Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Twitter suffers global outage

Twitter went down Tuesday morning on the 19th January, UK time, and became inaccessible for users around the globe. The site apparently suffered a total outage with access to the service failing on the web, mobile and its API [application programming interface, the system that applications use to speak to the Twitter service] at 08:20 GMT. Users received error messages warning the network was both "over capacity" and suffering an "internal error".

Twitter's own status board updated at 09:00, confirmed the outage, and the company's developer-facing monitoring confirmed that four of the five public APIs were down, suffering a "service disruption". At 08:47, the search API was upgraded to "performance issues". By 08:55, a second API was upgraded to "performance issues", and some users were able to sporadically access the service.

The company initially confirmed the outage by, somehow, tweeting, from its @support account. The tweet could not be seen however because Twitter was down. Twitter emailed the text of the tweet to news outlets, which read: "Some users are currently experiencing problems accessing Twitter. We are aware of the issue and are working towards a resolution."

The service was still down at 09:30 at the time of posting this article.

Update: Twitter became accessible for most users within two hours. However the downtime seriously affected the company's credibility and its stocks slumped to an all time low, falling some 8.4% to $16.43 on Tuesday, well below the price of $26 at its November 2013 initial public offering.

“The issue was related to an internal code change,” Twitter said later on its website. “We reverted the change, which fixed the issue.”

[BBC / BloombergGuardian / Telegraph / Daily MailExpressIBT / Inc]

tvnewswatch, London, UK

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Terror suspect with fake suicide belt shot dead in Paris

French police have shot dead a man who entered a police station with a knife whilst wearing a fake explosive device. The incident has once again shaken Paris and comes on the anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attacks which left 17 dead.

Only minutes before the attack President François Hollande had praised police in a speech commemorating the Paris killings in which gunmen murdered 17 people in a series of attacks at the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices and a Jewish supermarket.

In his address, Hollande said 5,000 extra police and gendarmes would be added to existing forces by 2017 in an "unprecedented" strengthening of French security.

In the shadow of the Sacré-Cœur

Thursday's attack occurred at a police station in Goutte d'Or in the 18th arrondissement of Paris not too far from the iconic Sacré-Cœur Basilica.

One witness, who was around 50 metres from the police station, told the French news station FRANCE 24 that he clearly heard the man cry "Allahu Akbar" [الله أكبر] - God is great - as he rushed toward the police station.

Pictures posted on Twitter showed the alleged assailant wearing a camouflage coat, lying on the pavement after being shot. A police bomb disposal robot appeared to be inspecting the body.

Meanwhile much of the area was locked down as police carried out investigations.

The attacker, who was carrying a mobile phone and a sheet of paper showing the black flag of ISIL, was later identified as Sallah Ali, a 20-year-old Moroccan with previous convictions for theft.

Paris in shock, again

Paris has been rocked by two series of attacks in the last year. Last January's Charlie Hebdo attacks left the city in shock and 17 dead [Wikipedia / tvnewswatch: Barbarism in Paris leaves 12 dead at Charlie Hebdo office]. Then in November last year, 130 were killed and dozens of others were injured in a series of coordinated attacks in the French capital [Wikipedia / tvnewswatch: A night of terror on the streets of Paris]   .

Reports: BBC / Sky News / CNN / France24

tvnewswatch, London, UK

Friday, December 11, 2015

Trump popularity soars despite call to ban Muslims from US

Donald Trump has once again dominated the news agenda after what many people have seen as outrageous and vile comments pouring from his lips. Trump has made immigration and the battle to defeat terrorism two of the main focuses of his campaign to become the Republican presidential nominee.

But despite his comments being ridiculed and scorned by both his fellow Republican nominees and the mainstream press his ratings have soared.


His latest declaration that Muslims should be banned from entering the United States has prompted widespread condemnation and even spread beyond America's borders.

The White House even responded by saying the statement even disqualified him from serving as president [Daily Mail].

Meanwhile on the other side of the Atlantic thousands of Britons were busy clicking on a petition to 'BAN TRUMP FROM GREAT BRITAIN' [BBC].

Even if Trump were elected President, he wouldn't be able to ban Muslims from his shores - even if he wanted to - since it would fly in the face of the American constitution - at least as it currently stands.

However, his controversial statements have resonated with large swaths of the electorate. Indeed almost two-thirds of likely 2016 Republican primary voters favoured Donald Trump's call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the US, while more than a third said it made them more likely to vote for him [Bloomberg / Fox News].

Anti-terrorism or Islamophobia

Trump insists that his stance is about security and not religion, saying that it is difficult to assess which Muslims are radicalised and dangerous and which are not.

His comments come in a week that new figures showed record numbers of people arrested in Britain on terror related charges in the year up to September. Home Office figures showed there were 315 arrests in the year to September 2015, an increase of a third on the previous year and the highest number of arrests since 2001 [BBC]. 

Whilst a significant number, some 115 individuals, did not face any further action by police, 124 [39%] of those arrested have been charged, with a further 68 [22%] released on bail. And 43 people of the 315 arrested have so far been convicted this year, a rise from 30 last year.

The figures were seemingly further proof of the severe threat of terrorism facing the UK according to MI5, and more ammunition for the likes of Trump who also claimed that parts of London were so radicalised they were essentially no-go areas even for the police.

Trump's claim of radicalised no-go areas existing in London were dismissed by the Metropolitan Police, though some individual officers have told British newspapers that Trump was right and that some parts of the capital were indeed dangerous.

One policeman told the Daily Mail that he and other colleagues feared becoming terror targets and spoke of the "dire warning" from bosses not to wear a uniform in their own car.

The threat from terrorists is also affecting people's bank balance as scammers are targeting vulnerable pensioners to fleece them of millions of pounds to fund the likes of ISIL.

This week four men were convicted over a phone scam carried out across the south of England that defrauded 18 pensioners out of a total of £600,000 that was only uncovered after an anti-terror investigation found payments in a bank account used by someone who later travelled to Syria [BBC].

The men were arrested in March this year as part of a huge investigation into large-scale fraud that was being used to fund extremists travelling out to Syria to fight alongside the likes of Islamic State [Sky News / Daily Mail].

The current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has also become embroiled in the affair since he wrote a letter on behalf of Mohamed Dahir, one of those convicted, asking for him to be granted bail when he was first charged [Daily Mail]. However, a Labour spokesman for Corbyn said he had been approached by the constituent prior to the trial and wrote a letter on his behalf as is standard for a constituency MP.

Divisive issues

The fight against ISIL has become a divisive issue. Those like Trump who call for extreme measures to counter the threat are labelled 'racists' or likened to Hitler while others who call for a moderate approach are just as much condemned for being terrorist sympathisers.

Corbyn has himself opposed military action against Islamic State militants in Syria and rejected a shoot to kill policy against terrorists on the streets of Britain. Meanwhile the British Prime Minister David Cameron caused ire in parliament after he made a flippant remark during a private meeting suggesting that those who opposed military action were 'terrorist sympathisers'. However there has been condemnation of comments made by former London Mayor Ken Livingstone who only days before the vote on Syria suggested the 7/7 bombers died for their beliefs and that the former PM Tony Blair was at fault.

"They [the 7/7 bombers] gave their lives, they said what they believed, they took Londoners' lives in protest against our invasion of Iraq," Livingstone told a shocked panel on the BBC programme Question Time [Guardian]. The comments have been widely criticised and even prompted some to call on Labour's governing National Executive Committee to consider sacking the former London mayor as the co-chair of the party's defence policy review [Mirror].

Meanwhile the hysteria concerning Trump's remarks have continued. And there have been several polls showing varying levels of support for the American politician.

One poll on the Daily Mail website indicated some 83% of respondents agreed with Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the US. A YouGov poll meanwhile indicated that only 25% of the British public agreed with the presidential candidates views [Independent].

Reactions from some politicians have been somewhat different. Speaking on the BBC programme Question Time Labour MP Caroline Flint said Donald Trump was more than just offensive and said she didn't want him within a 1,000 miles of the UK.

"This is more than Donald Trump being unreasonable. He has condemned an entire religion by saying nobody who is Muslim should be allowed into the United States of America," Flint declared, and went on to say, "I think that's racist." [though of course it's not technically racism since Islam is not a race].

Semantics aside, is Donald Trump playing into the hands of terrorists, inciting violence or as some have suggested even verging on a rekindling of the fascism seen in the 1930s. Indeed there are many who have already likened him to Adolf Hitler.

Banning him plays into the hands of the social media mob. Indeed, Trump's remarks have only served to increase his media profile and get everyone talking about him instead of his rival candidates.

Trump himself likely realises that his comments were going to create a media frenzy. He probably realises that such a policy would be almost impossible to put into action. Trump's main motivation is to provide leadership in the wake of a terror attack perpetrated by a Muslim husband and wife which saw 14 killed in a San Bernardino care center. He undoubtedly realises his grandstanding and controversial rhetoric is hot air. But he is articulating a sentiment held by millions and reinforcing himself as a protector of the American people [Daily Mail].

Ultimately, for Trump, that's what matters. In fact those that criticise him may well fall into the trap of being with the terrorists. It wasn't so long ago that George Bush declared "either you are with us or you are with the terrorists" shortly after 9/11 when he made it clear that the War on Terror may have started with al Qaeda but will not end "until every terrorist group of global reach has been found stopped and defeated" [YouTube] [Full transcript - 20/09/2001].

Growing distrust & understanding

Trump may also have a point that many are too willing to ignore.Trump wants to call a temporary halt to Muslim immigration "until America figures out what is going on."

"Adversaries may be quick to jump on Trump and make him the problem," Katie Hopkins of the Daily Mail writes, "But look around. You are too busy gazing at the fluff in your navel to see the gangrene in your foot. You lost sight of terrifying. It isn't a big, brash American untroubled by the need to be loved. It is the march of ISIS and the so-called Islamic State."

Not every Muslim is a member of ISIL or an al Qaeda sympathiser. However there is also no clear divide between extremist Muslims and peaceful ones. Indeed it is a sliding scale, from the utterly peaceful, to ambivalence to sympathising, to extremist, to a man blowing up buses in London or shooting Parisian cartoonists or concert goers. Trump says he wants to stop movement of all Muslims until one can figure out what is going on. But knowing what is going on in Muslim communities is seemingly difficult. As Katie Hopkins observes, following every terror atrocity attributed to Muslim extremists the supposed tight knit Muslim communities know nothing. "Not the local imam, not local families, no one. No one denouncing terrorism. Just a wall of silence."

Most Muslims living in the west are likely peaceful and not a threat. But maybe they should prove themselves to be more proactive at helping root out the extremists that hide in their midst. By feigning ignorance, not challenging those who preach hate in the name of Islam and not being seen to turn out those have become more extreme, those who practice Islam will only draw further suspicion. Imams and scholars also need to better explain the more extreme passages in the Koran which lays scorn on unbelievers, Jews and Christians. Such passages are fodder for both extremists and those who wish to tar Islam as a religion of hate.

Without frank debates and better understanding there will only be an us and them. And ultimately the risks of than may lead to yet more distrust between Islam and those outside the faith.

tvnewswatch, London, UK

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Social media attack ISIL with ducks as London threat grows

The terror attacks that struck Paris on Friday 13th November could "easily" happen in London, the Defence Secretary has warned. And he insisted the only way to deal with Islamic State extremists was by force. However Labour opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn remains unconvinced and says attacks on ISIL would make Britain a target. In the meantime hackers and those using social media feel that DDoS attacks and the photoshopping of images may be the answer to defeating the terror group.

Terror threat

Michael Fallon said the threat to Britain from the militants, also known as ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant], was as "potent" in the UK as it was in the French capital where 130 people were killed and 368 injured.

"More than 750 extremists from this country have travelled to Syria, and the growth in the threat shows no sign of abating," Fallon told the Sunday Telegraph. "We are seeing plots against the UK directed by terrorists in Syria, enabled through contacts with terrorists in Syria, and inspired online by ISIL's sophisticated exploitation of technology."

Air strikes

Fallon insisted that ISIL would only be beaten by force but admitted it would be harder to get the support of the Commons if Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn ordered his MPs to vote against air strikes [Telegraph].

Meanwhile BBC political correspondent Carole Walker said Michael Fallon had been encouraged by his conversations with Labour MPs over the weekend, with many suggesting they would vote on the merits of any government motion whatever the party line.

Concerning the upcoming vote in parliament, PM David Cameron said, "I hope that when the choice comes people will indicate that this is the right thing for Britain to do. It is and we should do it."

Cameron who is in Malta to attend an emergency EU summit in Brussels on Europe's migration crisis, meanwhile confirmed that ministers were continuing to hold talks with backbenchers of all parties over the weekend [Sky News].

UK on alert

The threat to London and other cities remains high, especially after Paris. It is believed that at least 450 radicalised Britons have returned to the UK from Syria. While Britain's Intelligence services attempt to identify and monitor those individuals security has been tightened on Britain's streets.

Special forces have been deployed on the streets to monitor stations, shopping centres and key public places amid fears the UK could be the next target for an ISIL terror outrage [Telegraph].

Duck attacks

And while politicians debate whether or not to target ISIL militants in Syria, hackers and other people using social media have begun their own propaganda campaign ridiculing the Islamic terrorists. The hacking group Anonymous has vowed to hunt down members of the terror group and take down websites and social media accounts. Meanwhile creative users of imageboard 4Chan have decided to fight back with humour using rubber ducks [Telegraph].

Images of Islamic State militants were soon being posted with photoshopped head of rubber ducks. "This is how we fight Daesh. Humiliate them," one person wrote on one post. The campaign may be amusing but the  idea that a terror might be brought down by photoshopping duck heads onto terrorist is evidently quackers.

tvnewswatch, London, UK

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Muslims fear repercussions as Islamophobia grows

Muslims are fearing repercussions following the recent Paris attacks which left 130 dead. There have already been indications that Muslims are being targeted in the wake of the Friday 13th attacks in Paris.

In Britain there were 115 Islamophobic attacks in the week following the Paris killings, a spike of more than 300% [Independent].

Meanwhile in France the National Observatory of Islamophobia, a group linked to France's official Muslim council, reported 32 anti-Muslim incidents in the week following the attacks, up from an average of 4-5 complaints [IBNLive].

And in the US there is a sense of unease with many politicians expressing concerns over the influx of Syrian refugees and a perceived threat of radical Islam.

Blame and condemnation

Arif Arif, the Director of Public Affairs from the Ahmadiyya  Muslim Community, speaking on France 24 conceded that Muslims needed to be more outspoken and condemn violence perpetrated by radical Muslims. But he also questioned the word radical and what it meant in context with the Islamic faith.

Indeed there has been much debate, not only in recent days but ever since the days following 9/11, concerning Islam and the teachings from the Koran and as to whether it is indeed a religion of peace that most people proclaim it is. And that debate has spilled onto the front pages of tabloid newspapers.

The front page of Monday's Sun newspaper in Britain proclaimed that 1 in 5 British Muslims had sympathy for Jihadis. But while other papers, such as the Mirror, Guardian and Independent, questioned the assertion, there is a common feeling amongst non Muslims that there are at least strong divisions between those that follow Islam and those that don't.

Religion of peace?

And while many Muslims are outspoken in their condemnation of the violence carried out in the name of Islam, some non-Muslims find it difficult to reconcile some of the hateful bigotry that exists in the Koran.

For most, if not all, Muslims the Koran is seen as the literal word of God and cannot be questioned. Yet there are passages which are extremely inflammatory.

There are passages for example that say Muslims should not make friends of Jews or Christians and call on believers to kill the infidels [unbelievers] wherever they may be found.

Moderate Muslims will however say that drawing from such verses amounts to cherry picking, misinterpretation or taking things out of context.

Interpreting the Koran

However some academics reject this notion. Author of several books including a number of New York Times Best Sellers Robert Spencer insists that Islamic writings are themselves enough to radicalise Muslims and encourage them to take up arms.

"Every word, unless it is cancelled by another section, is valid for all time and cannot be questioned, this means that moderate Muslims, peaceful Muslims, if they are sincere have to reject entirely Koranic literalism but to do so puts them outside the sphere of anything that has been considered orthodox Islam throughout history because to do so is to reject the very basic premise of Islam that this is a book which is dictated by God and is a perfect copy of a perfect book, the Umm Al-Kitab, the mother of the book that has existed for ever with Allah in heaven" [YouTube].

Of course Spencer, and those who subscribe to his views, have are often described as anti-Islamic or Islamophobic. Indeed Spencer has himself been banned from visiting the United Kingdom by the Home Secretary Theresa May who said his presence in the UK would "not be conducive to the public good".

Fear of Islam

In the United States Robert Spencer has a greater freedom to express his views and he has already been invited onto the right wing news channel Fox News to discuss the risks of allowing Syrian refugees to come to America. Speaking on Hannity, Spencer said that President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry had ignored the "elephant in the room", that of the risk that there might be Jihadis amongst the refugees. "He [Kerry] tried to make it into an issue of religious bigotry saying some people only wanted to take in the Christians and not the Muslims. Well the reason for that is that Muslims might blow us up and the Christians are not going to." [YouTube]

It is not just the likes of Spencer who has questioned the policy of allowing refugees to flood into the US. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has described the refugee crisis as the ultimate Trojan horse [Fox News].

And it is clear that many in the US government are just as fearful. On Thursday last week [19th November], less than a week after terrorists brought carnage to the streets of Paris, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would effectively halt the acceptance of any Syrian or Iraqi refugees. However, for the bill to be adopted, it will also have to pass the US Senate.

Meanwhile a poll conducted this week by Bloomberg Politics found that 53% of Americans oppose allowing Syrian refugees to resettle in the US.

Trump is on the the record as saying that if he wins the Presidential election he would deport the Syrian refugees. "If I win they're going out," Trump told Fox News commentator Sean Hannity.

Calls for more controls

Trump has also hinted that he would like to see more surveillance on Muslims. The US government "is going to have to look at a lot of things very carefully" and "look at the mosques" Trump told Yahoo news.

Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson, who is just behind Trump in the polls, was also criticised this week for likening Syrian refugees to rabid dogs.

"If there is a rabid dog running around your neighbourhood, you're probably not going to assume something good about that dog. And you're probably going to put your children out of the way." [CNN]

The comments have enraged Muslim groups in the US. Saif Inam of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a Washington-based policy institution, has likened Trump's proposed database of Muslims to the "J" that was stamped into the passports of European Jews by the Nazis [Guardian].

Angelita Baeyens, programmes director for the Robert F Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights, said the two presidential candidates' comments, as well as the measures by American lawmakers, were "extremely frightening" [Al Jazeera].

The kneejerk reactions by the right wing in the US are perhaps understandable. The memories of 9/11 cut deeply into the American psyche and the Boston bombing is still fresh in people's memories.

But it isn't just right wing Americans who feel that Islamic teachings have much to answer for. Walid Shoebat is a Palestinian American who converted to Christianity from Islam. Shoebat has stated he used to be a Palestinian Liberation Organization terrorist and is amongst several that insist the teachings of the Koran and Hadith are the direct inspirations to those who commit violence under the name of Islam [YouTube / YouTube / YouTube].

Growing distrust

In Britain there is a deepening distrust between mainstream society and ever more isolated Muslim communities. It is a problem that has been growing for a number of years [Independent].

In 2013 some 50% of Americans considered Islam a 'critical' threat, with similar numbers reported in France and Germany [Al Jazeera]. Turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper and one will often be confronted with horror stories about honour killings, terrorist attacks and Sharia law taking over Western cities [Daily Mail / Basildon Echo].

The recent spate of articles and news reports critical of Islam has been almost incessant. CNN was just one broadcaster that has been singled out for its overly critical stance [Washington Post]. And along with the criticism there have been calls for the hysteria to stop [Huffington Post].

The verbal attacks on Muslims in news broadcasts are also spilling onto the streets as Muslims find themselves under attack from members of the public [Guardian]. 

Online reaction

But some Muslims have reacted with humour rather than anger to the recent criticism. Following the Sun's declaration that 1 in 5 Muslims had sympathy for Jihadis many took took to Twitter with the hashtag #1in5Muslims.

"#1in5Muslims have accidentally munched on a packet of gelatine haribos" one tweet said [Haribo is a German confectionery company which make popular sweets often made with pork gelatine].

Others joked that they had forced their pets into the religion, with one Twitter user posting a picture of a dog dressed in a burka and a kitten draped in a keffiyeh reading the Koran [BBC / Guardian / Metro].

One popular reaction to the rampant Islamophobia was a Tweet which proclaimed "there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world right now. 1.6 billion... if Islam really bred terror, we'd all be dead right now!"

This may be comforting for most people, though for those convinced by headlines in this week's Sun or the rhetoric of American politicians, such a statistic might feel rather foreboding.

tvnewswatch, London, UK

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Europe faces chemical weapon threat from ISIL

ISIL, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the militant group behind the terrorist attack in Paris a week ago could arm itself with biological and chemical weapons in future terror attacks on Europe, the French prime minister has warned.

Manuel Valls has said France faced a serious threat from associates linked to the gunmen and bombers who launched attacks across Paris on Friday 13th November, killing 129.

"We must not rule anything out," Valls said. "I say it with all the precautions needed. But we know and bear in mind that there is also a risk of chemical or bacteriological weapons." [Mirror / Independent / Sky News]

Valls presented a bill to the French parliament that would extend the country's state of emergency for another three months. It will then go to the upper house on Friday.

The threat from chemical or biological weapons has been dismissed as unlikely by some [Guardian].

While some kind of biological or chemical agent has been intermittently raised by officials over the past two decades, there has never been such an attack, at least in the West. But it is a  is a nightmare scenario that concerns those in intelligence circles who say that ISIL are at least looking into launching such attacks

In the late 1990s, Osama bin Laden, the founder and leader of al-Qaeda, described obtaining chemical weapons as a religious duty and even claimed to have stockpiled such arms as a "deterrent".

In 2003, Saudi and US intelligence services claimed to have learned of a plot to release cyanide gas on the New York subway system, though no one was arrested nor evidence released to the public.

But while no attack has yet taken place, one should not be complacent about the possibility.

Indeed, while Islamic terrorists have yet to launch a chemical or biological attack, there are instances where other groups have used such weapons. A case in point is when members of the cult movement Aum Shinrikyo launched five coordinated attacks in which they released sarin on several lines of the Tokyo subway during the rush hour, killing 12 people, severely injuring 50 and causing temporary vision problems for nearly 1,000 others.

As recently as September this year  US government officials said that the Islamic State militant group was making and already using crude chemical weapons in Iraq and Syria. "They're using mustard," one official said, "We know they are." [BBC]

There is some independent evidence suggesting the veracity of the US claims with a leading chemical weapons expert telling the BBC there was "very strong and compelling evidence" that mustard gas has been used in attacks in Syria [BBC / Express].

Furthermore Australian forces in air and training missions in the Middle East say they are prepared for chemical weapon attacks by ISIL [Guardian].

There is a clear danger in that even if ISIL has yet to develop such weapons, they have the ambition and apparent willingness to use them.

Both ISIS and Al Qaeda are rapidly extending their networks into North Africa and Central and South-East Asia.  And the mid‑November ISIS attacks on Paris testify to its capacity to strike targets far beyond geographical regions in its immediate sphere of influence.

The deadly efficiency with which ISIS plans and executes such strikes has become a hallmark of its operations.

The attacks in Paris and the downing of a Russian airline has shocked the world. The fallout from a chemical or biological attack will have far wider implications and create much bigger concerns.

[Pictured: British emergency services simulate a chemical weapons attack during chemical weapons drill in the City of London - September 2003]

tvnewswatch, London, UK

Emotional scars of Paris attack will heal in time

The terror that swept through Paris on Friday 13th of November has left deep scars. But they are scars that may well heal in time.

One hundred and twenty nine people lost their lives in the Paris attacks and some 350 were injured. But the attack not only destroyed the lives of 129 people, it also tore families and lives apart.

These are the unseen victims; those left behind who must struggle to go forward without their sons, daughters, husbands, wives or partners. Indeed even friends of those who were killed will be suffering.

The damage is a psychological one. It is one of grief. And the grief and emotional scars may last many months if not years.

Paris-born Christos, 33, believes "in some way" the attacks have changed the city forever.

"It's the kind of thing that leaves a scar," he told the BBC amid an atmosphere of quiet reflection outside Le Carillon bar and the Petit Cambodge restaurant where 15 people were gunned down. "We have to stay united and be stronger than ever."

Some refuse to let such attacks ruin their lives and have spoken out not with anger but in defiance.

Antoine Leiris lost his wife Helene in the Bataclan theatre in Paris. And he is now left to raise his son alone. In a tragic note he posted to Facebook, he insisted that the terrorists would not leave him cowered nor enraged [BBC / Telegraph].

The letter, entitled 'You will not have my hatred' has been shared widely on social networks and drawn much media attention.

"On Friday evening you stole the life of an exceptional person, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you will not have my hatred," Antoine wrote.

Antoine admits he is "devastated with grief" but adds that "it will be short-lived."

Sadly for many the grief will last a long time and the emotional scars may be difficult to heal.

Tears have rolled down the faces not only those directly affected. Even members of media have been struck with emotion. BBC reporter Graham Satchell was overcome with emotion as he reported live from Paris [Guardian / Daily Mail].

Perhaps it's a sign of the times, and maybe it's expected by an audience who want to see that even reporters are human too [Guardian]. Indeed Satchell received praise from viewers for his 'honest reporting'.

Ultimately time heals, says Robin Goodwin, a Professor of Social and Environmental Psychology who has studied and examined the psychological responses to the 9/11 attacks in the US and in the subsequent 7/7 terrorist attacks in London.

For many there will be constant everyday reminders, such as the bangs from fireworks. Those who survived the Bataclan shooting may find it difficult to listen to their favourite band. Meanwhile an evening meal at a Paris restaurant or an espresso at a streetside café may be uncomfortable for many people in the weeks to come.

It took around three months before people returned to their normal behaviour following the 7/7 attacks in London, Robin Goodwin told BBC Radio 5 Live. Of course there are those who had no immediate choice about using public transport. People had to go to work and for most there was no alternative method to get to work.

But eventually time heals and people eventually find a way of getting on with their live despite underlying fears.

The strengthening of social cohesions also dissipates after a while, Goodwin observes. After 9/11 the French Newspaper ran with a headline "We are all Americans." And after the attacks on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo the phrase "Je Suis Charlie" became a rallying cry of solidarity with the French.

Following the attacks in Paris last week, there has once again been a showing of sympathy and solidarity. La Marseillaise, the French national anthem, was sung by English and French fans alike at the friendly football match at Wembley that played out on the Tuesday after the attacks.

Expats and Londoners gathered in Trafalgar Square on Saturday 14th November in a vigil to mourn the victims and show solidarity. And around the world landmarks were lit with the red, white and blue of the French Tricolor. There has even been an outpouring of grief for Diesel the police dog killed in a terror raid in northern Paris that saw the arrest of 8 suspects and the killing of two others [SMH].

But memories fade, and as they do so too will the comradery.

How long indeed before the French are once again criticised for their handling of refugees camped out at the Jungle on the outskirts of Calais or are lambasted over travel disruption caused by striking air traffic control staff or protesting farmers.

The attacks were appalling and it is right that people show sympathy and stand with the French following the slaughter of so many people.

But in just a few short weeks many people outside France will have forgotten the horror of that day. Even in France the memories of that dreadful day will have faded.

For those directly affected, such as Antoine Leiris, it will be much harder to forget. Indeed for those left to look after children it will prove even more difficult as they have to explain why mummy or daddy will never be coming home. But time is a great healer. Even these individuals will eventually be able to put those events of Friday 13th behind them and move on. Indeed, we all need to move on and get on with our lives. To do otherwise is to give the terrorists another victory.

tvnewswatch, London, UK

Saturday, November 14, 2015

French newspapers react to Paris attacks

French newspapers reacted in shock to the events in Paris on Friday 13th November. Many ran with the simple headline 'Horror' or Carnage', but some echoed the French president's words in which he described the events as an "act of war" conducted by a terrorist army against France.

While many publications conceded the attacks were likely retaliation for France's role in the continuing war against ISIL, most expressed solidarity and a commitment to continue the fight.

"It is impossible not to link these bloody events with the battles raging in the Middle East. France is playing its part there. It must continue to do so without blinking," wrote Laurent Joffrin in an editorial in the French paper Liberation.

This was "terrorist barbarism" which crossed a "historic line," said the head of the left-leaning Liberation daily, calling for France to stay resolute.

Le Parisien ran with the headline "This time it's war" and concentrated on those that died and called for unity. "In the name of the true martyrs of yesterday, the innocent victims and in the name of the Republic, France will be able to stay united and stand together," said Le Parisien.

Many referred to the attackers as "cowardly terrorists" and there was also a clear agreement that what they left behind them was one of carnage on the streets of Paris

More: Sky NewsPress & Journal / Time / 20 Minutes [French]  

tvnewswatch, London, UK

Alert at UK airport follows Paris attacks

Hundreds of passengers were evacuated from the North Terminal of London's Gatwick airport on Saturday [14th November] after armed police confronted a man "acting suspiciously".

Witnesses at the scene spoke of police shouting at the man to get down before arresting him. Some passengers said they overheard conversations discussing the possibility the man had a gun whilst other spoke of a hand grenade [Twitter / Twitter].

Pictures posted to social media showed scores of passengers being  evacuated after the terror scare. Other photographs showed a bomb disposal truck at the scene.

As passengers were evacuated from the terminal members of the Royal Logistics Corps Bomb Disposal team arrived at the scene to deal with the suspicious item.

Police were called at about 09:30 GMT after "suspicious actions" by a man. A spokesman confirmed that Explosive Ordnance Disposal specialists were at the scene. Sussex Police would only say that a man was arrested after he "discarded an item" at the airport.

Meanwhile Gatwick Airport advised passengers to contact airlines for information concerning travel plans.

The terror alert followed terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday 13th November that left 127 dead and more than 100 injured.

More reports: BBC / Daily Mail

tvnewswatch, London, UK

A night of terror on the streets of Paris

France is in mourning after terrorists brought death to the streets of Paris.

French President François Hollande declared a national state of emergency and tightened borders after at least 128 people were killed in a night of gun and bomb attacks in the capital which has not only shocked France but much of the Western world.

The attacks came some 10 months after the so-called Charlie Hebdo attacks and the Île-de-France attacks which left 17 dead. France, and Paris in particular, was already in high alert. However it is unclear whether there was a failure in intelligence or if the terrorists managed to successfully fly below the radar undetected.

Black Friday

Friday the 13th, also known as Black Friday, is often considered an unlucky day in Western superstition. But for Paris and France Friday November 13th proved to be extremely black.

The series of mass shootings and suicide bombings began at 21:16 CET. Three separate explosions and six mass shootings occurred, including bombings near the Stade de France in the northern suburb of Saint-Denis.

The deadliest attack was at the Bataclan theatre where attackers took hostages and engaged in a stand-off with police.

Concert goers who had been out to enjoy the US rock group Eagles of Death Metal instead became victims as two gunmen opened fire indiscriminately on the crowds.

Julien Pearce, a radio reporter who witnessed the attack first hand, told CNN that the black clad gunmen said nothing as they open fired in Bataclan theatre for at least 10 minutes. "It was a bloodbath," he told the news outlet.

There was a three hour stand-off during which some inside the theatre posted desperate messages on social media. Some said they were not being treated as hostages and that the gunmen were killing them one by one and called on police to launch a rescue bid. Some meanwhile managed to escape from the rear of the building, several dragging the injured or dying away from the scene [Warning Graphic Footage: YouTube]

The siege eventually ended at 00:58 CET on the 14th November 2015 when armed police launched an assault on the building. At the end of the assault two terrorists were dead, after apparently detonating suicide belts, and some 100 concert goers were dead with scores of others left injured.

Night of terror

The night of terror began at a pair of cafés, Le Petit Cambodge and Le Carillon on the Rue Bichat and Rue Aliber,when gunmen opened fire on those eating inside one before reloading and firing upon the other leaving 14 dead.

Then came an attack at La Casa Nostra, an Italian restaurant, in Rue de la Fontaine-au-Roi south of Rue Bichat, by a man wielding a machine gun. At least five people were killed by the gunman who, according to one witness, fired "bursts of three or four shots."

At around 21:30 CET three explosions occurred near the Stade de France in the suburb of Saint-Denis, and resulted in at least five deaths. At least 10 people were injured or killed in an explosion at a bar near the stadium about twenty minutes after the kick-off in the international friendly football match between France and Germany which the President of France François Hollande was attending.

Less than twenty minutes later there was another mass shooting as two attackers fired for several minutes at the terrace of La Belle Équipe, a restaurant on the rue de Charonne in the 11th arrondissement of Paris before returning to their car and driving away. Police later confirmed that 18 people were killed by gunmen.


The attacks thus far had been deadly, but the assault on the Bataclan Concert Theatre was nothing less than slaughter.

The American rock band Eagles of Death Metal were playing to an audience of around 1,500 when about an hour into the concert, four black-clad men with AK-47 assault rifles entered the hall.

There are conflicting reports as to whether the men said anything, but some witnesses said the terrorists shouted "Allahu akbar" just before calmly and methodically opening fire into the crowd.

The killing finally stopped when armed police stormed the theatre. Four attackers were killed, three of whom died by detonating their suicide belts. The fourth was hit by police gunfire, and his belt blew up when he fell.

Repercussions & recriminations

After a little over three hours of terror some 128 people were dead and 100 others were critically injured in hospital.

Meanwhile eight attackers were killed and authorities were continuing to search for any accomplices that remained at large.

In response, French President François Hollande announced a national state of emergency, and subsequently placed temporary controls on the borders of France in a televised statement at 23:58 CET. It was the first nation-wide state of emergency since the end of the Second World War.

Prior to the attack, France had been on high alert since the January 2015 Île-de-France attacks in Paris. But these latest series of attacks were having far wider implications as some American airlines suspended flights to Paris and other countries began to rethink their security procedures. The subsequent claim of responsibility for the attack by Islamic State has also raised concerns as to the growing threat of the terror group.

More reports: BBC / Sky News / France 24 / CNN / Telegraph / Guardian / Daily Mail

tvnewswatch, London, UK