Reader’s Links for February 7, 2021

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

97 Replies to “Reader’s Links for February 7, 2021”

  1. ‘See Something, Say Something Online Act’ Punishes Big Tech for Not Snitching
    Plus: Oregon decriminalizes hard drugs, Kroger closes stores over hazard pay rule, and more…

    A new bill revitalizes the war on terror’s favorite slogan in service of forcing tech companies to turn over more user data to the government. The “See Something, Say Something Online Act,” introduced by Sen. Joe Manchin (D–W.Va.) and co-sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn (R–Texas), is the latest attack on the federal communications law known as Section 230 as well as freedom of speech and online privacy.

    The legislation says any interactive computer service provider—that means social media giants, small blogs, podcast hosting services, app stores, consumer review platforms, independent political forums, crowdfunding and Patreon-style sites, dating apps, newsletter services, and much more—will lose Section 230 protections if they fail to report any known user activity that might be deemed “suspicious.”

    “Suspicious” content is defined as any post, private message, comment, tag, transaction, or “any other user-generated content or transmission” that government officials later determine “commits, facilitates, incites, promotes, or otherwise assists the commission of a major crime.” Major crimes are defined as anything involving violence, domestic, or international terrorism, or a “serious drug offense.”

  2. SF Board of Ed. VP goes there, claims meritocracy is racist – Liberty Unyielding
    LU Staff
    3-4 minutes

    SF Board of Ed. VP goes there, claims meritocracy is racist

    Alison Collins (Image: YouTube screen grab)

    For years the Left and Right have been locked in a tug-of-war over how best to ensure the equality promised in the Declaration of Independence. Recently, the entire argument took a turn for the absurd when liberals decided to junk the term equality in favor of equity, maintaining that equality of opportunity wasn’t enough — that truly leveling the playing field requires equality of outcome.

    And what becomes of meritocracy — of rewarding individuals on the basis of ability and achievement — under this world view?

  3. GOP reps introduce bill named for Ilhan Omar, whose campaign paid millions to hubby’s firm – Liberty Unyielding
    Daily Caller News Foundation
    3-4 minutes

    GOP reps introduce bill named for Ilhan Omar, whose campaign paid millions to hubby’s firm

    Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Image: YouTube screen grab)

    By Chuck Ross

    Two House Republicans introduced a bill Friday to prevent members of Congress from using campaign funds to pay their spouses, a measure they named after Rep. Ilhan Omar.

    Wisconsin Reps. Tom Tiffany and Mike Gallagher introduced the Oversight for Members And Relatives Act, or the OMAR Act, in response to reports that Omar’s campaign paid $2.8 million to a consulting firm owned by her husband, a political consultant named Tim Mynett.

    The payments accounted for 70% of the Minnesota Democrat’s campaign spending, according to Fox News report that the Republicans cited.

  4. (Richard: We all know how Trump would have reacted, the question is what will Biden do?)

    Al-Shabab Releases Video Of Attack On U.S. Base In Kenya, Vows To Continue Attacks On U.S. Targets
    January 31, 2021

    The following report is now a complimentary offering from MEMRI’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.

    On January 29, 2021, Al-Qaeda’s Somali affiliate Al-Shabab Al-Mujahideen released a new video documenting the preparations for the raid it conducted on the U.S. military base at Camp Simba near Manda Bay, Kenya on January 5, 2020 in which three Americans were killed and several aircraft destroyed.[1] The 55-minute video was produced by the group’s Al-Kata’ib media wing and distributed by the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF) on its Rocket.Chat platform and on Telegram. The video features never-before-seen footage of a meeting between Al-Shabab leader Abu Ubaydah Ahmad Omar and the attackers; training and preparations for the raid; final messages from the attackers; and drone footage of the raid in progress. The video is interspersed with archival audio clips from Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri and past leaders Osama bin Laden, Anwar Al-‘Awlaki, Abu Mus’ab Abd Al-Wudoud, and others. It stresses that the Manda Bay raid was perpetrated as part of Al-Qaeda’s “Jerusalem Will Never Be Judaized” campaign which was launched in response to the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.[2]

  5. From vlads main page post on Feb 5:

    “2. MANY people on this site have observed and predicted that at some point they will have to drop the Chinese Virus as a pretence for insane and counter-Western policies, and move back to Global Warming, which has even less evidence suggesting its true than the justification for Covid policies in the face of the success of Sweden, Florida, South Dakota and all on the list published the other day, most of which never locked down at all.

    The only question on the table was, ‘What kind of intellectual sleight of hand would be used to pivot back to global warming from the Wuhan Flu/Covid19 to keep punative and neoMarxist policies in place? ”

    The bible says the USA will be an image of the beast (rome). USA already has the image of rome in its architecture (Egyptian obelisk, capitol building/st peters basicala, etc) Usa is only missing the law of the holy roman empire. Well, how will usa ever lose its freedom of speech and freedom of religion, to become this image?

    I think we have already seen that the FBI has now put focus on what Biden calls domestic terrorists after the capitol hill protest. Qanon is now on the terror watch list for usa. Well here is an “intellectual sleight of hand [that is being] used to pivot ” from trump supportors and right wing people as terrorists, to now bible believing christians in the usa also.

    How a New Religion Could Rise From the Ashes of QAnon

    (In addition to being a historic event, one might be forgiven for thinking that the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris would sound the death knell of QAnon conspiracy theories. Now that Biden is actually president and QAnon predictions about Trump’s continuing hold on power have failed to come to fruition it would seem logical that they would pack up shop and admit that they were wrong. But if history has taught us anything it is that failed prophecies and frustrated predictions don’t always mark the beginning of the end for radical social movements.

    In the early 19th century, New York farmer and Baptist preacher William Miller preached that the return of Jesus Christ was imminent. His prophecy was based largely on his study of the biblical book of Daniel. His interpretation led him to conclude, initially at least, that Christ would return sometime between March 1843 and 1844. When March 1844 passed without the appearance of Christ and his angels in the sky, Miller picked another date —April 18, 1844—which also slid by without cosmic incident or divine intervention. A follower of Miller’s, Samuel Snow, proposed a third date in October, but the Day of Judgment had still not arrived. The Millerites were understandably disillusioned. One member, Henry Emmons, wrote that he had to be helped to his bedroom, where he lay “sick with disappointment.”

    You would think that three false prophecies, collectively known as the Great Disappointment, would be the end of the Millerites. To be sure, some members did leave to join the Shakers, but others began to reinterpret the prophecies about the end of days. One group began to argue that they were only partly wrong. The prophecies weren’t about the Second Coming and end of the world but, rather, about the cleansing of a heavenly sanctuary. It wasn’t an earthly event, it was a heavenly one, and this explained why, to us mere humans, it might appear that nothing had happened. It was out of this group that the Seventh Day Adventist Church arose. Today the Seventh Day Adventist Church has between 20-25 million members. They are, according to Christianity Today, “the fifth largest Christian communion worldwide.” )

    –7th Day Adventists believe the bible is true. The prophecies in it have always came true. Now what major player in the world has a major issue with people believing the bible? Does this major player in world affairs have a history of how they treat people who owned a bible and who believed it? Did this major player support freedom of religion ever in its history?

    How the Christian Right Helped Foment Insurrection

    Christian-right activists inside and outside of government promoted the election fraud lie and claimed God told them to “let the church roar”

    Christian nationalism is a threat, and not just from Capitol attackers invoking Jesus

    I do not wish to emulate QAnon enthusiasts in projecting a deep-state conspiracy, but there are Christian nationalists embedded throughout our governing institutions — courts, military, legislatures, agencies, police. Many are regular figures at the Capitol and in the halls of power. Distracted by those ready to bring on the apocalypse, we have not adequately exposed this more resilient threat to religious pluralism in the United States.

    Cambridge Dictionary- fundamentalist – someone who believes in traditional forms of a religion, or believes that what is written in a holy book, such as the Christian Bible, is completely true.

    Fundamentalism: An Enemy of the Common Good
    November-December 2016
    (Catholic Health Association of the United States)

    Pope Francis said, “Fundamentalism is a sickness that is in all religions … Religious fundamentalism is not religious,…

    Fundamentalist movements are most active and culturally apparent whenever there are periods in which radical political, social or economic changes cause cultural trauma in a nation as a whole or in smaller institutions or communities.4 These changes threaten to devastate treasured personal and cultural identities and respected moral values. Feelings of bewilderment and frustration result. People then search for quick explanations of what is happening and ways out of their overwhelming confusion. The atmosphere is ready for the unsophisticated solutions offered by fundamentalist populist and often demagogic leaders.

    For most people, fundamentalism in the modern world has become synonymous with a radical form of Islam. Islamic fundamentalism has replaced communism as the specter plaguing Western minds. It is a menace that looms ever larger following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington D.C.5 and the more recent terrorist assaults in London, Paris, Brussels, Orlando, Istanbul, Baghdad, Dhaka, Nice and Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray and the ostensible inability of the Western nations to destroy the clandestine and brutal al-Qaeda network and the Islamic State (ISIS). In the Middle East, Islamic extremists are killing fellow Muslims and persecuting, even murdering, Christians and other minorities.

    Gordon Self quote

    The West, however, has yet to understand that a military response may give temporary answers to terrorism, but, in the long term, it is most likely to increase religious rage and extremism. We first need to understand the multifaceted political, economic and social causes of Islamic fundamentalism.

    Because of the violent nature of their actions, Islamic fundamentalist movements have received an undue amount of media attention in recent times. However, fundamentalism in multiple different expressions is very much present in our Western societies, though most often less visibly and physically violent. There are fundamentalist economic, political, nationalistic, religious movements aplenty in the West. Right-wing, populist, anti-immigrant movements are on the rise in Europe, the United States, Australia and elsewhere, and the Western world has significantly contributed to the tragic development of Islamic fundamentalism.

    True Bible-Believers Denounced at Papal Conference

    St. Peter’s Basilica–Vatican City, October 28, 1999

    Angry at Christian Bible-believers and others who refuse to acknowledge his spiritual leadership, Pope John Paul II and Vatican cronies have called for an all-out war.

    As reported in the Associated Press, with the Tibetan god-man, the Dalai Lama, sitting at his right side, this October in Rome the Pope presided at a special council of some 200 religious leaders of various faiths, sects, and cults.

    Pope John Paul II

    The Pontiff told the assembled Buddhist monks, Zoroastrian priests, Catholic cardinals, Hindu gurus, American Indian shamen, Jewish rabbis, and ecumenical clergy that all must join in condemning the Christian fundamentalists who “abuse speech” and whose efforts at converting others “incite hatred and violence.”

    The Pope further directed that the religious leaders promote “tolerance,” mutual understanding, and respect for all religions and faiths, not just their own.

    Newspaper sources called the meeting “remarkable,” noting incredible scenes ranging from a ritual in which an American Indian blessed the four corners of the earth from the heart of Rome, to a Moslem Mufti and his followers kneeling toward Mecca and praying.

    All present were in accord on two key points: (1) Pope John Paul II was endorsed by consensus as the planet’s chief spiritual guide and overseer; and (2) Religious fundamentalists who refuse to go along with the global ecumenical movement are to be silenced. They must also be denounced as “dangerous extremists” full of hate.

    How Joe Biden’s Faith Shapes His Politics

    The former vice president launched his candidacy by referring to his campaign as a “battle for the soul of the nation.” It was the central theme of his primary run, and remains a core tenet of his campaign. If elected, Biden would become only the second Catholic president in American history. It’s not a detail he highlights, but people who know him well say his Catholic faith is central to how he sees the world.

    And when he delivered a eulogy for George Floyd and called for racial justice, he spoke of growing up with a Catholic social doctrine that taught him “faith without works is dead.”

    It looks like another inquisition is on its way to begin.

    • The West, however, has yet to understand that a military response may give temporary answers to terrorism, but, in the long term, it is most likely to increase religious rage and extremism. We first need to understand the multifaceted political, economic and social causes of Islamic fundamentalism.

      FIRST we neutralize the threat.
      By Any Means Necessary.
      In the long term, we’re all dead anyway.

      It’s ISLAM that requires murder of unbelievers. It’s right there in their holy book.
      CHRISTIANITY goes by a different Book. There’s an entirely different set of instructions.

      • Yup, I agree with ya, except dont need to kill anyone. What you quoted was from the Catholic site I referenced, No christianity there, just paganism.

        • Neutralizing the threat has lots of options:

          – Communicating directly to the people – the sea in which the fish swims – to motivate them to police their own.

          – Blowing up the enemy’s missile production facilities in the dead of night, when nobody’s there.

          – Jamming the targeting mechanisms of incoming drones, so they fall into the sea.

          – Developing a layered missile defense system, like Iron Dome and David’s Sling.

  6. Pope Francis, the Chaplain of the United Nations?

    With the recent projects, Pope Francis is making it plain what it means for the Roman Catholic Church to be a “sacrament” in the world in the realms of global politics, education and economy, i.e. uniting the whole of humanity around itself.

    Evangelical Focus
    07 FEBRUARY 2021
    Evangelical Focus

    Vatican Files
    Pope Francis, the Chaplain of the United Nations?
    With the recent projects, Pope Francis is making it plain what it means for the Roman Catholic Church to be a “sacrament” in the world in the realms of global politics, education and economy, i.e. uniting the whole of humanity around itself.
    01 FEBRUARY 2021 · 16:34 CET

    St. Peter’s Dome in Vatican City. / Gabriella Clare Marino, Unsplash CC0.,St. Peter’s Dome in Vatican City. / Gabriella Clare Marino, Unsplash CC0.
    The pandemic hit hard in 2020. Disruption broke in at all levels. The Vatican, as the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, was no exception. Programs in Rome were canceled or held in a low-key form. Was it then a stand-by or – even worse – a wasted year? Not at all.

    2020 was a year of intense activity behind the scenes, especially in the area of expanding the borders of Rome’s “catholicity”. The catholicity of Roman Catholicism is one of the two pillars of the whole system: while it is “Roman” – i.e. centered on Rome’s hierarchical institution, focused on Rome’s catechism and canon law, based on its sacramental machinery– it is also “Catholic” – i.e. ever-expanding its synthesis, assimilating trends and movements, aiming at becoming more fully universal through absorbing the world. Outside of the spotlight of media attention, it was the catholicity of Rome that gained a great deal from the COVID year.

    While its ordinary events were negatively impacted, the long-term, “catholic” vision of the Roman Church was fueled with impressive consequences. Pope Francis was the architect and proactive director of all these moves. In observing the recent global activities of the pope, the Argentinian philosopher Rubén Peretó Rivas compared them with those of an international organization and asked whether Pope Francis aims at becoming the “Chaplain of the United Nations”. His 2020 “universal” initiatives indeed look like those of the United Nations in language, scope and content. Three projects deserve to be mentioned in this respect.

  7. Pope Francis, the Chaplain of the United Nations?
    07 FEBRUARY 2021

    With the recent projects, Pope Francis is making it plain what it means for the Roman Catholic Church to be a “sacrament” in the world in the realms of global politics, education and economy, i.e. uniting the whole of humanity around itself.

    2020 was a year of intense activity behind the scenes, especially in the area of expanding the borders of Rome’s “catholicity”. The catholicity of Roman Catholicism is one of the two pillars of the whole system: while it is “Roman” – i.e. centered on Rome’s hierarchical institution, focused on Rome’s catechism and canon law, based on its sacramental machinery– it is also “Catholic” – i.e. ever-expanding its synthesis, assimilating trends and movements, aiming at becoming more fully universal through absorbing the world. Outside of the spotlight of media attention, it was the catholicity of Rome that gained a great deal from the COVID year.

    While its ordinary events were negatively impacted, the long-term, “catholic” vision of the Roman Church was fueled with impressive consequences. Pope Francis was the architect and proactive director of all these moves. In observing the recent global activities of the pope, the Argentinian philosopher Rubén Peretó Rivas compared them with those of an international organization and asked whether Pope Francis aims at becoming the “Chaplain of the United Nations”. His 2020 “universal” initiatives indeed look like those of the United Nations in language, scope and content. Three projects deserve to be mentioned in this respect.

  8. Supreme Court to Consider 2020 Election Challenge Lawsuits in February Conference
    By Tom Ozimek
    February 6, 2021 Updated: February 6, 2021
    biggersmaller Print

    The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday scheduled several high-profile contest-of-election lawsuits, including ones brought by attorneys Sidney Powell and Lin Wood, and the Trump campaign, for consideration at its Feb. 19 conference.

    According to a case listing, the lawsuits include Sidney Powell’s Michigan case (20-815), the Trump campaign’s Pennsylvania lawsuit (20-845) and Wisconsin lawsuit (20-882), the Pennsylvania lawsuit brought by Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) (20-810), and Lin Wood’s Georgia case (20-799).

    All cases allege some form of unlawful election-related conduct affecting the result of the election, including expansion of mail-in balloting by elections officials changing rules in contravention of state election laws, lack of adequate security measures around mail ballots, issues with machine vote tabulation, and denial of meaningful access to poll watchers.

    The Supreme Court declined to grant relief or fast-track the cases as requested in respective petitions filed ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration of President Joe Biden.

  9. Twitter Permanently Suspends ‘The Gateway Pundit’ Account
    By Janita Kan
    February 7, 2021 Updated: February 7, 2021
    biggersmaller Print

    Twitter has permanently suspended The Gateway Pundit’s account over what it says are “repeated violations” of the platform’s rules.

    The social media giant said the account, run by conservative Jim Hoft, was suspended for repeated violations of its “civic integrity policy,” according to a statement viewed by media outlets. The Epoch Times has reached out to Twitter to seek confirmation. The policy states that users may not use the platform “for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes.”

    As of Saturday, the @gatewaypundit handle was no longer available. Prior to the suspension, the account had at least 375,000 followers.

    In an article on The Gateway Pundit website, Hoft argued that the suspension came hours after his website posted on Twitter an update regarding an ongoing investigation of election day at the Detroit TCF Center, which was the subject of a number of allegations about election irregularities.


    Canadian banks should have to disclose data related to race, gender, income and neighbourhoods to ensure more equitable access to credit and loans, say organizations representing racialized and Indigenous business owners who want Ottawa to step in.

    Nadine Spencer, president of Black Business and Professional Association, says Black business owners grapple with microaggressions, unconscious bias and discrimination in banking, and both tracking and releasing this data would help hold banks accountable.


    This article ran in the paper again Feb 4 very similar.

    The town hall was to help employers and employees understand their rights when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, with questions such as “Can an employer require an employee to get vaccinated?” or “Can businesses prevent non-vaccinated guests from entering their premises?”

    While it’s a personal choice whether or not to take the vaccine, Reyes said “the vaccine is not only to help you, but to help the people around the individual.”

  12. Arab Coalition Destroys 4 Drones Launched by Houthis

    “The Coalition to Fight Legitimacy in Yemen said on Sunday it had intercepted and destroyed four armed drones launched by the Iran-backed Houthi militias towards southern Saudi Arabia.

    A bomb-laden unmanned aerial vehicle was intercepted early on Sunday, Coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki said in a statement on Saudi state media.

    Coalition forces later intercepted three drones, also launched towards southern Saudi Arabia with the aim of targeting “civilians and civilian objects”, Malki said in follow up statements which put the total at four.”

  13. Radioactive Material at Iranian Site Raises Doubts about Tehran’s Nuclear Intentions

    “Diplomats revealed that inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency found traces of radioactive materials in samples taken from a site in Iran, which raised further doubts about the nature of the Iranian nuclear program.

    These reports coincided with a meeting that gathered US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and their German counterpart, Heiko Maas, amid the West’s welcome of US President Joe Biden’s desire to return to the nuclear agreement and assume a leadership role on the international scene.

    The US State Department issued a brief statement about the ministers’ video conference, noting that it touched on the topics of Iran, China, Russia, Myanmar, climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic.

    State Department spokesman Ned Price said that the ministers emphasized the centrality of the transatlantic relationship in dealing with security, climate, economic, health and other challenges facing the world.

    Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal quoted several diplomats as saying that the sites, where radioactive materials were found in Iran, increased suspicions, especially since the Iranian authorities had prevented international inspectors from accessing those sites for several months last year.

    Although the inspectors’ report did not clarify whether the suspected weapons development was recent, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Western intelligence agencies believe that Iran had a secret nuclear weapons program until 2003, although Tehran denies any attempt to obtain such weapons.

    Iranian authorities allowed inspectors to visit two suspected sites last fall. Director-General of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, said at the time that the analysis of the samples would take months.

    Meanwhile, US officials hinted that the Biden administration was studying ways to alleviate the financial burdens on Iran without lifting the economic sanctions imposed by its predecessor, seen as a step towards reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.

    Some options include supporting the granting of a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to ease the repercussions resulting from the outbreak of the coronavirus and easing the sanctions that prevented international aid for the virus from reaching the country.”

  14. Muslims and migrants in Spain: How fake news is keeping minorities sidelined

    “As a group of young Arab men sail across the Mediterranean Sea in search of a new life in Spain, they bring with them a clear message to their new hosts.

    “We are going to cut the throats of all the unfaithful Spaniards who do not praise [Prophet] Muhammad,” they seemingly chant as they approach Spanish shores, one of them wielding a small knife.

    A video depicting the young Arab migrants at sea recently surfaced online and quickly spread among Spanish Facebook, Twitter, Telegram and WhatsApp users.

    “He looks very threatening with that knife. This is scary and our politicians are just happy to let them in,” one user comments.

    “What a disgrace. Can you imagine that later the guy with the knife is one of those who slaughters Christians in a church? We put them up in hotels with full board and if you speak out you’re a fascist or a racist,” another says.

    However, as it soon turned out, the representation of the video’s content was fake.

    In reality, the video was repurposed and accompanied by an erroneous Arabic translation in order to be peddled online as a tool of hate.

    A little research and deft use of a song-identifying app have shown that the young men in the video were in fact singing along to the Algerian hit song Bye Bye Salam.

    The video is one of many recent items of fake news that have spread in Spain with the aim of attacking immigrants, predominantly Arabs and Muslims. Among them are false claims, including of 500 boats carrying migrants destined for Spain, mosques breaking social distancing rules to hold prayers, Muslim communities forcibly removing pork from school menus, and illegal Arab immigrants benefiting from the national welfare system.

    “Lies about migration try to reinforce four main ideas about immigrants and Muslims: that they’re dangerous; that they have privileges when it comes to receiving welfare; that they are going to impose their culture; and that the institutions are going to allow it,” says Natalia Diez, journalist and migration fact-checker at Maldita Migracion.

    Fake news
    The spread of fake news has coincided with a large rise in immigration. In 2019, Spain saw a record 748,759 immigrants enter the country. Colombians, Moroccans and Venezuelans made up the three largest immigrant nationalities.

    “Fake news about Muslims in Spain is constant and is closely linked to fake news about migration. When it comes to fake news about Islam, the most common themes are those linking Muslims to benefits, violence and terrorism,” Diez explains.

    “Through disinformation, the foreignisation of Muslims in Spain is reinforced, since most of the fake news about Muslims links them directly with immigration.

    “These lies have the clear objective of changing a large part of society’s perception of these groups, and they reinforce false arguments that people end up believing.”

    In recent years, the surge of fake news has become an increasing concern across the globe, and Spain is no exception.

    The independent fact-checking organisation Maldita was founded in 2017 in order to combat the rise in misinformation and debunk viral fake news. One of its busiest branches is Diez’s migration department.

    From 2017 to 2020, Maldita Migracion identified 321 items of fake news related to migration and religion. Of those, 168 were based solely on migration, 129 were linked directly to religion, and 70 percent of the latter exclusively targeted Islam, according to the Disinformation, Religious Minorities and Hate Speech report published last year.

    The number of debunked fake news stories relating to religious minorities has increased consistently, rising from 25 percent in 2017 to 29 percent in 2018 and surging to 45 percent in 2019.

    “We have seen that fake news towards the Muslim community has a massive pull. It spreads more than any other type,” says Monica Carrion, director of educational projects and analysis coordinator at the Observatory of Islamophobia in the Media.

    “Bad media coverage affects the entire Muslim community, be it national or of foreign origin. The whole community is harmed by this bad coverage.

    “Not only are there attacks online and in the media, but these attacks also translate into physical attacks against the community. That is where the problem lies, which is that Islamophobia endangers social coexistence.”

    Between 2017 and 2019, immigration had become an increasing problem for the Spanish population, before stabilising over the course of 2020, according to public institute the Centre for Sociological Investigations (CIS).

    CIS polling found that the perception of immigration as one of the three main concerns among Spaniards had increased from 3.8 percent in January 2017 to peak at 15.6 percent in September 2019, before dropping to 1.6 percent in June 2020.

    Islamophobia on the rise
    Spain has seen an increase of Islamophobic hate in recent years, which many attribute to 2017 terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils that killed 16 people. The interior ministry revealed that cases of Islamophobic hate in Spain had risen by 120 percent between 2017 and 2019, citing 103 instances.

    However, the ministry has been criticised for a perceived lack of commitment to tackling Islamophobia. Upon launching its action plan to fight hate crimes in 2018, the ministry opted not to categorise Islamophobia as a specific hate crime, with the Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska deeming it “unnecessary”.

    Data on Islamophobic hate varies, as government bodies and independent NGOs often produce differing results. The independent organisation Citizen Platform against Islamophobia (PCI) recorded 546 cases of Islamophobia in 2017, more than five times the cases the government reported.

    “The size of the problem is not accurately reflected in the data because they don’t usually differentiate between Islamophobia, xenophobia and racism. It’s a way for the state to make the limited data they do have invisible,” says Spanish-Egyptian activist Aurora Ali, a member of the Muslim Association for Human Rights.

    Despite the PCI’s report being released four years ago, its findings still formed the basis of the government’s 2020 Report on Muslim Discrimination.

    Houda Mahdi is one of the two million Muslims who call Spain home, having lived in the country for 13 years. She recalls that ever since she moved to Spain she has been subject to abuse based on her religion.

    “I have encountered Islamophobia in many day-to-day scenarios and in all areas: in the workplace, in my academic life or even taking public transport,” she says.

    According to the government’s Observatory for Racism and Xenophobia, 87 percent of Muslims have been discriminated against while finding housing and 83 percent when finding work in Spain.

    “Over the course of the years, it’s been getting worse. It happens more and more and Islamophobia is becoming more normalised and tolerated,” Mahdi says.

    “In Spain today it is increasing in a very, very rapid way thanks to all the people who support it or simply don’t stand up to it.”

    A government report on hate crimes revealed that Moroccans are the most targeted demographic, enduring 7.8 percent of all hate crimes among foreigners in Spain. Moroccans are also six times more likely to be stopped by the police than a white Spaniard, according to municipal police identification protocols.

    However, not all Muslims in Spain can relate to Mahdi’s experience.

    Hamza (not his real name) owns a small fruit shop on the outskirts of Madrid and has been living in Spain for 16 years after he moved from Morocco.

    “Luckily I have not had any experience with Islamophobia, but maybe that’s because I tried so hard to fit in,” he says, as he weighs a bunch of bananas for a customer.

    Politically disenfranchised
    In 1992, the Spanish state struck an agreement with the country’s Muslim community in order to guarantee the equal integration and representation of the community within Spanish society.

    Over 25 years later, however, the Muslim community has failed to receive many of the basic rights that the agreement was intended to ensure.

    To date, 90 percent of Muslim students lack religious studies education and 90 percent of Islamic studies teachers are unemployed, contrary to many fake news stories claiming schools were being forced to teach Islamic studies. Additionally, 95 percent of the Muslim communities in Spain still do not have access to a Muslim cemetery and 12 percent have no mosque.

    Last week, the far-right party Vox saw its Twitter account blocked for “inciting hate” against Muslims after launching an online campaign under the hashtag #StopIslamisation.

    When asked whether she believes Spain’s Muslim community is politically integrated, activist Aurora Ali has a clear opinion.

    “No, no, not at all,” she says, over the phone. “Many Muslims don’t even have the right to vote. The left was our only hope, but they have been treating us poorly over the last years. What the Socialist Party and [its left-wing coalition partner] Unidas Podemos have done is deny our Muslim nature.”

    For progress to be made, Ali believes a representative foundation for the community to build on must be established.

    “Change has to come from within national institutions and the existing legislation. If we had legal and legislative backing, all this would probably not be happening to us,” she says.

    “But currently anything goes against us because we do not have legal protection.””

  15. New York Times: UAE hired NSA hackers to spy on Qatar

    “The United Arab Emirates (UAE) established an electronic spy network that included “former members of the US National Security Agency, with the aim of spying on Qatar”, The New York Times reported.

    The US daily said the aim of the hacking network was to prove Qatar’s terrorism financing allegations and Qatar’s funding to the Muslim Brotherhood group.

    According to the newspaper, the Abu Dhabi government offered high salaries to members of the spy network, often double or even quadruple their previous salaries.

    “We were misled by double financial offers under the cover of working for an allied government of Washington,” a former member of the network told The New York Times.

    The UAE has yet to comment on the report.

    On January 5, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt signed a reconciliation deal with Qatar to heal a long-running rift, which started in 2017 after the Saudi-led coalition accused Doha of supporting terrorist groups, an accusation vehemently denied by Qatar.

    Among other claims of hacking Qatari interests, in December 2020, it was revealed that a spyware created by an Israeli company was reportedly used by Saudi Arabia and the UAE to hack into the phones and devices of dozens of journalists working for Qatari news outlet Al Jazeera. The hacking attack against Al Jazeera’s journalists was uncovered when its well-known investigative journalist Tamer Almisshal sought Citizen Lab’s help after he grew suspicious that his phone had been hacked.”

  16. Kidney trade ‘booming’ in Afghanistan as organ traffickers lure the poor

    “Afghanistan has a serious problem with illegal kidney trade as the country bows under the weight of a decimated healthcare service brought on by war and famine, The New York Times reported on Saturday.

    Officials at Loqman Hakim Hospital say the hospital has performed more than 1,000 kidney transplants in five years, with people coming in from across Afghanistan as the procedures are, in comparison to the rest of the world, a fraction of the cost, the report said.

    The problem, the report went on to say, is that organ acquisition is not regulated, and doctors performing kidney transplants do not know where the organs come from.

    The hospital is in charge of transplant and initial recovery of the patients – both the donor and the receiver of the organ – “without asking questions”.

    After several days the patients are sent home.

    “It’s not our business,” said Dr. Farid Ahmad Ejaz, a hospital physician told the Times when asked about people selling their kidneys for cash.

    “In Afghanistan everything has a value, except human life,” said Dr. Mahdi Hadid, a member of Herat’s provincial council.

    Like most countries across the world, the sale and purchase of organs is illegal in Afghanistan, as is the implanting of purchased organs by physicians.

    Prices for kidneys on the black market vary wildly. A 36-year-old imam and kidney recipient from Kabul, Gulabuddin, said he had paid $3,500 for his kidney, purchased from a “complete stranger” with a commission of $80 to the broker.

    The price of a kidney can be higher, reaching up to $4,500.

    “Unfortunately, this is common in poor countries,” said Dr. Abdul Hakim Tamanna, Herat Province’s public health director.

    “There’s a lack of rule of law, and a lack of regulation surrounding this process.”


    The country is suffering under the weight of poverty, which was expected to reach over 70% in 2020, according to the World Bank.

    The country relies on foreign aid, and funding for healthcare remains low.

    First-hand accounts from people who have sold a kidney speak of abject poverty, debt and desperation as drivers for the sale.

    One man revealed he sold a kidney to pay off debt.

    “It was difficult, but I had no choice. Nobody wants to give up a part of his body to someone else,” he said. “It was very shameful for me.””

  17. Turkey: Gang arrested for kidnapping Qatari businessman, demanding $400,000 ransom

    “A Turkish newspaper revealed the details of the kidnapping of a Qatari businessman and his friend from the Iskenderun district in the Turkish province of Hatay, before the police rescued them and arrested the gang that demanded a large ransom.

    According to a report by the Haber Turk news site, the Turkish gang demanded a ransom of $400,000 from the family of the Qatari businessman, who was kidnapped on February 1, and had already received half the amount, and also threatened to transfer him to Syria if the rest of the ransom was not paid by the end of February…”

  18. Moroccans, Leading Recipients of Schengen Visas in France

    “Moroccan citizens were the number one recipients of Schengen Zone visas from French consulates in 2020, according to data released by the French Interior Ministry.

    Out of the approximately 700,000 visas issued by French consulates last year, the largest recipients were Moroccans, with 98,627 Schengen visas issued. Followed by Russians who received 78,701 Schengen visas, and in third place came Algerians with 73,276 visas.

    Compared to 2019, 2020 saw a substantial drop in the number of visas issued by French consulates, from 3,5 million to 700,000. The sharp decrease, 82%, was largely due to travel restrictions EU countries adopted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic…”

  19. TTP oversaw reunion of terror groups in Afghanistan: UN

    “Afghanistan continues to serve as a sanctuary for terror groups including the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), according to a recent United Nations report.

    The twenty-seventh report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team states that the TTP was reported to have overseen a reunification of splinter groups in Afghanistan.

    According to the document, this reunion of terror groups was moderated by al Qaeda and was expected to increase the threat to Afghanistan, Pakistan and the region.

    Commenting on the report, Major General (retd) Inamul Haq said controlled terrorism has always been used by the government in Kabul to malign Islamabad’s position and to influence Washington DC’s plan to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan. The TTP, he said, has shifted its base to Afghan territory.

    The report reveals five entities pledged alliance to TTP in July and August, including the Shehryar Mehsud group, Jamaatul-Ahrar, Hizb-ul-Ahrar, the Amjad Farooqi group and the Usman Saifullah group (formerly known as Lashkar-e- Jhangvi).

    According to the document, the reunification of these terror groups in Afghanistan has amplified the strength of TTP and resulted in a sharp increase in attacks in the region. It blames the TTP for more than 100 cross-border attacks between July and October 2020. Additionally, it confirms that Pakistan has made arrests of individuals engaging in terrorism financing and the freezing of the assets of designated individuals and entities.

    Referring to terrorism originating from Afghanistan as an open secret, Major General (retd) Inamul Haq said: “India and Afghanistan have been blaming Pakistan for terrorism. This false narrative has been designed to malign Pakistan’s reputation.”

    He said the UN report only validates Pakistan’s stance that India has consistently aided terrorist activities from Afghan soil. Afghanistan, the defence analyst, said has never been able to control its own territory.

    “When you cannot control your territory, you look for a scapegoat and Pakistan appears to be an easy one.”

    According to Maj-Gen (retd) Inamul Haq, who closely monitors the situation on the western border, Pakistan is frequently linked to terrorist activities primarily to keep it under pressure.

    “The pressure is maintained through groups like the Financial Action Task Force,” he said.

    The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force placed Pakistan on the so-called gray list in 2018, at the request of the Trump administration.

    To avoid sanctions, Pakistan has made significant progress clamping down on terrorism financing and money laundering. Last year, the country’s progress report showed that it had complied with 21 of the 27-point action plan the watchdog gave. India, which happens to be Pakistan’s arch-rival, has been actively lobbying to have the country blacklisted.

    “Casting Pakistan in a bad light works perfectly for Afghanistan and India,” said Maj-Gen (retd) Inamul Haq.

    This narrative that hints at Pakistan’s role in terrorism, he said, allows the west to leverage the situation to their advantage. “The FATF narrative will remain alive as long interest in Afghanistan remains propped.”

    According to a piece published by the Brookings Institution, a Washington DC-based think tank, terrorism has declined in Pakistan.

    The country witnessed 169 terrorism-related deaths in 2020, which represents a significant decline, from the high of over 2,700 deaths in 2013.

    The sharp fall in terror activities in Pakistan, Maj-Gen (retd) Inamul Haq, said was primarily due to the military’s operations and the fencing of the porous Afghan border. “The costly 1,600-mile barrier has improved the security situation in Pakistan.” In 2010, he recalled,

    Pakistan witnessed one terror incident per day.

    On the Afghan government’s role in terrorism, he said: “If terrorism continues, America will have to reevaluate its plan to withdraw from Afghanistan. And its presence, by default, also helps the existing Afghan regime.”

    The new US president, Maj-Gen (retd) Inamul Haq said, is serious and means business. “Biden’s team acknowledges that Pakistan is the only authority that can speak to the Taliban and broker peace in Afghanistan. The road to peace goes from Pakistan.”

    Referring to India’s role in the region, the senior defence expert said: “There are detractors in the process.”

    In November last year, Pakistan gave UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres a dossier accusing India of stoking terrorism on its soil.

    Islamabad presented a trove of evidence, including details of financial transactions worth millions of dollars, documents, and audio clips and information related to contacts between members of India’s intelligence agencies and militants and terrorist groups. India denies the charge sheet.

    Another expert who monitors the situation in the region said Pakistan should abandon its defensive posture.

    “US, UK, India, are all involved in terrorism in the region. But as a strategy, they accuse the victim of the same for two reasons.

    One is to keep us in the defensive mode.

    Second, to stop us from adopting an offensive mode in FATF, in exposing Indian terrorist activities in the region, and keep us in the defensive mode and under the threat of sanctions,” said Dr. Shahida Wizarat, Head of Economics Department, Institute of Business Management.

    The Karachi-based expert who writes on a wide range of issues said India’s financial footprint can be seen all over the place. “India is very much involved in disrupting the situation in Afghanistan because it very well knows that it will receive a good beating if the Taliban regain power.””

  20. Erdo?an blames West for staying hesitant on Islamophobia

    “The Western World is hesitant to take measures against the growing threat of Islamophobia, President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an said on Feb. 6.

    “Attacks on Muslims’ sacred values are being persistently disregarded under the pretext of freedom of thought. Projects like European Islam, French Islam, and Austrian Islam are being used simultaneously to pressure Muslims,” Erdo?an said, addressing a meeting with a delegation of the Union of International Democrats (UID).

    “These projects, introduced under the cover of a fight against extremism, are aimed at cutting off European Muslims’ ties with their homelands and the Islamic ummah,” Erdo?an stated.

    He emphasized that none of the “attacks targeting Turkey are coincidental” and that those who couldn’t subdue Turkey in Libya, Syria, the Aegean, the eastern Mediterranean, and most recently in Nagorno-Karabakh are now working to “sabotage Turkey through asymmetrical methods and baseless allegations and accusations.”

    “This is one of the reasons behind the animosity against Turks and Muslims which has become more visible in Europe with the outbreak of COVID-19. We receive almost on daily basis news of the people who face attacks or see their rights usurped just because they are Turks and Muslims,” Erdo?an said.

    Besides Muslims, other communities with different ethnicities, colors and faiths are also adversely affected by Neo-Nazi terror, he added.

    Particularly acts that target mosques, workplaces, foundations and schools, etc. have reached incredible levels, Erdo?an said.

    “Burning the Quran in Sweden, ripping it in Norway, and encouraging caricatures insulting our Prophet under the pretext of press freedom are just a few examples of the attacks targeting our sacred values,” he added.”

  21. Big brother:?Germany’s foreign intelligence service under pressure

    “Germany’s foreign intelligence agency (BND) screens hundreds of millions of emails annually. The European Court of Human Rights is now looking into this practice.

    The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has admitted a Reporters Without Borders (RSF) complaint claiming that people are not properly protected against groundless and unjustified mass surveillance by Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the BND.

    The admission of the complaint on a European level opens up the possibility, “of finally remedying this untenable abuse of law,” said Christian Mihr, executive director of the RSF, an international organization that represents the interests and safety of journalist worldwide.

    Mihr sees it as an encouraging sign that in May 2020 Germany’s Constitutional Court ruled on the activities of the BND.The ruling stated that so-called strategic surveillance activities carried out by the intelligence agency are incompatible with the fundamental human right to privacy and the freedom of the press.

    Article 10 of the German constitution guarantees the fundamental right to protection of telecommunications privacy, which can only be limited in grave exceptions to protect Germany against armed attack and acts of terrorism as well as cyberattacks, cross-border crime such as the narcotics trade, money laundering and people trafficking.

    High-tech ‘strategic surveillance’
    The BND is, in well-founded individual cases, permitted to restrict fundamental laws and freedoms. However, members and supporters of RSF argue that the legal provisions that permit such intrusions are too far-reaching.

    They allege that the practice of tapping internet hubs using search terms known as selectors amounts to groundless mass surveillance. The BND uses this procedure to trawl hundreds of millions of emails for what it sees as suspicious information.

    Inner-German communication, which the country’s foreign intelligence service is legally prohibited from accessing, is allegedly filtered out of the trawling process. But how exactly that takes place has not so far been plausibly accounted for by the BND.

    Moreover, it is not clear whether the BND can actually guarantee that it is always able to filter out irrelevant telecommunications content. So the exact number of people who may be getting caught in the BND net without their knowledge remains unknown.

    And that is precisely where Reporters without Borders comes in – with its complaint at the European Court of Human Rights. Whether any victim of targeted or arbitrary surveillance has ever know that they were under scrutiny is questioned in the Strasbourg notice of appeal.

    “What is known is that in the last 40 years there has not been a single case in Germany where measures undertaken by the BND have been subjected to court review on the basis of such notification,” said Reporters Without Borders in its statement to the European court.

    A large number of those who are affected do not even find out with hindsight that their emails were screened, the NGO explained.

    Impact on German legal system
    The country’s Parliamentary Oversight Panel publihses an annual report detailling what surveillance measures have been taken. But that only becomes available after all protocol data have been deleted. In this way, the BND is obliged to document mails that were on closer inspection found to have been screened out as not “relevant in intelligence terms.”

    Andre Hahn is a member of parliament, the Bundestag, for Germany’s Left party. He is also a member of the Parliamentary Oversight Panel. And he believes that the RWB complaint is an “important step.”

    The fact that it has been admitted by the European Court of Human Rights, will, he says, lead to a revision of the standard practice in German courts, according to which complaints against mass surveillance of Internet traffic by the BND are repeatedly rejected on purely formal grounds; courts in Germany only admit complaints against mass surveillance if a complainant can prove that he’s been directly affected by the surveillance.

    If the complaint lodged by Reporters without Borders in Strasbourg is successful, the BND would in future be obliged to inform victims of surveillance after the act.

    RSF believes that they would then for the first time be in a position to take legal action against being spied on. RWB believes that would send out a powerful signal beyond Germany’s borders.

    The “snowballing surveillance strategies” adopted by the BND do not only pose a threat to the protection of the journalists’ sources that is such a central element of press freedom in a democracy. They also undermine the credibility of German demands on authoritarian regimes to respect press freedom,” thus depriving journalists in such countries of an advocate in their battle against surveillance and other forms of repression.”

    Reporters without Borders is in no doubt that it has itself in the past been the subject of unjustified BND surveillance. As proof, the organization points in its complaint to figures dating back to 2013. It was then that whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed how the US National Security Agency (NSA) has been spying on the Internet worldwide. At this time, the NSA was in effect using the BND listening station in Bad Aibling in Bavaria as a subsidiary.

    ‘Milestone for citizens’ rights’
    The 2013 report from Germany’s Parliamentary Oversight Panel refers to 12,523 search terms being employed to scan hundreds of millions of emails for suspicious content. Among which there were 15,401 so-called “hits.”

    “What that means is mails that the BND believed had to be manually examined because, for legal reasons, they probably should not have been intercepted in the first place. Among this “bycatch,” as such hits are called in secret service jargon, there were, in the final analysis, just 118 emails deemed “relevant for intelligence purposes.

    The resources invested and intelligence yielded were, according to Reporters without Borders, “grossly out of proportion.” And, after its success in challenging the BND’s strategic surveillance activities, RSF intends to use its high international profile to find out how often it was itself spied on — possibly with the aim of taking recourse to further action.

    Angela Merkel’s government in Berlin now has until the beginning of March to bring the dispute with the European Court of Human Rights to an amicable solution.”

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