Reader’s links for Feb. 12 – 2016

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

64 Replies to “Reader’s links for Feb. 12 – 2016”

  1. ‘Child’ migrant who killed asylum centre worker is an adult, Swedish migration rules

    The asylum seeker who stabbed the 22-year-old in Sweden in January is not 15 years old as he claims

    ’15-year-old’ Somali who stabbed Swedish social worker to death at children’s refugee centre IS over 18, says Migration Agency

  2. Russia warns of ‘new world war’ starting in Syria
    Foreign and defence ministers of the leading international states are meeting in Munich and Brussels following the collapse of the latest round of peace talks

    Russia warned of “a new world war” starting in Syria on Thursday after a dramatic day in which Gulf states threatened to send in ground forces.

    Foreign and defence ministers of the leading international states backing different factions in the war-torn country met in separate meetings in Munich and Brussels following the collapse of the latest round of peace talks.

    Both Russia and the United States demanded ceasefires in the long-running civil war so that the fight could be concentrated against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) – but each on their own, conflicting terms.

  3. EXCLUSIVE: Cops investigating second anti-white attack in Brooklyn this week: ‘This is for Malcolm X, cracka’

    Police are investigating a second anti-white bias incident in Brooklyn where the attacker called his victim “cracka,” the Daily News has learned.

    A 51-year-old white man told cops he was on Nostrand Ave. near Glenwood Road in East Flatbush when a black man ran up and knocked him to the ground about 5:40 p.m. Monday.

    “This is for Malcolm X, cracka,” the brute said before storming off

  4. Trust: U.S. doesn’t know where enriched uranium shipped from Iran is; ‘Russian custody’ issue

    Doveryay, no proveryay. Trust, but verify. These words of a Russian proverb were Reagan’s slogan in negotiating arms-reduction agreements with the former Soviet Union.

    Obama has deployed the “trust but verify” reference more than once in his public statements on foreign policy – including his pitch on the Iran “nuclear deal” in July 2015.

    But as with most other things related to that “deal,” the aspect of actually tracking what happens to Iran’s stock of low-enriched uranium (LEU) – a stockpile big enough for half a dozen nuclear weapons – has gone by the wayside.

    Iran shipped nearly 9 tons of LEU to Russia in December 2015, and now the U.S. doesn’t know where it is.

    A State Department official told lawmakers Thursday he was unsure of the precise location of tons of low-enriched uranium shipped out of Iran on a Russian vessel as part of the landmark nuclear agreement.

    Doveryay, no proveryay. Trust, but verify. These words of a Russian proverb were Reagan’s slogan in negotiating arms-reduction agreements with the former Soviet Union.

    Obama has deployed the “trust but verify” reference more than once in his public statements on foreign policy – including his pitch on the Iran “nuclear deal” in July 2015.

    But as with most other things related to that “deal,” the aspect of actually tracking what happens to Iran’s stock of low-enriched uranium (LEU) – a stockpile big enough for half a dozen nuclear weapons – has gone by the wayside.

    Iran shipped nearly 9 tons of LEU to Russia in December 2015, and now the U.S. doesn’t know where it is.

    A State Department official told lawmakers Thursday he was unsure of the precise location of tons of low-enriched uranium shipped out of Iran on a Russian vessel as part of the landmark nuclear agreement.

  5. Iran publicly admits that supporting terrorism against Israel is state policy

    An Iranian foreign ministry spokesman was not too bashful to admit that Iran is a proud sponsor of terrorism against Israel, dismissing claims that Iran ceased support of Hamas in 2009.

    Hossein Jaberi Ansari’s assertion came in response to a report in late January that a high-ranking Hamas official was heard recently criticizing Iran during a phone call, claiming Hamas had not received support from Iran in the better part of a decade.

    Said Ansari, affirming the Islamic republic’s support

  6. Pakistan: 97 militants involved in Karachi Airport attack arrested

    Pakistani Army Forces arrested 97 militants, including three commanders, officials announced on Friday. Following the arrest, a jailbreak attempt aimed at freeing the killer of US journalist Daniel Pearl was foiled.

    SOT, Asim Saleem Bajwa, Pakistani Director General Inter-Service Public Relations (Urdu): “This group was invloved in the Karachi airport attack a year ago. The attempt of jail break in Karachi – it was the same group involved, you may remember, a police office Aslam Chaudhry was assassinated and the same group did that.”

    SOT, Asim Saleem Bajwa, Pakistani Director General Inter-Service Public Relations (Urdu): “After the investigation had been completed, we neutralised the whole group. You have seen all the major incidents of terrorism in Karachi, these groups were involved in those incidents and they had planned that, they executed all this.”

    • Pakistan: We Arrested 97 Militants, Foiled Jailbreak Plot (nbcnews, Feb 12, 2016)

      “Pakistan’s army said Friday it arrested 97 militants from al Qaeda and another militant group, and foiled a plot to break the killers of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl out of jail.

      The militants arrested in the southern city of Karachi included three commanders, according to the army, as well as members of the Islamist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

      The men are accused of involvement in major attacks on two Pakistani air bases, Karachi’s airport, several regional intelligence headquarters and police installations between 2009 and 2015, the military said.

      The LeJ’s Naeem Bokhari and Sabir Khan, as well as Farooq Bhatti, deputy chief of al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), were captured by Pakistani forces in recent raids, military spokesman Lieutenant General Asim Bajwa said.

      “Our conclusion is that all of the terrorist groups are trying to cooperate with each other in order to carry out terrorist attacks,” he told a news conference….”

    • All terrorist groups working in collusion to launch attacks: Bajwa (tribune, Feb 12, 2016)

      “Around 97 al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militants, including three commanders, were arrested in Karachi and a planned attack to break US journalist Daniel Pearl’s killer out of jail was foiled, Director General Inter-Service Public Relations Lt-Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa said on Friday.

      The men are accused of involvement in major attacks on two air bases, the Karachi airport, several regional intelligence headquarters and on police installations between 2009 and 2015, DG ISPR said.

      The LeJ’s Naeem Bokhari and Sabir Khan, as well as Farooq Bhatti, deputy chief of al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), were captured by forces in recent raids, military spokesperson Lieutenant General Asim Bajwa said.

      “Our conclusion is that all of the terrorist groups are trying to cooperate with each other in order to carry out terrorist attacks,” he told a news conference.

      The LeJ and AQIS had been working “in collusion” with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Bajwa added. Bajwa declined to give details of the raids, including their timing.

      Several of those arrested, including Bokhari, were in the advanced stages of planning a jailbreak attempt on the Hyderabad Central Jail, Bajwa said.

      Khalid Omar Sheikh, who kidnapped and killed the Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Pearl in 2002, is being held at that jail and was to be released during the raid, he said. Six suicide bombers had been enlisted in the attack plan, in addition to 19 involved in facilitating it, Bajwa said. More than 350 kg of explosives had been recovered from a building believed to be a hideout, he said. Video images of the building showed blue plastic barrels filled with explosives, washing machines that had been used to transport arms and ammunition, long lengths of detonating cord and dozens of ball bearings.

      The footage also showed several rifles that Bajwa said had been stolen from police in earlier targeted attacks. “This plan was 90 percent ready for execution,” he added.

      “Rangers carried out as many as 7,000 targeted operations in Karachi and 6,000 militants out of over 12,000 arrested by the military have been handed over to the police,” he said, adding the achievements of the Pakistan Army lie in successfully wiping out militant hideouts from the country especially those in Fata.

      He went on to say that the effects of Zarb-e-Azb were not limited to the country but the entire region.

      The DG ISPR claimed that since the launch of military operations in the country, there has been significant respite in kidnappings, murders, snatching and other crimes which were at their peak before the start of the operation. “In September 2013, when the Rangers operation began in Karachi, terrorism was at its peak.”

      Further, Bajwa pointed out that some factions of the society had raised concerns before the start of the military operation fearing it will create backlash in the country. “13,212 operations have been carried out by intelligence agencies,” he said.

      Regarding assassination of Karachi Police SSP Chaudhry Aslam and Karachi airport attack, Bajwa said these attacks were carried out by al Qaeda’s South Asia network, claiming the group’s commander handled those attacks from Afghan soil.

      Bajwa also showed a map of the Hyderabad Jail which he said was prepared by terrorists with the help of a police constable at the prison and revealed they intended to jailbreak. “Three terrorists, including a police constable, who helped terrorists make this map, have been apprehended and are being interrogated by intelligence agencies.”

      During the presser, the DG ISPR showed a video of a terrorists’ compound with a huge quantity of explosives, communication equipment and material. “Weapons have been recovered in Hyderabad jail break attempt. Recoveries include machines to grind explosives and make explosive material, vehicles, ball bearings, police and military uniforms, backpacks and communication equipment,” he said.

      Regarding terror activities in Karachi, Bajwa said there has been 70 per cent respite in terrorism in the metropolis whereas cases of extortion have been reduced by 80 per cent.

      The DG ISPR went on to say that Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif visited Karachi multiple times and spent days in the city to oversee the operation, suggesting implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) should be sped up to reduce terrorism.”

  7. France: Hollande ‘demands’ that Russian actions in Syria stop

    French President Francois Hollande was interviewed by journalists Gilles Birch and David Pujadas at the Palace of Elysee in Paris on Thursday. When answering questions, Hollande said that “we’re facing a situation where there are very serious risks” in Syria. Despite the fact that France “intervened [in Syria] and still does,” the French president demanded “Russian actions” to stop “because we have today thousands of people who move because of airstrikes.”

      • ‘Russians made peace possible’: Ex-NATO military committee chief praises Syria op (RT, Feb 12, 2016)

        “Russia was the first to do the groundwork for peace in Syria by launching its anti-ISIS operation, while both Washington and Brussels lacked any kind of strategy, the ex-chairman of NATO’s Military Committee has said.

        Lieutenant General Harald Kujat, who was chief of staff of the German Bundeswehr in 2000-2002 and served as NATO’s Military Committee chairman in 2002-2005, made the comments on the Syrian crisis in an interview with Passauer Neue Presse newspaper.

        “The Russians have made the peace process [in Syria] possible,” he told the newspaper on Friday.

        The West was at standstill until September 2015, Kujat stressed: “Neither the Americans nor the Europeans had any strategy for a peaceful Syria. Both weren’t prepared to be really involved. The Russians did it and opened a window for political solution.”

        The Russian operation was crucial for the Syrian Army on the ground to survive Islamic State’s (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) offensive and prevent the entire country from being seized by Islamist militants, he said.

        “I gave them several weeks [to last before being defeated]. Then Syria would have collapsed, with IS capturing the country. The next target would be Lebanon, then Israel. It could result in far-reaching consequences for all of us.”

        According to Kujat, Russian air support for the Syrian Army’s operation to re-take Aleppo was essential from a military perspective.

        Earlier in February, Kujat, who started his military career in the German Air Force, dismissed possible NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) deployment to Syria as purposeless.

        “NATO decides nothing in the Syrian civil war with a few AWACS aircraft,” he told Neue Osnabrucker Zeitung. “To really beat IS, ground forces are required. The question is whether NATO really wants to step into this war.”

        Russia’s anti-IS air campaign has been frequently criticized by the West, who accuse Moscow of targeting Syrian “moderate” opposition forces and stalling the peace talks. The Russian Defense Ministry has repeatedly dismissed the accusations and has dubbed the US-led strikes inefficient, while Russian diplomats have pointed out that Washington’s Syrian strategy seems to be playing into IS’ hands.”

    • Top German general praises Russian bombing in Syria (thelocal, Feb 12, 2016)

      “Russian bombing in Syria against opponents of the brutal regime of President Bashar al-Assad has “enabled the peace process” to get started, a former top-ranked German general said on Friday.

      “With its military intervention, Russia has enabled the peace process,” Harald Kujat, former chief of staff of the Bundeswehr (German army) told the Passauer Neue Presse.

      Kujat argues that the Syrian civil war was in a deadlock until September 2015, and that “neither the Americans nor the Europeans had a strategy for a peaceful Syria, nor were they ready to engage massively.

      “The Russians have done that and created a window for a political solution,” he believes.

      Syrian regime forces were close to the brink of defeat before Russian intervention, Kujat added.

      “I would only have given them a few more weeks. Then Syria would have collapsed and Isis would have taken over the country.”

      According to Kujat, Isis could then have targeted attacks against Lebanon and even Israel, with “far-reaching consequences” for Germany and the West.

      The retired general also dismisses western governments’ allegations that Russia has sought to deliberately worsen the situation of civilians in Aleppo, where its aircraft are supporting an offensive by pro-regime troops.

      “Putin’s goal is to support the advance of Syrian troops towards Isis areas. Aleppo has been a block on this route, because the city was held by the Syrian opposition.”

      Kujat’s remarks come on the same day as western nations, Russia and regional powers agreed a tentative plan for a ceasefire in Syria at talks in Munich.

      The German Foreign Ministry spoke of “new hope” and “real perspectives” for the people of Syria after the agreement reached in the small hours of Friday morning.

      But Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier referred to “the experiences of the past” when negotiating deals with Russia – likely a veiled reference to President Vladimir Putin’s failure to enforce ceasefire agreements reached in Ukraine.”

  8. Schengen zone: EU gives Greece deadline on borders (BBC, Feb 12, 2016)

    “The European Union has given Greece three months to fix its border controls, in a move that could allow other Schengen zone states to maintain internal border controls.

    Two weeks ago, a draft report found that Greece had “seriously neglected” its obligations to control the external frontier of the border-free zone.

    Some EU states have re-imposed border controls on a temporary basis.

    More than 850,000 migrants and refugees arrived in Greece last year…”

  9. The Latest: Austria Says It’s Nearly Full for 2016 (abcnews, Feb 12, 2016)

    “… Austria ‘s foreign minister says the country has nearly reached the maximum number of refugees it proposes to accept this year, and will then proceed to close its borders to all migrants.

    Sebastian Kurz says he expects the limit of 37,500 refugees to be reached “within a month.”

    After that, Austria will stop refugees at its border, he said Friday.

    Speaking during a visit to Macedonia, Kurz conceded that the move will “surely have an impact” on countries further south in the Balkans, which refugees and economic migrants traverse to reach wealthy European countries.

    Kurz said Macedonia must also be ready to close its border with Greece to migrants — who reach Greece in hundreds of thousands by boat from Turkey — and he offered police and military assistance to Macedonia….”

  10. Protesters cheer on ‘refugee attack’ suspects (thelocal, Feb 12, 2016)

    “Around 100 people spent Friday morning gathered outside a Swedish court where a group of men planning a violent attack at refugee housing were appearing.

    The protest delayed detention hearings for the 14 suspects linked to an an alleged plan to target refugees living in asylum housing on a campsite in Nynäshamn, a small town in a rural area south of Stockholm.

    Officers rounded up the group on Monday night in cars close to the accommodation, which is home to some 100 men, women and children. Batons, knives, iron bars and axes were found in the suspects’ vehicles.

    Three of the men were formally arrested, while a 17-year-old was questioned and released.

    Police have previously revealed that the suspects have Polish and Ukranian citizenship. Some are understood to live and work in Sweden while others are believed to have been staying in the country temporarily.

    “They belong to the far-right sphere,” police spokesman Lars Alvarsjö told public broadcaster Swedish Radio on Tuesday.

    Meanwhile Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet said on Friday that it had learned of a Facebook group run by anti-immigration extremists, which had put out a call to action ahead of the alleged plot.

    “There is information that refugees who attacked a girl from our country live on a campsite by the beach in Nynäshamn. I’m looking for volunteer guys who can go with me to get there from the centre at 17:00,” it reported the post as saying.

    The editor of Swedish anti-racism magazine Expo, Mikael Färnbo, told the TT newswire earlier this week that its staff had previously observed close links between far-right communities in Sweden and Eastern Europe.

    “In general terms alone we can say that we know that there are connections,” he said.

    Last month, dozens of masked men believed to belong to hooligan or neo-Nazi gangs gathered in central Stockholm and distributed leaflets calling for attacks on young migrants.

    Three of the 14 men arrested in connection with the alleged asylum accommodatio plot were involved in the January incident, Alvarsjö told the AFP news agency.”

  11. Syria: Russian PM warns of world war if troops sent in (aljazeera, Feb 12, 2016)

    “Dmitry Medvedev tells German paper proposal to send Arab ground forces to fight ISIL “draws everyone” into war.

    Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has warned that the deployment of foreign ground troops in the Syrian conflict could result in a world war.

    Medvedev was quoted as saying in an interview published late on Thursday by the German newspaper Handelsblatt that “a ground operation draws everyone taking part in it into a war”.

    When asked about a recent proposal from Saudi Arabia to send in ground troops to Syria, the Russian prime minister answered that “the Americans and our Arab partners must consider whether or not they want a permanent war”.

    Al Jazeera’s Rory Challands, reporting from Moscow, said Medvedev’s comments were an explicit warning to the United States and its regional allies, including Saudi Arabia.

    “He basically told them to back off on sending troops because if they did, this might result in some sort of interminable or even a world war,” Challands said.

    Medvedev also criticised Western powers’ refusal to collaborate with Russia in Syria. The prime minister said ties at the level of defence departments were only sporadic.

    US defence chief Ashton Carter, meanwhile, welcomed a commitment from Saudi Arabia to expand its role with ground troops in Syria against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.

    At a gathering of more than two dozen defence ministers at NATO headquarters, Carter said on Friday key ally the United Arab Emirates agreed to send special forces soldiers to Syria to assist in the development of local Sunni Arab fighters focused on recapturing Raqqa, ISIL’s de facto capital.

    Carter declined to say how many Emirati commandos would go to Syria. He said they would be part of an effort led by the US and bolstered by Saudi special forces to train and enable local Arab fighters who are motivated to recapture Raqqa.

    Saudi Arabia’s Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri said his country was ready to send troops into Syria if there was a consensus in the anti-ISIL coalition. But he declined to elaborate, saying: “It is too early to talk about such options. Today we are talking at the strategic level.”

    Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov intends to meet with his Saudi counterpart Adil al-Ahmad al-Jubayr in Munich, Germany on Friday, a Russian news report said.

    Vyacheslav Matuzov, a former Russian diplomat, told Al Jazeera that Russia was not fuelling the Syrian conflict, rather it had prevented it from spreading…”

  12. France says it’s time to move migrants from Calais camp (thelocal, Feb 12, 2016)

    “French authorities announced on Friday a plan to clear around 1,000 migrants out of the squalid camp known as “the jungle”.

    The Pas-de-Calais prefect Fabienne Buccio said that they plan to evacuate around half of the migrant camp on the outskirts of the northern port town.

    “The time has come to move on, no one must live in the southern part of the camp, everyone must leave this section,” said Buccio, the national’s government local representative, estimating some 800 to 1,000 migrants would be affected….”

  13. Migrant people-smuggling gang jailed in Austria (thelocal, Feb 12, 2016)

    “An Austrian court sentenced five people to jail on Thursday for smuggling some 2,000 refugees and migrants into the country last year, in what judges described as “excruciating conditions”.

    The alleged ringleader of the gang, a 43-year old Serbian national, received seven years in prison for setting up a “professional organisation” of human traffickers.

    His accomplices, who included his mother and his partner, were jailed for up to four years.

    Austrian police had arrested the five last September.

    Prosecutors at the tribunal in Korneuburg, near Vienna, accused the group of illegally transporting 2,000 people from Hungary to Austria between spring and autumn 2015.

    Dozens of migrants were crammed into small vehicles for hours without fresh air or the possibility of using a bathroom, the prosecution said.

    The gang is believed to have made €350,000 ($396,000) from their criminal activities…”

  14. German housing minister asks for 1.3 billion for refugees (DW, Feb 12, 2016)

    “Barbara Hendricks has petitioned the government for a new budget to help integration and house migrants. As a new report painted a bleak picture for Germany’s economic future, her success remained uncertain.Germany’s Federal Housing Minister Barbara Hendricks joined the ever-louder cabinet chorus in Berlin on Friday by calling for a drastic increase in the budget for asylum seeker accommodation and city development projects. The Social Democrat (SPD) lawmaker called for 1.3 billion euros ($1.46 billion) in extra funding for these areas.

    “I want to prevent competition from arising between natives and refugees for housing,” Hendricks said, in quotes carried by newspapers within the “Funke Mediengruppe” media organization. “Whether integration is working or not will be decided in our cities and towns,” she added, saying that affordable housing for all was one of the most important prerequisites for success.

    According to the reports, the billion euros currently budgeted for such projects was already doubled to a billion euros for the time period from 2016 to 2019.

    Hendricks’ call followed a similar one by her fellow SPD cabinet member Andrea Nahles, who heads the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. On Thursday she petitioned the government for nearly half a billion euros to create jobs for asylum seekers whose applications are accepted. In a speech announcing her request, Nahles warned of the risks – both for refugees and natives – of long term unemployment.

    “So far, people have had to sit around with nothing to do for 12 months at a time,” she said. “This creates tension for everyone. We must act as quickly as possible.” Such a move, Nahles said, was only possible with the support of Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble of the Christian Democrats (CDU).

    She warned, however, that the funds should not come from those set up to help the long-term unemployed German natives….”

  15. ISIS loyalists attempting to establish base of operations in Nangarhar (khaama, Feb 12, 2016)

    “The loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and syria (ISIS) terrorist group in Afghanistan are attempting to establish a base operations in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

    Army Brig. Gen. Wilson Shoffner, deputy chief of staff for communications for NATO’s Resolute Support Mission, said the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is operating in four or five remote districts of Nangarhar province.

    He was briefing reports via a video conference from Afghanistan on Thursday.

    “We’re seeing [ISIL] attempting to establish a base of operations there,” he said. “Afghan security forces have had quite a bit of success against them,” Gen. Shoffner said.

    He also added that the U.S. forces have also stepped up attacks on ISIL after being given additional authorities to go after the group, the general said…”

  16. US launched 20 airstrikes against ISIS militants in Afghanistan in 3 weeks (khaama, Feb 12, 2016)

    “The United States Forces in Afghanistan have carried out at least 20 airstrikes targeting the loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group in the past three weeks, it has been reported.

    The US forces have increased air raids on the loyalists of the terror group after the Obama administration granted new authority last month, allowing the U.S. commanders in Afghanistan launch airstrikes against militants in the same way that the military targets fighters linked to al-Qaida.
    The move by the Obama administration followed shortly after the U.S. Department of State designated the Khorasan branch of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as a terrorist organization.

    According to the US officials quoted by The Associated Press, the airstrikes were carried out in eastern parts of the country in the past three weeks.

    There have been growing concerns that the loyalists of the terror group are attempting to expand foothold in the country as they try to establish a regional base of operations in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

    Army Brig. Gen. Wilson A. Shoffner told reporters that 1,000 to 3,000 Islamic State fighters in eastern Afghanistan are trying to establish a base of operations in the rugged mountains of Nangahar Province.

    He said the loyalists of the terror group are operating in four or five remote districts of Nangarhar province.

    “We’re seeing [ISIL] attempting to establish a base of operations there,” he said. “Afghan security forces have had quite a bit of success against them,” Gen. Shoffner said.”

  17. 22 militants killed in counter-terrorism operations led by Afghan army (khaama, Feb 12, 2016)

    “At least 22 anti-government armed militants were killed in the latest counter-terrorism operations conducted jointly by the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).

    The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said the operations were conducted in the past 24 hours in nine different provinces.

    A statement by MoD said at least 11 anti-government armed militants were also injured during the same operations.

    According to MoD, the operations were conducted in Padkhwab Shana district of Logar, Nader Shah Kot district of Khost, Syedabad district of Wardak, Zherai and Ghorak districts of Kandahar, Chora district of Uruzgan.

    Guzara, Injil, Zendjan, Ghoryan and Karkh districts of Herat, Dahana-e-Ghori and Dand-e-Ghori Shahabuddin areas of Baghlan, Dehdai district of Balkh, Orgu district of Badakhshan, and Sangin district of Helmand province.

    At least five soldiers of the Afghan National Army (ANA) forces also lost their lives during the same operations, MoD said.

    The anti-government armed militant groups have not commented regarding the reports so far.

    The Afghan national security forces have doubled counter-insurgency operations across the country amid rampant Taliban-led insurgency during the recent months.”

  18. Suspected militants kill three in mortar attack on U.N. base in Mali (reuters, Feb 12, 2016)

    “Suspected Islamist militants attacked a U.N. base in the northern Mali town of Kidal with mortars and machine guns on Friday, killing three peacekeepers and wounding 30, United Nations and separatist sources said.

    The attack is a fresh sign of instability in the desert region that is home to Islamist groups including al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb who have staged increasingly bold raids in recent months and have targeted the U.N. base several times.

    “At about 7 a.m. (4 a.m. ET) the MINUSMA base in Kidal was the target of a complex attack which, according to provisional figures, caused the death of three blue helmets and around 30 wounded,” Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the Mali representative of the U.N. secretary general, said in a statement.

    Eight mortar shells were fired at the base and there was also gunfire, said Olivier Salgado, a spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping mission, whose acronym is MINUSMA.

    The base is part of an attempt by the United Nations to end violence in Mali following a takeover of the north by Islamists in 2012. A year later a French-led intervention force pushed the militants out of key towns in the region.

    The U.N. mission has not stopped the violence and Islamist militants have expanded their attacks in recent months into other parts of Mali and beyond…”

  19. Thousands of Iraqi refugees leave Finland voluntarily (reuters, Feb 12, 2016)

    “Thousands of Iraqi refugees who arrived in Finland last year have decided to cancel their asylum applications and to return home voluntarily, citing family issues and disappointment with life in the frosty Nordic country.

    Europe is in the grip of its worst migrant crisis since World War Two, with more than a million people arriving last year, fleeing wars and poverty in the Middle East and beyond.

    Germany and Finland’s neighbor Sweden have taken in many of the migrants but Finland too saw the number of asylum seekers increase nearly tenfold in 2015 to 32,500 from 3,600 in 2014.

    Almost two thirds of the asylum seekers last year were young Iraqi men, but some are now having second thoughts, so Finland will begin chartering flights to Baghdad from next week to take them home.

    Officials said about 4,100 asylum seekers had so far canceled their applications and that number was likely to reach 5,000 in the coming months.

    “My baby boy is sick, I need to get back home,” said Alsaedi Hussein, buying a flight back to Baghdad at a small travel agency in Helsinki.

    Somalia-born Muhiadin Hassan who runs the travel agency said he was now selling 15 to 20 flights to Baghdad every day.

    “It’s been busy here for the past few months,” he said.

    A majority of the home-bound migrants have told immigration services they want to return to their families, but some expressed disappointment with life in Finland.

    “Some say the conditions in Finland and the lengthy asylum process did not meet their expectations, or what they had been told by the people they paid for their travel,” said Tobias van Treeck, program officer at the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

    Echoing that comment, travel agent Hassan said: “Some say they don’t like the food here, it’s too cold or they don’t feel welcome in Finland. There are many reasons.”

    Nearly 80 percent of the migrants returning home are Iraqis. Just 22 of the 877 Syrians – whose country is racked by civil war – and 35 of the 5,214 Afghans who sought asylum in Finland last year have asked to return to their home country.

    Along with other Nordic states, Finland has recently tightened its immigration policies, for example requiring working-age asylum seekers to do some unpaid work.

    Hostility to migrants has also increased in Finland, a country with little experience of mass immigration and which now has economic problems…”

  20. Saudi Arabia asks UN to move aid workers in Yemen away from rebel-held areas (middleeasteye, Feb 12, 2016)

    “Saudi Arabia has asked the United Nations to move aid workers away from rebel-held areas in Yemen as the Riyadh-led coalition presses on with air strikes against the Houthis and their allies, according to a letter seen by AFP on Thursday.

    The UN flatly rejected the request and reminded Saudi Arabia of its obligations to allow humanitarian access in Yemen, where coalition warplanes have been pounding Shia Houthi rebels for nearly a year.

    UN aid chief Stephen O’Brien said in a letter to Saudi Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi that relief organisations were “delivering life-saving assistance as per internationally recognised principles and will continue to do so.”

    Responding to O’Brien, the ambassador renewed the coalition’s request that “humanitarian and relief organisations relocate from areas close to bases for military operations by Houthis and supporters’ of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

    “The coalition’s request is consistent with its obligations under international humanitarian law, and, in no way, can be misinterpreted to indicate any hindrance to humanitarian access and the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Yemen,” wrote Mouallimi on Monday.

    The UN has had several disputes with Saudi Arabia over aid access in Yemen, where 80 percent of the population is facing dire food shortages…”

  21. Taxi driver who planned to go to Syria with jihadi bride found guilty of terror offences (express, Feb 12, 2016)

    “A TAXI driver who planned to leave his family for a new life in Syria has been found guilty of terror offences at the Old Bailey.

    Naseer Taj, 26, planned to leave his heavily pregnant wife and young son in Britain and head off for a new life in Syria with a jihadi bride.

    Taj was “caught red-handed” in late December 2014 as he finalised his preparations to join the self-proclaimed Islamic State and achieve martyrdom.

    He made no reaction when he was found guilty of preparation of terrorists acts and two counts of possessing terrorist information following a trial at the Old Bailey.

    He made no reaction when he was found guilty of preparation of terrorists acts and two counts of possessing terrorist information following a trial at the Old Bailey….”

  22. Thief is maimed for life in Raqqa where brutal ISIS Sharia law judges chop off his hand (dailymail, Feb 12, 2016)

    “An accused thief has had his right hand cut off with a meat cleaver in the ISIS ‘capital’ of Raqqa as punishment for his crime.

    The photos, which all have identical captions in Arabic, say that it shows the ‘implementation of the punishment of a thief from Raqqa city’.

    Surrounded by up to 50 men and boys and held in place by two ISIS enforcers, the man is forced to his knees as his right hand, wrapped in white bandages, is placed on a wooden desk before it is cut off and put into a white plastic bag.

    It is less than a week since ISIS militants carried out a similar punishment on a man in Mosul, Iraq.

    Cutting off the right hand as a punishment for theft is a strict interpretation of Sharia law, carried out by the so-called Islamic State, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

    It comes as US Defense Secretary Ash Carter has predicted that recent US-led efforts to accelerate the fight against ISIS would produce ‘tangible gains’ in Iraq and Syria by March, even as he urged coalition partners to expand and deepen their military contributions…”

  23. MUNICH – Al-Jubeir: Claiming ‘Daesh’ is Islamic has nothing to do with reality

    Islamic State militants will only be defeated if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is removed from power and this goal will ultimately be achieved, the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia said on Friday.

    Speaking at a security conference in Munich, Adel al-Jubeir called Assad the “single most effective magnet for extremists and terrorists in the region” and said his removal was crucial for restoring stability.

    “That’s our objective and we will achieve it,” he said. “Unless and until there is a change in Syria, Daesh will not be defeated in Syria, period,” he added, using the Arab name for Islamic State.

    19 min video on the page :

    • Saudi FM says objective in Syria is removal of Assad, and ‘we will achieve it’ – Al-Arabiya

      Saudi minister: Assad must go to allow IS defeat

      Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister is insisting that Syrian President Bashar Assad must go to make it possible to defeat the Islamic State group in Syria. He says that “we will achieve” political change in the country.

      Adel al-Jubeir addressed the Munich Security Conference on Friday after joining foreign ministers from global and regional powers in agreeing to seek a temporary “cessation of hostilities” in Syria.

      Al-Jubeir said his country is working for political change in order to remove “a man who is the single most effective magnet for extremists and terrorists in the region.” He said “that’s our objective and we will achieve it.”

      “Unless and until there is a change in Syria, Daesh will not be defeated in Syria,” he added, using the Arabic acronym for IS.

      AFP EXCLUSIVE: Assad vows to retake whole country, warns could ‘take long time’

      Damascus (AFP) – Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to retake the entire country but warned it could take a “long time,” in an exclusive interview with AFP that comes as international pressure grows for a ceasefire.

      Speaking at his office in Damascus on Thursday, Assad said he supported peace talks, but that negotiations do “not mean that we stop fighting terrorism”.

      He said a major Russian-backed government offensive under way in the northern province of Aleppo was aimed mainly at severing the opposition’s supply route from Turkey.

      Assad said he saw a risk that Turkey and Saudi Arabia, key backers of the opposition, would intervene militarily in Syria.

      He also addressed the massive flow of refugees from his country, saying it was up to Europe to stop “giving cover to terrorists” so that Syrians could return home.

      Assad rejected UN allegations of regime war crimes, describing them as “politicised” and lacking evidence.

      With air support from key ally Russia and backing by pro-government fighters, regime troops have nearly encircled Aleppo, Syria’s second city.

      Assad said his regime’s eventual goal was to retake all of Syria, large swathes of which are under the control of rebel forces or the Islamic State jihadist group.

      “Regardless of whether we can do that or not, this is a goal we are seeking to achieve without any hesitation,” he said.

      “It makes no sense for us to say that we will give up any part,” he added.

      Assad said it would be possible to “put an end to this problem in less than a year” if opposition supply routes from Turkey, Jordan and Iraq were cut.

      But, if not, he said, “the solution will take a long time and will incur a heavy price.”

      – First comments since failed talks –

      The interview with Assad is the first he has given since the effective collapse of a new round of peace talks in Geneva earlier this month.

      The talks are officially “paused” until February 25, and 17 nations agreed early Friday on an ambitious plan intended to bolster efforts for new negotiations.

      The plan would see a cessation of hostilities implemented in as little as a week, and also demands humanitarian aid access to all of Syria.

      Assad said his government has “fully believed in negotiations and in political action since the beginning of the crisis.”

      “However, if we negotiate, it does not mean that we stop fighting terrorism. The two tracks are inevitable in Syria.”

      The Aleppo offensive has been the main focus of Syrian government troops in recent weeks.

      The regime has virtually encircled rebels in eastern parts of Aleppo city after severing their main supply line to the Turkish border.

      “The main battle is about cutting the road between Aleppo and Turkey, for Turkey is the main conduit of supplies for the terrorists,” Assad said.

      The operation has raised fears of a humanitarian crisis, with tens of thousands fleeing their homes, and many flocking to the border with Turkey seeking entry.

      The displaced could join a wave of more than four million Syrian refugees who have left the country since the conflict began in March 2011.

      Last year, many of those refugees began seeking asylum in Europe in a major crisis that has failed to slow throughout the winter.

      Assad said the blame for the influx lay at Europe’s feet.

      “I would like to ask every person who left Syria to come back,” he said.

      “They would ask ‘why should I come back? Has terrorism stopped?'”

      Instead, he urged Europe’s governments “which have been a direct cause for the emigration of these people, by giving cover to terrorists in the beginning and through sanctions imposed on Syria, to help in making the Syrians return to their country.”

  24. Given it’s Black History Month…

    Precisely 226 years ago today, a petition requesting the abolition of the slave trade was presented by abolitionist extraordinaire, Benjamin Franklin, on the 12th of February, 1790 using texts from the koran.

    Theodore Parker, author of “Historic Americans“, in which he describes founding father, Ben Franklin, abolitionist extraordinaire, quoting the koran in defending his abolition petition to Congress. You can read it online here:

    Page 27:
    You see the young nation in its infancy. “Hercules in his cradle, “ said Franklin; but with a legion of the mystic serpents about him. If the rising sun shines auspicious, yet the clouds threaten a storm, long and terrible. “

    Page 33

    VI. Franklin, an old man of eighty-four, is making ready to die. The great philosopher, the great
    statesman, he has done with philosophy and state craft, not yet ended his philanthropy. He is satisfied with having taken the thunderbolt from the sky, bringing it noiseless and harmless to the ground; he has not yet done with taking the scepter from tyrants. True, he has, by the foundation of the American state on the natural and inalienable rights of all, helped to set America free from the despotism of the British king and Parliament. None has done more for
    that. He has made the treaty with Prussia, which forbids privateering on land or sea. But now he remembers that there are some six hundred thousand African slaves in America, whose bodies are taken from their control, even in time of peace – peace to other men, to them a period of perpetual war. So in 1787, he founds a society for the abolition of slavery. He is its first President, and in that capacity signed a

    Page 34

    petition to Congress, asking “the restitution of liberty to those unhappy men, who alone in this land of freedom are degraded into perpetual bondage;” asks Congress “that you will step to the very verge of the power vested in you for discouraging every species of traffic in the persons of our fellow-men.” This petition was the last public act of Franklin, the last public document he ever signed. He had put his hand to the Declaration of Independence; to the treaties of alliance with France and Prussia; to the treaty of peace with
    Great Britain, now he signs the first petition for the abolition of slavery.

    Between 1783 and 1790 what important events had taken place! For three years he had been President of Pennsylvania, unanimously elected by the Assembly every time save the first, when one vote out of seventy-seven was cast against him. He had been a member of the Federal Convention, which made the Constitution, and, spite of what he considered to be its errors, put his name to it. Neither he, nor Washington, nor indeed any of the great men who helped to make that instrument, thought it perfect, or worshipped it as an idol. But now,
    as his last act, he seeks to correct the great fault, and blot, and vice of the American government – the only one which, in seventy-six years, has given us much trouble. The petition was presented on the 12th of February, 1790. It asked for the abolition of the

    Page 35

    slave trade, and for the emancipation of slaves. A storm followed; the South was in a rage, which lasted till near the end of March. Mr. Jackson, of Georgia, defended the “peculiar institution.” The ancient republics had slaves; the whole current of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, proved that religion was not hostile to slavery. On the 23rd of March, 1790, Franklin wrote for the National Gazette the speech in favor of the enslavement of Christians. He put it into the mouth of a member of the Divan of Algiers. It was a parody of the actual words of Mr. Jackson, of Georgia, as delivered in Congress a few days before; the text,
    however, being taken out of the Koran
    . It was one of the most witty, brilliant, and ingenious things that came from his mind. This was the last public writing of Dr. Franklin; and, with the exception of a letter to his sister and one to Mr. Jefferson, it was the last line which ran out from his fertile pen. – written only twenty-four days before his death. What a farewell it was!
    This old man, “the most rational, perhaps of all philosophers,” the most famous man in America, now in private life, waiting for the last angel to unbind his spirit and set him free from a perishing body, makes his last appearance before the American people as President of an abolition society, protesting against American slavery in the last public line he writes! One of his wittiest and most ingenious works is a plea for the bondman,

    Page 36

    adroit, masterly, short, and not to be answered. It was fit to be the last scene of such a life. Drop down the curtain before the sick old man, and let his healthy soul ascend unseen and growing.

  25. Germany: Coswig company creates toilet for refugees

    A toilet designed specifically for refugees is now a reality in Germany, with production underway at the headquarters of portable toilet manufacturer Global Fliegenschmidt in Coswig, Friday. The toilet has been designed to allow the user to squat or sit, catering for refugees from different backgrounds.

    SOT, Peter Fliegenschmidt, owner of Global Fliegenschmidt (German): “For a number of years now we have manufactured toilets in which one can squat but since the refugee wave arrived we have developed a toilet in which one can both squat and sit. The reason for this is that refugees come from different cultural backgrounds and that means that some are used to squatting but some use European-style toilets.”

    SOT, Peter Fliegenschmidt, owner of Global Fliegenschmidt (German): “Those refugees who were used to using the toilet while squatting were not comfortable with our toilets and therefore they just stood on top of it and broke the top part. From our perspective we wouldn’t explain to people how to use our toilets, which actually also works the other way around. We are not used to doing it in the way other cultural backgrounds do it. For example we are used to cleaning ourselves with paper while in most parts of the world they use water.”

  26. Nizami Ganjavi International Centre – Interfaith Meeting in Rome, January

    […]We have wit­nessed pop­ulist and extrem­ist move­ments exploit­ing and deep­en­ing the cul­tural gaps between natives and new­com­ers, very often by empha­sis­ing “cul­tural val­ues”, includ­ing reli­gious iden­ti­ties. The fact that some migrants as well as their descen­dants have ral­lied around rad­i­cal reli­gious move­ments, trav­el­ling to the Mid­dle East to fight or tak­ing up vio­lence against their adopted coun­tries in the name of their faith, exac­er­bates the feel­ing that dif­fer­ent —espe­cially Islamic — faiths are a secu­rity threat not only in the Mid­dle East, but also in Europe.[…]

  27. SLOVAKIA – BRATISLAVA – President Zeman: Europe must deport economic migrants and religious fanatics

    President Milos Zeman has said that the solution to the migrant crisis in Europe is the deportation of all economic migrants and religious fanatics. Speaking at a conference on social democracy in Bratislava, Mr. Zeman said Europe should not underestimate the danger of jihadists infiltrating the continent in the migrant wave and setting up dormant terrorist cells in Europe. The president said Europe’s Social Democrats must take responsibility for the defence of European values.



    Tschechiens Präsident Milos Zeman
    „Deportation“ von Wirtschaftsflüchtlingen ist „einzige Lösung“

    BratislavaDer tschechische Präsident Milos Zeman hat die „Deportation“ von Wirtschaftsflüchtlingen und religiösen Fanatikern gefordert. „Die einzige Lösung“ der Flüchtlingskrise sei die Ausweisung von „ökonomischen Migranten und denen, die zu religiöser Gewalt, religiösem Hass, kurz gesagt zu Terroraktionen aufrufen“, sagte er am Freitag der Agentur CTK zufolge in Bratislava.

    Zeman wiederholte seine Ansicht, islamische Migranten seien weder in die europäische Kultur integrierbar noch assimilierbar. Er warnte vor „Dschihadisten“ und „Schläferzellen“ unter den Flüchtlingen. Zeman hatte in den letzten Monaten wiederholt mit islamfeindlichen Äußerungen für Empörung gesorgt. Erst vor einer Woche hatten in Prag 1500 Menschen gegen den Islam demonstriert.[…]

  28. DENMARK – Danish imam urges govt to accept child marriages among refugees

    A high-profile imam has urged the Danish government to accept child brides, as the practice is part of the culture of many refugees arriving in the country. It follows an announcement by Denmark that such couples will be separated under Danish law.

    Imam Oussama El-Saadi, of the Aarhus mosque in Denmark, said that child brides should be looked at from a “different perspective.”

    “It is an extraordinary humanitarian situation, and I think you have to take care of these families. They’re married, and even if the man is twice as old as they have built a family. We have to accept that it is a different culture, and we cannot destroy family life,” he told Danish newspaper Metroxpres

    El-Saadi went on to explain the alleged benefits of such situations.

    “If you look at the situation in the refugee camps, it is often filled with violence and uncertainty. If your daughter marries early and gets a man, it can give the family a safer situation,” he said.

    However, he told the newspaper that he wouldn’t actually let his own daughter marry until she was 18.

    The imam’s comments follow an announcement by Danish Integration Minister Inger Støjberg, who said that Denmark would be separating child brides from their husbands.

    “It is completely unacceptable that there are currently minors within the Danish asylum system living with their spouses or partners and I have asked the Danish Immigration Service to immediately put a stop to it,” Støjberg said.

    “We should naturally ensure that young girls are not being forced to live in a relationship with an adult at the asylum centers,” she added.

    The Danish Integration Ministry revealed in January that there were 27 minors living as part of a married couple in the asylum system. An investigation by Metroxpress found brides as young as 14 living in refugee centers.

    Denmark registered 21,000 asylum applications in 2015, making it one of the top EU destinations for refugees per capita, after Finland, Austria, Germany, and Sweden.

    Meanwhile, government data from Norway shows that at least 61 minors were married when they sought asylum in the country last year, several of whom were under the country’s age of consent. The youngest was an 11-year-old girl.

    Just six months ago, a UN report on child marriages among Syrian refugees in Jordan stated that such situations leave girls vulnerable to domestic abuse, poverty, and health problems. It noted several factors responsible for child marriage, including providing protection for young girls, continuing traditions, cultural or family reasons, and serving as an escape for girls living in abusive homes.

  29. Hamas Delegates Arrive in Iran to Celebrate Anniversary of Islamic Revolution

    A high-ranking Hamas delegation visited Tehran on Thursday to participate in ceremonies marking the 37th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, the Saudi-owned pan-Arab news oulet Al Arabiya reported.

    The delegation, which will meet with senior Iranian government and military officials, included two members of Hamas’ politburo, the head of the organization’s international affairs and its representative in Tehran, Khaled Kaddoumi.

    In an interview with Iran’s pro-regime news agency Tasnim, Kaddoumi stressed the importance of the Islamic Republic’s support for Hamas, calling the relationship between them “strong and spiritual.” He also lauded Tehran for leading the opposition to Israel, while Arab countries, like Egypt, had made peace with “the Zionist enemy.”


    Hamas delegation in Iran to mark 1979 Islamic Revolution

    A Hamas delegation arrived in Tehran on Wednesday to participate in celebrations marking the anniversary of the “victory of the Islamic Revolution” in 1979.

    The delegation, which is headed by Abu Omar Nasser, is expected to hold talks with a number of senior Iranian officials, according to reports in the Iranian media.

    The visit comes despite ongoing tensions between Iran and Hamas over the latter’s refusal to support the regime of President Bashar Assad in the civil war in Syria.

    As a result of the tensions, Iran has reportedly suspended financial and military aid to Hamas.

    On the eve of the visit, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hussein Ansari announced that his country was continuing to support Palestinian “resistance” groups, including Hamas.

    An audiotape that was recently leaked to Arab media outlets featured senior Hamas official Musa Abu Marzouk strongly condemning the leaders of Iran, whom he called liars.

    Abu Marzouk is heard saying the Iranians have been lying to Hamas about everything, including dispatching weapons ships to the Gaza Strip.

  30. VATICAN RADIO Joint Declaration of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill


    5. Notwithstanding this shared Tradition of the first ten centuries, for nearly one thousand years Catholics and Orthodox have been deprived of communion in the Eucharist. We have been divided by wounds caused by old and recent conflicts, by differences inherited from our ancestors, in the understanding and expression of our faith in God, one in three Persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are pained by the loss of unity, the outcome of human weakness and of sin, which has occurred despite the priestly prayer of Christ the Saviour: “So that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you … so that they may be one, as we are one” (Jn 17:21).

    8. Our gaze must firstly turn to those regions of the world where Christians are victims of persecution. In many countries of the Middle East and North Africa whole families, villages and cities of our brothers and sisters in Christ are being completely exterminated. Their churches are being barbarously ravaged and looted, their sacred objects profaned, their monuments destroyed. It is with pain that we call to mind the situation in Syria, Iraq and other countries of the Middle East, and the massive exodus of Christians from the land in which our faith was first disseminated and in which they have lived since the time of the Apostles, together with other religious communities.

    9. We call upon the international community to act urgently in order to prevent the further expulsion of Christians from the Middle East. In raising our voice in defence of persecuted Christians, we wish to express our compassion for the suffering experienced by the faithful of other religious traditions who have also become victims of civil war, chaos and terrorist violence.

    11. […]We address, in a fervent appeal, all the parts that may be involved in the conflicts to demonstrate good will and to take part in the negotiating table. At the same time, the international community must undertake every possible effort to end terrorism through common, joint and coordinated action. We call on all the countries involved in the struggle against terrorism to responsible and prudent action. We exhort all Christians and all believers of God to pray fervently to the providential Creator of the world to protect His creation from destruction and not permit a new world war. In order to ensure a solid and enduring peace, specific efforts must be undertaken to rediscover the common values uniting us, based on the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    13. Interreligious dialogue is indispensable in our disturbing times. Differences in the understanding of religious truths must not impede people of different faiths to live in peace and harmony. In our current context, religious leaders have the particular responsibility to educate their faithful in a spirit which is respectful of the convictions of those belonging to other religious traditions. Attempts to justify criminal acts with religious slogans are altogether unacceptable. No crime may be committed in God’s name, “since God is not the God of disorder but of peace” (1 Cor 14:33).

    16. The process of European integration, which began after centuries of blood–soaked conflicts, was welcomed by many with hope, as a guarantee of peace and security. Nonetheless, we invite vigilance against an integration that is devoid of respect for religious identities. While remaining open to the contribution of other religions to our civilization, it is our conviction that Europe must remain faithful to its Christian roots. We call upon Christians of Eastern and Western Europe to unite in their shared witness to Christ and the Gospel, so that Europe may preserve its soul, shaped by two thousand years of Christian tradition.

    17. Our gaze is also directed to those facing serious difficulties, who live in extreme need and poverty while the material wealth of humanity increases. We cannot remain indifferent to the destinies of millions of migrants and refugees knocking on the doors of wealthy nations. The unrelenting consumerism of some more developed countries is gradually depleting the resources of our planet. The growing inequality in the distribution of material goods increases the feeling of the injustice of the international order that has emerged.

    20. The family is based on marriage, an act of freely given and faithful love between a man and a woman. It is love that seals their union and teaches them to accept one another as a gift. Marriage is a school of love and faithfulness. We regret that other forms of cohabitation have been placed on the same level as this union, while the concept, consecrated in the biblical tradition, of paternity and maternity as the distinct vocation of man and woman in marriage is being banished from the public conscience.

    21. We call on all to respect the inalienable right to life. Millions are denied the very right to be born into the world. The blood of the unborn cries out to God (cf. Gen 4:10).

    The emergence of so-called euthanasia leads elderly people and the disabled begin to feel that they are a burden on their families and on society in general.

    We are also concerned about the development of biomedical reproduction technology, as the manipulation of human life represents an attack on the foundations of human existence, created in the image of God. We believe that it is our duty to recall the immutability of Christian moral principles, based on respect for the dignity of the individual called into being according to the Creator’s plan.

    24. We urge Catholics and Orthodox in all countries to learn to live together in peace and love, and to be “in harmony with one another” (Rm 15:5). Consequently, it cannot be accepted that disloyal means be used to incite believers to pass from one Church to another, denying them their religious freedom and their traditions.

    27. It is our hope that the schism between the Orthodox faithful in Ukraine may be overcome through existing canonical norms, that all the Orthodox Christians of Ukraine may live in peace and harmony, and that the Catholic communities in the country may contribute to this, in such a way that our Christian brotherhood may become increasingly evident.[…]

    Francis Bishop of Rome Pope of the Catholic Church

    Kirill Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia


    Cuba: Patriarch Kirill & Pope Francis sign joint declaration after Havana meeting

    • From wiki :


      Filioque is a Latin term added to the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed which is not in the original version. It has been the subject of great controversy between Eastern and Western Christianity.

      […]the term became a symbol of conflict between Eastern Christianity and Western Christianity

      […]The Filioque is included in the form of the Creed used in most Western Christian churches, first appearing in the 6th century. It was accepted by the popes only in 1014, and is rejected by the Eastern Orthodox Church and Oriental Orthodox Churches. It is not in the Greek text of this Creed, attributed to the second ecumenical council, Constantinople I (381)

      […]The term has been an ongoing source of conflict between Eastern Christianity and Western Christianity, contributing, in part, to the East–West Schism of 1054 and proving to be an obstacle to attempts to reunify the two sides.

      […]The controversy referring to the term Filioque involves four separate disagreements:

      – about the term itself
      – about the orthodoxy of the doctrine of the double procession of the Holy Spirit to which the term refers
      – about the legitimacy of inserting the term into the Creed
      – about the authority of the pope to define the orthodoxy of the doctrine or to insert the term into the Creed

      […] the Filioque is so fundamentally incompatible with Orthodox Christianity as to be the CENTRAL ISSUE dividing the two churches.

      wiki Spanish :

      Cláusula Filioque

      No todos los teólogos ortodoxos comparten esta opinión. Además de muchas “palomas” hay también –lo dice el obispo ortodoxo Kallistos Ware – los “halcones”, para los que el Filioque es una herejía. Uno de los más destacados de estos fue Vladimir Lossky (1903–1958), el cual vio en el Filioque la raíz de todos los problemas de las relaciones dogmáticas entre Oriente y Occidente, y declaró que la cuestión de la procesión del Espíritu Santo es la única razón dogmática para la separación entre Oriente y Occidente: los otros desacuerdos doctrinales serían no más que el resultado de esta.

  31. CNN – Saudi FM: Bashar al-Assad is finished in Syria

    CNN’s Christiane Amanpour talks to Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir about the Syrian ceasefire and the possibility of contributing ground troops.

    ( 10 min 30 )

  32. CNN – Obama Intel Chief: Hillary Clinton should withdraw from presidential race

    February 12th, 2016 • President Obama’s former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency is advising Hillary Clinton to withdraw as a candidate for President of the United States.

    Lt. General Michael Flynn cited, “The severity of the leaks of the classified material’ as one the motivating factors for his recommendation. Flynn also pointed toward “the lack of accountability, from a person who should have been much more responsible in her actions as the Secretary of State of the United States of America.”

    Flynn spoke with CNN anchor Jake Tapper.

  33. Europe migrants: Macedonia fortifies its border with Greece (BBC, vid, Feb 12, 2016)

    “The European Union has given Greece three months to fix its border controls, in a move that could allow other Schengen zone states to maintain internal border controls.

    The BBC’s Richard Galpin reports from the Greece-Macedonia border, where a second razor wire fence is being constructed to stop illegal migrants in their tracks.”

  34. Unregistered Rohingyas in Bangladesh to be counted in first census (BBC, Feb 12, 2016)

    “The Bangladeshi government has started its first census of unregistered members of the Rohingya ethnic group.

    It is thought more than half a million live in the country without authorisation after fleeing persecution in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

    Many Rohingya people are stateless, and they have been subject to people-trafficking in large numbers.

    The census will last several weeks and organisers hope to find out more about Rohingyas’ socio-economic conditions.

    Many are very poor. Tens of thousands are registered as living in two refugee camps in Bangladesh.

    The census will be carried out in co-operation with the International Organization for Migration and will involve house visits. So far there have only been small-scale research projects and estimates of the numbers of unregistered Rohingyas there.

    Rohingyas are a distinct Muslim ethnic group. In Myanmar, from which many have fled, Rohingyas’ rights are heavily restricted. Most are not recognised as Myanmar citizens.

    In 2015 tens of thousands were stranded at sea after surrounding countries would not let them in.

    While the Rohingyas say they are descendants of Arab traders who have been in the region for generations, Myanmar’s governments say they are not a genuine ethnic group but are actually Bengali migrants.

    Successive Myanmar governments have been introducing policies to repress the Rohingya since the 1970s, according to Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (Brouk).

    They are denied basic services and their movements are severely restricted.

    In June and October 2012 there were large scale attacks on Rohingyas following the gang rape of a Buddhist woman…”

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