Anthony Shadid Extended Interview        

Read Bob Abernethy’s extended interview with WASHINGTON POST correspondent Anthony Shadid:
Q: You write at one point about the failure of the occupation in Iraq. What happened? What went wrong?
A: I guess at one level I think we never appreciated … More

The post Anthony Shadid Extended Interview appeared first on Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.


           Iraq Elections        

As Iraqis get ready to elect a new parliament and write a new constitution, we discuss the role of religion in Iraq with Fawaz Gerges, a professor of international affairs and Middle Eastern studies at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. More

The post Iraq Elections appeared first on Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.


          The Christmas Truce of 1914 - '..what might have happened if the truce had spread and this had caused the war to end earlier..' (no replies)        
'.."What If," points out that he thinks … and of course this is speculation, counterfactual history ... that if we had had no Russian Revolution, we wouldn’t have gotten to that point where communism took over, no Lenin, no Stalin, there would be no Treaty of Versailles, mistreated Germany, therefore Hitler would not have had his cause to rise and no Hitler and Nazism and World War II..'

'Deist: One thing that’s so remarkable about the Christmas Truce is this whole question of what might have happened if the truce had spread and this had caused the war to end earlier or be somehow limited. Weintraub addresses this in his book. We may not have had the rise of communism, the Russian Revolution and Stalin and Lenin, we certainly would not have had Versailles. As a result, we might not have had Hitler or Nazism or maybe even FDR. I mean, it’s remarkable to think about, isn’t it?

Denson: That’s right and that’s counterfactual history at its best. Weintraub, in his last chapter, entitled "What If," points out that he thinks … and of course this is speculation, counterfactual history ... that if we had had no Russian Revolution, we wouldn’t have gotten to that point where communism took over, no Lenin, no Stalin, there would be no Treaty of Versailles, mistreated Germany, therefore Hitler would not have had his cause to rise and no Hitler and Nazism and World War II, as I have argued in the past, World War II was simply a continuation of World War I with a truce, and World War I was to see if you could remake the world to benefit the English, the British, and the Russian Czar. World War II was to see if you could keep it that way, what they’d done in World War I. So, it would have changed the whole history, in my opinion, of the twentieth century. And, we are still in the Middle East, suffering the results of the treaties that ended World War I. I mean, the treaties that created Iraq, tried to give Syria to the French, and Israel was created in the middle of an Arab world and it’s still a problem that was created by the World War I treaties. So, all of that, the whole twentieth century, I think, would have been completely different, if it could have ended, say when the troops stopped at Christmas of 1914. It’s amazing to think about that.

..

..H. Kingsley Wood, a cabinet minister, got up and made a speech and he said, he had been in the trenches, he said in the front trenches in Christmas 1914 and he said, I took part in what was well known at the time as a truce. We went over in front of the trenches and shook hands with many of our German enemies and a great number of people and I think we did something that was degrading or wrong and refused to stop, he said, the fact is, we did it. And I then came to the conclusion that I have held very firmly ever since, that if we had been left to ourselves, there never would have been another shot fired. For a fortnight, the troops went on and we were on the most friendly terms and it was only the fact that we were being controlled by others that made it necessary for us to start trying to shoot one another again.

And he blamed the resumption of war on “the grip of the political system which was bad, and I and others who were there at the time, determined there and then, never to rest until we had seen whether we could change it.” And then it concludes. There are people that thrive on war, the military industrial complex and one of the results of the World War I revisionism showed that the people that do the armaments and make money off that, help cause war. There are people, bankers, that have an interest. JP Morgan had a big interest in America getting into World War I and he financed the British Army..'

- The Christmas Truce and the Future of War, December 24, 2016


Context

(Haptopraxeology) - '..We have lost three centuries as a result of ignoring our scholars!'

Christmas Truce of 1914

In The Electric Universe a Future of Peace and Love


'..the mismanagement and corruption of bankers and politicians..

Economics in One Lesson

          Besplatna lutka        


 

 Odi na jedan od ovih proxy-a:
dutchproxyserver.com ili dutchproxy.nu ili teleport.to/Netherlands/
Zalijepi ovu adresu:
http://stardoll.com/en/contest
Ulogiraj se na stardoll i to je to :)

          I Found the One Place Where the Terrorists are Losing, and it's on FX's 'Tyrant'        

It’s been kind of a rough couple millennia for Christians in the Middle East. Whether faced with persecution from Jews, Romans, Palestinians, Syrians, Egyptians, Iraqis, or ISIS, the common denominator has always been Christians remaining strong and showing unbelievable courage, but pretty much living in a world where everyone and everything tries to kill them.


          Scans may show brain changes in Gulf War illness        

Robert Ward, a 1991 Desert Storm vet who’s had Gulf War illness since his 1991 deployment.Robert Ward can't work full time and his constant fatigue makes running a distant memory. The Desert Storm veteran hopes a brain imaging study he took part in will start to shed light on why he and thousands of other Gulf War vets suffer such strange symptoms.



          See & Hear All About It! May 1 @USJCT - Erin Moriarty's Chilling, Blockbuster Report on Stalking @48hours         

PODCAST,
4-28-17

  • Preview via WTIC1080




  • Seating
    LIMITED




    To ensure seating, please R.S.V.P. to marketing@usj.edu

    Before the event please review the links below.

    Erin Moriarty has been a correspondent for "48 Hours" since 1990. She has covered the death of Princess Diana, the JonBenet Ramsey investigation, the murder of financier Edmund Safra, and the war in Iraq.

    Drawing on her training as an attorney, Moriarty has examined some of the most important social and legal issues of the day, including DNA testing of evidence in death-row cases, the abortion controversy and battered women's syndrome. She covered the Oklahoma City bombing, the Columbine High School shootings and the 9/11 investigation, overseas. Her exclusive behind-the-scenes report on the defense of convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was broadcast on "60 Minutes" in 1997.

    Moriarty has received numerous honors, including nine national Emmy Awards.



    "48 Hours" investigates the horrors of stalking
    and how CBS' "NCIS" star Pauley Perrette
    is fighting to change the laws to protect victims







    Victims in sustained fear
    as police responses vary
    including 'victim shaming'


  • STALKED broadcast



  • Moriarty bio








  • Also of interest

  • Solve this case: Who killed Kay Wenal?


  • Photos: Crime scene and clues


  • Solve this case: Can you identify the man in the sketch?




  • Full story


  • Moriarty Twitter


  • "48 Hours" Twitter


  • CBS Sunday Morning Twitter






  • For art's sake: When funding the NEA is in jeopardy








  • Interview w/ Mary Higgins Clark via CBS Sunday Morning






  • USJ Instagram


  • USJ Facebook


  • USJ Twitter


  • USJ website












  • 2017 Spring Speaker Series Debut w/ Poet Kate Rushin



  •           Burn After Reading        

    Who’s Who
    What’s What

    In the World of CIA Fronts, Partners, Proprietaries & Contractors




    NEW BOOK:

    The Almost Classified Guide to CIA Front Companies, Proprietaries & Contractors
    By WAYNE MADSEN
    ISBN: 978-1-365-11196-9


    Cool Justice Editor's Note: Following are excerpts from author Madsen's introduction and the body of the work. Additional suggested reading: News story about Madsen's book via the Washington, D.C. based Justice Integrity Project [link at the bottom of this post].

    EXCERPTS:

    From the Introduction


    One of the most pervasive uses of companies as intelligence partners was under the CIA’s Operation MOCKINGBIRD. During the Cold War, the CIA, often with the approval of corporate executives, infiltrated their agents to work as journalists in newspapers, radio and television networks, wire services, and magazines. The following pages in this book are rife with examples of this penetration of the Fourth Estate – all too many in the opinion of this journalist. The CIA admitted to at least 400 journalists on the agency’s payroll at the height of MOCKINGBIRD. The CIA traditionally understates its capabilities, especially when its covert activities become publicly known. Moreover, the end of the Cold War did not stop the practice of the CIA in infiltrating the media and slant news reports to its wishes.

    *

    An insightful look behind the veils of secrecy into the CIA’s use of fronts, proprietaries, and partners calls into question the purpose of the CIA. Created by President Harry S Truman to serve as a central collector and repository of intelligence, the CIA became much more than that. A few weeks after the United States witnessed the assassination of President Kennedy in the middle of downtown Dallas, Truman penned an op-ed piece that appeared in several newspapers around the country. In it, Truman shared his regret for having created the CIA in 1947:

    “I think it has become necessary to take another look at the purpose and operations of our Central Intelligence Agency—CIA . . . For some time I have been disturbed by the way CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas.

    "I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations. Some of the complications and embarrassment I think we have experienced are in part attributable to the fact that this quiet intelligence arm of the President has been so removed from its intended role that it is being interpreted as a symbol of sinister and mysterious foreign intrigue.”

    *

    The 21st century’s CIA’s partners are more likely to be found among high-tech companies marketing the latest and greatest mobile applications and data mining programs than among banks, law offices, and advertising agencies. However, in the post-World War II era, the CIA’s top and middle echelons were normally found operating through cover as typewriter-pecking journalists, traveling Madison Avenue admen, corporate lawyers, and chain-smoking oilmen. In the 1970s and 80s, CIA contractors and partners began showing up in the high-tech field, with database, local area networking, and on-line information retrieval systems attracting the most interest by Langley.

    *

    As this book went to press, the smart phone game application Pokémon Go fad was sweeping the planet. Unbeknownst to many of the on-line game’s avid fan’s was the connection of the game’s developers to the CIA’s venture capital firm IN-Q-TEL. All users saw their geo-location and other smart phone data being swept up by a CIA partner firm.

    SELECTED ENTRIES

    Amazon, Inc. [CIA contractor]. Company provides cloud computing services for the CIA. Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos also owns The Washington Post.

    American Historical Society. [CIA partner]. Many society officials were OSS/CIA officers.

    American Press Institute. [CIA front]. Operating out of Columbia University, the institute’s director in the 1950s was a CIA officer.

    AmeriCares. [CIA partner]. A non-profit organization that is often the “first in” at refugee situations. Founded by tycoon J. Peter Grace, a board chairman of the CIA front, the American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD) and a trustee of another CIA front, the American Committee for Liberation from Bolshevism, AmeriCares was involved in funding the Nicaraguan contras. The group has also provided the CIA with recruiting opportunities at mass refugee sites, particularly in Latin America and Asia.

    Bechtel Corporation. [CIA contractor]. Bechtel is a large construction company that has included former CIA director Richard Helms, CIA pseudonym “Fletcher M. Knight,” among its executive ranks. Bechtel was active in providing corporate cover for the OSS in the Middle East during World War II. Bechtel has been a consummate service company for various CIA operations, including support for the CIA-inspired coup against the Syrian government in 1949, the Iranian government of Prime Minister Mohamed Mossadeq in 1953, and President Sukarno of Indonesia in 1965. From the 1960s to the 1970s, Bechtel provided cover for CIA agents in Libya under both the regime of King Idris and his successor, Muammar Qaddafi. Sometimes called a “secret arm” of the CIA, Bechtel’s executives included those who would join President Reagan’s Cabinet, including Secretary of State George Schultz and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger.

    Before World War II, Steve Bechtel formed a military-industrial complex partnership with John McCone. McCone later became the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and later, director of the CIA. The CIA has used Bechtel to provide cover for non-official cover CIA operatives abroad.

    Blackstone Investment Group. [CIA front]. With offices in Washington, DC and Moscow, arranged for the purchase of KGB documents following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Among the documents sought by the front company were any related to illegal CIA activities during the Cold War, including the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

    Bourbon and Beefsteak Bar and Restaurant. [CIA front]. Opened in 1967 in King’s Cross in Sydney, Australia. Served as a rendezvous point for CIA, Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), and organized crime figures. Its proprietor was Bernie Houghton, a CIA operative with links to Nugan Hand Bank, CIA weapons smuggler Edwin Wilson, and CIA clandestine services officers Theodore Shackley, Rafael Quintero, and Thomas Clines.

    Center for Democracy. [CIA front]. Administered under the aegis of Boston University, the center maintained offices in Boston, Washington, DC, Guatemala City, and Strasbourg, France. Involved in CIA operations in eastern Europe, Central America, and Africa.

    Colt Patent Firearms Company. [CIA partner]. Based in Hartford, Connecticut, provided corporate cover for CIA officers operating abroad.

    Daddario & Burns. [CIA partner]. Headed by former OSS officer Emilio Daddario, a Democratic Representative from Connecticut, the Hartford-based law firm provided services to the CIA.

    DC Comics. [CIA partner]. Worked with the International Military Information Group (IMIG), a joint CIA/Pentagon unit at the State Department, to disseminate propaganda comic books, featuring Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, in Serbo-Croatian and Albanian, to youth in the Balkans during the military conflicts in that region.

    Disney Corporation. [CIA partner]. CIA agents who were adept at creating front companies and shell corporations in Florida, worked closely with Disney in preparation for the construction of Disney World near Orlando, Florida. OSS veteran “Wild Bill” Donovan and CIA shell company expert Paul Helliwell helped create two fake Florida cities, Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, as well as a number of shell corporations, to keep secret the plans for Disney World. This kept land prices low because real estate speculators were unaware of the prospective value of the land in a desolate area of central Florida.

    Emory School of Medicine. [CIA partner]. Located in Atlanta, Georgia. Involved in the CIA’s MK-ULTRA behavioral modification project.

    Enron Corporation [CIA partner]. Houston-based firm that was used by the CIA to provide commercial cover for its agents around the world. There were at least 20 CIA employees on Enron’s payroll. Andre Le Gallo, a former official of the CIA’s Operations Directorate, went to work as a corporate intelligence officer for Enron.

    Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC). [CIA front]. Officially established by American Trotskyists, the group was penetrated by CIA operatives. The FPCC New Orleans office was a CIA front that provided cover for the anti-Fidel Castro activities of Lee Harvey Oswald, Clay Shaw, and David Ferrie, among others. The New Orleans FPCC office was located at 544 Camp Street and shared the same building entrance with Guy Banister Associates, Inc., a private detective agency, the address for which was 531 Lafayette Street and around the corner from 544 Camp Street.

    In December 1963, after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the FPCC ceased all U.S. operations.

    General Electric Company. [CIA partner]. Based in Fairfield, Connecticut, provided corporate cover for CIA officers operating abroad.

    General Foods Corporation. [CIA partner]. Advertising account at CIA’s Robert Mullen Company handled by an active CIA employee.

    Google, Inc. [CIA partner]. Developed as a result of a research grant by the CIA and Pentagon to Stanford University’s Department of Computer Science. The CIA referred to the research as the “google project.”

    Greenberg Traurig. [CIA partner]. Washington, DC “connected” law firm.

    Guy Banister Associates, Inc. [CIA partner]. New Orleans private detective agency headed by former FBI agent Guy Banister. The detective agency coordinated the activities of various anti-Castro Cuban groups in New Orleans, including Banister’s own Anti-Communist League of the Caribbean, as well as the Cuban Revolutionary Council, the Cuban Democratic Revolutionary Front, Friends of Democratic Cuba, and the Crusade to Free Cuba Committee.

    Banister and Associates shared office space with the CIA’s New Orleans front, the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, headed by Lee Harvey Oswald.

    Hale and Dorr. [CIA partner]. Boston-based law firm that provided cover for CIA’s Independence and Brown Foundations.

    Halliburton. [CIA contractor]. Based in Houston, it is the world’s largest oil service company. Recipient of a number of CIA sole-source contracts for services worldwide.

    Harper and Row, Inc. [CIA partner]. Manuscripts submitted to the New York publisher that dealt with intelligence matters, particularly CIA operations, were turned over to the CIA for censoring edits before publication.

    Hewlett Packard Corporation. [CIA partner]. Sold computers to Iraq for Saddam Hussein’s missile program with the knowledge and approval of the CIA.

    Hill & Knowlton. [CIA partner]. Public relations firm that teamed with the CIA on a number of operations. Hill & Knowlton’s numerous offices abroad provided cover for CIA agents. One known Hill & Knowlton office that was a CIA front operation was in Kuala Lumpur.

    Kerr-McGee. [CIA partner]. Provided corporate cover for CIA officers operating overseas.

    Kissinger Associates, Inc. [CIA partner]. New York-based international consulting firm founded by former Secretary of State and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger. Former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft is a co-owner. The firm provided support to the CIA-linked American Ditchley Foundation and the Bilderberg Group. Much of the 1982 seed money for Kissinger Associates was provided by Goldman Sachs.

    Knight Foundation. [CIA partner]. Also known as the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Based in Miami, the foundation provides funding for various CIA-connected media operations in the United States and around the world.

    Kroll Inc. [CIA partner]. Founded in 1972 by Jules Kroll, who had links to both U.S. and Israeli intelligence. Based in Manhattan. French domestic law enforcement believed Kroll’s Paris office was a CIA front. Kroll handled the security for the World Trade Center after the 1993 terrorist bombing and continued to be responsible for security up to, during, and after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack. Kroll employed former FBI assistant director for counter-terrorism John O’Neill, who died in the collapse of the World Trade Center.

    Lincoln Savings and Loan. [CIA partner]. Based in Irvine, California and headed by notorious swindler Charles Keating, Jr., involved in laundering funds for the Iran-contra scandal.

    Lone Star Cement Corporation. [CIA partner]. Based in Stamford, Connecticut and linked to the Bush family, provided corporate cover for CIA officers operating abroad. Involved in the Iran-contra scandal.

    Mary Carter Paint Company. [CIA front]. A money-laundering operation for the CIA. Involved in casinos in the Bahamas.

    Monsanto. [CIA partner]. The firm contracted with former CIA official Cofer Black’s Total Intelligence Solutions (TIS), a subsidiary of the CIA-connected Blackwater USA, later Xe Services, to monitor animal rights groups, anti-genetically modified (GM) food activists, and other groups opposed to Monsanto’s agri-business operations worldwide.

    National Enquirer. [CIA partner]. The tabloid’s founder, Generoso (Gene) Pope, Jr., worked for the CIA’s psychological warfare unit and the agency’s Italy branch in 1950. In 1952, Pope acquired The New York Enquirer broadsheet and transformed it into a tabloid, renaming it The National Enquirer. This transformation bore the imprimatur of the CIA’s Operation MOCKINGBIRD media influence program.

    Newsweek. [CIA partner]. Magazine reporters and stringers fed information to the CIA. Newsweek’s stringers in southeastern Europe and the Far East were CIA agents. When Newsweek was bought by The Washington Post Company in 1961, cooperation between the magazine and the CIA increased. It was a participant in the CIA’s Operation MOCKINGBIRD media influence program. Much of the staff of Newsweek was absorbed into a new online publication, The Daily Beast, which continues to disseminate CIA-influenced articles. See Washington Post.

    Nieman Foundation. [CIA partner]. Located at Harvard University, the foundation awarded Nieman Fellowships, some on behalf of the CIA, for foreign journalists to study at Harvard. The journalists were subjected to CIA recruitment efforts prior to their returning to their home countries.

    Pamela Martin & Associates. [CIA partner], Escort firm run by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called “DC Madam.” During her 2008 trial for mail fraud, Palfrey attempted to invoke the Classified Information Procedures Act in order to discuss her relationship with the CIA. The U.S. Court refused Palfrey’s request and she was convicted and later said to have committed suicide before her sentencing hearing in Washington, DC. One of her clients was Randall Tobias, the head of the CIA-connected USAID. Another was Louisiana Republican senator David Vitter.

    Paris Review. [CIA front]. Literary magazine edited by George Plimpton. Published works by Jack Kerouac and Samuel Beckett. The magazine’s co-founder, Peter Matthiessen, relied on his affiliation with the magazine as his CIA cover.

    Quaker Oats Company. [CIA partner]. Worked with the CIA and Atomic Energy Commission to place trace amounts of radiation in breakfast cereal served to boys at the Fernald School for the mentally retarded in Waltham, Massachusetts.

    Radio Corporation of America. [CIA partner]. Provided corporate cover for CIA officers operating abroad, particularly in Iran, Philippines, Japan, and West Germany. Provided technical assistance to CIA-financed clandestine and propaganda radio stations worldwide, including Radio Free Europe. RCA founder David Sarnoff was a major supporter of CIA operations, including propaganda dissemination around the world. RCA chairman and chief executive officer Thornton F. Bradshaw was active in the operations of the CIA-linked American Ditchley Foundation.

    Reily Coffee Company. [CIA partner]. Also known as William B. Reily Coffee Company and based in New Orleans, this company employed Lee Harvey Oswald and a number of other U.S. government employees, many of whom were suspected CIA officers.

    Robert M. Mullen Company. [CIA proprietary]. A Washington, DC public relations firm, it was used as a front for CIA activities. E. Howard Hunt, the CIA agent, worked for Robert Mullen when he was arrested in the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington in 1972. The Senate Watergate Committee reported that “the Mullen and Company has maintained a relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency since its incorporation in 1959. It provided covers for agents in Europe (Stockholm), Latin America (Mexico City), and the Far East (Singapore) at the time of the Watergate break-in.”

    Rockefeller Foundation. [CIA partner]. Used by the CIA to direct scholarships and grants to the Third World and Eastern Europe. Rockefeller Foundation money was funneled to the American Committee for a United Europe (ACUE), created in 1948. The chairman of ACUE was OSS chief William J. Donovan and the vice chairman was Allen Dulles. One of ACUE’s board members was Walter Bedell Smith, the first CIA director.

    Summa Corporation. [CIA partner]. Owned by Howard Hughes, Summa is believed to have skimmed gambling profits from the Sands, Desert Inn, Frontier, Silver Slipper, Castaways, and Landmark casinos in Las Vegas and Harold’s Club in Reno for the CIA and the Mafia. Provided financial cover for the CIA’s Glomar Explorer project.

    Teneo Intelligence. [CIA partner]. Branch of Teneo Holdings, which is headquartered in New York. Teneo Holdings’s intelligence branch includes former CIA officials. Teneo is closely linked to former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. Teneo Intelligence has offices in New York, London, Rome, Brussels, Dubai, Bogota, New Delhi, and Tokyo.

    Texas Commerce Bank (TCB). [CIA partner]. Houston-based bank founded by the family of James Baker III. Texas Commerce Bank was used to provide commercial cover for CIA agents. After serving as vice president for Texas Commerce Bank in Caracas from 1977 to 1979, Jeb Bush joined his father’s presidential campaign in 1980. Serving with Bush on the campaign was Robert Gambino, the CIA deputy director of security who gave Bush his orientation brief at Langley in 1977.

    Kenneth Lay, the chairman of Enron, which had its own links to the CIA, served on the board of Texas Commerce Bank. Texas Commerce Bank was acquired by Chemical Bank in 1987.

    The bank provided major loans to Howard Hughes’s Summa Corporation. See Summa Corporation.

    United Fruit Company [CIA partner]. Involved in 1954 CIA overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz government in Guatemala. Published the Latin America Report, a publication that was a CIA front used for clandestine activities. The CIA transferred weapons to United Fruit employees in Guatemala who were involved in undermining the Arbenz government. The joint CIA-United Fruit plan was code named OPERATION FORTUNE. Company provided an airfield in Guatemala for the CIA’s training of Cuban exiles for the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.

    U.S. Rubber Company. [CIA partner]. Headquartered in Naugatuck, Connecticut and later called Uniroyal, provided corporate cover to CIA officers operating abroad. Included those operating under the cover of the Dominion Rubber Company of Canada, a subsidiary of U.S. Rubber Company.

    U.S. Youth Council (USYC). [CIA front]. Founded in 1945 and based in New York. Some 90 percent of its funds came from the CIA. USYC received funding from the Foundation for Youth and Student Affairs (FYSA), a CIA front. The USYC was composed of American Youth Hostels, Camp Fire Girls, 4-H, American Unitarian Youth, National Catholic Welfare Conference, National Students Assembly, YMCA and YWCA.

    Wackenhut. [CIA contractor]. Wackenhut, a Palm Beach Gardens, Florida-based security firm, stood accused of providing the CIA with specialized services around the world, including Chile, Greece, and El Salvador. Its Venezuelan branch, Wackenhut Venezolana, C.A., was accused in 2002 of involvement in the CIA’s coup against President Hugo Chavez. William Casey served as Wackenhut’s outside counsel before becoming CIA director in 1981.

    Wackenhut eventually merged into the global security firm G4S.

    Washington Post. [CIA partner]. The Washington Post was part of the CIA’s Operation MOCKINGBIRD, the agency’s media influence project. Post publisher Phil Graham was a close friend and associate of MOCKINGBIRD chief Frank Wisner, Sr. and CIA director Allen Dulles. Wisner assisted Graham in acquiring The Washington Times-Herald and WTOP radio, creating a sizable CIA-influenced media operation in the nation’s capital.

    W. R. Grace. [CIA partner]. Provided corporate cover to CIA officers operating abroad, particularly in Latin America. Provided donations to CIA front foundations.

  • News story about Madsen's book via The Justice Integrity Project



  •           Elysium Artwork        
    We've finally been cleared to show some of the work we produced for Elysium! 
    So here are some of my favourite designs from the thousands we at Weta created.

    ROBOTICS
























    Fashion model robots:








    SYNTHETICS














    MILITARY HARDWARE





















    VEHICLES












    GRAPHIC NOVEL IMAGES
















              ISIS declares Islamic state across Syria and Iraq; human rights group reports rebels being crucified        
    From CNN:  Emboldened by a weakened Iraqi government that is struggling to stop their murderous advance, the extremists of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria declared over the weekend that they have set up a caliphate spanning large areas of the two countries. In a newly released audio message and written statement, purportedly from […]
              Iraq to India        

    Help for Iraqis seeking medical treatment/procedure in India. “Can I get quality medical treatment in India?” “How do I get connected with the right Doctors?” “What are the medical visa procedures?” The questions you face can seem as numerous as the sources of advice offering answers. Mirage Healthcare provides good advice, practical travel information, and […]

    The post Iraq to India appeared first on Medical Treatment, Medical Treatment centre, Medical healthcare Centre.


              2016: 122 journalists killed globally, 5 in India        

    New Delhi: As many as 122 journalists and media professionals were killed in 2016 globally, 93 of them in targeted killings and others in natural disasters and accidents, while India witnessed death of five scribes and was eighth on a list topped by Iraq, according to a new report.

    The targeted killings, including murders, bomb attacks and crossfire incidents, span 23 countries in Africa, Asia Pacific, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East and Arab World regions, said International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in its annual report released Friday.

    The IFJ said the number (93 targeted killings) was down from 112 targeted killings in 2015 while Iraq still had the largest number of media killings with 15, ahead of Afghanistan (13) and Mexico (11).

    These were followed by Yemen (8), Guatemala (6), Syria (6), India and Pakistan (5 in both), according to the statistics published by the largest global federation of journalists' trade unions.

    In addition to the 93 targeted killings, 20 Brazilian sports journalists perished in a plane crash over the city of Medellin in Colombia, a country where for the first time in many years no killing was recorded this year, against three in 2015. Nine Russian journalists were killed in a military plane crash.

    Although the 2016 figures for targeted killings of media professionals are down from the previous year's, the IFJ has cautioned against complacency citing reports of rising threats, intimidation and self-censorship as evidence that attacks on freedom of expression remain at critical levels.

    In India, Tarun Mishra, Bureau Chief of Jan Sandesh Times, died on 14 February; Indradev Yadav, Journalist with Taaza TV, on 16 May; Rajdeo Ranjan, Bureau Chief of Dainik Hindustan on 13 May; Kishore Dave, Bureau Chief of Jai Hind on 22 August and Dharmendra Singh, Correspondent of Dainik Bhaskar on 12 November, the report noted.

    In 2015, India had reported targeted killings of six media professionals, including those from news channel Aaj Tak and Hindi daily Dainik Jagaran, the report states.

    Noting that India along with Yemen, Pakistan and Syria form a group which saw little or no change in the numbers of killings from 2015, IFJ President Philippe Leruth said, "Any decrease in violence against journalists and media staff is always welcome but these statistics and the continued deliberate targeting of media workers in many incidents causing loss of life give little room for comfort nor ground for hope to see the end of the current media safety crisis." 

    The IFJ, which claims to represent more than 6,00,000 journalists in 140 countries, has recorded at least 2,297 killings of media professionals in targeted assassinations, cross-fire incidents and bomb attacks till 2015.

    2016: 122 journalists killed globally, 5 in India
    Section: 
    Yes
    News Source: 
    Facebook Instant Article: 
    No

              A COPA DAS CONFEDERAÇÕES        

    Seleção Brasileira: maior vencedora da Copa das Confederações




    Vai começar o evento que serve de "esquenta" para a Copa do Mundo. A partir de junho a Copa das Confederações acontecerá em solo brasileiro, como ocorre sempre de 4 em 4 anos antecedendo o torneio principal. Oito seleções dos 5 continentes vão disputar o título que pode não ter o gostinho de um Mundial, mas que certamente servirá de cartão de visitas para o público que vai acompanhar a competição.

    A Copa das Confederações já vai entrar em sua 9ª edição. No início, em 1992, até o nome era diferente, Copa do Rei Fahd, já que era organizada pelo monarca em seu país, a Arábia Saudita. Na ocasião apenas 4 equipes participaram do torneio: Argentina (campeã da Copa América de 1991), Estados Unidos (Campeão da CONCACAF de 1991), Costa do Marfim (campeã da Copa Africana de Nações de 1992) e Arábia Saudita (país-sede). Os argentinos foram os primeiros campeões da história da competição ao bater os donos da casa por 3 a 1 na decisão.

    O segundo campeonato ocorreu 3 anos depois também na Arábia Saudita e com o mesmo nome "Copa do Rei Fahd", mas o formato da disputa foi alterado para 6 participantes divididos em 2 grupos de 3 seleções. A Europa foi representada no certame pela primeira vez com a Dinamarca, campeã continental de 1992. Os nórdicos acabaram ficando com o título ao baterem a Argentina por 2 a 0 na final.

    A partir de então a FIFA tomou as rédeas da organização com mais mudanças: o torneio passou a se chamar Copa das Confederações; ao invés de apenas 6 seleções, o número de participantes aumentou para 8 em dois grupos de 4 cada; além dos campeões de todos os continentes e do país-sede, o último campeão mundial também passou a fazer parte da lista de classificados; e, por fim, a peridiocidade de 2 em 2 anos até a alteração final para 4 em 4 depois da edição de 2005. A Arábia Saudita foi a primeira sede do campeonato organizado pela entidade maior do futebol e o Brasil, seu primeiro campeão.

    Desde então o formato de disputa é o mesmo, só a sede e o período de realização é que sofreram novas alterações. Depois de 2005, quando ocorreu na Alemanha, a Copa passou a ser realizada nos países anfitriões do Mundial subsequente e num período de 4 em 4 anos.

    Em 2013 o Brasil será sede da Copa das Confederações, que receberá além dos anfitriões o México (campeão da CONCACAF de 2011), o Japão (campeão da Copa da Ásia de 2011) e a Itália (vice-campeã da Europa em 2012) no Grupo A, e Espanha (campeão do mundo e da Europa em 2012), Uruguai (campeão da Copa América de 2011), Nigéria (campeã da Copa Africana de Nações de 2013) e o surpreendente - e exótico - Tahiti (campeão da Copa das Nações da Oceania de 2012) no B. O evento ocorrerá no período de 15 a 30 de junho em 6 sedes: Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Fortaleza, Recife, Rio da Janeiro e Salvador.

    O maior vencedor do torneio é o Brasil com 3 títulos, seguido da França com 2. O mexicano Cuauhtémoc Blanco e o brasileiro Ronaldinho Gaúcho são os maiores artilheiros de todas as edições com 9 gols cada. Já o "Baixinho" Romário é o maior artiheiro de uma única edição com 7 gols em 1997.

    Abaixo, dados e estatísticas das 8 edições realizadas do torneio que esquenta os tamborins da Copa do Mundo.


    COPA DAS CONFEDERAÇÕES (originalmente Copa do Rei Fahd)


    * Peridiocidade: 4 em 4 anos (desde 2005)

    * Maior vencedor: Brasil (3 vezes)

    * Maiores artilheiros: Cuauhtémoc Blanco/MEX e Ronaldinho Gaúcho/BRA (9 gols)

    * Seleção que mais participou: Brasil (7 vezes, contando a de 2013)

    * Maior vitória: Brasil 6 x 0 Austrália em 21/12/1997 no estádio Rei Fahd em Ryad/ASA pela final

    * Maior público: México 4 x 3 Brasil em 04/08/1999 no estádio Azteca na Cidade do México/MEX pela final (110 mil pessoas)

    * Edições:

    1992 (sede: Arábia Saudita)

    - Participantes: Arábia Saudita, Argentina, Costa do Marfim e Estados Unidos
    - Campeã: Argentina
    - Vice: Arábia Saudita
    - Final: Argentina 3 x 1 Arábia Saudita
    - Artilheiros: Batistuta/ARG e Murray/EUA - 2 gols

    1995 (sede: Arábia Saudita)

    - Participantes: Arábia Saudita, Argentina, Dinamarca, Japão, México e Nigéria
    - Campeã: Dinamarca
    - Vice: Argentina
    - Final: Dinamarca 2 x 0 Argentina
    - Artilheiro: Luis García/MEX - 3 gols

    1997 (sede: Arábia Saudita)

    - Participantes: África do Sul, Arábia Saudita, Austrália, Brasil, Emirados Árabes Unidos, México, República Tcheca e Uruguai
    - Campeão: Brasil
    - Vice: Austrália
    - Final: Brasil 6 x 0 Austrália
    - Artilheiro: Romário/BRA - 7 gols

    1999 (sede: México)

    - Participantes: Alemanha, Arábia Saudita, Brasil, Bolívia, Egito, Estados Unidos, México e Nova Zelândia
    - Campeão: México
    - Vice: Brasil
    - Final: México 4 x 3 Brasil
    - Artilheiros: Blanco/MEX, Ronaldinho Gaúcho/BRA e Al-Otaibi/ASA - 6 gols

    2001 (sedes: Japão e Coréia do Sul)

    - Participantes: Austrália, Brasil, Camarões, Canadá, Coréia do Sul, França, Japão e México
    - Campeã: França
    - Vice: Japão
    - Final: Japão 0 x 1 França
    - Artilheiros: Murphy/AUS, Carrière/FRA, Wiltord/FRA, Pirès/FRA, Vieira/FRA, Sun-Hong/CRS e Suzuki/JAP - 2 gols

    2003 (sede: França)

    Participantes: Brasil, Camarões, Colômbia, Estados Unidos, França, Nova Zelândia e Turquia
    Campeã: França
    Vice: Camarões
    Final: França 1 x 0 Camarões
    Artilheiro: Henry/FRA - 4 gols

    2005 (sede: Alemanha)

    - Participantes: Argentina, Austrália, Alemanha, Brasil, Grécia, Japão, México e Tunísia
    - Campeão: Brasil
    - Vice: Argentina
    - Final: Brasil 4 x 1 Argentina
    - Artilheiro: Adriano/BRA - 5 gols

    2009 (sede: África do Sul)

    - Participantes: África do Sul, Brasil, Egito, Espanha, Estados Unidos, Iraque, Itália e Nova Zelândia
    - Campeão: Brasil
    - Vice: Estados Unidos
    - Final: Estados Unidos 2 x 3 Brasil
    - Artilheiro: Luís Fabiano/BRA - 5 gols






    Logo: arquivo pessoal
    Foto: CBF


              Was America Attacked by Muslims on 9/11?        
    Was America Attacked by Muslims on 9/11? Much of America’s foreign policy since 9/11 has been based on the assumption that it was attacked by Muslims on that day. This assumption was used, most prominently, to justify the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is now widely agreed that the use of 9/11 as a […]
              ISIS Dealt Significant Blow After Iraq Retakes Mosul, Official Says        
    ISIS Dealt Significant Blow After Iraq Retakes Mosul, Official Says By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News, Defense Media Activity ...

    This is an article summary only. Click on the article's title to enjoy the complete article
              Inherent Resolve Strikes Target ISIS in Syria, Iraq        
    Inherent Resolve Strikes Target ISIS in Syria, Iraq From a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve News Release ...

    This is an article summary only. Click on the article's title to enjoy the complete article
              Military Strikes Continue Against ISIS Terrorists in Syria, Iraq        
    Military Strikes Continue Against ISIS Terrorists in Syria, Iraq From a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve News Release ...

    This is an article summary only. Click on the article's title to enjoy the complete article
              January 9, 2016 Stacy on the Right Hour 3        

    Iraqi "refugees" planned terror attacks


              The travesty that is Australia's asylum seeker offshore detention policy -"If they had arrived by airplane and with a tourist visa then they would be here."         

    It seems the truth will out.

    After the United States completes its vetting of asylum seekers held in overseas detention by the Australian Government it is not obliged to take even one of those individuals U.S. immigration officials have examined.

    In May 2017 the Department of Immigration and Border Protection confirmed 268 people had completed their second-stage security interview with US officials: 220 in Nauru and 48 on Manus Island.

    U.S. immigration officials halted screening interviews and departed Nauru on 14 July 2017, two weeks short of their scheduled timetable and a day after Washington said the US had reached its annual refugee intake cap.

    However, under the original agreement once that vetting is completed Australia becomes obliged to resettle between 20 and 50 people under a U.S. "Protection Transfer Arrangement" in Costa Rica set up to resettle refugees from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

    Prime Minister Turnbull verbally changed that undertaking to an open-ended number of people the Trump Administration might be “very keen on getting out of the United States”.

    There is no indication that the U.S. Government intends to complete its vetting of those detained on Nauru and Manus islands.

    The Washington Post, 3 August 2017:

    The Washington Post has obtained transcripts of two conversations President Trump had with foreign leaders: one with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and another with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
    The transcripts were prepared by the White House but have not been released. The Post is publishing reproductions rather than original documents in order to protect sources. The reproductions below also include minor spelling and grammatical mistakes that appeared in the documents………………


    JANUARY 28, 2017 FROM 5:05 TO 5:29 P.M. EST.

    TURNBULL
    Good evening.

    TRUMP
    Mr. Prime Minister, how are you?

    TURNBULL
    I am doing very well.

    TRUMP
    And I guess our friend Greg Norman, he is doing very well?

    TURNBULL
    He is a great mutual friend yes.

    TRUMP
    Well you say hello to him. He is a very good friend. By the way thank you very much for taking the call. I really appreciate it. It is really nice.

    TURNBULL
    Thank you very much. Everything is going very well. I want to congratulate you and Mike Pence on being sworn in now. I have spoken to you both now as you know. I know we are both looking to make our relationship which is very strong and intimate, stronger than ever – which I believe we can do.

    TRUMP
    Good.

    TURNBULL
    I believe you and I have similar backgrounds, unusual for politicians, more businessman but I look forward to working together.

    TRUMP
    That is exactly right. We do have similar backgrounds and it seems to be working in this climate – it is a crazy climate. Let me tell you this, it is an evil time but it is a complex time because we do not have uniforms standing in front of us. Instead, we have people in disguise. It is brutal. This ISIS thing â€“ it is something we are going to devote a lot of energy to it. I think we are going to be very successful.

    TURNBULL
    Absolutely. We have, as you know, taken a very strong line on national security and border protection here and when I was speaking with Jared Kushner just the other day and one of your immigration advisors in the White House we reflected on how our policies have helped to inform your approach. We are very much of the same mind. It is very interesting to know how you prioritize the minorities in your Executive Order. This is exactly what we have done with the program to bring in 12,000 Syrian refugees, 90% of which will be Christians. It will be quite deliberate and the position I have taken – I have been very open about it – is that it is a tragic fact of life that when the situation in the Middle East settles down – the people that are going to be most unlikely to have a continuing home are those Christian minorities. We have seen that in Iraq and so from our point of view, as a final destination for refugees, that is why we prioritize. It is not a sectarian thing. It is recognition of the practical political realities. We have a similar perspective in that respect.

    TRUMP
    Do you know four years ago Malcom, I was with a man who does this for a living. He was telling me, before the migration, that if you were a Christian from Syria, you had no chance of coming to the United States. Zero. They were the ones being persecuted. When I say persecuted, I mean their heads were being chopped off. If you were a Muslim we have nothing against Muslims, but if you were a Muslim you were not persecuted at least to the extent – but if you were a Muslim from Syria that was the number one place to get into the United States from. That was the easiest thing. But if you were a Christian from Syria you have no chance of getting into the United States. I just thought it was an incredible statistic. Totally true – and you have seen the same thing. It is incredible.

    TURNBULL
    Well, yes. Mr. President, can I return to the issue of the resettlement agreement that we had with the Obama administration with respect to some people on Nauru and Manus Island. I have written to you about this and Mike Pence and General Flynn spoke with Julie Bishop and my National Security Advisor yesterday. This is a very big issue for us, particularly domestically, and I do understand you are inclined to a different point of view than the Vice President.

    TRUMP
    Well, actually I just called for a total ban on Syria and from many different countries from where there is terror, and extreme vetting for everyone else – and somebody told me yesterday that close to 2,000 people are coming who are really probably troublesome. And I am saying, boy that will make us look awfully bad. Here I am calling for a ban where I am not letting anybody in and we take 2,000 people. Really it looks like 2,000 people that Australia does not want and I do not blame you by the way, but the United States has become like a dumping ground. You know Malcom, anybody that has a problem – you remember the Mariel boat lift, where Castro let everyone out of prison and Jimmy Carter accepted them with open arms. These were brutal people. Nobody said Castro was stupid, but now what are we talking about is 2,000 people that are actually imprisoned and that would actually come into the United States. I heard about this – I have to say I love Australia; I love the people of Australia. I have so many friends from Australia, but I said – geez that is a big ask, especially in light of the fact that we are so heavily in favor, not in favor, but we have no choice but to stop things. We have to stop. We have allowed so many people into our country that should not be here. We have our San Bernardino’s, we have had the World Trade Center come down because of people that should not have been in our country, and now we are supposed to take 2,000. It sends such a bad signal. You have no idea. It is such a bad thing.

    TURNBULL
    Can you hear me out Mr. President?

    TRUMP
    Yeah, go ahead.

    TURNBULL
    Yes, the agreement, which the Vice President just called the Foreign Minister about less than 24 hours ago and said your Administration would be continuing, does not require you to take 2,000 people. It does not require you to take any. It requires, in return, for us to do a number of things for the United States – this is a big deal, I think we should respect deals.

    TRUMP
    Who made the deal? Obama?

    TURNBULL
    Yes, but let me describe what it is. I think it is quite consistent. I think you can comply with it. It is absolutely consistent with your Executive Order so please just hear me out. The obligation is for the United States to look and examine and take up to and only if they so choose – 1,250 to 2,000. Every individual is subject to your vetting. You can decide to take them or to not take them after vetting. You can decide to take 1,000 or 100. It is entirely up to you. The obligation is to only go through the process. So that is the first thing. Secondly, the people — none of these people are from the conflict zone. They are basically economic refugees from Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. That is the vast bulk of them. They have been under our supervision for over three years now and we know exactly everything about them.

    TRUMP
    Why haven’t you let them out? Why have you not let them into your society?

    TURNBULL
    Okay, I will explain why. It is not because they are bad people. It is because in order to stop people smugglers, we had to deprive them of the product. So we said if you try to come to Australia by boat, even if we think you are the best person in the world, even if you are a Noble [sic] Prize winning genius, we will not let you in. Because the problem with the people —

    TRUMP
    That is a good idea. We should do that too. You are worse than I am.

    TURNBULL
    This is our experience.

    TRUMP
    Because you do not want to destroy your country. Look at what has happened in Germany. Look at what is happening in these countries. These people are crazy to let this happen. I spoke to Merkel today, and believe me, she wishes she did not do it. Germany is a mess because of what happened.

    TURNBULL
    I agree with you, letting one million Syrians walk into their country. It was one of the big factors in the Brexit vote, frankly.

    TRUMP
    Well, there could be two million people coming in Germany. Two million people. Can you believe it? It will never be the same.

    TURNBULL
    stood up at the UN in September and set up what our immigration policy was. I said that you cannot maintain popular support for immigration policy, multiculturalism, unless you can control your borders. The bottom line is that we got here. I am asking you as a very good friend. This is a big deal. It is really, really important to us that we maintain it. It does not oblige you to take one person that you do not want. As I have said, your homeland officials have visited and they have already interviewed these people. You can decide. It is at your discretion. So you have the wording in the Executive Order that enables the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State to admit people on a case by case basis in order to conform with an existing agreement. I do believe that you will never find a better friend to the United States than Australia. I say this to you sincerely that it is in the mutual interest of the United States to say, “yes, we can conform with that deal – we are not obliged to take anybody we do not want, we will go through extreme vetting” and that way you are seen to show the respect that a trusted ally wants and deserves. We will then hold up our end of the bargain by taking in our country 31 [inaudible] that you need to move on from.

    TRUMP
    Malcom [sic], why is this so important? I do not understand. This is going to kill me. I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country. And now I am agreeing to take 2,000 people and I agree I can vet them, but that puts me in a bad position. It makes me look so bad and I have only been here a week.

    TURNBULL
    With great respect, that is not right – It is not 2,000.

    TRUMP
    Well, it is close. I have also heard like 5,000 as well.

    TURNBULL
    The given number in the agreement is 1,250 and it is entirely a matter of your vetting. I think that what you could say is that the Australian government is consistent with the principles set out in the Executive Order.

    TRUMP
    No, I do not want say that. I will just have to say that unfortunately I will have to live with what was said by Obama. I will say I hate it. Look, I spoke to Putin, Merkel, Abe of Japan, to France today, and this was my most unpleasant call because I will be honest with you. I hate taking these people. I guarantee you they are bad. That is why they are in prison right now. They are not going to be wonderful people who go on to work for the local milk people.

    TURNBULL
    I would not be so sure about that. They are basically —

    TRUMP
    Well, maybe you should let them out of prison. I am doing this because Obama made a bad deal. I am not doing this because it fits into my Executive Order. I am taking 2,000 people from Australia who are in prison and the day before I signed an Executive Order saying that we are not taking anybody in. We are not taking anybody in, those days are over.

    TURNBULL
    But can I say to you, there is nothing more important in business or politics than a deal is a deal. Look, you and I have a lot of mutual friends.
    Look, I do not know how you got them to sign a deal like this, but that is how they lost the election. They said I had no way to 270 and I got 306. That is why they lost the election, because of stupid deals like this. You have brokered many a stupid deal in business and I respect you, but I guarantee that you broke many a stupid deal. This is a stupid deal. This deal will make me look terrible.

    TURNBULL
    Mr. President, I think this will make you look like a man who stands by the commitments of the United States. It shows that you are a committed —

    TRUMP
    Okay, this shows me to be a dope. I am not like this but, if I have to do it, I will do it but I do not like this at all. I will be honest with you. Not even a little bit. I think it is ridiculous and Obama should have never signed it. The only reason I will take them is because I have to honor a deal signed by my predecessor and it was a rotten deal. I say that it was a stupid deal like all the other deals that this country signed. You have to see what I am doing. I am unlocking deals that were made by people, these people were incompetent. I am not going to say that it fits within the realm of my Executive Order. We are going to allow 2,000 prisoners to come into our country and it is within the realm of my Executive Order? If that is the case my Executive Order does not mean anything Malcom [sic]. I look like a dope. The only way that I can do this is to say that my predecessor made a deal and I have no option then to honor the deal. I hate having to do it, but I am still going to vet them very closely. Suppose I vet them closely and I do not take any?

    TURNBULL
    That is the point I have been trying to make.

    TRUMP
    How does that help you?

    TURNBULL
    Well, we assume that we will act in good faith.

    TRUMP
    Does anybody know who these people are? Who are they? Where do they come from? Are they going to become the Boston bomber in five years? Or two years? Who are these people?

    TURNBULL
    Let me explain. We know exactly who they are. They have been on Nauru or Manus for over three years and the only reason we cannot let them into Australia is because of our commitment to not allow people to come by boat. Otherwise we would have let them in. If they had arrived by airplane and with a tourist visa then they would be here.

    TRUMP
    Malcom [sic], but they are arrived on a boat?

    TURNBULL
    Correct, we have stopped the boats.

    TRUMP
    Give them to the United States. We are like a dumping ground for the rest of the world. I have been here for a period of time, I just want this to stop. I look so foolish doing this. It [sic] know it is good for you but it is bad for me. It is horrible for me. This is what I am trying to stop. I do not want to have more San Bernardino’s or World Trade Centers. I could name 30 others, but I do not have enough time.

    TURNBULL
    These guys are not in that league. They are economic refugees.

    TRUMP
    Okay, good. Can Australia give me a guarantee that if we have any problems – you know that is what they said about the Boston bombers. They said they were wonderful young men.

    TURNBULL
    They were Russians. They were not from any of these countries.

    TRUMP
    They were from wherever they were.

    TURNBULL
    Please, if we can agree to stick to the deal, you have complete discretion in terms of a security assessment. The numbers are not 2,000 but 1,250 to start. Basically, we are taking people from the previous administration that they were very keen on getting out of the United States. We will take more. We will take anyone that you want us to take. The only people that we do not take are people who come by boat. So we would rather take a not very attractive guy that help you out then to take a Noble [sic] Peace Prize winner that comes by boat. That is the point.

    TRUMP
    What is the thing with boats? Why do you discriminate against boats? No, I know, they come from certain regions. I get it.

    TURNBULL
    No, let me explain why. The problem with the boats it that you are basically outsourcing your immigration program to people smugglers and also you get thousands of people drowning at sea. So what we say is, we will decide which people get to come to Australia who are refugees, economic migrants, businessmen, whatever. We decide. That is our decision. We are a generous multicultural immigration nation like the United States but the government decides, the people’s representatives decides. So that is the point. I am a highly transactional businessman like you and I know the deal has to work for both sides. Now Obama thought this deal worked for him and he drove a hard bargain with us – that it was agreed with Obama more than a year ago in the Oval Office, long before the election. The principles of the deal were agreed to.

    TRUMP
    I do not know what he got out of it. We never get anything out of it – START Treaty, the Iran deal. I do not know where they find these people to make these stupid deals. I am going to get killed on this thing.

    TURNBULL
    You will not.

    TRUMP
    Yes, I will be seen as a weak and ineffective leader in my first week by these people. This is a killer.

    TURNBULL
    You can certainly say that it was not a deal that you would have done, but you are going to stick with it.

    TRUMP
    I have no choice to say that about it. Malcom [sic], I am going to say that I have no choice but to honor my predecessor’s deal. I think it is a horrible deal, a disgusting deal that I would have never made. It is an embarrassment to the United States of America and you can say it just the way I said it. I will say it just that way. As far as I am concerned that is enough Malcom [sic]I have had it. I have been making these calls all day and this is the most unpleasant call all day. Putin was a pleasant call. This is ridiculous.

    TURNBULL
    Do you want to talk about Syria and DPRK?

    TRUMP
    [inaudible] this is crazy.

    TURNBULL
    Thank you for your commitment. It is very important to us.

    TRUMP
    It is important to you and it is embarrassing to me. It is an embarrassment to me, but at least I got you off the hook. So you put me back on the hook.

    TURNBULL
    You can count on me. I will be there again and again.

    TRUMP
    I hope so. Okay, thank you Malcolm.

    TURNBULL
    Okay, thank you.
    END OF CALL

    * My yellow highlighting.

              What's with the poppy's appeal?        
    Not so long ago the poppy was losing its appeal. However, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the many tragic deaths that have resulted seem to have brought it well and truly back into fashion. 

    Personally, I find its association with these two recent wars more likely to put me off wearing one than when it seemed purely associated with the remembrance of those that died in the two world wars that happened before I was born.

    I wouldn't say that I was a pacifist. That would mean that I didn't believe in wars full stop. There have been wars that were just and needed to happen in spite of the sacrifices that went with them. But I'm against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Therefore I wouldn't want to wear a symbol that could be construed as endorsing these.

    I do object to the fact that it's seen as distinctly unpatriotic not to wear a poppy. Consider the stick given to newsreader Jon Snow when he refuses to wear one.

    The furore about the England team not being able to wear them on their shirts was frankly blown out of all proportion. It was just another excuse for English people to moan about a foreign body, in this case FIFA, having a say in anything we do. FIFA have rules stating that that no political emblems are worn. 

    Poppies are political. What if one of the England footballers was to turn up on Saturday and refuse to wear his armband with a poppy on? I bet that would be construed as being politically motivated. I know someone who was told to take their white poppy off when entering Parliament because you aren't allowed to wear political symbols within the Houses. Why is the white poppy which symbolises an end to war and a commitment to peace a political statement when a red one that remembers those who died fighting in wars isn't?

    This year the British Legion is hoping to raise a record breaking £40million from the poppy appeal. I hope they do achieve this to assist those who are paying the price of being involved in conflict to rehabilitate or for loved ones to recover from their losses. But it shouldn't let the state escape from their duty to these people. As Richard Jackson points out on his blog:
    "Instead of buying a red poppy, we should demand that the state pay the full support and rehabilitation of all soldiers who need it out of the taxes we have already paid to the military. If this means that there is not enough money for the next military adventure because we are taking care of the last war’s victims, then this is how it should be."
    I do appreciate the good work that the British Legion do and have donated to them. At 11am tomorrow I will remember, like millions of others, those that have given their lives in wars. Not just those that were in the military or considered by our state to be on the right side but for the innocent civilian victims too.
              ricordando il centrodestra...        
    quando la sinistra non va; quando ti ha deluso al governo, e sta anche per cadere (mi verrebbe da dire finire), può esser utile ricordarsi del centrodestra al governo, per capire che in fondo è meglio così; che forse ci dovremmo accontentare; e che più di ogni altra cosa dovremmo salvare questo governo, fosse anche per il rotto della cuffia, fosse malamente, magari con un ribaltone.

    Il centrodestra è il male, perché quando era al governo...

    ha finanziato la scuola privata; ha riformato la scuola malamente, con la coscienza di facilitare le private;
    ha facilitato il lavoro privato dei medici, anche se ospedalieri, aiutando il privato a scapito del pubblico nella sanità;
    ha reso possibile l'esplosione di università fasulle in tutta Italia ed ha consentito le lauree truffa con la conversione dell'esperienza lavorativa in crediti formativi;
    ha tagliato drasticamente la ricerca strafinanziando un centro di ricerca amico di Tremonti e lasciando che alcuni centri di prestigio non avessero nemmeno i fondi per pagare la bolletta elettrica;
    ha in breve facilitato in ogni modo il privato nei confronti del pubblico, e ci siamo sentiti dire che il modello da imitare (nella previdenza sociale come nell'istruzione e nella sanità) è il modello statunitense.
    Quello statunitense è un modello mostruoso, che nessuno (se non ricco) può pensare di volere. Nondimeno i voti il centrodestra li prende eccome...

    ha detto che le tasse, se troppo alte, è giusto non pagarle;
    ha condonato l'incondonabile; ripetutamente;
    ci ha ricordato che con la mafia ci si deve convivere;
    ha introdotto una quantità di nuovi contratti atipici che hanno lasciato il via libera definitivo alla precarietà (dato che nel frattempo smantellava il welfare...);
    ci ha regalato (al grido di "abbassiamo le tasse") una finanziaria di rigore, con forti tagli ai bilanci ovunque ed un debito pubblico accresciuto;
    ha varato la Bossi-Fini sull'immigrazione (risultati zero, ingiustizia tanta);
    ha infilato nel pacchetto sulle Olimpiadi la Fini-Giovanardi sulle droghe, che ha ridotto le dosi di cannabis, ma ha aumentato le dosi di cocaina; equiparando un consumatore ad un criminale;
    ha gestito il G8 di Genova nel peggiore dei modi possibili sospendendo lo stato di diritto (basta vedere cosa dice in proposito Amnesty International);
    ha avvicinato l'Italia agli Usa spaccando l'Europa (ed allontanandosi da essa);
    ed ha reso l'Italia l'ennesima ancella degli Stati Uniti;
    ha avvallato l'invasione dell'Iraq inviando truppe altamente esposte al pericolo, per fornire aiuto agli Stati Uniti (esercito occupante ed aggressore); le Nazioni Unite sono arrivate dopo, non dimentichiamocelo;

    serve altro?!
    Mastella, ti prego, fa il buono; Di Pietro, Dini, ve lo chiedo per piacere...

    Tag: , , , ma anche solo
              MERCADO MOTOCICLÍSTICO        
    Nº262 ANECRA Maio 2007
    Nº67 MOTO REPORT Julho 2007 (com autorização)
    O mercado dos motociclos, quando encarado sobre uma perspectiva global, surge como um aliado natural de toda a indústria automóvel e não como um concorrente desse mesmo sector. Veja-se o caso dos fabricantes que constroem, simultaneamente, carros e motos. O exemplo é auto-explicativo. Do ponto de vista do consumidor, estes dois produtos finais (o automóvel e o motociclo) são, na maioria das vezes, bens complementares. Hoje em dia, as necessidades profissionais, familiares e recreativas podem, perfeitamente, apelar à coexistência pacífica destes dois tipos de veículos. O que nos confirma de sobremaneira a conclusão antecipada de início. Perante esta constatação de facto, optámos por efectuar uma análise ao mercado desde 1999 (o ano do “boom” nas vendas) até ao ano transacto. Convidamo-lo, então, a tomar o pulso a este ramo de actividade, que já conheceu melhores dias, mas que, com uma aposta consciente de todos os seus intervenientes (directos e indirectos), poderá recuperar o ritmo outrora alcançado. Assim todos saibam investir, promover, gerir, legislar, fiscalizar e apoiar.

    Situação Económica Nacional
    A Economia Internacional lida, actualmente, com a escalada do preço do petróleo nos mercados internacionais. Uma situação que vem sendo recorrente desde a década passada. Em rigor, questões por resolver, como sejam a do Iraque ou a da ameaça – algo dissimulada, porém omnipresente – do Irão ou, até mesmo, da Coreia, continuam a ter repercussões nefastas na economia global. Os barões da indústria de extracção e transformação do crude encontram nestes pretextos - mais até do que na própria escassez do produto - excelentes formas de exercer especulação, com consequências a nível mundial e que todos nós percepcionamos diariamente. Por outro lado, a concorrência de economias em crescimento, como sejam a chinesa ou a dos países do leste europeu, faz-se sentir veementemente. Estes países são – devido a conjunturas várias – altamente competitivos e, nos últimos anos, têm penetrado com eficácia e também com eficiência nos domínios da cultura, da sociedade e, principalmente, da economia europeia. A União Europeia (UE) apresenta uma subida constante do PIB, com excepção feita a 2005, e esta tendência de crescimento cimentou-se num efectivo aumento do consumo privado, coadjuvado pela redução drástica da despesa pública. A taxa de inflação ficou-se pelos 2,2%, em 2005, e, no mesmo ano, o desemprego atingiu os 8,6%. Por contraponto, os EUA apresentam 3,4% e 5,1%, respectivamente. O PIB americano manifesta tendência análoga à europeia, ocorrendo, inclusivamente, o mesmo fenómeno de redução da despesa pública e reforço do consumo privado. A Economia Nacional tem demonstrado grande dificuldade em resistir à negativa conjuntura internacional. Por ser pequena e aberta, torna-se naturalmente permeável ao contexto externo. Deste modo, o PIB, no período em análise, apresentou um crescimento global de cerca de 20%. Contudo, o investimento exibiu um decréscimo significativo (a rondar os 5%). O consumo, esse sim, aumentou avidamente, sendo que a taxa de crescimento se cifrou nos 25% para o sector privado e nos 30% para o sector público. Perante estes indicadores, é possível inferir que o recurso à banca foi o agente eleito para acelerar o consumo, já que o investimento decresceu e o PIB não acompanhou a evolução da despesa. Portugal continua também com as importações a terem um peso superior ao das exportações, sendo que 2003 foi o ano onde a diferença mais se esbateu. Já o Investimento no Estrangeiro conheceu uma drástica diminuição (para menos de metade). Igual tendência para o desinvestimento tem acontecido em relação às decisões do estrangeiro em investir em Portugal. Todavia, a taxa de decréscimo ficou-se pelos 10% O saldo da Balança Corrente é negativo, com agravamento desde 2003. A Dívida Pública apresenta um crescimento sustentado, a par da Taxa de Desemprego. E o mercado de trabalho é precisamente um reflexo de tudo o que para trás foi enunciado. Para clarificar este ponto, refira-se que o número de desempregados, em 2005, era o dobro do que havia em 2000. Evidentemente que este fenómeno, para além do flagelo social que dissemina, gera também uma sobrecarga ao nível da despesa pública por via do dispêndio de verbas por parte da Segurança Social. O que, em abono da verdade, contribui negativamente para cumprir o Pacto de Estabilidade e Crescimento. Já a Inflação apresenta oscilações entre o crescimento e o seu inverso. Até 2002 a tendência foi para o aumento do indicador, e daí para cá veio paulatinamente a reduzir, estimando-se que para 2006 o valor a apurar comute a orientação. Conclui-se, portanto, que as reformas levadas a cabo pelo Governo com o intuito de conter os custos, e que passam por uma racionalização da despesa pública, levarão o seu tempo a produzir os efeitos esperados. Até lá, Portugal é um país deprimido, envolto num pessimismo generalizado, e profundamente descrente da tão desejada retoma.

    Evolução das Vendas de MOTOCICLOS em Portugal
    O ano de 1999 permanece, até à data, como um marco muito positivo em termos de vendas de motos. Desde então, o número de matrículas novas tem vindo a decrescer. Esta tendência manteve-se até 2003, sendo que, no ano seguinte, ocorreu uma tímida recuperação. Os anos de 2006 e 2005 foram sinónimo de altos e baixos, respectivamente, sendo que, e em suma, os últimos três anos apresentam valores muito próximos. O mês de Janeiro de 2007 destaca-se o do seu homólogo do ano anterior, com vendas totais superiores em 50%. A KEEWAY é o construtor que mais cresceu. Analisando os recordistas de vendas em Portugal, constatamos que, de entre os 10 primeiros, quatro fabricantes são europeus, outros tantos são nipónicos (historicamente as marcas mais comercializadas), um é norte-americano e outro é coreano. Neste ponto, surge um dos sinais mais evidentes: o emergente mercado de exportações do eixo Coreia - China. De um ano para o outro, a KEEWAY passou de nove para 490 motos, e, só em Janeiro de 2007, vendeu quase 25% do volume atingido em 2006. Esta categoria está relacionada com as motos, ainda que tangencialmente. Vejamos o que nos diz o n.º4 do artigo 107º do Código da Estrada: «Quadriciclo é o veículo dotado de quatro rodas, classificando-se em: Ligeiro: veículo com velocidade máxima, em patamar e por construção, não superior a 45 km/h, cuja massa sem carga não exceda 350 Kg, excluída a massa das baterias no veículo eléctrico e com motor de cilindrada não superior a 50 cm3, no caso de motor de ignição comandada, ou cuja potência máxima não seja superior a 4 KW, no caso de outros motores de combustão interna ou de motor eléctrico; Pesado: veículo com motor de potência não superior a 15 KW e cuja massa sem carga, excluída a massa das baterias no caso de veículos eléctricos, não exceda 400 kg ou 550 kg, consoante se destine, respectivamente, ao transporte de passageiros ou de mercadorias.» Nesta classificação cabem os veículos de quatro rodas, que em tudo se assemelham a um automóvel, mas que podem ser conduzidos sem carta de condução – os “microcars” –, mas também os “moto4” que são parte integrante do catálogo de construtores de motos. Com esse fito, ao analisarmos a evolução de matrículas novas constatamos que a evolução é positiva até 2001, voltando-o novamente a ser depois de 2004. Aliás, note-se bem que de 2005 para 2006 o salto é de quase 36%. Indo de encontro ao detalhe dos registos, deparamo-nos com duas realidades que se aproximam. Se por um lado, os sete principais fornecedores de quadricilos são construtores de motos (logo são os “quads” a dominar esta categoria), quem, de facto, tem incrementado a taxa de crescimento das vendas é a indústria de quadriciclos “com capota”. O que desvirtua, em parte, este estudo, já que, em última instância, são viaturas com naturezas completamente distintas. Todavia, é claramente uma pista a ser seguida com toda a atenção.

    Distribuição do parque Segurado de MOTOCICLOS por Distritos
    Segundo os valores reportados pelas Seguradoras ao Instituto de Seguros de Portugal (Ministério das Finanças), esta contabilização manifesta tendência crescente, ainda que ligeira. Esta análise não manifesta, pois, correlação directa com as anteriormente apresentadas uma vez que:
    • Apenas são considerados os veículos com matrícula;
    • Apenas são considerados os veículos com seguro (código da empresa de seguro correcto);
    • Apenas são considerados os registos com data válida (AAAA-MM-DD);
    • Apenas são considerados os registos com data de início de seguro;
    • Nas circunstâncias em que existe mais do que um registo da mesma matrícula, apenas é considerado aquele cuja data de início é a mais recente (desde que inferior à data a que a informação se reporta);
    • Um registo apenas é considerado se a respectiva apólice se encontra em vigor na data a que diz respeito;
    • Todos os registos que se encontrem nas condições descritas, mas que não tenham devidamente preenchido o código de concelho e/ou o código de categoria. O ISP optou por considerá-los nas categorias “Desconhecido” e “Outros” respectivamente.

    Com a tabela seguinte podemos aquilatar a dispersão geográfica dos motociclos em Portugal. Há, logicamente, uma forte concentração junto dos grandes perímetros urbanos, sendo mais reduzida à medida que nos aproximamos de zonas eminentemente rurais. Porém, uma curiosidade: Faro é o distrito com mais motos por cada cem mil habitantes. O que lhe confere autoridade moral/nacional para realizar a maior concentração de motos da Europa. O distrito com menos motos per capita é Castelo Branco, logo seguido do Porto. Lisboa apresenta uma correspondência com a média verificada.

    Evolução do Mercado Europeu
    Na União Europeia (Europa dos 15), em sete anos, venderam-se perto de 8,5 milhões de motos, sendo que 2000 foi o melhor ano comercial. Em 2002, os valores bateram no fundo da tabela (tal como em Portugal), e daí para cá a evolução tem sido positiva. Ainda não estão disponíveis os dados 2006, mas crê-se que a tendência se terá mantido. Para a República Checa, Estónia e Lituânia, as taxas de crescimento são de três dígitos. Para os restantes países, os dados são esparsos e, por isso mesmo, inconclusivos. Refira-se, no entanto, que o primeiro deles aplica aos motociclos as menores cargas fiscais de toda a Europa, tendo inclusive, prémios de seguros com custos extremamente reduzidos (cerca de 10€). Não admira, pois, que se assista ao despontar da democratização deste produto naquele mercado. Em termos absolutos, a UE apresenta um conjunto de seis países que, por razões demográficas, mas também sócio-culturais, lideram o ranking de vendas de motociclos na região: Itália, Alemanha, França, Reino Unido, Espanha e Grécia. Excepção feita à Alemanha e à vizinha Espanha, todos os outros apresentaram evolução positiva entre o início e o fim do período em análise. Comparando a tendência da UE com Portugal, o auge das vendas ocorreu em 2000 (e não em 1999 como cá), tendo o volume global decrescido continuamente até 2002. A inversão de tendências acontece precisamente neste ponto. A partir de 2003, a UE inicia a recuperação e Portugal permanece em queda, abandonando a orientação do conjunto; circunstância que se deverá verificar até 2006 (apesar de, como já mencionado, os dados oficiais ainda não estarem disponíveis). A extinção da nossa indústria de motociclos, a própria mutação dos interesses pessoais dos consumidores, a falta de incentivos fiscais para aquisição e obtenção de licença de condução, e os sucessivos aumentos do IVA serão, genericamente, as razões que conduziram Portugal a este cenário marginal, quando comparado com o que acontece no restante continente europeu. Refira-se igualmente como causas as restrições legislativas, o desacompanhamento e despromoção do conceito e seus benefícios a nível institucional (poder político) e a insensibilidade das seguradoras, a par com as políticas comerciais brandas e pouco efectivas de fabricantes e importadores.

    Conclusão
    Perante a realidade em apreço, dois aspectos se nos afiguram evidentes: o sector está em crise e a China está a conquistar quota de mercado. A aposta chinesa não é na inovação nem na qualidade, mas, antes, na melhor relação qualidade/preço. Os seus produtos destinam-se ao segmento das motos de baixa cilindrada, onde a simplicidade mecânica e a estética parcimoniosa, aliadas a uma economia de escala com mão-de-obra barata, permitem reduzir drasticamente os custos de produção a favor de um preço final muito competitivo. Por outro lado, estes dados mostram-nos que no nosso país há uma vastíssima carteira de clientes interessada em motos com baixo custo de aquisição e manutenção. São as pessoas que necessitam de moto para, diariamente, se deslocarem dentro das cidades (onde o aumento da mobilidade e a poupança financeira são benefícios efectivos e imediatos). Ou que, a ser na província, as pessoas mais não precisam do que um veículo com motor até 250cc, para pequenos trajectos ao longo desse “Portugal Rural”. No fundo, esse é o nosso mercado tradicional.
    Sempre existiu, desde a época das fábricas de motorizadas no norte do país até aos nossos dias a adopção de medidas de incentivo – como aquela preconizada na directiva comunitária 125cc/Carta B, onde condutores de automóveis ligeiros estariam habilitados a conduzir motociclos até 125cc – poderiam deflagrar uma definitiva retoma do sector. Até porque, uma observação mais atenta do quotidiano revela-nos que não está a acontecer uma renovação da classe motociclista. Na prática, este grupo está, todos os anos, um ano mais velho. Não há uma nova geração a entrar no meio. Com a crise que se alastra no ramo, não são só os departamentos comerciais de revendedores e concessionários de motos que acabam por ser afectados. É-o toda uma indústria, desde os fabricantes de acessórios, vestuário e componentes mecânicos até aos serviços técnicos – quase sempre dependentes de um concessionário oficial ou revendedor. Quanto menor o número de unidades comercializadas, menor será o número de intervenções de reparação e manutenção a serem requisitadas. Pelo que, a não inversão da tendência de queda, irá deixar lentamente uma marca incómoda nos tecidos económico e social, pois não é só o plano macro-económico que perde o contributo deste sector, mas a própria micro-economia é posta à prova, seja através de mão-de-obra excedentária, ou de crédito malparado, ou até mesmo de processos de falência e contencioso. Sob um outro prisma, com a escalada do preço do petróleo, e com a necessidade de reduzir as emissões poluentes para a atmosfera, a utilização de motos como meio de transporte, sobretudo em centros urbanos, seria – à semelhança do que acontece pela Europa fora – uma opção natural com benefícios colectivos, longe de serem, de todo, despiciendos.
    © Todos os direitos do texto estão reservados para REVISTA ANECRA, uma publicação da ANECRA. Contacto para adquirir edições já publicadas: +351 21 392 90 30.
    © General Moto, by Hélder Dias da Silva 2008

              Nonprofit professionals gain career-enhancing certification through program offered by the San Antonio Area Foundation and St. Mary’s University        
    By Mary Beth Harrington Multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan have left many military families in need of the type of support that nonprofit organizations provide, such as housing assistance, job training, counseling and many other services. As a result, San Antonio nonprofit organizations are seeing a sharp increase in demand.  This trend is expected
              Obama Secures Youth Vote        
    Obama and Biden appeared on MTV today in a very refreshing interview with Sway about Thursday's debate and what the Obama policies mean to the younger generation. Obama addressed his treatment of American voters, the problems facing Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, and the effect of the economic bailout on our generation. It's not often that you see a politician target an audience with such success.

    Obama reigns when it comes to character. He obviously went the diplomatic route when Sway steered the questioning towards who won the debate, explaining the point wasn't to win, but rather to inform the American people of the differences between the two candidates. But even though Obama is still rowing a political boat, I believe that he's trying to arrive at a humane and decent destination.

    "I think the pundits and the press, you guys are looking at tactics. What the American people are looking at is they might lose their job ... they might lose their house...What's relevant is the substance of this thing, which is people out there are hurting, and John McCain has promoted the same policies of George Bush, and people know they're not working. They understand we can't continue four more years of doing the same thing."

    But the instance that I was most excited about (and I hope it excited any other half-interested person under the age of 25) was Obama's explanation of the $700 billion bailout and what is happening in the economy. My happiness came partly because I've spent most of my morning on the internet, trying desperately to figure out what exactly is going on in the economy and how it got this way. I've been reading The Guardian, a short history of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, an Economic Times article on the recent re-structuring of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Wikipedia pages for "bailout," the SEC, and GSEs, and I even called my father to try and understand what the fuck is happening and whether it will affect me. And after reading all of that and slowly coming to grasp just the smallest crumb of understanding, it was lovely to hear Obama's rationalization of the economic crisis:

    "If the credit markets collapse, what it means is banks aren't lending businesses money. Businesses then can't invest in plants and equipment and make payroll, so they shut down. And that means the suppliers of those companies, they shut down. Over time what happens is you get the whole economy coming to a standstill. That's what happened during the Great Depression," he explained. "And at that time, it was just banks that were in charge of capital. Now you've got all different ways that money flows ... but the bottom line is, that if money freezes up, businesses can't do business, and you get an enormous contraction of an economy. And that, ultimately, will affect that 20-year-old, because that 20-year-old is going to be looking for a better job after he gets out of school. ... If our businesses aren't creating jobs, they're not creating tax revenues — now it's harder for government to finance that college education or to build that new university. So it has a ripple effect."

    His explanation is a little basic, but that's actually what our generation needs. We're the ones who grew up inside a nearly virtual system of currency. Most young people have no idea how to balance a check book, let alone have a detailed understanding of how banks work or how to invest in the stock market! Obama understands this, and I think that he's being honest and straightforward about the effects of the economic crisis on our future.
    The bottom line is, I trust Obama. I trust that he will bring a good change to this country. I trust that he will make decisions with his electorate's best needs at heart. I trust that he is in this presidential race to spur forth America's progress, not to make himself a powerful figure in history. I trust his judgement, I trust his humanity, I trust him.
              Z. LA CIUDAD PERDIDA        

    TÍTULO ORIGINAL:The Lost City of Z
    PAÍS:EE.UU.
    AÑO:2017
    DURACIÓN:141 minutos
    GUIÓN:James Gray sobre la novela de David Grann
    FOTOGRAFÍA:Darius Khondji
    MÚSICA:Christopher Spelman


    En 1906 la Royal Geographical Society encarga al militar Percy Fawcett la investigación y cartografía de la zona fronteriza entre Bolivia y Brasil. Esa primera expedición al continente sudamericano cambiaría la vida de Fawcett para siempre.


    Notable regreso del cine de aventuras a la cartelera con un buen despliegue de recursos y actores.
    Más cerca de Las montañas de la luna (Bob Rafelson, 1990) que de clásicos como La reina de África (John Huston, 1951) o El hombre que pudo reinar (John Huston, 1975), pero indudablemente merecedora de figurar en la lista de lo más interesante que vamos a ver este año en el cine, Z, la ciudad perdida, no era un proyecto nada fácil de llevar a la pantalla. Principalmente porque al basarse en hechos reales queda atada a todo aquello que la realidad impone a la carga mitificadora y épica del género de aventuras. Pero a pesar de esa carga inicial, la película encuentra la manera de salir adelante como una de las visiones más maduras del género de aventuras que bien necesitado está de este tipo de propuesta, visto el ninguneo a que lo ha venido sometiendo el oportunismo y la hibridación a que es adicto el cine estadounidense cuando aborda este tipo de historias. Pongo un ejemplo para que quede más claro a qué me refiero: Los demonios de la noche (Stephen Hopkins, 1996), una excelente historia real de partida que al pasar al cine resulta entretenida y que me gustó por mi afición al asunto que aborda, pero sobre la que inevitablemente tengo que reconocer que perdió mucha personalidad y energía intentando ser “Tiburón en la selva, con leones”. Tampoco es que Z, la ciudad perdida, sea Aguirre, la cólera de Dios (Werner Herzog, 1972), una de las visiones más perturbadoras del género de aventuras que recuerdo haber visto en un cine. Y ciertamente su personaje protagonista –un miembro de la clase pija alta intentando recuperar fuelle social a base de arribismo por la vía del descubrimiento de ruinas y mundos perdidos en la selva- no me resulta tan simpático como los pícaros supervivientes y alucinados que nos propuso John Huston en El hombre que pudo reinar, basada en ese Rudyard Kipling que cita el diálogo de Z, la ciudad perdida, pero al que en mi opinión no acaba de adherirse o rendir homenaje. Pero la ventaja de esta película es que sí cuenta con un actor, Charlie Hunnam, que tiene toda la eficacia de una estrella tan clásica como Steve McQueen a la hora de ponerse ante la cámara para defender la parte aventurera del largometraje, y además, asociado a Sienna Miller con buena química, resuelve con brillantez la parte de más privada e íntima de la trama.(REVISTA ACCIÓN).

    ....Sobre el reparto de “Z” sólo caben elogíos. Para empezar tenemos al protagonista, un gran Charlie Hunnam que avanza en esto de la interpretación a pasos agigantados… y llena por completo el traje y carisma de Percy Fawcett, tanto como militar, como esposo y padre, y como explorador. Un hombre tremendamente educado, abierto, responsable, con ganas de triunfar y obsesionado con la selva. Atención a su discurso en la Royal Geographical Society, y a su muy estimable pronunciación del español cuando le toca hablar en nuestro idioma con algunos de los nativos.

    Por su parte, Sienna Miller hace una no menos fantástica labor como Nina Fawcett, la esposa de Percy. Sienna recrea una mujer con mucha personalidad y al nivel de su esposo, si bien, la sociedad de la época juega en su contra… De quien poco se puede decir es de Tom Holland pues aparece ya en el tramo final de la película como el Jack Fawcett crecidito y entusiasta....(CINE Y CINE)-
    En su persistente redefinición de qué signifca ser un cineasta clásico en el siglo XXI, James Gray se enfrenta al cine de aventuras exóticas para jibarizar su épica. Lentamente, como adentrándose en un río sin horizontes, se dedica a describir la conradiana obsesión de su heroico explorador humanizando su experiencia. Es tan importante su progresiva fascinación por una naturaleza que le hace entrar en estado de trance como sus dificultades para conciliar su pasión con la vida familiar que le espera al otro lado del Paraíso. Es admirable el modo en que Gray convierte un viaje que dura toda una vida en el reencuentro entre un padre y un hijo, y en la materialización de un sueño que es, a la vez, la crónica de un fracaso.
    Gracias a su elegante, hipnótica puesta en escena, lo que parecía un relato realista se transforma en fantasmagórico, como si el objetivo final de la aventura fuera que el cine clásico aceptara su condición espectral, y sus héroes convivieran con sus sombras, misterios y locura.(FOTOGRAMAS).

              The MoneyShot Snipes You With HOT Political TAEKS.        

    "Bro.  You gotta check out the hooters on this Iraqi chick before I blow them clean off."




    I don't do this often ever but today we're going to get mildly political at The MoneyShot.  I tend to avoid subjects like these since they usually start mindless Internet wars that will never be solved.  But then I thought about it and realized...we do that shit with sports on the reg anyway, so who gives a fuck?

    Everyone is talking about this new movie American Sniper.  The Academy is rock hard and lubed up, ready to pepper this flick with all the awards.  But many on the Interwebs seem outraged by an alleged misinterpretation of the sniper in question.  Admittedly, I knew nothing about Chris Kyle when the movie trailer was released.  I saw a war movie starring Bradley Cooper and violently fist pumped for a good 15 seconds after.  I just envisioned Clint Eastwood laughing like a bastard while rolling around in stacks of money completely naked.  I'm not sure there is a better money making equation in Hollywood.  War + actor that cranks out the jams = fuck load of money.  It's a nearly fool proof formula.  Even now, I'll admit that I still don't know a lot about this guy.  Or I should say I don't know if the information I have is completely accurate.  The Internet can be a dangerous place to get believable information these days.

    From what I've read, apparently Clint Eastwood has really ruffled some feathers with this one and the film has brought into question exactly who this Chris Kyle guy is/was.  I've read some articles and watched some interviews and it seems like there is a definite divide in opinion.  Chris Kyle American Hero or Chris Kyle American Psycho?  You have right wing people celebrating Chris Kyle the solider and calling him a true American hero because of the countless number of American lives he is responsible for saving.  Then you have left wingers calling Kyle a hate filled, murderous bastard who "loved" killing and who was insanely racist.

    Here's my ELITE opinion on the matter.  It's going to take a lot more than Michael Moore flapping his fat jowls for me to think poorly of a guy who put his life on the line to protect mine.  I personally know one SEAL and he's a Kentucky gay boy who turns a blind eye to improper NCAA benefits and incest.  The SEAL I know is not a bad mother fucker that could kill you with a paper clip.  It takes a special combination of crazy and stupid to become a Navy SEAL and they probably need to be in order to do what they do and live with it.  You have to be born with a certain mental makeup that differs from most normal people, IMO.  What I'm saying is I'm not judging this man for whatever faults he may have had.  Because I know who isn't becoming a SEAL.  Me.  I also know who isn't fighting terrorists.  Also me.  And to be honest, I think I require the guys making sure I don't wake up with a bad guy's assault rife pressed firmly against my nose, a little off upstairs and radical with their actions.

    I think these left wingers just need to R-E-L-A-X.  The men and women in our military risk their lives to make sure that Americans like me can do stupid shit like be gluttonous assholes at ridiculous food challenges.  So I'm gonna cut our soldiers a little fucking slack when it comes to the manner in which they defend my freedom.  So maybe Kyle did enjoy killing terrorists.  Okay.  So fucking what?  Wouldn't you?  Just a little?  Especially if it meant an American solider lived in the process??  So what if he was a little hate filled?  I can safely say that I would also probably hate the people responsible for me waking up in the desert every morning wondering if today is the day a four pound spider bites my dick off.  I think any normal person would be somewhat hate filled in that situation.  And I don't think I need to point out the fact that every last one of you fuckers here is a little racist.  Also...who gives a rat's ass that he wrote a book about his experience to try and reap some monetary benefits, post war? The military guys I know tell me the pay sucks and is really hard to live off of.  So I see nothing wrong with a little side action.

    Maybe my opinion will change if I get more information.  Or more credible information.  But from what I've seen and read so far, it sounds like sad, gun hating hippies are just trying to poke holes in a story about a man responsible for saving a lot of American lives.  If that is indeed the case...go eat some granola and find something else better to do, you fucking losers.  Anyway...I figured this would be a nice break from sports and something new to talk about.  Have at it, fellas.
              What the hell are we doing?        
    The conversation about asylum seekers is getting more and more emotional on both sides, as the bodies are piling up. I am not much of a psychologist, but I suspect that part of what is making people scream so loudly is that it's getting quite clear that the old "nobody there is in real need of help anyway" and, on the other side, "we gotta help everyone who needs help" are not working anymore: there are obviously lots of people really in need of help, and we just as obviously cannot help them all. All that can be discussed at this point is numbers, which kind of takes all fun away from an ideological debate, and pisses off both sides.

    But yes, lots of people are trying to get to the EU and apply for asylum. And no, for the most part we cannot help them where they are. In the places overrun by ISIS, for example, "helping them where they are" would, I am afraid, involve a summary execution of all the members of ISIS, which is rather expensive, and likely to produce a lot of innocent victims if done by carpet bombing.

    I am looking at all this, and I am wondering: what the fuck are we doing? I don't even mean that we are taking too many, or too few: how are we going about it, and who gets selected?

    Seriously, this makes no sense at all: we (Europe) build fences and do everything we can in order not to let asylum seekers into the EU. Then after some of them do get into the EU, we have to take the applications from all of those, and in the first country they arrive to (I can see how Italy and Greece might be a bit pissed off by this system, and we would be too if the eastern neighbor suddenly started producing refugees). Then the applications are considered, hopefully to the best of the officials' ability, and their ability is not all that good: it's hard to say who is a criminal, it's hard to say who is a terrorist, it's sometimes even hard to say who is who and who is from where. But then, after an application has been approved, we are not gonna kick the person out no matter what kind of criminal he or she has turned out to be.

    What is the sense of all of this? We are actively selecting the people who can get to Europe in something that doesn't deserve to be called a boat, and can afford to pay the smugglers. I totally think that both young men, and people who have money can be just as worthy of asylum as for example poor old women, but is there any point in actively selecting them, and in the process encouraging lots of people to a) risk their lives while crossing the seas on god-knows-what, and b) give their money to the people who provide that unseaworthy transportation?

    Can't we, like, decide on how many we can take, handle the applications elsewhere, and then let the winners of that lottery arrive on a proper ferry with proper papers, while turning the users of Oh-Shit-The-Raft-Is-Leaking Sea Transportation away on arrival? People are not dumb (well, most aren't), and if rafting over the Mediterranean is not occasionally rewarded with a residence permit they are likely to stop doing it.

    And please, can we send the seriously criminal ones back? On the Oh-Shit-The-Raft-Is-Leaking Sea Transportation, if needed. Yeah, the transportation might take a downward direction, quite literally. Yeah, they might be subjected to inhumane treatment there. They will probably have to take a number and stand in line for that along with half of the population, many of whom we have turned away to begin with, but anyway... Tough shit. They could've thought about it before robbing or raping somebody. No matter how many or how few refugees we decide to take, all the refugee places should be reserved for regular people trying to resettle and live a normal life, not for somebody wanted for terrorism in Iraq or armed robbery in Finland.

    We can fight about the numbers later, but can we put some sense in the procedure first, and fast?



              Monjas iraquíes vuelven a Mosul tres años después de su expulsión por el ISIS        
    "Con Dios no hay nada imposible", afirman las dominicas mientras se asientan en la ciudad destruidaLas hermanas dominicas que trabajan con la población cristiana en el norte de Irak han anunciado su intención de volver a la ciudad devastada de Mosul, aunque algunos sectores duden del futuro del cristianismo en dicha ciudad, recientemente liberada por Leer más…
              Should we care if a job candidate does not know the social and ethical implications of their work (Second Blog Post inspired by Rogaway's Moral Character Paper)        
    Phillip Rogaway's article on the

    The Moral character of Cryptographic Work (see here)

    brings up so many issues that it could be the topics for at least 5 blog posts. I've already done one here, and today I'll do another. As I said in the first post I urge you to read it even if you disagree with it, in fact, especially if you disagree with it. (Possible Paradox- you have to read it to determine if you disagree with it.)

    Today's issue:

    Should a department take into account if someone understand the social and ethical issues with their work?

    1) I'll start with something less controversial. I've sometimes asked a job candidate `why do you work on X?' Bad answers:

            Because my adviser told me to.

            Because I could make progress on it.

            Because it was fun to work on.

    People should always know WHY they are working on what they are working on. What was the motivation of the original researchers is one thing they should know, even if the current motivation is different. If its a new problem then why is it worth studying?

    2) In private email to Dr. Rogaway he states that he just wants this to be ONE of the many issues having to do with job hiring (alas, it usually is not even ONE). As such, the thoughts below may not be quite right since they assume a bigger role. But if you want to make something a criteria, even a small one, we should think of the implications.

    3) In private email to Dr. Rogaway I speculated that we need to care more about this issue when interviewing someone in security then in (say) Ramsey theory. He reminded me of work done in pure graph theory funded by the DOD, that is about how to best disable a network (perhaps a social network talking too much about why the Iraq war is a terrible idea). Point taken- this is not just an issue in Security.

    4) What if someone is working on security, funded by the DOD, and is fully aware that the government wants to use her work to illegally wiretap people and is quite okay with that. To hold that against her seems like holding someone's politics against them which I assume all readers of this blog would find very unfair.. OR is it okay to hire her since she HAS thought through the issues. The fact that you disagree with her conclusion should be irrelevant.

    5) What if she says that the DOD, once they have the tech, will only wiretap bad people? (see here)

    6) Lets say that someone is working on cute crypto with pictures of Alice and Bob (perhaps Alice is Wonderland and Bob the Builder). Its good technical work and is well funded. It has NO social or ethical  implications because it has NO practical value, and she knows it. Should this be held against her? More so than other branches of theory?

    7) People can be aware of the social and ethical issues and not care.

    8) The real dilemma: A really great job candidate in security who is brilliant. The work is top notch but has serious negative implications. The job candidate is clueless about that. But they can bring in
    grant money! Prestige! Grad Students! I don't have an answer here but its hard to know how much to weigh social and ethical awareness versus getting a bump in the US News and World Report Rankings!

            What does your dept do? What are your thoughts on this issue?




              Diversos cargos - Piraquara/PR: ofertas em concurso - A cidade de Piraquara, no estado do Paraná, está com oportunidades em concurso público. Inscrições ficam abertas até o dia 12 de junho        
    A cidade de Piraquara, no estado do Paraná, está com oportunidades em concurso público. Inscrições ficam abertas até o dia 12 de junho
              $380m telecoms arbitration case filed aginst Iraq        
    Kuwait-based Agility is complaining that the government of Iraq has “indirectly confiscated” its 54% stake in Korek, an Iraqi operator in which Orange has a 44% stake
              When Elmo And Big Bird Talk To Refugees        
    Elmo and Big Bird have lots of experience teaching children everything from the ABCs to autism. Soon, they could be bringing smiles — and education — to millions of refugee children forced from their homes in Syria, Iraq and other war-torn countries. But first, Sesame Workshop is doing its homework. In partnership with the International Rescue Committee, Sesame producers and early-childhood experts are soliciting guidance and feedback from relief organizations, trauma experts, academics and others who have worked with refugees. They'll also be making research visits to refugee camps in Jordan. According to the IRC, of the 65 million people displaced from their homes worldwide, more than half are children. "And certainly I think it's fair to say there are no more vulnerable people in the world than these refugee families and kids," Jeff Dunn, the CEO of Sesame Workshop, told a small crowd at the nonprofit company's New York headquarters recently. Sesame's goal is to develop new content
              Blog Post: Short but exhilarating.         

    just finished the new playstation 3 exclusive, beyond two souls. It is a amazing heart wrenching experience unlike most common games now a days, but it is a little mixed up. The overall plot is amazing and thrilling and at times chilling. I found myself getting goose bumps on more than one ocasion.

     

     

    WARNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!! from this point on there will be spoilers, (Which is funny because i meant this to be a short commentary but it turned into a full length review O.o) so proceed with ALLOT of caution, i try not to give away any major plot points but it can happen, and this game is a cinematic experience and as such should be experienced unspoiled, which by the way coming from me, means allot, as i give no creedence to spoilers as usually its the adventure, the "How do we get to this momment" that i look forward to not, "How does it all end?!" But this is a rare momment in history where the whole package needs to be experience first hand, as I said i reveal as little as possible, but sometimes a little story escapes. For those who don't want to continue I will say this, this game is too short to buy, it lasts about 8 hours, and as such is very little play time, for your average cost of $59.99, as such if you have the option to rent/borrow it, do so, if not, black friday is coming very soon. 

     

    Also im kinda tired while writing this so forgive spelling errors. 

     

     

    That being said the underlying story is very jumbled and confusing with allot of randomness, such as iraqi cia operations, navajo india burials, and delivering a baby. Now if those thing dont sound like they go togeather, congratulations! Your slightly sane, or at least coherent enough to see some dilution there. 

     

    The overall story is about a young girl who is born into a CiA operation for the paranormal, she has a connection to a ghost which allows her to do allot of creepy ***, over the course of the game she is trained to control her powers, become a top notch cia operative, and a angsty teen, thats right you live her whole life, from about the age of 5 untill shes about 25-30. and not in order either, its all jumbled, you get tossed around childhood, teenage, young adult, and adult in no given order. At one point you are homeless and have to rob a store and deliver a baby, during another part your in iraq killing a dictator, later your a pissed off teen wanting to "Go out on the town because all the other girls are doing it!!!!!" during another moment your cooking dinner for a date and (If you play your cards right) getting some action. At this point i feel I should point out that there is no direct nudity or major graphic violence (Dismemberment etc.) there is, ALLOT of side boob though, i mean, allot! 

     

    anywho... this whole adventure takes place over about 8 hours, a little short for a modern game, however it is a easily repeatable experience, as there are SEVERAL endings, collectables, and a kind of foggy ambiguous moral system in the game, for example there is one moment where you can "Forgive" or kill your adoptive father for ditching you in the cia program and not giving a *** about you and actually basically telling you your worthless, (Gotta say it took ALLOT to not kill that sweater vest wearing a$$hole.) on the note of a morality system, its kind of depressing because it doesnt really feel like your choice affect much in the long run, I mean a few major choices do, but then there are others that SHOULD but dont, for example, choosing weather you kill your father or not? Big thing right? Well... not according to these guys, as it has no effect on the plot of the story at all, not a blip, not even a little. Or some choice you make get over looked entirely, in one scene your at a party and the go a dursly on you and lock you in the cupboard under the stairs, and after you bust out you can choose to get "Revenge" (which ranges from scaring them to burning down the house and listening to the screams,) or to just leave the party, I choose to leave, but in a later scene my cia handler says to me "Remember that party you went to?! You burnt the house to the ground just because they were mean to you!" at which point i think to myself "Actually I walked out the damn door and walked home... living the house fully intact and the stupid teens the bullied me unscared." 

     

    The controls in this game are a little funky, as they are based on QTE's (Quick Time Events, essentially 'push X as fast as you can or you die, events') and not classic combat, the stealth is doable but suffers from the same problem, and considering this game is based around stealth, that is a bit of a problem. 

     

    This game stars a bunch of big name actors and actresses such and Ellen Page, and William Defoe, and so its safe to say the acting in this game is some of the best in modern video games, although some of the other cast mates hits the melodrama scale untill it maxes out, it is often tempered by ellens soft portrayal of a scene. 

     

    The soundtrack in this game is very generic ghost story thriller music, and as such doesnt add much to the experience for me sadly. 

     

    Overall this game is fun and has an exhilarating story, but is over too quickly and has a few too many shortcomings to justify a full $59.99 to its name, I do however recommend, that if you have the means to rent, or borrow, that no gamer should go without experiencing this epic tale. 

     

    6/10

    Thanks for reading, yours, Wulf.


              Three U.S. Army Veterans return to Iraq in seek of adventure, skiing and closure        

    Here at FREESKIER, we post a lot of lighthearted content—stuff that’s often laid-back, but encourages you to live a happy and healthy life. Today, however, we bring you something a bit different: a short film produced by The North Face and Stept Productions about three Iraqi War veterans who returned to the country with ski […]

    The post Three U.S. Army Veterans return to Iraq in seek of adventure, skiing and closure appeared first on Freeskier Magazine.


              More media stuff        

    The Guardian seems to have started a Wire discussion group. It would be churlish to suggest that the Guardian, as an entity, never took as much interest in the Wire before it centred round a newspaper office.

    (Charlie Brooker and a couple of other Guardian tv reviewers were the honourable exceptions to this.)

    I’m going to steal its intro warning to explain why I haven’t been indulging in my customary gushing over the genius of the Wire:

    SPOILER ALERT: Usual rules: No giving the game away if you’ve gone further; don’t spoil it for yourself if you are further behind.

    Basically, it’s too difficult to remember which Wire events are OK to write about and which aren’t, in case I spoil someone’s enjoyment. Sadly, I’ve already spoilt it for myself by seeing it already. I know what’s going to happen in the wind-up part of the 5-series set, so I don’t want to watch it until I’ve forgotten enough detail to make it watchable again.

    There’s an Iraq war short series from “the team who brought you the Wire.” I would be grateful if someone who’s seen it in the US will tell me if it’s good. I’ve decided to wait till it’s on television here, so as not to spoil it, in case it is good.

    However, I’m so squeamish that I won’t want to watch it if it’s too distressing. Which, given that it’s about the Iraq war, is probably a certainty. So I’m in two minds about the whole thing and would welcome any guidance.

    Otherwise completely unconnected to the above rambling, except for being also interesting in today’s Guardian, there’s an article by Hicham Yezza, the academic who’s waiting to be deported after downloading the al-qaeda manual for a colleague.

    The UN’s committee on human rights has just published a report criticising Britain’s anti-terror laws and the resulting curbs on civil liberties. For many commentators the issues raised are mostly a matter of academic abstractions and speculative meanderings. For me, it is anything but. These laws have destroyed my life. (from Hicham Yezza in the Guardian.)

    I had lazily assumed that this nonsense was all sorted out months ago. It appears not. Just because the media have lost interest doesn’t mean that this absurdity has been undone. In fact, some inexorable process – that Yezza characterises as Kafkaesque – seems have been set going.


              Comment on Banners Design for Mobile Unlock Base by MichaelImmed        
    Our team is a unique producer of quality fake documents. We offer only original high-quality fake passports, driver's licenses, ID cards, stamps and other products for a number of countries like: USA, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Italy, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom. This list is not full. To get the additional information and place the order just visit our website: http://www.salepassportsfake.cc www. salepassportsfake.cc >> Contact e-mails: General support: support@salepassportsfake.cc Technical support: admin@salepassportsfake.cc ----------------------------- Keywords: buy fake passport of Afghanistan buy fake passport of Albania buy fake passport of Algeria buy fake passport of Andorra buy fake passport of Angola buy fake passport of Antigua & Deps buy fake passport of Argentina buy fake passport of Armenia buy fake passport of Australia buy fake passport of Austria buy fake passport of Azerbaijan buy fake passport of Bahamas buy fake passport of Bahrain buy fake passport of Bangladesh buy fake passport of Barbados buy fake passport of Belarus buy fake passport of Belgium buy fake passport of Belize buy fake passport of Benin buy fake passport of Bhutan buy fake passport of Bolivia buy fake passport of Bosnia Herzegovina buy fake passport of Botswana buy fake passport of Brazil buy fake passport of Brunei buy fake passport of Bulgaria buy fake passport of Burkina buy fake passport of Burundi buy fake passport of Cambodia buy fake passport of Cameroon buy fake passport of Canada buy fake passport of Cape Verde buy fake passport of Central African Rep buy fake passport of Chad buy fake passport of Chile buy fake passport of China buy fake passport of Colombia buy fake passport of Comoros buy fake passport of Congo buy fake passport of Congo Democratic Rep buy fake passport of Costa Rica buy fake passport of Croatia buy fake passport of Cuba buy fake passport of Cyprus buy fake passport of Czech Republic buy fake passport of Denmark buy fake passport of Djibouti buy fake passport of Dominica buy fake passport of Dominican Republic buy fake passport of East Timor buy fake passport of Ecuador buy fake passport of Egypt buy fake passport of El Salvador buy fake passport of Equatorial Guinea buy fake passport of Eritrea buy fake passport of Estonia buy fake passport of Ethiopia buy fake passport of Fiji buy fake passport of Finland buy fake passport of France buy fake passport of Gabon buy fake passport of Gambia buy fake passport of Georgia buy fake passport of Germany buy fake passport of Ghana buy fake passport of Greece buy fake passport of Grenada buy fake passport of Guatemala buy fake passport of Guinea buy fake passport of Guinea-Bissau buy fake passport of Guyana buy fake passport of Haiti buy fake passport of Honduras buy fake passport of Hungary buy fake passport of Iceland buy fake passport of India buy fake passport of Indonesia buy fake passport of Iran buy fake passport of Iraq buy fake passport of Ireland Republic buy fake passport of Israel buy fake passport of Italy buy fake passport of Ivory Coast buy fake passport of Jamaica buy fake passport of Japan buy fake passport of Jordan buy fake passport of Kazakhstan buy fake passport of Kenya buy fake passport of Kiribati buy fake passport of Korea North buy fake passport of Korea South buy fake passport of Kosovo buy fake passport of Kuwait buy fake passport of Kyrgyzstan buy fake passport of Laos buy fake passport of Latvia buy fake passport of Lebanon buy fake passport of Lesotho buy fake passport of Liberia buy fake passport of Libya buy fake passport of Liechtenstein buy fake passport of Lithuania buy fake passport of Luxembourg buy fake passport of Macedonia buy fake passport of Madagascar buy fake passport of Malawi buy fake passport of Malaysia buy fake passport of Maldives buy fake passport of Mali buy fake passport of Malta buy fake passport of Marshall Islands buy fake passport of Mauritania buy fake passport of Mauritius buy fake passport of Mexico buy fake passport of Micronesia buy fake passport of Moldova buy fake passport of Monaco buy fake passport of Mongolia buy fake passport of Montenegro buy fake passport of Morocco buy fake passport of Mozambique buy fake passport of Myanmar, Burma buy fake passport of Namibia buy fake passport of Nauru buy fake passport of Nepal buy fake passport of Netherlands buy fake passport of New Zealand buy fake passport of Nicaragua buy fake passport of Niger buy fake passport of Nigeria buy fake passport of Norway buy fake passport of Oman buy fake passport of Pakistan buy fake passport of Palau buy fake passport of Panama buy fake passport of Papua New Guinea buy fake passport of Paraguay buy fake passport of Peru buy fake passport of Philippines buy fake passport of Poland buy fake passport of Portugal buy fake passport of Qatar buy fake passport of Romania buy fake passport of Russian Federation buy fake passport of Rwanda buy fake passport of St Kitts & Nevis buy fake passport of St Lucia buy fake passport of Saint Vincent & the Grenadines buy fake passport of Samoa buy fake passport of San Marino buy fake passport of Sao Tome & Principe buy fake passport of Saudi Arabia buy fake passport of Senegal buy fake passport of Serbia buy fake passport of Seychelles buy fake passport of Sierra Leone buy fake passport of Singapore buy fake passport of Slovakia buy fake passport of Slovenia buy fake passport of Solomon Islands buy fake passport of Somalia buy fake passport of South Africa buy fake passport of Spain buy fake passport of Sri Lanka buy fake passport of Sudan buy fake passport of Suriname buy fake passport of Swaziland buy fake passport of Sweden buy fake passport of Switzerland buy fake passport of Syria buy fake passport of Taiwan buy fake passport of Tajikistan
              The Virus - An Ultra Lite Novel        


    The Virus
    (An Ultra Lite Novel by Howdy)

    This Monday started like most any day but would end anything but
    typical. The Weather Channel forecasted mild atmospheric conditions
    (even for November) but unfolding events would soon challenge and
    startle mankind as never before.

    In an elaborate government building somewhere in Rome, a multitude
    of dedicated world renowned computer and technology experts studied
    The Virus that had already secretly infected 98% of the planet's
    computers in its first stage. Up to this point, none outside this edifice
    had ascertained the existence of the silent menace.

    In Jerusalem, heavy crowds were milling around The Dome of the Rock,
    the third holiest site to Muslims worldwide. On the other side of the
    Wall, a larger than expected crowd of Jewish worshipers prayed even
    as portions of the wall continued to collapse.

    In New York City, the Stock Market opened slightly higher while
    down in Washington - Pentagon officials poured their second cup
    of Maxwell House Decaf. Further south, the last edition of The
    Atlanta Journal was being prepared while further west, parents
    turned toward their offices after depositing their children at school.

    Work halted temporarily in the government building as the new
    dynamic and charismatic leader's entourage entered. He spoke
    over the JBL sound system. "Good associates, The Virus is
    scheduled to be released as planned in two stages. Stage one as
    you know affects all the world's primary computers while the
    second will decrease the excess occupiers that have so strained
    our fragile environment. Both will begin to take effect within the
    hour thanks to your hard work." He will later become Time Magazine's
    "Man of the Year".

    Unexpected to those in Rome, The Wall in Jerusalem collapses and
    thousands of Muslims lose their lives along with hundreds of Jewish
    worshipers. The Dome of the Rock along with all nearby buildings of the
    Islamic Faith disappear into rubble. Within moments a very great riot
    commences with each side blaming the other. Syria (with Iraq's lost
    WMD) & Iran ready their hidden nuclear arsenal.

    With a new surprising show of unity in Beijing, Hanoi, Jakarta, Tokyo,
    Pyongyang, New Delhi along with other Far East capitals, 200 million
    multi-asian troops are placed on alert. Moscow prepares its revived
    army for an eventual march south....very far south.

    Stage one hits Wall Street, the Pentagon, Main Street and homes
    across America as well as the entire Western World. Business stops
    as all funds - the complete wealth of the Industrialized World - is
    transferred by computer virus via the web to Rome. All modern military
    weapons are now under the new leader's absolute command as well as
    the world's media (Rule of Rome once again).

    As the second stage of The Virus is released, millions will become sick
    and die with a highly infectious disease stronger that the SARS & Ebola
    viruses combined. Fortunately for some, certain large groups of people
    have been quietly immunized earlier. Millions of Christians disappear at
    5 PM EST (Midnight in Jerusalem) virtually unnoticed because of the
    pandemonium. The controlled media is not allowed to print this story.

    The President is declared lost because Air Force One is down over the
    Atlantic according to managed reports but did his aircraft ever leave
    Andrews Air Force Base? Is this a cover up from Rome to perhaps hide
    his evanescence also? Other prominent members of the President's
    Party are missing but from the other side? Exiguous.

    This disappearance will go virtually unnoticed because of the manipulated
    media and its potentate who controls also the world's assets & armaments -
    the ultimate coup d' tat - all without a shot being fired. He will woo the planet,
    restore peace to the Middle East for a short time with false promises of pro-
    tection as well as rebuild a new Jewish Temple on the destroyed site. The
    Islamic world will cheer because their faith has expected this great new leader.
    With an appearance before nearly all mankind live on all media (TV, radio, &
    even computers on-line), men, women, and children are mesmerized. Stay tuned...

    After The Return of The King:
    They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
    And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall
    not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they
    learn war anymore.


              A conversation with General Pace        
    Last month, I was thrilled to attend a talk hosted by Peter Pace, former Chairman of the U.S Joint Chiefs of Staff at JP Morgan's headquarters in New York City. During a Q&A session that followed the main talk, he fielded some good questions from investment bankers in the audience. The last question he answered was about which threats to American security kept him up at night. 


    His response surprised me. 


    First he listed things that you would expect, such as the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, political instability in Africa and the Middle East, the rise of China, the craziness of North Korea, the specter of general nuclear proliferation. Then he went back over each of these things and explained why they do not bother him too, too much. 


    What really bother him, he said, is the threat of cyber attackThe United States is extremely vulnerable to cyber weapons, he said. He mentioned that large firms like JP Morgan no doubt have the resources to protect themselves a bit from these threats. [Word on the street has it that they do this by hiring people straight out of the CIA and NSA]. But that smaller firms have no such protection, and it is in the best interest of everyone for large corporations and the US government work on security gaps together. 



    He said the advent of cyber weapons will have the same impact on relationships between nations as nuclear weapons has. Unlike nuclear weapons, however, thousands of cyber attacks occur each day. He knows what the United States could do to launch a cyber attack and knows what the country cannot defend against. Nation states have generally practiced self-deterrence and do not want a cyber attack launched against them. 
    It is not nation states that concern him as much as small terrorist groups. He said that small groups of individuals have the power to launch the sort of actions that only nation states could just a few years ago. 
    After the talk, I introduced myself to him as an Iraq veteran, which I hoped would soften him up a bit so I could pepper him with questions. When I asked him what kind of books or articles I could read in order to understand all this better from an insurance perspective, he said that the scene changes so fast that anything more than two years old is out-dated. He told me that updating your reading every two weeks was more like it. This all raised more questions than it answered. What sort of redundancies should web-based businesses develop, so that they can weather any conceivable storm???
    I welcome anyone's thoughts on this.

              In My Mailbox July 25-31        
    In My Mailbox was created by Kristi of The Story Siren.

    Outcasts United - Warren St. John
    The extraordinary tale of a refugee youth soccer team and the transformation of a small American town

    Clarkston, Georgia, was a typical Southern town until it was designated a refugee settlement center in the 1990s, becoming the first American home for scores of families in flight from the world’s war zones—from Liberia and Sudan to Iraq and Afghanistan. Suddenly Clarkston’s streets were filled with women wearing the hijab, the smells of cumin and curry, and kids of all colors playing soccer in any open space they could find. The town also became home to Luma Mufleh, an American-educated Jordanian woman who founded a youth soccer team to unify Clarkston’s refugee children and keep them off the streets. These kids named themselves the Fugees.

    Set against the backdrop of an American town that without its consent had become a vast social experiment, Outcasts United follows a pivotal season in the life of the Fugees and their charismatic coach....

    Outcasts United is actually my required reading for freshman seminar. I read the introduction, and I look forward to reading the rest. :P
              headbutts, port-o-potties, and a good book        
    well i guess if you're going to get thrown out of the world cup final, it might as well be for head-butting someone in the sternum b/c they called your sister a 'prostitute'...zidane, i still got mad love for you, man - deserved winner of the "golden boot" award and still a gentleman in my mind.







    as i watched the final at this bar on the beach, my mind raced through all the mileage, the laughs, the lonliness, the heat, the mercy from strangers, and the absolute stupidity i voluteered for. to see what i am talking about go to this site where a photographer took a series of pics during a moment when i was dared to jump over a shopping cart and then a couple of azzurri fans. the pile up in the end was celebratory, not retaliatory.

    italy v. usa post game party in the streets of kaiserslaughtern...
    http://galerie.partypix-saar.de/bilderscript/wnailer/nailer.php?page=4&did=170606-wmtorty



    absurd
    and yet another reason i will probably not go to japan, yet continue to love their sense of humor. this is easily the best practical joke i have ever seen:

    http://www.ebaumsworld.com/videos/port-a-potty-prank.html



    the fall of bagdhad

    also, if you are interested in the iraqi situation before, during, and after the invasion, you may want to pick this book up by jon lee anderson ( new yorker writer, who wrote the conclusive biography on che guevara) - it is a fact-packed memoir of a journalist's ongoing experience in iraq before the invasion, during the war, and a bit into the occupation. most interesting is not only anderson's sensitive and mostly unbiased account of both sides, but the personalities that emerge from his relationships with ordinary iraqis trying to navigate life in a tyrannical dictatorship, invasion, and shaky future.
              Hell Hath No Fury: True Stories of Women at War from Antiquity to Iraq        
    Hell Hath No Fury: True Stories of Women at War from Antiquity to Iraq
    author: Rosalind Miles
    name: Gwen
    average rating: 3.68
    book published: 2008
    rating: 0
    read at:
    date added: 2017/07/30
    shelves: to-read
    review:


              The Beckoning of Nuclear War        
    SUBHEAD: A glimpse of sanity, or simple pragmatism, is anathema to our "national security" managers.

    By John Pilger on 4 August 2017 for JohnPilger.com -
    (www.johnpilger.com/articles/on-the-beach-2017-the-beckoning-of-nuclear-war)

    [IB Publisher's note: As much as Trump may not wish a nuclear exchange with Russia, he seems quite amenable to turning North Korea into an ashtray. World War III may begin in  Guam and relay to Hawaii on its way  to the US mainland. Here in Hawaii it may mean Duck and Cover!]


    Image above: Detail of original paperback cover of Nevil Shute's 1957 novel "On the Beach". From (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/267542034087528868).

    In Nevil Shute's book "On the Beach" the US submarine captain says;
    "We've all got to die one day, some sooner and some later. The trouble always has been that you're never ready, because you don't know when it's coming. Well, now we do know and there's nothing to be done about it."
    He says he will be dead by September. It will take about a week to die, though no one can be sure. Animals live the longest.

    The war was over in a month. The United States, Russia and China were the protagonists. It is not clear if it was started by accident or mistake. There was no victor. The northern hemisphere is contaminated and lifeless now.

    A curtain of radioactivity is moving south towards Australia and New Zealand, southern Africa and South America. By September, the last cities, towns and villages will succumb. As in the north, most buildings will remain untouched, some illuminated by the last flickers of electric light.
    This is the way the world ends
    Not with a bang but a whimper

    These two lines from T.S. Eliot's poem The Hollow Men appear at the beginning of Nevil Shute's novel On the Beach, which left me close to tears. The endorsements on the cover said the same.

    Published in 1957 at the height of the Cold War when too many writers were silent or cowed, it is a masterpiece. At first the language suggests a genteel relic; yet nothing I have read on nuclear war is as unyielding in its warning. No book is more urgent.

    Some readers will remember the black and white Hollywood film starring Gregory Peck as the US Navy commander who takes his submarine to Australia to await the silent, formless spectre descending on the last of the living world.

    I read On the Beach for the first time the other day, finishing it as the US Congress passed a law to wage economic war on Russia, the world's second most lethal nuclear power.  There was no justification for this insane vote, except the promise of plunder.

    The "sanctions" are aimed at Europe, too, mainly Germany, which depends on Russian natural gas and on European companies that do legitimate business with Russia. In what passed for debate on Capitol Hill, the more garrulous senators left no doubt that the embargo was designed to force Europe to import expensive American gas.

    Their main aim seems to be war - real war. No provocation as extreme can suggest anything else. They seem to crave it, even though Americans have little idea what war is. The Civil War of 1861-5 was the last on their mainland. War is what the United States does to others.

    The only nation to have used nuclear weapons against human beings, they have since destroyed scores of governments, many of them democracies, and laid to waste whole societies - the million deaths in Iraq were a fraction of the carnage in Indo-China, which President Reagan called "a noble cause" and President Obama revised as the tragedy of an "exceptional people"He was not referring to the Vietnamese.

    Filming last year at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, I overheard a National Parks Service guide lecturing a school party of young teenagers. "Listen up," he said. "We lost 58,000 young soldiers in Vietnam, and they died defending your freedom."

    At a stroke, the truth was inverted. No freedom was defended. Freedom was destroyed. A peasant country was invaded and millions of its people were killed, maimed, dispossessed, poisoned; 60,000 of the invaders took their own lives. Listen up, indeed.

    A lobotomy is performed on each generation. Facts are removed. History is excised and replaced by what Time magazine calls "an eternal present".

    Harold Pinter described this as "manipulation of power worldwide, while masquerading as a force for universal good, a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis [which meant] that it never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest."

    Those who call themselves liberals or tendentiously "the left" are eager participants in this manipulation, and its brainwashing, which today revert to one name: Trump.

    Trump is mad, a fascist, a dupe of Russia. He is also a gift for "liberal brains pickled in the formaldehyde of identity politics", wrote Luciana Bohne memorably. The obsession with Trump the man - not Trump as a symptom and caricature of an enduring system - beckons great danger for all of us.

    While they pursue their fossilised anti-Russia agendas, narcissistic media such as the Washington Post, the BBC and the Guardian suppress the essence of the most important political story of our time as they warmonger on a scale I cannot remember in my lifetime.

    On 3 August, in contrast to the acreage the Guardian has given to drivel that the Russians conspired with Trump (reminiscent of the far-right smearing of John Kennedy as a "Soviet agent"), the paper buried, on page 16, news that the President of the United States was forced to sign a Congressional bill declaring economic war on Russia. Unlike every other Trump signing, this was conducted in virtual secrecy and attached with a caveat from Trump himself that it was "clearly unconstitutional".

    A coup against the man in the White House is under way. This is not because he is an odious human being, but because he has consistently made clear he does not want war with Russia.

    This glimpse of sanity, or simple pragmatism, is anathema to the "national security" managers who guard a system based on war, surveillance, armaments, threats and extreme capitalism. Martin Luther King called them "the greatest purveyors of violence in the world today".

    They have encircled Russia and China with missiles and a nuclear arsenal. They have used neo-Nazis to instal an unstable, aggressive regime on Russia's "borderland" - the way through which Hitler invaded, causing the deaths of 27 million people.  Their goal is to dismember the modern Russian Federation.

    In response, "partnership" is a word used incessantly by Vladimir Putin - anything, it seems, that might halt an evangelical drive to war in the United States. Incredulity in Russia may have now turned to fear and perhaps a certain resolution. The Russians almost certainly have war-gamed nuclear counter strikes. Air-raid drills are not uncommon. Their history tells them to get ready.

    The threat is simultaneous. Russia is first, China is next. The US has just completed a huge military exercise with Australia known as Talisman Sabre. They rehearsed a blockade of the Malacca Straits and the South China Sea, through which pass China's economic lifelines.

    The admiral commanding the US Pacific fleet said that, "if required", he would nuke China. That he would say such a thing publicly in the current perfidious atmosphere begins to make fact of Nevil Shute's fiction.

    None of this is considered news. No connection is made as the bloodfest of Passchendaele a century ago is remembered. Honest reporting is no longer welcome in much of the media. Windbags, known as pundits, dominate: editors are infotainment or party line managers. Where there was once sub-editing, there is the liberation of axe-grinding clichés. Those journalists who do not comply are defenestrated.

    The urgency has plenty of precedents. In my film, The Coming War on China, John Bordne, a member of a US Air Force missile combat crew based in Okinawa, Japan, describes how in 1962 - during the Cuban missile crisis - he and his colleagues were "told to launch all the missiles" from their silos.

    Nuclear armed, the missiles were aimed at both China and Russia. A junior officer questioned this, and the order was eventually rescinded - but only after they were issued with service revolvers and ordered to shoot at others in a missile crew if they did not "stand down".

    At the height of the Cold War, the anti-communist hysteria in the United States was such that US officials who were on official business in China were accused of treason and sacked. In 1957 - the year Shute wrote On the Beach - no official in the State Department could speak the language of the world's most populous nation. Mandarin speakers were purged under strictures now echoed in the Congressional bill that has just passed, aimed at Russia.

    The bill was bipartisan. There is no fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans. The terms "left" and "right" are meaningless. Most of America's modern wars were started not by conservatives, but by liberal Democrats.

    When Obama left office, he presided over a record seven wars, including America's longest war and an unprecedented campaign of extrajudicial killings - murder - by drones.

    In his last year, according to a Council on Foreign Relations study, Obama, the "reluctant liberal warrior", dropped 26,171 bombs - three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day.  Having pledged to help "rid the world" of nuclear weapons, the Nobel Peace Laureate built more nuclear warheads than any president since the Cold War.

    Trump is a wimp by comparison. It was Obama - with his secretary of state Hillary Clinton at his side - who destroyed Libya as a modern state and launched the human stampede to Europe. At home, immigration groups knew him as the "deporter-in-chief".

    One of Obama's last acts as president was to sign a bill that handed a record $618billion to the Pentagon, reflecting the soaring ascendancy of fascist militarism in the governance of the United States. Trump has endorsed this.

    Buried in the detail was the establishment of a "Center for Information Analysis and Response". This is a ministry of truth. It is tasked with providing an "official narrative of facts" that will prepare us for the real possibility of nuclear war - if we allow it.


    Video above: "On the Beach" the complete 1959 movie from Nevil Shute's  novel. From (https://youtu.be/Ue8hC5qqMt4).

    .

              A Modest Proposal *        
    Government-sponsored homophobia in this country has now officially jumped the shark.

    SHE WASN'T ASKED AND DIDN'T TELL.... Amy Brian, as a Kansas Army National Guard lieutenant, served honorably in Iraq. She was part of a convoy that was hit by an IED; she worked 12-hour shifts at Camp Anaconda; and her superiors asked her to narrate award ceremonies.

    By all appearances, Amy Brian is the type of proud, patriotic American we would all want to wear the uniform. Upon returning home after a tour of duty, Brian was given a job reorganizing the Kansas Army National Guard's government purchase card program. Except now she's been discharged -- because someone found out Brian is gay.

    SNIP

    She joins nearly 12,500 other lesbian, gay and bisexual service members who have been discharged by the Pentagon from 1994 through 2007.

    And in the New York Times, a Marine who served two tours in Iraq explains why he has changed his mind about DADT and now opposes it.

    In addition, six years of war have clarified priorities. The battlefield has its own values, starting with courage. Sexual orientation falls somewhere below musical taste. What a person chooses to do back stateside, off-duty, in his own apartment is irrelevant in a fight. For months I lived with 12 other American advisers on an Iraqi outpost. There was a single pipe shower next to a hole that masqueraded as a sewer. But the reality of combat dominated personality quirks — nobody wondered about sexual orientation.

    A 2006 poll of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans showed that 72 percent were personally comfortable interacting with gays. Bonnie Moradi, a University of Florida psychologist, and Laura Miller, a sociologist at the Rand Corporation, summarized the study this way: "The data indicated no associations between knowing a lesbian or gay unit member and ratings of perceived unit cohesion or readiness. Instead, findings pointed to the importance of leadership and instrumental quality in shaping perceptions of unit cohesion and readiness."

    The other readiness argument concerns recruiting. To fill its swelling ranks, the military now grants one in five recruits waivers for disqualifications that run the gamut from attention-deficit disorder to obesity to armed robbery convictions. In a press conference last fall, Maj. Gen. Thomas Bostick, the head of Army recruiting, said the relevant question in considering such applicants was, "Does that person deserve an opportunity to serve their country?" That's exactly right. And to choose a felon over a combat-proven veteran on the basis of sexuality is defeatist. Ask any squad leader.

    In the end, however, there is one factor that outweighs public opinion, troop morale and recruiting combined. The military is a dictatorship, not a republic. It is built to win in combat. Its strict codes of conduct ensure good order and discipline.

    If "don't ask, don't tell" is rescinded, military leaders will ensure smooth compliance, as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, has said. Cohesion depends on leadership. Our troops will follow the lead of our combat-tested professionals who base their opinions on what a soldier brings to the fight, and little else.

    So here's my proposal: reinstate the draft, expanding it to include both men and women, age 18 to 50, but restricting military service to homosexuals. Only homosexuals. No more heterosexuals in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard or Reserves. Bonus: no more inconvenient pregnancies in the all-gay Armed Forces!

    Why stop at the military? Let's ban heterosexuals from the government benefits of marriage, too. Seriously, they've had it to themselves for 5,000 years and have completely fucked it up. Gay-only marriage can't possibly make it any worse, and might even improve it.

    Gay-Only Adoption. No more subjecting orphans to the twisted values of so-called straights.

    And I can't imagine someone barred from serving in the military, from state-sanctioned marriage, from adopting, passing an FBI background check for a federal job.

    Think of the political campaigns! Spying on candidates, trying to get pictures of them embracing someone of the opposite sex, the interviews with tearful gay spouses, the denials of heterosexual perversions.

    Certainly no more ridiculous than the self-defeating anti-gay idiocy we've got now.

    * With apologies to Jonathan Swift.

    Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic.

              The New Anti-Americans        
    Just objecting to President Obama's plan for saving the economy and the world is not enough to be anti-American. Even publicly hoping, as Rush Limpballs does, that President Obama fails in everything he does is not enough to be anti-American.

    No, to be one of the New Anti-Americans, you must combine strong dissent toward our new President with a long record of condemning as anti-American all those who dissented against War Criminal, Constitution-Shredder and Traitor George W. Bush.

    For all of us who spent the last eight years enduring verbal and even physical attacks because we dared to express our anti-war, anti-torture, pro-Constitution, anti-bush patriotism, Blue Girl has a rant that will make your heart soar.

    I remember being one of the people who opposed this war from the outset. I remember a squareheaded asshole with a buzz cut pushing his bumper up against mine and trying to push me into traffic a few days before the war started because I had bumper stickers on my truck that said "No War On Iraq" and "Get Afghanistan Right" - when he sped away I saw his..."This time, Anti-War is Anti-American."

    I remember being told by the dispatcher at the police department that I might should take those bumper stickers off my truck because "this is a pretty patriotic town."

    I remember the armchair patriots I worked with there being shocked that a military person was against a war, and how they viewed me with suspicion after learning that.

    I remember having my patriotism questioned, even though I was the one with a record of service to point to.

    And all of my opposing positions were prefaced with "I hope I'm wrong because if I'm right and this fails, America fails, and that is the last thing I want to see happen."

    Yet I'm anti-American and these assholes are the patriots?

    Bullshit. They are traitorous, treasonous cowards, and they do not deserve the rights afforded them by the people like my husband, and elmo, and Rook and, to a lesser extent, me and everyone else who stepped up and took that oath to the Constitution and did so enthusiastically because we knew what was said therein.

    They don't deserve the civil liberties that men and women like bmaz and grolaw fight every day to defend in court. They don't deserve the the protections of the law that my friend RW works within every day to protect society in her role as a prosecutor.

    Fuck Rush Limbaugh.

    Read the whole thing.

    Cross-posted at Blue in the Bluegrass.
              Progressive Progress in the Economic Stimulus        
    As the Senate girds for battle over the repug-sabotaged economic stimulus, Talking Points Memo brings us a reminder of the progressive priorities that made it into the House bill and deserve saving in the Senate.

    The Congressional Progressive Caucus just released a memo that offers a worthy counterpoint to our discussions today about the Republicans' baldly misleading message on the stimulus.

    The Progressives have rounded up elements of their proposed $1 trillion stimulus that ended up making it into the Democratic leaders' final bill, in part or in whole. It's a list that's worth remembering while tax cuts seemingly dominate the airwaves.

    The highlights of the memo are after the jump:

    • Unemployment benefits (UI) extension. Cost = at least $12.7 billion

    • Anti-hunger provisions

    * SNAP - 20% temporary increase in maximum food stamp level above the FY2009 level for two years. Cost = approximately $24 billion and increase in funds for state food stamp administrative costs Cost= $250 million;

    * WIC - increase funding to make up for shortfall not covered in the current Continuing Resolution. Cost = $450 million and increases for management information system and related infrastructure improvements. Cost = $50 million;

    * School meals - provide a 15% increase in funding for breakfast and school lunch programs. Cost = $1 billion;

    • Medicaid payments to states (FMAP). Cost = at least $15 billion

    • LIHEAP assistance to provide low-income Americans relief from higher energy costs. Cost = at least $5 billion

    • Job creation via down payment on rebuilding America's infrastructure and schools, starting with massive investment in commercialization of green technologies and related job training that promote environmental protection and energy independence. Cost = at least $100 billion

    ** In general:

    • No funds for Iraq or Afghanistan wars and no funds for defense procurement.

    • Prevailing wage to be paid for jobs created and upholding of Davis-Bacon Act

    These are, of course, just a downpayment on the long list of repairs to the New Deal and Great Society needed after three decades of repug destruction.

    But if these provisions remain in the final bill and President Obama signs it by Darwin Day, then I'd say we're well on our way to recovery.

              Paraísos cercanos II        
    Seguimos desenterrando los destinos más apetecibles y desconocidos de nuestro país. En esta selección un recorrido por las Islas, costas y por supuesto la zona interior.

    - Calas Tramontanas. La isla de Menorca es una de las más conocidas internacionalmente pero la zona norte llena de cuevas y barrancos esculpidos por el aire de tramontana en la zona del puerto de Ciutadella hasta la Cala Morrel es una parte desconocida. El Oeste es la zona más virgen donde se encuentra el Humedal de las marismas de Tirant y LLuria. Para darse un baño la mejor opción son las calas de Pregonda y Binimel.
    - Sierra de Pela (Soria). Humildes iglesias románicas, barrancos rojizos donde anidan los buitres. Es una comarca con encinares milenarios, y silenciosas noches. En Tiermes está la pompeya española con yacimientos celtíberos de una ciudadela fundada en el 98 antes de Cristo que incluso tenía teatro y baños públicos.

    - Sigüenza (Guadalajara). Sigue manteniendo su estructura pese al paso de los años, la ciudad alta es medieval y la baja barroca. Visita obligada a la catedral para ver el sepulcro del Doncel de Sigüenza. En los alrededores también hay pueblos nobles admirables para visitar Palazuelos, Caravias y Pozancos. Otro lugar para visitar es Atienza, ubicado en un cerro.
    - La Tinença de Benifassà (Castellón). La comunidad valenciana es conocida por su costa, pero en su interior también guarda lugares soprendentes. Es el caso del Parque Natural que agrupa siete pueblos muy bien conservados. En el lugar abundan espesos bosques de pino negro y albar y fauna mediterránea, sobretodo aves. Allí se puede practicar senderismo, po ejemplo subir al cerro de los tres reyes para ver una panorámica excelente de tierras de Teruel, Castellón y Tarragona.

    - Jumilla y Yecla (Murcia) A pesar de que Murcia se considere una región muy llana cuenta con serranías como El Carche, en Jumilla, declarado Parque Nacional desde donde se practica el parapente y vuelo en ala delta. A 13 kilómetros se encuentra el yacimiento paleontológico de la Hoya de la Sima, el único en España con huellas del mioceno superior de animales. Yecla cuenta con la cueva del lagrimal y el Monte Arabí que alberga pinturas paleolíticas. Abundan los senderos, caminos, cañadas para hacer rutas.
    - Valle de Alcudia-Campo de Calatrava (Ciudad Real). Revive el Quijote en estas tierras. En esta zona también abundan los volcanes activos en épocas pasadas, aún se pueden ver los cráteres como los de la Yesoza en Almagro. Para relajarse, al sur está Fuentecaliente baños termales con mucha fama.

    - Las Alpujarras (Andalucía). Al sur de Sierra Nevada se encuentra esta comarca, una de las más conocidas de Andalucía. Durante siglos fue lugar de convivencia entre musulmanes y cristianos, que comenzaron a cultivarla con terrazas y bancales. Tras la expulsión morisca, la región mantiene su historia y arquitectura. Se caracteriza por los pequeños pueblos blancos colgados de las laderas. A tan solo 50 kilómetros puedes encontrar las costas y playas.
    - Tarifa (Cádiz) Se ha convertido en la cuna para los surferos, atraídos por los fuertes vientos del lugar. Pero no sólo del viento vive Tarifa, para los más tranquilos pueden visitar el Parque Natural de los Alcornocales. En la playa de los Lances, abierta y venteada, acuden las aves para emprender su viaje migratorio, también es común ver manadas de cetáceos atravesando el mediterráneo.

    - El Hierro (Tenerife) La isla más pequeña de las Canarias es la más diversa, desde áridos terrenos y formaciones volcánicas hasta el oasis de fertilidad del valle del Golfo. También laurisilva en la zona central de la isla, una costa rocosa y abrupta y especies endémicas como el lagarto gigante de hasta metro y medio. No sólo puedes bañarte en el mar, las piscinas naturales del Monacal son otra opción. Y si quires disfrutar de la única playa de arena de la Isla tienes que acudir a la Bahía de Timijiraque. Desde el año 200o El Hierro es reserva de la Biosfera.
    - Las Villuercas e Ibores (Caceres) Uno de los lugares más secretos y pintorescos. Cinco sierras, dos rios (Tajo y Guadiana), alta montaña y dehesas, sotos de castañares y encinas, abundantes cursos de agua, pueblos que conservan su historia, restos de asentamiento celta, pinturas rupestres. Obras de arte en el Museo del Real Monasterio de Santa María de Guadalupe, cuadros de Zurbarán, Goya y El Greco. Baja a algunas de las múltiples gargantas en busca del hermoso y escasísimo árbol de la niebla, conocido en la comarca como el loro, una especie cuyas hojas canalizan el agia de la niebla y la dirigen hacia el suelo en un fenómeno conocido como "Lluvia horizontal".

    El dinero ya no es excusa para viajar este verano a cualquiera de estos destinos y otros muchos más que están mas cerca de lo que creemos. No hace falta cruzar fronteras para conocer lugares, nuestra propia tierra es una gran desconocida para la mayoría de nosotros.
              U.S. Appeals Court Tosses Ex-Blackwater Guard's Conviction In 2007 Baghdad Massacre        
    Updated at 2:15 p.m. ET A federal appeals court has thrown out the murder conviction of an ex-Blackwater security guard and ordered three others to be resentenced in connection with the 2007 massacre of 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in Baghdad. The high-profile incident called into question the role played by U.S. security contractors in Iraq. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said Friday that Nicholas Slatten, who was convicted in 2014 of first-degree murder and later sentenced to life in prison, should be allowed a new trial. The judges said that Slatten, who was the only defendant charged with murder, should have been tried separately and that a new trial would allow him to introduce evidence that he wasn't the first to open fire. Separately, the judges also ordered the resentencing of Slatten's former Blackwater colleagues Paul Slough, Dustin Heard and Evan Liberty, who had each been serving 30 years on manslaughter and weapons
              A Muslim's Top 10 Wishes for 2016        

    This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post on January 3, 2015. You can find the original article by clicking here or on the title. 

    A Muslim's Top 10 Wishes for 2016

    Have you ever made a wish that's come true -- because you made the wish? Until now, making a wish, whether at the sight of a shooting star or when blowing out the candle(s) on your birthday cake or when breaking a wishbone, has not yet been scientifically proven to actually work, as far as I know. Yet, in the spirit of hope, I am making 10 wishes at the beginning of the New Year. And as is always the case, as a Muslim, I speak on behalf of 1.5 billion people. So here goes...
    1. People no longer confuse me with ISIS.
    My name isn't ISIS. It's not even Islamic State. In fact, the words Islamic or State are not actually in my extended name. Nevertheless, time and time again, I keep getting requests to respond to the group's actions. I swear, ISIS or ISIL or IS -- none of them are in my family tree; they're not some distant cousins of mine. In 2016, I just want people to stop confusing me with ISIS. I really don't know what ISIS is thinking and why they do what they do. It's not like the State Department is asked for comment because of the State-to-State connection. As a postscript, can ISIS stop using the word Islamic? 
    2. Muslims stop killing Muslims for being Muslim.
    Somewhere, along the way over the last couple of decades, Muslims started killing other Muslims for being Muslim in the wrong way, or at least took it to a whole new level. There's a whole ideology out there built around takfir or essentially "declaring Muslims as kufar or unbelievers" for failing an evermore peculiar litmus test. Imagine if death squads emerged killing Black people for not being Black enough. Originating in some of the philosophical exhortations by scholar Ibn Taymiyyah 700 years ago, the criteria by which you are deemed "takfir-ed" and permissible to be killed has reached insane if not idiosyncratic levels. It would be funny if the situation weren't so deadly. Even barbers were caught in the crosshairs and were being assassinated in Baghdad in the 2000s. 
    3. Death and destruction in the Muslim world have a timeout. 
    From Yemen to IraqLibya to Somalia, and from Afghanistan to far beyond, civil strife is rife in too many parts of what is defined as the Muslim world. Autocrats, militants, extremists and terrorists, don't care who they kill: men, women, children -- everyone is fair game. I wish this would stop. Into this toxic mix, the last thing needed is more killing coming into these countries from the outside; the 2003 invasion of Iraq proved that. I wonder if Russia will hear that message? 
    4. We all get comfortable with the "other."
    What a difference it was in 2015 between Trudeau and Trump in the North American political cycle. The world needs more Trudeaus and less Trumps (Donalds that is). The fear of the "other" is starting to define Western politics and it is not just about Trump. The rise of right-wing political parties in Europe from Hungary to Denmark is a poignant reminder of the breadth of this phenomenon. Yet, outside the West this fear of the other also permeates and often dominates. In Turkey, we are seeing a renewed vilification of the Kurdish population. Further afield in Burma, the Rohingyaare cast as outsiders. In Malaysia, Christians are prohibited from using the Arabic word for God. And, in nearby Brunei, Christmas was simply cancelled. In some of the war zones in the Middle East, Christians are on the verge of disappearing. The world would be a lot better off if we weren't so afraid of the bogeyman of the other.
    5. The Muslim world deals with its taboos. 
    Speaking of an aversion to the non-orthodox, there's a whole set of taboos that many Muslim countries and societies need to start dealing with. A lot of them relate to sex. Sometimes the Muslim world acts like it has one big case of the cooties. There have been attempts by some to break through these restrictions. Wedad Lootah in the UAE comes to mind. Shereen El Feki's Sex and the Citadel is another. This is not an issue to take lightly, especially in societies where 60-70 percent of youth are under the age of 30. Bombarded by sexualized imagery from modern and digital media, these youth then live, essentially, in an austere second world that is their reality. More importantly and tragically, rape and sexual assault are simply not talked about; child abuse is an even worse curse hidden under the rug. Finally, at some point Muslim countries - and the clerical establishment -- will need to come to terms with the fact that gay Muslims exist
    6. Somewhere, over the rainbow, democracy and Islam go steady. 
    Let's be honest, a lot of people have tried to set up democracy with Islam for a relationship. Sometimes it has been a surprise blind date (e.g. Iraq in 2003). Other times, it was a relationship that grew from blind passion (e.g. the Arab world in 2011). Often, the sparks of love eventually turn into animus and things quickly go south. In the Arab world, Tunisia is carrying - with some fragility -- the banner of democracy. Many Muslim-majority countries that used to be counted as democracies now suffer from authoritarian syndromes (e.g. TurkeyMalaysia, and Bangladesh). In other cases, democracy in its infancy quickly devolved into score settling or majoritarian mafias (e.g. the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt). Perhaps Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country is our hope that can breathe life into this wish. 
    7. Averroes comes back in style. 
    Averroes -- or Ibn Rushd -- was a man's man. He schooled his way into Raphael's The School of Athens. The polymath kept alive ancient Greek philosophy, paving the way for much of Europe's modern intellectual movements. Back in the day, in Andalusia, he was a big deal (Biden-style). And, why not? He vociferously argued for the co-existence of secular and religious thought in a posthumous debate with the Abbasid scholar Al Ghazali. Ultimately, Ibn Rushd lost the debate to the detriment of the Muslim world, but his arguments culminated with the work, The Incoherence of Incoherence, which I think would be a great riposte to all ISIS ideologues and their friends. If Ibn Taymiyyah came back, then let's bring Averroes back too. 
    8. Flying while Muslim is no longer a thing. 
    They say that flying while Muslim is the new driving while Black. I guess if you're a Black Muslim, this really sucks, especially if you drive to the airport for your flight. So my wish maybe can be two-pronged: getting rid of both 'driving while Black' as well as 'flying while Muslim.' What is flying while Muslim? Well, it often starts with a casual stare or two from across the way. A timid approach then ensues: "Excuse me sir." This is normally followed by a more forceful: "Please follow me." It can then get quite aggressive, with clothes falling by the wayside. It normally ends with your belongings in disarray, your belt on backwards, and you fast-walking without turning back in the hope that no one thinks twice about you boarding your flight. Oh, and don't watch the news while on the plane. I hate flying while Muslim. 
    9. Trump presides over a Muslim beauty contest. 
    Was 2015 the year of Trump? You have to hand it to Trump; he sure knows how to grab the spotlight. Unfortunately, he's used that spotlight to spew increasingly populist venom targeted at Muslims (and others). Maybe, we need to better appeal to Trump's core interest: beauty pageants. There are a few lists circulating online for potential Muslim contestants (for Men: click here | for Women: click here). Yet, I think we should make this a mipsters pageant and turn this whole thing on its head. 
    10. Peace comes to Syria. 
    This Muslim (me) -- speaking on behalf of 1.5 billion people around the world -- has 10 wishes for 2016 but if only one of them came true it should be this one. No country has been more ravaged in recent memory than Syria. Hundreds of thousands have been killed as gangsters, terrorists, and dictators fight for supremacy. The surrounding region, instead of trying to promote a solution, has sent in weapons, fighters, and incitement. The world, instead of trying to mediate, has sought to settle old scores. All the while, the people in Syria live in lifeless limbo amidst daily death and destruction. If I had only one wish it would be that the violence in Syria would come to an end. 
    This wish list is non-exhaustive. I think I may have missed a few...

              Application for Middle East Correspondent        


    On December 16, the Los Angeles Times posted an opening for a new Middle East Correspondent.
    The Los Angeles Times is looking for a seasoned reporter to cover the Middle East.

    This correspondent will anchor our coverage of the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Syria, as well as monitoring the turbulent progress of “democracy” in Egypt, North Africa and the Gulf. But more than that, we are looking for an accomplished writer who is capable of plunging into these ancient and dazzling cultures, capturing their mesmerizing variety, deep intellectual history, turbulent social upheaval and — from ISIS insurgents to entrenched dictators — their capability for brutish violence.

    The successful candidate will be the one who avoids the office and wanders the back roads; who will leave the others to tally the daily mayhem and bring us stories we will not have the power to forget.

    Fluency in Arabic is strongly preferred. Home base is negotiable. Please apply to Kim Murphy, assistant managing editor for foreign and national news.
    After a week of contemplation I finally decided to apply. Here's my Cover Letter. Please wish me luck!

    Dear Kim,

    I consider myself seasoned - well at least lightly seasoned- especially at the time of the holiday season, and so I thought why not: maybe I should apply to be the Middle East Correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. What can I tell you - I have always loved living in the Middle East ever since my first visit to Damascus in 2003. I have travelled from Baghdad to Agrabah and everywhere in between over the last decade or so. Along the way I too have learned to put things like "democracy" in quotes. Sometimes I put it in double quotation marks because "democracy" that is imported can become an even more interesting version of ""democracy."" But that is neither here nor there. I too agree with you that the only thing really worth covering in this region - besides the contested debate over Hommus in my humble opinion - are the "ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Syria" and the "turbulent progress of democracy in Egypt, North Africa, and the Gulf." What better way to ensure that the readers of the Los Angeles Times have an in-depth understanding of the region than to ensure they only hear about those specific issues? However, I know you are looking for "more than that" from the new correspondent. An accomplished writer? Sure let's check that box. Capable of plunging into ancient and dazzling cultures? I have been known to take the plunge but only rarely dazzle. By the way normally when someone refers to ancient and dazzling, I don't really think of the Middle East but maybe Jack Nicholson. Nevertheless I feel you about this place. I too love its "mesmerizing variety" and "deep intellectual history", topics that are almost superfluously covered in the pages of the LA Times.

    Allow me at this point to pivot to what I think is my defining characteristic - and a key characteristic for anyone who writes about these Middle Eastern "dazzling cultures": my ability to understand "their capability for brutish violence." I know you are looking for a focus on ISIS insurgents and entrenched dictators but what about Jafar the sinister wicked Vizier? Or how about further afield, Scar and his brutish attack on Simba and Mufasa? Or Shere Khan - does anyone really understand why he went after Baloo? What caused him to choose violent extremism? I'm sorry, I digress. Getting back to the point: I am your man, your successful candidate. Just as the doctor ordered, I always avoid the office. I don't really wander the back roads - do you? What do you do there? Finally I wholeheartedly support your call: who needs to tally the mayhem when we can indulge on stories to give us the power to forget.

    Should you find my candidacy deserving, please be in touch with me and I will fly my carpet right over for an interview.

    Sincerely,

    Taufiq

              Muslim Liberals Caught in No Man's Land        
    Originally published in Huffington Post
    Muslim Liberals Caught in No Man's Land
    "Islam is the motherload of bad ideas." - Sam Harris
    "That's just a fact." - Bill Maher
    When the host of Real Time on HBO, Bill Maher, tag-teamed with 'new atheist' Sam Harris, to lead an assault on Islam last week, it was Batman-to-be Ben Affleck who stood up as the inexplicable first line of defense against the disjointed attack. Rounding out the panel of record, was New York Times activist Nicholas Kristof and Republican-lite Michael Steele. The debate - in which, of course no Muslims participated - quickly went viral. In the messy aftermath, Sam Harris even claimed that the media reaction vindicated him and proved his point. 
    While Maher and his sidekick, Harris - and for that matter the entire Dawkinsian crew - may not be the bigots that Affleck accused them of being, they certainly should not feel any sense of self-absorbed vindication. They are not emissaries of the truth nor do they represent the vanguard of neo-enlightenment. Rather they come across as pseudo-intellectual bullies driven by a vain desire for celebrity, feigning any concern for the 'victims of Islam' they cite in remarks branching from their central diatribe against the religion. In effect, they silence the very Muslim liberals and champions who are leading the charge for a more just, equal, and tolerant (i.e. liberal, I guess) Muslim world, forcing on them a Faustian and false choice between identity and values. 
    Just today, Malala Yousafzai, the ardent campaigner for girls' education from Pakistan and a proud Muslim, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In fact, five of the last twelve recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize have been Muslim. These five alongside millions of others seek to promote progressive and positive change in the Muslim world. They constitute everyday Muslims, not necessarily Islam incarnate. The reason this distinction is important is that treating as equal the Muslim world and the ideology of Islam is a misdirection that confuses an evolving 1,400-year philosophy with a disaggregated non-body politic of 1.5 billion people. As I wrote on these pagesseveral weeks ago, it does not mean ignoring a problem but diagnosing it accurately: 
    "There is no crisis in Islam. But, there is, conversely and unmistakably, an existential crisis (or crises) in the Muslim world...The approach of religious discourse divorces us from what is the larger crisis facing the Muslim world, which is one of being mired in a political, social and economic malaise, characterized by hollow leadership and disintegrating states, an environment into which extremism seeps."
    Malala and others are the vanguard in the fight being waged by Muslim liberals, one that is just unfolding, and which contests a broad range of injustices, inequalities, and intolerances in Muslim-majority countries. Yet, these individuals are also caught in a tripartite 'battle' that is ongoing: within the West, within the Muslim world and between the West and Muslim world. These battles are not clear-cut by any means, but each places the Muslim liberal effectively in no man's land. 
    Within the West, we are witnessing the rise of xenophobic and anti-immigration sentiment broadly in the conservative movement, and in the United States, most acutely, on the fringes of the Republican Party. This has been exacerbated by the War on Terror, in which, domestically, the Muslim constitutes the ubiquitous bogeyman. So mainstream is this sentiment, that a series such as Homeland entertains many Muslim Americans, even though it not-so-subtly portends that every Muslim from a secular journalist to a CIA agent could be a threat, simply because he or she is Muslim. More tangibly, in terms of everyday consequences, each new mosque in the U.S. now faces anti-Sharia protestors, including from sitting politicians (who conveniently forget the meaning of the First Amendment). 
    In Europe, however, while there has been similar sentiment from the conservative side of the spectrum, such as from political parties such as the UKIP or BNP in the United Kingdom, it has often dovetailed with a similarly xenophobic liberal view, such as that espoused by Sam Harris. Much akin to the convergence of the liberal humanitarian perspective with the neoconservative movement in recent years (e.g. prior to the Iraq War in 2003), this neo-liberalism is partly a revivalist movement of the White Man's Burden. Overall, within this battle, Islam is portrayed as a flawed essence, and there can be no equivocation. When an assured liberal such as Reza Aslan appears on CNN, he is forced to choose between Islam and liberalism, and asked to re-confirm that indeed Islam is the threat. Meanwhile, the anchors (on CNN) fail to realize that this would mean he would be asserting that he himself (and many members of his family) have an essentialized evilness about them. Whether or not a person like Reza Aslan is liberal is cast aside due to this inability to disavow Islam.
    Yet, it is not just Muslims on the American side of the Atlantic who are caught up in this game. In the Muslim world's own multi-dimensional civil war, we see hyper-nationalists and Islamists battling it out, overlaid with a layer of sectarian strife. Muslim liberals - a term used loosely without weighing the religiosity of individuals - are often the last ones in the streets pushing for open societies. Take the example of the exemplary Alaa Abdel Fattah in Egypt, who, fresh off from being released from prison on bail after being charged for encouraging a demonstration, had his nomination for the prestigious Sakharov Prize revoked. He, like all Muslims, inevitably faced the pro-Israel test, and (two weeks ago) failed. Already under threat of condemnation from within their countries, Muslim liberals within Muslim countries are abandoned in their hour of need by the haughtier-than-though 'critics' in the West. Muslim liberals may be fighting for democracy, against gender discrimination, and for the rights of minorities, but they likely have not reconciled with Zionism. Ask Malala for her views on Israel: you may not like the answer
    Finally, since 9/11 (and before as well), Western countries have increasingly been at war in the Middle East and within other majority-Muslim countries. The recent strikes against ISIS are just one recent example. In this battle, again the Muslim liberal is caught in no man's land. On one hand, he or she will surely be in favor of crushing the cancer that is ISIS but not by any means necessary nor will this mean broad support for the securitization of the interaction between the West and the Muslim world. When a recent video surfaced on Fox News from the Harvard campus, where many students alleged that the U.S. had a more detrimental footprint, overall, on the world stage than ISIS, the headline read, "Twisted Ivy: Harvard students say US bigger threat to world peace than ISIS." Imagine, a Muslim making the same statements as in the video. Game over. 
    When Bill Maher and Sam Harris pontificate from their plush perches, criminalizing a faith, which has 1.5 billion adherents, they think they are doing the world a big service. Nothing could be further from the truth. It should be pointed that Muslim countries are not uniquely in crisis and that broadly there are many countries in crisis in the developing world. In addition, America's homophobia is only now beginning to subside for example, and in many ways is still real (so no real claim can be made of some type of civilizational superiority). And many of Burma's Buddhist monks would have something to say about religious militancy being the dominion of Islamists only. Nevertheless, there are indeed a myriad of unique problems within the Muslim world, which is in a deep crisis. Yet, there are also countless Muslim leaders, intellectuals, clerics, philanthropists, and others, facing these problems, and trying to stand-up to illiberal phenomena in their communities and societies. They already are well aware of the challenges in front of them and do not need lectures from people far-removed from the very violence they face. 
    Maher's (and others) self-titillating orgies of intellectual masturbation demonstrate a total lack of awareness. Perhaps they'll be comforted by the controversy they spawn, indulging their egos as they eye retweets and dollar signs. As for the Muslim liberals on the frontlines? Once again they are caught in No Man's Land.
    Original Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/taufiq-rahim/muslim-liberals-caught-in_b_5965546.html

              Malala Yousafzai and the Missing Brown Savior Complex        
    On October 9, 2012, a Taliban gunman accosted a bus carrying 15 year-old Malala Yousafzai and her schoolmates, and coldly shot them at close range. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan not only claimed responsibility for the blatant assassination attempt of the teenage education activist, but as it emerged that Malala would survive the attack, the movement also reiterated its desire to kill her. Miraculously through the efforts of friends and family, the local community in Swat Valley where she is from and where she was shot, and the Pakistani army that airlifted her to Peshawar, Malala Yousafzai survived (as did the other victims). Given the seriousness of her condition, it was imperative she was treated by the best doctors, and a generous gesture by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi allowed her to be flown by air ambulance to England for major surgery. Fast forward just one year later, Malala has recovered and is even more emphatic in her message against the Taliban, promoting the empowerment of young women like her across Pakistan, and all around the world. And expectedly, the global media, including The Daily Show's Jon Stewart, have been celebrating her courage (perhaps caught in the moment of it all).

    Great story, right? And what could be wrong about the alleged 'overexposure' of a young girl expressing words of peace and fighting for girls' education against a religious patriarchy? Apparently a lot. In fact, in Pakistan and in her hometown, her global coronation is treated with derision: "Malala is spoiling Pakistan's name around the world." Others have more sinister accusations of a CIA conspiracy involving both Malala and the gunman, claiming the entire affair is a Western plot. Yet, in recent days, an article written by a blogger in July on Huffington Post has been making the rounds on social media, entitled, "Malala Yousafzai and the White Saviour Complex." It argues, "Please, spare us the self-righteous and self-congratulatory message that is nothing more than propaganda that tells us that the West drops bombs to save girls like Malala."

    The truth is there is no white savior coming for Pakistan or for any Muslim country, the vast majority of which are characterised by pernicious politics, inequitable economics, and irrational intolerance. Lecturing the chattering classes about geopolitical realties and distributing treatises on Western imperialism won't change anything. Fundamentally it will only be the indigenous leadership - helped or not helped by outsiders - that will drive change. Yet, when leaders do emerge, it seems that the local media (and now social media) are pre-occupied with tearing them down rather than building them up. People instead squander their energy on misguided diatribes, as the case of Malala has unfortunately shown. The real reason that the 'white savior complex' even is relevant is that we fail to champion the very 'brown saviors' in our midst.

    Malala Yousafzai was thrust into the spotlight after her initial attack, which was so jarring that all Pakistani leaders came out in strong condemnation. Then Pakistani President, Asif Ali Zardari - himself a questionable character to say the least - labelling the attack as one against "all civilized people." Prior to the attack, Malala had rose to prominence as an activist, encouraged by her father, for girls education and against the policies and values of the Taliban, which was why she was targeted in the first place. Without picking up a gun, her message was considered a threat to their movement, which is amazing in it of itself. Yet, it was on July 12 earlier this year, speaking on her birthday to the United Nations that Malala brought tears to the eyes of millions of people around the world. Having remarkably recovered from her wounds (and having undergone partial facial reconstruction), and still facing death threats, Malala stood steadfast in front of a global audience, and spoke with fortitude and confidence: "The terrorists thought that they would change my aims and stop my ambitions but nothing changed in my life, except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born."

    It was such a powerful moment, that almost every international news outlet carried the speech of this young woman live across the world. And for the first time in a long time, the Pakistani and Muslim in the spotlight was not an extremist but someone standing up to extremism. The plaudits continued to come, especially in the last few weeks, as Malala released a book about her experience and was awarded the prestigious Sakharov Prize from the European Union. In fact, she was the rumored favorite for the Nobel Peace Prize, which in the end was awarded to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, in a surprise but perhaps deserving win. Of course, the Western media in particular have a penchant for over-hyping (if not over-milking) and over-sensationalizing such stories of heroism. And it will be very difficult for Malala to not only live up to such hype but also to prevent the perception that she is over-shadowing other deserving heroes. Yet, is that not the story of all figures of change who inspire us? Was Nelson Mandela really the only Black leader in South Africa's prisons? Was Martin Luther King Jr. the only individual marching in the South? Was Aung San Suu Kyi the only fighter for freedom in Burma?

    It does seem increasingly, however, that Malala is a leader denied a strong constituency back home. It is easy to dismiss the allegations that she is a CIA agent - although the photo-op with the Obama's won't help - as well as the gloating of Taliban supporters after she was not awarded the Nobel Prize. Yet it is harder to dismiss the cacophony of criticism in Pakistan, in Swat Valley, and on the social media pages of Pakistanis, and for that matter, Muslims from around the world. As one government official said: "Everyone knows about Malala, but they do not want to affiliate with her." The primary complaints include the following:
    • This is another example of the West trying to portray themselves as a savior of the East. 
    • Malala is a secular heroine not a Muslim heroine. 
    • While her case is tragic there are other victims who deserve prominence. 
    • The crimes of the West through drones and in Iraq and Afghanistan, far outweigh the crimes of the Taliban. 
    • This is an effort of the West to try to avoid its own complicity in the situation in Pakistan that led to Malala's shooting. 
    As with most disinformation campaigns, this one is based on kernels of truth. For starters, the world does neglect the stories of deserving others. One such example would be of the tour-de-force Pakistani social worker  Parveen Rehman who was shot dead in Karachi earlier this year. Additionally, it has been the Western media that has largely driven the popular support for Malala globally; that, however, has to be attributed to the dismal failure of the Pakistani media to not do so instead (in my humble opinion). Finally, and the most valid critique is that the story of Malala should not negate the very pivotal role the United States and the West has played and continues to play in creating the current perilous conditions in Pakistan and in contributing to the deaths of innocents there, and in other countries. 

    Firstly, U.S. policy has been heavily involved in the rise of the Taliban in Pakistan, which it tacitly supported alongside Saudi Arabia and Pakistan's intelligence service in the mid-1990s. Moreover, the United States and Saudi Arabia (and some other Western and Muslim powers) cooperated to support radical jihadism (even printing textbooks to that effect for Afghanistan) and Islamism as a bulwark against the Soviet Union and communism. In fact, Israel also supported the radical group Hamas as a counterweight to the secular Fatah movement of then Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Yes, the world was and is screwed up, and the powers of the world have much complicity in that. 

    Secondly, and more importantly, the military operations carried out by the U.S. in particular in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq have led to thousands of deaths of innocent people in recent years. These actions have largely gone unpunished and the victims have been forgotten. Certainly it is not just the Taliban that are killing and the world cannot dispense justice selectively. 

    Does saying all of that make Malala Yousafzai any less of a hero (or heroine)? Is her courage dimmed by the crimes of others? Is her movement for the empowerment of young girls in Pakistan any less important? Of course not. Criticisms of the West will bring no one closer to emancipation. And it cannot mask the very pure fact that today's purveyors of disaster and death in the world also include Muslims.

    Who bombed the church in Peshawar slaughtering 85 worshippers? Who attacked Westgate Mall in Nairobi killing dozens of innocents? Who murders dozens of men, women and children in Iraq every week? When a Muslim rises up - a so-called brown savior - to fight such crimes and the movements behind them, we should put him or her on our shoulders and not try to chase that person into the darkness. There is no shame in admitting Brown and Muslim guilt in the world's crimes, and it does not negate the wider reality and context around the violence that does occur. In fact, our fear of partial guilt in particular should not misguidedly cause us to throw out the very sparse examples of (counter-) leadership in Muslim countries that emerge and strike fear in the heart of radical extremists. 

    It has become far too easy on all sides to blame the other rather than introspect inward. Above all, instead of blaming the West for its 'white savior complex' maybe it's time to develop our own brown savior complex to save ourselves from ourselves. 



              Waiting for Obama: The Arab World and Intervention         

    This article originally appeared in Syria Deeply, and can be found here

    On Aug. 2, 1990, a Saddam Hussein-led Iraq launched a bombing campaign and invasion of Kuwait. Part of the decision was the thought that the U.S., facing its own economic issues at home and a perceived passivity towards disputes in the Arab world, would not react with force. 

    Almost five months later, Operation Desert Storm, led by a broad international coalition under the direction of then President George Bush (who had secured a resolution from the U.N. Security Council), began with aerial attacks and ended with the capitulation of Saddam’s forces after just five weeks.
    Two things became clear: that the U.S. would take decisive action to enforce peace and security in the region when a “red line” was crossed; and secondly, that it would be methodical in building a strong coalition.
    The countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have been waiting for a similar moment from President Barack Obama on the Syrian conflict.  After months of endless prodding, with only a series of half-steps coming from the U.S., the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack near Damascus (allegedly carried out by the Assad regime) finally seemed to have pushed Obama to take robust action on Syria.
    But initial urgency by the U.S. to act has since subsided, or so it appears. With the passing of each day, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are left increasingly in the lurch, waiting for Obama, wondering if the U.S. has reversed its approach to the region that was heralded by the Gulf War over two decades ago.
    In 1991, when military action was mobilized against Iraq, it was done so under the auspices of a U.N. resolution. And while the Arab world was divided on the intervention, the six GCC countries, along with Egypt and Syria, were part of the armed coalition that was formed. Twenty years later, the situation is markedly different as the Arab world contemplates involvement in military strikes against Syria.
    Outside of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, enthusiasm to participate in a military coalition is weak at best. While Jordan will have to be involved due to its reliance on both Saudi Arabia and the U.S. for economic support, Syria’s other Arab neighbors, Lebanon and Iraq, have voiced staunch opposition to external intervention.
    In an unambiguous statement, Egypt, under its new military leadership, also voiced its objections to “aggression in Syria.” Even the United Arab Emirates may not get involved without broad international legitimacy; unlike in Libya in 2011, this would constitute a military strike by Arab countries allied with the U.S. without any other legal or symbolic cover.
    Obama’s initial enthusiasm for military action, juxtaposed with his subsequent hesitation, has furthered the Arab world’s reluctance to participate. Staunch Western allies like the United Kingdom have indicated a lack of desire to be involved, and it is still in doubt whether action would be approved by NATO or the U.N. In the current atmosphere, a broad coalition involving multiple regional actors is unlikely, especially from a military standpoint. Most of the “diplomacy” to build a coalition has so far been limited to public speeches by high-level U.S. officials, rather than effective diplomatic engagement in the region. It indicates to the Arab world that the U.S. is not serious about a response, and is itself perhaps buying time.
    In Sunday’s Arab League meeting in Cairo, rhetoric was high. But it was clear that beyond Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the appetite for intervention had dissipated. Following two years of bluster, including countless meetings of the Friends of Syria, the moment for a decision finally came, and the U.S. blinked. The hawkish stance of the Arab League and even the GCC must, to Assad, have looked hollow. In the end, the statement by the Arab League called for “deterrent measures” by the U.N., without calling for military or unilateral action.
    While we may yet see strikes on Syria or the symbolic contribution of military hardware (like fighter jets) by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the process has already overshadowed whatever the result may be. In many ways, whatever happens now in response will be far too little and far too late. All the while, the conflict in Syria will continue without any end in sight.


              10 Questions on the Conflict in Syria        
    A potential military strike by Western powers on Syria now appears to be a fait accompli and is being touted as long overdue. Given the spiralling humanitarian disaster that has overtaken the country during the last two years of conflict, continued inaction appears to be an untenable reality. The death toll is now well over 100,000 (although the proportion of civilians to combatants is unclear). There are 2 million refugees, half of whom are children, and over 4 million more internally displaced persons (IDPs), amounting to a quarter of the country's overall population. Yet, it was the apparent chemical weapons attack in the suburbs around Damascus known as Ghouta last week that has served as the impetus for international military intervention into the conflict. Amidst the rhetoric and war rehearsals, clarity on what is really happening seems to be cast aside in the media, in favor of faux-spontaneous leaks, retired generals, and trumpeters of past wars. Here are ten questions to try to set the record straight.


    1. Were chemical weapons used in Syria?

    When the initial attack unfolded last Wednesday, August 21 in the suburbs in Damascus known as Ghouta (near the town/suburb of Jobar), news quickly spread to local, regional and international media. Claims were made of hundreds of deaths, with some activists claiming the death toll was 1,300. Moreover, the Government of Syria immediately denied responsibility and has continued to do so. However, the attack did unfold amidst a series of army strikes on Jobar, which is a rebel-held area, and has been for quite some time. The Government conversely claimed to find chemical weapons supplies in tunnels in the same area, and it is alleged that some Hezbollah fighters were also exposed to chemical toxins.

    A week on, it appears incontrovertible that chemical weapons were used, not just from YouTube videos but also from visits by independent journalists, and of course by a report by Médecins Sans Frontières that has documented at least 355 deaths from local hospitals. It is likely that the chemical agent used was a neurotoxin or nerve gas, most likely sarin gas. What is still not clear, is how they were delivered (i.e. in what form and carried on what type of weapon) and from where.

    It should also be kept in mind that this was not the first attack that has been alleged. There have been numerous claims by rebels, and counter-claims by the government on the use of chemical weapons in the conflict. Here's a map of those events. In fact, this is precisely why the team of UN inspectors had arrived in the country, the day before this latest incident (and massacre) took place. In fact, what is interesting is that their investigation of other sites has now been put on the back-burner due to the latest developments.

    2. Do we know who actually used the chemical weapons? 

    The United States, United Kingdom, and France have all stated they are certain that the Government of Syria has undertaken the attack last week. On the U.S. side, at the forefront of the rhetoric has been Vice President Biden - who has said there is 'no doubt' - and Secretary of State John Kerry, who made an evocative plea for action several days ago. Of course, the next speech is the most important, and it would be one made by President Barack Obama. In light of this certainty, it would be difficult to question the attribution of blame. A leak from the US government also claims to have intercepted a murky call between commanders in the Syrian army that supposedly is evidence of culpability on the Syrian side.

    There is tremendous reason to doubt U.S. claims. Firstly, it should not be forgotten that then Secretary of State Colin Powell presented ironclad evidence to the United Nations Security Council of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) that Saddam Hussein possessed, a finding that was later proven to be utterly false, but which was the basis of a war that continues until today. Secondly, the U.S. claimed that there was incontrovertible proof that the Government of Syria was responsible for earlier chemical attacks this year, but that finding has been contested, and some experts apportioned blame to the rebels fighting the government. And finally, in this case, no evidence has been presented, as of yet to make such a determination, at least not conclusively.

    Does that mean the Assad and his regime are not responsible? No. It is very likely given the ongoing military operations in the same area that the Syrian government launched such an attack. Yet, more evidence needs to be presented to make a definitive conclusion. The other scenarios that could be possible are:

    - Extremists groups like Jubhat al-Nusra, who have previously seized advanced weaponry and possibly chemical weapons from Syrian army bases and positions, were attempting to use them on Syrian soldiers (or conversely to cast blame on the Syrian army);

    - The Government of Syria inadvertently hit a stockpile of sarin gas releasing the toxins (although unclear if this would lead to the effects that we've seen); or

    - Rogue elements within the chain of command used chemical weapons intentionally or inadvertently.

    Russia, Iran and China have of course cast doubt on western claims but that is to be expected.

    3. What would be the basis or justification for US intervention?

    The U.S. intervention would likely be on the basis of Obama's previously stated red line on Syria, which would be the mass use/movement of chemical weapons. It is not in fact about humanitarian intervention and the Responsibility to Protect framework, developed in the 1990s to prevent genocide and mass civilian deaths. If it was, then the humanitarian case for intervention has been present for some time, and other massacres by the Syrian regime, such as in Houla in 2012, would have provided sufficient pretext. Obviously, the U.S. and other Western powers, and regional countries, have their own interests at play that are much more geopolitical in nature, but the justification or casus belli being offered is around the issue of chemical weapons, and chemical weapons alone.

    4. Will anybody else be involved in the military strikes besides the US and will this affect whether they are 'legal'?

    Given Russian and Chinese opposition, and a likely veto of any resolution by the United Nations Security Council supporting such a military strike on Syria - especially in light of the intervention in Libya, which Russia regretted supporting - a 'coalition of the willing' will need to be developed. This coalition would be broader than the Iraq War in 2003, and would be similar to the coalition carrying out the strikes against Serb positions vis-a-vis Kosovo in 1999. While the U.S., U.K. and France will likely lead an effort, Turkey would also be critical as a staging ground (as it borders Syria from the North), and thus there will be an attempt to launch such an attack under the auspices of NATO. Despite its reluctance, Jordan, given its reliance on the U.S. and Saudi Arabia politically and economically, will have no choice but to support . The two other neighbours of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon are squarely against any military strike. And of course, the other neighbor - Israel - would sit this one out but would provide intelligence to the U.S. and other parties on Syrian positions, given that it has already undertaken a number of air strikes on Syria in the past two years.

    Further afield, it is likely the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) will support military intervention, with Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates possibly sending fighter jets to participate in a strike to give it regional cover and credibility. Finally, while many groups within the Arab and Muslim world, and the 'left' of the West, will oppose military intervention, many others will support it, because of the spiralling humanitarian situation in Syria.

    Technically speaking if the military intervention is not sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council, and there is no imminent threat that the U.S. and other parties can point to towards its own territory or its assets, it would be illegal under international law. However, that has not stopped NATO or other countries (i.e. Russia in Georgia) form undertaking military action in the past. And before the Iraq War, some scholars claimed that while such an attack would be illegal it would be legitimate, and demonstrated retroactively to be legal. Given the state of world affairs, 'legality' is likely not a determining factor for a strike on Syria.

    5. Are we seeing a repeat of Iraq in 2003? 

    No. The situation today with Syria is different than it was in 2003 in Iraq, for many reasons, despite some passing similarities. In Iraq, the U.S. claimed that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction while in Syria, we already know Bashar al-Assad possesses chemical weapons, and the question is whether he used them (small aside, it was released this week that thirty years ago, the U.S. obstructed a UN investigation when it knew Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons). In Iraq, the U.S. alleged that Saddam Hussein had links with Al Qaeda (and related groups), while in Syria, Bashar al Assad is widely acknowledged to be fighting Al Qaeda (and related groups) in addition to the 'Free Syrian Army' (and in addition to crushing peaceful demonstrators). In Iraq, there was no active state of conflict that was leading to a spiralling humanitarian catastrophe (and the potential use of WMDs), while in Syria there is not just a violent conflict, but also WMDs have been used by somebody (even if the culprit is not yet clear).

    What should be noted, however, is that both Iraq in 2003 and Syria in 2013, are in complex environments, and any removal of government or sustained military intervention would have dramatic unforeseen consequences. It seems like the media debate in the U.S. is also similarly anaemic (but slightly better) this time around.

    6. What is the real motivation for the United States and other powers?

    As with all things in this world when it comes to international relations, the primary interest is not humanitarian but geopolitical. This is not absolute, however, and it could be argued that Turkey has been insisting on humanitarian intervention from an early stage. However, the regimes (not peoples) in the Gulf, most notably Saudi Arabia, are exclusively concerned with dislodging Syria from the Iranian orbit, and severing connections between Syria and Hezbollah. Humanitarian concerns are a by-product. And for the United States, something similar is at play. As noted above, if this was about humanitarian concerns, action would have been taken long before 100,000 deaths had occurred.

    For the U.S. it has been looking for regime change in Syria for a while. However, these strikes if they occur, will be about sending a message and asserting America's position in the Middle East, given the red line that Obama drew. Ultimately, it may tip the scales in the rebels favour or improve the U.S.'s negotiating position vis-a-vis Iran. The chemical weapons attack in a morbid way, opened a door of opportunity for Western powers (with GCC support) to do something limited without a full-scale intervention.

    7. Will military intervention solve the Syrian conflict?

    No. Military intervention no matter how small or how big will not solve the Syrian conflict. In fact, it could very much exacerbate the situation on the ground even further (if that can be imagined). What is being reported currently is that the U.S. and allies will undertake a series of 'surgical strikes', a euphemism for a large-scale assault on key military and strategic installations, such as army positions, air bases, radar installations, communications infrastructure, supply routes, and, where appropriate, power stations (among other targets). More than anything this will be intended to send a message to the regime and weaken its capabilities. Yet, it would not be a fatal blow. And it would not necessarily tip the scales in favor of the rebels. It may in fact mobilize certain parties to support the regime, if there are civilian casualties from the intervention.

    The solution to the Syrian situation has to be political, if it is going to lead to stability or peace. Yet, if the military intervention escalated and led to the removal of the Syrian regime, that would still not be the end of the conflict. After the Soviets were booted out of Afghanistan, the country devolved into a civil war for five years until the rise of the Taliban in 1996. Somalia has only recently stabilised (somewhat), more than 20 years after the assassination of its leader, President Siad Barre. And neighboring Lebanon, took 15 years of conflict (1975-1990) to reach an end, which was brought about by ironically Syrian military intervention (which committed its own crimes), that produced a - audible gasp - political settlement.

    8. What could potentially go wrong?

    Everything. The potential for disaster following military intervention in any country is great (see Black Hawk Down, Iraq, Afghanistan and the list goes on). Yet, in Syria it could be apocalyptic. Here is a list of what that could entail:

    - Chemical weapons are used by Syria against its neighbors such as Jordan and Turkey, or U.S. military positions in those countries;
    - U.S. planes/helicopters are shot down leading to an escalation of U.S. involvement requiring boots on the ground;
    - Syria sends a volley of missiles into Tel Aviv and other places in Israel, leading to a regional war;
    - Proxy forces of Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah, launch a sustained campaign against Israel/U.S. interests, including attacks embassies within Lebanon/Palestine/Israel but also in other countries, in the short and medium-term;
    - Al Qaeda forces in the region, while opposing the Assad regime, oppose U.S. intervention especially if there are masses of civilian casualties, and use it as a pretext for attacks in places such as Yemen;
    - Russia objects to the U.S. strike, and mobilizes warships to the Mediterranean, leading to a standoff with Europe and the U.S.;
    - Negotiations with Iran, still in embryonic stages are suspended irrevocably;
    - Six party talks with North Korea are suspended by Russia, China, and North Korea irrevocably;
    - The Syrian regime goes all out in its conflict and begins to bomb with even more abandon civilian areas controlled by rebels, leading to thousands of casualties, and counter-massacres by enraged rebel fighters;
    - The Syrian regime is removed by force from power by the intervention, leading to a power vacuum sinking the country further into civil war for over a decade of even more violent strife and a possible Al Qaeda style government;
    - Tensions rise in the Middle East, especially in places of sectarian division (i.e. Lebanon, Yemen, Bahrain, Eastern Province in Saudi Arabia, and Iraq) leading to civil strife and attacks on governments, and counter-attacks on populations; and
    - World War 3.

    9. What could potentially go right?

    It may seem that what is written above is slightly alarmist and that's true. Many things can go wrong (most of which, to be honest, are hard to predict as they will be unforeseen consequences or as Donald Rumsfeld, ironically calls them, unknown unknowns). However, the U.S.-led strikes could be quite effective. Firstly, if they are limited in scope, they can be completed in one day, reducing the risk for a military entanglement and civilian casualties. Secondly, if they are from the air, there is limited risk for casualties on the side of the intervening forces. Thirdly, an attack that is forceful and hits Syrian military positions, will send a message to Assad that there is a limit to what he can do, which thus far has not been the case, and may entice him to reach a political settlement. Fourthly, it is unlikely that the Syrian regime would retaliate, for a short strike on positions, against Israel, knowing that they cannot afford to fight a war on so many fronts (and thus far they have yet to retaliate to any Israel air strike). Finally, the systematic destruction of Assad's air capabilities could be instrumental in limiting civilian casualties by the regime in the future.

    All of this is one possibility of what could occur.

    10. Let's cut to the chase - should I support or not support military intervention?

    There is no clearcut answer. Ultimately, military intervention should not be supported as a solution to the Syrian conflict. It is not, and whether we like it or not, a political solution/settlement is the only way the current situation moves towards peace and stability. The U.S. is negotiating with the Taliban. The Vietnamese negotiated with the U.S. The Lebanese negotiated with each other. The Dayton Accords to end the Bosnian War were signed with Slobodan Milosevic. It may not be easy, it may be unlikely, and it will not work perfectly, but political discussions involving all parties is the only way to find a real solution.

    That being said, if a case is made with overwhelming evidence by independent parties (not U.S. conjecture) that chemical weapons were used by the Syrian regime, then military intervention on a limited scale, and for a period of 1-2 days only, should be undertaken, ideally with UN support - and if not with broad support of half of the members, i.e. 90, of the UN General Assembly to demonstrate legitimacy - against military targets only, which will both send a message about the use of these weapons and damage the capabilities of Assad.

    What is clear is that whatever happens, there are no clear answers with regards to the conflict in Syria.

              Hypernationalism, Islamism, and Fascism all En Vogue        
    This article appeared in Al-Monitor, where you can find the full version. 


    Since the military overthrow of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s government in early July, the rhetoric by critics of the Muslim Brotherhood has been vitriolic and relentless. The campaign has sought to delegitimize the Islamist movement, and in fact, negate its Egyptian identity. Morsi himself has been charged with espionage and serving foreign interests. The general prosecutor has accused Muslim Brotherhood supporters of hiring Syrian and Palestinian mercenaries. Partisans of the army-led government, including some familiar “democracy” activists, have repeatedly called for additional crackdowns on Islamists. More often than not, Muslim Brotherhood members are portrayed in juxtaposition to ordinary Egyptians, rather than among the people, and as a “cancer” that must be removed at all costs.

    As the Arab world continues to politically devolve following the revolutions of 2011, it seems that a new fascism is becoming en vogue. In many ways, a response to the rise of religious supremacy over the past three decades, the ideology is predicated on a foundation of hypernationalism whereby the state is paramount, and any intellectual contestation is met with rhetorical — if not legal — excommunication. As the dust settles, a shrinking political class of moderate Islamists and liberals are increasingly caught between these dueling ideologies and their proponents.

    This religious supremacy, or Islamism, has its roots in the modern Middle East in a seminal work by Sayyid Qutb, the Muslim Brotherhood leader imprisoned and executed in Egypt in the 1960s. In "Signposts along the Road" (or Milestones), Qutb intellectually grounds the rejection of fellow Muslims in a process of delegitimization, or takfir. This ideology went into overdrive with the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran and the subsequent jihad in Afghanistan in the 1980s, both of which laid the groundwork for Islamism as a modern political movement.

    The continuum of Islamism has always been expansive, so it is sometimes hard to differentiate what constitutes the extremist elements of the political community as opposed to more moderate forces. In post–Saddam Hussein Iraq, the philosophy of takfir descended to a new level with the dehumanization of other Muslim groups, with authorization to kill those deemed takfiris. Yet, Morsi, allegedly a mainstream Islamist, sat applauding the same rhetoric targeting Shiites by preachers in relation to the Syrian conflict, illustrating how difficult it can be to draw distinctions.

    With the rise of Islamism, most regimes in the region — lacking a real contesting ideology in response — felt compelled to peddle hollow exhortations of bygone regionalism, or pan-Arabism. Direct attacks on Islamism would have run the risk of alienating their Muslim populations. In this space and amid the tumult of the last two years during which Islamists have grown increasingly unpopular after ascending from the opposition to seats of power, religious supremacy has finally met its match — hypernationalism. In effect, takfir is now being opposed with takhwin, the delegitimization of opponents of the state as traitors of the national cause....

    Read the full version here: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/08/violence-arab-nationalism.html#ixzz2crhOSTyD

              The Middle East’s New Divide: Muslim Versus Muslim         

    This article appears on Al-Monitor.com, where you can find the full version. 

    On June 8, a devastating clash between residents and militia members erupted at the headquarters of the Libya Shield Brigade in Benghazi, Libya, leaving dozens dead and scores more injured. Meanwhile, the next day on the Sunday talk show circuit in the United States, amid continued partisan discussion of the September 2012 consulate attack in Benghazi, there was scant mention of the major clash from the day before. The disconnect exemplified the chasm between the new battle lines on the ground across the Middle East and the political discourse a world away.

    For much of the last decade, most have digested the narrative of a Muslim-West divide. It was so pervasive that newly elected US President Barack Obama, portrayed as a symbolic messiah bridging two worlds, was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize before even completing a year of his term. Twelve years after the 9/11 al-Qaeda attacks, much of the discussion about the "Muslim world" has internalized this language, and why not? The conflict between the Palestinians and US-supported Israel remains unresolved, US drone strikes continue unabated in Pakistan and Yemen and terrorist attacks like the Boston Marathon bombing are still occurring in deadly fashion.

    These days, however, one is more likely to see the burning of a Syrian government flag than an American flag amid the world’s deadliest ongoing conflict, for which the United States is criticized primarily for not intervening. One is more likely to see Iraqis killed in a terrorist attack than Americans. In fact, in recent years approximately 90% of terrorism-related fatalities have been Muslim. One is more likely to see the demonization of a Shiite than a Jew by an extremist Muslim ideologue. The battle lines have shifted from Islam versus the West to Muslim versus Muslim, and it is time for politicians and pundits in the United States and the Middle East alike to catch up.

    Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/08/new-middle-east-muslim-versus-muslim.html#ixzz2c5fRQCzj

              The (Counter?)Revolution in #Egypt will be Televised (and Tweeted)        
    Around midnight in Cairo the night of Tuesday, July 2, millions of people in Egypt awaited the President of the Republic, Mohammad Morsi, to respond to the 48-hour ultimatum delivered by the country's military on Monday: resolve your differences with the protestors or we will do it for you. With the deadline fast approaching, and due to hit at 4:30pm local time the next day, Morsi rejected the challenge by the military in a tweet. Then, he came on television and delivered what was the most important speech in not just his life but in the history of the Muslim Brotherhood movement he represents. And it was a spectacular failure. While not as long-winded as the two-and-a-half hour speech he had given just days earlier - akin to a State of the Union - it was just as hollow. His near constant use of the word 'legitimacy' began to elicit uncontrollable laugher in many corners (with the usage count of the word at around 75 in the speech). With millions of Egyptians on the streets across the country - some in support of him but many if not most in opposition - and the military's ultimatum in the background, Morsi had seemingly put the final nail in his own coffin.

    Just 30 months after the ousting of the dictator for the past 30 years, Hosni Mubarak, street protests in Egypt culminated on Wednesday night in a coup d'etat, effectively overturning the 14 democratic elections since February 11, 2011 (the total voting cycles for the parliament, presidency and constitution). Indeed, it was broader than a coup d'etat, as the Tamarod (rebellion) movement that brought millions of people to the streets was a grassroots uprising that gathered millions of signatures from ordinary Egyptians, and more significantly, managed to coalesce a previously disparate and dispirited opposition. Additionally, deposed President Mohammad Morsi had governed incompetently and non-inclusively, which seemingly left the invitation open to change. Yet, what transpired this week, especially in the final sequence of events, could be the initial salvo of a counter-revolution 2.0, potentially endangering the process of democratization in Egypt for years to come.

    While things seemingly have not changed that much in Egypt, and in many ways have gotten worse, a lot has transpired. Following the departure of Mubarak and his gang from the scene, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) took charge of managing the country's affairs. It took nearly a year to hold parliamentary elections. When it did happen, in late 2011-early 2012 the Brotherhood's party (the Freedom & Justice Party or FJP) took 38% of the vote, followed closely by the more conservative Salafist party, Al Nour, which took 28%. Given that this body would determine the fate of the new constitution (and the assembly to draft it), the fact that it was dominated by 'Islamists' already meant the new era of Egypt was handed a poisoned chalice in the eyes of many. Six months later, in June 2012, the Presidential elections saw a run-off between a former Prime Minister but tainted 'remnant' of the old Mubarak regime, Ahmed Shafiq, and Mohammed Morsi (representing the Muslim Brotherhood). Morsi won, and with the backing of protests in the famed Tahrir Square, also managed to wrest plenty of executive authority from SCAF. Within two months, Morsi also seemed to assert civilian control over the military, with a shuffling of key positions in the defense establishment.

    Then on November 22, 2012, with full executive powers, and the parliament in limbo (due to pending court cases), Morsi assumed essentially legislative powers and declared himself immune from judicial oversight until a new constitution was formed. In essence that gave birth to the current movement (well at least the National Salvation Front that formed 2 days later and was a hodge-podge of opposition groups, including figures such as Mohamed El Baradei) which culminated in Morsi's removal from office this week. Morsi and the FJP then ham-fisted a constitution through a referendum, which garnered the support of 64% of the voting public. However, the process was not led by consensus and Morsi appeared to be increasingly marginalizing the judiciary, which many viewed as being too linked to the old regime, especially given that many senior judges were appointed by Hosni Mubarak (the judges had their own democracy movement in 2006 so not a unified group by any means). Yet for many in the opposition, the judiciary was still a check against Morsi and the Brotherhood's power. And there were also complaints about the ikhwanization of the state; given what transpired this week, this appeared not to have been the case.

    Nevertheless, the concentration of power by the Brotherhood and its non-inclusive method of governance as described above, could have overcome minor challenges from the opposition, if Morsi had enacted policies that improved the lives of everyday people. His approval rating had begun to drop dramatically, falling to 28% of the public just weeks before his overthrow. This was mainly due to the inability of the government to turnaround the economy, with 25% of Egyptians below the poverty line, unemployment on the rise, and the country's fiscal health on the decline. Meanwhile, his approach to foreign policy of aligning with the US, engaging with Iran, partnering with Qatar, and leading the charge on Syria, did little to assuage a frustrated public waiting for change at home in their daily lives that had yet to materialize. And sectarian clashes that mainly killed Shiites and Christians tarnished the impartial role the President was assumed to play, given that he was close to figures that were prone to incitement.

    In the backdrop of all of this, the Tamarod movement, which started just several months ago (in April), began to tap into the widespread anger and frustration. Gone was the gloss of a technocratic 'Islamist' party - a la the AKP in Turkey, who incidentally are having their own issues - replaced instead by the reality of the FJP in Egypt. And gone also was the mystique of a survivalist Brotherhood that was the David against the Goliath of the last half century; the Brotherhood was now the Goliath, and seemingly squandering the power that it had accumulated. The Tamarod activists claimed to have gathered 22 million signatures, in a country of 93 million people, which seems patently ridiculous for many demographic/logistical reasons (in the course of just two months). Nevertheless, their demands were clear, and principally centered on early Presidential elections (Morsi had served one of a four-year term). They were supported by umbrella opposition groups such as the National Salvation Front, April 6 Movement, and others, and with their deadline of June 30 for Morsi to respond coming fast, thousands and then millions began to fill Egypt's squares (some as noted in support of Morsi).

    By Wednesday, just prior to the removal of Morsi from power, several implications of what was transpiring were already clear. Firstly, the Tamarod movement, and subsequent mobilization demonstrated that there could be an organized opposition to Islamists in the 'new' Arab world, and that this secular alternative could mobilize numbers. This could have far-reaching consequences in other countries such as Tunisia, where Islamists like the Nahda Party hold sway, as well as eventually (in the longer-term) in autocratic countries where often the only strong opposition movements are bogeyman Islamists movements. Secondly, Morsi's reign had as noted above, dulled - as power does to any party - the shine of the Brotherhood. It has been noted, for example that the clashes that led to the separation of the West Bank & Gaza Strip, and undermined the Hamas victory in Palestinian elections, only emboldened Hamas instead of forcing the movement into the pubic accountability spotlight.

    Of course, in the euphoria of what the opposition was about to gain, the darkness just around the corner might have seemed far away. With millions on the street, and the military indicating a willingness to force itself on the scene as the arbitrator, Morsi offered a new constitutional process, a unity government of technocrats, and an accelerated schedule of new parliamentary elections but it was too little too late it seemed for the street, especially with the military now backing the activists' play. And so instead of a negotiated agreement with President Morsi, or a legal process through the courts, or any other process through civilian authorities, it was the military that removed Morsi from power. The crowds in Tahrir Square cheered but the supporters of the deposed President, in Nasr City (also in Cairo), jeered. In a carefully choreographed display, the civil secular state - with an associated roadmap essentially a reset of the revolutionary period - was re-established by three initial speeches: first by General Abdul Fatah al-Sisi, head of the armed forces (appointed by Morsi), second by the Grand Sheikh of Al Azhar, and third by the Coptic Pope. Short statements followed from a range of opposition figures, including a representative of Tamarod and El Baradei and the conservative Nour Party.

    If you are an opponent of the Muslim Brotherhood, this was indeed a victory. And given the direction that Egypt was going, if you are an Egyptian, you can only hope that this could lead to a more positive future. Whatever the case, however, the military re-takeover appears to also be a re-launch of the counter-revolution. The autocratic powers that be in the region were effusive and immediate in their praise of the military and the coup. More worryingly, was the systematic campaign of arrests that already started to unfold late into the night of Muslim Brotherhood activists, leaders, affiliated journalists, and yes even Mohammad Morsi. The military is looking not just to referee the playing field but to define the playing field and the players allowed on it. That's not democracy. It may be that in the modern Arab world the demographics are such that the debate is about choosing between liberalism and democracy, but isn't that the false choice of the last 40-50 years offered by autocratic rulers in the Arab world? And there is nothing 'rosy' about liberal autocracy versus religious autocracy in this region. In fact, if anything, liberal/secular authoritarianism has been the bane of decay in modern Arab history: the Baath parties in Iraq and Syria, Ben Ali's Tunis, Mubarak's Egypt, and the list goes on.

    Yet, unless the Egyptian military is kept in check, it will likely go down the path it knows best and one that it has followed since 1952, which is to systematically crush dissent and marginalise and exclude the Muslim Brotherhood. All indications today point to a proclivity to re-instate this exclusion, which could lead to an Algeria scenario of the 1990s, albeit in a different form, of course. Paradoxically, as this new Pandora's Box is opened, the only hope to keep the military in check is the very street and youth who demanded its removal from the scene, and then demanded it to come back to its role as guarantor of the state. Hopefully the tamarod or rebellion, will keep that spirit, now that they have been given a share of the power.





               For President Obama on Day One: A New “New Beginning”         
    On Day One: A New “New Beginning”
    There was never a question that President Barack Obama represented a symbolic break with the past – someone who could redefine relations with the Muslim world. However to add substance to the symbolism of change, early on in his first term, President Obama went to Cairo to make a speech entitled, “A New Beginning.” Yet, as he begins a second term it is clear that this new beginning needs to be reinvigorated in both style and substance. That initial speech, while poignant then, today rings hollow. If indeed President Obama and the administration are to achieve a definitive step change in relations with Muslim communities, there must be a renewed effort for honest dialogue, robust development initiatives, and tangible shifts in policy.

    At the onset of the Iraq War in 2003, President George W. Bush had abysmal numbers in many Muslim-majority countries. While 59 percent of Nigerians, 56 percent of Jordanians, and 46 percent of Pakistanis held confidence in Osama bin Laden’s leadership, Bush was polling in the single digits in the same countries. By 2008, in countries like Jordan and Turkey, nearly 90 percent of people had “little or no confidence” in President Bush.

    So when a young Kenyan-American Senator with Muslim roots, Barack Obama, emerged on the political scene, he was a welcome sight in even unsavory and sharply antagonistic corners of the Muslim world. In the midst of the political campaign even Hamas seemingly endorsed him saying, “Actually, we like Mr. Obama.” Winning over Hamas never was (nor should it have been) a litmus test, but when President Barack Obama was elected, there was near universal euphoria across Muslim communities.

    Early on, Obama and others in the Administration acknowledged the challenge in meeting these expectations. Even before he was inaugurated, the Administration was already planning to mark this ‘new beginning.’ Going into the heart of Cairo to engage university students in an honest speech about a real change in relations between the U.S. and Muslims was indeed something to be commended. Subsequent to the speech, the White House created a position on the National Security Council for Global Engagement, and the State Department launched a number of partnership initiatives. In the fall of 2009, D.C. played host to the Presidential Summit of Entrepreneurship that brought together 250 delegates from over 50 (mostly Muslim) countries.

    Then the situation started to become more difficult. There are no easy answers in the complex geopolitical relations in the wider Middle East and beyond. When the Green Movement in Iran demanded democratic change, the Obama administration had to contemplate whether it was for engagement with ‘regimes’ or engagement with ‘peoples.’ One of the President’s early visits was to Saudi Arabia to meet with King Abdullah prior to his Cairo speech, during which he said in reference to fundamental liberties, “They are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.” But during his visit with the King, there was deafening silence on this point. The advent of the Arab Spring made these dilemmas even sharper. Support democracy in Tunisia and Egypt at the last minute. Push democracy by force in Libya. Half-heartedly support it in Yemen. Remain frozen on Syria. Tacitly oppose it everywhere else.

    While Obama has grappled with difficult decisions, as any President would, he also shirked following up on critical points he made during his speech in Cairo. For example, he declared, “I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.” Guantanamo Bay remains open, almost glaringly so. And while, torture has allegedly stopped being an officially sanctioned practice, summary executions and civilian casualties by drone strikes have dramatically increased in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and the Horn of Africa. The latter have led directly to animus towards Obama from within many Muslim countries.

    Then there was the line in the speech about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements…The settlements must stop.” Of course, they did not. In fact, in February 2011 the U.S. vetoed a UN Security Council Resolution that called on Israel to simply “cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian Territory.” Out of 15 countries on the Security Council, the U.S. was the lone dissent (and of course the fatal one). This is not to mention that the U.S. also stood against 95 percent of the world’s population in voting against recognizing Palestinian statehood at the United Nations General Assembly in November.

    There were other elements of the ‘New Beginning’ that were promised, particularly around education and entrepreneurship. It is true that the U.S. has now (co-)organized three global entrepreneurship summits, in D.C., Istanbul, and Dubai, the latter being held in 2012. Yet, it is also clear that beyond the pomp of a summit, the once-robust programmatic initiatives that have come out have been weaker. Leadership changes within internal initiatives, as well as those with partners, have meant stalled if not stagnant programming. The idea of connecting entrepreneurs between the Muslim world and the West is a mutually beneficial and powerful concept, but it has not translated into the impact it should have by now. In the last summit in Dubai, it was as if the institutional memory from three years ago was lost, and everything was starting again.

    All this being said, there still exists the perception that relations have improved between the U.S. and Muslim communities. However, since 2009 and Obama’s inauguration, positive views have been on a steady decline in Muslim countries, according to the Pew Global Attitudes Project. In 2009, 33 percent of respondents held confidence in Obama; that number slipped to 24 percent in 2012. In 2009, 25 percent of respondents held a favorable view of the U.S.; that figure dropped to 15 percent in 2012. Finally, approval of Obama’s ‘international policies’ fell from 34 percent in 2009 to 15 percent in 2012. Without a substantive shift, these numbers will continue to decline, further cementing the reality that there never was a new beginning.

    Can things be turned around, given the current state of affairs? It would be misleadingly Pollyannaish to think that President Obama could snap his fingers and magically change opinion towards him from Muslim countries. Moreover, there are certain political realities that will remain. The U.S. will continue to be an ally of Israel. The U.S. will continue to fight terrorism. And the U.S. will not be able to fund new Marshall plans in the Middle East for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, there is a lot that can and should be done.

    At the outset, President Obama needs to re-launch a dialogue with the Muslim world. At the beginning of his first term he went to Cairo to give a speech. Perhaps he should go to Cairo in 2013 to have a conversation. In fact, since becoming president, Obama has visited only the country of his upbringing, Indonesia, apart from the initial trips to Saudi Arabia and Egypt (in addition to cloak-and-dagger visits to Afghanistan), within the Muslim world. Instead of distant speeches and dispatched drones, the Administration would be served by a President who is more engaged with his audience, through visits as well as frank and honest dialogue during those trips.

    Although the U.S. will not reverse decades of support for Israel, it need not ally with the most extreme policies of the Israeli government. Continuing to be the lone voice at the United Nations and international community defending illegal Israeli practices is a sharp blow to many efforts of the Obama administration. There is no third-term, and the President should stop pandering to contrived political interests in Washington D.C. There are enough Jewish supporters, lobby groups, and intelligentsia, who would support a more moderate and principled set of policies towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

    Israel is, of course, not the only foreign policy issue that should be of concern. The U.S., while acting in its national interest, should remain consistent in its language and support for key principles of human rights. It is when it becomes caught in naked hypocrisy that support for the Administration falls, whether in Bahrain in 2011 or Egypt in 2012, and a range of countries, perhaps, in 2013.
    Finally, initiatives that can make an impact on tackling the economic despair for young people, like the 100 million youth who will enter the labor market over the next decade in the Arab world, need to be prioritized. There needs to be sufficient attention and support for the global entrepreneurship program that can truly support the emerging and exciting entrepreneurial energy in places like Amman and Ramallah, Karachi and Kuala Lumpur. The U.S. has the best soft-power in this area, from the start-up scene in Silicon Valley to MIT Labs, yet it is hardly deployed, even though the White House calls entrepreneurship, “a critical pillar of U.S. global engagement.”

    There is a tremendous opportunity in President Obama’s second term to catalytically shift relations with Muslim communities and turn potential adversaries into allies. If the status quo, however, is maintained in policy and practice, this opportunity will be lost.

    This article originally appeared in the print edition of the Diplomatic Courier, in the January/February 2013 issue. It can be accessed online at: http://www.diplomaticourier.com/news/regions/middle-east/1315-on-day-one-a-new-new-beginning. 

              Assessing Syria: Seeking a Way Forward         
    Today there was a pivotal meeting of the so-called 'Friends of Syria' group held in Marrakech, Morocco. At the meeting and just ahead of it, a number of countries recognized the Syrian National Coalition (the abbreviated name of the opposition group by consensus formed in Doha several weeks back) as the 'legitimate representatives of Syria.' Yet, this recognition and perhaps an approved tranche of funding, will certainly not be enough to end the despair and difficult situation in Syria right now. There are no easy solutions. I am reposting below a piece from a month-and-a-half ago that I wrote on a simple basis for a way forward.


    This article was originally published on Syria Deeply, on October 29, 2012. 




    In Syria today, there are no easy solutions. In fact, there may be no solutions at all, something that even UN Special EnvoyLakhdar Brahimi affirmed. Moreover, unless the objective is to destroy the castle in order to unseat the king, reinforcing the status quo of active conflict will only make Syria’s situation harder to solve.
    The war scenes have been horrific over the last several months in Syria, particularly in Aleppo. The army has continued its systematic ground and air campaign, indiscriminately firing into vaguely-defined rebel areas in almost every major city.According to the United Nations, this has included: â€œmurder, summary executions, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, sexual violence, violations of children’s rights, pillaging, and destruction of civilian objects – including hospitals and schools.”
    Aleppo’s historic Souq, purportedly the largest in the entire Middle East, went up in flames in late September.  In early October, a blast by the extremist Jabhat al-Nusra group ripped through the heart of the city’s main square, brutally killing dozens of civilians and injuring countless more.  Violence from all sides continued with varying intensity through the Eid al-Adha holiday.
    The Center for New American Security projects five potential scenarios in Syria. Unfortunately, some of these are either unlikely (i.e. #2 managed transition) or ominous (i.e. #5 disintegration of the country). The fourth scenario envisions that Bashar Assad remains in power after a protracted civil war, something that seems completely untenable for regional forces and many Syrians to accept, despite Iran, Russia and perhaps China in support. The first scenario, the sudden death of Assad, is neither a solution nor something to bank on. Even if Assad is killed, his regime is well entrenched in Syria. Scenario number three, which consists of the overthrow of the regime by the armed opposition, appears to be where the U.S., the GCC, and Europe have invested most of their energies, somewhat nervously.
    It has become increasingly clear, however, that this latter scenario is dangerous, will not work, and is only leading to a greater conflagration of violence and deaths. UN Envoy Brahimi, who has extensive experience in conflict mitigation from Iraq to Afghanistan, has even told the Saudi King that the crisis “would not be resolved through military means.” Conversely, any scenario that keeps Assad in power and the regime status quo intact is a hollow solution that won’t satisfy the armed opposition, as the breakdown of Kofi Annan’s plan demonstrated (a plan that did not explicitly call for a regime transition). Yet foreign military intervention to dislodge the regime still appears unlikely and counter-productive.
    That leaves us with a quixotic proposal that also seems like the only plausible option: the simultaneous call for a universal ceasefire and an immediate process of transition of the regime. Many rebel groups, particularly hardline Salafist jihadist fighters, would hardly be receptive to any ceasefire. Yet, other groups, such as the Farouq Batallion, could welcome a ceasefire if it was accompanied by real change in Syria’s leadership. Such a ceasefire could also be guaranteed by a no-fly-zone. This would give Russia and China comfort that the no-fly-zone is part of a universal cessation of violence, and not one simply imposed on the Syrian government.
    Meanwhile, on the regime side, its supporters have already been meeting with opposition groups, demonstrating declining confidence in Assad. Russia has received several opposition delegations, and there are reports that Iran has met with the Muslim Brotherhood, although Tehran denies the meeting. Even in regime strongholds, such as Assad’s hometown ofQardaha, there have been growing skirmishes between groups as the situation has grown fractious.
    The dual call for a simultaneous, robust ceasefire and a process of regime transition seems simple and obvious. And while there are many layers of complexity, and a complicated path to align stakeholders to make it happen, it is this dual call that is the only basis for a real solution to Syria. The alternative, a systematic escalation in violence, is no solution at all.

              Remotely piloted aircraft report        
      The rapid development of remotely piloted air systems by the UK armed forces over the past decade has contributed greatly to the effectiveness of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, says the report. And that the provision of enhanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance that these air systems provide to troops on the ground has undoubtedly saved lives and prevented casualties. The report also sets out that the ‘increasingly contentious debate’ ...
              ØªØ¹Ù„يق على خواطر الشيخ الشعراوى للقران كاملا بواسطة Muslimah        
    Assalamu Alaikum, Muslims around the world are fasting in solidarity with the people of Gaza until the offensive ends. It is expected that the offensive is going to continue for another two or three weeks. As Muslims, we are responsible and will be accountable for what is happening to Muslims (Palestine, Chechnya, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, etc.) around the globe today. The least we can do is fast in solidarity. GAZA SONG: http://ie.youtube.com/watch?v=dlfhoU66s4Y Please forward to all Muslims you know, even if you do not agree.
              Veterans Kick The Prescription Pill Habit, Against Doctors' Orders         
    For many people with post-traumatic stress disorder, sleeping can return you to the worst place you've ever been, at the worst possible moment.

    "I always see his face," says Will, who did tours in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Army. "And in my dreams it's the same thing. ... I always walk over to him, and instead of this Afghani kid that's laying there, it's my little brother."

    The memory that triggers Will's nightmare happened during his tour in Afghanistan.

              A Growing Number Of Veterans Struggles To Quit Powerful Painkillers        
    There are antlers everywhere on the walls of Bryan and Mike McDonel's place near Pine Bluff, Ark. The house is hardly big enough for all their hunting trophies. Both are good shots with their hunting bows; Bryan and Mike, his father, served in the Arkansas National Guard and deployed together to Iraq, twice.

    The McDonel family has served in the military for generations. But Bryan, 35, is out of the service now.

              How The Kurds Could Benefit From Iraq's Crisis        
    The current crisis in Iraq has focused on the Sunni-Shiite conflict, but relatively little has been heard from the other major ethnic group in Iraq, the Kurds. And that's just the way the Kurds would like it.

    The Kurds have been seeking an independent state for a century but have been stymied at every turn.

              VA Health Care's Chronic Ailments: Long Waits And Red Tape        
    More than 2.5 million veterans served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they qualify for health care and benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
              THE WALL (2017) – SUBTITLE INDONESIA        
    An American sniper and his spotter engage in a deadly cat-and-mouse game with an Iraqi sniper.
              Trump's Latest Tweets On Travel Ban Could Raise New Legal Hurdles         
    Updated at 2:20 pm ET President Trump is mounting a vigorous defense of his controversial travel ban, continuing an argument he started over the weekend in response to a terrorist attack in London. That message launched a series of tweets. His uncompromising language could complicate matters for administration lawyers charged with defending the travel ban in court. The tweets also threaten to overshadow a series of White House policy announcements on infrastructure this week. This is not the first time that a carefully choreographed roll-out by the administration has been upended by the president's itchy thumbs. Trump's original travel ban, barring would-be visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, prompted airport protests throughout the country and was quickly blocked by the federal courts. The administration crafted a second version, which dropped Iraq from the list of targeted countries, removed religious language and made other adjustments in an effort to pass constitutional
              Crime Doesn’t Pay (as much as it used to) – FBI Cracks Down on Trade of Looted Syrian and Iraqi Cultural Artifacts        
    In support of the international crackdown on the black market trade of looted cultural artifacts, the FBI recently announced that art dealers may be prosecuted for engaging in the trade of stolen Iraqi and Syrian antiquities. Terrorist organizations such as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (“ISIL”) have pillaged these countries of their cultural...… Continue Reading
              I found Saddam’s WMD bunkers        
    So says Dave Gaubatz in the Spectator.

    I've always believed that WMDs were spirited out of Iraq. It is the most logical explanation for why so many governments and intelligent reports and political leaders believed it to be the case.

    Gaubatz tells a disturbing tale of incompetence and scheming that resulted in Syria holding the bag.

    Jonah Goldberg suggests "a healthy dose of scepticism" and I agree. But then scepticism would be in order for 90% of the things we hear these days.

    One reason I dismiss conspiracy theories is that they require a government that can pull such events off with competence. This one would be a result of incompetence, something I find very believable.
              World: Humanitarian Coordinator Information Products, 31 July 2017        
    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Afghanistan, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Haiti, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Ukraine, World, Yemen


              Italy: Italy: Unaccompanied And Separated Children (UASC) Dashboard, July 2017        
    Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
    Country: Bangladesh, Côte d'Ivoire, Eritrea, Gambia, Guinea, Iraq, Italy, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, Syrian Arab Republic, World

    Between 1 January and 31 July 2017, 12,656 unaccompanied and separated children arrived in Italy by sea, representing 13% of all sea arrivals in this period. This proportion is comparable to the first seven months of 2016, when 15% of those arriving by sea were UASC. UASC numbers have slightly decreased compared to last year, when 13,705 UASC arrived in the first seven months of the year.


              Italy: Italy Sea Arrivals Dashboard (January - July 2017)        
    Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
    Country: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Iraq, Italy, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, World

    Overview

    Between 1 January and 31 July 2017, 95,213 persons arrived in Italy by sea. This is a 2% increase compared to sea arrivals in the same period last year (93,774).

    Trends in sea arrivals should be assessed over time, as fluctuations on a monthly basis may be linked to various factors, including weather and sea conditions or the situation in the countries of departure and origin. Geopolitical developments and the capacity of smugglers to organize departures may also affect sea arrivals.


              Books About Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda        
    THE LONGEST WAR: THE ENDURING CONFLICT BETWEEN AMERICA AND AL-QAEDA (2011). By Peter L. Bergen. This volume by CNN’s national security analyst provides a succinct overview of the war on terror, giving the reader a sharply observed portrait of Bin Laden, whom Mr. Bergen interviewed in 1997. Mr. Bergen argues that Bin Laden over-reached with the 9/11 attacks and that Al Qaeda has a growing list of enemies, including Muslims who don’t share its “ultra-fundamentalist worldview.” The book also provides a harrowing account of Bin Laden’s escape from American forces at Tora Bora in December 2001, after the C.I.A.’s request for more troops was turned down by Gen. Tommy Franks.

    OSAMA: THE MAKING OF A TERRORIST (2004). By Jonathan Randal. This book by a former Washington Post correspondent is less a biography of Bin Laden than a history of the contemporary jihadi movement, which Mr. Randal argues was inadvertently strengthened by American hubris, ignorance and missteps in the Middle East and Persian Gulf. Mr. Randal chronicles Bin Laden’s combat experiences as an anti-Soviet jihadi, the role that various surrogate father figures played in his evolution, and his discovery of an “ability to talk to everyday Muslims in a simple language,” despite his family’s wealth.

    THE BIN LADENS: AN ARABIAN FAMILY IN THE AMERICAN CENTURY (2008). By Steve Coll. In this family epic, Mr. Coll, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, creates a psychologically detailed portrait of Bin Laden and his relationships with his father, Muhammad, who made a fortune in Saudi Arabia as the king’s principal builder; and his older brother Salem, a British-educated, music-loving playboy, who used to organize family expeditions to Las Vegas. It also illuminates the important role that Osama Bin Laden’s relatives and their relationship with the royal house of Saud played in shaping his thinking, his ambitions and his technological expertise.

    HOLY WAR, INC.: INSIDE THE SECRET WORLD OF OSAMA BIN LADEN (2001). By Peter L. Bergen. In an early study of Al Qaeda, this CNN analyst emphasizes the crucial role that the Afghan-Soviet conflict played in radicalizing many Islamic militants in the 1980s, giving fighters like Bin Laden confidence that they could defeat a superpower and replacing the notion of Arab nationalism with that of a larger Islamist movement. Mr. Bergen argues here that Bin Laden’s anger at the United States has little to do with Western culture — say, movies or drug and alcohol use — but rather stems from American policies in the Middle East, namely “the continued U.S. military presence in Arabia; U.S. support for Israel; its continued bombing of Iraq; and its support for regimes such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia that bin Laden regards as apostates from Islam.”

    OSAMA BIN LADEN (2011). By Michael Scheuer. Mr. Scheuer, who once headed the C.I.A.’s Osama bin Laden unit, dissects the puritanical religious views that informed Bin Laden’s thinking. As he did in earlier books, Mr. Scheuer contends that Bin Laden was not an irrational terrorist, but a shrewd strategist and tactician who wanted to lure the United States into a financially draining quagmire in the Middle East.

    THE LOOMING TOWER: AL-QAEDA AND THE ROAD TO 9/11 (2006). By Lawrence Wright. Based on more than 500 interviews, this book gives readers a searing view of the events of Sept. 11 and how that tragic day came about. Mr. Wright, a writer for The New Yorker, suggests that the emergence of Al Qaeda “depended on a unique conjunction of personalities” — that is, Bin Laden, whose global vision and compelling leadership would hold together the organization, and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri, who promoted the apocalyptic idea that only violence could change history. In Mr. Wright’s account, we see how a shy young Osama bin Laden, who loved the American television series “Bonanza,” became a solemn religious adolescent, and how under the Machiavellian tutelage of Mr. Zawahri, he grew increasingly radicalized.

    IN THE GRAVEYARD OF EMPIRES: AMERICA’S WAR IN AFGHANISTAN (2009). By Seth G. Jones. This book by a political scientist charts several decades of relations between the United States and Afghanistan, focusing on what went awry after America’s successful routing of the Taliban in late 2001. Mr. Jones blames the invasion of Iraq for diverting resources and attention from the war in Afghanistan, and notes that there was a spillover effect in Pakistan, which offered a haven to many Taliban and Qaeda fighters. Among Mr. Jones’s conclusions is that the United States must “persuade Pakistani military and civilian leaders to conduct a sustained campaign against militants mounting attacks in Afghanistan and the region” and threatening the foundations of “the nuclear-armed Pakistani state.”

    GHOST WARS: THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE CIA, AFGHANISTAN, AND BIN LADEN, FROM THE SOVIET INVASION TO SEPTEMBER 10, 2001 (2004). By Steve Coll. Mapping the long, mistake-filled road to 9/11, this book examines the C.I.A.’s covert role during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s and America’s later neglect of the country during the post-cold war ’90s, when the Taliban and Al Qaeda took advantage of the political vacuum. Mr. Coll chronicles the failures of both the Clinton and Bush administrations to mount a serious attack on Al Qaeda and to implement a coherent counterterrorism strategy.[blog.nytimes.com]

              A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by Dina Viergut        
    In 1981, eleven-year-old Saba Hafezi watches as her mother and twin sister, Mahtab, board a plane to America, leaving her in a seaside village in northern Iran. Though she is certain of what she saw, Saba's broken father and colorful slew of surrogate grandmothers claim that Mahtab is dead and that Saba should forget about her troublesome mother; nevertheless, there are others who attribute Saba's belief in her sister's survival to “twin-sense” and relish the possibility that Mahtab might still be alive. Over the next seventeen years, Saba immerses herself in illegal western books, movies, and magazines, and weaves an exquisite parallel American life for her twin sister, one that mirrors her own in bizarre and unlikely ways—and rivals the fates of Ivy-League western shahs—a life that the bookish Saba too might have lived if she'd been allowed to get on that plane.

    Beginning with small tokens of adolescence and moving to larger coincidences of unrequited love, the violent consequences of forced marriage to a much older man, and motherhood, Mahtab’s hazier American story keeps pace with her sister like a shadow. Mahtab loses a lover when Saba does. Mahtab finds unexpected wealth in the same way as Saba. But whereas Saba’s story has all the grit and brutality of real life in post-revolution Iran, Mahtab’s is like an American television show as imagined under an Iranian storyteller’s blanket, always returning power and control to the heroine’s hands.

    A TEASPOON OF EARTH AND SEA uses strong, colorful characters, a unique narrative voice, and rural eastern storytelling techniques with western-style prose to convey a sense of mystery and a compelling message about identity and being the mistress of one's own fate while living and battling within the fantasy of our other "selves." The bittersweet ending leaves the reader wondering if it matters at all where life takes us or why. Maybe the soul is unchanging and—as the old saying goes—life is written in the veins.


    [Riverhead (World English) 2012; Edizioni Piemme (Italy) 2012; Rocco (Brazil) 2012; De Bezige Bij (Netherlands) 2012; Editions Calmann-Levy (France) 2012; Gyldendal (Norway) 2012; Damm (Sweden) 2012; Mare (Germany) 2012; Grup (Turkey) 2012; Modern Press (China) 2012; Wydawnictwo Otwarte (Poland) 2012; Thaning & Appel (Denmark)].



    About the author
    Dina N. Viergutz was born to a controversial family of doctors and poets in Iran in 1979 and lived and traveled there throughout the Iran-Iraq war. Having escaped the country on the day of her mother’s intended execution, Dina spent some years in Europe before moving to the United States. She speaks three languages and recently became a citizen of France (dual with U.S.), and has spent the last three years living in Paris and Amsterdam with her husband where she researched and wrote A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea. She is a graduate of Princeton and holds two masters degrees from Harvard, and she has just been accepted to the Iowa Writers Workshop beginning in the fall 2011. She has done an array of work, including leading strategic projects for Saks Fifth Avenue and McKinsey in New York City. As a Zuckerman Fellow at Harvard, she has discussed public policy with world leaders, and as a Teaching Fellow and keynote speaker (also at Harvard) she gave speeches to audiences of hundreds before she turned thirty.

    picture taken from http://apps.facebook.com/facebookshelf/people/1700632880



              Heroic US Marine Corps service dog awarded top medal for war animals        
    A heroic U.S. Marine Corps German shepherd that lost a leg sniffing out a roadside bomb in Afghanistan was awarded the world's highest honor for service dogs during a special ceremony Tuesday. Lucca, who served U.S. troops during more than 400 missions in Iraq and Afghanistan over a six-year span, received the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) Dickin Medal at the Wellington Barracks in London. She is the first Marine Corps dog to receive the medal, considered the top honor for war animals around the world.
              Get on Board, or Get Out of the Way        
    14th, 1984, aid, amendment, bush, campaign, channel, clear, Clinton, cnn, communications, compel,, consolidation, corporation, crisis, depression, disinformation, economic, economics, fiscal, fo,, freedom, George, germany, Government, hitler, homeless, inauguration, industrial, iraq, Israel, lakota, lakotah, libertarian, liberty, means, Media, military, monetary, murdock, news, obama, of, of state, orwell, orwellian, palestine, palestinian, policy, poverty, president, propaganda, rate, recession, republic, rockets, russell, secretary, Sioux, soldiers, sovereign, Sovereigns, sovereignty, time, toady, Tribe, USA, veterans, vets, w., war, warner, zionism, zionist, obama, president, whitehouse, white, house
              Because, Marc Jacobs Said So        
    This past spring, when Marc Jacobs debuted his F/W 2011-12 Women’s Wear line, you could see his muse was the Armed Forces.  The models strutted down the runway in military-inspired jackets and coats, showcasing what may be one of fall’s hottest trends.  At first, I wasn’t sold on the military look because I thought it was too masculine, but the more lines I saw with military-inspired pieces, I warmed up to the trend.  I was soon on the hunt for something military-esque so that I could hop on the bandwagon.

    With looking for something military-styled, I officially crossed the pond to shop!  I came across a military jacket at Yours Clothing in the U.K.


    This jacket screams I’m solider! It reminds me of the Marines dressier uniform jacket.  I had to have it…. and I got it this past spring.  Whenever I slip I on, I feel so “girls, who run this mutha!”  This is such a great piece to wear with jeans and boots.  This jacket comes in sizes 14-32 and retails for $71.10.  Order directly from Yours Clothing at www.yoursclothing.co.uk or if you’re in the U. K. (shout-out to my UK readers, I see you on my audience map, thank you!) Stop in at your nearest Yours Clothing boutique at its many location around the Kingdom. 

    Also, from Yours (and on my wishlist) is this wool Military Coat also for $71.10 which comes in black, grey, and olive green.  Sizes vary depending on color, but it comes in 14-24. 


    You don't have to join the Armed Forces to look the part. All you have to do is find the right pieces.  You don't have to take my word for it, Marc Jacobs already said so.

    Before I close out this posting, I thought earlier today the irony of this week’s blog post subject and the day I had time to complete it for publishing and how it coincides with the Veteran’s Day holiday.  In a few weeks, the first of many U.S. troops will start withdrawing from Iraq and return home.  Unfortunately, all who were called to duty won’t return.  I salute you and appreciate you and your efforts.  As the daughter of a Marine, I truly say, Happy Veteran’s Day!

    Semper Fi ~ The Plus Size Shopaholic ~ Muah!

              Film Review: CYBER BANDITS (1995, Erik Fleming)        
    Stars: 2.5 of 5.
    Running Time: 86 minutes.
    Notable Cast or Crew: Martin Kemp (WAXWORK II, THE KRAYS, of "Spandau Ballet" fame), Alexandra Paul (CHRISTINE, BAYWATCH), Adam Ant (of "Adam and the Ants," NOMADS, JUBILEE), Grace Jones (A VIEW TO A KILL, CONAN THE DESTROYER), Henry Gibson (NASHVILLE, THE 'BURBS, THE BLUES BROTHERS), James Hong (BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, BLADE RUNNER), Nils Allen Stewart (BLOODSPORT 2, FIREPOWER), Robert Hays (AIRPLANE!, CAT'S EYE, TV's STARMAN). Written by James Dale Robinson (THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN) and James Goldman (William Goldman's brother, the playwright who wrote THE LION IN WINTER, FOLLIES, and THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS––here he is credited as "Winston Beard").
    Tag-line: "Welcome to cyberspace. Where danger is a virtual reality."
    Best one-liner: "Strap him down, boys!" (said by Grace Jones)

    In a familiar, darkened alleyway:

    "What are we watching tonight?"
    –"Tonight, we're going to catch a glimpse the future."
    "Oh yeah?"
    –"Well, take a peek, kiddo––if you can handle it. It's called CYBER BANDITS:"

    Cool Cyber Dudes




    Life-Size Cyber Strippers


    Pocket-Size Cyber Strippers


    Read-only Optical Memory

     "The future kinda looks like 1995."
    –"The hell it does!"
    "Is that a CD-ROM?"
    –"Maybe. But what if in the future they have experimental hard drives that hold millions of terabytes of data and they happen to look like CD-ROMs?"
    "Oookay. If it's gonna be watered-down cyberpunk, can we just watch BRAINSCAN instead?"
    –"No. Trust me, you're gonna like CYBER BANDITS. For starters, its cast is comprised almost entirely of famous musicians and John Carpenter actors."
    "Hmm. Go on."
    –"Almost everyone in this film has razor-sharp cheekbones and ice-blue eyes, and it's all accompanied by aggressive house music and fusion jazz noodling. Look at this, it's just three, nearly identical, cheek-bony men staring at each other's cheekbones. It's like being held captive in a hall-of-mirrors at a German discotheque."

    "Okay. Is that, um, Adam Ant?"
    –"Maybe."
    "Does this movie have a plot?"
    "Of course it does. So there's an evil millionaire, played by Robert Hays (who played STARMAN on TV, albeit not directed by John Carpenter), who is financing a device capable of erasing your mind and trapping you in your own catatonic body in a mental hell of your own making. Essentially, it's a jumbo-sized and more malicious version of the neuralyzer from MEN IN BLACK.

    He's got Joe Dante and Robert Altman-standby Henry Gibson as his top scientist on the project, too."

    "So it's more of a 'Henry Gibson picture' than a 'William Gibson picture,' eh?"
    –"Oh, stop. Though, I must give a special shout-out to Gibson, who simpers and leers his way through the picture with sinister refinement, like he's a 1990s Claude Rains."

    Hand over the CD-ROMs if you know what's good for you

     "I do appreciate a solid Henry Gibson performance."
    –"Me too, brother. Anyway, our hero is Martin Kemp (the bassist from Spandau Ballet), who's, um, a sailor on the evil millionaire's yacht."

    "I feel like this character should be played by Jean-Claude Van Damme. Or at least Jean-Faux Van Bernhardt."
    –"Oh, hush. So, after a torrid affair with the millionaire's girlfriend (Alexandra Paul, from John Carpenter's CHRISTINE),

    Pictured: a torrid affair from the future, and not, in fact, a torrid affair from 1995.

    and against the advice of his buddy, rocker Adam Ant,

    You'll note that those are the Frank Lloyd Wright tiles from BLADE RUNNER in the background!

    the sailor and the girlfriend decide to steal the plans to the millionaire's neural-cyber-weapon-thing and have them laser-tattooed on Kemp's back with a bunch of little 1's and 0's. (The original title of this picture was A SAILOR'S TATTOO.)

    Incidentally, this is the first (but far from the last) time Martin Kemp will be strapped down to various surfaces throughout this movie.

    Also, it's worth mentioning that the man doing the tattooing is James Hong (from John Carpenter's BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA)

    Note his excellent fake mustache.

    who, pre-tattoo, offers them a masked, flamboyant Chinese opera performance.

    He was clearly having so much fun with it, that they bring him back for a post-credits scene where he performs even more Chinese opera. Take that, Marvel movies!"
    "I must say, as far as MacGuffins go, a coded tattoo is not the worst idea."
    –"Of course it isn't!  Didn't I tell you who wrote this thing?"
    "No."
    –"Two men. One is the guy who adapted THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN..."
    "Ugh."
    –"...and the other is the playwright who wrote THE LION IN WINTER."
    "Er, what?"
    –"Who incidentally is William Goldman's brother, James. However, he chose to be credited as 'Winston Beard.' Also, don't be so hard on THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN."
    "I'll be as hard on it as I want. Think about it: Sean Connery had such a bad experience working on it that he retired from acting. Therefore, if not for GENTLEMEN, we may have had Connery in INDIANA JONES AND THE CRYSTAL SKULL which fundamentally would have altered its fabric, which means it might not have had Tarzan vine-swinging and CG aliens. The pity is that we'll never know."
    –"Okay, that's enough out of you. I'm about to get to the best part: the millionaire has a foil––a woman who leads a rag-tag band of cyber-resistance fighters and plans to bring him down for good: ladies and gentlemen, may I present... Grace muthahfuckin' Jones."

    "That's a lot of crazy-eye."
    –"It's one of her specialties, as you well know. You can also see her in Christopher Lee's Cher wig from THE WICKER MAN,

    shouting things like "Strap him down, boys," feeding her pet mouse to her pet snake (with an extra side of crazy-eye),

    setting up a nice cyber-office on the beach (uh... what?)

    and wearing really outré outfits that I guess are supposed to be camouflage,

    but read more as "Cousin It at Milan fashion week."

    SURPRISE––Grace Jones!

    "I'm intrigued."
    –"It's a lot better than it should be. I mean, Grace Jones alone––despite less than 20 minutes of screen-time––is essentially worth the price of admission. It's like a low-rent BLADE RUNNER/NEUROMANCER with big ideas, game actors, silly costumes, and an A-list soundtrack featuring songs like 'Sploosh' by Ozric Tentacles."
    "Wow. I kinda miss the '90s."
    –"I think you mean, 'the future'... don't you?"
              Re: HOW TO FIND NAVY RECORDS DURING WW 2 ?         
    Oops! I thought they were looking for personal military records.
    I did get information from the Department of the Navy.
    I also was sent all of his medals, which surprised me.
    It was a wonderful gift, as our son was serving in Iraq on a Nuclear Cruiser at the time.

              El despiadado linchamiento del suicida del ISIS por las Fuerzas de Reacción Rápida iraquíes        

    Las Fuerzas del Servicio Antiterrorista y unidades de élite de Respuesta Rápida del Ministerio del Interior iraquí, siguen con sus ejecuciones sumarias en la ciudad de Mosul, en manos de los yihadistas del ISIS desde julio de 2014. El Ejército iraquí avanza mientras tanto en su ofensiva para recuperar el control completo de la ciudad,  donde cerca de 245.000 desplazados son esperados ya por parte de la ONU, otras organizaciones internacionales y el Gobierno iraquí, que ya han comenzado los preparativos para recibirlos. (El vídeo de la atroz tortura y muerte de tres llorones del ISIS... ¡que cabrea a la ONU!).

    Este jueves 23 de febrero de 2017, las citadas tropas, apoyadas con aviones, drones y helicópteros de combate -operación aérea la ha llevado a cabo aviones de la coalición internacional, que encabeza EEUU-, han arrebatado el control del aeropuerto del principal bastión del grupo terrorista después de varias horas de duros combates. ([VÍDEO X] El atroz matadero iraquí donde apilan cadáveres de los yihadistas del ISIS).

    Las fuerzas de reacción rápida de la Policía Federal, se vengaban mientras tanto de los miembros del ISIS en la zona oeste, donde capturaron a un joven que pretendía inmolarse. Así, según recoge el brutal vídeo que acompaña a estas lineas, lo arrastraron dándole de golpes por las calles, paa acribillarlo después a balazos.

    Por otra parte, y según ha informado el comandante de la policía, Shaker Yauda, las tropas iraquíes también han alcanzado las puertas del cuartel Al Gazlani, situado en las cercanías del estratégico aeródromo y se han hecho con el control del barrio de Tel al Rayan, uno de los dos distritos que el ejército ha asaltado este jueves.

    El comandante ha detallado que tanto las pistas, como los vestíbulos y los alrededores de las instalaciones están ya en manos de las fuerzas gubernamentales y ha señalado que en los combates por la toma del aeródromo han muerto 30 yihadistas y doce fueron capturados, entre ellos algunos occidentales. ([VÍDEO X] Así decapitan a un cejudo asesino del ISIS las descocadas milicias chiíe).

    El aeropuerto está ubicado en el acceso sur de Mosul, cerca de la orilla occidental del río Tigris, que divide la ciudad en dos mitades. Las maniobras militares en esta parte de la urbe comenzaron el pasado domingo, pero hasta ahora los militares se habían limitado a liberar ocho pueblos en los alrededores de la ciudad y a cortar las carreteras que unen Mosul con Siria, donde se encuentra Al Raqa, la capital de su autoproclamado califato.

    Quinto día de ofensiva

    El Ejército iraquí comenzó el asalto del casco urbano del oeste de Mosul con una amplia ofensiva contra el aeropuerto, situado en el suroeste de la localidad, y los barrios de Tel al Ramán y de Al Maamun. Estas operaciones coinciden con el quinto día del arranque de la ofensiva para liberar la parte occidental de la ciudad, se trata de la tercera fase de la Batalla de Mosul, cuyos barrios orientales, fueron liberados el pasado enero.

    Además, las unidades de las fuerzas regulares asaltaron una fábrica de azúcar y las zona donde se ubican las residencias de los trabajadores. El objetivo de los militares en la primera fase de la ofensiva era aislar completamente a los terroristas y cortarles los suministros.


              Comment on Shadow (2009) by ella seneres        
    See I was confused at the end of this blood letting film. You assume he is in a hospital without legs, but the last last minute you see black and white film still filming, which then goes back to the toad sucker who is filming the whole sadistic encounter, so I thought it was still the iraq vet in the grips of this psycho but with a twist, no legs to run, but still filming. Why the last shot with the film still recording?
              Ù‚صة صحفي من بغداد (ماهو الغير منطقي في القصة )؟        

    حكى صحافي عراقي عن قصة طريفة له مع صديقه بعد هروبهما من العاصمة العراقية  Ø¨ØºØ¯Ø§Ø¯ قبيل اقتحامها أثناء حرب الخليج الثانية الملقبة بثعاب الصحراء قائلا : كانت المدينة هادئة بشكل غريب  Ø±ØºÙ… تواجد  Ø§Ù„قوات العراقيية بكثرة التي كانت تتحصن بكل زوايا شوارع بغداد ، كانت الكهرباء مقطوعة عن المدينة بعد قصف المحطة الوحيدة التي تزود المدينة وكانت المياه ايضا مقطوعة عن المدينة برمتها بفعل  Ø§Ù„قصف فتحولت المدينة الى جحيم لا يطاق ، وكانت  Ø§ØµÙˆØ§Øª المدافع و دوي الانفجارات يسمع من بعيد  Ùˆ الادخنة تتصاعد في الافق  Ø¥Ù†Ù‡Ø§ طبول اقتحام المدينة تدق فقررت مع صديقي الهروب من المدينة عبر سيارته  Ù‚بل بدء الغارات و بعد انتطلاقنا بالسيارة  ØªÙˆÙ‚ف صديقي عند اول  ØªÙ‚اطع للطرق عند اشارة المرور  Ø§Ù„حمراء فصرخت فيه هل انت احمق لماذا توقفت اسرع و استمر في السير قبل حلول الظلام ،اجاب يجب احترام القانون و قد يكون الجنود يراقبوننا و يجب  Ø§Ù†ØªØ¸Ø§Ø± الاشارة الخضراء ، قلت له هذه حالة خاصة الا ترى الشوارع شبه خالية من السيارات ، لكنه اصر على موقفه و لم ينطلق إلا بعد  Ø¸Ù‡ÙˆØ± الاشارة الخضراء ، فجن جنوني فطلبت منه التوقف و اخدت منه القيادة فانطلقت بسرعة جنونية لا التفت لاي اشارة مرور عند تقاطع الطرق نطوي المسافات  Ùˆ ما كدنا نخرج من المدينة و نبتعد قليلا حتى سمعنا اصوات الطيران الامريكي محلقا في الجوى و دوي القصف و الانفجارات على المدينة  ÙÙƒØ§Ù† تسلمي لقيادة السيارة سببا لنجاح هروبنا من المدينة بسلام  Ù‚بل الغارات .

    أكتب ايملك ليصلك اللامنطقي في اللقصة فورا  :

    لا تنسى تفعيل بريدك الاليكتروني 

              Famosas teorias da conspiração        

    Teoria da conspiração é qualquer teoria que explica um evento histórico ou atual como sendo resultado de um plano secreto levado a efeito geralmente por conspiradores maquiavélicos e poderosos, tais como uma "sociedade secreta" ou "governo sombra".

    A arma Ebola


    Para alguns, a última epidemia de Ebola teria sido causada, na verdade, pelo lançamento acidental de uma arma biológica ... Pesquisadores militares teriam desenvolvido até um vírus ainda mais mortal do que o Ebola. Os teóricos da conspiração acusam o governo americano de disseminar o medo na tentativa de impor uma espécie de tirania médica.

    Bin Laden está vivo



    Esta teoria da conspiração se baseia no fato de que não há imagens do corpo de Osama bin Laden. O governo americano teria mentido para melhorar sua imagem pública? Outros acusam o governo americano de ter matado Bin Laden há muito tempo e mantê-lo congelado. Esses teóricos não podem simplesmente concordar?




    A origem da AIDS



    O HIV teria sido criado por ninguém menos do que o Departamento de Defesa dos EUA a fim de tornar a indústria farmacêutica mais rica e reduzir a população global, de acordo com teóricos da conspiração. Outros acusam a OMS de ter criado o vírus em 1974. Alguns até acreditam que a AIDS é causada pelas próprias drogas que são destinadas a tratá-la.




    Quem matou JFK?


    O assassinato do presidente norte-americano John Fitzgerald Kennedy em Dallas, em novembro de 1963, deu muito pano para manga para os teóricos da conspiração. A amante do presidente, extremistas de direita americanos, executivos do petróleo, a máfia de Chicago, KGB ou Fidel Castro, todos poderiam ser perfeitamente culpados. Na verdade, e você? O que estava fazendo no dia 22 de Novembro de 1963?

    O 11 de setembro



    O governo de George W. Bush sabia tudo sobre os ataques que atingiram os EUA em 11 de setembro de 2001, mas não fez nada para impedi-los, de acordo com a teoria conspiratória. Alguns até acusam os EUA de ter organizado os próprios ataques, para posteriormente poder invadir o Afeganistão e o Iraque.




    O Triângulo das Bermudas


    Uma área triangular no mar, ligando Flórida, Bermudas e Puerto Rico, é conhecida por ser o ponto mais perigoso para aviões e navios do mundo. Em 1974, um jornalista do Los Angeles Times afirmou que 190 barcos e 80 aviões tinham desaparecido ao longo de um século. O motivo? Alienígenas ou um campo magnético sobrenatural, de acordo com teóricos da conspiração. Na verdade, um relatório publicado em 2013 indicou que este triângulo nem sequer está no top 10 das áreas marítimas mais perigosas do mundo.


    Marilyn foi assassinada


    Marilyn Monroe não teria se matado tomando uma overdose de remédios no verão de 1962. O FBI ou a CIA teria a matado, segundo a teoria. Um livro intitulado “A estranha morte de Marilyn Monroe” lançou a primeira sombra de dúvida sobre a morte da atriz em 1964, além de divulgar os primeiros rumores sobre uma possível relação entre a estrela americana e os irmãos Kennedy.

    Os Illuminati


    Uma sociedade alemã do século 18 formada por pensadores independentes tem, ao longo dos séculos, tentado conquistar o mundo. Hoje, o grupo se esconde sob a aparência de uma sociedade estudantil da Universidade Yale, exercendo sua influência sobre o governo americano. O FMI e a União Europeia também estariam completamente sob o controle dos Illuminati, de acordo com os teóricos da conspiração.



    Elvis não está morto

    Adorado por milhões, Elvis Presley teria encenado sua própria morte para escapar de seus fãs. Até mesmo seu empresário declarou depois de sua morte: "Elvis não morreu (...) Nós estamos mantendo ele vivo." Então, se você encontrar Elvis na rua, não se assuste.
    Paul está morto

    Os teóricos da conspiração insistem que Paul McCartney está morto há 49 anos. A prova? 

    Os Beatles não produziram nenhum álbum entre os verões de 1966 e 1967. O sucesso do grupo teria sido impossível se a morte do músico britânico tivesse sido anunciada, então ele teria sido substituído por um sósia ...

    A morte de Lady Di


    Quem causou o acidente de carro que custou a vida de Lady Di em Paris em 1997? De acordo com os teóricos da conspiração, a rainha da Inglaterra, é claro! Tudo porque a princesa de Gales estava pretendendo tornar oficial sua relação com o bilionário egípcio, Dodi Al-Fayed, que também morreu no acidente. Os responsáveis por essa teoria, entretanto, não deixam claro se foi a própria Elizabeth II que teria sabotado os freios do carro.

    Aterrissagem na Lua



    Os americanos não pisaram na Lua em 1969, de acordo com algumas pessoas. As imagens da missão lunar teriam sido filmadas na Terra – talvez em um estúdio de Hollywood? – para ganhar a corrida espacial contra os soviéticos. Será que agora estão preparando uma nova teoria da conspiração para lidar com futuras missões a Marte?




    Fonte: G1 Notícias Fotos:Photo Getty Images

    Pesquisa/Montagem/Edição: JF Hyppólito

              Marketing to Extremists: Waging War in Cyberspace        


    04/08/2017 Andrew Byers Social Media

    This article was originally published by the Small Wars Journal on 9 July 2017.

    Online, the Islamic State is a technologically savvy, sophisticated, and nimble organization that learns from its mistakes and from the actions of the Western intelligence services and NGOs that have sought to counter it. It is no secret that past and current efforts to reach potential terrorists before they can become radicalized and committed to a path of jihad and terrorism have proved inadequate. To use the language of online marketers, countering ISIS’s online activities will require quality content disseminated on a massive scale, with careful product placement. Placing counter-messaging products into platforms and forums that extremists frequent will increase the chances of potential terrorist recruits coming into contact with narratives outside of ISIS’ control.

    ISIS’s cyber efforts have paid off; the FBI told Congress in July 2016 that “the message of radicalization spreads faster than we imagined just a few years ago.”[i] The number of foreigners who have been inspired by the Islamic State’s online propaganda to travel to Syria and Iraq (or elsewhere) and participate in the fighting is unclear, but most estimates place the tally at more than 20,000. Others have been set on the path of radicalization by ISIS’s online propaganda and have become “lone wolf” attackers in the United States or in Europe.[ii] Demographically speaking, the people who ISIS is most interested in targeting for recruitment came of age in the twenty-first century as “digital natives”; they have lived their entire lives surrounded by ubiquitous online communications and have embraced it in technologically sophisticated ways.[iii] ISIS knows how to appeal to these potential jihadis. Reaching them with counter-messages will require a sophisticated and multi-faceted approach.

    America’s public and private sectors must commit the resources needed to carry out this counter-messaging, though we must understand that such an information war cannot be won in a short period of time, but rather, must be carried out resolutely and patiently, even in the absence of quantitative metrics of success. For example, how will we assess our effectiveness, when one measure of success is how many potential jihadis did not decide to carry out lone wolf attacks or travel to Syria? This is an entirely new and different kind of fight from any we have been engaged previously. Even without quantitative measures of effectiveness fully fleshed out, we can use scale, quality content, and product placement to improve current efforts to shape–and hopefully win–the online propaganda wars to come.

    Understanding Our Options

    In terms of quality counter-messaging content, the State Department–the lead U.S. agency in this fight—has already acknowledged its past failures in content production. Notably, it has acknowledged that it may not be the voice best-suited to convince Middle Eastern or Muslim recruits to turn away from the path of terrorism. The State Department’s Global Engagement Center has pivoted away from producing content, and instead now supports the efforts of localized “proxies,” thereby supporting other voices that understand the context, culture, and push/pull factors that resonate within Muslim communities.[iv] It is not only government entities involved in this struggle; various NGOs also participate in counter-jihad content creation, drawing upon former extremists, notable academics, and a multitude of languages.[v]

    The West’s efforts to date have mostly created a series of reactive, ineffective counter-narratives that potential jihadis dismiss. We advocate for precision messaging; for example, past efforts by State Department entities have mined public social media data to identify individuals who may be susceptible to extremism and then pay for YouTube ads that counter extremist messaging. But we don’t need to mine public data to put counter messaging into the world of potential recruits. The United States must become aggressive and proactive in its anti-Islamic State online activities: it must immediately move to hijack the group’s own narratives and create alternatives.

    When it comes to scale, the current efforts by the United States and its allies are merely a drop in the ocean of ISIS’s material. If ISIS posts nearly 100,000 messages each day, as the British House of Commons Defence Committee stated in 2015,[vi] then countering their content will take a significant amount of internet traffic or else we risk being drowned out. This component cannot be ignored or understated. Current counter-messaging efforts are not achieving enough volume to warrant a response by would-be extremists, let alone to spark an actual conversation or debate among extremists. If we have quality content and we know where to put it to reach potential recruits, we still cannot reach enough people without massively increasing the current volume of counter-messaging efforts.

    When it comes to proper product placement for the counter-messaging, the best way to decide where and how to reach recruits is by watching ISIS itself. ISIS has had to transition from various platforms throughout its years of recruitment, including Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Telegram. ISIS’s supporters take an active role in finding new platforms, spreading propaganda, and shepherding others along to new sites and procedures. It is not uncommon for followers to post specific instructions on where to post or how to manipulate different platforms’ terms of service to remain undetected or prevent accounts from being shut down. As they communicate best practices to each other, they create a trail for analysts to follow and instructions for counter-messaging units in order to put counter content where recruits will see it, even if this sometimes results in informational “misfires.”

    The opportunities afforded by focusing our efforts on these approaches are manifold. If we are able to effectively erode the Islamic State’s ability to use propaganda to inspire self-directed attacks in the West, it would be forced to expend its resources and personnel on directed attacks in the West if it wishes to continue such operations. Sending Islamic State operatives into the West to carry out attacks there is a much more difficult and costly proposition, and one that is vulnerable to the West’s traditional strengths in intelligence and counterterrorism.

    A Starting Point

    We have compiled a list of some of ISIS’s known recruitment practices, along with specific recommendations for ways that counter-messaging organizations could take advantage of them. This list is not meant to be comprehensive or static, but rather to serve as a starting point that could be executed immediately and without excessive cost or effort.

    Keeping Followers as Twitter/Telegram Accounts are Shut Down: As Twitter has improved its process of shutting down Islamic State accounts, its supporters have devised strategies to maintain their network of followers from one account to their next. The most popular method is to simply add a number to their Twitter username and then to increase that number each time they are shut down and begin a new account. Thus, for example, followers of @Muslimah6 could find her on her new account @Muslimah7 after Twitter shut down her account. This method of maintaining followers has been adapted for Telegram as well. The Islamic State’s unofficial news channel “Khilafah News” is left public, meaning that new users can always find it. But this also allows Telegram to shut it down at any time. The administrators of Khilafah News add a number to the end of their channel’s invitation link and increase this number every time the previous channel is shut down by Telegram. It is important to remember that Islamic State recruiters want to be found in order to effectively recruit new members. This nomenclature pattern allows them to do just that. But more importantly, it creates an opportunity for those creating alternative narratives to put their content on a Telegram channel or a Twitter account that they know Islamic State supporters will follow. New iterations of the Khilafah News channel could be created, knowing that once Telegram shuts down the last Khilafah News channel Islamic State supporters would follow the new fake channel, believing it to be authentic Islamic State channels and increasing the likelihood that a recruit would be exposed to counter-messaging.

    The Islamic State’s Hashtags: Since it began disseminating propaganda on social media, the Islamic State has embraced the power of hashtags. In 2014 it famously hijacked World Cup hashtags in English and Arabic in order to spread its propaganda and shock social media users who may not have been previously exposed to such messages. The group has also advertised hashtags for supporters to use when tagging and finding new propaganda. Just as the Islamic State hijacks popular hashtags, counter-messaging teams can utilize the group’s own hashtags when posting content on social media. This will put alternative narratives in the same social media conversation as the Islamic State’s propaganda and will increase the chances that a recruit would receive facts about the group. The U.S. government has begun to take tentative steps in this direction, but such efforts could be vastly expanded.

    Promotion and Marketing: The Islamic State disseminates small propaganda pieces daily, but its larger propaganda pieces take more time. In order to build hype, the Islamic State typically advertises with multi-lingual “trailers” for large upcoming pieces. Dissemination of the pieces generally occur days later, but there is no set schedule. Upon dissemination, the group posts its videos on YouTube, social media, and various self-publishing sites. Teams that produce content to counter the Islamic State must have videos ready for dissemination at all times. Then as new Islamic State’s trailers begin to appear on social media, the counter-content can be disseminated first under the same name as the propaganda that the Islamic State is advertising and it must be placed on all of the sites that the group uses. Recruits will be checking frequently for the release and the Islamic State will actually be advertising and promoting pieces that could pull recruits away. This would effectively drown out the Islamic State’s content while increasing the likelihood that recruits see alternative narratives.

    Take Advantage of Platform Restrictions and Features:Not all of the Islamic State’s content is violent and grotesque; it produces some content that does not show any violent images or videos whatsoever. This allows the content to be played on news programs and for it be posted on YouTube. Knowing that the Islamic State works to keep its content available on major publishing sites, counter-narrative agencies must do the same. If a recruit searches for the name of a popular propaganda video on YouTube or an equivalent site, counter-content should appear with the same name. Video creators can even pay to promote their content so that it tops a search list. A greater understanding for how various platforms choose the order of their search results would help counter content receive just as many hits, if not more, than Islamic State propaganda.

    Maintaining YouTube Channels: The Islamic State has a carefully structured propaganda structure. It has central marketing agencies that run video content, radio broadcasts, and written publications. These “federal” programs are represented within each wilayat, or province, as well. Each wilayat produces its own multilingual videos and publications that are often featured in publications from the central agencies. Islamic State supporters have advanced this model even further. There are several known propaganda groups that support the Islamic State but are not run by official Islamic State employees. Supporters make their own content and publish it on YouTube, Twitter, Telegram, and various other social and self-publishing sites. Like the Islamic State’s agencies, they have their own calligraphic logos and follow predictable but evolving patterns. “Al-Haqq” is one such Islamic State-affiliated group that runs its own Telegram channels and YouTube accounts. It would be simple to create a YouTube account called “Al-Haqq,” utilizing the group’s logo and publishing content that appears to be Islamic State videos. In reality, these videos could contain counter-messaging content with the same names as known extremist productions.

    In adopting these methods, even potential jihadis who are adept at hiding their identities or degree of radicalization would come into contact with alternative narratives that may cause them to question the narratives ISIS feeds to its supporters.  It is important for analysts who study ISIS’s dissemination of propaganda to remain in constant contact with those working to counter ISIS’s messaging, helping the latter to evolve along with ISIS and other extremist groups. While we are currently scrambling to combat ISIS’s propaganda campaigns in the cyber domain, learning to develop the necessary approaches now will allow us to excel in future cyber wars with other extremist groups. Without a new strategy for winning the information war, the West will always be reactive and on the defensive as it struggles to compete with the Islamic State for the hearts and minds of Muslims around the world. Most importantly, if we can create an adaptive and empowered cyber effort now, we will be better equipped for the terrorist groups that will learn from and advance the work that the Islamic State is doing now. Future jihadi organizations that come after the Islamic State can be expected to be even savvier users of social media and similar communications venues. Unless the West learns to use social media with the same level of sophistication, it will continue to lose the information war and fall further behind.

    End Notes

    [i] Michael Steinbach, executive assistant director for the FBI’s National Security Branch, testimony before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, United States Senate, July 6, 2016, https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/subcommittees/investigations/hearings/isis-online-countering-terrorist-radicalization-and-recruitment-on-the-internet_social-media.

    [ii] Daniel Byman, “How to Hunt a Lone Wolf: Countering Terrorists Who Act on Their Own,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 96, No. 2 (March/April 2017): 96-105.

    [iii] Marc Prensky,” Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants,” On the Horizon vol. 9, no. 5 (October 2001): 1-6.

    [iv] Joby Warrick, “How a U.S. team uses Facebook, guerrilla marketing to peel off potential ISIS recruits,” Washington Post, February 6, 2017,https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/bait-and-flip-us-team-uses-facebook-guerrilla-marketing-to-peel-off-potential-isis-recruits/2017/02/03/431e19ba-e4e4-11e6-a547-5fb9411d332c_story.html.

    [v] Representative NGOs include the Counter Extremism Project, Families Against Terrorism and Extremism, and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. For examples of their work, see “Counter Extremism Project Unveils Technology to Combat Online Extremism,” Counter Extremism Project, June 17, 2016,https://www.counterextremism.com/press/counter-extremism-project-unveils-technology-combat-online-extremism; “Watch & Share,” FATE, http://www.findfate.org/en/watch-share/; Jonathan Russell, “Helping Families to Safeguard from Extremism,” FATE, http://www.findfate.org/en/helping-families-to-safeguard-from-extremism/; “One to One Online Interventions: A Pilot CVE Methodology,” Institute for Strategic Dialogue, April 2016, http://www.strategicdialogue.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/One2One_Web_v9.pdf.

    [vi] UK Parliament, “The Situation in Iraq and Syria and the Response to al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq al-Sham (DAESH),” February 5, 2015,https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmdfence/690/69008.htm.

    About the Authors

    Andrew Byers is a visiting assistant professor of history at Duke University who has served as an intelligence and counterterrorism analyst and is a co-founder of the Counter Extremism Network.

    Tara Mooney is a counter-violent-extremism analyst and co-founder of Talon Intelligence. She is also a co-founder of the Counter Extremism Network


              Creating A 12 To 24-Month Policy Bridge For A New Afghanistan Strategy        

    http://dailycaller.com/2017/08/04/creating-a-12-to-24-month-policy-bridge-for-a-new-afghanistan-strategy/

    LAWRENCE SELLIN

    Retired Colonel, U.S. Army Reserve

    3:52 PM 08/04/2017

    Up until now his advisors have offered President Trump two choices for failure in Afghanistan, one quick, withdrawal, and one slow, a continuation of the failed strategy of the last sixteen years.

    By now it should be apparent to all knowledgeable people that U.S. objectives cannot be achieved in land-locked Afghanistan where Pakistan, whose Afghanistan objectives differ from ours, controls the supply of our troops and the battle tempo through its support of the Taliban and Haqqani network.

    An alternative is to provide the President with a 12 to 24-month plan that bridges the gap between the present untenable strategy to a longer term solution.

    That is, rather than tweak the current strategy, begin to address the core problem, a strategic environment that has made success of the current strategy impossible.

    Within the next two years, the Trump Administration should formulate a strategy that exploits Pakistan’s pain points, one which carves out roles for the Department of Defense, Department of State and Congress.

    While preventing a further deterioration in the security situation in Afghanistan, different permutations and degrees of the following actions should be pursued, both as short term leverage against Pakistan and, ideally, to create a regional strategic environment more conducive to U.S. interests.  That is, it is not the Taliban and the Haqqani network that need to be brought to the negotiating table, but Pakistan.

    Foreign aid to Pakistan – reduce it to a trickle. Even Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States says that a tougher approach needs to be adopted toward his country: “The Bush administration gave Pakistan $12.4 billion in aid, and the Obama administration forked over $21 billion. These incentives did not make Pakistan more amenable to cutting off support for the Afghan Taliban.”Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) status – cancel all or part of it. As a MNNA country, approved by President George W. Bush in 2004, Pakistan became “eligible for priority delivery of defense material, an expedited arms sale process, and a U.S. loan guarantee program, which backs up loans issued by private banks to finance arms exports. It can also stockpile U.S. military hardware, participate in defense research and development programs, and be sold more sophisticated weaponry.”Declaration of Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism – advance the House bill through Congress. On September 20, 2016, Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02), the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, along with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48), introduced H.R.6069, the Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act. According to Chairman Poe: “Not only is Pakistan an untrustworthy ally, Islamabad has also aided and abetted enemies of the United States for years.  From harboring Osama bin Laden to its cozy relationship with the Haqqani network, there is more than enough evidence to determine whose side Pakistan is on in the War on Terror.”Durand Line – Pakistan depends on it – question its legitimacy. The Durand Line is the arbitrary 1896 border drawn between Afghanistan and Pakistan by British Diplomat Sir Mortimer Durand. Pashtun lands have been artificially divided and Pakistan is using its Pashtun population as Taliban cannon fodder.China-Pakistan Economic Corridor – undermine it. Pakistan has significant economic incentive to exclude western countries from maintaining any influence in Afghanistan. It is called the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is part of China’s larger Belt and Road Initiative that aims to connect Asia through land-based and maritime economic zones. CPEC is an infrastructure project, the backbone of which is a transportation network connecting China to the Pakistani seaports of Gwadar and Karachi located on the Arabian Sea. Gwadar is a potential Chinese naval base at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, which will complement another Chinese naval base in Djibouti at the mouth of the Red Sea creating two critical strategic choke points.Ethnic separatism – encourage it – Pakistan is the Yugoslavia of South Asia. Probably the greatest of all potential Pakistani pain points is ethnic separatism. Pakistan was founded on the religion of Islam and is composed primarily of five ethnic groups that never coexisted, the Bengalis, Punjabis, Pashtuns, Sindhis and Baloch. Pakistan’s Islamic nationalism program was specifically designed to suppress ethnic separatism, an effort that eventually led to the proliferation of Islamic terrorist groups within its borders and their use as instruments of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Exploitation of ethnic separatism within Pakistan, such as in Balochistan, remains an option. That is, fight an insurgency with an insurgency.

    A longer term solution for Afghanistan was described previously in the Daily Caller, one based on counterterrorism rather than counterinsurgency, providing a cost-effective, flexible and “conditions-based” strategy advocated by retired U.S. Army Major General Paul Vallely in a Diana West article.

    “Such a strategy, Vallely explained, relies on ‘the maximum use of unconventional forces,’ such as Navy SEALS and other special forces, who can be deployed as needed from what are known in military parlance as ‘lily pads’ — outposts or jumping-off points in friendly countries (Israel, Northern Kurdistan, India, Philippines, Italy, Djibouti … ) and from U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups. Such strike groups generally include eight to 10 vessels ‘with more fire power,’ the general noted, ‘than most nations.’ These lily pads become ‘bases we can launch from any time we want to,’ eliminating the need for massive land bases such as Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, by now a small city of 20,000 American personnel who continuously need to be supplied and secured at enormous expense.”

    In terms of Afghanistan strategy, it is time to build a bridge to somewhere.

    Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired US Army Reserve colonel, an IT command and control subject matter expert, trained in Arabic and Kurdish, and a veteran of Afghanistan, northern Iraq and a humanitarian mission to West Africa. He receives email at lawrence.sellin@gmail.com.


              Pakistan's permanent jihadi network        




    by LAWRENCE SELLIN, PHD August 3, 2017

    The United States, NATO and the Afghan government should not be trying to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, but Pakistan.

    Located about 100 kilometers from the Afghanistan border in Kharan, Balochistan is one of the hundreds of outposts of Pakistan's permanent jihadi network.

    Far lesser known than al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, but considered by many to be far more dangerous, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) is Pakistan's favorite Islamo-nationalist jihadist group.

    JuD, which the United Nations say is a front for banned militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), was originally a Punjabi-dominated organization, but, with the help of the Pakistani military expanded into Balochistan and Sindh provinces as a Islamo-nationalist tool to suppress ethnic separatism.

    According to South Asia expert Arif Jamal, JuD is a bigger threat than al-Qaeda or the Islamic State because:

    "JuD was conceived and created as an organization that can run a modern state. That is why JuD placed equal stress on recruiting its members from all professions and gives training to its members in all fields of statecraft. Unlike al-Qaeda and ISIS, JuD members come from or have penetrated all government departments, from the Pakistani military down to municipal councils. Unlike al-Qaeda and ISIS, JuD is capable of reinventing itself and surviving."

    JuD is said to be operating under different names in 50 countries and reportedly has over 500,000 members in Pakistan, making it bigger than all other Pakistani jihadist groups combined.

    The terrorist group LeT, which is linked to the Pakistani intelligence service the ISIS, is better known, but in actuality, LeT can be considered one of the JuD departments, whose specific mandate is to wage jihad in the Indian Kashmir. Another JuD element, known as "International Affairs Department," under Abdur Rehman Makki, is responsible for global jihadist activities. Arif Jamal has argued that the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks were a joint operation by the LeT and the JuD's International Affairs Department.

    As an indication of its official clout, after the 2013 Awaran earthquake, the Pakistani government barred UN agencies from carrying out relief activities, but allowed in 2,000 JuD volunteers to provide relief and recruit jihadis in close coordination with Pakistan's civilian administration and soldiers.

    According to local sources, the Kharan district chief of JuD and LeT is Mohammad Altaf Mullazai. He has five brothers and three sisters. Altaf is the eldest son of his father, Haji Saleh Mohammad Mullazai. Altaf's permanent residence is in Wapda Mohalla of Kharan, but he now spends most of his time in Quetta. Altaf's brother, Saleem Mullazai, fought with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

    Altaf's cousin Waseem is now in operational control of jihadi activities in the Kharan region, representing JuD and making frequent visits to the Pakistan Army base in Quetta. He uses a black Honda motorcycle and carries a 9mm pistol.

    Again according to local sources, Mohammad Altaf Mullazai is linked to Pakistani intelligence and Shafiq Mengal, related to a power struggle for Pakistani military money with Muneer Mullazai. Both Mohammad Altaf Mullazai and Muneer Mullazai have worked with the Pakistani military to suppress Balochistan nationalists.

    Mohammad Altaf Mullazai's associate, Shafiq Mengal is now, according to security officials in Quetta, leader of the Islamic State in Pakistan.

    As reported earlier, Shafiq Mengal is the son of former Pakistan state minister for petroleum and Balochistan's caretaker chief minister, Naseer Mengal. He comes from an influential and educated family, dropped out from Aitchison College in Lahore, and later attended an extremist Sunni-Deobandi theological school.

    In 2008, Shafiq Mengal organized a pro-government tribal militia known as the Baloch Musallah Difaee Tanzeem, which was considered a pawn of Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, and enjoyed the confidence of the local Pakistani Army Frontier Corps.  The Pakistani authorities saw it as being in the vanguard of the fight against Balochistan independence insurgents. Mengals's group soon degenerated into a local death squad, killing people for political as well as non-political, tribal or personal reasons.

    In the wake of the Pakistani government crackdown on al-Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban and related domestic terrorist groups, Shafiq Mengal took advantage of the power vacuum created in LeJ to become one of the leading lights of the LeJ splinter group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami (LeJ-A), which has claimed responsibility for several bloody atrocities in Balochistan in the past year.

    Another presumed link in the permanent Pakistani jihadi network is located farther west in the Kech district of Balochistan, where Lashkar-e-Khorasan, a self-proclaimed Islamic State affiliate, is an apparent important player in an opium-trafficking region with active Taliban recruiting centers.

    The take-home message for the Trump Administration is that the Taliban represents only the tip of the Pakistani jihadi iceberg.

    The U.S. cannot achieve its stated objectives in Afghanistan under the current strategic conditions and should incorporate new tactics in a broader South Asia strategy addressing Pakistan's proliferation of Islamo-nationalism.

    That strategy could include fighting an insurgency with an insurgency by supporting secular Balochistan independence groups.

    Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired colonel with 29 years of service in the US Army Reserve and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. Colonel Sellin is the author of "Restoring the Republic: Arguments for a Second American Revolution ". He receives email at lawrence.sellin@gmail.com.


              January 08 - "Bad Blow-Job Face and You: The Comprehensive Guide."        
    This is a detailed explanation of what makes a "bad blow-job face," as requested by interested parties. To clear up confusion, this term refers to the face of a potential giver of blow-jobs, not the receiver, and also is a general condition of the face that occurs normally at rest, not just in the act. For the sake of simplicity, I've focused on female faces affected by BBJF, though it certainly occurs in men, as well. BBJF should not be confused with simple ugliness - there are plenty of "conventionally attractive" people whom I would give a BBJF diagnosis to. And I am apparently the preeminent authority on the matter.

    PS - I wouldn't necessarily call this NSFW, but tread lightly.



    The Humble Beginnings
    The concept of "bad blow job face" (BBJF) came from a fairly innocent conversation between Chris and myself, regarding a sure-to-be-perfectly-nice girl he had recently met and attended a party with. She quite obviously had a crush on him, which made me want to know what she looked like, which resulted in Chris sending me a link to her Flickr and directing me toward this photo:
    the original
    (Please note: I do NOT have permission to use this photo, nor any of the photos to follow. If anyone in any of these photos were to contact me and ask for their photo to be removed, I might consider it.)

    My response to the picture was something to the effect of, "Oh. She doesn't look like she would give very good head."

    This comment was meant to convey two ideas: 1) I'm a snarky bitch, and 2) Chris is well-endowed and possesses an insatiable sexual appetite - he needs to be with a girl who can take it like a pro. Plus, he's a good person who deserves GOOD blow jobs. Expressing my opinion that she wouldn't meet his needs was actually an example of me looking out for his best interests; the snark is just an added bonus.

    He seemed amused by this and asked why she looked like she wouldn't give good head. I couldn't come up with anything concrete, and simply asked if he really disagreed; he didn't, and the subject was more-or-less dropped. Well, dropped until she was mentioned again. After that, whenever he brought her up, I immediately thought "girl-who-looks-like-she-gives-bad-head," and I think he perpetuated the nickname himself a few times by referring to her as such. It became a bit of an inside joke between us.

    Fast-forward to last weekend. Pat and I went down to Portland, OR, so he could see the city before he leaves the wonders of the West Coast for the banality of Shithole, USA. There we stayed with some friends of mine, and Chris came out to meet us at a bar (Dante's, where we watched a fire-dancer - aka stripper - set her titties on fire). I honestly do not know why, but his unfortunately-nicknamed former friend came up, but this time under a truncated title: "Bad blow-job face girl." Pat, being of sound mind and inquisitive spirit, asked what exactly made up a "bad blow-job face." I found it difficult to name specific characteristics, and instead tried to name a celebrity that qualified, but could only come up with pinch-faced, hollow-cheeked ones like Calista Flockhart and Lara Flynn Boyle, who do not actually personify the spirit of BBJF. In hindsight, Renee Zellweger would have been a better example; but I digress.

    Even working together, Chris and I were not able to come up with a list of characteristics for BBJF, and the subject was dropped at the time. But apparently, after the weekend, Chris revisited the idea with his good friend Scott, who was also dissatisfied with the lack of parameters. He came to me asking for BBJF "rules," and I have the sad task of informing him that there are no rules regarding this affliction. Only guidelines. Let's look at these guidelines in greater detail.

    A Brief List
    In preparation for this entry, I brainstormed a few facial characteristics that could be construed as BBJF. While sitting in Psych class, I came up with:
    -Thin lips (please note that the originator of BBJF actually has full lips)
    -Cold eyes (frequently beady)
    -Inexperienced-looking (not to be confused with innocent-looking)
    -Unenthusiastic about the task
    -Large nose (wide, long, or both)
    -Underbite (overbites have a surprisingly low impact on BBJF)
    -Weak chin

    While no one trait consigns a face to BBJF territory, the combination of a few of these traits can have an erection-killing result. For instance:
    professional
    (like my slick editing job? MS Paint for life!)

    This girl is clearly a professional, so she must appeal to someone. But when I look at her face, I see BBJF written all over it. She has a big nose, cold eyes, thin lips, and certainly lacks enthusiasm. If I had a dick, I would NOT put it in her mouth.

    A non-professional example of combination-trait BBJF, exhibiting large nose, underbite, and cold eyes (not having a dick in her mouth, her enthusiasm is difficult to measure):
    Photobucket
    This girl has a nice full lower lip, but it is not enough to excuse her face from BBJF-dom.

    In this example, she has pretty eyes and acceptable lips, but the large-nose/weak-chin combo is too strong:
    double yuck
    No blow-jobs, please.

    In Conclusion
    Our original BBJF, while possessed of thick lips, warm eyes, and likely enthusiasm (she did have a pretty major crush on him), still qualifies for BBJF status because of her large nose and because she is inexperienced-looking, as well as an unidentifiable je ne sais quoi. BBJF doesn't have to be based on an aforementioned trait; it can be more of a feeling. I apologize to those looking for a more definite explanation: this is not yet a science.

    If anyone has received a blow-job from any of the ladies used as examples and can vouch for its quality, please let me know. I am only making general observations, and any additional research could be helpful in the advancement of the field.
              FIDE Newsletter July 2017        

    official logo

    FIDE Grand Prix Series was held in Geneva, Switzerland from 5th to 16th of July 2017

    Teimour Radjabov emerged clear winner of the FIDE World Chess Grand Prix in Geneva after sharing the point with his nearest follower Ian Nepomniachtchi in the final round. Radjabov earned 20.000 EUR and 170 Grand Prix points for the clear first place. Nepomniachtchi and Grischuk took 13.500 EUR and 105 GP points each.

    Radjabov gp2017

    In the overall Grand Prix standings Shakhriyar Mamedyarov is leading with 340 points, while Grischuk is second with 316,4. They have completed three events each and will cautiously await the results from the final 4th leg.

    kosteniuk

    Radjabov jumped through to the third place with 241,4 points. Ding Liren on 240 and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave on 211,4 can also hope to earn one of the two qualifying spots for the Candidates Tournament.

    Official website

    Photo gallery


    European Senior Team Chess Championship 2017 took place in Novi Sad, Serbia from 24th of June till 4th of July 2017.

    The Serbian team became European champion in the "50+" section European Championships for seniors. The title was brought by the grandmasters Miloš Pavlović, Goran M. Todorović, Siniša Dražić and Nenad Ristić and international master Zoran Arsović.

    European Senior Team Chess Championship

    Second place get to the team of Italy, which had three grandmasters in their team composition, and the third place went to team of Sweden. Particularly interesting is the fact that for the Swedish team successfully played the Swedish ambassador in Serbia, His Excellency Jan Lundin.

    In the 65+ section the team of Russia, for which are playing the legendary grandmasters Sveshnikov, Vasyukov and Balashov made amazing result of all eight victories, and took the first place. The Danish team was the second, and Belgium, after they lost match in the last round against Russia, took third place.

    Official website


    Panamerican Youth Championship 2017 took place in Costa Rica from 30 June 2017 till 7th of July 2017.

    Panamerican Youth Championship 2017

    Total medal counts at PanAm Youth Championships:

    USA 4 Gold, 5 Silver, 6 Bronze = 15 medals
    Peru 2 Gold, 3 Silver, 2 Bronze = 7 medals
    Canada 2 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze = 5 medals
    Venezuela 1 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze = 3 medals
    Colombia 1 Gold, 1 Bronze = 2 medals
    Argentina 1 Gold
    Chile 1 Gold
    Mexico 1 Silver
    Bolivia 1 Bronze

    U8
    Lopez Rayo Santiago COL
    Mishra Abhimanyu USA
    Prestia Sebastian USA

    U8 girls
    Vidyarthi Omya USA
    Maravi Ceron Ayme PER
    Qu Greta CAN

    U10
    Li Eric USA
    Atanasov Anthony CAN
    Gao Marvin USA

    U10 Girls
    Contreras Fiorella PER
    Wong Allyson USA
    Wang Ellen USA

    U12
    Chasin Nico Werner USA
    Galaviz Medina Sion Radam MEX
    Flores Quillas Diego Saul Rod PER

    U12 Girls
    Perez Hernandez Vicmary C. VEN
    Yellamraju Ambica USA
    Matute Escobar Roxanny VEN

    U14
    Liu Aristo S USA
    Nakada Akira W USA
    Titichoca Daza Daniel BOL

    U14 Girls
    He Emma CAN
    Zeng Sheena USA
    Ehsani Yassamin L USA

    U16
    Varacalli Francisco ARG
    Ramirez Gonzalez Mauricio VEN
    Liang Albert USA

    U16 Girls
    Gomez Barrera Javiera Belen CHI
    Mostacero Velarde Isabella PER
    Caballero Quijano Mitzy Mishe PER

    U18
    Song Michael CAN
    Cori Quispe Kevin Joel PER
    Quinonez Garcia Santiago COL

    U18 Girls
    Cosme Contreras Trilce PER
    Wang Constance CAN
    Cervantes Landeiro Thalia USA

    Panamerican Youth Championship 2017 2

    Official website

    Results


    North American Youth Championship 2017 was held in Morristown, NJ, USA from 12th to 16th of July 2017.

    North American Youth Championship 2017 2

    A record-breaking 357 players from the United States, Canada and Mexico descended on the historic American Revolution town of Morristown, NJ, to compete in the North American Youth Chess Championships from July 12th to 16th. Sponsored by the Chess Tech, Continental Chess Association’s Darcy Lima, the International Chess School’s Michael Khodarkovsky and in Association with New Jersey Chess Federation and United States Chess Federation, the tournament had 12 sections with girls and open sections from under 8 to under 18. International Arbiters Steve Doyle, Eduard Duchovny and Ken Ballou have a staff of New Jersey State Chess Federation officers and staff: Hal Sprechman, Jim Mullanaphy, Jabari McGreen and Noreen Davisson. IA Steve Doyle, a legend on the chess scene, former President of USCF and Vice President of FIDE conducted the Tournament together with Tournament Directors GM Darcy Lima and Michael Khodarkovsky.

    Final Standings 


    Asian Zonal 3.1 took place in Tehran, Iran from 29th of June till 8th of July 2017

    20 players (18 from Iran, 1 from Syria, 1 from Iraq) took part in the women`s section. Mobina Alinasab, a youth player from North of Iran, won the golden medal; Sarasadat Khademalsharieh and Mitra Hejazipour were second and third.

    Asian Zonal 3.1

    30 players (28 from Iran, 1 from Syria, 1 from Iraq) took part in the Open section. GM Amirreza Pourramezanali achieved Gold Medal. IM Aryan Gholami and GM Pouya Idani took silver and bronze medals.

    Sponsor of Federation and this championship is MCI (Mobile Telecommunication Company).

    Official website


    African Individual Chess Championships 2017, African Rapid and Blitz Championships took place in Oran, Algeria from 1st till 13th of July 2017

    45 players (and 18 players) among which the best African players, including a member of the top 100 the Egyptian GM Bassem Amin (Elo 2684) and Ahmed Adly, ex-junior world champion Elo on 2598. All the participants representing 8 countries (Algeria, Egypt, Zambia, Angola, Tunisia, Republic Centers African, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast) greeted the perfect organization and the good conditions of play in the international hotel "Assala" situated in the city center.

    African Individual Chess Championships 2017

    GM Amin Bassem from Egypt won the African Individual Championship. Daniel Cawdery from South Africa shared the first place but came second on the tie-break. Adly Ahmed from Egypt finished on the third place. 3 Egyptian players occupied the stage in women's section: WGM Mona Khaled won the championship, while Wafa Shrook and Wafa Shahenda took silver and bronze medals.

    Amin Bassem

    Rapid Championships: Amin Bassem (Egypt) won another golden medal, Adly Ahmed (Egypt) came second and Hesham Abdelrahman (Egypt) was third.

    Amin Bassem 2

    Wafa Shahenda (Egypt) was the best one in blitz, Esperance Caxita (Angola) and Amina Mezioud (Algeria) came third.

    Blitz championships:
    Adly Ahmed (Egypt) won blitz championship, Mohamed Haddouche (Algeria) was second and Phiri Richmond from Zambia was third.
    Wafa Shrook (Egypt) was the strongest in blitz. Amina Mezioud (Algeria) took the silver medal, while Mona Khaled (Egypt) came third.


    Commonwealth Chess Championship 2017 took place in New Delhi, India from 2nd till 10th of July 2017.

    Commonwealth Chess Championship 2017 2

    Grandmaster and former world junior champion Abhijeet Gupta (india) came up with an inspired performance in the final round to crush Aleksander Wohl of Australia and annexed the gold medal in the Commonwealth Chess Championship 2017. GM Vaibhav Suri (India) won the silver while the bronze medal went to GM Tejas Bakre (India). WGM Swati Ghate (India) became the Women Champion.

    Commonwealth Chess Championship 2017 3

    Players from 15 countries including some from South Africa and Kenya have registered for the nine-day long events. The championship had over 550 registered players in various categories spanning from under-8 till open. There were 16 Grandmasters and 13 International Masters in the fray apart from five more Woman Grandmasters.

    Official website


    Asian Schools Chess Championship 2017 and Asian Schools Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships were held in Panjin Lianoing, China from 20th till 30th of July 2017.

    Chinese Chess Association under the auspices of the Asian Chess Federation and World Chess Federation, organized the event in high-standard playing hall and hotel, earning unanimous acclaims from more than 700 participants from 23 countries and regions in Asia.

    Asian Schools Chess Championship 2017 3

    China won 10 gold medals, Uzbekistan won 8 gold medals and Philippines won 7 gold medals.

    U7
    Yuruultei Batbaatar MGL
    Nurgaliyev Sauat KAZ
    Kiaan Agrawal IND

    U7 Girls
    Tselmuun Dorjsuren MGL
    Ruzimatova Afruzabonu UZB
    Zhumagali Raian KAZ

    U9
    Xie Kaifan CHN
    Chen Muye CHN
    Huang Yishi CHN

    U9 Girls
    Chen Yining CHN
    Dela Cruz Daren PHI
    Azzaya Amarbat MGL

    U11
    Wei Yaqing CHN
    Rakhmatullaev Almas UZB
    Zhou Xiangru CHN

    U11 Girls
    Omonova Umida UZB
    Kriti Mayur Patel IND
    Withanarachchi W A Vinoli One SRI

    U13
    Peng Shunkai CHN
    Wang Zideng CHN
    Arfan Aditya Bagus INA

    U13 Girls
    Cai Boheng CHN
    Khegay Yuliya UZB
    Liuviann Cecilia Natalie INA

    U15
    Nanayakkara J A K Saranath SRI
    Lin Yi CHN
    Tan Jun Ying MAS

    U15 Girls
    Rasyid Nur Aini INA
    Mordido Kylen Joy PHI
    Saparova Sitora UZB

    U17
    Pangilinan Stephen Rome PHI
    Sagita Catur Adi INA
    Min Po-Yen TRE

    U17 Girls
    Doroy Allaney Jia G PHI
    Edithso Samantha INA
    Men JiaYi CHN

    All results


              September 11 Remembrance        
    Five years! I just read that more Americans have died in Iraq than were killed on 9/11. RIP all those who have died, ever.
              HRC: Homosexual Men Tortured and Killed in Iraq        
    none
              Museums and refugees        
    German museums have put forward an initiative that goes beyond the aspect of mere utility. Indeed, museum visits are organized, on an ongoing basis, for refugees who have just arrived, after a terrible exodus, from the Middle East, to see treasures from these newcomers’ countries of origin. Hence, visits for Syrian and Iraqi are organized by the Pergamon Museum in Berlin to see a collection of extraordinary pieces brought back from Asia Minor by German archaeologists at the end of the 19th century: monumental buildings,...

    Lire la suite de Museums and refugees
              U.N. Warns of New Wave of Displaced Iraqis as Fight Against ISIS Continues        
    As Iraqi security forces begin operations to drive Islamic State forces from their last remaining strongholds, hundreds of thousands of civilians are likely to flee.
              In Blackwater Case, Court Rejects a Murder Conviction and Voids 3 Sentences        
    A federal appeals court tossed out sentences and a verdict stemming from a shooting in Baghdad in 2007 that left 31 Iraqi civilians dead or wounded.
              The Afternoon Sound Alternative 08-08-2017         
    Playlist:

    Madeleine Peyroux Donny McCaslin Ben Monder Craig Taborn Eric Harland Larry Grenadier- Meet Charlie Parker Chans Overture - The Passion Of Charlie Parker
    Charlie Parker- Embraceable You - The Complete Savoy Dial Master Takes
    Townes Van Zandt- Mr Mudd And Mr Gold - High Low And In Between
    Ani DiFranco- Sasquatch - Binary
    Julia Holter- Vasquez - In The Same Room
    Ride- Cali - Weather Diaries
    Syd Barrett- Octopus - The Madcap Laughs
    The Magnetic Fields- 92 Weird Diseases - 50 Song Memoir
    The Velvet Underground- Ocean - The Complete Matrix Tapes
    The Fall- An Older Lover Etc - Slates
    Spiritualized- The Twelve Steps - Let It Come Down
    Townes Van Zandt- Waitin Around To Die - For The Sake Of The Song
    Various Artists- Shirley Johnson As The Years Go Passing By - Woman Of Blue Chicago
    Greg Brown- Eugene - The Evening Call
    Rahim Alhaj- Letter 8 Voices To Remember Zainab - Letters From Iraq Oud And String Quintet
    Sister Rosetta Tharpe- Take My Hand Precious Lord - Every Time I Feel The Spirit
    SheDevils- Hey Boy - SheDevils
    Roy Haynes Quartet- Moonray - Out Of The Afternoon
    Various Artists- Gotan Project Epoca - DaNang Surplus IndoChine
    Drifters- Bip Bam - Atlantic Records Story
    The Bothy Band- Do You Love An Apple - 1975
    Pickwick- In Time - LoveJoys
    Timber Timbre- Skin Tone - Sincerely Future Pollution
    MICHEL PETRUCCIANI- Home - SOLO LIVE
    MICHEL PETRUCCIANI- Home - SOLO LIVE


    playlist URL: http://www.afterfm.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/playlist.listing/showInstanceID/20/playlistDate/2017-08-08
              Kongo vs Syrien -Blogg100 - Dag 35        
    Nej, titeln betyder inte att jag vill spela ut två katastrofer mot varandra, på samma sätt som vissa (högerpopulister) spelar ut svaga grupper mot varandra. Funderar Trump verkligen på att invadera Syrien?

    Jag vill bara citera Magda Gad, Expressens journalist i Irak:


    Jag har inte orkat kommentera det här pÃ¥ hela dagen. Jag vet faktiskt inte om jag orkar göra det nu heller. Jag mÃ¥r bara illa. En amerikansk invasion mot Syrien?Verkligen?Efter det som hände i Irak, Libyen och Afghanistan?Irak fick sekteristiskt inbördeskrig och IS. Libyen blev en failed state med 1 000 krigsherrar. Och i Afghanistan dödas fler människor i dag än 2001. De har inte bara talibaner i dag, utan även IS – och de militära interventionerna har försämrat säkerheten i samtliga regioner. LÃ¥t oss övergÃ¥ till en helt annan frÃ¥ga. Om ett helt annat land. Kongo. En svenska mördades nyligen i Kongo. Hennes huvud har inte kommit hem. Bara hennes kropp. Kongo är det största kriget sedan andra världskriget. Ett krig med över sex miljoner döda och över tvÃ¥ miljoner vÃ¥ldtagna och det bara fortsätter. Kvinnor och barn vÃ¥ldtas med knivar, automatkarbiner körs in i deras vaginor och skjuts av. Efter vÃ¥ldtäkterna tvingas de sitta pÃ¥ glödande kol. Eller sÃ¥ fÃ¥r de upphettade plastflaskor fastsmälta i huden, eller i underliven. Ibland huggs deras barn ihjäl med machetes framför deras ögon samtidigt som de gruppvÃ¥ldtas. En kvinna vÃ¥ldtogs med sin mans avhuggna huvud liggandes pÃ¥ hennes bröst. Ã…terstÃ¥r dÃ¥ min frÃ¥ga:Har USA nÃ¥gonsin funderat pÃ¥ att invadera Kongo?

    Och jag kan bara tillägga med ett citat av Edward W Said, av många kallas postkolonialismens (alltså: postkolonialistisk teori) fader:

    Even with its terrible failings and its appaling dictator (who was partly created by US policy two decades ago) were Iraq to have been the world´s largest exporter of bananas or oranges, surely there would have been no war, no hysteria over mysteriously vanished weapons of mass destruction, no transporting of an enormous army, navy and air force 7000 miles away to destroy a country scarcely known even to the educated American, all in the name of "freedom". (ur förordet, skrivet 2003 till klassiska Orientalism från 1978, s. XV)

    I rest my case.
              The Afternoon Sound Alternative 05-17-2017 with Yukari        
    Playlist:

    Eguana- We Turn Into Water - We Turn Into Water feat Chronos Lab S Cloud Sir Cond
    Graham Nash James Raymond- Almost Gone - Hugs For Chelsea
    Jane Siberry- Calling All Angels - When I Was A Boy
    Milla- Ruby Lane - Divine Comedy
    Lynn Patrick- Mysteriously Drawn - On The Wind
    Beach House- Elegy To The Void - Thank Your Lucky Stars
    Balligomingo- Purify - Purify Remixes
    The Jesus And Mary Chain- War On Peace - Damage And Joy
    The Courtneys- Silver Velvet - The Courtneys II
    Juana Molina- Los Pies Helados - Halo
    Glacier Face- 31 Days Oh Well - I Believe You
    Mono- Ashes In The Snow - Hymn To The Immortal Wind
    Cemeteries- Luna Moon Of Claiming - Barrow
    Moon Duo- White Rose - Occult Architecture Vol 1
    - voicebreak -
    Rahim Alhaj- Letter 6 Unspoken Word Laila - Letters From Iraq Oud And String Quintet
    Emel Mathlouthi- Layem - Ensen
    Quetzal- Espejos Vs The Gaze - The Eternal Getdown
    - voicebreak -
    Prem Joshua- Bolo Hari - Buddha Caf
    Eletrique Zamba- Olhos De Fogo - Vol 1
    Staff Benda Bilili- Osali Mabe - Osali Mabe Single
    Willie Nelson- Little House On The Hill - Gods Problem Child
    - voicebreak -
    Steve Kilbey Martin Kennedy- Transformation - Every Song From The Real World The Complete Collection
    Tindersticks- How He Entered - The Waiting Room
    Gil ScottHeron- Me And The Devil - Im New Here Bonus Track Version
    Tracy Chapman- Happy - Let It Rain
    Hlos- Dust - Full Circle
    Enigma- Gravity Of Love - Love Sensuality Devotion The Greatest Hits
    Justice- Safe And Sound - Woman


    playlist URL: http://www.afterfm.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/playlist.listing/showInstanceID/35/playlistDate/2017-05-17
              A shooter has been shot dead by German police in the wake of opening discharge at a dance club        
    One individual was killed and three genuinely harmed in the assault at around 04:30 (02:30 GMT) on Sunday. The shooter focused on the Gray club in a mechanical piece of the city, on Max-Stromeyer-Strasse. Police have discounted a fear monger thought process. A representative told N-TV that the shooter was a 34-year-old Iraqi resident, yet not a shelter searcher. He is accepted to have lived in Germany for quite a while. Many revelers are thought to have been at the club. Police said they either fled outside in fear, or discovered spots to cover up as the shooting unfurled. A
              Sierra Leone: labourers bound for Iraq        
    none
              6 stories the media isn’t writing about the election        
    View image | gettyimages.com Bombs, bread or blind-eyes? Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen… there’s a long list of countries where international military intervention is likely to continue during the 2015 Parliament, even without factoring in the likely impact of events, dear boy, events in adding yet more countries to the list. So how are the […]
              Matter Of Marriage Card In Hindi        
    Army out of schools


    The # 88 of The Broken Rifle, publication of the International War Resisters' is dedicated to the army's presence in schools in different countries. We present here the editorial. The entire issue is available here:

    http://www.wri-irg.org/system/files/public_files/br88-es.pdf
    Editorial


    Army out of schools: a little- WRI common, but certainly important. As shown in this issue of The Broken Rifle, the militarization of our educational system-whether to indoctrinate young or recruit for the army, is a matter of extreme gravity.

    With this issue, WRI is a continuation of The Broken Rifle No 78 May 2008 on the professionalization of the army. The increased military presence in schools, in states that have no conscription, is an essential tool for recruitment and propaganda, as evidenced by several articles in this issue of The Broken Rifle.

    In the coming years, the "Right to refuse to kill" the WRI will focus more in-recruitment, and resistance to the presence military schools is an important aspect of this work. We are planning a seminar / conference at the European level by 2012, and we hope that the European network of WRI is involved in this initiative.

    Undoubtedly, this is one area in which the European antiwar movement (and others) have much to learn from U.S. experience, where, unfortunately, the antiwar had to fight against the militarization of schools, universities and other public spaces for decades, following the abolition of conscription in 1970. But in other parts of the world exists extensive experience in counter-recruitment activities, and hopefully will be possible to use it to strengthen work-recruitment in Europe (and elsewhere). In Europe there is a clear and urgent need, since the end of conscription, the army has left virtually alone when enlisting soldiers. It is a contradiction to mobilize huge masses of people on anti-war protests against the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. And sit back to the daily activities of the military enlistment. We hope this issue of The Broken Rifle bring some ideas for further action.

    Andreas Speck

              Why Are Civilian Deaths in Iraq and Syria from U.S. Airstrikes Up 60% Under Trump?        
    Today, I have an

              U.S. Airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, Versus Drone Strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia        
    Yesterday, U.S.

              Friday Film: Control Room - April 25th at 7:00 p.m.        



    Egyptian-American filmmaker Jehane Noujaim (Startup.com) directs Control Room, a documentary investigating the ethics of media-managed wars. This film particularly focuses on the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Noujaim and her film crew travel to the headquarters of Al-Jazeera, the media leader in the Arab world, to find out what the news looks like in Iraq. She interviews several journalists and producers involved in war reporting for Al-Jazeera, including senior producer Sameer Khader, journalist Hassan Ibrahim, and producer Deema Khatib. Noujaim also interviews American correspondents David Shuster from NBC and Tom Mintier from CNN. Control Room premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004 as part of the American Spectrum program.


    Boston Society of Film Critics
    2004 Best Documentary

    Broadcast Film Critics Association
    2004 Best Documentary

    Directors Guild of America
    2004 Best Documentary Jehane Noujaim

    Independent Spirit Award
    2004 Truer Than Fiction Award Jehane Noujaim

    Writers Guild of America
    2004 Best Documentary
              Political news and nuggets: 10-9-09        

    from 'round the sphere...

    Democracy, shlemocracy...

    Newt Gingrich points
    out the undemocratic way the health care reform bill is being put
    together...as in by just a few senators and their staff members.

    Think about it: All of the power of the United States Senate to
    transform one-sixth of our economy will be in the hands of three men
    and their aides. It's government by staff, aided by lobbyists, for the
    benefit of bureaucrats.

    No wonder so many Democrats in Congress are so dead set against having
    members read - and more importantly, allowing the American people to
    read - bills before they vote on them. ...

    Just 5 more days for that Specter refund

    The Washington Examiner
    notes that October 15th is the last day you can get a refund from Arlen
    Specter if you happened to give him a campaign contribution before he
    jumped ship and became a Democrat.  The Club for Growth has made the
    generous effort of contacting all such Specter donors by mail (over 6,000 of them) and providing them with a form they can fill out and tell Specter they want their money back.

    We're sure Specter appreciates their kind assistance.

    Could Obamacare be repealed?

    That's the question Stephen Spruiell is asking over at National Review Online.  He
    points out that many of the "reforms" being considered under various
    versions of health care reform have been tried at the state level in
    places such as Kentucky and Vermont...and all with disastrous
    consequences.  As in driving the costs of individual insurance through
    the roof and causing the majority of insurers to leave those state
    markets.  He then points out that a few states that made such mistakes,
    (like Kentucky and Washington), have since repealed those "reforms". 
    The question becomes, if it passes at the national level, could it be
    repealed?

    Time for Obama to make a decision on Afghanistan

    Charles Krauthammer points out that Obama's dithering over whether to accept General McChrystal's report and go with a surge of 40,000 troops in Afghanistan just underlines the cynical nature of the Democrat's mantra of condemning the war in Iraq and lauding the war in Afghanistan as the "good war".

    ...championing victory in Afghanistan was a contrived and disingenuous
    policy in which Democrats never seriously believed, a convenient
    two-by-four with which to bash George Bush over Iraq -- while still
    appearing warlike enough to fend off the soft-on-defense stereotype.
        
    Brilliantly
    crafted and perfectly cynical, the "Iraq War bad, Afghan War good"
    posture worked. Democrats first won Congress, then the White House. But
    now, unfortunately, they must govern. No more games. No more pretense.
        
    So
    what does their commander in chief do now with the war he once declared
    had to be won but had been almost criminally under-resourced by Bush? ...

    Less than two months ago -- Aug. 17 in front of an audience of veterans
    -- the president declared Afghanistan to be "a war of necessity." Does
    anything he says remain operative beyond the fading of the audience
    applause?

    Right now the answer doesn't look promising.


              By: Amy        
    I have been to this site a few times and I really enjoy the articles on it. I am a Hillary supporter who will vote McCain in the fall unless a miracle happens and she is on the ticket. Regarding the last statement by pmist - I personally believe that a Hillary supporter who votes for McCain this fall is not crazy or confused (of course I am biased because that describes me). McCain, like many democrats, wants to focus on energy independence from Arab nations and wants to budget for research towards environmentally friendly energy. His quote about staying in Iraq 100 years was completely taken out of context, and if you have not seen the exact full quote - please look it up. He is a person who hates war and wants to minimize the time our troops are in danger there. I can go on and on. The question is - (a) who best represents your most important values and (b) who is the best person to get things done. Obama may be the right person for a large percentage of Democrats. But I can also understand how many can see John McCain as being the best choice of the two who remain. For me - my answer is still Hillary. But if I can't have her, my choice is down to one person who has demonstrated that he can get things done and take a stand on difficult issues ... and that is John McCain.
              Syrian refugee regional plan remains 91% underfunded: UN        

    Geneva: Two UN organisations on Tuesday warned of low funding for their ongoing support operations for Syrian refugees.

    A statement released by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Geneva said of a $4.63 billion pledge made in January, only $433 million or nine per cent funding has so far been achieved, Efe news reported.

    "The situation is getting desperate," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees in a statement. "we are already seeing children who aren`t able to go to school, families who cannot access adequate shelter or provide for their basic needs."

    The statement coincided with a gathering of world players in Brussels for the Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region.

    As the Syrian conflict entered its seventh year, there were over five million Syrian refugees living in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, in addition to those who have made the dangerous journey to Europe and farther.

    The statement said that overall, some 13.5 million people were in need of assistance, including 6.3 million within Syria itself.

    The UN statement said that "without additional funding, all areas of assistance will be curtailed this year. Food and cash assistance will be reduced or cut by mid-year, challenging stability and security in the region."

    The note also warned that with most Syrian refugees falling below national poverty lines, families would face the impossible choice of taking their children out of school, adding to the half a million children already missing out on education.

    The international conference slated for Tuesday and Wednesday in Brussels is co-presided by the European Union, the UN, Germany, Kuwait, Norway, Qatar and the UK.

    Section: 
    Yes
    News Source: 
    Facebook Instant Article: 
    No

              India slips one position in Human Development Index rank to 131, Norway No.1        

    New York: India came down by one slot and was ranked 131st among 188 countries on Human Development Index (HDI) 2016 released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

    India fell under the "medium human development category" and its HDI, at 0.624, was behind Sri Lanka and the Maldives in South Asia.

    Sri Lanka and the Maldives were ranked 73 and 105 respectively and figure in the "high human development" section.

    India was placed behind countries like Gabon (109), Egypt (111), Indonesia (113), South Africa (119) and Iraq (121) among others. The report lists a total of 188 countries.

    China occupies the 90th spot. Bhutan is at 132, Bangladesh 139, Nepal 144 and Pakistan is at 147.

    Devised and launched in 1990, HDI is a statistic which ranks countries into four tiers of human development on the basis of indicators like life expectancy, education and per capita income.

    A higher lifespan, higher level of education and higher GDP per capita results in a country scoring higher HDI.

    The top three countries in HDI were Norway (0.949), Australia (0.939) and Switzerland (0.939).

    "Identifying those who have been left out of the progress in human development and mapping their locations are essential for useful advocacy and effective policymaking," according to the report.

    "Such mapping can help development activists demand action and guide policymakers in formulating and implementing policies to improve the well-being of marginalised and vulnerable people," it added.

    The report said gender equality and women`s empowerment were fundamental dimensions of human development.

    However, globally, women have a lower HDI than men, despite having higher life expectancy at birth, said the report.

    South Asia`s Gender Development Index (GDI) is the lowest.

    Section: 
    News Source: 
    Home Title: 

    India slips one position in Human Development Index rank to 131, Norway No.1

    India slips one position in Human Development Index rank to 131, Norway No.1
    Yes
    Facebook Instant Article: 
    Yes

              Israeli Embassy In Jordan Attacked        
    Shooting at Israeli embassy in Amman kills at least one person. Also in the programme: Trial of Canadian polygamist who fathered 145 children; and Iraqi Christians in Detroit face deportation. (Photograph shows Jordanian security forces standing outside the Israel embassy in Amman. Credit: European Photopress Agency)
              Free Bradley Manning rally at 16th and Mission        
    Many veterans are out in the streets this afternoon protesting the 2010 arrest and detainment of Bradley Manning, the Army soldier who gave WikiLeaks hundreds of thousands of classified documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The leak brought to light many details and events that embarrassed the military, such as efforts to […]
              Remembering When Dissent Was Patriotic....         
    ...instead of racist.

    And if that meant fantasizing about murdering the president, well...that was patriotic, too.

    It's April, 2003.  Madonna releases "American Life".  And then shoots a video...

    Two music videos were shot for the song, both directed by Swedish director Jonas Åkerlund. The first one featured Madonna at a military-themed fashion show, cavorting with a brigade of female soldiers and in the end, she throws a hand grenade at George W. Bush. Prior its release, it caused controversy regarding its political, racial, violence and religious views, leading Madonna to release a statement explaining its concept.

    After the invasion of Iraq started, Madonna cancelled the release of the original music video, because of the political climate of the country at the time...


    Maybe.  Or maybe Madonna cared more about money than any actual political message she was delivering.  After all, having just witnessed the demise of the Dixie Chicks....

    The video is here.  Around 4:20, Madonna appears to throw the grenade at Bush, who proceeds to catch it in  midair, smirk (of course), and light a cigar - all while seemingly impervious to, and pleased by, the carnage unfolding all around him.

    Try doing that today.  Imagine Obama taking a hit from a Hellfire missile delivered straight from a Predator drone, only to have it turn into a a brand-new Titleist  5-iron. Watch him swing and smile, as innocents die abroad and Americans starve at home!

    Do it, and find yourself in jail faster than you can say "Nakoula Basseley Nakoula".  Assuming the media doesn't lynch you, Zimmerman-style, first.

    A lot has changed in ten years, I'd reckon...


              Wedding Day starring Swank Productions!        
    It’s a really exciting time for Swank right now. We’ve been thinking about it since we filmed in January and now the airing is finally right around the corner! I’m so excited and proud that one of our weddings will be featured on the new reality TV show “Wedding Day” on TNT!
    (Airing Thursday July 2nd & 4th at 8PM! Yey!)

    Mark Burnett is back at it again with his new feel good reality TV show. For those of you not familiar with Wedding Day, it’s the live taping of a “dream wedding” given by their “dream team” (that’s us!) to a deserving couple who get the wedding of their dreams (meaning NO expense was spared!) Think Extreme Makeover: Home Edition… same producer but now they’ve gearing up for wedding season. We had so much fun shooting the episode and now I can’t believe the moment is actually here to share with all of you!

    Our couple is Christina and Shawn from upstate New York who are both captains in the US army stationed in Iraq. They came to Swank in 2006 a couple years after getting engaged with the hopes of getting married back in 2008!... but each time it looked like a date could be set it was derailed by one of them being called to serve their country. After their most recent tour kept them apart for almost 22 months, they got the surprise they never expected! A call-back that their wedding story had won and that they were soon home-bound for a wedding experience of a lifetime.

    Christina was nervous and excited of course. She had won a fantasy wedding but also would get to know absolutely nothing about the planning of it!!! Talk about asking a bride to TRUST HER PLANNER! Lol!
    But, she knew that Swank Productions had put together a team of vendors who were the best of the best and the entire team were all eager and willing to donate all their products and services for this lucky couple…. the goal was a Dream Wedding and we designed with carte blanch in mind!
    Now if that sounds difficult, try doing all of this in 5 days! In the middle of January up in the Hudson Valley! Countless hours and sleepless nights went into putting this special day together for this amazingly deserving couple (actually two days if you count the rehearsal dinner!). We were so fortunate to have found all the right vendors who understood our cause and our vision for this fantasy transformation!
    The end result was a true masterpiece (wait till you see the before and after’s!) and we couldn’t have done it without each and every vendor involved.
    Shhhh…. Wanna know an inside secret? If we were to actually do the exact wedding for a paying client, it would have cost well over $1 million dollars!! Yep we pulled out every stop possible for this couple – and it was so worth it to see that there really is amazing good and generosity left in the world.

    I can’t say much else so you have to check out this amazing episode!

    Here’s a sneak peak preview!
    http://www.darynkagan.com/love/stories/lv_090622_weddingshow.html

    I would love to hear your feedback after the show so send me your thoughts!

    Always spreading swanky event info!
    Until next time!

    XOXO
    ~Maya


    Swank Productions event planning and design main site: http://www.swankproductions.com/Where you’ll find a ton more photos and learn more about us!
              Richard A. Clarke on National Security        

    Richard A. Clarke served seven presidents in important national security posts from 1973 to 2003. His new book, Your Government Failed You: Breaking the Cycle of National Security Disasters, (1) is two things, an expansion of his earlier criticisms of President George W. Bush's track record in national security and a wide-ranging evaluation of the current state of national security.

    Clarke focuses much of his attention on the current war in Iraq. His position is that the war was a mistake from the start, a fool's errand in his words, (2) which provided a recruiting windfall for al Qaeda. Beyond this, he faults both the White House and the Pentagon for poor planning and execution. Specifically he charges that:

    • They sent too few troops.
    • Despite warnings by the CIA and the State Department, they failed to anticipate the insurgency, an unforgivable oversight after the debacle of Vietnam.
    • They failed to equip many of our troops adequately.
    • They filled key positions in the interim government with inexperienced Americans.
    • They used torture in violation of domestic and international law, a tactic that undercut America's moral standing around the world.
    • They failed to provide adequate medical treatment to tens of thousands wounded soldiers when they were sent home for treatment.
    • And, they developed no exit strategy. (3)

    Iraq aside, Clarke alleges that the overall security apparatus in the nation today is dysfunctional. (4) On the topic of terrorism, for instance, he cites extensive evidence to show that most of the same vulnerabilities that existed on 9/11 exist today. A major cause of this, Clarke argues, is that we have sixteen distinct federal intelligence agencies which collectively spend $50 billion a year. There is little coordination among these fiefdoms, he says, and they frequently duplicate efforts. Perhaps the most dramatic example of the lack of coordination which he cites is the fact that the CIA knew that two known al Qaeda terrorists were in the United States eighteen months prior to 9/11 but it failed to pass along this information to other intelligence agencies. (5) Clarke reminds us that the most sensible solution to this problem, the appointment of a strong intelligence czar to oversee all intelligence agencies, which the 9/11 Commission recommended, was blocked by Donald Rumsfeld when he was Secretary of Defense. (6)

    Does the relatively new Department of Homeland Security offer us any hope? In a word, according to Clarke, no. It is an organizational nightmare, placing twenty-two agencies with fundamentally different missions under one umbrella; it excludes key intelligence agencies such as the FBI and the CIA; it is under-funded; and it has become the prime target of the Beltway Bandits, the private defense and security companies surrounding Washington. (7) Clarke is not alone in this appraisal. The Government Accountability Office issued a virtually identical one in a report in 2007. (8)

    Clarke's book, while depressing, deserves serious attention by all of us. To ignore the informed views of one of the most experienced and respected veterans of national intelligence service would be a disservice to ourselves, our children, and our children's children. (9)


    1. RAC Enterprises, 2008
    2. Page 188.
    3. Clarke also offers a critique of the planning and execution of the war in Afghanistan in several parts of the book which includes some of these same points. For instance, see page 51, pages 175-176, and page 199.
    4. Page 137.
    5. Pages 164-165.
    6. Pages 138-140.
    7. See pages 210-235.
    8. Page 225.
    9. While Clarke does not minimize the ongoing dangers of terrorism, he argues that the most serious threat to national security is climate change. See page 263 and pages 272-273.

    © 2009 Tom Shipka


              Suicide Terrorism        

    Suicide terrorism in today's world began with an attack by Hezbollah against the U.S. marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983. That attack drove Israel, France, and the United States out of Lebanon and convinced many groups, including the PLO, Islamic Jihad, al-Qaeda, and the Tamil Tigers, among others, that suicide missions can be an effective tool to achieve their goals. (1) As suicide attacks proliferated, millions puzzled over what prompts a person to become a suicide terrorist. The popular speculations are that they are religious extremists, victims of poverty, impressionable youth, mentally ill, poorly educated, or low-achievers. (2) Based on a study of more than four-hundred suicide terrorists from 1980 to 2003 by Robert A. Pape and his associates from the University of Chicago, which is entitled Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, we know now that all of these explanations are mistaken. Here are some of the study's findings:

    Firstly, the role of religion as a motivation to suicide terrorism is exaggerated. Fifty-seven percent of suicide attacks around the world during the period studied were perpetrated by seculars. For instance, in Lebanon, thirty of thirty-eight known suicide terrorists "were affiliated with groups opposed to Islamic fundamentalism." (3) Further, very few of those suicide attackers who were religious were inspired to violence by their religious beliefs. (4)

    Secondly, most suicide terrorists are not impressionable adolescents. Only thirteen percent of suicide terrorists were between the ages of fifteen to eighteen. Fifty-five percent were between the ages of nineteen to twenty-three and the remaining thirty-two percent were age twenty-four or older. (5)

    Thirdly, suicide terrorists as a group possess a favorable socioeconomic status.They score far better on educational attainment and income than the overall populations in their countries. (6)

    And fourthly, "The main purpose of suicide terrorism is to use the threat ofpunishment to compel a target government to change policy, and most especially to cause democratic states to withdraw their forces from land the terrorists perceive as their national homeland." (7) These patriotic sentiments are typically shared across the local population and explain popular support for suicide terrorism. (8)

    Based on these findings, Professor Pape issues recommendations as to how the United States can defeat suicide terrorism. His principal one is that the U.S. needs to withdraw its troops from majority Muslim nations and give up any hope of transforming them. (9) As it does this, the U.S. should "work with Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and other Persian Gulf states to ensure that they maintain the critical infrastructure for a rapid return of U.S. forces should that prove necessary" (10) and it should cultivate "the friendliest possible relations" with Iran. (11) Following this policy, Pape predicts, will "suck the oxygen out of the atmosphere that breeds anti-American suicide terrorism." (12)

    Pape and his associates deserve credit for producing a fact-based study which demythologizes suicide terrorism and provides wise counsel to political leaders. I hope that the White House and the Pentagon are paying attention.


     

    1. Robert A. Pape, Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, Random House, 2005, pp. 73-74.
    2. Dying to Win, p. 200.
    3. Dying to Win, p. 205.
    4. Dying to Win, p 210.
    5. Dying to Win, p. 207.
    6. Dying to Win, pp. 212-213. The research team says "The bottom line, then, is that suicide attackers are not mainly poor, uneducated, immature religious zealots or social losers. Instead, suicide attackers are normally well-educated workers from both religious and secular backgrounds. Especially given their education, they resemble the kind of politically conscious individuals who might join a grassroots movement more than they do wayward adolescents or religious fanatics." (p. 216)
    7. Dying to Win, p. 27. The study repeats this finding in many places. See p. 38, p.108, p.126, and p. 237.
    8. Dying to Win, pp. 48-49.
    9. Dying to Win, p. 241.
    10. Dying to Win, p. 247.
    11. Dying to Win, p. 248.
    12. Dying to Win, p. 249.

    © 2009 Tom Shipka


              Are American Voters Stupid?        

    Consider the following facts about the American people:

    • Only two out of five of us can identify the three branches of government;
    • Less than half of us know which nation dropped the atomic bomb;
    • Only one-third of us know that the Congress, not the President, declares war;
    • Only 30% of us know that members of the House of Representatives serve two-year terms and only 25% of us know that Senators serve six-year terms;
    • Most Americans continue to believe that the 9/11 terrorists came from poverty or were neglected as children despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary;
    • A generation ago presidential speeches were pitched at the level of twelfth graders. Today they are pitched at the level of seventh graders;
    • Even after the 9/11 Commission had stated publicly that Saddam Hussein had provided no support to Al Qaeda, a poll showed that half the population still insisted that he had; and
    • Only 25% of us can name more than one of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment but more than 50% of us can name two members of the Simpson family. (1)     These revelations, and many others, come from Rick Shenkman, an Emmy Award-winning reporter and historian, in his new book entitled Just How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth About the American Voter. (2) The vaunted wisdom of the American people, Shenkman says, is a myth. When it comes to government and politics, we are ignoramuses - ill-informed, apathetic, and easily manipulated. (3)

    Shenkman says that while there was never a Golden Age in which the American electorate had extensive knowledge about our government and how it functions, the past sixty years has seen a persistent dumbing down of voters. Studies show that today "young Americans know far less about politics than their counterparts did a generation ago, even though they spend more time in school." (4) Ours has become a culture of entertainment and consumption dominated by television. (5) The invasion of the home by television brought superficiality, sound bites, slogans, and inane ads. By 1963 TV had supplanted newspapers as the primary source of news. (6) Newspapers had provided detail, subtlety, and nuance which were lost in TV news. With TV, images trump facts (7), politicians are "brands" to be marketed (8), and how people look and talk count for more than their knowledge, accomplishments, or problem-solving skills. (9) As time passed fewer and fewer Americans read about, talked about, and cared about public affairs. (10)

    What does Shenkman propose to do to change all this? The most important change we need in America, he says, is to reintroduce civics as a mandatory subject in grade school, high school, and college. (11) The reading of newspapers and other news sources must be a part of this. (12) When proficiency tests are given, they must test for knowledge of government as well as knowledge of math and science. (13) All first year college students should be given weekly current events tests and those who pass with flying colors should receive federal tuition subsidies. (14) Finally, outside our schools and colleges we need "democracy parties," social gatherings where issues are discussed in depth. (15)

    Shenkman says he is trying to be "the Paul Revere of American civics." (16) I, for one, hope that he succeeds.


     

    1. The five freedoms granted by the First Amendment are speech, religion, press, assembly, and petition for redress of grievances. The Simpson family members are Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. The facts listed here are given in Rick Shenkman, Just How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth About the American Voter, Basic Books, 2008. See pages 20, 20, 24, 19-20, 136, 17, 4, and 13 respectively. Other facts reported by Shenkman include these. Only half the population knows that President George W. Bush favors privatizing social security (p. 35). In 2006 36% of the population believed that the U.S. Government was complicit in the 9/11 terrorist attack despite the fact that there was no evidence to support such a view (p. 130). On the eve of the invasion of Iraq, only one in seven Americans could find Iraq on the map (p. 14). Most Americans cannot name their Congressional representative or their two U.S. Senators (p. 24).
    2. Basic Books, 2008. Other books by Shenkman include Legends, Lies, and Cherished Myths and Presidential Ambition. You can learn more about him on his blog entitled How Stupid? See http://howstupidblog.com. A good recent interview of Shenkman by Robin Lindley, a Seattle journalist, is at http://hnn.us/blogs/entries/55966.html.
    3. Page 168.
    4. Pages 117-118. See also p. 111.
    5. Page 181.
    6. Page 103. Today only one out of five Americans in the 18 to 34 age group read any part of a newspaper regularly. (p. 26)
    7. Page 110.
    8. Page 121.
    9. Page 102.
    10. Schenkman says that today "The People" find politics "boring," that they are "ignorant and irrational about public affairs," and that their opinions about politics are "usually muddled." (p. 76)
    11. Page 177-178. Shenkman proposes that a non-partisan commission draw up national civics tests. (p. 180)
    12. Page 179.
    13. Page 178.
    14. Page 179. The federal law setting up this fund, he says, can be called The Too Many Stupid Voters Act. (p. 179)
    15. Page 180.
    16. See the interview by Robin Lindley referred to above in footnote 2.

    © 2008 Tom Shipka


              New Atheists        

    In a book published in 2006, journalist and author Chris Hedges pilloried religious fundamentalists in America, charging them with corrupting Christianity, undermining the Constitution, and promoting American imperialism. (1). In his most recent book, I Don't Believe in Atheists, (2) Hedges shifts to the opposite side of the ideological spectrum to critique a group which he calls the "new atheists" and which he considers secular fundamentalists. According to Hedges, the new atheists, among them Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennett, are as "intolerant, chauvinistic and bigoted" as the Christian theocrats. (3) And what have these popular critics of religion said that Mr. Hedges finds so disturbing?

    The new atheists, Hedges charges, are prisoners to the myth of progress. (4) They see the flow of history through rose-colored glasses, expecting the march of reason and science to unlock all mysteries, solve all problems, and usher in a post-religious global paradise bereft of gods and miracles. They ignore the fact that science is a tool for good and evil and that the selfish, aggressive and destructive side of human nature is here to stay. Based on the historical record, Hedges insists, it is folly for the new atheists to believe in moral progress. In the Twentieth Century, for instance, with ever-more sophisticated weapons made possible by science, humans butchered 130 million other humans and maimed many millions more in various conflicts. (5).

    Hedges sees other problems among the new atheists beyond their naïve optimism. "They misuse the teachings of Charles Darwin and evolutionary biology," he writes, "just as the Christian fundamentalists misuse the Bible." (6) They demonize the one billion plus Muslims in the world when only "a tiny subset (of them) are criminals and terrorists." (7) Their knowledge of the Bible and the Koran is "shallow and haphazard" and they "are blind to the underlying human truth and reality expressed through religious myth." (8) In their self-appointed roles as "the saviors of civilization," (9) they exhibit an arrogance and superiority that belies their human fallibility. (10) They fail to understand that religion is indispensable to ethics. (11) And, finally, like their religious counterparts, the new atheists hold up the United States as "the paragon of human possibility and goodness" despite the fact that it is, in his judgment, a nation in decline. (12)

    In his book, I believe, Chris Hedges aims to remind seculars that they, too, are human, and to a considerable extent, he succeeds. Yet the book is not without its flaws. In the first place, the author's knowledge of atheism is limited. Most of his criticisms of the handful of new atheists he has studied don't apply to many of the most distinguished old ones, John Dewey, Sidney Hook, and Paul Kurtz among them, none of whom gets even a mention in the book. Next, his view of religion as the foundation of morality has been challenged by legions of philosophers, I believe successfully, since the time of the ancient Greeks. And, finally, he overlooks the fact that there has been moral progress, witness the abolition of slavery and the liberation of women in America and elsewhere.


     

    1. American Fascists: the Christian Right and the War on America, Free Press, 2006.
    2. Free Press, 2008.
    3. I Don't Believe in Atheists, p. 1. (All subsequent references are to this book.)
    4. Page 95.
    5. Page 114.
    6. Page 6.
    7. Page 16.
    8. Page 34.
    9. Page 39.
    10. Page 111.
    11. Page 92.
    12. Page 129. On this subject he writes: "The failed imperialist project in Iraq, along with the maintenance of a costly military machine and the arms industry that feeds off the American state, has likewise begun to take its toll. The United States is dependent on other countries, particularly those in the Middle East, for its natural resources. It is hostage to foreign states, which control the country's mounting debt. Its infrastructure is crumbling, its social services are in decline, and its educational system is in shambles. It is rotting from the inside out. And in the midst of this decline, our secular and religious fundamentalists hold our society up as the paragon of human possibility and goodness." (p. 129)

    © 2008 Tom Shipka


              Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)        

    In 2006 Oprah Winfrey endorsed a book by James Frey which was purported to be a memoir of his drug addiction and recovery. It was entitled A Million Little Pieces. Oprah's endorsement made the book an instant best-seller. As time passed an investigative website called "The Smoking Gun" and a journalist named Richard Cohen showed that Frey's story was fabricated. Initially Oprah reasserted her support for Frey. (1) The fact is that Oprah had been duped but she was intent on justifying her original decision and her credibility despite the facts. Remarkably, though, she made a 180 degree turnabout, publicly declared that Frey was a liar, apologized to the journalist, and chastised Frey in front of a national TV audience. (2)

    Do most of us show the courage and candor which Oprah showed? No, say Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson, psychologists and co-authors of a book entitled Mistakes Were Made (but not by me). Their book draws from hundreds of research studies of how people deal with their mistakes. It shows that most of us, to maintain our confidence and self-esteem, routinely fail to admit our mistakes and reject information that questions our beliefs, decisions, or preferences. We thrive on self-justification at the expense of the truth.
    Early in the book, Tavris and Aronson cite a well-known recent example of a failure to admit mistakes. (3) The Bush administration sold the invasion of Iraq to the nation and the Congress on two principal claims, that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and that he aided and abetted international terrorism. Both proved to be groundless. Not only did the White House fail to acknowledge this, but it shifted to new justifications for the invasion. (4) President Bush continues to assert his confidence in the wisdom of his decisions about Iraq to this day.

    Tavris and Aronson show how bias, distortion of the past, and self-justification infiltrate all of our relationships, personal and professional. One of the most illuminating chapters is on marriage. It should be mandatory reading for all couples planning to start or end a marriage. The authors point out that stable, lasting marriages are only possible when a person is able "to put empathy for the partner ahead of defending their own territory" and able "to listen to the partner's criticisms, concerns, and suggestions undefensively." (5) Tavris and Aronson marshal persuasive evidence that successful marriages have "a ratio of five times as many positive interactions (such as expressions of love, affection and humor) to negative ones (such as expressions of annoyance and complaints)." (6) Once the "magic ratio" dips below 5 to 1, the marriage is in trouble. (7)

    As one reads this book, one wonders if people can let go of self-justification and admit mistakes? The authors insist that we can and they furnish impressive examples of public figures who have done so. They tell us that the first steps to success are being aware of the tendency to self-justify (8) and reminding ourselves regularly that we are fallible. (9)


     

    1. Oprah said, "The underlying message of redemption in James Frey's memoir still resonates with me..." and she blamed any problems on the publisher. See Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson, Mistakes Were Made (but not by me), Harcourt Books, 2007, p. 214. All references are to this book.
    2. Page 215.
    3. Pages 18-19.
    4. The new justifications included "getting rid of a 'very bad guy,' fighting terrorists, promoting peace in the Middle East, bringing democracy to Iraq, increasing American security, and finishing 'the task (our troops) gave their lives for'." On the claim that the U.S. is in Iraq to fight terrorists, a report issued by sixteen U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that "the occupation of Iraq had actually increased Islamic radicalism and the risk of terrorism." Page 3.
    5. Page 180.
    6. Page 173.
    7. Page 173.
    8. They write: "The need to reduce dissonance is a universal mental mechanism, but that doesn't mean we are doomed to be controlled by it. Human beings may not be eager to change, but we have the ability to change, and the fact that many of our self-protective delusions and blind spots are built into the way the brain works is no justification for not trying... An appreciation of how dissonance works, in ourselves and others, gives us some ways to override our wiring. And protect us from those who can't." (Pages 222-223).
    9. Page 228.

    © 2008 Tom Shipka


              Religion and Morality        

    The popular view among religious people is that religion is indispensable to morality in that religion affirms the existence of a God who has revealed a law to direct humans how to live. (1) There are problems with this position, however, from the perspective of philosophy. Religion relies on faith while philosophy relies on reason. The three central beliefs of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam which have a bearing on morality and which are embraced on faith are that 1) There is a God, 2) God is good and not evil, and 3) God has ordained rules for living which humans can learn. Although some believers past and present have accepted the challenge of philosophy to prove these beliefs by reason, their efforts have fared poorly in the judgment of professional philosophers.
    The third belief - that God has issued a moral law which humans can learn - is particularly intriguing.
    On the one hand, there are strong differences within and among the religious traditions as to where one should look to find this law. Shall we turn to scripture? If so, should we consult the Bible, the Koran, the Talmud, or another holy writing? Shall we turn to a prophet? If so, should we consult the teachings of Moses, Abraham, Jesus, Mohammed, Bahaullah, or another holy person? Or shall we turn to our local pastor or a famous televangelist or to our central church administration or to ourselves?
    On the other hand, within the same religion, it is difficult to find a moral consensus. There are often strong differences over issues such as divorce, plurality of spouses, the status of women, abortion, homosexuality, same sex marriage, birth control, stem cell research, and how to deal with followers of other religions, sects, and the non-religious. On this point consider the gulf between Episcopalians and Baptists in America, and Sunni and Shia in Iraq.
    The fact is that religion is not nearly as important to morality as widely believed. Consider these points:
    Firstly, some of the most perceptive and inspiring discussions of ethics in the past generation have come from seculars such as Paul Kurtz, Kai Nielsen, Peter Singer, and Arthur Kaplan.
    Secondly, largely secular groups, such as scientists, and largely secular societies, such as the Netherlands, are at least as well-behaved as predominately religious groups and societies.
    Thirdly, Utilitarianism (Always seek the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people) and Ethical Egoism (Always seek your own long-term happiness), the major classical teleological or consequence-based moral theories, and Kantianism (Always act on a maxim that you can wish to universalize), the major classical deontological or duty-based moral theory, are all products of reason.
    Fourthly, the Constitution of the United States and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, documents which set out moral frameworks for modern living, make no reference to God or religion except to guarantee freedom to practice religion.
    Fifthly, research by Harvard anthropologist Marc Hauser shows that religious and non-religious people have the same moral intuitions when faced with the same ethical dilemmas. (2)
    Finally, the Golden Rule, the only moral rule which all the world's religions affirm, has been established on entirely rational grounds by Immanuel Kant, arguably the most important writer on ethics in modern history, as what he called the categorical imperative.
    ______
    1. One prominent science, Stephen Jay Gould, also seems to support the view that we should turn to religion to learn how to live. See "Nonoverlapping Magisteria," Natural History 106 (March 1997): 16-22. Here Gould argues that science and religion are not in conflict for their teachings occupy different domains or magisteria. Science tells us how the universe works and religion tells us how to live. Science tells us how the heavens go and religion tells us how to get to heaven.
    2. Marc Hauser, Moral Minds: How Nature Designed our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong. Also, see M. Hauser and P. Singer, "Morality without religion," Free Inquiry 26: 1, 2006, 18-19.

    © Tom Shipka 2007


              Garry Wills, A Country Ruled by Faith        

    It is no surprise that George W. Bush made campaign promises to his political base - evangelicals. But, as a recent article in The New York Review of Books by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Garry Wills shows ("A Country Ruled by Faith," Nov. 16, 2006, pp. 8-12), the ambitious scope of the President's evangelical agenda is surprising.

    The President began by ridding government of as many holdover liberals as possible and replacing them with evangelicals. To implement this plan, he appointed Kay Coles James head of the White House Office of Personnel. (8) James had worked for Pat Robertson and James Dobson, two evangelical major leaguers. (8) Also, the President picked key advisors and cabinet members, among them Condoleeza Rice, Karen Hughes, John Ashcroft, Andrew Card, and Michael Gerson, who shared his religious worldview. (8) Even appointees to the Iraqi Provisional Government came largely from a pool of evangelicals, Wills says. (11)

    Next, President Bush gave evangelical leaders unprecedented access. Either the President or his key staff consulted them routinely on virtually all issues of interest to them.

    Further, the President established the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives to funnel money to them. (8) Grants went to Pat Robertson, Chuck Colson, James Dobson, and many others, including selected African-American clergy, such as Bishop Sedgwick Daniels of Milwaukee.

    The President also carried the evangelical perspective to scientific and social issues. Saying that the jury is still out on evolution, he proposed teaching intelligent design, a version of creationism, alongside science in science classrooms. (10) Also, his administration ignored objections by scientists to the sale of a book at the Grand Canyon "claiming that the Grand Canyon was formed by Noah's Flood," (10) and it scuttled publication of a draft guide for park employees which pointed out that the canyon was not formed in the alleged time period of the Flood. Additionally, to pacify the religious right, Wills says, the Bush administration
    *opposed embryonic stem cell research, in defiance of moderates in his own party,
    *ignored scientific warnings about global warming,
    *spent $170 million on abstinence-only sex education in the public schools while removing from the web site of The Centers for Disease Control the findings of a panel that abstinence-only programs don't work,
    *refused to make the morning-after pill available to women over-the-counter, despite the recommendations of the board of the Food and Drug Administration, *sought a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage,
    *forbad the expenditure of U.S. foreign aid to any organization which distributed condoms or provided information to women about abortion, despite the fact that birth control and abortion remain legal in the U.S., and
    *protected a controversial general who publicly characterized the war on terrorism as a battle of Christians against Satan. (10-11)

    Wills' article shows that he views George W. Bush as a president on a mission to destroy the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Yet Wills overlooks an important fact: the President is not universally loved among evangelicals. Some have protested that he politicized the faith-based initiatives by spending mostly in battleground states to help Republicans and that there remains a huge gap between the billions which Bush promised to evangelicals and the millions which he actually delivered to them. And surely, if exit polls are accurate, many evangelicals deserted him in the recent elections.

    Copyright © 2006 by Tom Shipka


              Liberty or Security - A False Dilemma        

    Many have expressed dismay over the Patriot Act and other laws and practices adopted by the United States since 9/11 to guard against the threat of terrorism. In essence, the critics charge that the U.S. is sacrificing liberty at the altar of security.

    Although I, too, have misgivings about many features of the Patriot Act, not to mention poorly justified, planned, and executed military initiatives in Afghanistan and Iraq, I also believe that the line between prudent security measures and overzealous infringement of liberties is not as clear and distinct as one would hope, especially in a climate where suicidal religious zealots perceive every American death as strengthening their claim on heaven. I also recognize that without security there can be no liberty. Indeed, this is arguably the central insight of two of the greatest political theorists in history - Thomas Hobbes and John Locke - despite the fact that the former espoused the cause of Monarchy and absolute government, while the latter espoused the cause of Parliament and limited government, in 17th century England.

    In his magnum opus, Leviathan, published in 1651, Hobbes tells us that liberty, the power to do as one wishes, is dependent upon security (CH XIV). Humans, he says, as pleasure-seeking, pain-avoiding animals, will seek their own pleasure and advantage, even at the expense of their neighbors, unless there is a recognized law-maker who possesses sufficient power to make laws and to enforce them. Absent this, Hobbes says, "the life of man" is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." (Chapter XIII) Through an explicit or implicit social contract, Hobbes says, we collectively agree to establish and recognize a political sovereign, a leviathan, whose power protects our life, liberty, and possessions.

    Similarly, in his Second Treatise of Government, published some 39 years after Hobbes' Leviathan, John Locke, though seeking to limit the powers of government, recognized, as Hobbes did, the necessity of government to provide security, and the link between security and liberty. Locke argues that in the absence of government, society suffers three serious defects ('wants'): 1) lack of a settled, known, established law; 2) lack of a fair and impartial judge; and 3) lack of the power to impose a proper sentence on a wrongdoer. The purpose of government, which people establish through a social contract, Locke says, is to overcome these defects. So essential is a stable and strong government to rights and liberties, Locke observes, that nearly all humans past and present "take sanctuary under the established laws of government and therein seek the preservation of their property." (Shipka, Minton, Philosophy: Paradox and Discovery, 5/e, p. 393) "Property" is Locke's term for our rights under the moral law to life, liberty, and possessions ("estate").

    Can government err in the quest to secure us from terrorism and other threats to our welfare? Of course it can. Public discussion and debate are important to help us identify and correct these errors. Nevertheless, we should never forget that security is indispensable to liberty and that no one has a foolproof plan for the perfect blend of security and liberty in the dangerous world in which we live today.

    Copyright © 2006 by Tom Shipka


              Combat Injuries and Male Infertility        

    By Steven Waxman, M.D., J.D.

    The wars in Iraq and…

    Continue reading on the Path2Parenthood Blog »


              Want National Security? Dismantle the War Machine        

    Want National Security? Dismantle the War Machine

    A military response to violence creates more violence. For real security, we need to stop climate change and work toward shared prosperity.

    http://www.commondreams.org/views/2016/09/22/want-national-security-dismantle-war-machine

    By: David Korten
    Date: 2016-09-22

    The recent 15th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade towers was a reminder of the terrible consequences when a nation ignores the lessons of history—including its own recent history. The U.S. military budget is a tragic example.

    We currently spend roughly $598 billion on defense, which is more than the next seven biggest military spenders combined: China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United Kingdom, India, France, and Japan. This represents 54 percent of federal discretionary spending. In return, we get an ability to rapidly deploy conventional military power anywhere in the world.

    The 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center was the most devastating foreign-sourced attack on the United States since the War of 1812. It was carried out by a largely self-organized band of 19 religious fanatics of varied nationalities, affiliated with a small, dispersed, and loosely organized international network. We responded by invading and occupying Afghanistan and Iraq. This led to hundreds of thousands of pointless deaths, destabilization of the Middle East, and a cost to the U.S. Treasury of some $4 trillion to $6 trillion.

    I view all this in part through the lens of my experience as an Air Force captain during the Vietnam War. I briefed pilots headed for Vietnam on the psychological consequences of bombing civilian populations. I later served in the Defense Department’s office overseeing defense-related behavioral and social science research.

    "We currently spend roughly $598 billion on defense, which is more than the next seven biggest military spenders combined." (Photo: Daniel Achim / iStock)

    Read more »
              Air Strikes against Syria: Who are the War Criminals? Who is Supporting Al Qaeda? Russia or America?        

    Air Strikes against Syria: Who are the War Criminals? Who is Supporting Al Qaeda? Russia or America?

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/air-strikes-against-syria-who-are-the-war-criminals-who-is-supporting-al-qaeda-russia-or-america/5548799

    By: Prof. Michel Chossudovsky
    Date: 2016-10-07

    America is coming to the rescue of Al Qaeda under a humanitarian mandate. The unspoken agenda is to undermine the Liberation of Aleppo. 

    The pretext and justification for these actions are based on America’s “responsibility to protect” (R2P) the “moderates” in Aleppo from Syrian and Russian attacks and bombing raids.

    On October 3, the US State Department announced the suspension of bilateral relations with Russia pertaining to Syria (see document below), in response to which, France’s foreign Minister Jean Marc Ayrault was called upon to intermediate at the diplomatic level. 

    Pointing his finger at Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Jean Marc Ayrault casually accused Moscow of crimes against humanity, “La France est indignée”  (France is  indignant).  

    In turn, the Western media (including segments of the “Left” alternative media) went into overdrive, accusing Russia of killing innocent civilians, demonizing president Putin;, and more significantly ignoring the devastating impacts of  Obama’s (2014-2016) fake “counterterrorism campaign” implying extensive and routine bombings of both Syria and Iraq over a period of more than two years. 

    Initiated in Summer 2014, Operation Inherent Resolve’s real objective is to “protect the terrorists”. 

    Read more »
              Dorset heroes bearing the torch        
    A BOVINGTON war veteran of three tours of Iraq and three to Bosnia will also carry his country’s flame through Dorset in the Olympic relay this summer.
              The Beast of Baghdad        

    The start of our current “War on Terrorism”, A.K.A. “the aftermath of Gulf War II”, dates back to the Persian Gulf War (Gulf War I).  Why did Iraq invade Kuwait in 1990 in the first place?  Why didn’t we stop them from invading Kuwait?

    Click below for the Netcast…


              The Abraham Lincoln Logs #172        
    itunes pic
    Abe teases out McCain's theory of "free men" and "fri tos" as well as invoking the awesome power of ceiling cat to save the Internet.

    Links


    Stop the spying.

    And put congress on notice! It's a call not a petition but I did it and so can you!

    Obama silent on giving Bush more spying powers.

    WOW - it really *was* about the oil. - At least for the oil barons.

    U.S. hid torture detainees from Red Cross. Not MY U.S. Not YOUR U.S., THEIR U.S.

    NYT aids AP in suing bloggers...


              The Abraham Lincoln Logs #170        
    itunes pic
    Abe gives a shout-out to Kucinich, makes sure Pelosi gets home safely, and uses some terrible, terrible words - but only in quoting McCain...

    Links


    Kucinich impeachment sets groundwork for future Bush war crimes tribunal.

    Can Pelosi take impeachment 'off the table?'

    McCain: 'Bringing troops home not too important.'

    McCain can't Google.

    John McCain and the no good, very bad swears.

    Supreme Court says Gitmo detainees 'people too.'


              The Abraham Lincoln Logs #166        
    Abe finally gets around to talking about celebrities, and hits Hillary up for her idle daydreams of bloody murder...

    Links


    Dead troops remembered by president who had them killed.

    Halliburton charged with selling nuclear secrets to Iran.

    George Bush outed Valerie Plame.

    Obama: Gimme 100 days in office and I'll give you back your constitution.

    Rupert Murdoch says Obama will win.

    We could have colonized Mars with the money we spent on Iraq.

    AssassainGate.


              The Abraham Lincoln Logs #164        
    Abe analyzes what makes something "pure Bush" - that special blend of dis-ingenuity and blunder unsullied by his more eloquent handlers.

    Links


    Did you ever check out NNDB - an amazing tool to find the hidden connections between the wealthy elite in government, Hollywood and corporate America. Neat!

    House Republicans collapse on Iraq... kinda.

    McCain's YouTube problem. A must see...


              The Abraham Lincoln Logs #160        
    Abe celebrates cinco de mayo with warrentless laptop searches and hospital bombings. Also drinking margaritas through a taquito straw...

    Links


    Feds can take your data at the border.

    EFF: Feds can't take my data at the border!

    How to protect your data at the border.

    Crypto those kleptos - how to encrypt your data!

    US air strike on Baghdad hospital

    Tell Me Again Why "Conspiracy Theory" is a Dirty Label


              The Abraham Lincoln Logs #149        
    Abe drinks deeply of the pleasures of moral turpitude and joins the firing squad sniping Hillary's "Sniper Fire."

    Links


    Hillary's campaign-ending lie.

    British author barred entrance from us for 'moral turpitude.'

    I'm in UR quagmire, stealing UR justifications 4 war.

    CIA issued visas to 9/11 hijackers.

    Rachel Kramer Bussel hosts the NYC 'In The Flesh' erotic reading series mentioned in today's podcast. Spanking. Domination. Dandy. A big shout out to Rachel's likely google alert for all of these keywords.


              The Abraham Lincoln Logs #148        
    Abe talks about Bush and Cheney's dog & pony - Obama's speech and McCains gaffe....

    Links


    Can we boycott just the glow-bracelet concessions at the Beijing Olympics?

    Blackwater's Global Ambitions

    Black Guy Asks Nation For Change

    Time magazine invents facts to claim that Americans support Bush's domestic spying abuses.

    DRM trumps "USA."

    McCain doesn't know who Bush is fighting in Iraq

    'War critics can no longer credibly claim we're losing in Iraq...'

    Cheney salutes the troops with his fist

    Seattle bans sale of bottled water.

    Peace Sign turns 50

    McCain loves Lieberman. Lieberman thinks VP still might be do-able.

    Obama's speech on race.


              The Abraham Lincoln Logs #146        
    Abe tells Spitzer "bros before ho's" and asks Fallon if he can have his senior moments in the belly of a tank.

    Links


    Cheney excuse to attack Iran leaked...

    Bush casts his disgust for you into song...

    What do Iraq, Venezuela & Iran have in common?

    Ten reasons to impeach Bush & Cheney...

    One Fallon that doesn't dissapoint.


              The Abraham Lincoln Logs #145        
    Abe brings you up to speed on the presidential dope and announces a sympathy strike with the ILWU who's shutting down the West Coast unless we bring our troops home...

    Links


    Workers Strikes Against the War! ILWU to Shut Down West Coast Ports May 1 Demanding End to War in Iraq, Afghanistan

    Obama wins Wyoming

    Obama wins Texas? OBAMA WINS TEXAS!

    Clinton endorses McCain

    Rove endorses Clinton

    Voting machines tested in secret.

    Bush insists on Waterboarding.

    Wyoming doesn't matter?


              The Abraham Lincoln Logs #124        
    Abe apologizes in advance for some irritating audio clipping near the end of this episode - and wishes to spend time talking about the way, in which, 9/11 could be considered a totally trivial event. AND.... Next week Mary Todd is back to help ring in #125!

    Links


    BLEEPEDEEP 9/11?

    ON THAT SUBJECT....

    JFK Airport Plot Has All The Hallmarks Of Staged Terror

    Do you know this woman?

    ON NEOCONS AS NEONAZI'S....

    Abu Ghraib Torturer Learned Nazi Torture Techniques from Holocaust Memoir

    U.S. Operatives Killed Detainees During Interrogations in Afghanistan and Iraq

    ON THE CRIME OF ASKING QUESTIONS....

    NYPD will arrest you for asking questions.

    Giuliani arrests reporter, with press pass, at press conference - for asking questions.

    ON THE ILLUSION OF OPEN DISCOURSE....

    Bush Surgeon General Nominee: Gay Sex Is Hazardous To Health

    Connie Rice: Top 10 Secrets They Don't Want You to Know About the Debates

    Corporate Media Has Decided The 2008 Election For Us

    Don't listen to what the rich world's leaders say - look at what they do

    ON CRIMINALIZING OUR INTERNET...

    'Dangers of the Internet' Resolution Passed By Senate


              The Abraham Lincoln Logs #65        
    Abe remarks on Santorum & Fox News recently finding WTFs in Iraq.

              CHARLAMOS CON RICARDO GÓMEZ        
    Este miércoles 22 charlaremos un rato con Ricardo. 
    Lo hemos querido conocer un poquito más a través de su biografía y  sus cuentos. 
    Pronto os contaremos que tal ha ido todo. 



    Bastille Day 2017: "Operational together"

    "Operational together" is this year’s chosen theme for the Bastille Day festivities on 14 July. With the terror threat still looming, cooperation between the Armed Forces and domestic security forces is paramount. The parade is an opportunity to celebrate the commitment of these men and women who, together, keep French citizens safe on a daily basis. The Franco-American friendship and Operation Chammal will take centre-stage, alongside the technological prowess of the French Armed Forces.
     

    A hundred years have passed since the United States entered World War I

    2017 is the centenary year of America’s entry into World War I, bringing its support to France. The American President will be attending this centenary and tribute will be paid to the U.S. Armed Forces as a sign of this cooperation and the history of Franco-American friendship.
     
    To open the military parade, the French Air Force aerobatic demonstration team, Patrouille de France, will be followed by the U.S. Air Force air demonstration squadron, Thunderbirds. On the ground, the marching parade will begin with an American joint detachment of 200 servicemen and women, some of whom will be wearing the authentic "Sammies" uniform from World War I.
     
    The United States and France, partners and allies, are taking action on a number of fronts, including to combat terrorism through the Global Coalition against Daesh in the Levant.

    Operation Chammal centre-stage

    The efforts of French troops serving in the Levant as part of Operation Chammal are also being recognised this year. 114 servicemen and women from three branches of the Armed Forces will be taking part in the parade, illustrating the complementary nature of the means and troops committed in the fight against Daesh.
     
    Operation Chammal
    Chammal is the name of France’s contribution to the international operation Inherent Resolve. More than 1,200 soldiers are deployed in Iraq and Syria as part of this operation. They are involved in aviation or artillery support missions to assist the ground troops engaged in countering the terrorist group Daesh, as well as training missions for the benefit of the Iraqi security forces.

    1917-2017: a whole century’s worth of technological innovation

    In the limelight during this year’s opening festivities are technological innovations and the necessary efforts given over to planning for the future. The groundbreaking changes that have occurred over the period from 1917 to 2017 will be on show, not least the vehicles and weapons available to the French forces, as will the accomplishments in terms of planning for the future.
     
    1917 marks the first time French tanks were used in battle. Since then, the Saint-Chamond tank has been replaced with the powerful and mobile Leclerc tank, the only one in the world to be able to fire while travelling at a speed of 50km/h. Technological innovation has been making a key contribution to France’s strategic autonomy throughout the past century: it represents the excellence and foresight of the French Armed Forces.

    The parade will close with a rendition of Nissa la Bella, the city of Nice’s anthem written on 14 July 1903 by Menica Rondelly, performed in memory of the victims of the Nice attack on 14 July 2016.



    The Franco-American Museum at Château de Blérancourt reopens

    After being closed for more than 10 years for renovation, following the discovery of archaeological remains, Château de Blérancour... [Read more]
    23 June 2017

              Sunnis Flee The Islamic State, But Still Fall Under Suspicion        
    The al-Nidaa mosque in northern Baghdad looks grand, with clean, modern lines swooping up to a blue mosaic dome. But inside it's squalid, with piled-up mattresses, cooking pots and almost 60 families. Most are Sunni Muslims who fled the western province of Anbar when the self-proclaimed Islamic State advanced against the Iraqi security forces two months ago.

    "We suffered a lot in our journey," says Wafaa Ahmed, a widow who walked for days with three sick children.

              Iraqi Soldiers, Generals Shift The Blame For Battlefield Defeats        
    When the Iraqi city of Ramadi fell to the self-declared Islamic State last month, it was a big defeat. Ramadi is a provincial capital just 60 miles west of Baghdad, and the setback played into the notion that the Iraqi army is weak and inept.

    The U.S. Congress and Pentagon were scathing, saying the Iraqi army lacked the will to fight. There were plenty of other critics as well, though we haven't heard much from the Iraqi soldiers themselves.

    The troops bristle at the criticism.

              Ramadi, Iraq, Offensive Delays Efforts To Take Back Mosul         
    Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

    Transcript

    ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

    We heard from Scott that the fight against ISIS in Iraq is one of the big questions President Obama faced at the end of the G7 conference. It was June of last year when ISIS invaded Mosul.

              After A Big Victory For ISIS, Iraqi Forces Look To Regroup         
    The black flag of the self-proclaimed Islamic State is flying over the Iraqi city of Ramadi after government forces collapsed and the extremists seized control over the weekend.

    Thousands of civilians have fled Ramadi and those left behind face a chaotic situation.

    "No food, no fuel, no electricity. It's very difficult there," says Sheikh Hekmat Suleiman, an adviser to the governor of Anbar Province.

              In Battered Tikrit, Iraqi Forces Claim Much, But Not All Of City         
    Driving from Baghdad north to Tikrit, we speed up a main road Wednesday through small towns that have been won back from the self-declared Islamic State, or ISIS. Some still have smoking buildings.

              ISIS Video Shows Extremists Smashing Priceless Artifacts        
    The self-styled Islamic State has released a video showing an orgy of destruction of ancient statues in the Iraqi city of Mosul, with footage at a museum and at least one archaeological site nearby.

    The video begins with an image of the police known as the Hisba, tasked with enforcing their strict interpretation of Islamic law, patrolling the streets.

              Piece By Piece, Monks Scramble To Preserve Iraq's Christian History        
    In an unfinished building in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil, displaced Christian children sing a little song about returning to their village. "We're going back," they sing, "to our houses, our land, our church."

    Right now, they're living in an open concrete structure. The self-styled Islamic State, or ISIS, took over their home village of Qaraqosh, and the Christians fled in fear, on foot.

    They finish their song and applause breaks out from two unlikely figures. One is a beaming Iraqi in white robes, Father Najeeb Michaeel.

              After Making Waves In 2014, ISIS' Power Appears To Ebb        
    In the heat of summer in 2014, Baghdad was spooked. A third of Iraq was under the control of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIS. The extremist group thrived in the chaos of the Syrian civil war, then surged over the border into Iraq and took over the cities of Mosul and Tikrit. People worried the capital might be next.

    Six months on, that's changed.

              There And Back Again For U.S. Military In Iraq        
    Three years after the U.S. military officially withdrew from Iraq, 2,000 U.S. troops are back. They're restoring the old buildings they'd left behind and renewing contacts with Iraqi officers they knew before.

    They're also taking incoming rocket fire at their bases.

    This week began an ambitious training program to put 5,000 Iraqi soldiers through boot camp every six weeks.

    Operation Inherent Resolve was designed by the U.S. to build a coalition of states to strike back against the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, in Iraq and Syria. The operation has seen a return of U.S.

              Mundo- Cambio Climático. La Tierra arde: sequías, desertificación, hambre, migraciones        
    3-7-17 biodiversidad ALat

    Cambio Climático. La Tierra arde: sequías, desertificación, hambre, migraciones

    En todo el planeta se registran altas temperaturas históricas y es de esperar que el clima se torne cada vez más caliente, lo que implica más sequías, más inseguridad alimentaria, más hambre y más desplazamientos masivos..."

     En todo el planeta se registran altas temperaturas históricas y es de esperar que el clima se torne cada vez más caliente, lo que implica más sequías, más inseguridad alimentaria, más hambre y más desplazamientos masivos de personas, señala la IPS (1) en un repaso que hacen sus corresponsales en los cinco continentes.
    De hecho, las temperaturas extremadamente altas de mayo y junio rompieron marcas en varias partes de Europa, Medio Oriente, norte de África y Estados Unidos, informó la Organización Meteorológica Mundial (OMM), que agregó que la ola de calor en el norte llegó este año inusualmente antes.
    Al mismo tiempo, las temperaturas globales promedio registradas en la superficie de la tierra y el mar en los primeros cinco meses de este año fueron las segundas más altas de la historia, según análisis de la Administración Nacional Oceánica y Atmosférica de Estados Unidos, el Instituto de Estudios Espaciales NASA-Goddard y el Centro Europeo Copérnico para el Pronóstico Climático de Alcance Medio- Servicio de Cambio Climático.

    Europa
    En Portugal, las temperaturas extremas del entorno de 40 grados centígrados contribuyeron a la severidad del devastador incendio que con su rápido avance arrasó con la región de Pedrógão Grande,150 kilómetros al noreste de Lisboa, y dejó a decenas de personas muertas y otras más heridas.
    La OMM informó el 20 de este mes de que Portugal no es el único país europeo que sufre los efectos de clima extremo, pues la vecina España, que tuvo su primavera más caliente en más de 50 años, y Francia, también registraron temperaturas máximas. Además, los pronósticos para el territorio francés indican que seguirá teniendo tardes con más de 10 grados por encima del promedio para esta época del año.
    La primavera española, del 1 de marzo al 31 de mayo, ha sido extremadamente cálida, con una temperatura promedio de 15,4 grados, 1,7 grados por encima del promedio en este período (con respecto a 1980-2010), precisó la agencia.
    Y en muchas otras partes de Europa, incluso en Gran Bretaña, también se registraron altas temperaturas por encima del promedio

    Estados Unidos
    Del otro lado del océano Atlántico, en Estados Unidos, también se registraron calores cercanas o por encima del récord, precisó la OMM. En partes del desierto sudoccidental y hasta California, las temperaturas rondaron los 49 grados.
    Más de 29 millones de californianos vivieron bajo alertas de calor extremo el tercer fin de semana de este mes.
    Phoenix registró 47,8 grados el día 19. Incluso, la prensa informó de que el tráfico aéreo se detuvo en el Aeropuerto Internacional Phoenix Sky Harbour, en Arizona, por el exceso de calor. Y de hecho, la cancelación de vuelos coincidió con uno de los días más calurosos de los últimos 30 años en ese estado.
    Y el Parque Nacional Valle Muerto, de California, alertó a los visitantes de que las temperaturas rondarían entre 38 y 49 grados. El lugar es conocido por haber tenido la temperatura máxima registrada en el mundo de 56,7 grados en 1913.

    Norte de África, Medio Oriente y Asia
    En Emiratos Árabes Unidos, la temperatura máxima de 50 grados se registró el 17 de mayo, mientras que en el centro de la sudoriental provincia de Kuzestán, en Irán, vecina de Iraq, los termómetros marcaron 50 grados el 15 de este mes, indicó la OMM.
    La ola de calor en Marruecos alcanzó su máximo el 17 de mayo, cuando se registraron 42,9 grados en la estación Larach, en el norte del país.
    Las altas temperaturas de junio siguieron a las que superaron el promedio en muchas partes del mundo a fines de mayo.
    La ciudad de Turbat, en el sudoeste de Pakistán, registró 54 grados. La OMM creará una comisión internacional de expertos para verificar la marca y evaluar si iguala a la de 54 grados registrada en Kuwait en julio de 2016.

    Desplazamientos de personas sin precedentes
    En ese contexto climático, el mundo registró otro récord inhumano de una persona desplazada cada tres segundos.
    Casi 66 millones de personas fueron obligadas a abandonar sus hogares en 2016, informó el Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados en su informe Tendencias Globales, divulgado antes del Día Mundial de los Refugiados, el 20 de junio.
    Los desplazamiento no solo obedecen a conflictos, sino al avance de la sequía y la desertificación.
    La Convención de las Naciones Unidas para la Lucha contra la Desertificación (UNCCD) alertó el 17 de este mes, en el Día Mundial de la Lucha contra la Desertificación, de que en 2025, en menos de ocho años, 1800 millones de personas padecerán una absoluta escasez de agua y las dos terceras partes de la población mundial vivirán en condiciones de estrés hídrico.
    Ahora se teme que el avance de la sequía y de los desiertos, la creciente escasez de agua y la pérdida de seguridad alimentaria generen un “tsunami” de migrantes y refugiados climáticos.
    La secretaria ejecutiva de la UNCCD, Monique Barbut, recordó que la inmensa mayoría de refugiados proceden de regiones propensas a la sequía y a la escasez hídrica.
    Ni la desertificación ni la sequía por sí solas causan el desplazamiento masivo de personas, pero pueden aumentar el riesgo de conflictos e intensificar los existentes, explicó.

    Amenaza posiblemente irreversible
    Como forma de ayudar a mitigar los efectos de la actual ola de calor, la Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Alimentación y la Agricultura (FAO) suscribió el 20 de este mes un acuerdo con la OMM para profundizar la cooperación y responder a la variabilidad climática y el cambio climático, lo que “representa una amenaza urgente y posiblemente irreversible para las sociedades humanas, los ecosistemas natrales y la seguridad alimentaria”.
    La iniciativa procura fortalecer los servicios agrometeorológicos y facilitar el acceso a agricultores y pescadores, así como mejorar el monitoreo específico global y regional de alerta temprana y responder a eventos de alto impacto como las sequías.
    “Salvar los medios de vida es salvar vidas, de esto se trata la construcción de resiliencia”, destacó el director general de la FAO, José Graziano da Silva, quien suscribió el acuerdo, junto a Petteri Taalas, por la OMM, en el marco de un seminario sobre la sequía organizado el 19 de este mes por Irán, Holanda y la FAO, en Roma.
    Al recordar la sequía de 2011 en Somalia, donde 250 000 personas murieron de hambre, Da Silva recordó: “La gente muere porque no está preparada para hacer frente a los efectos de la sequía, pues sus medios de vida no son lo suficientemente resilientes”.
    “Durante años, se ha respondido a la sequía en el momento en que ocurre, apresurándose a llevar asistencia de emergencia y mantener a las personas con vida”, observó. “Por supuesto que es importante, pero es esencial invertir en preparación y resiliencia”, subrayó.
    Resumen Latinoamericano / Periodistas-es / 24 de junio de 2017

    Notas
    1- Traducido por Verónica Firme
    2- Publicado inicialmente en IPS Noticias
    3- Desertificación
    Fuente: Resumen Latinoamericano

    http://www.biodiversidadla.org/Principal/Secciones/Documentos/Cambio_Climatico._La_Tierra_arde_sequias_desertificacion_hambre_migraciones


              OVERHAULIN' IS BACK TONIGHT        
    After five years off the air, Overhaulin' is officially back tonight!     All new episodes of the hit reality series air on the Velocity network at 9/8c. If you're not sure what channel Velocity is in your town, then please follow the link below and visit the Velocity channel finder so you can join us for the premiere tomorrow.     http://velocity.discovery.com/videos/   Tonight a deserving Iraqi war veteran will become the newest member of the Overhaulin' family as his 1965 Chevy Impala r...
              CIA Shifts Strategy in Iraq—Still High Demand for Niche Capabilities        
    Aronson Capital Partners Blog  July 10, 2012 The post-war reductions of CIA personnel in Iraq could provide greater opportunities for contractors with niche capabilities in intelligence collection, processing, and analysis. The Wall Street Journal reported that the CIA is considering plans to reduce its presence in Iraq to 40% of wartime levels due, in part, […]
              Mama, Make 'Em Stop!!!        
    Dear Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama,

    I like you guys -- really I do. But enough is enough. I'm sick of you both and we've got a long hot summer ahead of us.


    Look at you. You guys look terrible. It would take a bucket of Restaylne to fill in all those lines you're getting.

    Pleeeeeeease. I beg you. Go home. Put your feet up. Take up Sudoku, or knitting. Watch wrestling (just don't use slogans from it). See what kind of lamp you can make out of your Grammys. You can even blog, if you pinky PROMISE it won't be about each other.

    Frankly, I don't care which one of you gets it at this point. If I were a superdelegate, I'd pledge my vote to whichever one of you shut up and left me alone first.

    And if you guys would just cool it, Wolf Blitzer would have to find something else to talk about. A frat boy looking for a new way to get wasted could do worse than to chug one every time Wolf reminds us tonight that CNN has "the best political team on television."


    Don't that innocent look fool you. He's the most annoying man on television. Maybe I'll play the drinking game.

    Tonight in Pennsylvania, one of you will win, and one of you will lose, and the loser will say he/she didn't really lose because she/he (fill in the blank), and the winner will say that the results show that that he/she is more likely to fix the economy/get us out of Iraq/relate to the lady who works at the Dairy Queen/bowl better in the next state, and then Wolf and Company will talk about it for, oh, I don't know, about the next 36 hours without a bathroom break, for God's sake, and the two of you will still essentially be tied.

    I miss the smoke-filled room.

              Hackers Pledging Allegiance To ISIS Take Over Newsweek’s Twitter Account, Threaten Obama Family        
    It appears that Newsweek’s Twitter account has been hacked by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria sympathizers known as the Cyber Caliphate.
              Aroma-added packaging aims to allure you- details        
    Aug 04, 2003 (The Christian Science Monitor via COMTEX) — The secret to boosting troop morale in Iraq, say US military officials, might soon be found inside the metallic foil of a package of beef stew. And later, similar packages may appear on supermarket shelves. While nation building and peacekeeping are at the top of … Continue reading Aroma-added packaging aims to allure you- details
              VOTE (FOR WILLisms.com) OR DIE!        

    1.

    Rodney Dill:
    (Sign on Big Ernie's School of law.) Become a lawyer in your spare time. It's like Viagra for your whole body.


    2.

    Buckley F. Williams:
    Even though he went on to become arguably the most successful body builder of his era, Alfred E. Neumann was never able to completely distance himself from rampant allegations of steroid abuse.


    3.

    Hoodlumman:
    "I'm happier than you!"

    "YOU ARE NOT HAPPIER THAN ME!!!"



    Honorable Mention #1

    Pat Patterson:
    "I don't think this fiber diet is working at all".


    Honorable Mention #2

    Tom:
    "...and for our silver medal winner is President Arroyo's deep-tissue massage and happy ending."


    Honorable Mention #3

    Rob B.:
    It was the picture of sportsmanship at the 2005 Mrs. Butterworth's Asian Weightlifting and Spelling Bee Championships until Sahali realized that Michael's correct spelling of the word "daguerreotype" had ensured him victory and the coveted "Hi Hi Puffy AmiYmi" edition X-box 360.


    Captioning is delicious and nutritious.

    Enter today!

    Posted by Will Franklin · 14 December 2005 09:51 AM · Comments (20)
    Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 245 -- Media Defeatism On Iraq.

    Bad News Bears MAKING The News-

    We all know the media are extraordinarily biased. Sometimes I wonder if the emergence of blogs and talk radio and other alternative forms of media have actually made the bias worse in some ways. The establishment types feel they are just balancing the "right wing propaganda" out there with increasingly ridiculous news coverage. Meanwhile, the big, lefty, establishment guys continue to lose market share.

    Could it be that people are sick of the gloom and doom defeatism, the hand-wringing, and the second-guessing?

    As we found earlier this year, few stories (just five in two m
              Una minoranza perseguitata        

    La vita dei cristiani nella piana di Ninive è tornata a scorrere. L’avanzata delle truppe regolari irachene verso Mosul ha liberato tutta la zona settentrionale dell’Iraq, a ridosso della regione autonoma del Kurdistan ridando un po’ di speranza alle comunità della croce nel nord del Paese. Quando nel giugno del 2014 Mosul cadeva nelle mani […]

    L'articolo Una minoranza perseguitata proviene da Gli occhi della guerra.


              Il nuovo campo di battaglia di Isis        

    Dietro la spirale del terrore che sta colpendo la comunità cristiana copta egiziana, ci sarebbe una strategia ben precisa messa a punto dagli uomini del Califfato islamico. Dopo le sconfitte sul terreno, registrate in Siria, in Iraq e in Libia, infatti, secondo gli esperti, lo Stato Islamico punta ora ad espandersi nel nord del Sinai e […]

    L'articolo Il nuovo campo di battaglia di Isis proviene da Gli occhi della guerra.


              Le sfide per i cristiani in Iraq        

    “Garanzie per la sicurezza e un’azione immediata per la ricostruzione dei villaggi liberati”, queste sono le principali sfide che, dopo la liberazione dei villaggi cristiani della piana di Ninive e mentre prosegue l’avanzata dei peshmerga curdi e dell’esercito iracheno su Mosul, aspettano la comunità cristiana dell’Iraq. A farsi portavoce degli oltre 100mila cristiani fuggiti dalla […]

    L'articolo Le sfide per i cristiani in Iraq proviene da Gli occhi della guerra.


              Il Natale dei cristiani perseguitati        

    È stato Natale anche in Iraq e in Siria. Quest’anno sono riapparsi gli alberi di Natale e i presepi nelle zone dove fino a qualche mese fa erano issate le bandiere nere dei tagliagole dell’Isis. In Iraq, nei villaggi cristiani della Piana di Ninive, gli addobbi natalizi hanno ravvivato il panorama desolato lasciato in eredità […]

    L'articolo Il Natale dei cristiani perseguitati proviene da Gli occhi della guerra.


              La speranza non abita più qui        

    Se i cristiani perseguitati dall’Isis in Iraq conservavano ancora una speranza, ora sembra perduta per sempre. Come le briciole usate da Pollicino per segnare la strada del ritorno a casa, è stata divorata da un mostro chiamato distruzione. I cristiani di Ankawa – sobborgo di Erbil nel Kurdistan iracheno – e del campo profughi di […]

    L'articolo La speranza non abita più qui proviene da Gli occhi della guerra.


              Peer Review of Digital Research Projects, Spring 2011        
    We are in the final week of our digital research project that the Media 21 students have been engaged in now for about six weeks as they have investigated issues facing our veterans who have served or who are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.  We began the first of four days of peer review … Continue reading Peer Review of Digital Research Projects, Spring 2011
              Airbus provides German troops with support communications at 15 sites worldwide        
    Munich -  Airbus has successfully rolled out support communications to German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) troops deployed to military bases in Lithuania. Labelled “Connect-D”, Airbus now supplies telephone, internet and media services to a total of 15 deployed Bundeswehr units around the world, including Mali, Iraq, Djibouti, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Cyprus and Lithuania. The launch of Connect-D at the Lithuanian bases of Rukla and Pabrade was performed as part of a framework contract awarded b...
              Misteri Teknologi di Zaman Nabi Nuh yang Disembunyikan        
    Sebetulnya piramid agung tidaklah dibina kala pemerintahan firaun khufu (cheops) namun telah dibina berkurun sebelumnya oleh kerajaan - kerajaan silam yang lepas. firaun - firaun mesir cumalah membaik pulih sahaja piramid - piramid ini yang diwarisi mereka. hakikat ini lama - kelamaan disedari oleh ramai pengkaji namun dia sangat lama buat mampu dipercayai oleh warga dunia.

    kamu boleh tonton filem 10000 b. c dimana ada kalangan yang membina piramid ditengah - tengah padang pasir buat memperoleh cerminan tentang perihal ini. arkiteknya dalam memastikan posisi piramid terpaksa memandang jarak bintang dilangit dan juga koordinasi buruj - buruj dimana pada masa yang sama ia pula merupakan pakar astronomi dan juga pakar nujum istana.

    misteri - teknologi - zaman - nabi - nuh - yang - disembunyikan - 1
    cerminan kerja pembinaan piramid [filem 10 000 bc]
    peran ketiga - tiga piramid tercantum piramid agung giza merupakan berbarengan dengan peran buruj orion di langit, dan juga menuju pas ke arah kiblat. ini antara teka - teki amat terbanyak dalam sejarah kemanusiaan. siapakah bangsa agung yang mula - mula merancang pembinaan piramid? sebetulnya piramid mesir merupakan penanda kiblat amat besar yang ada dibumi di mana allah yang maha agung telah menghasilkan bintang - bintang orion bagaikan ciri kiblat dilangit.

    piramid mesir merupakan petunjuk arah ke baitullah di bumi manakala bintang orion merupakan petunjuk arah ke baitul makmur di langit. maha suci allah yang menghasilkan seluruh suatu tanpa percuma. bangsa teka - teki yang membina piramid terawal sudah tentu suatu bangsa yang teramat bijak dan juga genius dan juga di era itu kemajuan material merupakan setanding malah lebih maju dari apa yang kita dapati hari ini.

    tidak yakin? coba kamu bayangkan kehidupan manusia saat sebelum berlakunya banjir besar di era nabi nuh. bayangkan kehidupan mereka merupakan teramat mutahir dengan kereta - kereta elegan dan juga kotaraya - kotaraya bercahaya dan pesawat - pesawat terbang serupa ufo yang bersimpang siur di hawa. tiap rumah ada sistem pc yang mutahir dan juga kemudahan internet kelajuan besar.

    namun terdapatkah seluruh itu bermanfaat sehabis banjir besar menyerang segala dunia. tidak, tidak sama sekali. nabi nuh terpaksa memuatkan kapalnya dengan manusia, haiwan - haiwan yang berpasangan dan spesis - spesis tumbuh - tumbuhan yang terpilih. di mari kita mampu mengenali bahawa ‘profesion’ nabi nuh bukan sahaja seseorang pengembang agama namun pula ahli sains zoologi yang profesional.

    6710818317_57872aafe7_b - compressed

    nabi nuh boleh membina kapal yang teramat besar cuma berbekal pengikut yang tidak hingga 100 orang? fikirkan. seratus (100) orang itupun terdapat yang perempuan dan juga anak - anak jadi jumlah pekerja buat membina bahtera nabi nuh teramatlah sedikit. malahan pula, para pengikut nabi nuh as terdiri daripada orang miskin yang lemah dan juga melarat sahaja.

    nabi nuh pula telah membina kapalnya dalam jangka masa yang terhad (sesetengah komentar berkata dalam sebagian minggu sahaja). teka - teki ini betul - betul memeningkan pengkaji malah terdapat pula pengkaji barat yang mendakwa bahawa, bahtera nabi nuh dibina oleh makhluk asing. sesungguhnya kita tidak hendak hairan dengan keahlian nabi nuh kala itu bila kita membayangkan kemajuan manusia saat sebelum banjir besar merupakan serupa kemajuan pada masa saat ini sekurang - kurangnya.

    kita boleh membayangkan yang nabi nuh membina bahtera di dalam hangar kapal yang besar berserta perlengkapan dan juga mesin - mesin yang mutahir dibantu sistem perkomputeran yang termaju.

    misteri - teknologi - zaman - nabi - nuh - yang - disembunyikan - 3

    masih tidak yakin? bila kita amati pada kronologi kemajuan manusia, kita boleh memandang logik ataupun tidak realitas ini. supaya kita ambil jangkamasa dari lahirnya nabi isa mengikut kalendar masehi iaitu 1 masehi sampai 2009 masehi. gimana kehidupan manusia di era nabi isa hidup. gimana kemajuan manusia selepas 2000 tahun selepas kelahiran nabi isa?

    berapakah jangkamasa adam manusia kesatu sampai - sampai kejadian banjir besar di era nabi nuh. katakanlah lebih kurang 2000 tahun (ini anggaran yang sangat minimum memandangkan jangkamasa dari manusia kesatu turun ke bumi sampai - sampai banjir besar boleh memakan masa beribu - ribu tahun) , hingga logiklah kemajuan manusia menggapai sesi terhebat dan juga maju kala banjir besar.
    mayat bergelimpangan di kota kuno mohenjo - daro memiliki radioaktif
    mayat bergelimpangan di kota kuno mohenjo - daro memiliki radioaktif

    hingga bila berfikir serupa ini, kita tidak hendak kaget dengan kisah - kisah serupa atlantis dan juga lemuria dan kerajaan rama yang memiliki pesawat - pesawat terbang serupa ufo. peperangan pula mengaitkan kuasa nuklear serupa kesan - kesan yang ditemui di mohenjo - daro dan juga harappa.

    namun terdapatkah seluruh kemajuan itu bermanfaat bermanfaat apabila tibanya bala musibah? seluruh kemajuan itu habis tenggelam bersama - sama orang musyrik yang mengingkari perintah allah swt sehabis hanyut dalam arus kemajuan material dan juga kecanggihan teknologi yang mengkhayalkan. manusia kala itu terus menjadi rakus dengan kebendaan dan juga berbuat maksiat secara terang - terangan.

    tidak hairan bila ada parti bogel di sana - sini. pesta - pesta mandi buih acapkali diadakan di festival - festival besar. konsert - konsert muzik yang mengkhayalkan acapkali diakhiri dengan acara seks yang menghairahkan dihadapan sembahan - sembahan berhala yang mereka pertuhankan. dakwah nabi nuh disampingkan meski kerap keluar di media - media antara bangsa.
    misteri - teknologi - zaman - nabi - nuh - yang - disembunyikan - 5
    bateri baghdad yang ditemui oleh pakar arkeologi austria

    bisa jadi kamu berasa lucu dengan senario yang dipaparkan di mari. ini kerana kamu memikirkan nabi nuh hidup serupa orang gua, bercucuk tanam dan juga mengembala kambing sahaja. tidak sama sekali. lihatlah lukisan - lukisan teka - teki di bilik kuil - kuil firaun yang menggambarkan satu mitos purba tentang pemasukan tenaga elektrik siap dengan lukisan kabel dasar tanah dan juga filemen elektrik.

    temuan bateri purba di iraq dan juga cakera padat purba dropa (sampai - sampai saat ini tidak dikenal sama terdapat dia berupa cd, cd - rw, dvd, dvd - rw ataupun sebagainya) di Cina.


    misteri - teknologi - zaman - nabi - nuh - yang - disembunyikan - 6
    cakera padat purba yang ditemui di china

    dan juga yang amat menggemparkan merupakan temuan loji nuklear berumur lebih 2 juta tahun di oklo, afrika! apakah iktikad seluruh ini? berapa usia bumi sesungguhnya? berapa usia umat manusia sesungguhnya?. kita tidak boleh menganggarkannya bersumber pada kajian barat (novel referensi sejarah di malaysia banyak merujuk kepada sumber barat) yang dipengaruhi oleh the hidden hand serupa illuminati dan juga freemason. mereka sesungguhnya memiliki karena buat mengelirukan umat manusia. seluruh realitas sesungguhnya sangat jauh dari apa yang kita mampu bayangkan.

    misteri - teknologi - zaman - nabi - nuh - yang - disembunyikan - 7

    hingga sehabis banjir besar, para pengikut nabi nuh juga bertebaranlah di wajah bumi sehelai sepinggang sehabis meninggalkan kehidupan moden dan juga mutahir mereka dimakan banjir. mereka berulang jadi orang gua dan juga mula hunting, bercucuk tanam dan juga mengail ikan.

    misteri - teknologi - zaman - nabi - nuh - yang - disembunyikan - 8

    serupa yang dirakamkan di dalam al - quran:

    apakah mereka tidak mencermati sebagian banyak generasi yang telah kami binasakan saat sebelum mereka, sementara itu (generasi itu) telah kami teguhkan peran mereka di wajah bumi, iaitu keteguhan yang belum sempat kami bagikan kepadamu, dan juga kami curahkan hujan yang rimbun atas mereka dan juga kami peruntukan sungai - sungai yang mengalir di dasar mereka, setelah itu kami binasakan mereka kerana dosa mereka seorang diri dan juga kami mengadakan seusai mereka generasi yang lain. (qs. al - an’am: 6)

    di waktu - waktu malam mereka bisa jadi berkumpul di tepi unggun api sembari mendengar cerita orang - orang tua digolongan mereka menimpa kehidupan moden dan juga mutahir mereka sesuatu kala dulu serupa menaiki bas dan juga komuter (mayoritas pengikut nabi nuh merupakan miskin) dan juga terdapat pula yang sempat menaiki kereta. mereka pula bisa jadi menggambarkan bangunan - bangunan besar dan juga pc.

    betapa kukuhnya binaan bahtera nabi nuh as ini, hinggakan binaan asalnya masih kukuh sampai saat ini. gambar diatas (atas sekali) merupakan satu sudut dalam bahtera nabi nuh, manakala gambar dibawah pula yakni olahan besi yang diperolehi daripada struktur bahtera tersebut. gambar tersebut diiambil sehabis kumpulan arkeologi dari turki dan juga Cina berjaya merambah bahtera nabi nuh as yang terdampar di puncak gunung ararat di turki.






    (sumber: blogmazeer. com)

              Where Have All the Standards Gone?        
    And on the heels of Kristen's awesome Palin/Morgan/generational commentary this morning, here's one from my fellow graduate of Progressive Women's Voices program, Avis A. Jones-DeWeever:

    Where Have Our Standards Gone?

    Sarah Palin survived the debate, but her down-home message can do little to reassure voters who have every reason to demand a change of direction.

    What does it say about a nation, when the true take away message from a vice-presidential debate is that one of its participants actually does have the ability to string together a series of coherent sentences? Talk about the poverty of low-expectations. Sure, Sarah Palin made it through last night without adding to her long list of cringe inducing moments. But for a nation facing its greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression, two sustained wars, and the lingering concern of the whereabouts and activities of Osama Bin Laden, being folksy just isn’t good enough. Competence matters. And clearly, Palin falls short.

    Over and over, Governor Palin evaded questions, returned to the well-worn “Maverick” crutch, and sang the same ole’ Republican tune about the evils of government. But it’s hard to sell the tired anti-government spiel when your running mate pseudo-suspends his campaign to make sure that very government comes to the rescue of interconnected economies here and abroad.

    It is true though, that Palin had her moments. She was most effective when she directed barbs against her opponents. But despite the provocation, Senator Joe Biden refused to rise to the bait and avoided any patronizing comments, focusing steadily on why Barack Obama should be president and not John McCain.

    Still, what sort of a Maverick would pass up the opportunity to painstakingly spell out how her ideas differ from the status quo? Despite ample opportunity, time and time again, the governor failed to specify just how a McCain/Palin administration would differ in any substantive way from the debacle of the Bush/Cheney years. Whether it be the issue of making permanent the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest of Americans, or reviving America’s badly tarnished image around the world, the McPalin Express is easing on down the tracks laid by their woefully unpopular Republican leader. Maverick or not, Palin failed to provide any daylight between the domestic and foreign policy failings of the Bush Administration and just where she and John McCain plan to take the nation in the critical years ahead.

    If there is one thing we’ve learned since the earliest of days of this historic electoral season, it is the hard and fast fact that Americans want change. And for good reason. Over the past eight years we’ve gone from peace and prosperity to none of the above. In this year alone, we’ve lost over 600,000 jobs, hit a five-year high unemployment rate, and had millions of families face the personal tragedy of foreclosure. In Iraq we’ve seen the number of American deaths top 4,000, had over 30,000 suffer injuries, and approached a record number of former service men and women who could no longer live with the lingering horrors of war; and as a result, took their own lives.

    It’s time for this insanity to end.

    Palin may have very well saved her political future from going down Dan Quayle’s road to political oblivion—that is if she avoids like the plague any future in-depth interviews inclusive of follow-up questions that press for specificity. But in the end, of the two candidates who took the stage last night, only one displayed a mastery of the facts, articulated clear plans for the nation’s precarious days ahead, and spoke genuinely of the challenges of raising a family in uncertain and unfortunate times. Joe Biden passed that bar and kept his ticket on the road to success.

    For all her winks, smiles, and good-ole-girl vernacular, Palin failed to make a convincing case for McCain’s faltering campaign. We’ve already seen what it’s like to have Joe Six-Pack and a Grumpy Old Man run the nation. Reversing the order on the ticket and changing Joe to Jane, just isn’t good enough.

    -By Avis A. Jones-DeWeever for the Women's Media Center. The WMC is a non-profit organization founded by Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem, and Robin Morgan, dedicated to making the female half of the world visible and powerful in the media.


              Top 10s from Robin Morgan - MUST READ!        
    Well if you're not awake this morning already, this one will wake you up. Robin Morgan has a new piece just up (remember Goodbye to All That #2?) over at the Women's Media Center. In "When Sisterhood Is Suicide and Other Late Night Thoughts," Morgan is at her absolute best.

    She begins by offering 10 nice things first, as follows:

    Ten Nice Things to Say About Sarah Palin:

    1. She’s a lifelong NRA member and crack rifle-woman, but hasn’t yet shot a single person in the face.
    2. She’s so unafraid of power that a majority-Republican legislative committee is investigating her abuse of it.
    3. She’s broad-minded, willing to have evolution taught alongside creationism.
    4. She gives “the personal is political” new meaning: Axing the public-safety commissioner for not firing her ex-brother-in-law (Trooper-gate); firing “foes” suspected of “disloyalty” (Library-gate).
    5. She knows how to delegate, involving “First Dude” husband Todd in more governmental decisions than any male politician’s spouse has dared since Hillary tried to give us healthcare in 1993. (First Dude’s defying a subpoena from those meanies mentioned up in #2.)
    6. She has executive experience: As mayor of Wasilla, then-constituency 5,000 souls, she presided over a population almost as vast as that of some urban high-schools.
    7. She’s an existentialist: Bridge-to-Nowhere-gate, Highway-to-Nowhere-gate. She never “focused much on Iraq”—after all, “the war is part of God’s plan”—and she dismisses McCain’s reluctance to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as being like “Eastern politicians” about environment. (Check out Wasilla’s dead-Lake-Lucille-gate.)
    8. She brings home the earmarked bacon—plus moose, caribou, wolf, and any other animal stumbling haplessly across her rifle-sight as she leans out of the ‘copter on another heli-hunt. But! Does she rely solely on godless government for her $500 million U.S.-subsidized natural-gas pipeline? No! Last June, at the Pentecostal Assembly of God Church, she declared, “God's will has to be done to get that gas line built!”
    9. She displays refreshing curiosity, as when she asked, “What is it exactly the VP does?” (Don’t scoff: Are you smarter than a 5th grader?)
    10. She’s multi-talented—studied journalism, tried sportscasting, can slickly scan a teleprompter (unlike her running-mate). She’s a jock (Sports-Complex-gate.) She was a beauty queen (as all of McCain’s wives were; how ‘bout that?) She’s patriotic—well, except for attending that secessionist Alaska Independent Party conference during the seven years when First Dude was a party member pulling down DWI convictions on the side. Best of all, she’s a born-again feminist, a “feminist for life.” Which I guess makes me a feminist for death.
    Morgan then offers "Ten Blunt-Crayon Hints for the Media"--including tips like "Do investigate Palin’s opposition to listing polar bears and other animals as endangered. Do not call her one: no chick, bird, kitten, bitch, hen, cow. Also no produce: tomato, peach, etc." And finally shares her list of:

    Ten Reasons You CANNOT Support McCain-Palin

    1. Yourself. Do not cut off your womb to spite the Democrats. (Also do not sit this election out or play write-in-vote games. And tempting though it may seem, do not blow a vote for the Green Party.)
    2. Iraq. McCain’s been a hawk since evolution made raptors.
    3. The Economy. For years McCain chaired the Senate Banking Committee that brought us the current financial meltdown. He opposed the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which would have made it easier for women and other workers to pursue pay-discrimination claims. (Come to think of it, why the focus solely on equal pay for equal work? Whatever happened to equal pay for comparable worth?)
    4. The Supreme Court. McCain vows to stack the court with “clones of Alito and Roberts.” There goes . . . well, everything.
    5. Choice. McCain has lodged 125 anti-choice votes. He boasts he’ll overturn Roe v. Wade. And as for the claim that if Roe is overturned it will “merely” throw reproductive rights back to the states, understand that McCain supports a constitutional amendment that would ban abortion outright, nationwide.
    6. Realism. If you’re a young feminist, do not get disillusioned by Obama’s drift to the middle—depressing but standard for winning. Do consider running for office—politics is not a spectator sport. And if you still can’t grasp why older feminists zealously backed HRC, please read Susan Faludi‘s brilliant “Second Place Citizens” for context. It’s crucial.
    7. Old Wounds. Remember that McCain’s answer to a supporter asking him about Hillary, “How do we beat the bitch?” was “Good question!” Remember that at the Sturgis motorcycle rally, McCain mortified his wife by saying she should enter the Topless Miss Buffalo Chip contest. Remember that, responding to a comment Cindy made about his thinning hair, he guffawed, “At least I don’t plaster on makeup like a trollop, you c**t.”
    8. Palin. McCain’s pick of Palin demonstrates contempt for American women and insults the intelligence of anyone who supported Hillary, since Palin is her (melting) polar opposite. It denigrates qualified Republican women (Senators Snow, Collins, Dole, and Hutchinson must be suffering silent apoplexy). It’s actually abuse of Palin herself, a sacrifice tossed to the ravenous fundamentalist base, now the butt of public humiliation for her abysmal lack of qualifications.
    9. Feminism—remember that? McCain-Palin politics are antithetical to every feminist policy most U.S. women support. Palin is an anti-abortion-rights, pro-“abstinence only” enemy of sex education and stem-cell research who denounced as “outrageous” the state supreme court’s decision to strike down Alaska’s parental-consent statute; who believes survivors of sexual assault and incest should be forced to bear the attackers’ fetuses to term; who let Wasilla charge survivors for rape kits and forensic exams; who cut funding for teen-pregnancy services; who stated she’d oppose abortion for her daughters even if they’d been raped; who’s against same-sex marriage (because such love is “curable”) and against gun control—but apparently all for shotgun weddings (poor Bristol’s gonna marry that dork, like it or not).
    10. Settling for Greatness. Sure, we wanted to vote for the right woman. Sure, we’ll have to wait a bit longer for her. Meanwhile, in Obama we can have a chief executive who reflects our politics, and who—especially since he may have both houses of Congress behind him—just might turn out to be one hell of a great president.
    ...and ends with "Five Ways to Still Make History." Read the whole sassy thing, here, and pass it on!
              Getting The Gang Back Together: Bush Family, Friends Convene In Texas To Celebrate H.w. - The Washington Post        

    Bush Sr. lost in 1992 amid complaints that he didnt care enough about domestic issues, and he didnt win many conservative fans for his reversal of his oft-quoted line, Read my lips, no new taxes. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq havent helped the family brand, either. tanah A recent Post-ABC poll found that half of all Americans say they definitely would not vote for another Bush as president. Ive never actually believed that his name would drag him down, said Kaufman, who in addition to working for 41 helped advise Mitt Romney on his 2012 presidential campaign. Americans are so tired of a very broken system that theyd do anything, and give their vote to anybody even Attila the Hun if they think that person will bring competent leadership to Washington and the White House. Even Trippi, after hearing Jeb speak, found himself surprisingly impressed: You know I used to think, Oh, my God, Hillary Clinton and a Bush, here we go again, he said as he left the town hall. But Im really starting to think that might be the best way to get an actual debate about the issues. For folks such as Alan Simpson, the former Wyoming senator, the nostalgia tour was in full effect.

    Aside from repurposing the old shipping container , Poteet used recycled soda caps and telephone poles in this gorgeous green guest house perched at the top of Stacey Hill. To keep the message of sustainability at the forefront, Poteet decided to leave the exterior of the shipping container as is, including its original blue color and markings from when it was used to haul goods. The end was cut away and replaced with a large floor to ceiling window, while part of the side was replaced with sliding glass doors that create a flow of both natural light and air. The opposite ends corrugated walls were kept with a smaller, higher window added, which allows for a private bathroom. Related: PHOTOS: Couple Moves into Stacked Shipping Container Home in Williamsburg The sliding doors, which function as the guest homes entrance, open onto a large elevated deck, which was made using recycled soda caps .


              Open thread for night owls: Who really owns U.S. farmland? Increasingly, it's not American farmers        

    Katy Keiffer at The New Food Economy writes—Who Really Owns American Farmland? The answer, increasingly, is not American farmers:

    We’re used to thinking of escalating rents as an urban problem, something suffered mostly by the citizens of booming cities. So when city people look out over a farm—whether they see corn stalks, or long rows of fruit bushes, or cattle herds roving across wild grasses—the price of real estate is probably the last thing that’s going to come to mind. But the soil under farmers’ feet has become much more valuable in the past decade. While urban commercial real estate has skyrocketed in places like New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., powerful investors have also sought to turn a profit by investing in the most valuable rural real estate: farmland. It’s a trend that’s driving up costs up for the people who grow our food, and—slowly—it’s started to change the economics of American agriculture.

    Ghost_Owl_2.jpg

    Think of it this way: If you wanted to buy Iowa farmland in 1970, the average going price was $419 per acre, according to the Iowa State University Farmland Value Survey. By 2016, the price per acre was $7,183—a drop from the 2013 peak of $8,716, but still a colossal increase of 1,600 percent. For comparison, in the same period, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose less than half as fast, from $2,633 to $21,476. Farmland, the Economist announced in 2014, had outperformed most asset classes for the previous 20 years, delivering average U.S. returns of 12 percent a year with low volatility.

    That boom has resulted in more people and companies bidding on American farmland. And not just farmers. Financial investors, too. Institutional investors have long balanced their portfolios by putting part of their money in natural resources—goldmines and coal fields and forests. But farmland, which was largely held by small property owners and difficult for the financial industry to access, was largely off the table. That changed around 2007. In the wake of the stock market collapse, institutional investors were eager to find new places to park money that might prove more robust than the complex financial instruments that collapsed when the housing bubble burst. What they found was a market ready for change. The owners of farms were aging, and many were looking for a way to get cash out of the enterprises they’d built.

    And so the real estate investment trusts, pension funds, and investment banks made their move. Today, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that at least 30 percent of American farmland is owned by non-operators who lease it out to farmers. And with a median age for the American farmer of about 55, it is anticipated that in the next five years, some 92,000,000 acres will change hands, with much of it passing to investors rather than traditional farmers. [...]

    TOP COMMENTS • HIGH IMPACT STORIES

    QUOTATION

    “For the true measure of agriculture is not the sophistication of its equipment the size of its income or even the statistics of its productivity but the good health of the land.” 
                      
     ~Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture (1977)

    TWEET OF THE DAY

    x

    BLAST FROM THE PAST

    At Daily Kos on this date in 2005—Condi: Still out of touch:

    Our Secretary of State says:

    Rice told TIME she believes the insurgents are "losing steam" as a political force, even though their ability to kill and maim at will appears undiminished. When Rice points to "rather quiet political progress" while the country remains embroiled in chaos, even some of her backers cringe. Says a Republican elder statesman: "I don't have any sense of where she thinks she's going on Iraq."
    Insurgents are losing steam? They've never been more lethal. They've never been more organized. They've never been more effective. Yet the best the administration can do is keep talking about turning corners, last throes, and lost steam? We can't afford to continue with this current crop of incompetents.

    On today’s Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin keeps things on an even keel, revisiting the need for policy groundwork on any movement toward single payer. Trump, meanwhile, threatens nuclear war. Which presumably makes his twice-daily “good news” folder, while Manafort does not.

    YouTube | iTunes | LibSyn | Keep us on the air! Donate via Patreon or Square Cash


                      
    From Jenna Orkin


                      
    From Jenna Orkin

    Column: Sixteen years after 9/11, the American public deserves answers, not secrecy
    Senator Bob Graham

    GI and AI are going to turbocharge 'fake news' and make it far harder to tell what's real


    Uzbekistan jails ex-president's daughter, socialite Gulnara Karimova, under massive fraud charges
    Trump is looking for dirt on Iran, and it looks like the run up to the Iraq war

    Vietnam pushes back after threats from Beijing over drilling in the South China Sea

    Romans are about to go eight hours a day without water

    Gauntlet Thrown: House Judiciary Demands Special Counsel To Investigate Comey, Lynch, And Clinton

    Imran Awan Subscribed To Pedo-Centric YouTube Channel Exposed By Tosh.0

    The Globalist One World Currency Will Look A Lot Like Bitcoin

    Silicon Valley Censorship

    Rents Across The US Hit A New All Time High

    Study: Sperm Count In Western Men Cut In Half Over Last 40 Years ...

                      
    From Jenna Orkin

    A Google Company Is Unleashing 20 Million Mosquitoes in California to Fight Zika

    The world's first planned drive-through mall is now a prison — take a look at its history
    Heavy-handed irony.
    Afghan civilian deaths hit record high in 2017, driven by Taliban and ISIS attacks

    'Winnie the Pooh' is being censored on Chinese social media

    "Islamic State Leader Baghdadi Is Still Alive" Iraq, Kurds Claim

    Elon Musk's Worst Nightmare: Russian AK-47 Maker Builds Fully-Automated "Killer Robot"



    Clinton Ally Begala: We Should "Debate Whether We Should Blow Up" Russia

    How Finland Is Preparing For A Russian Invasion

    DC Robot Says Everything's Fine; Throws Itself Into Pool link

              Daylight Savings Time 2013        
    Daylight Saving Dates Select Amp Quot On Or After Date Amp Quot For
    Daylight Savings Time 2013 Patch Daylight Saving Time Media Attachments Edit Upload Started 1334010841
    Daylight Saving Wikipedia Daylight Saving In
    Daylight Savings Time 2013 History Wiki March 30 1918 Daylight Savings Time 2013 Goes Into Effect Throughout The United
    Daylight Time Usa Daylight Saving Time Usa
    When Is Daylight Saving Time Begin For Daylight Savings Time 2013
    Daylight Savings Time 2013 Texas Adapt To The Time Change
    Day Light Savongs Daylight Savings Time 2013 Cartoon
    Daylight Savings Time 2013 Change 2010 Daylight Savings Time 2013 Gives Us
    Daylight Saving Times Ends Amp Quot Daylight Saving Time Ends
    Day Time Saver Clocks To Daylight Saving
    Daylight Savings.com So Daylight Saving Time Is
    Gmt Daylight Savings Time 2013 Daylight Saving Time
    Daylight Savings 2008 Daylight Savings Time 2013 Actually
    Daylight Savings Reminder Daylight Saving
    Daylihgt Daylight Savings Time 2013 Is A
    Dayligjt Saving With Daylight Saving Time
    Does Canada Do Daylight Savings Time 2013 Daylight Saving Time Ends
    Colorado Daylight Savings Time 2013 The Displayed Time Is 6 30
    End Of Dst Biden End Of Daylight Savings
    European Dst Dst Welcomes Radio Astronomy
    Daylight Company Learn More About The Daylight Company
    Summer Light Saving Time Call Daylight Saving Time
    Day Light Savings March Daylight Saving Time Is
    Day Light Savings Time 2013 Ends Daylight Saving Time Ends
    Day Light Savings 2011 Daylight Savings Time 2013 Begins
    Dst Start And End Svangel Yuri Milner Dst Start
    When Light Saving Time Change Announcement Daylight Saving
    Day Light Savings November Daylight Savings Ends Early
    Daylight Savings Time 2013 In Usa The Day Light Saving Time
    Daylight Savings Time 2013 Start End Start Time And End Time Are On
    Daily Savings How Daylight Savings Time 2013
    Dst March For Daylight Savings Time 2013
    Daylightsaving Daylight Savings
    Dailight Savings Of Daylight Savings Time 2013
    Daylight Savings Time 2013 New York Of Daylight Savings Time 2013
    Energy Saving Times Table 1 Energy Saving For
    End Of Summertime Usa Shop End Of Summer Sale
    Dayligh Savings Daylight Saving Time Food
    Daylight Savings Time 2013 Energy Savings Adopt Daylight Saving Time
    Current Daylight Savings Time 2013 Dates Daylight Savings Time 2013
    States Daylight Savings Time 2013 Not Observed Daylight Saving Time Ends
    Daylight Savings Time 2013 Worldwide Daylight Saving Time
    Daylight Saing New Daylight Savings Time 2013
    Daylight Savings Time 2013 In Australia Summer Time In Australia
    Daylight Saving Benjamin Franklin Daylight Savings Time 2013
    Daylight Saving Start Will Start Daylight Saving
    Daylight Savings Time 2013 In 2011 I Loathe Daylight Savings Time 2013
    End Of Daylight Savings Time 2013 2011 Daylight Savings 2011
    Day Light Saving Time Wiki Daylight Saving Time Came Much
    Dst History National History � Chapter
    Daylight Savings Time 2013s Ends Daylight Saving Ends Tomorrow
    Daylight Savings Countries 0ea1a Daylight Savings Time 2013
    <