Wednesday, July 1, 2015

CNN's Paul Begala Asked The State Department For Talking Points On Hillary Clinton


Unfortunately, real life never turns out to be as interesting as it appears on TV. Digging through Hillary Clinton's emails, for example, The New York Times turned up that she's — pretty normal? Boring, even? Only two dozen correspondences were flagged as confidential, with the rest of this month's batch relating mostly to logistics, scheduling, and calendar rearrangements. Who'd have thought that behind the scenes was so dull?
The emails did reveal, though, that Paul Begala — a CNN political commentator and former advisor to Bill Clinton — needed a couple talking points about Hillary before he went on air to rate her:
Mr. Begala [asked] for talking points before he went on CNN to rate Mrs. Clinton's early performance. Ms. Marshall referred him to several State Department aides. After his appearance, Mr. Begala emailed back: "I gave Sec. Clinton an A+ in our dopey CNN report card last night." Ms. Mills forwarded that to Mrs. Clinton with an "FYI." [The New York Times]
An A+! You go, Hill. Jeva Lange [source]

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Major Powers, Iran Extend Interim Deal To July 7 For More Talks



VIENNA (Reuters) - Six major powers and Iran have decided to extend an interim nuclear agreement until July 7 to allow more time for negotiations on a final deal, the United States said on Tuesday the deadline for a long-term accord.
"The P5+1 and Iran have decided to extend the measures under the Joint Plan of Action until July 7 to allow more time for negotiations to reach a long-term solution ... on the Iran nuclear issue," Marie Harf, senior adviser for strategic communications at the U.S. State Department, said,
The so-called "P5+1" are the six major powers negotiating with Iran - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.[source]

A College Balks At Hillary Clinton’s Fee, So Books Chelsea For $65,000 Instead

 
Chelsea Clinton, left, answered questions posed by former Kansas City mayor Kay Barnes during a paid appearance last year at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

When the University of Missouri at Kansas City was looking for a celebrity speaker to headline its gala luncheon marking the opening of a women’s hall of fame, one name came to mind: Hillary Rodham Clinton.
But when the former secretary of state’s representatives quoted a fee of $275,000, officials at the public university balked. “Yikes!” one e-mailed another.
So the school turned to the next best option: her daughter, Chelsea.
The university paid $65,000 for Chelsea Clinton’s brief appearance Feb. 24, 2014, a demonstration of the celebrity appeal and marketability that the former and possibly second-time first daughter employs on behalf of her mother’s presidential campaign and family’s global charitable empire.
More than 500 pages of e-mails, contracts and other internal documents obtained by The Washington Post from the university under Missouri public record laws detail the school’s long courtship of the Clintons.
They also show the meticulous efforts by Chelsea Clinton’s image-makers to exert tight control over the visit, ranging from close editing of marketing materials and the introductory remarks of a high school student to limits on the amount of time she spent on campus.
The schedule she negotiated called for her to speak for 10 minutes, participate in a 20-minute, moderated question-and-answer session and spend a half-hour posing for pictures with VIPs offstage.
As with Hillary Clinton’s paid speeches at universities, Chelsea Clinton made no personal income from the appearance, her spokesman said, and directed her fee to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.
“Chelsea is grateful to have the opportunity to speak at events like this while also supporting the work of the Clinton Foundation,” said the spokesman, Kamyl Bazbaz. He said she was happy to “celebrate the legacy of women in their community.”[source]


 


Ex-Advisers Warn Obama That Iran Nuclear Deal ‘May Fall Short’ of Standards

KUWAIT ATTACK: Renews Scrutiny of Terror Support Within Gulf States

Mourners carry a shrouded body in Kuwait City on Saturday at a funeral for victims of the suicide bombing of a Shiite mosque a day earlier. Photo: raed qutena/European Pressphoto Agency
 
For years, Washington has warned Kuwait and other Gulf monarchies that they weren’t doing enough to stop their own citizens from supporting extremist groups.
The targeting of Kuwait in a deadly suicide bombing on Friday claimed by Islamic State has renewed scrutiny of such support and affirmed fears of a blowback.
Western and Arab officials said both before and after the attack that Kuwait is among Gulf states where extremist ideology goes largely unchecked and is generously funded, in part because the Sunni monarchies and Sunni extremist groups share a hatred of Shiite Iran, their regional rival.
As a result, Western officials have struggled to get Kuwait and other Gulf Arab allies to halt private donations to jihadist groups. Those donations often provided seed money to get groups such as Islamic State off the ground before they became big enough to control swaths of territory, exact taxes and tolls and launch terror attacks in Gulf countries, according to Western officials.
“After 9/11, we thought they understood that this was no longer acceptable,” said a State Department official in Washington who focuses on the Middle East. “It seems they didn’t get the message.”
Officials in Kuwait, however, said they’ve tried to choke off capital to extremist groups. Following years of U.S. pressure, Kuwait—a base for American counterterror activities—in 2013 made it illegal to finance terrorist groups, though implementation has been a challenge. Some of the main financiers in recent years, including civil servants and a top government official, were only penalized at home after a public outcry from the West.
“Kuwait is committed to all laws criminalizing the funding of terrorism,” said a government official. The Ministry of Interior didn’t respond to requests for comment.
A Western diplomat based in the Middle East agreed that the Kuwaiti government has tried to clamp down on the financing of terrorist groups over the past year, although private citizens have been some of the major financiers of jihadist groups in Syria since 2012. Individuals can still use informal networks and channels to raise money for terrorist causes, but the diplomat said this wasn’t a uniquely Kuwaiti problem.
“Public institutions are not channeling funds to known terrorist groups. There has been a very clear response. Financial institutions have tightened things up considerably,” the diplomat said.
Kuwait, a small desert monarchy nestled between Saudi Arabia and Iraq, had until now managed to steer almost entirely free of the extremist violence flaring elsewhere in the region.
But in Friday’s attack, a Saudi national identified as Fahad Suleiman Abdulmohsen al-Qabaa entered the country at dawn via Kuwait City’s airport, strapped a belt of explosives to his body and blew himself up at one of the country’s largest Shiite mosques, officials told state-run Kuwait News Agency, or KUNA. The bombing—which killed 27 and injured more than 200—was one of the bloodiest assaults in the country’s history.
As thousands turned out in Kuwait City on Saturday for funerals for the victims, Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Khaled al-Hamad al-Sabah vowed the attack wouldn’t ignite violence among Kuwait’s political and religious factions.
Long before the attack, Kuwaitis were under scrutiny for suspected aid to extremist groups. In August last year, the United Nations Security Council and the U.S. Treasury Department blacklisted two Kuwaiti citizens suspected of financing terrorism.
One of them was Shafi al-Ajami, a professor at state-run University of Kuwait who has publicly rallied for the killing of Shiites—who belong to a sect Sunni extremists deem heretical.
The sanctions came just a few months after Kuwait’s minister of justice and Islamic affairs, Nayef al-Ajmi, resigned in May. The Treasury Department had accused him of promoting the funding of extremist groups in Syria, a charge Mr. Ajmi denied.
As Washington assembled its anti-Islamic State coalition in September last year, Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to demand regional allies crack down on the ideological and financial support given to extremist groups. He argued military action alone couldn’t defeat extremists after some two decades fighting the war on terror.
Mr. Kerry met with 10 Arab allies, including all six Gulf states. Together they vowed to counter the “financing of [Islamic State] and other violent extremists, repudiating their hateful ideology, ending impunity and bringing perpetrators to justice.”
Despite the promises made in Jeddah, the Treasury Department issued a rebuke just one month later in October to Kuwait and another Gulf nation, Qatar. The countries had allowed “permissive jurisdictions for terrorist financing,” said David Cohen, then undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.
Some critics say they weren’t surprised by the attack, largely because of the country’s slow response to halting financing of terror networks.
“I was sure that terrorism will reach Kuwait,” said Khalid Al Shatti, a Shiite lawyer and former parliamentarian in the country. “As expected, these terrorist groups switched their loyalties and are now attacking funding nations.”
Friday’s attack came at a time of rising sectarian tensions within Kuwait. Earlier this year, two prominent Shiite leaders in Kuwait including Mr. Shatti were arrested for criticizing the Saudi-led war against pro-Iranian rebels in Yemen.
The bombing has renewed focus on combating sectarian violence in Gulf States such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, oil-rich Sunni monarchies that have supported the U.S.-led coalition conducting airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
The assault came in the wake of a series of bombings at Shiite mosques in neighboring Saudi Arabia, also claimed by Islamic State.
Between 1,500 to 2,500 Saudi fighters have joined extremists groups in Syria since the beginning of the conflict, according to a report by the International Center for the Study of Radicalization published earlier this year. Meanwhile, 70 fighters have been recruited from Kuwait, the report said.
In Saudi Arabia, the fighters are typically arrested when they return home and sentenced to jail before undergoing a de-radicalization program. That program has had questionable success — jihadists in that program went on to form and join al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen, considered the most deadly terrorist organization by U.S. officials.
In addition to the arrests, Saudi authorities have also tried in recent months to crack down on recruiting by intensifying surveillance on extremists activities on social media and urging parents to report their sons if they show signs of extremism.
At the same time, the government has continued its efforts to cut funding for extremist groups by asking citizens to ensure that their donations go to officially licensed Islamic charities only.
Kuwait faces its own domestic challenges. The marginalization of the country’s patchwork of religious and social groups, such as the Bidun or stateless citizens, could make it a fertile recruitment ground for Islamic State, leading to homegrown attacks, said Anwar Al Rasheed, head of Kuwait’s Gulf Forum for Civil Societies.
“All this lack of democracy encourages terrorists,” Mr. Rasheed said.
The man who drove the bomber to the site of Friday’s attack was stateless, authorities said, and Bidun political activists said in April that some support Islamic State but have yet to act on their beliefs. In a sign of growing fears, the government established a gun amnesty earlier this year to encourage Kuwaitis to hand in their firearms.

 

Monday, June 29, 2015

TUNISIAN ATTACK: British And Irish Tourists Die In Beach Horror

Friday 26 June 2015: Tunisian shop window after terrorist attack on Friday.

The gunman, disguised as a tourist, pulled out a Kalashnikov hidden in an umbrella before firing at holidaymakers on the beach.

A gunman disguised as a holidaymaker has killed at least 38 people, including eight Britons, in an attack on a popular tourist resort.
Terrified sunbathers ran for their lives as the attacker, dressed in shorts and hiding his Kalashnikov inside an umbrella, opened fire on the beach in Port el Kantaoui on the outskirts of Sousse, Tunisia.
He then entered the Imperial Marhaba hotel through the swimming pool area, shooting people as he went and also threw an explosive, witnesses said.
Tourists in the sea and on the sand ran and barricaded themselves in their hotel rooms after gunfire erupted, while medics used sunloungers to carry victims still in their swimming costumes.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond confirmed at least five Britons had died and warned the number could rise.
He said a "high proportion" of the casualties were expected to be British "because of the nature of the resort".
Irish mother-of-two Lorna Carty, from Robinstown, Co Meath, was also killed. Family friends said she had taken her husband on holiday to help him recover from heart surgery.
And the nurse, who was aged in her 50s, was believed to have gone to the beach by herself when the gunman went on the rampage.
Tunisia's health ministry said British, German, Belgian and Tunisian nationals were among the dead.
At least 36 people were injured in the assault, which happened just hours after a man was decapitated by an attacker brandishing Islamist flags at a French factory.
The US State Department said there was no evidence the atrocities were co-ordinated.
Earlier this week, Islamic State (IS) called on its supporters to increase attacks during Ramadan and "be keen on waging invasion in this eminent month and commit martyrdom".
The gunman in Tunisia was a young student from the city of Kairouan who was reportedly unknown to authorities. He was later shot dead by police.
Twitter accounts that support IS released three photos of someone they said was the gunman.
Speaking about how the country's worst attack in recent history unfolded, Tunisian security official Rafik Chelli said the gunman "had a parasol (umbrella) in his hand".
"He went down to put it in the sand and then he took out his Kalashnikov and began shooting wildly."
A photo has emerged of a dead man wearing black shorts, face down in the street with an automatic weapon next to him and surrounded by police.
The interior ministry had previously said two attackers were involved, including one who had fled the scene.
Local radio said police captured a second gunman, but officials did not confirm the arrest or his role in the attack.

British tourists have been describing what happened. Gary Pine said: "We thought fire crackers were going off but you could see quite quickly what was going on.
"There was a mass exodus off the beach. My son was in the sea at the time and myself and my wife were shouting at him to get out and as he ran up he said I’ve just saw someone get shot.
Holidaymaker Susan Ricketts said: "It sounded like a machine gun going off. There are people crying and going hysterical. We just came up to our room."
Another tourist John Yeoman, who barricaded himself inside his hotel room using a bed and chair, said: "People are running around the hotel. No-one has really been told what to do."
Prime Minister David Cameron said: "The people who do this do it in the name of a twisted perverted ideology."
A British embassy crisis team is being sent to Tunisia after a COBRA meeting took place to co-ordinate a response.
Travel companies have offered tourists the chance to change their holiday bookings to Tunisia in light of the attack.
Thomas Cook said customers due to travel between Friday and Sunday can cancel their holidays free of charge, while those flying out from Monday up to July 24 can amend bookings for holidays to Tunisia free of charge.
People booked through Monarch or Cosmos Holidays in the next seven days can also choose not to travel and instead change their destination.
Tui, which runs Thomson and First Choice, could not confirm whether it operated tours through the hotel.
Back in March Sky's Sherine Tadros reported that the bulk of foreign fighters who have joined the ranks of IS come from Tunisia.
Meanwhile, deadly explosions have hit a Shiite mosque in Kuwait's capital after Friday prayers. Dozens of people were killed and many others wounded in the attack.
Following the day of violence, British police are putting extra security measures in place for events this weekend, including Armed Forces Day and Pride London.[source]

ATTACK ON FRANCE: Man Decapitated in Terror Attack

French police have been on the scene since Friday morning. Photo: AFP

A man was decapitated in a terrorist attack at a gas factory near Lyon, eastern France, on Friday. The attacker, who had links to an extremist movement, has been arrested.

Main events: 
  • One dead, two hurt in attack on French factory
  • Attacker on French gas factory named Air Products reportedly carrying Isis flags
  • Attacker named as Yassin Salhi (spelling unconfirmed) who was known for links to extremists
  • Decapitated body found nearby with inscriptions scrawled on
  • Suggestions a second person was in vehicle
17:54 - Recap
We are wrapping up our live blog after what has been another emotional day in France's history.
Click here to read the latest wrap from the AFP news agency, or scroll down to read it as it happened.
17:42 - Israeli minister urges French Jews to flee
"I call on the Jews of France - come home! Anti-Semitism is rising, terror is increasing," immigration minister Zeev Elkin, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rightwing Likud party, said in a statement.
   
"This is a national mission of the highest priority."
   
Netanyahu sparked controversy by encouraging French Jews to move to Israel in the wake of January's Paris attacks that left 17 dead, including four at a Jewish supermarket.
17:18 - The suspect and victim arrived together
French media is reporting that both men arrived at the factory in the same vehicle - likely in order to get through security. The suspect then beheaded his victim inside the van in factory grounds, then left the vehicle to pin the man's head to the factory gates.
Salhi then went back to the car, removed the body, and proceeded to drive the vehicle directly into the gas canisters.
Though access to the facility is restricted because it contains dangerous substances, the delivery company had clearance to enter.
17:01 - CCTV attack footage seen
The AFP news agency has reportly had access to CCTV footage from the moment of the explosion.  
"The victim's head (...) was put on the fence by his presumed assassin," the agency reported.
Salhi then "took over the wheel of the truck and crashed into the gas cylinders, causing an explosion".
A team of firefighters who were called to help were then accosted by Salhi who screamed 'Allahou Akbar', which means "God is greatest" in Arabic.
"The firefighters then managed to contain the scene until the police arrived," the AFP reported. 
16:45 - Hollande puts security alert at highest level
The security operation known as Vigipirate will be raised to the maximum level in Rhône-Alpes for the next three days, President Hollande has announced. 
The operation was put into place nationwide after the January terror attacks in Paris, and sees soldiers and police standing guard at sensitive sites across the country.
16:32 - Attacker was a supplier to gas factory
Reports on French TV are claiming that the attacker Yassin Salhi, a delivery driver, was a regular supplier to the factory and therefore was able to gain access to the site.
The attack was carried out using one his delivery vans. It is believed his own boss was the man he decapitated before attempting to carry out an apparent suicide attack by causing an explosion at the factory.
16:24 - Terror expert says another attack is 'probable'
Jean-Charles Brisard, the chairman at the Paris-based Center for the Analysis of Terrorism, has told The Local that the French should expect another terror attack. 
"I think what's happened was unfortunately something we were expecting. We knew there would be more attacks," he said. 
"This was the first time in France that we have had an attempt to commit a suicide bombing, the first time the target is a sensitive facility." 
He added that the choice of target was an "interesting" one.
"It would have got major media attention if they hadn't failed in their attempt, which was trying to commit a suicide attack as far as I can understand. Their intention was to target a sensitive facility which would have resulted in many casualties."
He added that it was "probable" that France would be attacked again, and that the French public are aware their country is a target that is often mentioned in Isis propaganda.
16:16 - Victim was suspect's boss: reports
BFM TV are reporting that the victim was actually the Yassin Salhi's boss. This has not been confirmed. The origin of the report is AFP who are quoting a source close to the probe.
16:14 - PM - "Blind threat and terror spare no nation"
16:10 - So what exactly is a "fiche S"?
Authorities were keeping an eye on the terrorist for two years from 2006, opening a "fiche S" against him.
A "fiche S" - for which the S stands for "Sûreté d'etat" - has a lifespan of two years, meaning authorities renew them if they consider the person in question to be still dangerous.
While having one of the files doesn't warrant any kind of arrest certain individuals can be put under extra surveillance.
15:57 - What we don't know so far...
There's still several gaps in the story of what happened at 10 am on Friday at the Air Products factory near Lyon.
We know that there was one victim, who was decapitated and had his head stuck on a post on the fence around the factory. We don't know the connection of the victim to the suspect and at one point they came across each other.
If it's true that the victim's vehicle was used to crash through the factory gates, it's possible that he was car-jacked by the attacker and beheaded in the car before he drove in to the factory.
The fact he was arrested so soon after crashing into the factory suggests police and fire fighters were already on the scene.
Had they been following the attacker in the vehicle or had they been called out or perhaps they were simply on the site because of the nature of the products produced by the factory?
Attention will also be placed on why in 2008 anti-terror police decided not to keep open a file on suspected attacker Yassin Salhi, despite knowing he had links to Islamist extremism.
15:50 - Wife of suspect held
Confirmation that the wife of the terror suspect Yassin Salhi has been held by police, who are currently in the process of carrying out a search at the family property in the Lyon suburb of Saint-Priest.
Police are currently also holding her husband, Yassin Salhi, 35, and another person who was seen driving up and down the gas site in a suspicious manner but has not been formally linked to the attack.
15:37 - Why Air Products factory?
There’s been plenty of speculation over why the attacker targeted the Air Products factory on the industrial estate not far from Lyon.
Most have focused on the fact that Air Products is American owned, based in Allentown, Pennsylvania, although it is not clear whether this was the reason by Yassin Salhi targeted it.
But given that the factory is the third largest producer of atmospheric gases in France, another motive may have been simply to cause a devastating explosion.
In a statement, it said: “Our priority at this stage is to take care of our employees, who have been evacuated from the site and all accounted for.
“Emergency services are on site and have contained the situation. The site is secure. Our crisis and emergency response teams have been activated and are working closely with all relevant authorities.”
15:30 - More on the victim
A man whose decapitated head was pinned to the gates of a French factory in a grisly attack has been identified as a local businessman from eastern France, a source close to the investigation said Friday.
It is believed the victim's van was actually used by suspect Yassin Sahli to crash in to the factory.
It was not clear whether the businessman was killed on the site of the attack, where a suspected Islamist drove a vehicle into an Air Products factory around 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Lyon before setting off several explosive devices.
  15:23 - Anti- terror operation at suspect's apartment
Anti-terror police from the RAID unit are currently carrying out an operation at the apartment of the suspect, where several people have been led out by masked officers.
They are believed to be the suspect's three children and wife.
One other person close to suspected attacker Yassin Salhi has been arrested.
15:18 - More calls for "unity"
Almost six months after the Paris terror attacks which shock France to the core the country's politicians are once again calling for unity.
President François Hollande has already said France must not give in to fear and its PM Manuel Valls said the attack showed the terrorist threat was "extremely high".
Minister for Education Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said France must remain "mobilised and united."
15:15 - Decapitated victim identified as local businessman
Details are emerging of the victim, who has not been named, but apparently identified as a local business from the region. Earlier BFM TV reported that he was a delivery driver, but latest reports suggest he was involved in transport.
It is believed that his vehicle was used by the terrorist to carry out the attack.
15:00 - What we know of the terror attacker so far
Here's what we know about Yassin Salhi, the man who is suspected of carrying out a new terror attack on French soil.
14:53 - More from the suspects partner
The suspect's wife has been speaking to Europe 1 radio. 
"My heart is going to stop. I do not know what happened. Have they arrested him?" she asks.
"He went to work this morning at 7am. He does deliveries. He did not return between noon and two, I expect him this afternoon.
"My sister  said turn on the television. She was crying," said the young woman.
"I know my husband. We have a normal family life. He goes to work, he comes back," she explains.
"We are normal Muslims. We do Ramadan. We have three children and a normal family life," says the wife of the suspect. 
14:44 - "He went to work as normal"
The partner of the terror suspect has spoken to Europe1 radio.
"I don't know what happened, he left to go to work as normal," said the partner.
14:26 - Victim believed to be delivery driver
According to reports on French TV the victim is believed to be the manager of a local delivery service.
14:26 - France's PM returns home after attack
France's prime minister said an attack on a factory Friday was "Islamist terrorism," announcing he was cutting short a visit to South America to deal with the crisis.
   
"Islamist terrorism has hit France again," Manuel Valls told a press conference in Colombia's capital Bogota, adding that he would take part by telephone in an emergency meeting called by President Francois Hollande, then rush back to France.
14:20 - Le Pen calls for firm action against Islamist extremists
Marine Le Pen has released a statement calling for strong measures against Islamists.
"Big declarations must now stop. The marches, slogans and emotional speech must now give way to action. Nothing has been done to stop Islamic fundamentalism for years," said the leader of the far-right National Front.
14:17 - False photo of terrorist circulating on social media
French newspaper Le Figaro has published a tweet that was being passed around social media in France that alleged to be the terrorist Yassin Sahli.
However it appears the photo is definitely not that of the attacker.
14:02 -  Minister says attack victim was 'abjectly decapitated'

Details of how and at what point the victim was decapitated are still unclear. Initial reports suggested the man's head was placed on a fence that surrounds the factory.
French president François Hollande confirmed that "inscriptions" were written on the victim's head, but did not confirm reports that they were written in Arabic.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve simply said he was "abjectly decapitated".
13:58 - Courage of security forces commended
Barnard Cazeneuve has been giving a few more details of the moment the attacker was arrested. It seems he was apprehended thanks to an policeman or fireman who was able "to keep a cool head".
"After the crime was committed, the suspected culprit was neutralised by someone from the security forces of Isere who had arrived at the scene and who had a lot of courage and kept his cool and proceeded to put the individual out of action," said Cazeneuve.
13:51  - More reaction from around Europe
Germany stands united with France against "terror's blind hate" and in defence of "free society", Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said after a deadly attack Friday at a factory near Lyon.
Steinmeier said he was appalled by the "shocking news of a heinous murder and an assault with several injured", calling it an "act of terror and fanaticism which we condemn in the strongest terms".
13:48 - Attack is new test for France
Bernard Cazeneuve, the interior minister is at the scene and has described the terrorist attack as a "new test for France". "Our country will be stronger," he said.
13:47 - Suspected terror attack in Tunisia
As France tries to digest the latest terror attack on its soil, reports are coming through of a terror attack on a beach in Tunisia, that has left several dead.
13:44 - Authorities are still trying to identify the victim
There is still no word about who the victim was. Initial reports suggested he was not an employee at the factory. This has not been confirmed with government minister Bernard Cazeneuve simply saying they are still trying to identify the dead person.
13:42 - Hollande calls for unity 
Hollande tweets: "Our response is action, prevention, dissuasion, and the necessity to hold on to our values and to never give in to fear".
13:39  - Several arrests made 
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve confirms that several people close to the attacker have been arrested. These are presumed to be Yacine Salhi's family members.
13;37 - Spanish PM condemns attack
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has "firmly condemned" the attack
13:33 - Salafist link revealed
The suspect had a 'link' to Salafist movement, said Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve but was not implicated in any terrorist activities. The Salafi movement is a group within Sunni Islam, which is often associated with literalist approaches to Islam.
13:25 - Authorities opened file on attacker in 2006
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said a "fiche S" was opened on the attacker in 2006 for radicalisation. A "fiche S" for which the S stands for "Sûreté d'etat" basically means he had been identified as a possible danger and should be watched.
The file was not renewed in 2008, however, meaning authorities no longer considered him a risk. Cazeneuve also said the man named as Yacine Salhi (spelling unconfirmed) had no criminal record.
13:18 - Attacker named and was known to police
French interior minister has just named the attacker as Yacine Sahi (unconfirmed spelling) who is believed to be father of three children.
Cazeneuve said he was known to anti-terror police for radicalisation. A file was opened on him in 2006 but not "renewed in 2008".
He was known for links to extremism but not identified as a high risk who would carry out an attack, says Cazeneuve.
13:12 - Victim still not identified


13:08 - Confusion over presence of "second attacker"
French President Francois Hollande said a man who launched a "terrorist" assault on a gas factory Friday has been identified and that there may have been a second attacker.
"This attack was in a vehicle driven by one person, perhaps accompanied by another," Hollande said at an EU summit in Brussels. "The individual suspected of committing this attack has been arrested and identified."
But there's no suggestion that police are hunting another attacker. Reports in the French press suggest the second man in the car may have acted under duress.
12:53 - "We must not cede to fear"
The president says "there is emotion but emotion cannot be the only response. We need action and dissuasion. We must not cede to fear."
"The intent was without doubt to cause an explosion. It was a terrorist attack," Hollande told reporters as he cut short his stay at a European summit.



(Photos: AFP)
12:50 - More from Hollande
The French president has confirmed that "one person was driving the car perhaps accompanied by another".
Hollande says he drove into the gas canisters "without doubt to provoke an explosion". He confirms a victim was decapitated and the head did have inscriptions written on it.

"We express our solidarity with the victim," he added.
The president says the suspect has been arrested and has been identified. Sensitive sites near the attack location have had their security reinforced and "all necessary measures will be taken".
12:48 - Hollande says the attack was "of a terrorist nature"
President Francois Hollande is addressing the nation, referring to the incident as an "attack of a terrorist nature".
12: 42 - More images and video from the scene:
Police are on the scene, on foot and in helicopters.



12:39 - Defence council called in Paris
French president François Hollande is returning to Paris to hold a meeting of his Defence Council - with chief ministers and military chiefs. He is expected to make a statement to the media shortly as is Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve who has arrived at the scene.
12:33 - More details emerging of attack
Details of how the attack unfolded are still emerging. The latest reports say the attacker crashed through the gates to the factory and drove into gas canisters which set off the explosion. He then tried to open the gas canisters himself before being arrested by police and firemen.
Details of the dead man who was decapitated are also conflicting, with more reports claiming the head was pinned on to a fence and had Arabic writing scrawled on it. Other reports now suggest the man may have been decapitated in the explosion.
12:31 - A closer look at the area
A few videos appearing online showing the scene in the wake of the attacks. 
12:17 - Bordeaux mayor condemns attack
The Mayor of Bordeaux, Alain Juppé, took to Twitter to condemn the attacks.
"The terrorist threat is at a maximum", he wrote, adding that France "must make every effort to protect its citizens".
12:15 - Hollande returning to France
French president François Hollande is returning to France from Brussels where he was due to attend a summit of EU leaders.
12:10 - Suspect not speaking
According to BFM TV reporters the suspect who has been arrested is being questioned by anti-terror police, but has so far refused to talk. He has no ID papers with him so police are not in a position to identify him.
12:03 - Suspicious activity seen before attack
A man was seen driving back and forth in front of the target building this morning, before the attack, reported Le Dauphiné Libéré.
A security source told the paper that they had been in a "code red" situation in recent weeks, and were prepared for "an attack of this nature".
11:57 - More images of the factory where the attack took place
11:54 - The latest write through from AFP on what happened  this morning
An attacker carrying an Islamist flag killed one person and injured several others Friday at a gas factory in eastern France, according to a legal source.
The suspected attacker entered the factory and set off several small explosive devices, the source said. A decapitated body was found nearby the factory, another source said.
"According to the initial findings of the enquiry, one or several individuals on board a vehicle, drove into the factory. An explosion then took place," said one of the sources.
"The decapitated body of a person was found nearby the factory but we do not yet know whether the body was transported to the place or not," added this source, adding that a "flag with Arabic writing on it was found on the scene."
A man thought to be the person who carried out the attack has been arrested, according to sources close to the enquiry.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said he would go "immediately" to the scene, his office said.
The attack occurred around 10:00 am local time (0800 GMT), according to local media.
The attack came nearly six months after the Islamist attacks in and around Paris that killed 17 people in January that started with a shooting at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Two Islamist brothers attacked the satirical magazine, killing 12. A policewoman and four hostages in a Jewish supermarket were also killed during the three-day attacks.
The attacks drew record crowds out on the streets of Paris days in a historic "march against terrorism".
11:50 - 'Can't believe it happened here'
The Local spoke to a businessman Eric Coquet, from Vege France, a company located near the scene of the attack.
"We didn't see anything, but we heard the explosion. It was like a lorry backfiring. People here are not really scared, but they are shocked that something like this could happen just round the corner.
"The police are everywhere it looks like they are still searching for people. The anti-terror unit is also here and the interior minister is on his way.
"We haven't been told that we have to stay inside."
11:48 - France's PM ramps up security
France's Prime Minister Manual Valls has tightened security measures on 'sensitive' sites in response to the attacks, reports the AFP.
Here's a closer look at the scene where the attack took place.

(Photo: GoogleMaps)
11:43 - Arabic writing scrawled on victim's head
According to AFP's legal source Arabic writing was also scrawled on the decapitated head of the victim that was found hanging on the fence of the company grounds.
11:40 - Victim's head 'found on fence of company enclosure'
Local media is reporting that the head of the victim was found "hanging on the fence" of the factory.
11:38 - EU leaders meeting begins without Hollande
The French president is in Brussels to attend a crucial summit of EU leaders. The meeting has begun however without the presence of France's head of state. It is unclear whether he will return to France.
11:35 - Arrested man known to French intelligence services
Reports from regional paper Le Dauphiné say the arrested man was known to France's anti-terrorist police (DGSI). He is believed to be aged in his 30s.
11:30 - Workers told to remain inside
Workers in neighbouring businesses have been told to remain inside while police and France's military police descend on the scene. The latest reports are saying one dead and at least ten people injured in the attack, that occurred at a factory around 25 kilometres to the south of Lyon
11:29 - Suspected attacker arrested
Legal sources have told AFP that the man arrested at the scene is indeed the suspected attacker.
11:24 - Victim not an employee
According to reports the victim in the attack, a man who was decapitated, was not an employee at the factory. Around 40 employees at the factory are being kept inside, fearing there may be further attacks.

This image shows an aerial view of the factory where the attack took place on Friday.
11:22 - One person 'has been arrested'
Local newspaper Le Dauphiné Liberé is reporting that a man has been arrested at the scene. There's been no confirmation whether the arrested man is the attacker.

11:14 - Interior Minister heads to the scene
Details of the incident are still sketchy but the man is reported to have attacked the factory at around 10am. France's specialist anti-terror police have been called in and the country's interior minister is on his way to the scene.
11:10 - Attack was at a gas factory in Isere
Here's the latest from AFP:
An attacker carrying an Islamist flag killed one person and injured several others Friday at a gas factory in eastern France, according to a legal source.
The suspected attacker entered the factory and set off several small explosive devices, the source said. A decapitated body was found nearby the factory, another source said.
11:00 - Reports of one dead and several injured in attack
One man has died and several people were hurt after an attack on a French factory in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier on Friday. 
The man's head was found dozens of metres from his body, Le Dauphine newspaper reported. [source]

 

FILE - In this June 5, 2015, file photo, a gate leading to the Homeland Security Department headquarters in northwest Washington. Hackers stole personnel data and Social Security numbers for every federal employee, a government worker union said Thursday, June 11, 2015, charging that the cyberattack on U.S. employee data is far worse than the Obama administration has acknowledged. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)


WASHINGTON (AP) — A major federal union says the cyber theft of employee information is more damaging than it first appeared, asserting that hackers stole personnel data and Social Security numbers for every federal employee.

The Obama administration had acknowledged that up to 4 million current and former employees are affected by the December cyber breach of Office of Personnel Management data, but it had been vague about exactly what was taken.

But J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said in a letter Thursday to OPM director Katherine Archuleta that based on incomplete information OPM provided to the union, "we believe that the Central Personnel Data File was the targeted database, and that the hackers are now in possession of all personnel data for every federal employee, every federal retiree, and up to 1 million former federal employees."

The OPM data file contains the records of non-military, non-intelligence executive branch employees, which covers most federal civilian employees but not, for example, members of Congress and their staffs.

The union believes the hackers stole military records and veterans' status information, address, birth date, job and pay history, health insurance, life insurance, and pension information; and age, gender and race data, he said.

Also Thursday, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic Senate leader, said that the hack was carried out by "the Chinese" without specifying whether he meant the Chinese government or individuals. Reid is one of eight lawmakers briefed on the most secret intelligence information. U.S. officials have declined to publicly blame China, which has denied involvement.

The union, which does not have direct access to the investigation, said it is basing its assessment on "sketchy" information provided by OPM. The agency has sought to downplay the damage, saying what was taken "could include" personnel file information such as Social Security numbers and birth dates.

"We believe that Social Security numbers were not encrypted, a cybersecurity failure that is absolutely indefensible and outrageous," Cox said in the letter. The union called the breach "an abysmal failure on the part of the agency to guard data that has been entrusted to it by the federal workforce."

Samuel Schumach, an OPM spokesman, said that "for security reasons, we will not discuss specifics of the information that might have been compromised."

Schumach did, however, address Cox's comment on encryption. "Though data encryption is a valuable protection method, today's adversaries are sophisticated enough that encryption alone does not guarantee protection," he said. "OPM does utilize encryption in some instances and is currently increasing the types of methods utilized to encrypt data."

The central personnel data file contains up to 780 separate pieces of information about an employee.

Cox complained in the letter that "very little substantive information has been shared with us, despite the fact that we represent more than 670,000 federal employees in departments and agencies throughout the executive branch."

The union's release and Reid's comment in the Senate put into sharper focus what is looking like a massive cyber espionage success by China. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, an Intelligence Committee member, has also said the hack came from China.

Mike Rogers, the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said last week that Chinese intelligence agencies have for some time been seeking to assemble a database of information about Americans. Those personal details can be used for blackmail, or also to shape bogus emails designed to appear legitimate while injecting spyware on the networks of government agencies or businesses Chinese hackers are trying to penetrate.

U.S. intelligence officials say China, like the U.S., spies for national security advantage. Unlike the U.S., they say, China also engages in large-scale theft of corporate secrets for the benefit of state-sponsored enterprises that compete with Western companies. Nearly every major U.S. company has been hacked from China, they say.

The Office of Personnel Management is also a repository for extremely sensitive information assembled through background investigations of employees and contractors who hold security clearances. OPM's Schumach has said that there is "no evidence" that information was taken. But there is growing skepticism among intelligence agency employees and contractors about that claim.

In the Senate on Thursday, Democrats blocked a Republican effort to add a cybersecurity bill to a sweeping defense measure. The vote was 56-40, four votes short of the number necessary.

Democrats had warned of the dangers of cyberspying after the theft of government personnel files, but Democrats voted against moving ahead on the legislation, frustrated with the GOP-led effort to tie the two bills together. President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the defense legislation over budget changes by the GOP.

"The issue of cybersecurity is simply too important to be used as a political chit and tucked away in separate legislation." said Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del.[source]