Europe/Americas update: June 5 2017

Hey, so this is going to be very short and mostly excerpts. I’ve written a whole lot today and I very much would like to go to sleep.



British security services are once again facing questions about whether they should have prevented a terrorist attack. Apparently at least one of the three men who carried out Saturday’s van and knife attack in London should have been known to authorities:

In the wake of Saturday’s attack, which killed seven people and left 21 in a critical condition, reports have emerged that one of the suspects was reported to police and may have previously been confronted by officers.

Erica Gasparri claimed she had reported to police her concerns about the individual in question’s extremist religious views two years ago after she feared he was radicalising children in a local park.

A former friend of the same man, whom neighbours have described as a married father of two young children who regularly attended two local mosques, also said he had contacted police in Barking, east London, about his views after he discussed Isis-inspired terror attacks.

He told BBC’s Asian Network his friend used to watch clips of the American hate preacher Ahmad Musa Jibril.

“I phoned the anti-terror hotline,” the unnamed man said. “I spoke to the gentleman. I told him about our conversation and why I think he was radicalised.”

Despite his warning, he said his friend was not arrested and allowed to keep his passport. He said: “I did my bit, I know a lot of other people did their bit but the authorities did not do their bit.”

Similar questions are still swirling around about the Manchester Arena bomber, Salman Abedi, and whether he should have been on police radar as well.

The counter-terrorism implications of these issues aside, politically they’re feeding a narrative of a security community that’s failing to protect Britain. And since it’s Theresa May’s security service that’s failing, well, that’s how you wind up with polls like this:

May is also probably paying for the police force cutbacks she oversaw as home secretary, and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is trying to make sure she keeps paying:

Just days before Britain’s general election, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has called on Prime Minister Theresa May to resign for cutting the number of police officers during her time as home secretary.

Speaking to ITV News on Monday, the leader of the Labour Party said May was directly responsible for reducing the number of police officers by about 20,000 between 2010 and 2016 before becoming prime minister.

“There’s been calls made by very responsible people on this, who are very worried that she was at the Home Office for all this time, presided over these cuts in police numbers, and now saying that we have a problem,” said Corbyn, who is pledging to recruit an extra 10,000 new officers.

“Yes we do have a problem, we should have never cut the police numbers,” he added.



Mexico, oddly enough, has been one of the most vocal global critics of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro–it’s been a driving force, for example, in trying to get the Organization of American States to adopt a resolution condemning Maduro for executive overreach and authoritarianism. This is a bit out of character for the Mexican government, but apparently it’s driven largely by domestic politics:

Analysts say the shift is down to simple politics. Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a left-wing populist and two-time presidential candidate often nicknamed “AMLO,” leads some early polls for the 2018 vote and campaigned hard in recent weeks in a neck-and-neck gubernatorial race in Mexico state, the most populous in the country. (The election was held Sunday, and preliminary results seemed to show Morena narrowly losing to President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.)

López Obrador is often painted by political opponents as his country’s version of late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez. So for Mexico’s unpopular leader, Peña Nieto, keeping blood-soaked images from Venezuela in the news cycle and condemning human rights violations have become props in his attempt to stop the country from swinging left.

The PRI is being dragged down by public anger over corruption and high crime, and though it did win that Mexico state governor’s election, the margin was narrow enough that Peña Nieto should really be worried.


The Trump administration is expected on Tuesday to announce plans to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council because it doesn’t give a rat’s ass about human rights of the council’s alleged “anti-Israel bias.”

Though really it’s because the Trump administration doesn’t give a rat’s ass about human rights.

As I’ve argued before, the Trump administration isn’t wrong when it points out that the Human Rights Council spends an inordinate amount of attention on Israel compared to other human rights violators. But the proper remedy for that is for the council to spend more time on those other human rights violators (like, say, the United State of America), while the Trump remedy is for the council to spend less time on Israel. Fuck that.

Finally, I’d like to share one of the best pieces I’ve read on Russian activities during the 2016 presidential campaign, from Roger Sollenberger at Paste Magazine. No, this isn’t about Russian active measures or kompromat or the goddamn emails or even, sadly, the alleged pee tape. Sollenberger instead looks at how Russia and the Trump campaign were apparently able to use fake news sites to manipulate Google and control the news people saw online:

When we think about the Russian attacks during the election, most of us probably think of the DNC hacks, Podesta, and the steady drips from WikiLeaks of that stolen information. If you hate Hillary Clinton, I’m sure that at some point in the past nine months you’ve said something like, “Well, who cares how that information got out there, it’s the truth!”

I won’t argue. Instead, I’d like to point out that’s not the whole story. According not just to me and FAKE NEWS! reports, but to the declassified U.S. intelligence report on Russian subversion in the 2016 election, the attacks included weaponizing false information (what “fake news” really is: stuff that’s entirely made up; pure fiction) and creating real-seeming sites to host this fake news. So no, the whole hacking effort was not just publishing “the truth” about Clinton. Much of it was publishing fake news. Or, perhaps more dangerously, misleading news.

This brings us to Google today. A couple weeks ago I saw an insane person on my Facebook feed screaming about how Obama had leaked classified information about the Bin Laden raid that got people killed. What the fuck? I’d never heard anything about this, and the raid was six years ago, and this guy was a total right-wing crackpot, which is the trifecta for guaranteeing at least fifteen full minutes of batshit conspiracy theory misinfotainment. So I duly Googled “obama classified information bin laden.” If you do that right now, here’s what you get.

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