“We are assessing the results of the operation and will provide additional information as and when appropriate.”
– Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby
No further details about the operation in the African country were immediately available.
Al Shabaab is an Islamist group affiliated with al Qaeda that wants to impose its own strict version of Islam in Somalia. It ruled most of the southern region of Somalia from 2006 until 2011, when African peacekeeping troops marched into the capital, Mogadishu.
African and Somali forces have regained several towns this year, but rebels still hold other centers and tracts of countryside. Read the rest of this entry »
Frances Martel reports: The jihadist terror group Islamic State (IS), formerly known as ISIS, has become a particularly dangerous threat to the West through its guerrilla-style war tactics and decentralized organization, making targeting leaders more difficult for Western militaries.
“The ban on beheading videos appears to be a response to an increase in Islamic State beheading footage circulating on the Internet since the execution of James Wright Foley.”
ISIS leaders are now cracking down on social media, however, according to reports that leaders are calling for a ban on uploading beheading footage to the Internet.
“A complete switch from videos of children singing the Islamic State’s official song to videos of violent beheadings threatens to scare away Westerners who may have a soft spot for the concept of jihad; thus, the crackdown on beheading videos.”
A report first appearing in the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir, and later in Israel’s i24 News and Iran’s Ahlul Bayt News Agency, claims that Islamic State leaders are calling for jihadi commanders to order their underlings to stop uploading beheading videos online “without explicit permission.” Reports from i24 state that it is believed that these leaders are cracking down on the graphic footage because of fear that a deluge of violent social media coverage will damage the jihadist organization’s reputation. Read the rest of this entry »
WSJ’s Jeffrey Ng reports: Beijing’s plans to allow Hong Kong people to elect their next leader—albeit only from among prescreened candidates and effectively denying an open vote—will need approval of two-thirds of the city’s 70-member strong legislature.
What happens if the reform package gets voted down?
By constituting a bloc of more than a third, the city’s 27 pro-democratic legislators hold the veto on any such plans. On Monday, these legislators voiced their disapproval by interrupting a speech by a senior Chinese official, chanting slogans while holding up banners condemning China’s decision as “shameful,” before storming out of a briefing session on political reform. Read the rest of this entry »
Clashes Continue Between Antigovernment Crowds and Police
ISLAMABAD—Antigovernment protesters on Monday briefly occupied the headquarters of the country’s state television, causing its broadcast to go blank, in a further escalation of the political crisis that is threatening to bring down the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
“The government claims that we are only 5,000 people. So we decided to show them what ‘5,000’ people can do, we chased the police from here.”
– Amir Shahzad, one of the protesters
Armed soldiers and paramilitary Rangers forces arrived at the scene by noon local time, prompting the protesters leave the building. The soldiers surrounded the compound. Read the rest of this entry »
“The police started using pepper spray on us without any warning. We are here to protest in a peaceful manner.”
– Kit, a social worker and activist
HONG KONG—Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong Monday said police used pepper spray against demonstrators outside a news conference given by a top Chinese official on Beijing‘s decision on how the city should elect its leader.
“Since the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and the sovereignty, security and development interests of the country are at stake, there is a need to proceed in a prudent and steady manner.”
– From Beijing’s ruling Sunday
Li Fei, deputy secretary-general of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp parliament, gave a briefing at the AsiaWorld-Expo, near Hong Kong’s airport, to explain the decision to chaotic scenes of protests both inside and outside the venue.
Outside, a 21-year-old social worker identifying himself only as Kit said he and four others in his group of activist were pepper-sprayed by police. Read the rest of this entry »
95 Percent of BBC Viewers Think Multiculturalism Has Failed
A whopping 95 percent of respondents to a BBC straw poll have said that they think multiculturalism in Britain is a failure. The poll was taken yesterday morning during the BBC’s Saturday Morning Live show, and asked “Is multiculturalism working?” Just 5 percent said “Yes”; 95 percent said “No”.
“fortunately the actually scientific polling suggests that’s quite a pessimistic answer.”
Breitbart London’s James Delingpole was a guest on the show. During the discussion of the results, he said: “I think the thwacking great majority in that poll says it all. The multicultural experiment in Britain has failed totally and people have finally realised how much it has failed. Rotherham was just one example; we’re seeing cases all around the country. It has been a disaster. I think that this is going to be the turning point.”
Also on the show was the left-wing journalist Owen Jones, who extolled the virtues of interracial sex and claimed: “fortunately the actually scientific polling suggests that’s quite a pessimistic answer. Yes there are always tensions which we need to work on. We need to bring our communities together. But Britain has one of the highest levels of interracial relationships in the whole world.”
“We need to break down segregation like faith schools. We concentrate poor people in particular areas because of the lack of social housing, and that disproportionately affects people from black and minority ethnic communities.” Read the rest of this entry »
A Sea of Phones Illuminating Tamar Park, Connecting the Executive and Legislative Hearts of Hong KongPosted: August 31, 2014
A sea of phones illuminating Tamar Park, connecting the executive and legislative hearts of Hong Kong. pic.twitter.com/ZTMqM39U5t
— Alan Wong (@byAlanWong) August 31, 2014
— GlobalPost (@GlobalPost) August 31, 2014
— Jessica Chasmar (@JessicaChasmar) August 31, 2014
Susan Rice is preparing talking points that Islamists took over US embassy in response to Rams cutting Michael Sam. pic.twitter.com/QmC7Ygao0M
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) August 31, 2014
Japan’s Defense Ministry Asks for Record Budget Increase in Response to China’s Heightened Military AggressionPosted: August 31, 2014
TOKYO—Took Sekiguchi reports: Japan’s Defense Ministry has requested a budget of ¥4.899 trillion ($47.1 billion) for the coming fiscal year starting April 1, a 2.4% increase over the amount for the current year. If granted, it would be the third year in a row Japan has expanded its military spending following a decade of cuts.
“We have an immediate neighbor whose military expenditures are at least twice as large as Japan’s and second only to the U.S. defense budget.”
– Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
The figure, requested by ministry Friday, doesn’t include spending related to U.S. bases in Japan, or for the purchase of a new government airplane for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. If these items are included, the total budget request would be ¥5.054 trillion, the largest ever for the ministry. It would also come as Mr. Abe continues his program to beef up the country’s defense capabilities.
“So call me a right-wing militarist if you want..”
Citing the continuing need for ocean surveillance amid tensions with China over disputed islands in the East China Sea, the ministry is requesting 20 patrol planes and five patrol helicopters. It is also looking into acquiring an early-warning radar system and aerial drones. Read the rest of this entry »
BEIJING (AP) — China warned against foreign meddling in Hong Kong’s politics Saturday ahead of an expected announcement to recommend highly contentious restrictions on the first direct elections for the leader of the Chinese-controlled financial hub.
- Hong Kong’s Occupy Central ‘Referendum’ Explained
- China threatens to remove Hong Kong’s autonomy
- Beijing Gets Ugly in Hong Kong
“Not only are they undermining Hong Kong’s stability and development, but they’re also attempting to turn Hong Kong into a bridgehead for subverting and infiltrating the Chinese mainland,” said the article.
[Also see - Hong Kong Tensions Rise as Beijing Critic's Home Raided - WSJ]
Two girls arrested last week were part of network of young Islamists monitored by authorities
Two teenage French girls, arrested last week in a crackdown on citizens who consider traveling to other countries to join “jihad,” were planning to attack a synagogue in Lyon with a suicide bomb, French media revealed Friday.
“These girls were part of a network of young Islamists who were being monitored by security services.”
The two, 15 and 17 years old, were detained and interrogated last week in Venissieux, a suburb of Lyon in southeastern France, and Tarbes, a town in the south, after French authorities uncovered a plan to bomb the Great Synagogue of Lyon. They were charged for conspiracy to commit terrorism.
Two had never met but communicated via social media, the investigation revealed. Read the rest of this entry »
Hint: this isn’t from the White House. Britain raised the terror threat level from substantial to severe, meaning that a terrorist attack is considered highly likely. The UK’s Prime Minister also said officials are trying to stop UK suspects from traveling by seizing their passports
Buried in a Dell computer captured in Syria are lessons for making bubonic plague bombs and missives on using weapons of mass destruction
Harald Doornbos and Jenan Moussa reporting, for Foreign Policy, ANTAKYA, Turkey — Abu Ali, a commander of a moderate Syrian rebel group in northern Syria, proudly shows a black laptop partly covered in dust. “We took it this year from an ISIS hideout,” he says.
“The ISIS laptop contains more than the typical propaganda and instruction manuals used by jihadists. The documents also suggest that the laptop’s owner was teaching himself about the use of biological weaponry.”
Abu Ali says the fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), which have since rebranded themselves as the Islamic State, all fled before he and his men attacked the building. The attack occurred in January in a village in the Syrian province of Idlib, close to the border with Turkey, as part of a larger anti-ISIS offensive occurring at the time. “We found the laptop and the power cord in a room,” he continued, “I took it with me. But I have no clue if it still works or if it contains anything interesting.”
As we switched on the Dell laptop, it indeed still worked. Nor was it password-protected. But then came a huge disappointment: After we clicked on “My Computer,” all the drives appeared empty.
Appearances, however, can be deceiving. Upon closer inspection, the ISIS laptop wasn’t empty at all: Buried in the “hidden files” section of the computer were 146 gigabytes of material, containing a total of 35,347 files in 2,367 folders. Abu Ali allowed us to copy all these files — which included documents in French, English, and Arabic — onto an external hard drive.
The laptop’s contents turn out to be a treasure trove of documents that provide ideological justifications for jihadi organizations — and practical training on how to carry out the Islamic State’s deadly campaigns. They include videos of Osama bin Laden, manuals on how to make bombs, instructions for stealing cars, and lessons on how to use disguises in order to avoid getting arrested while traveling from one jihadi hot spot to another.
“I asked our government minders if they’d be willing to show us what life is really like for regular people in North Korea.”
Pyongyang (CNN) – Will Ripley: It is exceedingly rare for Western journalists to be allowed inside the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) — commonly known as North Korea. It is even less common for an American reporter to visit this reclusive nation, home to nearly 25 million people who are essentially isolated from the rest of the world.
“They said they’d ask their superiors and get back to us.”
Yet here I am, an American member of a CNN crew, reporting from Pyongyang about the latest high profile sporting event to sweep this city since a bizarre basketball tournament earlier this year.
Even though decades of isolation and crippling sanctions have left North Korea struggling economically and lagging far behind much of the developed world in terms of technology and infrastructure — the nation is nearly unrivaled in its ability to mobilize tens of thousands of citizens to put on a spectacular show.
You probably remember when American NBA star Dennis Rodman organized a basketball tournament in Pyongyang.
- He’s Back! Dennis Rodman Returns Humble and Refreshed After Visit to North Korea (punditfromanotherplanet.com)
- [VIDEO] A Special Bond: Rodman: Kim Jong Un ‘My F***ing Friend, I Love Him’
- Don’t miss this Pundit Planet Exclusive: Dennis Rodman and Marylin Monroe sing Happy Birthday to Kim Jong-Un]
Rodman was widely criticized in the United States for befriending the DPRK’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, whose authoritarian regime has been accused by a United Nations panel of widespread human rights abuses, charges that North Korea strongly denies.
Outside press were not invited to cover Rodman’s trip. This time, CNN is among a handful of news organizations granted rare access to Pyongyang to cover the International Pro Wrestling Festival.
Don’t miss this Pundit Planet Exclusive: Mashup: Dennis Rodman and Marylin Monroe sing Happy Birthday to Kim Jong-Un]
Retired Japanese wrestling star turned politician Kanji “Antonio” Inoki is organizing the event. In his professional heyday, Inoki fought in a memorable and bizarre 1976 match in Tokyo with boxing great Muhammad Ali. Today, as an aging member of the Japanese parliament, he is once again in the headlines for his latest attempt at what he calls “sports diplomacy” between Japan and North Korea. Read the rest of this entry »
Michael Barone reports: I have never eaten at a McDonald’s in France. But evidently a lot of French men and women do. Business Insider reports that France is McDonald’s most profitable country after the United States. So much for all the French cuisine snobs who lament the presence of McDonald’s in la belle France…(read more)
The Islamic State runs a self-sustaining economy across territory it controls in Syria and Iraq, pirating oil while exacting tribute from a population of at least eight million, Arab and Western officials said, making it one of the world’s richest terror groups and an unprecedented threat.
“Can you prevent ISIS from taking assets? Not really, because they’re sitting on a lot of assets already.”
That illicit economy presents a new picture of Islamic State’s financial underpinnings. The group was once thought to depend on funding from Arab Gulf donors and donations from the broader Muslim world. Now, Islamic State—the former branch of al Qaeda that has swallowed parts of Iraq and Syria—is a largely self-financed organization.
Money from outside donors “pales in comparison to their self-funding through criminal and terrorist activities,” a U.S. State Department official said, adding that those activities generate millions of dollars a month.
“So you must disrupt the network of trade. But if you disrupt trade in commodities like food, for example, then you risk starving thousands of civilians.”
For Western and Arab nations that are striving to stop Islamic State, the group’s local funding sources pose a conundrum: A clampdown on economic activity that helps fund the group, counterterrorism officials and experts said, could cause a humanitarian crisis in the already stressed areas it controls. Read the rest of this entry »
Grits with that Scone? If Britain were a U.S. State, it Would be the Second-Poorest, Behind Alabama and before MississippiPosted: August 27, 2014
The ranking, determined by Fraser Nelson, an editor of The Spectator magazine, was made by dividing the gross domestic product of each state by its population, and it took into account purchasing power parity for cost of living. Several other European countries were also included in the ranking.
“No one beats up America better than Americans.”
Ranking by GDP per capita instead of just GDP means that states with mega-economies such as California, which has the top GDP in the United States (its GDP is also larger than most countries’), was knocked down to 14th place among the states when divided by its more than 38 million residents. Alaska comes in first, with a GDP of more than $59 billion divided by a population of 735,000. Read the rest of this entry »