Reader’s Links for February 26, 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

102 Replies to “Reader’s Links for February 26, 2021”

  1. UK Knife Crime Hits Record High Under Tories, as Over 50K Offences Logged in One Year (breitbart, Feb 26, 2021)

    “Knife crime in Britain has doubled in the previous six years, rising above 50,000 incidents in a one-year period in England and Wales for the first time in the recorded history.

    The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that in the year leading up to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s imposition of the first coronavirus lockdown, crimes involving a knife or a sharp weapon rose by six per cent, up from 47,388 to 50,019. This latest figure is more than double the 23,945 offences recorded in 2014, the point at which the general historical trend of crime falling went into reverse.

    The report found that 44 per cent of the knife crimes (22,012) were violent assaults, and 44 per cent (21,961) were robberies, which rose from 18,518 to 20,196 in the year leading up to March of 2020

    Homicides, in general, rose by seven per cent, with 695 people losing their lives in violent attacks. Figures from the Home Office revealed that during the same time period, there were 4,344 threats to kill with a knife, representing a 22 per cent jump over the year before.

    As Breitbart London has reported in the past, murders have not risen as dramatically as other crimes not because streets are getting safer, but because urban hospitals are becoming more adept at saving the lives of people who would have otherwise died of their wounds, even in the recent past. A 2018 study found that improving hospital care had the impact of converting hundreds of would-be murders into attempted murders or other lesser crimes instead.

    The rise of serious, non-murder crimes illustrate that change. The latest ONS figures reveal sexual assaults with knives rose by over 25 per cent, from 156 to 196, however, rapes committed with knives fell by 8 per cent to 483.

    The Conservative government’s minister for crime and policing, Kit Malthouse told The Times: “Too many young lives are being needlessly lost. We are working closely with the police and others to stop this senseless bloodshed, particularly as Covid restrictions are eased over coming months.

    “We are making sure the police have the resources and support they need, including bolstering their ranks with 20,000 new officers. At the same time, the government is investing millions into Violence Reduction Units to tackle the root causes of violent crime, while our £200 million Youth Endowment Fund supports vital projects that steer young people away from a life of crime.”

    Nevertheless, the Conservatives have been in power — at first in coalition and then governing alone — for over a decade, during which time this recent six-year crime surge wholly took place.

    Under consecutive Conservative governments between 2010 and 2018, the number of officers in the country fell by over 21,000 in England and Wales, meaning that despite “bolstering” the ranks with 20,000 additional cops, it will still be lower than when the Tories came into power.

    The period of Conservative rule has also seen an increased emphasis placed on the policing of so-called hate offences, with police recording some 120,000 non-crime hate incidents since the implementation of the scheme in 2015.

    Last week, a police force in Merseyside embarked on a public “hate crime awareness event”, in which they appeared in a local car park with a van that wrongly stated: “Being Offensive is an Offence”.

    In response, Brexit leader Nigel Farage questioned: “Are there no problems with gun or knife crime in Merseyside then?”

    Mr Farage has long decried the focus on political correctness as opposed to actual policing of violent crime, saying in 2018: “Political correctness has directly led to the murder rate going up in London,” pointing to London Mayor Sadiq Khan and then-Prime Minister Theresa May’s focus on “hate crime”.

    Perhaps one of the reasons why the Conservative governments have so far failed to meaningfully tackle key issues to base voters such as migration and knife crime has been — with the exception of Mr Farage in recent years — the lack of any credible opposition party to hold them to account for their failings.

    An article from Samuel Earle in the New Republic this week noted that during the 200-year history of the Conservative Party, only four of the nineteen leaders who stood for elections failed to win at least one time. Conversely, the Labour Party, which was founded in 1900, only four leaders have won an election.

    “Rarely has a political party wielded so much power, for so long, with so little accountability,” Earle noted, add: “If elections in Britain tend to take one of two forms, “kick them out” or “let’s keep going,” the Conservative Party’s trick is to appear as the answer to both, as it suits: the brave challengers of the status quo and its brave defenders, always rescuing the nation from a Labour threat that never quite materializes.””

  2. Sweden: Migrant-Background Rapists Make Up Majority of Attackers (breitbart, Feb 26, 2021)

    “The Lund University found the majority of convicted rapists in Sweden are of migrant backgrounds and nearly half of rapists born abroad in a landmark study which is one of the first of its kind in the high-migration level nation.

    The study, which was published online on February 22nd, looked at a total of 3,039 convicted rapists and found that 59.3 per cent of the convicts came from ‘migrant backgrounds’ — first and second-generation migrants.

    For those offenders born outside of Sweden — 47.8 per cent in total — 34.5 per cent came from the North African and Middle Eastern region, while 19.1 per cent came from sub-Saharan Africa.

    Just under a third of the offenders, or 32.5 per cent, were on some form of government welfare programme, while 38.6 per cent were said to have low levels of education.

    The authors of the study noted the paper came across a background of rising levels of rape in Sweden and lamented the lack of other research on the backgrounds of convicted rapists saying, “Unfortunately, studies on rape offenders’ characteristics in a Swedish context are absent and, as far as we are aware, there is only one previous study, which has evaluated this issue in regard to adult male-on-female rape offenders.”

    The other study cited, a 2020 study from researchers at Malmo University, looked exclusively at cases in the city of Malmo but also gound that the majority of rapists, 71 per cent, were from migrant backgrounds as well.

    “Our findings are of particular importance for crime preventive efforts. Very little, however, is known about the association between rape and different contextual factors among immigrants in Sweden,” the authors said and called for more studies to better understand the issue.

    As early as 2017, Breitbart News reported on the overrepresentation of migrants in case of gang rape, with research indicating that 85 per cent of those involved in gang rapes were foreign in origin.

    A year later, Swedish newspaper Expressen reported that almost every man convicted of gang rape from 2016 and 2017 had a migrant background.

    The study was followed just months later by another report, this time published by newspaper Aftonbladet, that confirmed the vast over-representation of migrants in gang rape cases.

    Sweden was one of the most enthusiastic adopters of mass migration during the mid-2010s Europe Migrant Crisis, a significant event in the nation’s history which has radically altered the constitution of the country. A nation of just ten million souls, Sweden issued 1.2 million residency permits to new migrants in ten years, meaning that by 2020 one fifth of all ‘Swedes’ were foreign-born.”

  3. twitter disclosetv

    JUST IN – John Durham to resign from the U.S. Attorney’s Office effective at midnight on February 28.

    Durham was appointed as Special Counsel in October.

    Department of Justice
    U.S. Attorney’s Office
    District of Connecticut

    U.S. Attorney Durham Announces Departure from Office

    After serving as the United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut for more than three years, and as a federal prosecutor in Connecticut for more than 38 years, John H. Durham today announced his resignation from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, effective at midnight on February 28.

    “My career has been as fulfilling as I could ever have imagined when I graduated from law school way back in 1975,” said U.S. Attorney Durham. “Much of that fulfillment has come from all the people with whom I’ve been blessed to share this workplace, and in our partner law enforcement agencies. My love and respect for this Office and the vitally important work done here have never diminished. It has been a tremendous honor to serve as U.S. Attorney, and as a career prosecutor before that, and I will sorely miss it.”

    Prior to his appointment as an interim U.S. Attorney in November 2017 and subsequently as the presidentially appointed U.S. Attorney in February 2018, Mr. Durham served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in various positions in the District of Connecticut for 35 years, prosecuting complex organized crime, violent crime, public corruption and financial fraud matters. From 1978 to 1982, he served as an Assistant State’s Attorney in the New Haven State’s Attorney’s Office, and from 1977 to 1978, he served as a Deputy Assistant State’s Attorney in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney.

    First Assistant U.S. Attorney Leonard C Boyle will serve as Acting U.S. Attorney upon Mr. Durham’s departure.

    “The Office will be in the extraordinarily capable hands of Len and our superb supervisory team who, together, guarantee that the proper administration of justice will continue uninterrupted in our District.”

    Mr. Boyle has served as First Assistant U.S. Attorney since June 2018, when he returned to the U.S. Attorney’s Office after serving as Deputy Chief State’s Attorney in Connecticut for approximately nine years. He previously served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office from 1986 to 1998, and from 1999 to 2004.

    Mr. Boyle is the 53rd U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, an office that was established in 1789.

    The U.S. Attorney’s Office is charged with enforcing federal criminal laws in Connecticut and representing the federal government in civil litigation. The Office is composed of approximately 68 Assistant U.S. Attorneys and approximately 54 staff members at offices in New Haven, Hartford and Bridgeport.


    the gateway pundit – WE GOT SCAMMED! … BREAKING: John Durham Resigns – Effective February 28th — Before Biden AG Takes Office

  4. REVEALED: Biden NatSec Advisor Claimed Al Qaeda Was ‘On Our Side’.

    President Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan emailed then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Al-Qaeda was “on our side” during the Obama administration.

    The email, released via WikiLeaks, came amidst the escalation of the Syrian Civil War when Jake Sullivan was Director of Policy Planning in the Obama White House.

    Now the National Security Adviser to President Biden, Sullivan revealed that Al-Qaeda was “on our side” in Syria.

    In full, the email to Clinton entitled SPOT REPORT 02/12/II reads:

    See last item – AQ is on our side in Syria.

    Otherwise, things have basically turned out as expected.×483.jpeg×900

  5. Washington (CNN)The Biden administration has paused arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as it conducts a wider review of agreements worth billions of dollars made by the Trump administration, sources familiar with the matter told CNN Wednesday.
    Secretary of State Tony Blinken confirmed that pending arms sales are under review, as is typical at the start of a new administration, “to make sure that what is being considered is something that advances our strategic objectives, and advances our foreign policy.”
    He did not reference any specific sales or countries in his remarks, which were made at his first State Department news conference as top US diplomat.
    The move to freeze the pending sales to the Gulf allies could signal a change in approach by the Biden administration after the Trump administration approved major sales in the last months of its tenure.

  6. Argentina just made inter-sectional feminism a mandatory part of all driver’s license tests

    Contents to be taught and tested in the new driver’s license test, as listed in the law:

    Gender. Roles and stereotypes. Gender identity. Gender violence, types and modalities of violence. Masculinities: patriarchy and heteronormativity. Myths about violence. Femicides, transvesticides, transfemicides and hate crimes. Resources, tools and ways of approaching violence in the driving of motor vehicles and in transportation. Access and participation of women and diversities in the transport sector.

  7. Deutsche Pravda – EU coronavirus summit: Vaccine certificates expected by summer

    European Union leaders have met virtually to hash out coronavirus issues. Progress was promised on vaccines, though questions remain over border closings and travel.

    Leaders from the European Union’s (EU) 27-member states came to together for a virtual summit on Thursday with the aim of solving pressing coronavirus-related health and logistical problems confronting the bloc.

    Member state politicians used the meeting to discuss approaches to speeding up the delivery of vaccines, the implementation and use of vaccine passports and the potential for conflict arising from national border closings.

    Perhaps the most important short-term announcement to emerge from the meeting was that of “convergence” around the concept of a vaccine passport.

    Speaking at a press conference alongside European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel said Europeans and their leaders “need to face the truth” about the difficulty of the task at hand but said hope was on the horizon.

    Commission President von der Leyen, too, stressed progress made so far, noting that 8% of the bloc’s adult population had already been vaccinated.

    Vaccine certificates within three months

    One of the more contentious issues EU leaders tackled was that of digital vaccine passports for those who have been vaccinated. Southern EU states such as Greece, Spain and Italy — all heavily or entirely dependent on tourism — believe such a scheme could ease air travel, helping them avoid a repeat of last year’s disastrous summer holiday season.

    Northern neighbors have been reluctant to buy in amid concerns about discrimination and whether people who have been vaccinated can still carry the virus.

    In the evening press conference, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there was consensus on having the certificates, but not precisely how they should be used.

    “Everyone agreed that we need a digital vaccination certificate,” the German chancellor said. She added that the certificates could be available by summer, as the bloc needs three months to create a technical framework.

    She stressed, however, that the creation of the certificates “does not mean that only those who have a vaccination passport are allowed to travel.”

    Von der Leyen cited Israel’s work tracking and documenting a person’s vaccination history on so-called Green Passes while stressing the importance of maintaining the functionality of the European single market.

    Though there is no unanimity as yet about what kind of card or cards might be used and recognized across the bloc, von der Leyen spoke of a minimum data system and said the European Commission was working to create a “gateway for interoperability between nations.”

    Von der Leyen said member states would “have to act fast” if the program was to be implemented by summer.

    Belgian Member of European Parliament (MEP) Marc Botenga told DW that granting freedom of movement rights based on health status could be a “slippery slope” for the bloc.

    “It’s even more questionable as long as people don’t have access to the vaccine,” he said.

    “Let’s guarantee, first, that people get the vaccine, and then we can debate on what kind of stamps or cards or whatever we want.”

    Boosting vaccine drives

    Much has been written about the slow and at times seemingly hapless vaccination programs being rolled out across the EU. Delivery and supply shortages as well as unflattering comparisons to the relative speed of roll outs in the UK and US only underscore the fact that the EU and its member states are lagging in the race to inoculate citizens.

    The bloc blames pharmaceutical companies for being woefully unable to fill massive vaccine orders but hope that production and delivery will finally hit stride in April. It is also possible that the new, single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine will have been approved by then.

    Here, too, von der Leyen underscored tough talks the EU had with suppliers and noted her confidence that companies would soon be up to speed.

    “The first task,” she said, “is to achieve widespread vaccination. We should maintain our utmost efforts so the pace of vaccination picks up. More than 50 million of doses will have been delivered to the EU by Monday. More than 29 million have been administered as of today. That is 6.4% of the whole population and if you subtract children and teenagers, it is 8% of the adult population.”

    Trying to stay ahead of variants

    There is fear that coronavirus mutations may wipe out the jump scientists seemed to have had on the virus just a few short weeks ago. To date, the virus has killed more than 531,000 people in the EU.

    Von der Leyen addressed that issue, stressing the work the EU is doing to remain ahead of the curve. She cited the EU’s support for vaccine research, a clinical trial network for vaccines and vaccine sharing programs that will ensure doses do not go to waste.

    She specifically singled out another EU project, the HERA incubator (an acronym for the European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority), as key in the fight against virus mutations. First announced last week, the device allows scientists to sequence the genomes of a virus and develop specific tests in order to track changes.

    Plenty of wrangling to come over cards and privileges

    On Thursday, lawmakers appear to have threaded two needles by generally agreeing to work toward reducing production and delivery bottlenecks while at the same time easing criticism of contentious national border closings.

    The bloc officially admonished Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary and Sweden over such closings, giving them one week to respond to EU criticism of their national policies.

    Leaders warn no quick end to restrictions

    EU leaders say the pandemic is far from over and as long as vaccination remains slow, tight restrictions on social interaction and travel remain valid.

    “We must therefore uphold tight restrictions while stepping up efforts to accelerate the provision of vaccines.”

    Operating with the knowledge that no one is safe until the virus has been eradicated everywhere, European politicians also discussed the United Nations-back vaccination program COVAX noting the urgent need to get viruses to countries in need, namely in Africa but also in the Balkans.

    Both von der Leyen and Michel laid great emphasis on the EU’s generosity when it comes to its support for the global COVAX network to ensure poorer countries access to vaccines. The EU is the program’s biggest donor.

  8. reuters – Canada pension fund boss Machin quits after overseas trip for COVID shot

    (Reuters) – The head of Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), Mark Machin, has resigned after his trip to the United Arab Emirates for vaccination against COVID-19 flouted Canadian government’s travel advice and drew criticism.

    CPPIB on Friday named John Graham, currently senior managing director and global head of credit investments, as the new chief executive officer of the country’s largest pension fund.

    Machin, 54, becomes the second senior Canadian corporate executive to resign after attempting to jump vaccine queue, underscoring the frustration among some about the country’s slow vaccine roll out.

    “It was a complete lapse of moral judgment which risked undermining people’s trust both in government policy and the stewardship of their public pension provision,” said David Wheeler, a former business professor at York University, adding that “clearly he had to go immediately”.

    Machin received Pfizer’s PFE.N vaccine shot after arriving in the UAE with his partner this month, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, adding he had stayed on in the UAE and was due to receive his second dose in coming weeks.

    “We are very disappointed by this troubling situation and we support the swift action taken by the Board of Directors,” Kat Cuplinskas, press secretary for Canada’s ministry of finance.

    CPPIB, which manages C$475.7 billion ($377 billion), is governed independently from the federal government but it reports to a board of directors selected by Canada’s minister of finance. It manages Canada’s national pension fund and invests on behalf of about 20 million Canadians.

    Machin did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

    Machin, after discussions with the Board, agreed the most appropriate step was to tender his resignation, Michel Leduc, senior managing director and head of public affairs and communications said in a statement to Reuters.


    Machin sent an internal memo to CPPIB staff acknowledging that he took a personal trip and was in Dubai for a number of reasons, some of which were “deeply personal”, the source said.

    Machin also said in the memo that the trip was supposed to be “very private” and that he was disappointed it had become the focus of “expected criticism”, according to the source.

    Although there is no specific ban on Canadians traveling abroad, the federal and provincial governments have advised against overseas trips to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

    Canada trails behind many developed nations in its vaccination drive, with under 3% of the population inoculated so far.

    The UAE says it provides COVID-19 vaccinations to residents and citizens only, free of charge, and requires a valid residency identification card to receive the shots. It was not immediately clear how Machin, a British national, secured the vaccine by traveling to Dubai.

    Machin worked with Goldman Sachs for 20 years before joining CPPIB in March 2012. He was appointed as president and CEO in 2016.

    Under Machin, CPPIB reported net return of 3.1% for the year ended March 31, 2020, down from 8.9% a year earlier. Machin was paid C$5.4 million ($4.25 million) in 2020, according to CCPIB’s annual report.

    Incoming CEO Graham has been with CPPIB for 10 years. Prior to that he was with Xerox Innovation Group for over nine years.

    Some Canadian federal and provincial leaders have resigned in the past month after their overseas leisure trips sparked public outrage.

    Last Month, Great Canadian Gaming Corp CEO Rod Baker resigned after he and his wife were charged with traveling to northern Canada and misleading authorities in order to receive the vaccine.


    WSJ – behind paywall

  9. Nine Gendarmes Killed in Central Mali Attack

    “Nine gendarmes were killed in an attack near the central Malian town of Bandiagara, in an area where jihadist groups are rampant, a military official said on Friday.

    Military and local officials had earlier spoken of a death toll of eight, in the attack on a gendarmerie post which took place on Thursday night.

    Nine Malian gendarmes were also wounded, five of them seriously, according to a military official who declined to be named.

    The gendarmerie is a police unit that is under the command of the military…”

  10. Official Hails Iran’s Victory in Economic War

    “Chief of staff of the Iranian president highlighted the country’s success to overcome the economic sanctions, saying the enemies have admitted that the policy of maximum pressure on Iran has ended in failure.

    In comments on Friday, Mahmoud Vaezi said Iran has successfully dealt with three years pf pressures and unprecedented economic war imposed by the enemies.

    Those who imposed sanctions on Iran admit that the policy of maximum pressure has failed, he added…”

  11. 5 Protesters Die, Dozens Injured in Clashes in Iraq’s Nasiriyah

    “At least five protesters were killed and more than 175 people injured on Friday in clashes between demonstrators and security forces in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah, a Reuters witness and other sources said.

    Among the fatalities, most of the protesters died from bullet wounds, a hospital source said, adding that about 120 protesters were wounded, reported Reuters. At least 57 members of the security forces were injured, according to another hospital source and a security source.

    The clashes continued on Friday evening after a week of violence that erupted on Sunday when security forces fired to disperse protesters, who were trying to storm the provincial government building using rocks and Molotov cocktails.

    Protesters are demanding the removal of the governor and justice for protesters who killed since 2019…”

  12. Arab Coalition Destroys 2 Houthi Drones Fired at Saudi Arabia

    “The Saudi-led Arab coalition announced on Friday that it had destroyed two armed drones fired by the Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen towards the Kingdom.

    Coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki said the terrorist Houthis deliberately fired the aircraft at civilian locations in Saudi Arabia.

    He condemned Houthis for their persistent attacks, which he said amounted to war crimes.

    The coalition is taking all the necessary measures to protect civilians in line with international humanitarian law, he stressed.

    Organization of Islamic Cooperation Secretary-General Dr. Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen strongly condemned the terrorist Houthis’ renewed attempt to attack the Kingdom.

    He stressed that the OIC stands by Saudi Arabia and supports all the measures it takes to safeguard its security and stability.”

  13. US court rejects motion to drop charges against alleged Saudi spy

    “A federal judge in the US state of California has refused to dismiss charges against former Twitter employee Ahmad Abouammo, who is accused of spying for Saudi Arabia. The judge also rejected the motion submitted by the defence, in which his lawyer demanded dropping the other charges against his client.

    Abouammo, a duel US-Lebanese citizen and father of three, was the manager of media partnerships for Twitter’s Middle East and North Africa region between November 2013 and May 2015. He faces 23 criminal charges, including the use of his inside access to Twitter, obtaining information about two Saudi oppositionists without authorisation and handing it over in exchange for funds and gifts.

    The defendant is also accused of lying to the FBI as he provided forged documents to show that the money he received from a Saudi official was not a bribe.

    The Saudi citizen faces charges of acting as an agent of a foreign government without a license, conspiring, fraud and money laundering.

    The case file indicates that Abouammo received money from a high-ranking Saudi official to access Twitter’s internal systems, track down dissidents and reveal their addresses and phone numbers.

    Abouammo faces 20 years in prison and a fine that may exceed $600,000 if convicted.”

  14. Turkey draws nearly $1bn direct investment from Italy

    “Turkey saw nearly $1 billion foreign direct investment (FDI) flowing into the country from Italy in 2020, the head of the Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said yesterday.

    Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Livio Manzini said despite the pandemic, there was not a significant drop in bilateral trade between the two countries, adding Italy continued its status of being the second-biggest trading partner of Turkey in Europe.

    “No doubt, we can expect a new momentum in Italian investments in Turkey in 2021,” he said, adding areas such as energy, automotive and environment are emerging for collaboration.

    He noted both countries aim to get production back to normal and to reach the mutual trade of $20 billion again, and then to achieve a new growth momentum towards the target of $30 billion.

    Turkish products stand out with their quality, price and logistical advantages, he stressed.

    Manzini also commented on the recent developments between the EU and Turkey, saying Italy “is pleased to see re-rapprochement activities being initiated with the bloc.”

    This process will bring many opportunities to Turkish exporters, he said, hoping the process will accelerate in the upcoming period.”

  15. Turkey and US share Russian defence system captured in Libya

    “A captured Russian-built missile defence system which was reported last month to have been taken by the US military is now said to have been shared between the US and Turkey, according to Libyan officials.

    In a report last month by the Times in London, the truck-mounted Pantsir S-1 missile battery – made by Russia and given to the UAE, which then gave it to Khalifa Haftar’s forces in eastern Libya – was captured by militants affiliated to the Libyan government when they captured Al-Watiya Air Base in May last year.

    It was then recovered from a Daesh-affiliated militia commander after he seized it briefly, before reportedly being collected by a US Air Force cargo plane and sent to the Ramstein Air Base in Germany as part of a covert operation.

    The Paris-based Africa Report, however, yesterday cited anonymous Libyan officials who said that instead of being sent to Germany under US control, the Pantsir system was actually sent to the Mitiga International Airport in Tripoli where it was seized by Turkish forces.

    Washington and Ankara then argued over who should keep the system, which had been captured intact rather than destroyed by Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones like many other Pantsir batteries in Libya. While the US said that it should extract the system so as not to let it fall into the hands of extremists, Turkey insisted that it should have custody of it in order to study it in detail.

    Both NATO members are thought to have had the same aim of studying the Russian Pantsir system and hacking into its technology. In the end, they agreed to study the system jointly, with the US using its cargo plane to deliver it to Turkey last June where both sides could work on it together, according to the officials cited by Africa Report.

    That agreement was a relief for senior figures in the Libyan government such as Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj and Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha. One official said that they “felt like children in a divorce” as they were dragged into the dispute.

    Last month, a Russian official said that it was useless to study the system as the captured Pantsir was one of many export versions that are stripped of a confidential identification database to hide transponder codes for all jets in the Russian air force.

    The saga of the captured Pantsir system and the Turkey-US deal is said to be part of the effort to repairs relations between the NATO partners, which have been strained over the past few years due to Ankara’s purchase of a Russian S-400 air defence system. There have been no signs, however, that relations have improved since last year.”

  16. Scores of Yemen refugees arrive in Somalia

    “Scores of Yemeni refugees, mostly women and children, arrived in Somalia’s coastal city of Bosaso, Somali authorities announced on Wednesday, according to the Yemen Shabab, an independent website.

    This is the third boatful of Yemeni refugees to arrive in Somalia. It had 164 families on board.

    Somali authorities said that the refugees will undergo medical checkups before they are distributed between the cities of Bosaso and Qardho.

    Bosaso is home to the largest Yemeni community in the country due to its proximity to Yemen.

    Impoverished Yemen has been beset by violence and chaos since 2014, when the Houthis overran much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa. The crisis escalated in 2015 when a Saudi-led military coalition launched a devastating air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi territorial gains…”

  17. Iran awakens African sleeper cells

    “By using every possible means to achieve its illegitimate and illegal goals in Africa, Iran has not been reluctant to support outlawed groups and militias in countries suffering from political and social instability. It has done this either with the aim of taking revenge on its opponents by striking their domestic interests or threatening their national security.

    It has not stopped tempting or even forcing the governments of unstable countries to ally themselves with it and distance themselves from hostile countries, as well as trying to exploit their natural resources, sell industrial products in their markets and open them up to Iranian companies.

    The latest example has taken the form of American and Israeli sources reporting that Iran has been activating sleeper cells in Africa in order to achieve its goal of revenge for the killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guard foreign operations official Qassem Al-Suleimani in an American strike and the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a former official of the Amad programme for producing nuclear weapons in Iran.

    The report, published by the New York Times in mid-February, reveals that the Ethiopian intelligence service thwarted a major attack in the capital Addis Ababa at the beginning of the month by arresting a cell of 15 individuals targeting the United Arab Emirates Embassy in the city in addition to finding a cache of weapons and explosives.

    US and Israeli officials said that Iran had orchestrated the operation and that its intelligence apparatus had activated a terrorist sleeper cell in Addis Ababa since last autumn, giving it orders to collect intelligence information about the US and Israel embassies there.

    Israeli officials explained that at least three of the detained cell members might be real Iranian agents and that the remaining 12 are linked to the aforementioned network.

    To find out who was behind the plot, according to The New York Times, the 16th element in the cell, named Ahmed Ismail and accused of being its leader, was arrested in Sweden in cooperation between African, Asian and European intelligence services, according to the Ethiopian authorities.

    Director of African Intelligence at the Pentagon in the US Heidi Berg said that Iran was behind the 15 elements and that the so-called “Ahmed Ismail” was the mastermind of the failed plot, adding that the Ethiopian and Swedish authorities had cooperated in thwarting it.

    American and Israeli sources interpreted the failed Iranian operation in Ethiopia as being part of an expanded campaign to search for easy targets in African countries in order to inflict heavy and painful losses in retaliation for the killing of Al-Suleimani and the assassination of Fakhrizadeh.

    The National Intelligence and Security Service in Ethiopia also revealed that a second group of conspirators had been preparing to attack the Emirati Embassy in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, then confirmed by a Sudanese official.

    A high-ranking US defence official linked the arrests in Addis Ababa and the failed Iranian plan to assassinate the US Ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks. The matter was published by the American magazine Politico last September.

    Israeli officials said that the Iranian apparatus responsible for the failed attack on the Iranian opposition conference in France in June 2018 and for another conspiracy during the same year in Denmark was also responsible for orchestrating the failed operation in the Ethiopian capital.

    Farzin Nadimi, an expert on Iranian military affairs at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank, said that Iran “may wish to send a message to the new [American] administration that if it does not succeed in reaching a speedy agreement with the Iranian government on the Iranian nuclear programme, this is what they will face.”

    OTHER ATTEMPTS: The Ethiopian operation was not the only Iranian attempt of its kind, as the US Foreign Policy magazine reported in July last year, that Somalia had become a new arena for Iran to play a subversive role in the region.

    It quoted senior Somali government officials to the effect that Tehran’s interests in the Horn of Africa included establishing secret relations with the militant Al-Shabaab (Youth) group. It added that this relationship extended to targets outside Somalia, such as using such extremist groups to transfer weapons to the Houthi rebels in Yemen and to groups in other countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, South Sudan, Mozambique, and the Central African Republic.

    The magazine referred to attacks in 2019 and 2020 on US military bases in Somalia and northern Kenya and on a European Union military convoy in Mogadishu. Al-Shabaab carried out an attack in January 2020 on the Simba camp in northern Kenya, killing three Americans two days after the American raid in which Al-Suleimani and other leaders were killed.

    It explained that Tehran had been able to attract extremist networks to work alongside it by providing money to recruit Somalis and expand its network of clients in the region. It quoted Somali officials as saying that the Iranian operations were led by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and enhanced by relations established by its affiliate the Al-Quds Force with extremist groups and criminal networks in Somalia.

    The magazine added that Tehran was using its influence in Somalia to smuggle Iranian oil and sell it cheaply in Africa to avoid US sanctions. Somalia severed diplomatic relations with Iran in 2016 after it accused Tehran of interfering in its internal affairs and threatening its national security.

    In June 2019, the British newspaper the Daily Telegraph quoted Western officials as saying that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard had formed networks of sleeper cells to attack American and European targets such as embassies, foreign military bases and foreign employees in Africa under the supervision of the 400th Unit of the Al-Quds Force.

    It quoted research reports saying that the Revolutionary Guard had sleeper cells in a number of Sub-Saharan African countries and that it could use them against Western interests and turn these countries into a battlefield against Iran’s regional and international enemies.

    In April 2019, one such network was exposed in Chad and the Central African Republic, whose members had received training in camps run by Iran, according to British officials. Four years before, a network of two Iranians and others who had plotted bombings in Nairobi, Kenya, was also exposed.

    Research-centre papers have reported that Iran is spending billions of dollars in Africa in the form of free social services such as hospitals, orphanages and religious schools in a bid to extend its control over an area thousands of kilometres away from it.

    The means of pressure and blackmail used by Tehran have included spreading the Shiite doctrine in Islamic societies known for their adherence to the Sunni sect, such as Sudan and Nigeria. Some five years ago, Khartoum nearly had to close Iranian cultural centres in the country for this reason, and Abuja decided to ban the Shiite Islamic Movement loyal to Tehran in August 2019 after accusing it of being “an enemy” amid fears that Nigeria could become an arena of conflict between Sunnis and Shiites.

    The office of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari declared that the reason for banning the movement was “the control of militants who do not believe in peaceful protest but are inclined to violence” to achieve their goals.

    The Shiite Movement in Nigeria, founded nearly four decades ago, calls for the establishment of an Islamic state based on the Iranian model in Nigeria, and it has taken former Iranian leader Ruhollah Khomeini as a role model, swearing allegiance to him at the beginning of meetings and before its leader sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky.

    The movement does not recognise the authority of the Nigerian government and considers that government officials, whether Christians or Muslims, are corrupt and illegal. It runs a network of schools and hospitals in the north of the country, where most Nigerian Muslims live, and many of its members hold important positions in the country’s army, police and intelligence.

    Jacob Zen, an analyst at the Jamestown Research Foundation in the US, said that the Shiite Movement in Nigeria had lightly armed military brigades similar to those of the Lebanese Shia group Hizbullah in Lebanon and a newspaper that provided photographs of Khomeini and others at its headquarters and in its demonstrations.

    The movement can mobilise tens of thousands of supporters at its rallies. The number of Shiites in Nigeria was negligible before the Iranian Islamic Revolution, when they constituted between five and 17 per cent of the total.

    What confirmed Tehran’s link with the Nigerian Movement was the outbreak of protests in Iran and elsewhere to demand the release of Zakzaky when he was arrested in Nigeria and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s contact with his Nigerian counterpart following deaths in the 2015 protests.

    Interventions by countries from outside Africa such as Iran to support extremist groups that create unrest and pursue violence and terrorism on the continent have prompted Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi to demand that we “deal decisively and collectively with states that sponsor terrorism”.

    He said at the Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development in Africa in December 2019 that “we will only be able to confront terrorism with collective action, and we must deal decisively with countries that support and sponsor terrorism. Terrorist groups will not have the ability to spread terror unless they are provided with material, military and moral support.”

    He also stressed that achieving sustainable development in Africa was required, as well as efforts to confront armed groups in Egypt and the Sub-Saharan African countries…”

  18. Turkey slams Dutch government’s recognition of 1915 events

    “Turkey on Feb. 25 slammed a decision by the Dutch House of Representatives to recognize the 1915 events as “genocide” against Armenians.

    Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy said the decision and calling on the government to recognize the events of 1915 as genocide is a null attempt to rewrite history with political motives.

    “Councils are not venues to write history and trial it. Those who agree with this decision, instead of looking for what actually happened in 1915, are after votes as a populist,” Aksoy said.

    He invited the signatories of the decision to examine the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948 and the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.

    “We invite you to support the efforts for a better understanding of a historical issue,” he said, adding that Turkey’s proposal for a joint History Commission, which was not answered by Armenia, was one of these efforts.

    He said the Dutch House of Representatives is detached from reality as it has been frequently in recent years.

    Aksoy invited the Dutch government to wage a struggle against racism, Islamophobia and xenophobia rather than discriminatory practices leading to the resignation of the government and instead of taking decisions against Turkey.”

  19. The difficulties of being gay in Iran

    “According to a new UN report, gays who come out in Iran do so at their own peril. Their only recourse is often political asylum.

    Police in Iran enter a young man’s apartment looking for signs of “misconduct.” They rummage through his laundry and check his computer. The young man, who goes by the name of Sahand, stands accused of violating the laws of the Islamic Republic — a relative reported him to police after finding him in bed with another man.

    “It was terrible,” Sahand told DW. “Right after they found us my father was there screaming at me and telling me I ruined his life. He wanted nothing more to do with me and never wanted to see me again. The police came a while later. My mom then called my sister, who I had earlier confided in.”

    Sahand later found out from his sister that it was a relative who had betrayed him. After his apartment and his life were turned upside down, it became perfectly clear to him that he had to flee Iran. While studying abroad, he had the opportunity to travel to Europe, where he applied for asylum. He has been living in Germany for a year now and hopes his asylum application will be approved.

    UN report on persecution of sexual minorities
    According to the latest report by Ahmed Shaheed, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, there is great reason for concern. Iran’s gay, lesbian, bi- and transgender communities face both widespread discrimination and ongoing human rights violations, the report said. “High-ranking officials” said Shaheed, “use hateful rhetoric when talking about gays, referring to them as sub-human or just plain sick.”

    Under certain circumstances, those convicted of having gay sex can face the death penalty, while others caught kissing, holding hands, or just caressing, can receive public lashings. The UN official said that by criminalizing consensual sex, the authorities in the Islamic Republic have legitimized violence against gays by both public officials and private citizens. He said such violence includes “torture, blows to the body, and even rape carried out by law enforcement agencies and vigilante groups.”

    Gays, lesbians, and bi-sexual Iranians are the victims of arbitrary justice in Iran and don’t expect fair trials for those accused of wrongdoing, says the UN official.

    Iran’s gays seek refuge in Germany
    Tehran’s repressive policies against LGBT groups are no big secret internationally says Patrick Dörr, a coordinator with the Queer Refugees Project in Germany. “Many queers who’ve fled Iran talk about threats of violence they’ve had to endure and not just by members of their own families but also by the Iranian police.”

    He said there have often been cases of lesbian woman and gay men being forced to have gender reassignment surgery. Gay men have also suffered though procedures tantamount to gender mutilation under the mistaken assumption that they were actually women. As one can imagine, the psychological consequences of these interventions are devastating for those affected,” says Dörr.

    What bothered him the most was the feeling of shame, says Ali, whose name has been changed. While speaking with DW, he says he, too, fears reprisals and has applied for asylum in Germany. Like Sahand, he lives in a facility set up to assist LGBT-refugees in Germany.

    Shame and invisible wounds
    “When I was a kid, my cousin and I were playing and we pretended to get married with me as the bride. When my father saw me he was so mad that he took a knife, heated it over the stove and burned a mark into my forearm.” To this day, the long scar on Ali’s arm is still present.

    “I was never allowed to play the bride again, because I was a boy had to behave like a boy. My father is actually very well-educated and not even religious but still wants a masculine son. He’d rather see me dead than gay.”

    Ali hid his homosexuality for years. “I was ashamed and asked myself why I wasn’t like the others. I’ve been stressed out my whole life. When I was young I went to a therapist but just before our therapy sessions were supposed to begin I was in a bad accident and almost died. That’s when things changed. That’s when I told myself I had been given a second chance. I wanted to live the way I wanted to live. I stopped therapy and accepted the fact that I was gay.”

    Of course it was difficult: “All minorities in Iran have problems. But people like us aren’t just sentenced to death by the state, their souls also die a thousand deaths each day for having to pretend they are someone they’re not. They are judged each and every day yet their wounds are invisible.”

    Sahand agrees and says the level of social ostracism gays face in Iran is enormous. “I too went into therapy after a sister gave me the name of a female therapist. And I was lucky. After three, four appointments she told me that I had homosexual tendencies and that I would only be happy if I accepted that I’m gay. And that’s what I did. But it’s difficult. I haven’t spoken with my father since our fight. I’m still in contact with both of my sisters and through them I have loose contact with my mom.””

  20. Big Tech ‘Aiding’ Beijing in Its Push for Global Dominance, Sen. Blackburn Says
    By Bowen Xiao
    February 26, 2021 Updated: February 26, 2021
    biggersmaller Print

    Big tech companies are “aiding” the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in achieving its goal of being a global superpower, said Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) during day two of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)—the largest annual conservative conference.

    Blackburn was speaking Friday afternoon about freedom of speech in the United States and abroad, when she started bringing up the relationship between Big Tech companies in the United States and the CCP.

    “China is trying to cancel the United States of America,” Blackburn added. “China and Big Tech, they have a cozy relationship. They have been allowing the Chinese Communist Party to spew all of their information.”

    “Conform or they will cancel you, sounds a lot like communist China doesn’t it,” she said. “This why we have to keep blocking Huawei, which is the spy network for Big Tech, they’re trying to build a virtual you online.”

  21. Women’s Beach Volleyball Players Threaten to Skip Tournament Over Bikini Ban – American Update
    Marie Finn
    2-3 minutes

    Two German beach volleyball stars backed out of an upcoming tournament in Qatar after they were told they would have to cover up on court.

    The Katara Beach Volleyball Cup shocked competitors by requiring females to ditch their standard bikini uniform for a modest shirt and long pants combo. The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) said the rule was “out of respect for the culture and traditions of the host country.”

    2013 World Championship silver medalist Karla Borger and teammate Julia Sude announced they were planning to boycott the event last week. “We are there to do our job, but are being prevented from wearing our work clothes,” Borger said on a radio show.

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