Reader’s links for January 26, 2020

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 must use it while we can.

About Eeyore

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

123 Replies to “Reader’s links for January 26, 2020”

  1. Black Box of Downed Ukrainian Plane to Remain in Iran: MP

    “An Iranian lawmaker said the country has decided to examine the flight recorders from a Ukrainian jetliner that was mistakenly shot down near Tehran on January 8 domestically.

    Speaking to Tasnim on Sunday, Farajollah Rajabi, a member of the Parliament’s development commission, said the black box of the Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane will remain and be analyzed inside Iran.

    The Ministry of Road and Urban Development is going to read the data from the Ukrainian plane’s black box in the country, Rajabi added.

    “Our policy is that the Ukrainian plane’s black box would remain in Iran and be read here,” the lawmaker said…”

  2. Iran Turns to Bitcoin Strategy to Dodge US Sanctions

    “In narrow terms, the economic sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran in the last two years have been effective, shrinking the Iranian economy by 10 to 20 percent. But they have also accelerated Iran’s use of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, which are increasingly used by the Iranian government and public to evade legal barriers. This has led to an attempted crackdown on bitcoin by international regulators—but the cryptocurrency industry is proving more nimble than the enforcers of sanctions, reported Foreign Policy.

    The Iranian government has long had an interest in using cryptocurrencies to support international trade outside of the traditional banking system. In July 2018, President Hassan Rouhani’s administration declared its intention of launching a national cryptocurrency.

    One month later, a news agency affiliated with the Central Bank of Iran outlined multiple features of the national cryptocurrency, stating that it would be backed by the rial—Iran’s national currency.

    Multiple blockchain projects—developing the underlying technology for cryptocurrencies—were revealed by the central bank at a digital payments conference last year, one of which is reportedly already being tested by four Iranian banks (three of which are under sanctions).

    Cryptocurrency transactions are already popular with the Iranian public, according to various reports. In some interviews, people have described bitcoin as the only way to get money out of Iran.

    Cryptocurrency mining activity, which is a heavy computational process that generates, or “mines,” new cryptocurrency, is also significant in Iran.

    Lured by the cheap cost of electricity in the country, and the devaluation of the Iranian rial, several bitcoin miners set up operations in Iran in 2018. In 2019, a survey conducted with 1,650 Iranians using bitcoin showed that 25 percent of respondents made $500 to $3,000 per month working with cryptocurrency.

    The Iranian government also appears to have recognized the value in mining as an economic sector. In August 2019, after a month of harsh crackdowns on mining activity for abusing cheap electricity, the cabinet issued a regulation that recognized mining as a legal sector in the economy.

    Interestingly, Iran also appears to have attracted interest from other countries willing to collaborate via blockchain platforms.

    In 2017, Sweden reportedly authorized a local start-up to invest in firms on the Iranian stock market by using bitcoin. In November 2018, Iranian and Russian blockchain industry personnel signed an agreement for cooperation in developing Iran’s blockchain industry, with a stated aim to address challenges arising from sanctions. In 2019, Iran’s Trade Promotion Organization conducted negotiations on the use of cryptocurrencies in financial transactions with representatives of eight countries, including Switzerland, South Africa, France, England, Russia, Austria, Germany and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

    In 2016, as per the Iran nuclear deal, the United Nations and European Union lifted sanctions on Iran. The EU recently launched Instex, a transactions channel between Europe and Iran.

    Multiple obstacles still exist, however, before Iran can fully harness the power of cryptocurrencies. The room for anonymity is steadily shrinking for cryptocurrency transactions as formal identification of customers through “know your customer” (KYC) compliance rises globally.

    In 2018, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control added two Iranian individuals and their bitcoin addresses to its Specially Designated Nationals List. According to forensic analysis by the Treasury Department, more than 7,000 bitcoin transactions valuing millions of dollars had been processed by these addresses. Apart from other criminal activity and numerous scams, cryptocurrency usage by regimes such as Venezuela and Iran has been one of the driving factors for heavy regulation of the sector.

    Apart from country-specific regulations that mandate financial compliance, the Financial Action Task Force’s standards were set in 2019 and are now enforced across 37 member countries. These standards impose full KYC compliance at the level of virtual asset service providers, as well as a “travel rule” that requires both originators and beneficiaries of cryptocurrency transactions to identify and report suspicious information.

    These regulations effectively exclude Iran from major cryptocurrency exchanges. This has tilted the Iranian cryptomarket toward local exchanges, where price premiums on the currency are higher. Iran is thus losing out on its competitiveness in mining compared with other jurisdictions. While electricity costs are lower, other costs related to mining, such as hardware and operations, are much higher in Iran. Meanwhile, there is still regulatory uncertainty over the future of cryptocurrency within Iran.

    Despite these challenges, there are new developments in the world of cryptocurrency that may open up new possibilities for the Iranian government and people to evade sanctions. One significant development is the rise of central bank digital currencies, which are the governmental take on cryptocurrencies—central banks issuing natively digital money.

    China and Russia have notably been working on these projects for some time, and the Chinese sovereign coin, or “digital yuan,” is expected to be launched this year. The implications for international sanctions are vast. First, these projects inevitably run on private blockchains that provide no traceability to outside countries the way a bitcoin network does. The second is that these instruments are completely outside the purview of current US-led global financial architecture. Countries that are still open to cooperating with Iran could easily explore avenues through the use of such sovereign coins.”

  3. Turkey Accuses Greece of Hampering Peace Efforts in Libya

    “Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu renewed accusations against Greece of hindering peace efforts in Libya through receiving Libyan National Army (LNA) Commander Khalifa Haftar ahead of last week’s Berlin conference.

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed Greece for the same reason.

    “The Greek-Greek Cypriot duo extorts the rights of neighboring countries with their extremist claims in the Eastern Mediterranean,” said a statement by Cavusoglu.

    “Trying to legitimize these claims by taking advantage of the EU harms peace and stability in the region,” he added.

    The two pacts Turkey “signed with the legitimate government in Libya have alarmed Greece. Instead of dialogue, they severed diplomatic relations with the legitimate government. Unfortunately, they act with the understanding that ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’,” he said.

    “Actually behind this, there are efforts to impose maritime jurisdiction claims on Libya. In the past years, they have set up oil and gas license areas to the south of Crete in a way that usurps the rights and interests of Libya. When faced with this situation, the legitimate government of Libya signed a memorandum of understanding with us to protect their rights,” the FM explained.

    Meanwhile, Turkey accused Greece of ignoring calls to resolve the dispute over Aegean Sea islands through negotiations.

    Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said Saturday that Turkey is ready to revive all dialogue channels with Greece, but he accused Athens of not cooperating.

    He added that Turkey has always objected against the violation of the demilitarized status of the islands by Greece or another country, saying Ankara has submitted several initiatives to resolve the issue.

    Turkey is keen on ending the dispute with negotiations, he stated.”

  4. Food Shortages Exacerbate Suffering of Migrant Centers in Tripoli

    “Dozens of illegal migrants held in centers in western Libya have been suffering from severe shortages of food, medicine, heating devices and blankets.

    The migrants have appealed for help from international relief organizations to rescue them.

    According to Souq al-Khamis detention center in Khoms City (east of Tripoli), more than 100 migrants, including women and children who have been held at the center since Jan. 9, need urgent support.

    Khoms city’s security directorate “had previously brought 109 migrants from the sea after saving them from drowning,” the center said, adding that it has since been treating their injuries and feeding them after informing international organizations.

    An official at the center, which was closed two years ago by the Government of National Accord (GNA) authorities for violations, told Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday that the conditions of migrants from several African countries are “very bad, especially in light of the severe cold weather.”

    He pointed out that many women and children are sick and need health care more than what is currently available.

    “We receive support from individuals to feed our migrants, but it is not enough for their daily needs,” said the official, who preferred to be unnamed.

    The GNA must provide necessary support for migrants before a humanitarian catastrophe occurs, he stressed.

    Head of the National Commission for Human rights in Libya (NCHRL) Ahmed Abdul Hakim Hamza has appealed for the migrants to be rescued

    “There has been an acute crisis in some migrant centers in providing food and drink for more than a month now,” he stressed.

    He pointed out that one of the centers houses 1,500 migrants, but suffers a food shortage.

    In a statement on Saturday, the official called on the concerned authorities to remedy the crisis, noting that among those suffering are dozens of women and children.

    He said heads of these centers have been complaining that catering companies do not provide them with enough food. The companies, in turn, say the interior ministry, which is overseeing the centers, has stopped paying its dues.”

  5. Something new and different: A day of rage!

    “Palestinian factions on Sunday called for a “day of rage” on the same day US President Donald Trump releases his long-awaited plan for Mideast peace. Parts of the plan are expected to be publicized during separate meetings in Washington this week between Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz.”

    • Hamas rejected it outright without even having read it. A few details were leaked including a tunnel linking Gaza to the West Bank. The implementation period would be four years.
      Hamas will always reject any plan that doesn’t put loads of cash in their pocket on a very long-term basis.

  6. Erdogan: Haftar pursues Libya attacks ‘with all his resources’

    “Eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar is violating Libya’s truce and so cannot be expected to respect the ceasefire called between his forces and pro-government troops, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said today, as reported by Reuters.

    Despite efforts by Turkey and Russia, Haftar abandoned talks on a ceasefire in Moscow earlier this month and his blockade of Libyan oilfields overshadowed a summit in Berlin last week aimed at agreeing on a permanent truce.

    His Libyan National Army (LNA) faction aims to capture the capital, Tripoli, through the backing of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Russian mercenaries and African troops.

    Turkey meanwhile backs Fayez Al-Serraj’s internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).

    Fighting has abated in the past weeks but picked up at the weekend at the front line in southern Tripoli, where artillery fire could be heard, a Reuters reporter said. More than 150,000 people have been displaced by the months of fighting.

    Speaking before leaving on a visit to Algeria, Erdogan said Haftar’s forces had repeatedly violated the ceasefire, adding that international support for the LNA was “spoiling” Haftar.

    “At this point, we need to see clearly what Haftar’s identity is. He is a man who has betrayed his superiors before as well,” Erdogan said. “It is not possible to expect mercy and understanding from someone like this on the ceasefire.”

    “He’s continuing attacks with all his resources. However, he will not be successful here.”

    Libya has had no stable central authority since the toppling of strongman Muammar Gaddafi by NATO-backed rebels in 2011. It has had two rival governments, in the east and the west, for more than five years, with streets controlled by armed groups.

    Turkey has repeatedly said Haftar must choose a political solution to the conflict and has urged foreign powers to press the commander into a truce. It has also sent military advisers and trainers to help the GNA fend off Haftar’s assault on Tripoli.

    Ankara has said that it will abide by a United Nations arms embargo on Libya as long as the ceasefire is maintained, but has said it could also deploy troops if necessary.

    In Berlin, foreign powers agreed to form a special committee made up of five military officials from each side to shore up the shaky truce. They are due to meet for the first time this week in Geneva.”

  7. Turkey, Ukraine to boost defence cooperation

    “Turkish and Ukrainian officials gathered in Ukraine’s capital to address ways to enhance strategic cooperation in the defence industry, Anadolu Agency reports.

    The seventh edition of Turkey-Ukraine Defense Industry Cooperation meeting was held in Kiev, where steps to be taken for armament and military equipment were discussed, according to a statement from Ukrainian Defense Ministry on Friday.

    Turkish Ambassador in Kiev Yagmur Ahmet Guldere called the defense industry as one of the rising stars of the multifaceted cooperation between the two countries.

    “I am pleased to see that Ukrainian and Turkish firms have started to move beyond mutual sales, such as joint production and export to other countries,” Guldere said.”

  8. UAE firm ‘luring Sudanese men to fight’ in Libya, Yemen

    “A Sudanese man has called on the country’s transitional government to intervene after his brother was allegedly lured to the United Arab Emirates and forced into a military training camp, local media reported.

    The accusations, which have gone viral on Sudanese social media, have highlighted the controversial role of Sudanese militiamen in Yemen and Libya.

    Abdullah al-Tayeb Yusuf told Al-Jazeera Mubasher that his brother travelled to the UAE after responding to a job advertisement for security guards in the country in October last year.

    Upon his arrival in the country, however, Yusuf’s brother was allegedly forced into a military training camp alongside around 150 others.

    “My brother told me that he was trained in the UAE to handle heavy weapons, and he was given the option to either go to Yemen or Libya after they offered him a large sum of money,” Yusuf said.

    Sudanese digital media platform Wakeep later shared images of what it said were samples of contracts offered to Sudanese to work as security guards in the UAE by the Black Shield security company.

    The documents, which could not be independently verified, appear to have been stamped by the Emirati embassy in Khartoum.

    After being lured to the UAE on false pretenses, the Sudanese migrants have their phones confiscated before being sent to the Al-Ghayathi training camp, Wakeep claimed…”

  9. Amir Taheri:
    Tehran and its Three Fantasies

    The first of these is that Iranians as a nation are united behind Khomeini’s messianic regime and ready to put up with poverty, injustice and even oppression in order to keep “The Revolution” alive. Over the past few years that fantasy has been punctured by almost continuous protests, strikes and socio-political turmoil at various levels throughout Iran.

    For years, that [second] fantasy has been fed by foreign leaders and groups who have revived the ancient industry of flattery in a new form…. The idea that a majority of Lebanese, Iraqis, Yemenis and Syrians love the Islamic Republic and adulate Khamenei may still deceive the “Supreme Guide”. But more and more Iranians now realize that Khamenei, and through him, the Islamic Republic as a whole, have been sold a bill of goods.

    The third fantasy in the fable of which Soleimani is but the latest propagator-cum-victim, is that the Islamic Republic’s strategy of “exporting the revolution is virtually cost free and that, shaking in fear, the rest of the world won’t dare oppose it…. That fantasy was generously fed by people like former US President Barack Obama and former European Union foreign policy tsarina Federica Mogherini who, perhaps with good intentions, treated the Islamic Republic like an unruly teenager who should be cajoled into more reasonable behavior through kind inducements rather than parental punishment

    This means that news from the Islamic Republic is not as bad as sober heads in Tehran believe. It is much worse.

  10. German rescue boat picks up 78 migrants off Libya

    “German charity Sea-Eye said it had rescued 78 migrants off the Libyan coast on Saturday and accused Libyan authorities of harassing rescuers and acting illegally.

    The Alan Kurdi, named after a Syrian child whose drowning in the Mediterranean in 2015 brought global attention to the migrant crisis, received distress calls and rushed to aid migrants stranded on two boats.

    “Our ship #ALANKURDI rescued 62 people from an inflatable boat in the morning. Water was already entering. Among them are 8 women and 7 children, the youngest just six months old,” a Sea-Eye statement said.

    “The #ALANKURDI found the second boat in distress and rescued another 16 people. Three people are severely dehydrated and were immediately taken to the on-board hospital for medical treatment.”

    “The self-proclaimed Libyan coastguards treat the area of search and rescue operations as their territorial waters, harassing civilian rescuers and giving illegal instructions,” Johanna Pohl, the head of operations on the Alan Kurdi, said, according to Sea-Eye.

    The Alan Kurdi has been active since 2018 and has rescued hundreds of people so far.

    The fall of Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011 turned the country into a key departure point for African and Middle Eastern migrants heading to Europe.

    Since the start of the year, as many as 1,100 migrants have left Libya by sea, according to the International Organization for Migration, adding that a majority had been sent back to the country and detained.

    At the behest of Italy, Libya’s coastguard routinely blocks migrants from reaching Europe.

    Rights groups charge that Libya picks up migrants in the Mediterranean and brings them back to overcrowded detention centres, where many have been victims of abuse and forced labour.”

  11. FBI Reviews Claims Ilhan Omar Married Her Brother so He Could Obtain Green Card – Reports

    “Two FBI agents held an hours-long meeting in Minnesota in mid-October with a concerned party who handed over a trove of documents regarding Omar’s 2009 marriage to Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, a source with knowledge of the event said.

    At the meeting, first reported by the Blaze, the two agents said they would share the information with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the US Department of Education, but did not commit to opening an investigation into the firebrand lawmaker, the source said. If confirmed, Omar could be facing charges of marriage fraud, which is punishable with a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to $250,000.

    Congresswoman Omar’s office did not respond to request for comment, but she has repeatedly denied the allegations — calling them “disgusting lies.”

    Omar had filed for the divorce earlier in October after reportedly having an affair with DC political consultant Tim Mynett. The congresswoman initially had denied the split, however one source in the Minneapolis Somali community said the pair broke up months before and claimed Omar was privately lobbying her husband Ahmed Hirsi to divorce her.

    The marriage in question, however, is her 2009 marriage to Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, as records indicated she lived with both men at the same time. Omar and Hirsi were engaged in 2002 but never legally married, having a Muslim ceremony instead, Omar said. They had two children before splitting up in 2008. After that in 2009, the congresswoman married Elmi, who she described as a “British citizen” on their marriage license. Several sources had described Omar Elmi and Hirsi all living together in the same family home in Cedar-Riverside with the couple’s two children at that time.

    Omar and Elmi split two years later in 2011 and the freshman lawmaker got back together with Hirsi and they had a third child in 2012, records show. However, Omar divorced Elmi only in 2017 to legally wed Hirsi months before she was sworn into office.”

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