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By Jamie Dettmer
Nearly 200 jihadists imprisoned in France are due to be released over the next two years and French security officials are pressing French lawmakers to approve fresh antiterrorist measures to impose enhanced restrictions on those freed and to give police new legal powers to fight terrorism.
British officials, likewise, are fearful of a resurgent jihadist threat and are considering overhauling Britain’s 650-year-old treason law to make it easier to prosecute militants returning from Syria and Iraq.
And it is not only returnees from the Levant who are preoccupying European security officials.
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During the pandemic jihadist assaults have subsided — the consequence, officials think, of society-wide lockdowns and other travel restrictions that have stymied would-be attackers. The lack of crowds and public events have also deprived militants of high-profile targets. But in the meantime, there has been increased activity online by radical Islamists, according to security officials.
Neil Basu, assistant commissioner for specialist operations at London’s Metropolitan Police told The Times newspaper this week that he fears large numbers of vulnerable and marginalized youngsters have been trapped online during lockdowns and surfing increased amounts of propaganda that have been posted online during the pandemic.
“I don’t know what effect that is going to have on people who are vulnerable to that kind of message, who may want to take action, who may have been sitting on that suppressed feeling for 12 months or more,” he said.
New wave alert
The possibility of a new wave of recruits and so-called lone-wolf assailants combined with the release of dozens of jailed jihadists is a toxic mix, say, counter-terrorism officials. They say they will be stretched to maintain surveillance of released jihadists let alone trying to detect radicalization online.
The last eight attacks on French soil were carried out by assailants who were previously unknown to French security services — including last month’s stabbing by a Tunisian immigrant of a female civilian police employee in Paris and the murder in October of middle-school teacher Samuel Paty in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a suburb of the French capital.
Of the 500 jihadists currently in French prisons, most were convicted for joining the Islamic State or al-Qaida in Syria and Iraq or assisting others to do so. Fifty-eight are scheduled to be released this year after serving an average five-year sentence. And more than another 100 are due to be freed by 2023.
New counterterrorism measures before the National Assembly would give the French security services new powers to help them, they say, both to keep tabs on those released after they have served their sentences and to monitor what’s happening online, and to try to unmask potential attackers. The measures would enable authorities to track communications by Islamist extremists when they are using encrypted messages. School-teacher Paty was killed by an 18-year-old Chechen who used Instagram messaging to maintain contact with French jihadists in Syria.
Security services would also be able to use algorithms to enable them to spot people who consult extremist websites and will have more access to satellite communications. Last month, Gérald Darmanin, France’s interior minister, acknowledged that security services had been unable to detect messages between militants involved in the past nine attacks.
“We continue to remain blind with just surveillance of normal telephone lines that no one uses anymore. We are now dealing with isolated individuals, increasingly younger and unknown to intelligence services, and often without any links to established Islamist groups,” he said.
When it comes to jihadists released from prison the measures awaiting the legislature’s approval would extend the time freed prisoners are kept under surveillance from one to two years. Courts will also have new powers to require released offenders to check in frequently with probation officers and to enroll in training schemes for up to five years after being freed.
The ruling Conservative government in Britain, too, has already recently passed legislation ending early release for anyone convicted of a serious terror offense. And it is considering new measures to make it easier to prosecute British jihadists returning from overseas — and if convicted serve long jail terms, possibly life imprisonment. Ministers say they are planning to overhaul the treason laws to cover membership or support of non-state actors who seek to harm Britain — that would include terrorist groups and hackers.
New national security legislation may also place the burden of proof on returnees from countries designated as terrorist hotspots to provide a legitimate reason for their travel — or face prosecution for treason. Ministers complain that the evidence needed to convict people who traveled to Syria and Iraq to join militant groups in the past ten years makes it too difficult to mount prosecutions. And they have fulminated against the ancient treason law, which dates back to 1351 and was amended in 1946.
The last person to be convicted for treason in Britain was William Joyce, a Nazi propagandist known as Lord Haw-Haw. Around 400 British jihadists have returned to the UK since 2011, but only 10 percent were prosecuted.
Revamping the treason law has strong support from Conservative lawmakers. “We need tough sanctions for betrayal,” Tom Tugendhat, the chair of the British parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said last week.
Other European countries have also been toughening counter-terrorism measures recently, prompting Amnesty International in February to warn that a side effect is to inflame anti-Muslim sentiments. The rights group said an environment was being created “in which Muslims are more likely to be the subject of hate speech and attacks.”
“In the never-ending ‘War on Terror,’ Muslims continue to endure ethnic profiling and are disproportionately subjected to surveillance, limitations on their movements, arrest, and deportation,” said Eda Seyhan, author of the research guide published by Amnesty. (VOA/KB)
Every child who grew up in the 90s and the early 00s has certainly grown up around Tom and Jerry, the adorable, infamous cat-chases-mouse cartoon. The idea of naughtiness and playing mischief had the standards that this particular series set for children and defined how much wreckage was funny enough.
The show's creators, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera initially named their characters Jasper and Jinx. They did not plan for the fame that Tom and Jerry brought them when they released a movie by the name of "Puss Gets the Boot". This movie featured a certain cat and mouse who were a notorious pair, named Jasper and Jinx. When the movie became a hit, the names of the characters were changed and the show shot to fame.
Tom and Jerry became a go-to cartoon for children in the early 00s, and it was one of those shows with a firm foundation, that had already been in the running for decades. The original template had been planned nearly 80 years ago, and the makers did not change it. The music that was played in the many episodes, made a breakthrough in its own way. It is the most easily recognizable melody with utterly nostalgic associations.
Today, Tom and Jerry is still a household name in homes where children love cartoons Image credit: wikimedia commons
A set of supporting characters were defined for the show, to occasionally take the focus off the original pair. There was a large, black woman named Mammy Two Shoes and a bulldog who took Jerry's side. Mammy Two Shoes was discontinued because her character portrayed racist tendencies. A tall white woman replaced her, who was kinder and loved mice. Either of the women's faces was never revealed.
Today, Tom and Jerry is still a household name in homes where children love cartoons. There are a host of other shows besides this that aim to replicate the same aspects of the cartoon but do not come close at all. Despite the immense amount of violence in the show, it is a beloved pastime of parents and children alike.
Keywords: Tom and Jerry, Cartoon, Hanna and Barbera, Television
One of India's leading private museums, the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) Bengaluru, has released new primary research conducted by the ReReeti Foundation, on audience behaviour in India's cultural sector. While more than half of the respondents thought the arts and culture are essential, they rarely manage to make time for it. The majority (60.6 per cent), mostly young people under 30, felt Indian museums could present more engaging content, and most perceived culture as anthropological/ sociological. Of the diverse categories included, music emerged as the most popular cultural activity.
The report is based on a survey of 500 people, which included school and college students, professionals across sectors, homemakers and senior citizens. The first initiative of its kind in the cultural space, the report shares valuable insights into the behaviour and expectations of Indian audiences engaging with a broad range of cultural activities. As part of MAP's mission to foster meaningful connections between communities and the cultural sector globally, which includes its innovative digital programme Museums Without Borders, the report shares a wealth of insights that can help museums across the country understand their audiences better. As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities.As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities.
As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities. | Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Speaking on the recent report, Kamini Sawhney, Director, Museum of Art & Photography (MAP), said, "MAP is focused on changing the notion of a museum in India, by enabling more relevant and inclusive programming, both online and in our space in Bengaluru. The audience research commissioned by MAP, and conducted by the ReReeti Foundation, provides valuable, and actionable insights which we hope will help museums across the country better understand their consumer base, improve decision making and deepen social impact." As much as 62.3 per cent college students and 47.6 per cent professionals/homemakers perceive culture as anthropological and sociological. Music was the most popular cultural event likely to be attended, followed by heritage tours and plays/comedy shows for Indian audiences.
Over 70 per cent of college students visit museums with family and friends; working professionals, homemakers and senior citizens also predominantly visit with groups/ spouses (indicating a need to focus on increased group programming/facilitation). As much as 68 per cent of people were optimistic about going outdoors for activities and events in 2021. As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities.(IANS/MBI)
Keywords: Art, Culture, India, Museum, Music
What is the best way to save Goa from deforestation?
Drinking feni, may well be the answer, says the secretary of the Goa Cashew Feni Distillers and Bottlers Association Hansel Vaz, who on Thursday said, that sipping the state's unique alcoholic drink and making it popular would directly aid the greening of Goa's hills and other barren landscapes.
"To get more cashews, we need to plant more trees. I always say, by drinking feni you will save Goa, because we will be planting more cashew trees and we will have greener hills. The beauty of cashew is you do not need fertile land. You can grow it on a hill which can provide no nutrition. We will be able to grow more trees, if we can sell feni properly," Vaz said. Vaz's comments come at a time when the hillsides of the coastal state have witnessed significant deforestation for real estate development and for infrastructure projects. Feni is manufactured by fermenting and double distilling juice from the cashew apple.
Best way to keep Goa green is to grab yourself a glass of feni. | IANS
Addressing a press conference in Panaji, Vaz also said that the promotion of feni was also in sync with the Prime Minister's vision for India to go "vocal for local". "There is no conglomerate, multinational company owning the drink. So every time we sell feni, it is a direct cash injection into Goa. If you sell a feni cocktail in Calangute (a popular beach village), it makes a direct impact in Valpoi and Bicholim, because this money is going down there," the Association official said at a press conference in Panaji.
The Association held the media briefing to announce a road map ahead for the feni industry, especially vis a vis streamlining aspects related to production, standardisation and marketing of the brew to make it popular in other Indian states and abroad.
The efforts to streamline the state "heritage drink" comes a month after the Goa government notified a formal policy, 'Goa Feni Policy 2021', which covers 26 different varieties of feni distilled in the state. "There were many barriers related to feni, which the policy has now addressed," treasurer of the Association Tukaram Haldankar said. One such hurdle was the previous government classification, which described feni as "country liquor", which would deter tourists from purchasing the drink. The reclassification of feni as a state "heritage drink" has lent dignity to the brew which has been manufactured locally in Goa since the 16th century.
But there is more the government can do, along with the state's traditional distillers and manufacturers to promote feni, Haldankar said. | Photo by Ishvani Hans on Unsplash
But there is more the government can do, along with the state's traditional distillers and manufacturers to promote feni, Haldankar said. "We request the government to allow the sale of feni in duty free stores in airports and cruise liner terminals. The government should also support us through the department of Tourism, so that feni can be promoted in its programmes. iIf you go to Scotland, they promote Scotch. Goa should promote its feni to Goa," Haldankar said, adding that traditional distillers should also be given subsidies and other measures should be taken to standardise feni, which he said, "would require further subsidies and financial assistance from the government".
"It should be a standard product like scotch, champagne," Haldankar said. "Like Mexico's tequila, Russian vodka and Japan's sake, we need to export our feni across the country and the world and the local distillers should also benefit economically," president of the Association Gurudutt Bhakta also said. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: deforestation,cashew,distillers,association,government, goa, feni, India