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Belgium arrests man suspected of plotting attack on US embassy

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Belgian counter-terror police have arrested a man suspected of plotting an attack against the US embassy in Brussels, federal prosecutors said Monday.

The police on Saturday arrested the man following “converging signs raising fears of an attack against the US embassy,” the prosecutor’s office said.

“The suspect has been detained for an alleged attempted attack within a terrorist context and preparation of a terrorist offense,” it said in a statement.

The man identified only as M.G. appeared Monday morning before an investigating judge who ordered him held, it added.

The suspect denies any involvement in the alleged plot.

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A source close to the investigation told AFP the suspect is a Belgian man around 40 years old and a convert to Islam who had “raised suspicion because of his behaviour”.

He had been seen “scouting” the embassy area before he was arrested, the source added, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The source declined to say whether the suspect fit the profile of a jihadist.

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A spokesman for the US embassy said, “We have no comment at this time.”

Jihadists have staged a number of attacks in Brussels, which hosts the headquarters of the European Union and NATO.

The worst was on March 22, 2016, when suicide bombers killed 32 people and wounded hundreds of others at Brussels airport and a metro station near EU buildings.

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The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the twin attacks.

– Previous attacks in Belgium –

Since 2016, several other attacks, some of them also claimed by IS, have targeted Belgian police or soldiers.

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The last “terrorist attack” occurred in the eastern city of Liege on May 29 last year when Benjamin Herman shot dead two women police officers and a student.

He shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest) before being shot dead by the police.

Since the end of January 2018, the terror alert level in Belgium has been set at two, which means an attack is considered unlikely, the same as it was before January 2015.

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A level three alert — indicating an attack is possible and likely — was set later in January 2015 after police smashed a jihadist cell in the eastern city of Verviers.

That Belgian police raid occurred a week after attacks against the Charlie Hebdo magazine and Jewish supermarket in Paris.

The level four alert — which means a serious and imminent threat of attack — has been put in place twice but for limited duration.

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It was imposed for the first time for a week in the wake of the November 13, 2015, attacks in Paris which claimed the lives of 130 people and wounded hundreds of others.

It was then raised from three to four in the days after the March 2016 attacks.

Police say they believe the same cell was behind both the French and Belgium attacks.


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Venice coffee costs German tourists 950 euros and they were asked to asked to leave the city

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Two German tourists were fined Friday for making themselves a coffee on the steps of the famous Rialto bridge in Venice and asked to leave the city, the municipal authorities said.

The two backpackers from Berlin, aged 32 and 35, had made themselves comfortable at the foot of the world-famous landmark and got out their portable coffee-making equipment when they were spotted by a passer-by and reported to the police, the city authorities said in a statement.

Using a newly-passed law, police officers fined them 950 euros ($1,050) for unseemly behavior and asked them to leave Venice.

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School district threatens parents their children may be put in foster care over unpaid lunch bills

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A Luzerne County, Pennsylvania school district is under fire for sending letters to parents who owe money for their children's lunches. The letters threaten that if the bills remain unpaid their children could be removed from their homes and placed in foster care.

"Your child has been sent to school every day without money and without breakfast and/or lunch. This is a failure to provide your child with proper nutrition and you can be sent to Dependency Court for neglecting your child's right to food," the letter reads, as NBC News reported.

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Trump pits Apollo 11 astronauts against NASA chief — he thinks he understands space travel better

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President Donald Trump welcomed surviving Apollo 11 crew members Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the White House Friday, using the occasion to tell his space chief he would prefer to go straight to Mars without returning to the Moon.

It is a theme he had touched upon earlier this month in a tweet, and this time drew on the support of the two former astronauts, who are taking part in celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of their mission, to make his case to NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.

"To get to Mars, you have to land on the Moon, they say," said Trump, without looking convinced.

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