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Xi In The UK, New FIFA Scandal, World’s Longest Baguette

Xi In The UK, New FIFA Scandal, World’s Longest Baguette

XI IN THE UK

Chinese President Xi Jinping will arrive in Britain today for his first state visit to the country, a sign of the current “golden era” between London and Beijing, The Guardian reports. In contrast to Xi’s recent U.S. visit, which was marked by tensions over cyber security, the two countries are expected to establish closer economic ties, with Britain eager to attract Chinese investment, particularly in its nuclear power plants. Xi’s visit, however, comes after news that China registered its slowest growth level in six years during the last quarter â€" 6.9% â€" amid growing speculation that the figures are possibly fake.


VERBATIM

“My brother responded to a crisis, and he did it as you would hope a president would do â€" united the country, he organized the country and he kept us safe,” Republican candidate Jeb Bush said yesterday, in an awkward attempt to defend his brother’s handling of 9/11, which Donald Trump attacked. The two White House hopefuls have been in a war of words over 9/11 and the Iraq War since Friday, with Trump claiming that his stance on immigration would have prevented the World Trade Center attacks. According to Vox, Trump has found Jeb Bush’s greatest weakness.


CANADA VOTES

Canadian voters are called to the polls today in what’s shaping up to be a very tight race, as Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper hopes to secure a fourth term in office, The Globe and Mail reports. But Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, could capitalize on the country’s thirst for change.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

As Gonul Tol writes for Radikal, Turkish President Erdogan was quick to blame U.S. and French leaders after terror attacks struck those countries, but he has failed to take responsibility for allowing the deadly Ankara attacks to occur. “The judiciary, police, intelligence of this country are all busy keeping track of insults made to Erdogan and his family, columns and messages on social media, while murderers roam free in Diyarbakir, Hatay, Ankara, Mersin and Adana, killing the children of Turkey.”

Read the full article, After Ankara: Terrorism, Responsibility And Erdogan’s Short Memory.


VIOLENCE CONTINUES IN ISRAEL

An Israeli soldier was killed and 11 people were wounded in an attack last night in Beersheba, Israel, Haaretz reports. The attacker, a 21-year-old bedouin, was shot and killed. In the aftermath of the violence, a security guard tragically shot an innocent Eritrean asylum seeker who was violently attacked by an angry mob believing he was an accomplice. He later died of his wounds.


ON THIS DAY


British novelist and former intelligence officer John le Carré, best known for The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, turns 84 today. Check out today’s shot of history.


6,000

The number of refugees living in makeshift camps in the infamous “Jungle” in the French city of Calais has doubled in recent weeks to 6,000, Le Figaro reports. According to the region’s authorities, their numbers keep growing as tightened security measures have made it more difficult for them to reach the UK. “I do not know what comes next, but 6,000 is the most we can take,” an official told Reuters.

For more on this, we offer this Le Monde/Worldcrunch piece, The Anonymous Dead Migrants Of Calais.


MERKEL TO BACK TURKEY’S EU BID

Photo: He Canling/Xinhua/ZUMA

German Chancellor Angela Merkel traveled to Turkey over the weekend and pledged to support the country’s bid to join the European Union. She wants to secure the country’s help in managing the influx of refugees to the EU, Deutsche Welle reports. But the crisis inside Europe continues. According to Süddeutsche Zeitung, Slovenian police stopped close to 2,000 migrants who were trying to cross from Croatia to enter the Schengen Area.

  • Croatian authorities had reportedly put them on trains bound for Slovenia, despite the country having established clear limits. “Croatia’s actions are unacceptable,” the Slovenian government said. Slovenia has set a limit of 2,500 asylum seekers per day because Austria, where most of them want to go, will only accept 1,500 daily. Slovenia is now the only route to Europe for migrants stranded in Croatia, after Hungary erected a new fence similar to the one previously created along the border with Serbia, the Budapest Business Journal reports.
  • Meanwhile, Henriette Reker was elected mayor of the German city of Cologne yesterday, one day after being wounded in a knife attack. The assailant, who was later arrested, is said to be a far-right supporter who opposed Reker’s pro-refugees stance. Read more about it on Le Blog here.

BLAIR AGREED TO IRAQ INVASION A YEAR AHEAD

A secret U.S. memo found in Hillary Clinton’s private email server, which is currently under investigation, shows that then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed a full year in advance to participate in the 2003 Iraq invasion, The Daily Telegraph reports. The memo written in April 2002 by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell to President Bush says that “the UK will follow our lead,” which suggests Blair lied to the public when he said that he was seeking a diplomatic solution to Saddam Hussein’s supposed weapons of mass destruction.


SOUTHERN HEMI RULES AT RUGBY WORLD CUP

The rugby world cup might be happening in Britain, but next weekend’s semifinals will be played among Southern Hemisphere nations only for the first time in the history of the competition.


DID GERMANY BUY FIFA 2006 WORLD CUP?

In what could be yet another FIFA corruption scandal, Germany is investigating allegations published in Der Spiegel magazine that the country was chosen to host the 2006 FIFA World Cup after bribing officials.


MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD

WORLD’S LONGEST BAGUETTE

Meet the latest entry in the Guinness World Records: a 400-foot baguette made by French and Italian bakers at the World’s Fair in Milan.

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Paying tribute to the victims of the attack in Kongsberg

Terje Bendiksby/NTB Scanpix/ZUMA
Carl-Johan Karlsson

The bow-and-arrow murder of five people in the small Norwegian city of Kongsberg this week was particularly chilling for the primitive choice of weapon. And police are now saying the attack Wednesday night is likely to be labeled an act of terrorism.

Still, even though the suspect is a Danish-born convert to Islam, police are still determining the motive. Espen Andersen Bråthen, a 37-year-old Danish national, is previously known to the police, both for reports of radicalization, as well as erratic behavior unrelated to religion.

Indeed, it remains unclear whether religious beliefs were behind the killings. In an interview with Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, police attorney Ann Iren Svane Mathiassens said Bråthen has already confessed to the crimes, giving a detailed account of the events during a three-hour interrogation on Thursday, but motives are yet to be determined.

Investigated as terrorism 

Regardless, the murders are likely to be labeled an act of terror – mainly as the victims appear to have been randomly chosen, and were killed both in public places and inside their homes.

Mathiassens also said Bråthen will undergo a comprehensive forensic psychiatric examination, which is also a central aspect of the ongoing investigation, according to a police press conference on Friday afternoon. Bråthen will be held in custody for at least four weeks, two of which will be in isolation, and will according to a police spokesperson be moved to a psychiatric unit as soon as possible.

Witnesses have since described him as unstable and a loner.

Police received reports last year concerning potential radicalization. In 2017, Bråthen published two videos on Youtube, one in English and one in Norwegian, announcing that he's now a Muslim and describing himself as a "messenger." The year prior, he made several visits to the city's only mosque, where he said he'd received a message from above that he wished to share with the world.

Previous criminal history 

In 2012, he was convicted of aggravated theft and drug offenses, and in May last year, a restraining order was issued after Bråthen entered his parents house with a revolver, threatening to kill his father.

The mosque's chairman Oussama Tlili remembers Bråthen's first visit well, as it's rare to meet Scandinavian converts. Still, he didn't believe there was any danger and saw no reason to notify the police. Tlili's impression was rather that the man was unwell mentally, and needed help.

According to a former neighbor, Bråthen often acted erratically. During the two years she lived in the house next to him — only 50 meters from the grocery store where the attacks began — the man several times barked at her like a dog, threw trash in the streets to then pick it up, and spouted racist comments to her friend. Several other witnesses have since described him as unstable and a loner.

The man used a bow and arrow to carry the attack

Haykon Mosvold Larsen/NTB Scanpix/ZUMA

Police criticized

Norway, with one of the world's lowest crime rates, is still shaken from the attack — and also questioning what allowed the killer to hunt down and kill even after police were on the scene.

The first reports came around 6 p.m. on Wednesday that a man armed with bow and arrow was shooting inside a grocery store. Only minutes after, the police spotted the suspect; he fired several times against the patrol and then disappeared while reinforcements arrived.

The attack has also fueled a long-existing debate over whether Norwegian police should carry firearms

In the more than 30 minutes that followed before the arrest, four women and one man were killed by arrows and two other weapons — though police have yet to disclose the other arms, daily Aftenposten reports. The sleepy city's 27,000 inhabitants are left wondering how the man managed to evade a full 22 police patrols, and why reports of his radicalization weren't taken more seriously.

With five people killed and three more injured, Wednesday's killing spree is the worst attack in Norway since far-right extremist Anders Breivik massacred 77 people on the island of Utøya a decade ago.

Unarmed cops

As questions mount over the police response to the attack, with reports suggesting all five people died after law enforcement made first contact with the suspect, local police have said it's willing to submit the information needed to the Bureau of Investigation to start a probe into their conduct. Police confirmed they had fired warning shots in connection to the arrest which, under Norwegian law, often already provides a basis for an assessment.

Wednesday's bloodbath has also fueled a long-existing debate over whether Norwegian police should carry firearms — the small country being one of only 19 globally where law enforcement officers are typically unarmed, though may have access to guns and rifles in certain circumstances.

Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism expert and professor at the Swedish Defence University, noted that police in similar neighboring countries like Sweden and Denmark carry firearms. "I struggle to understand why Norwegian police are not armed all the time," Ranstorp told Norwegian daily VG. "The lesson from Utøya is that the police must react quickly and directly respond to a perpetrator during a life-threatening incident."

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