Reader’s Links, Nov. 20, 2018

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About Eeyore

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

121 Replies to “Reader’s Links, Nov. 20, 2018”

  1. TRUMP WAS RIGHT: Jerry Brown Eased California Logging Rules Back In August

    Months ago, California Gov. Jerry Brown urged state lawmakers to loosen restrictive logging regulations put in place to appease environmentalists — a move that appears to have confirmed that President Trump’s recent critiques of state logging practices was correct.

    The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported back in August that Brown was proposing one of the most significant changes to the state’s logging rules in nearly half a century.

    “Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing broad new changes to California’s logging rules that would allow landowners to cut larger trees and build temporary roads without obtaining a permit as a way to thin more forests across the state,” the paper reported.

  2. Pentagon Inspector General: Progress in Afghanistan Remains ‘Elusive’ (sputniknews, Nov 20, 2018)

    “The US Defense Department’s inspector general assessed the prospects of achieving peace in Afghanistan to be “elusive” in a new quarterly report, echoing findings that have been repeated by US military officials for years that the battle against Taliban forces remains at a stalemate.

    The Trump administration’s South Asia strategy has passed its one year mark, the Defense Department’s inspector general said in a news release Monday. The evidence suggests US President Donald Trump’s strategy has next to nothing going for it in terms of results, according to the assessment of the military, political and humanitarian dimensions of the situation in Afghanistan.

    The Trump administration’s strategy to push the Taliban closer to peace talks consists of four main programs. The US has increased its troop presence in Afghanistan to 14,000 while shuttling in more equipment. Airstrikes against Taliban narcotics facilities and personnel have gone up. Afghan national defense forces are receiving more training from US military advisors. And the US government has drastically cut its foreign aid to Pakistan in hopes of persuading the country to stop providing safe haven for Taliban forces.

    “Despite continued efforts and activities, there was little clear progress toward reconciliation during the quarter,” the Defense Department inspector general’s office said. “Progress remains elusive.”

    Record-setting violence plagued Afghanistan’s October parliamentary elections, Sputnik reported. US Army Major Danny Sjursen told Fault Lines on Radio Sputnik in an interview after the elections that “one of the reasons there was so much violence in this election is that something like 44 percent of all Afghan districts are under the control of the Taliban, or are at least being contested by the Taliban.” (He spoke freely on the condition that his statements not be construed to reflect views of the Defense Department or the US government.)

    “So, that’d be as if there was a civil war going on in the United States today, and you had to find your ways to the polls through the middle of opposing landmines in a war,” said Sjursen, who has previously been deployed to Afghanistan.

    US diplomats have nonetheless offered reassuring statements about Afghanistan. The Trump administration’s strategy is “indeed working,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a visit to Kabul in July. “Now more than ever, the United States stands as an enduring partner for Afghanistan,” the American diplomat said.

    Pompeo offered his definition of America’s progress in Afghanistan as “the capacity that we now have to believe that there is hope that many of the Taliban now see that they can’t win on the ground militarily.”

    Military officials have also remained optimistic about Trump’s South Asia policy, yet their positivity has been tempered by skepticism of how well the strategy is working. On Saturday, Gen. Joe Dunford, US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the audience at the Halifax International Security Forum that progress on peace talks with the Taliban was being made “below the surface.” Still, Dunford said, “We’re a long way from where we could say we’re on the right path.”

    Pointing to previous comments made by US military officials one year ago that the war against the Taliban was at a stalemate, Dunford told the audience that “it hasn’t changed much,” according to an AP report.

    The Pentagon inspector general said in its report that despite the upbeat public statements from American diplomats and military leaders, “available measures of security in Afghanistan, including total security incidents, population control and civilian casualties, showed little change.”

    In short, the first year of the Trump administration’s South Asia strategy resulted in a continuation of the status quo characterized by violence and instability in Afghanistan. Trump’s “instinct” was to draw down the US’ military presence in Afghanistan, eventually leaving altogether. Instead, he followed along with what national security advisors insisted was the best way forward, according to Major Sjursen.

    “I do think people in his national security circles, including [then-National Security Advisor] H.R. McMaster, were very much tied to the status quo. And the ‘status quo’ was the Forever War in Afghanistan. A few more troops, a few more billion dollars, a few more advisors, and we can make things happen. These guys have spent their entire adult lives — the second half of their entire adult lives — trying to win this fight and banging their head against the wall over and over,” said Sjursen.”

  3. Iraq says airstrikes kill 40 Islamic State fighters in Syria (abcnews, Nov 20, 2018)

    “The Iraqi military says it has killed 40 Islamic State militants in airstrikes in Syria.

    The joint operations command said in a statement its F-16 jets struck IS positions in their pocket in eastern Syria twice on Tuesday, destroying a base and an arms warehouse in the villages of Sousa and Baghous.

    The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group says at least 16 IS fighters were killed in the strikes.

    Iraqi forces have been firing on IS positions across the border in eastern Syria to support the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in their push against the last IS pocket along the border.”

  4. Judge says families ‘shattered,’ wants Iraqi detainees freed (abcnews, Nov 20, 2018)

    “A Detroit federal judge has ordered the U.S. government to release about 100 Iraqi nationals who are under deportation orders but have been in custody for more than six months.

    It’s the latest ruling from Judge Mark Goldsmith in a dispute that began in 2017 when the government began rounding up Iraqis living in the U.S. with criminal records. Some have been locked up for more than a year while the American Civil Liberties Union fights on their behalf.

    Goldsmith said Tuesday that “families have been shattered.” He says Iraq has told the Trump administration that it only will accept people who are willing to leave the U.S.

    The judge says “public interest overwhelmingly favors freedom over mass detention.” The immigration agency didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.”

  5. Amnesty says Saudi activists beaten, tortured in detention (abcnews, Nov 20, 2018)

    “Several activists imprisoned in Saudi Arabia since May, including a number of women who campaigned for the right to drive, have been beaten and tortured during interrogation, Amnesty International said Tuesday.

    Saudi Arabia has detained at least 10 women and seven men on vague national security allegations related to their human rights work. Those detained include Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Yousef, who had campaigned for the right to drive before the decades-long ban was lifted in June.

    Amnesty said that according to three testimonies it obtained, some of the activists were repeatedly tortured by electrocution and flogging, leaving some unable to walk or stand properly. In one instance, an activist was hung from the ceiling. Another testimony said one of the detained women was subjected to sexual harassment by interrogators wearing face masks.

    The kingdom is at the center of an international firestorm after the brutal killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who had written critically about Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s crackdown on dissent, including the arrests of the women activists. Khashoggi was killed and then dismembered by Saudi agents in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

    “Only a few weeks after the ruthless killing of Jamal Khashoggi, these shocking reports of torture, sexual harassment and other forms of ill-treatment, if verified, expose further outrageous human rights violations by the Saudi authorities,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty’s Middle East research director.

    Some of the imprisoned activists were unable to walk or stand properly, had uncontrolled shaking of the hands and marks on their bodies. One of the activists reportedly attempted to take her own life repeatedly inside the prison, Amnesty said…”

  6. Rights group: Egypt tortures, disappears children (abcnews, Nov 20, 2018)

    “An international rights group said Tuesday that Egypt has committed “shocking violations” against children, including torture and enforced disappearances.

    Amnesty International said it has documented at least six children, including a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old, who were tortured in custody, and 12 who were subjected to enforced disappearances since 2015. It did not give the ages of the other children.

    Citing the children’s families, Amnesty said the six were “severely beaten, given electric shocks on their genitalia and other parts of their body or suspended by their limbs.” Some of the torture was aimed at forcing the children to confess to crimes they had not committed, it said in a joint report with the Egyptian Front for Human Rights.

    Egypt has waged an unprecedented crackdown on dissent since President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi led the military overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist president in 2013.

    Thousands of people have been jailed, with many held without charge or trial. Rights groups say torture is widespread in Egyptian detention facilities, allegations denied by the government.

    A spokesman for Egypt’s Interior Ministry, which oversees police, did not respond to phone calls seeking comment…”

  7. Italy Orders Seizure of Migrant Transport Vessel Accused of Dumping Toxic Medical Waste (breitbart, Nov 11, 2018)

    “The Italian populist coalition government has ordered the seizure of the migrant transport ship Aquarius after accusing the NGO operating the vessel of dumping toxic materials potentially linked to diseases such as HIV and Tuberculosis.

    The Italians ordered the seizure of the vessel operated by NGO Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which is currently in the French port of Marseille, claiming that MSF had illegally dumped 53,000lbs of waste in 11 different Italian ports, ANSA reports.

    The material, which was dumped in at least 44 separate incidents according to investigations, consisted of medical waste that was not separated from ordinary refuse and had the potential to be infected with diseases reportedly prevalent among the migrants transported aboard the vessel.

    According to the Catania prosecutor, there were “5,088 health cases at infectious risk out of 21,326 migrants disembarked” from the vessel including cases of scabies, HIV, tuberculosis, and meningitis.

    The prosecutor added that the waste was left unsorted, and potentially hazardous to those working with the material, in order to save the NGO around 460,000 euros (£41,000/$52,000) in specialist waste processing fees — an amount which the Italians have also ordered to be seized from the NGO.

    In reaction to the news, populist interior minister Matteo Salvini wrote, “I was right to stop the NGOs’ ships,” and added, “Not only did I stop the trafficking of migrants but, according to what has emerged, I stopped the trafficking of toxic waste too.”

    MSF head of emergencies Karline Kleijer spoke out about the seizure order saying, “After two years of defamatory and unfounded allegations of collusion with human traffickers, judicial investigations, and bureaucratic obstacles against our humanitarian work, we are now accused of organised crime aimed at illicit waste trafficking,” and claimed the group had followed standard procedures.

    The seizure of the Aquarius could be the final blow for the migrant transport NGO which has been denied access to Italian ports.

    The vessel was also forced to remove the flag of Gibraltar after it was revealed the group had ignored requests to halt search and rescue operations. Shortly after the move, the NGO gained permission to use the flag of Panama, but that too was revoked after pressure from the Italian government in September.”

  8. Libya forcibly removes migrants from ship after 12-day standoff (mee, Nov 20, 2018)

    “After 12 days aboard the Nivin, a ship docked in the Libyan port of Misrata, 78 migrants are believed to have been forcibly removed from it and detained on Tuesday.

    At 11.11am local time (9.11 GMT) Mohammed, an 18-year-old migrant from South Sudan with whom Middle East Eye had been in touch by phone, sent an ominous message.

    “Now the coast guard come to us with guns,” he wrote.

    Some 20 minutes afterwards, he sent a photo of an armed member of the Libyan security forces standing on the dock.

    After receiving that last photograph, MEE has been unable to reach either Mohammed or three other migrants from the Nivin.

    According to local sources, Libyan armed forces boarded the cargo ship around noon on Tuesday, only leaving the port about an hour later.

    With access to the port prohibited for journalists and humanitarian organisations, little is known of the fate of the dozens of migrants who have spent nearly two weeks refusing to disembark from the Nivin out of fear of what might await them in Libya.

    However, reports have emerged of a number of the ship’s migrants being taken to a hospital in Misrata – although their exact number and condition remain unclear.

    Others, including minors, have been reportedly taken to the al-Kararim detention centre in the eastern Libyan city.

    According to a confidential document drawn up by local officials and obtained by MEE, armed forces used rubber-coated steel bullets during their operation aboard the Nivin, as the authorities have stated they would no longer consider the scores of people as migrants, but instead classify them as “hijackers” for refusing to leave the ship…”

  9. Turkey gives list of 84 FETO members to US: Cavusoglu (AA, Nov 20, 2018)

    “Turkey has given the United States a list of 84 members of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) that it wants American authorities to extradite, said the nation’s foreign minister.

    Speaking to Turkish reporters at Ankara’s embassy in Washington, Mevlut Cavusoglu said he delivered the list to his American counterpart, Mike Pompeo, and White House national security adviser John Bolton.

    Earlier, Cavusoglu and Pompeo held a 45-minute meeting at the State Department, where they discussed bilateral and regional issues as well as the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016 which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

    Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary…”

  10. Australia joins US in rejecting UN migration pact (france24, Nov 20, 2018)

    ” Australia’s conservative government announced Wednesday it would reject a UN migration pact already denounced by the United States and several European countries.

    Adopting the pact “would risk encouraging illegal entry to Australia and reverse… hard-won successes in combating the people-smuggling trade”, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a joint statement with his home and foreign ministers.

    Morrison was an architect of Australia’s hardline policy of detaining asylum-seekers trying to reach the country by boat on remote Pacific islands.

    The policy choked off what had been an active people-smuggling trade that saw hundreds of people die at sea trying to reach Australia.

    But hundreds of people have since been held for years in Papua New Guinea and Nauru under the program, which has been harshly criticised as inhumane by the United Nations and human-rights groups.

    “We believe that the compact is inconsistent with our well-established policies and not in Australia’s interest,” the ministers said.

    They added the pact “would also be used by those who have sought to undermine Australia’s strong border-protection laws and practices” in a jab at opposition parties which have been escalating calls for refugees to be released from Nauru and PNG’s Manus Island.

    The UN Global Compact for Migration was agreed in July after 18 months of negotiations and is due to be adopted next month.

    It lays out 23 objectives to open up legal migration and better manage migratory flows as the number of people on the move worldwide has increased to 250 million — three percent of the world’s population.

    The pact has already been rejected by the US administration of Donald Trump and conservative governments in Poland, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

    Morrison’s minority government has been highlighting the issue of immigration as it prepares for national elections due by next May.

    Opinion polls show his conservative coalition trailing well behind the main opposition Labor Party.

    Earlier this week Morrison announced he would also seek to slash legal migration into Australia, from the current official cap of 190,000 per year to around 160,000.

    He said the cut was needed to counter worsening congestion in the nation’s main cities.”

  11. France: Nurses strike nationwide over ‘Health Plan 2022’

    Around a hundred nurses and their supporters protested outside the Ministry of Health in Paris on Tuesday, to ‘demand more recognition and resources’, reports say.

    The protests comes after the government unveiled the ‘Health Plan 2022’, which would reportedly see around 4,000 so-called ‘medical assistant positions’ being opened ‘halfway between the secretariat and the nursing profession’, to allegedly ‘relieve doctors.’

    “We demand the exclusivity of our skills. We did a specialisation to be surgery nurses, we are instrumentalists, we help surgeons in the operating room, like our nursing colleagues who have not done the specialisation. So we demand the exclusivity of our skills as anaesthesia nurses,” said Isabelle, a nurse.

    Similar protests were held in other French cities, including Marseille, Rennes, Lille, Lyon, Strasbourg, Toulouse, and others.

  12. Poland Refuses to Sign UN Global Migration PactWARSAW (Sputnik)
    – The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is set to be formally adopted at the UN conference in Marrakesh, Morocco on December 10-11. In October, Austria and several other EU countries including the Czech Republic and Croatia also announced that they would not be part of the UN global pact on migration.

    Poland will not sign a UN global pact on migration as this document does not provide proper guarantees that a country has a right to decide whom to accept and on its territory, the Polish government’s press service said on Tuesday.

    The Polish government has decided that Poland will not support the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration… neither in Marrakesh nor during the subsequent vote at the UN General Assembly,” the statement said.
    According to the government, this document does not provide guarantees of a state’s sovereign right to decide whom to accept on its territory and it does not contain a clear distinction between legal and illegal migration.

    The migration pact, approved in July by all UN members except for the United States, aims to make the growing tide of international migration more safe and orderly, and came about as a response to the 2015 migration crisis that hit Europe.

    Earlier in the day, Israel refused to support this migration pact. The United States and Hungary were the first nations which announced their plans not to join the future

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