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US and Hu Rights Violations - Russia Confronts US

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by grtv

The United States and Russia have achieved many milestones when it comes to relieving tensions between the two superpowers after the Cold War, but it seems that lately those strains have been on the rise.

Russia has been more than vocal over its opposition of the US missile defense shield in Eastern Europe, and now Russia plans on implementing a visa ban on American officials to counter the US banning Russian officials for alleged human rights violations.

David Swanson, campaigner for Roots Action, joins us with more on the matter.

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Iran

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نوروز و فروردین Image

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نوروز و فروردین

نوروز و فروردین نویسنده و گوینده: نیک پاکپورفرارسیدن فروردین و نوروز این فرادیس فروهر ها یا فره وش های فرهنگ فروزینه و فروزندهٔ آریايی زادگاه و زایشگاهٔ زیبنده زروان و زرتشت، این زایا و زایندهٔ مهر و میترائیسم، بر همه فرزندان فرهنجیده و فرهیخته ایران زمین، فرخنده و فرخجسته باد!امید است که فرارسیدن فروردین امسال، رویش و رهایش یا رستاخیز رُخشان، تاریخی باشد که بتوانند ایرانیان یکبار دیکر با همت همبستگی و همبودگی، همسانی و هم گرائی هوشیارانه و هوشمندانه، به همراه تمرین تلاش و تُخشای تهمتن گونه، بدون تفرقه و تفکیک ملی ـ میهنی، با غرور و غیرت، با غیظ ناشی از هویت و حیثیت ملی، با سلاح و سپر تجّدد و تمدن، تحول و تعقل، تتمه و ته ماندهٔ تفالهٔ تحجر با تاول تعفن، باقی مانده از فرهنگ فژاگن فرودستان تازی تعزیرگر، در حال تلاشی و تباهی را با ترکش و تکانی تاریخی به تکفینی ابدی رهسپار سازنند!گوینده این ویدئو را با آفرین و فریشی پارسایانه و پیام رسانه به پیشگاهٔ همه ماندگان و یادماندگان اصیل، با عاطفه و اخلاق ایرانی ـ آریائی که بیش از سه دهه دهشتناک تاریخی ایست که بخاطر باورمندی به ملیت و منتهای مدنیت ملی به همراه فرمان ستیزی سزنده و سزاوار علیه عبودیت و عفن عملهٔ عمال عمامهٔ عرب تازی، از مشاهده منظره زرین و زرفام سرزمین مزدای بی همتای مهر و میترائی ملک ایران زمین باز نگه داشته شده اند، تقدیم می نمایم.

Islamic Execution of Iranian woman (Full Video) Image

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Islamic Execution of Iranian woman (Full Video)

Islamic Execution of Iranian woman by velayat-e faqih regime

(Full Video) آئینی ابلیسانه و آدمکشانه Image

1,543 views

(Full Video) آئینی ابلیسانه و آدمکشانه

آئینی ابلیسانه و آدمکشانه

نویسنده و گوینده: نیک پاکپور

گفتگوئی آشورنده و آژیرنده، بصیرنده و بسیجنده پیرامون کشتار و گردن زدن بیست و یک کارگر مسیحی ـ مصری به سبک سبعانه و سفاکانهٔ آئین اسلام اصیل تازی در کرانه و کنارهٔ سواحل دریائی لیبی.

اگر بخواهیم با سنبه یا سُوندی سنباننده و سگالنده به سفتن و سوراخ کردن مدخل و مجرای کارنامه کژین و کینه توزانه یا ترازنامهٔ تعفن بار و تبهکارانهٔ تاریخ سراسر توحش و ترور، تحجر و تخلف، تحقیر و توهین، آئین ابلیسانه و آدم خوارانهٔ قوم و قبایل قتالگر و قصاصگر قشری قمه کشان و قطع اندام گران ام القرائی، یعنی بادیه نشینان یا برزخیان بهیمه، بربر و بیابانی شریر و شیطانی، را بر اساس آیات و احادیث، قرائن و قوائد قصابانهٔ قرآنی، باز کنیم.

Europe

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Turkey: Police forcefully break-up protest in support of hostage takers Image

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Turkey: Police forcefully break-up protest in support of hostage takers

Turkish anti-riot police dispersed a protest in front of the Istanbul courthouse on Tuesday evening, using a water cannon, hours after prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz had been taken hostage inside the building.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------To use this footage please contact the Ruptly Client Desk: cd@ruptly.tvVideo ID: 20150331-060----------------------------------Twitter: http://twitter.com/RuptlyVK: https://vk.com/ruptlytvFacebook: http://www.facebook.com/RuptlyLiveLeak: http://www.liveleak.com/c/RuptlyVine: https://vine.co/RuptlyInstagram: http://www.instagram.com/RuptlyGoogle Plus: http://google.com/+RuptlyTVYouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/RuptlyTVDailyMotion: http://www.dailymotion.com/ruptlyVideo on Demand: http://www.ruptly.tv

Turkey: Special forces enter Istanbul courthouse after prosecutor taken hostage Image

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Turkey: Special forces enter Istanbul courthouse after prosecutor taken hostage

Special forces could be seen entering the Istanbul courthouse after it was revealed that prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz had been taken hostage in his room, Tuesday. Some local media reported they heard gunfire in the building. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------To use this footage please contact the Ruptly Client Desk: cd@ruptly.tvVideo ID: 20150331-028----------------------------------Twitter: http://twitter.com/RuptlyVK: https://vk.com/ruptlytvFacebook: http://www.facebook.com/RuptlyLiveLeak: http://www.liveleak.com/c/RuptlyVine: https://vine.co/RuptlyInstagram: http://www.instagram.com/RuptlyGoogle Plus: http://google.com/+RuptlyTVYouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/RuptlyTVDailyMotion: http://www.dailymotion.com/ruptlyVideo on Demand: http://www.ruptly.tv

Belgium: Thousands rail against government in Brussels Image

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Belgium: Thousands rail against government in Brussels

The three big trade unions rallied through the streets of Brussels to protest against what they call 'the asocial politics' of the Belgian government, Monday. The organisers counted 6,000 protesters, while the police estimated that around 3,500 were in attendance.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------To use this footage please contact the Ruptly Client Desk: cd@ruptly.tvVideo ID: 20150330-014----------------------------------Twitter: http://twitter.com/RuptlyVK: https://vk.com/ruptlytvFacebook: http://www.facebook.com/RuptlyLiveLeak: http://www.liveleak.com/c/RuptlyVine: https://vine.co/RuptlyInstagram: http://www.instagram.com/RuptlyGoogle Plus: http://google.com/+RuptlyTVYouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/RuptlyTVDailyMotion: http://www.dailymotion.com/ruptlyVideo on Demand: http://www.ruptly.tv

Middle east

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Islamic regime lead Syrian woman to her stoning over alleged adultery Image

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Islamic regime lead Syrian woman to her stoning over alleged adultery

Islamic regime lead Syrian woman to her stoning over alleged adultery

Heavy blasts outside Yemen’s capital, attack on Scud missile storage feared Image

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Heavy blasts outside Yemen’s capital, attack on Scud missile storage feared

Pillars of fire are rising over the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, according to dramatic images flooding social media, amid reports that a Scud missile facility on Faj Attan Hill, just outside the city, has fallen under a new attack. FOR MORE, VISIT http://on.rt.com/y5vqqt RT LIVE http://rt.com/on-airSubscribe to RT! http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=RussiaTodayLike us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/RTnewsFollow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/RT_comFollow us on Instagram http://instagram.com/rtFollow us on Google+ http://plus.google.com/+RTListen to us on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/rttvRT (Russia Today) is a global news network broadcasting from Moscow and Washington studios. RT is the first news channel to break the 1 billion YouTube views benchmark.

Blindfolded, bound - and led to their deaths by children Image

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Blindfolded, bound - and led to their deaths by children

Blindfolded, bound - and led to their deaths by children: Latest sick ISIS video shows young boys taking eight Syrian captives to be beheaded

United state

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Google "Bill Clinton rape" Image

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Google "Bill Clinton rape"

SHOW NOTES: https://www.corbettreport.com/?p=13934Bill Clinton, exactly like Bill Cosby, is a multiply-accused rapist with allegations stretching back decades. And exactly like Cosby, Clinton has settled a sexual harassment lawsuit out of court. But unlike Cosby, Clinton continues to enjoy the adoration of the public and the benefits of his personal fortune. Why? Because we haven't made it an issue yet. Let's start: Google "Bill Clinton rape."

The Fed Sits on Interest Rates Waiting Greater Recovery Image

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The Fed Sits on Interest Rates Waiting Greater Recovery

Professor Robin Hahnel of E3 Network says Yellen is acting in the public interest and does not want to derail slow and tepid recovery

The Fed Sits on Interest Rates Waiting Greater Recovery
Professor Robin Hahnel of E3 Network says Yellen is acting in the public interest and does not want to derail slow and tepid recovery - March 20, 2015

Robin Hahnel is Professor Emeritus in the Economics Department at American University and a Research Associate at Portland State University. He is author of Green Economics: Confronting the Ecological Crisis (2011) as well as numerous academic journal articles on climate change policy. He is best known as co-creator of the alternative to capitalism known as "participatory economics." His most recent books are Economic Justice and Democracy (2005), Of the People, By the People: The Case for a Participatory Economy (2012), The ABCs of Political Economy (2014), and Alternatives to Capitalism: Proposals for a Democratic Economy (2014) with Erik Olin Wright.
Transcript
The Fed Sits on Interest Rates Waiting Greater RecoverySHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore.
The Federal Reserve chair, Janet Yellen, on Wednesday once again sent out signals that the Fed is considering raising interest rates, but for the moment she would keep it hovering at the low levels of below 0.5 percent, where it has been for the last six years. Let's have a look at what she had to say.
~~~
YELLEN: Well, it's still the case that we consider it unlikely that economic conditions will warrant an increase in the target range at the April meeting. Such an increase could be warranted at any later meeting depending on how the economy evolved. Slacken in the labor market continues to diminish. Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate, the percentage of working-age Americans either working or seeking work, is lower than most estimates of its trend. And wage growth remains sluggish, suggesting that some cyclical weakness persists.
~~~
PERIES: Now to decipher all of that Fed talk I'm joined by Robin Hahnel. He is professor emeritus at the American University and research affiliate of Portland State University and codirector of the economics for equity and the environment, the E3 network.
Thank you so much for joining us, Robin.
ROBIN HAHNEL, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, ECONOMICS, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Very good to be with you today.
PERIES: So, Robin, tell us what the key strokes were in the announcement in plain English, if you may.
HAHNEL: Yes. Translating from Fed speak, Janet Yellen is doing everything within her power to slow down the pressure that she's under to start raising interest rates here in the United States. We actually have a news network that today sort of asked the question, is Janet Yellen too socialist? And I think that's actually a good way for people to sort of understand what's going on.
As much as any chairperson of the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States can be, she is actually trying the best she can to act in the interests of the general public, which is quite unusual. And so she is trying to delay as long as possible raising interest rates in the United States, mostly because she doesn't want to derail the sort of slow and tepid recovery that's going on and she understands that raising interest rates prematurely and too rapidly would have the significant danger that it would slow our recovery. And she's pointing out that there is no sign that there is inflation on the horizon, that the only reason the Fed should have to be raising interest rates really is if there is inflationary pressure and if there is a danger of inflation. And the people trying to convince the Fed to raise interest rates keeps claiming that we need to do this to prevent inflation, but they have no evidence on that side.
PERIES: Robin, you were saying earlier that she's under pressure to raise interest rates. Under pressure from whom? And how does raising interest rates actually address inflation?
HAHNEL: Well, she's under pressure from the Republican Party. They would probably criticize her no matter what she did at this point, since she was appointed by Obama. And she's under pressure from people who are not really interested in having the unemployment rate go down any further and who certainly are not interested in having wage rates go up. And that's what's not happened. There's been improvement in unemployment, but there's still no sign that wage rates are actually improving and benefiting from an improving labor market. So, clearly employers don't want to wages go up and they'd like to see the Fed start to tightening on interest rates.
Now, the way it works is that if the interest rates are higher, then businesses will borrow less and invest less. You will basically take some steam out of business investment and hiring.
HAHNEL: The interest rates that the Fed sets at lower than 0.5 percent, hovering around there, is really the interest rates that it lends to other banks or offers to other banks. This is not the interest rate that's transferred to us when we, as a small business owner, wants to go out and borrow some money.
HAHNEL: That is correct. The Fed controls the interest rate at which they lend the banks. But if that interest rate goes up, then the interest rate the banks will be charging consumer customers and business customers and borrowers will also go up. So it is true that the Fed doesn't set the interest rate that consumers pay, the Fed doesn't set the interest rate, the prime rate that businesses pay when they borrow from banks. Nonetheless, when the Fed is making it cheaper for the banks to borrow, then that makes it cheaper for--then the banks will also be lending at lower interest rates.
Now, what they're talking about is the Fed's going to raise the interest rates that they charge the banks, and then predictably the banks will be raising the interest rates that they charge others.
The other thing that comes to play here that's important is that when interest rates in the United States rise, then that will have an effect that will strengthen the value of the dollar as a currency against other currencies. And that has a big effect on lots of actors in the global economy, and it particularly would have an effect on the ability of U.S. businesses to export products. So when you raise interest rates, you dampen business investment, and that slows down recovery. And when you raise interest rates and that increases the value of the dollar and reduces exports, well, then fewer exports means fewer jobs creating those goods and producing those goods for export. So that's the concern that she has. She doesn't want to dampen exports and dampen investment while the economy in the U.S. is still in a very tepid recovery and in particular wages have yet to really see any benefit.
PERIES: And you agree with that move?
HAHNEL: Yes. I think--yes. The fact that the powers that be are criticizing her as being maybe you're being too much of a socialist as the chair of the Fed is an excellent signal to the rest of us that she's actually doing what we would like her to do that was best for most of us.
PERIES: Apparently the market is now dealing with several other investment bubbles that are going on. Can you tell us more about that? And how does that impact the decisions she made today?
HAHNEL: I mean, the truth of the matter is that what the Federal Reserve Bank the United States does, I mean, has tremendous impacts all of the world. And one of the things that I think that chairwoman Yellen is concerned about is the fact that the low interest rates for the long, long period of time that have been necessary because there was very little fiscal stimulus in the United States--we haven't had fiscal stimulus since 2009, and there's not any sign that we're going to have any fiscal stimulus with Republicans controlling Congress.
So what's happened in that context is that the Federal Reserve, first under Bernanke and now under Yellen, they were the ones that had to do something to pull us out of the Great Recession, and they did that by basically just flooding the banks with cheap money.
Now, one of the problems with that is--and I think that chairwoman Yellen is aware of this--that can also create bubbles. It can create a stock market bubble. It can create housing bubble. And I think my own guess would be that besides the fact that she has to get other people on the board to vote with her, to delay the raise in the interest rates--I mean, she can't just do this by herself. She sort of--it's a delicate political game, where there's votes that she has to be sure that she can get. Besides just trying to delay as long as she can raising of interest rates, I think the one thing that would make her want to raise interest rates is if she sees a housing bubble that's going to get out of control again. And having all that cheap money out there in the housing market I think has started to create--there is some--whereas there's no indication that we're having inflation yet, I think you can begin to see the signs of another asset bubble. And that would concern Yellen, and it should concern all of us.
PERIES: And this is largely in the housing market or elsewhere?
HAHNEL: Well, it could be in the stock market. One of the amusing things of today's story was that she's being accused of being a socialist, and yet the response from--the stock market response was to say, oh, we're so glad you're not raising interest rates yet, so stock prices went up. So maybe socialism is good for the stock market. Who knows? It's not really, but it's rather interesting.
The other place that rising interest rates and a rising value of the dollar has a big effect--and the chairwoman of the IMF was talking about this recently--that in Third World countries, there's been a lot of borrowing--private borrowing, not government borrowing, in Third World economies during this past year, two, three, four years. And that private borrowing is in dollars sometimes. And the interest rate has been very low. Now, if interest rates go up and if the dollar goes up in value and the people who have to pay off those loans get their income in foreign currencies, this could create a sort of wave of bankruptcies in Third World economies. And the IMF, as it should be, is quite concerned with that. So that's another implication of a change in Fed policy that might trigger a situation in important parts of the global economy that would be very unfortunate.
PERIES: Robin, thank you so much for joining us today.
HAHNEL: It's very good to be with you.
PERIES: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.
End

Silicon Valley Democrats Pursuing High-Skill Immigration Reform Image

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Silicon Valley Democrats Pursuing High-Skill Immigration Reform

Republicans along with many progressive groups oppose the reform, arguing that it's a front for keeping wages low in the Information Technology sector by bringing in cheap labor from abroad

Silicon Valley Democrats Pursuing High-Skill Immigration Reform
Republicans along with many progressive groups oppose the reform, arguing that it's a front for keeping wages low in the Information Technology sector by bringing in cheap labor from abroad - March 19, 2015

THOMAS HEDGES, TRNN PRODUCER: On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee met to discuss immigration reform concerning high-skilled foreign workers. Many in Congress want to increase the number of H1-B visas it issues for immigrants seeking tech industry jobs in particular. While most Democrats support the measure, Republicans oppose the legislation, because they say it would put American jobs and wages at risk.
SENATOR CHARLES GRASSLEY (R-IOWA): Most people believe that employers are supposed to recruit Americans before they petition for an H1-B worker, or that they're supposed to hire a U.S. worker if that person is equally or better qualified. And of course, we've found out that's just not true. Over the years the program has become a government-assisted way for employers to bring in cheaper foreign labor.
HEDGES: Progressive groups like the Economic Policy Institute are siding this time with Republicans, arguing that reform is a ploy to reduce employee wages. Last month that argument became reality when the electric utility company Southern California Edison replaced some five hundred of its IT workers with H1-B workers from India. Ron Hira of the Economic Policy Institute said in his testimony before the committee that the massive layoff was emblematic of the issue at large.
RON HIRA, ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE: And we see this again in the Southern California Edison case. This is a perfect definitive case study of H1-B workers being paid below what American workers were being paid. The Southern California Edison IT workers, American workers, were being paid $110,000 a year. Their H1-B replacements are being paid $70,000 a year. And Southern California Edison is not alone. It's not an isolated case. It's Disney, it's Harley Davidson, it's Northeast Utilities. It's Xerox up in Rochester, New York.
HEDGES: Reform efforts for high-skill workers began two years ago when Silicon Valley leaders like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg launched a fierce lobbying campaign to push Washington Democrats to open the floodgates for additional labor. They argue that America's tech industry has seen a shortage of applicants in the last decade. However, in a report from PBS News Hour from 2013, Rutgers professor Hal Salzman, who also testified on Tuesday, found that assertion to be false. He found instead that U.S. colleges graduate far more scientists and engineers than find employment in those fields every year, about two hundred thousand more, while the IT industry fills about two thirds of its entry-level positions with guest workers.
Jay Palmer is a whistleblower who in 2012 stepped forward over the process of training those guest workers. He told the committee on Tuesday that as a consultant for an IT company called Infosys he saw how the driving factor behind recruiting H1-B visa workers was not about immigration rights, but rather an effort to degrade wages within the country by exploiting not only foreign workers, but the middle class Americans who were training them and then subsequently being replaced.
JAY PALMER: We brought in H1-B workers, didn't matter if you had skills or not. We brought them in, I set them in cubicles and watched the Americans train them, only in the name of the dollar. I'm here to day to talk a little bit about who can't be here today and talk. I am the displaced American worker that can't speak out due to being harassed, blackballed, or possibly sued. The one who is forced to sign the non-disparaging marks agreement in order to get a severance package. The employee that my company chose not to invest in, but in order to replace me with cheaper labor. Cheaper labor that I had to train. Train to do my job, that I learned over the past fifteen or twenty years. They call it knowledge transfer, but we all know that's an illusion. It's all about cheaper labor. I read a statement that companies had come to certain senators and said we don't have enough skilled workers. Send me the companies. I'll send you workers.
In closing, I watched this on a daily basis, of Americans being displaced. I sat in the offices in meetings with companies that displaced American workers, only because the Americans that had been there fifteen or twenty years were being paid too much money. I stayed at night and helped these people that came over on H1-Bs learn skills. They're not skilled workers. These companies bombard our system with H1-B applications, and whoever gets them, they're sent over no matter their skill level. I know, I watched it.
HEDGES: For The Real News, Thomas Hedges, Washington.
End

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  • The New Great Game Round-Up: March 31, 2015
    By Christoph Germann | March 31, 2015 Guangzhou: New Hot Spot of China's War on Terror, Obama's Decision to Slow Withdrawal Undermines Afghan Peace Talks & More*The Great Game Round-Up brings you the latest newsworthy developments regarding Central Asia and the Caucasus region. We document the struggle for influence, power, hegemony and profits in Central Asia and the Caucasus region between a U.S.-dominated NATO, its GCC proxies, Russia, China and other regional players. In recent weeks, Uyghur terrorists have been making headlines in several countries, ranging from Turkey to Indonesia and of course China. The Chinese authorities are increasingly concerned that Uyghur would-be terrorists who travel to the Middle East could return and fuel the insurgency in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Xinjiang's party chief Zhang Chunxian revealed during a meeting at the annual session of the National People's Congress that local authorities "have broken up terror groups who were plotting violent attacks on Chinese soil after fighting in battles in Syria with the IS." Although ISIS's threat to China is often exaggerated, Beijing's concerns are not unfounded. As discussed in a recent episode of Porkins Great Game, efforts are underway to smuggle Uyghurs out of China and turn them into jihadist mercenaries for U.S.-NATO terror operations. In order to nip the threat in the bud, Beijing wants to prevent Uyghurs from fleeing the country and catch those who have left:China's Secret Plan to Track Militants and Bring Them Home Days after Indonesia arrested four Uighur terrorism suspects in September in the country’s east, China dispatched three intelligence officers to ask authorities to hand them over. While Indonesia initially demurred, China has now secured a preliminary agreement for the men to be returned after a trial in Jakarta, according to Irfan Idris, a senior official at Indonesia’s anti-terrorism agency. The four, who are yet to be charged, face potential execution if repatriated. China pressed for the deal as part of a global operation begun last year to return terrorism suspects to Chinese soil, according to two people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the initiative is confidential. Many of the suspects are members of the Turkic-speaking Uighur Muslim minority, they said.…Guangzhou: New Hot Spot of China's War on Terror The suspects in question are believed to be part of the group that carried out the horrific knife attack at Kunming's railway station in March of last year. Given that China just executed three men for leading the Kunming attack, it is safe to assume that the arrested Uyghurs will be executed if the Indonesian authorities hand them over. The four men and five other Uyghurs, who managed to escape, had entered Indonesia from Malaysia with Turkish passports, posing as asylum seekers. This has become a preferred strategy among Uyghur insurgents. Turkey's role in all of this was exposed at the beginning of this year in the course of the ongoing tug-of-war between Beijing and Ankara over Uyghur refugees in Thailand. While Turkey is playing the benevolent guardian of all Uyghurs, China is trying to convince the rest of the world that not all Uyghurs leaving the country are innocent refugees:South China now favoured way out of country for IS recruits: terrorism expert China's southern seaboard has replaced the mountainous and tightly guarded western frontier as the preferred route for Islamic extremists to slip recruits out of the country, according to a leading expert on terrorism. Rohan Gunaratna, the head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University, claimed that "over 400 Uygurs have left, most through Hong Kong via Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand to join the IS [Islamic State]". Gunaratna's claim comes as a leaked Guangdong police document revealed that the authorities broke up a Pearl River Delta syndicate that smuggled at least six Uygurs to Macau on February 18 and 24. The document said the syndicate was planning to smuggle more Uygurs hiding in Guangzhou, Foshan and Zhongshan to Macau before police busted the ring on March 2.…A spokesman for the Hong Kong Police Force played down the issue, saying that the city's terrorist threat level remained moderate but the recent emergence of ISIS flyers in Hong Kong suggests that there might be something to Gunaratna's claim. Citing Hong Kong news reports, U.S.-based Chinese political news outlet Duowei News pointed out that Indonesian domestic helpers in Hong Kong have been receiving leaflets encouraging them to join ISIS. Even more interesting is the flyer's assertion that recruits will be sent to "carry out missions" in Xinjiang. The authorities in Hong Kong are clearly alarmed by the ISIS flyers and the same is probably true of the authorities in mainland China. As the above-mentioned break-up of another smuggling operation shows, China's fight against terrorists and would-be terrorists is not confined to Xinjiang. Southern China is becoming an increasingly important part of the battlefield. Uyghurs who are hiding in and around Guangzhou, the capital and largest city of Guangdong province, have caused a lot of trouble in recent weeks:Police shot dead two Uygur women before railway knife attack in Guangzhou Police shot dead two ethnic Uygur women who resisted arrest and detained more than a dozen Uygur men during a late-night raid in a village outside Guangzhou just hours before the knife attack at the city's main railway station on March 6, which left 13 people injured, witnesses said. Residents of Xiniujiao - or Rhino Horn - village who witnessed the police raid told the Sunday Morning Post that more than 100 officers, some of them armed, had swooped on the suspects during the Lantern Festival on March 5. Three knife-wielding men attacked passers-by and passengers at random in the rail attack earlier this month. Police have been tightlipped about the ethnicity of the assailants, saying only that one had been shot dead and another arrested.…According to Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao, the perpetrators of the knife attack at Guangzhou's railway station had planned to be smuggled to Macau before traveling to the Middle East via Southeast Asia to join ISIS. But they were forced to stay in Guangzhou after the boat they had arranged sank late last month. Four days after the break-up of the above-mentioned smuggling ring and hours after police raided a group of 40 Uyghur terror suspects from Xinjiang hiding in an apartment in Guangzhou's Baiyun district, the men launched the attack, resembling the Kunming attack in many ways. Guangzhou appears to be the new hot spot in China's fight against smuggling and terrorism. A few days ago, the South China Morning Post broke the very interesting story of a self-claimed "American scholar," who visited South China Normal University to recruit Uyghurs and smuggle them to Malaysia:Terrorists 'recruited Uygur students at Guangzhou university' Uygur students in Guangzhou have been warned to stay away from "outsiders" after several were recruited by a suspected religious extremist and had been missing since last year, various sources told the South China Morning Post. A man claiming to be a US national conducting social science research visited the campus of the South China Normal University [SCNU] last year. Sources said the man recruited several Uygur students, gave them money and arranged for them to flee to Malaysia. It is not clear if Malaysia was their final destination, or whether they were headed for Turkey or Syria, as some believe.…Obama's Decision to Slow Withdrawal Undermines Afghan Peace Talks As usual, the NED-funded World Uyghur Congress lost no time in playing down the issue but this story highlights that the Chinese authorities have to be on their guard. And although "China's southern seaboard has replaced the mountainous and tightly guarded western frontier as the preferred route for Islamic extremists," the situation in neighboring Afghanistan gives reason for concern as well. On March 22, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah traveled to Washington for a five-day visit. The two Afghan leaders met with President Barack Obama and senior U.S. officials to discuss the troop withdrawal, reconciliation talks with the Taliban and other important issues. Ghani began the visit by thanking the Americans "who have sacrificed continuously since September 11th to bring us freedom and hope" before asking Obama to keep more troops in Afghanistan. Obama didn't know exactly which Afghan President he was talking to but he needed no second invitation:Obama slows withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan President Barack Obama on Tuesday granted Afghan requests to slow the drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and said he would maintain a force of 9,800 through the end of 2015 while sticking to a 2017 exit plan. Capping a day of VIP treatment for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the White House, Obama said the U.S. force would be kept at its current strength to train and assist Afghan forces, who took over responsibility for the fight against Taliban and other Islamic militants at the start of the year. Obama said the pace of the U.S. troop reduction in 2016 would be established later this year and the goal remained to consolidate U.S. forces in the country in a presence at the Kabul embassy at the end of 2016.…It remains to be seen if the U.S. will really retain only a small force at the Kabul embassy after 2016. There are already some doubts and Afghan leader Ghani has expressed a need for foreign troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2016. Since taking office in September of last year, Ghani has been doing Washington's bidding and this has finally paid off. During his visit to Washington, the Afghan President received the "Distinguished Leadership Award" from the Atlantic Council and the United States Institute of Peace, presumably for being a better puppet than predecessor Hamid Karzai. Ghani also secured more U.S. funds for the Afghan security forces who are suffering from a number of problems, including "serious combat losses" and desertions. But American taxpayers will be relieved to hear that Afghanistan will be able to pay for its own security forces within a decade - at least this is what Ghani promised U.S. lawmakers. Possibly, the problem will resolve itself when the Taliban take over:Slowing down of US pullout to affect peace efforts: Taliban President Barack Obama’s decision to slow the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan would hamper peace efforts, the Taliban said on Wednesday, vowing to continue fighting. “Obama’s announcement to continue to keep troops in Afghanistan is a response to the peace efforts,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said. “This damages all the prospects for peace. This means the war will go on until they are defeated,” he said.…Not everyone was happy with Ghani's U.S. visit and the news from Washington. It is to be feared that Obama's decision to slow the "withdrawal" will undermine the peace talks, which had seen some progress due to China's efforts. Ghani attracted a lot of criticism for pushing for U.S. troops to stay longer. The Afghan High Peace Council, the official body overseeing the Afghan peace process, and other influential players in the region warned that Ghani is sending the wrong message to the Taliban. The statement by Taliban spokesman Zabuhullah Mujahid proves them right. Perhaps Ghani was too busy hyping the ISIS threat to recognize that there is a downside to keeping U.S. toops in the country. Just ahead of his visit to the U.S., the Afghan President acknowledged for the first time that ISIS is gaining influence in Afghanistan and by the time he arrived in Washington, Ghani was hyping the threat like none other:Ghani: Islamic State 'terrible threat' to western, central Asia Afghan President Ashraf Ghani told U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday that Islamic State and its allies pose a "terrible threat" to the countries of western and central Asia. In a speech to a joint meeting of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, Ghani said Islamic State militants are already sending advance guards to southern and western Afghanistan "to test for vulnerabilities."Turkmenistan Looking for Help to Defend Afghan Border Nobody is going to deny that ISIS flags are becoming more popular in Afghanistan but ISIS doesn't pose a "terrible threat" to Central Asia. Furthermore, the links between ISIS in Afghanistan and the "original" ISIS in the Middle East are tenuous at best. Some insurgents who have previously fought for the Taliban, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) or other groups are now pledging allegiance to ISIS. This has prompted a lot of fear-mongering in Central Asia and Russia. As previously discussed, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan have every reason to be worried in light of the deteriorating security situation along their borders and the massing of fighters in northern Afghanistan but ISIS is not going to conquer Central Asia anytime soon. Turkmenistan is arguably the country which has been affected the most by the volatile situation in northern Afghanistan:Four Said Killed By Police In Violence Near Afghan-Turkmen Border A local leader in an ethnic Turkmen village near Afghanistan's border with Turkmenistan says police killed at least four people and wounded at least seven others while dispersing a protest. The head of Qarqeen village council, Gulam Rasul Qaryadar, told RFE/RL that police fired shots on March 16 after ethnic Turkmens gathered in front of the district administration building, demanding help from the authorities to stop what they say are efforts by Turkmenistan to take land they claim as their own.The villagers have said that Turkmen forces are grabbing their land on an island that was formed several years ago in the Amu River, which serves as part of the border between Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Territorial gains by the Taliban and other groups prompted Turkmenistan last year to "invade" Afghanistan and the situation on both sides of the border has been highly volatile ever since. While ethnic Turkmens in northern Afghanistan are urging the Afghan authorities to investigate the deadly shooting by police, the Turkmen authorities are reportedly using the Taliban/ISIS threat to arrest would-be protesters. But Ashgabat doesn't take the situation lightly. General Lloyd Austin, the head of U.S. Central Command, revealed during a recent Congress hearing that Turkmenistan has approached the U.S. asking for military aid to address the instability on the Turkmen-Afghan border. And if the Turkmen exile website Chronicles of Turkmenistan is to be believed, even foreign troops have already been deployed to the border:Report: Troops From Uzbekistan And Russia Deployed To Turkmenistan-Afghanistan Border Troops from Russia and Uzbekistan are helping Turkmenistan guard its border against militant incursions from Afghanistan, an Turkmenistani exile website reports, citing residents of border areas. According to the report on Chronicles of Turkmenistan, "residents of Afghan border villages have recently noticed the presence on Turkmen territory border units from Uzbekistan." And it added: "About a month ago military instructors from Russia also appeared on the border. Obviously, the Turkmen authorities appealed to the Russian leadership for help guarding the border with Afghanistan, a situation where, with the arrival of warm weather, has begun to heat up."…The report should be taken with a grain of salt because there have not been any independent verifications of the information but it underlines concerns about the situation on the Turkmen-Afghan border and Ashgabat's ability to deal with the threat on its own. Turkmenistan is now experiencing the disadvantages of its neutrality. Neither American nor Russian help will come with no strings attached. It is not unlikely that this will affect Turkmenistan's pipeline politics. Unperturbed by the chaos in Afghanistan, Turkmen leader Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow just instructed his country's oil and gas leaders to accelerate the construction of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline. Turkmenistan plays a decisive role in two major U.S.-backed pipeline projects, TAPI and the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline, which is now back on the table despite vehement Russian opposition:EU wants to revive gas pipeline project from Turkmenistan The European Union is seeking to revive a gas pipeline project from Turkmenistan to Europe and involve European energy companies, an EU diplomat in Turkmenistan said. Denis Daniilidis told Reuters that Maros Sefcovic, the EU's head of energy union, was going to visit Turkmenistan in coming months to restart talks about the TransCaspian pipeline. While he did not provide other details, Turkmen officials said earlier this month that "active" negotiations were under way to supply Europe with between 10 and 30 billion cubic metres of gas per year.…# # # #Christoph Germann- BFP Contributing Author & AnalystChristoph Germann is an independent analyst and researcher based in Germany, where he is currently studying political science. His work focuses on the New Great Game in Central Asia and the Caucasus region. You can visit his website here
  • America, Israel and Iran:The ire over Iran
    By Economist Although Barack Obama is right to chastise Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister has a point on Iran RARELY have relations between an American president and an Israeli prime minister sunk so low. No sooner had Binyamin Netanyahu won the Israeli election, on March 17th, than Barack Obama told him he would “reassess” relations with the Jewish state. Mr Netanyahu, says the president, has all but destroyed his credibility and the chances for peace with Palestinians, and he has eroded Israel’s democracy.These are strong words coming from Israel’s best friend. The mood has not been this bad since 1991, when the elder George Bush delayed loan guarantees to Israel; or maybe 1956, when Dwight Eisenhower forced Israel (and Britain and France) to withdraw after the intervention against Egypt. Mr Obama was right to chastise Mr Netanyahu over Palestine. But he should not ignore him altogether. This is a vital moment in the Middle East. Mr Obama may this week embrace Israel’s greatest foe, Iran, by agreeing on the outline for a nuclear deal. As cynical as Mr Netanyahu may be about Palestine, he deserves to be heard on the risk that a deal will turn Iran from a pariah into a legitimate and overbearing regional power.Not pally on PalestineMr Netanyahu prompted this breakdown during his election campaign. He declared that a Palestinian state would never be created on his watch, repudiating his acceptance in 2009 of peace based on two states. On election day he urged his supporters to rush to vote because Arab citizens of Israel were turning out “in droves”. His flirtation with Arab-hatred was disturbing for Mr Obama, for liberal-minded supporters of Israel (see Lexington) and, indeed, for this newspaper.Mr Netanyahu has recalibrated his remarks. He says he has not given up on a Palestinian state, though conditions must change first. He claims his comments on Arab voters were misunderstood and has issued an apology. That is welcome, though he still has much work to do before he will be believed.But rather than dying down, the spat worsened. Anonymous American officials leaked news that Israel has been treacherously spying on them during the Iran talks and briefing Congress—a charge Israel denies. For a president as self-controlled as Mr Obama, the vehemence towards Mr Netanyahu has a stage-managed quality. So why the drama, Obama?The suspicion is that Mr Obama wants to blunt Mr Netanyahu’s criticism of an Iran deal, or to besmirch him as a racist, so as to stop wavering Democrats from joining the many who cheered Mr Netanyahu in Congress when he denounced the looming agreement as “a very bad deal”.Mr Netanyahu is wrong to reject any plausible deal with Iran. His confrontational tactics may do great damage to his country. Yet he is right on at least one point that Mr Obama is wilfully ignoring: Iran’s belligerent behaviour in the Middle East is an increasing menace.As we show (see article), the militias Iran is sponsoring are in some ways the Shia mirror-image of the Sunni jihadists of Islamic State (IS). As the Arab world breaks down, Iran’s proxies are not just a response to the sectarian chaos but also a cause of it. This week Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels laid siege to the strategic port of Aden and Saudi Arabia, at the head of a ten-nation coalition, launched attacks to repel them (see article). Iran now has strong influence over Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and Sana’a. Mr Obama has chosen not to speak out much against this—in the chaos of Iraq his aircraft have just begun to help Iranian-backed forces attack IS in Tikrit.Iranian aggressiveness does not mean abandoning the nuclear talks. An agreement that freezes Iran’s nuclear programme for a decade is better than none at all. Perhaps, with time and engagement, Iran itself might change. With a more tractable Iran, other problems in the Middle East would become easier for the outside world to manage.But Mr Netanyahu is right to point out that nobody should count on it. Free of sanctions, Iran may become more assertive still. To sell his deal, Mr Obama must explain how he can work with a foe, and not a hoped-for friend. In the cold war the West confronted and contained the Soviet Union even as it struck pragmatic arms-control deals. Mr Obama needs to make the case that, with Iran, the West will distrust and verify.
  • Iran nuclear talks: Prospect of deal with Iran pushes Saudi Arabia and Israel into an unlikely alliance
    Netanyahu lines up with Saudis' Sunni bloc against 'expansionist' Iran By Kim Sengupta "The Independent | News" Foreign ministers from Iran, the US and five other world powers including Britain were tonight preparing for a final 24 hours of intense negotiations that could change the Middle East’s political landscape for years to come.US officials said the talks in Lausanne over Iran’s nuclear programme, whose deadline for a “framework” agreement is midnight tomorrow night, would go “to the wire”.China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, was “cautiously optimistic”. His German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier said “there had been some progress and also some setbacks in the last hours”.But as officials alternately expressed optimism and gloom over the prospects, two Middle Eastern countries were observing the apparent progress in Lausanne with grave alarm – and are moving towards cementing an unlikely alliance as a result. Both Israel and Saudi Arabia have repeatedly claimed that Tehran is intent on acquiring a nuclear arsenal, regardless of whatever pledges it makes, and that its hand will merely be strengthened by the lifting of economic sanctions as part of an agreement. Both see Iran with nuclear weapons as a direct threat to their existence which must be confronted.Co-operation between Israel and Sunni states in the region was already growing in response to Shia Iran’s expanding influence in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and, most recently, Yemen.But the Obama administration’s enthusiasm for the nuclear talks, plus its arms-length co-operation with Tehran in the fight against Isis in Iraq and Syria, has done most to bring Israel and Saudi Arabia closer. In the run-up to Israeli elections, officials including advisers to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were keen to stress the strategic advantage of their secret understanding with the Sunni bloc. One senior security official in Tel Aviv said: “Necessity creates alliances. The necessity for us and the Saudis in particular – as well as the Gulf states, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE, Jordan and Egypt – is to be on our guard against Iran, which is an aggressive, expansionist power. We think the nuclear deal that the Iranians may persuade the international community to sign would make all of us vulnerable in this region, and so co-operation makes sense.”Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday stressed the danger to the region that he said was posed by the terms likely to be agreed in Lausanne by the P5+1 group of the US, UK, France, Russia, Germany and China with Iran. The course of the talks, said the Israeli Prime Minister has “confirmed our concerns and proved to be even worse”. Israel was not the only country that would be in the firing line of Iranians, who wanted to “conquer” the whole of the Middle East, he maintained.READ MORE: What are the sticking points?Nuclear deal for Iran 'dangerous to humanity' says NetanyahuIsrael spied on US-Iranian nuclear talksMr Netanyahu pointedly warned of an “Iran-Lausanne-Yemen axis”. Saudi Arabia has taken the lead against that “axis”, by forming a Sunni coalition against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, whom the Kingdom’s warplanes are currently bombing.Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former head of Saudi intelligence and ambassador to Washington and London, warned that a deal with Iran could lead to nuclear proliferation. “Whatever comes out of all these talks, we will want the same,” he said. “If Iran has the ability to enrich uranium to whatever level, it’s not just Saudi Arabia that’s going to ask for that. The whole world will be shown an open door to go down that route.” The Saudis have formed an alliance against the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen (AP)Israeli officials have claimed privately in the past that Saudi Arabia would turn a blind eye if Israeli warplanes needed to overfly its territory to strike at Iranian targets, although the Saudis are said to be keen for Israel to revive the stalled negotiations over a Palestinian state. One Western diplomat based in Brussels reportedly said: “The Saudi authorities are completely coordinated with Israel on all matters related to Iran.”Two months earlier Israel’s intelligence service, Mossad, and Saudi officials were said to have met to share intelligence on Iran and there were claims that Riyadh was prepared to assist proactively in any anti-Tehran mission, facilitating the use of helicopters to rescue any downed flight crew and air-to-air refuelling for Israeli aircraft.Last year, Prince Turki publicly met the former Israeli military intelligence chief, General Amos Yadlin, in Brussels. General Amos Gilad, the former director of the Israeli defence ministry’s policy department, said Israel had a behind-the-scenes working relationship with the Sunni states. “Everything is underground,” he said. “The Arabs will never accept this publicly but they are clever enough to promote common ground.” Robert Emerson, a security analyst, said: “The feeling of anger against [Netanyahu] among Democrats in the US is very deep. Until the next American election, Bibi can only hope that the Republicans will try to block any deal in Congress. So for now, Israel is forced to play a regional game in the Middle-East.”The Republicans may, however, have difficulty in getting the numbers needed block the lifting of sanctions. Mr Netanyahu’s address to the US congress was viewed as a snub to President Barack Obama, and has angered members of the Congressional Black Caucus. James Clyburn, assistant minority leader, described the speech as an “affront to America’s first black president”. Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Monday of an ‘Iran-Lausanne-Yemen’ axis (AFP/Getty Images)Mr Obama has pledged to veto two bills aimed at preventing the lifting of sanctions and, without the Black Caucus, Congress may be unable to summon the two thirds majority needed to override him.Meanwhile in Lausanne, differences remained over the time limits on uranium enrichment, the lifting of economic sanctions and their re-imposition if Tehran breaches an agreement, and the shipping of enriched uranium out of Iran.Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, added: “We are here because we believe a deal can be done. But it has to be a deal which puts the bomb beyond Iran’s reach. There can’t be any compromise about that.”
  • Iran’s economy is on the verge of collapse :(The Velayat-e faqihzation of Economy doesn't works!)
    Fragility, thy name is Iran Author: David P. Goldman March 29, 2015 "Asia Times) As Michael Ledeen observes above, Iran’s economy is on the verge of collapse. Dr. Ledeen was a key member of the Reagan team that beat the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and he has an eye for such things. It might be added that the symptoms of social decay and popular demoralization that appear in today’s Iran, including epidemic rates of drug addiction and what appears to be the highest rate of STD infection and female infertility in the world, recall the post-collapse Soviet Union.We need strategists who can add and subtract as well as read and write. No matter what Iran does, it will undergo the fastest rate of population aging in the history of the world, thanks to the fall in its total fertility rate from 7 children per female in 1979 to 1.6 children in 2012. The bulge generation now in their 30s and 40s will reach their 60s soon, and the generation of working-age Iranians that follows them will be tiny: Iranians over aged 60 will comprise 30% to 40% of the population. With a tenth the per capital GDP of the US or Europe, Iran cannot possibly afford the health care and retirement benefits to support this level of elderly dependency (the industrial nations barely can do so). Against this, the Sunni world (particularly Pakistan and Egypt, if not Turkey) still has rapid population growth.The notion that an aging, minority Shi’ite population might dominate the center of the Middle East is a strange one. The Persian pocket empire is rotting from the inside, and it will take little in the way of external pressure to crack it open.END Gross domestic product of Execution in Iran By Nikpress
  • Islamic regime Cuts Off 4 Kids Hands, One for Stealing Toy; Executes Starving Child for Stealing Food
    An activist (not pictured) holds a burning torch near children carrying banners inside a cage during a protest against forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Douma, eastern Al-Ghouta, near Damascus, February 15, 2015. The protest, which made children wear orange suits depicting victims of the Islamic State, calls to compare forces loyal to Syria's president Bashar al-Assad to Islamic State forces, and to draw attention to residents living under siege and dying from strikes by forces loyal to Syria's president Bashar Al-Assad, activists said. By Samuel Smith , CP Reporter A mixed Sunni-Shia family that once lived in ISIS' Iraqi stronghold of Mosul but has fled to live in the Kurdish north after the militant group took over the town last June, has provided deeper insight and revelations about the horrors that people living under the jihadis brand of sharia rule must deal with.<In an interview with the Iraqi news website Rudaw that was published on Tuesday, the Al-Saraj family, with the father being a Sunni and the mother being a Shia, explained that although they are now living in the Kurdish town of Dohuk, they still maintain contact with their friends and loved ones that are still inside Mosul and subjected to the barbarity of the group's rule.While it is no secret that the Islamic State regularly amputates the hands of grown adults who have been accused of stealing inside its strongholds, apparently no exception is given by the militants when a child is accused of stealing.In the interview, the Saraj daughter, who is referred to as just "SA," read a text message that she received from one of her friends that still lives in Mosul, which indicated that the group's police force amputated the hands of four kids for stealing."Yesterday they cut off the hands of four kids, ages 12, 11, 13 and 16," the friend texted to SA. "One of the kids stole a toy bird, another stole an electric cable." A's brother, who is referenced as "Ibrahim," added to SA's comments by showing the Rudaw reporter a video of a preteen being shot in the back of the head, execution style, by ISIS militants because he stole food when he was hungry.The report explains that because of ISIS' takeover in Mosul, there has been a food shortage in the town and it is somewhat understandable why the child stole the food. The video also shows the kid's father pleading for his son's life before he was ultimately executed."He stole something, he wanted to eat," Ibrahim stated.The mother, who was referred to as "RS," is a women's rights activist and described the strict punishments that the Islamic State has imposed on women that violate its strict laws."They cut off their hair, some are stoned, some are shot, and some are beheaded for adultery," RS said. "If the woman has a boyfriend, the punishment is stoning. If she has more than one boyfriend, she'll be shot."Additionally, the family added that under ISIS rule a Sunni man and a Shia woman are not allowed to marry and if the group found out that a Sunni man is married to a Shia woman, the group forces the man to divorce his wife.The family also disclosed that many families in Mosul are afraid to send their daughters to school because of the tendency of the militants to go to the schools and take girls from class and force them to marry, adding that the fighters tend to pick non-muslim girls."For Yazidis, if a girl is under eight, nothing happens, but if she's older than eight, they force her to have sex with the jihadists," RS said.The father, who was given the initials "MS," explained how ISIS militants were preparing citizens in the towns to eventually be human shields for ISIS fighters during times of battle by closing down all the barbershops and forcing men to grown out long hair and beards. The thought behind that strategy is that when the Kurds, Iraqi forces or Christian militias attack ISIS militants in Mosul, they will have a hard time differentiating between civilians and actual ISIS fighters.MS said that since ISIS has taken over and applied its strict brand of sharia law, there has been a growing resentment toward ISIS in Mosul, although many in town initially welcomed the militants. He added that he suspects the group only has about 2,000 fighters to police a town that once was home to over two million.Of the 2,000 ISIS fighters, MS suspects that only half of them are actually from Iraq, while the other half are foreign fighters recruited from all over the world. Although MS thinks that ISIS does not have enough manpower to fully police the town, he said the people of Mosul have not risen up against the rule of ISIS because they are terrified by the group's brutality.He also added that it does not help that before ISIS took over the town, the Kurdish government forces "went house to house and took all the weapons" in order to prevent a rebel uprising. But in doing that, the Kurds left Mosul residents with nothing more than a knives to defend themselves, their families and their property."People are like sheep now," Ibrahim added. "They don't have weapons, only knives."As thousands of families have fled Iraq because of the rise of ISIS and the population in ISIS' strongholds has decreased, the group has found ways to prevent people from completely fleeing the town. According to the report, people that now want to leave Mosul must give ISIS the deed to their home or some kind of collateral to ensure that they will return.Although the family has fled Mosul and now lives in an apartment in Dohuk , they still can not enjoy complete freedom.Since the family is a Muslim family living in a Kurdish area, the parents explained that many in the area believe they are ISIS supporters and they are not allowed to go out after dark and must report to the Kurdish government twice every month.
  • Saudi-led airstrikes shake Sanaa for fifth day as rebels push toward Aden (Video)
    The campaign, with a coalition of Arab nations, is an effort to dislodge Houthi rebels sweeping through Yemen. By Ali al-Mujahed, Heba Habib and Erin Cunningham "The Washington Post" SANAA, Yemen — Saudi-led airstrikes shook the Yemeni capital for the fifth day Monday as rebels pressed south toward the port city of Aden, the remaining power base for those allied with Yemen’s president, who has fled the country.The bombing campaign against the Houthi rebels and their allies continued to target fighters, jets, air defense systems and missile launch pads, as well as the presidential palace in the capital, reports said.Frightened residents of the Yemeni capital sought shelter indoors.“It was a night from hell,” a Yemeni diplomat told the Reuters news agency.The Shiite Houthi rebels, who already control the capital, are backed by Iran, Saudi Arabia’s main regional adversary. Family members embraced their loved ones in Pakistan’s capital city, where they arrived after evacuating Yemen, in light of the Saudi Arabian campaign to stop the Houthi militia there. (Reuters)The relentless bombing, whose main aim is to put down the rebel takeover in Yemen, Saudi Arabia’s neighbor to the south, continued after Arab leaders ­announced Sunday that they would form a joint military force to intervene in neighboring states grappling with armed insurgencies.The announcement at a summit of Arab leaders in Egypt was a dramatic step to quell the unrest that has broken out in the wake of the region’s uprisings, but some analysts warned it could exacerbate the conflicts that have polarized countries and left hundreds of thousands dead.Warplanes from a Saudi-led coalition carried out scores of airstrikes across Yemen over the weekend. That coordinated operation, involving mostly Arab countries, could represent a prototype for future joint Arab military interventions in the region.Arab officials said they still need to hammer out the details of the proposed joint force, but broader questions remain over the ability of Arab countries — many of which have killed scores of their own citizens — to stem the region’s wars through military action. Arab armies, while well-equipped, are largely untested and lack the training to fight guerrilla-style conflicts with rebel forces such as the Houthis.From Yemen to Libya to the battlefields of Syria, armed groups have exploited fresh violence to seize power or rout rivals. The result has been deepening polarization and rising death tolls across the region. “Without a component for political dialogue, this force will be ineffective and even detrimental” to the region, said Abdel Salam Nasia, an independent member of Libya’s parliament who attended the summit in Egypt.Last month, Egyptian fighter jets carried out airstrikes against militant targets in eastern Libya after jihadists beheaded 20 Egyptian Christians there. Egypt then called for a broader intervention to battle Libya’s militant Islamist groups but was rebuffed by U.S. and U.N. officials seeking a negotiated end to Libya’s violence.Speaking at the summit Sunday in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Yemeni Foreign Minister Riyadh Yaseen scoffed at the idea of government talks with the Houthis and said the Saudi-led offensive has been “extremely successful.”“The operation will end when Yemen is safe and secure. But we will only negotiate with those who are willing to disarm,” he said. “We won’t negotiate with [the Houthis] because they carried out a coup. They used the state’s weakness to take over.”Saudi Arabia intervened in Yemen after the Houthis toppled the government and captured vast tracts of territory in recent weeks.The Arab League chief, Nabil al-Araby, said Sunday that the joint force would be deployed at the request of any Arab nation facing a security threat, including from terrorist groups. A panel of regional security officials will meet in the coming months to draw up the size, structure and budget of the effort, he said. Member states have proposed a 40,000-strong force backed by fighter jets, warships and light armor, the Associated Press reported, citing Egyptian security officials.Arab officials said the region’s unprecedented threats have made a joint security force necessary. Indeed, a wave of uprisings beginning in 2010 deposed at least four Arab leaders after decades of authoritarian rule. But the pro-democracy revolts were soon overtaken by political chaos and the proliferation of armed factions seeking to capitalize on the instability.“The challenges facing Arab national security are immense,” Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi said at the closing session of the Arab League summit. Sissi said the decision to establish a combined military force “defends our [Arab] nation­ . . . and gives it an active role in the future of human civilization.”In Yemen, in the northern Houthi stronghold of Saada, there were unconfirmed reports that airstrikes had destroyed power plants, depriving the province of electricity over the weekend. Warplanes also struck Sanaa’s airport and the port at Hodeida, crippling Yemen’s already weak infrastructure.Yet even as Saudi officials said they had not ruled out invading Yemen with ground troops, analysts warned of the perils of sending inexperienced armed forces into a country with rugged mountain peaks and severe water shortages. Such a ground force would also struggle against battle-hardened Houthis who are now the most competent fighters in Yemen. The country’s military has fallen apart because of splits over loyalties and the Saudi ­attacks.Yezid Sayigh, senior associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, said Saudi forces lack experience in mounting large ground offensives.“There are all sorts of potential pitfalls” that would accompany a ground incursion in Yemen, he said. “The whole point is that the Houthis have demonstrated that other fighting forces are disorganized, leaderless, and thus these forces collapsed in the face of Houthi assaults.”Egypt, too, commands a sizable army, but it has struggled to battle a years-long insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula. Its forces have also been attacked on the border with Libya, causing some of the highest casualties among Egyptian troops since the war with Israel in 1973.“We are wary of military intervention, and we hope the Arab League can provide checks” on the forces leading the push for joint Arab assaults, said Dhia al-Dabbass, Iraq’s permanent delegate to the Arab League.“The politics of the region are too complex,” he said. “There is no reason why negotiation should not take precedent.”Habib reported from Sharm el-Sheikh. Cunningham reported from Cairo. Daniela Deane in London contributed to this report.
  • ‘Magnificent success’: Le Pen praises France’s National Front party’s result at local elections
    French far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen. (Reuters / Pascal Rossignol) By RT France’s National Front party has won a sizeable number of council seats in Sunday’s second round of local elections. Though the party didn’t do as well as was predicted in polls, its leader Marine Le Pen calls the results a "magnificent success."The National Front is "becoming a powerful political force in numerous regions," Le Pen tweeted, adding that that the party won the elections in 43 departments."We now have a multitude of local officials throughout France, which will help to secure future victories,” she added.Prime Minister Manuel Valls acknowledged the improved progression of Le Pen’s party, though the National Front hasn’t won power in any local councils, according to projections based on early counting."The FN [National Front] is now implemented nationwide, it has reached a level that is high, too high,” Valls told France’s Le Journal Du Dimanche. Je votais ce matin à #HéninBeaumont pour le second tour des élections #départementales2015.11:41 AM - 29 Mar 2015 Le Pen’s party, however, didn’t manage to outpace Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP (Union for a Popular Movement) party and its allies, which took about two thirds of the possible 98 departments, according to projections. The ruling Socialists under guidance of the current President François Hollande were defeated. Left-wing parties managed to grab only between 27 and 37 councils. The socialists previously had 61."Tonight the Republican right and the center have clearly won these departmental elections. Never before in the Fifth Republic has our political family achieved such a result,” said Sarkozy, hailing the victory of his party."Through this vote the French public has massively rejected the policies of François Hollande and his government,” he added.Hollande’s ratings are at a record low and there are fears in the Elysee Palace that he won’t even ‘survive’ the first round of presidential elections."Everyone in the [Elysee] is scared he will be eliminated in the first round in 2017," a presidential advisor told AFP. An even bleaker future for Hollande’s party was predicted by Gilles Finchelstein, a political strategist close to the Socialists."The left is in danger of dying [and] risks becoming nothing more than a residual political force,” he told L’Express magazine.Pierrre Guerlain, a professor at Paris West University, told RT that he was not surprised by the election results, as “all opinion polls predicted such a situation.”“Hollande was elected on a left-wing platform and immediately implemented economic polices which corresponded more to the right, so he is [carrying out] the policy of the right,” Guerlain said. “And a lot of people who supported him are dissatisfied.”“Another factor is that there is as crisis affecting the poor, low- and middle-class people…They project their dissatisfaction [on] to Europe, and Europe is not helping.”Guerlain said that Le Pen, as the far-right National Front candidate, would “have a good chance” in the second round of the 2017 presidential elections.READ MORE: Sarkozy on top as France swings right in departmental electionsOn the first round of local elections on March 22 Le Pen's far-right National Front (FN) achieved a historic high watermark, but again failed to outrun Nicolas Sarkozy's center-right UMP.“The National Front has done 10 points better than it did in the 2011 local elections, but its progress has stalled. It seems to have reached a ceiling,” said Bernard Sananes, head of the polling organization CSA on BFMTV. Of the total 2054 local voting districts, the UMP and its conservative allies took 170 seats outright, ahead of the left's 44 and six for the FN, according to the interior ministry's count. The Socialist Party came third with around 21 percent of the vote. Le Pen, commenting on the vote, said that the mainstream parties are conspiring against her party.“This massive vote for the National Front that is taking root in election after election shows that the French want to rediscover their freedom,” she said. “Send home those who have brought France to her knees, and bring a new political generation to power.”Le Pen has seen her party enjoy success in the recent European elections. They secured 25 percent of the votes and took over a dozen municipalities in local elections last year. The FN also secured a historic victory in 2014, winning two seats in the upper house of parliament for the first time.  
  • What is going on in Yemen?
    By The Economist THERE is no shortage of disintegrating countries in the Middle East. Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, is the latest to fall apart. On March 26th Saudi Arabia started bombing the positions of rebels known as the Houthis, fighters from the Zaydi branch of Shia Islam. The Houthis had taken over swathes of the country, including the capital Sana'a, and were poised to take Aden, a strategic port in the south where President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi had taken refuge. Other groups have since joined the fighting, creating a bloody, murky mess. The conflict has elements of a proxy war, sectarian feud and fight against terrorism. So who exactly is fighting whom? Always unstable, not long ago Yemen appeared to have escaped the worst consequences of the Arab spring. Large-scale protests forced Ali Abdullah Saleh, the country's long-serving authoritarian president, from office in 2011. A transition plan was worked out by other Gulf states that installed Mr Hadi in his place. But civil strife has grown since then, based on religious differences and local concerns, such as the division of land and government corruption. Things unravelled in 2013 when the Houthis pushed out from their northern redoubts. After they seized Sana'a in September, Mr Hadi's government collapsed and he was placed under house arrest, leaving them effectively in charge. In February Mr Hadi fled to Aden.There are two big alliances that account for most of the fighting in Yemen. The first is led by the Houthis, who have long sought a greater voice in the country's affairs. They are seasoned fighters, having battled Mr Saleh's government soldiers throughout the 2000s. The Houthis are collaborating with other northern tribesmen and, ironically, the large number of forces that remain loyal to Mr Saleh, who seems intent on making a comeback. And though the rebels are drawn from the Zaydi branch of Shia Islam, they are receiving support from Iran, which adheres to the so-called Twelver branch and is vying for regional power. On the other side is Mr Hadi, who retains the loyalty of a relatively small number of soldiers. He has teamed up with predominantly Sunni southern tribesmen and separatists, some of whom favour complete secession from the north. The tribes often feud with each other and fight against the local branch of al-Qaeda, which has a significant presence in the south, but the Houthis have provided them all with a common enemy. Mr Hadi's unwieldy alliance is backed by Saudi Arabia, which fought the Houthis in 2009 (then in support of Mr Saleh), and by other Sunni powers that are wary of Iranian meddling. In many ways, the 10-nation coalition that Saudi Arabia has assembled represents a concerted Sunni pushback against the extending power of Iran, which now exerts strong influence in Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sana'a. The only people to benefit from Yemen's destruction may be Sunni jihadists pledging allegiance to either al-Qaeda or Islamic State (IS). Long the target of American drone strikes, they have stepped up their attacks, stoking sectarian divisions that had rarely featured in Yemeni society. Diplomats have all but given up hope of sorting out the mess peacefully. Fighting may not do the trick either. Egypt, which intervened in Yemen's troubles in the 1960s, still remembers the venture as a sort of Vietnam war. The Saudi army suffered several casualties in 2009.The Houthis are unlikely to be able to impose order in their expanding territory and they are unlikely to share power with Mr Saleh. Should the foreigners reinstall Mr Hadi, he will have trouble meeting the demands of even his allies, who seem to tolerate rather than support him. The creation of a power-sharing scheme and loose federation is a possibility, but not before much more blood is shed.
  • Arab League agrees to create joint Arab military force - Egypt’s president
    Royal Saudi Air Force jets. (Reuters / Fahad Shadeed) By RT Arab leaders have agreed to form a joint military force at a Sharm el-Sheikh summit, hosting Egyptian President Abdel Sisi has announced. The meeting was dominated by the situation in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia leads a bombing campaign against rebels."The Arab leaders have decided to agree on the principle of a joint Arab military force," Sisi said Sunday as the summit wrapped up. The summit final communique called for "coordination, efforts and steps to establish an unified Arab force" to intervene in countries such as Yemen.The Egyptian leader said a high-level panel will work out the structure and mechanism of the future force.Earlier reports said the joint Arab military may be formed from roughly 40,000 elite troops and backed by warplanes, warships and light armor. There are however doubts that all 22 members of the Arab League would significantly contribute to it; the formations of the force could take months. In a communique signed in the Egyptian resort city, the Arab countries also called on the West to form a new more comprehensive response to militancy, which is a thinly veiled reference to the desire by some Arab nations to see a new Western military intervention in Libya.The country that was devastated after civil war and a NATO bombing campaign, which helped to oust strongman Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, became a hotbed for Islamist radicals, including the terrorist organization Islamic State.The Egyptian Arab League summit was dominated by discussions of the Yemen turmoil, where Shiite Houthi rebels ousted President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and forced him to flee to Saudi Arabia. Yemen’s neighbor has gathered a 10-nation Arab coalition against Houthi fighters and launched military strikes on Thursday. Arab leaders said the operation in Yemen is to continue until the Houthis withdraw and hand over their weapons.Yemen remains divided after Ali Abdullah Saleh resigned as the country’s president in 2012 in response to mass protest against his two decades of rule. He kept a strong foothold in Yemen’s politics however, keeping allies in several key positions of the government and the military.Houthi rebels had been a major anti-government force in Yemen for decades, but have capitalized on the weakening of the central government, which failed to address pressing issues like tribal divisions, the economic slowdown, the pressure from the Yemeni branch of Al-Qaeda and others.
  • Air Canada flight crashes on runway in Halifax
    Air Canada Airbus A320 (Image from wikipedia.org) By RT Air Canada flight 624 has crashed on a runway at Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Canada, the airline has confirmed. The plane reportedly hit power lines and sustained extensive damage upon crash-landing. No passengers were killed. Flight AC624 “exited runway upon landing at Halifax,” Air Canada confirmed on Twitter. According to the airline, all passengers have deplaned and are being evacuated to the terminal. The number of people was reported as 137, including 132 passengers and 5 crew members. Treasure says she is OK I guess they are huddling in a hanger of some kind. #Halifax6:40 AM - 29 Mar 2015 No life-threatening injuries were reported from the scene, but many passengers sustained minor cuts and were in a state of shock. Passengers arrive at the Alt Hotel. #cbcns7:26 AM - 29 Mar 2015 Hospitals are expecting to receive up to 50 injured passengers for medical assistance, while two patients have already been taken to hospital by ambulance, CBS News reported. The airport spokesman said that between six and eight passengers had been taken to the hospital by ambulance.Stanfield has suspended all flights for at least a couple of hours until emergency services have dealt with the incident. #halifax @AirCanada6:50 AM - 29 Mar 2015