Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

People’s Daily: “There is no territorial dispute between China and Indonesia in the South China Sea”

May 2, 2016

By Leo Suryadinata

MAY 2 — On March 19, the Chinese fishing boat Kway Fey entered Indonesia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and was detained by the Indonesian navy while engaged in illegal trawling. But as the boat was being pulled in towards the Natuna Islands, a Chinese coast guard vessel — two to three times larger and more advanced than the Indonesian vessel — intervened and freed the fishing boat.

The eight Chinese crew members of the boat, however, remained detained by the Indonesian authorities.

The Indonesian Foreign Ministry summoned the Chinese ambassador in Jakarta and protested that the Chinese vessel had entered Indonesian waters and intervened in the arrest of the Chinese fishing boat. (Since the ambassador was away in Beijing at the time, the Minister-Counselor went in his place).

Ms Hua Chunying, the spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, replied thus: “When the incident happened, the Chinese fishing boat was in Chinese traditional fishing grounds, doing normal productive activities. On March 19, the boat was attacked and harassed by the Indonesian armed vessel, and China’s coast guard came to the rescue. It did not enter the Indonesian waters. We demand that the Indonesian authorities immediately release the crew of the fishing boat.”

Hua Chunying (File Photo)

She also noted: “The sovereignty of the Natuna Islands belongs to Indonesia. China does not have any other opinion. Regarding the dispute on the sea, both sides should resolve it through negotiations.”

Yet Global Times, the English-language newspaper linked to People’s Daily, the organ of the Chinese Communist Party, published an opinion piece with a different take on the issue.

“There is no territorial dispute between China and Indonesia in (the) South China Sea,” wrote Mr Ding Gang, a senior editor with People’s Daily.

“Jakarta claimed the area that the Chinese vessel fished in is within the EEZ derived from the Natuna islands, but it also overlaps part of China’s nine-dash line,” Mr Ding added, referring to the line China used to assert its historical claim over most of the South China Sea.

These statements are useful to understand China’s stance towards the Natuna Islands and its EEZ. There is ambiguity here.

The spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry repeatedly argued that the Natuna Islands belong to Indonesia without mentioning the EEZ and the nine-dash line. She also claimed that the fishing boat was in “Chinese traditional fishing grounds” and did not enter Indonesian waters.

Indonesia, in turn, has never recognised the nine-dash line. From the Indonesian point of view, since China and Indonesia are both signatories of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), they hence recognise the EEZ formula, which in effect entitles the Natuna Islands to 200 nautical miles of the EEZ. Indonesia assumes that China accepts this EEZ, based on Indonesian ownership of the islands.

For this reason, both Beijing and Jakarta repeatedly claim that “there is no territorial dispute” between them. However, the Global Times article openly stated that, in fact, there is a dispute over the Natuna EEZ as “its overlaps with the nine-dash line (of China)”.

The article, therefore, openly raised the issue of Indonesian sovereignty around the Natuna. Will Beijing and Jakarta openly argue the issue of the EEZ? Or will both sides continue to keep things ambiguous?

Indonesia’s response

According to Ms Susi Pudjiastuti, the Maritime and Fishery Minister, this is not the first time a Chinese fishing boat has entered Natuna waters. On March 26, 2013, Indonesia stopped a Chinese fishing boat from fishing in the Indonesian waters. Even in that incident, the boat escaped thanks to intervention from the Chinese coast guard.

At the time, both Jakarta and Beijing handled matters quietly. This time around, though, Ms Pudjiastuti openly accused the Chinese fishing boat of stealing fish, and criticised the Chinese coast guard for intrusion and intervention in Indonesian waters.

She summoned the Chinese ambassador in Jakarta. Ms Retno Marsudi, Indonesia’s Foreign Minister, also summoned the ambassador to explain the behaviour of the Chinese coast guard. Even the Minister of Defence Ryamizard Ryacudu, a retired general, expressed his wish to summon China’s envoy.

According to diplomatic protocol, only the Foreign Minister can call in the Chinese ambassador, so this suggests a lack of co-ordination in the Joko (Jokowi) Widodo government.

Notably, Mr Ryacudu had refused to link the incident to China’s assertive claims in the South China Sea. He said it was possible that the Chinese coast guard acted without the instructions of the Chinese government.

He noted: “We know very well that the army should be well disciplined, but there are always members of the army who are undisciplined. It is possible that the incident was caused by undisciplined personnel within the army. Therefore I would like to (seek clarification from) the Chinese ambassador myself.”

The March 2016 incident nonetheless attracted a lot of public attention in Indonesia. Beijing’s response angered many among the Indonesian elite. Jakarta newspapers published editorials and reports critical of Beijing. The majority condemned the Chinese coast guard vessel for encroaching into Indonesian waters and urged the Indonesian government to be firm in protecting Indonesian territorial integrity.

Tempo called China’s behaviour “arrogant”, while Republika noted that this was a test for Indonesia-China relations. The People’s Coalition for Fishery Justice (Koalisi Rakyat untuk Keadilan Perikanan) stated that after this incident, China had become the “common enemy of ASEAN”.

In Parliament, members were critical of China, and the defence and foreign affairs committee wanted Mr Widodo to manage the issue personally, arguing that Chinese boats encroaching on Natuna waters should be seen as an indication that Beijing wants to lay claim over the area. The Indonesian Parliament approved a budget for developing military facilities in the Natuna Islands and the navy stated it had strengthened its presence there. It was noted that the authorities were intending to transform Natuna into a “Pearl Harbour”.

Then on April 13, barely a month after the incident that sparked the Indonesian outburst, the head of the international department of the Chinese Communist Party, Song Tao, visited President Joko Widodo. Soon after the meeting, Mr Pramono Anung, the Indonesian Cabinet Secretary, told the media that “the matter is considered to have been settled and it is also considered as a misunderstanding.”

There was no explanation on the process of settlement. However, Mr Pramono said both sides agreed that the South China Sea issue “would be settled peacefully without the involvement of outsiders”. He also believed that “in the future, China and Indonesia will respect each other’s territorial waters”.

There is nothing explicit in the statement, and it is odd that it was made not through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs but the Cabinet Secretary.

The Jakarta Post reported that “Mr Pramono said the incident had been settled after Beijing acknowledged Indonesian’s full sovereignty over the Natuna waters”. It was also reported that “Jakarta and Beijing expressed a strong desire to improve relations at all levels”.

It would seem that the Natuna incident has been settled, at least for the time being, and that both sides prefer to keep their stance on the EEZ and the nine-dash line ambiguous.

As long as China does not challenge Indonesian sovereignty openly, the situation can be managed. How long this ambiguous stance can be kept, however, remains unclear. — TODAY

*Leo Suryadinata is Visiting Senior Fellow at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute. This piece was adapted from a longer piece in ISEAS Perspective.

**This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

– See more at:

Philippines Presidential Election: Duterte failed to put to rest allegations of undeclared wealth — Did not open the bank records

May 2, 2016
Sen. Antonio Trillanes speaks at the Go Negosyo vice presidential forum on Monday, March 14, 2016 in Makati City, Philippines. / Efigenio Toledo IV, file

MANILA, Philippines (2nd update, 12:54 pm) – The anticipated showdown between Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and the camp of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Monday failed to put to rest allegations of undeclared wealth since the mayor’s lawyer did not open the accounts, the senator said.

“Ako ay nagbigay ng affidavit pero hindi pa rin pumirma ng waiver si Duterte at hindi rin binuksan ang kanyang bank account. Ang hinihingi lang nila ay balanse at hindi transaction history,” Trillanes said in a statement sent to reporters before noon on Monday.

On Monday morning, Duterte lawyer Salvador Panelo said the Davao City mayor had authorized him to release records on accounts that Trillanes has alleged has had transactions worth P2.4 billion. Duterte’s camp had earlier said that the accounts would be opened if Trillanes submits an affidavit detailing where he got the information on the allegedly undisclosed accounts.

Trillanes said that he gave Panelo a copy of the affidavit but that the Duterte camp did not open the bank records. He stressed that the information did not come from the Bank of the Philippine Islands. BPI has already issued a statement denying there has been a breach in its security.

The senator said in a phone interview over GMA News TV that a bank statement stating the account balance cannot disprove his allegation since it does not show the transaction history.

“Samakatuwid, may tinatago sa bayan si Mayor Duterte, at ang akusasyon kong may may P2.4 bilyon na transaksyon sa kanyang bank accounts ay hindi niya napasinungalingan,” Trillanes said in his e-mailed statement.

Duterte initially denied the existence of the accounts, but later acknowledged that he has accounts at the BPI branch in Julia Vargas in Pasig. He said, however, that they do not contain P211 million as originally alleged by Trillanes. He and his camp have also dismissed Trillanes’ allegations as politically motivated.

Trillanes, a candidate for vice president, supports Sen. Grace Poe.

Panelo: Delay was with bank

Panelo told reporters that BPI needed time to study his client’s request for a certification that the account does not have “P211 million whether singly, collectively or cummulatively” because it was not a standard certification that a bank gives.

“Kami, wala kaming problema doon dahil meron nga akong SPA [special power of attorney] but the bank asked for seven days,” he said outside the bank.

He added that he will not release the records but that the Duterte camp is asking the bank to do so.

“Hindi naman ako ang bangko,” he said.

Trillanes: Source was concerned citizen

Trillanes said in his signed affidavit that he met a certain Joseph De Mesa, whom he described as a concerned citizen claiming to have vital information on Duterte, on April 21.

The senator said De Mesa used to be a Duterte supporter but withdrew support when he saw documents that suggested that Duterte had kept numerous accounts that “where hundreds of millions, if not billions, were deposited/transferred over the years.” He said that De Mesa got the documents through a relative “who was working with an agency involved in investigating ill-gotten wealth of government officials.”

He said that De Mesa gave him documents related to the BPI accounts and to a BDO bank branch in Mandaluyong City. He said that he and his staff vetted the information and checked them against Duterte’s Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth in the periods covered.

Police Use Tear Gas in Paris, Istanbul During May Day Demonstration — Cobblestones thrown — “Everyone hates the police.”

May 2, 2016

Plainclothes policemen arresting a man during clashes that broke out during the traditional May Day demonstration in Paris.PHOTO: AFP

ISTANBUL PARIS (AFP) – French and Turkish police fired tear gas at protesters as tensions erupted in both countries during May Day rallies Sunday, while thousands marched across the globe for the annual celebration of worker’s rights.

From Moscow to Madrid, workers chanted demands for higher wages, better conditions and more job security as many countries battle economic uncertainty and high unemployment.

Thick clouds of tear gas hung above the Place de la Nation square in Paris where youths in balaclavas and ski masks lobbed cobblestones and bottles at black-clad riot troops shouting: “Everyone hates the police.”

Police estimated some 17,000 protesters marched throughout the French capital for a rally riding a wave of anger against planned labour reforms set to come before parliament on Tuesday. Ten people were arrested, while one demonstrator and one officer were lightly injured in the scuffles, police said.

The May Day rally was the second protest against the reforms in a week to descend into violence led by troublemakers known as “casseurs” (breakers) who actively seek confrontation with security forces.

“We will respond with the greatest of determination to these troublemakers… the attacks and violence against security forces are unacceptable,” said French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Sunday.

While the government hopes the reforms will reduce chronic unemployment of about 10 percent, critics believe they threaten hard-won workers’ rights by making it easier to lay off people in lean times.

The government has already watered down the bill but this has failed to calm the anger among students and workers.

“Withdraw, withdraw the labour law. Not amendable, not negotiable,” protesters chanted.

In Istanbul, police clamped down on unauthorised protests at a time of particular tension after a succession of deadly attacks this year in Turkey blamed on extremists and Kurdish militants.

Around 25,000 police were on duty, cordoning off the central Taksim Square and releasing volleys of teargas and water cannon on those trying to make their way to the protest hotspot, a photographer said.

In the flashpoint area of Okmeydani, masked radical leftists threw Molotov cocktails and firecrackers at police and created burning barricades out of junk.

The office of the Istanbul governor said that 207 people were detained around the city for trying to march on Taksim. It said that 40 Molotov cocktails, 17 hand grenades and dozens of fireworks were seized.

In a separate incident, a man in his 50s was killed when he was run over by a police water cannon vehicle.

Hundreds of labour and union activists took part in an officially-sanctioned rally elsewhere in the city.

Meanwhile, Turkish police detained four suspected Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) extremists who were allegedly planning an attack on May Day celebrations in the capital Ankara, the state-run Anatolia news agency said.

International Workers’ Day was started in Chicago in 1886 by a union demanding an eight-hour work day and is now celebrated around the world.

In Moscow around 100,000 workers joined a May Day parade on the city’s Red Square, waving Russian flags and balloons near the Kremlin walls, police said.

The carefully choreographed parade took place amid an economic crisis brought on by Western sanctions over Ukraine and low oil prices.

Hundreds of thousands marched in Cuba at a rally condemning a campaign to “destabilise” leftist governments around Latin America.

“This May 1 is also a day to condemn the manoeuvres aimed at… reversing the gains achieved in social policy in our America and destabilising the leftist and progressive governments in power,” Ulises Guilarte, the secretary general of the Workers’ Central Union of Cuba, told a massive crowd on Havana’s Revolution Square.

Thousands marched in Madrid with banners proclaiming: “Against budget cuts and for retirees.” In Austria, embattled Chancellor Werner Faymann faced jeering and boos as he addressed around 80,000 people in Vienna, a week after the government’s disastrous defeat at the hands of the far-right in a presidential ballot.

In South Korea, planned labour reforms have also sparked anger among workers, and tens of thousands protested against the bill.

Labour activists say the reforms being pushed by President Park Geun-Hye and her conservative Saenuri Party will make it easier for companies to sack workers.

“Let’s fight together against the evil bill!” activists and union members chanted during a protest in Seoul.

Is The Islamic State “Cornered”? — Will They Come Out Like Wild Dogs — Instigating More Terrorism

May 2, 2016

World | Sun May 1, 2016 5:05pm EDT

Islamic State attacks have increased this year, particularly in Iraq and Syria as the group responds to substantial territorial losses, a U.S.-based analysis firm IHS said on Sunday.

There were 891 attacks during the first quarter of 2016 in neighbors Iraq and Syria, more than in any three-month period since the militants’ sweeping advance in mid-2014, IHS said in a new report.

Those attacks killed 2,150 people, a 44 percent rise over the previous three months and the highest quarterly toll in nearly a year.

“The group is resorting more and more to mass-casualty violence as it comes under heavy pressure from multiple angles,” said Matthew Henman, head of IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center.

The U.S. military estimates Islamic State’s territory in Iraq has shrunk by about 40 percent from its 2014 peak and 20 percent in Syria.

Iraq’s military routed the militants from the western city of Ramadi four months ago and then pushed further west towards the Syrian border. The northern offensive has been slower, with army and Sunni Arab tribal forces taking only four villages over the past month south of Mosul.

In Syria, government-aligned forces backed by Russian air power have recaptured territory from Islamic State, including the ancient city of Palmyra. The group is also under pressure from a separate U.S.-led air campaign in the north and northeast, where Kurdish fighters have advanced.

The IHS report also noted a rise in Islamic State attacks in Libya, where the militants have grown in strength, taking over the central city of Sirte and attacking oilfields. Analysis showed almost as many attacks in the first three months of this year as in the preceding six months.

IHS said Islamic State activity has also spiked around the northwestern town of Sabratha it described as a key staging ground for attacks in neighboring Tunisia.

“High profile, mass casualty attacks are a tried and tested method of changing the narrative and deflecting attention away from the problems it is facing,” said Henman. “This is done for internal consumption just as much as external.”

(Reporting by Stephen Kalin; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)



More than 200 civilians have been killed in just the past week in Aleppo as rebel and regime forces traded blows. Air strikes on flats and medical facilities in rebel-held neighbourhoods have turned homes and hospitals into rubble. Tragedy has become part of daily life, as these powerful images show.

A Syrian boy is comforted as he cries next to the body of a relative who died in an air strike on Wednesday, April 27, 2016, in the rebel-held neighbourhood of al-Soukour in Aleppo. PHOTO: AFP

Burnt vehicles in front of the damaged Medecins Sans Frontieres-backed al-Quds hospital, after it was hit by air strikes, in a rebel-held area of Aleppo. PHOTO: REUTERS

A Syrian civil defence member carrying a wounded woman into a hospital in the government-controlled side of Aleppo following fighting between regime forces and rebels on Thursday, April 28, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

Syrians evacuating an injured man amid the rubble of destroyed buildings after an air strike on the rebel-held neighbourhood of Al-Qatarji in Aleppo on Friday, April 29, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

An injured woman at the site of air strikes in Old Aleppo on Thursday, April 28, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

Syrians evacuating a toddler from a destroyed building after an air strike on the al-Kalasa neighbourhood in Aleppo on Thursday, April 28, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

A Syrian family walking amid the rubble of destroyed buildings after an air strike on Thursday, April 28, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

Syrian civil defence volunteers evacuating people from a damaged building after an air strike on April 23 in the Tareeq al-Bab neighbourhood in Aleppo. PHOTO: AFP

People inspecting the damage at the site of air strikes in the rebel-held area Bustan al-Qasr in Aleppo on Thursday, April 28, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

Syrian civil defence volunteers and rescuers removing a baby from under the rubble of a destroyed building in the al-Kalasa neighbourhood of Aleppo on Thursday, April 28, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

A man amid the rubble of destroyed buildings after an air strike on the rebel-held neighbourhood of al-Kalasa in Aleppo. PHOTO: AFP

South China Sea: What Is China’s next Move? Is Scarborough Shoal A “Red Line”?

May 2, 2016

The Associated Press

Tensions in the South China Sea are rising, pitting China against smaller and weaker neighbors that all lay claim to islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters rich in fish and potential gas and oil reserves. China’s recent construction of artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago, complete with airstrips and radar stations, and U.S. patrols challenging Beijing’s vast territorial claims, have caused concern that the strategically important waters could become a flashpoint.

Satellite image of the disputed Scarborough Shoal, also known as Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag Shoal, which located 124 nautical miles west of the Philippines’ main island of Luzon.

A look at some recent key developments:


EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a weekly look at the latest key developments in the South China Sea, home to several territorial conflicts that have raised tensions in the region.



Being so close to the main Philippine island of Luzon, the Scarborough Shoal is a particularly sensitive piece of real estate.

The uninhabited coral reef was exploited by both Filipino and Chinese fishermen, and was used by as a bombing range by the U.S. Air Force until Washington closed bases in the Philippines in 1991. In 2012, Chinese vessels seized the shoal following a tense standoff with Filipino ships.


A Hong Kong newspaper recently quoted a source close to the People’s Liberation Army as saying that China would build an outpost on Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal. Google Maps 

The South China Morning Post reported this week, citing an anonymous military source, that Beijing will start reclamation work on the shoal later this year and may add an airstrip to extend the air force’s reach. Transforming the shoal into another military outpost so close to Manila and the busy Luzon Strait, which connects the South China Sea with the Pacific Ocean, would be the biggest challenge yet for the Philippines and its ally, the U.S.

China did not confirm or deny the report.

The Philippines has contested China’s vast claims in the South China Sea at a U.N. tribunal, which is expected to rule soon in what many believe will be an unfavorable outcome for Beijing. China has refused to take part in the proceedings, and there are worries whether it might respond by cementing its island holdings, or even expanding them by fortifying Scarborough, too.

Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines College of Law’s Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, cited historical documents showing the United States ceded the shoal to the Philippines as part of American administered territory at independence in 1946. This is evidence that the shoal is covered by the Mutual Defense Treaty, and thus the U.S. has an obligation to prevent it from being permanently controlled by China, he said.

Filipino Fishermen Silver Lopez and Raymart de Claro remove old paint and scratches, scrape off patches of barnacles on the 9-meter fishing boat. They told us they gave up on fishing near the Philippines due to constant attacks by Chinese fishermen.

The shoal, therefore, represents “a red line” to the U.S. and its allies, he said.

China says Huangyan Island — Chinese for Scarborough — appears on maps as Chinese territory starting in 1935.

Last week, the new U.S. Air Force contingent from Luzon flew sorties near Scarborough, drawing a mild rebuke from China.

The Wall Street Journal quoted U.S. officials as saying that Navy ships canceled a freedom of navigation operation scheduled for April in order to “lower the temperature” in the South China Sea.



Members of Congress are urging the Obama administration to order more naval operations in the South China Sea.

“I don’t know why we are not doing it weekly, or monthly,” said Republican Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, noting the U.S. has about 60 percent of its naval vessels in the Pacific region.

Sen. Cory Gardner said sending U.S. ships into the area every three months “is simply insufficient to send a strong message to China.”

Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that such operations will take place regularly.

Blinken agreed with Sen. Marco Rubio that China’s objective was control of the entire South China Sea. Blinken said China was alienating its neighbors and risked “conflict, instability and isolation” unless it changed its approach and clarified its claims in accordance with international law.



Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s statement that Beijing had reached a consensus with Brunei, Cambodia and Laos on the South China Sea has been met with some skepticism — and concern from other ASEAN members.

Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan said that no new agreement with China on the issue has been reached.

Laos and Vietnam, which is also squabbling with China, issued a joint statement pledging to accelerate the settlement of disputes in line with international law. They also called for a binding Code of Conduct to govern disputes, something Beijing has been reluctant to conclude.

Singapore’s senior diplomat, Ong Keng Yong, said Beijing may be trying to split the regional bloc.

“Having (the Chinese) foreign minister announce that two of non-claimant states, namely Cambodia and Laos, have decided that they are not going to do this and that, seems to me like interfering in the domestic affairs of ASEAN,” said the former ASEAN secretary general. China asked Singapore to clarify Ong’s comments.


Colonel Wu Qian, China’s Ministry of Defense


“No matter how many and how frequently U.S. ships come to the South China Sea, that would not change the fact that the islands and adjacent islands are China’s inherent territory, it would not stop the pace of China’s growth and development and even more it would not shake the will of the People’s Liberation Army in resolutely safeguarding the sovereignty and security of China.” — Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Wu Qian.


Associated Press writers Hrvoje Hranjski in Bangkok, Christopher Bodeen in Beijing, Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, and Matthew Pennington in Washington contributed to this report.


Follow Hranjski on Twitter at

Gomez at

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a weekly look at the latest key developments in the South China Sea, home to several territorial conflicts that have raised tensions in the region.


 (Contains links to several related articles)

 (South China Morning Post, April 30, 2016)

 (Headline from the South China Morning Post)

 (America need not apply)

Britain’s Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn refuses to denounce terrorist ‘friends’ Hamas and Hezbollah

May 2, 2016


 Jeremy Corbyn addresses the May day rally in London Credit: Eddie Mulholland/Telegraph


Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to continue talking to terrorist organisations Hamas and Hezbollah, in comments that threaten to further destabilise his leadership ahead of the local elections.

The Labour leader refused to denounce the groups in the wake of calls from Jewish leaders, the Israeli Ambassador and members of his own party to distance himself from those with anti-Semitic views.

He has previously referred to the organisations as “friends”, despite both being declared terrorist groups by the EU and America.

Diane Abbott clashes with Andrew Marr while defending Labour Diane Abbott clashes with Andrew Marr while defending Labour Play! 01:00
See Video:

Mr Corbyn’s handling of the row has led to claims that John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, is waiting in the wings to launch an “organised takeover” as leader if Labour MPs launch a coup.

Sources claim an agreement has been struck between the two men in a bid to preserve the left-wing motives of Mr Corbyn’s leadership.

It comes in the wake of a warning from Labour donor Michael Foster that no-one of Jewish faith has given money to the central party since Mr Corbyn took office because those around him “vilify” Jews and “shout down” people who attempt to defend Israel.

Hamas Political Action Group. AFP photo

Mr Foster accused Mr Corbyn of having “ignored the issue” of anti-Semitism, adding: “I think I’m right in saying I don’t think there is a Jew in Britain who has given

Sources claim an agreement has been struck between the two men in a bid to preserve the left-wing motives of Mr Corbyn’s leadership.

It comes in the wake of a warning from Labour donor Michael Foster that no-one of Jewish faith has given money to the central party since Mr Corbyn took office because those around him “vilify” Jews and “shout down” people who attempt to defend Israel.

Mr Foster accused Mr Corbyn of having “ignored the issue” of anti-Semitism, adding: “I think I’m right in saying I don’t think there is a Jew in Britain who has given money centrally to the party since Jeremy Corbyn’s selection because prior to his selection and since his selection we have asked and asked for this to be dealt with.”

Labour MPs now fear that the handling of the row will further damage the party’s chances at the local elections and the London Mayoral race this week after it emerged experts think Labour could lose over 150 seats. Sources warn such a devastating loss would prompt calls for Mr Corbyn to resign.

Mr Corbyn addressed a central London rally

Mr Corbyn addressed a central London rally Credit: Gerry Penny

On Sunday Diane Abbott, one of Mr Corbyn’s closest allies, did not rule out a second contest, claiming Mr Corbyn would win again if he was on the ballot.

It has emerged that the Labour leader will not visit Scotland again before the election there amid claims he was barred from a Welsh campaign event last week. Mr McDonnell gave a speech in Glasgow over the weekend in his place.

Ken Livingstone leaving LBC on Saturday, April 30, 2016. Credit Warren Allott

It follows the suspensions of MP Naz Shah and former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone over apparent antisemitic remarks last week.

Their comments and the subsequent fallout prompted the Israeli Ambassador to call on Mr Corbyn to denounce anti-Semitic organisations and to visit Israel in an attempt to build bridges.

And writing in the Telegraph on Mondau Tzipi Livni, an Israeli opposition leader, warns Britain must denounce anti-Semitism “for the sake of its own core values”.

Adams cartoon, May 2 Credit: Telegraph

Ambassador Mark Regev said on Sunday: “You’ve had too many people on the progressive side of politics who have embraced Hamas and Hezbollah.

“Both of them are anti-Semitic organisations, you just have to read Hamas’ charter and it’s like chapters straight out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

“I’d ask the following question: if you’re progressive, you’re embracing an organisation which is homophobic, which is misogynistic, which is openly anti-Semitic, what’s progressive about that?”

Ambassador Regev added that the left is “in denial” about the scale of the problem, while a spokesman for the Board Of Deputies of British Jews said it has been “shocked and dismayed” at a refusal to accept problems of antisemitism in the party and called on Mr Corbyn to display “clarity about people and groups with whom it is not appropriate to share panels.”

Jeremy Corbyn denounces racism at May Day rally Jeremy Corbyn denounces racism at May Day rally Play! 00:54

Faced with calls to reject both Hamas and Hezbollah on Sunday night, Mr Corbyn’s spokesman issued a statement which read: “Jeremy Corbyn has been a longstanding supporter of Palestinian rights and the pursuit of peace and justice in the Middle East through dialogue and negotiation.

“He has met many people with whom he profoundly disagrees in order to promote peace and reconciliation processes, including in South Africa, Latin American, Ireland and the Middle East.

“He believes it is essential to speak to people with whom there is disagreement, particularly when they have large-scale support or democratic mandates.

“Simply talking to people who agree with you won’t help achieve justice or peace.”

Hezbollah fighters take an oath during a parade to continue the path of resistance against Israel (Credit Times of Israel). Have we seen that salute before?

Sir Eric Pickles, who leads the Government’s work on post-Holocaust issues, said Mr Corbyn has a “blind side” to anti-Semitism.

Isaac Herzog, the leader of the Labour party in Israel, said he was “sickened” by the comments made by Ms Shah and invited Mr Corbyn to put things right by visiting his country’s holocaust museum.

In an open letter over the weekend Mr Herzog said: “Knowing that the British Labour Party has a proud and distinguished history of fighting racism in every form, has only added to my profound disappointment at recent events, which must act as a red alert and prompt immediate action.”

A spokesman for Mr Corbyn said the leader has visited Israel before and would be happy to travel to the country again.

See more — Includes videos:


Germany: Alternative for Germany (AfD) Party Adopts Anti-Islam Doctrine — “Islam is not part of Germany” — “Say No To Sharia, Suicide Bombings and Forced Marriages”

May 2, 2016

Video by FRANCE 24


Latest update : 2016-05-02

Germany’s right-wing populist AfD Sunday adopted an anti-Islam policy in a manifesto that also demands curbs to immigration, as a poll showed it is now the country’s third strongest party.

AfD Party leader Frauke Petry during a party congress in Stuttgart on May 1, 2016


Formed only three years ago on a eurosceptic platform, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) has gained strength as the loudest protest voice against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s welcome to refugees that brought in over one million asylum seekers last year.

With the migrant influx sharply down in recent months, the AfD has shifted focus to the signature issue of the xenophobic Pegida street movement, whose full name is Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident.

“Islam is not part of Germany” ran a headline in the AfD policy paper agreed in a vote by some 2,400 members at the party congress in the western city of Stuttgart.

The paper demanded bans on minarets on mosques, the call to prayer, full-face veils for women and headscarves in schools.

A proposal for a more nuanced formulation—to “stop Islamism but seek dialogue with Islam”—was rejected with boos in the mostly-male gathering, which was held in a hall decorated with banners that read “Courage. Truth. Germany.”

“Islam is in itself political,” retorted one speaker, while another linked the religion with “sharia, suicide bombings and forced marriages”.

More broadly, the AfD is presenting itself as a nationalistic conservative force that also questions climate change, promotes traditional gender roles and “family values”, would reintroduce military conscription and take Germany out of the euro.

The weekend congress restated its hostility to the single currency, vowing to end “the euro experiment” via a referendum on whether or not Germany should remain in the eurozone.

The party meeting, which closed Sunday, also agreed a simplified tax system for its manifesto, notably aiming to ease the burden on those on low income and families.

Co-leader Joerg Meuthen said the AfD stood for a “modern conservatism” and a “healthy patriotism” while it rejected “the Germany of 1968, infected by the (socialist and environmentalist) red-green left”.

‘Germany watching us’

Having entered half of Germany’s 16 state parliaments, the AfD—seen as the country’s answer to France’s National Front and Austria’s Freedom Party—has now firmly set its sights on national elections next year.

“In the summer of 2015, they gave us up for dead,” a triumphant AfD co-chair Frauke Petry told the delegates, declaring that the party does not intend to settle for the role of opposition group or junior coalition partner.

Instead, its new programme should allow the AfD “to win majorities”, she told the gathering.

Support for the AfD stood at 13 percent, narrowly beating the ecologist Greens as Germany’s third strongest party, according to an Emnid institute survey for the newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

The party has been at pains to distance itself from the hardcore far-right and neo-Nazi movements, which are a stubbornly persistent but fringe phenomenon in a country where collective shame over the Nazi era and the Holocaust runs deep.

Alexander Gauland, leader of the party in Brandenburg state in the former communist East, cautioned delegates to generally temper their statements and “keep in mind that all of Germany is watching us”.

To drive home that message, the congress voted with 52 percent support to dissolve the Saarland regional party chapter because of its deep links with right-wing extremists groups.

To its many critics, however, the AfD represents xenophobia and a backward-looking isolationism.

On Saturday hundreds of anti-fascist demonstrators rallied outside the convention centre, with some burning tyres and hurling firecrackers.

In another act of harassment, a left-wing media site overnight published the names, addresses and telephone numbers of some 2,000 party members. AfD co-leader Joerg Meuthen pledged to file criminal charges against the unknown hackers behind the data leak.

Aside from drawing the anger of far-left groups, the AfD has also attracted near-universal condemnation from Germany’s major parties.

The general secretary of Merkel’s Christian Democrats, Peter Tauber, told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper: “The debates at the party congress show that the AfD wants to return to a Germany that never existed in that form.

“That isn’t conservative, it’s reactionary.”



BBC News

Germany AfD conference: party adopts anti-Islam policy

Delegates seen from above, holding cards above their heads

  • The party congress took place in the southern German city of Stuttgart. Getty Images

The German right-wing party Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) has adopted an explicitly anti-Islam policy.

Delegates at a party conference adopted a ban on minarets, the call to prayer and the full-face veil, saying Islam was “not part of Germany”.

A delegate who called for more local dialogue with Muslim groups was booed.

The start of the conference in Stuttgart on Saturday was disrupted by clashes and hundreds of left-wing protesters were detained.

Meanwhile, hackers published the addresses of more than 2,000 AfD members on a left-wing website.

Germany jolted by right-wing poll success

Is Europe lurching to the far right?

Guide to Europe’s nationalist parties

Formed three years ago, AfD achieved gains in three state elections in March, after campaigning against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to accept a million migrants in 2015.

Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and other established parties have ruled out going into coalition with AfD.

AfD’s other proposals include withdrawal from the euro and the reintroduction of conscription, but there are splits within the party, including between its less hardline wing and the leadership.

More on AfD

  • Founded in 2013 by Bernd Lucke, Alexander Gauland and Konrad Adam to oppose German-backed bailouts for poorer southern European countries
  • Mr Lucke, seen as a moderate, wanted Germany out of the euro but his colleagues were unhappy that he wanted to focus exclusively on euro-related issues
  • He quit the party in early July 2015, arguing it was becoming increasingly xenophobic
  • Right-winger Frauke Petry replaced him as party leader
  • It became the first anti-euro party to win seats in a German regional parliament, receiving almost 10% of the vote in the eastern German state of Saxony in 2014, and went on to win seats in four other states’ parliaments in 2014 and 2015
  • The party had seven MEPs elected in the 2014 European elections (including Mr Lucke), but only two remain party members
  • AfD was part of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, like the UK’s Conservatives, but one of its two MEPs has recently been expelled from the group over comments on shooting refugees

The rise of nationalism in Europe

Rise of nationalists in Europe - graphic

Australia’s New Subs To Be Built in Australia, French and Australian Ministers Say

May 2, 2016

MAY 2, 2016

CANBERRA, Australia — A new fleet of French-designed Australian submarines will be built in Australia on time and within budget, the French prime minister said on Monday.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls met his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull on Monday, a week after Australia announced that DCNS, a French state majority-owned company, had been chosen to design 12 diesel-electric submarines.

Australia expects the new fleet will cost at least 56 billion Australian dollars ($43 billion), although contracts have yet to be signed to create a DCNS-Australia partnership to build the world’s largest conventionally powered submarines.

Valls dismissed speculation that at least the first 97-meter (318-foot) long Shortfin Barracuda subs would be built in a DCNS shipyard in France before construction shifted to the Australian manufacturing hub of Adelaide.

“The choice of the Australian government was to have the 12 submarines built in Australia and this was the basis of our agreement,” Valls told reporters at Parliament House through a translator.

“This contract represents also a lot of work for the DCNS staff both in France and across the world,” he said.

Turnbull, who faces an election on July 2, agreed that the “entire submarine fleet” would be built in Adelaide by Australian workers with Australian steel.

“The success of the project will draw upon the expertise and technology and resources of our two great countries,” Turnbull said.

Both prime ministers agreed that the project boosted the strategic relationship between their countries to a new level and would bind them in a partnership for more than 50 years through submarine construction and maintenance.

Valls said he was personally overseeing the implementation of DCNS’s commitments made in its bid against rival submarine manufacturers from Germany and Japan.

“We will meet our commitments be it on the timeline, on the financial commitments or on the performances of the submarines,” Valls said.

DCNS Shortfin Barracuda.

ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Australia chairman John White said last week that while he was disappointed that the German bid had not been selected, his company stood ready to support the French project through its personnel’s experience in building submarines in Australia.

Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said he would seek an explanation from Australia to find out why the Japanese submarine wasn’t selected.

The first of the 4,500 metric ton (5,000 U.S. ton) subs is due to be launched in 2027.


Egypt police arrest two journalists wanted for incitement

May 1, 2016


© AFP/File | According to rights group Amnesty International, Egyptian security forces arrested hundreds of people ahead of planned protests last month

CAIRO (AFP) – Egyptian police stormed the headquarters of the journalists’ association in central Cairo Sunday and arrested two journalists for incitement to protest, judicial sources and the head of the union said.

“This is the first time that police have stormed the headquarters of the association,” its head Yahiya Kallash told AFP, adding that journalists Amr Badr and Mahmud el-Sakka were arrested.

A judicial source said the pair had been wanted by the prosecution service for alleged incitement to protest in violation of the law.

Badr heads the website Babawet Yanayer which is opposed to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Sakka works for the same organisation whose Arabic name means January Gate in a nod to the January 2011 uprising.

On Friday, Badr had written on his Facebook page that police had raided both his and Sakka’s home.

The following day Badr announced that the pair had started a sit-in in protest at the headquarters of the union.

Sakka had announced on Facebook plans to join an April protest against a decision by the government to hand over to Saudi Arabia two Red Sea islands.

According to rights group Amnesty International, Egyptian security forces arrested hundreds of people ahead of planned protests last month.

In July 2013, Sisi, then the army chief, overthrew Egypt’s Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and began a deadly crackdown on his supporters.

Authorities have since banned all but police-approved rallies and overseen a crackdown that has left hundreds of Morsi supporters dead and thousands imprisoned.

Several secular and leftist activists who spearheaded the 2011 uprising against longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak have also been jailed.

Puerto Rico says it will not pay most of $470 million in debt payments due by Monday — third default — critical of inaction by U.S. Congress

May 1, 2016

MAY 1, 2016

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico’s governor says the island’s government will not pay most of $470 million in debt payments due by Monday.

Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla says negotiators for the U.S. territory’s government have failed to reach a last-minute deal to avoid a third default.

The governor said in a speech Sunday that he has issued an executive order to withhold payment for most the amount due.

The government has been negotiating with creditors through the weekend. They managed to reach a deal to postpone some of the payments but Garcia says they cannot go further without threatening basic necessities for people who live in Puerto Rico.

This is the largest default by the territory by far and could shut off access to capital markets.



SAN JUAN/NEW YORK — Puerto Rico’s governor on Sunday said he declared a moratorium on a $422 million debt payment due Monday by the island’s Government Development Bank, the most significant default yet for the U.S. territory facing a massive economic crisis.

Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla said in a televised speech that he signed the moratorium on Saturday in what he characterized as a “painful decision” based on inaction from the U.S. Congress, which continues to debate a legislative fix for Puerto Rico’s $70 billion debt load.

(Reporting By Nick Brown and a contributor in San Juan, Daniel Bases in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Diane Craft)


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,008 other followers