Last Updated: 30 Nov 2020 10:09 AM

India Top Stories








  • The cash race

    WASHINGTON—In the most crowded Democratic presidential primary in decades, candidates need money and lots of it. As multiple contenders try to dip into the well of traditional political donations, others are relying on newer approaches or their own wallets.

    Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a self-described democratic socialist, is fueling his campaign with a swarm of small donations. He declined taking money from corporate political action committees (PACs), fossil fuel companies, and private, big-dollar fundraisers.

    “The fact is that the candidates who are most morally indignant about this are the ones who don’t need [the extra cash],” said Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

    Sanders’ approach this time around builds on what he did in the 2016 presidential campaign. In 2019, he raised more than $60 million—over half of his total haul—from donations under $200. He brought in a total of $96 million, more than any other Democratic presidential candidate. President Donald Trump’s campaign brought in $143 million.

    Donors gave more than $1 billion in small donations to Democratic candidates and groups in 2019, aided in part by the online platform ActBlue. In 2018, it funneled more than $1.5 billion to Democratic campaigns and groups. ActBlue reported that last year about 6 million people used it to contribute to various campaigns and organizations. Half of them were first-time users.

    Initially, the Democratic National Committee took steps to incentivize the small-donor approach. In setting qualifications for debates, it specified that campaigns must demonstrate broad support by meeting a minimum number of donors as opposed to a minimum dollar amount. The DNC recently changed the rules, allowing self-funded candidates to make it onto the debate stage.

    Two billionaires are seeking the Democratic presidential nomination by spending gobs of their own money on the race, most of it on advertising to gain name recognition. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the richest person ever to run for president, refuses to accept donations to his campaign. His most recent Federal Election Commission filing showed a grand total of $0.00 in “total individual contributions.” Businessman Tom Steyer is accepting individual contributions to his campaign but he’s not taking PAC money. In the fourth quarter of 2019, Bloomberg raised more than $200 million, 99.9 percent of it from his own pocket. He has about $55 million cash on hand. Steyer, meanwhile, raised $156 million and has almost $2 million in cash available.

    Darrell West, the vice president of the governance studies program at the Brookings Institution, said moderate Democratic candidates are struggling with fundraising this campaign season. Former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg are leaning on private fundraising dinners and PAC support. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts initially swore off PAC money but has since backtracked as she struggled to compete with Sanders to earn votes, and dollars, from the liberal wing of the party.

    “It’s hard to raise money when there are several other candidates that are occupying the same political real estate as you are,” West said. “The moderates are dividing up their part of the political spectrum, while Sanders is dominating the progressive niche.”

    West said Sanders’ strong stances give him the advantage of intense supporters. And people who give their donations $25 at a time are more likely to donate again and help sustain a campaign for the long term.

    “If Sanders is able to get the nomination by relying on small donors, that becomes a … model for others in future years,” West said. “Candidates will understand that if they have intense support, the ability to fund an entire race through small donors is viable.”

    Associated Press Fidel Castro (right) with his brother Raul in 1964

    Bad role model

    Controversy on the campaign trail is making its way to Capitol Hill. House Republicans want to censure Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., for praising the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro’s literacy program.

    In an interview Sunday night on CBS News’ 60 Minutes, the self-described democratic-socialist defended some aspects of Castro’s authoritarian socialist regime.

    “We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba, but you know, it’s unfair to simply say everything is bad,” Sanders said. “When Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing? Even though Fidel Castro did it?”

    At a news conference on Wednesday, Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart, R-Fla., announced plans for a resolution condemning Sanders’ “blatantly false, irresponsible … highly ignorant and hurtful comments.” Díaz-Balart said Sanders ignored the reality of Castro’s human rights abuses and the painful experiences of many Cuban immigrants. Republicans will offer the resolution as an amendment. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Democrats then will have a choice to prove whether they “stand with Bernie or do they stand for freedom?”

    Many Democrats condemned Sanders’ remarks, as well. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell of Florida tweeted that as “the first South American immigrant member of Congress who proudly represents thousands of Cuban Americans, I find … [Sanders’] comments on Castro’s Cuba absolutely unacceptable.”

    Sanders doubled down on his statement at the Democratic debate on Tuesday, saying that when “dictatorships, whether it’s the Chinese or the Cubans, do something good, you acknowledge that. But you don’t have to trade love letters with them.” —H.P.

    Associated Press/Photo by Evan Vucci President Donald Trump

    Trump sues The Times

    President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign filed a suit against The New York Times on Wednesday for libel. The campaign claims an opinion piece published by the paper falsely accused the president of a “quid pro quo” with Russia.

    In the March 2019 essay titled “The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo,” former Times executive editor Max Frankel called communications between Trump allies and Russian officials in the lead-up to the election “the quid of help in the campaign against Hillary Clinton for the quo of a new pro-Russian foreign policy.” He said an “overarching deal” took place rather than “detailed electoral collusion.”

    Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said the Trump campaign “has turned to the courts to try to punish an opinion writer for having an opinion they find unacceptable.”

    The lawsuit is the first time the Trump campaign has sued an American newspaper. —H.P.

    2020 update

    Democratic presidential contenders are bracing for Saturday’s South Carolina primary, the last contest before next week’s pivotal Super Tuesday—the day voters in more than a dozen states head to the polls.

    Candidates seeking to boost their credibility with South Carolina voters are touting their most recent endorsements. Former Vice President Joe Biden secured the support of U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, an influential voice among the state’s African American voters. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont picked up the endorsement of author and former candidate Marianne Williamson on Sunday. Williamson dropped out of the race last month.

    A Clemson University poll released Wednesday showed Biden had an 18 point lead over his rivals with 35 percent of voters’ support. Businessman Tom Steyer, who has spent loads of money in South Carolina, came in second with 17 percent. Sanders trailed in third with 13 percent. The state has 63 delegates to award. —H.P.

    What Democratic candidates’ campaign donations say about them
    Article Title: 
    The cash race
    Digital Branding: 
    Hide from Archive?: 

  • Quotables

    The Editors

    “They put us in a petri dish to get infected.”

    Dr. Arnold Hopland, a passenger on the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined for two weeks. The number of passengers and crew who caught the coronavirus on the ship has surpassed 700, about 1 in 5 people aboard, making the ship the largest known outbreak site outside of China.

    “That’s all that was left in the garage. I’ll just manage.”

    Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin on finding only two hockey sticks at his mother’s house in Toronto. Seguin had dropped by before a game against the Maple Leafs, concerned about the availability of the Chinese-manufactured sticks he uses. Two major manufacturers, Bauer and CCM, have factories in China that have closed because of the coronavirus. Warrior, the other major supplier of custom sticks for top hockey players, has not been affected because its production is based in Tijuana, Mexico. 

    “I’m hoping for track just to become fair again.”

    High-school track star Alanna Smith, 16, on her and two other girls’ lawsuit against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference. The lawsuit is challenging the conference for its unrestricted policy of allowing boys who identify as girls to compete in girls’ sports. 

    “Thanks to them, I’m hoping to be back with my orchestra very soon.”

    Violinist Dagmar Turner, 53, who played her instrument during brain surgery to remove a tumor, a technique surgeons used to keep from damaging her ability to move her hands. 

    “He was like a little brother. ... As I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be.”

    Michael Jordan on his friendship with Kobe Bryant. Jordan spoke at a memorial service for Bryant in Los Angeles. 


  • Quick Takes

    Quick Takes
    The Editors

    Getting a handle on horns

    Many drivers in Mumbai, India, reportedly honk their car horns incessantly. Police hope to put a stop to the resulting noise pollution by using stoplights. Officials with the Mumbai police conducted tests in November and December of a system that would prevent red traffic lights from turning green if noise levels reached 85 decibels or higher. City officials say local drivers honk their horns even at red lights. During the test, the traffic light’s countdown timer reset if the noise got too loud and a display posted the message “honk more, wait more.” A police spokesman said the 2019 tests went well and the police plan to try the system at 10 more locations in March. According to the TomTom Traffic Index, Mumbai was the world’s fourth-most-congested city in 2019.


    Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

    River walk

    Minneapolis firefighters were called to drag a lost man out of the Mississippi River on Feb. 8. According to emergency responders, the man was trying to walk home in the early morning hours when he began following Google Maps walking directions. At some point, the man walked onto the frozen river, likely misunderstanding directions to cross on the Stone Arch Bridge near the city’s downtown. As a result of his wrong turn, the unidentified man fell through ice and got stuck in the frigid river. Emergency workers treated him for mild hypothermia.


    Merseyside Police Ian Trainer

    Getting an earful

    A judge in the United Kingdom has sentenced a man to six months in jail after he refused to turn down the volume on his stereo. But it wasn’t a young man playing rock or rap music. It was an elderly man playing classical music. Ian Trainer’s neighbors had complained to police about his classical music habits for several years. Trainer said his partial deafness requires him to play his stereo loudly, but a judge placed a restraining order on the 82-year-old Aintree, U.K., resident that requires him to keep the volume at 65 decibels or below. In December, neighbors called police because the retiree was once again in violation of the court order. On Feb. 6, the court sentenced Trainer to 24 weeks in jail.


    The Israel Museum, Jerusalem by Laura Lachman

    A memorable swim

    An Israeli man taking a morning swim made a stunning archaeological find last year. Rafi Bahalul discovered an ancient Egyptian anchor while off the shore of Atlit, Israel. “I saw it, kept on swimming for a few meters, then realized what I had seen,” Bahalul told Haaretz. “It was like entering an Egyptian temple at the bottom of the Mediterranean.” Archaeologists, who say recent stormy weather unearthed the stone from the sand, dated the stone anchor to Egypt’s New Kingdom 3,400 years ago.



    Paper chase

    An Ohio man looking for a letter from a student loan company ended up with 79 bins of mail after a computer glitch. Dan Cain had 55,000 pieces of identical mail waiting for him at the Twinsburg, Ohio, post office, all from the College Avenue Student Loan Company. A glitch in the company’s computers generated the mass mailing. Cain said it took him two trips to the post office to load up the mail in his car and bring the letters home. He told WOIO that he doesn’t know what to do with all that paper: “I just may start a fire, a bonfire, and burn it all.”



    Streaming positive

    Streaming music service Spotify has debuted a series of playlists and a podcast for dogs left at home for hours when their owners go to work. The Swedish company says the podcast, designed exclusively for dogs, features music and actors repeating words of affirmation and praise to their doggy listeners. The company says it got the idea after a survey of users revealed a quarter of pet owners turn on music for their animals when they are away.


    Gary Landers/AP

    Dopey sports fans

    Citing depression and long-suffering, fans of the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals have petitioned the Ohio State Medical Board to consider their fandom to be a qualifying condition for the use of medical marijuana. The state passed a law to legalize medicinal use of cannabis in 2016, and the program recorded its first sale in 2019. “We’ve been suffering for 30 years, all of us,” petitioner Vincent Morano told The Cincinnati Inquirer. “Everybody’s got the blues and [medical marijuana] could ease their pain away.” The board denied the application.



    Sending a message

    A New South Wales man pleaded guilty to violating an Australian law meant to ban texting and driving because police spotted him using his mobile phone while riding a horse. Pleading guilty in Mudgee Local Court, the 30-year-old confessed that his horse was moving about 6 mph while he made a phone call from the saddle late last year. “Under the road rules a horse is a vehicle,” Magistrate David Day noted. “And he didn’t have a hands-free device fitted to the horse.” Despite the guilty plea, the judge allowed the defendant to essentially go free without penalty.


  • Magical thinking all around us

    Magical thinking all around us
    Campaign 2020
    Beware of big dreamers who don’t sweat the details
    Janie B. Cheaney

    When Billy McFarland, CEO of Fyre Media Inc., developed the Fyre app as a tool for booking music acts, he dreamed up a doozy of a promotion with rapper Ja Rule: Fyre Festival 2017, two weekends of sun, fun, and rock ’n’ roll on Norman’s Cay, a private island in the Bahamas. A promotional video of bikini models and speedboats promised an experience “on the boundaries of the impossible.”

    The promoters didn’t recognize the boundaries of the impossible, because neither had ever staged a festival. False advertising forced a change of venue from Norman’s Cay to a parking lot on another island. That eliminated the luxury accommodations. Other oversights, dominated by wishful thinking, eliminated the gourmet meals and most of the rock ’n’ roll. Attendees who had unwisely ponied up thousands for the party got instead a windswept parking lot, along with soggy sandwiches, FEMA tents, and torrential rain. Billy McFarland got six years.

    Fyre Fest—“the greatest party that never happened”—became the subject of two documentaries and ranks as a metaphor right up there with dumpster fire, train wreck, and epic fail. Another public event, less drastic but more consequential, might achieve similar status: the 2020 Iowa caucuses.

    Bernie Sanders seems to think he can materialize his socialist dream by yelling about it.

    It too began with an app, or at least it ended with one—an app developed in just two months and introduced without adequate instruction or testing. That lack of care churned the kickoff event of the 2020 presidential campaign to a soggy mess. The hardworking farmers and small-town tradesmen of Iowa, who take seriously their role as the nation’s electoral bellwether, are not to blame. It was the Iowa Democratic Party and the app developer (ominously named Shadow Inc.) who failed in their due diligence. But there’s another shadowy cause, and that is the widespread slippage of base-level competence.

    Incompetence has always been a human failing, conspicuous at the highest levels of leadership. It may be due to promotion beyond ability, or ignorance, or just plain laziness. Or another reason that might be called an abundance of magical thinking. Magical thinking is a term used by psychologists to describe the tendency of very young children to believe that their thoughts affect the outside world. Wishing Mom and Dad would stop fighting, for example, could burden a child with unreasonable guilt if Mom and Dad end the fights by getting a divorce. Magical thinking is a kind of solipsism that kids generally grow out of. An adult consumed by such illusions is called schizophrenic.

    Unless he or she is a candidate for president. Elaborate promises are nothing new in political campaigns, but the size and scope of this year’s Democratic vision is breathtaking. Even when the more moderate candidates suggest scaling back plans to overhaul the health system or eliminate poverty, Elizabeth Warren chides the naysayers for failing to “Dream Big.” “Big” must mean canceling the Constitution, which would have to be Step One of achieving her to-do list for the first day in office. Bernie Sanders seems to think he can materialize his socialist dream by yelling about it.

    Beware of magical thinking on both sides this election cycle, but dreamers abound everywhere. “If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, then I can achieve it,” said everybody from Muhammad Ali to your kindergarten teacher. They never add that somewhere between Believe and Achieve is a lot of stuff: planning, coordinating, hard work, setbacks, tedium, failures, and thousands of details. Since we don’t dream in details, the gaps between here and there are too readily filled with magical thinking. And that leads to last-minute sloppiness and long-term incompetence.

    Yet we serve a God who is not only supremely competent but a master of detail, from the design of a butterfly’s wing to the order of the cosmos. While tending to the details of ordinary life, we can still Dream Big, as long as our dreams are compatible with His.


  • Ghost DNA hardly proof of evolution

    Intelligent design experts and creationists say evolutionists are overhyping the recent discovery of “ghost DNA” in West Africa.

    Researchers who analyzed the genomes of 405 present-day West Africans determined 2 to 19 percent of their genetic ancestry came from an unknown subgroup of humans that could have emerged before Neanderthals and humans supposedly split on the evolutionary tree. The DNA found in the study, published in Science Advances on Feb. 12, does not match any of the known human subgroups such as Neanderthals or Denisovans, which are thought to have interbred with Homo sapiens before going extinct. Scientists have found evidence of Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA in humans today, but they cannot identify the source of this newly discovered DNA.

    Ann Gauger, a zoologist and senior fellow at the Discovery Institute Center for Science and Culture, isn’t impressed. The ghost DNA could also have arisen as descendants of a single couple separated into tribes, developed their own genetic variations, and then crossed paths and had children, she explained, adding, “This ghost DNA just came from a different tribe, but they were always human.”

    Nathaniel Jeanson, a research biologist with Answers in Genesis, a young-earth Christian apologetics organization, questions whether the ghost DNA even exists. The scientists compared the DNA of modern West Africans with that of Neanderthal fossils, but DNA degrades over time, compromising the accuracy of their analysis, he said. Though evolutionary researchers say they isolated and eliminated the degraded DNA in fossil samples, “they have no way to be sure that what they have left is reliable,” said Jeanson, who holds Answers in Genesis’ view of young-earth creationism. “They are just assuming it is.”

    Most young-earth creationists also reject the view that human genetic differences arose through mutations. Based on the slow rate at which mutations occur, the evolutionary timescale cannot explain how humans already possess the level of complexity they have. Jeanson said that every time evolutionists discover something like ghost DNA, it suggests more mutations took place and makes the time needed for modern-day humans to evolve even longer.

    Associated Press/Photo by John Raoux A Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket with a payload of satellites lifts off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Jan. 29.

    Space clutter dangers

    Several space companies are racing to create and launch “constellations” of satellites to provide broader internet access. Elon Musk’s SpaceX and the London-based OneWeb have already begun putting the satellite networks in orbit, but experts warn the thousand of extra space objects could cause problems.

    The vastness of space makes littering seem harmless, “but actually the amount of operational space we are using is really quite small,” Christopher Newman, professor of space law and policy at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom, told CNBC. “And especially now, with the constellations looking to occupy large areas of low Earth orbit, it’s becoming even more crowded.”

    Space debris can damage satellites and manned spacecraft, threaten the International Space Station, or hurtle back to Earth and harm people on the ground. Some 22,300 traceable pieces of space debris exist, but thousands more untraceable pieces could be up there, the European Space Agency said.

    Space programs have launched more than 9,000 satellites since the late 1950s. Of the about 5,000 still in space, only 2,000 still function. The Swiss start-up company ClearSpace is working to design spacecraft that can find, capture, and remove nonfunctioning satellites from orbit. The Japanese company Astroscale also plans to launch a space junk removal mission in 2022. —J.B.

    Durham University The Viking game piece

    Viking games

    Archaeologists recently discovered a Viking board game piece in the ruins on Lindisfarne, an island off the northeast coast of England, a few miles south of the Scottish border. The monastery at Lindisfarne served as the center of Christianity in the medieval kingdom of Northumbria. On June 8, 793, Viking pirates attacked, plundered, and desecrated the church and killed many of the island’s inhabitants. It was the first significant raid on Western Europe and the beginning of the Vikings’ long campaign of pillaging and plundering Christian lands in England and mainland Europe.

    The scientists believe the game piece, made of swirling blue and white glass and crowned with white glass droplets, belonged to the Viking board game hnefatafl (“king’s table”) and dates from before the Norsemen raided the island. That means Vikings may have interacted with Lindisfarne long before the raid, The Guardian reported.

    The piece also shatters perceptions that life during medieval Christianity involved all work and no play. “We often tend to think of early medieval Christianity, especially on islands, as terribly austere: that they were all living a brutal, hard life,” David Petts, the lead archaeologist, told The Guardian. But, in reality, he said Lindsfarne bustled with monks, pilgrims, tradespeople and even visiting kings: “The sheer quality of this piece suggests this isn’t any old gaming set. Someone on the island is living an elite lifestyle.” —J.B.

    Wikimedia Commons/Wilson44691 The Lachish archaeological site in Israel

    Torn-down temple

    Archaeologists have unearthed a Canaanite temple at the site of the ancient city of Lachish in southern Israel. According to the Bible, Joshua led the Israelites in destroying the city during their conquest of the Holy Land (Joshua 10:31-32).

    The Israelite campaign against the Canaanite tribes took about a hundred years, according to lead archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel. The researchers found evidence of two attacks, one around the end of the 13th century B.C. and one about 50 years later. “Which of the two destructions is the one that was carried out by Joshua remains a big question,” Garfinkel told The Jerusalem Post.

    The scientists also found a gold-plated bottle featuring the name of Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II, who ruled Egypt from 1279 B.C. to 1213 B.C. Some people associate him with the Pharaoh of the Exodus, but no evidence has confirmed that.

    The archaeologists also found pottery shards inscribed with the name Lachish, gold artifacts, and figures depicting the pagan warrior idol Baal. The square temple contained several unhewn standing stones possibly representing different figures the Canaanites worshipped. —J.B.

    Reviving consciousness

    Researchers from the University of Wisconsin discovered they could awaken monkeys anesthetized into a deep sleep by electrically stimulating a precise brain region. When they ended the electric stimulation, the monkeys went right back to sleep. They targeted an area only a few millimeters in size in the monkey’s thalamus, the region involved in consciousness deep in the forebrain just above the brain stem, according the study published in Neuron on Feb. 12.

    The researchers hope their discovery will lead to helping people with disorders of consciousness live better lives.

    “It’s possible we may be able to use these kinds of deep-brain stimulating electrodes to bring people out of comas,” lead researcher Michelle Redinbaugh said. “Our findings may also be useful for developing new ways to monitor patients under clinical anesthesia, to make sure they are safely unconscious.” —J.B.

    Genetics complicate the evolutionary theory of human origins
    Article Title: 
    Ghost DNA hardly proof of evolution
    Digital Branding: 
    Hide from Archive?: 



  • Turkey Strikes Back At Syrian Forces, As West Condemns Damascus, Moscow

    Turkey Strikes Back At Syrian Forces, As West Condemns Damascus, Moscow

    Turkey Strikes Back At Syrian Forces, As West Condemns Damascus, Moscow

    Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

    Turkey says its forces have retaliated against Russia-backed Syrian government forces after at least 33 of its soldiers were killed in air strikes in Idlib Province, as NATO condemned Damascus and Moscow for what it called "indiscriminate" bombing in the region.

    "Known targets of the [Syrian] regime have come and will continue to come under fire from the air and ground," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's communications director, Fahrettin Altun, said in a statement late on February 27.

    "We urge the international community to fulfill its responsibilities" and help stop the Syrian government's "crimes against humanity," Altun said.

    Turkey’s Anadolu news agency said Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had spoken in a phone call with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg following the attacks.

    In the call, Stoltenberg condemned "the indiscriminate air strikes by the Syrian regime and its backer Russia in Idlib Province, and called on them to stop their offensive, to respect international law, and to back UN efforts for a peaceful solution," an alliance spokesman said.

    Stoltenberg "urged all parties to deescalate this dangerous situation and avoid further worsening of the horrendous humanitarian situation in the region," he added.

    The United States said that "we stand by our NATO ally Turkey" and demanded that Syria and Russia end their "despicable" offensive in Idlib.

    "We are looking at options on how we can best support Turkey in this crisis," a State Department spokeswoman said.

    Separately, U.S. officials called on Ankara to learn from the fighting in Syria who its true allies are and to cancel its purchase of the sophisticated S-400 missile defense system from Russia.

    U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison said the Turks should see "who is their reliable partner and who isn't."

    “I hope that President Erdogan will see that we are the ally of their past and their future and they need to drop the S-400,” she said.

    "They see what Russia is, they see what they're doing now, and if they are attacking Turkish troops, then that should outweigh everything else that is happening between Turkey and Russia," she added.

    At the UN, France also said it "condemns with the greatest firmness the intense bombardments by the aviation of the regime and its allies, in particular Russia," he said, citing a humanitarian disaster caused by attacks on hospitals, schools, and refugee shelters.

    Vassily Nebenzia, Russia's UN ambassador, downplayed widespread reports of a humanitarian disaster in Idlib, saying the "only long-term solution [to conflict in Syria] is to chase the terrorists from the country."

    Hours earlier, Governor Rahmi Dogan of the Turkish border province of Hatay said that 33 Turkish soldiers had been killed in Idlib Province in air strikes by Syrian government warplanes.

    He added that several others had been wounded, some seriously.

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based war monitor, reported that at least 34 Turkish soldiers had been killed in the air strikes.

    Turkey has sent thousands of troops and heavy military equipment into northwest Idlib Province to support rebels looking to hold back an offensive by Syrian government and Russian air forces aimed at recapturing the rebel stronghold.

    The fighting has raised concerns that NATO member Turkey could come into direct combat against Russian forces in Syria.

    Russia, along with Iran, has provided crucial political, military, and financial support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the country’s long civil war, which has killed more than 400,000 people and displaced millions since it began with a crackdown on antigovernment protesters in March 2011.

    The United States and Turkey have backed differing rebel groups, while extremists linked to Al-Qaeda and Islamic State also entered the conflict, although they have mostly been driven from their strongholds.

    SWJED Fri, 02/28/2020 - 12:14am

  • Syria War: 29 Turkish Troops Killed in Air Strike in Idlib

    Syria War: 29 Turkish Troops Killed in Air Strike in Idlib

    Syria War: 29 Turkish Troops Killed in Air Strike in Idlib – BBC News

    At least 29 Turkish soldiers have been killed in an air strike by Syrian "regime forces" in north-western Syria, a senior Turkish official has said.

    More were hurt in Idlib province, said Rahmi Dogan, the governor of Turkey's Hatay province. Other reports put the death toll higher.

    Turkey is now retaliating against Syrian troops government targets.

    Syrian forces supported by Russia are trying to retake Idlib from rebels who are backed by Turkish soldiers..

    Read on.

    Turkish Troop Losses Mount in Battle for Syria’s Last Rebel Stronghold by Jared Malsin - Wall Street Journal

    At least 29 Turkish soldiers were killed in northwestern Syria on Thursday, Turkish officials said, plunging Turkey deeper into the war there, as a Russian-backed Syrian military offensive sought to reclaim the last rebel stronghold.

    The soldiers were killed by Syrian regime forces, according to the governor of Turkey’s Hatay province, which borders Syria. Turkish officials said another 36 were wounded.

    As the news spread, crowds of Turkish civilians gathered in concern at a government hospital in the town of Reyhanli, on the Syrian border, where wounded Turkish troops were said to have been treated. Dozens of police and an armored vehicle were deployed to seal off the building.

    The deaths, which raised Turkey’s troop losses to at least 49 this month, add to the dilemma facing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said last week it was only a matter of time before he launched a military operation in Syria’s Idlib province to repel Syrian government troops…

    Read on.

    SWJED Fri, 02/28/2020 - 12:08am

  • Milley: Army SFAB Will Face Tough Conditions During Africa Mission

    Milley: Army SFAB Will Face Tough Conditions During Africa Mission

    Milley: Army SFAB Will Face Tough Conditions During Africa Mission by Matthew Cox –

    The Pentagon's top general said recently that the U.S. Army's 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) will face a tough operating environment when it deploys to Africa, one that's much more austere than it faced in Afghanistan.

    Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley testified on the challenges that the SFAB will face in Africa before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.

    The Pentagon announced in mid-February that the specialized advisory unit will deploy to Africa to train local forces in an effort to contend with Russia and China in the region.

    Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Maryland, asked for more information on the deployment since the commander of the 1st SFAB, Brig. Gen. Scott Jackson, said recently that the unit will not have the military infrastructure that was available in Afghanistan, such as the network of bases, supply chains and helicopters…

    Read On.

    SWJED Thu, 02/27/2020 - 7:38pm

  • Al-Qaida, ISIS Affiliates Team Up in West Africa, Says US Special Operations Command Africa Leader

    Al-Qaida, ISIS Affiliates Team Up in West Africa, Says US Special Operations Command Africa Leader

    Al-Qaida, ISIS Affiliates Team Up in West Africa, Says US Special Operations Command Africa Leader by Carley Petesch – Associated Press

    THIES, Senegal — The only place in the world where fighters linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group are cooperating is in West Africa’s sprawling Sahel region, giving the extremists greater depth as they push into new areas, according to the commander of the U.S. military’s special operations forces in Africa.

    “I believe that if it’s left unchecked it could very easily develop into a great threat to the West and the United States,” U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Dagvin Anderson told The Associated Press in an interview this week.

    The leader of U.S. Special Operations Command Africa described the threat even as the Pentagon considers reducing the U.S. military presence in Africa.

    Experts have long worried about collaboration between al-Qaida and the Islamic State group. While the cooperation in the Sahel is not currently a direct threat to the U.S. or the West, “it’s very destabilizing to the region,” Anderson said…

    Read On.

    SWJED Thu, 02/27/2020 - 7:21pm

  • Turkish Losses Rise in Dangerous Escalation Over Syria's Idlib

    Turkish Losses Rise in Dangerous Escalation Over Syria's Idlib

    Turkish Losses Rise in Dangerous Escalation Over Syria's Idlib by Amberin Zaman - Al-Monitor

    At least 29 Turkish soldiers were  killed in the Syrian province of Idlib today in an escalating confrontation between Russian-backed Syrian forces on one side and Turkish forces and their Sunni rebel allies on the other, marking the highest number of Turkish losses in a single day since the start of the civil conflict in Syria nine years ago.

    The governor of the border province of Hatay who revealed the figures blamed the deaths on an air attack by the Syrian regime.

    Speaking after an emergency national security meeting covened by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, presidential communications director Fahrettin Altun pledged that Turkey's soldiers would be avenged. "Our operations in the Syrian theater will continue until the blood soaked hands taking aim at our flag are broken. The decision to retaliate with far greater force against the illegitimate [Syrian] regime that pointed its guns at our soldiers has been made."…

    Read On.

    SWJED Thu, 02/27/2020 - 7:06pm