Members of an armed far-right militia are attacking Calais migrants in an unprecedented, brutal campaign of violence, according to evidence seen by this newspaper. In a series of incidents in recent weeks, refugees living at the Jungle camp claim to have been targeted by organised thugs – sometimes in uniforms.
THE French government has undertaken a raft of counter-terrorism measures since last November’s terrorist attacks in Paris. But one of them has absorbed the country’s political energy and divided its political parties like no other: a proposal to strip French-born dual citizens convicted of terrorism of their French nationality. So there was relief in government on February 10th, when the proposal passed its first legislative hurdle. France’s lower house of parliament approved, by 317 votes to 199, a bill to write such a change for French-born dual citizens into the constitution. Yet several more steps remain before the bill can become law, and the political furore it has created is far from abating
The amendment is still far from passing into law. Devised by a Socialist government, the bill now has to go to the Senate, where the centre-right holds a majority. Even if it clears parliament, the real test lies later on: the French constitution cannot be changed without the approval of three-fifths of votes at a joint sitting of the lower and upper houses, which would take place in Versailles.
Judging by yesterday’s vote, President François Hollande, already the most unpopular president in modern France, may have real difficulty obtaining this. The vote split both the ruling Socialists and the centre-right opposition. Fully 119 of the 287 Socialists deputies either voted against, or abstained. On the centre-right, despite a call from Nicolas Sarkozy, leader of the opposition Republican party, to back the bill, 74 deputies voted against. Among them was Mr Sarkozy’s former prime minister, François Fillon, who has denounced the proposal as political posturing and constitutional “DIY”.
In an effort to appeal to public opinion, which broadly supports the nationality-stripping proposal, Mr Hollande has invited himself to appear simultaneously on both main French network television news shows on Thursday evening. This will also give him a chance to explain the government reshuffle, which took place on Thursday following the departure of Laurent Fabius, the foreign minister. After nearly four years in the job, and a successful global climate deal on his watch, Mr Fabius quit on Wednesday in order to preside over the country’s constitutional council, its highest court. He has been replaced, unexpectedly, by Jean-Marc Ayrault, Mr Hollande’s (German-speaking) former prime minister.
Six weeks after the mass sex assaults on New Year’s Eve in Cologne, the number of reported incidents continues to rise and has now surpassed 1,000.
Ulrich Bremer of the Cologne public prosecutor’s office told German daily Die Welt they had “so far received 1,054 complaints” from the night. Almost half of those (454) are for sexual assault, while a further 372 are reported thefts.
Mr Bremer added that the total number of victims now stood at 1,108 – the number of victims being higher as some people sought police help together. Only one complaint has so far been discovered to be unfounded.
Police have identified 59 suspects, the majority of whom are of Moroccan or Algerian origin. Only 13 people have been detained, however.
Police documents from the night show the majority of incidents happened between 11pm and 1am, with two thirds of incidents happening around the train station and on the station forecourt. Police started to evacuate the station around midnight, but the situation did not calm down for at least another hour.
France’s brand of secularism or ‘laicité’ – designed fully to separate Church and State and private from public manifestations of faith — is quite particular and controversial and some fear is being undermined
With Europe at a complete and total loss as to how to deal with the bloc's worst refugee crisis since World War II, countries have increasingly adopted their own, ad hoc "solutions" which include razor wire anti-migrant fences in Hungary and the suspension of Schengen in Austria, where the backlash against asylum seekers is growing more palpable by the day.
An ill-fated quota system devised by Berlin and Brussels proved more divisive than it did helpful and the wave of alleged sexual assaults that swept through the region on New Year's Eve threatens to derail the settlement effort altogther.
"We have until March, the summer maybe, for a European solution," one unnamed German official told Retuers last month. "Then Schengen goes down the drain."
French President Francois Hollande is expected to set in motion Wednesday a government reshuffle aimed at boosting his appeal to voters ahead of a bid for a second term in 2017. It is likely that foreign minster Laurent Fabius will step aside as Hollande seeks fresh political momentum with just 15 months left in office.
Hollande's popularity rose after he took a tough approach on security following the November 13 jihadist attacks on Paris which killed 130 people.
But three months later, the problem that has plagued him since he came to power in 2012 -- France's stubbornly high unemployment -- has dragged him back down to popularity ratings of around 19 percent.
The home rental web platform Airbnb, which last year agreed to start charging users in Paris a tourist tax, handed over nearly 1.2 million euros to city authorities in the last quarter of 2015, according to city authorities.
After coming under fire from hotel chains, Airbnb reached an agreement with the Paris authorities last year and from October 2015 has charged users a tourist tax of 83 cents per night which it then passes on to Paris City Hall.
As a result, Airbnb contributed 1.169 million euros to Paris city coffers for the last quarter of 2015. The municipality told French news agency AFP the amount corresponds to 1.4 million overnight stays over this period.
The agreement followed similar pledges by the San Francisco group to collect and remit taxes in Amsterdam from January 2015 and the US capital Washington and Chicago from February 2015.
Islamic State militants have slipped into Europe disguised as refugees, the head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency (BfV) said on Friday, a day after security forces thwarted a potential IS attack in Berlin.
Hans-Georg Maassen said the terrorist attacks in Paris last November had shown that Islamic State was deliberately planting terrorists among the refugees flowing into Europe.
"Then we have repeatedly seen that terrorists ... have slipped in camouflaged or disguised as refugees. This is a fact that the security agencies are facing," Maassen told ZDF television.
"We are trying to recognize and identify whether there are still more IS fighters or terrorists from IS that have slipped in," he added.
The Berliner Zeitung newspaper cited Maassen on Friday as saying that the BfV had received more than 100 tip-offs that there were Islamic State fighters among the refugees currently staying in Germany.
German fears about an attack have risen since the Paris killings. On Thursday, German forces arrested two men suspected of links to Islamic State militants preparing an attack in the German capital.
French linguistic purists have voiced online anger at the loss of one of their favourite accents – the pointy little circumflex hat (ˆ) that sits on top of certain vowels. A change in the spelling of some 2,000 French words will come into effect in new primary school textbooks being released for the start of the school year in September, the education ministry and publishers have announced. The circumflex accent will become optional for many words, as will other spelling changes that have purists rubbing their eyes – such as onion, which can now be spelled “ognon” as well as the traditional “oignon”. The changes, which have caused uproar on French Twitter, were first approved by the prestigious guardians of the French language, the Academie Française, in 1990.
As the EU struggles to strengthen its border security, tracking and finding refugees and economic migrants before they reach European soil will become a priority. But no technology can address the underlying problem: the conflicts from which millions of people are seeking refuge...
...the majority of the million refugees flooding into Europe this past summer – primarily from Syria – had access to that “ubiquitous and mobile Internet” that is part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Many received real-time guidance via social media that they accessed on their smartphones. Michel Bauwens, founder of the Peer-to-Peer Foundation, describes 2015 as the year in which millions of refugees “were organized by social media (specifically through secret Facebook groups) and in which scores of citizens organized themselves through peer-to-peer networks to assist them.” These “Facebook refugees,” as the press quickly dubbed them, used the platform not only to coordinate with smugglers, but also to help one another. According to UNHCR official Alessandra Morelli, the tens of thousands of Syrian refugees arriving on the Greek island of Lesbos “know exactly where they have to go, who they have to talk to. They know what to buy.” Facebook posts showed them what kinds of tents to purchase, which routes to take, and what tactics to implement, such as slashing the rubber boats they arrived in to avoid being pushed back out to sea by Greek officials.
Call for Tough Action on Med Migrants – Newsweek Unmasks Criminals behind the Crisis
ABBEVILLE, France – A vehicle carrying ten Iranian and Iraqi migrants crashed on the A28 on Wednesday morning as the migrants fled from a border control barrage set up across the road, French news has reported. One officer was struck by the car, and was taken to hospital with a leg injury. His fellow officers gave chase and were forced to use their firearms when the migrants resisted arrest. All eleven occupants of the car, including the driver, were arrested. The car was registered in England.(via Breitbart rolling wire)
A permanent return to border controls within the Schengen area would cost €110bn over the next decade, France Strategie, a think tank directly attached to the French Prime Minister’s office has estimated. The drop in cross-border tourism and trade by ending the free-travel area would cost Europe 0.8% of economic output over the period – with a loss of €10bn to France alone.
Meanwhile, Spiegel Online reports that German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière wants to extend border controls, which have been in place in Germany since September, for an “indefinite period” when they are due to expire on 13 February. The German Cabinet is today expected to adopt the highly controversial ‘Asylum Package II’ – a package of reforms to reduce and control the influx of migrants and asylum seekers into the country.
Shakespeare's Globe theater company is staging "Hamlet" in a squalid refugee camp in northern France, bringing the Bard's best-known play to some of the more than 4,000 people living in what is known as the "jungle."
Wednesday's performance may be among the boldest shows by the Globe in its world-wide tour that began nearly two years ago on the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth and ends back home in Britain this April, the 400th anniversary of his death.
For camp residents, the British production may seem a good fit: they come to Calais in hopes of sneaking to Britain.
The play is hosted by the Good Chance theater in the heart of the camp, one of numerous structures set up by volunteers to fill the void for displaced camp residents.
French carmaker Renault said Friday net profit for 2015 was up nearly 50 per cent to 2.96 billion euros despite its Russian subsidiary Avtovaz getting hit by the economic slowdown in Russia.
The French automobile giant Renault saw its turnover grow by 10.4 percent to 45.3 billion euros last year. The success of new models such as Captur and Kadjar SUVs allowed the French company to hit profitability targets two years in advance.
CEO Carlos Ghosn said 2015 had been a good year. "On the basis of these results, we can look forward to 2016 with a certain degree of confidence," he added.
Ghosn said he was confident the global car market would grow between 1.0 and 2.0 percent this year and said he was counting on Russia and Brazil - another developing market that slumped in 2015 - picking up.
France’s National Assembly passed a series of constitutional amendments that would, among other things, allow the state to strip convicted terrorists of their French citizenship. The measures, which were introduced by Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls, come in response to the November terror attacks in Paris, which left 130 people dead. The broad vote for constitutional reform passed 317-199, but there were more contentious votes along the way. The most controversial measure, to strip convicted terrorists of nationality, narrowly passed 162-148, with 22 abstentions, after weeks of intense debate.
The nationality measure has strong public support but has deeply divided President Francois Hollande's Socialist Party. Some 60 left-wing MPs boycotted the broader vote, and Justice Minister Christian Taubira resigned last month in protest. Whether the reforms eventually become law remains to be seen. The bill now goes to the Senate, and if passed there must then pass the full Congress – a joint session of both houses - with a three-fifths majority.
Champion strongman accuses migrants in France of attacking his trucks.
A Polish five-time World’s Strongest Man champion wants to introduce migrants to his baseball bat — a sentiment that now has him in the sights of Poland’s prosecutor’s office.
Mariusz Pudzianowski posted a Facebook picture of a baseball bat with the comment that he would await refugees gathered in Calais on a ferry to prepare them for an “accelerated lesson in assimilation.” The January post was liked by over 27,000 people.
European Union envoys agreed a new set of demands for Greece to fix its handling of irregular migrants on Wednesday, moving forward a process that could see frontier checks in Europe's passport-free Schengen zone extended for up to two years.
EU diplomatic sources said a meeting of ambassadors from the 28 member states approved a second set of recommendations to Greece to end serious deficiencies in its control of its part of the Schengen area external border within three months.
Should it fail to implement all the measures, which few expect Athens to be able to do, an unprecedented measure under the Schengen treaty would allow states inside the zone to impose checks on their own borders -- as some including Germany have already done in response to movements of migrants from Greece.
Some derogations from the treaty already granted expire in May. The new procedure is intended to trigger a longer-term possibility of reimposing border checks for up to two years.
The three-month countdown is likely to begin on Friday when diplomats expect EU member state governments formally to endorse the envoys' decision
Lawmakers in France's lower house of parliament on Tuesday narrowly voted through a highly controversial proposal to amend the constitution to strip people convicted of terrorist offences of their French nationality.
The measure, passed by 162 votes to 148 with 22 abstentions, followed weeks of debate after it was proposed as part of a set of measures by President Francois Hollande in the wake of the jihadist attacks in Paris on November 13 that killed 130 people.
The nationality measure has strong public support but has deeply divided Hollande's ruling Socialist Party.
Christiane Taubira resigned as justice minister late last month over her opposition to it and Hollande's former prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has publicly condemned the amendment.
Socialist lawmakers, those from former president Nicolas Sarkozy's right-wing Republicans party and the centrist party UDI party, voted in favour of the measure, but Socialist fringe parties and most of the ecologist lawmakers were opposed.
Lawmakers will vote on Wednesday on the collective package of measures proposed by Hollande. They voted on Monday in favour of the other key measure in the package, the move to enshrine the state of emergency in the constitution, giving the security forces greater powers.
If there’s anything we’ve learned over the past twelve months it’s that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is prepared to employ all manner of nefarious tactics in order to preserve his grip on power in Ankara.
Following unfavorable election results last June, Erdogan plunged the country into civil war be restarting a long simmering battle with the PKK and proceeded to crack down on journalists and anyone else critical of the ruling AKP. Ultimately, new elections were called and AKP put up a stronger showing, effectively paving the way for Erdogan to rewrite Turkey’s constitution and install an executive presidency.
But Erdogan’s bullying isn’t confined to his domestic political agenda. Greek media has obtained an internal memo which suggests the Turkish strongman effectively blackmailed the EU by demanding cash payments in exchange for efforts to curb the flow of migrants into Western Europe. “We can open the doors to Greece and Bulgaria anytime and we can put the refugees on buses,” Erdogan allegedly said, on the way to demanding $3 billion per year in aid.
The massive flow of migrants and refugees into Europe must be slowed through closer cooperation with Turkey, the interior ministers of France and Germany said Friday.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere stressed that the migrant crisis which erupted last year is a real "danger" for Europe's Schengen border-free zone.
The goal "cannot just be to register arriving refugees and to relocate them equitably (but above all) to reduce the flow," de Maiziere said after a two-day visit to registration facilities in Greece.
The German minister called for efforts to "intensify" the repatriation "of those not requiring protection," meaning economic migrants not fleeing war zones.
To this end, Greek Interior Minister Panagiotis Kouroublis said all sides had agreed to label Turkey "a third-party country of safe passage."
Both de Maiziere and his French counterpart Bernard Cazeneuve stressed that there was room for improvement in coordinating security databases on Europe's borders.
Data from the passport-free Schengen zone must include "terrorism (records) by police and intelligence agencies, and conditions must be created to link the Schengen system to other criminal records," Cazeneuve told reporters.
France will contribute experts in the growing fight against passport forgery among exiles desperate to reach Europe, while Germany will send a hundred extra police and two patrol boats, the ministers said.
Facing its gravest migration challenge since World War II and beset with internal divisions on the issue, the European Union has been struggling for a response to the crisis since last year.
.... In September, German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook at a UN development summit in New York. As they sat down, Chancellor Merkel's microphone, still on, recorded Merkel asking Zuckerberg what could be done to stop anti-immigration postings being written on Facebook. She asked if it was something he was working on, and he assured her it was. At the time, perhaps the most revealing aspect of this exchange was that the German Chancellor -- at the very moment that her country was going through one of the most significant events in its post-war history -- should have been spending any time worrying about how to stop public dislike of her policies being vented on social media. But now it appears that the discussion yielded consequential results. Last month, Facebook launched what it called an "Initiative for civil courage online," the aim of which, it claims, is to remove "hate speech" from Facebook -- specifically by removing comments that "promote xenophobia." Facebook is working with a unit of the publisher Bertelsmann, which aims to identify and then erase "racist" posts from the site. The work is intended particularly to focus on Facebook users in Germany...
The mass movement of millions of people -- from across Africa, the Middle East and further afield -- into Europe has happened in record time and is a huge event in its history. As events in Paris, Cologne and Sweden have shown, it is also by no means a series of events only with positive connotations.
As well as being fearful of the security implications of allowing in millions of people whose identities, beliefs and intentions are unknown and -- in such large numbers -- unknowable, many Europeans are deeply concerned that this movement heralds an irreversible alteration in the fabric of their society. Many Europeans do not want to become a melting pot for the Middle East and Africa, but want to retain something of their own identities and traditions. Apparently, it is not just a minority who feel concern about this. Poll after poll shows a significant majority of the public in each and every European country opposed to immigration at anything like the current rate.
The sinister thing about what Facebook is doing is that it is now removing speech that presumably almost everybody might consider racist -- along with speech that only someone at Facebook decides is "racist."
And it just so happens to turn out that, lo and behold, this idea of "racist" speech appears to include anything critical of the EU's current catastrophic immigration policy.
By deciding that "xenophobic" comment in reaction to the crisis is also "racist," Facebook has made the view of the majority of the European people (who, it must be stressed, are opposed to Chancellor Merkel's policies) into "racist" views, and so is condemning the majority of Europeans as "racist." This is a policy that will do its part in pushing Europe into a disastrous future.
Too many migrants are using the ‘outdated’ Geneva Convention to enter Europe when they are not in genuine need, Finland’s president has warned. Sauli Niinisto called for a rethink of the 1951 UN treaty that obliges signatories – including Britain – to offer sanctuary to those fleeing danger. He said it was not right that anyone could say the word ‘asylum’ on arrival and have the right to cross into Europe. Finland's president Sauli Niinisto, has described the 1951 Geneva Convention as 'outdated' and wants the mechanism changed to place additional restrictions on asylum seekers looking to move to Europe His comments came as the European Commission warned that the huge influx of refugees into Europe could trigger a new economic crisis. Addressing politicians at the opening of parliament in Helsinki, Mr Niinisto said the migrant crisis posed a serious threat to Western values and called for tougher rules to stop those moving simply in search of a better life.
Mr Niinisto said: ‘Migration is a serious problem. Europe, Finland, the western way of thinking and our values have all been challenged by it. This is a stark transformation. Just a few years ago we were exporting our values and regarded them as unquestionable, now we are having to consider whether even we ourselves can preserve them.’ The Finnish leader said the majority of asylum seekers were not fleeing immediate danger. The Geneva Convention, signed by 145 countries in the aftermath of the Second World War, has been criticised for preventing migrants being returned to Turkey because it does not recognise the rights of refugees from the Middle East. It also takes no account of the impact of large numbers of asylum seekers on the nations they arrive in. Mr Niinisto said: ‘The flow of immigration into Europe and Finland is largely a case of migration rather than a flight from immediate danger. ‘All estimates predict that the flow of people will increase this year. This is challenging the ability of western democracies to help and also challenging the very structures underlying the idea of Europe. ‘The international rules were drawn up and their interpretation evolved under quite different circumstances. ‘I feel sure that if these international regulations, and the national regulations based on them, were drawn up now, their content would be fundamentally more stringent, while still taking account of human rights and helping those in need.’ Mr Niinisto said there were ‘no good options’, but insisted leaders had to ask themselves ‘whether we aim to protect Europe’s values and people – and those who are truly in acute danger – or inflexibly stick to the letter of our international obligations with no regard for the consequences’. Last night the European Commission warned of fresh economic turbulence if the flow of migration continued. In a report, it said the ‘unprecedented inflow’ presented a ‘major political challenge’. Another million people driven from their homes by conflict are expected in Europe this year. But failure to deal with it could derail the already fragile economy, said eurocrats. ‘The public perception of the increased number of refugees could impact negatively on economic confidence and thereby lower the growth momentum of private consumption,’ said the report.
France's top security official said investigators have dismantled 25 migrant smuggling networks in the country's north in the past year.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said about 700 people were involved in the networks in the Calais region, temporary home to about 4,000 migrants camped in squalid conditions on the edge of the Channel in hopes of slipping across to a better life in England.
Speaking Thursday to Europe 1 radio, Cazeneuve also defended his ban on protests in Calais, which he said was imposed in response to a demonstration in support of migrants that ended with a group of people breaking into the port and boarding a ship. He said the unrest showed the risks were too great of confrontations involving both pro-migrant activists, and extremists on the right.
The migration crisis and anxieties about terrorism have brought into pointed focus the political and security costs of a borderless Europe. Now pressure to tighten controls at frontiers and possibly gut the Schengen accord that created a passport-free continent is highlighting another cost — the economic one of reinstating Europe’s borders. It is huge, say the EU pols who want to keep Schengen, as well as businesses that profit from the smooth movement of people and products around the EU. Every day, some 3.5 million people cross the borders between the 22 EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland in the Schengen zone. Almost 1.7 million people in Europe work in one Schengen country and live in another. Every year, a couple of trillion euros in goods and services moves around this area.
France Stratégie, the government economic agency, said France would suffer losses between €1 billion and €2 billion annually in the short term if Europe returns to borders. Tourism would shrink by €500 million to €1 billion a year, while the negative impact on trade would amount to between €60 million and €120 million annually.
In the longer term, the economic effects could even result in a 0.5 percent cut in France’s annual economic growth, or about €10 billion, according to France Stratégie.
The champions of a borderless Europe are invoking the economic case to make the political one for keeping Schengen.
After a headline-grabbing taxi protest last week against the inexorable rise of private chauffeur apps like Uber, some French drivers will launch a counter demonstration on Wednesday to protest against long hours and low pay.
The drivers are worried that the government, which promised it would increase spot checks on minicabs potentially breaking the law, is too keen to appease the protesting taxi drivers.
Others, who blame the apps companies for making a bad situation worse, are boycotting the event.
ADVERTISING The demonstration is being actively supported by the app companies – including US giant Uber and French app Chauffeurs Privées – who have called on their drivers, and companies that use their services, to take part.
“We need a real debate over how we can repay taxi drivers the cost of their licenses, and for private-hire drivers to have a future,” Joseph François, protest organiser and head of the Alternative Mobilité Transport (AMT) association, told reporters.
Taxi licences, which are sold by retiring cabbies to youngsters entering the market, can fetch up to 240,000 euros, while the required training to become a private hire driver costs less than 2,000 euros.
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