Nov 25 2015

Six In The Morning Wednesday November 25

Missing Russian jet pilot ‘picked up by Syrian army’

A Russian pilot who went missing after his jet was shot down by Turkey over Syria was rescued by the Syrian army, Russia’s ambassador to France said.

Alexander Orlov told Europe 1 radio the pilot had been taken to a Russian base. However, this report has not yet been confirmed by the authorities in Moscow.

The second pilot, and a marine involved in their rescue operation, were killed, Russia’s defence ministry says.

Nato’s chief said it stood by member Turkey but echoed calls for calm.

Nato’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he backed the Turks’ assessment, but added “diplomacy and de-escalation are important to resolve this situation”.

Turkey said the jet had strayed into its airspace but Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted the Su-24 had been hit by an air-to-air missile while flying over Syrian territory.

Last-minute reprieve for disabled man facing hanging in Pakistan

Execution of Abdul Basit, who lost the use of his legs after contracting meningitis in prison, postponed as Pakistan nears 300 hangings a year

Plans to execute a disabled man at dawn on Wednesday morning have been stayed with hours to go by the government of Pakistan, according to his lawyers.

The execution of Abdul Basit, a paraplegic man, has previously been postponed several times after rights groups raised concerns about how a man in a wheelchair would mount the scaffold.

The latest delay, news of which emerged on Tuesday, was reported by lawyers at the Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), a non-profit human rights law firm which welcomed what it described as a “last-minute decision”. The government is understood to have postponed Basit’s execution for two months, according to the campaigning human rights charity, Reprieve.


In Burma, false claims of French rally ‘to kick out Muslims’

Team Observers



In just 24 hours, this Facebook post in Burmese has been shared more than 5,000 times, and “liked” nearly as much. Two photos of massive protests are captioned “a hundred thousand French people protested on November 22 to kick Muslims out of France”. In Burma, where Islamophobia runs rampant, this seemed believable to many.

The post was spotted by Aung Aung, a Burmese Observer living in France. It was published by a popular Facebook page whose name translates to “Knowledge Digest”. Apparently aimed at young people, this page shares all types of news and opinion, including a lot of anti-Muslim and anti-Rohingya rhetoric. In the past few years, the rise of extremist Buddhist nationalists in Burma has led to growing Islamophobia and persecution of the Rohingyas, a Muslim ethnic minority.

Of course, anyone who pays attention to news from France knows that there have been no major anti-Muslim protests since the November 13 Paris attacks. A quick Google Images search shows that the two photos used in the post are not at all what the caption claims they are.

Three militants, civilian killed in Kashmir

Three militants and a civilian were killed in the ongoing operation in an army camp in Tanghdar area in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district. A Junior Commissioned Officer was also injured in the attack. Army spokesman Colonel Manish Kumar told The Hindu that “three militants are confirmed dead. The operation is on. The operation will be called off only when the entire area is sanitised,” said Colonel Kumar. He said a civilian was also killed in the militant attack on an army camp in Tanghdar area, more than 90 km north of Srinagar.

On Wednesday morning, militants stormed an army installation in Tangdhar area, near the Line of Control in Kupwara district. With fog enveloping the entire Valley, the militants are suspected to have launched the attack early in the morning by sneaking in near the army camp through dense forests in Darshak Forest Range.

There are reports of fire and fume bellowing from the camp as fuel depot is believed to have been hit by the fire. Three massive blasts were heard and the gun fire is going on near the camp site till last reports came in.

Opaque U.S. military justice system hides child sex abuse cases

More inmates are in U.S. military prisons for sex crimes against children than for any other offense, an Associated Press investigation has found, but an opaque justice system prevents the public from knowing the full scope of the crimes or how much time the prisoners spend behind bars.

Of the 1,233 inmates confined in the military’s prison network, 61 percent were convicted of sex crimes, according to the latest available data, obtained through the federal open records law. Children were the victims in over half of those cases.

Since the beginning of this year, service members victimized children in 133 out of 301 sex-crime convictions, with charges ranging from rape to distributing child pornography.

Tech world takes on icon-smashing Islamic State with a virtual Palmyra

By drawing on contributors from around the world, the New Palmyra project hopes to reconstruct what jihadists have destroyed at the UNESCO World Heritage site in Syria.

Islamic State jihadists may have destroyed some of ancient Palmyra’s most stunning monuments, but tech gurus and digital archaeologists around the world are determined to bring Syria’s cultural treasure back to life in the virtual world.

In so doing, they also hope to help save the life of a Syrian anti-censorship activist and computer engineer who they fear has been sentenced to death by the regime.

By drawing on architectural plans, data, and photographs collected from contributors across the world, the project hopes to reconstruct what has been destroyed in Palmyra. The UNESCO World Heritage site has been targeted in recent months by IS as part of its systematic destruction of competing cultures’ relics in its self-declared “caliphate.”