SWIFT Messaging System Cuts Off Remaining North Korean Banks

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

SWIFT messaging system cuts off remaining North Korean banks

By Tom Bergin | LONDON

SWIFT, the inter-bank messaging network which is the backbone of international finance, said it planned to cut off the remaining North Korean banks still connected to its system, as concerns about the country’s nuclear program and missile tests grow.

SWIFT said the four remaining banks on the network would be disconnected for failing to meet its operating criteria.

The bank-owned co-operative declined to specify what the banks’ shortcomings were or if it had received representations from any governments.

Experts said the decision to cut off banks which were not subject to European Union sanctions was unusual and a possible sign of diplomatic pressure on SWIFT.

Belgium-based SWIFT has previously refused to cut off Burmese, Russian or Syrian banks which were subject to sanctions by other countries, such as the United States, citing a policy of remaining politically neutral.

SWIFT ignored years of pressure linked to Iran’s nuclear program, and only cut off Iranian banks in 2012 after the EU passed specifically tailored sanctions. SWIFT is overseen by the central bank of Belgium which is subject to EU law.

“The DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) banks remaining on the network are no longer compliant with SWIFT’s membership criteria,” SWIFT spokeswoman Natasha de Teran said in a statement.

“As a result, these entities will no longer have access to the SWIFT financial messaging service. Given the increased ongoing international attention on the DPRK, SWIFT has informed the Belgian and EU authorities,” she added.

Last week, the Belgian authorities said they would no longer allow SWIFT to provide services to North Korean banks which were under U.N. sanctions.

That followed a U.N. report in February that said North Korea was relying on continued access to the international banking system to flout sanctions imposed in relation to its nuclear program.

Former SWIFT chief executive Leonard Schrank said the only previous occasions he could remember when SWIFT had cut off banks not subject to EU sanctions was when the banks had lost their banking license or a country’s central bank had ceased functioning.

“This is a very, very serious action,” he said, adding it could open SWIFT up to pressure in respect of other countries.

A spokesman for the European Commission denied leaning on SWIFT: “This is a commercial matter for SWIFT. We do not interfere in the business decisions of any such company,” he said.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and Belgian Foreign Ministry did not respond to requests for comment.

(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Germany: After Berlin Murders Chancellor Merkel Political Career Is In Jeopardy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST/WORLD POST)

THE WEEKEND ROUNDUP 

Europe was already reeling from major terror attacks in Brussels, Paris and Nice as well as Brexit and the defeat of the political establishment in the Italian referendum before this week. With anti-immigrant parties standing ambitiously in the wings waiting for events to further boost them into power, the worst thing that could have happened, the shoe waiting to drop, was a terror attack at Christmas time in Germany by an asylum-seeker linked to Islamist terror groups. It is just that which took place in Berlin this week.

That the inevitable has now occurred likely seals the political fate of Europe. Public opinion will surely turn decisively against the open-arms refugee policy of German Chancellor Angela Merkel — the most prominent defender of the troubled European project of integration and the free movement of people. Merkel’s coalition partner (yet mainstream opponent) Horst Seehofer of the Bavarian Christian Social Union, has already laid down the challenge. “We owe it to the victims, to those affected and to the whole population to rethink our immigration and security policy and to change it.” As Nick Robins-Early reports, the Alternative for Germany party and other anti-immigrant groups are already capitalizing on the incident. One AfD leader called those killed “Merkel’s dead.”

Alex Görlach hopes that Merkel’s considerable political skills can save the day by adjusting the Europe-wide refugee policy in the wake of this week’s tragedy. That she is also the only European leader who can stand up to the next American president, Görlach notes, could be a political asset.

Yet, even if the chancellor survives, the damage has already been done. The European idea, which has been losing luster for years, looks to be the latest and most consequential casualty of a world in turmoil that stretches from the rubble of Aleppo to the World War II memorial ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, near where the Christmas market attack took place in Berlin.

Writing from Germany, Stefan Schmidt argues that his fellow citizens should resist calls to blame anyone but the perpetrator while continuing to embrace the values of an open, but inevitably vulnerable, society. In a similar vein,Sebastian Christ writes from Berlin that, “We can’t give in to those who want to force their hate-filled world view on us. … On top of everything, we must continue to hold on to freedom for ourselves. I will definitely continue going to Christmas markets in Berlin.”

Picking up on the theme in the back of everyone’s mind about Muslims at Christmas, Dean Obeidallah fondly remembers his Muslim father, born near Jesus’ birthplace of Bethlehem, hanging Christmas lights on their home in New Jersey as a child. He also surveys other American Muslims who partake in the holiday, including Aasif Mandvi.

Unfortunately, the attack in Germany wasn’t the only attack we saw this week. Another act that shocked the world took place in Ankara, where the Russian ambassador to Turkey was assassinated. John Tures, who has studied the different motivations and effectiveness of “lone wolf” versus “wolf pack” terrorists linked to organized extremists, argues that preventing future attacks, whether of the kind in Berlin or Ankara, requires being able to distinguish between these two threats.

Details are still emerging about the attack in Ankara, but it appears to be an apparent act of revenge over the Kremlin’s key role in the brutal assault on Aleppo in recent weeks. As Alex Motyl writes, more such attacks can be expected due to Putin’s Syria policy. “Anti-Russian terrorism is the new normal,” he says. Turkish journalist Ilgin Yorulmaz ponders the timing of the assassination in Ankara, which came on the eve of a tripartite meeting of Russia, Turkey and Iran concerning Syria, and reports that some suspect a geopolitical aim. “A strong NATO member,” she writes, “Turkey may have found a new ally in Russia, and possibly even Iran, to become a game changer in the Middle East.”

This week also saw the last evacuations out of Aleppo. Dr. Ahmad Tarakji, whose organization has been working on the ground in the besieged city, offers a detailed account of the humanitarian catastrophe there, which he says is far from over after the forced relocations. “The world has failed the people of Aleppo time and time again,” he writes, “but it’s not too late to act now to help those seeking refuge somewhere else. The international community must do everything in its power to protect these most vulnerable of people. They continue to suffer while the world is standing idly by.”

Writing from Moscow before the Syrian regime claimed control over all of Aleppo,Vladimir Frolov proposes that the best course for the Kremlin now would be, “declaring victory in Aleppo, scaling down its military operations against the rebels, refocusing its air war on ISIS in a new collaborative effort with the U.S. and pressuring the Assad regime into a political settlement.”

Returning to the hot issue of Russian influence meddling in the affairs of democracies, Toomas Hendrik Ilves knows from whence he speaks. In 2007, the former president of Estonia experienced a Kremlin-led cyberattack on his government, banking and news media servers. He expects more such attacks in Europe as elections loom. “The conundrum that Europe will face in the coming year,” he writes from Tallinn, “is whether or not to use illiberal methods to safeguard the liberal state. … Because of cyberattacks and fake news, we can already imagine the problem all democratic societies will face in future elections: how to limit lies when they threaten democracy?”

In an exclusive interview, former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski claims Russian President Vladimir Putin was directly involved in the effort to tip the recent American election scales in Trump’s favor. “Yes. Russian intelligence was involved, no question,” he says, “Yes. Putin plays that kind of direct role. Russian intelligence is not some independent agency. It is an agency of the state organized for specific political purposes. Putin absolutely controls the state apparatus. No doubts there.” He also warns that “stupid irritations” over Taiwan risk derailing America’s most important foreign policy relationship with Beijing. “A world in which America and China are cooperating,” Brzezinski underscores, “is a world in which American influence is maximized.”

One of the hottest issues in the U.S. presidential campaign was Donald Trump’s pledge to build a wall with Mexico. Writing from Mexico City, Homero Aridjis and James Ramey offer a highly innovative proposal: Instead of Trump’s wall, they want to build a border of solar panels. “It would have a civilizing effect in a dangerous area,” they contend. “Since solar plants use security measures to keep intruders out, the solar border would serve as a de facto virtual fence, reducing porousness of the border while producing major economic, environmental and security benefits on both sides.” Such an installation, they continue, “would make trafficking drugs, arms and people all the more difficult for criminal cartels. In Mexico, the solar border would create a New Deal-like source of high-tech construction and technology jobs all along the border, which could absorb a significant number of would-be migrant workers on their way to cross into the U.S. illegally, at great physical risk.”

Rolling back globalization to stem joblessness and inequality was another prime issue in the recent presidential election campaign. Branko Milanovic takes up this challenge, arguing that reversing globalization would only reduce growth rates in both the advanced and emerging economies, to no one’s benefit. “A more promising avenue for dealing with inequality in rich countries for the 21st century,” he writes, “is to reduce inequality in human and financial capital endowments. This implies, first, reversing the currently extraordinary high concentration of capital assets by giving the middle classes fiscal and other incentives to invest and own assets and, second, equalizing access to high-quality education that is increasingly monopolized by the rich.” A special Highline investigative report we publish this week traces the corporations and criminals profiting handsomely from the refugee crisis.

As America Bows Out Of World Affairs China Says ‘Thank You’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST/WORLD POST)

THE WEEKEND ROUNDUP 

President-elect Donald Trump’s “America First” policy marks an historic withdrawal from the world the United States has largely made. His administration can’t stop globalization, only diminish America’s role in governing it. For better or worse, that leaves China, the world’s second-largest economy, as the only major power with a global outlook.

In a YouTube video this week Trump rejected the Trans-Pacific Partnership that was the core of President Obama’s pivot to Asia. Economist Ed Dolan shows in charts how rejecting trade will not help, but hurt, America. He argues that the lower-skilled, less-educated and older workers who voted most heavily for Trump would almost certainly be among the losers of Trump’s trade plans. Matt Sheehan,The WorldPost’s former China correspondent, examines how Trump’s war on trade could inadvertently hurt American public higher education, which has come to rely on international students as public funding has dwindled.

Trump also announced an energy policy focusing on boosting fossil fuels, effectively signaling a withdrawal from the globally-agreed Paris accord on climate change. And, throughout the election campaign, he has sown deep doubts about America’s commitment to its worldwide web of security alliances.

An increasingly nationalistic European public, contemptuous of the European Union bureaucrats in Brussels, mired in flat growth and reeling from the crisis of a massive refugee influx, has also turned inward. Polls show that many oppose the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Russia is absorbed in reasserting influence in the neighborhood of its historical sphere of influence.

China, meanwhile, has a decades-long strategy of opening out to the world. When the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council met with President Xi Jinping in Beijing in 2013, he declared, “The more developed China becomes, the more open it will be. It is impossible for China to shut the door that has already been opened.” To that end China has put forward the “One Belt, One Road” strategy to revive the old Silk Road trading routes stretching from Beijing to Istanbul. It has established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to fund development across the region. In the wake of the TPP’s demise, China is pressing forward with its Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership to further lower tariffs among 16 nations in the Asia-Pacific region. And, as Alvin Lin and Barbara Finamore  write, China is now the defacto world leader on fighting climate change as America under Trump retreats from the battle and embraces fossil fuels.

Writing from Beijing, Shi Yinhong recognizes the strategic opportunities the American retreat present to China, which he believes will embolden Xi’s foreign policy. But he also worries about the troubles China will face from a more protectionist America and Europe. Eric Olander and Cobus van Staden see the likely neglect of Africa by the Trump administration further boosting China’s influence on that continent.

Shahed Ghoreishi thinks Iran can learn something from China’s path toward prosperity. “China has been able to move forward from its revolutionary rhetoric to develop a self-image that is relevant to its population,” he writes, “Iran has yet to do so.”

Former United Nations arms inspector Scott Ritter suggests that, as a foreign policy establishment outsider, Trump could well break the logjam on nuclear disarmament, recalling how another outsider, Ronald Reagan and his Soviet counterpart, Mikhail Gorbachev, met in Reykjavik, Iceland and “flirted with the total elimination of nuclear weapons, out of a mutual recognition by both leaders that nuclear war was unwinnable.”

Turning to the American domestic scene, I argue in a short essay that the “Great Reaction” against the political correctness of ethnic and gender politics signified by Trump’s election has been long in the making, noting that as long ago as 1991 the liberal historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. argued, “The ethnic upsurge began as a gesture of protest against the Anglo-centric culture, but today it threatens to become a counter-revolution against the original theory of America as one people, a common culture, a single nation.” If Schlesinger were alive today,” I write, “he would surely be horrified that a charlatan like Donald Trump could rise to power through divisive invective against Muslims, Mexicans and women, threatening to destroy the American republic from the reverse side of political correctness.”

Eliot Nelson warns that the “alt-right” movement that Trump has emboldened is a hate movement pure and simple, replete with Nazi-like “Hail Trump” salutes. And even President Obama, who seems more tame to Trump, has encountered some failures in his role as commander-in-chief. One agenda item Obama was not able to fulfill is closing Guantanamo Bay. Anne Richardson traces the story of one man who was wrongly imprisoned there for years.

Alex Kaufman reports that Tesla is showing what it can do by powering an entire Pacific island with renewable energy. Finally, in our Singularity series this week, we look at how we can save our history one smartphone at a time.

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ADVISORY COUNCIL: Members of the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council and Council for the Future of Europe serve as the Advisory Council — as well as regular contributors — to the site. These include, Jacques Attali, Shaukat AzizGordon Brown,Fernando Henrique CardosoJuan Luis CebrianJack DorseyMohamed El-Erian,Francis FukuyamaFelipe GonzalezJohn GrayReid HoffmanFred HuMo IbrahimAlexei KudrinPascal LamyKishore MahbubaniAlain MincDambisa MoyoLaura TysonElon MuskPierre OmidyarRaghuram RajanNouriel RoubiniNicolas Sarkozy,Eric SchmidtGerhard SchroederPeter Schwartz, Amartya SenJeff SkollMichael SpenceJoe StiglitzLarry Summers, Wu JianminGeorge YeoFareed ZakariaErnesto ZedilloAhmed Zewail, and Zheng Bijian.

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Belgium’s Main Criminal Lab Attacked

 

Belgium investigates attack on crime lab

ATTACKERS rammed a car through the gates of Belgium’s national crime laboratory yesterday in Brussels and then started a fire in what officials said may have been an attempt to destroy evidence.

Five people were arrested nearby but later released, while prosecutors said there was no confirmed link to terrorism so far. No one was injured in the fire or by a large explosion which shook houses nearby.

The incident comes as Belgium remains on high alert following suicide attacks on the capital’s airport and metro system in March which were claimed by the Islamic State group.

“This location was not chosen randomly,” said Ine Van Wymersch, a spokesman for the Brussels prosecutor’s office, adding that the institute deals with “sensitive information in connection with several ongoing cases.”

Prosecutors had opened an investigation into “deliberate arson of a building and damage by explosion,” while bomb disposal experts attended the scene. “The possibility of a terrorist act is not confirmed. It goes without saying that several individuals may have wanted to destroy evidence related to their legal cases,” Van Wymersch added.

She said that “several attackers forced their way into the institute using their car and were able to attack the building” and had apparently deliberately targeted the wing where the laboratories are located.

The incident happened in the early hours yesterday at the national criminology institute in Neder-Over-Hembeek, a northern suburb of Brussels, and near the famed Atomium tourist attraction.

Part of the building was scorched and burned out, while a burned out car was lifted from the scene by a crane. The institute is part of Belgium’s federal justice system. Among its tasks is carrying out forensic analysis for criminal cases. Belgium has been on high alert after suicide bombers struck Brussels airport and a metro station near the EU headquarters on March 22, killing 32 people.

King Obama Telling The British People “How It Is” (I don’t think the British people like getting lectured)

THIS IS A COPY POST FROM THE BELFAST TELEGRAPH NEWS PAPER OF APRIL 24th

(This IS A Re-post From Two Months Ago, I Said Then That King Obama Should Have Kept His Royal Mouth Shut. The Vote Results Proved Me Correct.)

Brexit: Furious reaction following Barack Obama’s intervention

(By Shaun Connolly, Press Association Political Correspondent)

PUBLISHED 24/04/2016

Prime Minister David Cameron greets US president Barack Obama
Prime Minister David Cameron greets US president Barack Obama

US president Barack Obama has launched a fresh intervention into the Brexit battle, warning the UK would have to wait up to a decade for a trade deal with America if it quits the EU.

Unbowed by a furious backlash from the Leave camp against his “interference” in British affairs during his visit to London, Mr Obama reinforced his stark statement that the UK would be at “the back of the queue” for a beneficial economic arrangement if it breaks away from Brussels.

“My simple point is that it’s hard to negotiate trade deals. It takes a long time, and the point is that the UK would not be able to negotiate something with the United States faster than the EU.

“We wouldn’t abandon our efforts to negotiate a trade deal with our largest trading partner, the European market, but rather it could be five years from now, ten years from now, before we were able to actually get something done,” Mr Obama told the BBC.

Denying that he was a “lame duck” president as prominent Leave figures have alleged, Mr Obama delivered a direct slap-down to the Brexit camp who had claimed the UK could cut a speedy deal with the US.

“The point I was simply making was that for those who suggested that, you know, if we could just not be entangled with the Europeans, our special relationship is going to mean that we can just cut the line and just get a quick deal with the United States, and it will be a lot more efficient, and that’s not how we think about it.

“I don’t think that’s how the next administration will think about it, because our preference would be to work with this large bloc of countries,” Mr Obama said.

The president made it clear he believed it would be damaging for the British economy to quit the EU.

“If I am a business person or a worker in Britain, and I’m looking at the fact that I already have access seamlessly with a massive market, one of the wealthiest markets in the world, that accounts for 44% of my exports, the idea that I’m going to be in a better position to export and trade by being outside of that market and not being in the room setting the rules and standards by which trade takes place, I think is erroneous,” Mr Obama said.

The president also warned that the security of the West could be weakened by a British withdrawal which took it out of communications between Brussels and Washington.

“I think we will together be less effective if we’re not in those forums, than we are currently, where we’ve got this great ally who engages in unmatched co-operation, with us in the room negotiating.

“You know, things as simple as making sure that passenger lists are shared, it took a lot of years for us to be able to negotiate that with the European Parliament and EU, and our strongest advocate for getting that done was the UK, and it was extremely helpful.

“What we do believe is that the United Kingdom will have less influence in Europe and as a consequence, less influence globally, and since we rely heavily on the UK as a partner globally on a whole range of issues, we’d like you to have more influence. We’d like you to be at the table, helping to influence other countries who may not oftentimes see things as clearly from our perspective as our British partners do,” Mr Obama said.

Mr Obama rowed back from criticism that Prime Minister David Cameron became “distracted” after the military action in Libya as the country slipped into turmoil.

“Well, I think that we were all distracted. You know, that portion of my comments, I’m sure got attention here. What maybe got less attention was my statement that one of my regrets is not fully anticipating the degree of concentration of focus that would be required after the campaign to make sure that Gaddafi wasn’t killing his own people in Libya,” Mr Obama said.

 

Obama issues stark trade warning against Brexit

Boris Johnson suggests ‘part-Kenyan’ Obama may have an ‘ancestral dislike’ of Britain

 

King Obama Telling The British People “How It Is”

THIS IS A COPY POST FROM THE BELFAST TELEGRAPH NEWS PAPER OF APRIL 24th,

Brexit: Furious reaction following Barack Obama’s intervention

By Shaun Connolly, Press Association Political Correspondent

PUBLISHED 24/04/2016

Prime Minister David Cameron greets US president Barack Obama
Prime Minister David Cameron greets US president Barack Obama

US president Barack Obama has launched a fresh intervention into the Brexit battle, warning the UK would have to wait up to a decade for a trade deal with America if it quits the EU.

Unbowed by a furious backlash from the Leave camp against his “interference” in British affairs during his visit to London, Mr Obama reinforced his stark statement that the UK would be at “the back of the queue” for a beneficial economic arrangement if it breaks away from Brussels.

“My simple point is that it’s hard to negotiate trade deals. It takes a long time, and the point is that the UK would not be able to negotiate something with the United States faster than the EU.

“We wouldn’t abandon our efforts to negotiate a trade deal with our largest trading partner, the European market, but rather it could be five years from now, ten years from now, before we were able to actually get something done,” Mr Obama told the BBC.

Denying that he was a “lame duck” president as prominent Leave figures have alleged, Mr Obama delivered a direct slap-down to the Brexit camp who had claimed the UK could cut a speedy deal with the US.

“The point I was simply making was that for those who suggested that, you know, if we could just not be entangled with the Europeans, our special relationship is going to mean that we can just cut the line and just get a quick deal with the United States, and it will be a lot more efficient, and that’s not how we think about it.

“I don’t think that’s how the next administration will think about it, because our preference would be to work with this large bloc of countries,” Mr Obama said.

The president made it clear he believed it would be damaging for the British economy to quit the EU.

“If I am a business person or a worker in Britain, and I’m looking at the fact that I already have access seamlessly with a massive market, one of the wealthiest markets in the world, that accounts for 44% of my exports, the idea that I’m going to be in a better position to export and trade by being outside of that market and not being in the room setting the rules and standards by which trade takes place, I think is erroneous,” Mr Obama said.

The president also warned that the security of the West could be weakened by a British withdrawal which took it out of communications between Brussels and Washington.

“I think we will together be less effective if we’re not in those forums, than we are currently, where we’ve got this great ally who engages in unmatched co-operation, with us in the room negotiating.

“You know, things as simple as making sure that passenger lists are shared, it took a lot of years for us to be able to negotiate that with the European Parliament and EU, and our strongest advocate for getting that done was the UK, and it was extremely helpful.

“What we do believe is that the United Kingdom will have less influence in Europe and as a consequence, less influence globally, and since we rely heavily on the UK as a partner globally on a whole range of issues, we’d like you to have more influence. We’d like you to be at the table, helping to influence other countries who may not oftentimes see things as clearly from our perspective as our British partners do,” Mr Obama said.

Mr Obama rowed back from criticism that Prime Minister David Cameron became “distracted” after the military action in Libya as the country slipped into turmoil.

“Well, I think that we were all distracted. You know, that portion of my comments, I’m sure got attention here. What maybe got less attention was my statement that one of my regrets is not fully anticipating the degree of concentration of focus that would be required after the campaign to make sure that Gaddafi wasn’t killing his own people in Libya,” Mr Obama said.

The president heaped praise on his wife Michelle, saying: “I cannot separate anything that I’ve achieved from the partnership that I’ve had with that remarkable woman. So I could not be prouder of her, and I think it’s fair to say that anything good that I’ve done, she gets a shared billing.”

Obama issues stark trade warning against Brexit

File photo dated 23/02/16 of Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who has come under fire over his attack on the "part-Kenyan" president Barack Obama. PA

Boris Johnson suggests ‘part-Kenyan’ Obama may have an ‘ancestral dislike’ of Britain

 

New Post From Creeping Sharia: Copy Pasted So That You Can Read It Too

 

New post on Creeping Sharia

After deadly Muslim terror attacks across 3 countries, DOJ launches Combating Islamophobia effort nationwide

by creeping

More taxation for Islamization…and the enforcement of Islamic blasphemy laws in the U.S.  via: Sacramento cops, Muslims, join forces to help prevent violence | The Sacramento Bee Some of Sacramento’s top cops joined forces with local Muslim leaders Thursday to battle would-be terrorists and prevent anti-Muslim backlash in the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris, […]

Read more of this post

creeping | April 18, 2016 at 11:00 AM |