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ALERT Europe: Politics, Trade, NATO -October, 2019
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  1. #1

    Europe: Politics, Trade, NATO -October, 2019

    From September:

    All news of Europe.

  2. #2

    Credit Suisse 'Spy' Found Dead As 'Espionage Scandal' Stuns Swiss Banking Establishment
    Profile picture for user Tyler Durden
    by Tyler Durden
    Mon, 09/30/2019 - 17:25

    Update (1715ET): The increasingly conspiratorial "spy scandal" underway in Swiss banking has taken an even darker tone as the Credit Suisse contractor - who hired private detectives to follow a former top executive - has died of suicide.

    Swiss financial blog Inside Paradeplatz first reported the man’s death, identifying him only as "T" and noting that he shot himself last Tuesday as the spy scandal started to break.

    The deceased had hired Investigo on behalf of Credit Suisse to follow its former top wealth management executive, Iqbal Khan. The bank hired detectives because of fears Khan would poach employees after moving to UBS.

    * * *

    As we detailed earlier, it looks like Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam is going to survive a scandal that's erupted over the bank's spying on a rainmaker who had recently left CS and joined cross-town rival UBS.

    The scandal unfolded on the streets of Zurich, where both Swiss banks have their headquarters (UBS is co-headquartered in Basel). It exploded into public view when wealth-management rainmaker Iqbal Khan, who had left CS after purportedly being passed over for promotion, realized that he and his wife were being followed while driving in downtown Zurich.

    Khan confronted his pursuers, an incident that eventually resulted in the arrest of several employees from the security firm retained by CS to track Khan's movements (the fear was that he might be trying to poach more CS employees). Thiam and several other senior officials were swiftly implicated in the scandal, despite revelations that this type of behavior is hardly unique in the worlds of finance and corporate intelligence. The bank launched an internal probe into the matter, while Swiss prosecutors launched a criminal probe, BBG reports.

    The incident became front-page news in Switzerland, though has mostly been confined to the business pages of the English-language press.

    But despite CS's lagging share price, several of the bank's biggest shareholders have expressed support for Thiam and his leadership team, and have set about persuading the board to do the same.

    The most vocal and public expression of support came late last week from David Herro, deputy chairman of influential Chicago-based Harris Associates, Credit Suisse’s biggest shareholder with an 8.1% stake. He said that the bank was justified in taking action to protect itself from possible poaching -- as long as it was legal -- and that it “would be damaging to CS and its stakeholders to lose any member of senior management over this issue.”

    His comments were echoed by Ricky Sandler, Chief Executive Officer of Eminence Capital, which owns Credit Suisse shares. He pointed to Thiam’s restructuring efforts during recent years. "Losing the CEO or any other members of senior management because of this would be a very unfortunate outcome for shareholders and other stakeholders," he said. "We hope that media reports are not overly influencing the Board of Directors."

    But at the end of the day, the fact that CS doesn't have an obvious successor for Thiam picked out yet, was probably the deciding factor in saving Thiam's job. Though some shareholders insisted that his 'successful' oversight of the bank's restructuring also deserved credit.

    CS's internal probe has so far focused on the role of COO Pierre-Olivier Bouee, but it's still unclear whether any executive at the board level will be punished.

    The CS board is expected to meet Monday to 'discuss the findings of the investigation', which is being carried out by law firm Homburger. After they're reviewed by the board, the firm is expected to make its findings public on Tuesday.

    At this point, it appears Thiam will survive the worst scandal since he took over in March 2015.

  3. #3

    Greece wants Turkey to take 10,000 migrants after deadly fire

    The Greek government wants to start returning thousands of migrants to Turkey following a deadly fire which broke out at an overcrowded camp. Officials called for action to ease pressure on overcrowded migrant camps.

    Thousands of migrants at overcrowded migrant camps on the island of Lesbos in Greece should return to Turkey, the Greek government agreed a day after a deadly fire broke out at migrant camp Moria.

    By the end of 2020 Athens wants 10,000 migrants to return to Turkey, in a bid to ease pressure on the overcrowded camps the government said in a statement following the four-hour cabinet meeting.

    The move signals a significant change in policy, as conservative Prime MinisterKyriakos Mitsotakis enacts a more hard-line approach to the migrant situation in the country.

    In a statement the Athens government stated that the 10,000 would be an increase from the "1,805 returned in the 4.5 years under the previous (left-wing) Syriza government."

    Mitsotakis announced further measures including more naval patrols in the Aegean, closing centers for migrants refused asylum, and announced plans to overhaul the asylum system, including building camps for those deemed "illegal" or who have been refused asylum.

    Read more: Huge migrant influx scares off Greek island tourists

    The meeting convened after a fire broke out at Moria camp on Sunday in which one woman died and 17 were injured. Moria is Europe's largest migrant camp, which has facilities for 3,000 people but houses around 13,000.

    EU, not Turkey the answer to overcrowding

    However, aid agencies argued that the solution should be EU-wide. Aid group Oxfam argued that Sunday's fatal fire was a consequence of the EU's migration policy. "People arriving in Greece should be relocated to safe accommodation across the EU, not crammed into dangerous spaces where their life is at risk," said Renata Rendon, Oxfam's head of mission in Greece.

    European Commission spokesman Mina Andreeva said on Monday "the increased arrivals in Greece over the past weeks have put an immense strain on an already flawed system and are creating unsustainable conditions as we have already had the opportunity to point out in the past."

    Read more: Greece's hospitals are ill-suited homes for kids

    EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos will visit Greece and Turkey this week with the interior ministers of Germany and France to discuss the crisis.

    Earlier in September the German government called on Greece to repatriate migrants to Turkey, in addition to pressuring Turkey to honor its 2016 EU-Turkey pact allowing visa-free travel inside the EU for Turkish citizens in exchange for receiving migrants who illegally enter Europe via Turkey.

    kmm/rc (AFP/dpa)

  4. #4
    Eurozone inflation drops, underlining case for stimulus

    By The Associated Press
    BRUSSELS — October 1, 2019, 6:17 AM ET

    Inflation in the 19-country eurozone weakened in September, slipping farther from the European Central Bank's goal and underlining President Mario Draghi's arguments for a recent stimulus package.

    Statistics agency Eurostat said Tuesday that the annual inflation rate eased to 0.9% in September from 1.0% in August

    Low inflation can be a sign of economic weakness and has been a concern for officials at the ECB, whose goal is to have inflation of just under 2%. The central bank, which sets monetary policy for the euro countries, decided September 12 to launch a package of measures aimed at raising inflation and supporting weakening growth.

    The measures include cutting a key interest rate benchmark to minus 0.5% from minus 0.4% and starting to buy 20 billion euros ($22 billion) a month in government and corporate bonds, a move that pumps newly created money into the economy. The steps aim to make credit cheaper for businesses and stimulate economic activity while raising inflation.

    The package was opposed by several officials on the ECB's rate-setting board and was criticized in the news media in Germany, the eurozone's largest member country. Opponents say the measures carry side effects including weakening savings rates, and should be reserved for use in a genuine crisis.

    The drop in inflation in September was largely due to volatile items like energy and a smaller annual increase in the price of food, alcohol and tobacco. Excluding those items, annual core inflation edged up to 1.0% from 0.9%. The core figure, which is more important for monetary policy, has been stuck near that level for months.

  5. #5

    Estonian formin not sure about linking EU budget to rule of law
    2019-10-01 BNS/TBT Staff

    TALLINN – Estonia is yet to decide about its final position regarding the proposal to link the European Union's financial framework to observance of the principles of the rule of law in member states, Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said according to the English-language news portal of public broadcaster ERR.

    Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne said on Sunday that not a single EU member state, including Hungary and Poland, are directly opposed to tying the financial framework to the observance of the principle of rule of law in member states.

    Reinsalu said in a brief interview on Monday that according to his knowledge the member states have not reached agreement on the matter yet and that the subject is yet to be discussed in the European Commission alongside financial perspectives.

    Estonia has not shaped a position regarding this proposal, the foreign minister said. "Estonia's position will be based on the final form of the proposal," Reinsalu added.

    Reinsalu said there used to be serious legal problems regarding the Commission's proposal as pointed out by the Council of Europe's Legal Advice Division.

    The issue raised was whether this capacity regarding cuts, funds withheld is in accordance with the European Union treaties," the minister said.

    Reinsalu said that tying different topics to each other requires serious consideration. "Whether disbursements and other issues should be connected like that – we need to measure nine times and cut once here. The Juncker Commission has proposed putting fines or duties on member states that do not accept refugees based on quotas in the past -- I remain adamantly opposed in this regard," he said.

    Reinsalu said that discussions concerning the proposal will continue next year. "The new Commission is about to take office, and I suppose these discussions could stretch into next year," the minister said.

  6. #6
    Holger Zschaepitzž @Schuldensuehner · 7h7 hours ago

    Good Morning from Germany where real estate bubble is forming driven by low interest rates & lack of alternative investment opportunities. Greatest risk currently exists in Munich, Frankfurt has entered bubble risk zone. Term “bubble” refers to substantial mispricing of an asset.
    Attached Images

  7. #7

    Angry Dutch farmers descend on The Hague to demand respect

    THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Thousands of Dutch farmers massed in The Hague on Tuesday to demand more respect for their profession, many after driving in slow-moving tractor convoys that snarled traffic around the country.

    Farmers staged a national day of protest as the Netherlands wrestles with efforts to drastically reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. A broad package of measures includes a plan to grant financial aid to farmers who want to cease operations or adopt more sustainable agriculture practices.

    There is a lot at stake: According to the Dutch farmers’ organization, LTO, exports from the Netherlands’ nearly 54,000 farms and agriculture businesses were worth 90.3 billion euros ($98.3 billion) last year.

    Among the farmers’ demands are that the government does not further reduce the number of animals they can keep and for an “independent party” to measure the carbon and nitrogen emissions that farms produce.

    “This is about our families, our future, the future of our children. It’s about our way of life,” sheep farmer Bart Kemp, one of the protest’s organizers, told the crowd gathered in the Hague.

    In an emotional speech, Kemp said lawmakers “miss the common sense - farmer’s sense - that nature and animals teach us.” He appealed for a “new era in which the food producers of the Netherlands are listened to” by lawmakers.

    Organizers said on a website for the demonstration they also wanted to counter a “negative image” farming and farmers have in the Netherlands.

    They said, “we are not animal abusers and environment polluters. We have a heart for our businesses.”

    One of the partner parties in the country’s ruling coalition recently proposed a 50% reduction in the number of animals allowed on farms as a way to cut nitrogen emissions.

    Agriculture Minister Carola Schouten said no such reduction would take place as long as she held her post. She pledged to listen to the farmers’ other concerns.

    “We are working for a strong agricultural sector with an eye on a healthy environment,” Schouten told the farmers.

    The Dutch motorists association, ANWB, reported that Tuesday was the busiest ever morning on the nation’s roads, with more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) of traffic jams blamed on convoys of tractors, bad weather and accidents.

    Some farmers avoided the traffic by driving their tractors along the North Sea beach to The Hague. Others set off in the early hours of the morning and waited, honking their tractors’ horns, in long lines to get into the city.

    Police sealed off roads heading into The Hague’s historic center and arrested at least one farmer for driving his tractor through a metal fence surrounding the protest site and a second for allegedly interfering with the arrest.

    Cattle farmer Peter Boogards drove his tractor from the nearby village of Wassenaar to express his anger.

    We’re the only sector that has managed to reduce phosphate production by 20%,” he said. “Nobody listens to us, while we stick to agreements. We don’t like that.”

  8. #8

    Ukraine’s ex-president slams peace deal with separatists
    23 minutes ago

    KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s former president has accused the current government of betraying the country’s interests by signing accords with Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

    Petro Poroshenko, who left office earlier this year after losing the presidential election to comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy, told reporters Wednesday that the agreement with the separatists is “playing into Russia’s hands.” Poroshenko said Ukraine did not receive any guarantees that it would regain control of all of its border with Russia but instead committed itself to holding a local election in an area it does not even control.

    Zelenskiy on Tuesday hailed the accords as a major step toward resolving the five-year conflict between the separatists and government troops that has killed more than 13,000 people since 2014. He insisted the election in eastern Ukraine would be held only after Ukraine regains control of the border.

  9. #9

    Norway’s government has signed a hard Brexit fisheries agreement


    On Monday, the government signed a fisheries agreement with the UK, which will continue to allow access to fish in each other zones throughout the year even during the so-called hard Brexit.

    In our agreement, Norway and the United Kingdom agreed to continue the right to fish in each other’s zones in case the UK leaves the EU without an agreement. The agreement is now signed.

    It means that if the UK leaves the EU on 31 October, without a transitional agreement, then Norwegian vessels will still have access to the UK zone throughout the year.

    The UK will respect the quotas agreed between Norway and the EU.

    © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

  10. #10

    Vatican financial control office director, four others suspended: report
    Philip Pullella
    4 MIN READ

    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Five Vatican employees, including the number two at the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority (AIF) and a monsignor, have been suspended following a police raid, the Italian magazine L’Espresso reported on Wednesday.

    The scandal, affecting two departments at the heart of the Vatican, was the first after several years of relative calm in which reforms enacted by Pope Francis appeared to be taking root.

    A Vatican spokesman said he had no immediate comment on the report.

    On its website, L’Espresso published a picture of a police notice to guards at Vatican gates telling them not to allow in the five employees because they had been suspended. The notice included photographs of the five, one of whom is a woman.

    The people whose pictures were on the notice included Tommaso Di Ruzza, the director of the AIF, and Monsignor Mauro Carlino, the head of documentation at the Secretariat of State. The other three held minor roles in the Secretariat of State, the key department in the Vatican’s central administration.

    Calls to Di Ruzza’s cell phone went unanswered. Reuters was not immediately able to contact the other officials.

    A senior Vatican source said he was aware of the suspension of four employees from the Secretariat of State but not of Di Ruzza’s suspension.

    Vatican police raided both offices on Tuesday and seized documents and electronic devices as part of an investigation of suspected financial irregularities.

    Tuesday’s raid is believed to be the first time the two departments were searched for evidence involving alleged financial crimes.

    The Secretariat of State, the most powerful department in the Vatican, is the nerve center of its bureaucracy and diplomacy and the administrative heart of the worldwide Catholic Church.

    The AIF, headed by Swiss lawyer Rene Bruelhart, Di Ruzza’s boss, is the financial controller, with authority over all Vatican departments.

    In a statement on Tuesday, the Vatican said the operation was a follow-up to complaints filed in the summer by the Vatican bank and the Office of the Auditor General and were related to “financial operations carried out over the course of time”.

    Since Francis’ election in 2013, the Vatican has tried to clean up its financial reputation.

    Last year, a former head of the Vatican bank and an Italian lawyer went on trial to face charges of money laundering and embezzlement through real estate deals. It is still in progress.

    The AIF said in May that reports of suspicious financial activity in the Vatican reached a six-year low in 2018, continuing a trend officials said showed reforms were in place.

    The bank, officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion, or IOR, was for decades embroiled in numerous financial scandals as Italians with no right to have accounts opened them with the complicity of corrupt insiders.

    Hundreds of IOR accounts were closed at the bank, whose stated purpose is to manage funds for the Church, Vatican employees, religious institutes or Catholic charities.


    Italy put the Vatican on its “white list” of states with cooperative financial institutions in 2017, ending years of mistrust.

    Moneyval, a monitoring body of the Council of Europe, gave Vatican financial reforms a mostly positive evaluation in a review the same year.

    (This story fixes day of week in first paragraph.)

    Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Alex Richardson and Timothy Heritage

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  11. #11
    Holger Zschaepitz
    ž @Schuldensuehner
    11h11 hours ago

    Good morning from #France, which is competing w/Italy in neck-&-neck race for title of Debt King of Europe. French debt rose to record €2.36tn in Q1, only slightly behind Italy, which has accumulated €2.4tn. This yr, French debt has risen by €110bn, largest increase since 2010
    Attached Images
    Last edited by northern watch; 10-02-2019 at 11:20 AM.

  12. #12
    WTO $7.5B in tariffs on EU goods for Airbus case

    By Jamey Keaten, Associated Press
    GENEVA — October 2, 2019, 11:14 AM ET

    The World Trade Organization says the United States can impose tariffs on up to $7.5 billion worth of goods from the European Union as retaliation for illegal subsidies that the bloc gave to plane-maker Airbus _ a record award from the trade body.

    The move, culminating a 15-year standoff, will green-light the Trump administration to slap countermeasures on the 28-member bloc and follows a WTO ruling in May 2018 on the Airbus subsidies

    Wednesday's award doesn't end the long-running trans-Atlantic dispute over aircraft: WTO arbitrators are expected to rule next year about how much the EU can impose in tariffs following a separate decision that went against Boeing.

    The U.S. has already announced plans to impose tariffs on dozens of goods including EU cheeses, olives, and whiskey, as well as planes, helicopters and aircraft parts in the case — though the decision is likely to require fine-tuning of that list.

    The tariffs can take effect no earlier than mid-October because a key WTO panel needs to formally sign off on them first. But they will likely have an impact on agricultural and other sectors of the European economy, at a time when other tariff battles have dented global trade growth.

    The EU’s top trade official responded to the announcement by saying the bloc would prefer to reach a settlement with the United States to avoid a tariff war — but it will respond if President Donald Trump imposes new duties on EU products.

    EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said a tariff war “would only inflict damage on businesses and citizens on both sides of the Atlantic, and harm global trade and the broader aviation industry at a sensitive time.”

    “If the U.S. decides to impose WTO authorized countermeasures, it will be pushing the EU into a situation where we will have no other option than to do the same,” she said.

    Italy's Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, who was meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Rome on Wednesday, vowed to “defend our businesses.” Italian wine and cheeses could face an impact from U.S. tariffs.

    The award is the largest among about two dozen at the WTO since it was created nearly 25 years ago. The previous record of $4 billion came in 2002, when the WTO ruled against the U.S. over the Foreign Sales Corporation law, saying it had allowed for illegal subsidies to some U.S. businesses.

    Unlike Trump’s unilateral tariffs on billions of dollars-worth of steel, aluminum and other goods from China, the EU and elsewhere, the retaliatory tariffs authorized in the Airbus case have the stamp of approval from the WTO, an organization that he has repeatedly criticized.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged “we have lost a matter under WTO law.”

    “This means it’s not some sort of arbitrary question but a verdict according to international law that now weighs on Airbus, one must sadly say,” she told reporters in Berlin. “We have to see how the Americans will react now.”

    A May 2018 WTO ruling in the case found EU "launch aid" for Airbus had resulted in lost sales for Boeing in the twin-aisle and very-large-aircraft markets. The ruling centered on Airbus' 350XWB — a rival of Boeing's 787 — and the double-decker A380, which tops the Boeing 747 as the world's largest commercial passenger plane.

    The case itself dates to 2004, a testament to the plodding and thorough rhythm of the Geneva-based trade body.

    The Trump administration has been demanding reform of the WTO, and has been blocking new appointments to its crucial Appellate Body — which could be rendered inactive in December unless the U.S. gets its way.

    The WTO is already examining a dozen cases involving U.S. tariffs and countermeasures brought by its trading partners over the administration’s steel and aluminum tariffs. Trump has insisted the move is needed to protect U.S. national security interests, but the Europeans claim it is simply protectionism and breaks global trade rules.

    The EU has introduced "rebalancing" tariffs on about 2.8 billion euros ($3 billion) of U.S. steel, agricultural and other products. Trump has also threatened to slap duties on European automakers.


    AP Writers Lorne Cook in Brussels, Frank Jordans in Berlin, and Giada Zampano in Rome contributed to this report.

  13. #13
    Holger Zschaepitz
    ž @Schuldensuehner
    9h9 hours ago

    Negative interest rates are a hidden tax. But the #ECB has no authority at all to levy taxes, acc to a new report.
    Attached Images

  14. #14
    Dutch farmers revolt, paralyzing roads with mass protests against environmental directives

    By Arthur Lyons
    Voice of Europe
    2 October 2019

    The Netherlands saw massive traffic jams over 1,000km long on the roads toward the Hague on Tuesday as thousands of farmers descended on the city to stage mass demonstrations on their tractors.

    The mass demonstration was triggered by a recent proposal by the D66 party, a member of the governing coalition, which suggested that livestock farming should be reduced considerably to reduce nitrogen emissions.

    Jesse Klaver, the leader of GroenLinks (Greens), and D66 leader Rob Jetten, both have proposed that farmers halve their livestock.

    Farming organizations say that their members are tired of being characterized by the mainstream globalist press, left-wing activists, and liberal politicians as ‘environmental criminals’ for producing the country’s food, Dutch News NL reports.

    “Farmers and growers are sick of being painted as a ‘problem’ that needs a ‘solution,’” Dick Bruins the agricultural industry group LTO,” said in a statement.
    “Suddenly everyone is worried. We’re getting blamed and badly represented in the media, everyone is blaming us for climate change but planes are worse than farmers and no-one is talking about them,” Vincent, a 17-year-old dairy farmer told journalists at the BBC.

    Similarly to the public support enjoyed by the French Yellow Vests, these protests are reported to have widespread support throughout all sectors of Dutch society.

    PVV, VVD, ChristenUnie, and CDA all came out to support the farmers. Pieter Heerma, the parliamentary party chairman of the CDA referred to the occasion as a ‘historic’ one.

    Populist PVV leader Geert Wilders climbed a tractor to deliver his speech armies of farmers, assuring food producers that they are “ the heroes of society” and remain widely respected by citizens.

    Wilders took the opportunity to tell the farmers that they have played an integral role in lowering nitrogen emissions, but instead of being recognized for it, they’re being threatened with bankruptcy and scapegoated as polluters and animal rights abusers.

  15. #15
    Aki Heikkinen
    ‏ @akihheikkinen
    5h5 hours ago

    US Forces will lead the biggest exercise in 25 years across the Atlantic in 2020 with about 20,000 soldiers. 16 other NATO states involved too.

    A full division will be deployed to Poland and Baltic thru Germany. #Defender2020 is like REFORGER lite

  16. #16

    Bulgaria, Greece and Cyprus in joint statement on migration situation in eastern Mediterranean
    By Clive Leviev-Sawyer/ Published on: 03/10/2019

    Bulgaria, Greece and Cyprus will make a joint statement on the importance of the migration situation in the eastern Mediterranean at the next meeting of the EU’s justice and home affairs council on October 7 and 8, Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry said.

    The Bulgarian media statement said that the three countries had three objectives.

    The first was to reiterate that the frontier countries along the Eastern Mediterranean Route are also facing the migration challenges Europe is facing.

    The second was to encourage European partners, the European Commission and other European institutions to take action and also address the persistently disproportionate migration challenges facing these countries, the statement said.

    The third was to emphasize the need for specific measures at EU level in the context of European solidarity and responsibility, with a fair distribution of burdens, through first-country relocation, a credible return-to-third-party policy and broader support for the EU countries directly concerned.

    In addition, the three countries support the effective implementation of the EU-Turkey Joint Statement of 2016 by guaranteeing effective returns, eradicating criminal networks for migrant trafficking to the EU, and preventing the redirection of flows and the emergence of new routes for illegal migration to Europe along maritime, land and air borders.

    In this regard, the three countries are calling on the EU and the other member states to give positive consideration to the possibility of providing additional financial resources to countries in the wider Eastern Mediterranean route.

    Sofia, Athens and Nicosia are also requesting additional financial resources to tackle the migration / refugee issue in the context of the next Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2026, the statement said./ibna

  17. #17

    Document leak: what ties Latvia’s ex-president, Biden’s son and PrivatBank together?

    money Ukrainian gas and oil company Burisma Holdings transferred to Rosemont Seneca company owned by US Vice-President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden, which is involved in the growing scandal that has already lead to an impeachment procedure for US President Donald Trump, went through Latvia’s PrivatBank, according to Rosemont Seneca’s account lists leaked to the internet.

    Last year, the now ex-President of Latvia Raimonds Vējonis had attended a forum in Monaco organized by an associate of Ukraine’s ex-president Viktor Yanukovich and owner of Burisma Holdings – Mykola Zlochevsky.

    The Hill reports that in the period of time between spring 2014 and autumn 2015, Rosemont Seneca was receiving more than USD 166 000 a month from Burisma Holdings.

    Rosemont Seneca’s leaked account reports from Morgan Stanley bank in New York mention that money transfer operations were performed using PrivatBank. USD 83 333.33 was transferred in a single operation.
    Hunter Biden was Burisma Holdings supervisory council member in a time when his father was the US Vice-President and was in charge of diplomatic relations with Ukraine during Barack Obama’s presidential term.

    Hunter, who is a lawyer by trade, agreed to become a member of Burisma Holdings supervisory council in April 2014, a couple of months after the so-called Maidan revolution. He left his post five years later – at the beginning of 2019.

    Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, ex-Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, who accuses the Bidens of corruption, has implied in one of his Tweets that Burisma Holdings may have laundered USD 3 million by transferring this amount from Ukraine through Latvia and Cyprus to USA.

    «Today though it’s the USD 3 million laundered payment, classical proof of guilty knowledge and intent, that was kept from you by Swamp Media. Ukraine-Latvia-Cyprus-US is a usual route for laundering money. […]» Giuliani tweeted.

    In a telephone conversation with Ukraine’s President Volodymir Zelensky on 25 July, US President Donald Trump urged his colleagues multiple times to investigate Burisma Holdings. He [Donald Trump] mentioned he suspects Biden may have succeeded halting the investigation. Donald Trump’s requests to his Ukrainian counterpart were allegedly the reason why the US Congress has commenced an impeachment investigation against the president.

    Although Biden’s possible involvement in a conflict of interests has caused some concern among anti-corruption activists, there is no proof of Biden or his son committing illegalities.

    In an interview to NV Radio, Ukraine’s Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office head Nazar Holodnitsky said the Bidens were not the objects of any of the prosecutor office’s investigations. Nevertheless, he confirmed that the investigation against Burisma Holdings was terminated in 2017 due to the lack of evidence. Hunter Biden was still an employee at the time. The court in Kyiv later overturned this decision. However, in spite of the court’s ruling, the case remains inactive and no investigation is performed.

    Giuliani also claims Joe Biden, hoping to protect his son, had influenced Ukrainian authorities to fire Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.

    Latvia’s Finance and Capital Market Commission (FKTK) senior public relations specialist Dace Jansone says the commission is not allowed to reveal any names and specific preventive measures. FKTK is also not allowed to comment on any findings. Nevertheless, she says FKTK performs regular supervision over banks. Upon finding violations or deviations, banks are applied with sanctions and specific duties, which usually involve improving internal control measures to prevent money laundering schemes and terrorism financing.

    Jansone reminds that as a result of inspections in 2015, 2017 and 2019, PrivatBank was applied with sanctions for poor internal control system, client evaluation and supervision of clients’ operations.

    According to data from FKTK, the commission had applied a fine of EUR 2 016 830 on PrivatBank in 2015. The bank was also ordered to replace its management board. Individual fines were also applied to the bank’s board members.

    So far it has not been possible to get a comment from PrivatBank about operations involving Burisma Holdings.

    Burisma Holdings is one of the largest gas production companies in Ukraine. The company was founded in 2002 by Zlochevsky, who is considered a friend and associate of Ukraine’s ex-president Viktor Yanukovich. Burisma Holdings owner is Cyprus offshore company Brociti Investments Limited owned by Zlochevsky.

    In 2010, Zlochevsky was appointed as Ukraine’s Ecology Minister in Yanukovich’s administration. Four years after Euro-Maidan he was forced to leave the country, when the Office of the Prosecutor General launched criminal cases against him and his companies over suspicions of tax avoidance.

    In 2014, as part of anti-corruption efforts British authorities arrested USD 23 million on Zlochevsky’s accounts, as reported by Guardian. British journalist and writer Oliver Bullough wrote in his book «Money Land» that this money came from Latvia and investigators took notice of this, because Zlochevsky had worked in government structures prior to Euro-Maidan.

    Nevertheless, Zlochevsky’s lawyers managed to save him from arrest. According to Ukrainian magazine Novoje vremja, corruption researchers are confident Ukrainian law enforcement had assisted him in this. The criminal case against Zlochevsky ended with payment of taxes performed by his company’s accountants.

    Novoje vremja writes that Zlochevsky has not only managed to terminate the case against him but also continues developing his business in Ukraine in spite of ongoing investigations of his activities there. In 2018 Zlochevsky held 11th place on the list of Ukraine’s wealthiest people, which is compiled by Novoje vremja together with Dragon Capital. His asset value is estimated at USD 636 million, which is 2.5 times more when compared to 2013, when he was first put on this list.

    Hunter Biden was appointed to Burisma Holdings supervisory council in April 2014 – two months after Yanukovich was overthrown.

    After fleeing Ukraine, Zlochevsky together with his partners founded Energy Security Forum, which is organized in Monaco every year. Officials and experts from Western Ukraine are invited to attend. In 2017 this forum was attended by two people close to then the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko. This, however, caused a scandal in Ukraine. Ukrainian officials have not attended the forum since then. The 2018 forum was, however, attended by then the President of Latvia Raimonds Vējonis, as reported by Novoje vremja. LETA had reported that Vējonis read a speech at the opening of the forum.

    Latvia’s ex-president remains tight-lipped as to the identity of the person who invited him to the forum and why he decided to participate.

  18. #18


    Reports: Paris Police Killer an Islamic Convert Enraged by Reprimand for Refusing to Deal with Women
    ParisMarc Piasecki/Getty Images
    JACK MONTGOMERY3 Oct 2019114
    The man who stabbed four people to death in the Paris police headquarters was a convert to Islam enraged by a reprimand from a female colleague, according to reports.
    IT worker Michael Harpon, 45, is said to have killed his female supervisor — who had previously reprimanded him for refusing to deal with women — with a ceramic blade, before going on to attack several other police personnel, leaving a total of four dead and one critically wounded before he was fatally shot in what has been described as a self-defence situation.

    “I know this man. He worked in IT and he had long-running problems with his superior. He stabbed her first and then colleagues intervened and were stabbed as well. I am told he then got hold of a firearm,” confirmed Christophe Crépin, a spokesman for a French police union, confirmed in comments to The Telegraph.

    Breitbart London
    Police Officer Stabbed During Terror Arrest In Paris

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    10:06 AM - Sep 9, 2016
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    The Paris prosecutor is treating the killings as ordinary crime rather than terrorism, although counter-terrorism officers have raided the home of Harpon, who was deaf and originally from Martinique in the Carribean, and arrested his wife Iham.

    “An investigation has been launched into a grudge the assailant may have held against his colleagues, but terrorism cannot be ruled out,” according to a source quoted by MailOnline.

    “Many of those involved in similar attacks on the police have been Muslim converts influenced by radical terrorist groups.”

    Breitbart London
    French Police Chief Stabbed To Death in Street

    French Head Municipal Police Officer Stabbed To Death in the Street
    Residents of the French city of Rodez are in shock following the fatal stabbing of police chief Pascal Filoé who was murdered in front of the city's town hall on Thursday morning.

  19. #19

    French Police Stage Massive 'Anger March' Over Working Conditions, Low Morale And Suicide Crisis
    Profile picture for user Tyler Durden
    by Tyler Durden
    Fri, 10/04/2019 - 04:15

    About 48 weeks of yellow vest violence has finally sent the French police force to their breaking point. Deteriorating working conditions, low morale, and a suicide crisis have taken a significant toll on officers. Conditions are so disturbing that tens of thousands of people, including many police officers, staged a protest this week in the streets of Paris over their frustrations, reported AFP.

    Police unions have warned since the yellow vest violence broke out, some 52 officers have committed suicide since January.

    Organizers of the protest said 27,000 police officers of all ranks came together on the streets of Paris on Wednesday.

    We're here to fight for our working conditions and above all to pay tribute to our colleagues who took their own lives," said Damien, a young police officer.

    Cyril Benoit, an officer with over two decades of service, said the yellow vest protests have severely stressed the force, triggering a wave of suicides in the last nine months.

    Benoit blamed "physical and psychological fatigue" and unwanted pressure from senior officers to meet unrealistic goals during the violent protests.

    "There's always been a bit of pressure on the police but never like this," he told AFP.

    Another office blamed the press for one-sided coverage of the protests, indicating that the media mostly showed police officers beating protests.

    "Television keeps replaying videos of (allegedly brutal) police actions but you don't see the paving stone that flew overhead seconds before," he said.

    "There is a deep sense that things can't go on like this," said David Bars, secretary-general of the police chief union SCPN-Unsa.

    "All the unions are aware that the police force is ill."

    Police have said they're under-equipped and understaffed for the next wave of violence.

    "There is a deep sense of despair," Le Bars told AFP. "All of the unions know that the police are sick with worry."

    One officer told Le Parisien, a French daily newspaper, that "We were heroes, but we've become zeros."

    Another officer told AFP on Wednesday, that he and fellow officers feel like the "dregs of society" at this point.

    Nearly every officer who spoke with AFP or French media gave false names, out of fear that their neighbors would retaliate against them.

    Christophe Castaner, the interior minister, has pledged deep reforms to help the country's ailing police force.

    And to make matters worse, social unrest is increasing at a time when France's economy is faltering. On top of everything else, a weak police force, angry citizens, and economic turmoil could make President Emmanuel Macron days numbered.

  20. #20

    Elections mark out Portugal as European political curiosity
    an hour ago

    LISBON, Portugal (AP) — No loud populists, no surging far-right groups, a liberal and migrant-welcoming Socialist Party tipped for a resounding win _ Portugal’s general election this weekend makes the country look like Europe’s odd man out.

    Across the European Union, radical new parties are reshaping the political landscape while Europe’s Socialist parties have lost ground in recent years.

    Deep differences over how to handle surging numbers of migrants, especially, have caused friction.

    In Portugal, however, political tradition is still what it used to be.

    The two mainstream parties are expected to garner most votes in Sunday’s ballot, with the center-left Socialist Party showing an opinion poll lead of at least 7 percentage points over the center-right Social Democratic Party.

    There is a broad consensus in Portugal that migrants are indispensable _ to fill unskilled jobs and help offset a demographic time bomb as a low birth rate depletes the national population. That has denied oxygen to nationalist parties, which have remained tiny and on the political fringe.

    Immigration is not even an election issue. That may be because the European Union’s migrant surge has largely bypassed Portugal.

    Hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants have crossed the Mediterranean from North Africa to southern Europe, triggering a backlash in Italy and Spain. Portugal doesn’t lie on those geographic routes, and as one of western Europe’s financially poorest countries its appeal to migrants is muted.

    The number of asylum-seekers in Germany and France, together numbering more than 300,000 last year, dwarf Portugal’s total, which barely reached four figures.

    If migration reached a similar scale in Portugal, the Portuguese could swiftly change their attitude, says Antonio Costa Pinto, a professor at Lisbon University’s Social Sciences Institute.

    There’s nothing making Portugal immune” to migrant controversies, he said.

    For now, though, the outlook is calm. Costa Pinto sees three reasons for Portugal’s lack of friction with migrants.

    Besides the fact that there are few of them on Portuguese streets, many arrivals are Portuguese-speaking migrants from Brazil and the country’s five former colonies in Africa, and that eases their integration.

    Also, over the last 50 years the Portuguese have emigrated in droves, making them sensitive to how migrants are treated.

    Serenah Sabat, a 26-year-old Palestinian asylum-seeker from Bethlehem, doesn’t need to be told that.

    She is the co-manager of Mezze, a restaurant at Lisbon’s Arroios market serving Middle eastern dishes, where 16 refugees work, most of them from Syria.

    Sabat says she is “astonished” by the welcome she has received over the past three years, comparing it favorably to her previous experiences in Belgium.

    She sees an economic quid pro quo in immigration, saying Portugal should aim to attract more migrants “to nourish the economy, because you need it, they need it.”

    That need is not lost on Antonio Costa, the Socialist prime minister for the last four years who is seeking re-election.

    Costa says one of his first legislative proposals if re-elected will be to make immigration easier, scrapping a quota system enacted by a previous Social Democrat government that linked migrant entries to labor market requirements.

    Costa says his plan is business-friendly: companies complain to him that they are short of unskilled workers, he says.

    Portugal “needs immigrants and more foreigners to do the work,” Costa says, especially in construction and tourism.

    The underlying problem is Portugal’s low birth rate, which threatens the financing of the welfare system as the population ages. At current fertility rates Portugal’s population will decline from 10.3 million this year to 6.6 million in 2100, the EU predicts.

    Migration can offset that problem, which the Socialists say they will make it a policy priority.

    Costa’s embrace of migrants hasn’t hurt his re-election chances, judging by the polls.

    His trump card remains the economy, however, which Costa Pinto, the Lisbon University professor, describes as delivering a “wonderful moment” for a politician seeking re-election.

    Economic growth has climbed under the Socialists, from 0.19% in 2014 to 2.1% in 2018, while unemployment has fallen by half to around 6%.

    With protest votes in Portugal traditionally going to fuel the abstention rate _ turnout at the last election in 2015 was a new record low of 57% _ rather than radical fringe parties, it won’t be an anti-migrant vote that loses the ballot for Costa.

    “I can’t say there’s no racism or xenophobia. They exist everywhere,” says Hugo Vaz, a 33-year-old cinema technician sitting at a table at Mezze. “I don’t know if we should take in more migrants, but all EU countries should take in their fair share.”

  21. #21

    Chances of Swiss-EU treaty deal this month have vanished, sources say
    Michael Shields
    3 MIN READ

    BERN (Reuters) - Switzerland has abandoned hopes of reaching an agreement with the European Union on a new treaty this month, frustrated by its inability to forge domestic consensus on how to its approach its biggest foreign policy issue.

    Officials involved in the matter say informal talks continue and a window for an agreement remains open until mid-2020 because neither side wants to declare the treaty dead.

    But Swiss domestic squabbling have undermined efforts to strike a deal. The Swiss are divided over EU demands that they dilute rules protecting their wages, the highest in Europe, from cross-border competition by EU workers on temporary assignments.

    A Swiss referendum that could come in May on ending the free movement of people from the EU — Switzerland’s “Brexit moment” — discourages bold action.

    And then there is Brexit itself. No Swiss-EU accord will emerge until Britain’s chaotic departure from the bloc is settled, because Brussels has been loath to give the Swiss concessions that Britain might seize on, the officials say.

    The logjam is intact before Swiss parliamentary elections on Oct. 20 and a new European Commission headed by Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen takes office at the start of next month.

    Progress on the treaty stalled last year after more than four years of negotiations. The terms of the proposed agreement called for Switzerland to routinely adopt the rules of the EU single market — vital for the export-reliant Swiss economy — and provide a more effective way to resolve disputes.

    It ran aground amid opposition that spanned the normally pro-Europe center-left to the anti-EU far right. Critics say the treaty infringes Swiss sovereignty to the extent that it would never get through parliament or pass a referendum under Switzerland’s direct democracy.

    President Ueli Mauer of the far-right Swiss People’s Party is seeking to meet von der Leyen, whom he knows from when both were defense ministers of their neighboring countries.

    But without a commitment from Maurer’s cabinet colleagues to press ahead, a summit would bear little fruit while the clock ticks toward more retaliatory steps from Brussels.

    Dismayed by Swiss foot-dragging, the European Commission has already barred EU-based investors from trading on Swiss stock exchanges — a measure the Swiss circumvented by outlawing the trading of Swiss shares on EU markets.

    The EU might also retaliate by making it harder next year for Swiss-made medical devices to be sold in the EU, or by freezing Swiss academics out of the Horizon research program.

    Unlike Britain, Switzerland has a patchwork of sectoral accords with the EU that remain in place even if the treaty talks fail. But they will gradually lose relevance as EU rules evolve, slowly eroding Swiss access to the single market.

    Reporting by Michael Shields, editing by Larry King

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  22. #22
    Babak Taghvaee
    ‏ @BabakTaghvaee
    Oct 3

    The convert who carried-out the terrorist attack in a #French Police HQ in #Paris is identified as "Michael Harpon" . He had been radicalized by his Muslim wife.

  23. #23

    U.S. warns Turkey over offshore drilling near Cyprus
    David Brunnstrom, Renee Maltezou
    4 MIN READ

    ATHENS (Reuters) - There are rules in exploring energy resources in the Mediterranean Sea, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday, warning Turkey not to engage in drilling activity that is “illegal” and “unacceptable”.

    We’ve made clear that operations in international waters are governed by a set of rules. We’ve told the Turks that illegal drilling is unacceptable and we’ll continue to take diplomatic actions to ... ensure that lawful activity takes place,” he said during a visit to Greece.

    “No country can hold Europe hostage,” Pompeo told a press briefing.

    Tensions between Cyprus and Turkey over offshore drilling have intensified after Ankara sent a drilling ship to an area already licensed by Nicosia to Italian and French energy companies.

    Earlier on Saturday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis urged the United States to use its clout to defuse tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, where Cyprus and Turkey are locked in a dispute over offshore rights.

    Mitsotakis told Pompeo that Turkish moves south of the island in recent days were a “flagrant violation” of Cyprus’ sovereign rights.

    Turkey and Greece are allies in NATO but long at loggerheads over Cyprus, which has been ethnically split between Greek and Turkish Cypriots since 1974.

    The United States have a particular interest in the Eastern Mediterranean region. Cyprus is only asking for the self-evident, the implementation of international law,” Mitsotakis told Pompeo, who is visiting Greece on the last leg of a trip to southern Europe.

    Pompeo referred to the issue after meeting Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. He said the United States would work to help the parties involved find mutually agreeable solutions and that it was eager to extend its partnership with Greece on energy issues.

    Ankara says some of the areas where Cyprus is exploring are either on its own continental shelf or in zones where Turkish Cypriots have equal rights over any finds with Greek Cypriots.

    A Turkish drill ship, the Yavuz, is currently 50 nautical miles off Cyprus. Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said on Saturday that drilling would start “as soon as possible”.

    In his remarks, Pompeo also said that the relationship between Greece and the United States “has truly never been stronger” and that he was very confident that Greece can be a pillar for stability in this region.

    But he also added that he was concerned about Chinese investments in infrastructure, an issue also raised during his visit to North Macedonia on Friday. Greece and the United States have traditionally close relations even though many blame Washington for its tacit support to a military junta that ruled Greece between 1967 and 1974. Protest marches to the U.S. Embassy are an annual event.

    Slideshow (9 Images)
    As Pompeo visited town, groups of protesters marching to the U.S. Embassy on Saturday clashed with police, who fired teargas to disperse them.

    Earlier, several hundred demonstrators had gathered in Athens’s main Syntagma square, chanting “Americans, Murderers of Peoples” to protest against the amendment of a defense agreement between the two countries concerning U.S. military bases in Greece.

    They held banners reading “Pompeo go home - No to the Greece-USA agreement”.

    Additional reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen and Alkis Konstantidis; Writing by Michele Kambas; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Frances Kerry

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  24. #24
    Boy, it makes you wonder if US banks get as much scrutiny on money laundering as the European banks have gotten recently. Maybe they should!

    Swedbank: Estonian branch needs to investigate money laundering scandal

    LETA Latviski English По-русски Saturday 05.10.2019 | Name days: Amālija

    EURIBOR: | 0.0000 [3] RIGIBOR: 0.2600 | 0.0000 [3]
    Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia > Baltics > Swedbank: Estonian branch needs to investigate money laundering scandal
    Swedbank: Estonian branch needs to investigate money laundering scandal
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    October 4, 2019
    Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUChairman of Swedish Swedbank council Göran Persson stressed during his visit to Estonia that the bank needs to determine the reasons behind problems so that it is possible to leave the scandal with money laundering and the stain on the bank’s reputation in the past.

    At a press conference in Tallinn on Friday, 4 October, Persson admitted that the money laundering scandal that began at the beginning of the year is a serious problem for the bank because its operations are based on values.

    He said Swedbank is already associated with this scandal in the minds of many people. Persson, who was Sweden’s prime minister between 1996 and 2006 and only recently started working in the bank’s board as chairman, is committed to fixing this situation.

    «We have to deal with this problem. We have to leave it in the past,» he said.
    He also said that to accomplish this it is necessary to fight against money laundering, and Swedbank is prepared to spend considerable amounts of money on this. Persson says to determine the truth Swedbank is prepared to review millions of operations and billions of euros that flowed through the bank’s accounts between 2005 and 2007.

    He also stressed that people should not be naļve, as similar problems could surface again soon. Swedbank’s council chairman added that the bank and its clients should prepare for new challenges when violations are uncovered in the field of money laundering prevention. Thusly he promised to cooperate with financial sector’s supervisors and other institutions.

    He also said Estonia represents a very important market, where Swedbank plans to not only remain but also expand.
    Aside from Persson, Swedbank’s newly-elected president and CEO Jens Henriksson and temporary CFO Anders Karlsson also arrived in Estonia. All of them met with Estonia’s Prime Minister Jüri Ratas on Friday, 4 October.

    On Thursday, 3 October, Swedbank group representatives met with governor of the Bank of Estonia Madis Müller, Finance Minister Martin Helme, as well as the head of Estonia’s Financial Services Supervisory Institution Kilvar Kessler.

    On Monday, 30 September, Estonian Swedbank office announced that its head Robert Kitt, financial director Vaiko Tammeväli and private customer office manager Kaie Metsla will leave their posts. The bank explained reason for the termination of relations with them lies in the results of internal investigation. The investigation was launched following the news of suspicious monetary operations between Swedbank and Danske Bank’s Baltic offices.

    More on this topic: Amid investigations, Swedbank admits shortcomings in anti-money laundering work

    Kitt and Tammeväli were dismissed from their posts on 17 June. Risk assessment director Olavi Lepp and financial investments director Anna Kõuts were picked as temporary replacements.

    Swedish public television SVT had reported news of suspicious operations having been performed between Danske Bank and Swedbank’s Baltic structures between 2007 and 2015. The suspicious amount of money reaches EUR 3.7 million. Approximately 50 clients involved in these operations were offshore companies and corporate clients who did not perform any actual commercial operations.

  25. #25
    US, Greece sign revised defense cooperation agreement

    By Matthew Lee, AP Diplomatic Writer
    ATHENS, Greece — October 5, 2019, 3:38 PM ET

    The United States and Greece on Saturday signed a revised defense cooperation pact, which Americans officials described as critical to responding to new security challenges in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

    The deal provides for increasing joint U.S.-Greece and NATO activity at Larissa, Stefanovikio, and Alexandroupoli as well as infrastructure and other improvements at the Souda Bay naval base.

    "Greece can play an important strategic role here in the region," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. "This is a dynamic region, with lots going on, lots of change taking place, and we are very confident that together, we can work to ensure that Greece can be a pillar for stability in this region."

    Mitsotakis referred to recent attempts by Turkey to drill for gas in waters where Cyprus has exclusive economic rights and European energy companies are already licensed to conduct a search. He said the need for the updated agreement was underscored by actions in the Aegean Sea and the eastern Mediterranean that "question the sovereign rights of Greece and Cyprus, violating international law."

    "We've made clear that operations in international waters are governed by a set of rules," Pompeo said later after meeting with his Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias.

    "We have told the Turks that illegal drilling is unacceptable, and we'll continue to take diplomatic action to make sure that we do as we do always: ensure that the lawful activity takes place in every space where international law governs. ... We're working to get ... everyone to de-escalate and find a set of outcomes that are mutually agreeable," Pompeo added.

    Two protests were staged in Athens against Pompeo's meeting Saturday.

    The largest, by pro-communist trade unionists, was attended by 5,000 people, according to local police, and ended outside the U.S. Embassy, where protesters burned American and NATO flags before dispersing

    On the way, protesters twice threw paint at the statue of a former American president, Harry S. Truman, who had helped Greece overcome a communist insurgency in the late 1940s. Police responded with tear gas.

  26. #26
    Gregor Peter‏ @L0gg0l · 7h7 hours ago

    Reports that Cyprus military put on alert as Turkish drilling ships arrive in Cypriot EEZ. France and Italy also not happy as block 7 of the field was licensed to ENI and Total (via @alertchannel)

  27. #27
    20,000 US troops to go to Europe for 2020 training exercise

    By The Associated Press
    BERLIN — October 7, 2019, 10:50 AM ET

    The U.S. military says it's preparing a massive exercise early next year in Europe involving 20,000 soldiers from the U.S., the largest deployment across the Atlantic in more than 25 years for training.

    U.S. European Command said Monday the "Defender Europe 20" exercise from April to May 2020 will support NATO objectives "to build readiness within the alliance and deter potential adversaries." Eighteen countries are expected to take part in exercises across 10 countries, including Germany, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Georgia.

    It will also involve 9,000 more Americans already stationed in Europe and 8,000 European troops.

    The military says the exercise "confirms that the U.S. commitment to NATO and the defense of Europe remains ironclad."

    President Donald Trump has worried many NATO members with comments that the trans-Atlantic alliance is "obsolete."

  28. #28

    Paper: US, Baltics agree to protect energy infrastructure from cyberattacks

    ERR News
    Today at 05.24
    Baltic Ministers and US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry signing the agreement.
    Baltic Ministers and US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry signing the agreement. Source: Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications.
    Postimees and BNS reported on Monday that Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the United States of America had agreed to increase protection of the Baltic energy grid from cyberattacks as they disconnect from the Russian electricity grid.

    Estonian Minister of Economy and Infrastructure Taavi Aas, Lithuanian Minister of Energy Zygimantas Vaiciunas, US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, and Latvian Minister of Economy Ralfs Nemiro signed cooperation agreements in Vilnius on Monday, and called the agreement "a critical moment for the Baltic States in strengthening cybersecurity" in strategic energy infrastructure.

    "We see a crucial role that US could play in assisting the Baltic States with strategic and technical support," the four officials said (link in English) in a joint declaration signed in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.

    Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia are on track to integrate into the European energy grid by 2025, breaking their dependence on the Russian grid.

    Despite joining the European Union and NATO in 2004, the Baltic states are still part of a Russian-controlled power grid.


    Download the ERR News app for Android and iOS now and never miss an update!

    Editor: Helen Wright

  29. #29

    Antonio Costa's Socialists win Portuguese election
    The incumbent Socialist Party managed to benefit from the country's growing economy. Portugal is one of the few European countries where right-wing populists remain insignificant.

    Prime Minister Antonio Costa's Socialists (PS) came out on top of parliamentary elections held Sunday in Portugal, winning 36.5% of the vote. The party managed to expand its number of mandates in the 230-seat parliament but fell short of winning an absolute majority. Costa has announced his plan to continue heading a minority government.

    Costa, a 58-year-old trained lawyer, declared victory, saying "we accept the task of ruling Portugal for the next four years with determination and responsibility."

    The main opposition party, the center-right Social Democrats (PSD) fell from 89 to 77 seats. Right-wing populists managed to win one seat in parliament — a first in a country where right-wing populist parties play no significant role.

    Costa, a former mayor of Lisbon, will need to seek support from other parties.

    Over the previous legislative period, PS had been supported by the Marxist Left Bloc (BE) and the Green-Communist alliance, without a formal coalition agreement.

    Portugal has been back on its feet economically since 2014 after accepting a bailout three years prior in the wake of the global financial crisis. A tourism boom has helped unemployment to its lowest levels since 2002. Costa has been lauded for balancing the budget without losing the support of the leftist parties that have propped up his government.

    rg, es/dr (AP, Reuters, AFP)

  30. #30

    Italian lawmakers back overhaul to reduce their seats

    ROME (AP) — Italian lawmakers have backed a radical overhaul of the country’s parliament that will see around a third of them losing their job.

    The long-awaited reform, overwhelmingly approved Tuesday by the lower house, will see the total number of lawmakers slashed by about a third, from 945 to 600.

    The vote, which is the final one in the parliamentary process, was 553 votes in favor against 14 against.

    Italy has the second-highest number of lawmakers in Europe after the U.K., with 630 elected lawmakers in the lower house and 315 in the Senate. The reform is set to be implemented after the next scheduled elections in 2023, though there are potentially further hurdles to clear, including a possible referendum.

    The reduction was a flagship proposal of the anti-establishment 5-Stars, which in August forged an uneasy ruling coalition with the country’s center-left Democrats.

    “For the first time we have seen lawmakers cutting their own seats,” said 5-Star leader Luigi Di Maio.

    Italy’s Premier Giuseppe Conte hailed the decision as “a historic day for Italy.”

    Since their birth, the 5-Stars have pledged to tackle wasteful spending and say the cut will deliver savings of around 300,000 euros ($330,000) a day.

    Critics say it’s a tiny saving in the grand scheme of things. Italy’s overall debt stands at around 130% of its annual GDP. Only Greece’s debt burden is higher among the 19 European Union countries that use the euro currency.

    They also warn that cutting the chambers’ size could end up hindering democratic representation.

    The overhaul, which was voted by both the ruling parties and most of the opposition, could still be challenged in a referendum, with opponents warning that it could favor powerful lobbies, giving them a stronger influence on a slimmer parliament.

  31. #31

    Several EU countries refuse to back migrant boat plan

    BRUSSELS (AP) — A large majority of European Union member countries have refused to back a plan to quickly get migrants off boats in the Mediterranean Sea and distribute them among willing EU partners.

    At a meeting of EU interior ministers, only Ireland, Luxembourg and Portugal offered to take part in the “fast-track” plan drawn up by Germany, France, Italy and Malta, which would screen migrants, relocate asylum-seekers and return people who do not apply or qualify for asylum, all within four weeks.

    “We were seven yesterday, seven this morning and seven this evening. So things haven’t changed much,” said a downbeat Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg’s minister responsible for migration. “Why us, and why no one else?”

    For more than a year, humanitarian ships that have picked up migrants from Libya in unseaworthy boats were blocked from docking or disembarking passengers in Italy or Malta. Italy’s former anti-migrant interior minister even threatened to jail the crews of charity-run rescue ships.

    The stance taken by the two countries resulted in standoffs that kept rescued migrants at sea for weeks until other EU nations pledged to take at least some of the people seeking safety or better lives in Europe.

    Tuesday’s meeting in Luxembourg had been meant to gauge enthusiasm for the temporary plan, in which countries would make “pre-declared pledges” on how many asylum-seekers they would accept. Details of the scheme are sketchy, but it would operate for at least six months, unless migrant arrivals increase dramatically.

    Earlier, France’s European affairs minister, Amelie de Montchalin, had claimed that several countries were willing to accept asylum-seekers.

    " Ithink there are around 10 countries that are ready to play the game. Perhaps others,” she told reporters. “We are going to be able to say that when a boat arrives, we know who to call and that there are countries ready to send teams in.”

    But Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese said that those who agreed to take part “are those three or four states that had already said they were available, like Luxembourg and Ireland.” She said she hoped that more EU partners would sign on by the end of the year.

    Asselborn said he understood why Spain and Sweden might not take part, given the migration challenges they are facing, but he said those that opposed migrant-sharing quotes in the past — countries like Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia — “remain against it.”

    Well over a million migrants arrived in the EU in 2015, most of them refugees from countries at war like Syria or Iraq, sparking one of Europe’s biggest political crises as nations bickered over who should take responsibility for them and how much others should be forced to help.

    New arrivals have now dropped to their lowest levels in about seven years, particularly between Libya and Italy, but EU countries are still unable to agree on the best way forward, and far-right and anti-migrant parties have taken advantage of the confusion.

    Finnish Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo, whose country holds the EU’s rotating presidency until Dec. 31, said that temporary arrangements like the new plan appear to be the only solution for now until a new executive team at the European Commission takes office in November.

    She noted that sorely-needed reform of the EU’s asylum system “has been stuck for years.”

    Ahead of the Luxembourg talks, human rights group Amnesty International underlined that it is important to avoid “yet another obscene standoff at sea.”

    A strong agreement will help save lives and demonstrate that EU countries are committed to working together to uphold basic values and international obligations,” said Amnesty migration researcher, Matteo de Bellis.


    AP Writer Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.

  32. #32

    NEWSOCTOBER 9, 2019 / 11:53 AM / UPDATED 4 HOURS AGO
    Poland's ruling party keeps lead before Sunday vote: poll
    1 MIN READ

    WARSAW (Reuters) - A coalition headed by Poland’s ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party has kept its lead over its rivals ahead of Sunday’s parliamentary elections, a poll suggested.

    The PiS-led coalition enjoyed 44.3% support, roughly twice as much as the 22.7% that backed the rival Civic Coalition, which includes the Civic Platform (PO) party, according to the poll by IBRiS for website Onet.

    The leftist bloc Lewica had 13.8% and PSL/Kukiz’15 had 6.2% in the survey published on Wednesday.

    Poland, the biggest post-communist member of the European Union, will hold elections to the lower and upper houses of parliament on Oct. 13 after four years of PiS rule.

    Reporting by Alan Charlish; Editing by Andrew Heavens

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  33. #33

    Gunman kills two in livestreamed attack at German synagogue
    Thomas Escritt, Stephan Schepers
    5 MIN READ

    BERLIN/HALLE, Germany (Reuters) - A gunman who denounced Jews opened fire outside a German synagogue on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, and killed two people as he livestreamed his attack.

    Several German media outlets said the perpetrator acted alone on Wednesday in the eastern German city of Halle. He fatally shot a woman outside the synagogue and a man inside a nearby kebab shop.

    Two other people were seriously injured, but regional broadcaster MDR said their condition was not critical.

    Police said they had detained one person, reported by German magazines Spiegel and Focus Online to be a 27-year-old German named Stephan B. His full name cannot be published under German privacy laws.

    Video broadcast on Amazon’s gaming subsidiary Twitch showed a young man with a shaven head first reciting a short statement in broken English while sitting in a parked car.

    “I think the Holocaust never happened,” he began, before adding “feminism is the cause of decline in birth rates in the West” and mentioning mass immigration. He concluded: “The root of all these problems is the Jew.”

    A spokeswoman for Amazon said Twitch “worked with urgency to remove this content and will permanently suspend any accounts found to be posting or reposting content of this abhorrent act.”

    In the video, the man drove to the synagogue, found the gates shut and unsuccessfully sought to force the gates open. He then shot several rounds at a woman passer-by.

    “We saw via the camera system at our synagogue that a heavily armed perpetrator with a steel helmet and a gun tried to shoot open our doors,” Max Privorozki, Halle’s Jewish community chairman, told the Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper.

    “We barricaded the doors from inside and waited for the police,” he said, adding that about 70 to 80 people were inside the synagogue observing Yom Kippur, known as the Day of Atonement which is marked by fasting and solemn prayer.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a gathering at the New Synagogue in Berlin, Germany, October 9, 2019, after two people were killed in a shooting in the eastern German city of Halle. REUTERS/Christian Mang
    Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government voiced outrage over the attack on Yom Kippur and urged tougher action against anti-Semitic violence.

    Merkel visited a Berlin synagogue, outside which around 200 people - some of them holding Israeli flags and candles - held a vigil. Merkel’s spokesman tweeted: “We must oppose any form of anti-Semitism.”

    Rifat Tekin, who worked at the Halle kebab outlet, said he was making a kebab for two construction workers when a perpetrator threw an explosive at the restaurant before shooting.

    He was very calm, like a professional,” Tekin told n-tv television. “He didn’t say anything. He just kept coming and shooting ... I was hiding behind the salad counter.”

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent condolences to the victims’ families and said in a Twitter post: “The terrorist attack against the community in Halle in Germany on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of our nation, is yet another expression that anti-Semitism is growing in Europe.”

    “I call upon the authorities in Germany to continue to work determinedly against the phenomenon of anti-Semitism.”

    Anti-semitism is a particularly sensitive issue in Germany, which during World War Two was responsible for the genocide of 6 million Jews in the Nazi Holocaust. Around 200,000 Jews live today in the country of around 83 million people.

    Slideshow (26 Images)
    Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said the shooting was anti-Semitic, adding: “According to the federal prosecutors’ office, there are enough indications that it was possibly a right-wing extremist motive.”

    Despite comprehensive de-Nazification in the post-war era, fears of resurgent anti-Semitic hatred have never completely gone away, whether from fringe, far-right neo-Nazis or more recently from Muslim immigrants.

    Occasional past attacks have ranged from the scrawling of Nazi swastikas on gravestones to firebombings at synagogues and even several murders. In recent years, cases of assault or verbal abuse, in some cases directed against people wearing traditional Jewish skullcaps, have raised an outcry.

    Additional reporting by Tassilo Hummel, Joseph Nasr, Thomas Escritt, Riham Alkousaa, Gabi Sajonz-Grimm, Michelle Martin, Elizabeth Culliford and Stephen Farrell; Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Thomas Escritt, Mark Heinrich and Cynthia Osterman

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  34. #34
    In historic sale, Greek debt carries negative interest rate

    By Nicholas Paphitis, Associated Press
    ATHENS, Greece — October 9, 2019, 2:50 PM ET

    More than a year after Greece exited its bailout programs, investors made history in the country Wednesday by buying its short-term debt at a negative yield, meaning they volunteered at least in theory to get less money back than they paid.

    Greece's debt management agency said it raised 487.5 million euros ($535 million) selling 13-week treasury bills for which the yield was -0.02%. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the sale of bills with a negative yield was a first for Greece..

    "To put it simply, we're being paid to borrow money," Mitsotakis told his center-right party's lawmakers.

    Other European countries offer even measlier returns on their treasury bills.

    Lending at a loss, however small, appears daft. But many investors see government bonds as a safe place to channel excess liquidity amid global instability and stock market turmoil; the negative yield means they are willing to pay a fee for that safety.

    Negative rates in Greece and elsewhere in Europe also result from European Central Bank monetary stimulus. The bank plans a new round of bond purchases, which would pump newly printed money into the economy to support stronger inflation and growth.

    The expected purchases have driven government bond prices up and yields, which move in the opposite direction, down into negative territory at times.

    Large swaths of the European government bond market trade in negative territory. Germany sold a 30-year bond at a negative yield.

    With more negative yields on the debts of other countries, Greece offers better terms for those determined to buy short-term debt.

    At the start of its financial crisis, in 2010, Greece was locked out of bond markets as investors feared they wouldn't get their money back. Bondholders were in fact later forced to accept large losses on their investments.

    From then until August 2018 Greece survived on international bailouts that were provided on the condition the country balanced its budget, cut spending, increased tax revenues and reformed the economy.

    Greece's borrowing costs have declined steadily this year but remain higher than those of other European countries that went through recent financial rough patches, such as Italy, Spain, Cyprus and Portugal.

    The improved economy and better budget execution lower the perceived risk for investors interested in buying Greek debt, particularly short-term. Nevertheless, the country's credit rating is still well below investment grade.

    Analyst Manos Chadzidakis, the head of research at Beta Securities, said the decline in Greek yields would benefit domestic corporate borrowing costs, which rocketed during the financial crisis.

    "It's a good window of opportunity for companies," he said.

    On Tuesday, Greece raised 1.5 billion euros ($1.65 billion) by reopening a bond issue that was Greece's first of benchmark 10-year bonds since 2010. The sale carried a yield of 1.5%, substantially lower than the 3.9% yield for the main issue in March.


    David McHugh in Frankfurt contributed to this story.

  35. #35
    EU Must Learn ‘Language of Power’, Needs Army of 60,000: Eurocrat

    Victoria Friedman / Europe
    9 October 2019

    The EU’s incoming security chief has said the bloc needs a standing army of 60,000 soldiers that Brussels can deploy around the world.

    Josep Borrell said at a European Parliament hearing into his candidacy as vice president for foreign affairs and security on Monday: “The European Union has to learn to use the language of power.”

    The 72-year-old Spanish socialist continued that the European lawmakers should “reinforce the EU’s international role and further our military capacity to act”.

    He called for Brussels to raise the number of troops to at least 55,000 to 60,000. Such a force would be larger than the standing armies of Portugal (35,000) or the Netherlands (43,000).

    “We should pull our national sovereignties together to multiply the power of individual member states. And I am convinced that if we don’t act together, Europe will become irrelevant in the new coming world,” he added.

    Brussels currently has “battlegroups” of 3,000 soldiers from across militaries of EU Member States, according to The Telegraph. The battlegroups are on standby every six months but have not, to date, been used. To increase those forces by twenty-fold and make them permanent, Brussels would need the unanimous support of Member States.

    Brexit Party leader and MEP Nigel Farage raised the alarm over the calls for a permanent EU army. He said: “The EU is now aiming for an army of 60,000 and incoming foreign policy boss Josep Borrell says: ‘the EU has to learn to use the language of power.’

    “When will Remainers stop lying about the intentions of this dangerous, undemocratic state?”

    In 2015, then-leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg called the notion of an EU army a “dangerous fantasy” and ridiculed Mr Farage for saying that the force was the next step in EU empire-building.

    However, in November 2017, Eurosceptics were proven right when the majority of EU nations signed the Permanent Structured Cooperation process (PESCO).

    The document is instrumental to European Defence Union plans which were devised by outgoing President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, who supports the foundation of a “fully-fledged” EU army by 2025.

    Last year, French President Emmanuel Macron called for a “real European army” to “protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America”. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the European Commission enthusiastically backed the idea.

    Pro-Brexit group Veterans for Britain has warned that even when the UK leaves the EU, it could still get pulled into defence projects with the bloc. Senior figures met with the European Research Group on Tuesday to brief the group of Eurosceptic Tories on the defence implications of the proposed withdrawal treaty.

    A Veterans for Britain source told the Express: “The Prime Minister may have got rid of the backstop but that was not the only thing that was wrong with the Withdrawal Agreement.

    “The defence element is a serious threat to our sovereignty but this issue has been completely overlooked.”

    ERG Chairman Steve Baker said the UK must “escape commitments to the EU’s Defence Union. Many of us are concerned but it’s not too late to preserve the independence of our Armed Forces.”

  36. #36
    If border controls are holding up Brexit, how in the world are Denmark and Sweden going to get away with this because of "Swedes "?

    Denmark sets up temporary border control with Sweden after attacks

    COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark is to impose temporary border controls at the Swedish border next month, after Swedes were suspected of being behind a number of serious attacks this year in the Danish capital Copenhagen, the justice minister said on Thursday.

    Sweden, which itself has had controls at the border since 2015 to try to stop asylum seekers from entering the country, welcomed the move.

    Denmark is connected to Sweden via the Oresund bridge across a 16 km (10-mile) strait. Thousands of citizens commute across the border daily.

    Two Swedish nationals are currently in custody in Denmark suspected of involvement in an explosion outside the Danish Tax Agency in August. Five Swedes are also in custody in Denmark on suspicion of carrying out two killings in a Copenhagen suburb in June. They have yet to be formally charged.

    August’s attack prompted Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen to say at the time that she considered strengthening controls at its border with Sweden.

    “To counter the threat of serious cross-border crime, we are now strengthening the protection of the border against Sweden by introducing temporary border control and strengthening police efforts in border areas with Sweden,” Justice Minister Nick Haekkerup said at a news conference on Thursday.

    The controls will begin on Nov. 12, he said, adding police would aim to avoid causing delays for the commuters.

    Both countries are members of the European Union, which needs to approve the move.

    Sweden applauded Denmark’s action and said it was looking into the possibility of giving police more access to operate in border areas, including camera surveillance of vehicles

    “We welcome that Denmark is taking action to fight crime in the Oresund region,” Sweden’s Minister for Home Affairs Mikael Damberg said in a statement.

    Violent crime in Sweden, with assailants using firearms and high explosives, has become a major political issue over the past years and prompted political moves such as one of the tougher gun laws and tougher sentencing for some offences.

    Among the most highest profile incidents in recent months, a massive blast demolished parts of an apartment building in the southern town of Linkoping in June, injuring around 20 people, while a mother was gunned down in broad daylight on a street in Malmo, across the bridge from Copenhagen.

    The cases have yet to result in convictions.

    Haekkerup said a new center to prevent cross-border crime will be set up in Denmark and staffed by Danish police officers, who will be working closely with colleagues in Sweden.

    Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen, additional reporting by Johan Ahlander and Niklas Pollard in Stockholm; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Alison Williams

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  37. #37

    Germany caught between Turks and Kurds in Syria

    Germany's large Kurdish and Turkish communities are a major factor in its unique geopolitical role in the Syria conflict. Kurdish leaders in Germany say Berlin needs to up the pressure on Ankara to stop all-out war.

    The Turkish military action in the Kurdish regions of northern Syria has exposed the German government's awkward tightrope-walk in its policy in the region.

    Germany is part of a United Nations alliance that provides humanitarian relief in the Kurdish area of northern Syria, where it sent some €50 million ($55 million) in 2017, while the German military helps to train Kurdish Peshmerga fighters as part of its mission in northern Iraq.

    At the same time, the German air force helps the Turkish military by flying reconnaissance missions in the area for NATO, of which Turkey is also a member.

    At a regular government press conference on Wednesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Christofer Burger aired the government's official position one more time: "We have repeatedly called on the Turkish government to refrain from a military intervention in northeastern Syria, because we fear that such an intervention could threaten to destabilize the region further," he said. Not least, Burger warned, Turkey's action could lead to a new refugee problem there.

    Destabilization at home and abroad

    That fear was just one among many dangers raised by several observers this week, including worries about the estimated 12,000 Islamic State fighters in Kurdish prisons in the region (around 100 are thought to be from Germany). Should they escape, the terrorist militia that had been thought defeated could be reinvigorated.

    And then there are worries about unrest in Germany, which is home to upwards of two million people of Kurdish and/or Turkish heritage. Hundreds of Germany's Kurdish community already took to the streets of Berlin on Tuesday in protest, and further demos are planned this week, where banners showing the banned organizations like the PKK are likely to be shown.

    Mehmet Tanriverdi, deputy chairman for the largest Kurdish Community organization in Germany, the KGD, also warned of Ankara's plans for "ethnic cleansing" in the Kurdish region, as well as the forcible alteration of the demographics by resettling Arab migrants from Syria there.

    In the face of all these dangers at home and abroad, Tanriverdi thinks Germany's verbal condemnations and concerns don't really hold much weight.

    Germany must act," he told DW. "The government cannot just put its hands in its lap, as it has till now, and say: the killing in the Syrian civil war has nothing to do with us."

    Sending stronger signals

    Chancellor Angela Merkel has many ways to put real pressure on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Tanriverdi added.

    "This war can be prevented," he said. "If you say to him: 'Mr. Erdogan, we will raise questions about Turkey's membership in NATO,' then he would think twice about taking another step."

    Tanriverdi had a few more ideas about how Germany could send "stronger signals" to Ankara. "Germany could for example ban all arms exports to Turkey," he said. "That wouldn't be difficult. Or they could say: 'we will suspend the refugee deal with Turkey, then we wouldn't need to pump more billions into Turkey'."

    Another possibility could be economic sanctions: two weeks ago, German carmaker Volkswagen announced that it would build a new electric car factory in western Turkey — a deal which the regional government of Lower Saxony is directly involved in. "They could have an influence and say: we're not building that factory," he said.

    As it stands though, the German government is maintaining its line: offering limited military support to both sides while criticizing Turkey and banning the Kurdish political organization, the PKK, at home.

  38. #38

    "A Serious Malfunction" - How French Intelligence Overlooked The Terrorist In Their Ranks
    Profile picture for user Tyler Durden
    by Tyler Durden
    Fri, 10/11/2019 - 02:45

    It's an alarming oversight with terrifying implications: The intelligence unit of Paris Police somehow overlooked a radicalized Islamic convert within their own ranks. Last week, the troubled individual in question carried out an attack inside Paris Police headquarters that ended with four victims stabbed to death, while the attacker was shot down by his former colleagues.

    WSJ has the full the story of how Mickaėl Harpon, the 45-year-old attacker in question, evolved from a quiet IT expert into a disaffected convert to Salafism - a fundamentalist version of Islam that is widely credited as the inspiration for Al Qaeda and other terror groups.

    During a lunch break last week, Harpon bought two knives, returned to the office with them, then suddenly started stabbing colleagues.

    According to WSJ, the attack has destroyed the country's confidence in its intelligence apparatus and its procedures for rooting out potential purveyors of Islamic terror.

    Even though he worked inside the Paris Police's Intelligence Unit, his transformation into a dangerous ideologue somehow went unnoticed. What's worse: As one of the unit's IT specialists, Harpon had access to top-secret information, including the identities of agents going undercover inside mosques around the city. His desk was positioned just steps away from the division's leaders. Now, hundreds of agents are examining flash drives found at Harpon's desk, and they're trying to determine whether he shared any classified intel with other extremists.

    Despite his seeming importance within the organization, Harpon told friends that he felt he wasn't being taken seriously at the office, and that he suspected he had been passed over for promotion because of a disability.

    The disability? Deafness in one ear that forced him to wear a hearing aid. The disability stemmed from his childhood on the French Caribbean island of Martinique. As a boy, Harpon was afflicted with meningitis in his youth. The sometimes fatal illness caused the hearing loss.

    Soon after he was hired by the intelligence division inside the Paris police force in 2003, his superiors found him to be a dedicated and efficient employee. Slowly, he gained more trust and more seniority within the organization. He converted to Islam several years after joining the Paris PD, after he had moved in with a Muslim woman from Madagascar. They eventually married, despite a complaint filed by the woman claiming she had been abused by Harpon. The complaint was later withdrawn, but it resulted in Harpon receiving an administrative sanction.

    When he married, Harpon should have triggered another background check for himself and his bride. However, it was never carried out, and he maintained his security clearance.

    French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner described this oversight as "a malfunction". "Would that have changed things? I don't know," he added.

    But that's not even the most galling oversight. In 2015, shortly after the shooting at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a colleague of Harpon's allegedly heard him comment that the victims "deserved it." He reported this comment to superiors within the department. But shockingly, nothing was done.

    There was neither a mention of the complaint in Harpon's personnel file, nor a motion to carry out another background check. His next background check to maintain his security clearance was slated for 2020.

    Castaner described this oversight as "a serious malfunction."

    A friend of Harpon's told WSJ that he was a quiet man who never showed any indication that he had become radicalized, and was planning an attack.

    "He felt people didn't take him seriously because of his handicap," the friend told WSJ.

    Even his wife told police that she didn't suspect an attack. At worst, she feared, Harpon might kill himself.

    Hopefully, French intelligence will tighten up its security standards and oversight of its employees after this incident. But winning back the trust of the public will probably require a serious effort on behalf of the agency.

  39. #39
    To answer the question on Sweden and Demark - the EU agreements do allow countries to set up TEMPORARY border controls on the movement of people or sometimes of goods in order to deal with a short-term emergency.

    This would fall into that category and I don't know all the ins and outs but I'm pretty sure the Danes either have to remove them after a certain period or explain why they need an extension (and have a real reason).

    Goods can be checked the same way during crises such as the bird flu or foot and mouth disease.

    The situation with BREXIT is about permanent or semi-permanent checks and border customs inspections, custom's payments etc, not a temporary suspension do a specific situation.

    Also, the Danish/Swedish controls are about the "free" movement of people between countries which can always be halted for a brief period after a crime is committed and suspects are thought to have fled to another EU country.
    expatriate Californian living in rural Ireland with husband, dogs, horses. garden and many, many cats

  40. #40
    Denmark to introduce border controls from Sweden to ‘secure Danish’ security

    By Arthur Lyons
    Voice Of Europe
    11 October 2019

    The Danish government has confirmed that beginning November 12th, Denmark will introduce border checks from Sweden to ensure the security of the country.

    The announcement comes after a spate of bombing attacks and shootings in Copenhagen that have been blamed on gang members from Sweden.

    It appears that for the Danish government, Sweden has become too dangerous of a place not to conduct checks along all of its border points with the Scandinavian country

    Border controls will occur at ferry crossings at Rųnne (Bornholm), Helsingųr (Zealand), Frederikshavn and Grenaa (both Jutland) and at the Ųresund Bridge and on all rail connections between Sweden and Denmark,” the Local reports.

    On Thursday, Mette Frederiksen, Denmark’s Social Democrat prime minister, said that the controls were being introduced as a result of 13 bomb attacks which have occurred in Copenhagen since February, and because of a violent double shooting in a Copenhagen suburb in June that has been attributed to rival gangs in Sweden.

    “It is not something that is going to go away, and so we have to take some drastic steps,” Frederiksen said.

    Nick Hekkerup, Denmark’s Minister of Justice, said that border checks are ‘absolutely critical’ to stop organized crime from Sweden, SVT reports.

    During a press conference, Hekkerup said, “We have been able to see a worrying development in Sweden in recent years with a large number of explosions and serious crime. That development must not spread to Denmark

    “We will ensure the safety of the Danes” Hekkerup declared.

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