Reader’s Links for Jan. 29 – 2016

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

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  1. State to release some Clinton emails on Friday; thousands still delayed

    The State Department on Friday will release roughly 2,000 pages of Hillary Clinton’s emails but will delay the final batch of messages until after voters go to the polls in the first several primary states.

    In a court filing late on Thursday evening, the department insisted that it “regrets” its inability to publish the final 7,000 pages on Friday, as a federal court ordered it to do last year.

    Yet it defended the delay, blaming an internal oversight and the snowstorm that crippled Washington in the past week.

    As part of the process of making the emails public, the State Department is required to have other agencies review Clinton’s emails to check if any information should be redacted or marked as classified.

    According to the department, it simply “missed” sending roughly 7,000 pages of emails to other agencies and did not notice the oversight until earlier this month. Its efforts to correct the problem were further delayed by the snowstorm, which closed the federal government through Wednesday.

    The department has not even sent out documents to 12 agencies to review, it said.

    Last week, the department pushed to delay the final deadline until Feb. 29.

    As the journalist who sued the department to force the emails’ release pointed out, however, that would be after voters in the first four primary states have gone to the polls.

    “[I]f the Court allows State to delay release of thousands of pages of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s official work emails, a substantial portion of the electorate will be forced to vote without the benefit of important information to which it is entitled about the performance of one of the candidates for U.S. President while serving as Secretary of State,” lawyers opposing the department’s schedule claimed earlier this week.

    The Obama administration was unmoved.

    “Upcoming electoral events, while admittedly important to the public, do not change the fact that State needs this reasonable amount of additional time to complete the final stage of this enormous and complex undertaking,” lawyers representing the State Department wrote.

    Critics have warned that the final tranche of emails could contain scandalous or scintillating nuggets about Clinton’s time in the State Department. Administration lawyers this week attempted to dismiss those allegations.

    The 7,000 pages of emails that won’t be out for another month needed to go through “multiple” other agencies for review, they claimed.

    “But that does not mean that these emails are more ‘controversial’ than other emails, or that the oversight that led to them not being sent to all the necessary agencies was related to their substance,” they wrote.

    Republicans accused the State Department of “political favoritism” designed to protect Clinton.

    “Voters deserve to know the facts before they cast their ballots, not after,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.

    “Today’s filing is further proof that the Obama administration would rather flaunt an order from a federal judge than reveal just how badly Hillary Clinton’s reckless conduct jeopardized our national security.”

    • Gov’t Finds ‘Top Secret’ Info in Clinton Emails

      WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is confirming for the first time that Hillary Clinton’s unsecured home server contained some closely guarded secrets, including material requiring one of the highest levels of classification.

      The revelation comes just three days before the Iowa presidential nominating caucuses in which Clinton is a candidate.

      The State Department will release more emails from Clinton’s time as secretary of state later Friday.

      But The Associated Press has learned that 7 email chains are being withheld in full for containing “top secret” material

      Department officials wouldn’t describe the substance of the emails, or say if Clinton had sent any herself.

      Spokesman John Kirby tells the AP that no judgment on past classification was made. But the department is looking into that, to

      APNewsBreak: Gov’t declares 22 Clinton emails ‘top secret’

      WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration confirmed for the first time Friday that Hillary Clinton’s unsecured home server contained some of the U.S. government’s most closely guarded secrets, censoring 22 emails with material demanding one of the highest levels of classification. The revelation comes just three days before the Iowa presidential nominating caucuses in which Clinton is a candidate.

      The State Department will release its next batch of emails from Clinton’s time as secretary of state later Friday.

      But The Associated Press has learned seven email chains are being withheld in full because they contain information deemed to be “top secret.” The 37 pages include messages recently described by a key intelligence official as concerning so-called “special access programs” — a highly restricted subset of classified material that could point to confidential sources or clandestine programs like drone strikes or government eavesdropping.

      Department officials wouldn’t describe the substance of the emails, or say if Clinton sent any herself. They also wouldn’t disclose if any of the documents reflected information that was classified at the time of transmission, but indicated that the agency’s Diplomatic Security and Intelligence and Research bureaus have begun looking into that question.

      “The documents are being upgraded at the request of the intelligence community because they contain a category of top secret information,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told the AP, describing the decision to withhold documents in full as “not unusual.” That means they won’t be published online with the rest of the documents, even with blacked-out boxes.

      Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, has insisted she never sent or received information on her personal email account that was classified at the time. No emails released so far were stamped “CLASSIFIED” or “TOP SECRET,” but reviewers previously had designated more than 1,000 messages at lower classification levels for public release. Friday’s will be the first at the top secret level.

      For those that Clinton only read, and didn’t write or forward, she still would have been required to report classification slippages that she recognized. But without classification markings, that may have been difficult, especially if the information was in the public domain.

      Kirby said the State Department’s focus as part of the Freedom of Information Act review of Clinton’s emails was on “whether they need to be classified today.” Questions about their past classification, he said, “are being, and will be, handled separately by the State Department.”

      Possible responses for classification infractions include counseling, warnings or other action, State Department officials said, though they declined to say if these applied to Clinton or senior aides who’ve since left the department. The officials weren’t authorized to speak on the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.

      Friday’s release is coming at an awkward time for Clinton. The Iowa caucus is on Feb. 1, and her main challenger, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, is running neck and neck with her in the polls there and leads solidly in New Hampshire. Clinton still holds a strong advantage in national polls.

      The emails have been an issue for Clinton’s campaign since it became known 10 months ago that she exclusively used a nongovernment account linked to a homebrew server while in office. Clinton first called the decision a matter of convenience and then termed it a mistake, even if doing so wasn’t expressly forbidden. But the matter could prove more troublesome now that Clinton’s former agency has confirmed that business conducted over the account included top-secret matters.

      Like Clinton, the State Department discounted such a possibility last March. Both also said her account was never hacked or compromised, which security experts assess as unlikely, and that the vast majority of her emails were preserved properly for archiving purposes because she corresponded mainly with government accounts. They’ve backtracked from the archiving claim, while the AP discovered several phishing attempts on her server connected to Russia.

      The question of special access programs first surfaced last week, when Charles I. McCullough, the inspector general for U.S. intelligence agencies, cited examples on Clinton’s account in a letter to Congress. Republicans pounced on the report, though Clinton’s campaign insisted none of the exchanges were “classified at the time” and accused McCullough and GOP lawmakers of selectively leaking materials to damage her presidential hopes.

      Kirby confirmed that the “denied-in-full emails” are among those McCullough recently cited. One of the emails, he said, was among those McCullough identified last summer as possibly containing top secret information.

      The AP reported last August that one focused on a forwarded news article about the classified U.S. drone program run by the CIA. Such operations are widely covered and discussed in the public sphere, including by top U.S. officials, and the State Department immediately pushed back against McCullough’s claim. The other concerned North Korean nuclear weapons programs, according to officials.

      At the time, several officials from different agencies suggested the disagreement over the drone emails reflected the government’s tendency to over-classify material, and the lack of consistent policies across difference agencies about what should and shouldn’t be classified.

      The FBI also is looking into Clinton’s email setup, but has said nothing about the nature of its probe. Independent experts say it is highly unlikely that Clinton will be charged with wrongdoing, based on the limited details that have surfaced up to now and the lack of indications that she intended to break any laws.

      “What I would hope comes out of all of this is a bit of humility” and an acknowledgement from Clinton that “I made some serious mistakes,” said Bradley Moss, a Washington lawyer who regularly handles security clearance matters.

      Legal questions aside, it’s the potential political costs that are probably of more immediate concern for Clinton. She has struggled in surveys measuring her perceived trustworthiness and an active federal investigation, especially one buoyed by evidence that top secret material coursed through her account, could negate one of her main selling points for becoming commander in chief: Her national security resume.

      Clinton’s Server Had “Top Secret” Emails, State Dept. Confirms On Record

    • Fox news – Catherine Herridge -Official: Some Clinton emails ‘too damaging’ to release

      The intelligence community has deemed some of Hillary Clinton’s emails “too damaging” to national security to release under any circumstances, according to a U.S. government official close to the ongoing review. A second source, who was not authorized to speak on the record, backed up the finding.

      The determination was first reported by Fox News, hours before the State Department formally announced Friday that seven email chains, found in 22 documents, will be withheld “in full” because they, in fact, contain “Top Secret” information.

      The State Department, when first contacted by Fox News about withholding such emails Friday morning, did not dispute the reporting – but did not comment in detail. After a version of this report was first published, the Obama administration confirmed to the Associated Press that the seven email chains would be withheld. The department has since confirmed those details publicly.

      The decision to withhold the documents in full, and not provide even a partial release with redactions, further undercuts claims by the State Department and the Clinton campaign that none of the intelligence in the emails was classified when it hit Clinton’s personal server.

      Fox News is told the emails include intelligence from “special access programs,” or SAP, which is considered beyond “Top Secret.” A Jan. 14 letter, first reported by Fox News, from intelligence community Inspector General Charles McCullough III notified senior intelligence and foreign relations committee leaders that “several dozen emails containing classified information” were determined to be “at the CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET, AND TOP SECRET/SAP levels.”

      The State Department is trying to finish its review and public release of thousands of Clinton emails, as the Democratic presidential primary contests get underway in early February.

      Under the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, there is an exemption that allows for highly sensitive, and in this case classified, material to be withheld in full — which means nothing would be released in these cases, not even heavily redacted versions, which has been standard practice with the 1,340 such emails made public so far by the State Department.

      According to the Justice Department FOIA website, exemption “B3” allows a carve-out for both the CIA and NSA to withhold “operational files.” Similar provisions also apply to other agencies.

      Fox News reported Friday that at least one Clinton email contained information identified as “HCS-O,” which is the code for intelligence from human spying.

      One source, not authorized to speak on the record, suggested the intelligence agencies are operating on the assumption there are more copies of the Clinton emails out there, and even releasing a partial email would provide enough clues to trace back to the original – which could allow the identification of “special access programs” intelligence.

      There was no comment to Fox News from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Office of the Intelligence Community Inspector General, or the agency involved. Fox News has chosen not to identify the agency that provided sworn declarations that intelligence beyond Top Secret was found in the Clinton emails.

      The State Department was scheduled to release more Clinton emails Friday, while asking a D.C. federal court for an extension.

      FBI investigators looking into the emails are focused on the criminal code pertaining to “gross negligence” in the handling and storage of classified information, and “public corruption.”

      “The documents alone in and of themselves set forth a set of compelling, articulable facts that statutes relating to espionage have been violated,” a former senior federal law enforcement officer said. The source said the ongoing investigation along the corruption track “also stems from her tenure of secretary. These charges would be inseparable from the other charges in as much as there is potential for significant overlap and correlation.”

      Based on federal regulations, once classified information is spilled onto a personal computer or device, as was the case with Clinton and her aides, the hardware is now considered classified at the highest classification level of the materials received.

      While criticized by the Clinton campaign, McCullough, an Obama administration appointee, was relaying the conclusion of two intelligence agencies in his letter to Congress that the information was classified when it hit Clinton’s server — and not his own judgment.

      Joseph E. Schmitz, a former inspector general of the Department of Defense, called the attacks on McCullough a “shoot the watchdog” tactic by Clinton’s campaign.

      The developments, taken together, show Clinton finding herself once again at the epicenter of a controversy over incomplete records.

      During her time as the first female partner at the Rose Law firm in Arkansas during the mid-1980s, she was known as one of the “three amigos” and close with partners Webb Hubbell and Vince Foster. Hubbell ended up a convicted felon for his role in the failure of the corrupt Madison Guaranty, a savings and loan which cost taxpayers more than $65 million. Hubbell embezzled more than a half-million dollars from the firm.

      Foster killed himself in Washington, D.C., in July 1993. As Clinton’s partner in the Rose Law firm, he had followed the Clintons into the White House where he served as the Clintons’ personal lawyer and a White House deputy counsel.

      Clinton’s missing Rose Law billing records for her work for Guaranty during the mid-1980s were the subject of three intense federal investigations over two years. Those records, in the form of a computerized printout of her work performed on behalf of Guaranty, were discovered under mysterious circumstances in the Book Room of the private White House living quarters.

      The discovery of those records was announced during a blizzard in January 1996 by attorney David Kendall, who still represents Hillary Clinton. After Clinton testified before a grand jury, prosecutors concluded there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt she committed perjury or obstruction of justice.

      Despite Clinton’s recent public statements about not knowing how the technology works, at least one email suggests she directed a subordinate to work around the rules. In a June 2011 email to aide Jake Sullivan, she instructed him to take what appeared to be classified talking points, and “turn into nonpaper w no identifying heading and send nonsecure.”

      A State Department spokesman could not say whether such a fax was sent.

  2. UK Woman Found Guilty of Taking Son to Join IS in Syria (abcnews, Jan 29, 2016)

    “A British woman has been found guilty of taking her toddler son to join the Islamic State group, becoming the first woman to be convicted after returning to the U.K. from the self-declared caliphate in Syria.

    Tareena Shakil was arrested last February on suspicion of Syria-related terrorism offenses and child neglect after arriving at Heathrow airport with her son on a flight from Turkey. The son has since been taken into social care.

    During her trial the 26-year-old denied the charges, claiming she only travelled to Syria because she wanted to live under strict Islamic law.

    But the jury did not believe her account after seeing tweets and messages in which she called on others to “take up arms.”

    Some 60 British women are believed to have left for Syria.”

  3. US Seeks Continued Aid for Afghan Army (abcnews, Jan 29, 2016)

    “The U.S. is lobbying its allies to continue financial assistance for the Afghan army, which is now faced with a resurgent Taliban.

    Richard Olson, the Obama administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, met Friday with NATO’s principal decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council.

    Olson told reporters afterward, “We think it’s really important for the alliance to continue to invest in Afghanistan.”

    He said the U.S. hopes to win commitments that would allow foreign assistance for Afghanistan’s security forces to continue in 2018-2020 at the same levels NATO leaders agreed to in 2012.

    According to NATO, contributions to a special NATO-Afghan National Army Trust Fund to date amount to $1.38 billion. In addition, NATO allies and partner nations have confirmed another $450 million per year in funding pledges through 2017.”

  4. Taliban Control of Afghanistan Highest Since U.S. Invasion (nbcnews, Jan 29, 2016)

    “America’s 14-year project to defeat the Taliban and build a stable Afghanistan is teetering on the brink of failure, according to a sobering report Friday by a government watchdog.

    The Taliban controls more of the country than at any time since U.S. troops invaded in 2001, notes the quarterly report to Congress by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. The fragile economy is worsening. One of the few bright spots of the troubled reconstruction effort — getting more girls in school — has been tainted by allegations of fraud.

    “The lack of security has made it almost impossible for many U.S. and even some Afghan officials to get out to manage and inspect U.S.-funded reconstruction projects,” wrote John Sopko, the inspector general.

    The U.S. has spent more than $113 billion on Afghan reconstruction, more in constant dollars than it spend rebuilding Western Europe after World War II under the Marshall Plan. It is on track to spend billions more, but many critics view the Afghan civilian aid effort as a wasteful failure. Sopko has examined a fraction of the spending, but his audits have uncovered $17 billion in questioned costs in just three years, according to a tally by ProPublica, the investigative group.

    Sopko’s latest bleak assessment comes as the Pentagon is concluding that holding off the Taliban will require the U.S. to keep combat troops there far longer than President Obama originally intended. Obama had set a course to have all combat troops out by the end of his presidency, but now military officials are discussing plans that would keep thousands of American troops in Afghanistan for decades….”

  5. Two Egyptian police officers killed by IED in Al-Arish (ahram, Jan 29, 2016)

    “Two police officers were killed when an IED exploded inside an armoured vehicle in North Sinai’s Al-Arish, the interior ministry said in a statement on Friday.

    Five conscripts also suffered minor injuries in the explosion near Ahmed Orabi school, and were transferred to hospital.

    The two officers who were killed held the ranks of first lieutenant and captain.

    The ministry said investigations are underway to apprehend the perpetrators.

    Egypt’s army has been fighting an Islamist insurgency for decades, which spiked following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. Hundreds of Islamist militants and security forces have been killed since.

    The army said earlier this month that they had killed 26 “terrorists” in raids in North Sinai as part of the ongoing “Martyr’s Right” operation to rid the area of terrorism, which began in September 2015.”

  6. Swedish PM reported for slow refugee response (thelocal, Jan 29, 2016)

    “UPDATED: Sweden’s centre-right opposition has reported Prime Minister Stefan Löfven to a parliamentary scrutiny committee over his government’s failure to take rapid action when authorities were overwhelmed by last year’s refugee crisis.

    In the notification, reported to parliament on Friday morning, the centre-left government is accused of failing to respond to an alarm signal from the city of Malmö in August, warnings giving to foreign minister Margot Wallström in September, and continual police complaints that the situation was spinning out of control.

    “We felt that no one stepped forward and took responsibility,” Jessica Polfjärd, who leads the centre-right Moderates in the Swedish parliament, told DN newspaper. “The person ultimately responsible is the Prime Minister.” …”

  7. Senior Taliban leaders among 28 killed in latest operations led by Afghan army (khaama, Jan 29, 2016)

    “At least three senior Taliban leaders were killed along with twenty five other militants in the latest counter-terrorism operations led by the Afghan National Army (ANA) forces, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said Friday.

    The operations were conducted in different parts of the country during the past 24 hours, MoD said, adding that twenty others were also injured during the same operations.

    The Afghan armed forces also arrested 12 militants and confiscated various types of weapons, ammunition and Improvised Explosive Device (IED) belonging to the militants.

    According to MoD, the operations covered large swaths of Parwan in noth, Nangarhar in east, Ghazni in southeast, Logar, Uruzgan and Wardak in central parts of the country, Kandahar and Zabul in south, Faryab, Baghlan, Kunduz and Jawzjan in north, and Badakhshan in northeast…”

  8. Iran recruited thousands of Afghan refugees to fight in Syria: HRW (khaama, Jan 29, 2016)

    “Thousands of Afghan refugees have been recruited by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to fight alongside forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, it has been reported.

    According to reports, some of the refugees have been deployed to Syria after they were recruited through coercion.

    Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), said “Iran has not just offered Afghan refugees and migrants incentives to fight in Syria, but several said they were threatened with deportation back to Afghanistan unless they did.”

    He said some of the Afghan migrants were forced to flee Iran for Europe after facing the bleak choice from the Iranian authorities.

    The relatives of a number of the Afghan migrants deployed to fight in Syria have been interviewed with six of the twelve respondents saying Iranian forces had trained them or their relatives in military camps near Tehran and Shiraz in 2015.

    Two of the six had joined voluntarily, while the other four said they or their relatives had been coerced or forced to fight.

    This comes as earlier estimates revealed at least 3,500 Afghan migrants are fighting in Syria to support the forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad.

    Relatives of a number of those killed while fighting for the Syrian regime have said the Afghan nationals are also lured by the month salary of $700 and Iranian residency permit.”

  9. IRAQ – ISLAMIC STATE – ‘Many months’ before start of battle for Mosul: Coalition

    An assault to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS group won’t start for many months, a spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting the jihadists said Friday.

    Iraq’s second largest city fell to ISIS in June 2014 as they overran vast regions in northern and north-central Iraq, as well as in Syria.

    Iraqi security forces who were supposed to secure the city collapsed in the face of the extremists’ advance.

    It “is going to be many months before we see actual operations for Mosul begin,” Colonel Steve Warren, a Baghdad-based spokesman for the coalition told reporters.

    “Right now, our focus is let’s start training some brigades, let’s start building some combat power, let’s continue to train some police,” he said via videoconference from Baghdad.

    When the offensive can be launched will depend on the speed of the training effort, he added.

    US officials — who have been pushing Iraq to launch an assault on Mosul following recent successes including the recapture of the city of Ramadi — have repeatedly highlighted the need to increase the number of Western military trainers in Iraq.

    The question is expected to be taken up during a February 11 Brussels meeting of coalition defense ministers.

    Warren said the coalition currently envisioned launching roughly 10 brigades for the Mosul assault, with each one representing about 2,000 to 3,000 soldiers.

    “These are all to be trained,” Warren said of the soldiers.

    Some of the brigades have already been trained by the coalition but “we want to give them additional training,” he added.

    The United States has deployed some 3,500 soldiers in Iraq, with the mission to train and advise local troops.

    Mosul, in northern Iraq, lies some 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of the Kurdish capital, Arbil.

    The city holds special significance for the ISIS group, as it was where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed his “caliphate” straddling Iraq and Syria.

    US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter recently said that the main objective of the anti-ISIS coalition was to destroy its power centers in Syria and Iraq — Raqa and Mosul.

  10. Iran ‘flies surveillance drone over US warship’ (BBC, Jan 29, 2016)

    “Iran flew an unarmed drone over a US aircraft carrier and took “precise” photographs during a naval drill in the Gulf, its state broadcaster said.

    Images purporting to show an unnamed US warship were shown on television.

    Iran’s navy commander praised the operation for getting so close to a warship “to get such accurate footage of the combat units of foreign forces”.

    The US said an Iranian drone had flown over one of its carriers recently, but did not say if it was this incident.

    It had not posed a risk to the USS Harry S Truman, but the move was “abnormal and unprofessional”, Reuters news agency quoted a US navy spokeswoman as saying.

    Nicole Schwegman said that incident had occurred on 12 January, which is the same day Iran briefly detained 10 US sailors who had entered Iranian territorial waters by mistake…”

  11. DAILY MAIL Swedish police reveal they have dealt with 5,000 incidents involving migrants since October – and say the problem is increasing

    Officers have been called out to nearly 600 assaults in last three months
    Two bomb threats and 450 fights also linked to migrants or asylum seekers
    Police chief warned an ever-increasing number of officers was needed

    Swedish police have dealt with 5,000 incidents involving migrants since October as they revealed they are concerned the problems are getting worse.

    Officers in the country have been called out to nearly 600 assaults in the last three months as well as four rapes, two bomb threats and 450 fights.

    Migrants and asylum seekers have also been involved in 194 violent threats, 58 fires and nine robberies, according to data obtained by SvD .

    Dan Eliasson, police commissioner, told SvD an increasing number of officers were needed to deal with the problems.

    He said: ‘I am concerned about these developments. I fear that there may be even more trouble.’

    He added: ‘The unrest in asylum accommodation is something that requires more and more of us.

    ‘[The accommodation] is crowded, some people bring with them the baggage of traumatic events. There can be various disagreements between groups.’

  12. Refugee child ‘attacked by four other youngsters at youth asylum centre’ (express, Jan 29, 2016)

    “A REFUGEE child has allegedly been attacked at a reception centre for unaccompanied young migrants.

    The child was allegedly set upon by four other residents at the centre in Sweden.

    Swedish police have now arrested the asylum seekers on suspicion of assault.

    The child was taken to hospital after the alleged attack at the centre for unaccompanied refugee children in Nässjö.

    The patrol that responded to the alarm raised by staff arrested four people that are now suspected of abuse.

    Police said they “can’t provide more information because of the ongoing investigation”.

    Tommy Åkerberg, duty officer at Jönköping police, said: “[There] were fights and beatings.

    “Now we are investigating what happened and the investigation is in the early stages.”

    Everyone involved is reported to be 16 or 17 years old…”

  13. Canceled National Theater play sparks war of words

    The board of directors of Greece’s prestigious National Theater on Friday criticized a decision by its artistic director to cancel the remaining performances of a play that contains excerpts of a book written by November 17 terrorist Savvas Xiros, following complaints and alleged threats.

    “Theater is all about freedom of expression and free dialogue,” the board said in a statement.

    “Since when has anything been taboo in art? If this invisible list of prohibitions were to prevail, we would have to strike masterpieces of literature, cinema and theater from existence,” it said.

    “Art ought to host the voice of the victims but also of wrongdoers. Or no Shakespeare play would be staged,” it said.

    On Thursday National Theater artistic director Stathis Livathinos decided to scrap the play, named “Nash’s Equilibrium,” claiming that he did not want to give the impression it condones “criminals forever condemned in the conscience of the Greek people.”

    In a statement, Livathinos expressed his regret that the play had become the “subject of political exploitation,” adding that there had been threats of violence aimed at the actors and theater-goers.

    The staging of the play has sparked a heated debate on Greek media and social media regarding art, politics and the limits of free expression.

    In a statement on Friday, the ruling SYRIZA party said the decision to scrap the play was a “sad development.”

    “Our solidarity with the families of the victims of N17 is a given, but so is our defense for the freedom of artistic expression,” it said.

    Some 300-400 people rallied outside the National Theater late on Friday following a Facebook call against “censorship.”

    Os Edo (Enough), an organization which represents relatives of the victims of terrorism, slammed the play, saying that “it is clear that the absolution of Mr Xiros is some people’s constant and persistent priority.”

    The US Embassy in Athens was also drawn into the debate.

    “While art should not be censored, we join Os Edo in questioning if the public should fund the art of a terrorist,” a tweet from the embassy said.

  14. Blonde teen radicalised by ISIS videos jailed for nine years after stabbing mum to death (express, Jan 29, 2016)

    “A BLONDE teenage girl radicalised after endlessly watching gruesome ISIS beheading videos has been jailed for stabbing her mother to death.

    Lisa Borch, aged 15 at the time of the murder, was sentenced to nine years behind bars after and she and her boyfriend Bakhtiar Mohammed Abdulla, 29, stabbed her mother Tina Römer Holtegaard at least 20 times.

    The attack, at her family home in Kvissel, northern Denmark, in October 2014, came after Borch, now 16, had watched the killings of British hostages Alan Henning and David Haines online.

    During the first trial in September, the court was told how Borch had become obsessed with radical Islam….”

  15. Lebanon returns Israeli vulture cleared of spying (BBC, Jan 29, 2016)

    “A huge vulture detained in Lebanon on suspicion of spying for Israel has been returned home after UN peacekeepers intervened, Israeli officials said.

    The bird, which has a 1.9m (6ft 5in) wing span, flew over the border from an Israeli game reserve and was caught by Lebanese villagers on Tuesday.

    They became suspicious as the griffon vulture had a tracking device attached to its tail.
    It is part of a conservation project to reintroduce raptors to the Middle East.

    Wildlife officials say the vulture was brought from Spain last year and set free about a month ago in the Gamla Nature Reserve in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

    Tel Aviv University is involved in tracking the bird, and as well as a GPS transmitter, it had tags on its wings and an engraved metal ring on its leg saying: “Tel Aviv Univ Israel”.

    Wildlife officials in Israel were alerted to its capture when photos of the tied-up bird appeared on social media…”

  16. German feminist welcomes refugees: ‘Better rapists than racists’

    A Facebook page for the radical left in Germany had a message for young women: “diversity is more important than your security.”

    Rote Antifa posted a picture of young feminist on Thursday, holding a sign that stated she preferred rapists from Syria and North Africa over nationalists in Germany who have demanded Chancellor Angela Merkel stop taking in more refugees.

    “Prefer sexually active fugitive as German racists,” was featured as the pictures caption.

    Germany cities with high levels of refugees have been plagued with explosive increases in sexual assaults over the last few months.

    The city of Cologne saw more than a thousand refugees molesting, assaulting, and raping young German women on New Years Eve alone.

    Mayor Henriette Reker responded by telling women that they should think about covering up before going out on the town.

    Women aren’t the only victims of this mass influx of people from vastly different cultures, and transgendered women have also been the victims of stoning in the city of Dortmund.

    Attacks against gay and lesbian refugees has become so bad that Germany had to set up separate housing units for them out of fear that they would be attacked by their fellow asylum seekers.

    All of these cases of the brutality and assault of destroyed Merkel’s record, and 40 percent of Germans are now demanding that she resign in disgrace.

    Still the radical left stands by the policy of diversity at all cost — even if it results in the massive assault, rape, and murder of feminists and gays.

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