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France: Teacher beheaded in Paris; Macron calls it ‘Islamist terrorist attack’

The teacher had discussed caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad with his class, authorities said. The suspected attacker was shot and killed by police.

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For the second time in three weeks, terror struck France, this time with the gruesome beheading of a history teacher in a street in a Paris suburb. The suspected attacker was shot and killed by police.

French President Emmanuel Macron denounced what he called an “Islamist terrorist attack” and urged the nation to stand united against extremism. The teacher had discussed caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad with his class, authorities said.

The French anti-terrorism prosecutor opened an investigation for murder with a suspected terrorist motive. Four people, one a minor, were detained hours later, the office of anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said without elaborating. Police typically fan out to find family and friends of potential suspects in terror cases.

Macron visited the school where the teacher worked in the town of Conflans-Saint-Honorine and met with staff after the slaying. An Associated Press reporter saw three ambulances at the scene, and heavily armed police surrounding the area and police vans lining leafy nearby streets.

“One of our compatriots was murdered today because he taught … the freedom of expression, the freedom to believe or not believe,” Macron said.

He said the attack shouldn’t divide France because that’s what the extremists want. “We must stand all together as citizens,” he said.

The incident came as Macron’s government works on a bill to address Islamist radicals who authorities claim are creating a parallel society outside the values of the French Republic. France has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe with up to 5 million members, and Islam is the country’s No. 2 religion.

A police official said the suspect, armed with a knife and an airsoft gun — which fires plastic pellets — was shot dead about 600 meters (yards) from where the male teacher was killed after he failed to respond to orders to put down his arms, and acted in a threatening manner.

The teacher had received threats after opening a discussion “for a debate” about the caricatures about 10 days ago, the police official told The Associated Press. The parent of a student had filed a complaint against the teacher, another police official said, adding that the suspected killer did not have a child at the school.

An ID card was found at the scene but police were verifying the identity, the police official said. French media reported that the suspect was an 18-year-old Chechen, born in Moscow. That information could not be immediately confirmed.

France has seen occasional violence involving its Chechen community in recent months, in the Dijon region, the Mediterranean city of Nice, and the western town of Saint-Dizier, believed linked to local criminal activity.

It was not known what link, if any, the attacker might have with the teacher or whether he had accomplices. Police were fanning out on searches of homes and potential family and friends of the man in question, the police official said.

The two officials could not be named because they were not authorized to discuss ongoing investigations.

“We didn’t see this coming,” Conflans resident Remi Tell, who as a child had attended the Bois D’Aulne middle school, said on CNews TV station. He described the town as peaceful.

It was the second terrorism-related incident since the opening of an ongoing trial for the January 2015 newsroom massacre at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which had published caricatures of the prophet of Islam.

As the trial started, the paper republished caricatures of the prophet to underscore the right of freedom of expression. Quickly, a young man from Pakistan was arrested after stabbing two people with a meat cleaver outside the newspaper’s former offices. They did not suffer threatening injuries. The 18-year-old told police he was upset about the publication of the caricatures.

In a video posted recently on social media, a man describing himself as a father at the school said the teacher who was slain had recently shown an offensive image of a man and told students it was “the prophet of the Muslims.” Before showing the images, the teacher asked Muslim children to leave the room because he planned to show something shocking, the man said.

“What was the message he wanted to send these children? … Why does a history teacher behave this way in front of 13-year-olds?” the man asked. He called on other angry parents to contact him, and relay the message.

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H1B workers in crosshairs of US lawsuit against Facebook

“These U.S. workers were denied an opportunity to be considered for the jobs Facebook sought to channel to temporary visa holders,” it said.

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New York: H1B workers find themselves in the crosshairs of a new US Justice Department lawsuit against Facebook alleging that the giant social media platform discriminated against American workers and favoured foreign workers to fill more than 2,600 jobs with an average salary of approximately $156,000.

Facebook, according to the lawsuit, sponsored the temporary visa holders for “green cards” authorizing them to work permanently. The case is the result of a “nearly two-year investigation”, the Justice Department said in a December 3 statement.

The US Justice Department claims that during the period of investigation, “Facebook received zero or one U.S. worker applicants for 99.7 percent of its PERM positions, while comparable positions at Facebook that were advertised on its careers website during a similar time period typically attracted 100 or more applicants each.”

“These U.S. workers were denied an opportunity to be considered for the jobs Facebook sought to channel to temporary visa holders,” it said.

The case comes smack in the middle of the Donald Trump presidency’s lame duck priod. H1B visa workers who spoke with IANS on background are shrugging off the latest development as another sample of the Trump administration “howling at the wind”, trying to discredit legal immigrants on its way out the door.

The Joe Biden administration takes over in January next year.

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Azerbaijan says 2,783 soldiers killed in Nagorno-Karabakh fighting

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Azerbaijan said Thursday that nearly 2,800 of its soldiers were killed in recent fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, the first details it has released of military losses in weeks of clashes with Armenian forces.

The defence ministry in Baku said in a statement that “2,783 servicemen of the Azerbaijani armed forces were killed in the patriotic war,” adding that 100 more soldiers were missing.

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Criminal networks could try to sell fake COVID vaccines physically and on internet, warns Interpol

The Interpol has asked police organisations to ensure “the safety of the supply chain” and said “identifying illicit websites selling fake products will be essential”.

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New Delhi, December 3: The Interpol has warned law enforcement agencies across the globe that organised criminal networks could try to advertise and sell fake COVID-19 vaccines physically and on the internet.

In an Orange notice issued to all 194 member countries on Wednesday, the Lyon-based international police cooperation body warned agencies to prepare for potential criminal activity in relation to “the falsification, theft and illegal advertising of COVID-19 and flu vaccines”.

“It also includes examples of crimes where individuals have been advertising, selling and administering fake vaccines,” a statement from the Interpol said.

The Interpol issues an Orange notice to warn of an event, a person, an object or a process representing a serious and imminent threat to public safety.

The CBI, which is the national central bureau for India, is tasked with coordination with the Interpol.

The warning came on the day the UK became the first Western nation to approve a COVID-19 vaccine, vaulting past the US and the European Union in the race to approve a vaccine.

The Interpol has asked police organisations to ensure “the safety of the supply chain” and said “identifying illicit websites selling fake products will be essential”.

“Criminal networks will also be targeting unsuspecting members of the public via fake websites and false cures, which could pose a significant risk to their health, even their lives,” Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock said in a statement.

“It is essential that law enforcement is as prepared as possible for what will be an onslaught of all types of criminal activity linked to the COVID-19 vaccine, which is why INTERPOL has issued this global warning,” the official said.

The Interpol cybercrime unit has analysed that of 3,000 websites associated with online pharmacies suspected of selling illicit medicines and medical devices, around 1,700 contained cyber threats, especially phishing and spamming malware making such operators even more potent of causing financial and health harms.

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