Notre-Dame Cathedral on fire

Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris is on fire. There has been major damage, and the spire has collapsed.

The cathedral was being renovated.

Reuters: Paris’ historic Notre-Dame Cathedral hit by fire

A major fire broke out at the medieval Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on Monday afternoon, leading firefighters to clear the area around one of the city’s most visited landmarks.

It was not immediately clear what had caused the fire. France 2 television reported that police were treating the incident as an accident.

A major operation was under way, the fire department said, while a city hall spokesman said on Twitter that the area was being cleared.

Notre-Dame was in the midst of renovations, with some sections under scaffolding, while bronze statues were removed last week for works.

Wikipedia:  Notre-Dame de Paris

Notre-Dame de Paris (meaning “Our Lady of Paris”)  is a medieval Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, France.

The cathedral is considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. The innovative use of the rib vault and flying buttress, the enormous and colorful rose windows, and the naturalism and abundance of its sculptural decoration all set it apart from earlier Romanesque architecture.

The cathedral was begun in 1160 and largely completed by 1260, though it was modified frequently in the following centuries. In the 1790s, Notre-Dame suffered desecration during the French Revolution when much of its religious imagery was damaged or destroyed.

A major restoration project supervised by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc began in 1845 and continued for twenty-five years. Beginning in 1963, the facade of the Cathedral was cleaned of centuries of soot and grime, returning it to its original color.

Another campaign of cleaning and restoration was carried out from 1991-2000.

And as reported Notre-Dame was undergoing further restoration, which is thought to be related to a possible cause of the fire.

Two international terrorist attacks

There have been two terrorist attacks reported over the weekend, one in Paris and the other in Indonesia.

It is very difficult to defend against small and single person attacks.

BBC – Paris knife attack: Suspect ‘French citizen born in Russia’s Chechnya’

The suspect in a deadly knife attack in central Paris on Saturday evening is a French citizen born in 1997 in Russia’s republic of Chechnya, sources say.

Named by media as Khamzat Asimov, he was on a French watch list of people who could pose a threat to national security, the sources said.

Police shot dead the attacker in the busy Opéra district after he killed a man and injured four other people.

The Islamic State (IS) group said it was behind the attack.

France has been on high alert following a series of attacks. More than 230 people have been killed by IS-inspired jihadists in the past three years.

Islamic terrorism has been a major problem in France.

Indonesia is predominately Muslim and has it’s own problems with terrorism – Surabaya church attacks: One family responsible, police say

A family of six, including a nine-year-old girl, were behind a wave of blasts targeting three churches in Indonesia’s second city of Surabaya, police say.

At least 13 people died in Sunday’s bombings, which the Islamic State group has claimed.

The mother and two daughters blew themselves up at one church, while the father and two sons targeted two others.

The family had recently spent time in Syria, according to the police.

The bombings are the deadliest

Police chief Tito Karnavian said the family belonged to an Indonesian IS-inspired network, Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD).

There has been a rise in radical Muslim activity, in part due to the influence of ISIS.

In recent years women have become increasingly active in terrorist cells in Indonesia but this would be the first time children have been used.

Indonesia had been widely praised for its sustained anti-terrorism crackdown following the 2002 Bali bombings. It has managed a seemingly successful combination of arrests and killings, alongside a de-radicalisation program that focused on changing minds and providing alternative incomes for released terrorists.

But the rise of IS overseas has invigorated the loosely constituted jihadi networks.

There has also been rising intolerance in recent years in this once tolerant, pluralist, majority-Muslim nation, which has made minority groups increasingly uncomfortable.

Terrorism is a significant problem. Terrorist attacks get a lot of media attention these day, but are responsible for a relatively small number of deaths:

Global Death Toll of Different Causes of Death - Oxfam0

https://ourworldindata.org/terrorism

There is no easy way of preventing terrorism, nor of reducing radical religious movements.

French outrage over Trump comments on Paris attack

President Trump has offended the French after making some typically bizarre comments in a speech to the National Rifle Association  in Dallas, Texas.

Trump is well known for making stupid and insensitive comments. This just adds to the list.

RNZ: French outrage after US President Trump mimics Paris attackers

What did Trump say exactly?

“Paris, France, has the toughest gun laws in the world…” he told the NRA.

“Nobody has guns in Paris, nobody, and we all remember more than 130 people, plus tremendous numbers of people that were horribly, horribly wounded. Did you notice that nobody ever talks about them?

“They were brutally killed by a small group of terrorists that had guns. They took their time and gunned them down one by one. Boom! Come over here. Boom! Come over here. Boom!

“But if one employee or just one patron had a gun, or if just one person in this room had been there with a gun, aimed at the opposite direction, the terrorists would have fled or been shot.”

The French foreign ministry…

…called for the victims’ memory to be respected.

“France expresses its firm disapproval of the comments by President Trump about the attacks of 13 November 2015 in Paris and asks for the memory of the victims to be respected,” the foreign ministry said.

François Hollande, who was French president at the time of the attacks…

…said Mr Trump’s remarks were “shameful”. They “said a lot about what he thinks of France and its values”, he added.

Manuel Valls, who was France’s prime minister in 2015…

…tweeted: “Indecent and incompetent. What more can I say?”

That may sum up Trump very well.

He also prompted responses from London after saying:

“I recently read a story that in London, which has unbelievably tough gun laws, a once very prestigious hospital, right in the middle, is like a warzone for horrible stabbing wounds,” he said. “Yes, that’s right, they don’t have guns, they have knives, and instead there’s blood all over the floors of this hospital. They say it’s as bad as a military warzone hospital.”

Trump stabbed the air several times with an imaginary knife and muttered: “Knives, knives, knives.

Guardian: Trump’s knife crime comments are ridiculous, says London surgeon

The suggestion by Donald Trump that guns are part of the solution to knife crime in London is ridiculous, a trauma surgeon in the capital has said. The US president told the National Rifle Association convention in Dallas on Friday that a “once very prestigious hospital” in London was like a “warzone”.

He appeared to be referring to reported comments by Martin Griffiths, a lead trauma surgeon at the Royal London hospital in Whitechapel, who likened the spate of stabbing victims coming through the doors to scenes in a military hospital.

Prof Karim Brohi, another surgeon at the hospital and the director of London’s major trauma system, said knife violence was a serious issue for London. “We are proud of the excellent trauma care we provide and of our violence reduction programmes,” he said in a statement on Saturday. “The Royal London hospital has cut the number of our young patients returning after further knife attacks from 45% to 1%.

“London hasn’t been used to that. They’re getting used to it. Pretty tough. We’re here today because we recognise a simple fact. The one thing that has always stood between the American people and the elimination of our second amendment rights has been conservatives in Congress willing to fight for those rights. We’re fighting.”

Charlie Falconer, a former justice secretary, said:

“Trump makes Londoners dislike him more, and the US dislike London more. Mutual dislike is not good as the UK leaves the EU. Trump gives the impression he couldn’t give a fig.”

Trump’s reception when he visits England in July was always expected to be far less receptive to him than the NRA or the staged ego stroking rallies he has in the US.

Q+A: Trump and climate change

On NZ Q+A this morning:

Dr Adrian Macey, New Zealand’s first climate change ambassador, is interviewed live by Jessica Mutch – what does President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement really mean for NZ and climate change?

Macey was disappointed about Trump’s withdrawal but it wasn’t unexpected.

But he says that it now seems apparent that the US withdrawal isn’t going to derail the climate change measures from the rest of the world, and cities and businesses in the US have also pledged to continue addressing the issues as before despite the presidential plug pulling.

He points out that Trump is now not calling climate change a hoax, he isn’t contesting that something needs to be done, he has justified withdrawing simply on the basis of jobs.

But he points out that new and renewable energy jobs far exceed coal jobs:

The big change under Trump seems to be a withdrawal of US as a world leader.

It reminds me of a joke about the difference between the US and UK – in the UK they invite other countries to world championships. The US under Trump is at risk of becoming more self obsessed and less of the premier world power.

https://www.tvnz.co.nz/shows/q-and-a/clips/extras/paris-agreement-us-no-nz-yes

Trump at odds with G7 on climate

President Donald Trump has declined to join the rest of the G7 countries reaffirming their commitment to cut back on greenhouse gases. He has said he will make a decision next week.

Trump said he wouldn’t support anything that pout US jobs at risk, but it could lead to other risks.

Fox News: Trump declines to join world leaders at G7 in affirming Paris climate accord

President Trump on Saturday at the G-7 Summit in Italy declined to join six other leading nations in their pledge to uphold the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

The other six members of the G- 7 — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom — reaffirmed their commitment to the agreement, signed by former President Barack Obama.

The group also said the U.S. is “not in a position to join consensus” on climate change.

Trump should have known this would come up at G7 so should have been prepared to do something other than procrastinate.

Paris climate agreement

The COP21 climate change summit in Paris has reached an agreement on climate change.

BBC reports:

A deal to attempt to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than 2C has been agreed at the climate change summit in Paris after two weeks of negotiations.

The deal is the first to commit all countries to cut carbon emissions.

The agreement is partly legally binding and partly voluntary.

The measures in the final draft included:

• To peak greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and achieve a balance between sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century

• To keep global temperature increase “well below” 2C (3.6F) and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5C

• To review progress every five years

• $100 billion a year in climate finance for developing countries by 2020, with a commitment to further finance in the future.

 

Slater – more despicable

I didn’t plan for today to focus on Whale Oil but the campaign there against ‘Islam’ reached new depths in their third post of the day (there has since been a fourth).

In ISLAMIC COUNCIL SAYS THERE ARE NO ISRAELI VICTIMS OF TERRORISM Slater disingenuously misrepresents what the Islamic Council of New Zealand have said in a press release that condemns the Paris attacks and condemns religious related violence, and tries to turn it into an anti-Israel attack.

But the worst is his use of a photo of a dagger weilding (apparently) Muslim cleric juxtaposed with a dishonest headline and “this press release from the Islamic Council of NZ”.

WOIslamicCouncil

That’s dirty and inciteful, especially alongside Whale Oil’s numerous other anti-Islamic posts (four so far today, the latest on refugees which states “The only strong stance is commit to destroying these scumbags”).

And that’s not what the Islamic Council said at all.

What advertiser or politician would want to be associated with anything like this?

I haven’t Slater support anti-terrorist protests nor condemn terrorist attacks like this:

Afghans march against terrorism and for a political system to secure 

The Afghan capital Kabul witnessed a historic protest on Wednesday when tens of thousands of people marched to the presidential palace. It was the largest demonstration in Afghanistan’s modern history. Demonstrators carried the coffins and photos of seven innocent people – including two women and a nine-year-old girl – whose bodies were found on Saturday.

Afghan officials reportedly said Islamic State (IS) had kidnapped these ethnic Hazara people several months ago and held them in the Arghandab district of southern Zabul province. While serious questions remain about the circumstances of the kidnapping and killings, the captives had been brutally beheaded just days ago. Their bodies were sent to their families in the Jaghori district of Ghazni province.

Of course it’s not necessary or possible to condemn all instances of terrorism when condeming specific attacks, and it’s stupid to demand it or use it as an excuse to do the dirty on someone doing the condemning.

The French attacks and gun toting Slaterites

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris Cameron Slater suggests that an armed population would be the best way to prevent terrorism.

HOW GUN CONTROL HELPED THE FRENCH AVOID A MASSACRE…OH WAIT

We hear often, mainly from the left-wing how gun control will stop massacres. That removing guns from society will prevent gun crime.

I don’t hear this. I think Slater made that up.

Fewer guns in society can reduce gun crime and shooting accidents, but that’s unrelated to terrorist massacres.

It is all rubbish of course and we saw evidence of that the other day from Paris.

Criminals ignore laws, and laws create business opportunities for those criminals. Terrorists don’t care about gun control laws, for them it just makes killing large amounts of people easier if they are disarmed by their own governments.

The French government disarmed their population and now they wonder why they are targets.

They are targets because the French armed forces are active in Syria fighting against ISIS. Guns beget armed responses.

We are in a war with Islam. They want to destroy our civilisation and replace it with theirs. We need to fight, hard.

So Europe should arm their populations to prevent terrorist attacks? Slater seems to want to allow, even encourage the people to arm themselves and wipe out ‘Islam’.

I shudder to think what it would be like if people like him were allowed to roam the streets of New Zealand, armed to the teeth,  fighting hard in our defence.

Big talk from Slater. Big stupidity. And not just from him, the Slater tag team are out in force this morning. Spanish Bride posted in Face of the Day:

Back in May today’s face of the day Dame Susan ‘Dhimmi’  Devoy was backing Winston Peter’s call to increase our refugee quota.

Do you know what else we lag behind the rest of the world in Susan? Terrorism.There is a clear correlation between increased Muslim immigration and terrorism in a western country. It doesn’t matter how they got there, what matters is the dangerous ideology and belief system that they bring with them.

I suggest two words of the day for Whale OIl, correlation and causation.

After every single Muslim terrorist attack they have gone out of their way to inform us that it was linked to Islam.They have told us that the organisation behind the attacks is Islamic yet despite this Ms Devoy the other day made a statement as ludicrous as stating that the sky is green.

Ms Devoy might not like the truth but that does not give her the right to tell such bald-faced lies. Obviously she does not want the innocent Muslim community to suffer for what the guilty Muslim community have done but that is no excuse for ignoring the obvious. It is like saying that male on female rape has nothing to do with men. Yes, not all men rape but obviously some do. The terrorists are Muslim and the ideology that they follow is Islam. It may be an unpalatable truth and the Muslim community may be keen to distance themselves from it, much like I would want to distance myself from a family member that killed someone, but that does not change the facts.

That’s a garbled message but the Slaters seem to want to wipe out Islam because of extremist Muslim terrorists. Should women of the world be allowed to arm themselves to wipe out men to eliminate rape?

Members of the Muslim community, the Muslim ‘family’ in France did massacre French civilians and they did do it in the name of Allah. Stop sugar-coating the unpleasant truth Susan. You are fooling nobody.

Blaming “the Muslim ‘family’ in France” for the Paris massacres.

Somehow though I suspect that the real problem is inside your department. Are you leading the department Susan or is the department leading you? Are they feeding you the politically correct lines? Are they telling you what to say? I bet they justify it with the rationale that the lie will protect the local Muslim community. That rationale is the same one currently being used by Angela Merkel to justify suppressing the truth about refugee violence and rape against other refugees and the local German community. Do you really want to follow in her footsteps? I assure you that history will not remember Ms Merkel with kindness.

It’s hard to know what she’s actually trying to say there. This is what Devoy said that Spanish Bride is speaking so streongly against:

New Zealand’s Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy said terrorism is not religious based and urged Kiwis to stand with the Muslim community.

“Hate starts small but so, too, does hope,” Dame Susan said.

“Terrorism has no religion and neither does humanity: we urge Kiwis to stand together in humanity.”

The concepts of religion and terrorism seemed to be diametrically opposed to me. Some terrorists use religion as an excuse to kill, but religion isn’t the cause. Misuse of religion is one of a number of factors.

Slater’s armed with keyboards are relatively harmless. let’s leave it at that. I think gun toting Slateritess roaming the streets are unlikely to make them safer.

ISIS “act of war” against France

Islamic State have claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks, and French President Francois said it amounted to an act of war against France.

Radio NZ reports Hollande: Paris attacks an act of ‘war’

President Hollande said the attacks had been organised from abroad by Islamic State “barbarians”, with internal help.

Sources close to the investigation said a Syrian passport had been found near the body of one of the suicide bombers.

“Faced with war, the country must take appropriate action,” Mr Hollande said after an emergency meeting of security chiefs. He also announced three days of national mourning.

Casualty counts have varied, with this reported by Radio NZ:

A French government source told Reuters there were 127 dead, 67 in critical condition and 116 wounded. Six attackers blew themselves up and one was shot by police. There may have been an eighth attacker, but this was not confirmed.

The worst attack was carried out at the Bataclan concert hall, where officials say four gunmen systematically killed at least 87 people at a rock concert before anti-terrorist commandos launched an assault on the building.

Some 40 more people were killed in five other attacks in the Paris region, the official said, including an apparent double suicide bombing outside the Stade de France national stadium, where Mr Hollande and the German foreign minister were watching a friendly soccer international.

In total eight attackers are reported to have been killed around Paris, including seven by their suicide belts.

And Islamic State have claimed responsibility:

In its claim of responsibility, Islamic State said the attacks were a response to France’s campaign against its fighters.

It also distributed an undated video in which a militant said France would not live peacefully as long it took part in US-led bombing raids against them.

“As long as you keep bombing you will not live in peace. You will even fear travelling to the market,” said a bearded Arabic-speaking militant, flanked by other fighters.

‘Islamic State’, also known as ISIS and ISIL, is a radical group that is a small but currently very brutal and dangerous in large areas of Syria and Iraq, and have been responsible for several terror attacks including the one in Paris.

In What is ‘Islamic State’? the BBC says:

What does IS want?

In June 2014, the group formally declared the establishment of a “caliphate” – a state governed in accordance with Islamic law, or Sharia, by God’s deputy on Earth, or caliph.

It has demanded that Muslims across the world swear allegiance to its leader – Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badri al-Samarrai, better known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – and migrate to territory under its control.

IS has also told other jihadist groups worldwide that they must accept its supreme authority. Many already have, among them several offshoots of the rival al-Qaeda network.

IS seeks to eradicate obstacles to restoring God’s rule on Earth and to defend the Muslim community, or umma, against infidels and apostates.

The group has welcomed the prospect of direct confrontation with the US-led coalition, viewing it as a harbinger of an end-of-times showdown between Muslims and their enemies described in Islamic apocalyptic prophecies.

How many fighters does it have?

In February 2015, US Director for National Intelligence James Clapper said IS could muster “somewhere in the range between 20,000 and 32,000 fighters” in Iraq and Syria.

But he noted that there had been “substantial attrition” in its ranks since US-led coalition air strikes began in August 2014. In June 2015, US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said more than 10,000 IS fighters had been killed.

To help mitigate the manpower losses, IS has turned to conscription in some areas. Iraqi expert Hisham al-Hashimi believes only 30% of the group’s fighters are “ideologues”, with the remainder joining out of fear or coercion.

A significant number of IS fighters are neither Iraqi nor Syrian. In October 2015, National Counterterrorism Center Director Nicholas Rasmussen told Congressthat the group had attracted more than 28,000 foreign fighters. They included at least 5,000 Westerners, approximately 250 of them Americans, he said.

Studies by the London-based International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) and the New York-based Soufan Group suggest that while about a quarter of the foreign fighters are from the West, the majority are from nearby Arab countries, such as Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Jordan and Morocco.

Why are their tactics so brutal?

IS members are jihadists who adhere to an extreme interpretation of Sunni Islam and consider themselves the only true believers. They hold that the rest of the world is made up of unbelievers who seek to destroy Islam, justifying attacks against other Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Beheadings, crucifixions and mass shootings have been used to terrorise their enemies. IS members have justified such atrocities by citing the Koran and Hadith, but Muslims have denounced them.

Even al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who disavowed IS in February 2014 over its actions in Syria, warned Zarqawi in 2005 that such brutality loses “Muslim hearts and minds”.

Many victims of ISIS have been Muslims in the Middle East.

In other news, the war against ISIS goes on.

Yesterday on Stuff: ‘Jihadi John’ believed killed as Islamic State’s losses mount

The US has said it is “reasonably certain” that it has killed the Islamic State extremist known as “Jihadi John” in an airstrike in Syria.

The man, a British citizen named Mohamed Emwazi and a symbol of the group’s reign of terror, was the focus of a US drone strike on a vehicle near Raqqah.

Breaking news from the BBC: Libya IS head ‘killed in US air strike’

A US air strike has killed the leader of the Islamic State (IS) group in Libya, the Pentagon says.

Iraqi national Abu Nabil, also known as Wissam Najm Abd Zayd al-Zubaydi, was a “longtime al-Qaeda operative and the senior ISIL leader in Libya”, it said, using another acronym for IS.

The air strike took place on Friday night.

The Pentagon said the strike demonstrated that it would “go after ISIL leaders wherever they operate”.

Despite what some claim there is no ‘appeasement’. Many countries have joined the fight against ISIS.

Terror attacks like the ones if Paris will no doubt increase the resolve to destroy ISIS.

Unfortunately it will also increase the blaming of all Muslims including calls to marginalise and drive out Muslims from Europe and other Western countries.

An unfortunate but in part unavoidable reaction of Islamic State to being attacked will be ongoing acts of barbarity, retaliation is a major part of how they operate.

This division and the promotion of Islam versus the rest is what ISIS want.

The world needs to support the many millions of moderate Muslims and fight resolutely against terror tactics of groups like ISIS.

French surveillance post Paris attacks

‘The Scrutineer’ at Al Jazeera looks at surveillance in light of the Paris attacks – In wake of Paris attacks, French surveillance gets a closer look.

France already allows mass surveillance with new laws coming into effect just before the attacks.

French President Francois Hollande chaired an emergency meeting Monday morning with key cabinet ministers and heads of police and security services to discuss how persons known to the country’s intelligence community were still able to coordinate violent raids in Paris. But just days before the attacks on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo left 12 dead and wounded another 11, a controversial new law, broadly expanding the French government’s surveillance powers, went into effect.

The law — passed in December 2013 over loud protests by the Green Party, leftists, privacy advocates and business interests — permits the French government to engage in real-time, bulk data collection without judicial oversight. This, coupled with a 2014 law criminalizing “individual terrorist enterprise,” has established the kind of wide-ranging authority that, when used by the U.S. National Security Agency, was once sharply condemned by Hollande.

Buit they had been doing mass surveillance prior to making it legal.

Yet, long before the 2013 surveillance bill was introduced, Hollande’s socialist administration was profiling French Muslims, and, unbeknownst to the public, carrying out a massive program of domestic surveillance.

Run out of the Directorate-General for External Security (DGSE) — the French CIA equivalent staffed by some 5,000 people, with an annual budget of 600 million Euros (more than $700 million) — the monitoring program has gathered troves of informationthrough a network of satellites and 20 on-the-ground “listening stations” dispersed throughout France and its territories. Untold volumes have been swept in: data and metadata from phone calls, email and text messages, social media posts and faxes. (No matter that the country supported a 2013 U.N. resolution on the right to privacy in the digital age.)

Other post-9/11 laws and policies — not at all clandestine — have permitted incursions into French daily life, virtual and real. Statutes purporting to combat terrorism and illegal file-sharing have undermined privacy on the Web and, by extension, residents’ freedom of speech.

And they had been watching the Paris murderers.

Following Wednesday morning’s attack, it became clear that French intelligence and law enforcement had been monitoring the shooters, Cherif and Said Kouachi. And, during the Friday standoffs, much was divulged about Amedy Coulibaly, the man who held 16 hostages at a Paris kosher supermarket. But earlier surveillance failed to prevent these incidents.

The only type of surveillance that would stop almost all attacks would be round the clock surveillance by people, and the intrusiveness of that and the resources required would rule it out as a viable option.

Many will want to know why. As analogies to 9/11 and the Patriot Act proliferate in the international media, Hollande’s reformist administration may be forced to choose, at least rhetorically, between national security and the rights to privacy and freedom of speech. The coming months will challenge France to answer with intelligence of a different kind.

Many governments will be challenged by the Paris attacks, and will be forced between types and degrees of surveillance.

Law enforcement and protection will never be 100% effective. The challenge is to get a reasonable and palatable balance between security and the rights to privacy and freedom of speech.