Pierrot and Harlequin, Juan-les-Pins, 1920
pen and black ink with gouache on cream paper
sheet (folded in half): 27.3 x 21.3 cm (10 3/4 x 8 3/8 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Mrs. Gilbert W. Chapman, 1981
Security services face difficulties due to Belgium’s local devolution and tensions between the country’s French-and Dutch-speaking halves; the country has long been open to fundamentalist preachers from the Gulf; and it has a thriving black market in automatic rifles of the kind used in Paris.
Jan Bartunek and Alastair MacDonald report: “A breeding ground for violence” the mayor of Molenbeek called her borough on Sunday, speaking of unemployment and overcrowding among Arab immigrant families, of youthful despair finding refuge in radical Islam.
“Belgium is a federal state and that’s always an advantage for terrorists. Having several layers of government hampers the flow of information between investigators.”
— Edwin Bakker, professor at the Centre for Terrorism and Counterterrorism at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands
But as the Brussels district on the wrong side of the city’s post-industrial canal becomes a focus for police pursuing those behind Friday’s mass attacks in Paris, Belgian authorities are asking what makes the narrow, terraced streets of Molenbeek different from a thousand similar neighborhoods across Europe.
“In such a case it’s very difficult to get feedback from the community. That means while the neighbors may have seen something going on, they’re not passing it to the police. Then it becomes very tough for intelligence agencies as only relying on them and not local police is not sufficient.”
Three themes emerge as Molenbeek is again in a spotlight of Islamist violence, home not just to militants among Belgium’s own half a million Muslims but, it seems, for French radicals seeking a convenient, discreet base to lie low, plan and arm before striking their homeland across the border:
Security services face difficulties due to Belgium’s local devolution and tensions between the country’s French- and Dutch-speaking halves; the country has long been open to fundamentalist preachers from the Gulf; and it has a thriving black market in automatic rifles of the kind used in Paris.
“With 500-1,000 euros you can get a military weapon in half an hour,” said Bilal Benyaich, senior fellow at Brussels think-tank the Itinera Institute, who has studied the spread of radical Islam in Belgium. “That makes Brussels more like a big U.S. city” in mostly gun-free Europe, he said.
Two of the attackers who killed over 130 people, 170 miles away in Paris on Friday night were Frenchmen resident in Belgium. Belgian police raided Molenbeek addresses and seven people have been arrested in Belgium over the Paris attacks.
“Almost every time, there is a link to Molenbeek,” said 39-year-old centrist prime minister Charles Michel, whose year-old coalition is battling radical recruiters who have tempted more than 350 Belgians to fight in Syria – relative to Belgium’s 11 million population, easily the biggest contingent from Europe. Read the rest of this entry »
Also see [GRAPHIC PHOTOS] Live Updates: Passenger Jet Downed in Ukraine, Buk Missile Attack Suspected, 23 American Passengers Suspected Dead
The missile shot skyward from war-ravaged eastern Ukraine. With deadly accuracy more than six miles up, it detonated just in front of the Malaysia Airlines jetliner, sending hundreds of jagged steel shards ripping through its aluminum skin at up to 5,600 mph and shearing the cockpit from the rest of the plane.
“The 15-month Dutch investigation blamed a Soviet-made surface-to-air Buk missile for downing the Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur flight, but it did not explicitly say who had fired it.”
The two pilots and purser in the cockpit died instantly, and the Boeing 777 disintegrated and fell to earth, killing the rest of the 298 men, women and children aboard Flight 17 on July 17, 2014, Dutch investigators said Tuesday in a long-awaited report.
“The Dutch Safety Board also found that the tragedy wouldn’t have happened if the airspace of eastern Ukraine had been totally closed to passenger planes as fighting raged below.”
Some of the victims may have been conscious for 60 to 90 seconds, the Dutch Safety Board said, but they probably were not fully aware of what was happening in the oxygen-starved, freezing chaos. The tornado-like airflow surging through the doomed jet as it came apart was powerful enough to tear off people’s clothes and leave naked corpses amid the fields of sunflowers.
“Our investigation showed that all parties regarded the conflict in eastern part of Ukraine from a military perspective. Nobody gave any thought of a possible threat to civil aviation.”
— Safety Board chairman Tjibbe Joustra
The 15-month Dutch investigation blamed a Soviet-made surface-to-air Buk missile for downing the Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur flight, but it did not explicitly say who had fired it. It identified an area of 320 square kilometers (120 square miles) where it said the launch must have taken place, and all of the land was in the hands of pro-Russian separatists fighting Ukrainian forces at the time of the disaster, according to daily maps of fighting released by the Ukrainian National Security Council.
The Dutch Safety Board also found that the tragedy wouldn’t have happened if the airspace of eastern Ukraine had been totally closed to passenger planes as fighting raged below.
“Our investigation showed that all parties regarded the conflict in eastern part of Ukraine from a military perspective. Nobody gave any thought of a possible threat to civil aviation,” Safety Board chairman Tjibbe Joustra said in releasing the report at a military base in the southern Netherlands.
He spoke in front of the partially reassembled red, white and blue Malaysian jetliner, much of the left side of its mangled fuselage front riddled with shrapnel holes.
Russian officials were prompt to dismiss the Dutch report, with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov calling it an obvious “attempt to make a biased conclusion, in essence to carry out a political order.”
Earlier Tuesday, the Buk’s manufacturer presented its own report trying to clear the separatists, and Russia itself, of any involvement.
The Russian state-controlled consortium Almaz-Antey said it conducted experiments, including one in which a Buk missile was detonated near the nose of an airplane similar to a 777, and it contended they contradicted the conclusion that a Buk missile of the kind used by the Russians destroyed Flight 17. Almaz-Antey had earlier suggested that it could have been a model of Buk that is no longer in service with the Russian military but is part of Ukraine’s arsenal.
It said the experiments also rebutted claims the missile was fired from Snizhne, a village that was under rebel control. An Associated Press reporter saw a Buk missile system in that vicinity on the same day.
Despite the moves by Moscow, Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands called on Russia to fully cooperate with a separate criminal investigation that Dutch prosecutors are conducting into the downing of the plane, in which 196 Dutch nationals died. Read the rest of this entry »
Liza Muhfeld writes: On October 12, MacDougall’s Fine Art Auctions will hold its sale of Soviet and Post-Soviet art, the first combined auction of Soviet and Post-Soviet art to hit the market. It will also be the house’s first auction in a series of mid-season sales dedicated to Russian art.
Roughly 177 lots will be offered—spanning paintings and porcelain by Russian artists from the late 1920s to the early 2000s—and the house expects to bring in a total of more than £3.5 million ($5.3 million). The majority of works come from several major Western collections of Russian and Soviet art, and estimates range from £1,500 ($2,300) to £2 million ($3.1 million), with most lots valued at £15,000 ($23,000).
The auction will offer works bridging nearly every major 20th century art movement in Russia and the Soviet Union. Work by artists from the Academy of Fine Arts of the USSR, including Arkady Plastov and Dmitri Nalbandian will be available, along with Soviet Nonconformist artists Vladimir Nemukhin, founder of the Lianozov group, and Vladimir and Georgii Stenberg. Work by members of the Society of Easel-Painters (OST) will also be represented, including by Aleksandr Deineka and Yuri Pimenov. Read the rest of this entry »
Audrey Hepburn photographed by Marcel Thomas in front of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, June 1956.
Members of Air Force and Oregon National Guard subdued a gunman loaded with weapons
“All three made a show of courage—full of bravery—that everyone recognizes.”
— French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve
The three Americans were seated on the train when they heard a gunshot and breaking glass, according to accounts from one of the men and a U.S. official briefed on the attack.
Crouching behind their seats, the Americans, who are childhood friends, decided they had to act. Airman First Class Spencer Stone, 23 years old, ran toward the gunman and tackled him.
“I told him to go, and he went,” Alek Skarlatos, 22, a member of the Oregon National Guard who had been deployed in Afghanistan, said Saturday.
“Spencer ran a good 10 meters to get to the guy. And we didn’t know that his gun wasn’t working or anything like that,” he added. Mr. Skarlatos then said he ran up behind and grabbed the assailant’s AK-47 rifle, and then their friend, student Anthony Sadler, 23, came to help.
Investigators on Saturday used fingerprint analysis to identify the gunman as Ayoub El-Khazzani, a French official said. Mr. El-Khazzani, a 26-year-old Moroccan national, had been flagged last year by intelligence services as belonging to the “radical Islamist movement,” officials said.
“While the investigation into the attack is in its early stages, it is clear that their heroic actions may have prevented a far worse tragedy.”
— statement from the White House
Officials said Spanish officials flagged him to French authorities in February 2014, when he was living in Spain. In 2015, he lived in Belgium, French officials added.
Mr. El-Khazzani attempted to reach Syria in May, taking a flight from Berlin to Istanbul, according to French and German security officials. But the officials said that it wasn’t immediately clear if the suspect made it to Syria.
Belgium, which the French official said had been notified of the suspect’s departure for Turkey, has opened its own criminal investigation into the attack.
French officials praised the Americans’ bravery, as well as that of an unnamed Frenchman who initially confronted the man. The office of French President François Hollande said he had spoken by phone with those who had subdued the attacker, and would invite them shortly to the Élysée Palace to thank them personally. The French president also said he had thanked U.S. President Barack Obama by phone.
It looks like any other old photograph you might find at an estate sale, but the gentleman highlighted in the 2nd image is someone who’s never been seen in photographic form: Vincent Van Gogh.
A pair of collectors found the image at an estate sale and brought it to a team of experts in France who verified that it really was the famous painter.
On a December morning, two somewhat hesitant people stood on the sidewalk of the Boulevard Haussmann, looking for a pop-up gallery we had opened for a period of six months next to the Musée Jacquemart André.
They had traveled over 800 kilometers, inquiring with different people who discouraged them and said their search seemed impossible. Perhaps the most difficult part was finding me, but thanks to their perseverance, and the kindness of a neighbor, Frédéric, the meeting happened.
The photograph they had brought to show me was small, dark and rather difficult to see. Six characters were around a table. The light was pale, perhaps it was a winter afternoon.
They told me, still hesitant, that they thought they recognized the people in it, artists in whom they had long been interested. They were collectors and liked the painters of the late 19th century, in particular the neo-impressionists. They also said it was possible that one of the figures around the table was someone whose true face had never been seen.
I tried to avoid making a judgment too quickly and considered how I should react. I didn’t want to start doing what Americans call “wishful thinking,” that trap into which collectors and researchers fall, where their reasoning is governed only by what they want to see.
I asked them if they could describe the circumstances in which they had discovered the object. To my delight, they were extremely precise, talking about their quest for old paper, old books and old trinkets. Sometimes what’s left in a house wouldn’t be worth the cost of moving to an auction house so everything is sold on site. That’s where the photograph had come from, two years before. And they remembered perfectly having found a similar photograph, manuscripts, a letter from a major poet of the time, and the archives and catalogue of a bookseller named Ronald Davis.
They said his name without any particular emphasis on it, and it was as though a beam of light had shone down on me. Ronald Davis’s name had been long forgotten, but I had recently encountered it by chance while researching a portrait of Charles Baudelaire.
Davis had been a figure in Paris in the 1920s, a model for many sellers of old books. He was known for being an editor and friend of Paul Valéry. One of his clients was the wealthy Myriam de Rothschild. Read the rest of this entry »
Meet Blade – a super-light sports car with a 3D printed chassis, designed as an alternative to traditional car manufacturing. Through 3D printing, entrepreneur Kevin Czinger has developed a radical new way to build cars with a much lighter footprint.
— MH17 Crash News (@Planesonearth) July 17, 2014
A MALAYSIAN Airlines passenger plane with 295 people has crashed in Ukraine
UPDATE: Ukrainian Officials Reports that it was BROUGHT DOWN BY RUSSIAN SURFACE TO AIR MISSILE… developing…
The Boeing 777 went down near the Russian border according to an aviation industry source.
It is not clear what caused the flight MH17 to crash or if there have been any fatalities.
UPDATE: KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — A Ukrainian official said a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday over a town in the east of the country, and Malaysian Airlines tweeted that it lost contact with one of its flights over Ukrainian airspace.
Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, said on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters (33,000 feet) when it was hit by a missile fired from a Buk launcher. A similar launcher was seen by Associated Press journalists near the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne earlier Thursday. The Buk missile system can fire missiles up to an altitude of 22,000 meters (72,000 feet).
Malaysia Airlines said on its Twitter feed that it “has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam. The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace. More details to follow.”
The region has seen severe fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia separatist rebels in recent days…(read more)
ABC News‘ Ann Compton reports: Three members of an elite counter-assault team were sent home for excessive drinking hours before President Obama was to arrive in Amsterdam, a spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service confirmed to ABC News.
Secret Service personnel on official trips are prohibited from drinking alcohol 10 hours prior to duty. The counter-assault team members were drinking Saturday evening and Sunday morning ahead of a Sunday briefing – a violation of the rule, the spokesman said.
A major investigation into whether art hanging in Dutch museums may have once been Nazi loot has yielded an unexpectedly large result: 139 suspect works, including ones by masters like Matisse, Klee and Kandinsky.
The bombshell announcement Tuesday by the museums raises the question of why it has taken them nearly 70 years to examine their collections in a systematic way after World War II — and suggests that even more looted art may emerge from other countries that haven’t yet done so.
“These objects are either thought or known to have been looted, confiscated or sold under duress,” said Siebe Weide, director of the Netherlands Museums Association. He said returning them is “both a moral obligation and one that we have taken upon ourselves.” Read the rest of this entry »
AMSTERDAM — The first full-size Vincent Van Gogh painting to be discovered in 85 years has been authenticated as a genuine long-lost work of the Dutch master after an odyssey that included lingering for six decades in the attic of a Norwegian industrialist who had been told it was a fake. Read the rest of this entry »