Showing posts from March 12, 2017

UN: Deaths of human rights leaders in Colombia show pattern

A new  United Nations  report is casting a shadow on peace efforts in  Colombia , drawing attention to the killings of dozens of rights activists and warning that armed groups are occupying drug territories as the nation's largest rebel group starts demobilizing. The report released Thursday by the U.N. high commissioner for  human rights  said 127 activist deaths were counted in 2016, even as Colombia moved toward implementing an historic peace accord. Half of the deaths were of human rights leaders while others were members of leftist political organizations. Many occurred in areas previously occupied by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. U.N. representative Todd Howland said the Colombian government must recognize the deaths show a pattern and move to provide protection to those in danger. Source:

Islamophobia and Hinduphobia

The comparison has been made recently between Islamophobia and Hinduphobia. It’s an interesting one… After the election of Donald Trump, there is a certain fear in the United States of an increased Islamphobia. Certainly, this fear is justified – and certainly the majority of American Muslims are peaceful. This is why, no doubt, the American media particularly CNN and the New York Times, have been going all guns blazing out against Islamophobia and more generally, against ethnic intolerance. We need however to look at the broader question, which is whether there is some justification in Islamophobia. From a statistical point of view, it is an undeniable fact that 90% of terrorist acts in the world from the seventies onwards, have been performed by Muslims. It is also a fact that the silent Muslim majority of the world, on the one hand never protests collectively the horrifying murders that are done in the name of the Koran; and on the other, often secretly justifies them in thei

With a stroke of red pen, Myanmar's Rohingya fear losing right to return leftright 11/11leftright

Since security forces swept into their villages in northwestern Myanmar late last year, around 75,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled across the nearby border to Bangladesh. Many now fear that the authorities in Myanmar could make their displacement permanent. At least once a year, local administrators go house-to-house in the Rohingya villages of northern Rakhine State, lining up families to check their names against official lists. The names of those Muslims found missing are crossed through with a red pen, residents say. The government says it is not using the household count to try to force the Rohingya out of the country and is holding off from finalizing the latest list. But officials confirmed that people eventually struck from the list face legal action under immigration laws if they try to return. Muhammad Ismail, 30, escaped the recent violence and is now living in a makeshift settlement in Bangladesh. His father told him by phone that officials had visited his home v

Attack on aid convoy in South Sudan kills two, wounds three

Gunmen in famine-hit South Sudan killed two people and wounded three when they attacked a humanitarian convoy in the center of the country, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a statement on Thursday.  South Sudan, the world's youngest nation, has been mired in conflict since President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, fired his deputy Reik Machar, a Nuer, in 2013. The subsequent civil war split the nation along ethnic lines and has forced more than 3 million people to flee their homes.  Nearly half the population, or about 5.5 million people, is expected to lack a reliable source of food by July, and last month the United Nations said parts of the country are already suffering from famine.  Aid workers have been kidnapped, shot at and had their supplies looted by armed men.  "While a convoy was returning to Yirol from a field mission on 14 March, one of the vehicles was ambushed by unknown armed gunmen. Tragically, two people died of gunshot wound

Somali Islamists let drought-hit civilians roam in search of food leftright 2/2leftright

Somali Islamists are letting civilians in drought-hit regions under their control move with relative freedom to find food, the group and a U.N. official said on Thursday, but they are continuing to restrict the access of international aid groups.  Somalia, struggling to recover from more than 25 years of civil war and an ongoing battle between its U.N.-backed government and Islamist insurgents, could sink into famine if the April rains fail. About quarter of a million people died during the last famine in 2011, when al Shabaab's restrictions on movement and its refusal to allow many aid groups access pushed up the death toll, aid groups say.  his time, the insurgents say people can move.  "We do not stop those who want to leave for other places, they are free," Sheikh Suldan Aala Mohamed, the chairman of al Shabaab's drought emergency committee, told Reuters. Al Shabaab, an al Qaida linked Islamist group, has lost large swathes of territory in recent year

Dutch PM slaps down far-right challenge

AMSTERDAM: Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte easily defeated a strong challenge by far-right rival Geert Wilders in key elections seen as a bellwether of populist support in Europe, partial vote counts said Thursday. With more than 54 percent of votes counted, Rutte’s Liberal VVD party was set to win 32 seats, making it the largest in the new 150-seat parliament, with Wilders and his Freedom Party (PVV) beaten into second place alongside two others on 19 seats, a Dutch news agency said. Millions of Dutch flocked to the polls in a near-record turnout, with the stakes high in an election pitting the pro-European Rutte against his anti-immigration and anti-EU rival. Following last year’s shock Brexit referendum and Donald Trump's victory in the US, the Dutch vote was being closely scrutinised as a gauge of the rise of populism on the continent ahead of crucial elections in France and Germany. “This was the evening when The Netherlands, after Brexit and the American elections,

Northern Ireland vote jolts already disunited kingdom

BELFAST: A nationalist surge at elections in Northern Ireland and a Scottish demand for a second independence referendum have raised doubts over whether the United Kingdom can hold together after it leaves the European Union. Last year's referendum on EU membership saw England and Wales vote to leave while Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain, straining the ties that bind the UK together. Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon dealt a blow to British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday by demanding a new vote on independence in late 2018 or early 2019, making her move much sooner than expected. But while the Scottish issue had been well flagged since the Brexit vote, a snap provincial assembly election in Northern Ireland produced a genuine shock: for the first time since the partition of Ireland in 1921, unionists lost their majority. Nationalist party Sinn Fein, backed by many of Northern Ireland's Catholics, narrowed the gap with the Democratic Unionist Party, whos

Erdogan urges Turks in Europe to ‘have five children’

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday urged the Turks in Europe to have five children, telling the millions-strong diaspora they were the continent’s “future” as a bitter dispute festered between Ankara and Brussels. Turkey and Europe are locked in diplomatic crisis after Germany and the Netherlands blocked Turkish ministers from campaigning for a ‘yes’ vote in next month’s referendum on expanding Erdogan’s powers. Erdogan has repeatedly accused EU states of behaving like Nazi Germany over what he sees as discrimination against Turks, in comments that have caused outrage across the continent. “From here I say to my citizens, I say to my brothers and sisters in Europe,educate your children at better schools, make sure your family live in better areas, drive in the best cars, live in the best houses,” said Erdogan. “Have five children, not three. You are Europe’s future.” “This is the best answer to the rudeness shown to you, the enmity, the wrongs,” he said

‘Monument of love’ under ISIS threat

NEW DELHI: India has boosted security at the Taj Mahal after a pro-Islamic State group reportedly warned of attacks in the country and threatened the 17th century monument of love, police said Friday. Images published in local media showed a fighter in combat fatigues and black headgear at the Taj Mahal, India's biggest tourist attraction, and the words 'new target' as the backdrop. The US-based Site Intelligence Group, which tracks militant activity, said the pro-IS Ahwaal Ummat Media Center had originally published the graphic on Telegram on Tuesday. "There have been no specific intelligence inputs or any official alerts, but going by media reports we have stepped up security at the Taj," senior police superintendent Preetender Singh told AFP on Friday. "Security drills are being carried out on a six-hourly basis instead of the usual daily drill." Members of the bomb disposal squad and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team have been deploy

‘EU initiating ‘crusade’ against Islam’ Turkish president alleges

While shaming the EU, Turkish president claimed that Europe is rolling back to the days before World War II Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday accused the European Union’s (EU) top court of starting a ‘crusade’ against Islam after a ruling, which allowed European companies to ban employees from wearing religious or political symbols including the ‘Islamic headscarf’. “The European Union’s court, The European Court of Justice, my esteemed brothers, have started a crusade against the (Muslim) crescent, ”Erdogan said in a televised speech. “Where is freedom of religion?” he said, referring to the court ruling this week. “Shame on your European Union!” Erdogan said, referring to EU law,“Shame on your values. Shame on your law and justice!Europe is swiftly rolling back to the days before World War II,” The European Court of Justice said that it does not constitute direct discrimination if a firm has an internal rule banning the wearing of any political, philosophical


State legislation introduced in Georgia would expand what is considered “domestic terrorism” and make it possible for state authorities to further criminalize Muslim and immigrant rights groups, which may engage in boycotts, sit-ins, and other forms of protest. The American Civil Liberties Union chapter in Georgia, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ) in Atlanta, and Project South condemned SB 1, which they argued is “in line with a national trend of state-level legislation written to crack down on protests and suppress the freedom of speech and right to peaceably assemble that is granted by the First Amendment.” They added, “Bills like this exist in eighteen other states.” Azadeh Shahshahani, a legal and advocacy director for Project South, called the timing of the legislation “significant because we’re seeing a number of protests nationally.” Mass mobilizations occurred around the inauguration of President Donald Trump. More than 60,000 people demonstrated as part of the


Given America is constantly expanding its military footprint around the world—most recently into  Syria  and the  Central African Republic— one can be forgiven for forgetting about the longest war in the history of the United States: the war in Afghanistan. But a new column  by retired colonel and professor Andrew Bacevich pulls the war back into focus, and the picture is not pretty. Despite over 15 years of support, the government in Kabul currently controls only 63% of the country. It is likely to lose control of more territory with serious advances by Taliban forces in the last year [ PDF ]. The government has been rife with corruption primarily related to stealing U.S. development funds and facilitating heroin smuggling. Afghanistan remains the world capital for opium production, and is even  hitting new highs. None of these problems are new. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s own brother was allegedly one of the  biggest heroin dealers in the country.  And the Taliban ha

Navy SEALs ‘Startled’ by How Combat-Ready Yemeni al-Qaeda Is

The after-action review of the disastrous January raid by US Navy SEALs against a compound in a Yemeni village has sought to dispute some of the reports that came out in the wake of the incident, about how locals knew the raid was coming, saying they had no evidence this was actually the case. But the big lesson learned in the raid, which ended with the troops calling in airstrikes, a huge civilian death toll, and the death of one US soldier, was that  al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) forces are a lot more combat ready in general  than US troops took them for, and put up a surprising amount of resistance. Even beyond the AQAP guards and other general fighters the SEALs expected to encounter were female family members, who in previous circumstances the US considered unlikely to become involved, were quick to take up arms against the raiding forces, adding to the complications. The mission, the first of President Trump’s administration, is widely regarded as a failure, an

WikiLeaks Vault 7 Reveals CIA Cyberwar and the Real Battleground of Democracy

WikiLeaks dropped a bombshell on the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Code-named " Vault 7 ", the whistleblowing site began releasing the largest publication of confidential documents, that have come from the top secret security network at the Cyber Intelligence Center. Long before the Edward Snowden revelations, Julian Assange  noted  how "The Internet, our greatest tool of emancipation, has been transformed into the most dangerous facilitator of totalitarianism we have ever seen." He  decried  the militarization of the Internet with the penetration by the intelligence agencies like NSA and GCHQ, which created "a military occupation of civilian space". Now, WikiLeaks’ latest disclosures shed further light on this cyber-warfare, exposing the role of the CIA. At a recent press conference from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Assange  explained  how the CIA developed its own cyber-weapons arsenal and lost it after storing it all in one place. What is a