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Showing posts from May, 2016

Two-front attack shrinking territory held by Islamic State in Libya

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After advancing very close to Sirte and threatening to surround it, forces loyal to the UN-brokered Government of National Accord from the Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous operation seem to have paused and may be consolidating their positions.
The apparent pause in the advance from the west happens at the same time as the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG), Martin Kobler, is visiting Misrata the home of most of the militia involved in the fight against IS. This has prompted thefollowing tweet:"GNA force progress in #sirt stopped after @KoblerSRSG visit to #Misrata Any body explain?" It may be that the forces are just consolidating their gains and also that the IS plants many mines that must be cleared. Perhaps there are discussions about what the next steps may be. The advance had been rather rapid until recently. An IS senior leader, Khaled Al-Shayeb, was apparently killed in recent clashes with the Misrata militia. His body was identified by IS prisoners held in Tr…

Salim Alaradi of dual Canadian Libyan citizenship cleared of all charges by UAE court

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Salim Alaradi, a Canadian-Libyan citizen, has been held in jail in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for 642 days. Alaradi was arrested with a number of other business people connected to Libya.

He has finally been acquitted on charges of providing financial support for and cooperating with Libya-based groups Libya Dawn and the February 17 Brigade. Canadian officials welcomed his acquittal and his family celebrated the news. However, he was taken back to jail and still is not free. He needs medical attention as well. He was cleared along with three other co-accused. His lawyer, Paul Champ, said the four cheered and hugged each other after the verdict. All four were detained again by UAE officials. It is not clear why, but it may be for administrative reasons. Canadian officials were present to bring Alaradi, the father of five children, back to Canada and were confused by the arrests.
Global Affairs Canada claimed: "The Government of Canada raised Mr. Alaradi's case at the highes…

Islamic State in Libya now attacked from the east by Petroleum Facilities Guard

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Salem Jedran, mayor of the town of Ajdabiya, says troops of the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) are advancing toward the town of Bin Jawad, which has been held by the Islamic State (IS) since early January.

Jedran claimedthat clashes are underway on eastern outskirts of the town. Bin Jawad is about 160 kilometers or 99 miles from the city of Sirte the main stronghold of IS in Libya. Arecent tweetincludes photos allegedly of the PFG near Bin Jawad: "#Libya : Pro-PFG account released pics of #PFG near Bin Jawad. Localization could be 19km from Bin Jawad - FB ". The Libya Herald reports that two units of the central region (PFG) from Ajdabiya had moved within a few kilometers of Nufliva and Bin Jawad. A source close to the head of the guards, Ibrahim Jadhran, told the paper that it was "amost" in control of Bin Jawad and very near Nufliya. Jadhran is an opponent of Haftar. Reportedly he has been fired and replaced by the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) of…

GNA-loyal forces aiming to surround Islamic State stronghold of Sirte in Libya

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Forces of the Al-Bunyan Al-Marsoos (Solid Structure), mostly militia from Misrata, say they are aiming to encircle Sirte the last large city stronghold of the Islamic State in Libya.
The forces, who are loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), have moved within 15 kilometers or 10 miles of the city. Only last summer, Misrata brigades had withdrawn from Sirte as the Islamic State took full control. The rival Libyan National Army in the east, under the command of General Khalifa Haftar, launched a two-pronged march to liberate Sirte, weeks ago. He has not yet engaged with IS at all, even though an attack on their eastern border would make defending Sirte much more difficult. He has even launchedOperation Volcanoagainst the Shura Council of Derna, jihadists who were instrumental in driving IS from Derna. The Misrata militia have had to drive back the Islamic State from areas they recently gained, including the key checkpoint town of Abu Grain captured in an offensive l…

Head of State Council of GNA allegedly target of attack at Abu Grain

The State Council of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) condemned an alleged attack on its president Abdulrahman Sewehli while visiting Abu Grain, south of Misrata. Abu Grain was recently recaptured from the Islamic State (IS).
Sewehli went there to be briefed on operations against IS. In a statement the State Council demanded that those involved should be punished. The Council said those responsible were not part of the anti-IS operation. As often happens in Libya, there are conflicting reports about what actually happened. One report claims that Sewehli's convoy was met by the one of the Misratan militias involved in the offensive against IS, Operation Bunyan Marsous, the Aasar militia. The commander, Ibrahim Rafaida, verbally attacked Sewehli over the lack of support that the militia were being given by authorities in Tripoli. During a heated argument Rafaida was said to have slapped Sewehli. A fight developed between the Aasar group and Sewehli's body guards…

US bill on Puerto Rico bailout described as "colonial-style takeover"

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A U.S. House committee has just approved the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act last Wednesday. The legislation gives control of the country's financial institutions to a board whose members are appointed by the U.S. government.
Activists and journalists warn that the bill would constitute a "colonial-style takeover" of Puerto Rico by the U.S. amid the country's crippling debt crisis. JournalistJuan Gonzalezexplained: “The bill has provoked a furor among many island residents because it imposes a seven-member oversight board with dictatorial powers that harken back to colonial days.” At one time, Puerto Rico was a Spanish colony and later a U.S. colony. There is disagreement in Puerto Rico about the relationship the country should have with the U.S. The two main parties differ — the Popular Democratic Party (PPD) wants the country to maintain the island's status with the US as a commonwealth while the New Progressive Party (PNP) wants Pu…

US air travelers can expect long lines this weekend

Peter Neffenger, top administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), told members of the House Homeland Security Committee that passengers will likely continue to experience longer than normal wait times over the summer.

Neffengersaid the agency was promoting screeners from part time to full time, and reassigning hundreds of behavioral detection officers to help on security lines. Millions of Americans are expected to be traveling this Memorial Day weekend. Neffenger claimed that longer lines were produced by passenger numbers greater than forecast, staffing shortages, and changes to a program that had allowed people not signed up for background checks to use expedited security lines. After federal auditors managed to take fake bombs and weapons past security screeners, the TSA tightened security procedures, adding to wait times. To help alleviate the situation, the Congress authorized the agency to hire 768 additional screeners. The number of passengers is estimate…

Dr. Henry Heimlich 96 saves choking 87-year-old with Heimlich Maneuver

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Dr. Henry Heimlich, who first described the Heimlich Maneuver in June of 1974, was said to have used the procedure for the first time on a resident of the nursing home where he stays.
Perry Gaines,maitre d' for the Deupree House dining room, ran toward the table when told that a resident was choking. He is trained in the procedure, now usually called abdominal thrusting, and used it at least twice in the two years he has worked at the Hyde Park senior living home. However, when he got to the table Dr Heimlich was behind the woman ready to perform the procedure, so Gaines let him go ahead. It worked. Typically, Gates would have done it but he deferred to Dr. Heinrich. The room, filled with 125 diners, recovered quickly and the meal went on. Patty Ris, 87, who choked on some hamburger, was sitting beside Dr. Heimlich. She said that God must have seated her beside him. Heinrich swims and exercises regularly. Heimlich told the Cincinatti Enguirer that this was the first time he had act…

GNA forces mostly from Misrata make further gains against IS and approach Sirte

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Misrata militia, part of the forces of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) made more gains against the forces of the Islamic State as they retreat towards their stronghold, Sirte.
General Mohammad al-Ghusri, spokesperson for Operation Strong, as it has been named, claims that Al-Baghla checkpoint has been secured, which is 60 kilometers from Sirte. TheLibyan Gazette must be referring to whole area, not the city itself in its claim: The Libyan army made significant gains against ISIS forces on Wednesday after troops fighting in the Government of National Accord’s (GNA) military campaign against ISIS, called Operation Strong Foundation, killed 100 ISIS fighters in Sirte.Islamic State administrative offices in Sirte are reportedly shut down. Al-Ghasr reported that the militia were advancing rapidly toward Sirte after they had captured 12 IS fighters subsequent to securing Al-Baghla. Al-Ghasri claimed: “We are making remarkable advances against the radical groups of ISIS and …

Thailand closes off two more islands to tourists to protect coral reefs

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Less than 2 weeks ago, the Thai government closed Koh Tachai island indefinitely. On Wednesday, the government chose to ban all tourist activities at three more islands: Koh Khai Nok, Koh Khai Nui, and Koh Khai Nai.
All three of the islands are just off the coast of the popular tourist destination Phuket. The Thai Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DCMR) claims that natural resources around the islands are fast being depleted as tourism has increased. Regional chief of the DCMR, Watcharin Na Thalang, at a meeting with tour operators and guides on Tuesday, said that coral damage is being caused by the coral bleaching process. He said that although the process occurs naturally, human activity accelerates it. At present, up to 60 speedboats visit the three islands each day with tourists staying up to 3 hours snorkelling and engaging in other activities in the water. Already, tourist facilities are being removed from the islands and shortly shops and restaurants will be vacated. W…

Presidency Council of Libyan unity government decides to recognize eastern released currency

In an incredible reversal of policy, the Presidency Council of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) decided to honor the rival banknotes printed in Russia for the Bayda-based Central Bank of Libya.
The bank notes have different security features, watermarks, and serial numbers from the Tripoli-based Central Bank recognized by and cooperating with the GNA. Both the U.S. and the Presidential Council had come out with statements that characterized the eastern notes as counterfeit. A statement by the U.S. embassysaid: The United States concurs with the Presidency Council’s view that such banknotes would be counterfeit and could undermine confidence in Libya’s currency and the CBL’s ability to manage monetary policy to enable economic recovery. There is only one Libyan central bank recognized by the UN, the GNA and most of the international community — the one based in Tripoli. If the PC recognizes the bank notes, in effect the GNA is in practice recognizing the Bayda central b…

Rival Libyan central banks print competing currencies

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The battle between the UN-backed Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) with PM Faiez Serraj and the rival Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) under PM Abdullah Al-Thinni has resulted in several parallel institutions.
There are two National Oil Companies and two Central Banks. One Central Bank is headquartered in Bayda and the other in Tripoli. The UN and most of the international community recognize only the Tripoli-based bank. There have been meetings between officials of the two national oil companies that has resulted in an agreement to begin oil exports after they had ceased. Althoughofficialsof the two banks met in Tunis in an attempt to forge some sort of unification, they appear to be still going their own way with each issuing its own banknotes.Senior diplomats worry that two rival banknotes circulating may undermine the position of the new UN-brokered GNA in Tripoli and cause economic chaos. The UK company De La Rue has long supplied notes for the Libyan governme…

Libyan National Army in Zintan threatens to liberate Tripoli

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There are now several reports that the Libya National Army (LNA) has warned it is only 10 kilometers from Tripoli and will soon be liberating Tripoli.
First reports of the warning came in a tweetyesterday: " Khalifa Hafter's top aide Abdul Raziq Nadouri: Our forces are 10km away from Tripoli, liberating it is very soon." Today there is a report in theLibya Herald. The warning came from Chief of Staff Abdul Razak Al-Nazhuri during the graduation ceremony of 1,600 House of Representatives (HoR) Ministry of the Interior Special Forces in Zintan. He also conducted a tour of forces loyal to the LNA in the region. The recruits are said to have come from all regions of the country. The LNA and General Haftar, the commander-in-chief of the LNA, have warned a number of times that as part of Operation Dignity they would be liberating Tripoli. The ZIntan brigades burned the parliament buildings after Haftar started his operation in Benghazi as shown on the appended video This happe…

Gadaffi's cousin claims thousands from former dictators' brigades serve in Libyan National Army

Ahmed Gaddaf Al-Dam, a cousin of former Libyan dictator Muamar Gadaffi, claims that thousands of former members of Gadaffi's military brigades are now part of Khalifa Haftar's militia or the Libyan National Army (LNA).

Al-Dam made the statement to the London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat. He also claimed he was holding meetings with what he called "yesterday's enemies" both inside Libya and outside it. He said he was carrying out dialogues with his "leaders and their jailers." Al-Dam said once the Tobruk-base House of Representatives (HoR) endorsed the UN-backed Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), he would pledge allegiance to it. However, there have been many meetings of the HoR to vote confidence in the GNA but all have either lacked a quorum or been disrupted. It is not clear when or even if the HoR will vote confidence in the GNA. Even if the vote finally takes place, it will no doubt pass only if Khalifa Haftar, the commander-in-chief of …

GNA-loyal forces consolidate hold on territory regained from the Islamic State near Misrata

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The militia from Misrata who recently retook territory captured by the Islamic State(IS) east and south of Misrata appear to be consolidating their position before advancing further towards the city of Sirte the IS stronghold.

According to the Libya Observer:  The media bureau of Al-Bunyan Al-Marsoos (Solid Structure) military operation said military forces and backup came from western and southern Libya by sea, air and land to join the operation’s forces, who are already positioned in southern and western Sirte.The bureau added that a certain calm prevailed at the front lines as the Misrata militia were consolidating their positions and the military engineering unit was defusing deadly mines.
Air force planes targeted IS positions in the town of Al-Baghia to pave the way for entering it. IS forces are still in control of parts of the road between the city of Al-Jufra and Abu-Grein and are planting land mines to stop the advance of the Solid Structure forces to Al-Baghia checkpoint. Th…

Octopuses multiply while fisheries collapse, and coral reefs bleach

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As many coral reefs are withering causing a loss of habitat for many fish, and as some fisheries virtually collapse, octopuses and other cephalopods are thriving.
There are about 800 living species ofcephalopods including squids, octopuses, and cuttlefish. All live in salt water. Some fishermen call them "inkfish" as most of them can eject what looks like ink as a means to hide themselves. An analysis just published in Current Biology shows that numerous cephalopod species have increased their numbers since 1950. The study was carried out by researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia. Zoe Doubleday, the lead author said: “The consistency was the biggest surprise. Cephalopods are notoriously variable, and population abundance can fluctuate wildly, both within and among species. Cephalopods tend to boom and bust—they’re called the weeds of the sea.”Ironically the Australian study was begun after researchers were investigating a sudden crash in the population of the…