Readers links for Feb. 3 – 2016

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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.

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

75 Replies to “Readers links for Feb. 3 – 2016”

  1. Investigations launched into 53 people for ‘insulting’ Erdo?an (todayszaman, Feb 2, 2016)
    http://www.todayszaman.com/national_investigations-launched-into-53-people-for-insulting-erdogan_411276.html

    “Administrative and judicial investigations have been launched into 53 people from 20 provinces across Turkey for allegedly insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an on social media since the Isparta Governor’s Office sent a notification to all state institutions and organizations in the province, instructing their staff to urgently report all incidents in which Erdo?an or other senior government officials are “insulted” on social media to the police.

    The notification signed by Isparta Deputy Governor Fevzi Güne? on behalf of Isparta Governor Vahdettin Özkan asked state staff to report insult incidents to the police so that administrative and legal action can be taken against the perpetrators.

    Upon receiving the notification on Monday, police officers from the Isparta Police Department’s Cyber Crime Unit started to scan through social media posts in order to find those that insulted President Erdo?an or other senior government officials.

    As a result judicial and administrative investigations were launched into 53 people in 20 provinces, including Afyonkarahisar, Ankara, Antalya, Bal?kesir, Çanakkale, ?stanbul, ?zmir, Kocaeli, Kütahya, Manisa and Van, on suspicion of “insulting the president,” “defaming the government of the Turkish Republic or the institutions of the state,” “inciting people to enmity or hatred or denigration” and “insulting a public officer regarding the performance of his duties.”

    The Ankara 32nd Criminal Court of First Instance also sentenced Hüseyin Aygün, former Tunceli deputy for the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP), to imprisonment of one year, two months on Monday for allegedly insulting Prime Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu.

    The National Police Department on Jan. 6 sent a circular to the police departments of all 81 provinces across Turkey about “insult crimes” against senior state officials, particularly Erdo?an.

    The circular advised the police departments to take immediate action against individuals who engage in “any insult crime” against Erdo?an and other senior state officials.

    Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) states that anyone convicted of insulting the president will serve a jail term of between one and four years. Article 125 of the TCK states that any person who acts with the intention to harm the honor, reputation or dignity of another person through concrete performance or giving impression of intent can be sentenced to a period of between three months and two years in prison or be given a fine.”

  2. French schools ‘allow smoking on grounds’ over terror threat (BBC, Feb 3, 2016)
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35474572

    “French schools have begun allowing students to smoke on their grounds to prevent them becoming terror targets on the streets outside, a union says.

    The union of school administrators first called for the measure days after the Paris attacks in November, but the health ministry refused.

    The SNPDEN union renewed its call last week, but a union official said some schools had already gone ahead anyway.

    A third of French teenagers smoke, according to government statistics.

    “Students massing on the street constitutes a very high risk, one that is certainly greater than that posed by the consumption of tobacco,” SNPDEN Deputy Secretary General Michel Richard told France Info.

    Mr Michel said the union was not attempting to minimise the dangers linked to smoking, but he said it was “necessary in this particular context to protect against the biggest risks”.

    A certain number of schools had already adopted the measure without waiting for an official green light, he added.

    France’s health ministry refused the union’s initial request to allow smoking on school grounds, saying the state of emergency currently in force in France “did not affect rules about smoking”, Mr Michel said.

    France has been under a state of emergency since the Paris attacks in November, which left 130 people dead and were claimed by the so-called Islamic State group (IS).

    Last month French Prime Minister told the BBC that the measures would remain in place “for as long as necessary”.

    The state of emergency gives the authorities extra powers to put people under house arrest and conduct raids without a judicial warrant.”

  3. Cities with largest influx of migrants say they’ve suffered a huge drop in living standards, European Commission study finds

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3428474/European-cities-countries-hardest-hit-migrant-crisis-say-influx-foreigners-negative-impact-survey-finds.html

    Horror as a young woman has ACID thrown in her face by her husband in Bangladesh after a row over their dowry

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3429016/Horror-young-woman-ACID-thrown-face-husband-Bangladesh-row-dowry.html

  4. Britain will NOT send troops to fight ISIS in Libya – but it will send weapons (express, Feb 3, 2016)
    http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/640670/Islamic-State-British-troops-Libya-weapons-Phillip-Hammond-ISIS

    “BRITISH troops will NOT be sent to Libya to crush Islamic State (ISIS) fanatics, the Foreign Secretary has announced.

    However the UK is prepared to provide weapons and support to tackle the Daesh extremists when Libya forms a new Government.

    ISIS, also known as Daesh, has an increasingly strong foothold in Libya, with militants also believed to be bribing impoverished Africans from Sudan, Mali and Chad to create an army of the poor.

    Phillip Hammond’s announcement comes despite suggestions ministers had discussed sending up to 1,000 troops to the North African nation over fears the terror group are on the rise.

    Mr Hammond strongly refuted these claims during an anti-ISIS summit in Rome last night.

    He said: “I don’t envisage a situation where we need to want to put boots on the ground.”

    Earlier this week it emerged dozens of heroic SAS veterans have rejoined the elite special forces unit to help protect the streets of Britain from an atrocity committed by evil jihadists.

    Its counter-terrorism team, the celebrated Special Projects Group, famed for its role in the 1980 Iranian Embassy Siege, have been patrolling Britain’s city centres in unmarked cars.

    The regiment as a whole is on high alert, and is also set to be deployed in large numbers to Libya.

    The Prime Minister has pledged £2billion in extra funding for the SAS and other under-strength special forces units – including the Special Boat Service and Special Reconnaissance Regiment – to bolster its attacks against the ISIS terror regime.

    Meanwhile, Google has joined the fight against the terror group’s propaganda network.

    Would-be jihadists who use the website to search for extremist material are to be shown anti-radicalisation links instead.”

  5. 32 IS affiliates detained in Algeria (xinhua, Feb 2, 2016)
    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2016-02/03/c_135069174.htm?

    “ALGIERS, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) — Algerian security forces arrested 32 members of a terrorist group affiliated to Daesh, also known as Islamic State (IS) group, in the province of Boumerdes, local media reported, citing a security source.

    According to the state-run Algerian newspaper El Khabar, detectives dismantled this group last week, saying it was composed of 28 men and four women. The source specified that it is the second terrorist group being dismantled within the past few weeks.

    Detectives managed to get accurate information that the leader of the IS-affiliated group in Algeria is called Mohamed Merimi, alias Abu Miram al-Jazairi, and his wife was assigned the task of recruiting new members.

    During the interrogation, the wife of Abu Miram affirmed that there are 32 people in the group.

    The 32 members were trying to travel to fight in Syria with local Jihadist groups, the source said, adding that they were put under custody in a prison in Algiers pending trial.”

  6. Philippines Fears New Fighting With Stalled Muslim Autonomy (abcnews, Feb 3, 2016)
    http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/philippines-fears-fighting-stalled-muslim-autonomy-36681347

    “The Philippine Congress ended its last regular session of its term Wednesday without passing a Muslim autonomy bill that aims to peacefully settle a decades-long Muslim rebellion in the south, sparking concerns the setback may ignite new fighting.

    Lawmakers had until Wednesday to deliberate on the bill before they start a three-month break at the end of the week. The long-delayed legislation is at the heart of a peace deal signed by the largest Muslim rebel group and the government of President Benigno Aquino III, whose term ends in June.

    The killing of 44 police commandos in fighting that involved some guerrillas from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front early last year scuttled the early passage of the Muslim autonomy bill outlined in the 2014 peace deal. The separatist conflict has left 150,000 people dead and stunted development in the country’s poorest region.

    The peace deal, which seeks to provide a more powerful and potentially larger autonomous region to minority Muslims in the south of the predominantly Roman Catholic nation, should have been a major legacy of Aquino’s presidency.

    While the Malaysian-brokered peace accord remains effective, a new autonomy bill will have to be presented to the new Congress under Aquino’s successor. The presidential election is May 9.

    “This delays the final settlement,” said Teresita Deles, the presidential adviser on the talks. “There will be elements that will completely lose hope that this can really be done.”

    Government peace negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said hard-line groups like the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, which opposed peace talks and vowed to continue fighting for a separate Muslim homeland in the south, could exploit the setback….”

  7. Two militants killed during raid in Cairo suburb: Police (ahram, Feb 3, 2016)
    http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/186636/Egypt/Politics-/Two-militants-killed-during-raid-in-Cairo-suburb-P.aspx

    “Egyptian authorities have announced that two militants were killed in a firefight with police forces in the Cairo suburb of Maadi on Wednesday, official news agency MENA reported.

    The two men were shot dead by forces during a raid on a house where they were hiding out from authorities in the Hadaek Al-Maadi district, south of Cairo, an interior ministry official was quoted by MENA as saying.

    The official claimed that the police received information that the “terrorists” possessed weapons and firearms that are typically “used to attack the army and police,” including belts used in suicide bombings, missiles and bombs.

    The official added that while authorities were about to raid the house, the alleged militants opened fire on the forces who in turn fired back.

    Two policemen were wounded in the gunfight…”

  8. Japan orders SDF to shoot down North Korean missile
    by Reiji Yoshida and Ayako Mie

    Staff Writers

    Feb 3, 2016
    Article history
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    Japan on Wednesday condemned Pyongyang’s plan to launch a space rocket, calling it a thinly disguised test of a long-distance ballistic missile.

    The government ordered Aegis ballistic missile defense warships of the Maritime Self-Defense Force and land-based Patriot PAC-3 rocket units to respond should projections show components falling in Japanese territory.

    “This will effectively mean the firing of a ballistic missile. It would be a clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions and a grave, provocative act against the security of our country,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a Lower House session Wednesday.

    “Japan, in cooperation with the United States and South Korea, will strongly urge North Korea to refrain from (conducting) the launch,” Abe said.

    On Tuesday night, North Korea notified the International Maritime Organization that it plans to send a “satellite” into orbit between Feb. 8 and 25. It said the launch will take place on one of those days between 7:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Japan time.

    Pyongyang conducted a fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6. The planned launch is widely seen as both a test and a demonstration of its advances in rocketry.

    Feb. 16 is the birthday of late leader Kim Jong Il, the father of current leader Kim Jong Un. Observers believe the launch window has been set around the day for domestic purposes — to bolster the nation’s morale.

    During a daily news conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga pointed out that the projectile, expected to be launched from a site in western North Korea, would fly over part of the Sakishima island chain of Okinawa Prefecture, which includes the islands of Ishigaki and Miyako.

    Japan lodged a formal protest with the North’s embassy in Beijing at 7:55 a.m. on Wednesday, Suga said.

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/02/03/national/anger-sanctions-threats-greet-north-korea-rocket-launch-plans/#.VrIHL-Y0aM9

  9. French government wants to extend the state of emergency

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    PARIS (AP) — France’s government is calling for a three-month extension of the state of emergency that was declared after the Nov. 13 deadly attacks in Paris, a move criticized by human right groups as damaging democracy.

    The measure proposed Wednesday in a Cabinet meeting now requires parliament’s approval.

    “The terrorist threat is still extremely high” in France and Europe, government spokesman Stephane Le Foll said Wednesday. “The state of emergency is necessary. It has been useful and must continue to be. ”

    The state of emergency has already been extended once and was scheduled to end on Feb. 26. It expands police powers to carry out arrests and searches and allows authorities to forbid the movement of persons and vehicles at specific times and places.

    In a written statement, President Francois Hollande sai

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/E/EU_PARIS_ATTACKS?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2016-02-03-08-55-46

  10. Germany considers $5,450 limit on cash transactions

    BERLIN (AP) — The German government is considering introducing a limit of 5,000 euros ($5,450) on cash transactions in an effort to combat money laundering and financing of terrorism.

    Deputy finance minister Michael Meister said Wednesday that Germany would like to see a European solution, but could introduce a national limit if none is achieved, news agency dpa reported. He said “we can imagine a level of 5,000 euros.”

    Meister said there’s “the risk of terror financing and we also have the problem of how to clear up money-laundering offenses properly” when large transactions are conducted anonymously.

    Germans tend to use cash more than many other Europeans. Opposition Green Party lawmaker Konstantin von Notz tweeted that trying to limit cash payments “is a new fundamental attack on data protection and privacy.”

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/E/EU_GERMANY_CASH_LIMIT?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2016-02-03-06-58-46

  11. Top German Journalist Admits Live On Air National News Agenda Set By Government

    A retired media boss at a major German state broadcaster has admitted his network and others take orders from the government on what — and what not — to report.

    National public service broadcaster Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF), which was recently forced into a humiliating apology for their silence on migrant violence and sex assault is being drawn into a fresh scandal after one of their former bureau chiefs admitted the company takes orders from the government on what it reports. He said journalists received instructions to write news that would be “to Ms. Merkel’s liking”.

    Former head of ZDF Bonn Dr. Wolfgang Herles make the remarks during a radio event (from minute 27) in Berlin where journalists discussed the media landscape. Moving on to the freedom of the press, the panel chair asked Dr. Herles whether things in Germany had got “seriously out of whack”. With an honesty perhaps unusual in Germany, Dr. Herles replied that ordinary Germans were totally losing faith in the media, something he called a “scandal”. He said:

    “We have the problem that – now I’m mainly talking about the public [state] media – we have a closeness to the government. Not only because commentary is mainly in line with the grand coalition (CSU, CDU, and SPD), with the spectrum of opinion, but also because we are completely taken in by the agenda laid down by the political class”.

    A retired media boss at a major German state broadcaster has admitted his network and others take orders from the government on what — and what not — to report.

    A retired media boss at a major German state broadcaster has admitted his network and others take orders from the government on what — and what not — to report.

    National public service broadcaster Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF), which was recently forced into a humiliating apology for their silence on migrant violence and sex assault is being drawn into a fresh scandal after one of their former bureau chiefs admitted the company takes orders from the government on what it reports. He said journalists received instructions to write news that would be “to Ms. Merkel’s liking”.

    Former head of ZDF Bonn Dr. Wolfgang Herles make the remarks during a radio event (from minute 27) in Berlin where journalists discussed the media landscape. Moving on to the freedom of the press, the panel chair asked Dr. Herles whether things in Germany had got “seriously out of whack”. With an honesty perhaps unusual in Germany, Dr. Herles replied that ordinary Germans were totally losing faith in the media, something he called a “scandal”. He said:

    “We have the problem that – now I’m mainly talking about the public [state] media – we have a closeness to the government. Not only because commentary is mainly in line with the grand coalition (CSU, CDU, and SPD), with the spectrum of opinion, but also because we are completely taken in by the agenda laid down by the political class”.

    http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/02/02/top-german-journalist-admits-live-on-air-national-news-agenda-set-by-government/

  12. U.S. says making progress in aircraft carrier collaboration with India

    February 3, 2016

    By Sanjeev Miglani

    NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India and the United States are making progress in talks on the joint development of an aircraft carrier for India, the top U.S. navy admiral said on Wednesday, potentially the biggest military collaboration between them.

    The two countries agreed to work together on aircraft carrier technology as well as jet engines during U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to India last year in a strengthening of ties to balance China’s expanding military power in the region.

    The visiting chief of U.S. Naval Operations, John Richardson, said the two sides had held talks on a range of issues relating to the next generation Indian carrier from its design to construction.

    A high-level U.S.-India joint working group is due to meet in New Delhi later this month, part of a series of meetings aimed at establishing broader cooperation on the design, development and production of the proposed Indian carrier.

    http://www.oann.com/u-s-says-making-progress-in-aircraft-carrier-collaboration-with-india/

  13. Calculation error: Iran’s $50 billion signing bonus is suddenly $100 billion
    By J.E. Dyer February 2, 2016

    Maybe it’s the result of poor instructional material in somebody’s grade school math.

    The error has to be in addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division, after all. Those are the operations that come into play for determining the size of sequestered bank balances, like the ones Iran has been unable to access overseas under nuclear-related sanctions.

    Since mid-2015, the Obama administration has been asserting that the amount Iran would gain access to, once sanctions were lifted, was about $50 billion. Critics of the JCPOA – the Iran “deal” – have insisted the total is more like $150 billion.

    In its propaganda for the JCPOA, the White House addresses this exact discrepancy on the whitehouse.gov website.

    http://libertyunyielding.com/2016/02/02/calculation-error-irans-50-billion-signing-bonus-is-suddenly-100-billion/

  14. EXCLUSIVE – Afghan migrants who attacked pensioners in THAT shocking train video were denied asylum after arriving four years ago… but Germany says it’s ‘too dangerous’ to send them home

    Three men who attacked pensioners on Munich train identified as Afghans

    Lived in Germany for four years, despite asylum requests being rejected

    Traced after shocking footage of the attack sparked a police investigation

    Elderly victims defended woman who reportedly rejected man’s advances

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3429867/Afghan-migrants-attacked-pensioners-shocking-train-video-denied-asylum-arriving-four-years-ago-Germany-says-s-dangerous-send-home.html

  15. Germany: Police officer injured as far-right rallies through Karlsruhe

    At least one police officer was injured in Karlsruhe on Tuesday, as around 150 right-wing demonstrators rallied through the city centre.

    Protesting Germany’s refugee policies, protesters waved German and Imperial German flags, while carrying banners reading “End the asylum madness. Topple the Merkel mob,” and “Karlsruhe defends themselves,” among others.

    Organised by various far-right groups, the demonstration was met by around 400 counter-protesters, sparking tensions both between the opposing groups and between protesters and police

    • Germany: De Maiziere introduces online anti-radicalisation initiative
      German Minister for Interior Thomas de Maiziere attended the launch of a new YouTube initiative at Federal Agency for Civic Education, on Wednesday.

      SOT, Thomas de Maiziere, Interior Minister of Germany (German): “There are a lot of people who have signed off the traditional modes of communication. They do not read newspapers each day, they don’t search for certain buzzwords, and rather, they are part of the social network. And often, sadly, only like-minded social networks. That means, now it is important that Federal Centres, if they want to reach everyone, go into these social networks.”

      SOT, Thomas de Maiziere, Interior Minister of Germany (German): “In terms of Islam, we don’t want young people to be radicalised, through false ideas about this old religion steeped in tradition and misunderstandings about this religion. And to turn away from democracy, from their families, go into warzones and support terrorism.”

      SOT, Thomas Kruger, President of Federal Agency for Civic Education (German): “The social networks are no television in the traditional sense, but rather they are interactive platform where people can discuss. And under these videos there will be many comments, questions and discussions. And that is a new form of civic education.”

      SOT, Nemi El-Hassan, YouTuber (German): “Mr. Kruger has already said that what is important is that civic education is authentic. And I believe that Muslims can convey Muslim or Islamic concepts very well, and we still need many, many more. We have, in the Muslim community, a lot of players who are, sadly, not always visible. So I’m naturally very grateful that we can make this with the BPP.”

      SOT, Mirko Drotschmann, YouTuber ‘MrWissen2Go’ (German): “I think that it is a really good side-effect of this action to explain to people what Islam actually is for a religion. In the school, very little is spoken about, and when it is, it’s often from the terms of ‘historical backgrounds’ or ‘weighty theology’ but what Islam really is wouldn’t often be discussed. And I notice over and over this great ignorance, and ignorance creates fear and fear then causes hate. And that is why we have this task to explain to people.”

    • Germany: Central Council of Muslims warns against hysteria over anti-Islam sentiments

      President of the Central Council of Muslims Amin A. Mazyek held a press briefing in Berlin, Wednesday, addressing the topic of the recent spate of sexual attacks allegedly committed by men of Arab origin.

    • Germany: Govt. to pay up to €600mln to house refugees at hotel chain

      Berlin is negotiating a plan with property owners to rent rooms in 22 Grand City Hotels (GCH) to refugees, according to reports that surfaced on Monday. Footage shows two of GCH’s Berlin sites shot on Wednesday.

      Reports cited a source from the Senate saying, “Since the senate has reportedly expressed interest in this multi-year term of lease, it [the contract] would amount to a value of up to €600 million ($663 million).” It is believed that a total of 10,000 refugees will be housed in hotels as a result of the deal.

      The proposal has received mixed responses from the city’s residents, some of whom criticise the use of taxpayers’ money to house refugees in this way. However, this is only one of many initiatives that the city is using to provide enough accommodation for refugees. Almost 50 sports halls across the city are also being put to use; and up to 7,000 refugees are to be housed in the former Tempelhof Airport.

    • Germany urges Afghanistan to stop refugee influx, pledges security aid

      Germany will only continue to provide security support to Afghanistan if the influx of refugees from the nation ceases, the country’s interior minister said. He added there is no “welcome money” for refugees, and no guarantee of jobs or housing.

  16. BELGIUM – Zeebrugge – a new magnet for migrants?

    Belgium is feeling the impact of Europe’s migrant crisis – with some people heading to Zeebrugge, to try and smuggle themselves on ferries bound for Britain.

    Belgian police do not want to see a repeat of Calais. More than 450 migrants have reportedly been stopped in the Zeebrugge port area over the past month.

    “Me go to England. England my uncle, my cousin will help me. Here no. But Belgium very good, people very very good, help me for water for food,” one man told euronews reporter

  17. Muslim butcher’s shop hit by machine gun fire in France

    The shop front of a Muslim butchers on the French island of Corsica was sprayed by machine gun fire on Tuesday night, as communal tensions on the island remained high.

    Police have no indication who was behind the shooting, but it comes after communal tensions on the island between north African immigrants and locals flared in recent months.

    http://www.thelocal.fr/20160203/muslim-butcher-sprayed-by-machine-gun-fire-in-france

  18. FRANCE – CORSICA – Gunfire sprays Corsican halal butcher’s shop, kebab stand

    PARIS (AP) — A French official says a halal butcher’s shop and a kebab stand on the French island of Corsica were sprayed with gunfire overnight.

    Eric Bouillard, the Ajaccio prosecutor, told the local Corse-Matin newspaper on Wednesday no one was hurt by the burst of gunfire that struck the two businesses in the town of Propriano.

    Religious and social tensions have risen on the Mediterranean island since the late December ambush of firefighters in a housing project. The next day, hundreds of Corsicans demonstrated peacefully against the violence and a few dozen protesters, assuming that the assailants were Muslims, tried to burn Qurans in a Muslim prayer room and vandalized a kebab shop.

    The island also periodically sees violence related to extortion and score-settling, and Bouillard said no motive has been established.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-3429717/Gunfire-sprays-halal-butchers-shop-tense-Corsica.html

    A French official said on Wednesday that a halal butcher shop was attacked with gunfire in Corsica island.

    Local prosecutor Eric Bouillard said the shop, in the centre of the resort town of Propriano, was “hit with a torrent of heavy-weapons fire.”

    There was no injuries, he added.

    Religious and social tensions have risen on the Mediterranean island since Christmas Eve, when two firefighters and a police officer were wounded at the estate, where 1,700 people live, half of them of non-French origin.

    Hundreds of Corsicans demonstrated during the following days, some of them in an aggressive manner.

    Protesters from a far-right group had ransacked a mosque and attempted to burn copies of the Quran in Ajaccio, the capital.

    Some protesters chanted slogans such as “This is our home!” and “Arabs get out,” while others shouted as “We fight against scum, not against Arabs!”

    Six people have been charged in connection to the unrest.

    A report Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) released in July 2015 showed the increase of Islamophobia related attacks in France.

    Compared to 2014, there has been a 23.5 percent increase following the Charlie Hebdo shooting in January 2015.

    “Attacks against mosques, death threats against veiled women, school kids humiliated by their teachers, female students prohibited from wearing long skirts, religious profiling of Muslim children, propagation of hate speeches and even declarations of war on Muslims whom are portrayed as a fifth column…the consequences have been and still are dire for Muslims,” the report said.

    http://www.trtworld.com/europe/halal-butcher-shop-attacked-with-gunfire-in-frances-corsica-40041

    • No injuries after Halal butcher shop in Corsica sprayed with bullets

      The front window of a Halal butcher’s shop was sprayed with bullets overnight on the French island of Corsica, where religious and racial tensions have flared in recent months, local prosecutor Eric Bouillard said on Wednesday.

      The butcher’s shop, located in the centre of the southern resort town of Propriano, was “hit with a torrent of heavy-weapons fire,” said Bouillard.

      No one was injured in the incident.

      Corsica was rocked by anti-Arab protests in December after two firefighters and a police officer were injured in an ambush on Christmas eve at the Jardins de l’Empereur, a low-income neighbourhood in the capital Ajaccio.

      During the protests, demonstrators shouted slogans such as “This is our home!” and “Arabs get out”. They also vandalised a Muslim prayer hall and attempted to burn copies of the Koran.

      The unrest led authorities to ban protests around the Jardins de l’Empereur over security fears.

      Six people have since been charged in connection with the violence.

      http://www.france24.com/en/20160203-france-corsica-halal-butcher-shop-sprayed-with-bullets

  19. Another ISIS Tactic: Fighters Disguised As Women Flee The Battlefield

    Iraqi Shiite fighters and their supporters are circulating a video on social media that allegedly shows a captured ISIS militant, trying to escape disguised as a woman. In the video, a well-known fighter for an Iraqi Shiite militia humiliates the captured man and vows revenge for violence against Shiite Muslims.

    The alleged ISIS fighter isn’t the first to be captured in women’s clothing. As ISIS suffered a series of territorial losses late last year, including major blows to its presence in Ramadi, a number of ISIS militants have been captured in various disguises. In at least a handful of cases, they’ve dressed as women, using the cover provided by traditional Islamic garb as a way to evade detection.

    “Look at this terrorist that we captured,” the Iraqi soldier says in the video clip uncovered by Vocativ Tuesday. The soldier claims the militant was taken while trying to escape with displaced families in or near the Iraqi city of Ramadi. “Look at those ISIS mice. We will take revenge for the martyr al-Nimr and all the Iraqis,” he adds, referring to the prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, who was executed earlier this month in Saudi Arabia.

    In the clip, the militant says he’s a 20-year-old Saudi Arabian national. He’s seen wearing a traditional Islamic headscarf and abaya, commonly worn by conservative Muslim women.

    http://www.vocativ.com/news/278695/another-isis-tactic-fighters-disguised-as-women-flee-the-battlefield/

  20. SYRIA peace talks – Lavrov: Russia won’t stop Syria strikes until ‘terrorists’ defeated

    Russia will not stop its air strikes on Syria until armed groups, such as al Qaeda’s wing there, are defeated, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday.

    On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that Russia should stop bombing opposition forces in Syria now that U.N.-led peace talks have started.

    “Russian strikes will not cease until we really defeat terrorist organisations like Jabhat al-Nusra. And I don’t see why these air strikes should be stopped,” he said at a news conference in Oman’s capital Muscat.

    Lavrov also said it would be difficult to impose a ceasefire unless Syria’s border with Turkey was secured to prevent smuggling and the movement of fighters.

    “Regarding a ceasefire, we have pragmatic ideas and we talked with the Americans who head the Syria support group and we look forward to discussing these ideas at the meeting on February 11,” Lavrov said, referring to the International Syria Support Group that is due to meet in Munich on Feb. 11.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-lavrov-idUSKCN0VC0SM

    • Syria: Govt. forces end 3-year siege of 2 towns in Aleppo province

      The Syrian military reportedly managed to break down a 3-year-long siege of the towns of Nubbul and al-Zahraa in Aleppo province on Wednesday. These two predominately Shia towns are said to have been besieged by opposition militias including and reportedly have been at the forefront of intense combat for roughly 40 months.

      The Syrian Army reportedly had assistance from local affiliated militias in completing the offensive, while some officials stating that the air-support provided by the Russian Air Force has also been of key importance. The recapturing of the two towns is seen as a major breakthrough by the Syrian Army and officials expect it to lead to the complete recapturing of Aleppo.

      Reportedly, the Syrian military has been constantly advancing in west of the country during the past days. On Monday, the army managed to recapture a strategically important village called Hardatnin and the town of Kinsabba in Latakia, both considered of high strategic value in cutting opposition militia supply lines.

    • WATCH: Lilley drills Immigration Minister on Syrian refugee mess

      Brian Lilley grills Immigration Minister John McCallum on unanswered questions on the refugee file including issues raised by settlement groups regarding housing and Americans regarding security issues.

    • U.N. halts Syria talks as government closes in on Aleppo

      A United Nations envoy halted his attempts to conduct Syrian peace talks on Wednesday after the army, backed by Russian air strikes, advanced against rebel forces north of Aleppo, choking opposition supply lines from Turkey to the city.

      Staffan de Mistura announced a three-week pause in the Geneva talks, the first attempt to negotiate an end to Syria’s war in two years, saying they needed immediate help from the rival sides’ international backers, principally the United States and Russia.

      “I have indicated from the first day that I won’t talk for the sake of talking,” the envoy, who has described the negotiations as Syria’s last hope, told reporters.

      Washington and Moscow’s support for opposite sides in the five-year-old war, which has drawn in regional states, created millions of refugees and enabled the rise of Islamic State, means a local conflict has become an increasingly fraught global standoff.

      De Mistura has said a ceasefire is essential but Russia refused to suspend its air strikes. They helped government forces end a three-and-a-half year siege of the Shi’ite towns of Nubul and al-Zahraa on Wednesday, a step toward recapturing all of Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city before the war.

      “I don’t see why these air strikes should be stopped,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, saying they were targeting al Qaeda-linked rebels.

      Opposition delegation co-ordinator Riad Hijab said there would be no ceasefire until a transition without President Bashar al-Assad was in place.

      Moscow accuses Washington, which is backing opponents of Assad, of supporting terrorists, while the U.S. State Department said the air strikes around Aleppo focused mainly on Assad’s foes rather than the Islamic State militants Russia says it is trying to defeat.

      The United Nations said it had been told hundreds of families had been uprooted following “an unprecedented frequency” of air strikes in the past two days. Three aid workers were among the dead.

      Its envoy had formally opened the peace talks on Friday but both sides denied they had ever begun.

      Aleppo rebel factions, reeling from the assault, told the opposition delegation late on Tuesday they would bring down the negotiations within three days unless the offensive ended, a source close to the talks said.

      De Mistura halted the talks until Feb. 25 after meeting the opposition.

      “I have concluded frankly that after the first week of preparatory talks there is more work to be done, not only by us but by the stakeholders,” de Mistura said.

      French Foreign Minister Fabius Laurent Fabius said his government supported De Mistura’s decision and he accused Assad and his allies of “torpedoing” the peace effort.

      The opposition’s Hijab said the pause gave the West a chance to put pressure on the Assad government and Russia to end their assault and that he would not return until there was a change on the ground.

      NO END TO RUSSIAN STRIKES

      Government delegation chief Bashar al-Ja’afari accused the opposition of pulling out of the talks because it was losing the fight.

      Developments on the ground were crucial,” he said, accusing de Mistura of providing them with political cover.

      “Those who have the responsibility of this failure are the Saudis, Turks and Qataris. They are the real handlers and masters of the Riyadh group.”

      Aleppo, 50 km (30 miles) south of the Turkish border, was Syria’s most populous city before the country’s descent into civil war. It has been partitioned into zones of government and insurgent control since 2012.

      If the government regains control, it would be a big blow to insurgents’ hopes of toppling Assad after a war that has divided Syria between western areas still governed from Damascus and the rest of the country run by a patchwork of rebels.

      The Levant Front rebel group said the breaking of the sieges of the Aleppo villages of Nubul and Zahraa came only after more than 500 raids by Russian airplanes.

      One commander said opposition-held areas of the divided city were at risk of being encircled entirely by the government and allied militia, and appealed to foreign states that back the rebels to send more weapons.

      Diplomats and opposition members said they were taken by surprise when de Mistura called for immediate efforts to begin ceasefire negotiations despite there being no official talks or goodwill measures from the Syrian government.

      The opposition has said it will not negotiate unless the government stops bombarding civilian areas, lifts blockades on besieged towns and releases detainees.

      The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war, said Russian and Syrian warplanes launched dozens of strikes on the rebel towns of Hayan and Hreitan in northern Aleppo on Wednesday.

      “Less than 3 km separate the regime from cutting all routes to opposition-held Aleppo,” Observatory director Rami Abdulrahman said. “It did in three days what it failed to do in 3-1/2 years.”

      A U.S. official in Geneva called for an end to the daily bombing of civilians by Russian and government warplanes.

      http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-idUSKCN0VC169

    • ‘Weakest position in Syria in years’: Russia and Assad may have just delivered a decisive blow to Turkey

      Pro-government forces in Syria have reportedly broken a rebel siege of two villages northwest of Aleppo, effectively cutting off Turkey’s supply line to opposition groups operating in and around Syria’s largest city.

      Government troops, accompanied by Iran-backed Shiite militias and Hezbollah forces, apparently reached the cities of Nubl and Zahraa with the help of heavy Russian airstrikes on Wednesday.

      The opposition had held these cities since 2012, according to the Institute for the Study of War.

      Russian airstrikes across northern Syria had been steadily shifting the epicenter of the war toward the corridor north of Aleppo since late November, in retaliation for Turkey’s decision to shoot down a Russian warplane that it said violated its airspace.

      A stepped-up Russian bombing campaign in the Bayirbucak region of northwest Syria, near the strategically important city of Azaz, had primarily targeted the Turkey-backed Turkmen rebels and civilians — and the Turkish aid convoys that supplied them.

      As a result, Turkey’s policy in Syria of bolstering rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime — and establishing a “safe zone” for displaced Syrians that might hinder the regime’s efforts to take Aleppo — has been unraveling for months, and now appears to have been defeated entirely.

      “It cuts Turkey off from Aleppo via Azaz,” Aaron Stein, a Turkey expert and nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council, told Business Insider on Wednesday.

      “Ankara can still access Aleppo via Reyhanli, through Idlib,” Stein said in an email. But “Turkey is on the back foot in Syria and is at a disadvantage now that Russia is deterring them from flying strike missions,” he added.

      Indeed, Turkey’s ability to retaliate against the Russian bombing campaign in northern Syria was severely limited by the de facto no-fly zone Russia created in the north following Turkey’s downing of the Russian warplane in November.

      “This has to be Turkey’s weakest position in Syria in years,” David Kenner, Foreign Policy magazine’s Middle East editor, noted on Twitter. “Shooting down of that Russian jet was a pivot point — backfired in a major way.”

      After the incident, Russia reportedly equipped its jets flying in Syria with air-to-air missiles for self-defense and sent a state-of-the-art S-400 missile system to the Russian Hemeimeem air base near Latakia — about 30 miles south of the Turkish border.

      “Turkey lost its capacity to change the strategic situation both on the ground and in Syrian airspace as an independent actor” following the incident, Metin Gurcan, a Turkish military expert, told Business Insider at the time.

      Paul Stronski, a senior associate in the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment, agreed that the close proximity of Russia’s airstrikes to the Turkish border — a “matter of minutes” for fighter jets — has made it much more difficult for Turkey to defend its airspace and retain northwestern Syria as a Turkish sphere of influence.

      On Twitter, Stein noted that another aspect of Turkey’s Syria policy is on the brink of total collapse — namely, restricting the movements of the Kurdish YPG, with whom Turkey has clashed, to east of the Syrian city of Marea.

      “Weapons and aid now must be sent through Bab al Hawa via Idlib,” Stein wrote. “Turkish efforts to secure Marea line in trouble. Huge implications.”

      To Turkey’s chagrin, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered to help the Kurds consolidate their territorial gains in northern Syria by linking the Kurdish-held town of Kobani with Afrin in September. He apparently began to make good on his after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane, offering to arm and support the Kurdish YPG in the name of cutting Turkey’s rebel supply line to Aleppo.

      In December, “Moscow delivered weapons to the 5,000 Kurdish fighters in Afrin, while Russian aircraft bombed a convoy of trucks that crossed the Turkish border into Syria at Bab al-Salam,” the Washington Institute’s Fabrice Balanche wrote in an analysis of the Azaz corridor’s strategic importance.

      As Stein noted on Twitter, “A viable way for Kurds to connect Efrin with territory East of the Euphrates now in play. Route is out of range of TR [Turkish] artillery.”

      Efrin is an alternative spelling for the Kurdish-held Syrian city.

      Aykan Erdemir, a nonresident fellow at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies and a former member of Turkish parliament, told Business Insider in December that Turkey trying to intervene to stop the Kurds’ expansion westward would “undoubtedly have serious drawbacks.”

      Any intervention, Erdemir said, “could further escalate the Turkish-Russian crisis, prompting heavier sanctions, and even new episodes of clashes between the two armies.”

      http://finance.yahoo.com/news/weakest-position-years-russia-assad-175515654.html

    • French FM condemns Syrian army offensive to ‘asphyxiate Aleppo’

      Paris (AFP) – French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Wednesday condemned a Syrian army offensive that has cut the last supply route linking rebels in the northern city of Aleppo to the Turkish border.

      France “condemns the brutal offensive by the Syrian regime, with the support of Russia to encircle and asphyxiate Aleppo and its hundreds of thousands of inhabitants”, Fabius said as talks in Geneva aimed at securing peace in Syria were suspended until February 25.

      http://news.yahoo.com/french-fm-condemns-syrian-army-offensive-asphyxiate-aleppo-212919737.html

    • US blames Russia as Syria talks suspended

      The Obama administration is blaming Russian airstrikes for halting United Nations peace talks aimed at ending the five-year Syrian civil war.

      State Department spokesman John Kirby said that Moscow’s continued bombing of rebels and attacks on supply routes in Syria was partly responsible for the breakdown in negotiations.

      “They are hitting almost exclusively opposition targets, and we are continuing to see reports of civilian casualties as a result of these strikes,” Kirby said.

      He added that the Russian strikes are “not anywhere near” focused on hitting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

      Kirby’s comments came after U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura announced a three-week pause in the talks, which only started last Friday.

      With Russian support, the fledgling Syrian government led by Bashar al Assad has closed in on recapturing the entire city of Aleppo. The troubled Syrian city was the nation’s largest before war broke out in 2011.

      “I have indicated from the first day that I won’t talk for the sake of talking,” Mistura told reporters in Geneva. “”I have concluded, frankly, that after the first week of preparatory talks there is more work to be done — not only by us but by the stakeholders.”

      The Wednesday announcement is a blow to international efforts to end the Syrian conflict that has already led to more than 250,000 dead.

      The talks struggled to get off the ground last week, and were delayed by disagreements over the makeup of groups that should be represented.

      The U.S. has consistently criticized Russia’s efforts in Syria since it entered the fray last year. The White House has accused Moscow of targeting opposition groups in order to prop up Assad, its regional ally instead of taking out anti-Western groups like ISIS.

      Reports out of Syria on Wednesday indicated that Russia airplanes launched hundreds of air strikes against opposition forces on the edge of Aleppo. Syria’s state news agency, SANA, reported that the army had “completely” cut off supply routes from some of the rebel groups to the Turkish border.

      “Russian strikes will not cease until we really defeat terrorist organizations like Jabhat al-Nusra,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a press conference in Oman, referring to an al Qaeda-linked organization in Syria. “And I don’t see why these air strikes should be stopped.”

      http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/268085-us-blames-russia-as-syria-talks-put-on-hold
      Spokesperson Kirby on Russian Airstrikes in Aleppo, Syria

    • Combat footage: Syrian Army breaks 3-year siege of 2 Shia villages in Aleppo

      Syrian Amy units have broken a siege imposed by terrorist organizations in the towns of Nubbul and al-Zahraa, local media report. The siege is said to have lasted for 40 months. The Syrian troops were assisted by local fighters in order to break it. The Syrian Army has also managed to cut off supply routes for the terrorists between the towns of Mayer and Maarasta al-Khan, Syrian radio and TV reports.

    • Syria: Army ends 3-year siege of 2 Shiite towns in Aleppo

      Syrian Armed Forces broke a three-year siege imposed on the towns of Nubbul and al-Zahraa, Wednesday. The two predominately Shiite towns were besieged by opposition militias for approximately 40 months.

    • Refugee crisis: David Miliband on Syrians in UK

      Former Foreign Secretary, now head of the International Rescue committee – David Miliband, on Syrians in the UK.

  21. Reuters :

    WHITE HOUSE SAYS IF THERE IS NEED TO TAKE UNILATERAL ACTION IN LIBYA TO PROTECT AMERICAN PEOPLE, PRESIDENT OBAMA WILL NOT HESITATE TO DO SO

    http://af.reuters.com/article/commoditiesNews/idAFL2N15I1XJ

    U.S. will take action against Islamic State threat in Libya if needed – White House

    CATONSVILLE, Md. (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama will continue to be updated on the risks of the spread of Islamic State to Libya and the United States will take action in the North African country to counter that threat if necessary, the White House said on Wednesday.

    “If there is a need for the United States to take unilateral action to protect the American people, the president won’t hesitate to do that,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.

    http://www.thestar.com.my/news/world/2016/02/04/us-will-take-action-against-islamic-state-threat-in-libya-if-needed–white-house/

  22. Iraq Kurd leader: ‘Time has come’ for statehood referendum

    Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani has declared that the “time has come” for the country’s Kurds to hold a referendum on statehood, a move likely to raise tensions with Baghdad.

    But even if the various political challenges to independence are resolved, the major economic problems the region faces due to low oil prices are another bar to Kurdish independence.

    “The time has come and the conditions are now suitable for the people to make a decision through a referendum on their future,” Barzani said in a statement released Wednesday.

    “This referendum would not necessarily lead to (an) immediate declaration of statehood, but rather to know the will and opinion of the people of Kurdistan about their future,” said Barzani, who has remained in power despite the expiration of his term as president.

    Barzani, who has made similar calls in the past, did not specify when the vote would take place.

    Iraq’s Kurds are a key US partner in the war against ISIS group and have been some of the most effective forces fighting the jihadists.

    But both the referendum on independence — which Iraq’s federal government opposes — and the issue of which areas it covers will raise tensions between the autonomous Kurdish region and Baghdad, potentially complicating anti-ISIS efforts.

    The region officially includes three provinces, but Kurdish forces now hold parts of four more over which the federal government wants to maintain control.

    Federal forces fled positons in various northern areas in the summer of 2014 when facing an offensive by ISIS, allowing Kurdish forces to gain or solidify control over areas claimed by both them and Baghdad.

    Oil-rich Kirkuk province, which is mostly held by Kurdish peshmerga forces, will be a particular point of contention due to the wealth of natural resources there.

    Turkey’s assent would also be essential for moves toward Kurdish statehood to proceed, as Ankara is a key economic partner of Iraqi Kurdistan, both in terms of oil exports and other trade and investments.

    Barzani has a close relationship with the Turkish government, but Ankara is also battling the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) rebel group, and having a Kurdish state on its southern border, or even moving toward one, could increase calls for similar action within its territory.

    Economic challenges are also a major obstacle to Kurdish independence.

    Iraqi Kurdistan has been independently exporting oil via Turkey from four northern provinces since a deal between it and Baghdad on oil and revenue sharing collapsed last year.

    Both Baghdad and Kurdistan are facing a financial crisis due to plunging oil prices, on which they rely for the vast majority of government funds.

    But the Kurds do not have the same access to the loans and bond markets that Baghdad can turn to in order to stay financially afloat.

    Salaries for some Kurdish government employees are months in arrears, and some have gone on strike to protest unpaid wages.

    http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/186640/World/Region/Iraq-Kurd-leader-Time-has-come-for-statehood-refer.aspx

  23. The Muslim Brotherhood in America

    Nick Short |Politically Short

    While much has been written on the terrorist organization known as the Muslim Brotherhood, for the most part the majority of Americans continue to remain unaware of this nefarious organization as it operates freely in America under a litany of various front organizations posing as charities and civil rights groups.

    Although terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, the Islamic State (ISIS), and Hamas have clear tactical differences, they both share the exact same ideology and goals. In fact, al-Qaeda, Hamas, and ISIS would not exist today if it wasn’t for the Muslim Brotherhood which birthed these groups through the teachings of ideologues like Hasan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb. It is no understatement to say that the Muslim Brotherhood has inspired the entire modern Islamic terrorist enterprise.

    Yet, too much attention has been given to groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS as they seek to bring about their ultimate goal of establishing Sharia law via the “Caliphate” through violence. The spotlight has been virtually ignored on the Muslim Brotherhood though as they seek the same goal of Sharia but through a gradual, termite-like approach that burrows deeply into a host society by eating away it’s institutions slowly from within. These are the two tactical differences that Americans need to become aware of as the former has virtually controlled the narrative while the latter is whitewashed away as not irrelevant. The Muslim Brotherhood in America has acquired positions of influence behind the scenes in the government, academia, and even the media with little to no resistance. For the Brotherhood, it all begins with the establishment of various innocuous sounding Islamic organizations created at the grassroots level which eventually serve the purposes of evolving into breeding grounds for radicalization.

    More than thirty years ago the Muslim Brotherhood laid out a twelve point strategy to put up a false front of peace while acting covertly to subvert the Western world in a document that came to be known as “The Project“. The document was recovered by Swiss authorities as they raided the lakeside villa of the Brotherhoods’ then foreign minister Youseff Nada shortly after the September 11th attacks on the United States. The document was written in 1982 and it outlines a strategy for the Muslim Brotherhood to “establish an Islamic government on earth.”

    Patrick Poole, a counter-terrorism consultant and National Security and Terrorism Correspondent for PJ Media, notes that “what makes The Project so different from the standard ‘Death of America! Death to Israel!’ and ‘Establish the global caliphate!’ Islamist rhetoric is that it represents a flexible, multi-phased, long-term approach to the ‘cultural invasion’ of the West. Calling for the utilization of various tactics, ranging from immigration, infiltration, surveillance, propaganda, protest, deception, political legitimacy and terrorism, The Project has served for more than two decades as the Muslim Brotherhood master plan.”

    Rather than focusing on terrorism as the sole method of group action, as is the case with Al-Qaeda, Hamas, ISIS, and various other terrorist organizations, the use of terror falls into a multiplicity of options available to progressively infiltrate, confront, and eventually establish Islamic domination over the West. Poole highlights a few of the following tactics and techniques that are among the many recommendations made in The Project:

    http://www.rightsidenews.com/us/islam-in-america/muslim-brotherhood-america/

  24. DAILY MAIL – Paris shanty town is smashed to pieces after French police swoop in dawn raid to remove 400 Romani gypsies who had built settlement

    Shanty town was set up in June 2015 along an abandoned railway line called La Petite Ceinture in the French capital
    Police swooped to evict people from 135 shacks amid fears over hygiene, heating and a lack of fire safety measures
    The SNCF railway authority owns the land and the eviction this morning was ordered by the Interior Ministry

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3429605/French-police-remove-350-Romani-gypsies-shanty-town-sprung-central-Paris-summer-continued-spread.html

    Major Roma camp evacuated north of Paris

  25. Iraq Building Wall, Trench Around Capital

    Iraq said Wednesday it has begun building a wall and a trench around Baghdad in a bid to prevent militant attacks and reduce the large number of checkpoints inside the city.

    The Interior Ministry’s spokesman, police Brig. Gen. Saad Maan, told The Associated Press that work began this week on a 100-kilometer (65-mile) stretch of the wall and trench on the northern and northwestern approaches of the capital.

    The wall will be three meters (10 feet) high and partially made up of concrete barriers already in use across much of the capital, he said. He declined to specify the measurements of the trench.

    Since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, Baghdad has seen near-daily bombings, mainly targeting security forces and the country’s Shiite majority.

    The Islamic State group and its predecessors have been blamed for most of these attacks, which occasionally include high-profile, multiple bombings claiming dozens of lives.

    On Wednesday, roadside bombings in various parts of the city and a drive-by shooting killed eight people and wounded 28 — a grimly routine toll for the capital.

    Last month, according to U.N. figures, 490 civilians were killed and 1,157 were wounded in Iraq — figures that include the federal police, civil defense forces and personal security details. Baghdad was the worst affected, with 299 civilians killed and 785 wounded.

    Baghdad has at times resembled a labyrinth of blast walls, which first began appearing after the 2003 invasion and remain outside government offices, banks, police stations, schools, hospitals and university campuses.

    The prime minister’s office, his Cabinet offices, western embassies and U.N. agencies are located in the “Green Zone,” a heavily protected and walled-off swath of land on the west bank of the Tigris.

    Many of the city’s neighborhoods are also walled off, dissecting the capital and standing as a grim reminder of the Sunni-Shiite violence that almost plunged Iraq into civil war in 2006 and 2007.

    Maan said the Baghdad wall and trench will be built by the military’s Engineering Corps about 30 kilometers (20 miles) from the city center and will reduce the number of checkpoints inside the city by 50 percent in six months.

    Reducing the number of checkpoints would free up thousands of troops and police for combat duties and ease the city’s horrendous traffic.

    http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/iraq-building-wall-trench-capital-36690855

  26. So it begins here: U.S. city ‘overrun’ with criminal refugees

    Amarillo was recently named the fifth most dangerous city in Texas, according to FBI crime statistics, up from sixth last year. And it has been nationally recognized as having one of the highest rates of rape in the nation.

    That’s a dubious distinction that Sherman believes is tied to the high number of Muslim refugees shipped there by the U.S. government.

    http://www.wnd.com/2016/02/so-it-begins-here-u-s-city-overrun-with-criminal-refugees/

  27. Jihadists Caught Posing as Refugees Fuel Alarm

    Since May, more than 40 suspected jihadists have been caught entering Europe while posing as Syrian war refugees, according to a firm with expertise on international terrorism. Worried observers anticipate more infiltration attempts, especially when warmer spring weather brings an expected increase in migration.

    http://www.voanews.com/content/jihadists-caught-posing-as-refugees-fuel-alarm/3173533.html

  28. Wa Po – John Kerry keeps calling the Islamic State ‘apostates.’ Maybe he should stop.

    There may be no more globally divisive question over the past few years than whether the Islamic State is representative of the world’s global Muslim population or not. Speaking in Rome on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry waded into this controversial debate yet again – and took a remarkably strong position for a Western leader.

    “Daesh is in fact nothing more than a mixture of killers, of kidnappers, of criminals, of thugs, of adventurers, of smugglers and thieves,” Kerry said. “And they are also above all apostates, people who have hijacked a great religion and lie about its real meaning and lie about its purpose and deceive people in order to fight for their purposes.”

    The use of the word “apostates” – a term to describe someone who renounces or abandons their religion – has raised eyebrows among observers. The description has been commonly used by extremist groups: The Islamic State has justified its attacks on Muslims with rhetoric that suggests these Muslims were apostates, which they view as a crime punishable by death.

    On Twitter, Nasser Weddady, a popular online activist who grew up in Syria, mocked Kerry for his comment. Wedaddy and others also jokingly suggested that Kerry was a “takfiri,” a word used to describe a Sunni Muslim who accuses others of apostasy.

    I’m confused, I thought John Kerry is a roman catholic. Has he converted to Islam without telling us? t ( . )co/Rhepido2gU

    — weddady (@weddady) February 2, 2016

    I wanna know how the US ended up with a takfiri Shaikh running the state department..

    — weddady (@weddady) February 2, 2016

    This appears to be at least the second time Kerry has publicly used the word to describe the Islamic State. While talking about the group at a conference in Washington in December, Kerry described the group as a “a mixture of killers and kidnappers, smugglers, thieves, and apostates who have hijacked a religion and combined a medieval thinking with modern weapons to wage an especially savage brand of war.”

    Back then, Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and expert in Islamist movements, had explained why he felt Kerry’s use of the word was problematic.

    4. Use of word “apostate” by Kerry also underscores worrying tendency of US officials to opine on internal Muslim theological matters 🙂 🙂 🙂

    — Shadi Hamid (@shadihamid) December 15, 2015

    Few would argue with Kerry’s intentions here. He clearly seems to be attempting to distance the Islamic State from mainstream Muslims, a reasonable and perhaps even honorable reaction to the more inflammatory comments by some of his peers.

    In fact, the use of the term apostate is just Kerry’s latest bid to create that rhetorical distance. The secretary of state has been a prominent Western user of the word Daesh, an Arabic acronym widely used to refer to the Islamic State in the Middle East. Supporters of the use of that word say that they use it as it creates a clearer boundary between the “Islamic State” and the broader Islamic community (another factor in its use may be the reports that the Islamic State itself hates the word due to its similarity to another Arabic word meaning to trample or crush).

    Kerry isn’t the only Western leader attempting this line of attack: Obama has openly said that the Islamic State is “not Islamic,” while British Prime Minister David Cameron has voiced his support for the viral “You ain’t no Muslim, bruv” catchphrase. The theological line of thinking from non-Muslims seems to leave a bad taste in some mouths, however. Hamid and his Brooking colleague Will McCants have written that there’s “something odd about an American president or Secretary of State opining on what is and isn’t legitimately Islamic.”

    Some world leaders seem to concur: In a recent interview with my colleague Ishaan Tharoor, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull suggested that no-one would take his views on Islamic theology (“assuming I had any”) very seriously as he was the leader of a “Western secular nation.”

    It’s unclear why Kerry has felt the need to ratchet up his rhetoric recently. It’s not like the world is wanting for examples of Muslim leaders and figures condemning the Islamic State as un-Islamic – it’s been a recurring and widespread criticism of the group for years now. However, important religious bodies like the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo have stopped short of labeling the group apostates – perhaps aware of the weight the word carries. Presumably, the secretary of state doesn’t actually think apostasy is a crime, which makes the choice of words even more confusing.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/02/03/john-kerry-keeps-calling-the-islamic-state-apostates-maybe-he-should-stop

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