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Abdelhamid Abaaoud, Paris Attacks Suspect

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An Islamic State operative suspected of helping plan the Paris attacks had been monitored in Syria by Western allies seeking to kill him in an airstrike, but they couldn’t locate him in the weeks before the plot was carried out, two Western security officials said.

“A year ago, video emerged of him in Syria, smiling as he drove a truck dragging the dead bodies of Islamic State’s opponents tied to the bumper.”

The operative, a Belgian citizen named Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was convicted in abstentia in Brussels earlier this year of recruiting jihadists, was suspected of masterminding a foiled plot to behead police officers, escaped to Syria and was profiled in Islamic State’s online magazine mocking European authorities for their failure to catch him. A year ago, video emerged of him in Syria, smiling as he drove a truck dragging the dead bodies of Islamic State’s opponents tied to the bumper.

Mr. Abaaoud is one of two people who have emerged at the center of a probe into the attacks that killed 129 people on Friday. Both are at large. French and Belgian authorities are also searching for a 26-year-old petty criminal named Salah Abdeslam, who they say rented a car used in the attacks on Friday and is suspected of driving some of the suicide bombers through Paris.

On Monday, dozens of masked Belgian police stormed a house in a predominantly Muslim district in Brussels in their hunt for Mr. Abdeslam….(read more)

Source: WSJ

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Paris Attacks: President Francois Hollande: ‘We Will Lead the Fight. It Will Be Ruthless’

President Hollande spoke in front of the Bataclan concert venue shortly after police ended a siege on the building that officials say left around 100 people dead.

French President Francois Hollande (C), flanked by French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (Rear L), French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (R) and President of the French National Assembly Claude Bartolone (2nd R), addresses reporters near the Bataclan concert hall in central Paris, early on November 14, 2015. A number of people were killed in an 'unprecedented' series of bombings and shootings across Paris and at the Stade de France stadium on November 13, and the death toll looked likely to rise as sources said dozens had been killed at the Bataclan popular music venue. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL MEDINA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)

French President Francois Hollande (C), flanked by French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (Rear L), French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (R) and President of the French National Assembly Claude Bartolone (2nd R), addresses reporters near the Bataclan concert hall in central Paris, early on November 14, 2015. A number of people were killed in an ‘unprecedented’ series of bombings and shootings across Paris and at the Stade de France stadium on November 13, and the death toll looked likely to rise as sources said dozens had been killed at the Bataclan popular music venue. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)

Reports from survivors indicate that the attackers may have mentioned Hollande during the attack.

Les Monde journalist Elise Barthet said several survivors were being interviewed by police in a bar near the Bataclan venue. According to Barthet, two witness said one of the shooters said “everything is the fault of your president.” (more)

Source: Live updates: mashable.com


Sacré Bleu! France’s Top Weatherman Sparks Storm Over Book Questioning Climate Change

‘We are hostage to a planetary scandal over climate change – a war machine whose aim is to keep us in fear.’

Every night, France’s chief weatherman has told the nation how much wind, sun or rain they can expect the following day.

“Every night I address five million French people to talk to you about the wind, the clouds and the sun. And yet there is something important, very important that I haven’t been able to tell you, because it’s neither the time nor the place to do so.”

Now Philippe Verdier, a household name for his nightly forecasts on France 2, has been taken off air after a more controversial announcement – criticising the world’s top climate change experts.

Mr Verdier claims in the book Climat Investigation (Climate Investigation) that leading climatologists and political leaders have “taken the world hostage” with misleading data.

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“I received a letter telling me not to come. I’m in shock. This is a direct extension of what I say in my book, namely that any contrary views must be eliminated.”

In a promotional video, Mr Verdier said: “Every night I address five million French people to talk to you about the wind, the clouds and the sun. And yet there is something important, very important that I haven’t been able to tell you, because it’s neither the time nor the place to do so.”

[Also see – Environmentalism Has Become a Religion’ Says James Lovelock, Father of The Modern Green Movement]

He added: “We are hostage to a planetary scandal over climate change – a war machine whose aim is to keep us in fear.”

His outspoken views led France 2 to take him off the air starting this Monday. “I received a letter telling me not to come. I’m in shock,” he told RTL radio. “This is a direct extension of what I say in my book, namely that any contrary views must be eliminated.”

The book has been released at a particularly sensitive moment as Paris is due to host a crucial UN climate change conference in December. 

TEASER OFFICIEL – CLIMAT INVESTIGATION… par Editions_Ring

According to Mr Verdier, top climate scientists, who often rely on state funding, have been “manipulated and politicised”.

[Read the full story here, at Telegraph]

He specifically challenges the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, saying they “blatantly erased” data that went against their overall conclusions, and casts doubt on the accuracy of their climate models. Read the rest of this entry »


Diplomats: Iran Announcement Monday

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VIENNA (AP) —  George Jahn and Matthew Lee report: Negotiators at the Iran nuclear talks plan to announce Monday that they’ve reached a historic deal capping nearly a decade of diplomacy that would curb the country’s atomic program in return for sanctions relief, two diplomats told The Associated Press on Sunday.

The envoys said a provisional agreement may be reached even earlier — by late Sunday. But they cautioned that final details of the pact were still being worked out. Once it is complete, a formal, final agreement would be open to review by officials in the capitals of Iran and the six world powers at the talks, they said.

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Senior U.S. and Iranian officials suggested, however, there might not be enough time to reach a deal by the end of Sunday and that the drafting of documents could bleed into Monday.

All of the officials, who are at the talks in Vienna, demanded anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the negotiations publicly.

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“We are working hard, but a deal tonight is simply logistically impossible,” the Iranian official said, noting that the agreement will run roughly 100 pages.

The senior U.S. official declined to speculate as to the timing of any agreement or announcement but said “major issues remain to be resolved.”

Despite the caution, the negotiators appeared to be on the cusp of an agreement.

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who on Thursday had threatened to walk away from the negotiations, said Sunday that “a few tough things” remain in the way but added “we’re getting to some real decisions.”

En route to Mass at Vienna’s gothic St. Stephens Cathedral, Kerry said twice he was “hopeful” after a “very good meeting” Saturday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who had Muslim services Friday. Read the rest of this entry »


France Foreign Minister: U.S. Surrendered to Iran’s Last Minute Demands at Nuke Talks

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Jordan Schachtel reports: The French delegation in Switzerland felt the outline for a nuclear deal with Iran was “not solid enough,” and wanted to improve upon the deal before signing off on the accord, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told Europe 1 radio on Friday.

“Iranian delegation threatened at the last minute to leave the talks entirely, which persuaded the American delegation to capitulate to the demands of the Ayatollah’s regime.”

However, the Iranian delegation threatened at the last minute to leave the talks entirely, which persuaded the American delegation to capitulate to the demands of the Ayatollah’s regime, Fabius revealed. The French Foreign Minister said he wanted a strong, comprehensive deal that dissuades “other countries in the Gulf such as Saudi Arabia from embarking on nuclear proliferation.”

“Iranian negotiators said that they would not dismantle any nuclear sites, nor would they destroy their centrifuges, and they certainly would not shut down their heavy-water reactor and underground sites, senior U.S. officials said of Iran’s positioning in the talks.”

Fabius’s remarks add evidence to Friday’s Wall Street Journal report that the delegation led by Secretary of State John Kerry continually conceded to the demand’s of the Iranian regime throughout the course of the talks. What started in September of 2013 as a chance to dismantle a vast swath of Iran’s nuclear program, turned into America making major concessions as the agreement was finalized, the Wall Street Journal explained. Read the rest of this entry »


Nuclear Talks With Iran Head Toward Endgame as Deadlines Loom

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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.

Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif during the Munich Security Conference on February 8. Photo: Reuters

Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif during the Munich Security Conference on February 8. Photo: Reuters

“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.”

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

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 »


Official News Agency Xinhua Says: ‘Charlie Hebdo Attack Shows Need for Press Limits’

Pictures that an Internet poster on China's Weibo microblogging site went viral when it was suggested they were of officials in Lujiang County.

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.

Xinhua

“Charlie Hebdo had on multiple occasions been the target of protests and even revenge attacks on account of its controversial cartoons,” the Xinhua news agency commentary 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.

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“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 »


Sacré Bleu! US National Security Agency ‘spied on French diplomats’

US Secretary of State John Kerry held talks with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Tuesday before the latest claims emerged in Le Monde

US Secretary of State John Kerry held talks with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Tuesday before the latest claims emerged in Le Monde

US Secretary of State John Kerry held talks with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Tuesday before the latest claims emerged in Le Monde

The US National Security Agency has spied on French diplomats in Washington and at the UN, according to the latest claims in Le Monde newspaper.

NSA internal memos obtained by Le Monde detailed the use of a sophisticated surveillance programme, known as Genie. Read the rest of this entry »


Kerry delivers a love letter to France, in French

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) arrives for a meeting with French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius (2nd L) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris September 7, 2013. REUTERS/Susan Walsh/Pool

REUTERS/Susan Walsh/Pool

PARIS  (Reuters) – French, it is said, is the language of love. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry flaunted his fluency in the language on Saturday to deliver something of a love letter to France, one of the few world powers that seems likely to join the United States in any military action against Syria.

Following the British parliament’s August 29 vote to reject any British use of force against Syria, which the United States accuses of gassing its own people with sarin, France has made no secret of its desire to play Washington’s supporting partner. Read the rest of this entry »