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In the Syria We Don’t Know

A young woman in Damascus produced a smart phone from her handbag and asked, “May I show you something?” The phone’s screen displayed a sequence of images. The first was a family photograph of a sparsely bearded young man in his twenties. Beside him were two boys, who appeared to be five and six, in T-shirts. The young man and his sons were smiling. Pointing at the father, the woman said, “This is my cousin.” The next picture, unlike the first, came from the Internet. It was the same young man, but his head was severed. Beside him lay five other men in their twenties whose bloody heads were similarly stacked on their chests. I looked away.

Her finger skimmed the screen, revealing another photo of her cousin that she insisted I see. His once happy face had been impaled on a metal spike. The spike was one of many in a fence enclosing a public park in Raqqa, a remote provincial capital on the Euphrates River in central Syria. Along the fence were other decapitated heads that children had to pass on their way to the playground.

via In the Syria We Don’t Know by Charles Glass — www.nybooks.com.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2014 in Middle East

 

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Edward Snowden and the Golden Age of Spying

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Call me moved. I recently went to the premiere of Citizenfour, Laura Poitras's engrossing new film on Edward Snowden, at the New York Film Festival. The breaking news at film's end: as speculation had it this summer, there is indeed at least one new, post-Snowden whistleblower who has come forward from somewhere inside the U.S. intelligence world with information about a watchlist that includes Poitras with "more than 1.2 million names" on it and on the American drone assassination program.Here's what moved me, however. My new book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World, ends with a "Letter to an Unknown Whistleblower," whose first lines are: "I don't know who you are or what you do or how old you may be. I just know that you exist somewhere in our future as surely as does tomorrow or next year... And how exactly do I know this? Because despite our striking inability to predict the future, it’s a no-brainer that the national security state is already building you into its labyrinthine systems.” And now, of course, such a whistleblower is officially here and no matter how fiercely the government may set out after whistleblowers, there will be more. It’s unstoppable, in part thanks to figures like Poitras, who is the subject of today’s TomDispatch interview. Tom]

via TomDispatch.com — www.tomdispatch.com.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2014 in North America

 

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What ‘Democracy’ Really Means in U.S. and New York Times Jargon:

One of the most accidentally revealing media accounts highlighting the real meaning of “democracy” in U.S. discourse is a still-remarkable 2002 New York Times Editorial on the U.S.-backed military coup in Venezuela, which temporarily removed that country’s democratically elected (and very popular) president, Hugo Chávez. Rather than describe that coup as what it was by definition – a direct attack on democracy by a foreign power and domestic military which disliked the popularly elected president – the Times, in the most Orwellian fashion imaginable, literally celebrated the coup as a victory for democracy:

via What ‘Democracy’ Really Means in U.S. and New York Times Jargon: Latin America Edition – The Intercept — firstlook.org.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2014 in North America

 

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Air war a boon for defense contractors

WASHINGTON: The U.S.-led air campaign in Iraq and Syria is proving a boon to weapons makers, sending their share prices soaring and bolstering political support for higher defense spending.

The open-ended air war against ISIS will mean billions in sales for bombs and missiles, spare parts for warplanes and a stronger case for funding sophisticated aircraft, including fighter jets, spy planes and refueling tankers, analysts said.

“It’s the perfect war from a defense contracting standpoint and a defense spending standpoint,” Richard Aboulafia, vice president at the Teal Group consultancy, told AFP.

via Air war a boon for defense contractors — www.dailystar.com.lb.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2014 in Middle East, North America

 

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Climate change: how to make the big polluters really pay

When the call came in that the University of Glasgow had voted to divest its £128m endowment from fossil fuel companies, I happened to be in a room filled with climate activists in Oxford. They immediately broke into cheers. There were lots of hugs and a few tears. This was big – the first university in Europe to make such a move.

The next day there were more celebrations in climate circles: Lego announced it would not be renewing a relationship with Shell Oil, a longtime co-branding deal that saw toddlers filling up their plastic vehicles at toy Shell petrol stations. “Shell is polluting our kids’ imaginations,” a Greenpeace video that went viral declared, attracting more than 6m views. Pressure is building, meanwhile, on the Tate to sever the museum’s longtime relationship with BP.

via ZCommunications » Climate change: how to make the big polluters really pay — zcomm.org.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2014 in Reportages

 

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New hair-brained ideas in the Middle East

Analysts in the United States this week are debating the precise meaning of the statements Wednesday by John Allen, the ex-Marine general who now coordinates the U.S.-led coalition’s response to ISIS. He said that the United States is not coordinating with the Free Syrian Army, and instead plans to develop from scratch new local ground units in Iraq and Syria to fight ISIS on two fronts.

via New hair-brained ideas in the Middle East — www.dailystar.com.lb.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2014 in Middle East

 

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With US-led strikes on Isis intensifying, it’s a good time to be a shareholder in the merchants of death

So who is winning the war? Isis? Us? The Kurds (remember them?) The Syrians? The Iraqis? Do we even remember the war? Not at all. We must tell the truth. So let us now praise famous weapons and the manufacturers that begat them.

via With US-led strikes on Isis intensifying, it’s a good time to be a shareholder in the merchants of death — www.independent.co.uk.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2014 in Middle East

 

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The war nobody can win

While the world’s attention has been fixed on the appalling developments in Syria and Iraq, Libya has quietly mirrored the Levant’s transformation into a proxy battlefield. A tug-of-war has emerged between the country’s two rival governments for control of key institutions, military supremacy, and ultimately legitimacy.Most countries recognise the Tobruk-based House of Representatives HoR as Libya’s legitimate legislature, yet the HoR is haemorrhaging support. It is becoming increasingly marginalised as it hunkers down in its safe house a thousand miles from the capital while domestic support shifts towards Operation Dawn, a Misrata alliance that controls Tripoli and has been able to administer it semi-competently.

via Libya: The war nobody can win — www.aljazeera.com.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2014 in Africa

 

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Solutions to the Israel-Palestine conflict

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2014 in Middle East

 

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The Islamist State

You can’t believe a word the United States or its mainstream media say about the current conflict involving The Islamic State ISIS.You can’t believe a word France or the United Kingdom say about ISIS.You can’t believe a word Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, or the United Arab Emirates say about ISIS. Can you say for sure which side of the conflict any of these mideast countries actually finances, arms, or trains, if in fact it’s only one side? Why do they allow their angry young men to join Islamic extremists? Why has NATO-member Turkey allowed so many Islamic extremists to cross into Syria? Is Turkey more concerned with wiping out the Islamic State or the Kurds under siege by ISIS? Are these countries, or the Western powers, more concerned with overthrowing ISIS or overthrowing the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad?

via The Islamist State — zcomm.org.

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2014 in Middle East

 

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