Islamic State under pressure in Iraqi and Syrian strongholds   
MOSUL, Iraq/RAQQA, Syria (Reuters) - U.S.-backed Iraqi forces pressed Islamic State fighters holding out in Mosul's Old City on Friday, while in Syria the militant group launched a counter-attack against an alliance of militias trying to oust it from its de facto capital of Raqqa.

          Hundreds flee Mosul as Iraqi forces squeeze last pockets of IS resistance   
The areas where government forces are fighting have been under siege for months.
          (بدون عنوان)   

 

Islamic State militants continue to haunt cities in Iraq and Syria officially liberated from their control, while the devastation caused by the fighting poses challenges for restoring basic services, says a new study from the US Military Academy.
Read Full Article at RT.com

          Mesti baca! Nma2 ktab n ulamak yg mesti kta tau!   
Salam pd smua ... lmer bnar x d apdet blog ni ... bkan per ... der r ... hehehe.

Dksmptan ni, aku nk kngsi sket2 ngan tman2 psl, per kitab yg perlu kta smpaikn kpd pnuntut ilmu, secara tertib. Tertib mengajar berdasarkn kitab2 yg akan dsbutkan nanti, bukanlah wjib. Bahkan ia sekadar meletakkn para pndgar sesuai pd tahap ilmu mrk.

Maknanyer, klu mreka dh hbat, maka dpilihlah kitab yg ssuai dgn tahap mrka. Bnyak kekawan aku kata, inilah kebiasaannyer, kitab2 yg dpelajari oleh mreka dpondok guru2 mrk.

Nahu:

Mule2, bg yg nk mle2 blajar tatabahasa Arab, seeloknyer mrk pelajari terlebih dhulu ktab;
1. Ar-Rof'u / ad-Dhom. Bila dh abis bca n pelajari ktab tu, maka dtmbah lg dgn kitab kecil, nama dyer;
2. Matan Ajurrumiah. Yg mnsyarahkn matan ni banyak, antaranyer:
* Mukhtasor Jiddan (tulisan Syeikh Zaini Dahlan)
* Usymawi
* Kifrawi syarah 'Irab Ajurrumiah. Ble dh abis bc syarah2 nier, bca plak ktab2 yg pyh2 sket n prbahasan yg luas sket scra tertib. Antaranya:
3. Kawakib ad-Durriyyah.
4. Syarah Azhari.
5. Qotrunnada. Yg mnsyarahkn Kitab Qotrunnada ni banyak gak. Antaranyer:
* Syarh Qotrunnada (tulisan Syeikh Ibnu Hisham).
6. Syuzur az-Zahab.
7. Matan Alfiah. Yg mnsyarahnyer, pon bnyak jgak. Antaranyer:
* Syarh Ibni 'Aqil
* Audoh al-Masalik
* Al-Asymuni
8. Mughnil Labib.

Sorof:

Klu sorof, seelok nyer bg yg baru nk belajar ilmu ni, seeloknyer dmulakn dgn mmbaca kitab;
1. Matnul Binak. Pas tu, nk power lg, baca plak kitab;
2. Matnul Iziy. Syarah bg matan ni antaranyer:
* Kilani
3. Syarh al-Talkhis Matn al-Binak.

Fiqh asy-Syafie:

Sesuai dgn suasana msyarakat kita d Mlaysia yg bermazhab Syafie, maka bagusnyer kitab yg paling ringkas, mudah dan padat dbac oleh mrk ialah kitab;
1. Safinatun Naja. Pas tu, bca plak kitab;
2. Sittin Masa il. Klu nk mndalam lg, maka dbaca lg kitab;
3. Matn Abi Syuja'. Yg mnsyarahkn matan ni, antaranyer;
* Fathul Qorib.
* Kifayatul Akhyar.
* Iqna'.
Klu nk hbt gi, baca lak kitab;
4. Matn Zubad. Syarah kpd matan ni, antaranyer;
* Ghoyatul Bayan Lil Imam Romli
* Mawahibus Somad
5. Matn Minhaj at-Tolibin. Antara yg mensyarahkn nyer:
* Mughnil Muhtaj
* Syarh Kanzir Roghibin Lil Imam Muhalli. Dan ada kitab yg wat hasyiah nyer yg bernama
Qolyubi wa 'Umairoh.
* Alib tihaj Syarh al-Minhaj

Jap jap. Aku nk cter sket psl sjarah prkmbangan kitab2 yg berkaitan dgn fiqh mazhab Imam Syafie Rohimahullah.

Stahu aku, Mazhab Imam Syafie ni dahulunyer, tersebar pd dua tmpat yg bsar. Iaitu d Khurosan dn di 'Iraq. Ulamak d kdua2 tmpat ni akhirnyer mngarang bbrapa kitab, mnulis berkaitan dgn fiqh Syafie.

Kemudian muncul Imam Haramain Ibnu Juwaini Rohimahullah, bliau mngumpulkn smua fakta berkaitan fiqh Syafie dr kdua2 belah tmpat ni, ddalam ktab beliau yg bernama Nihayah al-Matlo'.

Ada ktab yg meringkaskn kitab bliau ni, nmernyer Mukhtasor al-Muzani.

Selepas itu, Imam Ghazali Rohimahullah berusaha meringkaskn kitab karangan Imam Haramain td satu demi satu. Maka muncul lah kitab al-Basitd, kemudian al-Wasitd, dn akhirnyer al-Wajiz.

Kemudian muncul Imam Rofiie', beliau ringkaskn lgi ktab al-Wajiz td ddlam kitab bliau yg bnama al-Muharror bersama dgan tarjih nyer skali.

Slpas itu, Imam Nawawi Rohimahullah plak meringkaskn lgi ktab al-Muharror td dlm ktabnyer yg bnama Minhaj at-Tolibin. Yg mensyarahkn kitab ni, banyak sekali.

Ok, kbnyakkan ulamak kter, klu dtg khilaf antara Imam Rofiie' dgn Imam Nawawi berkaitan fiqh Syafie, maka kta hndaklah berpegang kpd pndpt Imam Nawawi. Kerana beliau lebih terkemudian dn telah pon mentarjihkn pndpt2 yg sblumny tulisan mengenai fiqh Syafie'.

Tulisan mengenai Fiqh Syafie' trus berkmbang, sehinggalah smpai kpd dua tokoh / pentarjih dlam Mazhab Syafie'. Mereka ialah Imam Romli (Syamsuddin ar-Romli) dan Imam Ibnu Hajar al-Haitami.

Sbgaimana yg kita tau, kdua2 mreka pernah berguru dgn Imam Syihabuddin ar-Romli, iaitu ayah kepada Imam Syamsuddin ar-Romli. Imam Khotib Syarbaini dn Imam Ibnu Qosim al-'Ubadi pon pernh brguru dgn beliau (Imam Syihabuddin ar-Romli).

Imam Syihabuddin ar-Romli pernah bguru plak dengan Syeikh Zakarian al-Ansori dan Imam Ibnu Hajar al-Asqolani.

K, masuk lek cter pasal Imam Romli ngan Imam Ibnu Hajar al-Haitami.
Imam Romli mentarjihkn fiqh Syafie' ddalam kitabnyer yg bernama Nihayatul Muhtaj. Manakala Imam al-Haitami pula mentarjihkan fiqh Syafie' ddalam kitabnyer Tuhfatul Muhtaj. Kitab yg mensyarahkn Kitab Tuhfatul Muhtaj ni ialah Hasyiatani asy-Syirwani dan Ibnu Qosim.

Kebanyakkan masyarakat Malaysia, Indonesia, Hadromaut dan sebahagian Asia yg bermazhab Syafie' lebih cenderung berpegang kepada pendapat Imam Ibnu Hajar al-Haitami. Manakala masyarakat Mesir dan negara2 Arab pula sekitarnya lebih cenderung berpegang kpd Imam Romli.

Ok lah, tentunyer ada khilaf dlm mntarjih fiqh Syafie yg dlakukan oleh kdua2 imam tersebut. Dan perkara ni dsbut di dlm Kitab Ismad al-'Ainain. Biasanyer kitab ni, sekali dicetak dgn Kitab Bughyatul Mustarsyidin, iaitu salah satu daripada kitab yg mmbincangkan pasal fatwa.

Maka, kita nk pegang pd pendpt yg muktamad yg maner? Kita tgok pd Kitab Hasyiah al-Baijuri.

Bg yg cndrung kpd Imam Romli, klu tdapt masalah2 tarjih dlm fiqh Syafie' yg tdk dsbut ddalam kitabnyer Nihayatul Muhtaj, kita leh rujuk kepada Muhgni al-Muhtaj karangan Imam Khotib Syarbaini.

Kbetulan cter pasal ulamak2 ni, kekadang kter cnfius sket nk mmbezakn antara dua Imam Subki. K, Imam Taqiyuddin as-Subki Rohimahullah tu ayah. Manakala, Imam Tajuddin as-Subki Rohimahullah tu anaknyer. Imam Taqiyuddin inilah yg menjadi qodi Mesir ketika Ibnu Taimiyyah masuk ke Mesir.

Salah seorang anak murid Imam Ibnu Taimiyyah plak ialah Ibnu Qoyyim al-Jauziyyah. Sedangkan Ibnu al-Jauzi, pengarang kepada kitab Maudhu 'at tu lain dan bukan anak murid beliau (Imam Ibnu Taimiyyah).

Satu lgi, Imam Ibnu Hajar ni bnyak. Antaranyer, Imam Ibnu Hajar al-'Asqolani, Imam Ibnu Hajar al-Haitami, Imam Ibnu Hajar al-Qustholani dn lain2 lgi. Kter kene teliti sket nma2 mrk.

-bersambung-
          Isis has 'fallen' in Iraq and is now hanging on by a thread in its last stronghold   
Militants launch counter attack on US-backed Kurdish forces advancing on de facto Syrian capital of Raqqa, but days of the caliphate are numbered
          Jonathan Cook: Siria es el dique contra el caos más sangriento   

En un libro, Israel and the Clash of Civilisations, examinaba el deseo de Israel de balcanizar el Medio Oriente usando métodos que había refinado durante muchas décadas en los territorios palestinos ocupados. El objetivo era desatar el caos en gran parte de la región y desestabilizar a los principales estados enemigos: Irán, Irak, Siria y Líbano...

etiquetas: siria, libia, iraq, alqaeda, isis

» noticia original (sirioandaluz.blogspot.ie)


          House panel votes to end war authorization   
Blindsiding leaders in both parties, a House committee on Thursday approved a repeal of the war authorization that the US military relies on to fight the war on terrorism in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and around the globe.

           1/35 Modern US ARMY Uniform Insignia Decal set (ACUPAT & MARPAT)    
1/35 Modern US ARMY Uniform Insignia Decal set (ACUPAT & MARPAT)
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  • Shoulder patches for units deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan
  • Marking for special forces such as Navy Seals, Army Rangers and EOD
  • Flags, blood types and other velcro tags and accessories


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          Ribuan anak masih terjebak di Mosul   
Dana Anak PBB (UNICEF), Kamis (29/6) mengatakan ribuan anak telah terjebak di daerah yang masih dikuasai gerombolan ISIS, di Kota Tua Mosul, Irak. "Anak-anak menghadapi banyak ancaman terhadap keselamatan mereka. Mereka ...
          Islamic State under pressure in Iraqi and Syrian strongholds   
MOSUL, Iraq/RAQQA, Syria (Reuters) - U.S.-backed Iraqi forces pressed Islamic State fighters holding out in Mosul's Old City on Friday, while in Syria the militant group launched a counter-attack against an alliance of militias trying to oust it from its de facto capital of Raqqa.

          Iraq declares end of caliphate after capture of Mosul mosque   

After eight months of grinding urban warfare, Iraqi troops capture the ruined mosque at the heart of Islamic State's de facto capital Mosul, and the Prime Minister declares the group's self-styled caliphate at an end.


          Eating the Globe: Syria   

I was in San Francisco for work and celebrated a productive morning with an out-of-the-way lunch. This is Palmyra.

I got the Kibbi platter, which consists of:
Four shells of mashed cracked wheat stuffed with ground beef, sauteed onions, and pine nuts served with a side of hummus, cucumber salad, pita, garlic sauce, and hot sauce.

The kibbi was/were delicious. Not greasy or heavy at all. My only complaint was that it only came with four pieces.

Countries tried so far:
Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Morocco, Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa
Asia: Afghanistan, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, China, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam, Yemen
Europe: Albania, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden
North America: Belize, Canada, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Trinidad & Tobago, USA
South America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela
Oceania: Australia, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga
          Trump’s Travel Ban Is Back   
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Travelers wait in line near an Emirates ticket counter at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. 

A limited version of President Trump’s controversial travel ban is back in place after the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could impose restrictions on certain foreign travelers and refugees. The constant back-and-forth rulings have created a bureaucratic nightmare for those involved in the refugee resettlement process, and Thursday’s developments promise even more disruption.

While President Trump proclaimed victory, refugee and human rights advocates have been on tenterhooks this week. The high court’s decision was certainly a blow to opponents of the ban, but just how hard that blow is will depend on the Trump administration’s next moves.

The government’s new guidelines would significantly limit the total number of noncitizens and refugees that can enter the country, according to a State Department background briefing Thursday afternoon. The department released its guidance just four hours before the ban is scheduled to go into effect. However, the Department of Homeland Security, which controls border enforcement, has not issued its own guidance on the new policies.

During its short but turbulent existence, two versions of the travel ban have been issued, blocked by federal courts, and now given the go-ahead with certain restrictions. But the Supreme Court decision and the subsequent federal guidelines do not reassure refugees advocates. “Nothing is off the table when it comes to this travel ban,” says Justin Cox, a National Immigration Law Center (NILC) staff attorney. “We can’t assume smooth sailing.”

On Monday, the justices said that they would wait until October to hear two cases regarding Trump’s travel ban. Until then, the high court granted a partial stay to injunctions freezing the controversial executive order, allowing a limited version of the travel ban to go into effect.

Noncitizens who can show they have a “bona fide relationship” with a “person or entity” in the United States will be allowed to enter the country, as will anyone who has already been issued a visa. People who cannot prove that they have a close relationship with a U.S. citizen will be banned from entering the country for 90 days if they are from the six Muslim-majority countries included in the executive order. That time period increases to 120 days for refugees from any country who have not yet received permission to enter the U.S. 

The high court gave a few examples of what constituted a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the U.S., such as visiting a relative or traveling to work or study, but stopped short of providing comprehensive definitions, preferring to leave the work of coming up with more nuanced characterizations to the federal government and lower courts.

But under the new guidelines, relatives only include immediate family members already in the country: parents, spouses, children, adult sons or daughters, sons- or daughters-in-law, and siblings. Grandparents were not included in the guidelines.

Refugees who have already been admitted to the U.S. and are booked to travel before July 6 will be exempt from the ban. A senior administration official said that the fate of those who’ve been booked travel after that date would be addressed at a later time. The briefers also said that establishing valid connections with American entities by refugees would need to be “formal” and “documented”: Simply being connected to a resettlement agency would not be sufficient. Roughly one-third of refugees waiting to be admitted do not have family ties in the United States, according to resettlement agency estimates.

“This is an unduly restrictive approach,” says Eleanor Acer, director of Human Rights First’s Refugee Protection program. “Refugees who go through multiple security entities, are approved by the DHS [Department of Homeland Security], vetted by various government agencies, and have long relationships with resettlement agencies should all be viewed as having requisite bona fide relationships.”

The limited ban could still leave thousands of people in limbo. “This isn’t like postponing a vacation,” says Melanie Nezer, vice president of policy and advocacy at HIAS, a Maryland-based Jewish resettlement agency. “These are life or death situations that refugees could be forced to remain in.”

Of the top 10 countries for total numbers of refugees granted permission to enter the United States during the last fiscal year, only three—Somalia, Syria, and Iran—were listed in Trump’s original executive order. Iraq is also among the top 10, and there are tens of thousands of people who worked with the U.S. government who are waiting to get clearance to resettle in this country. Under these current guidelines, it’s not clear if they would be granted entry.

The reinstated ban has stoked fears of a return to the chaos that played out in airports across the country following the haphazard rollout of Trump’s first executive order.

Naureen Shah, Amnesty International’s senior director of campaigns announced that the organization would be sending researchers to airports to “monitor how the ban is being implemented.”

“There’s going to be massive confusion in airports around the world,” says Acer, who anticipates a heightened legal response to refugees connected to resettlement agencies being blocked from entering the country.

In his partial dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas warned that the court’s decision would “invite a flood of litigation”—a comment that will likely prove prescient in the months to come. Lawsuits challenging the original and updated versions of the travel ban have inundated federal courts.

“I expect that we’ll be back in court soon,” says Cox of the NILC. “No one is going to take this lying down.”

Critics of the ban argue that refugees are already the most rigorously vetted group allowed into the U.S., undergoing a process that can take up to two years or more. “I don’t know how much more extreme the vetting can get, frankly,” says Cornell law professor Stephen Yale-Loehr.

This new wave of uncertainty unfolds at a time when the number of approved refugees approved to enter the U.S. had just started to bounce back after Trump’s initial immigration restrictions. Resettlement numbers plummeted in the wake of Trump’s first two attempted travel bans: In January, the U.S. admitted nearly 7,000 refugees admitted by March that number had declined to just 2,000 in March, according to State Department data

More than 46,000 refugees have been admitted and resettled in the U.S. in fiscal 2017, nearly reaching the 50,000 limit that Trump had specified in his original executive order, but still a long way off from the 110,000 ceiling that the Obama administration had put in place.

The Supreme Court allowed the U.S. to cap refugee arrivals, but justices did not allow the Trump administration to prohibit refugees with bona fide relationships, even if “the 50,000-person cap has been reached or exceeded.”

Officials at HIAS, one of nine agencies that work with the State Department to resettle refugees, were already worried they wouldn’t hit their resettlement targets before the travel ban was reinstated. Even in the “best-case” scenario, the agency expects to resettle 1,400 fewer than they had been approved to resettle at the beginning of the fiscal year. Other resettlement agencies have reported similar drops.

“The program changes on an almost weekly basis,” says Nezer. According to Nezer, these changes in policy can stall refugee case processing. That can often result in medical and security clearances expiring, which in turn creates even lengthier delays.

Trump had originally ordered federal agencies to wait 72 hours after the court’s decision to implement the ban. Trump maintains that the ban is necessary to protect the nation from terrorist activities and praised the court’s decision as “a clear victory for our national security.”


          Iraqi forces capture symbolic Mosul mosque   
Iraqi forces claim they have captured the Grand al-Nuri Mosque from Islamic State. The mosque is where Islamic State first declared a 'caliphate' in 2014.

          SHALAT TARAWIH NABI SHALLALLAHU ALAIHI WA SALLAM DAN SALAFUSH SHALIH   




Shalat tarawih adalah bagian dari shalat nafilah (tathawwu’). Mengerjakannya disunnahkan secara berjama’ah pada bulan Ramadhan, dan sunnah muakkadah. Disebut tarawih, karena setiap selesai dari empat rakaat, para jama’ah duduk untuk istirahat.
Tarawih adalah bentuk jama’ dari tarwihah. Menurut bahasa berarti jalsah (duduk). Kemudian duduk pada bulan Ramadhan setelah selesai dari empat raka’at disebut tarwihah; karena dengan duduk itu, orang-orang bisa istirahat dari lamanya melaksanakan qiyam Ramadhan.

Bahkan para salaf bertumpu pada tongkat, karena terlalu lamanya berdiri. Dari situ,kemudian setiap empat raka’at, disebut tarwihah, dan kesemuanya disebut tarawih secara majaz.
Aisyah Radhiyallahu anhuma ditanya: “Bagaimana shalat Rasul Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam pada bulan Ramadhan?” Dia menjawab, “Beliau tidak pemah menambah -di Ramadhan atau di luarnya- lebih dari 11 raka’at. Beliau shalat empat rakaat, maka jangan ditanya tentang bagusnya dan lamanya. Kemudian beliau shalat 3 raka’at.” [HR Bukhari]
.
Kata ثم (kemudian), adalah kata penghubung yang memberikan makna berurutan, dan adanya jeda waktu.

Rasulullah Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam shalat empat raka’at dengan dua kali salam, kemudian beristirahat. Hal ini berdasarkan keterangan Aisyah Radhiyallahu anhuma, “Adalah Rasulullah melakukan shalat pada waktu setelah selesainya shalat Isya’, hingga waktu fajar, sebanyak 11 raka’at, mengucapkan salam pada setiap dua raka’at, dan melakukan witir dengan saturaka’at.” [HR Muslim].
Juga berdasarkan keterangan Ibn Umar Radhiyallahu anhuma, bahwa seseorang bertanya, “Wahai 

Rasulullah,bagaimana shalat malam itu?” Beliau menjawab,
مَشْنَى مَشْنَى فَإِذَا خِفْتَ الصُّبْحَ فَأَوْتِِرْ بِوَا حِدَةِ
“Yaitu dua raka’at-dua raka’at, maka apabila kamu khawatir (masuk waktu) shubuh, berwitirlah dengan satu raka’at. [HR Bukhari]
Dalam hadits Ibn Umar yang lain disebutkan:
صَلاَةُ الَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ رَكْعَتَانِ رَكْعَتَانِ
“Shalat malam dan siang dua raka’at-dua raka’at”. [HR Ibn Abi Syaibah. Ash Shalah, 309; At Tamhid, 5/251; Al Hawadits, 140-143; Fathul Bari, 4/250; Al Ijabat Al Bahiyyah,18; Al Muntaqa,4/49-51]
FADHILAH SHALAT TARAWIH

1.Hadits Abu Hurairah Radhiyallahu anhu
مَنْ قَامَ رَمَضَانَ اِيْمَانَا وَاحْتِسَابًا غُفِرَ لَهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْذنْبِه
“Barang siapa melakukan qiyam (lail) pada bulan Ramadhan, karena iman dan mencari pahala, maka diampuni untuknya apa yang telah lalu dari dosanya.”

Maksud qiyam Ramadhan, secara khusus, menurut Imam Nawawi adalah shalat tarawih. Hadits ini memberitahukan, bahwa shalat tarawih itu bisa mendatangkan maghfirah dan bisa menggugurkan semua dosa; tetapi dengan syarat karena bermotifkan iman; membenarkan pahala-pahala yang dijanjikan oleh Allah dan mencari pahala tersebut dari Allah. Bukan karena riya’ atau sekedar adat kebiasaan. [Fathul Bari 4/251; Tanbihul Ghafilin 357-458; Majalis Ramadhan, 58; AtTamhid, 3/320; AI Ijabat Al Bahiyyah, 6]

Hadits ini dipahami oleh para salafush shaalih, termasuk oleh Abu Hurairah sebagai anjuran yang kuat dari Rasulullah untuk melakukan qiyam Ramadhan (shalat tarawih, tahajud, dan lain-lain). [At Tamhid, 3/311-317: Sunan Abi Daud, 166]

2. Hadits Abdurrahman bin Auf Radhiyallahu anhu,
إِِنَّ رَمَضَانَ شَهْرٌ فَرَضَ اللَّهُ صِيَامَهُ وَإِنِّي سَنَنْتُ لِلْمُسلِمِيْنَ قِيَامَهُ فَمَنْ صَامَهُ وَقَامَهُ إِعيمَانًا وَاحْتِسَابًا خَرَجَ مِنَْ الذُّنُوبْ كَيَوْم وَلَدَتْهُ أُمُّه
“Sesungguhnya Ramadhan adalah bulan dimana Allah mewajibkan puasanya, dan sesungguhnya aku menyunnahkan qiyamnya untuk orang-orang Islam. Maka barang siapa berpuasa Ramadhan dan qiyam Ramadhan karena iman dan mencari pahala, maka ia (pasti) keluar dari dosa-dosanya sebagaimana pada hari ia dilahirkan oleh ibunya.(HR : Ahmad, Ibnu Majah. Al Bazzar, Abu Ya’la dan Abdur Razzaqmeriwayatkannya dari Abu Hurairah.)
Al Albani berkata, “Yang shahih hanya kalimat yang kedua saja, yang awal dha’if.”[Lihat Sunan lbn Majah, 146,147; AlIjabat Al Bahiyyah, 8-10]

3. Hadits Abu Dzar Radhiyallahu anhu,
مَنْ قَامَ مَعَ اْلإِمَامِ حَتَّى يَنْصَرِفَ كُتِبَ لَهُ قِيَامُ لَيْلَة
“Barang siapa qiyamul lail bersama imam sampai ia selesai, maka ditulis untuknya (pahala) qiyam satu malam (penuh).” [HR Ahmad, Abu Daud, Tirmidzi, Ibn Majah, Nasa’i, dan lain-lain, Hadits shahih. Lihat Al ljabat Al Bahiyyah, 7]
Hadits ini sekaligus juga memberikan anjuran, agar melakukan shalat tarawih secara berjamaah dan mengikuti imam hingga selesai.
Ada sebagian orang berpendapat,shalat Tarawih berjama’ah baru dikerjakan pada zaman khalifah Umar binKhaththab. Benarkah demikian? Mari kita tengok sejarah melalui hadits-hadits serta riwayat-riwayat shahih apa yang terjadi pada zaman Nabi dan bagaimana yang terjadi pada masa Khulafa’ur Rasyidin.

SHALAT TARAWIH PADA ZAMAN NABI SHALLALLAHU ALAIHI WA SALLAM

Nabi Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam telah melaksanakan dan memimpin shalat tarawih. Bahkan beliau Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam menjelaskan fadhilahnya, dan menyetujui jama’ah tarawih yang dipimpin oleh sahabat Ubay bin Ka’ab. Berikut ini adalah dalil-dalil yang menjelaskan, bahwa shalat tarawih secara berjama’ah disunnahkan oleh Nabi Shalallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, dan dilakukan secara khusyu’ dengan bacaan yang panjang.
1.      Hadits Nu’man bin Basyir, Radhiyallahu anhu : Ia berkata: “Kami melaksanakan qiyamul lail (tarawih) bersama Rasulullah Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam pada malam 23 bulan Ramadhan, sampai sepertiga malam. Kemudian kami shalat lagi bersama beliau pada malam 25 Ramadhan (berakhir) sampai separoh malam. Kemudian beliau memimpin lagi pada malam 27 Ramadhan sampai kami menyangka tidak akan sempat mendapati sahur.” [HR. Nasa’i, Ahmad, Al Hakim. Shahih]
2.      Hadits Abu Dzar Radhiyallahu anhu : Ia berkata: “Kami puasa, tetapi Nabi Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam tidak memimpin kami untuk melakukan shalat (tarawih), hingga Ramadhan tinggal tujuh hari lagi, maka Rasulullah Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam mengimami kami shalat, sampai lewat sepertiga malam. Kemudian beliau tidak keluar lagi pada malam ke enam. Dan pada malam ke lima,beliau memimpin shalat lagi sampai lewat separoh malam. Lalu kami berkata kepada Rasulullah Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, ‘Seandainya engkau menambah lagi untuk kami sisa malam kita ini?’, maka beliau Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam bersada,

3.      مَنْ قَامَ مَعَ اْلإِمَامِ حَتَّى يَنْصَرِفَ كُتِبَ لَهُ قِيَامُ لَيْلَة

Barang siapa shalat (tarawih) bersama imam sampai selesai. maka ditulis untuknya shalat satu malam (suntuk).’
Kemudian beliau ٍShallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam tidak memimpin shalat lagi, hingga Ramadhan tinggal tiga hari. Maka beliau memimpin kami shalat pada malam ketiga. Beliau mengajak keluarga dan istrinya. Beliau mengimami sampai kami khawatir tidak mendapat falah. saya (perawi) bertanya, apa itu falah? Dia (Abu Dzar) berkata, “Sahur.”[HR Nasai, Tirmidzi, Ibn Majah, Abu Daud, Ahmad. Shahih]
3        Tsa’labah bin Abi Malik Al Qurazhi Radhiyallahu anhu berkata: “Pada suatu malam, di malam Ramadhan, Rasulullah Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam keluar rumah, kemudian beliau melihat sekumpulan orang disebuah pojok masjid sedang melaksanakan shalat. Beliau lalu bertanya, ‘Apa yang sedang mereka lakukan?’ Seseorang menjawab, ‘Ya Rasulullah, sesungguhnya mereka itu adalah orang-orang yang tidak membaca Al Qur’an, sedang Ubay bin Ka’ab ahli membaca Al Qur’an, maka mereka shalat (ma’mum) dengan shalatnya Ubay.’ Beliau lalu bersabda,
قَدْ أَحْسَنُوْا وَقَدْ أَصَابُوْا
‘Mereka telah berbuat baik dan telah berbuat benar.’ Beliau tidak membencinya.”[HR Abu Daud dan Al Baihaqi, ia berkata: Mursal hasan. Syaikh Al Albani berkata, “Telah diriwayatkan secara mursal dari jalan lain dari Abu Hurairah,dengan sanad yang tidak bermasalah (bisa diterima).”. [Shalat At Tarawih, 9]

SHALAT TARAWIH PADA ZAMAN KHULAFA’UR RASYIDIN
1.      Para sahabat Rasulullah, shalat tarawih di masjid Nabawi pada malam-malam Ramadhan secara awza’an (berpencar-pencar). Orang yang bisa membaca Al Qur’an ada yang mengimami 5 orang, ada yang 6 orang, ada yang lebih sedikit dari itu, dan ada yang lebih banyak. Az Zuhri berkata, “Ketika Rasulullah Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam wafat, orang-orang shalat tarawih dengan cara seperti itu. Kemudian pada masa Abu Bakar, caranya tetap seperti itu; begitu pula awal khalifah Umar.”
2.      Abdurrahman bin Abdul Qari’ berkata, “Saya keluar ke masjid bersama Umar Radhiyallahu anhu pada bulan Ramadhan. Ketika itu orang-orang berpencaran; ada yang shalat sendirian, dan ada yang shalat dengan jama’ah yang kecil (kurang dari sepuluh orang). Umar berkata, ‘Demi Allah, saya melihat (berpandangan),seandainya mereka saya satukan di belakang satu imam, tentu lebih utama,’ Kemudian beliau bertekad dan mengumpulkan mereka di bawah pimpinan Ubay bin Ka’ab. Kemudian saya keluar lagi bersama beliau pada malam lain. Ketika itu orang-orang sedang shalat di belakang imam mereka. Maka Umar Radhiyallahu anhu berkata,’Ini adalah sebaik-baik hal baru.’ Dan shalat akhir malam nanti lebih utama dari shalat yang mereka kerjakan sekarang.” Peristiwa ini terjadi pada tahun 14H.
3.      Umar Radhiyallahu anhu mengundang para qari’ pada bulan Ramadhan, lalu memberi perintah kepada mereka agar yang paling cepat bacaanya membaca 30 ayat (+/- 3 halaman), dan yang sedang agar membaca 25 ayat,adapun yang pelan membaca 20 ayat (+ 2 halaman).
4.      Al A’raj (seorang tabi’in Madinah,wafat 117 H) berkata, ;”Kami tidak mendapati orang-orang, melainkan mereka sudah melaknat orang kafir (dalam do’a) pada bulan Ramadhan.” la berkata, “Sang qari’ (imam) membaca ayat Al Baqarah dalam 8 raka’at. Jika ia telah memimpin 12 raka’at, (maka) barulah orang-orang merasa kalau imam meringankan.”
5.      Abdullah bin Abi Bakr berkata, “Saya mendengar bapak saya berkata,’Kami sedang pulang dari shalat (tarawih) pada malam Ramadhan. Kami menyuruh pelayan agar cepat-cepat menyiapkan makanan, karena takut tidak mendapat sahur’. ”
6.      Saib bin Yazid rahimahullah (Wafat 91 H) berkata, “Umar Radhiyallahu anhu memerintah Ubay bin Ka’ab dan Tamim Ad Dari Radhiyallahu anhuma agar memimpin shalat tarawih pada bulan Ramadhan dengan 11 raka’at. Maka sang qari’ membaca dengan ratusan ayat, hingga kita bersandar pada tongkat karena sangat lamanya berdiri. Maka kami tidak pulang dari tarawih, melainkan sudah di ujung fajar.” [Fathul Bari, 4/250-254; Shalat At Tarawih, 11; Al ljabat Al Bahiyyah,15-18; Al Majmu’, 4/34]

BILANGAN RAKA’AT SHALAT TARAWIH DAN SHALAT WITIR

Mengenai masalah ini, diantara para ulama salaf terdapat perselisihan yang cukup banyak (variasinya) hingga mencapai belasan pendapat, sebagaimana di bawah ini.
1.      Sebelas raka’at (8 + 3 Witir),riwayat Malik dan Said bin Manshur.
2.      Tiga belas raka’at (2 raka’atringan + 8 + 3 Witir), riwayat Ibnu Nashr dan Ibnu Ishaq, atau (8 + 3 + 2),atau (8 + 5) menurut riwayat Muslim.
3.      Sembilan belas raka’at (16 + 3).
4.      Dua puluh satu raka’at (20 + 1),riwayat Abdurrazzaq.
5.      Dua puluh tiga raka’at (20 + 3),riwayat Malik, Ibn Nashr dan Al Baihaqi. Demikian ini adalah madzhab Abu Hanifah,Syafi’i, Ats Tsauri, Ahmad, Abu Daud dan Ibnul Mubarak.
6.      Dua puluh sembilan raka’at (28 +1).
7.      Tiga puluh sembilan raka’at (36 +3), Madzhab Maliki, atau (38 + 1).
8.      Empat puluh satu raka’at (38 +3), riwayat Ibn Nashr dari persaksian Shalih Mawla Al Tau’amah tentang shalatnya penduduk Madinah, atau (36 + 5) seperti dalam Al Mughni 2/167.
9.      Empatpuluh sembilan raka’at (40 +9); 40 tanpa witir adalah riwayat dari Al Aswad Ibn Yazid.
10.  Tiga puluh empat raka’at tanpa witir (di Basrah, Iraq).
11.  Dua puluh empat raka’at tanpa witir (dari Said Ibn Jubair).
12.  Enam belas raka’at tanpa witir.

BERAPA RAKA’AT TARAWIH RASULULLAH SHALLALLAHU A’ALAIHI WA SALLAM ?
 
Rasulullah Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam telah melakukan dan memimpin shalat tarawih, terdiri dari sebelas raka’at (8 +3). Dalilnya sebagai berikut.
1.      Hadits Aisyah Radhiyallahu anhuma : ia ditanya oleh Abu Salamah Abdur Rahman tentang qiyamul lailnya Rasul pada bulan Ramadhan, ia menjawab:
إنَّهُ كَانَ لاَ يَزِيْدُ فِي رَمَضَانَ وَلاَ فِي غَيْرِهِ عَلَى إِحْدَى عَشْرَةَ
“Sesungguhnya beliau tidak pernah menambah pada bulan Ramadhan, atau pada bulan lainnya. lebih dari sebelas raka’at. [HR Bukhari, Muslim]
Ibn Hajar berkata, “Jelas sekali, bahwa hadits ini menunjukkan shalatnya Rasul (adalah) sama semua di sepanjang tahun.”
2.      Hadits Jabir bin Abdillah Radhiyallahu anhu ia berkata: “Rasulullah Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam shalat dengan kami pada bulan Ramadhan 8 raka’at dan witir. Ketika malam berikutnya, kami berkumpul di masjid dengan harapan beliau shalat dengan kami. Maka kami terus berada di masjid hingga pagi, kemudian kami masuk bertanya, “Ya Rasulullah, tadi malam kami berkumpul di masjid, berharap anda shalat bersama kami,” maka beliau bersabda, “Sesungguhnya aku khawatir diwajibkan atas kalian. “[HR Thabrani, Ibnu Hibban dan Ibnu Huzaimah, dihasankan oleh Al Albani. ShalatAt Tarawih, 18; Fath Al Aziz 4/265]
3.      Pengakuan Nabi Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam tentang 8 raka’atdan 3 witir. Ubay bin Ka’ab datang kepada Rasulullah, lalu berkata,”Ya Rasulullah, ada sesuatu yang saya kerjakan tadi malam (Ramadhan). Beliau bertanya,”Apa itu, wahai Ubay?” Ia menjawab,”Para wanita di rumahku berkata,’Sesungguhnya kami ini tidak membaca Al Qur’an. Bagaimana kalau kami shalat dengan shalatmu?’ Ia berkata,”Maka saya shalat dengan mereka 8 raka’at dan witir. Maka hal itu menjadi sunnah yang diridhai. Beliau Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam tidak mengatakan apa-apa.”[HR Abu Ya’la, Thabrani dan Ibn Nashr, dihasankan oleh Al Haitsami dan Al Albani. Lihat Shalat At-Tarawih, 68].
Adapun hadits-hadits yang menjelaskan bahwa Rasulullah shalat tarawih dengan 20 raka’at, maka haditsnya tidak ada yang shahih. [Fathul Bari, 4/254; Al Hawi. 1/413; Al Fatawa Al Haditsiyah, 1.195: ShalatAt Tarawih, 19-21]

BERAPA RAKAAT TARAWIH SAHABAT DAN TABIIN PADA MASA UMAR RADHIYALLAHU ANHU?
 
Ada beberapa riwayat shahih tentang bilangan raka’at shalat tarawih para sahabat pada zaman Umar Radhiyallahu anhu . Yaitu: 11 raka’at, 13 raka’at, 21 raka’at, dan 23 raka’at. Kemudian 39 raka’at juga shahih, pada masa Khulafaur Rasyidin setelah Umar; tetapi hal ini khusus di Madinah. Berikut keterangan pada masa Umar
1.      Sebelas raka’at.
Umar Radhiyallahu anhu memerintahkan kepada Ubay danTamim Ad Dari Radhiyallahu anhuma untuk shalat 11 raka’at. Mereka membaca ratusan ayat, sampai makmum bersandar pada tongkat karena kelamaan dan selesai hampir Subuh. Demikian ini riwayat Imam Malik dari Muhammad bin Yusuf dari Saib Ibn Yazid. Imam Suyuthi dan Imam Subkhi menilai, bahwa hadits ini sangat shahih. Syaikh Al Albani juga menilai, bahwa hadits ini shahih sekali.
2.      Tiga belas raka’at.
Semua perawi dari Muhammd Ibn Yusuf mengatakan 11 raka’at, kecuali Muhammad Ibn Ishaq. Ia berkata 13 raka’at (HR Ibn Nashr), akan tetapi hadits ini sesuai dengan hadits ‘Aisyah yang mengatakan 11 raka’at. Hal ini bisa dipahami, bahwa termasuk dalam bilangan itu ialah 2 raka’at shalat Fajar, atau 2 raka’at pemula yang ringan, atau 8 raka’at ditambah 5 raka’at Witir.
3.      Dua puluh raka’at (ditambah 1 atau 3 raka’at Witir).
Abdur Razzaq meriwayatkan dari Muhammad Ibn Yusuf dengan lafadz “21 raka’at” (sanad shahih). Al Baihaqi dalam As Sunan dan Al Firyabi dalam Ash Shiyam meriwayatkan dari jalur Yazid Ibn Khushaifah dari SaibIbn Yazid, bahwa mereka- pada zaman Umar di bulan Ramadhan shalat tarawih 20 raka’at. Mereka membaca ratusan ayat, dan bertumpu ‘pada tongkat pada zaman Utsman, karena terlalu lama berdiri.

Riwayat ini dishahihkan oleh Imam Al Nawawi, Al Zaila’i, Al Aini, Ibn Al Iraqi, Al Subkhi, As Suyuthi, Syaikh Abdul Aziz bin Bazz, dan lain-lain.
Sementara itu Syaikh Al Albani menganggap, bahwa dua riwayat ini bertentangan dengan riwayat sebelumnya, tidak bisa dijama’ (digabungkan). Maka beliau memakai metode tarjih (memilih riwayat yang shahih dan meninggalkan yang lain). Beliau menyatakan, bahwa Muhammad Ibn Yusuf perawi yang tsiqah tsabit (sangat terpercaya), telah meriwayatkan dari Saib Ibn Yazid 11 raka’at. Sedangkan Ibn Khushaifah yang hanya pada peringkat tsiqah (terpercaya) meriwayatkan 21 raka’at. Sehingga hadits Ibn Khushaifah ini -menurut beliau-adalah syadz (asing, menyalahi hadits yang lebih shahih). [Al Majmu’, 4/32; Shalat At Tarawih, 46; Al Ijabat Al Bahiyyah. 16-18]
          Hundreds flee Mosul as Iraqi forces squeeze last pockets of IS resistance   
The areas where government forces are fighting have been under siege for months.
          Rare white lion celebrates first birthday in Baghdad zoo   
A zoo in Iraq is rearing a white lion cub and officials say they're hoping to welcome another one of the unusual big cats in the coming month.

          American Pravda: Alexander Cockburn and the British Spies   
About a decade ago I'd gotten a little friendly with the late Alexander Cockburn, one of America's premier radical journalists and the founder of Counterpunch, a leading leftist webzine. With virtually all of America's mainstream media outlets endlessly cheerleading for the total insanity of our Iraq War, Counterpunch was a port in the storm, and...
          Bret Stephens and MSNBC’s hiring spree: The network keeps moving right   


Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

Update: MSNBC and Greta Van Susteren have agreed to part ways.

MSNBC is now a pasture for pseudo-intellectual conservatives. Climate denier and Iraq War booster Bret Stephens is just the latest right-wing hire at the network.

In recent months NBC News Chairman Andy Lack has overseen a hiring spree of right-wing pundits and former Fox News personalities. The stable includes Hugh Hewitt, Megyn Kelly, Charlie Sykes, Greta Van Susteren, and George Will. They join other conservatives at the network: Elise Jordan, Steve Schmidt, Michael Steele, Rick Tyler, Nicolle Wallace, and former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough. This is to say nothing of NBC News contributor and Trump apologist Mark Halperin; and given their frequent appearances, it may be just a matter of time until David Frum, a speechwriter for then-President George W. Bush, former George W. Bush chief of staff Andy Card, and neocon Bill Kristol join the network as well.

Compared to CNN’s boorish Trumpists or the state media apparatchiks at Fox News, the common thread among MSNBC conservatives is a certain pretentious shine. They’re frequently just arguing that President Donald Trump is the wrong type of conservative, when in fact Trump is the apotheosis of everything conservatism has been careening toward for some time. (The exception is Hugh Hewitt, who is now just a huge Trump booster after vacillating during the campaign.) 

Many of these hires have direct, intimate connections to Bush, the most disastrous president in decades. Card, Frum, Jordan, and Wallace worked in the Bush administration, and Stephens, Kristol, Will, Scarborough, and Hewitt were all huge cheerleaders for the Iraq War. And that history matters. Two major media institutions, including a newspaper of record, are now paying Stephens essentially just to troll liberals with climate denial and to push America towards a war with Iran.

You can separate Lack’s hiring spree into two buckets: pundits and brands. Neither offer much value in the long run. In this media environment, opinions are cheap (including mine!). Everyone has one and most of them stink. There’s no long-term return on opinions (and no lack of people wanting to get on TV to share theirs).

Adding brands like Megyn Kelly or Greta Van Susteren is equally pointless. It’s no wonder that both of these shows have failed. There’s simply no audience for them outside the Fox News bubble. Particularly with Kelly, NBC News executives seem completely unaware that her entire show at Fox News was built around racial dog-whistling (with occasional moments of bucking the party line).

Also, as Ryan Grim noted, it is the progressive shows that Lack hasn’t touched that are succeeding the most.

Rather than spending all this money on right-wing pundits and big names, the true value-add for news networks now is reliable and aggressive journalism. That’s hard to do. It’s expensive. It’s time-consuming. But it’s ultimately what will define NBC News and MSNBC.


           Gunfire cuts short celebrations at recaptured Mosul mosque    
Iraqi soldiers snap victorious "selfies" and pose with a captured Islamic State group flag at the Mosul mosque where jihadist chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi once...
           Hundreds flee Mosul as Iraqi forces squeeze last pockets of IS resistance    
The areas where government forces are fighting have been under siege for months.
           Hundreds flee Mosul as Iraqi forces squeeze extremists    
MOSUL, Iraq (AP) - Hundreds of civilians fled Mosul's Old City on Friday as Iraqi forces slowly squeezed the last pockets of Islamic State resistance, and...
          Manic Monday   
           Iraqi forces close in on IS redoubt in Mosul after declaring end of caliphate    
By Stephen KalinMOSUL, Iraq, June 30 (Reuters) - U.S.-backed Iraqi forces attacked Islamic State's remaining redoubt in Mosul's Old City on Friday, a day...
          6/30/2017: WORLD: Iraq takes back key al-Nuri mosque   

MOSUL, IRAQ— Iraq’s Prime Minister declared an end to the Daesh caliphate Thursday after Iraqi forces captured the compound of a landmark mosque in Mosul that was blown up last week by Daesh, also known as ISIS or ISIL. “We are seeing the end of the...
          6/30/2017: WORLD: Iraq mission extended to 2019   
OTTAWA— The defence minister announced Thursday that Canada’s military mission in Iraq would be extended by another two years, to March 31, 2019, with a new focus on training Iraqi security forces, despite their troubled record of human rights...
          6/30/2017: NEWS: Let’s not cheer sniper shot   
A Canadian soldier now holds the world record for longest fatal shot by a sniper, after killing a Daesh fighter in Iraq from a distance of over 3.5 kilometres. Justin Trudeau, discussing the record last week, said it was “something to be celebrated...
          Hundreds flee Mosul as Iraqi forces squeeze extremists   

Hundreds of civilians fled Mosul's Old City on Friday as Iraqi forces slowly squeezed the last pockets of Islamic State resistance, and the U.N. warned that the "intense and concentrated" fighting put innocent lives in even greater danger.

People climbed over mounds of rubble and through narrow...


          6/30/2017: GREATER TORONTO AREA: ‘We feel Canada is our own country’   

It was just half a year ago that Jasim Mado and his wife Marjan were living in Turkey, having fled Iraq after Daesh attacked their hometown of Nineveh. They never would have dreamed the only violence they’d soon be hiding from would involve snowball...
          Iraqi leader declares end to Islamic State caliphate but fight goes on   

With anti-Islamic State group forces on the offensive in both the Iraqi city of Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa, Iraq's prime minister on Thursday declared an end to the extremist group's self-proclaimed caliphate.

But even as Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi made the bold assertion, deadly fighting...


          Body Language Analysis No. 3983: Female Kurdish sniper fighting IS narrowly cheats death - Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence (VIDEO, PHOTOS)   



This sniper, fighting in Raqqa, is a member of a Kurdish YPJ (Women's Protection Unit). Incredibly, less than a second after she pulls her trigger - another bullet (fired by her enemy, the Islamic State, aka IS) narrowly misses her head.

































For a split second afterwards, the female sniper's eyes open very widely. This action is secondary to the adrenaline surge of her near death experience.

Notice also how her tongue rapidly sticks outward. This is known as a "Tongue Jut" - and more specifically, this variation is a "Loose Tongue Jut". A loose tongue jut is an example of nonverbal self-deprecating behavior. It's a way of calling one's self out after a mistake - as if to say, "I've done a foolish thing" or "I've (almost) been caught".

Why did the sniper laugh - and so quickly - after almost being killed?

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See also:

Body Language Analysis No. 3982: Bangkok Police Officer's De-Escalation Genius

Body Language Analysis No. 3979: Ivanka Trump, "I Try to Stay Out of Politics"

Body Language Analysis No. 3977: Anthony Kennedy - One Signal You Never Want to See From a Judge During Your Testimony

Body Language Analysis No. 3975: Travis Kalanick and Sheryl Sandberg - and Uber's Need for Empathy, Sincerity, and Emotional Intelligence

Body Language Analysis No. 3973: Alex Jones, Megyn Kelly, and a Fundamental Insincerity Tell

Body Language Analysis No. 3939: The Russians are Confident - Sergey Lavrov, Rex Tillerson, and Donald Trump

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3897: Roger Stone, Donald Trump, Body Language and Emotional Intelligence

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3843: 84 Lumber Super Bowl Ad - "The Entire Journey"

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3707: The Presidential Debates Part III - Donald Trump v. Hillary Clinton and Sniffing


_____________________________________________________________________________________

             
A picture named lostCause.jpgA question for the President and his supporters. How's the search for Osama bin Laden going? When should we expect him to be captured and put on trial? Is that still the plan? In what way is the war in Iraq helping or hurting the attempt to disable al Qaeda?
             
A picture named peasInAPod.jpgBTW, the basic reason to vote against Bush: His is a failed Presidency. That's going to become painfully obvious when they try to hold elections in Iraq in January. The people holding the elections will control none of the country. Meanwhile, the US deficit grows to fund this miserable no-win war, jobs move overseas, the US economy is serving the upper class more and more, and the people who voted for Bush on the ridiculous promise that they too could be part of the upper class, will feel like they screwed themselves. They will have screwed the rest of us too. Never has a ticket had so little to offer as George Bush and Dick Cheney do. They're the shame of this country, and if we re-elect them we totally deserve what we get. IMHO.
          Author Rues the “Triumph of Cynicism over Integrity”   

In his book titled Eminent Disdain: The Triumph of Cynicism over Integrity in 21st Century America (AuthorHouse, 2009), businessman and political independent Bromwell Ault takes the politically conscious back to the previous decade, to America's most pressing issues of the time. -   - Eminent Disdain explores the issues that remain persistent challenges for whoever sits in the White House or dominate the Congress: the Iraq War (the most notable error of the younger Bush's presidency), th...

Read the full story at http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=210312


          Llegan a España procedentes de Grecia 184 refugiados, de los que 164 son de nacionalidad siria y 20 de nacionalidad iraquí   

Viernes, 30 de junio de 2017 - En España

Un total de 184 refugiados han llegado este viernes a España procedentes de Grecia en cumplimiento del programa de la Unión Europea de reubicación creado para hacer frente a las consecuencias humanitarias de la guerra de Siria. Este grupo, el más numeroso de los llegados a nuestro país hasta el momento, está integrado por 164 personas de nacionalidad siria y 20 de nacionalidad iraquí, de...


          Snippet of economic data on ISIS June 2017   
...
New analysis from IHS Markit’s Conflict Monitor shows that while at the height of its powers Isis controlled 90,800 square kilometres (56,421 square miles) of territory, thanks to aggressive US-backed ground and air campaigns across both Syria and Iraq the organisation’s territory has shrunk by 60 per cent to an estimated 36,200 km² (23,000 m²).
Territorial losses have added to financial woes: while in the second quarter of 2015 Isis’ average monthly revenue was estimated to be $81m (£63m), by the same period in 2017 it had fallen to $16m (£12m) – a reduction of 80 per cent.
While Isis has always relied heavily on excessive taxation, fines and often outright stealing from populations under its control – never a reliable source of income – its oil revenue is also down 88 per cent, IHS Markit said.....
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-mosul-defeat-latest-iraq-caliphate-al-nuri-mosque-extinction-survival-islamic-extremists-a7814866.html

          Mosul, el ejército iraquí reconquista la mezquita de al-Nouri. ...   

A tres años de la proclamación del “Califato”, la coalición árabe-kurda retoma el control del lugar de culto. Premier iraquí: la recuperación del sitio marca el fin de fantasma de Daesh”. Vocero militar de los EEUU: la caída de la ciudad es cuestión “de días, en vez de semanas”.  


          Comment on Qatar Looks to Iran and Iraq by Giorgio Cafiero   
You are incorrect. The article published originally said Persian Gulf in the second sentence and "Arabian Gulf" nowhere. There was a post-publication edit in this article to correct a typo which had nothing to do with the Persian Gulf's name. It's unclear to me what you are trying to achieve by falsely claiming that this original publication did not use the name Persian Gulf and/or did use the name "Arabian Gulf" (both of which are false claims).
          Comment on Qatar Looks to Iran and Iraq by Persian Gulf   
Giorgio Cafiero, Looks like the article is edited, since our comments were posted, hence you now see Persian gulf there. Thanks to our comments maybe?
          Comment on The Real Security Threats on Iran’s Periphery by James Canning   
The US vastly increased instability in the Middle East with its idiotic invasion of Iraq in 2003. Many of those who so foolishly called for that invasion also promote increased hostility toward Iran.
          Comment on Qatar Looks to Iran and Iraq by Giorgio Cafiero   
Clearly neither of you two got as far as the second sentence before you started complaining in the comments section.
          On This Day   
June 30 ...

In 1859 French acrobat Blondin (born Jean Francois Gravelet) crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope as 5,000 spectators watched. In 1906 the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act became law. In 1908 the "Tunguska event" occurred when a meteorite exploded over Siberia, completely leveling about 800 square miles of forest. In 1921 President Harding appointed former President Taft Chief Justice of the United States. In 1934 Adolf Hitler began his "blood purge" of political and military leaders in Germany. In 1936 the novel Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell was published in New York. In 1962 Los Angeles Dodger Hall-of-Famer Sandy Koufax pitched his first no-hitter in a game with the New York Mets. In 1963 Pope Paul VI was crowned the 262nd head of the Roman Catholic Church. In 1971 a Soviet space mission ended in tragedy when three cosmonauts aboard Soyuz 11 were found dead inside their spacecraft after it had returned to Earth; also on this day, the 26th Amendment to the Constitution, lowering the minimum voting age to 18, was ratified when Ohio became the 38th state to approve it. In 1984 John Turner was sworn in as Canada's 17th prime minister, succeeding Pierre Elliott Trudeau. In 1985 39 American hostages from a hijacked TWA jetliner were freed in Beirut after being held 17 days. In 2004 a federal appeals court approved an antitrust settlement Microsoft had negotiated with the Justice Department; also on this day, the Iraqis took legal custody of Saddam Hussein and 11 of his top lieutenants, a first step toward the ousted dictator's expected trial for crimes against humanity; and, after nearly seven years of travel, the international Cassini spacecraft entered Saturn's orbit.
          Books I Read   
Below, you will find a list of all the books I read between the 2008-2011. I link to those I recommend.



Adult Non-Fiction


Adult Fiction


Adult Religious


Young Adult [Note: These titles vary greatly in recommended grade levels. Review carefully before assigning to students.]

          Hero Week Day 4 – Brandon Van Parys   

Brandon J. Van Parys, Lance Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, 20, of New Tripoli, formerly of Schwenksville, was killed Feb. 5, 2007, when he was struck by a grenade while on patrol in Al-Anbar Province in Iraq. He was a member of the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force.  ...
[ Read more ]

The post Hero Week Day 4 – Brandon Van Parys appeared first on CORPS FITNESS.


          Hero Week Day 3 – Loggins & Coffey   

Marine Lance Corporal Adam Loggins, of the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marineswas killed while serving in Iraq.   He is described as a fun-loving young man who was serious about serving his country as a Marine.   He was motivated to join the Marines after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and was determined to do his part...
[ Read more ]

The post Hero Week Day 3 – Loggins & Coffey appeared first on CORPS FITNESS.


          US Has Plans To Partition Iraq & Syria   
Now that Iraqi troops have succeeded in seizing the ruins of Mosul’s grand mosque from ISIS, serious questions have been raised about the role of the United States who have long  claimed to be fighting [...]
          Iraqi PM Declares End of ISIS Caliphate in Iraq   
The Iraqi prime minister has declared that ISIS’s caliphate ‘has fallen’ after a huge symbolic victory in Mosul. Haider al-Abadi said the end to Daesh’s “state of falsehood” followed the recapture of the historical Grand [...]
          Up Close and Personal with George W. Bush's Horrifying Legacy   
The Iraq disaster remains George W. Bush's enduring folly, and the Republican attempt to shift the blame to the Obama presidency is obscene nonsense. This was, and will always be, viewed properly as Bush's quagmire, a murderous killing field based on blatant lies. This showcase of American deceit, obvious to the entire world, began with...
          Iraqi Prime Minister declares end to IS caliphate    
Iraq's Prime Minister is declaring an end to the Islamic State group's self-proclaimed caliphate after Iraqi forces captured the compound of a landmark mosque in Mosul that was blown up last week.
          I-95 bridge to be dedicated in memory of fallen Marine with Harford, Cecil ties   

Dale Burger Jr. grew up in Harford County and later lived in Cecil County prior to his 2004 death at age 21 while fighting in the Iraq war. On Saturday morning, folks from both sides of the Susquehanna River and beyond will gather in Perryville to remember the Marine corporal for whom the bridge carrying Route 222 over Interstate 95 is being named in his honor.


          THIS JUST IN! THE REAL SHADY'S BACK!   
BULLY BOY PRESS &   CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL AID TABLE

PROFESSIONAL CON ARTIST BARBARA LEE IS BACK.


Whoa. My amdt to sunset 2001 AUMF was adopted in DOD Approps markup! GOP & Dems agree: a floor debate & vote on endless war is long overdue.




''WOAH!' INDEED.


A DEBATE IS LONG OVERDUE -- IN PART BECAUSE BARBARA LEE REFUSED TO CALL OUT FORMER CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O FOR 8 YEARS.

NOW SHE THINKS SHE CAN SLINK-SLINKY BACK IN WITHOUT ANYONE NOTICING.

REACHED FOR COMMENT, LEE INSISTED SHE WAS TOO BUSY TO TALK, SHE WAS A TAG SALE ON CORRINE BROWN'S WIGS BEFORE CONNIE GOES TO THE BIG HOUSE.


FROM THE TCI WIRE:

The truth is the battle continues.

But the truth is tossed to the side by the immature.

That would include those who lap at the crotches of military men (they themselves haven't usually served ever).



MOSUL LIBERATED has fallen in Lions of Iraqi forces retake the city of Mosul from ISIS completely.







Those are the heroes?


I would think the people of Mosul who managed to survive three years of being occupied by the Islamic State would be the heroes.

You know, the people the Iraqi government abandoned for over two years?

The ones the Iraqi government made no effort to assist or help?




Reality: It's day 249 of The Mosul Slog.

It could end today.

It might not.

But as of right now, it continues.



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"How will Hillary celebrate?"
"THIS JUST IN! HILLARY WEEK IS COMING UP!"


IRAQ: With anti-Islamic State group forces on the offensive in both the Iraqi city of Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa, Iraq’s prime minister yesterday declared an end to the extremist group’s selfproclaimed caliphate. But even as Prime Minister...
          Chicago Gun Violence Epidemic Gets Federal Assistance   
chicago

Chicago's notoriously poor handling of gun legislation has left the city with an embarrassing new nickname: Chiraq.

The post Chicago Gun Violence Epidemic Gets Federal Assistance appeared first on The Constitution.


          Great Mosque Captured in Mosul; Over 975 Killed in Iraq   

With the Eid over, reports of casualties in Iraq resumed.

The post Great Mosque Captured in Mosul; Over 975 Killed in Iraq appeared first on Antiwar.com Original.


          [wanabidii] News Digest: Here's how GST will affect your dating game   
THE TIMES OF INDIA
Thursday, June 29, 2017
Today's Headlines

Here's how GST will affect your dating game
As India prepares for its midnight tryst with GST on Friday, your dating game may see a change come July, with pretty much everything you indulge in during your romantic rendezvous coming under the new tax regime.

GST will be India's 'economic freedom': Anil Ambani
Ambani said the world has seen nothing like this before and in less than 48 hours, India will emerge as the biggest free and democratic market in the history of humankind. He also said there are moments in the life of a nation when history is made not in small steps of incremental gain but in giant leaps of ambition.

Only the brave will take on Air India: Anand Mahindra
Media reports have speculated that Tata Group could buy a stake in Air India, which it owned before the carrier was nationalised nearly 70 years ago. Tata is yet to comment. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is to head a committee to decide the quantum of Air India disinvestment

More Business News»

Ice-free areas of Antarctica to increase by 2100: Study
Ice-free areas may increase in Antarctica by 25 per cent due to climate change, leading to drastic changes in the continent's biodiversity, a study warns. They found the melting ice could create up to 17,000 square kilometre of new ice-free area across Antarctica.

Rare Siamese crocodile eggs found in Cambodia
Conservationists have found a nest with 19 eggs from one of the world's most endangered crocodiles. It is boosting hopes for species threatened by poachers and habitat loss. Researchers believe only 400 adults still exist in the wild, the baby crocodiles will be raised at a conservation centre

Iraqi zoo gives rare glimpse of white lion
An Iraqi zoo showed off a rare white lion cub to mark the animal's first birthday this week, as officials revealed that they hoped to welcome another of the rare big cats in the coming weeks.

More Environment News»

Iraq military says it has retaken iconic Mosul mosque

China 'highly alarmed' after reports of Australian spying

Donald Trump: Different strokes

More World News»

In rural Kentucky, solar eclipse preparation keeps town busy

NASA's quieter supersonic jet closer to reality
The US space agency completed the preliminary design review (PDR) of its Quiet Supersonic Transport (QueSST) aircraft design. QueSST is the initial design stage of NASA's planned Low Boom Flight Demonstration (LBFD) experimental airplane, otherwise known as an X-plane.

Yoga not as safe as thought: Study
Yoga may not be as safe as popularly believed, say scientists who have found that the ancient Indian meditative practice may causes muscle and bone pain and even exacerbate existing injuries.

More Science News»

Moto Z2 smartphone with 64GB internal storage, 4GB RAM spotted online
Lenovo-owned Motorola recently launched its Moto Z2 Play modular smartphone. It seems that the company is now gearing up for the launch of its flagship sibling – Moto Z2. The alleged handset has been spotted on GFXBench benchmarking website, hinting at some of its specifications.

Sony Xperia Z5, Xperia Z4 and Xperia Z3+ to get Android 7.1.1 update
Sony has started rolling out Android 7.1.1 Nougat update for some of its smartphones. The company has started rolling out Android N update for Xperia Z5, Xperia Z5 Compact and Xperia Z5 Premium, Xperia Z3+ and Xperia Z4 tablet.

It's been 10 years since the iPhone was launched, here's how it came about
Apple Inc's iPhone turns 10 this week, evoking memories of a rocky start for the device that ended up doing most to start the smartphone revolution and stirring interest in where it will go from here.

More Technology News»

Plus III admissions 2017: DHE Odisha declares first selection list
The Department of Higher Education (DHE) has declared the first selection list for +3 admissions on their official website today.

TS EAMCET seat allotment 2017 result declared

TN govt's new policy of reserving 85% quota for state board students challenged in High Court

More Education News»

60,000 officers trained, 6.5 million tax payers migrated to GST: Centre to Bombay HC

Without sentencing, verdict not complete; case against Dossa abates
The death of Mustafa Dossa before the pronouncement of sentence has resulted in abatement of his trial. His trial thus cannot be said to culminate into a judgment. Though the fact will remain that the court had found him guilty, however the further process of convicting and sentencing him having remained incomplete, no appeal can lie against an incomplete judgment, said retired high court judge Justice P D Kode.

Indrani Mukerjea's claim of being beaten up in Byculla jail true: Doctor
​Indrani Mukerjea has received some blunt injuries and other (injuries) as well, said a medical officer of JJ Hospital. "Her medical report will be submitted in court, as the medical check-up was ordered by the court," the officer said.

More Mumbai News»

Admission chaos in DU as cut-offs set to drop by 3% in second list

Mob attacks: MEA's different rules for different governments?

Protesters disrupt Delhi Assembly, allegedly beaten up by MLAs
The first day of Delhi Assembly's special session was abruptly suspended for close to an hour after two AAP volunteers dropped pamphlets into the House from the visitors' gallery and shouted slogans against PWD minister Satyendar Jain.

More Delhi News»

Government may table diluted anti-superstition bill

Sandalwood land short of quality saplings

UK architect: Kolar set to get biggest Hoysala-style temple in modern era

More Bangalore News»

2011 attack on Akbaruddin Owaisi: 4 convicted, Mohammed Pahelwan acquitted
The prime accused in the 2011 case of murderous attack on (AIMIM) MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi, Mohammed Bin Omar Yafai alias Mohammed Pahelwan, was sensationally acquitted on Thursday by Nampally court. However, 4 out of the 14 who faced trial were convicted by the court.

Telangana-Fiber to be turned into private firm
The Telangana government has decided to establish T-Fiber as a private limited company under the Companies Act 2013.

'Taakis' razed, turned into swanky commercial bldgs
Popularly known as taakis, single screen theatres of the Old City are fast becoming a rarity in the area south of Musi river. With several being either demolished, largely abandoned or turned into swanky commercial complexes, residents, who are film aficionados, have few options left in the Old City.

More Hyderabad News»

250 wigs distributed to patients in Cancer Institute in Chennai
When chairperson of Cancer Institute Dr V Shanta spoke at an event on Wednesday for distributing natural hair wigs to cancer patients, she tried to clear various misconceptions about the disease.

CM announces Rs 1,800cr power transmission upgradation for Chennai
Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Thursday announced a slew of programmes for various departments, including Rs 1,800 crore worth transmission upgradation programme for Chennai city, with an installation of new substations and feeders.

DVAC is probing gutka scam, Tamil Nadu CM says
Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Thursday informed the assembly that the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption is conducting a probe based on a communique sent by the Chennai city police commissioner to the home secretary on the sale of banned gutka by anti-socials, in connivance with a minister and some police officials.

More Chennai News»

Narmada project will take Gujarat to new heights: Modi

Completion of Narmada dam will take Gujarat's development to great heights: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi who arrived at Ahmedabad Airport for his two day visit to state addressed the huge gathering of BJP workers. Modi in his brief address said that the recent completion of the Narmada dam work will take Gujarat development to greater heights in the upcoming decade.

Gujarat Congress demanded roll back of high level of GST on life and health insurance premium

More Ahmedabad News»

Allahabad Development Authority to help city build on strengths
Authority Identifies Five-Pillar Approach

Cheoki to turn into satellite station
As the city prepares for Ardh Kumbh 2019, the facilities at Cheoki station of NCR would also be upgraded.An amount of Rs 50 crore has been earmarked for the purpose.

Household herb Chandrashoor fights diabetes

More Allahabad News»

Kangaroo mother care helps Odisha in sharp decline IMR

GST: Fishing nets, ropes to get costlier
Thousands of fishermen are now worried about their livelihood as they have to invest more in fishing net and rope when the Goods and Service Tax (GST) comes into being on July 1.

Panel recommends sale of Mahaprasad by administration
At present, the Mahaprasad is sold in Ananda Bazaar by a section of priests of Suar Nijog of the temple, leading to discrepancy in prices of the holy food.

More Bhubaneswar News»

          Travel ban takes effect but less chaos expected   
WASHINGTON – A scaled-back version of President Donald Trump's travel ban took effect Thursday evening, stripped of provisions that brought protests and chaos at airports worldwide in January yet still likely to generate a new round of court fights.

The new rules, the product of months of legal wrangling, aren't so much an outright ban as a tightening of already-tough visa policies affecting citizens from six Muslim-majority countries. Refugees are covered, too.

Administration officials promised that implementation this time, which started at 8 p.m. EDT (0000 GMT), would be orderly. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Dan Hetlage said his agency expected "business as usual at our ports of entry," with all valid visa holders still being able to travel.

Still, immigration and refugee advocates are vowing challenge the new requirements and the administration has struggled to explain how they will make the United States safer.

Under the temporary rules, citizens of Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iran and Yemen who already have visas will be allowed into the United States. But people from those countries who want new visas will now have to prove a close family relationship or an existing relationship with an entity like a school or business in the U.S.

It's unclear how significantly the new rules will affect travel. In most of the countries singled out, few people have the means for leisure travel. Those that do already face intensive screenings before being issued visas.

Nevertheless, human rights groups on Thursday girded for new legal battles. The American Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups challenging the ban, called the new criteria "extremely restrictive," ''arbitrary" in their exclusions and designed to "disparage and condemn Muslims."

The state of Hawaii filed an emergency motion Thursday asking a federal judge to clarify that the administration cannot enforce the ban against relatives – such as grandparents, aunts or uncles – not included in the State Department's definition of "bona fide" personal relationships.

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer met with customs officials and said he felt things would go smoothly.

"For tonight, I'm anticipating few issues because, I think, there's better preparation," he told reporters at Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday night. "The federal government here, I think, has taken steps to avoid the havoc that occurred the last time."

Much of the confusion in January, when Trump's first ban took effect, resulted from travelers with previously approved visas being kept off flights or barred entry on arrival in the United States. Immigration officials were instructed Thursday not to block anyone with valid travel documents and otherwise eligible to visit the United States.

Karen Tumlin, legal director of the National Immigration Law Center, said the rules "would slam the door shut on so many who have waited for months or years to be reunited with their families.

Trump, who made a tough approach to immigration a cornerstone of his election campaign, issued a ban on travelers from the six countries, plus Iraq, shortly after taking office in January. His order also blocked refugees from any country.

Trump said these were temporary measures needed to prevent terrorism until vetting procedures could be reviewed. Opponents noted that visa and refugee vetting were already strict and said there was no evidence that refugees or citizens of those six countries posed a threat. They saw the ban as part of Trump's campaign promise to bar Muslims from entering the United States.

Lower courts blocked the initial ban and a second, revised Trump order intended to overcome legal hurdles. The Supreme Court on Monday partially reinstated the revised ban but exempted travelers who could prove a "bona fide relationship" with a U.S. person or entity. The court offered only broad guidelines.

In guidance issued late Wednesday, the State Department said the personal relationships would include a parent, spouse, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already in the United States. It does not include other relationships such as grandparents, grandchildren, aunts and uncles. On Thursday, the State and Homeland Security departments had both expanded the range of bona fide relationships to include fiancés.

Business or professional links must be "formal, documented and formed in the ordinary course rather than for the purpose of evading" the ban. Journalists, students, workers or lecturers who have valid invitations or employment contracts in the U.S. would be exempt from the ban. The exemption does not apply to those who seek a relationship with an American business or educational institution purely for the purpose of avoiding the rules.

Refugees from any country will face similar requirements. But the U.S. has almost filled its quota of 50,000 refugees for the budget year ending in September and the new rules won't apply to the few remaining slots. With the Supreme Court set to consider the overall ban in October, the rules could change again.

The travel ban may have the largest impact on Iranians. In 2015, the most recently available data, nearly 26,000 Iranians were allowed into the United States on visitor or tourist visas. Iranians made up the lion's share of the roughly 65,000 foreigners from the six countries who visited with temporary, or non-immigrant visas that year.

American journalist Paul Gottinger, said he and his Iranian fiancee applied for a visa nearly a year ago but are still waiting on a decision. Gottinger says they were to wed at a Japanese garden in his parents' home state of Minnesota this month but postponed the ceremony until August because they had not yet received the visa.

Now, he expects they will have to delay again.

"Every twist and turn of the courts, we're holding our hearts and our stomachs are falling to the floor," he said by phone from Turkey.

The new regulations are also affecting the wedding plans of Rama Issa-Ibrahim, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York.

She is Syrian-American and had planned to get married this fall. While her father in Syria may be able to get a visa, her aunts and uncles may well be blocked.

"I would love for them to be at this wedding, and unfortunately, they aren't going to be able to be here," she said, adding that the ceremony would be postponed.

___

Associated Press writer Amy Taxin and Andrew Dalton in Los Angeles and Michael Noble in New York contributed to this report.


          Pride Month celebrated by veterans who fight for equality   
NEW YORK. N.Y. — Thursday, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the leading post-9/11 veterans empowerment organization, issued the following statement in recognition of national LGBT Pride Month, celebrating and supporting LGBT Americans: “Diversity is a force multiplier for our armed forces as well as for our nation. Equality and inclusion are good for […]
          Re: Saudi prince reveals ‘US conditions’ for Mohamed Bin Salman to be king   

The Saudis must not give Israel any control of the Gulf of Aqaba. Aqaba port was priceless in getting goods through to Iraq during the sanctions against Saddam Hussein. Do NOT let Israel get its foot in the door or they'll
lock it!


          Irak anuncia que el califato del Estado Islámico "ha caído"   
"Su ficticio estado ha caído", dice un portavoz militar iraquí tras anunciar la conquista de la mezquita de Mosul
          Graphic: Emerging markets enjoy vintage start to year   

By Marc Jones

LONDON (Reuters) - Emerging markets have had one of their best first halves to a year on record, with stocks up 17.5 percent and a 15 percent surge by Mexico's peso underscoring how worries about U.S. President Donald Trump's policies have been forgotten for now.

As this graphic - http://tmsnrt.rs/2hn5N02 - shows, Poland has been the star performer for stocks trackers, with a 34 percent rise in dollar terms thanks to strong growth numbers and a more than 12 percent rise in the zloty.

Central and eastern Europe has been a hotspot all round.

The Czech crown is up over 11 percent versus the dollar, Hungary's forint is up 8 percent despite an uber-dovish central bank and Romania's leu, in a country which has just had a political crisis, is up 7.7 percent. (See graphic, http://tmsnrt.rs/2hniYya)

Mexican, Indian, Chinese, and Turkish stocks have taken off, climbing somewhere between 20 and 30 percent.

The boom has come as investors have shrugged off the U.S. rate rises, oil and tech tumbles and looked to the positives.

The dollar has just had its worst quarter in almost seven years which means EM currencies are up. Global growth is gaining traction and borrowing costs via bond yields had been steadily sliding again until this week.

As well as flying equities, bonds in local emerging market currencies have returned almost 11 percent in dollar terms, while hard currency sovereign debt is up over 6 percent. (For the breakdown click here http://tmsnrt.rs/2ih2QQ9)

There are always laggards though.

Russian equities, heavily oil-reliant and a star of late 2016, have lost 15 percent and the rift between Qatar and its Middle East neighbours has seen its stocks clobbered 12 percent in a matter of weeks.

Though there has been a rebound this week, Brazil's real has been a poor performer. It is down over 1 percent due to fresh corruption scandals that have hit the country.

Another one to avoid has been the Philippine peso which is down 1.7 percent on fears that Islamic State, on the backfoot in Iraq and Syria, is trying to set up a stronghold in the Muslim south of the country.

Emerging markets in 2017 http://tmsnrt.rs/2ihRugV

EM stocks in 2017 http://tmsnrt.rs/2hn5N02

EM currencies in 2017 http://tmsnrt.rs/2hniYya

EM bonds in 2017 http://tmsnrt.rs/2ih2QQ9

(Reporting by Marc Jones)


          Comentário sobre EUA e Rússia à beira do abismo na Síria- Curdos sírios, os que mais perdem por Luiz   
Seria muita alegria para o povo sirio e para o mundo, se tudo isto escrito acima acontecesse de fato, mas infelizmente a esperanca de vermos esta guerra acabar e a paz voltar, e apenas um sonho ou um delirio,os americanos e seus aliados nao vao sair da Siria enquanto nao conseguirem seus objetivos, os dias da Siria como pais que sempre vimos estao contados, o governo do Sr bashar Assad estao contados, e sim a Siria sera um novo Afeghanistao, um novo Iraque, e isto nao e apenas por causa do gasodulto, mas sim pelo Iran, uma vitoria da Siria sera tambem uma vitoria para o Iran, e o russos? os russos por mais inteligentes e fortes que sao, nao farao absolutamente nada, colocaram seus sistemas de defesa na Siria apenas para intimidar, vai criar teias de aranha e nao vao utilizar, vao ver a Siria ser destruida e dividida e a unica coisa que vao fazer e prostestar, mas usar a forca contra a america e seus aliados jamais, porque e isto que os nefastos quereme vao provocar a Russia para isto, porque qualquer ataque da Russia contra eles sera usado contra a Russia, na ONU, mais sancoes, e ainda a dia corporativa vai massacrar as pessoas de falsas informacoes, fazendo a opiniao publica ir contra a Russia, e no final a Russia vai sair com o rabo entre as pernas, e os nefastos mais uma vez conseguirao seu objetivo, infelizmente.
          HRW: US coalition turns blind eye to 'rampant torture of Mosul men and boys'   
On Thursday, the Iraqi ministry of defense announced that Daesh had been driven out of all districts of the city of Mosul, ending an anti-terror operation that began last October. However, a US spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve said that fighting continues in some areas of the Old City. Iraqi government troops have liberated the area around the ruined Great Mosque of al-Nuri, which was constructed in 1172. The mosque, where Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in June 2014, was destroyed by Daesh in an explosion on June 21.
          Orbital ATK to Repair Iraq’s Trainer Aircraft   
The U.S. government has awarded Orbital ATK a contract to provide repair services for Iraq’s trainer aircraft. The contract covers the Iraqi air force’s five Cessna Caravans and 12 Cessna 172 Skyhawk planes, Orbital ATK said Thursday. Cary Ralston, vice president and general manager of defense electronic systems division at Orbital ATK’s defense systems group, […]
          Iraq: New Abuse, Execution Reports of Men Fleeing Mosul   

A member of Iraqi security forces stands on the turret of an armoured vehicle along a highway near west of Mosul, Iraq, June 22, 2017. 

© 2017 Reuters
 
(Beirut) – Allegations are emerging of Iraqi forces beating and unlawfully killing men and boys fleeing Mosul in the final phase of the battle against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), Human Rights Watch said today.

Four witnesses told Human Rights Watch that they saw Iraqi forces beat unarmed men and boys fleeing the fighting within the last seven days, and said they also obtained information about Iraqi forces executing unarmed men during this time period.

“As Iraqi forces are poised to retake the entire city of Mosul, allegations of unlawful killings and beatings significantly raise concerns for the civilians there who have been living under ISIS control,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Iraqi forces are promising liberation, but they need to find out what’s happening now and stop any abuse.”

One witness said that three Emergency Response Division and Iraqi Security Force (ISF) members on a key route for civilians fleeing the city boasted to him that they were executing captured unarmed men who were thought to be ISIS-affiliated instead of detaining them. The Emergency Response Division and ISF fighters, stationed three kilometers from the heaviest fighting in the Old City, said they made an exception for elderly men, the witness said.

Two other witnesses said they saw Iraqi uniformed soldiers pick at least six men and boys out of crowds of fleeing civilians at a checkpoint, beat them, and drive them away. They said they saw soldiers pick out another man, beat him, and then move him into a building they were using as a base. One of the witnesses said that soldiers later said they had killed him.

“I have heard of countless abuses and executions in this battle,” one witness said. “But what’s changed is that in this final phase fighters are no longer hiding what they are doing and are comfortable allowing us to witness the abuses first-hand.”

The same witness said that earlier this week, he heard three screams coming from a building being used by the elite Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), after which fighters from the unit ushered him away. That afternoon in another neighborhood of west Mosul, the witness saw two CTS fighters take down the corpse of an alleged ISIS fighter that had been strung up to an electrical pole, and stone the body before taking a few photos of each other posing with it.

That night, he said, a CTS fighter also showed him a video of a severely beaten man who the fighter said was an ISIS prisoner. In the video the CTS fighter shoots and kills the unarmed detainee, he said.

In the days before, the man said he saw five Iraqi soldiers at a checkpoint pick out at least 10 men over a period of an hour, beat them, and drag them toward a building the soldiers were using as a base. He said that one of the men the soldiers were beating was wounded and that he had arrived with his family from a front-line field hospital. The witness said that as he was leaving the area he saw the soldiers single out more and more men, beat them and take them away, but lost count of how many.

An article published in a Swedish outlet on June 28, 2017, by a Swedish journalist who was on the front-line says that a Federal Police officer boasted about decapitating at least 50 men with knives and beating others, with fellow officers watching, cheering, and sometimes filming. The article said the Federal Police backed up these claims with photos and videos.

Throughout the operation to retake Mosul, Human Rights Watch has documented Iraqi forces detaining and holding thousands of men and boys in inhumane conditions without charge, and in some cases torturing and executing them, under the guise of a screening them for ISIS-affiliation. In May 2016, Iraqi forces retook the city of Fallujah from ISIS, but in the operation committed horrific abuses, including executions, torture, and the disappearance of over 600 men whose bodies have yet to be found.

Human Rights Watch has raised concerns regarding allegations of ill-treatment, torture, and executions numerous times in meetings with Iraqi officials in Baghdad as well as with representatives from US-led coalition member countries. Human Rights Watch does not know of a single transparent investigation into abuses by Iraqi armed forces, any instances of commanders being held accountable for abuse, or any victims of abuse receiving compensation.

Iraqi criminal justice authorities should investigate all alleged crimes, including unlawful killings and mutilation of corpses, committed by any party in the conflict in a prompt, transparent, and effective manner, up to the highest levels of responsibility. Those found criminally responsible should be appropriately prosecuted. Extrajudicial executions and torture during an armed conflict are war crimes. Despoiling dead bodies and other outrages on personal dignity are violations of the laws of armed conflict and may amount to war crimes.

“Reports of unlawful executions and beatings by Iraqi soldiers should be enough to raise concern among the highest ranks in Baghdad and among members of the international coalition combatting ISIS,” Fakih said. “Iraqi officials should translate that concern into accountability for war crimes.”


          Sweden Gives Returning ISIS Fighters New Identities to Help Them “Start Over”   
– Sweden Gives Returning ISIS Fighters New Identities to Help Them “Start Over”: Having posed with dead bodies and the like in Syria and Iraq life is just so darn hard for them now Hundreds of Swedish residents who went to fight for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have now returned to Europe ... Read more
          El Estado Islámico pierde territorio   
Líder iraquí declara fin del “califato” del grupo EI
          Assia Djebar’s 81st Birthday   

Assia Djebar’s 81st Birthday

Date: June 30, 2017

Many women achieve greatness, but few become “Immortal.” Assia Djebar was the first woman from the Maghreb to be given the "Immortal" title, as a member of the Académie Française.

Born Fatima-Zohra Imalayene on this date in 1936, the Algerian novelist, translator, and filmmaker used the pen name Assia Djebar. She was the first Algerian woman to be admitted to the country’s top literary university, the Ecole Normale Superieure. Djebar published her first book at 21; by the time she was 30, she had written 4 novels in French. She quickly became one of North Africa's most influential writers.

A feminist, Djebar wrote about women's independence and encouraged Algerian women to forge their own paths and find their unique voices. She believed that education was the key to giving women a voice in society, and in 1962 began teaching history at the University of Algiers. Her work inspired many women to express themselves freely.

Today’s Doodle reflects a scene from the first chapter of Djebar’s novel Fantasia, in which she explores the history of Algeria through her experiences as a young girl.  

Location: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates

Tags: Birthday, writer, novelist, Literature


          These Iraq and Afghanistan veterans share what life is like after the battlefield    
There used to be a time in our country's history when many people had a connection to someone serving in the Armed Forces - people had a brother, a cousin, an uncle or an aunt who served in WWII, Korea, or Vietnam. Today, having that connection to the military is not as common. Volunteers fill the military's ranks, and civilians have grown farther apart from those who put their lives on the line. All this week, we're bringing you stories about Michigan's post 9/11 veterans - stories about what life has been like since their return home. So who are these veterans? We met nine of them who shared their stories with us. Go to our Beyond the Battlefield page to get to know some of these Michigan veterans.
          Experts say programs for veterans' mental health aren't working   
Let's continue our look at military veterans in Michigan. Yesterday on the show, we talked about the disconnect between saying that we want to help veterans and actually putting policy into place that does that. Today, we turned our focus to mental health. Data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates about 22 vets a day are committing suicide. And it's estimated one in five veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. There are dozens of programs the military has set up to help treat the mental illnesses and troubles vets are suffering. But a panel of experts studied programs from the U.S. Department of Defense and came to a very unsettling conclusion: There is no evidence these programs actually work. The report shows the programs were not created from evidence-based research, and do not have an evaluation process to see if they are effective or not. Kenneth Warner chaired the research panel. He's also in the
          Will defense cuts kill Michigan's 'Warthogs'?   
Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel unveiled his latest budget proposal. And it is clear that as the drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan continues, the Obama administration's priority is now reducing military size and spending. Secretary Hagel declared that budget reductions cut “so deep, so quickly, that we cannot shrink the size of our military fast enough.” For instance, the active-duty Army would shrink to its smallest level since just before the U.S. entered World War II. There would be base closings, troop cuts, trimmed salary increases, and the complete elimination of several Air Force aircraft fleets. That includes the A-10, an aircraft that dates back to the Cold War. The A-10, also known as "The Warthog," was designed to take out Soviet tanks. Twenty-four of America's 300 Warthogs are at Selfridge Air National Guard Base near Mt Clemens in Macomb County. Eliminating that fleet would be a gut punch to Selfridge. Here to explain is Detroit News Washington
          $60 million for military contractors in Michigan   
That's money military contractors in Michigan have received in the last week. Most of the money is coming from foreign governments, according to Crain's Detroit Business: Sterling Heights-based General Dynamics Land Systems won a $37.6 million single-bid modification to a previous contract to fund a coproduction effort on the M1A1 Abrams main battle tank in Egypt. The company has had an agreement with the Egyptian government dating back to the early 1990s for the M1A1, which generally involves some component production in the U.S. and final vehicle assembly in that country. Including Egypt, other Michigan related contracts are coming from Iraq and Israel, according to Crain's.
          After Afghanistan, one unit's new mission: cope as civilians    
After a year's deployment in Afghanistan, 600 members of Michigan's National Guard are coming home. They'll join the ranks of 19,00 local Guardsmen and women who’ve served in Iraq and Afghanistan. But this particular unit will soon embark on a new mission. And this time, they're bringing their families. For 3 years, the veterans, their spouses, and children will be part of a Michigan State University study on how families cope with life after combat. Professor Adrian Blow is leading the study. "We have hundreds of studies now on prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder, or substance abuse or things like that within the military. But very, very few studies that focus on how families cope." In other words, we know the myriad problems military families face. What we don't know is what works; that is, what makes one military family more resilient than another. Blow says, sure, some of it's common sense: good communication, strong marriages, spending time with the kids... "But we're
          Veterans' disability claims in limbo at Michigan VA office (share your story)   
We've written before about the "unfinished business" of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan... caring for thousands of vets who are coming home after multiple tours with symptoms of PTSD or other disabilities. Vets seeking benefits to help with their disabilities can face long wait times. Thanks to a new analysis released today by the Center for Investigative Reporting, we can get a sense for how long those wait times are. In our area, veterans applying for disability benefits wait an average of 319 days for a decision from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs regional office in downtown Detroit. That's longer than the national average of 257 days. The analysis also shows average wait time for veterans at the office has increased by 25.7 percent when comparing wait times in the prior 1.3 years. And for those who appeal their claim, the wait can take more than three years. The data for all 58 VA regional offices is displayed on this interactive map. The map shows the number of
          Iraq snapshot   
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          Así entrenan los francotiradores del ejército iraquí para tomar el bastión yihadista de Mosul   
Decenas de personas huyen a cuentagotas y como pueden del centro histórico de la ciudad de Mosul, en Irak, donde el Daesh les retiene como escudos humanos. El ejército iraquí prevé tomar del todo el bastión yihadista en unos días, pero hacerlo sin afectar a civiles requiere francotiradores. Les entrenan militares estadounidenses, y nuestra compañera Pilar Cebrián ha asistido a esa formación.
          Mosul, a punto de ser liberada de Daesh tras ocho meses de ofensiva   
El ejército iraquí se ha hecho con el principal símbolo de los terroristas, la mezquita  de Al Nuri, que destrozaron la semana pasada en su huída y ha comenzado la liberación de los civiles atrapados. Miles de personas siendo siendo utilizadas por los últimos yihadistas como escudos humanos.
          A Mosul mosque in rubble, victim of militants' destruction   

It was a victory marked in rubble. Iraqi forces on Thursday retook from the Islamic State group one of the most beloved landmarks of the city of Mosul, the nearly 850-year-old al-Nuri Mosque.


          Liberals extend Canada's 'advise and assist' mission in Iraq to March 2019   

The federal government has ordered the military to stay in Iraq for at least two more years, as the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant prepares to enter a new phase. But despite a request from NATO for police trainers, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says there are "absolutely no plans" to send Canadian troops back into Afghanistan.


          IS - facing endgame in Mosul and defeat in Raqqa'   

Islamic State is facing its "endgame" in its former Iraqi stronghold in Mosul, while there is "irreversible momentum" towards its defeat at its Syrian base in Raqqa, the Defence Secretary has said. Sir Michael Fallon revealed RAF warplanes have hit more than 700 targets to support the expected imminent liberation of Mosul, where IS, also known as Daesh, declared its supposed "caliphate" three years ago.


          Islamic State not sparing children in Mosul, Iraq final stand   

To speak to her son, she needs to bend close and listen hard. His throat and his nasal passages are burnt; the inside of his mouth is black.


          A look at key moments on the road to Mosul   

After more than eight months of some of the most intense fighting against the extremist group, Iraq's Prime Minister has pledged that victory is near. However progress on the ground in Mosul remains incremental and IS continues to launch counterattacks in territory previously declared liberated.


          As Iraqi troops near, ISIS leaves death and destruction in Mosul   

It's 110 degrees Fahrenheit , nearly every building is smashed to pieces and there is a constant thud of explosions. But all that fades into the background as the stench of death comes closer and closer.


          6/30/2017: NEWS: Desperate ISIS fighters use human shields as battle nears end in Mosul   

Iraqi security forces in Mosul are closing in on an increasingly desperate and shrinking band of Islamic State fighters who are using human shields to try to slow the U. S.- supported offensive, a top U. S. commander said Wednesday. “There’s no limit...
          Fifty Shades of Decadence, One Shade of ISIS   
The “Islamic State” has gone full Genghis Khan during the past week — beheading 21 Christians on a beach in Libya, incinerating 45 hapless souls in a northern Iraqi town, linking up with Boko Haram in Central Africa, establishing cordial ties with al-Qaeda, and watching contentedly as apostles of jihad inflicted death in Denmark. From its […]
          Iraq: Swiss reporter dies from Mosul injuries – "too many headstones"   
Publisher: Reporters Without Borders - Document type: Country News
          Mulcair Statement on Iraq Mission Extension   
On Thursday, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair issued the following statement: Read More
             
On Countdown, they report there are now 6,000 British soldiers in Iraq. At the peak, there were 40,000.
          What comes after Who Knew What When   

Jeff Jarvis is at a conference at Harvard today about the future of news.

The LA Times sent its reporters out to find out what its future is.

Dan Gillmor says his readers know more than he does, of course they do, this is another way of saying that you have more than one or two readers. It's so obvious, but that's okay, people often miss what's obvious. Sometimes the more obvious it is the more people miss it.

What's happening to news is what's happening to everything. The readers are becoming the writers. Anything the LA Times does that fails to embrace this phenomenon will not work.

News is not like the symphony, it's like cooking dinner.

And should we really be trying to save the news organizations we have? This is a serious question. I go back and forth. At breakfast yesterday, a group of us were discussing the Foley scandal. We had also watched a Bill Moyers show where they revealed the details of the Tom Delay scandal, which was much deeper and more insidious than the Foley scandal. Yet the press has focused on the less interesting one, presumably based on the assumption that the reader or viewer would not understand the Delay scandal. But be clear, it was their choice to go this route, no reader or viewer made the decision, they did. I think it was because they knew how to proceed. It was a question of Who Knew What When. Iraq, Katrina and Delay do not fit that template. So I have to wonder whether we should be concerned if CNN or MSNBC or the LA or NY Times are in trouble, if the only story they know how to report is WKWW.

In any case, I've laid out the roadmap quite a few times. When we look back in a few years, I'm totally sure this will have turned out to be the way it went. In ten years news will be gathered by all of us. The editorial decisions will be made collectively, and there will be people whose taste we trust who we will turn to to tell us which stories to pay attention to. Instead of three of these, there will be thousands if not tens of thousands. One for every political persuasion, one for every mood, demographic, age range, maybe even by geography. The role of gatekeeper will be distributed, as will the role of reporter. Very few people, if any, will earn a living doing this, much as most of us don't earn a living by cooking dinner, but we do it anyway, cause you gotta eat.

Change comes slowly but change comes.

You can try to hold the world in place so your life continues to make sense, but the world is too big and you're too small, change comes, eventually, no matter how much you think it shouldn't.

It's easier for readers to become reporters than it is for reporters to become readers.


          Ex-ISIS recruits reveal what drew them into war   
As ISIS loses ground in Syria and Iraq, it is also losing fighters. Holly Williams reports from inside Syria, where former ISIS recruits are now committed to fighting the terror group.

          Language Instructor - General Consideration (as-needed) - MultiLingual Solutions Inc - Continental, OH   
Arabic (MSA), Arabic (Algerian), Arabic (Saudi Gulf), Arabic (Levantine), Arabic (Libyan), Arabic (Moroccan), Arabic (Syrian), Arabic (Egyptian), Arabic (Iraqi)...
From MultiLingual Solutions Inc - Tue, 13 Jun 2017 11:01:17 GMT - View all Continental, OH jobs
          The Devil's Henchmen   
Iraqi forces have killed thousands of Islamic State fighters. In death, what do they deserve? Seeking answers in the ruined city of Mosul, Kenneth R. Rosen unearths a terrible crime.
          The liberation of Mosul from ISIS is 'imminent,' US-led coalition says   
Iraqi forces are locked in an intense battle for the final few blocks of western Mosul still under ISIS control.
          World: Challenges and opportunities across NATO's South: Migration, trafficking, extremism, and instability, Volume 1 I Number 3 I Spring 2017   
Source: OPEN Perspectives Exchange Network (OPEN)
Country: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Lebanon, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, World, Yemen

Executive Summary

NATO and its partners, as a part of discussions related to the Alliance’s efforts to promote peace and security in its broader neighbourhood, have increasingly focused on NATOs’ “Southern Flank.” In the following report, the authors argue that this primarily military term is likely to be off-putting to many current or would-be NATO partners, such as foreign ministries, international organisations, and civilian stakeholders, hindering the goals of “projecting stability” and risking a near-exclusive focus on threats and risks. Furthermore, this report demonstrates how the term “Southern Flank” does not fully capture NATO’s challenges. For example, issues like trafficking and migration originate in far-flung areas including West Africa, Latin America, and Central Asia, which may not be part of the Southern Flank as current conceived by NATO. In suggesting the use of a less heavily value-laden and military-centric term like the “Greater South”, the authors point out that challenges emanating from the Greater South also present opportunities to Alliance states that may bolster NATO’s strategic objectives.

The following observations and findings are based on a review of the pertinent literature from academics, research institutions, governments, and various international organisations (IOs) and international nongovernmental organisations (INGOs). They also emerge in part from the authors’ combined twenty years of research experience working on and researching issues ranging from civil-military interaction to post-crisis stabilisation and humanitarian action in contexts as diverse as Afghanistan, Bosnia - Herzegovina, Lebanon, Somalia Syria and Yemen for governments, UN agencies, the World Bank, INGOs, NATO’s former Civil-Military Fusion Centre and others.

Challenges and Opportunities in NATO’s Greater South

Some of the most immediately pressing challenges emanating from the Greater South include migration and trafficking in drugs, guns, persons as well as conflict and violent extremism. These inter-related issues thrive amidst corruption and low state capacity, prevent economic growth, and facilitate instability and extremism. This report explores these challenges and demonstrates (i) their intersecting nature; (ii) how typical approaches to addressing these issues, including increased border control and military responses, can displace the challenge and plant the seeds of future instability elsewhere; and (iii) that the various challenges facing NATO may be reconceptualised as opportunities rather than purely as threats.

With regard to migration, in 2015, 1.2 million people applied for asylum in Europe, 66.2% of whom were male according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). This may pose social stability challenges not only in assimilation and cultural differences relating to gender relations but also in the fact that most young, male migrants, many of whom are single, will be jobless for a year or two following arrival. However, with approximately 84% of incoming migrants under 34 years old, the host economy may ultimately benefit economically from migration. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), for instance, estimates annual output to increase by 0.1% in the EU and 0.3% in Germany by the end of 2017.


          Hundreds flee Mosul as Iraqi forces squeeze last pockets of IS resistance   
The areas where government forces are fighting have been under siege for months.
          Keeping a Promise to the Polish People   

President Trump has a chance to set things right with America's most faithful ally.

 

It's unsurprising that the White House recently scheduled a presidential visit to Poland in conjunction with the upcoming G-20 Summit. The U.S. State Department describes this Central European country of 38.6 million people as a stalwart ally and "one of the United States' strongest partners on the continent in fostering transatlantic security and prosperity regionally, throughout Europe, and the world."

What is surprising is that, despite historical ties dating back to the American Revolutionary War, the strong alliance, and a robust domestic Polish-American population of about 10 million, the U.S. government hasn't found a way to treat Polish citizens the same way as it does those living in most other European countries when it comes to visiting the United States. Since it shed communism in 1989 after 42 years of domination and became a free and democratic state, Poland has unsuccessfully tried to gain entry into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.

The U.S. failure to grant VWP status to Poland is an embarrassment to many Americans as well as a major disappointment and irritant to Poles and a succession of its leaders. Poland's former president and Nobel Laureate Lech Walesa described VWP entry as a "matter of honor" for Poland.

In a speech before the Polish American Congress in September 2016, Candidate Trump promised to remedy this problem by making it possible for Poland to become part of the VWP. His promise echoes that of his presidential predecessor, Barack Obama, who promised to do the same several years earlier but didn't deliver. Several previous attempts by U.S. Congress members to legislate a fix to bring Poland into the program have also failed. Congress is now considering The Poland Waiver Act of 2017 (H.R. 2388).

What is the VWP? The U.S. established the VWP in 1986 primarily to facilitate commerce and tourism between friendly nations. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security administers the program in consultation with the State Department. Since its inception, the program has evolved into a security partnership with special passport and security upgrades to detect and prevent terrorists, criminals, and other mala fide actors from entering each country. There are presently 38 countries in VWP, 29 of them European. The program features reciprocal agreements allowing citizens to travel on business or pleasure without visas and no application fees between member countries for up to 90 days.

What has Poland done to gain VWP entry? Three important ingredients for gaining VWP status are national wealth, a high Human Development Index, and a low-security risk. Poland scores well on each count. It has seen its economy dramatically grow to 25th in the world at $1.1 trillion. The 2017 United Nations Development Report classified Poland as a "very high" Human Development Index country with its 78 years average life expectancy, 99.8 percent literacy rate for males and females, and $27,700 plus average annual income. And with its strong American ties, NATO membership, participation in the Afghanistan and Iraq military coalitions, and the general absence of radical Islamic terror attacks on its soil Poland clearly isn't a security threat. Moreover, it has implemented and adopted VWP-related security measures and information-sharing protocols asked of them by the U.S. government.

What is preventing Poland's VWP entry? A provision in the Immigration and Nationality Act which requires a visa refusal rate of 3 percent or less to qualify for the program - and Poland's FY 2016 visa refusal rate according to the State Department is 5.7 percent, which although is a dramatic drop from previous years still doesn't pass the congressionally-mandated program muster. The State Department reported that 186,555 Polish citizens applied for nonimmigrant visas to visit the U.S. for business or pleasure. Each paid a non-fundable fee of $160. Of the applicants, U.S. consular officers refused to approve visas for 10,060 of them.

However, using the visa refusal rate alone to exclude a country from the program can be somewhat misleading. For example, the prime concern for U.S. immigration officials is not necessarily the percentage of visa refusals by U.S. consular officers, but the actual number of nonimmigrants from VWP and other countries who overstay their 90-day visit. DHS's FY 2016 Overstay Report reveals that VWP members United Kingdom had 20,670 suspected overstays; Germany had 18,780; Italy had 14,896; Spain had 11,716; and France had 10,358 compared to non-VWP Poland's 2,787 suspected overstays!

President Trump can take the following actions to facilitate Poland's VWP entry and/or make it easier for Polish citizens to visit the United States. One, he can urge Congress to pass the Poland Waiver Act of 2017; two, he can ask the DHS and State Department secretaries to determine the reasons why Poles are being refused visas at a greater percentage than INA requires and to determine if any legal and administrative remedies are available for Poland to achieve a lower rate; and three, ask the Secretary of State to determine if the $160 visa application fee for Polish citizens can be legally waived - as it has been for VWP member countries and like the Polish government has already done for U.S. citizens traveling to Poland.

One is hard-pressed to find a better friend and more loyal U.S. ally than Poland. For that reason, President Trump should keep his promise and use his leadership ability and/or executive power to ensure this matter doesn't languish in the Federal bureaucracy or Congress any longer. Making it easier for the Poland's citizens to visit the U.S. on business and pleasure would further cement the bilateral relationship and surely please millions of them and their American cousins.

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A version of this piece also appeared on https://spectator.org/


          The "Crime of the Century" is Bad Journalism   

The latest propaganda piece from The Washington Post, "Obama's secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin's election assault," is based, as usual, mostly on anonymous sources determined to make former President Barack Obama look good. The gist is that Obama tried his best to punish Russia for alleged interference in the 2016 election, but he fell short and left the matter in the hands of President Donald Trump, who has done nothing.

So Trump is blamed for Obama's failure. How convenient.

The essence of the piece is that "intelligence" was "captured" that somehow proved that Russian President Vladimir Putin gave "specific instructions" that he wanted  to "defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump."

Pardon me, but I don't believe this for a moment. This "intelligence" may be what the Post seeks to expose-Russian "active measures" or disinformation.

As we reported back in January, "Looking at the election objectively, it is possible to say that Russian leader Vladimir Putin may have had a personal vendetta against the former U.S. secretary of state for some reason, stemming from allegations of U.S. meddling in Russian internal affairs. On the other hand, Putin may have preferred that Clinton become the U.S. president because her failed Russian ‘reset' had facilitated Russian military intervention in Ukraine and Syria, and he believed he could continue to take advantage of her."

This makes far more sense than the Post story.

Remember that Obama won the 2012 election after dismissing his Republican opponent Mitt Romney's claim that Russia was a geopolitical threat to the United States. Obama had also been caught on an open mic before the election promising to be "flexible" in changing his positions to benefit Russia.

"These comments provide more evidence that Obama was never the anti-Russian figure he postured as in the final days of his second term," we noted.

The Post story by Greg Miller and others is an obvious response to the observation that, if Obama thought the Russian interference was such a big deal, what did Obama try to do about it?

One can read the entire article if you are interested in how pro-Obama propaganda is manufactured by the Post. Some parts of the article are more ludicrous than others, such as this paragraph:

"Throughout his presidency, Obama's approach to national security challenges was deliberate and cautious. He came into office seeking to end wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was loath to act without support from allies overseas and firm political footing at home. He was drawn only reluctantly into foreign crises, such as the civil war in Syria, that presented no clear exit for the United States."

The paragraph is designed to mask Obama's indifference to Russian aggression in places like Crimea, Ukraine and Syria. In regard to the latter, Obama failed to save Syria from Russian aggression and facilitated a conflict-through secret arms shipments to the region-that now stands at 500,000 dead.

Obama's alleged "cautious" approach in the Middle East was to support jihadist groups in Syria and Libya, and back regimes such as the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt, which was overthrown by the military backed by the people.

The hero in the Post account is Obama's CIA director John Brennan, who joined the agency after admitting to voting for Moscow's man in the 1976 presidential election, Gus Hall of the Communist Party USA. Suddenly, we are led to believe, as CIA director, he became anti-Russian after discovering a Moscow plot in 2016 to disrupt the presidential election.

"In political terms," the paper said, "Russia's interference was the crime of the century, an unprecedented and largely successful destabilizing attack on American democracy."

This is complete nonsense. There is no evidence any votes were changed as a result of this so-called "interference."

The crime of the century is bad journalism based on anonymous sources who hide behind papers like the Post to spread their self-serving and partisan propaganda.

"This account of the Obama administration's response to Russia's interference is based on interviews with more than three dozen current and former U.S. officials in senior positions in government, including at the White House, the State, Defense and Homeland Security departments, and U.S. intelligence services," the Post said. "Most agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the issue."

One paragraph in particular tells you everything you know about the anonymous sources behind this story. "Those closest to Obama defend the administration's response to Russia's meddling," the Post said. Yes, indeed, those "closest to Obama" would certainly do so.

Then we're told that that "They believe that a series of warnings-including one that Obama delivered to Putin in September-prompted Moscow to abandon any plans of further aggression, such as sabotage of U.S. voting systems."

There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever for this dramatic statement. It's completely made up.

Remember, this is the same Obama who once assured Putin that after he won his re-election campaign in 2012, he would have "more flexibility" with the Russian leader and be able to offer more concessions.

Now, all of a sudden, Obama is rough and tough and gets things done with the Russian leader. What a joke.

The paper reported that "Obama confronted Putin directly during a meeting of world leaders in Hangzhou, China. Accompanied only by interpreters, Obama told Putin that ‘we knew what he was doing and [he] better stop or else,' according to a senior aide who subsequently spoke with Obama. Putin responded by demanding proof and accusing the United States of interfering in Russia's internal affairs."

Or else?

It sounds like the red line in Syria that Obama had warned the Syrian regime not to cross. But they crossed it anyway.

Obama's so-called "secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin's election assault" exists in the minds of Post reporters who are waging a not-so-secret struggle to rehabilitate the former president's disastrous foreign policy toward Russia and most of the rest of the world.

Let's not forget one more debacle-Obama's deal with Russian client state Iran to facilitate the regime's nuclear weapons program and world-wide terrorism.

That may end up being another crime of the century, on par with President Bill Clinton's deal with North Korea that was supposed to prevent the communist regime from getting its hands on nuclear weapons.

Speaking of North Korea, whose nuclear weapons program accelerated under Obama, hear the words of Otto Warmbier's father about his son being released after Trump took office: "I think the results speak for themselves."

Obama's "cautious and deliberate" approach was to let the young man languish in a North Korean prison while being tortured to near death.

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          With Iran's Profile Rising, Saudi Arabia Must Unite with U.S. on Terror   

In a Middle East country where terrorist attacks by suicide bombers are rare, Saudi Arabia suffered such an attack on June 23rd. Both target and timing were significant.

The target was Islam's holiest site - the Grand Mosque in Makkah; the timing was the last day of Ramadan, when attendance was unusually high as hundreds of thousands of worshipers gathered for afternoon prayers.

The good news was Saudi security, learning in advance of the planned attack, arrested five suspects. Closing in on the bomber forced him to detonate his explosives prematurely. The bad news was six foreign pilgrims were wounded.

As Riyadh launches an investigation into the attack, a betting man would take odds one country in particular-Iran-is involved, either directly or indirectly, to it. Investigators and legal authorities have linked Tehran to multiple attacks against the U.S., including the 1983 Beirut bombing of the Marine Barracks and the 9/11 attacks.

News of this attack undoubtedly causes some to think Saudi Arabia is finally getting its due for having exported Islamism for so long. Just like the U.S. made some bad decisions in the Middle East - President Jimmy Carter's support of Iran's Islamic revolution rather than the Shah, our long-time ally, and President Barack Obama's decision to provide Tehran with a path to nuclear weapons with his 2015 agreement are but two decisions quickly coming to mind - Riyadh too made a bad decision in exporting Islamism.

But while mutually bad past judgments have created a dangerous Middle East today, Saudi critics need understand now, more than ever, U.S. and Saudi interests must be aligned to confront the same threat. Failure to do so will only enhance Iranian efforts to establish a "Shia Crescent."

Ever since the mullahs came to power in 1979, they have been motivated by the goal to establish a Middle East caliphate that would enable them to expand globally.

For eight years, Obama gave Tehran a free pass to do just that, outrageously claiming it was important Saudi Arabia learn to "share the neighborhood."

For those doubting Iran's expansionist goals and evil intentions, two provisions of its own constitution make them clear.

The first mandates the Islamic revolution be exported outside Iran's borders. No other nation's constitution claims the right of such extra-territoriality.

We have borne witness of this mandate during the mullahs' 38-year reign, demonstrating that no country is safe from it. Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela - all these countries and others share an Iranian or Iranian proxy presence focused on expanding Tehran's ideological empire. Some seek to do it aggressively, others subtly.

But what should concern us even more than its extra-territorial application is the constitution's leadership succession provision. Why? Because it sheds light on the mullahs' real motivation for acquiring nuclear weapons.

Any well-conceived constitution provides a clear provision for a serving leader's succession should the unexpected occur, such as death or incapacity. In the case of Iran's highest office holder, the Supreme Leader, its constitution does that. But it also adds a third "otherworldly" contingency.

The Iranians believe that the "Twelfth Imam" or "Mahdi" disappeared in the tenth century at the age of five, entering into a state of occultation. They believe he will remain there until returning to Earth to lead Shia-Islam to global domination in an end-of-world prophecy.

The catch, however, is that the Mahdi's return must be triggered by world chaos. Unlike most believers in Mahdi's return, the mullahs believe mankind can be a catalyst in triggering that chaos. This should cause us serious concern about Iran acquiring nuclear weapons - concerns further reinforced by the constitutional requirement that upon his return, the Mahdi ("Wali al-Asr") will immediately replace the Supreme Leader.

A united and focused U.S.-Saudi alliance to check Iranian aggression has never been more timely. Both countries have been distracted from the Iran problem due to the Islamic State. But it appears the fall of ISIS is now "imminent" and the maneuvering of all parties involved in fighting ISIS in order to secure their goals in a post-ISIS world is already underway.

For the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, however, there is little ideological difference between confronting ISIS or confronting Iran. Both are Islamists seeking to create and control a caliphate. The only difference is, while ISIS did so as a terrorist Islamic movement, Iran seeks to do so under the protected status of a nation-state. Ironically, while Obama would never have considered negotiating a deal with ISIS for it to acquire nuclear weapons, he unwittingly willingly negotiated just such a deal with Tehran.

The post-ISIS battleground for the powers now involved there is Syria. Aligned on one side with Syrian President Bashar Assad are Iran, its Hezbollah proxy, and Russia. Confronting them is a less organized group consisting of the U.S., Saudi Arabia and its GCC coalition, pro-Western Kurdish and Arab anti-Assad rebels and, interestingly, Hamas, which lends its tunnel-digging expertise to the anti-Assad rebels they support. Also involved in a balancing act is Turkey which, while anti-ISIS, is also anti-Kurd.

Iran recognizes that how goes Syria, goes its Crescent, and is determined that nothing deter it from that goal. This undoubtedly is why Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently acknowledged something Obama would not: Middle East stability can only be achieved by regime change in Iran.

And last month, Trump dared go where Obama would not. When an Iranian mechanized convoy entered a 34-mile deconfliction zone around the Syria-Iraq border nearing a U.S. garrison, U.S. aircraft attacked and destroyed it. It was a bold step but one that had become increasingly necessary in the face of repeated aggressive acts against U.S. forces at sea. Days later an Iranian drone was shot down.

There should be little doubt that defeating ISIS is merely the end of a phase, not the end of war in Syria. The only way that can happen on terms favorable to the U.S. is through a united U.S.-Saudi effort dedicated to countering each and every aggressive act by Iran with a firm response on the battlefield-wherever that battlefield is situated.

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A version of this piece also appeared on http://www.breitbart.com/


          DINAR GURUS UPDATE, 30 JUNE   
6-30-2017   Intel Guru Bruce    I am very positive right now where we are.  I have heard some really good things the last couple of days... I want to say that finally we do believe Iraq has completed everything they needed to do. They did complete a series of announcements yesterday. We heard about that first hand...and we know they were the announcements we were looking to have happen. The flag

          Babbling by Elmer & the TNT Gang, 30 JUNE   
Elmerf123456: It's a great week. When the prime minister comes out and says post Mosul that Iraq will be a prosperous nation that is music to our ears! We are on the same page! We wait for prosperity! The wait got shorter today…. Thanks to the happenings on this Historic day in Mosul NetGlobal: Amen Elmer. I want to see what happens tomorrow with the release of the escrowed funds. Dpa820: Too

          BGG says HUGE NEWS! CBI changed their website! , 30 JUNE   
…This notice was from a June 26th [United Nations] meeting and only lasted 3 minutes and they adopted the resolution…the gist of it was they were gonna retain the funds contained therein until June 30th.  At which time all remaining funds will be transferred to the government of Iraq.  This unanimously adopted resolution under chapter VII of the United Nations Charter was adopted fully

          Elmer & the TNT Gang 6/29/17    
Nikki6144:  Just saw on CNN scroll: Mosul liberated. IS is no more in MosulElmerf123456: This early morning's news: I am speaking with my contact across the pond right now as we speak he's literally crying and sending me text after text and how things have changed he is praising God for the liberation of his country Praising God.... did you get that?Elmerf123456:  For the country of Iraq today

          DINAR GURUS UPDATE, 29 JUNE   
6-29-2017   Intel/Newshound Guru tman23     Iraqi Official Channel Announces End of IS in Mosul...the Iraqi official TV channel, al-Iraqiyah, announced the end of the organization in the city...TODAY JUNE 29th... AND WHAT A COINCIDENCE IN THE TIMING TO ANNOUNCE THE END OF ISIS IN MOSUL...ALTHOUGH WE EXPECTED THIS COINCIDENCE... THE COINCIDENCE IS JUST BEFORE THE START OF THE SECOND SEMESTER OF

          NEWS RECAP: Learn the benefits of the deletion of zeros from the Iraqi currency, 29 JUNE   
Central Bank: the deletion of zeros early in the year 2017Benefits:1.adraj Iraqi dinar in the global basket of currencies and dealing officially the world 's stock exchanges and financial markets.2.amkanah held economic agreements to deal in national currency as Iraq could hold payment in dinars instead of dollars when the contract to set up production lines deals or agreements Stirad goods

           RayRat Update for 6/29/17   
It is being reported from Iraqi citizens abroad that the Abadi speech referenced the following:1. The ending dash reign in Mosul.2. Stating that the country is free and moving forward to a stable and secure life for all citizens.3. Declares the end of ISIS rule in Mosul.  #wearethepeople

          DINAR UPDATES, 29 JUNE   
Wmawhite   Mr. Flannery with Citibank in Iraq spoke about them a year ago…the removal of obstacle of the free movement of the Iraqi dinar around the globe…how else is the Iraqi currency going to move freely around the globe?   A guy that knows this…he said it. His employer…Citibank one of the largest financial institutions on the globe is working in conjunction with the Trade Bank of Iraq for

          TNT UPDATE, 29 JUNE   
TNT Thursday UPDATE for June 29, 2017 It is being reported from Iraqi citizens abroad that the Abadi speech referenced the following:1. The ending dash reign in Mosul.2. Stating that the country is free and moving forward to a stable and secure life for all citizens.3. Declares the end of ISIS rule in Mosul.  #wearethepeople ************SassyD: Just remembering Christine Lagarde and her 7's.....

          The Truth Room Chat, 29 JUNE   
The Truth Room Chat:Tman23: Iraqi Official Channel Announces End of IS in Mosul.....the Iraqi official TV channel, al-Iraqiyah, announced the end of the organization in the city.......TODAY JUNE 29th........ AND WHAT A COINCIDENCE IN THE TIMING TO ANNOUNCE THE END OF ISIS IN MOSUL......ALTHOUGH WE EXPECTED THIS COINCIDENCE......THE COINCIDENCE IS JUST BEFORE THE START OF THE SECOND SEMESTER OF

          IRAQ - Delete the Zeros , 29 JUNE   
Iraq - Delete the Zeros.  If you read carefully, there will be a new currency with a new design.  The CBI will accept the old (current) notes for a period of ten years - in-country.  There is NO mention of any Iraqi currency outside of the country.  This will prevent ISIS and other bad actors from cashing into the new currency.  This is NOT a revaluation.  There is no mention of such.  It is

          MNT GOAT UPDATE, 29 JUNE   
Hi Everyone,I bring you much news today.  Now it’s all about concluding the fighting with ISIS and Abadi making his famous announcement that we have waiting for over 2.5 years for.He will tell us that it is “fully” done and they are moving on to the next phase of peace and prosperity for the people and the country as a whole. These are exciting times for Iraq. I fully expect this

          Cardiff doctor first in Wales to win top medical award   
Dr Laith AlRubaiy, originally from Iraq, says he is "very protective" of the NHS in Wales.
          'Their fictitious state has fallen': Iraq declares end of IS 'caliphate'   

Iraqi government troops has captured the mosque in Mosul from where Islamic State proclaimed its self-styled caliphate three years ago.
           Iraq nearly ready to declare victory against IS in Mosul    
Iraqi forces launched a gruelling battle for Mosul more than eight months ago, and still have 200-300 IS fighters to contend with
          CIA Analyst Reveals Zionists’ Role in Planning U.S. Invasion of Iraq   
News Item...
          Secret Memos Reveal Bush Saw Iraq War as ‘Christian’ Crusade   
News Item...
          Department of Defense Press Briefing by Colonel Dillon via Teleconference From Baghdad, Iraq   
News Transcripts document all DoD news briefings and significant interviews.
          DJ MARK KLAZZIK SUNDAY MIX    
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The Game-Why you hate the Game Kanye west-We major Hi tek-Music for Life Hi Tek-Just began Da youngstas-Who's the Mic Onyx-walk in New York CNN-Iraq Ghostface Killah-Nutmeg Heather B-My kinda nigga Public Enemy-Shut Em Down Mos Def & Talib Kweli-Definition Mos Def & Talib Kweli-Re:Definition Grand puba-Reel to reel Jeru da Damaja-dirty rotten scroundrels Illegal -we Getz busy Mobb deep-Street life Gang starr-code of the streets Talib kweli & hi tek-the blast Junior mafia-Realms of junior mafia
          Talk Show America 10/22/2011   
itunes pic
Ghadaffi is dead ! Who Cares ? Solyndra scandal, Obama admin loans Elec car Co 1/2 billion to make cars in Finland !, The Occupy Wall Street Protester Morons, Obama announces end to Iraq War because his poll numbers suck !
          U.S. General Says Troops In Syria “Just Getting Started,” And They Will Be Around “For A While”   

United States troops in Syria for a long time to come, according to the senior US general leading the operation against ISIS

U.S. General Stephen Townsend told CBS News that the United States is in Syria “for a while” and is looking to fight another counter-insurgency war in Syria to destroy ISIS, or the Islamic State, after the fall of the group’s capital city, Raqqa. Townsend is the senior U.S. commander leading Operation Inherent Resolve, the military campaign to eliminate the Islamic State.

Most military observers expect that ISIS will return to its insurgency roots after Raqqa in the coming weeks. ISIS is also facing sure defeat in Mosul, its largest holding in Iraq, which it blitzed into in 2014.

Counter-insurgency campaigns can last decades. Colombia’s war against its Marxist guerrillas, the FARC, lasted for fifty years. The U.S. is still fighting the Taliban after 16 years of occupying Afghanistan. It was unclear if General Townsend realized he was sending the implicit message that the United States might be fighting in Syria for years to come.

Click here to continue and read more...


          Iraqi troops in mop-up operations in Mosul after key gains   
Iraqi troops were clearing up a key neighborhood in Mosul on Friday, commanders said, a day after making significant gains against Islamic State militants in the city and after the country’s prime minister declared an end to the extremist group’s self-proclaimed caliphate. Lt. Gen. Abdul Wahab al-Saadi and Lt. Col. Salam Hussein told The Associated […]
          Iraqi army captures Mosul Mosque, has taken over the Caliphate   
After almost eight grueling months of warfare Iraqi government troops on Thursday captured the ruined mosque at the heart of Islamic State’s de facto capital Mosul, and the prime minister declared the group’s self-styled caliphate at an end. Iraqi authorities expect the long battle for Mosul to end in coming days as remaining Islamic State […]
          U.S. death toll in Iraq at 4,262   
As of Friday, March 27, 2009, 4,262 U.S. military personnel have been killed since the beginning of the Iraq war, according to published reports. "We're Not In Kansas Anymore" brings together news, analysis and links to provide the latest information on the escalating wars and the peace movement.
          Dick Cheney Is No Wizard of Oz   
First of a four-part series on how the American military's use of depleted uranium is sickening our troops, as well as those of our allies and the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans.
          Depleted Uranium for Dummies   
The widely distributed and cited part three of the depleted uranium series: At the beginning of George W. Bush's 2003 invasion of Iraq, hundreds of thousands of 1991 Operation Desert Storm vets suffering from Gulf War Illness were praying that United Nations weapons inspectors were right and that Bush and Cheney were lying about Saddam Hussein possessing weapons of mass destruction (WMD). After all, most of the ailing vets were casualties of those weapons even though the Pentagon maintains that Iraq never used them. How could that be?
          GIs, Beware Radioactive Showers!   
Final part of the depleted uranium series by Irving Wesley Hall: Was Army Sgt. Michael Lee Tosto the first American victim of the Bush administration's March 2003 "Shock and Awe" attack on Iraq? The 24-year-old North Carolina tank operator died "mysteriously" in Baghdad on June 17, 2003.
          Turkey is taking care of refugees, but failing to integrate them   

THE refugee camp on the outskirts of Kahramanmaras, in Turkey's south, glows as brightly as the local officials singing its praises. The air-conditioned container-unit houses, home to 24,000 displaced Syrians and Iraqis, are spotless.


          Arrested suspects to be tried in September over deadly ISIL suicide attack in Turkey's Gaziantep   

The arrested suspects in the case into the deadly Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant attack in the southeastern province of Gaziantep last year will be tried on Sept. 19 in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri, DoAYan News Agency has reported.


          Do Comedy Central's news shows perpetuate racist stereotypes?   

Last night I watched The Daily Show and The Colbert Report at their 8 and 8:30 pm re-air times. As always, I took their commentary as sarcastic, but I wondered whether the rest of their audience did so . . . The commercials that played during the shows made me think that the individuals in Comedy Central's audience probably aren't all considering such shows to be satire. Among the commercials were one of Chevy's "This is Our Country" commercials. This particular commercial was less controversial than those which used images of the World Trade Center and Hurricane Katrina. This commercial used a ranch fence as a timeline for American history, the camera continuously panned left to right, through chronological eras of white ranchers with their Chevy trucks. Another commercial was for Comedy Central's Blue Collar Comedy Tour.


But it wasn't the commercials alone that made me think that the spoof news shows may do more to perpetuate racist stereotypes than to undercut them. It was the way that Stewart and Colbert portrayed the stereotypes and way the audience laughed at them. The stereotypes were mainly of Middle Eastern people, Israelis, Palestinians, Iraqis, Lebanese, and 'general Arabs.' The comics seemed more to be making fun of the people than the stereotypes and the audience seemed to be going along with it, it really disturbed me. Again tonight I watched the re-runs of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. This time there were less segments which employed Arab stereotypes for laughs, the stereotypes focused on the US political system, and they were funny, I enjoyed them. Maybe I'm too sensitive, or maybe the shows are racist, what do you think?


          News Coverage   

The EU -Africa Ministerial Conference on Migration and Development took place last week, November 22-23. I check Google News headlines daily because, for whatever reason, I think (or rather used to think) that it was relatively un-biased and represented the "most important," "need to know" stories, but over the past week I noticed nothing on this conference, which seems like a pretty big deal. Rather, I learned of the conference by way of allAfrica, where it made the front page on November 24th, right under the stories about Rwanda's decision to cut ties with France (more recent story). I wondered, what's up with Google? Have they become just like every other cotton candy news source? So, I Googled "Google News biased" (ironic? maybe), and found this from the USC (that's the University of Southern California, not South Carolina; it has been argued that the University of South Carolina is the original USC because it was established 75 years earlier than the University of Southern California, however I argue that the University of Southern California is the real USC because it aquired the web domain before South Carolina) Annenberg Center for Communication Online Journalism Review. Turns out that Google's algorithms are causing the bias. In trying to be un-biased by using algorithms, Google News is actually perpetuating a bias in news. Hmmm... I guess I'll have to look somewhere else for my news, maybe allAfrica. But wait, what's this? allAfrica is biased? Yup, from my Google search of "Google News biased," I found this, "It's not all Africa @ allAfrica.com." Can good news be found anywhere?


Last night I happened across a television channel, LinkTV, while scanning the tube for something to dull my mind for a bit, to take a break from staring at my computer screen and writing. Scrolling through the channels, I stopped at what looked like a music video, a group of black men singing into the camera. I stopped because rather than being set in the streets of New York, LA, St. Louis, Atlanta, etc, the setting looked like a West African village. I was confused. My first thought was that this was some sort of statement being made by a US hip hop/rap group, deliberately choosing, or creating, an "African" setting, but then I realized the men were not singing in English, I couldn't even recognize the language in which they were singing. By now I had figured out that this was a music video coming out of, that is produced in, Africa, but I was still confused because I couldn't figure out what place it had on the television set in my boyfriend's apartment in Irvine (Orange County), California; he doesn't subscribe to any special networks or packages, just the basic cable that all graduate student residents get with their rent. By this point my boyfriend was also glued to the tv, we kept asking each other, "What is this?" not because we didn't know what it was, but because we didn't know what it was doing in our living room without our solicitation of it. It turned out to be a video from Senegal. We watched a few others, another from Senegal, and one (or two?) from Mali, before a bumper popped up declaring the channel we were watching as, "LinkTV: Television Without Borders." We both expected a commercial and got up to leave the room, but no commercial came, instead an announcement, next up was a program that profiled Chinese restaurants across the world, this installment would be on Turkey
(the country), we sat back down and watched the whole thing all the way through, uninterupted, it was wonderful.


The bumper popped up again, we opened our laptops and googled "LinkTV." There we found out that LinkTV is a channel available via satellite (Wikipedia claims that it reaches 1 in 4 homes in the US), never runs commercials, and is funded by individual and organizational donations. We also found and watched, MOSAIC:World news from the Middle East. The first segment was on the recent increase of violence in Iraq. The tone was similar to that of BBC or CNN, and the segments began as would any FOX or CBS local or national news program, reporting the statistics, how many dead, where, who, by whom, but the video clips were much more extended, and showed more violence, more suffering, more women and children, less men with guns, and something I have never seen on the major network or cable news shows, refugees.


Back to the EU-Africa Conference and allAfrica . . . after reading the articles listed under the Conference headline on allAfrica, the only one I found to be intriguing was this one, "Senegal: 'Mankind is Like This - One Wants to Get Ahead'", which wasn't even directly related to the conference. I liked this article because it addressed migration on a personal level, telling the story of a man trying to migrate from Senegal to the Canary Islands. The story and the man addressed migration as a cultural practice, the other articles took the same, tired stance on Africa, migration, aid and development, even the conference notes did not mention the cultural significance of migration, rather contextualizing it in terms of aid and development from Europe and the US.


Like this blog post, African migration is a process, an activity (as you can probably tell, I really like this concept of activity), that should be analyzed by standing back and looking at the whole picture, while taking the time to zoom into particular practices. This approach produces the potential to recognize grand patterns and contextualize them appropriately, and conversely to recognize specific cases and pattern and contextualize them appropriately. Until then, such conferences and programs on migration, development, aid, etc will continue to target the symptoms, and then only to eradicate or alleviate, rather than accommodate them, not the causes of such "problems."


          U.S.-Backed Forces Look To Finish Islamic State In Mosul, Raqqa   
Islamic State (IS) extremists on June 30 were cut off and encircled in their self-declared capitals in Iraq and Syria, although more bloody fighting was predicted in the days ahead before final victory is declared, military officials and monitoring groups said.
          Civilians Flee Mosul As Iraqi Forces Claim Victory Is Near   
After eight months of fighting Islamic State militants in the city of Mosul, Iraqi forces say they are on the verge of victory. Civilians have been fleeing in their thousands as battles with hundreds of remaining militants raged around the Old City's grand mosque, where IS had declared their caliphate in 2014. (Reuters)
          Iraqi PM Declares End Of IS ‘Caliphate’ After Forces Take Mosul Mosque Ruins   
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi has declared an end to Islamic State’s (IS) self-declared “caliphate” -- three years to the day after it was proclaimed by the militants at a landmark mosque in Mosul that the extremist group has since destroyed.
          FASTER, PLEASE: Islamic State Is Near Defeat in Iraq, Prime Minister Says. “We are seeing the e…   
FASTER, PLEASE: Islamic State Is Near Defeat in Iraq, Prime Minister Says. “We are seeing the end of the fake Daesh state,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Twitter, using another name for Islamic State. “The liberation of Mosul proves that. We will not relent,” he added. Thursday’s recapture of the ruined Nouri mosque […]
          Law Enforcement GREAT AGAIN: Trump Just Had 199 People Arrested In Unexpected Overnight Raid   

Want to really get under the skin of a liberal? Start obeying the federal law and doing what Americans expect you to do. That’s what President Trump did when he ordered the arrest of 199 Iraqi citizens all over the country. And of course liberals are lambasting him for being heartless and breaking up families. […]

The post Law Enforcement GREAT AGAIN: Trump Just Had 199 People Arrested In Unexpected Overnight Raid appeared first on .


          By: Xennady   
MikeK, I take your points, and I know I'm an outlier here when it comes to my low opinion about Bush. But I am extremely tired of so-called leaders who deliver us various forms of defeat, then congratulate themselves because they haven't brought us complete disaster. I put Bush and Nixon in this category, both. It seems an interesting parallel that Nixon and Bush had foreign policies requiring significant and important military commitments- Vietnam and Iraq- yet they both failed because they were unable to manage the domestic political scene. Nixon was undone by Watergate, after relentless harassment by his enemies, then forced to resign. If I recall Ford later went down to the leftist-run Congress begging them to meet our treaty commitment to South Vietnam, but they refused. I've long regarded the abandonment of South Vietnam as a terrible stain on the honor of the US, but now I read that Nixon did it deliberately, convinced it didn't matter if we let our Vietnamese allies get murdered by our enemies. Huh? And all after we had spent vast amounts of blood and treasure on the struggle, too. I'm sorry, I just can't accept that. But I suspect that if Nixon hadn't been so distracted and weakened by Watergate South Vietnam may have been able to survive anyway, especially if the left hadn't been able to cut off US support. Bush wasn't any better. It seems by now Republicans should have figured out that leftists aren't their friends, and developed some sort of countermeasures. Instead, Bush simply wouldn't respond, tamely accepting blame for disasters not his fault, accepting idiotic policies in the name false comity, and refusing to make obvious political attacks on his political enemies, which were a key part of his job. I know it's pointless to offer advice now, and of course everyone's hindsight is famously excellent, but for Pete's sake you don't need to be an architect to notice that a building is burning down, either. Again, the buck stopped with Bush. Period. When the democrat senate refused to act upon his nominees, he should done a little more about it than nothing at all. He should have been pointing out that they were refusing to act, perhaps he should have even gotten mad about it, using the power of his office to make his objections known. And it actually mattered, because if Bush had been able to get his people in place perhaps Moussoui's infamous laptop would have been opened, preventing 9/11. Failing that happy eventuality, he could have made a political case against the democrats, appropriately blaming them for their actions, resulting in weaker opposition that maybe wouldn't have been so bold as to derail the nation's entire political discourse over something so idiotic as the Plame affair. That never happened, obviously. Worse, much worse, Bush seemingly delighted in pushing policy loathed by the rank-and-file supporters of the GOP. The Bush Amnesty bill and the intense opposition it engendered is well known, but I also recall a proposal to rewrite labor law that would have had the effect of eliminating overtime pay. Being that the GOP is essentially a middle-class party, and many middle-class voters get overtime pay, this was essentially a direct attack by the Bush administration upon a huge segment of its support. Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, successful presidents who also had intransigent opposition, a hostile press, general bad times and grim brutal warfare to contend with during the times in office would never have made such a stupid mistake, enraging their supporters for trivial gain. For sake of brevity I'll refrain from discussing the 2008 economic collapse. Anyway, because Bush was regarded by the public as a failure, radical narcissist Barry Obama became president, throwing away all we had gained in Iraq either because of sheer moronic idiocy or vile treason. Ugh. Again, I know I'm an outlier. But I humbly suggest we stop accepting the excuses we're given and just face facts: Both Nixon and Bush were failed Presidents. They failed at home, and they failed abroad. We just don't have enough lipstick to make them stop being pigs. Alas.
          By: Xennady   
<blockquote>Bush got the blame because the Leftist media are DNC operatives with bylines. They wanted to cover for Clinton and blame the Republican. It almost worked. There is no crime or malfeasance so large the Leftist media will not attempt to cover up or cast blame elsewhere. There is no innocent person they will not smear or even destroy in pursuit of that goal. Do not believe them on any subject. Like Jay Carney and Baghdad Bob, they are (highly) paid liars.</blockquote> This is absolutely spot on, and I agree with every word. But it is also incomplete, and I am not willing absolve Bush of events that took place on his watch. When I voted for him I thought I was voting for an end to the insane political correctness and general idiocy of the Clinton era. But no, didn't happen. Federal law enforcement had possession of Zacharias Moussoui's laptop for weeks before the attack, but never opened it for fear of being accused of profiling. What they would have found on it may have prevented the it. Later, somehow Jamie Gorelick ended up on the 9/11 commission, despite her role in causing the attack by erecting the infamous "Gorelick wall," intended to prevent the FBI and CIA from sharing info that would have revealed Clinton's illegal money trail from China. Of course, it also prevented those agencies from sharing info about terrorism. It seems to me that Bush both could and should have taken direct measures to change these two unhappy occurrences. I believe that if Bush, President and head of the executive branch, had more forcefully expressed his opposition to profiling the FBI agents involved may have been willing look at that laptop a little more closely than not at all. Plus, it was idiotic for Bush to accept the presence of Gorelick on the 9/11 commission, considering her role in causing it. Bush should have said so, plainly, openly, perhaps in a presidential speech, but in any case forcefully enough that the public would know and understand better just how the attacks were able to happen, naming names of who failed, especially Gorelick. But no, didn't happen- and the left was allowed to get away with their incompetence and treason, as well as learning that could easily roll Bush without consequence. Later, they accomplished this with great success during Iraq and Katrina, alas. The buck stopped with Bush, and that political failure is his legacy.
          Thousands of children still trapped in IS-held areas in Mosul   
The UN Childre's Fund (UNICEF) said on Thursday that thousands of children have been trapped in areas still held by the Islamic State (IS) militants in the old city of Mosul. "Children are facing multiple threats to their ...
          While The World Implodes   
Syria is a bloody mess……Iraq likewise…Afghanistan is waiting….Balkans are verbally hot…..South China Sea is boiling……you get it!  The world is far from a peaceful place and yet the man that is the most powerful person in the world spends his time bullying women on Twitter….. Not the first time that trump has attacked a woman … Continue reading While The World Implodes
          Are Tribes The Answer?   
Back in the Dark Ages of the Iraq War, 2007, the president decided that he would send more troops into Iraq to help with security for Baghdad and Anbar province……the general at the time, Patreues, also conned the tribes of Anbar into working with the US and to stop the advance of the AQ backed … Continue reading Are Tribes The Answer?
          ESCRAVA SEXUAL DO EL DIZ TER SIDO FORÇADA A COMER CARNE DO PRÓPRIO FILHO​    

A ex-escrava é yazidi, que não é árabe nem muçulmana, e por isso é considerada "demoníaca" por fanáticos islâmicos.

Uma escrava sexual do Estado Islâmico (EI) revelou ter sido forçada a comer a carne do próprio filho, que foi morto pelo grupo extremista.

A deputada Yazidi no parlamento iraquiano, Vian Dakhil, contou que a mãe foi deixada com fome e sede em uma cela por três dias. Depois desse período, a carne foi cozida e servida a ela com arroz.

"Eles apareceram com um prato de carne e arroz. Ela comeu por estava com muita fome", contou Vian em uma entrevista emocionante ao canal "Extra News", do Egito.

A mãe foi libertada junto com outras escravas pelas forças iraquianas que combatem o EI.

A ex-escrava é yazidi, que não é árabe nem muçulmana, e por isso é considerada "demoníaca" por fanáticos islâmicos. Como lembra o Page Not Found do O Globo, milhares yazidis foram mortos pelo EI nos últimos anos, muitos de forma cruel, e mulheres e crianças escravizadas.

(Fonte: Diário em Minuto)


          Iraq declares end of Isis reign after troops seize mosque   
The Isis reign in Iraq is over after troops seized the ruins of Mosul's grand mosque from the extremist group, the country's prime minister has said.
          Canada extends Iraq mission by two years   

nsnbc : Canada will extend the mission of 200 Canadian troops helping train Iraqi soldiers in the fight against Islamic State for two years. Troops will stay until the end of March 2019 said the Defense Ministry. In  joint statement, Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan and Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada will also make a […]

The post Canada extends Iraq mission by two years appeared first on nsnbc international.


          The Islamic State of Al-Qaeda   
By A.J. Caschetta (July 2017) With Iraqi forces now controlling most of Mosul and the siege of Raqqa underway, many are predicting the imminent demise of the Islamic State. ISIS propagandists argue that the caliphate can withstand the loss of territory, but without a state to fight for, many jihadis will look elsewhere for support and inspiration. A patient Ayman al Zawahiri hopes they will return to Al Qaeda, his organization since Osama bin Laden s death. more>>>...
          Defence minister extends Iraq military mission by two years and praises sniper’s long-range kill   

The Liberal government has extended Canada’s Iraq mission by another two years, an acknowledgement of the work yet ahead to defeat Daesh and train Iraqi forces.
          Rosneft in talks to develop disputed oilfields with Iraqi Kurdistan   
Russian deal near Kirkuk could reignite tensions with Baghdad, analysts say
          Iraq military says it has retaken iconic Mosul mosque   

          In Aleppo, Syria, a tentative sense of peace   

"We all want the war to end. But when and how is a problem that no one knows how to resolve."

By Josué Villalón 

IN LATE December 2016, the forces allied to President Bashar al Assad took definitive control of the city of Aleppo. The situation remains fragile, just six months since the bombings ceased in this great northern city of Syria, the largest city in the country and its principal industrial center that once numbered more than 2 million inhabitants.

“Now there are no more bombings and the streets are safe,” Chaldean Catholic Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo told international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need. He added, however, that “unfortunately the situation is not going to change greatly. The war will continue. It appears that Syria will remain divided, as has happened in Iraq.”

Syria_ruins in Aleppo streets.jpg

Arriving in Aleppo from the south of the city, the scene is one of total devastation. The area close to the international airport and the southern and eastern suburbs appear to be almost completely destroyed. There is scarcely a single building that has not been hit by the bombs—evident scars of the combat that lasted for almost four and a half years. The atmosphere of total desertion is interrupted only by soldiers at the various checkpoints.

“We all want the war to end. But when and how is a problem that no one knows how to resolve,” says Father George Abou Khazen, the Latin apostolic vicar of Syria, a Franciscan priest of the Custody of the Holy Land. The Franciscans first arrived in Aleppo in 1238 and since then never left this land, committed to help the most needy, working in education and striving to sponsor dialogue between religions.

Father Khazen reports that relations between the various different Christian rites, and indeed with the Muslims also, have always been good. He said: “The Syrians are an open-minded people. The country is made up of a broad mosaic of 18 different ethnic and religious groups who have always managed to get along together well.”

One of the biggest problems is that the economic situation has not improved. The devaluation of the currency and the lack of work mean that families are entirely dependent on outside aid. “If it were not for the Church, the NGOs and other charitable organizations, it would be impossible to live here,” says Father Sami Halak, a Jesuit in charge of Jesuit Refugee Services in Aleppo. Every day his organization distributes 9,000 hot meals and supports various different educational programs for young people.

“Many families, with an average of four members, need between 80,000 and 200,000 Syrian pounds a month in order to be able to live even modestly. Yet the average salary today is only around 30,000 Syrian pounds – and that is for those who can actually earn a wage, since the level of unemployment is extremely high,” Father Halak adds. The cost of basic necessities and housing has shot up because of the devaluation of the currency, which makes life very complicated in Aleppo. Before the war, a dollar was equivalent to 50 Syrian pounds, today it is equal to 550 Syrian pounds.

According to Bishop Audo, “the aid provided by the Catholic Church is increasing and now, with the liberation of Aleppo, there is a huge amount of work to be done.” This work is bearing fruit, however, as every parish has begun, little by little, registering new families who have returned to the city. In the case of the Latin-rite Catholic community, 15 families have returned, one of them from Italy and another from Germany.

“We don’t yet know the exact number of Chaldean families who have returned. I have been in contact with a number of them who have returned from Tartus and Latakia. But regardless of how many families are arriving, others are leaving because the situation is unstable, and they don’t know what is going to happen in the future,” the bishop said.

The Christian community in Aleppo is among those who have suffered most from the consequences of the war. Of the 150,000 Christians who used to live in the city in 2011 there are just some 35,000 left as of mid-2017. But not all of them have left. There are men like Dr. Nabil Antaki, a gastroenterologist, who has stayed put the whole time among the people, helping those wounded in the war and coordinating the project known as “A Drop of Milk,” which is supported by ACN and provides milk for 3,000 children each month.

Syria_Dr. Doctor Nabil Antaki.2.jpg

One of the doctor’s brothers was murdered by the rebels as he was driving from Aleppo to Homs . Antaki actually holds Canadian nationality, and his children are living in the United States, “but my wife and I told them that we were going to stay on here because we wanted to help those in need and our mission is here,” he said.

He believes that the war will end only when foreign powers cease funding the armed groups.  In his view, “it is not a war for democracy, it seems rather to be a war for the destruction of Syria.”

Another major problem is the exodus of the younger generation. All men aged between 18 and 42 are compulsorily recruited into the army by the government. There are only two exceptions: being a university student or the only male child in the family. For this reason one hardly sees any youths or men between 18 and 42 in the streets of Aleppo.

There are numerous women, either solitary or with children in their arms. Many of them are widows, while others had stayed on to care for their family while their husbands are serving in the army or have fled the country.

Bahe Salibi (not his real name) is a student of medicine at the University of Aleppo. He comes from Hasaka, in the northeast of the country. He came here because he wanted to become a doctor and help the sick and wounded. At first his family opposed this, because Aleppo was far away and not secure.

He could have completed his studies a year ago, but he has delayed his graduation in order to hold onto his dispensation from having to serve in the army. “I’m afraid, because this year I haven’t received the paper exempting me from military service. I hardly dare go out onto the street in case they identify me,” he said.

To-date, ACN has provided more than $20M in pastoral and humanitarian aid for Syria since the conflict began in 2011—much of which benefitted Christians and Muslims alike.

Ruins in the streets of Aleppo; Dr. Antaki; ACN photos

 

Support Christians in the Middle East button

          Aid to the Church in Need gives thanks for record year of donations   

The funds helped finance 5,303 projects in 148 countries.

By Jürgen Liminski 

NEW YORK--In 2016, international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has once again raised a record total in donations. Last year, ACN brought in close to $148M, topping the 2015 total by $5.7M. This was the highest total ever raised in a year. The funds helped finance 5,303 projects in 148 countries.

More than a quarter of the grants were awarded for projects in located in Africa, where the Church is growing very fast. The continent accounts for more than a third of all grant applications.

Countries located in the Saharan zone receive particular attention, as do northern Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania, all of which are countries where an aggressive form of Islam has been spreading.

Just behind funding for Africa came emergency and subsistence aid for Church communities in the Middle East, the cradle of Christianity. This support is vital for ensuring the survival of Christianity in the region. In the Middle East, Iraq and Syria received the most aid in 2016. This is of course due to the volatile political situation in these two nations.

Mass in Mozambique.2.jpg

More than $66M flowed into the crisis areas in the Middle East since 2011. This aid is expected to continue to grow exponentially in 2017 as ACN has launched a multi-million campaign to help displaced Christians return to their homes in areas newly liberated from the grip of ISIS.

As in the preceding years, the majority of the total aid was earmarked for rebuilding projects, which accounted for 30 percent of all spending; next came emergency aid for the Middle East and subsistence aid for women religious, as well as support for pastoral formation: some 30,000 catechists and pastoral agents around the world were among recipients of support.

In Central and Eastern Europe especially, the focus of the aid is shifting from building projects to training and continued education. The Balkan countries have moved to the center of attention in this part of the world, because radical forms of Islam are making itself felt there as well. Construction and repair of 1,200 chapels, churches, cathedrals and seminaries all over the world were financed in part by ACN, mostly in regions hard hit by natural disasters. One third of the building projects were in Africa.

Every ninth priest (or 43,015 in total) received help in the form of Mass stipends, especially in Africa (14,403) and Asia (11,293). That meant that every 22 seconds Mass was elebrated somewhere in the world for the intentions  of ACN donors. Aid was approved for 10,760 seminarians, a number equivalent to every eleventh seminarian worldwide. Most of them were preparing for the priesthood in Africa (4,667), Latin America (2,900) and Eastern Europe (1,577).

Training and/or subsistence aid was granted to 11,080 women religious, or every 62nd sister worldwide. In 2015, only every 67th sister received aid. In most cases, the help was in the form of subsistence aid for members of contemplative orders for women. Further funding was granted for to purchase 375 cars, 149 motorcycles and 239 bicycles as well as two boats.

ACN conducts fundraising through a network of national offices in 23 countries.

 Mass in Mozambique; ACN photo

Support the Suffering Church

          Iraqi forces recapture remains of historic Mosul mosque from ISIS   
In a major victory in the fight against ISIS, Iraqi forces recaptured the remains of Mosul's Great Mosque of al-Nuri. Video provided by Newsy
      
 
 

          ACRC Imóveis - Terreno à venda no bairro Ibiraquera   
105000
Ótimo terreno, localizado no bairro Ibiraquera na cidade de Imbituba, totalmente plano, fazendo frente em 27 m fundos em 18.38, totalizando 434,76 m². Para mais informações, ligue e converse com um de nossos corretores! (47) 3322-2868
Fri, 30 Jun 2017 19:15:40 -0400
          What should be the Jewish share of the Ottoman Empire?   

What should be the Jewish share of the Ottoman Empire? Does that seem like rather a strange question? Maybe that’s just because it hasn’t been asked before. When the Ottoman Empire crumbled the land was divvied up and new Middle East countries such as Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar were created. In 1900 there […]

The post What should be the Jewish share of the Ottoman Empire? appeared first on The Blogs | The Times of Israel.


          The Crimes of Islamic State   

Three years ago, on July 4, Abu Bakr el-Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State, ascended a pulpit in Mosul’s historic Al Nuri Grand Mosque and proclaimed himself ruler of its self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria. “I do not promise you, as the kings and rulers promise their followers and congregations, luxury, security and relaxation,” […]

The post The Crimes of Islamic State appeared first on The Blogs | The Times of Israel.


          Meet Arab Americans standing up for refugees   

Khamis.jpgNicole Khamis, Michigan Refugee Assistance Program

What was your motivation for founding MRAP?

My family is Palestinian and was forcibly displaced, so living in diaspora is my daily reality. I often have a hard time reconciling the opportunities I have, such as going to a school like Michigan or living in relatively safety, because I know many individuals who, just by virtue of living in a different part of the world, will never have the same opportunities I will have. Because of this, I have tried to use my privilege and my platform on campus to raise awareness about the refugee crisis while at the same time motivating students to let them know that just because we may be young does not mean we can’t mitigate the current crisis in some way.

One of my main motivations was that the summer before my senior year, I went to Jordan and was working at an international NGO, Caritas Amman. It was there that saw the faces of people I had only ever heard about in the news, and saw the magnitude of the crisis. I had so many interactions with individuals that continue to impact me, and I questioned how I could leave everything behind after what I saw. I decided I couldn’t. That experience motivated me to utilize my position as a student and make good on the opportunity I had as an American citizen. Additionally, after returning from Jordan, I had a lot of individuals asking me how they could help, and heard an overwhelming feeling of helplessness from many who felt they could not do anything because many of these crises, they felt, were so far away. I wanted to show individuals that the people who were impacted from these wars weren’t far away, as many had resettled in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. I knew we could find a way to help. That is when the idea of pairing students who were resourceful and compassionate with refugees who still needed assistance long after the three months of assistance they received from refugee resettlement agencies came about, and MRAP began!

Originally, when I started MRAP, I specifically wanted to focus on supplying local refugee resettlement agencies with volunteers. After putting out applications for volunteering with refugees, my team and I were overwhelmed- within a week, we had over 250 applications from students and community members. Immediately, I knew we had to capitalize on the momentum and the resources our diverse student body offered. That is when the idea came to start a student organization that would not only allow students to volunteer with refugees, but would also serve to educate the campus on this issue while advocating for refugees and immigrants. 

What are the goals of MRAP? 

 Michigan Refugee Assistance Program (MRAP for short) is a student organization that started recently on the simple idea that Michigan students could assist refugees right in the town of Ann Arbor, Michigan. The goal of our organization is to make Michigan a more welcoming community for refugees, while simultaneously using our platform as college students to stand with and advocate for refugees and immigrants, particularly in the current political climate. How we do this is two fold: first, we have several committees that do various activities and plan and execute events; second, we pair students with recently resettled refugee families from Syria and Iraq through our partnership with the Detroit Mayor’s Office and Samaritans. 

In what ways does MRAP advocate for and assist refugees in the Anna Arbor area?

Through our Welcoming Liaison Program with the Detroit Mayor’s Office and Samaritas, MRAP places students directly with refugees in their home. Students, by virtue of this partnership, have been able for the first time to work with refugees while being students on a college campus. This experience has allowed students to assist refugees in the ways that resettlement agencies sometimes aren’t able to do, particularly after agencies cease their assistance to refugees. Students have been involved with assisting refugees with learning english to signing up their children for soccer teams to even filling out tax forms. In the nuance of everyday life, things that may be common knowledge for many individuals born in the United States is knowledge that is lacking from newly resettled refugees, so students have been immensely helpful in picking up where refugee agencies left off. While a central aspect of MRAP is the interpersonal experience students get with refugees and using these experiences to build mutual understanding and breaking down stereotypes, our nature as a student group on campus has also allowed us to use our position as students to educate our fellow colleagues. Throughout our first year on the University of Michigan campus, we have held donation drives, movie screenings, and also had a sold-out capstone event in which we had participants from our Welcoming Liaison Program who were from Syria and Iraq talk about their experience going through the resettlement process. All of these events align with our central mission of raising awareness and equipping students to become world actors in international crises. We hope that with the knowledge we give our community comes action, and we’ve only seen more and more people become interested in wanted to help and being excited that there is finally a vessel to do something. 

As World Refugee Day is coming up, what are ways you think people, specifically young people in the U.S., can best assist refugees?

There are so many ways to help! First, reach out to your local refugee resettlement agency. If you have one nearby and ask if they need any donations. If you offer translation services or transportation that would be even better! Currently, refugee resettlement agencies are being cut off from funding, so any outside help they can get is critical. If you are moving out and have extra stuff, call local refugee resettlement agencies to see if you can donate your items! Monetary donations are always the most helpful and most needed. Lastly, educate yourself! It is so important to push back against the current xenophobic rhetoric that we are seeing by getting to know the facts; brush up on the intense vetting process that refugees must go through, or read up on current research that shows that resettling refugees is actually economically beneficial. Don’t think that just because the conflicts are distant that you won’t make an impact. It is critical to use the resources you have and the position you find yourself in mitigate this crisis. You don’t have to go abroad or have a specific degree to help- MRAP has proved that to me. 


15078530_10154749660369169_99700426416127466_n.jpgYasmin Hussein, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants

What is the nature of the work you do with USCRI? 

I am a Program Officer for the Reception and Placement program at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, one of the nine national voluntary agencies that do resettlement in the United States. The Reception and Placement program is the first program a refugee is enrolled in upon their arrival to the United States. This program assists refugees in the transition to life here in the United States. We assist our network of 39 agencies across the country in providing services to refugees.

Do you have a personal motivation for working with refugee assistance? 

Absolutely! I have committed to various causes since my days in college and knew that I wanted to be more involved in Refugee Resettlement. I have been invested in the cause both personally and now professionally and feel blessed that my "job" is doing something I am passionate about daily.

Part of the USCRI mission is the empower survivors; in what ways does USCRI empower survivors? And what are ways, in your opinion, that others can help empower refugee survivors in their communities?

USCRI empowers refugees by ensuring that their transition into life in the United States is as smooth as possible. For those of us who have moved from state to state or even from one home to another, we know how difficult the process of starting a new life in a new place can be, so can you only imagine how difficult it is for a refugee who has fled their homeland, house, family and friends for safety to start a new life in a place they have never been to. One way individuals who can empower refugees, is by employment! If you own a company or business, reach out to a local resettlement agency to discuss hiring refugees. For the rest of us, I believe the best way for communities around the country to help empower refugees is by volunteering at their local resettlement agencies.

As World Refugee Day is coming up, what are ways you think people, specifically people living in the U.S.., can best assist refugees? 

I believe the best way for communities around the country to help assist refugees is by volunteering at their local resettlement agencies. You can volunteer your time, expertise, in-kind or monetary donations, every little bit helps!

 


          Hundreds flee Mosul as Iraqi forces attack last pockets of 'IS' resistance   
Hundreds of civilians fled Mosul's Old City today as Iraqi forces slowly squeezed the last pockets of resistance from the so-called 'Islamic State' group.
          Iraqi Prime Minister declares end to IS caliphate    
Iraq's Prime Minister is declaring an end to the Islamic State group's self-proclaimed caliphate after Iraqi forces captured the compound of a landmark mosque in Mosul that was blown up last week.
          Open thread for night owls: Sen. Duckworth puts hold on notorious torture advocate's nomination   

Lindsay Maizland at Vox writes—Steven Bradbury wrote the memos authorizing torture. Trump wants him back in government. Bradbury, who was acting assistant attorney general during the George W. Bush administration, has been nominated to be general counsel in the Transportation Department. But a pissed-off veteran of the Iraq war had something to say about that:

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) placed a hold on Bradbury’s nomination after members of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee questioned Bradbury during a preliminary nomination hearing on Wednesday.

During the hearing, Duckworth led the charge against his nomination, drawing on her own experience working as an Army National Guard helicopter pilot in Iraq. In 2004, her helicopter was shot down and she lost both of her legs.

“When you’re stuck bleeding in a helicopter behind enemy lines like I was, you hope and pray that if the enemy finds you first, they treat you humanely,” she said. “Mr. Bradbury lacked moral conviction in the Bush White House, and I don’t think he can be trusted to stand up for the values I fought to defend, especially not in a Trump presidency.”

Duckworth went on to say that Bradbury placed American troops in danger by writing what became known as the torture memos. “The actions you helped justify put our troops in harm’s way, put our diplomats deployed overseas in harm’s way, and you compromised our nation’s very values,” she said.

Wanna see Duckworth take Bradbury down? Here ya go:

TOP COMMENTSHIGH IMPACT STORIES

QUOTATION

“This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition, though necessary both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society, is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments. That wealth and greatness are often regarded with the respect and admiration which are due only to wisdom and virtue; and that the contempt, of which vice and folly are the only proper objects, is often most unjustly bestowed upon poverty and weakness, has been the complaint of moralists in all ages.”
                    ~
Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments1759


TWEET OF THE DAY

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BLAST FROM THE PAST

At  Daily Kos on this date in 2005Agreement Signed to Build Nuclear Fusion Reactor: 

The existing crop of nuclear power plants all rely on fission, a somewhat messy process which yields some rather unpleasant radioactive waste products behind. So it's heartening to see that an international consortium has agreed to try to build a fusion reactor:

Science's quest to find a cheap and inexhaustible way to meet global energy needs took a major step forward on Tuesday when a 30-nation consortium chose France to host the world's first nuclear fusion reactor.

After months of wrangling, France defeated a bid from Japan and signed a deal to site the 10-billion-euroexperimental reactor in Cadarache, near Marseille.

The project will seek to turn seawater into fuel by mimicking the way the sun produces energy. It would be cleaner than current nuclear reactors, would not rely on enriched uranium fuel or produce plutonium.

It may be many, many years before this project yields any positive results, if it ever does. But given the twin problems of fossil fuel shortages and pollution that our current system faces, I think this is the kind of bold experiment we need to undertake.


On today’s Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin says work continues on the Gop’s Medicaid repeal bill, as leaders look for ways to bribe holdouts back into the fold. Trump’s tweets embarrass America, again. Nikki Haley seems happy about cutting UN peacekeeping. GunFAIL still dumb.

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          Syria Isytihar Daesh Lari Tinggalkan Aleppo   

HANYA 24 jam selepas kerajaan Iraq mengumumkan Daesh berjaya dihapuskan di negara berkenaan setelah kubu kuat militan itu di Mosul berjaya ditawan tentera kerajaan kini giliran bandar Aleppo di Syria diumumkan bebas daripada Daesh Aleppo ad...
          Tentera Iraq Tawan Semula Masjid Mosul   

Menara Nuri yang kini dijaga pengawal keselamatan BAGHDAD IRAQ Tentera Iraq sudah menawan semula Masjid Mosul yang sebelum ini di bawah kuasa tentera Daesh Memetik laporan Reuters tentera Iraq berjaya merampas semula selepas tiga tahun ia m...
          Article in the Pennsic Independent Newspaper   
This article features a dragon that my husband got when he was deployed in Iraq. There are a few mistakes but it is still cool.
          British Museum Acquires New Middle Eastern Photography With Help Of Art Fund   

The British Museum has acquired photographs by nine artists from across the Middle East with support from Art Fund. This new acquisition takes the British Museum's Middle East art collection in new directions capturing moments in time and engaging with recent and current histories.

Syrian artist Jaber Al Azmeh (b. 1973), in his series Resurrection, invited his sitters to
turn the Syrian government newspaper al-Baath upside down and make comments on it. These photographs are part of a free temporary display in Room 34 - Living histories: recent acquisitions of works on paper by contemporary Arab artists, until 22 October 2017. The work is shown together with recent acquisitions of posters, prints, drawings, photographs and artists' books. Many of the artists come from Syria, their work produced following the uprisings that began in 2011 that have since resulted in full scale civil war.

Four of the artists in this newly acquired group are from North Africa. Algerian-born Lydia Ouhrahmane (b. 1992) and French-Moroccan Leila Alaoui (1982-2016), focus on aspects of migration. Through the medium of Polaroids Ouhrahmane captures the caves where young Algerian migrants hide before making the crossing to Europe from Oran, while the brilliant photojournalist Leila Alaoui, killed in Burkina Faso, highlights the hope of young Tunisian migrants as well as the resignation clearly seen in the faces of refugees from Syria on the border with Lebanon. Tunisians Nidhal Chamekh (b. 1985) and Héla Ammar
(b. 1969) turn to events in their country prior to the revolution of 2011. Chamekh focuses on the Bread Riots of 1984, his subject Professor Fadhel Sassi, shot in Tunis, and Ammar on the conditions of prisoners in Tunisian jails.

Iraqi-Kurdish artist Jamal Penjwaney's darkly comic Saddam is Here, is intended to remind the viewer that Saddam's shadow still follows Iraqi society everywhere well after his demise.

There are two Iranian artists from different generations - Hengameh Golestan (b. 1952) captures a demonstration in 1979 by women against the wearing of the chador, while Newsha Tavakolian (b. 1981) in her photobook based on the idea of a childhood family album, reflects on the gritty, ordinary realities of everyday encounters in Tehran. Finally, in a direct connection with the Museum's historic collection is the work of Emy Kat (b. 1959) who depicts the now-derelict Jeddah house of Harry St John 'Abdullah' Philby, a British civil servant and explorer who became adviser to the first ruler of Saudi Arabia. His work is a direct counterpoint to the nearly 700 archaeological items collected by Philby on his travels, now held in the Museum.

This Art Fund support is part of an initiative begun in 2009, in which a capsule collection of photographs by Middle Eastern artists was created at the British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum. Many of the works acquired then were shown in 2012 at the V&A in an exhibition (13 Nov 2012 - 7 Apr 2013) with accompanying catalogue published by Steidl:
Light from the Middle East. A version of this exhibition, entitled True to Life: New Photography of the Middle East, was later shown at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery in 2014.

Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum, said: "We are hugely grateful for Art Fund's support of important acquisitions like these photographs. It is through collecting contemporary art like this that the British Museum's collection will continue to reflect the history of the world for future generations."

Stephen Deuchar, Art Fund director, said: "Many artists today are using the medium of photography to engage with unfolding events across the Middle East. Art Fund's establishment in 2009 of a special fund to facilitate collecting in this field by both the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum led to the formation of an important body of work, which this New Group of acquisitions now joins. We congratulate the British Museum curators on this imaginative and successful progression of a pioneering initiative."


          Islam boldly infiltrating America at alarming rate.    

A brand new, first-of-its-kind Muslim college at Berkeley, California, received its accreditation March 15, 2015 from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.   Zaytuna College has two co-founders.   One, Hamza Yusuf, states that this first Muslim college gives “our community its first accredited academic address in the U.S.  And we hope, God willing, that there will be more such Muslim colleges and universities to come.”

Most Americans know Islamic mosques are popping up all over the U.S., in big cities and in small rural towns.   Less know there are some 22 Islamic training camps (12 along the east coast and four in California).  I frequently fly between Israel and the U.S.   At security, men and women in Islamic headdresses perform security checks and handle baggage.   At a DC area mall, I observed the presence of almost as many Muslim mothers pushing baby strollers and trailed by their other children as there were women wearing traditional American garb.  Indeed, the Obama administration has instigated a massive, deliberate importation of Muslim refugees from Syria, Jordan and elsewhere.  This population is growing faster than most Americans care to admit.

In the old days, who would have cared how many nations or ideologies were seen, especially between Boston, New York and D.C.   I remember when the Hare Krishna converts seemed to be everywhere in D.C. as were women from India with their long dresses and forehead jewels, as an example.  But they didn’t fly airplanes into tall buildings or vow to kill all Americans who refused to convert to their religious beliefs.  What does a little Muslim college in Berkeley, California, have to do with a rapidly expanding Muslim presence in the United States? Believe me, just as all Germans were not Hitlers; all Muslims are not terrorists but a rose by any other name is still a rose.  Whether benign or guilty, the Quran is still the Quran and Sharia Law is Sharia Law.

Look at it this way.  If you see bees swarming in your attic, you instinctively know each bee is not dangerous.  In fact, the entire beehive, in the right place for the right purpose is beneficial.  Think honey.  But, what if your attic had two types of bees that had made their nests and were swarming and you couldn’t tell the difference between the two.  One was deadly and the other was not.  Now you have a dilemma that must be carefully solved.  An exterminator would surely rid your home of the deadly bees, preserving most of the honey bees.  Would you dare to intervene and try to coddle and preserve the killer bees the way the U.S. is coddling and preserving its Islamist enemies?  Bees build hives; Islamists build caliphates - and they kill people to do it.

Hatem Bazien, the second founder of the new Muslim college, does not appear to be of innocent intent.  Bazien was accused of whipping up anti-Semitism on campuses across the U.S. and also aided in the establishment of “Students for Justice in Palestine” which is an anti-Israel organization.  He supported the Iraqi insurgency, April 2004, at a rally in San Francisco and appeared to also call for an uprising in the U.S. during the rally.   Critics say he is “suspect,” and “any school associated with him is suspect.”  And one expert, Nonie Darwish, a human rights advocate and founder of “Arabs for Israel” said, “He (Bazien) is an anti-Israel activist and he uses academia to further his agenda.”  What would a proliferation of like-minded-Bazien-type Muslim colleges across the U.S. likely achieve over the coming years? 

Follow-the-dots!  Heed the clues!  To do otherwise is a recipe for disaster or is evidence of a suicide mission.  Which is it?  America must wake up before it is too late.  Over the past century, Progressive Socialists/Communists infiltrated academia, churches and local and national governments in America.  America has changed drastically.  Learning from the same playbook, Muslims are duplicating the Progressive wave and are infiltrating academia, churches and local and national governments.

America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, may land in the dustbin of history if her people fail to learn to differentiate between honey bees and killer bees, between Muslim pirates and the rest of Muslim society.  President Jefferson didn’t spare the Barbary Pirates.  So serious was the matter that he created the U.S. Navy to be the exterminator.

highlights: 

          1/35 Iraqi Medium Tank T-55 ENIGMA #1 Basic Set (Tamiya)   
Price:5,300 yen
Series:Aber Detail Photo-Etched Sets Series
Manufacturer:Aber
Release Date:Apr 2013
Type: Photo-etched
Description:

This is a set of photo-etched metal detail parts as shown here for the application described in the title.



          1/35 Iraqi Medium Tank T-55 ENIGMA #2 Fenders (Tamiya)   
Price:5,300 yen
Series:Aber Detail Photo-Etched Sets Series
Manufacturer:Aber
Release Date:Apr 2013
Type: Photo-etched
Description:

This is a set of photo-etched metal detail parts as shown here for the application described in the title.



          6/30/2017: Military staying in Iraq, with new freedom   
Canada’s military will remain in Iraq until at least March 2019, and will have a new flexibility that could raise human rights concerns. Hours after the initial announcement Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that, despite a NATO request for...
          More court challenges on travel ban   
A scaled-back version of President Donald Trump’s travel is now in force, stripped of provisions that brought protests and chaos at airports worldwide in January yet still likely to generate a new round of court fights. The new rules, the product of months of legal wrangling, aren’t so much an outright ban as a tightening of already-tough visa policies affecting citizens from six Muslim-majority countries. Refugees are covered, too. Administration officials promised that implementation this time, which started at 8 p.m. EDT (0000 GMT), would be orderly. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Dan Hetlage said his agency expected “business as usual at our ports of entry,” with all valid visa holders still being able to travel. Still, immigration and refugee advocates are vowing to challenge the new requirements and the administration has struggled to explain how the rules will make the United States safer. Under the temporary rules, citizens of Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iran and Yemen who already have visas will be allowed into the United States. But people from those countries who want new visas will now have to prove a close family relationship or an existing relationship with an entity like a school or business in the U.S. It’s unclear how significantly the new rules will affect travel. In most of the countries singled out, few people have the means for leisure travel. Those that do already face intensive screenings before being issued visas. Nevertheless, human rights groups girded for new legal battles. The American Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups challenging the ban, called the new criteria “extremely restrictive,” ”arbitrary” in their exclusions and designed to “disparage and condemn Muslims.” The state of Hawaii filed an emergency motion Thursday asking a federal judge to clarify that the administration cannot enforce the ban against relatives — such as grandparents, aunts or uncles — not included in the State Department’s definition of “bona fide” personal relationships. Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer met with customs officials and said he felt things would go smoothly. “For tonight, I’m anticipating few issues because, I think, there’s better preparation,” he told reporters at Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday night. “The federal government here, I think, has taken steps to avoid the havoc that occurred the last time.” Much of the confusion in January, when Trump’s first ban took effect, resulted from travelers with previously approved visas being kept off flights or barred entry on arrival in the United States. Immigration officials were instructed Thursday not to block anyone with valid travel documents and otherwise eligible to visit the United States. Karen Tumlin, legal director of the National Immigration Law Center, said the rules “would slam the door shut on so many who have waited for months or years to be reunited with their families.” Trump, who made a tough approach to immigration a cornerstone of his election campaign, issued a ban on travelers from the six countries, plus Iraq, shortly after taking office in January. His order also blocked refugees from any country. Trump said these were temporary measures needed to prevent terrorism until vetting procedures could be reviewed. Opponents noted that visa and refugee vetting were already strict and said there was no evidence that refugees or citizens of those six countries posed a threat. They saw the ban as part of Trump’s campaign promise to bar Muslims from entering the United States. Lower courts blocked the initial ban and a second, revised Trump order intended to overcome legal hurdles. The Supreme Court on Monday partially reinstated the revised ban but exempted travelers who could prove a “bona fide relationship” with a U.S. person or entity. The court offered only broad guidelines. In guidance issued late Wednesday, the State Department said the personal relationships would include a parent, spouse, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already in the United States. It does not include other relationships such as grandparents, grandchildren, aunts and uncles. On Thursday, the State and Homeland Security departments had both expanded the range of bona fide relationships to include fiancés. Business or professional links must be “formal, documented and formed in the ordinary course rather than for the purpose of evading” the ban. Journalists, students, workers or lecturers who have valid invitations or employment contracts in the U.S. would be exempt from the ban. The exemption does not apply to those who seek a relationship with an American business or educational institution purely for the purpose of avoiding the rules. Refugees from any country will face similar requirements. But the U.S. has almost filled its quota of 50,000 refugees for the budget year ending in September and the new rules won’t apply to the few remaining slots. With the Supreme Court set to consider the overall ban in October, the rules could change again. The travel ban may have the largest impact on Iranians. In 2015, the most recently available data, nearly 26,000 Iranians were allowed into the United States on visitor or tourist visas. Iranians made up the lion’s share of the roughly 65,000 foreigners from the six countries who visited with temporary, or non-immigrant visas that year. American journalist Paul Gottinger said he and his Iranian fiancee applied for a visa nearly a year ago but are still waiting on a decision. Gottinger says they were to wed at a Japanese garden in his parents’ home state of Minnesota this month but postponed the ceremony until August because they had not yet received the visa. Now, he expects they will have to delay again. “Every twist and turn of the courts, we’re holding our hearts and our stomachs are falling to the floor,” he said by phone from Turkey. The new regulations are also affecting the wedding plans of Rama Issa-Ibrahim, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York. She is Syrian-American and had planned to get married this fall. While her father in Syria may be able to get a visa, her aunts and uncles may well be blocked. “I
          Limited travel ban kicks in   
The Trump administration has set new criteria for visa applicants from six mainly Muslim nations and all refugees that require a “close” family or business tie to the United States. The move came after the Supreme Court partially restored President Donald Trump’s executive order that was widely criticized as a ban on Muslims. Visas that have already been approved will not be revoked, but instructions issued by the State Department Wednesday said that new applicants from Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iran and Yemen must prove a relationship with a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already in the United States to be eligible. The same requirement, with some exceptions, holds for would-be refugees from all nations that are still awaiting approval for admission to the U.S. Grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, fiancees or other extended family members are not considered to be close relationships, according to the guidelines that were issued in a cable sent to all U.S. embassies and consulates late on Wednesday. The new rules take effect at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Thursday (0000GMT on Friday), according to the cable, which was obtained by The Associated Press. As far as business or professional links are concerned, the State Department said a legitimate relationship must be “formal, documented and formed in the ordinary course rather than for the purpose of evading” the ban. Journalists, students, workers or lecturers who have valid invitations or employment contracts in the U.S. would be exempt from the ban. The exemption does not apply to those who seek a relationship with an American business or educational institution purely for the purpose of avoiding the rules, the cable said. A hotel reservation or car rental contract, even if it was pre-paid, would also not count, it said. Consular officers may grant other exemptions to applicants from the six nations if they have “previously established significant contacts with the United States;” ”significant business or professional obligations” in the U.S.; if they are an infant, adopted child or in need of urgent medical care; if they are traveling for business with a recognized international organization or the U.S. government or if they are a legal resident of Canada who applies for a visa in Canada, according to the cable. Meanwhile, the Middle East’s biggest airline says its flights to the United States are operating as normal as new travel guidelines come into effect for travelers for six mainly Muslim nations. Dubai-based Emirates said in response to questions on the travel ban Thursday that it “remains guided by the US Customs and Border Protection on this matter.” The carrier reminded passengers that they “must possess the appropriate travel documents, including a valid US entry visa, in order to travel.” On Monday, the Supreme Court partially lifted lower court injunctions against Trump’s executive order that had temporarily banned visas for citizens of the six countries. The justices’ ruling exempted applicants from the ban if they could prove a “bona fide relationship” with a U.S. person or entity, but the court offered only broad guidelines — suggesting they would include a relative, job offer or invitation to lecture in the U.S. — as to how that should be defined. Senior officials from the departments of State, Justice and Homeland Security had labored since the decision to clarify the ruling and Wednesday’s instructions were the result. The new guidance will remain in place until the Supreme Court issues a final ruling on the matter. Arguments before the justices will not be held until at least October, so the interim rules will remain in place at least until the fall. Shortly after taking office, Trump ordered the refugee ban and a travel ban affecting the six countries, plus Iraq. He said it was needed to protect the U.S. from terrorists, but opponents said it was unfairly harsh and was intended to meet his campaign promise to keep Muslims out of the United States. After a federal judge struck down the bans, Trump signed a revised order intended to overcome legal hurdles. That was also struck down by lower courts, but the Supreme Court’s action Monday partially reinstated it. The initial travel ban led to chaos at airports around the world, but because the guidelines exempt previously issued visas, similar problems are not expected. After a judge blocked the original ban, Trump issued a scaled-down order and the court’s action Monday further reduced the number of people who would be covered by it. Also, while the initial order took effect immediately, adding to the confusion, this one was delayed 72 hours after the court’s ruling. Under the new rules, would-be immigrants from the six countries who won a coveted visa in the government’s diversity lottery — a program that randomly awards 50,000 green cards annually to people from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States — will also have to prove they have a “bona fide relationship” with in the U.S. or are eligible for another waiver or face being banned for at least 90 days. That hurdle may be a difficult one for those immigrants to overcome, as many visa lottery winners don’t have relatives in the U.S. or jobs in advance of arriving in the country. Generally, winners in the diversity lottery only need prove they were born in an eligible county and have completed high school or have at least two years of work experience in an occupation that requires at least two other years of training or experience. ___ Alicia A. Caldwell contributed to this report. _______________________________________________________ Copyright © 2017 Capitol Hill Blue Copyright © 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved  
          End of IS caliphate declared: Iraqi forces enter destroyed Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul   
The development means that government troops are now in the heart of the Old City – Isis’s last redoubt in Mosul – and probably within a fortnight of recapturing its entirety
          A Pan-African agenda for the 21st century   
Sub-Title: 
Notes on the opening session of the 2nd Kwame Nkrumah Cultural and Intellectual Festival

On Monday 26 June 2017, a most important event for the future of the Global African family took place on African soil at the University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana.  It was a gathering of Africans and pan-Africanists, academics, activists, political leaders, students and youth from all over the world at the opening ceremony of the 2nd Kwame Nkrumah Pan-African Intellectual and Cultural Festival. 

In a day characterised by seriousness of purpose, commonality of ideas and sense of mission, the foundation of the meeting was set by Kwame Nkrumah Chair of African Studies Professor Horace Campbell who, in welcoming the participants, provided what can only be described as a masterful “update” of the state of the black condition globally. Prof Campbell achieved the simultaneous goal of updating participants on the specific struggles in specific regions but also demonstrated to all and sundry how their struggles are interlinked.

In what was described, by Joseph Engwenyu, a historian from Uganda, as the most powerful opening ceremony to any global conference that he has ever attended, nowhere was left untouched and analysed in Campbell’s welcome: from the struggles against neo-liberalism in Latin America and the deliberate overthrow of the ordered states of Libya, Iraq and Syria and North Africa and the Middle East, significantly worsening the lives of black citizens in these countries, but more importantly, reversing the possibilities of the economic and material advancement of the pan-African project which was being led by Libya.

In his roll call, Campbell noted the physical absence of Haiti, but was moved to invoke their presence in spirit, since he affirmed that it is impossible to hold a gathering of this nature without acknowledging Haiti, for its sacrifices in igniting the flame of African liberation globally.

Significantly, too, Campbell highlighted the fact of the re-articulation of renewed imperialist aggression by the United States against people of colour, both within and outside its borders. Arising out of this assessment, Campbell emphasised that the ultimate aim of the conference was to establish modes of deepening African unity and to identify concrete practical steps for charting the way forward as an agenda for pan-Africanism in the twenty-first century.

This theme of the need for unity was sustained and reinforced by strong solidarity messages, the most symbolic being delivered by Samia Nkrumah, the daughter of Ghana’s founding president and eminent pan-Africanist Kwame Nkrumah, who insisted on the need to re-affirm Nkrumah’s message of continental unity: one economy, one currency, one army, one foreign policy and one government.  Given the convening of a conference called under the name of Kwame Nkrumah, it was a significant wake-up call, which placed the ultimate vision of Nkrumah squarely at the centre of the consciousness of the participants.

The opening ceremony was presided over by the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana Professor Ebenezer Owusu. After the welcome statement by the Director of the Institute of African Studies Professor Dzodzi Tsikata, there were solidarity messages from Barbados, the former Prime Minister of Namibia, Nahas Nangula, representative of the Polisario liberation forces of Western Sahara, Mr M. M. Buyema and Samia Nkrumah, the daughter of Kwame Nkrumah. The President of Ghana was represented by Professor Kwesi Yankah, Deputy Minister of Education.

The highlight of the gathering of this opening ceremony of more than 400 persons in the Great Hall of the University of Ghana was the feature address, delivered by the Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Sir Hilary Beckles, whose contribution set the analytical and a programmatic guideline for the way forward for pan-Africanism to the mid-twenty-first century.

On reflecting upon the African condition in the context of the Western world’s claim to fighting a war on terror, Prof Beckles noted that no part of the world has had a more brutal experience of terrorism than the Caribbean under European slavery. Having established this fact, Beckles therefore set the stage for reflecting on a future pan-African project.

His proposed program was framed within a recounting of the stance taken by the major African states at the UN Durban World Conference Against Racism in which, according to his recounting, the formal leaders of Africa abandoned the Caribbean delegations in their call for reparations.  The powerful symbol left by Beckles was that of a mother (Africa) abandoning her scattered children (the Caribbean). He insisted that something had been broken and needed to be repaired. 

Beckles framed his argument on the basis that the Caribbean had “done its part” for Africa, from its intellectual, moral and organisational contribution to the struggles against colonialism and independence through the work of pan-Africanists like George Padmore, to the struggle against apartheid as seen in the work of reggae artistes like Bob Marley, to the military contribution of Cuba in Southern Africa. According to Beckles’s narrative, the children had never walked away from the mother, and that Africa, by turning her back on her children in their hour of need, had inflicted a deep wound in the relationship that needed to be healed.  Beckles therefore suggested that before any further forward movement could occur, the African mother would have to reach out to her children in global Africa, as part of the process of healing.

Symbolism aside, this call for the African mother to reach out to her children set the scene for the offering of practical and programmatic agenda which would emerge in the conference. This not only included the role of Africa in supporting the call to spearhead a reparations movement, but it forced upon the conference the need to think about the kind of agenda around which a program of reaching out between Africa and the Caribbean could be built.  This represents the first framework for a future pan-African agenda.

The second inference by Beckles, which created a framework for a future program of action for pan-Africanism, was his own recognition of a split between African states and African civil society, which was symbolised in Durban with the support for reparations from African civil society but a rejection of the call for reparations by the states. This recognition of the split over reparations was seen as symptomatic of a deeper crisis of the post-colonial independent state, in which elites have been cut off from the aspirations of the people.

This set the tone for a second major agenda issue of the conference: the need to re-examine the failures of an elite-led independence project and, relatedly, the failures of an elite-led pan-African project. Indeed, this has, at the time of writing, constituted a major aspect of the theoretical and practical aspects of the conference, with many of the papers focussing on re-examining the ideas of Walter Rodney, CLR James, George Padmore, WEB Dubois, Amilcar Cabral, Frantz Fanon, Kwame Nkrumah and others.

In addition, the question of overcoming many of the specific aspects of the failure and reversal of the independence and Pan-Africanism have been placed on the agenda. Thus, issues of education, land reform, an African currency, economic sovereignty, integration, indeed, a re-examining of every major aspect of the ongoing failures of post-colonial experience, was inspired by the recognition of the split between civil society and states.

Finally, above all else, the conference theme was “Global Africa 2063: Education for Reconstruction and Transformation”. The conference, and opening ceremony, created an excellent platform for future links between education institutions between Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, and North America, and the rethinking of the substance of education into a future pan-African project, towards meeting the African Union’s goal of a unified Africa by the year 2063.

Given the energy of the conference, the crisis of global capitalism, the sense of mission, and the feeling of the urgency of moment, Professor Campbell was moved to warn that African unity will come before 2063.  We await the formal release of the Accra Declaration of Action, as a way forward towards pan-Africanism into the twenty-first Century.

* TENNYSON S.D. JOSEPH teaches in the Department of Government, Sociology & Social Work at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill. He is a prolific writer who pens a weekly column in the Nation. He is the author of Decolonization in St. Lucia: Politics and Global Neoliberalism, 1945–2010, University Press of Mississippi, 2011.

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          CARICOM deals a blow to US plans for regime change in Venezuela    

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, Delcy Rodriguez, recently tweeted that the “US State Department deployed its ambassadors in the region to attack Venezuela. We come with renewed vigor to defeat them at the OAS.”

So said, so done. The US Ambassador to Guyana, Perry Holloway, spewed the US false narrative regarding Venezuela in our local newspapers. US ambassadors in a number of other Caribbean countries did the same. It was a coordinated attempt to mislead the people of Guyana and the region about what is really happening in Venezuela, and to apply pressure on members of CARICOM (Caribbean Community) and the OAS (Organization of American States) to succumb to US calls for intervention, with the aim of overthrowing the democratically elected government of President Nicolas Maduro.

US diplomats in Guyana, and for that matter throughout the Global South, are not diplomats in the strict sense of the word, and can be better described as political activists. They are constantly meddling in the internal affairs of the country they are stationed in, giving directives to the compliant neo-colonial regimes and actively undermining and destabilizing independent and anti-imperialist governments, such as the government in Venezuela.

This latest US psych-ops came just after the May 31st meeting of the OAS in Washington DC and just prior to the June 19th OAS meeting in Cancun, Mexico, where CARICOM member states took a firm and united anti-interventionist position in relation to the current situation in Venezuela, delivering a resounding defeat to the interventionist approach advocated by the US, Mexico, Peru and Panama,

Following the June 19th OAS meeting, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, Delcy Rodriguez, said: “Today we come with the strength of our people who took to the streets to denounce the interventionism of the Organization of American States, we come with the force of the rain of our commander Hugo Chavez. Independence and sovereignty triumphed today over the United States of America, with its brutal pressure, with its gross extortion, with its maneuvers…”

She added that the call for intervention encourages the “most violent, anti-democratic factions in our country,” and she thanked the Caribbean nations for their “deeply principled stand.”
In his letter and articles, US ambassador, Perry Holloway, had the temerity to lecture Guyana and other member-states of the OAS about their obligation to democracy and human rights. He stated that: “The diverse family of nations in the Americas recognizes democracy is a part of our collective DNA. Sixteen years ago in Peru, we underscored this principle with the adoption of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, affirming the right of the peoples of the Americas to democracy and obligating our governments to defend that right.”

I suggest that before US diplomats in the Caribbean and the Americas offer any criticism or advice to Venezuela or any member-state of the OAS on issues of democracy and human rights, they should first examine the behavior of their own government in relation to their undemocratic practices and policies, both internally and around the world, and their endless list of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Trump lays bare sham democracy

The only positive aspect of Trump’s presidency is that it is exposing, once and for all, the sham that parades as US democracy and concern for human rights. The entirely undemocratic nature of US internal and foreign policy is clear to all in 2017. Even that minority of citizens on this planet who still held out some hope that the US resembled anything close to a democracy, have now seen through the façade. American political philosopher, Sheldon S. Wolin, in his brilliant work, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism, renders a devastating critique of US democracy and is a vital read for anyone who wishes to understand the latent fascism that underpins the politics of this Empire.

Former US Attorney-General, Ramsay Clark, had this to say: “We’re not a democracy. It’s a terrible misunderstanding and a slander to the idea of democracy to call us that. In reality, we’re a plutocracy, a government by the wealthy.” He compared President George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler, and is on record as saying at the outset of the US invasion of Iraq, that it “will be genocide again,” adding that “the greatest crime since World War Two has been US foreign policy.”

As I watch the hue and cry over Trump’s actions, it reminds me of Adolph Hitler’s response to Europe’s criticism of his policies. He told them: “I am only doing out in the open what you have been doing behind closed doors for centuries.”

A meme that was circulated at the end of Obama’s presidency said it best: “Only in shallow, self-absorbed, privileged America could a leader drop 26,000 bombs on seven countries in a single year, and have citizens mourn the end of his term because he looked and sounded classy while doing it.”

The illusion highlighted in this meme picks up on the public relations stunt that has become a hallmark of the US establishment, and which Sheldon Wolin identifies as a major feature of the “inverted totalitarianism” that exists in the US today. He describes “inverted totalitarianism” as a state of affairs where a small ruling elite (the 1%) have established an authoritarian society which benefits them exclusively. In this society, corporations have corrupted and subverted democracy, and natural resources and labor are seen as mere commodities to be exploited for huge profits.

This status quo is maintained by a sophisticated propaganda machine that lulls the majority of people into apathy. Central to reinforcing this hegemon is a tightly controlled corporatized media, a mouthpiece for the establishment, that is constantly spinning fake news and false narratives, and emphasizing rabid consumerism, individualism and the politics of personality and sensationalism. Wolin, like Clark, compares modern day USA to Nazi Germany, pointing out that the form is different but the essence, that is, fascism, is the same.

Friendly fascism

Tirty-seven years ago, political scientist, Bertram Gross, coined the term “friendly fascism” and predicted the Orwellian reality we are witnessing today in the US. His thesis converges with the conclusions reached by Wolin, Clark and others.

In his farewell address at the end of his presidency in 1961, Republican Dwight Eisenhower, warned the American people about the dangers of the “Military Industrial Complex”, the control it exerted and its ability to, in his words, “weaken or destroy the very institutions and principles it was designed to protect.” This has surely come to pass.

So, before US diplomats such as Perry Holloway attempt to discredit the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, initiated by one of the most revered freedom fighters in the Americas, the late Hugo Chavez, and led today by President Nicolas Maduro and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela with the support of the majority of the people of Venezuela, they would do well to take a long and hard look at the crisis of democracy in their own country.

Let Mr. Holloway explain to Guyanese and the citizenry of all member-states of the OAS why, in 2017, Africans in the US continue to be gunned down in the streets on a regular basis.
Let him explain to us why the US has the largest number of persons imprisoned per capita in the world, and why the prisoners are disproportionately made up of Africans, Indigenous and other people of color, before he points the finger at a revolution that has lifted African and Indigenous Venezuelans out of debilitating discrimination and poverty.

Let Mr. Holloway address the situation of US political prisoners like Mumia Abu-Jamal, Jamil Al-Amin (formerly Rap Brown), Leonard Peltier and so many others who are languishing in US prisons before he speaks of Venezuela’s human rights record.

Let the US Ambassador focus on the shocking poverty and illiteracy statistics emerging from his own country, before he points the finger at the Bolivarian revolution which has made unprecedented gains in eradicating poverty and illiteracy amongst the masses of Venezuela’s poor. Anyone who visited oil rich Venezuela prior to the Bolivarian revolution can testify to the abhorrent conditions and the repressive measures used to subjugate the majority of Venezuelans, and in particular, African and Indigenous Venezuelans.

Does the Ambassador truly believe that his letters and articles, full of the usual delusional and empty rhetoric, would convince any of us that his government is concerned about democracy and human rights in Venezuela, or anywhere in the world for that matter, after we have witnessed the apocalyptic events in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and the list goes on?

Does Mr. Holloway think we have forgotten our own history in the Americas and the Caribbean, including the US orchestrated coups that overthrew the democratically elected governments of President Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, President Salvador Allende in Chile, Prime Minister Maurice Bishop in Grenada, President Manuel Zelaya in Honduras and the constitutional coup against President Dilma Rousseff in Brazil? What about the removal at gunpoint of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide by US military personnel in Haiti?

There is not the space in a single article to even list the US crimes in our region. Just to chronicle them warrants a book. If we were to list US crimes against the whole of humanity, we are looking at a library of books. The US Empire and the British, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch Empires that preceded it, have been without doubt the worst examples of terrorism in all of human history.

In his letter and article, Mr. Holloway advises that “when a government breaks with democracy, we must act in solidarity with its people, not through intervention or interference, but with diplomacy and mediation among all parties to help find a peaceful, democratic, and comprehensive solution.” Tell us Mr. Holloway: Are the examples listed above your idea of diplomacy and mediation?

These governments were not removed because of their lack of democracy or abuse of human rights. They were removed, like countless others throughout the Global South, because they were attempting to free their country from the clutches of the Empire, and liberate their wealth and resources so that they might benefit the masses of their people. Our own founding fathers in Guyana, Cheddi Jagan and Forbes Burnham, were subjected to the same destabilization tactics at the hands of the US government and its CIA.

Empire loses its grip

The US and its diplomats need to understand that with the advent of the internet and the availability of information in this day and age, the Empire has lost all credibility. There is no one left on earth who can be misled by their hollow and hypocritical rhetoric. Do not be fooled by those who dare not speak openly -- they are afraid of losing their visas and even worse reprisals. Regardless of their cowardice and silence, everyone knows that the Emperor is naked. Behind closed doors, even those satraps who publicly profess their allegiance, such as the Saudis, snigger and jeer at the hideous state of affairs in the United States of America.

As the US Empire crumbles, its vampires, who have sucked the blood of the sufferers for so long, are in panic mode because, despite their descent into blatant authoritarianism and fascism, they continue to lose their grip on the terrifying world they have created, as it spins more and more out of control. The ugly death squads such as Al Qaeda and ISIS, the very Frankensteins of their own making, are turning right back on them. As Malcom X observed so long ago, the chickens must come home to roost. One cannot keep up with the number of attacks in the US and Europe.

One of the vampires, largely credited with creating Al Qaeda, a former US National Security Advisor, and founder of the Rockefeller-controlled Trilateral Commission, Zbigniew Brzezinski, in a speech to British elites at Chatham House in 2008, spoke volumes when he said:

“…new and old major powers face still yet another novel reality, in some respects unprecedented, and it is that while the lethality of their power is greater than ever, their capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at an historical low…I once put it rather pungently, and I was flattered that the British Foreign Secretary repeated this… namely, in earlier times, it was easier to control a million people than physically to kill a million people. Today, it is infinitely easier to kill a million people than to control a million people.”

The majority of CARICOM countries are governed by neo-colonial political outfits and even they voted against US plans for regime change in Venezuela.”
The current US administration, like its predecessors, whether Democrat or Republican, is involved in just that, killing millions of people all over the world in its bid to control, and trying desperately to convince us of the absurd notion that that they are doing this in the name of democracy and human rights. Trouble is, no one is buying it? The majority of CARICOM countries are governed by neo-colonial political outfits and even they voted against US plans for regime change in Venezuela. The playbook is old and tired. Donald Trump just tied up an arms deal worth 350 billion US dollars with the corrupt and entirely undemocratic regime of Saudi Arabia, a regime that is without doubt the main proliferator of the ideology of Wahhabism and the movements intent on imposing this ideology worldwide, such as Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Al Nusra Front and ISIS. All these weapons to a government that is funding terrorism worldwide and committing genocide in Yemen.

And, when the power struggle between the Saudis and the Qataris surfaced, Trump paid lip service to the manufactured war on terror by publicly condemning Qatar’s support for terrorism, and days later sold the Qataris US military hardware worth 12 billion dollars. In light of this hypocrisy and blatant disregard for the victims of these rogue states and their global terrorist network, can you really expect us to believe that your concern with Venezuela is about lack of democracy and human rights?

No shame
Finally, to Mr. Holloway and his cohorts throughout the region, your expressed shock and horror about the so-called spillover from Venezuela’s current predicament was perhaps the most shameful part of your missive: “The spillover effects from Venezuela’s crisis are serious and growing, whether it is irregular migrant flows to countries in our region or the increasing flow of arms and criminal activity that affect the Caribbean in particular.”

This is rich coming from the people who illegally invaded Libya, murdered the Libyan leader and freedom fighter, Muammar Qaddafi in the street, and in so doing, destroyed the most prosperous and democratic nation on the African continent, causing a migration crisis of a magnitude never seen before. Your government handed over the nation of Libya to a conglomerate of thugs, criminals, terrorists and reactionary warlords, and this spillover continues to wreak havoc throughout Africa and the Arab Region six years on. Before you concern yourself with any spillover in the Caribbean, please deal with the spillover from your criminal invasion of Libya, a spillover that only this month reached Manchester, England.

In Guyana, the Americas and throughout the Global South, the masses of people are sick and tired of the same old playbook -- the one that is in fact the cause of the current situation in Venezuela. But then, that is part of the devil’s own script, cause the problem and then come to us as savior, with a solution. It plays like this: the US, through its infamous web of security agencies, NGOs, Aid Agencies, think-tanks and other Trojan horses, destabilize, sow confusion and do everything in their power to overthrow any government and subjugate any people that refuse to obey Empire. Recently, more than 300,000 Venezuelans took to the streets in support of President Nicolas Maduro and the Bolivarian Revolution.

The opposition held a demonstration that attracted 50,000. Of course, in your United States, the corporate media is reporting just the opposite. By the admission of your own president they are the purveyors of fake news and this is just another example of your country’s lack of democracy. The bottom line is this Mr. Holloway: your country and its government is no way fit to point the finger at anyone when it comes to infringement of democracy, democratic values and human rights.

In your letters and articles you ask: “If these things were happening in our own countries, would we not want the rest of our American family of nations to speak out, and reach out, to help restore fundamental democratic freedoms and respect for constitutional institutions?”

In your own words you proclaim that: “The Organization of American States has for decades provided a forum to discuss our greatest challenges and take action together to address them. The challenge before us today is the death spiral of democracy in Venezuela.”

What you say in the two quotes above is correct except for one thing, the challenge before us today is not the death spiral of democracy in Venezuela, it is the death spiral of democracy in the United States and an evil Empire spinning out of control.

You are right -- the OAS should take immediate action to prevent further terrorism and turmoil because the spillover worldwide from the crisis in the United States is serious and growing.

* GERALD A. PERREIRA is chairperson of the Guyanese organizations Black Consciousness Movement Guyana (BCMG) and Organization for the Victory of the People (OVP) and an executive member of the Caribbean Chapter of the Network in Defense of Humanity. He lived in Libya for many years, served in the Green March, an international battalion for the defense of the Al Fatah Revolution, and was an executive member of the World Mathaba based in Libya. This article previously appeared in Black Agenda Report.

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

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          Canadian PM Trudeau is not a friend of all God’s children   

Trudeau’s first cabinet was Africanless. Africans in Canada, from the continent and here questioned this move.  Many felt that the younger Trudeau took us for granted because his father Pierre Elliott Trudeau (October 18, 1919 – September 28, 2000) “opened” the doors for immigrants from the Caribbean and Africa. Eventually he did appoint Somali Toronto MP Ahmed Hussen to the federal cabinet as immigration minister.

Trudeau did appoint Indian-born Sikh Harjit Sajjan, MP for Vancouver South, minister of defence. Sikhs have a significantly different history in Canada than Africans.  The Sikh community is represented in all professional fields: medical, legal, technological, academic. Africans came kicking and screaming to the Western Hemisphere. Recently he has been questioned about “fibbing” about being the leader of a battle in Afghanistan. Sajjan said yearly defence spending will swell by more than 70 per cent, from $18.9 billion in 2016-17 to $32.7 billion in 2026-27. He promised $62.3 billion in new spending over 20 years.

Bardish Chagger is another India- born Canadian politician who is the current Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism.  Chagger was elected as a Liberal member of the House of Commons of Canada in 2015.  She is the first female Leader of the Government in the House of Commons by Trudeau.

Amarjeet Sohi is an Indian-Canadian politician, currently the Member of Parliament for Edmonton and the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities in the federal cabinet. He narrowly beat out strong community advocate Nigerian-born Chinwe Okelu.

Maryam Monsef is an Afghan Canadian politician, a Liberal member the House of Commons in 2015. She was previously the Minister of Democratic Institutions and president of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada until January 10, 2017.

Monsef has not had an easy ride. According to Wikipedia: “Monsef has been criticized for stating that she was born in Afghanistan, when in fact she was born in Iran. When this was revealed in September 2016, some commentators pointed out that this could lead to revocation of her Canadian citizenship and potential deportation, while others have criticized the absurdity of the present law or decried the importation of birtherism into Canadian politics. In an interview at that time, former MP Dean Del Mastro said that political workers in the 2014 municipal and 2015 federal campaigns knew she was not born in Afghanistan, but chose not to make an issue of it.”

Navdeep Singh Bains, the new minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development is a Canadian born Indian.

Canada’s role in Haiti should never be forgotten. Back in the day I discussed Haiti on the Black Commentator in an article: “Canada's Crimes Against Haiti” in   the October 27, 2005 issue. After reading Yves Engler and Anthony Fenton’s  volumeCanada in Haiti’, I pointed out: “The chapter ‘Responsibility to Protect or A Made in Ottawa Coup?’ points out the coup against Aristide was actually planned on Canadian soil. From January 31-February 1, 2003, Canada’s Secretary of State for Latin America and La Francophonie, Denis Paradis, played host to a high-level roundtable meeting dubbed, The Ottawa Initiative on Haiti. Surprise, surprise, no representative of Haiti’s elected government was invited. However, Otto Reich, then President George W. Bush’s appointee as Assistant Secretary State for the Western Hemisphere, was in attendance. Paradis leaked the fact that this meeting took place to journalist Michael Vastel, who reported the meeting in the March 15, 2003 edition of L’Actualite magazine. Another chapter, ‘Using NGOs to Destroy Democracy and the Canadian Military Connection’ exposes the shameful role played by many Canadian NGOs.”

Trudeau is a self-proclaimed “feminist”. The court is still out on this matter. A recent article in the British based Guardian newspaper questioned the Canadian Prime Minister: “A slight note of exasperation crept into Justin Trudeau’s voice, suggesting that this was a topic he had broached many times before. ‘I’m going to keep saying loud and clearly that I am a feminist until it is met with a shrug,’ he declared to an audience at the United Nations in New York.”

His words sparked delight around the world. But one year on, Trudeau’s heady promises have run into the realities of government, prompting the question: has electing a self-described feminist to helm of the country translated into real change for Canadian women?

Canada’s prime minister is moving the Great White North further to the right on foreign affairs. Trudeau’s father Pierre Elliot Trudeau opened the doors to draft resisters including myself who refused to fight against the Vietnamese people. I saw Africans in America and the Vietnamese as colonial subjects. Africans in the United States were colonized by Uncle Sam and the Vietnamese by the French. Wiki pointed out: “While Canada had previously participated in military action against Iraq  in the Gulf War of 1991, it refused to declare war against Iraq without United Nations approval.

The Iraq War began with the United States-led 2003 invasion. The Government of Canada did not at any time formally declare war against Iraq, and the level and nature of this participation, which changed over time, was controversial.

Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said on 10 October 2002 that Canada would, in fact, be part of a military coalition to invade Iraq if it were sanctioned by the United Nations. However, when the United States and the United Kingdom subsequently withdrew their diplomatic efforts to gain that UN sanction, Jean Chrétien announced in Parliament on 17 March 2003 that Canada would not participate in the pending invasion.”

However, this is not the full story. The “Big White Folks” as Paul Robeson called them speak with forked tongues. “Nevertheless, he offered the US and its soldiers his moral support. However, according to classified U.S. documents released by Wikileaks, a high-ranking Canadian official may have secretly promised to clandestinely support the invasion. Two days earlier, a quarter million people in Montreal had marched against the impending war. Major anti-war demonstrations had taken place in several other Canadian cities.” Chrétien’s moves had more to do with the growing opposition to the invasion than his political morality.  

The not so great white north has a checkered history in the African continent. Canada joined the imperialists and played with the white checkers. They played a significant role in the assassinations of Patrice Lumumba, Maurice Mpolo, and Joseph Okito on January 21, 1961. Ottawa came up on the wrong side of history on the question of the Congo. Yves Engler author of the illuminating volume, Canada in Africa: 300 years of aid and exploitation, pointed out: “Siding with Washington, Ottawa promoted ONUC) and UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold’s controversial anti-Lumumba position. ONUC was established in July 1960 to ensure the withdrawal of Belgian forces. 1,900 Canadian troops participated in the UN mission between 1960 and 1964, making this country’s military one of its more active members. There were almost always more Canadian officers at ONUC headquarters than those of any other nationality and the Canadians were concentrated in militarily important logistical positions including chief operations officer and chief signals officer.”

Canada opposed anticolonial struggles in Africa, supported apartheid South Africa and Idi Amin’s coup against Milton Obote (December 28 1925- October 10, 2005) who had led Uganda to independence in 1962 from British colonialism. He was overthrown by Amin in 1971. Canada played a role in the ousting of Lumumba in the Congo by the CIA, Belgium and Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga aka Joseph Mobutu and Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah.

The Great White North pressed African states to follow neoliberal policies, which have benefitted Canadian corporations. The Canadian International Development Perform points out: “Canada is a global mining giant and a leading player in Africa’s mining sector. 70% of the equity capital raised globally by the mining industry was raised on the Toronto (TSX) and Venture (TSXV) exchanges. Of the $10.3 billion in equity raised for mining on the TSX and TSXV in 2012 $1.9 billion or 18.5% was for projects in Latin America while another $1.7 billion or 16.5% was for projects in Africa.”   Canada played a role in the violence the Congo, Rwanda and Somali.  

Canada does have a Black Radical Tradition. However, we cannot expect Corporate Canada or the Black Misleadership Class to tell the story. That is on us on the Black Left.

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

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          Bush calls British sailors ‘hostages’ in Iran   
CAMP DAVID, Maryland (CNN) — President Bush on Saturday called Iran’s detention of 15 British sailors and marines “inexcusable behavior” and called for their release, referring to them as “hostages.” “The Iranians took these people out of Iraqi water,” said Bush, speaking at Camp David with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. “And it’s […]
          Robots sniff out bombs   
DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — As it increases its use of robots in war zones, the military will begin using an explosive-sniffing version that will allow soldiers to better detect roadside bombs, which account for more than 70 percent of U.S. casualties in Iraq. Fido is the first robot with an integrated explosives sensor. Burlington, Massachusetts-based […]
          Somonte, desalojada por la Guardia Civil esta mañana   

La finca autogestionada por trabajadores en paro ha sido desalojada hace escasos minutos por orden judicial, un año después de su reocupación.

El 28 de Junio de 2016, Somonte volvió a manos del pueblo que cuidó y labró esta finca pública, abandonada por la Junta de Andalucía, desde 2012. Como se recordará, la finca fue ocupada por el SAT hace cuatro años, el día antes de ponerse a subasta. La Junta de Andalucía, que disponía en 2010 de unas 20.000 Ha. de tierra pública, comenzó a deshacerse de este patrimonio público agrario para malvenderlo a especuladores y terratenientes. El Sindicato Andaluz de Trabajadores (SAT) ha repetido en numerosas ocasiones que no quiere la propiedad de la tierra sino que ésta cumpla una función social en la creación de empleo y riqueza.

El Ministerio de Defensa iraquí ha anunciado este jueves el fin del grupo terrorista EIIL (Daesh, en árabe) en Irak.

“Se ha terminado para siempre la existencia de Daesh en Irak”, ha celebrado la Cartera iraquí a través de un comunicado.

Mediante esta nota, el Ministerio iraquí ha informado que ninguna otra zona en la ciudad de Mosul (norte) está bajo el control de la banda terrorista takfirí.

Anteriormente, las fuerzas iraquíes informaron de la recuperación del control de la Gran Mezquita Al-Nuri, en el casco antiguo de Mosul, un lugar desde donde el líder terrorista Ibrahim al-Samarrai, alias Abu Bakr al-Bagdadi, anunció en 2014 la creación del denominado califato bajo el nombre ‘Estado Islámico’.

“Su estado ficticio ha caído”, ha festejado el portavoz militar iraquí, el general de brigada Yahya Rasul, a la televisión estatal iraquí y poco después, esta misma cadena ha reportado la caída del “mítico estado” en Irak, refiriéndose al llamado 'califato de Daesh'.

Las autoridades iraquíes informaron con anterioridad la destrucción de la mencionada mezquita, a veces denominada Torre de Pisa de Irak, a manos de los extremistas takfiríes, una medida que fue considerada como un signo de la inminente pérdida de los terroristas en Mosul.

En los últimos días, las fuerzas del Ejército iraquí han asediado las últimas posiciones de Daesh en las áreas meridionales del casco antiguo de Mosul y luchaban para acabar con la presencia de la totalidad de la ciudad, poniendo fin a su campaña de ochos meses.

La operaciones para liberar Mosul comenzaron el 17 de octubre de 2016: la parte oriental de esta urbe fue totalmente liberada el pasado 18 de enero y luego comenzó los combates para reconquistar la parte occidental, la cual tomó más tiempo debido al hecho de que es densamente más poblado y allí las calles son más estrechas. Estas condiciones dificultaron la lucha.

Aunque fue liberado el centro de concentración de Daesh y capital de facto de esta banda terrorista en el territorio iraquí, todavía no se ha terminado la lucha contra EIIL, por lo que las tropas iraquíes deben seguir luchando de forma esporádica contra sus integrantes que huyeron de Mosul.

De cualquier manera, el Ministerio de Defensa iraquí considera la caída de Daesh en Mosul como un símbolo del término de este grupo terrorista, ya que se trata de la pérdida más grande que sufrió EIIL desde su entrada desde Siria a Irak, donde han cometido todo tipo de crímenes contra el pueblo iraquí.

zss/ktg/ask/nal


          Hundreds flee Mosul as Iraqi forces squeeze extremists   
APTOPIX_Iraq_Mosul_39329Hundreds of civilians fled Mosul's Old City on Friday as Iraqi forces slowly squeezed the last pockets of Islamic State resistance, and the U.N. warned that the "intense and concentrated" fighting put innocent lives in even greater danger.
          A Cold War Turning Hot in the Middle East   
Mohammed Ayoob, The Strategist
The Cold War in the Middle East between Saudi Arabia and Iran is coming to a head. So far carried out with the help of proxies in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere, it's in danger of turning into a military confrontation between the two regional powers.
          Gunman who ambushed police left note, prayer, trail of rage   
(AP) — The military veteran who killed three law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge last summer left behind a suicide note, a prayer from an Islamic holy book and an online trail of his rage against police. Two days after a white police officer shot and killed a black man in Louisiana's capital, Gavin Long searched the internet for addresses, phone numbers and other personal information belonging to the two officers involved in the July 5 shooting of Alton Sterling, a prosecutor's report revealed Friday. Less than two weeks later, the 29-year-old black man from Kansas City, Missouri, traveled to Baton Rouge and ambushed law enforcement officers outside a convenience store and car wash near police headquarters. Armed with a semi-automatic rifle that he legally purchased, Long fatally shot three officers and wounded three others on July 17 before tactical officers killed him, ending a gun battle that lasted nearly 14 minutes that Sunday morning. Long wore black clothing and a ski mask and was armed with two rifles and a pistol when he parked his rental car near a beauty supply store and approached an empty police vehicle at the convenience store next door. Long never saw combat in Iraq, but he told doctors he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder because a friend showed him videos of maimed and decapitated bodies, medical records showed.
          Is the US Really Ready for 'Unprecedented Actions' in Syria?   

Commenting on the above report, Alexander Gusev, a political analyst and director of the Institute for Strategic Planning noted to Sputnik Radio that the US broadcaster has previously discredited itself more than once, however this time the information might be truthful.

He pointed out that CNN reported on the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, along with two destroyers and two cruisers being deployed in the eastern Mediterranean Sea for routine patrol positions.

"The destroyers and cruisers could fire Tomahawk missiles without putting pilots in manned aircraft at risk. In addition, dozens of aircraft already in the Middle East for operations against ISIS (Daesh) in Syria and Iraq could be used in a potential strike," the broadcaster said.

In this connection, Alexander Gusev recalled the US missile attack on April 7, when it fired Tomahawk missiles at Shayrat airbase following claims that President Assad allegedly launched a chemical attack at Syria's Khan Sheikhoun. Damascus rejected all the accusations.


          U.S. Retreats From Al-Tanf – Gives Up on Occupying South East Syria   

The U.S. plan was to move from al-Tanf north towards the Euphrates river and to thereby capture and control the whole south-east of Syria. But Syria and its allies made an unexpected move and prevented that plan. The invaders are now cut off from the Euphrates by a Syrian west-to-east line that ends at the Iraqi border. On the Iraqi side elements of the Popular Military Unites under the command of the Iraqi government are moving to meet the Syrian forces at the border.The U.S. invaders are now sitting in the mid of a piece of rather useless desert around al-Tanf where their only option is to die of boredom or to move back to Jordan from where they came.

Syria Summary – The End Of The War Is Now In Sight – June 13

The U.S. military even moved a HIMARS missile launcher with 300 km reach from nearby Jordan to al-Tanf. That was a laughable stunt. It made no difference in capabilities from the earlier launcher position in Jordan just a few miles west. But someone the U.S. military believed that showing off such weapons in a doomed area would impress Syrian or Russian forces and change the facts of life. It didn’t. It was clear that the U.S. would have to move out.

That now seems to happen. A knowledgeable source just posted:
TØM C?T?@TomtheBasedCat – 3:38 PM – 29 Jun 2017:

Evidently Tanf FSA really are being flown to Shaddadi. Plan C is in effect.
There were several rumors to this regard since yesterday and the above now confirms them.


          6 Trigger Points: How the Conflict Between the United States and Iran Is Fast Escalating Toward War   

The long-simmering conflict between the United States and Iran is fast escalating toward war. The battlefield is the desert expanse of eastern Syria where civil war has raged for the last five years. Tehran wants to keep U.S. forces out of the area, while Washington wants to use the region to wage war against Iran’s ally, Syria.

After 15 years of unsuccessful war in Afghanistan and Iraq, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the Trump administration is pursuing a policy of "regime change" in Iran that might lead to a third U.S. ground war in the Middle East since 2001.

Restraint is breaking down. While President Obama resisted U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war, Trump has approved it. While Obama pursued dialog with Iran, Trump has embraced the new Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who laid down his country’s new, harsher line in April. ‘We will not wait until the battle is in Saudi Arabia," he said, "but we will work so the battle is there in Iran."

Secretary of Defense James Mattis, while resisting White House pressure for rapid escalation, has given battlefield commanders more leeway to attack Iranian-backed forces. The result is a series of unprecedented incidents that have Washington experts asking “Is Trump preparing for a conflict with Iran?"


          Comment on Protecting The Terrorists? US Forces Evacuate ISIS-Daesh Commanders by PHILIPPINES: A Real Threat to Washington’s Interests in Asia, Triggers ‘Operation ISIS’ | Hizb News Feed   
[…] rumors have been reported of rescue and evacuation operations of terrorists in Syria and Iraq. While it is hard to know where exactly the terrorists […]
          Iraq’s PM Declares The End Of The ISIS Caliphate After Forces Retake Control Of Mosul   
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          Iraqi leader declares end to IS caliphate but fight goes on   

Iraqi leader declares end to IS caliphate but fight goes onMOSUL, Iraq (AP) — With anti-Islamic State group forces on the offensive in both the Iraqi city of Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa, Iraq's prime minister on Thursday declared an end to the extremist group's self-proclaimed caliphate.



          Khamenei's representative says Islamic state's Baghdadi 'definitely dead': IRNA   

Khamenei's representative says Islamic state's Baghdadi 'definitely dead': IRNAIran's state news agency quoted a representative of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Thursday as saying Islamic State's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was "definitely dead". "Terrorist Baghdadi is definitely dead," IRNA quoted cleric Ali Shirazi, representative to the Quds Force, as saying, without elaborating.



          Bad Lip Reading: Iraqi Gold   
A bad lip reading of The Campaign. Bad Lip Reading | Previously: Eye of the Sparrow
          Dispatch From the Middle East: U.S. Buildup in Syria All About Iran   
TheAmericanConservative Dispatch From the Middle East: U.S. Buildup All About Iran Requiring an American wedge between Syria and Iraq. By SHARMINE NARWANI • June 28, 2017 DAMASCUS – As the drive to push ISIS out of its remaining territories in Syria and Iraq rapidly advances, the U.S. and its allied forces have entrenched themselves in the southeastern Syrian border town […]
          Comment on Report: ISIS barbarians feed murdered captive to mother by Iraqi MP says ISIS fed starving sex slave her own child’s corpse — Video – Republican RIse   
[…] This isn’t the first report of its kind as we noted here and here. […]
          Comment on ISIS barbarians execute captive by rolling tank over him by Iraqi MP says ISIS fed starving sex slave her own child’s corpse — Video – Defy Donald Trump   
[…] ISIS barbarians execute captive by rolling tank over him […]
          The VICE Morning Bulletin   
Trump commission wants to publish voter details, Iraqi troops recapture ISIS stronghold in Mosul, House passes two anti-immigration bills, and more.
          Apartamento, 2 quartos, 1 wc, 90m2, Carnaxide e Queijas.   
158000
Hall 12m2 com despensaSala 24m2 com lareiraQuartos 12m2 + varanda fechada, 14m2 com roupeiroCozinha 14m21 WC completo.
2 dormitórios 1 banheiros 90 m2 1.755 €/m² terraço
Fri, 30 Jun 2017 02:10:48 -0400
          Under President Macron, France can play a pivotal role in Western relations with Iran   
Since America ensured the MEK were transferred from Iraq to Albania this danger has become more acute. Albania is still struggling
          REVIEW: Alya Al-Sultani’s Collective X — debut performance at Out-Spoken at the Roundhouse Studio Theatre   
Generation X
Photo credit: Cleveland Watkiss


Alya Al-Sultani’s Collective X
(Out-Spoken — Roundhouse Sackler Studio Theatre. 27 June 2017. Review by AJ Dehany)

“This is the sexiest venue I’ve ever read at,” says poet Mona Arshi, performing at the Out-Spoken night of music and spoken word. As a professional theatre setup the Sackler Studio at the Roundhouse is sexy in a candlelit dinner sense, removed from the sweaty basements we usually cram into to hear people talk about their pain in rhyme.

Sex and pain, they’re the big ones. Mona Arshi’s poems Hummingbird and Taster, from her first book Small Hands, hum with ripe sexual jouissance. A new poem about her late brother documents the darker side of life: death. Four years ago she got the phone call we all dread, from the coroner while she was on a train.

Ben Norris, hosting the evening, reads from a long poem The Liquid U about his grandmother’s dementia and decline, remembering and even celebrating those black comic moments of joy and forgetting. It’s not a maudlin evening, in spite of the rain outside and world gone mad, but this edition of Out-Spoken as ever commits to a deep journey. Jolade Olusanya, taking a night out from film-making confesses he’s learned that as a writer “pain is my thing”, explaining that his is a philosophy encapsulated by Kahlil Gibran in The Prophet: “Pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.”

Pain is also real, though the pain of others is hard to imagine. If I cut my finger on a £20 note it’s definitely more painful than you getting knocked off Westminster Bridge by a Routemaster. But when the bandages come off, that’s when poets and musicians come in. To mangle Auden a bit, we must understand one another or die.

These themes converge in the darkest way in Banaz a song written for Banaz Mahmod, an Iraqi Kurdish woman who was raped, tortured and murdered by her own family in an ‘honour killing’ in 2007 in London. Alya Al-Sultani wrote this haunting piece, “to pay tribute to one of my sisters who is victim to a sexually moralising patriarchy… As an Iraqi woman who can raise my voice I’m going to raise my voice to her.”

It’s one of five hard-hitting, well-crafted, intently delivered songs by the singer, composer and producer for her new venture Collective X. Their debut at Out-Spoken is driven by the junkyard stomp of Mark Sanders on drums and Jay Darwish on bass, with skronky keyboard inventions from Clemens C. Poetzsch and Pat Thomas (of uncategorisable noise-groove machine Albert Newton) and the outside tenor sax of Robert Menzel.

Alya Al-Sultani conducts the group with authority, her rich voice uniquely steeped in British-Iraqi inflections and influences from soulful pop to hard reggae. Contributions from voice artist Cleveland Watkiss and poet Joshua Idehen add to the vital sense of a discussion happening. The songs range from 'Tinder shitfuckery’ and the fetishisation of the black body to “taking a moment” to find our love and understanding of each other.

Alya Al-Sultani wrote the material for the forthcoming album in the 24 hours following last year’s EU referendum, as a response to the rise of racism and the seeming loss of our collective reason. The album includes cover art of President Trump being bound and gagged by Alya herself. Hold that thought.

Out-Spoken  (website) returns on 19 July at the 100 Club.

Collective X’s album Love And Protest comes out in autumn.


             
My inner-cynic has figured out what's going on with the "debate" about torture in the Sentate. It's so obvious, I don't know why I didn't see it before. The Republicans are about to lose Congress, at least partially because the electorate has come to realize how dangerous it is to have the executive and legislative branches both controlled by the same party. Solution -- show the President having an argument with three of his staunchest supporters. Fake controversy. Voila. Extra benefit -- it distracts the press and the public from the awful news from the Iraq. Challenge to the Dems, get the focus back on Iraq, asap.
          Anuncian el final del Estado Islámico en Irak   
El Ministerio de Defensa iraquí da por reconquistada la ciudad de Mosul y con ello ganada la guerra, aún cuando sigan quedando focos terroristas en algunas regiones del país (particularmente, el provi ... - Fuente: www.rafapal.com
          Iraqi troops capture iconic al-Nuri mosque in Mosul   
Iraqi troops have captured the iconic mosque in which Islamic State's leader made his only known appearance - a symbolic victory a week after it was blown up by the jihadists.The 12th century Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul- now...
          Gunfire cuts short celebrations at recaptured Mosul mosque   
Iraqi soldiers snap victorious "selfies" and pose with a captured Islamic State group flag at the Mosul mosque where jihadist chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi once spoke."Where is Baghdadi?
          MiraQua: A Tiny Miracle   
Electric Cars | Future Technology | Transportation

Today there seems to be more and more and yet more vehicles on the road than ever. Everybody wants to have their own transport and a smaller car with least carbon emission seems to be an ideal solution for this inexhaustible number of cars that seem to be coming up. Tiny cars electrically driven but […]


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

          Who Is Making U.S. Foreign Policy?   
It’s a time of trial and tribulation for America’s allies and adversaries alike. Just what is U.S. policy these days? More fundamentally, who is deciding U.S. policy?

A presidential transition always creates uncertainty. Even when the Oval Office is passed between members of the same party, approaches and emphases differ. Personal connections vary. But today the differences are within a single administration.

Indeed, in virtually no area is policy settled.

President Donald Trump came into office committed to rapprochement with Russia. Yet even before taking office his defense secretary, Jim Mattis, sounded like bombastic Sen. John McCain in calling Moscow the greatest threat facing America. Later, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson demanded Russia’s withdrawal from Crimea—a political impossibility—before bilateral relations could improve. Now the U.S. military has shot down a Syrian plane, fielded by the Assad government, a Moscow ally, triggering Russian threats against U.S. aircraft.

Indeed, the latter threatens to drag America into the Syrian war as an active combatant, fighting not only the Islamic State but also the Assad government, Iran and Russia. In fact, his National Security Council was already pressing for a more active role against both the Assad government and Iranian-backed militias supporting Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, which would turn America into an active combatant in the six-year-old civil war. Yet candidate Trump criticized the Iraq War as well as proposals for entangling the United States in additional Middle Eastern conflicts. When his Republican competitors threatened to shoot down Russian planes, he called ISIS the priority. He later criticized Hillary Clinton as a warmonger, in part for her hawkish approach to the Mideast.

Read the entire article
          Amateur US American Female Soldier Gets Naughty In Iraq   
Watch Amateur US American Female Soldier Gets Naughty In Iraq at free fuck and porn video site
          Why Does it Matter That America Is Now a Villain?   
by Neil H. Buchanan

The annual Independence Day holiday festivities provide an opportunity to reflect on the unique place that the United States holds in world affairs, for better and for worse.  How much worse has it become because of Donald Trump?  And does it matter?

Back in 2008, as the Bush era was ending and we were attempting to assess the disturbing legacy of the Bush/Cheney Administration -- the falsified case for the Iraq invasion, the horrors at Abu Ghraib prison that had been perpetrated by U.S. Army and CIA personnel, the ongoing human rights disaster that was (and still is) the Guantanamo Bay prison, and on and on -- it had become obvious that the reputation of the United States as a beacon of hope had taken a huge hit in the eyes of the world.

In December of that year, I wrote a short essay, "Our Reputation Matters," expanding on an editorial in The New York Times that had argued for closing Guantanamo as a matter of both moral imperative and national self-interest.  The key argument in that editorial was that the world would not continue to follow the leadership of the U.S. if we were to continue -- especially, I would emphasize, under our new and idealistic president-elect -- to violate all standards of justice and decency by keeping the prison open.

We now know that Republicans and many Democrats prevented President Obama from delivering on that campaign promise.  Even so, U.S. standing and leadership in the world generally improved during the Obama years.  And now we have Trump.

In my 2008 essay, I used a 1945 movie (Roberto Rossellini's "Rome: Open City") about the Nazi occupation of Rome during the latter part of World War II as a vehicle to consider how the rest of the world thinks about a country.  In that great film, a Nazi officer is depicted as the essence of pure evil, cruel and amused by the pain and death that he could impose on vulnerable people.

This was, indeed, the general theme of the world's collective memory of that war.  The Allies were the Good Guys and the Axis Powers were the Bad Guys.  And although it is true that history would not be told in that way if the other side had won, the essential point is that Americans were able to say with considerable justification that we had ridden to the rescue of the world when it was faced with unimaginable evil.

In other words, it was not just that we won.  We had a more than defensible argument that it was good that we won.

I do not want to overstate the case, of course, because there are certainly plausible arguments that we took too long to act, that the use of the atomic bomb (twice) stains our legacy, and so on.  Without taking a position on any of those issues, however, the point is that the U.S. has since WWII been able to say that we have at least tried to be on the side of human advancement.

Americans are sure that, unlike that Nazi officer in Rossellini's film, we are not cruel people who inflict pain on other, weaker people for our own gratification.  That is what bad guys do.

And even those of us who refuse to forget the state-sponsored evils of the Jim Crow era, or the history of the Vietnam War, have always been able to say, "Well, we have never lived up to our highest ideals, but the world still looks to us with hope."  The only question has been how to do a better job of living up to that reputation as we move forward.

Finding out that "we" tortured people during the Bush era was bad enough.  What was much worse was that the people who ordered the torture never admitted that what they did was a blatant violation of international law, that they were never prosecuted, and that they found champions throughout the American political system -- most obviously among Republicans who thought that the TV show "24" was a how-to manual.

And then, through an eye-of-the-needle win made possible by one of the many racist and elitist features of our Constitution (the Electoral College), we improbably elected a president who thinks that the world's apparent esteem for the United States is nothing but a cover for laughing at us behind our backs.

Trump was in fact merely mainstreaming an idea that has been rumbling around in U.S. culture for decades.  In movies and television shows, sometimes seriously and sometimes as a joke, it is hardly uncommon to hear an American say to a Brit, a Frenchman, or anyone else: "You'd be speaking German right now if it wasn't for us, you ingrate!"

That a reunited (and politically reformed) Germany is the country that is stepping forward to lead where the U.S. has retreated is of some irony.  But the larger point is that even people who have long criticized the U.S. (and again, there are plenty of valid criticisms of U.S. actions over the decades, even as our overall track record has been defensible) have nonetheless had reason to think that we would take the lead to make good things happen.

For example, sometime in the mid-2000's, I recall watching a TV show that examined how the child abuse scandal that had rocked the Roman Catholic Church was playing out in Ireland.  During a tearful interview with a U.S. news outlet, an Irish activist said words to the effect that "I know the U.S. will do something to make the Irish government do the right thing, if only we can let them know what's happening."

That an idealistic non-American would be saying this about the U.S., even in the middle of the Bush era, was in some ways astounding, but in other ways it was completely unsurprising and even normal.  We were the superpower that at least had some reputation for doing good for the sake of doing good.  Of course we would do the right thing!

And now?  Last week, the Pew Research Center published the results of global polls showing that the Trump presidency has delivered a severe blow to the reputation of the U.S. around the world.  The Washington Post quoted Frank Wisner, a former U.S. diplomat:
"America’s image has taken hits in recent years, from the decision to invade Iraq to the events of 2007 and 2008, when the American financial model took a huge hit.  But the most consequential is the ascent of Mr. Trump to the Oval Office."
How bad is it?  At the end of the Obama Administration, 64% of the respondents in 37 countries had "confidence" in the U.S. president, as opposed to 22% now.  Showing that the world is still holding on to a historic sense that the U.S. is more than its current president, almost half of respondents still have a "favorable view of the U.S.," but that is down by 15% in 2017 polls compared to 2014-16.

Those numbers, moreover, are propped up by responses from Russia, where positive views of Trump (53%) show marked improvement from Russians' views of Obama (11% positive), and Israel (where the rise has been much smaller, 49% to 56%).  So other than in two very unique situations (at least one of which does not reflect especially well on Trump), Trump has dealt a huge blow to the reputation of the U.S. around the world.

The Post's Aaron Blake followed up on the release of the Pew polls with an analysis highlighting four devastating points:

(1) The world distrusts Trump more than even Vladimir Putin,

(2) In each of allied countries, 9 out of 10 view Trump as "arrogant," 7 in 10 as "dangerous,"

(3) Even nationalists don't love Trump, and

(4) Trump's reputation is already worse than George W. Bush's -- at the depths of his presidency.

But maybe none of this matters.  It is not as if the U.S. has any right to believe that it will be the most respected nation in the world.  Conservatives argue that America is exceptional for specific reasons, but they usually use those reasons to argue that we should be more politically conservative rather than as a call to take our global leadership seriously.

Maybe the U.S.'s leadership position in the world was merely a historical accident, and the next stages of history will see our country becoming ever less influential and isolated.  Other commentators have noted that Trump's version of America First is more accurately described as America Alone, so Trump and his followers might even welcome the idea that the world no longer thinks of us as the good guys.

There is, however, something about the founding documents of the United States that pushes irresistibly against this pessimistic view of the future.

As noted above, it is not as if those documents (even after amendments that erased the Three-Fifths Compromise and allowed women to vote, among other corrections) are not situated in a history of exploitation and white supremacy.  Consider, for example, that the Declaration of Independence includes this complaint about King George III:
"He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions."
Wide-eyed innocence is unwise, of course, but the fact is that even given the complicated historical context, the Declaration and the Constitution are uniquely optimistic statements of human capacity for doing good.  For example, the Declaration of Independence, far from being the anti-tax screed that many Republicans think it is, is actually a call for the rule of law and truly representative government (and taxation with representation).

The Trump presidency and everything it represents twist and mock the highest ideals of our founding documents.  Worse, Trump represents a catastrophic departure even from this country's highly imperfect and inconsistent efforts to live up to some of those ideals.

Trump has shown again and again that he sees no reason for the U.S. to do the right thing simply because it is the right thing, because then the world is supposedly "laughing at us."  (As opposed to what is happening now?)  Indeed, it seems unlikely that he knows the difference between right and wrong.

Everything is supposedly about getting a good "deal," but even there, Trump still does not understand that bargains are supposed to be win-win.  If the other side gets something good out of a deal, then Trump hates it (unless, of course, the other party is an authoritarian government).  Winning means nothing less than total domination.

This is the mindset of old-style corrupt political bosses and organized criminals.  Government and power more generally are useful for the purposes of enriching oneself and one's (currently useful, but completely expendable) associates.  It appears that Trump thinks we can only be great if we act like wise guys.

The rest of the world disagrees, of course, as well they should.  Unfortunately, it does not end there.  In the view of Trump and many of his Republican enablers, only some Americans are real Americans.  Trump and the vast majority of his party would happily take away health care from tens of millions of people, because those people evidently do not truly count as the Americans who should benefit from our supposed return to greatness.

The U.S. government, as it is constituted under Donald Trump, is now making us villains abroad and gratuitously cruel at home.  No matter what one thinks about whether we Americans should be able to think of our country as a unique force for good in the sweep of human history, we are doing real damage to real people everywhere.

Is it too much to ask, as we celebrate our nation's birth, that we at least stop moving in the wrong direction?
          Cool to be Brown   
Another reflection on Barack Obama by Luis Francia of New York who also mentions "Pareng Barack," and correctly points out that I missed an opportunity to discuss the role of African Americans in the Philippine-American War. Luis co-authoried the book Vestiges of War, about the bloody, but little-known, conflict that shaped Philippine-American relations over the past century.

The artist abroad
Cool to be Brown
By Luis H. Francia
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 09:37:00 01/27/2009

Filed Under: Elections, history, Politics

New York—“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. Yet that will be the beginning.”

That quote is from the late Louis L’Amour (a writer known for his novels about the American West) and is inscribed on the leather-bound journal that the new first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, gifted her outgoing predecessor, Laura Bush.

It’s an astute observation on the end of an eight-year stint, likely to have grown more and more uncomfortable towards its conclusion at the White House, and the start of a more unfettered life for Mrs. Bush, no longer bound by the protocol demanded by her being married to a head of state.

As for Mr. Bush himself, I’m not sure what he would make of that inscription (surely he would have read it by now) and what sort of beginning he envisions for the future. Upon being welcomed by well-wishers on his return to Texas, Bush said he and his family were glad to be back, and that he promised to stay.

Please do, Mr. Ex-president. Enjoy your ranch, and no longer cast your shadow on the rest of us. And I extend the same sentiment to the ex-vice-president, a man so passionate about public service he believed he had to do it in secret. Now he can team up with Sarah Palin and do some huntin’ and shootin’—as long as they clear out all humans within a fifty-mile radius.

On a larger scale, we can exhale, and even for a short while (god knows we deserve it) bask in contemplation of the rich array of possible beginnings, of renewal after wandering in the wilderness of fear, of hope after surviving the many assaults on democratic ideals. And bask a weary nation and a receptive world did on January 20, when close to two million people thronged Washington to celebrate the first black president in U.S. history and just as importantly its first multicultural chief executive.

Barack Hussein Obama is a man who grew up in Hawai’i and Indonesia, had a Kenyan father, a white, politically progressive mother whose roots can be traced to abolitionists and even the Revolution of 1776, and a half sister, Maya Soetero Ng, (half Indonesian and half American) married to a Chinese-Canadian. His wife, Michelle is descended from slaves, and has a cousin who’s a rabbi.

An improbable family in an improbable place: a scenario most of us couldn’t picture even as recently as a year ago, but one that reflects the growing diversity of this country, where twenty-five percent of white families and about fifty percent of black families have multiracial roots. They are all on the way to being Filipino!

Even more fitting is the fact that the swearing in took place, as it traditionally does, on the steps of the Capitol Building, built largely through the sweat of African slaves, a building that faces a mall where a slave market once stood. No one failed to note the irony and heady symbolism more than the new president, who noted of himself in his inaugural address, that he was “a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant” and who “can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.”

The 44th president also unequivocally repudiated the Orwellian mentality of the 43rd by declaring, “As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.” (Two of his first acts as chief executive have been to order a stop to torture and to shut down Guantánamo in a year’s time.) He also extended conciliatory, and welcome, words to the bête noire of rabid Christians: “To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.”

The Obama presidency can be seen as the culmination of several factors, from Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation to the Civil Rights movement, from the Supreme Court decision to desegregate public schools to Lyndon B. Johnson’s civil-rights legislation. But perhaps it owes much more to the countless individuals all across the spectrum of ethnicity who stood up to racism and injustice in their own lives (at times dying for their beliefs), some of whom we know, like Rosa Parks and Carlos Bulosan and Muhammad Ali, but most of whose names we will never learn but are surely inscribed in the hearts of their descendants.

What does the presidency of a black man mean to Filipino-Americans, themselves the beneficiaries of the black struggle? An incisive reflection on precisely this topic was published late last year: Pareng Barack: Filipinos in Obama’s America. Its author is Benjamin Pimentel, a Filipino journalist (and friend) living in San Francisco and on the staff of The San Francisco Chronicle for many years.

In 2007, he wrote his first novel, Mga Gerilya sa Powell Street (The Guerrillas of Powell Street), dramatizing the plight of Filipino World War II veterans fighting for long-overdue benefits from the US government, adapted last year for the stage. Pimentel also authored UG: An Underground Tale, about the life of the slain anti-Marcos activist Edgar Jopson.

His latest book is an attempt to examine not so much the role the new president might play in relation to the expatriate Filipino community in the States, but the larger issue of how Filipinos deal with race — and the racism that often poisons their approaches to it— as evident in the presidential campaign. He cites examples we are all sadly familiar with, best summarized by the immigrant Filipino father who fervently tells his activist daughter, “You’re not going to marry a black person. Don’t ask me why. Just don’t. They’re up to no good.” But he also cites many instances of Filipinos and Filipino Americans who, in their activism, keep the dream alive of a just and racially integrated society.

Why are so many immigrants anti-black, who, as Pimentel notes, “embrace the views of the dominant white society—including the prejudiced, distorted image of blacks”? He quotes Toni Morrison: “In race talk the move into mainstream America always means buying into the notion of American blacks as the real aliens. Whatever ethnicity or nationality of the immigrant, his nemesis is understood to be African American… A hostile posture toward resident blacks must be struck at the Americanizing door before it will open.”

He moves on to the fractured and ambivalent colonial relationship between Filipinos and the United States, encapsulated in that famous passage from Bulosan’s America is in the Heart (still unequalled in its powerful depiction of racism against immigrant Pinoys): “I came to know that in many ways, it was a crime to be a Filipino in California—I feel like a criminal running away from a crime I did not commit. And this crime is that I am a Filipino in America.”

He casts an appraising look at how the brutal 1899 Philippine-American War has been glossed over and even held up as a successful paradigm for the immoral war on Iraq. Such willful disinformation isn’t new and reflects the disregard the U.S. has towards its imperialist past, thus blinding itself to its imperialist present. Surprisingly, Pimentel doesn’t discuss the presence of black soldiers in the war and how their presence sparked debates within black communities in the States.

Interwoven with his take on Filipinos and race are recollections of his own journey. These are the most personal and endearing passages in the book. He recounts being a student activist at UP and editor of the UP Collegian; his friendship with the charismatic Lean Alejandro, another progressive young left-wing activist and rising political star assassinated by right-wing thugs in 1986; his experiences as a journalist in Manila and the Bay Area; and being a husband and the father of two young sons.

Wisely, he and his wife Mara decided at the outset that, “Tagalog would be our children’s first language.” Pimentel was being, as he puts it, “practical: I didn’t want my kids to get mad at me.” He has met, as I and other Filipinos here have, so many Filipino-Americans “disappointed, even angry” at their parents for not making them learn a Philippine language, thus shutting them off from their heritage.

Pimentel’s book demonstrates not just the hard work that came before and that lies ahead if we wish to build a color-blind society, but that we can also expect immensely gratifying rewards. The ascension of a man of color to the highest office in the land shows that coming from a culturally and racially mixed background is not only welcome, it’s downright cool.


          Memo to Arroyo: Let McCain know you're from Asia   
Published September 22, 2008
INQUIRER.net

President Gloria Arroyo may have had a top-level meeting with Republican presidential candidate John McCain during her last visit to the United States. But if he wins in November, she better hope he’ll remember that encounter -- and that he won’t confuse her, given her Hispanic surname, for one of those anti-American leaders in Latin America who are always irritating Washington.

Just ask Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the prime minister of Spain.

When asked in an interview with a Miami Spanish-language radio program if he would receive Zapatero in the White House, McCain said that he would “establish closer relationships with our friends, and I will stand up to those who want to harm the United States.”

The clearly confused interviewer politely asked the question three more times. After all, Spain is a member of NATO and a US ally, and McCain or any other US politician surely wouldn't suggest that Spain could be among those “who would harm the United States.” The interviewer even clarified that she was referring to the country in Europe. But McCain simply repeated his response.

That prompted speculation that either McCain didn't know who Zapatero was, thought Spain is in Latin America, or simply got confused. Did he perhaps think that Zapatero was another troublemaker south of the US border? Maybe he thought he was being asked about the Zapatista rebels in Mexico, or about Emiliano Zapata, the legendary, but long dead, Mexican rebel leader.

It may be understandable how McCain would get confused since the question about Zapatero followed others about not-so-friendly leaders in America's backyard: Raul Castro of Cuba, Evo Morales of Bolivia and the highly-controversial Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

But as the Washington Post noted, “Lumping Zapatero in with the Latin American bad guys like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is ironic because Zapatero and Juan Carlos, the King of Spain, were protagonists in one of the most public anti-Chavez moments.”

The newspaper was referring to the Ibero-American summit meeting earlier this year in Chile, when Chavez criticized Zapatero's predecessor, Jose Maria Aznar, a close Bush ally, for sending Spanish troops to Iraq. Zapatero politely rejected Chavez's argument, but when the Venezuelan pressed on, the Spanish king snapped at him, “Why don't you just shut up?”

To be sure, McCain's gaffe was not as bad as former Vice President Dan Quayle's jaw-dropping observation that people in Latin America don't speak Latin. Or President George W. Bush's surprising question to the president of Brazil: “Do you have blacks too?”

Still, McCain's response raises doubts about his claim to be a foreign policy expert, especially since he has made other baffling remarks on foreign affairs during the campaign. Once he appeared to get mixed up about the difference between Shia and Sunni Muslims. Then he explained the crisis in Afghanistan to journalist Diane Sawyer by saying, “We have a lot of work to do and I'm afraid it's a very hard struggle, particularly given the situation on the Iraq-Pakistan border.”

Such a border does not exist, of course. Nor does the republic of Czechoslovakia, which broke up into two nations in the early 90s, but that didn't stop McCain from referring to the defunct entity.

McCain's campaign spokesman Randy Sheunemann later clarified that his candidate meant what he said that he would not commit to a meeting with Spain’s Zapatero. That prompted columnist Robert Schlesinger to write: “Memo to Randy Sheunemann: Your candidate can do worse things than get confused. Like he could imply that a NATO ally might mean us harm.”

Bottom line for the Philippine leadership: Gear up for an education campaign to reintroduce yourself to a President McCain. Perhaps the Department of Foreign Affairs should send a briefing paper to the McCain campaign explaining that the US military has pulled out of Subic and Clark, just in case he gets confused about why there is now a Visiting Forces Agreement between the US and the Philippines. Or, maybe it should issue a high-level memo reminding McCain that the Philippines is no longer an American colony, and that Arroyo should be called "president," not "governor-general."

But then again, perhaps there's nothing to worry about . After all, if McCain wins, he'll have a highly capable vice president in Sarah Palin. How can you beat a would-be-president who became an expert on Russia because she can see that country from her home state of Alaska?

But just to be sure, it may be wise for Arroyo, or whoever takes her place in 2010, to consider a special gift to the McCain-Palin administration if they do take over come January: A very powerful telescope so she can see the Babuyan Islands from downtown Anchorage.
          Distorted lessons from the Philippine-American War   
Published July 25, 2008
INQUIRER.net

Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama was touring the Middle East when a well-known columnist for a major US newspaper tried to point the way out of the mess in Iraq by citing lessons from another American military misadventure more than a century ago – in the Philippines.

Unfortunately, conservative commentator Michael Medved's piece for USA Today, "Filipino war's lesson for Iraq," draws distorted, even dangerous, lessons from the tragedy in our homeland.

He begins by drawing parallels between the current presidential race and the 1900 contest between William Jennings Bryan and William McKinley. Medved describes Bryan as the "handsome young Democratic nominee" known as "the most spellbinding orator of his generation" who promised "dramatic change to correct economic injustice" and an end to the American occupation of the Philippines. He was up against the older McKinley, a Civil War veteran and avid supporter of the occupation whom Medved portrayed as the "tough, fight-it-out Republican" and "a hero in his youth (three decades earlier) in the Civil War."

Echoes of Obama versus McCain indeed.

But McCain probably would not appreciate being too closely compared to McKinley, given that US president's bizarre, even creepy, account of how he came to realize that America must occupy the Philippines. In one of the oddest anecdotes in the history of the US presidency, McKinley recalled how he "went down on my knees and prayed Almighty God for light and guidance," which made him see that "there was nothing left for us to do but … to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them."

(Apparently, McKinley did not get a memo telling him that the Philippines was then a staunchly Catholic nation -- another reason for McCain to balk at any close identification with the former president, given his own foreign affairs faux pas like mixing up Sunnis and Shiites and referring to a non-existent Iraq-Pakistan border.)

Still, it's not surprising that Medved and other conservatives are hoping for a repeat of that chapter in US history: After all, the older, more hawkish Republican McKinley won that election against the "inexperienced but charismatic anti-imperialist Democrat."

But Filipinos and Filipino Americans should find Medved's version of the Philippine-American War troubling. "This nearly forgotten conflict deserves renewed attention today since the parallels with our present predicament count as both eerie and illuminating," he writes.

True enough.

But then Medved recasts the bloody conflict as a war that the United States "stumbled into" but from which emerged a free and happy nation ever so grateful for American generosity and compassion. He cites former President Manuel L. Quezon's famous quote, "Damn the Americans! Why don't they tyrannize us more?"

Medved essentially is asking: Now why in the world can't we do that again in Iraq?

"Our failure to 'tyrannize' our Iraqi allies could similarly destroy the chances of the Islamist terrorists who oppose us," he writes. "The outcome in today's Middle East remains uncertain, but our painful Philippine experience a century ago suggests that a positive result is still possible through a combination of public patience, battlefield brilliance and compassionate determination to provide better lives and freedom to the far-away people who became the war's chief victims."

I nearly choked when I read this for while Medved made a passing reference to water cure, the notorious torture technique the US military used against Filipino independence forces (and used in Iraq under the name "water boarding"), and while he noted that at least 200,000 Filipinos died in the conflict (other historians cite a higher figure), he downplayed the more sordid chapters of the Philippine-American War: the massacres, the brutal military campaigns, the suppression of basic Filipino civil and human rights.

Medved writes that "for the most part, America's volunteer troops maintained high morale, resenting anti-war activists back home because they understood this agitation encouraged the enemy." I suspect "high morale" had nothing to do with what happened in the town of Balangiga, Samar when General Jake Smith told his men to turn the island into a "howling wilderness" so that "even birds could not live there."

"Kill and burn! The more you kill and burn, the better you will please me,"' he ordered. Asked to clarify who the troops' targets were among the population, the general replied: "Everything over 10."

Medved also ignores the blatant racism of US political leaders led by President William Howard Taft, who served as governor-general of the islands, and who called Filipinos "our little brown brothers.''

Then there was the former U.S. superintendent who helped set up an American-style public school system in the Philippines who argued that the Filipinos "are children, and childlike, do not know what is best for them. . . By the very fact of our superiority of civilization and our greater capacity for industrial activity, we are bound to exercise over them a profound social influence.''

Medved's piece reminded me of the now despicable concept of the “white man's burden,” that famous exhortation to Western domination. The phrase was actually coined by British poet Rudyard Kipling during this period in support of the American colonization of the Philippines and other former Spanish colonies. Reading just a part of the poem today would make one cringe.

"Take up the White Man's burden
Send forth the best ye breed
Go, bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait, in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild
Your new-caught sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child..."

The great American writer Mark Twain was so horrified by US atrocities in our homeland that he called the $20 million the United States paid for the Philippines an "entrance fee into society -- the Society of Sceptered Thieves."

"The White Man's Burden has been sung,"' Twain wrote. "Who will sing the Brown Man's?"

Twain also once said, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme." In his bid to justify an unpopular war in Iraq, Medved came up with a mangled account of a dark chapter in our history that has neither rhyme nor reason.

Copyright 2008 by Benjamin Pimentel

Bay Area journalist Benjamin Pimentel can be reached at www.bpimentel.blogspot.com




          Two Pinoy presidents, both extras in the Obama-McCain Duel   
Published June 10, 2008
INQUIRER.net

While the duel between Barack Obama and John McCain features such supporting players as Hillary and Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, the contest also has led to surprising bit roles for two Philippine political figures.

The most recent one involved President Gloria Arroyo whose bid for a photo op with America's newest political superstar ended in disappointment, another sorry example of a Pinoy politico desperately seeking attention from Washington that the Inquirer editorial board aptly summed up with the word "embarrassing."

She did get an apology from the Obama camp for their aborted meeting and who knows, Arroyo may still get another chance later on if the presumptive Democratic nominee prevails in November. There was no wail of protest from the FilAm community over the cancellation of the meeting, however, a sign perhaps of how Arroyo is regarded out here. But to the credit of her handlers, they simply let go and did not raise a stink, just glad for the ‘I'm sorry’ letter.
After all, the last thing Arroyo needs now is to behave the way another former prominent Pinoy politico did four decades ago over a perceived snub from yet another Western superstar, this time a legendary rock and roll band.

Although granted, it's hard to imagine Arroyo's cohort sending goons to harass Obama in Washington DC the way Imelda Marcos's supporters did when the Beatles were a no-show for the Malacanang party she hosted in their honor in 1966. For John, Paul, George and Ringo, Beatlemania Pinoy-style meant an angry mob literally chasing them out of Manila.

Not surprisingly, the fiasco over the aborted Arroyo-Obama meeting did not even register a blip on the radar screen of the highly-active US political scene -- unlike the case of another Pinoy politico who also became an extra in the US presidential drama.
Even more striking, this politician is dead.

It's unclear if McCain ever met Ferdinand Marcos. He stopped at Clark Air Base after his release from a North Vietnamese prison sometime in 1973 as Marcos was setting up one of the most brutal dictatorships in Southeast Asia with the blessing and aid of the United States. McCain was already a Republican member of the US Congress when Marcos's longtime friend and ally, President Ronald Reagan, welcomed the dictator to Washington during a state visit in 1982, calling him a "respected voice for reason and moderation in international forums."

I found no record of McCain speaking out against the now repulsive idea of America endorsing a tyrant like Marcos, but in a speech in 2006 -- 20 years after his downfall – Senator McCain spoke of the importance of promoting human rights abroad, recalling how in 1986, "the United States condemned Ferdinand Marcos' sham reelection, we earned the abiding gratitude of the Philippine people, who promptly threw out the dictator."

That's not exactly the complete story as he conveniently left out the part about Reagan and the Washington establishment praising and bankrolling the Marcos regime even as it rigged elections, threw opponents in jail, tortured them and looted the Philippine treasury. (And how could he forget Imelda's shoes and shopping sprees?)

Nearly 20 years after Marcos died in Hawaii, however, McCain has unexpectedly had to deal with the despised dictator's ghost.

In an embarrassing twist, it turned out that Charlie Black, one of McCain's closest advisers, once ran a lobbying firm that represented brutal dictators, including Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire and – you guessed it – Ferdinand Marcos. Black resigned from the firm, BKSH & Associates, and is still with McCain (although he got him in trouble again recently by saying that another terrorist attack against the US would surely help boost his candidate’s chances in November.)

McCain's Macoy connection created a stir earlier in the race, but it probably won't be decisive in a campaign more focused on such issues as the Iraq War, rising gas prices and the US mortgage meltdown.

Still, isn't it amazing that nearly two decades after his death, one of the most infamous figures in Philippine and world history continues to rattle the nerves of the living, especially those of his former allies, sponsors and friends in Washington?Perhaps the late dictator was right after all when he declared, "I do not intend to die."
          Dogmeat, Dictators and Barack Obama   
Published May 27, 2008
INQUIRER.net

If he wins in November, Barack Obama will become the first president of the United States … to have tried dog meat, or at least the first to have admitted it publicly.

That’s not likely to win him votes, but it sure makes him a hell of a lot more interesting to Filipinos. Here are a couple more biographical tidbits.

As a boy, Obama played kite duels like the game enjoyed by Pinoy children in which one tries to force an opponent’s saranggola (kite) down from the sky.

Then this: Obama knows on a personal level the dehumanizing power of poverty and dictatorship in the Third World.

You can learn more from his memoir, “Dreams from My Father,” first published more than a decade ago, and a paperback bestseller in the US.

It’s a fascinating read, especially for Filipinos.

Obama found dog meat tough, snake meat tougher and roasted grasshopper crunchy. Bicolanos, in particular, would enjoy his company: Obama said he “learned how to eat small green chili peppers raw with dinner” with “plenty of rice.”

I wonder if, as some of my childhood friends in Cubao did, Obama and his buddies also used razor blades attached to their saranggola string to gain an advantage in aerial duels.

It is the third point that I think is most relevant to Filipinos.

After Obama’s parents separated in Hawaii where he grew up, his mother married a visiting student named Lolo Soetoro who took his new family back to his native Indonesia.

Lolo had witnessed the rise of Indonesian nationalism that eventually led to the defeat of Dutch colonialism. His father and brother were killed in the resistance and the Dutch burned their house down. But as a student in Hawaii, with Indonesia emerging as a newly-independent nation, Lolo was “so full of life, so eager with plans,” Obama writes.

“Things would be changing now that the Dutch had been driven out, Lolo had told [my mother]; he would return and teach at the university, be a part of that change,” Obama continues.

But the change was not what he expected.

Sukarno, the admired but controversial independence leader and president became a target of right wing forces. In 1967, a coup still widely believed to have been aided by the CIA, overthrew his government. That led to a bloody crackdown and the rise of the Suharto dictatorship.

“The death toll was anybody’s guess: a few hundred thousand, maybe half a million,” Obama writes. “We had arrived in Djakarta less than a year after one of the more brutal and swift campaigns of suppression in modern times.”

The change was devastating for Obama’s stepfather. Lolo was a strong, hard working and decent man who took care of Obama and his mother. But he also faced painful choices in Indonesia under Suharto – similar to those many Filipinos endured under Marcos. Some Indonesians fought back against dictatorship, while others simply accepted, even embraced, the new regime.

Lolo Soetoro chose the latter.

“Power had taken Lolo and yanked him back into line … making him feel its weight, letting him know that his life wasn’t his own,” Obama writes. “So Lolo had made peace with power, learned the wisdom of forgetting.”

Filipinos and Indonesians remember how, at the height of the Cold War, the United States endorsed, even bankrolled, brutal dictators who were considered “friendly” to American interests. That sinister policy reemerged in the post 9-11 world, underscored by the Bush administration’s cozy ties with authoritarian rulers in Central Asia and the Middle East.

Would Obama embrace the same attitude? Or would he remember his stepfather and other Indonesians who endured repression and humiliation under dictatorial rule?

This is a critical question if, as some fear, the Philippines may be in danger of repeating a dark chapter in our own past. If the current occupants of Malacanang are indeed looking for a way to extend their stay beyond 2010, as some suspect, Obama in the White House could pose a serious problem.

Obama’s memoir also offers some hints on how he might take on issues of poverty and inequality. These became real for him in the cities and countryside of Indonesia.

Recalling the beggars in Djakarta, Obama writes, “They seemed to be everywhere, a gallery of ills – men, women, children, in tattered clothing matted with dirt, some without arms, others without feet, victims of scurvy or polio or leprosy …”

He relates how his mother once visited a wealthy area in Djakarta that sounds much like the posh neighborhoods in Ayala Alabang or Makati, where “diplomats and generals lived in sprawling houses with tall wrought-iron gates.” To drive off a poor woman who had wandered near one of the fancy homes, a group of men who were washing a fleet of Mercedes-Benzes threw a handful of coins onto the road. “The woman ran after the coins with terrible speed, checking the road suspiciously as she gathered them into her bosom,” Obama relates.

And in the Indonesian countryside, he remembers “the empty look on the faces of farmers the year the rains never came, the stoop in their shoulders as they wandered barefoot through their barren, cracked fields.”

Obama also probably understands that people eat dogmeat in parts of Indonesia and the Philippines – a practice viewed as reprehensible in the West – for a simple reason: hunger and lack of food.

Many U.S. and European politicians have often appeared clueless, if not insensitive, when it comes to issues of poverty and repression in the developing world. Take the reaction of former US Secretary of State Colin Powell a few years ago when he was confronted in Manila with the Philippine government’s bid to get duty-free access for tuna exports, similar to the one given to South America.

In presenting its case, the Philippine government had tried to convince Powell that the issue was a matter of survival for tens of thousands of impoverished fisherfolk in Mindanao. But Powell, who was then trying to sell the world on the Bush Administration’s disastrous decision to invade Iraq, was unimpressed, even saying, "I did not know someday I would be dealing with tuna.”

Would Obama react in the same way? As another American politician worried about how he is perceived at home and about his chances in the next election, maybe.

But there’s also a chance, even a small one, that he would react differently. He would listen intently, consult his advisers and weigh the broader economic issues involved. But as he makes his decision, he may also see the faces, hear the voices and remember the stories of the struggling people he knew on the streets of Djakarta.

Copyright 2008 by Benjamin Pimentel



          Comment on Why Two Hundred Ordinary Hindus Did Not See A Dead Muslim Child On A Railway Station In North India by Ravi   
After reading your comment, I started feeling that Hindu Upper Cast is bigher and worst threat to humanity and largest Terrorist outfit in the world. Bigger than JM or LT or ISIS....LOL!...Nonsensical attribution of a political agenda to a particular community. If you have not see Syria or Lebanon or Iraq or your neighbours, please stay there few months. You will realise how lucky you are and safe in a Hindu dominated country.
          Iraq Reclaims Historic Mosul Mosque, Saying ISIS 'Caliphate' Has Fallen    
Though the mosque now lies in ruins, the moment marks a symbolic victory for Iraqis, who watched three years ago as ISIS declared a "caliphate" from its pulpit. But the fight is by no means over.
          Congress Threatens to Cut Iraqi Kurds’ Funding If They Secede   
Congress Threatens to Cut Iraqi Kurds' Funding If They Secede | Arms for Peshmerga contingent on Iraqi Kurdistan being part of Iraq
          Iraq Recaptures Key Mosul Mosque, But Only Rubble Remains   
Iraq Recaptures Key Mosul Mosque, But Only Rubble Remains | PM declares 'the end of ISIS'
          Islamic State under pressure in Iraqi and Syrian strongholds   
MOSUL, Iraq/RAQQA, Syria (Reuters) - U.S.-backed Iraqi forces pressed Islamic State fighters holding out in Mosul's Old City on Friday, while in Syria the militant group launched a counter-attack against an alliance of militias trying to oust it from its de facto capital of Raqqa.

          US Army Girl Sucking A Superior Officer While Of Duty Somewhere In Iraq   
Watch US Army Girl Sucking A Superior Officer While Of Duty Somewhere In Iraq at free fuck and porn video site
          Iraq Reclaims Historic Mosul Mosque, Saying ISIS 'Caliphate' Has Fallen    
Though the mosque now lies in ruins, the moment marks a symbolic victory for Iraqis, who watched three years ago as ISIS declared a "caliphate" from its pulpit. But the fight is by no means over.
          As ISIS Gets Squeezed In Syria And Iraq, It's Using Music As A Weapon    
The Islamic State is losing territory in Iraq and Syria but is trying to keep its supporters' spirits up through song. Its newest release, "My State Remains," reveals an organization down but not out.
          Orbital ATK Receives Contract to Repair Trainer Aircraft for Iraqi AF   
Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, has received a contract from the U.S. government to repair trainer aircraft for the Iraqi Air Force to continue their security mission. The trainer aircraft include 12 Cessna 172 Skyhawks and five Cessna Caravans. "Orbital ATK has a proven track record of supporting the Iraqi Air Force and we are honored to further aid them with this latest contract," said Cary Ralston, Vice President and General Manager of the Def...
          Dumb, Dumber, And Dumbest – What Is The Republican Party Doing?   
What the heck is wrong with the Republicans these days? The once grand old party of Lincoln that had vision and fire is now floundering with series of miscues, inappropriate comments, and actions unbecoming of a representative of the people of the United States.

DUMB
To start, here is President Bush doing his open-mouth-insert-foot foreign policy move when he said on May 2: “So, for example, just as an interesting thought for you, there are 350 million people in India who are classified as middle class. That's bigger than America. Their middle class is larger than our entire population. And when you start getting wealth, you start demanding better nutrition and better food. And so demand is high, and that causes the price to go up.”

What an insensitive thing to say. No wonder the Indians are upset. Instead of accepting them into prosperity and encouraging them to aid the less fortunate, Bush blames them for causing the food prices to go up.

DUMBER
Not to let someone else out do him, a dumber Bush moment was in Israel when he addressed the members of the Knesset on May 15: “Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: "Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided." We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.”

OK, that ‘Nazi’ quote was made by William Edgar Borah, a Republican Senator of Idaho. Perhaps Bush identifies with stubborn and headstrong person that Borah was, traits that Bush has exhibited during his Administration. Moreover, the quote was highly inappropriate in such a setting as the Knesset.

Since 2002, Bush has been aiming comments like this toward North Korea and Iran, two of three nations in the axis of evil: “States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States.”

Since then, Bush is negotiating with North Korea and sending them food aid. Sending aid to a rogue country that professes to have nuclear weapons; why are we negotiating with and sending aid to North Korea while posturing with Iran? One of the two key arguments about Iran is that it has weapons of mass destruction. If this is true, then should we not project the same posture with North Korea?

The second of two key arguments is that Iran supports and sponsors terrorism. OK, then, using this argument, we should be including Syria in the “axis of evil.” After all, our own State Department had labeled Syria as a security threat: “Syria remains a security concern not just because of terrorism, but also because of its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.” Moreover, Syria “has been on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism since the list's inception in 1979.”

Why should we not negotiate with Iran if we are willing to force Syria to peace negotiation through legislation and hold talks with North Korea? Even the U.S. Military is suggesting that we negotiate with Syria and Iran to bring peace to Iraq. A November 2007 memo from the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College recommends that the U.S. negotiate: “A diplomatic option involving Syria and Iran appears to be worth exploring if done within the context of a broad regional initiative that includes our regional friends and allies as well as our adversaries.”

What is the deal with the double standard? Perhaps someone should remind Bush of his own statement on negotiating with terrorists and radicals. On January 10, 2008, Bush said the following, after meeting with President Abbas.

On negotiation: “Achieving an agreement will require painful political concessions by both sides.”
On negotiation with Terrorists: “On the Palestinian side that includes confronting terrorists and dismantling terrorist infrastructure.” And “No agreement and no Palestinian state will be born of terror.”

President Nixon flew to China in 1972 and met with Chairman Mao and Premier Zhou En Lai in Beijing and, later that year, he went to Moscow and negotiated with Leonid Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Soviet Union on the SALT I treaty. This was a surprise since Nixon was avowed anti-communist and China and Soviet Union were the enemies, the then axis of evil. The U.S. and the Soviet Union fought each other through proxy battles in the Middle East during the Yom Kippur War and the U.S. and China fought each other through proxy battles in Vietnam.

President Regan called Soviet Union the “Evil Empire” but met with Mikhail Gorbachev, the General Secretary of the Soviet Union multiple times to conclude the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Even President George H. Bush (a.k.a. Bush senior) favored diplomatic solutions with Iraq and Saddam Hussein. Even after Iraq invaded Kuwait, he was still willing to negotiate with Iraqis.

Perhaps, President Bush should have listened to his dad a bit more: “Whose life would be on my hands as the commander-in-chief because I, unilaterally, went beyond the international law, went beyond the stated mission, and said we're going to show our macho? We're going into Baghdad. We're going to be an occupying power — America in an Arab land — with no allies at our side. It would have been disastrous. We don't gain the size of our victory by how many innocent kids running away — even though they're bad guys — that we can slaughter. ... We're American soldiers; we don't do business that way.”

DUMBEST
Now, we come to the dumbest Republican moment: Mike Huckabee. Upon hearing a loud bang during his speech to the NRA, Huckabee quipped: “That was Barack Obama. He just tripped off a chair. He's getting ready to speak and somebody aimed a gun at him and he -- he dove for the floor.” (Click here for the video.)

Huckabee is a Southern Baptist Minister. As a man of faith, there is no excuse for such a comment. Even if he had just said “Obama tripped off a chair,” it would have been in very bad taste as it insinuated that Obama was standing on a chair. Now, why would anyone be ‘standing’ on a chair? Was Huckabee insinuating that Obama is uncivilized and therefore standing on a chair? Or was it more insidious?

What’s with the comment about aiming a gun at him and having him diving for the floor? Any reasonable person would dive, run, duck, or do everything possible to avoid a gun pointed at said person. Why would a person be aiming a gun at Obama in the first place? Is that a statement that a man of God would make? If you see the video, Huckabee’s comments came out very naturally. There was no hesitation on his part to comment on the sharp sound at Obama’s expense.

Now, in politics, one can sling mud about an opponent. That’s acceptable. If Huckabee said something along the lines of “That’s Obama slamming the door on American’s right to carry guns”, then Huckabee would have won a very savvy political battle while slinging mud at Obama.

Mr. Huckabee, for a person who has a sharp mind and wits, to have said what you did is inexcusable. Perhaps, sir, you should re-read Leviticus 19:18.

NOTE: I had a difficult time choosing between the “DUMBER” moments since Mr. Bush has offered up a lot of them. However, his Nazi comment won out over his ‘I gave up golf to show my respects for the families of fallen soldiers.’ This is only because his comment about giving up golf was made some time ago. (Keith Olbermann has a great commentary on this. Click here for the YouTube video)

Have a great weekend!

Regards,
Ed Kim
Practical Risk Manager
          Friday 30 June   
We have the latest as Iraq declares the end of Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate and ask if Hong Kong’s younger generation will ever accept Chinese rule. Plus: we speak to Monocle’s editor in chief, Tyler Brûlé, at our conference in Berlin and look at what Hillary Clinton’s books reveal about her.
          Coroner told Blackburn soldier died after his tank exploded during a training exercise   
A SOLDIER from Blackburn died after his tank exploded during a training exercise on a firing range, a coroner has heard. Corporals Darren Neilson, together with colleague Matthew Hatfield, of the Royal Tank Regiment (RTR), died from injuries they suffered at the Castlemartin range in Pembrokeshire, Wales, on June 14. At an inquest opening yesterday, the coroner was told the provisional cause of death for Cpl Hatfield was ‘burns’, while Cpl Neilson suffered a cardiac arrest as a result of blast-related injuries. Both were experienced career soldiers who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan. A police-led joint investigation with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and a separate Ministry of Defence (MOD) service inquiry are currently under way into the circumstances. Det Ch Insp Ross Evans, of Dyfed Powys Police, gave the coroner further details of what happened after emergency services were called to ‘a mechanical explosion’ on the range, at 3.30pm. He said it was thought Cpl Neilson, 31, a former St Augustine's RC High School pupil, was the tank commander and “we believe positioned within the turret” at the time of the blast. Cpl Hatfield, 27, from Amesbury, Wiltshire, was the armoured vehicle’s operator and was “loading the ammunition in the tank”. He was taken to Morriston Hospital, Swansea, but the married father-of-one died the following day. His colleague, also a married father with a young daughter, was taken to University Hospital Wales, Cardiff, but also died on June 15. Both men were identified by their wives, Birmingham and Solihull Coroner’s Court was told. Mr Evans said: “At 3.30pm on Wednesday, June 14, the emergency services were summoned to a mechanical explosion at Castlemartin - it’s an MOD firing range, in Pembrokeshire. “Prior to that, a training exercise had been taking place. “Four men were taken to hospital as a result, and two have since passed away." “An investigation has since commenced to look into the circumstances of the incident.” The inquest heard the police and HSE were working closely with the MOD on a service inquiry “to prevent any repeat incident”. Mr Evans said the MOD Defence Safety Authority had started its investigation on June 27 and was not expected to finish until February next year. Ms Hunt offered her condolences to the soldiers’ families, who were present at the hearing, and told them a pre-inquest review would take place on February 12 next year. She said a full inquest lasting up to three weeks would be held in Solihull, setting a A provisional date for a full inquest has been set for July 2 next year, with a pre-hearing review scheduled on February 12.
          Iraq: Islamic State Kicked Out of Mosul   
The Ministry of Defense of Iraq has announced Thursday that Daesh terrorists have been eliminated or knocked out of all districts of the city of Mosul, Sky News Arabia reports. “The IS (Daesh / ISIS / ISIL) no longer has a single district in Mosul. The militants have no choice but to surrender. The IS […]

          نيويورك:إصابة 3 أطباء في إطلاق نار بمستشفى برونكس لبنان   

إصابة 3 أطباء في إطلاق نار بمستشفى برونكس لبنان بنيويورك …يتبع

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          تفجير عجلة مفخخة بعد قتل انتحاريين اثنين في الطارمية شمالي بغداد   

اكدت قيادة عمليات بغداد، اليوم الجمعة ( 30 / حزيران / 2017 ) ، تفجير عجلة مفخخة وقتل انتحاريين أثنين كانا يستقلانها في مركز قضاء الطارمية شمالي بغداد. وقالت عمليات بغداد في بيان تابعته وكالة صدى, إنه ” بناءاً على ورود معلومات استخباراتية تمكنت قوة من اللواء 22 فرقة المشاة السادسة من مطاردة عجلة مفخخة

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          مقتل 3 انتحاريين في الساحل الغربي للموصل   

قتلت القوات الامنية، اليوم الجمعة ( 30 / حزيران / 2017 ) ثلاثة انتحاريين بالجانب الغربي في مدينة الموصل. وقال الناطق باسم وزارة الداخلية العميد سعد معن في بيان تابعته وكالة صدى ، ان قوة من ” الفوج الثاني في شرطة نينوى قتلت ثلاثة إنتحاريين من عصابات “داعش” الإجرامية المندحرة في منطقة اليرموك في الجانب

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          العمليات المشتركة:فرار عصابات داعش الاجنبية من قضاء الحويجة   

أفادت قيادة العمليات المشتركة ، اليوم الجمعة ، بأن عناصر “داعش” الأجانب فروا من قضاء الحويجة جنوب غربي محافظة كركوك، مشيرا الى أن القوات المشتركة أكملت قطع الطرق عن القضاء وعزله عن كل من القيارة والشرقاط ومفرق الفتحة. وقالت قيادة العمليات ، إن “التنظيم يعيش حالة انهيار معنوي ونفسي كبير في قضاء الحويجة (55 كم

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          جدول الامتحانات النهائية للسادس الاعدادي ٢٠١٦-٢٠١٧   

تنشر وكالة صدى الاعلام جدول الامتحانات النهائية للسادس الاعدادي بفروعه العلمي (الاحيائي ، التطبيقي)، الادبي، الاسلامي، للعام الدراسي ‎(٢٠١٦-٢٠١٧)/ الدور الاول (للدراسة العربية والكردية والتركمانية والدراسة الاجنبية)    

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          العراق يفوز بمنصب نائب رئيس الاتحاد الاسيوي للجوجيتسو   

حصل العراق على منصب نائب رئيس الاتحاد الاسيوي للجوجيتسو بعد الانتخابات التي جرت في اوزبكستان. وفاز رئيس الاتحاد العراقي للعبة مخلص حسن بمنصب نائب رئيس الاتحاد الاسيوي للفترة من 2017 ولغاية 2021 في الانتخابات التي جرت في العاصمة الاوزبكية طشقند. يشار الى ان الاتحاد العراقي للجوجيتسو أقام مؤخرا بطولة اندية العراق للناشئين، حيث حصل نادي

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          انتصار الأحفاد والأجداد .. صفحات الامجاد تعاد   

التاريخ يعيد نفسه، وربما يتناسل الرجال المواقف نفسها، فمع الشك المخيم على عودة الامجاد، وكثرة النكسات التي طرأت على ابرز قضايا العالميين العربي والإسلامي، طوت وحدة وصلابة الدعوة والاستجابة بين اجداد ثورة العشرين واحفاد فتوى الجهاد الكفائي جميع التقلبات بتسجيلها فارقة الانتصار الاسمى للعراق وشعبه وللحوزة العلمية التي واكبت تجليات المراحل التاريخية والحاضرة ووبددت خطورتها.

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          بالفيديو عبد الغني الاسدي يرفع راية العراق لترفرف عالياً فوق جامع النوري   

عبد الغني الاسدي يرفع راية العراق لترفرف عالياً فوق جامع النوري

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          مكافحة الارهاب:عناصر داعش في المدينة القديمة في عزلة بعد تحرير جامع النوري   

مكافحة الارهاب:عناصر داعش في المدينة القديمة في عزلة بعد تحرير جامع النوري …يتبع

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          كوكل يحتفي بالروائية الجزائرية آسيا جبار   

احتفى غوغل بالأديبة والروائية الجزائرية آسيا جبار التي طالما مثلت صوت المرأة في القرن العشرين، حيث طغت مفردات التأنيث والصبغة الأنثوية على معظم رواياتها المكتوبة باللغة الفرنسية. آسيا جبار -واسمها الحقيقي فاطمة الزهراء إيمالاين، ومن مواليد مدينة شرشال غرب العاصمة في 30 يونيو/حزيران 1936- هي أول عربية وأفريقية تصبح عضوا في الأكاديمية الفرنسية في 2005،

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          استخبارات الحشد:احد خطباء داعش في تلعفر يزل لسانه ويرجح بمقتل البغدادي   

أكدت استخبارات الحشد الشعبي، الجمعة، أن احد المقربين جدا من زعيم “داعش” ابو بكر البغدادي اجهش بالبكاء بعد ذكر اسم الاخير في خطبة صلاة الجمعة في مدينة تلعفر غربالموصل، فيما اشار الى ان زلة لسانه خلال الخطبة رجحت نبأ مقتل البغدادي. وقالت استخبارات الحشد في حديث تابعته وكالة صدى الاعلام، إن “احد المقربين جدا من

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          العراق:طقس الايام الاربعة المقبلة صحوا ودرجة الحرارة تصل الى 47 مْ   

توقعت هيئة الأنواء الجوية والرصد الزلزالي، اليوم الجمعة ( 30 / حزيران / 2017 ) ان يكون طقس الايام الاربعة المقبلة صحواً حاراً. وذكر بيان للهيئة تابعته وكالة صدى ,أن “طقس يوم غد السبت سيكون في المناطق كافة صحواً حاراً ، ودرجة الحرارة العظمى المتوقعة في مدينة بغداد 47 مْ، وسيكون ذات الطقس ليوم الأحد

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          ابطال الاعلام الحربي والبطل رائد علاء العيداني من قلب حي الشفاء -المجمع الطبي   

ابطال الاعلام الحربي والبطل رائد علاء العيداني من قلب حي الشفاء -المجمع الطبي

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          العبادي يعلن انتهاء “دويلة الباطل الداعشية” ويتوعد بملاحقة آخر داعشي   

أعلن رئيس الوزراء حيدر العبادي، اليوم الجمعة، انتهاء “دويلة الباطل الداعشية” ويتوعد بملاحقة آخر “داعشي”. وقال العبادي في صفحته الرسمية على الفيسبوك، إن “تفجير الدواعش لجامع النوري ومنارة الحدباء وإعادته اليوم إلى حضن الوطن إعلان بانتهاء دويلة الباطل الداعشية”. وأضاف، العبادي، “سنبقى نلاحق الدواعش بين قتل وأسر حتى آخر داعشي في العراق”.

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          العبادي يتوجه بالشكر للمرجعية الدينية العليا لدعمها الكبير لكافة قواتنا المسلحة   

اعرب رئيس الوزراء حيدر العبادي , اليوم الجمعة, عن بالغ شكره وامتنانه لمقام المرجعية الدينية العليا لدعمها الكبير للقوات العراقية المسلحة كافة . وتقدم العبادي بالشكر الجزيل الى مقام سماحة السيد علي السيستاني، لدعمه الكبير والمتواصل للمقاتلين الابطال والمضحين الغيارى في شتى صنوف وتشكيلات قواتنا المسلحة، الذين صنعوا الملحمة العظيمة والانتصارات الباهرة طيلة السنوات الثلاث

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          أهالي الموصل يطالبون بورشة إعادة إعمار ضخمة في مدينتهم   

أهالي الموصل يطالبون بورشة إعادة إعمار ضخمة في مدينتهم …يتبع

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          القوات الأمنية تبحث عن خلايا لداعش في أنحاء مختلفة من الموصل   

القوات الأمنية تبحث عن خلايا لداعش في أنحاء مختلفة من الموصل ..يتبع

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          مكافحة الارهاب تسيطر على سوق الشعارين ومنطقه النبي جرجيس و عبد خوب بأيمن الموصل   

قوات مكافحة الارهاب تستعيد السيطرة على سوق الشعارين ومنطقه النبي جرجيس ومنطقة عبد خوب بأيمن الموصل…يتبع

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          الحشد الشعبي يحبط ثلاث محاولات تسلل لداعش من الأراضي السورية   

احبط اللواء الاول في الحشد الشعبي، الجمعة، ثلاث محاولات تسلل لتنظيم داعش من الأراضي السورية باتجاه المناطق الحدودية المحاذية الى جبل سنجار. وذكر مراسل وكالة صدى الاعلام، ان “محاولات التسلل جاءت لفتح ثغرة والوصل الى مناطق المحرر المحاذية لجبال سنجار وتنفيذ عمليات إجرامية بالعمق العراقي  ولكن المجاهدون في اللواء الاول احبطوا جميع المحاولات، وكبدوا عناصر

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          الفنانة شمس الكويتية تبارك على الانتصارات في الموصل   

علقت الفنانة الخليجية شمس الكويتية، الجمعة، على سقوط “دولة الخرافة” على يد القوات الامنية العراقية بعد تحريرها جامع النوري الكبير والحدباء في الجانب الايمن من الموصل. وقال الكويتية في حسابها الخاص على “تويتر”، “الف مبروك عقبال سقوطهم من عقول الناس وقلوبهم، #وسقطت_دولة_الخرافة”. وتمكنت القوات الامنية المشتركة اليوم الخميس من تحرير جامع النوري الكبير والحدباء في

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          مكافحة الارهاب:داعش لا يسيطر على أي منطقة في الموصل القديمة   

أكد المتحدث باسم جهاز مكافحة الارهاب، صباح النعمان،   ان عناصر تنظيم داعش الارهابي يختبئون في بعض مناطق الموصل ‏القديمة بعد سيطرة قواتنا على الجامع النوري.‏ وقال النعمان في تصريح صحفي تابعته وكالة صدى ,”انه لا توجد منطقة في الموصل القديمة يسيطر ‏عليها تنظيم داعش الإرهابي بشكل كامل بعد العمليات التي قامت بها القطعات المشاركة

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          بنك تسكو البريطاني يوقف التعامل بالريال القطري   

بنك تسكو البريطاني يوقف التعامل بالريال القطري …يتبع

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          الحشد الشعبي:لن تعود داعش مرة ثانية بعد هزيمتها النكراء   

أصدر الحشد الشعبي ، اليوم الجمعة،بيانا بشأن تحرير مدينة الموصل وسقوط “دولة الخرافة” المزعومة، مؤكدا “لن تعود داعش بعد هزيمتها المنكرة الى هنا مرة ثانية”. وذكر الناطق الرسمي لهيئة الحشد أحمد الأسدي في بيان تابعته وكالة صدى ,ها هي معالم النصر وبيارقه العراقية تنتشر كالنوارس في محيط مدينة أم الربيعين وها هو التحرير وعنوانه يتفجر

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          الجهد الهندسي يباشر بتطهير المناطق التي حررتها القوات الامنية يوم امس   

الجهد الهندسي يباشر بتطهير المناطق التي حررتها القوات الامنية يوم امس …يتبع

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          القوات الامنية تحرر حي الفاروق الثانية بالموصل القديمة   

اعلن قائد عمليات قادمون يا نينوى الفريق الركن عبد الامير رشيد يارالله ، الجمعة ، تحرير حي الفاروق الثانية في المدينة القديمة للموصل. وقال يار الله في بيان تابعته وكالة صدى، ان “قطعات فرفة المشاة السادسة عشر حررت حي الفاروق الثانية في المدينة القديمة للساحل الايمن من الموصل”. وأعلن قائد الشرطة الاتحادية الفريق رائد شاكر جودت

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          روحاني يهنىء معصوم بتحرير الموصل   

هنأ الرئيس الايراني حسن روحاني في برقية، نظيره العراقي فؤاد معصوم، بتحرير مدينة الموصل من ارهابيي داعش. وافاد المصدر , ان  الرئيس روحاني اشار خلال هذه البرقية الى ان التطورات الايجابية التي وفرت الامن في العراق، والانتصارات في محاربة الارهاب والتطرف، هي ثمرة جهود الشعب والقوات الامنية العراقية ومساعدة دول الجوار في تطهير العراق من

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          داعش ينسحب بالكامل من محافظة حلب في شمال سورية   

أ.ف.ب: داعش ينسحب بالكامل من محافظة حلب في شمال سورية

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          الاسدي:النصر النهائي في الموصل سيعلن خلال أيام   

قال قائد قوات مكافحة الإرهاب الفريق الركن عبد الغني الأسدي إن النصر النهائي على داعش في الموصل سيعلن “في الأيام القليلة القادمة”. وقال الأسدي في تصريح صحفي من داخل المدينة القديمة بغرب الموصل إن “المتبقي من عناصر داعش بين 200 إلى 300 مقاتل، غالبيتهم من الأجانب مشيرا الى ان الأيام القليلة القادمة سنعلن النصر النهائي

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          هاشم الموسوي:الإرادة الوطنية أسقطت دولة الخرافة وحطمت أحلامها بالتمدد والبقاء   

أكد المتحدث الرسمي لحركة النجباء هاشم الموسوي أن الإرادة الوطنية أسقطت دولة الخرافة وحطمت أحلامها الموهومة بالتمدد والبقاء. الموسوي أضاف في بيان أن دماء الشهداء الأبرار صنعت الإنتصارات وحطمت مشاريع قوى الإستكبار العالمي وجعلتها في خبر كان ، وأوضح أن وحدة الشعب العراقي أنتصرت على داعش وستنتصر على أصحاب المؤتمرات التآمرية في البلاد ، مشيراً

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          افتتاح أكبر كنيسة في العراق   

افتتح اليوم الجمعة، أكبر كنيسة في العراق. وشهدت ناحية عنكاوة في مدينة اربيل باقليم كردستان، افتتاح كنيسة {ماربوتروس بتوس}، حيث تعد من أكبر الكنائس على مستوى العراق. ووصلت تكلفة بناء الكنيسة الى خمس مليارات دينار، تم تأمينها من قبل وزارة الأوقاف والشؤون الدينية في إقليم كردستان. ووضع حجر الاساس للكنيسة عام 2009، وتم تأمين تكاليف

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          Hundreds flee Mosul as Iraqi forces squeeze last pockets of IS resistance   
The areas where government forces are fighting have been under siege for months.
          U.S. opens formal investigation into civilian deaths in Mosul   
U.S. Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of the U.S. Central Command, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee

U.S. Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of the U.S. Central Command, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington March 9, 2017. Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

WASHINGTON — The top U.S. general for the Middle East says the military has launched a formal investigation to determine what role the U.S. played in the deaths of dozens of civilians in Mosul, Iraq.

Gen. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, says combat in the densely populated areas of Mosul is making it harder to avoid civilian casualties.

Votel says the probe will look at what Islamic State militants did to contribute to the deaths, including use of human shields, on March 17. He says they’re exploiting America’s sensitivities about civilian deaths.

Votel tells the House Armed Services Committee the combat situation is evolving. He says the investigation will review intelligence provided by Iraqi forces.

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          What we know about the deadly air assault on Mosul   

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: A bombing in Iraq by the American-led military coalition leaves scores dead.

John Yang has that.

JOHN YANG: The airstrike took place in the Al Jadida neighborhood of Western Mosul amid pitched fighting between ISIS militants and Iraqi government forces. The reports from the scene are gruesome, more than 100 dead.

For more on this incident and the brutal battle there, I’m joined from Irbil in Northern Iraq via Skype by Loveday Morris of The Washington Post.

Loveday, thanks for joining us. I know it’s very late there.

It’s been 10 days since this incident took place. The Pentagon said the air assault took place on March 17. What do we know about what happened?

LOVEDAY MORRIS, The Washington Post: What happened was, Iraqi forces were advancing into the area at the time with an ISIS-held area.

It was one where residents say that there were a lot of ISIS fighters fighting from the rooftops, and they were sheltering in their homes. And as the Iraqi forces advanced, there was heavy bombardment on this neighborhood.

And there are allegations of actually multiple buildings hit by U.S. airstrikes, but that one particular building where they have pulled out more than 100 bodies, 101 bodies now, and that’s an alleged site of one of the strikes.

JOHN YANG: But the Iraqis are saying that it was booby-trapped by ISIS.

LOVEDAY MORRIS: Yes, that’s right. They said they have made an initial investigation, and this particular building was booby-trapped by ISIS.

Initially, commanders blamed it on an ISIS car bomb, the collapse. There have been several conflicting stories. Iraqi civil defense, the rescue workers who are pulling the bodies out of the building, they say they’re experts in building collapses, and they say this was caused by an airstrikes.

And the U.S. coalition has said that it carried out a strike at the location of accusations of mass civilian casualties.

JOHN YANG: We have seen this fighting around Mosul really intensify.

President Trump had said he wanted give commanders in the field more flexibility. What do we know about the rules covering airstrikes like these? Have they changed since President Trump came into office?

LOVEDAY MORRIS: What we hear on the U.S. side and from the coalition is, no, there’s been no change at all for the rules of engagement so far.

The Iraqis are saying that as well. Official, there’s no change to the rules of engagement. There does seem to be some speeding of the process of calling in airstrikes. They have made the process faster. They have put U.S. forward air controllers closer to Mosul.

But it’s really unclear what exactly is causing this. And there has been a spike now in civilian casualty accusations both in Iraq and Syria.

JOHN YANG: And this is in Mosul, some of the most intense urban fighting, street-to-street, house-to-house. What is the impact on the civilian population?

LOVEDAY MORRIS: It’s a huge impact. You have a huge amount of ordnance flying into that city, not just from airstrikes, but from artillery.

And, obviously, ISIS also uses heavy weaponry and booby-traps. Really, you talk to civilians that are coming out of Mosul, they have been in their basements for weeks on end. They’re absolutely terrified. ISIS are using their rooftops and make them keep their front doors open.

So, they’re very scared of airstrikes on their own houses while they’re hiding inside. People are coming out, and, yes, a horrific state. There’s very little food, water inside. The area is under siege. It’s a terrible situation for civilians.

JOHN YANG: Are they able to flee?

LOVEDAY MORRIS: Some are. Some aren’t. I mean, they normally can’t flee until the Iraqi security forces get to their area.

What has happened, in some cases, ISIS will send a wave of civilians out. They will order them to leave their homes. The Iraqis will have to hold fire if there’s a big wave of civilians coming out. It really slows them down.

So, sometimes, people come out like that. Other times, ISIS keep them in, keeps them blocked in their neighborhood to use as human shields. And, in that case, I mean, any time people are coming out, they’re always caught in very dangerous crossfire. You have snipers. You have mortars. Yes, it’s tough for people to get out, for sure.

JOHN YANG: Loveday Morris, The Washington Post, from Irbil, thanks for joining us, and be safe.

LOVEDAY MORRIS: Thank you.

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          Obama administration eases policy on preventing civilian casualties in Iraq, Syria   
A Yemeni boy walks past a mural reading " Why did you kill my family" on Dec. 13, 2013, in the capital Sanaa. A new report says that a drone strike on a wedding in southern Yemen a day earlier may have killed up to a dozen civilians. Photo by Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images

A Yemeni boy walks past a mural reading ” Why did you kill my family” on Dec. 13, 2013, in the capital Sanaa. A new report says that a drone strike on a wedding in southern Yemen a day earlier may have killed up to a dozen civilians. Photo by Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama announced in May 2013 that no lethal strike against a terrorist would be authorized without “near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured.”

But amid unconfirmed reports of civilian casualties, the White House said this week that U.S. bombing in Iraq and Syria is not being held to the near-certainty standard. And the Pentagon, hamstrung by limitations in intelligence gathering, has been unable to determine in many cases whether the casualty reports are true.

“We do take extreme caution and care in the conduct of these missions,” Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon’s press secretary, said. “But there’s risk in any military operation. There’s a special kind of risk when you do air operations.”

When Obama outlined his strategy to fight the Islamic State group earlier this month, he cited as parallels the limited U.S. counterterrorism campaigns in Yemen and Somalia, where American drone missile strikes have targeted al-Qaida-linked militants. Aides said he was also thinking of Pakistan but didn’t mention those strikes because drone killings there are entirely the work of an officially unacknowledged CIA operation.

But when it comes to civilian casualties, it has become clear that the targeted killing model that Obama has expanded and honed throughout his presidency does not apply to the more intensive military operation against the Islamic State and the Khorasan Group in Iraq and Syria.

According to the White House, the reason the near-certainty standard is not applicable turns on a fine point of international law — the theory that the U.S. is not involved in “active hostilities” in Yemen and Somalia, but is in Syria and Iraq. Such distinctions are controversial, given the frequency with which American bombs and bullets have flown in both countries.

A more practical reason is that the self-imposed rules on drone strikes against al-Qaida are simply too restrictive for a conventional military air campaign against the Islamic State group, which the U.S. says is both a terrorist group and an occupying army, and has ordered the Pentagon to destroy.

“It is much different in scope and complexity” than Yemen and Somalia, said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., an intelligence committee member. “I think it will be very hard to apply the very restrictive rules they put in place for other theaters.”

The drone attacks in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan are carried out either by the CIA or, at times in Yemen and Somalia, the military’s Joint Special Operations Command. They employ Hellfire missiles, relatively small munitions designed to destroy people and vehicles.

In Iraq and Syria, the Air Force and Navy are using cruise missiles and conventional guided bombs to destroy buildings and other infrastructure that Hellfires can’t bring down. Allies, including Britain, France and Arab countries, are also using conventional bombs.

While most of the air strikes have been directed at the Islamic State group, the U.S. also used cruise missiles to attack the Syria headquarters of the Khorasan Group, an al-Qaida cell said to be plotting attacks on the West. Syrian opposition figures have said that one of those missiles went astray Sept. 23 and killed women and children in the village of Kafr Daryan near Aleppo.


All told, human rights groups have said that as many as two dozen civilians have been killed in U.S. and allied bombings in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. military says it hasn’t confirmed any civilian death but hasn’t ruled it out in every case, either.

White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the near-certainty standard was intended to apply “only when we take direct action outside areas of active hostilities.”

Military officials say they are taking great care to avoid civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria, consistent with international law. But international law does not require a near certainty that civilians won’t be harmed in military strikes. U.S. officials say harm to noncombatants is inevitable in a large bombing campaign —especially when the enemy is embedded in civilian areas.

Obama himself made that point in his 2013 speech, in the context of explaining why targeted drone campaigns are preferable to conventional war when it comes to counter terrorism.

“Conventional airpower or missiles are far less precise than drones and are likely to cause more civilian casualties and more local outrage,” the president said.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said this week that the U.S is relying mainly on intelligence-gathering technology such as satellites, drones and overhead surveillance flights to determine whether there have been civilian casualties.

As a result, “It’s much harder for us to be able to know for sure what it is we’re hitting, what it is we’re killing and what is collateral damage,” said Tom Lynch, a retired colonel and former adviser to the Joint Chiefs of Staff who is now a fellow at the National Defense University.

Warren acknowledged that the Pentagon could not say for sure that every person killed in the bombing of Iraq and Syria has been a combatant.

After the near-certainty standard was imposed on drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, the frequency of strikes dropped precipitously, and the use of so-called signature strikes — attacks aimed at large groups of armed men who fit the profile of militants but whose names were not all known to the CIA — was curtailed.

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          Staff Sgt. Bales Sentenced to Life in Prison for Murdering 16 Afghan Cilvilians   

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MARGARET WARNER: We turn to two Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole today for murdering 16 civilians in a solo nighttime rampage in Afghanistan last March. Most of his victims were women and children.

Today’s sentence was the toughest the six-member military jury could impose. The 40-year-old staff sergeant pleaded guilty in June, which spared him the death penalty.

Adam Ashton has been covering this trial for The News Tribune in Tacoma, Washington, and joins us now.

Adam Ashton, welcome.

What was this jury weighing in trying to decide what sentence to impose? Well, first of all, what were their options?

ADAM ASHTON, The News Tribune: They only had two options.

Murder has a mandatory minimum life sentence under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, so Bales only had a choice — option today of life with parole or life without parole. In the morning, we had closing arguments, and the prosecution hit him very hard, saying he was ruthless and cold-blooded and had no remorse.

They showed graphic pictures of his victims, especially children, and they played a video showing Robert Bales leaving the second village he attacked and walking slowly through the fields. While they played that video, the prosecutor said, these are not the movements of someone who doesn’t know what he was doing. They said he was clear-eyed and wanted to murder Afghans that night and that he had no remorse for it when he came back to his base and spoke to soldiers about the massacre.

That was followed by defense arguments that painted Robert Bales as remorseful for the killings. They said he took responsibility for it in signing this plea agreement. And they pointed to an audience full of soldiers and family and friends who have stood by Robert Bales. And they said this was a person who was a good soldier and a good person before his fourth deployment, and he snapped under the pressure of the wars.

MARGARET WARNER: Now, the prosecution took the unusual step — it happens rarely in these cases — of actually flying in Afghan civilians who were either victims, but survived, or close witnesses.

What sort of portrait did they paint of what happened that night?

ADAM ASHTON: That was really remarkable to see Afghan villagers in an American military courtroom describing the attack that night. They painted a horrible scene, describing Sergeant Bales as entering their homes and corralling women and children in a room and shooting women and children in that room.

They described themselves as devastated by the loss of their families. They were able to speak pretty candidly about their feelings today in court. They said they were — after the hearing, rather, they said they were disappointed that he didn’t get the death penalty.

MARGARET WARNER: And then what portrait did the defense try to put forward? What kind of testimony, including from Bales himself, did they paint to try to change that or amend that portrait?

ADAM ASHTON: So, Bales gave his first apology in court yesterday. He spoke for about 40 minutes.

And, to me, he seemed very sincere, that he lost control of himself as he tried to cope with anger that he had been experiencing since his second Iraq tour. He never sought consistent help for that anger, and he just snapped, he said. He couldn’t explain the killings. He said he was remorseful for them and he couldn’t apologize enough.

That picture was complemented by testimony from his brother and a childhood friend, who cast him as a social person growing up who took care of other people, including a disabled child.

Then three soldiers testified and described that they thought highly of Bales. And these were very well-respected soldiers who had gone on to great careers in the Army. They had said that Bales performed well in combat and was a good soldier to have in their units.

MARGARET WARNER: Did they offer any testimony that he had really suffered post-traumatic stress disorder or some kind of real psychological problem as a result of — I think this was his fourth combat deployment?

ADAM ASHTON: In the press, we absolutely were expecting that to come up, but it didn’t come up in court this week.

The defense chose not to pursue a mental health defense. The Army had a number of doctors ready to testify that would have countered any diagnosis that the defense presented about traumatic brain injuries or PTSD, so the defense chose just to let Bales speak for himself.

Certainly, the behavior that Bales described would suggest PTSD. He said he was furious doing the dishes and sitting in traffic and he was ashamed to ask for help.

MARGARET WARNER: Adam Ashton of The News Tribune in Tacoma, Washington, thank you.

ADAM ASHTON: Thanks for having me.

 

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          Is Western Intervention Warranted if UN Confirms Syria Used Chemical Weapons?   

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MARGARET WARNER: To debate that, I’m joined by Robert Zarate, policy director of the Foreign Policy Initiative, and Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

Welcome.

Robert Zarate, let’s start with, given the scale of the human suffering in Syria, whoever is proven to be behind yesterday’s attack, does the West have an obligation to intervene militarily?

ROBERT ZARATE, The Foreign Policy Initiative: Yes, I think the West has an obligation — the United States in particular has an obligation to intervene militarily, and not just because of what happened in the suburbs of Damascus, but because of what has happened over the last two-and-a-half years, since the Assad regime began its conflict with the Syrian people.

Over 100,000 people have died. Upwards near — approaching a million people are now displaced internally, and it’s destabilizing the entire region.

MARGARET WARNER: Joshua Landis, how do you see it? Is there a — almost a moral duty to intervene at this point?

JOSHUA LANDIS, University of Oklahoma: The international community has a responsibility in this situation to do something to alleviate human suffering.

A third of Syrians are displaced, two million outside the country, five million inside the country. It’s a country of about 22 million to 24 million people. The problem, as Dempsey has outlined, is that we don’t have a partner in this. The Syrian opposition is dominated by Islamists.

And that makes it very difficult for us to jump in, because the last response that was given to this situation was to arm and to send lethal weapons to the opposition. If we send more lethal weapons, we’re going to destroy what remains of the Syrian state. And there are 1,000-some-odd militias running around Syria.

This situation could become a lot worse.

MARGARET WARNER: Let me ask you this.

ROBERT ZARATE: So, now an occupation force of over 100,000 people in order to freeze the situation and begin to supply food and aid to people, we’re only going to make the situation worse.

MARGARET WARNER: What I’m asking is, is there a sort of moral dimension to this, that at some point — I think that’s what you’re saying — maybe come back to you, Mr. Zarate.

You’re saying, at some point, the West has to sort of stand up and do something militarily for moral reasons.

ROBERT ZARATE: Not — both for moral and — reasons and for reasons of national security interests.

Look, what we’re seeing right now in Syria is a rogue regime that has used weapons of mass destruction. We’re seeing the creation of safe havens within Syria for terrorists. And, last, we’re seeing terrorists within grasp of getting chemical weapons. It’s quite possible that the Assad regime could lose control of these things.

This is the very sort of thing that the United States for decades has fought to prevent. And in that argument for further action is both an argument that stands on national security interests and on moral humanitarian leadership.

MARGARET WARNER: And, Joshua Landis, we’re having a little trouble with your audio, but weigh in here.

What do you think just in general — at what point do moral considerations or the duty to sort of stand up against atrocities counterbalance or even outweigh the practical obstacles, which, of course, we heard General Dempsey and many others have laid out? Or does that never — is that never the case?

JOSHUA LANDIS: Of course it’s the case.

I mean, you have to be able to make the situation better. And in order to do that — Syria is a failed nation. We have two sectarian groups who are fighting each other, the Sunni Arabs and the Alawites and other minorities, along with the many rich Sunnis who are still clinging to this regime.

And if America goes in and helps one side conquer the other, things could become — it’s not going to solve the problem. We did that in Iraq. We gave the Shiites a total win against the Sunnis, and now the Sunnis are all radicalized and they’re joining al-Qaida.

We cannot rebuild — if we go in, we have to either rebuild Syria or we have to divide it up into three states, like we did in Yugoslavia. And America doesn’t have — the problem is, today, Americans don’t want to do it. They don’t want to spend the money. This would be an extremely expensive endeavor.

Should the world do it? Yes, absolutely. The suffering is enormous in Syria, and it’s going to get a lot worse. Agriculture has collapsed, and this winter, we’re going to see many, many more refugees and people starving.

MARGARET WARNER: And that raises an important point about public opinion, Mr. Zarate. Where is the outrage when you see the kind of things we have seen for two-and-a-half years, yet the public has consistently — it’s a 2-1, 60 percent, 65 percent say shouldn’t intervene militarily. What do you think explains that?

ROBERT ZARATE: Well, I think one of the biggest factors that explains public indifference is the absence of the commander in chief taking his — the stage to explain what’s going on.

You know, over the last few months, we have seen the White House issue statements after the use of chemical weapons, but these statements have not come from the president himself. They come from his advisers. And the fact is, if the president prioritizes this issue, if he believes it’s important, he needs to go out there and explain it to the American people. And that’s just something we haven’t seen him do.

MARGARET WARNER: And you think that presidential — the president taking the lead can overcome this antipathy that we’re now seeing to really any kind of involvement overseas militarily?

ROBERT ZARATE: Absolutely.

This is what — this is the essence of presidential leadership. And there are times when the president must persuade the American people, explain to them what’s at stake. And make no mistake, there’s a lot at stake in Syria right now.

MARGARET WARNER: Joshua Landis, what do you think…

JOSHUA LANDIS: I think that’s wrong.

MARGARET WARNER: Go.

JOSHUA LANDIS: I think that’s wrong.

We had strong presidential leadership when we invaded Iraq, and it turned out disastrously. And we spent $1 trillion. And we have gained very little in terms of our national interests, if anything at all.

It’s not clear that strong leadership by America is going to solve the Syrian problem. We have a country that is falling apart. And in many ways, the Syrians are going to have to come to a new balance of power within their country. Trying to figure out what that balance of power is between Shiites, Sunni Arabs, and Kurds is something that nobody has an answer to today.

In the United States, in our civil war, 750,000 people were killed, and, in 1860, we had a census of 30,000 people. Syria is about 24,000 — 100,000 and a little bit more having killed so far. Syria is nowhere near up to the American Civil War.

Now, should any international force through the British or the French have intervened and stopped Americans from killing each other? Probably, they should have. But would it have made America a better place? I’m not sure it would have.

MARGARET WARNER: On that note, we will leave it there.

Joshua Landis and Robert Zarate, thank you.

 

 

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          Syrian Regime Denies Using Poisonous Gas in Deadly Attack Outside Damascus   

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RAY SUAREZ: The Syrian government pounded rebel areas outside the capital, Damascus, early today, and anti-government activists said some rockets included chemical weapons that killed hundreds of people.

A warning: There are disturbing images in this report.

Women and children shielded their faces with handkerchiefs, while victims, writhing in pain, gasped for air, some foaming at the mouth. These amateur videos all posted on social media Web sites that cannot be independently verified showed scores of bodies filling clinic floors and hallways. All showed little signs of visible injuries.

In one local doctor’s account:

MAN (through interpreter): It is a huge crisis. The number of victims is very high. I have carried in my own hands around 50 dead children. The gas was losing its effect after half-an-hour, but unfortunately people went down to the basements, and because the gas is heavy, it reached the basements, and, as a result, the number of wounded increased.

RAY SUAREZ: It’s all evidence, Syrian opposition leaders in Turkey say, of the government’s gassing of its own civilians, in what could be one of the deadliest incidents in the two-year-long Syrian conflict.

KHALED SALEH, Syrian National Coalition: These are the faces of terrorists that Bashar al-Assad is targeting. This massacre puts the world on attention. It really sends a message to all of the international organizations to the — the number of crimes this regime is willing to commit.

RAY SUAREZ: But, back in Damascus, a military spokesman denied the allegations.

MAN (through interpreter): The media channels have lied, as usual, that the Syrian Arab army used chemical weapons in the suburbs of Damascus today. The general leadership of the army confirms these allegations are completely false and are a part of the dirty media war that is led by some countries against Syria.

RAY SUAREZ: The purported attack comes amid reports that Assad forces have regained major swathes of territory in the country in recent weeks and just days after a 20-member United Nations inspection team arrived in Syria to investigate three other possible chemical weapon incidents.

In Washington, the Obama administration expressed alarm at news of the attack, but White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest stopped short of confirming details, instead calling for a U.N.-backed investigation.

JOSH EARNEST, White House Deputy Press Secretary: There is an investigation team that is on the ground in Syria right. And we are hopeful that the Assad regime will follow through on what they have claimed previously and give the investigators access to the sites, the opportunity to interview witnesses, the opportunity to collect physical samples, and other things that would help them reach a credible determination about what exactly occurred there.

RAY SUAREZ: World leaders, including the foreign ministers of Britain and Germany and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, expressed shock at the chemical weapons allegations and called for a thorough investigation, as did Russia, which has protected the Assad regime by vetoing U.N. sanctions aimed at ending the violence.

In a statement, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman suggested the incident could be a provocation by the opposition, saying: “This is supported by the fact that the criminal act was committed near Damascus at the very moment when a mission of U.N. experts had successfully started their work of investigating allegations of the possible use of chemical weapons there.”

The U.N. Security Council did meet in emergency session late today to discuss the day’s events, all this as thousands of Syrians continue to stream over the borders everyday to neighboring countries Iraq and Jordan, trying to escape the ongoing violence.

 

 

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          What Do We Know About Kandahar Killings Suspect?   

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JUDY WOODRUFF: For more on this story and specifically on what is known about the man who allegedly went on this rampage in Afghanistan, we turn to Craig Whitlock. He’s a reporter with The Washington Post.

Craig, thank you for being with us.

Military officials, as we heard, are now saying they have probable cause to hold the suspect. ABC News was reporting late today that he had confessed. Why aren’t they making his name public yet?

CRAIG WHITLOCK, The Washington Post: I think they’re trying to get to the actual bottom of why he did this.

There’s not much question, Judy, of who did this. As you reported, this soldier walked off the base, massacred these villagers, walked back on the base, turned himself in. Leon Panetta said yesterday that he essentially confessed. He said he did it.

I think they’re trying to figure out why he did it. They don’t know if it was some sort of mental scars from his previous deployment. Military officials said they were looking into whether alcohol found on this small military base may have played a role, that they don’t know. In short, they don’t know what led this guy to snap and walk off the base in the middle of the night and gun down and apparently burn 16 Afghans, including most of them women and children.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So it’s reported he’s a trained sniper. What more is known about him? You mentioned a possible emotional or mental issue. We know there’s been reports that he was involved — a report that he was involved in a vehicle turnover, a traumatic brain injury as a result of that back in Iraq in 2010.

CRAIG WHITLOCK: That’s right.

As we reported today, he’s had multiple deployments in Iraq. He was there on at least three different occasions, you know, nine- to 12-month tours in Iraq. This was his first one in Afghanistan. He arrived in Afghanistan in December. But in 2010 in Iraq, he was involved in a vehicle rollover. He was treated and diagnosed for a traumatic brain injury.

Now, we don’t know the extent of that injury. We don’t know if it was a concussion, something much worse. It’s a fairly common injury that has been diagnosed in perhaps a couple hundred thousand U.S. troops over the last 10 years. It’s something that Army doctors are just getting their arms around, trying to figure out — somebody may not show any signs of visible injury, but it can come back and manifest itself in different ways later on.

Now, just because somebody suffered an injury like that doesn’t mean they’re apt to walk off a base in the middle of the night and massacre a bunch of Afghans. I think that’s what the Army investigators are really trying to figure out. Was that a contributing factor? Was it these repeated deployments? Was it something else?

I think, at this point, they are still trying to nail that down and perhaps nail down a motive before they file charges and identify this person.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, Craig Whitlock, you did some interesting reporting, you had some interesting reporting in The Post today about the place where he is stationed in the United States, Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, and some incidents there.

Can you expand on some of that?

CRAIG WHITLOCK: Yeah, sure.

One problem they have at this military base in Washington state, which is the biggest military installation in the Pacific Northwest, has had many, many troops go to Iraq and Afghanistan — they have had real problems with their medical center there in treating troops on the way home, not only for visible injuries, but for post-traumatic stress, brain injuries, things of that nature.

And a number of critics at the base, veterans groups, anti-war activists, have said that the medical center there has a history of signing off paperwork to say that these soldiers are fit for duty and can ship out again in short periods, without giving a chance for them to fully recuperate.

There’s a number of investigations going on and a couple medical staff have been put on leave. And it looks like there’s been at least a few hundred cases where soldiers were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder initially. Those diagnoses were later downgraded, whether to enable these soldiers to fight again or to reduce health care costs.

Now, again, whether that was a factor in the case of this soldier in Afghanistan near Kandahar on Sunday, we don’t know. But we do know there’s a pattern of these problems at that base.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, again, that was going on at the time that he would have been there in between deployments.

CRAIG WHITLOCK: Exactly.

And that’s — military investigators are really scrutinizing not just what injuries he may have had in his previous deployments, but they want to take a very careful look at whatever doctor would have had to sign off on him being fit to return to duty. What kind of test was he given? How extensive was it? Where there any internal disagreements over that? Did the soldier or his superiors object, saying that he needed to be watched more closely?

And that’s the kind of thing. They’re going back and coming through his medical records, his personnel records, again, to determine whether any of this could have been a factor, whether he was actually fit to return to duty.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And one other thing about Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, Craig Whitlock, and that is that there have been reports — well, incidents of soldiers, Marines — soldiers based there who have gone rogue, in effect.

CRAIG WHITLOCK: That’s right, Judy.

We reported on this extensively last year and the year before. There was another Army unit, a platoon from Lewis-McChord in 2010 that members of that platoon have been convicted of killing three unarmed Afghan civilians. They called themselves a kill team.

And it wasn’t far from where this soldier on Sunday was assigned. Different group, different soldiers. Again, there were reports of why — what were the motives? What would have led these soldiers to do this, over a period of time, hunt down innocent Afghan civilians? They dismembered some of the corpses, kept fingers or body parts.

It turned out the ringleader in that case had also been to Iraq before. His background was heavily scrutinized. But it turned out there was no apparent reason for why he would do this. There was no medical reason. He had no history of substance abuse, no history of brain injury. He just — like you said, he went rogue. And, sometimes, there is no logical explanation for why people do these things.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we know that, in this case, the investigation continues.

Craig Whitlock, The Washington Post, thanks very much.

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          After Draftless Decade of War, Gap Seen Between Military, Civilians   

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, after a decade of the United States at war, Margaret Warner talks with some who have gone to the battlefield and with some who have stayed behind, as a new Pew Research poll documents the gulf between them.

MARGARET WARNER: It’s another busy day for 31-year-old college senior Sean Grove (ph). After five years in the Army, including 12 months in Iraq, he left to pursue a second college degree at the University of Maryland. He also works assisting the 800 or so veterans on this campus of 35,000. But whether he’s there or at home, Grove feels disconnected from fellow students who haven’t served.

MAN: On my block, I’m the only one with an American flag hanging out front. I remember when I got out and talked to other guys my age, they weren’t in the military. And I was, like, kind of shocked, like, what, you have never served in the military?

MARGARET WARNER: Chances are, they didn’t. The 10 years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq triggered by the 9/11 attacks have been the longest period of sustained combat in U.S. history, yet fought with an all-volunteer force. That’s meant only about half of 1 percent of Americans have been on active duty at any one time in the decade, a mere fraction of the 9 percent who served at the height of World War II.

To mark tomorrow’s 10th anniversary of the start of the Afghan war, a new poll from the Pew Research Center explores this recent military civilian gap in service and how it’s affected attitudes about war and sacrifice in the post-9/11 era.

Among both groups Pew found great respect for those who fought — 96 percent of 9/11 era vets feel proud of their service. And 91 percent of the public, whatever their attitudes on the wars, feel proud of those who served.

But 44 percent of this generation of vets report trouble adjusting to civilian life, far more than after past wars. And more than 70 percent of vets and non-vets alike agree that the American people don’t understand the problems these modern era vets face.

To explore those findings we visited two groups of students on the University of Maryland campus this week. The veterans at Maryland ranged in age, rank and experience. But all said their military service had changed them for the better.

First-generation American Henry Carbajales enlisted in the Marines a year after 9/11. A communication specialist for eight years, including 22 months in Iraq, he’s now back as a freshman studying computer science.

HENRY CARBAJALES, University of Maryland: I’m very proud of it. It made me a better man, a better citizen. I may not have — may not have a concrete goal what to do in my life, but at least I know I’m capable to achieve anything I want to achieve, all thanks to the military.

VALARIE AUSTIN, University of Maryland: Military directs you and focuses you.

MARGARET WARNER: West Point grad Valarie Austin retired as an Army lieutenant colonel after 21 years, including service as a military intelligence officer in the first Gulf War. Now pursuing a second college degree in computer science, Austin feels civilian students have little awareness of the current wars or the effort that goes into fighting them.

VALARIE AUSTIN: A lot of the students that are here, they have lived through 9/11 for the last 10 years. So they have almost begun to in some ways disassociate with it. It’s just something that’s happening over there.

MARGARET WARNER: These vets didn’t want to dwell on their wartime sacrifice. But on returning, they said, a gulf opened up with old friends and new ones.

Maryland senior Chris Day joined the Army for four years after high school, spending two tours in Afghanistan. He found it tough adjusting when he moved back and into a freshman dorm.

CHRIS DAY, University of Maryland: You know, I couldn’t relate. I was so happy and motivated to be here, and they were just, you know, crying about having to wake up for an 8:00 a.m. class. And I was like pumped to go to an 8:00 a.m. class and glad I wasn’t waking up before the sun rose, you know?

And so they, students, the perceptions are completely different, and, you know, where I feel as though we’re a whole lot more grateful for the small things that, you know, color, like, outside, there’s grass and there’s a sun that doesn’t have dust over it.

MARGARET WARNER: This doesn’t surprise Maryland professor David Segal, who directs a military organization research center there and consulted on the poll.

DAVID SEGAL, University of Maryland: The veterans are older than our regular undergraduate students coming right out of high school. They have had life experiences that the other students haven’t had. And they certainly feel that the other students tend not to understand what they have been through. And they’re absolutely right.

MARGARET WARNER: But it’s more than the age difference. These vets say few of their fellow students or professors even ask about what they have been through.

HENRY CARBAJALES: I will get this randomly, where I would just — I guess they call it a 1,000-yard stare. As for my teachers, fellow peers, I don’t really talk about what I have done, what I — just, yes, I was in the service, and that’s it. They don’t really ask any questions.

SHELLY BURGOYNE, University of Maryland: You know, veterans coming home aren’t — A., they are not victims. They have experienced something hard. They have come back. They are stronger from it. And they are normal Americans trying to live their life.

MARGARET WARNER: Master’s degree student Shelly Burgoyne, a retired 37-year-old Army lieutenant with two tours in Iraq, thinks post-9/11 vets are having a tough time reentering civilian life because they’re such an anomaly in their generation.

SHELLY BURGOYNE: When men came back from World War II, they all had served, so there was a common — a commonality. And they had a community of people around them that understood them on a daily basis. And they integrated back into society well.

MARGARET WARNER: She’s right, says Pew Center executive vice president Paul Taylor, one of the poll’s co-authors.

PAUL TAYLOR, Pew Research Center: They are not as fully integrated in the full society as has been the case with our warriors in past wars. Here, the post-9/11 veterans stand out. They have — 44 percent say that they have had difficulties readjusting to civilian life. We asked the same question of the older veterans who served in earlier years, and 25 percent said that.

MARGARET WARNER: To talk with non-vet students on the Maryland campus, we went to an undergraduate English class. The students were preparing a reading of Euripides’ play “The Bacchae.”

These undergrads spent their entire teenage years in the shadow of war, yet feel scarcely touched by it.

Senior Nick Krug is an English major.

NICK KRUG, University of Maryland: And I think, you know, for me, it’s inconsequential. For me, I have been able to, unfortunately, take it for granted, take it for granted for what the soldiers have done. I don’t think about it my daily life. Really, just having these questions asked, that is the only time I think about it. So, that is pretty of the biggest tragedy, I think, of what is going on.

MARGARET WARNER: I asked senior Anna Isaacs, an aspiring journalist, about how the war has touched her.

Has this decade of war required any sacrifice from you or your family?

ANNA ISAACS, University of Maryland: No, not from my family. And I think that’s the worst part.

MARGARET WARNER: Like most Americans polled, senior Omari James, hoping to be a teacher, professed great admiration for his fellow students who are veterans.

OMARI JAMES, University of Maryland: Immense respect, immense respect, because, I mean, just walking past them, in their uniforms, or you know them to have served, they elicit that respect.

MARGARET WARNER: Yet they admitted they don’t know many veterans on campus and never considered the military for themselves after high school.

ANNA ISAACS: I only ever met people who had served in these wars when I came to college. And they tend to be people from, you know, poorer backgrounds, from different areas, from the South. And, yes, it makes you question, you know, why are these the people who are over there, and why not us? And why is that?

MARGARET WARNER: So what can be done to bridge the gap? The Pew poll showed both the public and veterans have such confidence in the professional military that they don’t want to return to a draft.

SHEILA MCMENAMIN, University of Maryland: I will serve the country some day by teaching. My friend will serve the country by being a great doctor. There’s countless ways to do it. It just depends on how you look at it.

MAN: And that could be anything, helping out the community.

HENRY CARBAJALES: I see it as like a pyramid effect. Right now, it’s just us and our families, and then their friends. If we do something nationally, where everybody gets involved, it will make the pyramid a lot bigger, and I think people will then start seeing greater appreciation.

MARGARET WARNER: That appreciation and more understanding from the American people is what the post-9/11 veterans most yearn for.

The post After Draftless Decade of War, Gap Seen Between Military, Civilians appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


          Comment on How I started my law office in Iraq by Ginger Cruz   
Sounds good as long as you are not actually practicing law in iraq. That would be illegal.
          Joshua Foust & Michael Cohen   
Optimism vs. pessimism on Afghanistan ... Vague goals, uncertain metrics ... Failing to capitalize on success, mission-creeping into a drug war ... Which lessons should we take from Iraq? ... If the Taliban returns to power, will America be cool with that? ... Can the US still fight wars effectively? ...
          Hello   
So I'm new here, but not to the fight. 14 years service in the Army, combat in Iraq for 2. I stand by for what I fought and killed for, just to be nullified by Obama. Again, my brothers and...
          Preliminary Injunction Refused: Settlement In Mosque Zoning Dispute Stands   
In Youkhanna v. City of Sterling Heights, (ED MI, June 28, 2017), a Michigan federal district court refused to issue a preliminary injunction to prevent enforcement of a consent judgment entered into by the city of Sterling Heights.  The consent judgment allows the American Islamic Community Center to construct a mosque on land in the city.  Plaintiffs live near the mosque site.  Some are Chaldean Christians form Iraq and one is an Assyrian Christian from Syria.  They allege that their religious groups in Iraq and Syria have been subjected to violence by ISIS.  The court held that plaintiffs had not shown a likelihood of success on their constitutional and statutory claims regarding the validity of the consent judgment and the conduct of the meeting at which it was approved. (See prior related posting.)
          The terrifying last days of ISIS in Mosul   

Brutal fighting and mounting civilian casualties threaten a Pyrrhic victory for Iraqi Security Forces

The post The terrifying last days of ISIS in Mosul appeared first on Macleans.ca.


          Amateur Iraqi Couple Trying Their First Anal   
Watch Amateur Iraqi Couple Trying Their First Anal at free fuck and porn video site
          184 refugiados sirios e iraquíes llegan a España procedentes de Grecia   
España ha acogido a 1.488 solicitantes de protección internacional, según el Ministerio del Interior
          The Next Front in the U.S. Fight Against ISIS   

By: LISA MONACO More than two years into the American-led campaign against the Islamic State, freeing the cities of Mosul, in Iraq, and Raqqa, in Syria, is within reach. But since the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared the establishment of its caliphate from the pulpit of a mosque in Mosul in 2014, the Islamic …

The post The Next Front in the U.S. Fight Against ISIS appeared first on Jahangir's World Times.


          Hundreds flee Mosul as Iraqi forces squeeze last pockets of IS resistance   
The areas where government forces are fighting have been under siege for months.
          Stephen Grand - Press Conference USA - June 30, 2017   
Stephen Grand, Executive Director of the Middle East Strategy Task Force at the Atlantic Council, presents a blueprint on how the Middle East can break the current cycle of conflict, whether in Syria, Iraq, Libya or Yemen. He tells host Carol Castiel and VOA Senior Middle East reporter Mohamed Elshinnawi, that a combination of grassroots efforts by civil society as well as diplomatic, economic and political leadership by Western and regional leaders can bring stability and unlock the region’s vast potential.
          Comment on Trump Threatens North Korea by Go TRUMP   
ISIS is contained and almost eliminated on the Iraq side (where we operate). On the Syria side they still operate but we are trying to force Assad and Russia to finish them off. Keeping them around allows Assad to continue hostilities which is not something we want. North Korea has to be peacefully resolved as everybody understands due to their artillery, sleeper cells in South Korea, extensive tunnel system, and possible subs. How that is done is beyond me but hopefully it can be achieved. Speeches, babies, etc. are all pretense. 99% of the diplomatic, diplomatic, and force measures (if any are applied) are done without the public being aware. Particularly with this administration. They don't give anything to the press.
          ‘Letters From Baghdad’ tells fascinating story of Gertrude Bell   
Before ancient Mesopotamia was transformed into 20th-century Iraq, the extraordinary British diplomat, mountaineer, archaeologist and spy Gertrude Bell was working to carve up the Middle East into principalities that Europe could comfortably control. She and her compatriot, T.E. Lawrence, helped…
          The Syrian Nightmare: No End in Sight   
On June 10, the Syrian Army blitzed across an arid stretch of countryside in southeastern Syria to reach the Iraqi border for the first time in three years. The move, which caught US war-planners off guard, prevents US-backed rebels from moving north from al Tanf to join the fight against ISIS in Raqqa and Deir...
          Ralo – Chiraqistan (feat. Lil Durk)   

Atlanta and Chicago connect for this new record off that upcoming Gucci Mane collaborative mixtape.


          Iraqi Prime Minister declares end to IS caliphate    
Iraq's Prime Minister is declaring an end to the Islamic State group's self-proclaimed caliphate after Iraqi forces captured the compound of a landmark mosque in Mosul that was blown up last week.
          Where the battles to retake Mosul and Raqqa stand   
Ahmad Al-Rubaye/Getty Images(MOSUL, Iraq) — Separated by fewer than 250 miles, the people of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria are awaiting liberation from ISIS. Two campaigns, backed by the U.S.-led coalition to fight ISIS, are being waged simultaneously against a brutal enemy that has used civilians as human shields and will fight to death before surrender. Now, three years after these cities came under siege, the battles to recapture them are showing signs of success. In Mosul, there are only a few hundred ISIS fighters. The Pentagon announced Thursday that the city’s liberation could be just “days” away. In Raqqa, Syrian Democratic Forces have completely encircled the city. “[ISIS] leaders have abandoned fighters to die. Local fighters are being left to rot where they fall, while foreign fighters receive proper burials,” Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the American-led coalition against ISIS, said Thursday. Dillon described some of the remaining ISIS fighters as making “rookie mistakes,” even blowing themselves up accidentally when preparing for combat. Once the mighty capitals...
          Iraqi Prime Minister declares end to IS caliphate    
Iraq's Prime Minister is declaring an end to the Islamic State group's self-proclaimed caliphate after Iraqi forces captured the compound of a landmark mosque in Mosul that was blown up last week.
          Iraqi backed US-led Coalition Kills Key IS Leader   

Iraqi backed US-led Coalition Kills Key IS Leader Ayad al-Jumaili, deputy to Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed in an air strike Friday, an Iraqi intelligence spokesman said Saturday. Jumaili was killed with other Islamic State commanders in a strike carried out by the Iraqi air force in the region of al-Qaim, […]

The post Iraqi backed US-led Coalition Kills Key IS Leader appeared first on Live Trading News.


          Agremiação Sportiva Arapiraquense vs Botafogo PB, Jul 02, 2017 – Live Stream, Score, Prediction   
Brazilian Serie C, ASA – Botafogo PB, Sunday, 3:00 pm ET Short Preview Enjoy watching a meeting between a mid-table team and a leading team (ranked 7 and 2). ASA is in awful shape (in the last 5 games wins – 0). Botafogo PB is in a marvelous shape and in addition in the last […]
          Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Deportation Of 1,400 Iraqis Nationwide   
A federal judge in Michigan has temporarily barred U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from deporting a group of more than 1,400 Iraqi nationals for at least two weeks, expanding an order that initially applied only to those in the Detroit area. The Iraqis covered by the injunction have been convicted of crimes in the U.S. — in some cases, decades ago. Since then, they've been allowed to remain in their communities under supervision. They face deportation because Iraq recently agreed to issue travel documents for their repatriation — but the Iraqis say they need a chance to show why they should be allowed to stay in the U.S. U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith ruled late Monday that the Iraqis at risk of being deported from the U.S. could face "grave consequences" if they're forced to return to their native country — and that the potential for irreparable harm outweighs the government's interest in their immediate removal. Goldsmith, who was named to the bench by President Barack
          Rare white lion celebrates first birthday in Baghdad zoo   
A zoo in Iraq is rearing a white lion cub and officials say they're hoping to welcome another one of the unusual big cats in the coming month.
          Iraqi government claims fall of ISIS as war goes on   
Baghdad’s Pyrrhic victory in conquering the demolished al-Nuri mosque has not ended the fighting in Mosul, much less the armed conflict across Iraq, Syria and beyond.
          Veterans Organizations Praise Unveiling of Student Veteran Lounge at BCC   
Veterans organizations from across Massachusetts were represented at the grand opening Thursday of a student veteran resource lounge at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield. The dedicated space just off the college’s main student lounge features a world map dotted with pins indicating where the college’s 80 student veterans served in the U.S. and across the globe. Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans’ Services Coleman Nee says the commonwealth has seen an explosion of student vets as 45,000 service members have returned from tours in Afghanistan and Iraq since 9/11. “We need to be able to support those student veterans while they’re on campus understanding they’re non-traditional students with some very unique circumstances that have led them to that college campus and also some unique challenges and obstacles that they’re overcoming,” said Nee. Chris Broast was deployed to Iraq for eight months as a member of the U.S. Army’s 1 st Cavalry Division. Now in his first year at
          Más de 180 refugiados de nacionalidad siria e iraquí llegan a España    
Se van a alojar en centros de acogida en varias provincias. Desde que empezó el programa europeo para los refugiados, nuestro país ha acogido a casi 1.500 refugiados, una cifra muy alejada todavía de los 17.000 a los que se comprometió.  
          Iraque promete vitória contra o EI em Mossul nos próximos dias   

O Iraque anunciará nos próximos dias sua vitória em Mossul contra o grupo Estado Islâmico (EI) – garantiu nesta sexta-feira (30) um comandante das forças iraquianas, enquanto a organização sofre, ao mesmo tempo, um cerco crescente na vizinha Síria. “Nos próximos dias, anunciaremos a vitória final sobre o Daesh”, declarou o general iraquiano Abdel Ghani […]

The post Iraque promete vitória contra o EI em Mossul nos próximos dias appeared first on ISTOÉ Independente.


          Iraqi troops in mop-up operations in Mosul after key gains   
MOSUL, Iraq (AP) — Iraqi commanders say troops are clearing up a key neighborhood captured from Islamic State militants in the city of Mosul, a day after Iraq’s prime minister declared an end to the extremist group’s self-proclaimed caliphate. Lt. Gen. Abdul Wahab al-Saadi and Lt. Col. Salam Hussein say […]
          Iraqi Prime Minister declares end to IS caliphate    
Iraq's Prime Minister is declaring an end to the Islamic State group's self-proclaimed caliphate after Iraqi forces captured the compound of a landmark mosque in Mosul that was blown up last week.
          6月29日(木)のつぶやき その4   

シニフィアンとシニフィエで最重要ポイントって、ソシュールが指摘してる通りでシニフィアンとシニフィエは分離してません(できません)…という点かと。分離不可能な点を重視するとちょっとだけ純粋疎外とオーバーラップするw

— 大江昇 (@TKDOMO) 2017年6月29日 - 20:01

むかし宝島がJICCだったころ倉庫整理のバイトやってたけど、当時はバックナンバーあった。一日一冊ずつ(賃金のほかに)くれた。

— konso (@oiroppa) 2017年6月29日 - 20:01

『フランケンシュタインの誘惑 科学史 闇の事件簿「ビタミン×戦争×森鴎外」』 いよいよ今夜10時から、BSプレミアムです。見てね、面白いよっ!
www4.nhk.or.jp/P3442/x/2017-0…

— なかのとおる (@handainakano) 2017年6月29日 - 20:01

【マメジカ】
小型の鹿で体長30~48cm程のサイズ、
子供の大きさは手乗りサイズの
世界最小のシカだそうです。
別名「森の妖精」と呼ばれています。 pic.twitter.com/etIsl6VZ2Y

— 秘密にしたい生き物 (@himithu_ikimono) 2017年6月29日 - 20:00

Miles Davis - On The Corner (1972) - full album 良い子のオン・ザ・コーナーですw たまにはハードコアでギンギンに… youtube.com/watch?v=AIqXpr…

— 大江昇 (@TKDOMO) 2017年6月29日 - 20:52

豊洲のご当地ビール 豊洲蜂蜜エール。

口に広がる豊かな味わい! pic.twitter.com/RhacWwkJ8h

— 湾岸暮らしの独り言。 (@wangan_goto) 2017年6月29日 - 19:56

スマートフォンの終焉が近づいている--次の大きな波は何か - CNET Japan -
m.japan.cnet.com/story/35100255/

— 宮島 (@fudoumyousan) 2017年6月29日 - 20:02

アメリカ!何をやっている? 7機の米軍ヘリがISISテロリストを救出移送! イラク・キルクーク南のハウィジャ、クルド民兵ペシュメルガの陣地に近く、ISISが支配している地域。1時間後ヘリはクルド自治区アービルに向かって飛び立った! twitter.com/iraqi_day/stat…

— mko (@trappedsoldier) 2017年6月29日 - 20:40

こちらは荻窪titleさんで行った國分さんのソロ講義。|特集「中動態の世界」 第二部 「失われた「態」を求めて」國分功一郎講演(荻窪・Title)  『中動態の世界 意志と責任の考古学』(医学書院)刊行記念 dokushojin.com/article.html?i…

— 白石正明 (@shiraishimas) 2017年6月29日 - 19:40

論文は、「ツイッターを積極的に利用すると、恋愛関係にあるパートナーとの間でツイッターをめぐるけんかがより多く起き、そのことが原因で浮気や破局、離婚につながる」と指摘〈アーカイブ〉 afpbb.com/articles/-/301…

— AFPBB News (@afpbbcom) 2017年6月29日 - 21:03

病の抑止はマスのレベルにおいてもできる。でもそこからさらに逸脱していく者に対して、それを救済することは資本主義システムのなかで出てきた大量生産の消費財としてのサブカルチャーの機能する範囲と限界は見極めるべきです。(物語消滅論p166)

— 大塚英志bot (@otsukaeiji_bot) 2017年6月29日 - 21:35

終わっていく場所と
どこかで始まっていく場所

ちゃんとみてないと
すぐなんだから pic.twitter.com/KJRZO1Qaa6

— 吉高由里子 (@ystk_yrk) 2017年6月29日 - 21:19

運用されるのは東京湾の東京港、横浜港が有力。今後、停泊が可能な期間を調査する。政府は宿泊施設不足を補う役割のほか、特定の企業やスポンサー向けの利用も想定する。 headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20170629-…

— 休学中⭐️都心湾岸丸 R.I.P (@tokyo_jcs) 2017年6月29日 - 21:27

【ご案内】諸般の事情で遅れていました電子書籍第2弾『本当は黙っておきたかった築地移転の真実』が6月30日午後5:00より無料キャンペーンとなります。商品データは実は購入も可能ですが、現在修正中なので明日までお待ちください。
amazon.co.jp/dp/B073GC63LX

— 高橋洋介(図解士) (@zukaiseiri) 2017年6月29日 - 17:16

秋葉原のスイーツパラダイスで「電気ソーダ650円」売ってた。ボタン押すとビカビカ光るぜー。 pic.twitter.com/i8cruBQY3h

— 東京別視点ガイド (@another_tokyo) 2017年6月29日 - 21:18

漫画というメディアには他者性がないんです。これは僕が前々から言ってきたことで、「私」みたいなものを全肯定してくれるような言説を少年少女漫画は積み重ね、その他者性がないがゆえに戦後史の中で肥大することができた。(少女たちの「かわいい」天皇p128)

— 大塚英志bot (@otsukaeiji_bot) 2017年6月29日 - 22:35

ソニー レコードの生産29年ぶりに再開へ | NHKニュース www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/2017… 「去年国内で生産されたレコードは79万9000枚で、5年間で3.8倍に増えているということです。」

— 大江昇 (@TKDOMO) 2017年6月29日 - 22:49
          Paul Craig Roberts 271   

Deception Inside Deception: The Alleged Sarin Gas Attack

Deception Inside Deception: The Alleged Sarin Gas Attack
Paul Craig Roberts
Seymour Hersh, America’s most famous investigative reporter, has become persona non grata in the American Propaganda Ministry that poses as a news media but only serves to protect the US government’s war lies. Among his many triumphs Hersh exposed the American My Lai massacre in Vietnam and the Abu Ghraib torture prison run by the Americans in Iraq. Today his investigative reports have to be published in the London Review of Books or in the German Media. 
From Hersh’s latest investigative report, we learn that President Trump makes war decisions by watching staged propaganda on TV. The White Helmets, a propaganda organization for jihadists and the “Syrian opposition,” found a gullible reception from the Western media for photographs and videos of alleged victims of a Syrian Army sarin gas attack on civilians in Khan Sheikhoun. Trump saw the photos on TV and despite being assured by US intelligence that there was no Syrian sarin gas attack, ordered the US military to strike a Syrian base with Tomahawk missiles. Under international law this strike was a war crime, and it was the first direct aggression against Syria by the US which previously committed aggression via proxies called “the Syrian opposition.”
Reporting on his sources, Hersh writes: “In a series of interviews, I learned of the total disconnect between the president and many of his military advisers and intelligence officials, as well as officers on the ground in the region who had an entirely different understanding of the nature of Syria’s attack on Khan Sheikhoun. I was provided with evidence of that disconnect, in the form of transcripts of real-time communications, immediately following the Syrian attack on April 4.”
The belief that sarin gas was involved in the attack comes from what appears to be a gas cloud. Hersh was informed by US military experts that sarin is oderless and invisible and makes no cloud. What appears to have happened is that the explosion from the air attack on ISIS caused a series of secondary explosions that produced a toxic cloud formed by fertilizers and chlorine disinfectants that were stored in the building that was hit.
US officials spoke with Hersh, because they are distrubed that President Trump based a war decision on TV propaganda and refused to listen to the detailed counter-assessments of his intelligence and military services. A national security source told Hersh: “Everyone close to him knows his proclivity for acting precipitously when he does not know the facts. He doesn’t read anything and has no real historical knowledge. He wants verbal briefings and photographs. He’s a risk-taker. He can accept the consequences of a bad decision in the business world; he will just lose money. But in our world, lives will be lost and there will be long-term damage to our national security if he guesses wrong. He was told we did not have evidence of Syrian involvement and yet Trump says: ‘Do it.”’
Concerns about Trump’s purely emotional reaction to TV propaganda persist. Hersh reports that a senior national security adviser told him: “The Salafists and jihadists got everything they wanted out of their hyped-up Syrian nerve gas ploy” (the flare up of tensions between Syria, Russia and America). The issue is, what if there’s another false flag sarin attack credited to hated Syria? Trump has upped the ante and painted himself into a corner with his decision to bomb. And do not think these guys are not planning the next faked attack. Trump will have no choice but to bomb again, and harder. He’s incapable of saying he made a mistake.”
As we know, the White House has already released a statement predicting that Assad is preparing another chemical attack, for which, the White House promises, he will “pay a heavy price.” Clearly, a false flag attack is on the way. https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/06/30/washington-new-threat-against-syria-russia-iran-invitation-false-flag-operation.html 
By all means, read Hersh’s report: https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article165905578/Trump-s-Red-Line.html It reveals a president who makes precipitious decisions likely to cause a war with Russia. 
I do not doubt Sy Hersh’s integrity. I accept that he has accurately reported what he was told by US officials. My suspicions about this story do not have to do with Hersh. They have to do with what Hersh was told.
Hersh’s report puts Trump in a very bad light, and it puts the military/security complex, which we know has been trying to destroy Trump, in a very good light. Moreover, the story strikes me as inconsistent with the subsequent attack on the Syrian fighter-bomber by the US military. If the Tomahawk attack on the Syrian base was unjustified, what justified downing a Syrian war plane? Did Trump order this attack as well? If not, who did? Why? 
If national security advisers gave Trump such excellent information about the alleged sarin gas attack, completely disproving any such attack, why was he given such bad advice about shooting down a Syrian war plane, or was it done outside of channels? The effect of the shootdown is to raise the chance of a confrontation with Russia, because Russia’s response apparently has been to declare a no-fly zone over the area of Russian and Syrian operations. 
How do we know that what Hersh was told was true? What if Trump was encouraged to order the Tomahawk strike as a way of interjecting the US directly into the conflict? Both the US and Israel have powerful reasons for wanting to overthrow Assad. However, ISIS, sent to do the job, has been defeated by Russia and Syria. Unless Washington can somehow get directly involved, the war is over. 
The story Hersh was given also serves to damn Trump while absolving the intelligence services. Trump takes the hit for injecting the US directly into the conflict.
Hersh’s story reads well, but it easily could be a false story planted on him. I am not saying that the story is false, but unless we learn more, it could be.
What we do know is that the story given to Hersh by national security officials is inconsistent with the June 26 White House announcement that the US has “identified potential preparations for another chemical attack by the Assad regime.” The White House does not have the capability to conduct its own foreign intelligence gathering. The White House is informed by the national security and intelligence agencies. 
In the story given to Hersh, these officials are emphatic that not only were chemical weapons removed from Syria, but also that Assad would not use them or be permitted by the Russians to use them even if he had them. Moreover, Hersh reports that he was told that Russia fully informed the US of the Syrian attack on ISIS in advance. The weapon was a guided bomb that Russia had suppied to Syria. Therefore, it could not have been a chemical weapon.
As US national security officials made it clear to Hersh that they do not believe Syria did or would use any chemical weapons, what is the source for the White House’s announcement that preparations for another chemical attack by the Assad regime have been identified? 
Who lined up UN ambassador Nikki Haley and the UK Defence Minister Michael Fallon to be ready with statements in support of the White House announcement? Haley says: “Any further attacks done to the people of Syria will be blamed on Assad, but also on Russia & Iran who support him killing his own people.” Fallon says: “we will support” future US action in response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria. 
How clear does an orchestration have to be before people are capable of recognizing the orchestration? 
The intelligence agencies put out the story via Hersh that there were no chemical attacks, so what attacks is Niki Haley speaking about?
A reasonable conclusion is that Washington’s plan to use ISIS to overthrow Syria and then start on Iran was derailed by Russian and Syrian military success against ISIS. The US then tried to partition Syria by occupying part of it, but were out-manuevered by the Russians and Syrians. This left direct US involvement as the only alternative to defeat. This direct US military involvement began with the US attack on the Syrian military base and was followed by shooting down a Syrian war plane. The next stage will be a US-staged false flag chemical attack or alleged chemical attack, and this false flag, as has already been announced, will be the excuse for larger scale US military action against Syria, which, unless the Russians abandon Syria, means conflict with Russia, Iran, and perhaps China.
http://russia-insider.com/en/politics/us-military-put-alert-washington-waiting-excuse-attack-syria-russian-senator/ri20238 

          NATO, a monstrous institution    
NATO, a monstrous institution 

By Karel van Wolferen (June 3 2017)

Their anxiety about the future of NATO, recently on full display again when the American president was in Europe, could not be bettered as a measure of the incapacity of Europe’s top politicians to guide their continent and represent its populations. Through its provocations of Moscow, NATO systematically helps increase the risk of a military confrontation. By thus sabotaging its declared purpose of serving collective security for the countries on either side of the Atlantic, it erases its fundamental reason for being and right to exist.

Grasping these facts ought be enough to fuel moves aimed at quickly doing away with NATO. But it is terrible for more and easily overlooked reasons.

NATO’s survival prevents the political entity that is the European Union from becoming a significant global presence for reasons other than its economic weight. If you cannot have a defence policy of your own you also deprive yourself of a foreign policy. Without a substantive foreign policy, Europe does not show anything that anyone might consider ‘a face’ to the world. Without such a face to the outside, the inside cannot come to terms about what it stands for, and substitutes meaningless platitudes for answers to the question as to why it should exist in the first place.

NATO is an example of an institution that has gotten completely out of hand through European complacency, intellectual laziness, and business opportunism. As a security alliance it requires a threat. When the one that was believed to exist during the Cold War disappeared, a new one had to be found. Forged for defence against what was once believed to be an existential threat, it only began actually deploying its military might after that threat had disappeared, for its illegal war against Serbia. Once it had jumped that hurdle, it was encouraged to continue jumping toward imagined global threats. Its history since the demise of its original adversary has been deplorable, as its European member states were made party to war crimes resulting from actions at Washington’s behest for objectives that have made a dead letter of international law. It has turned some European governments into liars when they told their populations that sending troops to Afghanistan was for the purpose of assorted humanitarian purposes like reconstructing that country, rather than fighting a war against Taleban forces intent on reclaiming their country from American occupation. Afghanistan did not, as was predicted at the time, turn into the graveyard for NATO to come to rest, next to the British Empire, the Soviet Union and – farther back – Alexander the Great. Having survived Afghanistan, NATO continued to play a significant role in the destruction of Gaddafi's Libya, and in the destruction of parts of Syria through covertly organising, financing, and arming Isis forces for the purpose of overthrowing the Assad government. And it continues to serve as a cover for the war making elements in Britain and France. America’s coup in the Ukraine in 2014, which resulted in a crisis in relations with Russia, gave NATO a new lease on life as it helped create entirely uncalled for hysterical fear of Russia in Poland and the Baltic states. NATO repudiates things that we are said to hold dear. It is an agent of corruption of thought and action in both the United States and Europe. Through propaganda that distorts the reality of the situation in the areas where it operates, and perennial deceit about its true objectives, NATO has substituted a now widely shared false picture of geopolitical events and developments for one that, even if haphazard, used to be pieced together by independent reporters for mainstream media whose own tradition and editors encouraged discovery of facts. This propaganda relies to a large extent on incessant repetition for its success. It can generally not be traced to NATO as a source of origin because it is being outsourced to a well-funded network of public relations professionals.

The Atlantic Council is NATO's primary PR organization. It is connected with a web of think tanks and NGO’s spread throughout Europe, and very generous to journalists who must cope with a shrinking and insecure job environment. This entity is well-versed in Orwellian language tricks, and for obvious reasons must mischaracterise NATO itself as an alliance instead of a system of vassalage. Alliance presupposes shared purposes, and it cannot be Europe's purpose to be controlled by the United States, unless we now accept that a treasonous European financial elite must determine the last word on Europe's future.

An influential policy deliberation NGO known as the International Crisis Group (ICG), is one of the organizations linked with the Atlantic Council. It operates as a serious and studious outfit, carrying an impressive list of relatively well-known names of associates, which studies areas of the world harbouring conflicts or about-to-be conflicts that could undermine world peace and stability. Sometimes this group does offer information that is germane to a situation, but its purpose has in effect become one of making the mainstream media audience view the situation on the ground in Syria, or the ins and outs of North Korea, or the alleged dictatorship in Venezuela, and so on, through the eyeballs of the consensus creators in American foreign policy.

NATO repudiates political civilisation. It is disastrous for European intellectual life as it condemns European politicians and the thinking segment of the populations in its member states to be locked up in what may be described as political kindergarten, where reality is taught in terms of the manichean division between bad guys and superheroes. While Europe’s scholars, columnists, TV programmers and sophisticated business commentators rarely pay attention to NATO as an organization, and are generally oblivious to its propaganda function, what it produces condemns them to pay lip service to the silliest geopolitical fantasies.

NATO is not only terrible for Europe, it is very bad for the United States and the world in general, for it has handed to America's elites important tools aiding its delusional aim of fully dominating the planet. This is because NATO provides the most solid external support for sets of assumptions that allegedly lend a crucial moral dimension to America's warmaking. NATO does not exist for the sake of indispensable European military prowess, which mildly described has not been impressive. It exists as legal justification for Washington to keep nuclear weapons and military bases in Europe. It obviously also exists as support for America’s military- industrial complex. But its moral support ought to be considered its most significant contribution. Without NATO, the conceptual structure of a 'West' with shared principles and aims would collapse. NATO was once the organisation believed to ensure the continued viability of the Western part what used to be known as the 'free world'. Such connotations linger, and lend themselves to political exploitation. The 'free world' has since the demise of the Soviet Union not been much invoked. But 'the West' is still going strong, along with the notion of Western values and shared principles, with ‘the good’ in the form of benevolent motives automatically assumed to be on its side. This gives the powers that be in Washington a terrific claim in the realm of widely imagined moral aspects of geopolitical reality. They have inherited the mantle of the leader of the 'free world' and 'the West', and since there has not been a peep of dissension about this from the other side of the Atlantic, the claim appears true and legitimate in the eyes of the world and the parties concerned.

In the meantime the earlier American claim to speak and act on behalf of the free world was broadened and seemingly depoliticised by a substitute claim of speaking and acting on behalf of the ‘international community’. There is of course no such thing, but that doesn't bother editors who keep invoking it when some countries or the bad guys running them do things that are not to Washington's liking. Doing away with NATO would pull the rug from under the ‘international community’. Such a development would then reveal the United States, with its current political system and priorities in international affairs, as a criminal power and the major threat to peace in the world. I can hear an objection that without this resonation of moral claims the activities serving the ‘full spectrum dominance’ aim would have been carried out anyway. If you think so, and if you can stand reading again what the neocons were producing between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraqi in 2003, subtract all references to moral clarity and the necessity for the United States to serve as moral beacon for the world from that literature, and you will see that preciously little argument remains for American warmaking that ensued.

The spinelessness of the average European politician has added up to huge encouragement of the United States in its post-Cold War military adventurism. With forceful reminders from Europe about what those much vaunted supposedly shared political principles actually stood for, American rhetoric could not have been the same. Strong European condemnation of the shredding of the UN Charter, and the jettisoning of the principles adopted at the Nuremberg trials, would have made it much more difficult for George W Bush, Dick Cheney, and the neocons to go where blind fanaticism and hubris, with imagined economic advantage, took them. Perhaps more importantly, it might have given a relatively weak American protest movement the necessary added energy to rise to the level of effectiveness once attained by the

anti-Vietnam activists as they imprinted themselves on the political culture of the 60s and 70s. European dissent might not have halted but could have slowed the transformation of much of the mainstream media into neocon propaganda assets.

As it is, NATO exists today in a realm of discourse in which revered post-World War II liberal conditions and practices are still believed to exist. It is an apolitical and ahistorical realm determined by hubris and misplaced self-confidence, in which powers that have utterly altered these practices and negated its positive aspects are not acknowledged. It is a realm in which America's pathological condition of requiring an enemy as a source of everlasting profit is not acknowledged. It is a realm in which America's fatuous designs for complete control over the world is not acknowledged. It is a realm of foreign policy illusions.

NATO is supposed to guard putative Western values that in punditry observations have something to do with what the Enlightenment has bestowed on Western culture. But it deludes staunch NATO supporters, who cannot bring themselves to contemplate the possibility that what they have long trusted to be an agent of protection, has in fact become a major force that destroys those very qualities and principles.

There is a further more tangible political/legal reason why NATO is monstrous. It is steered by nonelected powers in Washington, but is not answerable to identifiable entities within the American military system. It is not answerable to any of the governing institutions of the European Union. Its centre in Brussels exists effectively outside the law. Its relations with ‘intelligence agencies’ and their secret operations remain opaque. Who is doing what and where are all questions to which no clear, legally actionable, information is made available.

NATO has thereby become a tool of intimidation lacking any compatibility with democratic political organisation. An autocrat aspiring to unfettered rule with which to operate anywhere in the world would find in NATO the ideal institutional arrangements. All this should be of our utmost concern. Because all this means that NATO is now one of the world’s most horrible organizations that at the same time has become so politically elusive, apparently, that there is no European agent with enough of a grip on it to make it disappear. 



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