Home' Greymouth Star : September 3rd 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
8 - Thursday, September 3, 2015
Hundreds of migrants poured overnight
on to the high-speed railway linking Paris
with London near the French port of Calais,
stranding passengers in darkness aboard
Thousands of miles away, the bodies of other
migrants washed up on a Turkish beach. Photos
of a drowned toddler face down in the surf
spread quickly across the internet, yet another
searing image from Europe’s worst migration
crisis since the 1990s Balkan wars.
Outside a Budapest train station, an angry
crowd camped out demanding to board trains
for Germany, as Europe’s asylum system
crumbled under the strain of the influx.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing
wars, as well as economic migrants escaping
poverty, have arrived in the European Union,
confounding EU leaders and feeding the rise of
right wing populists.
Thousands have drowned in the Mediterranean
and many others have died travelling over land,
including 71 people found in the back of an
abandoned truck in Austria last week.
The EU’s executive European Commission
promised to unveil a new policy next week to
make it easier to process asylum claims, send
those from safe countries home and distribute
bona fide refugees among the bloc’s 28 members.
Meanwhile, authorities have struggled to
enforce rules which ordinarily allow free
movement within most of the EU but restrict
travel by undocumented migrants.
Hundreds took to the tracks around France’s
Calais-Frethun station, the latest target for
those trying to reach Britain, which many
regard as a better place to live than countries on
Rail operator SNCF was forced to halt ser vices
near the entrance to the Channel Tunnel. Three
Eurostar trains were blocked overnight and
eventually continued to London, while two
returned to their departure stations.
Passengers on one London-bound train,
which stopped less than 1.6km from the tunnel,
were told at one point to keep quiet and listen
for people on the roof. A helicopter with a
searchlight circled as guards walked the tracks.
With the power out, passengers sat in stifling
darkness for nearly four hours. A woman in
business class wept.
Eurostar later pulled the train back to Calais,
where passengers disembarked for fresh air and
About 3000 to 4000 migrants from the
Middle East, Asia and Africa camp near Calais,
dodging police as they try to board trains and
trucks heading to Britain through the tunnel or
on ferries. They have disrupted passenger and
freight transport between Britain and France
throughout the summer.
A spokeswoman for Eurotunnel, which
operates the railway tunnel beneath the channel,
said that as security has been tightened at Calais
port and the tunnel entrance, migrants have
targeted Calais-Frethun, about 5km inland,
beyond a zone controlled by Eurotunnel.
In Hungary, hundreds of migrants protested
for a second day in front of Budapest ’s Keleti
Railway Terminus, after they were blocked by
police from boarding trains bound for Germany.
The police said they must go to camps set up in
Germany, which is prepared to take by far the
greatest number of refugees, has begun accepting
asylum claims from Syrians regardless of where
they entered the EU, even though undocumented
migrants are barred from travel across the bloc.
That has caused confusion for neighbouring
countries, which have alternated between letting
migrants through and halting them.
Italy announced new measures to add checks
at its northern border in response to a German
Hungary is the main arrival point for those
crossing the Balkans by land. A government
spokesman said the country would obser ve EU
rules which bar travel by those without valid
“ I want my freedom, I have been on the
road for a very long time, and now I am in the
European Union, and I want my freedom,”
Sanil Khan, 32, said.
The perils of the voyage were brought home
by the images of a toddler in red t-shirt, blue
shorts and tiny sneakers, washed up on the
beach in Bodrum, Turkey. Turkish Police said
at least 12 people had drowned from a group
of 23 that had set off on two boats bound for a
Opinion across Europe has been increasingly
polarised: German soccer fans have unveiled
“refugees welcome” banners at matches, while
a popular British newspaper columnist called
Countries like Italy, Greece and Hungary,
where most migrants arrive before heading for
richer countries further north, say they need
more help from EU partners.
Germany has been the most welcoming,
with plans to accept hundreds of thousands
of refugees this year alone, adding 3.3 billion
euros ($3.7 billion) to its welfare bill next year.
A record 104,460 asylum seekers arrived in
Germany last month, and more than 400,000
migrants have registered in a German computer
system since the start of the year. — Reuters
Migrants swamp Europe
Julian Assange says reports of Ecuador
planning to smuggle him out of its
London embassy and of alleged clashes
with staff at the diplomatic mission are a
“false attack” on him.
In apparent leaks of official Ecuadorian
documents, it was reported that officials
concocted elaborate escape plans for the
Wikileaks founder to get him out of the
They included disguising him in fancy
dress to smuggle him out of the embassy
where he has been holed up since 2012
to avoid extradition to Sweden to face
rape and sexual assault claims.
Another plan was to smuggle Assange
out in a diplomatic bag.
Further plans to evade police
surrounding the embassy involved him
becoming lost in the crowds at the nearby
Harrods department store or making a
dash across rooftops to a helipad.
As well as the escape plots, the
documents detail alleged clashes between
Assange and embassy security staff and
concerns raised about his mental health.
In September 2012 it was alleged a
guard found him in an off-limits secure
control room in the embassy, leading to
a scuffle and the toppling of a computer
The report also notes instances
of Assange shouting and talking
incoherently at night, attributed to the
stress of his situation, and refers to “a
need to control access to alcohol”.
Assange responded to the media reports
in a brief one-line statement overnight,
saying: “ Yet another predictably false
attack in the media during the run-up to
the launch next week of our new book on
the US-UK relationship The Wikileaks
Swedish authorities began talks with
Ecuadorian officials in Stockholm this
week on setting up legal guidelines so
Swedish prosecutors could inter view
Assange at the embassy.
He has been granted asylum by Ecuador
and is fearful of being extradited to the
United States to face espionage charges
over damaging Wikileaks releases of
security information. — AAP
Hungarian police officers guard refugees at a makeshift camp in an underground station near the Keleti train station in Budapest,
Hungary. Hundreds of migrants have been protesting in front of Budapest ’s Keleti Railway Terminus for a second straight day, demand-
ing to be let on to trains bound for Germany.
been taking advantage of the
chaos in conflict-torn Central
African Republic and are killing
elephants for their ivory and
other wild animals, an expert
panel that monitors United
Nations sanctions said in a
Central African Republic
(CAR) descended into chaos in
March 2013 when predominantly
Muslim Seleka rebels seized
power, triggering reprisals by
“anti-balaka” Christian militias
which drove tens of thousands of
Muslims from the south in a de
facto partition of the landlocked
Although rival armed groups
agreed to a peace accord in May,
the conflict has continued at a
lower intensity, and a transitional
government has been unable to
assert its authority over CAR’s
One of the main problems is
trafficking in “ blood diamonds”.
In May two groups of some 200
poachers from Sudan were active
in eastern CAR, killing elephants
and other wild animals, according
to the report.
“They usually establish a base
camp from where they split
into smaller groups of 20 to 30
poachers,” the panel said.
“The drastic decrease in the
approximately 400 savannah
elephants remain in eastern
CAR — is obliging poachers to
remain longer in the CAR than
before, including during the
rainy season,” it added.
The panel said the Sudanese
poachers were experienced, well-
armed with AK-47 rifles, and
feared. There were also instances
in which the poachers have
attacked members of the Lord’s
Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel
group that rose up against the
Ugandan government in the
1980s and is active in CAR.
The experts said the poachers
assumed that the LRA “always
transports elephant tusks, gold
and other valuables”.
“ Even though poachers are
reported to have robbed and
regularly harassed civilians, no
killings or acts of sexual violence
have been reported,” the report
said, adding that the poachers
probably wanted to avoid
drawing attention of an African
Union military force seeking to
neutralise the feared LRA.
Sudan’s UN mission did
not respond to a request for
The experts said the LRA
“remains one of the main threats
to peace and security in the east
and south-east of the Central
African Republic, in particular in
the provinces bordering Sudan,
South Sudan and (Democratic
Republic of the Congo)”.
“ LRA operations are still
primarily focused on generating
revenues from the exploitation
and trade of natural resources,
specifically ivory and gold,” it
said. — Reuters
Sudanese poachers wiping out elephants
French judges investigating claims that
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was murdered
have closed the case without bringing any
charges, a prosecutor says.
“At the end of the investigation . . . it has not
been demonstrated that Mr Yasser Arafat was
murdered by polonium-210 poisoning,” the
three judges ruled overnight, according to a
statement from the prosecutor from the court
in Nanterre near Paris said.
Arafat died in Percy military hospital near
Paris at 75 in November 2004 after developing
stomach pains while at his headquarters in the
West Bank city of Ramallah.
His widow Suha has maintained he was
poisoned, possibly by highly radioactive polonium.
But the judges ruled there was “not sufficient
evidence of an inter vention by a third party
who could have attempted to take his life,” the
Suha’s lawyer, Francis Szpiner, also announced
the judges’ decision on Twitter.
She filed the murder case in 2012 at the
The same year, Arafat ’s tomb in Ramallah was
opened for a few hours to allow three teams
of French, Swiss and Russian investigators to
collect about 60 samples.
Three French judges concluded their
investigations in April and sent their findings
to the Nanterre prosecutor, who recommended
in July that the case be dropped.
A centre in the Swiss city of Lausanne had
tested biological samples taken from Arafat ’s
belongings that were given to his widow after
his death, and found “abnormal levels” of
polonium. It stopped short of saying he had
been poisoned by the substance.
French experts found that the isotopes
polonium-210 and lead-210, found in
Arafat ’s grave and in the samples, were of “an
environmental nature,” Nanterre prosecutor
Catherine Denis said in April.
Lawyers for Arafat ’s widow accused the
judges of closing the investigation too quickly
and called for more experts to be questioned.
France closes Arafat death probe
A ballpoint pen and a giant chocolate
coin are among the official souvenirs
marking the Q ueen becoming Britain’s
longest reigning monarch.
The new range by the Royal Collection
also includes a 1000 piece puzzle
featuring images of the Queen.
The blue and gold pen, which costs
£7.95 ($19), features a coat of arms
inspired by the original Coronation
programme of June 1953, and the words
Buckingham Palace on the clip.
The 90g milk chocolate coin, which is
wrapped in gold foil, is selling for £3.95,
while the puzzle costs £14.99.
Other items include an embroidered
red or blue crown decoration with the
words God Save the Queen on the back
for £12.95, a kings and queens mug
listing monarchs since 1066 for £25 and
a kings and queens tea towel for £8.95.
China made in Stoke-on -Trent
for the royal collection to mark the
occasion includes a pillbox for £29, a
bone china tankard for £39 and a 25cm
commemorative plate for £65.
Each features the royal coat of arms
and is decorated with the words “HM
Queen Elizabeth II — O ur Longest
The Q ueen will enter the history books
next week when she becomes the nation’s
longest reigning sovereign.
On Wednesday, September 9, she
will overtake the record held by Queen
Victoria — her great-great grandmother
— who reigned for 23,226 days 16 hours
and 23 minutes and died in 1901. — PA
Poland’s central bank governor Marek
Belka said overnight the story of an
alleged finding of a Nazi train in Poland
that could contain jewels was, in his
opinion, a hoax.
Asked if potentially the gold found in
the train could add to the bank’s reser ves,
Belka said: “I think nobody (at the
central bank) even thought to devote a
second to this issue. This is some hoax.”
Poland’s Deputy Culture Minister said
last week he was almost certain Poland
had located a Nazi train rumoured to
have gone missing near the close of
World War Two loaded with guns and
jewels. — Reuters
Gold train story
Wikipedia blocks ‘ black hat’ accounts
Wikipedia says it has blocked more than 300
accounts being used by people who are paid
to create or tweak entries at the communally
sourced on-line encyclopedia.
Weeks of investigation revealed 381 accounts
were being used at the English version of
Wikipedia for “black hat ” editing in which
people take money to promote outside interests
without disclosing they are on someone’s
Wikipedia is powered mostly by volunteers
and bars paid advocacy that is not disclosed,
such as in the case of museums or universities
having employees tune entries related to
exhibits or institutions.
“ Neutrality is key to ensuring Wikipedia’s
quality,” Ed Erhart and Juliet Barbara of the
non-profit Wikimedia Foundation said in the
blog post overnight.
“Although it does not happen often,
undisclosed paid advocacy editing may
represent a serious conflict of interest and
could compromise the quality of content on
Along with blocking the 381 “sock puppet ”
accounts, Wikipedia editors deleted 210 articles
created by people using those accounts. There
was a potential for more entries to be removed
as the investigation continued.
“ Most of these articles, which were related
to businesses, business people, or artists,
were generally promotional in nature, and
often included biased or skewed information,
unattributed material, and potential copyright
violations,” Erhart and Barbara said.
“The edits made by the sock puppets are
similar enough that the community believes
they were perpetrated by one co-ordinated
The accounts identified in during the
investigation were used from the end of April to
early August, but the nature and quality of edits
suggested that the paid-scheme was operating
“for some time” before being discovered,
according to Wikipedia.
A team of volunteers tends to Wikipedia
entries, which rely on crowd-sourcing for
“ Editing Wikipedia is completely free, and
requires only compliance with the project ’s
editorial guidelines,” Erhart and Barbara said.
“ No one should ever have to pay to create or
maintain a Wikipedia article.” — AFP
Iranian policy win for Obama
United States President Barack Obama
scored a major foreign policy victory overnight
by securing enough Senate votes to protect the
Iran nuclear deal in Congress, but Republicans
pledged to keep up their fight against the pact
with new sanctions on Tehran.
Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski said she
would support the deal announced on July 14
between world powers and Iran, which exchanges
relief on economic sanctions for Tehran’s
agreeing to curtail its nuclear programme.
Mikulski brings the list of senators backing the
deal to 34, 32 Democrats and two independents
who typically vote with Democrats, enough
to sustain Obama’s promised veto if the
Republican-controlled Congress passes a
The next goal for the agreement ’s backers is to
see if they can gather at least 41 Senate votes to
block a disapproval resolution in the Senate and
keep Obama from having to use his veto power.
The White House welcomed growing support
for the agreement. — Reuters
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