Isn't the victim also the daughter of a mother? I am suffering today, I can imagine what the girl's mother is going through," Chennakesavulu's mother Jayamma said. "You hang him, kill him or shoot him dead. Will you listen if I say I want my son back? You give whatever punishment. I have a daughter too," she added while fielding questions from journalists in Telangana.

"You do anything. God only knows," the mother of the accused Siva said, echoing comments made by the parents of the accused Mohammad.

Comment: Previously: Priyanka Reddy case: How police cracked 'Hyderabad Horror' rape-murder in 24 hours


Spanish police apprehend suspected pilot of 'narco-submarine'

narcotics drug smuggling submarine
© Salvador Sas/European Press Agency
A crane carries the ‘narco-submarine’ refloated near Vigo, north-eastern Spain.
Fifth person detained after vessel carrying cocaine was intercepted off Galicia coast

A crane carries the 'narco-submarine' refloated near Vigo, north-eastern Spain. Photograph: Salvador Sas/EPA

Spanish police have arrested a man alleged to be the pilot of the "narco-submarine" that was intercepted off the coast of Galicia last weekend carrying three tonnes of cocaine.

Two other men were arrested at the scene after allegedly trying to scuttle the semi-submersible vessel and swim to shore on 24 November.

Comment: Hmmm. Wonder if the confiscated submarine had anything to do with this:

150kg of 'diamond' cocaine washes up on French beaches, locals urged against 'treasure hunting'


Heart rending: Funeral ceremony after Senkata massacre in Bolivia

Bolivia funeral
From a journalist on the ground in Bolivia, who witnessed the massacre of protesters in El Alto this week:

"I have no words. In this area of Bolivia, there are only two journalists. A Mexican colleague who covers the protests for a French outlet and me. The area is surrounded by military and police. Today I saw a massacre."

Comment: See also:


Three Russian military policemen injured by roadside pipe bomb in northern Syria

russia military police syria
© Sputnik / Mikhail Alayeddin
Russian military police on patrol in northern Syria
A Russian armored vehicle was hit by an explosion while on a reconnaissance mission ahead of a joint patrol with Turkey in a Kurdish-populated area of northern Syria. Three military policemen were injured.

The incident happened on Monday in the Kobani district of Aleppo Province, along the Syrian-Turkish border, the Russian Defense Ministry said. The military policemen were on a reconnaissance trip in preparation for an upcoming patrol with Turkish forces when an improvised bomb detonated on the road.

Treasure Chest

Burglars ransack Berlin's Stasi museum one week after Dresden hit by biggest jewel heist since WWII

Stasi Museum
© Global Look Press / Gregor Fischer
An entrance to the Stasi Museum in Berlin, Germany.
A museum in Berlin on the notorious East German police fell victim to a brazen robbery just a week after thieves stole priceless artifacts from Dresden's Green Vault. This time, the criminals also got away with jewelry and medals.

It appears as though German museums are going through a rough patch, when even the infamy of the once-omnipresent and menacing East German secret police, or Stasi, cannot shield its displays from thieves' sticky fingers.

The museum, located in the former Stasi headquarters in Berlin's eastern district of Lichtenberg, was robbed during Saturday night or into the early hours of Sunday, police said in a statement, adding that a thief or thieves broke into the building through a window on the second floor, smashed several showcases and got away with valuable military decorations and jewelry.

They also had, apparently, plenty of time to escape; the theft was only discovered by a museum staff member on Sunday morning. The identities of the intruders or even their exact number, are still unknown.

Comment: See also: Biggest heist since WW2: Treasures worth 'up to a billion euros' stolen from Dresden museum