Macron urges tough EU stance against Turkish ‘provocations’

Macron urges tough EU stance against Turkish ‘provocations’
French president Emmanuel Macron gestures during a visit in Bonifacio, on the island of Corsica, on September 10, 2020. The French president is on a two day official trip to Corsica to attend the 7th MED7 Mediterranean countries summit held in Porticcio, near Ajaccio, on September 10, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 11 September 2020

Macron urges tough EU stance against Turkish ‘provocations’

Macron urges tough EU stance against Turkish ‘provocations’
  • EU leaders of countries that border the Mediterranean Sea were holding an emergency summit in Corsica amid fears of an open conflict with Turkey

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron urged fellow European leaders Thursday to stand up to the Turkish government and what he called “unacceptable” provocations as Turkey seeks to expand its energy resources and influence in the eastern Mediterranean.
Leaders of European Union countries that border the Mediterranean Sea were holding an emergency summit in Corsica amid fears of an open conflict with Turkey stemming from mounting tensions over offshore oil and gas drilling. Turkish leaders have lashed out at France and the EU for siding with Greece and Cyprus in the dispute.
“Turkey is no longer a partner in this region,” Macron told reporters ahead of the island summit. “We Europeans need to be clear and firm” with the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about its “inadmissible behavior,” he said.
Macron didn’t elaborate on what specific actions he wants European countries to take, but said they should lay out “red lines” with Turkey and try to restart dialogue.
“We Mediterraneans need to live in peace,” the French leader said.
“Our goal is to avoid all escalation, but avoiding escalation should not mean passiveness or acceptance,” he added. “It is up to Turkey to clarify its intentions.”
Greece and Turkey have deployed naval and air forces to assert competing claims over energy exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkish survey vessels and drill ships continue to prospect for gas in waters where Greece and Cyprus claim exclusive economic rights.
France is carrying out military patrols in the region in a show of support for Greece and Cyprus, and the EU is mulling new sanctions against Turkey.
Separate from the diplomatic discussions, Turkish and Greek military officials met Thursday at NATO headquarters, as part of ongoing meetings aimed at reducing the risk of armed conflict. Greece and Turkey both are NATO members.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry characterized Macron’s statement as “arrogant” and in line with the “old colonial reflexes.” It accused the French president of stoking tensions and putting the “greater interests” of Europe at risk.
“It is not for Macron to determine the maritime jurisdiction of any country in the Mediterranean or any other geography,” the Turkish ministry said in a statement.
The spokesman for Turkey’s ruling party criticized Macron’s “threatening language.”
“We have trouble with colonial minds like yours, Mr. Macron,” Justice and Development Party spokesman Omer Celik said on Twitter.
Speaking Thursday to EU lawmakers, Greek European Affairs Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis appealed for support from European partners, saying the tensions over energy rights “constitute by themselves a grave threat to our common security architecture.”
He said that Turkey is looking beyond Greece and is “a major destabilizing factor in the wider area,” citing Turkish government actions in Libya, Syria and beyond.
He said that Greece would not provoke conflict but wouldn’t just sit back waiting for European help to arrive: “At the end of the day, we will defend ourselves, even alone.”
At the Corsica summit, France wants the European leaders to push for resuming German mediation in the eastern Mediterranean dispute. Russia also offered this week to mediate.
The leaders also plan to discuss EU and NATO operations in the Mediterranean and their relation to Turkey.
But the other countries at the Corsica summit have different priorities. Italy, Spain and Malta are notably more concerned about migrant boats arriving from North Africa to their shores. Portugal. meanwhile, has little stake in the tensions around the eastern Mediterranean.
France and Greece hope the seven countries can come up with a united southern European front ahead of a full EU summit later this month focused on the bloc’s strategy toward Turkey.
EU Council President Charles Michel will travel to Greece, Cyprus and Malta next week for talks with leaders.


Spotify launches Greenroom, which allows users to join live discussions or to host their own

Spotify launches Greenroom, which allows users to join live discussions or to host their own
Updated 5 min 13 sec ago

Spotify launches Greenroom, which allows users to join live discussions or to host their own

Spotify launches Greenroom, which allows users to join live discussions or to host their own
  • Greenroom is the Swedish online music streaming giant’s answer to the popular platform Clubhouse

NEW YORK: Spotify on Wednesday launched a live audio app called Greenroom, the Swedish online music streaming giant’s answer to the popular platform Clubhouse.
Greenroom allows users to join live discussions or to host their own.
Spotify launched Greenroom after acquiring Betty Labs, the company behind the popular sports-focused audio platform Locker Room.
Along with podcasts, social audio has taken off over the past year with the San Francisco-based Clubhouse leading the way.
Since December, Clubhouse has been downloaded over 18 million times, according to the site AppMagic.
Other tech giants have also jumped into the live audio sector with Twitter launching Spaces in December and Facebook hosting Live Audio Rooms.
Questions remain, however, over the ability of the various platforms to monetize their content.
They will also have to compete with Discord, which has been offering live audio since 2015 and has more than 140 million users although it has been more focused on video game players.
Spotify has the advantage of already being an audio platform through its focus on music and, more recently, podcasts.


Chinese apps could face subpoenas or bans under Biden order

Chinese apps could face subpoenas or bans under Biden order
Updated 16 min 38 sec ago

Chinese apps could face subpoenas or bans under Biden order

Chinese apps could face subpoenas or bans under Biden order
  • US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo will decide which apps to target for US action
  • Apps linked to other adversaries such as Iran or Venezuela are already blocked under broader sanctions

President Joe Biden’s executive order aimed at safeguarding Americans’ sensitive data would force some Chinese apps to take tougher measures to protect private information if they want to remain in the US market, according to people familiar with the matter.
The goal is to keep foreign adversaries like China and Russia from gaining access to large amounts of personal and proprietary business information.
The US Department of Commerce may issue subpoenas to collect information about certain smartphone, tablet and desktop computer software applications. Then the agency may negotiate conditions for their use in the United States or ban the apps, according to people familiar with the matter.
Biden’s June 9 order replaced former President Donald Trump’s 2020 bans against the popular Chinese applications WeChat, owned by Tencent Holdings Co, and ByteDance Ltd’s TikTok. US courts halted those bans.
US officials share many of the concerns Trump cited in his order banning TikTok, according to one person familiar with the matter. Notably, they fear that China could track the locations of US government employees, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail and conduct corporate espionage.
While the new order does not name companies, it could end up capturing more apps than the Trump bans and hold up better if challenged in court. Reuters is the first to report details on how the Biden administration plans to implement the order, including seeking support from other countries.
US officials have begun speaking with allies about adopting a similar approach, one source said. The hope is that partner countries will agree on apps that should be banned.
US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo will decide which apps to target for US action, but they must meet certain criteria. For instance, they must be owned, controlled or managed by a person or entity that supports the military or intelligence activities of a foreign adversary such as China or Russia.

WeChat, TikTok may be reviewed
If Raimondo decides an app poses an unacceptable risk, she “has the discretion to notify the parties” directly or publish the information in the government’s official daily publication, the Federal Register, a Commerce Department spokesman said.
Companies will then have 30 days to object or propose measures to secure data better, the Commerce spokesman said.
The process stems from a May 2019 Trump executive order for reviewing information and communications technology from foreign adversaries.
Apps from China are most likely to find themselves in the Commerce Department’s crosshairs given escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing, the Chinese government’s ability to exert control over companies and the number of Chinese apps used by Americans.
WeChat, TikTok and eight other apps targeted by the Trump administration in its last months are eligible for review by Biden’s team, one source said.
The Trump targets also included Ant Group’s Alipay mobile payment app, WeChat Pay, Tencent Holdings Ltd’s QQ Wallet, Tencent QQ, CamScanner, SHAREit, VMate published by Alibaba Group subsidiary UCWeb and Beijing Kingsoft Office Software’s WPS Office.
Some of the apps named by Trump have serious data protection issues, while it’s unclear why others pose a heightened risk to national security, according to another person familiar with the matter.
The order will apply to business apps, including those used in banking and telecommunications, as well as consumer apps, the first source said.
Apps linked to other adversaries such as Iran or Venezuela are already blocked under broader sanctions. 


Iranians nonchalant as regime opens poll

Iranians nonchalant as regime opens poll
Updated 18 June 2021

Iranians nonchalant as regime opens poll

Iranians nonchalant as regime opens poll
  • Khamenei’s ally Raisi likely to succeed succeed the pragmatist incumbent Hassan Rouhani

JEDDAH: Iranians vote on Friday in a race that is seen by the regime’s critics as not democratic, fair, or free by any means.

The election, tightly managed by the nation’s top authorities, is likely to hand the presidency to a judge sanctioned by Washington for alleged involvement in executions of political prisoners.

Hard-liner Ebrahim Raisi, an ally and protege of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is the favorite to succeed the pragmatist incumbent Hassan Rouhani.

“The regime will attempt to project that it enjoys legitimacy during this election. Government employees will be instructed to go to the ballots in order to show the popularity of the regime, while the authorities may manipulate the statistics in order to show a high voter turnout,” Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist, writes in Opinion.

Khamenei on Wednesday urged Iranians to turn out and vote, but a record number of people are expected to boycott the polls due to anger over worsening economic hardship and frustration with hard-line rule.

Another potential deterrent for voters is a hard-line vetting body’s disqualification of hundreds of would-be candidates, including many advocating more freedoms.

For an overwhelmingly young population chafing at political restrictions, the lack of choice at the ballot box means a vote serves little purpose, analysts of Iranian politics say.

Soraya, a student at Tehran University, told Arab News: “The government is telling people to vote. But I see voting as an insult. We are not going to vote in order to show the world that we Iranians are frustrated with this clerical establishment.

“We are not with a government that shoots down a passenger plane (Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, which was downed by the IRGC in January 2020), lies repeatedly, and kills and tortures its own citizens.

“We are not with a government that steals the nation’s natural resources and spends it on its militias. The old game of moderate or hard-liner is over. They are all the same.”

Within Iran’s mix of clerical rulers and elected officials, Khamenei has the final say on all state matters, including nuclear and foreign policies. But the elected president will be in charge of tackling an economy hammered by US sanctions.

Over 50 percent of Iran’s 85 million population has been pushed under the poverty line since 2018 when then US President Donald Trump ditched a 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed nuclear-related sanctions that have squeezed Tehran’s oil income.

Aware of its vulnerability to anger over the economy, the leadership fears a revival of street protests that have erupted since 2017, in which protesters called for “regime change.”


Depay and Dumfries send Netherlands into Euro 2020 knockouts

Depay and Dumfries send Netherlands into Euro 2020 knockouts
Updated 25 min ago

Depay and Dumfries send Netherlands into Euro 2020 knockouts

Depay and Dumfries send Netherlands into Euro 2020 knockouts

AMSTERDAM: The Netherlands are through to the last 16 at Euro 2020 after Memphis Depay’s penalty set up a 2-0 win over Austria on Thursday, their second straight victory securing top spot in Group C as coach Frank de Boer declared there is much more to come from his side.
Depay made no mistake from the spot in the 11th minute in Amsterdam after David Alaba’s foul on Denzel Dumfries was spotted by the Israeli referee only after he came across to review the images.
Dumfries, so impressive in the thrilling opening 3-2 win over Ukraine, added another midway through the second half, his second goal of the tournament.
The Dutch were comfortable at home in the Johan Cruyff Arena and De Boer’s side are so far making a success of their first major tournament since the 2014 World Cup.
That is great news for De Boer, whose predecessor as national coach, Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman, was among the spectators.
“I know we can beat anybody when we are at our best but I think other teams are thinking the same so let’s go game by game and see where that takes us,” De Boer said.
The Dutch now cannot be caught at the top of the group after Ukraine beat North Macedonia earlier in Bucharest, with the Balkan outsiders already eliminated.
That means De Boer can rest players for the final group game against North Macedonia, safe in the knowledge that the Dutch will go to Budapest for a last-16 tie on June 27 against a third-place finisher.
“We need to decide how to prepare for the next game, whether to keep working on the system and improve that or give some players extra time off,” De Boer added.
He had said coming into the Euro that the 1988 champions were “between the fourth and eighth-best team” and already they can see their path opening up to the quarter-finals.
They will still need to improve if they are to go further, but they appear to be finding their feet in the 3-5-2 system that De Boer has controversially opted for.
Austria, after all, are a mediocre side and were not helped by the penalty given away by Alaba, their captain.
Franco Foda’s side were also handicapped by the absence of Marko Arnautovic, suspended for insulting an opponent after coming off the bench and scoring against North Macedonia.
Foda had said he was in line to start here.
Austria can nevertheless still qualify with a game against Ukraine to come.
“We knew we couldn’t completely stop the Dutch,” said Alaba.
“I am proud of the team. We will go to Bucharest to try to beat Ukraine and stay in the tournament.”
If the Dutch King and Queen were present at their first match, this time FIFA president Gianni Infantino was in the stands, as well as Koeman.
Depay, out of contract at Lyon, hinted before this game that he is set to team up with Koeman in Barcelona.
The ex-Manchester United man believes he is good enough to play for a club of Barcelona’s stature, and he confidently stroked home the early spot-kick awarded following a VAR review for Alaba’s foul on Dumfries.
He then missed a sitter before half-time, failing to hit the target after Wout Weghorst teed him up.
It was from a Depay corner that Weghorst nodded down for Stefan de Vrij to see his effort from point-blank range saved by Austria goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann on the hour.
De Boer then made a triple change, including sending on PSV Eindhoven forward Donyell Malen for Weghorst.
And midway through the second half Depay released Malen to run through and square for Dumfries, one of the stars of the tournament so far, to score.
Koeman will also have been impressed with another assured display by Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong in midfield, while Matthijs de Ligt cruised through the game in defense on his return from injury.


What We Are Eating Today: Carnivore kitchen

What We Are Eating Today: Carnivore kitchen
Updated 18 June 2021

What We Are Eating Today: Carnivore kitchen

What We Are Eating Today: Carnivore kitchen

Carnivore Kitchen is a Saudi local brand specializing in smoked food.

The business was originally established as a home venture by friends Sari Al-Harbi and Elyassin Al-Bukhari but has grown in line with its popularity among meat eaters.

Offering smoked meats, vegetables, and nuts with a Saudi twist, customers can pick from a range of cuts including chicken, full lamb with vegetables, and smoked najel fish.

Equipment capable of smoking up to 200 kilograms of meat per week produces tender and moist brisket that has been cooked for more than 18 hours, and the company’s lamb products are made over 12 hours using the same seasonings and smoking techniques as for American brisket. For more information, check Instagram @carnivore.k