INTL Europe: Politics, Economics, Military - November 2021

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB
October's thread is here:


Trouble Brewing in Ukraine thread beginning page 82:


Regional Conflict in Mediterranean beginning page 76:



Main Coronavirus thread beginning page 1340:



ANALYSIS

French left in disarray as right, far right dominate presidential election campaign
Issued on: 26/10/2021 - 09:45
Mayor of Paris and Socialist Party (PS) candidate for the 2022 French presidential election Anne Hidalgo speaks during the party's investiture convention in Lille, France October 23, 2021.1635757503881.gif1635757503881.gif1635757503881.gif
Mayor of Paris and Socialist Party (PS) candidate for the 2022 French presidential election Anne Hidalgo speaks during the party's investiture convention in Lille, France October 23, 2021. © Pascal Rossignol, Reuters
Text by:Tom WHEELDON
7 min
Listen to the article
Six months ahead of France’s April 2022 presidential elections, all three major left-wing candidates are flagging in polls as they struggle to gain traction outside big cities amid a shift to the right among the French electorate.
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One of the French language’s most striking expressions is le detail qui tue – the small, devastating detail that says it all. A perfect example can be found in a 2019 Le Monde series on the vertiginous decline of France’s Parti Socialiste (PS). Acute financial difficulties had forced the once august vehicle of the French left to sell its exquisite headquarters in central Paris and move to the suburbs. When the Le Monde journalists went to the new headquarters it was so obscure that their Uber driver’s GPS could not find it. They eventually found the party HQ “at the far end” of a “small, anonymous courtyard that turned out to be a company’s parking lot”.

As campaigning gets under way for the 2022 French presidential elections, the Socialists' fortunes have not improved. PS candidate Anne Hidalgo is at just 5 percent of voting intentions, according to Politico’s polling aggregate – even less than the 6 percent drubbing PS’s Benoît Hamon got in the first round of the 2017 presidential elections.

Paris Mayor Hidalgo’s fellow leftist candidates are not faring much better. Extreme-left France Unbowed (La France Insoumise) party firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon is at 10 percent – a far cry from the nearly 20 percent he reached in the 2017 vote. The green EELV’s Yannick Jadot is at 7 percent. Never before has the French left polled so badly at this point in the electoral cycle.

‘Parisian image doesn’t travel well’
The Paris mayor chose a symbolic location for her campaign launch last month, opting for the Norman capital Rouen, where the River Seine flows down from Paris – suggesting she was building on seven years running the capital while reaching out to provincial France.

But Hidalgo’s persistently low polling shows her appeal has not travelled downstream from her Parisian fiefdom. And even there, Hidalgo has divided public opinion.

Roads have been dug up to make room for bike lanes across the French capital; cars have been banned from large stretches of highway next to the River Seine. Hidalgo now wants to completely pedestrianise the city centre.

Her environmentalist approach has gone down well among many Parisians – especially because the scorching summer of 2019, when the city’s thermometers surged to a record-breaking 42.6 degrees, brought home the terrifying, galvanising reality of climate change.

But there is doubt about her policies’ effectiveness: the number of days when Paris experienced heightened ozone levels – a telltale sign of poor air quality – trebled in Hidalgo’s first four years in office.

Hidalgo has also been accused of failing to deliver on the most basic environmental task: keeping the city clean. The hashtag #saccageparis has gone viral over recent months as Parisians have inundated Twitter with photos of rubbish piled in the streets and floating in Paris’s usually idyllic river and canal.
What is more, her transport policies made her the bête noire of many motorists – a risky group to antagonise in France, since the Macron government was famously rocked by the Yellow Vests protests that erupted over his 2018 petrol price hikes.

“Many in Paris – even on the left – think she’s gone too far in her war against cars,” said FRANCE 24 political commentator Angela Diffley. “And I don’t think it goes down well in the rest of France, especially after what we saw in the Yellow Vest crisis when it seemed like politicians didn’t understand how low-income voters in suburban and rural areas really depend on cars.”

“Hidalgo has three fundamental weaknesses that she has been unable to overcome,” summarised Jim Shields, a professor of French politics at Warwick University: “A Parisian image that does not travel well in the provinces; an approach to governing Paris that has been deeply divisive, especially on environmental initiatives; and, most damagingly, a failure to offer a coherent and attractive policy platform.”

‘Class contempt’
The Greens have a similar problem gaining traction outside of metropolitan areas. EELV won several major cities in the June 2020 local elections, although they have fared poorly outside of big conurbations.

“Despite the illusion created by a Green surge in some cities in recent European and municipal elections, France beyond the ring-roads had never gone green,” as Shields put it.

A few months after that local election surge, EELV mayors made a series of unpopular statements, including the Bordeaux mayor saying he disapproved of “dead trees”, meaning Christmas trees, and the Lyon mayor lambasting the Tour de France, France’s favourite sporting event, as “polluting”. Jadot said at the time that the Tour de France comment demonstrated an “unbearable class contempt”.

“Jadot having to row back from that comment suggested he recognised that the Greens might seem out of touch with ordinary people,” Diffley said. “Not just in France but around the world there is a problem of green politics seeming disconnected from working-class people’s lives.”

The French left seems to have “abandoned the most disadvantaged social classes”, Martial Foucault, the director of Paris think-tank CEVIPOF, wrote in Le Monde last week – commenting on an Ipsos poll revealing that Jadot and Hidalgo are attracting far less support among the working class than among the managerial classes.

Mélenchon is the one leftist candidate with any significant appeal among France’s working class.
But the veteran far-left candidate has crossed the line from firebrand to conspiracist over recent years – most recently in June when he predicted that, “in the last weeks of the presidential campaign, we’ll have a serious incident or a murder” orchestrated to manipulate the electorate. The French presidential elections have already been “written in advance”, Mélenchon went on – suggesting that Macron is the creation of a nebulous elite cabal: “In every country in the world, they’ve invented someone like him, who comes from nowhere and who’s pushed forward by the oligarchy.”

This comes after Mélenchon’s notorious proclamation in late 2018, when police searched his home and the France Unbowed party HQ as part of an inquiry into alleged financial impropriety. A video went viral of him shouting at the officers: “I am an MP! […] I am the Republic!”

Mélenchon now polls at around half his 2017 presidential election score. Although the France Unbowed leader “comes into his own in campaigning”, Shields said, “Mélenchon’s taste for conspiracy theories, ready rants and aggressive anti-Europeanism go down less well among the French public at large than among his party faithful” – while he “no longer exerts a fresh and dynamic appeal, this being his third tilt at the presidency”.

‘Rightward tilt’
Thus, even this big beast of the French left looks a long way from the all-important run-off between the first round’s two best-performing candidates. Emmanuel Macron – the centrist president who pivoted to the right along with the centre ground of the French electorate – is the clear first-round front-runner at 24 percent. The battle for second place is currently between the far-right’s Marine Le Pen, far-right polemicist Éric Zemmour (who has not officially declared he is running) and traditional conservative Xavier Bertrand.

Amid their dismay about this rightward shift amongst voters, notably on issues like security and immigration, many French leftists have found hope in recent polling data suggesting that standard of living is the electorate’s biggest concern. In theory, “this should favour the left’s economically protective and redistributive agenda”, Shields noted.

But promises of socialist economic reforms have a history of turning sour in France. After taking office in 1981, the French left’s most iconic president François Mitterrand nationalised major financial and industrial firms and ramped up taxes on the rich. Unemployment rose, inflation remained rampant and the franc was devalued three times – necessitating his famous “turn to austerity” in 1983.

“Voters realise that policies don’t always deliver the intended result,” as Diffley put it.

Similarly, Socialist François Hollande won the 2012 presidential vote on a left-wing economic programme and barely any of it was implemented. “Hollande had many of the same problems as Mitterrand,” recalled Andrew Smith, a professor of French politics at the University of Chichester. “The Eurozone crisis gave him very little room for manoeuvre and there was a sense that all these transformative plans couldn’t happen.”

Since Hollande declined to seek re-election amid humiliating poll numbers, PS has “no longer been associated with radical economic transformation”, Smith continued. At the same time, it has been “unable to muster the resources of the political centre while its opponents make most of the political weather”.
The French left has a “long way to go” before it can deal with the “rightward tilt of France on terrorism, insecurity, immigration and identity politics, where the right and far right are making all the running and where the left struggles for clear answers”, Shields concluded.
 
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northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Putin: Russia must build up defenses in view of NATO moves
Russian President Vladimir Putin has emphasized the need to strengthen the country’s air defenses amid NATO’s military activities near Russia’s borders
By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV Associated Press
1 November 2021, 07:06



MOSCOW -- Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday emphasized the need to strengthen the country's air defenses amid NATO's military activities near Russia's borders.

Speaking during a meeting with military officials and arms makers in the southern Russian city of Sochi, Putin specificially noted the deployment of NATO's U.S.-led missile defense components in Eastern Europe and increasingly frequent missions by NATO ships near Russian waters in the Baltic and Black Seas
.

“Even now, a U.S. warship has entered the Black Sea, and we can see it in binoculars or crosshairs of our defense systems,” he said in a reference to the USS Mount Whitney, the flagship of the U.S. 6th Fleet, deployed to the Black Sea.

Russia has bristled at the deployment of U.S. and other NATO ships near its waters as tensions between Moscow and the West have sunk to post-Cold War lows after Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, its support for a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine and other irritants.

Last month, Russia suspended its mission at NATO and ordered the closure of the alliance's office in Moscow after NATO had withdrawn the accreditation of eight Russian officials to its Brussels headquarters, saying it believed they had been secretly working for Russian intelligence.

Moscow has repeatedly voiced concerns over the deployment of NATO forces near Russian borders, describing it as a threat to its security. Russia and the alliance also have continuously accused each other of dangerous and provocative maneuvers at sea and in the air.

In June, Russia said one of its warships fired warning shots and a warplane dropped bombs in the path of British destroyer Defender to drive it away from Black Sea waters near the Crimean city of Sevastopol. Britain denied that account, insisted its ship wasn’t fired upon and said it was sailing in Ukrainian waters.

Like most of the world, Britain recognizes Crimea as part of Ukraine despite the peninsula’s 2014 annexation by Russia.

In the aftermath of the incident, Moscow warned that it is prepared to target intruding warships if they fail to heed warnings.

“We must further improve our air and space defense system as leading powers have been developing prospective high-speed strike weapons," Putin said. “It's also warranted by the military-political situation, including increasingly intensive flights by NATO aircraft near Russia and the appearance of the alliance's warships armed with guided missiles in the Baltic and Black Seas.”

Putin: Russia must build up defenses in view of NATO moves - ABC News (go.com)
 

Housecarl

On TB every waking moment
I can only imagine how this is going to get "applied"......

Posted for fair use.....

CONTENT MODERATION
UK's Online Safety Bill could spell jail time for trolls
The bill would reportedly criminalize certain behavior that causes "emotional, psychological, or physical harm to the likely audience."
https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?url=https://www.protocol.com/online-safety-bill-jail-time&text=UK%27s%20Online%20Safety%20Bill%20could%20spell%20jail%20time%20for%20trolls&
Issie Lapowsky
November 1, 2021

Lawmakers in the U.K. are considering making it illegal to post certain content online that causes "emotional, psychological, or physical harm to the likely audience" and punishing violators with jail time, according toThe Sunday Times. The provision would be part of the forthcoming Online Safety Bill that is currently being drafted.

According to the Times, the bill would outlaw "threatening communications" as well as "knowingly false communications," which spread false information with the intent to cause emotional, psychological or physical harm. The broad law would place an emphasis on the experience of the receiver of the message and the "harmful effects" the message had on that person, the Times reported.

"We are making our laws fit for the digital age," a government spokesperson told the Times. "Our comprehensive Online Safety Bill will make tech companies responsible for people's safety and we are carefully considering the Law Commission's recommendations on strengthening criminal offences."

The bill, which is set to be introduced to parliament next month, would also place a number of new requirements on tech platforms, including the requirement that they remove content that is legal, but could be harmful to users.

Issie Lapowsky

Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky) is Protocol's chief correspondent, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. She also oversees Protocol's fellowship program. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University's Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing.
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

North Macedonia: PM Zoran Zaev, the man who went 'all in' is all out
For the first time in North Macedonia's 30-year history, a prime minister has resigned. Zoran Zaev stepped down after a defeat in local elections, plunging North Macedonia into political crisis.



[IMG alt="Nordmazedoniens Ministerpräsident Zoran Zaev kündigt Rücktritt an
"]https://static.dw.com/image/59681072_303.jpg[/IMG]

Zoran Zaev

North Macedonia is set to enter a new phase of political instability after Prime Minister Zoran Zaev announced his resignation following the heavy defeat of his Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) in Sunday's local elections. "I take responsibility for the outcome of these elections and therefore I'm resigning as prime minister and as president of the Social Democratic Union," Zaev said during a press conference at party headquarters.

The announcement came after it became clear that the main opposition party, nationalist VMRO-DPMNE, won at least half of the country's 80 municipalities, while Zaev's Social Democrats won fewer than 20. The result marks a major turnaround on North Macedonia's political stage: Four years ago, the Social Democrats won 57 municipalities and VMRO-DPMNE only five.
Karte Nord-Mazedonien und Nachbarländer EN

Ahead of the elections he told voters he had already resolved to step down if his party failed to secure a majority. "On October 31, we are 'all in'," he said, using the English expression.

"The decision is made, and the people will choose. This is not a threat," Zaev told a local TV show a week earlier. As he later explained, his aim was to mobilize the "progressive part" of society to support his government's pro-European and liberal policies.

His plan backfired. Many people unconvinced by either of the two main parties decided to stay at home rather than vote for candidates they see as unfit for the job.

Broken promises
Seen as a rare moderate voice in the historically volatile Western Balkans region, Zaev was praised internationally for resolving the decades old dispute with Greece and changing the country's name to "North Macedonia" in 2018. The former Republic of Macedonia became NATO's 30th member in March 2020 under the new name. But vetos from France in 2019 and Bulgaria blocked North Macedonia's path towards the European Union — leaving Zaev's most important promise to his voters unfulfilled.

Already labeled a "traitor" by the nationalist opposition, which still strongly opposes the deal with Greece, many of the government's domestic policies alienated the majority of Zaev's voters. Promised reforms in the fields of rule of law, the fight against corruption, chronic nepotism and cronyism in Macedonian society failed to materialize. The stagnating economy and poor management of the COVID pandemic added to voters' sense of disappointment.
Voters hand in their ballots in Macedonia's local elections
Voters at Macedonia's local elections

Most importantly, many of the "progressive voters" — as Zaev calls them — simply lost hope in the country's chances of EU accession. Confidence that North Macedonia will one day become a member of the European Union is at a historic low among the general public and many people no longer see the point in voting for pro-European politicians and policies after years of bitter disappointments and broken promises from Brussels and other European capitals.

The way forward
North Macedonia's governing coalition, consisting of the Social Democrats and the DUI, the country's largest ethnic Albanian party, has a small majority, with 62 seats in the 120-seat parliament. After Zaev's resignation, it remains to be seen if the Social Democrats will continue governing under a new leader. For now, the alternatives — a VMRO-DPMNE-led government or early elections — seem unrealistic.
 Hristijan Mickoski
Hristijan Mickoski, the leader of the opposition nationalist party VMRO-DPMNE

While Zaev and his party are opposed to early national elections, after the last ones held in July 2020, Hristijan Mickoski, the leader of VMRO-DPMNE, on Sunday called for an early parliamentary election but did not mention a more specific timeline. "The governing party is now delegitimized, and this is a new reality. The best way forward is with early elections,'' Mickoski said, after declaring victory in the local election. The opposition party would likely be happy to wait until spring, knowing that its lead in the polls will presumably only increase considering the difficulties ahead for the government.

Zaev is out, but who's in?
North Macedonia faces some difficult months. In addition to the tough economic situation and the coronavirus pandemic, the country is in a state of uncertainty due to the energy crisis threatening the whole of Europe. There is already talk of electricity restrictions and price increases in the winter months.

The government was planning to relaunch talks with neighboring Bulgaria after the elections, hoping that a compromise would open the door for the beginning of long-awaited EU accession talks during the December summit of European heads of state. Sofia has blocked the beginning of talks for the last two years, insisting that Skopje should first admit that the Macedonian language is a Bulgarian dialect, and that the identity of modern-day Macedonians is actually Bulgarian. While the Social Democrats were ready to compromise on the issue, opposition VMRO-DPMNE is strongly against any talks about national identity.

After leading the then opposition Social Democrats through one of the most difficult periods for the country, during the rule of the previous 10-year regime of Nikola Gruevski and VMRO-DPMNE, and after four years at the helm of the government, Zoran Zaev leaves disappointed with both voters and the international community. "It is not difficult to leave politics," Zaev said on Sunday. "What is difficult is the fact that this is how the people voted."

The fact is that the Macedonian people have lost faith in the path to the EU that he and his party promoted, and also in his ability to lead them there. The Social Democrats now need to elect a new party leader quickly and then hope that he will be accepted by the majority in the parliament.

Unfortunately, Zaev did not leave behind a clear successor in either the party or the government. And, as one Social Democrat party official told DW on condition of anonymity, while there are many candidates willing to fight for the party leadership, there are not many that would be interested in taking over the reins in midst of a deep political and economic crisis.
 

Zagdid

Veteran Member

Russia's Yamal-Europe pipeline in reverse flow mode for 4th day
By Katya Golubkova November 2, 20217:22 AM EDT

MOSCOW, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Russia's Yamal-Europe pipeline, which normally sends gas westwards across Poland to Germany, was working in reverse mode for a fourth straight day on Tuesday and expected to stay that way until Wednesday, according to data from German operator Gascade.

Flows into Germany at the Mallnow metering point, which lies on the Polish border, stopped early on Saturday and have not resumed, according to the data. Instead, gas is heading back east across Poland.

The reversal, which neither Russia's Gazprom (GAZP.MM), Poland nor Germany have explained, has added to market nerves at a time when gas prices have skyrocketed in Europe.
Polish operator Gaz-System said on Monday that gas from the Yamal pipeline flows to Poland through two points, Kondratki in the east and Mallnow in the west, and "there is currently no demand for gas transit towards Germany."

Poland was getting contractual volumes from Russian state gas company Gazprom in full, according to the gas monopoly PGNiG (PGN.WA). A Gascade spokesperson has said separately that it was "not unusual for shippers to use the eastwards direction."

A gas transit deal between Russia and Poland expired last year, but Gazprom can book transit capacity via the pipeline at auctions: it took a third of total additional capacity offered by the Polish operator Gaz-System for transit via the Kondratki transit point for November.

Asked why Yamal-Europe was in reverse-flow mode, the Kremlin repeated on Tuesday that Russia was fulfilling or even exceeding its obligations. read more
Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, reiterated that Russia remains committed to start pumping additional gas to Europe once domestic storage is replenished, in line with an order given to Gazprom last week by President Vladimir Putin.

The front-month Dutch benchmark gas contract jumped by over 11% on Monday to 74 euros per megawatt hour (MWh), with traders saying the reversed flows had taken the market by surprise. It was 2% down on Tuesday at 66.65 euros.
Russia has reached the target level of its domestic gas reserves of around 73 bcm last week, but Gazprom plans to continue building them until Nov. 8.
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Will Ukraine Run Out Of Energy Soon?
Tyler Durden's Photo

BY TYLER DURDEN
WEDNESDAY, NOV 03, 2021 - 03:30 AM
Via Southfront.org,
Over the past months, Ukrainian politicians have been persistently throwing red meat to Moscow through the acts of aggression against the Nord Stream-2 pipeline, the recent escalation of the conflict in Donbass with the use of UAVs and the pressure on Ukrainian politician Medvedchuk, who is considered pro-Russian.


All these actions had a shared ultimate objective and were aimed at forcing concessions from Moscow on issues of the Minsk agreements, Crimea’s status and natural gas transit, especially considering Nord Stream 2.

Some Ukrainian experts warned about the danger of this plan, because in fact, there were many risks for Ukraine, and there were almost no counterarguments in case of offensive reaction from the Kremlin.

For now, we can observe that the situation in the energy sector is following the worst-case scenario for Kiev. On November 1, Russia suspended coal exports to Ukraine that can be regarded as more than depressing news for the country in the context of the energy crisis in Europe.

According to the statistics from the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy, up to October 10, the coal stocks in warehouses of thermal power plants were estimated at 623.7 thousand tons that meet the needs for just 7-10 days of work. The demand for electricity is connected to of temperature and it will continue to grow because of the upcoming winter Electricity consumption has already increased by 2.8% to 408 million kilowatt-hours, as the Ministry of Energy stated.

At the same time, the world community is facing huge problems related to the depletion of coal reserves. Due to the global shortage of this type of fuel, the price is breaking records in the foreign markets, reaching $250 per ton. In addition to the price issue, it is extremely difficult to find out coal available for distribution in the market.

As for the imports to Ukraine, on average, 670,000 tons of Russian coal are shipped per month, while consumption at Ukrainian power plants amounts 1.8 million tons per month. Thus, Ukrainian thermal power plants will be deprived of a third of their needs in coal amid acute shortage of this resource.

The second point stands for usage of this coal at many Ukrainian power plants, such as Luhanska, Slavyanska, Kryvorizka, Darnitska, Sumska and Chernihivska. Thus, for now it’s apparent that these plants risk being completely stopped, as the overall level of generation in the country falls to critical levels.


Click to see full-size image
Ukraine also faces challenges with an acute shortage of gas. The price per 1,000 cubic meters for public institutions has already reached $1,700, and the start of the heating season remains questionable. Gas prices for households have have undergone manifold increases, and this happens against the backdrop of increased re-exports to European countries, i.e. the Ukrainian company “Naftogaz” signed a framework agreement with the Moldovan company “Energocom” on supply of 700 million cubic meters of gas. This decision from the Ukrainian side arises several arguable questions: does Ukraine have so much gas to re-sell and does the Republic of Moldova have enough money, approximately $ 1 billion, to pay for energy supplies.

Ukraine’s rhetoric about its energy independence from Russia sound less and less convincing at the time of fuel starvation in the country, while the objective reality dictates its own terms. As a result of the auction, which was held according to the Ukrainian legislative reserved procedure on October 27, 8 Ukrainian energy supply companies have fully purchased access to the interstate cross-section at the border with Russia for November 2021. This means that several companies controlled by oligarchs will organize the purchase of electricity from Russia and deliver it to Ukraine at resale prices, proving that there is no “energy sovereignty” or any other sovereignty of Ukraine.


Illustrative Image
Russian motives for not completely cutting Kiev off from energy supplies are clear. Moscow is not interested in completely disintegrating Ukraine as a state, as it could only worsen the unstable situation near its western borders. At the same time, actions of the Ukrainian side can be regarded as irrational due to the external management of the Kiev regime by Euro-Atlantic elites, and the Ukrainian authorities choose to take risks even if their country is close to be considered as a failed-state. For the European community, this means a risk of further deterioration of the already unstable political situation with such consequences as increasing refugee flows, disrupted supply chains, worsening criminality in the region, and the cost of peacekeeping process.
 

northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Poland protests to Belarus over 'intrusion' by armed forces
Poland’s foreign ministry says it summoned a Belarusian diplomat over an “intrusion” into Polish territory of “uniformed individuals armed with long guns.”
By The Associated Press
November 3, 2021, 2:45 AM

FILE - Polish security forces block migrants on the border with Belarus in Usnarz Gorny, Poland, on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. Poland’s Foreign Ministry says it summoned a Belarusian diplomat over an “intrusion” into Polish territory of “uniformed ind

Image Icon
The Associated Press
FILE - Polish security forces block migrants on the border with Belarus in Usnarz Gorny, Poland, on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. Poland’s Foreign Ministry says it summoned a Belarusian diplomat over an “intrusion” into Polish territory of “uniformed individuals armed with long guns.” The incident comes as Poland, a member of the European Union, faces significant migration pressure on its eastern border with Belarus. That border forms part of the EU’s eastern border with autocratic Belarus. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, File)

WARSAW, Poland -- Poland's foreign ministry said Wednesday that it summoned a Belarusian diplomat over an “intrusion” into Polish territory of "uniformed individuals armed with long guns.”

Polish soldiers noticed three uniformed people with long weapons on Polish territory, said Stanislaw Zaryn, the spokesman for Poland’s security services
.

“After meeting a Polish patrol, they reloaded their weapons and then departed towards Belarus,” Zaryn said.

The incident comes as Poland, a member of the European Union, faces significant migration pressure on its eastern border with Belarus. That border forms part of the EU's eastern frontier with autocratic Belarus.

The foreign ministry spokesman, Łukasz Jasina, said that the incident took place on the night between Monday and Tuesday
.

He said that the Belarusian charge d'affaires, Alexander Chesnovsky, was summoned to Poland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday.

During the meeting, a deputy foreign minister, Piotr Wawrzyk, demanded an explanation and emphasized “that that the actions taken by the Belarusian authorities in recent weeks have the increasingly evident hallmarks of a deliberate escalation.”

Wawrzyk “pointed out that Poland deems such actions unacceptable and won't tolerate them. He highlighted that Poland is determined to defend its borders and the external borders of the European Union,” Jasina said in his statement.

There was no immediate comment from the Belarusian side.

In recent months, thousands of migrants from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa have been lured to Belarus on tourist visas and encouraged to cross into Poland, Lithuania, and to a lesser extent Latvia — the three EU nations bordering Belarus.
Polish and other EU leaders have accused the government of President Alexander Lukashenko, which is backed by Moscow, of encouraging the migration as a form of hybrid warfare aimed at creating instability in the region and the EU more broadly.
———
Follow AP’s global migration coverage at Migration

Poland protests to Belarus over 'intrusion' by armed forces - ABC News (go.com)
 

northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Germany: over 5,000 migrant arrivals from Belarus in October
German police say they have registered more than 5,000 unauthorized border crossings last month by people who had arrived from Belarus
By The Associated Press
November 1, 2021, 10:48 AM

BERLIN -- German police said on Monday that they registered more than 5,000 unauthorized border crossings last month by people who had arrived from Belarus, marking a significant uptick in the number of arrivals through a new and politically sensitive migration route.

Federal police said in a statement that October saw 5,285 unauthorized entries “with a connection to Belarus.” That contrasts sharply with the 1,903 arrivals recorded in September, bringing the total so far this year to 7,832.

Police said last weekend alone, 597 people who entered illegally from Belarus were found on the German side of the border with Poland. Of those, 391 were Iraqi citizens while the remainder were from Syria, Iran and Afghanistan. Most had Belarusian visas or entry stamps in their passports
.

Fellow European Union members Poland and Lithuania have been struggling to cope with an unusually high number of migrants arriving at their borders with Belarus in recent months. The EU is accusing Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s government of using them to destabilize the 27-nation bloc in retaliation for EU sanctions.

The influx has been causing concern in Germany, a favored destination for migrants reaching the EU.

Germany’s outgoing interior minister recently proposed introducing joint German-Polish patrols on the two countries’ border to help clamp down on illegal crossings by migrants arriving from Belarus, but said no one has any intention of closing the frontier.

———

Follow AP’s global migration coverage at Migration

Germany: over 5,000 migrant arrivals from Belarus in October - ABC News (go.com)
 

northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Bulgaria sends troops to border to halt migrants from Turkey

Bulgaria is deploying 350 troops and 40 army vehicles along its southern border with Turkey to help border police deal with a growing migrant influx, the Defense Ministry said Tuesday

By The Associated Press
November 2, 2021, 12:04 PM

SOFIA, Bulgaria -- Bulgaria is deploying 350 troops and 40 army vehicles along its southern border with Turkey to help border police deal with a growing migrant influx, the Defense Ministry said Tuesday.

The troops will conduct joint patrols along the 259-kilometer (161-mile) border with Turkey. They also will repair the partly damaged barbed-wire fence that was erected five years ago to prevent migrants, mainly from Syria, from illegally crossing the border from Turkey into the European Union nation.

This year has seen a threefold increase of the number of detained illegal migrants compared to the same period last year, according to Interior Ministry data.

The Balkan country of 7 million is located on a major route for migrants from the Mideast and Afghanistan to Europe.

Only a small number of them plan to stay in the EUs poorest member, using Bulgaria instead as a transit corridor on their way westward.


———

Follow all AP stories on global migration at Migration.

Bulgaria sends troops to border to halt migrants from Turkey - ABC News (go.com)
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB



Click to copy
Judge: Prince Andrew sex lawsuit trial likely in late 2022
By LARRY NEUMEISTERyesterday


FILE - In this Sept. 30, 2013, file photo, Britain's Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, speaks during the opening session of the Japan-UK security cooperation conference in Tokyo. A 2008 settlement agreement that a lawyer for Prince Andrew says would protect him against claims that he sexually abused an American when she was 17 can remain secret, a New York judge ruled Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)

FILE - In this Sept. 30, 2013, file photo, Britain's Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, speaks during the opening session of the Japan-UK security cooperation conference in Tokyo. A 2008 settlement agreement that a lawyer for Prince Andrew says would protect him against claims that he sexually abused an American when she was 17 can remain secret, a New York judge ruled Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — An American woman’s claims that Britain’s Prince Andrew sexually abused her when she was 17 will probably be tried in a New York court late next year, if they survive a legal challenge, a judge said Wednesday.

Lawyers for Andrew have asked the court to throw out the civil lawsuit by Virginia Giuffre, who says she was coerced into sexual encounters with the prince in 2001 by the financier Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself while awaiting trial on unrelated sex trafficking charges.
They said the prince never abused Giuffre and accused her of seeking “another payday” at Andrew’s expense.

U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan said a trial date would likely fall between September and December 2022, though that could change because of factors including courthouse coronavirus protocols limit how many trials can occur at once.


Wednesday’s conference, conducted electronically, lasted less than 10 minutes and featured only the judge and two lawyers, David Boies for Giuffre and Andrew Brettler for the prince.
Both attorneys said they expected to depose eight to 12 individuals, including Giuffre and Andrew, and a “number of potential witnesses.”

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they choose to come forward publicly, as Giuffre has.

Meanwhile, Epstein’s former girlfriend, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, is scheduled to go to trial this month on criminal charges alleging she recruited teenage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse from 1994 to 2004. Potential jurors for that trial begin filling out questionnaires Thursday.

Opening statements are scheduled for Nov. 29. Maxwell has pleaded not guilty.

Giuffre has accused Maxwell of being involved in trafficking her to Andrew and other powerful men, but her allegations aren’t part of the criminal case.

Maxwell’s lawyer on Wednesday again asked a court to free her on bail and likened her treatment in a federal jail in New York to what was experienced by the fictional character Hannibal Lecter in the film “Silence of the Lambs.”

Attorney Bobbi Sternheim said in a letter to the judge that although Maxwell, 59, is not being kept in a cage or forced to wear a plastic face guard as Lecter was, the conditions of detention are “reprehensible.”

Sternheim said surveillance of Maxwell at the jail was “disturbing and invasive.”

U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan has thrice before rejected Maxwell’s application to be released, even after she offered to post millions of dollars in bail, be guarded around the clock, wear an ankle bracelet and renounce her citizenship in England and France.

Maxwell has had to wear shackles on her ankles and waist and handcuffs on her wrists during court appearances. Sternheim complained that when Maxwell was brought to a courthouse Monday, she was forced to sit alone for hours in a small chilly cell, where she was poked in the leg by a guard when she fell asleep.

In her renewed request for bail, Sternheim said Maxwell has been subjected to physical and emotional abuse by jail guards in a facility where it is difficult to prepare for trial amid unsanitary living conditions, insufficient nutrition and sleep deprivation as guards shine a light into her cell every 15 minutes as she sleeps.

“There are cameras on her constantly, most are stationary, but one camera follows her as she moves throughout the facility, and is constantly surveilling her, even during confidential attorney-client conferences,” Sternheim wrote, saying Maxwell had lost hair and at least 15 pounds (7 kilograms) of body weight.

“Currently, she suffers from headaches and back pain and general physical weakness,” the lawyer said.

She also said her client is subject to numerous pat searches daily and has been touched in a sexually inappropriate manner by corrections officers on multiple occasions.

A message for comment was sent to the Bureau of Prisons media office.

Sternheim said the nightly light interruptions are an overreaction to Epstein’s suicide in jail.
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Russia's Putin backs 'brotherly' Belarus amid EU pressure
The two countries have signed a series of agreements to further integrate their economies, power sector and taxation systems. The measures come after the EU tightened sanctions on Belarus earlier this year.



Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Union State of Russia and Belarus on Unity Day, via teleconference call, in Sevastopol, Crimea
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko agreed a raft of measures in the video call

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday gave embattled Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko his backing against foreign "interference" during a virtual meeting aiming to move the two countries closer together.

Putin hailed the "brotherly" ties between Russia and Belarus in a TV address after the two leaders signed a new package of measures in areas ranging from energy to defense.

What were the latest talks about?
Thursday's agreements saw Belarus and Russia align on areas of taxation, banking, industry and agriculture.

They followed a deal reached in September to work together on 28 programs that moved toward a decades-old plan for a "union state" between the former Soviet Union members.

Watch video03:09
Lukashenko leverages Belarus' influence as a transport hub
"We will together resist any attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of our sovereign states and Russia will of course continue to provide assistance to the brotherly Belarusian people — there is no doubt about that," Putin said.

"We are striving to do everything to keep it that way forever, based on the will of our countries for unity," he added.

Although the Eastern European partners did not discuss parliamentary or currency integration, the talks give Lukashenko a major boost amid tough EU sanctions imposed earlier this year.

Why is Belarus moving closer to Russia?
The EU clamped down on Lukashenko after he launched a ruthless crackdown on opponents to his almost 30-year regime. His government has jailed thousands of protesters who accused Lukashenko of rigging a 2020 election, even grounding a Ryanair plane to arrest a dissident blogger.

Belarus opposition members have criticized the package of new measures.

"In 2020 our people denied authorization for Lukashenko to sign anything on their behalf," opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya tweeted.

The EU has accused Lukashenko of luring migrants from Africa and the Middle East before pushing them across the borders of Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in recent months as payback for the bloc's sanctions.
Protesters hold a banner saying 'Open the borders' at the Bundestag in Berlin, Germany
Protesters in Berlin have demanded the EU allow migrants into the bloc after Belarus used them as political pawns

The situation has caused a humanitarian crisis along the EU's eastern border, with migrants forced to sleep in forests besieged by EU and Belarusian border guards.
jc/nm (AFP, Reuters)
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Diplomat Found Dead Outside Berlin Embassy Believed To Be Russian Intelligence Agent
Tyler Durden's Photo

BY TYLER DURDEN
FRIDAY, NOV 05, 2021 - 09:10 AM
It's been revealed for the first time in a bombshell Der Spiegel report on Friday that a man found dead just outside the Russian embassy in Berlin last month was a Russian intelligence agent. Though Russia has not disclosed this, the allegation as to his identity is being made by German intelligence officials after his death under mysterious circumstances.
"The 35-year-old man's body was found early on Oct. 19, the magazine said. It said, citing security sources, that the man had fallen from an upper floor at the embassy," Reuters summarizes of the German media report.
Russian Embassy in Berlin


He was officially considered a diplomat of the embassy, having been publicly listed in the position of second secretary. It's common for countries, including the United States, to place covert operatives in undercover roles as diplomatic personnel at their foreign embassies and consulates.

The man, whose name has not been given, was found at approximately 7:20 am on 19 October 2021 by police that are assigned to guard the embassy compound. Emergency paramedics arrived on the scene but could not resuscitate him.

Der Spiegel cited German intelligence sources to say that not only was the man "in fact" an undercover Federal Security Service (FSB) agent, but that he's also believed related to a top ranking FSB general. It remains however that nothing in the way of specific evidence was offered in the publication - but that the Russian's status appears to be the official view of German intelligence.

The Russian Embassy in Berlin, meanwhile, is calling the death a "tragic accident" but is no issuing any details or confirmation of specifics. According to Reuters:

Der Spiegel quoted the Russian embassy saying the incident was a "tragic accident" on which it would not comment "for ethical reasons". The embassy did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on the Spiegel report.
Russian state media in reporting the incident is not disclosing or so much as acknowledging Berlin's allegation the he was a spy:

Reports said the embassy had not agreed to an autopsy being undertaken in Germany, and the body had therefore been transported to Russia. The German authorities were unable to investigate the incident due to the deceased’s diplomatic status, Der Spiegel said.
Such an instance of this mysterious death of either diplomatic personnel or spies so close to embassy grounds is almost unheard of, and is perhaps reminiscent of intense high stakes and high risk covert activity that reached its height in divided Berlin during the Cold War.
View: https://twitter.com/NBCNews/status/1425461010551422980?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1425461010551422980%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_c10&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com%2Fgeopolitical%2Fdiplomat-found-dead-outside-berlin-embassy-believed-be-russian-intelligence-agent



Meanwhile, though unclear if related, just months ago there was covert intrigue that caused scandal at the UK Embassy in Berlin after it was revealed that a British staffer there was spying on behalf of Russia, getting caught red-handed passing sensitive documents to Moscow for cash.
 

northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Portugal’s president calls a snap election on Jan. 30
Portugal is to hold a snap election for a new parliament and government on Jan. 30
By BARRY HATTON Associated Press
4 November 2021, 13:43

FILE - Portugal's Incumbent President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa delivers a speech following the results of Portugal's presidential election, in Lisbon, Monday, Jan. 25, 2021. Portugal’s president on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021 announced he is dissolving par

Image Icon
The Associated Press
FILE - Portugal's Incumbent President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa delivers a speech following the results of Portugal's presidential election, in Lisbon, Monday, Jan. 25, 2021. Portugal’s president on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021 announced he is dissolving parliament and calling a snap election for Jan. 30, following the minority Socialist government’s defeat in a key vote on the country’s spending plans. The announcement was widely expected. (AP Photo/Armando Franca, File)

LISBON, Portugal -- Portugal’s president announced Thursday that he is dissolving parliament and calling a snap election for Jan. 30, following the minority Socialist government’s defeat in a key vote on post-pandemic plans to spend billions of euros in European Union funding.

The announcement, in a televised address to the nation, was widely expected. President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa had previously said Portugal would go to the ballot box two years ahead of schedule if the government’s 2022 state budget proposal was rejected by parliament, which happened last week.

The ballot will elect 230 lawmakers to parliament, where political parties then decide who forms a government.

The election comes at a sensitive time for the country of 10.3 million people, as it is poised to begin deploying some 45 billion euros ($52 billion) in help from the EU to help fire up the economy after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rebelo de Sousa said the Portuguese needed to decide what they want from the next few years, “which are decisive” due to the windfall of funds.

“This is the decisive moment for a long-lasting recovery from the greatest pandemic of the past 100 years and the social and economic crisis it caused,” he said.

The 2022 spending plan is “an especially important budget at an especially important time,” he said.

Recent opinion polls suggest the center-left Socialist Party will win re-election but will again fall short of a parliamentary majority.

Given the procedural requirements, a new state budget proposal may not come before parliament until April. That could put the brakes on an economic rebound.

As things stand, the COVID-19 pandemic shouldn’t disrupt an election, though health authorities have warned about a potential winter resurgence in Europe.

A popular mass vaccination campaign has helped Portugal, for the moment, largely contain COVID-19. The country has on average been reporting fewer than 1,000 new cases a day since mid-September, with daily deaths in single figures.

The 2022 state budget forecast GDP growth of 4.8% this year and 5.5% next year, with a jobless rate of around 6.5%, roughly the same as now.

That has helped lift the Socialist Party’s popularity, with polls predicting it will be returned to power with a comfortable win, capturing around 39% of the vote. But that would still leave the Socialists needing parliamentary support for legislation and put Portugal back where it started before the political crisis of recent weeks.

The traditional center-right opposition parties are in disarray. Both the main opposition Social Democratic Party and the smaller Popular Party are engaged in divisive leadership challenges.

The hard-left Communist Party and Left Bloc, who allied with the government up to last week, have seen their popularity dwindle to single figures in recent elections.

In the last election, in 2019, 10 parties won seats in the 230-seat parliament in a trend toward political fragmentation that compels parties to negotiate with each other.

Most striking is the rise of Portugal’s first right-wing populist party, Chega! (Enough!), which was founded just three years ago. It currently has just one lawmaker, but polls indicate it could capture as many as 20 seats in an election, potentially serving as a kingmaker.

Portugal’s president calls a snap election on Jan. 30 - ABC News (go.com)
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Mallorca airport closed after fake emergency diverts plane
A flight from Morocco to Turkey was diverted to the Mediterranean island due to a medical emergency, which turned out to be false. Twenty passengers fled the plane in an attempt to enter Spain illegally, police said.



The terminal at Palma de Mallorca airport
Police believe the flight was diverted on purpose to facilitate the illegal entry of migrants to Spain

Palma airport, on the Spanish holiday island of Mallorca, was forced to close for nearly four hours on Friday night when several passengers fled a plane that had made an emergency landing, airport authorities said.

An Air Arabia Maroc plane from Casablanca to Istanbul had been diverted to Palma de Mallorca due to an apparent medical emergency.

Passengers stormed the tarmac
When an ambulance arrived to take the allegedly ill passenger — who was reported to have fallen unconscious due to diabetes — to the hospital, he and around 20 passengers fled the plane and ran onto the tarmac.

Authorities believe the diversion was a deliberate attempt to help people to illegally enter Spain, the El Pais newspaper reported.

At least five people were arrested, including the passenger who raised the alarm. He was taken to the hospital and found to be medically fit.

He was later held on suspicion of "assisting in illegal immigration."
His companion disappeared upon arrival at the hospital.
The runway at Palma de Mallorca airport
Many of the escaping passengers were not caught by police, and are believed to have fled over the perimeter fence

Investigators believe the remaining escapees managed to climb over the airport perimeter fence and disappear on the island.

Dozens of planes diverted, delayed
Airport operator Aena said 13 arriving planes were diverted, including to nearby Ibiza airport. Sixteen departing planes were grounded.

The airport reopened around midnight Friday after being closed for about four hours.

Mallorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands that sit in the Mediterranean off the eastern coast of mainland Spain.

The island is hugely popular with European tourists, and Palma airport is one of the busiest in Spain.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was used by up to 28 million passengers a year.

Spain is one of the countries that bears the brunt of illegal migration to Europe from Africa and the Middle East.

Its exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa regularly experience crowds of migrants and refugees who storm their border fences in large numbers.

Spain's Canary Islands, in the Atlantic Ocean, have also seen an increase in migrant arrivals by boat.

With material from AFP news agency
 

lonestar09

Veteran Member

PM Orbán holds talks with Salvini and Morawiecki on new political group
Nov 4, 2021
The prime minister held a video conference on Wednesday with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Matteo Salvini, the head of Italy’s League party, on a new political group in the European Union.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán held a video conference on Wednesday with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Matteo Salvini, the head of Italy’s League party, on a new political group in the European Union.
According to MTI, the EU party families of the League and Morawiecki’s Law and Justice (PiS) parties, the Identity and Democracy (ID) and the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) groups, respectively, are slated to continue talks on cooperation this week.

PM Orbán, Salvini and Morawiecki also noted the success of a declaration published in June by 16 parties on the future of Europe, the protection of nation states and of traditional values. Several parties and political organizations have signalled interest in signing the document.
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Germany: Several injured in knife attack on train
The attack took place on an Intercity Express (ICE) train between the southern German cities of Regensburg and Nuremberg. Police have reported several injuries.



A Deutsche Bahn high speed ICE train
The train was halted close to Nurenberg in the southern state of Bavaria following Saturday's knife attack

German Federal Police on Saturday said there was a knife attack on a train in the southern German state of Bavaria, resulting in several injuries.

The train was traveling near Neumarkt between the cities of Regensburg and Nuremberg at the time of the incident.

The Bavarian Red Cross said three people were seriously injured. None of the injuries are thought to be life-threatening.

A police spokesman told BR24 public broadcaster that the details of the attack were unclear, but that police had received a call around 9:20 a.m. local time (0820 UTC).

A 27-year-old Syrian citizen has been arrested, police said later.

"This knife attack is horrible," Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said in a statement.

"I would like to thank everyone, especially the police and the train staff, for their brave action, which prevented something even worse from happening," he added.

No immediate link to terrorism
The motive for the crime is "still unclear and will now be determined," Seehofer said.

Germany's Bild newspaper said investigators are currently ruling out a terrorist background to the incident.

But German media reports said attacker appeared to be suffering from psychiatric problems and had called for help on the train.


Watch video00:28
Police spokesman reporting on the train knife attack in Bavaria
Railway line shut down

After police were called, the train was stopped near the town of Seubersdorf, south of Nuremberg.

A spokesperson for German rail operator Deutsche Bahn said the railway line between the two cities had to be shut down.

Long-distance traffic was being diverted, causing delays of 30 to 60 minutes for passengers.
fb, mm/wmr (dpa, Reuters)
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Poland To Double The Size Of Its Army, Citing "Russia's Imperial Ambitions"
Tyler Durden's Photo

BY TYLER DURDEN
SUNDAY, NOV 07, 2021 - 07:35 AM
Poland announced this past week that it plans to double the size of its army to 300,000 - which would make it the largest in the European Union - as it's increasingly worried about destabilizing threats from Belarus, and also amid fresh Western media speculation of a Russian troop build-up near Ukraine.

On Tuesday deputy prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski cited Poland's sensitive geopolitical location as a buffer between central Europe and Russia, noting "Russia’s imperial ambitions" and the "hybrid warfare" waged by Lukashenko's Belarus in the form of sending Muslim migrants en masse across Poland's border.
Polish Army file image

Kaczynsk said the proposed defense bill aims to "radically" strengthen the nation's armed forces. "If we want to avoid the worst, that is war, we have to act according to the old rule: ‘If you want peace, prepare for war," he told a news conference. He described the urgent need of Poland to maintain the "ability to effectively defend itself for a long time on its own" - given it's on NATO and Europe's eastern flank.

The reference to future scenarios where the army might have to hold out for "a long time on its own" concerns NATO - the suggestion being that NATO-decision making would be too slow in the event of an outbreak of conflict between Poland and Belarus or even Russia.
As the Associated Press recounts, Poland responded positively to the prior Trump administration's calls for European NATO countries to quickly ramp up military spending, something which was greeted by many EU countries with pushback and anger:
The bill, which still needs approval from parliament and the president, is aimed at replacing an existing one from 1967. At that time Poland was a member of Warsaw Pact eastern military alliance, under Moscow’s control. Since 1999 it has been a member of NATO, and is regularly cited as one of the few alliance members that invest at least 2% of its GDP in defense.
Kaczynski said, speaking alongside Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak, that he believed the changes would also benefit NATO.
A big driver of the push for a greatly expanded military is migration pressure coming from Belarus. Poland has on multiple occasions angrily denounced what it says are intentional efforts by Minsk to use the migrant crisis as retaliation for Western sanctions on the Lukashenko government. Poland has been sending troop reinforcements to the border as a result.
Some have claimed that Belarusian forces are literally forcing Middle Eastern migrants to confront Polish guards at border fences...
View: https://twitter.com/franakviacorka/status/1449653142157733890?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1449653142157733890%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_c10&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com%2Fgeopolitical%2Fpoland-plans-double-size-its-army-citing-russias-imperial-ambitions


In recent days there have been accusations and counter-accusations between Poland and Belarus of armed confrontation and aggression. "In a tit-for-tat round of recriminations,
Belarus summoned Poland’s top diplomat in Minsk on Thursday to protest claims made earlier this week by Warsaw that Belarusian border guards had threatened to open fire on a Polish patrol," reports VOA News.

The migrant influx into Poland, Lithuania and Latvia has resulted in each country militarizing their borders. There's also been a recent flurry of diplomatic protests, which either side summoning ambassadors - though Belarus has officially denied being behind the migrant caravans, which are said to be mostly made up of Iraqis.
 

northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Republicans Urge Biden To Send US Troops To Ukraine To "Deter Russian Invasion"

BY TYLER DURDEN
ZERO HEDGE
SUNDAY, NOV 07, 2021 - 08:45 AM

Despite days ago Ukraine's government expressly denying earlier reports in The Washington Post and CNN of a new major Russian troop build-up along the Russia-Ukraine border, a pair of Republican lawmakers are urging the White House to immediately ramp up weapons sales to Kiev. They are citing the threat of "invasion" by Russian forces.

"With the recent massing of Russian forces on the Ukrainian border, we urge your administration to take immediate and swift action to provide support to Ukraine in the form of intelligence and weapons," representatives Mike Rogers and Mike Turner wrote in a letter first reported on by DefenseNews Friday.


Via Reuters


Further alarming is that the Congressmen are leading calls for a beefed up American military presence in Ukraine and in the Black Sea region, which is site of recent dangerous intercept encounters between US and Russian aircraft.

"We also urge your administration to deploy a US military presence in the Black Sea to deter a Russian invasion," the letter stated. "Additionally, we urge you to immediately consider an appropriate US military presence and posture in the region and to initiate appropriate intelligence sharing activities between the US and Ukraine to prevent the situation from escalating further."

It appears the pair of Russia hawks are urging such escalatory action literally based on fake news, given as Reuters detailed this week, the government of Ukraine denied the reported Russian troop build-up, and the Pentagon did not confirm it either while downplaying the possibility:

"As of November 1, 2021, an additional transfer of Russian units, weapons and military equipment to the state border of Ukraine was not recorded," the Ukrainian defense ministry said in a statement.
In Washington, the Pentagon said it was aware of public reports about "unusual activity".
"We're certainly monitoring the region closely as we always do so and as we've said before, any escalatory or aggressive actions will be of great concern to the United States," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said
.
Rogers is a ranking member House Armed Services Committee, while Rep. Turner sits on the Strategic Forces Subcommittee.

After Ukraine's initial denial of a threatening troop build-up on the border, Ukraine's defense ministry later on Wednesday said that some 90,000 Russian troops have a presence "not far from the border". Kiev also cited ongoing Moscow support to pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine's eastern Donbass region. It remains that whenever Russia's military moves large amounts of troops within its own sovereign country the media and congressional hawks typically hype it as "the Russians are coming!"

Republicans Urge Biden To Send US Troops To Ukraine To "Deter Russian Invasion" | ZeroHedge
 

Knoxville's Joker

Veteran Member
This is good and bad news. Poland does not want to be anyone's bitch again like they were with Germany. I do believe they intend to fight to the last man to avoid the iron curtain and a new reich.
 

Melodi

Disaster Cat
If things keep heating up in Northern Ireland (this is the second bus hijacking in a week and it looks like the UK may call article 16 and end the "deal" in Northern Ireland) I will start a new thread. For now I will post here -
Northern Ireland: bus hijacked and set alight on outskirts of Belfast
Incident near Rathcoole in Newtownabbey sparks fresh fears of Brexit-related violence in region
The burnt out double-decker bus in Church Road

Masked men boarded bus in Church Road near Rathcoole in Newtownabbey, County Antrim, at about 7.45pm on Sunday. Photograph: David Young/PA

Tom Ambrose
Sun 7 Nov 2021 23.14 GMT



A bus has been set on fire after it was hijacked by four masked men on the outskirts of Belfast.

The men boarded the double-decker bus in Church Road near Rathcoole in Newtownabbey, County Antrim, at about 7.45pm on Sunday, ordered passengers to get off and set it alight.

The latest act of violence comes less than a week after another bus was burnt out by masked men in a loyalist area of Newtownards, County Down, sparking fresh fears of Brexit-related violence in the region.

Sunday’s attack took place close to a loyalist estate, near Rathcoole, with footage of the fire shared online by Stormont infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon.

“It’s disgraceful and disgusting that our public transport workers have been targeted for attack again, this time by masked men who ordered the drivers and passengers off a bus and then set fire to it,” she said in a statement.

No passengers were on the bus and the driver was unharmed but shaken, police said.
Fears of Brexit violence as armed men hijack and torch bus in Northern Ireland
Read more

“This is the fourth attack this year. The criminals behind these cowardly and reckless attacks have done nothing more than harm their local community, depriving them of a critical public service.”

A police spokesperson said Church Road had been closed and asked members of the public to avoid the area, adding: “It was reported that four men got on to the bus and ordered passengers off before the bus was then set alight.”
Q&AWhy is there conflict in Northern Ireland?
Show
Violence also broke out twice last week in west Belfast between youths from the nationalist Springfield Road and loyalist Shankill Road.
Following a protest against the Northern Ireland protocol, police were attacked with missiles and fireworks on Wednesday and Friday night.
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Conflict In North Africa Threatens Gas Supply To Europe
Tyler Durden's Photo

BY TYLER DURDEN
MONDAY, NOV 08, 2021 - 03:30 AM
Authored by Cyril Widdershoven via OilPrice.com,
  • A diplomatic crisis between Morocco and Algeria threatens gas supply to Spain
  • Spain considers importing more (expensive) LNG
  • Algeria faces a number of problems in expanding its gas market share in Europe


European natural gas supplies are not only waning because of lower Russian supply. Brussels, Berlin and even the Hague are keeping a keen eye on the statements made by Russian President Vladimir Putin and market reports about reduced flows through the Yamal pipeline and Ukraine. At the same time, it seems that Fort Europe is being besieged from all sides. The market is also being confronted by the negative implications of a political crisis between Morocco and Algeria, negatively impacting the latter’s gas supplies to the Iberian Peninsula.

For a few weeks a full-out political, economic and possibly security crisis has been building up between Algeria and Morocco, mainly caused by the still continuing Western Sahara-Mauritania conflict. For decades, Morocco has exerted control over the Western Sahara, fighting a military conflict with rebel movement Polisario, which is backed by Algiers. Until now, Morocco has controlled most of the Western Sahara territory, considering it to be Moroccan. And since August 2021, when Algeria severed its diplomatic relations with Morocco, the conflict has spread to gas pipeline politics too.

Algeria is facing a struggling economy, which has been hit hard by COVID-19, endemic corruption, mismanagement and internal political strive. Algeria’s leaders are also increasingly worried about Morocco’s growing political influence in the region, and even its improving relations with Israel. Internal instability, especially after the death of its former leader Bouteflika, has caused economic mayhem, and has led its oil and gas sector, the major source of income, to decline.

The last decade, both countries also have been in an arms race, which Algeria due to higher oil and gas prices has been winning, but in which Morocco is returning to take the lead. The arms race, combined with a regional power strive between Morocco and Algeria, even into the Gulf region, has caused immense friction. Until now, the strife between the two North-Afican nations, has not had a major impact on Europe. While Brussels, Madrid and other European powers, have been keeping an eye on the conflict and internal developments, the rift was regarded as an insignificant power struggle. This has, however, changed dramatically since Algeria decided to close the Maghreb-Europe gas pipeline on November 1st.

Algiers decided to close down the conduit after Morocco refused to invest in its own part of the gas export pipeline, while still taking a part of the gas in the pipeline as payment for the transfer rights. Morocco used the gas to produce around 12% of the country’s electricity. Due to the closure, Spain is directly affected. In the heads of Algerian leaders, the Medgaz pipeline is seen as a replacement, which would allow Algeria to get rid of intermediaries and to cut Morocco out.

The closure was expected, after that Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune issued an order to Sonatrach, Algeria's state energy firm, to stop supplying export gas to Spain through the Maghreb pipeline on October 31. Even though Spain has been known as a major renewable energy proponent, mainly wind and solar, the country still relies on natural gas for almost 50% of its energy needs, most of it is being supplied via the Maghreb pipeline.

Knowing that Algeria refuses to renew the contract with Morocco, Spain has been left scrambling for whatever gas supply it can get hold of. Increasing LNG imports is the first option that comes to mind, but buying spot cargoes on the market isn’t going to be easy. Madrid will have to compete with various other European and Asian buyers, which are already paying top-dollar for extra cargoes. As the Iberian Peninsula is not strongly connected to the European gas grid, importing gas from other European nations is also going to be challenging in the short term. Algerian natural gas supplies are still the main and at present the only real option. As the Magrheb-Europe gas pipeline delivered around 6 BCM per year, the gap is immense.

The only other solution is to increase the Medgaz pipeline flows. Medgaz was inaugurated a decade ago and it is controlled jointly by the Algerian state (51%) and by the Spanish energy company Naturgy, formerly known as Gas Natural Fenosa (49%). Normally it provides around 25% of natural gas that reaches Spain. Algeria has pledged to raise its capacity from eight bcm to 10 bcm a year, but Spain would still need around four bcm more to cover its needs. Some Algerian LNG could also be heading to Spain, but the price for these spot cargoes will undoubtedly be high as other countries are also bidding for the same cargoes.

The overall impact on Spain could be significant. Natural gas is not only used for heating or industry use, but also for combined cycle power plants, which are generating around 30-33% of total electricity consumed. When looking at the available strategic gas reserves, the options are limited. Spanish minister of energy Teresa Ribera reported yesterday that the country has only natural gas reserves equivalent to 43 days of consumption. She however also reiterated that Algeria has offered to send higher volumes to Spain if needed.

Algeria’s strategy is very diffuse at present. The lack of transparency in its oil and gas sector is extreme, while overall production capacity is under pressure. Some are even stating that the current crisis could be a way of hiding ongoing supply constraints or outright lack of export volumes.

At the same time, Algeria stated bluntly today that it targets a 30% gas market share in Europe. On October 2nd, Algerian Energy Minister Mohamed Arkab stated that his country was seeking to increase its share of the European gas market to over the current 30%.

Algerian press agency APS said that “the minister reiterated the country's ambition to further strengthen its presence on this market by suggesting additional quantities". Markets are however very doubtful this will happen in the next 2-5 years. Algeria is currently producing 1.2 million oil barrels per day and 130 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually, making it Africa’s largest gas exporter.
 

northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
France flexes muscle, puts warship in eastern Mediterranean
France is showcasing its military muscle with a tour of its new frigate Auvergne to the eastern Mediterranean
By MENELAOS HADJICOSTIS Associated Press
8 November 2021, 07:02

A sailor walks by the French frigate Auvergne during a port call at Cyprus' port of Larnaca on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021. The frigate's presence signals the French government's military muscle flexing as it tries to fill in a perceived regional power vacu

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The Associated Press
A sailor walks by the French frigate Auvergne during a port call at Cyprus' port of Larnaca on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021. The frigate's presence signals the French government's military muscle flexing as it tries to fill in a perceived regional power vacuum and to protect its interests including offshore hydrocarbon drilling rights that Cyprus granted to French energy company Total. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA, Cyprus -- France showcased its military muscle Monday with a tour of its new frigate Auvergne in the eastern Mediterranean, seeking to underscore what the ship's captain said was the importance that Paris attaches to ensuring security and stability in the region.

Captain Paul Merveilleux de Vignaux said the Auvergne with its 150-strong crew would be deployed in the eastern Mediterranean until January to gather intelligence in order to “show how the respect of international law and especially freedom of navigation matters” to France.


“This deployment underlines how important France considers this part of the Mediterranean sea,” as well as the country’s “willingness to contribute to the stabilization of this strategic area,” De Vignaux told reporters at the Cypriot port of Larnaca.

The Auvergne was commissioned three years ago. It has advanced sonar equipment and specializes in anti-submarine warfare.

De Vignaux said this is the 12th time that the Auvergne has visited Cyprus, which he called as key to supporting French naval operations in the region.

“There can’t be efficient and sustainable naval operations without support and Cyprus is the centerpiece of it,” De Vignaux said.

The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle has also made repeated trips to Cyprus.

Relations between Cyprus and France have been growing tighter in recent years. Cyprus also permits French aircraft to use its military air base in the southeastern corner of the island nation and allows French ships to use its southern naval port, which is now undergoing an upgrade.

France is also keen to make its presence felt to send signals to Turkey not to interfere with offshore drilling by French energy company Total and its Italian partner Eni next year in waters off Cyprus’ southern coast.

Turkey doesn’t recognize Cyprus as a nation and contests waters where the Cypriot government claims exclusive economic rights. Ankara says a large chunk of those waters either overlap its continental shelf or belong to the breakaway Turkish Cypriots.

Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece. Only Turkey recognizes a 1983 Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence in the island's northern third where it maintains more than 35,000 troops.

In February 2018, Turkish warships prevented a drill ship leased by Eni from conducting exploratory drilling in waters southeast of Cyprus.

Political analyst Anna Koukkides-Procopiou says the French naval presence is a clear signal to Turkey.

“(French President Emmanuel) Macron needs to project this power in the region, because this is part of his whole policy of establishing or re-establishing France as a great power, which is not only dominant in the region of the Middle East, but (in) Africa,” Koukkides-Procopiou told The Associated Press.

“Someone had to move in and fill that vacuum (in the eastern Mediterranean). Now France wants to make sure that it’s not Turkey,” she said.

France flexes muscle, puts warship in eastern Mediterranean - ABC News (go.com)
 

northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Poland ups security as migrants mass on border with Belarus
Officials say Poland is stepping up security at its border with Belarus, on the European Union's eastern border, following reports that a large group of migrants is headed there

By MONIKA SCISLOWSKA and VANESSA GERA
8 November 2021, 06:42

WARSAW, Poland -- Poland has increased security at its border with Belarus, on the European Union’s eastern border, after a large group of migrants in Belarus appeared to be congregating by the frontier seeking to try to force their way into Poland, officials said Monday.

Video footage from Belarusian media showed people using uprooted trees to try to get through a fence. Poland's interior ministry said it had rebuffed an attempt at illegal entry, saying the situation is under control. It posted a video showing migrants trying to force a razor fence barrier and throwing objects at Polish forces lining the fence
.

There was no way to independently verify what was happening, as journalists have limited ability to operate in Belarus, while a state of emergency in Poland is keeping reporters, human rights workers and others out of the area.

The massing of people at the border appeared, however, to signal an escalation of a crisis that has being going on for months in which the autocratic regime of Belarus has encouraged migrants from the Middle East and elsewhere to illegally enter the European Union, at first through Lithuania and Latvia and now primarily through Poland.

Anton Bychkovsky, spokesman for Belarus’ State Border Guard Committee, said in a statement sent to The Associated Press that the migrants at the border between Belarus and Poland are seeking to “exercise their right to apply for refugee status in the EU.” Bychkovsky insisted they “are not a security threat” and “are not behaving aggressively.”

Bychkovsky added that, according to the refugees, they gathered into such a large group in order to avoid “forcible ousting by the Polish side.”

But the massing of a large number of people was viewed as a threat by Poland and other European countries, including Germany — the main destination for many of the migrants.

Steffen Seibert, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, told reporters on Monday that “the Belarusian regime is acting as a human trafficker.”

“It instrumentalizes refugees and migrants in a way that’s politically and from a humanitarian point of view condemnable. And Europe will make a united stand against this continuous hybrid attack,” Seibert said.

The European Union said it hoped that Poland, an EU member state, would finally accept help from Frontex, the border agency, a step Poland's ruling nationalists have so far refused.

In Brussels, A spokesman for the European Commission, Adalbert Jahnz called it "a continuation of the desperate attempt by the (Belarusian President Alexander) Lukashenko regime to use people as pawns to destabilize the European Union and of course the values that we stand for.”

He suggested that the Commission would like Poland to request Frontex help, saying that the best way to manage a common border is with shared resources. He confirmed that Poland has not requested this help so far.

Frontex, which is headquartered in Warsaw, refused to comment on the situation, noting that it is not present at the border.

Bix Aliu, the U.S. charge d'affaires in Warsaw, tweeted in Polish that Lukashenko’s regime was risking the migrants' lives and “using them to escalate the border crisis and provoke Poland.”

“Hostile actions by Belarus are exacerbating the situation on the border with the EU and NATO dangerously and must end immediately,” he said.

Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said on Twitter that more than 12,000 soldiers have been deployed to the border, up from the 10,000 soldiers that were there recently. He added that a volunteer Territorial Defense force was put on alert.

He also posted video footage of what appeared to be a large group of migrants in Belarus, near Kuznica, in northeastern Poland.

Polish ministers with security-related mandates were holding an emergency meeting, with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki writing on Facebook: “The border of the Polish state is not just a line on the map. This border is something sacred for which the blood of generations of Poles has been shed!”

Meanwhile, in neighboring Lithuania, officials were preparing for the possibility of a similar incursion, with the Interior Ministry proposing to declare an emergency situation and the border guards regrouping. “We are getting ready for all possible scenarios,” said Rustamas Liubajevas, the head of border guards.

Since the summer, Poland and Lithuania have faced the pressure of migrants from the Middle East and Africa trying to cross into the EU. Poland has sought to block the attempts or send those they catch back into Belarus.

Warsaw and the EU say it’s an organized action by the Belarusian government aimed at destabilizing the bloc in retaliation for Western sanctions.

Belarusian political analyst Valery Karbalevich agrees. He told the AP that the Moscow-backed Lukashenko regime seemed to be trying to use the migrants “to scare” the EU and get leverage to get the EU to drop sanctions imposed last year.

“The largest attack of migrants on EU borders is taking place three days after Belarus and Russia signed a new agreement on military cooperation. The Kremlin is at least aware of the details of what’s happening,” Karbalevich said.

———

Daria Litvinova in Moscow, Yuras Karmanau in Kyiv, Ukraine, Jan M. Olsen in Copehagen, Denmark, Liudas Dapkus in Vilnius, Lithuania, and Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed.

Poland ups security as migrants mass on border with Belarus - ABC News (go.com)
 

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Poland Warns Major Shooting Incident Possible As Belarus Pushes Muslim Migrants Across Militarized Border

BY TYLER DURDEN
ZERO HEDGE
MONDAY, NOV 08, 2021 - 09:24 AM

For months Poland and other states which neighbor Belarus including Latvia and Lithuania have accused President Victor Lukashenko of intentionally sending thousands of migrants into the EU as political payback for Western sanctions and isolation measures targeting his government in Minsk, forcing these border states to seal off and militarize key crossings.

Poland is now sounding the alarm amid reports that a large caravan of at least hundreds of migrants, believed to mostly be Middle Eastern and Muslim, are currently walking to its eastern border with Belarus. "Belarus wants to cause a major incident, preferably with shots fired and casualties," Deputy Foreign Minister Piotr Wawrzyk has said in fresh statements given to Polish public radio.

Lukashenko's government is accused of in some cases literally flying plane loads full of migrants to border towns, after which they are escorted and pushed by state security troops toward border crossings.

Last week Poland's deputy prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski called what Belarus is doing a form of "hybrid warfare" on its border, flooding neighboring EU countries with Muslim migrants. Given that Poland's defense ministry has freshly indicated that over 12,000 soldiers have now been deployed and stand "prepared to defend the Polish border", along with a beefed up police and volunteer guards presence, there are fears of a major incident looming.

This as multiple social media videos over the last days show increasingly aggressive and provocative confrontations. Belarusian agents are accused of prodding people across barbed wire fences where they are met with armed Polish guards on the other side.

The size of the migrant caravans which are allowed to traverse Belarusian highways, most recently near the Bruzhi-Kuznica crossing, have increased...

Reuters
describes a few of the circulating videos as follows:

In one video, people carrying rucksacks and wearing winter clothing are seen walking on the side of a highway with a billboard written in Belarusian.
Another video showed a large group of men and women escorted by armed men in military uniform. The Polish Defense Ministry distributed a video which it said showed a group of migrants near the Bruzhi-Kuznica border crossing.
Belarus has responded to Warsaw's accusations by saying the situation has only escalated due to Poland's "inhumane attitude" and has claimed it seeks to halt any migrant caravans significantly before reaching the border.
Interestingly, Poland will now pursue construction of a large wall in place of what's mostly razor wire fences at this point:
Poland has imposed a state of emergency at the border, put up razor wire, and increased the number of soldiers and guards to stem the flow of migrants crossing from Belarus. Lawmakers have also approved the building of a $407 million wall on its eastern border.
Polish reports have tallied some 23,000 migrants who have already tried crossing the Polish-Belarusian border since the start of the year; however, it's unclear how many of these have made it into the country. Human rights monitors have noted they are between a rock and a hard place - being pushed across by Belarusian agents amid dangerous conditions, only to be met with a militarized Polish border fence and patrols, as some fresh video appears to show.


Poland Warns Major Shooting Incident Possible As Belarus Pushes Muslim Migrants Across Militarized Border | ZeroHedge
 
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