Pyromaniac artist who nailed scrotum to Red Square sets Bank of France entrance ablaze

Pyotr Pavlensky, an artist from St. Petersburg who gained worldwide notoriety after nailing his scrotum to the cobblestones of Moscow’s Red Square, has set the entrance to the Bank of France in Paris on fire.

Pictures showing Pavlensky in front of the Bank of France door in the Place de la Bastille with flames raging in the barred windows appeared on social media on Monday.

Police arrested the radical artist at 4:10am, according to photographer Capucine Henry, who shared a photo on her Twitter feed.

The ‘performance’ caused the bank to shut down on Monday, according to a note attached to the door.

It is not clear what Pavlensky’s message was, but a Femen activist apparently quoted the artist as saying that “the revival of revolutionary France will trigger the global fire of revolutions.”

“The bankers have taken the place of the monarchs,” another quote reads.

Pavlensky received political asylum in France earlier this year after he fled Russia with his partner and their children following sexual assault allegations. In an interview with Russian TV channel Rain, Pavlensky said that his family lives “like true French: we do not work and we do not pay.” He said that he “seized” the house in Paris he lives in and resorts to “taking food” from the shops. “The security here is not very attentive,” the artist said.

Setting things on fire is not something new for Pyotr Pavlensky, who set fire to the doors of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) headquarters in Moscow. The protest-performance cost the man seven months in jail and a fine of $ 7,800.

READ MORE: Shock artist Pavlensky sets Russian security service HQ door on fire

The 33-year-old also made quite a few headlines when he cut off one of his earlobes while sitting naked on the roof of the Serbsky Center psychiatric hospital in Moscow in protest against Russian forensic psychiatry.

READ MORE: ​Naked protest artist cuts earlobe off on roof of psychiatric clinic

The ‘performance’ which earned Pavlensky fame, however, was when he nailed his scrotum to a cobblestone near the walls of the Kremlin in Red Square.

READ MORE: Shock artist nails his genitals to Red Square cobblestone in protest

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‘Everybody started panicking’: AirAsia pilot forced to dive 20,000ft as plane loses cabin pressure

An AirAsia flight from Perth to Bali lost cabin pressure just 25 minutes after take-off on Sunday, forcing the pilot to make a terrifying 20,000-foot dive to enable the 145 passengers on board to breathe.

AirAsia flight QZ535 reportedly plummeted 20,000 feet (6,000 meters) in just 10 minutes at a speed of roughly 400 knots (740 kph) according to Flightradar24 after a sudden loss of cabin pressure forced the pilot to dive to an altitude at which the air is breathable.

“The panic was escalated because of the behavior of staff who were screaming, looked tearful and shocked,” Clare Askew told reporters at Perth Airport, as cited by the Australian Associated Press. Oxygen masks were deployed and the cabin alarm sounded throughout the incident.

“Now, I get it, but we looked to them for reassurance and we didn’t get any, we were more worried because of how panicked they were,” Askew said.

“I actually picked up my phone and sent a text message to my family, just hoping that they would get it,” Perth woman Leah told 9News. “We were all pretty much saying goodbye to each other. It was really upsetting.”

“One of the stewardesses started running down the aisle and we thought, why is she running. And then the masks fell down and everybody started panicking,” Leah added.

AirAsia has experienced several such issues in recent months: In July, one aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing in Brisbane after a birdstrike; a week previous, another AirAsia flight was forced to land at Perth Airport after an engine malfunction.

Air Asia issued a brief statement about Sunday’s incident: “The safety of our guests is our utmost priority,” the statement said. “AirAsia Indonesia apologises for any inconvenience caused.”

The company said its engineers were already investigating the incident and were examining the aircraft.

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Israeli jets ‘hit Syrian anti-aircraft battery’ after alleged attack – IDF

Israeli warplanes have reportedly hit a Syrian anti-aircraft battery, Reuters reported citing Israeli military. The report said the Syrian forces fired at the jets while they were “overflying Lebanon.”

The battery was reportedly located 50 kilometers (30 miles) east of Damascus.

The planes, which the Israeli military said were on a “reconnaissance mission,” were not hit.

“Earlier today, an anti-aircraft missile was launched from Syria towards IDF aircraft during a routine flight over Lebanon. No hits confirmed,” the Israeli Defense Force spokesperson tweeted.

The Israeli military reportedly hit the Syrian battery with four bombs, leaving it no longer operational.

Israel immediately reported the incident to Russia, accusing the government in Damascus of a “clear provocation,” according to Haaretz, citing the military.

“The Syrian regime is responsible for any firing from its territory. We see this incident as a clear provocation and we will not allow it,” Haaretz quoted the army spokesperson as saying.

According to the Haaretz report, an “Sa5-type missile” was fired at the Israeli aircraft, which is a NATO reporting name for Soviet-designed S-200 surface-to-air missiles.

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Washington unable to stick to agreements – Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has accused Washington of an inability to build bridges and stick to agreements. The US unilaterally slapped sanctions on North Korea and may now pull out of the landmark Iran nuclear deal, Lavrov said.

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© Maksim Blinov

“Two years ago, an agreement was reached on the Iranian nuclear program, which was approved by the UN Security Council. The whole world welcomed it. Now Washington is pulling out of the agreement. This is again a problem of deal-making being part of foreign policy values,” Lavrov said, speaking at a panel discussion called ‘Global Politics and its Agenda: How to protect peace’ at the World Festival of Youth and Students in Sochi.

He said the situation with North Korea, which is often compared to that of Iran, speaks for itself.

READ MORE: ‘Until first bomb drops’: Tillerson vows to continue diplomatic efforts on N. Korea

“Back in 2005, an agreement was reached on the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula, and all sides began to implement this agreement, but just in a few weeks’ time Washington introduced – without securing approval of anyone else – unilateral sanctions, began to chase some bank in Macau, which conducted some operations with North Korea. Instead of trying to make things clearer, they immediately slapped sanctions [on Pyongyang],” the foreign minister said.

“I do not justify North Korea,” Lavrov added. “Pyongyang behaves defiantly, grossly violating all resolutions of the UN Security Council.

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Baghdad sends military to ‘secure’ Kirkuk from Kurds

Kurdistan’s Vice-President Kosrat Rasul said in a statement that Kurds have the right to self-defense.

“It is unfortunate that the Iraqi forces and the Hashd al-Shaabi intend to attack Kirkuk. We want to reassure everyone that we and the brave Peshmerga are in Kirkuk and will defend it. Though we do not want to initiate war, we will defend ourselves with high morale and will not allow Kirkuk be attacked. We demand the brave and strong people of Kirkuk to help the police and security forces inside the city to better protect the situation in the city.”

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‘Cold creepiness’ – Assange on Clinton after she calls WikiLeaks ‘Russian intelligence subsidiary’

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has accused Hillary Clinton of “constant lying,” after the former US presidential candidate told Australia’s ABC TV that his organization was just a “subsidiary of Russian intelligence.”

There is “something wrong with Hillary Clinton,” Assange tweeted.

“It is not just her constant lying,” he wrote on Monday. “It is not just that she throws off menacing glares and seethes thwarted entitlement.

“Something much darker rides along with it. A cold creepiness rarely seen.”

Hillary Clinton claimed in an interview with the ABC’s Four Corners program that Assange colluded with the Russian government in the lead-up to the 2016 US presidential election.

“Assange has become a kind of nihilistic opportunist who does the bidding of a dictator,” she said.

“WikiLeaks is unfortunately now practically a fully owned subsidiary of Russian intelligence.”

Clinton claimed that in a bid to disrupt the election and derail her presidential campaign, Assange teamed up with none other than Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“I think that their intention, coming from the very top with Putin, was to hurt me and to help [then-presidential hopeful Donald] Trump,” she said.

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange © Peter Nicholls

“Our intelligence community and other observers of Russia and Putin have said he held a grudge against me because as secretary of state, I stood up against some of his actions, his authoritarianism,” Clinton said.

“If he’s such a martyr of free speech, why doesn’t WikiLeaks ever publish anything coming out of Russia? You don’t see damaging, negative information coming out about the Kremlin on WikiLeaks,” she added.

Assange tweeted in response that WikiLeaks’ “last Russian exposé” actually came out just three weeks ago, and that his organization has a “pristine record for accuracy.”

Clinton alleged that the actions of WikiLeaks and Russia played a major role in her losing the race.

“There was a concerted operation between WikiLeaks and Russia and most likely people in the United States to… weaponize that information, to make up stories, outlandish, often terrible stories that had no basis in fact… which were used to denigrate me, my campaign, people who supported me, and to help Trump.”

READ MORE: Clinton camp calls WikiLeaks ‘Russian propaganda arm’ after damaging emails leak

According to Clinton, WikiLeaks was driven by Assange’s personal dislike of her.

“I had a lot of history with him because I was secretary of state when WikiLeaks published a lot of very sensitive information from our State Department and our Defense Department,” she said.

The US government has accused Moscow of interfering in the 2016 US election by hacking and leaking emails of Democratic Party operatives, as well as correspondences of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta. Moscow has repeatedly denied meddling in the election, noting that no evidence has been provided to support the accusations.

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Rise of the right: Austria’s election results & their implications for Europe

The resounding success of two anti-immigrant parties in the Austrian elections, with the right-wing Freedom Party (FPO) delivering one of the strongest performances in more than a decade, is a direct result of Europe’s open border policies, analysts say.

According to the preliminary results published by the Austrian interior ministry, Kurz’s conservative People’s Party (OVP) has taken a clear lead in the election with 31.4 percent of the vote, while the FPO, which was last part of a government between 2000 and 2005, snatched a victory from the Social Democrats (SPO) in a very close competition for the second place.

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Top candidate of Peoples Party (OeVP) and Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz talks with journalist after leaving a polling station in Vienna, Austria October 15, 2017. © Leonhard Foeger

While the FPO secured 27.4 percent of the vote, the Social Democrats received 26.7 percent support. Ahead of the snap October 2017 parliamentary election, both Kurz and the FPO leading candidate Heinz-Christian Strache focused their campaigns on migration and the refugee issue.

Migration definitely dominated the entire election campaign ahead of the Austria’s October parliamentary vote, Dr. Barbara Kolm, the president of the Friedrich von Hayek Institute in Vienna and the Director of the Austrian Economics Center, told RT.
The massive inflow of refugees in 2015 and 2016 placed a heavy burden on the Austrian economy, social welfare system and the society itself. 

“Those people, who contribute to the economy, who pay taxes and work hard, are the ones that actually lose,” Kolm explained. Austria had to change its policies or let itself be “harmonized to death.”

Christian Ebner, a deputy of Austria’s Chamber of Commerce says that the “whole political landscape in Austria shifted to the right” when in 2015 people understood that it’s a failed policy to let so many people, who are often undocumented, into the country.

READ MORE: ‘Forcing EU states to accept illegal migrants is ticking time bomb for European unity’

The FPO, which was always anti-immigrant, capitalized on the 2015 refugee crisis and received a significant public support over the recent years, with both OVP and SPO noticing it, he said. However, Kurz and his party eventually dared to take a “more conservative stance in terms of immigration” in an attempt to win back voters from the FPO while the Social Democrats only “slightly moved to the center.”

The liberal establishment policy and the necessity of the constant compromises between the former coalition partners – OVP and SPO – has led Austria into stagnation, Kolm explained. 

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Muslims pray during Friday prayers in the street in front of the city hall of Clichy, near Paris, France. © Benoit Tessier

Austrians saw “the lack of economic growth and stagnation of reforms,” she said. “We have not seen any reforms in the past couple of years with the big SPO-OVP coalition government” with the people “demanding a change.”

‘Austria turns to Hungary, Poland on tougher migration stance’ 

While Austrian society is pretty much united in its stance on the migration, Europe is deeply divided over the issue, analysts say. 

There is already a deep rift in terms of stance on immigration between the establishment governments in Berlin and Paris, as well as the liberal EU administration in Brussels, and the conservative forces that rule over the eastern part of the union and the Visegrad Group in particular, Ebner believes.

As the public mood continues to move to the right across Europe, positions of the “establishment in Brussels” are “getting weaker.”

He particularly drew attention to the fact that a right-wing coalition that could be formed in Austria following the latest parliamentary elections might bring Austria, which traditionally “stuck with Germany and the Brussels establishment” in its policy, closer to the Visegrad Group, which now includes Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which took an especially-tough stance on immigration and refused to fulfill their obligations under the refugee allocation quotas imposed by Brussels.

Shift of national governments across EU

The political trend, involving a shift to the right, affects not only Eastern Europe or Austria, but also countries that have traditionally been liberal strongholds in recent years, including Germany and France.

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FILE PHOTO Migrants rest as a policeman watches them near Hungary's border fence on the Serbian side of the border near Morahalom, Hungary © Laszlo Balogh

At the September parliamentary elections, the right-wing anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party enjoyed what was called a historic success while Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats suffered their worst results in more than half a century.

In the French presidential elections in spring 2017, Marine le Pen, the head of the right-wing National Front party made it into the runoff beating the candidates from such major establishment parties as the Republicans and the Socialists.

The Dutch parliamentary election in March also showed a turn to the right wing as Geert Wilders’ far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) came second after the ruling People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD). Wilders’ PVV secured 20 seats in the House of Representatives, which is eight more seats than it had last time. 

Next year, Italy may see the rise of yet another anti-establishment party, the Five Star Movement (M5S) led by Luigi Di Maio, one of the main rivals to former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party. The party vowed to challenge European Union austerity rules among other points of its program.

However, experts warn that Brussels could face much bigger problems than a shift in the national government across Europe if it fails to adapt to a changing situation and review its ultraliberal policies.

READ MORE: France to extend border checks due to ‘persistent’ terror threat

As more and more European countries re-introduce border controls citing security concerns and the inflow of illegal migrants, the Schengen agreement is de facto being gradually dismantled, with the EU “policies of open borders and the liberal migration policies” being the real reason behind that trend, Ebner told RT.

So now Brussels in fact stands before a simple but at the same time difficult choice, the analyst believes: either to keep its liberal asylum policies and to “see Schengen going down” or to shift to the right and “save Schengen.”

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ISIS moral police ‘whipped, beat & jailed’ defiant Al-Mayadeen residents, survivors tell RT

Islamic State terrorists’ efforts to whip, beat and torture people into submission for the tiniest violations of their perverted laws failed, locals in recently-liberated Al-Mayadeen in Syria told RT, recalling their disturbing experiences.

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists captured the city of Al-Mayadeen, located just 45km southeast of Deir ez-Zor, in July 2013. Raising their black standard, the Salafi jihadist group went on to impose a fundamentalist, Wahhabi doctrine of Sunni Islam, violations of which were punished under Sharia law.

READ MORE: ISIS releases moms’ guidebook to raising ‘jihadi babies’

While many civilians left the city prior to the jihadists’ arrival, those who stayed were forced into following IS law and social conduct. A veil of prosecution and torture descended on Al-Mayadeen for over four years, until the Tiger Forces commanded by Syrian Army Brigadier General Suheil Salman al-Hassan pierced through IS defenses last Saturday, liberating the city from the Islamists’ yoke.

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© RT

Many locals that an RT Arabic crew spoke with recalled that the militants went on to seize people’s properties before instituting a religious police force that was responsible for implementing their social morals in people’s daily lives.

“ISIS took away homes that belonged to my brothers. They confiscated them…to live there,” one Al-Mayadeen native said.

“They had such an agency as the moral police called ‘Hisbah,’” the man said, explaining that it patrolled the city and punished the locals for violating Sharia law. The Islamic doctrine of Hisbah, which translates as “accountability,” empowers the leadership to intervene in the daily conduct of people to forcefully “enjoin good and forbid wrong.”

Force was used widely by the IS Hisbah units, who detained people for the slightest of infractions such as smoking cigarettes or shaving their face.

“Nobody wanted to cooperate with ISIS. I spent six days in prison for smoking one cigarette,” one of the survivors told RT, explaining that people were detained even if they smelled of tobacco.

Showing stubble on his face, the man also told RT that people were held in prison for days for any attempts to shave their facial hair. Explaining that IS demanded all beards to “grow naturally,” the man says he was arrested several times because his facial hair failed to meet their standards.

“They arrested me, then whipped me, tormented me and gave me spoiled food,” another man recalled, explaining that he was imprisoned twice because of his beard, and once because he wore pants instead of traditional jalabiya – an ankle-length, long-sleeved Arab garment.

READ MORE: Pancakes for jihadists: ISIS shares new online cooking tips

The stories documented by RT are just a tiny glimpse into the brutality of Islamic State’s justice system. Over the years, thousands of people have suffered for any alleged infractions that were met with punishments including flogging, beheading and burning.

Locals are relieved just to be alive, having suffered IS rule. It ended in a massive retreat of the jihadist forces, despite replenishments with ammo and fighters from Iraq. Even a week after the Syrian Army first entered the city, it continues to discover huge stockpiles of weapons.

“We searched the whole area, which served as the main military ISIS depot,” a Syrian Army soldier told RT. “The neighborhood has underground tunnels and was full of weapons.”

A number of abandoned warehouses full of weapons, left behind by IS fighters as they fled to the east side of the Euphrates River, were filmed by the RT crew embedded with the Syrian forces.

The Syrian Army, supported by the Russian Air Force, meanwhile continues to advance on the remaining pockets of terrorist resistance between Al-Mayadeen and Deir ez-Zor city. 

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Iraqi military deployed to ‘impose security’ in Kirkuk clashes with Kurdish Peshmerga – reports

Baghdad has deployed its military and pro-government militias to secure Kurdish Peshmerga-controlled bases and federal installations near Kirkuk, urging them to “avoid confrontations” and “protect all civilians” in the multi-ethnic, oil-rich region.

Early Monday morning, Iraqi government troops supported by the People’s Mobilization Forces (PMF), a state-loyal umbrella organization composed of some 40 militias, have started advancing towards Peshmerga (military force of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan) frontlines from Taza, just south of the city of Kirkuk.

READ MORE: Kurdistan accuses Baghdad of planning oil field seizure

The troops were ordered to “impose security in Kirkuk in cooperation with Kurdish Peshmerga,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced on live television. Under the orders, the army should“secure bases [and] federal installations in Kirkuk province.” The troops were also advised “to cooperate with Peshmerga and avoid confrontations, and to protect all civilians.”

The Kurdistan Security Council stated that Baghdad is trying to secure the K-1 military base, the Kirkuk airport and the oilfields which are under the control of the Kurdish fighters.

Iraqi state TV reported that Counter-Terrorism Service, the federal government and the 9th division of the Iraqi Army, have already secured “large areas” without any resistance from the Kurdish command.

Kurdish news channel, Rudaw, however, reports that clashes between Kurdish and government-led forces have erupted on the on the Taza Khurmatu front.

Earlier Baghdad and the command of PMF issued a list of demands calling on Peshmerga forces to leave a number of positions south and west of Kirkuk so that those outposts can be transferred under the control of Baghdad. The Kurds were reportedly given a deadline of 2am to comply with the ultimatum, Rudaw News reported.

The Kurdish leadership said on Saturday that they would not comply and leave all of the outposts mentioned in a list of demands, provincial Governor Najmaldin Karim told reporters.

“The places that they have demanded, as mentioned in those points, have so far all been rejected,” Karim was quoted as saying by Rudaw.

However, ahead of the deadline Kurdish forces have voluntarily left Bashir and Taza, but remained at Kirkuk airport and K-1 military base, which are now the primary targets for Baghdad.

According to Peshmerga commander who spoke with Rudaw news, Kirkuk now has around 9,000 Kurdish troops that can be used to defend the city.

Tensions between Baghdad and the regional Kurdish government have been tense in the wake of Kurdistan’s independence referendum late last month where some 92.7 percent of voters chose to leave Iraq.

Baghdad immediately denounced the move as “unconstitutional.” Turkey, Iran and Syria also expressed their opposition to the creation of an independent Kurdistan over concerns that it may spur separatist sentiment in their own Kurdish-populated areas.

Ahead of the launch of the military operation, the Iraqi government accused Kurdish authorities of harboring Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Kirkuk, calling it “a declaration of war against other Iraqis and legal security forces.”

Addressing the issue of the alleged presence of PKK in Kirkuk, Iraqi National Security Council warned of a “dangerous escalation” in the region.

“The central government and regular forces will carry out their duty of defending the Iraqi people in all its components, including the Kurds, and of defending Iraq’s sovereignty and unity,” the council said a statement as quoted by Al Jazeera reports.

The Kurdish Peshmerga Ministry quickly dismissed the allegations. Kurdish leaders also rejected a call by Baghdad to cancel the results of the September 25 independence vote.

“The outcome of the referendum will not be nullified,” the Kurdish region’s Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said after consulting Kurdistan’s two main political parties. “Talk of canceling these results is out of the question and will not address the problems.”

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