It has been one year since Islamic State began its conquest of a third of Iraq and its destruction of that country's ancient Christian civilization. While a massive international aid effort has helped most of the exiled Christians to subsist, it is time to look for a new strategy to help them fully live.
In a blitzkrieg of mass deportations, beheadings, women-slave auctions, and imprisonment of children, ISIS captured Mosul on June 10, 2014, and from there the rest of Nineveh province, Iraq's Christian heartland. Apart from some who were taken hostage or killed, most of Nineveh's 150,000 Christian residents left behind all their possessions and managed to flee the jihadists' "convert-or-die" policy. (Two new books chronicle these events in detail: Christian Persecutions in the Middle East, by George Marlin, and Defying ISIS, by Johnnie Moore.)
For the past year, these survivors have put their lives on hold in miserable conditions in church-run camps in Iraqi Kurdistan and nearby countries, while anxiously waiting for someone to liberate their hometowns. As the dust settles on Ramadi — where late last month an overwhelming Iraqi force made a disorderly retreat from ISIS — it is clear that that day may be years in coming. more >>
Bewildered in recent years by all the vitriolic hatred directed toward the U.S. from foreigners? Turns out it's not all real. The propaganda machine of the Kremlin during Russia's communist era, known as Pravda, has reinvented itself and is making a resurgence, this time through "Kremlin Trolls" who litter onine news sites and social media with Vladimir Putin's agenda. Yesterday, in a huge expose, The New York Times labeled it "the biggest trolling operation in history … a highly coordinated disinformation campaign, involving dozens of fake accounts that posted hundreds of tweets for hours, targeting a list of figures precisely chosen to generate maximum attention."
Going by the innocuous sounding "Internet Research Agency," the "Troll Factory" is located in an austere, probably Soviet-era gray cement building in St. Petersburg, a creepy throwback to the communist era. The shades on the windows are never opened. A video showing employees entering the building and sitting next to each other in the "Troll Den" was leaked and posted to YouTube.
Staffed by mostly young adults eager to make higher than average wages, the trolls work in 12-hour shifts, with quotas of 135 posts or so per shift. There are an estimated 400 employees. One department is completely devoted to posting on LiveJournal, which is popular in Russia; another one is dedicated to creating images and "demotivators," images that denigrate their subject matter. One department deals entirely with Ukrainian propaganda, other departments target The New York Times, the BBC and CNN. Even the conservative site The Blaze has been targeted in its comments section. Popular social media sites trolled include Instagram, Twitter and VKontakte, which is Russia's version of Facebook. more >>
Saleem al-Jubouri, the speaker of the Iraqi parliament and the country's highest-ranking Sunni politician, said in a speech on Monday at the Institute of Peace in Washington D.C. that defeating terror group ISIS will not be enough to end radicalization in the region. He said that a "new democracy" must be "built in the minds of people" in order to prevent new forms of oppression.
Jubouri pointed out that some who are fighting ISIS militants in Iraq are being heavily armed by foreign forces, and will still be in possession of such weapons if or when the terror group is driven out of the territory.
He said that "those who have weapons are in a much more powerful situation than others," referring to the various armed groups who have been pushing back against ISIS. more >>
Seventy-one years ago on June 6, 1944 the Allied armies waded ashore on the beaches of Normandy to liberate Nazi-occupied Europe in what was the greatest American invasion of all time. The night before, on June 5th, American airborne forces (82nd and 101st) had landed on the western flank of the invasion area near St. Mere Eglise while British airborne forces secured the eastern flank and Pegasus bridge. They jumped out of C-47 Dakota Skytrain transport planes through darkness and into glory. Some arrived by glider. Private John Steele of the 82nd airborne landed on the steeple of the church at St. Mere Eglise where he played "dead" and survived.
They came ashore the next morning on five different beaches. Brigadier General Ted Roosevelt jr. (the son of President Teddy Roosevelt) landed with his men on Utah facing relatively little German opposition. Having missed their designated landing area by about a mile, Roosevelt was asked whether his troops should re-embark. He replied, "We'll start the war from right here."
The Canadians stormed ashore on Juno beach and included James Doohan who would later find fame as "Scottie" on Star Trek. Sword and Gold were reserved for the British forces. A tiny contingent of French commandos joined the British on Sword and helped capture Ouistreham destroying the Casino. The worst Allied casualties took place on bloody Omaha partly due to an abbreviated naval bombardment of the German positions. more >>
A terror suspect shot dead in Boston on Tuesday was apparently planning on decapitating police officers and the activist behind the "draw Muhammad" contest in Texas, which was attacked by gunmen in May, reports have said.
Police reports on Wednesday revealed that 26-year-old Usaama Rahim had plotted an attack for at least a week, and had recently bought three fighting knives and a sharpener.
"I'm just going to go after them, those boys in blue. 'Cause it's the easiest target and the most common is the easiest for me," Rahim told alleged co-conspirator David Wright in a phone call Tuesday. more >>
President Barack Obama reluctantly signed into law the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. He was forced to accept, by overwhelming votes in both chambers, Congress's constitutional role in reviewing any nuclear deal with Iran and the lifting of any congressionally imposed sanctions.
Now the toughest work begins.
The U.S. and Israel both understand that the Iranians, despite their repeated denials, continue to pursue a nuclear weapons capability. We also both understand that Iran has a long and troubled track record of sharing military technology with terrorist organizations. more >>