Adonis Diaries

Archive for February 2015

Understanding the Middle East with better clichés

Some people feel that western media coverage of the Middle East is dominated by too many clichés and stereotypes.

An emerging view now believes that there are actually too few rather than too many clichés, thereby making reporting less accurate.

This radical critique of what is really wrong with Western media coverage has already produced enlightening pieces that allow us to understand what exactly is happening in the Middle East far better than we have managed in the past.

Below is a sample of this revolutionary trend.

Karl reMarks in : Understanding the Middle East with better clichés. Feb. 27, 2015

In order to understand the Middle East and North Africa/the Arab World/The Near Muslim East one must begin with its centre of gravity and most populous nation, Egypt.
Following the general tumult that ensued from the Arab Spring/Arab Uprisings, Egypt is now ruled by the military strongman and former army leader Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.
Sisi, a bald Sunni Muslim secular leader came to power after overthrowing democratically-elected moderate Islamist Sunni (not-bald) Mohammed Morsi .

Sisi’s secular takeover was supported by hardcore Wahhabi Sunni Saudi Arabia and other moderate conservative Sunni Arab States. However it was opposed by the only other Wahhabi state, Qatar, a moderate conservative small country that employs conservative Islamist journalists in Arabic and left-wing, socially-aware journalists in English.
This is not a surprise because the charm of the Middle East stems from its contradictions.Now both Qatar and Saudi Arabia oppose the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, a secular Alawi leader from the minority offshoot Shia sect, but they disagree on which of the moderate Sunni Muslim rebels against him they should support in public and which of the extreme Sunni factions they should support in secret.Assad is in turn supported by conservative Shia Iran and the Lebanese Shia (not offshoot) militant group Hezbollah.

Conservative Shia Iran and uber-Conservative Sunni Saudi Arabia are locked in a fierce geopolitical struggle that some argue is the continuation of ancient sectarian divisions while others believe is more of a struggle over influence embellished with sectarian rivalries.

Despite their many disagreements, Saudi Arabia and Iran agree on conducting their rivalry through proxy regional wars instead of an all-out war, probably because it’s more fun this way.

Besides Syria, there are several other mutually-acceptable venues in which Saudi Arabia and Iran conduct their proxy wars, such as Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.

Recently in Yemen the Houthis, who are members of yet another Shia offshoot group, took over the country, once again as a consequence of the general tumult that ensued from the Arab Spring.

Some say Iran was behind the Houthis’ move, partially to punish Saudi Arabia for allowing oil prices to drop.

In traditional Persian culture it’s considered an insult to allow the prices of commodities to drop below production cost, which explains Iran’s anger.

But it’s in Iraq where the struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia gets really complicated. The sudden rise of the Islamic State under the leadership of self-declared Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has taken everyone who wasn’t paying attention by surprise.

Baghdadi, a very Sunni Muslim extremist, although I wouldn’t say it to his face, has led his forces to occupy large parts of Iraq including the second-largest city, Mosul.

The rise of the Islamic State threatened Iran’s influence in Iraq, which should have pleased Saudi Arabia save for the fact that the new Caliphate is ideologically indisposed towards Saudi Arabia, which it sees as the epitome  of liberal values.

Everything is relative, as they say.

So Saudi Arabia is in the tricky position of having to balance its competing aims of weakening Iran but containing the existential threat posed by the Islamic State. There are no non-existential threats in the Middle East.

For its part, Iran has thrown its weight behind the Shia forces fighting the Islamic State in Iraq, although this has aligned it momentarily with its old foe, the United States.

But Iran is also full of contradictions as, despite being a theologically-governed Islamic State, it seems to be capable of taking pragmatic decisions in its regional policies.

Recent photographic evidence obtained by Western media outlets even suggests that Iranian women, who must wear Islamic clothes in public, actually wear bras under their clothes. They also watch television and laugh with their friends, much like people in the West sometimes do.

Western media clearly thought this was important to point out, so it must be so.

Another major Sunni player is Turkey, which is allied with Qatar against the Saudi-Egyptian axis.

Turkey is led by relatively moderate Sunni Muslim Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a suited non-bearded Islamist with latent Ottoman impulses.

Turkey opposed the removal of president Morsi in Egypt, not least because he was also a suited Islamist. Turkey’s position has been close to that of Qatar in Syria and Libya, where everyone has been competing for influence since Gaddafi’s fall. (Regional Middle Eastern powers are like the nightclub circle, they all want to be seen in the new place.)

The situation in Libya was complicated by the fact that there are no sectarian divisions in the country, which made things difficult for a while until Libyans decided to create random divisions.

(You can get a sense of this by reading any article on Libya and trying to understand who is against whom and why).

This greatly facilitated the involvement of external powers and made proxy wars much easier to wage. Although it is a bit unfair to Iran, which being Shia can’t find any allies in an exclusively Sunni Muslim country.

Oh look, this is almost one thousand words already and we don’t have time to wrap up all the loose strands neatly, so it’s best to end on a timeless-sounding platitude about the Middle East and how it will always be the same.

Perhaps even a quote from Khalil Gibran or Omar Khayyam, hinting at our sorrow about lost potential and showing how learned we are.


States that got the habit of acting with No Impunity

The USA, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia acting with total impunity.

Russia and Iran have to be sanctioned for much less

Quand Israël, la Turquie, les Etats-Unis et l’Arabie saoudite, agissent comme bon leur semble en Syrie, alors il faut croire que le régime qui prétend contrôler ce pays, est bel et bien fini (Art.274)

Bakhos Baalbaki, écrivain, published this Feb. 23, 2015

Alors, récapitulons.

A 21h précises samedi soir, pendant que les retardataires se pomponnaient encore dans les salles de bain d’Istanbul, 572 soldats turcs, accompagnés de 39 chars et 57 véhicules blindés, et protégés s’il le fallait par des F-16 mis en état d’alerte -à l’échelle militaire, c’est un bataillon, enno bel mchabra7, ils ne passent pas inaperçu !

Franchissent la frontière turco-syrienne, celle de ce pays qui est soi-disant contrôlé par le dernier tyran des Assad qui prétend depuis quatre ans déjà qu’il n’en a plus pour longtemps avec cette bande de racaille de djihadistes de Seine-Saint-Denis, qui foutent la merde dans les paisibles oasis de la Syrie d’antan.

Ils traversent du côté du poste frontalier de Mürşitpınar, qui se situe à un jet de pierre du jardin public de Kobané, Aïn el-Arab, ou ce qu’il en reste, libérée héroïquement par les forces kurdes, grâce aux frappes aériennes de la coalition arabo-occidentale, que peu d’Arabes, Libanais compris, se sont donnés la peine de remercier, trop préoccupés par la garde-robe de Michelle Obama, la femme de magheiro, le remplaçant du blaireau de la Maison-Blanche, le sous-doué surnommé, W.

Ils entrent dans une zone tenue par les djihadistes de Daech, une organisation terroriste qui s’est autoproclamée « Etat islamique » et qui menace de marcher sur Rome, avec des Fiats Panda, dérobés à des concessionnaires chrétiens de Mossoul avant de les expulser de la ville.

A en croire les concernés, avec leur humour légendaire, les Italiens se préparent à les affronter avec du chianti et du salami.

Après tout, si l’ail éloigne Dracula, le vin et le saucisson pourront avoir le même effet sur les sanguinaires usurpateurs du califat et de l’islam de la bande d’Abou-Bakr el-Baghdadi.

La colonne s’enfonce 35 kilomètres en territoire syrien svp, vers le nord-est d’Alep, comme si de rien n’était. Il n’y avait pas un chat sur les routes défoncées par les barils explosifs.

Que de gros nids-de-poules en grande quantité ! Merci qui ?

Merci Bachar évidemment, le spécialiste en la matière. On en sait quelque chose au Liban en 29 ans d’occupation syrienne ! La colonne militaire passe dans des régions où campent des miliciens chiites libanais.

La colonne turque mène une opération militaire d’envergure baptisée « Şah Fırat » (le Chah de l’Euphrate). Celle-ci s’est composée de deux phases.

La première consistait d’une part, à rapatrier 38 soldats encerclés par les psychopathes de Daech, qui gardaient la tombe du grand-père d’Osman Ier, le fondateur de la dynastie ottomane qui régna sur le monde oriental pendant plus de 624 ans, et d’autre part, à mettre à l’abri « les reliques du dignitaire turc », mort vers 1236, comme l’a indiqué le Premier ministre de la Turquie d’aujourd’hui, Ahmet Davutoglu.

Il faut savoir que ce tombeau est situé dans une enclave de 10 000 mètres carrés, considérée comme un territoire turc en vertu de l’article 9 du traité d’Ankara, signé en 1921 par la France et la Turquie, et enregistré à la Société des Nations en 1926.

Par ce traité la nouvelle Turquie reconnut la souveraineté française sur ses anciens territoires d’Orient (le Liban et la Syrie).

(Mandated France even relinquished vast Syrian territories in the north and offered it to Turkey dictator Ataturk, a few months before he passed away)

Le traité stipule par ailleurs que « le tombeau de Suleiman Chah, le grand-père du Sultan Osman, fondateur de la dynastie ottomane (…) situé à Djaber-Kalessi (Syrie) restera, avec ses dépendances, la propriété de la Turquie, qui pourra y maintenir des gardiens et y hisser le drapeau turc ».

La seconde phase devait conduire à sécuriser une nouvelle zone en territoire syrien svp, afin d’inhumer de nouveau, dans les jours à venir, les reliques de l’ancêtre d’Osman Ier. Ainsi, ce grand-père n’en finit pas de se retourner dans sa tombe, le repos éternel n’étant pas pour tout de suite.

On l’a déjà déménagé en 1973, après la construction sur l’Euphrate du barrage d’al-Thawra et la formation du lac artificiel al-Assad, deux sinistres hommages au 1er président de la dynastie tyrannique des Assad. Il fut déplacé de Qalaat Jaabar (50 km à l’est d’al-Raqqa), 80 km en amont vers Sarrin (à 25 km de la frontière turque), toujours sur les rives droites de l’Euphrate, puisque la légende dit que l’ancêtre périt noyer dans les eaux du fleuve, alors qu’il fuyait les troupes mongoles.

Disons que l’opération turque de ce weekend a consisté à planter le drapeau turc dans une nouvelle zone, située à quelques kilomètres sur la rive droite de l’Euphrate (Firat en turc, al-Fourat en arabe), à quelques centaines de mètres de la frontière turque, je répète dans le sol syrien, par une décision unilatérale turque, qui de ce fait, a transformée un territoire de Syrie en une enclave sous souveraineté de la Turquie, signifiant à tous les protagonistes de la guerre civile syrienne, que les héritiers d’Osman Ier, au nationalisme exacerbé, gardent cette enclave turque de Syrie, comme le lui confère un traité international, mais se garde le droit de la situer où bon lui semble, uniquement selon ses intérêts.

En tout cas, tout s’est déroulé en coordination avec les forces kurdes et l’Armée syrienne libre, sans livrer bataille. Aucun combat n’a eu lieu. On déplore un mort, par accident. Les troupes turques sont rentrées avant la levée du jour, pour prendre le petit déjeuner sur les bords du Bosphore, après avoir pris le soin de détruire la sépulture historique pour éviter que les psychopathes de Daech ne la profanent.

Ceci étant conté, deux remarques.

  1. Dans un pays où l’horreur a dépassé les limites de l’imaginable, de la part du régime alaouite de Bachar el-Assad (cf. « album César », des dizaines de milliers de photos de corps suppliciés prises dans les geôles du régime ; l’extermination par le gaz sarin de 1 429 Syriens de la banlieue de Damas, etc.) et de la milice chiite libanaise du Hezbollah (à Qousseir, Damas et Homs, entre autres), mais aussi de la part des djihadistes de Daech et d’al-Nosra (exécutions de masse, décapitations, etc.), malgré des kidnappings de ressortissants turcs (libérés depuis), comment se fait-il que cette enclave turque n’ait pas été attaquée par aucun des belligérants en quatre ans d’une guerre qui a fait plus de 200 000 morts, ou rien ni personne n’est respecté, sachant que ce genre de site est banni par les islamistes de Daech qui le considèrent comme un lieu d’idolâtrie infâmeet que ces derniers ont menacé de le détruire il y a un an, mais n’ont jamais mis leurs menaces à exécution ?
  2. Disons-le clairement, de deux choses l’une : soit la Turquie sait se faire entendre, soit elle sait s’entendre. La réponse se situe sans doute entre les deux, entre la nuance diplomatique et cette subtilité linguistique ! Par comparaison, au Liban, Daech et Nosra sont libres de leurs mouvements, à peu de chose près, dans l’Anti-Liban et dans le jurd de Ersal notamment.
  3. Leurs attaques ont déjà couté la vie à plusieurs militaires libanais, dont deux par décapitation et deux par balle. Les deux organisations terroristes détiennent toujours plus d’une vingtaine de militaires libanais, menacés de mort à tout instant !
  4. Tout le monde sait que le régime fasciste de Bachar el-Assad a perdu, à jamais, le contrôle de la Syrie de son tyran de père. Il y a quelques semaines au Sud de la Syrie, l’affaire de Quneitra qui a impliqué les pasdarans iraniens, les hezbollahis libanais et les tsahalis israéliens, nous l’a prouvé. Il n’y avait aucun représentant du régime syrien, même pas un planton.
  5. Aujourd’hui, au nord de la Syrie, l’affaire du « Chah de l’Euphrate » nous le prouve. On a des Turcs, des Kurdes, des djihadistes, mais toujours aucun représentant du régime syrien. Entre les deux événements, l’attentat-suicide de Qordaha ce weekend, survenu au cœur du fief de la dynastie tyrannique des Assad, le prouve. Idem pour tous ses territoires à l’Est et à l’Ouest, qui sont passés entre les mains de « l’Armée syrienne libre » et de « l’Etat islamique en Irak et au Levant ». Idem pour les frappes aériennes de la coalition arabo-occidentale en Syrie.

Enfin bref, tout le monde le sait à l’exception du dernier tyran de Damas. Bachar el-Assad a beau joué au schizophrène frappé d’amnésie à chaque apparition médiatique, et faire de l’humour sur les cadavres de son peuple, il n’empêche que l’excellent interview qu’il a accordée à Jeremy Bowen de la BBC, le 10 février, dernier, le prouve encore.

Toujours et magistralement, contrairement à l’interview nauséeux et complaisant de Régis Le Sommier pour Paris Match en novembre 2014. Le chef du régime syrien n’a jamais été aussi « abruti » dans le passé qu’aujourd’hui. Voici une longue liste de morceaux choisis, que la presse ne s’est pas donné la peine de détailler. Ça vaut le détour.

« On ne peut pas parler d’Etat en faillite, parler de la perte de contrôle (de certains territoires) est une chose complètement différente… nous avons une invasion de terroristes venant de l’étranger…

Depuis le début, les manifestations n’étaient pas pacifiques…

Un million de manifestants, pour 24 millions de Syriens, c’est rien… nous défendons les civils… pourquoi ceux qu’on appelle l’opposition modérée se sont évaporés…

(à propos des barils explosifs, bourrés de TNT et d’éclats d’obus, lancés à l’aveugle par les hélicoptères du régime syrien sur les populations, voire photo ci-jointe) c’est une histoire infantile qu’on continue à répéter en Occident

(si l’ignare s’était donné la peine de se renseigner auprès de son ambassadeur à l’ONU, il aurait appris que dans la résolution 2139, adoptée il y a un an, jour pour jour,

« Le Conseil de sécurité… exige également que toutes les parties mettent immédiatement fin à toutes attaques contre les civils, ainsi qu’à l’emploi sans discrimination d’armes dans des zones peuplées, tels que les tirs d’obus et les bombardements aériens, tels que l’emploi de barils d’explosifs, et de méthodes de guerre qui sont de nature à causer des maux superflus ou des souffrances inutiles »)

Je n’ai pas entendu parler que l’armée (syrienne) utilise des barils ou des cocottes-minute (rire bête, et pourtant l’armée du régime de Bachar el-Assad est accusée, par le Réseau syrien des droits de l’homme, d’avoir largué 5 150 de ces engins meurtriers depuis octobre 2012)…

Si vous voulez parler de victimes (collatérales des barils explosifs), c’est la guerre, on ne peut pas avoir de guerre sans victimes (on estime que 12 194 personnes ont été tuées par les barils d’explosifs du régime alaouite syrien)… comment peut-on tuer sa population et avoir son soutien en même temps, ce n’est pas logique

(96 % des victimes des barils explosifs du régime syrien étaient des civils, 50 % des femmes et des enfants… (il était question de l’usage de barils explosifs dans la question, afin que son régime montre qu’il peut faire partie de la solution et non du problème) vous nous demandez d’arrêter de remplir notre devoir et de défendre nos compatriotes contre les terroristes… (« vous n’avez pas mené les attaques chimiques de Ghouta ? »), définitivement, non…

le nombre de victimes a été exagéré dans les médias (l’implication de son régime dans la mort de près de 1 500 personnes le 21 août 2013, ne fait pas l’ombre d’un doute comme je l’ai détaillé dans plusieurs articles consacrés à ce sujet)…

nous ne pouvons pas nous allier à des pays qui soutiennent le terrorisme (coalition arabo-occidentale qui bombarde Daech depuis le mois d’août 2015), parce que nous combattons le terrorisme (le régime affronte en priorité l’Armée syrienne libre)…

La société saoudienne est plus disposée à accepter Daech (à l’entendre il n’y a aucun Syrien avec Daech, les djihadistes viennent tous de l’étranger)…

Nous sommes informés avant que la campagne (de frappes aériennes de la coalition) ne commence, mais pas des détails (mais soi-disant les coalisés soutiennent les terroristes !)… Il n’y a pas de dialogues (avec la coalition) mais des informations…

(Sur la question à savoir s’il fait connaitre quelque chose à la coalition) Quand nous faisons quelque chose sur notre territoire, nous ne demandons et nous n’en parlons à personne (très grand sourire, manifestement il était très fier de sa réponse alors que les F-16 franchissaient le mur du son peu de temps auparavant)…

Oui elles (les frappes) pourraient avoir quelques bénéfices (pour le régime) si elles étaient plus sérieuses et plus efficaces… dans la plupart des cas, les civils ont quitté les zones contrôlées par les rebelles pour venir dans les nôtres

(sourire ; le journaliste lui fait quand même remarqué que si les civils viennent se réfugier dans les zones du régime, c’est parce que les zones contrôlées par les rebelles sont massivement bombardées, notamment par des armes non-conventionnelles comme les barils explosifs)…

Lorsque un organisme (de l’ONU) ou une organisation (ONG) dit quelque chose sur nous, cela ne signifie pas que c’est véridique… (à la question de savoir s’il se considère chanceux d’être encore là alors que la Syrie est détruite et meurtrie, et qu’il a une certaine responsabilité dans ce désastre) d’après la Constitution et votre éthique de travail, il faut protéger votre pays quand il est sous attaque…

Pourquoi voulez-vous que nous bombardons les écoles et tuer des enfants et des étudiants… encore une fois, c’est une chose d’avoir des victimes collatérales dans une guerre et de prendre pour cible les écoles… (« qu’est-ce qui vous empêcherait de dormir ? ») beaucoup de raisons, celles qui pourraient affecter tout être humain, la vie… (« avez-vous pensé à ces victimes ? »)

C’est quelque chose que nous vivons tous les jours, que ces victimes soient de l’opposition ou des supporteurs… nous le vivons dans la douleur ». Eh bien, disons que la douleur de ce tyran schizophrène et amnésique, à la langue de bois bien pendue, doit être terrible sachant qu’à ce jour, 210 000 Syriens sont morts, 10 000 000 de personnes ont quitté leurs foyers, 1 500 000 se sont réfugiés au Liban, la plus part se trouvant dans des conditions misérables.

Toujours est-il que Bachar el-Assad peut qualifier l’intervention turque de ce weekend « d’agression flagrante », force est de constater que son régime, bien que soutenu par l’autiste qui s’ignore, Vladimir Poutine (selon un rapport sérieux de l’Ecole de guerre de la Marine américaine), est aujourd’hui réduit à prendre connaissance de l’imbroglio irano-libano-israélien de Quneitra et de l’opération turque de Şah Fırat, dans la presse (enfin, presque !), de s’enterrer six pieds sous terre et de regarder ses chaussures et boucher ses oreilles au passage des avions de la coalition arabo-occidentale au-dessus de sa tête.

Ainsi, quand des forces étrangères, comme l’Iran, le Hezbollah, Israël, la Turquie, les Etats-Unis, la Jordanie et l’Arabie saoudite, j’en passe et des meilleures, agissent comme bon leur semble en Syrie, alors il faut croire que le régime qui prétend contrôler ce pays, est bel et bien fini. Sa chute n’est qu’une question de temps, même si ce dernier se montre hélas, extensible. (Ce refrain de temps compte est etourdissant)


Secret Chicago ‘black site’

“CIA or Gestapo tactics”? (actually the Gestapo inherited its tactics from the Brits)

‘You’re a hostage. It’s kidnapping’

The US Department of Justice and embattled mayor Rahm Emanuel are under mounting pressure to investigate allegations of what one politician called “CIA or Gestapo tactics” at a secretive Chicago police facility exposed by the Guardian.

Politicians and civil-rights groups across the US expressed shock upon hearing descriptions of off-the-books interrogation at Homan Square, the Chicago warehouse that multiple lawyers and one shackled-up protester likened to a US counter-terrorist black site in a Guardian investigation published this week.

As a second person came forward to the Guardian detailing her own story of being “held hostage” inside Homan Square without access to an attorney or an official public record of her detention by Chicago police, officials and activists said the allegations merited further inquiry and risked aggravating wounds over community policing and race that have reached as high as the White House.

Caught in the swirl of questions around the complex – still active on Wednesday – was majority in a contest that has seen debate over police tactics take a central role.

Emanuel’s office refused multiple requests for comment from the Guardian on Wednesday, referring a reporter to an unspecific denial from the Chicago police.

But Luis Gutiérrez, the influential Illinois congressman whose shifting support for Emanuel was expected to secure Tuesday’s election, joined a chorus of colleagues in asking for more information about Homan Square.

“I had not heard about the story until I read about it in the Guardian,” Gutiérrez said late Wednesday.

“I want to get more information, but if the allegations are true, it sounds outrageous.”

Congressman Danny Davis, a Democrat who represents the Chicago west-side neighbourhood where Homan Square is located, said he was “terribly saddened” to hear of the allegations.

Davis said he “would certainly strongly support an investigation” by the US Department of Justice, as two former senior justice department civil-rights officials urged the department on Wednesday to launch.

Earlier in the day, as a county commissioner urged the top law-enforcement investigators in the country to do the same, another reporter and photographer waited to accompany him on a visit outside the premises of Homan Square.

A man, in a jumpsuit and a ski mask, pulled out of the Homan Square parking lot in an SUV and made multiple circles before coming to a stop.

“You can take a picture,” said the man, who refused to give his name and then offered what he considered a joke: “We are all CIA, right?”

Homan Square 2

This man circled around a reporter and photographer for the Guardian twice while waiting for a local politician. Photograph: Chandler West for the Guardian

Outside the red-brick Homan Square compound on Wednesday, a young mother ushered her two children to the sidewalk on West Fillmore Avenue. “I am at the police station,” she yelled into her phone, over traffic noise. “Can I call you back?”

The woman held her children close, shivering against the wind as plain-clothes officers and pedestrians scurried across the busy four-way intersection.

Until this week, the Cook County commissioner Richard Boykin only knew of the warehouse next-door – like the mother – as a police facility in a struggling Chicago neighbourhood.

“I hadn’t heard of the sort of CIA or Gestapo tactics that were mentioned in the Guardian article until it was brought to my attention,” Boykin said in an interview outside Homan Square. “And we are calling for the Department of Justice to open an investigation into these allegations.”

The Guardian reported on Tuesday that police in Chicago detain suspects at Homan Square without booking them, thereby preventing their relatives and lawyers from knowing their whereabouts, reminiscent in the eyes of some lawyers and civil-rights activists of a CIA black site.

While people are held at Homan Square, which lawyers described as a process that often lasted between 12 and 24 hours, several attorneys said they had been refused access to the facility, and described entrance to it as a rare occurrence. One man interviewed by the Guardian said that ahead of a Nato protest in 2012, he was handcuffed to a bar behind bench for 17 hours inside Homan Square and refused a phone call before police finally permitted him to see his attorney.

“You are just kind of held hostage,” Suter told the Guardian. “The inability to see a lawyer is a drastic departure from what we consider our constitutional rights. Not being able to have that phone call, the lack of booking, makes it so that when you’re there, you understand that no one knows where you are.”

Boykin, the county commissioner, looked up at the warehouse and said that a potential US justice department investigation would be “an extension of reform – making sure people’s basic rights are not violated but that they have opportunity to counsel”.

“It’s one thing to quell demonstration and protests,” Boykin said, “but it’s another thing to use antiquated Gestapo tactics that are more commonly found in parts of the underdeveloped world or in places like China or Russia.”

“Not in America.”

Obama’s task force on improving police relations in the wake of the shooting of the unarmed teenager Michael Brown six months ago in Ferguson, Missouri, was expected to release its first set of recommendations on community policing as soon as Monday.

The third anniversary of the killing of unarmed teenager teenager Trayvon Martin is Thursday, two days after a Department of Justice civil-rights investigation brought no charges against George Zimmerman, the neighbourhood watchman who shot him dead.

‘I thought we were making progress’

Scott Waguespack, the alderman of Chicago’s 32nd ward, said he, too, was unaware of potential abuses at the Homan Square warehouse until he read the Guardian’s investigation this week.

During the 2012 Nato summit, he said, Chicago police officials told local politicians that arrestees would end up bussed to the department’s Belmont district precinct on the city’s West Side, and not Homan. “That’s where we assumed they went,” he told a third Guardian reporter.

Waguespack claimed meaningful police reform has stalled under Emanuel, citing the mayor’s failure to pass a city ordinance designed to enforce more oversight to the controversial police oversight board, as well as inconsistencies in crime statistics.

The alderman said the “best thing” that the “next mayor” of Chicago could do about the Homan Square allegations was bring in federal investigators: “Then the civil rights division of the justice department can say: ‘Here’s how we scrutinized it’.”

The Guardian sent a list of detailed questions about Homan Square to Emanuel’s office on Wednesday. A spokesman for the mayor referred a fourth reporter to a Chicago police department statement issued to multiple media outlets on Tuesday, and declined to return multiple calls seeking clarification.

“If lawyers have a client detained at Homan Square, just like any other facility, they are allowed to speak to and visit them,” the statement reads, without elaborating on when those meetings take place. “There are always records of anyone who is arrested by CPD, and this is not any different at Homan Square,” the statement continues, without addressing specifics as to how or when those records are logged.

Amnesty International USA has called for the mayor to open his own “independent and impartial investigation” into the Homan Square facility, with the human-rights group requesting “unrestricted access” to the site.

In a letter to Emanuel, Amnesty USA’s executive director Steven Hawkins wrote: “As the mayor of Chicago, you have a responsibility under US and international law to ensure that human rights violations are not committed within the city.”

The group lobbied Emanuel during the mayoral campaign to commit to a program of reparations for victims of abuse between 1972 and 1991 at the hands Jon Burge, the notorious former Chicago police commander who was released from home custody this month.

Emanuel has not made a financial commitment to reparations but has promised a route to “closure” for the surviving victims.

“It is his responsibility as the mayor of Chicago, as a public figure to make sure that his city is complying with international law,” Amnesty USA’s senior campaigner, Jasmine Heiss, told the Guardian. “Because without a clear commitment to addressing things like police torture, it gives torturers the go ahead to continue to undermine the rule of law and ignore international guidelines.”

A representative for the Chicago branch of the American Civil Liberties Union said the group was gathering facts about Homan Square as well.

Jesús “Chuy” Garcia, the county commissioner challenging Emanuel in an April runoff vote that local political watchers warned could become a national “free-for-all”, did not respond to multiple requests for comment after a separate Guardian interview on Monday.

But his colleague, Boykin, said the mayor had an obligation to find more answers. “Fifty-plus percent of the people voted against the mayor yesterday,” Boykin said outside Homan Square. “I think the mayor has a problem.”

Davis, the US congressman whose west-side offices were located near Homan Square for 15 years, said the activities alleged at Homan Square potentially “undermined and torn up” efforts to promote police as “positive role models”.

“One of the things that for many years some of us, people like myself, have been working on [is] to try and help foster a different sense of what law enforcement ought to be among people and especially young people as they are growing up,” Davis said.

Karl Brinson, president of the Chicago Westside Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the NAACP was attempting “to find out what’s going on” at Homan Square.

“We knew the facility was there, but we didn’t know what all it encompassed exactly and what was taking place there,” he told the Guardian. “You’re never going to build trust with anybody or get any kind of community relationships going on while doing this.”

The justice department declined to comment to the Guardian on Wednesday.

(The spouse of Guardian US national security editor Spencer Ackerman works in the press office of Amnesty International USA. Ackerman was not involved with the group in any reporting for this article.)

Live and let live? And the power of Ego?  February 27, 2015

This power that I have a mind of my own?

Believing in one God of several Gods or Demigods who created and organized this universe is not any more difficult to fathom than the myriad of ways people behave, think and reflect as they grow up.

If mankind was so limited in his behaviour, then studying man would have been as straightforward and simple as studying the laws of nature.

All you had to do is to control efficiently and as accurately the few variables we research to affect a particular behaviour.

In all the critical questions such as death, what after death, birth, how we survived the infantile stage and live to long age, how mankind managed to exist, does a God or several exist… the only main factor of interest to each one of us is “And my Ego? Where is my Ego in the equation?”

I should tend carefully and assiduously to the status of my Ego in all your discussions.

Nothing is of value if my Ego was not given its full weight and its vast contribution to mankind and the sustainable activity for a renewable nature.

Isn’t this your main concern?

Even if I died and nobody knew that I died or what I may have contributed to any kinds of community, I still insist that want my Ego in the equation.

And the more incognito I existed, the louder and vociferous I am in matter of life, death, contraception, euthanasia, death sentences, abortion, equal rights to all regardless of equal contribution to humanity

Sciences may unveil a few mysteries, but the mysteries do Not necessarily cease to be miracles.

The highest miracle of all is to have lived long enough to grow to think that I acquired a mind of my own, a set of values of my own, and that I can survive, away from my parents and my close community.

Live and let live means: Never believe that you have the right to be blunt and cruel to disprove an individual that he indeed cannot have a mind of his own.

The lot of the living is a continuous stream of pains, suffering, depression, affliction, in nature “Red in tooth and claws”, and our violent behaviour toward others.

And here is the puzzle:

Either the Gods cannot abolish Evil or they will not.

If God cannot, he is Not all powerful.

If God will not, he is not all that good.

Either God is not all powerful or he is not all goodness.

I tend to side with the statement: God is not that powerful and does not wish it to be.

For all those insisting on the existence of a God by necessity, at least refrain from substituting your abstract concepts of rightfulness when acting or judging the behaviour of others.



Jon Stewart slams media for missing the point when reporting the Bill O’Reilly and other’s lies (VIDEO)

Jon Stewart started the skit by playing clips of the media reporting on the controversy about Bill O’Reilly‘s claim of being a war correspondent in Argentina.

Jon Stewart was taken aback that the media would concentrate on Bill O’Reilly’s embellishment of his ‘war career.

Why would the media concentrate on an embellishment? Why not concentrate on the daily lies he tells to his audience about things that matter.

Jo Stewart showed a great irony with the current state of reporting by the traditional mainstream media.

Why this is not immediately obvious to reporters and producers is concerning.

“Misrepresenting the zone he is in is kind of his hook,” said Jon Stewart. “You are in the no spin zone are the words he utters right before throwing some jackass who disproves Global Warming by wandering around Boston pointing at snow on a network whose slogan (Fair & Balanced) is a textbook case of trolling.

No one is watching them for the actual truth.

You are basically putting in a tremendous amount of work to say the emperor has no clothes. When the emperor has spent like 20 years going, ‘Look at my d!ck. I am naked.‘”

Jon Stewart then used clips of the ‘he said she said’ response from news correspondents to show a level of immaturity and irresponsibility that one finds at the core from those who give us the news.

It did little to preserve the credibility of the media.

Stewart then show a clip of VA Secretary Robert McDonald lying about the unit he served with as a manner of reaching out to a homeless veteran. The media ran with that story as well.

The most probing question Stewart asked should give us pause. Why is an inconsequential fib to reach out to a homeless veteran be the story?

Shouldn’t the story be that a Special Forces veteran is homeless in the rich country? On Bill O’Reilly, shouldn’t the story be that he lies to his audience on a daily basis and as such is responsible for millions of Americans being misinformed?

Stewart then showed many stories of consequence that somehow fell through the cracks specifically because the media concentrated on the superficial instead of the real story.

This is the state of much of our traditional mainstream media.


Monster black hole discovered at cosmic dawn

Scientists have discovered the brightest quasar in the early universe, powered by the most massive black hole yet known at that time.

The international team led by astronomers from Peking University in China and from the University of Arizona announce their findings in the scientific journal Nature on Feb. 26.

The discovery of this quasar, named SDSS J0100+2802, marks an important step in understanding how quasars, the most powerful objects in the universe, have evolved from the earliest epoch, only 900 million years after the Big Bang, which is thought to have happened 13.7 billion years ago.

The quasar, with its central black hole mass of 12 billion solar masses and the luminosity of 420 trillion suns, is at a distance of 12.8 billion light-years from Earth.

The discovery of this ultraluminous quasar also presents a major puzzle to the theory of black hole growth at early universe, according to Xiaohui Fan, Regents’ Professor of Astronomy at the UA’s Steward Observatory, who co-authored the study.

“How can a quasar so luminous, and a black hole so massive, form so early in the history of the universe, at an era soon after the earliest stars and galaxies have just emerged?” Fan said. “And what is the relationship between this monster black hole and its surrounding environment, including its host galaxy?

“This ultraluminous quasar with its supermassive black hole provides a unique laboratory to the study of the mass assembly and galaxy formation around the most massive in the early universe.”

The quasar dates from a time close to the end of an important cosmic event that astronomers referred to as the “epoch of reionization”: the cosmic dawn when light from the earliest generations of galaxies and quasars is thought to have ended the “cosmic dark ages” and transformed the universe into how we see it today.

Discovered in 1963, quasars are the most powerful objects beyond our Milky Way galaxy, beaming vast amounts of energy across space as the in their center sucks in matter from its surroundings. Thanks to the new generation of digital sky surveys, astronomers have discovered more than 200,000 quasars, with ages ranging from 0.7 billion years after the Big Bang to today.

The newly discovered quasar SDSS J0100+2802 is the one with the most massive black hole and the highest luminosity among all known distant quasars. The background photo, provided by Yunnan Observatory, shows the dome of the 2.4meter telescope …more

Shining with the equivalent of 420 trillion suns, the new quasar is seven times brighter than the most distant quasar known (which is 13 billion years away). It harbors a black hole with mass of 12 billion solar masses, proving it to be the most luminous quasar with the most among all the known high redshift (very distant) quasars.

“By comparison, our own Milky Way galaxy has a black hole with a mass of only 4 million at its center; the black hole that powers this new quasar is 3,000 time heavier,” Fan said.

Feige Wang, a doctoral student from Peking University who is supervised jointly by Fan and Prof. Xue-Bing Wu at Peking University, the study’s lead author, initially spotted this quasar for further study.

“This quasar was first discovered by our 2.4-meter Lijiang Telescope in Yunnan, China, making it the only quasar ever discovered by a 2-meter telescope at such distance, and we’re very proud of it,” Wang said.

“The ultraluminous nature of this quasar will allow us to make unprecedented measurements of the temperature, ionization state and metal content of the intergalactic medium at the epoch of reionization.”

Following the initial discovery, two telescopes in southern Arizona did the heavy lifting in determining the distance and mass of the black hole: the 8.4-meter Large Binocular Telescope, or LBT, on Mount Graham and the 6.5-meter Multiple Mirror Telescope, or MMT, on Mount Hopkins. Additional observations with the 6.5-meter Magellan Telescope in Las Campanas Observatory, Chile, and the 8.2-meter Gemini North Telescope in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, confirmed the results.

“This quasar is very unique,” said Xue-Bing Wu, a professor of the Department of Astronomy, School of Physics at Peking University and the associate director of the Kavli Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics. “Just like the brightest lighthouse in the distant universe, its glowing light will help us to probe more about the early universe.”

Wu leads a team that has developed a method to effectively select quasars in the distant universe based on optical and near-infrared photometric data, in particular using data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Explorer, or WISE, satellite.

“This is a great accomplishment for the LBT,” said Fan, who chairs the LBT Scientific Advisory Committee and also discovered the previous record holders for the most massive black hole in the , about a fourth of the size of the newly discovered object.

“The especially sensitive optical and infrared spectrographs of the LBT provided the early assessment of both the distance of the quasars and the mass of the black hole at the quasar’s center.”

For Christian Veillet, director of the Large Binocular Telescope Observatory, or LBTO, this discovery demonstrates both the power of international collaborations and the benefit of using a variety of facilities spread throughout the world.

“This result is particularly gratifying for LBTO, which is well on its way to full nighttime operations,” Veillet said. “While in this case the authors used two different instruments in series, one for visible light spectroscopy and one for near-infrared imaging, LBTO will soon offer a pair of instruments that can be used simultaneously, effectively doubling the number of observations possible in clear skies and ultimately creating even more exciting science.”

To further unveil the nature of this remarkable quasar, and to shed light on the physical processes that led to the formation of the earliest supermassive black holes, the research team will carry out further investigations on this quasar with more international telescopes, including the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Telescope

Read more at:




Who is ‘Jihadi John’? This Londoner Islamic State slaughterer?

LONDON — The world knows him as “Jihadi John,” the masked man with a British accent who has beheaded several US hostages held by the Islamic State and who taunts audiences in videos circulated widely online.

‘Jihadi John’: Islamic State killer is identified as Londoner Mohammed Emwazi

The Islamic State member who beheaded Western hostages and appeared in widely circulated videos has been identified as Mohammed Emwazi, a young Londoner who was born in Kuwait. (Via AFP/Getty Images)

February 26, 2015

But his real name, according to friends and others familiar with his case, is Mohammed Emwazi, a Briton from a well-to-do family who grew up in West London and graduated from college with a degree in computer programming.

He is believed to have traveled to Syria around 2012 and to have later joined the Islamic State, the group whose barbarity he has come to symbolize.

“I have no doubt that Mohammed is Jihadi John,” said one of Emwazi’s close friends who identified him in an interview with The Washington Post. “He was like a brother to me. . . . I am sure it is him.”

[View: The atrocities of the Islamic State]

A representative of a British human rights group who had been in contact with Emwazi before he left for Syria also said he believed Emwazi was Jihadi John, a moniker given to him by some of the hostages he once held.

Scores of hostages, including Westerners, have been killed by the Islamic State since 2014.

Here are some of the major incidents where the Islamic State killed the hostages.

“There was an extremely strong resemblance,” Asim Qureshi, research director at the rights group, CAGE, said after watching one of the videos. “This is making me feel fairly certain that this is the same person.”

Authorities have used a variety of investigative techniques, including voice analysis and interviews with former hostages, to try to identify Jihadi John.

James B. Comey, the director of the FBI, said in September — only a month after the Briton was seen in a video killing American journalist James Foley — that officials believed they had succeeded.

[Read: Reaction to an identity revealed]

Nevertheless, the identity of Jihadi John has remained shrouded in secrecy.

Since Foley’s killing, he has appeared in a series of videos documenting the gruesome killings of other hostages, including four other Westerners, some of whom he personally beheaded.

[Read: The tactics of Islamic State beheadings]

In each, he is dressed in all black, a balaclava covering all but his eyes and the ridge of his nose. He wears a holster under his left arm.

A spokeswoman for the British Embassy in Washington said:

“Our prime minister has been clear that we want all those who have committed murder on behalf of ISIL to face justice for the appalling acts carried out. There is an ongoing police investigation into the murder of hostages by ISIL in Syria. It is not appropriate for the government to comment on any part of it while this continues.” ISIL is another name for the Islamic State.

Map: Flow of foreign fighters to Syria

U.S. officials declined to comment for this report. Emwazi’s family declined a request for an interview, citing legal advice.

The Kuwaiti-born Emwazi, in his mid-20s, appears to have left little trail on social media or elsewhere online. Those who knew him say he was polite and had a penchant for wearing stylish clothes while adhering to the tenets of his Islamic faith. He had a beard and was mindful of making eye contact with women, friends said.

He was raised in a middle-class neighborhood in London and on occasion prayed at a mosque in Greenwich.

The friends, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation, believe that Emwazi started to radicalize after a planned safari in Tanzania following his graduation from the University of Westminster.

Emwazi and two friends — a German convert to Islam named Omar and another man, Abu Talib — never made it on the trip.

Once they landed in Dar es Salaam, in May 2009, they were detained by police and held overnight. It’s unclear whether the reason for the detention was made clear to the three, but they were eventually deported.

Emwazi flew to Amsterdam, where he claimed that an officer from MI5, Britain’s domestic security agency, accused him of trying to reach Somalia, where the militant group al-Shabab operates in the southern part of the country, according to e-mails that he sent to Qureshi and that were provided to The Post.

[Read: A Brooklyn mother’s struggle to keep her son from Islamic State]

Emwazi denied the accusation and claimed that MI5 representatives had tried to recruit him. But a former hostage said Jihadi John was obsessed with Somalia and made his captives watch videos about al-Shabab, which is allied with al-Qaeda.

The episode was described in the Independent, a British newspaper, which identified Emwazi as Muhammad ibn Muazzam.

Emwazi and his friends were allowed to return to Britain, where he met with Qureshi in the fall of 2009 to discuss what had happened. “Mohammed was quite incensed by his treatment, that he had been very unfairly treated,” Qureshi said.

Shortly afterward, Emwazi decided to move to his birthplace, Kuwait, where he landed a job working for a computer company, according to the e-mails he wrote to Qureshi. He came back to London twice, the second time to finalize his wedding plans to a woman in Kuwait.

In June 2010, however, counterterrorism officials in Britain detained him again — this time fingerprinting him and searching his belongings. When he tried to fly back to Kuwait the next day, he was prevented from doing so.

“I had a job waiting for me and marriage to get started,” he wrote in a June 2010 e-mail to Qureshi. But now “I feel like a prisoner, only not in a cage, in London. A person imprisoned & controlled by security service men, stopping me from living my new life in my birthplace & country, Kuwait.”

Nearly four months later, when a court in New York sentenced Aafia Siddiqui, an al-Qaeda operative convicted for the attempted murder of U.S. personnel in Afghanistan, Emwazi expressed sympathy for her, saying he had “heard the upsetting news regarding our sister. . . . This should only keep us firmer towards fighting for freedom and justice!!!”

In the interview, Qureshi said he last heard from Emwazi in January 2012, when Emwazi sent him an e-mail seeking advice.

“This is a young man who was ready to exhaust every single kind of avenue within the machinery of the state to bring a change for his personal situation,” Qureshi said.

In the end, he felt “actions were taken to criminalize him and he had no way to do something against these actions.”

Close friends of Emwazi’s also said his situation in London had made him desperate to leave the country. It’s unclear exactly when he reached Syria or how.

One friend said he believed Emwazi wanted to travel to Saudi Arabia to teach English in 2012 but was unsuccessful. Soon afterward, the friend said, he was gone.

“He was upset and wanted to start a life elsewhere,” one of the friends said. “He at some stage reached the point where he was really just trying to find another way to get out.”

Once in Syria, Emwazi contacted his family and at least one of his friends. It’s unclear what he told them about his activities there.

A former hostage who was debriefed by officials upon release said that Jihadi John was part of a team guarding Western captives at a prison in Idlib, Syria, in 2013.

The hostages nicknamed the facility “the box.” Emwazi was joined by two other men with British accents, including one who was dubbed “George.” A former hostage said Emwazi participated in the waterboarding of four Western hostages (a technique accepted by the US as legal torture).

Former hostages described George as the leader of the trio. Jihadi John, they said, was quiet and intelligent. “He was the most deliberate,” a former hostage said.

Beginning in early 2014, the hostages were moved to a prison in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital, where they were visited often by the trio. They appeared to have taken on more powerful roles within the Islamic State.

About the same time, Qureshi said, he sent an e-mail to Emwazi.

“I was wondering if you could send me your number,” he wrote. “Inshallah [God willing] it will be good to catch up.”

There was no response.

Goldman reported from Washington. Julie Tate in Washington and Griff Witte and Karla Adam in London contributed to this report.




February 2015

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