Reader links for May 14 – 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

70 Replies to “Reader links for May 14 – 2015”

  1. Malaysia turns away boat with more than 500 migrants

    LANGKAWI, Malaysia (AP) — Thousands of Rohingya Muslims and Bangladeshi abandoned at sea had nowhere to turn Thursday as Malaysia turned away a boat crammed with more than 500 migrants, saying it could not afford to keep being nice.

    Indonesia and Thailand also appeared unwilling to provide refuge to men, women and children, despite appeals by the U.N. High Commission for Refugees, international aid agencies and rights activists, who warned lives were at risk.

    Fearing arrests, captains tied to trafficking networks have in recent days abandoned ships in the busy Malacca Strait and surrounding waters, leaving behind their human cargo, in many cases with little food or water, according to survivors.

    Around 1,600 have been rescued, but an estimated 6,000 remain stranded at sea.

    Malaysian Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi said those on board the boat found Wednesday off the cost of northern Penang state — three days after more than a thousand refugees landed on nearby Langkawi island — were given provisions and then sent on their way.

    “What do you expect us to do?” he said. “We have been very nice to the people who broke into our border. We have treated them humanely but they cannot be flooding our shores like this.”

    “We have to send the right message that they are not welcome here,” he said.

    Southeast Asia, which for years tried to quietly ignore the plight of Myanmar’s 1.3 million Rohingya, now finds itself caught in a spiraling humanitarian crisis that in many ways it helped create.

    In the last three years, more than 120,000 members of the Muslim minority have boarded ships to flee to other countries, according to the U.N. refugee agency.

    But no governments in the region appear willing to take them in, fearing that accepting a few would result in an unstoppable flow of poor, uneducated migrants. At the same time, they have for years bowed to the wishes of Myanmar at regional conferences, avoiding all discussions of state-sponsored discrimination against the Rohingya.

    Denied citizenship by national law, members of the Rohingya minority are effectively stateless. They have limited access to education or adequate health care and cannot move around freely. They have been attacked by the military and chased from their homes and land by extremist Buddhist mobs.

    With the crisis now reaching a crescendo, Thailand said it would hold an emergency meeting later this month in Bangkok to discuss the exodus and “root causes.” Representatives from 15 countries, including the U.S. and Australia, are expected to attend.

    Thailand reiterated this week that its policy is to “help on” boat people, giving those who end up in their waters food, water and other provisions, and then sending them on their way.

    Indonesia, which has taken 600 Rohingya and Bangaleshis on Sunday, later turned away a boat. But a foreign ministry spokesman denied Wednesday it had a “push back” policy, saying the Malaysian-bound vessel strayed into its waters by accident.

    “This is a grave humanitarian crisis demanding an immediate response,” said Matthew Smith, executive director of non-profit human rights group Fortify Rights. “Lives are on the line. Regional governments should act decisively to rescue and protect asylum seekers and trafficking survivors, not drive them back out to sea.”

    Increasingly over the years, Rohingya boarding boats in the Bay of Bengal have been joined by people from neighboring Bangladeshi, most of them seeking an escape from poverty.

    For those fleeing, the first stop until recently was Thailand, where migrants were held in jungle camps until their families could raise hefty ransoms so they could continue onward. Recent security crackdowns forced the smugglers to change tactics, instead holding people on large ships parked offshore.

    Initially they were shuttled to shore in groups on smaller boats after their “ransoms” were paid. But as agents and brokers on land got spooked by arrests — not just of traffickers but also police and politicians — they went into hiding.

    That created a bottleneck, with migrants stuck on boats for weeks.

    Malaysia, which is not a signatory of international conventions on refugees, is host to more than 150,000 refugees and asylum seekers, the majority who are from Myanmar. More than 45,000 of them are Rohingyas, according to the U.N. refugee agency.

    • Malaysia Turns Away 2 Boats With More Than 800 Migrants (abcnews, May 14, 2015)

      “Thousands of Rohingya Muslims and Bangladeshis abandoned at sea had nowhere to turn Thursday as Malaysia turned away two boats crammed with more than 800 migrants, saying it could not afford to keep being nice.

      Indonesia and Thailand also appeared unwilling to provide refuge to men, women and children, despite appeals by the U.N. High Commission for Refugees, international aid agencies and rights activists, who warned lives were at risk.

      Fearing arrests, captains tied to trafficking networks have in recent days abandoned ships in the busy Malacca Strait and surrounding waters, leaving behind their human cargo, in many cases with little food or water, according to survivors.

      Around 1,600 have been rescued, but an estimated 6,000 remain stranded at sea.

      Malaysian Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi said about 500 people on board a boat found Wednesday off the coast of northern Penang state — three days after more than a thousand refugees landed on nearby Langkawi island — were given provisions and then sent on their way.

      “What do you expect us to do?” he said. “We have been very nice to the people who broke into our border. We have treated them humanely but they cannot be flooding our shores like this.”

      “We have to send the right message that they are not welcome here,” he said.

      Another boat carrying about 300 migrants was turned away near Langkawi Island overnight, according to two Malaysian officials who declined to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak to the press.

      Southeast Asia, which for years tried to quietly ignore the plight of Myanmar’s 1.3 million Rohingya, now finds itself caught in a spiraling humanitarian crisis that in many ways it helped create.

      In the last three years, more than 120,000 members of the Muslim minority have boarded ships to flee to other countries, according to the U.N. refugee agency.

      But no governments in the region appear willing to take them in, fearing that accepting a few would result in an unstoppable flow of poor, uneducated migrants. At the same time, they have for years bowed to the wishes of Myanmar at regional conferences, avoiding all discussions of state-sponsored discrimination against the Rohingya….”

      • Italy reports 3,600 migrant rescues in two days

        Almost 3,600 migrants have been rescued from overcrowded boats sailing from Africa to Europe over the past 48 hours, Italy said on Thursday, with sea conditions seen as perfect for attempting the crossing.

        As more than 600 migrants were brought ashore at the port of Catania in Sicily, rescuers plucked another 2,500 from rickety boats off the coast of Libya, the coast guard said.

        Most of those who arrived in Catania had been picked up by the British warship HMS Bulwark and were Somali and Nigerian, port officials said.

        With Libya engulfed in strife, people smugglers are increasingly free to pack migrants onto unsafe boats, and they are expected to push total arrivals in Italy for 2015 to 200,000, an increase of 30,000 on last year, according to an Interior Ministry projection.

        Sandra Dike, a heavily pregnant 20-year-old Nigerian woman, said she left her home country because of the danger of attacks by the armed Islamist group Boko Haram.

        “It’s not safe to go to a public place, like a church, the market. They (Boko Haram) might bomb the place at any time,” she said. “The war in Libya is worse. That’s why we decided to come to Italy.”

        Boko Haram, which has killed thousands in its attempt to carve out an Islamist state, has suffered major setbacks this year following a co-ordinated military offensive by Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

        A German ship, Italian navy vessels, a merchant ship, and Italy’s finance police and coast guard all conducted rescue operations on Thursday, a coast guard official told Reuters.

        The 40-metre Phoenix, based in Malta and run by the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) and Doctors Without Borders, rescued 561 people, including 136 women and 60 children, mostly from Eritrea. The ship picked up 188 people on Wednesday.

        The surge in rescues comes just a day after the European Union announced a plan to distribute asylum-seekers more fairly around its member states and take in 20,000 more refugees.

        At the beginning of the month when the weather also was favourable, about 6,800 people were rescued over three days, while dozens were said to have drowned.

        With the estimated number of migrant deaths at sea this year approaching 2,000, and after as many as 800 died in a single shipwreck last month, the EU has bolstered its Triton sea mission to help Italy conduct the rescues.

        HMS Bulwark – Catania Italy May 14 2015

          • ‘Ten deaths’ on stranded Myanmar migrant boat (BBC, May 14, 2015)

            “Myanmar migrants on a boat stranded for a week in the Andaman Sea with no food or water say 10 people have died, while some are resorting to drinking urine.

            The fishing boat, carrying about 350 people of the Muslim Rohingya minority, has been refused entry to Thailand.

            Those on board told the BBC the crew abandoned them and disabled the engine. They said the bodies of those who had died were thrown overboard.

            Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand have been turning away migrant boats….”

  2. Yemen’s Humanitarian Truce Barely Holds as Violence Resumes (abcnews, May 14, 2015)

    “Yemen’s humanitarian cease-fire came under significant strain in its first 24 hours Wednesday, disrupted by a Saudi-led coalition airstrike, fighting between rival sides in a strategic province and shelling by coalition warships west of the port city of Aden.

    The airstrike in Abyan province was in response to an attempt by the Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, to send a military convoy to support their forces in Aden, according to Yemeni security officials. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage from the airstrike.

    The heaviest violence on the ground was in the southwestern province of Taiz, where the Iranian-backed rebels and their allies — forces loyal to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh — have for weeks been fighting forces loyal to the nation’s internationally recognized president….”

  3. Afghanistan: ’11 dead’ in Kabul siege, including US citizen (BBC, May 14, 2015)

    “Afghan police say that at least 11 people have been killed in an attack on a Kabul hotel that was packed with foreigners awaiting a concert.

    Indian and US officials said a US citizen and two Indians were among those killed at the Palace Park Hotel.

    The police say they shot dead the two gunmen before they could carry out a suicide attack.

    Security forces rescued more than 50 people who had been at a party in the garden of the hotel.

    The attack lasted five hours after beginning early on Wednesday evening. The siege was eventually ended after Afghan police took the building room by room….”

    • Amtrak train from Chicago catches fire in Milwaukee

      MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Milwaukee Fire Department says all passengers made it out of an Amtrak train after a fire in the locomotive.

      The train departed from Chicago at about 10: 20 a.m. Thursday Cassie Taylor, the department’s office assistant, says firefighters were notified of the fire in the passenger train just after noon Thursday.

      Citing dispatch logs, Taylor told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel everyone was evacuated from the train.

      The fire was reported in the engine.

      According to WITI, the train is part of Amtrak’s Hiawatha service between Milwaukee and Chicago. It offers seven round trips daily.

      The incident in Milwaukee comes amid scrutiny of a deadly Amtrak crash in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

      This is a developing story. Check back for details.

  4. UK – [ Muslim ] Student jailed for five years for making and sharing extreme images of child pornography

    On his release Nur Nordin, 23, he will be considered for automatic deportation to Malaysia upon his release.

    A student convicted of downloading and distributing extreme and disturbing images of child pornography, has been jailed for a total of five years.

    Nur Nordin, 23, of Queensborough Terrace, Bayswater , appeared at Southwark Crown Court , having previously pleaded guilty at the same court to 17 charges of possessing, making and distributing pornographic images of children on or before November 2014.

    When his address was searched police found Nordin with his laptop open, next to a life-size mannequin of a young boy.

    On his release the Imperial College student will be considered for automatic deportation to Malaysia upon his release.

    Investigating officer Detective Constable Sara Keane, of the Met’s Serious Crime Unit, in Westminster , said: “Nordin was involved in the making and sharing of some of the most extreme images that have ever been seen by officers that work in this field. The volume of images and the alarming content meant that a custodial sentence for Nordin was inevitable.”

    […]A significant number of images were classified as Category A, meaning they depicted the most extreme form of abuse involving penetrative sexual activity with children.

    He appeared at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday, April 30, for sentencing, having previously been convicted of; five counts of making indecent photographs of a child; one count of possessing indecent videos (namely 124 Category A videos; 24 Category B videos; 87 Category A images); four counts of possession with intent to distribute indecent images of children; two counts of making indecent images of a child and one count of possession of indecent images and videos of children (namely 477 Category A videos and images; 274 Category B images and videos; 170 Category C videos and images)

    DC Sara Keane, said: “This appalling case demonstrates the danger some adults pose to young and vulnerable children. Those who download this material, and then distribute to others, are fuelling the demand and creating yet more defenceless victims.

  5. ITALY – Three Algerians escape from Alitalia jet in Rome

    Three Algerians forced open the emergency exit of an Alitalia passenger plane while it was heading for take-off at Rome’s Fiumicino airport, slid down the safety slides that were activated and escaped from the airport late on Wednesday night, an Alitalia spokesman said.

    “When the plane was taxiing, in the preliminary stages of approaching the runway, these people forced open a door and slid down the slides that were activated, and then they escaped,” the Alitalia spokesman told The Local.

    The three Algerians had departed from Algiers and were due to fly to Istanbul after a layover in Rome, the spokesman said.

    They are still missing. They were among a group of Algerians on the Alitalia AZ702 flight who had been denied entry to Italy, according to media reports.

    The plane was immediately grounded for checks after the incident and police were called to the scene, Alitalia’s spokesman said.

    Italian border police were not immediately available for comment when contacted by The Local.

    Rome’s main airport is recovering from a fierce fire triggered by an electrical fault in a bar last week which partially destroyed a terminal and has led to many flight delays and cancellations.

  6. TURKEY – Father and son kill each other over clover reaping dispute

    A father and a son shot and killed each other in the northern Turkish province of Kastamonu over a dispute about reaping the clovers on their field on Wednesday.

    62 year-old Halil ?brahim Dabano?lu and his 45 year-old son Hasan got into an argument over the grandson of Halil ?brahim, B.D. who Halil ?brahim had asked to reap clovers but whose father Hasan had sent to school instead.

    Halil ?brahim went to school to pick up his grandson, but Hasan acted first and picked up his son before him. On their way home, they came across the grandfather Halil ?brahim. During the argument, the two men shot at each other in front of B.D.

    Both the grandfather and the father died at the hospital. Both died due to between three and four bullets wounds respectively.

  7. NYT – Saudi Arabia Promises to Match Iran in Nuclear Capability

    […]“We can’t sit back and be nowhere as Iran is allowed to retain much of its capability and amass its research,” one of the Arab leaders preparing to meet Mr. Obama said on Monday, declining to be named until he made his case directly to the president. Prince Turki bin Faisal, the 70-year-old former Saudi intelligence chief, has been touring the world with the same message.

    “Whatever the Iranians have, we will have, too,” he said at a recent conference in Seoul, South Korea.

    […]In fact, the Arab states may find it is not as easy as it sounds. The members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a loose affiliation of nations that make the crucial components for nuclear energy and, by extension, weapons projects, have a long list of components they will not ship to the Middle East. For the Saudis, and other Arab states, that leaves only North Korea and Pakistan, two countries that appear to have mastered nuclear enrichment, as possible sources.

    […]The Saudis have a natural if unacknowledged claim on the technology: They financed much of the work done by A.Q. Khan, a Pakistani nuclear scientist who ended up peddling his nuclear wares abroad. It is widely presumed that Pakistan would provide Saudi Arabia with the technology, if not a weapon itself.

  8. Qatar mall visitors attack Indian man for insulting Islam

    Doha, May 14:

    A young man was attacked by a crowd of angry shoppers for allegedly insulting Islam and the prophet Muhammad .

    The incident happened last week at Safari Mall in the capital of Doha where video footage taken over shows angry crowd shouting, hitting and punching the person and a few others try to fend the crowd.
    The representatives of both Qatar government and Indian community officials met during an emergency meeting on Sunday and had called for calm.

    An Indian expatriate while speaking to Doha News said the victim who has been hospitalized, was alleged to have posted provocative comments in Malayalam about Islam and the prophet Muhammad .

    Niyas Yusuf, who wrote an open letter to Qatar’s Indian community denouncing the attack, added:
    “What he did is completely wrong but such acts of mob attack in name of religion should not be encouraged. (It was) just horrible (in a) way which never happened here before and should not happen again.”
    The president of the Indian Cultural Center in Qatar, Girish Kumar, told Doha News, “The government has some serious concerns… The message is that no one should, under any circumstances, intervene” in this manner.
    He added,” The public should not punish someone… Instead, issues should be reported immediately to the authorities.”

    The community leader also express disapproval of both the online insults and subsequent assault, calling on expats here to show consideration for the rules of their host nation:

    “Qatar is such a great country… (and itoffers) vibrant cultural platforms for all communities and expats,” he said. “We need to have strong, peaceful harmony.”

    Insulting certain faiths that includes desecrating, defaming, or committing blasphemy against Islam, Judaism or Christianity in Qatar is punishable by up to seven years in prison, as per US State Department report on religion

  9. BBC under fire after Home Affairs Editor Mark Easton ‘compares extremist preacher Anjem Choudary to Gandhi and Mandela’

    – Mark Easton discussed government’s new terror laws on BBC News
    – It came after a special report on whether Choudary is a ‘radicalising force’
    – Civil rights campaigners said apparent comparison was ‘completely false’
    – Outraged viewers also say Mr Easton’s comments are ‘disgusting’ and ‘silly’

    on this page :

  10. Oil tanker directly fired upon by craft thought to be Iranian – owner

    LONDON, May 14 (Reuters) – Small craft thought to be Iranian fired on a Singapore-flagged oil products tanker after the ship ignored an order to stop in international waters in the Gulf, the ship’s owner said on Thursday.

    Owner South Maritime Pte Ltd said in a statement the Singapore-flagged Alpine Eternity was attacked by a number of small craft, “thought to be Iranian”, earlier on Thursday while in international waters off the United Arab Emirates after it had sailed from Bahrain en route to Fujairah.

    “At 0800 hrs GMT, a number of craft approached the Alpine Eternity firing warning shots and the master was ordered by VHF to stop,” South Maritime Pte said.

    “The master ignored the order and broke away from his passage and headed into UAE waters at the same time requesting assistance. At the point when the order was ignored and when the vessel changed course it was directly fired upon.”

    The owner said the vessel safely reached the port of Jebel Ali, adding that there was no serious damage to the vessel and none of the 23 crew members were injured.–business.html

  11. Poll: Michelle Obama would be Hillary’s strongest Dem rival in 2016

    If Michelle Obama decided to run for president in 2016, she would pose the most significant threat, among likely contenders, to Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the Democratic nomination, according to a new Rasmussen poll.

    A telephone survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted by the polling company found that in a hypothetical match-up between the current first lady and the former secretary of State, Clinton would best Obama 56 percent to 22 percent.

    That may seem like a significant margin, but according to the most recent RealClearPolitics polling average, Elizabeth Warren, a popular hypothetical challenger to Clinton, receives only 12.5 percent to Clinton’s 64 percent.

    Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the only other major Democratic candidate in the race for president, is even further behind, with 7.4 percent. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is expected to announce his bid on May 30, fares the worst against Clinton, with 1.2 percent of support from likely voters.

    The first lady is highly unlikely to mount a presidential campaign, however. In fact, of the people surveyed by Rasmussen, just 14 percent thought she should run.

    Still, 40 percent of black voters welcomed the idea of her running, and she bests Clinton among those voters, with 44 percent support among African-Americans compared with 36 percent for Clinton.

    Obama herself recently joked about a possible October surprise, hinting to “Late Show” host David Letterman that the thought had crossed her mind.

      • ISIS Releases New Baghdadi Message Calling for ‘Every Muslim to Fight in His Land’

        by Bridget Johnson

        ISIS’ Al-Furqan media today released new audio of an address by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, with written translations in English, Russian, Turkish, French and German.

        The release comes as rumors of the caliph suffering a debilitating injury in a coalition airstrike have been circulating.

        In the speech, Baghdadi calls on “every Muslim in every place to perform hijrah to the Islamic State or fight in his land, wherever that may be.”

        “Do not think the war that we are waging is the Islamic State’s war alone. Rather, it is the Muslims’ war altogether. It is the war of every Muslim in every place, and the Islamic State is merely the spearhead in this war. It is but the war of the people of faith against the people of disbelief, so march forth to your war O Muslims,” he says. “March forth everywhere, for it is an obligation upon every Muslim who is accountable before Allah. And whoever stays behind or flees, Allah (the Mighty and Majestic) will be angry with him and will punish him with a painful torment.”

        Baghdadi stresses that “whoever thinks that it is within his capacity to conciliate with the Jews, Christians, and other disbelievers, and for them to conciliate with him, such that he coexists with them and they coexist with him while he is upon his religion and upon tawh?d (monotheism), then he has belied the explicit statement of his Lord.”

        “Islam,” he adds, “is the religion of war.”

        “And if the Crusaders today have begun to bother the Muslims who continue to live in the lands of the cross by monitoring them, arresting them, and questioning them, then soon they will begin to displace them and take them away either dead, imprisoned, or homeless. They will not leave anyone amongst them except one who apostatizes from his religion and follows theirs,” Baghdadi continued, adding Americans “claim to defend Islam and the Muslims” but “indeed, they lie.”

        He referred to America’s Arab allies — as President Obama meets with GCC representatives at Camp David — as “slaves, servants, and guard dogs” of the “Jews and Crusaders.” He derides rulers on the Arabian Peninsula as “people of luxury and extravagance, people of intoxication, prostitution, dances, and feasts” who “have become accustomed to the defense of the Jews and Crusaders for them and their hearts have drunk humiliation, disgrace, and subservience.”

        “This war is only against you and against your religion. Has the time not come for you to return to your religion and your jih?d and thereby bring back your glory, honor, rights, and leadership?” Baghdadi says in a broader call to Muslims. He urged Sunnis who fled their homes and sought refuge among “Kurdish atheists” to return so ISIS can give them “salvation from Hellfire.”

        “Your repentance is more beloved to us than killing you or expelling you. Repent for we do not call you out of weakness. Rather, we call you while our swords are at a distance of two bow lengths or nearer from your necks. If you repent, you will not find from us anything except good and kindness.”

        He told ISIS fighters to “be patient, because the Crusaders are bleeding to death, the R?fidah [Shiites] are faltering, and the Jews are horrified and in dread.”

        Baghdadi gave shouts out to ISIS fighters in various areas of Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, West Africa, and Yemen.

        He said that Muslims are not being called to “march forth” for the Islamic State “out of weakness or incapability” — the address was titled “March Forth Whether Light or Heavy” — but “because the battle is one between the allies of the Merciful and the allies of Satan.”

        Baghdadi, an ISIS e-book published this year claimed, is dressed like a regular mujahid in public, paranoid about carrying a cell phone or using electronic communications, and “always cautiously on the move for security reasons… hiding is comfortably possible compared to Osama bin Laden who had less security, more spies against him and less places to hide.”

        “Unlike the medieval times when a king was safe in a guarded castle, leaders today cannot have one central location. Khalifah Ibrahim is always on the move in a convoy of cars, with loyal bodyguards who he knows since the American invasion in the mid 2000s. The secret is not to have too much cars which will give the impression (to local people and even drones) that an important person is in one of the cars. But not to have too less cars either, in case of ambush.”

        Rumors were spreading in February that Baghdadi and/or other high-ranking leaders had been killed in airstrikes, but those turned out to be unsubstantiated.

  12. House sends Iran review bill to Obama

    The House on Thursday passed legislation requiring congressional review of a nuclear deal with Iran, handing a victory to critics of the talks who demanded that Congress have an oversight role.

    Passage came easily on a vote of 400-25. Only six Democrats and 19 Republicans opposed the measure.

    The carefully negotiated bill, which President Obama is expected to sign, gives Congress the power to approve or disapprove of a nuclear agreement with Iran during a 30-day period when economic sanctions could not be lifted.

    Should the House and Senate vote to disapprove of the deal, and then override a likely Obama veto, the administration would be barred from waiving some economic sanctions on Iran as part of international accord.

    The Senate passed the bill overwhelmingly last week in a 98-1 vote.

    International negotiators reached a framework agreement with Iran last month, and are working to finish a final deal by June 30. The deal is expected to lift economic sanctions in exchange for limits on Iran’s nuclear program and a new regime of international inspections.

    For months, the White House had stood firm against the effort in Congress to weigh in on the Iran deal, warning that the proposals threatened to upend the talks.

    But with Democratic support for the Iran review bill growing, the administration reversed course, accepting a compromise from Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and the panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), that omitted provisions most opposed by the White House.

    House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) argued the measure gives Congress more leverage over the Obama administration in the talks.

    “Once this legislation is signed, when Secretary Kerry sits across from the Iranians, he’ll now have on his mind, ‘I’ve got to take this to Congress.’ That prospect can only improve these negotiations. And I just hope it’s not too late and we aren’t too deep into a bad deal,” Royce said.

    House GOP leaders moved the bill to the floor under a fast-track procedure typically reserved for noncontroversial legislation. The maneuver prohibits amendments and requires a two-thirds majority for passage.

    Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus had urged votes on amendments such as requiring Iran to recognize Israel’s right to exist as part of a final deal.

    Lawmakers of both parties may have found that amendment proposal politically difficult to oppose, even if it potentially strained the ongoing negotiations with Iran.

    Some conservatives bristled at the lack of amendments to the bill, which they think doesn’t go far enough to rein in the administration.

    “It is unconscionable for Congress to grant such sweeping power to President Obama, allowing him to lift sanctions on Iran, no matter the cost to our national security, the security of Israel, and the entire world. But even worse, the House is willing to do this today without having even one hearing, one amendment, a grand total of 40 minutes of debate,” said Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.).

    Instead, GOP leadership scheduled a vote alongside the Iran bill on legislation to impose sanctions on Hezbollah. That measure passed 423-0.

    The House passed a similar Hezbollah sanctions bill last year by a vote of 404-0, but the Senate did not act on it.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) chose to move the painstakingly negotiated bill forward with only a few chances for amendment on the floor. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) tried to force a vote on an amendment requiring Iran to recognize Israel, but were denied after McConnell moved to cut off debate.

    “If we didn’t face the threats of filibusters, or the blocking of amendments, or the specter of presidential vetoes, this bill would be a heck of a lot stronger. I assure you,” McConnell said last week. “But the truth is, we do. That’s the frustrating reality.”

    The Obama administration has indicated the president will sign the bill into law as long as it wasn’t amended from the original deal struck with Corker and Cardin.

    Some liberal Democrats like Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) warned that the legislation signals to other countries that the U.S. is “operating in less than good faith.”

    “I believe Congress must have oversight. But I don’t believe we should make this deal stillborn in the crib before it’s even allowed to emerge. We don’t want to abort the deal before it’s born,” Ellison said.

  13. Albania: Construction of largest mosque in Balkans

    Turkey will be building the biggest mosque in the Balkans at a cost of 30 million Euro, which will be financed by the Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs.

    The Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs will finance the building of the Balkan’s largest mosque in the Albanian capital Tirana, authorities said.

    Mazhar Bilgin, deputy chairman of the trustee committee of Turkey’s Diyanet Foundation, told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday that the complex will be 10,000 meters square.

    The mosque will be built near the Albanian parliament’s building in Tirana.

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Albanian President Bujar Nishani, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, Turkey’s top cleric Mehmet Gormez and Albanian Muslim community leader Skender Brucaj will inaugurate the construction work of the mosque Wednesday.

    Bilgin told Anadolu Agency that the mosque will be able to accommodate 4,500 people.

    Turkish ambassador to Tirana, Hidayet Bayraktar, said the mosque is a gift from the Turkish people to their Albanian brothers. Bayraktar praised Albania’s model as a society where all religions live in peace. He also praised Albania’s progress toward becoming a European Union country.

    Albania is a Muslim-majority country with a population of around three million people. It has been a NATO member since 2009 and is a European Union candidate country.

  14. Speed Control Was Installed, Not On at Time of Amtrak Crash

    A system that could have remotely slowed the Amtrak train that crashed wasn’t enabled.

    A computer system that allows speeding trains to be slowed remotely – potentially averting deadly derailments – was installed in the section of track in Philadelphia where Tuesday’s fatal Amtrak crash occurred but had not been turned on, <congressional sources tell U.S. News.

    “The PTC was installed in the section of track where the Philadelphia accident occurred, but for whatever reason had not been turned on, the PTC in that section,” Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., tells U.S. News, referring to “positive train control.”

    His account was corroborated by Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md.

    “The tracks had PTC, the train had PTC,” Harris says.

    Both congressmen are members of the House Appropriations Committee, which contacted Amtrak for more information about the crash.

    The train, Amtrak Northeast Regional 188 from the nation’s capital to New York City, was hurtling at more than twice the recommended speed limit when it jumped the tracks just after 9 p.m. Yet the technology that could have slowed it had not been enabled – allegedly because of delays in installing the system, Harris, Dent and a third congressional source say, citing communications between the Appropriations Committee and Amtrak.

    “According to Amtrak, PTC was installed in the section of track where the Philly accident occurred,” a committee source writes in an email to U.S. News. “There have been delays in ‘turning it on’ associated with FCC dealings and getting the bandwidth to upgrade the radios from 900 MHz to something higher (for more reliability).”

    Amtrak’s application for the bandwidth needed to use the positive train control system was approved in “early March,” an FCC official says.

    “The spectrum Amtrak wanted to use in 2011 was owned by someone else,” the official says. “It took them three more years to negotiate with private parties to acquire the needed spectrum for the Washington, D.C.-to-New York corridor. Once Amtrak finalized their application, the commission approved it within two days.”

    Amtrak President Joseph Boardman said Thursday the technology was installed where the crash occurred, according to The Associated Press, but it had not been turned on because the system needed to be tested further.

    Positive train control uses radio and GPS signals as well as other technologies to detect and reduce trains’ speed. Congress demanded the technology be implemented nationwide by 2015 after a California train collision left 25 people dead and more than 100 injured in 2008.

  15. The House rebuffed a proposal Thursday to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility by the end of 2017.

    An amendment to the annual national defense authorization that would provide a framework for closing the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, failed on a vote of 174-249.

    Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee and author of the amendment, called the facility an “international eyesore.” He noted that the U.S. already has prisons that can hold dangerous convicted terrorists.

    “We have the facilities. We have the ability to hold them safely here,” Smith said.

    The legislation maintains the current ban against transferring Guantanamo Bay detainees to the U.S. It also prohibits building facilities to house detainees on American soil.

    Republicans argued that the need for a place to detain suspected terrorists would not go away even if the Guantanamo Bay prison were closed.[…]

  16. Syria conflict: IS advances on ancient ruins of Palmyra (BBC, May 14, 2015)

    “Palmyra, one of the archaeological jewels of the Middle East, is reported to be under threat from advancing Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria.

    The jihadists are within 2km (1.2 miles) of the Unesco World Heritage site, battling government forces for control of the adjacent town of Tadmur.

    Syria’s antiquities chief has warned that if IS seizes Palmyra it will destroy everything that exists there.

    The group has ransacked and demolished several ancient sites in Iraq.

    Palmyra has already suffered some damage during the four-year civil war.

    It is situated in a strategically important area on the road between the capital, Damascus and the contested eastern city of Deir al-Zour, and close to gas fields.

    On Thursday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that IS militants were mounting an assault on Tadmur, the modern town next to the ruins of Palmyra.

    The UK-based activist group’s director, Rami Abdul Rahman, told the AFP news agency that the jihadists had taken all the army posts between Tadmur and al-Sukhanah, a town to the north-east, after a lightning advance across the desert.

    Twenty-six civilians in a village outside Tadmur were summarily killed by IS – at least 10 by beheading – on Thursday after being accused of collaborating with President Bashar al-Assad’s government, Mr Abdul Rahman said.

    IS itself claimed on Twitter that it had already taken control of northern and eastern parts of Tadmur, and that it had shot down a Syrian air force MiG jet in the area.

    Homs provincial governor Talal Barazi confirmed that al-Sukhanah had fallen on Wednesday and said 1,800 families from the town were sheltering in Tadmur.

    The Syrian Observatory said more than 70 soldiers and 40 militants had been killed in the battle for al-Sukhanah, among them IS religious official Anas al-Nashwan, who appeared in a video last month showing the beheading of Ethiopian Christians in Libya.

    Rising out of the desert and flanked by an oasis, Palmyra contains the monumental ruins of a great city that was one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world, according to Unesco.

    The site, most of which dates back to the 1st to the 2nd Century when the region was under Roman rule, is dominated by a grand, colonnaded street.

    At the southern end of the 1.1km street is the great temple of Baal, considered one of the most important religious buildings of the 1st Century in the East and of unique design.

    Syria’s director of antiquities, Maamoun Abdul Karim, said he had no doubt that if Palmyra were to fall to IS, it would suffer a similar fate to the ancient sites in northern Iraq recently blown up by the group….”

  17. Indonesia army urged to stop virginity tests for recruits (BBC, May 14, 2015)

    “Human rights activists have urged Indonesia to stop requiring female military recruits to undergo so-called virginity testing.

    Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the hymen examinations were “harmful and humiliating’. Another group said they may amount to torture.

    The Indonesian military has defended the tests, saying they stop immoral women from entering the armed forces.

    Indonesia’s police faced criticism last year for requiring the examinations.

    As well as HRW, the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) also spoke out about the practice ahead of a conference on military medicine in Bali, Indonesia.

    IRCT described the testing as “a gross violation of women’s rights and one that may amount to ill-treatment and torture under international law”.

    Both organisations also claimed that the fiancees of male officers were required to be examined before the marriage could go ahead, though the armed forces told AFP that this was not the case.

    A spokesman for Indonesia’s military, Fuad Basya, told the BBC the test was “still relevant”.

    He said he understood why some non-virgins should seek to join the military, adding: “It may be because of an accident, disease or because of a habit” – meaning sexual intercourse.

    “If it is their habit, the Indonesian military cannot accept potential recruits like these,” Mr Basya said.

    The World Health Organization regards virginity tests as a form of sexual violence. It also says the practice has no scientific validity….”

  18. OMAN – The Al Abiyadh Camel Racing Festival is one of the biggest and most popular annual events across the Sultanate –

  19. Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi testimony being held up by State Dept.: Trey Gowdy

    The State Department has failed to comply with requests for information about Benghazi, likely delaying the highly anticipated testimony from former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi said.

    Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican, says the committee needs to have complete records in order to be able to form substantive questions for Mrs. Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on a U.S. compound that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

    “I have no interest in prolonging the time before she appears before the committee, but I do have an interest in assuring the committee has access to all the facts,” Mr. Gowdy said.

    Mr. Gowdy wrote in a letter to Secretary of State John F. Kerry, dated May 14, that he has said he would schedule Mrs. Clinton’s appearance no later than 30 days after receiving a record “sufficient to constructively ask questions of Secretary Clinton.”

    Mr. Gowdy had wanted Mrs. Clinton to testify twice before his committee — once about her exclusive use of a private email system while serving as the nation’s top diplomat and once about the attack itself.

    But Mrs. Clinton’s lawyer said she would appear once, in public, as early as the week of May 18 — a time frame Mr. Gowdy had suggested for the first of her appearances.

    “The only thing standing between the committee and the former secretary being able to discuss her tenure as secretary of state as it relates to Libya and Benghazi is the Department of State’s failure, in more than half a year, to produce a single, solitary email responsive to our request and subpoena,” Mr. Gowdy wrote to Mr. Kerry.

    “There is still the possibility of scheduling the former secretary’s appearance soon, but that is contingent upon Department of State compliance,” Mr. Gowdy wrote.

    Democrats on the committee have said the panel is turning into little more than a vehicle with which to attack Mrs. Clinton, the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, while Mr. Gowdy has rejected such claims, pledging to conduct a fair and thorough investigation.

    In response to the letter, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat and the committee’s ranking member, said Republicans are on a “fishing expedition” for anything they can use against Mrs. Clinton in her presidential campaign.

    “The committee has had Secretary Clinton’s emails for months,” Mr. Cummings said in a statement. “This new claim that the department has not produced a single responsive document is completely baseless and appears to be yet another excuse to drag out Secretary Clinton’s testimony until closer to the election.”

    Politico: Trey Gowdy ‘likely’ to reject Clinton’s one-time Benghazi Committee appearance; Update: Clinton testimony delayed
    on this page :

    • Gowdy: State Dept. hasn’t turned over ‘ONE DOCUMENT’ since Benghazi panel request SIX MONTHS AGO!

      The panel investigating the terrorist attacks on Benghazi has yet to receive emails and records from the State Department six months after requesting them, and won’t schedule a hearing with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton until they get them.

      Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who chairs the Select Committee on Benghazi, sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry expressing frustration that “not a single document,” has been produced by the department despite a request by the Benghazi committee in November and a subpoena issued by the panel in March.

      Gowdy is seeking the information from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is now running for the Democratic presidential nomination. He also wants ‘documents and communications,” related to Benghazi from 10 former senior State Department officials.

      Gowdy said the committee needs the information before it can question Clinton at a pubic hearing about her role.

      Gowdy said he will schedule the hearing for Clinton only “after receiving a record sufficient to constructively ask questions.”


      Trey Gowdy Says the State Dept. Hasn’t Produced a ‘Single Document’ on Latest Benghazi Requests

      ” In fact, not a single document has been produced by the State Department pursuant to these requests, despite the committee’s successive efforts, at the State Department’s insistence, to narrow its request,” he wrote.

      Gowdy said the lack of response from State has made it impossible to schedule a much-anticipated hearing with Clinton. Gowdy has said he doesn’t want to schedule that hearing yet until he has as much information as possible from State.

      “Simply put, the committee must have the records of communication requested more than six months ago before the secretary’s appearance can be scheduled,” he wrote.

      In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Gowdy noted that his committee asked for information in a November letter and a March subpoena, which sought information from 10 former officials. But he said State hasn’t provided anything yet.
      more on the page :

        • yes… it seems that he got an AVC and that it is serious

          some sites say he is dead but some others denied the information saying it is part of a psychological war to counter-balance the successes of the Hezbollah in Lebanon
          the only thing in English I found is this :

          A source in the militant group Hezbollah denied on Wednesday recent media claims of the death of its leader, Hassan Nasrallah.

          Earlier in the day, social networks and local media spread the news that Nasrallah had died after being taken to hospital with a cerebral hemorrhage.

          “This is not true. Such rumors are 100 per cent false,” the source in Hezbollah told RIA Novosti, adding that the rumors are a part of the psychological war that had been waged after Hezbollah’s achievement in the Qalamoun region.

          In a comment to Sputnik, a source in the hospital refused to speculate on the situation saying only that “nothing unusual happened in the hospital.”

          On Tuesday, Hezbollah fighters along with the Syrian government forces took control of two strategic hills in the Qalamoun region on the Syria-Lebanon border.

          Since early May, Syrian opposition and country’s government forces supported by Hezbollah have been fighting for Qalamoun.

          Hezbollah is a Lebanese Shiite political party and militant group established in the 1980s to fight Israel’s occupation of Lebanon. The group is considered a terrorist organization by Israel and certain Western countries.

          • just found another one :

            Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, head of the Lebanon-based terror organization, has recently suffered a heart attack, Arab sources are reporting.

            Various rumors regarding the terror leader’s health condition have appeared on various sites throughout the Persian Gulf, Israel’s Globes reports.

            The reports indicate that Nasrallah was hospitalized a few days ago in southern Beirut following complications which resemble a stroke or heart attack, Israel’s Yediot Aharonoth reported.

            One source, which credibility has not been properly established, quoted Lebanese sources that say he has been hospitalized and is under observation, and that he did not look well during his last speech and was forced to pause for sips of juice during the event.

            The Hezbollah commander is scheduled to speak on May 24th, as he does annually, to mark Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. The event’s cancellation or downscaling would provide an indication to his medical status and would corroborate or refute the rumors.

            Hezbollah has been participating in the civil war in Syria, fighting alongside President Basher Assad’s armies. The terrorists have recently launched a massive campaign against Sunni rebels in the Qalamoun Mountains on the Lebanese border with Syria. Reports indicate that bitter battles are being waged in the region, and the Hezbollah has incurred heavy losses.


            • Sputnik is Russki garbage, but we’ll see.

              It seemed odd when he said recently something to the effect of, ‘if Assad falls, Hezbollah is also done for.’

              Uncharacteristic comment. And there were many reports of him looking unwell recntly.

              Who knows? By May 24 they’ll prop him up or find a ringer.

  20. Investigators look at why train sped up before derailment

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) — In the moment the Amtrak train that derailed at a curve this week was supposed to be slowing down, it was accelerating, investigators said Thursday.

    How that came to happen has emerged as the central question surrounding the derailment, which killed eight people and sent more than 200 to hospitals Tuesday night in the nation’s deadliest train wreck in nearly six years.

    In the minute or so before the crash, the train sped up from 70 mph until it reached more than 100 mph at a sharp bend where the maximum speed is supposed to be 50 mph, National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt said. It’s unclear, Sumwalt said, whether the speed was increased manually by engineer Brandon Bostian, who grew up obsessed with trains.

    Investigators have found no problems with the track, signals or locomotive. Sumwalt said the train, on a route from Washington to New York City, was on time as it left the station in Philadelphia a few minutes before the crash.

    Investigators want to know why the train was going so fast. But Bostian refused to talk to police on Wednesday, authorities said. On Thursday, Sumwalt said Bostian had agreed to be interviewed by the NTSB and the meeting will take place in the next few days.[…]–finance.html

  21. REBEL MEDIA – Social Justice Warrior Professor offers terrorist Omar Khadr a seat in his class

    The CBC posted a story about a social justice warrior professor at McMaster University offering convicted terrorist Omar Khadr a seat in his class.

    Of course, the offer isn’t real. Khadr isn’t allowed to leave Alberta, but he can go to BC with his lawyer.

    The prof actually thinks that by having Khadr in his class would promote peace. He offered no condolences to the victims of the convicted terrorist. But that’s typical isn’t it?

    Not only that, but the CBC article said Khadr “renounced violent extremism.”

    No he hasn’t. He said the jihad is something “it’s not something he believes in right now.”

    Is there any professor in Canada who would offer free school to the victims of Omar Khadr?

  22. Greek Parliament Allows Athens Mosque

    ATHENS – Amid series of debates on Muslims’ right to have a mosque in Athens, the Greek Parliament has finally passed an amendment allowing the construction of a mosque in Athens, overcoming opposition from far-right parties.

    The Greek parliament gathered last Tuesday to vote on the legal amendment proposed by the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), TRT World reported on Wednesday, May 13.

    The long-awaited approval passed despite the junior coalition partner Independent Greeks (ANEL)’s opposition.

    Opposition the mosque construction, Defence Minister Panos Kammenos’ far-right ANEL party voted against the amendment in a parliamentary meeting.

    The disagreement marks the first rift to occur in the coalition between SYRIZA and ANEL since the two parties united to form the country’s new government after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was elected in January.

    However, the amendment passed parliament with the support of opposition parties, the New Democracy and the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK).

    ANEL and neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn have consistently opposed the building of the mosque in the Athens district of Votanikos, with ANEL lawmaker Stavroula Xoulidou calling the project “unacceptable and provocative.”

    The mosque is planned to be constructed in Votanikos area in Athens.
    Greece’s parliament approves construction of first official mosque in Athens

    Greece’s parliament on Wednesday approved the construction of first official mosque in Athens, to satisfy a long-standing demand by thousands of Muslim residents.

    The project to build the Greek capital’s first official Muslim place of worship in decades was supported by 198 deputies from the centre, right and left (out of 300) against the objections of 16 nationalist MPs, according to Al Arabiya News, the English-language service of the Al Arabiya News Channel.

    Thousands of Muslims from Arab nations, Africa and the Indian subcontinent live and work in Athens without either official prayer sites or a cemetery, despite years of promises by successive Greek governments.

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