Czech Republic Plans To Combat Terrorism By Arming Its Citizens

Czech Republic Votes To Put Gun Rights In Constitution.

‘In reaction to the recent increase of security threats’

Jacob Bojesson The lower house of the Czech parliament voted to put gun owners’ rights in the constitution Wednesday, arguing it protects citizens from Islamist terrorists.

The European Commission passed stricter gun laws in December in response to a growing terror threat. The Czech Republic was one of three countries to oppose the changes, and it is now about to make it legal for citizens to use firearms to protect the security of the country.

“This constitutional bill is in reaction to the recent increase of security threats, especially the danger of violent acts such as isolated terrorist attacks … active attackers or other violent hybrid threats,” a draft of the bill reads.

Critics argue the changes will never take effect as European Union directives overrule the proposed legislation.

“Putting it in the constitution is therefore nonsense,” Jan Farský, the deputy mayor of Chovanec, told Hospodarske Noviny. Read the rest of this entry »


Le Pen Could Conceivably Win French Presidency, Politicians and Experts Say

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PARIS – With the polls narrowing and one of her main rivals embroiled in an expenses scandal, far-right leader Marine Le Pen could feasibly become French president in May, senior politicians and commentators say.

“I think Madame Le Pen could be elected.”

— Jean-Pierre Raffarin

At the headquarters of her National Front (FN) party in Nanterre, outside Paris, officials believe the same forces that led to last year’s Brexit vote in Britain and Donald Trump’s victory in November’s U.S. election could carry Le Pen to power.

Even some of her rivals concede a victory for the far-right firebrand is possible.

“I think Madame Le Pen could be elected,” former conservative Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said this month.

Another former premier, the Socialist Manuel Valls, has also warned of the “danger” of assuming that Le Pen cannot win.

Polls show that support for the anti-immigrant and anti-EU candidate has been consistent for four years now.

Since 2013, surveys have shown the blond 48-year-old will progress through the first round to reach the runoff stage in France’s two-stage presidential election.

Pollsters now note that although Le Pen is not currently forecast to win the all-important showdown on May 7, she has whittled down the projected gap between herself and her main challengers.

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The legal woes of her conservative challenger Francois Fillon have especially played into Le Pen’s hands.

When Fillon saw off pre-contest favorite Alain Juppe to clinch the right-wing nomination in late November, polls showed he would win 67 percent of the vote in the runoff to 33 percent for Le Pen.

Then in January allegations surfaced that Fillon had paid his wife hundreds of thousands of euros for parliamentary work she might not have done. Surveys now show Le Pen would score 44 percent to 56 percent for Fillon if the second round were held today.

[Read the full story here, at The Japan Times]

The pressure on 62-year-old Fillon moved up a notch Friday when prosecutors announced he will face a full judicial investigation into the claims.

A similar picture emerges when Le Pen’s projected second-round score is compared to that of Emmanuel Macron, the pro-business centrist who has moved from outsider to genuine contender in the space of a few months.

Although Macron’s performance against Le Pen has only been tested since January, the winning margin has dropped from 30 points to around 20 in a month.

The latest Ifop poll gives Macron 61.5 percent to 38.5 for the far-right standard bearer. Read the rest of this entry »


Sacré Bleu! Move to Name Paris Street After Steve Jobs has French Leftists Freaking Out

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The local district mayor wants to call one of several new streets around the vast Halle Freyssinet high-tech startup hub the ‘Rue Steve Jobs’ in honor of America’s best-known Capitalist. 

PARIS (Reuters) – Geert De Clercq reports: A proposal to name a street after the late Apple Inc chief executive and co-founder Steve Jobs has divided the leftist city council of a Paris district.

“Steve Jobs was chosen because of his impact on the development of personal computing and because he was a real entrepreneur.”

— Spokeswoman for mayor Jerome Coumet

The local district mayor wants to call one of several new streets around the vast Halle Freyssinet high-tech startup hub the “Rue Steve Jobs” in honor of the U.S. inventor of the iPhone who died in 2011.

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“The choice of Steve Jobs is misplaced in light of the heritage he has left behind.”

— Communist local councillors

But Green and Communist local councillors in Paris’s 13th district don’t like the idea because of Apple’s social and fiscal practices.

“Steve Jobs was chosen because of his impact on the development of personal computing and because he was a real entrepreneur,” said a spokeswoman for mayor Jerome Coumet, defending the proposal.

She said other streets would be named after British computer scientist and code-breaker Alan Turing, UK mathematician and computer pioneer Ada Lovelace, US naval officer and computer programming pioneer Grace Murray Hopper and French civil engineer Eugene Freyssinet, who invented pre-stressed concrete.

Leftist councillors are not impressed however by Jobs’ reputation and heritage. Read the rest of this entry »


Japan-Russia Space Projects Being Explored 

Propaganda Posters of Soviet Space Program 1958-1963 (12)

The Yomiuri Shimbun reports: The government has begun talks with Russia over a possible collaboration in outer space-related fields, sources said.

The main areas of cooperation are expected to take place at a base in the Russian Far East to launch satellites and joint space-related technology projects.

Hiroshige Seko, minister for economic cooperation with Russia, is scheduled to visit Moscow in November, and a working group is expected to be formed to make specific proposals.

The Japanese and Russian governments have been discussing ways to expand economic and other forms of cooperation in preparation for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s planned visit to Japan in December.

The Russian side brought up the possibility of cooperation in space-related fields in early September, the sources said. Since then, the Japanese government has been studying the matter internally, according to the sources.

Russia is seeking to expand the use of its Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Amur region in its Far East. It has mainly been relying on the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, but embarked on building a domestic base due to reasons including the hefty fees for using the site.

However, Russia has already spent 300 billion rubles (about ¥500 billion) on Vostochny, and further costs are expected. Launching Japanese satellites from this base could help recover the construction costs, the sources said, adding that Russia has shown interest in inviting companies involved in related fields.

For Japan, launching satellites from low-cost Russian rockets could expand the use of outer space by the private sector, such as through communications and observation satellites.

The government is also trying to expand the use of domestically produced satellites for launching commercial satellites. Read the rest of this entry »


European Ruling against Apple and Ireland Vindicates Brexit

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The European Union has shown itself to be a compulsory tax cartel.

 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!

Tim Cook

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.

[Read the full story here, at Foundation for Economic Education]

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.

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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 »


Hong Kong’s Memory Hole

The right to privacy is usurping the public right to know in Asia’s financial hub.

Financial hubs depend on the free flow of information, and nowhere more so than in Hong Kong, gateway to the opaque China market. So a recent case in which an appeals board upheld the censorship of a court judgment to protect the supposed privacy rights of the litigants sets a bad precedent. The territory is following Europe’s lead toward extreme privacy protection at the expense of access to information.

“The right to be forgotten affects more than media freedom. It prevents investors and entrepreneurs from conducting due diligence and managing business risks, and helps people hide from public scrutiny. That may be good for the reputations of the rich and powerful, but it will hurt Hong Kong’s reputation for transparency.”

Luciana Wong Wai-lan, who now serves on several government advisory panels, participated in a matrimonial case in the early 2000s. In 2010 Ms. Wong requested that the court remove the judgments from its online reference system. The court made them anonymous, but hyperlinks to the judgments placed on the website of local shareholder activist David Webb still revealed her name.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

Ms. Wong wrote to Hong Kong’s privacy commissioner for personal data in 2013, and the commissioner ordered Mr. Webb to remove the links pursuant to Data Protection Principle 3 (DPP3) of the Personal Data Privacy Ordinance. Read the rest of this entry »


Transportation Officials Assess France’s Newly Imposed Border Controls

President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency Friday and announced border restrictions for the country. Photo: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Robert Wall and Andy Pastor report: Transportation officials scrambled to determine what France’s decision to implement border controls would mean for travel to and from the country.

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.

his is an aerial view of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on VE Day, May 7, 1945, shows thousands of French people celebrating the announcement of Germany's unconditional surrender to the Allies. British, American and French servicemen mingled with the crowds who sang and danced throughout the night. (AP Photo/Griffin)

This is an aerial view of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on VE Day, May 7, 1945, shows thousands of French people celebrating the announcement of Germany’s unconditional surrender to the Allies. British, American and French servicemen mingled with the crowds who sang and danced throughout the night. (AP Photo/Griffin)

A French aviation official said that while airports would be open, enhanced security procedures would go into force.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

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 »


Controversial EU ‘Refugee’ Relocations from Front-Line States Starts Friday 

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 »


Greek Banks Prepare Plan to Raid Deposits

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.panic-betty

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.

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“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.

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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.

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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 »


Leaked TISA Documents Reveal Privacy Threat

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Emma Woollacott reports: Under the draft provisions of the latest trade deal to be leaked by Wikileaks, countries could be barred from trying to control where their citizens’ personal data is held or whether it’s accessible from outside the country.

“Under the draft agreement, the EU would be barred from requiring the personal data of its citizens to be held within European borders, an idea currently under discussion in Germany.”

Wikileaks has released 17 documents relating to the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), currently under negotiation between the US, the European Union and 23 other nations. These negotiating texts are supposed to remain secret for five years after TISA is finalized and brought into force.

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The deal, which has been under discussion behind closed doors since early 2013, is intended to remove barriers to trade in services. It’s a sort of companion piece to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which cover trade in goods – but potentially far bigger, with Wikileaks claiming that ‘services’ now account for nearly 80 per cent of the US and EU economies.

“No Party may require a service supplier, as a condition for supplying a service or investing in its territory, to: (a) use computing facilities located in the Party’s territory.”

— From the leaked draft

Like TTIP and TPP, TISA could be sped through Congress using Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), also known as fast-track authority, which has been passed by the US Senate and may be taken up in the House this month. Under TPA, Congress is barred from making amendments to the trade deals, and most simply give yes-or-no approval.

A demonstrator protests against the legislation to give US President Barack Obama fast-track authority to advance trade deals (Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

A demonstrator protests against the legislation to give US President Barack Obama fast-track authority to advance trade deals (Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

And the contents of TISA make interesting reading, particularly for anybody concerned about privacy. Under the draft agreement, the EU would be barred from requiring the personal data of its citizens to be held within European borders, an idea currently under discussion in Germany.

“Under the draft provisions of the latest trade deal to be leaked by Wikileaks, countries could be barred from trying to control where their citizens’ personal data is held or whether it’s accessible from outside the country.”

“No Party may require a service supplier, as a condition for supplying a service or investing in its territory, to: (a) use computing facilities located in the Party’s territory,” the leaked draft stipulates.

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“No Party may require a service supplier, as a condition for supplying a service or investing in its territory, to: (a) use computing facilities located in the Party’s territory.”

Under the draft provisions of the latest trade deal to be leaked by Wikileaks, countries could be barred from trying to control where their citizens’ personal data is held or whether it’s accessible from outside the country. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Manuela Mesco: How Migrants’ Ordeal Turned Into Tragedy at Sea

Migrant Bodies In Mediterranean Tragedy Arrive in Malta

An Italian coast guard ship brought the bodies of 24 victims of what could be the Mediterranean’s deadliest migrant tragedy to Malta on Monday, according to the Maltese army. Mark Kelly reports.

Overloaded and listing boat collided with rescue vessel; captain and crewman detained

CATANIA, Italy — Manuela Mesco reports: Last week, people smugglers near Tripoli loaded almost 900 Africans and Middle Easterners onto a rickety, wooden fishing boat, turning away as many as 200 others who had hoped to board and make the passage to Italy. The migrants had endured weeks or months of deprivation, with some detained and beaten for months by the smugglers.

Tunisian skipper Mohammed Ali Malek, left, seen Monday on board an Italian Coast Guard ship at the port of Catania, was detained on suspicion of multiple counts of murder. Photo: Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

Tunisian skipper Mohammed Ali Malek, left, seen Monday on board an Italian Coast Guard ship at the port of Catania, was detained on suspicion of multiple counts of murder. Photo: Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

“We had to literally slalom among the corpses. They were everywhere.”

— Enrico Vitiello, a 22-year-old medical assistant who was aboard one of the rescue vessels

Their ordeal became a tragedy as the ship sank on the weekend, leaving an estimated 850 people dead in what now appears to be the gravest single episode in the mass exodus of migrants across the Mediterranean to Europe.

“Only 28 people—all male—were pulled from the water alive, along with 24 bodies. One young man managed to save himself because he had learned how to swim not long before departing for his journey.”

The 66-foot boat was dangerously overloaded, with many on board—especially women and children—squeezing into the lower decks for the journey. Mohammed Ali Malek, a 27-year-old Tunisian, took the helm and headed for Italy.

The migrant boat’s captain, Mohammed Ali Malek, left, and Mahmud Bikhit, two of the survivors of the boat that overturned off the coast of Libya, are being detained by Italian police. Photo: Alessandra Tarantino/Associated Press

The migrant boat’s captain, Mohammed Ali Malek, left, and Mahmud Bikhit, two of the survivors of the boat that overturned off the coast of Libya, are being detained by Italian police. Photo: Alessandra Tarantino/Associated Press

On Saturday, about 60 miles from the Libyan coast, the boat issued a distress call—possibly in a true emergency, possibly using a common practice for drawing rescue vessels to take migrants to Italy. Officials at WO-AW189_MIGRAN_16U_20150419181205the Italian Coast Guard command center in Rome, consulting a giant screen that tracks the location of all private and official vessels in the area, immediately ordered the King Jacob, a Portuguese merchant ship, to the scene.

 “We found a man waving and screaming. Then we found another one in the water. We didn’t know if he was dead or alive. When we pulled him onto the boat, he just started to cry.”

— Giuseppe Pomilla, a doctor on the scene

As it approached, according to Coast Guard officials, the migrants rushed to one side of their decrepit boat, making it list dangerously. Around the same time, the two vessels collided and the migrants’ boat quickly tipped over, according to accounts from survivors and Italian prosecutors. It sank so quickly that hundreds of people crammed into the lower decks had no chance to escape.

The Italians quickly dispatched 17 other vessels, including Coast Guard cutters, Maltese Navy ships and fishing boats, to the scene to search for survivors. They found wooden fragments, floating life jackets, an oil slick, and many bodies.

“The deaths, if confirmed, further establish the Mediterranean as the most lethal migrant route in the world. “

“We had to literally slalom among the corpses,” Enrico Vitiello, a 22-year-old medical assistant who was aboard one of the rescue vessels, said on Tuesday. “They were everywhere.”

[read the full text here, at WSJ]

Giuseppe Pomilla, a doctor, reached the scene around 1 a.m. on Sunday to hear “desperate screaming” from people in the water. “We found a man waving and screaming,” he said. “Then we found another one in the water. We didn’t know if he was dead or alive. When we pulled him onto the boat, he just started to cry.” The survivors had spent hours in the water before being rescued, he added.

“An estimated 3,200 died in the crossing last year, and this year’s toll has already reached 1,600.”

Only 28 people—all male—were pulled from the water alive, along with 24 bodies. One young man managed to save himself because he had learned how to swim not long before departing for his journey, according to statements he gave to workers at the International Organization for Migration. Four of the survivors were minors, two from Somalia and two from Bengal, said aid group Save the Children. Italian prosecutors estimate that about 850 others drowned, about half of them Eritreans, the rest Syrians, Somalis and others. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Blockupy’ Protests Break Out in Frankfurt as ECB Opens New Building

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FRANKFURT—Scattered incidents of violence broke out Wednesday across Germany’s financial capital alongside demonstrations against austerity timed to the inauguration of the European Central Bank’s new headquarters.

While most parts of Frankfurt remained peaceful, a policeman on patrol said some police cars had been set on fire and some protesters burned tires. Police used water cannon on some protesters.

‘European unity is being strained. People are going through very difficult times.’

—ECB President Mario Draghi

ECB President Mario Draghi defended the bank’s policies at the inauguration ceremony, warning that moving toward more isolation and nationalization wouldn’t solve Europe’s problems.

“European unity is being strained. People are going through very difficult times,” Mr. Draghi said in prepared remarks at the inauguration. Read the rest of this entry »


Sacré Bleu! Socialism in France as Unpopular as ‘Progressivism’ is in U.S.: Hollande Approval Ratings Freeze Over in Midterm French Poll

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Half-way into his five-year mandate the popularity of French President Francois Hollande hit a new low on Thursday, hours before the Socialist leader addresses the nation to defend his shaky record on the economy.

“The absence of a clear vision and lack of coherence in economic policies is weighing on confidence and therefore investment and economic activity.” 

— CEO Jean-Paul Chifflet

In the worst score for a president in modern-day polling, Hollande received a 12 percent approval rating in the monthly survey by pollster YouGov, down 15 percent from the prior month. Other recent polls have put his popularity at 13 percent.

[Also see: François Hollande a Lying Socialist who ‘Doesn’t Like the Poor,’ says Ex-Girlfriend]

Earlier the chief executive of France’s third-largest bank, Credit Agricole, slammed Hollande’s government for its uncertain efforts to kickstart the eurozone’s second largest economy. Read the rest of this entry »


EU Plans to Fit all Cars with Speed Limiters also include New Rules for Achievement Limiters on Scientists, Intelligence Limiters on Students

A prototype of a design under consideration by EU public safety and social justice experts.

Prototype of an advanced automobile design under consideration by EU public safety and social justice experts.

Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA) scheme designers are preparing plans for new cars to be fitted with cameras that could read road speed limit signs and automatically apply the brakes when this is exceeded.  The new plans, which could also mean existing cars are sent to garages to be fitted with the speed limiters, preventing them from going over 70mph, are expected to be included in cars manufactured after the date the rules take effect. Also included in the EU’s proposals: an Intelligence Limiter on University Professors, Associate Professors, and University students. The new measures, announced by the European Commission’s Social Mobility and Community Fairness Division, include plans for a special Talent Limiter on actors, actresses, film directors, songwriters, performers, and recording artists. The commission is also proposing a strict Achievement Limiter on scientists, scholars, and researchers. Though the new rules are controversial, advocates claim the social justice and public safety benefits outweigh whatever minor inconveniences or individual compromises that may be required under the new rules.  The Commission will publish in the autumn a document by its social science experts which will no doubt refer its findings to the Commission’s Social Mobility and Community Fairness Division’s leadership. Read the rest of this entry »