Archive for April, 2021

More than half of French people support generals’ warning that France is ‘DISINTEGRATING,’ hurtling toward civil war, poll shows

Posted by RT on April 30, 2021  |   Comments Off on More than half of French people support generals’ warning that France is ‘DISINTEGRATING,’ hurtling toward civil war, poll shows

A warning by retired generals that France is “disintegrating” and risks civil war as Islamists detach swathes of the nation is far from a fringe view. In fact, a new poll shows 58% of French people support the “call to honor.”

Although Prime Minister Jean Castex condemned the letter to President Emmanuel Macron this week and the signatories now face disciplinary sanctions, the LCI TV poll conducted by Harris Interactive suggests that French people are with the 20 retired generals. According to the survey, which was reported by Valeurs Actuelles magazine, 73% agreed with the assessment that the country is “disintegrating,” and 84% agreed that violence is increasing in French society.

“The hour is grave,” the letter said. “France is in peril.” The former generals urged Macron and other leaders to “find the needed courage to eradicate these dangers,” warning that otherwise, “civil war could end the growing chaos.” The signatories added that Macron would be responsible for thousands of deaths if he procrastinates.

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FILE PHOTO: Demonstrators opposing the publication in France of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad set fire to images depicting French President Emmanuel Macron during a protest outside the French Embassy in London, England, on October 30, 2020
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The letter was published by Valeurs Actuelles on April 21, which happened to be the 60th anniversary of a failed military coup d'etat. National Rally party leader Marine Le Pen, a candidate in France's 2022 presidential election, agreed with the “call to honor,” saying patriots have a duty to fight for the “salvation of the country.”

The poll found that 58% of respondents “support the words of the soldiers,” while 49% believe the military should intervene, even without a government request, to restore order when necessary, such as during the Yellow Vest riots. About 74% of participants agreed that supposed anti-racism initiatives are having the opposite effect, attacking symbols of France and creating more division.

Only one-third of respondents said the generals and others who signed the letter should be sanctioned. But that's where the government apparently is heading as Macron's administration tries to push back against the grim warning. Armed forces Chief of Staff General Francois Lecointre reportedly said on Thursday that 18 active-duty servicemen who were identified as signatories to the letter will face possible disciplinary sanctions before a high military court.

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FILE PHOTO. French President Emmanuel Macron pays tribute to victims of the March 15, 2012 attack at the Montauban cemetery in MONTAUBAN, FRANCE. © AFP / Fred SCHEIBER
Macron can’t ignore furious generals’ warning that terror attacks & ‘Islamist hordes’ are pushing France towards civil war

Since 2015, terrorist attacks have killed more than 260 people and injured more than 900 in France. The latest victim was a 49-year-old police worker whose throat was cut in the entrance hall of the Rambouillet police station last Friday. 

Beyond the high-profile terrorist incidents, Islamists have created ghettos where native French citizens are a minority and police reportedly fear to tread. In the LCI poll, 86% of respondents said the nation’s laws don’t apply in some cities.

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In peace deal move, former Colombian rebel group FARC admits abducting tens of thousands of people during conflict

Posted by RT on April 30, 2021  |   Comments Off on In peace deal move, former Colombian rebel group FARC admits abducting tens of thousands of people during conflict

The leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a disbanded rebel group, have admitted responsibility for tens of thousands of kidnappings during the long-running conflict with the government and security forces.

Carlos Antonio Lozada, a former member of the guerrilla group, said on Friday that FARC “clearly assumes responsibility for kidnappings which took place.”

He told a news conference that the group “explicitly recognizes the suffering inflicted unjustifiably on victims … their families, friends and of course all of Colombian society.”

FARC disarmed and rebranded as the ‘Comunes’ political party after striking a ceasefire agreement with the government in 2016. Under the deal, ex-rebels have to hand over information about crimes committed during the conflict to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace tribunal, which can secure them lesser sentences.

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© Reuters TV / Handout
Colombia creates FARC taskforce after ex-commanders call on rebels to pick up arms & resume fighting

According to tribunal counts, 21,396 people were kidnapped or taken hostage by FARC between 1990 and 2015.

The Marxist-Leninist group was set up in 1964 to demand more equitable land ownership during the government’s long-running conflict with armed insurgents.

At its peak, the largely rural organization counted as many as 20,000 people among its ranks, but its numbers had dwindled to a few thousand by the time of its peace deal with the government.

FARC’s tactics included blowing up oil pipelines and other infrastructure, as well as kidnappings, and members of the group also used sexual violence, including against women and minors forced to join the insurgency.

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Car bomb kills at least 25, injures dozens in eastern Afghanistan – local official

Posted by RT on April 30, 2021  |   Comments Off on Car bomb kills at least 25, injures dozens in eastern Afghanistan – local official

A massive car bomb struck the main city of eastern Afghanistan's Logar province on Friday, killing at least 25 people and injuring scores more, local officials told the media.

The blast struck near what used to be the residence of the former provincial council leader in Pul-e Alam, but which has been repurposed for public use.

Provincial officials said that the driver of the bomb-laden truck had posed as a worker of an NGO looking to help locals, in order to gain access to the compound.

The explosion was so powerful that it caused the collapse of the building, killing at least 25 people, Hasib Stanekzai, head of Logar's provincial council, said. Around 60 people were injured, he added.

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FILE PHOTO. Afghan police officers.
At least 16 children injured as rocket hits government compound in Afghanistan during Koran recital competition

The Interior Ministry said that 30 people were killed or wounded in the attack, warning that the death toll could rise further.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the blast, but violence has been on the rise in Afghanistan in recent weeks, particularly in the wake of US President Joe Biden's announcement that American troops – deployed in the country for two decades – will withdraw from Afghanistan by September 11.

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FILE PHOTO
US begins much-touted ‘withdrawal’ from Afghanistan... by sending MORE troops & gear for ‘temporary force protection’

The new date pushes back the May 1 deadline which the administration of Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, had agreed with the Taliban during peace talks in February 2020.

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Australian intelligence predicts terrorist attack ‘in next 12 months,’ police seek new powers to combat ‘extreme’ ideologies

Posted by RT on April 30, 2021  |   Comments Off on Australian intelligence predicts terrorist attack ‘in next 12 months,’ police seek new powers to combat ‘extreme’ ideologies

Australia’s Federal Police are requesting new powers that would make possession of “propaganda” and “terrorist” manifestos illegal to possess and share, as intelligence agencies predict a terrorist attack within 12 months.

Mike Burgess, the director general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), told a parliamentary intelligence committee that a terrorist attack in Australia is “probable” and that it’s anticipated to happen “in the next 12 months.” He said it could be either Islamist or nationalist in nature, local media reported.

Burgess also warned the committee that Australia’s youth is “being ensnared in these racist, supremacist and misogynist ideologies,” though concluded that “Sunni-based” extremism is still the intelligence agency’s “major” concern.

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FILE PHOTO. Royal Australian Navy missile frigate HMAS Parramatta  (L) ,U.S. Navy Amphibious assault ship USS America, Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill ,Arleigh-Burke class guided missile destroyer USS Barry in the South China Sea. © Reuters / Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicholas
Australia security official warns nations are ‘beating drums’ of war amid Asia-Pacific tensions

In light of Burgess’ warning, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) are now reportedly pushing for a change in law that would allow them to criminally punish Australians in possession of material deemed to be “propaganda” for terrorist organizations and ideologies.

AFP Deputy Commissioner Ian McCartney told the parliamentary committee that “certain aspects of current criminal laws are out of step with the community’s expectations,” and that more should be done to crack down on the radicalization of Australians by prohibiting possession and distribution of ‘terrorist’ materials.

“Outside of legitimate research, public interest reporting and other professional reasons, there are no circumstances where individuals should be accessing or sharing instructional terrorist manuals, propaganda magazines, and graphically violent images, videos and other content produced by terrorists,” McCartney argued.

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© Getty Images / cybrain
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He said police are currently “limited” in the actions they can take against “radicalized individuals” unless they’re actively planning an attack and also called for the “criminalization of the public display of flags and other extremist insignia.”

Just last year, however, the Law Council of Australia called on Parliament to cut back on some of the country’s anti-terrorism laws – including bans on travel to certain countries – warning they were too “broadly framed” and authoritarian.

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Australia mulling heavy fines, five years in jail for travelers circumventing flight ban from Covid-19 hotspots – reports

Posted by RT on April 30, 2021  |   Comments Off on Australia mulling heavy fines, five years in jail for travelers circumventing flight ban from Covid-19 hotspots – reports

The Australian government is reportedly considering fining and jailing its citizens if they return home from Covid-ravaged countries under biosecurity rules that would give authorities sweeping new powers.

If imposed, it would mark the first time it has been made a criminal offence for an Australian to enter their own country.

The development comes after two Australian cricketers who had been in India arrived in the country on Thursday after transiting through Doha, Qatar, bypassing a government ban instituted earlier this week on all direct flights from India until mid-May.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government was said to be looking into criminalizing such repatriation dashes by people who had been in a Covid-19 hotspot in the past two weeks. The punishment could involve up to AU$66,000 (US$50,908) in fines or five years in prison, according to 9News Australia.

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Children work on their classroom on their first day of New South Wales public schools fully re-opening for all students and staff amidst the easing of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions at Homebush West Public School in Sydney, Australia, May 25, 2020.
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Reports said Health Minister Greg Hunt would invoke the Biosecurity Act (2015) – previously used to close the borders in March 2020 – as soon as Saturday. Emergency powers under the act allow Hunt to determine any requirement deemed necessary to prevent entry or spread of disease.

“India is the first country to meet the threshold of a high-risk country,” Morrison said in a statement after his ministerial cabinet met on Friday.

The statement appeared to warn of “further measures to mitigate risks of high-risk travellers entering Australia” but did not explicitly refer to taking criminal action against returnees.

By the Foreign Affairs department’s count, as many as 36,000 Australians are stuck overseas – at least 9,000 of whom are in India with over 600 classified as vulnerable – and cannot go home due to strict quarantine limits on the number of people entering the country each week.

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FILE PHOTO: The Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia  © Reuters / Loren Elliott
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Nearly 20,000 people have returned to Australia from India since March 2020.

Earlier on Friday, Morrison admitted there was a “loophole” in the travel restrictions, through which the India flight ban could be circumvented – as the cricketers did – by transiting through a third country. That gap was supposedly closed on Wednesday evening.

“That flight that those cricketers were on managed to get away just before that,” Morrison told Sydney radio station 2GB. “We had information on Monday that that wasn’t possible.”

Under biosecurity control rules, authorities can require an individual to provide contact information, regularly update an officer of their health status and remain at their place of residence for a specified period of time or be isolated at a medical facility.

People can also be compelled to undergo decontamination, provide body samples for diagnosis, undertake treatment or receive a vaccination and remain in Australia for up to four weeks. Failure to comply with a control order draws the same penalties as above.

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The opposition’s home affairs spokeswoman, Kristina Keneally, said Morrison owed an explanation to the 9,000 citizens “left stranded in India.”

“If he had kept his promise and got all the stranded Australians home by Christmas, we wouldn’t be in this mess,” Keneally told local media.

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Facebook on ‘dangerous path,’ International Federation of Journalists head warns as platform cracks down on RT-affiliated Redfish

Posted by RT on April 30, 2021  |   Comments Off on Facebook on ‘dangerous path,’ International Federation of Journalists head warns as platform cracks down on RT-affiliated Redfish

Censorship of political views by a private company like Facebook can undermine media freedom, the head of the International Federation of Journalists warned after the page of RT’s digital content project, Redfish, was deleted.

Redfish’s account on Facebook, which had over 830,000 followers, was targeted earlier on Friday over posts that supposedly violated the platform’s community standards.

One of the publications in question marked the defeat of fascism in Italy, while the other commemorated the Holocaust, featuring photos of the Auschwitz death camp inmates, some of whom were semi-naked. Those images were flagged by Facebook as violating rules on “nudity and sexual activity.”

“If pictures of prisoners detained by the Nazis during World War II are removed because they allegedly breach nudity guidelines then Facebook’s algorithms are not fit for purpose,” Anthony Bellanger, the general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, told RT. “Journalism is about context,” he pointed out.

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(L) © Redfish logo (R) Screenshot © Facebook
Facebook bans RT’s digital content project Redfish after posts marking end of Mussolini’s dictatorship and Holocaust Memorial Day

But, according to Bellanger, the more worrisome scenario is that Redfish could’ve faced restrictions for “political reasons.”

“There are grave concerns that an unaccountable private corporation like Facebook can decide, which political views it allows and which it decides to censor,” he said.

That is a dangerous path to go down and can undermine media freedom.

The ban on Redfish’s account on Facebook has become yet another chapter in the recent social media clampdown on RT.

Only a week ago, YouTube slapped RT’s English channel with a seven-day ban against launching live broadcasts. The ‘strike’ was issued over older clips that had been uploaded on the page weeks and even months ago. The platform claimed that the videos violated its policies on “medical misinformation” and “spam, deceptive practices and scams.”

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© Reuters / Dado Ruvic; © Sputnik/ Ilya Pitalev
YouTube blocks videos & hands strikes to RT’s English & German channels over alleged Covid-19 disinformation

Last year, RT’s Twitter account was marked as Russian state-affiliated media, which means that its tweets aren’t being promoted or suggested for further reading by the microblogging platform.

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‘Stigmatizing and discriminating’: Hong Kong’s foreign workers angry with mandatory Covid-19 testing & vaccination order

Posted by RT on April 30, 2021  |   Comments Off on ‘Stigmatizing and discriminating’: Hong Kong’s foreign workers angry with mandatory Covid-19 testing & vaccination order

Hong Kong’s foreign workers have accused local authorities of acting unfairly by telling migrants to undergo Covid-19 tests and making vaccination obligatory for extending contracts, after the South African variant was detected.

“From the perspective of anti-epidemic, foreign domestic workers are a high-risk group,” Law Chi-kwong, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Labour and Welfare, said as the measures were announced on Friday. According to the official, migrants “often have gatherings with their friends during their days off,” which increases the risk of transmission.

Under the order, around 370,000 foreign domestic workers in the city must be tested for Covid-19 before May 9. They also won’t be able to obtain visas without a coronavirus jab when it comes to renewing their contracts.

The move comes after a 39-year-old migrant was confirmed to be carrying the so-called South African Covid variant on Thursday. The woman, who didn’t have any recent travel history, was the first reported locally-transmitted case of the mutant strain. The discovery prompted the quarantine of hundreds of residents at her apartment block residence.

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Personnel in protective garment usher a group of migrant workers after workers tested positive for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) at Westlite Woodlands dormitory in Singapore (FILE PHOTO) © REUTERS/Edgar Su
Singapore investigates 17 Covid-19 reinfections, quarantines 1,200 migrant workers

Hong Kong’s Health Minister, Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee, defended the mandatory testing and vaccination by pointing out that “the coronavirus variants have a higher transmissibility and the sources of infections of those cases are unknown."

However, the city’s foreign workers see things differently, with one, named in local media as Sringatin, saying that migrants have already “suffered greatly” during the pandemic and decrying the order as “stigmatizing and discriminating.”

“One person infected with a variant of Covid-19 does not mean that everyone is infected and will spread it,” she pointed out to the Hong Kong Free Press newspaper.

Another, Eni Lestari, insisted that the Hong Kong government “unfairly blames” foreign workers for spreading the virus. The authorities are “fanning the negative sentiment against migrant domestic workers. This must be stopped and corrected,” she said.

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Staff members wait outside booths where people receive a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a vaccination center, during a government-organized visit, in Beijing, China, (FILE PHOTO) © REUTERS/Thomas Peter
China administers more than 210 million Covid-19 vaccines, despite supply challenges

Hong Kong registered four new confirmed Covid-19 cases on Friday. The overall number of infections in the region has reached 11,774 to date in the pandemic, with 209 fatalities.

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India’s Covid infections projected to peak next week, as officials warn people not to make their own oxygen amid supply shortage

Posted by RT on April 30, 2021  |   Comments Off on India’s Covid infections projected to peak next week, as officials warn people not to make their own oxygen amid supply shortage

Government advisers have warned that India is set to face the peak of Covid cases next week, as infections spread at a faster rate than previously expected. Some people have resorted to making their own oxygen amid the shortage.

A mathematical model from the government’s team of Covid advisers estimates that India’s peak in case numbers will be between May 3 and 5 – sooner than previously anticipated.

Mathukumalli Vidyasagar, the head of the group of government scientific advisers modelling the trajectory of infections, said the main purpose of the projections is to “figure out how we’re going to fight the fight for the next four to six weeks.”

On Friday, India registered a record 386,452 new Covid-19 infections. The recent spike in cases has caused a shortage in hospital beds, oxygen, medicine, and coronavirus vaccines.

The crisis in India has led doctors to issue a warning to people to not attempt to make their own medical oxygen, as the hazardous process could have dire consequences. Videos and online guides about how to create DIY supplies have already been shared, and officials have noted a spike in searches online for ‘how to make oxygen at home’.

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A patient suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) receives treatment inside the emergency ward at Holy Family hospital in New Delhi, India, April 29, 2021.
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“Any other means to try making the gas at home involves many risks, like chances of toxic gases being inhaled and explosions,” the secretary of the Indian Medical Association for the southern state of Tamil Nadu, A. Ravikumar, warned.

The warning follows a statement from the Indian government on Thursday, criticizing the use of “misleading” homeopathic medicine to try and treat Covid-19 or address oxygen shortages.

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Germany charges suspected Islamic State fundraiser who allegedly paid smugglers and helped free jailed fighter

Posted by RT on April 30, 2021  |   Comments Off on Germany charges suspected Islamic State fundraiser who allegedly paid smugglers and helped free jailed fighter

Prosecutors in Germany have charged an Iraqi immigrant who is suspected of being a member of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and funding the terrorist organization's activities abroad.

The suspect, identified only as Aymen A.-J, is also suspected of the "preparation of a serious act of violence that is dangerous to the state," the federal prosecutor's office said in a statement on Friday.

The suspect allegedly sent $12,000 to Syria and Lebanon between September and the end of last year.

Prosecutors said the cash was used to pay for the care of women in Syrian refugee camps, to fund IS smugglers and to free one of the group's fighters from prison.

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FILE PHOTO.
‘Preacher without a face’: ISIS’ ‘chief recruiter’ in Germany sentenced to over 10yrs in prison following years-long trial

After entering Germany from Iraq in 2016, he has allegedly been an IS sympathizer since 2018, before trying to join the group abroad early last year.

IS chiefs told him to postpone joining the group and he remained in Germany, where he played a "central role" in fundraising, according to prosecutors.

In January 2021, the suspect was detained at the German-Swiss border as he allegedly made his way to fight for IS in Syria or Africa, and has since been in custody.

On Thursday a federal judge ordered his pre-trial detention. No trial date was released.

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RT editor-in-chief says she will seek Facebook ban if RT’s Redfish page, removed after anti-fascist post, is not restored

Posted by RT on April 30, 2021  |   Comments Off on RT editor-in-chief says she will seek Facebook ban if RT’s Redfish page, removed after anti-fascist post, is not restored

Margarita Simonyan has lashed out at Facebook for suspending the page of Redfish, RT’s Berlin-based digital content producer. She said she will try to have the social network itself banned if the decision is not reversed.

Redfish Media's account was suspended on Friday, after its recent post marking the death of Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini got flagged for allegedly violating Facebook’s community standards. The US social media giant previously flagged historic images of Holocaust survivors posted by Redfish as breaching standards on “nudity and sexual activity.”

“It’s not quite clear what this ‘community’ found so insulting. Was it the Mussolini photo, the reference to Holocaust, or the very existence of the Redfish project, which the Western establishment has long been irritated about,” RT editor-in-chief Simonyan said in a social media post.

If the page is not back, I promise I will personally be seeking Facebook’s suspension.

The strike for the upside-down Mussolini photo, which led to the suspension, isn't the only one that the platform issued to Redfish this year. In January, Facebook took down a post that showed historic images of inmates of the Auschwitz death camp taken after its liberation. Redfish posted them to commemorate International Holocaust Day.

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(L) © Redfish logo (R) Screenshot © Facebook
Facebook bans RT’s digital content project Redfish after posts marking end of Mussolini’s dictatorship and Holocaust Memorial Day

Redfish is an award-winning company producing videos on contemporary issues like social injustice, police brutality and oppression of third-world countries. Its Facebook page had over 830,000 followers at the time of its suspension.

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