Thursday ReadsPosted: September 25, 2014 | |
I suppose I have to cover the war news, although I’d much prefer to ignore it. So here goes.
First, the good news. According to The Washington Post, more than 60 countries have signed on with the “Anti-Islamic State Coalition.”
In his speech to the United Nations on Wednesday morning, President Obama said, “Already, over 40 nations have offered to join this coalition.”
But on Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry said more than 50 nations have agreed to join the coalition. And in a document released by the State Department on Tuesday, 62 nations (including the European Union and the Arab League) are listed as providing support to the U.S.-led coalition.
The strongest allies in the coalition are those providing air support to the United States, while others are offering delivery services and some are providing humanitarian aid.
Click on the link above to read the list of countries providing air support, military equipment, and humanitarian aid. You can follow the latest developments in the fight against ISIL at The Guardian’s live blog.
Now the not-so-good news: a couple of op-eds that suggest the air war against the Islamic State militants is ineffective and/or counterproductive.
President Barack Obama has pledged to destroy Islamic State and ensure fighters “find no safe haven.” But even as U.S.-led airstrikes are underway in Iraq and Syria, it is clear that bombs alone will not do the job. For Islamic State hides out in the most perfect haven: the World Wide Web.
In June 2014, the militant group that Obama refers to as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, grabbed the world’s attention after it took over much of northern Iraq in roughly four days. Islamic State accomplished this by building a massive, sophisticated virtual network of fighters in addition to those on the ground. Indeed, its expansion online has been as swift as its territorial gains. It is this virtual power grab that will be most difficult to combat.
The Internet has largely sustained the jihadist movement since 9/11. With this powerful tool, jihadists coordinate actions, share information, recruit new members and propagate their ideology.
Until the rise of Islamic State, extremist activity and exchanges online usually took place inside restricted, password-protected jihadist forums. But Islamic State brought online jihadism out of the shadows and into the mainstream, using social media — especially Twitter – to issue rapid updates on its successes to a theoretically unlimited audience.
In the same way that Islamic State’s land grab proved stunning, the group’s actions online have been deeply troubling. Up until a recent crackdown by Twitter, Islamic State’s presence on the site had grown tremendously — from a small one to a well-organized network with dozens of accounts.
Click the link to read all about it at Reuters’ “The Great Debate” page.
Jamie Dettmer at The Daily Beast argues that Obama’s Arab Backers May Draw the U.S. Deep Into the Mideast Quagmire. Detmer also discusses ISIL’s social media operation.
The backing from Gulf countries for the military intervention against militants of the so-called Islamic State in northern Syria, far from helping the United States in the battle for hearts and minds, may actually be hurting Washington in the region. And the reasons for that suggest just how densely complicated the Mideast quagmire has become.
While the participation of the super-rich Gulf monarchies in a coalition against the group widely known as ISIS or ISIL may help with some moderate Muslims, and may reassure European leaders, among those Islamists inside and outside Syria who are at the core of the opposition to President Bashar al Assad this development is viewed with deep suspicion.
“This has been labeled as a war against ISIS but it is a war against Islamic groups,” Tauqir Sharif, a British Islamist activist based in Idlib, Syria, told British Channel Four news Wednesday.
Already ISIS activists and jihadists sympathizers in the Gulf are leveraging their social media skills to fuel suspicions that the Americans are ready to give Assad a free pass and that the Sunni Muslims of Syria will be sacrificed with the connivance of the Gulf monarchies.
Much more at the Daily Beast link.
Suspect in Alleged Abduction of UVA Student Captured in Texas
I’ve been following the case of missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham since Janicen posted about it about a week ago. The last person to be seen with Graham on surveillance footage was Jesse Matthew, 32, who worked as a nurses’ aid at the university. After police searched his car and apartment, Matthew came to the police station and asked for an attorney. He then drove away at a high speed and apparently disappeared. Police issued a warrant for his arrest for a traffic violation, but could not locate him. After more searches of his apartment, police upgraded the charge to abduction of Graham.
Last night, news broke that Matthew had been located in Galveston, Texas, and he is currently being held by police there. From the Associated Press, via ABC News, Suspect Captured but UVa Student Still Missing.
Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr. was arrested on a beach in the Texas community of Gilchrist by Galveston County Sheriff’s authorities, Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo announced Wednesday night.
The capture came less than a full day after police announced they had probable cause to arrest Matthew on charges of abduction with intent to defile Hannah Graham, an 18-year-old sophomore who went missing on Sept. 13 in Charlottesville.
Longo said an intense search for Graham continues.
“This case is nowhere near over,” he told a news conference late Wednesday. “We have a person in custody but there’s a long road ahead of us and that long road includes finding Hannah Graham.”
Longo said Thursday on NBC’s “Today” show that the search is focusing on rural and wooded areas around Charlottesville.
Matthew was captured at a beach in the sparsely populated community of Gilchrist around 3:30 p.m. after police received a call reporting a suspicious person, the Galveston County Daily News reported. The newspaper quoted Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset as saying a deputy responding to the call found a man who had pitched a tent on the beach with his car parked nearby. Trochesset said a check of the car’s plates revealed it was the vehicle sought in connection to the case. Authorities were trying to get a warrant to search the car, he added.
ABC News has more on how police located Jesse Matthew, Suspect in UVA Case Seen on Video Buying Bug Spray Before Capture.
Detectives investigating the case of a missing University of Virginia student were headed to Texas today after a man suspected in her disappearance was arrested after being caught on surveillance video there buying mosquito repellent a day before his capture….
The surveillance video from a convenience store in Galveston showed Matthew buying Off!, said the store’s owner, Dave Paresh.
“He asked me the question if it’s safe to stay on the beach, so I told him yeah, it’s good there,” Paresh, told ABC News station KTRK in Houston.
I guess there must be lots of mosquitoes on Galveston beaches right now.
Matthew appeared in court this morning, and was denied bail.
For anyone who thinks I shouldn’t write about “missing white girl” stories, violence against women is endemic in this country. It’s a bloodbath out there, with women being beaten (see the NFL scandal), raped, and/or murdered daily in this country; and I think it should be talked about. There truly is a war against women. Admittedly, the use of violence against women for entertainment should be discussed. Think about how many movies and TV shows center around the rape, torture, and murder of women. It’s important that real-life cases be seen as horrible crimes that involve agonizing suffering for victims, their families and friends.
Police Misconduct in the News
Speaking of violence against women, even police get into the act. Thank goodness they are often caught on video these days.
From The Christian Science Monitor, NYPD under fire for video of pregnant woman hitting ground.
New York City police officers are under investigation this week after a bystander used a smartphone to capture a particularly rough arrest of a Brooklyn woman five months pregnant.
The video shows the arrest of Sandra Amezquita, a Colombian immigrant and mother of four, who fell belly first onto the pavement as officers wrestled her to the ground and cuffed her hands behind her back. The incident occurred during an early morning melee Saturday in Sunset Park – a neighborhood sometimes called Brooklyn’s “Little Latin America,” since more than half its residents are Latino.
The video also shows another officer violently shoving an unidentified woman to the pavement as she stands near the arrest. Police simply issued Ms. Amezquita a summons for disorderly conduct, but the other woman, reported to be a friend, was neither arrested or accused of a crime.
Amezquita suffered vaginal bleeding after the incident. She was arrested for trying to interfere with police who were beating her son after they stopped and frisked him.
“It’s appalling,” said Sanford Rubenstein, Amezquita’s attorney. “It’s clear to me when an incident like this occurs you understand why police-community relations are at an all-time low,” he told The Associated Press.
The scuffle occurred after Amezquita and her husband, Ronel Lemos, attempted to intervene as police arrested and allegedly began to beat their 17-year-old son, Jhohan Lemos, who was accused of carrying a knife and resisting arrest around 2:15 a.m. on Saturday.
The elder Mr. Lemos was also arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer during the arrest of his son. Photos show the younger Mr. Lemos with his eye swollen shut and lacerations to his cheek and forehead following his arrest.
In California, a 51-year-old woman won a lawsuit against the Highway Patrol after an officer beat her and it was caught on tape. Fox News reports:
A woman who was punched repeatedly by a California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer in an incident caught on film earlier this year will receive $1.5M as part of a settlement reached Wednesday.
CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow announced the settlement in an emailed statement and an attorney for 51-year-old Marlene Pinnock confirmed the deal to the Associated Press. The agreement was reached after nine hours of mediation in Los Angeles.
As part of the agreement, the officer who struck Pinnock, Daniel Andrew, will resign. Andrew, who joined the CHP in 2012 and had been on paid administrative leave, could still be charged criminally in the case. The CHP forwarded the results of its investigation of the incident to Los Angeles County prosecutors last month, saying he could face serious charges but none have been filed yet.
There was another demonstration in Ferguson, Missouri on Tuesday Night after someone burned a memorial to Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on August 9. The Christian Science Monitor asks, Who burned Michael Brown memorial? Questions spark new Ferguson unrest.
Fresh unrest in Ferguson, Mo., Tuesday night shows that the embers of the month-old unrest surrounding Michael Brown’s death can be kindled by even tiny sparks.
Detectives are investigating how a makeshift memorial to Mr. Brown, an unarmed black teenager killed by white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9., burned early Tuesday morning. The memorial, which is one of two near where Brown died on Canfield Drive, included mementos and small candles that may have caused the fire.
But some in the area suggested that it’s “naïve” to think the fire was accidental, and about 200 protesters rallied to West Florissant Avenue again Tuesday, squaring off with police and looting for the third time a store called Beauty Town. There were media reports of looters yelling “Burn it down!” and of gun shots in the area near Canfield Drive. Police made five arrests.
Finally, there will apparently be no charges in the shooting of John Crawford III, who was shot by police while holding a toy gun in a Walmart. From Fox News, Grand jury issues no indictments in man’s fatal shooting at Ohio Wal-Mart.
XENIA, Ohio – Officers’ actions were justified in the fatal shooting of a man holding an air rifle inside an Ohio Wal-Mart store, a grand jury determined Wednesday — using surveillance video the slain man’s family said shows the shooting was completely unjustified.
The Greene County grand jury opted not to issue any indictments in the Aug. 5 death of 22-year-old John Crawford III inside a Wal-Mart in Beavercreek, Special Prosecutor Mark Piepmeier said.
A 911 caller reported Crawford was waving what appeared to be a rifle in the store. Police said he was killed after failing to obey commands to put down what turned out to be an air rifle taken from a shelf.
Since the shooting, Crawford’s family had demanded public release of the surveillance footage, a request denied until Wednesday by the state attorney general, who said releasing it earlier could taint the investigation and potential jury pool.
Video presented at a news conference by Piepmeier in Xenia shows Crawford walking the aisles, apparently on his cellphone, and picking up an air rifle that had been left, unboxed, on a shelf.
Crawford carries the air rifle around the store — sometimes over his shoulder, sometimes pointed at the ground — before police arrive and shoot him twice.
Would a customer have called 911 if Crawford hadn’t been a black man?
In Other News . . .
I’m running out of space, so I’ll end with some links to other stories that may pique your interest.
Cleveland Plain Dealer, FBI report shows mass shootings on the rise since 2000. We already knew this, but now there’s hard evidence.
Beta News.com, Five things to hate about the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. It bends!
And the new Apple IOS is messed up. From ComputerWorld, Apple yanks iOS 8 update after crippling iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
Massachusetts GOP candidate for Governor is not endearing himself to women voters. Two op-ed pieces from The Boston Globe:
Charlie Baker needs an intervention on women, by Joan Vennochi
Charlie Baker’s ‘sweetheart’ problem, by Yvonne Abraham
Women, let’s all get out and vote for Martha Coakley. It’s high time Massachusetts had a woman as Governor!
So . . . what else is happening in the world? I’ll see you in the comments! Have a great day!