In Europe, when it gets serious, you have to lie… at least if you are an unelected bureaucrat like Jean-Claude Juncker. In Russia, however, when it gets serious, attention immediately turns to the children.
“On the one hand, this is all part of a package of measures to prepare the elites for some ‘big war’ even if it is rather conditional, on the other hand – this is another blow to the unity of President Putin with his own elite”
— Political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky
Which is why we read a report in Russian website Znak published Tuesday, according to which Russian state officials and government workers were told to bring back their children studying abroad immediately, even if means cutting their education short and not waiting until the end of the school year, and re-enroll them in Russian schools, with some concern.
The article adds that if the parents of these same officials also live abroad “for some reason”, and have not lost their Russian citizenship, should also be returned to the motherland. Znak cited five administration officials as the source of the report.
“People note the hypocrisy of having a centralized state and cultivating patriotism and anti-Western sentiment, while children of government workers study abroad. You can not serve two gods, one must choose.”
The “recommendation” applies to all: from the administration staff, to regional administratiors, to lawmakers of all levels. Employees of public corporations are also subject to the ordinance. One of the sources said that anyone who fails to act, will find such non-compliance to be a “complicating factor in the furtherance of their public sector career.” He added that he was aware of several such cases in recent months. Read the rest of this entry »
The European Union has shown itself to be a compulsory tax cartel.
Dan Sanchez writes: Taxation is bad enough: two consenting parties arrange a mutually-beneficial exchange, and an interloping third party demands a cut.
What compounded injustice then for a fourth party to enter the scene: a super-state/super-bandit who insists that the shakedown wasn’t big enough. No, the victim must hand over more to the lesser thief, even against the recipient’s will and in spite of his protest!
Thou Shalt Not… Not Steal
Ireland must join the rest of the Union in bleeding the private sector dry.
That is what happened today when the European Commission slapped Apple Inc. with a $14.5 billion bill for back taxes, ruling that Ireland had violated European Union rules by taxing the tech company at too low a rate.
But the Irish government doesn’t want the money! It had promised the low rates decades ago to entice Apple to set up and keep shop in Ireland, bringing the struggling country desperately needed jobs and economic growth. Irish officials are worried that if they renege on that deal, they will risk driving off the geese that lay the golden eggs: Apple, and other businesses as well.
But no, insists the European super-state: sustainably prudent parasitism is not an option. The Irish government must join the rest of the Union in recklessly bleeding its private sector hosts dry until the whole system collapses under its own dead weight. Read the rest of this entry »
Douglas Murray writes: How is your Merkelsommer going? For now, Britain seems to be missing the worst. True, a couple of men of Middle Eastern appearance tried to abduct a soldier near his base in Norfolk for what was unlikely to have been an interfaith dialogue session. But Britain’s geographical good fortune, relative success in limiting weapons and our justified scepticism of the undiscriminating ‘open borders’ brigade mean that we have so far been spared the delights of what Angela Merkel’s growing army of critics refer to as her summer of terror.
It is now a fortnight since Mohammed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ and ploughed a truck along the Nice seafront, killing 84 people. The following Monday Mohammed Riyad, who said he was from Afghanistan but almost certainly came from Pakistan, screamed ‘Allahu Akbar’ while hacking with an axe at his fellow passengers on a Bavarian train. The next day another Mohammed, this time Mohamed Boufarkouch, shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ and stabbed a Frenchwoman and her three daughters (aged eight, 12 and 14) near Montpelier. Mixing things up a little, that Friday’s shooter in Munich was a child of Iranians called Ali David Sonboly. Skip forward a couple of days and a ‘-Syrian asylum seeker’ with a machete was hacking a pregnant woman to death in Stuttgart. The next day another ‘Syrian asylum seeker’, Mohammad Daleel, carried out a suicide bombing outside a bar in Ansbach, Bavaria. And a little over 24 hours later two men shouting the name of Isis entered a church in Rouen during Mass, took the nuns and congregation hostage and slaughtered the priest with a knife.
Although the public know what is going on, the media seems loath to find any connection between these events. Indeed, the same papers that blame an exaggerated spike in ‘hate crime’ on everyone who voted for Brexit seem unwilling to put the blame for these real and violent attacks on the individuals carrying them out. ‘Syrian man denied asylum killed in German blast’ was the Reuters headline on the Ansbach story, neatly turning the suicide bomber into the victim and the German asylum system into the perpetrator. As Reuters went on: ‘A 27-year-old Syrian man who had been denied asylum in Germany a year ago died on Sunday when a bomb he was carrying exploded outside a music festival.’ How terrible for him to lose his bomb in such a way.
The more complex story of the Munich shooter allowed everyone to double-down on their favourite explanations for violence. Inadequate welfare provisions, unsuitable town-planning and bullying were all wheeled out to explain why Ali David Sonboly started shooting in a McDonalds. Others were a little too keen to claim him as an Isis warrior, when it seems he wasn’t. The BBC got around the problem by excising the ‘Ali’ and all reports of his religion. Instead, speculation about the shooting happening on the fifth anniversary of Anders Breivik’s terrorist assault in Norway meant that every-one could ignore the Muslim eyewitness who heard Sonboly shout ‘Allahu Akbar’ and headline on Breivik instead. Meaning that in Europe in 2016 a child of Iranian parents can be portrayed as a white supremacist, while no amount of Mohameds shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ can be said to have any connection to Islam.
Sections of the media and political class seem determined to stop the public coming to any conclusions. But most of us probably did that a long time ago, and these conclusions are being reinforced on a daily basis.
For the time being, the acceptable thing is to blame Isis. There is sense in that. The German train attacker had an Isis flag at his home, the Ansbach bomber left a video pledging allegiance to the group, and at least one of the Rouen church attackers had tried to travel to Syria to join them. The extent to which the group is involved varies, and they undoubtedly talk up their capabilities, but their ability to inspire as well as direct will be a problem as long as they exist. Read the rest of this entry »
The cartoon appeared on the front page after a Dutch journalist was detained in Turkey.
After a Dutch journalist was arrested in Turkey this weekend for allegedly insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the most-read newspaper in the Netherlands on Monday published a front-page editorial cartoon that shows Erdogan as an ape, apparently crushing Europe’s free speech.
The cartoon, published by the populist daily De Telegraaf, has an ape with Erdogan’s face squashing a woman who appears to be Ebru Umar, the Dutch writer with a Turkish background who was arrested in Turkey on Sunday. In the cartoon, the Turkish president is standing on a rock labeled “Apenrots” — a Dutch term meaning “monkey rocks” that is used to refer to the Dutch Foreign Ministry but can also refer to a place where one dominant individual holds power.
The cartoon is titled “the long arm of Erdogan.”
Umar, a columnist for the newspaper Metro, had been detained by Turkish authorities who were investigating tweets she had sent about Erdogan. Umar was released Sunday, but she says she has been ordered to remain in the country as the investigation proceeds.
The detention of Umar has added another layer to what many in the Netherlands think is a growing crackdown on free speech within Turkey — and outside its borders, too. Last week, the Turkish Consulate in Rotterdam came under fire after appearing to send an email that called for Turkish organizations in the Netherlands to report insults against Erdogan to it. The Turkish Embassy later said that the email had been poorly phrased and misunderstood, but it sparked controversy within the Netherlands, which is one of many European countries that still has “lèse-majesté” laws that prohibit insults against friendly heads of state. Read the rest of this entry »
The socialist utopias of Sanders’ dreams bear little resemblance to reality across the Atlantic.
In conventional political thought, Democrats are always trying to make America more European — Higher taxes! Free college! A smaller military! — while Republicans are a passel of cowboys who view Europe as a bunch of socialist libertines.
But, as with much of conventional political thought, this isn’t quite right. And if the Republicans really want to mess with Democrats’ minds, perhaps they should launch a new campaign to make America more like Europe.
A good place to start would be with the Scandinavian countries that Bernie Sandersoften uses as a model. Sanders’ problem is that the Scandinavia he has in mind is the Scandinavia of the 1970s. Scandinavians today have learned a few things since then, which Bernie seems to have missed.
As Swedish pundit Johan Norberg writes: “Sanders is right: America would benefit hugely from modeling her economic and social policies after her Scandinavian sisters. But Sanders should be careful what he wishes for. When he asks for ‘trade policies that work for the working families of our nation and not just the CEOs of large, multi-national corporations,’ Social Democrats in Sweden would take this to mean trade liberalization — which would have the benefit of exposing monopolist fat cats to competition — not the protectionism that Sanders favors. … Being more like modern Sweden actually means deregulation, free trade, a national school voucher system, partially privatized pensions, no property tax, no inheritance tax, and much lower corporate taxes. Sorry to burst your bubble, Bernie.”
Likewise, as Charles Lane writes in The Washington Post, Donald Trump’s programs would actually make America more like Denmark. “Actually, the package Trump offers — ‘save Social Security without cuts,’ a vaguely pro-single-payer position on health care, plus temporarily banning Muslims and walling off Mexico — bears an eerie resemblance to the Danish government’s current policy mix.” Read the rest of this entry »
“The government didn’t take over these pieces of property in order to protect them. They did so to acquire them.”
— Ahmet Guvener, pastor of Diyarbakir Protestant Church
The state-sanctioned seizure is just the latest in a number of worrying developments to come out of increasingly hardline Turkey, which is in advanced talks with the EU over visa-free travel for its 80 million citizens.
Included in the seizures are Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches, one of which is over 1,700 years old.
They claim it was made on the grounds that authorities intend to rebuild and restore the historical centre of the city, which has been partially destroyed by 10 months of urban conflict between government forces and militants from the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK).
Saudi Arabia Warns of Economic Fallout if Congress Passes 9/11 Bill
Mark Mazzetti reports: Saudi Arabia has told the Obama administration and members of Congress that it will sell off hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American assets held by the kingdom if Congress passes a bill that would allow the Saudi government to be held responsible in American courts for any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
“Suspicions have lingered, partly because of the conclusions of a 2002 congressional inquiry into the attacks that cited some evidence that Saudi officials living in the United States at the time had a hand in the plot. Those conclusions, contained in 28 pages of the report, still have not been released publicly.”
The Obama administration has lobbied Congress to block the bill’s passage, according to administration officials and congressional aides from both parties, and the Saudi threats have been the subject of intense discussions in recent weeks between lawmakers and officials from the State Department and the Pentagon. The officials have warned senators of diplomatic and economic fallout from the legislation.
“It’s stunning to think that our government would back the Saudis over its own citizens.”
— Mindy Kleinberg, whose husband died in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11
Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, delivered the kingdom’s message personally last month during a trip to Washington, telling lawmakers that Saudi Arabia would be forced to sell up to $750 billion in treasury securities and other assets in the United States before they could be in danger of being frozen by American courts.
Several outside economists are skeptical that the Saudis will follow through, saying that such a sell-off would be difficult to execute and would end up crippling the kingdom’s economy. But the threat is another sign of the escalating tensions between Saudi Arabia and the United States.
The administration, which argues that the legislation would put Americans at legal risk overseas, has been lobbying so intently against the bill that some lawmakers and families of Sept. 11 victims are infuriated. In their view, the Obama administration has consistently sided with the kingdom and has thwarted their efforts to learn what they believe to be the truth about the role some Saudi officials played in the terrorist plot.
“It’s stunning to think that our government would back the Saudis over its own citizens,” said Mindy Kleinberg, whose husband died in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 and who is part of a group of victims’ family members pushing for the legislation.
President Obama will arrive in Riyadh on Wednesday for meetings with King Salman and other Saudi officials. It is unclear whether the dispute over the Sept. 11 legislation will be on the agenda for the talks.
A spokesman for the Saudi Embassy did not respond to a message seeking comment.Saudi officials have long denied that the kingdom had any role in the Sept. 11 plot, and the 9/11 Commission found “no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization.” But critics have noted that the commission’s narrow wording left open the possibility that less senior officials or parts of the Saudi government could have played a role. Suspicions have lingered, partly because of the conclusions of a 2002 congressional inquiry into the attacks that cited some evidence that Saudi officials living in the United States at the time had a hand in the plot. Those conclusions, contained in 28 pages of the report, still have not been released publicly. Read the rest of this entry »
Merkel Bows to Primitive Censorship: Comedian Faces Prosecution for Poem About Turkish president Recep Tayyip ErdoğanPosted: April 15, 2016
Under section 103 of the criminal code, insults against organs or representatives of foreign states are punishable with up to three years in prison, or three months to five years if a court judges the insult to be slanderous.
Philip Oltermann reports: Angela Merkel, has been criticised by members of her cabinet after acceding to a request from Ankara to prosecute a comedian who read out an offensive poem about the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The German chancellor insisted her government’s decision did not amount to a verdict on whether Jan Böhmermann was guilty or not, but should be understood as a reaffirmation of the judiciary’s independence.
“I consider this to be the wrong decision. Prosecuting satire on the basis of a lèse-majesté law is not appropriate to the modern age.”
— Thomas Oppermann, leader of the Social Democratic party’s parliamentary faction
“In a constitutional democracy, weighing up personal rights against freedom of the press and freedom of expression is not a matter for governments, but for public prosecutors and courts,” Merkel said in a press conference on Friday.
The chancellor expressed “grave concerns” about the prosecution of individual journalists in Turkey, as well as growing limitations to the right to protest, but emphasised Germany’s close diplomatic ties with the country.
Merkel was left with the final decision on whether Germany’s state prosecutor should start proceedings against Böhmermann after Erdoğan requested the comedian be prosecuted.
“Throughout his reading, the comedian is advised by another comedian impersonating a media lawyer, who tells him this poem is precisely the sort of thing that does not qualify as satire and is therefore illegal.”
Under an obscure section of Germany’s criminal code, prosecution for insults against organs or representatives of foreign states requires both a notification from the offended party and an authorisation from the government.
Merkel and other ministers confirmed reports that there had been disagreements on how to handle the Böhmermann affair between ministers within her coalition government.
The foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said Social Democrat ministers, including himself and the justice minister Heiko Maas, had been overruled by Merkel in allowing the prosecution to proceed. “It is our view that the prosecution should not have been authorised,” Steinmeier said. “Freedom of the press, freedom of expression and artistic freedom are the highest goods requiring protection in our constitution.”
“I consider this to be the wrong decision,” said Thomas Oppermann, leader of the Social Democratic party’s parliamentary faction. “Prosecuting satire on the basis of a lèse-majesté law is not appropriate to the modern age.”
The little-used paragraph of the German legal code that had allowed the Turkish president to request the prosecution is likely to be scrapped in the aftermath of the affair. Merkel said on Friday that she considered the law unnecessary, and that legal steps would be taken towards deleting it from the penal code within the next two years. Read the rest of this entry »
Hackers have stolen sensitive information from American energy companies — and have planted malware in the energy grid with the intent to turn off the lights in the future.
Jose Pagliery reports: They even managed to infect at least three energy companies with Cryptolocker ransomware, a particularly nasty computer virus that locks digital files and demands a ransom payment.
Newly released documents from the Department of Homeland Security are finally shedding some light on what exactlyhackers are doing when they sneak into the American electrical grid.
Some of the attacks described in the report are potentially serious.
Aggressive foreign government hackers broke into American companies 17 times between October 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014, according to DHS. In two cases they snuck into U.S. petroleum organizations, and hackers are “suspected of exfiltrating data” from one of them.
It’s rare, but highly sophisticated foreign government hackers have gotten inside the energy grid, DHS said. They hack “primarily to conduct cyber espionage … to conduct a damaging or disruptive attack in the event of hostilities with the United States,” DHS stated in a recent internal “intelligence assessment.”
That sounds alarming, but DHS is throwing cold water on any present worries. The agency concluded that damaging cyberattacks against the American energy sector is “possible but not likely.”
That calm demeanor doesn’t sit well with some cybersecurity experts. Ryan Duff is a researcher and former member of U.S. Cyber Command, the American military’s hacking unit. He warned that once a hacker gets into a computer — even if physical damage hasn’t been caused yet — the potential is there.
“While I agree with the DHS assessment overall, it’s still pretty frightening,” he said. “The fact is that the ability to cause destruction exists. Their assessment that attack is unlikely is based on political realities instead of technical realities. Attack is way more than technically possible.”
DHS prefers to label these cyber incidents as “espionage or some other activity,” rather than “cyberattacks.” To date, there have been “no damaging or destructive attacks against the U.S. energy sector,” DHS said.
“The majority of malicious activity occurring against the U.S. energy sector is low-level cybercrime that is … not meant to be destructive,” DHS analysts wrote.
“Most of the attacks that we’ve witnessed against this sector are in fact criminal in nature,” he told CNNMoney. “In some cases we even see criminals not realizing the importance of some of the machines [they gained access to.]”
Update: ‘Technical Issue’ Blamed for Omission of Hollande’s ‘Islamist Terrorism’ Reference in Censored White House VideoPosted: April 2, 2016
The White House told several news outlets on Friday the audio gap was the result of a “technical issue” not an attempt to scrub or censor Hollande’s comments and that an updated video with the complete audio was posted on WhiteHouse.gov soon after the problem was recognized.
French President Francois Hollande’s comments this week in Washington about Islamic terrorism — a term President Obama won’t use — were omitted from an official White House video.
“For seven years, President Obama, and Hillary Clinton and this administration have been sound bound up by political correctness that they have refused to acknowledge what is it is we are fighting, refused to even name it.”
Holland made the comments at an international summit in Washington on nuclear security that also focused largely on global terrorism.
“We are also making sure that between Europe and the United States there can be a very high level coordination. But we’re also well aware that the roots of terrorism, Islamist terrorism, is in Syria and in Iraq. We therefore have to act both in Syria and in Iraq, and this is what we’re doing within the framework of the coalition. …” Hollande said following a meeting at the summit between his and Obama’s top officials.
“After every one of these attacks, the president does a national TV conference where he refuses to say the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’ Instead he lectures Americans on Islamophobia. Well, enough is enough.”
— Texas Sen. Ted Cruz
However, an audio gap occurs in the original White House video where the French-to-English translator would have said: “Islamist terrorism, is in Syria and in Iraq. We therefore have to act both in Syria and in Iraq, and this is what we’re doing within the framework of the coalition.”
The gap was reported first by the Media Research Center, a conservative-leaning government watchdog group.
Republicans and others have been highly critical of Obama, and Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, for not saying the words “Islamic terrorism” when talking about the Islamic State terror group, which has claimed responsibility for the recent, deadly bombing attacks in Paris and Brussels. Read the rest of this entry »
French President Francois Hollande Gagged From Saying the Forbidden: Obama White House Censors Phrase ‘Islamist Terrorism’Posted: April 1, 2016
Sean Davis reports: President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande met in Washington on Thursday to discuss ways for the two countries to work together to defeat terrorism. But the White House apparently had zero appetite for Hollande’s mention of Islamist terrorism, since it censored the phrase from the official White House video of the meeting posted on the White House website.
[Watch and listen to the video below, which is available on YouTube through the White House’s official account, and you can hear the audio cut out right before Hollande says “Islamist terrorism”]
Media Research Center, a non-profit media watchdog, was the first to report the White House censorship.
[Hollande’s use of the phrase “Islamist terrorism” is also censored in the White House’s official MP3 recording of the event]
While the official transcript available on the White House web page includes Hollande’s use of the phrase “Islamist terrorism,” the White House video of the remarks muted the audio during that portion of Hollande’s remarks. The audio of the French-to-English interpreter stops right before Hollande characterizes “Islamist terrorism” as the root of terrorism in Syria and Iraq…(read more)
Here is the transcript of what Hollande said, with strikethrough notation to show what the White House censored in its video of the exchange between the two presidents:
Europe has been hit more, given that it is also the target of the terrorists and ISIS. We’ve seen it in Paris last year, as well as in Brussels. And together with President Obama, we worked on coordinating further our commitments, our organizations, our services when it comes to fighting against these terrorists. Read the rest of this entry »
‘We will invade London, Brussels and Berlin, like we did in Paris before…at the earliest time.’
Bridget Johnson writes: A new video posted online by ISIS supporters shows the Eiffel Tower exploding and crashing to the ground in stylized, video game animation.
The video begins with a river of blood pooling and dripping off a wooden table filled with stacks of American money, guns, knives and bullets.
“We will come to you and terrify you everywhere. We will come after you from where you don’t expect…and fill your streets with blood.”
It’s ripped from a video game, as betrayed by the name of a video game designer with a U.S. company carved in the wood of the animated table.
The video is titled “A message to the Western Kafir [Disbelievers] from the Supporters of the Caliphate.” It’s narrated in English and subtitled in Arabic, and was posted on YouTube and other file-sharing sites.
It included Defense Department footage related to strikes on the Islamic State and news footage of ISIS attacks. Read the rest of this entry »
NARRATIVE, INTERRUPTED: U.S. Becoming Safer Compared to Europe in Both Fatalities and Frequency of Mass Public ShootingsPosted: January 8, 2016
US Now Ranks 11th in Fatalities and 12th in Frequency.
“But we are the only advanced country on Earth that sees this kind of mass violence erupt with this kind of frequency. It doesn’t happen in other advanced countries. It’s not even close. And as I’ve said before, somehow we’ve become numb to it and we start thinking that this is normal.”
– President Obama, announcing his new executive orders on guns, January 7, 2016
This claim is simply not true. Between January 2009 and December 2015, there are 11 European countries with a higher frequency of these mass public shootings than the US, and 10 European countries with a higher rate of deaths from these attacks.
Indeed, over that same period of time, the European Union (EU) suffered 303 deaths from mass public shootings, while the US had 199. In terms of injuries from these attacks the gap was even much greater, with EU countries facing 680 versus just 197 for the US. However, given the EU’s larger population, the per million people fatality rate for the US and the EU as a whole are virtually identical (0.62 for the US and 0.60 for the EU). By contrast, the injury rate in the EU is much higher (0.61 for the US and 1.34 for the EU).
This past year was a particularly bad one for Europe, with 8 Mass Public Shootings versus only 4 for the United States. Indeed, these 8 Mass Public Shootings for Europe in 2015 count for one-third of all their attacks over the entire seven year period of time…(read more)
Even if one puts it in terms of frequency, the president’s statement is still false, with the US ranking 12th compared to European countries.
Click on tables to enlarge them.
Berlin (AFP) – The Islamic State group may have stolen “tens of thousands” of blank passports that it could use to smuggle its fighters into Europe as refugees, a German newspaper reported Sunday.
The Welt am Sonntag cited Western intelligence sources as saying that IS could have acquired the stolen travel documents in areas of Syria, Iraq and Libya it now controls.
The passports could be issued to would-be attackers to enter the European Union as asylum seekers, according to the report.
Moreover IS has already launched a money-spinning operation with the fake documents, selling them on the black market where they fetch up to 1,500 euros ($1,630) each, Welt said.
European authorities have repeatedly warned of the potential threat posed by refugees travelling with counterfeit documents.
The two unidentified Stade de France attackers in Paris have been tracked back to two fake Syrian passports used to enter Europe.
“The large influx of people who are travelling to Europe unchecked represents a security risk,” the head of EU border agency Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri, told Welt. Read the rest of this entry »
Belgian police have made 16 arrests in anti-terror raids but suspected Paris attacks gunman Salah Abdeslam remains at large, the authorities have said.
A total of 22 raids were carried out on Sunday across Brussels and Charleroi, Belgian prosecutor Eric van der Sypt told a news conference.
“Salah Abdeslam is not among the people arrested”
— Eric Van Der Sypt
Police fired two shots at a car during an operation in Molenbeek, injuring one suspect who was later arrested.
More than 130 people died and some 350 were injured in the attacks in Paris.
No weapons or explosives were found during the searches on Sunday, Mr van der Sypt said.
Brussels will remain on the highest level of terror alert, Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel said. Universities, schools and the city’s metro system will also remain shut.
BBC News reports: Brussels has been on lockdown all weekend amid a manhunt for Abdeslam, who is suspected of being among the assailants who killed 130 people in Paris on Friday.
Mr Michel told reporters that authorities feared “an attack similar to the one in Paris, with several individuals who could also possibly launch several attacks at the same time in multiple locations”.
Eric Van Der Sypt: “Salah Abdeslam is not among the people arrested”
— Daily Mirror (@DailyMirror) November 22, 2015
Meanwhile, the BBC understands that another of the suspected attackers – pictured in a new French police appeal issued on Sunday – arrived in Greece under the name of M al-Mahmod.
The BBC’s Ed Thomas has matched the image released by French police with a photo on the arrival papers of a man who reached the Greek island of Leros on 3 October.
French police have asked for more information about the man, whom they say was the third suicide bomber to strike the Stade de France on 13 November.
Earlier, Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon said the danger to Belgium was not tied to Abdeslam alone.
“The threat is broader than the one suspected terrorist,” he told Flemish broadcaster VRT. Read the rest of this entry »
The video emerged as CIA Director Brennan told the Center for Strategic and International Studies‘ annual Global Security Forum on Monday that he hoped the attacks were a wake-up call for security services and warned that ISIS will attempt more terror atrocities.
‘I would anticipate that this is not the only operation that ISIS has in the pipeline.’
This comes as thousands lined the streets of Paris for a minute’s silence to remember those killed in a wave of attacks which included suicide bombs at the Stade de France, a massacre at the Bataclan theatre and mass shootings at bars and restaurants across the city.
In Paris, President Francois Hollande and his cabinet, all dressed in black, bowed their heads at the Sorbonne University, surrounded by scores of students.
And at Place de la Republique near the site of many of Friday’s attacks, hundreds more stood still to remember the 129 people who were killed in the bloodbath.
Meanwhile, in the chilling film, which appeared on a site used by ISIS to post its messages, the video begins with news footage of the aftermath of Friday’s Paris shootings.
A message to countries involved in what it called the ‘crusader campaign’ was delivered by a man dressed in fatigues and a turban, and identified in subtitles as Al Ghareeb the Algerian.
It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of the video, which purports to be the work of ISIS fighters in the Iraqi province of Salahuddine, north of Baghdad.
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 »
France’s foreign minister said the country would implement border controls across road, rail, sea and aviation entry points. Airline and rail links would continue to operate, with airports remaining open. France has open borders with many of its European neighbors, though the government’s announcement suggests some checks would be restored. Early Saturday, travel officials were still trying to figure out what the additional security measures would entail, but the steps could include ID checks at borders that previously weren’t required.
A French aviation official said that while airports would be open, enhanced security procedures would go into force.
Most international train and ferry services had already halted for the night.
Eurostar, the operator of high-speed international train service into Paris, said it was working with authorities to understand the implications to how border restrictions might impact service. Read the rest of this entry »
BRUSSELS – The EU said a controversial program to relocate 40,000 refugees within the bloc from overstretched front-line states would formally start on Friday when a group of Eritreans will travel to Sweden from Italy.
“The EU formally agreed the plan last month despite the opposition of some Eastern European states worried about a popular backlash to migrants.”
“First relocations within EU take place on Friday” following an agreement by interior ministers in September, the EU’s home affairs office said in a tweet. “Eritrean refugees will be relocated from Italy to Sweden.”
An EU source told AFP that a flight will leave Roma Ciampino airport in the morning and take the first refugees to Sweden.
“First relocations within EU take place on Friday…Eritrean refugees will be relocated from Italy to Sweden.”
EU Migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos is expected to give a press conference in Rome.
The number of refugees being moved on Friday was not revealed, but Sweden agreed on July 20 to take 821 refugees from Italy and 548 from Greece as part of the commission’s plan to relocate 40,000 refugees from the two front-line states over two years. Read the rest of this entry »
Estimates predict up to 35 million refugees could head for Europe due to hugely unstable situations across the world.
Speaking as the country begins work on its second fence to stop migrants heading across its border he predicted the current crisis will continue for years.
Mr Szijjártó told the Hungarian Times: “The name of the fence is ‘Temporary Security Border Fence’ but I think there is no question that in this case temporary means years.
“It’s a self delusion to call this situation a migration crisis; it is a massive migration of nations, with inexhaustible reserves.
“I don’t think that the analysis results, stating that 30-35 million people out there could possibly become migrants, would be an exaggeration.
“Libya, Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are all countries with a huge population and an extremely unstable situation.”
The Hungarian government also defended itself from criticism over its fences.
It comes as a ten-year-old migrant boy with a severe lung condition died in Hungary.
His mother and siblings successfully made the journey to Germany but his father stayed behind with the poorly youngster, who was buried on Friday.
The first barrier was put up at its border with Serbia but, after migrants changed their route, they have now begun erecting a 41 kilometre fence at Croatia. Read the rest of this entry »
Groups of youths among the more than 12,000 anti-reality protesters smashed storefronts and set at least one car on fire
(ATHENS, Greece) — Elena Becatoros and Derek Gatopoulos report: Rioters hurled petrol bombs at police who responded with tear gas as an anti-austerity demonstration outside parliament turned violent Wednesday, while Greek lawmakers began debating contentious measures needed to start negotiations on a new bailout and avoid financial collapse.
“I must tell you, that Monday morning at 9:30, it was the most difficult day of my life. It was a decision that will weigh on me for the rest of my life.”
Groups of youths among the more than 12,000 protesters smashed storefronts and set at least one vehicle alight. The clashes were the first significant protest violence since the left-wing Syriza government came to power in January promising to repeal bailout austerity. Police said at least 50 people were detained.
“I don’t know if we did the right thing. But I know we did something with the sense that we had no choice. Nothing was certain and nothing is.”
— Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos
The protest was timed to coincide with the start of debate on the bill, which includes consumer tax increases and pension reforms that will condemn Greeks to years of more economic hardship.
The bill has fueled anger among the governing left-wing Syriza party and led to a revolt by many party members against Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who has insisted the deal forged early Monday after a marathon weekend eurozone summit was the best he could do to prevent Greece from crashing out of Europe’s joint currency.
“I must tell you, that Monday morning at 9:30, it was the most difficult day of my life. It was a decision that will weigh on me for the rest of my life,” said Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos.
“I don’t know if we did the right thing. But I know we did something with the sense that we had no choice. Nothing was certain and nothing is,” he said as the debate kicked off.
Civil servants protested with a 24-hour strike that disrupted public transport and shut down state-run services across the country. Read the rest of this entry »
After ‘No’ Vote Against Bailout, Yanis Varoufakis Steps Down
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis resigned from his post Monday after Greek citizens voted to reject further austerity measures the day prior, the Associated Press reported.
“I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride.”
— Yanis Varoufaki
Varoufakis said he was told shortly after the voters rejected Sunday’s referendum regarding demands by international creditors to impose further austerity measures in exchange for a bailout package for its bankrupt economy, that the other eurozone finance ministers and Greece’s other creditors would prefer he not attend the ministers’ meetings.
Varoufakis issued an announcement saying Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had judged that Varoufakis’ resignation “might help achieve a deal” and that he was leaving the finance ministry for this reason Monday.
Varoufakis is known for his brash style and fondness for frequent media appearances at the start of his tenure when the new government was formed in January. He had visibly annoyed many of the eurozone’s finance ministers during Greece’s debt negotiations.
“Soon after the announcement of the referendum results, I was made aware of a certain preference by some Eurogroup participants… for my ‘absence’ from its meetings; an idea that the prime minister judged to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement. For this reason I am leaving the Ministry of Finance today,” Varoufakis wrote in a blog post, according to The Guardian.
“Like all struggles for democratic rights, so too this historic rejection of the Eurogroup’s 25th June ultimatum comes with a large price tag attached,” the post read, according to the Athenian newspaper Kathmerini.
“It is, therefore, essential that the great capital bestowed upon our government by the splendid NO vote be invested immediately into a YES to a proper resolution – to an agreement that involves debt restructuring, less austerity, redistribution in favour of the needy, and real reforms,” Varoufakis wrote. Read the rest of this entry »
ATHENS – Kerin Hope reports: IGreek banks are preparing contingency plans for a possible “bail-in” of depositors amid fears the country is heading for financial collapse, bankers and businesspeople with knowledge of the measures said on Friday.
The plans, which call for a “haircut” of at least 30 per cent on deposits above €8,000, sketch out an increasingly likely scenario for at least one bank, the sources said.
A Greek bail-in could resemble the rescue plan agreed by Cyprus in 2013, when customers’ funds were seized to shore up the banks, with a haircut imposed on uninsured deposits over €100,000.
It would be implemented as part of a recapitalisation of Greek banks that would be agreed with the country’s creditors — the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank.
“It [the haircut] would take place in the context of an overall restructuring of the bank sector once Greece is back in a bailout programme,” said one person following the issue. “This is not something that is going to happen immediately.”
Eurozone officials said no decision had been taken to wind up any Greek banks or initiate a bail-in of depositors, a process that would be started by the ECB declaring the banks insolvent or pulling emergency loans.
Greece’s banks have been closed since Monday, when capital controls were imposed to prevent a bank run following the leftwing Syriza-led government’s call for a referendum on a bailout plan it had earlier rejected. Greece’s highest court rejected an appeal by two citizens on Friday who had asked for the referendum to be declared unconstitutional.
Depositors can withdraw only €60 a day from bank ATM cash machines, while requests to transfer funds abroad have to be approved by a special finance ministry committee in co-operation with the Greek central bank. Read the rest of this entry »
French say accord must include transparency on Tehran’s future nuclear activities
LAUSANNE, Switzerland— Laurence Norman reports: Several European foreign ministers arrived in Switzerland for nuclear talks with Iran on Saturday, with Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier saying the negotiations were now entering the endgame.
Officials said it remained unclear, however, if Iran and the six-power group with which it negotiates would be able to meet a March 31 deadline to reach a political understanding on the main parameters of a nuclear deal.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had already held two days of talks in this Swiss lakeside city with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and other top officials. A senior U.S. official described those talks on Friday as tough and very serious.
“Sanctions, pressure and an agreement do not go together.”
—Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Saturday, after meeting with his French and German counterparts.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Mr. Steinmeier and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also arrived here on Saturday, as the two sides made a final 72 hour push to advance the talks.
Failure to reach a political deal on time would pile pressure on the Obama administration in Washington, where lawmakers from both parties have threatened to advance legislation increasing sanctions on Iran, when Congress returns from recess. Such a situation could trigger a major crisis in the diplomatic efforts.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on Friday that any political deal may simply be a political statement with a narrative about the main points. Mr. Hammond suggested meeting the March 31 deadline could be challenging and said the current congressional break gave the negotiators some extra leeway to seal a political deal.
A final, detailed nuclear agreement is due to be sealed by June 30.
“The discussions have been long, difficult. We advance on some points and on other points not enough.”
—French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Saturday
Speaking to reporters on Saturday outside the luxury hotel where the talks are taking place, Mr. Fabius said: “I come here with the wish to advance towards a robust accord.”
“The discussions have been long, difficult. We advance on some points and on other points not enough,” he added.
Mr. Fabius said that what is very important is the transparency Iran agrees to for overseeing its nuclear activities and the “controls, to be sure that the commitments made are respected.”
Germany’s Mr. Steinmeier struck a brighter tone as he headed into an afternoon of meetings with Mr. Kerry, Mr. Fabius and Iran’s Mr. Zarif. He said that after 12 years of nuclear talks with Iran, negotiations have entered the endgame. However, he said the final steps to be taken “are the most difficult but also the decisive ones.”
“I can only hope that given what we have achieved in the last 12 months that we don’t cease to try and reach a final agreement. The last 12 months have shown that there is serious willingness on all sides to negotiate,” he said.
Mr. Fabius has adopted a strong line in the Iran talks in recent weeks, with France appearing at odds with the U.S., at times, over what a final nuclear agreement must contain. Read the rest of this entry »
Peace Prize committee demotes chairman Thorbjoern Jagland
The Oslo, Norway-based committee gave no reason for downgrading the former Norwegian prime minister and respected diplomat from his perch.
At the same time, as German media conglomerate Deutsche Welle observes, Jagland was widely condemned in 2009 when his committee bestowed the prestigious award on then-newly elected President Barack Obama.
“Jagland’s ejection from the chairmanship marks the first time that a sitting Nobel Peace Prize committee boss has been demoted in the history of the prize — since 1901”
Jagland, 64, was serving his first year as Peace Prize chairman when his committee conferred the international award upon Obama for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”
The committee announced that Obama would receive the award in October 2009, just over eight months after he became president.
“The war in Iraq officially ended more than two years later, in December 2011. Since that time, the political situation has deteriorated markedly. A new entity called ISIS currently controls a portion of Iraq and Syria which is, in total, twice the size of Pennsylvania.”
In response to a barrage of criticism, Jagland proclaimed that the Nobel committee’s goal was to hail Obama’s oratory about removing nuclear weapons from the world. Jagland also said he hoped to symbolize “the spirit of the times, the needs of the era,” according to Deutsche Welle.
When Obama received his Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, the United States was engaged in wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
The war in Iraq officially ended more than two years later, in December 2011. Since that time, the political situation has deteriorated markedly. A new entity called ISIS currently controls a portion of Iraq and Syria which is, in total, twice the size of Pennsylvania.
The American-led coalition in Afghanistan officially ended combat in December 2014. However, U.S. forces continue to skirmish constantly with militant Islamic radicals. Read the rest of this entry »
Charlie Hebdo resumes regular publication after attack
Denmark Earmarked $9.2 Million Over the Next Three Years for Programs to De-Radicalize Islamic Extremists
The European Union’s anti-terror chief called Tuesday for countries to rehabilitate rather than punish returning jihadis with no blood on their hands, saying that some prisons have become “incubators of radicalization.”
“If we can avoid prison, let’s avoid prison.”
EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove said in an interview with The Associated Press that “if we can avoid prison, let’s avoid prison.”
And even if true criminals among the returnees need to be punished with jail time, “I don’t advise to bring them all to court because it would be a mistake,” De Kerchove said.
Since the Jan. 7-9 Paris attacks that killed 20 people, including the three gunmen, dozens of people have been charged in France with defending terrorism. Several were almost immediately convicted under special measures for immediate sentencing. Inciting terrorism can bring a five-year prison term — or up to seven years for inciting terrorism online.
“We know how much jails are major incubators of radicalization. Much better, provided they accept to do that, they undertake major rehabilitation.”
France recently expanded prison terms for terrorism-related offenses, but the country was still caught off-guard when a member of a jihadi network worked in tandem with his brother and a former jailhouse acquaintance during three days of attacks in the Paris region.
“Many countries rely on repression but punitive methods are a recipe to create resentment toward the society.”
— Gilles de Kerchove
“These people got radicalized in prison,” De Kerchove said.
And for those who are convicted, he suggests jails be designed “in a way that they are not in contact with petty criminals” and instead can meet with moderate imams. Belgium is already working on such plans.
A major challenge facing the authorities is to collect evidence against foreign fighters traveling to conflict-torn Syria that would stand up in European courts. Read the rest of this entry »
At least three people were killed in an anti-terror raid in Belgium Thursday that one official confirmed was “jihadist related,” and a man suspected of selling guns used in last week’s terror attacks in France was being detained in another part of the country, according to multiple reports.
The deadly raid was in Verviers, in eastern Belgium, according to the Telegraph. It was not immediately clear if the dead were terror suspects or if any authorities had been killed. Federal prosecutors were quoted as saying there had been a police operation near the center of Verviers.
Explosions and gunfire were apparently heard near the station, according to Belgium’s public broadcaster RTBF. The Belga news agency said there were several casualties and police activity was continuing.
“An operation is under way,” a source in the mayor’s office told AFP without giving further details.
Another official told the agency it was “jihadist-related.” Read the rest of this entry »
The Charlie Hebdo massacre represents a direct attack on perhaps the most crucial Western ideal.
Jeffrey Goldberg writes: The European Parliament complex in Brussels, where I happen to be sitting at the moment, is meant to be a monument to post-World War II continental ideals of peaceable integration, tolerance, free speech, and openness. All of these notions seem to be under attack at once, and what is striking to me, as a relatively frequent visitor to Europe over the past year, is that not many people—until a few hours ago, at least—seem to believe that their union, and their basic freedoms, are under threat.
The massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo falls into the category of events that are shocking in their intensity and brutality, but not at all surprising. This attack, which killed at least 12 people, including journalists and two police officers, was utterly, completely predictable.
The brittle, peevish, and often-violent campaign to defend the honor of Allah and his prophet (both of whom, one might think, are capable of defending themselves with lightning bolts and cataclysmic floods and such, should they choose to be offended by cartoons) has been pursued in earnest since the 1989 Iranian-led crusade (I use the word advisedly) to have Salman Rushdie murdered for writing a book. In 2011, of course, the offices of Charlie Hebdo were firebombed—the equivalent of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, an attack that should have told us more about long-term jihadist intentions than it unfortunately did.
And Europe has had specific, sometimes fatal, warnings about the capabilities and desires of jihadists in recent months—the car attacks in France, conducted by men shouting “Allahu Akbar,” and, most obviously, the assault on the Jewish Museum in Brussels last May, in which four people were murdered, allegedly by Mehdi Nemmouche, a French citizen of Algerian origin who apparently spent time in the Middle East in the employ of ISIS. Read the rest of this entry »
The Combat of Mars and Minerva
Oil on canvas, 143 x 104 cm
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lille
After her parents divorced, Audrey went to London with her mother where she went to a private girls school. Later, when her mother moved back to the Netherlands, she attended private schools as well. While she vacationed with her mother in Arnhem, Netherlands, Hitler’s army took over the town. It was here that she fell on hard times during the Nazi occupation. Audrey suffered from depression and malnutrition.
After the liberation, she went to a ballet school in London on a scholarship and later began a modeling career. As a model, she was graceful and, it seemed, she had found her niche in life–until the film producers came calling. In 1948, after being spotted modeling by a producer, she was signed to a bit part in the European film Dutch in Seven Lessons(1948).
Later, she had a speaking role in the 1951 film, Young Wives’ Tale (1951) as Eve Lester. The part still wasn’t much, so she headed to America to try her luck there. Audrey gained immediate prominence in the US with her role in Roman Holiday (1953) in 1953. This film turned out to be a smashing success, and she won an Oscar as Best Actress. This gained her enormous popularity and more plum roles…(read more)
Despite the fact that President Obama “has been boasting about how diplomatically isolated” Putin is, Krauthammer said, the President of Russia was invited to the Normandy ceremony, the state dinner, and private dinners with both the President of France and the Prime Minister of Great Britain…
“That’s a hell of an isolation”