Greek frigate departs to join EU Red Sea mission

The Greek frigate 'Hydra' sails to take part in the EU naval mission in the Red Sea, at Salamina naval base, Greece, February 26, 2024. (REUTERS)
The Greek frigate 'Hydra' sails to take part in the EU naval mission in the Red Sea, at Salamina naval base, Greece, February 26, 2024. (REUTERS)
Short Url
Updated 27 February 2024
Follow

Greek frigate departs to join EU Red Sea mission

Greek frigate departs to join EU Red Sea mission
  • Many commercial shippers have diverted vessels following attacks by the Houthis who control much of Yemen and say they are acting in solidarity with the Palestinians as Israel and Hamas wage war in Gaza

ATHENS: Greece’s frigate Hydra departed for the Red Sea on Monday to participate in a mission to protect merchant ships from attacks by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia, a defense ministry official said.
Earlier on Monday, the Greek government approved the country’s participation in the European Union naval mission dubbed Eunavfor Aspides in the Red Sea.
Many commercial shippers have diverted vessels following attacks by the Houthis who control much of Yemen and say they are acting in solidarity with the Palestinians as Israel and Hamas wage war in Gaza.
Greece’s security council approved a proposal by Defense Minister Nikos Dendias for participation in the EU mission, government spokesman Pavlos Marinakis said in a statement.
The government said it was important to join the mission as the Houthi attacks have disrupted Greek-owned commercial vessels’ activities at the country’s biggest port Piraeus and some container ships have stopped using it.
France, Italy and Germany are also taking part in the EU mission, under the code name “Aspides,” the Greek word for shields.
Participating countries will be mandated to protect commercial ships and intercept attacks, but not take part in strikes against the Houthis on land.
Several Greek-owned merchant ships have been hit off Yemen since November, suffering damages but no casualties.

 


Biden is off on details of his uncle’s WWII death as he calls Trump unfit to lead the military

Biden is off on details of his uncle’s WWII death as he calls Trump unfit to lead the military
Updated 8 sec ago
Follow

Biden is off on details of his uncle’s WWII death as he calls Trump unfit to lead the military

Biden is off on details of his uncle’s WWII death as he calls Trump unfit to lead the military
  • The US government’s record of missing service members does not attribute Finnegan’s death to hostile action or indicate cannibals were any factor

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden on Wednesday misstated key details about his uncle’s death in World War II as he honored the man’s wartime service and said Donald Trump was unworthy of serving as commander in chief.
While in Pittsburgh, Biden spoke about his uncle, 2nd Lt. Ambrose J. Finnegan Jr., aiming to draw a contrast with reports that Trump, while president, had called fallen service members “suckers” and “losers.”
Finnegan, the brother of Biden’s mother, “got shot down in New Guinea,” Biden said. The president said Finnegan’s body was never recovered and “there used to be a lot of cannibals” in the area. Biden, who also relayed a version of the story earlier in the day after stopping by the memorial in Scranton, was off on the particulars.
The US government’s record of missing service members does not attribute Finnegan’s death to hostile action or indicate cannibals were any factor.
“We have a tradition in my family my grandfather started,” said Biden, a toddler at the time of his uncle’s death in 1944. “When you visit a gravesite of a family member — it’s going to sound strange to you — but you say three Hail Marys. And that’s what I was doing at the site.”
Referring to Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, Biden said, “That man doesn’t deserve to have been the commander in chief for my son, my uncle.”
Biden’s elder son, Beau, died in 2015 of brain cancer, which the president has stated he believes was linked to his son’s yearlong deployment in Iraq, where the military used burn pits to dispose of waste.
Some former Trump officials have claimed the then-president disparaged fallen service members as “suckers” and “losers” when, they said, he did not want to travel in 2018 to a cemetery for American war dead in France. Trump denied the allegation, saying, “What animal would say such a thing?”
According to the Pentagon’s Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, Biden’s uncle, known by the family as “Bosie,” died on May 14, 1944, while a passenger on an Army Air Forces plane that, “for unknown reasons,” was forced to ditch in the Pacific Ocean off the northern coast of New Guinea. “Both engines failed at low altitude, and the aircraft’s nose hit the water hard,” the agency states in its listing of Finnegan. “Three men failed to emerge from the sinking wreck and were lost in the crash.”
The agency said Finnegan was a passenger on the plane when it was lost. “He has not been associated with any remains recovered from the area after the war and is still unaccounted-for,” according to the agency.
White House spokesman Andrew Bates did not address the discrepancy between the agency’s records and Biden’s account when he issued a statement on the matter.
“President Biden is proud of his uncle’s service in uniform,” Bates said, adding Finnegan ”lost his life when the military aircraft he was on crashed in the Pacific after taking off near New Guinea.”
Biden “highlighted his uncle’s story as he made the case for honoring our ‘sacred commitment ... to equip those we send to war and take care of them and their families when they come home,’ and as he reiterated that the last thing American veterans are is ‘suckers’ or ‘losers.’”
The Democratic president also misstated when uncles enlisted in the military, saying they joined “when D-Day occurred, the next day,” in June 1944, when they actually joined weeks after the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor.
After Finnegan’s death, a local newspaper published a telegram from Gen. Douglas MacArthur expressing condolences to Finnegan’s family:
“Dear Mr. Finnegan: In the death of your son, Second Lt. Ambrose J. Finnegan Jr., while in service of his country, you have my profound sympathy. Your consolation may be that he died in the uniform of our beloved country, serving in a crusade from which a better world for all will come. Very faithfully, Douglas MacArthur.”
Biden, in his 2008 book “Promises to Keep,” made only brief mention of his uncle, describing him as flyer who was killed in New Guinea.


Russian missile barrage on Ukraine city kills 17

Russian missile barrage on Ukraine city kills 17
Updated 42 min 7 sec ago
Follow

Russian missile barrage on Ukraine city kills 17

Russian missile barrage on Ukraine city kills 17
  • The official death toll grew to 17 during the day, while emergency services said 60 people — including three children — had been wounded

CHERNIGIV, Ukraine: Three Russian missiles crashed into Ukraine’s historic city of Chernigiv on Wednesday, killing 17 people as officials pleaded for more air defense systems from allies.
Pools of blood gathered on the street at the scene of one strike, where rescuers searched for survivors in the rubble and carried away the wounded on stretchers, official images showed.
As President Volodymyr Zelensky appealed for more help from Western allies, the US House of Representatives finally announced a vote on a massive new military aid package that includes some $61 billion in long-delayed support for Kyiv, a move welcomed by President John Biden.
In Chernigiv, resident Olga Samoilenko told AFP how she ducked with her children into the corridor of their apartment building for protection when the first missile exploded.
“Our neighbors were already there. We started shouting for everyone to fall to the floor. They did. There were two more explosions. Then we ran to the parking lot,” the 33-year-old said.
The official death toll grew to 17 during the day, while emergency services said 60 people — including three children — had been wounded.
Mayor Oleksandr Lomako said more than a dozen buildings had been damaged in the attack while other officials said dozens of vehicles and medical and educational facilities were also damaged.
A 25-year-old policewoman on sick leave was among those killed after suffering a severe shrapnel injury, the interior minister announced.
AFP journalists at the scene saw a body being pulled from the rubble and an eight-story hotel building gutted by the strike where municipal workers were using a crane to clear debris.
Nearby apartments, a beauty salon and beer shop were among structures whose windows were blown out by the attack.
The Chernigiv region, which borders Belarus to the north, was partially occupied at the beginning of the Russian invasion but has been spared fighting for around two years since Russian forces retreated.
Zelensky blamed Russia for the attack but also said the West should do more to help defend Ukraine’s skies.
“This would not have happened if Ukraine had received sufficient air defense equipment and if the world’s determination to resist Russian terror had been sufficient,” he said.
Addressing the European Council by video link later Wednesday, Zelensky said Ukraine should enjoy the same cover from aerial attacks as Israel and pleaded for more air defense systems.
“Here in Ukraine, in our part of Europe, unfortunately, we don’t have the level of defense that we saw recently in the Middle East,” Zelensky said, according to a statement on his web site.
Zelensky was referring to the interception of Iran’s drone and missile barrage on Israel last Saturday.
“Our Ukrainian sky, the sky of our neighbors deserves the same level of defense.”
The Ukrainian president added: “All lives are equally valuable.”
In Washington, Biden applauded the planned vote in Congress on the massive new Ukraine aid package, scheduled for Saturday after months of political wrangling, and called on American lawmakers to pass it.
“I will sign this into law immediately to send a message to the world: ‘We stand with our friends, and we won’t let Iran or Russia succeed’,” he said in a White House statement.
Chernigiv lies some 145 kilometers (90 miles) north of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and had a pre-war population of around 285,000 people.
The city was badly damaged when Russian tanks swept into Ukraine from Belarusian territory in February 2022 and besieged the city until April that year.


EU leaders back new Iran sanctions after attack on Israel

EU leaders back new Iran sanctions after attack on Israel
Updated 18 April 2024
Follow

EU leaders back new Iran sanctions after attack on Israel

EU leaders back new Iran sanctions after attack on Israel
  • EU leaders condemned the Iranian attack, reaffirmed their commitment to Israel’s security

BRUSSELS: European Union leaders decided on Wednesday to step up sanctions against Iran after Tehran’s missile and drone attack on Israel left world powers scrambling to prevent a wider conflict in the Middle East.
The summit in Brussels is the first meeting of the EU’s 27 national leaders since Saturday’s attack, more than six months into the war between Israel and the Iran-backed Palestinian militant group Hamas.
Israel has signalled that it will retaliate but has not said how. EU leaders condemned the Iranian attack, reaffirmed their commitment to Israel’s security and called on all sides to prevent more tensions, including in Lebanon.
“The European Union will take further restrictive measures against Iran, notably in relation to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and missiles,” the leaders said in a joint statement.


Italy PM Meloni visits Tunisia for migration talks

Italy PM Meloni visits Tunisia for migration talks
Updated 17 April 2024
Follow

Italy PM Meloni visits Tunisia for migration talks

Italy PM Meloni visits Tunisia for migration talks
  • Tunisia is a major transit point for thousands of sub-Saharan migrants hoping to reach Europe every year

TUNIS: Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni met with officials in Tunis Wednesday to discuss what she called a “new approach” to irregular migration and economic cooperation with Tunisia.
The hard-right leader’s visit, the fourth in less than a year to the north African country, came as her government pledged to curb irregular migrant arrivals in Italy.
Meloni met with President Kais Saied, who said after the meeting Tunisia must not become “a country of transit or settlement” for migrants from other African countries, according to a statement from his office.
In a video address released after her discussions with Saied, Meloni also said “Tunisia cannot be a country of arrival for migrants” from the rest of Africa.
She vowed to “involve international organizations to work on repatriations” of migrants while insisting on more European investment in African nations.
Ahead of the visit, an Italian official had told AFP that “cooperation on migration remains a central aspect of the relationship between Italy and Tunisia.”
“It remains essential that Tunisian authorities continue their action to combat human trafficking and contain illegal departures,” the official added.
Meloni’s latest visit to Tunisia came as part of her so-called Mattei Plan, a program aiming to posit Italy as a key bridge between Africa and Europe.
She said the fight against irregular migration required development for African countries and investments.
“Italy will continue to try to advance this new approach which it is promoting at a European level,” she said.
But critics say the plan would funnel energy north while exchanging investment in the south for deals aimed at curbing migration.
Three agreements were signed Wednesday: a 50-million-euro ($53-million) aid for energy projects, credit for small- and medium-sized businesses, and a university cooperation agreement.
Meloni also said Italy would encourage regular migration by granting 12,000 residence permits to Tunisians trained in specific fields.
Tunisia is a major transit point for thousands of sub-Saharan migrants hoping to reach Europe every year, with Italy as a frontline for their arrivals.
Almost 70,000 migrants were intercepted trying to cross the Mediterranean from Tunisia to Italy last year, according to Tunisian authorities.
Meloni visited Tunisia three times over the summer of 2023, twice with the European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.
The visits resulted in the European Union’s signing of an agreement in July to provide financial aid to debt-ridden Tunisia in return for its commitment to curb migrant departures.
The agreement provided 105 million euros to curb irregular migration — which the EU has started paying — added to 150 million euros in budgetary support.
European Parliament lawmakers criticized the agreement, citing a deterioration of human rights and freedoms in the north African country.
They also criticized Saied’s increasing authoritarian rule after his sweeping power grab in 2021.
Last month, the EU signed a similar deal with Egypt worth 7.4 billion euros on energy and migration.


Google employees arrested after protesting against $1bn contract with Israel

Google employees arrested after protesting against $1bn contract with Israel
Updated 17 April 2024
Follow

Google employees arrested after protesting against $1bn contract with Israel

Google employees arrested after protesting against $1bn contract with Israel
  • 'Google workers do not want their labor to power Israel’s genocide of Palestinians in Gaza,' No Tech For Apartheid group said

LONDON: Several Google employees were arrested on Tuesday for taking part in a 10-hour sit-in at the company’s offices in New York and California.

The protest, organized by members of the No Tech For Apartheid movement, was meant as a challenge to the tech giant’s involvement with the Israeli government. It centered on a $1 billion cloud computing contract between Google, Amazon and the Israeli government and military, known as Project Nimbus.

The project involves creating a secure Google cloud setup in Israel to facilitate data analysis, AI training and other computing services, Time magazine reported.

According to leaked documents reported by American news organization Intercept in 2022, the project includes advanced features like AI-enabled facial detection and automated image categorization.

During the sit-in, a livestreamed video captured a security worker telling protesters at Google’s California office that they were on administrative leave and cautioned them about trespassing.

Social media videos showed police removing nine protesters from the premises. Similar actions were recorded at the company’s New York office.

A statement from the No Tech For Apartheid group said: “Google workers do not want their labor to power Israel’s genocide of Palestinians in Gaza. The time is now to rise up against Project Nimbus, in support of Palestinian liberation and join calls to end the Israeli occupation.”

Last month, a Google employee from the group interrupted a talk by the company’s Israel chief, accusing the company of “powering genocide.” He was later fired.

A Google spokesman told the Telegraph: “These protests were part of a longstanding campaign by a group of organizations and people who largely don’t work at Google. A small number of employee protesters entered and disrupted a couple of our locations.

“Physically impeding other employees’ work and preventing them from accessing our facilities is a clear violation of our policies and we will investigate and take action.

“These employees were put on administrative leave and their access to our systems was cut. After refusing multiple requests to leave the premises, law enforcement was engaged to remove them to ensure office safety.”