Nov 16 2015

Six In The Morning Monday November 16

Paris attacks: French police launch raids as military strikes Isis in Syria

Counter-terrorism raids are carried out at four locations in France as jets bomb Isis sites in the group’s stronghold of Raqqa

France’s response to the Paris terror attacks gained pace on Monday with counter-terrorism raids arrests across the country and “massive” airstrikes launched on Islamic State targets in Syria.

Tactical police units led raids in four locations in southern and northern France early on Monday, reportedly arresting at least nine people and seizing weapons from homes.

The raids, conducted as part of the country’s state of emergency, coincided with airstrikes on Isis targets late on Sunday in which French aircraft dropped 20 bombs across the group’s northern Syrian stronghold of Raqqa.

The French response came amid reports that a key suspect in the Paris attack was let go in the first frantic hours after the attacks on Friday night which killed 129 people and injured more than 350.


Robert Fisk: ‘We remain blindfolded about Isis’ says the man who should know

Brian Keenan was held by Shia Muslims loyal to Hezbollah in Lebanon



With atrocities in Sinai, Beirut and Paris (and let’s keep the order in sequence here, since all those lost innocents, Russian, Lebanese and French, are equal as our brothers and sisters), I was beginning to think that our emotions were becoming as insane as the perpetrators of these crimes. An “act of war”, a response “without mercy” – the French response was straight out of the Isis vocabulary.

So immediately after the Paris massacres, I sought for reason, clarity and wisdom from a man who spent four and a half years in the hands of Muslim kidnappers – 54 months wearing a blindfold, always waiting for death.

Brian Keenan was held by Shia Muslims loyal to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Had he been taken by Isis in Syria or Iraq, we would by now have been able to watch his beheading on video – yet he kept his sanity to write the only literary work to emerge from a Western kidnap victim of Beirut in the 1980s, An Evil Cradling, a book that will live for a hundred years as a monument to humanity amid suffering.

16 November 2015 – 08H45

Cambodian police ‘will arrest’ opposition chief on his return

Cambodian police vowed to arrest opposition leader Sam Rainsy if he returns to the kingdom as planned on Monday night, in a move condemned as a political attack by the country’s strongman prime minister on his main rival.

A court issued an arrest warrant for Rainsy last week over an unserved two-year sentence for defamation, a day after Hun Sen threatened him with a separate legal action for comments urging the premier to move towards a peaceful exit from office.

Hun Sen — who has ruled Cambodia for more than three decades — is frequently accused of influencing the courts to tie-up his opponents, a tactic used several times since a 2013 election that Rainsy says was rigged by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

Rainsy, who is currently visiting South Korea, was sentenced in 2011 for accusing the foreign minister of being a former member of the brutal Khmer Rouge, which ruled Cambodia from 1975-1979.


How walls can divide neighborhoods within cities

In Belfast, the ‘Peace Walls’ that began as a stopgap measure to prevent clashes between Catholics and Protestants are becoming a permanent presence.


Walls can divide cities as well as countries. While the Berlin Wall marked a geopolitical fault line, the “Peace Walls” of Belfast, Northern Ireland, had a simpler goal: to separate Catholics and Protestants during the uprising against British rule that began in the late 1960s. The British Army began erecting iron fences and brick walls to stop sectarian rioting. Today nearly 100 such barriers remain.

In 1998, Northern Ireland reached a peace agreement. Yet the number of walls and fences in Belfast has since increased. Calls to dismantle them have been largely rebuffed by communities that voice fears of crime and disorder as well as sectarian rivalry. What began as stopgap measures have become a permanent presence in the city of 281,000.

Along one wall on the Shankill Road, murals reflect partisan loyalties: “Freedom fighters” on the Catholic side, Unionist paramilitaries on the other. Foreign visitors arrive by taxi to take photos of the iconic wall.


Hibakusha: Breaking down a wall of discrimination to help Korean A-bomb survivors

For 79-year-old Keisaburo Toyonaga, this year, the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was a moving year.

Toyonaga, a resident of Hiroshima’s Aki Ward, has spent the last 44 years supporting Korean survivors of the bombings, or hibakusha, and on Sept. 8 this year, Japan’s Supreme Court in Tokyo handed down a ruling paving the way for full coverage of the medical costs of about 4,280 hibakusha living overseas.

In principle, holders of hibakusha health handbooks in Japan don’t have to pay medical fees. For hibakusha living overseas, however, there is an upper limit on the subsidies they can receive. This means differences arise in the amount people pay depending on the medical systems in the countries where they reside. The top court’s ruling signaled success for Toyonaga’s activities, in which he had asked for equal support for hibakusha living in Japan and abroad.


Society ‘to be hit by climate change’

Human societies will soon start to experience adverse effects from manmade climate change, a prominent economist has warned.

Prof Richard Tol predicts the downsides of warming will outweigh the advantages with a global warming of 1.1C – which has nearly been reached already.

Prof Tol is regarded by many campaigners as a climate “sceptic”.

He has previously highlighted the positive effects of CO2 in fertilising crops and forests.

His work is widely cited by climate contrarians.

“Most people would argue that slight warming is probably beneficial for human welfare on net, if you measure it in dollars, but more pronounced warming is probably a net negative,” Prof Tol told the BBC Radio 4 series Changing Climate.

Asked whether societies were at the point where the benefits start to be outweighed by consequences, he replied: “Yes. In academic circles, this is actually an uncontroversial finding.”

But it is controversial for climate contrarians, who often cite Professor Tol’s work to suggest that we shouldn’t worry about warming.