Reader links for May 7 – 2015

This post has all its contents in the comments. For the newest freshest videos and news stories of interest to the Counter-Jihad and the Geopolitics of Islam, please click comments and add to, or read what is posted there.

Some will be integrated into the day’s posts and others not. But this way we can keep a great news flow going without interfering with the conversations about the issues under the various essays and news items in the posts that will be presented throughout the day.

Thank you all for your informative and important contributions.

About Eeyore

Canadian artist and counter-jihad and freedom of speech activist as well as devout Schrödinger's catholic

62 Replies to “Reader links for May 7 – 2015”

  1. Vatican blasts Muhammad cartoons as pouring ‘gasoline on the fire’

    VATICAN CITY (RNS) The Vatican’s semiofficial newspaper blasted a series of cartoons of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad as “blasphemous” but also condemned the “mad and bloodthirsty” extremists who opened fire at a Texas exhibit of the cartoons.

    The front-page article in L’Osservatore Romano likened the exhibit in Garland, Texas, to pouring “gasoline on the fire” of religious sensitivities and was critical of its sponsors, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, and professional provocateur Pamela Geller.
    more on the page :

  2. Turkey to send ground troops to Syria, opposition deputy claims

    A senior official from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has told the media that the Turkish government is planning to send ground forces to Syria within two days, saying that the government’s reckless policies would drag Turkey into an intractable conflict.

    CHP Deputy Chairman Gürsel Tekin, speaking to the Taraf daily on Thursday, said the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government will send Turkish ground forces to the north of Syria on Thursday or Friday night. The deputy’s statement implied that Turkey would set up a buffer zone, which it has previously pressed for in Syria. Tekin said he obtained the critical information from a reliable source, who is assumed to be in the military, about the plans for intervention in Syria.

    • Turkey confirms alliance with Saudi Arabia to help rebels fighting Syria’s Assad

      Casting aside U.S. concerns about aiding extremist groups, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have converged on an aggressive new strategy to bring down Syrian President Bashar Assad.

      The two countries — one a democracy, the other a conservative kingdom — have for years been at odds over how to deal with Assad, their common enemy. But mutual frustration with what they consider American indecision has brought the two together in a strategic alliance that is driving recent rebel gains in northern Syria, and has helped strengthen a new coalition of anti-Assad insurgents, Turkish officials say.

      That is provoking concern in the United States, which does not want rebel groups, including the al-Qaida linked Nusra Front, uniting to topple Assad. The Obama administration worries that the revived rebel alliance could potentially put a more dangerous radical Islamist regime in Assad’s place, just as the U.S. is focused on bring down the Islamic State group. A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issues, said the administration is concerned that the new alliance is helping Nusra gain territory in Syria.

      The coordination between Turkey and Saudi Arabia reflects renewed urgency and impatience with the Obama administration’s policy in the region. Saudi Arabia previously kept its distance and funding from some anti-Assad Islamist groups at Washington’s urging, according to Turkish officials. Saudi Arabia and Turkey also differed about the role of the international Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, in the Syrian opposition. Turkey supports the group, while the Saudi monarchy considers it a threat to its rule at home; that has translated into differences on the ground — until recently.

      “The key is that the Saudis are no longer working against the opposition,” a Turkish official said. He and other officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

      Turkish officials say the Obama administration has disengaged from Syria as it focuses on rapprochement with Iran. While the U.S. administration is focused on degrading the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, they say it has no coherent strategy for ending the rule of Assad, Iran’s key ally in the region.

      Under Turkish and Saudi patronage, the rebel advance has undermined a sense that the Assad government is winning the civil war — and demonstrated how the new alliance can yield immediate results. The pact was sealed in early March when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan flew to Riyadh to meet Saudi’s recently crowned King Salman. Relations had been tense between Erdogan and the late King Abdullah, in great part over Erdogan’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood.

      The Saudi shift appears to be part of broader proxy war against Iran that includes Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen against Iran-backed Houthi rebels. The new partnership adds Saudi money to Turkey’s logistical support.

      “It’s a different world now in Syria, because the Saudi pocketbook has opened and the Americans can’t tell them not to do it,” said Joshua Landis, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “It’s quite clear that Salman has prioritized efforts against Iran over those against the Muslim Brotherhood.”

      The Turkish-Saudi agreement has led to a new joint command center in the northeastern Syrian province of Idlib. There, a coalition of groups — including Nusra and other Islamist brigades such as Ahrar al-Sham that Washington views as extremist — are progressively eroding Assad’s front. The rebel coalition also includes more moderate elements of the Free Syrian Army that have received U.S. support in the past.

      At the end of March, the alliance — calling itself “Conquest Army” — took the city of Idlip, followed by the strategic town of Jisr al-Shughour and then a government military base.

      • additional paragraph on the AP page :

        “They have really learned to fight together,” the Turkish official said.

        Turkish officials say that Turkey provides logistical and intelligence support to some members of the coalition, but has no interaction with Nusra — which it considers a terrorist group. But the difference with IS, the officials say, is that Turkey does not view Nusra as a security threat and therefore does not impede it.

        The Turkish official who touted the Conquest Army’s ability to fight cohesively said, however, that Turkey and Saudi Arabia have moved to bolster Ahrar al-Sham at Nusra’s expense. This strays from the U.S. line that al-Sham is an extremist group, but Turkish officials say they distinguish between international jihadist groups and others with more localized aims. They place al-Sham in the latter category.

        Moreover, they hope to use al-Sham’s rise to put pressure on Nusra to renounce its ties to al-Qaida and open itself to outside help.

        Turkish officials say that the U.S. has no strategy for stabilizing Syria. One Turkish official said that the CIA has even lately halted its support for anti-Assad groups in northern Iraq. U.S. trainers are now in Turkey on a train-and-equip program aimed at adding fighters to counter the Islamic State group and bolster moderate forces in Syria, but Turkish officials are skeptical that it will amount to much.

        Usama Abu Zeid, a legal adviser to the Free Syrian Army, confirmed that the new coordination between Turkey and Saudi Arabia — as well as Qatar — had facilitated the rebel advance, but said that it not yet led to a new flow of arms. He said rather that the fighters had seized large caches of arms from Syrian government facilities.

        So far, Abu Zeid said, the new understanding between the militia groups and their international partners has led to quick success.

        “We were able to cause a lot of damage and capture more territory from the regime,” he said.

        But Landis said that it is a dangerous game — especially for Turkey.

        “The cautionary tale is that every power in the Middle East has tried to harness the power of Islamists to their own ends,” he said, noting that Assad’s government also backed Islamists in Iraq who later turned their guns on him. “It always seems to blow back.”

  3. Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Ali al-Naimi: ‘Only Allah can set the price of oil’

    Saudi Arabia’s oil minister has turned to divinity over the issue of slumping prices in oil, claiming that “it’s up to Allah”.

    Speaking to CNBC, oil minister Ali al-Naimi said that “no one can set the price of oil – it’s up to Allah”.

    Saudi Arabia is the world’s biggest producer of oil and, while oil prices have been staying low on the market, the country has decided to increase its production of the substance rather than cut it.[…]

  4. A teacher standing as a British National Party (BNP) candidate told pupils “Muslims worship the devil”, a disciplinary panel has heard.
    Reverend Robert West, 59, who is the party’s parliamentary candidate for Boston and Skegness, made the comments during a history lesson.
    The National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) said his conduct fell short of the profession’s standards.
    A BNP spokesman said the party would comment once sanctions are decided.
    Mr West has no connection to the Church of England. In 2006, he set up his own church, based in a house in Holbeach, to preach “traditional bible beliefs”.
    He said the comments had been made in the context of a lesson about the Crusades, was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.
    ‘Worshipping the devil’
    The NCTL panel found he made inappropriate comments to students while working as a supply teacher at Walton Girls High School, Grantham, on 8 November 2013.
    He stated that he was “allergic to Mohammedans” and when asked by a year 12 pupil whether there was there anything wrong with being a Muslim he said “yes, because we are fighting them”, the panel said.
    During another lesson on 14 November 2013, the hearing was told he said “any non-Christian god is demonic” and “Muslims worship the devil”.
    It was also claimed he said: “Well there is one God, and if you are not worshipping him, then you are worshipping the devil”.
    Mr West told the BBC he did make the comments but was trying to show pupils differing points of view. The comments did not represent his own views, he added.
    The NCTL panel said it was satisfied Mr West’s conduct fell short of expected standards, and found him guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.
    It will now decide whether Mr West should be banned from the profession. The BNP said it would not comment until a decision on Mr West’s future as a teacher was reached.
    Walton Girls High School and Sixth Form, in Grantham, said it followed its complaints process promptly when the concerns were raised, and referred the issue appropriately.

    • We are living in scary times really.

      Always lay out the facts never draw the conclusion yourself.

      In this case rather then saying: “Muslims worship the devil”
      State the facts.
      Allah talks about his three daughters al-Lat, al-‘Uzza and Manat in the Qur’an (53: 19 and 20) later Allah stated these were satanic verses. What kind of god makes satanic verses?

      Same with pedophilia. Never state the conclusion. Just state the facts. Muhammad married aisha when he was 52 and she was 6 years old.
      It sounds worse to.

  5. NYT – ITALY – Mosque Installed at Venice Biennale Tests City’s Tolerance

    On Friday, as part of the Venice Biennale, a former Catholic church in the Cannaregio neighborhood will open its doors as a functioning mosque, its Baroque walls adorned with Arabic script, its floor covered with a prayer rug angled toward Mecca and its crucifix mosaics hidden behind a towering mihrab, or prayer niche.

    Against a backdrop of rising Islamophobia in Italy and fears, like those at full throttle in France, of terrorism committed in the name of Islam, Muslim leaders in Venice said they saw the proposal to create a temporary mosque in the international spotlight of the Biennale as a perfect way to communicate their desire to more fully participate in the life of their city.

    […]While a large Islamic center serves as a mosque in Marghera, a part of the city on the mainland where many Muslims live, Mr. Ahdab said it had been a dream of longtime residents like himself to have a mosque in Venice’s historic center.

    Mr. Büchel, 48, is a famously combative artist who has specialized in hyper-real installations that often lay bare the art world’s hypocrisies and political contradictions

    In meetings with Venetian leaders, the police and officials of the Biennale, Mr. Büchel was told that he would not be allowed to make temporary changes to the church’s exterior, including a bas-relief he had planned near the entrance that would have said “Allahu akbar” (or “God is great”) in Arabic script.

    “It’s important for us to do this,” Mr. Mahamed said, “to show people what Islam is about, and not what people see in the media.” He added that the mosque’s incarnation inside a Christian church did not trouble him — he cited traditional stories of the Prophet Muhammad allowing Christian travelers to worship in his mosque in Medina — and he hoped it would not trouble others.

    pics on the page :

  6. CANADA – Edmonton judge allows release of Omar Khadr on bail

    EDMONTON – Omar Khadr is expected to be released from prison soon after an Alberta Court of Appeal justice rejected a last-ditch government attempt to keep the Guantanamo Bay prisoner behind bars.

    Justice Myra Bielby ruled the government failed to prove that allowing Khadr out now would cause “irreparable harm” to Canada’s international treaty obligations.

    Khadr was in the courtroom and let out a smile when Bielby announced her decision.

    It will be Khadr’s first taste of freedom in almost 13 years, since his capture as a wounded 15-year-old in Afghanistan in July 2002.

    “Mr. Khadr, you’re free to go,” Bielby said as she delivered her decision.

    Bielby’s ruling comes after Tuesday’s 11th-hour attempt by Ottawa to keep the 28-year-old Khadr behind bars.

    A lower court judge had granted Khadr bail last month while he appeals his war crimes conviction in the United States.

    Khadr is now expected to be freed later today under conditions that include wearing a tracking bracelet

    Among his other restrictions, Khadr will have to observe a night-time curfew, face limits on contact with his Toronto family, and live with his lawyer, Dennis Edney, and wife Patricia at their home in Edmonton.

    After the ruling, Edney hugged and kissed his wife, who was crying uncontrollably, as others cheered in the courtroom.

    The government had argued that releasing Khadr from Bowden Institution near Innisfail, Alta., would undermine the treaty under which the U.S. returned him to Canada to serve out his eight-year sentence in 2012.

    Khadr’s lawyers called that purely speculative, saying no other Canadian prisoner abroad is in a similar situation.

    They also pointed to the fact that he’s been a model prisoner who was recently classified as a minimum security.

    Documents in support of the reclassification include a recent wide-ranging interview Khadr did with a prison psychologist in which he denounces terrorism and says he wants to win people’s trust and respect.

    “I’ve screwed up in the past, and I’m worried it will haunt me,” Khadr told the psychologist. “People will think I’m the same person as I was 12 or 13 years ago.”

    He also said he still suffers nightmares of the brutal firefight in July 2002 in Afghanistan in which he was almost killed before the Americans captured him.

  7. TURKEY – Four prosecutors, one commander detained in Syria-bound intelligence trucks case

    Four prosecutors and one commander, for whom arrest warrants were issued after their halting of Syria-bound National Intelligence Organization (MIT) trucks in Turkey’s south last year, have been detained.

    The Tarsus 2nd High Criminal Court ordered the arrest of four prosecutors, along with a commander who ordered the Syria-bound trucks belonging to MIT to be stopped and searched.

    A crisis erupted after the MIT trucks bound for Syria were stopped and searched by authorities on Jan. 1, 2014, in the southern province of Hatay. Another group of trucks was searched by the gendarmerie in the southern province of Adana on Jan. 19.

    Arrest warrants for former Adana Chief Public Prosecutor Süleyman Bagr?yan?k, prosecutors Aziz Takç?, Özcan Sisman, Ahmet Karaca, and former Adana Gendarmerie Commander Özkan Çokay were issued on the grounds of “attempting to topple or stop it [the Turkish government] partially or completely from doing its duty by using force and violence.”

    Bagr?yan?k, Sisman and Karaca were detained where they live in Antalya, Adana and Gaziantep, respectively, and brought to the Tarsus court, while Takç? was detained in Zonguldak and sent to Tarsus. Çokay went to Tarsus courthouse May 7 with his lawyer to testify.

    Takç? was initially not found in his Zonguldak home on the evening of May 6 but came to the Zonguldak police department in early May 7 with a police escort.

    “I am not making any statements right now. I will make a written announcement,” Takç? said May 7 before the Zonguldak courthouse.

    The second chamber of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) decided on Jan. 15 to remove from duty Bagr?yan?k, Karaca, Takç?, Sisman and Yasar Kavalc?kl?oglu, the five prosecutors involved in the incident. The decision passed with a majority of votes and was justified based on “the safety of investigations and not harming the judiciary’s influence and reputation.”

    Turkish authorities in January 2015 said all websites publishing alleged records related to the Syrian-bound MIT trucks would be blocked, presaging a possible new ban on Twitter and Facebook. The two social media networks, however, quickly complied and removed the content on Jan. 14.

    • Concerns about judicial independence mount as prosecutors arrested

      The arrest of four prosecutors and a gendarmerie commander involved in the search of Syria-bound trucks that were found to belong to the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) in January 2014 has added to concerns about the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.

      Former Adana Chief Public Prosecutor Süleyman Bagriyanik, former Adana Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor Ahmet Karaca, Adana Prosecutors Aziz Takçi and Özcan Sisman and former Adana provincial gendarmerie commander Col. Özkan Çokay are facing charges of “attempting to topple or incapacitate the Turkish government through the use of force or coercion and obtaining and exposing information regarding the security and political activities of the state,” as reported by Turkish media.

      The prosecutors were earlier suspended from duty in a government-orchestrated move to hush up scandalous revelations that were leaked by an anonymous social media user. The orders were issued by the Tarsus 2nd High Criminal Court at the request of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) chief inspector.

      Mahmut Tanal, an Istanbul deputy for the Republican People’s Party (CHP), talked to Today’s Zaman on Thursday to express his grief over the way that the rule of law is being eroded in Turkey, saying, “They [ the government ] are removing justice, the pillar of the state, for the survival of the ruling party.”

      Tanal continued: “The laws prescribing the detentions of judges and prosecutors show the need for crimes necessitating aggravated sentencing. The judges are rendering decisions on the cases that are put in front of them according to the law. The prosecutors did what needed to be done after they received the tip-off.”

      “They’ve [ the government ] detained law enforcement personnel. They’ve detained judges, prosecutors. They’ve detained journalists, bureaucrats and scientists. They wanted to bully the public with these detainments. Even in Nazi Germany judges and prosecutors were not detained for the decision they made, but in Turkey they are,” he said.

      Former prosecutor Mete Göktürk also spoke to Today’s Zaman, criticizing the arrest of the four prosecutors linked to the investigation of the MIT trucks. “It is clear that these arrests are blatant attacks on the independence of the judiciary and have not been done in the name of the law,” he said.

      Göktürk continued: “The independence of the judiciary is necessary for citizens hoping to find justice, not judges. The loss of judicial independence will erode [people’s] faith in the law. I condemn [ these acts ]. Everywhere in the world, people in the judiciary are watching and condemning [ these acts ].”

      MIT trucks understood to be transporting munitions to Syria stopped in Adana, Hatay

      On Jan. 1, 2014 a mysterious truck en route to Syria was stopped by police in the provinces of Adana and Hatay after prosecutors received an anonymous tip-off. However, the police were made to transfer the investigation to the gendarmerie because the police had stopped the truck in an area that was outside its jurisdiction. The truck was allegedly transporting arms and munitions and was being escorted by Turkish intelligence officers.

      According to claims, the gendarmerie discovered ammunition and weapons as well as humanitarian aid in an initial search of the truck. Hatay Governor Celalettin Lekesiz, who had reportedly been informed of the incident, instructed the gendarmerie not to search the truck. Three more Syria-bound trucks operated by MIT were stopped in Ceyhan, a district of the southern province of Adana, on Jan. 19, 2014. The trucks belonging to MIT were allegedly transporting arms shipments to opposition groups in Syria, INCLUDING AL-QAEDA .

      Then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during a television program at the time that the trucks were carrying aid to Turkmens in Syria. On the program, Erdogan appeared to be particularly angry with the prosecutor for having instructed the content of the trucks to be recorded on video and described the search of the trucks as “treason.” Syrian-Turkmen Assembly Vice Chairman Hussein al-Abdullah said in January 2014 no trucks carrying aid had arrived from Turkey.

      Many high-level Turkish officials, including then-President Abdullah Gül said, the cargo of the trucks was a “state secret,” which led some to speculate that the trucks were carrying arms. Turkish law prohibits arms exports to Syria.

      The truck that police stopped between Kirikhan and Reyhanli near the Syrian border allegedly belonged to an aid organization called the Humanitarian Aid Foundation (IHH), though the IHH strongly rejected any link to the truck in a written statement.
      Prosecutor Bagriyanik: whatever the decision, I’m behind the case

      Former Adana Chief Public Prosecutor Süleyman Bagriyanik, who initiated the investigation based on an anonymous tip-off before being appointed to Antalya and then suspended, was detained at his home in Antalya on Wednesday evening. As he was being detained, Bagriyanik told reporters: “If I were a terrorist and if I had really committed a crime, they would never touch me. I just did what the law told me. I am the child of a farming family. Police arrived at my door after news reports emerged [about orders to detain me]. This is shameful. I am a person who has served as a prosecutor for this country for years.”

      “Thank god we [ prosecutors ] are not those people who have committed treason against their country. This scenario is even worse than that of Yesilçam [ Turkish cinema ] scripts that were made for commercial purposes. They [ prosecutors ] can ask me anything they like. I never stray from the boundaries of the law. Whatever my views were in my career will never change,” he said as he was being detained.

      Bagriyanik also said: “Whatever the decision is, whatever they do, I’m behind this case. There have been criminal complaints regarding myself. The inspectors wanted my deposition. I didn’t see the complaints published in the media, as part of the accusations [ put forward in court ]. God has given me one life. You can finish your life in an unrespectable way or you can finish your life in a respectable way. I [ prefer to ] go and serve my time.”

      Bagriyanik criticized his detainment on Wednesday evening, saying: “I am comfortable today, from the very beginning. I have always implemented the law. We’re not bandits; we are not brigands. I am going to turn myself in. It’s not as if we [ prosecutors ] are going to run away.”

      Lawyers from the Antalya Bar Association also came to Bagr?yan?k’s house to show their solidarity with him.
      Prosecutor Sisman: acting this way to a state prosecutor is against the law

      Prosecutor Özcan Sisman was also detained at his home in Adana by police on Wednesday. Speaking to reporters as he was taken for a medical check-up after his detention, Sisman said it is a crime to treat a state prosecutor in such a way.

      Sisman was referred to the Tarsus Second High Criminal Court on Thursday along with former Adana Public Prosecutor Süleyman Bagriyanik after being taken through a medical examination the night before. While in custody, Sisman said: “There are allegations that I have engaged in acts of espionage. For years I conducted investigations into terror and espionage. I don’t know what I’m being charged with. To act in this way towards a public prosecutor is against the law. Those who did this will bear the penalty of this.”

      Former Adana Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor Ahmet Karaca, one of the prosecutors in charge of the case of the MIT trucks, also handed himself in at a courthouse on Thursday while on duty in Turkey’s southeastern Gaziantep province.

      Leaked documents show trucks personally authorized by Erdogan

      In 2014, leaked military documents showed that the transportation of arms to Syria in three trucks was personally authorized by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan when he was prime minister.

      According to one document, then-Adana Governor Huseyin Avni Cos rushed to the scene when Takçi ordered gendarmerie units to search and seize the three trucks, which were found to contain arms and ammunition. The governor was quoted as saying, “The trucks were moving under the orders of the prime minister [Erdogan] and he would never allow any interference into these trucks, even if that costs him his life.”

      On Jan. 20, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arinç labeled key documents revealed about national MIT trucks “pieces of paper,” belittling their importance. Speaking after an eight-and-a-half-hour Cabinet meeting chaired by Erdogan at the presidential palace, Ar?nç argued that the documents related to the claims that MIT trucks had illegally transported arms involving illegal arms shipments to opposition groups in Syria, including al-Qaeda, had been fabricated. “They are trying to deceive the world via ‘pieces of paper’ that were signed by some people based on no concrete information or documents. It is totally fake,” he stated.

        • Hotel torched, tear gas in streets of Iran’s Mahabad

          ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Tensions are on edge in the ethnically Kurdish city of Mahabad, Iran, where protesters earlier torched a hotel over the unexplained death one of its female employees.

          Police on Thursday used tear gas to remove hundreds of demonstrators from the area in front of the damaged Tara Hotel, leading to near riot conditions in the city some 200km from the border with Iraq’s Kurdistan region.

          At least one protester has been reported injured in the incident that began after the death of Farinaz Khosrawani, 25, who was killed by a fall from the 4th floor of the hotel.

          The death was denounced by local demonstrators who suspected foul play. Despite the arrest of a suspect, protesters set fire to part of the hotel.

          “The people must wait until the investigation results are out to find out the reason behind Khosrawani’s death,” Jaafar Katani, Muhabat mayor, told Rudaw.

          Khosrawani’s family agreed withe the investigation but tensions remain high in the city of 280,000 people.

          “We are waiting the result of the investigation,” a family member told a Rudaw.

  8. Audit Finds Pentagon Credit Cards Used at Casinos and Adult Entertainment Totaling $1 Million

    A Pentagon audit has found that efense Department personnel misused their government travel credit cards to spend more than $1 million at casinos and adult entertainment venues last year.

    The misuse of the cards has resulted in disciplinary action in several hundred cases, but there is no loss to taxpayers as the cardholders must pay the cost of unauthorized or personal use transactions themselves.

    The Defense Department’s Inspector General is slated to release an audit later this month entitled, “Government Travel Charge Card Transactions Made at Casinos or Adult Entertainment Establishments.”

    The audit looked at whether Defense Department employees used their government travel credit cards for personal use at casinos or adult entertainment establishments.

    A defense official told ABC News that auditors found that during the period from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014, DoD cardholders improperly used those government credit cards to spend $952,258 at casinos and $96,576 at adult entertainment establishments.

    The report did not determine how many Pentagon employees had improperly used their cards, which are supposed to be used solely for travel expenses.

    However, the audit found 4,437 transactions at casinos and 900 additional transactions at adult entertainment establishments during that timeframe.

    “Clearly, the behavior displayed by these individuals neither comports with our values nor represents the good service of the vast majority of or service members or DOD Civilians,” said the official.

    Disciplinary action has already been taken for 364 cases and 79 are pending action, the official said.

    The defense official described the improper spending at casinos and adult establishments as “miniscule” because it amounted to 0.0307% of the total card spending of $3.4 billion dollars on individually billed accounts during the period of the audit.

    “While any misuse of the card is taken seriously, the amount of this misuse is extremely small given the size and scope of the DoD travel charge card program,” said the official.

    Some 1.6 million employees have the travel cards.

    As with any other misuse of the cards for unauthorized personal use, the government does not reimburse or pay for the charges. It is the card holder who ends up paying the cost of the unauthorized or personal use transactions “out of pocket.”

  9. Facebook Enforcing Sharia Law, Removes Mohammed Cartoonist Bosch Fawstin, Winner Of The Garland Contest
    I have been removed from Facebook.

    — Bosch Fawstin (@BoschFawstin) May 7, 2015

  10. NSA phone data collection ‘illegal’, US court rules (BBC, May 7, 2015)

    “A US appeals court has ruled that bulk collection of phone records by the National Security Agency is illegal.

    Overturning a 2013 ruling, the judges did not, however, halt the programme but urged Congress to take action.

    The NSA’s spying was leaked by Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor who has since fled to Russia.

    The NSA has collected data about numbers called and times, but not the content of conversations. It also allegedly spied on European firms.

    Among individuals targeted was German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    Germany has “drastically reduced” internet surveillance for the NSA, reports say, after the US agency failed to provide “clear justification” for each search…..”

  11. We have seen some footage from both sides… This is the latest assessment, as of May 7, 2015 according to some senior U.S. official…

    Official: Baiji refinery now 80% controlled by ISIS (CNN, May 7, 2015)

    “Iraqi security forces are “all but cut off” at the Baiji oil refinery by ISIS and now only control about 20 percent of the facility, a senior U.S. official tells CNN.

    The refinery site, which has not operated for months, has been heavily contested. But ISIS fighters have successfully moved into several refinery areas in recent days, and are keeping the Iraqi forces from being re-supplied.

    ISIS now controls ‘the majority” of the refinery the official said. While Iraqi forces have lost significant ground there in the last few days, the official described the battlefield situation as “highly contested” and said Iraqi forces have suffered steady losses leading to the current situation.

    Iraqi forces include Army, national police and counterterrorism units at the site. If the Iraqis lose the refinery “they will have to find a way to re-take it,” the official said.

    U.S. and coalition fighter jets have been able to strike ISIS fighting positions and supply routes around the refinery, but are not striking inside, the official said. The reason, in part, is to preserve as much of the infrastructure as possible for the future. But the official emphasized in key areas ISIS controls, U.S. airstrikes can only have a limited impact against ISIS which can move fighters into areas in small, not easy to find groups.

    The refinery is considered strategic because it is key infrastructure and it is located on a major approach route to the city of Mosul, which Iraq forces hope to take back from ISIS in the coming months. However, the refinery has been non-operational for some time.”

  12. Muhammad cartoon contest shooting consistent with ‘lone wolf’ attack, White House says

    The White House said Wednesday that the shooting in Texas for which the Islamic State has claimed responsibility was consistent with a lone-wolf attack, while a terrorism watch group said the violence may have been inspired by an al-Shabab extremist from Minnesota who is wanted by the FBI.

    While cautioning that U.S. intelligence officials are still evaluating the Islamic State’s claim, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the attack by two gunmen in Garland, Texas, appears to have involved “two individuals that don’t appear to be part of a broader conspiracy.”

    “Based on what we know now, and there’s still a lot more that we have to learn, this is consistent with what has previously been described as a lone-wolf attack,” Mr. Earnest said.[…]

  13. Associated Press Activist: No regrets about cartoon contest ended by gunfire

    NEW YORK (AP) — Does Pamela Geller regret organizing the Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest that ended in gunfire?

    No, she says confidently. In fact, she says, she probably saved lives by hosting the event and plans to have more just like it, with one difference: Next time, she’ll be wearing a bulletproof vest.

    “I will continue to speak in defense of freedom until the day I die,” Geller said Thursday in an interview with The Associated Press, as a grim-looking personal security guard hovered nearby. “It’s just that simple. It’s not even a choice. It’s a calling.”

    Geller has always hired armed security personnel to protect the scores of events she has spearheaded across the nation in recent years to decry Islamic extremism. But furor over Sunday’s shooting in Garland, Texas, has led to a specific threat against Geller, posted on a website related to the Islamic State group, and the New York Police Department is taking it seriously. Now she doesn’t travel anywhere without protection.

    Geller said she believes she saved lives by hosting the contest because the two Muslim gunmen shot to death by police would have picked another soft target and killed innocent civilians.

    “Would you regret saving lives?” she asked.

    A master of rhetoric and clearly comfortable in the spotlight, the 56-year-old former media executive shifts easily from charming to combative. Her critics have called the cartoon contest needlessly provocative, practically an invitation for violence. But Geller argued that any blame should be focused on extremists who can’t be criticized or lampooned without resorting to violence.

    “Cartoons are political critique. It’s a cartoon,” she said. “Is that what we want to outlaw? We want to outlaw humor? We want to outlaw comedy? If you want to know who rules over you, find out who you cannot criticize.”

    Her activities have prompted the Southern Poverty Law Center to add her to its extremist files, calling her “the anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and flamboyant figurehead.”

    In an editorial Thursday, The New York Times said Geller “has a long history of declarations and actions motivated purely by hatred for Muslims” and called the Garland event “an exercise in bigotry and hatred posing as a blow for freedom. … To pretend it was motivated by anything other than hate is simply hogwash.”

    Geller was once part of the elite media machine she professes to despise, working for the business operations of the Daily News and the New York Observer. Then, she was a self-described “apolitical” mother who paid little mind to world affairs.

    “I loved my fashion. I loved my life. I loved my career,” she said with a smile. “I assumed my freedom. I grew up free, you know? I grew up in the freest country in the world. And I loved it.”

    Then, she said, “9/11 happened. And it was shattering.”

    Ignorant of terrorism, Geller said she dived deeply into the Internet to learn more. She joined a burgeoning online community obsessed with jihad and terrorism. She began opining in the comments section. One day in 2004, a fellow commenter encouraged her to create her own blog.

    “I’m like, ‘What’s a blog?'” Geller recalled. “And he said, ‘Shut up and start writing.'”

    Today, Geller has nearly 68,000 Twitter followers and a devoted army of virtual supporters for her websites, books and public events. As head of an organization called the American Freedom Defense Initiative, she took in $960,000 in donations in 2013, paying herself a salary of $192,500, according to tax filings.

    Donations pour in from the PayPal button on her website, Geller said, adding that she has “no idea” how much money she has raised.

    Records do not list donors, but a recent report by the Center for American Progress, a think tank in Washington, said Geller’s top donors included the Fairbrook Foundation, which supports a number of mainstream conservative groups.

    In 2010, Geller famously led a campaign to prevent the opening of an Islamic community center blocks from the World Trade Center site, calling it the “ground zero mosque.” She has filed numerous lawsuits across the U.S. in recent years, many of them related to her attempts to display incendiary ads in public transit systems. Most recently, New York City’s transit authority banned all political advertising after a judge upheld Geller’s right to run bus ads about Islam that said, “Killing Jews is worship that draws us close to Allah.”

    Any depiction of the Prophet Muhammad is offensive to some Muslims. At the cartoon contest in Texas, about 30 illustrations of the prophet were propped up on easels. One depicted a pencil shoved through Muhammad’s body. Another showed Muhammad wearing a turban that doubled as a bomb, with a lit fuse protruding from the top.

    Geller was hailed by many event attendees, some of whom took books for her to sign and posed for selfies with her.

    Barbara Parlett works in Irving, a Dallas suburb with a significant Muslim population and the site of ongoing heated debates about a local religious tribunal established by three Muslims.

    “(How did) Islam come into my city and is trying to take it over? I felt like I just woke up or something,” Parlett said. “So ever since then, I’m trying to stand up for Christians, for America.”

    Geller was raised in a Jewish household on Long Island and champions Israel as a “beacon of freedom in a very oppressed and violent region,” but she said she is not motivated by religious fervor.

    Sept. 11, Geller said, “threatened my freedom. It threatened the air that I breathe. This is nothing short of a battle between freedom and slavery.”

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