It is an afternoon on Sunday. I have not checked online since early Friday Morning, (Wait, do I have the times right?) Oh well, whatever the hell the time frame is…I can always tell the passing of the hours by my Newsblur reader.
<———– See, all the big numbers of articles I have to go through. And yes, I do name all my folders “Minx Crap” because that is my way. I have a sense of humor that some would get offended by, but who gives a fuck right? It is my personal way to deal with things. (For fucks sake…)
Quick example, one of my friends got a kick out of the name of the town I was in this weekend, for my daughter’s State Honor Choir…Cumming, GA. “Was I joking?” he asked…nope, would you believe I was not…joking.
He then said to me, that a friend just told him of an Intercourse, PA. Which I replied, yup…there is a Bird-in-Hand and a Tickle-me-Balls, Pennsylvania too! (The first one is a real town, the second one is something I made up.) I wonder if he believes both are somewhere on a road map of PA? Gawd, I hope I don’t offend those folks who live in the State of Pennsylvania. Eeesh….
Anyway, you see the numbers by the folders…those are the unread articles within the feeds I subscribe to.
It says a lot without even looking at the stuff behind the folders. Ah, shit went down alright, but not shit that the right wing was too excited about. Per the 3 Minx Crap RWN (aka Right Wing Nuts) folder after all that time, the 25+ sites I follow were relatively quiet.
My main crap blogs were busy, but not scandalously busy. These are the left wing blogs…
And a shitload of Main Stream Media news…(BTW, no Fox News Feed in any of my folders, the only right leaning news feeds I have in my main stream folder are NYTs, CNN, and WaPo…uh…The Hill. A few border main stream, right leaning…Politico, FiveThirtyEight, Memeorandum etc.)
The point I am making here is that I have no clue what the fuck happened this weekend. Looks like something big, which the right did not want to get involved in, and the left was fine touching with a 25 foot pole.
As far as my Medieval/Science/History folder and my “Other” folder, which is mostly Classic Movies, technical movie stuff and fine art, photography, music, ballet etc. Seems to me that it was a busy weekend for the Humanities.
So due to this extreme situation, and my extreme laziness…tiredness. This will be an open thread. Otherwise it will be another 48 hours to get a proper post up here.
The few polls that have trickled out since the last Republican debate have shown somesoftening of support for the good doctor, but as long as Ben Carson is doing well in Iowa, there’s no real reason to panic. Within the past month, Carson has opened up leads over Donald Trump as wide as 14 points in the state, while dancing around the national lead. The surest sign that Carson’s fade might show some durability came Sunday morning with therelease of a CBS News poll that shows Carson not only falling well behind Trump in Iowa, but also now trailing Senator Ted Cruz:
Donald Trump has returned to the lead in Iowa while Ted Cruz has now surged past Ben Carson into second place. Carson has slipped from a first-place tie into third.
While Iowa’s Republicans generally feel Trump is ready to be commander-in-chief, Cruz scores even better on this measure, boosted by support from very conservative and Tea Party Iowans who feel he is ready to assume the post. That’s more than say so about Trump, Carson, Rubio and Jeb Bush.
Trump gets 30% in the new poll (up from 27% in October), Cruz gets 21% (up from just 12% last month), while Carson’s support has slipped to 19% after tying Trump at 27% in the lastCBS/Yougov poll.
Look at the expressions on the faces of the host….as Trump telling them, “Maybe he should have been roughed up,” Trump said during a Sunday morning call-inappearance on “Fox & Friends.” “It was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.”
A CNN reporter captured video of the Saturday incident in which a protester was reportedlypunched and kicked after he was tackled to the ground by attendees or security at Trump’s rally. At least one onlooker yelled, “Don’t choke him! Don’t choke him!” according to The Washington Post.
Trump is heard in the video yelling, “Get him the hell out of here!”
All that above…wow…just wow….this has truly been a hellish weekend. And to see the shit these candidates are saying, makes me so ill. To know I had to stand up, against the GOP candidates positions, and lost a troubled friendship for good over it, it still is bothersome. But I feel a relief.
I can’t take the crazy talk from those bigoted/right-wing politicians, blowhards, talk show/radio host and “religious” leaders…and it hurt to see someone I know who used to be so caring and considerate of all persons, totally become changed over the years, to the point where they out right tell me, no amount of cited sources/articles/commentary/direct quotes from right or left leaning news/media/etc could change their mind or make any difference to them.
Onward, because I am done with all that other stuff.
Of the Intolerant Bigoted Hypocritical Christian Conservatives.
The ones who play the victim when someone confronts them about their “beliefs” or as I did recently, what and who they support in the political arena.
I don’t know, maybe I took it too far, but as you saw yesterday…even Boston Boomer was using the “F” word in her post 😉 .
This entire scene regarding the Syrian immigration has us all very upset. I went from discussing the refugee situation in an intelligent manner with my old friend of 35 years, Jose, who is the brother-in-law of Aasif Mandvi….to being patronized and having my words twisted to play into the conservative Christian victimization routine by another old friend of 22 years, who now lives among the cornfields of Iowa.
It is all so depressing.
In response, all I can muster today is a heavy cartoon post.
The Eiffel Tower was darkened last night in honor of those killed during Friday’s attacks on Paris.
As you can see, many countries and cities throughout the world took up the cause and brought Paris, city of lights…into their own, by setting their landmarks, arenas, buildings, etc., alight in three colors of “liberté fraternité et égalité.” Showing support of a city that has been hit by extremist, bloodthirsty, murdering terrorist.
Authorities were scouring Europe on Sunday for at least one other suspect, and possibly two, who were “directly involved” in Friday night’s attacks in Paris, as investigators tried to ascertain whether they were among a number of people arrested over the last 48 hours in Belgium, according to two French officials familiar with the case.
But police continued searching for at least one other participant in the attacks. French officials and the Islamic State both initially claimed that eight men carried out the attacks. Police said seven attackers died, six of them by detonating suicide vests and one in police gunfire.
There is more at the links of all of these articles…
Balkan authorities are tracking the travels of the owner of a Syrian passport that was found next to a suicide bomber’s body at France’s national stadium on Friday night.
Officials in Greece say the passport’s owner entered the country Oct. 3 through Leros, one of the eastern Aegean islands that tens of thousands of people fleeing war and poverty have been using as a gateway into the 28-nation European Union.
Serbian police say he registered at its border entry with Macedonia on Oct. 7.
Croatian police say he was checked at a refugee center on Oct. 8. Police spokeswoman Helena Biocic said Sunday the man was not flagged as suspicious and continued his journey toward Hungary and Austria.
It is still not yet clear whether the Syrian passport is fake or real, or whether it belonged to the dead bomber. European officials say there is a brisk trade in fake Syrian passports to help people get refugee status in the EU.
I think I will refrain from comment on the passport thing until all the facts are in. Because the news on this is very fluid:
Two men who French police are seeking to identify in connection with the Paris attacks registered as migrants with Greek authorities earlier this year, the Greek police confirmed on Saturday.
French authorities had asked their Greek counterparts to check a passport and fingerprints of one man who died in the attacks and the fingerprints of another.
Both were thought to have registered in Greece, the main entry point into Europe for Syrian refugees.
At least one Syrian passport was found at the scene of the Stade de France attack.
The Greek minister for citizen protection, Nikos Toskas, said in a statement that one of the men had been registered on the Greek island of Leros in October.
“We confirm that the (Syrian) passport holder came through the Greek island of Leros on October 3 where he was registered under EU rules,” said a statement issued by Toskas.
French police said the passport was found “near the body of one of the attackers” during the investigation into the main attack of Friday’s carnage, at the Bataclan concert hall, where 82 people were killed.
The authenticity of the passport was being checked, but its discovery indicates a possible Syrian connection which has been a working hypothesis for investigators after assailants hit six separate locations in Paris late Friday.
A Greek police source said the second man had also registered in Greece, with TV station Mega adding this was also on Leros in August.
European security officials had long feared that jihadists could take advantage of the mass migration influx, mainly from war-torn Syria, that Europe has been experiencing since the beginning of the year.
“It is clear now that together with the victims of Islamo-fascism in the Middle East that come as refugees, extreme elements are crossing to Europe,” Defence Minister Panos Kammenos after an emergency meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
Greek police are not ruling out that the Syrian passport changed hands before the attacks.
However, a European security expert on Saturday argued: “The most logical assumption is that it’s the same person, sent on a mission to Europe.”
– ‘Unequalled challenge’ –
“If this is established, it would be the first such case. In any event, this proves that the unchecked flow poses an unequalled challenge for European security. We simply don’t know who is coming through,” the expert added.
Greece’s junior minister for migration Yiannis Mouzalas had admitted in September that it would be “foolish” to completely discount the possibility of jihadists sneaking into Europe among the refugee wave.
Over 800,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe this year, with over 3,400 dying in the process.
But Mouzalas noted that the number of Europeans joining extremist groups in the Middle East was far higher.
The important part to remember here is this…the people, refugees, are fleeing this kind of treatment in their own country.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Saturday insisted that the refugees fleeing Syria “are hunted by the same terrorists” that struck in Paris on Friday.
“We must find solutions to the drama of the people who leave their homes, hunted by the same terrorists, and drown in the Mediterranean,” Tsipras said in a televised address, after conferring with his police, migration and intelligence chiefs.
The holder of a Syrian passport found near the body of one of the gunmen who died in Friday night’s attacks in Paris was registered as a refugee in several European countries last month, authorities said.
The man, identified by Serbian authorities only by his initials A.A., came into Europe through the Greek island of Leros, where he was processed on Oct. 3, Greek officials said on Saturday. He was among 70 refugees who arrived on a small vessel from Turkey.
Serbian authorities said on Sunday the same man had been registered at a border crossing from Macedonia into Serbia a few days later.
The information is significant because if one or more of the Paris gunmen turned out to have come into Europe among refugees and migrants fleeing war-torn countries, this could change the political debate about accepting refugees.
“One of the suspected terrorists, A.A., who is of interest to the French security agencies, was registered on the Presevo border crossing on October 7 this year, where he formally sought asylum,” the Serbian interior ministry said in a statement.
“Checks have confirmed that his details match those of the person who on October 3 was identified in Greece. There was no Interpol warrant issued against this person.”
A spokeswoman for the Croatian interior ministry said the man was registered in the country’s Opatovac refugee camp on Oct. 8 and from there he crossed into Hungary and then Austria.
“There was no (police) record about him at the time of registration and there was no reason for us to stop him in any way,” she said.
Austrian Interior Ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck said however the assertion that the suspect attacker had passed through Austria had “no concrete basis.”
“According to the latest information available, that is no more than conjecture and speculation,” he said.
Any identity documents and fingerprint records would have to be matched with the remains of the attackers to establish whether they passed through various countries posing as refugees, or perhaps bought or stole passports along the way.
Greek government sources said a second suspect attacker was also likely to have passed through Greece.
Following the Paris bloodshed, populist leaders around Europe have rushed to demand a halt to an influx of refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa. Poland said it could not accept migrants under EU quotas without security guarantees.
Human Rights Watch’s Emergency Director Peter Bouckaert said on Twitter the Syrian passport found may have been fake, adding such fake documents are widely available for sale in Turkey.
“The answer to the Paris attacks and the possibility that one of the attackers came by rubber dinghy to Greece… is not to shut the door on those desperately fleeing war,” he said, calling for Europe to put in place a coherent asylum policy that would both help those on need and address security concerns raised by uncontrolled flows.
“People fleeing war need refuge. And trying to build fences and stopping them at sea only drives them deeper into the hands of criminal gangs, and drives them underground where there is no control over who comes and goes.”
Paris bleeds because it is part of a river of blood: The Russian plane dying in the skies over Egypt, the Hazaras of Afghanistanbeing relieved of their heads, the suicide bombings in a Shiite neighborhood of Beirut, Libanon.Or so the propagandists of Daesh or ISIS or ISIL tell us. Some of those rivers of blood may be from old rivulets, sourced from old racial hatreds (the Hazara massacre), old religious schisms (the Shias vs. the Sunnis, the Muslims vs. the Christians). But the Daesh river of blood is real and has not yet been dammed.
And its sources are many. I read my Twitter feed and was told that everything the deranged god-soldiers of ISIS did was caused by American oil politics and Western colonialism, as if those neo-Salafist clerics who designed ISIS had no agency, no way of choosing another form of rebellion but an extreme life-denying religious one, as if the religion they had created for themselves* from what the Saudi Wahhabism supports and funds in this world** has played no role. Instead, millions and millions of westerners are equally to blame, for genetic or historical reasons or at least for not voting various politicians out of power.
I read my Twitter feed and was told that everything the deranged god-soldiers of ISIS did was caused by their religion, that every single of hundreds of millions of Muslims is just waiting to behead the first infidel they come across. Once again, as if those neo-Salafist clerics who designed ISIS had no agency, as if millions and millions of Muslims are equally to blame, just because ISIS calls its religion theirs.
And I read my Twitter feed and was told that everything the deranged god-soldiers of ISIS did was caused by western discrimination and racism or by old religious discrimination in various Middle Eastern countries, as if those neo-Salafist clerics who designed ISIS had no agency at all.
Puppets. ISIS consists of nothing but puppets. Who holds the strings depends on the tweeter’s own prior beliefs, on whom he or she would wish to blame. There are even some who believe that US has created ISIS on purpose and funds it!
And what was tweeted on Friday night and later, truly reflected the hobby-horses of various tweeters. Frank Bruni writes and I concur:
Can’t we wait until we’ve resolved the body count? Until the identities of all of the victims have been determined and their families informed? Until the sirens stop wailing? Until the blood is dry?
Or must we instantly bootstrap obliquely related agendas and utterly unconnected grievances to the carnage in Paris, responding to it with an unsavory opportunism instead of a respectful grief?
Is this the famous death of empathy possibly caused by staring at an inanimate screen while talking to real people? Is it the masks we wear in cyberspace which allow us to act as if we have mislaid our hearts altogether, as if all that matters is the well-being of whichever group or theory we hold most dearly? And in counterpoint, is empty sentimentalism or patriotism the answer we assume if then accused of heartlessness?
It’s as if many in social media forgot about the ones who lost the most in those terrorist attacks, whose lives were prematurely discarded, whose pain served a political function, whose personalities were erased, whose families were left with bleeding wounds, perhaps never to close. In that they appear in agreement with the Daesh who also regarded the victims as less than nothing: a bit of filth to be sucked up by the divine vacuum cleaner.
The old customs about the immediate aftermath of death serve a function: Spend some time thinking about the deceased, give support to the family who is bereaved, sit in silence for a while, offer a cooked dish and offer help.
We don’t really have a cyberspace version of that respect for the individual. But surely all the different commentators with their pet issues could wait a day or two before forgetting all about the actual human lives which were ended or permanently mutilated by the terrorists?
Ugh…I just knew that this year was going to be even shittier than last year. Wouldn’t you know that here we are not even into the 3rd week of the new year and so many horrible things are taking place all over the globe.
So, since so much of the shit is going on in Europe at the moment, particularly in France, I am going to focus on the crap going on in Germany. Because let me tell ya…this is some heavy fucking stuff, and it looks like it is going to get nasty. On a disturbingly historic kind of scale.
I’ll just give you plenty of links because so much has been written overnight. I noticed this story over a week ago when I saw mention of this PEGIDA rally in Dresden. From Jan 6th:
At least 18,000 people in the eastern German city of Dresden have taken part in rallies opposing Islamic influence in Western nations, prompting massive counter-protests in several cities.
The record number of people that took to streets in support of the right-wing populist movement known as the “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisisation of the Occident” (PEGIDA) on Monday came despite a call by Chancellor Angela Merkel to snub such demonstrations deemed racist by many.
Organisers of the opposing demonstrations in Berlin, Stuttgart, Cologne and Dresden said they were rallying against discrimination and xenophobia to instead promote a message of tolerance.
Businesses, churches, Cologne city’s power company and others were planning to keep their buildings and other facilities dark in solidarity with the demonstrations against the ongoing protests by PEGIDA.
Over the last three months, the crowds at PEGIDA’s demonstrations in the eastern city of Dresden, a region that has few immigrants or Muslims, have swelled from a few hundred to 17,500 just before Christmas.
Police said a similar number were expected again later on Monday night.
The Dresden demonstrations have spawned smaller PEGIDA rallies elsewhere, including gatherings planned in Berlin and Cologne on Monday night where several hundred were expected to be on hand.
By contrast, about 10,000 counter-demonstrators were expected in Berlin, 2,000 in Cologne and another 5,000 in Stuttgart where there was no PEGIDA protest planned.
The recent carnage in Paris could hardly be better fodder for Germany’s newest populist phenomenon. The movement is known as Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, or Pegida, and this week it drew more backers than ever—an estimated 25,000—onto the streets of Dresden. The Islamophobic group pounced on the opportunity to depict Islam as an inherently violent faith that threatens Germany and is transforming the West. And, against the backdrop of heightened security concerns and the largest refugee influx since the early 1990s, it is well placed to exploit the fears that many Germans appear to harbor.
Before the Paris bloodshed, Pegida and its variants across the country, which oppose the “Islamization of Christian Europe” and Germany’s “foreign infiltration,” were faltering after a meteoric start that began this autumn. The group’s street protests—the biggest anti-Islam rallies in Europe—were tailing off, and counter demonstrations across the country had begun to dwarf Pegida events. Only in the eastern city of Dresden, the movement’s crucible, did the cause appear to have a tenacious core of more than a thousand. Meanwhile, internal divisions in the diffuse and nebulous organization—as well as cracks in Germany’s far-right party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD)—suggested that the group could crash and burn, joining other splintered and largely irrelevant nationalists in the no-man’s-land of Germany’s extra-parliamentary far right.
Indeed, the movement was so thoroughly riddled with logical discrepancies that most observers figured that it couldn’t last much longer. The grab bag of protesters claim that Germany is being overrun with Muslims and other foreign nationals who are at the root of the country’s social ills, high tax rates, crime, and security concerns. They say that there are so many Muslims and other nationalities in Germany that ordinary Germans don’t feel at home in their own country. If the trend continues, they argue, Muslims will outnumber Germans by 2035. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has spoken plainly in favor of welcoming refugees and against (unnamed) groups that preach hatred and prejudice has “betrayed them,” claims Lutz Bachmann, one of the group’s founders, who sees Berlin’s political parties and media as being in cahoots.
More at that link, including statistics and such… but I think these other two articles give some other insight as well.
Last week, when I attended my first rally in Dresden organized by PEGIDA, Germany’s mysterious “anti-Islamization” movement, I was reminded of the aggressive pro-Russian protests that tore apart eastern Ukraine a year ago. Thousands of demonstrators, who mostly refused to talk to the “lying press,” listened to fiery speeches railing against the country’s political class. Among the German flags present, I also spotted a few Russian ones, including a banner that was split diagonally, one half Russia’s tricolor, the other half Germany’s. A reporter and cameraman from the Gazprom-owned NTV channel were greeted with welcoming calls of “Vladimir! Vladimir!”
Based on a few shreds of evidence, it would have been easy enough to weave together a conspiracy theory that the Kremlin is behind the demonstrations that were initiated by a secretive organizing committee in October and swelled to a record 25,000 participants on Monday. After all, President Vladimir Putin served as a KGB agent in what was then an East German city in the 1980s (suspicious!) and one of PEGIDA’s key demands is an end to Germany’s “war-mongering” against Russia (bingo!). But accepting this kind of explanation would buy into the Kremlin’s own paranoia that mass protests can be bought with money — and isn’t supported by the facts.
Next, I briefly entertained the possibility that PEGIDA’s success was accidental, a joke by a group of friends in reaction to the turmoil in the world. For one, the name PEGIDA, which stands for Patriotische Europäer Gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes, or “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident,” sounds like a parody of itself. Also, its main organizers — a former petty criminal, a provincial business consultant, and the head of a janitorial firm — hardly seem serious enough to dignify a condemnation from Chancellor Angela Merkel, who did exactly that in her New Year’s address.
Now, having interviewed PEGIDA leaders and supporters, I understand that the movement is not as sinister as a Russian plot but not quite as innocent as a prank gone viral. The organizers have been called “Pied Pipers,” and German journalists have chased down leads connecting individual PEGIDA activists with far-right groups. The problem, however, is that PEGIDA’s leaders don’t fit the caricature of neo-Nazi Neanderthals. What’s most striking about the movement is not the radicalism, but the ordinariness, of the people it attracts.
The Jan. 12 PEGIDA rally in Dresden was the biggest to date, coming less than a week after the Paris terrorist attack and a string of headlines about Islamist violence in the Middle East and Africa. At the same time, anti-PEGIDA demonstrations in other German cities brought out as many as 100,000 people, 20,000 in Munich alone. Two rival visions of modern Germany clashed: the liberal vision, embraced by the country’s elite, of a globalized, open society, and a conservative one, more assertive about national interests and German identity in a chaotic and dangerous world.
Due to increasing pressure from right-wing fundamentalists, the owner of a hotel in eastern Germany has closed his doors to refugees. Hotel Prinz Eugen had been set to receive nearly 100 asylum seekers.
Due to increasing “massive pressure from residents,” the owner of a hotel in the eastern German city of Dresden closed its doors to asylum seekers, German media reported on Wednesday.
Hotel Prinz Eugen was supposed to accept up to 94 asylum seekers to help the city accommodate its 2,093 refugees. The owner of the hotel, however, changed his mind, citing threats from right-wing extremists he received on social media platforms and anti-refugee graffiti sprayed on the outside of his hotel.
His about-face is expected to pose a problem for the city, which is expected to receive nearly 2,000 more refugees this year. Martin Seidel, the city’s mayor for social affairs, told the German magazine Spiegel Online: “This retreat will create a difficult situation for us. There are no short-term solutions that could be implemented.”
According to Spiegel, there was a petition to stop the allocation of space in the hotel for refugees and it had 5,700 signatories. It listed six “formal concerns” along with four “political and geopolitical concerns” and seven “contextual concerns.” One of these concerns was that the location of the hotel in Leuben/Laubegast was a “political risk area,” with the city’s second largest number of far-right NPD voters. The petition said it was thus “predestined for conflict.”
When up to a dozen world leaders and roughly 1.5 million people gathered in Paris on Sunday to mourn the murder of 10 editors and cartoonists of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and seven other people by three French-born Islamic radicals, they wanted to demonstrate that Europe will always embrace liberal and tolerant values.
But the more telling event may turn out to be a counter-rally that took place at a 17th-century town hall in Beaucaire, France, that was led by Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front. In Beaucaire, the crowd ended Le Pen’s rally by singing the French national anthem and chanting, “This is our home.”
Le Pen is at the forefront of a European-wide nationalist resurgence — one that wants to evict from their homelands people they view as Muslim subversives. She and other far-right nationalists are seizing on some legitimate worries about Islamic militancy — 10,000 soldiers are now deployed in France as a safety measure — in order to label all Muslims as hostile to traditional European cultural and religious values. Le Pen herself has likened their presence to the Nazi occupation of France.
Now here is where these people really start to sound like our own Republican party, especially the Tea Party nuts.
Le Pen herself espouses an authoritarian program that calls for a moratorium on immigration, a restoration of the death penalty and a “French first” policy on welfare benefits and employment.
Long after World War Two, fascism is a specter that still haunts the continent. But whether Le Pen’s stances — and those of other nationalist leaders in Europe — qualify as fascist is questionable. The borderline between the kind of populism they espouse and the outright fascism of the 1920s and 1930s, when Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini espoused doctrines of racial superiority, is a slippery one. Scholars continue to debate whether Mussolini was even fascist — or simply an opportunistic nationalist.
The real aim of today’s would-be authoritarians — politicians who appeal to the public’s desire for an iron hand — is to present themselves as legitimate leaders who are saying what the public really thinks but is afraid to say. And these far-right leaders are indeed increasingly popular.
The card they are playing is populism presented as an aggrieved nationalism. They depict Europeans as victims of rapacious Muslim immigrants. Le Pen, Britain’s Nigel Farage of the U.K. Independence Party and others aim to come across as reasonable and socially acceptable, while sounding dog whistles to their followers about immigrant social parasites who are either stealing jobs from “real” Europeans or living off welfare.
I have more links to share but I want to show you a picture from Sunday:
Say what you will about the staged pictures, I think that expression on Merkel’s face is real…and genuine.
I feel that there is an intolerance building throughout the world, it is getting more bold and in your face too. It is not just against Muslims. But it is against all immigrants, refugees. Mentally ill and homeless, Hindu and Jews, Palestinians or Gays…Roma or Mexicans, Blacks with their hands up or down…Women of any race as well. Agnostic, Atheist, Wicca, secular, you name it. It frightens me.
Thousands of German Muslims held a vigil Tuesday night to show solidarity for the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks last week and to speak against the country’s growing anti-Islam movement.
“Violence like that in Paris can’t be brought to Germany,” said Busra Kelicarslan, 19, at the rally at Berlin’s iconic Brandenburg Gate.
“The prophet says that Muslims are supposed to stand with each other, for each other, especially on days like today — when we have to show our true face,” she said. “We don’t want to be misrepresented in the media, but more importantly also in people’s minds. Hate and fear need to stop.”
DRESDEN, Germany — With no signs or religious symbols on its façade, the four-story building on the outskirts of Dresden appears to be just another residential apartment. But it’s not. A short walk through a narrow alley leads to the building’s backyard, where a door is revealed and a sign reads, in German and Arabic, “Islamic Center Dresden.”
“We know that for some people this sign is provocative, and we don’t want to provoke them. This is why we put it in the back,” said Ahmed Aslaoui, the deputy chairman of Islamic Center Dresden, a nonprofit organization whose facility serves as a mosque and meeting place for the city’s Muslim community.
“If the sign would be out front, I think some bad feelings might come up. We don’t want the situation to get worse,” he said.
The situation to which he referred is the growing popularity of a Dresden-based grass-roots movement, Patriotische Europäer Gegen eine Islamisierung des Abendlandes (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamicization of the West), or PEGIDA.
In the past few weeks, PEGIDA’s Monday evening demonstrations have drawn thousands of Germans, some of whom arrived in Dresden from across the country to protest against the dangers of Islamic ideology and for “the right to preserve and protect our Christian-Jewish dominated West culture,” among other goals, according to the group. While its mission statement opposes preaching hate and radicalism, no matter the religion, the name the movement chose and the slogans that have appeared in its protests target one religion only.
Now this article uses a term I had never heard of before…Boston Boomer, your assistance is required: cultural schizophrenia?
one of the stubborn enduring myths surrounding jihadist terrorism has been the preeminence of religion over other motivations, and it is easy to understand why this might be the case. Many of these individuals themselves employ starkly religious language, and invoke religious texts that promise “other-worldly” rewards as compensation for “this-worldly” sacrifice, including the guarantee of eternal Paradise, and most famously, the lascivious offering of seventy-two heavenly virgins.
But, crucially, in many of these instances, we have to be aware of the post-hoc attribution of religious meaning and validation to their acts. To put it differently, religion does not provide the initial motive, but it does provide the motif or stamp of approval. Take the example of a young man who wants to go to Syria to fight for any reason that is not explicitly religious. It is not enough to just fight and even die like a jihadi, but to be accepted by that community (and indeed not to end up beheaded as a member of a rival group), you need to walk, talk and behave like one of them, too. The highly stylized “martyrdom testaments” suicide bombers record prior to their deaths are a very good example of this sort of conformity—it is no accident they all look and sound pretty much the same.
One recent telling example of this sort of religiosity tacked on at the end is the case of Mohammed Ahmed and Yusuf Sarwar, two young British men from Birmingham who were jailed for travelling to Syria to join and fight alongside a jihadist group in 2013, in response to what they saw as their religious duty. But it was the reading material they purchased to accompany them on their trip, the books, Islam for Dummies and The Koran for Dummies, which are most revealing about their lack of religious literacy and motivation.
And this characterization appears to hold equally true for the violent men who attacked the Charlie Hebdo offices. The Kouachi brothers, as orphaned children of Algerian immigrants, were raised in foster care, and certainly not as pious Muslims. Rather, as the French newspaper Libération reported back in 2005, Cherif led a decidedly nondevout and hedonistic lifestyle—smoking marijuana, drinking alcohol, listening to gangster rap and having numerous girlfriends. Indeed, during his trial in 2008 for helping to transport jihadist fighters from France to Iraq, Cherif’s lawyer described his client as an “occasional Muslim.”
Now, this is not to exonerate religion in any sense. Religion has historically been responsible for a great deal of violence, and religious texts and doctrines often appear to condone death and destruction. However, unlike believers, academics tend to understand religion as a product of social, economic, political and other factors that offer solutions to something.
So what does religion offer a solution to, in the case of Europe’s jihadists?
Cherif Kouachi’s lawyer described his client in 2005 as “a confused chameleon.” This is an apt description of the identity crisis commonly experienced by many jihadists, and can be explained through a process I call dual cultural alterity—essentially a double alienation from both minority (ethnic or parental) culture, and majority (mainstream or host society) culture, as a result of being unable or unwilling to fulfill either group’s normative expectations. This can lead to the cultural schizophrenia that Cherif’s lawyer describes, and is likely to inspire feelings of uprootedness and a lack of belonging.
That article is written by Akil N. Awan | (The National Interest).
I suggest you go and read the entire thing so you fully understand what is being said. I don’t know…maybe someone can explain it to me?
Whatever, you explain this shit to me, why they are using children:
Rachel Maddow reports on the use of children by Muslim extremist groups ISIS and Boko Haram and the upset they’re causing the Muslim community with their aggressive recruitment of young people to join their campaign of terror.
The former mayor of the southwestern city of Iguala has been charged with last year’s kidnapping of 43 students who are feared to have been killed, a top security official said on Tuesday.
Tomas Zeron, director of criminal investigations at the federal Attorney General’s office, said that prosecutors had obtained an arrest warrant for former mayor Jose Luis Abarca and 44 others on charges of kidnapping the 43 students.
President Enrique Pena Nieto is facing his deepest crisis over the government’s handling of the investigation. Anger over the case spurred sometimes violent demonstrations around the country late last year.
Zeron did not specify when the warrant was obtained, but it appeared to be the first charges filed against Abarca that are directly related to the students’ disappearance even though authorities have said the mayor and his wife were the masterminds of the kidnappings since October.
The Moroccan-born mayor of the Dutch port city of Rotterdam said in a television appearance on Tuesday that Muslims like himself who choose to live in the West should adopt a more tolerant worldview or “pack your bags and fuck off.”
Aboutaleb moved with his family to the Netherlands when he was a teen. During the television program Nieuwsuur (News Hour), he spoke to Islamists living in the West, saying, “It is incomprehensible that you can turn against freedom.”
“But if you don’t like freedom,” he continued, “for heaven’s sake pack your bags and leave.”
“If you do not like it here because some humorists you don’t like are making a newspaper, may I then say you can f*ck off,” Aboutaleb said.
What to see the video…
Don’t know why but you gotta love a mayor who tells potential terrorist to fuck off on live TV.
And on that note…What are you all up to this Wednesday fucking morning?
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Well, I am starting this post in a new way. I am writing it on my iPhone using the talk to text thingy. You know, that app where you talk and it writes what you say. So far… it has disappeared on me once, and has gone black a couple of times so if it does work I will be amazed.
I feel like I’ve gone down the rabbit hole, into techie hell. (Actually isn’t it Apple “Genius” hell?)
With the Ebola virus making the rounds, and since I’ve been sick over the last two weeks…the words to this song hit home. (And now Boston Boomer is out for the count, hopefully she will be feeling better soon. )
During the rest of the post, the lyrics to Comfortably Numb will be in dotted here and there…starting with the title of this thread.
Just nod if you can hear me. Is there anyone at home?
Honestly? I wonder if the Ebola hysteria has caused people to lose it completely. Take this latest bit of…you fucking kidding me…out of Maine:
The teacher, who has not been named, attended a conference 10 miles from the hospital where Ebola patients have received care.
A teacher at Strong Elementary School was placed on a 21-day paid leave of absence after parents told the school board they were concerned that she might have been exposed to Ebola during a trip to Dallas for an educational conference.
The teacher, who was not named, attended a seminar held by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium that is still meeting in Dallas.
“At this time, we have no information to suggest that this staff member has been in contact with anyone who has been exposed to Ebola,” the district wrote in a statement published on its website. “However, the district and the staff member understand the parents’ concerns. Therefore, after several discussions with the staff member, out of an abundance of caution, this staff member has been placed on a paid leave of absence for up to 21 days.”
It takes two to 21 days for someone who has been infected with Ebola to show symptoms, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
The decision to place the teacher on leave was made by the MSAD 58 school board Thursday evening, after parents and community members expressed frustration that they were not notified that the teacher would be traveling to Dallas, where the nation’s first Ebola case was diagnosed.
Wow. What can you possibly say about that?
Things have gotten almost up to 11, and I know that as the days get closer to Election Day 2014, certain politicians will continue to use the fear as campaign fuel.
Come on, now, I hear you’re feeling down. Well I can ease your pain Get you on your feet again.
I have some quick links for you now. Updates on some stories:
Sounds like Wilson is taking his cue from Zimmerman.
The police officer who fatally shot an unarmed 18-year-old in a St. Louis suburb last summer has told investigators that he was pinned in his vehicle and in fear for his life as they struggled over his gun, The New York Times reported.
Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson has told authorities that Michael Brown reached for the gun during a scuffle, the Times reported in a story posted on its website Friday night. The officer’s account to authorities did not explain why he fired at Brown multiple times after emerging from his vehicle, according to the newspaper.
You can read the rest if you want.
By the way, did y’all ever see John Oliver’s take on the Ferguson mess?
Now when you watch it, make sure you keep a mental note on the pumpkin festival (it starts at min 7:12)…and the big ass tank that is used to protect it…because it may just have a connection to this next story:
Huge crowds including Keene State College students and visitors to an annual pumpkin festival in New Hampshire became unruly Saturday, leading to injuries and arrests.
College officials provided few specifics on the melee but said Keene State students and out-of-town visitors were involved. The school said in a statement that off-campus gatherings escalated at locations around the city.
Keene State student Ellery Murray told The Boston Globe she was at a party that had drawn a large crowd when people started throwing things. She said police responded in riot gear and used tear gas to break up the crowd.
“People were just throwing everything they could find — rocks, skateboards, buckets, pumpkins,” she said. “People just got too drunk.”
The Southwestern New Hampshire Fire Mutual Aid organization said on Twitter that several people were injured from thrown bottles at a party involving hundreds of people.
New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan said state and local safety officials worked to defuse what she called “the situation.”
Hours after the commotion broke out, emergency officials said they were still working the scene and couldn’t provide any details.
I wonder if the local police put the military tank/truck thing to good use?
The family of high school athlete who was pulled over and forced to the ground at gunpoint over a seat-belt violation has filed a $12.5 million lawsuit against the Waycross, Georgia police department contending the officer involved was only given a slap on the wrist for his actions, according to News4GA.
Saying “I could have been another Trayvon Martin case,” Montre’ Merritt explained to reporters how the traffic stop in front of his home where officer Officer Cory Gay held a gun to his head and ordered him onto the ground still haunts him.
“That night when it happened, I felt like I could have been another Trayvon Martin case,” Merritt said. “And just hearing how Mike Brown went about his case for doing the right thing. He still got shot. I just feel like I don’t want any of my friends or family, I don’t want that to happen to anybody.”
According to the suit, Merritt was pulled over by Gay on Jan. 18, in front of his home and instructed at gunpoint to get out of his car and on the ground where Gay handcuffed him. When Merritt’s mother came outside to see why her son was being arrested, the officer told her it was for a seat belt violation.
The Merritt family subsequently filed a complaint with the Waycross Police Department over Gay’s actions.
Following an investigation by police authorities, Gay was found guilty of using excessive force and was suspended for five days without pay. Gay was also ordered to take Judgmental Use of Force Training.
Unhappy with Gay’s punishment, the family filed the lawsuit against the police department.
Good luck with that.
Okay, if you have another 16 minutes…take a look at this segment from John Oliver’s show on Prisons.
Up next a story that reflects on another side of the prison system. I don’t know if you remember a horrible shooting and dual murder here in Georgia a few weeks ago, a young couple was kidnapped and held for ransom, only to be shot execution style. The woman, who was 7 months pregnant, was kept alive long enough to give birth to her daughter. They finally caught the people responsible, and as you can imagine…this is not the first murders the dudes have committed.
Channel 2 Action News learned the suspects were accused of a combined seven killings.
Families present for the announcement told Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh they were shocked to see how many lives were impacted by just two suspects.
“I’m going (to) hope that justice will do what’s necessary because obviously it failed us before; they got out,” said Beverly Fowler, godmother to victim Briana Brooks.
The families stood united with Atlanta investigators who helped put two murder suspects back behind bars.
Friday, a grand jury handed up a 30-count indictment of Andre Gay and Richard Wilson.
“We will continue to do the job we need to do to make sure they are never released again,” said Atlanta Detective
If you can, watch Briana Brooks mother as she describes what happened to her daughter, it is emotionally wrenching.
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said both Gay and Wilson have served time for prior murders. Gay, who was sentenced to life, was just paroled in January, but victims’ families were never notified.
“I believe that the parole board should personally notify the family members,” said Howard.
Howard thinks that should happen within 60 days.
Howard said he was shocked to learn what the state means by “electronic monitoring” of parolees.
“That does not mean they will wear ankle bracelets and it doesn’t mean that — the monitoring doesn’t go on during the entire time that they are on parole,” Howard said.
“Overwhelming that so many families are affected by two individuals who really don’t care for life,” Strong said.
Kavanaugh contacted the state parole board to get their reaction to these criticisms. A spokesperson emailed the following statement:
“The Parole Board recently met with DA Paul Howard to discuss the Andre Gay case and Mr. Howard shared information with the Board.
“Prior to this case, the Parole Board has been working on determining how additional notifications may be made to victims and law enforcement regarding board decisions and how new notifications above those that are statutorily required, can possibly be implemented.
“The Parole Board’s supervision of offenders on parole in the community is consistently under review to ensure those on parole are in compliance with their supervision.
“The Parole Board is committed to public safety and will continue to make supervision of offenders its number one priority.”
See, how the hell did these guys get approved for release to begin with? I don’t know but this is a perfect example of the criminals that need to remain behind bars.
Relax. I’ll need some information first. Just the basic facts. Can you show me where it hurts?
After this next video segment from Oliver…you will be hurting between your head something fierce!
An endangered northern white rhino has died in Kenya, a wildlife conservancy has said, meaning only six of the animals are left alive in the world.
Suni, a 34-year-old northern white, and the first of his species to be born in captivity, was found dead on Friday by rangers at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy near Nairobi. While there are thousands of southern white rhinos in the plains of sub-Saharan Africa, decades of rampant poaching has meant the northern white rhino is close to extinction.
The rest of today’s post will have links dealing with fun stuff…yeah we are half way through, so you can either keep going…or come back later, but the next series of links deal with a huge inflatable butt plug that was installed in some plaza in Paris.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a tree, apparently. The 80ft green structure called Tree has attracted at lot of attention since it appeared in Paris’s Place Vendôme. Created by Paul McCarthy, an American artist, as part of his exhibition Chocolate Factory, the installation is officially described as a Christmas tree. Social media wags, however, have suggested that it looks more like something rude (ask your mother). Vandals took it a step further yesterday when they cut the cables holding the structure upright, forcing security guards to deflate and remove it.
Surely Tree is exactly what a great work of public art should be – controversial. Just like the adjacent Vendôme Column was, back in its wild youth. That now venerable monument, constructed between 1806 and 1810 to commemorate Napoleon’s victory at Austerlitz, was first attacked by a mob on horseback in 1816. That attempt to dislodge Napoleon’s statue from its perch failed, but the Vendôme Column has been dismantled and rebuilt on several occasions since. As for obscenity, is Tree really that much more blatant than the Vendôme Column and the many other giant phallic symbols that hide in plain sight in civic centres the world over?
Yeah, more at the link…but for now…it is a flaccid butt plug.
According to The Guardian, the vandals waited until the attention of security guards was elsewhere and then cut the cables keeping the sculpture, titled “Tree,” in place. Police are investigating the incident; it had only been two days since the sculpture was inflated in Place Vendôme.
“The Walking Dead” actress Danai Gurira is featured on Byrdie photographed by Justin Colt and styled by Zoe Costello.
On female struggles and feminism: “There’s a saying in Africa, if you give a woman empowerment, you empower a community, you empower men, you empower man. When women become empowered and live in their strength it’s beneficiary to others, and I think as young women today we sometimes forget that we are standing on the struggle of other women. Those women had to stand up to make a change, and they were not popular, and now we’re making them unpopular again.”
I especially love what the “Uncles” had to say about this editorial:
O to the MG, that shot in the Sacai is the very definition of FIERCE. Actually, scratch that. While that shit is FIERCE, it doesn’t hold a candle to that soundbite about feminism. GIRL. That was awesome.
Sorry for the RANDOM all-caps words, but WE tend to lose all control WHEN we see a fabulously fierce LADY in stunning CLOTHES saying really SMART things.
Damn you got that right! Click the link to see the other gorgeous shots…and to read another bite about her Walking Dead character, Michonne.
When I was a child I had a fever My hands felt just like two balloons. Now I’ve got that feeling once again I can’t explain you would not understand This is not how I am. I have become comfortably numb.
The UN Women launched a campaign in New Delhi on Saturday, aiming at ensuring greater participation of men in promoting women’s rights and gender equality.
“We need boys and men to work with us. ‘HeForShe’ is a global solidarity movement to end gender inequality by 2030. The goal is to engage men and boys as advocates and agents of change in the effort to achieve equality. When women are empowered, the whole of humanity benefits,” UN Women Representative, Rebecca Tavares, said.
The ‘HeForShe’ campaign in India was launched by Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi. UN Women believes that it is critical to engage all stakeholders in support of women’s rights, including the active participation of men and boys.
The draft document from the 2014 Synod on the Family (which comes to an end on Sunday) includes a significant reworking of the language used to address homosexuality, premarital cohabitation, and divorce. Let’s be clear: This is no small deal! That the Church would begin to make moves around welcoming gay, unmarried, and no-longer-married couples (for the record, that covers about 95 percent of the couples I know) into the Catholic community represents an enormous — and positive — step forward.
But guess what? When it comes to women, and the control that they can have over their own bodies, not much has changed.
Jerrie Mock, who as a relatively untested pilot accomplished in 1964 what Amelia Earhart could not — becoming the first woman to fly solo around the world — died on Tuesday at her home in Quincy, Fla., near Tallahassee. She was 88.
Her grandson Chris Flocken confirmed her death.
When she took off on March 19, 1964, from Columbus, Ohio, Ms. Mock was a 38-year-old homemaker and recreational pilot who had logged a meager 750 hours of flight time. She returned there on April 17 — 29 days, 11 hours and 59 minutes later — after a 23,000-mile journey over the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea and the Pacific, with stops in the Azores, Casablanca, Cairo, Karachi, Calcutta, Bangkok and Honolulu, among other places.
She was stalled by high winds in Bermuda and battled rough weather between Casablanca and Bone, Algeria. She navigated 1,300 miles over the Pacific from Guam to tiny Wake Island, three miles in diameter, without the benefit of ground signals. Between Bangkok and Manila, she flew over embattled Vietnam.
“Somewhere not far away a war was being fought,” she wrote later, “but from the sky above, all looked peaceful.”
The thing she said when asked about why she made the trip is a perfect answer…
Ms. Mock and her husband, Russell, were half-owners of the plane, an 11-year-old single-engine Cessna 180 named the Spirit of Columbus (evoking the Spirit of St. Louis, the plane Charles Lindbergh flew in becoming the first to cross the Atlantic solo 37 years earlier).
The Mocks’ plane had been modified for the journey. Three of its four seats had been removed and fuel tanks were installed in their place. And the radio and navigational equipment had been augmented, although as she recounted in her 1970 book, “Three-Eight Charlie” (a reference to the plane’s serial number, which ended in 38C), she soon discovered that a crucial radio wire had been disconnected, leaving her cut off from the ground during the first leg of the trip, to Bermuda.
That summer, Flying magazine asked Ms. Mock why she had undertaken such a treacherous journey alone.
“It was about time a woman did it,” she said.
And that is all we have on links that focus primarily on women.
O.K. Just a little pinprick. There’ll be no more aaaaaaaaah! But you may feel a little sick. Can you stand up? I do believe it’s working, good. That’ll keep you going through the show Come on it’s time to go.
Patricia Wanderlich got insurance through the Affordable Care Act this year, and with good reason: She suffered a brain hemorrhage in 2011, spending weeks in a hospital intensive care unit, and has a second, smaller aneurysm that needs monitoring.
But her new plan has a $6,000 annual deductible, meaning that Ms. Wanderlich, who works part time at a landscaping company outside Chicago, has to pay for most of her medical services up to that amount. She is skipping this year’s brain scan and hoping for the best.
“To spend thousands of dollars just making sure it hasn’t grown?” said Ms. Wanderlich, 61. “I don’t have that money.”
About 7.3 million Americans are enrolled in private coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, and more than 80 percent qualified for federal subsidies to help with the cost of their monthly premiums. But many are still on the hook for deductibles that can top $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for families — the trade-off, insurers say, for keeping premiums for the marketplace plans relatively low. The result is that some people — no firm data exists on how many — say they hesitate to use their new insurance because of the high out-of-pocket costs.
Once my family gets our insurance sorted out, I will have a long post about it, because it really is a frightening mess.
It’s not a term of endearment, of course, but as Aaron Beelner pointed out in the video above, not too many people realize it’s a “very dehumanizing” way to refer to someone.
In a video posted to YouTube on Tuesday, Beelner walked the streets of New York City asking strangers about their thoughts on the term. He also pointed out that October is Dwarfism Awareness Month — a fact no passerby in the video knew.
Beelner stars in “The Little Tin Man,” a film following the life of a struggling dwarf actor that Beelner said is relevant to any minority group fighting for equality.
There is no pain you are receding A distant ship, smoke on the horizon. You are only coming through in waves. Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying. When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse Out of the corner of my eye. I turned to look but it was gone I cannot put my finger on it now The child is grown, The dream is gone. I have become comfortably numb.
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It’s the last week of August, and the dog days of summer have supposedly passed; but the Boston area is supposed to hit ninety degrees today and tomorrow. I’m actually looking forward to it, because it has been so cool here lately–in the sixites and low seventies in the daytime and the fifties at night. Yesterday it got into the high eighties, and it felt wonderful.
The Boston Globe has a story today about Peter Theo Curtis, the writer who was just released from captivity in Syria. His mother lives in Cambridge. I had never heard of Curtis before; apparently his kidnapping was kept secret. The Globe reports: Militants free US writer with Mass. ties who was held in Syria.
Peter Theo Curtis, a writer and scholar with ties to the Boston area who was held captive for nearly two years by one of the Islamic militant groups operating in Syria, was released Sunday after emissaries from the government of Qatar won his freedom on humanitarian grounds, in a stark contrast to the brutal murder of fellow war correspondent James W. Foley .
Curtis’s 22 months in captivity were kept from the public at his family’s request since he was nabbed near the Syrian border in October 2012 by Al Nusra Front, one of the groups seeking to topple President Bashir Assad of Syria. Al Nusra Front has ties to the Al Qaeda terrorist network.
Curtis, 45, who wrote dispatches under the name Theo Padnos and previously chronicled disaffected young Muslims in Yemen in a book titled “Undercover Muslim,” had studied Arabic in Syria.
He was handed over to United Nations peacekeepers in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Sunday evening, a UN spokesman in New York said. After it was determined he was in good medical condition, he was transferred to representatives of the US government, according to the UN.
“We are so relieved that Theo is healthy and safe and that he is finally headed home after his ordeal,” his mother, Nancy Curtis, who lives in Cambridge, said in a statement, “but we are also deeply saddened by the terrible, unjustified killing last week of his fellow journalist, Jim Foley, at the hands of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, ISIS.”
Foley was from New Hampshire, and the two families have gotten to know each other well, according to Curtis.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The U.S. has begun surveillance flights over Syria after President Barack Obama gave the OK, U.S. officials said, a move that could pave the way for airstrikes against Islamic State militant targets there.
While the White House says Obama has not approved military action inside Syria, additional intelligence on the militants would likely be necessary before he could take that step. Pentagon officials have been drafting potential options for the president, including airstrikes.
One official said the administration has a need for reliable intelligence from Syria and called the surveillance flights an important avenue for obtaining data.
Two U.S. officials said Monday that Obama had approved the flights, while another U.S. official said early Tuesday that they had begun. The officials were not authorized to discuss the matter by name, and spoke only on condition of anonymity.
ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT — U.S. airstrikes on Islamic militants in Iraq have blunted their momentum, but defeating them will require a broad regional approach that draws support from Iraq’s neighbors and includes political and diplomatic efforts, the top U.S. military officer said.
The long-term strategy for defeating the militants includes having the United States and its allies reach out to Iraq’s neighbors, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday….
Dempsey is working with Central Command to prepare “options to address [the Islamic State] both in Iraq and Syria with a variety of military tools including airstrikes,” said Col. Ed Thomas, Dempsey’s spokesman, in a statement.
The militant group Islamic State, also known as ISIS, has shown itself to be so brutal that Iraq and the U.S. should be able to find “willing partners” to join efforts to defeat the militants, Dempsey said.
But military power won’t be enough, Dempsey said. The strategy must take a comprehensive approach that includes political and diplomatic efforts to address the grievances of millions of Sunnis who have felt disenfranchised by Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government, he said.
Late Summer Garden, John Gordon
I get the feeling that we’re never going to escape involvement in the endless Middle East conflicts, thanks to George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and the rest of the neocon gang. What a horrible mess! We have our own messes to deal with here, but foreign wars always seem to trump the needs of the American people.
On his first full day back from vacation, President Barack Obama could be forgiven for wishing he were still on Martha’s Vineyard. With confirmation that ISIS fighters have just captured another military base from the government forces of President Assad, and that Qatar has engineered the release of an American freelance journalist who was being held by a non-ISIS jihadist group, Obama has two formidable challenges to deal with.
The immediate task for Obama is deciding whether to launch American bombing raids on ISIS positions inside Syria, while simultaneously preparing his Administration, and the country at large, for the possibility of another video showing an American hostage being butchered. The ISIS militants, having carefully orchestrated the beheading of James Foley following the launch of U.S. strikes inside Iraq, will surely seek to exploit the fate of its remaining American hostages for maximum effect. Any U.S. decision to expand its air campaign is almost certain to be met with the release of more snuff films.
No President—no American—could take such a prospect lightly. At the same time, Obama has to guard against allowing emotion and wishful thinking to take over U.S. policy. That’s what happened after 9/11, and some of the chaos that we now see in the Middle East can be traced back to that historic blunder. What’s needed is calm cost-benefit analysis of the options open to the United States, taking account of its strategic interests, its values, and its capabilities. In short, we need what Danny Kahneman, the Princeton psychologist who pioneered behavioral economics, would refer to as some Type 2 thinking: a disciplined weighing of the likely consequences of our actions. If we give into our Type 1 reaction—horror, outrage, anger—we will be playing into the hands of the jihadists.
One place to start is by acknowledging two errors in thinking that have blighted U.S. policy in the past decade: the conservative delusion that the United States could, more or less single-handedly, use its military power to reinvent the Middle East, and the liberal illusion that we could simply walk away from the mess that Bush, Cheney & Co. created. Without the political willingness and the financial capability to garrison the region in the manner of postwar Germany and Japan, U.S. influence has to be exercised through air power, political proxies, economic inducements, and regional alliances. But that doesn’t diminish the fact that the United States and other Western countries have vital interests at stake, one of which is preventing the emergence of a rogue Islamic state that would provide a rallying point, and a safe haven, for anti-Western jihadists the world over.
Read the whole thing at the link.
A Garden in a Sea of Flowers, Ross Turner
The Economies of the U.S. and Europe
There has been so much breaking news for the past couple of months that we haven’t talked much about the economies of the U.S. and Europe. But today the European Central Bank is topping the headlines, and last week Fed Chairperson Janet Yellen spoke at Jackson Hole, so I thought I’d post a few economics stories.
That was Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s main message Friday in a much anticipated speech.
“It speaks to the depth of the damage that, five years after the end of the recession, the labor market has yet to fully recover,” she said.
The debate now is whether the job situation in America is healthy enough for the Federal Reserve to start raising interest rates, which have been at historic lows in recent years in an effort to jump start the economy. Yellen, however, said little new on Friday, and U.S. stock markets stayed flat.
Yellen is chair of the committee that sets interest rates, but she only gets one vote. Other members have differing views. The Fed board and other top economists are spending the weekend in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, debating these key issues.
Though the unemployment rate “has fallen considerably and at a surprisingly rapid pace,” Yellen said problems remain.
Yellen called attention to what Americans in the job market already know–though the employment numbers look better, many people have stopped looking for work, and most of the new jobs are part-time and pay low wages.
PARIS — The collapse of the French government on Monday exposed widening divisions both within France’s leadership, and Europe more broadly, over austerity policies that many now fault for threatening to tip the eurozone back into recession.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced that he would dissolve his government after a rancorous battle in his cabinet over whether the belt-tightening measures taken by President François Hollande — at the urging of Germany and European Union officials in Brussels — were impeding France’s recovery.
The dispute broke into the open when Mr. Vall’s outspoken economy minister, Arnaud Montebourg, insisted in an interview over the weekend that austerity had gone too far. “The priority must be exiting the crisis, and the dogmatic reduction of deficits should come after,” he told the newspaper Le Monde.
He also took direct aim at the policies of Angela Merkel, the German chancellor. “Germany is caught in a trap of austerity that it is imposing across Europe,” he said.
The eurozone’s flatlining economy took another hit on Monday when data showed German business sentiment sagging for the fourth consecutive month. Chancellor Angela Merkel attributed some of her own country’s decline in the second quarter to the Russia-Ukraine crisis, over which tit-for-tat sanctions threaten trade. The Munich-based Ifo, a research firm, echoed some of those sentiments as it reported its business climate index, based on a monthly survey of some 7,000 companies, fell to a worse-than-expected 106.3 from 108, the lowest level in more than a year. The findings agreed with data earlier in the month on the second-quarter contraction in Germany, the bloc’s biggest economy. Klaus Wohlrabe, an Ifo economist, said his institute expected growth in Germany to be “close to zero” in the third quarter.
A few more headlines on the European economic situation:
Michael Brown, 18, due to be buried on Monday, was no angel, with public records and interviews with friends and family revealing both problems and promise in his young life. Shortly before his encounter with Officer Wilson, the police say he was caught on a security camera stealing a box of cigars, pushing the clerk of a convenience store into a display case. He lived in a community that had rough patches, and he dabbled in drugs and alcohol. He had taken to rapping in recent months, producing lyrics that were by turns contemplative and vulgar. He got into at least one scuffle with a neighbor.
“It comes out of the opening scene,” says Mitchell, who notes that “like many teenagers,” Brown was indeed “no angel.” Okay, but would the New York Times have chosen this term — which is commonly used to describe miscreants and thugs — if the victim had been white? Mitchell: “I think, actually, we have a nuanced story about the young man and if it had been a white young man in the same exact situation, if that’s where our reporting took us, we would have written it in the same way.” When asked whether she thought that “no angel” was a loaded term in this context, Mitchell said she didn’t believe it was. “The story … talks about both problems and promise,” she notes.
The Times’s response has done little to calm the storm. Sean McElwee, research assistant at Demos, dug into the archives to compare the Times’s description of Brown to the newspaper’s previous descriptions of serial killers and terrorists. Of course, comparing articles produced decades apart by different writers and editors isn’t an exact science. But it does lend context to the widespread frustration over how young black men are portrayed in the media.
A series of McElwee’s tweets are posted at the link, and are well worth reading.
It is another year…for me at least…44 of them! I don’t have any plans today, except sit and worry about my Bebe who is off in Chicago. She has a performance today and then the competition tomorrow afternoon before she heads back to Banjoville.
A long ass bus ride back to Banjoville.
Anyway, before I get to the links just a quick note about the pictures for today’s post. They are all centered around the Apollo 13 mission that took off exactly 44 years ago today. Links to photo galleries at the end of this thread.
A witness to Thursday’s deadly tour bus crash said the driver of the FedEx truck appeared to lose control while changing lanes before barreling across the center median of Interstate 5 and colliding head-on with a tour bus filled with high school students.
Ryan Householder told The Times on Saturday that he was mowing his lawn, which faces the southbound lanes of the highway, when he heard screeching tires Thursday. He looked up and watched the crash occur. The drivers of both vehicles were killed as were eight people on board the tour bus.
Householder, 31, said the FedEx truck, hauling two trailers, was in the slower of two southbound lanes behind a red van, he said. The truck tried to merge into the faster lane, he said, but there were two cars there.
At that point, the truck driver seemed to lose control of his vehicle, Householder said. The truck shot across the grassy median, shearing the tops off bushes that separate the northbound and southbound lanes.
The truck began straightening out, Householder said, but by that time it was already on the northbound lane and it collided with the bus carrying high school students on their way to Humboldt State University.
“When they collided, it was boom!” he said. Both vehicles erupted into fire.
The truck, Householder said, was not on fire before the crash.
Bonnie and Joe Duran told TV reporters in Northern California late Friday that their Nissan Altima was sideswiped by the truck before it collided head-on with the bus. They said flames were visible from the big rig as it crossed the median and hit their car.
“It was on fire already,” Bonnie Duran said.
Investigators have not publicly responded to the Durans’ account.
Cameron Birk, the couple’s son-in-law, told The Times Saturday that he has talked to Joe Duran several times since the accident. He said Duran told him the couple were driving northbound on the interstate in the left lane, with Bonnie at the wheel, when they first saw the FedEx truck. Bonnie jerked the wheel to the right to avoid a head-on collision.
“The truck was already on fire when it had crossed the median,” Birk recalled Joe Duran telling him. “They were the first car it hit, so they just jerked the wheel hard and got side-wiped.” They spun out and got thrown into a ditch, Birk said.
Tens of thousands of people took part in protests in central Paris and Rome, organized by hard-left parties opposed to government economic reform plans and austerity measures.
Police in Rome armed with batons charged members of a large splinter group — many wearing masks and helmets — and also used tear gas to push back the crowd, with protesters fighting back with rocks and firecrackers. One man lost a hand when a firecracker exploded before he could throw it.
There were dozens of lighter injuries among police and protesters, and at least six arrests, police said.
The protest was organized as a challenge to high housing costs and joblessness as a result of Italy’s long economic slowdown. The procession made its way peacefully through central Rome until the more violent element wearing helmets started throwing objects at police near the Labor Ministry.
A crude oil leak from a pipeline owned by a unit of China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) is to blame for water contamination that has affected more than 2.4 million people in the Chinese city of Lanzhou, in the the landlocked northwest part of the country, according to Chinese media reports Saturday.
The leak poisoned the water source for a water plant, introducing hazardous levels of benzene into the city’s water, according to China’s official news agency Xinhua.
Residents scrambled to buy bottled water after authorities warned against using taps, in scenes reminiscent of a municipal water ban in the United States, following a coal-processing chemical spill that affected 300,000 West Virginians in January.
Xinhau cited Yan Zijiang, Lanzhou’s environmental protection chief, as saying that a leak in a pipeline owned by Lanzhou Petrochemical Co., a unit of CNPC, was to blame for the water contamination.
Read more on the pollution regulations they are trying to reign in over there in China.
The Sky Dancing banner headline uses a snippet from a work by artist Tashi Mannox called 'Rainbow Study'. The work is described as a" study of typical Tibetan rainbow clouds, that feature in Thanka painting, temple decoration and silk brocades". dakinikat was immediately drawn to the image when trying to find stylized Tibetan Clouds to represent Sky Dancing. It is probably because Tashi's practice is similar to her own. His updated take on the clouds that fill the collection of traditional thankas is quite special.
You can find his work at his website by clicking on his logo below. He is also a calligraphy artist that uses important vajrayana syllables. We encourage you to visit his on line studio.