Europe/Americas update: April 26 2018


The head of the World Food Program, David Beasley, says that returning ISIS fighters are trying to exacerbate hunger in the Sahel to drive a wave of migrants toward Europe:

Speaking to the Guardian during a visit to Brussels for a two-day Syria summit, Beasley said: “You are going to face a similar pattern of what took place years ago, except you are going to have more Isis and extremist groups infiltrating migration.


“What we are picking up is that they are partnering with the extremist groups like Boko Haram and al-Qaida to divvy up territory and resources and to continue to infiltrate and destabilise in the hope of creating migration into Europe where they can infiltrate and cause chaos.


“My comment to the Europeans is that if you think you had a problem resulting from a nation of 20 million people like Syria because of destabilisation and conflict resulting in migration, wait until the greater Sahel region of 500 million people is further destabilised. And this is where the European community and international community has got to wake up.”

Beasley was named to head the WFP by Donald Trump, but he’s done the near-miraculous in convincing Trump to increase the US contribution to a UN agency. If he manages to get Europe to step up to alleviate hunger in the Sahel, that would be a good thing.


European Council President Donald Tusk visited Serbia and Kosovo this week, and on Thursday he delivered a pretty clear message: Kosovo has no chance of getting into the European Union unless it settles its relationship with Serbia. This is, of course, easier said than done. But Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić believes there is an opening in the next few months for Serbia and Kosovo to reach some kind of accord. Mostly because it’s also true that Serbia’s EU membership can’t advance unless it settles its relationship with Kosovo. Vučić may be willing to accept a deal that lets him acknowledge Kosovo’s independence without formally recognizing it…in return for concessions from Brussels, of course.


Serbia on Thursday barred Croatian Defense Minister Damir Krstičević from entering the country. This was a tit-for-tat move in response to Croatia’s decision last week to bar Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin from attending a World War II memorial service in Croatia.


This is genuinely a little disturbing:

French police investigating a woman for suspected ties to ISIS have made a chilling discovery, according to French police officials and prosecutors: The arrested woman had a USB drive that contained the personal details of thousands of French police officials.


That’s raised fears that a similar data breach may have helped an ISIS militant carry out the notorious June 2016 murder of a French police commander and his domestic partner, a civilian police employee.


The USB was discovered last October during raids on apartments and properties linked to the 25-year-old woman, who’s been identified publicly only as Mina B. She now stands accused of being in direct contact with an ISIS-directed group in the Belgian city of Verviers that was raided in January 2015. Two extremists were killed in that raid.



Two thousand indigenous Brazilians protested in Brasilia on Thursday in an annual demonstration that has taken on more urgency in recent years:

Every April, members of Brazil’s indigenous groups descend on Brasilia to press their concerns in the halls of power. But leaders say their situation has become more precarious since President Michel Temer took office in 2016 and began instituting what they call a systematic rollback of indigenous rights and protections.


During this year’s weeklong “Free Land Encampment,” indigenous groups have focused their ire on a rule adopted in July under which authorities can only designate lands as belonging to indigenous people if they were occupied in 1988, the year Brazil’s Constitution was adopted. Indigenous groups argue that the requirement ignores the history of dispossession in Brazil — which was especially brutal during the 1964-1985 dictatorship.


The rule will make the recognition of many pending indigenous land claims virtually impossible, activists say, and could even be used to claw back already designated land. That could open the lands up to logging, grazing and other business interests and could have serious implications for Brazil’s ability to protect its environment and stem deforestation.


Venezuela and Panama have restored their respective ambassadors and resumed direct flights between their countries. They broke off ties earlier this month over Venezuelan allegations of money laundering by Panamanian individuals and companies.


The Permanent Commission on Human Rights reported on Thursday that the death toll from recent protests in Nicaragua is at least 63, with at least 160 injured and 15 people missing. The group’s director, Marcos Carmona, called it a “massacre.”


The remnants of the Central American migrant caravan have reached the US-Mexico border and are planning a mass crossing this weekend. These people are fleeing violence back home and have every right to claim refugee status in the United States, but they have to make it across the border first. The Trump administration will not make it easy for them.


Hey, so it turns out that our bloated Pentagon budgets have to keep getting more bloated or else defense contractors won’t be able to get rich off of them anymore and that would be Extremely Bad For Some Reason:

The American defense-industrial base needs Pentagon budgets to grow at least 5 percent per year to remain healthy and stable, the industry’s leading trade group said in a report released Wednesday.


The report by the Aerospace Industries Association blames Budget Control Act cuts and Congress’ repeated deferral to continuing resolutions for a steep drop in the market’s number of prime vendors. It’s unclear exactly how smaller suppliers have been impacted, but “the detrimental impact of budget cuts have been felt throughout the supply chain,” the report reads.

The defense industry wants an end to austerity–for it only, of course, which means more austerity for everybody else–and a streamlined acquisition process so there aren’t so many nosy bureaucrats running around asking stupid questions like “why does your airplane keep asphyxiating pilots” and the like. If it doesn’t get these things, the US may not win its next big war against Russia and/or China, the one that most of us won’t survive no matter who wins.

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One thought on “Europe/Americas update: April 26 2018

  1. Serbian Defense Minister Vulin got banned for saying it wasn’t up to Croatia whether or not he should attend a ceremony in Croatia, but rather up to the President of Serbia as supreme commander of the Serb armed forces. This is, of course, both wrong and grossly offensive; by definition, the Croats get to decide who enters Croatia.

    Mind, the ceremony was a memorial at the Jasenovac concentration camp, and Serbs get a little nuts on the topic of Jasenovac. That said, Vulin was crossing the street to be offensive, and the Croats were completely within their rights to bar him.

    Why did Vulin do this? Because he is and always has been an asshole, FWTW; he was an early and fierce supporter of Milosevic, and then a major figure in JUL, the disgusting party founded by Milosevic’s wife. He’s also a ferocious chickenhawk — he managed to avoid military service (in early 1990s Yugoslavia!). The Army Union — yeah, the Serb Army has a union, it’s a Yugoslav thing — complained loudly about his appointment last year, noting that he’s a draft-dodger with zero military experience and publicly trying to shame him out of taking the post. It didn’t work, but the recent contretemps is probably an attempt by Vulin to raise his image as a brave defender of Serbian values.

    Unfortunately his party controls a bunch of votes in Parliament, so the current government probably isn’t going to fire him. This is a perennial problem in Serbian politics. There are several parties of loud asshole nationalists, and it’s very hard to form a government that doesn’t include at least one.

    TLDR, if the Croats had ignored his statement and let him attend the ceremony, he’d have just done something even more offensive — provoking a reaction is what he’s all about.

    Doug M.

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