Germany holds 2 over military base attack plot for Russia

Germany holds 2 over military base attack plot for Russia
Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said “The suspicion that Putin is recruiting agents from us to carry out attacks on German soil is extremely serious. We will not allow Putin to bring his terror to Germany”. (AFP/File)
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Updated 18 April 2024
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Germany holds 2 over military base attack plot for Russia

Germany holds 2 over military base attack plot for Russia
  • NATO working on more air defenses for Ukraine, Stoltenberg says

BERLIN: Two German Russian nationals have been arrested in Germany on suspicion of plotting sabotage attacks, including on US military facilities, in what officials called a serious effort to undermine military support for Ukraine.

Authorities have searched the homes and workplaces of the two suspects who stand accused of working for a foreign secret service. One of them, identified as Dieter S., had since October 2023 discussed possible plots with a person linked to the Russian secret service, prosecutors said on Thursday.

Germany has become one of Kyiv’s biggest suppliers of military aid since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, and is a major target for Russian spying operations, authorities have said.

“The suspicion that Putin is recruiting agents from us to carry out attacks on German soil is extremely serious. We will not allow Putin to bring his terror to Germany,” Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said.

Germany summoned the Russian ambassador over the arrests. Earlier, the Kremlin said it had no information about the issue.

Dieter S. had been prepared to carry out bomb and arson attacks on military facilities, including those operated by US forces, prosecutors said, adding that he took photos and videos of military transport and equipment.

A second person, Alexander J., began helping him from March at the latest, prosecutors said.

According to Spiegel magazine, the facilities included the Grafenwoehr army base in the southern state of Bavaria where Ukrainian soldiers receive training to use US Abrams tanks.

US, allied and partner training missions at Grafenwoehr, including the training of Ukrainians, continue, a US military spokesperson said, but referred inquiries about the arrests to the German authorities.

The prosecutors suspect Dieter S., whose last name has not been disclosed due to German privacy laws, was a fighter for Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine from December 2014 to September 2016 in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.

He was in possession of a firearm, prosecutors said.

In a separate case, prosecutors last month charged an officer in Germany’s military procurement agency with attempting to pass secret information to Russian intelligence. News of Thursday’s arrests coincided with a surprise trip by German Economy Minister Robert Habeck to Ukraine.

Germany also issued an urgent appeal this week for countries to help shore up Ukraine’s air defenses as Russian forces continue to pound Ukrainian cities and infrastructure.

“We will continue to provide massive support to Ukraine and will not allow ourselves to be intimidated,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said.

Meanwhile, NATO is working to send more air defense systems to Ukraine, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, adding that delays in providing such aid were harming Kyiv’s efforts to resist Russia’s attacks.

“We have compiled data about the different air defense systems we have in NATO and focused on the Patriot systems. And we are working with allies to ensure that they redeploy some of their systems to Ukraine,” he said in Italy.


Argentine monthly inflation lowest in 2.5 years

Argentine monthly inflation lowest in 2.5 years
Updated 17 sec ago
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Argentine monthly inflation lowest in 2.5 years

Argentine monthly inflation lowest in 2.5 years

BUENOS AIRES: Monthly inflation in economically troubled Argentina came in at 4.2 percent in May, the lowest in two-and-a-half years, mainly due to a drop in consumption, the INDEC statistics agency said Thursday.

For the first five months of 2024, the rate came in at 71.9 percent, and year-on-year at 276.4 percent — down from 289.4 percent registered in April but still at record high levels.

The rate fell for the fifth successive month in May.

In December, when budget-slashing President Javier Milei took office, inflation leapt by 25.5 percent, provoked by his devaluation of the peso by more than 50 percent.

Self-declared “anarcho-capitalist” Milei has vowed to halt Argentina’s economic decline and reduce the budget deficit to zero.

He has slashed public spending, cut the cabinet in half, done away with 50,000 public jobs, suspended new public works contracts and ripped away fuel and transport subsidies.

In April, Milei hailed the South American country’s first quarterly budget surplus since 2008.

Economy Minister Luis Caputo on Thursday celebrated the May data as indicating a “deepening of the ongoing disinflation process.”

Critics say Milei’s few wins have come at the cost of the poor and working classes, and were unlikely to last.

Economist Hernan Letcher of the CEPA economics think tank told AFP the inflation drop was explained, in large part, by a “significant fall in consumption.”

“We consultants expect that the process of reducing the rate of inflation will not continue in June,” he said.

“The market expectation survey shows that a level in the order of five percent will be maintained until the end of the year.”

Consumer consumption, manufacturing and construction have slumped under Milei’s peso devaluation and budget cuts, with a 5.3 percent contraction in economic activity in the first quarter.

The International Monetary Fund expects the Argentine economy to contract by 2.8 percent this year, after a 1.6-percent decline in 2023.

The government this week reported a 16-percent increase in real wages in the private sector in April and a recovery of purchasing power that is the “most significant since 2009.”

It is a relative figure, however, in a country where informal employment accounted for more than 45 percent of the work force even before the impact of Milei’s austerity measures started hitting home.

Poverty in the South American country now stands at 55.5 percent, according to the Pontifical Catholic University’s Social Debt Monitor.

Last month, Argentina introduced a 10,000-peso banknote, worth the equivalent of about $11 — five times the face value of the previous biggest 2,000-peso bill.

Thursday’s inflation data came hours after a first victory for Milei in the Senate, which approved a modified version of his economic liberalization package.

Milei’s bill, which makes provision for privatization of state-owned companies and weakens labor protections, have raised the ire of workers and leftists, who fought running battles with police outside Congress on Wednesday.

The draft legislation must still be given a final green light by the lower house Chamber of Deputies.


‘Alarm bells ringing’: Dembele calls on France stars to vote in key elections

‘Alarm bells ringing’: Dembele calls on France stars to vote in key elections
Updated 13 June 2024
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‘Alarm bells ringing’: Dembele calls on France stars to vote in key elections

‘Alarm bells ringing’: Dembele calls on France stars to vote in key elections
  • Ousmane Dembele: ‘We need to mobilize to get out and vote’
  • FFF planning player proxy vote if still involved in Euro 2024

PADERBORN, Germany: France star Ousmane Dembele admitted on Thursday the political situation in the country had “set alarm bells ringing” and said he and his teammates intended to vote in upcoming legislative elections even if they are still involved at Euro 2024 in Germany.
“We need to mobilize to get out and vote,” Dembele told reporters at the French team’s training base in western Germany where they are preparing for their opening European Championship game against Austria on Monday.
“I think the situation in France has set alarm bells ringing. Everyone needs to rally round and come together to vote.”
President Emmanuel Macron has called elections for the lower house National Assembly with the first round set for June 30 and the second round on July 7.
He announced the snap poll last Sunday in response to the results of the EU elections, in which far-right parties — including the top-scoring National Rally (RN) — managed to take almost 40 percent of the vote in France.
“I was watching the news not long ago and I saw that one in every two people in France doesn’t vote, so everyone needs to vote in the legislative elections,” added Dembele, the former Barcelona winger now playing back in France for Paris Saint-Germain.
The French squad will still be in Germany at the time of the election, provided they make it beyond the group stage.
The first round of the election is set to take place the same weekend as the last 16 of Euro 2024, while the second round comes just after the quarter-finals.
However, Dembele said the French Football Federation was planning to help players set up a proxy vote if they remained in Germany at the time.


Pope Francis to meet at G7 summit with Biden, Zelensky, Macron, Modi

Pope Francis to meet at G7 summit with Biden, Zelensky, Macron, Modi
Updated 13 June 2024
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Pope Francis to meet at G7 summit with Biden, Zelensky, Macron, Modi

Pope Francis to meet at G7 summit with Biden, Zelensky, Macron, Modi
  • Pope Francis is the first pope to participate in G7 discussions
  • Pope will have a bilateral meeting with US President Joe Biden

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis will meet with the leaders of the United States, Ukraine, France and India, among others, on the sidelines of the Group of 7 (G7) summit in Italy, the Vatican said on Thursday.

Francis, who in January warned against the “perverse” dangers of artificial intelligence, is due to take part in leaders’ talks on the new technology on Friday.

He is the first pope to participate in G7 discussions.

Issuing a program for his one-day appearance, the Vatican said Francis would have a bilateral meeting with US President Joe Biden, a fellow Catholic.

The Vatican said he would also have one-on-one meetings with Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky, France’s Emmanuel Macron, India’s Narendra Modi, Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, Turkiye’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Kenya’s William Ruto,

Algeria’s Abdelmadjid Tebboune, and the head of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva.

Francis and Biden met at the Vatican in 2021 and the president said the pope told him he was a “good Catholic” who can receive communion even as conservative US bishops wanted to deny it because of Biden’s support for abortion rights.

The two men also spoke in October last year about the crisis in the Middle East after Hamas’ attack on Israel.

Biden has spoken movingly of his respect for the pope, praising his empathy and calling him a “decent man.” They stay in touch, Biden has said.


Pro-Palestinian protesters take over Cal State LA building, leaving damage and graffiti

Pro-Palestinian protesters take over Cal State LA building, leaving damage and graffiti
Updated 13 June 2024
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Pro-Palestinian protesters take over Cal State LA building, leaving damage and graffiti

Pro-Palestinian protesters take over Cal State LA building, leaving damage and graffiti
  • Pro-Palestinian demonstrators barricaded the multistory Student Services Building
  • The university posted a “protest action alert” on its website

LOS ANGELES: A takeover of a building at California State University, Los Angeles, by demonstrators protesting Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, leaving the facility trashed and covered with graffiti, TV news reports showed.
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators barricaded the multistory Student Services Building on Wednesday and workers inside were told to shelter in place, but it was empty by Thursday morning, said university spokesperson Erik Frost Hollins.
“What I can tell you, at the moment, is that the building is clear of employees and protesters and the building is secure,” said Frost Hollins, who did not immediately offer details on what occurred overnight.
The university posted a “protest action alert” on its website announcing that all main campus classes and operations would be remote until further notice and asking people to stay away.
Images from the scene showed graffiti on the building, furniture blocking doorways and overturned golf carts, picnic tables and umbrellas barricading the plaza out front.
The CSULA Gaza Solidarity Encampment, a group that has camped near the campus gym for about 40 days, sent an email indicating that members were staging a sit-in in the building, Hollins said.


Russia slowing down in Kharkiv area after lifting of arms restrictions, says Austin

Russia slowing down in Kharkiv area after lifting of arms restrictions, says Austin
Updated 13 June 2024
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Russia slowing down in Kharkiv area after lifting of arms restrictions, says Austin

Russia slowing down in Kharkiv area after lifting of arms restrictions, says Austin
  • “What I see is a slowing of the Russians’ advance and a stabilizing of that particular piece of the front,” said Austin

BRUSSELS: Russia’s advance in the Kharkiv area is slowing and the frontline is stabilizing after some allies lifted restrictions on Kyiv’s use of donated weapons on Russian territory, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday.
“What I see is a slowing of the Russians’ advance and a stabilizing of that particular piece of the front. Now, I think we’ll see incremental gains — and we’ll see puts and takes — going forward,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a NATO defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels.
“But again, a couple of weeks ago, there was concern that we would see a significant breakthrough on the part of the Russians. I don’t think we’ll see that going forward.”