Major European nations recognize Guaido as Venezuela president

FILE PHOTO: Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido speaks during a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela, January 25, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/File Photo

By Jose Elas Rodriguez and Sudip Kar-Gupta

MADRID/PARIS (Reuters) – Ten European nations joined the United States in recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president on Monday, heightening a global showdown over Nicolas Maduro’s socialist rule.

France, Spain, Germany, Britain, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands’ coordinated move came after the expiry of an eight-day ultimatum for Maduro to call a new election.

The Venezuelan leader, accused of running the OPEC nation of 30 million people like a dictatorship and wrecking its economy, has defied them and said European rulers are sycophantically following President Donald Trump.

Guaido, who leads the National Assembly, declared himself caretaker leader last month in a move that has divided international powers and brought Venezuelans onto the streets.

Trump immediately recognized him but European Union countries were more hesitant.

Russia and China, which have poured billions of dollars of investment and loans into Venezuela, are supporting Maduro in an extension of their geopolitical tussle with the United States.

“From today, we will spare no effort in helping all Venezuelans achieve freedom, prosperity and harmony,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said, urging fair elections and humanitarian aid.

In response, Maduro accused “cowardly” Spain of taking a “malign” decision. “If one day there is a coup, if one day there is a gringo military intervention, your hands will be stained with blood, Mr. Pedro Sanchez,” he said in a speech.

Maduro, 56, a former union leader, bus driver and foreign minister, replaced former president Hugo Chavez in 2013 after his death from cancer. But he has presided over an economic collapse and exodus of 3 million Venezuelans.

He accuses Washington of waging an “economic war” on Venezuela and harboring coup pretensions aimed at gaining control over its oil. Venezuela’s oil reserves are the largest in the world but production has plunged under Maduro.


Critics say incompetent policies and corruption have impoverished the once-wealthy nation while dissent has been brutally crushed.

A draft EU statement said the 28-member bloc would “acknowledge” Guaido as interim president, but formal recognition was a prerogative of individual states.

“The oppression of the illegitimate, kleptocratic Maduro regime must end,” said British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt as he announced London was recognizing Guaido.

Russia accused Europe of meddling.

“Imposing some kind of decisions or trying to legitimize an attempt to usurp power is both direct and indirect interference,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Caracas pays both Russian and Chinese loans with oil.

Maduro won re-election last year, but critics say the vote was a sham. Two opposition rivals with a good chance of winning were barred, while food handouts and other subsidies to hungry Venezuelans were linked with political support.

Italy’s 5-Star Movement, which makes up half of the ruling coalition, dissents from the European stance, saying it would not recognize self-appointed leaders.

But its governing partner, the League, disagrees.

Guaido told Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera that he would do everything possible to secure Italian support.

In addition to European pressure, a bloc of Latin American nations plus Canada were to meet on Monday seeking to maintain pressure on Maduro.

“All these shameless people are clinging to power,” said Luis, a 45-year-old Venezuelan outside the consulate in Madrid. “Let them hold elections so they see they won’t get even 10 percent of the votes.”

Italy’s SkyTG24 channel quoted Maduro as appealing to the Pope to help dialogue ahead of what he hoped would be a “peace conference” led by Mexico and others on Feb. 7. Conscious of the collapse of a past Vatican mediation bid, foes say Maduro uses dialogue to play for time and regroup when on the back foot.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Marine Pennetier in Paris; Guy Faulconbridge and Mike Holden in London; Jose Elias Rodriguez in Madrid; Andrew Osborn and Thomas Balmforth in Moscow; Andrei Khalip in Lisbon; Steve Scherer in Rome; Alissa de Carbonnel and Gabriela Baczynska in Brussels; Toby Sterling in Amsterdam; Sarah Marsh in Caracas; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Raissa Kasolowsky)

Turkey trawled four continents for data on Erdogan foes: Austrian lawmaker

The Turkish flag is seen outside their embassy in Vienna, Austria, March 31, 2017. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

By Shadia Nasralla and Francois Murphy

VIENNA (Reuters) – Turkish embassies on four continents submitted reports on alleged foreign-based opponents of President Tayyip Erdogan within a week of receiving a request from Ankara last September, according to documents released by an Austrian lawmaker.

The papers made public by opposition Greens politician Peter Pilz suggested a wider intelligence network than has so far been revealed by authorities investigating alleged spying by Turkey on its expatriates in three European countries.

“There is clearly a global network of informants. We cannot say exactly how long it took to build up this network. I assume that it happened in a matter of years,” Pilz told reporters.

A senior Turkish government official said: “These claims are completely false.”

Tensions are running high between Turkey and the European Union as Ankara tries to drum up support among expatriate Turks to vote ‘yes’ in a referendum on April 16 on whether to grant Erdogan sweeping new powers.

German, Austrian and Swiss authorities have all launched investigations into whether Turkey is conducting illegal espionage on their soil.

German prosecutors are investigating Halife Keskin, who leads the foreign affairs department of the Turkish state religious authority, the Diyanet, newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung and two German broadcasters reported late on Friday.

Investigators have a document in which Keskin personally ordered the global surveillance effort and asked for any reports to be sent to him, according to the German media.

The German federal prosecutor’s office declined to comment.

An official at the Diyanet said Keskin was currently in Turkey and that while the Diyanet was aware of the German media reports, it had received no official notification from the German authorities that Keskin was being investigated.

Countries routinely post intelligence officers in their embassies, and the European authorities have not said in what ways the alleged Turkish activity went beyond acceptable levels of information-gathering by a foreign power.

Among the documents released by Pilz was a written call on Sept. 20, using the letterheads of the prime minister’s office and the Diyanet, for information on supporters of Erdogan’s arch-enemy Fethullah Gulen.

Turkey has accused Gulen of masterminding a failed coup attempt last July and has purged state institutions, schools, universities and the media of tens of thousands of suspected Gulen supporters. The cleric denies any involvement.

The documents, which Pilz said he had received from a Turkish source, showed embassies in over 30 countries across Europe, Africa, Australia and Asia sent reports to Diyanet on alleged Gulenists. Most were filed by religious attaches in Turkish embassies or consulates.


They typically listed the names and addresses of alleged Gulenists, as well as of publishing houses, media groups, educational centers and schools deemed to support the exiled cleric. Some reports include information on family members and the educational background of targeted people.

Reuters could not immediately verify the authenticity of the documents, but a source close to Austria’s government said it was safe to assume the ones on Austria were genuine.

Some reports, such as the one from Nigeria, include the names of middlemen responsible for building up ties between Gulenists and local power centers.

In the Austrian report, a Turkish official in Salzburg says an Austrian mosque umbrella group and other organizations have destroyed books, audio material, videos and newspapers deemed to be Gulenist.

The official says some gaps left by disappearing Gulenist organizations have been successfully filled with Erdogan-friendly replacements, such as after-school clubs.

A report from Azerbaijan names a journalist and some parliamentarians as sources of information on Gulenists. It names the director of a Turkish high school in Baku who will be reminded about the need to remove Gulenist teachers at his school.

An Australian report refers to “people who have lived in Australia for a long time and who know (the Gulenist) structure very well”. An entry from Mongolia describes activity by alleged Gulenists on Facebook and Twitter.

Turkey has rejected previous accusations that it was using religious bodies in Europe to spy on Erdogan critics.

In March, the religious attache of Turkey’s embassy in Austria told a local newspaper that mosque groups had a duty to check whether people of Turkish origin in Austria had been “radicalized” by Gulen. He said it was legitimate to deliver reports on such people.

(Additional reporting by Andrea Shalal in Berlin; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

Austria says wants exemption from EU migrant relocation system

Migrants wait to cross the border from Slovenia into Spielfeld in Austria, February 16, 2016. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

VIENNA (Reuters) – Austria will seek an exemption from having to accept more asylum-seekers under an EU relocation system, it said on Tuesday, arguing that it has already taken in its fair share during Europe’s migration crisis.

The move is a new blow to the system that would cover only a fraction of migrant arrivals to the European Union and that has barely been implemented because of opposition led by Eastern European countries including Poland and Hungary.

It also coincides with a tightening of security and immigration rules by the centrist coalition government in Austria, where a wave of arrivals that began in 2015 helped fuel a rise in support for the far-right Freedom Party, which still leads in opinion polls.

“We believe an exception is necessary for Austria for having already fulfilled its obligation. We will discuss that with the European Commission,” Chancellor Christian Kern told reporters after a weekly cabinet meeting. “We will send a letter as quickly as possible and then begin discussions.”

Fewer than 14,500 asylum-seekers have been relocated from Greece and Italy, the first EU countries that many refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa set foot in, under the two-year EU plan that was supposed to cover 160,000 people and which expires in September.

“We are of the opinion … that the people in question here already sought an asylum application or arrived in Italy or Greece,” Kern said. “We must check whether we have already fulfilled our quota and discharged our obligation.”

Austria took in roughly 90,000 asylum seekers in 2015, more than 1 percent of its population. More than a million migrants arrived in Germany that year, most of them having passed through Austria after crossing the Balkans from Greece.

Austria has repeatedly called on other EU countries to take their fair share, and has even backed the idea of financial penalties for those that do not.

The Commission granted Austria a temporary exception because of the large number of people it had taken in, but that has since expired.

“Austria is now expected to fulfill its legal obligation … to start relocating,” Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said.

The government has been seeking to erode support for the Freedom Party with a series of law-and-order measures and stricter immigration rules.

An “integration bill” agreed in cabinet on Tuesday would ban face-veils in public places and oblige unemployed refugees to perform jobs “of public utility” for no pay beyond their normal benefit payments.

(Reporting by Francois Murphy; additional reporting by Waverly Colville in Brussels; Editing by Catherine Evans and Robin Pomeroy)

NATO head urges Turkey, Austria to resolve dispute

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg delivers his speech during the 53rd Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 18, 2017. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg urged Austria and Turkey on Friday to resolve a diplomatic dispute that has led to some cooperation programs being blocked.

Turkey, a NATO ally, has withdrawn from some alliance participation – mostly military training – saying the move is aimed only at Austria.

“It is a very unfortunate situation and it means some cooperation programs can’t be launched,” Stoltenberg told reporters during a visit to the Danish capital Copenhagen.

Austria, which is not a NATO member but cooperates with the alliance, led calls last year to halt Turkey’s European Union accession talks. Vienna has also spoken out against Turkish politicians holding rallies in European countries.

“It’s a bilateral situation between Turkey and Austria and we strongly urge them to solve it, so that it won’t have negative consequences for the cooperation,” he said.

The diplomatic tensions predate a current escalation with other European countries like Germany and Netherlands but as fellow NATO members Turkey cannot block cooperation with them.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has compared Germany and the Netherlands to fascists and Nazis for stopping Turkish politicians from rallying to promote a referendum granting him sweeping new powers.

Erdogan on Thursday said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte had lost the friendship of Ankara after the diplomatic row.

NATO officials told Reuters that the blocking also affected other countries that cooperate with the alliance but are not members.

Separately, Austrian tabloid newspaper Oesterreich said its website was brought down on Friday morning by a cyber attack “from Turkey”, the latest in a series of similar incidents that appear to be connected to Vienna’s spat with Ankara.

It did not present evidence to support the accusation.

“The Turkish cyber attack on our website was launched out of anger by Erdogan’s cadres because oe24 and Oesterreich report critically and independently on Erdogan and his policies,” the newspaper said in an article.

(Reporting by Teis Jensen in Copenhagen, additional reporting by François Murphy in Vienna writing by Nikolaj Skydsgaard and Stine Jacobsen; Editing by Gareth Jones and Julia Glover)

Austrian parliament says Turkish Islamist hackers claim cyber attack

Austrian Parliament building

VIENNA (Reuters) – Austria’s parliament said on Tuesday that a Turkish Islamist hackers’ group had claimed responsibility for a cyber attack that brought down its website for 20 minutes this weekend.

Aslan Neferler Tim (ANT), or Lion Soldiers Team, whose website says it defends the homeland, Islam, the nation and flag, without any party political links, claimed the attack, a parliamentary spokeswoman said.

Relations between Turkey and Austria soured last year after President Tayyip Erdogan cracked down on dissent following a failed coup, and Vienna has since made a solo charge within the European Union for accession talks to be dropped.

On its Facebook page on Sunday afternoon, above a screenshot indicating the website was not loading, ANT said in Turkish: “Our reaction will be harsh in response to this racism of Austria against Muslims!!! (Parliament down).”

ANT says it has carried out “operations” against the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the Austrian central bank and an Austrian airport.

An Interior Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday that an investigation had begun into the cyber attack and, declining to elaborate further, noted that no data had been lost.

A parliamentary spokeswoman said: “ANT has claimed responsibility.” When asked if ANT was responsible, she said: “We assume so.”

The website was brought down after the server was flooded with service requests, a so-called DDoS-attack, similar to an attack last November that targeted the Foreign Affairs and Defense Ministries’ websites, a statement from parliament said.

DDoS attacks are among the most common cyber threats. One such attack targeted the European Commission’s computers in November.

The Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) was also recently the target of a cyber attack.

(Reporting by Shadia Nasralla, Francois Murphy in VIENNA and Daren Butler in ISTANBUL; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Eight held in Austrian police raids linked to Islamic State

VIENNA (Reuters) – Austrian police took eight people into custody on Thursday in raids linked to potential connections with the militant group Islamic State, prosecutors in the city of Graz said.

Around 800 police officers took part in the raids in Vienna and Graz “due to suspected participation in a terrorist organization (‘IS’),” they said in a statement, adding that the coordinated action had been planned for some time.

The statement gave no more details, but a spokesman said the people taken into custody included three Austrian nationals with a migrant background, two Bosnians and a Syrian. The nationalities of the other suspects were not immediately known.

“There was no acute danger” and no indications of a concrete attack, the spokesman said, adding that the detentions were not connected to the arrest of an Austrian teenager last week on suspicion of planning an Islamist attack in Vienna.

That suspect, a 17-year-old with Albanian roots, was arrested on Friday after tip-offs from unspecified foreign countries. Austria alerted Germany to a related suspect, a 21-year-old who was arrested in the western German city of Neuss on Saturday. A boy thought to be 12 has also been held in Austria.

German authorities have been on high alert since a Tunisian failed asylum seeker rammed a truck into a Christmas market in Berlin on Dec. 19, killing 12 people.

Police in Vienna have also been on heightened alert since Friday’s arrest and have increased patrols at transport hubs and busy public places.

(Reporting by Alexandra Schwarz-Goerlich in Vienna and Michael Shields in Zurich; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Austrian teenager says he built ‘test bomb’ in Germany: minister

VIENNA (Reuters) – An Austrian teenager arrested on suspicion of planning an Islamist attack in Vienna has told investigators he built a “test bomb” in Germany, where another suspect has been arrested, Austria’s interior minister was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

The Austrian suspect, a 17-year-old with Albanian roots, was arrested on Friday after tip-offs from unspecified foreign countries. Austria alerted Germany to a related suspect, a 21-year-old who was arrested in the western city of Neuss on Saturday. A boy thought to be 12 has also been held in Austria.

Whether the German and Austrian suspects are believed to have planned separate attacks or a joint one, and of what nature, is not clear. Austria has said public places in Vienna including its underground transit system might have been a target.

“A test bomb seems to have been put together,” Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka told broadcaster ORF, even though no explosives were found in the apartment in question. “That is all we can announce today from the questioning.”

Asked what he meant by a test bomb, Sobotka said: “Where one tries to put together materials obtained on the market from instructions on the internet.” He added that what had been established in the questioning was changing daily.

An Interior Ministry spokesman declined to elaborate.

The German admitted during questioning that the Austrian had visited him for two weeks at the end of last year, a spokesman for the Duesseldorf prosecutor said on Monday.

Germany’s Focus magazine had said the man was planning a bomb attack on police and soldiers. Both he and the Austrian had experimented with materials to create explosives in the Neuss apartment, it said.

German authorities have been on high alert since a Tunisian whose bid for asylum had been rejected rammed a truck into a Christmas market in Berlin on Dec. 19, killing 12 people.

Police in Vienna have been put on heightened alert since Friday’s arrest and have increased patrols at transport hubs and busy public places.

(Reporting by Francois Murphy and Alexandra Schwarz-Goerlich; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

European lawmakers call for end to Turkey EU membership

A woman adjusts the Turkish flag next to the European Union flag at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels

By Alissa de Carbonnel

STRASBOURG (Reuters) – The leaders of the European Parliament’s two largest groups called on Tuesday for the European Union to halt membership talks with Turkey because of its post-coup purges.

“Our message to Turkey is very clear: accession negotiations should be frozen immediately,” said Manfred Weber, the head of the largest faction in the European Parliament, the center-right European People’s Party.

He was echoed by Gianni Pitella, the leader of the socialist group, the parliament’s second biggest: “We want to freeze the accession talks.”

More than 110,000 people in Turkey – including soldiers, academics, judges, journalists and Kurdish leaders – have been suspended from their positions or dismissed over their alleged backing for the plotters of a failed military coup in July.

Some 36,000 have been arrested and media outlets have been shut.

“Turkey under Mr Erdogan is more and more drifting towards an authoritarian regime,” Pitella said, referring to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

“Our political message towards Turkey is that human rights, civil rights, democracy are non negotiable if you want to be part of the EU.

Erdogan, exasperated with the EU’s intensified criticism of his rights record, has said the bloc would have to “live with the consequences” should it stop the talks and that Ankara could instead join an security alliance run by Russia and China.

The post-coup crackdown has taken the EU aback, annulling a period of warmer tone between Turkey and the bloc, which had promised as recently as last March to speed up Ankara’s accession talks in exchange for its help in keeping migrants away from European shores.

This cooperation, critical for the EU, is still going on but some in the EU worry it could eventually fall victim to the spiraling recriminations.

Erdogan, who blames the EU for not showing enough understanding for the gravity of the situation in Turkey, said he could put the EU talks to a national referendum next year.

Turkey still hopes to win visa-free travel to the EU but earlier promises of granting the privilege to Ankara by the end of the year now seem distant.

Among EU countries, Austria and Luxembourg have led calls to stop Turkey’s membership talks, which have only made very limited progress over 11 years in any case.

But Germany, France and most of the other EU states for now back continued engagement and fear putting at risk Turkey’s collaboration on migration.

All stress, however, that the talks would come to an end should Turkey reinstate the death penalty.

(Additional reporting by Tom Koerkemeier, writing by Gabriela Baczynska Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.)

Expect more bird flu cases in Europe and in the U.S

A car drives past the town sign in the northern German village of Grumby, Germany, with the "Bird Flu - off limits area" warning notice

By Sybille de La Hamaide

PARIS (Reuters) – More outbreaks of a severe strain of bird flu in Europe are likely to occur in the next few weeks as wild birds believed to transmit the virus migrate southward, the deputy head of the world animal health body said on Tuesday.

North America, especially the United States where bird flu last year led to the death of about 50 million poultry, should also prepare for new cases, said Matthew Stone, Deputy Director General of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

Eight European countries and Israel have found cases of the highly contagious H5N8 strain of bird flu in the past few weeks and some ordered that poultry flocks be kept indoors to avoid the disease spreading.

Most outbreaks involved wild birds but Germany, Hungary and Austria also reported cases in domestic duck and turkey farms where all poultry had to be culled.

“From the level of exposure that we have seen to date I would expected more detections, hopefully only in wild birds but it is certainly possible that the presence of this virus in wild birds will create an opportunity for exposure in domestic poultry,” Stone told Reuters in an interview.

“The OIE is very concerned for the impact on our member countries and particularly those where there has been exposure of domestic poultry and where significant control operations are underway,” he added.

Wild birds can carry the virus without showing symptoms of it and transmit it to poultry through their feathers or feces.

The H5N8 virus has never been detected in humans but led to the culling of millions of farm birds in Asia and Europe in 2014.


In the United States the bird flu crisis last year sent egg prices to all-time highs because of the losses and dozens of countries imposed total or partial bans on U.S. poultry and egg imports.

It would be “no surprise at all” to see new detections in wild birds in North America, Stone said, adding that he hoped the biosecurity framework set up by the U.S. industry and the government would reduce the risk of large-scale outbreaks.

“At this stage we have to take history as our best indicator of what may well play out over the next few months,” Stone said.

Bird flu cannot be transmitted through food. The main risk is of a virus mutating into a form that is transmitted to and between humans, potentially creating a pandemic.

As well as Germany, Hungary, Austria and Israel, Switzerland, Poland, the Netherlands, Denmark and Croatia have also reported outbreaks of the highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza, more commonly called bird flu, in recent weeks.

Denmark and the Netherlands have ordered farmers to keep poultry indoors and Germany is considering to do so to protect them from wild birds.

Switzerland said it plans to extend to the entire country precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

France, which saw its foie gras industry devastated by other strains of the virus earlier this year, has been spared by H5N8 so far but called poultry farmers to increase controls and biosecurity measures.

Since an outbreak of the H5N1 crisis in 2003 when the virus passed on to humans, killing hundreds of them in Asia and Egypt, the OIE’s 180 member countries are bound to report all new occurrences of the disease to the Paris-based organisation.

(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by Gareth Jones)

French foie gras makers worry as bird flu spreads in Europe

Employee holds a duck liver in at a poultry farm in Doazit, Southwestern France,

By Sybille de La Hamaide

PARIS (Reuters) – New outbreaks in Europe of a severe strain of bird flu pose a fresh worry for French foie gras producers, already reeling from lost sales last year when the virus emerged in southwestern France.

The run-up to Christmas coincides with peak demand for the delicacy, France’s favorite festive treat, made from duck or goose liver.

Marie-Pierre Pe from foie gras makers group CIFOG, said on Monday that prices could be 10 percent higher this Christmas after the French government’s decision last year to cull all ducks and geese, and halt output for four months, in a bid to contain the virus.

Farmers hope that stricter measures in place at French farms to spare birds from contamination after last year’s crisis will better protect their industry should the current outbreak of the H5N8 strain, already seen in neighboring Germany and Switzerland and other European countries, hit France.

“When I heard about new bird flu cases in Europe, I thought: It can’t be true, the nightmare is not going to start all over again,” Pe told Reuters.

“We did all that is needed to prepare farmers since the start of the year but we are never immune from birds contaminating a farm,” she said.

Producers estimate the freezing of output had cost the industry around 500 million euros ($539 million), including a 270 million euros loss in sales and additional costs for new biosecurity material.

The 25 percent drop in output and higher costs will lead to the rise in prices of foie gras products this year, Pe said.

Sold whole or as a pate, foie gras is considered a gourmet food in Western and Asian cuisine, but the practice of force-feeding has often been criticized as cruel by animal activists.

CIFOG held regular meetings with farmers this year to explain biosecurity measures put in place after the crisis, such as better protecting food and water from wild birds, Pe said. Farmers in southwestern France, the top foie gras producing region, also face stricter rules to avoid contamination between farms, notably through equipment disinfection.

As well as Germany and Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Poland, the Netherlands, Denmark and Croatia, have also reported outbreaks of the highly contagious H5N8 bird flu in recent weeks.

No case of bird flu has been found in France so far this time but the country raised surveillance measures on Thursday to keep wild migrating birds from transmitting the virus to farm poultry.

Denmark ordered farmers to keep their poultry indoors on Monday due to the bird flu threat and Germany said it was considering ordering farmers to keep their flocks inside.

(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by Susan Fenton)