Reader’s Links for February 17, 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

134 Replies to “Reader’s Links for February 17, 2021”

    • President Trump reacts to Rush Limbaugh’s death on Fox News: ‘He is a legend’

      President Trump joins Fox News to discuss Rush Limbaugh’s media legacy.

      Limbaugh died at age 70 after a battle with lung cancer.

  1. BREAKING: Rush Limbaugh has passed away
    Chris Field
    3 minutes

    Talk radio giant Rush Limbaugh has passed away, his wife, Kathryn, announced on his show Wednesday morning.

    Limbaugh, the leading voice of the conservative movement, succumbed to his battle with lung cancer at the age of 70 after getting his Stage 4 diagnosis in January 2020.

    El Rushbo was a pioneer in the radio industry, leading the way to get conservative and Republican issues and voices heard around the nation. He worked around the liberal monolith of the broadcast networks and the stranglehold Democrats had on the public airways.

    Limbaugh began his nationally syndicated “Rush Limbaugh Show” in 1988, and at that moment began to reshape the Republican Party and the conservative movement.

    https://www.theblaze.com/news/breaking-rush-limbaugh-has-passed-away?utm_source=theblaze-breaking&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20210217Trending-LimbaughPasses&utm_term=ACTIVE%20LIST%20-%20TheBlaze%20Breaking%20News

  2. CBC – Flight crews exempt from Canada’s quarantine laws

    Despite tightening COVID-19 restrictions for international travellers at Canadian airports, there is growing concern that international flight crews from around the world are still exempt from quarantine laws and can pretty much come and go as they please.

  3. CBC – Vaccine should reach all B.C. First Nations by end of March, says health authority

    All those living in a B.C. First Nations community should have access to a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine if they want it by the end of March, according to the First Nations Health Authority.

    It’s part of a push to get people in remote, vulnerable communities vaccinated.

    • Deutsche Pravda – Vaccine efficacy uncertain as coronavirus variants spread

      Is the coronavirus mutating its way around the vaccines?

      We take a look at the real threat of the viral variants & the efficacy of the vaccines we have now.

    • channel 4 – Children taking part in Covid vaccine trials in England

      The first trials are taking place to study the effectiveness of the Oxford Covid vaccine in children, with 300 volunteers aged six to 17 taking part in the research.

      The trial will assess how far the AstraZeneca jab produces an immune response in kids.

      Similar studies are taking place in the United States, involving the Pfizer and Moderna jabs, and parents of children with underlying conditions are hoping the trials will help them get protection as soon as possible.

    • itv news – Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine trial for children as young as six begins

      Trials have started to find out what affect the Oxford vaccine has on children.

      300 volunteers — aged six to 17 — will take part.

      While most kids don’t get seriously ill with Covid, some have needed hospital treatment – and they could also spread the virus.

      If safe and effective, children’s vaccines could be approved by the end of the year.

      • I spoke with a ‘very dense’ friend from Quebec province today. He is among the many who are under media hypnosis.

        I warned those friends in Quebec about the said ‘vaccine’, with some videos in French. They all called me ‘Complotiste’, aka Conspiracy People.

        Today, he told me they showed on TV three cases of adverse reactions. It disturbed him.

        I pushed on. I told him there are many more, you just don’t know it.

        Put your name on the list for the vaccine that isn’t a vaccine. Don’t forget, I’m a Complotiste. Go, go… put your name on the list.
        He’s finding all excuses not to do so.

        I told him, me – a Complotiste – warned against it many months ago. And the same applies to the USA election.

        I might have unlocked a door.

    • Khairy: Malaysia to be halal vaccine hub

      Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said that foreign vaccine manufacturers have expressed interest in investing in Malaysia.

      Speaking at a press conference today, he said they were looking to build manufacturing plants to serve both regional and halal markets.

      “Many vaccine producers have approached us in wanting to position Malaysia as a hub for Southeast Asia and also Muslim markets around the world because of our well respected and stringent halal certification.

      “This is seen as a value add for many vaccine manufacturers,” he said.

      The minister said he had discussed the matter with a Russian sovereign wealth fund and also with a party from India.

    • Myth: “We can’t trust the COVID vaccine, because it was rushed” – False!

      Walgreens Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kevin Ban explains that the COVID-19 vaccines were developed quickly and efficiently, with both Pfizer and Moderna recruiting a significant number of patients in their vaccine trials.

      It’s also important to note that all of the standards of safety and effectiveness have been met for these vaccines.

    • itv news – Covid: New variant with potentially troubling mutations discovered in UK

      New strains of the virus are emerging all the time – some more worrying than others.

      The latest to be identified by scientists is similar to the UK variant but with genetic changes also found in the South African one. So far 42 cases have been identified.

      We’ve had a rare look inside the lab in Cambridge that’s leading our efforts to keep track of new variants evolving in the UK or arriving from abroad.

    • UK – 1.7 million more people urged to shield and will get vaccine priority

      1.7 million more people will be added to the shielding list in England after experts identified additional adults at serious risk of Covid-19.

      Letters will arrive imminently for those affected telling them they should be in the shielding group, health officials have said.

      Those newly identified as being at higher risk because of multiple factors, including underlying health conditions, will get priority access for vaccines, officials confirmed on Tuesday.

      The list was expanded after scientists developed a new tool which assesses whether someone is at risk of severe disease or death.

      The tool looks at multiple factors including age, ethnicity, body mass index (BMI), other health conditions and also postcode, which is indicative of levels of deprivation.

    • 1.7 million more people in UK told to shield and 820,000 moved up vaccine priority list

      A new data-driven model, based on coronavirus outcomes from the first wave, has identified hundreds of thousands of people with a combination of conditions which means they are at higher risk than previously thought.

      Many of these people will be moved up to the sixth priority group for a vaccination, members of which are currently being offered jabs, but many others will already have been vaccinated due to being considered vulnerable to the virus.

    • Trees planted for COVID-19 vaccinations

      A retired San Diego doctor and a group of philanthropists are pledging to plant a tree in honor of anyone who gets vaccinated.

    • channel 4 – Are vaccine passports a good idea?

      With more than 15 million people having now received their first dose of the vaccine, there are questions about how proof of a vaccination could give people more freedom, both at home and abroad.

      Messaging from the government on the possibility of so-called vaccine passports has been mixed.

      The foreign secretary’s suggestion on Sunday that they’re being considered for use within the UK was followed closely by Boris Johnson’s insistence that they would not.

      We talk to Dr Clare Wenham, Assistant Professor of Global Health at the London School of Economics, and from Dubai, Charlie Mullins, the founder and CEO of Pimlico Plumbers.

    • NYC Restaurant Fires Woman for Refusing to Get COVID-19 Vaccine

      A former waitress in Brooklyn says that her uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 vaccine cost her her job.

      Bonnie Jacobson worked at the Red Hook Tavern, who she said asked her last week if she planned on getting the vaccine after it had been extended to restaurant workers.

      “I was honest, I’m not going to do it quite yet,” Jacobson said. “I do have my reservations about it, I need to talk to a doctor, just see how I feel. She said no problem.”

    • ‘No jab, no job?’ – UK businesses consider requiring Covid vaccine

      Some British companies say they may require their employees to receive a Covid-19 vaccine.

      But the move could go against legislation designed to reduce workplace discrimination, and business groups are divided on whether the ‘no jab, no job’ policy is the right approach.

      Also in the show – Google announces a deal to pay for News Corp. content, while Facebook says it will block Australian users from sharing news content on the platform.

    • Coronavirus vaccine: A look at the challenges of vaccinating everyone in the United States by summer

      Yahoo Finance’s Aikiko Fujita and Zack Guzman speak with Emergency Medicine Physician in New Jersey Dr. Anand Swaminathan to discuss vaccination rollout in the United States.

    • USA – Many service members saying no to COVID-19 vaccine

      By the thousands, U.S. service members are refusing or putting off the COVID-19 vaccine as frustrated commanders scramble to knock down internet rumors and find the right pitch that will persuade troops to get the shot.

      • Pentagon to administer 1M vaccines by weekend

        U.S. service members are refusing or putting off the COVID-19 vaccine by the thousands, as frustrated commanders scramble to knock down internet rumors and find the right pitch that will persuade troops to get the shot

    • Named & Shamed? – Netanyahu suggests disclosing names of unvaccinated Israelis

      Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has proposed a law that would allow the names of people who have not taken the vaccine to be sent to local authorities.

      The idea has raised concerns over possible privacy violations.

    • Home care for the elderly, that is how they are going to sell the robots to the public. I wonder how all of the pets are going to take the walking talking machines in their homes?

  4. AUSTRALIA – Facebook undertakes ‘the ultimate bluff calling’ by blocking all news content

    Facebook is “testing” the Australian government, news networks and the public with its decision to ban Australian users and publishers from sharing or viewing news articles on its platform according to Tech expert Trevor Long.

    The decision follows escalating tensions over the Morrison government’s controversial media bargaining code which sought to force tech giants to pay Australian media outlets for displaying news content on their platforms.

    Despite Google moving forward to strike multi-million-dollar deals with Nine News, Seven West Media and News Corp, Facebook announced this morning a solution could not be reached, and it would immediately be blocking all news content from its platforms.

    Mr Long pointed out only four per cent of the content shared or viewed on Facebook was in fact news and Australians could still view news on other platforms.

    “It could be the ultimate bluff calling that works in their favour,” he said.

    “I think Facebook will still make the same amount of money, there will be the same amount of traffic, and people will just get used to the fact that you don’t share news on Facebook.”

  5. ‘Leave Islam alone’ – New French ‘anti-Muslim’ bill prompts protests

    A French bill designed to stop the spread of radical Islam and defend secular values has been approved by the lower house of parliament.

    The legislation was proposed after the murder of teacher Samuel Paty by an Islamist attacker.

  6. Russia Detains 19 Militants Planning Attacks
    https://english.aawsat.com/home/article/2810711/russia-detains-19-militants-planning-attacks

    “Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said on Wednesday it had detained 19 suspected militants planning attacks in the North Caucasus.

    The FSB said it had seized a suicide belt, homemade bombs and automatic weapons from the suspects this month.

    The 19 detainees were spread across the Rostov, Krasnodar and Karachay-Cherkessia regions, as well as Crimea, the peninsula Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

    Footage from the detentions published by Russian news agency RIA showed FSB operatives scaling an apartment building and entering through a window to detain a suspect.

    Russia has repeatedly been targeted by militant groups, including in an attack on a train carriage in a St Petersburg metro tunnel in 2017.”

  7. Saudi Arabia soon to have branches of prestigious foreign universities
    https://saudigazette.com.sa/article/603619/SAUDI-ARABIA/Saudi-Arabia-soon-to-have-branches-of-prestigious-foreign-universities

    “The Ministry of Education is currently working on a plan to attract prestigious foreign universities to open their branches in the Kingdom. This is in accordance with the directives aimed at taking advantage of the courses of the premier international universities by young Saudi men and women.

    This comes within the framework of the government’s keenness to provide advanced and world class education, keeping pace with the renaissance witnessed by the Kingdom in various fields, in a way that fulfills aspirations of people and keeps pace with the employment market reforms.

    There are provisions in the new University Law to allow the University Affairs Council to recommend approval of the establishment or abolition or merger of universities and their branches, private colleges and branches of foreign universities, and submit the recommendations to the Council of Ministers for approval.

    Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman had approved the formation of University Affairs Council in February last year following the issuance of the new University Law by the Cabinet in November 2019.

    The most important tasks of the University Affairs Council include approval of policies and strategies for university education; approving and supervising regulations for universities, private colleges, and branches of foreign universities; approving financial, administrative, and academic regulations for universities.

    The tasks also include approval of the university’s self-investment and revenue regulations; approving the regulations governing the acceptance of donations, gifts, bequests, and the mechanism for spending thereof; approval of the regulations governing the management of endowments in universities in coordination with the General Authority of Awqaf.

    Additional tasks of the Council include approving the regulations governing science societies, research chairs, and research, innovation and entrepreneurship centers in universities; approval of the regulations for establishing science museums in universities in coordination with the relevant authorities; approval of the regulations governing student funds in universities; governance and evaluation of universities’ academic, administrative and financial performance.

    The Council tasks included approving the rules for nominating university presidents; recommending approval for the establishment, abolition and merger of universities and their branches, private colleges and branches of foreign universities; approving the establishment of colleges, deanships, institutes, centers and scientific departments, or merging them, abolishing them, or changing their names.”

  8. Arab Coalition intercepts armed Houthi drone targeting Khamis Mushait
    https://saudigazette.com.sa/article/603633/SAUDI-ARABIA/Arab-Coalition-intercepts-armed-Houthi-drone-targeting-Khamis-Mushait

    “The Arab Coalition forces intercepted and destroyed early Thursday yet another armed drone launched by the Iran-backed Houthi militia targeting the southwestern Saudi city of Khamis Mushait.

    In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency, the official spokesman of the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen, Brig. Gen. Turki Al-Maliki said: “The coalition forces have intercepted and destroyed this morning (Thursday) a bomb-laden drone launched systematically and deliberately by the terrorist Houthi militia to target civilians and civilian facilities in Khamis Mushait.”

    “These acts of aggression to deliberately and systematically target civilians and civilian facilities by the terrorist, Iran-backed Houthi militia amount to war crimes,” the statement read.

    “The coalition will continue to implement all necessary operational procedures to safeguard civilians and civilian objects in accordance with the customary International Humanitarian Law,” the statement added.

    On Wednesday, the coalition forces said they intercepted and destroyed an armed drone launched by the Houthi militia toward Khamis Mushait.

    The Houthi militia has stepped up attacks against Saudi Arabia recently. It has targeted the airport in Abha a couple of times recently.”

  9. US army builds second base in Syria’s Hasakah
    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20210217-us-army-builds-second-base-in-syrias-hasakah/

    “The US army began building a second base in the Al-Malikiyah region in the Syrian northeastern province of Hasakah, Syria’s SANA news agency reported.

    The agency quoted local sources as saying that over the past few days, US forces have deployed military reinforcements including 60 armoured vehicles and army engineering vehicles to carry out excavation, leveling, and construction of barricades in the area, southwest of Ain Dewar in the border triangle between Syria, Iraq, and Turkey.

    At the end of last month, American forces began establishing a base near Tal Alu in the Al-Yarubiya area in Hasakah eastern countryside.

    SANA news agency quoted the sources as saying that the military base aims to strengthen “the American occupation points and their sites in the vicinity of the oil fields” in order to “ensure the continuation of the robbery and looting of the Syrian wealth, and to secure the roads it uses for theft operations through the illegal crossings it had created for this purpose in Hasakah eastern countryside.”

    Last month, SANA reported that the American forces had established a military airport for its base in Al-Omar oil field in Deir Ezzor’s eastern countryside.”

  10. US Navy seizes smuggled weapons off Somalia coast
    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20210218-us-navy-seizes-smuggled-weapons-off-somalia-coast/

    “The US Navy announced on Tuesday that its guided-missile destroyer, the USS Winston S. Churchill, had seized illegal shipments of weapons from two small ships while sailing in international waters off the coast of Somalia.

    The navy disclosed in a statement that the operation took place last week, indicating that the weapons seized: “Consisted of thousands of AK-47 assault rifles, light machine guns, heavy sniper rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and crew-served weapons. Other weapon components included barrels, stocks, optical scopes and weapon systems.”

    The statement did not issue details on the source or destination of the weapons. However, a US defence official who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed that there were “indications” that the weapons were destined for Yemen.

    The official added that the authorities are continuing the investigation…”

  11. Bangladesh orders Al Jazeera documentary be scrubbed from web
    https://english.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2021/2/17/bangladesh-orders-al-jazeera-documentary-be-scrubbed-from-web

    “A documentary by Al Jazeera that aired explosive claims about Bangladesh’s army chief must be taken down from the internet in the South Asian country, a court ordered Wednesday.

    The Doha-based broadcaster released the hour-long programme titled “All the Prime Minister’s Men” in early February detailing allegations that the country’s security forces and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had links to a criminal gang.

    The High Court instructed Bangladesh’s telco regulator to “remove or take down Al Jazeera’s documentary… from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and other digital platforms where it has been shared”, the regulator’s lawyer, Khandaker Reza-e-Raquib, told AFP.

    Reza-e-Raquib said the court deemed the documentary was “propaganda against Bangladesh”.

    The regulator said in a statement after the court ruling that it would take “appropriate steps to remove the content”.

    It is not clear how the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission will remove the programme. It has been posted by Al Jazeera English on its official YouTube channel where it has been viewed more than 6.8 million times….”

  12. Moscow’s mercenaries: How Russia is swelling the global market for private military companies
    https://english.alaraby.co.uk/english/indepth/2021/2/17/how-russia-is-swelling-the-global-market-for-mercenaries

    “What do we think about when we hear the term ‘mercenaries’? For the president of Mozambique, the word has only one meaning – control – and he is willing to pay handsomely for it.

    Filipe Jacinto Nyusi has two problems; the unrest in the troubled but resource-rich Cabo Delgado region and the jihadists who are taking advantage of it. The conflict has been ongoing since 2017 but escalated in 2020 following a series of gruesome attacks. Over 420,000 people have been displaced in the mainly Muslim province.

    To deal with the growing threat, the Mozambican leader made offers to several private military companies. In the end, he chose a shadowy mercenary outfit with alleged ties to the Kremlin, the Russian Wagner Group, who said they would get the job done quickly.

    However, the plan did not work. Several Wagner mercenaries were killed in ambushes in areas completely unknown to the Russians, who have no previous experience with the southern African terrain. In their place, the Mozambican government hired the DAG company, led by South African Colonel Lionel Dyck.

    He had served in the army of what turned into the white colonialist former republic of Rhodesia in Zimbabwe and has extensive experience in conducting asymmetric fighting. The irony is that in the 1970s, Rhodesia’s army, which included Lionel Dyck, attacked Mozambique and Zimbabwe’s guerrilla bases, which Filipe Nyusi’s party had sheltered. Times are changing.

    All signs indicate that Africa is the new arena for experiments in the military industry, and it is there that we can see what military action across other theatres of conflict will soon look like. War is the same – but warfare is changing. Although the UN bans mercenary forces under some treaties, this too is changing. The data show that there are more mercenaries in Africa than anywhere else in the world. Some of them date back to colonial times such as Rhodesia.

    Examples from Africa, Syria and Libya show that mercenaries successfully enforce Putin’s foreign policy in areas where the Kremlin has direct interests
    In the years when many African countries gained independence, mercenaries supported separatist movements and participated in coups. Many young people enrolled in private companies in the 1990s to fund their university education. Mercenaries and former marines fought in Katanga as it tried to secede from the Congo in the early 1960s and in Biafra, where separatists were leading an independence movement from Nigeria. In 2004, a former British Special Forces officer, Simon Mann, attempted a coup in Equatorial Guinea.

    In the past, Western governments have looked half-heartedly at the activity of mercenary companies in serving their economic interests. Today, Russia is gaining a leading position in this area, with the Kremlin increasingly using mercenaries to expand its influence. Most of these mercenaries’ activities go through the Wagner company, whose main sponsor, Yevgeny Prigozhin, is one of Putin’s closest associates and known for his actions from Ukraine to Syria and Libya.

    Shortly after the Mozambican president met with the Russian president in 2019, Wagner received a contract to protect gas fields in the country. Mozambique is currently developing the largest energy project in Africa, where France, via its megacompany Total, has visible interests.

    With the expanding political and economic influence of Russia in Europe, the Middle East, and cyberspace, it is not surprising that the presence of Moscow in Africa did not garner much attention until the beginning of 2019 and the presence of Wagner in Libya. Many of Russia’s actions in Africa reflect Vladimir Putin’s desire for a foreign policy under his leadership and military adventurism that restores the country to its former place among the superpowers.

    Clearly, there is a geopolitical dimension. Africa is home to 25 percent of the world’s countries, and Russia is not the first country to try to create a political bloc to serve its interests in the UN and other international institutions. In this regard, the African continent offers excellent opportunities for the deployment of global “active events” that allow Moscow to return to its former spheres of influence.

    At the same time, it is developing its geo-economic strategy for access to valuable mineral resources in countries torn apart by internal conflicts and instability, and for the export of finished products and weapons systems. The focus on African countries is by no means accidental, as Moscow must carefully allocate its resources and international commitments after the annexation of Crimea, given the imposed political and economic isolation.

    Mercenaries offer several major advantages. They are cheaper than regular armies, highly trained, and allow military operations without visible state involvement
    In this regard, given the dynamics of events, fierce competition with the West and the search for parity with the East, Moscow is looking for new allies. It is in the process of re-establishing old Soviet-era ties and establishing new ones that the tools offered by private military companies will prove most useful, as they fit perfectly into Russia’s “package of deals”, first introduced widely in Syria.

    This includes arms sales and sending military advisers engaged in the training of regular armed forces and paramilitary groups to wage anti-guerrilla wars and quell riots in the ‘client’ countries, in combination with bodyguards for the political elite, as well as providing ‘political technologists’ to take care of strengthening their unstable power.

    Wagner has worked with several African regimes. In Sudan, the company assisted long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir as he tried to quash protests in the country, which eventually ousted him from power. In 2018, hundreds of Wagner fighters arrived in the Central African Republic to guard diamond mines, train the local army and guard President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, whose real power does not go far from the capital. In Guinea, where Russian aluminium giant Rusal is heavily involved, Wagner joined President Alpha Conde, who faced bloody protests against the new constitution, allowing him to remain in office for a third term.

    In Libya, despite the UN embargo, Wagner has deployed 1,200 members and staff in support of General Khalifa Haftar’s rebel forces, which have besieged the capital, Tripoli, for a year. US Africa Command`s satellite images showed Russian Air Force planes directly supporting Wagner.

    However, Libya emerged as a failure for the mercenary company after Turkish-backed Libyan government forces managed to reverse Haftar’s offensive. The general left several mass graves with hundreds of bodies found by Tripoli’s forces in the city of Tarhuna. In other areas, such as Bani Walid, there is evidence of torture at Wagner’s headquarters.

    Private companies usually say they are plugging security holes that could otherwise lead to chaos. In the Central African Republic, for example, France withdrew much of its military forces in 2016, leaving just the United Nations and a small European mission, which failed to bring order. Wagner arrived just in time.

    In 2015, the South African company STTEP appeared in northeastern Nigeria, training local forces in their battle against Boko Haram jihadists. Their contract was terminated by President Muhammadu Bukhari, who said government forces had to deal with it on their own – but they would eventually fail.

    Mercenaries – and Russia is aware of this – have several major advantages. First, they allow state denialism. By using them, governments can sponsor military operations without visible involvement. Second, mercenaries are efficient, experienced, and mobile. Third, they are cheaper than maintaining a regular army unit. Soldiers receive lifelong pensions, while mercenaries have only their contracts.

    In conflict zones around the world, Russian forces have occupied a grey area between the army, mercenaries, and operations invisible to the public
    They are also cheaper than the expensive heavy weapons that governments import. Sometimes Western governments like the United Kingdom help mercenary companies to provide military power to profitable leaders in Asia or Africa. Russia does so directly through a link between Putin’s businesspeople and Russian foreign policy theorists. In the Russian model, the boundaries between private and public interests are blurred.

    Mercenaries are here to stay. Companies like OAM, run by another Rhodesian, John Gartner, operate in at least eighteen African countries. Although on paper it opposes the use of mercenaries, the UN is also softening their tone. There is already a code relating to mercenary work, according to which the UN is recruiting similar forces for planning, demining, and training local security forces. Most Western companies have already adopted some of the UN rules in their treaties, and mercenaries are committed to acting on them, such as banning civilian attacks.

    Russian mercenaries, on the other hand, have not accepted such clauses in their contracts. Moreover, they still do not exist officially, as Russian laws prohibit them. As the examples from Africa, Syria, Libya and the CAR show, these companies are not only real but also successfully enforce Putin’s foreign policy in areas where the Kremlin has direct interests.

    Indicative of this new model is the case of Kiril Shadrin. In 2015, Shadrin was a loyal Russian soldier. Later, he became a “volunteer” in Donbas, and in 2017 he appeared in Syria, where he fought in a Syrian paramilitary pro-government group under the supervision of Syrian and Russian intelligence. There are several cases in conflict zones around the world such as the Shadrin’s – Russian soldiers occupying the grey area between the army, mercenaries, and operations invisible to the public.

    As private warfare re-emerges, there will be increased media reports about mercenary groups, and Russia will be the main driver. Expansionist appetites for Russia’s foreign policy in the Middle East and military involvement abroad in general, combined with lobbying pressure from the oil and gas powers, have created today’s situation.

    The escalating conflict in the Central African Republic highlights the role played by mercenaries from neighbouring countries in inflaming tensions. Indeed, the data is clear that the mercenaries – i.e. Russian groups – worsened the conflict there.

    But the Kremlin is “closing its eyes” if it is profitable, and in the case of the CAR, persistent tensions have led to more deals and a stronger presence…”

  13. A new chapter in Greece’s Middle East military strategy
    https://english.alaraby.co.uk/english/indepth/2021/2/17/a-new-chapter-in-greeces-middle-east-military-strategy

    “”Against the Iranian axis, a resounding and strong regional alliance has been formed. Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, Jordan, the Gulf countries, and the State of Israel are members of this alliance.”

    The statement by Chief of General Staff of the Israeli army, Aviv Kochavi, a few days after Joe Biden’s inauguration sent an indirect message to Washington and a more direct warning to Tehran. What was striking is the fact that he placed Greece at the top of the list.

    Athens has a long history of developing defence equipment, especially after the Cyprus crisis in the mid-1970s, when the United States at that time chose neutrality at first and then leaned towards the Turkish side.

    Former Greek governments have used defence supplies more as a diplomatic card than as an extension of their military policy, given Greece’s participation in NATO and the US unipolar international leadership, while during the recent economic crisis any arms program was virtually zero. Moreover, Greece has in the past refrained from engaging in regional or international conflicts.

    But this seems to have changed significantly during the New Democracy party’s rule in Greece over the past two years. The government has pursued a different diplomatic strategy and consolidated it with a series of military agreements ranging from arms purchases to common defence pacts, launching a new phase for Athens in the region – from the Aegean Sea to the warm waters of the Gulf.

    Late last month, on a scheduled visit to Athens, French Defence Minister Florence Parly signed an agreement to sell 18 fifth generation Rafale aircraft to Greece for 2.5 billion euros ($3.04 billion). This agreement, which is the largest since the beginning of this century for Greece, is of great importance for both sides. For Paris, in the shadow of crises ranging from Brexit to the repeated closure of French cities due to the pandemic, this military deal is a positive development.

    The New Democracy party has pursued a more proactive diplomatic strategy with regional actors, launching a new era for Athens in the region
    For Athens, in geopolitical terms, this agreement is in line with the Greek government’s new strategy, which began early last year and became more necessary due to the high level of tension with Turkey last summer. But the most important milestone in Athens’ push for militarisation was not with Paris, but Abu Dhabi, with the signing of a joint defence cooperation agreement between the two countries in November 2020.

    An analysis of the Libyan conflict reveals the reasons for the beginning of this new phase for the Greek military. The memorandum of understanding between Ankara and the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, signed at the end of 2019, was the first spark of change that shaped the path of Athens and its political and military priorities. In a purely emotional act of revenge against Ankara, Athens opened its doors to General Khalifa Haftar, without gaining any substantial benefits.

    Haftar, who was mainly supported by Abu Dhabi, constituted common ground between Greece and the UAE, opening a new era of cooperation between the two countries. However, a logical reading of these dynamics makes it clear that common interests between Athens and Abu Dhabi and shared hostility towards Ankara are not sufficient reasons to reach an agreement on common military defence, especially for the Greek side.

    The defence pact has two perspectives. It provides more protection for the UAE, in the shadow of an unfavourable atmosphere in the Gulf over Iran’s nuclear program and Tehran-backed militias which are spreading to Iraq, Syria and Yemen and constantly threatening to strike Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

    For the Greek side, the agreement places Athens in the middle of a conflict that has lasted for more than half a century and makes it an enemy of Iran and its militias, which is political naivety on the part of the Greek government that stems from ignorance of regional dynamics.

    When Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis declared a state of emergency in mid-July, the most important question in the corridors of Greek diplomacy was whether Greece was capable of dealing with Turkey in any possible conflict, despite the fact that the chances of the two countries going to war were virtually zero as members of NATO.

    Tensions with Turkey have given rise to the adoption of a new military strategy by Greece
    This logic, however, did not prevent the current Greek government from reading events differently and adopting a more aggressive and contradictory military strategy by choosing to develop the operational capabilities of the Greek army, proceeding with agreements for the supply of French Rafale aircraft and the construction of a training airport worth $1.6 billion with Israel. Furthermore, Greece has also publicly declared an interest in acquiring F-35 fighter aircrafts from the US. So what is the rationale behind this strategy?

    First, during the events of last summer in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Greek army went into a state of emergency, which lasted about two months, for the first time this century. This provoked discussions within the army and the government about Greece’s capabilities vis-à-vis NATO’s second largest army, that of Turkey. This reality gave rise to the adoption of a new military strategy for Athens, which felt that Washington was moving towards tightening its policy towards Ankara, either with Trump remaining in office or with the arrival of Biden.

    The US ambassador to Athens, Geoffrey Pyatt, played a key role in encouraging the Greek government to prepare for a time when Ankara would have less regional and international influence. The personal desire of the Greek prime minister himself to play an important role in the region and gain more influence cannot be ignored. To achieve this, Greece’s military would have to be strengthened in order to gain more respect as an influential player.

    The warming of ties between Turkey and Saudi Arabia could have a positive impact on Ankara’s relationship with the UAE. As such, Athens’ allies, on whom it relies on to change its military policy, may have to choose between Turkey as a strong player in the region and Greece, which has only just begun to play a similar role.

    Washington has been, and continues to be, the only actor who determines the future of the conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean, but the atmosphere in the White House is unclear about its future plans regarding tensions in the region. Biden has many complex issues in front of him, the most important of which is Iran and the nuclear deal, while the issue of the S-400s will be at the top of the agenda in US-Turkish talks, putting the Mediterranean in second place.

    As for Athens, it will have to wait until next summer to fully understand the new US administration’s plans for the outstanding Eastern Mediterranean issues, which include Cyprus and the maritime border between Turkey and Greece. Until then, the waters of the Aegean will probably remain stagnant.”

  14. 27 US Senators Write Letter to Biden Urging Western Sahara Reversal
    https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2021/02/335292/27-us-senators-write-letter-to-biden-urging-western-sahara-reversal/

    “US Senator James “Jim” Inhofe is at it again with a new stunt consisting of a letter to draw the Biden administration’s attention to Western Sahara. The letter, cosigned by Pat Leahy and 25 other senators, consisted of the same arguments Inhofe has presented to several US administrations without reply.

    25 likely unwitting Senators appeared to have gotten roped into Inhofe and Leahy’s stunt, funded directly by Algeria’s top lobbying firm in Washington, MWN discovered.

    The senators involved in the stunt included mostly “centrist” and corporate-funded senators including Senators John Boozman (R-Ark.), Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Susan M. Collins (R-Maine), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

    Disparaging a key US ally
    Inhofe and Leahy’s letter to Biden calls the US recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara as “misguided” and describes the US’ key non-NATO ally’s claims “illegitimate.”

    Inhofe and his colleagues in their letter described former US President Donald Trump’s decision as “shortsighted” declaring that the move had “undermined” US policy and that it had “alienated a significant number of African nations.”

    Inhofe’s letter to Biden declared that US strategic ally Morocco had consistently displayed a “unwillingness to negotiate in good faith” despite US policy for years endorsing Morocco’s Autonomy Plan.

    It accuses Morocco of not approving the organization of a referendum that excluded Moroccan residents while ignoring that Polisario leadership have done the same when the composition of referendum participants looked to favor Morocco.

    Repeating misinformation
    The letter to Biden echoed Inhofe’s previous attempts to spread his pro-Polisario perspective.

    Inhofe, a notorious climate change denier and homophobe called on US President Joe Biden to aid refugees in “Tindoof,” misspelling the location of the Tindouf camps despite insisting that “some of us have visited the camps.”

    Again Inhofe reiterated outdated and misleading statements on the history of the conflict, Morocco’s role and most importantly, leaving out much of the timeline regarding the issue.

    The letter described the Green March as an attempt to “annex the territory with force,” and declares the Polisario to be the sole representative of the Sahrawi people.

    In effect Inhofe’s letter called on Biden to break faith on an agreement with a major strategic ally and abandon the agreement that was part of the the deal with Israel, another favored US ally.

    Paid for by Algeria
    The letter, signed by 25 Republican and Democratic senators appears to be another remarkable example of the power of lobbying money in Washington. Preliminary research by Morocco World News has revealed that within a six-month period in 2020, both main authors of the letter had extensive contact with an Algeria-funded lobbying firm.

    Both Jim Inhofe and Pat Leahy repeatedly met with lobbying firm Foley Hoag, Algeria’s main lobbying firm. Algeria pays Foley Hoag $420,000 a year to gain influence in Washington despite luke-warm ties with the US. Instead, Foley Hoag appears to be actively tasked with muddying the waters and spreading Algerian propaganda on the Senate floor.

    In its investigation, MWN uncovered that within a six month period in early 2020, Foley Hoag had received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Algeria to organize more than 23 “meetings and exchanges” with top US politicians.

    A supplemental data disclosure by Foley Hoag revealed that all its Algerian-funded efforts were centered on Western Sahara.

    Despite Algeria formally claiming to be a mere observer in the Western Sahara conflict, its lobbying firm organized three exchanges with James Inhofe and Patrick Leahy.

    Today the result of hundreds of thousands of Algerian taxpayer-money is a letter filled with misinformation and signed by dozens of likely unwitting participants that have with little to no knowledge of the conflict.

    In its misinformed delusion Inhofe’s letter to President Biden calls on the US to abandon its allies Israel and Morocco, in favor of Russia’s top strategic partner in Africa.”

  15. channel 4 – Q and Gone: Losing loved ones to conspiracy theory

    Donald Trump has been cleared in his impeachment trial, and, for now, his supporters may seem to have quietened down.

    But the rise of misinformation and distrust of the mainstream is still very much alive.

    From the belief that the media is putting out fake news, to Covid denial and anti-vax, the counter-narrative remains strong.

    We’ve been to meet some people caught in a vortex of misinformation, which is driving a wedge between families and friends.

    And we hear from those trying to help others back into the mainstream again.

    + comments on the YT page

  16. New Zealand to pull remaining troops out of Afghanistan
    https://www.khaama.com/new-zealand-to-pull-remaining-troops-out-of-afghanistan-5668866/

    “New Zealand announced to withdraw its troops and conclude its military mission in Afghanistan by May 2021.

    Janidra Ardern, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta, and Defense Minister Peeni Henare announced that the country will withdraw its troops and end the military missions in Afghanistan.

    “After 20 years of an NZDF presence in Afghanistan, it is now time to conclude our deployment,” Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern s said.

    “The deployments to Afghanistan have been one of the longest-running in our history, and I wish to acknowledge the 10 New Zealanders who lost their lives in the line of duty, and the more than 3,500 NZDF and other agency personnel, whose commitment to replace conflict with peace will always be remembered,” she added.

    New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta stated that although the environment remains complex, the intra-Afghan peace process affords Afghanistan the best prospect of an enduring political solution.

    Nanaia Mahuta, New Zealander Foreign Minister indicated that despite the environment being complex, the best prospect of enduring political solution is in intra-Afghan talks.

    “New Zealand’s decision to conclude its deployment to Afghanistan in 2021 has been discussed with our key partners, with whom we have cooperated closely over the last twenty years,” Nanaia said

    “New Zealand will continue to be supportive of the Afghan Government and its people in the years to come, including as they work through the intra-Afghan peace process in an effort to resolve the decades-long conflict,” she added.

    According to Defense Minister Peeni Henare, New Zealand Defense forces have six personnel remaining in the country, three are stationed in Afghanistan National Army Officer Academy and three others are deployed to NATO resolute support headquarters.

    “Together with our partners, New Zealand helped to establish the conditions for the current intra-Afghan peace process. We’ve supported regional security, and helped to improve the lives of the people of Afghanistan, particularly in Bamyan Province.

    “Another important element of New Zealand’s support for Afghanistan has been our contribution to training and mentoring a new generation of Officers in the Afghanistan Army. The success of the mentoring program being conducted with the Afghanistan National Army Officer Academy means it is now self-sufficient enough for New Zealand’s contribution there to conclude,” Henare said.”

  17. Afghan peace process on the ‘brink of collapse’
    https://www.khaama.com/afghan-peace-process-on-the-brink-of-collapse-556655/

    “Taliban’s intense attacks during the winters have spurred the Afghan government to prepare for spring battles, which the international community fears will further endanger the peace process in Afghanistan.

    Following the sharp increase in the Taliban offensives since the US-Taliban agreement, General Scott Miller, Commander of US forces and NATO-led resolute support mission told Reuters that “Taliban violence is much higher than historical norms,” he added, It just doesn’t create the conditions to move forward in what is hopefully a historic turning point for Afghanistan”.

    Clashes typically slow down during the snowy winter months before the Taliban’s “spring offensives” around march, however, this winter battles have escalated.

    Intensified clashes during the winter months are indicating that there would be a spring offensive, this war could be more fierce and acute which will be viewed against the spirit of Doha agreements, Reuters reported.

    The peace negotiations have stalled in Doha and the Taliban leaders have left Qatar, leading to fears that intra-afghan talks could be on the brink of collapse, a senior state department official told Reuters.

    Reuters quoted Miller, “If the violence isn’t reduced, it’s going to make a peace process very, very difficult; it would be very difficult for any side to make the necessary compromises,”

    The Afghan government has instructed security forces to carry out a comprehensive troop restructuring and design operations to prepare for a “tough and hard” spring offensive, two government sources told Reuters.

    Government sources in contact with Reuters indicated that the Afghan government has ordered security forces to carry out comprehensive military restructuring and design operations for “Tough and Hard” spring battles ahead, adding that “Afghanistan’s special forces from different institutions such as the military and police are being streamlined to operate under one command. Highly experienced commanders have been appointed to key areas, and security forces were planning to conduct more airstrikes to avoid losses on the ground”.

    Though the Afghan security forces remain in active defense mode, an Afghan security council said that Afghan national and defense forces are “ready for any kind of war”

    Four Taliban sources said that most of their commanders had in recent weeks cut short annual training sessions after being called back to the battlefield to prepare for intensive fighting.

    Sources in the Taliban said their commanders had recently cut short annual training sessions after being called back to the battlefield to prepare for war.

    Another Taliban member from the group’s special force unit told Reuters pointing to foreign troops, “If they don’t leave Afghanistan on the preset date then the USA, NATO and the world will face a dangerous war, a war that never happened in the past 20 years,” he said.

    Residents in north-eastern Afghanistan told Reuters that they noticed changes in the Taliban activities like the mass movement of the Taliban, meetings in mosques and they have begun food and recruitment drives.

    “In the past two weeks the topics Taliban preachers preach, especially on Friday prayers… have changed,” a tribal elder from Kunduz province who did not want to be named told Reuters, “They preach about… fighting against invasion, and they openly invite people to join them. It’s a clear message that they are preparing for another fight this spring”.

    This comes as the new Administration is reviewing its plans for Afghanistan and the US-Taliban deal.

    General Scott Miller stressed on international troops becoming Taliban targets if the deal is breached.

    According to Reuters, experts see a vanishing window of opportunity for the Afghan peace process, although both sides express their commitment to peace talks.

    “Talks seem already very close to falling apart,” said Ashley Jackson, co-director of the Centre for the Study of Armed Groups at the Overseas Development Institute.

    “The trouble is that (Washington) seems to grossly underestimate just how bad things could get and how quickly that could happen.” Reuters quoted Ashley.”

  18. Kiwi-Aussie row erupts over terrorist in Turkey
    https://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/kiwi-aussie-row-erupts-over-terrorist-in-turkey-162479

    “New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern accused Australia of shirking its responsibility for a dual national arrested in Turkey over links with ISIL.

    In an unusually blunt message to her counterpart Scott Morrison, Ardern said Canberra was “wrong” to expect New Zealand to accept the woman, who have strong ties to Australia.

    “Any fair-minded person would consider this person an Australian and that is my view too,” Ardern said in a statement.
    “We believe Australia has abdicated its responsibilities.”

    The 26-year-old woman was arrested with her two children this week by Turkish authorities near the Syrian border and identified as a member of ISIL.

    Ardern said the woman had been a dual citizen until authorities in Canberra canceled her passport, making her Wellington’s responsibility.

    “It is wrong that New Zealand should shoulder the responsibility for a situation involving a woman who has not lived in New Zealand since she was six,” she said.

    “(The woman) has resided in Australia since that time, has her family in Australia and left for Syria from Australia on her Australian passport,” she added.

    Morrison defended the decision as in “Australia’s national security interests.” He added that he would speak with Ardern further, saying: “There is still a lot more unknown about this case and where it sits and where it may go to next.””

  19. Turkey’s anti-terror operations will continue: Erdo?an
    https://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkeys-anti-terror-operations-will-continue-erdogan-162488

    “President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an on Feb. 17 vowed to continue Turkey’s military offensive against terrorism following the illegal PKK group’s killing of 13 Turkish citizens in northern Iraq’s Gara region.

    “We will continue our struggle with determination until we crush the head of terrorism and completely solve the problem of terrorism. We will continue our operations,” Erdo?an said while addressing his party’s provincial congress…”

  20. ‘Turkey destroyed nearly 13K terrorists since 2015’
    https://www.aa.com.tr/en/turkey/turkey-destroyed-nearly-13k-terrorists-since-2015/2148510

    “Turkey “destroyed” over 12,900 terrorists inside and outside the country, the Turkish president said on Wednesday.

    “[Since July 2015], More than 12,900 terrorists, including 6,000 in the country and 6,900 abroad, have been destroyed,” said Recep Tayyip Erdogan after a Cabinet meeting at the presidential complex.

    “In these operations, nearly 1,300 terrorists were injured, while more than 1,300 terrorists were captured alive,” he said, adding that at least 2,243 terrorists surrendered to security forces.

    “Thus, the number of terrorists neutralized reached 17,750,” he noted, saying Turkey, over the last five years, has eliminated a considerable number of senior terrorists that the PKK terror group gathered for years.

    Erdogan said Turkey has been fighting terrorism for 40 years and made every effort to eradicate it…”

  21. French academics blast minister’s warning on ‘Islamo-leftism’
    https://www.france24.com/en/france/20210217-french-academics-blast-minister-s-warning-on-islamo-leftism

    “The French minister for higher education has sparked a backlash from university heads after warning about the spread of “Islamo-leftism” in the country’s academic institutions.

    The term “Islamo-leftism” is often used in France by far-right politicians to discredit left-wing opponents they accuse of being blind to the dangers of Islamist extremism and overly worried about racism and identity.

    “I think that Islamo-leftism is eating away at our society as a whole, and universities are not immune and are part of our society,” Minister for Higher Education Frederique Vidal told CNews television on Sunday.

    The comments came amid a divisive debate in France about what President Emmanuel Macron has termed “Islamist separatism,” in which Islamists are said to be flouting French laws in closed-off Muslim communities and fuelling terror attacks on French soil.

    The lower house of parliament approved a tough draft law on Tuesday that will extend the state’s powers to shut down religious groups judged to be extremist.

    Macron has recently been accused by critics of pandering to the far right ahead of presidential elections next year, which polls show are likely to be a re-run of his 2017 duel with Marine Le Pen, leader of the anti-immigration National Rally.

    Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin caused unease inside the governing centrist party last Thursday after accusing Le Pen of “softness” on Islam during a televised debate.

    In response to Vidal’s comments, the Conference of University Presidents (CPU) issued a statement on Tuesday expressing “its shock at another sterile controversy over the issue of ‘Islamo-leftism’ at university.”

    Last October, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer had also warned that “Islamo-leftism” was “wreaking havoc” in French academia.

    The CPU group, which represents the heads of French universities, condemned the use of the ill-defined label which it said should be left to the far right “which popularised it.”

    Focus on race

    Vidal also announced that she would order an investigation into the problem of researchers “looking at everything through the prism of wanting to fracture and divide”, which she said included those focused on colonialism and race.

    But the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), the research body Vidal charged with the study, has already hit back.

    Although it agreed to carry out the investigation, the CNRS condemned “attempts to delegitimise different fields of research such as post-colonial studies”.

    Asked to comment further in parliament on Tuesday, Vidal said the investigation would determine “what is academic research and what is activism and opinion”.

    Government spokesman Gabriel Attal appeared to distance himself from the idea on Wednesday when asked for Macron’s views on the issue at a news briefing.

    The president has an “absolute commitment to the independence of academic researchers”, Attal said, adding that it was “a fundamental guarantee of our republic”.

    Movements against racism over the last year such as Black Lives Matter, which resonated in France after arriving from the US, have led to fears that the country is importing American racial and identity politics sometimes derided as “woke culture”.

    A new generation of younger French activists are also increasingly vocal about the problem of racism in France and the legacy of the country’s colonial past in Africa and the Middle East.

    Both Macron and Education Minister Blanquer have spoken out about the danger of focusing on race and discrimination, which they see as fostering divisions between communities and undermining France’s founding ideal of a united society.

    Mame-Fatou Niang, a black academic who studies race and identity in France, condemned Vidal’s proposed investigation, saying it would put those studying colonialism and racism under unfair scrutiny.

    Writing on Twitter, she said that “minority researchers have been regarded as activists through the ages”.

    But Vidal’s announcement was well received by right-wing politicians who share her concerns.

    Several MPs from the right-wing Republicans party had demanded in November a parliamentary investigation into what they termed “ideological intellectual excesses in universities”.

    Some French academics have also formed an “Observatory on De-colonialism and Identity Ideologies” to fight back against what they view as an unhealthy focus on race, identity and colonial history in academia.”

  22. Czechia to send millions of aid to help migrants in their country of origin
    https://rmx.news/article/article/czechia-to-send-millions-of-aid-to-help-migrants-in-their-country-of-origin

    “This year, Czechia will send 140 million korunas (€5.45 million) from the On-Site Assistance program mainly to the Western Balkans and Jordan to relieve these countries from strong migratory pressures or to assist refugees in their countries of origin.

    Central European countries like Czechia and Hungary have long advocated sending aid to countries where migrants come from in under to reduce the pressure on Europe’s borders.

    In addition, the Medevac health and humanitarian program with aid totaling 55 million korunas (€2.14 million) will go to international organizations that help in Iraq, Mauritania, and Nigeria, according to Eurozpravy.cz.

    As the Czech Ministry of Interior stated in a press release, the goals of both programs include sending medical teams to problematic areas, building medical infrastructure, providing direct assistance to refugees, and fighting against illegal migration.

    A total of 50 million korunas (€1.94 million) will go to Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, and Serbia this year. The aim is to strengthen the countries’ capacities in asylum policy, receiving migrants, and their integration or return to their home countries.

    Czechia plans to donate another 25 million korunas (€973,087) to Jordan on stabilizing the situation of Syrian refugees in the country. The same amount will go to the wider Sahel region, namely Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal. The money will be used to stabilize the situation of refugees and migrants, and to support the countries’ asylum, migration, and border systems. The aim is to help vulnerable people and prevent illegal migration to Europe.

    The remaining 40 million korunas (€1.55 million) consist of two parts. One of them is a financial contribution of 25 million korunas (€973,087) to a joint project of the Visegrád Four countries and Germany in Morocco. The plan is to increase Morocco’s border protection capacity. The remaining 15 million korunas (€583,494) are for emergencies.

    According to preliminary data from Frontex, 124,000 migrants and refugees arrived in Europe last year, amounting to a 13-percent decrease compared to the previous year. According to the Interior Ministry, this was mainly a consequence of measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Frontex’s data shows that citizens of Syria, Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria were those arriving in Europe most often.

    The money from the Medevac program will be used in Iraq to improve access to reproductive, maternity, postpartum, and neonatal health care in western Mosul decimated by war. In Mauritania, the financial aid will support a project targeting patients from the Mbera refugee camp. In Nigeria, the money will go into rehabilitation and orthopedic services.”

  23. THIS IS QUITE FUNNY – BABYLON BEE

    To Save Time, The Babylon Bee Will Now Just Republish Everything Biden Says Verbatim.

    We at The Babylon Bee realized we were spending all this time trying to satirize Joe Biden when, frankly, he just can’t be satirized. He’s doing all the hard work for us with statements like “You ain’t black!” and, of gun violence, that “150 million people have been killed since 2007.”

    Every day is a real grind when we arrive at the sprawling Babylon Bee headquarters, settle in on our throne of Chick-fil-A sandwiches, and boot up the ol’ PC to check what Biden said over the past 24 hours. We’re tired of trying to out-parody things like “I got hairy legs that turn blonde in the sun and the kids used to reach in the pool and rub my leg down and watch the hair come back up again” and “Corn Pop was a bad dude.”

    Like, what do you do with that? Seriously. Go ahead. Try to satirize it. Anything you do just doesn’t have that perfect mix of absurdity and reality that makes satire work so effective at communicating truth. So we’re throwing in the towel.

    AND there is more FUNNY here: https://babylonbee.com/news/biden-offered-position-as-staff-writer-at-the-babylon-bee

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