Lebanon Spyware Uncovered, Steals Data through Fake Messaging Apps

The report describes malware and tactics targeting desktop machines, with references to a possible Android component.

After investigating related infrastructure and connections to Operation Manul, the team concluded that the same infrastructure is likely shared by multiple actors and is being used in a new set of campaigns.

via  Lebanon Spyware Uncovered, Steals Data through Fake Messaging Apps

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 Lebanon Spyware Uncovered, Steals Data through Fake Messaging Apps

Dark Caracal

Researchers from non-profit campaign group ElectronicFrontier Foundation (EFF) and mobile security group Lookout have together uncovered malware that targets individuals such as military personnel, journalists, lawyers, and activists, using fake apps that look like popular messaging apps like WhatsApp and Signal.

The malware, dubbed “Dark Caracal” by the researchers, targets known Android weaknesses and iOS has not been affected by it.

According to their report on Dark Caracal (See BeLow), the malware was traced back to a server in a Lebanese government building — a building belonging to the Lebanese General Security Directorate in Beirut, Lebanon — and seems like the threat could be coming from a nation-state.

“We have identified hundreds of gigabytes of data exfiltrated from thousands of victims, spanning 21+ countries in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia,” the report read.

“This is a very large, global campaign, focused on mobile devices. Mobile is the future of spying because phones are full of so much data about a person’s day-to-day life,” said EFF Director of Cybersecurity Eva Galperin.

Data stolen through the spyware includes documents, call records, audio recordings, secure messaging client content, contact information, text messages, photos, and account data.

According to EFF, WhatsApp or Signal have not been compromised, and Google has confirmed that the infected apps were not downloaded from its Play Store. Instead, the attackers use “spearphishing” to get these fake apps on targets’ phones, which is a phishing attack that specifically targets an individual using information the attacker has on the victim.

“All Dark Caracal needed was application permissions that users themselves granted when they downloaded the apps, not realizing that they contained malware,” said EFF Staff Technologist Cooper Quintin.

Dark Caracal has reportedly been operating since 2012 but has been unable to track down because of the number of similar attacks happening all over the world that have repeatedly been misattributed to other cybercrime groups. 

This research has shed light on how governments and people are able to spy on individuals all over the world. 

Executive Summary

As the modern threat landscape has evolved, so have the actors. The barrier to entry for cyber-warfare has continued to decrease, which means new nation states — previously without significant offensive capabilities— are now able to build and deploy widespread multi-platform cyber-espionage campaigns.

This report uncovers a prolific actor with nation-state level advanced persistent threat (APT) capabilities, who is exploiting targets globally across multiple platforms. The actor has been observed making use of desktop tooling, but has prioritized mobile devices as the primary attack vector. This is one of the first publicly documented mobile APT actors known to execute espionage on a global scale.

Lookout and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have discovered Dark Caracal, a persistent and prolific actor, who at the time of writing is believed to be administered out of a building belonging to the Lebanese General Security Directorate in Beirut.

At present, we have knowledge of hundreds of gigabytes of exfiltrated data, in 21+ countries, across thousands of victims. Stolen data includes enterprise intellectual property and personally identifiable information. We are releasing more than 90 indicators of compromise (IOC) associated with Dark Caracal including 11 different Android malware IOCs; 26 desktop malware IOCs across Windows, Mac, and Linux; and 60 domain/IP based IOCs.

Dark Caracal targets include individuals and entities that a nation state might typically attack, including governments, military targets, utilities, financial institutions, manufacturing companies, and defense contractors. We specifically uncovered data associated with military personnel, enterprises, medical professionals, activists, journalists, lawyers, and educational institutions during this investigation. Types of data include documents, call records, audio recordings, secure messaging client content, contact information, text messages, photos, and account data.

The joint Lookout-EFF investigation began after EFF released its Operation Manul report, highlighting a multi-platform espionage campaign targeted at journalists, activists, lawyers, and dissidents who were critical of President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s regimein Kazakhstan.

The report describes malware and tactics targeting desktop machines, with references to a possible Android component.

After investigating related infrastructure and connections to Operation Manul, the team concluded that the same infrastructure is likely shared by multiple actors and is being used in a new set of campaigns.

The diversity of seemingly unrelated campaigns that have been carried out from this infrastructure suggests it is being used simultaneously by multiple groups. Operation Manul clearly targeted persons of interest to Kazakhstan, while Dark Caracal has given no indication of an interest in these targets or their associates. This suggests that Dark Caracal either uses or manages the infrastructure found to be hosting a number of widespread, global cyber-espionage campaigns.

Since 2007, Lookout has investigated and tracked mobile security events across hundreds of millions of devices around the world.

This mobile espionage campaign is one of the most prolific we have seen to date. Additionally, we have reason to believe the activity Lookout and EFF have directly observed represents only a small fraction of the cyber-espionage that has been conducted using this infrastructure.

SECURITY RESEARCH REPORT

Key Findings

  • Our research shows that Dark Caracal may be administering its tooling out of the headquarters of the General Directorate of General Security (GDGS) in Beirut, Lebanon.
  • The GDGS gathers intelligence for national security purposes and

for its offensive cyber capabilities according to previous reports.

  • We have identified four Dark Caracal personas with overlapping TTP (tools, techniques, and procedures).
  • Dark Caracal is using the same infrastructure as was previously seen in the Operation Manul campaign, which targeted journalists, lawyers, and dissidents critical of the government of Kazakhstan.
  • Dark Caracal has been conducting a multi-platform, APT-leve surveillance operation targeting individuals and institutions globally.
  • Dark Caracal has successfully run numerous campaigns in parallel and we know that the data we have observed is only a small fraction of the total activity.
  • We have identified hundreds of gigabytes of data exfiltrated from thousands of victims, spanning 21+ countries in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
  • The mobile component of this APT is one of the first we’ve seen executing espionage on a global scale.
  • Analysis shows Dark Caracal successfully compromised the devices of military personnel, enterprises, medical professionals, activists, journalists, lawyers, and educational institutions.
  • Dark Caracal targets also include governments, militaries, utilities, financial institutions, manufacturing companies, and defense contractors.
  • Types of exfiltrated data include documents, call records, audio recordings, secure messaging client content, contact information, text messages, photos, and account data.
  • Dark Caracal follows the typical attack chain for cyber-espionage.

They rely primarily on social media, phishing, and in some cases physical access to compromise target systems, devices, and accounts.

  • Dark Caracal uses tools across mobile and desktop platforms.
  • Dark Caracal uses mobile as a primary attack platform.
  • Dark Caracal purchases or borrows mobile and desktop tools from actors on the dark web.
  • Lookout discovered Dark Caracal’s custom-developed mobile surveillanceware (that we call Pallas) in May 2017. Pallas is found in trojanized Android apps.
  • Dark Caracal has also used FinFisher, a tool created by a “lawful intercept” company that is regularly abused by other nation-state actors.
  • Dark Caracal makes extensive use of Windows malware called Bandook RAT. Dark Caracal also uses a previously unknown, multi- platform tool that Lookout and EFF have named CrossRAT, which is able to target Windows, OSX, and Linux.
  • Dark Caracal uses a constantly evolving, global infrastructure.
  • Lookout and EFF researchers have identified parts of Dark

Caracal’s infrastructure, providing us with unique insight into its global operations.

  • The infrastructure operators prefer to use Windows and XAMPP software on their C2 servers rather than a traditional LAMP stack, which provides a unique fingerprint when searching for related infrastructure.
  • Lookout and EFF have identified infrastructure shared by Operation Manul and Dark Caracal as well as other actors.
  • Attributing Dark Caracal was difficult as the actor employs multiple types of malware, and our analysis suggests the infrastructure is also being used by other groups.

Lookout and EFF are releasing more than 90 indicators of compromise (IOC):

  • 11 Android malware IOCs
  • 26 desktop malware IOCs
  • 60 domains, IP Addresses, and WHOIS information

Read Full Study Lookout_Dark-Caracal_srr_20180118_us_v.1.0

Backgrounder

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Beginning in late 2012, a carefully orchestrated attack campaign we call Volatile Cedar
has been targeting individuals, companies and institutions worldwide. This campaign, led by a persistent attacker group, has successfully penetrated a large number of targets
using various attack techniques, and specifically, a custom-made malware implant codenamed.
This report provides an extended technical analysis of Volatile Cedar and the
Explosive malware.
Malware attribution is often tricky and deception-prone. With that in mind, investigation of the evidence leads us to suspect Volatile Cedar originates from Lebanon (hence its nickname). Moreover, the. Volatile Cedar target vertical distribution strongly aligns with
nation-state/political-group interests, eliminating the possibility of financially motivated attackers.There is clear evidence that Volatile Cedar has been active for almost 3 years. While many of the technical aspects of the threat are not considered “cutting edge”, the campaign has been continually and successfully operational throughout this entire timeline, evading detection by the majority of AV products. This success is due to a well planned and carefully managed operation that constantly monitors its victims’ actions and rapidly responds to detection incidents.
Volatile Cedar is heavily based on a custom-made remote access Trojan named Explosives which is implanted within its targets and then used to harvest information. Tracking down these infections was quite a difficult task due to the multiple concealment measures taken by the attackers. The attackers select only a handful of targets to avoid unnecessary exposure.
New and custom versions are developed, compiled and deployed specifically for certain targets, and ”radio silence” periods are configured and embedded specificaly into each targeted implant.
The modus operandi for this attacker group initially targets publicly facing web servers, with both automatic and manual valnurability discovery. Once in control of a server, the attackers further penetrate the targeted internal network via various means, including
manual online hacking as well as an automated USB infection mechanism.
We will discuss the attack vectors and infection techniques used by the attack campaign as well as provide indicators that can be used to detect and remove the infection.
 Evidence shows that the Explosive Trojan leverages its key logging capabilities to gain access to administrator passwords entered on the target servers. Additionally, residues of custom-built port scanners and several other attack tools have been found on the victim
servers, leading us to believe the attackers use the initially infected servers as a pivot to manually spread to the entire network. More recent versions of the Explosive
Trojan contain a configurable option for USB infection. When this option is enabled, Explosive Infects any writable mass storage device connected to the server. This can be used to infect additional servers in environments where operational mass storage devices are shared between servers, as well as infect an administrator’s home or office machines.
Volatile Cedar is a highly targeted and very well-managed campaign. Its targets are carefully chosen, confining the infection spread to the bare minimum required to achieve the attacker’s goal while minimizing the risk of exposure. Our analysis leads us to believe that the attackers conduct a fair amount of intelligence gathering to tailor each infection to its specific target.
The campaign’s initial targets are mostly public web servers, running the Windows operating system. We believe this is because these servers serve as publicly exposed, easily accessible gateways to private and more secure internal networks. As these servers have a common business functionality, their security is often sacrificed for productivity, making them an easy target for attackers.
Once the attacker gains control over these servers, he can use them as a pivot point to explore, identify, and attack additional targets located deeper inside the internal network.
Volatile Cedar 
The typical attack begins with a vulnerability scan of the target server. Once an exploitable vulnerability is located, it is used to inject a web shell code into the server. The web shell is then used by the attacker to control the victim server and is the means
through which the ExplosiveTrojan is implanted into the victim server.
This Trojan allows the attackers to send commands to all targets via an array of C&C servers. The command list contains all the functionality required by the attacker to maintain control and extract information from the servers and includes keylogging, clipboard logging, screenshots, run commands, etc.
Occasionally, mostly in cases where large data extractions are required, the attacker sets up additional SSH tunnels connecting to the attacker-controlled servers.
ATTACK TIMELINE
The first evidence of any Explosiveversion was detected in November 2012. Over the course of the timeline, several versions have been detected. New version release dates appear to be closely related to the occurrence of an AV detection event on the previous version, a fact which emphasizes the efforts taken to conceal the attack.

 

 

 

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MIT staff will be given local gun MPT-76

MİT are Turkey’s leading security and intelligence organisation and the announcement that they will receive the new rifle this year follows the MPT-76’s deployment with the President and the Prime Minister’s protection details.

via MIT staff will be given local gun MPT-76

 

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MIT staff will be given local gun MPT-76

A Turkish news outlet has reported that Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (Millî İstihbarat Teşkilatı or MİT) will be the next organisation to receive the country’s new domestically produced infantry rifle, the MPT-76.

A Haber, a Turkish TV news channel, supportive of Turkey’s President Recep Erdoğan, has reported that MİT units will receive the rifle for operational and protection duties early this year. A report published on 4th January (see below)  stated that (via google translate): “According to the information received, the security forces will be given the speed of deployment of the national infantry rifle MPT-76 in the new year.”

The 7.62x51mm MPT-76, made by MKEK – Turkey’s state-owned small-arms manufacturer, is a select-fire, gas-operated derivative of Heckler & Koch’s HK416/417. It is currently entering service to replace Turkey’s G3A7 and G3A7A1 rifles.

MİT are Turkey’s leading security and intelligence organisation and the announcement that they will receive the new rifle this year follows the MPT-76’s deployment with the President and the Prime Minister’s protection details.

The A Haber article goes on to confirm MKEK’s production target for 2018 and discuss the 5.56x45mm variant, of the MPT-76, the MPT-55:

In this context, MIT, Land Forces Command, General Directorate of Security and other law enforcement agencies will be delivered 38 thousand MPT-76 this year. As for the security forces, until the year 2026, a total of 250 thousand MPT-76s are planned to be purchased.

The MPT-55 rifle, which is considered as the continuation of the national infantry rifle production project, and 90,000 units for other rifles of the same size will be delivered.

Read Full Report:  MIT Turkey Intel Agency Report on local gun MPT-76

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Populational and Racial Policy Speech to the 1st session of the “Expert Advisory Committee” on  28th of June 1933 

The National-Socialist movement can claim credit for having protected the German nation from total political collapse, and the Reich from dissolution. It would be a serious mistake to believe that the main mission has thereby been accomplished. Whoever is able to understand things more deeply knows that the most difficult feat is still to be accomplished, namely to arrest the decline of our culture and folk. Germany not only belongs to those countries that had to bear the chief burden of the World War and enormous losses of the best men and racial elements, but also is the country that both during and after the war had to record an ominous decline in births.

via Populational and Racial Policy Speech to the 1st session of the “Expert Advisory Committee” on  28th of June 1933 

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Populational and Racial Policy Speech to the 1st session of the “Expert Advisory Committee” on  28th of June 1933 

Dr. Wilhelm Frick in uniform

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Translated by Hadding Scott, 2014

German men and women! While I thank you for your willingness to collaborate, permit me to give you an overview of the tasks that we have set for ourselves, and to outline the goal that we want to reach. 
The National-Socialist movement can claim credit for having protected the German nation from total political collapse, and the Reich from dissolution. It would be a serious mistake to believe that the main mission has thereby been accomplished. Whoever is able to understand things more deeply knows that the most difficult feat is still to be accomplished, namely to arrest the decline of our culture and folk. Germany not only belongs to those countries that had to bear the chief burden of the World War and enormous losses of the best men and racial elements, but also is the country that both during and after the war had to record an ominous decline in births. While at the turn of the century we still had about 2 million births annually, the annual figure is still only about 975,000 now. From about 36 live births per thousand for the year 1900 the number has declined to about 15 in the year 1932. The number of children is thus declining to an ominous degree; the two-child system of the post-war period has been surpassed; the German folk has transitioned to the one-, indeed to the no-child system.

 

In spite of the great successes of general hygiene, of the fight against infectious diseases, of social hygiene, and of the medical sciences in general, which have been achieved with regard to combatting mortality and prolonging human life, the rollback of mortality in the total national-biological household of our folk no longer suffices to assure maintenance of our level of population. Today the raw numbers of births and deaths no longer suffice for the assessment; instead we must undertake a reassessment of the balance of life with consideration of the uneven distribution in age-groups, to recognize the true situation for population-policy. According to the calculations of the Reich Office for Statistics, the German folk with its current birth-figures is no longer in a position to maintain itself by its own power, but with 15 births per thousand of population we are short by about 30% of the births that must be accomplished by German women to secure the population for the future. Neither Berlin nor the other big German cities, nor even the medium-sized and small cities, are in a position, given the current birth-figures, to maintain their populations. Only the rural communities still have a slight birth-surplus, which however no longer suffices to offset the loss in the German cities. We thereby face a fundamental turn of the ages. Our people advances obliviously into a stark senescence and graying.
The superior elements of the nation must have more children.
Yet, it is indeed not only the number that gives cause for concern, but to the same degree the quality and composition of our German population. Since we still have no hereditary-biological census, we have been given a mandate to make assessments. While one can assume that cases of serious physical or mental hereditary illesses number roughly 500,000, the figures for the less serious cases are considerably higher. There are authors who regard 20% of the German population as congenitally defective, from whom procreation therefore would no longer be desirable. It must be added that quite often feebleminded and inferior persons exhibit greater than average reproduction. While the healthy German family today supplies the folk with not more than 2 children on the average, one finds precisely among the feebleminded and inferior, however lamentable it may sound, double that on average, often even three times as many. That means however that the more gifted valuable stratum of generations virtually decreases, and in a few generations will have died out completely, but with that also efficiency and German culture.
The bleak picture that I have to reveal to you is however still not complete! While we permanently reduce our options [Behauptungsmöglichkeit] in the area of economy, of social policy, of military fitness through this regression in the number and character of our folk, our neighbors in the east have roughly twice the fertility and number of live births. The migration from the countryside into the cities, from the East to the West, has already led in some districts of the east to a noticeable decrease of population so that in spite of the current unemployment the danger of the immigration of ethnic non-Germans exists in the east. In Berlin alone in 1930 about 4000 immigrants from the east were naturalized, of which most were non-Germans, largely eastern Jews. – Next to the menacingly increasing congenital inferiority we must to the same degree track advancing miscegenation and racial degeneration of our folk, since the German man and the German woman have unlearned consciousness of their blood and race.  
Seen in rough outline, the current government has encountered, apart from the thoroughly miserable domestic and foreign economic situation, also an especially dangerous circumstance of the German folk for population-policy. The earlier governments did not have the courage to bring about a fundamental change and to reverse the course of the entire domestic and economic policy. – 
Before I briefly explain the measures that we have to take on the offensive, we must briefly create clarity for ourselves about the causes of this national decline. 
We see today the great number of unemployed, and our folk is found in the belief that everything will take a turn for the good if they receive work again. Precisely the educated are of the opinion that it is necessary only to get the economy back on track, then all else will automatically follow. Certainly the economy and the basis of the food-supply must be restored! But it is crazy to believe that our German folk in the heart of Europe is to be saved with that alone! If we cast our gaze into German history, we recognize that we have changed from an agrarian state to an industrial state. Hardenberg induced the development into an industrial state after 1807 in Prussia. By the fact that he gave land freely as private property, he cleared the way for the liberal economic system. The consequence of the development of the money-economy was the urbanization and the industrialization of Germany. With that, the natural development of our folk, the peasant’s sense of family, and the effectiveness of the evolutionary pressures of rural life came to an end! Our legal relationships, the money-economy, and insurance-legislation brought with it an inversion of concept about morality, sex, family, and children. Therewith began the development of individualism, of class-struggle, of Marxism and Communism. The mechanization of labor, the economic enslavement of the Marxist economy after the war completed the process of destruction which brought our folk to the brink of the abyss. Hand in hand with that goes the decay of our folk. The liberal mind has poisoned its soul, killed the sense for family-life and the will for children. With this psychic structural transformation the reorganization of domestic family-life became complete. Man and woman go to work and into their career, the both strive on the one hand for intellectual cultivation and on the other hand for work and participation in economic life – thus were man and woman alienated from family-life and believed that they had found an equality in unrestricted gender-freedom. Publicity glorifies the androgyne in sports and career, but has nothing left for the mother who today still calls a sufficient number of children her own. So sees man today only a life-companion in his wife, no longer the mother of his children. Consequently it is no wonder that abortion and contraception are causing our folk to die out. What can be done to bring about a change?
Congenital defectives burden the worker.

With the enormous burdening of our folk with taxes, social insurance payments, and interest-payments, we are not allowed to block out the awareness that the state will have to undertake a reconstruction of all legislation and a reduction of the burdens for inferior and anti-social types. How strongly the tasks for the inferior, anti-social, sick, feebleminded, mentally ill, cripples, and criminals today exceed the measure of what we could expect for our population struggling with difficulty for its survival, we observe from the expenses for their care that must be funded today by the Reich, by the lands, and by municipalities. Just a few examples: the mentally ill person costs about 4 RM per day, the criminal 3.50RM, the cripple and deaf-mute 5-6RM per day, while the unskilled laborer has at his disposal only about 2.50RM per day, the clerk 3.60RM, the low-level executive about 4RM per day. Those are consequences of an excessive assistance for the particular individual, which must kill the will of the healthy to work, and train the folk to become dole-recipients. On the other hand we burden the valuable families in a such a way that abortion and birth-control result. What we have developed so far is thus an excessive personal hygiene and assistance for the particular individual without regard for the findings of the doctrine of heredity, of life-selection, and of racial hygiene. This kind of modern “humanity” and social assistance for the sick, weak, and inferior individual must, in the big picture, have an effect as the greatest cruelty for the folk, and ultimately lead to its ruin. 

To avert the threatening disaster, a reorientation of the entire public health structure, of the thinking of the medical profession, and a change of issues in accord with the perspective of racial hygiene, of populational and racial policy, is necessary. Only when the state and the health system pursue provision for the not yet born as the core of their issues can we speak of a new era and of a constructive populational and racial policy.

For the increase of the number of congenitally healthy progeny, we have the duty in the first place to reduce expenditures for the anti-social, inferior, and hopeless congenitally ill, and to prevent the procreation of seriously hereditarily defective persons.
The scientifically grounded doctrine of heredity, following evolutionin the last century, gives us the possibility of recognizing clearly the relationships of heredity and selection, and their significance for folk and state. It gives us therewith however also the right and the moral duty of excluding seriously congenitally ill persons from procreation. We cannot allow ourselves to be restrained from this duty also through a falsely understood love of one’s neighbor and churchly qualms, which are based on dogmas of bygone centuries; on the contrary, we must regard it as a violation of Christian and social love of one’s neighbor, if we allow it to continue in spite of the knowledge that we have gained, that congenitally ill people produce a progeny that means endless suffering for themselves and their kin in this generation and in those to come. Consequently I have resolved to submit a draft of a law for the prevention of congenitally ill progeny, which I am asking you to examine following your current session.
Yet let us be aware that with deselection and selection, which are introduced through our legislation on racial hygiene and racial policy, still nothing is accomplished if we do not accomplish the establishment of families and sufficient propagation of the valuable hereditarily healthy German people. Article 119 of the Reichsverfassung, according to which the family is recognized as the foundation of the state and compensatory justice is demanded for it, has still not become a reality. With the examination of the given circumstances we must concede that legislation and practice hitherto has led to a preferential treatment of those having few or no children. The legislation has undergone a development that, in the thoroughly miserable economic situation in which we find ourselves, is not going to be changed overnight. While, on the one hand, one permits to the father of a family a part, if insufficient, of the income-tax, families are already penalized several times that much in proportion to the number of children, through indirect consumption-taxes that are based on foodstuffs and daily necessities. Tax-measures so far, which for the today already small number of children of those in any way obliged for income-taxes, now constitute only a fraction, about one-tenth, of the total tax-reductions of any kind. The reduction is at the time only about a third of the sum that is granted to the unmarried through the so-called minimum living wage with a certain self-evidence. One thus treats the child, considered in terms of the tax-code, worse than those that have on themselves to support with their income. Because of this the unmarried people and the childless have several times more disposable income per person than the child-rich family, which raises Germany’s posterity. Only the extreme limitation in the nourishment, recreation, education, personal hygiene, clothing, and shelter can make it possible for the father of a child-rich family to maintain his household. That enormous harms thereby arise however for the still healthy posterity, no one can doubt. School-lunches, alms, and the excessive emphasis on sports cannot bring back the sense of family.

 

If today still millions of mothers, often precisely mothers with many children, in addition to their domestic duties are in the work-process only because they have to create additional leeway for nourishment, while unmarried unemployed men are supported from public means, it is the highest goal that we approach the solution of this problem with energy, and create change through compensation of family-burdens. There must be success in bringin

 

“Support the Mother and Child aid-project.”

the wife back to the life of marriage and family, and to domestic duties, and the man out of unemployment and to his vocation. Precisely the increased consumption that would be attained through this compensation would be suited to strengthen the internal economic market, and to stimulate production of values that are domestically produced. There is no doubt that precisely the low number of children under 15 years of age today determines a large part of the joblessness and prostration of the internal economic market. 

If we want therefore seriously to approach population-political organization, we must undertake measures that foster the family in a way always tailored to economic circumstance and income-level. There are the most varied possibilities for that, which I ask you to prepare together with my ministry. Present regulations are to be scrutinized in regard for anti-family effect, and a pro-family legislation is to be undertaken. It must be made possible to create a palpable compensation for those owing income-tax through more strongly graduated tax-reduction in percentages of the tax. In the same way the salary of civil servants would have to be graduated even more effectively according to marital status and number of children, since of course the pay of the civil servant is not only a compensation but is supposed to grant him adequate support for the family. It would have to begin perhaps from the pay that a civil servant needs for the support of 3-4 children in order to graduate downwards and upwards according to the number of children. While the liberal professions and the commercial middle class like all circles of entrepreneurs were able to be captured through an effective tax-reduction, among employees and wage-earners there is only the possibility of creating compensation through compensation-funds, into which all would have to pay contributions according to the size of their income or receive a compensation according to how many children they had. This does not need to signify an additional burden for the state and business, but there must be an attempt to effect a shift of income for the securing of the life-support of healthy families. In order to guarantee the qualitative principle, it will certainly be necessary to grant an amelioration only in percentages of income so as not to give to anti-social people rights equal to those of the working population. With the difficult financial situation of the Reich, the lands, the communities, and the economy, the fulfillment of all these family-fostering measures of course appears possible only if an unburdening occurs in other areas, for example through standardization and appropriate austerity-measures in the social insurance system. 
We know from history that our folk is rooted in the class of small farmers, and that the maintenance of the hereditarily healthy German farm-family is ultimately crucial for the perpetuation of the folk. The German farm has been in all times the place where the German folk has ever again reasserted itself despite war and epidemic and righted itself again after a collapse. The coupling of the best German blood with German ground and soil must therefore be sought with all means. The soil must be set up again as part of family-law and under protection of the state. In return however the National-Socialist state must demand from the lords of this soil that they provide it with a sufficient number of healthy progeny. It is time therefore to organize housing in such a way that a sufficient number of children is ensured through stipulations in taxation and inheritance-law.
In the new Germany, Reich, lands, and communities must re-examine their entire governance from the perspective of population-policy and, to the extent necessary, reorganize. Apart from economic and financial reorientation, the public health system will have to be standardized and freed up for racial-hygienic and constructive measures. Next to the pre-existing sanitary and health-promoting arrangements it will be necessary in recognition of the doctrine of heredity and of racial hygiene to banish the dangers of birth-defects, and thereby again to authenticate the propagation of hereditarily healthy and competent people. 
However much economic reasons and excessive efforts at social climbing may be an essential cause of the decline in births, of abortion and birth-control, we ought in no way fail to recognize that it is at the same time foremost an educational, psychological, and ethical problem. The attitude toward generating life is dependent on the worldview not only of the German wife and mother, but also of the man. The will for the child in a folk and before all else in the wife cannot be awakened through laws and economic measures alone; instead the soul of the woman must find its way back to the child. That is only possible through renovation of the woman’s thinking and through solution of the woman-question. We must liberate the woman from her economic distress and grant adequate schools to her as to the children, but in the same measure train the man for the duty of establishing a family. 
Here a wide field of activity avails itself to the National-Socialist Women’s Association, which must tackle it under the leadership of mothers and in close emulation of child-rich mothers. 

 

Marry somebody congenitally sound and racially similar.

Enlightenment about congenital health-measures and racial science must be expanded into education of the youth and of the entire folk about racial hygiene, in order to prepare it for marriage. In order to convey this knowledge to broad circles and to convey appropriate instructional material to the positions appropriate for enlightenment and to the educators of youth, I have ordered the reconstruction of the Reich Commission for National Hygienic Instruction [Reichsausschusses für hygienische Volksbelehrung] into such a commission for national health-service. An exaggerated, all-too-long scientific education is just as obstructive to the timely starting of a family as the excessive emphasis on sports. Precisely the educated class is most endangered, since late starting of families is the cause of marriagelessness, disease, and a failed marriage. It must again be regarded as the duty of educated youth to be conscious of the German hereditary constitution, to preserve racial purity, and through appropriate choice of a mate to strive toward a higher development of ones’ own type and family. Mixed marriages with alien races must be recognized as what they are, namely the reason for degeneration of the mind and soul, as well as alienation toward one’s own folk.

  Healthy Parents – Healthy Children!

The studies of family and race must be cultivated in such a way that the flourishing of the family appears as a higher good than wealth and comfort. We must again have the courage to rank the body of the folk according to hereditary value, in order to make appropriate leaders available to the state. 

If other peoples and foreign elements do not want to follow us on this path, that is their affair. I regard it as the greatest mission and duty of the government of the national revolution, to guarantee the upward development and preservation of our German folk in the heart of Europe. Therefore I ask you to support us in this mission. It is also the purpose of today’s conference.

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CHINA TIES WITH WORLD

China built strategic ties with countries across Asia, Europe and Africa,

via CHINA TIES WITH WORLD

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CHINA TIES WITH WORLD

As the US took a backseat in global leadership in 2017, China took steps to expand its global influence. It also built strategic ties with countries across Asia, Europe and Africa, and encountered issues such as the Doklam border dispute and the North Korea nuclear crisis.
IMPROVED:
– Japan
– United Kingdom
– Russia
– Philippines
– Djibouti
– Saudi Arabia
STABLE:
– United States
– Vietnam
– Singapore
– Zimbabwe
– Kazakhstan
DETERIORATED
– N.Korea
– India
– Australia
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Shin Bet Mole 14/1/18 חפרפרת בשב”כ MK accused of Shin Bet leaks 1/14/18 1:11 PM PDT

Boaz Guttman–During 1990s police probe into Aryeh Deri, ex-head of domestic security agency Yaakov Peri allegedly handed over intel on wiretaps to embattled interior minister–(Times of Israel – 1/14/18)

MK Yaakov Peri, a former Shin Bet agency head, over an investigative TV report alleging the ex-security chief leaked sensitive information to Interior Minister Aryeh Deri about police wiretaps of his associates during a corruption investigation into the Shas leader two decades ago.

The “Uvda” report aired last Wednesday unearthed a report from a covert probe in 1995 that saw two of the three-person panel of investigators conclude that Peri — also a former science minister — was likely the source of the 1991 leaks to Deri, after the then-Shin Bet chief was found to be lying on a series of polygraph tests.

Peri, who conceded to having a “good relationship” with Deri at the time, has firmly denied the allegations.

The “Uvda” report examined confidential information obtained by a Deri aide, Moshe Weinberg, on how police wiretaps were approved by the Shin Bet and put into place by the Bezeq telecommunication company. Weinberg was also able to detail who was being recorded in the investigation into the interior minister, confounding the investigators.

“There is someone in the Shin Bet who tells,” Weinberg was recorded as telling a state witness, who was wearing a hidden mic affixed by police in a bid to incriminate Weinberg.

Recordings aired by the TV show also saw Deri quizzing Weinberg about the tapes and “when they would be ready.”

The TV report quoted investigators on the case saying they were “astounded” by the revelation and also found Weinberg’s information to be accurate.

“He [Weinberg] didn’t lie. He knew exactly who was being listened to,” a former investigator told “Uvda.” “We thought we must be dreaming.”

Fearing the leaks would overshadow the corruption probe into Deri, police ignored the information and locked away the tapes, according to “Uvda.”

But four years later, in 1995, the attorney general appointed three investigators to secretly probe the leaks, after the information came to light during the Deri trial.

As part of the internal investigation, the Shin Bet and police were asked to submit to a polygraph test.

Peri told “Uvda” he was was tested once, with the polygraph proving “inconclusive.”

But documents aired on the TV show indicated that Peri was grilled on a polygraph four times, and while some of the results were inconclusive, the Shin Bet chief found to be lying on numerous occasions.

According to the documents, Peri was found to be telling the truth when asked whether he handed over documents on the wiretaps, but was found to be lying when asked whether he gave over information on the recordings to an unauthorized figure.

In the fourth round of questioning, Peri was asked whether he inquired within the Shin Bet about wiretaps around Deri’s Jerusalem home. The Shin Bet chief denied it and was found to be lying. He was also determined to be lying when again asked whether he handed over information about the wiretaps, according to the TV show’s documents.

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H-1B: Immigrants Make Up Nearly Three-quarters of Silicon Valley Tech Workforce, Report says

Many immigrant tech workers are employed under the controversial H-1B visa — intended for specialty occupations — which has become a flashpoint in the U.S. cage fight over immigration, with opponents claiming it lets foreigners steal American jobs. Several companies and UC San Francisco have been accused of abusing the visa program by using it as a tool to outsource Americans’ jobs to workers from far-away lands.

via H-1B: Immigrants Make Up Nearly Three-quarters of Silicon Valley Tech Workforce, Report says

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H-1B: Immigrants Make Up Nearly Three-quarters of Silicon Valley Tech Workforce, Report says

With the debate over immigration to the U.S. as fiery as ever, a new analysis suggests that Silicon Valley would be lost without foreign-born technology workers.

About 71 percent of tech employees in the Valley are foreign born, compared to around 50 percent in the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward region, according to a new report based on 2016 census data.

Visa applications. (Courtesy U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service)

Immigrant techies tend to go to “the center of the action,” Seattle venture capitalist S. “Soma” Somasegar told the Seattle Times.

And Silicon Valley remains the “center of the tech universe,” according to the newspaper.

Beyond personal preferences, and the sheer number of companies in areas such as Silicon Valley and fast-growing Seattle, the financial resources of major technology firms also play a role in bringing in immigrants, the Seattle Times reported Wednesday.

Many immigrant tech workers are employed under the controversial H-1B visa — intended for specialty occupations — which has become a flashpoint in the U.S. cage fight over immigration, with opponents claiming it lets foreigners steal American jobs. Several companies and UC San Francisco have been accused of abusing the visa program by using it as a tool to outsource Americans’ jobs to workers from far-away lands.

Although 2016 data released by the federal government last year showed that outsourcing companies — mostly from India — raked in the bulk of H-1B visas, Google took more than 2,500 and Apple took nearly 2,000 to hire foreign workers, about 60 percent of them holding master’s degrees.

Large companies, the Seattle Times pointed out, are better equipped to bring in workers under the H-1B.

“The H1-B process is not just complicated — it’s also quite expensive to sponsor an H1-B visa worker, a cost larger companies may be more willing to absorb,” the paper reported.

Legal blog UpCounsel puts the cost of the H-1B process at $10,000 to $11,000 per employee.

The Seattle Times did not include in its report a breakdown for Silicon Valley of how many immigrants are U.S. citizens, versus visa holders. But the paper’s research indicated that 63 percent of Seattle’s foreign-born tech workers were not American citizens.

Backlash against the H-1B visa has been one part of the furor over U.S. immigration policies that has grown since President Donald Trump began campaigning for the presidency on an anti-immigrant platform. Fissures have widened in public opinion over Trump’s so-called “Muslim ban” on immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, over the admission of refugees, and over the unresolved fate of DACA, the program that has let millions of foreign citizens — brought to the U.S. illegally as children — remain in the country.

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The State of Security:” TOP 17 Security Conferences-2018

via “The State of Security:” TOP 17 Security Conferences-2018

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“The State of Security:” TOP 17 Security Conferences-2018

“The State of Security” assembled a list of the top conferences in information security.

17. THE DIANA INITIATIVE

When: 9-10 August, 2018

Where: Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Website: http://dianainitiative.com/3_0/

The Diana Initiative is an organization that’s dedicated to supporting women who are interested in pursuing a career in information security, promoting diverse workplaces, and helping to change workplace cultures so that organizations can be supportive of all employees regardless of gender.

The theme of The Diana Initiative’s 2018 conference is “Hacker Family: Our Diversity Unifies Us.” At the event, attendees will be able to take advantage of numerous networking opportunities. They’ll be able to “meet a mentor” and attend presentations where speakers share their stories, experiences, and insights.

16. FS-ISAC ANNUAL SUMMIT

When: 20-23 May, 2018

Where: Boca Raton Resort & Club, Boca Raton, Florida, USA

Website: https://www.fsisac-summit.com/2018-Annual-Summit-Overview

fs-isacEach FS-ISAC Annual Summit is hosted by the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, a resource which helps members of the global financial industry share and analyze intelligence on digital and physical threats.

Attendees to this annual event have the opportunity to hear a series of sessions and talks on the newest threats facing the global financial services sector. Everyone from CEOs and Heads of Threat Intelligence to Payment Operations Directors and Payment Line of Business Managers are encouraged to attend.

15. CANSECWEST

When: 14-16 March, 2018

Where: Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Website: https://cansecwest.com/

CanSecWestCanSecWest is a three-day conference that boasts a single-track of enlightening one-hour presentations prepared by a knowledgeable professional and an educator. The event prides itself on bringing attendees together into a relaxed environment so that they can collaborate and network.

This year’s conference will feature Dr. Michael A. VanPutte, Ph.D, who will speak on “Cyberwar and other modern myths.” Attendees will also get to attend presentations on election security and low-cost radio wave attacks.

14. SHMOOCON

When: 19-21 January, 2018

Where: Washington Hilton Hotel, Washington District of Columbia, USA

Website: https://shmoocon.org/

shmooconShmooCon is an annual hacking conference that takes place on the east coast of the United States every January. The first full day of the conference features a single track of speed talks called “One Track Mind.” This is followed by two full days of three event tracks: “Build It,” “Belay It,” and “Bring It On.”

The conference’s major themes include exploiting technology and using hardware and software solutions to address critical issues in information security.

Attendees can also enjoy several events that run concurrent to the conference, including the Lockpick Village, ShmooCon Labs and Hack Fortress.

13. HITBSECCONF

When: 9-13 April, 2018

Where: NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Website: https://conference.hitb.org/hitbsecconf2018ams/

security160Hack in the Box Security Conference (HITBSecConf) is an annual event held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. This year’s iteration of the event boasts six three-day technical training courses that explore next-gen infosec issues and a two-day triple-track conference featuring well-known industry leaders. Those who regularly attend HITBSecConf value it for all the networking opportunities and the chance to stay current with critical computer security issues.

The first round of accepted speakers to HITBSecConf-Amsterdam will be announced in January.

12. APPSEC EUROPE

When: 17-21 June, 2018

Where: TBA, Tel Aviv, Israel

Website: http://2018.appsec.eu/

AppSec Europe is an annual conference hosted by the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP), a non-profit organization which strives to raise the visibility of software security worldwide. Each AppSec Europe conference features technical talks, debate panels, training sessions, hands-on learning workshops, and keynote addresses from industry leaders. This year’s conference will feature Amit Klein, who is VP Security Research at SafeBreach.

Every event also includes a recruiting fair, CTF events, and a vendor floor.

11. FIRST ANNUAL CONFERENCE

When: 24-29 June, 2018

Where: Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Website: https://www.first.org/conference/2018/

Forum of Incident Response and Security TeamsThis five-day annual conference features incident response, management, and technical tracks; keynote presentations; lightning talks; and plenty of networking opportunities. In addition to learning the latest security strategies in incident management, those who attend can earn up to 25 continuing professional education (CPE) credits and gain insight into analyzing network vulnerabilities.

The event is sponsored by the Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams(FIRST), an international confederation of more than 350 trusted computer incident response teams from over 80 countries.

10. INFOSECURITY EUROPE

When: 5-7 June, 2018

Where: Olympia, London, United Kingdom

Website: http://www.infosecurityeurope.com/

infosecurity europeInfoSecurity Europe is an annual conference that’s evolved into one of Europe’s largest and most highly-regarded information security events. Its reputation is bolstered by the conference’s free rate of admission.

In 2014, approximately 11,500 visitors from over 70 countries attended InfoSecurity Europe. Last year, more than 19,500 visitors came out to see hundreds of speakers present on security-related topics and visit over 400 different exhibitors’ booths.

9. DERBYCON

When: 3-7 October, 2018

Where: The Mariott Hotel, Louisville, Kentucky, USA

Website: https://www.derbycon.com/

conference - derbyconDerbyCon is an infosec conference that prides itself on its family feel. Each year’s event begins with a two-day training sequence, which includes sessions in pentesting, reverse engineering, malware analysis, hacking basics, and other topics. These sessions precede a two-day conference that features an impressive lineup of speakers.

Over 2,000 individuals attended DerbyCon 4.0 in 2014. (No statistics are available for DerbyCon 5.0, 6.0, or 7.0.) The conference’s organizers expect to attract even more attendees in 2018.

8. USENIX SECURITY SYMPOSIUM

When: 15-17 August, 2018

Where: Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Website: https://www.usenix.org/conference/usenixsecurity18

usenixNow in its 27th year, the annual conference of the USENIX Association (otherwise known as the Advanced Computing Systems Association) brings together researchers, practitioners, sysadmins, and other individuals who are interested in staying abreast of important security and privacy developments with respect to computer systems and networks. The event consists of invited talks, panel discussions, and Birds-of-a-Feather sessions.

All researchers are invited to submit a paper for consideration of presenting at USENIX’s Security Symposium 2018 until 8 February.

7. INFOSEC WORLD

When: 19-21 March, 2018

Where: Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA

Website: http://infosecworld.misti.com/

Every year, InfoSec World attracts attendees with its diverse line-up of speakers and an exhibition hall filled with some of the most impressive information security technologies and solutions in the industry.

MIS Training Institute, a leader in IT auditing and infosec training, organizes the event every year. Each iteration of InfoSec World consists of seminars, conferences, e-learning workshops, in-house training sessions, and executive programs.

6. GARTNER SECURITY & RISK MANAGEMENT SUMMIT

When: 4-7 June, 2018

Where: Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland, USA

Website: https://www.gartner.com/events/na/security

gartner-tileEach of Gartner’s Security & Risk Management Summits attracts CISOs and top risk management and security professionals for the purpose of helping them build resilience and hone their security strategy across the enterprise. Attendees gain those insights via end-user case studies, workshops, and even one-on-one meetings with a Gartner analyst.

This year’s conference will consist of five programs: CISO, Security Trends and Capabilities, Technical Insights: Security Architecture, Risk and Business Resilience, and Marketplace for Security.

5. SANS SERIES

When: Ongoing

Where: Worldwide

Website: https://www.sans.org/

sansThe SANS Series is sponsored by the SANS Institute, a research and education organization which promotes infosec training and certification around the world. Its programs consist of intensive training usually spread out over several days. These sessions now reach more than 165,000 security professionals.

One of the biggest events planned for this year is SANS 2018. It’ll feature more than 45 hands-on information security courses taught by leading experts. This training conference is scheduled for 3-10 April in Orlando, Florida, USA. Learn more here.

4. RSA CONFERENCE

When: 16-20 April, 2018

Where: Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA USA

Website: http://www.rsaconference.com/

RSA_Conference_Logo,_squareWhen a security event gives rise to multiples conferences that draw more than tens of thousands of attendees a year, it’s hard not to take notice.

Besides its size, RSA, including RSA Conference USA, prides itself on providing a venue where both established and new security professionals can present their research to conference attendees and prepare themselves for future challenges in information security.

3. BSIDES SERIES

When: Ongoing

Where: Worldwide

Website: http://www.securitybsides.com/

index1Security BSides is a community-driven framework that builds events for the information security community. Each meeting incorporates discussion, demonstrations, and interaction into most of its technical presentations, thereby promoting collaboration and conversation among security professionals.

As of this writing, approximately 30 events have already been announced for 2018.

2. BLACK HAT CONFERENCE SERIES

When: Variable

Where: Variable

Website: http://blackhat.com/

Black-hatThe Black Hat conference series is a favorite among infosec professionals for its technical emphasis. Black Hat USA, for example, has been in operation for the past 19 years; each of its iterations promotes a vendor-neutral environment and offers up top research that’s selected by a board of the industry’s most esteemed infosec professionals. This year’s Black Hat USA will take place on 4-9 August at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.

Black Hat events are held annually in the United States, Europe, and Asia.

1. DEF CON

When: 9-12 August, 2018

Where: Caesar’s Palace Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV, USA

Website: https://www.defcon.org/index.html

dc-logoDEF CON started out in 1993 as a gathering among 10 small hacker networks. It’s expanded over the last 25 years; today, it’s one of the oldest and largest security conferences in the world. DEF CON 22 (2014) attracted 14,500 attendees alone.

Each year, DEFCON offers an exciting roster of speakers who present on computer hacking.

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Saudi Money In Syria – Sowing The Seeds Of ISIS 2.0

Al-Sistani is well know for caring for all Iraqis and for speaking out against any form of sectarianism. This was an insult and threat to a very high religious authority with a huge following.

Sabhan’s loose talk did not go down well with the Iraqi population and its political circles. Immediately demands were made to kick him out of Iraq.

via Saudi Money In Syria – Sowing The Seeds Of ISIS 2.0

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Saudi Money In Syria – Sowing The Seeds Of ISIS 2.0

(Abundant Hope, Oct 19, 2017) –There is dangerous news evolving from Raqqa, Syria. While ISIS is largely defeated seeds get sown for its reappearance.

The Kurdish forces under the label SDF and led by U.S. special forces have defeated ISIS in Raqqa. Cleanup operations continue. The victory came only after the the U.S. and its proxies agreed to give free passage (see below) to the last few hundreds of foreign and Syrian ISIS fighters and their families. Since these boarded buses and were moved out of Raqqa on Saturday night nothing has been heard of them.

On Monday the U.S. coordinator for the fight against ISIS, Brett McGurk, brought an unwelcome visitor to Syria.

Raqqa24 @24Raqqa – 9:49 AM – 17 Oct 2017Brett McGurk visited Ayn Issa today with the Saudi minister Thamer al-Sabhan (former Ambassador to Iraq) & joined 3 different meetings. #R24

First meeting was with the local council of #Raqqa then with reconstruction committee at the least they met with elders of Raqqa

Picture of the visit of Brett McGurk and Thamer al-Sabhan. Source: Unknown


via Raqqa24 – bigger

The visit was confirmed by a (pro Kurd) journalist:

Wladimir‏ @vvanwilgenburg – 5:06 PM – 17 Oct 2017
Wladimir Retweeted Raqqa24I was there. No pictures allowed. Meeting was indeed about reconstruction.

Thamer al-Sabhan is the Saudi Minister for Gulf Affairs. He is known to be extremely sectarian and anti-Shia.

In 2015 Thamer al-Sabhan was appointed as the first Saudi ambassador to Iraq since the Iraqi takeover of Kuwait in 1990. He made no friends in Baghdad when he ranted against the Popular Mobilization Units, which had stopped and fought back ISIS. He denigrated the most revered religious scholar in Iraq:

Sabhan asserted that “whoever listens to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s Friday sermons and Muqtada al-Sadr’s statements can feel the threat that Shiite religious authorities pose.

Al-Sistani is well know for caring for all Iraqis and for speaking out against any form of sectarianism. This was an insult and threat to a very high religious authority with a huge following.

Sabhan’s loose talk did not go down well with the Iraqi population and its political circles. Immediately demands were made to kick him out of Iraq. Sabhan then claimed that an Iraqi official had told him that Shia groups directed by Iran were out to kill him. The Iraqi government denied that claim. But Sabhan continued to stir inner-Iraqi strife. The government finally asked Riyadh to call him back. In October 2016 Sabham was recalled from Iraq and appointed minister. He recently demanded “to eliminate the rogue Iranian regime.”

To invite him to Syria, as Brett McGurk (on order from the White House?) did, is a dangerous provocation.

The Trump administration is not willing to spend money on the rebuilding of Raqqa which was largely destroyed (video) by thousands of U.S. air and artillery strikes. The State Department promised to “lead” efforts to restore water and power supplies in Raqqa, but it wants to put the financial burden elsewhere:

“We will assist and take, essentially, the lead in bringing back the water, electricity and all of that,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a briefing. “But eventually the governance of the country of Syria is something that I think all nations remain very interested in.”

It is a complete wrong approach. The U.S. should ask the Syrian government to immediately take responsibility of Raqqa and then leave the country.

Now Thamer al-Sabhan is asked to cough up money for “reconstruction” and “governance”. But Saudi Arabia does not have humanitarian interests. Just witness the slow genocidal war it is waging on Yemen. Saudi Arabia will only support groups and populations that are willing to follow its extreme Wahhabi version of Islam.

ISIS follows largely the same creed as the Saudis do. ISIS used Saudi schoolbooks in its schools. Many of its leading members come from Saudi Arabia. It is generally assumed, with some evidence, that Saudi donors financed ISIS – at least in its early days.

The ISIS members leaving Raqqa under free passage went where? The Syrian forces fighting ISIS along the Euphrates further east report that ISIS fighters have largely vanished from the area. They either melted into the general population or moved north of the Euphrates to hand themselves over to the U.S. proxy forces. What will happen to them? Who pays to feed their families?

ISIS was born out of the Sunni resistance against the U.S, occupation of Iraq. Around 2010/11 the resistance was perceived to be a dead force. But to others it was still a valuable anti-Shia instrument and money from the Sunni gulf regimes continued to flow. The Sunni terror groups in Iraq slowly grew back. The Obama administration saw ISIS develop but intentionally let it grow for its own political purposes. The U.S. military at times supported itin its fights against the Syrian state.

ISIS is not even completely defeated, yet the seeds for its next incarnation already get sown. Thamer al-Sabhan will use the money he spends in Syria to further stir the anti-Shia pot. He will finance those who will promise him to resist the “Shia axis” of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. “Former” ISIS members will be welcome to join the “rehabilitation” work.

One hopes that the “resistance” axis in Syria will finds ways and means to kill these weeds before they grow back to size.

Jan.15, 2018 “Washington Examiner,” reported: “…A stark warning by President Erdogan of Turkey issued to U.S. forces in Syria………”Do not come between us and the terrorists, do not come between these herds of murderers and us. Otherwise we won’t be responsible for the consequences.” This latest threat pertains to a new U.S. sponsored force in northern Syria that Turkey believes is a terrorist formation…………..The issue here is not so much Turkey’s border concerns as it is a broader geopolitical struggle over areas of eastern and northern Syria currently occupied by the SDF. For various reasons http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/russia-turkey-iran-assad-axis-want-to-steal-syrias-future-the-us-must-obstruct-them/article/2641492, Bashar Assad, Iran, Russian and Turkey are all determined to see U.S. influence, as realized in the SDF, displaced from these areas, and they are taking increasingly aggressive action to effect that desire. Indeed, as I’ve explained, the Russian military might even accidentally bomb U.S. ground forces in Syria.

Trump must take charge and remind his Turkish counterpart that he is prepared to defend U.S. interests. Up until now, the U.S. has been able to deter Russian strikes on SDF forces by launching fighter jet intercepts against Russian jets that cross east and north of the Euphrates river valley. Trump should do the same in relation to any Turkish air force maneuvers that now occur.

But the president should also remain committed to his present strategy. Unless the U.S. can counterbalance Assad, Erdogan, Putin, and Khamenei in Syria, the seeds of ISIS 2.0 will find fertile plains.

End Notes:

Free Passage Deal For ISIS In Raqqa-Video Shows

After free passage negotiations with the U.S. and its Kurdish proxy forces, ISIS is moving its fighters out of Raqqa city. When the Syrian government reached similar agreements the U.S. childishly criticized it. The U.S. coalition claims that it was “not involved in the discussions” that led to the Raqqa free passage agreement. A BBC News report shows that the opposite is true.

Over the last two years the U.S. and its Kurdish proxy force in Syria made several deals with the Islamic State. In 2016, for example, they negotiated a deal with Islamic State fighters to move from Manbij to the Turkish border to avoid further casualties in the fight about the city.

But when in August 2017 Hizbullah and the Lebanese and Syrian government negotiated a deal with some 300 besieged ISIS fighters and their families at the Lebanese-Syria border, the U.S. loudly protested. The U.S. military blocked and threatened to bomb the evacuation convoy over several days and the U.S. envoy McGurk ranted against it:

7:20 AM – 30 Aug 2017 – Brett McGurk @brett_mcgurkIrreconcilable #ISIS terrorists should be killed on the battlefield, not bused across #Syria to the Iraqi border without #Iraq’s consent 1/2
Our @coalition will help ensure that these terrorists can never enter #Iraq or escape from what remains of their dwindling “caliphate.” 2/2

Over the last months U.S. supported Kurdish proxy fighters besieged the city of Raqqa and fought to take it from ISIS. An immense amount of U.S. bombs was released to lower the casualty numbers of the U.S.proxy forces. The city was literally “destroyed to save it”. Many of its civilian inhabitants were killed. During the last days rumors abounded that a deal was made between the U.S. and ISIS. It would give ISIS fighters free passage when leaving the city. Today these rumors were confirmed:

[SOHR] received information from Knowledgeable and independent sources confirming reaching a deal between the International Coalition and the Syria Democratic Forces in one hand; and the “Islamic State” organization in the other hand, and the deal stated the exit of the remaining members of the “Islamic State” organization out of Al-Raqqah city.The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirms that this agreement has happened, and confirms that all the Syrian members were gotten out already, and if some members remained until now it is because they are of the non-Syrian nationalities of whom the French Intelligence objects getting them out of Al-Raqqah city, where the French Intelligence considers that some of those involved in Paris Attack are present inside the city …

Other sources said that buses had arrived to take the leaving ISIS fighters towards the Syrian-Iraqi border area. Local officials say that foreign fighters with ISIS are also leaving. The U.S. coalition generally confirms the evacuation, but it denies any involvement:

A convoy of vehicles is staged to depart Raqqah Oct. 14 under an arrangement brokered by the Raqqah Civil Council and local Arab tribal elders Oct. 12.

The Coalition was not involved in the discussions that led to the arrangement, but believes it will save innocent lives and allow Syrian Democratic Forces and the Coalition to focus on defeating Daesh terrorists in Raqqah with less risk of civilian casualties.

The hypocrisy stinks to high heaven. A deal made by Hizbullah with besieged ISIS fighters and their families was condemned. The evacuation convoy was blocked for days in the desert by U.S. drones and air interdiction.

Now the U.S. and its allies make a similar deal and let ISIS leave its besieged position. They bus those fighters towards the Syrian-Iraqi border where Syrian government forces are engaged in heavy battles against ISIS.

What is next? CENTCOM providing ISIS with air transport to the Israeli border? There ISIS is free to openly train new forces. The area is safe from Syrian and Russian attacks. The Israeli airforce keeps anyone away who might be hostile to ISIS.

The U.S. says: “The Coalition was not involved in the discussions”. That is a lie. Only two days ago BBC News reported on the meeting where the deal was discussed and then made.

U.S. General Jim Glynn meeting on October 12 with Raqqa officials to negotiate the deal. While the General claimed at that time that no deal was made, later news and the situation today proves the opposite. ISIS convoys are moving out of Raqqa and the U.S. and its proxy forces are sitting tight and simply watch them leave. No U.S. air asset is blocking the convoy and no Brett .

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Haftar Troops Violations Extended to Graves’ Exhumation

smc.sd— In a move that drew condemnation from various circles, the forces of Khalifa Haftar exhumed of 118 graves in the area of Sirte, Libya, including dead Justce and |Equality Movement (JEM) forces during the clashes in Al-Hilal Oil area last year, which was interpreted as an attempt to cover up by the forces of Haftar on the participation of JEM In fighting with them.
The step of digging the graves comes as an attempt to hide all the evidence for the participation of mercnaries in the battle of Al-Hilal Oil, where Colonel Salem Deryag, commander of operations in the central region, confirmed, in a letter to Haftar, that presence of the bodies of JEM in Sirte may cause problems in the future. He said that he held a meeting with Hilal Baamoud (apparently the coordination officer with the rebel movement) to convince Ali Eshaq Jaber, the field commander of the friendly forces (JEM) to dig these graves and bury them in remote places away from the pastoral areas, asking Hafter orders on the re-burial of the bodies of the dead of the movement in the valleys of Sharif or Zogiat or in Bon in the suburbs of Zellah.
This incident brings to mind the fact that the fighters of Haftar, in March, exhumed the bodies of the dead of the Shura Council of Benghazi rebels when they enter the area of ??Qunfotha, where these bodies were subjected to the deportation, representation and hanging, and the most prominent incident in Benghazi is the exhumation of the grave of the prominent military commander of the Revolutionary Council, Jalal Al-Makhzoum, where the body was placed on a car, roused by the armed forces of Haftar in Benghazi, amid a state of hysteria of joy and shooting and screaming and insulting and cursing and spitting on it, and then hanged the body.
A number of Libyan in social networking sites considered that what happened was barbaric in violation of Islamic law and not suitable for Muslims and against all human rights standards.
Haftar used for harboring and supporting rebel movements in Sudan, focusing on sheltering some of the fleeing of JEM remnants after its collapse and expulsion from Darfur, and attracting them to fight with him, where Haftar rewarded the rebel movements with supplying them with arms and equipment with the help of some countries and entities hostile to the Libyan national accord government.
Haftar has used, since his appearance, to get help of Darfur movements to fight with him, where Sudan has not been spared over the past years from the hostility of the man, who has been striving to turn Darfur into a hotbed of conflict and fighting as he has done in Libyan cities. The negative effects of cooperation between Haftar and mercenary movements have spread to include the Libyan people, who have been suffering from mercenary practices of looting and killing, as well as commanders of Haftar, who have caused corruption in Libya.
It is known that JEM has turned to fighting with Major General Haftar’s forces in accordance with a prior agreement in order to obtain funds and weapons in order to regain its forces after all its military strongholds have lost after military defeats inflicted by the Sudanese Armed Forces in Darfur and have been fighting in Libya despite UN appeals, which has already demanded their exit from Libya.
Darfur movements mercenaries represented a significant presence in the Libyan scene, where they participated with the forces of Hafter in clashes with the guard forces of oil facilities to control the port of Ras Lanuf and the vicinity of the port of Sidra, but the Guard forces recovered, after days, control of AL-Hilal Oil area in the eastern Libyan, where on Al-Hasi, a spokesman for the Petroleum Services Guard, Central Branch, accused the JEM of participating in the attack led by the forces of Haftar, pointing out that the rebel movement launched an attack on the said area to control it.
The cooperation of the Darfur movements with Haftar and their entry into the Libyan conflict is considered suicide by the movements, which are seeking weapons from Libya to continue the war inside Sudan from Darfur.
Observers believe that the Darfur movements will be the biggest loser because they have not been able to read the situation correctly either in Sudan or in Libya and the step of digging graves is confirmed the participation of mercenary forces in fighting with the forces of Haftar.
There is no doubt that the exhumation of graves is a violation of international and humanity law and violation of the sanctity of the dead, since all legal legislation in the world prohibits insulting the human after his death.

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Shake-up at Pentagon intelligence agency sparks concern

JENNA MCLAUGHLIN | Foreign Policy |When Kim Jong Un gears up to launch a ballistic missile, analysts at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency comb through satellite imagery, looking for distinct signs on the the ground in North Korea indicating test preparations are underway.

Now, the U.S. agency is in the midst of a concentrated push – what some have called a reorganization – emphasizing the use of advanced technology to do analysis typically done by humans, five sources with knowledge of the matter told Foreign Policy.

That shift in priorities is worrying some veteran imagery analysts who fear that their jobs might drastically change, and the technology being pushed isn’t mature enough to replace human skill and analytic capability. Those working inside and with the agency say it’s unclear exactly what the changes entail, but it’s scaring some employees, who worry the reorganization is part of a push to move work done by human analysts to artificial intelligence, and to outsource some of NGA’s work.

The agency’s director, Robert Cardillo, appears to be “doing away with imagery analysis, NGA’s bread and butter,” at least the way such analysis has historically been done, one former intelligence official with knowledge of the reorganization told FP.

NGA is an important, albeit low-profile, part of the intelligence community. While the National Reconnaissance Office is responsible for the satellites that collect earth imagery and data, NGA plots the information on maps for use by the military and the intelligence community. In places where it is near-impossible to send in human sources, the military and intelligence community can get a bird’s-eye view of the landscape.

In 2011, for example, analysts at the agency helped locate the Abbottabad compound in Pakistan where Osama bin Laden was living in his final years. The agency even helped build the replica of the compound used to train special operations forces for the 2011 raid that led to the killing of al-Qaida’s founder.

In an interview with FP, Cardillo confirmed that there were changes underway that involved advanced technology, but he denied it was pushing people out of jobs or moving too fast with technology.

“It might feel like a really big reorganization to some folks,” Cardillo told FP. “The fact of the matter is, from this office, I’ve done very little reorganization. We’ve closed down a shop or two to realign some efforts. Most recently, I did change my top tier of leadership.. . . I now call it an executive committee.”

About a year and a half ago, Cardillo named a new head of the directorate of analysis within NGA, what he calls the “heart” of the agency. The director, Sue Kalweit, is “trying to create an entrepreneurial spirit,” he said. “But we start and finish our day with tradecraft.”

But technology, particularly machine learning that can allow computers to scan the massive stockpile of imagery in NGA’s possession, is attractive to the agency.

While some inside the intelligence agency feel these changes are inevitable and will help move NGA into the 21st century, the restructuring is troubling some of its employees, particularly its veteran imagery analysts, who are worried their jobs are at risk and are seeking positions in other government agencies or considering early retirement.

Those inside the agency are also concerned that artificial intelligence is not yet advanced enough to truly replace most aspects of human analysis. Even with advanced technology, “imagery analysis is so vital for all these hard targets we follow,” the former intelligence official said.

Some of those hard targets might include North Korea and Iran, where imagery analysts are critical to identifying nuclear sites, for example. NGA is one of the biggest contributors of intelligence on North Korea and places a premium on providing detailed insight into the country.

NGA’s plan is already sending shock waves throughout the intelligence community, with concerns that traditional imagery analysis is at risk of disappearing, according to the former intelligence official. The CIA’s Directorate of Analysis is working to replace some of the imagery analysis capabilities it fears might be lost under the reorganization, and it is assembling teams to focus on Russia and Iran, the former official said.

Cardillo has in the past publicly advocated for moving toward artificial intelligence, including plans to replace three-quarters of analysts’ tasks with computers. Cardillo is “all in on [artificial intelligence],” a second source, who does business with NGA, told FP, while expressing doubt that the technology is really at the level it needs to be to stand in for trained human professionals.

Cardillo doesn’t deny the emphasis on advanced technology but tells FP he “doesn’t like the term ‘artificial intelligence'” and instead prefers “computer learning and computer vision.”

“The fundamentals of our job are to take images of the planet from all sources, some government and some commercial, and create an understanding of man-made activity around the globe,” he said. “I’m optimistic about the advances in machine learning on that part” to track, for example, “a ship in a port, a plane on a runway.”

Artificial intelligence is booming, attracting talented scientists and researchers around the globe. China has invested billions in developing infrastructure to take advantage of breakthroughs in the field.

However, the technology remains rudimentary in many respects, particularly in imagery analysis. “Imagery analysis is a skill set – you have to be taught,” another former intelligence analyst told FP. “AI is not able to replace analysts in this sense, or any other. The capability is not there.”

In the commercial sector, for example, Google was infamously called out for labeling African-Americans as gorillas via its image recognition software, and the stakes are much higher in the intelligence world for such errors.

“We’re well aware of the impact of us making a mistake: It’s putting troops in danger,” Cardillo said. “We invest heavily . . . on testing and evaluation.” If the United States needs to “employ kinetic force somewhere . . . no target is struck until a human analyst affirms that what was automated was correct. We are not turning over that kind of decision to computers.”

Artificial intelligence is improving over time in pattern recognition and statistical analysis, said Todd Hughes, the chief technology officer at Next Century Corp. “This occurs by giving a system a set of examples or class of objects that makes intuitive sense to an end user . . . like faces, vehicles, weapons, trees, or what have you,” he told FP in an interview. “It’s actually not that sophisticated.”

Hughes, who previously worked as a program manager at the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, where he focused on research into automating imagery analysis, said machines could be well suited to rote tasks such as scanning endless numbers of pictures for specific objects. “Humans are actually not that great at it. Humans have limitations of attention and fatigue much more quickly than you would think,” he said. “Machines can go on forever.”

Machines might provide “tools that will help [analysts] do their jobs more efficiently,” Hughes said, but they wouldn’t be taking the place of humans working in the intelligence agencies anytime soon. “To think that there’s going to be some wholesale replacement . . . is roughly overstating it,” he said.

Regardless, for employees at the agency who believe their jobs are being taken by machines, the concerns about the reorganization are real. “Morale is very low,” said the source who does business with NGA.

Cardillo, however, said attrition rates from NGA are within historical rates. But he acknowledges he could lose analysts, particularly to private industry, where salaries are higher.

Looking into the future, Cardillo acknowledged the limits of using computing to replace humans, but he said it’s a matter of knowing where machine learning can be applied.

“Computers are very good at identifying what is in an image, but not good at identifying what’s not in an image,” he said. “To those who say this isn’t working, or we aren’t making progress, I think we are.”

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Jilin Daily (China’s official media) carried full page article of how to survive a nuclear fallout????????????

On Dec 6, #JilinDaily published a feature on #nuclearweapons and how to protect in case of #nuclearradiation. This led many in northern #China to ask if the newspaper report is an anticipation of a #UnitedStates military action against ‘s missile test.

via Jilin Daily (China’s official media) carried full page article of how to survive a nuclear fallout????????????

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Jilin Daily (China’s official media) carried full page article of how to survive a nuclear fallout????????????

“On Dec 6, #JilinDaily published a feature on #nuclearweapons and how to protect in case of #nuclearradiation. This led many in northern #China to ask if the newspaper report is an anticipation of a #UnitedStates military action against #NorthKorea ‘s missile test.”-Author

Revealing the extreme direness of the situation on the Korean Peninsula, a state-run Chinese media outlet based in a province bordering North Korea and Russia — the Jilin Daily — published a “common sense” guide for surviving a nuclear war, according to Reuters.

A provincial rag like this would get very little funding from SAPPRFT (Guangdian) or the party, it’d get maybe lower rents and taxes, a building and a broadcasting licence if you are a TV station. They are otherwise on their own and have to cater to their audience like any other newspaper.

Some editor gave some sub-editor a page to play with and they think it’s a good idea… probably for the reasons you are insinuating. That’s all. If you think this is out there you should see what Hunan TV or Southern Group are up to. And both of those are FAR higher up the totempole on the ‘state media’ hierarchy than Jilin Daily.

Now, if People’s Daily or the People’s Liberation Army Daily were to carry this… yeah, I might start worrying.

Although the full-page article of guidelines doesn’t specifically mention North Korea, the warning was clearly a result of the increasing tensions between a nuclear-armed DPRK, and the United States.

The influential Chinese state-run Global Times described the article as a public service announcement due to the situation on the Korean peninsula.

“If war breaks out, it is not possible to rule out the Korean peninsula producing nuclear contaminants, and countermeasures must be seriously researched and spoken openly about to let the common folk know. But at the same time, there is absolutely no reason to be alarmed,” the Global Times said.

Tensions with the U.S. have increased dramatically since North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test in September. Just weeks ago, the DPRK launched a Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which demonstrated a theoretical capability to conduct a nuclear strike anywhere across the whole of the U.S. mainland.

Citizens in Jilin have reported feeling tremors when the North tested a nuclear device, according to The Daily Caller.

“It’s natural that Jilin province is more sensitive to the situation on the Korean peninsula, given its special geographic location. It’s necessary for the provincial paper to publish information on nuclear weapons,” the Global Times wrote in a Chinese-language editorial.

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[​IMG] when being asked about it, the officials said it’s completely normal public education, but…… yeah, nobody’s buying that.

The published guidelines note that nuclear weapons utilize five means of causing destruction: light radiation, blast waves, early-stage nuclear radiation, nuclear electromagnetic pulses, and radioactive pollution. The article goes on to explain that the first four kill instantaneously.

The Jilin Daily encouraged people caught outside when the bomb goes off to dive into a ditch, river, or lake and cover any exposed skin.

According to a report by Reuters, the Jilin Daily guidelines noted that:

According to a report from Defense One:

And there you have it.

Although officially — “no one is panicking” — simultaneously preparing for a nuclear attack and flood of refugees says otherwise.

The Chinese government has previously said that they reject military intervention, but in the event that the U.S. launches a preemptive strike on North Korea – the Chinese military WILL intervene in defense of the North.

Make no mistake that the world is teetering on the brink of an extreme nuclear catastrophe.

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Flight MH-370…The year is 2018.

JeremyJenki-It wasn’t food or water which ran out first. It was patience.

“Let us out! Let us out!” we chanted, over and over. They had us trapped behind a thick sheet of Plexiglas, running all around the entire body of the aircraft. We had thought nothing of the delay at first, but the pilot’s increasingly frantic updates over the PA, coupled with the burgeoning security forces around the perimeter, soon made it clear that far more sinister was at play.

Two hours in, the crew deployed the emergency landing chutes. We scooted out, desperately drinking in the fresh air. Then, with one mind, we swarmed to the Plexiglas, beating on it with our fists, demanding answers.

“I’ve got family to return to!”

“You can’t do this to us, we’ve got rights!”

“I demand to speak to someone who’s in charge!”

But they remained silent, the ring of guards who surrounded us. They were stoic, I granted them that much. Despite the rising protests, they refused to engage with any of us, speaking only to each other and into their walkie-talkies. Before long, army trucks rolled up onto the tarmac, vomiting out scores of heavily-armed soldiers who bolstered the cordon cutting us off from the world. As the sun began its retreat, helicopters swooped in with beacons of light, slicing through the encroaching darkness.

One of the other passengers noticed it first. “Hey, hey everyone,” he said. “I’ve got family in the Chinese army. Something’s not… right. Their uniforms, they don’t look like that. Their weapons too. Something’s different…”

The inconsistencies began to add up, and the questions bubbled like broth over an unattended stove. Why did the exterior of the airport look different to the frequent travellers? Why wasn’t anyone able to connect to the phone networks? Why were people able to identify the presence of Wi-Fi signals with their devices, but were unable to connect, receiving only vague error messages of ‘Please update your system software’?”

A full-scale riot was building up on our side of the Plexiglas, and we quietened down only when a single figure emerged from behind the security cordon, spotlights trained on him as he approached. The ranks on his uniform gave us little doubt that he was in charge. He cleared his throat, tapped on a little button on his collar, then spoke. His voice, amplified by unseen machines, carried clearly over to us.

“Passengers of Flight MH-370, my name is Lieutenant-General Zheng. Please listen carefully to what I have to say.

“This is the year 2018. This is not 8 March 2014. I wish I were joking, but this is not the case. Your flight disappeared in our world, and years were spent searching for you. We found pieces of your wreckage, and most believed that you had crashed. It was difficult for us, but eventually, mostly, we moved on.

“Yet here you are, against all conceivable logic. As you waited, long-range cameras were used to scan you, and your family members have verified your identities. Well, most of you, at least. I’m sorry to inform that for some of you, your only known family members have passed on in the interim. Again, I’m sorry.

“We will let you out as soon as we can. Right this moment, the world’s top scientists have gathered in our country, and they are studying each and every piece of data we can scrape from this. Options are being conceived and challenged vigorously, and every effort is being taken to return you to a life of normalcy as soon as possible, so that you may to continue with whatever pieces of your lives remain.

“In the meantime, please be patient. Once we have determined what we should do, which one of you should be released, you will have your freedom, that I solemnly promise. Thank you.”

We started shouting again, angry at the non-answers we had received. But we quietened soon enough, as another plane began to land, its exterior marked with the exact same colours as ours. The moment it came to a stop, thick walls of Plexiglas shot up out of the ground, trapping it the same way as ours.

More security personnel spilled out of yet more trucks, encircling that plane as well. I saw Lieutenant-General Zheng shake his head in frustration, as he now made his way over to repeat the same speech.

He made that same speech three more times in the next few hours, as more and more Flight MH-370s landed at the airport.

From a distance, through multiple layers of Plexiglas, wearing the same befuddled expression as I no doubt had…

… I found myself staring at, well, what appeared to be other versions of myself.

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Twitter “shadow banning” exposed

Twitter has been long accused of shadow banning and manipulating various metrics of user accounts. As Paul Joseph Watson of InfoWars reported in August, 2016, Twitter was accused of suppressing tweets from then-candidate Trump in the home stretch of the US election, which some have construed as interfering:

via Twitter “shadow banning” exposed

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Twitter “shadow banning” exposed

… blocking opposing views

Tyler Durden —In the latest of a series of undercover operations targeting the mainstream media and now Social Media, James O’Keefe of Project Veritas has just dropped a new undercover video which reveals Twitter “shadow banning” and creating algorithms that censor certain ideas.

The first clip features a former Twitter software engineer who explains how/why Twitter “shadow bans” certain users:

Abhinav Vadrevu:  “One strategy is to shadow ban so you have ultimate control. The idea of a shadow ban is that you ban someone but they don’t know they’ve been banned, because they keep posting but no one sees their content.”

“So they just think that no one is engaging with their content, when in reality, no one is seeing it. I don’t know if Twitter does this anymore.”

Meanwhile, Olinda Hassan, a Policy Manager for Twitter’s Trust and Safety team explains on December 15th, 2017 at a Twitter holiday party that the development of a system of “down ranking” “shitty people” is in the works:

“Yeah. That’s something we’re working on. It’s something we’re working on. We’re trying to get the shitty people to not show up. It’s a product thing we’re working on right now.”

In the full video (see below) Twitter Content Review Agent Mo Nora explains that Twitter doesn’t have an official written policy that targets conservative speech, but rather they were following “unwritten rules from the top”:

“A lot of unwritten rules, and being that we’re in San Francisco, we’re in California, very liberal, a very blue state. You had to be… I mean as a company you can’t really say it because it would make you look bad, but behind closed doors are lots of rules.”

“There was, I would say… Twitter was probably about 90% Anti-Trump, maybe 99% Anti-Trump.”

Meanwhile, Pranay Singh reveals again just how creepy Twitter can be by digging into your profile and conversation history to determine whether or not you’re a “redneck” and therefore worthy of being banned:

“Yeah you look for Trump, or America, and you have like five thousand keywords to describe a redneck. Then you look and parse all the messages, all the pictures, and then you look for stuff that matches that stuff.”

When asked if the majority of the algorithms are targeted against conservative or liberal users of Twitter, Singh said, “I would say majority of it are for Republicans.”

Twitter has been long accused of shadow banning and manipulating various metrics of user accounts. As Paul Joseph Watson of InfoWars reported in August, 2016, Twitter was accused of suppressing tweets from then-candidate Trump in the home stretch of the US election, which some have construed as interfering:

Twitter is provably censoring Donald Trump in order to prevent him raising money for his presidential campaign.

A tweet sent out by Trump yesterday to promote his #MillionDollarMatch donation drive does not appear on Trump’s profile page nor did it appear on the feed of anyone following him.

You can check for yourself. Here is the tweet sent out by Trump yesterday and here is his main profile page – which doesn’t show the tweet. The tweet has been buried as if it never existed.

Trump tweet in which he declared that “the establishment and special interests are absolutely killing our country” was also shadow banned by Twitter back in April.

While Twitter is censoring Trump, it has repeatedly been accused of gaming its algorithms in support of Hillary. Back in February, users were irate after the social media giant appeared to censor the anti-Hillary hashtag #WhichHillary after it started trending.

Then in October, 2016, Dilbert creator Scott Adams was “shadowbanned” by  Twitter, which he noted on his blog:

This weekend I got “shadowbanned” on Twitter. It lasted until my followers noticed and protested. Shadowbanning prevents my followers from seeing my tweets and replies, but in a way that is not obvious until you do some digging.

Why did I get shadowbanned?

It was probably because I asked people to tweet me examples of Clinton supporters being violent against peaceful Trump supporters in public. I got a lot of them. It was chilling.

Late last week my Twitter feed was invaded by an army of Clinton trolls (it’s a real thing) leaving sarcastic insults and not much else on my feed. There was an obvious similarity to them, meaning it was organized.

At around the same time, a bottom-feeder at Slate wrote a hit piece on me that had nothing to do with anything. Except obviously it was politically motivated. It was so lame that I retweeted it myself. The timing of the hit piece might be a coincidence, but I stopped believing in coincidences this year.

And in March of 2017, Twitter was caught by Ed Dowd – a politically active former BlackRock money manager who noted in early February that Twitter was both “un-retweeting” several of his politically charged posts.

In one instance, Dowd made a decidedly subversive tweet pointing out that the NSA and CIA are “wiretapping” the entire country via continuously archived data collection – a story which Wired magazine broke in 2006 and gained tremendous clarity through the acts of whistleblower Edward Snowden.

When Mr. Dowd checked his twitter feed hours after sending the tweet, he saw that it had accumulated 13 Retweets and 38 Likes. Given the subject matter, he decided to take a screenshot. Lo and behold, upon reloading the tweet five minutes later, Dowd discovered that 11 retweets had mysteriously vanished.

Another phenomenon Dowd noticed was that while he would gain followers throughout the day, there was a reliable “purge” of followers in the dead of night, all around the same time. He began keeping track, and though it wasn’t happening every night, it penciled out to around half a percent of his followers each time it happened, effectively capping his audience. Ed had questions; why was it almost always the same number of people? Who un-follows someone in the middle of the night? Considering most of Dowd’s followers are in North America, the un-followers were likely asleep when it was happening. The logical conclusion was that Twitter had been actively pruning Ed’s audience to limit his growth on the platform.

This isn’t the first time Twitter has throttled, censored, or banned conservatives who speak their mind. Documentarian, author, and noted Trump supporter Mike Cernovich (@cernovich) tweeted about his own fan base evaporating around the same time as Dowd began experiencing the un-follows:

Of course, only time will tell if Twitter will take steps to ban political targeting in light of these new embarrassing revelations from Project Veritas…we have our doubts.

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Whistleblower accuses Prime Minister of corruption. Why Russians ignore it

RUSSIA DIRECT-anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny will likely strengthen the positions of the Kremlin and the prime minister.

Pictured: Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Photo: Kremlin.ru

This week the Russian anti-corruption whistleblower and a presidential candidate, Alexey Navalny, published a scandalous investigation targeting the country’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

According to the probe, Medvedev and his family have several luxurious residences built in several Russian regions and abroad. Moreover, he is reported to possess expensive yachts, mansions and vineyards inside and outside the country, with his real estate registered under offshore and charity companies.

Video by Foundation for Countering Corruption

The Moscow-based Foundation for Countering Corruption (FBK), headed by Navalny, gives arguments that the Russian prime minister possesses all these amenities by providing the photos from Medvedev’s Instagram and the drone footages of his mansions. The documents that Navalny’s colleagues obtained indicate Medvedev’s entire “empire” is allegedly funded through the networks of the charity foundations, which receive billions of rubles from businessmen and bank loans.

Thus, the head of the Russian government was accused of large-scale corruption. The cost of all mentioned assets is about 70 billion rubles (around $1 billion), according to the estimates of the Navalny team. Summing up, the whistleblower claims that “the entire system of power is entirely rotten” and called Russian voters to support him during the 2018 presidential elections.

The presidential candidate seems to have made a very strong political move and his opponents from the Kremlin have to work hard to respond adequately to the serious accusations. However, as indicated by their responses to Navalny’s previous investigations, the Russian authorities don’t need something extraordinary to refute the accusations from the anti-corruption campaigner. Nor does Medvedev have to deal with the charges against him.

The first reaction from the Russian government and the Kremlin clearly indicates that the country’s leadership uses the same well-elaborated approach — those at the helm just point fingers to the fact that Navalny is himself facing criminal charges for alleged embezzlement. They just describe his probe as “anti-government propaganda” and suggest ignoring it. And for ordinary Russians, this rhetoric looks like a persuasive argument, so that they don’t take Navalny’s investigation seriously — such a scenario is almost impossible in most European countries and the United States.

In part, the problem stems from the way Russians understand relations between the authorities and business. They look at it from a totally different angle, which is not common for the West. Russia’s perception of what an official can or cannot do is based on its painful post-Soviet experience and a sophisticated system of traditional views on the nature of power and private property (that goes back almost to the medieval times).

Throughout Russian history, private property has always been under meticulous government control, while the officials affiliated with the authorities had tacit and wide opportunities for self-enrichment. During the Soviet times private property was forbidden, however this step failed to root out rampant corruption. In the post-Soviet times, Russian society went through the privatization of the government assets and this reform was supposed to have built the foundation for “civilized” relations between the authorities and business, based on the rule of law.

However, in reality, the 1990s privatization turned out to have been only the first step in this direction, which failed eventually. The problem is that many government officials who carried out the transfer of the Soviet multi-billion state wealth into the hands of resourceful businessmen, believed that they also had a right to the wealth.

One can say that the entire epoch of Russian President Vladimir Putin is the period when the Kremlin dealt with a misbalance in distributing “government assets” between businessmen and officials.

And, according to this logic, Navalny is fairly distressed with the rampant corruption in Putin’s Russia. From the moral point of view, it is important and even necessary to be a muckraker in the current situation. Yet it is quite naive to belive that the people’s anger will foster a sound and robust institute of private property — it looks especially naive coming from a presidential candidate.

Many commentators argue that Navalny’s anti-corruption exposés isolated him from the Russian political mainstream as well as other centers of power. After all, he accused liberals (Medvedev), centrists and conservatives (Russia’s Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika).

At the same time, Navalny and his supporters are sensitive to criticism from other Russian opposition groups — from those who rebuke Navalny for his tough moralism. They believe that such an approach is counterproductive as a tool of political rivalry in modern Russia, boggled down in cynicism. The inevitable schism within the Russian opposition will only hamper his electoral chances in 2018.

As a result, Navalny’s new investigation is highly likely to strengthen Putin’s positions as well as the positions of Medvedev himself: It is well-known that the Russian president supports the members of his team more rigorously (and with greater tenacity) if they are faced with external pressure or under attack.

Ironically, Navalny won’t be able to persuade ordinary Russian people with his moralism. They just might come up with the conclusion that the authorities, at least, can control oligarchs and force them to contribute to their prosperity and growth. But Navalny’s attempts to hold the authorities accountable will play only against him. So will the fact that the Russian opposition cannot unite and create a politically viable and competitive coalition.

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HHUGS first Muslim charity in the UK to accept cryptocurrency for donations

Helping Households Under Great Stress (HHUGS) has become the first Muslim charity in the UK to accept cryptocurrencies as a form of donation.

The London-based charity which provides financial, emotional and practical support to Muslim families impacted by counter-terrorism laws made the announcement last week.

HHUGS is now the first UK-registered Muslim charity to accept cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum and Litecoin as forms of donation.

Speaking to 5Pillars, trustee Fahad Ansari said: “The public interest in Bitcoin spiked in the second half of last year, and we became aware of potential donors who believed in the alternative currency and were eager to donate to our cause.

“This led us to explore the technical possibilities as well as Islamic and legal issues around cryptocurrency, to eventually accepting them as donations.”

However, the permissibility of cryptocurrencies as a legitimate currency and commodity from an Islamic standpoint has been the cause of much debate, especially on social media.

Whilst a minority of scholars have taken clear positions on the matter, the vast majority of prominent UK scholars and European fatwa councils are still looking into cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

When asked how HHUGS overcame this dilemma, Mr Ansari said: “We are aware of the controversy surrounding Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies from a legal, financial and an Islamic perspective, which is why we carried out due diligence to make sure we are well within the legal, Islamic and ethical limits.

“From a legal standpoint, HMRC has released guidance on Bitcoin which at least legitimises the use of cryptocurrencies, and for all intents and purposes considers them currencies where VAT laws and capital gains tax apply, as they would to fiat currencies. There are also a number of prominent charities in the UK accepting Bitcoin donations and the number is increasing.

“From an Islamic perspective, we were aware of views in favour of Bitcoin, as well as those opposed to it in concept, and those who were neutral, and our trustees made a conscious decision to adopt the view that cryptocurrency is a legitimate type of currency which is subject to the laws of usury, Zakat and other Islamic laws that apply to all other currencies.

“We had confidence in a fatwa issued by the IslamWeb website, which is a subsidiary of the Qatari Ministry of Endowments, as well as another fatwa from the reputable IslamQA forum about digital currencies, and decided to take the leap to become the first Muslim charity in the UK to accept cryptocurrency donations.

“Since our last announcement, based on frequent requests, we are now accepting donations in Ethereum, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash, the three most popular currencies after Bitcoin, which are now available at the popular exchange site Coinbase.

“Ethically, however, our long term interest is not to invest in cryptocurrency due to the volatility of the market, given that we are not at liberty to make such decisions on behalf of our donors. We therefore plan to cash all Bitcoin donations as and when they arrive, rather than allowing it to incubate in hope that it grows.

“However, if a donor would like to donate specifically for us to invest and grow for future sustainability of the charity, we would be eager to look into it.”

HHUGS trustee Fahad Ansari

Besides discussions among financial and religious leaders, there have also been questions around the practical everyday use of crytpocurrencies aside from it being a digital asset with a store of value.

However, Mr Ansari confirmed that for now crytpocurrency will only be used by HHUGS for donations but it may have a wider purpose if there is mass adoption in the near future.

“For the moment, cryptocurrency will only be a means of donation. We do not provide support to our beneficiaries in form of cash for legal reasons and instead directly pay the vendor for their costs,” he said.

Mr Ansari added: “As more and more businesses adopt Bitcoin, we see a future where even some of beneficiary costs may be covered with Bitcoin or an alternative currency.”

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Netizen Report: Iranian Authorities Are Blocking International Web Traffic and Messaging Platforms

Amid the powerful wave of public protests that have taken place across Iran over the past week, authorities have taken firm measures to clamp down on communication and information-sharing over platforms like Telegram and Instagram.

On January 2, sources who work at Iran’s internet exchange point told the Center for Human Rights in Iran that the government ordered them to disrupt access to international traffic. This means that international data cannot be accessed at certain periods in Iran.

These and other restrictions have been on the rise since 28 December, when protests broke out in the northeastern city of Mashhad over unemployment, rising food prices, and charges of wrongdoing directed at both reformist and conservative government leaders. The demonstrations spread to smaller towns and major cities by 29 December.

On 31 December, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting service announced that authorities had “temporarily” suspended Telegram and Instagram “to preserve the peace and security of citizens.” This is a serious move in Iran, where other large-scale platforms like Facebook and Twitter have been blocked since the 2009 Green Movement protests.

The blocking of Telegram has had especially severe consequences, as the mobile messaging app has become ubiquitous among the country’s users. Of the 45 million Iranians who are online, 40 million use Telegram for everything from staying in touch with family and friends, to reading and sharing news, to keeping up on public events—including protests. The effects of this type of censorship are far-reaching. As protests have turned violent in some cities—state media have reported that 21 people have been killed in the clashes—open communication channels become increasingly important to maintaining public safety.

Digital censorship circumvention tools have been faltering as well, due to what appear to be restrictions on their websites. Internet infrastructure companies like Digital Ocean, which hosts circumvention tools such as Lantern, have also experienced disruptions.

Despite these restrictions, Iranians are still using the internet to report and document what they’re experiencing. In a video attributed to Bandar Abbas, protesters set fire to a billboard with the image of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamanei. Global Voices author and immigration lawyer Hamid Yazdan Panahdescribed this as “an act of rage and defiance that goes beyond the price of eggs or the desire for political reform.”

DRC sees internet shutdown ahead of protests

On December 30, authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo ordered telecommunications providers to block internet access and SMS messaging ahead of protests that took place in multiple cities on the following day. Demonstrators, many of whom were organized within church groups, are demanding that DRC president Joseph Kabila end his bid to change constitutional term limits on the presidency.

Personal data for sale in India, thanks to Aadhaar

In an attempt to investigate the security of personal data stored within Aadhaar, India’s massive national ID system, reporters at the Tribune of India were able to gain “unrestricted access to details for any of the more than 1 billion Aadhaar numbers created in India thus far,” simply by responding to an advertisement circulated via WhatsApp and paying the anonymous poster 500 rupees (about USD $7.90). India’s Unique Identification Authority (UIDAI) says the Tribune “misreported” the story. Read the Tribune’s response here.

Pakistan’s cybercrime law will soon cover blasphemy online

The Federal Cabinet of Pakistan approved an amendment to the country’s 2016 Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, extending the law to address expressions of blasphemy and pornography on the internet. These will now be categorized as criminal offenses under the law, and could pave the way for criminal charges against anyone who posts social media content that could be interpreted as blasphemous.

Spying on us? Not so fast, says German court

On December 13, 2017, the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig, Germany ruled in favor of a complaint filed by Reporters Without Borders against Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, BND. The decision stipulates that the BND may not store metadata, such as phone numbers and the time and date of a call, for international calls, for the purposes of intelligence analysis. This should have a big impact on BND, which, thanks to a series of documents leaked to Zeit Online in 2015, collects an average of 220 billion pieces of metadata each day.

Can 7500 people really manage all the hate speech on Facebook?

After reviewing 900 crowdsourced examples of hate speech on Facebook, investigative journalism outlet ProPublica found that nearly two dozen hateful posts were not removed by Facebook, despite users’ efforts to report them. ProPublica also reported that Facebook employs roughly 7500 people to review reports of hate speech, for an estimated 2.2 billion active users around the world. The report explained:

In 22 cases, Facebook said its reviewers had made a mistake. In 19, it defended the rulings. In six cases, Facebook said the content did violate its rules but its reviewers had not actually judged it one way or the other because users had not flagged it correctly, or the author had deleted it. In the other two cases, it said it didn’t have enough information to respond.

Germany starts enforcing ‘Netz DG’ hate speech law

The start of 2018 marks the start of full enforcement of Germany’s controversial Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz anti-hate speech law, called the NetzDG for short. Under the law, social media companies must respond to government requests to remove illegal content—including hate speech and so-called “fake news”—within 24 hours of receipt. Companies will have up to seven days to consider the removal of more ambiguous material. Facebook, Twitter and Google/YouTube will be the primary focus for the law’s implementation.

Germany’s criminal code already defines hate speech, so the law does not create new measures or definitions. Instead, it forces companies to police hate speech or face astronomical fines. The law is unprecedented at the global level, and could have game-changing ripple effects worldwide.

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The ‘Charlottesville Effect’ on the Canadian Far-Right

The Canadian chapter of Worldwide Coalition Against Islam (WCAI), a hate group active in the western provinces, has been making itself heard this past year by organizing anti-Muslim demonstrations. WCAI Canada’s Facebook account has also published overtly violent posts, including one about a refugee center in Germany that was burned down with a caption that read: ‘we should do this too’.

via The ‘Charlottesville Effect’ on the Canadian Far-Right

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The ‘Charlottesville Effect’ on the Canadian Far-Right

Muftah–Nothing as dramatic as the August 2017 “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville, Virginia has occurred in Canada recently. But, right wing extremism is still very much a looming presence in the country. Hate crimes against minority groups, particularly Canadian Muslims, have been increasing. The steady formation of right-wing organizations, some militant and white nationalist in character, has also been documented by experts and Canadian authorities.

The phenomenon has led to several high-profile incidents this year. The Quebéc City mosque, attacked by a gunman in January 2017 (leaving six Muslim Canadians dead), has since been threatened again. The car belonging to the mosque’s president, Mohammed Labidi, was deliberately torched in August, only thirty-six hours after the city announced the sale of land to create the region’s first Muslim cemetery. Jagmeet Singh, a Sikh Canadian and leader of the federal New Democratic Party, was harassed by an aggressive heckler at a talk in Brampton, Ontario in September. The heckler accused Singh of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and seeking the implementation of ‘Shari’a Law’ in Canada.

Despite these disturbing developments, right-wing hate groups in Canada have also experienced set-backs in their organizational and mobilization efforts over the past few months. While there are several reasons for this, one of the main factors is the rejection, by average Canadians, of the racist rhetoric coming from American President Donald Trump and his administration. This has been particularly evident in the mobilizations that have taken place against far-right extremism in Canada, after the Charlottesville incident.

Charlottesville’s Impact on Canadian Activism Against the Far-Right
The white nationalist terrorist attack in Charlottesville, which left one woman dead and injured numerous other anti-racist counter-protestors, was caught on camera by Canadian far-right wing media personality, Faith Goldy. Goldy was covering the events in Charlottesville for Rebel Media, a notorious Canadian right-wing news and commentary outlet.

Mere moments before a car mowed into a crowd, taking the life of anti-racism activist, Heather Meyer, Goldy criticized the anti-racist protestors via live stream and sympathized with the far-right, stating that:

There has been a rising in, I think, white racial consciousness, after decades of identity politics which underscored non-white identities. I think a lot of white men, specifically, this seems to be their struggle — are mad as hell and they’re not gonna take it anymore.

During that same weekend, Goldy was a guest on a podcast produced by the Daily Stormer, a notorious neo-Nazi website.

Rebel Media already faced heavy criticism in Canada for its xenophobic and, at times, anti-Semitic tendencies. But, after the white supremacist rally and terrorist attack in Charlottesville, there was a noticeably stronger backlash against Rebel Media because of its sympathetic coverage of white supremacy. The blowback even prompted numerous Conservative Party politicians, many of whom had previously worked with and provided interviews to Rebel Media, to publicly disavow the outlet, including the party’s newly minted leader, Andrew Scheer.

With the post-Charlottesville fallout doing so much damage, Ezra Levant, Rebel Media’s founder, fired Goldy. The firing led to a mass exodus of Rebel contributors who sought to distance themselves from the network, including its co-founder, Brian Lilley, journalist Barbara Kay, writer John Robson, as well as a British correspondent, Coalan Robertson. Suffice to say, Rebel Media is in trouble.

The Proud Boys
Rebel Media is not the only far-right entity suffering post-Charlottesville. The Proud Boys, established in 2016 by former Rebel journalist Gavin McInnes, has also seen better days. The Proud Boys is a far-right, anti-immigration, frat-like men’s organization that proudly embraces “Western chauvinism” and “traditional” gender roles.

The Halifax chapter of the Proud Boys captured national headlines on July 1, 2017, when members disrupted an indigenous remembrance and healing ceremony that was being held in front of a public statue of Edward Cornwallis, the founder of Halifax. Cornwallis is a controversial figure, because of his role in the genocide of the indigenous Mi’kmaq people. Shortly after the Proud Boys’ disruptive action, McInnes gave an interview to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in which he unapologetically defended both the Proud Boys and Cornwallis’ record, particularly his issuing of a proclamation in 1749 to pay English settlers for Mi’kmaq scalps.

Although the Proud Boys and Gavin McInnes still have their staunch supporters, they have also been thoroughly criticized in the mainstream media over recent months. This is also a result of the post-Charlottesville blowback. Indeed, events just north of the border compelled Canadian networks to recognize and more carefully scrutinize the activities and ideologies of far-right organizations.

Worldwide Coalition Against Islam, PEGIDA, and Other Far-Right Groups Struggle
Like Rebel Media and the Proud Boys, other far right actors in Canada have encountered set-backs as of late. The Canadian chapter of Worldwide Coalition Against Islam (WCAI), a hate group active in the western provinces, has been making itself heard this past year by organizing anti-Muslim demonstrations. WCAI Canada’s Facebook account has also published overtly violent posts, including one about a refugee center in Germany that was burned down with a caption that read: ‘we should do this too’.

On May 23rd, 2017, many of WCAI’s members and supporters participated in an aggressive rally outside of a high school in Red Deer, Alberta.

The rally was prompted by misinformation spread through social media about a brawl between two groups of teenaged boys, one of which was made up of Syrian refugees. According to a now debunked rumor, school workers only disciplined the Canadian-born group of students. Ostensibly incensed by this supposed “political correctness, WCAI and other groups, mostly from out of town, showed up at the school in question and intimidated students and staff to the point where police had to be called.

Since this incident, the WCAI has come under intense criticism, with one of its two main organizers pilloried for posting neo-Nazi coded language and slogans on social media. Criticisms of WCAI intensified after the group scheduled an anti-Islam rally for August 19, 2017 in Vancouver, British Columbia. The planned protest immediately led to tension and anxiety in the west coast city, particularly since Charlottesville had happened just days before. When August 19 came around, 4,000 counter-protestors showed up, successfully stopping the rally from occurring. Seemingly undeterred, WCAI planned another rally in Winnipeg, Manitoba for September 9th, 2017. 200-500 counter-demonstrators poured into the site, but not a single WCAI member was in attendance.

A group named PEGIDA (an offshoot of a xenophobic German organization), also known as Patriots Against the Islamization of the West, attempted to hold a rally in London, Ontario on August 26, 2017. Like the WCAI in Vancouver, counter-protestors, who numbered approximately 500, overwhelmed the tiny group of thirty who had come to support the far-right group.

Also taking place a few days after Charlottesville, on August 20, 2017, La Meute (The Pack), a military, anti-immigrant organization in the province of Quebéc, assembled it supporters in Quebéc City in a symbolic show of force, with the goal of marching through the Old City. Counter-protestors assembled to protest, managing to prevent around 200 La Meute members and supporters from marching by blocking the exit to an underground parking lot. After being holed up for a few hours, La Meute members managed to march with police protection. While the group claimed the incident as a victory for their movement, La Meute has been thoroughly criticized in the Canadian political scene. In August 2017, a few days after the incidents in Charlottesville, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau publicly described the group as an “angry, frustrated group of racists.” The premier of Quebéc, Philippe Couillard, has also been vocal in his disgust.

Several other far right organizations across Canada planned demonstrations for September 30, 2017, with similar results. In Peterborough, Ontario, only one far right supporter showed up to a planned demonstration that had generated a counter rally of about 1,000 people. In Windsor, Ontario, an attempted rally organized by a group calling itself the Storm Alliance was also overwhelmed by counter-protestors.

Weakened But Not Gone
The Canadian far-right has encountered many setbacks this past summer thanks to Charlottesville. Several militant groups have fragmented and have largely failed to garner mass appeal. Still, it would be premature to celebrate the death of right-wing extremism in Canada. Such movements are still quite potent in some parts of the country.

They also appear to be responding to Charlottesville in their own way, namely, by re-thinking their overall outreach and propaganda strategy. In the aftermath of Charlottesville, Richard Spencer, the American white nationalist who originally coined the term ‘Alt Right,’ published a call out on his website, encouraging his far-right admirers to adopt the tactic of ‘leaderless resistance;’ that is, the development of separate militant cells engaging in individual acts to advance the same cause. With such tactics being floated by American leaders of the Alt Right, it is likely Canadian white supremacists will take up the call, as well.

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Kim Jong-un: The Unauthorized Biography

STORYLINE

What do we really know about North Korean leader Kim Jong-un? We may glimpse flattering images from his own self-produced propaganda, and we may be aware of the villainous lore which has mushroomed around his identity in the West, but very few hard facts have been made available about his upbringing and the events that may have shaped his worldview. Kim Jong-un: The Unauthorized Biography seeks to fill in those gaps. It’s a fascinating portrait that manages to demystify this important and enigmatic figure.

The youngest son of former leader Kim Jong-il, he received his formative education in Switzerland. His classmates and teachers – some of whom are interviewed in the film – recall him as a perfectly pleasant, yet sometimes rowdy student with a keen interest in basketball and video games.

He was ill-prepared to inherit his father’s mantle of power. But upon his father’s death in 2011, that’s exactly where he found himself, and his ascent quickly placed him on the international stage. He was just 26 years of age. His first actions were viewed by many as a barbaric slap against tradition as he executed his father’s closest advisor, and terminated many additional members of the old guard. He recruited only those who stood unquestioning and unfailing in their loyalty to him.

The film’s tone becomes increasingly foreboding when portraying his attempts to escalate his country’s military might. He quickly doubled down on his father’s quest to become a nuclear power, enhanced recruitment and training of North Korean soldiers, and successfully implemented a series of damaging cyber-attacks upon his enemies.

In spite of these extreme courses of action, many of the dictator’s countrymen view him as a deity. Could this be the result of a brainwashed population taken in by a carefully constructed propaganda machine? The United States intelligence officials who are interviewed in the film seem to think so.

Featuring candid interviews from those with first-hand knowledge, and a wealth of footage that proves revealing for what it doesn’t show, Kim Jong-un: The Unauthorized Biography is a must-see for those who wish to learn more about the elusive leader who towers over this perilous region of the world.

Directed by: Anthony Dufour

 

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Most Potent Security Threats To Pakistani Nation, PIPS Report 2017 Revealed The Facts

Most, potent, security, threats, to, Pakistani ,nation, PIPS, report, 2017, revealed ,the, facts Islamabad( Asghar Ali Mubrak) Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan still the most potent threat, followed by nationalist insurgents – PIPS “Pakistan Security Report 2017” —KAZMI MH

Footprints of Daesh increasing, killed 153 in 6 deadliest attacks
Down 16% from the year before, 370 terrorist attacks took place in Pakistan killing 815 and injuring 1,736 people
Balochistan and FATA, mainly Kurram Agency, remained critical areas with 288 and 253 terrorism-related killings, respectively, in 2017
TTP, Jamaatul Ahrar and others with similar objectives perpetrated 58% attacks, while 37% and 5% of the attacks were carried out by nationalist insurgents and violent sectarian groups respectively.
Up 131 percent from previous year, 171 cross-border attacks took place from Pakistan’s borders with India, Afghanistan, and Iran, killing 188 people and wounding 348 others.
Security forces and law enforcement agencies killed 524 militants in military/security operations as well as armed clashes and encounters.
Ambiguity remains on which government body is responsible for National Action Plan
Hints that National Security Policy, to be released in 2018, will take into account especially global and regional scenarios including the evolving Pakistan-US relations
National Internal Security Policy will be reviewed in 2018
Any debate on mainstreaming militants should be steered by parliament, laying down criteria

Despite a 16% decline in terrorist attacks in 2017, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and its associated groups remained the most potent threat; they were followed by nationalist-insurgent groups, especially Balochistan Liberation Army and Balochistan Liberation Front. What has been quite alarming is the increasing footprints of Daesh, especially in Balochistan and northern Sindh, carrying out the deadliest attacks. These realities require concerted effort and a revision of the National Action Plan, country’s counter-terror plan for yet ambiguity remains about who is responsible for NAP. It will be much better that parliament provides oversight to not only NAP, help revise it in light of new realities, but also lay down criteria for mainstreaming militants – which drew debate in 2017.
These are some of the major findings of the Pakistan Security Report 2017, released by Pak Institute for Peace Studies, an Islamabad-based think-tank specializing in security and conflict dynamics of Pakistan and the region. The organization compiled its findings on the basis of its multi-source database, coupled with interviews and articles by subject experts.

The report tallied that militant, nationalist/insurgent and violent sectarian groups carried out, in all, 370 terrorist attacks in 64 districts of Pakistan during the year 2017 – including 24 suicide and gun-and-suicide coordinated attacks, killing 815 people, besides injuring 1,736. These attacks posted a 16 per cent decrease from the total in the previous year; even the number of people killed fell by 10 per cent.

Of these attacks, as many as 213, or 58 per cent, were perpetrated by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), its splinter groups mainly Jamaatul Ahrar and other militant groups with similar objectives such as local Taliban groups, killing 186 people. Meanwhile, nationalist insurgent groups, mostly in Balochistan and a few in Sindh, carried out 138 attacks, or 37 per cent of the total, killing 140 people. As many as 19 terrorist attacks were sectarian-related, in which killed 71 people and inflicted injuries on 97 others.

The report also noted that compared to 2016, a significant surge of 131 percent was witnessed during 2017 in cross-border attacks from Pakistan’s borders with Afghanistan, India and Iran. A total of 171 cross-border attacks claimed 188 lives and injured 348 others.

Furthermore, security forces and law enforcement agencies killed a total of 524 militants in 2017 – compared to 809 in 2016 – in 75 military/security operations as well as 68 armed clashes and encounters with the militants reported from across 4 provinces and FATA.

At the same time, some new challenges raised their heads; these included emergence of self-radicalized individuals and small terrorist cells, growing incidence of religious extremism including on educational campuses, and, most importantly, increasing footprints of Daesh in parts of the country and convergence of its fighters in Afghanistan near Pakistani border. In 2017, Daesh and its local affiliates/supporters claimed 6 major terrorist attacks, killing 153 people. In Balochistan, the group carried out a suicide attack on the convoy of Senate Deputy Chairman Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri in Mastung, besides abducting Chinese nationals from Quetta and killing them later. Sindh’s deadliest attack in terms of casualties was on a Sufi shrine in Sehwen Sharif, claimed by Daesh too.

An interview with National Security Advisor, Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Nasser Khan Janjua, in the report, reveals that National Security Policy has been documented and circulated internally in the government; some broad contours of this policy, which is to be launched in 2018, have been hinted at in the report; it is quite likely that the NISP will take into consideration global and regional scenarios, including the relations between Pakistan, China, and the US. Yet another interview, with National Coordinator NACTA, Ihsan Ghani, shares that National Internal Security Policy is in review at present; the new policy as well as Counter-Extremism Policy will be revealed in 2018 too.

PIPS also noted that the two interviews reiterated there are still ambiguities about which government body is responsible for implementing NAP. It suggests revising National Action Plan in light of new realities, and dividing it into two broader components, a counter-terror plank, dealing with more immediate issues, and counter-violent extremism plank, dealing with issues having affects in the longer term.

Meanwhile, taking stock of the debates surrounding mainstreaming of banned groups and individuals, the report calls for removing any ambiguity to this end, and recommends that any process to this end should be inclusive, led by parliament, which should lay down a criteria to the pre-conditions of mainstreaming such groups.

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Tomb of the Prophet Mohammed – could be removed…

ANDREW JOHNSON – 

One of Islam’s most revered holy sites – the tomb of the Prophet Mohammed – could be destroyed and his body removed to an anonymous grave under plans which threaten to spark discord across the Muslim world.

The controversial proposals are part of a consultation document by a leading Saudi academic which has been circulated among the supervisors of al-Masjid al-Nabawi mosque in Medina, where the remains of the Prophet are housed under the Green Dome, visited by millions of pilgrims and venerated as Islam’s second-holiest site.

The formal custodian of the mosque is Saudi Arabia’s ageing monarch King Abdullah.

The plans, brought to light by another Saudi academic who has exposed and criticised the destruction of holy places and artefacts in Mecca – the holiest site in the Muslim world – call for the destruction of chambers around the Prophet’s grave which are particularly venerated by Shia Muslims.

The 61-page document also calls for the removal of Mohammed’s remains to the nearby al-Baqi cemetery, where they would be interred anonymously.

There is no suggestion that any decision has been taken to act upon the plans. The Saudi government has in the past insisted that it treats any changes to Islam’s holiest sites with “the utmost seriousness”.

But such is the importance of the mosque to both Sunni and Shia Muslims that Dr Irfan al-Alawi warned that any attempt to carry out the work could spark unrest. It also runs the risk of inflaming sectarian tensions between the two branches of Islam, already running perilously high due to the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

Hardline Saudi clerics have long preached that the country’s strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam – an offshoot of the Sunni tradition – prohibits the worship of any object or “saint”, a practice considered “shirq” or idolatrous.

Dr Alawi, director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, said: “People visit the chambers, which are the rooms where the Prophet’s family lived, and turn towards the burial chamber to pray.

“Now they want to prevent pilgrims from attending and venerating the tomb because they believe this is shirq, or idolatry. But the only way they can stop people visiting the Prophet is to get him out and into the cemetery.”

For centuries Muslim pilgrims have made their way to Mecca in order to visit the Kaaba – a black granite cubed building said to be built by Abraham, around which al-Masjid al-Haram, or the Grand Mosque, is built, and towards which every Muslim faces when they pray.

This pilgrimage, or hajj, is a religious duty that has to be carried out at least once in a lifetime.

Many go on to make their way to the nearby city of Medina to pay their respects at the Prophet’s tomb.

Al-Nabawi mosque around the tomb has been expanded by generations of Arabian rulers, particularly the Ottomans. It includes hand-painted calligraphy documenting details of the Prophet’s life and his family. Dr Alawi said the plans also call for these to be destroyed as well as the Green Dome which covers the Prophet’s tomb.

The Prophet is venerated by both branches of Islam, Sunni and Shia. The strict Wahhabi sect is a branch of the Sunni faith, however, and removing the Prophet could further inflame tensions between the two groups .

The current  crisis in Iraq has been blamed on the Shia former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s sectarianism, which alienated the Sunni, leading to the uprising. Isis, also known as Islamic State, which holds swathes of Iraq and Syria, and which murdered the American journalist James Foley, is a Sunni organisation.

Mainstream Sunni Muslims would be just as aghast at any desecration of the tomb as the Shia, Dr Alawi said.

It was previously revealed how the Mecca for the rich: Islam’s holiest site ‘turning into Vegas’ has, according to the Washington-based Gulf Institute, led to the destruction of up to 95 per cent of Mecca’s millennium-old buildings. They have been replaced with luxury  hotels, apartments and  shopping malls.

King Abdullah has appointed the prominent Wahhabi cleric and imam of the Grand Mosque, Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, to oversee the expansion project – necessary to cope with the huge number of pilgrims who now visit each year.

Dr Alawi says the consultation document for the al-Nabawi mosque in Medina, by the leading Saudi academic Dr Ali bin Abdulaziz al-Shabal of Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, has been circulated to the Committee of the Presidency of the Two Mosques.

Several pages of the consultation document have just been published in the presidency’s journal. They call for the destruction of the rooms surrounding the tomb – used by the Prophet’s wives and daughters, and venerated by the Shia because of their association with his youngest daughter, Fatima.

The document also calls for the Green Dome, which covers the tomb and these living quarters, to be removed, and the ultimate removal of the Prophet’s body to a nearby cemetery.

The al-Baqi cemetery already contains the bodies of many of the Prophet’s family, including his father who was removed there in the 1970s, Dr Alawi said. In 1924 all the grave markers were removed, so pilgrims would not know who was buried there, and so be unable to pray to them.

“The Prophet would be anonymous,” Dr  Alawi added. “Everything around the Prophet’s mosque has already been destroyed. It is surrounded by bulldozers. Once they’ve removed everything they can move towards the mosque. The imam is likely to say there is a need to expand the mosque and do it that way, while the world’s eyes are on Iraq and Syria. The Prophet Mohammed’s grave is venerated by the mainstream Sunni, who would never do it. It is just as important for the Shia too, who venerate the Prophet’s daughter, Fatima.

“I’m sure there will be shock across the Muslim world at these revelations. It will cause outrage.”

The Saudi Arabian embassy said in a statement last year: “The development of the Holy Mosque of Makkah al-Mukarramah [Mecca] is an extremely important subject and one which the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in its capacity as custodian of the two holy mosques, takes with the utmost seriousness. This role is at the heart of the principles upon which Saudi Arabia is founded.”

 

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Human Rights And Chinese Culture

Joe Alvaro – Human rights became an important global concept after WWII with the institutionalization of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

This acknowledged a set of universal values due to all humanity ‘without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status’.  The classic view of human rights was seen as a dialectic: rights on the one hand, and the violation of those rights on the other.

An earlier concept of human rights made its appearance in China during the Qing Dynasty, in the 19th century, when the nation was desperately seeking to modernize along the lines of a Western European model.

Chinese literati of the day were persuaded of the benefits of granting political rights to citizens, but their understanding was based on the Confucian model in which rights were conceived of as a means of enhancing state power. This was the opposite of Enlightenment-era theories which saw political rights as a way of curbing state power, not strengthening it.

With the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949, a mix of Marxism and Maoist ideology resulted in human rights being shaped by Mao’s views on ‘class struggle’. The proletariat (workers, soldiers and peasants) were entitled to full rights due to their class pedigree as ‘the People’. Landlords, counter-revolutionaries, rightist bourgeois elements, imperialist running dogs, and so on, lost all rights and dignity.

People in these categories, if spared summary execution, were deprived of any form of civil justice until they had been reformed through re-education, which involved the degrading process of public criticism, forced labour and imprisonment.

Placing collective or state interests above those of the individual inevitably leads to dissent. The Chinese Constitution promulgated in 1982 (and revised four times since) articulates values such as ‘the protection of private property and human rights’.

mao zedong statue

But (in Article 51) citizens’ rights may be rescinded if at odds with the ‘interests of the state, of society and of the collective’. The notion of human rights is very flimsy indeed if communal interests are superior to individual ones.

Article 51. The exercise by citizens of the People’s Republic of China of their freedoms and rights may not infringe upon the interests of the state, of society and of the collective. (Chapter II, The Fundamental Rights and Duties of Citizens. Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, adopted on 4 December 1982)

For Chinese, human rights have become an elusive idea which can be interpreted and manipulated by the CCP. In Hong Kong, human rights  appear ‘conditional’. It has become increasingly clear that Beijing defines itself as the ‘collective good’ and will revoke any rights that conflict with its interests.

This concept is at odds, not only with democracy as espoused by the world at large, but also with the ideas held by many Chinese, as noted by Liu Xiaobo in Charter 08. He wrote that many Chinese, after a long history of “human rights disasters and uncountable struggles”, understand that “freedom, equality, and human rights are universal values of humankind and that democracy and constitutional government are the fundamental framework for protecting these values”.

Liu Xiaobo chair no enemies

 

Noted dissident artist, Ai Wei Wei said, “When a society lacks a democratic consciousness and a space for free thought, it is just a barren land”.

A ‘patriotic’ resurgence is happening in China, in the emerging neo-Left movement, causing a nationalistic backlash against pro-democracy activists. At the core of this struggle is the elusive value of dignity, for which both sides say they are fighting.

Journalist Helen Gao describes this as a scale which measures love of country, not by degrees, but by intensity of patriotic motive. “At one end”, she sees the “traditional form of chest-thumping nationalism that builds on resentments based on the era when China was pushed around by foreign powers”. At the other end, “a more introspective form of patriotism, one deeply critical of the frustrating realities of life in the PRC”.

Those who hold the latter view are largely middle-class urbanites led by intellectuals, such as Li Chengpeng, who writes “we cannot narrowly interpret patriotism as the bravery to fight external enemies. It is also about confronting domestic woes”; and, “more important than the territorial integrity of our nation is living with dignity and integrity in our daily life”.

Human rights originally developed as a “response to specific violations of human dignity, [the] moral source” of human rights. ‘The appeal to human rights”, Habermas says, “feeds off the outrage of the humiliated at the violation of their human dignity”.

The link between dignity and human rights is the citizen’s innate longing for self-worth and recognition. Dignity is the ‘catalyst’ in the struggle for human rights.

white paper protest

When Mao announced that China had finally ‘stood up’ in 1949, it did so collectively, as a nation. At the same time, it unintentionally sowed the seeds for private individuals to also ‘stand up’.

By demanding the respect of other nations, China inadvertently fostered the same aspiration among its citizens. The notion of national dignity has generated the longing for private dignity. What good is national dignity if the individual’s dignity is not recognized?

China’s insistence on its own need for respect has supplied citizens with a kind of ‘popular language’ necessary for their own rhetoric of emancipation.

This is not mere theory. Look no further than recent human rights contradictions in Hong Kong. The abduction of the four Causeway Bay booksellers; the insistence on loyalty to Beijing for Chief Executive candidates (resulting in the Umbrella Movement); the demand that Legco contenders declare HK is an inalienable part of China; interference in the Legco oath-taking controversy; the imposition of new rules on singing the national anthem; the backtracking on the promise of universal suffrage; and most recently, the sentencing of peaceful young activists, Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow, are only some of the most visible violations in the incremental dismantling of Hong Kong autonomy.

Hong Kongers are ruled by a power that has refused to concede them their due dignity. They have been shamed and even criminalized in the attempt to stand up before their own state. The future of Hong Kong cannot be scripted by Beijing. Peace and prosperity depend on the authorities working to uphold – not reduce – our civil and political rights.

 

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What is the Middle East vision of the Muslims?

Everybody has a Middle East project. The U.S.’s Great Middle East Project has been spoken of for years. Although half of it is speculation and it varied during the presidency of Bush, Obama and Trump, the U.S. has a Middle East project.-Kemal Öztürk

Middle East projects of foreign states

At present, the U.S. is making great concrete efforts to establish a boutique PKK/PYD state in northern Syria. According to what has been said, it intends to unite this state with the Kurdish region in northern Iraq, to reach the Mediterranean, and to set up an oil transport route there. While Iran has become the main enemy again, it has also taken control of the Saudi-led Gulf bloc. In short, the U.S. has a project, albeit complex and variable.

Meanwhile, Israel is in pursuit of the promised land. The borders of this land are also a matter of debate. However, everyone agrees that Israel has a large land acquisition project that crosses the current borders of Israel and that includes other countries’ lands.

Russia took the opportunity of the U.S.’s confusion and incoherence and has reached the Mediterranean, which it had been dreaming of for years. It has settled in Syria, set up bases and rescued and took the helm of the Assad regime. It is now continuing to expand its area of influence and striving to have a permanent presence in the Mediterranean. In short, it has this idea and vision regarding the Middle East.

What is Middle East vision of Islamic countries?

Do Islamic countries and Muslims living in the region have a project targeting these countries that have come from thousands of kilometers away and realized their projects and dreams in the lands we live in? Have you read of a great project, vision and idea that will affect the fate of the Middle East, Muslim states and peoples?

Concept of the alliance of the Islamic world, namely the unity of the ummah as we Muslims call it, is the most global idea at present. However, no one presents and supports it as a concreate and viable project.

Those who see the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as a part of this idea are wrong. That organization has just stood like an institution founded to be a place of distraction against unity.

Gaddafi’s dramatic and surprising speech

As a result, Muslims do not have a Middle East vision. Moreover, they have bad intentions that will ruin other Muslim countries and people. What Iran has done in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon and what Saudi Arabia has done in Yemen and Qatar is the latest example.

Gaddafi made a speech to all leaders at the 2008 Arab League meeting. Everyone is sharing this speech on the Internet nowadays. A very dramatic and realistic speech:

“We all waited in our corner while Saddam was hung. Saddam was a friend of the U.S., but they hung him. Now, which of us U.S friends will be hung next?

We are each other’s enemies. I’m sorry to say that. We hate each other, we fool each other. We are secretly delighted with each other’s troubles, and we are trying to trap each other. Our intelligence is undermining each other instead of our enemies.”

Three years after making this speech, Gaddafi was toppled by France and the U.S. and was beaten to death. I think his fate will befall many Muslim leaders as well.

Muslims don’t have a Middle East vision

The Islamic world has blatantly turned into the guinea pig of the projects and bad plans of others. Obama strengthened Iran and used it against Sunnis and Saudi Arabia. Now Trump is strengthening Saudi Arabia and using it against Iran.

While Turkey was friendly with Saudi Arabia, it pressured Syria and Iran. Now it is joining Iran and pressuring Barzani. While Iran was allies with the PKK, Russia, China and the U.S. and battering Turkey, now it is trying to form an alliance with Turkey and withstand U.S. pressure.

All this is done as an anti-thesis, in response to the projects and theses that other states have planned for our territory. In short, we do not have a plan.

Unfortunately, we do not have a future vision of our own and a big project to relieve the pain and conflicts in this region. Do we have a common dream that will end foreign countries’ bad dreams in this land, unite all of us with one goal and bring peace? We’re just being dispersed.

This fate will change one day

Turkey is one of the few countries that will lead such an idea. But there is no voice rising here either. I do not know whether our state has a Middle East vision. Sadly enough, nothing is being discussed apart from Bahçeli’s valorous statement showing Kirkuk and Mosul as 82nd and 83rd provinces and his absurd idea of sending 5,000 idealist nationalists to Kirkuk.

Like the states and governments that do not have a Middle East vision, Muslim intellectuals have no idea or effort in this regard. Unfortunately, there are no intellectuals, scholars, scientists or religious men who escape the captivity of sects, ethnic identities and spirits and produce ideas for the future of the Muslims.-

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Thousands of Serial-To-Ethernet Devices Leak Telnet Passwords

Catalin Cimpanu-A security researcher has identified thousands of Serial-to-Ethernet devices connected online that leak Telnet passwords that could be used to attack the equipment that is placed behind them.

The leaky devices are various Serial-to-Ethernet “device servers” manufactured by Lantronix, a California-based hardware vendor.

Companies buy these “device servers” and use them as a way to connect to remote equipment that only comes with serial interfaces.

Products such as Lantronix UDS or xDirect allow companies to plug an RS-XXX serial connector in one end, and an RJ-45 Ethernet connector in the other, and then manage the device via a LAN or WAN connection.

Lantronix device servers modus operandi

According to one product’s description, “the UDS1100-IAP is a rugged and powerful tool which enables users to connect, manage and control just about any piece of industrial equipment from virtually anywhere over Ethernet or the Internet,” while another product’s description claims it provides “quick and easy Ethernet connectivity to virtually any device or machine with a serial interface.”

The “device servers” are very popular in the ICS (Industrial Control Systems) sector, where companies use them to control old equipment that features only serial ports.

Half of Lantronix device servers are leaking passwords

Ankit Anubhav, Principal Researcher at NewSky Security, a cyber-security company specialized in IoT security, discovered yesterday that almost a half of Lantronix device servers reachable online are leaking their Telnet passwords.

“6,464 Lantronix device servers that may be connected to critical ICS-grade equipment are proudly exposing their passwords,” Anubhav told Bleeping Computer. “This accounts for 48% of the devices on Shodan.”

Shodan search for Lantronix devices

The root cause of this huge password exposure is a very old vulnerability that allows attackers to retrieve the setup config of Lantronix devices by sending a malformed request on port 30718.

Old versions of these devices that have not been updated to the latest firmware version will reply back with their config, including the Telnet password in plaintext.

“The exploit has been out there for a while,” Anubhav said, pointing out that a Metasploit module has been available since 2012. “Shodan even runs the exploit and displays the credentials.”

Leaky devices have not received firmware updates

“Nobody cared to fix these devices,” the expert said. These can be a gateway to breach connected products.”

Since the vulnerable devices act as a proxy between TCP and serial commands, an attacker that takes control over the device via Telnet can then use his privileged access to send serial commands to the connected devices.

With almost 6,500 targets to choose from, and with passwords already on Shodan, attackers only have to put in the time and find a Lantronix device server connecting to the ICS equipment of their liking.

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President Trump’s Excellent Message Of Support For The Protesters In Iran

President Trump joined other Republicans on Friday in sending a message of support to the people taking to the streets in Iran.

The protests, which on Saturday morning are pushing into their third day, are for increasing the freedoms of Iranian citizens as well as over the country’s economic problems and the wasteful and horrific use of the nation’s wealth to fund international Islamic terror..

President Trump’s tweet, out there for the world and the Iranian gov’t to see, was perfectly composed.

Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime’s corruption & its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad. Iranian govt should respect their people’s rights, including right to express themselves. The world is watching! #IranProtests

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2017

A very well-put statement from the White House.

In addition to this public show, the State Department issued this statement.

The country is already undergoing social change. This week, police in Tehran announced they will no longer be arresting women for disobeying strict Islamic dress codes. Instead of sending them to jail they’ll be given reeducation classes by the so-called “morality police.” Progress, if small.

We can only hope bigger and more fundamental change will come.

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Blind Prophet Predicts Pair of Big Events for 2018 (Video)

A blind mystic from Bulgaria, who is credited with having predicted 9/11 and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, put forward a pair of prognostications for 2018.

By way of alleged visions of the future, Baba Vanga purportedly foresaw a litany of events including political upheavals, natural disasters, and scientific breakthroughs which she claimed would unfold in the future.

Although she died in 1996, the supposed soothsayer left behind numerous proclamations concerning events said to occur in the years following her death.

For the forthcoming year, Vanga predicted that 2018 would see two significant events take place: China surpassing the United States as the world’s top superpower and the discovery of a new form of energy from Venus.

The former prediction may be one best left to economists to interpret and seems like something that might only be able to be confirmed in hindsight.

However, the vague nature of the ‘vision’ gives Vanga some leeway, in a sense, since her forecast that ‘Europe would cease to exist’ in 2016 is seen by some as a reference to Brexit.

Meanwhile, the latter prognostication may be even more problematic as there are no plans by any of the world’s various space agencies to study Venus in 2018.

This makes it hard to fathom how the planet could produce some kind of new insight if no one is looking at it during the year.

Of course, we won’t know for certain whether or not Vanga is correct about these events until around this time next year.

To that end, one prediction that is almost certain to come true in 2018 is that Baba Vanga will once again appear at the end of the year with a forecast for 2019.

Source: Daily Mail

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Are Christians Second Class Citizens In Nigeria?

August 17, 2017, Fani-Kayode (former Minister of Aviation) wrote:    

Father Mbaka of the Catholic Church has finally seen the light and that he has denounced the Buhari regime. This coming from a man that once supported the President vigorously, even when members of his own flock and faith were being slaughtered, marginalised and humiliated, is cheery news. bible

Yet there are still many more Church leaders that supported the Buhari government, that need  to follow Mbaka’s example and recant. The great philosopher, writer and intellectual, Mr. Dante Alighieri, once said that “the hottest place in hell is reserved for those who maintain their neutrality at a time of moral crisis”.

To add to this it was our very own Professor Wole Soyinka, the distinguished Nobel Laureate, that said “the man died in him who remained silent in the face of tyranny”. I have no doubt in my mind that this is the time to speak out because we are not only in a time of great moral crisis in our country but we are also facing persecution and wholesale tyranny.

I am making this contribution not out of fear for the plight of the Christendom in Nigeria because I know that, as the Holy Bible says, “the gates of hell cannot prevail against the Church”. It also says “He who watches over Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps”.

It follows that no matter what the enemies of the gospel throw our way, including one million President Buharis, at the end of the day we shall prevail. I am making this contribution not out of fear or to divide our nation but rather in an attempt to inform the Nigerian people and the world about what is really going on in President Buhari’s Nigeria.

What many fail to appreciate is that the Church and the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ was built and spread by the blood and the bones of the Christian martyrs. It follows that the more you persecute, jail and kill Christians and the more you subject them to terror, shame, insensitivity and humiliation, the more the Church grows.

Where the so-called “great” Christian leaders with the mega-Churches  have chosen to either side with the enemy or remain silent when confronted with the tyrrany of the state, the Lord will raise other voices to stand up for and speak for His people.

An example is Pastor Bright Bayo Oladeji, who is a journalist by profession and a Baptist preacher by calling. On  August  2, 2016, he wrote the following on his Facebook page: “Where are the Christians who sold the Church? The Islamic agenda is being perfected.

Professor Ishaq Oloyede, a prominent Islamic leader  who said he was not aware Christians are being attacked and killed, is now to head JAMB replacing Prof Ojerinde, a Baptist. “Four Muslims were not replaced but left to continue. Out of the 17 offices, 9 new replacement are Muslims and 4 retained are Muslims. 13 out of 17 are now Muslims. NUC, Muslim. JAMB, Muslim. TETCOM, Muslim.

“Where are our Christian leaders? Where are those telling us Professor Yemi Osinbajo would stand for the Church being a pastor? “Do they involve him in all these lopsided appointments in favour of the North and Muslims or not? Do we have Christians among the APC leaders? Does Odigie-Oyegun, the National Chairman of the ruling party, really belong to the Catholic Church?

“The fact that Buhari released these appointments the same day that  a  newspaper published an editorial titled, “Buhari’s parochial appointments,” (this is a paper that endorsed his candidacy), is a dirty slap on the nation. “To say the least, it is  corruption with impunity. Many are afraid to speak out and are being intimidated by security operatives. Have we become second class citizens in our own country?”

Pastor Bayo, as insightful and courageous as ever, has asked a pertinent question. Sadly, the answer to that question is “YES”: Since Buhari came to power, Christians have become second class citizens in Nigeria. We warned our people but they wouldn’t listen. Nigerians said they wanted “change” and now they must live with it.

Every Christian that supported President Buhari and the APC, including some of the most prominent Church leaders, should bow their heads in shame. As long as this continues, we will not remain silent and neither shall we be intimidated. No matter how hard they try,

Nigeria will NEVER be Islamised and neither will our Christian faith be rubbished. When Christians are treated with respect and dignity and when they are honored in the land, that is when we will know that true change has come.

When Yoruba Muslims are allowed to lead their northern counter-parts in prayer in the mosque, that is when we will know that true change has come. When the secularity of the Nigerian state is reiterated and confirmed, that is when we will know that true change has come. When southerners are regarded as being on the same level as northerners in the affairs of our nation, that is when we will know that true change has come.

When the murderous herdsmen and militias are finally diasarmed and when they stop slaughtering our people with impunity and without any fear of retribution from the state, that is when we will know that true change has come. When Christians are no longer murdered in cold blood in some parts of the North simply for exercising their faith whilst the govetnment turns a blind eye, that is when we will know that true change has come.

When Christians leaders are no longer subjected to insults and brutal assault by over- zealous security agents simply for praying and reading the Holy Bible, that is when we will know that true change has come.

When the Igbo people are not treated as pariah citizens and when their children are no longer shot in the streets like stray dogs simply because, as a people, they have their own dreams and aspirations and simply because they are protesting against the manifest injustice that they have been subjected to in the land, that is when we will know that true change has come.

When Middle Belters and the northern minorities are allowed to carve out their own identity and when they are freed from the intimidation, harassment, hegemony, genocide, cultural imperialism and slavery of the core Muslim North, then we will know that true change has come.

Until then, the change that the Buhari administration has offered and served to the Nigerian people is nothing but fake.

 

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State Department Pays “the Atlantic Council” Nearly $1 Million To Work With Venezuelan Opposition

The council said the year-long project’s aim is to draw more international attention to the crisis, show the public what Venezuela could look like under new leadership and provide the opposition and other stakeholders the tools needed to work more cohesively together.

via State Department Pays “the Atlantic Council” Nearly $1 Million To Work With Venezuelan Opposition

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State Department Pays “the Atlantic Council” Nearly $1 Million To Work With Venezuelan Opposition

mcclatchyDC–A little known bureau of the U.S. State Department is giving nearly $1 million to a Washington think tank to promote peace in Venezuela and start identifying the building blocks for a new democratically run government.

But critics already see it as an effort by State to train the opposition at dialogue that undercuts President Donald Trump’s push to force Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to restore democracy.

“It’s a waste of taxpayer money,” said one congressional source familiar with the program. “They’ve tried to dialogue repeatedly and it hasn’t worked. It just buys Maduro time.”

The State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations paid $900,000 to the Atlantic Council in September with instructions to “promote non-violent conflict resolution” in Venezuela.

The council said the year-long project’s aim is to draw more international attention to the crisis, show the public what Venezuela could look like under new leadership and provide the opposition and other stakeholders the tools needed to work more cohesively together.

But the effort is already generating no small amount of controversy. According to people inside the U.S. government who favor a harder line against Maduro, the Atlantic Council spending is an effort by State to train the opposition to negotiate and prepare for a future if the government collapses while other parts of Trump’s administration have insisted on a sanctions-driven strategy.

With encouragement from South Florida Republicans, such as Sen. Marco Rubio and Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, Trump has been increasing pressure on Maduro to restore Democratic institutions to the nation sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves but now crumbling under the weight of a deepening economic and humanitarian crisis.

The Trump administration has followed suit, imposing a mix of personal and economic sanctions, including ones in August that largely blocked the South American country from being able to get much needed capital.

Venezuela has accused Washington of being the opposition’s puppet master. Just this week, Venezuela’s Information Minister Jorge Rodríguez threatened to discontinue talks with members of the Venezuelan opposition unless Washington lifted its sanctions.

The State Department wouldn’t address specific questions, including the amount or recipient of the funding, but said the goal is to work with organizations outside the government to “promote good governance, democracy, human rights, humanitarian assistance, and transparency around the world.”

Jason Marczak, director of the Atlantic Council Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, confirmed receiving the funding, but said the organization is not part of any negotiations between the opposition and Maduro. But he said they are working with partners on the ground in Venezuela to provide the opposition and other members of civil society with the tools needed to work more cohesively as a united coalition through their work organizing talks, collecting data and analysis.

“What we’re trying to do is address the fractures within the opposition,” Marczak said. “That is then helpful for the opposition’s overall stance because what the government wants is a divided opposition.”

The Venezuelan opposition is composed of many different political ideologies. While unified in their opposition to Maduro, there are many views of how to pull the South American country out of its current crisis. The opposition is often criticized for not having a vision for the country that goes beyond political change.

According to Atlantic Council, the organization will have two people dedicated to the year-long project. Working with several local partners, the Atlantic Council will conduct research and organize gatherings with those involved in the opposition and other stakeholders. It will hold one-on-one consultations and group consultations. It will review the electoral conditions. It also will make recommendations on how to improve the economy and ways alternative leaders can succeed.

The Atlantic Council said it also will bring leaders to Washington for public events. At the end of the year, it will produce a series of reports for the State Department on opportunities to move forward. Some of the reports should be public, but other parts will not, the group said.

The White House’s National Security Council, which has led the effort to increase pressure on Venezuela, referred questions to the State Department without saying whether the White House signed off on the arrangement.

The State Department would not provide details but said the contract was granted under what it called the “Peace Process Support Network.”

Not everyone sees the distinction between what the Atlantic Council says it is doing and training the opposition to negotiate with Maduro.

Members in both the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Senate Foreign Relations have expressed reservations about the use of public funds and whether its fits with the administration’s mission. The grant also sparked concerns at other agencies, such as USAID, according to a U.S. source who spoke with officials involved in the grant process. Some officials felt that supporting dialogue between the government and the opposition was useless and that the money should have gone to support other efforts in Venezuela.

“The United States on the one hand is taking a very forceful stance, on the other is talking about dialogue,” said the U.S. source. “This is naïve. This is stupid. This is a waste of money.”

Marczak has heard some of the concerns, but he thinks people are conflating his organization’s project with previous work of the State Department. He doesn’t see how working toward a common vision for the opposition can undermine the administration’s sanctions.

“We’re a think tank. We’re not at the negotiating table in any situation,” he said. “We’re doing what a think tank does. We’re providing research. We’re providing analysis. We’re doing consultations. We’re doing events. We’re doing the typical things that think tanks do.”

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How are the Ukrainian Cyber-Troops organized: an interview with the “white hacker” Yevgeny Dokukin

Author Dzyuba Evgenia ,IntervieweREvgeny Dokunin
In the spring of this year on the Internet there was a grouping that calls itself cyber troops. Yevgeny Dokukin, the organizer of this movement, on his Facebook page encourages volunteers to join special operations of cyber intelligence to counter Russian propaganda and terrorist actions, for which he received the nickname “white hacker”.

In the spring of this year on the Internet there was a grouping that calls itself cyber troops. Yevgeny Dokukin, the organizer of this movement, on his Facebook page encourages volunteers to join special operations of cyber intelligence to counter Russian propaganda and terrorist actions, for which he received the nickname “white hacker”.

How many people are there in VHF at the moment?

About two or three thousand. In August, for example, there was a period when UVK numbered about three thousand people. The inconstant composition of the “troops” is conditioned by the fact that all participants do this work on volunteer terms – therefore, someone leaves, but new volunteers come to take their place.
SBU appeals to you for help or do you often contact SBU staff with information about vulnerabilities that you have identified?

I very often draw the attention of SBU officers to threats that they can prevent or appeal because they could make the necessary actions faster. It’s no secret that the bureaucracy becomes the most important “stumbling block” in solving all issues. Sometimes, however, rarely, privately, private appeals are received from individual members of the Security Service, but I can not disclose details.
What are the achievements of VHF at the moment?

For DDoS-attacks provides for criminal liability for Article 363-1 of the Criminal Code. Do you personally “break” or instruct them to volunteers of cyber troops?

I myself do not do DDOS-attacks – this is what other people are doing. The websites of terrorists are blocked daily due to this work. Knowing that in any case I fall under Article 363 – either as a performer or as an organizer, I prefer not to talk about this area of ​​VHF activities and that I have to do with it.
Your possible actions, if under the guise of a volunteer, you are in the ranks of the UVK, the spy has infiltrated?

With all the participants of the Ukrainian cyber-troops, we do not cross into the off-line. I only talk to the SBU in electronic form. If someone asks for a meeting – I carefully double-check a person and if potentially he can be a spy – I refuse to meet.
If the volunteer wants to help you conduct a DDoS, but is afraid of bringing to criminal responsibility – can you provide some “guarantees” to people, referring to cooperation with the SBU?

I can not provide any guarantees to anyone, but I am a responsible person and I can definitely say that I will not “surrender” those who, for example, took up the DDOS-direction.

We work in more than 15 areas. I can say that for one of our site blocking operations, which is called “Blocked Virodki”, over the summer we blocked about 30 sites – we managed to achieve their closure through complaints to the hosters.
SBU tells you “thank you” for your help?

“Thank you”, as a rule, speak more often, instead of specific actions on its part in the field of security on the Internet.

How did the idea of ​​the establishment of the Ukrainian Cyber ​​Troops come about?

For almost 10 years now I have been working with the topic of security and are engaged in auditing cyberspace. The idea to organize VHF appeared when the situation in the Crimea in March this year began to rapidly sharpen. Then I decided to act and “sent” Aksenova resignation on the official website of the Crimean Parliament. For this, I specifically used a vulnerability that does not apply to Article No. 363-1 of the Criminal Code. Back in March, I tried to attract people in order to block the accounts of terrorists, but then no one responded. I did not wait and wrote to “Web Money” and “Yandex Money” with a request to block specific accounts that belonged to terrorists – in two days these accounts were blocked. So I began to deal with the influence myself. Statuses on the work done I published on my site and Facebook page and, gradually, people began to “pull up”. Now to all participants of cyberwar, I propose a list of operations that require urgent action – they can choose a convenient way to interact with VHF.

If the SBU asks you to name the names of these “volunteers”?

So far, except for journalists, no one has asked for this. I suppose that law enforcement agencies can always “find fault” in such activities, but I think that if they want to know, they will not ask me.
What do you do for a living? Commercial structures turn to you with requests to make a DDoS attack on competitors?

For businesses, I conduct security audits, but no one asks for DDoS. I have always earned as a security audit consultant for sites. I started with the development of sites, but, then, gradually, I went into the security audit. Now, 24 hours a day, I occupy only cyber-wars.

“VHF coordination absorbs all my time, even when I’m asleep – there are special programs running on the network, so, all the same, the work is continuously ongoing.”

At the moment, I earn a living on advertising in the Internet – this is enough for me.
How can you describe the state of Ukrainian cyber space?

Before the establishment of the UVK, since 2006, I have found a lot of vulnerabilities on the websites of government agencies and reported this to relevant departments. Many state institutions, for example, the Cabinet, ignored, however, I must say that when I informed the SBU about the vulnerabilities found on their site, they tried to react quickly.
How will VHF develop further? Do you expect support from the state?

Ukraine needs reorganization of special services. I believe that cyber warfare should be formed as a separate unit at the state level, with the involvement of investments in this sphere. Theft of budgets and criminal inactivity must be eradicated in state structures that deal with security.

 

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“Tougher Days Ahead for Saudi Arabia”

However, why doesn’t Saudi Arabia want to put an end to creating tensions? This comes as Riyadh knows Trump’s administration will support the aggressive and illogical Saudi policies to a limited extent. Nevertheless, Bin Salman does not want to stop thinking about this because for him an opportunity like Trump will not be repeated again. via “Tougher Days Ahead for Saudi Arabia”

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“Tougher Days Ahead for Saudi Arabia”

Political experts believe that if Washington and Riyadh continue their failed policies in the Middle East, heavier defeats will await them in the future.

A Farsi opinion piece published by the Khabar Online news website has discussed why tougher days await Saudi Arabia and its staunch supporter, the Trump administration.

Here you can find the full text of this article:

These days are not the days of Nikki Haley and Mohammed bin Salman. Haley is a belligerent woman, who under different pretexts, wants to wage war on Iran, and Bin Salman is a man, who dreams of becoming a king, but is not as mature as previous Saudi kings since he looks at everything through the lens of tension and chaos. The US ambassador to the United Nations and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia will do their best to compensate for a defeat they themselves have inflicted on their own countries. However, apparently the more they try, the more they get stuck in their own-made quagmire.

These days the US and Saudi Arabia have directed their efforts to Yemen and of course Iran, in order to have the poor and war-torn country (Yemen) under fire; a country which is still resisting by launching missiles over Saudi Arabia and even King Khalid airport.

Washington and Riyadh assume that in this way they could inflict sort of a defeat on Iran. Yemen’s second missile targeted Riyadh and the headquarters of the kingdom showing that the Saudis would have tough days ahead, and Yemen is not that much weak as they initially assumed. In this regard, a spokesman for Yemen’s military and popular forces said targeting of Saudi Arabia’s command centre was a pre-emptive operation to counter the enemy’s moves.

Landing of the Burkan-2 missile at Saudi airport was a very heavy blow to the Saudis. Launching rockets from war-torn Yemen, breaking up of political and military equations, and seeing their security at stake have forced them to achieve a victory for themselves in this lost game at any cost. Hence, instead of finding the leak in their plans and strategies, they seek to condemn Iran. Nikki Haley appeared in front of the cameras with documents that she knew was not acceptable for anyone, to accuse Iran of providing rockets for the Yemeni people. She did not mention when and how the missiles were transferred from Iran to Yemen. She only attributed it to Iran and called for an international coalition against the Islamic Republic.

This is not the first time they are making such accusations against Iran, and it seems to be a project to increase pressures on Iran. This was not even accepted by Trump’s aides. The US Secretary of Defence dismissed the claim within nearly 24 hours. Pointing out that none of the military figures were next to Haley, James Mattis implicitly said that Haley’s claims are not credible. He also added that the coalition against Iran is a political one, not a military one. Mattis responded to Haley’s remarks saying that the US is thinking of a diplomatic coalition against Iran, not a military one! He told reporters at the Pentagon that there is no need to change the US defence strategy on Iran and escalate it.

This approach was not bought by Europeans as well. The French took a negative stance, and the United Nations rejected the claims that the missile was of an Iranian origin. After investigating the wreckage of missiles launched by the Ansarullah movement over Saudi Arabia, UN experts said in a report that they would not be able to confirm the missiles are made in Iran.

The only country that confirmed the words was Saudi Arabia. The Saudis completed Haley’s blame game and repeated their anti-Iran positions again; the words that show their frustration after the failure of their recent policies in the region.

The Independent in a recent article introduced Bin Salman as the man of 2017 in the Middle East. It was not because of his successes, but it was for his failures; a man whose foreign policies in the Mideast have failed in the current year.

Bin Salman sees his aggressive and illogical foreign policy have failed in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Bashar al-Assad is still in power, Sana’a is under Ansarullah’s control, Saad Hariri has revoked his resignation, and Iraq is in its post-ISIS days to achieve stability. It is confusing enough to think of any of these, which caused great costs to Saudi Arabia in either of these countries.

However, why doesn’t Saudi Arabia want to put an end to creating tensions? This comes as Riyadh knows Trump’s administration will support the aggressive and illogical Saudi policies to a limited extent. Nevertheless, Bin Salman does not want to stop thinking about this because for him an opportunity like Trump will not be repeated again. Perhaps this is because Bin Salman sees the region and its equations as a gamble that he should win at any cost. Nonetheless, his successive failures make him more fervent to play another game as he cannot resist the temptations of a win.

Likewise, Haley has the same feelings about the strategies she has whispered to Trump. Iran and the nuclear deal have turned into a nightmare for them. They punted the case to the Congress and after 60 days it has become a headache for Trump.

However, Haley may be the developer of this strategy; a woman, who went to Vienna and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to change the equations to find a way to bypass the JCPOA, but after trying different ways, Yemen and rockets launched over Saudi Arabia with a handful of documents and photos were all she has.

This was a path that very soon turned out to be a fiasco at the end. Trump and his envoy to the United Nations should have sooner found out that waging a war with lame excuses is more difficult than they imagine. Especially, when an experienced diplomat like Mohammad Javad Zarif not only does not act like them, but using his Twitter diplomacy he speaks with logic and reasoning to reveal their secret strategies. Zarif on his Twitter account referred to US’s past and the baseless charges they brought against Iraq to launch a ruinous war writing  “When I was based at the UN, I saw this show and what it begat.”

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KIDDING ME….

“Men should grow beards. One of the two body parts that separate men from women is the beard,” Turkish preacher Murat Bayaral told religious station Fatih Medreseleri TV on Saturday, as quoted by Hurriyet.

via KIDDING ME….

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KIDDING ME….

RT–In an effort to get Muslim men to grow out their facial hair, a Muslim preacher has claimed that clean-shaven men with long hair “cannot be distinguished from women,” which can cause “indecent thoughts” to occur between males.

“Men should grow beards. One of the two body parts that separate men from women is the beard,” Turkish preacher Murat Bayaral told religious station Fatih Medreseleri TV on Saturday, as quoted by Hurriyet. He went on to describe a possible scenario in which a man could find himself having “indecent thoughts” about another man.

“For example, if you see a man with long hair from afar you may think he is a woman if he does not have a beard. Because nowadays women and men dress similarly. God forbid! You could be possessed by indecent thoughts,” he said, apparently referring to same-sex relationships.

While homosexuality has long been legalized in Turkey and is not officially persecuted, unlike in many other Muslim-majority states, conservative Islamic preachers consider all same-sex relations to be forbidden. The Turkish LGBT community has also been fighting for the introduction of anti-discrimination laws, as well as for the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Conservative sentiment on same-sex relations is said to be dominant in Turkish society, with some elected officials openly opposing them. Former Minister of Women and Family Affairs, Selma Aliye Kavaf, once said she believes “homosexuality is a biological disorder and this disease needs treatment.”

Meanwhile, beards, which are common among Muslim men, have also been facing some level of discrimination in the West. Last month, a Danish right-wing party argued that doctors with full beards shouldn’t be allowed to practice in the country’s hospitals. Last year, a student in a French high school was threatened with expulsion after refusing to comply with the headmaster’s demand to shave his beard. The school authority called excessive facial hair a “sign of radicalization.”

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Hizb ut-Tahrir: LIBERATING THE WHOLE OF PALESTINE IS THE ISLAMIC SOLUTION FOR AL-QUDS

The crocodile tears and feeble protests of the Arab regimes and Palestinian groups will not undo half a century of treachery. As US President Trump threatened to, and then actually did declare that it is time to officially recognise al-Quds as the capital of the Zionist entity, the Palestinian and Arab leaderships suddenly remember how important this blessed land is, singing its praise and stating that red-lines are about to be crossed.

Yes, Al-Quds is a blessed land, with its Masjid Al-Aqsa, the first Qibla of the Muslims, and the place of the Prophet’s (ﷺ) night journey.

When the Fatah Movement was formed in the mid-1960’s, it declared that it will form a resistance to liberate Palestine from the East to the West, but this slogan soon evaporated and it surrendered the river in the East, the sea in the West and all the territory in between.

Hizb ut-Tahrir issued a leaflet in 1964 which publicly warned that the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), of which Fatah was a part, was an extension of an American plan to establish a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank and it would ultimately recognise the Zionist entity. It wrote:

Praise be to Allah Who blessed us with Islam and Who made our yardstick for actions the Halaal and Haraam, and may the peace and blessings of Allah be on the Prophet Mohammed, whom Allah sent with guidance and whom He made the Master of all Messengers and the Last of Prophets. It has been proved beyond any doubt that the objective of establishing the Palestinian “Liberation” Agency (Organisation) which is headed by Ahmed Al Shukairee is to separate the West Bank from Jordan and to establish an independent entity in it which will form another state that does not contain Al-Quds or Bait Lahem (this was before the King of Jordan surrendered the West Bank)… This goes against what Allah has ordered of unity of all the Muslim land. Therefore, the objective of this “Liberation” agency is to commit a major sin, a Haraam act and a horrendous crime.

Hizb ut-Tahrir maintained its consistent stand based upon the Islamic Shari’ah in tens of leaflets issued throughout the nineteen sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties and until now, explaining the objective of establishing these Palestinian factions and how they are but agents for the colonial states.

When Hamas was formed it also declared that it will form a resistance and liberate Palestine from East to West. Then Hamas also accepted the idea of having a Palestinian state within the 1967 territory along with the Zionist state over almost all of Palestine.

In 1991 Hizb ut-Tahrir warned that America’s objective was for establishing a state in part of the West Bank and Gaza linked to Jordan through a federal or confederate union after an interim period, during which an interim self rule Palestinian government will be formed with administrative independence, while the zionist entity will still have authority and be responsible for the foreign policy and security. The party also warned that America is aiming to make the Arab states sign a peace treaty and then normalise the relationship with the occupation.The crusaders occupied Palestine and established crusader kingdoms for two hundred years, but the Muslims did not make any peace treaty nor did they give up a single inch of the occupied Muslim land to them as the Arab rulers and the Palestinian leaders want to do today. The Muslims continued to fight the crusaders until they beat them and drove them out of all the Muslim land that they occupied. They freed Jerusalem and the land of Palestine from them and destroyed the kingdoms they established in the land of Ash-Sham.

Fatah, Hamas and rest of the Arab and Muslim regimes are not representative of Islam and Muslims, but they are a small part of the convoy that deviated from the way. However, Palestine is a blessed Islamic land belonging to the Islamic Ummah.

Al-Quds is the whole of Al-Quds, not only its eastern part, according to the decrees of the colonialists’ United Nations. The whole of Palestine, including Al-Quds, is not feudal land belonging to Fatah or any other Palestinian faction, so that they may sell it away to the enemy, whenever they wish. Nor does it belong to the corrupted regimes in the Muslim world, that they may also sign it away to the Zionists in submission to their Western masters. Palestine is Holy Land as decreed by Allah in His Glorious Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Noble Messenger. Moreover, it is Islamic land handed to Umar Ibn al-Khattab with the surrender of the Christian people, so that he could establish over them the justice of Islam.

This is Palestine; its solution does not lie in extending a hand of cooperation towards America and negotiating a two-state solution with the Zionist State. Any handspan of Palestine occupied in 1948 and any handspan of Palestine occupied in 1948 are both the same in the view of Islam.

Verily we depend upon Allah and act upon His commands, and verily Allah is worthy to be depended upon and quick to fulfill His promise.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا لَا تَخُونُوا اللَّهَ وَالرَّسُولَ وَتَخُونُوا أَمَانَاتِكُمْ وَأَنْتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

“O you who have believed, do not betray Allah and the Messenger or betray your trusts while you know [the consequence].” [Al-Anfal: 27]

Yahya Nisbet
Media representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain
6th December 2017

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Utah Recorded 78% Increase in Darknet Fentanyl Related Drug Overdose Death In 2016

Sam Jona–Utah has recently been ranked the 4th highest state with drug overdose cases. The state has for the past few years recorded an unprecedented rise of drug overdose cases in which most of the drugs involved were directly purchased through the Darknet marketplace.

The latest report released portrayed a true reflection of the nature of drug activities going on in the state. It has been reported that Utah recorded a massive rise of 78% of drug overdoses in 2016. The main drug focused was fentanyl, and the research was based on the number of fentanyl deaths recorded in the year.

Fentanyl has been an “easy to ship” drug on the Darknet, and its trade is a big-time business.

The information according to the Utah Health Status Update, compiled by the Department of health contained a preliminary count of 41 deaths in the state. It was reported that the majority of the drug overdose deaths recorded was illicit fentanyl drugs. Most of the fentanyl-related deaths in Utah involved pharmaceutically sourced fentanyl; however, from the beginning of 2016, there has been an increase in deaths related to illicit fentanyl,” the report stated.

The Department of Health started tracing drug overdose death in 2000, and they recorded 23 deaths in 2015. The death counts recorded in 2016 were said to be the highest since 2000. This has made the FDA increase its focus on fentanyl in postal facilities.

Fentanyl is more dangerous than a gun and more harmful than anything one can imagine. It has resulted in many deaths not only in Utah but across the United States of America. The major source of it is the Darknet where the Utah teens hide behind their computers to trade. It is reported that the ingredients for fentanyl are from China. Also, there are easily accessible labs on the internet that produce the fentanyl in diverse forms and shapes. Most of the users do not normally get to know whether or not what they really consume is fentanyl.

The report confirmed that the use of Naloxone, a drug used to reverse the effect of Fentanyl has increased steadily since 2010. The drug overdose death rate recorded would have been worse had it not been the acceptance of Naloxone in the state. The only concern is that Naloxone is very scarce in most of the households, though paramedics have them in fair quantities to reverse an overdose.

The Rise of Fentanyl Deaths in Utah

A report released last year stated that the number of drugs that tested positive for fentanyl in Utah rose massively to 426%. This rise was between the years of 2013 and 2014. That same period recorded 79% of deaths related to fentanyl.

What makes fentanyl more dangerous is that it is 50 times stronger than morphine and 30 times stronger than heroin. Besides that, fentanyl takes effect from the onset of ingestion, unlike heroin which takes effect from 10 to 20 minutes after consumption. It is undeniable that heroin consumption is also high in the United States of America, but none of the illegal consumed drugs kill more than fentanyl according to statistics.

Authorities have tried all possible means to control the overdose death, ranging from providing education on the effect of fentanyl to the life imprisonment sentencing of some fentanyl drug vendors.

Jennifer Plumb, M.D., a pediatrician with the University of Utah Healthcare called the public to treat the overdose cases as a public health crisis. “We need to treat this as a public health crisis. We need to act now to stop people from becoming dependent upon and addicted to opioids with better oversight of how they prescribe them.”

She further called on collaboration with the law to get the fentanyl off the streets. ”We also need to work with law enforcement to get these frightening synthetic substances off the streets. And we need to increase access to treatment for those already addicted. It is critical that we act now.”

The CDC reported that fentanyl kills 91 Americans every day. The call to eradicate synthetic opioid from the streets seems to be a good idea, but getting it off the Darknet will be better, however, it sounds impossible. Opioid vendors on the Darknet make a lot of returns from the fentanyl sale, and this attracts more fentanyl vendors into the online black market.

Regardless of how complicated it seemed to totally eradicate drug overdose death in Utah and America as a whole, it is achievable with a better strategy in place.

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The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Saudi Cinema

The “cinema alley,” as the people of Riyadh call it, in Al-Murabba neighborhood, had a large number of movie venues back then. Also, the most famous ones in Jeddah were “Bab Sharif,” located in one of the oldest areas of Jeddah, and the “Abu Safeya” cinema in the Hindawi district.
As for Saudi cinema production, during the 1960s and 1970s, there were only a few documentary films produced by oil companies in the Eastern Province. via The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Saudi Cinema

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The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Saudi Cinema

Ruba ObaidCinemas existed in Saudi Arabia’s major cities about half-a-century ago. Westerners working for the California State Oil Company (later Aramco) were the first to introduce cinemas to Saudis.
They installed large screens in their residential compounds during the 1930s to watch American and European films. From residential complexes of foreign employees, cinemas spread to the four major Saudi cities: Riyadh, Jeddah, Taif and Abha, until the number of theaters in Jeddah alone reached 30. Ticket prices ranged from SR3 to SR10.
Early movie theaters were mainly found in sports clubs, foreign embassies, or personally supported by individuals. Wealthy businessmen established many of those theaters and they were nowhere near the standards of other Arab cities such as Cairo and Beirut. It was not difficult to open one, for such theater houses did not require a formal license at the time.
The “cinema alley,” as the people of Riyadh call it, in Al-Murabba neighborhood, had a large number of movie venues back then. Also, the most famous ones in Jeddah were “Bab Sharif,” located in one of the oldest areas of Jeddah, and the “Abu Safeya” cinema in the Hindawi district.
As for Saudi cinema production, during the 1960s and 1970s, there were only a few documentary films produced by oil companies in the Eastern Province. Among the most famous works produced by Aramco is a documentary film about the inauguration of the first petroleum well in the Kingdom, in the presence of King Abdul Aziz.
Abdullah Al-Muhaisen is considered to be the first Saudi director. In1975, he released what can be referred to as the first Saudi film. It was about the development of the city of Riyadh.
Al-Muhaisen participated in the festival of documentary films in Cairo in 1976. Again, in 1977, he released a more important film, a documentary about the Lebanese civil war and the damage that war inflicted on the beautiful city of Beirut. He was awarded with the Nefertiti Prize for best short film.
Dreams of Saudi cinema were cut short by the religious and social changes that followed the failed attempt by Juhayman Al-Otaibi and fellow extremists to capture the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
Cinemas were closed in all major cities of the Kingdom. Embassies closed their doors to members of the community. At the time, the idea of filming for many religious people in society became a “moral crime.”
Those events resulted in the absence of cinematic culture. During the past decades, the public did not believe in the importance of cinema as important source of culture and knowledge. Traces of that period still exist among many Saudis, especially the negative perception that cinema unravels the very moral fabric of the society, because it includes a content that conflicts with Islamic morals and teachings.
However, during the absence of movie theaters in Saudi Arabia, people were able to deal with that by installing small theaters in their houses, and traveling to neighboring Bahrain and the UAE to watch movies as soon as they got released.
Today, most Saudis, especially youth, see the importance of cinemas, even though some believe that controls are important before they are opened. However, the keen interest of Saudis in cinema industry is easily noticeable through their creative production houses that started a few years ago with the rise of social media such as Telfaz11 and Uturn. They used YouTube to practice and promote their talents.

ArabNews, reported, “Ahd Kamel, Saudi filmmaker, actress and director shared her experience and opinion about the movie industry and Saudi society in a candid talk show at Athr gallery in Jeddah on Tuesday.
The much acclaimed and accomplished film director received a warm welcome from critics for her first film. This past year has been a busy one for the young star, making appearances in the Dubai International Film Festival and most recently in the Berlin International Film Festival for her second short film ‘Sanctity.’
Discussing the latest buzz surrounding her, Kamel frankly said she hoped that the public and critics’ interest in her latest movie was generated due to the creativity and artistic work instilled by the film itself and not because of the Saudi flagship.
She also expressed her optimism and confidence in the Saudi filmmaking industry, saying the Kingdom has many talented people that are waiting for the right opportunity to shine.
“I am hundred percent assured about this, even though at the moment we might not be advancing in the right direction, since we still don’t have cinemas, however, filmmaking is an expression and as a society we have much talent and issues to discuss. Saudi cinema is still in its infancy stages, it needs to be nurtured, developed and supported. There are many Saudi filmmakers testing their skills abroad to see where they stand. I think, as cinema becomes a part of our culture and the burgeoning art movement, people will need to receive education about films and the history of cinema. I see the glass half full,” she said.
Kamel is the first Saudi woman to study acting and filmmaking in the United States of America. Her impressive resume includes working alongside numerous famous directors. “Saudi Arabia opens the doors but you have to push through. I don’t like to label myself as a Saudi filmmaker, I am simply from the film industry; I am a native of the Kingdom, but I don’t want to carry any banners,” she added. Recalling her beginnings, Kamel said she never dreamt of being a filmmaker, rather the profession chose her. She picked up a camera to make her graduation project and suddenly filmmaking became her profession.
Kamel explained that with the film ‘Sanctity’ she tried to highlight overlooked social and female issues and bring them to the forefront of the public’s attention. “I want to share different angles of the strength and endurance of women; it’s not easy for example to be a mother. I usually approach the theme of my work with a question and then try to tackle it and provide an answer. With regards to this film, the question I put across to the audience is what does a woman do in the absence of a man from her life.”
Sanctity relays the story of a young widow, who tries to protect her unborn child.
The most challenging aspect of her experience in directing this movie was the ability to complete the shooting in seven days. It is worth noting that the film was shot on location in Jeddah.
“It was a great experience shooting on the streets of Jeddah. People in the neighborhoods where we were filming welcomed us and were extremely supportive. The people all-together made this experience a successful one,” she said.
The young filmmaker said she would like to approach the subject of friendship and plutonic relations that cut across the barriers segregating the sexes. “How can we create a society without segregation? We are not living in the jungle.

The message needs to be sent across that women can stand up for themselves; that we are capable of doing anything, after all we are responsible for raising the next generation and therefore we should not be ignored,” she emphasized.
Discussing other topics that interest her, she said she wants to project the different shades of black and white in the lives of women, men and society.
She said she believes that we need freedom and liberty, but if you find freedom within, it begins to manifest itself outside. For her art is a medium which pushes her to express herself and an outlet of her inner freedom.
Sanctity has an open ending because she wants to leave room for the audience to come to their own conclusions.
“I think in creative work, just like in life nothing has a concrete ending. I prefer to be more realistic, especially in films, as it gives you room to think.”
Kamel said her projects and films are not part of her social responsibility but rather they represent her projects as an artist.
The young filmmaker is very much inspired by the work of John Cassavetes, American film director, actor and screenwriter.

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RACE, RACISM=SELLING HUMANS

Nanjala Nyabola– In the wake of the CNN report on human auctions in Libya, there has rightly been a surge in concern for the thousands of Africans languishing in inhumane conditions in detention camps.

Political leaders in Europe and Africa, including UN Secretary-General António Guterres and African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki, have condemned the situation.

Notable also has been the spontaneous attention of African and African-American celebrities in the face of the silence by official Hollywood goodwill ambassadors for various international organisations.

After years of flailing diplomacy and lonely advocacy, it seems the world is finally ready to talk about the humanitarian disaster in Libya.

But while this new wave of attention is welcome and necessary, it does raise key questions.

Why did it take so long to have this near-unified voice of condemnation on a well-researched and well-covered issue that has been in the public domain for the better part of the last decade? Why now and not before? And more importantly, what does this delayed reaction say about race and racism in international humanitarian work?

The CNN film has had such a major impact in part because of the starkness of the imagery – the visuals reminiscent of the trans-Saharan and trans-Atlantic slave trades.

Although the men in the videos are not shackled, they are certainly imprisoned and, in a later part of the film, they detail the dire conditions in which they are held. Rape, beatings, starvation and murder all recur with alarming frequency in this contemporary slave trade.

The impact of injustice

Yet this information is not new. International organisations, politicians, and journalists have all reported the dire conditions facing African migrants in Libya from at least 2010.

Rather, this new urgency can be attributed in part to the rise of new forms of organising for racial justice.

Specifically, the Black Lives Matter movement has broadened the concerns of global racial solidarity, not just in the United States where it was born, but also across other racially divided societies like South Africa and Brazil.

African diasporas in France and in the United Kingdom have also organised chapters to fight local racial battles. The call for a new global compact for racial justice demanded in the streets of Baltimore, New York, Paris, Johannesburg, and Tel Aviv is finally being heard in offices in Geneva and New York.

Is global humanitarianism ready to talk about race?

It should be, considering that anti-black racism is the elephant in the room when it comes to the protection of refugees and migrants.

The vast majority of the world’s refugees and migrants today are Asian and African, unlike in the 1940s when the original instruments of protection were negotiated.

Most of these people remain in their region of origin. South-South migration is common in Africa where, for example, 20,000 Ethiopians and Eritreans try to reach southern Africa every year.

It’s important to situate contemporary human mobility in its proper place. With the notable exception of the cruel and inhumane global slave trade, the search for better opportunities, particularly in young men negotiating patriarchal masculinities, is – and has long been – common.

But the rules have changed.

In the 19th century as more and more young men took to the sea from southern Portugal as part of exploration and colonisation missions, the women they left behind would sing mournful songs, lamenting their departure and willing them to return safely, songs collectively known as Fado.

Now, hundreds of thousands of young African men and women die on their journeys abroad – from the North African deserts to the Mediterranean Sea, primarily as a consequence of increasingly inhumane policies towards human mobility. They are unmourned except when families finally get word that they have gone missing.

Criminalising migrants

Unlike European men in the last century who were celebrated for leaving home in search of opportunity or even adventure, young African men today are criminalised and punished, especially when they try to enter predominantly white societies.

Take another example. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh and have been largely welcomed, if under-resourced, while Australia expends much force and energy to keep hundreds of refugees violently contained on Manus Island. The same can be said of South Americans attempting to cross into the United States, and of course the frame of existential crisis that populist parties in Europe reserve for Muslim refugees from the Middle East.

If there is a global crisis of migration it is that societies are resorting to increasingly draconian measures to keep “The Other” out.

Contrast this panic with the treatment of predominantly white migrants or “expats”. Most countries in the world have migration policies that favour immigration by “expats” while penalising similar migration from predominantly black and brown populations.

This includes African countries like Kenya, which has kept half a million Somali refugees encamped with no legal status or pathway to citizenship for over 25 years.

On the campaign trail earlier this year, French President Emmanuel Macron emphatically offered France as a “second home” to American climate scientists concerned about the anti-science proclivities of Donald Trump’s administration.

But when African and European leaders met in Abidjan last week, Macron was equivocal in offering the same emphatic welcome to African migrants held in the detention centres in Libya – regardless of their qualifications.

Everyone wants “good migrants” – where “good” means primarily white and/or wealthy.

Ignoring the suffering

At the same time, consider that the barter of African bodies in Libya is not a question of a handful of criminals in the desert. It is a global system that rises to the highest level.

Deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi routinely used the threat of allowing mass migration of black Africans to Europe in negotiations for improved political relations.

European governments have repeatedly paid African countries to take and keep African migrants and refugees in Africa. Black and brown bodies are constantly on sale in the modern era, but it is couched in the polite language of diplomatic negotiation and “helping them where they are”.

And the very act of feigning shock at information that has been in the public domain – reported by survivors and journalists alike – for so long speaks to an unwillingness to see the suffering of Africans.

Race and racism are at the heart of the ongoing refugee and migrant crisis, but, to date, humanitarianism has been reluctant to talk about it in stark terms.

The preferred language of protection is dry and technical, linked to statutes and conventions that were drafted at the time of Jim Crow and independence movements around the world.

Consider that the refugee convention entered into force in 1951 when most of Africa and the Caribbean was still colonised and three years before Brown v. Board of Education desegregated US schools.

New voices

The convention was not designed with ethnic minorities in mind and has struggled to adapt as the dynamics of refugee protection have shifted. It responded to the white-on-white crimes of World War II and is predicated on the goodwill of states towards citizens that arguably has never been extended to black or brown people.

Which is probably why, less than a week later, the momentum triggered by the CNN film is already fading. The United States has pulled out of the new global compact on migration, and the document agreed upon by EU and AU leaders in Abidjan is widely viewed as weak.

The stark visuals of the CNN report have forced a conversation on humanitarian protection to be openly and explicitly framed as a question of racial justice.

This has allowed new voices and new advocacy into the conversation. It remains unclear if this new momentum and direction of thought will translate into more meaningful action for those on the move.

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Mattis Pleased With Results of Aqaba Conference

Dec 5–Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said today that he was pleased with the results of the Aqaba Conference in Jordan, adding that the effort shows nations can work together to address shared threats. –DOD NEWS

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis speaks with the media during a flight to Kuwait from Aqaba, Joran, Dec. 3, 2017. (DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)
Defense Secretary James N. Mattis speaks with the media during a flight to Kuwait from Aqaba, Joran, Dec. 3, 2017. (DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

Mattis told reporters traveling with him to Pakistan that the conference, focused on West Africa and sponsored by Jordan’s King Abdullah II, is “a reminder that when there’s the political will … countries with different domestic agendas [and] different foreign policies can certainly work together.”

The conference was about undercutting or preventing the conditions that breed violent extremist organizations. A total of 44 senior officials and military leaders from concerned nations and international organizations attended.

This year, the focus was on West Africa. Past conferences focused on East Africa, Southeast Asia and the Balkans. The officials looked for ways to promote West African stability and regional security. Terror groups abound in the region, from Boko Haram and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria to al-Qaida.

Opportunity to Listen

“Overall, for me, it was on opportunity to listen to them, because each area we operate is different from others,” Mattis said. The nations shared lessons learned in other areas, but he said no one was building a template that can be superimposed over the region.

“Lessons learned can be shared, but at the same time you have to size it up for its individual local conditions,” the secretary said. “With our approach to our military relations, we work by, with and through others, and in this case it is by, with and through African-led solutions to the instability of terrorism.”

While the participants needed no reminder of the importance of the meeting, Boko Haram launched a suicide attack on a market in Nigeria yesterday that killed at least 13 and wounded 53. It was a reminder, Mattis said, of “why we get together, why we share intelligence, and why we work by, with and through the African nations, and their organizations unique in this area.”

The program isn’t limited to military solutions, the secretary said. He stressed the need for whole-of-government approaches to the problems of violent extremism. “In this particular region we’ll work through the Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism Partnership to prevent the spread of violent extremism,” he said.

ISIS is being defeated in Iraq and Syria and the terror group is looking for fertile ground to transplant its noxious ideology, Mattis said, and Africa looks like that place to them.

“They’ve seen some efforts, for example, by ISIS to move to Libya,” Mattis said. “You saw us push them on their back foot in January,” he said, referring to a strike conducted by two B-2 Spirit bombers on two ISIS training camps in Libya.

“We’ve done it again a couple of months ago,” he said. “We’re doing it as we speak now, and that’s one of the reasons I met with the prime minister of Libya … [at the Pentagon] before we all got on the airplane coming out to the region here.”

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