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Mon, 19 Feb 2018
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Afrin Kurds turn to Syrian Army to protect borders from Turkish offensive

© AFP 2018/ Delil Souleman
Amid reports of Turkey allegedly launching a gas attack in Syria, Kurdish YPG groups in Afrin are calling on the Syrian army to protect their borders from Turkish combat men, a YPG representative Nuri Mahmud told RIA Novosti.

Senior Kurdish official Badran Jia Kurd has reported that the Syrian Kurdish forces and government have agreed for the Syrian army to enter Afrin to help repel Turkish attacks.

The Turks-initiated military operation "Olive branch" has been underway against Kurds in Afrin, Syria's north-west since January. Turkey reported it had eliminated over 1.5 thousand militants, including both Kurdish fighters and Daesh militants (deemed a terrorist organization in Russia), according to Ankara.


UPDATE: A spokesman for the SDF has reportedly confirmed the deployment of Syrian troops to Afrin:
"The Syrian army will enter Afrin on Monday," said Sheikho bello, a leader of the Kurdish Democratic party, adding that "the aim of entering the city is to protect and defend it."


Iranian airliner crash leaves 65 people dead

Iranian plane
© Remy Gabalda / AFP
An Iranian plane with 65 people on board has crashed near the city of Semirom in the Isfahan Province of Iran. Iran's Aseman Airlines says all on board were killed.

The aircraft went off radar midflight from Tehran to Yasuj, some 20 minutes after take off, local media reported.

The plane disappeared from radar in a mountainous area. The search and rescue operation is hampered by bad weather, preventing helicopters from landing, Iran's Press TV reports.

Comment: There are some initial parallels with the Russian airliner crash a week ago:

71 dead in Moscow passenger plane crash - UPDATES

Domodedovo air traffic control lost contact with Saratov Airlines flight 703, bound for Orsk, several minutes after take off, an official from Russia's Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsiya) told local media. He said communication with the crew was cut and the plane vanished from radar screens.


WaPo finally admits 'Russian propaganda' was really US mainstream media material and was 'factual'

russian troll
© The Free Thought Project
The Washington Post went from claiming that Russian bots were using alternative media outlets to spread "fake news" to admitting that they were actually sharing mainstream media stories that favored Trump.

During the 2016 election, the narrative that interference from "the Russians" had an impact on Donald Trump's success was alive and well, and it was pushed heavily by the Washington Post. However, the Post is now claiming that the propaganda it accused Russian bots of spreading was actually American, and it was "factually accurate."

In a new story titled "Russia used mainstream media to manipulate American voters," the Post admitted that instead of creating and spreading "fake news," the accounts it claimed were controlled by Russians actually focused on sharing stories from American mainstream media outlets, and one of their most used sources just happened to be The Washington Post.


Black Magic

Ukrainian radicals storm Russian cultural center in Kiev and burn Russian flag

Ukrainian ultranationalists
© Valentyn Ogirenko / Reuters
Ukrainian ultranationalists burn the Russian state flag, which they took from the office of the Russian Center of Science and Culture, in Kiev, Ukraine on February 17, 2018.
Ukrainian right-wing extremists have burst into the building of the Russian international cultural agency in Kiev. The radicals burnt a Russian flag and wreaked havoc in the facility at a time when "children were there."

The intruders also vandalized an exhibition dedicated to the famous Russian opera singer, Feodor Chaliapin, Rossotrudnichestvo - the cultural agency in question - said in a statement. It also added that the incident happened when "more than 60 children" were present inside the building.

Several dozen ultranationalists stormed the gates of the facility and made their way into the building, a video posted by the radicals on Facebook shows. Members of the neo-Nazi C14 and Pravy Sector (the Right Sector) groups took part in the action, the radicals said.


Facebook advertising VP says Russian ads 'swaying the election' was not main goal

facebook window
© Tobias Schwarz / AFP
Even though Facebook has caved in to pressure from US lawmakers to crack down on 'Russian interference,' promising more safeguards against it, its vice president for advertising says Russians never tried to sway the 2016 election.

Thirteen Russian nationals and three entities have been indicted by a US federal grand jury for supposed meddling in the presidential election. The allegations include "supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump... and disparaging Hillary Clinton," including through Facebook. Now the Facebook vice president for advertising, Rob Goldman, says the accusers and their massive mainstream media supporters got it wrong.

"Most of the coverage of Russian meddling involves their attempt to effect the outcome of the 2016 US election. I have seen all of the Russian ads and I can say very definitively that swaying the election was *NOT* the main goal," Goldman tweeted.

Comment: The mental gymnastics people go through to hold on their "Russia bad" narrative never ceases to amaze. See also: Yet another Russiagate fail: Facebook finds no link between Russian ads, Trump campaign


Massachusetts woman shoots, kills man in road rage incident, brags about it on Facebook

Graciela Paulino
Graciela Paulino appears in court on February 16, 2018.
A 20-year-old woman who was cut off by another motorist in Lowell on Thursday allegedly took revenge by fatally shooting him. Then she bragged about it on Facebook, saying she had warned the victim and his co-worker, "Don't make me spank you," authorities said.

Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan said it appeared to be a "random encounter in traffic" and "possible road rage" that led to the shooting of Marc Devoe, 34, of Peabody.

Graciela Paulino of Lowell was arrested shortly before 11 p.m. Thursday and charged with murdering Devoe, Ryan said.

Paulino appeared Friday morning in Lowell District Court wearing a hooded sweatshirt and stood hunched over, trying to hide her face, during her arraignment. She was held without bail, and her case was continued to March 14.


How France became the front line of Salafists' expansionism

Muslims in France
Belief so far has prevailed that Terror, such as that expressed by those factions which ambition through bloodshed and plunder to create a system of governance they believe to be the expression of their Salafist faith, remains forever rooted within the Islamic world - thus putting the onus on Islam's many communities and territories.

While History indeed accounts to such truth - the pages of our books still echo of the many battles, invasions, and persecutions nations have faced before Arab hegemons, Terror, that we experience today, is also rooted in colonialism; the expression of a socio-political malaise fallen empires failed to address, so quick were they to dismiss their responsibility vis a vis those communities which now populate their national landscape.

If Terror's militants have chosen to exert their wrath on Europe's streets it is because Europe sits as a designated enemy, the old enslaver and conqueror, who now, dictates and shapes geopolitical realities from afar. If Europe no longer sees itself as a colonial force, the former colonies have yet to outgrow such stigma.


Switzerland deems it illegal to boil a lobster

© Robert F. Bukaty/AP
When it comes to cooking fresh lobster, the Swiss are now saying: We feel your pain.

A law goes into effect March 1 that bans the common cooking method of tossing a live lobster into a big pot of boiling water, quickly killing the tasty crustacean. That practice is being outlawed because the Swiss say it's cruel and lobsters can sense pain.

The first national legislation of its kind in the world calls for a more humane death for lobsters, by "rendering them unconscious" before plunging them into scalding water. Two methods are recommended: Electrocution or sedating the lobster by dipping it into salt water and then thrusting a knife into its brain.

The same law also gives domestic pets further protections, such as dogs can no longer be punished for barking.

Heart - Black

5 killed, including gunman, in church attack in southern Russia

© Konstantin Chalabov / Sputnik
Four people have been killed and several others injured in a gun attack on a crowd of churchgoers in Dagestan in southern Russia, local police confirmed. The shooter was killed by security forces.

The shooting happened in the city of Kizlyar, a provincial capital in the Republic of Dagestan. The gunman opened fire with a hunting rifle at a group of people leaving a church ceremony dedicated to the end of the Russian folk festival of Maslenitsa, which marks the start of Lent for Russian Orthodox Christians.

An eyewitness to the shooting, Oksana, told RT it happened right in front of a Christian church. The gunman targeted people as they were leaving, but luckily many of the churchgoers managed to take cover inside the building, giving more time for the security guards to respond to the attack.

Evil Rays

Church spires in UK to boost cell phone, Wi-Fi signals

Church spire in the UK
© AFP/Paul Ellis
The Church of England has agreed to allow church spires across Britain to be used to boost broadband, mobile phone and WiFi connectivity in rural areas
Church spires across Britain will be used to boost broadband, mobile phone and WiFi connectivity in rural areas, under a deal struck between the government and the Church of England, it was announced Sunday.

"This agreement with the Church of England will mean that even a 15th century building can help make Britain fit for the future," said Matt Hancock, the minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

The CoE has 16,000 church buildings and around 65 percent of its churches are located in rural communities, making them ideal hosts of key digital infrastructure.

There are currently more than 120 cases of broadband and mobile services being delivered from parish churches, from wireless transmitters fitted in spires and towers, to aerials, satellite dishes and fibre cables.