Putin suspends nuclear pact, raising stakes in row with Washington

Putin suspends nuclear pact, raising stakes in row with Washington


By Dmitry Solovyov and Christian Lowe | MOSCOW

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday suspended a treaty with Washington on cleaning up weapons-grade plutonium, signaling he is willing to use nuclear disarmament as a new bargaining chip in disputes with the United States over Ukraine and Syria.

Starting in the last years of the Cold War, Russia and the United States signed a series of accords to reduce the size of their nuclear arsenals, agreements that have so far survived intact despite a souring of U.S.-Russian relations under Putin.

But on Monday, Putin issued a decree suspending an agreement, concluded in 2000, which bound the two sides to dispose of surplus plutonium originally intended for use in nuclear weapons.

The Kremlin said it was taking that action in response to unfriendly acts by Washington.

The plutonium accord is not the cornerstone of post Cold War U.S.-Russia disarmament, and the practical implications from the suspension will be limited. But the suspension, and the linkage to disagreements on other issues, carries powerful symbolism.

“Putin’s decree could signal that other nuclear disarmament cooperation deals between the United States and Russia are at risk of being undermined,” Stratfor, a U.S.-based consultancy, said in a commentary.

“The decision is likely an attempt to convey to Washington the price of cutting off dialogue on Syria and other issues.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry last week warned that Washington could halt diplomacy with Russia over the conflict in Syria unless Russia took immediate steps to stop the violence there.

Western diplomats say an end to the Syria talks would leave Moscow without a way to disentangle itself from its military operation in Syria. The operation was intended to last a few months but has now just entered its second year.


As well as issuing the decree ordering the suspension of the plutonium cleanup deal, Putin submitted a draft law on the suspension to parliament.

That draft linked the suspension to a laundry list of Russian grievances toward the United States.

It said conditions for resuming work under the plutonium deal included Washington lifting sanctions imposed on Russia over its role in the Ukraine conflict, paying compensation to Moscow for the sanctions, and reducing the U.S. military presence in eastern Europe to the levels they were 16 years ago.

Any of those steps would involve a complete U-turn in long-standing U.S. policy.

“The Obama administration has done everything in its power to destroy the atmosphere of trust which could have encouraged cooperation,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement on the treaty’s suspension.

“The step Russia has been forced to take is not intended to worsen relations with the United States. We want Washington to understand that you cannot, with one hand, introduce sanctions against us where it can be done fairly painlessly for the Americans, and with the other hand continue selective cooperation in areas where it suits them.”

The 2010 agreement, signed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, called on each side to dispose of 34 tonnes of plutonium by burning it in nuclear reactors.

Clinton said at the time that there was enough of the material to make almost 17,000 nuclear weapons. Both sides back then viewed the deal as a sign of increased cooperation between the two former Cold War adversaries.

Russian officials alleged on Monday that Washington had failed to honor its side of the agreement. The Kremlin decree stated that, despite the suspension, Russia’s surplus weapons-grade plutonium would not be put to military use.

(Additional reporting by Denis Dyomkin and Alexander Winning; Editing by Richard Balmforth)


Bankers Dropping Like Flies–72 Suspicious Deaths In One Year

[Astonishing List of 72 Top Bankers Dead and No Natural Causes!]

48 suspicious banking deaths

Our advice is if JP Morgan offers you a job: politely decline. The list of top level bankers dying under suspicious circumstances has been growing rapidly in recent months.

Whether these are genuine deaths or something more sinister one thing is for certain, banking is becoming one of the most dangerous industries to be involved in right now with an extremely high death per employee ratio.

The causes of death given for some of the bankers seems quite odd to say the least including one banker shooting himself 8 times with a nail gun and another being crushed to death by their own SUV.

With the global financial system heading towards a major crash in the near future are these people buckling under the pressure of what they see coming or are they being silenced because of what they know?

We can only assume it’s a little of both.

Here’s the list of top level bankers who have died recently:

DEAD (48)

July – Julian Knott, 45, JPMorgan Executive Director,Global Tier 3 Network Operations, SELF-INFLICTED GUNSHOT WOUND

June – Richard Gravino, 49, Application Team Lead, JP Morgan, SUDDEN DEATH cause unknown/pending

June – James McDonald – President & CEO of Rockefeller & Co – apparently self-inflicted, GUNSHOT WOUND

May – Thomas Schenkman, 42, Managing Director of Global Infrastructure, JP Morgan, SUDDEN DEATH, cause unknown/pending

May – Naseem Mubeen – Assistant Vice President ZBTL Bank, Islamabad, SUICIDE jumped

May – Daniel Leaf – senior manager at the Bank of Scotland/Saracen Fund Managers, FELL OFF A CLIFF

May – Nigel Sharvin – Senior Relationship Manager Ulster Bank manage portfolio of distressed businesses, ACCIDENTAL DROWNING

April – Lydia (no surname given) 52, France’s Bred-Banque-Populaire, SUICIDE jumped

April – Li Jianhua, 49, Non-bank Financial Institutions Supervision Department of the regulator, HEART ATTACK

April – Benedict Philippens, Director/Manager Bank Ans-Saint-Nicolas, SHOT

April – Tanji Dewberry – Assistant Vice President, Credit Suisse, HOUSE FIRE

April – Amir Kess, co-founder and managing director Markstone Capital Group private equity fund, CYCLIST HIT BY CAR

April – Juergen Frick, Bank Frick & Co. AG, SHOT

April – Jan Peter Schmittmann – former CEO of Dutch Bank ABN Amro, (Possibly suicide, SHOT)

April – Andrew Jarzyk – Assistant Vice President, Commercial Banking at PNC Financial Services Group, MISSING/DEAD

March – Mohamed Hamwi – System Analyst at Trepp, a financial data and analytics firm, SHOT

March – Joseph Giampapa – JP Morgan lawyer, CYCLIST HIT BY MINIVAN

March – Kenneth Bellandro, former JP Morgan, SUICIDE jumped

Feb – John Ruiz – Morgan Stanley Municipal Debt Analyst, died suddenly, NO CAUSE GIVEN

Feb – Jason Alan Salais, 34, Information Technology specialist at JPMorgan, FOUND DEAD outside a Walgreens pharmacy

Feb –  Autumn Radtke, CEO of First Meta, a cyber-currency exchange firm, SUICIDE

Feb – James Stuart Jr, Former National Bank of Commerce CEO, FOUND DEAD

Feb – Edmund (Eddie) Reilly, trader at Midtown’s Vertical Group, SUICIDE

Feb – Li Junjie, JP Morgan, SUICIDE

Feb – Ryan Henry Crane, SUDDEN DEATH cause unknown

Feb – Richard Talley, UNKNOWN CAUSE

Jan – Gabriel Magee, SUICIDE

Jan – William ‘Bill’ Broeksmit, HUNG/POSSIBLE SUICIDE

Jan – Mike Dueker, SUDDEN DEATH cause unknown

Jan – Carl Slym, SUICIDE

Jan – Tim Dickenson, SUDDEN DEATH cause unknown

Dec 2013 – Robert Wilson, a retired hedge fund founder, apparent SUICIDE leaped to his death from his 16th floor residence

Dec 2013 – Joseph M. Ambrosio, age 34, Financial Analyst for J.P. Morgan, died suddenly from Acute Respiratory Syndrome

Dec 2013 – Benjamin Idim, CAR ACCIDENT

Dec 2013 – Susan Hewitt – Deutsche Bank, DROWNING

Nov 2013 – Patrick Sheehan, CAR ACCIDENT

Nov 2013 – Michael Anthony Turner, Career Banker, CAUSE UNKOWN

Nov 2013 – Venera Minakhmetova Former Financial Analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, CYCLIST HIT

Oct 2013 – Michael Burdin, SUICIDE

Oct 2013 – Ezdehar Husainat – former JP Morgan banker, killed in FREAK ACCIDENT when her SUV crushed her to death

Sept 2013 – Guy Ratovondrahona -Madagascar central bank, Sudden death – cause not confirmed

Aug 2013 – Pierre Wauthier, SUICIDE

Aug 2013 – Moritz Erhardt, SUICIDE

July 2013 Hussain Najadi CEO of merchant bank AIAK Group, SHOT

July 2013 Carsten Schloter, SUICIDE

July 2013 Sascha Schornstein – RBS in its commodity finance, MISSING

April 2013 David William Waygood, SUICIDE

Mar 2013 – David Rossi – communications director of troubled Italian bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), SUICIDE


Fang Fang – JP Morgan, China, DISGRACED

Nick Bagnall – Director at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, son accidentally killed himself while trying to re-enact a Tudor hanging

Robin Clark – RP Martin -Wolf of Shenfield City banker shot, SURVIVED

Kevin Bespolka – Citi Capital Advisors, Dresdner Bank, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, Seriously injured and son dead

Robert Wheeler, 49, a Deutsche Bank financial advisor, DISGRACED

Chris Latham – Bank of America, ON TRIAL, Murder for Hire

Igor Artamonov – West Siberian Bank of Sberbank, Daughter found dead (POSSIBLE SUICIDE)

Hector Sants, Barclays – resigned due to stress and exhaustion, after being told he risked more serious consequences to his health if he continued to work – a remarkable turnaround as the Church reportedly approached him two months later and was told he had made a full recovery,


April 21st Bruce A. Schaal, 63, died suddenly Banker in Twin Lakes for 35 years

April 20th Keith Barnish 58, Died Suddenly (Still working as Senior Managing Director at Doral Financial Corporation. Previously Bear Stearns, Bank of America Senior Vice President

March 12th Jeffrey Corzine, 31, son of MF Global CEO and Chairman Jon Corzine involved in major banking crime was found dead in an apparent suicide.

Keiran Toman, 39, former banker who believed he was being stalked by a reality TV crew starved to death in a hotel room, an inquest heard today.
An inquest was opened after his death in July 2010 but his family asked for a second hearing as they were not informed. Police found all of Mr Toman’s possessions in the room, but despite documents mentioning his family, failed to tell them he had died.

Nicholas Austin, 49, A former bank manager from Hersden died after drinking antifreeze in an effort to get high. was found in a coma by his wife Lynn at their home in Blackthorne Road on October 5. He died the same day.

The Futility of Jihadi De-Radicalization Programs

The Problem With the Effort to De-Radicalize Jihadis


Islamic extremism is a phenomenon that that may lie beyond the reach of the state.

The terrorist attack earlier this month in New York followed a pattern that has become at once predictable and puzzling. A troubled young man, failing to make something of his life, grows alienated from his family, community, and country. He embraces a radical jihadist ideology that promises redemption in return for murder, then proceeds to act on that ideology by trying to kill as many people as possible.

Ahmad Khan Rahami was the latest suspect in a long list of young males, radicalized online and abroad, who have attempted to carry out mass carnage in the name of Islam. More than 100 people have been arrested in the United States since 2014 for supporting ISIS. Two hundred and fifty Americans have traveled or attempted to travel to ISIS territory. Compared to Europe, these numbers are quite low, but it is the possibility of a single catastrophic attack that makes the terrorist problem so acute and the biographical patterns of recent attackers so alarming.

Following every terrorism-related incident there is a frenetic search for clues to explain the attacker’s path to radicalization. Almost always, it becomes evident that the jihadi in question reached a mental breaking point that preceded his rebirth as a self-described martyr. Something in the person cracked. This fracturing of identity, a dismemberment of the self, led to what psychologists call a “cognitive opening.” An existential vacuum was created in their minds, allowing the germ of jihadist ideology to implant itself, metastasize, and transform the ordinary man into a mass-murderer.

This was the trajectory of Rahami: he fathered a child while still in high school, dropped out of college, and physically abused his family. It was the trajectory of the Pulse night club shooter, Omar Mateen: violent since his middle school years, dismissed from his job, tortured by feelings of homosexuality. It was the trajectory of countless European jihadis who were uniformly loners, anti-socials, petty criminals, and, in most cases, drug dealers or heavy drug users. (“He often slept during the day,” said the wife of one of last year’s Paris jihadis. “The number of joints that he smoked was alarming.”) It’s a familiar narrative of alienation fueling extremist religiosity, which in turn fuels extreme carnage.

It is facile to pin the blame on Islam or Muslim culture alone. Rahami’s father told the FBI that his son was engaged in terrorism, and Muslims themselves are the greatest victims of jihadist violence. Researchers who study the radicalization problem note that terrorists are created in basements, not prayer halls. And a significant number of Muslims who become radicals were not born into Islam but converted in adulthood, evidently seeing in the religion a path to internal harmony.

The psychological element in these terrorist crimes has prompted a fresh look at how to confront them. Last year, the White House held a summit on Countering Violent Extremism, pledging to work with local communities to stage an intervention on suspected radicals before they commit crimes. But by far the most common buzzword for how to deal with jihadism is “de-radicalization,” a process by which an individual with terrorist sympathies is given counseling, therapy, and intellectual sessions to convince him to abandon his radical views.

A number of European and Middle Eastern countries have implemented de-radicalization programs already. The most prominent program is run by the Saudi government. Not typically known for its humane treatment of prisoners (or anyone else), the Saudis have special prisons for convicted jihadis that provide the inmates with big-screen TVs in their rooms, free health care, a monthly stipend, art therapy, and access to gyms and swimming pools. While the detention centers have the look and feel of a luxurious spa, their purpose is clear: to rid the jihadis of what the Saudis call “ideological sickness” by bringing in psychologists, therapists, and clerics to teach the “correct” Islamic view on matters of law and violence.

It’s a tough proposition because the ultra-conservative Saudi kingdom and ISIS are ideological cousins—differing only in their methods. The Saudis initially claimed that their program had a 100 percent success rate, but a number of graduates from their de-radicalization program have joined Al Qaeda. The recidivism rates are difficult to ascertain, but in any event, the scale of the Saudi program and its geographical location make it sui generis.

This past April, a federal judge in Minnesota created the first de-radicalization program in the United States for four Minnesotans convicted of supporting ISIS. The jihadis will meet with a leading psychology expert who will assess their motives and histories, and work with them to understand why they were drawn to ISIS. This will be the basis from which, it is hoped, the individuals in question will be purged of their jihadist fantasies. While the program is in its beginning stages, it will be watched by prosecutors and judges across the country to see if it can be replicated in other cities.

But there are a number of reasons to be cautious—even suspicious—of any such efforts to deprogram extremists. None of these de-radicalization efforts have been proven to be effective, according to studies. A RAND report concluded, “There are not enough reliable data to reach definitive conclusions about the short-term, let alone the long-term, effectiveness of most existing de-radicalization programs.”

This should not come as a surprise, even with all the years that have passed since 9/11 and all the countries that have instituted such top-down de-radicalization programs. Jihadis hijack the Islamic texts in pursuit of glory, narcissistically ventriloquize the supposed grievances of a billion Muslims, and shamelessly blame the blood they shed on America’s sins. I say “shameless” because of the non-sequitur that jihadis employ: Both Ahmad Khan Rahami and Omar Mateen justified the mass targeting of innocents, on the streets of New York and in an LGBT bar, because the United States was bombing … ISIS, a terrorist group that enslaves its ideological opponents and slaughters women and children. It is to be expected that efforts to de-radicalize such disturbed individuals would meet roadblocks.

Of course, there are outlier cases. One American man who was a recruiter for Al Qaeda found solace in the works of John Locke and other Enlightenment thinkers in prison, and now teaches at George Washington University’s extremism program. But his path out of the dark tunnel of extremism was a self-generated one, and therefore anomalous. Any man or woman, given the great texts of philosophy and history, can annex wisdom out of books and change what they believe. It is in this sense that Hannah Arendt called the act of thinking “a dangerous activity.” The ability to see more than a single shade of truth, and to question the pretensions of all received authority, opens new vistas. But thinking is dangerous precisely because it undercuts any solid, holy crutch that can be leaned on for support. The problem with jihadis is that they worship the very opposite of critical thinking—a cheap and all-encompassing ideology that provides easy answers to life’s most difficult questions.

Then there is the question of principle. A de-radicalization program is, in effect, a brainwashing scheme—or in some cases, a reverse brainwashing. Should the state, with its assorted arms of power, be in the business of indoctrinating acceptable views into people who are perceived to be devoid of them? It is one thing to rehabilitate convicts by offering them therapy, altering their behavior, and helping them reintegrate into society; it is quite another to try to reorient an adult’s beliefs about the divine so that he recognizes the virtues of tolerance and respect.

Instilling an ethical and moral code is primarily the responsibility of families and communities. Most of all, it is the responsibility of the individual. To figure out one’s existential dilemmas, and to suffer the pain of uncertainty and confusion, is part of what it means to be a human being. Jihadis abandon this journey and opt for an extremist, millenarian ideology that instantly gratifies their searching mind. In this way, jihadism is more like an analgesic than a coherent doctrine, curing these young men of their internal agony, consoling their rootless existences, and paving the way to a heavenly utopia.

Freud thought that human beings clung to old religious ways because we never stopped being children yearning for a father figure. There certainly seems to be a universal urge among these radicals to prove their masculinity, to validate their self-worth by submitting themselves to a barbarous patriarch. Imagine the internal loathing it must take to do this. To slaughter one’s neighbors and fellow citizens in cold blood, rationally planned, detailed, and executed. To indict one’s fellow Muslims in an unprovoked crime of resentment. To desire turning a billion of one’s co-religionists into co-conspirators by speaking in their name. Jihadism as an ideology is murder leading to paradise. Jihadism as a psychological state is the outward projection of an inner hell. It is a totalizing condition, one that cannot be exorcised by a visit to the therapist.

What makes jihadism so alluring in the first place is a desolate, depressive state of mind. It is not a psychological disorder in the clinical sense that drives a young man to a violent religious cult. Rather, it is what the cult provides—a lifeline and death wish to which an anguished mind may cling. Look no further than the descriptions of Rahami, which mirror those of ordinary suicide cases before they attempt to take their lives. “He was always in high spirits,” one of Rahami’s former classmates said about him. “Literally a ray of sunshine.” The Muslims least likely to turn into radicals are the happy ones; they have no need for a cult to affirm their value. This world is enough for them.

Karl Marx’s most quoted line is about religion being the opium of the people. But a more nuanced idea comes in the following paragraph, when Marx says that to demand that individuals abandon their religious illusions is to demand that they “abandon a condition which requires illusions.” The conditions—social, familial, sexual, emotional—that give rise to jihadism are not ones that can be cured by a government-mandated de-radicalization program. Drone strikes or longer prison sentences will not alleviate the misery of those conditions, either. But it is these conditions, the ones that have made a deathly ideology more appealing than the arduous task of daily living and suffering, that will need to be changed.

Unfortunately, there are no quick or easy answers here. But Muslim parents and American communities with Muslim populations can start by nurturing those kids who seem to be drifting off, and listening to those who seem to be lost. Because the appeal of jihadism is finally a rebuke of traditional Islam itself. What hope do these young Muslim men find in their seething holy gangs, real or virtual, that they cannot find in the mosque, or at the dinner table with their parents? Why are these young men so driven to torment that they seek refuge in the darkest of alleys? What illusions do they crave, and why do they remain so unfulfilled by their surroundings?

“They never taught us the first thing we needed to hear,” a Muslim friend and artist said to me a few weeks ago, as we were discussing our similar religious upbringings. He was referring to the mosques and family elders we knew, the ones who to us seemed so far from our lived realities that they may as well have resided on another planet.

What was it that we hadn’t been taught, I asked my friend.

“They never taught us to love ourselves. To accept ourselves. They only told us to be afraid.”

It may be a cliche to offer love as a solution to hatred. But without it, a lost generation will continue to fester—one that sees violence as an end to itself. And that would be the ultimate illusion.

US accused of waging ‘economic war’ over Deutsche Bank

[SEE: Deutsche Bank Confirms That the Global Economy Must Collapse, Before It Can Be Fixed ]

US accused of waging ‘economic war’ over Deutsche


Guy Chazan in Berlin

A man walks past Deutsche Bank offices in London.Luke MacGregor | Reuters  A man walks past Deutsche Bank offices in London.


German politicians have accused the U.S. of waging economic war against Germany as concern continues to rise among the country’s political and corporate elite over the future of Deutsche Bank, its biggest lender.

Some of Germany’s top industrial chiefs have also rallied to the bank’s side following the market storm that last week threatened to engulf Deutsche, stressing its importance to the German economy and expressing confidence in the leadership of John Cryan, the bank’s chief executive.

Deutsche has been under intense pressure since the U.S. Department of Justice requested it pay $14 billion to settle claims of mis-selling mortgage securities last month, sparking fears about the bank’s capital levels. Shares in the bank fell below €10 to their lowest level since 1983 before bouncing back on Friday after some media reports suggested Deutsche was close to a much smaller $5.4 billion deal with the U.S. authorities.

Peter Ramsauer, chairman of the German parliament’s economics committee, told the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag that the DoJ’s move against Deutsche “has the characteristics of an economic war”.

He said the US had a “long tradition” of using every available opportunity to wage what amounted to trade war “if it benefits their own economy”, and the “extortionate damages claims” being made in the case of Deutsche Bank were an example of that.

His remarks were echoed by Markus Ferber, a member of the European Parliament from the CSU, the Bavarian sister party of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats. He told Welt that the timing and size of the DoJ’s initial request of Deutsche suggested it was a “tit for tat response” by the US authorities to the EU’s recent move against Apple. Last month, the EU ordered Ireland to claw back €13bn in taxes from the US technology company, saying it gave the company illegal state aid.

Meanwhile, some of the biggest names in German industry have expressed their support for Deutsche. “Strong German banks are important for a strong German economy,” Dieter Zetsche, boss of carmaker Daimler, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper. “This is a close connection, and it will remain so.”

Johannes Teyssen, head of utility Eon, told the same paper that Germany as a big exporter would suffer “if we can only secure access to international capital markets through banks in other countries”.

Peter Terium, head of the other big German power company, RWE, said it was “important for us to have a global player like Deutsche Bank at our side” in the international marketplace, while Joe Kaeser, boss of Siemens, said Deutsche’s management “has our complete confidence”.

Deutsche was meanwhile dealt a fresh blow at the weekend when a court in Milan ordered Deutsche, as well as two other banks — Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena and Nomura — to stand trial for a string of alleged financial crimes.

Deutsche has emphasized that its €215 billion of cash and liquid assets are sufficient to cope with any short-term stress. But analysts say the bank is short of capital, lagging its main rivals and its own target.

Hedge funds have bet heavily against Deutsche by short selling its shares. Some have also started withdrawing collateral held by the bank for derivative trades, prompting fears of a rush for the exits by clients.

Pedro Teixeira, an executive at New York-based hedge fund Nakota Management, warned that if the bank did not manage to agree a settlement with the DoJ before its shares resumed trading after the weekend, it would be “a black Monday for Deutsche”.

Ground Troops Massing Around Aleppo–US Closes Cooperation Center In Geneva

U.S. Officials: Thousands of Ground Troops Massing Around Aleppo

Article Photo

Two senior U.S. officials tell NBC News that thousands of ground troops are massing around Aleppo and they worry that the war-torn city could soon fall.

The senior U.S. officials told NBC News they hoped the rebels and residents could hold out a few more weeks, but that water is in such short supply, making the situation for those within the city’s confines more desperate

The U.S. is expected to announce in the next day or so that the U.S. personnel that had been sent forward to establish the Joint Implementation Center (JIC) are packing up and leaving Geneva. The U.S. military has fewer than 20 personnel who have been there waiting to set up the JIC— a place to share targeting information with the Russians.

The fight for Aleppo intensified after the recent collapse of a U.S.-Russia brokered cease-fire. Syria’s military launched an aggressive offensive to wrest control of rebel area.

Now Germany Wants To Send Refugees Back to Greece, Turkey

La place de Bautzen où migrants et sympathisants d'extrême-droite se sont affrontésInstead of Bautzen where migrants and far-right supporters clashed

Germany Wants Migrants Sent Back to Greece, Turkey


Germany called Sunday for asylum seekers who entered the European Union via Greece to be forced to return there, while also urging Athens to send more migrants back to Turkey.

In an interview with a Greek daily, German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere said he wants to reinstate EU rules which oblige asylum seekers to be sent back to Greece as the first EU country they reached.

“I would like the Dublin convention to be applied again… we will take up discussions on this in a meeting with (EU) interior ministers” later in October, he told the Greek daily Kathimerini.

The Dublin accord gives responsibility for asylum seekers’ application to the first country they reach — which put Greece on the frontline of more than a million migrants who arrived in the EU last year.

The accord also says asylum seekers should be sent back to the first country they arrived in if they subsequently reach another EU state before their case is examined. A huge proportion of the migrants ended up in Germany.

But this clause was suspended for Greece in 2011 after the country lost an EU legal complaint which condemned the mistreatment of migrants seeking international protection.

“Since then, the EU has provided substantial support, not only financially,” to Greece to improve its asylum seeker procedures, the German minister said.

– ‘Greece must expel more’ –

In an interview on German television Sunday evening, De Maiziere also criticised Athens for failing to fully implement an EU agreement with Turkey to return migrants there.

The EU reached a deal with Turkey in March to stop the influx to the Greek islands in return for financial aid and eased visa conditions for its citizens. But the deal has looked shaky in the wake of a coup attempt in Turkey in July.

“Greece must carry out more expulsions,” he told the ARD television station.

De Maiziere had already in August highlighted the need to reinstate the Dublin rules, provoking an outcry from Athens.

Greece stressed it was already coping with over 60,000 refugees and migrants blocked on its territory after countries further north on the so-called Balkan route closed their borders to the massive influx, notably fleeing the Syrian conflict.

De Maiziere said he was conscious of the “strong reactions” of Greeks, as well as the huge number of migrants being dealt with by Greece as an EU frontline state.

But “that doesn’t annul the need” to reinstate the Dublin rules, he said, stressing that “criticism of the convention not being applied keeps increasing in Germany.”

The German minister, who has just revised the number of asylum seekers who arrived in Germany last year to 890,000 — down from a previous estimate of 1.1 million — reiterated Berlin’s commitment to taking its share of refugees who arrived in Greece and Italy in 2015 and the start of 2016.

“Germany is ready to welcome up to 500 people per month” from the two countries, he said.

Colombian People Overwhelmingly Reject FARC Peace Deal

Photo: Presidencia de la República

“No” wins plebiscite: Colombians reject FARC peace accord

the-city-paper-bogota  BOGOTA


When the polls closed at 4 pm across Colombia, more than 34.8 million were eligible to cast their vote in the historic peace plebiscite. With a “Yes” or “No” on the ballot, voter turnout was steady throughout the day despite a rainy start in most of the country. The Colombian capital had 12,078 booths set up to receive voters from 8 am onwards.

Colombians residing in 56 countries also cast their votes to accept or reject the Final Accord signed on September 26 between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group.

The first bulletin from the Civil Registrar came in 15 minutes after the polls officially closed, reporting “Yes” with slight margin of votes (33,873) over “No” (30,070). By bulletin No. 4 at 4:20 pm, “Yes” had 1,623,316 and “No” 1,605,554.

Due to the heavy rain affecting much of the coast from Hurricane “Matthew” only 2,500 voters turned out in Santa Marta, well below the expected 9,000 during early hours of voting. When polls closed in the coastal city “Yes” counted 49,797 votes (53.56%) versus 43,163 (46.43%) for “No.”

In order for “Yes” to win and ratify the final accord with FARC, more than 4,536,993 votes were needed to be cast nationwide. When the Colombia’s Constitutional Court approved the peace plebiscite on July 18, it lowered the voting threshold to this mark, which represents 13% of national registered voters.

By 4:30 pm, the “Yes” vote was narrowly surpassing “No” with 50.9% versus 49.9%. The voting threshold was met with the official bulletin No. 6 at 4:40 pm with “Yes” leading marginally with 5,235,558 votes over “No” with 5,234,986 — a difference of just 572 votes.

In the Colombian capital Bogotá, “Yes” surpassed “No” by 308,679 votes, winning the day 56.07% to 43.92%.

By bulletin No. 8 at 4:50 the tide had turned against “Yes.” With 91% of all voting across the country counted, “No” held a 50.10% to 49.89% lead (5,811,512 to 5,786,783).

By bulletin No. 10 at 4:55 pm, “No” maintained its narrow lead with 6,255,373 votes compared to the 6,203.480 of “Yes.”

The peace plebiscite aimed to break voter apathy regarding the peace process with FARC that lasted almost four years in Havana, Cuba. But an hour after the polls closed, some 13 million Colombians had cast their votes, showing important participation in the democratic process.

After more than a half century of conflict, the plebiscite summed up in one question the original six points of an agenda that both sides set out to address beginning in August 2012. On Monday, September 26, President Juan Manuel Santos signed with FARC’s “Timochenko” the 57-year-old revolutionary Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, the final accord during a televised ceremony in Cartagena attended by 15 presidents and U.N Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Colombia’s security forces confirmed that there were no reports of violence during the voting day Sunday.

By 5:10 pm the National Registrar released bulletin No. 11 with “Yes” heading towards defeat with 6,270,730 votes (49.77%) and “No” with 6,328,501 votes (50.22%).

By the time bulletin No. 15 was released, with the total national vote count at 99.25%, “Yes” had lost the day — by just 62,350 votes. It came up short at 49.75% (6,346,055 votes) while “No” sat at 50.24% (6,408,350 votes).

The upset has sent shock waves across the country.

Upon receiving the news that “No” clinched victory, the FARC tweeted “We don’t have a plan B.” During the peace signing ceremony in Cartagena, “Timochenko” assured Colombians that their objective is to form a political party and not return to war. On this historic Sunday, “Timochenko” released the following tweet: “We are convinced that all Colombians can overcome their difficulties and smile with hope for the future.”

The question that was put to Colombians on the ballot — “Do you support the Final Accord for the End of the Conflict and the Construction of a Stable and Lasting Peace?” — faced opposition by those who claimed that “supporting” peace does not equate to “approving” a peace that hands out impunity to FARC combatants.

With the large voter turn out Sunday across Colombia and a clear rejection of the peace agreement with the oldest guerrilla insurgency in the world, the political future of the 65-year-old President Santos appears to be uncertain. Upon receiving news of the “No” victory,  Santos called an emergency meeting at the presidential palace Casa de Nariño with all his ministers and chief peace negotiators. President Santos has staked his presidency on a “Yes” victory and mandate for peace.

All polls leading to voting day suggested “Yes” would have a decisive victory over “No.”

In Medellín, Colombia’s second-largest city, “No” won with 62.97% of the votes.

In voting overseas, Colombians gave “Yes” a mandate with 40,907 votes (54%).

The head of state addressed the nation at 7:00 pm stating “Tomorrow I will call on all the political forces — particularly those that demonstrated “No” today — to hear them and encourage dialogue and determine the way forward.”

President Santos also confirmed that the chief peace negotiator, Humberto De la Calle, and High Commissioner for Peace Sergio Jaramillo, will head to Cuba to brief the FARC negotiators on the outcome of the political debate.

After President Santos’ four-minute speech, the FARC’s “Timochenko” sent out an official statement: “The FARC maintain their will of peace and reiterate their disposition to use only the word as a weapon to build the future. To all Colombians who dream of peace, you can count on us. Peace will triumph”

The war with FARC has claimed 260,000 lives during more than a half century of conflict. The deadline for the demobilization of the 13,000-strong guerrilla now appears uncertain.

With the peace signing between their top commander “Timochenko” and President Santos last month, FARC fighters were beginning to move to 28 U.N.-monitored “verification zones” in order to begin the handover of weapons and process of reintegrating back into society. The razor-thin margin on Sunday reflects deep divisions among Colombians regarding a peace process that was four years in the making.

The “No” victory at the polls Sunday, October 2, means the 297-page Final Accord with FARC cannot be implemented.