300 Jewish graves desecrated in France

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SARRE-UNION, France – It’s Sunday shortly before 5 p.m. and the police have been advised of the desecration of a Jewish cemetery in eastern France. According to initial reports, 300 graves have been degraded. It’s just a huge fields of rubble that the perpetrators have left behind them. No statements, no claims –the steles were just broken.

A huge monument honoring the victims of the Holocaust was completely destroyed as well.

This is not the first time that the Jewish cemetery in Sarre-Union has been desecrated. Indeed, in 1988 and 2001 several graves had also been degraded there.

The news has come as a big shock to French political and religious figures.

“A feeling of disgust” was the reaction confessed by Manuel Valls, the French prime minister, who promised that “everything will be done to find those responsible.” The president of the republic, François Hollande, said that, “French Jews have their place in Europe and in France in particular,” despite the words of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, who has called “all the Jews of Europe to join the Hebrew state. ”

The French Council of the Muslim Faith also “strongly condemns these inhumane desecrations,” and made statements about the sadness and grief of those affected by the heinous acts.

The news came one day after a deadly shooting at a Denmark synagogue and one month after the kosher supermarket incident in Paris.

“I am fed up of all these anti-Semitic acts, which we have seen in their different forms on January 9 in France, yesterday in Copenhagen, and today in Alsace,” said Roger Cukierman, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France.

The number of anti-Semitic acts in France doubled in 2014 compared to the previous year. According to the Protection of the Jewish Community Service (SPCJ), an organization working in conjunction with the Ministry of Interior, 851 anti-Semitic acts (actions and threats) were registered last year against 423 in 2013, an increase of 101 percent.

France is home to western Europe’s biggest Jewish community.

French President François Hollande called the national community “to wake up.”

By Esther Hervy

HSBC affiliate in Swiss Leaks misappropriated €180 billion

HSBC affiliate in Swiss Leaks misappropriated €180 billion
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PARIS — French newspaper “Le Monde” revealed last night after a large investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that between 2005 and 2007 more than €180 billion would have transited through a private bank in Switzerland, where world leaders, including kings and celebrities, hid their savings. According to the news organization, an HSBC subsidiary would have accepted and even encouraged customers of 200 foreign countries to place their savings there.

That’s a total of over 100,000 international clients who would have been tempted to evade the control of tax authorities by transiting funds through accounts in Geneva. “The World” has access to a list of the names of the bank’s prestigious clients, and shared it with more than 50 other international media bodies, thus mobilizing some 154 journalists.

The analysis of these accounts cover a period from November 2006 to March 2007. The billions were mostly hidden behind offshore structures in Panama and the British Virgin Islands.

Among the famous customers involved in this case of possible mass international fraud are personalities from various backgrounds such as Mohamed VI, the current king of Morocco, Elle McPherson, the famous Australian top model of the 90s, actress Joan Collins, and even Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher. No exception for France — the famous hairdresser Jacques Dessange had an account in HSBC’s Swiss industry, where there would have been up to €1, 6 million between 2006 and 2007, according to the famous “listings Falciani” — named after the employee of HSBC who had stolen his employer’s client lists and details.

Nina Ricci’s heiress also appears on the list: € 18.7 million would have transited through her Swiss account.

“We recognize and assume responsibility for past failures of compliance and control procedures,” the British bank responded in a press release.

According to HSBC, the Swiss subsidiary had not been fully integrated into the group after its acquisition in 1999, and therefore the compliance levels were subsequently “significantly lower” than the norm, and “this could have led to a number of customers who may not have fully complied with their tax obligations.” The bank adds that its Swiss subsidiary had in recent years undergone a “radical transformation” and that such tax evasion practices were outdated.

Gérard Davet, a French instigator and journalist for Le Monde, spoke to BMFTV this morning. “It’s been six years that we are working on this investigation with Fabrice Lhomme, a year that we are in possession of the data, and from the beginning we said that we are facing an absolutely amazing case because of its size, over 180 billion and more than 100,000 clients, in 10’s of thousands of offshore accounts. … We have revealed a big system and we are dealing with an absolutely awesome scanda. … In 2005 there has been a European tax that was put in place and the bank itself has offered its customers to set up offshore structures to hide their money in Panama or Virgin Islands UK. … There was a whole system of HSBC account managers who went canvassing customers in France in prestigious hotels and restaurants, trying to make them believe in very interesting but totally fraudulent investments. People need to understand that 98 percent of persons who used this system are fraudsters.

“All this is only a part of what we have discovered. We have identified the bank’s employees who had opened accounts with millions of dollars in them. Even assuming that these people are paid very well, it is inconceivable that it is not money that they keep their customers. … Dozens of investigations are still in progress.”

Yann Galut, French lawyer and politician, meanwhile said, “Seek reparation from Switzerland, who can’t get away with this.”

By Esther Hervy


A chip could replace animal testing

animal testing
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Animal rights activists will welcome this news with enthusiasm: the Wyss Institute at Harvard University has developed a chip that could save the lives of millions of laboratory animals. The chip would imitate the operation of complete organs and thus predict more effectively the effects of treatment on humans.

Animal experimentation is subject to much debate on the bases of both ethics and quality. Indeed, the results are rarely transferable to humans and therefore become merely the objects of a further set of tests. These experiments often create much unnecessary suffering by animals bred or kept in laboratories.

“For every dollar spent, we are getting less and less medication on the market,” Geraldine Hamilton, scientist at the Wyss Institute, commented on the current state of animal research affairs.

With the new smart chip, it could be that this waste (financial and in terms of animal lives) becomes a memory.

About the size of a coin, the new chip is composed of the cells of different organs (kidney, stomach, liver) related by small channels acting as blood vessels. In these channels, a nutritional liquid replacing blood is propelled by small pumps, reproducing the actual flow of the heart. It is an electro-organism copying reality very closely, and can therefore be used to test various substances for how they would effect the human body.

The system is not fixed, so scientists can integrate different types of cells according to the research.

The molecule to be tested is introduced into the system as if it were introduced into a body. For now, cell samples used for the first tests belong to men and women of different ethnic groups.

This new system has not yet been used in the development of any new drugs and is still in the control stage.

The research team has been distinguished by the awarding of an Animal Safety Research Prize, which recognizes innovations offering alternatives to animal testing.

In this “win-win” approach to fighting against animal and human suffering, the two are no longer opposed –they are parallel.

By Esther Hervy

Charles Manson and Star: the wedding of the year did not take place

Charles Manson
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The wedding that was to join one of the most famous American serial killers, Charles Manson, now 80 years old, and 27-years-old Afton Elaine Burton (renamed “Star” by Manson) finally will not take place.

Indeed, after filing a marriage license application last November, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Terry Thornton confirmed this week that the marriage license had expired on Feb. 5 and no wedding vows would be traded within the state prison in Corcoran, where the guru is serving a life sentence.

Charles Manson was sentenced to death (which was later changed to a life sentence) with four of his disciples in August 1969 for the death of seven people, including the wife of director Roman Polanski, Sharon Tate, who was stabbed when she was eight months pregnant. In the 1960s, Manson had formed a community known as the Manson Familly, and it is alleged that he thought he was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ and wanted to provoke the emergence of a struggle between whites and blacks. He thought that the first would emerge victorious.

Despite this psychopathic portrait, Burton said that her love for Manson had nothing to do with the horrible acts, which she denies.

“Sharon Tate was not a movie star,” stated Burton. “Even now, no one has ever really heard of her, even if she is supposed to have been killed by Charlie, the most famous guy in the world. And that’s the only reason people know who she is.”

Burton said that she fell in love with theories of environmental protection advocated by the killer. Manson named this theory ATWA (air, trees, water and animals), the main idea of which was, according to Manson “the air is God, because without air we do not exist.” According to him, killing “to get more air” is required. “Without murder, we just have no chance.”

All parole applications requested by Manson (a dozen) have been denied.

His next hearing will take place in 2027. Charles Manson will be 92 years old and will have spent 56 years behind the bars.

By Esther Hervy


TransAsia Airways: crashed plane in Taiwan results in 31 victims [video]

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According to the latest information from authorities, 31 of the 58 people who were on board (53 passengers and five crew members) died in the crash of TransAsia Airways Flight GE 235 Wednesday morning, 11 a.m local time.

The plane left the capital towards the small island of Kinmen, next to the Chinese mainland but controlled by Taiwan. The plane carried Chinese and Taiwanese tourists.

After the takeoff, the aircraft soon stalled and hit a raised highway before crashing into a river.

TransAsia AirwaysOn an impressive video made by a non professional cameraman, we can see a taxi hit by the wing of the plane.

The pilot is considered to have done everything possible to avoid populated areas and avoid casualties on the ground. He has been hailed as a hero by aviation experts. Both the pilot and co-pilot perished in the accident.

In a recording broadcast on local television we can hear a member of the crew screaming, “Mayday, Mayday, engine flameout!”

An engine flameout is an engine failure that results from an interruption of the fuel supply or from faulty combustion. Twin-engine aricraft like GE 235 usually can continue to fly even if one engine fails, however.

“The pilots were highly trained and could face a possible failure of the motors,” said Daniel Tsang, an expert in aviation. This indicates that the causes of the accident are probably more complex than simple engine failure.

For the time being, no comments have been made about the causes of the accident, but the black boxes were recovered and should be analyzed quickly. Two French experts belonging to the civil aviation investigation office are also scheduled to arrived soon in Taiwan to meet Canadian counterparts there.

The aircraft that was less than one year old was in working order ten days ago, said the director of the Taiwanese civil aviation.

The crash is part of a black series for Asian airways. Not to mention Malaysia Airlines, TransAsia Airways already had a plane crash last July. A domestic flight crashed with 54 passengers on board. The aircraft was caught in a typhoon.

By Esther Hervy

Taiwanese citizen’s video, obtained by Reuters

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Two jihadists executed by Jordan after the murderer of a military pilot

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After the Islamic State released a video showing the execution of a Jordanian pilot Tuesday, Jordan’s responded by executing two jihadists imprisoned since 2006 for acts of terrorism. One woman and one man were hanged early Wednesday morning.

The woman, Sajida al-Rishawi, a 44-year-old Iraqi designated a “sister imprisoned” by Daesh, had carried out attacks in the Jordanian capital a year before her arrest. Sixty tourists, diplomats, and expatriates were killed in suicide attacks committed in three hotels. Al-Rishawi was sentenced to death in 2008 for her participation in the attacks.

The man, Ziad Karbouli, was part of al-Qaeda. He had also been sentenced to death in 2008.

The two executions have been interpreted as Amman’s response to the appalling murder of Maaz Al-Kassasbeh, a Jordanian pilot captured on Dec.24 by the Islamic State after the crash of his plane in Syria, where he participated in air strikes for the international coalition against the Islamic State.

The barbarism of the execution of the pilot (burned alive in a cage) raised the emotions of well-known figures in the world of politics.

“This Sunni group is the embodiment of evil,” said David Cameron, British Prime Minister, while François Hollande, the French President, condemned the act as a “barbaric murder.”

In a unanimous statement, the 15 member countries of the UN Security Council also “strongly condemned” a “barbaric and cowardly act which once again shows the brutality of the Islamic State.”

The Islamic state had demanded the release of Sajida al-Rishawi in exchange for the Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, who the Islamic State had held hostage. The transaction had not taken place and the Japanese journalist was beheaded.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had described the killing of Goto as a “vile and unforgivable act.”

In Karak, the hometown of the pilot, some people protested outside a local administrative building. They felt that the government had not done enough to obtain his release.

In the most recent video release by the Islamic State, representatives also list names and display photographs and addresses of soldiers from countries participating in the international coalition, and claim to offer a reward of “100 gold coins” to those who would kill one of them.

Analysis by Esther Hervy

Photo by mhlradio

Strauss-Kahn before the judges: former president of the IMF accusated of procuring

Strauss-Kahn before the judges former president of the IMF accusated of procuring
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Four years after the case regarding alleged sexual crimes committed at the Sofitel Hotel in New York City, Dominique Strauss-Kahn appeared again today in the opening of another trial — this one on charges of aggravated procuring alleged to have taken place at the Carlton Hotel. The former director of IMF, who is accused of having participated in naughty parties in Lille, Paris and Washington between 2008 and 2011 denied knowledge of the professional status of the girls. The hearing began today at 2 p.m. local time.

One of Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers, Richard Malka, who defended Strauss-Kahn in earlier investigations, said that the law does not necessarily condemn immoral acts.

Apparently, the young women were recruited in Belgian brothels, whose owner, Dominique Alderweireld, was arrested on Oct. 1 for pimping, and is further suspected of having employed undocumented minors.

One of them recounts that a man came to her home to “ensure that she could match the type of woman who could be presented to Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Another girl said that DSK was aware that they were all paid each time, and that she had told Strauss-Kahn so.

“If this man believed that he could not know the quality of the girls, he really wants to make us believe that he is naive and take us for idiots, the second girl, called Jade, said at a hearing. All these girls were good-looking, young, completely designed to meet his desires.

Eric Dupond-Moretti, one of the lawyers for the accused, denounced the extension of “customer to pimp.” If we want to penalize the customer in France, which does. There are countries where the customer is penalized, but not France, said Dupond-Moretti. “I think they want to destroy DSK.”

Dominique Strauss-Kahn faces up to 10 years in prison and 1.5 million euros in fines.

By Esther Hervy

France’s Glavany Amendment: animals now considered “living beings gifted sentience”

France's Glavany Amendment animals now considered living beings gifted sentience
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While the French Civil Code considered animals to be “movable property” for 200 years, Parliament voted this Wednesday, Jan. 28 that a change in legal status was in order (even if the Senate rejected the Glavany amendment last week). Animals are now considered to be “living beings gifted sentience.” In this way, an animal is no longer defined by its market value but its intrinsic value. The Civil Code has been harmonized with Rural Code and Criminal Code on this matter.

FNSEA (the main French farmer’s union) criticized the new legislation, fearing the effects with regards to livestock. But after seeing that animals did not receive a new category, the representatives thought things could be worse. This amendment does not change the situation for farmers significantly because it does not create a special status for animals between the men and goods. Animals thus remain property under the Civil Code.

But the animals rights associations still saluted what they considered to be a great victory.

“The main lock popped! This breakthrough creates favorable conditions for the improvement of the animal’s lives,” said Reha Hutin, president of the Foundation 30 Millions d’Amis. Indeed, the group has worked toward this change for more than 10 years. they hope the new amendment will change attitudes and also allow judges to apply the existing law more easily (The Criminal Code allows up to €30,000 in fines and 2 years of imprisonment for any act of animal abuse).

However, it is worth noting that this change only applies to pets or wild animals tamed or held in captivity. The sentience of wild animals, meanwhile, is not recognized.

Concretely, in the short-term future, the law should not change much for our animals, but many still see a positive sign in the consideration of the daily suffering of animals. Even though the road still seems long toward the ban of bullfighting (which has a specific clause in the Act), geese feeding, vivisection and still dairy farms, this new amendment can only cause us to rejoice and to become more aware of the important place occupied animals in our society.

For Christiane Taubira, Minister of Justice, “It’s an act that has weight, meaning and consequences.”

Analysis by Esther Hervy

Corroboration: Vier Pfoten

Image: blurbrain/littlemiao