Contributor’s Links post for February 19th, 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

184 Replies to “Contributor’s Links post for February 19th, 2019”

  1. Post-Caliphate ISIS

    by Lawrence A. Franklin
    February 19, 2019 at 4:00 am

    The disintegration of the Islamic State’s Caliphate — which once included large portions of Iraq and Syria — may be a strategic defeat for ISIS, yet the jihadi terrorist group is very much alive. Its ideology, tactics and objectives have not altered. ISIS remains steeped in the ideology of “salafiya jihadiyah” (Salafi jihad), which requires every Muslim to wage “holy war” in some fashion against the “infidel.”

    The ideological vision of ISIS and the extremist acts which flow from that vision, such as its iconoclastic destruction of graves, sacred shrines, and cultural sites, closely resembles that of Sunni Wahhabi extremism with origins in Saudi Arabia, the source of the ISIS’s ideological conflict against the values shared by freedom loving nations. An example of this ideological affinity is ISIS’ destruction of the alleged graves of the Prophets Daniel and Jonah in the area of Mosul, Iraq in July 2014. As early as 1802, Wahhabi marauders acted similarly, destroying many shrines, graves and sacred sites in Shia Islam’s holy city of Karbala, while massacring hundreds of Shia Muslims in the process. This behavior closely resembles the comportment of ISIS operatives throughout their Caliphate territories in Iraq, where they destroyed Christian churches in Mosul, Iraq and in Syria where they demolished ancient ruins in Palmyra.

  2. BBC – Britain’s yellow-vest activists

    Newsnight has been told that the far-right, which has traditionally been fragmented in the UK, is coming together under the banner of the yellow-vests to try to create unrest.

    For several months, protesters wearing high vis jackets have been holding small rallies and protests every weekend in various towns and cities across Britain.

    Inspired by what’s been happening – on a much larger scale – in France, these self-dubbed yellow-vest activists have a wide range of demands and grievances.

    Fulfilling Brexit is prominent, so too is the belief that last year the authorities covered up the murder of three teenagers in west London.

    With divisions in Britain apparently widening as the clock ticks down to the end of March, in amongst the genuine protesters, is something more sinister happening?

    This report is from Katie Razzall and Yasminara Khan.

  3. On January 29, Two Hate Crimes Occurred. The Media Only Covered The Fake One. Here’s Why.

    On January 29, 2019, Chicago Police opened a hate crime investigation into the alleged assault of Empire actor Jussie Smollett. Smollett, who is black and gay, alleged that two men approached him at 2 a.m. in Chicago, where they shouted “f*****” and “n*****,” tried to wrap a noose around his neck, and poured bleach on him. He also told TMZ that the men shouted, “This is MAGA country.”


    The story received unending press. The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), tweeted, “The racist, homophobic attack on [Smollett] is an affront to our humanity.” Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) called it a “modern-day lynching.” Congresswoman and Fresh Face™ of the Democratic Party Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slammed anyone who questioned the story, tweeting, “The attack was not ‘possibly’ homophobic. It was a racist and homophobic attack.”

    The media ran with the story. Good Morning America hosted Smollett, where he maligned anyone who asked questions as a racist and a homophobe. CNN’s Brooke Baldwin stated, “This is America in 2019.” Celebrities parroted their support for Smollett, with many blaming President Trump and Vice President Pence for the attack.

  4. NYT – Intimidation, Pressure and Humiliation: Inside Trump’s Two-Year War on the Investigations Encircling Him

    President Trump’s efforts have exposed him to accusations of obstruction of justice as Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, finishes his work.

    By Mark Mazzetti, Maggie Haberman, Nicholas Fandos and Michael S. Schmidt
    Feb. 19, 2019

    WASHINGTON — As federal prosecutors in Manhattan gathered evidence late last year about President Trump’s role in silencing women with hush payments during the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump called Matthew G. Whitaker, his newly installed attorney general, with a question. He asked whether Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York and a Trump ally, could be put in charge of the widening investigation, according to several American officials with direct knowledge of the call.

    Mr. Whitaker, who had privately told associates that part of his role at the Justice Department was to “jump on a grenade” for the president, knew he could not put Mr. Berman in charge because Mr. Berman had already recused himself from the investigation. The president soon soured on Mr. Whitaker, as he often does with his aides, and complained about his inability to pull levers at the Justice Department that could make the president’s many legal problems go away.

    Trying to install a perceived loyalist atop a widening inquiry is a familiar tactic for Mr. Trump, who has been struggling to beat back the investigations that have consumed his presidency. His efforts have exposed him to accusations of obstruction of justice as Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, finishes his work investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    Mr. Trump’s public war on the inquiry has gone on long enough that it is no longer shocking. Mr. Trump rages almost daily to his 58 million Twitter followers that Mr. Mueller is on a “witch hunt” and has adopted the language of Mafia bosses by calling those who cooperate with the special counsel “rats.” His lawyer talks openly about a strategy to smear and discredit the special counsel investigation. The president’s allies in Congress and the conservative news media warn of an insidious plot inside the Justice Department and the F.B.I. to subvert a democratically elected president.

    An examination by The New York Times reveals the extent of an even more sustained, more secretive assault by Mr. Trump on the machinery of federal law enforcement. Interviews with dozens of current and former government officials and others close to Mr. Trump, as well as a review of confidential White House documents, reveal numerous unreported episodes in a two-year drama.

    White House lawyers wrote a confidential memo expressing concern about the president’s staff peddling misleading information in public about the firing of Michael T. Flynn, the Trump administration’s first national security adviser. Mr. Trump had private conversations with Republican lawmakers about a campaign to attack the Mueller investigation. And there was the episode when he asked his attorney general about putting Mr. Berman in charge of the Manhattan investigation.

    Mr. Whitaker, who this month told a congressional committee that Mr. Trump had never pressured him over the various investigations, is now under scrutiny by House Democrats for possible perjury.

    A Justice Department spokeswoman said Tuesday that the White House had not asked Mr. Whitaker to interfere in the investigations. “Under oath to the House Judiciary Committee, then-Acting Attorney General Whitaker stated that ‘at no time has the White House asked for nor have I provided any promises or commitments concerning the special counsel’s investigation or any other investigation,’” said the spokeswoman, Kerri Kupec. “Mr. Whitaker stands by his testimony.”

    The White House declined to comment for this article.

    The story of Mr. Trump’s attempts to defang the investigations has been voluminously covered in the news media, to such a degree that many Americans have lost track of how unusual his behavior is. But fusing the strands reveals an extraordinary story of a president who has attacked the law enforcement apparatus of his own government like no other president in history, and who has turned the effort into an obsession. Mr. Trump has done it with the same tactics he once used in his business empire: demanding fierce loyalty from employees, applying pressure tactics to keep people in line and protecting the brand — himself — at all costs.

    Trump’s Public Attacks Against the Russia Investigation

    President Trump has publicly criticized dozens of people and groups related to federal inquiries into contacts between his campaign and Russia, according to a New York Times analysis of nearly every public statement or attack on Twitter that he has made while in office.

    It is a public relations strategy as much as a legal strategy — a campaign to create a narrative of a president hounded by his “deep state” foes. The new Democratic majority in the House, and the prospect of a wave of investigations on Capitol Hill this year, will test whether the strategy shores up Mr. Trump’s political support or puts his presidency in greater peril. The president has spent much of his time venting publicly about there being “no collusion” with Russia before the 2016 election, which has diverted attention from a growing body of evidence that he has tried to impede the various investigations.

    Julie O’Sullivan, a criminal law professor at Georgetown University, said she believed there was ample public evidence that Mr. Trump had the “corrupt intent” to try to derail the Mueller investigation, the legal standard for an obstruction of justice case.

    But this is far from a routine criminal investigation, she said, and Mr. Mueller will have to make judgments about the effect on the country of making a criminal case against the president. Democrats in the House have said they will wait for Mr. Mueller to finish his work before making a decision about whether the president’s behavior warrants impeachment.

    In addition to the Mueller investigation, there are at least two other federal inquiries that touch the president and his advisers — the Manhattan investigation focused on the hush money payments made by Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, and an inquiry examining the flow of foreign money to the Trump inaugural committee.

    The president’s defenders counter that most of Mr. Trump’s actions under scrutiny fall under his authority as the head of the executive branch. They argue that the Constitution gives the president sweeping powers to hire and fire, to start and stop law enforcement proceedings, and to grant presidential pardons to friends and allies. A sitting American president cannot be indicted, according to current Justice Department policy.

    Mr. Trump’s lawyers add this novel response: The president has been public about his disdain for the Mueller investigation and other federal inquiries, so he is hardly engaged in a conspiracy. He fired one F.B.I. director and considered firing his replacement. He humiliated his first attorney general for being unable to “control” the Russia investigation and installed a replacement, Mr. Whitaker, who has told people he believed his job was to protect the president. But that, they say, is Donald Trump being Donald Trump.

    In other words, the president’s brazen public behavior might be his best defense.

    • The first crisis

      The investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign aided the effort presented the new White House with its first crisis after only 25 days. The president immediately tried to contain the damage.

      It was Feb. 14, 2017, and Mr. Trump and his advisers were in the Oval Office debating how to explain the resignation of Michael T. Flynn, the national security adviser, the previous night. Mr. Flynn, who had been a top campaign adviser to Mr. Trump, was under investigation by the F.B.I. for his contacts with Russians and secret foreign lobbying efforts for Turkey.

      The Justice Department had already raised questions that Mr. Flynn might be subject to blackmail by the Russians for misleading White House officials about the Russian contacts, and inside the White House there was a palpable fear that the Russia investigation could consume the early months of a new administration.

      As the group in the Oval Office talked, one of Mr. Trump’s advisers mentioned in passing what Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, then the speaker of the House, had told reporters — that Mr. Trump had asked Mr. Flynn to resign.

      It was unclear where Mr. Ryan had gotten that information, but Mr. Trump seized on Mr. Ryan’s words. “That sounds better,” the president said, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. Mr. Trump turned to the White House press secretary at the time, Sean Spicer, who was preparing to brief the news media.

      “Say that,” Mr. Trump ordered.

      But was that true, Mr. Spicer pressed.

      “Say that I asked for his resignation,” Mr. Trump repeated.

      The president appeared to have little concern about what he told the public about Mr. Flynn’s departure, and he quickly warmed to the new narrative. The episode was among the first of multiple ham-handed efforts by the president to carry out a dual strategy: publicly casting the Russia story as an overblown hoax and privately trying to contain the investigation’s reach.

      How The Times Reported This Story

      “This Russia thing is all over now because I fired Flynn,” Mr. Trump said over lunch that day, according to a new book by Chris Christie, a former New Jersey governor and a longtime Trump ally.

      Mr. Christie was taken aback. “This Russia thing is far from over,” Mr. Christie wrote that he told Mr. Trump, who responded: “What do you mean? Flynn met with the Russians. That was the problem. I fired Flynn. It’s over.”

      Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, who was also at the lunch, chimed in, according to Mr. Christie’s book: “That’s right, firing Flynn ends the whole Russia thing.”

      As Mr. Trump was lunching with Mr. Christie, lawyers in the White House Counsel’s Office met with Mr. Spicer about what he should say from the White House podium about what was a sensitive national security investigation. But when Mr. Spicer’s briefing began, the lawyers started hearing numerous misstatements — some bigger than others — and ended up compiling them all in a memo.

      The lawyers’ main concern was that Mr. Spicer overstated how exhaustively the White House had investigated Mr. Flynn and that he said, wrongly, that administration lawyers had concluded there were no legal issues surrounding Mr. Flynn’s conduct.

      Mr. Spicer later told people he stuck to talking points that he was given by the counsel’s office, and that White House lawyers expressed concern only about how he had described the thoroughness of the internal inquiry into Mr. Flynn. The memo written by the lawyers said that Mr. Spicer was presented with a longer list of his misstatements. The White House never publicly corrected the record.

      Later that day, Mr. Trump confronted the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, in the Oval Office. The president told him that Mr. Spicer had done a great job explaining how the White House had handled the firing. Then he asked Mr. Comey to end the F.B.I.’s investigation into Mr. Flynn, and said that Mr. Flynn was a good guy.

      Mr. Comey responded, according to a memo he wrote at the time, that Mr. Flynn was indeed a good guy. But he said nothing about ending the F.B.I. investigation.

      By March, Mr. Trump was in a rage that his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, had recused himself from the Russia inquiry because investigators were looking into the campaign, of which Mr. Sessions had been a part. Mr. Trump was also growing increasingly frustrated with Mr. Comey, who refused to say publicly that the president was not under investigation.

      Mr. Trump finally fired Mr. Comey in May. But the president and the White House gave conflicting accounts of their reasoning for the dismissal, which served only to exacerbate the president’s legal exposure.

      A week after the firing, The Times disclosed that the president had asked Mr. Comey to end the Flynn investigation. The next day, the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, appointed Mr. Mueller, a Republican, as special counsel.

      Instead of ending the Russia investigation by firing Mr. Comey, Mr. Trump had drastically raised the stakes.

    • Boiling frustration

      Mr. Mueller’s appointment fueled Mr. Trump’s anger and what became increasingly reckless behavior — triggering a string of actions over the summer of 2017 that could end up as building blocks in a case by Congress that the president engaged in a broad effort to thwart the investigation.

      On Twitter and in news media interviews, Mr. Trump tried to pressure investigators and undermine the credibility of potential witnesses in the Mueller investigation.

      He directed much of his venom at Mr. Sessions, who had recused himself in March from overseeing the Russia investigation because of contacts he had during the election with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.

      The president humiliated Mr. Sessions at every turn, and stunned Washington when he said during an interview with The Times that he never would have named Mr. Sessions attorney general if he had known Mr. Sessions would step aside from the investigation.

      Privately, Mr. Trump tried to remove Mr. Sessions — he said he wanted an attorney general who would protect him — but did not fire him, in part because White House aides dodged the president’s orders to demand his resignation. The president even called his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, over the Fourth of July weekend to ask him to pressure Mr. Sessions to resign. Mr. Lewandowski was noncommittal and never acted on the request.

      Trump Has Publicly Attacked the Russia Investigation More Than 1,100 Times
      President Trump has publicly criticized federal investigations, opening him up to possible obstruction of justice charges.

      One of Mr. Trump’s lawyers also reached out that summer to the lawyers for two of his former aides — Paul Manafort and Mr. Flynn — to discuss possible pardons. The discussions raised questions about whether the president was willing to offer pardons to influence their decisions about whether to plead guilty and cooperate in the Mueller investigation.

      The president even tried to fire Mr. Mueller himself, a move that could have brought an end to the investigation. Just weeks after Mr. Mueller’s appointment, the president insisted that he ought to be fired because of perceived conflicts of interest. Mr. Trump’s White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, who would have been responsible for carrying out the order, refused and threatened to quit.

      The president eventually backed off.

      A new strategy: discrediting an investigation

      Sitting in the Delta Sky Lounge during a layover at Atlanta’s airport in July 2017, Representative Matt Gaetz, a first-term Republican from the Florida Panhandle, decided it was time to attack. Mr. Gaetz, then 35, believed that the president’s allies in Congress needed a coordinated strategy to fight back against an investigation they viewed as deeply unfair and politically biased.

      He called Representative Jim Jordan, a conservative Republican from Ohio, and told him the party needed “to go play offense,” Mr. Gaetz recalled in an interview.

      The two men believed that Republican leaders, who publicly praised the appointment of Mr. Mueller, had been beaten into a defensive crouch by the unending chaos and were leaving Democrats unchecked to “pistol whip” the president with constant accusations about his campaign and Russia.

      So they began to investigate the investigators. Mr. Trump and his lawyers enthusiastically encouraged the strategy, which, according to some polls, convinced many Americans that the country’s law enforcement apparatus was determined to bring down the president.

      Within days of their conversation, Mr. Gaetz and Mr. Jordan drafted a letter to Mr. Sessions and Mr. Rosenstein, the first call for the appointment of a second special counsel to essentially reinvestigate Hillary Clinton for her handling of her emails while secretary of state — the case had ended in the summer of 2016 — as well as the origins of the F.B.I.’s investigation of Mr. Flynn and other Trump associates.

      The letter itself, with the signatures of only 20 House Republicans, gained little traction at first. But an important shift was underway: At a time when Mr. Trump’s lawyers were urging him to cooperate with Mr. Mueller and to tone down his Twitter feed, the president’s fiercest allies in Congress and the conservative news media were busy trying to flip the script on the federal law enforcement agencies and officials who began the inquiry into Mr. Trump’s campaign.

      Mr. Gaetz and Mr. Jordan began huddling with like-minded Republicans, sometimes including Representative Mark Meadows, a press-savvy North Carolinian close to Mr. Trump, and Representative Devin Nunes of California, the head of the House Intelligence Committee.

      Mr. Nunes, the product of a dairy farming family in California’s Central Valley, had already emerged as one of Mr. Trump’s strongest allies in Congress. He worked closely with Mr. Flynn during the Trump transition after the 2016 election, and he had a history of battling the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies, which he sometimes accused of coloring their analysis for partisan reasons. In the spring of 2017, Mr. Nunes sought to bolster Mr. Trump’s false claim that President Barack Obama had ordered an illegal wiretap on Trump Tower in Manhattan.

      Using Congress’s oversight powers, the Republican lawmakers succeeded in doing what Mr. Trump could not realistically do on his own: force into the open some of the government’s most sensitive investigative files — including secret wiretaps and the existence of an F.B.I. informant — that were part of the Russia inquiry.

      House Republicans opened investigations into the F.B.I.’s handling of the Clinton email case and a debunked Obama-era uranium deal indirectly linked to Mrs. Clinton. The lawmakers got a big assist from the Justice Department, which gave them private texts recovered from two senior F.B.I. officials who had been on the Russia case. The officials — Peter Strzok and Lisa Page — repeatedly criticized Mr. Trump in their texts, which were featured in a loop on Fox News and became a centerpiece of an evolving and powerful conservative narrative about a cabal inside the F.B.I. and Justice Department to take down Mr. Trump.

      The president cheered the lawmakers on Twitter, in interviews and in private, urging Mr. Gaetz on Air Force One in December 2017 and in subsequent phone calls to keep up the House Republicans’ oversight work. He was hoping for fair treatment from Mr. Mueller, Mr. Trump told Mr. Gaetz in one of the calls just after the congressman appeared on Fox News, but that did not preclude him from encouraging his allies’ scrutiny of the investigation.

      Later, when Mr. Nunes produced a memo alleging that the F.B.I. had abused its authority in spying on a former Trump campaign associate, Carter Page, Mr. Trump called Mr. Nunes a “Great American Hero.” (The F.B.I. said it had “grave concerns” about the memo’s accuracy.)

      The president became an active participant in the effort to attack American law enforcement. He repeatedly leaned on administration officials on behalf of the lawmakers — urging Mr. Rosenstein and other law enforcement leaders to flout procedure and share sensitive materials about the open case with Congress. As president, Mr. Trump has ultimate authority over information that passes through the government, but his interventions were unusual.

      By the spring of 2018, Mr. Nunes zeroed in on new targets. In one case, he threatened to hold Mr. Rosenstein in contempt of Congress or even try to impeach him if the documents he wanted were not turned over, including the file used to open the Russia case. In another, he pressed the Justice Department for sensitive information about a trusted F.B.I. informant used in the Russia investigation, a Cambridge professor named Stefan Halper — even as intelligence officials said that the release of the information could damage relationships with important allies.

      The president chimed in, accusing the F.B.I., without evidence, of planting a spy in his campaign. “SPYGATE could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!” Mr. Trump wrote, turning the term into a popular hashtag.

      Most Senate Republicans tried to ignore the House tactics, and not all House Republicans who participated in the investigations agreed with the scorched-earth approach. Representative Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina and a former federal prosecutor who had led Republicans in the Benghazi investigation, felt that figures like Mr. Gaetz and, in some cases, Mr. Nunes, were hurting their own cause with a sloppy, overhyped campaign that damaged Congress’s credibility.

      Former Representative Thomas J. Rooney of Florida, a Republican who sat on the Intelligence Committee and retired last year, was similarly critical. “The efforts to tag Mueller as a witch hunt are a mistake,” he said in an interview. “The guy is an American hero. He is somebody who has always spouted the rule of law in what our country is about.”

      But Mr. Gaetz makes no apologies.

      “Do I think it’s right that our work in the Congress has aided in the president’s defense?” he asked, before answering his own question.

      “Yeah, I think it is right.”

      Ultimately, his strategy was successful in softening the ground for a shift in the president’s legal strategy — away from relatively quiet cooperation with Mr. Mueller’s investigators and toward a targeted and relentless frontal attack on their credibility and impartiality.

    • The president opens a new front

      Last April, Mr. Trump hired Rudolph W. Giuliani, his longtime friend and a famously combative former mayor of New York, as his personal lawyer and ubiquitous television attack dog. A new war had begun.

      In jettisoning his previous legal team — which had counseled that Mr. Trump should cooperate with the investigation — the president decided to combine a legal strategy with a public relations campaign in an aggressive effort to undermine the credibility of both Mr. Mueller and the Justice Department.

      Mr. Mueller was unlikely to indict Mr. Trump, the president’s advisers believed, so the real danger to his presidency was impeachment — a political act that Congress would probably carry out only with broad public support. If Mr. Mueller’s investigation could be discredited, then impeachment might be less likely.

      Months of caustic presidential tweets and fiery television interviews by Mr. Giuliani unfolded. The former mayor accused Mr. Mueller, without evidence, of bias and ignoring facts to carry out an anti-Trump agenda. He called one of Mr. Mueller’s top prosecutors, Andrew Weissmann, a “complete scoundrel.”

      Behind the scenes, Mr. Giuliani was getting help from a curious source: Kevin Downing, a lawyer for Mr. Manafort. Mr. Manafort, who had been Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman, had agreed to cooperate with the special counsel after being convicted of financial crimes in an attempt to lessen a potentially lengthy prison sentence. Mr. Downing shared details about prosecutors’ lines of questioning, Mr. Giuliani admitted late last year.

      It was a highly unusual arrangement — the lawyer for a cooperating witness providing valuable information to the president’s lawyer at a time when his client remained in the sights of the special counsel’s prosecutors. The arrangement angered Mr. Mueller’s investigators, who questioned what Mr. Manafort was trying to gain from the arrangement.

      The attacks on the Mueller investigation appeared to have an effect. Last summer, polling showed a 14-point uptick in the percentage of Americans polled who disapproved of how Mr. Mueller was handling the inquiry. “Mueller is now slightly more distrusted than trusted, and Trump is a little ahead of the game,” Mr. Giuliani said during an interview in August.

      “So I think we’ve done really well,” Mr. Giuliani added. “And my client’s happy.”

      The F.B.I. raids Michael Cohen

      But Mr. Giuliani and his client had a serious problem, which they were slow to comprehend.

      In April, the F.B.I. raided the Manhattan office and residences of Mr. Cohen — the president’s lawyer and fixer — walking off with business records, emails and other documents dating back years. At first, Mr. Trump was not concerned.

      The president told advisers that Mr. Rosenstein assured him at the time that the Cohen investigation had nothing to do with him. In the president’s recounting, Mr. Rosenstein told him that the inquiry in New York was about Mr. Cohen’s business dealings, that it did not involve the president and that it was not about Russia. Since then, Mr. Trump has asked his advisers if Mr. Rosenstein was deliberately misleading him to keep him calm.

      Mr. Giuliani initially portrayed Mr. Cohen as “honest,” and the president praised him publicly. But Mr. Cohen soon told prosecutors in New York how Mr. Trump had ordered him during the 2016 campaign to buy the silence of women who claimed they had sex with Mr. Trump. In a separate bid for leniency, Mr. Cohen told Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors about Mr. Trump’s participation in negotiations during the height of the presidential campaign to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

      Mr. Trump was now battling twin investigations that seemed to be moving ever close to him. And Mr. Cohen, once the president’s fiercest defender, was becoming his chief tormentor.

      In a court appearance in August, Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty and told a judge that Mr. Trump had ordered him to arrange the payments to the women, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. Mr. Cohen’s descriptions of Mr. Trump’s actions made the president, in effect, an unindicted co-conspirator and raised the prospect of the president being charged after he leaves office. Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, who in January became the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the matter, said the implied offense was probably impeachable.

      The president struck back, launching a volley of tweets that savaged Mr. Cohen and his family — insinuating that Mr. Cohen’s father-in-law had engaged in unexamined criminal activity. He called Mr. Cohen a “rat.” The messages infuriated Democratic lawmakers, who claimed the president was trying to threaten and intimidate a witness before testimony Mr. Cohen planned before Congress.

      “He’s only been threatened by the truth,” the president responded.

    • Another attorney general takes office

      As the prosecutors closed in, Mr. Trump felt a more urgent need to gain control of the investigation.

      He made the call to Mr. Whitaker to see if he could put Mr. Berman in charge of the New York investigation. The inquiry is run by Robert Khuzami, a career prosecutor who took over after Mr. Berman, whom Mr. Trump appointed, recused himself because of a routine conflict of interest.

      What exactly Mr. Whitaker did after the call is unclear, but there is no evidence that he took any direct steps to intervene in the Manhattan investigation. He did, however, tell some associates at the Justice Department that the prosecutors in New York required “adult supervision.”

      Second, Mr. Trump moved on to a new attorney general, William P. Barr, whom Mr. Trump nominated for the job in part because of a memo Mr. Barr wrote last summer making a case that a sitting American president cannot be charged with obstruction of justice for acts well within his power — like firing an F.B.I. director.

      A president cannot be found to have broken the law, Mr. Barr argued, if he was exercising his executive powers to fire subordinates or use his “complete authority to start or stop a law enforcement proceeding.”

      The memo might have ingratiated Mr. Barr to his future boss, but Mr. Barr is also respected among the rank and file in the Justice Department. Many officials there hope he will try to change the Trump administration’s combative tone toward the department, as well as toward the F.B.I.

      Whether it is too late is another question. Mr. Trump’s language, and allegations of “deep state” excesses, are now embedded in the political conversation, used as a cudgel by the president’s supporters.

      This past December, days before Mr. Flynn was to be sentenced for lying to the F.B.I., his lawyers wrote a memo to the judge suggesting that federal agents had tricked the former national security adviser into lying. The judge roundly rejected that argument, and on sentencing day, he excoriated Mr. Flynn for his crimes.

      The argument about F.B.I. trickery did, however, appear to please the one man who holds great power over Mr. Flynn’s future — the constitutional power to pardon.

      “Good luck today in court to General Michael Flynn,” Mr. Trump tweeted cheerily on the morning of the sentencing.


      CNN – NYT: Trump may have tried to interfere with Cohen investigation

      According to a New York Times report, President Trump may have tried to interfere with the investigation of his former personal attorney Michael Cohen by asking acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to put a Trump ally in charge of the investigation, despite recusal.

      • Media establishment (including 90% of Israeli MSM) using {dead +/- injured}-Jews as props in their phony narrative.

        Stinks to high heaven.
        Jews don’t have to live crouched in fear, begging protection from tolerant overlords. That cringing, shuffling, jiving Euro-Jew is an overripe cliche.

        That may be a choice some make. Just as there are those who choose to whine for foodstamps rather than work for a living.

    • “Pin the tail on the Honky” = KEEPER!

      It’s girls with pimples
      And cripples with dimples
      that just wont go away !
      Its spics and wops and niggers and kikes
      with noses as long as your arm!
      Its micks and chinks and gooks and geeks
      and honkies
      (Honk! Honk!)
      who never left the farm !

  5. Patriotic 7 Year-old Called “LITTLE HITLER” for His Entrepreneurial Fundraising Effort

    Once again, the radical left has brought “Hitler” into the mix, this time to insult an elementary school student

    There are far too many so-called “Americans” out there, sleeping well at night, despite the pure and unadulterated hate in their hearts that would keep a more sane man endlessly awake and wrought with guilt.

    In 2019, America is in a rough spot, culturally. The economy is booming, sure, but at the cost of our dignity and decorum, it seems.

    The impetus behind this unprecedented fiscal free-for-all is likely President Donald Trump – a man whose business ethos and ultra-tough negotiating tactics are righting the ship, so to speak, after nearly a decade of hardcore, liberally-instigated government spending.

  6. India says army killed Kashmir suicide bomb commander (thedefensepost, Feb 19, 2019)

    “India’s army said Tuesday, February 19 that it had killed the mastermind of a major suicide bomb attack in Kashmir which it blamed on Pakistan, as calls grew for reprisals over the deaths of more than 40 paramilitaries and soldiers.

    Indian forces have conducted operations since Thursday’s attack while anti-Pakistan and anti-Kashmir sentiment has spread across the country, fueled by social media including widely shared false news reports.

    Three militants from the Jaish-e-Mohammed group, which claimed responsibility for the suicide attack, were killed in a gun battle that lasted much of Monday, Lieutenant General Kanwal Jeet Singh Dhillon told a press conference in Srinagar.

    Two of the militants were Pakistanis, including the group’s “chief operations commander” in Kashmir, the army general said.

    Dhillon said the attack had been “masterminded” by Pakistan, and specifically its powerful Inter-Services Intelligence branch.

    Pakistan, which banned the JeM in 2002, has denied any role in the attack…”

  7. Some 23,000 Iranian Inmates Freed under Amnesty: Official (tasnimnews, Feb 19, 2019)

    “Head of Iran’s State Prisons and Security and Corrective Measures Organization said 22,700 Iranian prisoners have been released under recent clemency granted by the Leader of the Islamic Revolution on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution’s victory…”

  8. All US Anti-Iran Measures Have Ended in Failure, Syrian Minister Says (tasnimnews, Feb 19, 2019)

    “TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Syrian Minister of Awqaf (Endowment) Mohammed Abdul-Sattar Al Sayed highlighted the US government’s failed policy toward the Iranian nation and said Washington’s measures against Tehran have gotten nowhere.

    Speaking at a meeting with Iranian Ambassador to Damascus Javad Torkabadi, Sattar, who was accompanied by a number of Syrian religious scholars, offered his congratulations over the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution’s victory.

    Iran’s Islamic Revolution, which changed regional equations, has led to the victories of the Resistance Front, he said.

    The Syrian minister further pointed to US measures against the Islamic Republic and said every action that Washington has taken against Tehran has failed because the Islamic Republic is on the path of the guidelines of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei.

    He further expressed his gratitude to the Iranian people and government over the country’s support for Syria in its campaign against Takfiri terrorism.

    Conflicts erupted in Syria back in 2011, when a small group of opposition forces took up arms against Damascus.

    Soon, however, a mix of international terrorists and paid mercenaries mingled with and then largely sidestepped the armed Syrian opposition groups, effectively turning the Arab country into a battlefield for foreign governments opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    But the Syrian military, with advisory military help from Iran and Russia — and a Russian aerial bombardment campaign — has retaken control of much of the country, and the conflict is generally believed to be winding down.”

  9. Saudi Crown Prince Arrives in India (aawsat, Feb 19, 2019)

    “Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, arrived in India on Tuesday, the second leg of an Asian tour that he kicked off in Pakistan on Sunday.

    He was received at New Delhi airport by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    Crown Prince Mohammed is expected to make an effort to defuse tensions between India and Pakistan as New Delhi weighs its response to a suicide bombing last week that killed at least 40 Indian soldiers in disputed Kashmir.

    Ties between India and Saudi Arabia have strengthened since Modi visited Riyadh in 2016 for the signing of a memorandum of understanding on cooperation with intelligence-gathering on money laundering and terrorism financing.

    Other agreements are expected to be signed Wednesday in investment, tourism, housing and communications.

    Crown Prince Mohammed is set to travel to China to complete his Asia tour.”

    • Crown Prince Mohammed is expected to make an effort to defuse tensions between India and Pakistan…

      Looking for the Saudis to mediate an incident of Islamic terrorism is like asking Russian judges to score Olympic ice skating.

  10. Saudi King, Russian President Discuss Oil Market (aawsat, Feb 19, 2019)

    “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz telephoned on Tuesday Russian President Vladimir Putin, reported the Saudi Press Agency.

    The two officials discussed bilateral ties and ways to develop them.

    They also addressed the fruitful cooperation between Riyadh and Moscow that will yield stability in the oil market to serve the global economy.”

  11. Maersk to provide internship opportunities for Effat students (saudigazette, Feb 19, 2019)

    “Effat University and the Danish conglomerate Maersk signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which aims to provide internships and employment opportunities for Effat’s students and graduates.

    Dr. Haifa Jamal Allail, president of Effat University, said: “Effat University is delighted to collaborate with a great company like Maersk to give our students the opportunity to grow and learn from the best in their business.”

    Representing Maersk, Mohammed Shihab, managing director for Saudi Arabia, said he was proud to sign the MOU with Effat University, the leading higher education institution for women in Saudi Arabia, and connect its talented students to Maersk. — SG”

  12. Egypt to execute nine prisoners accused of killing public prosecutor: Amnesty (mee, Feb 19, 2019)

    “Amnesty International has called on Egypt to halt the imminent execution of nine prisoners accused of killing Egypt’s former public prosecutor in 2015.

    The nine men have denied the accusation and told rights groups that Egyptian security forces had tortured them till they confessed to the crime.

    Amnesty feared that the accused would face execution on Wednesday morning. The rights group issued its warning after the nine men were moved from their prison cells to the appeals prison in preparation for their execution.

    “Time is running out to save the lives of these nine men,” Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director said in a statement.

    “The Egyptian authorities have an opportunity to do the right thing by immediately halting any plans to carry out these executions.

    “There is no doubt that those involved in deadly attacks must be prosecuted and held accountable for their actions but executing prisoners or convicting people based on confessions extracted through torture is not justice.”

    The nine men had been among 28 men sentenced to death for killing the former Egyptian public prosecutor in an attack in 2015.

    Many of the men alleged that they had been forcibly disappeared and tortured to confess to the killing.

    The men attempted to appeal the death sentence in 2018 which had been denied by the Court of Cassation.

    Among the men sentenced to death, 13 men had been convicted in absentia, with one of the men being forcibly returned to Egypt from Turkey in January.

    In January, Turkish officials told Middle East Eye that it was investigating the deportation of an Egyptian citizen to Cairo after he reportedly sought asylum in Istanbul’s Ataturk airport.

    Mohamed Abdelhafiz Ahmed Hussein, also known as Mohamed Abdelhafiz, was sentenced to death in absentia in July 2017 on charges of receiving militant training in the Gaza Strip as part of an alleged plot to murder Egypt’s former Attorney-General Hisham Barakat.

    However, the 28-year-old was deported to Cairo on 17 January after airport authorities found that he held a forged visa, according to Yasin Aktay, a senior adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.”

  13. US discouraging Gulf states from restoring ties with Syria (memo, Feb 19, 2019)

    “The US is pressing Gulf states to hold off restoring ties with Syria, a move they’ve taken to counter the influence of regional rival Iran, five senior sources have told Reuters.

    Several Arab states have sped up reconciliation efforts with the Syrian regime in recent months, as the government seems to emerge as the victor of the eight-year conflict. However, Washington, backed by Gulf countries Saudi Arabia and Qatar, does not want Syria welcomed back into the international community until a political process to end the war has been agreed upon.

    “The Saudis are quite helpful in pressing the others. Qatar also is doing the right thing,” said a US official, when asked about the diplomatic pressure.

    Earlier this month, Saudi Minister of State of Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir reiterated that the Kingdom was consulting with other countries as to the implementation of UN resolution 2254, which calls for a political settlement in Syria.

    “We look forward to a result that preserves Syria’s independence and unity and leads to the removal of its foreign forces,” Al-Jubeir said, seeming to refer to the presence of the Russian and Iranian forces in the country…”

  14. Video shows Egypt soldiers fighting in Libya’s Derna (memo, Feb 19, 2019)

    “A video allegedly showing Egyptian soldiers fighting in Libya’s Derna has surfaced on social media, the Libyan Observer has reported.

    The video shows what appears to be Egyptian soldiers desecrating corpses of fighters from the Derna Protection Force (DPF) under the wreckage of a building apparently hit by air strikes.

    “This is one of the dogs,” a soldier says in an Egyptian dialect while pointing to one of the corpses.

    “We will stay here to fight them,” another soldier says.

    It remains unclear whether the soldiers are part of the Egyptian army or a group of mercenaries hired by Libyan warlord General Khalifa Haftar, alongside other rebels from Sudan and Chad. The Egyptian army has not officially confirmed their participation…”

    • Egypt is fighting the MB/al-Qaeda in Libya. It’s a nightmare.

      Without much help from the West that’s still wedded to Arab Spring fantasies. No where to turn except Russia (and very quietly Israel).

      We throw our allies into the arms of our geostrategic competitors. MB-mouthpieces scream: “Rohingya”, and we throw Burma/Myanmar to China. Stash the nefarious Cold War bears, look at the map today.

  15. Erdogan: Turkey no longer able to face new refugee flow (memo, Feb 19, 2019)

    “The Turkish president said on Tuesday that Turkey would not be able to shoulder a new potential migration wave on its own, Anadolu Agency reports.

    Speaking in Istanbul at the 6th Ministerial Conference of the Budapest Process on Migration, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that building higher walls with barbed wire was no way to prevent irregular migration.

    There are around 260 million migrants, over 68 million displaced people, and more than 25 million refugees worldwide, he said.

    Turkey has spent over $37 billion of its own national resources sheltering refugees, he added, citing UN figures.

    Touching upon the allegations of a so-called Armenian genocide, Erdogan said Turkey would leave the issue to the historians, regardless of propaganda spread in the west.

    He went on to say that Turkey had never committed genocide in its history.”

  16. Swiss would prefer Daesh fighters tried on site -minister (memo, Feb 19, 2019)

    “Switzerland would prefer to have citizens who fought for Islamic State tried on the spot rather than be brought home to face criminal charges, its justice minister said on Tuesday, Reuters reports.

    The remarks by Karin Keller-Sutter echo reluctance by other European countries to take back combatants whose fate has become more pressing as US-backed fighters seek to capture the last enclave of Islamic State’s self-styled Caliphate in Syria.

    US President Donald Trump said on Sunday European countries must do more to take them back or “we will be forced to release them”.

    “For me, the priority remains the security of the Swiss population and the Swiss security forces.” Keller-Sutter told Swiss broadcaster RTS. “Can we endanger the Swiss to repatriate people who have left of their own free will to wage war in Syria and Iraq?”

    “Is it possible to judge them on the spot? That’s what I would prefer,” she added…”

  17. Qatar UK embassy faces racial abuse claims (gulfnews, Feb 19, 2019)

    “Dubai: The son of a British former receptionist at the Qatari embassy in London is seeking crowdfunding to help the family with their discrimination case against the diplomatic mission.

    Somali-born Mohamoud Ahmad, in his late 70s, was employed at the Gulf state’s embassy in Mayfair for almost 20 years. He claimed he was referred to in Arabic as a “donkey” and a “dog” by the head of the embassy’s medical department Abdullah Al Ansari, according to British reports.

    Ahmad, from Kensington, has lived in England for more than 40 years, and claimed in 2014 unfair and wrongful dismissal, racial and age-based discrimination at a Central London employment court.

    “My father worked for over 20 years at the reception of the Qatari Embassy in London. He was committed, dedicated and hardworking. However, during the latter years he suffered racial discrimination, specifically verbal and physical abuse,” the son posted on the UK gofundme site.

    “In August 2013, he was called a ‘donkey’, a ‘dog’ and a ‘black slave’, then struck by the Qatari diplomat, Abdullah Ali Al Ansari, at the embassy. When he stood up to the abuse, he was immediately sacked.”

    Ahmad’s claims were denied by the Qatari embassy and Al Ansari as “utterly untrue.”

    The family is still waiting to see if the case will be taken up by a court…”

  18. US urges Pakistan to punish those behind Kashmir attack (gulfnews, Feb 19, 2019)

    “The United States threw its support behind India on Tuesday and pressed Pakistan to punish those behind a suicide attack in Kashmir that killed 40 Indian security personnel.

    “We have been in close communication with the government of India to express not only our condolences but our strong support for India as it confronts this terrorism,” said deputy State Department spokesman Robert Palladino.

    “We urge Pakistan to fully cooperate with the investigation into the attack and to punish anyone responsible,” he added, noting Washington had been in contact with Islamabad over the attack.”

  19. Darb Al-Ahmar suicide bomber was planning further attacks: Egypt’s interior ministry (ahram, Feb 19, 2019)

    “Egypt’s interior ministry said on Tuesday that the suicide bomber who blew himself up behind Al-Azhar Mosque on Monday had been planning further attacks.

    Upon searching the 37-year-old man’s apartment in Cairo’s Darb Al-Ahmar, police found a number of explosive devices and raw materials used in making explosives.

    Police also found a time bomb in the apartment, prompting an evacuation of the building…”

  20. Egypt security forces kill 16 terrorists in North Sinai shootouts (ahram, Feb 19, 2019)–terrorists-in-North-Si.aspx

    “Egypt’s security forces killed 16 terrorists in North Sinai governorate on Tuesday morning in two raids.

    According to the ministry of interior, the ministry’s national security department identified two terrorist hideouts from which a number of attack were going to be launched against vital institutions and figures in the city of El-Arish.

    Ten of the terrorists were killed in an empty plot of land in Ubaidat district, El-Arish city after they opened fire on security forces conducting the raid.

    The second hideout was in an under-construction house in Abu Eita district, where six terrorists were also killed after opening fire on police forces.

    Firearms, ammunition, and explosives were found at the hideout.

    On Saturday, Egypt’s armed forces said that 15 Egyptian military personnel were killed during an attack on a security check point in North Sinai. Seven militants were also killed in the attack.

    The military has been carrying out Operation Sinai 2018, a counter-terrorism campaign, since February 2018. The campaign involves land, naval and air forces, as well as the police and border guards.”

  21. 35% of Britons Believe Islam is a Threat (moroccoworldnews, Feb 19, 2019)

    “A British organization conducted a poll in July 2017 showing that 35 percent of people believe that Islam is a threat to the British way of life, reported the Guardian on February 17.

    The Hope not Hate organization, according to the Guardian, announced that it will launch a report which indicated that more than a third of people in the UK deal with Islam as a threat.

    The poll conducted by the organization showed that only 30 percent of British people who voted in the poll consider Islam as compatible.

    According to the Guardian t30 percent of those who voted for Conservative in the 2017 election believed that Islam is incompatible with “Britishness,” while 22 percent of Labour supporters held the same view.

    The report also found that the 2017 terror attacks which took place in the UK had a negative impact on their judgments.

    The report also said that 30 percent of voters in a poll of more than 5,000 people conducted in August 2018 agreed to launch a campaign to stop any initiatives aimed to build mosques where they live.

    One suggestion is that Islamophobia is still rampant in a number of western countries. Despite the remarkable influence of Islam in the world, extremism and radicalization linked to the religion has impacted views of Muslims.

    Muslims living in non-Muslim majority countries are subjected to religion-based oppression to their religion.

    Using FBI Data, a 2017 study by the Pew Research Center found that assaults on Muslims in the US “easily surpassed” the previous modern peak of attacks on Muslims in 2001. Jewish people are also subject to hate crimes.

    The study also said that Islam is growing more than twice as fast as the overall world population between 2015 and 2060. Christianity, however, still forms the largest religious group with 31.2 percent, according to the report.”

  22. Safi Terror Group Planned Major, Serial Attacks (moroccoworldnews, Feb 19, 2019)

    “The Central Judicial Investigation Bureau (BCIJ) recently dismantled a terrorist cell in the Safi area that was planingd to carry out major serial attacks, according to Assabah newspaper.

    The group planned to target the Safi area first and then other Moroccan cities. They planned to disguise themselves as police officers.

    The cell planned to attack the gendarmerie and police services in Safi city in order to seize the officers’ weapons and uniforms.

    They would then use the captured weapons to launch attacks in other Moroccan cities.

    Targeting tourist attractions and crowded areas, the terror cell wanted to attack a tourist complex in the Sidi Bouzid area, a hotel in the city, a nightclub, and a bar.

    They planned to use swords and knives in the first phase of the attacks.

    The group apparently adopted some psychological warfare tactics.

    The members of this cell, including their leader, were planning to attack foreign tourists to create panic.

    The leader of the group, who goes by the his war-name Abou Laith, would share videos of terror massacres in Syria and Iraq with the rest of the members.

    They also set out to join ISIS in the Middle East, according to the newspaper.

    They praised the terrorist attack that targeted the two Scandinavian tourists in the Imlil region last December, though they criticized the method that were used in the tragic assault…”

  23. K-P civil servants decry ‘NAB, ACE harassment’ (tribune, Feb 19, 2019)

    “A representative body of civil servants in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has asked Prime Minister Imran Khan to look into regular harassment of officers by accountability and anticorruption institutions, which condemn the accused through media even before proving them guilty.

    There should be a public apology with same level of media coverage if the person arrested and subjected to media trial by anti-graft bodies proves to be innocent, the officers said…”

  24. 45 militants killed, wounded in Zabul province in past one week: officials (khaama, Feb 19, 2019)

    “The Military officials in South of Afghanistan are saying that 45 militants were killed or wounded during the operations in Zabul province in past one week.

    The officials further added that over the last week the 205th Corps has aggressively pursued the Taliban in Arghandab and Mizan districts of Zabul. Clashes with the insurgents have been offensive operations towards the Taliban backed by the use of Afghan artillery.

    “These recent clashes have resulted in 33 insurgents killed and 12 wounded. Additionally, during these operations against the Taliban, the 205th Corps discovered 45 IEDs along the roads which were cleared by the Army engineers,” the officials said.

    According to the military officials, these operations come on the heels of a large attack from the Taliban last week against an ANA checkpoint in Arghandab District which killed the soldiers manning that checkpoint…”

  25. Rights group slams ‘inhuman’ treatment of migrants in Greece (hurriyetdailynews, Feb 19, 2019)

    “The Council of Europe rights body on Feb. 19 condemned the “inhuman and degrading treatment” of migrants and asylum seekers held in Greece, adding it had credible allegations of abuse by police.

    “Foreign nationals deprived of their liberty by the Greek authorities must be treated humanely and with dignity,” the Council’s European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) said.

    The committee published the report after visiting the country – which has been at the frontline of the migration crisis in Europe – over ten days in April 2018.

    “Conditions of detention were found to be grossly sub-standard in some of the police and border guard stations visited,” it said.

    At one center in the Evros region in the northeast on the Turkish border, families, children, pregnant women and single men were held together for weeks and sometimes months in a center that offered just one square meter of living space per person.

    It said such conditions “can easily be considered as amounting to inhuman and degrading treatment.”

    The committee also said it received “credible allegations of police ill-treatment (slaps, punches, kicks, baton blows and verbal abuse) from foreign nationals held” in the Evros region and at a camp on the island of Lesbos.

    Other migrants claimed to have been driven back to Turkey by border guards.

    The number of migrants arriving in Greece peaked in 2015, when more than a million people, most of them Syrian refugees, crossed over from Turkey, mainly by boat.

    A deal struck between the European Union and Ankara in 2016 helped stem the flow.

    However, the number of people attempting to cross the river Evros into Greece has increased since naval patrols intensified in the Aegean Sea in 2016.

    The CPT recommended that Greek authorities significantly increase the number of centers for unaccompanied minors.

    In 2017 it had denounced the conditions of thousands of migrants who were held in cramped cells lacking food and drinking water as unacceptable.

    In a response included in the report, Greek authorities said that investigations into unofficial removals and ill-treatment by officers had found “no disciplinary liability” by the police.

    They blamed the poor conditions of detention in the Evros region on “increased migratory pressure” at the time of the CPT’s visit.”

  26. Canada: 7 Syrian children die in house fire (aa, Feb 19, 2019)

    “Seven children of a Syrian family were killed in a house fire in Canada’s province of Nova Scotia, police said Tuesday.

    Halifax Police said seven children — including a three-month-old baby — were killed in the early-morning fire.

    The children’s parents were injured while attempting to rescue them.

    The family moved to Canada around two years ago.

    “Our entire municipality is heartbroken and our thoughts are with the loved ones of the family,” the city’s mayor said in a statement following the incident.”

  27. UN concerned about violence against Muslims in India (aa, Feb 19, 2019)

    “The UN’s human rights chief on Tuesday expressed concern about reports that a deadly recent attack is being used to target Kashmiri and Muslim communities in India.

    Michelle Bachelet said she is “concerned by reports from India that some elements are using the Pulwama attack as justification for threats and potential acts of violence targeting Kashmiri and Muslim communities.”

    A deadly car bomb Feb. 14 killed at least 44 paramilitary troops in Jammu and Kashmir, which the Indian government blamed on Pakistan.

    Bachelet strongly condemned the attack and demanded authorities to bring those responsible to justice, according to the statement.

    “We acknowledge actions taken by the Indian authorities to tackle these incidents and we hope that the Government will continue to take steps to protect people from all forms of harm that may be directed at them on account of their ethnicity or identity,” she said.

    “We hope escalating tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours will not add further to the insecurity in the region,” she added.

    Jammu and Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

    Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965 and 1971 — two of them over Kashmir.”

  28. Turkish authorities arrest 11 for suspected Daesh links (aa, Feb 19, 2019)

    “Turkish police arrested 11 suspected members of the Daesh terrorist group in central Konya province on Tuesday, according to police sources.

    A local leader of the group and his wife were reportedly among those arrested.

    The detained individuals have since been transferred to Turkey’s Anti-Terrorism Directorate.

    Efforts by police to capture two more suspects who remain at large are reportedly still underway.”

  29. 5 banks seizure over diamond fraud (ansa, Feb 19, 2019)

    “Italian tax police on Tuesday seized over 700 million euros in a probe into suspected diamond fraud involving five banks: Banco BPM, UniCredit, Intesa Sanpaolo, Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) and Banca Aletti. The probe is into a suspected fraud on the sale of diamonds to investors and savers, police said.

    Milan tax police, from the Guardia di Finanza, carried out the seizure decree.
    Among the conned clients was rocker Vasco Rossi, police said.

    Among those under investigation is the general manager of Banco BPM, Maurizio Faroni, police said.

    He is accused of complicity in fraud, self money laundering and obstructing oversight functions.

    Other Banco BPM managers are under investigation as well as the heads of the two companies, IDB and DPI, which sold the jewels to investors.”

    • diamond fraud involving five banks

      Unless you are taking safe and secure physical possession of stones that beat unconscious all four Cs (Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat Weight), investing in diamonds—cut, rough or synthetic—is a classic financial management “own goal”.

      Few other markets are so thoroughly rigged and manipulated to the singular extent of this mineral Three-card Monte. Gasoline pricing looks like a transparently marketed Fair Trade commodity by comparison.

      Grade A gems such as genuine South American emeralds or Indochinese rubies hold and accrue value far better, are much rarer, and possess vivid, saturated hues that make all but the most brilliantly cut colorless ice look like Swarovski paste (at best).

  30. Salvini maybe on trial for insulting magistrates (ansa, Feb 19, 2019)

    “Turin prosecutors on Tuesday successfully asked judges to set a date for a possible trial of Interior Minister Matteo salvini for allegedly insulting magistrates.

    The trial, if it goes ahead, will come before the summer, judicial sources said.
    For any trial to take place, the deputy premier’s parliamentary immunity would have to be lifted.

    “I’m not afraid or anyone or anything,” Salvini said.

    Salvini, whose prosecution has been asked for allegedly kidnapping some migrants aboard a coast guard ship in a standoff with the EU but who is unlikely to stand trial for that, has often criticised the judiciary.”

  31. Conte writes to Pakistan asking justice for Sana (ansa, Feb 19, 2019)

    “Premier Giuseppe Conte on Tuesday wrote to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan asking him for justice for a 25-year-old Pakistani-Italian woman from Brescia whose male relatives were acquitted of killing her after she refused an arranged marriage despite her father having reportedly confessed to strangling her.

    “The death of young Sana Cheema has deeply shaken our country,” Conte said.

    “For this reason I have sent a letter to the Pakistani prime minister to attest the Italian government’s hope that light is shed as soon as possible on the responsibilities for her brutal murder”.

    “He said Italian public opinion expects that “the culprits be brought to justice”.

    A Pakistani court on Friday acquitted Cheema’s father, uncle and brother.

    The relatives were cleared of the ‘honour killing’ because of a “lack of clear proof”, the court in Pakistan said.

    Cheema’s family claimed she had died of natural causes but an autopsy said she had been strangled to death.

    The centre-left opposition Democratic Party (PD)’s Alfredo Bazoli said the acquittals were “disconcerting” and urged the Italian diplomatic service to contact Pakistani authorities “over this murky affair”, recalling that Cheema’s father had confessed to her murder.

    Bazoli is PD chief on the House justice committee.”

  32. Malmö police run out of remand cells to lock up suspects (thelocal, Feb 19, 2019)

    “Malmö ran out of lock-up space to hold suspected criminals remanded by courts for the first time in a decade.

    “On Sunday evening. I think it was about 6pm, the remand prison in Malmö was closed for new intakes for over 24 hours,” Håkan Tullberg, head of Malmö’s remand prisons, told Swedish radio broadcaster SR.

    Tullberg said every suspect placed in remand by Malmö courts on Monday morning had to remain in police custody until a place could be found. It was not even possible to find free spaces as far away as Gothenburg or Stockholm.

    “That hasn’t happened for over ten years,” said Tullberg.

    Malmö’s 117 remand places were occupied on the last three Mondays, according to statistics cited by SR.

    Swedish police chief Anders Thornberg has informed the justice ministry of the problem.

    He said that the problem had come about as a result of police successes.

    “Police are making more and more drugs seizures and arresting and prosecuting more and more. In addition the number of weapons seizures has grown since 2015,” he said.

    “The results of our investigations are showing a cautiously positive trend,” he said in a press release.

    But he warned that a shortage of spaces was becoming a bottleneck at a time when a growing number of criminals are being arrested.

    “The rest of the justice process needs to be able to adapt to the development and be able to accept an increased in-flow if the work is to be effective and the rule of law not to be undermined.””

  33. Saudi women refugees in Germany: Still living in fear (Dw, Feb 19, 2019)

    “Saudi women who have fled to Germany to request asylum continue to live under threat from their families. DW spoke with four such women and human rights experts who suspect the Saudi Embassy’s involvement.

    “Where are you hiding? We know you are not in your apartment.” Ayasha* scrolls further. “We will get you. Even if you go to the end of the world, we have people who can track you down.”

    Ayasha sits barefoot in sweatpants and a T-shirt in her kitchen, in front of her a folder. In it, she has collected all the threatening messages she has received, printed and had translated into German by an official interpreter.

    Another message reads: “The embassy has people who can get information about you through the city administration.” It was sent from a Saudi number she recognizes: The threats came from her own family.

    Now in her early thirties, Ayasha lives as a refugee in Germany. She fled from her family and a system that treats even adult women as underage and unable to lead their own lives. To do almost anything, Saudi women need the consent of a male guardian.

    Control via smartphone

    It was that way for Ayasha back in Saudi Arabia as well. Wherever she went, she was accompanied by one of her brothers, or taken by a driver and picked up again. Then, her family insisted she marry a man she had never seen in person, and who was unkind to her from the first moment they spoke. Ayasha forged a daring escape plan.

    Ayasha recounts how she stole her father’s cell phone — and then, to some extent, beat him at his own game. Her father used an app called Absher to monitor and control her actions. Absher, which is freely available in the App Store for Android and Apple phones, was launched in 2015 by the Saudi government and is advertised by the Saudi Ministry of the Interior.

    More than 11 million users have already installed the program, according to its homepage. The app allows men to register the names and passport numbers of their female family members and then enter travel bans for them as they wish.

    For Ayasha, Absher turned from a curse to a blessing: She managed to reset her father’s password for the app and apply for a new one. Then she issued herself a travel permit, and in August 2017, boarded a plane to Germany. “I had nothing to lose,” she says.

    When she applied for asylum after landing, her path automatically led to Halberstadt — a small town in the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt. Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) maintains a branch office here; it is the only office nationwide that processes asylum applications from Saudi Arabia.

    ‘You will lose your life’

    As a rule, the refugees live in the central refugee arrival center in Halberstadt for the duration of their asylum procedure. The four Saudi women DW spoke to intensively in recent weeks are convinced that they were monitored by other Arabic-speaking refugees. They suspect that this information then ended up with the Saudi embassy in Berlin and their families in Saudi Arabia. One of the women, in the presence of DW, filed a complaint against her husband in Saudi Arabia and against a former roommate from the Halberstadt center. For one and a half hours, police officials recorded her report.

    For now, there is no concrete evidence. There are just suspicions — like Nurah and Mashaael’s. Shortly after their arrivals in Germany, they also started receiving the disturbing Whatsapp messages. “Do you think we don’t know where you are?” suddenly appeared on the screen. Then came “The Saudi Embassy has given us the information. You will lose your life.” Both women say the threats wrought psychological terror upon them. “There are so many Saudi women who have never had the chance to escape,” says Mashaael. “This is the opportunity for us to be their voice.”

    In response to a DW request for information, the German Ministry of the Interior said it had no knowledge of possible spies within the reception centers in Saxony-Anhalt and pointed out that the operation of such centers is up to the authorities in each of Germany’s 16 states.

    DW received the following answer from the Ministry of the Interior in Saxony-Anhalt:

    “The problem with regard to Saudi Arabian refugees is well known in Saxony-Anhalt, where the responsible authorities have developed procedures and appropriate measures for avoiding possibly dangerous situations for those affected.”

    However, the ministry did not provide any further information when asked which concrete problems were meant and what measures have been or are being taken.

    The cruel death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi has thrown a spotlight on the Saudi approach to regime critics. The exiled journalist was strangled and dismembered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in early October by a 15-member team flown in for that purpose. His body has not been found. The United Nations is investigating the case.

    Escaping could mean prison — or even death

    In early January 2019, the spectacular escape of 18-year-old Saudi citizen Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun made headlines worldwide. The young woman wanted to flee from her family to Australia, but was stopped by local authorities while on a stopover in the Thai capital, Bangkok.

    She escaped imminent deportation by barricading herself in the transit area of the airport, pointing out her plight via Twitter and finally being placed under the protection of the UN refugee agency, UNHCR. Alqunun received asylum in Canada…”

    • “… Other cases appear not to have turned out well. Dina Ali’s, for instance. She also tried to flee to Australia in April 2017. She was stopped in the Philippines and deported to Saudi Arabia. She has not been heard from since.

      “If women are forcibly returned to Saudi Arabia they could end up on charges of disobedience, […] but can also face charges of harming the reputation of the kingdom by the simple act of escaping and even seeking asylum,” said Rothna Begum of the human rights organization Human Rights Watch. “They could end up being in prison but could also end up with a very, very long sentence. And because Saudi Arabia does not have a criminal code, they could also end up facing the death penalty if the Saudi authorities deem their actions to amount to such a level.”

      Begum confirmed to DW that her organization is aware of cases in which women who have escaped their familial circumstances “are finding themselves pressured by the Saudi authorities to return to their families.”

      ‘I think it’s the embassy’

      Stefan Paintner, of the Cologne-based Secular Refugee Aid, also finds the Saudi women’s accounts credible. It is striking how much the women’s families — far away in Saudi Arabia — knew about the women’s whereabouts: “Either it is the case that every single family intensely searches Germany to find the respective women,” says Paintner, “or there is a central organization that does it for the families. I think it’s the embassy. I have no evidence, but this surveillance is a bit beyond what a family can manage to do.”

      Paintner also believes that other refugees are recruited at the central reception center in Halberstadt to report information to the Saudi Embassy in Berlin. “I do not think it’s hard out there to get people [recruited], but I do not believe it to be a sophisticated network of agents.”

      Saudi refugees ‘in a goldfish bowl’

      According to Saxony-Anhalt’s state Interior Ministry, at the beginning of February 2019, 146 refugees from Saudi Arabia were registered with state authorities, of which 97 were granted a right of residence. But even those who receive a positive asylum decision must remain in Saxony-Anhalt, as an in-state residence requirement applies to all refugees.

      This means that after the positive asylum decision, refugees must first remain registered for three years in the same state in which they have gone through their asylum procedure. Since all Saudi refugees go through Halberstadt, that means they are required to continue residing exclusively in Saxony-Anhalt.

      Being concentrated in just one state — Germany’s tenth most populous, with just small cities and a mostly rural population — facilitates the search. In Halberstadt, a city with only 45,000 inhabitants, those affected are essentially as visible to Saudi authorities as if they were “in a goldfish bowl,” the refugee aid organization’s Paintner complains.

      The Saxony-Anhalt Interior Ministry told DW that in certain justified cases, the in-state residency requirement can be lifted. However, authorities allow exceptions exclusively “within the framework of individual case studies, which we may utilize.” Ayasha is one such exception.

      After her asylum application was approved in October 2017, she first moved into a small apartment in the city of Halle, just under 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Halberstadt. But from the very beginning she did not feel safe there, she reports. One night, a man who she believed to be of Arab descent was suddenly standing in front of her door in the hallway. Ayasha informed the police — but she could not file a complaint, because nothing punishable happened, she was told.

      Then, in early August 2018, there was a knock on the door in the morning. A veiled woman was standing there. “She looked confused, as if she needed help,” Ayasha recalls. But when she opened the door, the woman pushed her into her apartment; from the side a black-haired man with a beard jumped out and pushed his way in as well. The two ransacked the apartment while Ayasha frantically locked herself in the bathroom. She called the police again and moved to a women’s shelter.

      ‘Nobody can protect you from us’

      Then, suddenly, came the Whatsapp message from Saudi Arabia. Someone had evidently betrayed her German number to her family. The tone of the message was clear: “Should I tell you a secret, so you know we’ll get you? You know those people who came to your apartment? We sent them to you just so you know we can get you.”

      That’s how it went for two days. “By the way, it’s only a matter of time before we find your new home, and no one can protect you from us,” read another of the many messages. Ayasha says the Saudi phone number from which the texts were sent belongs to one of her brothers.

      In September 2018 she left Saxony-Anhalt and fled to the anonymity of Germany’s second largest city Hamburg where she now lives. She has a new phone and a new number. Nevertheless, she remains vigilant.

      Despite several attempts at contact, the Saudi Embassy in Berlin was not willing to talk to DW about these or other similar cases.

      *Editors’ note: All names have been changed to protect the women’s identities and whereabouts.

      DW’s Hasan Hussain contributed to this report.”

    • Deutsche Welle – Is the Saudi government behind spy operations on refugees?

      Saudi Arabian women who have fled to Germany to request asylum continue to live under threat from their families. Experts and human rights activists suspect the Saudi Arabian embassy’s involvement in conducting spy operations on them.

  34. Shamima Begum: Girls MORE likely than boys to SELF-RADICALISE online claims study (express, Feb 19, 2019)

    “SHAMIMA Begum is likely to have searched for ISIS material without any encouragement, a report suggests.

    Evidence found that boys tended to join ISIS under the influence of family members, according to the Henry Jackson Society. Whereas, girls were more likely to have sought out extremist material on their own. Ms Begum was likely to be self-radicalised after watching videos of fighters beheading hostages online as well as showing ISIS life.

    The study found that ISIS brides would communicate with extremists through online chatrooms.

    One case study found these communications would influence others to then join the terrorist group.

    Another case found girls were groomed through a dating website called “Jihad Matchmaker”.

    The UK’s most senior police officer, Cressida Dick, said the 19-year-old cannot be prosecuted for travelling to Syria.

    The Met Commissioner explained she could be arrested if she returns to the UK.

    She told The Daily Telegraph: “If she does, under whatever circumstances, arrive at our borders somebody in her type of circumstances could expect to be spoken to and if there is the appropriate necessity, to be potentially arrested and certainly investigated.

    “If there is insufficient evidence for prosecution it is our job to look at the threat they pose if they are returning from Syria and we do that with every single person who comes back from Syria and then manage the risk with colleagues in the (security and intelligence) agencies.”

    Ms Dick added that returnees from Syria, who are not prosecuted, require a huge amount of monitoring.

    She said: “That puts a lot of pressure on resources.

    “But it’s very hard to know the scale of this right now – how many people will come back, and what threat they may pose.”

    Ms Begum has since had her UK citizenship revoked.

    Reports have suggested that this is due to her having “dual citizenship”.

    It is not known if her newborn son, Jarrah, has British nationality.”

  35. Macron’s ex-bodyguard detained

    The French president’s disgraced former bodyguard, Alexandre Benalla, was Tuesday placed in provisional detention, his lawyer said.

    Instructing magistrates took the decision after President Emmanuel Macron’s former staffer allegedly broke the conditions of his bail, said lawyer Jacqueline Laffont.

    Benalla faces criminal charges after it emerged in July that he roughed up protesters during a May Day demonstration in Paris while wearing a police helmet.

    The “Benalla affair” sparked a major scandal for Macron, prompting a wave of accusations from opponents that the presidency covered it up.

    Benalla was fired after the revelations, but officials are worried he may since have been profiting from his former insider status.

    Lawyer Laffont said she had already launched an appeal against the provisional detention

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