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Five Suspected Terrorists Killed After Twin Attacks on Spain

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  • Five Suspected Terrorists Killed After Twin Attacks on Spain

Spanish police killed five suspected terrorists after a confrontation in a town south of Barcelona, just hours after a van rampaged down the city’s iconic Las Ramblas avenue and left 13 people dead.

Six civilians and a police officer were injured in the second incident in the nearby resort town of Cambrils, which the government said was connected to the Barcelona attack. The terrorist suspects wore phony explosive belts and ran over pedestrians in an Audi automobile until they were shot by police, Catalan Interior Counselor Joaquim Forn said in a radio interview.

In Barcelona, the rented van drove about 600 meters (2,000 feet) down the heavily trafficked avenue striking pedestrians, local media reported. The driver is still at large.

Spanish authorities are trying to hunt down the perpetrators of Thursday’s attack in the heart of Barcelona, which bore all the hallmarks of similar recent atrocities in Berlin, Nice, London and Stockholm. In addition to the victims, at least 100 people were injured after a white van drove into pedestrians at a speed of about 80 kilometers per hour (50 miles per hour). Twenty-six of the injured were French, the nation’s foreign ministry said.

Islamic State said it was responsible, according to the SITE Intelligence Group. Three suspects were arrested in connection with the Barcelona attack, with police not yet disclosing all their names and nationalities.

The attacks raise questions again about how authorities can protect citizens from crude assaults that can be planned under their radar. Britain responded to similar incidents in London this year by erecting concrete and metal barriers to shield pedestrians at key sites of the city. Spain has long been used to bombing campaigns by Basque and Islamist terrorists, but the rampage was the first of its kind on Spanish soil.

“Unfortunately, as we’ve seen before, there’s not a lot authorities can do to prevent this type of attack, which is quite easy for someone to plan and to execute,” said Federico Santi, an analyst at political risk firm Eurasia Group. “It requires a huge amount of resources to actually monitor the very large number of people who are at risk.”

Familiar Scene

Images of bloody victims lying on the sidewalk have become all too familiar in Europe of late. Terrorists in London drove into passersby on bridges in two deadly incidents this year. There was also an attack using a commercial vehicle in Stockholm. Last year, trucks plowed through crowds in Berlin and Nice. Barcelona may have been targeted simply because it’s a major tourist destination for Europeans as a whole, Santi said.

The van zigzagged into people, a witness told state broadcaster TVE. Las Ramblas — a busy avenue with bars and street artists at the heart of Barcelona’s tourist circuit — was strewn with bodies and debris as people ran to help the wounded.

“The car came toward me, people were flying in the air — there were bodies everywhere,” Shari Weise, a 54-year-old visitor to Barcelona from California, said by telephone. “The man next to me got hit and I jumped behind a pole and pulled a 15 year-old boy behind the pole with me.”

Police raised the possibility that an explosion at a home earlier on Thursday that killed one person and brought down a building may be connected to the attack.

Islamist Threat

Islamic State has threatened more attacks in Europe as its militants lost territory in Syria and Iraq. While some of the previous terrorists had training, others have just been inspired by the extremists with little or no formal contact.

The number of foreign terrorist fighters returning to Europe could increase, according to the European Commission’s Radicalisation Awareness Network. More than 42,000 foreign fighters joined the Islamic State between 2011 and 2016 and as many as 3,000 of them could return to European Union member countries, the analysts wrote in a report last month.

When the group claimed responsibility for the more than 80 deaths in Nice, it said the assailant in a truck loaded with arms was responding to its call to target countries fighting its militants in the Middle East.

Preventing attackers using vehicles as weapons is now the latest challenge for security services in Spain, even though the country isn’t a leading member of coalition strikes on Islamic State strongholds.

The nation has been a target of Islamist terrorism before. About 200 people were killed by bombs on early morning commuter trains in Madrid in 2004. Though like in most capitals until recently, tourist thoroughfares typically don’t have the barriers used to protect institutions like courthouses.

United Front

The task is potentially further complicated in Spain by its devolved administrations. Power over home affairs and police lie with some regional governments, including Catalonia. While attacks in other cities have fueled anti-immigrant nationalist parties, Spain has no such mainstream group. Any political fallout is more likely to focus on the rifts between the administrations in Madrid and Barcelona.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy traveled to Barcelona with his deputy and interior minister. Catalan National Assembly, a separatist group, meanwhile halted planned campaigning ahead of an independence referendum planned for October. Rajoy has called the vote illegal.

“I want to express the solidarity of Spain with the city of Barcelona, which today has been hit by the jihadist terrorism as before were hit other cities around the world,” Rajoy said in a televised address from the city.

Marc Trevidic, a former French anti-terrorist magistrate, said the scope of the Barcelona assaults was remarkable.

“This is much more organized than what we’ve seen recently, with a structured group,” Trevidic said in an interview on Europe1 radio. “There have been networks in Spain for decades linked to radical Moroccan movements. There have always been organized groups in Spain, but they haven’t always had an interest in hitting Spain.”

The nation is the world’s biggest tourist destination after France and the U.S. and the Catalan city of Barcelona is among its star attractions. Spain received more than 75 million foreign visitors last year and tourism accounts for about 13 percent of all of jobs.

“London, Brussels, Paris, and other European cities have suffered this experience,” Catalonia’s regional president, Carles Puigdemont, told reporters Thursday. “And today it has happened to Barcelona.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

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African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

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China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

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President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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