Sunday, November 8, 2015

Phase 2, Week 4

Hi all

For this week, in addition to the great work you're already doing, add one more thing:

If you're covering a follow-up to something you saw the previous week, write "follow-up" at the beginning of the paragraph.

Even though you can't insert maps, you can copy-paste URLs for maps if you have them.


  1. A Time of Crisis

    I am Afraid that we have entered a time of crisis that is not near ending. As you all know, terrorist attacks have killed 127 people and wounded 180 yesterday night in Paris. France has closed its borders and a Deuil National has been set in place in memory of the victims. This morning IS has claimed the attack to be theirs and say that more are about to come. Russia Today said that the US and Russia should be allies in the war against terrorism and seice with the ambient state of mutual distrust. I am afraid we are heading towards a Third World War: lately, countries around the gulf such as Egypt, Qatar and India have been arming themselves in order to defend and attack when needed. France has sold many Rafales from Dassaut industries. Countries are starting to pick sides. Thursday, France 2 went to interview Iran's president Hassan Rouhani who said that he supports Bashar-al-Assad in his acts and that he should run for president once again in there would be elections.

    Follow up: There should be negotiations between Russia and The US to decide what to do about the war against terrorism.
    The talks in Vienna have been put on hold for the moment due to the events in Paris.

  2. The Economic Times, South China Morning Post, and Channel NewsAsia, 13 Nov:

    I'd just want to first precise something about the sources. I read the same article in different newspapers, but it was actually the same source (Agence France Presse) that provided them all the information.
    The Japanese P-3C patrol aircraft spotted a Chinese spy ship (Dongdiao-class intelligence vessel) in the disputed areas around the Senkaku islands. The ship was navigating suspiciously back and forth in the zone, however, never did it cross the limits to Japan's 12-nautical-mile territorial waters. On one side, we have a Japanese newspaper who has been told, from anonymous sources, that the crew members were on an intelligence mission. But on the other side, we have the Chinese government who obviously denied it, and affirmed that it was normal activity since Japan's territorial waters were not breached. After all, Japan's distrust and fear towards China is leading to her strengthening the borders.

    Follow up (or rather, clarification), Thanh Nien News :

    Last Thursday, the 4th of November, during the meeting between Xi Jingping and Nguyen Phu Trong, the Vietnamese Communist Party General Secretary, the talk was only about how the two countries would mend ties and keep trust as well as tranquility in the East China Sea. The countries’ positions in the South Sea were not mentioned, therefore it means that they are either halfway on the path that’s leading to peace, or that one side the islands in the South China Sea are more valuable to them, and on the other side they are just putting a huge show on how they’re ‘trying’ to find solutions to everything.


  3. Wordless. The bloody terrorist attacks that occurred in Paris, last night leave me wordless. The Islamic States “happily” claims responsibility for this crime because of France’s military involvement in Syria (RT).
    Talks with world and regional powers were suppose to discuss the Syrian peace process UN-led in Vienna Friday night, but with the catastrophic events it has been moved to today, Saturday (RT). All Western powers are fighting against ISIS (Islamic State), although they disagree about how a “transition” can be peacefully made. Russia and Iran support Al-Assad’s government because they believe that it’s “the only regional force that can defeat the terrorists” (RT). But who are we to believe? Without doubt, Russia has been aristricking the rebels held areas in Aleppo, Latakia, Idlib, Hama, and Dera’a Provinces from November 11 to 12. (IW) Now Russia is firstly, going against the UN ceasefire declared September 24rth, and is really helping in order to fight terrorism isn’t she? Why killing countless civilians is for the greater good of the Syrian population because Russia is killing to defend terrorism, or isn’t Russia really being a bit of a phony: killing for the enemy and advocating a false message? Killing while justifying it and advocating Allah is terrorism-could Russia be relatively using the same techniques? A provocative thought that Russia waves off in Russia Today: “Some opponents of Assad accused Russia of targeting moderate rebel forces instead of hardcore terrorists, but no proof of the allegations has been made public.”
    Terrorist attacks in the Western world are linked too closely with the Syrian conflict… Let’s hope that Laurent Fabius is right: "One of the objectives of the Vienna meeting is to see how we can strengthen the international fight against Daesh [Arabic term for Islamic State],". (Reuters)
    And, I am left wordless in front of the complexity of this war… wordless in front of the attacks in Paris… wordless in all but we will make our voices heard. (WI) (RT)

    I hope everyone is safe!

  4. Thanks to Alexandre Guiot's post I realised that Hassad Rouhani (President of Iran) was interviewed by France 2 and Europe 1. I listened to this interview, that took place on November the 11th, and 2 things got to me. First of all it seemed like Hassad Rouhani was motivated in saying that Iran will respect the deal and will not make a nuclear bomb if and only if the United States and the United Nations respect their part of the deal which is taking away the sanctions put on Iran. The second aspect that stood out was the fact that Hassad Rouhani said :" Iran at no moment in time wanted to, or tried, making a nuclear bomb". This quote makes me want to say, Never say Never... ;)

    (NY Times, follow up): Last week we said that Iran and the United States did seem to communicate and start to trust each other a little more. This seems to be confirmed with the Prime minister of Iran meeting up with Obama for a talk about the nuclear deal. The prime minister expressed the positiveness of his talk with President Obama. This all sounds pretty good even though Iranian people keep showing their hate towards the United States...

    See you next and I hope everyone is fine.
    Nicolas Rival

  5. Internal Crisis in South Sudan :

    UN News Center: UN declares that the situation in South Sudan has not yet evolved positively, the on-going crisis leaving the population with a famine crisis, and “vulnerable to diseases”. However, the UN makes it very clear that even though it is very hard to transfer International help in to South Sudan because of “access challenges” and “lagging funding”, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is still doing its best. Help is being provided on the matters of help and hygiene, and the OCHA takes full pride in keeping the cholera outbreak under control, with the 2,6 million dollars contribution from the UN. It seems as though the UN wants to clarify that they believe they are the true saviours of the South Sudan conflict!

    China Post: The China Post’s views seem to differ. The article insists on the horrible happenings in South Sudan, clarifying the endless murders, rapes, and on-going famine. However they seem to suggest that even though the UN is the first to say that help is to be provided urgently, not much is actually being done, and that international help organizations are largely insufficient. It is interesting to see how differently the China Post portrays this story!

  6. AQAP
    This week, I will be focusing not exclusively on al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, but rather on the group’s reactions and indirect involvement in yesterday’s terrorist attacks in Paris, referred to by François Hollande as “an act of war”.
    In January 2015, AQAP claimed responsibility for the attacks at the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The organisation is widely known for its tendency to focus on overseas targets, so until this week, any large-scale attack like the one in Paris would have been considered their work. (International Business Times)
    One of the biggest limitations on Islamic terrorist groups executing successful attacks has been competition. Each is trying to recruit potential supporters, and Western intelligence agencies say these groups once thought that complicated plots such as blowing up major bridges or national landmarks would win them more members. But the more intricate the plots and the more predictable the targets, the more likely it is that they be intercepted. With ISIS, and not AQAP having claimed responsibility for the attacks, this sense of competition explains why some refer to the incidents as “trying to one-up AQ on spectacular attacks.” (Newsweek)
    However, AQAP still praises the attacks, and even refers to them as “the blessed raid of Paris upon the crusader French” in their monthly online magazine Inspire. (Inspire)
    Madeleine Tabary

  7. Crisis in Venezuela. My blog post is over the word limit, but I found interesting news that could be trivial for the upcoming elections...

    November 11th: The Telegraph: It has been reported that two relatives of president Maduro’s wife (Cilia) have been arrested by American officials on suspicion of drug trafficking in Haiti. Mr. Antonio Campo Flores-de Freitas (oh what a name!) is Cilia’s nephew and Mr. Campo is her stepson. After being arrested by police in the Haitian capital, they were sent to New York. The police has said that they were involved in a deal for 800kgs of cocaine. The two will appear before court on Thursday. The State Department believes that the 800kgs package has been produced in Colombia before being trafficked through Venezuela to end up in Europe or the U.S. Of course, Maduro has denied the charges and believes it is a plot against his Socialist Revolution. While intensifying the crisis, it raises a major question: Who will win the upcoming elections considering that both Maduro and the opposition leaders had to deal with justice recently? (I talked about Leopoldo Lopez last week, the opposition leader who was sentenced to 13 years in prison.)

    November 12, Reuters, Nbc News: Maduro strongly criticized the U.S. during his speech in Human Rights Council in Geneva. He praised the benefits Socialism has on Venezuela and ended by saying "ongoing harassment of the imperialist powers of the United States" should end. He also added that the U.S. are misusing human rights as a political weapon. He thinks that Venezuela should defend itself with only one weapon: nationalism. I believe his speech is a way to hide what has happened with the cocaine deal in his family and also assert his nationalistic values. I feel like this speech is utopic considering Venezuela today….How can he talk about nationalism when a country is divided politically?

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  9. BBC: 4 days ago, The General Congress announced that 13 security personnel had been killed by terrorists. Although it is not known who organised the attack on the Libyan military, The general congress are currently blaming the Iraq based group ISIS. Also a US air strike has targeted the leader of the Islamic State in Libya and probably killed him according to the Pentagon. The strike took place on Friday and targeted a compound in Derna. The name of this man is Abu Nabi and he has been responsible for the terrorist operations of ISIS in tripoli and other major Libyan cities. Considering the horrors that I saw at the Stade de France in Paris two days ago I for one support the US's attempt to eradicate ISIS in libya as long as they know who the enemy is. the bombs must not be dropped on civilians. (which unfortunately did happen during the Irak war).

    My thoughts and prayers are with those who were affected directly or indirectly by the bombings and shootings that happened across Paris.

    I hope everyone else is OK...

  10. Terrorism on the US Homeland:

    After the outraging deadly terror attacks in Paris on the night of Friday November 13th, the US authorities were preoccupied that a similar credible threat existed on the American Homeland. Additional security precautions were put in place in the cities across the country. According to the CNN, Los Angeles police department deployed extra police units in crowded and critical places like airports, more patrols were sent near the Capitol in Washinghton and the New York Police Departement brought closer attention to crowded and easy targets, such as night clubs, theaters, museums and locations that are linked to France. However, the Government official claimed that there was no known threat to the US soil at this time. In fact, the Homeland Security secretary, Jeh Johnson, also said in a statement: "The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are closely monitoring events in Paris and we are in contact with our counterparts in the region. At this time we know of no specific or credible threats of an attack on the US homeland of the type that occurred in Paris tonight." Although, no credible threat on the American soil exists at this time, the FBI and intelligence and homeland security claimed that they will not hesitate to take extra-secure procedures in order to protect the American people.
    Source: -CNN
    - Department of Homeland Security

    Boko Haram
    A few days ago, around 25 people were killed in a Boko Haram attack in a village in southern Nigeria. There has been many fights between the army and the militant group. The government said that Boko haram group will be over by December, but is it still possible? Over 8,500 men are ready to defeat Boko Haram militants, but they will wait till the end of the rainy season. On Monday the Government of Chad has declared a state of emergency in the Boko Haram hit region; Lake Chad. There has been a series of suicide bombings and raids over the last few weeks, so the government wants Boko Haram to cede the land they took.

    sources; Reuters, Yahoo News

  12. South China Sea Conflict
    This is all from the NYTimes
    Well so nothing major has happened so this is a list of the events that have token place:
    November 7- U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that the U.S. forces in in the area will conduct more and more freedom of navigation operations (like the one done with the USS Lassen). No dates were given.
    November 10- China has no knowledge of there being a talk on the South China Sea Conflict APEC (Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation) .
    November 10- State Department spokesman Mark Toner believes that the South China Sea conflict will be brought up at APEC even if not on the agenda.
    November 12- Two US bombers flew near China's man made islands. They did not enter China's 12 mile claimed territory around the islands but still were contacted by Chinese air controllers. The Pentagon has also stated that these types of operations are frequent and should not alarm anyone.
    November 13- China once again stated that they are for free air and sea navigation in the sea even though their air traffic controllers sent warnings to the bombers flying in the area.
    November 15- Obama has stated that during the G20, the main topic will be about the terrorists attacks that happened recently in Paris. Other subjects such as the South China Sea will be talked about but not as much because of recent events.
    This is a map that shows the border conflict between the countries:

  13. Iran Nuclear Crisis:

    Follow-up: As we’ve seen last week, Iran is starting to decommission their nuclear facilities and it is starting to feel like the end of the tensions on the nuclear deal. Furthermore, Iran is starting to re-enter Europe, in the hope of reviving relations between Iran and Europe from an economic standpoint. The Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, is going to make a European visit, the first one in over a decade. (The Guardian)

    Nonetheless, as I mentioned last week the tensions are building inside the country as there have been many protests since Iran agreed to the nuclear deal, and some people find the fact that Iran is agreeing to decommission their nuclear facilities a breach of their freedom as a country and treacherous.


  14. Not much has happened this week. However some countries involved in the South China Sea dispute have spoken up about China encroaching on their territory.

    Reuters: The Malaysian Prime Minister said to a gathering in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo island: “If our country is threatened or being encroached, we Malaysians should rise to defend our country,"
    The Philippines has taken China to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, but China refuses to recognize the court’s authority.
    South China Morning Post: Recently, two American B-52 bombers flew near Chinese-made islands in the waters. Foreign Ministry Hong Lei said China opposed flights that used freedom of navigation as legal cover to challenge Beijing's sovereignty and security. It has been said that the US will be doing more of these “freedom of navigation patrols” in the future.

    Ukraine conflict

    CSIS and ISW:
    After months of relative peace, fighting has resumed in the region of Donetsk on November 9th. Ukrainian forces engaged in direct combat with rebel forces. According to certain reports, a group of rebels attempted to overtake a military base in the town of Mayorsk in the Donetsk region. The number of skirmishes occurring across the line of contact has increased as well. Despite there having been a ceasefire and heavy weapons having been pulled back by the Ukrainians, Ukrainian soldiers are seeing the enemy take tanks even further into Ukrainian territory than before. Military officials are ready for a major offensive.
    The regional elections planned a month ago in the cities of Mariupol and Krasnoarmiisk were postponed for ballot manipulations and are now to take place on November 29th.

    The Kremlin may be restarting this round of violence in response to the indications that the European Union planned on extending sanctions against Russia beyond January 2016 during a summit later this year. The resumption of hostilities will cause trouble for Poroshenko, spreading further dissatisfaction within the population, for him the as he faces mounting pressure from political opponents having seen victories in the latest nationwide local elections.

  16. North Korean Conflict

    Nov. 10 (UPI)-North Korea called again for a peace treaty with the US, two weeks before the North Korean officials and international organizations meet to discuss denuclearization. In a North Korean newspaper, North Korea stated on Tuesday that the "United States does not have any justification for opposition to the proposed peace agreement," and "to see our offer as a fraud or a tactical ruse would be a miscalculation". North Korea has been requesting a peace treaty with the US since the beginning of October. North Korea’s Foreign Minister stated that the treaty could prevent future wars on the Korean peninsula.
    Nov. 10 (Voice of America) - North Korea is actively seeking an answer despite its refusal to give up its nuclear weapons. The meeting is to be held Nov. 23-27 in Berlin.

    (The New York Times)- On Friday, the US Treasury sanctioned four North Koreans, including North Korea’s ambassador who was in Myanmar, a Southeast Asian country. American officials said they were linked to a Korean mining corporation and were involved in North Korea’s illicit weapons proliferation activities.

    Nov. 15 (Yonhap)-North Korea has recently declared a “no-navigation” zone in the waters near its eastern coastal city of Wonsan. This is a possible indication that the country could test-launch a missile in the area. The warning covers all movement of ships from Nov. 11 to Dec. 7. A South Korean government source said that they will be “closely observing” as to what type of missile will be launched.

  17. The beheadings of several people in Afghanistan by ISIL-militants in the Zabul province has roused the Afghan population to protest against terrorism on Wednesday. The protesters carried the coffins of the victims unto the streets of Kabul, demanding justice be made against the horrific deaths of the Hazara victims. According to Al Jazeera, “four men, two women, and a child had been beheaded with razor wire” meanwhile the NBC News simply talk about “women and a child”. Al Jazeera also reports that the protesting people were of all ethnic groups- Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbek, and Hazara- while NBC News describes the crowd as “mainly Hazaras”. All journals are describing the mixture of anger and fear that is rising within Afghans- and other countries (like France) - as the Islamic State seems to gain/assert control over Afghanistan, and threaten world peace.
    The terrorizing events of the night of November 13th-14th in Paris has shown the global threat that the terrorists groups impose on global peace. The Islamic Monthly denounces the President François Hollande’s new resolutions as unpromising. His decision to “destroy and kill terrorists without mercy” resounds to W. Bush’s reaction to the 9/11 terrorist attack: intensifying the fight in the Islamic State. This would give the same results as it did after the 9/11 attack: “defeating extremism has failed to bring about anything other than instability.” The newspaper labels this as “Paris and the Post-9/11 Cycle to Nowhere”. The New York Times reports that ISIS claimed responsibility for the horrors of that night, and even calls them (worryingly) “the first of the storm”.
    Pray for Paris

  18. Ukraine

    While fighting still continues in the front, the civilians left in the separatist-controlled zones are now in a state of limbo, also referred to as a “frozen zone.” Indeed, being neither supported by the government of Kiev nor by Moscow, these regions have become derelict. Some villages are completely destroyed by heavy artillery, while the living conditions of the citizens continue to deteriorate. Though thanks to the cease-fire, the population has less to worry about staying alive (except for land mines or booby traps), many still worry about basic necessities such as food. The economy is of course very fragile, most of the young people left, the children cannot go to school, and most who still stay there do because they have no option, which creates a atmosphere of hopelessness. Those kind of lifeless territories left behind are a signature of a post-Soviet conflict, that can also be seen in other parts of the world such as South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Transnistria, or Nagorno-Karabakh. The people living in the frozen zone of eastern Ukraine seem to have a bleak future, as the situation seems to stagnate and therefore will have to endure it for more years.

    Adrien Lopez

  19. Sources: Economic Times / India Times
    South China Morning Post

    As Lisa mentioned as well since both of these articles come from the AFP so they are more or less the same.

    On Thursday, Japan's Defense Ministry has claimed that they have spotted a Chinese Type 815 intelligence spy ship while patrolling in a PC-3 surveillance plan around the Senkaku islands. The ship is heavily armed and was seen navigating back and forth at the border of Japan's territorial waters. According to China the boat was navigating normally with no peculiar intention in mind. This is certainly not the first time China has "confronted" Japan with ships and aircrafts in order to see how it would react. Regardless of their differences of interpretation, the two parties have decided to keep tensions "under control".

    No particular follow-ups on the gold mines or the advanced ballistic missile defense warship.

  20. Follow-up on the plane crash in the Sinai region in Egypt :
    The Arab News claimed : “Egypt plane crash investigators are "90 percent sure" that explosion heard on black box was a bomb” on twitter on October 31, 2015.
    Black box analysis shows that recording stopped at 23 minutes into take off at altitude of 30,000 feet - @AlArabiya_Eng ; Egypt's head of accident investigation says, 'parts of Russian plane wreckage are missing,' scattered over 13 km area, indicates in-flight break up. These indications are both coming from twitter by @AlArabiya_Eng, a Saudi Arabian news brand which provides news for Saudi Arabia and all of the Middle East. Therefore all the countries except Egypt claim that the crash was do to a bomb in the plane. Egypt still “refuses to concede that terrorists caused Sinai plane crash” reports The Guardian, Egypt pushes back the idea that it might be caused by a bomb and they try to lead people to think that the crash was in result of malfunctions of the plane and/or more ; Egypt does not want to accept that it was done by terrorists since it will strongly “cripple the country’s vital tourism industry”.
    With every influential country saying it was an act of terrorism, many airlines have chosen to stop flying over the Sinai region because they do not know if it’s safe to fly over there and they await more information. For example, Lufthansa and Air France-KLM redirected their flights but also British Airways said that they would not fly low in the Sinai region. (Mirror). Additionally, the “British government has suspended all flights between the UK and the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh” informs The Guardian in result of the earlier plane crash in the Sinai region.

  21. Boko Haram

    Follow up: Western countries do not know what to make of the allegiance in March between Boko Haram and ISIS. Many say both sides, after many set-backs that year, used this allegiance as propaganda for victory and expansion world-wide. Some are confused, wondering if Syrians are attacking in Nigeria with Boko Haram, but most sources confirm their absence and that only financial support is being given by the Syrians. However, no one is sure if this allegiance could develop into more worrisome projects in the future. (Mail&Guardian)

    This week: 25 people were killed in a village of southern Niger (near Bosso district) on November 11th during a Boko Haram raid. Five of these people were civilians but the other 20 were the Nigerian militants killed by Niger soldiers. Lately Boko Haram has been spreading to Nigeria’s neighboring countries, so an 8,700-troop regional project to fight the Islamist militants is being planned for as soon as the rainy season comes to an end. (Reuters)

    Meanwhile, Nigerians are fleeing the area into Europe, constituting 4% of the total number of migrants. (The Guardian)

  22. Follow up:
    This week the situation in Yemen has not dramatically changed: the city of Aden is still controlled by AQAP, and the murders in the city keep on coming. Though, on Saturday, soldiers of the people’s resistance went to the top of Jabal Saber, mountains on the side of Taiz (where they can see the city), attempting to cut Houthi supplying routes. On top of this, Yemeni government allied with the people’s resistance have been fighting off the Houthis at the border posts between the city of Taiz and Haj. It seems that Yemeni forces are starting to get their country back slowly as the resistence managed to make it to Dhabab, a town on the coast near Bab Al Mandeb, but the main cities controlled by the Houthis haven’t changed. Also, the press continues to talk about Saudi coalition forces helping the resistence, but said they had pulled out (probably the last soldiers left), and some press websites are starting to admit that “The Saudi-led intervention was a failure” (ex: )

    Lucas Tournier

  23. Al Shabab

    Over the past weeks, there had been chatter that terrorist group Al Shabab had split into two groups. One was loyal to Al Qaeda, the other was loyal to ISIS. It has recently been confirmed, a high profile Al Shabab militant announced it on November 6th.
    The US is getting more and more worried about the group, so much so that it has started to offer money for information on the members. This comes from the fact that they have discovered anew way that the group has of making money, they tax vehicles entering and exiting the areas that they control. It may seem unimportant, but officials claim that they have been able to make close to 21 million dollars every year.
    Since Somalia is still without an army, neighboring countries still help, for instance Kenya, which was the victim of an Al Shabab attack, which resulted in close to 150 deaths. However, there are rumors according to which the Kenyan army could indirectly be funding the terrorist group.

  24. Sectarian Violence in Iraq
    According to the Washington Post, the Islamic State’s will is clearly to impose itself as a dominant jihadist movement.
    Although it Is not following up with the raid that took place in Iraq about two weeks ago, ISIS is clearly present all over the world.
    The Islamic State group admitted being responsible for the explosion of the Russian plane, and the suicide bombings in Lebanon, and Turkey. The very recent Paris attacks seem to indicate that ISIS has had a switch in procedure. The switch will be unfortunately leading to a broader approach. It is said by experts that ISIL is planning in intensifying their attacks.
    Although this is not about the sectarian violence in Iraq, ISIL’s presence throughout the world leads back to the point being that they are propagating panic all over the globe. It is hard to imagine what would have happened if the suicide bombers had successfully blew themselves up in the midst of the crowd at the Stade de France. The number of deaths is already so horrid; a larger number would simply worsen the current situation. I guess it isn’t necessary to develop this point as anybody can imagine the worst.
    Although all the attacks in Paris were not lead by ISIL, their presence was certainly caused the death of hundreds of men and women. ISIL claimed that Friday night’s attacks were the response to France’s role in airstrikes that were lead against both Syria and Iraq.

  25. Title: Moving far and wide
    Source: Latino Fox News
    The criminal organization La Familia Michoana is now involved in uranium trafficking with China- perhaps drugs simply weren’t enough? This information comes after the interrogation of Sidronio Casarrubias, head of the Guerreros Unidos gang, who has also stated that the trade is operated by Carlos Ahumada, an Argentinian-Mexican citizen. He is believed to possess two uranium mines; the metal is taken to Lazaro Cardenas, or port of Colina (both of which are in Michoana state), before being handed to the Chinese. It appears that drug cartels are now using other resources and products to gain in power, and establish connections with different countries and continents.
    Link to Mexican state map:

    Source: LA Times
    Follow up to legalizing marijuana in Mexico
    It turns out the privilege to grow and use marijuana for one’s personal use has only been granted to a group of barely ten people, a self-proclaimed cannabis club, united under the name SMART. As ludicrous as this may seem, this Supreme Court decision may very well change the public’s opinion on the matter. The ruling may possibly extend to the general public, something that will ease the pain and problems Mexico is currently facing.

  26. The disgusting and horrific attack on Paris shocked the world, including Pakistan, who publicly stated that the government was supporting France during these hard times.
    (follow up on terror financing)On the other side, in the US, a well known money changer Altaf Khanani was arrested on suspicion of “laundering illicit funds for organized crime groups, drug trafficking organizations and designated terrorist groups throughout the world” through means of his firm MLO. This was not the first time he was arrested on such accusations. There is a whole system of illegal money flowing through Pakistan called the Hundi system, according to Malik Bostan, president of the Forex Association of Pakistan. It has been rumored since August 2014 that IS is planning to buy Pakistan’s nuclear power (source: Independent). Despite this arrest, Foreign Secretary Aziz Chaudhry ruled out Islamic State’s presence in Pakistan, and banned all relations with IS in Pakistan.
    5 rockets were fired from Afghanistan into Angoor Adda, South Wazirastan. Dr Yaseen Baloch, general secretary of the National Party (NP)was killed, and four other people (including the father of a minister) were injured in an accident on the Quetta-Karachi highway near Othal on Thursday. Pakistan’s embassy rejected US media’s suggestions that Pakistan was “irresponsibly building its nuclear arsenal” and stated that India introduced nuclear weapons to South Asia.

  27. Cyberattacks (follow up, sort of)
    NextGov: The threat of a massive cyberattck on a civilian infrastructure that could cause a certain number of deaths and billions in damage, has been seen since 2012, or even since the fourth "Die Hard" movie in 2007. Many beleive that a sneak attack of the sort is highly unlikely, however if an attack would happen, the DHS and the Defense Department wouldn’t exactly know who is in charge of what.

    Christiantoday: According to Ted Koppel (former ABC's host) says that a massive cyberattack on the USA could destroy the nation's power in the near future, and the US government is completely unprepared to cope with that eventuality. He believes that Russia, China and Iran already have the capability to launch such an attack, and that it is only a matter of time when any of these countries may launch a massive cyberattack against America's power grid, to which the government would not be able to react apropriately.

    Quentin Siart

  28. FROM BEN

    Violence between Taliban factions and on civilians

    The Globe and Mail:
    Recently violence broke out between two Taliban factions, in Zabul province. This is another episode of conflict within the Taliban group after last week when Rasool formed a dissident group.
    About 100 fighters were killed so far in this clash. Each side is blaming each other as for who started the attacks.
    Rasool's splinter group received support from IS, whom he pledged allegiance to, and from Uzbek militants. They fought against the new Taliban leader, Mansoor, which they rejected.

    This week a protest broke out in Kabul in reaction to the beheading of seven Hazaras, including women and a child. The protestors attempted to infiltrate the presidential palace but were stopped by police forces.
    Held by the thousands of protestors were coffins with the bodies of the victims. Chants of "Death to Taliban and Daesh" were sung in reaction.
    The president of Afghanistan, Ashref Ghani strongly condemns the incident. He also explains that this assault on civilians is evidence of the military failure from the terrorising groups.
    The people responsible of the beheading are either part of the Taliban or of the Islamic Movement.

    On Thursday, 21 Israeli soldiers disguised in hospital staff and patients raided a hospital in the West Bank, looking for Azzam al-Shalalda, a Paletinian suspected of stabbing an Israeli soldiers. When they entered his room, his cousin, Abdullah, was coming out of the bathroom. They shot him with five bullets and let him bleed out. They then attached Azzam to a wheelchair and took him out of the hospital after blocking the door to the room so that the staff could not help Abdullah. We still do not know if Azzam al-Shalalda is still alive, but since the Israelis shot him cousin without even thinking, he was most likely executed later that day.
    The only Israeli news articles on that subject that do not have Reuters as a source are on, and do not give more information than the other websites. They mention that Abdullah was injured during the attack, but do not mention his death.
    "You don't feel safe at home, in the street, in the hospital or in the mosque, you are a target only because you're a Palestinian" said Issa Amro, the coordinator of the Hebron-based Youth Against Settlements activist group. This shows how even in a hospital, were people are saved to avoid death, soldiers come and kill people who did not seem to pose an imminent threat, the same way some Palestinians kill innocent Israelis who mean no harm.

  30. Growing Instabilities in Thailand

    On Thursday, November 12th, at a checkpoint in Khok Pho, south of Thailand, a bomb exploded killing four men and injuring four others. The victims were village defense volunteers. The criminal has not been found, but the police is looking. Since the district of Pattani is one of the Muslim-dominated regions, it is probable that attack was a fight for more autonomy.

    Thailand decided to reinforce their security after the Paris attacks on Friday, November 13th. The security agencies are on alert mostly at checkpoints and tourist attractions. Although all the Thais living in Paris reported to be safe to the embassy of Thailand, in France, the Thai Government still sent a message of condolence to the French Government.

    Hope everyone is okay.

    On Thursday, 21 Israeli soldiers disguised in hospital staff and patients raided a hospital in the West Bank, looking for Azzam al-Shalalda, a Paletinian suspected of stabbing an Israeli soldiers. When they entered his room, his cousin, Abdullah, was coming out of the bathroom. They shot him with five bullets and let him bleed out. They then attached Azzam to a wheelchair and took him out of the hospital after blocking the door to the room so that the staff could not help Abdullah. We still do not know if Azzam al-Shalalda is still alive, but since the Israelis shot him cousin without even thinking, he was most likely executed later that day.
    The only Israeli news articles on that subject that do not have Reuters as a source are on, and do not give more information than the other websites. They mention that Abdullah was injured during the attack, but do not mention his death.
    "You don't feel safe at home, in the street, in the hospital or in the mosque, you are a target only because you're a Palestinian" said Issa Amro, the coordinator of the Hebron-based Youth Against Settlements activist group. This shows how even in a hospital, were people are saved to avoid death, soldiers come and kill people who did not seem to pose an imminent threat, the same way some Palestinians kill innocent Israelis who mean no harm.

  32. 9/11-15/11
    NY Times:
    This article explains China’s point of view on the Paris events that happened Friday. The Chinese government blames the Uighurs for being implicated in, if not organizing the attacks. This allows the Chinese government to do multiple things. First of all, Beijing now has the option to call for help from European nations to fight against the Uighurs, notably those that have left the China to help ISIS and risk coming back, well armed and well prepared, as some have already done. These trained Uighurs are the main threat to national safety. By having European nations be affected by Uighur terrorism, these powerful nations might try to fight the Uighurs directly, forcing them to either stay out of China, or die, as another article from Channel News Asia mentioned about the Chinese government’s potential thought about Uighurs leaving to join ISIS last week. The second action that the Chinese government has the option to take if the terrorism acts in Paris were related to Uighur terrorism activities is to harshen the crackdown on the Uighur community in China, continuing and reinforcing the project to homogenize the country.
    Most chinese news outlets (press and television):
    Since the moment the attacks in Paris were discovered by chinese news, links were made between the two nations’ fight against terrorism. China (through the government controlled news) is increasing the fear of terrorism within China by comparing the Uighur terrorism to the 120 deaths in Paris. A huge focus is created around the Uighurs to create a common fear, or even hate, against the Uighurs, allowing the government to take more radical actions and pass laws that would harm the Uighurs in a more direct way than what the Beijing has currently gone until now, just as they did after the huge Uighur riots during the summer.
    NIKKEI Asian Review:
    This article exposes the tensions that have been escalating around the XinJiang border. China has been trying to have a more important economic role in Central Asia. They have been implementing more and more businesses since the 1990s. Yet the border is unsafe, and the stability of the region, and most importantly the Chinese XinJiang border, has become an important part of the government’s concerns. With the increase of Uighurs joining ISIS and the presence of the Taliban in the region, it has become unsafe, preventing further economic control over the countries involved. Russia has some military presence in the region.

  33. :

    As said last week, cyberattacks can cause important and expensive damages to business companies. A good example for this is Sony Pictures Entertainment’s cyberattack in 2014. An estimate to the damage caused by North Korea is $35 million. This was a consequence from company making a comedy movie about a plot to assassinate the country's leader Kim Jong Un. Such damages weighed on the their worker’s earnings.

    This week, Hackers have hacked the IT systems of U.S. health insurer "Excellus BlueCross BlueShield”. It compromised over 10 million people’s personal, financial and medical information. With such security breach, they gained access to customer records which include names, addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, member identification numbers, financial accounts,… Since their first attack in 2013 the insurance has been working with the FBI and cybersecurity firm Mandiant to investigate the breach.

    Business Insider:

    4 men have been incarcerated for the largest theft of a bank's costumer data in U.S. history. In 2014, JPMorgan announced that over 70 million households and seven million small businesses had their private data compromised in a cyberattack. The hackers were identified as Gery Shalon, Joshua Samuel Aaron, Ziv Orenstein and Anthony Murgio. They have been charged with 23 indictments for having sought payment information of 3500 costumers, affecting 83 million others in the process.

  34. Follow-up on Paris attacks: Much like the article of the Islamic Monthly of November 14th (see week 4), the Huffington Post explains that the decision taken by France to bomb Syria will only generate more hatred and violence in return. It declares that “you can’t bomb ideas”, which I find honestly true as it will only create more tension and widen the rift between ISIS and western countries. The violent reaction is justified, yes, and is instinctive behavior of “you aggress me, I aggress you”, but objectively isn’t it exactly what the group was waiting for? Doesn’t it give another reason for them to be anti-western?
    Meanwhile, India and Afghanistan will hold an “ice breaking” meeting to ease tensions and work together in resuming the peace talks with the Taliban. Pakistan is holding a “groundbreaking” meeting in July with Afghan and Taliban delegates in order to try to settle the dragging bloody conflict. (Voice of America)
    The Diplomat points out “a turning point in Afghanistan-India relations”: the Indian government has accepted the request of transferring four helicopters from the Indian Air Force to bolster Afghan forces against the Taliban. (Several deals were issued in the last few years for war-material with Russia and India). Russia is also delivering free weapons to Afghan forces, as it is concerned with the spread of IS.
    ISIS has been seen in various areas of the country (I added a map on google docs), and has created tensions with the Taliban: according to the UK Express, the UN has reported that ISIS declared war on them. It has also drawn recruits from the Taliban group. RT journal on the contrary reports a “plan to merge with the Taliban”... The NY times also shows that Afghan ISIS has been making its way in a battle against the Taliban, splintering the group and causing even more violence throughout the Nangarhar Province and Maamand Valley. The ISIS recruiting seems to be more efficient, as the group is richer than the Taliban and is paying the recruits more.
    According to the IB Times, the Afghan forces killed 12 ISIS militants in this very Nangarhar Province, and 32 more around November 6.