INTL Europe: Politics, Economics, and Military- October 2021

Plain Jane

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September's thread :


Regional Conflict in Mediterranean beginning page 75:


Main Coronavirus thread beginning page 1404:



Georgia’s ex-president arrested after returning home
By SOPHIKO MEGRELIDZEyesterday


In this handout photo taken from video released by Georgian Interior Ministry Press Service, Georgian Police officers escort former President Mikheil Saakashvili after he was arrested in Rustavi, Georgia, Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. The prime minister of Georgia says former President Mikheil Saakashvili has been arrested. The announcement Friday by Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili came about 18 hours after Saakashvili, who was convicted in absentia and has lived in Ukraine in recent years, posted on Facebook that he had returned to the country. (Georgian Interior Ministry Press Service via AP)
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In this handout photo taken from video released by Georgian Interior Ministry Press Service, Georgian Police officers escort former President Mikheil Saakashvili after he was arrested in Rustavi, Georgia, Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. The prime minister of Georgia says former President Mikheil Saakashvili has been arrested. The announcement Friday by Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili came about 18 hours after Saakashvili, who was convicted in absentia and has lived in Ukraine in recent years, posted on Facebook that he had returned to the country. (Georgian Interior Ministry Press Service via AP)

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — Former President Mikheil Saakashvili was arrested after returning to Georgia, the government said Friday, a move that came as the ex-leader sought to mobilize supporters ahead of national municipal elections seen as critical to the country’s political makeup.

The announcement by Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili came hours after Saakashvili, who was convicted in absentia on abuse of power charges and has lived in Ukraine in recent years, posted on Facebook that he was back in the country.

Details of the arrest were not immediately clear, but Georgian TV on Friday evening broadcast video of Saakashvili in handcuffs, with a wide smile on his face, being taken into custody by police.

In earlier Facebook video, Saakashvili said he was in Batumi, the Black Sea port and resort that is Georgia’s second-largest city. Georgian officials earlier in the day had denied he was in the country.

In the posts, Saakashvili said Saturday’s elections were “crucial” for Georgia and had called for a rally in Tbilisi on Sunday, promising to join it.

Saakashvili’s attempts to rally Georgians could upend the ruling party’s plans to secure dominance in the balloting for mayors and local assemblies that is widely regarded as a vote of confidence in the national government and could trigger early elections next year.

The European Union brokered a deal in April to ease a political crisis between the ruling Georgian Dream party and opposition groups, including Saakashvili’s United National Movement, the second-biggest political force in the country.

The agreement stipulated that snap parliamentary elections should be called in 2022 if Georgian Dream receives less than 43% of all proportional votes in the local elections in the country’s 64 municipalities.

It is unclear whether the EU deal will be followed, however. In July, Georgian Dream withdrew from the agreement because United National Movement hadn’t signed onto it by then. The opposition party finally signed this month, and Saakashvili has urged supporters to turn out in force at the polls.

Saakashvili’s intense grin in police custody underlined his penchant for public drama, particularly his bold entrances into unwelcoming places.

He first gained international attention in the 2003 Rose Revolution protests when he led a crowd of demonstrators that broke into a parliament session, forcing then-President Eduard Shevardnadze to flee; Shevardnadze, a former Soviet foreign minister, resigned a day later.
In 2017, he forced his way with a crowd of supporters into Ukraine from Poland, after his Ukrainian citizenship was rescinded.

By going back to Georgia even though he faced certain arrest, Saakashvili also echoed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who returned to Moscow from Germany in January, was arrested on arrival and later sent to prison.

Hours after his arrest on Friday, a video was posted on his Facebook page in which he and Ukrainian parliament member Yelizaveta Yasko declared they were in love and “together.” They said the video was recorded ahead of his departure for Georgia.

Saakashvili was president in 2004-13 and was renowned for his energetic efforts against Georgia’s endemic corruption, but Georgians became increasingly uneasy with what they saw as his authoritarian inclinations and his sometimes-mercurial behavior.

Saakashvilii left the country soon after the 2013 election, in which he could not run, was won by the candidate from Georgian Dream.

In 2018, Georgian courts convicted and sentenced him to up to six years in prison.

Saakashvili moved to Ukraine, where he became governor of the corruption-plagued Odesa region, and obtained Ukrainian citizenship, which nullified his Georgian citizenship. However, he fell out with then-President Petro Poroshenko, resigned his post and was stripped of Ukrainian citizenship.

He forced his way back into Ukraine in 2017, but was eventually deported to Poland. After Poroshenko’s successor Volodymyr Zelenskyy came to power, Saakashvili returned to Ukraine and was named to a top corruption-fighting position.

“Zelenskyy is concerned by this news,” his spokesman Serhiy Nikiforov said. “Ukraine is appealing to Georgia for explanations of all circumstances and the reasons for this move in regards to this Ukrainian citizen.”

The Georgian prosecutor’s office said a case had been opened against Saakashvili for illegally crossing the border, although the basis for such a charge is unclear because Ukrainian citizens do not need visas to enter Georgia.
—-=
Associated Press writer Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed.
 
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NATO troops patrol Kosovo-Serbia border after truck blockade
Soldiers with a NATO-led peacekeeping mission are keeping watch at the Kosovo-Serbia border after the two countries reached a deal to deescalate a dispute over vehicle license plates

By FLORENT BAJRAMI and LLAZAR SEMINI Associated Press
2 October 2021, 06:42

Polish soldiers, part of the peacekeeping mission in Kosovo KFOR, pass through barricades as they patrol near the northern Kosovo border crossing of Jarinje, along the Kosovo-Serbia border, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. A NATO-led peacekeeping mission in K

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The Associated Press
Polish soldiers, part of the peacekeeping mission in Kosovo KFOR, pass through barricades as they patrol near the northern Kosovo border crossing of Jarinje, along the Kosovo-Serbia border, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. A NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Kosovo took over the area near two Kosovo-Serbia border crossings following the deal reached by the two countries to deescalate tensions triggered by a dispute over vehicle license plates. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

JARINJE, Kosovo -- Soldiers with a NATO-led peacekeeping mission are keeping watch at the Kosovo-Serbia border after the two countries reached a deal to deescalate tensions triggered by a dispute over vehicle license plates.

Kosovo Force troops from the United States, Italy and Poland were seen patrolling Saturday as ethnic Serbs removed the trucks they had used to block the road to two border crossings while protesting the Kosovo government's decision not to allow vehicles with Serbian license plates into the country
.

Kosovar special police forces also pulled back from the border, where they were deployed two weeks ago to remove the license plates from entering cars and to replace them with temporary registration in Kosovo.

The government in Pristina said they were replicating what Serbia had done to Kosovar motorists for a decade. Kosovo was a Serbian province before it declared independence in 2008, and Serbian troops and ethnic Albanian separatists fought a bloody war in Kosovo during the 1990s.

European Union mediator Miroslav Lajcak persuaded representatives from the neighboring Balkan nations this week to let the Kosovo Force (KFOR) troops take over the areas for the next 14 days.

“As from this weekend and for the next two weeks, KFOR will maintain a temporary robust and agile presence in the area,” a statement from the NATO mission said.

As part of the agreement, both countries will put stickers over the other's name and emblem on license plates of vehicles entering their territory.

KFOR, made up of around 4,000 troops from 28 countries, is led by NATO with support from the United Nations, the European Union and others. Its aim is to stave off lingering ethnic tensions between Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority and minority ethnic Serbs.

The United States and most of the West recognize Kosovo's independence, but, Serbia, supported by its allies Russia and China, does not.

EU-facilitated negotiations to normalize relations between Pristina and Belgrade started in 2011 and have produced more than 30 agreements, which are either observed poorly or not at all.

——-

Llazar Semini reported from Tirana, Albania.

NATO troops patrol Kosovo-Serbia border after truck blockade - ABC News (go.com)
 

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Switzerland to set up a dedicated embassy to the Vatican
The Swiss government has decided to set up a dedicated embassy to the Vatican

By The Associated Press
1 October 2021, 06:43

FILE - In this Thursday, May 6, 2021 file photo, Vatican Swiss Guards stand attention at the St. Damaso courtyard on the occasion of their swearing-in ceremony, at the Vatican. The Swiss government has decided to set up a dedicated embassy to the Vat

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The Associated Press
FILE - In this Thursday, May 6, 2021 file photo, Vatican Swiss Guards stand attention at the St. Damaso courtyard on the occasion of their swearing-in ceremony, at the Vatican. The Swiss government has decided to set up a dedicated embassy to the Vatican. Switzerland's ambassador to Slovenia is currently responsible for diplomatic relations with the Holy See. Switzerland has been diplomatically represented at the Vatican since 1991, though the post of ambassador was held by diplomats based in Bern, Geneva, Prague and since 2014, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Members of the world’s oldest standing army provide ceremonial guard duty during papal Masses, stand watch at the Vatican gates and help protect Pope Francis. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)

GENEVA -- The Swiss government decided Friday to set up a dedicated embassy to the Vatican, for which Switzerland's ambassador to Slovenia is currently responsible.

Switzerland's governing Federal Council determined the current arrangement “no longer allows all the work entailed by Switzerland’s diplomatic relations with the Holy See to be accomplished efficiently,” a government statement said. It pointed to a sharp rise in high-level official visits in recent years
.

Switzerland has been diplomatically represented at the Vatican since 1991, though the post of ambassador was held by diplomats based in Bern, Geneva, Prague and since 2014, Ljubljana, Slovenia. The new embassy will also manage relations with Malta and San Marino.

Although Switzerland's diplomatic presence so far has been limited, the country is central to a Vatican institution — the Swiss Guards. Members of the world’s oldest standing army provide ceremonial guard duty during papal Masses, stand watch at the Vatican gates and help protect Pope Francis.

The guards are all single Swiss men under age 30 and must be upstanding Catholics. They sign up for two-year tours of duty and live communally inside the Vatican.

Switzerland to set up a dedicated embassy to the Vatican - ABC News (go.com)
 

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Energy prices drive Europe inflation to highest since 2008
The European Union’s statistics agency says sharply higher oil and gas prices have helped push annual inflation in the 19 countries that use the euro to its highest in more than a decade
By DAVID McHUGH AP Business Writer
1 October 2021, 06:19

FILE - In this Thursday, March 11, 2021 file photo, a man walks past the Euro sculpture in Frankfurt, Germany. The European Union’s statistics agency says sharply higher oil and gas prices helped push annual inflation in the 19 countries that use the

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The Associated Press
FILE - In this Thursday, March 11, 2021 file photo, a man walks past the Euro sculpture in Frankfurt, Germany. The European Union’s statistics agency says sharply higher oil and gas prices helped push annual inflation in the 19 countries that use the euro to its highest in more than a decade. (AP Photo/Michael Probst, File)

FRANKFURT, Germany -- Sharply higher oil and gas prices have pushed annual inflation in the 19 countries that use the euro to its highest in more than a decade in September. Economists and central bankers say the jump in inflation is temporary, but governments nonetheless are scrambling to ease the pain of higher household utility bills.

The European Union statistics agency Eurostat said Friday that inflation came in at 3.4%, up from 3.0% in August and the highest since 2008.


The overall inflation level was boosted by a jolting 17.4% increase in energy prices. Core inflation, which excludes volatile fuel and food, was more modest at 1.9%.

Economists and the European Central Bank say the recent burst of inflation is temporary and will ease next year. That hasn't removed fears of price spikes and gas shortages this winter due to an extremely tight market for natural gas.

Natural gas traded at 94.46 euros ($109.36) per megawatt hour in Europe on Friday, almost five times higher than at the start of this year. Reasons include strong demand in Asia, less supply from Russia, and cold weather this past winter that left reserves depleted.

Higher prices for natural gas and electricity have spread concern among European governments, which are taking steps to limit rises in residential utility bills through subsidies and tax cuts. Natural gas is a key fuel for generating electricity, so higher gas prices mean costlier electricity bills.

Bigger energy bills could leave consumers with less to spend on other things and present a burden for the European recovery from the pandemic in coming months.

“It looks likely that households’ disposable incomes will be squeezed, weighing on our otherwise solid near-term outlook for consumer spending,” Oxford Economics senior economist Ricardo Amaro said. “However, we don’t expect the ECB will tighten monetary policy settings to counter this rise in inflation.”

Despite higher recent inflation readings, the European Central Bank has indicated it has no plans to tighten monetary policy in response. The central bank sees higher inflation as the result of transient factors such as supply bottlenecks and statistical comparisons to extremely low energy prices a year earlier during the depths of the pandemic recession.

The bank predicts inflation will recede next year, and ECB President Christine Lagarde has said it will not “overreact” by scaling back its support for the economy in order to counter inflation that is only temporary. The central bank's staff projections foresee inflation of only 1.7% next year and 1.5% in 2023, short of the bank's goal of 2% that's considered best for the economy.

The bank's support measures include 1.85 trillion euros ($2.14 trillion) in bond purchases slated to run at least through March 2022, a step aimed at holding down market borrowing costs for companies.

While the ECB has not indicated when it will end the program, inflation that could eventually hit 4% this year in Europe makes it “more likely that the ECB will scale back its asset purchases substantially in March,” wrote Jack Allen-Reynolds, senior Europe economist at Capital Economics, in an emailed comment.


Energy prices drive Europe inflation to highest since 2008 - ABC News (go.com)
 

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Another Tempestuous Balkan Pot Is Boiling
Tyler Durden's Photo

BY TYLER DURDEN
SATURDAY, OCT 02, 2021 - 07:00 AM
Authored by Stephen Karganovic via The Strategic Culture Foundation,
As relations between major geopolitical players steadily deteriorate the Balkans are acquiring increasing importance for NATO powers for exactly the same reasons that they were essential to Nazi Germany in the early forties...


As elections approach, the political atmosphere in the Republika Srpska, Russia’s tiny Balkan ally, is heating up. For at least the last ten years, color revolution turbulence has been the normal accompaniment of every electoral cycle there.

It began initially in 2014
as the Serb autonomous entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina, as it was constituted under the Dayton peace agreement in the wake of the 1992 – 1995 civil war, approached its parliamentary and presidential elections. The consensus within the Euro-Atlantic alliance (the coalition of states roughly co-extensive with NATO and the EU) unmistakably was that the assertive local authorities headed by President Dodik and his political party were unacceptable and that a “regime change” operation should be engineered to replace them with a compliant cast of characters.

Local agents quickly set to work to reproduce the satisfactory results previously obtained with relative ease in other “color revolution” episodes. The usual set of grievances was improvised. They were dramatised through a combination of fake “NGOs” and a relentless propaganda barrage conducted through the media, which was partly owned by Western interests and partly susceptible to their emoluments. A major television station in the city of Bijeljina, with country-wide coverage, was suborned to relentlessly spew the color revolution party line, in the confident expectation of a certain electoral triumph.

But there was an unexpected hitch. The Republika Srpska government and ruling coalition supporting it nearly lost their heads when faced with mounting street agitation, but a group of local citizens supported by allies with international experience in these matters marshalled their limited resources to counter the onslaught. In spite of overwhelming odds they succeeded, the Balkan Maidan never materialised, and the coup de grâce planned for Republica Srpska was temporarily delayed.

The next opportunity to fine tune the scenario came just before the 2018 elections in Republika Srpska. The galvanising spark was the mysterious death of a young man by the name of David Dragicevic, the responsibility for which without any firm evidence was attributed to the authorities, or the “regime” in the parlance of the color revolution phalanx. All the usual mechanisms were again activated to generate a cause célèbre designed to discredit the government and dishearten its supporters. The coup almost succeeded. President Dodik squeaked through with barely an 8,000 vote margin, but the ruling coalition failed to win in Parliament a clear majority necessary to form a government. The matter was resolved in the tried and tested Balkan way – a couple of opposition legislators were generously rewarded to switch sides and the status quo ante was successfully restored.

With predictable regularity, the identical pattern is beginning to repeat itself as the country approaches the 2022 electoral season. New factors have emerged to complicate the political and social landscape. One is the Covid crisis, which has hit the Serbian portion of Bosnia relatively hard. The other is the grave constitutional crisis provoked two months ago by the outgoing EU High representative Valentin Incko. He arbitrarily ordered that a “genocide denial law” – clearly targeting all who question the Srebrenica “genocide” narrative, which is by now sacrosanct almost everywhere but in the Republika Srpska – be inserted in the Criminal Code, prescribing harsh punishment for unbelievers of up to five years. Since practically the entire population of Republika Srpska consists of religious sceptics and outright heretics in this regard, the country might as well be encircled with barbed wire and machine-gun turrets for at least the next five years.

While primarily designed to bring external pressure and internal demoralisation, “Incko’s law,” as it is popularly known, also acted as a cohesive factor by temporarily uniting the government and its opposition against it. But the pact which Western-supported elements of the opposition concluded largely for PR reasons is already seriously fraying and the Serbian political scene is returning to its old fragmented “normal.”

Emerging at the heart of the Incko controversy is the issue of whether the High representative, set up by the Dayton agreement to play a balancing role between the former warring parties (his official job is to “interpret” the peace agreement when the local parties fail to arrive at a common understanding of its provisions), has the authority to expand his powers to the point of imposing laws and altering constitutional arrangements. Banja Luka constitutional law professor Milan Blagojevic has argued forcefully and cogently that he does not. In a series of incisive analyses in his newspaper columns and television appearances he has expounded the view that the micro-managing authority claimed by a succession of High representatives is in reality an insolent bluff, unsupported by any of the provision of the peace agreement that established his office. In protest against what he has harshly denounced as “criminal abuse,” Prof. Blagojevic did something utterly unique in that part of the world. He resigned his parallel job as a District Court judge stating that his conscience forbade him to perform judicial duties in the milieu of lawlessness created by the illegal encroachment of the country’s foreign overlord. Hopefully he will impress other public servants by modelling a sacrificial example of professional integrity for their edification, but realistically no one should hold their breath.

Propelled by unanimous public rejection of what is justifiably perceived as the High representative’s tyrannous act, and perhaps also inspired by the upcoming elections, the government has ratcheted up its rhetoric to the point of openly raising a heretofore taboo topic – possible secession from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Simultaneously, in an evident bow to Prof. Blagojevic’s insistent arguments, it has mentioned the possibility of asking Parliament to annul all previous similarly illicit decrees issued by the High representative, going back at least twenty years. To top off the listed examples of disobedience, former President Dodik, who is now the Serb member of Bosnia’s rotating Presidency, refuses to recognize the legitimacy of the appointment of Incko’s successor, German politician Christian Schmidt, or even meet with him, because he was selected by a committee of NATO governments and not by the UN Security Council, as international legal norms prescribe. In that he has the firm support of the governments of the Russian Federation and China.

So now we come round to the emerging scenario for this season’s color revolution in the Republika Srpska. Clearly, something needs to be done and order must be imposed. The initial plan that was thought up by the Tavistock brain trust is the currently raging oxygen affair. Gene Sharp must be smiling in his grave. Briefly, upon the public spirited complaint filed by Transparency International, a solicitous outfit financed by USAID, alleging that a hospital in the town of Trebinje was using industrial instead of human grade oxygen for the treatment of Covid patients, health inspectors swarmed from Sarajevo (where Republika Srpska can scarcely expect to get any breaks) to determine that indeed there was something fishy about the oxygen formula being used. Gaining traction now are vague and non-evidence based assertions (recall the David Dragicevic affair) that the uncaring “regime” had a corrupt deal with the oxygen provider. The public, who predominantly do not consist of chemists, are being bombarded with highly technical and also politically condimented “information” about grave health risks (on top of the already existing pandemic) posed by the deliberately substituted inferior oxygen. Oddly, no proof of Covid fatalities or testimony of injuries accompanies these accounts of appalling official corruption. Readers with longer memories will remember the staged poisoning affair in Kosovo in 1990, when Albanian school children were instructed to complain of dizziness and stomach cramps provoked by nefarious substances injected in their lunch food by Serb authorities. They all miraculously recovered as soon as foreign correspondents had left. In Trebinje so far no spectacular performances to showcase the government’s public health malfeasance have been organised for the benefit of the international press, but surprises may be in store as the spin continues.

As relations between major geopolitical players steadily deteriorate the Balkans are acquiring increasing importance for NATO powers for exactly the same reasons that they were essential to Nazi Germany in the early forties, to the extent that it was willing to postpone the attack on the Soviet Union and divert its resources in order to first bring the entire area in its orbit. The Serb half of Bosnia is a major piece of the contemporary version of a very similar geopolitical jigsaw puzzle. Russian policy meanderings over the years in that part of the world merit at most a mixed assessment, and that is putting it charitably. Russia cannot afford to further degrade its regional position and security interests by losing Republika Srpska, not to speak of Serbia itself. All the more so because it is not really necessary to be a rocket scientist to figure out how to keep them both firmly and beneficially in its fold
 

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Georgia votes in election shadowed by ex-president’s arrest
By SOPHIKO MEGRELIDZEyesterday


Georgia's President Salome Zurabishvili, center, wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, speaks to journalists at a polling station during national municipal elections in Tbilisi, Georgia, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. Former President Mikheil Saakashvili was arrested after returning to Georgia, the government said Friday, a move that came as the ex-leader sought to mobilize supporters ahead of the national municipal elections seen as critical to the country's political makeup. The elections started Saturday. (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)
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Georgia's President Salome Zurabishvili, center, wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, speaks to journalists at a polling station during national municipal elections in Tbilisi, Georgia, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. Former President Mikheil Saakashvili was arrested after returning to Georgia, the government said Friday, a move that came as the ex-leader sought to mobilize supporters ahead of the national municipal elections seen as critical to the country's political makeup. The elections started Saturday. (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — Georgians voted in municipal elections across the country that were seen as a test for the strength of the ruling party and which opposition parties hoped could lead to an early national election.

The vote Saturday came a day after the arrest of exiled former president Mikheil Saakashvili, who had returned to the country to try to bolster opposition support despite facing prison on convictions for abuse of power that were declared after he left Georgia.

Opinion polls showed more than half the electorate in the former Soviet republic were undecided ahead of the election in which the ruling Georgian Dream party and the United National Movement founded by Saakashvili are the main contenders.

No results had been announced two hours after the polls closed. Official full results are expected on Sunday.

A strong performance by the opposition could raise tensions if Georgians expect that to bring an early national election.

Georgian Dream signed a European Union-brokered agreement in the spring under which an early parliament election would be held if the party gets less than 43% of the vote in the municipal ballots. But it later withdrew from the agreement because the UNM had not signed it, although that party signed after Georgian Dream pulled out of it.

Georgian Dream’s general secretary, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze, said after the polls closed that the parliament election would take place in 2024.

Saakashvili, who left Georgia in 2014 and became a Ukrainian citizen, was arrested hours after he posted videos on Facebook saying he had returned to the country.

He was sentenced to up to six years in prison in absentia, and faces several other court cases stemming from his 2004-13 presidency on charges connected to the violent dispersal of a protest and a raid on a television station started by a political rival.

President Salome Zurabishvili, a former ally who was Saakashvili’s first foreign minister, said Friday that she will not consider offering him a pardon.
 

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Italians vote for mayors of Rome, Milan, other key cities
Millions of people are voting in Italy for new mayors including in the nation's main cities
By FRANCES D'EMILIO Associated Press
3 October 2021, 05:46

Virginia Raggi

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The Associated Press
Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi arrives for a meeting at the Rome's Foreign Press association offices, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021. After five years in office as Rome’s first populist mayor, Virginia Raggi is running for a second term in the city’s Oct. 3-4 election. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

ROME -- Millions of people in Italy started voting Sunday for new mayors, including in Rome and Milan, in an election widely seen as a test of political alliances before nationwide balloting just over a year away.

The two days of voting end on Monday and the first results are expected afterwards. But many voters will have to wait two weeks to learn who their mayor will be
.

Runoffs will be held Oct. 17-18 in municipalities with more than 15,000 people between the top two vote-getters if no single candidate garners more than 50% of the ballots.

Nearly all the mayoral races in the biggest cities, including Rome, Turin, Naples and Bologna, are expected to see runoffs. Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala has told supporters he thinks they might be able to win enough votes to give him another five-year term without a runoff.

Around 12 million people, or roughly 20% of Italy’s population, are eligible to vote in the mayoral races.

Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi, a prominent populist 5-Star Movement figure, has been fighting an uphill battle to keep her office. Opinion polls indicated that the likely two top vote-getters in the 22-candidate field will be a center-left Democratic and a right-wing candidate who is backed by anti-migrant League leader Matteo Salvini and far-right leader Giorgia Meloni and her Brothers of Italy party with neo-fascist roots.

When Raggi took the helm of the city in 2016, she inherited a mess, and many of the the Italian capital's problems persist. Piles of uncollected trash still blighted the city, several subway stations were shut down for months for maintenance and aging buses often broke down on their routes, sometimes going on fire, during her tenure.

Besides casting her ballot, Raggi on Sunday morning inspected the site of a fire that damaged a bridge spanning the Tiber and a settlement of riverbank shacks occupied by homeless persons, another illustration of Rome's chronic problems.

Salvini and Meloni, while officially right-wing allies, have been warily sizing each other up, since both have ambitions to be Italian premier. A parliamentary election is due in early 2023, but both leaders have been pressing to vote sooner.

The 5-Star Movement, currently Parliament's largest party, has suffered internal bickering. Its newly elected leader, former Premier Giuseppe Conte, who has been trying to heal the divisions, heavily backed Raggi and rebuffed overtures by the Democrat Party to throw its backing behind the Democrat running to be Rome's mayor.

The Democrats will likely need an alliance with the Movement to counter the rising popularity of right-wing forces when national elections are held. After national elections, alliances will be crucial in forming a government, since in Italy’s fractured political spectrum, no one party can count on any significant likelihood of governing alone.

Thus, how the mayoral campaign alliances fare in this month’s municipal races will be dissected as a possible indication of Italians’ sentiment when they next vote for national leadership.

"The competition (and the barometer) of the leaders” of the political party chiefs' jockeying for advantage, Corriere della Sera's headline about the voting said.

Salvini’s League is a coalition member of Premier Mario Draghi’s unity government, formed earlier this year to lead the country through the COVID-19 pandemic. Meloni was the only major leader to refuse to join the unusual coalition, which includes technocrats as well as ministers from leftist, centrists, right-wing and populist parties.

Since the 5-Stars triumph in the last election for Parliament, in 2018, the Movement's popularity plummeted in gubernatorial balloting and in public opinion polls.

Voters in southern Calabria in the “toe” of the Italian peninsula are also electing a governor, replacing one who died of cancer while in office last year.

Italians vote for mayors of Rome, Milan, other key cities - ABC News (go.com)
 

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Leaked records open a ‘Pandora’ box of financial secrets
By MICHAEL LIEDTKE and JONATHAN MATTISEa minute ago


FILE - Jordan's King Abdullah II speaks during a media conference prior to a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at NATO headquarters in Brussels, in this Wednesday, May 5, 2021, file photo. Hundreds of world leaders, powerful politicians, billionaires, celebrities, religious leaders and drug dealers have been stashing away their investments in mansions, exclusive beachfront property, yachts and other assets for the past quarter century, according to a review of nearly 12 million files obtained from 14 different firms located around the world. The report released Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists involved 600 journalists from 150 media outlets in 117 countries. Jordan's King Abdullah II is one of 330 current and former politicians identified as beneficiaries of the secret accounts.  (Johanna Geron, Pool via AP, File)
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FILE - Jordan's King Abdullah II speaks during a media conference prior to a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at NATO headquarters in Brussels, in this Wednesday, May 5, 2021, file photo. Hundreds of world leaders, powerful politicians, billionaires, celebrities, religious leaders and drug dealers have been stashing away their investments in mansions, exclusive beachfront property, yachts and other assets for the past quarter century, according to a review of nearly 12 million files obtained from 14 different firms located around the world. The report released Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists involved 600 journalists from 150 media outlets in 117 countries. Jordan's King Abdullah II is one of 330 current and former politicians identified as beneficiaries of the secret accounts. (Johanna Geron, Pool via AP, File)

Hundreds of world leaders, powerful politicians, billionaires, celebrities, religious leaders and drug dealers have been hiding their investments in mansions, exclusive beachfront property, yachts and other assets for the past quarter-century, according to a review of nearly 12 million files obtained from 14 firms located around the world.

The report released Sunday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists involved 600 journalists from 150 media outlets in 117 countries. It’s being dubbed the “Pandora Papers” because the findings shed light on the previously hidden dealings of the elite and the corrupt, and how they have used offshore accounts to shield assets collectively worth trillions of dollars.

The more than 330 current and former politicians identified as beneficiaries of the secret accounts include Jordan’s King Abdullah II, former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, Czech Republic Prime Minister Andrej Babis, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso, and associates of both Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The billionaires called out in the report include Turkish construction mogul Erman Ilicak and Robert T. Brockman, the former CEO of software maker Reynolds & Reynolds.

Many of the accounts were designed to evade taxes and conceal assets for other shady reasons, according to the report.

“The new data leak must be a wake-up call,” said Sven Giegold, a Green party lawmaker in the European Parliament. “Global tax evasion fuels global inequality. We need to expand and sharpen the countermeasures now.”

Oxfam International, a British consortium of charities, applauded the Pandora Papers for exposing brazen examples of greed that deprived countries of tax revenue that could be used to finance programs and projects for the greater good.

“This is where our missing hospitals are,” Oxfam said in a statement. “This is where the pay-packets sit of all the extra teachers and firefighters and public servants we need. Whenever a politician or business leader claims there is ‘no money’ to pay for climate damage and innovation, for more and better jobs, for a fair post-COVID recovery, for more overseas aid, they know where to look.”

The Pandora Papers are a follow-up to a similar project released in 2016 called the “Panama Papers” compiled by the same journalistic group.

The latest bombshell is even more expansive, porting through nearly 3 terabytes of data — the equivalent of roughly 750,000 photos on a smartphone — leaked from 14 different service providers doing business in 38 different jurisdictions in the world. The records date back to the 1970s, but most of the files span from 1996 to 2020.

In contrast, the Panama Papers culled through 2.6 terabytes of data leaked by one now-defunct law firm called Mossack Fonseca that was located in the country that inspired that project’s nickname.


The latest investigation dug into accounts registered in familiar offshore havens, including the British Virgin Islands, Seychelles, Hong Kong and Belize. But some of the secret accounts were also scattered around in trusts set up in the U.S., including 81 in South Dakota and 37 in Florida.

Some of the initial findings released Sunday painted a sordid picture of the prominent people involved.

For instance, the investigation found advisers helped King Abdullah II of Jordan set up at least three dozen shell companies from 1995 to 2017, helping the monarch buy 14 homes worth more than $106 million in the U.S. and the U.K. One was a $23 million California ocean-view property bought in 2017 through a British Virgin Islands company. The advisers were identified as an English accountant in Switzerland and lawyers in the British Virgin Islands.
There was no immediate comment from Jordan’s Royal Palace.

The details are an embarrassing blow to Abdullah, whose government was engulfed in scandal this year when his half brother, former Crown Prince Hamzah, accused the “ruling system” of corruption and incompetence. The king claimed he was the victim of a “malicious plot,” placed his half brother under house arrest and put two former close aides on trial.

U.K attorneys for Abdullah said he isn’t required to pay taxes under his country’s law and hasn’t misused public funds, adding that there are security and privacy reasons for him to have holdings through offshore companies, according to the report. The attorneys also said most of the companies and properties are not connected to the king or no longer exist, though they declined to provide details.

Blair, U.K. prime minister from 1997 to 2007, became the owner of an $8.8 million Victorian building in 2017 by buying a British Virgin Islands company that held the property, and the building now hosts the law firm of his wife, Cherie Blair, according to the the investigation.

The two bought the company from the family of Bahrain’s industry and tourism minister, Zayed bin Rashid al-Zayani. Buying the company shares instead of the London building saved the Blairs more than $400,000 in property taxes, the investigation found.

The Blairs and the al-Zayanis both said they didn’t initially know the other party was involved in the deal, the probe found. Cherie Blair said her husband wasn’t involved in the purchase, which she said was meant to bring “the company and the building back into the U.K. tax and regulatory regime.” She also said she did not want to own a British Virgin Islands company and that the “seller for their own purposes only wanted to sell the company,” which is now closed.

A lawyer for the al-Zayanis said they complied with U.K. laws.

Khan, the Pakistani prime minister, is not accused of any wrongdoing. But members of his inner circle, including Finance Minister Shaukat Fayaz Ahmed Tarin, are accused of hiding millions of dollars in wealth in secret companies or trusts, according to the journalists’ findings.

In a tweet, Khan vowed to recover the “ill-gotten gains” and said his government will look into all citizens mentioned in the documents and take action, if needed.

The consortium of journalists revealed Putin’s image-maker and chief executive of Russia’s leading TV station, Konstantin Ernst, got a discount to buy and develop Soviet-era cinemas and surrounding property in Moscow after he directed the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Ernst told the organization the deal wasn’t secret and denied suggestions he was given special treatment.

In 2009, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis put $22 million into shell companies to buy a chateau property in a hilltop village in Mougins, France, near Cannes, the investigation found. The shell companies and the chateau were not disclosed in Babis’ required asset declarations, according to documents obtained by the journalism group’s Czech partner, Investigace.cz.

A real estate group owned indirectly by Babis bought the Monaco company that owned the chateau in 2018, the probe found.

“I was waiting for them to bring something right before the election to harm me and influence the Czech election,” Babis tweeted in his first reaction to the report.
The Czech Republic parliamentary election is being held on Friday and Saturday.
“I’ve never done anything illegal or wrong,” Babis added.
___
Liedtke reported from San Ramon, California, and Mattise reported from Nashville, Tennessee. Associated Press writers Karel Janicek in the Czech Republic, Frank Jordans in Berlin, Josef Federman in Jerusalem, John Rice in Mexico City, Kathy Gannon in Islamabad, Pakistan, and Felicia Fonseca in Phoenix contributed to this report.
 

northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Electricity Bills In Italy Rise By Almost 30 Percent From Friday

BY TYLER DURDEN
ZERO HEDGE
MONDAY, OCT 04, 2021 - 02:00 AM

By TheLocal Italy,

Household electricity bills will rise by 29.8% for the typical family and gas bills will go up by 14.4%, Italy’s energy regulatory authority Arera confirmed in a press release last week. The new national tariffs came into effect on Friday, the start of the fourth quarter of 2021. The increase comes amid surging energy costs across Europe, and beyond.



The price rise passed on to Italian consumers could’ve reached 45 percent, Arera said, if the government had not stepped in to cap the new rise in rates.

The Italian government last week announced measures costing three billion euros aimed at limiting a steeper rise in energy prices for consumers.

As well as keeping the cost to most families below 30 percent and 15 percent, the government measures will keep additional costs at zero for those least well-off, including households with an income under 8,265 euros, families with at least 4 dependent children with an income of less than 20,000 euros, those who receive a state pension or unemployment benefit, and people who are seriously ill, Sky TG24 reports.

The measures also cut the ‘general charge’ from gas bills for all throughout the last quarter of 2021, and on electricity for families and some small businesses.

Last quarter, the retail cost of electricity rose by 9.9% and gas by 15.3% from July 1st. The government also stepped in that time to cap costs, with 1.2 billion euros in state aid.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said last week that many of the reasons for the energy price increases were temporary but called for long-term action, including at a European level, to address the problem, including through diversifying supplies.

Italy is highly dependent on imports and consumes a large amount of gas. Some 40% of its primary energy consumption is gas, compared with about 15 percent in France, according to official statistics for both countries.

Europe is facing soaring power prices as its economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, while natural gas reserves are at a worrying low level as winter approaches.

Italian consumers are now paying some of the highest electricity prices in Europe, with the average cost already at 145.03 euros per mw/h (megawatt hour) according to newspaper Corriere della Sera.

This means the cost is higher than in Portugal and in Spain, where electricity costs have soared to 141.71 euros per mw/h, reaching an all-time high on September 9th after significant price rises across much of Europe over the past 12 months.

Electricity Bills In Italy Rise By Almost 30 Percent From Friday | ZeroHedge
 

northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Russia test-fires new hypersonic missile from submarine
A prospective Russian hypersonic missile has been successfully test-fired from a nuclear submarine for the first time
By The Associated Press
4 October 2021, 04:31



MOSCOW -- A prospective Russian hypersonic missile has been successfully test-fired from a nuclear submarine for the first time, the military said Monday.

The Russian Defense Ministry said that the Severodvinsk submarine performed two launches of the Zircon cruise missile at mock targets in the Barents Sea
.

It first test-fired Zircon from the surface, and then launched another missile from a submerged position in the White Sea.

The launch marked Zircon's first launch from a submarine. It previously has been repeatedly test-fired from a navy frigate, most recently in July.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Zircon would be capable of flying at nine times the speed of sound and have a range of 1,000 kilometers (620 miles). Putin has emphasized that its deployment will significantly boost Russian military capability.

Officials said Zircon's tests are to be completed later this year and it will be commissioned by the Russian navy in 2022.

Zircon is intended to arm Russian cruisers, frigates and submarines. It is one of several hypersonic missiles under development in Russia.

The Kremlin has made modernizing the country’s arsenals a top priority amid the tensions with the West that followed Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

Russia test-fires new hypersonic missile from submarine - ABC News (go.com)
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Brexit: UK gives EU ultimatum over Northern Ireland protocol
The UK has given Brussels ten days to respond to its demands over customs checkpoints in the Irish Sea. The UK's Brexit minister has told the EU to rethink the terms of its trade accord.



UK Brexit Minister David Frost
David Frost blamed the EU's "heavy-handed" approach for the crisis

The UK threatened to take unilateral action on Monday, in defiance of the EU, to stop a de facto customs border in the Irish Sea.

This comes after repeated rejections from the EU to re-negotiate part of the Brexit deal regarding Northern Ireland.

"That may in the end be the only way to protect our country, our people, our trade, our territorial integrity, the peace process, and the benefits of this great UK of which we are all part," said Brexit Minister David Frost at a conference of his Conservative party.

He added, however, that he would exhaust all other solutions before triggering Article 16, a back-door measure in the country's deal with the EU that allows either party to back out of a condition it finds to be harmful.

What is the Northern Ireland Protocol?
One of the thorniest issues in the Brexit negotiations was the future of the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. An open border is a key feature of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement — a peace deal that ended decades of sectarian violence over the issue of Northern Ireland unifying with the Irish Republic or remaining part of the UK.

In 2019, the UK and the EU agreed to install customs checkpoints on shipping lanes between Great Britain and Northern Ireland to prevent goods from entering the EU illegally. This part of the agreement was met with fury from Northern Irish unionists, who said it compromises their position in the wider UK.

After Britain left the EU's single market at the start of 2021,difficulties in moving goods from the mainland to Northern Ireland have mounted. However, the EU has maintained that it will not renegotiate a deal that both parties agreed to in good faith.

"Yes, we agreed the protocol in that difficult autumn of 2019. We knew we were taking a risk, but a worthy one," Frost said, as he tried to address criticism of the government signing off on the deal. He added that "we worried right from the start that the protocol would not take the strain if not handled sensitively. As it has turned out, we were right. The arrangements have begun to come apart even more quickly than we feared."

What happens next?
The UK said it would give Brussels ten days to respond to its demands, and will likely trigger Article 16 in November if nothing changes.

"We are working intensively to find practical solutions to some of the difficulties that people in Northern Ireland are experiencing," European Commission spokesman Daniel Ferrie told reporters on Monday.

European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic, who oversees post-Brexit EU relations with Britain, said he is readying a set of proposals to present to lawmakers that he hopes will ease the difficulties in the Irish Sea.

Brexit has made the headlines again in recent weeks as Britain experiences fuel shortages and empty supermarket shelves in some areas. Experts have said the issues are related to Britain's exit from the European Union due to a lack of truck drivers and bottlenecks in supply chains.
es/jsi (AFP, Reuters)
 

northern watch

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Poland Central Bank To Buy 100 Tons Of Gold In 2022

BY TYLER DURDEN
ZERO HEDGE
TUESDAY, OCT 05, 2021 - 09:45 PM

In a time when institutions are increasingly shifting away from fiat currency and looking toward cryptos, it is worth recalling that at least when it comes to central banks, there is no digital gold. There is just gold.

To be sure, in a time of unprecedented economic and social turmoil, central bankers’ appetite for gold continues to grow, providing a bright spot for the traditional haven as investor interest ebbs. According to the World Gold Council, global reserves expanded 333.2 tons in the first half of 2021, 39% higher than the five-year average for the period. Strong purchases by Thailand, Hungary and Brazil stood out, with WGC analyst Louise Street predicting that If central banks continue to buy at the levels seen recently, it will provide a supportive element for the market.





Alas, the past year has not been kind to gold and after rising above $2000 during the hyper-print phase of the covid pandemic, gold has steadily declined to the mid $1700s as a global surge in inflation has forced central banks to restart monetary tightening.



However, for at least one central bank gold's continued decline is welcome news, because according to Poland's Gazeta Wroclawska, Governor Adam Glapinski - the head of the country's central bank, the National Bank of Poland - plans to increase gold reserves by 100 tons next year to strengthen country’s financial stability.

In the interview, Glapinski said his plan may take effect when he will be re- elected as Governor as his current term ends in mid-2022. However, in the same interview, the governor also said he plans to introduce 1,000 zloty banknote, an indication that the gold may be coming only to offset even more money printing down the line.

No matter his intentions, however, Glapinski has been good for Poland's gold reserves: during his term, the amount of gold in reserves has more than doubled to 229 metric tons.




Poland Central Bank To Buy 100 Tons Of Gold In 2022 | ZeroHedge
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Germany: Police raids in 3 states target international money laundering network
Police special forces units have carried out raids North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Bremen. It's thought that some illegal profits may have been channeled to finance terror activities in Syria.



Three police officers stand near a doorway
German police outside an apartment in the western city of Wuppertal during an early morning raid

More than 1,000 police and special forces officers raided homes, offices and businesses in three German states early Wednesday morning.

Officials were targeting an international money laundering network suspected to be involved in terror financing, German media reported citing police.

Police said the raids in North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Bremen at around 80 different locations were aimed at collecting evidence and seizing illegal assets. At least 10 suspects were arrested.

"The operation is ongoing," a police spokesperson told Germany's DPA news agency Monday morning.

Investigators with the public prosecutors in the western city of Düsseldorf spent months investigating and collecting evidence against the suspected criminal gangs.

The raids were said to have been particularly focused on that city along with nearby Wuppertal.

Germany's WDR broadcaster reported that the network of money smugglers is said to have transferred over €100 million from illegal transactions to Turkey and Syria, and possibly funneled to terror groups.
A police officer stands in a doorway
The raids were carried out at over 80 locations in three states

Chance incident launches probe
The investigation is said to have started with a chance encounter, according to the news organization WDR.

Customs officers stepped in to help when a car was driven into a ditch at a highway exit near the German-Dutch border.

They offered to help two men who appeared slightly injured but refused any assistance. Realizing that something was wrong, they took a closer look at the car and discovered a gym bag with €300,000 (almost $350,000) inside.

One of the occupants was a Syrian national, Halid A., who was in the sights of the authorities for some time. He was already suspected of having supported "Islamic State" fighters in the Syrian province of Idlib. Until then, however, the suspicions were not enough for an arrest warrant.

Also in the vehicle was a German national, Manfred T., who, it's thought, was not on the authorities' radar.

Officials suspect money came from the Netherlands and that it was set to be transferred by the illegal hawala transfer network. The system uses a huge number of money brokers to move cash value illegally, avoiding traditional banking and financial systems.

The investigators placed the pair under investigation and discovered they were part of a larger group collecting money from refugees in Germany to send to Turkey or Syria. Some wanted to support their families with it.
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB


Without Lockdowns, Sweden Had Fewer Excess Deaths Than Most Of Europe
Tyler Durden's Photo

BY TYLER DURDEN
WEDNESDAY, OCT 06, 2021 - 06:30 AM
Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,
It’s now been more than eighteen months since governments began the new social experiment now known as “lockdowns.”

Prior to 2020, forced “social distancing” was generally considered to be too costly in societal terms to justify such a risky experiment.


Yet in 2020, led by health technocrats at the World Health Organization, nearly all national governments in the world suddenly and without precedent embraced the idea of lockdowns.
On the other hand, the Swedish regime rejected the idea.

For this act of iconoclasm, the Swedish government was pilloried by media organizations and non-Swedish government officials worldwide. The predictions of doom and of a widespread Swedish bloodbath were ubiquitous. Months later, even when it became clear Sweden was not the death-addled outlier many assumed it would be, it was common to see articles declaring Swedish covid policy to be a “disaster.”

Even eighteen months later, as the Sweden-is-doomed narrative broke down even more, critics of Sweden contort themselves to create an anti-Swedish narrative. Consider this August 2021 article at Business Insider, for example, which carefully slices and dices the data to make Sweden’s outcomes look bad. The author slyly writes:
Since the start of the pandemic, roughly 11 out of every 100 people in Sweden have been diagnosed with COVID-19, compared with 9.4 out of every 100 in the UK and 7.4 per 100 in Italy. Sweden has also recorded around 145 COVID-19 deaths for every 100,000 people — around three times more than Denmark, eight times more than Finland, and nearly 10 times more than Norway.
Note the sleight of hand used here. In one sentence, the comparison focuses on diagnoses compared to the UK and Italy. This is surely because actual deaths from covid are fewer per million in Sweden than in either of the UK or Italy. Indeed, the author with this comparison only succeeds in showing us that covid is less fatal in Sweden where there are more cases but fewer deaths. The author then quickly changes the subject to comparisons in deaths so as to make sure Sweden compares unfavorably to Denmark, Finland, and Norway.

These claims are becoming increasingly desperate, since in terms of excess deaths Sweden is better off than most of Europe overall, and also better off than most other northern European countries. (And much better than southern European countries.) Moreover, "excess mortality" is a better measure of deaths in a given country since it provides a broader view of the actual effects of both covid and covid policy.

Certainly, one can find some European regimes that had fewer deaths proportionally. Norway, Denmark, and Finland have remarkably low numbers of covid deaths compared to all of Europe.

But this fails to explain why Sweden’s non-bloodbath compares favorably to most EU member states, including France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and others.

For example, as of late August, excess mortality in Sweden was approximately 785 per million people. In France, the total is 988 per million, and in Spain, it is 1,917 per million. In EU nonmember the United Kingdom, the total is 1,657 per million.


This trend was already becoming apparent months ago, and in March Reuters reported,
Sweden had 7.7% more deaths in 2020 than its average for the preceding four years. Countries that opted for several periods of strict lockdowns, such as Spain and Belgium, had so-called excess mortality of 18.1% and 16.2% respectively…. Twenty-one of the 30 countries with available statistics had higher excess mortality than Sweden.
Other data, also according to Reuters, "which included an adjustment to account for differences in both the age structures and seasonal mortality patterns of countries analysed," Placed Sweden at eighteenth out of twenty-six in terms of mortality. The "highest" ranked—that is, the worst ranked—were Poland, Spain, and Belgium.

Another way of comparing Sweden to the rest of Europe is to look at excess mortality in 2020 and 2021 compared to “average monthly deaths” from 2016 to 2019.

In the time since February 2020, total deaths (measured as a percentage of the 2016–19 average) were lower in Sweden than in the "EU 27" in fourteen out of eighteen months.


Granting that Denmark, Norway, and Finland all compare favorably against Sweden, most other European countries can't boast of such things.

Compared to France, Sweden’s excess monthly deaths were lower in thirteen out of eighteen months in that period. Comparisons were similar when looking at the Netherlands, Spain, and Italy. Indeed, among Europe’s large nations, only Germany fares better than Sweden.

So, yes, if we insist on cherry-picking exactly three countries to which to compare Sweden—i.e., Finland, Denmark, and Norway—Sweden looks like some kind of outlier. But with most other countries in Europe, plus the UK, Sweden compares well. Moreover, even if Sweden were only “about the same” as other European countries, this would still contradict the prophecies of doom handed down by the public health technocrats.

None of this "proves" of course that Sweden adopted the ideal response to the spread of disease. But at the very least, the Sweden experience betrays the solemn predictions of so many health "experts" who predicted total disaster for Sweden. Moreover, even if Sweden did have worse outcomes than most of Europe, that would not justify the widespread destruction of human rights necessary to force people into lockdowns, unemployment, and social isolation. The utilitarian approach is a road to untrammeled state power. But even the utilitarian approach doesn't work for the lockdown advocates who fail even by their own metrics.
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Germany repatriates women and children with links to 'IS'
Several women with ties to the group are being held in custody after returning to Germany. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the women "will have to answer for their acts." The children will be placed in protective care.



Frankfurt airport
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the repatriated women with links to the so-called Islamic State will have to 'answer for their acts'

Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said late Wednesday that eight German women who had joined the so-called Islamic State (IS) terror group have been repatriated to Germany from Syria.

Twenty-three children had also been brought back to Germany.

Maas said: "The children are not responsible for their situation ... the mothers will have to answer for their acts."

Authorities will investigate repatriated women
The aircraft carrying the women and children landed at Frankfurt International Airport late Wednesday night.

Upon arrival most of the women were taken into custody and are under criminal investigation.
Security sources told Germany's DPA news agency that six of the women had arrest warrants issued against them.

Germany had arranged the repatriation along with Denmark, which received three women and 14 children as part of the mission, according to Maas.

The German foreign minister said it was important to do everything possible for the returned children "to live in safety and in a good environment."

The Foreign Ministry said the children are in "particular need of protection." Youth welfare authorities are checking where the children could be placed. Some still have legal guardians in Germany.

Watch video02:02
Suspected 'Islamic State' leader in Germany faces verdict
Where were the women in Syria?

Before returning to Germany the women and children had been held at a detention camp in Roj in northeastern Syria.

Last month it was reported that two children were dying each week in the Roj and al-Hol detention camps. Families of IS fighters were taken to these facilities after the terror group's final stand in in Baghouz, which signaled its collapse.

Western governments are grappling with the question of what to do with citizens and their families who left to join 'IS' since the group began to fall in March 2019.

There has been a level of reluctance to accept the return of people who had been involved with the terror group, largely due to concerns around the potential threat they pose and negative public opinion.

In Germany, several previous returnees have already stood trial on suspicion of terrorism and other charges.
kb/jsi (AFP, dpa)
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

EU summit: No firm timeline for Western Balkans accession
EU leaders reaffirmed commitment for six Western Balkan countries to join the union but held off opening full negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia.



Group photo of EU leaders at summit in Brdo
Leaders made little progress at an EU-Western Balkans summit on accession

EU and Western Balkan leaders have wrapped up a one-day summit in Brdo Castle in Slovenia with promises for greater integration but didn't commit to a solid timeline for the six countries to join the 27-member bloc.

"The Western Balkans are part of the same Europe as the European Union. The EU is not complete without them," EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. "My commission will do its utmost to advance the accession process."


Watch video00:25
Von der Leyen: 'The Western Balkans belong to the European Union'
But the EU's executive arm, her Commission, is paralyzed by leaders of the EU's national governments, all of whom possess a veto option on opening negotiations.

"In all frankness, there is discussion among the 27 about our capacity to take in new members," said EU Council President Charles Michel, who chairs the meetings of EU leaders.

The EU did agree to create a new €9 billion economic and investment plan for the six Western Balkan countries.

A joint declaration after the summit saw the EU "reaffirm its unequivocal support for the European perspective of the Western Balkans and welcome the commitment of the Western Balkans partners to the European perspective."

Recent focus remains on Albania and North Macedonia which have met reform demands from the EU and are expecting to be invited to a formal conference to launch their accession negotiations.

The process for the two is what the bloc calls "coupled."
EU leaders at summit
Bulgarian PM Rumen Radev (far left) and North Macedonian PM Zoran Zaev (second from left) are still at loggerheads about culture and language

Bulgarian veto
Bulgaria is exercising its veto over a longstanding dispute with North Macedonia about culture and language.

After the summit, North Macedonia's prime minister, Zoran Zaev, said that if EU promises don't materialize, "people in the Western Balkans will feel big disappointment that will create huge damage to the European idea of unity and cooperation.'' His position has support within the EU.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said, "I pleaded with the Bulgarian president to deblock the situation with North Macedonia."

The dispute with North Macedonia is unlikely to be resolved until a government can be formed in Sofia.

It remains a crucial election issue with Bulgarians, who are soon heading back to vote for the third time this year after two prior attempts failed to produce a clear winner.

Germany against firm timeline
The presidents and prime ministers of Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina were also all present for the summit – the countries are all at different stages of EU accession.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she doesn't support creating a firm timeline to open talks.

"When the conditions are met, accession can take place," said the outgoing chancellor. "But so far, no accession could take place because the conditions haven't yet been met by any of the countries.''
Angela Merkel walking with handbag
Angela Merkel pleaded against a firm timeline for now

The EU demands stringent reforms on justice, press freedom and the fights against corruption and organized crime.

France is also reluctant for the EU to grow in number, with Brussels already accusing member states like Poland and Hungary of breaching democratic values.

Ahead of the meeting, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama blamed the EU's internal fights for the holdup in talks.

"We have learned the hard way not to expect anything" Rama told Albanian press. "Europe is not in a very good moment, with many internal problems, enlargement is not received with enthusiasm."

Spain's PM joins for the first time
One breakthrough at the summit in Slovenia was the fact that Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was present.

He is the first to sit at the table of an EU-Western Balkan summit since Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

EU member states Slovakia, Romania, Greece, Cyprus and Spain do not recognize Kosovo as an independent country. Spain doesn't want to legitimize separatist movements as it battles with a breakaway attempt of its own, in Catalonia.


Watch video12:01
Osmani: If Kosovo delivers, the European Union should also deliver
EU-Serbia ructions

Heightened tensions on the Serbia-Kosovo border over a fight about car license plates were cooled following EU-mediated discussion. But experts warn the EU still has a huge credibility issues in the Western Balkans on this issue.

Majda Ruge, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) told DW that the EU's reluctance to criticize Serbia is becoming a big problem.

"The EU is simply not using its leverage in Belgrade properly," she said. "Serbia is flexing its military muscle in the region and implicitly threatening its neighbors. For Kosovo, strong statements against this would be much more important even than recognition from the five countries in the EU.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was also forced to defend her staff at the summit. A report from news and current affairs portal Politico claims EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi from Hungary has been watering down judicial and democratic demands on Serbia during its accession process.

But von der Leyen insisted that "all commissioners have my full confidence."


Watch video26:01
Zoran Zaev on Conflict Zone
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

In Stunning Rebuke, Poland's Top Court Rules Polish Law Takes Presedence Over The EU
Tyler Durden's Photo

BY TYLER DURDEN
THURSDAY, OCT 07, 2021 - 09:10 PM
In a stinging rebuke to Europe's unelected bureaucrats, and a major escalation in the rule of law crisis between Warsaw and Brussels, Poland's constitutional court ruled on Thursday that Polish law can take precedence over EU law amid an ongoing dispute between the European bloc and the eastern European member state. The decision by the Constitutional Tribunal came after Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki requested a review of a decision by the EU's Court of Justice (ECJ) that gave the bloc's law primacy. Two out of 14 judges on the panel dissented from the majority opinion.

"The attempt by the European Court of Justice to involve itself with Polish legal mechanisms violates ... the rules that give priority to the constitution and rules that respect sovereignty amid the process of European integration," the ruling said, in an outcome that could have wide-reaching consequences for Europe when the next crisis hits.

Meanwhile, Brussels considers the Constitutional Tribunal illegitimate due to the political influence imposed upon Poland's judiciary by the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS).

As the FT's Henry Foy notes, it is "Hard to overstate the importance of this ruling." He goes on to note that "Poland is *the* EU success story of eastern enlargement, and the biggest recipient - by a long long way - of EU taxpayer money since 2004. And now it is saying that it refuses to recognize a fundamental part of the whole project."
View: https://twitter.com/HenryJFoy/status/1446147817060372492?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1446147817060372492%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_c10&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com%2Fmarkets%2Fstunning-rebuke-polands-top-court-rules-polish-law-takes-presedence-over-eu


As DW reports, the court had looked specifically at the compatibility of provisions from EU treaties, which are used by the European Commission to justify having a say in the rule of law in member states, with Poland's constitution.

A ruling by the ECJ in March said that the EU can force member states to disregard certain provisions in national law, including constitutional law. The ECJ says that Poland's recently implemented procedure for appointing members of its Supreme Court amounts to a violation of EU law. The ruling from the ECJ could potentially force Poland to repeal parts of the controversial judicial reform.

Meanwhile, the EU is withholding billions of euros of aid for post-pandemic rebuilding in Poland over concerns that the rule of law is being degraded in the country.

"The primacy of constitutional law over other sources of law results directly from the Constitution of the Republic of Poland," PiS government spokesman Piotr Muller wrote on Twitter after the court's decision. "Today (once again) this has been clearly confirmed by the Constitutional Tribunal."
View: https://twitter.com/PiotrMuller/status/1446135343690878977?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1446135343690878977%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_c10&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com%2Fmarkets%2Fstunning-rebuke-polands-top-court-rules-polish-law-takes-presedence-over-eu



However, the EPP group, the center-right bloc in the European Parliament to which PiS belongs, come out strongly against the court's ruling: "It’s hard to believe the Polish authorities and the PiS Party when they claim that they don’t want to put an end to Poland’s membership of the EU. Their actions go in the opposite direction. Enough is enough," Jeroen Lenaers, MEP and spokesperson for the group, said. "The Polish Government has lost its credibility. This is an attack on the EU as a whole," he added.

Previously, the European Parliament called on Morawiecki to cancel the court case in a resolution passed last month. It stressed the "fundamental nature of primacy of EU law as a cornerstone principle of EU law", which however now is put in doubt.

Poland has come under repeated fire from the EU including over issues to do with LGBTQ rights and women's rights and media freedom, and in general for refusing to do whatever Brussels tells it do.

As DW notes, the judiciary reforms by the PiS government have been seen as a threat to Poland's membership within the 27-member bloc as well as to the stability of the EU as a whole.

That said, the court's decision on Thursday came as little surprise. The presiding judge, Julia Przylebska, is a government loyalist who was appointed by the ruling party. Similar to the highly partial US Supreme Court justices who are anything but impartial themselves.


Jack Parrock, DW's correspondent in Brussels, highlighted the importance the decision could have on Poland's role in the EU.

"One of the cornerstones of EU membership is that EU law has primacy over all other laws and that the European Court of Justice is the top court within the European Union and what these judges are saying is that in some aspects they don't believe that that is the case," he told DW.

"This all started because the European Court of Justice essentially ruled that certain aspects of judicial tampering that the government was doing in Poland's judiciary were not in line with EU law," Parrock explained.

"This has been an ongoing saga, and this is a pretty major issue now for the EU. We've already seen some pretty strong reactions coming from European parliamentarians and I'm sure we're going to see some harsh criticism of this ruling coming from the European Commission," he added.

Needless to say, the EU was not happy, and promptly escalated the war of words tweeting that "The Commission will not hesitate to make use of its powers under the Treaties to safeguard the uniform application & integrity of Union law."

View: https://twitter.com/YanniKouts/status/1446173556660973579?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1446173556660973579%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_c10&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com%2Fmarkets%2Fstunning-rebuke-polands-top-court-rules-polish-law-takes-presedence-over-eu
 

Zagdid

Veteran Member

Belarus forces open fire on Polish troops over border
Published Friday, Oct. 8, 2021 | 6:27 a.m.
Updated 1 hour, 20 minutes ago

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s prime minister on Friday expressed support for the army troops and the border guards protecting the frontier with Belarus from migration pressure after shots were fired at the Polish troops by Belarusian forces.

Premier Mateusz Morawiecki said on Twitter that “all state powers” were with the border guards and the military protecting the border.
“I am and I always will be firmly with our soldiers and our Border Guards," Morawiecki said on Twitter. “I want to thank our services for their professional and responsible approach.”

Earlier Friday, a spokeswoman for Poland's Border Guards said Belarusian forces fired shots at Poland's troops across the European Union's eastern border Thursday.

Anna Michalska said no one was hurt and that most probably blank ammunition was used. She said the guards were under increasing pressure and stress as there was a growing number of incidents in which objects were being thrown at Poland's servicemen from the Belarus side.

EU members Poland, Lithuania and Latvia are guarding their borders against pressure of migrants from the Middle East and Africa, saying they are being organized and encouraged by the Moscow-backed Belarusian government, seeking to destabilize the EU in retaliation for western sanctions on the authoritarian government in Minsk.
 

northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
NATO’s Big Concern from Russia’s Zapad Exercise: Putin’s Forces Lingering in Belarus
The Russian-Belarusian exercise may be over, but its biggest question - what Russian forces stay behind in Belarus - will now be answered.
By REUBEN JOHNSON
Breaking Defense
on October 04, 2021 at 2:30 PM

KIEV: Between Sept. 10-16, Russia conducted Zapad-2021, the latest instalment of its quadrennial joint military exercises with the Republic of Belarus — part of which is conducted in the latter nation’s territory. Now, a week later, there are signs that the over 200,000 troops who participated may be not all be heading back home.

On the world stage, Zapad is perhaps best known for its tradition of closing a massive display of exploding ordnance — conducted at a distance where Russian President Vladimir Putin can view the series of explosions through a pair of high-definition (and high-priced) binoculars.

The so-called “shock and awe” effect of this firepower demonstration — what the Russian military calls the “hot phase” of the exercise — is primarily what makes it to TV screens and internet channels. The intention is to transmit the message that Russia is ready for a major military offensive against the West.

It is also the part of the exercise where maximum access is given to the defense attaches and other foreign, “friendly” observers who are on hand. Giving these foreign military officers a ringside seat is not just about impressing these nations with Russia’s military might. It is a rare opportunity for the Kremlin’s defense industry to present a live-fire advertisement that hopefully convinces these nations to request information on the latest Russian weaponry to the state-run arms export monopoly, RosOboronExport.

The explosions and unofficial equipment showcase — headlined this year by a pair of new combat robot systems known as the Uran-9 and Nerekhta vehicles — tend to gather the international focus.

But the real question one should start with when assessing a Zapad exercise is not what Russia brought with it, but rather: what did Russia leave behind?

Belarus and the Region

Every four years, when these exercises take place, there is suspicion among NATO-nations that the Russian troops moved into Belarus won’t actually depart once the exercise is completed. The fear is that the exercise will act as a cover for an Anschluss-like occupation of Belarus — which would have dire implications for the region, most notably for Ukraine.

In a recent interview with Foreign Policy, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he does not see an “imminent threat to NATO allies” from Zapad, but reiterated complaints from NATO nations that Russia’s official declaration of the size of the exercises is dwarfed by the real number of forces poured into Belarus.

Still, “NATO continues to closely monitor the situation on the Russian border,” Stoltenberg said. “Belarus is also putting migratory pressure on our allies Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland, where actually Belarus is using the migration as a hybrid warfare tool against its neighbors. And it is absolutely unacceptable.”

Should Belarus become an appendage of the Russian Federation, Ukraine would be surrounded by Russian forces on three sides. It would also present a dramatic escalation of the existential threat to Poland, the largest front-line NATO state, and open a new border with Lithuania.

Up until last year the possibility of such a move by Putin was considered remote. But concerns spiked last August, when a series of protests began in Belarus over accusations amid significant evidence that Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko rigged his re-election to a sixth term in office.

The number of people involved in these public demonstrations and their overall longevity fueled speculation that Lukashenko might flee the country and hand the keys of state over to Putin. Russia appeared to have been given the Belarus strongman’s approval for such a move, when the state-run media announced that “Lukashenko would only invite Russian forces into Belarus in the event of external military threats.”

While Lukashenko’s position has solidified in the year since, the bordering nations have been on guard. It didn’t help that Lukashenko, during the Zapad exercise, told reporters that training was necessary because “we should get ready — our border with Ukraine is 1,200 kilometers (750 miles).”

With those comments in mind, a few of the post-Zapad movements are likely to cause consternation in the region, according to regional military specialists from Ukraine, Poland and the Baltics.

Currently, Moscow’s military presence remains in large number, with some units not expected to be withdrawn back to their regular bases until mid-October. No specific units have been named yet, but the projection is that between 5-10 per cent of those on Belarus soil will remain behind – many in the training role.

This sounds like an insignificant number, but any increase in the “Russian military presence in Belarus in one way or another at least infringes on the sovereignty of our country,” said Pavel Matsukevich, a former diplomat now with the Centre for New Ideas think tank in Belarus.

“The Russian boot stepped on the ground – this is a symbol of the fact that control has been established on this territory.

And in this sense, there is nothing good for the prospects of Belarus as an independent and sovereign state,” Matsukevich said. “All the years of independence we have tried to avoid this, but now it seems that the Russian military presence here is becoming a reality.”

Forces and Materiel Staying Behind

So what will the remaining Russian presence be doing?
Training and operating Russian-made gear as part of a more permanent Russian presence inside Belarus.

Specifically, there will be Russian S-400 units based in the Grodno region, at a location roughly 4 km, or two-and-a-half miles, from Poland’s border, and there will also be a wing of Russian Sukhoi Su-30SM aircraft operating from the at the 61st Fighter Air Base of the Belarusian Air Forces (military unit 54804), in Baranovichi, which could serve as a geographic hub to get forces towards the border quickly.

To be clear, these systems are not going to be part of an independent Belarus armed forces. Instead they will constitute appendages of the Russian military based and operated on Belarus territory — which, understandably, is a cause of some heartburn for Belarus’ neighbors
.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki warned at the start of Zapad that the deployment of the S-400 so close to its borders could result in “provocations,” and put Poland in a state of emergency during the exercise. While the numbers of Russians remaining with the air defense systems are relatively small, the developments are unsettling nonetheless. An S-400 permanently sitting so close to Poland’s border serves as a de facto A2/AD setup against NATO aircraft.
For his part, Matsukevich called out the Grodno agreement as a key sign of Russia setting up for a long-term stay in country.

Russian personnel are also active now in considerable numbers at three major Belarus military training bases and test ranges in order to train the pilots for these aircraft and SAM batteries. Collectively, Belarus will acquire roughly US $1 billon in Russian-made weaponry that is already being delivered with those transfers to be complete by next summer.

That weaponry causes no end of anxiety for Ukraine’s military, as it escalates the number of advanced offensive strike platforms that now be in closer proximity. In addition to the Su-30SMs and S-400s, Belarus is also procuring several dozen helicopters of various models and also a medium-range Tor (SA-15) air defense unit
. This acquisition is likely to be the first step in Belarus gradually replacing its older-generation SA-8 Osa self-propelled SAMs.

Aside from personnel, pre-positioned materiel is expected to be left at ammunition and fuel caches and supply depots, far in excess of the needs of the Belarus military. In fact, the setup of such caches was underway before Zapad kicked off, and the latest Russian state armaments program specifically noted an increase in spares and material to come.

The same applies for Russian heavy equipment that will remain in place. This will allow Russian troops to form up into cohesive units when and if personnel are moved back into place at some future date. This would put a rather sizeable force that could move on NATO only a snap deployment of personnel away from a lighting strike into Poland and the Baltics.

The amount of this materiel be stockpiled after this year’s exercise is going to be significantly greater than ever before. Its presence is to guarantee that Russia’s military can move rapidly and decisively across a broad front and advance into NATO territory without fear of having to stop and re-group due to a lack of supply — as well as to guarantee that any counterattack would not force the Russian side into a retreat.

What is ironic, perhaps, is that while Zapad-2021 is labeled as a “defensive exercise,” in reality the entire set of preparations that the exercise participants engage in for more the three months prior to the actual live-fire activity is all about being prepared for an offensive operation.

The exercise is justified as a necessary test of preparation for an attack by either NATO (most specifically Poland and the Baltic states), the US, the Nordic nations of Sweden and Finland, and lastly what the Kremlin refers to euphemistically as “terrorist organizations.” What are designated as “terrorist” formations are Kremlin shorthand for local political revolutions, which in many respects both Putin and Lukashenko fear more than a direct attack by NATO.

The Significance of Zapad

The Zapad exercises are heavily-scripted and the Russian side continues to refer to what amount to “Trojan horse” type scenarios. The US is seen as an adversary, cast in the role of a foreign power trying to foment internal revolts — similar to the 2013-14 Maidan revolution in Ukraine — inside of Belarus and Russia.

But beyond this strategic propaganda is the fact that the exercise is the culmination of a four-year training cycle, at the end of which the combined militaries of Russia and Belarus will, at least in theory, be more prepared for regional war. This means more than just traditional military operations — it involves more extensive use of unmanned systems, both in the air and on the ground, and the use of layered and integrated air defense systems.

Russian forces likely ended the exercise being more adept at using unconventional warfare methods, including UAVs in offensive operations and all manner of electronic warfare systems. (In 2017, for example, a top Estonian intelligence official said Russia was using advanced jamming on their own forces to test operations in a EW-contested environment.)
The overall goal is to have a well-integrated fighting force on the Russian side that has airtight command and control and will be able to sustain operations on the ground longer and at a higher level of cohesion than previously observed.

Meanwhile, numerous non-kinetic methods will be employed with the intention of causing the NATO side to fall into what several military commentators call “the reflexive control trap.”

One commentator pointed out that “the messaging about Zapad from the Russian side is about defense and it is about the union of the allied states. We should be focusing on how the Russian forces are operating, what they are doing at the operational level and how well they are executing. And fixation by the West on simply numbers of Russian and Belarus troops involved is falling into the trap that the Russian information warfare ops are is set up to exploit. It is all about diverting attention from what is really important.”

NATO's Big Concern from Russia's Zapad Exercise: Putin's Forces Lingering in Belarus - Breaking Defense Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary
 
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northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
EU leaders fear Polish exit following court ruling
Senior officials from two founding members of the European Union have expressed fears that a Polish court's ruling that Poland's Constitution has supremacy over EU laws could trigger the the country’s exit from the 27-nation bloc
By SAMUEL PETREQUIN Associated Press
8 October 2021, 14:18

People stage a protest in front of Poland's constitutional court, in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, October 7, 2021. Poland’s constitutional court has ruled that some European Union laws are in conflict with Poland’s Constitution. The Constitutional Tribu

Image Icon
The Associated Press
People stage a protest in front of Poland's constitutional court, in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, October 7, 2021. Poland’s constitutional court has ruled that some European Union laws are in conflict with Poland’s Constitution. The Constitutional Tribunal ruled Thursday that some provisions of the EU treaties and some EU court rulings go against Poland’s highest law. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

BRUSSELS -- Senior officials from two founding members of the European Union expressed fears Friday that a Polish ruling challenging the supremacy of EU laws could trigger the country's exit from the 27-nation bloc.

France’s Europe minister, Clement Beaune, insisted that Thursday's ruling from Poland's Constitutional Tribunal was an attack against the EU, while Luxembourg Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Jean Asselborn said Poland was “playing with fire."

They spoke a day after the tribunal ruled that Polish laws take precedence over those of the 27-nation bloc, which Poland joined in 2004. The ruling further escalated lingering tensions over democratic standards between the country’s right-wing nationalist government and Brussels institutions.


The tribunal majority ruling — in response to a case brought by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki — said Poland’s EU membership did not give the European Court of Justice supreme legal authority and did not mean that Poland had shifted its legal sovereignty to the EU.

The head of the EU's executive branch, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, said she was “deeply concerned" by the ruling and pledged a swift analysis of its meaning before the EU acts. She also hinted at possible business disruptions with Poland.

“Our utmost priority is to ensure that the rights of Polish citizens are protected and that Polish citizens enjoy the benefits granted by membership of the European Union, just like all citizens of our Union," von der Leyen said. “Moreover, EU citizens, as well as companies doing business in Poland, need the legal certainty that EU rules, including rulings of the European Court of Justice, are fully applied in Poland."

Beaune called the ruling “extremely serious” and "part of a long list of provocations toward the European Union." He told French broadcaster BFMTV that Poland has an obligation to respect its commitment to the EU.

“When you sign a contract with someone and you say ‘My own rule, which I define when I want and how I want, is worth more than what I signed with you,’ then there is no more contract. No more participation. So it is very serious, because there is a risk of a de facto exit,” he said.

Poland's prime minister asked for the review after the European Court of Justice ruled in March that Poland’s new regulations for appointing judges to the Supreme Court could violate EU law. The ruling obliged Poland’s government to discontinue the rules that gave politicians influence over judicial appointments. To date, Poland has not done so.

Beaune said he does not want Poland to leave, echoing a sentiment largely shared in Brussels and in Poland, where Morawiecki recently called a potential “Polexit” fake news. Some 80% of Poles support EU membership.

“You know that in Poland, the people are European, and that they want to stay European,” Luxembourg’s Asselborn said. “But it must be said quite clearly that this government in Poland is playing with fire. That means that at a certain moment there can be a break, not only legally, but also politically.”

Poland's Senate adopted a resolution Friday stating that the upper house of parliament will “stand guard to the national interests which reside in Poland's continued presence in the European Union."

The resolution says it's the tribunal's ruling that conflicts with Poland's Constitution and expresses concerns that an opinion handed down from a court "that is controlled by the ruling party is a legislative prelude to leading Poland out of" the EU.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland's ruling Law and Justice party, recently said that Poland wants to be in the EU but one that respects its own rules and treaties, meaning the independence of the bloc's member nations. Law and Justice adopted a resolution in mid-September stating that Poland wants to remain an EU member.

As guardian of the EU treaties, the EU's executive commission reaffirmed after the ruling that EU law has primacy over national law, including constitutional provisions, and pledged to “make use of its powers to safeguard the uniform application and integrity of Union law."

Last month, the European Commission asked the European Court of Justice to impose daily fines on Poland until it improves the functioning of the Polish Supreme Court and suspends new laws that were deemed to undermine judicial independence.

Depending on how the Polish government decides to use the latest ruling, the commission has further financial options at its disposal to try to make Warsaw comply with EU law, notably by continuing to hold up the country’s access to billions of euros in European money to help revive its economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The commission could also activate a mechanism allowing the suspension of payments of EU money to a member country suspected of not adhering to the bloc's standards.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told Germany’s Funke newspaper group that “the European Commission has our full support for its task of enforcing European law everywhere in the EU.”

“Being a member of the European Union means that we pursue common values, benefit from a strong common internal market and speak with one voice," Maas said. “But it also means that we keep to common rules that form the foundation of the European Union, with all the consequences of that,” he added.

———

Monika Scislowska in Warsaw, Angela Charlton in Paris, Geir Moulson in Berlin and Mark Carlson in Brussels contributed to this story.

EU leaders fear Polish exit following court ruling - ABC News (go.com)
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB
The Poles certainly have a lot on their plate right now. Let's hope that they can be as nimble now as they have been in the past!
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB


Slovenia denies excessive police force against protesters
yesterday


FILE - Police form a line against demonstrators during a protest against vaccinations and coronavirus measures in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. Slovenian Interior minister Ales Hojs on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021 rejected accusations that police used excessive force to curb anti-government protests with water cannons and tear gas on the eve of a major European Union summit in the country earlier this week.  (AP Photo/Petr David Josek, file)
1 of 4
FILE - Police form a line against demonstrators during a protest against vaccinations and coronavirus measures in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. Slovenian Interior minister Ales Hojs on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021 rejected accusations that police used excessive force to curb anti-government protests with water cannons and tear gas on the eve of a major European Union summit in the country earlier this week. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek, file)

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AP) — Slovenia’s interior minister on Friday rejected accusations that police used excessive force to curb anti-government protests with water cannons and tear gas on the eve of a major European Union summit in the country earlier this week.

The demonstrations were the third in a month, organized against virus measures and the use of COVID-19 passes, including for going to work in all state-run firms. People must show that they are either fully vaccinated or that they have taken an expensive PCR test.

Interior Minister Ales Hojs said in Brussels that “police did their job very well during Tuesday’s intervention” and were “within their jurisdiction.” An investigation still has opened into police actions, he added.

About 25 protesters were detained and several were injured or hospitalized — mostly for inhaling tear gas.

“The director of the police has already ordered a commission in accordance with the law, which will investigate the legality and proportionality of all means used by the police in these protests,” Hojs said.

Officers in riot gear and on horses repeatedly used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the demonstrators who threatened to block roads as EU and Western Balkan leaders were arriving for the meeting.

The clashes led to hours-long chaos on the streets of the capital, Ljubljana, and the detention of a protest leader.

Zoran Stankovic, the leader of the Resni.ca party, has threatened to sue the state, saying he was kept in detention illegally. Stankovic’s home and his party offices reportedly have been searched as part of the police probe against protest organizers.

Clashes with police have erupted at previous protests as well. On Tuesday, an AP video journalist was sprayed by a water cannon and was hit in the head with an unknown object during the police intervention.

Hojs refused to comment on the potential case against Stankovic, saying it was in the hands of the prosecutors. The police intervention wasn’t ordered by politicians but provoked by the protesters, he insisted.

“The number of injured police officers, which was three times the number of injured protesters, clearly shows who exceeded jurisdiction,” he said.

The Resni.ca party has said they would no longer organize the protests, saying this would jeopardize the liberty of their leader. The right-wing politician has denied he was using public discontent over virus measures for political campaigning.

Like much of Central and Eastern Europe, Slovenia in recent weeks has seen a rise in new coronavirus infections. The country of 2 million people has fully vaccinated nearly 48% of its population, a smaller share than in many other EU nations.
Slovenia currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency.
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB


Hungary comes to Poland’s defense over EU court ruling
By VANESSA GERA and JUSTIN SPIKEan hour ago


People stage a protest in front of Poland's constitutional court, in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, October 7, 2021. Poland’s constitutional court has ruled that some European Union laws are in conflict with Poland’s Constitution. The Constitutional Tribunal ruled Thursday that some provisions of the EU treaties and some EU court rulings go against Poland’s highest law.  (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
1 of 3
People stage a protest in front of Poland's constitutional court, in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, October 7, 2021. Poland’s constitutional court has ruled that some European Union laws are in conflict with Poland’s Constitution. The Constitutional Tribunal ruled Thursday that some provisions of the EU treaties and some EU court rulings go against Poland’s highest law. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban signed a government resolution Saturday welcoming a Polish constitutional court ruling that challenges the primacy of European Union law, and accusing EU institutions of overextending their powers.

In the resolution, Hungary’s government calls on EU institutions to respect the sovereignty of the bloc’s 27 member countries, Orban’s spokesman, Bertalan Havasi, told the Hungarian news agency MTI.

The stating of Hungary’s position followed a very different joint statement from the German and French foreign ministers, who said Poland has both a moral and legal obligation to respect the common rules of the European Union, which it joined in 2004.

“Membership of the EU goes with full and unrestricted allegiance to common values and rules,” Heiko Maas of Germany and Jean-Yves Le Drian of France said late Friday.


“Respect for and compliance with these must be fulfilled by every member state,” they added. “Of course, that also goes for Poland, which has a very central place within the EU.”
“This does not just mean a moral obligation. It also means a legal obligation,” the ministers said late Friday in reaction to the ruling from Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal.

In a legal decision requested by Poland’s prime minister, the tribunal held Thursday that the Polish Constitution has primacy over EU laws in some cases. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki asked for the review after the European Court of Justice ruled in March that Poland’s new regulations for appointing Supreme Court justices could violate EU law and ordered the right-wing government to suspend them.

The Hungarian resolution states that the poor practices of EU institutions which disregard the principle of delegation of powers triggered the Polish court’s consideration of the legal primacy issue.

“The primacy of EU law should only apply in areas where the EU has competence, and the framework for this is laid down in the EU’s founding treaties,” the Hungarian document says.
The resolution also states that EU institutions are obliged to respect the national identities of member states. National law-enforcement bodies, in particular constitutional courts and tribunals, have the right to examine the scope and limits of EU competences, it says.

Some European leaders fear the ruling could bring legal chaos to the bloc, while many Poles fear that it’s a step on the path toward Poland leaving the EU.

Poland’s main opposition leader, Donald Tusk, called on Poles to defend their EU membership in protests planned for Sunday evening in Warsaw and other Polish cities.

Critics point out that Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal is a politicized body with several judges who were appointed illegally. They argue that it therefore lacks the legal authority to make a ruling that could be of enormous consequence to Poland’s future in the EU and its place in the West.

Jaroslaw Kurski, first deputy editor of the liberal daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, had a message Saturday for Poland’s government as he called on people to protest Sunday: “You will not push us out of the European Union! You will not deprive our children of their dreams and their hopes for the future. If you want to head East, then by all means proceed, but do not drag us with you.”

Meanwhile, a far-right activist called “all patriots who care about the sovereignty of our state” to join a counter-protest in Warsaw.
___
Spike reported from Budapest. Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed.
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Iceland Bans Moderna Vaccine Use Due To Heart Inflammation Risk
Tyler Durden's Photo

BY TYLER DURDEN
SATURDAY, OCT 09, 2021 - 12:10 PM
Authored by Ivan Pentchoukov via The Epoch Times,
Iceland on Oct. 8 halted the use of the Moderna vaccine against the CCP virus due to reports from Nordic countries of “increased incidence” of inflammation of heart muscle and tissues triggered by the injection.

Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Norway have already limited the use of the Moderna vaccine over the same concerns. Iceland went further than its neighbors and stopped using the vaccine entirely.


“In recent days, there has been data from the Nordic countries on the increased incidence of myocarditis and pericarditis after vaccination with Moderna vaccine in addition to vaccination with Pfizer/BioNTech (Comirnaty),” an announcement from Iceland’s Directorate of Health stated.
“As there is a sufficient supply of Pfizer vaccine in Iceland for both the pre-vaccine activation vaccines and the primary vaccinations of those who have not yet been vaccinated, the epidemiologist has decided not to use the Moderna vaccine in Iceland, while providing further information on the safety of the Moderna vaccine.”
Sweden limited the use of the Moderna shot on Oct. 6 to those born before 1991. The Swedish health agency said at the time that new data from Swedish and other Nordic sources “indicate that the connection is especially clear” between Moderna’s vaccine and side effects “especially after the second dose.”

“Both myocarditis and pericarditis often go away on their own, without causing any lasting problems, but suspicious symptoms should be assessed by a doctor at … a health center or emergency room,” the agency stated, noting that “medical treatment and monitoring in hospital may be needed in established cases.”
Norway and Denmark have recommended the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 12-17. In Iceland, only the Pfizer vaccine has been recommended for the 12-17 age group.

Finland on Oct. 7 discontinued the use of the Moderna shot for men under the age of 30.


That decision came one day after Sweden and Denmark halted the use of the vaccine for the younger age groups.


Iceland had been using the Moderna vaccine almost exclusively as a booster shot for those who received the Johnson&Johnson vaccine, according to the Health Directorate. The Nordic nation had also been using the Moderna vaccine as a booster for two-dose vaccinations of the elderly and immunocompromised.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 75 percent of Iceland’s population has been fully vaccinated against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19.

A total of 33 people died from COVID-19 in Iceland since the start of the pandemic.


See this thread also:

 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB


Populist Czech PM Babis's party narrowly loses election in surprise result
Issued on: 09/10/2021 - 20:51
Czech Republic's Prime Minister and leader of centrist ANO (YES) movement Andrej Babis addresses the media after most of the votes were counted in the parliamentary elections, Prague, Czech Republic, October 9, 2021.

Czech Republic's Prime Minister and leader of centrist ANO (YES) movement Andrej Babis addresses the media after most of the votes were counted in the parliamentary elections, Prague, Czech Republic, October 9, 2021. © Petr David Josek, AP
Text by:NEWS WIRES
2 min
Listen to the article
Prime Minister Andrej Babis' centrist party on Saturday narrowly lost the Czech Republic's parliamentary election, a surprise development that could mean the end of the populist billionaire's reign in power.

The two-day election to fill 200 seats in the lower house of the Czech Republic’s parliament took place shortly after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists reported details of Babis’ overseas financial dealings in a project dubbed the “Pandora Papers.” Babis, 67, has denied wrongdoing.

With almost all the the votes counted, the Czech Statistics Office said Together, a liberal-conservative three-party coalition, captured 27.8% of the vote, beating Babis' ANO (Yes) party, which won 27.1%.

In another blow to the populists, another center-left liberal coalition of the Pirate Party and STAN, a group of mayors, received 15.6% of the vote to finish third, the statistics office reported.


“The two democratic coalitions have gained a majority and have a chance to form a majority government,” said Petr Fiala, Together's leader and its candidate for prime minister.

Five opposition parties with policies closer to the European Union’s mainstream compared with the populist Babis put aside their differences in this election to create the two coalitions, seeking to oust the euroskeptic prime minister from power.

The result means “an absolute change of the politics in the Czech Republic,” analyst Michal Klima told Czech public television. “It stabilizes the country’s position in the West camp.”
“It’s a huge defeat for (Babis),” he added.

The major anti-migrant and anti-Muslim force in the Czech Republic, the Freedom and Direct Democracy party, finished fourth with 9.6% support.

Both the Social Democrats and the Communists, the country’s traditional parliamentary parties, failed to win seats in parliament for the first time since the split of Czechoslovakia in 1993.

Babis has had a turbulent term featuring numerous scandals, but all public polls before the vote had favored his ANO party to win the election.

“We didn't expect to lose,” Babis said. “We accept that.”

He still declared the election results “excellent.”

Prior to the vote, Babis led a minority coalition government of ANO and the Social Democrats in the Eastern European country of 10.7 million people, which is a member of both the European Union and NATO. He has also governed with the support of the maverick Communists.


President Milos Zeman didn't immediately comment but previously indicated that he will first appoint the leader of the winning party, not the winning coalition, to try to form a new government, which would be Babis. The two leaders will meet on Sunday.

“We're the strongest party,” Babis said. “If the president asks me to create a government, I'll open the negotiations about it.”

Any new government has to win a parliamentary confidence vote to rule, however, and Babis and his potential partner, the Freedom party, don't have enough support for that.
(AP)
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Austrian Chancellor Kurz Resigns Amid Corruption Accusations
Tyler Durden's Photo

BY TYLER DURDEN
SUNDAY, OCT 10, 2021 - 09:55 AM
As would-be German Chancellor Olaf Scholz scrambles to stitch together a three-party "traffic light" coalition in the wake of the latest federal elections, right next door Austria's leader has become embroiled in yet another political crisis. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, a darling of Europe's new right, announced his resignation on Saturday.

His resignation comes just days after he was named a suspect in an investigation by state prosecutors (prosecutors whom Kurz has previously criticized as incompetent and obsolete) into possible corruption and embezzlement of public funds. The police allege that Kurz may have been a part of a scheme that allegedly embezzled money from Austria's Treasury to pay bribes to domestic media outlets in exchange for favorable coverage. Five senior officials close to Kurz, as well as the chancellor himself, have been named in the warrant, but none of them have been charged or arrested.

Still, just the whiff of such blatant corruption - Kurz and his cronies allegedly funneling €1.2MM to pro-Kurz media outlets in 2016 and 2017, as the prosecutors claimed in a warrant - was apparently enough to force Kurz to resign from the chancellorship (though few expect this to be the final act in his political career; Kurz, 35, has already seen his first government collapse back in 2019 after a scandal involving the far-right Freedom Party).

While Kurz remains Austria's most popular politician in decades (although his conservatism has made him an object of hatred for some), the prospect of such blatant corruption (if these charges are proven, it's likely somebody within Kurz's circle will end up going to jail) were enough to provoke a rebellion by every party represented in Austria's assembly. Even the Greens, with whom Kurz has governed for more than a year in an uneasy partnership, turned on the chancellor, as did some of the elites from his own party. While the People's Party released statements and held press conferences defending their leader, the Greens defected from the coalition, declaring Kurz "unfit for office", and met with the rest of the opposition - including the "far-right" Freedom Party, the Social Democrats and the Greens - to plot his removal according to the FT. Then the old guard of Kurz's own People's Party joined the push to oust Kurz and that was it. What's more, Kurz has given up the immunity typically afforded to lawmakers.



And so, speaking Saturday in a televised address o the nation from the Ballhausplatz, the seat of the chancellor in Vienna, Kurz announced his resignation from the chancellery, said it had been an honor to serve as minister and chancellor during his 10 year career in politics. But right now, "my country is more important than I am," he added.

"This is not about me, it is about Austria."

Kurz claimed that the allegations against him are "wrong" and denied he had ever used government money for political purposes. As he fights to clear his name, "I want to make space to guarantee stability" in Austria.

But the real reason for his resignation might have more to do with strategy than sentiment: the greens had threatened to join opposition parties in bringing a vote of no confidence against him in parliament on Tuesday, which would have been a major embarrassment.

The warrant was issued by the Central State Prosecutor for Economic Crime and Corruption - or WKStA - an agency Kurz recently criticized as he planned a policy of prosecutorial reform. Police raids ordered by WKStA hit the federal chancellery and the headquarters of Kurz's People's Party, as well as the finance ministry.


Historians say an investigation like this into an Australian leader is "unprecedented". Still, most believe Kurz's chances of returning to power are high.

Instead of leaving politics completely, Kurz will return to Parliament as the leader of his party. Alexander Schallenberg, Kurz's foreign minister and a close political ally, will take over his place as chancellor.

As one analyst told the FT, a political comeback is almost guaranteed.

"Kurz is not really stepping down, he is stepping back," said political consultant Thomas Hofer. "Make no mistake, he remains in charge of the party, and Schallenberg is one of his closest allies. He will be thinking about a comeback."
Kurz's popularity was largely built on his opposition to migrants during the refugee crisis a few years back. And with a new migrant crisis thanks to Biden's catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan looming just over the horizon, we suspect Kurz's appeal - and that of his People's Party - won't be diminishing any time soon, no matter what schemes his opponents may have cooked up.
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB


Czech president hospitalized; Could affect forming new govt
By KAREL JANICEKyesterday


An ambulance carrying Czech Republic's President Milos Zeman arrives at the Military hospital in Prague, Czech Republic, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. Zeman is a heavy smoker who has suffered from diabetes and neuropathy linked to it. He has trouble walking and has been using a wheelchair. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
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An ambulance carrying Czech Republic's President Milos Zeman arrives at the Military hospital in Prague, Czech Republic, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. Zeman is a heavy smoker who has suffered from diabetes and neuropathy linked to it. He has trouble walking and has been using a wheelchair. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

PRAGUE (AP) — Czech President Milos Zeman was rushed to the hospital on Sunday, a day after the country held parliamentary election in which populist Prime Minister Andrej Babis’ party surprisingly came in second and Zeman has a key role in establishing a new government.

The Czech presidency is largely ceremonial but the president chooses which political leader can try to form the next government. Earlier Sunday, Zeman met with Babis, his close ally, but the prime minister made no comment as he left the presidential chateau in Lany, near Prague.

On Saturday, the centrist ANO (Yes) party led by Babis, a populist billionaire, narrowly lost the Czech Republic’s election, which could spell the end of the euroskeptic leader’s reign in the European Union nation of 10.7 million people.

A liberal-conservative three-party coalition named Together captured 27.8% of the vote, beating Babis’ ANO, which won 27.1%. In a second blow to the populists, another center-left liberal coalition received 15.6% to finish third.

The winning coalition won 71 seats while its third-place partner captured 37 seats to have a comfortable majority of 108 seats in the 200-seat lower house of Parliament, and they pledged to work together. Babis’s party won 72 seats, six less than in the 2017 election.

But Zeman earlier indicated he would first appoint the leader of the strongest party, not the strongest coalition, to try to form the government. That would give Babis a chance to give it a try to find a majority for his possible new government.

If he fails, as expected, and his latest government doesn’t win a mandatory confidence vote in the house, Zeman could ask him to try to create a new government again.

That has happened before. With no deadlines for the president’s move, the country faced a long term of political instability from the October 2017 election until July the following year, when Babis’ second Cabinet finally won the confidence vote.

“It would be no surprise if the election’s loss wouldn’t become reality for Babis for the following months,” said analyst Petr Just from Metropolitan University Prague.

But unlike in 2017, this latest election produced a clear winner. Petr Fiala, the leader of Together and its candidate for prime minister, urged Zeman to accept the election results.
“The opposition has gained a clear majority in the lower house,” Fiala said. “The Constitution clearly says that a government needs support of a majority. We’ll see what steps President Zeman is to take but it’s essential that he cannot ignore that.”

In his only post-election comment, Zeman congratulated the election winner and all elected lawmakers.

If Zeman is not able to act due to his illness or other reasons, the prime minister and the speakers of both houses of parliament will take over his presidential powers. If that happens, the new speaker of the lower house selects the premier. The parliament has to meet within 30 days of the election to select the speaker and other officials.

In other election results, the anti-migrant and anti-Muslim force in the Czech Republic, the Freedom and Direct Democracy party, which wants the country to leave the EU, finished fourth with 9.6% support, or 20 seats. In another surprise, the Social Democrats and the Communists, the country’s traditional parliamentary parties, both failed to win seats in parliament for the first time since the split of Czechoslovakia in 1993.

Prague’s military hospital confirmed that Zeman was transported there Sunday. Zeman, 77, is a heavy smoker and drinker who has suffered from diabetes. He has trouble walking and has been using a wheelchair.

“The reason for his hospitalization are the complications that accompany the chronic disease for which we treat him here,” said Dr. Miroslav Zavoral, the director of the clinic. He declined to elaborate.

Jiri Ovcacek, the president’s spokesman, later said his current stay in hospital doesn’t threaten the country’s post-election negotiations and his Constitutional duties. He said Zeman has asked to receive media monitoring on a daily basis.

Zeman was previously admitted on Sept. 14 for what his office described later as a planned examination. The office said the president was only dehydrated and slightly exhausted. Zeman was released after eight days, his longest hospital stay.

He spent four days in the same hospital in 2019 for similar reasons.
 

northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Irish foreign minister warns of breakdown in EU-UK relations
Ireland’s foreign minister has warned that British demands risk a “further breakdown in relations” with the European Union ahead of talks this week aimed at resolving the impasse over the Brexit agreement

By DANICA KIRKA Associated Press
10 October 2021, 04:43

LONDON -- Ireland’s foreign minister has warned that British demands risk a “further breakdown in relations” with the European Union ahead of talks this week aimed at resolving the impasse over the Brexit agreement.

Simon Coveney posted the remarks on Twitter after the U.K.’s Brexit minister reiterated his insistence that the European Court of Justice must not be allowed to oversee implementation of the deal. Coveney described this as a new “red line’’ that will impede progress in the negotiations
.

“Does (the U.K. government) actually want an agreed way forward or a further breakdown in relations?’’ he wrote.
The European Commission is expected this week to publish its proposals for breaking the deadlock over trade arrangements for Northern Ireland, the only part of the U.K. that has a land border with the 27-nation bloc. The British government has sought to renegotiate part of its divorce deal with the EU that requires customs and border checks on some goods moving between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K.

The regulations are intended to ensure goods entering the EU’s single market meet European standards while keeping an open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland — a key pillar of Northern Ireland’s peace process. But the checks have angered Northern Ireland’s unionists, who say they weaken the region’s ties with the rest of the U.K. and make it harder for businesses to operate.

“The role of the European Court of Justice in Northern Ireland and the consequent inability of the U.K. Government to implement the very sensitive arrangements in the protocol in a reasonable way has created a deep imbalance in the way the protocol operates,’’ British negotiator David Frost said in remarks released ahead of a speech Saturday in Lisbon. “Without new arrangements in this area, the protocol will never have the support it needs to survive.”

The Times of London reported Saturday that Brussels is likely to offer unhindered access for products linked to British “national identity,’’ such as Cumberland sausages. The proposal is an attempt to avoid a so-called sausage war over chilled meats crossing the Irish Sea.

Frost’s office on Saturday suggested EU concessions would have to “go far beyond the sausages.”

During a speech to the Conservative Party conference last week, Frost threatened to trigger a contentious break clause in the divorce deal if the EU were unwilling to make concessions on Northern Ireland.

Frost said the Brexit agreement, which he negotiated and was signed by Britain and the EU, was undermining peace in Northern Ireland and causing “instability and disruption.”

Unless there are major changes to the deal, Britain will invoke Article 16, a provision that lets either side suspend the agreement in exceptional circumstances. However, Britain has made that threat before, and Frost didn’t pull the trigger.

“But we cannot wait forever,” he said.

Irish foreign minister warns of breakdown in EU-UK relations - ABC News (go.com)
 

Zagdid

Veteran Member

General consulate of Belarus in New York to suspend operations - RIA

Reuters | Moscow | Updated: 11-10-2021 21:31 IST | Created: 11-10-2021 21:31 IST

The general consulate of Belarus in New York will suspended operations from Oct. 21, Russia's RIA news agency cited Belarus' foreign ministry as saying on Monday.

It added that the consulate will be closed at the demand of the United States' authorities.
 

Zagdid

Veteran Member

Last Updated: 11th October, 2021 16:29 IST Written By Bhavya Sukheja
Serbia Will Not Become NATO Member, Will Not Support 'anti-Russia Hysteria', Says Minister

Serbia said that under the current government, the nation will strictly observe the principles of military neutrality and will not join NATO.

Serbia’s Internal Affairs Minister Aleksandar Vulin recently said that under the current government, the nation will strictly observe the principles of military neutrality, will not join NATO and will also not support sanctions on Russia. While speaking to Sputnik, Vulin said that as long as President Aleksandar Vucic remains in the security structures, Serbia will not become a NATO member state. He also added that Serbia will never support Russia sanctions or Anti-Russia hysteria.

Vulin said, “As long as Serbia is led by President Vucic and as long I remain in the security structure, Serbia will not become a NATO member state, we will remain strictly committed to maintaining our military neutrality.”
He added, “Serbia will never support Russia sanctions or anti-Russia hysteria. History has shown that Russophobia always involves Serbophobia. We have never seen anyone attack Russia and not attack Serbia at the same time. It no longer depends on us, this is just a pattern.”
Non-aligned Movement Summit
Meanwhile, Vulin’s comments come amid the Non-aligned Movement Summit, which is being held in Belgrade. Serbia on Sunday welcomed officials from various nations, including Iraq, Kuwait and Sudan. Serbia President Vucic and Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic held meetings with respective ministers. According to AP, around 80 high-level delegations, led by heads of states and 40 foreign ministers, are attending the meeting hosted by Serbia and Azerbaijan.
 

northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
From my email inbox

Balance of Power
Bloomberg
October 10 2021

It was nothing short of a political earthquake that gripped Central Europe as heads of the established leaders began to roll over the weekend.

In Austria, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz resigned over a corruption scandal, while elections in the Czech Republic dealt a blow to billionaire Prime Minister Andrej Babis.

It’s been a dizzying turn of events in neighbors that straddle east and west. Both are members of the European Union that have tested its rules-based system. Neither are big hitters in the 27-nation bloc, but they’ve exploited opportunities to punch above their weight.

Kurz, Europe’s youngest leader, was at the vanguard of the far-right populism that gripped the EU after the refugee crisis that presaged Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump.

His anti-immigration stance caused trouble for Germany’s Angela Merkel and his perceived fiscal stinginess also made life difficult when the EU needed everyone to support a pandemic recovery fund.

Kurz’s demise is unlikely to be mourned west of Vienna, though a comeback cannot be excluded. He bounced back from a 2019 sleaze scandal that toppled his earlier government.

The situation in the Czech Republic is more volatile. Babis is locked in a long-running battle with the European Commission over conflicts of interest and whether he directed EU funds toward his agri-food conglomerate.

Holding onto power is potentially key to keeping him out of jail, which is why the combination of losing an election and his protector — President Milos Zeman was rushed to hospital yesterday — could mean power may change there too in more significant ways.

In Austria, Kurz stepped down and put forward an ally, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, with a view to still exerting influence behind the scenes. In Prague, it’s looking more like the end of an era. — Flavia Krause-Jackson
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

German election chaos in Berlin — what happens now?
Irregularities and loopholes in the German capital on election day have shocked many observers. Even though the results might not be affected, candidates and parties could still bring legal challenges.



Berliners standing in line waiting to vote
It's likely that the election chaos in Berlin will have legal consequences

Chaotic scenes and embarrassing irregularities at Berlin's ballot stations at last month's general election have shaken confidence in Germany's election system, while providing ammunition for the many people who question the German capital's bureaucratic efficiency. On Thursday, October 14, final election results will be published, giving the green light for what are expected to be several legal challenges.

On September 26, Berlin held elections at federal, state and local council levels, as well as a referendum on socializing major housing companies. This saw many voters in the German capital waiting for hours at voting stations as election volunteers ran out of ballot papers, or ballot papers were delivered to the wrong districts.

The trouble had been predictable, given the simultaneous elections (voters often spent several minutes in their booths sifting through five different ballot papers), and yet voting stations seemed unprepared, forced into ad hoc measures to ease the impasse. Extra booths were set up, while new ballots were sent for from other voting stations — only for couriers to find their paths blocked by the international marathon that Berlin authorities allowed to go ahead on election day.

Watch video00:57
Long queues at some Berlin polling stations
The confusion appeared to lead to several violations of electoral rules: There were reports that volunteers offered to allow people in if they didn't mind only voting in the federal elections, or even turned voters away though they were in line at the cutoff time of 6 p.m., when stations officially closed.

There have been no serious allegations of deliberate rigging, but confidence in the system has been shaken. "I was, probably like everyone else, fairly horrified and surprised, because there have never been mistakes and neglect to this extent in our elections — at least I can't remember anything like this," said Christian Pestalozza, a member of Berlin state's ethics commission and law professor at the city's Free University. "It's extremely serious — this is the most important action with which we can influence the composition of professional politics. And we have a right to demand that no mistakes are made. Such an accumulation of mistakes is disastrous."

Loopholes left open — despite warnings
There have already been political consequences. The head of Berlin's election authority, Petra Michaelis, stepped down three days after the election, accepting responsibility for the fiasco. Berlin's Interior Minister Andreas Geisel has opened an investigation, the initial findings of which he sketched out in a statement released on October 6.

In around 100 of Berlin's 2,245 polling stations, Geisel said, there had been "events that have to be investigated," especially in three of Berlin's most populous districts. Geisel insisted that the overall result of the state election would not be affected, but he did not rule out new elections in some districts.

To the evident relief of Berlin politicians, it's unlikely that the chaos affected the national election since only the local elections had different ballot papers from district to district. Berlin's outgoing mayor, Michael Müller, also insisted that the problems did not affect the results of the Berlin election, but he said at a press conference last week: "We have to admit it: There were mistaken assumptions and mistaken planning." A special parliamentary committee meeting came together to discuss the issue last Friday.


Watch video06:21
Germany after the election: What's next?
Legal measures

But what legal steps could be taken after Thursday, when election results are finalized? Candidates and parties (though not voters) who think there are enough grounds to challenge the results can do so, and they could take the matter all the way to Germany's Constitutional Court.

The courts must then decide whether the mistakes may have influenced the results. "To know that, we'd have to know exactly what mistakes happened, and how many voters were affected," said Pestalozza. "Then there might have to be new elections — but not across Berlin, only in the districts affected."

Legal challenges could also be hampered by a lack of regulation. Wilko Zicht, who runs the nonprofit electoral watchdog Wahlrecht, said the problem was that Germany lacks clear recount rules. "In other countries, such as the US, when the margin is less than half a percentage point, there is an obligatory recount," he told DW. "In Germany, if someone wins by only one vote, no one can demand a recount. You can only do that if you see clear procedural errors in the count." The burden of proof, therefore, is on the candidates.



Watch video04:25
How do German elections work?
Loopholes left open

Berlin has not yet reached that stage, but maybe more damning than the mistakes made on election day was the loophole left open that allowed ineligible minors to vote in the national election. Following September 26, it emerged that the federal election administrator Georg Thiel had sent a warning to his Berlin counterpart — the now-departed Petra Michaelis — about the possible abuse.

The problem stemmed from the fact that more people were eligible to vote in the local district elections than in the other elections: not just German citizens over the age of 18, but also EU citizens over the age of 16. And yet, mail-in ballots for all three elections had to be put in a single envelope.

This meant it was possible for those over the age of 18 to apply for a mail-in ballot, but then pass on their ballot papers to EU citizens over the age of 16 who had also applied for mail-in ballots and could put the papers into their own envelope. Meanwhile, the person over the age of 18 would not vote by mail at all, but would simply go and vote on election day.

Thanks to warnings from both Thiel and Wahlrecht, the Berlin authorities scrambled to correct the mistake a few days before polling day by warning local stations to change their procedures to prevent this fraud during counting. But another loophole — allowing German nationals living outside Germany to vote in local elections using the same trick — was not closed in time.

It's unlikely that this trick was used on a scale big enough to affect the result, but the fact that it existed could give losing candidates and their lawyers plenty of ammunition after final results are released on Thursday.
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB


Russia hits new record for COVID-19 deaths, resists lockdown
By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOVyesterday


Crows sit on grave crosses in the section of a cemetery reserved for coronavirus victims in Kolpino, outside St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. Russia hit another record of daily coronavirus deaths Tuesday as the country struggled with a rapid surge of infections and lagging vaccination rates, but authorities have been adamant that there would be no new national lockdown. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
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Crows sit on grave crosses in the section of a cemetery reserved for coronavirus victims in Kolpino, outside St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. Russia hit another record of daily coronavirus deaths Tuesday as the country struggled with a rapid surge of infections and lagging vaccination rates, but authorities have been adamant that there would be no new national lockdown. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia hit another record of daily coronavirus deaths Tuesday as the country struggled with a rapid surge of infections and lagging vaccination rates, but authorities have been adamant that there would be no new national lockdown.

The government coronavirus task force reported 973 coronavirus deaths, the highest daily toll since the start of the pandemic. Russia has repeatedly hit record daily death tolls this month, and daily infections also have been hovering near all-time highs, with 28,190 new cases reported Tuesday.

Despite the rapidly mounting toll, the Kremlin has ruled out a nationwide lockdown, delegating the power to make decisions on toughening coronavirus restrictions to regional authorities.

The soaring infections has raised the pressure on Russia’s health care system, with hospitals filling up quickly. Speaking at a Cabinet meeting Tuesday, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said 11% of Russia’s 235,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients are in serious or critical condition.

Overall, Russia’s coronavirus task force has registered over 7.8 million confirmed cases and 218,345 deaths — the highest death toll in Europe. Yet the state statistics agency Rosstat, which also counts deaths where the virus wasn’t considered the main cause, has reported a much higher total — about 418,000 deaths of people with COVID-19.https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-mlb-entertainment-sports-business-d56d052cffbf34f4d4887b4c87fee302

If that higher number is used, Russia would be the fourth hardest-hit nation in the world during the pandemic, after the United States, Brazil and India. Even the lower mortality figure only shifts Russia down to fifth place, after Mexico.

The Russian government has blamed the sharp rise in infections and deaths that began last month on a slow vaccination rate. Only 47.8 million Russians, or almost 33% of its nearly 146 million people, have received at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine, and 42.4 million, about 29%, were fully vaccinated, the government said Friday.

Speaking at a meeting with newly-elected Russian lawmakers, Russian President Vladimir Putin emphasized on Tuesday the importance of broad vaccination and urged lawmakers to help encourage the population to get the shots.

“We must patiently and persistently work with people and explain all the advantages of prophylactics against that dangerous disease,” Putin said, noting that the population must be persuaded to get the shots without resorting to administrative pressure.

Amid a quick tide of infections, some Russian regions have restricted attendance at large public events and limited access to theaters, restaurants and other places to people who have been vaccinated, recently recovered from COVID-19 or tested negative in the previous 72 hours.

But life remains largely normal in Moscow, St. Petersburg and many other Russian cities, with businesses operating as usual and mask mandates loosely enforced. In Moscow, the authorities expanded free coronavirus tests in shopping malls, hoping it would help stem contagion.
___
Follow all AP stories on the coronavirus pandemic at Coronavirus pandemic.
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Polexit!? Polish Court Overrules EU's European Court Of Justice
Tyler Durden's Photo

BY TYLER DURDEN
WEDNESDAY, OCT 13, 2021 - 02:00 AM
Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk.com,
Poland and the EU are increasingly at odds. Let's take a look at events to see where this is headed...


After the top Polish court overruled the ECJ, Fears Rose the Court Ruling Points to EU Exit.
Tens of thousands of protesters marched through Warsaw and other Polish cities late Sunday to oppose a court ruling that European Union legal judgments have become incompatible with the Polish constitution, a decision protesters fear could prompt Poland to follow the U.K. out of the bloc.
Waving EU and Polish flags, demonstrators held banners reading “I’m Staying in Europe” and “No Polexit!”
Unlike in the U.K., an overwhelming majority of Poles wish to stay members of the EU—as do Hungarians, another Central European country whose government is in regular conflict with the bloc over where the EU’s powers end and national sovereignty begins.
On Thursday, Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal ruled that the process of European integration encoded in EU treaty law has reached what it called a “new stage” that is incompatible with the Polish constitution, and that the latter should take precedence when the two conflict. When joining the EU in 2004, Poland agreed to implement EU treaties, also signing up a few years later to the bloc’s updated Lisbon Treaty. Poland’s ruling party says the EU has overstepped its authority.
In Brussels, a spokesman for the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, on Monday gave no timeline for responding to Poland. EU officials fear a domino effect and gradual disintegration of the EU’s legal and political authority if one country can overrule EU rules and EU court decisions.
“If you allow all these fundamental principles of European integration to be hollowed out and ignored, then this is eventually the end of the EU,” said Piotr Buras, head of the European Council on Foreign Relations’ Warsaw office.
Fertile Ground for Secession
In Ultra Vires, a column on the situation in Poland, Eurointelligence founder Wolfgang Münchau places some of the blame for what's happening in Poland on the German Constitutional Court located in Karlsruhe.
In its ruling last week, Poland’s constitutional court went beyond anything the German constitutional court ever did. It declared Art. 1 of the Treaty on European Union, the clause that establishes the EU, not compatible with certain chapters of the Polish constitution. It found the same for Art. 19 TEU, which establishes the CJEU. If sustained, this would constitute a legal Polexit. If a member states believes that the EU treaties violate their national constitution, they either have to change the constitution, get the other members to agree to a change in the treaties, or leave the EU. The EU could, if it wanted to, even make an argument under international law that this ruling automatically voids Poland’s accession treaty, and thus its EU membership.
The role of the German constitutional court in all of this is indirect but nonetheless important. What it did was engage in a legal discourse that made the Polish outrage possible. Readers may recall that the CJEU was a big factor in the Brexit discussions. If only the remainers had known that they could have renationalised some of those powers? Despite the europhobia that led to Brexit, there was much less of a sense of secessionism in the legal profession, compared to with Germany or Poland.
Some of the arguments used during the Polish hearings were straight copies of arguments made by the German constitutional court. Karlsruhe, for example, popularised legal concepts such as ultra vires and the democracy principle. They sound more innocent than they are. Karlsruhe argues that sovereignty can be conferred but not shared. This implies that the CJEU cannot be the arbiter of its own remit. It also means that EU law does not override national law in areas outside the agreed perimeter, and that it is the national courts that decide the precise location of that perimeter. Fiscal policy and defence are not part of that remit. So, if you want a fiscal union or a European army, you cannot do this inside the existing treaty.
The Polish ruling will almost surely end up in Poland backing down. I see Polexit as a possible but improbable outcome. But remember that Brexit, too, started out that way.
The Karlsruhe version of legal euroscepticism has been far more clever, and more effective. It managed to create legal facts out of thin air that informed the EU negotiating position of successive German governments. The Polish ruling, by contrast, is drafted as a deliberate provocation that might play into the hands of Law and Justice ahead of the 2023 elections. Karlsruhe is not responsible for what is happening in Poland. But it is responsible for starting a discourse that others take up and push to the limits.
No Polexit!?
Münchau opines there will not be a Polexit.

OK, but what about changes to the existing treaties for Eurobonds, financial debt commingling, or a European army?

It takes unanimous consent to change anything in the EU. Heck, it took nearly a decade just to work out something seemingly simple like a trade deal with Canada.

Half-Baked Union
Hungary and Poland are at odds with the EU over court rulings. Other countries are tangled up with EU disputes regarding immigration and borders.

The European Monetary Union (EMU) or Eurozone is in a similar situation.

It takes unanimous agreement to change anything or even do many things unless there were specifically established by treaty.
Germany demanded these unanimous consent rules out of fear of debt commingling. Now these rules hamper efforts by the EU to bring Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and other countries into line over anything not clearly spelled out.

The EU has a half-baked union and it will stay that way unless every country agrees to changes.
Good luck with that.
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Norway bow and arrow suspect was flagged for radicalization
Police said the man suspected of killing five with a bow and arrow in Norway was a recent convert to Islam who had previously come to the attention of security services.



Police investigate bow and arrow attack in Kongsberg
Police believe the suspect behind the attack was acting alone

The 37-year-old Danish man arrested over the slaying of five in the southeastern Norway was a recent convert to Islam, police said Thursday.

Police chief Ole Bredrup Saeverud said, "There earlier had been worries of the man having been radicalized."

The victims included four women and one man between the ages of 50 and 70, police said.
The suspect was interrogated overnight and has cooperated with authorities who said he confessed.

Police believe he acted alone. Norwegian news agency NTB also reported, citing police sources, that he had used other weapons.

A prosecutor said earlier that he was known to Norway's health services as well.


Watch video00:55
Police: Several dead in Norway arrow attack
What happened in Konigsberg Wednesday?

A man wielding a bow and arrow killed five people and wounded two others in the southeastern Norwegian town of Kongsberg on Wednesday, authorities said.

The Aftenposten newspaper cited police who said the attacks continued for over 30 minutes across a "large area" of Kongsberg, including at a Coop Extra grocery store.

Police were alerted at around 6:30 p.m. local time and arrested the suspect about 20 minutes later.

The two people wounded, which included an off-duty police officer, were being treated at a hospital. A police spokesperson told reporters the suspect has been taken into custody.
An arrow is left in a wall at the scene where a man armed with a bow and arrow killed several people
An arrow is seen stuck in a wall at the scene of the attack in Kongsberg

Too early to determine whether attack was terrorism
Police said on Wednesday that it was too early to declare whether the attack was an act of terrorism pending an investigation.

Norway's intelligence service PST had been alerted, spokesman Martin Bernsen told AFP.
"It is all conjecture at the moment," he said when asked about the possibility of a terrorist motive.

Acting Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg described the attack as "gruesome," while Prime Minister-designate Jonas Gahr Stoere called it "a cruel and brutal act."

Parts of Kongsberg were reportedly evacuated in the wake of the violence, according to Norwegian media.

Dozens of helicopters and ambulances were dispatched to the scene. The two injured victims have been hospitalized and put into intensive care, with one of them being an off-duty police officer.



Watch video02:32
Norway arrow attack – Journalist Irene Peroni reports from Oslo
The Norwegian Police Directorate ordered officers to carry weapons following the attack. Police in the Scandinavian country are usually unarmed.

The criminal act comes a little over 10 years after right-wing extremist Anders Breivik carried out the worst terrorist attack in Norwegian history.

Breivik set off a bomb in Oslo and went on a shooting rampage on the island of Utoya in July 2011, killing 77 people in total.



Watch video04:56
Norway - Ten years after the Utoya massacre
ar, wd/fb (AP, Reuters, dpa)

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Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Norway: Bow-and-arrow attacker handed over to health services
The man who confessed to killing five people in the Norwegian town of Kongsberg is suspected to have had mental health issues. A full psychiatric evaluation has begun but will likely take months to complete.



An arrow is left in a wall at the scene where a man armed with bow killed several people before he was arrested by police in Kongsberg, Norway
The bow-and-arrow attack in Norway left four women and a man dead, all between the age of 50 and 70

A man who confessed to killing five people in a deadly bow-and-arrow attack in Norway was handed over to the care of health services, a prosecutor said Friday.

The 37-year-old Danish citizen went on a rampage through Kongsberg, a quiet town in southeastern Norway where he lived, on Wednesday night.

He attacked people in a store, as well as on the streets and in their homes.

But doubts have arisen whether he can legally be held responsible for the attack.

"He was handed over to health services on Thursday evening after an evaluation of his health condition," prosecutor Ann Iren Svane Mathiassen told news agency AFP.

Two experts will observe and assess whether the man was sane at the time of the attack, Norwegian news media reported.

A court in Kongsberg was to decide on Friday how long the man can be held, police said.
"We would like to have him in custody for at least four weeks," the prosecutor said, two of which will be in isolation.

If the judge grants the request, the man will remain under medical care instead of being jailed.

He will not be present in court at the time of the custody hearing, as he has already confessed to the killing and did not oppose a request to keep him in detention.

What do we know about the attack?
Wednesday's attack left four women and a man dead, all between the age of 50 and 70. Additionally, three people were injured.

The man was a convert to Islam and is believed to have been radicalized, police said.


Watch video01:39
Norway mourns victims of Kongsberg attack
Police have said the incident was probably an act of terror, given the nature of weapons used and that the perpetrator attacked his victims randomly.

"There is no doubt that the actual act appears as if it could be an act of terror," Hans Sverre Sjovold, the head of Norway's intelligence service PST, told a news conference on Thursday.

"But it's important that the investigation continues and that we establish the motive of the suspect," he said.

The man is believed to have acted alone and police said he had not contested the detention request.

Full psychiatric evaluation pending
The possibility of mental health illness has not been ruled out yet.
A psychiatric evaluation of the attacker began on Thursday, the prosecutor said.
"It could take maybe a couple of months" before the evaluation is completed, Svane Mathiassen said.

The outcome of that evaluation could determine whether the man would face a prison sentence or whether he will instead be committed to psychiatric care.
adi/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB


Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo wins French Socialists' presidential nomination
Issued on: 14/10/2021 - 23:45
Paris Mayor and Socialist Party (PS) candidate for the 2022 French presidential elections Anne Hidalgo looks on during the inauguration of the wrapped Arc de Triomphe, designed by the late artist Christo, in Paris, France, September 16, 2021.

Paris Mayor and Socialist Party (PS) candidate for the 2022 French presidential elections Anne Hidalgo looks on during the inauguration of the wrapped Arc de Triomphe, designed by the late artist Christo, in Paris, France, September 16, 2021. © Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS
Text by:NEWS WIRES
2 min
Listen to the article
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has been nominated as the presidential candidate of France's Socialist party, partial party vote results showed Thursday, despite her languishing in the race to unseat incumbent Emmanuel Macron.

The 62-year-old politician, who announced her plans to run for president a month ago, aims to revive the fortunes of the beleaguered Socialists in April's election with a campaign stressing environmental and social issues.

She won more than 72 percent of votes cast by party members on Thursday night, with more than 90 percent of total ballots counted, the Socialists' first secretary Olivier Faure said.
She beat a single other candidate, former agriculture minister Stephane Le Foll.


Hidalgo's campaign performance so far has widely been seen as lacklustre.

Polls show only four-seven percent of voters would vote for the daughter of Spanish immigrants if the election were held today.

Hidalgo is one of a handful of women bidding to become France's first female president in a crowded field of challengers to Macron.

The centrist president has yet to confirm he is seeking a second five-year term but is widely expected to do so.

Polls currently show his closest rival being either far-right National Rally leader Marine Le Pen or ultranationalist TV pundit Eric Zemmour, who is toying with the idea of running for the Elysee Palace.

They also show the left continuing to haemorrhage support, four years after unpopular Socialist president Francois Hollande stepped down after a single term.

Many members of the Greens party, which is also on the left, hope that Hidalgo will renounce her presidential bid and back their candidate Yannick Jadot to avoid splitting the left-wing vote.

But Hidalgo, who locked horns with motorists in Paris over her bid to banish cars from parts of the capital, has insisted she will remain in the race "to the end".

She points to her experience as the capital's mayor since 2014, leading the response to terror attacks, a huge fire at Notre-Dame cathedral and other major events, to support her claim that she is the left's best shot at the top job.
Her team has promised that she will ramp up her campaign now that she has been formally nominated.

"Anne Hidalgo is very determined and will prove that she is in the race," her campaign manager Johanna Rolland said.
(AFP)
 
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