DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The United Arab Emirates announced on Wednesday that five of its diplomats were killed in a bombing in southern Afghanistan the day before, one of the worst attacks to target the young nation’s diplomatic corps.
The federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula said it would immediately fly the nation’s flag at half-staff in honor of the dead from the attack Tuesday in Kandahar.
Meanwhile, the Taliban denied planting the bomb in the Kandahar attack, which also wounded the UAE ambassador to Afghanistan.
Afghan security forces inspect the site of two large bombings in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. Two loud explosions have rocked the Afghan capital of Kabul, causing casualties. The target of the blasts was probably an area that includes government and lawmakers’ offices. Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said that first, a suicide bomber carried out an attack, followed by a second explosion, caused by car bomb parked near the site. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
The moment when Europe begins to suspect the progressive, welfare-state, open-borders, post-national cultural marxist technocratic fantasy was a fantasy. Was unreal. Was juvenile. Was irresponsible. Was a world-historical blunder. 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 »
WASHINGTON—In the wake of Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement that he would leave office following the United Kingdom’s vote to exit the European Union, tens of millions of Americans expressed their confusion to reporters Friday about a system of government in which a leader would resign after making a terrible decision…(read more)
“FATCA has been painstakingly implemented worldwide by President Obama’s Treasury Department. It now spans the globe with a network of reporting that is unparalleled in the world. America is requiring foreign banks and governments to hand over secret bank data about depositors.”
Of course, these numbers seem tiny compared to the influx of immigrants. Yet expatriations have historically been much lower, making the uptick worrisome. Moreover, the published list is incomplete, with many not counted. Surprisingly, no one seems to know exactly how big the real number is, even though the IRS and FBI both track Americans who renounce. There is no single explanation, though some renounce because of global tax reporting and FATCA. One law adding to the mix is the IRS power to revoke passports.
In 2015 we witness a rare geopolitcal power shift – and in the face of every kind of new external challenge the leaders of the EU and the USA have never looked weaker or more bemused.
Christopher Booker writes: As we enter this new year, what is the most significant feature of how the world is changing that went almost unnoticed in the year just ended? Two events last autumn might have given us a clue.
One was the very peculiar nature of that state visit in October, when the president of China was taken in a golden coach to stay at Buckingham Palace, down a Mall lined with hundreds of placard-waving pro‑China stooges, while the only people manhandled away by Chinese security guards were a few protesters against China’s treatment of Tibet and abuses of human rights.
Everywhere we see Western illusions colliding with reality, as when the reckless bid to suck Ukraine into the EU and Nato inevitably provoked a response from President Putin and a Russian sense of national interest that has left us looking pathetically impotent.
Queen Elizabeth II and President of The PeopleÕs Republic of China, Mr Xi Jinping, ride in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach along The Mall Photo: PA
Led by David Cameron, our politicians could not have fawned more humiliatingly on the leader of a country whose economy, before its recent wobbles, was predicted by the IMF to overtake that of the US as the largest in the world in 2016. While Britain once led the world in steel‑making and the civil use of nuclear power, the visit coincided with the crumbling of the remains of our steel industry before a flood of cheap Chinese steel, as our politicians pleaded for China’s help in building, to an obsolete design, the most costly nuclear power station in the world.
Andrew Tarantola reports: Data analysts Nomura Research Institute (NRI), led by researcher Yumi Wakao, figure that within the next 20 years, nearly half of all jobs in Japan could be accomplished by robots. Working with Professor Michael Osborne from Oxford University, who had previously investigated the same matter in both the US and UK, the NRI team examined more than 600 jobs and found that “up to 49 percent of jobs could be replaced by computer systems,” according to Wakao.
Adam Kredo reports: Democratic lawmakers are planning to attend prayer services at a Washington-area mosque that has been accused of acting as a front for Hamas and that served as the home of terrorist spiritual leader Anwar al-Awlaki, who reportedly mentored two of the 9/11 hijackers.
“That Democrats in the name of tolerance and diversity are mainstreaming extremists like this is inherently damaging to the Muslim community.”
On the heels of a deadly mass shooting by two Muslim individuals in San Bernardino, California, a group of Democratic lawmakers said they would attend Friday prayer services at the Dar al-Hijrah Mosque in Virginia, which has been linked to the financing of terrorists and where al-Awlaki served as the spiritual leader.
“These same folks just yesterday wanted to take away the Second Amendment rights of those on the terror watch list, and now they want to embrace a mosque that we know from FOIAs was on the terror watch list. Unbelievable.”
— Patrick Poole, a terrorism analyst and national security reporter
The Democrats set to attend include Reps. Don Beyer (D., Va.), Joseph Crowley (D., N.Y.), Betty McCollum (D., Minn.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D., D.C.), and several Virginia state lawmakers, according to the New York Times.
Beyer told the Times that the visit could help diffuse tensions with the Muslim community in the wake of the San Bernardino attack and the recent terrorist massacre in Paris.
“After Paris and after the House resolution a few weeks ago, we just thought it was really important to continue to reiterate to the many, many peace-loving Muslim Americans that they were still a welcome part of our community,” Bayer said.
“A founding member of Dar al-Hijrah, Ismail Elbarasse, also has been accused of working for Hamas’s top leadership. The FBI accused Elbarasse of wiring $735,000 to a Hamas operative in 2004, according to the Investigative Project.”
The accused attackers in San Bernardino reportedly pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State before carrying out the rampage.
Al-Awlaki, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011, began service as Dar al-Hijrah’s imam in January 2001. He is accused of acting as a key recruiter for al Qaeda and as serving as a spiritual adviser for those aligned with the terror group.
More than 100 police and soldiers stormed an apartment building in the suburb of Saint-Denis during a seven-hour siege that left two dead, including the suspected overseer of the Paris bloodshed, Abdelhamid Abaaoud.
PARIS —Anthony Faiola, Missy Ryan and Souad Mekhennet report: French police commandos killed the suspected ringleader of the Paris attacks in a massive predawn raid Wednesday, two senior European intelligence officials said, after investigators followed leads that the fugitive militant was holed up north of the French capital and could be plotting another wave of violence.
“Paris prosecutor François Molins, speaking to reporters hours after the siege, said a discarded cellphone helped identify a series of safe houses used by attackers to plan Friday’s coordinated assaults, which killed 129 people and wounded more than 350 across Paris.”
More than 100 police and soldiers stormed an apartment building in the suburb of Saint-Denis during a seven-hour siege that left two dead, including the suspected overseer of the Paris bloodshed, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian extremist who had once boasted he could slip easily between Europe and the Islamic State strongholds in Syria.
TARGET: This guy, Abdel-Hamid Abu Oud: alleged mastermind of Paris attacks
“Two senior European officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, confirmed that Abaaoud was killed in the raid.”
After the raid, forsenics experts combed through the aftermath — blown-out windows, floors collapsed by explosions — presumably seeking DNA and other evidence. The intelligence officials spoke on condition of anonymity before announcements from authorities.
“The death of Abaaoud closes one major dragnet in the international search for suspects from Friday’s carnage.”
Paris prosecutor François Molins, speaking to reporters hours after the siege, said a discarded cellphone helped identify a series of safe houses used by attackers to plan Friday’s coordinated assaults, which killed 129 people and wounded more than 350 across Paris.
“But it raised other worrisome questions, including the apparent ability of Abaaoud to evade intelligence agencies while traveling through Europe and whether other possible Islamic State cells could be seeking to strike again.”
Molins said police launched the raid because they believed that Abaaoud may have been “entrenched” on the third floor of the apartment building. He said he could not yet provide the identities of the two people who died at the scene, but he added that neither Abaaoud nor another wanted suspect, Salah Abdeslam, was among a total of eight people who were arrested at the apartment and other locations Wednesday. Three people were arrested in the raid on the apartment, he said, one of whom had a gunshot wound in the arm.
“The raid on an apartment building in the Saint-Denis suburb appeared to be linked in part to plans to stage a follow-up terrorist attack in the La Defense business district, about 10 miles away, two police officials and an investigator close to the investigation said.”
Two senior European officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, confirmed that Abaaoud was killed in the raid.
Socialism in Europe is increasingly defined by hatred
Tom Rogan writes: As enlightened arbiters of human interest and morality, socialists get angry when they don’t get their way. This unpleasant truth has been on very public display in Europe this week.
First, France. On Monday, infuriated by Air France’s necessary reforms to reduce costs and improve productivity, hundreds of airline employees attacked two of the company’s executives. Video of the incident shows the executives throwing themselves over a fence to escape.
While the French government has condemned the violence, it is not an isolated incident. Just a few weeks ago, Parisian taxi drivers waged a violent uprising against competition — smashing Uber cars and assaulting drivers. The cabbies couldn’t bear the possibility of passengers choosing lower fares, and they got their way. Uber is now banned in France.
Then there’s the United Kingdom. This week, Britain’s Conservative Party held its annual conference in Manchester. But while the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats held their 2015 conferences without incident, things were different for the Tories. It began Sunday, when a group of young conservatives became surrounded by a baying mob. That incident ended with the mob hitting the conservatives with flagpoles and an egg.
“While this week’s events in Britain and France are sorry tales, the leftist fury flows naturally from socialist ideology. After all, where capitalism empowers individuals to use their skills for common advantage, socialism encourages people to believe society is the state and that we’re all subjects to it.”
Then on Monday, a journalist from that well-known conservative outlet, The Huffington Post, was spat upon. Every day of the conference, attendees lining up outside have been subjected to swearing and intimidation. Yet as much as those incidents are shocking in and of themselves, they speak to a deeper truth. Socialism in Europe is increasingly defined by hatred.
“As a result, while capitalism provides for broadly shared human prosperity, socialism provides only for the subsidy of human suffering.”
In France, the alliance between labor unions and government has fostered a climate of special-interest privilege and lawlessness. (Sadly, this attitude is seeping into U.S. politics as well.) French labor unions are stretching the bounds of legality as far as possible. Read the rest of this entry »
Only one in 20 Russian air strikes in Syria have targeted ISIS fighters, Britain’s Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said Saturday. British intelligence services observed that five percent of the strikes had attacked the militant jihadist group, with most “killing civilians” and Free Syrian forces fighting against the regime of president Bashar al-Assad, Fallon told the Sun newspaper….(read more)
If a referendum were to be held tomorrow on whether to remain a member of the EU, 51 per cent of British people would vote ‘No’.
It follows a string of polls over recent years which have given comfortable leads to the pro-European camp. Significantly, it is the first measure of public opinion since the Government changed the wording of the referendum question, lending weight to claims that the new phrasing boosts the chances of victory for the ‘Out’ campaign.
The survey also found strong backing for David Cameron’s stance in standing up to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who wants the UK to take in a greater share of migrants.
Growing public support to cut all ties with Brussels came as it was revealed the Prime Minister told Merkel to her face: ‘I could walk away from the EU.’
At a private dinner in Downing Street, Merkel accused him of being ‘too forceful’ in demanding concessions from the rest of the EU. That was why ‘we all hate you and isolate you,’ she said.
‘A Good Day’s Work’: SAS sniper gunned down a knife-wielding Islamic State maniac just as he was trying to brutally behead a father and his young son.
Nick Gutteridge reports: The brave British marksman saved the terrified eight-year-old and his father after taking out the crazed jihadi with a head shot from 1,000 metres away.
The special forces crack shot then killed two other members of the hated terror group, who were also taking part in the sick planned execution.
“Through binoculars the soldiers could see that the crowd were terrified and many were in tears….They were both wearing blindfolds and looked terrified…A tall bearded man emerged and drew a long knife…He began addressing the crowd and slapping the father and his son around the head and kicking them on to the floor.”
ISIS militants had decreed that the little boy and his father must die after branding them “infidels” because they refused to denounce their faith.
They were just seconds from death when the hero sniper intervened to stop the barbaric killing in the Syrian desert. The pair were part of the minority Shia sect of Islam which ISIS considers to be heretical.
“Standing either side of the executioner were two other Isis fighters, both armed with AK47s…The ISIS thug who was about to decapitate the father was shot in the head and collapsed…Everyone just stared in confusion. The sniper then dispatched the two henchmen with single shots – three kills with three bullets…”
They were saved from a cruel and painful death at the hands of the fanatics after an Iraqi spy tipped off British special forces to the planned execution.
Special forces troops who arrived at the killing site, where ISIS was carrying out a series of rigged ‘trials’ of locals, discovered a gruesome scene with several headless bodies already lying bloodied on the desert floor.
The dramatic rescue operation took place last month near the Syrian border with Turkey, where an elite SAS unit had been conducting covert patrols.
Defence sources described how the SAS unit moved into a position just outside a village where ISIS members were holding the ‘trial’ in front of a crowd of locals who had been forced to attend at gunpoint.
The crack team considered calling in an air strike using a Reaper Drone, but the elite troops feared many of the innocent civilians who had been forced to watch the executions might also be killed.
Instead the SAS unit decided on a risky long-range kill using the team’s sniper.
London (AFP) – Britain has been forced to move some of its spies after Russia and China accessed the top-secret raft of documents taken by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, British media reported.
“We know Russia and China have access to Snowden’s material and will be going through it for years to come, searching for clues to identify potential targets.”
— Intelligence source, to the Sunday Times
The BBC and the Sunday Times cited senior government and intelligence officials as saying agents had been pulled, with the newspaper saying the move came after Russia was able to decrypt more than one million files.
“It is the case that Russians and Chinese have information. It has meant agents have had to be moved and that knowledge of how we operate has stopped us getting vital information,” a Downing Street source said, according to the newspaper.
“It is the case that Russians and Chinese have information. It has meant agents have had to be moved and that knowledge of how we operate has stopped us getting vital information.”
— Downing Street source
Downing Street told AFP on Sunday that they “don’t comment on intelligence matters” while the Foreign Office said: “We can neither confirm or deny these reports”.
The BBC said on its website, meanwhile, that a government source said the two countries “have information” that spurred intelligence agents being moved, but said there was “no evidence” any spies were harmed.
Snowden fled to Russia after leaking the documents to the press in 2013 to expose the extent of US online surveillance programmes and to protect “privacy and basic liberties”.
The Sunday Times said other government sources claimed China had also accessed the documents, which reveal US and British intelligence techniques, leading to fears that their spies could be identified. Read the rest of this entry »
Prime Minister David Cameron’s party projected to win 316 seats; 239 for Labour
LONDON— Jenny Gross reports: Exit polls showed a surprising swing of support to Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party in the U.K.’s tightly-contested election Thursday, suggesting that the Tories could continue to lead the government.
The exit polls forecast that the Conservatives would win 316 seats in the U.K. Parliament, suggesting a far stronger showing than months of pre-election surveys that showed them in a dead heat with the main opposition Labour Party. However, the exit polls indicated the Conservatives would be short of an effective majority of the 650-seat House of Commons.
Speaking after the attack, Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi said the country was “in a war with terror”.
A gunman who carried out an attack that killed 17 tourists at Tunis’s Bardo museum was known to the authorities, Tunisia’s prime minister has said.
Habib Essi told RTL Radio that security services had flagged up one of the attackers, Yassine Laabidi, but were not aware of “anything specific”, or of any links to known militant groups.
“Tunisia has managed to avoid the larger wars which have hit other Arab states, but this attack…reveals its vulnerability.”
— The BBC’s James Reynolds
Two Tunisians, a police officer among them, also died in Wednesday’s attack.
Both gunmen were also killed. A search is on for suspects linked to them.
The museum is a major attraction in Tunisia
Two or three accomplices are still at large, an interior ministry spokesman told AFP news agency. The spokesman said both attackers were “probably” Tunisian. The second gunman has been named as Hatem Khachnaoui.
The tourists killed in the attack include visitors from Japan, Italy, Colombia, Australia, France, Poland and Spain, officials said.
“These monstrous minorities do not frighten us. We will resist them until the deepest end without mercy. Democracy will win and it will survive.”
— Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi
Officials say more than 40 people, including tourists and Tunisians, were injured.
Security forces stormed the museum on Wednesday afternoon
Speaking after the attack, Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi said the country was “in a war with terror”.
“These monstrous minorities do not frighten us,” he said in remarks broadcast on national TV. “We will resist them until the deepest end without mercy. “Democracy will win and it will survive.”
At the time of the attack, deputies in the neighbouring parliamentary building were discussing anti-terrorism legislation.
Who were the victims?
According to Prime Minister Essid, 19 people were killed, although some of the countries involved have different totals:
Two Tunisians, including a police officer involved in the security operation
Five Japanese were killed, according to Mr Essid – although Japan says it has only confirmed the deaths of three citizens
One national each from Australia, France and Poland
One victim who was not immediately identified
Parliament was evacuated, but later reconvened for an extraordinary session in the evening.
Sayida Ounissi, an MP, told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme that the security services had said parliament was the original target of the attack. Read the rest of this entry »
It isn’t about getting a job. They have a job: waging jihad.
Peggy Noonan writes: Great essays tell big truths. A deeply reported piece in next month’s Atlantic magazine does precisely that, and in a way devastating to the Obama administration’s thinking on ISIS.
Mr. Wood describes a dynamic, savage and so far successful organization whose members mean business. Their mettle should not be doubted. ISIS controls an area larger than the United Kingdom and intends to restore, and expand, the caliphate. Mr. Wood interviewed Anjem Choudary of the banned London-based Islamist group Al Muhajiroun, who characterized ISIS’ laws of war as policies of mercy, not brutality. “He told me the state has an obligation to terrorize its enemies,” Mr. Wood writes, “because doing so hastens victory and avoids prolonged conflict.”
ISIS has allure: Tens of thousands of foreign Muslims are believed to have joined. The organization is clear in its objectives: “We can gather that their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change . . . that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world. . . . The Islamic State is committed to purifying the world by killing vast numbers of people.”
“The scale of the savagery is difficult to comprehend and not precisely known. Regional social media posts “suggest that individual executions happen more or less continually, and mass executions every few weeks.” Most, not all, of the victims are Muslims.”
The West, Mr. Wood argues, has been misled “by a well-intentioned but dishonest campaign to deny the Islamic State’s medieval religious nature. . . . The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers,” drawn largely from the disaffected. “But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.” Its actions reflect “a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bring about the apocalypse.”
Mr. Wood acknowledges that ISIS reflects only one, minority strain within Islam. “Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it.”
Artwork showing women’s shoes on Muslim prayer mats is removed from exhibition after warnings of possible violence
David Chazan reports: An artwork depicting high-heeled shoes on Islamic prayer mats has been removed from an exhibition after a Muslim group warned of possible violence in the wake of the Paris attacks.
The French-Algerian artist, Zoulikha Bouabdellah, withdrew the work from an exhibition in a northern Paris suburb with a large Muslim population after an Islamic group told local authorities it could provoke “uncontrollable, irresponsible incidents”.
“I’m left wondering at the reasons that push a certain fringe among French Muslims to see this work as blasphemous. I’m from a Muslim background and my intention was not to shock or provoke, but to offer a vision as a starting point for a dialogue.”
It is considered disrespectful to step on Muslim prayer maps with shoes.
Ms Bouabdellah has replaced the artwork, “Silence”, previously exhibited in Paris, New York, Berlin and Madrid, with a video installation showing belly-dancing to the French national anthem, with swirling red, white and blue shawls symbolising the national flag.
“I protest against all pressures and/or threats that would result in a peaceful art work being pulled from an exhibition, be it due to a Christian group, a Muslim group, or a group of other beliefs.”
The decision sparked protests from other artists who complained that freedom of expression was being undermined only weeks after 12 people were killed when gunmen attacked the office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. Another four people were killed at a kosher supermarket, and a policewoman was shot dead near a Jewish school.
Ms Bouabdellah, 37, said on Wednesday that the “lack of understanding” of her work was probably related to “heightened emotions” after the attacks. Read the rest of this entry »
The question of religious and cultural tolerance hits close to home for China, which is battling a surge of ethnic violence in Xinjiang, home to the mostly Muslim Uighurs
Josh Chin reports: The deadly terrorist attack on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo shows the need to impose limits on freedom of the press, China’s official news agency argued on Sunday, as more than three million people marched in anti-terror rallies across France.
“Charlie Hebdo had on multiple occasions been the target of protests and even revenge attacks on account of its controversial cartoons,” the Xinhua news agencycommentary said, adding that the magazine had been criticized in the past for being “both crude and heartless” in its attacks on religion.
The commentary, written by Xinhua Paris bureau chief Ying Qiang, appeared timed to coincide with Sunday’s rallies. The largest of those took place in Paris and attracted several world leaders, including Germany’s Angela Merkel and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
“What they seem not to realize is that world is diverse, and there should be limits on press freedom.”
The commentary, written by Xinhua Paris bureau chief Ying Qiang, appeared timed to coincide with Sunday’s rallies. The largest of those took place in Paris and attracted several world leaders, including Germany’s Angela Merkel and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
“Many religions and ethnic groups in this world have their own totems and spiritual taboos. Mutual respect is crucial for peaceful coexistence.”
The spree of violence ended on Friday after French police killed the three men suspected of murdering 17 people, including 11 inside the offices of Charlie Hebdo. The magazine was known for publishing vivid cartoons lampooning religion, including Islam, and had been targeted in the past by Muslims angry at its caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
“Unfettered and unprincipled satire, humiliation and free speech are not acceptable.”
China’s ambassador to France, Kong Quan, attended the rally, China’s Foreign Ministry said at a regular press briefing on Monday. “The content of the Xinhua commentary reflects Xinhua’s own point of view,” ministry spokesman Hong Lei said, adding that China opposed terrorism in all forms. Read the rest of this entry »
The families and friends of the 17 people killed in the spree of violence walked solemnly at the head of the march. In their wake came a spectrum of leaders, ranging from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron .
The rally was one of the city’s biggest gatherings in decades, and French officials adopted “exceptional” measures to manage the crowd and guarantee the security of foreign leaders. Large swaths of the city were sealed off from traffic and subway lines were shut down.
For a city that had become a backdrop of gunfire and bloodshed in recent days, the rally marked Paris’s return as a stage for symbolic gestures of peace. Ms. Merkel locked arms with Mr. Abbas, and Mr. Netanyahu shook hands with President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali, which doesn’t have diplomatic relations with Israel.
emonstrators gather in Place de la République before the start of a march on Sunday in Paris. Hundreds of thousands of people and dozens of world leaders are attending the event in memory of 17 people who were killed in a spree of terror attacks in the French capital. CHRISTOPHER FURLONG/GETTY IMAGES
Thousands Gather in Paris
World leaders and dignitaries were due to march with a massive crowd in Paris on Sunday in memory of 17 people who were killed in a spree of terrorist attacks in France this past week. Photo: AP
“Today, Paris is the capital of the world. The whole country will stand up.”
— French President François Hollande
France and the rest of Europe have been on high alert since Wednesday, when brothers Chérif and Saïd Kouachi allegedly went on a deadly rampage, stalking through the newsroom of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo with AK-47s. The violence continued when a third gunman, Amedy Coulibaly, allegedly killed a police woman on Thursday and four hostages at a kosher grocery store on Friday.
Signs with the words “Je Suis Charlie” (I am Charlie), adorn the base of the statue of Marianne at the Place de la République before the start of the march. JOEL SAGET/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
The Kouachi brothers and Mr. Coulibaly were killed by police in separate and simultaneous raids that brought the crisis to a dramatic climax.
The violence traumatized France, puncturing public confidence in the country’s formidable security forces and sowing tensions in a land that is home to one of Europe’s biggest Muslim populations.
French doctor Patrice Pelloux, right, takes part in the march with members of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine. THOMAS SAMSON/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
On the sidelines of Sunday’s rally, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve convened a meeting of senior security officials from both sides of the Atlantic, including U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder , to address terrorist threats in the wake of the attacks.
Mr. Cazeneuve said the group of officials agreed to work together to combat threats from foreign fighters returning from Syria and Iraq and to tighten border controls.
A black X is put across the mouth on part of the base of the statue of Marianne at the Place de la République before the start of the march. The poster reads in French: “We are all defiantly Charlie,” referring to Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine whose Paris offices were attacked by brothers Chérif and Saïd Kouachi. JOEL SAGET/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
French police faced off with gunmen on two fronts. How did the alleged terrorists end up in these final confrontations? WSJ’s Jason Bellini has #TheShortAnswer.
The government mobilized thousands of police and paramilitary forces to oversee the rally. Special units, officials said, were dedicated to protecting dignitaries and leaders.
Mr. Hollande welcomes Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the Élysée Palace. THIBAULT CAMUS/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Efforts to control the crowd, however, were at times overwhelmed by the sheer size of the gathering.
Crowds began flocking to the city center in the early hours of Sunday amid bright sunshine and crisp blue skies. Several dozen antique cars and tractors, in Paris for an annual procession, this year decked themselves out with “Je suis Charlie,” or “I am Charlie,” stickers in solidarity with the magazine, and drove near the Arc de Triomphe as passersby cheered and clapped.
Notably not present: Alleged world leader U.S. President Barack Obama
The sea of demonstrators pooling in Place de la Republique—the march’s starting point—quickly overflowed, sending human rivers into Paris’s manicured avenues. Crowds also breached the march’s official routes—toward Place de la Nation, 2 miles away—clogging the city’s cobblestoned byways with foot traffic.
Mr. Hollande embraces German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, as she arrives at the Élysée Palace. Mr. Hollande will lead the march and will be joined by world leaders in a sign of unity. Thibault Camus/Associated Press
Meanwhile, world leaders were ferried to the head of the rally in charted buses from the Élysée Palace, where Mr. Hollande had individually welcomed them in the morning. As the leaders arrived at the march, plain-clothed officers fanned out and police marksmen took rooftop positions. Read the rest of this entry »
In Paris thousands took to the streets to protest the attacks, holding pens in the air in tribute to the slain journalists and holding signs saying “Not Afraid” or “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”), in solidarity
Scott Roxborough reports: “Very little seems funny today,” said Ian Hislop, the editor of British satire magazine Private Eye, commenting on the brutal attack on his French colleges at Charlie Hebdo, which left 12 people dead. “I am appalled and shocked by this horrific attack – a murderous attack on free speech in the heart of Europe.”
His comments were echoed by satirists and cartoonists from across Europe and the world in response to the shootings, the most deadly terrorist attack in Europe since the July 7, 2005 bombings in London.
Shortly after news of the attack broke, Dutch cartoonist Ruben L. Oppenheimer tweeted his sketch of plane flying into two upright pencils, similar to the visual of the Twin Towers.
Cannes President Pierre Lescure and past president Gilles Jacob retweeted the sketch, one of dozens by prominent cartoonists posted in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo and with the dead, who included cartoonists Georges Wolinski, Bernard Verlhac and Jean Cabut and magazine editor Bernard Maris. The French satirical magazine had been the target of a firebomb attack in 2011 after it reprinted controversial Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.
One of the most retweeted cartoons was from Australia’s David Pope, which shows a dead cartoonist in a pool of blood. Above him, a masked man holding a smoking machine gun says “he drew first.”
In Paris thousands took to the streets to protest the attacks, holding pens in the air in tribute to the slain journalists and holding signs saying “Not Afraid” or “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”), in solidarity. The Twitter tag #JesuisCharlie quickly went viral. Similar demonstrations were held in cities across Europe. The Notre Dame church in Paris announced it will ring its bells at noon Thursday – a very rare occurence – to mark a minute of silence to be observed at schools and government buildings throughout France.
French actress Adele Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Colour) attended the rally in Paris’ Republique square, posting a photo to her Instagram account of the demonstration, as did actress Charlotte Le Bon (Yves Saint Laurent). Read the rest of this entry »
On September 1, 2014 the US State Department published a report, in which it was stated that for first time since the collapse of the USSR, Russia reached parity with the US in the field of strategic nuclear weapons. Thus, Washington admitted that Moscow regained the status that the Soviet Union had obtained by mid-70’s of the XX century and then lost.
According to the report from the State Department, Russia has 528 carriers of strategic nuclear weapons that carry 1,643 warheads. The United States has 794 vehicles and 1,652 nuclear warheads.
It just so happens that today, Russia’s strategic nuclear forces (SNF) are even more advanced in comparison with those of the US, as they ensure parity on warheads with a significantly smaller number of carriers of strategic nuclear weapons. This gap between Russia and the United States may only grow in the future, given the fact that Russian defense officials promised to rearm Russia’s SNF with new generation missiles. Read the rest of this entry »
In Britain, if you have extreme views on anything from Western democracy to women’s role in public life, you might soon require a licence from the government before you can speak in public. Seriously.
“It’s the brainchild of Theresa May, the Home Secretary in David Cameron’s government. May wants to introduce ‘extremism disruption orders’, which, yes, are as terrifyingly authoritarian as they sound.”
Nearly 350 years after us Brits abolished the licensing of the press, whereby every publisher had to get the blessing of the government before he could press and promote his ideas, a new system of licensing is being proposed. And it’s one which, incredibly, is even more tyrannical than yesteryear’s press licensing since it would extend to individuals, too, potentially forbidding ordinary citizens from opening their gobs in public without officialdom’s say-so.
“Once served with an EDO, you will be banned from publishing on the Internet, speaking in a public forum, or appearing on TV. To say something online, including just tweeting or posting on Facebook, you will need the permission of the police.”
It’s the brainchild of Theresa May, the Home Secretary in David Cameron’s government. May wants to introduce “extremism disruption orders”, which, yes, are as terrifyingly authoritarian as they sound.
In a historic Commons debate, Labour leader Ed Miliband — who has disowned the 2003 invasion of Iraq — said he understood the “qualms” and “deep unease” among MPs and the public about another war.
He urged: “I believe, although this is difficult, this is the right thing to do.”
However, Diane Abbott was among backbench MPs who said they would not vote for another Middle East war. Fears of “mission creep” among critics were fuelled when Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond left open the possibility military action might later have to be carried out in Syria as well as Iraq.
“In the space of a few months, Isil has taken control of territory greater than the size of Britain and is making millions selling oil to Syria’s Assad regime.”
The debate was led by the Prime Minister, who laid out the case for war by stressing that IS — also Isis or Isil — is a growing threat to the British people.
“The first Isil-inspired terrorist acts in Europe have already taken place, with the attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels,” he said. “Security services have disrupted six other known plots in Europe as well as foiling a terrorist attack in Australia aimed at civilians, including UK and US tourists.”
“This is not a threat on the far side of the world…This is not the stuff of fantasy. It is happening in front of us and we need to face up to it.”
— Prime Minister David Cameron
Mr Cameron described the “staggering brutality” of IS fanatics. “Isil is a terrorist organisation unlike those we have dealt with before,” he said. “The brutality is staggering — beheadings, crucifixions, the gouging out of eyes, the use of rape as a weapon, the slaughter of children. All these things belong to the Dark Ages.”
But he warned that the organisation was growing in power, territory and wealth, saying: “It is backed by billions of dollars and has captured an arsenal of the most modern weapons. Read the rest of this entry »
BAGHDAD —The Islamic State militant group released a video late Saturday that it said showed the beheading of David Haines, a British aid worker.
“The United States vows to avenge strongly condemns the act of pure evil barbaric murder of U.K. citizen David Haines by IslamicMuslim the terrorist group ISIL.”
— U.S. President Barack Obama
Islamic State militants had previously released videos showing the beheadings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.
“This is a despicable and appalling murder of an innocent aid worker. It is an act of pure evil.”
— U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron
The video released Saturday showed what a masked person said was Mr. Haines’s beheading before proposing that Alan Henning, another Briton, might face the same fate if British forces didn’t stop their aggression against the militant group. Read the rest of this entry »
Hint: this isn’t from the White House. Britain raised the terror threat level from substantial to severe, meaning that a terrorist attack is considered highly likely. The UK’s Prime Minister also said officials are trying to stop UK suspects from traveling by seizing their passports
In a career that spanned six decades, he appeared in films including Brighton Rock, World War Two prisoner of war thriller The Great Escape and later in dinosaur blockbuster Jurassic Park. As a director he was perhaps best known for Gandhi, which won him two Oscars. Read the rest of this entry »
Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag pictured on her wedding day with her husband Daniel Wani Meriam Ibrahim has been sentenced to 100 lashes as well as death by hanging
Sudanese authorities are to free a woman who was sentenced to death for having abandoned the Islamic faith, a foreign ministry official says.
Meriam Ibrahim, who gave birth to a daughter in custody, will be freed in a few days, the official told the BBC. Abdullahi Alzareg, an under-secretary at the foreign ministry, said Sudan guaranteed religious freedom and was committed to protecting the woman. Khartoum has been facing international condemnation over the death sentence.
Michael Bastasch writes: Obamacare’s failure to launch wasn’t the only major government debacle this year. Around the world, government planners saw their dreams come crashing down around them as their best laid plans fell apart.
The Obama administration’s error-riddled rollout of HealthCare.gov — that only cost taxpayers $174 million to build — was only one among several failed social experiments by bureaucrats this year.
Around the world nanny state schemes are falling apart at the seams. From efforts to curb smoking rates in Australia to reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the European Union, governments have failed to achieve their goals.
Aussies love their smokes
The Aussie government’s crusade to curb smoking rates has fallen flat on its face, according to a report issued last month. Despite the country’s law passed last year requiring “plain packaging” for cigarette cases, the country’s smoking rates have remained unchanged.
The study by consulting firm London Economics looked at actual smoking behavior before and after Australia’s plain packaging law went into place. The law requires that tobacco packaging double the size of the warning label and get rid of any brand imagery on the front of the pack.
The plain packaging law seemed to have some effect at first, according to the report. After three months, smoking rates started to slightly decline. However, after eight months smoking rates moved back up slightly, erasing any previously made gains in curbing smoking rates.
“Over the timeframe of the analysis, the data does not demonstrate that there has been a change in smoking prevalence following the introduction of plain packaging despite an increase in the noticeability of the new health warnings,” said Dr. Gavan Conlon of London Economics.
EU cap-and-trade bottoms out
Cigarette smoke is not the only emissions nanny statists have been looking to curb. The European Union has a cap-and-trade scheme that aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, which they argue causes global warming.
However, Europe’s best laid global warming scheme essentially collapsed this year as the price of carbon dioxide credits hit new lows, and EU member states could not agree on a fix for the problem.
The little lady who started selfie-gate, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, dashed the hopes of those wanting a peek at the pic when she revealed to the Danish press that the image won’t be seeing the light of day.
The blond beauty says she has no regrets instigating the photograph with UK Prime Minister David Cameron and President Obama at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service Tuesday.
President Obama posed for a selfie with UK PM David Cameron and Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt. The photo of the incident went viral — garnering considerable attention.
The Dane sat between the American and British leaders at the affair and held out her phone to capture the moment, while Cameron and Obama leaned in and flashed cheesy grins.
Insisting the mood at the Tuesday service was “festive,” the Scandinavian leader doesn’t think it was inappropriate to seize the moment for a selfie, according to Danish tabloid Ekstra Bladet.
Brushing aside the controversy, she hinted that she finds all the press about the incident “funny.”
Really? The impromptu pic went viral with commentators the world over questioning the propriety of behavior at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela.
Previously she was relatively unknown to the world, but she’s been plunged into the spotlight and her image was plastered across front pages across the globe — given her high-profile posing partners at the South African event.
Britain is out. Germany is out. Turkey is talking tough but giving no indication that it’s prepared to back up its words with action. With the Obama administration hinting that it’s preparing to strike Syria within days, there’s just one country that seems ready to take part in a military intervention: France, a country long mocked for perceived weakness.
The world’s eyes are riveted on Syria this week, as the United States, France and perhaps a few others organize plans to punish a bloodstained government for its use of chemical weapons against its own people. It’s a story that has everything: the prospect of violence, the political agony of an embattled White House, David Cameron’s loss of grip, and perplexing questions about right and wrong. For liberal internationalists, few international laws are more important than those that ban the use of WMD against civilians; on the other hand, when the political patrons of a war criminal block action at the UN Security Council, liberal internationalists must choose between their highest values and their most cherished institution.
That’s why the Syria story is dominating the news this week, and like the rest of the world, VM has been following it closely. But another story that is getting less attention is much more important for the future of the world: the economic crisis in India represents a much more fateful moment in world politics than anything happening in Syria.
George Bush…President Bush speaks before signing the Andean Trade Preference Act Extension in Washington, Oct. 16, 2008. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Bush knew how to build a coalition
George W. Bush was widely mocked by the Left during the Iraq War, with liberals jeering at the “coalition of the willing,” which included in its ranks some minnows such as Moldova and Kazkhstan. Michael Moore, in his rather silly documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, went to great lengths to lampoon the Iraq War alliance. But the coalition also contained, as I pointed out in Congressional testimony back in 2007, Great Britain, Australia, Spain, Italy, Poland, and 16 members of the NATO alliance, as well as Japan and South Korea. In Europe, France and Germany were the only large-scale countries that sat the war out, with 12 of the 25 members of the European Union represented. The coalition, swelled to roughly 40 countries, and was one of the largest military coalitions ever assembled.
I see the Obama “reset” is going so swimmingly that the president is now threatening to go to war against a dictator who gassed his own people. Don’t worry, this isn’t anything like the dictator who gassed his own people that the discredited warmonger Bush spent 2002 and early 2003 staggering ever more punchily around the country inveighing against. The 2003 dictator who gassed his own people was the leader of the Baath Party of Iraq. The 2013 dictator who gassed his own people is the leader of the Baath Party of Syria. Whole other ball of wax. The administration’s ingenious plan is to lose this war in far less time than we usually take. In the unimprovable formulation of an unnamed official speaking to the Los Angeles Times, the White House is carefully calibrating a military action “just muscular enough not to get mocked.”
Barack Obama‘s plans for air strikes against Syria were thrown into disarray on Thursday night after the British parliament unexpectedly rejected a motion designed to pave the way to authorising the UK’s participation in military action.
The White House was forced to consider the unpalatable option of taking unilateral action against the regime of Bashar al-Assad after the British prime minister, David Cameron, said UK would not now take part in any military action in response to a chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus last week.
David Cameron backed down and agreed to delay a military attack on Syria following a growing revolt over the UK’s rushed response to the crisis on Wednesday night
Protesters gather on Whitehall outside Downing Street to campaign for no international military intervention in the ongoing conflict in Syria (Getty Images)
The Prime Minister has now said he will wait for a report by United Nations weapons inspectors before seeking the approval of MPs for “direct British involvement” in the Syrian intervention.
Downing Street said the decision to wait for the UN was based on the “deep concerns” the country still harbours over the Iraq War.
MPs had been recalled to vote on a motion on Thursday expected to sanction military action. Instead, after a Labour intervention, they will debate a broader motion calling for a “humanitarian response”.
Anti-Morsi protesters in Tahrir square in July 2013, before the Egyptian army massacres. Photograph: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters
When a state massacres 600 demonstrators, it is not just its own citizens it murders. It also kills the possibility of compromise. The perpetrators mean you to understand that there can be no going back. When they kill, they are well aware that they are shedding too much blood for normal politics to kick in and allow differences to be patched up and deals made.
The killers have the swagger of gangsters. “We know,” they seem to say, “that we are breaking all the basic standards of civilised behaviour. We know people will hate us until the day we die for what we have done today. But do you know what? We don’t care.”