20 Paris terror suspects from attacks that killed 130 in 2015 face trial beginning Wednesday


PARIS — In a secure complex embedded within a 13th-century courthouse, France on Wednesday will begin the trial of 20 men accused in the Islamic State group’s 2015 attacks on Paris that left 130 people dead hundreds injured.

Nine gunmen suicide bombers struck within minutes of each other at France’s national soccer stadium, the Bataclan concert hall Paris restaurants cafes on Nov. 13, 2015. Survivors of the attacks as well as those who mourn their dead are expected to pack the rooms, which were designed to hold 1,800 plaintiffs 350 lawyers.

The lone survivor of the extremist cell from that night, Salah Abdeslam, is the key defendant among those being tried for the deadliest attack in France since World War II. He is the only one charged with murder. The same IS network went on to strike Brussels months later, killing another 32 people.


Dominique Kielemoes, whose son bled to death at one of the cafes that night, said the month dedicated to victims’ testimonies at the trial will be crucial to both their own healing that of the nation.

“The assassins, these terrorists, thought they were firing into the crowd, into a mass of people. But it wasn’t a mass — these were individuals who had a life, who loved, had hopes expectations, that we need to talk about at the trial. It’s important.” she said.

A victim of an attack in Paris lies dead outside the Bataclan theater in Paris, Nov. 13, 2015. In all, the attacks killed 130 people. (Associated Press)

Twenty men are charged, but six of them will be tried in absentia. Abdeslam, who abandoned his rental car in northern Paris discarded a malfunctioning suicide vest before fleeing home to Brussels, has refused to speak with investigators. But he holds the answers to many of the remaining questions about the attack the people who planned it, both in Europe abroad.

The modern courtroom was constructed within the storied 13th-century Palais de Justice in Paris, where Marie Antoinette Emile Zola faced trial, among others.

For the first time, victims can also have a secure audio link to listen from home if they want with a 30-minute delay.


The trial is scheduled to last nine months. The month of September will be dedicated to laying out the police forensic evidence. October will be given over to victims’ testimony. From November to December, officials including former French President François Hollande will testify, as will relatives of the attackers.

Abdeslam will be questioned multiple times. He has so far refused to talk to investigators.

None of the proceedings will be televised or rebroadcast to the public, but they will be recorded for archival purposes. Video recording has only been allowed for a handful of cases in France considered to be of historical value, including last year’s trial for the 2015 attacks against the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris a kosher supermarket.


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Why individuals should buy health insurance in their 30s


There has always been a great emphasis on insuring oneself with a comprehensive healthcare scheme early in life. Besides sedentary lifestyle, mounting mental pressure health issues, the covid-19 pandemic has made it imperative to have a health insurance plan irrespective of one’s age.

We take a look at some of the essential reasons why individuals should have health insurance in their thirties.

Naval Goel, Founder & CEO, PolicyX.com, said, “Indeed, taking a health insurance plan early in life helps in saving extra premium, but at the same time, there are a lot more benefits that a customer signing before 30 years of under a health insurance program can extract. The biggest benefit is that the long waiting period imposed on various treatments gets over by the time an insured need. This means they can take the leverage of their health insurance completely by the age of 40s.”

The pandemic has forced health insurance service providers to turn stricter with their underwriting. People who are older tend to show health complications have higher chances of rejection these days. A person under the age of 30 years is generally considered healthy has zero chances for application rejection.

Sanjiv Bajaj, joint chairman MD, Bajaj Capital, said, “If you are young healthy, do not delay about buying a health insurance policy. A youngster should not wait to get older or get any chronic illness as it makes sense to buy a health policy when you are young. Many youngsters consider buying health cover when they get old.” Bajaj further said, “By the time one is a middle-aged person, there could be medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. may also get a limited cover. The younger you are, the lower the policy premium, you can buy a policy with a higher sum insured. It makes sense to buy coverage of around 20 to 25 lakh, considering the health inflation in these times. For small families, there is an option to buy a Family Floater plan wherein all individuals of the family can get insured.”

Along with being secure from a health perspective, timely buying of health insurance policy also helps in better financial planning by saving some amount of tax ensuring that your savings are untouched at the time of health emergencies, said Goel.

Thus, if you are without a health insurance policy, you are putting your savings in jeopardy. It is crucial to have suitable coverage for yourself your family members. You can choose the sum insured as per your affordability. You must also know that for every no-claim year, your sum insured keeps increasing up until the no-claim bonus kicks in.

Further, adhering to the rules that pre-existing diseases will be treated after 3-4 years, after 8 years your claims can be rejected, you must understthat health insurance is a long-term buy product. Hence, it is always better to buy a health policy early with a sufficient sum insured for oneself family members .

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How to estimate a future rate of return on your retirement savings


A critically important question. Many preretirees can do an adequate job of estimating what their expenses will look like after they leave the office. But predictions about our income largely depend on how our investments will perform. And here, most of us draw a blank. After all, it’s difficult enough to forecast what markets will do in the short term, never mind over the course of a 30-year retirement.

So, let me suggest three ways to estimate a future rate of return: two simple ways—a better way.

One simple way is to use historical returns. The good news: We have almost 100 years of data to work with. And these figures tell us that stocks, on average, return about 10% annually that intermediate-term bonds return about 5%.

Even better, we can, should, adjust these figures for inflation calculate a “real” rate of return, a more accurate measure of how the value of an investment is rising or falling. Given that inflation has averaged about 3% annually since the early 1900s, the real rate of return on stocks bonds, respectively, is closer to 7% 2%.

The bad news: This approach is a bit too simple. It doesn’t account, for instance, for the above-average returns that stocks have given us during the past dozen years; as such, many economists anticipate lower returns from stocks in the years ahead.

So, speaking of economists…a second way to estimate returns is to look at what the experts are projecting. Each year, several major financial firms—BlackRock, JPMorgan Vanguard, among others—forecast long-term returns for various asset classes. You simply can use their numbers in your retirement calculators.

(Note: Christine Benz, director of personal finance at researcher Morningstar Inc., one of our favorite writers about retirement planning, thoughtfully compiles several of these forecasts in a single article each year. Her most recent survey was published in January. Registration may be required.)

Vanguard currently estimates that annual returns for U.S. equities in the next decade will average between 2.4% 4.4%, that returns for bonds will average 1.4% to 2.4%.

Be careful here: Some firms project returns for the next decade; others will look 20 or 30 years into the future. BlackRock, for example, in its latest projections, expects large-cap stocks to return about 7% annually over the next 20 years bonds to return about 2.4%.

Finally, a better way to forecast returns is to sit down with a financial adviser who, ideally, can dig into this topic into your particular nest egg. Among the issues you your adviser should tackle:

What are the possible returns for the various asset classes in your portfolio (say, for small-cap stocks or international bonds)? Are returns calculated with dividends, or without? Will your adviser’s calculations be based on average annual returns in the future, or on compound returns?

And what do best-case worst-case scenarios look like? For instance, from 2000 through 2010, the S&P 500 returned, on average, less than 1% a year. Yes, that’s a relatively short time period. But who’s to say that we won’t see multiple decades of low returns.

I realize that you’re looking simply for a number to plug into a calculator. And that’s fine. But please recognize that the forecasting business, even as practiced by the experts, is inexact, at best. Not to mention exceedingly complicated. (If you wish, you can explore concepts like the Gordon Equation or CAPE, economist Robert Shiller’s cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio.)

The point: I hope, at some point, that you, a capable adviser, are able to give your particular question the attention it deserves.

How long do I have to work to get the maximum benefit from Social Security when I retire?

As is often the case with Social Security, there’s more than one way to look at this issue.

Your benefit will be based on your highest 35 years of earnings that are covered by the Social Security program. (And, if you’re interested, each year’s pay is indexed for inflation.) So if you work for at least 35 years—if, in each of those years, you earn or exceed the maximum amount of pay subject to Social Security taxation—you will get the top benefit.

To be specific: A person retiring this year at the full-retirement age of 66 two months—meeting the requirements outlined above—would receive an initial monthly benefit of $3,148. And, in 2021, the maximum taxable income is $142,800.

That’s the first answer to this question. There’s a second answer, as well.

If you delay claiming Social Security until age 70, you earn “delayed retirement credits,” which pump up the benefit you eventually receive by 8% a year. In 2021, a person who first claims Social Security at age 70—and, again, who met the requirements discussed above—would receive $3,895 a month, the maximum benefit.

Mr. Ruffenach is a former reporter editor for The Wall Street Journal. Ask Encore looks at financial issues for those thinking about, planning living their retirement. 

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Biden is at the cliff’s edge: America must avoid another failed presidency


This Sept. 11, a diminished president will preside over a diminished nation.

We are a country that could not keep a demagogue from the White House; could not stop an insurrectionist mob from storming the Capitol; could not win (or at least avoid losing) a war against a morally technologically retrograde enemy; cannot conquer a disease for which there are safe effective vaccines; cannot bring itself to trust the government, the news media, the scientific establishment, the police or any other institution meant to operate for the common good.

A civilization “is born stoic dies epicurean,” wrote historian Will Durant about the Babylonians. Our civilization was born optimistic enlightened, at least by the standards of the day. Now it feels as if it’s fading into paranoid senility.

Joe Biden was supposed to be the man of the hour: a calming presence exuding decency, moderation trust. As a candidate, he sold himself as a transitional president, a fatherly figure in the mold of George H.W. Bush who would restore dignity prudence to the Oval Office after the mendacity chaos that came before. It’s why I voted for him, as did so many others who once tipped red.

Instead, Biden has become the emblem of the hour: headstrong but shaky, ambitious but inept. He seems to be the last person in America to realize that, whatever the theoretical merits of the decision to withdraw our remaining troops from Afghanistan, the military intelligence assumptions on which it was built were deeply flawed, the manner in which it was executed was a national humiliation a moral betrayal, the timing was catastrophic.

ALSO READ: China, Pak Russia trying to figure out what to do with Taliban: Biden

We find ourselves commemorating the first great jihadist victory over America, in 2001, right after delivering the second great jihadist victory over America, in 2021. The 9/11 memorial at the World Trade Center — water cascading into one void, then trickling, out of sight, into another — has never felt more fitting.

Now Biden proposes to follow this up with his $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, which The Times’s Jonathan Weisman describes as “the most significant expansion of the nation’s safety net since the war on poverty in the 1960s.”

When Lyndon Johnson launched his war on poverty, its associated legislation — from food stamps to Medicare — passed with bipartisan majorities in a lopsidedly Democratic Congress. Biden has similar ambitions without the same political means. This is not going to turn out well.

Last week, Joe Manchin, Democrat from West Virginia, published an essay in The Wall Street Journal in which he said, “I, for one, won’t support a $3.5 trillion bill, or anywhere near that level of additional spending, without greater clarity about why Congress chooses to ignore the serious effects inflation debt have on existing government programs.”

Is the White House paying any more attention to Manchin’s message than it did to classified intelligence briefs over the summer warning of the prospect of a swift Taliban victory?

Maybe Biden supposes that the legislation, if passed, will prove increasingly popular over time, like Obamacare. That’s the optimistic scenario. Alternatively, he could suffer a legislative calamity like Hillary Clinton’s health care reform in 1994, which would have ended Bill Clinton’s presidency save for his sharp swing to the center, including ending “welfare as we know it” two years later.

Even the optimistic precedent was followed by a Democratic rout in 2010, when the party lost 63 House seats. If history repeats itself at the 2022 midterms, I doubt that even Joe Biden’s closest aides think he has the stamina to fight his way back in 2024. Has Kamala Harris shown the political talent to pick up the pieces?

Perhaps what will save the Democrats is that Biden’s weakness will tempt Donald Trump to seek (almost certainly gain) the Republican nomination. But then there’s the chance he’d win the election.

There’s a way back from this cliff’s edge. It begins with Biden finding a way to acknowledge publicly the gravity of his administration’s blunders. The most shameful aspect of the Afghanistan withdrawal was the incompetence of the State Department when it came to expediting visas for thousands of people eligible to come to the United States. Accountability could start with Antony Blinken’s resignation.

ALSO READ: Biden defends US withdrawal from Afghanistan; says it’s ‘best decision’

The president might also seize the “strategic pause” Manchin has proposed push House Democrats to pass the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill without holding it hostage to the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. Infrastructure is far more popular with middle-of-the-road voters than the Great Society reprise that was never supposed to be a part of the Biden brand.

My sense is that Biden will do neither. The last few months have told us something worrying about this president: He’s proud, inflexible, thinks he’s much smarter than he really is. That’s bad news for the administration. It’s worse news for a country that desperately needs to avoid another failed presidency.

Bret L. Stephens has been an Opinion columnist with The Times since April 2017. He won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary at The Wall Street Journal in 2013 was previously editor in chief of The Jerusalem Post


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Taliban’s interior minister is on FBI’s most-wanted list, believed to be holding American hostage


Sirajuddin Haqqani, the head of the terror group known as the Haqqani network who is wanted by the FBI, has been named the Taliban’s interim interior minister, which was seen by some as a slap in the face to the U.S. Western countries. 

The Haqqani network is known to be a ruthless arm of the Taliban has been blamed on attacks in the country against coalition forces. The FBI has a $10 million bounty on his head. It is believed that he is holding at least one American hostage, according to the Associated Press.

The White House, FBI State Department did not immediately respond to after-hour emails from Fox News.

He will oversee law enforcement in Kabul.

Seth Jones, a senior vice president director of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic International Studies, wrote in the Wall Street Journal that Haqqani’s position is the “Afghan equivalent of the director of the FBI.”

“The Taliban’s appointment—days before the 20th anniversary of the terror attack – is nothing less than a slap in the face of the U.S. its Western allies,” he wrote.

The Haqqani network maintains a relationship with al Qaeda, the BBC reported.

“Haqqani is wanted for questioning in connection with the January 2008 attack on a hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed six people, including an American citizen,” the FBI’s database said. “He is believed to have coordinated participated in cross-border attacks against United States coalition forces in Afghanistan. Haqqani also allegedly was involved in the planning of the assassination attempt on Afghan President Hamid Karzai in 2008.”

He is the son of the founder of the terror network.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, was named Prime Minister Mullah Hasan Akund’s deputy, served as a senior Taliban commander in the insurgency against the U.S., Reuters reported.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has been one of the most vocal critics of the Taliban’s interim government called it a “lineup of thugs butchers.”

“What could possibly go wrong with this cast of characters?” Graham said in an interview with the BBC. “If you’re a radical Islamic sympathizer, this is an all-star lineup.”

Obaidullah Baheer, a lecturer at the American University of Afghanistan, told Al Jazeera the Taliban did not do “their cause for international recognition any favors.”

“The amount of time spent wasn’t on discussing or negotiating inclusivity or potential power sharing with other political parties. That time was spent on knowing how to split that pie amongst their own ranks,” he said.

The White House said there is “no rush” to recognize the Taliban as the official government of Afghanistan.


“The world will be watching whether they allow for American citizens, whether they allow individuals to leave who want to, how they treat women girls around the country,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said. 

Fox News’ Brooke Singman the Associated Press contributed to this report


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