UK police arrest 5 in terror probe

UK police arrest 5 in terror probe

Police in Birmingham, England, said Friday they have arrested five terror suspects in a joint investigation involving UK intelligence and French and Belgian authorities.

The suspects — four men ranging in age from 26 to 59, and a 29-year-old woman, were arrested on suspicion of being involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorist acts, West Midlands police said in a statement. Four were arrested in Birmingham, the fifth at London’s Gatwick Airport, police said.

"The arrests were preplanned and intelligence-led," Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale said in a statement. "There was no risk to the public at any time and there is no information to suggest an attack in the UK was being planned."

The arrests followed revelations that Mohamed Abrini — who investigators say has been linked to the terror March attacks in Brussels and the November 2015 attack in Paris — had traveled to Birmingham several times in the year before the Paris attacks.

‘Man in the hat’ identified in Brussels terror attacks

‘Man in the hat’ identified in Brussels terror attacks 02:18

Abrini is known as the "man in the hat" in surveillance video taken of bombers in the Brussels Airport attack. His DNA and fingerprints were lifted from a vehicle used in the Paris attacks, and surveillance video spotted him with Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam at a gas station between Brussels and the French capital.

A senior British counterterrorism source told CNN on Friday that investigators have determined he met with people suspected of terrorist activity and took several photos of landmarks in the Birmingham area, including a football stadium.

Fight to Impeach Brazil’s Leader Tears at Fabric of Daily Life

Fight to Impeach Brazil’s Leader Tears at Fabric of Daily Life

BRASÍLIA — The wall, nearly a mile of corrugated metal, plunges down the center of the majestic lawn that faces Brazil’s National Congress, the modernist icon designed by Oscar Niemeyer.

It was hastily erected in recent days, and is meant to separate the hundreds of thousands of protesters expected to descend on Brasília, the Brazilian capital, this weekend as members of Congress vote on whether to begin impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff.

The left side of the wall, facing Congress, is reserved for supporters of the left-leaning Ms. Rousseff, the right for people demanding her ouster.

“It’s not pretty, but the wall is necessary to keep the two sides from tearing each other apart,” a 21-year-old police officer in head-to-toe riot gear said as she stood in the searing sun on Friday afternoon. “When these protesters come together, they behave like soccer hooligans.”

Brazilian politics is a blood sport in the best of times, but the battle over Ms. Rousseff’s impeachment is inflaming passions as never before, cleaving families, turning friends into enemies and transforming children into unwitting surrogates for the warring sides. Social media has been flooded with venom, and those who claim to be neutral often find themselves accused of treachery.

On the streets of Brazilian cities, political rallies organized by one side or the other have been devolving into shouting matches or worse, including a brawl last month in São Paulo that left a former city councilor with a bloody lip.

“I don’t think this will turn into a civil war because you’d have to be stupid to fight for these politicians, but people are very stressed right now,” said Rafael Alcadipani da Silveira, 39, a professor of organizational studies at Fundação Getúlio Vargas, one of the country’s top universities. “I’ve never seen things this bad.”

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Political passions have turned ordinary sartorial decisions into perceived acts of provocation. Lauana de Lima Oliveira, 22, a saleswoman from São Paulo, recalled a recent day when she decided to go to work in a red tank top. Red is the color associated with Ms. Rousseff’s Workers’ Party.

As she rode in a crowded subway car, several passengers began to elbow her while hissing “petralha,” a pejorative for party stalwarts. Ms. de Lima Oliveira, who said she was agnostic on the impeachment drive, was stunned.

“People have become like horses that wear blinders so they can’t see anything on either side of them,” she said. “Red happens to be my favorite color, and I’m not going to stop wearing it.”

In the southern city of Porto Alegre, Ariane Leitão, a surrogate councilwoman with the Workers’ Party, filed a formal complaint against her longtime pediatrician who, citing Ms. Leitão’s party affiliation, abruptly cut off ties. “Given all that has happened,” the doctor wrote to her, according to the newspaper Folho de S. Paulo. “I am not in the position to treat your son.”

Most alarming, experts say, is the extent to which the political maelstrom has affected those too young to vote. Last month, students at a private school in São Paulo reportedly terrorized a 9-year-old boy after he showed up to class wearing a red shirt emblazoned with the Swiss flag — a gesture of neutrality, according to his father, who discussed the episode on Facebook in a posting shared more than 4,500 times.

School officials say many children have been parroting the caustic expressions they hear at home, and teachers at one school in São Paulo were alarmed when a child drew a picture of Ms. Rousseff hanging by a noose.

Criticizing Israel

Criticizing Israel, Bernie Sanders Highlights Split Among Jewish Democrats

It was the sort of question — Does Israel have a right to defend itself as it sees fit? — that had often caused candidates, especially those with designs on winning a primary in New York, to produce paeans to the strength of the Israeli-American relationship and a stream of pro-Israel orthodoxy.

But Senator Bernie Sanders dug in.

“There comes a time when if we pursue justice and peace, we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time,” Mr. Sanders said, referring to the Israeli prime minister, amid cheers from the crowd at Thursday’s Democratic debate in Brooklyn. He added: “All that I am saying is we cannot continue to be one-sided. There are two sides to the issue.”

Jewish Democrats, like the rest of the party, have been struggling for years over the appropriate level of criticism when it comes to Israel’s policies in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. But that debate burst onto a big national stage this week thanks to Mr. Sanders, the most successful Jewish presidential candidate in history.

Mr. Sanders’s comments, in the de facto capital of Jewish American politics, buoyed the liberal and increasingly vocal Democrats who believe that a frank discussion within the party has been muzzled by an older, more conservative Jewish leadership that is suspicious of criticism of Israel.

Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, a progressive pro-Israel lobbying group whose more critical view of the Israeli government has gained influence on Capitol Hill, said Mr. Sanders’s comments were “very different from the stale talking points that have dominated those types of discussions before” and contributed to a “meaningful redefinition of what it means to be pro-Israel.”

But the comments, as measured as they were striking, worried more traditionally pro-Israel Jewish Democrats and Jewish organizations trying desperately to maintain bipartisan support for the Israeli government but watching it slowly being chipped away.

“I thought that Bernie Sanders’s comments were disgraceful and reprehensible, and I thought he was just over the top,” said Eliot Engel, a Jewish congressman from the Bronx who supports Hillary Clinton. He said that Mr. Sanders’s comments were irresponsible, giving radical left-wing elements in the party more license to attack Israel.

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Presidential Election 2016

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Bernie Sanders Campaign Suspends Jewish Outreach Coordinator for Vulgar Remarks About Netanyahu APRIL 14, 2016

As Bernie Sanders Makes History, Jews Wonder What It Means FEB. 10, 2016

Bernie Sanders Is Jewish, but He Doesn’t Like to Talk About It FEB. 24, 2016

Bernie Sanders’s Kibbutz Found. Surprise: It’s Socialist. FEB. 5, 2016

“Maybe he feels like he has to bend over backwards because he’s Jewish?” Mr. Engel said, adding, “It bothers me a great deal.”

Even before the debate, unease over Israeli policies within the Democratic Party was rising.

At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, delegates lustily booed officials who reinstated in the party platform a recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, at odds with the United States’ official position that the city’s status must be negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians.

Protesting Israel’s policies and advocating boycotts to pressure its government are practically electives for liberal college students furious about the growth of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. In Washington, relations between President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are acrid, and last year more than 50 members of the Democratic caucus boycotted Mr. Netanyahu’s speech to Congress in which he criticized Mr. Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.

Mr. Sanders’s response on Thursday was to a question about his past statement that Israel had used disproportionate force in responding to Hamas’s rocket attacks from Gaza into Israeli towns. One of the moderators, Wolf Blitzer of CNN, asked whether Israel had a right to defend itself.

Mr. Sanders said Israel had “every right in the world to destroy terrorism.”

“But,” he said, “we had in the Gaza area — not a very large area — some 10,000 civilians who were wounded and some 1,500 who were killed.”

The applause and cheers that accompanied Mr. Sanders’s answers — someone yelled “Free Palestine!” — might have been the most vocal signs yet of shifts in the Democratic Party.

A Pew Research Center poll in 2014 about violence in Gaza found that Americans under 30 were more likely to blame Israel than to blame Hamas, though half blamed both or did not have an opinion. African-Americans and Hispanics also blamed Israel more often than Hamas.

Those surveyed who were over 30 found Hamas more responsible, and the older the respondents were, the less they blamed Israel.

“The roar in the crowd was telling,” said Peter Beinart, a leading voice in the liberal Zionist movement.

“A Democratic Party dominated by progressive millennials, African-Americans and Latinos will gradually defect more and more from the Aipac-Bibi line,” he added, referring to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and to Mr. Netanyahu by his nickname.

“Those aren’t their values,” Mr. Beinart continued. “What Bernie said last night, and the crowd’s response, were a sign of things to come.”

Younger Jews’ waning support for Israel in its dealings with Palestinians may not be so surprising. Unlike their parents and grandparents, who grew up when Jews were still reeling from the Holocaust, they know Israel primarily as a powerful nation rather than an existential necessity.

Andy Bachman, a prominent Brooklyn progressive rabbi, said the energetic applause at Mr. Sanders’s criticism of Israel “spoke to this growing rift in the Democratic Party — it was proof of a major crisis in the Jewish community that no major Jewish organization has resolved or figured out to handle.”

Mr. Sanders, who is not observant, has spoken at times about family members killed in the Holocaust, and he spent time in an Israeli kibbutz after college. But he has had some stumbles related to his views on Israel. His hiring of a young activist leader, Simone Zimmerman, as his Jewish outreach director turned out to be a rare blunder for his campaign when Facebook posts turned up in which she referred to Mr. Netanyahu with a vulgarity. She was suspended a few hours before the debate.

Supporters of Mrs. Clinton raised concerns about the substance of Mr. Sanders’s statements, arguing that he showed his haphazardness on the issue in a recent Daily News interview in which he greatly exaggerated the number of civilians killed in Gaza, saying more than 10,000 had died. Clinton supporters also said he had supplied no specifics when he called for an “evenhanded” approach.

In Mrs. Clinton’s response to the same question Thursday night, she stopped short of endorsing Israel’s response but echoed its argument that Hamas fighters were often mixed in with civilians. She noted her experience dealing with both sides as secretary of state and said — to applause — “I believe that as president I will be able to continue to make progress and get an agreement that will be fair both to the Israelis and the Palestinians without ever, ever undermining Israel’s security.”

Mr. Engel, the congressman, said he took solace in the fact that Mrs. Clinton still had a large delegate lead.

“I don’t have a fear because he’s not going to be the nominee,” Mr. Engel said of Mr. Sanders. “Hillary is going to be the nominee, and she’s just fine.”

Still, Jewish activists who are highly critical of Israel said they would be thankful for his contribution even if he did not win.

Minutes after the debate, Rebecca Vilkomerson, the executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, a growing grass-roots organization that advocates pressuring Israel with the threat of boycotts, released a statement calling Mr. Sanders’s remarks “heartening” and added, “Today showed that the movement for Palestinian rights is shifting the discourse at the highest political levels.”

It’s on: Tensions between Trump and the GOP escalate in public fight

It’s on: Tensions between Trump and the GOP escalate in public fight

NEW YORK — Tensions between the Republican Party and its own front-runner erupted into a full-blown public battle as top party officials rebuked Donald Trump on Friday for alleging that the GOP primary system was “rigged” against him.

The dispute, which has been simmering for days, centers on Trump’s failure to win any delegates last weekend in Colorado, which selected its 34 delegates at a party convention rather than a primary attended by voters. All went to Trump’s chief rival, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

The outcome prompted a daily stream of complaints and allegations this week from Trump, who wrote in an op-ed published in Friday’s Wall Street Journal that the “system is being rigged by party operatives with ‘double-agent’ delegates who reject the decisions of voters.”

A senior Republican National Committee official fired back with a thinly veiled response, writing in a Friday memo to reporters that “each process is easy to understand for those willing to learn it.”

“It ultimately falls on the campaigns to be up to speed on these delegate rules,” wrote RNC communications director Sean Spicer. “Campaigns have to know when absentee ballots are due, how long early voting lasts in certain states, or the deadlines for voter registration; the delegate rules are no different.”

The fight again pits Trump against a Republican establishment that is still broadly opposed to his candidacy and struggling to reconcile with the possibility that he could be the GOP presidential nominee in November. Veterans of past presidential campaigns warned that the feuding could have an adverse effect on down-ballot races and on the ability to defeat Hillary Clinton, seen as the likely Democratic nominee, in the fall.

“Traditionally, this is the time that the party and front-runner come together and make the plans necessary to defeat the Democratic candidate in the fall,” said Michael Steel, who was an aide for Jeb Bush’s campaign and previously worked on the Mitt Romney campaign in 2012 and as spokesman for John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) when he was House speaker. “That’s clearly not happening, and it’s going to make it tougher to beat Secretary Clinton.”

Ron Bonjean, a former top adviser to Republican congressional leaders, called the Trump-RNC showdown “unprecedented” and warned that “taking a flamethrower to the Republican Party machine” could backfire on Trump.

“This is like a general severely criticizing his own special forces before ordering them to go into battle,” he said in an email. “Trump runs the risk of demoralizing grass-roots party organizers when he is going to need every asset to help him beat the Democratic nominee.”

One of the keys to Trump’s success until now has been his willingness to harshly criticize the party establishment, but he will need the support of the RNC in fundraising and get-out-the-vote efforts if he wins the nomination. This has left Trump boomeranging between fighting the party and trying to embrace it.

Early this week, for example, Trump used Twitter and his rally speeches to call the nomination process “corrupt,” “rigged” and one that rewards candidates who “play dirty tricks in order to pick up delegates.” In an interview with The Hill on Tuesday, Trump said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus “should be ashamed of himself because he knows what’s going on.”

Priebus responded on Twitter: “Nomination process known for a year + beyond. It’s the responsibility of the campaigns to understand it. Complaints now? Give us all a break.”

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