Perks of being in NATO: New HQ has big screen to watch World Cup

By ethan / June 23, 2018

It’s the world’s biggest military alliance, with 29 member countries, but the best perk of being a NATO member may be the big screen at the alliance’s new $ 1.23 billion headquarters, which is perfect for watching the World Cup.

The unexpected advantage was advertised by none other than the top official of the alliance. “It’s one of the many benefits of being part of NATO,” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg quipped on Thursday, pointing to the giant TV screen behind him. His pitch came during a press conference with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Louis Michel.

“Norway, my country, didn’t qualify, but ten NATO allies… have qualified, so there are actually quite good chances that a NATO ally will become world champion,” Stoltenberg said, wishing Michel success in Belgium’s match against Tunisia on Saturday.

The countries he was referring to are Belgium, Germany, England, Spain, Croatia, Poland, Portugal, France, Iceland and Denmark. The World Cup is being hosted by Russia, the country NATO was created to oppose in the first place and which it paints as a major security challenge for Europe nowadays.

The former PM of Norway, who has been the civilian chief of NATO since October 2014, further praised the “very beautiful and stunning building,” which the alliance recently finished moving into.

Located on Boulevard Leopold III in Brussels, the sprawling glass-and-steel complex serves as the workplace for more than 4,000 NATO staff. The grandiose compound features a 105-foot-high (32 meters) entrance, and it replaces the old headquarters built in 1967.

Promotional photos of the new HQ on the NATO website avoid the aerial view of the facility, however, possibly because of some uncalled-for resemblance that some observant Twitterati spotted. The eight “claws” emerging from the central hub are not unlike four sig-runes, which have a bad name since the lightning-bolts were picked as an insignia by Nazi Germany’s notorious SS.

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Euro irreversible, says German finance minister after Merkel & Macron agree on Eurozone budget

By ethan / June 23, 2018

The euro is here to stay and serve as a guarantor of a stronger, more cohesive Europe, Germany’s finance minister said as he commended French President Emmanuel Macron for spearheading the effort.

In an interview with the Rheinische Post on Saturday, Olaf Scholz argued that the future of Europe’s single currency no longer hangs in the balance with Greece getting back on its feet after a long recession and Paris and Berlin agreeing on a vision for how to reform the EU.

Asked if the euro will still exist in 10 years, Scholz has said he has no doubt about it.

“Yes, the euro is irreversible. It secures our common future in Europe,” the German minister said.

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© Yiannis Kourtoglou

While the single currency seems to have finally weathered the European financial crisis, Europe should not sit idle, but be prepared for challenges that lie ahead, Scholz cautioned.

“The euro is doing well. We now have to make sure during the good times that we, in the eurozone, are prepared for worse times.”

Speaking on the recent rapprochement between Germany and France that saw German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Macron agreeing earlier this month to create a eurozone budget by 2021, Scholz argued that the new-found trust between two European powerhouses should be credited to Macron.

“We have a new momentum in Europe and this is thanks to President Macron,” he said, adding that the agreements negotiated by the two leaders at Meseberg Castle outside Berlin reinforce “the house of Europe.”

“It contains a sealed roof that withstands future storms and rainy days,” he said.

Ahead of the talks, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire suggested that the fate of the eurozone would depend on their outcome, calling them “the moment of truth for the Franco-German relationship.”

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People in traditional clothes march during Oktoberfest parade in Munich © Michaela Rehle

Merkel herself praised the results of the meeting that paved the way for the new joint eurozone budget calling it “a new chapter” that would boost the “convergence within the eurozone.”

Scholz has dismissed the argument brought up by some of the euro’s critics that it failed as a means of integration. In that, he, oddly enough, invoked the example of the US.

“Europe would be less united and less strong without a common currency. Even the US is a country with the [single] currency, even though they have regions that are developing very differently,” he said, brushing off arguments that the eurozone is, in its present form, not a state. Moreover, he argued that part of the challenges the EU has faced over the years stem from the EU’s focus on developing a common market while turning a blind eye to common politics.

“Citizens want Europe to be more effective in foreign and security policy, in securing external borders, in dealing with flight and migration, in responding to the question of how we can technologically compete with the US and China,” he said, stressing that “as nation-states alone, we will not be able to secure our future.”

Merkel and Macron’s wish to pool individual European nations’ finances into a kind of a joint budget, the terms of which are yet to be thrashed out, did not sit well with the German Chancellor’s Bavarian allies. Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Soeder said that the move is premature, as the EU is still battling the debt crisis, and it would ultimately lead to German taxpayers salvaging troubled EU economies.

“We don’t want a community of debt,” he said on Thursday.

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Mosul & Aleppo: What MSM didn’t tell you happened after liberation of 2 cities (PHOTOS)

By ethan / June 22, 2018

Aleppo and Mosul, cities that endured some of the worst urban warfare in the 21st century, have quite different liberation stories, but they are alike in the way media treated them with oblivion once the post-war struggle began.

Both the Syrian city of Aleppo and Iraq’s Mosul found themselves gripped in fierce battles in late 2016. Syrian forces were trying to liberate the eastern part of Aleppo from militant groups to end the mortar shelling, which was killing civilians in the western half, and to begin rebuilding the war-ravaged districts of the city. An ambitious Russia-backed effort to evacuate civilians from the warzone set up humanitarian corridors. It was the US-backed Iraqi battle for Mosul, however, that captured the Western media’s favor as a heroic struggle to liberate civilians from Islamic State (IS, ISIS/ISIL), while the war in Aleppo was presented in a markedly different light.

‘Bombing kitten sanctuaries’ in Aleppo

It’s no secret that the mainstream media coverage of eastern Aleppo’s liberation – more often termed as the “siege” or the “fall of Aleppo” in the West – focused exclusively on alleged atrocities of the Syrian Army rather than the full picture. Reports tugged at the emotional strings of the viewers, describing children’s hospitals, schools and blood banks destroyed in the government bombing. However, they failed to mention that the former schools and hospitals often housed militant mortars, while the “last hospital in Aleppo” was destroyed multiple times as MSM readily cited militant-linked sources without verifying them.

But perhaps the most absurd of the stories spun by the media during the battle was the “bombing” of the cat sanctuary in the city. The home for orphaned felines, which was run by Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel, who was referred to as an “ambulance driver” and “the Catman of Aleppo,” was repeatedly brought into the spotlight, highlighting the hardships of the rebel-held parts of the city.

In November 2016, the Catman reported that the facility was “bombed,” and several cats and a dog, aptly named Hope, were killed. The incident was squarely pinned on President Bashar Assad’s air forces and Russia. Photos from the scene, however, showed fragments of some crude homemade munitions and shallow craters, which were quite unlikely to have been caused by an aerial raid. The next alleged attack on the sanctuary came with the MSM’s weapon of choice – chlorine – according to the owner, who was eventually safely evacuated from Aleppo.

The man eventually settled in the militant-held western countryside of Aleppo, opening a new kitten sanctuary. The feline facility, sadly, has not received much media attention ever since.

As the battle for Aleppo ended, the media largely lost its interest in the city, forgetting about the civilians who are now working hard to rebuild a peaceful life.

Hushed strikes on Mosul

The chaotic battle for Mosul, where IS terrorists ruthlessly used civilians as human shields amid relentless US-led coalition bombing, was no less of a tragic story of suffering, but the absence of evacuations for civilians made the city warfare particularly extreme. When it came to coverage, however, the MSM mostly picked military advances while the toll of the fighting was covered in a hushed and infrequent manner.

While footage and photos of the city, taken by a few real reporters on the ground, showed the vast destruction and carnage, no widespread outrage was to be seen in the aftermath of mass civilian casualties reported. Warnings from international human rights groups, including the UN bodies, which highlighted the dire refugee situation and apparent disregard for “collateral damage” by the coalition, were also left largely unaired.

But as the battle ended and the city was pronounced liberated from IS, the story of Mosul’s struggles was seemingly cut short in the media once and for all.

But what happened next?

The battle for Aleppo ended in the very end of 2016, and the city has been vigorously striving to get back to peaceful life ever since. The cafés have reopened, the World Cup is broadcasted, and people are celebrating holidays – of several different religions – in peace.

The Old City’s Sheraton Hotel, which was turned into a Syrian Army barracks during the battle, was restored to its former glory and is open for guests.

The city is rebuilding, roads have been long cleared of rubble, and they are getting new asphalt.

Mosul, which was liberated nearly a year ago, presents a more chilling picture. The authorities still haven’t managed to collect the dead – militants, civilians and those who fought against IS.

Last week, Mosul was visited by Hollywood superstar and Special Envoy of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Angelina Jolie, who found the “worst devastation” there that she has seen in her 17 years representing the UN watchdog. The streets of Mosul’s Old City are still laying in ruins, and the stench of decomposing corpses is still in the air.

“There are bodies in this rubble that stay here and you can smell the bodies and some of them have family members that are here and they are unable to move them,” Jolie said, walking the streets where the “liberators” made the last push against IS terrorists.

Surely, life is picking up in Mosul, yet at a very slow pace, with destruction seen in the background of every photo.

Restoring hope & heritage

Historical sites in both cities sustained massive damage during the fighting. An iconic landmark of Mosul, the Grand al-Nuri Mosque, was blown up by IS militants a month before the city was recaptured by the coalition. The monument was effectively reduced to rubble, and, nearly a year after, it remains in the same state – showing only signs of further deterioration and weathering.

Aleppo Citadel, on the other hand, not only endured the battle for the city, but it actually played one of the key roles in it, serving as a stronghold for Syria’s defenders once again. While the monument was damaged during the fighting, restoration – and demining – works were launched almost immediately after the city’s liberation. Now it’s open for everyone again – come and see for yourself, it’s cheap.

Another iconic landmark of the city – the Umayyad Great Mosque – was less lucky and sustained way more serious damage, getting pierced with shrapnel and having one of its minarets toppled. While more work needs to be done, it looks way better now – and it actually serves its purpose.

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Dozens of Palestinians injured by Israeli forces during protest at Gaza border (PHOTOS)

By ethan / June 22, 2018

Dozens of Palestinian protesters have been injured by Israeli forces gathered at the Gaza border for the Great Return March, according to the Ministry of Health.

Friday’s demonstration saw 206 cases of injury and gas asphyxiation, the Palestinian Health Ministry’s spokesman wrote on Twitter. Of those injuries, 44 were live bullet wounds.

Israeli forces fired large amounts of tear gas and live bullets east of Gaza City on Friday, where protesters were burning tires to obstruct the view of Israeli snipers, Middle East Eye reported

Photos from the protest show thick clouds of black smoke and wounded demonstrators receiving treatment in medical tents.

The injuries came on a day dubbed “Friday of the Wounded,” with Palestinians turning up at the Gaza border holding balloons with the names and faces of those killed since the Great Return March demonstrations began 85 days ago.

A total of 120 people have been killed and more than 13,000 have been injured since the Great Return March began on March 30, according to the Red Cross.

Israel has been condemned for using violent actions to quell the demonstrations, on one occasion calling on the Air Force to target a single Palestinian. In another incident, the military deployed tank fire against three Palestinians.

Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch said it believes the deaths and injuries of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers may amount to war crimes. It is calling for a probe into the military’s behavior, and it believes that officials responsible should face trial and sanctions. 

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US will suffer ‘another Vietnam’ in Syria, Iranian leader’s top aide warns

By ethan / June 22, 2018

A senior adviser to Iran’s supreme leader has condemned the United States’ uninvited military presence in Syria, warning that the conflict in the country could become a second Vietnam War for Washington.

Ali Akbar Velayati, a top aide on international affairs for Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, blamed the United States for the creation of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and said that the US military’s continued presence in Syria would result in catastrophe.

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A pair of US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles. © US Air Force / Reuters

“The Americans themselves have created [IS] and Al-Nusra in Syria and now they have come onto the scene and occupied Eastern Euphrates,” Velayati said in Tehran on Wednesday, as quoted by Fars. “They should know that Syria and Eastern Euphrates will be another Vietnam for the US,” he added.

Several thousand US special forces are believed to be embedded with proxy forces in eastern Syria – although the United States military has not been invited to operate inside the country, and it has no international mandate to do so. With the war against Islamic State all but over, the US-backed forces – aided by US air support – currently occupy pockets of Syrian territory.

Although the conflict’s complexity makes it a logistical nightmare for the occupying forces, experts questioned whether the United States would ever commit enough ground forces to make its Syria operations as catastrophic as the war in Vietnam.

“Iraq after 2003 was more like a Second Vietnam because the US had so many thousands of troops occupying the country and vulnerable to attack by insurgents,” Mark Almond, director of the Crisis Research Institute in the UK, told RT. “In Syria, the Americans (British and French too) have far fewer troops on the ground – special forces – and rely on proxies to do the fighting so the capacity of local forces to inflict heavy or steady casualties on them is relatively low. The US air force is willing to attack on suspicion any forces on the ground which it considers ‘threatening’ – a vague and broad category – and there is little or nothing that Syrian forces or local militias can do against the US planes.”

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FILE PHOTO. © Aboud Hamam

However, Almond noted that without more boots on the ground, the United States and its allies will not be able to control Syrian territory in the long-term. With Washington’s policy on Syria constantly changing – US President Donald Trump announced in April that he wanted to bring the troops home, but now they are apparently digging in, from Al-Tanf to Manbij – the question now becomes whether the Pentagon is considering a larger presence in Syria.

“The Iranian official speaks theoretically: If the US continues to grow its presence in Syria it could become another Vietnam for them,” said Vladimir Batyuk, head of the Political and Military Research Unit at the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute for USA and Canada Studies. “If the United States is going to grow its presence or not is a big question. There is no consensus in Washington on this matter. If US President Trump would be the only one to decide, then the US troops would leave Syria by tomorrow.  But there are other powerful figures in Washington who are convinced that the US presence in Syria is necessary. At this point, the US is unlikely to grow its presence if the situation won’t change drastically.”

Batyuk said that since Syria’s stability is a top priority for Tehran, Velayati’s statement should be seen as a warning to Washington that “its ill-judged actions could have far-reaching consequences.” But for the time being, it’s unlikely that thousands of US soldiers in Syria will be going home in body bags – mostly because there’s only about 2,000 of them there to begin with.

“At this moment there are 2,000 US special forces in Syria. Of course, it isn’t enough for any military operations on the ground in Syria,” Batyuk said. “The US supports the Kurds and the so-called moderate rebels, who are actually Islamists in disguise. The US could use air support from the anti-ISIS coalition for some purposes but not much more. So, the concerns of Tehran officials are unlikely to materialize.”
 
Tehran’s warnings come after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in April that US forces were “positioning” themselves in eastern Syria.

“The US pledged that their only aim was to repel terrorists from Syria, to defeat [IS], but, despite all their claims, despite President Trump’s claims, the US is actually positioning itself on the Eastern bank of the Euphrates and have no intention of leaving,” Lavrov said.

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‘Bomb Romania!’ Russia declassifies secret files from first days of Nazi Germany’s attack on USSR

By ethan / June 22, 2018

Russia has published secret WWII documents to mark the 77th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the USSR. The files include an order from the Soviet command on June 22, 1941, which called for the bombing of Axis member Romania.

The project is devoted to one of the most terrible pages of Soviet history – the start of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. On June 22, the previously-unstoppable Nazi war machine launched an unannounced attack on the Soviet Union, triggering a ruthless war which killed millions.

The files, released by the Russian Defense Ministry, date back to the early 1950s and were penned by some of the most prominent generals in the Red Army at the time, including Marshal Ivan Bagramyan.

Special attention is given to a 3-page document signed by Georgy Zhukov who served as the Chief of the General Staff. The order, signed at 7:15, June 22, only three hours after the start of the Nazi invasion, makes a call “to attack the enemy forces by all means and destroy them in areas where they have violated the Soviet border.” It also states that Soviet troops shouldn’t hit the territories of Finland and Romania “until special instructions” are given. However, on the back of the last page there is a postscript from Zhukov himself: “Bomb Romania!”

Romania was a significant contributor to Nazi Germany in terms of military and extermination of Jews since the start of 1940s. The then-Romanian authorities collaborated with the Third Reich to kill over 160,000 Romanian Jews, according to Holocaust-related documents. Having previously become an Axis member, the country joined the Nazi-led invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22.

Finland, which is also mentioned in the declassified documents, wasn’t legally a part of Axis regime, however it often took part in the alliance’s operations.

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The guard of honor company during the Candle of Memory international commemorative event on the Day of Remembrance and Sorrow in Vladivostok © Denis Abramov

The documents released on Friday contain only a small part of the evidence “of the unprecedented mass heroism of the soldiers and commanders of the Red [USSR] Army, which turned Hitler’s ‘Operation Barbarossa” to dust, the statement from the ministry says. Barbarossa was the code name for Nazi Germany’s failed Blitzkrieg plan to defeat and occupy Soviet Union. The ministry also published the map of Hitler’s mass-scale operation which contains details about the deployment of Nazi forces on USSR borders and directions of the main attacks in the first days of the war.

Stories of day-to-day heroism of Soviet people throughout the whole conflict have also been revealed. This includes reports about troops in Kiev, which were one of the first to confront the Nazi war machine, and about soldiers from the whole USSR fighting side by side. Some documents include joyful news of Soviet pilots returning safely from operations, while others lament their tragic death.

The war cost the Soviet Union over 26 million lives, according to official figures. More than 8 million of them died on the frontlines, repelling the invasion of the Nazi troops and pushing for the ultimate defeat of Nazism. 

The Soviet Union bore the brunt of the Second World War with more than 75 percent of Nazi Germans’ and their allies’ forces in Europe concentrated on the Eastern Front. It was also the Eastern Front where Nazi Germany suffered 74 percent of its war losses.

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Kim Dotcom predicts US tariffs will drive cryptocurrency growth

By ethan / June 22, 2018

Kim Dotcom is predicting that Donald Trump’s burgeoning global trade war will cause stock markets to crash – and lead to a surge in cryptocurrency growth.

The internet entrepreneur took to Twitter on Friday to make his predictions as trade tensions between the US and China, and the US and the EU intensified. EU retaliatory tariffs on several US products took effect on Friday.

READ MORE: Trump trade war a ‘symptom of paranoid delusions’ – Chinese media

“Trump is putting tariffs on international imports in an attempt to make up for the income deficit resulting from his tax cuts. It’s the largest theft in history,” Dotcom said, adding that the citizens of other countries were suffering as a result of the greed of America’s one percent.

“Foreign countries and their citizens are forced to pay for US tax cuts. But they call me a pirate. LOL,“ he wrote.

Dotcom, a staunch supporter of the cryptocurrency market, believes that current circumstances will facilitate further cryptocurrency growth. He often uses Twitter to encourage his followers to invest in Bitcoin, and he has also launched his own bitcoin-based payment system, Bitcache.

READ MORE: ‘Perfect cryptocurrency’: Kim Dotcom outlines plans for new universal money

Dotcom, who holds New Zealand residency, has been fighting extradition to the US since 2012 when the US Department of Justice closed down the operations of the video sharing site he founded, Megaupload. US authorities sought the arrest of Dotcom and his partners on charges of operating an organization dedicated to copyright infringement.

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‘You can stay here after Brexit’: Home Sec Javid bizarrely tells Welsh MPs they can live in UK

By ethan / June 22, 2018

UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid has written to Welsh MPs, telling them they will be allowed to ‘continue their lives here’ after Britain leaves the EU. In the letter he also expresses how proud he is of EU citizens.

Labour MP for Cardiff Central, Jo Stevens, has taken to social media to voice her bemusement at a letter that she and Welsh Labour colleague, Carolyn Harris, MP for Swansea East, received from the Home Secretary. It outlined “his commitment” to assuring they will have settled residence status in the UK.

Stevens tweeted on Thursday: “Both me & @carolynharris24 have had a letter from @sajidjavid today telling us how proud he is that we, as #EUcitizens have made our home in the UK & this is a step towards his commitment that we can continue our lives here. Is it because we are Welsh, Sajid?” Harris replied to Stevens’ tweet saying “Im chuffed he noticed us x.”

Stevens’ revelation prompted some humorous reactions on Twitter with one follower telling the Cardiff Central MP she should reply back to Javid in Welsh to convey much thanks, which might inadvertently convince the Home Secretary that “you require an English language test,” to stay in the UK.

However, Stevens seemingly wanted to avoid trivializing the issue too much as she asked: “How can we possibly have any confidence the Home Office will deal with applications fairly, promptly & accurately?”

It comes after Javid announced that nearly 4 million EU citizens would be able to claim settled status if they could complete some basic online questions correctly – adding that decisions would be made quickly and all applications would be handled with the presumption that they will be approved.

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FILE PHOTO © Handout

Javid said: “Throughout, we will be looking to grant, not for reasons to refuse. I do not underestimate the scale of the challenge, but the Home Office already issues around seven million passports and three million visas each year, and so processing applications on the scale required is not new to us,” reports the Telegraph.

Under the proposals outlined by Javid, any EU national who comes to the UK by the end of December 2020 will have the right to settled status, as long as they pay the £65 (£32.50 for children) application fee.

An EU citizen with settled UK status would then be permitted to bring in parents, grandparents, siblings, boyfriends or girlfriends under the new scheme, denoting a much better deal than other migrants who wish to live and work here.

The Home Office has been lambasted recently for poor treatment of the Windrush generation, who arrived in the UK from Caribbean nations after World War II to address labor shortages. Former Home Secretary Amber Rudd and her predecessor, Theresa May, were singled out for their roles in the debacle that saw many of that generation denied services, losing their jobs and face deportation.

This faux pas may be genuine attempt by Javid to instill some kind of humanity to a department that is in need of a serious image makeover.

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‘Manu’ or ‘Mr President’? Macron causes stir posing with dancers at Elysee Palace

By ethan / June 22, 2018

Emmanuel Macron has caused a stir by posing for a picture with scantily clad dancers at the Elysee Palace, days after chiding a schoolboy who called him “Manu,” telling him to choose between “Mr President” and “sir.”

As France was enjoying the annual Day of Music festival, during which hundreds of free musical events take place across the country, the Elysee Palace held its own electronic music show. Its announcement was made to much fanfare and over 1,500 free tickets were handed out.

However, it was the performance of DJ Kiddy Smile and his troupe of dancers that attracted the most attention. The artist, who is an emerging LGBT icon, took to the stage wearing a provocative shirt, while his dancers were voguing on the palace steps. Macron posed for a photograph with the scantily clad crew afterwards.

Many comments on Twitter were positive, but Macron’s opponents jumped at the chance to savage the president.

“These steps have seen De Gaulle, Kennedy, Trump, and even Putin. And then there was that…” said Jordan Bardella, a spokesman for the right-wing National Rally party, formerly known as the National Front.

“Now we understand why his campaign said ‘French culture does not exist,’” said Yves d’Amecourt, a regional politician.

Macron’s critics saw the move as a slip-up for a president who prides himself on ruling from above – cool and magnanimous – and who called populism “leprosy.”

“Not sure if this is a good vaccine against ‘populist leprosy,” tweeted journalist Gabrielle Cluzel. “It’s more of a catalyst.”

“Put on stilettos and learn how to twerk. Then perhaps you will be received at the Elysee Palace,” read another tweet, while someone else asked: “Is he still Mr President of the Republic in this context or ‘How are you Manu?’”

The comment referred to an incident just days earlier when Macron scolded a schoolboy who addressed him as “Manu” and hummed the socialist anthem ‘The Internationale.’

“No, you can’t do that,” Macron snapped back. “You call me ‘Mr President’ or ‘sir.’” Macron then gave the youngster a dressing down over his socialist aspirations.

“The day you want to start a revolution, you study first in order to obtain a degree and feed yourself, okay? And then you can lecture others,” he said.

“And after that he complains that he is not respected by young people!” read another comment on Twitter.

Kiddy Smile later posted a comment on Facebook saying that he knows “what the Elysee represents in terms of oppression and history for QPOC (queer people of color) and the LGBTQIA+ community as well as the repression of migrants,” but he strongly believes in the “hijacking of power” from within.

He hijacked a bit of Macron’s power, for sure.

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Nazi-saluting drunk tries to escape on tug vehicle after EasyJet rampage

By ethan / June 22, 2018

A Northern Irish native has been sentenced to three months in jail by Antrim Magistrate’s Court after abusing and attacking staff during a drunken rampage, before trying to get away on an airport tug vehicle.

Paul Anthony Burgoyne, 51, who resides in Shepshed, Leicestershire pleaded guilty to a total of nine offenses on Tuesday, which included common assault and recklessly endangering the safety of an aircraft. He was also fined £500 ($ 660) and ordered to pay £600 ($ 795) to the plane’s captain, according to Leicestershire Live.

The commotion started on a flight from George Best Belfast City Airport to Birmingham, where Burgoyne became enraged after flight crew for the budget airline requested that he open a neighboring window blind prior to take-off.

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FILE PHOTO. © Mick Tsikas

Perturbed by what he apparently considered to be a dictatorial request, Burgoyne reacted by raising his right arm with a straightened hand and shouting: “Alright, mein Fuhrer” – a reference to the greeting reserved for the ruler of Nazi-era Germany, Adolf Hitler.

The bizarre reaction resulted in the aircraft’s pilot deeming the man unfit for travel, and requested that he be ejected from the flight. The court was told that Burgoyne did not react kindly to this request either, swearing at the pilot and crew before attempting to grab the pilot by the throat. The ensuing struggle resulted in Burgoyne smashing the pilot’s £600 ($ 795) watch. 

Once ejected from the aircraft, the chaos continued as Burgoyne turned his attention to a nearby tug vehicle. After kicking the tug, which was still attached to the plane, he attempted a drunken getaway by mounting the vehicle and grabbing its steering wheel.

He then managed to square up to another member of staff before finally being arrested.

Speaking in Burgoyne’s defense, Neil Moore said it was clear from the reports that “alcohol, other illicit substances, and fractious and toxic family relationships” led to the incident.

He described it as “an explosion of anger” and conceded that “obviously, his behavior on that plane is disgraceful.”

Moore argued that Burgoyne “is a decent member of society who holds down a decent job” having left Northern Ireland “to build a new life.”

On passing sentence, District Judge Nigel Broderick hoped the penalty would act as a warning to any others engaged in such behavior.

Despite being brought to jail after sentencing, Burgoyne was released on bail pending appeal.

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