Reader’s Links for October 1, 2020

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

99 Replies to “Reader’s Links for October 1, 2020”

  1. NYT – Study Finds ‘Single Largest Driver’ of Coronavirus Misinformation: Trump

    Cornell University researchers analyzing 38 million English-language articles about the pandemic found that President Trump was the largest driver of the “infodemic.”

    Of the flood of misinformation, conspiracy theories and falsehoods seeding the internet on the coronavirus, one common thread stands out: President Trump.

    That is the conclusion of researchers at Cornell University

    […]

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/30/us/politics/trump-coronavirus-misinformation.html

    =====================================================

    Cornell study: President Trump is biggest source of coronavirus misinformation

    President Donald Trump is the biggest individual source of coronavirus misinformation in the world, according to a new study at Cornell University.

    […]

    https://www.syracuse.com/coronavirus/2020/10/cornell-study-president-trump-is-biggest-source-of-coronavirus-misinformation.html

    ======================================================

    WaPo – Study shows Trump is a super-spreader — of coronavirus misinformation

    Cornell University finds 38 percent of media stories including misinformation referenced the president in that context

    At Tuesday night’s presidential debate, Joe Biden hit President Trump hard on the coronavirus pandemic. Biden noted that Trump has repeatedly said the death toll “is what it is” and that he privately acknowledged the graveness of the threat in February, while continuing to play it down publicly. “The president has no plan. He hasn’t laid out anything,” the Democratic nominee said, adding: “He still doesn’t have a plan.”

    A new study, though, describes one way in which Trump’s coronavirus response has been particularly consistent and impactful: in spreading misinformation.

    The study from Cornell University claims to be the first to take a broad look at how misinformation has spread during the pandemic, and the one factor uniting much of it is Trump.

    […]“We conclude therefore that the President of the United States was likely the largest driver of the COVID-19 misinformation ‘infodemic,’ ” the study’s authors say. The study also has stern words for reporters, noting that they must avoid uncritically disseminating such misinformation.

    […]Among the types of “miracle cures” included were the anti-malarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. Early on, reputable health officials suggested that they might indeed be beneficial, despite no scientific proof. That led the Food and Drug Administration to approve them for emergency use for a period of time, although that authorization was later rescinded in light of new evidence.

    Trump clearly hyped the drugs way beyond the available data — as he has repeatedly with other treatments like disinfectants and convalescent plasma — and he publicly said he had applied pressure to gain their approval. But some of the articles the study cited as spreading misinformation covered the potential of the drug in measured ways at a time in which nothing was conclusive. One of them, for example, merely noted a surge in hydroxychloroquine prescriptions, while noting up high that a recent study had indicated that the drug might actually do more harm and that foreign medical professionals were pumping the brakes on the drug.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/10/01/study-shows-trump-is-super-spreader-coronavirus-misinformation/

  2. A federal judge in Washington D.C. has ordered a halt to a law-enforcement review panel created at President Donald Trump’s direction, after ruling the panel broke federal requirements that the panel meet openly and be comprised with “fairly balanced” membership.

    U.S. District Judge John Bates, a judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, issued a decision on Thursday the 18-member panel, known as the “Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice” violated a federal rule that federal advisory committees must be “fairly balanced” in their composition and that their meetings be open to the public. Bates ruled the commission cannot continue with its work until it addresses those requirements.

    Judge Bates criticized the commission for its current composition of only current and former law enforcement officers.

    https://americanmilitarynews.com/2020/10/judge-blocks-trumps-police-commission-meetings-and-says-law-requires-fairly-balanced-membership/

  3. Turkey, Iran Deploy ‘Game-Changing’ Drones in North Iraq
    https://www.thedefensepost.com/2020/10/01/turkey-iran-drones-iraq/

    “Turkey and Iran are increasingly adopting “game-changing” drones as their weapon of choice against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, prompting fears for the safety of civilians and stoking geopolitical tensions.

    “Not a day goes by without us seeing a drone,” said Mohammad Hassan, mayor of Qandil, the mountainous Iraqi stronghold of Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

    “They fly so low Qandil’s residents can see them with their naked eye,” Hassan told AFP.

    The PKK has used Qandil for decades as a rear-base for its insurgency against the Turkish state.

    The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDK-I) has similar rear-bases in other remote areas of Iraqi Kurdistan, from which it launches attacks across the border into Iran.

    Turkey and Iran consider the Kurdish rebels as “terrorists” and routinely conduct cross-border ground assaults, airstrikes and artillery bombardments against their Iraq bases.

    Starting in 2018, both countries began using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for surveillance and even targeted assassinations in northern Iraq.

    Drone use has expanded dramatically since Turkey launched a new assault in June, analysts and residents of affected areas told AFP.

    Activists said dozens of border villages and adjacent farms have been abandoned by their terrified residents.

    The drone strikes have also prevented thousands of Yazidis from returning to their homes in Sinjar district, close to the Syrian border, where PKK elements now have a presence.

    “The Turkish bombing causes so much terror, so Yazidis are not coming home,” Sinjar mayor Mahma Khalil told AFP.

    Mistrust, Irritation
    Despite public criticism, Turkey has continued its drone warfare — likely because of new strides against the PKK.

    For years, the PKK sheltered in Iraq’s mountains, where manned warplanes and ground troops struggled to reach them.

    But drones have allowed Ankara to track, identify and eliminate PKK targets within minutes, Nicholas Heras of the Institute for the Study of War told AFP.

    “Turkey’s use of military drones in northern Iraq has been a game-changer in its war against the PKK,” he said.

    Ankara is now swapping expensive fighter-bombers like the US F-16 for drones like the domestically-produced Bayraktar TB2, which has better surveillance, can fly for 24 hours and is cheaper — so “expendable” if downed by the PKK, said Turkish drone expert Sibel Duz.

    In an exclusive interview in Qandil, PKK spokesman Zagros Hiwa told AFP Turkey had created a 15 kilometer (10 mile) buffer zone in northern Iraq with the help of its drones.

    “Our forces have downed seven drones this year,” he said, declining to provide details of PKK losses.

    The PKK has had limited success with improvised drones of its own, commercial models fitted with explosives.

    A US source familiar with Turkey’s drones program said US special operations forces in northern Iraq were bristling at the new “frequency and intensity” of strikes.

    “The Turks are overflying US positions with armed assets, which is a no-no. There is general mistrust and irritation over all this,” the source said.

    Shooting Gallery
    Iran first began deploying aircraft fitted with cameras during its 1980-88 war with Iraq.

    The newer Mohajer-6 and Shahed-129 are Tehran’s weapons of choice for northern Iraq, said Adam Rawnsley, who tracks Iranian drones for the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

    “The way Iran is using drones against Kurdish targets in Iraq is 180 degrees different than how they use drones everywhere else. It’s much more sophisticated,” he said.

    In a rare interview this spring, the head of Tehran’s drone division Colonel Akbar Karimloo told local media Iran uses the aircraft for both surveillance and attack, and to provide forward observation for artillery and missile launchers.

    Earlier this month, Iran said it would “take coordinated steps” with Turkey to counter Kurdish rebel activity along its borders. It did not specifically mention drones.

    Baghdad and Kurdish authorities have said little on the expanding drone campaigns, and Iraqi officials have told AFP privately they have no leverage over Turkey or Iran.

    After a Turkish drone strike killed two top Iraqi officers in the north in August, Baghdad expressed outrage but did not pressure Ankara.

    “The general problem Iraq has is that larger powers tend to use it as a shooting gallery,” Rawnsley told AFP.

    Wim Zwijnenburg, who works on disarmament for Dutch peace organization PAX, said avenues for recourse were limited.

    “A lot of these strikes are in areas which are not very populated, so there’s little information from people or journalists on the ground,” he said.

    Indeed, neither activists nor officials could provide a specific death toll from drone strikes in the north.

    “That only adds to the obscurity of the drone campaigns,” Zwijnenburg told AFP.”

  4. Turkey Begins Life Under Strict Social Media Rules
    https://english.aawsat.com/home/article/2539951/turkey-begins-life-under-strict-social-media-rules

    “Turkey on Thursday entered a new era of tight social media restrictions which threaten to erase the local presence of Facebook and Twitter should they fail to take down contentious posts.

    The legislation was rammed through parliament by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AKP party and follows the government’s crackdown on opposition newspapers and television channels.

    Facebook’s human rights officer Iain Levine tweeted that the move “raises many concerns (about) human rights”.

    But while fearful, free speech advocates are not certain whether Erdogan’s government will be able to implement the law’s most punitive measures — or if social media companies will ever fully comply.

    “We believe that these days it’s really impossible in a country like Turkey to suppress social media — it is so much a part of people’s lives,” said Emma Sinclair-Webb, the Turkey director of Human Rights Watch.

    Under the new rules, platforms with more than one million daily users must open offices in Turkey that can deal with local court decisions to remove offending content within a day.

    If not, they face advertising bans, multi-million-dollar fines and — crucially — bandwidth reductions of up to 90 percent, making the platforms effectively unusable.

    They also require social media companies to “take necessary measures” to store user data locally, although binding legislation to that effect was taken out of the final version of the law passed in July.

    Erdogan has made no secret of his disdain for social media, although his @RTErdogan Twitter account has 16.7 million followers.

    “Twitter schmitter!” he declared in 2014, vowing to “wipe all of these” platforms out.

    He followed through on his threat later that year by briefly unplugging Twitter and YouTube ahead of local elections, which came in the heat of a corruption scandal linked to online audio tapes.

    “The objective of the law is to threaten social media companies with a comply-or-die message,” Sinclair-Webb told AFP.

    Access to websites and content has already been partially restricted in the nation of 83 million people.

    Privacy rights advocate Sevket Uyanik said Turkey had blocked access to 408,000 websites, 40,000 tweets, 10,000 YouTube videos and 6,200 Facebook posts by the end of 2019.

    “When this is already the case, imagine what it will be like after October 1,” Uyanik told AFP.”

  5. American ISIS Supporters Held by Kurds Back in US Custody
    https://english.aawsat.com/home/article/2540276/american-isis-supporters-held-kurds-back-us-custody

    “The United States said on Thursday all known Americans supporting ISIS and being held by Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria have been returned, some to face criminal charges.

    In a statement, the US Department of Justice said two US ISIS supporters made court appearances in Florida on Wednesday on charges of providing the group material support. That brings the total number of US citizens back in custody from Syria and Iraq to 27, and among those, 10 face charges, it said.

    Two other Americans facing similar charges faced US court action in Minnesota and Washington on Sept. 16, the department added.

    “The United States has brought back every American supporter of ISIS known to be held by the Syrian Democratic Forces against whom we have charges,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said, calling the effort a “moral responsibility.”

    The department also urged other countries, especially those in Western Europe, to act and said it would help them take “responsibility for their citizens who left to take up arms in support of ISIS’s reign of hate and intolerance.”

    Europeans make up about one-fifth of the 10,000 ISIS extremists held by Kurdish fighters in Syria, but many European nations have hesitated to repatriate citizens linked to the group for fear of a public backlash.”

  6. US Says Won’t Tolerate Attacks by Iran-backed Militias in Iraq
    https://english.aawsat.com/home/article/2540526/us-says-wont-tolerate-attacks-iran-backed-militias-iraq

    “The United States will not hesitate to act to protect its personnel in Iraq, where it considers Iranian-backed militias that have attacked US targets to be the country’s “single biggest problem,” a senior State Department official said on Thursday.

    David Schenker, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, issued the warning when asked during a briefing about US threats to close its embassy in Baghdad.

    He declined to comment on what he called Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s “private diplomatic conversations” but added, “We can’t tolerate the threats to our people, our men and women serving abroad.”

    Schenker did not confirm or deny a reported US threat to withdraw its troops and close its embassy in Baghdad unless the attacks against them stop.

    He also said the US will continue to impose sanctions on Lebanese individuals allied with Hezbollah or engaged in corruption.

    Schenker told reporters that further sanctions remained in play even after Israel and Lebanon announced earlier on Thursday they had agreed on a framework for the coming negotiations on their maritime border dispute.”

  7. US lawsuit challenges Trump’s sanctions against ICC
    https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/new-us-lawsuit-challenges-trumps-sanctions-against-icc

    “A human rights group, along with four law professors, has filed a lawsuit against the US President Donald Trump’s administration in an attempt to block Washington’s sanctions against the International Criminal Court (ICC), arguing that the measures undermine their right to advocate for international justice.

    The lawsuit, filed by the Open Society Justice Initiative, Diane Marie Amann, Gabor Rona, Milena Sterio and Margaret deGuzman at a US district court in New York on Monday, comes a month after the US administration imposed sanctions on top ICC officials…”

  8. Trump cuts US refugee admissions for 2021 to record low
    https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/us-refugee-admission-cut-record-low

    “The Trump administration has informed Congress it intends to accept only 15,000 refugees during fiscal year 2021, a historic low for the US.

    In a media note sent less than an hour before the end of the fiscal year 2020, the State Department said late on Wednesday that it intended to admit a maximum of 15,000 refugees for 2021, 3,000 fewer than the 18,000 ceiling the administration had set for 2020.

    The refugee cap reflects the Trump administration’s “continuing commitment to prioritise the safety and well-being of Americans, especially in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic,” the State Department said…”

  9. France temporarily detains relatives of citizens trapped in Syria camps
    https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/syria-france-jails-relatives-citizens-trapped-camps

    “French authorities arrested at least six French citizens on Tuesday for sending funds to relatives in Syrian refugee camps, a move denounced by a collective of families of those waiting to be repatriated from Syria, only to release them two days later without charges.

    French media reported that some 55 raids were carried out by the French national anti-terrorism prosecution (PNAT) earlier this week as part of a crackdown on “cyberfunding of terrorism”, leading to 29 arrests across France.

    However, at least six of those detained were reportedly seeking to send money to relatives currently living in dismal conditions in camps such as al-Hol and al-Roj, located in the countryside near al-Malikiyah in Syria’s northeastern Hasakah province…”

  10. UAE delivered weapons to Libya’s Haftar despite UN embargo
    https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/uae-libya-arms-deliveries-haftar-un-embargo

    “The United Arab Emirates continued to supply military equipment to Libya’s eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar despite a United Nations embargo on weapons transfers to the country, according to a confidential UN report.

    The UAE made more than 150 flights to regions controlled by Haftar, mostly in eastern Libya, between January and April in what experts are calling an attempt to prop up the rebel leader’s campaign against the UN-recognised Tripoli government.

    In particular, flights to Haftar-controlled zones increased during his failed assault on Tripoli earlier this year, a diplomat with access to the unpublished report that was prepared by a UN expert panel told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

    UAE-supplied weapons, the report says, have proven crucial in Haftar’s campaign and in his takeover of parts of eastern Libya…”

  11. ‘We were deceived’, says Syria mercenary fighting in Azerbaijan
    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20201001-we-were-deceived-says-syria-mercenary-fighting-in-azerbaijan/

    “A Syrian fighting in Azerbaijan’s disputed Nagorno-Karabkh region has spoken to BBC Arabic and claims he, along with others, were deceived when being recruited by the Turkish-backed “Syrian National Army”, formerly known as the Free Syria Army.

    The fighter using the nom de guerre “Abdullah” is among hundreds of Syrians aged 17 to 30 who arrived last week “with the knowledge of the Turkish army the SNA”. However he was under the impression that he was recruited for a job paying $2,000 a month.

    “Last week, Saif Abu Bakr, the commander of the Hamza Division of the opposition Syrian National Army, suggested that we go to Azerbaijan to guard military points on the border with a monthly wage of up to $2,000,” said Abdullah.

    “There was no war at the time, and we were transferred from Northern Syria to the village of Hor Kilis, and there we have stripped us from the opposition Syrian National Army of all our money, phones and clothes, so that our identity is not recognised.”

    Days after arriving, the untrained Syrians were forced to fight on the front lines as the fighting broke out between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over the disputed region.

    “They loaded us into troop carriers, we were wearing Azeri uniforms, and each of us was armed with a single Kalashnikov weapon. Most of the people here are poor civilians who wanted the money, not soldiers, stopped the car and we were surprised that we were in the line of fire. We did not even know where the enemy was.”

    Abdullah and others later said they wanted to return to Syria, but were prevented and threatened with long prison terms if they refused to fight “We are almost exiled”, he said.

    Both Turkey and Azerbaijan have denied the accusations that Syrian fighters have been sent to fight for Azerbaijan. However, according to the Guardian, at least three Syrian opposition fighters have been killed in Nagorno-Karabkh.

    On Monday, Armenia’s ambassador to Moscow said that Turkey had sent around 4,000 fighters from northern Syria. France today also weighed in on the accusations, the office of President Emmanuel Macron said he and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the issue and both “share concern about the sending of Syrian mercenaries by Turkey to Nagorno-Karabakh”.

    Turkish media outlets have claimed that Armenia is recruiting Kurdish PKK terrorists in their ranks, although critics argue it is using the reports to justify military intervention and that no evidence has been provided.

    Turkey has previously sent Syrian fighters to Libya despite denials by the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).”

  12. 2020-10-01 ‘We were deceived’: Syrian militant in Azerbaijan to the BBC
    https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/we-were-deceived-syrian-militant-in-azerbaijan-to-the-bbc/
    The BBC interviewed a Syrian military this week, who is fighting in the Karabakh region for Azerbaijan against the Armenian forces.

    The fighter, using the nom de guerre ‘Abdullah’, said he was among those who felt they had been deceived by the recruitment effort to go to Azerbaijan.

    He said that he was not aware that he was going to fight, as the BBC described him as one of hundreds of Syrians not trained in fighting, who were no more than 30 years old.

    The BBC indicated that they were sent to fight “with the knowledge of the Turkish army and its ally in the north, the Syrian National Army.”

    They quoted Abdullah as saying that he had agreed to “a job in Azerbaijan in exchange for $2,000 a month to improve his and his family’s living conditions,” but “he did not know what he was waiting for there.”

    Abdullah spoke about the details of his trip, and said:

    “Last week, Saif Abu Bakr, commander of the Hamza Division of the Syrian National Army, suggested that we go to Azerbaijan to guard military points on the border for a monthly wage of up to $2,000.”

    He said before they went to Azerbaijan, they were transferred to a village in northern Syria, where they handed over their money, phones, clothes and identification so that they would not be identified.

    He continued, “We were transferred to the Gaziantep airport in southern Turkey, where we took an hour and forty-minute flight to Istanbul airport, and then we were transferred via Azerbaijani airlines to Azerbaijan, and we found ourselves at a military post on the border.”
    Abdullah confirmed that they had not received any military training in fighting, and that when news of the outbreak of war between the Azerbaijanis and Armenians arrived, “they loaded us into troop carriers, we were wearing Azeri uniforms, and each of us was armed with a single Kalashnikov weapon .. Most of the people here are poor civilians who wanted the money, not soldiers, stopped the car and we were surprised that we were in the line of fire. We did not even know where the enemy was. ”

    Abdullah continued that his comrades started crying when the bombing started and asked to return to their areas.

    “A shell fell next to us, killing four Syrians and wounding three others … I saw the bodies of 10 Syrians, while 70 others were injured, who do not have the necessary health care.”

    The site quotes these fighters as saying that “the bright future has turned into sudden darkness, as they face death at any moment.”

    Abdullah, who was communicating with the site on social media, concluded:

    “After the start of the war, we tried to inform the leaders here that we want to return to Syria, but they prevented us, threatening us with long prison terms if we do not go to fight on the fronts, we are almost exiled.”

    It is reported that the Armenian government accused Turkey of deploying 4,000 Syrian fighters in Azerbaijan, but the Azerbaijani authorities denied these accusations.

  13. Egypt, France conduct joint naval drills in Mediterranean Sea
    http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/386396/Egypt/Politics-/Egypt,-France-conduct-joint-naval-drills-in-Medite.aspx

    “Egyptian and French naval forces have conducted an exercise in the Mediterranean Sea, with the participation of Egypt’s FREMM frigate Tahya Misr and new Type-209/1400 submarine and the French frigate Latouche-Tréville.

    A statement by the official spokesperson of the Egyptian Armed Forces said on Thursday that the naval drills come in light of the Armed Forces General Command’s plan to raise the level of combat training and exchange expertise with the armed forces of Egypt’s friendly countries.

    The exercise included many different training activities, such as securing and protecting an important area against the threat of submarines at night, electronic warfare training, in addition to training for responding to and deterring asymmetrical threats.

    It also involved training on various sailing formations, and conducting signal transportation exercises.

    The drills come in light of endeavours meant to boost Egypt-France military cooperation, in a way that contributes to honing combat and operational skills for the two countries’ armed forces.

    They also support efforts that aim to maintain maritime security, stability and peace in the Mediterranean region.

    Thursday’s joint drills were the third between Egypt and France in 2019 as they conducted naval drills earlier in February and July.”

  14. Is Iran being dragged into the Nagorno-Karabach coonflict?

    Iran is targeted again by artillery fire from the Azerbaijani-Armenian clashes
    https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/iran-is-targeted-again-by-artillery-fire-from-the-azerbaijani-armenian-clashes/

    ‘This war against our republic is also a war against Iran’: Karabakh President
    https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/this-war-against-our-republic-is-also-a-war-against-iran-karabakh-president/

  15. Azhar’s grand imam decries Western officials’ use of ‘Islamic terrorism’
    http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/386373/Egypt/Politics-/Azhars-grand-imam-decries-Western-officials-use-of.aspx

    “Egypt’s Grand Imam of El-Azhar Ahmed El-Tayyeb denounced some Western officials’ insistence to use the term “Islamic terrorism,” demanding the incrimination of its use.

    El-Tayyeb’s office released a statement saying the term is offensive to Islam and its believers and reflects a shameful ignorance of the religion’s graceful Sharia and its laws and principles that incriminate violence against human rights, freedoms, and mutual respect.

    “Sheikh Al-Azhar reasserts that attaching the crime of terrorism to Islam or any other divine religion is a defective confusion between the truth of religions that came down for the happiness of mankind and using them for low purposes at the hands of a minority,” the statement added.

    El-Tayyeb urged Western officials to refrain from using “misleading terms” that will only increase hatred and radicalisation and defame the principles of peaceful religions that call against violence and promote coexistence.

    “Those who insist on using this hateful term are not aware they are reducing opportunities for fruitful dialogue between the East and West and increasing hate speech among societies,” the statement added.

    Al-Azhar is Egypt and the Muslim world’s Sunni institution.”

  16. Belgium Names Belgian-Moroccan Meryame Kitir as Development Minister
    https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2020/10/321326/belgium-names-belgian-moroccan-meryame-kitir-as-development-minister/

    “Belgium has announced the appointment of Belgian-Moroccan politician Meryame Kitir as the new minister of international development cooperation and urban policy.

    The 40-year-old was born to Moroccan parents. Her father emigrated from Ouarzazate to Belgium in the 60s, according to RTBF.

    Kitir’s father worked in the mines of Limburg.

    She is a member of a “large family of eleven brothers and sisters, whose mother died when Meryame Kitir was two years old,” the Belgian news outlet reported.

    Kitir, a member of the Socialist Union Party, was elected to the Maasmechelen municipal council in 2006 and became a member of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives in 2007.

    In 2016, Kitir left Maasmechelen for Genk, where she assumed office at the municipal council.

    Belgium’s new minister of development cooperation is known for her activism regarding labor issues.

    She was notably involved in union activism to defend the rights of workers.

    The official began working at the Ford plant in Genk in 1999, when she was only 19 years old.

    A few years after joining the Socialist Union, the politician became the party’s general delegate.

    The politician also was reelected to the House of Representatives in 2014.

    In 2019, Meryame Kitir served as the leader of her political group until her appointment as a federal minister.

    In addition to Meryame Kitir, Belgium also appointed Belgian-Moroccan politician Zakia Khattabi as the new minister of environment and climate.

    Khattabi holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from the Universite Libre de Bruxelles (ULB).

    The 44-year-old politician joined the Brussels parliament in 20019, and her party appointed her to the senate the same year.

    Khattabi served as the president of the Ecolo party from 2015 until September 2019.

    The appointment of both politicians of Moroccan origin to the Belgian government is a first in the European country’s political history.”

  17. Turkey to build permanent base in Antarctica, says minister
    https://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-to-build-permanent-base-in-antarctica-says-minister-158753

    “Turkey is building a permanent base in Antarctica, Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank has announced on Twitter, sharing a documentary about the continent in his message.

    “Today we are building a permanent base in Antarctica, a place where we did not exist four years ago,” wrote Varank on Sept. 30.

    He also shared footage from “The Black Box of the Planet: Antarctica,” Turkey’s documentary recorded in the frozen continent. The documentary was premiered at the presidential complex at an event hosted by the Turkish first lady, Emine Erdo?an, on Sept. 23.

    The minister thanked Erdo?an for her support in his tweet.

    Stating in a press conference in April 2019 that Turkey has long been conducting researches to build a base in Antarctica, Varank said, “We want to have a say in Antarctica. So, we want to build a permanent base there. So, we will work with other countries on the continent.”

    Vice President Fuat Oktay also stressed the importance of a permanent base in the region in January 2019.

    “This year we will again have a temporary base in the continent. But we are looking for a permanent one. Now we have to be members of two scientific associations. When we succeed, then we will be the 30th consultant country,” Oktay had said.

    The documentary that Varank mentioned in his tweet is a cinematographic work that was prepared as part of the country’s forth National Antarctic Science Expedition last year.

    In the fourth Antarctica expedition, 24 scientists headed by Ersan Ba?ar and coordinated by Burcu Özsoy searched for several answers on the frozen continent.

    During the expedition, 135 hours of raw video was shot to create the documentary.

    In the event organized for the promotion of the documentary at the presidential complex, pointing out that the fourth National Antarctic Science Expedition has many firsts in many respects, Erdo?an said, “The first of these is the recording of the expedition in a documentary.”

    She also praised Burcu Camc?o?lu, the director of the documentary who worked with a team of two to finish the film.”

  18. Pusher, 25, rapes girl, 16
    https://www.ansa.it/english/news/2020/10/01/pusher-25-rapes-girl-16_2b3da16f-235f-4191-b1b2-231304eaa79e.html

    “A 25-year-old Nigerian asylum seeker and alleged drug pusher was arrested Thursday on suspicion of selling cocaine to a 16-year-old girl and then raping her in Ferrara on July 29, police said.

    The man, Elvis Omonghomion, known in drug pushing circles as Bobby, was arrested on a warrant from Ferrara prosecutors.

    He has a criminal record for pushing, police said.

    The alleged cocaine sale and rape took place in Ferrara’s via del Lavoro two months ago, police said.

    Omonghomion is said to have raped the girl in lieu of payment for the drugs.
    Ferrara is in northern Emilia-Romagna, near the border with Veneto.”

  19. Migrants ‘tumour to be eradicated’ says northern mayor
    https://www.ansa.it/english/news/politics/2020/10/01/migrants-tumour-to-be-eradicated-says-northern-mayor_b1a2ceeb-283d-4578-9ac6-712143e350f1.html

    “Ferrara’s far-right anti-migrant League mayor has caused an uproar in Italy by calling migrants “a tumour to be eradicated”.

    Alan Fabbri, a member of Matteo Salvini’s nationalist party, was commenting on the rejection of 134 migrant residency permit applications in the northern city “almost all on the grounds of social peril and the illegal status of those who had asked for international protection”.

    Fabbri said on Facebook: “Illegals, violent, drug pushers and serial jaywalkers and rough sleepers who do nothing but make our city less safe, they can’t expect any rights and must only return to where they came from.

    “For us they are neither a resource not persons to be integrated at our expense.
    “They are only a tumour to be eradicated”.

    Fabbri’s comments were condemned by centre-left and leftwing parties as well as pro-migrant groups.”

  20. German state suspects intelligence staff of far-right activity
    https://www.dw.com/en/german-intelligence-far-right-extremism/a-55114091

    “The suspects worked as part of a team that monitored right-wing extremism online in North Rhine-Westphalia. But they reportedly shared and posted anti-Islam or xenophobic content on chat groups and social media.

    Four domestic intelligence staff in Germany’s western state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) are suspected of being involved in far-right activity online, according to a local media report on Thursday.

    It comes just two weeks after the state discovered five right-wing extremist chat groups among its police, leading to the suspension of 29 officers.

    What are the accusations?
    Three of the four suspected cases worked for an intelligence observation team, local newspaper Rheinische Post reported, citing the NRW Interior Ministry.

    Another was an administrative clerk in the police department.

    They were flagged in social networks and chats for sending videos with “anti-Islam or xenophobic connotations.”

    The suspected staff were part of an observation team that was involved in all areas of investigation, including monitoring right-wing extremism, according to the ministry.

    “The intelligence team concerned was disbanded and leadership changes were made,” a ministry spokesperson told the Rheinische Post.

    The police department employee was connected to people from the right-wing extremist scene on Facebook, the ministry said.

    The Interior Ministry took immediate disciplinary action, according to the spokesperson…”

  21. CBC – Canada offering Red Cross support to COVID-19 hot spots: sources

    The federal government is offering to send the Canadian Red Cross into COVID-19 hot spots as case numbers rise and parts of the country slip into a second wave, according to sources.

  22. Berlin’s migrant clans are major factor behind high crime rate, chief prosecutor says
    https://rmx.news/article/article/berlin-s-migrant-clans-are-major-factor-behind-high-crime-rate-chief-prosecutor-says

    “The growing crime rate in the German capital is undermining citizens’ trust in the rule of law, Berlin Chief Public Prosecutor Ralph Knispel told Berliner Zeitung in an interview.

    “The population’s trust in the rule of law has declined. There are areas where people feel unsafe, and there are corners in Berlin, for example in Neukölln and Kreuzberg, where even police officers only move in groups because they are exposed to attacks,” Knispel said.

    Knispel, chairman of the Association of Berlin Public Prosecutors, has for a long time been warning politicians for ignoring the growth of migrant clans.

    “You watched forever and apparently thought you had to treat certain people preferentially. For example, it was accepted that criminal clans could establish themselves here,” he said. Such a thing should not be tolerated, not even as an expression of “urban coexistence”.

    Compared to the other federal states, Berlin has one of the worst crime statistics and much of it has been tied to the city’s migrant population. For example, nearly half of all rapes recorded this year were committed by migrants and sexual assaults have risen dramatically in the city.

    “For years, this city has had the highest crime rate and the lowest education rate in terms of population in Germany. We have to ask ourselves why there are fewer criminal offenses per inhabitant in other federal states,” the chief prosecutor said.

    Despite Berlin having a relatively high crime rate, other states have also struggled with migrant clan gangs. For example, the Arab clan crime rate rose 30 percent last year in Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, with clans even attacking on-duty police officers.

    In Germany overall, migrants make up a disproportionately high amount of criminal offenders, especially for the most serious crimes of murder, robbery and sexual assault.

    Berlin has lowest rate of solving crimes in Germany
    One reason for Berlin’s difficulty with crime is the Berlin Senate’s austerity measures in the past, explained Knispel, who last year warned of the collapse of the rule of law. In addition, decades of frugal financing have undermined law enforcement in the capital. The low pay has also led to many law enforcement officers either moving to other federal states or to the private sector.

    However, he positively rates measures against criminal extended families from the recent past, such as the confiscation of 77 clan properties.

    “But the fight against clan crime or organized crime requires perseverance, like a marathon. We can’t be satisfied when we’ve made the first hundred meters,” the lawyer warned. “A little while ago, only five criminals were deported from all Berlin prisons in one year. We are now working on making up for that.”

    Last year over 513,400 crimes have been registered in Berlin, a slight rise over 2018, but the clearance rate remained a very disappointing 44.7 percent, the lowest of Germany’s 16 federal states. Sexual crimes in Berlin had a higher clearance rate, but they were only still at 65.9 percent.

    Asked about his personal experience with crime, Knispel said that a few years ago his house was broken in for the first time and the perpetrators took his children’s money and belongings.”

  23. Germany is failing to fight child marriages in migrant communities
    https://rmx.news/article/article/germany-is-failing-to-fight-child-marriages-in-migrant-communities

    “Although Germany has a law to protect minors from forced marriages, it does not apply in practice, and the number of child marriages in Germany is rapidly rising, with 98 percent of those affected with a migration background.

    Child marriages are not only the practice of people from Syria, Iraq, or Afghanistan but also from Turkey and even Bulgaria, according to German news outlet Focus.

    In 2019, the authorities registered 819 marriages with a minor.

    “In fact, there are many more” said Monika Michell from the Terre des Femmes organization, with Michell providing an example of a 16-year-old girl named Aylin.

    Aylin was a teenager at school who had friends and hobbies, but one day she disappeared and suddenly stopped going to school. Her teacher was unable to reach Aylin by phone and her parents didn’t respond either.

    The teacher was afraid that her strictly religious parents had placed Aylin in her a forced marriage after rumors stated circulating in the school. She tried all the options to reach out to Aylin but had no results, and authorities said they were unable to help. After a while, she found a photo of Aylin on Facebook in a wedding gown standing next to an older man.

    According to Michell, children enter into marriages in certain communities.

    “All you have to do is make a marriage vow in front of a large number of witnesses and bring the girl to the man’s house. Official authorities are not needed for this,” explained Michell.

    98 percent of those affected are of migratory origin
    Marriage to a minor is not only the prerogative of people from Syria, Iraq, or Afghanistan but also from Turkey and even Bulgaria.

    Many federal states have no statistics on this problem. The fact that a girl is a minor usually becomes apparent when she gives birth and the child is registered with the German state.

    The existing law, which is designed to protect minors from marriage, does not work in practice.

    “Many authorities have no idea how to use it,” said Michell, who says the statistics are proof of that reality.

    Many marriages with a minor were made abroad, but she argues that these marriages should be annulled immediately. Marriages, where one of the spouses is less than 16 years of age are also invalid, however, only 11 marriages were annulled last year.

    “Girls often get married because it is the only way out of poverty for them and their families. When they find themselves in Germany, most of them don’t even know that the law is on their side,” added Michell.

    However, marriages with minors are also carried out by those who live in Germany for a long time.

    “93 percent of those who are affected are girls, and 98 percent have a migration background,” pointed out Michell.

    The reasons why many girls do not seek help and do not want to annul their marriages are the consequences. “They are afraid of losing the respect of their families, and they know that such steps could be very dangerous for them. That is also the reason why so few cases are resolved in court,“ concluded Michell.

    In many parts of the world, child marriage is common. For example, in India, 48 percent of brides are married before the age of 18. Another 12 million are married before they turn 10. In Afghanistan, child marriages are legal for children over 15 or 16 depending on the state, but the reality is that the practice is widespread and common for children far younger than that to be married. Nearly a tenth of women between the ages of 15 and 19 give nirth every year due to these marriage arrangements.

    With Germany facing rapid demographic change and a fast-growing migrant population, child marriages are not the only cultural transformation German society is facing. There are, for example, also now 68,000 victims of female genital mutilation living in Germany, a practice that is common in many parts of Africa.”

  24. Trump, Barr, Barron speak at National Catholic Prayer breakfast

    https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/trump-barr-barron-speak-at-national-catholic-prayer-breakfast-46222

    Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 23, 2020 / 11:50 am MT

    Attorney General William Barr warned of “a new orthodoxy that is actively hostile to religion” in his remarks to the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast on Wednesday.

    Speaking on the separation of Church and state, Barr said that “militant secularists have long seized on that slogan” to try to move religion out of the public square and out of conversations on the common good. They are replacing religion “with a new orthodoxy that is actively hostile to religion” which, he said, has resulted in “urban violence,” drug abuse, and broken families.

    Barr addressed the annual event, held virtually in 2020, as he accepted its Christifideles Laici Award.

    “Separation of church and state does not mean—and never did mean—separation of religion and civics,” said Barr, as he insisted Catholics should be more involved in public life through advocating for religious freedom.

    It is “never too late” to work in God’s vineyard, he said.

    Barr addressed the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast (NCPB) on Wednesday through a pre-recorded video. The event is an annual gathering of Catholic leaders held in Washington, D.C., begun in 2004 to promote Pope John Paul II’s call for the New Evangelization.

    Pope Francis sent a greeting to the event through the apostolic nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Christopher Pierre.

    “Knowing the difficulties the nation is facing in the midst of civil unrest, racial tension, political polarization, and the COVID-19 pandemic,” Pierre said, “it is certainly hoped that pausing for prayer and invoking the divine mercy of God will lead to healing, reconciliation, and spiritual renewal.”

    The archbishop encouraged listeners to “enter deeply into prayer” and “beseech the Eternal Father for an outpouring of grace that will lead to happiness and victory” in the present challenges, “according to His will and His plan.”

    President Donald Trump was the second sitting president to address the gathering on Wednesday; President George W. Bush, a Methodist, attended the prayer breakfast each year from 2005 until 2008. Vice President Mike Pence, a baptized Catholic who later identified as an “Evangelical Catholic,” also addressed the event in 2017.

    Trump announced at the breakfast plans to sign a “Born-Alive” executive order to ensure that babies surviving abortions get needed medical care.

    “Our nation is strong because of Catholics and all people of faith,” the president said, adding that “every child, born and unborn, is made in the holy image of God.”

    Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, delivered the keynote address.

    Barron pointed to two historical figures, the legacies of which are “under attack” today, Thomas Jefferson and St. Junipero Serra, and warned against the tendency to “privatize religion.”

    “A privatized religion is bad for religion, it’s bad for democracy,” he said, calling on Catholics to “follow the promptings of the Second Vatican Council” and bring their faith into the public arena.

    The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, also addressed the gathering, noting that the pandemic had affected the Christians in the Holy Land. “Our Holy Sites lie empty” and local families “now struggle to feed their families,” he said.

    NCPB board member Mark Randall stated at the outset that “our only agenda is prayer.” The event was originally scheduled for March, but, because of the pandemic, was rescheduled to Wednesday, prompting media focus on the participation of political figures, including Trump and Barr, six weeks before the 2020 presidential election.

    Neither Barr’s remarks nor Trump’s made mention of the election itself.

    Board member Leonard Leo introduced both Trump and Barr on Wednesday at the non-partisan event.

    Trump, he said, has “fiercely defended the culture of life” and “more than any other president in my lifetime, and he’s done so much more to embrace policies that reflect the morals, teachings, and objectives of our faith.” He cited religious freedom and pro-life protections of the administration.

    Leo praised Barr’s “integrity,” “honesty,” “humility,” and “sincere and wise counsel” before Barr was honored with the Christifideles Laici Award. Named for Pope St. John Paul II’s 1988 exhortation on the lay vocation, the award honors lay Catholics who promote the New Evangelization and the Church’s mission in their life and work.

    Barr, who also served as the attorney general from 1991-93 in the George H.W. Bush administration, is Catholic. He has been criticized by some Catholics – including the bishops’ conference – for resuming executions of federal death row inmates, ending a nearly two-decade moratorium on the federal use of the death penalty.

    US Atty General Barr: Militant secularists co-opted ‘separation of church and state’ to attack religious freedom

    Barr said that secularists have attempted to ‘drive religion from the public square, and to exclude religious people from bringing a religious perspective to bear on conversations about the common good’
    Wed Sep 23, 2020 – 4:18 pm EST
    https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/usatty-general-barr-militant-secularists-co-opted-separation-of-church-and-state-to-attack-religious-freedom

    WASHINGTON D.C., September 23, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — U.S. Attorney General William Barr said today that “no concept is more misunderstood than the notion of separation of church and state,” and explained that “militant secularists” have long seized on that slogan “as they drive religion from the public square.” Yet, Americans must know that “‘separation of church and state’ does not mean, and never did mean, separation of religion and civics,” he said.

    Catholic teaching: Distinction, not separation
    The Catholic Church teaches that there is a distinction between church and state, but not a total separation. Pope Pius IX called it an error in his 1864 Syllabus of Errors to hold that The “Church ought to be separated from the State, and the State from the Church.” Pope Pius X touched on this teaching in his 1907 encyclical to the Church in France titled Une Fois Encore (Once again). Here the Pope addressed the faithful who were experiencing persecution, letting them know that the Church demands of the state “respect for its hierarchy and inviolability of its property and liberty.”

    Dr. Taylor Marshall explained in a 2015 video that, properly understood, there is a “distinction” between church and state, where each governs according to its particular competence, but not a strict separation, where one has nothing to do with the other.

    Christendom College co-founder Dr. Jeffrey Mirus wrote in a 2018 article about the proper relationship between church and state:

    The Catholic position has always been what Pope Gelasius described in the late fifth century as the doctrine of “the two swords”. The State (the temporal order) is a natural society over which government presides with a natural authority, exercising that authority for the common good of the community it rules. This is the “temporal sword”. The Church, on the other hand, is a supernatural society which presides with a supernatural authority over souls, exercising that authority for the spiritual welfare of the community, both as a contribution to the common good and so that all its members may attain their final end, which is eternal life with God. This is the “spiritual sword.”

    It follows that the Church is our authority for defining moral truth (which is inscribed in natural reality by the Creator) and also the truth which God discloses to us solely through Revelation. To expound these truths is the purpose of what we call “Christian doctrine”. It also follows that the State is our authority for devising and implementing the measures necessary to enforce the moral law most effectively for the good of the commonwealth, as well as the many other measures which will be needed to secure and advance the common good of all under its jurisdiction.

    The Secrets of Leonard Leo, the Man Behind Trump’s Supreme Court Pick
    https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-secrets-of-leonard-leo-the-man-behind-trumps-supreme-court-pick?ref=scroll

    Updated Jul. 24, 2018 3:35PM ET Published Jul. 09, 2018 5:16AM ET

    When President Donald Trump nominates a justice to the Supreme Court on Monday night, he will be carrying out the agenda of a small, secretive network of extremely conservative Catholic activists already responsible for placing three justices (Alito, Roberts, and Gorsuch) on the high court.

    And yet few people know who they are—until now.

    At the center of the network is Leonard Leo of the Federalist Society, the association of legal professionals that has been the pipeline for nearly all of Trump’s judicial nominees. (Leo is on leave from the Federalist Society to personally assist Trump in picking a replacement for Justice Anthony Kennedy.) His formal title is executive vice president, but that role belies Leo’s influence.

    Leo is a member of the secretive, extremely conservative Knights of Malta, a Catholic order founded in the 12th century that functions as a quasi-independent sovereign nation with its own diplomatic corps (separate from the Vatican), United Nations status, and a tremendous amount of money and land.

    The Knights, which recently have tussled with Pope Francis and resisted his calls for reform, take their own set of vows, as monks do. On the surface, the primary work of the order is humanitarian work around the globe, but it is also home to noted Catholic conservatives including Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, a frequent foe of the reformist pope.

    Three Justices and Counting

    Leo played the decisive role in the appointments of Justice Alito (whom few people had heard of before Leo first promoted him), Chief Justice Roberts, and Justice Gorsuch—as well as in the unprecedented stonewalling of would-be Justice Merrick Garland.

    Now, of the 25 people on Trump’s Supreme Court list, all but one are Federalist Society members or affiliates. Justice Gorsuch was the speaker at the 2017 Federalist Society gala. And when Gorsuch was asked how he had come to Trump’s attention, he told Congress, “On about December 2, 2016, I was contacted by Leonard Leo” (PDF).

    Sait Serkan Gurbuz/AP
    And of the 18 people Trump has nominated to federal appeals courts, 17 are Federalist Society members or affiliates.

    These include appellate court Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a leading Supreme Court contender and member of a far-right Catholic sect called the People of Praise that makes use of actual “handmaids” (now called “women leaders”);

    America is the Holy Roman Empire of the 21st century

    https://theweek.com/articles/939193/america-holy-roman-empire-21st-century

    Ryan Cooper
    President Trump.
    Illustrated | Wikimedia Commons, Getty Images
    September 24, 2020
    Germany is today a first-rank power: rich, strong, and efficiently governed. But just over 200 years ago, most of its current territory was a shambolic mess — part of the Holy Roman Empire, which even at the time was recognized as an anachronistic political fossil. More than a thousand years old at that point, the empire was a patchwork of hundreds of different duchies, electorates, principalities, kingdoms, church lands, and so forth, some of them just a few dozen acres (Liechtenstein is one of these relics which still survives), with an exceptionally complicated and illogical tangle of legal institutions overlaying them all. Surpassed by history, the confederation was ripe for the picking by an opportunistic tyrant.

    The United States today bears an uncomfortable similarity to that doomed empire. The American Constitution is the oldest in the world still operating, and has been obviously out of date for well over a century. Half the basic mechanics of government are either malfunctioning kludges or a gross betrayal of its own founding principles. Countries that fail to maintain themselves to this degree often do not survive.

    Vatican

    286. Public authorities have the duty to ensure that, for reasons of economic productivity, citizens are not denied time for rest and divine worship. Employers have an analogous obligation regarding their employees.[616] Christians, in respect of religious freedom and of the COMMON GOOD of all, should seek to have Sundays and the Church’s Holy Days recognized as legal holidays. “They have to give everyone a public example of prayer, respect and joy, and defend their traditions as a precious contribution to the spiritual life of society”.[617] “Every Christian should avoid making unnecessary demands on others that would hinder them from observing the Lord’s Day”.[618]

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html#Rest%20from%20work

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