Reader’s links for Feb. 23 – 2016

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In order to preserve the flow of conversation about various posted items, and also in order to make it easier for visitors to find the list of related links being shared by other readers, regulars and interested parties in one place, each day a post is automatically created at a minute past midnight ET.

This way, under the various posts of the day, conversation can take place without as much ‘noise’ on the various links and articles and ideas in the main posts and all the news links being submitted can be seen under these auto-posts by clicking on the comments-link right below these ones.

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

About Eeyore

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

98 Replies to “Reader’s links for Feb. 23 – 2016”

  1. ‘I Am Doing God’s Work,’ Says Syrian People Smuggler

    A 21-year-old Syrian man who smuggles migrants across the Mediterranean from Turkey to Greece at $580 a head says that he is a humanitarian who only wants to help people.

    “I am doing God’s work,” he says, while collecting cash and cramming as many people as possible into his dinghy for the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean to the Greek islands of Kos and Lesbos.

    “I have understood this humanitarian crisis and want to help in a merciful way,” he said. “We give these people a lifeline.”

    According to reports, there are now hundreds operating as people smugglers along the Turkish coastline. In 2015, more than 800,000 made the short trip from Turkey to the Greek islands, and so far in 2016 nearly 8,000 people have attempted the crossing. Of those, 371 have died.

    Whatever their motives, the people-smuggling business into Europe is booming as well as incredibly lucrative for those involved.

    Recent reports suggest that people willing to shuttle migrants from Turkey into Greece are earning as much as $20,000/week, far more than they would make in virtually any other field.

  2. Obama Unveils Gitmo Closure Plan, Cites ‘No Incidents’ with Terrorists Already Held in U.S.

    Declaring that he doesn’t “want to pass this problem on to the next president,” President Obama and the Defense Department officially submitted their plan to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.

    Flanked by Vice President Biden and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Obama acknowledged that the law as passed by Congress blocks the transfer of detainees to the United States.

    But he believes that that an appropriate lobbying effort will overcome that hurdle — including convincing Americans that they’ll be less safe if Gitmo stays open.

    “When it becomes clear that something is not working as intended, when it does not advance our security, we have to change course,” Obama said, stressing that the facility “undermines” U.S. security.

    “This is not just my opinion, this is the opinion of experts…. [terrorists] use it as propaganda in their efforts to recruit.”

    The president also maintained that “keeping this facility open is contrary to our values” as “we pride ourselves as being a beacon to other nations, a model of the rule of law.”

  3. EXCLUSIVE: China sends fighter jets to contested island in South China Sea

    By Lucas Tomlinson Published February 23, 2016
    Facebook44 Twitter0 livefyre147 Email Print

    EXCLUSIVE: In a move likely to further increase already volatile tensions in the South China Sea, China has deployed fighter jets to a contested island in the South China Sea, the same island where China deployed surface-to-air missiles last week, two U.S. officials tell Fox News.

    The dramatic escalation cames minutes before Secretary of State John Kerry was to host his Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, at the State Department.

    Chinese Shenyang J-11s (“Flanker”) and Xian JH-7s (“Flounder”) have been seen by U.S. intelligence on Woody Island in the past few days, the same island where Fox News reported exclusively last week that China had sent two batteries of HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles while President Obama was hosting 10 Southeast Asian leaders in Palm Springs.

    Wang was supposed to visit the Pentagon Tuesday, but the visit was canceled. It was not immediately clear which side canceled the visit. Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said a “scheduling conflict” prevented the meeting, when asked by Fox News at Tuesday’s press briefing.

  4. Greece rages at neighbours as fears migrants could be halted

    ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece raged at neighbours and began bussing hundreds of migrants back from its northern border on Tuesday, fearing it could be inundated with migrants halted by Balkan states trying to shut the main land route to Western Europe.

    Athens filed a rare diplomatic protest with fellow EU member Austria for excluding Greek officials from a high-level meeting on measures aimed at curbing Europe’s biggest inward migration since World War Two.

    More than a million migrants and refugees passed through Greece last year, and nearly 100,000 have already arrived this year. Nearly all reached Greece by sea and travelled onward by land over the Balkan peninsula to richer EU countries further north and west, above all Germany.

    But several of the countries along that route have been taking measures to close their frontiers, prompting those further down the chain to impose similar restrictions to prevent a bottleneck.

    Greek police removed migrants from the Greek-Macedonian border on Tuesday after additional passage restrictions imposed by Macedonian authorities left hundreds of people, mainly Afghans, stuck at the border.

  5. NATO advises Afghan forces to do less defending, more attacking (khaama, Feb 23, 2016)

    “NATO advisers want Afghan soldiers to spend less time manning checkpoints and more taking the fight to Taliban militants, a key tactical shift the coalition hopes will enable local forces to quell a rising insurgency, Reuters reports.

    With NATO’s combat mission officially over, and only a few thousand foreign troops left, the onus has fallen on the Afghan army and police to impose stability, and the military alliance is looking for ways to use those resources more effectively.

    Reducing reliance on thousands of poorly defended checkpoints that dot towns and roads across the country is a priority for NATO heading into summer, when fighting is expected to intensify as the Taliban renews its push to seize back power.

    “They’ve got way too many soldiers on checkpoints,” said Brigadier-General Wilson Shoffner, spokesman for the NATO-led training mission known as Resolute Support.

    “There’s an old military saying that if you defend everywhere you defend nowhere, and it’s very much true for them (Afghan security forces).”

    There are early signs the idea is catching on.

    Over the past week, army units in the embattled province of Helmand abandoned their outposts in several of the most disputed areas, a move officials said would allow them to consolidate forces for renewed attacks on insurgent strongholds.

    “We have decided to pull out our troops from their defensive role and prepare them for an aggressive role in the coming year,” said General Murad Ali Murad, commander of the Afghan army’s ground forces.

    “We are providing them with serious training and better equipment in order to prepare for a spring offensive.”

    But countrywide, obstacles remain to changing tactics long favored by security forces.

    Despite providing the enemy with an obvious target, checkpoints are still simpler to defend than launching mobile operations, which require logistics and air support often beyond the reach of limited Afghan resources.

    Politics can also complicate efforts to change strategy, Shoffner said.

    “If you’re a local chief of police or village elder, you want as many checkpoints as you can get around your village. So we often have conflict between the Afghan army that is trying to reduce checkpoints and the (local) leaders … that want them.”


    South of Kabul, members of the Afghan National Army’s 1st battalion, 111th Capital Division hold a string of checkpoints to secure the mountain passes between the Afghan capital and Logar province.

    Of roughly 600 soldiers in the battalion, more than 500 are based at checkpoints, while a small, more heavily armed mobile reserve force remains at a central base, said battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Reya Khuram.

    “We have to have checkpoints to stop the Taliban,” Khuram told Reuters. “If we are not there, the Taliban will be.”

    The outposts range from small earthen forts strung with barbed wire, to makeshift dugouts and shacks perched on rocky slopes. Many have no vehicles of their own, limiting troops’ ability to venture far without help from the central base.

    While the area is not among the most violent in the country, soldiers say they are regularly targeted by Taliban snipers and find roadside bombs.

    The Defence Ministry referred Reuters’ requests for comment for this article to Major General Abdul Nasir Ziaee, 111th Division commander. He said checkpoints were not necessarily wrong.

    “We have two groups of soldiers at each checkpost. One is the security group and another is the reaction group,” he said. “The security group patrols and the other one responds to attacks, or when they get a report they react.”

    But recent examples underline the risk of relying on static defenses.

    This month, insurgents used captured military vehicles to attack a checkpoint in Helmand, southern Afghanistan, killing seven soldiers and 15 policemen.

    In the east, checkpoints were among the first targets for militants supporting Islamic State when they attacked last year.

    When troops fail to leave forts to conduct patrols and operations, it allows insurgents to place roadside bombs and mines, further restricting the military’s ability to move, according to coalition officers.

    Western officials privately estimate the Taliban are contesting as much territory as at any time since their regime was toppled in 2001, underlining the need to wrest back the initiative.

    Government forces, numbering more than 300,000 including soldiers and police, are only fully in charge of about 70 percent of the country, the U.S. military says.

    Outposts can be a key part of disrupting insurgent movement, NATO military officers say, and during more than a decade of combat operations the coalition itself fought fiercely to establish small bases in Taliban strongholds in eastern and southern Afghanistan.

    But fewer, stronger outposts can be an advantage, Shoffner argued.

    “The idea is to reduce checkpoints and to consolidate onto strong points, so that not only does that strong point have the strength to defend itself, but so it also has a maneuver capability,” Shoffner said.

    “So if there is a security situation in a nearby village or checkpoint, it’s got enough combat power to overwhelm whatever the security threat is.””

  6. Terrorist outfits aim to destabilise Pakistan, says Asif Ali Zardari (tribune, Feb 23, 2016)

    “akistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has said incidents of terrorism, sectarian violence and unrest in Balochistan are part of a larger conspiracy to destabilise Pakistan.

    “Taliban, other terrorist and criminal organisations as well as separatists are working to destabilise the country at the behest of their foreign masters,” he said in a statement issued from Dubai on Tuesday.

    Organised crimes in Karachi coupled with extortion and inciting terror at educational institutions are part of a mischievous plan of our enemies, Zardari added.

    While admiring the Army chief General Raheel Sharif’s decision to refuse an extension in his tenure, the PPP leader called for taking the war on terror to its logical conclusion.

    “The nation is united, hopeful and is counting on the success of the war against terrorism with the leadership’s consistency and resilience of armed forces playing a major role,” Zardari said.

    The nation and army, he said, are fighting this war shoulder-to-shoulder.

    The PPP co-chairman also called for dispelling any rumours against the cause. ”Certain quarters are pointing out the military’s role in political matters, accountability and national affairs should refrain from doing so.”….”

  7. Afghan man in Athens:
    “Our magnet is Germany, I have come with my entire family: six sons, six grandchildren, two daughter-in-laws, one son-in-law and my wife. We travelled by plane to Iran, bus to Tehran, car to Turkey, on foot across the border and by boat to Lesbos. We are not going to give up now.”

    Resident woman:
    “A lot of residents are too scared to leave their homes, if it goes on, if the numbers increase, it is a bomb that will explode.”

    • Greece: Buses take refugees back to Athens from Macedonian border

      Buses, organised by Greece’s authorities, took refugees back to Athens from Idomeni, close to the Greek-Macedonian Tuesday. According to local police, there were a few minor incidents when some refugees refused to board buses.

      As the buses arrived, many refugees started to walk to the border crossing on foot, despite the police telling them they will not be allowed to cross. Several thousand refugees are currently waiting by the fence separating Greek from Macedonia.

      Earlier last week, Macedonian authorities decided to close their frontier gates to refugees originating from Afghanistan. An identical decision was also introduced by the Serbian government.

  8. More than 800 Islamists leave Germany to join IS in Syria and Iraq (DW, Feb 23, 2016)

    “According to a newspaper report, more than 800 Islamists have left Germany to join jihadi groups such as the so-called “Islamic State” in Syria and Iraq. At least 60 percent were German citizens.

    German daily “Die Welt” reported on Tuesday that more than 800 Islamists have left Germany to join jihadi groups such as the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) in Syria and Iraq.

    Around a third of Islamists who had joined up with the jihadi militants abroad had also returned to Germany, meaning the number of “jihadi travelers” has slightly increased since the beginning of the year, said a spokeswoman for the Federal Criminal Office (BKA). In January, BKA President Holger Münch said the criminal bureau had in fact seen a slight decline in travel by Islamists to the war zones.

    The report also said that German authorities now believe that more than 130 jihadis who have traveled to Syria or Iraq have as foreign fighters have died – some of them as suicide bombers.

    After studying the backgrounds of 677 Islamists who traveled to Syria and Iraq up until last June, the BKA found that most of the militants were men between the ages of 22 and 25. More than 60 percent of jihadi travelers had German citizenship, and one sixth had converted to Islam.
    Islamists on trial

    Authorities in Germany and throughout Europe are currently working on how to contend with the problem of the hundreds of citizens who have left to fight alongside extremists in conflict regions and the danger they pose on their return.

    German police have also carried out a number of raids on suspected Islamist homes in recent months, with several Islamist suspects standing trial on suspicion of fighting alongside jihadis.

    In December, a court in Celle sentenced two men to a total of seven years and three months in jail for being members of a terrorist organization, while in January another man was arrested on suspicion of carrying out a “war crime against a humanitarian operation.””

  9. Can you ‘de-radicalize’ a right-wing community? (DW, Feb 23, 2016)

    “With the rise of right-wing extremism, some German states must intervene in entire communities to uproot the ideology. One organization says it’s possible, but it will mean more than tackling just extremism.

    Attacks on refugee housing and anti-immigrant protests have given Saxony a bad name . Its state premier, Stanislaw Tillich, announced on Tuesday that he and his cabinet would devise a new strategy to combat right-wing radicals to save the state’s reputation.

    The idea that right-wing ideology is only found in isolated pockets of German society has been debunked in Saxony, which is not only the birthplace of Pegida, but also one of the first states where the “Alternative für Deutschland” (AfD) party won seats in parliament.

    So, Tillich and his government must “de-radicalize” entire communities in some cases, a task that could easily conjure up unsavory memories of the “re-education programs” once operated by Stalin and Mao.

    Germany already has intervention programs aimed at the neo-Nazi scene. One such program, “EXIT Deutschland,” has used a strategy of open dialogue, outreach and personal safety plans to help over 700 people escape the most dangerous, militant part of the scene. This requires separating an individual from the source of danger and completely changing their mindset, which can take years.

    Saxony faces a daunting task given tensions over the refugee crisis and the rise of anti-immigrant violence. But is it a realistic task?

    Eliminating stereotypes

    It is possible to change people’s minds, EXIT’s Bernd Wagner told DW, but Germany must change its own mind about Saxony in the process.

    According to Wagner, who also heads the Center for Democratic Cultur (ZDK), politicians and the public have lost sight of how destabilizing forces – most of all, the refugee crisis – have left people, regardless of socioeconomic level, feeling forgotten by the government. As a result, they become susceptible to extremist ideology.

    Another issue, says Wagner, is that the public has misplaced its focus on Saxony, despite cases – such as the NSU murders and other xenophobic attacks – that prove right-wing violence has affected every state. By attributing the problem only to Saxony, officials aren’t cooperating to find a solution, since they think it isn’t their problem.

    “We have a large lack of awareness in Germany, and in Europe, in general. The West Germans are not spared from this.”

    An outdated mental image of the right-wing scene has also clouded the public’s perception of what modern right-wing extremism looks like.

    “We need to clear away the superstition that we’re talking about a homogenous or even a Neo-Nazi scene,” he says. “Only a very few are Neo-Nazis. It’s a very broad ideological field that’s being invoked and is seen on all levels of society,” not just socially disadvantaged youths.

    “The old Nazi image of combat boots and muscle-bound skinheads is long gone.”
    ‘You have to approach people’

    EXIT successfully intervened in the Saxony-Anhalt community of Pretzien in 2006 after neo-Nazis tossed a copy of Anne Frank’s diary and a US flag onto a bonfire during a public summer celebration, causing a nationwide uproar . Pretzien was “collectively damned and ostracized, so to speak,” EXIT’s Bernd Wagner told DW.

    Counter-demonstrations have kept pace with Pegida and AfD rallies, but Wagner questions their effectiveness. In Pretzien and other communities, the key has always been dialogue.

    “You have to approach people. You have to talk to people, you have to make people an offer, see if you can solve problems. You have to identify the problems first.”

    In Pretzien, the whole community, including Neo-Nazis were given an open forum. “We worked with very racist people there, we also worked with very open people and migrants. We put mediation into action,” Wagner said.

    According to Wagner, politicians’ anti-right-wing efforts must drastically increase contact with all local citizens.

    The “arduous and exhausting” process of being in dialogue with everyone from choir members, to firemen, to youth leaders took six years before the organization completed its work.

    Regarding the success story of Pretzien, Wagner admits that it wasn’t possible to eradicate right-wing ideas from the entire community.

    “But a state has been reached where a similar incident won’t be repeated – not in the near future in any case.””

  10. Two policemen martyred in Taliban attack in Kunar (khaama, Feb 23, 2016)

    “Two policemen have embraced martyrdom in a Taliban attack in eastern Kunar province of Afghanistan.

    The provinces’s police chief said the incident took place in Jabba area of Naray District on Monday night.

    While talking to Azadi Radio on Tuesday morning, Colonel Abdul Habib Sayedkhil said two other policemen sustained injuries in the incident.

    Taliban have claimed responsibility for attack on soldiers in Naray District but in an online statement the group’s spokesperson has shown a different location for the incident…”

  11. Kidnapping ring busted in Kabul, child rescued (khaama, Feb 23, 2016)

    “The National Directorate of Security (NDS) – Afghanistan’s intelligence agency has busted a kidnapping ring in capital Kabul and rescued a child from them.

    A statement released by NDS on Tuesday states that the five-member ring had abducted a child from 10th sector of the city and taken him to Shakar Dara District.

    According to the statement, the child was being kept inside a cave and NDS personnel recovered him during a special operation on Monday night.

    The kidnappers had demanded $600,000 from 14-year-old Aminullah’s family in exchange for his release.

    The kidnappers have been identified as the ring leader Shafi alias Abdul Aziz S/O Mohammad Omar, Farshad Gul S/O Gul Mohammad, Toryalai S/O Dad Mohammad, Faridoon S/O Ghulam Sarwar and Toryalai S/O Khodaidad.

    The group was also involved in other cases of kidnapping.”

  12. Russia to hand over 10,000 Ak-47s to Afghan forces on Wednesday (khaama, Feb 23, 2016)

    “The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) will receive 10,000 Ak-47 assault rifles from Russia on Wednesday as part of Moscow’s efforts to equip and bolster the capabilities of the Afghan troops.

    The delivery of the rifles will be done in a ceremony to be organized in military section of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.

    The Afghan National Security Adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar and officials from the Embassy of the Russian Federation are also expected to attend the ceremony.

    The delivery of the assault rifles is part of Russia’s support to bolster the capabilities of the Afghan security forces to fight the menace of terrorism…”

  13. LIBYA – Two Serbian diplomats held hostage since November were killed in US air strikes on ISIS training camp in Libya – as the grim task of sorting out the bodies begins

    Sladjana Stankovic and Jovica Stepic worked at the Serbian embassy
    Were kidnapped in November when convoy came under fire near Sabratha
    US raids targeted ISIS training camp near Tunisian border killing dozens
    Corpses delivered to Tripoli’s Matiga Airport, Libyan armed group says

    video – Sabratha Libya :

  14. Canada Friday Sermon by Imam Shaban Sherif Mady: Rome Will Be Conquered like Constantinople Was

    During a Friday sermon delivered in Edmonton, Alberta, Sheikh Shaban Sherif Mady said that just as Byzantine Constantinople had been conquered, Rome would be conquered, as the Prophet Muhammad had prophesized. The sermon was posted on the Internet on February 16.

  15. Belgium tightened border controls with France

    Belgium has temporarily reintroduced border controls to France . The Belgian Government would thus prevent people who are coming from partially evacuated camp in Calais to gather in Belgium, Interior Minister Jan Jambon said Tuesday in Brussels . “We want to avoid at all costs that a camp in Belgium is build . …….
    ……For Belgium, the question referred on the one hand to “a problem of security and public order,” Jambon said. He referred at the same time that “the tourism season starts soon.” First checks indicated that there were Jambon on Monday. Plans call for the use of up to 290 police officers for checks.

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