China’s island-building spree is about more than just military might


Originally posted on Quartz:

China’s playing Monopoly in the South China Sea—only, instead of building hotels on Pacific Avenue, it’s constructing helipads and, in some cases, whole new islands.

In less than a year, shallow reefs in the Spratly Islands have sprouted white-sand outcrops, sporting what look to be Chinese military facilities, according to satellite imagery published this week by IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, a consulting company. The Spratlys are more strategic than they are substantial; under international law, the archipelago could have exclusive claim to the bounteous fishing grounds in the surrounding seas, and to the potentially oil-rich seabed—which may explain why China and five other Asian countries claim the islands.

The new reclaimed islands are only the latest Spratly rockpiles and reefs that, since February 2014, China has willed into existence by heaping sand atop of them–to the alarm among China’s neighbors.

Airbus Defence and Space satellite imagery shows the brisk clip at which China has turned Gaven Reefs into a helipad-supporting island. Airbus Defence and Space satellite imagery shows the brisk clip at which China has turned Gaven Reefs…

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Beheading of Coptic Christians in Libya Shows ISIS Branching Out


particularkev:

Egypt: Persecution News Update

Originally posted on TIME:

The Egyptian government said Sunday that a video apparently showing the execution of Coptic Egyptian hostages in Libya by militants allied to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) was genuine, underscoring the group’s global reach and the unity of message among its adherents.

The five-minute clip, published online on Sunday, depicts the hostages — believed to be 21 Christian Coptic laborers from Egypt, kidnapped from the city of Sirt — being marched onto a beach where they are forced onto the sand and then killed by knife-wielding executioners.

One of the killers, dressed in camouflage, speaks in English. “We will conquer Rome,” he declares, pointing his knife toward the sea.

The video has similar qualities to the filmed executions of ISIS hostages in Iraq and Syria. The hostages wear the same orange jumpsuits as the Western hostages, intended as a reference to the uniforms worn by prisoners…

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Egypt Says Video Showing Beheading of Coptic Christians Genuine


particularkev:

Egypt: Persecution News Update

Originally posted on TIME:

A video purporting to show the mass beheading of Coptic Christian hostages has been released by militants in Libya claiming loyalty to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

The killings raise the possibility that the Islamic militant group — which controls about a third of Syria and Iraq in a self-declared caliphate — has established a direct affiliate less than 500 miles from the southern tip of Italy. One of the militants in the video, speaking English, makes direct reference to that possibility, saying the group now plans to “conquer Rome.”

The Associated Press could not immediately independently verify the video. But the Egyptian government and the Coptic Church, which is based in Egypt, both declared it authentic.

The Egyptian government declared a seven-day mourning period and President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi addressed the nation late Sunday night, pledging resilience in the fight against terrorism.

“These cowardly actions…

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