Reader’s links for Oct. 9 – 2015

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Thank you all for those that take the effort to assist this site in keeping the public informed. Below, typically people can find the latest enemy propaganda, news items of related materials from multiple countries and languages, op-eds from many excellent sites who write on our topics, geopolitics and immigration issues and so on.

About Eeyore

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

72 Replies to “Reader’s links for Oct. 9 – 2015”

  1. Italy paying ransoms in Syria and Somalia

    Al Jazeera‘s Investigative Unit finds Italian government paying millions in ransoms to groups in Syria and Somalia

    A six-month investigation by Al Jazeera‘s Investigative Unit has cast light on the shadowy world of hostage negotiations, revealing how some governments negotiate with armed groups and pay cash ransoms.

    In one case, Italy paid millions of dollars for the release of one Italian and one Belgian journalist, according to Syrian fighters. In another, Al Jazeera obtained photographs of an $11m cash ransom paid by Italy to the armed Syrian group, al-Nusra Front, in return for the release of two aid workers.

    Intelligence files obtained by Al Jazeera also reveal how Italy intervened in negotiations with Somali pirates and brokered a deal to pay $525,000 for the release of a dual Italian-South African citizen and his partner. The Italian and South African governments then fed the media a false story, claiming that a daring raid by the Western-backed Somali military had secured the hostages’ release.

    • NYT – Obama Administration Ends Pentagon Program to Train Syrian Rebels

      LONDON — The Obama administration has ended the Pentagon’s $500 million program to train and equip Syrian rebels, administration officials said on Friday, in an acknowledgment that the beleaguered program had failed to produce any kind of ground combat forces capable of taking on the Islamic State in Syria.

      Pentagon officials announced the end of the program on Friday, as Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter left London after meetings with his British counterpart, Michael Fallon, about the continuing wars in Syria and Iraq.

      “Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is now directing the Department of Defense to provide equipment packages and weapons to a select group of vetted leaders and their units so that over time they can make a concerted push into territory still controlled by ISIL,” a Pentagon statement said, using another acronym for the Islamic State. “We will monitor the progress these groups make and provide them with air support as they take the fight to ISIL.”

      A senior defense official said that the remaining training “will be much more minimal” than the ambitious program that was launched by the Pentagon and that the training would concentrate only on the “vetting of key leaders of groups we’ve identified in Syria who are fighting ISIL.”

      The new program, the official said, will begin in the next few days.

      Officials said the equipment, which will be supplied to leaders of Syrian opposition groups, would include weapons, ammunition and communication equipment.

      “I wasn’t happy with the early efforts” of the program, Mr. Carter said during a news conference with Mr. Fallon. “So we have devised a number of different approaches.” Mr. Carter added, “I think you’ll be hearing from President Obama very shortly” on the program.

      But after the news conference, a senior defense official said that Mr. Carter had misspoken and that Mr. Obama would not be speaking. The White House is expected to make a statement.

      The shift in strategy comes amid a huge deployment of force by Russia in support of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, who has clung to power since the civil war began in 2011. Russian warplanes have conducted scores of airstrikes, and Moscow has fired a barrage of cruise missiles at targets in Syria.

      Mr. Assad and his allies, Russia and Iran, say he is a bulwark against the Islamic State. The United States insists that Mr. Assad must go, though possibly as part of a negotiated transition.

      For years, the Americans have found it difficult to identify groups in Syria that they can confidently support.

      A senior Defense Department official, who was not authorized to speak publicly and who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that there would no longer be any more recruiting of so-called moderate Syrian rebels to go through training programs in Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates. Instead, a much smaller training center would be set up in Turkey, where a small group of “enablers” — mostly leaders of opposition groups — would be taught operational maneuvers like how to call in airstrikes.

      While many details of the new approach still need to be worked out, President Obama endorsed the shift in strategy at two high-level meetings with his national security and foreign policy advisers last week, several American officials said.

      The change makes official what those in the Pentagon and elsewhere in the administration have been saying for several weeks would most likely happen, particularly in the wake of revelations that the program at one point last month had only “four or five” trainees in the fight in Syria — a far cry from the plan formally started in December to prepare as many as 5,400 fighters this year, and 15,000 over the next three years.

      Already, the Pentagon has announced it was “pausing” the transfer of trainee candidates in Syria to training sites in Jordan and Turkey. Several dozen opposition fighters already at the training sites are likely to complete their instruction — learning to help call in allied airstrikes and operating 122-millimeter mortars — and they will be placed in opposition groups in Syria to enhance their combat effectiveness, officials said.

      “Training thousands of infantry was not the right model, I think that’s become pretty clear,” said another senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning.

      The official said the training was “to be suspended, with the option to restart if conditions dictate, opportunities arise.” The official also said that support to Sunni Arab fighters in eastern Syria was an example of focusing on groups already fighting the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, “rather than using training to try to manufacture new brigades.”

      The shift in strategy comes as critics in Congress have increasingly demanded that the administration make changes or face the elimination of the program.

      In a letter to the State Department, the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency last week, four senators — three Democrats and a Republican — criticized the program. “The Syria Train and Equip Program goes beyond simply being an inefficient use of taxpayer dollars,” the senators wrote. “As many of us initially warned, it is now aiding the very forces we aim to defeat.”

      The senators — Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut; Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia; Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico; and Mike Lee, Republican of Utah — were referring to the latest debacle of the program.

      Some of the American-trained Syrian fighters gave at least a quarter of their United States-provided equipment to the Qaeda affiliate in Syria, the Nusra Front, the United States Central Command acknowledged in late September.

      In a statement correcting earlier assertions that reports of the turnover were a “lie” and a militant propaganda ploy, the Central Command said it had subsequently been notified that the Syrian rebels had “surrendered” some of its equipment — including six pickup trucks and a portion of their its ammunition — to the Nusra Front.

      More broadly, the program has suffered from a shortage of recruits willing to fight the Islamic State instead of the army of Mr. Assad, a problem Mr. Obama mentioned at a news conference last Friday.

      The administration was expected to provide classified briefings to lawmakers and their senior aides on Capitol Hill on Friday to explain the impending changes to the train and equip program.

      “The opposition and their regional backers wanted the program, they just couldn’t accept ISIS as the priority and U.S. ambiguity on taking out Assad,” said Andrew J. Tabler, an expert on Syria at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Like in the Iraq war, you can’t expect people to fight on your behalf unless you give them what they want. We got the politics wrong yet again.”

      The shift in strategy comes as Mr. Obama has approved two important steps to set in motion an offensive against the Islamic State in northeastern Syria in the coming weeks.

      Mr. Obama ordered the Pentagon, for the first time, to directly provide ammunition and perhaps some weapons to Syrian opposition forces on the ground. He also endorsed an idea for an increased air campaign from an air base in Turkey, although important details of that plan still need to be worked out.

      Together, these measures are intended to empower 3,000 to 5,000 Arab fighters who would join more than 20,000 Kurdish combatants in an offensive backed by dozens of coalition warplanes to pressure the Islamic State in Raqqa, the militant group’s main stronghold in Syria.

      The Arab wing of this ground force is called the Syrian Arab Coalition, a conglomeration of 10 to 15 groups, American officials said.

      American military officials have screened the leaders of the Arab groups to ensure that they meet standards set by Congress when it approved $500 million last year for the Defense Department to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels.

      Under the shift in strategy that emerged on Friday, the administration would now focus more of its efforts on equipping these Arab fighters and inserting some of the trained Syrian rebels within their ranks.

  2. QATAR – Putin’s Syrian bombing ‘will spark jihad against Moscow’

    Russia is creating “a Frankenstein’s monster” in its bombing campaign in Syria which will create a “jihad” against Moscow, a senior Qatari source said yesterday.

    ¨[…]Qatar feels that the Russian strategy was to keep Assad in power but as to why they put troops on the ground at this stage in the war, the senior source suggested Moscow had acted out of “jealousy” of Iran, emboldened by its nuclear deal with the P5 plus 1 countries.

    “If Russia shared the same goals as Iran, they would not have needed to put their own troops on the ground in Syria. They would have simply provided the air cover for Iranian troops and Hezbollah. But Russia insisted on going in on the ground, and that is what convinces us there is rivalry there.”

    Pressed about whether Qatar would supply surface-to-air missiles to the rebel Syrian forces it supports, the source said he did not have access to the sophisticated systems needed to protect ground forces from Russian jets. Only the US could do that.

    “The US has to take the driving seat,” he said.

    Qatar thinks the US-led alliance does not have a proper strategy and that attempts by the US to train a force loyal to it ended in fiasco, when the newly trained recruits handed their weapons over to Nusra Front, the group affiliated to al-Qaeda, “They were training the wrong people. We told them we can take care of Daesh. You take care of Bashar.”

    However, he claimed that the US had started covert talks with Jaish al-Fatah, the Army of Conquest, which is an umbrella group for Ahrar al-Sham, the Free People of the Levant and other forces.

    The diplomatic melee caused by the start of the Russian campaign is set to continue in the UN Security Council, where the Russians tabled a motion on Wednesday that would give it free rein to hit any target in Syria. The French are due to table a counter motion.

    […]He said that if Russia continued on its present course, it will be begging Qatar in 10 years time to negotiate a ceasefire with the “Syrian Taliban”.

    “No Syrian, no Sunni will accept seeing Iranian or Russian troops in their country,” he said.

  3. Pentagon Ending Program to Train, Equip Syria Rebels (nbcnews, Oct 9, 2015)

    “LONDON — The Pentagon on Friday will announce the official end of its failed $500 million program to “train and equip” Syrian rebels and replace it with a far less ambitious plan, defense officials said.

    The “training” part of the program — which managed to field only “four or five” Syrian rebels into the battle against ISIS at a cost of about $50 million — will be halted, according to senior defense officials.

    Instead of combat training for the rebels, they will now be used as “enablers” to identify ISIS targets on the ground for U.S. and coalition airstrikes. They will also be advised on how to interact with U.S. military “at a distance,” and there will be no American forces on the ground in Syria

    The “equip” part of the program, which provided small arms, ammunition and vehicles, will be dramatically reduced to providing weapons to some 5,000 friendly moderate Syrian rebels to carry on the fight against both ISIS and presumably, the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

    The remaining $450 million will be spent on this scaled back plan…”

  4. Migrant arrivals in Greece ‘surge’ to 7,000 daily – IOM (BBC, Oct 9, 2015)

    “The number of migrants arriving on the Greek islands near Turkey has surged to about 7,000 a day in the past week, migration experts working there say.

    The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said the average in late September was 4,500 a day.
    Fears of worsening weather may account for the surge, the IOM says.

    The EU’s migrant relocation scheme got under way on Friday when 20 Eritreans left Italy on a flight to Sweden. Some EU member states object to the scheme.

    Meanwhile, Turkey has voiced concern about the potential for even more Syrian migrants arriving at its border because of Russian air strikes in Syria.

    The warning was issued by Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic. Turkey already hosts about two million Syrian refugees, many of whom are desperate to leave the emergency camps and start a new life in Europe…”

  5. Iran Revolutionary Guards commander ‘killed in Syria’ (BBC. Oct 9, 2015)

    “A senior commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards was killed in Syria on Thursday, Iran has said.

    In a statement Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said Gen Hussein Hamedani was killed during an advisory mission near Aleppo.

    It said he was advising the Syrian army in their battle against Islamic State (IS) militants.

    Iran has blamed IS for the general’s death, but the exact circumstances remain unclear.

    In 2009 Gen Hamedani was subject to European Union sanctions for his role in suppressing protests following the disputed Iranian presidential election.

    The general is the latest of a number of Iranian commanders to be killed in Syria.

    Iran has been providing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s army with military advice in its fight against rebels since the civil war broke out in 2011.”

  6. India woman’s arm ‘cut off by employer’ in Saudi Arabia (BBC, Oct 9, 2015)

    “India’s foreign ministry has complained to the Saudi Arabian authorities following an alleged “brutal” attack on a 58-year-old Indian woman in Riyadh. Kasturi Munirathinam’s right arm was chopped off, allegedly by her employer, when she tried to escape from their house last week, reports say.

    Ms Munirathinam was working as a domestic help. She is recovering in hospital. Her family has alleged that she was being tortured by her Saudi employers. Saudi authorities have not commented on the incident yet…”

  7. Afghan Official: Taliban Attack Troops, 3 Civilians Killed (abcnews, Oct 9, 2015)

    “An Afghan official says three civilians were killed and four wounded after they were caught in the crossfire of a Taliban attack on troops south of the capital.

    Halim Fidai, governor of Logar province, said Afghan troops were ambushed Friday while conducting a military operation near a mosque in the Baraki Barak district.

    He says local people who had gathered at the mosque to cook a charity meal were caught in the crossfire, adding that it is not clear which side shot the civilians.

    He says the wounded have been taken to Kabul for treatment.

    Taliban insurgents have been active across much of Afghanistan this year, testing the capacity of government forces fighting alone since the conclusion of the international combat mission at the end of last year.”

  8. The Latest: Sweden Expects 150,000 Asylum-Seekers This Year (abcnews, Oct 9, 2015)

    “… Sweden’s prime minister says preliminary estimates indicate more than 150,000 asylum seekers will arrive in the country this year.

    Stefan Lofven said Friday nearly 9,000 people have sought asylum in Sweden in the past seven days alone and the country is preparing for a crisis situation.

    The government has ordered the Swedish Migration Agency to set up tents to provide temporary accommodation and has tasked local authorities with drawing up an inventory of all premises in the country that can be used as shelters.

    He cautioned that it will take longer for authorities to process asylum applications.

    Lofven said the government will inform about the cost of housing the arrivals after the migration agency delivers a more precise estimate of the number of arrivals, in a couple of weeks….”

  9. Russian Aggression Complicates Obama’s Options in Syria (nbcnews, Oct 9, 2015)

    “Even before Russia began intervening in Syria’s civil war, President Obama was under increasing pressure to change his approach to the conflict.

    Now things have become more urgent.

    Russia on Wednesday added cruise missiles to its growing military campaign in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — the man Obama says needs to leave office before there can be peace.

    Russia has said its aim is to target ISIS, but its bombs have also hit other rebel groups fighting Assad, some of whom are backed by Washington.

    That escalation has prompted calls for Obama, who thus far has been reluctant to get more involved in the civil war beyond efforts to counter ISIS, move quickly to outmaneuver Russian President Vladimir Putin — or at least try to defrost their diplomatic relationship.

    “Putin acts in this way in part because he thinks circumstances allow it,” Stephen Sestanovich, a Russia analyst with the Council on Foreign Relations, told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday. He blamed the United States for encouraging Putin through “several years of policy confusion” and called on the Obama administration to limit Russia’s intervention.

    “Putin is counting on the U.S. fear of escalation and fear of confrontation to stop any thought of retaliation,” Retired Gen. John M. Keane added. “Aggression unanswered, historically, had led to more aggression.” He advocated strengthening the current U.S. policy of airstrikes and trying to force Assad from power, but with the understanding that Russia would now play a key role.

    Obama administration officials have said they believe Putin is making a big mistake, and have refused to cooperate militarily with Russia. But in the short term, officials acknowledge Russia’s new Syria strategy is having the desired effect: establishing itself as a player that cannot be ignored, and propping up Assad, whom Putin says needs to be in power if ISIS is to be defeated.

    That is why pressure is building on Obama to do tweak his strategy.

    Nina Khrushcheva, dean of the New School’s Milano School of International Affairs, recommends a mix of muscle and diplomacy.

    First, she said, Obama needs to demand a no-fly zone over northern Syria where Russian jets are operating.

    Then, Obama should set aside his apparent disdain of Putin and accept the Russian president as a partner in the crisis.

    The way to do that is to emphasize the their countries’ shared goals — namely, beating back ISIS and preventing a repeat of what happened in Libya, where a dictatorial regime fell but the country devolved into chaos.

    “They need to talk to (Putin), forge common interests,” Khrushcheva said.

    Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, said she sees potential hope in the messages Obama and Putin delivered to the United Nations General Assembly last month.

    Obama seemed willing to talk to Russia about avoiding conflicts in the air over Syria, and Putin seemed open to seeing someone other than Assad run Syria, Bennis said.

    “They’re in bed together. They should be able to figure out how to talk to each other without giving up too much of the political positioning back home,” she said.

    Bennis would like to see Obama abandon his military strategy and focus on pushing cease-fires and investing in humanitarian efforts. She realizes that’s unrealistic. But something has to change, she said.

    “Nothing as worked,” Bennis said. “What does it take to see that we should do something different?””

  10. Russia’s Cruise Missiles Raise the Stakes in the Caspian

    The 3M-14T Kalibr NK land-attack cruise missile, with a maximum range of 2,500 km., offers extensive explosive power with great accuracy. The 3M-14T spends most of its flight path at subsonic speeds 15 meters above the surface, and makes a supersonic dash to the target in its final phase. Russian Defense Ministry sources claimed that targets were struck with an accuracy of 3 to 5 meters.

    Wednesday’s strikes are also a wakeup call for Iran, showing that Russia now has proven long-range land-attack systems that can reach anywhere in Iran or the Persian Gulf.

    • Some are reporting that Assad called Putin with urgency because he’s really scared of Iran. Russia must be seen as the most reliable protector of longstanding allies on the planet.

      • Assad is an Aliwate (?) the Shiite and Sunni think that he isn’t really Islamic, but Iran is wiling to tolerate him since he is a semi Shiite port in a Sunni storm. He knows that if Iran takes over the Middle East he is toast so he is calling in Russia in the hopes they will protect him.

        • Russia will be an exemplary big brother to Mr. Assad. Putin’s got everybody’s attention.

          The very elderly, wise gentleman I’ve quoted to you before puts it so well, he’s worth quoting in full.

          “Whether or not Russia is an ally of Iran and Syria is irrelevant regarding Israel’s outstanding need to have friendly relations with that superpower. Because as long as Russian aircraft can blow Israel’s aircraft out of the skies over Golan and other parts of Syria, and is sending a large Russian army into Syria to fight Assad’s enemies, they call the shots.”

          In response a deluge of outraged replies – ‘it’s the Russian in you’; ‘Putin’s a KGB-FSB killer’; ‘ISIS-as-fig leaf’; ‘friend of our enemy’:

          “You could correctly characterize me as the most cold-blooded Jew you ever encountered. I wore out my passions a long time ago. So, despite that the Russian Empire is the ancestral homeland of my family, I do not regard that country as “Mother Russia”. But I have high admiration for Rodina and the tough-minded systems of governance that have saved Russia from all the invasions it has undergone from the east, the west, and the south.

          “No sovereign state has permanent friends or permanent enemies. And the fact that Russia has close ties to certain of Israel’s enemy states and large organized gangs is a fact of life that need not interfere with Israel developing close ties to Putin’s government, the Russian nation, that country’s industries, and the leadership cadres of their armed forces.

          “You do not agree with me on this issue, but if you think about it with passionless and cold-blooded analysis, you will find that the Jewish state and the Jewish nation have no real friends anywhere.

          “A possible exception to that status might well be the Evangelical Bible-oriented Christians of the English-speaking world, who constantly bring to our attention their love of us. However, we both are aware that their interest in us largely centers on convincing us that the savior should be ours as well.”

  11. Iran’s Post-Deal Economic Stagnation Challenges Rouhani

    International and U.S. sanctions on Iran remain little changed until “Implementation Day,” which is not until mid-2016, given its dependence on Iran completing a variety of not-necessarily-easy tasks.

    Meanwhile, the oil price drop may well cost Iran more income than it will earn from sanctions relief.

    The Tehran Stock Exchange index has fallen to 61,209 as of Oct. 6; it was 69,433 on July 14, the date the comprehensive nuclear deal was reached.

  12. Women in the ‘Islamic State’/ ‘Till martyrdom do us part’

    In Islamic State propaganda, life for women in the caliphate is filled with love, children and the joys of domestic life.

    But the reality is often far more harsh for women who have moved there from the Arab world, Europe or the U.S., according to specialists who monitor Islamic State social media.

    Those women, drawn by romantic notions of supporting revolutionaries and living in a state that exalts their religion, can quickly find themselves part of an institutionalized, near-assembly-line system to provide fighters with wives, sex and children.

    And when their husbands are killed, they are expected to celebrate their “martyrdom” and then quickly marry other fighters.

    According to interviews with women whose cities and towns have been overtaken by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the militants would use any pretext to detain women:

    “They use the women prisoners for wives for the foreign fighters. If you go to prison, you are given away to God-only-knows who.”

    One woman described what happened to a neighbor’s daughter, who had been jailed because her husband was a soldier in the Syrian army. “They told her, ‘Either you marry a fighter, or we will cut off your head and hang it in the square.’ So she married the fighter.”

  13. Huffpoo, but this is by Jonathan Schanzer:
    Can Obama Counter Hezbollah After The Nuclear Deal?

    Hizbullah now has 100,000 rockets – mostly supplied by Iran and many of them with advanced capabilities – pointing at Israel. Hassan Nasrallah, the group’s leader, is likely feeling more confident now that sanctions relief granted to Iran through July’s nuclear deal is almost certainly going to trickle down to Hizbullah, enabling arms purchases that will make the group that much more formidable.

    In recent weeks, the White House has handed down financial sanctions against a number of Hizbullah targets. But these designations will do little to constrain Hizbullah’s financial flows. At best, they are name and shame operations. It’s not as if the Lebanese terror group was about to open bank accounts in Manhattan.

    • A better question is does he want to? Given the way he has stabbed Israel in the back before I doubt he is serious about doing anything against Hezbollah.

      • Right, that’s not part of his agenda. Nor is it desirable.

        What’s imperative is that he not interfere in Israel’s operations against Hezbollah as they become necessary. That includes provision of certain advanced weaponry from Iran.

        He’ll be watching in real-time, but he’s hardly honor-bound to pass the heads-up to Iran.

  14. 0 sure hopes so:
    Risky Business: Russian Syria Bombing Jeopardizes Ties With Sunni World

    Moscow could lose significant influence in the Middle East as nations there react angrily to its bombing of Syrian opposition targets. Russia has enraged Turkey by launching air strikes against Islamist groups in Syria that Ankara supports. This is delaying a massive new Russian gas pipeline project with Turkey. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and many other states have repeatedly called on Moscow to halt its bombing campaign.

    “It is almost completely unanimous that the Arab governments are against the [Russian] bombing campaign,” said Paul du Quenoy, a professor of history at the American University of Beirut. “Most of the Russian targets, including the [secular] Free Syrian Army and most of the Islamist opposition groups, are Sunni Muslims and most of the Arab states have majority Sunni populations.”

    One Arab capital, Cairo, has spared Moscow from criticism. “We believe that the [Russian intervention] will have an impact on the fight against terrorism in Syria and help eliminate it,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said on Oct. 4. Boris Zilberman, an analyst at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, says Cairo appears to consider cooperating with Russia more important than forcing out Assad, after deals that Russia recently signed with Egypt on economic cooperation, arms, and a potential agreement on civil nuclear energy.

    • Putin has chosen to piss off the Sunni by his support for Assad and Iran, but he is probably thinking that if he is successful the Sunni will stop attacking Russia because of fear of what he will do in retaliation. Read how Orde Wingate used the Hagganah or the Mossad I can’t remember which to protect an oil pipeline in the Holy Land before WWII. Wingate was a brilliant soldier but very brutal to his enemies.

  15. UK LONDON – BREITBART – EXCLUSIVE: Hundreds of Muslims Pray In Parliament Square, London

    LONDON, United Kingdom – Hundreds of Muslims flocked to Parliament Square today under the guise of acting against climate change. The demonstration saw a speech by an Imam, about how Muslims have a duty to try to “make Britain a better place”.

    Breitbart London was on the scene to witness Friday afternoon prayers in what was a clearly male-female segregated meeting in a public space.

    One woman told Breitbart London how she was told by one of the male attendees that despite being a Christian that she was in fact a Muslim, but “hadn’t realised it yet”. He said “we are all born Muslims” and repeatedly referred to her as “sister”.

    Observers also noticed that while many Muslims were organised against climate change, there was no talk of opposing ISIS.

    Muslim Climate Action describes itself as “a group of UK Muslim organisations concerned about climate change.”

    more + pics + links on the page :

  16. One way ticket: Germany repatriates Balkans migrants – ( 8 min 30 )

    While Germany has declared itself open to refugees from wars in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere it has become a lot less welcoming to economic migrants from within Europe. Berlin has decided that Balkans countries are to be considred ‘safe’, and that anyone arriving in Germany from the region cannot claim asylum. “It has already begun deporting thousands of people back to Albania”

  17. TURKEY Gov’t cracks down on four critical Turkish journalists for defamation

    On Friday an arrest warrant was issued for Today’s Zaman Editor-in-Chief Bülent Kenes, prison sentences of up to 12 months given to Sözcü columnists Ugur Dündar and Necati Dogru, while an indictment seeking up to 4 years was prepared for webportal OdaTV Editor-in-Chief Baris Pehlivan.

    An Istanbul court issued a warrant for capture of Today’s Zaman Editor-in-Chief Bülent Kenes on charges of allegedly insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a series of tweets that the journalist said expressed critical opinion.

    The warrant was issued after the prosecutor in the case objected to the ruling of the court on Thursday that rejected his request to arrest Kenes. Although the court ruled out arrest, it decided to place Kenes under judicial supervision and banned him from traveling abroad.

    In his statement to the prosecutor on Thursday, Kenes denied that he insulted Erdogan in the tweets in question, adding that he exercised his right to free speech to express a critical opinion.

    Kenes is among hundreds who have been charged with insulting Erdogan since his election as president in August of last year. Journalists and public figures in particular have been targeted, deepening concerns over the deteriorating state of the freedom of the media in Turkey.

    […]Scores of people, including journalists, students, activists and even a former Miss Turkey, have been prosecuted for insulting Erdogan. Hundreds of such cases stem from a law forbidding defamation of the president, though many others fall under the lesser charge of “insulting a public official.” The “insult laws” have granted Erdogan legal recourse against opponents both during his time as Prime Minister, and since becoming President in 2014.

  18. ¸strong>Qatar royal gets jail for assaulting underage girls

    PRAGUE: A Prague court has convicted a Qatari royal family member of sexually abusing minors and sentenced him to 11 months and eight days in prison.

    Hamad bin Abdallah bin Thani Al Thani was convicted in 2005 of sexually abusing underage girls in the Czech Republic and sentenced to 30 months in prison.

    He was extradited to Qatar before an appeals court cancelled the ruling. Qatar assured Czechs he would be prosecuted there. Czech authorities reopened the trial in 2009 after Qatar failed to prosecute him and issued an international arrest warrant for him in 2011. The verdict was issued in absentia, but Al Thani agreed with the trial.

    Thursday’s sentence covers the time he spent in Czech detention and if the state prosecutor doesn’t appeal, the case is over.

  19. NETHERLANDS – Eight fined for discriminatory Facebook comments on PVV website

    Eight people who left discriminatory and inflammatory statements on a Facebook page set up to support the anti-Islam PVV have been fined between €350 and €450.

    The public prosecution department said if they do not pay, they will have to appear in court. The department began a criminal investigation into statements left on the site in January.

    The comments were made after the page published an article from the Telegraaf newspaper about the firebombing of mosques in Sweden. A number of Moroccan organisations made formal complaints against the page for threatening behaviour and incitement to discrimination and hatred.

    A ninth person was not fined. He lost his job after his employer discovered his involvement in the site and has been punished enough, the public prosecution department said.

    The page Steun de PVV (support the PVV) has some 26,000 ‘friends’. In a reaction to the fines, the page organiser stated: ‘The eight comments were of course unacceptable but we will not let ourselves be silenced any more.’

  20. Islamic State closes in on city of Aleppo in Syrian fighting (reuters, Oct 9, 2015)

    “Islamic State fighters have seized villages close to the northern city of Aleppo from rival insurgents, a monitoring group said on Friday, despite an intensifying Russian air-and-sea campaign that Moscow says has targeted the militant group.

    The Russian defense ministry said stepped-up air strikes on rebel positions in Syria killed 300 anti-Assad rebels and that it hit 60 Islamic State targets over the last day. There was no independent confirmation of the death toll.

    About 200 insurgents were killed in an attack on the Liwa al-Haqq group in Raqqa province while 100 died in Aleppo, the defense ministry said. Two Islamic State commanders were amongst the dead in Russia’s most intense raids since it launched strikes in Syria 10 days ago. In previous updates Russia has reported hitting 10 targets daily…”

    • Russia says kills 300 militants in Syria in most intense raids yet (reuters, Oct 9, 2015)

      “Russia’s air force hit 60 Islamic State targets in Syria over the past 24 hours and killed around 300 militants, the Defense Ministry said on Friday, in Moscow’s most intense raids yet since it first launched strikes on Syria 10 days ago.

      In the previous updates, the Moscow had been reporting hitting about 10 targets daily. The increased pace of attacks was aimed at preventing militants from re-grouping and dispersing in populated areas, the ministry said.

      The ministry said in a statement that air force jets used KAB-500 precision guided bombs to destroy a headquarters of the Liwa al-Haqq militant group in Syria’s Raqqa province.

      The ministry, citing intercepted radio communications, said the raid killed two senior Islamic State field commanders and some 200 militants there…”

  21. Seehofer widens rift with Merkel over refugee policy (DW, Oct 9, 2015)

    “Bavarian State Premier Horst Seehofer has mounted a direct attack on Angela Merkel’s asylum policy. The chancellor’s supposed conservative ally has now threatened her with constitutional action.

    On the day that Angela Merkel was being tipped to win the Nobel Peace Prize, her increasingly troublesome conservative ally Horst Seehofer unleashed a series of broadsides against the chancellor.

    Following a meeting of Bavaria’s cabinet Friday morning, State Premier Seehofer, who also heads the Christian Social Union, sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, threatened to take the federal government to the Constitutional Court if it did not agree to turn refugees back at the Austrian border as an “emergency measure.”

    “We are expressly of the opinion that immigration needs to be controlled and limited if we in Germany want to cope with it,” Seehofer told reporters, alleging that Berlin was “endangering the states’ independent capacity to act.”

    The statement backed up a pugnacious interview with Seehofer printed in Friday’s edition of the “Bild” newspaper. Asked what Bavaria’s new asylum reforms would entail, he began by referring to measures promoting “integration, education, and training” before lobbing his grenade: “There will come explicit measures of self-defense to limit immigration, such as turning back people at the Austrian border.”

    Though Seehofer conscientiously reiterated his support for Merkel in the rest of the interview – and was even forced to deny that he was out to topple her – the word “self-defense” set off alarm bells throughout the German media….”

  22. Big rise in German attacks on migrant homes in 2015 (BBC, Oct 9, 2015)

    “The German government says there have been almost 500 attacks on homes intended for asylum seekers this year – three times more than in 2014. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere called such violence “shameful”. Two-thirds of the attacks were carried out by locals who had no previous criminal record, he said….”

  23. Israel on high alert as stabbing attacks continue–israel-palestinians-54d0d33679.html

    JERUSALEM (AP) — At least four attacks — three by Palestinians and one by an Israeli — threatened to escalate and spread throughout the country as Israeli police struggled to control spiraling violence.

    A 14-year-old Israeli and a police officer were stabbed in separate assaults while four Arabs were stabbed by an Israeli in the southern city of Dimona. In the northern Israeli city of Afula, a Palestinian woman was shot and wounded when she attempted to stab a security guard at a bus station, police said.

    The Afula attack came shortly after a Palestinian man attacked a police officer with a knife and tried to grab his gun near the entrance to the Kiryat Arba settlement in the West Bank. The officer was lightly injured and killed his attacker, police said.

    Less than an hour earlier, a Palestinian used a vegetable peeler to stab and injure the 14-year-old Israeli in Jerusalem before he was arrested, police said.

  24. EXCLUSIVE: U.S. officials conclude Iran deal violates federal law

    Some senior U.S. officials involved in the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal have privately concluded that a key sanctions relief provision – a concession to Iran that will open the doors to tens of billions of dollars in U.S.-backed commerce with the Islamic regime – conflicts with existing federal statutes and cannot be implemented without violating those laws, Fox News has learned.

    At issue is a passage tucked away in ancillary paperwork attached to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, as the Iran nuclear deal is formally known. Specifically, Section 5.1.2 of Annex II provides that in exchange for Iranian compliance with the terms of the deal, the U.S. “shall…license non-U.S. entities that are owned or controlled by a U.S. person to engage in activities with Iran that are consistent with this JCPOA.”

    In short, this means that foreign subsidiaries of U.S. parent companies will, under certain conditions, be allowed to do business with Iran. The problem is that the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act (ITRA), signed into law by President Obama in August 2012, was explicit in closing the so-called “foreign sub” loophole.

  25. GAZA Hamas’s chief in Gaza on Friday called violence that has hit Israel and the West Bank in recent days an “intifada” and urged further unrest.

    “We are calling for the strengthening and increasing of the intifada… It is the only path that will lead to liberation,” Ismail Haniyeh said during a sermon for weekly Muslim prayers at a mosque in Gaza City.

    “Gaza will fulfill its role in the Jerusalem intifada and it is more than ready for confrontation,” he added.
    Hamas leader Haniyeh declares ‘new intifada’ in Jerusalem

  26. First on CNN: U.S. officials say Russian missiles heading for Syria landed in Iran

    Washington (CNN)A number of cruise missiles launched from a Russian ship and aimed at targets in Syria have crashed in Iran, two U.S. officials told CNN Thursday.

    Monitoring by U.S. military and intelligence assets has concluded that at least four missiles crashed as they flew over Iran.

    The U.S. believes, based on intelligence reports of damage assessments, that some buildings were damaged and civilians may have been hurt.

    It’s unclear where in Iran the missiles landed. The Russian ships have been positioned in the south Caspian Sea, meaning the likely flight path for missiles into Syria would cross over both Iran and Iraq

  27. China warns U.S. it will not allow violations of its waters

    China said on Friday it would not stand for violations of its territorial waters in the name of freedom of navigation, as the United States considers sailing warships close to China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea.

    A U.S. defense official told Reuters on Thursday the United States was considering sending ships to waters inside the 12-nautical-mile zones that China claims as territory around islands it has built in the Spratly chain.

    Western media reports quoted U.S. officials as saying the action could take place within a matter of days, but awaited a decision by U.S. President Barack Obama.

  28. Beijing on alert for U.S. Navy ‘incursion’ near artificial islands in South China Sea

    Foreign ministry concerned that United States could send ships into Chinese-claimed waters as artificial islands add to tensions in the area

    Beijing yesterday expressed concerns that the US Navy was reportedly preparing to send ships “within days” inside the 12 nautical-mile territorial zones China has claimed around its artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea.

    Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China had long made clear its position on the South China Sea.

    “We hope the United States can look upon the current situation of the South China Sea from an objective and fair perspective and play a constructive role together with China in keeping the peace and stability in the South China Sea,” Hua said.

  29. DAILY MAIL – Obama claims Putin’s war in Syria is sign of weakness – as US abandons training rebels to fight Assad and ISIS

    President tells CBS’s Steve Kroft in interview previewed on-air Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s moves into Syria are out of weakness, not strength
    US is suspending $500 million effort to train and arm rebels fighting to remove Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad from power
    Scuttled plan was troubled and had only trained a mere handful of Syrians, a Senate committee was told last month
    Putin has launched cruise missile strikes into the country in recent days but has resisted efforts to remove Assad
    The two presidents met last week in New York in what proved to be an icy visit over the civil war in Syria

    video on this page :

  30. Dow Jones discloses data breach

    (Reuters) – Dow Jones & Co disclosed on Friday a breach of its systems that put payment card and contact information of about 3,500 individuals at risk.

    The publisher of the Wall Street Journal said its review had not uncovered any “direct evidence” that information was stolen and that it had taken steps to stop the breach. (

    Based on the investigation, Dow Jones, a unit of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, said there was unauthorized access to its systems at certain times between August 2012 and July 2015.

  31. In Quebec, Canada, a woman voted wearing a potato bag on her head

    CBC – Advance polls

    […]A few covered faces

    Some voters also used the day to call attention to the niqab debate that has dominated much of the election to date. One man from Dorval showed up to vote in a clown costume and claimed he was able to vote without removing his mask. He said an officer asked him to take an oath to confirm his identity.

    “Truly sad that I can vote to elect a Canadian prime minister without having to show my face and prove my identity,” said Rafik Hanna.

    One woman showed up at a polling station in Cap-Rouge, near Quebec City, wearing a potato sack on her head. It was later confirmed that she was able to cast her ballot after swearing an oath.

    And in Gatineau, a man showed up to vote at the Centre Communautaire Le Baron dressed as a ghost. But rather than take an oath, he said he showed his face to confirm his identity.

    As the day progressed, social media groups emerged urging voters to wear masks at the ballot as a form of protest. Few of them had more than 105 Facebook likes, so it appears they did not get much traction. However, the photo of one man who claimed to vote while veiled by the Quebec flag was shared widely.

    The photo appeared on the Facebook page of Pegida Canada, an anti-Muslim group.

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