Contributor’s Links post for January 27th, 2019

Daily Links Post graphic

Each day at just after midnight Eastern, a post like this one is created for contributors and readers of this site to upload news links and video links on the issues that concern this site. Most notably, Islam and its effects on Classical Civilization, and various forms of leftism from Soviet era communism, to postmodernism and all the flavours of galloping statism and totalitarianism such as Nazism and Fascism which are increasingly snuffing out the classical liberalism which created our near, miraculous civilization the West has been building since the time of Socrates.

This document was written around the time this site was created, for those who wish to understand what this site is about. And while our understanding of the world and events has grown since then, the basic ideas remain sound and true to the purpose.

So please post all links, thoughts and ideas that you feel will benefit the readers of this site to the comments under this post each day. And thank you all for your contributions.

This is the new Samizdat. We muse use it while we can.

About Eeyore

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

153 Replies to “Contributor’s Links post for January 27th, 2019”

  1. Former Fox News Analyst Kirsten Powers: Media Are the True Victims of Covington Catholic Smear

    CNN political analyst Kirsten Powers, formerly of Fox News, claims that the real victims in the Covington Catholic debacle are the media.

    Powers has been one of a small contingent of journalists who continue to try and smear the teenagers after an out-of-context video clip was used to wrongfully depict them as racists.

  2. Muslim photographer raped & killed a non-Muslim model for saying no to sex
    By Pamela Geller – on January 26, 2019

    According to the police, Muzammil had known fashion model Dixit for a few days and found her attractive. “I called her on the pretext of a photoshoot and demanded to have sex with her. When she refused, I hit her on the head with a wooden stool,” Muzammil is stated to have told the police during his interrogation. As she fell unconscious, the accused molested her and attempted to rape her, according to the charge sheet. He then strangled her with a lace and rope, said police.

  3. Edmonton police watching group that showed up at mosque

    EDMONTON — Police in Edmonton say a group that entered a mosque and later argued with people outside is on their radar, but one member says he was only there to learn more about Islam and just went inside to use the bathroom.

    Noor Al-Henday, a spokeswoman for the Al Rashid mosque, said two men entered the building Friday before prayers and appeared to be scouting the building. She alleged that security video shows them looking into the gym and the men’s area, and that one of them then went upstairs in the women’s area before peeking inside, then coming down again and entering a washroom.

    Al-Henday said the mosque’s executive director spotted one of the men and asked him if he needed help. She said that’s when a man who was wearing a toque with the word “infidel” written in Arabic joined them, but she said the pair weren’t interested in a chat and made their way out of the building.

    “They went outside and our camera footage shows they met up with two other men. I’m not sure if there were more. And they got in a confrontation with our community, with some of the community members who were outside,” Al-Henday said.

    A nine-minute livestream video of the encounter outdoors was recorded and posted to Facebook by Ty Hunt, who said he entered the mosque. The video appears to show an argument about Islam.

    One of the men in the video suggests one of the people attending the mosque was from another country, drawing a passioned response.

    “I was born at York Finch General Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, Canada,” replied the man, who identified himself as Warren Wheeler. “My father’s from Newfoundland. My mother is from Jamaica.”

    Officers were called to the incident but they say no arrests were made.

    Police spokeswoman Cheryl Voordenhout said in an email that the force’s Hate Crimes and Violent Extremism Unit was consulted in the investigation.

    “Hate Crimes unit is aware of this group and is monitoring their activities,” Voordenhout said.

    Hunt, who acknowledges he has a tattoo of the word “infidel” on his neck and was formerly with the group Soldiers of Odin, told The Canadian Press on Facebook that he was at the mosque “to engage in a conversation to ask about Islam” and just stepped inside for a bathroom break.

    “I hear a lot of right-wing propaganda about Islam. Because of the media attention when I was with Soldiers of Odin, it’s been difficult to meet with Muslims anymore,” Hunt wrote.

    “The location of the mosque is not close to other bathrooms. Two weeks ago I was in a Christian church in Leduc and used that bathroom too but (there was) a lot less media attention.”

    Al-Henday said the mosque believes the men intended to provoke.

    “When our executive director approached them and asked them if they needed any help, they did not want to talk to anybody from inside the mosque on our staff,” she said.

    “I mean, you walk into a mosque with a toque that looks like that and just trying to show your faces in multiple places, that cannot be a sign for a good thing.”

    Hunt said the Muslim community has since reached out to him and he’s making arrangements to meet.

    Politicians on both sides of the Alberta legislature weighed in on Saturday to condemn racism.

    “This is odious and has no place in our Alberta. All Albertans must be able to practice their faith in peace without threat or intimidation,” tweeted Jason Kenney, leader of the Alberta United Conservative Party, along with photos and a news story about the confrontation.

    Premier Rachel Notley condemned hate in a tweet on Saturday as well, although it wasn’t clear if she was speaking directly about Friday’s incident.

    “Hearing that a hate group is openly harassing & terrorizing people in #yeg with racist & homophobic attacks & posters is beyond upsetting,” the premier wrote.

    Hate crimes unit consulted for investigation after Edmonton mosque visited by men known to police

    Edmonton police said their hate crimes unit was called in to help investigate after a prominent and well-attended mosque in the northwest part of the city was visited by a group whose activities are known to police.

    A police spokesperson told Global News they could not identify the group being monitored because “groups change names and alliances frequently, so there’s no consistent name they go by.”

    The communications director of Al Rashid Mosque said people she works with were very concerned when the men visited.

    “There were two suspicious men that came into the mosque [and] we were not sure what they were doing,” Noor Al-Henedy told Global News. “One of them was wearing a toque with the word ‘infidel’ on it in Arabic. We didn’t pay attention at first until our executive director went upstairs.

    “They toured the mosque, came upstairs to the women’s section… they were just looking like they were scouting the place and then he (one of the men she called suspicious) went downstairs and went to the bathroom.”

    Al-Henedy said the men left when approached by the mosque’s executive director. She said the men joined other members of their group outside and a confrontation unfolded with members of the community. She said one of the people who was part of the group she didn’t know and who was involved in the confrontation streamed the encounter live online.

    “The security and safety of everyone that was coming to pray in the mosque was our priority,” she said. “So we called the cops right away to get them to come and evaluate the situation and eliminate any threats that may have happened because we were not really sure what was happening.

    “We are entrusted by our community as an organization to make sure that we have the freedom to practise our religion and we wanted to make sure that everybody was in a safe place and nobody was getting harassed.”

    Ty Hunt told Global News he was one of a group of five men that went to the mosque so that he could use the bathroom and they could ask questions about Islam. He said it’s hard for him to ask questions of Muslims because “there’s no Muslims at the Yellow Vest rallies” and “it’s hard to run into a Muslim on the street.”

    Hunt is the bearded man seen entering the building to use the bathroom, and who was wearing the toque that says “infidel” in Arabic.

    “I’ve got a tattoo on my neck that says ‘infidel’ as well… it just means non-believer… in anything,” Hunt said.

    “The Christians don’t get offended by it…I’ve gotten more feedback by the Muslims than I have anybody else…. I put it on my neck because it’s time for them to get over it. You’re in Canada, now it’s [time to] integrate into Canada.”

    In a phone interview, Hunt told Global News he is a former member of the Soldiers of Odin, a far-right group that has members that “adhere to extreme right-wing ideology and are not afraid to use violence,” according to a declassified Canada Border Services Agency intelligence report obtained by Global News


    • Hate crime unit monitoring anti-Islamic group after confrontation at Al Rashid Mosque

      + 9 min video

      Police are investigating after members of an anti-Islamic group showed up at Al Rashid Mosque and confronted people arriving for Friday prayers.

      According to Al Rashid spokeswoman Noor Al-Henedy, two men entered the mosque and appeared to be scouting the building.

      One of the men was wearing a toque printed with the Arabic word for ‘infidel.’

      She said Al Rashid’s executive director tried to speak to the men, but they walked outside, met up with at least two other men, and then got into a confrontation with community members in the mosque’s parking lot.

      Al-Henedy said Friday is the mosque’s busiest day of the week, with a large number of people arriving for prayer.

      “Our No. 1 priority is to ensure that they are safe,” she said, adding that they called the police right away.

      Edmonton police spokeswoman Cheryl Voordenhout confirmed officers from the northwest division were called to respond to a trouble with persons complaint at the mosque in the north Edmonton neighbourhood of Lauderdale just before noon Friday. No arrests were made, but Voordenhout said the hate crimes and violent extremism unit was consulted in the investigation.

      “Hate crimes unit is aware of this group and is monitoring their activities,” Voordenhout said in an email.

      Late Friday, Premier Rachel Notley issued a statement broadly condemning harassment by hate groups.

      “There is no room for this kind of hate in the strong, open and optimistic Alberta that inspires me & is our home,” the premier tweeted.

      Opposition leader Jason Kenney also decried the behaviour.

      “This is odious and has no place in our Alberta. All Albertans must be able to practice their faith in peace without threat or intimidation,” Kenney tweeted.

      A Facebook page for Ty Hunt posted a video of the confrontation with mosque members. The page’s introduction describes it as “The Clann Northern Alberta Infidel Division.”

      In messages over Facebook, Hunt said he was the man wearing the infidel toque inside the mosque, and said he also has the word tattooed on his neck. He denied being Islamophobic, and said he is against all religions. He said his activities are not affiliated with any specific group, though his page features a number of images related to the groups Canadian Infidels and Wolves of Odin, and he said he used to be a member of Soldiers of Odin.

      He said he went inside the mosque to use the bathroom, and the reason he went to the property Friday was “to catch real Muslims walking in to possibly answer questions.”

      Al Rashid was Canada’s first mosque when it was built 80 years ago, and Al Henedy said the mosque and Canadian Islamic Centre is part of local, provincial and national heritage.

      “We’re proud Edmontonians, and we’ve lived for a very long time offering inter-culture and inter-faith dialogue, and we will continue to do that to ensure our community is living here in peace and giving to our city,” said Al-Henedy.

    • AUGUST 2017 – Catholic Archbishop Visits Oldest Mosque in Canada

      Archbishop Richard Smith makes his first visit to a mosque as Archbishop of Edmonton. Al Rashid Mosque is Canada’s oldest mosque site. Bishop Greg Bittman and Chancellor Father Adam Lech were also present to meet with Islamic leaders Imam Nasser Ibrahim and Imam Sadique Pathan in Edmonton.

  4. Nigeria: Boko Haram attacks military bases in Pulka and Logomani (thedefensepost, Jan 27, 2019)

    “Boko Haram insurgents attacked two military bases in northeast Nigeria’s Borno state, near the border with Cameroon, injuring six soldiers, two military sources told AFP on Sunday.

    Early on Sunday, troops fought off an attack by fighters believed to be from the Abubakar Shekau-led faction of Boko Haram in the town of Pulka, around 90 km (56 miles) southeast of Borno state capital Maiduguri, close to the Cameroon border.

    “The terrorists attacked around 1:15 a.m. and soldiers engaged them in a 30-minute fight, forcing them to withdraw,” a military officer said in an account confirmed by another officer.

    The fighters’ intention was to attack and loot the town after overrunning the base, said the officer, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

    Late on Saturday another base in Logomani village near the town of Gamboru was attacked, leading to a fight that left six soldiers injured.

    “Troops came under attack by Boko Haram terrorists who came in four gun trucks around 6:30 p.m.,” the second officer told AFP.

    “Six soldiers were wounded from bomb fragments,” he said.

    ISIS said in a statement that Islamic State West Africa province fighters were responsible for the attack in Logomani, claiming that 30 soldiers were killed and others injured.

    AFP had earlier reported that fighters from the Shekau faction were responsible…”

  5. 10 killed in ‘terrorist attack’ in Sikire in northern Burkina Faso (thedefensepost, Jan 27, 2019)

    “Ten people were killed in a “terrorist attack” in northern Burkina Faso on Sunday, January 27, according to a security source and a local elected official.

    “Around 10 armed individuals in the morning carried out a terrorist attack in the village of Sikire,” which left “10 dead and two seriously wounded,” a security source told AFP.

    Sikire is in the Sahel region’s Soum province, frequently a target of jihadist attacks.

    According to a local official in Arbinda, about 20 km (12 miles) away, contacted by phone from the capital Ouagadougou, “the assailants armed with Kalashnikovs made several tours of the village opening fire on the inhabitants.”

    “They ransacked and set fire to shops and other businesses and took motorbikes,” added the official who requested anonymity.

    He said the inhabitants had stayed holed up in their homes “in panic over these attacks which have been increasing in the area,” he said.

    Gunfire was later reported in Djibo, around 100 km west of Sikire, and a curfew was imposed.

    In a similar attack on January 10, 12 people were killed and two injured in Gasseliki, a village around 30 km south of Arbinda. Six shops and a granary were set on fire, and five motorcycles and “several oxen” were seized by the assailants.

    One of the poorest countries in the world, Burkina Faso lies in the heart of the sprawling, impoverished Sahel, on the southern rim of the Sahara.

    The country been battling an escalating wave of attacks over the last three years, beginning in the North region near the border with Mali. Attacks have spread to the East region, near the border with Togo, Benin and Niger.

    Most attacks are attributed to the jihadist group Ansar ul Islam, which emerged near the Mali border in December 2016, and to the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (JNIM), which has sworn allegiance to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb…”

  6. Yemeni Drones Target Saudi Mercenaries in Asir, Scores Killed (tasnimnews, Jan 27, 2019)

    “The strikes hit the gatherings of the militants, leaving dozens of them dead and injured, a military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Saba news agency on Sunday.

    Separately, the Yemeni forces launched attacks against Saudi-backed forces in al-Rabou’a area of the Asir region.

    Dozens of the militants were killed in the attacks.

    The attacks against the Saudi-led forces come in retaliation for the continued massacre of civilians and destruction of Yemen’s infrastructure by the coalition led by Riyadh…”

  7. Afghan Taliban Dismisses Reports of Deal with US (tasnimnews, Jan 27, 2019)

    “TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The spokesman for Afghanistan’s Taliban, Zabihullah Mujahid, dismissed as false media reports that the group has reached a deal in talks with the US over a truce.

    The fourth round of talks between the Taliban and the US ended on Saturday evening after six days, and apparently, these negotiations have made some progress.

    Mujahid, in a statement, said the two sides discussed the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and other important issues.

    He added that the Taliban and the US managed to make progress on the withdrawal of the foreign troops.

    The Taliban spokesman, however, dismissed reports that a cease-fire agreement was reached and that the group agreed to negotiate with the Afghan government.

    Earlier, Reuters quoted sources as saying that Taliban negotiators and the US officials meeting in Qatar on Saturday finalized clauses to be included in a draft agreement to end the 17-year-old Afghan war.

    Details provided by the sources include apparent concessions from both sides, with foreign forces to be withdrawn from the country in 18 months from the future signing of the deal, Reuters reported.

    US special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad was heading to Afghan capital Kabul to brief President Ashraf Ghani after the end of the six-day talks, the sources and a diplomat said.”

  8. Israel Wrong to Think Closure of Tunnels Will Save It: Hezbollah (tasnimnews, Jan 27, 2019)

    “TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Leader of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah said Israel was deeply wrong to think that the closure of tunnels it claims has discovered would save it from future attacks by the resistance movement.

    Speaking to the Lebanese TV station al-Mayadin on Saturday, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah mocked Israel’s claim that it had discovered secret tunnels used by the group on the border between Lebanon and the occupied Palestinian territories.

    He said some of the secret tunnels run by Hezbollah that Israel claims to have discovered and destroyed in a recent operation had been built by the Lebanese group over a decade ago.

    “What surprises us is that the Israelis were late to discover these tunnels … some of those tunnels preceded the 2006 war,” Nasrallah said.

    The Lebanese leader said the tunnels formed only a small part of Hezbollah’s strategy to target Israel in case a war erupts between the two, adding that it was Tel Aviv regime’s fantasy to claim that destruction of tunnels has saved it from future attacks.

    “Is it logical that Hezbollah would enter the Galilee with thousands of fighters through four tunnels?” he said, adding, “I do not know whether we will attack the Galilee by sea, air, land or tunnels.”

    Nasrallah also refused to confirm the existence of other tunnels leading to the Israeli-occupied territories, saying that should remain a “constructive mystery.”

    The Hezbollah leader said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his military commanders failed to undermine Hezbollah through their revelations about the tunnels, saying a two-month operation that ended this month and was meant to expose the four tunnels had effectively helped Hezbollah because it caused fear among Israeli settlers.

    “All of Netanyahu’s goals failed, and he also helped us in the realm of psychological warfare,” he said, according to Press TV.”

  9. Iran May Adopt Offensive Approach to Protect National Interests: Top General (tasnimnews, Jan 27, 2019)

    “Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri said while the country’s military doctrine is based on defense, the Armed Forces may take an offensive approach at the tactical level to preserve the country’s national interests…”

  10. US Trying to Portray Uncertain Future for Iranians: VP (tasnimnews, Jan 27, 2019)

    “TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iranian First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri highlighted the US government’s endless enmity toward the Islamic Republic and said Washington is seeking to portray the Iranian nation’s future as uncertain and bleak.

    In a speech on Sunday, Jahangiri pointed to the US sanctions on Iran and said, “Concurrent with the recent economic war, the Americans have waged a media and psychological war against the Iranian nation as well.”

    “Their main goal is to portray the future as uncertain for the Iranian people, especially the younger generation,” the vice-president said.

    “They want to increase doubts and concerns about the future in the country, and therefore we should make extensive efforts to resolve ambiguity about the future in order to open up new horizons for the Iranian nation,” Jahangiri added.

    The remarks came as tensions between Iran and the US have escalated since US President Donald Trump walked away from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers in May and re-imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

    US officials have repeatedly claimed that they aim to cut Iran’s oil exports to zero.

    Following the US exit from the nuclear deal, Iran and the remaining parties launched talks to save the accord.

    Trump on August 6 signed an executive order re-imposing many sanctions on Iran, three months after pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal.

    He said the US policy is to levy “maximum economic pressure” on the country.

    The second batch of US sanctions against the Islamic Republic took effect on November 4.”

  11. “There are reasons to worry for French Muslims” Council of Europe

    Head of the CJL Yasser Louati speaks at the Council of Europe about the state of islamophobia in 2018 in France.

    From the Minister of Education Jean Michel Blanquer’s push to regulate modest clothing in schools when it comes to Muslims, to the toxic state of public debate, his position is that “Muslims must organise for the state has been failing them for decades”.

  12. Lord Anderson: Sharia Law is not compatible with the European Convention of Human Rights

    Sharia Law is not compatible with the European Convention of Human Rights, according to Lord Anderson. However he said the Council of Europe should build bridges with member states that apply Sharia principles and discuss how to change their legislation. His report makes country-specific recommendations.


    A federal court is keeping documents justifying an FBI raid on a reportedly recognized whistleblower secret.

    Attorneys and whistleblower advocates say the court should disclose whether prosecutors told the judge that Dennis Cain was a whistleblower.

    Cain reportedly gave documents pertaining to the Clinton Foundation and Uranium One to a presidentially appointed watchdog before the raid.

    A federal court refused to unseal government documents that permitted the FBI to raid the home of a reportedly recognized whistleblower who, according to his lawyer, delivered documents pertaining to the Clinton Foundation and Uranium One to a presidentially appointed watchdog.

    The U.S. District Court of Maryland’s Chief Magistrate Judge Beth P. Gesner, a Clinton appointee, also sealed her justification for keeping the documents secret in a single-page Dec. 20 order.

    On Nov. 15, federal Magistrate Judge Stephanie Gallagher authorized the raid on Dennis Cain’s Union Bridge, Maryland, home. She sealed the government documents justifying it.

    The Daily Caller News Foundation asked Gallagher on Nov. 29 to unseal the documents, noting that Cain’s attorney has said his client, a former employee of an FBI contractor, is a recognized whistleblower. The documents should be released in light of “an urgent public interest” surrounding the case, TheDCNF wrote.

    Attorneys and experts who defend government whistleblowers told TheDCNF the court should disclose whether prosecutors told Gallagher that Cain was a protected whistleblower under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act.

    Cain enjoyed his whistleblower status as early as last summer when he handed over documents to Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, according to Cain’s lawyer, Michael Socarras. Horowitz instructed a top aide to personally hand-deliver the documents to the House and Senate intelligence committees, the attorney said.

    The documents reportedly show that federal officials failed to investigate potential criminal activity regarding the Clinton Foundation and Rostam, the Russian company that purchased Uranium One.

    On Nov. 19, however, Cain was confronted with 16 FBI agents who entered and rummaged through his home for six hours, according to Socarras. Cain informed the lead FBI agent that he was a protected whistleblower, but the raid commenced, anyway.

    Cain has not been charged with any crime. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia is handling the case with Karen Seifert assigned as the prosecutor assigned to the case, according to Cain’s criminal defense lawyer, Nina Ginsberg.

    Maryland U.S. Attorney Robert Hur opposed TheDCNF’s initial request to unseal the documents. In a Dec. 6 letter, Hur told the court doing so “would seriously jeopardize the integrity of the ongoing investigation.”

    His letter, which was also sent to TheDCNF, said nothing about the merits of the government’s case or why the raid was warranted. His specific arguments remain under seal.

    TheDCNF subsequently told Gallagher in a Dec. 12 letter: “We wish to narrow our request to obtain any documents presented by the government that informed the judge of Mr. Cain’s status as a whistleblower.”

    “It seems the Justice Department should be able to address [TheDCNF’s] more narrowly tailored request without compromising the investigation,” the director for investigations at the nonpartisan government watchdog group the Project on Government Oversight, Nick Schwellenbach, told TheDCNF. “Revealing whether the court was informed of his protected disclosures, on its own, doesn’t seem to compromise anything.”

    And Mark Zaid, an attorney who has defended government whistleblowers in national security cases, told TheDCNF: “It would be interesting to know if the judge was aware this person had invoked whistleblower status.”

    Kel McClanahan, an attorney who represents government whistleblowers and is the executive director of National Security Counselors, told TheDCNF: “Should the judge have considered that he was a whistleblower and they were looking for whistleblower stuff? Yes.”

    McClanahan added that government officials could face punishment if they hid information from the magistrate.

    “Hiding the ball can be considered sanctionable conduct because there’s duty to what’s called ‘candor to the court,’” he told TheDCNF. He said Judge Gallagher could eventually rule that the Department of Justice “‘did not demonstrate complete candor to the court.’ It doesn’t affect her conduct. It affects the DOJ’s conduct.”

    The National Security Counselors is a Washington, D.C., nonprofit law firm that specializes in national security, information and privacy law. It often represents intelligence community employees and contractors.

    Zaid told TheDCNF the FBI should have halted its search after Cain informed the lead agent he was a whistleblower.

    “It’s common, unfortunately, I see that they don’t,” Zaid said. “So as a current matter of law and policy, what the FBI did was sadly routine. I had it happen to my clients as well. I find it pretty pathetic.”

    “From a policy perspective, [Cain] should be applauded for what he was trying to do,” he continued.

    McClanahan told TheDCNF: “It’s a matter of personal preference on the part of the DOJ attorney who argued it and the FBI agents on any given day about how much information to give to a judge. They probably included the bare minimum.”

    “What they may not have included was information that they have should have provided,” he continued. “So they are basically rolling the dice.”

    Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked FBI Director Christopher Wray in a Nov. 30 letter whether the bureau was “aware at the time of the raid that Mr. Cain had made what appeared to be lawful disclosures to the Inspector General? If so, was the FBI aware that these disclosures were passed to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, per the [whistleblower act]?”

    Grassley gave Wray until Dec.12 to respond. The FBI has not yet replied, according to the Iowa Republican’s office.

    Grassley has been a dogged Senate champion of government whistleblower rights. He announced the establishment of the bipartisan Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus in 2015 to raise awareness of the need for adequate protections against retaliation for whistleblowers.

  14. SR1.6tr industry, infrastructure boost (saudigazette, Jan 27, 2019)

    “Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, is scheduled to announce the details of a sweeping plan to develop infrastructure and industry on Monday.

    Saudi Arabia is seeking to attract private sector investments worth SR1.6 trillion over the next decade through an industrial development program, Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said on Saturday.

    Investments will be made through the National Industrial Development and Logistics Program (NIDLP).

    Falih said the Kingdom would on Monday announce projects worth SR70 billion that are “ready for negotiations” under the NIDLP to boost industry, mining, energy and logistics.

    At a later stage, it plans to announce projects in the military, chemicals and small businesses industries worth $50 billion.

    “The (NIDLP) program targets SR1.6 trillion… It is quite ambitious but it is over a 10-year period so we have got the time to do it,” Falih told a press conference.

    Transport Minister Nabeel Al-Amudi said that NIDLP would launch 60 initiatives in the logistics sector, including five new airports and 2,000 km of railways, and aims to attract more than SR135 billion of investments.

    Saudi Arabia is getting a makeover under the Crown Prince, who has vowed to steer the economy from its near-total dependence on crude through reforms under Vision 2030.

    The Kingdom’s infrastructure — from roads to water supply — was ranked 40th among 140 nations in the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Competitiveness Report.

    Under Vision 2030 the Kingdom aims to have the private sector operate much of its transport infrastructure, including airports and seaports, with the government keeping a role as regulator.”

  15. ‘Muslim ban’: Two years on, Trump’s order still destroying lives (mee, Jan 27, 2019)

    “Families split; travellers stranded; students unable to attend their universities; people being forced to be away from their loved ones.

    Two years after President Donald Trump signed an executive order severely restricting travel from several Muslim-majority countries, the effects of the executive order that came to be known as the Muslim ban, are still happening.

    “We’ve seen families torn apart, individuals not being able to visit loved ones, weddings that were missed, healthcare they haven’t been able to receive, students not being able to come to school – there is a real life daily impact that it has, and that’s ongoing,” Abed Ayoub, the legal director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), said.

    After Trump signed his ban on 27 January 2017, demonstrators flooded airports, 1,000 State Department officials lodged a rare dissent cable, and lawyers filed a rush of lawsuits all in protest against the executive order, which put a 90-day block on citizens from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia.

    The protests and early court decisions suspending the ban restored hope of a united front against the executive order and underlying bigotry behind it.

    Last year, however, the Supreme Court upheld the ban after a lengthy legal battle, ruling in favour of executive power to control immigration, although Trump had professed to his discriminatory intent as a candidate in late 2015, calling for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims” coming to the US.

    Now advocates say they are turning to politicians and presidential candidates to undo the ban.

    Total chaos
    The order left the lives of people like Syrian doctor Khaled Almilaji, who was waiting to get a visa to continue his masters programme at Brown University and return to his wife who was pregnant with their first child, in limbo.

    “You can go to the website – you see your number and there is ‘pending’. This pending can take years,” he told MEE at the time, stuck in Turkey and continuing his studies remotely while his wife’s due date grew closer.

    It also threw the country’s airports into an instant tailspin, as protesters and lawyers, like Sharifa Abbasi who works for the Virginia-based HMA law firm, gathered to help new arrivals, and untangle a knot of bureaucracy, so freshly spun, no one knew exactly what was going on.

    “There were lawyers on the phone with the local elected official’s offices, people trying to reach Customs and Border Protection and airlines, people writing different memos, teams doing legal research, conference calls going on every day,” said Abbasi, who was volunteering at Dulles Airport.

    “It was beautiful because everybody just wanted to come together and offer their support.”

    As the pack of at least 50 lawyers, fed by other volunteers and surrounded by chanting demonstrators and journalists, continued to advise people, Abbasi said she felt certain that the order would be “blown out by the courts”.

    “I didn’t think it was going to go on for this long, that it even stood a chance,” she said. “But unfortunately, given the political climate we are in now, anything can fly.”

    Ban 3.0
    In fact, the ban had gone through several incarnations before making its way to the Supreme Court last June.

    It originally applied to permanent residents, before the Department of Homeland Security issued a directive exempting Green Card holders from the executive order, following some 24 hours of mass confusion at airports.

    In March 2017, Trump signed what would become known as the “second Muslim ban”. The new decree excluded Iraq from the list. Baghdad had agreed to start accepting deportees from the US in exchange for the move.

    The deal allowed the administration to round up dozens of Iraqi Christians who had outstanding deportation orders, even as they argued that sending them back to Iraq could amount to a “death sentence”.

    In yet another amendment to the ban in September 2017, the White House removed Sudan from the list and added travel restrictions on the citizens of Chad, North Korea and Venezuela.

    Robert McCaw, director of the government affairs department at Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said each version of the ban aimed to “cover up the discrimination, bigotry and unlawfulness” of the previous one.

    “It’s CAIR’s position that the Muslim ban continues, not only to be discriminatory, but is unconstitutional,” McCaw said.

    The way forward
    The Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold the ban was a “travesty of justice”, McCaw said, citing other historical missteps by the high court, including the Korematsu case that allowed the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

    However, he noted that the Supreme Court’s decision is not subject for appeal.

    “So now it is up to Congress to use its lawful authority to de-fund or repeal this Muslim ban executive order,” McCaw continued.

    Late in 2017, Congresswoman Judy Chu and Senator Chris Murphy introduced a bill that would “prohibit the use of any funds or fees to implement” the order.

    Another “legislative fix”, according to McCaw, would be to reform the Immigration and Nationality Act, on which Trump based his executive order.

    McCaw acknowledged that such efforts have minimal chances of passing through Congress, as Trump’s Republican Party is still in control of the US Senate. A legislative push however is still important, he said.

    “It is to communicate to the American public that this order can be overturned by Congress, if there is enough votes,” he said.

    If Trump loses his re-election bid in 2020, his successor could overturn the ban by executive order.

    A handful of Democratic politicians and activists have announced their candidacy for the upcoming presidential elections; McCaw said he is still waiting to see who will be the first candidate who will pledge to repeal the ban.

    Beyond the ban
    The ban has had a chilling effect on the number of people from the targeted countries coming into the US.

    US State Department data shows that in the fiscal year 2018 only 819 Yemenis were granted “immediate relative visas” to join their families in the US, a stark drop from the 8,447 in 2016, President Barack Obama’s last year in office.

    The fiscal year ends on 30 September, meaning the ban was fully in effect for three months in the last reporting cycle.

    Beyond the direct impact of the ban on potential travellers and family members who may await them here, advocates say the executive order has created an atmosphere of fear that has contributed to the rise of Islamophobia.

    “The Muslim ban itself – being discriminatory – marginalises American Muslims and paints them as being a threat to their fellow citizens and neighbours,” McCaw said.

    “Since President Trump was elected and he issued the Muslim ban executive order, there has been a stark increase in hate crimes and acts of discrimination targeting American Muslims, and vandalism targeting their houses of worship and community centres.”

    Ayoub echoed McCaw’s statement, adding that the ban had a “psychological impact” on Arab, Muslim and immigrant communities in the US.

    “Mistrust in the government, worrying about their immigration status, worrying about loved ones, the stress – that really took a toll,” he said.

    According to Ayoub, that anxiety was not limited to people from countries listed in the executive order, as people from all communities, including US citizens, started questioning if they would be targeted next.

    And their concerns are warranted: Abbasi said she has noticed that the processing time for visas for people from countries with large Muslim populations not on the list – like Tunisia, Afghanistan and Pakistan – have slowed down.

    “If you are already outside the country, there are a lot of people that are hopeless,” she said. “Imagine all of the talent in these past two years that really could have done something for the country.”

    ‘Put each other together’
    One of those people was Khaled Almilaji, the Syrian doctor who was stranded in Turkey when the ban came down, hoping to return to his masters programme and to his pregnant wife, Jihan, who is also a doctor.

    Almilaji, 37, was working for a pharmaceutical company and finishing up a medical residency when the war started. In September 2011, he was imprisoned for six months in Damascus. He was tortured for two weeks, including by electrocution, and one of his fingers and a rib was broken.

    Yet prison authorities relied on him to treat other prisoners which he did blindfolded so he couldn’t identify anyone later on.

    After he was released from prison, he spent the next five years making a major impact on healthcare services for Syrians, including his role on a task force that vaccinated 1.4 million Syrian children against polio and stopped the virus from spreading as it had in Iraq.

    Two years after the ban altered their lives, Almilaji’s now 17-month-old daughter, Daria, Jihan and he are now settled in Toronto, where Khaled and Jihan were reunited in June 2017.

    He is nearly done with a masters in health informatics at the University of Toronto, and said he has already used what he has been learning to improve health services in northern Syria.

    “I’m finishing my masters in April. It’s amazing, right?” he said on Saturday. “I was lucky that I didn’t waste more time in this.”

    Jihan, who is preparing for exams to continue her medical studies, has been able to travel to visit her family in Germany. Meanwhile, Khaled has returned frequently to Turkey to work on initiatives including an underground hospital for women and children, and projects providing care for Syrians in Idlib, Aleppo and Hama.

    “We were lucky that we were still able to get degrees, look for medical training jobs and, at the same time, continue doing this work. Not a lot of people had the same chance,” he said.

    One day, he said, he hoped history books will detangle the chaotic political moment, and provide lessons for the world.

    “It’s a mess, but it’s needed because it’s not a matter of the results of one election or another, it’s a matter of our collective behaviour. Our communities are divided, but these things showed that division,” he said.

    “This is good because as a doctor you cannot fix something unless you diagnose it. It was there and now it is on the surface. We have to put each other together.””

  16. Saudi Arabia frees Ethiopian-born tycoon from detention amid flurry of releases (mee, Jan 27, 2019)

    “Saudi Arabia has freed Saudi-Ethiopian businessman Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi more than 14 months after he was detained in a crackdown on corruption, the latest in a flurry of releases as the kingdom faces intense scrutiny over its human rights record.

    Amoudi, 72, was among scores of members of the Saudi business and political elite rounded up and held in Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel in November 2017 on the orders of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).

    The campaign, decried by some critics as mere power play by the powerful young heir apparent, unsettled foreign investors whom Riyadh was courting to support ambitious economic reforms, Reuters said.

    Amoudi, born in Ethiopia and a Saudi citizen, was once considered one of the world’s richest people, with a net worth of as much as $15bn, according to Forbes. Still, his unexplained detention raised questions about his ownership of a far-flung business empire that includes Swedish oil assets, Ethiopian agriculture and Saudi construction and real estate, the Wall Street Journal said.

    A person familiar with Amoudi’s situation told the WSJ: “He paid and he paid a lot” for his freedom. Amoudi’s attorneys specified that his non-Saudi businesses remained independently managed but didn’t address his considerable holdings inside the kingdom.

    Amoudi’s release follows that of several other businessmen last week and comes after the kingdom suffered a global backlash over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the reported torture of women activists.

    The day before his release, his attorneys confirmed that Amoudi was alive, hadn’t been tortured and was living comfortably, the WSJ reported. His attorneys said he hadn’t been charged formally with a crime.

    On Sunday, Ethiopian state television was the first to report he had been freed. A family office spokesman said Amoudi had returned home to the western city of Jeddah.

    Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed also confirmed Amoudi’s release on Twitter, saying he had raised the issue with MBS during a trip to Riyadh last May.

    Some of those detained at the Ritz were released after agreeing secret settlement deals with the Saudi authorities, who said they planned to seize more than $100bn this way.

    The Saudi authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    At least eight other people held as part of the corruption crackdown were released last week, sources told Reuters. They include businessman Amr Dabbagh, former Mecca mayor Osama al-Bar, and Ibrahim al-Muaqel, who headed the Human Resources Development Fund under the then labour minister Adel Fakieh.

    Fakieh is believed to still be in prison, along with former Riyadh governor Prince Turki bin Abdullah and Saudi-American physician Walid al-Fitaihi.

    Bakr bin Laden, who was chairman of builder Saudi Binladin Group before the state seized more than a third of the family-run firm last year, was released temporarily last week to attend a funeral. It was unclear if he would return to detention.

    After the Ritz reopened to the public last February, those still being held were transferred to other locations, including a Riyadh prison.

    The public prosecutor said last year that detainees who refused to settle with the government would be put on trial, but his office has not provided a public update in nearly a year.

    MBS said last October that eight people were still being held. The recent releases suggest a higher number.

    Dozens of clerics, intellectuals and activists are also still believed to be held in an apparent crackdown on dissent over the past 18 months. Among them are several women’s rights activists held since last summer.

    The authorities have accused some dissidents of belonging to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and supporting Qatar, which is locked in a dispute with Riyadh.

    Some detainees have reportedly been tortured, which the government denies.

    Muslim clerics Mohammed al-Mohaisany and Mamdouh al-Harbi have also been released in recent days, according to activists and online videos showing them in public.

    A group of British lawmakers last week joined international rights groups in calling on Riyadh to allow access to independent monitors.”

  17. Turkey: PKK earns $1.5B annually from drugs (memo, jan 27, 2019)

    “Turkey’s interior minister on Sunday said the PKK terror group earns $1.5 billion annually from drugs.

    “The revenue PKK earns from drugs annually is $1.5 billion […] PKK is an organisation [involved in] human smuggling and drug trafficking. Even the US has confessed this reality in official reports,” Suleyman Soylu said at the Fight With Narcotic Crimes Evaluation Meeting in southern Antalya province.

    Soylu said terror and drugs support each other.

    “Terror opens space for drugs and provides logistical facilities to it. Drugs, on the other hand, provide finances to terror,” he said.

    The interior minister said the 28 members of the EU seized a total amount of 4.27 tons of heroin in 2016.

    “The amount we [Turkey] seized alone in 2017 was 15 tons and 17.9 tons in 2018,” he added.

    In its more than 30-year “terror campaign” against Turkey – the PKK, recognised as a terrorist group by Turkey, the US, and the EU – has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people.”

  18. Philippines vows to crush ‘terrorists’ after church bombs kill 20 (reuters, Jan 27, 2019)

    “The Philippines vowed to destroy those behind twin bombings that killed 20 people during a Sunday church service in the country’s restive south, six days after a referendum on autonomy for the mainly Muslim region returned an overwhelming “yes” vote.

    The attack wounded more than 100 people and was one of the deadliest in recent years in a region long plagued by instability. It came amid hope and excitement about the ratification of a devolution plan that aims to bring development, jobs and peace to one of Asia’s poorest and most volatile places…”

  19. Daesh ‘caliphate’ reduced to pair of villages (gulfnews, Jan 27, 2019)

    “A pair of dusty villages in the Syrian desert are all that remain of the vast expanse of territory Daesh once called its caliphate, and the complete territorial defeat of the militant group appears to be imminent, according to US and Kurdish officials.

    A few hundred of some of the most die-hard Daesh fighters are making their last stand in the villages of Marashida and Baghuz Fawqani on the banks of the Euphrates River, a few miles from the Iraqi border in southeastern Syria. With the Syrian regime’s army on the other side of the river, a group that once controlled an area the size of Britain is pinned down by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in a dot of land measuring 6 square miles.

    It is now only a matter of weeks or even days before the villages are overrun and Daesh’s vaunted state-building enterprise in Syria and Iraq is brought to an end, military officials say.

    The conclusion of the 4 1/2-year war will add urgency to the question of when and how the United States will pull its forces out of Syria, as ordered by President Donald Trump last month. He later said they would remain to finish the fight against Daesh, and still no date has been set for their withdrawal.

    Col. Sean Ryan, the US military spokesman in Baghdad, cautioned that the end of the war on the ground will not halt the threat posed by Daesh, which is trying to regroup as an insurgent force in many of the areas where it has lost control…”

  20. Turkey hits YPG targets in northern Syria (hurriyetdailynews, Jan 27, 2019)

    “Turkish army yesterday hit YPG targets in northern Syria, “neutralizing” many militants, state-run Anadolu Agency said in a report based on local sources. Turkish howitzer hit YPG positions in Azaz and Mare districts, the agency said.

    Separately, a Free Syrian Army (FSA) member was killed, and three others injured in a clash with YPG late on Jan. 26, the agency said.

    The Turkish military also struck YPG target in Syria’s Tal Rifat over the past three days.

    Tal Rifaat is some 20 kilometers west of Afrin, which has been under the control of Turkey and its Free Syrian Army allies since an operation last year aimed at driving out the YPG.

    Ankara considers the YPG as a terrorist organization due to its links with the PKK, which is listed a terror group by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union…”

  21. Florida’s Muslim Community Helps Workers Impacted by Government Shutdown (moroccoworldnews, Jan 27, 2019)

    “Muslims in Tampa, Florida launched a humanitarian initiative to help those impacted by the government shutdown in the US. The community will be serving free dinners for federal workers impacted by the US government shutdown.

    Dinners will be served daily from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay in Florida.

    Syrian refugees will be helping by cooking meals for the workers and their families. The program includes a food pantry and cash allowance.

    The US government announced a partial end to the shutdown on Friday. US President Donald Trump signed a bill to end the shutdown on Friday.

    “We have reached a deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government,” Trump said.

    But Trump warned that the government will shut down again on February 15 “If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress.”

    “The government will either shut down on Feb. 15, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and Constitution of the United States to address this emergency,” he added.”

  22. Turkish president declares to produce larger armed UAVs (aa, Jan 27, 2019)

    “Turkey will produce larger armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in a few months, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Sunday.

    Speaking at a mass opening ceremony in the Mediterranean province of Antalya, Erdogan stated the new product would set “an example to the world.”

    Stating that Turkey has been producing both surveillance and armed drones, Turkish leader said: “Now, we are producing larger armed unmanned air vehicles and it will be completed in a few months.”

    He went on to say that 65 percent of Turkish defense industry needs are provided by local producers, highlighting his country’s recent success in the defense industry.

    On upcoming local elections in the country, President Erdogan, who is also the head of ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, said the elections are crucial for the future of Turkey.

    The March 31 elections have become “a matter of survival for our country” due to the latest developments in the region, he said at a dinner with his party officials in Antalya later in the day.”

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