Hussein said his emirs, or local Islamic State commanders, gave him and others a green light to rape as many Yazidi and other women as they wanted.
“Young men need this. This is normal.”
Kurdish intelligence authorities gave Reuters rare access to Hussein and another Islamic State militant who were both captured during an assault on the city of Kirkuk in October that killed 99 civilians and members of the security forces. Sixty-three Islamic State militants died.
Hussein said his emirs, or local Islamic State commanders, gave him and others a green light to rape as many Yazidi and other women as they wanted.
“Young men need this,” Hussein told Reuters in an interview after a Kurdish counter-terrorism agent removed a black hood from his head. “This is normal.”
Hussein said he moved from house to house in several Iraqi cities raping women from the Yazidi sect and other minorities at a time when Islamic State was grabbing more and more territory from Iraqi security forces.
Kurdish security officials say they have evidence of Hussein raping and killing but they don’t know what the scale is.
Reuters could not independently verify Hussein’s account.
Witnesses and Iraqi officials say Islamic State fighters raped many Yazidi women after the group rampaged through northern Iraq in 2014. It also abducted many Yazidi women as sex slaves and killed some of their male relatives, they said.
Human rights groups have chronicled widespread abuses by Islamic State against the Yazidis. Read the rest of this entry »
PARIS (AP) — The Louvre Museum reopened to the public Saturday, less than 24 hours after a machete-wielding assailant shouting “Allahu akbar!” attacked French soldiers guarding the sprawling building and was shot by them.
The worldwide draw of the iconic museum in central Paris, host to thousands of artworks including the “Mona Lisa,” was on full display on a drizzly winter day as international tourists filed by armed police and soldiers patrolling outside the site, which had been closed immediately after Friday’s attack.
The attacker was shot four times after slightly injuring a soldier patrolling the nearby underground mall but his injuries on Saturday were no longer life-threatening, the Paris prosecutor’s office said.
French President Francois Hollande said there is “no doubt” the suspect’s actions were a terror attack, and he will be questioned as soon as that is possible.
An Egyptian Interior Ministry official confirmed to The Associated Press on Saturday that the attacker is Egyptian-born Abdullah Reda Refaie al-Hamahmy, who is 28, not 29 as widely reported.
The official said an initial investigation in Egypt found no record of political activism, criminal activity or membership in any militant group by him. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.
French authorities said they are not yet ready to name the suspect, but confirmed they thought he was Egyptian.
The suspect was believed to have been living in the United Arab Emirates and came to Paris on Jan. 26 on a tourist visa, prosecutor Francois Molins said. The suspect bought two military machetes at a gun store in Paris and paid 1,700 euros ($1,834) for a one-week stay at a Paris apartment in the chic 8th arrondissement, near the Champs-Elysees Avenue.
On the Twitter account of an “Abdallah El-Hamahmy,” a tweet was posted about a trip from Dubai to Paris on Jan. 26. In the profile photo, Hamahmy is seen smiling and leaning against a wall in a blue-and-white sports jacket. Read the rest of this entry »
The Israeli official’s admission marked a final chapter in the icy relations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama over the last eight years and signaled an era of close ties between Israel and the incoming Trump administration.
JERUSALEM (AP) — Josef Federman reports: An Israeli official on Friday accused President Barack Obama of colluding with the Palestinians in a “shameful move against Israel at the U.N.” after learning the White House did not intend to veto a Security Council resolution condemning settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem the day before.
“President Obama and Secretary Kerry are behind this shameful move against Israel at the U.N.. The U.S administration secretly cooked up with the Palestinians an extreme anti-Israeli resolution behind Israel’s back which would be a tail wind for terror and boycotts and effectively make the Western Wall occupied Palestinian territory.”
“President Obama and Secretary Kerry are behind this shameful move against Israel at the U.N.,” the official said. “The U.S administration secretly cooked up with the Palestinians an extreme anti-Israeli resolution behind Israel’s back which would be a tail wind for terror and boycotts and effectively make the Western Wall occupied Palestinian territory,” he said calling it “an abandonment of Israel which breaks decades of US policy of protecting Israel at the UN.”
Israel PM’s Office releases tough condemnation of Obama after UN vote pic.twitter.com/00i1NGDVJb
— Noah Pollak (@NoahPollak) December 23, 2016
Earlier he said Israel’s prime minister turned to President-elect Donald Trump to help head off the critical U.N. resolution.
“Under heavy Israeli pressure, Egypt called off a planned vote in the Security Council hours before it was to take place. In the diplomatic activity ahead of the postponement, both Netanyahu and Trump issued nearly identical statements urging the U.S. to veto the measure.”
Although the U.S. opposes the settlements, it has traditionally used its veto power as a permanent member of the Security Council to block resolutions condemning Israel, saying that disputes between Israel and the Palestinians must be resolved through negotiations. But after eight years of failed peace efforts during the Obama Administration, Israel has expressed concern the outgoing president would take an audacious step to leave his mark on the region. In recent weeks, the White House had been especially secretive about its deliberations.
The Israeli official’s admission marked a final chapter in the icy relations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama over the last eight years, and signaled an era of close ties between Israel and the incoming Trump administration.
Israel knew even before the Egyptian draft resolution that the White House was planning an “ambush” and coordinating it with the Palestinians, said another Israeli official, who requested anonymity to discuss internal diplomatic conversations.
Israeli diplomats believe they were misled by the U.S. during a meeting last week between high-ranking Israeli and Obama administration officials in which the U.S. side offered reassurances about its efforts to support Israel but declined to explicitly state that the U.S. would veto such a resolution if it came up. The Israelis told their counterparts that “friends don’t take friends to the Security Council,” the official said. Read the rest of this entry »
Michael Auslin is the author of “The End of the Asian Century: War, Stagnation, and the Risks to the World’s Most Dynamic Region,” which will be published by Yale in January. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.
Michael Auslin writes: In seizing an unmanned, underwater US Navy drone in international waters off the Philippines on Thursday, China has thrown down a North Korean-style gauntlet to both the outgoing Obama Administration and the incoming Trump team.
While media reports are still sketchy, it appears that a Chinese naval vessel was close enough to a US oceanographic survey ship to launch a small boat to grab the scientific drone as the American vessel was preparing to retrieve it. That would mean a ship-to-ship level of intimidation, and not a snatch-and-grab action in isolated waters.
Like in 2009, when the Chinese harassed the USNS Impeccable in the South China Sea, the latest action comes against a similarly unarmed US research vessel. This time, however, the Chinese flagrantly flouted international law, and unlawfully seized US property while possibly endangering the safety of US military personnel on the high seas.
Such a dramatic upping of the ante is out of character for China, and American officials should understand that Beijing now appears willing to take increasingly risky actions. This latest provocation may well be at least partly in response to President-elect Trump’s recent comments on China, Taiwan and the One-China Policy.
At the same time, the latest challenge comes on the heels of steadily degrading relations between the Obama Administration and China, including news that Beijing is rapidly militarizing its newly built islands located near the Philippines. On these reclaimed shoals, China has emplaced anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems in what can also be a precursor to fielding offensive weapons capabilities.
In response, senior US military leaders have made forthright statements about America’s national interest in maintaining open and uncontested sea lanes. These comments have put Beijing on notice that Washington will not sit idly by if China appears be upending decades of peaceful development in Asia’s waters. Read the rest of this entry »
A record net $674 billion left China last year, the International Institute of Finance estimates. A further $175 billion left China in the first quarter.
Saint Chatterjee reports: Hong Kong is conducting a multi-pronged customs, shipping and financial sector crackdown against so-called fake trade invoicing that allows billions of dollars of capital to leave China illegally.
Hong Kong’s central bank told Reuters it has beefed up its scrutiny of banks’ trade financing operations, while customs officials are doing more random checks on shipments crossing border posts and conducting raids on warehouses to ensure the authenticity of goods, senior officials working in shipping, logistics and banking said. The head of a logistics company said surprise customs inspections at Hong Kong border posts had doubled.
The sources declined to be identified given the sensitivity of the issues.
They said the increased efforts began this year and reflected concerns about billions of dollars in illicit cash authorities suspect are being channeled through Hong Kong following a stock market crash in China last year.
“Examinations and investigations reflect one of the strongest trends we are seeing now in the financial sector,” said Urszula McCormack, a partner at law firm King & Wood Mallesons, which helped co-author a report published by The Hong Kong Association of Banks in February that highlighted shipping as a sector where fake invoicing can thrive.
China has become increasingly concerned about capital outflows since the middle of last year when Chinese rushed to get money offshore for safekeeping or to invest following the stock market slump and unexpected yuan devaluation.
Hong Kong is the most popular route, analysts say, because of its proximity to China.
Chinese authorities have tried to staunch the outflows by tightening cross-border investment quotas, stepping up enforcement action of existing rules and restricting residents from buying financial products, such as insurance policies, offered in Hong Kong. But the trade channel had largely been left untouched given the complexity and magnitude of transactions involved.
A record net $674 billion left China last year, the International Institute of Finance estimates. A further $175 billion left China in the first quarter. China had been a long-term net importer of dollars. Read the rest of this entry »
Iraq is searching for ‘highly dangerous’ radioactive material stolen last year, according to an environment ministry document and seven security, environmental and provincial officials who fear it could be used as a weapon if acquired by Islamic State.
The material, stored in a protective case the size of a laptop computer, went missing in November from a storage facility near the southern city of Basra belonging to U.S. oilfield services company Weatherford WFT.N, the document seen by Reuters showed and officials confirmed.
A spokesman for Iraq’s environment ministry said he could not discuss the issue, citing national security concerns.
“They’ve been looking for it ever since. Whether it was just misplaced, or actually stolen, isn’t clear.”
— Official who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter
Weatherford said in a statement that it was not responsible or liable for the theft. “We do not own, operate or control sources or the bunker where the sources are stored,” it said.
The material, which uses gamma rays to test flaws in materials used for oil and gas pipelines in a process called industrial gamma radiography, is owned by Istanbul-based SGS Turkey, according to the document and officials.
An SGS official in Iraq declined to comment and referred Reuters to its Turkish headquarters, which did not respond to phone calls and emails.
The U.S. State Department said it was aware of the reports but has seen no sign that Islamic State or other militant groups have acquired it.
A U.S. official said separately that Iraq had reported a missing specialized camera containing highly radioactive Iridium-192 to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Vienna-based U.N. nuclear watchdog, in November.
“They’ve been looking for it ever since. Whether it was just misplaced, or actually stolen, isn’t clear,” said the official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
The environment ministry document, dated Nov. 30 and addressed to the ministry’s Centre for Prevention of Radiation, describes “the theft of a highly dangerous radioactive source of Ir-192 with highly radioactive activity belonging to SGS from a depot belonging to Weatherford in the Rafidhia area of Basra province”.
A senior environment ministry official based in Basra, who declined to be named as he is not authorised to speak publicly, told Reuters the device contained up to 10 grams (0.35 ounces) of Ir-192 “capsules”, a radioactive isotope of iridium also used to treat cancer.
The material is classed as a Category 2 radioactive source by the IAEA, meaning that if not managed properly it could cause permanent injury to a person in close proximity to it for minutes or hours, and could be fatal to someone exposed for a period of hours to days. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] DEVELOPING: Explosions and Heavy Gunfire in North Paris as Elite Police Hunt Attacker; Officers Reported InjuredPosted: November 17, 2015
‘Police Intervention’: Public Transportation Has Been Blocked in the Region
Reuters reports: Shots rang out in the Saint Denis area of northern Paris early on Wednesday as special police forces launched an operation to catch one of the suspects from Friday night’s shooting in the French capital, TV stations BFMTV and iTele both reported.
BFMTV said some police had been wounded during the operation….
— CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) November 18, 2015
— Anonymous (@TheAnonMovement) November 18, 2015
MORE: Keiligh Baker for MailOnline reports:
‘Heavy gunfire’ has broken out in a northern suburb of Paris during an anti-terrorist police operation, just five days after the worst terrorist attacks in French history killed 129 people in the capital.
Shots are being exchanged in the large police operation in Saint-Denis which began in the early hours of this morning. A special armed response unit is taking part in the raid and at least one police officer has been hurt,
Reports indicate ‘two or three men’ have barricaded themselves into an apartment in the centre of the suburb, which is currently surrounded by dozens of police cars with a police helicopter overhead.
There was an exchange of gunfire during the operation in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis in the early hours of this morning. Fire fighters said one person was ‘lightly’ injured during the raid
Reprise des tirs, hélico encore sur zone. Mouvements chez les policiers pic.twitter.com/Teq2PV2v9R
— Djamel Mazi (@djamel_mazi) November 18, 2015
French media reports the raid is part of an ongoing operation to catch the ninth suspect involved in Friday night’s terror attacks in the French capital, who is thought to be on the run.
Fire fighters initally said one person was lightly injured, but French TV stations BFMTV and iTele both reported ‘several’ police officers had been wounded during the operation.
The suburb of St Denis is where the Stade de France, one of the targets of Friday’s attacks, is located. On Friday three suicide bombers blew themselves up during a friendly football match.
A police official says there have been exchanges of gunfire and special SWAT teams are on the scene.
Police have blocked off Place Jean Jaurès in Saint Denis, just north of Paris.
French authorities have said they are searching for at least two people involved in last Friday’s attacks, which killed at least 129 people and seven terrorists. Read the rest of this entry »
In The Wall Street Journal, Information Age columnist Gordon Crovitz writes about how China censors your Internet—Beijing thinks Taylor Swift’s “1989” is code for Tiananmen Square and must be blocked….(read more)
Dozens of countries amass cyberweapons, reconfigure militaries to meet threat.
“The acronym was MAD—mutually assured destruction—which kept everything nice and tidy. Here you have the same acronym, but it’s ‘mutually assured doubt,’ because you can never be sure what the attack will be.”
Getting into the cyberweapon club is easier, cheaper and available to almost anyone with cash and a computer.
A series of successful computer attacks carried out by the U.S. and others has kicked off a frantic and destabilizing digital arms race, with dozens of countries amassing stockpiles of malicious code. The programs range from the most elementary, such as typo-ridden emails asking for a password, to software that takes orders from a rotating list of Twitter handles.
The proliferation of these weapons has spread so widely that the U.S. and China—longtime cyber adversaries—brokered a limited agreement last month not to conduct certain types of cyberattacks against each other, such as intrusions that steal corporate information and then pass it along to domestic companies. Cyberattacks that steal government secrets, however, remain fair game.
This comes after other countries have begun to amass cyberweaponry on an unprecedented scale. Pakistan and India, two nuclear-armed rivals, regularly hack each other’s companies and governments, security researchers said. Estonia and Belarus are racing to build defensive shields to counter Russia. Denmark and the Netherlands have begun programs to develop offensive computer weapons, as have Argentina and France.
In total, at least 29 countries have formal military or intelligence units dedicated to offensive hacking efforts, according to a Wall Street Journal compilation of government records and interviews with U.S. and foreign officials. Some 50 countries have bought off-the-shelf hacking software that can be used for domestic and international surveillance. The U.S. has among the most-advanced operations.
In the nuclear arms race, “the acronym was MAD—mutually assured destruction—which kept everything nice and tidy,” said Matthijs Veenendaal, a researcher at the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, a research group in Estonia. “Here you have the same acronym, but it’s ‘mutually assured doubt,’ because you can never be sure what the attack will be.”
Governments have used computer attacks to mine and steal information, erase computers, disable bank networks and—in one extreme case—destroy nuclear centrifuges.
Nation states have also looked into using cyberweapons to knock out electrical grids, disable domestic airline networks, jam Internet connectivity, erase money from bank accounts and confuse radar systems, experts believe.
Large conventional militaries and nuclear forces are ill-suited to this new kind of warfare, which evens the playing field between big and small countries. Cyberattacks are hard to stop and sometimes impossible to trace. The West, as a result, has been forced to start reconfiguring its militaries to better meet the threat.
“With some countries, we’re comfortable with knowing what their capabilities are, but with other countries we’re still lost. We don’t have the visibility into their toolset.”
— Andre McGregor, a former cyber special agent at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and now the director of security at Tanium Inc.
Access to cyberweapons, according to U.S. and foreign officials and security researchers, is far more widespread than access to nuclear weapons was at the height of the nuclear arms race, a result of inexpensive technology and the power of distributed computing.
“It’s not like developing an air force…You don’t need to have your own cyberforce to have a very robust and very scary offensive capability.”
— Michael Schmitt, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College and part of an international group studying how international law relates to cyberwarfare.
More than two dozen countries have accumulated advanced cyberweapons in the past decade. Some Defense Department officials compare the current moment to the lull between the World Wars when militaries realized the potential of armed planes. Read the rest of this entry »
Jeremy Page reports: The head of the secretive bodyguard unit that protects Chinese President Xi Jinping made a rare foray into the public spotlight on Friday, being put on the guest list for the state dinner at the White House.
The official guest list for the event names “His Excellency Wang Shaojun,” identifying him as “Chief, Central Security Bureau” among the invited attendees for the dinner, which followed Mr. Xi’s summit meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama earlier in the day.
Maj. Gen. Wang’s appointment to the bodyguard post has never been announced publicly by Chinese authorities, although Hong Kong media reported it in March, citing anonymous sources. The White House list confirms Maj. Gen. Wang’s position within an inner circle of trusted aides and advisers to Mr. Xi who see him almost every day and play an increasingly important role in Chinese politics.
The Central Security Bureau, also known as the Central Guard Bureau, is thought to command several thousand elite troops who protect top leaders and their families, according to experts on the Chinese military.
Its commander has always occupied a politically sensitive and influential position, given the bureau’s access to the top leadership. The post is considered to have become more so since Mr. Xi launched an anticorruption campaign that has led to the detention of more than 30 generals and several senior civilian Communist Party figures. Read the rest of this entry »
Out of the 7,000 emails posted Monday, about 150 messages are deemed to be classified. Previously, officials said 63 messages were considered classified.
The State Department has released the largest batch yet of emails from Hillary Clinton while she was America’s top diplomat, providing more fuel for a controversy that has proved politically damaging for her White House campaign.
“As she attempted to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Clinton got some advice from an ex-diplomat on how to handle Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”
While Clinton has not been charged with breaking the law or knowingly spilling state secrets, her poll ratings have steadily declined since she acknowledged using a personal server for both work and personal email correspondence while she served as secretary of state from 2009 until 2013.
“In an email, Martin Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and longtime Mideast hand, told Clinton that Netanyahu needed to be reassured, but not indulged.”
Clinton’s struggle to put the email controversy to rest has helped feed speculation that Vice President Joe Biden could enter the race for the Democratic nomination.
“Put your arm around Bibi,” he wrote in a September 30, 2010 message, using Netanyahu’s nickname. “He still thinks we are out to bring him down.”
Out of the 7,000 emails posted Monday, about 150 messages are deemed to be classified. But the State Department said the material was labeled classified after the fact and not at the time the email was sent. Previously, officials said 63 messages were considered classified.
“In an email with the cryptic subject line, ‘gefilte fish,’ Clinton asked: ‘Where are we on this?’ There was no explanation of what mysterious crisis Clinton was referring to.”
The emails have offered a glimpse behind the scenes during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, showing her own preoccupation with media coverage and her frequent communication with longtime advisor and confidant Sidney Blumenthal. Read the rest of this entry »
Turkish authorities on Monday charged three Western news reporters in southeastern Turkey with working for a “terrorist organization,” said their employer VICE News on Monday, days after the journalists’ detention caused an outcry among human rights groups.
“Today the Turkish government has leveled baseless and alarmingly false charges of ‘working on behalf of a terrorist organization’ against three VICE News reporters, in an attempt to intimidate and censor their coverage.”
— A spokesman for VICE
Jake Hanrahan, Philip Pendlebury, as well as a fixer and a driver were detained by the Turkish authorities while reportedly filming clashes between police and supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the province of Diyarbakir.
On Monday, they were charged in a Turkish court, VICE said. Read the rest of this entry »
Man airlifted to a nearby hospital, jaw wired shut
DALLAS (Reuters) – Lisa Maria Garza reports: An East Texas man was wounded after he fired a gun at an armadillo in his yard and the bullet ricocheted back to hit him in his face, the county sheriff said on Friday.
Cass County Sheriff Larry Rowe said the man, who was not identified, went outside his home in Marietta, southwest of Texarkana, at around 3 a.m. on Thursday morning. He spotted the armadillo on his property and opened fire.
“We didn’t find the armadillo.”
— Cass County Sheriff Larry Rowe
“His wife was in the house. He went outside and took his .38 revolver and shot three times at the armadillo,” Rowe said.
The animal’s hard shell deflected at least one of three bullets, which then struck the man’s jaw, he said. Read the rest of this entry »
Groups of youths among the more than 12,000 anti-reality protesters smashed storefronts and set at least one car on fire
(ATHENS, Greece) — Elena Becatoros and Derek Gatopoulos report: Rioters hurled petrol bombs at police who responded with tear gas as an anti-austerity demonstration outside parliament turned violent Wednesday, while Greek lawmakers began debating contentious measures needed to start negotiations on a new bailout and avoid financial collapse.
“I must tell you, that Monday morning at 9:30, it was the most difficult day of my life. It was a decision that will weigh on me for the rest of my life.”
Groups of youths among the more than 12,000 protesters smashed storefronts and set at least one vehicle alight. The clashes were the first significant protest violence since the left-wing Syriza government came to power in January promising to repeal bailout austerity. Police said at least 50 people were detained.
“I don’t know if we did the right thing. But I know we did something with the sense that we had no choice. Nothing was certain and nothing is.”
— Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos
The protest was timed to coincide with the start of debate on the bill, which includes consumer tax increases and pension reforms that will condemn Greeks to years of more economic hardship.
The bill has fueled anger among the governing left-wing Syriza party and led to a revolt by many party members against Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who has insisted the deal forged early Monday after a marathon weekend eurozone summit was the best he could do to prevent Greece from crashing out of Europe’s joint currency.
“I must tell you, that Monday morning at 9:30, it was the most difficult day of my life. It was a decision that will weigh on me for the rest of my life,” said Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos.
“I don’t know if we did the right thing. But I know we did something with the sense that we had no choice. Nothing was certain and nothing is,” he said as the debate kicked off.
Civil servants protested with a 24-hour strike that disrupted public transport and shut down state-run services across the country. Read the rest of this entry »
“Jian Bing Man,” which is a Wanda Pictures release in China, is the tale of a street pancake vendor who gains super powers from the breakfast dishes he serves. It is directed by Da Peng and stars Chinese actors Ada Liu (“Badges of Fury”) and Yuan Shanshan (“One Day”) and includes Hong Kong comedy favorites Eric Tsang and Sandra Ng. Read the rest of this entry »
The latest drastic step by Beijing is a six-month ban on stock sales by controlling shareholders and executives who own more than 5% of a company’s shares. Any violation of the rule, announced Wednesday night, would be ‘treated seriously’
The Shanghai Composite Index fell 5.9% on Wednesday and is down nearly one-third from its peak on June 12. Since then, $3.5 trillion in value has been erased from companies in the benchmark index—or nearly five times the size of Apple Inc.
China’s bond market and currency also began to get hit Wednesday as worries deepened that a contagion from stock-market losses could further trammel the country’s slowing economy. It felt even more ominous because Chinese officials had rushed out another raft of emergency measures earlier Wednesday to reassure the market.
The moves only heightened what is turning into an epidemic of anxiety among Chinese investors and a crisis of confidence in their leaders. Stocks were volatile early Thursday.
“The more the government intervenes, the more scared I am,” said Li Jun, who runs a fishing and restaurant business in the eastern city of Nanjing. He has spent about 3 million yuan, roughly $500,000, on stocks, using borrowed money for about one-third of the total.
Mr. Li has sold some of his investments every time the market “popped up a little” following a rescue announcement by the Chinese government. “I have no faith” in its ability to halt the losses, he says. Wednesday’s drop left the Shanghai index down 32% from its peak and at its lowest level since March.
The latest drastic step by Beijing is a six-month ban on stock sales by controlling shareholders and executives who own more than 5% of a company’s shares. Any violation of the rule, announced Wednesday night, would be “treated seriously,” China’s securities regulator said.
Early Thursday, China’s central bank said it has provided “ample liquidity” to a company owned by the country’s top securities regulator. The company is lending the funds to securities firms, which then will use the money to buy stocks.
The Chinese government has been praised for driving decades of economic growth and keeping the economy strong during the global financial crisis. In recent years, Chinese authorities have struggled with rising debt levels and the need to reform the economy away from government-driven infrastructure programs and toward consumer spending.
As it fought slower growth and a weakening real-estate market, the government turned its attention to the country’s languishing stock markets.
But Beijing’s inability to stop the recent decline has rattled investors who have long been used to seeing the government use its power to control markets.
“Beijing’s latest bid to calm the market has had the opposite effect,” said Bernard Aw, market analyst at IG Group. “The panic is spreading, and authorities appear to be grasping at straws to hold back the tide.”
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew played down the possible world-wide impact of China’s stock-market mess, though he expressed worry that it could restrain the country’s longer-term growth if Beijing slows its promised economic overhauls. Read the rest of this entry »
…At the time, Goodyear was already well into messing with synthetic rubbers and had been experimenting with a petroleum based rubber that was damn near transparent. So they took a set of tires made of this weird ass rubber and mounted them on a set of wheels that had small dash lights mounted around the inner rim…
If it is reached in the coming days, a nuclear deal with Iran will be, at best, an unsatisfying and risky compromise. Iran’s emergence as a threshold nuclear power, with the ability to produce a weapon quickly, will not be prevented; it will be postponed, by 10 to 15 years. In exchange, Tehran will reap hundreds of billions of dollars in sanctions relief it can use to revive its economy and fund the wars it is waging around the Middle East.
“Rather than publicly report this departure from the accord, the Obama administration chose to quietly accept it. When a respected independent think tank, the Institute for Science and International Security, began pointing out the problem, the administration’s response was to rush to Iran’s defense…”
Whether this flawed deal is sustainable will depend on a complex set of verification arrangements and provisions for restoring sanctions in the event of cheating. The schemes may or may not work; the history of the comparable nuclear accord with North Korea in the 1990s is not encouraging.
The United States and its allies will have to be aggressive in countering the inevitable Iranian attempts to test the accord and willing to insist on consequences even if it means straining relations with friendly governments or imposing costs on Western companies.
That’s why a recent controversy over Iran’s compliance with the interim accord now governing its nuclear work is troubling. The deal allowed Iran to continue enriching uranium, but required that amounts over a specified ceiling be converted into an oxide powder that cannot easily be further enriched. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran met the requirement for the total size of its stockpile on June 30, but it did so by converting some of its enriched uranium into a different oxide form, apparently because of problems with a plant set up to carry out the powder conversion. Read the rest of this entry »
“Thanks to Greece’s socialist policies, its economy has long been creaking under the weight of crushing debt. It only endured in the debt-averse European Union because, with the help of Wall Street honchos like Goldman Sachs, it cunningly concealed its red ink for over a decade.”
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called for a referendum over the latest concessions demanded by Germany and the European Commission. Votes will be cast on Sunday and Tspiras is actively campaigning against Greek cooperation. Four days earlier comes Tuesday, which is the deadline for Greece forking over an additional 1.6 billion euros to the International Monetary Fund. It’s now unknown whether Tspiras intends to default.
What is known is that the uncertainty is causing Greeks to party like it’s 1930. NBC News reports:
Greece imposed restrictions on money withdrawals and banking transactions to keep its financial system from collapsing due to a run on the banks.
Anxious Greeks rushed to ATMs to withdraw cash after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called late Friday for a referendum on the creditors’ reform proposals. …
Meanwhile, retirees lined up just after dawn at bank branches hoping they would be able to receive their pensions, which were due to be paid Monday. The finance ministry said the manner in which pensions would be disbursed would be announced later in the afternoon.
The president of the European Commission has declared that Greece’s departure from the euro is not an option, but even the most impenetrable of Eurocrats must comprehend that their little science project is falling apart.
This weekend’s referendum isn’t just about the current bailout package; a “no” vote will effectively jettison Greece from the euro and resurrect their old drachma currency. A “Grexit,” the prospect of which has long triggered dramatic sting music in the minds of European financial ministers, is looming over the Continent.
“That debt is often attributed to the fact that ‘Greeks don’t pay their taxes,’ which has now reached near-aphorism status among economic writers. But rarely does anyone explore the reasons for all this tax dodging.”
And why not? The referendum is likely a leverage tactic by Tspiras—who’s resorted to such risibly desperate measures in the past as calling on Germany to pay Greece Nazi war reparations—but it intersects with one of the seminal themes of his election campaign last year: giving the Greek people a choice. Why should Athens, fuzzily remembered as the “birthplace of democracy,” have its finances determined in the back room of a foreign accounting office? Read the rest of this entry »
Hundreds more bodies from the Eastern Star were found, bringing the death toll to 396
JIANLI, China—The death toll in the Eastern Star capsizing rose to nearly 400 on Saturday after disaster teams stabilized the river cruiser in an upright position and searched it for more bodies, making it China’s deadliest boat disaster in nearly seven decades.
Authorities have attributed the overturning of the ship in the Yangtze River late Monday to sudden, severe winds, but also have placed the captain and his first engineer under police custody.
Passengers’ relatives have raised questions about whether the ship should have continued its cruise after the storm started in a section of Hubei province and despite a weather warning earlier in the evening.
Heavy rains in the Yangtze area over four days beginning Monday have killed 15 people and left eight others missing, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said.
Hundreds more bodies from the Eastern Star were found overnight and Saturday, bringing the death toll to 396, Hu Kaihong, the vice director-general of the press bureau of the State Council Information Office, told a news conference. Read the rest of this entry »
REWIND: One Year Ago Today, May 22, 2014: Hillary Clinton Has Made $5 MILLION in Speaking Fees Since Leaving OfficePosted: May 22, 2015
Hillary Clinton has raked in nearly $5 million for her various appearances and speeches since leaving the State Department in February 2013, even though many of her more than 90 appearances have been unpaid. Her usual speaking fee is approximately $200,000 per appearance.
“This is a great way for a company to get access to her, to hear what she’s thinking, to be remembered if and when she does run for office, and to help her grow that nice little nest egg that she and her husband have been intent on building.”
BREAKING: Al-Qaeda Celebrates Obama Administration’s Foreign Policy Success by Capturing Major Airport in Southern YemenPosted: April 16, 2015
Al Qaeda overran the city itself earlier this month and freed inmates, including a militant commander, from its prison.
AHMED AL-HAJ reports: Military officials and residents say al-Qaida has taken control of a major airport in southern Yemen after briefly clashing with troops.
“Nasser Baqazouz, an activist in the city, said the troops guarding the airport put up little resistance.”
The officials say al-Qaida fighters clashed Thursday with members of the infantry brigade in charge of protecting the Riyan airport in the city of Mukalla, a major port city and the provincial capital of Yemen‘s largest province, Hadramawt.
Al-Qaida overran the city itself earlier this month and freed inmates, including a militant commander, from its prison. Read the rest of this entry »
Kenya’s Garissa University College Attacked by Masked Gunman, CEC Health Reports 30 Casualties Taken to Hospital, 4 ‘Very Serious’Posted: April 2, 2015
Alexander Smith reports: At least two people were killed and 30 others injured after armed attackers stormed a college in Kenya on Thursday, officials said.
The attackers “shot indiscriminately” inside the compound of Garissa University College, prompting an hours-long gun battle with security forces, Kenya’s National Police Service said in a statement.
The attack comes three days after President Barack Obama announced he would visit the East African country in July.
#GarissaAttack According to CEC Health 30 casualties taken to hospital. 4 are very serious. Majority of Casualties have gunshot wounds.
— Kenya Red Cross (@KenyaRedCross) April 2, 2015
The country’s National Disaster Operation Center said two people had been killed in the incident, according to Reuters. The Kenya Red Cross said 30 people had been injured, four of which were “very serious.” Read the rest of this entry »
A member of Gombe State House of Assembly, Alhaji Umar Aminu (APC), and eight others are feared killed by insurgents on Saturday. The insurgents who attacked Dukku and Nafada local government areas of the state were said to have killed the lawmaker representing Dukku South Constituency.
A source told newsmen that the insurgents, who came from Yobe, initially attacked Shole, Birin Bolewa and Birin Fulani towns of Nafada and later attacked Dukku. There was confusion in the two areas as some voters left the polling units but others later returned to be accredited, the source said.
According to the source, the insurgents killed three persons in Nafada Local Government Area, including a policeman and killed six persons in Dukku Local Government Area, including the legislator.
The source further said the insurgents left on the Dukku-Darazo road after the attack.
DSP Fwaje Atajiri, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state, confirmed the report, adding that details of the incident would be given after investigations were completed. “There was an attack on the outskirts of Nafada in attempt to disrupt the elections.”
A joint team of military and policemen promptly moved to Dukku and pushed the insurgents to the bush,” he said. Atajiri said elections were going on in the area and other areas of the state as the Special Forces were in control of the situation. Read the rest of this entry »
(Reuters) – Condé Nast on Monday won a federal judge’s preliminary approval to pay $5.85 million to settle a class-action lawsuit by thousands of former interns who claimed the magazine publisher underpaid them.
Former interns who worked at Condé Nast from June 2007 to the present are expected to receive payments from $700 to $1,900.
In granting preliminary approval, U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman in Manhattan said the payout appeared reasonable, citing an estimate by the interns’ lawyers that it exceeded 60 percent of estimated unpaid wages.
“Given defendant’s size and stature in the publishing world, I assume it could withstand greater judgment,” Pitman wrote. “This fact, by itself, however, does not render the proposed settlement unfair.”
The law firm Outten & Golden, which represents the interns, plans to seek legal fees of $650,000, or 11.1 percent of the settlement fund. Read the rest of this entry »
Beirut (AFP) – Miss Universe contestants are keen to proclaim their desire for world peace, but this year’s Miss Lebanon has declared war after claiming Miss Israel muscled in uninvited during a group “selfie.”
Saly Greige took to her Facebook page to declare that Israel’s Doron Matalon had pushed her way into a now widely-circulated photo showing the Middle Eastern beauties with Miss Japan and Miss Slovenia.
“I was having a photo with Miss Japan, Miss Slovenia and myself, suddenly Miss Israel jumped in, took a selfie, and put it on her social media.”
“Since the first day of my arrival to participate to Miss Universe, I was very cautious to avoid being in any photo or communication with Miss Israel (that tried several times to have a photo with me),” Greige wrote in English on her page.
“I was having a photo with Miss Japan, Miss Slovenia and myself, suddenly Miss Israel jumped in, took a selfie, and put it on her social media.”
The offending photo, taken in Miami where the Miss Universe pageant is staged, appeared on Matalon’s Instagram account on January 11.
It shows Miss Israel with a beaming Miss Slovenia and Miss Japan, and Miss Lebanon, who appears to be gritting her teeth.
“It doesn’t surprise me, but it still makes me sad. Too bad you can not put the hostility out of the game.“
— Miss Israel Doron Matalon
Matalon responded to the controversy herself on Sunday, saying it made her “sad”.
“It doesn’t surprise me, but it still makes me sad. Too bad you can not put the hostility out of the game,” she wrote in English and Hebrew. Read the rest of this entry »
Video obtained by Reuters shows Cherif and Said Kouachi firing at police after their attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices. Rough Cut (no reporter narration)
Iraq’s Christians once numbered about 1.5 million. There are now believed to be less than 500,000 out of a population estimated at 32 million, according to the US State Department’s 2013 International Religious Freedom Report.
(Reuters) – Baghdad’s embattled Christian community worshipped defiantly Wednesday night at Christmas Eve mass.
“The recent conditions have left us with a bit of sadness for our brethren, be they Christian or non-Christian, those who were displaced and harmed.”
The pews filled at Baghdad’s Sacred Heart church, as people remembered the darkest year in memory.
Blast walls shielded the church and seven policeman flanked the outside of the house of worship, in an indication of the government’s fear of an attack on the religious groups by jihadists who consider them non-believers.
“Christianity is the religion of peace and we pray for these people to return to their homes. We pray for all evil to vanish.”
The congregation sang in unison: “Praise Jesus, our Lord. Oh praise him” as incense burnt in the darkened church.
“We celebrate the happiness of Christmas, but deep inside we carry the sadness of Iraq.”
The worshippers paid tribute to the thousands of Christians displaced this summer in northern Iraq when Islamic State seized the city of Mosul in June and in August pushed on toward Iraqi Kurdistan, over-running Christian towns on the Nineveh plain. Read the rest of this entry »
“U.S. policy toward Cuba has been a blatant failure,” says Hidalgo. “It has not brought about democracy to the island and instead provided Havana with an excuse to portray itself as the victim of U.S. aggression…The 114th Congress should pick up where the president left off and move to fully end the trade embargo and lift the travel ban on Cuba.”
Cato scholars comment on the unexpected policy change:
- “Obama’s Historic Move toward Cuba,” by Juan Carlos Hidalgo
- “The Cuba Opening: American Foreign Policy Meets Reality,” by Ted Galen Carpenter
- “President Obama Right to Call for Trade with Cuba: Half Century of Failed Embargo Is Enough,” by Doug Bandow
- “Republicans in Congress Really Like the Cuba Embargo,” by K. William Watson
- “Time to Trade with Cuba: Regime Change through Sanctions Is a Mirage,” by Doug Bandow
- PODCAST: “Castro Regime May Undermine Reforms,” featuring Juan Carlos Hidalgo
- PODCAST: “An End to the Counterproductive Cuban Embargo,” featuring Ian Vásquez
(Reuters) – Reports of creepy clowns carrying knives and other weapons have been scaring people in the California city of Bakersfield for the past week, police said on Sunday.
“We’ve been having sightings all over the city. They range from anywhere from a guy carrying a gun to a guy carrying a knife running up to houses.”
— Watch commander Lieutenant Jason Matson
In the latest incident, a person telephoned the Bakersfield Police Department on Saturday night, reporting a clown armed with a firearm, said watch commander Lieutenant Jason Matson.
“We’ve been having sightings all over the city,” Matson said. “They range from anywhere from a guy carrying a gun to a guy carrying a knife running up to houses.”
The Bakersfield Californian newspaper reported earlier in the week that at least some of the reports were hoaxes. Matson said he did not know whether the incidents were pranks. Read the rest of this entry »
— Wendy Tang (@wwtang) September 29, 2014
“We are assessing the results of the operation and will provide additional information as and when appropriate.”
— Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby
No further details about the operation in the African country were immediately available.
Al Shabaab is an Islamist group affiliated with al Qaeda that wants to impose its own strict version of Islam in Somalia. It ruled most of the southern region of Somalia from 2006 until 2011, when African peacekeeping troops marched into the capital, Mogadishu.
African and Somali forces have regained several towns this year, but rebels still hold other centers and tracts of countryside. Read the rest of this entry »
“Thank God, I think no one is thinking of unleashing a large-scale conflict with Russia. I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers.”
Aug 29 (Reuters) – Alexei Anishchuk reports: President Vladimir Putin said on Friday Russia’s armed forces, backed by its nuclear arsenal, were ready to meet any aggression, declaring at a pro-Kremlin youth camp that foreign states should understand: “It’s best not to mess with us.”
“Russia is far from being involved in any large-scale conflicts. We don’t want that and don’t plan on it. But naturally, we should always be ready to repel any aggression towards Russia.”
Putin told the assembly, on the banks of a lake near Moscow, the Russian takeover of Crimea in March was essential to save a largely Russian-speaking population from Ukrainian government violence. He said continued fighting in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists launched an uprising in April, was the result of a refusal by Kiev to negotiate.
“Russia’s partners…should understand it’s best not to mess with us.”
Ukraine, and Western governments, accuse Russia of sending troops and armour to back the separatists in a conflict that has already killed over 2,000 people. Russia denies the charge. Read the rest of this entry »
Thousands march through French cities in protest of Israeli operation in Gaza Strip; French president says will not allow violence to spill over into France
REUTERS – Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters marched in French cities on Saturday to condemn violence in Gaza, defying a ban imposed after demonstrators marched on two synagogues in Paris last weekend and clashed with riot police.
“The far-left New Anticapitalist Party, an organizer of last Sunday’s rally and the banned one in Paris, urged protesters in Paris to defy the ban, prompting police to issue a warning”
A Reuters photographer said demonstrators in northern Paris launched projectiles at riot police, who responded by firing teargas canisters and stun grenades.
Demonstrators also climbed on top of a building and burned an Israeli flag. At least one car was set on fire.
A police spokesman said that 38 demonstrators had been arrested by early evening and that the clashes were dying down.
French President Francois Hollande said he understood emotional responses to the killing of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in a flare-up of hostilities with Israel but would not allow violence to spill over into France. Read the rest of this entry »
BBC News reports: A man set himself on fire in central Tokyo in protest at a proposed law which could allow Japan to deploy its military overseas.
“He was sitting cross-legged and was just talking, so I thought it would end without incident. Then all of a sudden his body was enveloped in fire.”
The man was taken to hospital after being hosed down but his condition was not immediately known, officials said.
Japan’s government could make the change to its pacifist constitution as early as next Tuesday.
The US-drafted constitution bans war and “the threat or use of force” to settle international disputes.
Witnesses said the middle-aged man, wearing a suit and tie, climbed onto a pedestrian bridge at Tokyo’s Shinjuku station.
“He was sitting cross-legged and was just talking, so I thought it would end without incident,” one eyewitness told Reuters. “Then all of a sudden his body was enveloped in fire.”
— WSJ China Real Time (@ChinaRealTime) May 28, 2014