Sunday, November 29, 2015

Video Report - France: Obama visits Bataclan to commemorate Paris attack victims

‘Oxygen for jihadists’: ISIS-smuggled oil flows through Turkey to intl markets – Iraqi MP

Terroist group Islamic State earns millions of dollars selling oil on the black market in Turkey, Iraqi MP and former national security adviser, Mowaffak al Rubaie told RT. He also revealed that wounded terrorists are being treated in Turkish hospitals. “In the last eight months ISIS has managed to sell ... $800 million dollars worth of oil on the black market of Turkey. This is Iraqi oil and Syrian oil, carried by trucks from Iraq, from Syria through the borders to Turkey and sold ...[at] less than 50 percent of the international oil price,” Mowaffak al Rubaie said in an interview with RT. “Now this either get consumed inside, the crude is refined on Turkish territory by the Turkish refineries, and sold in the Turkish market. Or it goes to Jihan and then in the pipelines from Jihan to the Mediterranean and sold to the international market.” “Money and dollars generated by selling Iraqi and Syrian oil on the Turkish black market is like the oxygen supply to ISIS and it’s operation,” he added. “Once you cut the oxygen then ISIS will suffocate.” The Iraqi MP said there is “no shadow of a doubt” that the Turkish government knows about the oil smuggling operations. “The merchants, the businessmen [are buying oil] in the black market in Turkey under the noses – under the auspices if you like – of the Turkish intelligence agency and the Turkish security apparatus,” he said. READ MORE: Turkey boosts arms supplies to Syria terrorists in exchange for oil & antiques – Damascus Citing Iraqi intelligence services, Mowaffak al Rubaie also accused Turkey of providing medical treatment to terrorists in hospitals along the border and at times even in “Istanbul itself.” “There are security officers who are sympathizing with ISIS in Turkey,” the Iraqi politician believes. “They are allowing them to go from Istanbul to the borders and infiltrate ... Syria and Iraq.” “There is no terrorist organization which can stand alone, without a neighboring country helping it – in this case Turkey,” Rubaie said, urging Ankara to come clean and join the international efforts to destroy the terror group. Russia considers ISIS oil smuggling operations to be one of the highest priority targets in crippling the terror group’s finances and capabilities. Moscow has long been requesting that Ankara properly addresses reports of its alleged involvement with ISIS oil smuggling. READ MORE: Ankara defends ISIS, Turkish officials have financial interest in oil trade with group - PM Medvedev President Putin himself noted that it was “hard to believe, but it is theoretically possible” that the Turkish leadership knows nothing about oil flowing into Turkey illegally. However he noted that the operations are too daring and obvious to ignore. “Vehicles, carrying oil, lined up in a chain going beyond the horizon,” said Putin, comparing the views seen by Russian pilots and drones to a “living oil pipe” stretched from ISIS and rebel controlled areas of Syria into Turkey. “Day and night they are going to Turkey. Trucks always go there loaded, and back from there – empty,” Putin said earlier this week.


At least 16 Yemeni civilians have been killed in the latest aerial attacks carried out by Saudi warplanes across Yemen.

According to Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah satellite television network, the Saudi raids on Sunday killed at least 12 women in an area in the southwestern province of Ta'izz while four other civilians died in the aerial attacks on the capital, Sana’a.
The Saudi regime’s warplanes also hit different areas in the Sirwah district of the central province of Ma’rib. Similar air raids pounded the Mustaba district of the southwestern province of Hajjah.
Meanwhile, the Yemeni army and its allied forces in retaliatory attacks purportedly fired dozens of shells at sites in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern regions of Asir and Jizan.
Reports also said the army forces targeted two military sites in Jizan, including the Malhama base, with a barrage of rockets, causing casualties.
In a separate development, a Yemeni expatriate was killed after a shell fired over the border from Yemen hit Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia’s official SPA news agency said on Sunday that the artillery fire struck the border province of Najran on Saturday evening. The report, however, did not release further details about the identity of the slain individual or the exact location of the incident.
Border shelling and skirmishes have taken more than 70 Saudi lives since Saudi Arabia launched its airstrikes against its impoverished neighbor on March 26. The Saudi military strikes have been meant to undermine Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement and bring fugitive former Yemeni president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, back to power.
More than 7,500 people have been killed and over 14,000 others injured since late March. The Saudi strikes have also taken a heavy toll on Yemen’s facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories.

#SueMeSaudi - Saudi Arabia’s threat to 'sue people who compare them to Isis', prompts huge reaction from Twitter

The hashtag #SueMeSaudi accompanies messages from Twitter users taunting the country's government to sue them.

Hundreds are inviting Saudi Arabia to sue them after the state reportedly threatened legal action against any Twitter user who compares its decision to execute a poet to punishments carried out by Isis.
A source in the country’s justice ministry told the newspaper Al-Riyadh, the department would "sue the person who described… the sentencing of a man to death for apostasy as being 'Isis-like'".
The announcement was prompted by someone on Twitter who compared the Kingdom’s decision to sentence 35-year-old Palestinian poet, Ashraf Fayadh, for apostasy, or renouncing one’s faith, to the punishments handed out by Isis, according to documents seen by Human Rights Watch.
"Questioning the fairness of the courts is to question the justice of the Kingdom and its judicial system based on Islamic law, which guarantees rights and ensures human dignity," the source told the pro-government newspaper.
They claimed the Kingdom’s courts would not hesitate to put on trial "any media that slandered the religious judiciary of the Kingdom".  
Saudi Arabia has not yet identified the alleged Twitter user.
The threat has not deterred people from defying the Saudi government, with many taking to the social media site to further liken the Arab country to Isis’s regime.
The hashtag #SueMeSaudi accompanies many messages taunting the government to sue them for supposed libel.
Mr Fayadh has denied the charges and claims another man made false accusations to the country’s religious police following a personal dispute, according to Human Rights Watch.
He has 30 days to file an appeal.
Isis has been accused of executing as many as 10,000 people, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. However, these figures are extremely difficult to verify.
The Kingdom has executed 152 people in 2015, the highest number on record since 1995, according to Amnesty International.

    Sanders: Saudi Arabia must do more on ISIS


    After walking on stage to "Rockin' In The Free World" by Neil Young Sunday night, Bernie Sanders laid into one of the world's most autocratic countries, United States ally Saudi Arabia.
    "This is a point that must be made. It is a contentious point," Sanders said at the New Hampshire Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson dinner Sunday. "Countries in the region, like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE — countries of enormous wealth and resources — have contributed far too little in the fight against ISIS."
    "Saudi Arabia has the third largest defense budget in the world. Yet, instead of fighting ISIS, they have focused more on a campaign to oust Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen," Sanders said.
    "That must change," Sanders said.
    "[Jordanian] King Abdullah when he says that the Muslim nations must lead the fight against ISIS, and that includes some of the most wealthy and powerful nations in the region, who, up to this point, have done far too little," Sanders said. "The fight against ISIS is a struggle for the soul of Islam, and countering violent extremism and destroying ISIS must be done primarily by Muslim nations."
    Though they would likely disagree, or deny that there were overlaps in their respective plans, Republican presidential contender Marco Rubio has also proposed a force led by Muslim nations against the Islamic State.
    Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said in an interview on "Meet the Press" today that he was skeptical how such a hypothetical force would work, at least in Iraq, while also stating his opposition to American ground troops.
    "You hear people talk about sending combat formations from Arab nations into Iraq to fight ISIS — that's just not going to happen," Gates said. "First they are not going to be willing to send their troops, but second, the Iraqis probably wouldn't allow them to come anyway."
    "We do not need a 'tough' foreign policy, we need a smart foreign policy," Sanders said of the United States' general posture toward to the Middle East.

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    Canadian Miss World contestant misguided by her values

    Canada's Miss World contestant Anastasia Lin was prevented in Hong Kong from boarding a flight to Sanya, Hainan Province, being told that she would not be granted a visa-on-arrival to the city where the beauty pageant finals are to be held. Lin planned to stay in Hong Kong for a few days and meet with some human rights activists before returning to Canada. Thus, she is unlikely to attend the finals on December 19. 

    The news has caught attention of the Western media. CNN reported it with the headline "Canada's Miss World contestant Anastasia Lin: China's barred me." She told reporters, "If they start to censor beauty pageants - how pathetic is that?"

    It's unclear whether she made the complaints because she is outspoken or sophisticated. When such a 25-year pretty girl grumbles that she is denied a visa for speaking the truth and criticizing the Chinese government, her words can easily gain sympathy from the Western public that already holds prejudices against China. 

    But the true story is different. Lin was reportedly born in China's Hunan Province in 1990 and moved to Canada when she was 13. She then became an actress and was cast in several films and TV plays invested by the cult Falun Gong. She also backed activists calling for independence of Xinjiang and Tibet, and in July testified at a US congressional hearing on religious persecution in China. Lin pursued a path different from most young performers by labeling herself as a human rights activist and being outspoken against China. 

    Maybe the whole episode can be seen from a different perspective since usually a girl in her 20s can't be too evil-minded. Probably because Lin moved to Canada at a young age, she lacks reasonable understanding of the country where she was born. She may not know that all performers should avoid being involved in radical political issues in the globalized times.

    There are always a few people in the entertainment circle that make a name by playing political tricks. But there are principles to be upheld in any social sphere. Lin has to pay a cost for being tangled with hostile forces against China. She must have learned that she couldn't play up to her circle in Canada through defaming China and then strive to reach the broad mainland market.   

    Recently some performers in Hong Kong and Taiwan who had similar behavior as Lin were asked to stay away from the mainland, which was a true voice of the society. Lin needs to learn to be responsible for her words and deeds, and for the possible consequences of the path chosen based on her own values.

    War with Isis: President Obama demands that Turkey close stretch of frontier with Syria

    The US is demanding that Turkey close a 60-mile stretch of its border with Syria which is the sole remaining crossing point for Isis militants, including some of those involved in the massacre in Paris and other terrorist plots. 
    The complete closure of the 550-mile-long border would be a serious blow to Isis, which has brought tens of thousands of Islamist volunteers across the frontier over the past three years. 
    In the wake of the Isis attacks in Paris, Washington is making clear to Ankara that it will no longer accept Turkish claims that it is unable to cordon off the remaining short section of the border still used by Isis. “The game has changed. Enough is enough. The border needs to be sealed,” a senior official in President Barack Obama’s administration toldThe Wall Street Journal, describing the tough message that Washington has sent to the Turkish government. “This is an international threat, and it’s coming out of Syria and it’s coming through Turkish territory.”
    The US estimates some 30,000 Turkish troops would be needed to close the border between Jarabulus on the Euphrates and the town of Kilis, further west in Turkey, according to the paper. US intelligence agencies say that the stretch of frontier most commonly used by Isis is between Jarabulus, where the official border crossing has been closed, and the town of Cobanbey.
    It has become of crucial importance ever since the Syrian Kurdish forces known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG) captured the border crossing at Tal Abyad, 60 miles north of Isis’s capital of Raqqa in June. Turkey had kept that border crossing open while Isis was in control on the southern side, but immediately closed it when the YPG seized the crossing point. The Turkish authorities are refusing to allow even the bodies of YPG fighters, who are Turkish citizens and were killed fighting Isis, to be taken back across the border into Turkey. 
    The US move follows increasing international criticism of Turkey for what is seen as its long-term tolerance of, and possible complicity with, Isis and other extreme jihadi groups such as al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra Front, and Ahrar al-Sham. Not only have thousands of foreign fighters passed through Turkey on their way to join Isis, but crude oil from oilfields seized by Isis in north-east Syria has been transported to Turkey for sale, providing much of revenue of the self-declared Islamic State.
    Last week a Turkish court jailed two prominent journalists for publishing pictures of a Turkish truck delivering ammunition to opposition fighters in Syria. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that the weapons were destined for Turkmen paramilitaries allied to Turkey fighting in Syria, but this was denied by Turkish political leaders close to the Turkmen. 
    Turkey is now under heavy pressure from the US and Russia, with President Vladimir Putin directly accusing Ankara of aiding Isis and al-Qaeda. In the wake of the shooting down of a Russian aircraft by a Turkish jet, Russia is launching heavy air strikes in support of the Syrian army’s advance to control the western end of the Syrian Turkish border. The pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a Russian air strike on the town of Ariha yesterday killed 18 people and wounded dozens more. Meanwhile Turkey said it had now received the body of the pilot killed when the plane was shot down and would repatriate it to Moscow.
    The US demand that Turkey finally close the border west of Jarabulus could, if Turkey complies, prove more damaging to Isis than increased air strikes by the US, France and, possibly Britain. The YPG has closed half the Syrian frontier over the last year and defeated an Isis assault aimed at taking another border crossing at Kobani. Syrian Kurdish leaders say they want to advance further west from their front line on the Euphrates and link up with a Kurdish enclave at Afrin. But Turkey insists that it will resist a further YPG advance with military force. Instead, it had proposed a protected zone on the southern side of the border from which Isis would be driven by moderate Syrian opposition fighters.
    The US has opposed this proposal, suspecting that the Turkish definition of moderates includes those the US is targeting as terrorists. It also appears to be a ploy to stop the YPG, heavily supported by US air power, expanding its de facto state along Turkey’s southern flank. US officials are quoted as saying that there could be “significant blowback” against Turkey by European states if it allows Isis militants to cross from Syria into Turkey and then carry out terrorist outrages in Europe.
    Meanwhile in Iraq, officials said three more mass graves had been found in the northern town of Sinjar, which Kurdish forces backed by US-led air strikes recaptured from Isis earlier this month.

    Obama kept his cool after the Paris attacks. Too bad his critics haven't

    Trevor Timm

    Judging by the range of irrational responses to the Paris attacks, you’d think we have learned absolutely nothing from the last 14 years of constant war and destruction in the Middle East. Worse, the president is one of the few people being somewhat rational about the whole situation – and he is receiving nothing but criticism for it.
    Fear is now the number-one commodity for politicians and federal agencies alike: the CIA and FBI are full CYA mode, scaring the American public by claiming the next attack is inevitable and blaming technology for their own failures. The State Department issued the vaguest possible “worldwide” travel alert possible on Monday, saying Americans should be on edge about the entire globe, with “terrorist groups continue[ing] to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions”.
    On the Republican side, Chris Christie is supposedly gaining ground in the Republican primary specifically by invoking 9/11 and the fear surrounding it. Donald Trump is stoking xenophobic rage, and his fellow Republican candidates are dutifully and embarrassingly following his lead. Americans are suddenly terrified of terrorists despite the fact that you have roughly the same chance of dying from a terrorist attack as you do being crushed to death by falling furniture.
    Cable television and pundits are doing their best to fuel the flames: questions to the president fromCNN’s Jim Acosta like, “why can’t we take out these bastards?” – as if there was some magic solution the White House has been sitting on but refuses to implement. Others seem to be pretending that we haven’t spent the last year dropping thousands of bombs per month on Isis (by the way, I’m still waiting for a journalist to ask whether more bombing only increases the chance of a terrorist attack, as it almost certainly does).
    Still others claim that if only Obama would call Isis “radical Islamic jihadists” rather than referring to them as simply “terrorists,” then we’d be on our way to victory. All the Republicans who continually rip Obama for not using that phrase seem to forget it was the George W Bush administration whobanned it from the government’s lexicon because it was clearly counterproductive and sparked Muslims to turn against the US.
    In the polls, the president is getting crushed. The Washington Post noted that “the public’s ratings of Obama on dealing with terrorism have fallen to a record-low 40 percent, with a smaller 35 percent approving of his handling of the Islamic State.”
    If Obama is taking a hit for his calm and rational rhetoric, then that’s a shame, because he’s actually the only one responding the way he should: by not elevating Isis to the status its members crave. “The most powerful tool we have to fight Isil is to say that we’re not afraid, to not elevate them, to not buy into their fantasy that they’re doing something important,” Obama said the other day. “They are a bunch of killers with good social media.”
    He was criticized for the remark, but he’s exactly right. We often elevate these terrorists as “masterminds” and present them as grand warriors who we must upend our lives and our values to go to all-out war to stop. Obama’s getting ripped for approaching this like a “law professor”, but after decades of approaching this emotionally and ending in disaster, maybe a little logic is in order.
    He has spent much of the past week defending refugees and hitting back at Republicans for talking “tough” while being afraid of Syrian orphans. For that, he is criticized as debasing the office of the presidency by “trolling” Republicans who are down in the polls. No, he is speaking to a large portion of the electorate who apparently have the same xenophobic feelings.
    I, for one, am glad President Obama seems to be the only one not spinning out of control and becoming unhinged because of a single horrific terrorist attack. Unfortunately, given the swell of emotion, is it only a matter of time before he succumbs too?

    Hillary Clinton to unveil major jobs and infrastructure spending proposal


    Hillary Clinton will unveil the largest plank of her economic agenda in the coming weeks, proposing hundreds of billions of dollars in spending, primarily on infrastructure projects, according to campaign aides.
    At a campaign event in Boston on Sunday, Clinton will preview her infrastructure proposal, and over the course of several weeks she plans to outline the remainder of her jobs plan, which calls for investments in manufacturing, clean energy and research funding.
    The proposals constitute the largest amount of spending that the campaign has outlined thus far — exceeding the $350 billion that Clinton has proposed for a college affordability plan — all aimed at creating what the campaign calls higher-paying, ­middle-class jobs.
    “Investing in infrastructure makes tremendous sense, both because it creates jobs that pay above median wages and because it improves overall productivity, which leads to higher incomes across the broader economy,” said Jake Sullivan, senior policy adviser for the Clinton campaign.
    Clinton has long signaled that she would propose policies that require significant government investment — a repudiation of positions held by Republican candidates who favor smaller government.
    The announcement also comes at a time when the former secretary of state still faces Democratic primary challenges from Sen. Bernie Sanders from Vermont and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, both of whom have campaigned on agendas that they say are more progressive.
    Some conservative economists have concerns that infrastructure spending is an inefficient means of job creation and economic stimulus, largely because of government wastefulness.
    “There’s cost overruns and all sorts of mismanagement with federal infrastructure spending,” said Chris Edwards, director of tax policy studies at the conservative Cato Institute. “There’s an issue with the quality of spending we’re getting from federal government.”
    Democrats broadly support significant increases in infrastructure spending funded by the government. Clinton is also signaling her intent to woo moderate general-election voters with proposals to pay for the spending in ways that have garnered bipartisan support in the past.
    The Clinton campaign is hoping to offer a clear choice to voters between a philosophy of cutting government and one that supports spending on public resources, said Austan Goolsbee, a former Obama administration economist who supports Clinton.
    “They’re trying to offer to the American voter, ‘Please choose option A over option B,’ which is the Republican, ‘Let’s just cut taxes; let’s use our money to shrink everything about the government,’ ” Goolsbee said.
    At the Sunday event, Clinton will discuss the infrastructure proposal and will be joined by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh (D) to launch a “Hard Hats for Hillary” coalition group consisting of unionized supporters in construction, building and transportation industries, campaign aides said.
    Clinton’s plan proposes the creation of an infrastructure bank to leverage hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign and domestic private investment for infrastructure projects, an idea that has been supported by the Obama administration, transportation experts and both conservative and liberal economists.
    The portion of the infrastructure and research investment plans that require federal spending would be paid for by closing corporate tax loopholes, including the “inversion” tactic that allows large corporations — most recently pharmaceutical giant Pfizer — to avoid U.S. taxes by moving their headquarters overseas.
    Sanders, meanwhile, has already called for more than $1 trillion in infrastructure spending, paid for by corporate tax increases and higher taxes for the wealthy.
    “Infrastructure investment is kind of a win-win for the economy,” said Princeton University economist Alan Krueger, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama. Krueger was consulted by the Clinton campaign on the economic plan. “In the short term, it puts more construction workers and manufacturing workers back to work. And those jobs tend to be relatively well-paid. They are particularly ­middle-class jobs.”


    President Barack Obama is hoping to marshal strong global action against climate change at a landmark conference in Paris that begins Monday and reassure the world that the U.S. can deliver on its commitments.

    Obama, due to arrive in the French capital late Sunday, and more than 150 world leaders are gathering for the opening days of a two-week conference where countries are trying to negotiate an agreement aimed at avoiding a destructive increase in global temperatures.

    Obama and French president Francois Hollande planned to attend the launch of a clean technology initiative by Bill Gates, according to a senior French official not authorized to publicly discuss details before the announcement and speaking on condition of anonymity. The United States, France, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Canada and Norway have committed to participate in the project to develop clean energies, the official said.

    Eager to leave a legacy of environmental protection, Obama scheduled meetings with the leaders of China and India to underscore how developing nations are embracing the effort to combat climate change. Also on the agenda are sessions with the leaders of a few island nations, to highlight "the existential challenge" they face from rising sea levels, in the words of the president's deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes.

    Obama, with just a year left in office, wants to lead the world by example on climate change. But he faces pushback at home.

    The U.S. is the world's second largest climate polluter, surpassed only by China, and Obama has pledged that the U.S. will cut its overall emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent by 2030.

    But his climate action plan has run into stiff opposition from Republicans who control Congress. They say his commitment to reduce emissions from U.S. power plants would cost thousands of American jobs and raise electricity costs for businesses and families.

    Half the states are suing to block the power plant rules, claiming Obama has abused his authority under the Clean Air Act. The president also faces congressional opposition to committing U.S. dollars to a U.N. Green Climate Fund designed to help poorer countries combat climate change.

    Adele Morris, a climate and energy expert at the Brookings Institution, said all the turmoil at home "makes it a challenge rhetorically, at least, for the U.S. to commit significantly to the targets that it's announced."

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    Russian Sanctions to ‘Hurt Turkey Badly’

    Russian economic sanctions imposed against Turkey would have a devastating effect on the Turkish economy, Ben Aris, editor-in-chief of the Business New Europe magazine, told Radio Sputnik.

    Turkey is one of Russia's leading trade partners and the economies of the two countries are intimately integrated.First of all, Turkey would suffer from the lack of Russian tourists, who bring in about $6.5-billion a year.Second of all, Turkish companies are heavily invested in Russia, particularly in the construction industry. In addition, trade, investment and employment will all be affected by sanctions.
     They [Russian sanctions] can hurt Turkey badly," Aris told Radio Sputnik.

    The Turkish government didn't expect that Russia would take the downing of its Su-24 plane so seriously and impose such harsh measures against Turkey, Aris added.

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan already said he doesn't want any further escalation, especially a military escalation, between Russia and Turkey, the political expert said.

    "I think he [Erdogan] was hoping to get Putin to the negotiating table and start talking about who's bombing who and who's protecting who, but actually these things have run out of control now," Aris told Sputnik.

    The move comes as Russia started to question Ankara's commitment to the fight against terrorism following the downing of a Russian Su-24 bomber on Tuesday by the Turkish Air Force over Syria.

    Russian travel agencies will have to stop selling tours to Turkey, according to the Kremlin. The directive is part of a decree that aims to boost Russia's national security.

    Earlier, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated that the incident would negatively affect all aspects of relations between Moscow and Ankara and recommended Russians to refrain from visiting Turkey. Cooperation in the tourism industry between Moscow and Ankara may be stopped, the Russian Federal Tourism Agency said.    

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    'No need to shoot': Israel reveals Russian warplane ‘crossed’ into its control zone from Syria

    A Russian warplane recently entered Israeli-controlled airspace from Syria, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon told local media. The brief intrusion was resolved quietly, with Yaalon noting “we must not automatically react and shoot them down when an error occurs."

    "There was a slight intrusion a mile (1.6 kilometers) deep by a Russian plane from Syria into our airspace, but it was immediately resolved and the Russian plane returned towards Syria," Yaalon told Army Radio.

    "It was apparently an error by the pilot who was flying near the Golan," he said without elaborating when the incident had occurred.
    Earlier, General Amos Gilad, Yaalon’s close aide, said such incidents occur occasionally. To prevent misunderstandings, Israel and Russia have arranged a “hotline", information sharing and joint air exercises.
    "Russian planes do not intend to attack us, which is why we must not automatically react and shoot them down when an error occurs," Yaalon also said.
    The Russian Defense Ministry has not yet commented on the statements.
    On Monday, a Turkish fighter jet shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber in a rebel-held area in Syria, not far from the Turkish border. The 45-year-old pilot, Lieutenant-Colonel Oleg Peshkov, was shot dead by Turkmen militia while parachuting to the ground.
    Turkey maintains the Russian bomber had breached their airspace and ignored numerous warnings.
    However, the surviving pilot, navigator Captain Konstantin Murakhtin, says at no point did Turkish aircraft attempt to contact them prior to the attack.
    Russia has called the incident “a stab in the back,” with President Putin ordering sanctions be imposed against Turkey.

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    Pashto Music - Sardar Ali Takkar - تورے زلفے ـ مولانا عبدالغفار بریالی

    Pashto Music - Rahim Shah

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    Sardar Ali Takkar - ریبار ـ قلندر مومند

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    Afghanistan: When the Birth of a Girl Brings Sorrow

    By Abdullah Mukhlis

    Mothers may face ridicule and mistreatment if they have daughters rather than sons.

    The birth of each of Shoghla’s five children plunged her into misery, because they were all girls.
    “While I was in labour with each daughter, the pain didn’t bother me. But afterwards I cried for a week without stopping. Every member of the family made sarcastic comments and bad-mouthed me,” said Shoghla, who lives in Gardez, the main town in Paktia, a province in southeastern Afghanistan. “My mother-in-law threatened me by saying, ‘You’re unable to have a boy, so I’m going to marry my son to a second wife.’ Their comments were more wounding than bullets. My mother-in-law used to tell me with that God knew my true nature and so had cursed me.”
    Afghan society has long valued the birth of sons over daughters. Although attitudes are changing in cities and amongst those with more education, conservative traditions persist. Boys are seen as a guarantors of the family’s economic security and especially among Pashtuns, who make up the majority in Paktia, as future defenders of its honour and rights in the traditional code of code.
    This means that the birth of a son is greeted with celebration.
    “When a boy is born, his family throws a party, fires guns into the air, and slaughters chickens and sheep in honour of the mother,” said Zarmina Shams, head of the women’s rights section of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) for the southeast of the country. “But when a girl is born, her mother is spoken to sarcastically or even beaten upm and a second wife might be taken.”
    Shams said serious cases of abuse had been reported to her organisation. Sometimes women were badly injured or even killed. She added that the AIHRC was trying to change attitudes through outreach work with the media and Muslim scholars.
    Describing her own treatment, local woman Shaperei said the birth of her daughter had been seen as a sorrowful occasion.
     “When a girl is born, the mother is not provided with the same food given to mothers when a male child is born,” she said.
    “When they first informed me of the birth of a daughter, not only I but my mother-in-law and sister-in-law also started crying,” she continued, adding, “My brother’s wife ridiculed me and said, ‘If you were a good woman, you would have given birth to a boy’. Everyone was cruel to me and my husband told me, ‘I will take a second wife, because you haven’t given birth to a boy.’”
    Zarghun Roshan, a doctor at the Khaliqyar gynaecology and obstetrics clinic, said family members often urged medical staff to ensure a son was born.
    “The woman’s brother, husband, brother-in-law and other family members tell us that if the child is a boy they will give us a bonus,” he said. “Once a patient was brought into our hospital and her husband told me that if the child was a boy, he would give me his car. But I told him that these matters are in all in the hands of God, and we could do nothing to help.”
    Dr Roshan added that medicine had no way of influencing the sex of a foetus.
    Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai, a sonographer in Gardez, sees at least 50 patients a day and described similar situations.
    “Most times, when the baby is a girl, I cannot tell the parents. Sometimes they even get angry at me,” he said. “However, when the baby is a boy, they are not only delighted, they give me a [cash] gift.”
    Ahmadzai said people simply did not understand how sex was decided.
    “People’s level of awareness is very low and they think that the mother plays a role in deciding whether the child is a boy or a girl. However, according to medical science, it’s decided by the father’s sperm. People should be taught that mothers cannot choose whether to have a boy or a girl,” he said.
    Outside the hospital, Shiringul, a resident of Paktia’s Zurmat district, waited despondently.
    “My sixth niece has just been born, and my brother… doesn’t have even a single son,” she said. “God blesses boys. They can work and they’re important for ‘trabgani’ [code of conduct within extended  family] whereas a woman is just a dependent. Her father will have trouble from her for the whole of his life. Now I’m going to have to get a second wife for my brother who will give him sons.”
    Ismail Larrawai, a Paktia University lecturer and civil society activist, agreed that Pashtuns believed boys fulfilled a more important social role.
    “People are poor so they need to be able to earn money. And in this society, only men can do this. And the biggest problem is that when someone passes away without a son, the issue of ‘miras’ [inheritance] arises,” he said. A wife is not entitled to miras, as she herself is counted as part of the inheritance according to Pashtun custom, and daughters are unlikely to be given a share.
    Larrawai puts this down to lack of education.
    “Until people rid themselves of this ignorance, they will continue to see the birth of a girl as something bad and shameful,” he said.
    Islamic scholars say these customs have nothing to do with the rules of the faith.
    "I always say that such behaviour is a relic of the era of [pre-Islamic] ignorance; it amounts to interference in the affairs of God," Maulavi Mohammad Shah, the director of Paktia’s department of Hajj and religious affairs,  "If someone is sad about the birth of a girl or threatens the child’s mother, it is a grave sin,” he said.
    Changing attitudes will take time. Wiping her tears with a corner of her headscarf, Paktia resident Najiba said she had already suffered a double trauma.  
    “When my son was born, we were all so happy. The family took good care of me, but then due to bad luck, my son got sick and died,” she told IWPR. “My next child was a girl, and after that, my husband prepared to marry again. No one considered my sorrow.”
    This report was produced under IWPR’s Promoting Human Rights and Good Governance in Afghanistan initiative, funded by the European Union Delegation to Afghanistan.

    Suspected polio outbreak in Afghanistan

    Seventy-five suspected cases of polio have been reported in southern Helmand province where insecurity recently deprived about 10,000 children from polio drops, an official said on Sunday.
    Provincial Public Health Department official Dr. Abdul Ahad Hazim told Pajhwok Afghan News the 10,000 children could not be administrated polio vaccines in central and northern districts of the province due to insecurity.
    The northern and central districts include Marja, Nad Ali, Nawa, Greshk, Musa Qala, Sangin, Kajaki, Baghran, Nawzad and Washer.
    Hazim said previously children in all districts would receive polio drops, but this time children in all areas could not be reached out with vaccines owing to clashes between security forces and militants.
    He said rigorous efforts were underway to administer polio drops to all children in future campaigns.
    A nationwide polio vaccination campaign is due to be launched next month.
    World Health Organization (WHO) regional head in Helmand Tehsil Khan told Pajhwok Afghan News thousands of children could not be given polio vaccines due to insecurity in Helmand.
    However, he said they were jointly working with Public Health Department officials to resolve the issue. He said their surveys showed 75 suspected cases of polio had been seen in the province.
    “We have started medical examination of the children to determine they have polio or another disease,” he said.
    He said the suspected cases had been reported from areas where clashes continued. To detect suspected cases, he said, tribal elders, religious scholars, teachers and students were assisting them.
    Helmand public health director Dr. Inayatullah Ghaffari told Pajhwok Afghan News the polio virus could not be eliminated from the country.
    “We are concerned the virus has not been eliminated from the country. We are trying to combat the disease by effectively implementing our programmes.”
    The public health director said 5,000 volunteers worked with his department in carrying out vaccination campaigns.
    The official said 16 positive cases of polio were found across the country last year when one positive case was detected in Helmand.