Category Archives: European Union

Arab Spring Success Story Tunisia Has NATO to Thank for Recent Woes

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

[…] So far Tunisians seem to be trying to keep the situation under relative control, but the nation’s heavy dependence on tourism, and the fact that the attack targeted tourists could seriously threaten their already shaky economy to provoke draconian effects by the government.

If the Arab Spring’s big success story was to indeed collapse, the real culprit is NATO, whose insinuation of itself into one of the Arab Spring’s biggest disasters, neighboring Libya, played a major role in turning that huge nation into a lawless trainwreck full of jihadist factions, including the one responsible for attacking the Tunis museum.’

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US Threatened Germany Over Snowden, Vice Chancellor Says

Featured photo - US Threatened Germany Over Snowden, Vice Chancellor Says‘German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel (above) said this week in Homburg that the U.S. government threatened to cease sharing intelligence with Germany if Berlin offered asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden or otherwise arranged for him to travel to that country. “They told us they would stop notifying us of plots and other intelligence matters,” Gabriel said.

The vice chancellor delivered a speech in which he praised the journalists who worked on the Snowden archive, and then lamented the fact that Snowden was forced to seek refuge in “Vladimir Putin’s autocratic Russia” because no other nation was willing and able to protect him from threats of imprisonment by the U.S. government (I was present at the event to receive an award). That prompted an audience member to interrupt his speech and yell out: “Why don’t you bring him to Germany, then?”’

 

France To Require Internet Companies To Detect ‘Suspicious’ Behavior Automatically, And To Decrypt Communications On Demand

Glyn Moody reports for Techdirt:

Techdirt has been charting for a while France’s descent from a bastion of enlightenment values to a country that seems willing to give up any freedom in the illusory hope of gaining some security. According to a story in Le Figaro, even worse is to come in the shape of a new law (original in French, found via @gchampeau):

[the proposed law] wants to force intermediaries to “detect, using automatic processing, suspicious flows of connection data”. Internet service providers as well as platforms like Google, Facebook, Apple and Twitter would themselves have to identify suspicious behavior, according to instructions they have received, and pass the results to investigators. The text does not specify, but this could mean frequent connections to monitored pages.

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UK shift to China and AIIB “extremely worrying for Washington” – Interview with Liam Halligan

‘Liam Halligan, editor at large of Business New Europe and Telegraph columnist, talks to Going Underground host Afshin Rattansi about the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. He explains it is a rival to not only the IMF but also to the Asia Development Bank, which is Japanese-led. This is extremely threatening to the US as the BRIC countries wield a massive amount of power. There is a difference in the way that America and Britain see China, with the UK seeing them as a trading partner rather than a challenge. It is a symbolic move for Britain to back the AIIB, taking a step away from Washington towards a current that the US sees as a ‘major irritant.’ And he feels there is a growing argument that Britain’s future lies not in the West, with a failing Eurozone, but in a thriving Asian economy.’ (Going Underground)

Italian police: “ISIS flag” was jacket in tree

The Local reports:

Italian police: 'Isis flag' was jacket in treePolice were called to an apartment block in Porto Recanati, on Italy’s eastern coast, after locals raised the alarm that an Isis sympathizer may be within their midst.

The officers searched the building and questioned residents, but were unable to recover the mystery black cloth spotted hanging from a tree next to the apartment block.

On further investigation police discovered that the supposed propaganda tool was nothing more than a jacket, swept into the trees after being hung out to dry, Corriere della Sera reported on Wednesday.’

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Berlusconi vows political comeback after sex case acquittal upheld

Stephanie Kirchgaessner reports for The Guardian:

‘Silvio Berlusconi has vowed to return to frontline Italian politics after the country’s top court cleared him of charges of paying for an underage prostitute and using his political clout to cover it up.

[…] The man who held Italy’s highest office three times – for a total of nine years – still faces other legal challenges and has separately been convicted of tax fraud. But Wednesday’s late-night verdict drew a definitive line under the case that did the most damage to the billionaire politician, transforming him from a world leader into a laughing stock that other presidents and prime ministers did not want to associate with.’

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Breedlove’s Bellicosity: Berlin Alarmed by Aggressive NATO Stance on Ukraine

Der Spiegel reports:

‘[…] The pattern has become a familiar one. For months, Breedlove has been commenting on Russian activities in eastern Ukraine, speaking of troop advances on the border, the amassing of munitions and alleged columns of Russian tanks. Over and over again, Breedlove’s numbers have been significantly higher than those in the possession of America’s NATO allies in Europe. As such, he is playing directly into the hands of the hardliners in the US Congress and in NATO.

The German government is alarmed. Are the Americans trying to thwart European efforts at mediation led by Chancellor Angela Merkel? Sources in the Chancellery have referred to Breedlove’s comments as “dangerous propaganda.” Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier even found it necessary recently to bring up Breedlove’s comments with NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg.

But Breedlove hasn’t been the only source of friction. Europeans have also begun to see others as hindrances in their search for a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine conflict. First and foremost among them is Victoria Nuland, head of European affairs at the US State Department. She and others would like to see Washington deliver arms to Ukraine and are supported by Congressional Republicans as well as many powerful Democrats.’

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October 24, 1975: 90% of Icelandic women went on strike

women striking in Reykjavik, Iceland, 1975

‘On Oct. 24, 1975, 90% of Icelandic women went on strike, refusing to do any work at their homes or their jobs. It was the largest demonstration in the nation’s history and shut down the entire country. Airports were closed, schools were closed, and hospitals couldn’t function. The strike had an immediate and lasting impact. The following year, Iceland’s Parliament (now half women) passed a law guaranteeing women equal pay and paid maternity leave. Four years later, Iceland elected the world’s first female President. And today, Iceland has the highest gender equality in the world.’ (US Uncut)

Meet Casper: Yet Another Malware Likely Created by France for Surveillance

Lorenzo Franceschi Bicchierai reports for VICE Motherboard:

Two weeks ago, a group of cybersleuths revealed the best evidence yet that France is hacking and infecting surveillance targets—just like the NSA or the British spy agency GCHQ.

Now, researchers have discovered the existence of Casper, a stealthy tool designed to profile victims and flag persons of interest for further surveillance, according to a new report to be published on Thursday.

It is believed to be the work of a hacking group with suspected French government ties, and part of a Swiss Army knife of spying tools used to conduct multiple espionage campaigns over the last few years.’

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Spanish ruling elite accused of stealing €450m in state cash

Graham Keeley reports for The Times:

‘Forty members of the Spanish ruling party and a number of prominent businessmen will stand trial in the country’s biggest political corruption scandal since the end of the Franco regime.

Judge Pablo Ruz, of the National Court in Madrid, yesterday ordered a former health minister and three former treasurers of the centre-right Popular party to stand trial, along with 36 others, on 12 charges, including bribery, cash-for-favours in office, and embezzling €449 million of taxpayers’ money.’

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Algerians suffering from French atomic legacy, 55 years after nuke tests

Johnny Magdaleno reports for Al Jazeera:

Algeria's agony lives on, decades after French nuclear tests‘[…] Southern Algerians were not properly warned of their danger after France’s misgoverned nuclear bomb-testing campaign of the early 1960s, which vitrified vast tracts of desert with heat and plutonium and left a legacy of uncontained radiation that is still crippling inhabitants. Estimates of the number of Algerians affected by testing range from 27,000 — cited by the French Ministry of Defense — to 60,000, the figure given by Abdul Kadhim al-Aboudi, an Algerian professor of nuclear physics.

Yet there has been little accountability for France’s disregard. A compensation scheme for victims of France’s nuclear tests exists, but it has made payouts to only 17 people. The majority of those were residents of French Polynesia, where France relocated its nuclear testing campaign after leaving Algeria and experimented with more than 190 nuclear bombs from 1966 to 1996.’

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Why the rise of fascism is again the issue

John Pilger writes:

ukraine_obama_nobel.JPGThe recent 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was a reminder of the great crime of fascism, whose Nazi iconography is embedded in our consciousness. Fascism is preserved as history, as flickering footage of goose-stepping blackshirts, their criminality terrible and clear. Yet in the same liberal societies, whose war-making elites urge us never to forget, the accelerating danger of a modern kind of fascism is suppressed; for it is their fascism.

“To initiate a war of aggression…,” said the Nuremberg Tribunal judges in 1946, “is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

Had the Nazis not invaded Europe, Auschwitz and the Holocaust would not have happened. Had the United States and its satellites not initiated their war of aggression in Iraq in 2003, almost a million people would be alive today; and Islamic State, or ISIS, would not have us in thrall to its savagery. They are the progeny of modern fascism, weaned by the bombs, bloodbaths and lies that are the surreal theatre known as news.’

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EU renews sanctions on Zimbabwe, Mugabe

Reuters reports:

‘[…] Since imposing sanctions in 2002 over electoral fraud and human rights abuses, the EU has eased measures to encourage political reform in Zimbabwe, although it has kept its ban on Mugabe and his wife Grace, as well as an arms embargo.

This week it gave Zimbabwe 234 million euros (173.62 million pounds) in aid, its first since sanctions were imposed. And earlier this month, EU officials said that the 90-year-old president might be allowed in on an exceptional basis during his year-long chairmanship of the African Union, if traveling on AU business.

The Official Journal, however, made clear EU governments are not yet convinced that Mugabe had changed enough to merit a final lifting of restrictions.’

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Libya: Hillary Clinton’s WMD Moment?

Egypt’s Sisi: It’s Time to Correct NATO’s Mistakes in Libya

All Africa reports:

President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said on Monday that it is time to correct the mistakes made by the NATO in Libya.

“The NATO operation in Libya was not complete, which led the North African country to fall under the control of militant and extremist groups,” Sisi said during his meeting with French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Sisi’s remarks came after the Egyptian air force carried out earlier on Monday airstrikes on Daesh hotbeds in Libya in retaliation to the beheading of 21 Egyptian nationals who had been kidnapped in the Libyan city of Sirte.’

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Libyan Chaos and the Un-Islamic State: Interview with Vijay Prashad

Editor’s Note: Vijay Prashad is a historian, journalist and commentator. He is the author of many books including “Arab Spring, Libyan Winter” ( which you can download here). In this interview, recorded Feb 17/18th, Prashad states that the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya destroyed the Libyan state and created the conditions for radical Islamist groups to thrive. He also says that Libya today reminds him of Afghanistan 25 years ago after the Soviet withdrawl which was awash with weapons and fighters jostling for control of the country

Meet The Forces That Are Pushing Obama Towards A New Cold War

Christian Stork writes for Medium:

‘[…] Moscow’s national-security interests are clear. Washington’s are as well, albeit unrelated to the security of the nation in any meaningful sense. Given the stakes, the hard line being pushed against Russia can’t solely be attributed to “Great Game” strategy — the long-running chess battle to control global energy flows.

Different players have different motives. At times they overlap; elsewhere they diverge.

As for those in the K Street elite pushing Uncle Sam to confront the bear, it isn’t hard to see what they have to gain: Just take a look at the history behind their Beltway-bandit benefactors.’

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‘Guantanamo of the East': Ukraine Locks Up Refugees at EU’s Behest

Maximilian Popp reports for Spiegel:

Most asylum seekers trying to make their way to Europe take the dangerous route...‘[…] The European Union has provided Ukraine with €30 million ($34 million) in funding, which Kiev is using to build and renovate migrant detention centers, along with other facilities where they are housed temporarily. The International Organization for Migration received several million euros to support Ukrainian authorities in such areas as the internment of undocumented migrants. Brussels is apparently hoping that the system will reduce the number of asylum seekers in Europe — without attracting too much attention.

In 2010, the human rights organization Human Rights Watch criticized the EU for investing millions to divert flows of refugees from Europe toward Ukraine, while neglecting to take sufficient steps to ensure the humane treatment of refugees in Ukraine.

The refugee crisis along the eastern edge of Europe could now escalate in the course of the Ukraine conflict. The government in Kiev has its hands full caring for almost a million internally displaced persons fleeing the fighting between government troops and rebels in eastern Ukraine. It is hardly capable of providing for asylum-seekers from the Middle East and African countries, as well, warns Ilya Todorovich, the UNHCR representative in Ukraine.’

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Hailed as a Model for Successful Intervention, Libya Proves to be the Exact Opposite

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

‘[…] Since 2011, Libya has rapidly unraveled in much the way Iraq did following that invasion: swamped by militia rule, factional warfare, economic devastation, and complete lawlessness. And to their eternal shame, most self-proclaimed “humanitarians” who advocated the Libya intervention completely ignored the country once the fun parts — the war victory dances and mocking of war opponents — were over. The feel-good “humanitarianism” of war advocates, as usual, extended only to the cheering from a safe distance as bombs dropped.

The unraveling of Libya is now close to absolute. Yesterday, the same New York Times editorial page that supported the intervention quoted the U.N.’s Libya envoy Bernardino León as observing: “Libya is falling apart. Politically, financially, the economic situation is disastrous.” TheNYT editors forgot to mention that they supported the intervention, but did note that “Libya’s unraveling has received comparatively little attention over the past few months.” In other words, the very same NATO countries that dropped bombs on Libya in order to remove its government collectively ignored the aftermath once their self-celebrations were over.

Into the void of Libya’s predictable disintegration has stepped ISIS, among other groups.’

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Witness Says Cartoonist Was The Main Target In Copenhagen Shooting

Bomber Harris: “I would have destroyed Dresden again”

From The Daily Mail in 2013:

Reduced to rubble: The 'blanket bombing' of Dresden was widely criticised as civilian areas were hit as well as military targetsThe RAF commander who ordered the controversial fire-bombing of Dresden which killed an estimated 25,000 civilians during World War II said he would do it again in a long lost interview filmed 30 years after the end of the conflict.

Former marshal of the Royal Air Force, Sir Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris, gave the green light for the 1945 bombing which reduced the city in Saxony, Germany, to rubble.

The attack was widely criticised because of ‘blanket bombing’ which hit civilian areas as well as military targets – killing thousands of innocents.

But the newly-discovered interview with Sir Arthur, which was filmed in 1977 and will be aired for the first time on the BBC tonight, shows the RAF chief defending his decision.’

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Kurt Vonnegut on the Bombing of Dresden and Slaughterhouse-Five

Is Your Child a Terrorist? U.S. Government Questionnaire Rates Families at Risk for Extremism

Murtaza Hussain, Cora Currier, and Jana Winter report for The Intercept:

Are you, your family or your community at risk of turning to violent extremism? That’s the premise behind a rating system devised by the National Counterterrorism Center, according to a document marked For Official Use Only and obtained by The Intercept.

The document–and the rating system–is part of a wider strategy for Countering Violent Extremism, which calls for local community and religious leaders to work together with law enforcement and other government agencies. The White House has made this approach a centerpiece of its response to terrorist attacks around the world and in the wake of the Paris attacks, announced plans to host an international summit on Countering Violent Extremism on February 18th.’

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Greece: The True Face of Golden Dawn

Editor’s Note: This report by Channel 4 News was first published in March 2013. 

Banking Giant HSBC Sheltered Murky Cash Linked to Dictators and Arms Dealers

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists reports:

Swiss Leaks‘Secret documents reveal that global banking giant HSBC profited from doing business with arms dealers who channeled mortar bombs to child soldiers in Africa, bag men for Third World dictators, traffickers in blood diamonds and other international outlaws.

The leaked files, based on the inner workings of HSBC’s Swiss private banking arm, relate to accounts holding more than $100 billion. They provide a rare glimpse inside the super-secret Swiss banking system — one the public has never seen before.

The documents, obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists via the French newspaper Le Monde, show the bank’s dealings with clients engaged in a spectrum of illegal behavior, especially in hiding hundreds of millions of dollars from tax authorities. They also show private records of famed soccer and tennis players, cyclists, rock stars, Hollywood actors, royalty, politicians, corporate executives and old-wealth families.

These disclosures shine a light on the intersection of international crime and legitimate business, and they dramatically expand what’s known about potentially illegal or unethical behavior in recent years at HSBC, one of the world’s largest banks.’

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HSBC files show bank helped clients dodge millions in tax

Hungary: The baby that divided a nation

Nick Thorpe reports for BBC Magazine:

Rikardo Racz[…] Rikardo Racz was born at one minute past midnight, five weeks ago, and thus became the first baby born in Hungary this year. National, as well as local media noted his birth and a photo of Peter and his wife Sylvia holding Rikardo made the front pages.

Then Elod Novak, deputy leader of the far-right Jobbik party, posted that picture beside one of himself, his wife and three children on Facebook, mentioned that Rikardo was the third child of a 23-year-old Gypsy mother, then added: “The number of Hungarians is not just falling disastrously, but soon we will become a minority in our own homes. When will the day come when they decide to change Hungary’s name? And when will we finally tackle our country’s biggest problem?”

This provoked an avalanche of both condemnation, and approval. Rikardo’s birth seemed to hold up a mirror in which both Hungarian racism and anti-racism were reflected.’

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Libya: The Humanitarian War (Documentary)

Hillary Clinton’s claims justifying Libya war doubted by Pentagon and Congress, secret tapes reveal

Jeffrey Scott Shapiro and Kelly Riddell report for The Washington Times:

Top Pentagon officials and a senior Democrat in Congress so distrusted Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2011 march to war in Libya that they opened their own diplomatic channels with the Gadhafi regime in an effort to halt the escalating crisis, according to secret audio recordings recovered from Tripoli.

The tapes, reviewed by The Washington Times and authenticated by the participants, chronicle U.S. officials’ unfiltered conversations with Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s son and a top Libyan leader, including criticisms that Mrs. Clinton had developed tunnel vision and led the U.S. into an unnecessary war without adequately weighing the intelligence community’s concerns.

“You should see these internal State Department reports that are produced in the State Department that go out to the Congress. They’re just full of stupid, stupid facts,” an American intermediary specifically dispatched by the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the Gadhafi regime in July 2011, saying the State Department was controlling what intelligence would be reported to U.S. officials.

At the time, the Gadhafi regime was fighting a civil war that grew out of the Arab Spring, battling Islamist-backed rebels who wanted to dethrone the longtime dictator. Mrs. Clinton argued that Gadhafi might engage in genocide and create a humanitarian crisis and ultimately persuaded President Obama, NATO allies and the United Nations to authorize military intervention.’

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What If Putin Doesn’t Back Down?

Scott McConnel writes for The American Conservative:

Photo: the Russian Presidential Press and Information OfficeWhat if Vladimir Putin really was tough? What if he would prefer to fight to the death rather than see his country humiliated by the West or his regime collapse into chaos—outcomes he likely regards as equivalent. Is this not possible? There is no shortage of American politicians ready to attribute the most vile traits to Putin: Hillary Clinton, far from America’s most extreme rhetorician, likened him to Hitler. It’s not, of course, a remotely legitimate comparison. But if Putin were one-tenth as reckless as he is commonly depicted, what conclusions ought we to draw?

Leading papers of the Anglosphere are now promoting American plans to escalate the fight against Russia and its Ukraine intervention. Former government officials, polishing up their tough-minded credentials in preparation for their next administration job, recommend we begin major weapons shipments to Ukraine. Are trainers and advisers on how to use them included as well? Strobe Talbott in theWashington PostIvo Dalder in the Financial Times, the Washington Post editorial board, other major figures from Clinton-land and the permanent government are all on board for a major roll-out. Their idea is to make Russia pay a higher price in casualties if it continues to intervene on behalf of anti-Kiev rebels in the eastern parts of Ukraine.’

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