Reader’s Links for June 11, 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

130 Replies to “Reader’s Links for June 11, 2020”

  1. NBC NEWS – Biden’s biggest fear: ‘This president is going to try to steal this election’

    Trump’s Democratic rival spoke in an interview on “The Daily Show” with Trevor Noah.

    WASHINGTON — Joe Biden said Wednesday night that his greatest concern is whether everyone’s votes will be counted in November as he warned that President Donald Trump may try to “steal” the presidential election.

    In an interview on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” host Trevor Noah asked the former vice president what the plan is to ensure everyone has the opportunity to vote without being in a line that’s six hours long, as many people in Georgia experienced during Tuesday’s primary.

    “It’s my greatest concern, my single greatest concern. This president is going to try to steal this election,” said Biden, the presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee.

    Biden noted that the president has repeatedly cast doubt on the legitimacy of mail-in ballots even though Trump himself took advantage of the process to vote in Florida earlier this year.

    “This is a guy who said all mail-in ballots are fraudulent, voting by mail, while he sits behind the desk in the Oval Office and writes his mail-in ballot to vote in the primary,” he said.

    Biden added that many states have passed legislation making it harder for people to vote and said that his campaign is putting together a team of lawyers to go to every district in the country and patrol the election.

    Asked if he’s considered what would happen if Trump lost the election and refused to leave the White House, Biden said, “Yes, I have.”

    He then spoke about the former high-ranking military officials who criticized Trump for how aggressively he responded last week to protests over George Floyd’s death, using the National Guard to force peaceful demonstrators from outside the White House.

    “I am absolutely convinced they will escort him from the White House with great dispatch,” Biden said if Trump loses the election and refuses to leave.

    Weeks before the 2016 election, Trump continued to argue that the election would be “rigged” against him and refused to say whether he would accept the results, only saying that he would keep the country “in suspense.” Even after he won the election, Trump repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that millions of people had voted illegally for Hillary Clinton.
    Joe Biden thinks Trump will try to steal the election and be removed by the military

  2. Claim: French Police Refuse Arrest Over Fears of Being Sacked for Racism (breitbart, Jun 11, 2002)

    “French police have allegedly refused to arrest an individual in the city of La Rochelle, fearing that accusations of racism could get them sacked or the arrest could spark fresh riots.

    The incident took place on Tuesday evening when a young cyclist shouted “ACAB”, an acronym for “all cops are bastards”, at a police patrol several times. When the police turned around to confront the young man he unleashed a torrent of insults on them, but the youth was eventually, politely, let go.

    The reason the young man was not arrested, according to a report from newspaper Valeurs Actuelles, was that the police feared being labelled racist or that an arrest could spark fresh riots in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests in France and across the globe.

    Officers are also allegedly concerned that accusations of racism could see them lose their jobs. The fears were sparked by French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner stating on Monday that “a suspension must be systematically considered for each proven suspicion of a racist act or speech” made by police.

    Castaner’s comments have provoked severe criticism from many, including Denis Jacob, general secretary of the CFDT Alternative Police union, and populist National Rally leader Marine Le Pen. Both Le Pen and Bruno Retailleau, the president of the right-wing Republican group in the French Senate, claimed the accusations could mean officers faced a “presumption of guilt”, rather than of innocence.

    Le Pen has long had strong support from police, gendarmes officers, and the military, with a 2019 report claiming that her National Rally won broad support in areas housing high numbers of troops and gendarmes during last year’s European Parliament elections.

    Officers’ fears of fresh riots are also a major issue as Black Lives Matter protests in Paris devolve into riots during the strict Wuhan coronavirus lockdown measures. Sensitive no-go neighbourhoods across the country also saw multi-night riots that were sparked by allegations of police brutality.”

  3. Gunmen kill 10 Ivory Coast soldiers near Burkina Faso border (abcnews, Jun 11, 2020)

    “Gunmen have attacked a security post in northern Ivory Coast near the border with Burkina Faso, killing at least 10 soldiers and injuring six others, Ivory Coast’s army chief said Thursday.

    It was the first major jihadist attack in the West African nation since 2016, when al-Qaida’s North African branch killed at least 19 people at the Grand-Bassam beach resort area.

    Thursday’s early morning assault targeted an army and gendarmerie post in Kafolo in Sikolo prefecture, according to a statement by Armed Forces Chief Lassina Doumbia.

    President Alassane Ouattara said investigations are underway to determine “the nature, circumstances and definitive toll of this attack,” the statement said. “In the interim, urgent measures are being taken,” including putting all troops on high alert and sweeping the region to find the attackers.

    In May, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso launched joint operations along the border region. Fighters affiliated with al-Qaida and the Islamic State group have staged a growing number of attacks and gained more territory in the past year in Burkina Faso, displacing more than 750,000 people in that country’s north.

    There have been growing concerns over the possible presence of Islamic militants in Ivory Coast.”

  4. Pompeo Accuses Former Watchdog of Undermining State Department

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday accused former State Department Inspector General Steve Linick of undermining the mission of the department and of being a “bad actor.”

    Pompeo made the remarks during a press conference on the occasion of the release of the State Department’s annual international religious freedom report.

    The state secretary said that Linick, who was fired by President Donald Trump, was “a bad actor in the inspector general office here,” adding that it was his “mistake” to allow the watchdog to serve in his post as long as he did.

    “He continued to undermine what it is, the State Department’s mission is aimed at achieving,” he said.

    Pompeo preceded his remarks by saying he hasn’t yet reviewed Linick’s recent closed-door testimony on Capitol Hill, in which the former watchdog claimed he had been pressured not to investigate arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

  5. Antifa Investigations Will Take Time to Be Effective, Former FBI Agent Says

    While Attorney General William Barr revealed that there are multiple investigations into the anarcho-communist group Antifa underway, that doesn’t necessarily mean arrests are imminent. These kinds of investigations, if done right, usually take a long time, according to a former FBI special agent.

    Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray singled out Antifa as one of the culprits behind the instigation of violence during recent protests sparked by the death of George Floyd during an arrest in Minneapolis.

    According to Marc Ruskin, a 27-year FBI veteran and contributor to The Epoch Times, it isn’t the FBI’s place to go from city to city arresting people for arson or looting—those are local matters. When it comes to Antifa and similar groups, the FBI would likely pursue an organized crime investigation or, if the group will be so designated, a domestic terrorism probe.

    Yet, for such an investigation, “in order to be effective, it has to be long-term,” Ruskin told The Epoch Times.

  6. China’s ‘Gestapo’ Enjoys Incontestable Power in Persecuting Spiritual Group: Internal Document

    The “610 Office,” one of the Chinese regime’s deadliest and most notorious agencies tasked with clamping down on dissent, exacts enormous influence within the Party and enjoys unchallenged power to persecute religious minorities, an internal document obtained by the Chinese-language Epoch Times shows.

    The office, formally known as the Central Leading Group on Preventing and Dealing with Heretical Religions, is an extra-legal Party organization similar to Nazi Germany’s Gestapo, with various names as disguises in public.

    It was established by former Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Jiang Zemin on June 10, 1999—hence its name—for the sole purpose of carrying out the persecution of Falun Gong, a spiritual meditation practice that originated in China and has since spread to roughly 90 countries. The practice became enormously popular—with roughly 100 million adherents in China by 1999, according to official estimates. Threatened by this number, which was greater than the number of Party members, Jiang ordered the brutal suppression of Falun Gong practitioners.

    According to the documents obtained by Chinese-language Epoch Times, the 610 Office in Fangshan District in Beijing, formally known as the Fangshan Political and Legal Affairs Commission’s “Anti-Heretical Religion Guidance Branch,” conducted an assessment titled “Status of Work in Preventing and Handling Heretical Religions” in 2019.

  7. Black Lives Matter Began With Claim of Systemic Racism

    The Black Lives Matter movement, which has come to be associated with recent race riots following the death of George Floyd, has become an influential player in U.S. politics, as it has gained a following by claiming that blacks are systematically targeted for demise.

    The radical left-wing movement, which calls for defunding the police and providing blacks with “reparations” because their ancestors were enslaved before the Civil War, has grown so powerful that Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser had the words “Black Lives Matter” painted in huge yellow letters on the asphalt of 16th Street NW in front of the White House, in time for a large protest June 6. The sign has inspired imitation, with such signs planned for all five New York City boroughs.

    While Black Lives Matter (BLM) commands respect for its political pull on both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill, Democratic lawmakers are vastly more supportive of it than Republicans. Sen. Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican and 2016 presidential candidate, stood out on the GOP side by marching with protesters from the movement recently.

    The Democratic National Committee officially endorsed Black Lives Matter in 2015 and has becoming increasingly supportive of the identity politics-driven activism that became common during the Obama years. Throughout his presidency, Barack Obama honored the movement by repeatedly inviting its leaders to the White House.

  8. President Trump demands Washington leaders take back Seattle area captured by protesters: ‘If you don’t do it, I will’

    President Donald Trump called for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) to regain control over the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,” a six-block area of the city taken over by protesters and declared a police-free jurisdiction.

  9. US Muslim Brotherhood Op Protesting in California, Declares War on Police

    Al-Qaeda-linked Nidal Sakr relives his Arab Spring days, here in America.

    Nidal Sakr, a Muslim Brotherhood operative residing in Huntington Beach, California, has joined the protests being conducted in his local area calling for justice for George Floyd, a black male who died while being detained by Minneapolis, Minnesota police. A number of these protests have led to attacks on police officers. This seems to be to Sakr’s liking, as he has declared war on the police, calling the police “the enemy” and “terrorists.” He has also called President Trump a terrorist. Yet, Sakr himself was actually part of a terrorist cell, recruited by a founder of al-Qaeda, and he is wanted for the murder of a police officer. Where is the protest against Sakr?

    After being born in Providence, Rhode Island, Nidal Mohamed Sakr spent his teenage years living in different countries in the Middle East. As a youth in the 1970s, Sakr was recruited into a Muslim Brotherhood terrorist cell operating out of Jordan and carrying out attacks against Israel. According to Sakr, the recruiter was none other than Abdullah Azzam, the future mentor of Osama bin Laden and co-founder of al-Qaeda. Sakr has boasted about knowing bin Laden, as well.

    Sakr came back to the States, during the 1980s, and spent nearly two decades here, before moving on to Cairo, Egypt, where he became involved with the Brotherhood at its global headquarters. During the Arab Spring, Sakr advised Brotherhood leaders and organized Brotherhood rallies against then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. When Abdel Fattah el-Sisi came to power, the Brotherhood became a target. In March 2014, fleeing Egypt, Sakr arrived at the US border, where he was handcuffed and held for six hours but eventually released.

  10. WHAT A JOKE: After Antifa and Black Lives Matter RIOT AND LOOT Across America — FBI Sends Out Memo Warning White Supremacists Pose Greatest Risk of Violence

    Somehow the FBI missed last week — they must have slept through the Black Lives Matter and Antifa riots.

    Hundreds of stores were looted and destroyed in Minneapolis, Chicago and New York City.
    St. Louis looked like a war zone.

      • My cousin lives in Chicago on Michigan Ave along the mile they showed, but she’s on the 23rd floor. To see what’s happening she goes online.

        She’s trapped like I am, though she says her building’s elevator is much bigger and better ventilated than mine. At least I have a little balcony.

  11. Gov. Inslee Tells President Trump: “Stay out of Washington state’s business”

    Washington state Governor Jay Inslee (D), who earlier Wednesday said he did not know that parts of Seattle were occupied by armed anarchists, told President Trump late Wednesday night to “stay out of Washington state’s business” after Trump warned him to act, to save his city.

  12. Figures. Democrats Wore the Kente Cloth to Honor Geoge Floyd – The Same Fabric of the Ashanti Slave Traders

    On Monday House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrat members of Congress knelt down for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to honor George Floyd.

    The Democrats donned African Kente cloth scarves as they gathered in Emancipation Hall on Capitol Hill.

    It should come as no surprise that the Kente Cloth was worn by Ashanti tribal leaders who practiced slavery.

    • The Dem leaders know that they are the modern equivalent of the slave owning plantation owners, so they feel a link to the ancient slave traders.

  13. “All Lives Matter, Sir!” – Dan Bongino Dunks on Hack Democrat at House Hearing (Video)

    During the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing Wednesday on police brutality, FOX News contributor Dan Bongino refused to play games with Democrat Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.

    Jeffries is not the brightest bulb in the shed.

    Dan Bongino quickly corrected the Democrat on his racist suggestions.

  14. CBC – J.K. Rowling defends comments about transgender people

    … Rowling is continuing to defend her Twitter comments about transgender people as LGBTQ organizations and the stars of the films based on her books speak out against them.

  15. Freed Taliban Prisoners Eye Return to the Battlefield

    “Afghan authorities are opening prison doors for thousands of Taliban inmates in a high-risk gambit to ensure the insurgent group begins peace talks with Kabul.

    Security concerns are mounting as several of the newly liberated fighters say they are ready to resume their holy war.

    “If the Americans do not pull out, we will continue our jihad, because they have killed many Afghans in their operations,” said Mohamed Daud, who was freed from Bagram jail north of Kabul last month.

    “We do not want foreign forces in our country anymore,” he told AFP, dressed in a traditional shalwar kameez, before taking a taxi back to his village with a cash handout from authorities worth $65. US forces arrested Daud, 28, in the northwest province of Faryab nine years ago.

    Afghan authorities accelerated the planned release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners, including Daud, as a “goodwill gesture” after the insurgents called a three-day ceasefire to mark the Eid holiday.

    A security official said those flagged by the Taliban for release include aspiring suicide bombers, suicide vest makers, kidnappers, and even foreign fighters. The move is part of a larger prisoner swap agreed as a precursor to the start of peace talks.

    Before their release, inmates were required to sign a pledge that they would not pick up arms again. It is increasingly clear such commitments mean little.

    A Taliban commander in Pakistan told AFP there should be “no ambiguity” that the released men will eventually be deployed to Afghanistan’s front lines. “It’s an ongoing jihad, and will continue until and unless we reach some sort of agreement with the Kabul government,” he said.

    A Taliban spokesman who represents insurgent fighting forces did not respond to a request for comment, but the group’s political spokesman Suhail Shaheen rejected claims prisoners would rejoin the fight, saying the Taliban had enough “active and reserve forces.” “We do not need any manpower in the battlefield, because we are entering the intra-Afghan negotiations,” Shaheen told AFP.

    Win-Win Situation?
    Several freed insurgents say they remain angry at US troops, but under a US-Taliban deal signed in February, the insurgents committed to stop attacking American and foreign forces as they withdraw from the country by next year.

    The immediate enemy is instead the struggling Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF), with whom no such pledge has been made.

    A key concession Washington extracted from the Taliban during negotiations was the requirement to begin peace talks with Kabul. In return, the Afghan government must release 5,000 insurgent inmates while the Taliban pledged to free 1,000 security force prisoners.

    Since the swap started, Afghan authorities have freed 3,000 Taliban inmates while the insurgents have released more than 750 government prisoners, officials said. It could represent a boost of up to 10 percent for the Taliban, with estimates on the number of insurgents ranging between 50,000 and 100,000.

    Afghan security officials said the US did not consult them before Washington and the Taliban finalized the prisoner swap.

    More than the fighters, “those that worry us are the brains,” a senior security official said, adding that one of the freed Taliban inmates had already joined the insurgents’ military squad while another had committed a murder.

    The Taliban heralded the US deal as proof they had defeated America in its longest war, and the bluster has only grown in recent months. “Politics and negotiations should not be taken to mean that we will neglect jihadi affairs and the strengthening and development of our jihadi military force,” Taliban deputy leader Sirajuddin Haqqani said in a recent broadcast.

    The Taliban now find themselves in a win-win situation — even if peace talks with Kabul fail.

    With its key donor calling the shots, the Afghan government had no choice but to yield to Washington’s demand to proceed with the exchange.

    Still, some observers hold out hope for successful peace talks that would bring an end to Afghanistan’s 19-year-old war. “These talks hold a better hope for a lasting ceasefire than any other current approach,” said Andrew Watkins, an analyst with International Crisis Group. “Swift initiation of talks is the best way to eliminate that threat.”

    No start date has been set for the talks.”

  16. Amnesty International: Qatar World Cup Stadium Workers Unpaid

    “Migrant laborers at a stadium under construction for the World Cup in Qatar went unpaid for up to seven months, rights group Amnesty International revealed Thursday.

    Around a hundred workers at Al-Bayt stadium have yet to be paid outstanding wages in full, the organization said following a months-long investigation.

    Some received partial payments on June 7.

    Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s Head of Economic and Social Justice, said: “This case is the latest damning illustration of how easy it still is to exploit workers in Qatar, even when they are building one of the crown jewels of the World Cup.

    “Although recent payments will provide some welcome relief for workers, Qatar’s World Cup organizers told us they had known about the salary delays since July 2019. This raises the question of why Qatar allowed workers to continue working for months without pay.”

    Responding to the findings, FIFA said it contacted Qatar’s Supreme Committee once it became aware of the case following Amnesty’s investigation, and is now working to ensure that outstanding salaries are paid.”

  17. Minister: Kuwait will no longer employ expats in oil sector

    “Kuwait’s Minister of Oil and acting Minister of Electricity and Water, Dr. Khaled Al Fadil announced yesterday that the Gulf state will no longer hire expatriate workers in state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) and its subsidiaries for the year 2020-21.

    The minister also announced, during a parliamentary session held to discuss the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic, that the number of special contracts awarded to expats will be reduced.

    The virus, he said, was a global pandemic which had affected international markets and caused oil prices to plummet, but the oil market has recovered and prices are now increasing.

    He stressed the need for the private sector to participate in strengthening the national economy.

    Late last week, Kuwait’s Cabinet agreed to cut government budgets by at least 20 per cent during the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

    Kuwait’s dependence on oil is to blame, with hydrocarbon sales accounting for an estimated 90 per cent of total government income, Bloomberg reported.”

  18. HRW: France should halt arms exports to Egypt

    “Human Rights Watch has said that French arms sales to Egypt are “shocking” and “appalling” considering the North African country’s human rights record.

    The statement follows the French government’s latest report on arms exports which documents the European country’s 2019 sales and transfers.

    Qatar topped the list, followed by Saudi Arabia and then Egypt, which racked up €1 billion ($1.1 billion) in arms sales.

    “These figures illustrate the profound contradictions of French diplomacy,” French Director for the watchdog Benedicte Jeannerod wrote, adding:

    Not only is it contrary to France’s international obligations to persist in selling arms to [Egypt and Saudi] despite the clear risk they may be used to commit serious violations and war crimes, the sales give an effective green light to abusers.

    “They undermine France’s credibility in its role promoting international law and universal human rights values at a time when they face serious attacks around the world.”

    France’s international obligations prohibit arms sales to countries where there is a high risk they could be used to carry out serious arms violations, says Jeannerod…”

  19. Iran calls on Russia, China to stand against US plan to extend arms embargo

    “Iranian President Hassan Rouhani yesterday called on Russia and China to stand against US efforts to extend a UN Security Council arms embargo imposed on Tehran which is set to expire in October.

    “We want from the four [other] permanent members of the UN Security Council to stand up to the US for the benefit of the world. We especially expect from our two friendly countries, Russia and China, to stand up to this conspiracy,” Rouhani said during a cabinet meeting.

    The Iranian president added that his country has increased its defensive capabilities even under sanctions saying: “America will not succeed … and we will increase our defence capabilities as we have been doing so even under sanctions”.

    Earlier this week, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, rejected US efforts to extend the arms embargo on Iran, stressing that America has no legal right to try to use the UN resolution endorsing the 2015 nuclear deal to indefinitely continue the arms embargo after withdrawing from the pact.

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier that extending the arms embargo against Iran is a top priority for the United States.”

  20. US Congress Republicans: List Yemen’s Houthis as a terror group

    “US Congress Republicans yesterday tabled a comprehensive set of policy proposals which include increasing sanctions on Iran; designating Iranian proxy militias in Iraq and Syria, as well as Yemen’s Houthis, as foreign terrorist organisations (FTO) and extending sanctions on Lebanon and Lebanese Hezbollah.

    The 111-page document, which was co-authored by 13 members of the Republican Study Committee in Congress, advocates several policies to increase pressure on Iran, while claiming the Islamic Republic is not a major power, like Russia or China. The report says: “Iran is not a great power or strategic competitor, but it still presents a significant challenge as a rogue regime backed by a military and intelligence apparatus while being the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.”

    The proposals seek to augment the maximum pressure campaign on the Islamic Republic by imposing sanctions on Iranian interests, including the country’s petrochemical, financial, automotive and construction sectors and ending support for Iranian-backed militias in the region.

    The report claims the number of fighters in Iranian-backed militias, and the geographic spread of the groups across the Middle East, now outstrips the size of Daesh at its peak. As a result, the policy proposals call for proxy militias in Iraq and Syria to be designated FTOs.

    The Republican study also suggests increasing sanctions on Lebanese Hezbollah, and the group’s allies in the country, including some former and current politicians. The report specifically names two high profile Lebanese politicians – former Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil, and Amal Movement leader and Speaker of the House Nabih Berri – as “Hezbollah’s strongest allies”.

    The study also calls on the US administration to block US taxpayers’ money from contributing to a potential IMF bailout for Lebanon which, the report claims, would “only reward Hezbollah”, which is a major stakeholder in the current government.

    On Yemen, the report said the Houthis, which, the study claims, are backed by, but still “somewhat independent of Iran”, be designated terrorist group, adding that Congress should “refrain from cutting arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE”, despite their use in Yemen.

    It’s not clear if the proposed sanctions will be passed by Congress, since US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has previously opposed similar policies in Iraq and Lebanon.

    While a report by the National quoted Ryan Bohl, a Middle East and North Africa analyst for Stratfor, as saying the proposed sanctions are “unlikely to pass, especially with the November election coming up and Democrats not wanting to look like they’re creating overseas tensions”.”

  21. Libya militia leader Haftar ‘lost millions of dollars’ on undelivered weapons sales

    “Rogue Libyan General Khalifa Haftar has spent tens of millions of dollars on undelivered weaponry and services promised to him by western mercenaries and businessmen, a new report has found.

    The head of the rebel militias fighting the UN-recognised government has lost some $55 million after weapons Haftar ordered – including an assault helicopter, a reconnaissance plane, and an offshore patrol vessel – were paid for but not delivered, diplomatic sources told The Independent.

    This follows after a series of decisive defeats suffered by Haftar’s forces in western Libya at the hands of the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

    Haftar has the backing from several foreign powers including Russia and the UAE, while the Tripoli-based GNA is aided by Turkey.

    Haftar’s aides denied claims a deal took place, and told the publication the GNA was spreading “propaganda”.

    United Nations investigators determined that 20 foreign mercenaries – including five Britons, 12 South Africans, two Australians, and an American – were paid more than $120,000 each last June to create a marine task force to help Haftar in his botched attempt to take Tripoli.

    The February report, seen by The New York Times at the time, discovered that the mercenaries were paid more than $80 million for services, as well as a number of war equipment including an aircraft.

    The deal quickly went south just hours after the mercenaries landed in east Syria, and according to two diplomats with knowledge of the report who presented to the Security Council’s sanctions committee at the time, the mercs fled to Malta last June in two inflatable boats (RHIB).

    A fight had broken out between the mercenaries and Haftar over the deal, after they provided weaponry worth only $30 million – not the $80 million Haftar had paid.

    The report claimed the expedition had been organised and financed by secret companies in the UAE.

    The UN probe, according to one source, found that General Haftar had been given six helicopters that were of an older model than what he paid for – three Gazelles and three Pumas.

    Haftar, according to a document obtained by the UN, had expected more combat aircraft, including a Cobra attack helicopter and a LASA T-bird.

    The two diplomats alleged that two Dubai-based companies, Lancaster 6 and Opus were named by UN investigators as allegedly paying for the deals.

    Both companies vehemently denied its involvement and a spokesperson for Lancaster 6, whilst acknowledging the presence of the group in Libya for a “very short period” of time, intend to “vigorously prosecute any false and misleading allegations”.

    Foreign interference

    Turkey on Thursday rejected an Egyptian peace initiative in Libya after victories against Haftar and said it favoured a binding ceasefire under UN auspices.

    “The call for ceasefire or the joint declaration, to us, is stillborn. It’s not realistic, it’s not sincere,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the private NTV broadcaster.

    Egypt has pressed for a ceasefire in Libya in an initiative also backed by the UAE. Both countries support Haftar against the GNA.

    The Turkish-backed GNA based in Tripoli has in recent weeks recaptured all remaining outposts in western Libya from pro-Haftar loyalists, who had sought to seize the capital in a 14-month offensive.

    The so-called “Cairo declaration”, which comes after GNA’s battlefield successes, called for the withdrawal of “foreign mercenaries from all Libyan territory, dismantling militias and handing over their weaponry.””

  22. Ankara slams US international religious freedom report

    “Turkey on June 11 criticized the U.S. Department of State’s 2019 Report on International Religious Freedom as “written in a language far from objectivity.”

    Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in a statement that the report’s contents on Turkey included “claims without sources.”

    “Without any discrimination, Turkey continues to support its goals in protecting and developing the freedoms of religion and worship for all of our citizens via concrete steps. Different religions and beliefs live in peace and harmony in our country,” Aksoy said.

    Underscoring that in the last 20 years, Turkey had taken significant steps to improve the rights and freedoms of non-Muslims, Aksoy said the country had introduced legislation and governance practices for all citizens to enjoy equal rights and to prevent all means of discrimination as part of its efforts to further democracy.

    Referring to the report’s stance on discussions to convert Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia and Chora Museums into mosques, Aksoy said: “Hagia Sophia and Chora are the property of the Republic of Turkey and all means of authority [on the
    museums] are a matter of Turkey’s internal affairs.”

    “Decisions made or to be made regarding these sites are not a concern of other countries,” he added.

    Aksoy further stressed that all cultural and religious properties in Turkey were well protected.

    Citing rising Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia in the U.S., Aksoy said it was “tragicomic” for Washington to use such reports to draw the world’s attention away from widespread protests in the country.

    Aksoy further rejected “all inconsistencies and purposeful but baseless statements in the report” and called on the U.S. to focus on its internal affairs on religious freedoms and human rights.”

  23. Turkey says ‘only we decide’ on Hagia Sophia as mosque

    “Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the Hagia Sophia is “not an international question at all, but a question of national sovereignty”, following harsh controversy in recent days, especially with Greece, on the possibility of reconverting the symbolic Istanbul monument into a mosque.

    It has been a museum since 1935, after having previously been a Christian basilica and an Islamic place of worship.”

  24. Italian charity boats resume migrant rescues at sea after two-month break

    “The first charity boats have headed back to the Mediterranean after a two-month hiatus in migrant rescue operations, as humanitarian groups await a new wave of arrivals.

    Italian NGO Mediterranea Saving Humans said on Tuesday night that its chartered boat, Mare Jonio, had left the Sicilian port of Trapani to patrol the central Mediterranean on its eighth mission.

    It joins the Sea Watch 3, operated by Germany’s Sea Watch, which left Messina in Sicily on Monday…”

  25. Sweden to drop daily COVID-19 briefings as scandal grows over its loose handling of the pandemic

    Sweden’s top health authority will drop daily press briefings that had provided updates on the country’s Covid-19 infection rate and death toll. The decision comes amid a furore over Sweden’s strategy to fight the pandemic, after state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell admitted his approach was flawed. Instead of every day, updates will now only be provided on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

    Sweden’s softer lockdown has resulted in one of the world’s highest death rates, relative to its population. But both Tegnell and Prime Minister Stefan Lofven have insisted there’s no need to change strategies. The controversy had turned the briefings into public grillings during which Tegnell was increasingly pressed to explain himself.

    The development has embarrassed the government and led to a dramatic slump in Swedish support for the country’s Covid response. During a debate with party leaders on Wednesday, Lofven acknowledged Sweden should have conducted more tests for the virus.

    Meanwhile, members of the opposition have stepped up their attack. Jimmie Akesson, the leader of the populist Sweden Democrats, accused Lofven of “hiding behind” the country’s health experts.

    According to a statement published by the Public Health Agency of Sweden, the decision to drop daily briefings takes effect “from now,” and will continue to apply “during the summer.”
    At least the “populists” score.

  26. UN horrified by reports of at least eight mass graves discovered in Libya

    “The United Nations voiced “horror” after reports of the discovery of eight mass graves in an area recently seized by the unity government after forces loyal to eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar withdrew.

    “UNSMIL notes with horror reports on the discovery of at least eight mass graves in past days, the majority of them in Tarhuna,” the UN mission said in a statement on Twitter.

    “International law requires that the authorities conduct prompt, effective & transparent investigations into all alleged cases of unlawful deaths,” it added.

    Several presumed mass graves have been discovered near Tarhuna, southeast of the capital Tripoli, since it was seized back by forces loyal to the UN-recognised Government of National Accord on June 5.

    An AFP journalist on Thursday was granted access to a site where several bodies had been discovered and exhumed by the Libyan Red Crescent for identification the day before…”

  27. Mass migration leads to tragic social, racial and religious conflicts, says Poland’s interior minister

    “Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Kami?ski assured Polish citizens that the Law and Justice (PiS) government will oppose the relocation of illegal migrants to Poland and that this view was clear and “non-negotiable”.

    “The Polish government will not accept mandatory illegal migrant relocations,” he said, according to TVP Info.

    Kami?ski pointed out that the government is taking these actions not due to “xenophobia” but rather “common sense”.

    “There is and will be no permission of the Polish government to impose on us any kind of social or cultural experiments,” the minister declared.

    He referred to the dire situation in Western Europe where several clusters culturally unassimilated persons have been established, resulting in an increased threat of terrorism, rising crime in Western countries, and intolerant views on Western democratic norms.

    “This leads to tragic consequences; social, racial and religious conflicts,” Kami?ski said in reference to mass migration through forced migrant quotas.

    Poland has not experienced a single major terrorist attack in modern times but has recently foiled a number of ISIS operations in the country in recent months from migrants attempting to enter the country.

    Kami?ski also stated that he and his counterparts from the Visegrád Group, which include Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia as well as Slovenia, Latvia and Estonia, sent a letter to the European Commission opposing relocation of illegal migrants within their countries.

    The statement concerned the EU’s New Pact on Migration and Asylum which is to be published in the second quarter of 2020.

    Kami?ski explained that in March 2020, some Southern EU countries sent a motion to the European Commission concerning introducing swift and mandatory relocations of illegal migrants on EU soil. In April, the governments of Italy, Spain, Germany and France supported the notion.

    “In our document, we express firm opposition towards the return of the idea of mandatory relocation of illegal migrants on EU territory. We oppose this and firmly and state that such tools and solutions will not be accepted by us,” he stressed.

    Other PiS politicians have pointed to the strife that multicultural societies bring as a key reason why the country continues to reject migrant reallocation schemes, including as MP Dominik Tarczynski He stated that Poland does not want to experience the terrorist attacks or rise in crime that have plagued other Western European countries that have taken on millions of migrants.

    “If you want to be a refugee, you have to flee to the first safe country, neighbor country. Then, you have to apply, you have to prove who you are and now we are having people in Europe,” said Tarczynski during an interview with Al Jazeera last year. “Poland is not a neighbor of Syria. We have documents or passports with the same picture and different names. That’s just a fact from our interior minister. So, it’s all about safety.”

    He also asked why European countries have to accept Middle Eastern migrants when the richest countries in the region refuse to help.

    “The whole migration crisis, it’s a global thing. Europe is not responsible for what is happening in Syria. Poland is not responsible for what is happening in Iraq, in Syria, in other places. We never had any colonies. So if this problem is a global problem, where is Saudi Arabia, where is Qatar, where are the other Arab countries, the rich Arab countries which should help?”

    Other Visegrád Group leaders have made public statements this week against migrant quotas, including Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who said, “The Czech Republic will continue to decide on its asylum policy. I have rejected the system of mandatory quotas before, and I will continue to do so, no matter what the European Commission will call it. I consider this matter closed, on the other hand, Europe must find an effective solution against illegal migration and break up smuggling gangs.”

    While Pew research has determined that the Muslim population in Europe could triple to 76 million in 30 years, the countries of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia are largely expected to avoid this trend.”

  28. Hamster tests show masks reduce coronavirus spread: scientists

    Tests on hamsters reveal the widespread use of facemasks reduces transmission of the deadly coronavirus, a team of leading experts in Hong Kong said Sunday.

    The research by the University of Hong Kong is some of the first to specifically investigate whether masks can stop symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers from infecting others.

    Led by Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, one of the world’s top coronavirus experts, the team placed hamsters that were artificially infected with the disease next to healthy animals.

    Surgical masks were placed between the two cages with air flow travelling from the infected animals to the healthy ones.

    The researchers found non-contact transmission of the virus could be reduced by more than 60 percent when the masks were used.

    Two thirds of the healthy hamsters were infected within a week if no masks were applied.

    The infection rate plunged to just over 15 percent when surgical masks were put on the cage of the infected animals and by about 35 percent when placed on the cage with the healthy hamsters.

    Those that did become infected were also found to have less of the virus within their bodies than those infected without a mask….

    Yuen was one of the microbiologists who discovered the SARS virus—a predecessor of the current coronavirus—when it emerged in 2003, killing some 300 people in Hong Kong.

    Armed with knowledge from that fight, he advised Hong Kongers early in the current pandemic to adopt universal masking, something embraced by the city’s residents.

    At the time the World Health Organisation and many other foreign health authorities dismissed using masks widely among the public, saying they should instead go to frontline medical workers.

    Four months after its first COVID-19 case was detected, Hong Kong has largely managed to contain the disease with just over 1,000 infections and four deaths.

    Experts have credited widespread mask use as well as efficient testing, tracing and treatment in the city of 7.5 million for the relatively low numbers.

  29. Tucker: The world welcomes its newest country

    Say hello to the latest addition to the global family of nations: the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, formerly known as downtown Seattle. Radio show host Jason Rantz weighs in on CHAZ

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