"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life"

Father God, thank you for the love of the truth you have given me. Please bless me with the wisdom, knowledge and discernment needed to always present the truth in an attitude of grace and love. Use this blog and Northwoods Ministries for your glory. Help us all to read and to study Your Word without preconceived notions, but rather, let scripture interpret scripture in the presence of the Holy Spirit. All praise to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Please note: All my writings and comments appear in bold italics in this colour

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Aussie Senator Threatened with Beheading for Not Pushing Sharia

“Terrorists threaten Senator Jacquie Lambie with beheading unless she helps introduce sharia law,” 
Samantha Maiden, Ken McGregor, Sunday Mail, March 1, 2015

Tasmanian Senator Jacquie Lambie taking the threat seriously
POLICE are investigating a poison pen letter claiming that terrorists plan to behead Tasmanian Senator Jacquie Lambie unless she helps introduce sharia law in Australia.

The letter warns that “you are the enemy of Islamic State, therefore, I will take the honour in beheading you”.

It includes graphic images of a man having his head sliced off by a knife.

Her office conceded the letter could be a fake threat, linked to opponents of a new mosque in Adelaide, but said that they were taking the threat seriously and had referred the matter to the Australian Federal Police.

It claims to have been prepared by the “Adelaide Islamic State Mujahideen” and makes references to plans to build a mosque in Adelaide, suggesting that the development would represent a celebration of Lindt gunman Haron Monis’s efforts to expand the Islamic State’s philosophy.

The outspoken senator, who recently called for the introduction of the death penalty for terrorists, has confirmed her staff received a letter this week.

“Do not involve the police or media, shut you f—en mouth and do as I say or else the bloodshed will worsen,” the letter says.

“I swear upon Allah’s will that death will be approaching to you.”

Describing the contents as “disgusting” Senator Lambie said she had no plans to abandon her pursuit of tougher laws against terrorists.

“If you don’t like our Australian law or you don’t want to abide by our Australian constitution then pack your bags and do what I have already asked leave,” she said. Here is a reality check for Islamic terrorists living in Australia, we will never bow down to sharia law.”

Opponents of the proposed mosque at Greenfields yesterday distanced themselves from the letter. John Bolton, who made a deputation against the mosque being built at a Salisbury Council meeting last week, said the letter was shocking.

“My belief is there are very good arguments to why the mosque should not be built there (but) I would not be involved with, nor am I aware of, anyone who would make such statements,” he said.

A member of the Patriots Defence League of Adelaide, who did not want to be named, said he did not know of anyone who would go to such extremes and would not endorse such a horrific letter. He said he would be sceptical of the letter being created by anyone in the League but said he could not speak for everyone.

Ahmed Ahmedy of the Hazara Foundation of SA, who have proposed the mosque, said he was shocked anyone would try and link the mosque with the crimes of Monis.

“I don’t know what the beliefs of the people who did write the letter are but it is not an Australian belief,” he said.

“Australians are broad minded and multicultural.”

SA Police Assistant Commissioner Bryan Fahy said SA Police were aware of the threat and working with Australian Federal Police.

Good chance this is a fake, however, in 2015 you cannot dismiss a threat of beheading easily. Hopefully the police will be able to track the writer whereupon we will know if it is real. Meanwhile, Senator Lambie is my hero for the week for her courage and resolve. God bless her.

Stinging Critique of Susan Rice by the Most Famous Rabbi in America

The New York Times - Saturday, 28 Feb. 2015
Susan Rice, Security Adviser to the President, appears to have taken on the role of 'frontman' for President Obama and Foreign Secretary John Kerry. Willingly, she stepped forward and condemned Israeli President Netanyahu's upcoming speech to Congress as 'destructive to US - Israeli relations'. 

She also tweeted, “Personal attacks in Israel directed at Sec Kerry totally unfounded and unacceptable”, thereby running interference for the 'obsessive and messianic' Kerry.

What do we know about Susan Rice and why was she trashed in the poster above?

New York Observer

Susan Rice was part of Bill Clinton’s National Security Team that in 1994 took no action whatsoever during the Rwanda genocide, leaving more than 800,000 men, women, and children to be hacked to death by machete in the fastest genocide ever recorded.

Not content to insist on American non-involvement, the Clinton administration went a step further by obstructing the efforts of other nations to stop the slaughter. On April 21, 1994, the Canadian UN commandeer in Rwanda, General Romeo Dallaire, declared that he required only 5000 troops to bring the genocide to a rapid halt. In addition, a single bombing run against the RTLM Hutu Power radio transmitting antenna would have made it impossible for the Hutus to coordinate their genocide.

But on the very same day, as Phillip Gourevitch explains in his definitive account of the Rwandan genocide, We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We will Be Killed With Our Families, the Security Council, with the Clinton Administration’s blessing, ordered the UN force under Dallaire reduced by ninety percent to a skeleton staff of 270 troops who would powerlessly witness the slaughter to come. This, in turn, was influenced by Presidential Decision Directive 25, which “amounted to a checklist of reasons to avoid American involvement in UN peacekeeping missions,” even though Dallaire did not seek American troops and the mission was not peacekeeping but genocide prevention. Indeed, Madeleine Albright, then the American Ambassador to the UN, opposed leaving even this tiny UN force. She also pressured other countries “to duck, as the death toll leapt from thousands to tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands … the absolute low point in her career as a stateswoman.”

In a 2001 article published in The Atlantic, Samantha Power, author of the Pulitzer-Prize winning A Problem from Hell and arguably the world’s foremost voice against genocide and who is now Rice’s successor as America’s Ambassador to the UN, referred to Rice and her colleagues in the Clinton Administration as Bystanders to Genocide. She quotes Rice in her 2002 book as saying, “If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November congressional election?” That Rice would have brought up the midterm elections as a more important consideration than stopping the fastest slaughter of human life in all history – 330 dying every hour – is one of the saddest pronouncements ever to be uttered by American public official.

Susan Rice
But she did not stop there.

Rice then joined Madeline Albright, Anthony Lake, and Warren Christopher as part of a coordinated effort not only to impede UN action to stop the Rwanda genocide, but to minimize public opposition to American inaction by removing words like “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” from government communications on the subject.

In the end, eight African nations, fed up with American inaction, agreed to send in an intervention force to stop the slaughter provided that the U.S. would lend them fifty armored personal carriers. The Clinton Administration decided it would lease rather than lend the armor for a price of $15 million. The carriers sat on a runway in Germany while the UN pleaded for a $5 million reduction as the genocidal inferno raged. The story only gets worse from there, with the Clinton State Department refusing to label the Rwanda horrors a genocide because of the 1948 Genocide Convention that would have obligated the United States to intervene, an effort that Susan Rice participated in.

It was painful enough to watch Kofi Anan elevated to Secretary General even though as head of UN peace-keeping forces worldwide he sent two now infamous cables to Dallaire forbidding him from any efforts to stop the genocide (the cables are on display in the Kigali Genocide Memorial).

It’s nearly as painful watching Rice lecture the Jewish state, which lost one third of its entire people in a genocide of four short years, lecture the Jews about how unacceptable it is for them to criticize those who claim to know how to protect them better than they know themselves.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, whom Newsweek and The Washington Post call “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 30 books, and will shortly publish The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging G-d in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering. His website is www.shmuley.com. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

The Palestinian Authority’s Bad Day in Court

The government of the West Bank, which receives hundreds of millions in U.S. foreign aid, is found liable for financing terrorism in Israel.


For the better part of a decade, Congress has annually allocated $400 million to the Palestinian Authority in foreign aid, ostensibly to build schools, renovate hospitals and repair roads. On Monday in a U.S. federal court, a Manhattan jury found that this same Palestinian government financed and supported six terrorist acts that killed dozens of people in 2002-04 during the Second Intifada against Israel.

The Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member, Hanan Ashrawi
The verdict held the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization liable for $218.5 million in damages. Under the 1992 Anti-Terrorism Act, the sum automatically triples to $655.5 million, roughly 15% of the Palestinian Authority’s annual budget. The Palestinian groups said they will appeal.

For the 10 American families who were injured or lost relatives more than a decade ago in the terrorist attacks, the ruling is overdue justice. Mark Sokolow, the lead plaintiff, had narrowly escaped the south tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11 and was in Jerusalem four months later. He and his family were outside a shoe store when a suicide bomb detonated. Mr. Sokolow’s wife, Rena, recalled in testimony hearing “a whoosh, and I started spinning around like I was in a washing machine.” She looked at her leg and saw “the bone sticking out.” Nearby, Ms. Sokolow said, “I saw a severed head of a woman.”

Assistant Books Editor Jessica Kasmer-Jacobs on a landmark federal court ruling that awarded damages to American families of Palestinian terror victims. Photo credit: Getty Images.
The families in the lawsuit were represented by Kent Yalowitz of Arnold & Porter, and Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of Shurat Ha’Din, an Israeli law firm. Representing the Palestinians was Mark Rochon of Miller & Chevalier, who told the jury that the attacks were carried out by agents “acting on their own for their own reasons” and not by the government he was defending. Those agents were “crazy, wrong, contemptible,” said Mr. Rochon, “but not my clients.”

Yet as the six-week trial revealed, the Palestinian Authority provided backing for terrorists—and continues to do so today. Palestinian military and intelligence officials, Mr. Yalowitz calculated, spend $50 million a year to keep terrorists on the payroll while they are held in Israeli jails. The Palestinian government also awards “martyr payments” to the families of suicide bombers.

Monday’s verdict comes as something of a vindication for the family of Leon Klinghoffer, the wheelchair-bound American who in 1985 was murdered by Palestine Liberation Organization terrorists aboard the hijacked Italian cruise liner Achille Lauro. The Klinghoffer family filed a lawsuit, but U.S. federal courts had no jurisdiction over acts of terrorism outside the country. The case was dropped, and the PLO settled with the Klinghoffers out of court for an undisclosed sum in 1997.

The 1992 Anti-Terrorism Act provides federal courts “with an explicit grant of jurisdiction over international terrorism” and a private right of action for “any national of the United States injured in his or her person, property, or business by reason of an act of international terrorism.” The act also has the virtue of allowing American citizens to assign blame for supporting terrorism, even if politicians are reluctant to do so. A jury in New York has spoken about the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization. Congress might want to consider that fact as it prepares next year’s foreign-aid budget.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Russia Opposition Politician Boris Nemtsov Shot Dead

Mr Nemtsov was shot on bridge within sight of St Basil's Cathedral and Kremlin
A leading Russian opposition politician, former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, has been shot dead in Moscow, Russian officials say.

An unidentified attacker in a car shot Mr Nemtsov four times in the back as he crossed a bridge in view of the Kremlin, police say.

He died hours after appealing for support for a march on Sunday in Moscow against the war in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has condemned the murder, the Kremlin says.

In a recent interview, Mr Nemtsov had said he feared Mr Putin would have him killed because of his opposition to the war in Ukraine.

Boris Nemtsov was one of Russia's leading economic reformers in the 1990s
Mr Nemtsov, 55, served as first deputy prime minister under President Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s.

He had earned a reputation as an economic reformer while governor of one of Russia's biggest cities, Nizhny Novgorod.

Falling out of favour with Yeltsin's successor, Mr Putin, he became an outspoken opposition politician.

'Brutal murder'
Thorbjorn Jagland, secretary general of the Council of Europe, condemned the killing, saying in a tweet: "I am shocked and appalled key opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was shot. Killers must be brought to justice."

US President Barack Obama condemned the "brutal murder" and called on the Russian government to conduct a "prompt, impartial and transparent investigation".

Mr Nemtsov was shot at around 23:40 (20:40 GMT) on Friday while crossing Bolshoy Kamenny Bridge accompanied by a woman, Russia's interior ministry said.

He was shot with a pistol from a white car which fled the scene, a police source told Russia's Interfax news agency.

According to Russian-language news website Meduza, "several people" got out of a car and shot him.

One of the politician's colleagues in his RPR-Parnassus party, Ilya Yashin, confirmed Mr Nemtsov's death.

"Unfortunately I can see the corpse of Boris Nemtsov in front of me now," he was quoted as saying by Russia's lenta.ru news website.

Flowers were left at the site of the shooting through the night.

Russian opposition leaders Ilya Yashin, left, and Ksenia Sobchak
react to news of the death of Mr Nemtsov.
I expect both are wondering if they will be next.
In his last tweet, Mr Nemtsov sent out an appeal for Russia's divided opposition to unite at an anti-war march he was planning for Sunday.

"If you support stopping Russia's war with Ukraine, if you support stopping Putin's aggression, come to the Spring March in Maryino on 1 March," he wrote.

Speaking earlier this month to Russia's Sobesednik news website, he had spoken of his fears for his own life.

"I'm afraid Putin will kill me," he said in the article (in Russian) on 10 February.

"I believe that he was the one who unleashed the war in the Ukraine," he added. "I couldn't dislike him more."

Boris Nemtsov addresses the crowd at a rally in Moscow to oppose
President Putin's policies in Ukraine - 15 March 2014
Mr Putin has been widely accused of fomenting the bloody rebellion in east Ukraine - an accusation he denies. Fighting there followed Russia's annexation of Crimea in March last year.

Almost 5,800 people have died and at least 1.25 million have fled their homes, according to the UN.

The Ukrainian government, Western leaders and Nato say there is clear evidence that Russia is helping the rebels with heavy weapons and soldiers.

Independent experts echo that accusation while Moscow denies it, insisting that any Russians serving with the rebels are "volunteers".

Crimea was just the beginning for the ambitious Putin
It's not likely we will ever know who killed, or had killed, Mr Nemtsov. We can speculate that Mr Putin has the most to gain from his death. We can speculate that Putin considered the murder of Mr Nisman in Argentina and thought to himself, "if Cristina can get away with it, so can I". We are pretty confident that his people were behind the murder of reporters critical of him. So it would seem pretty obvious who is responsible for Mr Nemtsov's murder.

On the other hand, as with the Argentinian murder, it was so Mafia-like, one would be hard-pressed to believe that it was a professional hit by highly trained secret service. Perhaps both were attempts to discredit the respective Presidents. Perhaps, but I would be very surprised.

Syria's Civil War Could Stabilize Its Region

by Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times

Population shifts resulting from Syria's four-year long civil war have profoundly changed Syria and its three Arabic-speaking neighbors: Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Turkey and Israel have changed too, but less so.)

Ironically, amid tragedy and horror, as populations adapt to the brutal imperatives of modern nationalism, all four countries are becoming a bit more stable. That's because the fighting has pushed peoples to move from ethnic minority status to ethnic majority status, encouraging like to live with like.

Majority Arab (yellow) and non-Arab areas of the Middle East
Before looking at each country, some background:

Unprecedented violence in the Middle East is encouraging like to live with like.

First, along with the Balkans, the Middle East contains the most complex and unsettled ethnic, religious, linguistic, and national mix in the world. It's a place where cross-border alliances deeply complicate local politics. If the Balkans set off World War I, the Middle East might well spark World War III.

Second, historic tensions between the two main Muslim sects, Sunni and Shi'i, had largely subsided before Ayatollah Khomeini's rise to power in 1979. Driven by Tehran's aggression, they have since flared anew.

Third, the imperialist European powers nearly ignored the identity of the peoples living in the Middle East as they defined most of the region's borders. Instead, they focused on rivers, ports, and other resources that served their economic interests. Today's jumble of somewhat randomly defined countries (e.g., Jordan) is the result.

Finally, Kurds were the major losers a century ago; lacking intellectuals to make their case, they found themselves divided among four different states and persecuted in them all. Today, they are organized for independence.

Sunnis (light green) and Shi'is (dark green) dominate the religious mosaic
of the Middle East
Returning to Syria and its Arab neighbors (and drawing on Pinhas Inbari's "Demographic Upheaval: How the Syrian War is Reshaping the Region"):

Syria and Iraq have undergone strikingly similar developments. After the demise of monstrous dictators in 2000 and 2003, each has broken into the same three ethnic units – Shi'i Arab, Sunni Arab, and Kurd. Tehran dominates both Shi'i-oriented regimes, while several Sunni-majority states (Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar) back the Sunni rebels. The Kurds have withdrawn from the Arab civil wars to build their own autonomous areas. Once-ambitious dictatorships barely sustain functioning foreign policies. Also, the century-old boundary separating Syria and Iraq has largely vanished.

Syria: The part of Syria still ruled by Bashar al-Assad is becoming more Shi'i. An estimated half of the pre-war Syrian population of 22 million has been driven from its homes; of them, the 3 million refugees, mostly Sunni, who fled the country are unlikely to return both because of the continuing civil war and the Assad regime's revocation of their citizenship. The regime appears also to have intentionally reduced its control over the area near the border with Jordan to encourage Sunnis to flee Syria. In another ploy to increase the Shi'i population, reports indicate it has welcomed and re-settled about 500,000 Iraqi Shi'is, conferring Syrian citizenship on some.

However gruesome, the Syrian civil war potentially renders the Middle East a less combustible place.

Iraq: The Syrian civil war provided the Islamic State (or ISIS/ISIL) with an opportunity to move into Iraq, seizing such cities as Fallujah and Mosul, leading to an exodus of non-Sunnis (especially Shi'is and Yazidis), and remaking Iraq along ethnic lines. Given the country's intermingled population, especially in the Baghdad area, it will be years – perhaps decades – before the sides sort themselves out. But the process appears inexorable.

Lebanon: Sunnis are growing more powerful, beating back Iranian influence. The million new Sunni refugees from Syria now constitute 20 percent of the country's population, roughly doubling the Sunni community. Also, Hizbullah, the dominant Shi'i organization in Lebanon, is neglecting its own constituency and losing influence domestically by fighting on behalf of the Assad regime in Syria.

Jordan: The recent influx of Syrian refugees follows an earlier wave of approximately one million Iraqi refugees. Together, the two groups have lowered the percentage of Palestinians in Jordan to the point that the latter probably no longer constitute a majority of the country's population, a shift with major political implications. For one, it reduces the potential Palestinian threat to the Hashemite monarchy; for another, it undermines the Jordan-is-Palestine argument championed by some Israelis.

In brief, Iraq and Syria are devolving into their constituent religious and ethnic parts, Lebanon is becoming more Sunni, and Jordan less Palestinian. However gruesome the human cost of the Syrian civil war, its long-term impact potentially renders the Middle East a less combustible place, one less likely to trigger World War III.

Daniel Pipes (DanielPipes.org, @DanielPipes) is president of the Middle East Forum.

This is all well and good, of course, until you throw IS in the middle of it all. IS has no regard for borders and will slaughter Sunnis as well as Shias if they aren't as fanatical as IS. There will never be peace in the middle east for more than a few years at a time. 

Moreover, the angel of the LORD said to her (Hagar), "I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count."
The angel of the LORD said to her further, "Behold, you are with child, 
And you will bear a son; 
And you shall call his name Ishmael, 

Because the LORD has given heed to your affliction.

"He will be a wild donkey of a man, 
His hand will be against everyone, 
And everyone's hand will be against him; 

And he will live to the east of all his brothers."
Genesis 16:9-12

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Miss Turkey Faces Prison for Anti-Erdogan Instagram Post

Merve Buyuksarac with the egomaniac Erdogan in the background
Former Miss Turkey is facing 4.5 years in prison for making an Instagram video in which she expressed displeasure with President Erdogan, reciting a poem from a satirical weekly.

Miss Turkey of 2006, Merve Buyuksarac, is facing up to 4.5 years in prison for an Instagram post that Turkish prosecutors deemed offensive to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"If you google the poem I shared (the one that does not include any insult), you will see 960,000 more people shared it… it's interesting, isn't it?" Buyuksarac wrote on her Twitter in response to the charges.

Buyuksarac deleted the post, in which she recites a poem critical of Erdogan, which was made in November 2014, after her friends warned her that such acts could land her in prison.

The poem, previously published in a Turkish satirical magazine, criticizes Erdogan using verses from Turkey's national anthem.

The Last Caliph of
The Turkish president himself was jailed for four months in the late 1990s, while mayor of Istanbul, for reciting an Islamist poem in the Turkish courts deemed to incite religious hatred.

I should hope that if Miss Buyuksarac is jailed for this absurd offence, that the EU will pull the plug on any  possibility of Turkey joining the EU. Erdogan the autocrat wants complete control and is patiently developing it. Attaturk's goal of separation of church and state is now dead and buried. 

Don't be surprised if Turkey is declared a Caliphate within a few years, and Erdogan a Caliph. That, I believe, is how highly he thinks of himself.

Argentina: President Cristina Fernandez Case Dismissed

President Fernandez's second term in office ends in December
A federal judge in Argentina has dismissed a controversial case against President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and her foreign minister.

They had been accused of covering up alleged Iranian involvement in a bomb attack against a Jewish centre in 1994.

Judge Daniel Rafecas has concluded that there was not enough evidence to pursue the charges.

The accusation came from special prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who was found dead last month in his flat.

Judge Rafecas said he was throwing out the case after carefully examining Mr Nisman's 350-page report.

There was no proof that an agreement signed by the Argentine government with Iran in January 2013 was an attempt to shield the involvement of senior Iranian officials in the attack, the judge said.

'No legal basis'
The agreement was rejected by the Iranian government two months later and was never approved by Iran's parliament.

Defence Minister Agustin Rossi welcomed Judge Rafecas' ruling saying: "We have always said that Nisman's claims had no legal basis."

Mr Nisman was found dead just hours
before he was due to give evidence
to a congressional committee
The case against Ms Fernandez and foreign minister Hector Timerman is now closed.

But the BBC's Wyre Davies says the judicial system in Argentina is highly politicised and the decision to cease investigations will further polarise a dangerously divided nation.

'Rogue agent'
Mr Nisman was due to testify in Congress against Ms Fernandez and Mr Timerman the day after his body was found.

The circumstances of his death have not been clarified.

President Fernandez said Mr Nisman been fed misleading information by a rogue intelligence agent. The government has rejected any role in his death.

Thousands of people marched through the streets of Buenos Aires
last week to demand justice for Mr Nisman
The lower house of the Argentine Congress has meanwhile approved a bill scrapping the country's secret agency, the Intelligence Secretariat.

The proposal was first announced days after Ms Nisman's death, on 18 January.

A new federal investigative agency, which will be accountable to Congress, will replace it.

Ms Fernandez said the change was overdue because the agency had remained largely untouched since the end of military rule in 1983.

The opposition called the proposal a smokescreen for its involvement in the scandal.

Argentina Congress Votes to Dissolve Intelligence Agency

Argentina's Congress has approved a bill to scrap the country's intelligence agency
The lower house of Argentina's Congress passed the bill
with 131 votes in favour, 71 against
The Intelligence Secretariat will be replaced with a new federal agency that will be accountable to Congress.

The proposal was drafted last month by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, following the death of special prosecutor Alberto Nisman.

She accused a rogue agent of feeding misleading information to Mr Nisman, who was investigating the government.

The lower house of Congress voted 131 to 71 in favour of the bill. It had already been passed by the Senate.

Marathon session
During a six-hour debate, opposition lawmakers repeatedly expressed their discontent with the fact that, under the new law, oversight of all wiretaps will be moved from the intelligence services to the general attorney's office.

They said they felt uneasy about the close ties between the government and the current general attorney.

They also said they were worried about the role army chief Cesar Milani would play in intelligence gathering under the new law.

The new agency is expected to be set up within 90 days of the bill being signed into law by Ms Fernandez.

Argentina's Intelligence Secretariat (SI, also known by its previous name Side)

Founded in 1946 by General Juan Peron as a civilian intelligence agency
Mission was to provide both internal and foreign intelligence
Evolved into a secret police force during Argentina's Dirty War (1974-1983)
Used by military junta to track down opponents and spy on "subversives", including trade union and other left-wing activists
Survived the transition to democracy in 1983
Critics allege SI has since been used to monitor the activities of critical journalists, politicians, judges and prosecutors
No official staffing figures available - but analysts believe it has grown in influence and size in the past decade
Led since December 2014 by Oscar Parrilli following the resignation of Hector Icazuriaga after 11 years

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner
speaking during a national simultaneous broadcast
The Argentine president said Mr Nisman's death was part of a plot to discredit her
Ms Fernandez had argued a reform of Argentina's intelligence services was overdue.

She said that the agency had kept much of the same structure it had during the military government, which ended in 1983, and needed to become more accountable.

"We need to make the intelligence services more transparent because they have not served the interests of the country," the president said in a televised speech in January.

Kicking off the debate in the lower chamber on Wednesday evening, governing party lawmaker Diana Conti described the vote as "a fight for the democratisation of the country's intelligence services".

She said it was time to put an end "to the perverse links between the intelligence services, the judiciary and some political sectors".

One of the main criticisms of the SI had been a lack of control of its funding.

The new law creates "control mechanisms" to oversee the new agency's finances, although critics said details of how these mechanisms would work were lacking.

Opposition congressman Manuel Garrido also warned that there were no safeguards to prevent the new agency from committing serious irregularities.

"What worries us is that there has not been, nor will there be proper control," he told Reuters news agency.

Mr Garrido also said the law was a smokescreen to divert attention from the death under mysterious circumstances of federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman.

Mr Nisman was found dead just hours before he was due to give evidence
to a congressional committee
Mr Nisman, who was 51, was found dead in his flat on 18 January with a gunshot wound to his head hours before he was due to testify to a congressional committee.

He had been investigating the bombing of the Amia Jewish centre in the capital, Buenos Aires, in 1994 which left 85 people dead.

Mr Nisman had accused President Fernandez and Foreign Minister Hector Timerman of involvement in a plot to cover up Iran's alleged role in the bombing.

Ms Fernandez rejected the allegations and said a former secret agent had misled the prosecutor in order to discredit her government.

Who knows whether Cristina's accusations are true or not? Her drastic action to shut down the secret service seems to lend credibility to her. But if her accusations are an attempt at smoke and mirrors, it seems to be working quite well, so far.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Austria Passes Controversial Reforms to 1912 Islam Law

The Austrian parliament has passed controversial reforms to the country's century-old law on Islam
Protesters held a demonstration against the new law outside
the parliament building in Vienna on Tuesday
The bill, which is partly aimed at tackling Islamist radicalism, gives Muslims more legal security but bans foreign funding for mosques and imams.

Austria's Integration Minister, Sebastian Kurz, defended the reforms but Muslim leaders say they fail to treat them equally.

The 1912 law made Islam an official religion in Austria.

It has been widely held up as a model for Europe in dealing with Islam.

The new measures, first proposed three years ago, include the protection of religious holidays and training for imams.

But Muslim groups say the ban on foreign funding is unfair as international support is still permitted for the Christian and Jewish faiths.

They say the legalisation reflects a widespread mistrust of Muslims and some are planning to contest it in the constitutional court. Oh no! Not that! A mistrust of Muslims - how could that possibly be?

Mr Kurz told the BBC the reforms were a "milestone" for Austria and aimed to stop certain Muslim countries using financial means to exert "political influence".

"What we want is to reduce the political influence and control from abroad and we want to give Islam the chance to develop freely within our society and in line with our common European values," he said.

A mosque is pictured against mountains in the Tyrolean village of Telfs
in western Austria
Mr Kurz also stressed the bill was not a reaction to recent attacks by Islamic extremists in France and Denmark.

Meanwhile the legislation has drawn wide reaction from Muslims across the world, with Turkey's head of religious affairs, Mehmet Gormez, adding his condemnation on Tuesday.

"Austria will go back 100 years in freedom with its Islam bill," Mr Gormez said, according to Turkey's state-funded Anadolu news agency. Islam goes back a thousand years with Sharia - is that better?

Roughly half a million Muslims live in Austria today, around 6% of the population. Many of them have Turkish or Bosnian roots.

The Islam law was introduced by Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph (pictured left) in 1912.

Franz Joseph was uncle to Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne, who's assassination triggered World War I.

The parliamentary vote in Austria came as the French government announced plans to improve dialogue with France's Muslim community.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the government would increase consultations with Muslim leaders.

It would also double the number of university courses for imams - making them obligatory for Islamic chaplains in prisons and the armed forces - to ensure they are "faithful to the values of the Republic", he said. That should be interesting!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Irena Sendlar - One of the Great Heroes of WWII

Irena Sendler
Irena Sendlar, one of the great heroes of WWII
Died: May 12, 2008 (aged 98)
Warsaw , Poland

During WWII, Irena, got permission to work in the Warsaw ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist. She had an ulterior motive. Irena smuggled Jewish infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried. She also carried a burlap sack in the back of her truck, for larger kids.

Irena kept a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. The soldiers, of course, wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the children and infants' noises.

During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 children and infants.

Ultimately, she was caught, however, and the Nazis broke both of her legs and arms and beat her severely.

Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she had smuggled out in a glass jar that she buried under a tree in her back yard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived
and tried to reunite the family. Most had been gassed.

Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted.

In 2007 Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize.

She was not selected.

Al Gore won, for a slide show on Global Warming. Later another politician, Barack Obama, won for simply being the first black president of the US. After all, what is saving 2500 children's lives at enormous personal risk compared to a slide show. I've made slide shows, I know how difficult it is. Good grief! Gore should have refused the prize so a real hero could be honoured.

It is now more than 65 years since the Second World War in Europe ended. This blog post is in memory of the 6 million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians, and 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered, massacred.

Now, more than ever, with Iran, and others, claiming the Holocaust to be 'a myth', it’s imperative to make sure the world never forgets,  because there are others who would like to do it again.

Canadian Sniper Will Crush American Sniper at Box Office

What would American Sniper look like if it was set in Canada? Well, the villain would be a "gosh-darned" moose and the hero would gulp down maple syrup by the bottle.

That's the vision realized in the Canadian Sniper parody video produced by comedy duo Jeff Ayars and Dan Rosen, otherwise known as Cannibal Milkshake.

While it's Clint Eastwood's film about U.S. sniper Chris Kyle that's up for best picture at the Oscars Sunday night, it was Canadian Sniper racking up accolades online before the awards show.

Watch the trailer

Illiterate Peruvian Peasant Stands Up to US Mining Giant

With her straw hat and peasant dress, Maxima does not look like the type to take on a global mining giant, but as she gazes out from her small house in the Peruvian highlands she is adamant: this is her land.

Maxima Acuna de Chaupe lives with her husband, four children and son- and daughter-in-law on a small farm that sits on the land where Yanacocha, a subsidiary of US mining giant Newmont, wants to expand South America's largest open-pit gold mine.

The firm is facing widespread opposition to the $4.8-billion gold- and copper-mining project from the local community and the regional government of Cajamarca in northern Peru, which says the mine expansion will put the water supply at risk.

Maxima, 48, has become the face of that resistance.

For four years the illiterate peasant farmer has been fighting the mining company in a court battle that took a dramatic turn last week when she tried to build an addition on her house and Yanacocha tore it down.

"I can show that we have owned this land since 1994. All my papers are in order," Maxima told AFP.

"What counts here are documents. Let them show their documents! If they're the owners, let them present the bill of sale, the document with my signature that says I sold this land," said Maxima, an indigenous woman with a chiseled face who wears bright traditional clothing and the wide-brimmed straw hat that is customary in the region.

Maxima's farm is a 25-hectare (60-acre) plot at an altitude of nearly 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) in the hamlet of Tragadeogrande.

Yanacocha claims it bought the land in 1996 from the local department of Sorochuco.

It pressed charges against her for invasion of property, but Maxima was acquitted.

Her lawyer, Mirtha Vasquez of environmental defense group Grufides, says the matter should have ended there.

But when the family tried to expand its small house, Yanacocha workers demolished the cement addition, with the help of the police, according to Maxima.

"They want to make me leave by force. They see that I'm poor, that I don't know how to read and they think I can't stand up for my rights. But I have my documents. I've got no reason to be humiliated or afraid," she said by telephone.

With her lawyer's help, Maxima has now brought charges of her own against Yanacocha for invasion of property.

- 'My family has suffered' -

Since 2011, the mining company has had to suspend prospecting in the region over concerns about the environmental impact of its plans to drain the area's high-altitude lagoons and replace them with artificial reservoirs.

Those plans have only strengthened Maxima's resolve.

"My land borders Yanacocha. It has springs... which we drink from. If I sell it, what water am I going to drink? What will we live off of?" she said.

She accuses the mining firm of blocking the access roads to her land and preventing her family from going out for food.

But she is not intimidated.

"My family has suffered for defending this land, but I just want to leave my children a place where they can live," she said.

Her fight has brought new attention to the conflicts between Peru's indigenous communities and mining companies that extract the country's natural resources, its main source of wealth.

According to the government mediator for such cases, 140 environmental conflicts were registered last month alone.

This week a 25-year-old villager died in clashes between police and protesters fighting oil company operations in the Amazon.

The protest in the central village of Pichanaki came on the second day of a strike targeting oil operations that local people fear will contaminate rivers and soil.

After the clashes, which also left 20 people wounded, the government ordered the oil company, Argentine firm Pluspetrol, to withdraw from the area.

But such disputes present a dilemma for the government, which is keen to revive mining investment after it fell more than 10 percent last year -- a drop that mining firms blame on environmental regulations that delay their projects.

Good grief, we wouldn't want environmental regulations. I guarantee their environmental regulations are much less severe than those in developed countries. Would this be another example of a multi-national company raping a third world country of its natural resources and leaving them worse off than before? No wonder the US is so despised in Latin America.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Putin Says War With Ukraine Unlikely

Good luck Mr Poroshenko, the Russians are Coming!
If this doesn't mean an invasion is imminent, I will be astonished.
Vladimir Putin laid a wreath on Monday at a ceremony for
Russia's Defenders of the Fatherland Day
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has said war with neighbouring Ukraine is "unlikely", in an interview for Russian television.

Mr Putin also stressed his support for the recent Minsk ceasefire deal as the best way to stabilise eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine says Russian troops have been fighting in Ukraine. Mr Putin repeated denials that this was the case.

Earlier, Ukraine's military said rebel shelling had prevented them withdrawing heavy weapons from the front line.

In his interview - his first extended comments since the ceasefire deal was agreed on 12 February - Mr Putin was asked if there was a real threat of war, given the situation in eastern Ukraine.

"I think that such an apocalyptic scenario is unlikely and I hope this will never happen," he said.

Mr Putin said that if the Minsk agreement was implemented, eastern Ukraine would "gradually stabilise".

"Europe is just as interested in that as Russia. No-one wants conflict on the edge of Europe, especially armed conflict," he said.

Heavy weapons to withdraw, if they can just stop shooting at each other.
Analysis: Sarah Rainsford, BBC News, Moscow
This was a confident Vladimir Putin, fielding soft questions on the Ukraine conflict with ease, even smiles. Russia's president said that in his eyes, the way to peace in Ukraine is clear - the deal struck in Minsk has to be implemented.

He underlined that the agreement had been backed by the UN Security Council - and that matters to Moscow. He was also keen to point out that it devolves more power to eastern parts of Ukraine, currently controlled by Russian-backed rebels.

As for Russia invading Ukraine, President Putin once again shrugged off evidence that he's deployed troops to help the rebels. He said Kiev was claiming that to hide its humiliation at being defeated by former miners and tractor drivers.

He was just as scathing on the issue of Crimea, which Russia annexed last year, advising Ukraine's president to concentrate on saving his country's collapsing economy, instead of vowing to take back that land.

Major destruction in Debaltseve  before withdrawal
The Russian leader also said the Minsk deal had become an "international legal document" following UN Security Council approval of a Russian-drafted resolution endorsing it.

Last week the deal looked in danger of collapsing when rebels captured the strategically important transport hub of Debaltseve.

Both sides have two weeks under the terms of the Minsk deal to pull artillery and tanks out of striking distance, and both agreed at the weekend to begin withdrawing heavy weapons shortly.

But on Monday, the Ukrainian military said rebels had not stopped firing and that it was therefore unable to withdraw heavy weapons.

The rebels, however, were not expected to begin their pullback until after Russia's Defenders of the Fatherland Day, that they were observing on Monday.

The BBC's Paul Adams reports from the self-declared People's Republic of Donetsk that rebels there said they were experiencing less intense fighting than before, with less use of heavy weapons by the Ukrainian army.

But he adds that soldiers and an appreciative crowd were in defiant mood as they listened to a little girl deliver a rousing speech to mark the holiday, calling down God's judgement on the government in Kiev.

Minsk agreement: Key points

Ceasefire from 00:01 on 15 February (22:01 GMT 14 February)
Heavy weapons to be withdrawn within two weeks
All prisoners to be released; amnesty for fighters
Withdrawal of all foreign troops and weapons from Ukrainian territory, disarmament of all illegal groups
Lifting of government restrictions on rebel-held areas
Constitutional reform to enable decentralisation for rebel regions by the end of 2015
Ukraine to control border with Russia if conditions met by the end of 2015

Fighting began in eastern Ukraine in April, a month after Russia annexed the Crimea peninsula.

Nearly 5,700 people have died and at least 1.25 million have fled their homes since the conflict began early last year.

The Ukrainian government, Western leaders and Nato say there is clear evidence that Russia is helping the rebels with heavy weapons and soldiers.

Independent experts echo that accusation while Moscow denies it, insisting that any Russians serving with the rebels are "volunteers".

We just reported on those 'volunteers'.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Brigitte Bardot on Trial Again for Insulting Muslims

Former film star Brigitte Bardot, France’s iconic blonde bombshell and “sex kitten” who reigned supreme from 1952 – 1973, is currently on trial for the fifth time for insulting Muslims and “inciting racial hatred.” Bardot has been fined four times and has also received suspended jail sentences.

Now, the prosecutor, Anne de Fontette, wants a heftier fine and a tougher sentence: the equivalent of $24,000 and a two month (hopefully) suspended jail term.

What crimes has Bardot committed in the land without a First Amendment, in the land of Hate Speech laws that are being slickly exploited by non-persecuted Muslims?

Bardot has written: “I am fed up with being under the thumb of this population which is destroying us, destroying our country.”…

Good grief! Guess I had better not go to France!

Al-Shabaab Names Mall of America, West Edmonton Mall as Possible Targets for Attack

The al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabaab appears to call on followers to attack shopping malls in the United States, U.K., France, and Canada and has released a video naming West Edmonton Mall as a possible target.

Most of the recording posted to YouTube on Saturday glorifies the attack by the Somalia-based group on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, where gunmen killed about 60 people in September 2013.

Close to the end of the nearly 77-minute video, a masked man with an English accent calls on "Muslim brothers to target the disbelievers wherever they are" and lists a number of shopping centres that could be attacked in the West.

"If just a handful of mujahedeen fighters could bring Kenya to a complete standstill for nearly a week, then imagine what a dedicated mujahedeen in the West could do to the American or Jewish-owned shopping centres across the world," the man says.

"What if such an attack was to occur in the Mall of America in Minnesota, or the West Edmonton Mall in Canada, or in London's Oxford Street, or any of the hundred or so Jewish-owned Westfield shopping centres dotted right across the western world?" he continues.

Other malls listed in the video include two in Paris, Les Quatre Temps and Forum des Halles.

CNN reports that al-Shabaab militants have recruited members in Minneapolis, home to the largest Somali population in the United States and the Mall of America.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told CNN the statement from al-Shabaab "reflects a new phase we've evolved to in the global terrorist threat."

Mall of America
Asked about the threat to Mall of America, one of the world's largest shopping complexes, Johnson said: "Anytime a terrorist organization calls for an attack on a specific place, we've got to take that seriously." He advised people going to the Mall of America to be particularly careful.

On March 7, 2010, the Canadian government added al-Shabaab to the country's terrorist list, following claims that the organization is targeting Canadian youth for recruitment.

Edmonton mall tightens security

Alberta RCMP Staff Sgt. Brent Meyer said the force is aware of the report of a possible threat and is investigating.

"While the exact content and authenticity of such a reported video is being actively pursued by the RCMP in Alberta with our local policing partners, as well as the  RCMP nationally and our international national security partners, there is no evidence at this time of any specific or imminent threat to Canadians," Meyer said in a statement Sunday.

The West Edmonton Mall also issued a statement Sunday, saying it will "continue to monitor events" with the help of law enforcement agencies.

"West Edmonton Mall has implemented extra security precautions; some may be noticeable to guests, and others won't be," the statement said.

West Edmonton Mall
Specializing in mall attacks?

Christian Leuprecht, a security expert in Kingston, Ont., at the Royal Military College of Canada and Queen's University, says it's conceivable that shopping centres in North America could be targets because specific malls were named in the video.

"And we know that the three largest concentrations of Somali communities in Canada are in Edmonton, Ottawa and Toronto," he said. "We also know that we have some Somali youth who appear to have disappeared from Edmonton and joined up with al-Shabaab."

Leuprecht said by naming malls, al-Shabaab appears to be trying to expand its reach as it carves out a niche among extremist groups.

"They're in competition with ISIS and with al-Qaeda for air time," he told CBC News. "And I think the primary purpose here is for them to get air time in the media, to show that they, too, are a group that requires attention by the West and that they, too, need to be taken seriously, as to their particular demands."

Like a spoiled or neglected child looking for attention, al-Shabaab raises the bar by calling for attacks on western shopping malls. What an insane world when a group calls for massacres around the world just for attention.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Russian Conscripts Bullied into Signing Contracts Sending Them to Ukraine

Russia has denied it is sending arms and troops to support the separatists
in Ukraine, but dozens of soldiers have been reported killed during drills
 in the Rostov region of southern Russia
When Alexander was due to finish his year of mandatory military service in October, his commander told him he had no choice: He had to sign a contract to extend his stay in the army and head to southern Russia for troop exercises.

The 20-year-old knew that meant he might end up fighting alongside pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Other soldiers he talked to had been sent there.

His commanders "didn't talk about it, but other soldiers told us about it, primarily paratroopers who had been there," Alexander said in an interview with The Associated Press, which is not using his surname for his safety.

The former private first class ended his military service earlier this month. He avoided being sent to Ukraine — although not without first being threatened with prison for desertion.

Human rights complaints

Human rights groups have received dozens of complaints in the past month alone from Russian conscripts like Alexander who say they have been strong-armed or duped into signing contracts with the military to become professional soldiers, after which they were sent to participate in drills in the southern Rostov region.

"We receive messages from all over in which (soldiers) say that they're being sent again to Rostov for military exercises," said Valentina Melnikova, head of the Committee of Soldiers' Mothers, a group with a three-decade history of working to protect soldiers' rights.

"Those who have been there (to the Rostov region) before know that in actual fact it means Ukraine."
People lay candles and flowers at memorials to victims of the Maidan uprising
one year ago on Maidan square, the day before a march in which several
European  heads of state are scheduled to participate on Feb. 21, 2015, in Kyiv.
Because only contract soldiers can legally be dispatched abroad, worries are spreading among families that inexperienced young conscripts could be sent to fight in eastern Ukraine.

While Russia has denied it is sending arms and troops to support the separatists, since the summer dozens of soldiers have been reported killed by explosions during drills in the Rostov region — deaths that rights groups actually attribute to the conflict over the border in Ukraine. Weapons appear to flow freely across the frontier, and one group of Russian paratroopers was even captured in August, 50 kilometres  inside the war zone.

Russian protesters dressed as Cossacks mark one year since Yanukovich ousted
So far, the Russian government has been able to keep a tight lid on information about any soldiers in eastern Ukraine through a shroud of official denials, harassment of independent reporters who cover the deaths, and carrot-and-stick pressure on the families of those killed. But rising concerns among families with young sons could pose a risk for President Vladimir Putin.

Russia's secrecy about the soldiers' deaths has an important precedent: During the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in the 1980s, the government released little information about those killed in the conflict. When the true numbers of casualties became known, the intervention turned unpopular.

Carnage left in the Donetsk region after last weekends fighting
No numbers on soldiers killed

More than 5,600 people have been killed since April in the fighting between Ukrainian troops and the rebels. It is unclear how many Russian soldiers have died in the conflict, as the Defence Ministry has rejected rights groups' requests on the number of soldiers killed on duty in 2014. But the rising casualty count among Russian soldiers specifically could prove decisive in Putin's thinking as he comes under pressure to prevent an expansion of the conflict that might put more Russians in the line of fire.

At least 1,500 Russian troops and military hardware entered Ukraine
over the weekend as fighting, which killed nine Ukrainian soldiers
and wounded dozens of others
"This is a conflict that reaches pretty deep into the psyche of the Russian people. It's not a foreign conflict. ... It's something very close to home," said Dmitri Trenin, an analyst at the Carnegie Endowment in Moscow. "This is something that's at the back of a lot of people's minds, and in particular, people with sons of draft age are worried.

"Military conquest, in my view, would not be supported by the Russian people, and I think everyone knows it," he added.

In October, Alexander was preparing to return to his hometown of Inta, a city of 30,000 people that skirts the Arctic Circle, when he and a dozen other recruits were told to report immediately to their base outside of Moscow.

"They told us: You have to go on a trip," he said as he wolfed down a full tray of food at the local McDonald's. "At first there wasn't any talk about a contract, but later they said that in order to go on the trip we would have to sign a contract, because we can't go as conscripts."

Toilet paper rolls with the face of Russian President Vladimir Putin printed on them
stand for sale at an outdoor kiosk on Feb. 21 in Kyiv. Both the Ukrainian and
western governments accuse Putin of actively supporting the current violence
in eastern Ukraine by allowing troops and heavy weapons to pass from Russia
across the border to pro-Russian separatists
'We had to go'

Russia requires almost all young men to serve in the army for one year at age 18, although many find ways to defer or avoid it. Those who want to have careers in the army can become professional soldiers by signing contracts for two or three years.

Alexander and his best friend in the unit both have pregnant girlfriends and had no intention of extending their army service. But they were told that they had already agreed to the trip, and that they couldn't back out.

"We wanted to refuse," he said. "But they refused our refusal, and we had to go."

Adelya Kamelatdinova's 19-year-old son was serving as a recruit in the army in July when he sent her a text message saying he was being sent to military exercises in Rostov. Then in August, he disappeared for weeks — only to resurface in September and tell her had been stationed in the Ukrainian region of Luhansk, in a village about 80 kilometres from the Russian border.

When she went to the local recruitment office to complain with another mother whose son had been hospitalized with a concussion, nobody listened: "They told us that our sons were participating in exercises and there aren't any soldiers in Ukraine; that it was a fantasy we thought up."

Kamelatdinova, who asked that her son's name not be used for fear of retribution, said he had not signed a contract but that he had been forced to sign a statement in which he agreed to cross the Ukrainian border. 

Daesh (IS) Burns 43 Iraqis Alive in Anbar

Baghdad: Daesh militants burned up to 43 people alive in Iraq’s western province of Anbar, a provincial security source said on Saturday.

Earlier, Daesh fighters captured the 43 Iraqis from the Albu Obeid Sunni tribe in the battlefield town of Al Baghdadi, some 200 km northwest of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, Xinhua news agency reported citing the source.

Those abducted were believed to be local police and government-backed Sahwa paramilitary group members, and were later transferred to the nearby militants-held town of Heet, the source added, adding that the terrorists put the victims in iron cages and set fire to them.

The executions came after the killing of some 70 others during the past 10 days when Daesh militants carried out major attacks in Al Baghdadi and the nearby air base of Ain Al Asad which houses hundreds of US Marines.

However, their attacks on the air base were repelled by security forces and US aircraft, while fighting continued in the town after Iraqi troops regained control of large parts of it.

Meanwhile, the militants laid siege to a neighbourhood in Al Baghdadi town housing dozens of families of security members and Sahwa fighters, said the source, who confirmed that the residents were facing acute shortage of food and drinking water, as well as weapons and ammunition.

Why are families still in this town? It has been surrounded for months by IS. Did people actually think this would end well?

Ain Al Asad military base is used by Iraqi military forces, as well as roughly 300 US Marines deployed there as military trainers and advisers.

Daesh has seized around 80 percent of Iraq’s largest province of Anbar and has tried to advance towards Baghdad, but several counter-attacks by security forces and Shia militias pushed them back from western areas of the capital.

Since December last year, there have been insurgent attacks in the Sunni Arab heartland west of Baghdad which stretches through the Anbar province.

Friday, February 20, 2015

RCMP Officer Guilty of Perjury at Inquiry into Death of Polish Immigrant

Const. Kwesi Millington
Const. Kwesi Millington, the RCMP officer who fired a Taser the night Robert Dziekanski died eight years ago at the Vancouver Int'l airport, British Columbia, Canada, has been found guilty of perjury and colluding with his fellow officers before testifying at the inquiry into the Polish immigrant's death. 

A B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled today that Millington "patently" lied at the Braidwood inquiry into the fatal confrontation at Vancouver International Airport in 2007.

Millington fired his Taser multiple times after he and three other officers were summoned over calls that Dziekanski, who spoke no English, had been throwing furniture in the international terminal.

Each of the officers was compelled to explain his actions at the inquiry and all four were later charged with perjury. Millington was accused of lying 10 times at the inquiry, including about whether he thought Dziekanski was standing or on the ground after the first shock from the Taser.

Judge William Ehrcke said it was "preposterous" that the Mountie claimed Dziekanski was standing while he was stunned a second time, when it's clear from bystander video that Dziekanski was already on the ground.

"The Crown has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Const. Millington gave oral evidence under oath which he knew at the time to be false, and he did so with the intention to mislead the inquiry," Ehrcke said Friday as Millington listened from the prisoner's dock.

Dziekanski's mother, Zofia Cisowski, sat quietly in the public gallery as the judge read the verdict.
Perjury charges were laid against Const. Gerry Rundel, Const. Bill Bentley,
Cpl. Monty Robinson and Const. Kwesi Millington, clockwise from top left
in connection with their testimony at the Braidwood inquiry
​Millington's verdict marks the first time a judge has concluded that one of the officers in the Dziekanksi affair lied. It's also the first time a judge has agreed with the prosecutors who argued that Millington and his fellow officers conspired to lie and exaggerate the threat Dziekanksi posed in order to justify their use of force.

One of the other officers charged with perjury, Const. Bill Bentley, was acquitted of perjury in 2013, but the Crown is appealing that verdict.

A witness connected to Bentley testified at Millington's trial and said officers met at her home. But the defence presented telephone records, credit card receipts and other evidence to portray her testimony as unreliable and motivated by acrimony.

However, Ehrcke concluded the officers must have spoken to each other before providing statements to homicide investigators.

"This the only rational inference available," he said.

Millington testified at his trial that he made mistakes in describing what happened, but insisted they were the product of a fast-moving and traumatic situation.

His lawyer argued the officer had no reason to lie, because the moment Dziekanski picked up a stapler, it became a weapon that justified the use of force.

Former corporal Benjamin (Monty) Robinson is awaiting a verdict and Const. Gerry Rundel's trial, which proceeded in another courtroom on Friday, is almost finished.

Millington has remained on duty with the RCMP, but has been sidelined from regular duties. His next court appearance will be on March 19.

Criminal Justice Branch spokesman Neil MacKenzie said the special prosecutor will decide whether to ask for jail time. He also said it's unclear what effect the Millington conviction will have on Bentley's appeal.

"I had always hoped … I could jump to the sky," said Cisowski after the verdict was handed down.

She said it was the first time she has been happy since her son died.

"I am pleased to hear the judge found him guilty of six of the 10 perjury charges. Even with six, I am not satisfied, but it's better than nothing."

She added she would like to see Millington end up in jail, because "they killed" her son, even though Millington was only found guilty of perjury.

"I am very concerned because they didn't find criminal charge for killing Robert," she said.

She now lives in Kamloops, B.C., where Dziekanski had planned to move after immigrating to Canada.