Trump’s State of Union Address was all about agenda offerings

Donald Trump’s 1 hour 20 minutes State of Union address on Tuesday, January 30, 2018 was a coalesce of – plea for unity, declaration of a new American moment, promising to suppress immigration, keeping open Guantanamo Bay, and strengthening America’s nuclear arsenal.

Trump said, “If you work hard, if you believe in yourself, if you believe in America, then you can dream anything, you can be anything, and together, we can achieve anything”, as reported by The Times of India.

Trump rattled off his list of achievements which included historic tax cuts, a soaring stock market, eliminating swathes of regulations, and creating 2.4 million jobs.

He assured that the revised tax system plan will be immensely beneficial to the middle class and small business people. He briefly spoke on the health care issues and went on to brag about the investment of $1.5 trillion in infrastructure and partnerships with other states and private sectors.

On immigration debate, Trump repeated his recent pledge of offering citizenship to 1.8 million young immigrants. Referring North Korean nuclear missile regime as “depraved” Trump promised to reconstruct America’s nuclear arsenal and decimate terrorists, putting much more in the Guantanamo Bay. He also vouched for the final defeat of the ISIS.

Though the US President received many enthusiastic applause from the Republicans, the opposition party was mostly silent and headed straight for the exit at the end of the speech. Some of Democratic Party’s female representatives including Nancy Pelosi, wore black in honor of the victims of sexual harassment, while few wore butterfly pins in support of immigrants.

A CBS poll conducted immediately after the speech said that it was a hit among the viewers, as 75% of them liked it and other did not.

Source: Telegraph,Times Of India

At least 27 killed in Baghdad twin suicide attacks

A pair of suicide bombers blew themselves up in central Baghdad early Monday, killing 27 people and injuring much more in the second attack in the Iraqi capital in three days.

“Two suicide bombers blew themselves up in Tayyaran Square in central Baghdad,” said General Saad Maan, spokesman for the Joint Operations Command, which includes the army and the police.

The attackers struck during rush hour at the place which is a bustling centre of commerce and usually crowded by labourers seeking work. The second explosion came less than 10 minutes later.

There was no immediate claim for the bombings, which came just as electoral coalitions began taking shape this week ahead of expected national elections in May. Previous elections have also been marked by such terrorist activities. Monday’s violence raised concerns that despite the military victory over ISIS, this campaign season would be no different.

In December last year, the government had announced the “end of the war” against IS, expelling it from the Baghdad region and other urban areas of Iraq that it earlier controlled.

Sources – Financial Express, The Washington Post

The process of removal of extremist content is progressing on Facebook

Facebook, the world’s largest social media website, has been facing constant pressure in the United States of America and the United Kingdom to intercept and remove extremist content on its enormous platform more effectively. On November 29, the social media giant announced that it had begun removing 99 per cent of the extremist content. As it prepared for a meeting on tackling ‘terror’ content with the European authorities, content related to Al Qaeda and other Islam militant groups was removed.

According to Reuters, Monika Bickert, head of global policy management and Brian Fishman, Facebook’s head of counter-terrorism policy, stated in a blog post that 83 per cent of the extremist content uploaded on Facebook is removed within an hour of their original upload time. In June, Facebook mentioned that it had significantly escalated its AI (artificial intelligence) that enabled swift recognition and removal of such content.

As per NDTV, Bickert and Fisherman stated, “It is still early, but the results are promising, and we are hopeful that AI will become a more important tool in the arsenal of protection and safety on the internet and on Facebook.” They also mentioned that Facebook’s advanced AI managed to remove 99 per cent of the extremist content related to ISIS and Al-Qaeda before it was flagged down by its users. In some cases, it was removed even before the content went live.

The blog post is right on mark with respect to timing, as it comes a week before Facebook and other social media’s meeting with the European Union government and EU executive. The agenda of the meeting will revolve around how to tackle such disturbing content.

Sources:

Reuters, NDTV

Syria: U.S. backed Militias hit by Russian Strike

Syria is a battleground with corpses, blood and ruins for the eyes, as far as they can see.  For years we have seen horrifying images from the civil war, sprouted as an uprising and turned into a full-scale conflict. A Russian strike wounded members of the US backed militias in Syria on Saturday from Russian jets. Six of its fighters were wounded in the strike, The Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of Khurdish and Arab militia fighting with the U.S. led coalition said.

Russia bombed a position east of the Euphrates river where it knew SDF fighters and coalition advisers were stationed- said The Pentagon. However, the jets did not injure any coalition forces.

The SDF accused Damascus of trying to obstruct the fighters, and that “such attacks waste energies that should be used against terrorism… and open the door to side conflicts”, it said. The attacks by Russia backed Syrian army and U.S. supported SDF have at times raised fears of clashes, which may result into greater tension between the world powers. 

Russian military request to strike an area in the province of Deir Ezzor, as they were coalition advisers and US backed Syrian forces there. Bu the Russians decided to carry out the strike anyway.

Ahmed Abu Khawla, the commander of the SDF’s Deir al-Zor military council, said Russian or Syrian fighter jets flew in from government territory before dawn on Saturday. 

The warplanes struck as the SDF waged “heated and bloody battles” in the industrial zone on the eastern bank, seizing factories from Islamic State militants, he said. 

Both the U.S. led coalition and Russia are battling in ISIS in Syria, but they are on two very different sides of the civil war. The United States and its allies support some anti-government rebel groups in their fight to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. And Russia backs his regime.

Sources: Reuters, CNN

18-year-old arrested in connection to London Tube blast

An 18-year-old man has been arrested by the London Police during their ongoing  investigation in the London Tube ‘bucket blast’ at Parsons Green station early on Friday morning.The arrest was made early on Saturday, September 16, by the Kent police in the port area of Dover, under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act.

As reported by News 18, in a statement made by the police to the press, Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said, “Although we are pleased with the progress made, this investigation continues and the threat level remains at critical,”

The Islamic State, better known as ISIS, has claimed responsibility of the attack, which left dozens injured, leaving the people of London in shock and anger. However, Met Police Commissioner Mark Rowley dismissed it saying it was “very routine” of ISIS to claim attacks whether they were responsible for it or not.

This is the fifth terrorist attack since March in Britain, the London and Manchester attacks claimed the lives of 35 people. Prime Minister Theresa May announced on Friday that the level of threat is “critical” and that another attack could be imminent, as she advised the public to be vigilant, in addition to keeping security tight, as military troops would support the police in guarding key areas for public safety.

Sources: News18, Mirror

U.S forces conducts airstrike, kill 11 Taliban insurgents

In the airstrike carried by US troops, at least eleven insurgents of Taliban have been killed in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

According the reports from the office of the provincial government media, the airstrike was carried out in the territory of Bati Kot district in which weapons belonging to the Taliban insurgents were also destroyed.  As reported by Khama press, the official statement quoted, “The militants were hanging out in the area when they were targeted, leaving eleven of them dead and one more wounded.” Taliban has not commented on the deaths so far.

Earlier on tuesday, airstrikes conducted by the U.S. forces in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar, in Haska Mina District, targeted the militants operating under the command of ISIS leader Tariq Afridi, killed at least fourteen militants affiliated with the ISIS-K.

Afghanistan is carrying out an Anti-ISIS as well as anti- Taliban operation with the prime objective of eradicating presence of ISIS affiliates in Nangarhar province and the U.S. forces are providing airstrikes support to the Afghan forces to achieve the targeted. After 9/11 attacks, it had been the principle objective of U.S policy ensure that the country does not become a haven  for radical anti-Western jihadi  terrorist groups.

 

Sources: ANI, Business Standard

Barcelona terror attack: a dreadful day for Spain

Spain is mourning over the death of 13 people, who were killed in a terror attack that took place in Barcelona on Thursday, August 17. More than 100 people were severely injured in this attack.

Though ISIS has taken responsibility for this terror attack, the authorities still have to confirm it.

The fatal event began in the evening when a van rushed through the crowd on the Las Ramblas avenue, a popular tourist spot of Barcelona. The driver escaped the scene, but a police manhunt for him continues, reported the Guardian.

Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called this attack an act of jihadi terrorism.

Later, a second attack took place in a coastal town Cambrils which is around 120 km from Barcelona. In this six bystanders and one police officer were injured.

Post this attack, police officers shot dead five suspects, some of whom were wearing what appeared to be explosive belts. Authorities have claimed that both the attacks are linked. Police have taken two suspects into custody, although neither of them is the driver.

These attacks are also being linked to an earlier explosion that destroyed a house in Alcanar, killing one person and wounding at least one more

Sources – CNN, The Guardian