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« Reply #15195 on: Aug 26, 2014, 06:39 AM »

Armed Groups in Mali Prepare for Peace Talks

by Naharnet Newsdesk
25 August 2014, 17:13

Ethnic Tuareg and Arab militias from Mali are gathering for talks this week in Burkina Faso ahead of peace negotiations with the government, participants said on Monday.

"We want to get together to harmonize our points of view on certain issues before meeting with Bamako (the government)," Mohamaed Ag Assaleh, president of the Coalition of the People for Azawad (CPA), told Agence France Presse.

Discussions among groups that lay claim to a homeland in northern Mali they call Azawad were due to start on Monday, but were delayed until the following day as "some delegations have not yet arrived", he added.

"A large part of our team is already in (Burkina Faso's capital) Ouagadougou, but we are waiting for others," said a source close to the Tuareg National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), one of the main armed movements from the desert north of the vast and poor west African country.

Participants were also expected from "Algeria, Mauritania and even Niger," added the source based in Burkina Faso, stressing that "this is an important meeting for everybody".

Mali's neighbors are particularly concerned about insurgency in the sub-Saharan region by movements linked to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, which operate across borders.

In January 2012, the Tuareg group launched its latest uprising for home rule in northern Mali and radical Islamists leapt on to their bandwagon, supplanting the MNLA which had declared independence for Azawad.

French military intervention from January 2013 played a key role in freeing key towns and forcing the jihadists into desert hideouts. French troops are still on the ground in the former colony.

Peace negotiations between the Bamako government and the various armed movements are due to start in Algiers on September 1, on the basis of a roadmap agreed by the two sides late in July.

The talks in the Algerian capital were delayed from August 17. Since the election of Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, discussions have frequently stalled, while armed groups have carried out deadly raids in the north.


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« Reply #15196 on: Aug 26, 2014, 06:42 AM »

U.N. Expert Condemns 'Appalling' Abuse of Tanzania Albinos

by Naharnet Newsdesk
25 August 2014, 20:09

A U.N. expert Monday condemned the abuse of young albinos in government care centers in Tanzania, a country where many are killed and their body parts sold as lucky charms.

At least 74 albinos have been murdered in the east African country since 2000.

After a spike in killings in 2009, the government placed youngsters in children's homes in a desperate effort to defend them, Alicia Londono, of the U.N. human rights office, told reporters.

"It was a protective measure, and welcome at the beginning," said Londono, who has just returned from an inspection tour in Tanzania.

"But the conditions are appalling. They are overcrowded, hygiene conditions are very poor," she said.

"There are abuses going on in these centers, cases of sexual abuse," she added.

Out of Tanzania's 23 children's homes, 13 host albino youngsters, according to U.N. figures.

Londono said that all too often the children were forcibly removed from their families, and lose all contact with them.

"They are really a neglected population, they are not considered in many places as human beings," she explained.

Segregating albinos from the wider community was not the answer, she said.

But shutting the center would put the children at the mercy of sorcerers and traffickers, she claimed. Instead, it was crucial to improve conditions in the centers, she said.

Londono noted that the perpetrators of crimes against albinos were rarely punished in Tanzania or in other countries in Africa's Great Lakes region.

A hereditary genetic condition which causes a total absence of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes, albinism affects one Tanzanian in 1,400, often as a result of inbreeding, said Londono.

In the West, it affects just one person in 20,000.

Londono warned that attacks were on the rise because Tanzania's October 2015 presidential election was on the horizon, encouraging political campaigners to turn to influential sorcerers for support.

Albino body parts sell for around $600 in Tanzania, with an entire corpse fetching $75,000, she said.


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« Reply #15197 on: Aug 26, 2014, 06:44 AM »

Nigerian Troops Flee Boko Haram across Border

by Naharnet Newsdesk
26 August 2014, 08:01

Hundreds of Nigerian soldiers fled across the border to neighboring Cameroon because of fears of attack from Boko Haram Islamists, Cameroon security sources told Agence France Presse on Monday.

"Some 500 Nigerian soldiers took refuge in the far north (of Cameroon) on Sunday," said a police officer stationed in the region. "They fled because they feared an attack by Boko Haram.

"They arrived with all their weapons (pick-up trucks and armored vehicles)," added the officer, who asked not to be named.

Boko Haram has shown an increasing ability to strike almost at will in northeast Nigeria, where it wants to create a hardline Islamic state, with apparently little or no resistance from the military.

In recent weeks it has claimed to have taken over several towns and on Monday launched an attack on the border town of Gamboru Ngala, sending thousands of residents fleeing across the frontier.

Soldiers were said to have been among those fleeing, residents said.

Cameroon soldiers were deployed to the border on Monday to prevent the militants reaching Fotokol.

The police officer said some of the soldiers who arrived on Sunday were stationed in Ashigashya and had traveled across Borno state to meet up with their comrades in Kerawa.

But they were forced into Cameroonian territory because Kerawa came under fire.

He added that the troops were taken to the regional capital of northern Cameroon, Maroua, and were heading back to Nigeria.

A Cameroon army official said by telephone that "more than 450 Nigerian soldiers" had taken shelter in Cameroon but declined to comment further.

Nigeria's military earlier dismissed suggestions that the soldiers had fled and instead said they had been "charging through the borders in a tactical maneuver" and found themselves on Cameroonian soil.


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« Reply #15198 on: Aug 26, 2014, 06:46 AM »

An Intensifying Presidential Campaign Brings Tension to Brazil’s Markets

By SIMON ROMERO
AUG. 25, 2014
IHT

RIO DE JANEIRO — As Brazil absorbs the shock over a plane crash that killed a presidential contender this month and upended an increasingly combative race, another source of tumult may emerge as some banks, hedge funds and other big investors raise their bets against the leftist incumbent, President Dilma Rousseff.

With the campaign intensifying before the first round of voting on Oct. 5, this volatility is evident in the wide swings in Brazil’s financial markets. Shares of some of Brazil’s largest companies, for instance, have plunged when Ms. Rousseff has climbed in public opinion surveys, while Brazil’s currency, the real, has strengthened against the dollar as her opponents have risen in the polls.

The tension in the markets is accentuating the strain between Ms. Rousseff and many in the country’s business establishment, revealing a debate over development priorities and who should benefit from Brazil’s natural resources as authorities grapple with a sluggish economy.

Ms. Rousseff is expanding the sway of huge state-controlled banks and energy companies while promoting antipoverty projects and imposing controls on energy prices to keep inflation from climbing. Her opponents contend that these policies are curbing growth, heightening the reliance of many companies on loans from state banks and delaying a rise in inflation until after the presidential elections.

“There’s a lack of humility and self-criticism in the government over policies which are blatantly incompetent,” said Rogério Freitas, a partner at Teórica Investimentos, a Brazilian hedge fund. “The results speak for themselves with an economy in stagnation, but to make things scarier the authorities are trying to limit dissent among those who are simply stating the obvious.”

The strained ties between Ms. Rousseff’s government and the markets were recently exposed when the Brazilian subsidiary of Santander, the large Spanish bank, issued a report to wealthy clients saying that recent market gains could be reversed if Ms. Rousseff’s chances of winning re-election grew stronger.

The president reacted furiously, describing the Santander report as “unacceptable” interference in Brazil’s financial system. Santander promptly fired the analyst who wrote the report and issued a public apology, raising concerns over reprisals against others who criticize Ms. Rousseff.

Such clashes stand in contrast to the close relationship her political mentor and predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, cultivated with the financial sector during much of his presidency. When the economy grew by 7.5 percent in 2010, Mr. da Silva’s last year in office, Brazil was widely lauded for combining poverty reduction with rapid growth that benefited big banks and other investors.

Since then, Ms. Rousseff has expanded an array of social welfare programs even as Brazil’s boom fizzled, producing four straight years of weak growth and an economy characterized by abandoned or stalled megaprojects backed by state banks.

Central bank data now suggests the economy is contracting, potentially bolstering Ms. Rousseff’s top opponents, Aécio Neves of the centrist Social Democrats, who has vowed to undo many of the president’s economic policies, and Marina Silva, the environmental leader chosen last week to run in place of Eduardo Campos, who was killed in the crash of his campaign plane this month.

In an interview in Brasília, the capital, in early June, Ms. Rousseff hit back at her critics, pointing out that antipoverty projects had shielded many low-income Brazilians from the brunt of the economic slowdown since 2010 and pulled millions into the middle class after her Workers Party came to power in 2003.

She had especially harsh words for Mr. Neves, whose party held power in Brazil from 1994 to 2002 and introduced a stabilization program that radically restructured the economy. The measures vanquished galloping inflation, opening the way for the next decade’s growth.

Still, some economists on the left, including Ms. Rousseff, say that scant attention was paid then to cutting inequality. “He’s going to do what they did when his party was in power: unemployment, recession and the tightening of salaries,” Ms. Rousseff said of Mr. Neves. “Look at the data since 2003, and you see the more virtuous reality of Brazil.”

Unemployment in Brazil remains near record lows, and controls on energy prices have kept inflation in check.

But as Ms. Rousseff reinforces a model of state capitalism that grants exceptional influence to the oil giant Petrobras and other national companies, executives at some of Brazil’s largest private corporations are fuming.

“Only someone who is crazy would invest in Brazil,” Benjamin Steinbruch, the president of one of the country’s largest steel makers and the leader of São Paulo’s powerful Federation of Industries, an industry group, said this month at a business conference.

But in a reflection of rising polarization in Brazil, positive public sentiment about Ms. Rousseff among many antipoverty program recipients stands in contrast to the souring views of her government in Brazil’s executive suites and trading floors.

“I think Dilma’s projects are excellent,” said Bárbara Leite, 29, who recently moved from a gritty area on Rio de Janeiro’s outskirts to a new low-income housing complex near the city’s old center, thanks to a program called “My House My Life” that allows people to own subsidized apartments by paying monthly installments as low as $44.

While the selection process involved two years of bureaucratic wrangling, Ms. Leite, who previously had been paying about $220 a month in rent, said it was worth it. Upon moving in, she even received a stipend of about $2,200 to furnish her apartment. “Things have really improved for me,” she said.

Such programs have clearly helped the president maintain her lead in the polls. Still, the campaign has grown more unpredictable since it became clear that Ms. Silva, who broke from the Workers Party in 2009, would enter the race.

Ms. Silva, who grew up as the daughter of impoverished rubber tappers in the Amazon, runs to Ms. Rousseff’s left on environmental issues, but her top economic advisers have hewed to market-friendly proposals such as independence for the central bank, increasing favorable views of her among investors.

Indeed, Brazil’s main stock index has climbed since March on expectations that Ms. Rousseff’s opponents could fare well in the race, raising the possibility that shares could fall sharply if they do not. At the same time, some economists contend that many of the bets against Ms. Rousseff’s candidacy are merely efforts by traders to profit from the election’s volatility.

“The idea that Dilma’s re-election would somehow be the end of Brazil is an exaggeration,” said Nelson Barbosa, a former high-ranking official in the Finance Ministry, referring to the president by her first name, a widespread custom in Brazil. “If she wins, there could still be a gradual adjustment of policies, including the smoothing-out of price controls.”

Many Brazilians who are not benefiting from Ms. Rousseff’s antipoverty programs, however, express indignation over her emphasis on social spending and control of big state companies — another example of how this year’s election is emerging as a test not just of the president but also of her big-government vision for leading Brazil.

“All of these projects make people dependent on them for their entire lives,” said Carlos Eduardo Ildefonso, 31, an English professor at a private university in Cabo Frio, a city near Rio. “I don’t have faith in Dilma’s social policies. Everyone is just tired of the situation as it now stands.”


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« Reply #15199 on: Aug 26, 2014, 06:51 AM »

In Moving Smuggled Letter, Foley Told of Captive Life

by Naharnet Newsdesk
25 August 2014, 20:55

Murdered U.S. hostage James Foley told his parents of his life imprisoned with 17 other captives in a Syrian dungeon, in a moving smuggled letter.

The 40-year-old freelance reporter -- whose death was revealed last week in a video released by militants from the so-called "Islamic State" -- taught a fellow hostage to memorize his message.

The hostage in turn dictated the letter to Foley's parents John and Diane Foley after his release, leaving them with a heart-breaking memento of their son before his brutal end.

In the message, he tells of being imprisoned with a multinational group of IS hostages -- some but not all of them since released -- and of the camaraderie that kept them together through the ordeal.

The letter, as published on the family's Facebook page, recalls how memories of family life growing up in a middle-class New Hampshire family with four siblings kept Foley's spirits up.

It also touches on his faith. A devout Catholic, he says his prayer helps keep him close to his parents.

"I know you are thinking of me and praying for me. And I am so thankful. I feel you all especially when I pray. I pray for you to stay strong and to believe. I really feel I can touch you even in this darkness when I pray," it says.

"Eighteen of us have been held together in one cell, which has helped me. We have had each other to have endless long conversations about movies, trivia, sports," Foley says.

"I have had weak and strong days. We are so grateful when anyone is freed; but of course, yearn for our own freedom. We try to encourage each other and share strength. We are being fed better now and daily. We have tea, occasional coffee. I have regained most of my weight lost last year."

Foley send personal messages to his brothers and sisters and his grandmother, recalling vacations together and happier family times.

"Grammy, please take your medicine, take walks and keep dancing. I plan to take you out to Margarita’s when I get home. Stay strong because I am going to need your help to reclaim my life,"

The 40-year-old reporter, who had covered wars in Afghanistan, Libya and Syria and contributed to GlobalPost, Agence France-Presse and other outlets was seized by armed men in northern Syria in 2012.

**************

Report: British ex-rapper identified as person who beheaded James Foley in ISIS video

By Arturo Garcia
RawStory
Monday, August 25, 2014 17:02 EDT

A 24-year-old former rapper from London was identified as the person who carried out the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley for the extremist group Islamic State (ISIS), USA Today reported on Monday.

British intelligence officials reportedly identified Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary (pictured above, in red baseball cap) through voice-recognition software. Abdel Bary performed under the names “Lyricist Jinn” or “L Jinny.” Bary wrote on his Facebook page in July 2013, that he was abandoning his music career.

“I have left everything for the sake of Allah,” he wrote. In his final post, written this past March, he complained about an article about himself in the Daily Mail, stating, “Pagan newspapers at it again…smh. You got nothing better to write about or you love me?”

The suspect was also referred to as “Jihadi John” in connection with the Aug. 19 video showing Foley’s beheading. Foley had been missing since November 2012. Bary is believed to be one of about 400 to 500 British nationals who have joined Islamic State.

According to The Independent, Abdel Bary posted a picture online earlier this year of himself holding a severed head with the caption, “Chillin’ with my homie or what’s left of him.”

Later in his music career, Bary referenced the extradition of his father, Adel Abdul Bary, from the U.K. to the U.S. two years ago. The elder Bary is believed to have worked as a lieutenant for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, and was taken from the U.K. after being accused of taking part in bombing attacks against two U.S. embassies in east Africa in 1998.

“Give me the pride and the honor like my father, I swear the day they came and took my dad, I could have killed a cop or two,” the younger Bary rapped in “The Prisoner,” which was posted online this past March. “Imagine then I was only six, picture what I’d do now with a loaded stick. Like boom bang fine, I’m wishing you were dead, violate my brothers and I’m filling you with lead.”


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« Reply #15200 on: Aug 26, 2014, 07:14 AM »

In the USA...United Surveillance and Swat Teams of America

Top General Says IS Will 'Soon' Pose Threat to U.S.

by Naharnet Newsdesk 25 August 2014, 20:27

The U.S. military's top general believes Islamic State extremists will "soon" pose a threat to America and Europe and that an international coalition will be needed to confront it, his spokesman said Monday.

U.S. commanders are preparing possible "options" to counter IS jihadists both in Iraq as well as Syria, according to General Martin Dempsey's spokesman, Colonel Ed Thomas.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel adopted a more strident tone last week at a Pentagon news conference, suggesting the IS militants presented a dire threat that surpassed the danger posed by the al-Qaida network. 

But Pentagon officials insisted Hagel and Dempsey shared the same views on the IS.

Dempsey "believes that ISIS (Islamic State) is a regional threat that will soon become a threat to the United States and Europe," Thomas said in a statement.

"He (Dempsey) believes that ISIS must be pressured both in Iraq and in Syria," he added.

"He believes that it will be necessary to form a coalition of capable regional and European partners to confront the ISIS threat so that their cloak of religious legitimacy is stripped away."

Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has consistently portrayed IS as a regional threat that could evolve into a direct threat to the United States and Europe, as foreign fighters with Western passports could try to stage terror attacks.

Dempsey's "current mission is to protect U.S. persons and facilities and that includes, of course, actions necessary to protect the homeland wherever those threats reside," Thomas said.

In consultation with the U.S. Central Command, which oversees American forces in the Middle East, Dempsey "is preparing options to address ISIS both in Iraq and Syria with a variety of military tools including airstrikes," the statement said.

Defeating the jihadists, who have seized territory in Syria and northern and western Iraq, will require "a sustained effort over an extended period of time and much more than just military action," it added.

U.S. warplanes have been carrying out bombing raids in Iraq against the IS militants since August 8, with most of the nearly 100 strikes targeting jihadists in the north near Mosul dam. Iraqi and Kurdish troops have seized back control of the dam since the air attacks began.

The Obama administration has said all options remain open on potential military strikes in Syria, but there has been no decision to go ahead with bombing the extremists there.

****************

Below are just a 'few' articles that I found on one American website in one day about the fact that that country has now become a true police state. Go to any other countries newspapers and see if you can find, in one day, anything remotely comparable to what is happening in America.

**********

Ferguson cop who arrested journalist being sued for tying up and choking 12-year-old boy

By Arturo Garcia
RawStory
Monday, August 25, 2014 21:24 EDT
 
A police officer who arrested a journalist earlier this month in Ferguson, Missouri is also facing a federal civil rights lawsuit for allegedly attacking a 12-year-old boy while working for another department two years ago, the Huffington Post reported.

According to the Post‘s Ashley Alman and Ryan J. Reilly, the lawsuit, filed in September 2012 in a Missouri federal court, accuses Officer Justin Cosma of choking the boy around the neck and throwing him to the ground during a June 2010 encounter.

At the time, Cosma was working as a deputy for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. The lawsuit states that he and his partner, identified as Richard Carter, approached the boy while he was checking his mail outside his home and asked if the boy, identified as “DB” in the suit, was playing on a nearby highway.
When DB replied “no,” the suit states, they threw him to the ground and “hog-tied” him, causing him to suffer “bruising, choke marks, scrapes and cuts across his body.” He later required treatment at a local hospital.

The suit stated that Carter and Cosma subsequently charged the boy with resisting arrest and assaulting a law enforcement officer, but local prosecutors did not pursue a case against him.

The Post reported that the suit was filed not long after Ferguson was introduced as a member of Ferguson’s department at a meeting of the town’s city council. Officials in both Ferguson and Jefferson County have not commented on the lawsuit.

Reilly and Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery were briefly taken into custody by Cosma and other officers on Aug. 13. The two journalists were taken from a McDonald’s where they were working on coverage of the protests spurred on by the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Cosma’s colleague, Officer Darren Wilson. They were released without any charges being brought against them, reportedly on the orders of Chief Thomas Jackson, who was alerted to the arrests by the Los Angeles Times.

Kansas police shot unarmed suicidal teen 16 times as family says they begged them not to

By David Edwards
RawStory
Monday, August 25, 2014 14:05 EDT

Family members of a teen who was shot at least 16 times by police in Ottawa, Kansas said this week that the 18-year-old was unarmed and suicidal when he was gunned down.

Brandy Smith told KCTV that police were there when her nephew, 18-year-old Joseph Jennings, had tried to kill himself with pills last week.

“Tonight is the night goodbye everyone!!!!! It was truly a good ride! And I’m sorry for who I might of hurted (sic) and people that I may of offended, But I love all my family and I hope you don’t hold this against me,” he reportedly wrote on Facebook before trying to overdose.

About 10 minutes later, Jennings swallowed 60 pills. And Smith said two officers took him to Ransom Memorial Hospital.

Jennings survived, and was released from the hospital two days later. But only three hours after that, he was on a “suicide mission” when he walked to Orscheln Farm and Home, according to his aunt.

Smith recalled that around six officers responded, and two of them had helped save Jennings’ life by taking him to the hospital after his overdose just days before.

“It was like six — six officers, and one cop yelled, ‘Bag him!’ And they bagged him,” she said. “And he kind of puffed up a little bit, and then they bagged him two more times, and then like 16 shots rang out, and they shot him. And he fell to the ground.”

Jennings was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

Smith said that she was only feet away from Jennings and did not see a weapon.

“And I told them, if he has a gun, it’s a BB gun,” she insisted. “But we don’t know that… He knew that if he acted like he had a gun that they would shoot him, and I told them that.”

“I told them, ‘That’s Joseph Jennings, he’s suicidal, he’s upset, don’t shoot him,’” Smith added. “And that’s what I don’t understand is, why did it take them shooting him 16 times at least for them to bring him down? Why didn’t they bag him, knock him down, and then go and take care of whatever they needed to take care of?”

Smith said that her husband tried to help, but police threatened to shoot him too.

“My husband was going to tackle him. He was within arms reach. They said to get back or they were going to shoot him,” she explained.

Following standard procedures for officer-involved shootings, Ottawa police turned the case over to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI). Officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave.

Citing the KBI investigation, a spokesperson for the department declined to comment on whether or not Jennings was armed.

CNN: FBI given audio recording of Darren Wilson allegedly firing 11 times at Michael Brown

By Arturo Garcia
RawStory
Tuesday, August 26, 2014 0:44 EDT
 
The Federal Bureau of Investigations has obtained an audio recording that allegedly captures 18-year-old Michael Brown’s fatal shooting at the hands of Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson, CNN reported on Monday.

CNN mentioned that it has not independently verified the recording, which was given to the bureau by a Ferguson resident. In the audio, the unidentified man can be heard telling someone, “You’re so pretty” while 11 gunshots are heard in the distance — seven in one burst, then a pause, followed by four more shots.

“He was in his apartment, talking to a friend on a video chat,” the man’s attorney, Lopa Blumenthal, told CNN. “He heard loud noises and at the time, he didn’t ven realize the import of what he was hearing until afterwards, and it just happened to have captured 12 seconds of what transpired outside of his building.”
Wilson shot and killed Brown on Aug. 9, setting off a series of protests in the community and around the country criticizing police-involved shootings. A lawyer for Brown’s family said an autopsy revealed that Brown was shot six times during the encounter.

Several witnesses have come forward saying Wilson shot Brown after the younger man ran away from Wilson following an altercation during a traffic stop. Ferguson police have argued that Brown tried to get into Wilson’s patrol vehicle. Wilson has yet to be arrested in connection with the shooting, which has angered demonstrators and critics of the department.

California family says ‘out of control’ cops arrested disabled daughter for bloodshot eyes

By Arturo Garcia
RawStory
Monday, August 25, 2014 18:40 EDT
 
A Hesperia, California family accused county law enforcement of mistreating their 25-year-old disabled daughter and arresting her on drug-related charges despite being alerted to her condition, the Victorville Daily Press reported.

“I’m a retired fire captain and this is just the most outrageous thing I’ve ever heard in my life,” the woman’s father, Steve Olsen, was quoted as saying. “I am a total supporter of law enforcement, but this was wrong. This was out of control.”

Olsen’s daughter, Kylee Olsen, was arrested on Friday by San Bernardino County sheriffs deputies. At the time, Kylee, who was born with fetal alcohol syndrome, reportedly told officers she had “special needs.”
“They stopped me when I was getting on the bus,” she said. “They asked me when I had last used meth and I said I had never used it. They said my pupils were completely red and put me in the back of the car. I was really scared. I didn’t know what to do.”

She reportedly responded by blaming a combination of allergies and antibiotics for her eyes’ reddish appearance. A family friend, Elizabeth Newman, told the Daily Press that because of her condition, Kylee Olsen has the “mental capacity of a teenager, [and] the emotional capacity of a small child.”

Police would not comment on the case, but Steve Olsen told the newspaper that an officer called him Friday night following his daughter’s arrest on a “drug sweep” and told him she was taken in under suspicion of using methamphetamine. She was charged with “being under the influence of a controlled substance” before being released shortly after midnight on Saturday. She also reportedly took a drug test, which came up negative, and has no criminal record.

“It’s like arresting a 5-year-old kid,” Steve Olsen was quoted as saying. “If the guy could not figure out that she has disabilities he is just an idiot. This one is just so obvious.

SC police beat man in Walmart as horrified shoppers beg officers to stop

By Tom Boggioni
RawStory
Monday, August 25, 2014 10:01 EDT
 
Police authorities in Greenville, South Carolina are reviewing video of an arrest at a Walmart store Saturday afternoon where an officer can be seen repeatedly punching a suspect in the head as horrified shoppers begged him to stop.

In cell phone footage provided to WSPA, police officers can be seen surrounding a man lying on the floor in a prone position. According to the police report, the man had been acting erratically in front of the store and appeared to be intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. The man told a responding deputy “I’m 911,” before entering the store at which time officers decided to take him into custody.

According to Greenville County Master Deputy Jonathan Smith, a second deputy tasered the man when he resisted arrest. In the video, officers can be seen wrestling with the man on the ground as one officer repeatedly punches the man in the head as one shopper can be heard saying, “Please don’t punch him like that. Please don’t. Don’t punch him no more.”

According to one witness, he thought the police went too far. “There were a lot of women in tears saying ‘hey, stop stop,”said David Chimera. “There was no call for that, I don’t know why they did it.”

***************

Black Man Killed by Police While Walking Around Walmart with Toy Gun He Planned to Buy

Posted by: Josh Kilburn in Crime, Most Popular on AATTP, Racism in America, Videos August 9, 2014

Add this to the list of growing reasons not to shop at Walmart: A black man carrying an air rifle in an Ohio Wal-Mart was fatally shot by police officers Tuesday evening.

The Daily Caller reports that the man, John Crawford, was shot at the Beavercreek store. The Ohio attorney general’s office announced Thursday that he was carrying a brand of air rifle sold at Walmart when the police, who were responding to a 911 call about a man carrying a rifle, shot and killed Crawford. Another customer, 37-year-old Angela Williams, collapsed and died as she scrambled to get away from the police after they opened fire.

Via the Daily Caller:

    The shooting occurred after police responded to 911 calls about a man carrying a rifle. In one of those calls, which was released by police, a Walmart shopper told emergency dispatchers that it looked like the man — later identified as Crawford — was trying to load the rifle and that he had pointed it at two children, WHIO reported.

    The 911 caller’s wife said that Crawford was on the phone and that he was messing with the gun. She said that after police ordered Crawford to put down the unidentified weapon, “I heard two shots after I saw him turn. He still had the weapon in his hand.”

    But Crawford’s family says that there is no way he intended to harm anyone that night.

    LeeCee Johnson, who has two children with Crawford and is pregnant with a third, said that she was on the phone with him while the incident unfolded

    She told the Dayton Daily News that Crawford told officers that the gun he was carrying was “not real.”

    “We was just talking,” said Johnson. “He said he was at the video games playing videos and he went over there by the toy section where the toy guns were.”

    “And the next thing I know, he said ‘It’s not real,’ and the police start shooting and they said ‘Get on the ground,’ but he was already on the ground because they had shot him.”

Johnson said that she could hear Crawford crying and screaming; she hadn’t told him that she was pregnant with their third child.

Police Chief Dennis Evers stood by his officer’s actions, saying that they fired at Crawford when Crawford failed to comply with their commands to drop the air rifle. He asked Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation to open an investigation into the shooting, according to the Daily Caller:

    In a statement Thursday, DeWine provided the latest details.

    “BCI Investigators on the case report witnesses say the man was carrying a weapon Tuesday night inside a Beavercreek store,” reads DeWine’s statement.

    “The weapon was an MK-177 (.177 caliber) BB/Pellet Rifle, manufactured by Crosman. It is known as a ‘variable pump air rifle.’”

    Reached by The Daily Caller, a spokeswoman for DeWine said she could not yet comment on whether the air rifle was from the Wal-Mart or if Crawford had brought it in himself.

    But an Internet search of Wal-Mart’s website shows that it does indeed sell Crosman MK-177 air rifles. The price is listed at $100.83.

    “He does not own (a rifle-like weapon),” Lamon Brown, Crawford’s cousin, told the Dayton Daily News before DeWine’s office announced the brand of rifle Crawford was carrying. “We think it was a toy.”

    The family has contacted the NAACP as well as the National Action Network. Crawford, 22, was black.

    The two officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation.

The two officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave during the investigation. Crawford’s family has alerted the NAACP as well as the National Action Network as a result of the shooting.

Ohio is an Open Carry state. A bunch of White guys can go marching through downtown Cleveland with guns on full display and nobody gets hurt, but a black man with an air soft gun in a Wal-Mart gets killed by police just for having it out?

If only there’d been a good guy with a gun to prevent this senseless tragedy.

******************

 SPIEGEL ONLINE
08/26/2014 12:58 PM

'We're Like Animals To Them': An American City's Daily Racism

By Markus Feldenkirchen

The slaying of an 18-year-old African-American man in Ferguson, Missouri, shows that racism and racial profiling remain a serious everyday problem in some parts of America. Some worry things will never change.

As they pull up to the place where Michael Brown was killed, shot six times by a policeman, they sink to the ground and stare at a cross bearing his name.

"I don't get it," says Jurmael, 22. He and Tyler, 21, live in the neighborhood. Like Brown, they are African Americans and are close to his age. "I do get one thing though," Tyler says. "The name on the cross could just as well be one of ours."

Michael Brown was stopped on Canfield Drive by a white officer for the same reason that people are stopped everyday by the police. Roberts and Greer even have a name for the "offense" -- a common one in Ferguson, Missouri: "WWB," "Walking while black." Every black person living in Ferguson knows the meaning of the abbreviation because it is a constant part of their lives.

Persistent Racism

It took the shooting of 18-year-old Brown on August 9, a young man who was unarmed, before anyone took an interest in the everyday reality of the city's African-American population and their demoralizing harassment by the police. It also took this tragedy before people began to ask an important question: Why does a city whose population of 21,000 is two-thirds African American have a police force that is 95 percent white? And why, a half-century after Martin Luther King, Jr. launched the civil rights campaign and the end of segregation, are African-Americans still complaining today about persistent racism?

Jurmael and Tyler make the sign of the cross before returning to their car. A police car is parked two blocks away from the site of the shooting and Jurmael can see it from the distance. He twitches briefly and then reflexively applies his foot to the brake pedal. "Police," Tyler calls out. "Will they lets us through?" Jurmael asks.

There's no reason to stop the men. The car is in perfect shape and they're not speeding. But in Ferguson, it appears that different rules are applied to blacks than to whites. They may not exist in writing, but they are there in the minds of the police.

As they drive by the police car, Jurmael and Tyler don't dare to look at it. Jurmael says his father told him at a very young age what to do when police are in the area -- how he should speak and how he should look. "The best thing to do is to act as if you're not even there," his father said. The two grew up with the feeling that they were somehow suspects, yet both young men are perfectly polite. They both go to church and they work, even though they barely earn enough to make ends meet.

They continue driving through the streets, past the places of their youth, and past places where they were humiliated.

Tyler points to a house where he recently mowed the lawn for a white couple. He says the woman at the house had agreed to pay him $75. But once the work was done, he claims her husband then only paid him $25, saying that was enough. For the first time in his life, Tyler called the police. When the officers arrived, they asked the man if Tyler had stolen something. "But it was me who called the police," he says. He claims the police then told him the man could pay whatever he wanted and that Tyler should get lost.

Jurmael then points to a place where he said he recently got pulled over. He says the police immediately spoke to his girlfriend, who happens to be white, and asked, "Why are you with him?" "He's my boyfriend," she said. The officer said, "You shouldn't be with him," and then left.

Daily Protests

Later in the afternoon, Jurmael returns to the street to protest for justice. Such demonstrations have been taking place in Ferguson every night since Brown's death, the exact circumstances of which may never be fully known. On this day, a few protesters march along the sidewalk beating drums while a minivan plays Hip-Hop and Reggae music. For a moment the protest feels like a party, with women and children dancing in front of the van.

But then members of the police force show up and move in on the dancing crowd. They storm the van and turn off the music. "Why are they doing this," one young mother asks another woman? "Because they can," the friend says.

Back on our drive, just as we approach Tyler's house, he points to a front yard. He says his neighbor, a black man, held a party there three years ago. At some point, Tyler says, the police arrived and complained that the music was too loud. A fight ensured and the host was soon dead. He died of a heart-attack after police zapped him with a Tazer. It had been his birthday party.

'People Are Completely Powerless'

"They don't treat us like humans," Jurmael says. "We're like animals to them, ones they can shoot down like deer." The wife of the man who was Tazered still hangs her husband's photo each year on a tree in the front yard to commemorate his birthday. She never filed a complaint.

"The police know that most of us can't even afford a lawyer," Tyler says. Besides, he adds, the judges in Ferguson are all political appointees and are all white. "People are completely powerless," says Jurmael.

Given that such a large percentage of the population is black, it's surprising that more locals haven't taken up politics in order to challenge the status quo. When asked why no African American has run for mayor, people in Ferguson say you need money to do that -- and that few have it. But perhaps it is also because those who grew up feeling they were second-class citizens lack the confidence needed to run for public office.

The car is now driving past large, old wooden homes with fresh-painted verandas and well-groomed front yards, small oases of order. "Look right up there," Jurmael says as he points to the front door of a house. There's a bronze plaque on the door, as there are at many homes in the area. It notes that a slave owner once lived in the home.

Will Things Ever Change?

The plaques are not intended as memorials. Instead they appear to reflect the pride some of these homeowners have in their house's history. The neighborhood is the city's Historic District and is a tourist attraction. Even today, though, the district is inhabited exclusively by white people.

Jurmael says his grandmother told him as a child that things would never change. "She said the whites brought us here by force to do their dirty work," he says. "People can't say that openly anymore, but they do continue to think that way."

For years Jurmael tried to pay no heed to his grandmother's opinion, but he now agrees with her.

Just about anywhere you go in the United States where young African Americans live, you don't have to look hard to find ones who feel harassed. But the differences between blacks and whites are particularly apparent here in Ferguson. As a state, Missouri had a hard time eliminating slavery and, later on, it had trouble finding the will to repeal its racial segregation laws.

Shadows of the Past

Tyler wears a red cap with the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team logo on it. Several decades ago, black fans were still required to sit in a separate seating area in the stadium with inferior views of the field. But even after segregation ended, the seating arrangement remained. People were used to it. Indeed, the shadows of the past reach right up to today.

In the days leading up to Brown's funeral on Monday, white signs bearing the slogan of a new movement had been posted in the front yards of the former slave-owners' district. They read, "I love Ferguson." On this particular morning, the organizers of the initiative have gathered at the Corner Coffee House. A long line formed at one table with people waiting to buy signs and t-shirts. There's not a single African American in the cafe -- not among the guests or among the service personnel. Only the guy in the kitchen is black. The people gathering here are part of what could be described as the white countermovement.

"We don't like the way our city is being portrayed," says Brian Fletcher. "We're not going to allow this incident to ruin our reputation." Fletcher served as mayor of Ferguson for six years until 2011. Now he's sitting at a desk watching over petitions signed by local residents.

The people here have little regard for the African-American protesters who have been marching for justice each night. "They're like cockroaches," one woman next to Fletcher calls out. "They only come out of their holes at night."

Fletcher asks how people can describe these as peaceful protests when local companies are suffering from lost business. He also says there are no problems in the city so great that people need to protest over them.

When asked why only three of the city's 53 police are African Americans, Fletcher answers: "They just don't apply. Or they don't pass the test to get in to the police academy."

Racist Incidents

When asked why so many blacks are stopped by the police on the streets, Fletcher replies that it is unrelated to the color of their skin. He says they get pulled over for other reasons, like expired license plates. During his time in office, he says there were no racist incidents. He claims the record speaks for itself.

To be sure, there isn't much in the official record, but there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. Take the account of Henry Davis. Five years ago, police pulled the 52-year-old African American over one night. They checked his papers and allegedly found there was an arrest warrant against him. At the Ferguson police station, one officer told them that they had picked up the wrong man. The Henry Davis for whom an arrest warrant had been issued looked different, was much bigger and had a different middle initial, the officer said.

Nevertheless, Davis was still forced into a cell by four white policemen. As he lay on the floor, they punched him in the back and in the head. Then they pulled his upper body up by the handcuffs and one of the police kicked him directly on the forehead.

Henry still sounds furious and distressed when he tells his story today. "They hit us blacks and they kill us blacks," he says. "And they do everything they can to cover it up."

After his beating in the jail cell, the doctors at the hospital were reportedly ordered not to take any photos. His head was covered in blood and he had a deep wound on his scalp. In the five years since, not one of the policemen involved has been punished. In Ferguson, officials accused of excessive violence fill out the investigation reports themselves -- so it comes as little surprise that cases like the Davis beating never crossed former mayor Fletcher's desk.

The police claimed that Davis had fallen against a wall. Instead of justice, Davis was charged two weeks later with counts of destruction of property, for "knowingly bleeding on their uniforms," and ordered to pay $3,000.

"I don't believe they would have done this kind of thing to a white man," Davis says today. He says he was incapable of working for a long time and that he still suffers from migraine headaches and memory loss. He continues to challenge the fine he was ordered to pay, but he hasn't had any success so far.

Back on our tour of the town, Jurmael and Tyler park their car downtown, not far from the protest area. They say they want to keep going to the protests, even though the number of people attending began diminishing last week and most of the journalists have already packed up and left town. The two say they're pleased the world has finally taken notice of the kind of harassment they are forced to put up with. He says he hopes that the names Ferguson and Michael Brown will one day pop up in school books and that they are cited as an historical turning point. "This could be the beginning of something big," Tyler says.

There's another potential outcome of this story as well. It's also possible he and Jurmael will find themselves getting pulled over by the police again soon, the victims of racial profiling.

*************

Americans have little confidence or trust in police, survey shows

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, August 26, 2014 6:59 EDT

A survey laid bare the distrust the public harbors toward police in the United States, the same day a funeral was held for a black teenager shot dead by a white policeman.

The fatal August 9 shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown has reignited fierce debate about relations between police and African Americans, and police tactics.

Critics say police in the U.S. have become increasingly “militarized” and pointed to the police reaction in the nearly two weeks of protests — some violent — that roiled Ferguson, with some accusing them of being heavy-handed.

The USA Today/Pew Research Center Poll found that 65 percent of respondents said police did “only a fair” or a poor job in holding police officers accountable when misconduct occurs, compared with 30 percent who say they do an excellent or good job.

There were similar findings when it came to the question of treating racial groups equally and using the right amount of force.

The numbers have changed little since 2009, according to Pew.

There was an even split when asked if police departments nationwide do a good job in protecting people from crime.

The numbers, however, were vastly different when divided between black and white people.

More than nine out of 10 African Americans say the police do an “only fair” or poor job when it comes to equal treatment and appropriate force.

The poll of 1,501 adults, taken Wednesday through Sunday by landline and cellphone, has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.



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« Reply #15201 on: Aug 26, 2014, 09:40 AM »

Ukraine and Russian Leaders Meet, after Kiev Captures Moscow Troops

by Naharnet Newsdesk
26 August 2014, 08:12

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine hold key talks Tuesday with little hopes for a breakthrough in resolving the raging conflict pitting Kiev against pro-Moscow separatist rebels.

Hours before the crunch talks, Kiev ratcheted up tensions by releasing footage purporting to show 10 Russian soldiers captured on its territory who a Moscow military source claimed had crossed into Ukraine "by accident."

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian leader malignant tumor Pig Putin arrived in Minsk for a meeting with top EU officials and the leaders of Kazakhstan and Belarus, in a bid to defuse tensions that some fear could trigger all-out war between Kiev and and its Soviet master Moscow.

U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice slammed Russia for "military incursions" into Ukraine using artillery, air defense systems, tanks and troops, that she said represented a "significant escalation" in the conflict.

"Repeated Russian incursions into Ukraine unacceptable. Dangerous and inflammatory," she wrote on Twitter.

Kiev's security service said paratroopers from Russia's 98th airborne division were captured about 50 kilometers (30 miles) southeast of the main rebel stronghold of Donetsk.

Ukrainian media on Tuesday aired footage purporting to show the captured Russian paratroopers confessing to entering Ukraine in armored convoys.

"We traveled here in columns not along the roads but across the fields," says one of the men who identifies himself as corporal Ivan Milchakov from the 331st parachute regiment based in central Russia.

"I didn't even see when we crossed the border."

Kiev has long accused Moscow of stoking the separatist insurgency raging in its east, but this is the first time Ukrainian authorities have claimed to have captured soldiers from Russia's regular army.

"Officially, they are at exercises in various corners of Russia. In reality, they are participating in military aggression against Ukraine", Defense Minister Valeriy Geletey said on his Facebook page.

Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement in the rebellion in Ukraine and demands Kiev halt its punishing offensive.

A Russian defense ministry source described the captured soldiers Tuesday as having crossed into Ukraine "by accident".

The soldiers had been "taking part in patrolling a section of the Russian-Ukrainian border; they crossed it most likely by accident, on an unequipped, unmarked section", Russian news agencies quoted the source as saying.

On the ground there appeared no end in sight to the four months of conflict that has already claimed some 2,200 lives and has sent tensions between Russia and the West soaring to levels not seen since the end of the Cold War in 1991.

Ukraine's forces accused Russian troops of trying to open a "new front" after an armored convoy crossed onto government-held territory Monday in the south of Donetsk region.

An AFP journalist reported seeing smoke rising from the town of Novoazovsk close to the Russian border, where Ukraine's military said fighting was raging with pro-Russian rebels.

Local authorities in the main rebel bastion of Donetsk said three civilians were killed in shelling overnight as the army pummels insurgent fighters hunkered down there.

The Ukrainian military meanwhile said that 12 soldiers had been killed and 19 wounded in the past 24 hours.

Fighting has intensified in the run-up to the key talks in Minsk with the rebels appearing to launch a counteroffensive after losing swathes of territory to a push by government forces.

It was unclear whether Poroshenko and Putin would hold bilateral talks during the meeting in Minsk, the capital of Belarus.

The two met briefly in France at ceremonies to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings at the beginning of June.

Officials from the EU and Russian-led Customs Union were set to discuss the crisis as well as trade following the signing of key political and economic agreements by Ukraine's new pro-Western leaders with the European Union in June.

It was the refusal by former president Viktor Yanukovych to ink the EU deal last year, instead choosing to favor Moscow's economic bloc, that sparked the protests that eventually led to his ouster and set in motion a chain of events that has seen the Russian annexation of Crimea and the pro-Moscow insurgency in the east.

As Ukraine's political transition continues, Poroshenko on Monday announced long-awaited early parliamentary elections for October 26.

The Kremlin also ratcheted up the pressure by announcing plans to send another aid convoy into eastern Ukraine "this week".

Russia unilaterally sent about 230 lorries carrying what it claimed was 1,800 tonnes of humanitarian aid to the rebel-held city of Lugansk on Friday after accusing Kiev of intentionally delaying the mission. Kiev condemned the move as a "direct invasion".

Some 400,000 people have fled their homes since April in fighting that has left residents in some besieged rebel-held cities without water or power for weeks.

Click to watch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UK7LbID3qU4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZYXw-OYezc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IngXN0gJMcc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvgtO1ckcvU

************

Ukraine and Russian Leaders Shake Hands ahead of Peace Talks

by Naharnet Newsdesk
26 August 2014, 15:33

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine shook hands ahead of key talks on Tuesday, though with little hope for a breakthrough to end the raging conflict pitting Kiev against pro-Moscow separatist rebels.

Tensions have ramped up after Russia for the first time admitted that its troops had crossed onto Ukrainian soil after Kiev released footage purporting to show 10 Russian soldiers captured on its territory.

A Moscow military source claimed they had crossed into Ukraine "by accident".

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian leader malignant tumor Pig Putin were meeting in Minsk with top EU officials and the leaders of Kazakhstan and Belarus in a bid to defuse the conflict some fear could trigger all-out war between Kiev and its former Soviet master Moscow.

Poroshenko told Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko that "peace is the priority" ahead of the group meeting.

But, in a sign of how high tensions are, it remained unclear if he would meet one-on-one with malignant tumor Pig Putin at the imposing Independence Palace in the Belarussian capital.

Pressure soared after Kiev's security service said on Sunday that paratroopers from Russia's 98th airborne division had been captured by Ukrainian forces about 50 kilometers (30 miles) southeast of the main rebel stronghold of Donetsk.

A seating chart released by Moscow indicates the talks will take place at a huge oval table, with Putin separated from Poroshenko by Kazakhstan's leader, Nursultan Nazarbayev, and his aides.

A Kremlin official in Minsk told Agence France Presse on condition of anonymity that a meeting involving EU officials will determine whether a sensitive one-on-one between Putin and Poroshenko would take place.

Ukrainian media on Tuesday aired footage purporting to show captured Russian solders confessing to crossing into Ukraine in armored convoys.

"We traveled here in columns, not along the roads but across the fields," says one of the men, who identifies himself as corporal Ivan Milchakov from the 331st parachute regiment based in central Russia.

"I didn't even see when we crossed the border."

A Russian defense ministry source on Tuesday said the captured soldiers had crossed into Ukraine accidentally.

The soldiers had been "taking part in patrolling a section of the Russian-Ukrainian border. They crossed it most likely by accident, on an unequipped, unmarked section", Russian news agencies quoted the source as saying.

Kiev has long accused Moscow of stoking the separatist insurgency raging in its east -- charges the Kremlin has repeatedly denied -- but this is the first time it has claimed to have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian soil.

"Officially, they are at exercises in various corners of Russia. In reality, they are participating in military aggression against Ukraine", Defense Minister Valeriy Geletey said on his Facebook page.

On the ground there appeared no end in sight to the four months of conflict that has already claimed some 2,200 lives and has plunged relations between Russia and the West to levels not seen since the end of the Cold War in 1991.

Ukraine's forces accused Russian troops of trying to open a "new front" after an armored convoy crossed onto government-held territory Monday in the south of Donetsk region.

AFP journalists reported shelling in Novoazovsk, a town on the coast of the Azov sea, and had to briefly take shelter in the basement of the City Hall together with the mayor.

Ukraine also accused Russian army helicopters of launching a ferocious missile attack on a Ukrainian border position further to the north, killing four border guards and bringing the death toll to 12 soldiers in the past 24 hours.

Local authorities in the main rebel bastion of Donetsk said three civilians were killed in shelling overnight as the army pummels insurgent fighters.

The rebels previously announced the launch of a counter-offensive after losing swathes of territory to a push by government forces.

Officials from the EU and Russian-led Customs Union were set to discuss the crisis and trade issues after Ukraine's new pro-Western leaders signed a landmark deal with the European Union in June that riled Russia.

The refusal by Kiev's former president Viktor Yanukovych to ink the EU deal last year in favor of Moscow's economic bloc sparked the protests that eventually led to his ouster and sparked a chain of events that saw Russia annex Ukraine's Crimea region and sparked the pro-Moscow insurgency.

As Ukraine's political transition continues, Poroshenko on Monday announced long-awaited early parliamentary elections for October 26.

The Kremlin also ratcheted up the pressure by announcing plans to send another aid convoy into eastern Ukraine "this week".

Russia unilaterally sent about 230 lorries carrying what it claimed was 1,800 tonnes of humanitarian aid to the rebel-held city of Lugansk on Friday after accusing Kiev of intentionally delaying the mission.

Kiev condemned the move as a "direct invasion".

Some 400,000 people have fled their homes since April in fighting that has left residents in some besieged rebel-held cities without water or power for weeks.
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« Reply #15202 on: Aug 27, 2014, 05:46 AM »

Kiev Reports Movement of Tanks, Heavy Weapons from Russia

by Naharnet Newsdesk
27 August 2014, 13:31

Kiev on Wednesday said a massive convoy of tanks and heavy weapons from Russia was travelling towards a government-held town in restive east Ukraine.

A convoy of "up to 100" tanks, armored vehicles and rocket launchers was seen traveling on a road toward Telmanove, a town about 80 kilometers south of rebel stronghold Donetsk and 20 kilometers from the Russian border, Ukraine's army said in a statement.

The army did not give details about the personnel on board the vehicles or when the column is thought to have entered Ukraine.

A military source told Agence France Presse that the convoy had come from Russia.

"We believe that this is Russian equipment. You cannot buy 100 tanks at a market in Donetsk or Lugansk," the source said.

"Of course they have been moved from across the border," he added.

It is unclear if this column is the same as an armored convoy identified by Kiev earlier this week as having crossed from Russia's Rostov region to Ukraine's restive southern Donetsk region.

On Wednesday, AFP journalists traveling on the same road heading south to Telmanove said they traces of tank tracks and heard explosions.

Ukrainian military also said that a smaller group of vehicles had crossed the border from Russia about 110 kilometers east of Donetsk and traveled on to the rebel stronghold.

The convoy included "six Grad rocket launchers, eight covered Kamaz (trucks) and two Ural trucks with manpower," the statement said.

**************

Russia, Ukraine Talks End without Major Breakthrough

by Naharnet Newsdesk
27 August 2014, 07:07

Talks between the leaders of Russia and Ukraine apparently failed to make a major breakthrough towards ending brutal fighting in east Ukraine Wednesday as strongman malignant tumor Pig Putin played down the entry by his troops into the former Soviet state.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and the malignant tumor sat down for a crunch one-on-one in Minsk after marathon talks involving top EU officials as tensions spiked after Moscow admitted for the first time that its troops had crossed into Ukraine.

Poroshenko said there were "some results" but there seemed to be no significant compromises to help end four months of clashes between government forces and pro-Russian fighters that some fear could spill over into all-out war between the two neighbors.

The Russian leader said he would "do everything" to help a future peace process but did little to soothe tensions when he shrugged off Kiev's claims it had captured 10 Russian troops on its territory, with military sources in Moscow earlier saying they crossed over "by accident".

"I have not yet received a report from the defense ministry. But from what I have heard, they were patrolling the border and could have ended up on Ukrainian territory," the malignant tumor snorted at journalists, adding that Ukrainian troops had previously crossed into Russia.

"I am hoping that there won't be any problems with the Ukrainian side over this case."

Poroshenko said all sides "without exception" agreed to a Kiev peace plan but demanded actions not words after the meeting -- that also included the leaders of Kazakhstan and Belarus -- pointing to an agreement for talks on border controls and between army chiefs.

"We demand decisive actions which can help bring peace to Ukraine," he said in a statement.

Over four months of brutal fighting in east Ukraine have killed more than 2,200 people and forced over 400,000 to flee their homes.

On Tuesday it was announced that the Russian economy is nearing recession. At the same time it was reported that the Ukrainian currency slid to a new record low against the dollar.

On the ground, battles raged in east Ukraine. An AFP journalist reported fierce shelling in a town close to the Russian border where Kiev accuses Moscow of trying to open up a "new front" into government-held territory.

- Soldiers captured -

Tensions spiraled just hours ahead of the meeting after Ukraine's military released footage purporting to show Russian paratroopers captured on Ukrainian territory about 50 kilometers (30 miles) southeast of the main rebel stronghold of Donetsk.

"They crossed (the border) most likely by accident, on an unequipped, unmarked section", a Russian defense ministry source told Russian news agencies.

Kiev has long accused Moscow of stoking the separatist insurgency -- charges the Kremlin has repeatedly denied.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's forces accused Russian troops of trying to open a "new front" after an armored convoy crossed onto government-held territory Monday in the south of the Donetsk region.

AFP journalists reported shelling in Novoazovsk, a town on the coast of the Azov sea, and had to briefly take shelter in the city hall together with the mayor.

Kiev also accused Russian army helicopters of launching a ferocious missile attack on a Ukrainian border position further to the north, killing four border guards and bringing the death toll to 12 soldiers in the past 24 hours.

Rebels have announced a counteroffensive in recent days and a top rebel chief dismissed any chance of agreeing to a "fake" ceasefire with Kiev.

Local authorities in Donetsk said Tuesday that three civilians were killed in shelling as the army pummeled insurgent fighters.

- Gas talks? -

Officials from the EU and the Russian-led Customs Union in Minsk also discussed trade issues after Ukraine's new pro-Western leaders signed a landmark deal with the European Union in June that riled Russia.

The refusal by Kiev's former president Viktor Yanukovych to ink the EU deal last year in favor of Moscow's economic bloc sparked the protests that eventually led to his flight and set off a chain of events that saw Russia annex Ukraine's Crimea peninsula and the pro-Moscow insurgency.

The malignant tumor said that Russia and Ukraine agreed to restart gas talks after Moscow turned off the taps to Kiev in June over a bitter pricing dispute.

Malignant tumor Pig Putin also claimed to have reached "certain agreements" with Poroshenko on sending aid to east Ukraine, following the announcement Monday that Russia was planning to send another aid convoy into eastern Ukraine "this week".

Russia unilaterally sent about 230 lorries carrying 1,800 tonnes of "humanitarian" aid to the rebel-held city of Lugansk on Friday in a move Kiev called an "invasion."

****************

Ukraine crisis: Nato plans east European bases to counter Russia

Nato chief announces move in response to Ukraine crisis and says alliance is dealing with a new Russian military approach

Ian Traynor in Brussels
The Guardian, Wednesday 27 August 2014      

Nato is to deploy its forces at new bases in eastern Europe for the first time, in response to the Ukraine crisis and in an attempt to deter malignant tumor Pig Putin from causing trouble in the former Soviet Baltic republics, according to its secretary general.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the organisations's summit in Cardiff next week would overcome divisions within the alliance and agree to new deployments on Russia's borders – a move certain to trigger a strong reaction from Moscow.

He also outlined moves to boost Ukraine's security, "modernise" its armed forces and help the country counter the threat from Russia.

Rasmussen said: "We will adopt what we call a readiness action plan with the aim to be able to act swiftly in this completely new security environment in Europe. We have something already called the Nato response force, whose purpose is to be able to be deployed rapidly if needed. Now it's our intention to develop what I would call a spearhead within that response force at very, very high readiness.

"In order to be able to provide such rapid reinforcements you also need some reception facilities in host nations. So it will involve the pre-positioning of supplies, of equipment, preparation of infrastructure, bases, headquarters. The bottom line is you will in the future see a more visible Nato presence in the east."

Poland and the three Baltic states have been alarmed at the perceived threat from Russia and have been clamouring for a stronger Nato presence in the region. They have criticised what they see as tokenism in the alliance's response so far.

But the issue of permanent Nato bases in east Europe is divisive. The French, Italians and Spanish are opposed while the Americans and British are supportive of the eastern European demands. The Germans, said a Nato official, were sitting on the fence, wary of provoking Russia.

The Cardiff summit is likely to come up with a formula, alliance sources said, which would avoid the term "permanent" for the new bases. But the impact will be to have constantly manned Nato facilities east of what used to be the iron curtain.

"It can be on a rotation basis, with a very high frequency. The point is that any potential aggressor should know that if they were to even think of an attack against a Nato ally they will meet not only soldiers from that specific country but they will meet Nato troops. This is what is important," said Rasmussen.

The only Nato headquarters east of the old cold war frontier is at Szczecin, on Poland's Baltic coast. Sources said this was likely to be the hub for the new deployments. Air and naval plans had been completed, but the issue of international land forces in the east was proving trickier to agree upon.

Asked whether there would be permanent international deployments under a Nato flag in east Europe, Rasmussen said: "The brief answer is yes. To prevent misunderstanding I use the phrase 'for as long as necessary'. Our eastern allies will be satisfied when they see what is actually in the readiness action plan."

Rasmussen said the forces could be deployed within hours.

Nato has clearly been caught napping by the Russian president's well prepared advances in Ukraine since February and is scrambling to come up with strategies for a new era in which Russia has gone from being a "strategic partner" of the alliance to a hostile actor perfecting what the alliance terms "hybrid warfare".

Rasmussen, whose term as Nato chief is coming to an end, said: "We have to face the reality that Russia does not consider Nato a partner. Russia is a nation that unfortunately for the first time since the second world war has grabbed land by force. Obviously we have to adapt to that." In an interview with the Guardian and five other European newspapers, he said: "It is safe to say that nobody had expected Russia to grab land by force. We also saw a remarkable change in the Russian military approach and capability since, for instance, the Georgian war in 2008.

"We have seen the Russians improve their ability to act swiftly. They can within a very, very, short time convert a major military exercise into an offensive military operation."

Rasmussen reiterated that the Russians had massed in their thousands on Ukraine's eastern borders, and had been firing artillery into Ukraine. His information was based on Nato's own intelligence and "multiple reports".

But Nato officials admitted that the intelligence was impaired by a lack of solid information from the ground. "We can only watch from 23 miles up," said an official.

Rasmussen said: "We have reports from multiple sources showing quite a lively Russian involvement in destabilising eastern Ukraine.

"We have seen artillery firing across the border and also inside Ukraine. We have seen a Russian military buildup along the border. Quite clearly, Russia is involved in destabilising eastern Ukraine … You see a sophisticated combination of traditional conventional warfare mixed up with information and primarily disinformation operations. It will take more than Nato to counter such hybrid warfare effectively."

If western leaders have been surprised and also impressed by the sudden display of Russian military prowess, Ukraine, by contrast, is in a pitiful condition militarily, according to Nato officials.

"If we are two steps behind the Russians, the Ukrainians are 16 steps behind," said a Nato source recently in Kiev. "Their generals just want to blow everything up. But it's not a shooting war, it's an information war."

In further moves certain to rile the malignant tumor, Nato is to step up its aid to, and collaboration with, the Ukrainian military.

Ukraine's president, Petro Poroshenko, is to attend the Cardiff summit and will be the sole non-Nato head of state to negotiate with alliance leaders. Four "trust funds" are to be established to finance Ukraine's military logistics, command and control structures, and cyber defences, and to pay the armed forces' pensions.

"Ukraine follows its own path. That will be demonstrated at the summit because we will have a Nato-Ukraine summit meeting," said Rasmussen. "It is actually what we will decide to do at the summit, to help them build the capacity of their security sector, modernise it."

The summit will also grapple with the perennial question of reduced European defence spending at a time of intense instability on the continent's eastern and southern borders as well as the growing US exasperation with Europe's reluctance to fund its own security properly.

"Since the end of the cold war we have lived in relatively good weather. Now we are faced with a profound climate change. That requires more investment," said Rasmussen. "Politicians have tried to harvest the peace dividend after the end of the cold war. That's understandable. But now we are in a completely new security situation."


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« Reply #15203 on: Aug 27, 2014, 05:47 AM »

 SPIEGEL ONLINE
08/27/2014 10:21 AM

'Yes' or 'No'?: A Divided Scotland Confronts Independence Vote

By Christoph Scheuermann

Traveling through Scotland, you might think the result of September's independence referendum is a foregone conclusion. "Yes" signs are everywhere. But surveys tell a different story and many who are wary of the hype.

Liam Stevenson was never the type to become particularly passionate about politics. A tank truck driver in Scotland, he spent most of his free time with his wife Helen and daughter Melissa in their small house in Cumbernauld, northeast of Glasgow. Every now and then, he would join his friends for a few pints.

But a couple of months ago, he experienced a transformation not unlike that of Franz Kafka's character Gregor Samsa, who became a new creature overnight. Stevenson became a political activist.

He guides his Volkswagen Golf past working class housing cowering in the shadows of gigantic residential towers. Cumbernauld was created after the war and has since become a Scottish dystopia. It is a place that remains stuck somewhere between the 1950s and 1980s. In the cold jargon of the welfare bureaucracy, the housing projects are known as "schemes" and look just as soulless as the word sounds. Stevenson spent his childhood here. He waves at a man on the way by. "That's Paul. He stabbed his son in the face. No idea why."

Stevenson wants people to see the city through his eyes so they can understand his confidence. After all, the day that could change everything is rapidly approaching. On Sept. 18, more than 4 million Scots are to vote on whether they want to become independent from the United Kingdom.

Like many of his compatriots, Stevenson dreams of independence. He hopes that it will ring in a new era of prosperity, driven by oil and natural gas. An independent Scotland would be freer, richer and more equitable, Stevenson says. Cumbernauld, too, would flourish.

The process currently underway on the British archipelago is a unique one. Free of violence, amid an atmosphere of amicability, a referendum is to be held that could result in the end of a 307-year-old union with the United Kingdom. The Scottish move toward independence is also reflective of the ongoing erosion of the European nation-state. After years of crisis, many people no longer identify with their countries, preferring instead to be part of smaller, more manageable regions. Separatists across Europe are pushing for independence, including the Catalonians in Spain, the Flemish in Belgium and the South Tyroleans in Italy. But only in Scotland is a nationally recognized referendum in the works.

The Undecided

The plan to hold the vote was born in 2011 after the Scottish National Party (SNP) emerged victorious in parliamentary elections there. In March 2013, the date of the referendum was set for this September. This year, various factions and groups belonging to the "yes" campaign have been fighting hard for Scottish secession. Foremost among them is Alex Salmond, SNP party boss and Scottish leader as first minister of Scotland. But the three largest parties in Great Britain, the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats, are largely opposed to Scottish independence and are working against secession under the motto "Better Together."

Currently, surveys indicate that a majority of Scots will likely vote to remain part of the UK, with between 45 percent and 55 percent in favor of staying. No survey has yet projected a victory for the "yes" camp. But many voters remain undecided, making it difficult for pollsters to make reliable prognostications. Campaigners, meanwhile, have zeroed in on those who have not yet made up their mind.

Liam Stevenson is talking into his mobile phone as he walks into his kitchen. He has organized a panel discussion on the independence referendum for this evening, to be held in a small Cumbernauld theater. He wanted to have representatives from both camps there, but the unionists declined to send anybody. Now, a PR consultant, a health worker and a member of the Scottish Socialist Party are going to speak in support of independence. Stevenson is euphoric. He has never before spoken in front of so many people and has also never organized a political event. "It gives me a huge boost," he says.

Helen scoops mince and tatties (mashed potatoes, ground beef and mashed carrots) onto his plate. The couple is eating on the sofa in front of their flat-screen television, but Stevenson is too agitated to have any appetite. "The English have gotten drunk on our riches for decades: oil, natural gas, whiskey," he says. Scotland, he continues, must finally regain control of its own resources without allowing the government in London to skim off the profits and only send a part of them back. As he speaks, his meal becomes cold.

Stevenson isn't a politician, nor is he an intellectual. If you spend an afternoon with him, you find out about his uncle's affairs and learn that Stevenson sometimes cries when he goes to the movies. He wears his heart on his sleeve -- and that too, he says, is something that separates him from the taciturn English to the south. Helen gets a quick kiss and then her husband sets off for the theater, where all 270 seats are filled. After the podium discussion, he later says, two women who had previously been undecided came up to him. They said they now planned to vote for independence.

The debate over independence isn't one just for politicians. It has also become a vital one for people like Stevenson as well -- and for people like the author in Glasgow, the fashion designer in Dundee and the engineer from Aberdeen. Not all Scots that one meets want to split off from the United Kingdom. But there are many of them, and they are eager to talk about why.

Compelling Arguments?

Janice Galloway says she was long unsure as to whether she should vote "yes" or "no" on Sept. 18. She is an author and is sitting in a Glasgow tearoom. At the end of the 1980s, she was among the young writers, painters and other artists who began to more closely examine Scotland. Her own debut novel was about an anorexic, alcoholic teacher on the west coast. Galloway belongs to a generation that doesn't just see Scotland as being home to beautiful landscapes, romantically weathered castles and whiskey distilleries.

She says that she waited for compelling arguments from those opposed to independence, but not many were forthcoming. At the beginning of August, more than 200 prominent British wrote an open letter urging the Scots not to leave the kingdom. But aside from "let's stay together," there wasn't much to the missive. "It looked more like a dinner invitation than a defense of the kingdom," Galloway says. She found herself disappointed by the lack of enthusiasm among unionists.

Galloway spent her childhood and youth in Ayrshire on Scotland's west coast. One of her first jobs was as a singing waitress, entertaining tourists in a banquet hall. Her first paycheck went toward buying a telephone for her mother, who lived in Yorkshire at the time. When her mother spoke on the phone, she always used a fake Yorkshire accent out of shame for her Scottish roots.

In the south of the island, the Scots were seen as well-behaved minions, an image that was embodied in the figure of John Brown, a servant of Queen Victoria's. The queen loved Scotland, Balmoral Castle and, it is said, her servant, Brown. People still believe today that they might have had an affair. Brown represents the archetype of the loyal, obedient Scot, true to the queen and the throne to the death. At the same time, he stands for a period when nobody questioned the union of Scotland with the United Kingdom, largely the result of economic prosperity which benefitted the north as well. Between 1885 and 1939, one-third of British governors-general abroad were Scots. The bond remained strong deep into the 20th century. "When I was a girl, there was a strong British identity," Galloway says.

The estrangement began in the 1960s and 70s when the coal, steel and shipping industries in Great Britain began contracting. Just as Scotland had profited handsomely before, it now suffered even more. "Britishness may have had less appeal than before," writes historian Tom Devine in his work "The Scottish Nation." As the economy declined, the Conservatives lost support among the working class and Labour became the strongest political power.

Nowhere was Margaret Thatcher more hated than in Scotland. When she came to power in 1979, there were 15 coal mines in Scotland; by the time she stepped down in 1990, only two were left. Many Scots blamed Thatcher for the economic troubles and her anti-labor union policies deepened the chasm between the north and the south. Janice Galloway is one of those authors whose books helped the Scots develop a sense of self-confidence in the face of the collapse. Others include Irvine Welsh, Alasdair Gray and Iain Banks in addition to painters Ken Currie and Jenny Saville as well as the composer James MacMillan. A counterculture developed. "We were wild," Galloway says.

Waking Up from Hibernation

Welsh's novel "Trainspotting," published 21 years ago, likely had a greater influence on young Scots than any other book. The sallow skies, the social housing, even the junkie-lifestyle in Edinburgh suddenly seemed sexy. Welsh and other artists showed a way to differentiate themselves from Thatcher and the southern British culture.

This self-confidence remains today, even if bitterness increasingly mixes in with the pride. Liam Stevenson, the truck driver, grumbles an entire afternoon about the English who have "dragged us into illegal war after illegal war." Little has brought the Scots together more in recent years than their demarcation from the south, particularly when the Conservatives have the upper hand in Westminster. Of the 59 Scottish members of the House of Commons, only one is a Tory. A favorite joke has it that there are more pandas north of the English-Scottish border than there are Conservative parliamentarians. There are two pandas and they live in the Edinburgh zoo.

With just weeks to go before the referendum, Scotland seems like a land waking up from a winter slumber to celebrate the Caledonian version of the Arab Spring. Blue "Yes" stickers are plastered on lampposts while "Yes" signs are displayed in windows. If it weren't for the opinion polls, one would think that the result of the referendum was a foregone conclusion.

"We've been talking about nothing else for months," says Hayley Scanlan. She works as a fashion designer in Dundee, a port city on the east coast between Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Scanlan says she is in favor of independence because Scotland needs its own voice.

Her studio is in an old jute spinning mill in the center of town which provides workspace to jewelry designers, start-ups and artists. Bits of material and leather cover the floor while at the drawing table, an assistant cuts out the patterns for the next spring collection. The room is just big enough for the two women, three sewing machines and a couple of clothes racks. When large orders come in, Scanlan's mother and aunt help with the sewing.

Scanlan says that she isn't interested in politics and has never voted, but she is planning on casting her ballot in the referendum. "It is an exciting time for Scotland," she says, adding that she is happy that she has found success in her homeland. Like many of her friends in the fashion industry, she initially wanted to move to London. But she didn't have enough money so she stayed in Dundee, where rents are much more affordable.

Scanlan belongs to the growing number of young entrepreneurs in her city that don't want to expose themselves to the stress that comes with living in the British capital. Customers reach her by way of her online shop and she occasionally works with department stores as well. She only travels to the south for Fashion Week.

Oil and Gas

Although she is Scottish, Scanlan's designs don't use plaids or tweeds. She prefers leather, wool and lighter fabrics. "We don't focus on the past, we focus on the present," she says. That is true both of her fashion and of her politics.

For her, pride in her homeland is combined with frustration with the south. In contrast with London, she says, she can be herself in Dundee and she also believes that an independent Scotland would be more prosperous. She herself has seen that energy and tenacity can lead to success. She expects the same of Scotland.

The most important argument for the "yes" camp are the oil and natural gas reserves off the Scottish coast. First Minister Alex Salmond says they would be enough to boost the country's prosperity and his party promises that income for the state would climb to over 7 billion pounds ($11.6 billion) per year by 2018. Others, though, estimate that treasure will be worth only half that. Salmond's calculations are nothing but a gigantic bet on the oil reserves in the North Sea, the London-based Economist has written. One reason is the fact that, once the fields have been pumped dry, an independent Scotland would probably be liable for the estimated 40 billion pounds it will cost to clean up the dozens of kilometers of pipelines and cables in the North Sea.

Iain Downie says the Scottish government is intentionally covering up such costs because they put a damper on the euphoria surrounding independence. Downie is just coming from rugby practice and is still glowing from the exertion as he sits down in an Aberdeen bar and orders himself a beer. He works for BP as a drilling engineer, ensuring that the oil continues to flow. He plans to vote "no" in the referendum. He wants to see Scotland remain a part of the United Kingdom.

Downie has been working at his current job with BP for the last two years and is responsible for tapping into new oil fields. He knows just how unreliable reserve estimates can be. He spent most of his first year on a swaying drilling ship west of the Shetland Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. It was winter and they were trying to find a new field 1,200 meters below the surface. It was Downie's job to calculate how thick and long the pipe had to be. In the end, the project was abandoned. "You have to be sick to like this job," he says.

His father is a retired policeman and his mother a nurse. In contrast to most Scots, the Downies respected Margaret Thatcher because she promised to bring Great Britain back to life after decades of paralysis. Iain Downie grew up in a quiet suburb of Edinburgh and his parents managed to avoid most of the pain associated with the dying mines and shipyards. The kingdom gave the family a sense of security and belonging.

Optimists and Pessimists

Downie studied in Edinburgh, has lived in South Africa and has worked in Oman and Norway. In two or three years, he plans to move to Azerbaijan or to the Persian Gulf, chasing the oil. Having a British passport opens doors around the world, he says. An independent Scotland would be insecure, Downie believes.

He orders another beer and explains that the search for oil has become more difficult in recent years as the reserves have shrunk and become more difficult to access than they used to be. As he talks, the idea of Scottish independence seems reduced to the crazy idea of gambling addicts. For him, as an engineer who values certainty, there are too many variables, too many unknowns. "What happens with the pensions?" he asks. "Can we keep the British pound? How do we trade goods and merchandise if we don't even have a stock exchange in Scotland?"

He also thinks it is right for the British military to intervene in conflicts when it becomes necessary. In his view, Great Britain is the only European country that thinks globally and keeps all of its options open when it comes to international crises. "I am proud of the fact that we have an impact on the world," he says.

In the end, the doubts that plague Downie could also be enough to move other Scots to vote against independence. The referendum is also a measure of a country's willingness to take risks. It is a fight between the optimists and the pessimists.


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« Reply #15204 on: Aug 27, 2014, 05:55 AM »

Hollande Ally Named New Economy Minister in Emergency Reshuffle

by Naharnet Newsdesk
26 August 2014, 20:22

Francois Hollande on Tuesday installed a former banker and ally as economy minister in an emergency reshuffle seen as the "last chance" to haul France out of the biggest crisis of his presidency.

The top members of the government remained unchanged, but three rebel ministers who had publicly attacked Hollande's economic policy were not in the line-up as the president seeks to quell dissenting voices in his team.

In a surprising move, Hollande appointed 36-year-old Emmanuel Macron, an ex-Rothschild banker and former adviser, as economy minister -- a clear sign he wants a coherent line on economic policy after recent sniping from the left-wing of his Socialist Party.

Macron was Hollande's economic adviser until this spring and pushed the Socialist president towards implementing a more liberal financial policy as the country struggles with stagnant growth and record unemployment.

His appointment marks a clear shift to the right, as he replaces Arnaud Montebourg, the left-wing firebrand and chief rebel who sparked the government's sudden collapse on Monday.

The new minister has the unenviable task of pepping up Europe's second-biggest economy, which registered zero growth in the first six months of the year.

Finance Minister Michel Sapin and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius were also confirmed in their posts and Segolene Royal, Hollande's former partner and the mother of his four children, stays environment and energy minister.

Hollande called earlier Tuesday for a government "of clarity" that will toe the line, after Montebourg took two other left-wing rebels -- culture minister Aurelie Filippetti and education minister Benoit Hamon -- with him.

Fleur Pellerin was appointed culture minister and Najat Vallaud-Belkacem education minister.

The reshuffle was seen as an attempt by Hollande, whose popularity is at a record low, to wrest back control of the political agenda, crush internal party rebellion and push forward his economic reform policies.

Leading daily Le Monde described the cabinet reshuffle as "the last chance for the president to save his five-year term."

The new government faces a host of challenges, not least a budget bill in parliament that will be watched very closely by the European Union, which has insisted France slash its ballooning budget deficit.

Caught in a trap of stagnating growth and high unemployment, Hollande is pinning his hopes on his Responsibility Pact -- a package of tax breaks for business funded by public spending cuts.

Hollande has pledged to cut social charges for companies in return for the promised creation of 500,000 jobs.

But with the current emphasis on austerity within Europe, France has vowed to counterbalance that with 50 billion euros ($66 billion) in cuts to public spending.

"The fact that the economy is today slower in Europe and in France does not mean that we should give up" on reforms, Hollande said in an interview last week.

"On the contrary, we need to go faster and further."

But the spending cuts in particular have raised heckles on the left of the French political spectrum, which sees austerity as a German-led policy that drags growth down and unemployment up.

Montebourg attacked austerity as a "financial absurdity" that had pushed France and Europe into the deepest crisis since the 1929 Great Depression and was also driving voters into the arms of extremist parties.

The outspoken left-winger, who is no stranger to controversy, also launched an attack on European powerhouse Germany and its focus on austerity policies.

Montebourg insisted that he was leaving on "amicable terms" with the prime minister, but the ejection of the three left-wing ministers from the cabinet raised fears of a wider split within Hollande's Socialist Party that could threaten his parliamentary majority.

The prime minister himself, seen as closer to the right flank of the Socialist Party, is also deeply unpopular with many on the left of French politics.

Two Green ministers left the government when Valls was appointed in March after the Socialists suffered a drubbing at local elections.

Opposition figures said there was a major crisis of confidence at the heart of the executive, with far-right leader Marine Le Pen even calling for the lower house National Assembly to be dissolved.

Noting that Hollande was "more and more isolated," left-wing daily Liberation said France was suffering a "regime crisis" but the main opposition center-right UMP party has been careful not to call for a dissolution of parliament.

A recent survey by polling institute IFOP showed that more than eight in 10 French people had no confidence in the government when it came to economic growth, reducing the deficit or fighting unemployment.


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« Reply #15205 on: Aug 27, 2014, 05:57 AM »

British Police Urge Public to Inform on 'Aspiring Terrorists'

by Naharnet Newsdesk
26 August 2014, 18:26

British police Tuesday urged people to identify "aspiring terrorists" among their family members, friends and neighbors after the killing of U.S. journalist James Foley, apparently by a man with an English accent.

The appeal also comes amid growing government concern that British passport holders who travel to fight in Iraq and Syria could return to carry out attacks on home soil.

Jihadist group the Islamic State (IS) posted a graphic video online last week showing the beheading of Foley, who had been missing since his 2012 capture in Syria.

"We are appealing to the public, family members and friends to help identify aspiring terrorists; they may be about to travel abroad, have just returned or be showing signs of becoming radicalized," said Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, the country's most senior police officer on counter-terrorism, in a statement.

"Every reasonable person in the country has been touched by the pitiless murder of James Foley at the hands of Islamic State terrorists, and the murderer's apparent British nationality has focused attention on extremism in the UK as well as the Middle East."

He said British police had arrested five times more people in the first half of this year compared with 2013 for "Syria-related" offences.

There were 69 arrests in the first half of 2014 on suspicion of offences including travelling abroad for terrorist training, preparing acts of terrorism and fundraising for terrorist activity.

Some 1,100 pieces of extremist material are also being removed from social media websites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, he added, 800 of them relating to Syria or Iraq.

Intelligence services say 500 Britons have traveled to Syria or Iraq to fight alongside jihadists in the last few years.

The government is under increasing pressure to take steps to combat radicalization and Home Secretary Theresa May said Saturday that she was considering introducing new powers.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on Sunday called it an "utter betrayal" that the killing had apparently been carried out by a Briton.

Rowley also said that "significant progress" was being made in the hunt for Foley's killer and Britain's ambassador to the U.S., Peter Westmacott, told CNN Sunday that the country's authorities were "close" to identifying the man.

************

Abuse Cases in British City Long Ignored, Report Says

1,400 Children in Rotherham, England, Were Sexually Abused, Report Says

By KATRIN BENNHOLD
AUG. 26, 2014
IHT

LONDON — A report released on Tuesday on accusations of widespread sexual abuse in the northern England city of Rotherham found that about 1,400 minors — some as young as 11 years old — were beaten, raped and trafficked from 1997 to 2013 as the local authorities ignored a series of red flags.

Some children were doused in gasoline and threatened with being set on fire if they reported their abusers, the report said, and others were forced to watch rapes and threatened with the same fate. In more than a third of the cases, the victims appear to have been known to child protection agencies, but the police and local government officials failed to act.

Within hours of the report’s publication, the leader of the local government council resigned.

“Having considered the report, I believe it is only right that I, as leader, take responsibility on behalf of the council for the historic failings that are described so clearly in the report, and it is my intention to do so,” said Roger Stone, the leader of the Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council since 2003.

The vast majority of perpetrators have been identified as South Asian and most victims were young white girls, adding to the complexity of the case. Some officials appeared to believe that social workers pointing to a pattern of sexual exploitation were exaggerating, while others reportedly worried about being accused of racism if they spoke out. The report accused officials of ignoring “a politically inconvenient truth” in turning a blind eye to men of Pakistani heritage grooming vulnerable white girls for sex.

It was not until 2010 that the first case of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, a South Yorkshire city of about 250,000 people, made it to court. Five men received long prison sentences for grooming three teenage girls for sex. It was one of several high-profile prosecutions over the past four years that revealed sexual exploitation in cities including Oxford, Rochdale and Derby.

The Times of London later published a series of articles claiming that the local authorities had been aware of several instances of sexual abuse that were not prosecuted. The Rotherham Council eventually commissioned an independent inquiry that led to Tuesday’s report.

Alexis Jay, the author of the report and a former chief inspector of social work, said that vulnerable girls as young as 11 and largely from disadvantaged backgrounds had been brutalized by groups of men.

“They were raped by multiple perpetrators, trafficked to other towns and cities in the north of England, abducted, beaten and intimidated,” she wrote.

The report described the failures of the political and police leadership as blatant. Even as social workers reported that the sexual exploitation of children was becoming a serious problem in Rotherham, senior managers in the local authority and South Yorkshire police ignored them. When victims came forward, Ms. Jay said, the police often regarded them “with contempt.”

Three earlier reports, published from 2002 to 2006, detailed the abuse, and according to Ms. Jay, “could not have been clearer in the description of the situation in Rotherham.” But the first one was “effectively suppressed” and the other two “ignored,” she said.

Some officials were apparently ordered by their managers to withhold information on the ethnic origin of the abusers, the report said. As a result, no contact was made with local Pakistani leaders for help in identifying gangs that continued to assault and abduct teenagers.


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« Reply #15206 on: Aug 27, 2014, 06:04 AM »

IMF Chief Threatened by French Court Case

by Naharnet Newsdesk
27 August 2014, 12:54

Christine Lagarde smashed the glass ceiling at one of the world's preeminent institutions when she was named three years ago to lead the International Monetary Fund, capping a shooting-star career.

She then led the IMF's tentatively successful efforts to halt the implosion of the eurozone and helped the Fund get past the embarrassing sex scandal left by her predecessor Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

But one key event when she was French finance minister in 2007-2008 -- a huge state payout to controversial tycoon Bernard Tapie -- threatens to mar that record and possibly cut short her career on the global stage.

After four rounds of gruelling questioning, a French court this week charged her with "negligence" over the multi-million graft case.

She told Agence France Presse Wednesday she had been placed "under formal investigation".

In France, being placed under formal investigation is the nearest equivalent to being charged, and happens when an examining magistrate has decided there is a case to be answered.

It does not, however, always lead to a trial and she stressed she was not stepping down as head of the IMF.

A steady career climb to the top of global finance has long made the deep-tanned, silver-haired Lagarde a French stand-out.

Now 58, she was born in Paris to academic parents and brought up in the port city of Le Havre.

As a teenager she was a synchronised swimming champion and learned to speak nearly flawless English.

After earning a law degree, she skipped a French establishment career and instead joined the Paris office of prestigious U.S. legal consulting giant Baker and McKenzie.

Over 18 years she pushed her way up to become chairwoman of the company's global executive committee in 1999, a first for the firm, and then of its global strategy committee in 2004.

She then embraced politics, joining the government of president Jacques Chirac as trade minister in June 2005.

Two years later Chirac's successor Nicolas Sarkozy named her agriculture minister, and shortly after switched her to the finance portfolio.

Though no economist, she proved deft at dealing with the erupting financial crisis that would threaten eurozone unity.

- 'I must have been a dolphin' -

In 2011, with France in charge of the G20 group of the world's largest economies, she became the go-to person on efforts to combat the effects of the crisis and reform the global financial system.

That record underpinned her being chosen ahead of strong emerging economy rivals to be IMF managing director after Strauss-Kahn was forced to resign in May 2011.

At the IMF, she played a crucial role in renegotiating the second Greek bailout and worked hard to contain the fallout from rescues in Portugal, Ireland, and Cyprus.

Both a tough negotiator and a determined consensus-builder, she didn't hesitate to cross swords with the very officials she was working closely with in her previous job, even criticising her successor as finance minister, Pierre Moscovici, of being asleep during one Cyprus crisis meeting.

"There are many instances of Ms. Lagarde's courageous truth-telling," said economist Desmond Lachman, a former IMF official.

At the same time, she has skillfully managed the shifting currents of power in the Fund, where emerging giants like China are challenging the Europe-U.S.-dominated status quo.

She has also fashioned herself as an icon to talented women fighting male dominance in large organisations like the IMF.

But the mother-of-two-sons keeps her feelings and personal life hidden beneath a hard shell.

Though a smooth talker, she at times has drawn accusations of aloofness. While a minister, she told French complaining about high fuel prices to ride their bicycles.

The healthy-living vegetarian still pushes herself hard in the pool, once telling the Wall Street Journal: "I think in a previous life I must have been a dolphin."


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« Reply #15207 on: Aug 27, 2014, 06:07 AM »

Erdogan Vows No Change Ahead of Turkey Handover

by Naharnet Newsdesk
27 August 2014, 11:27

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday pledged that the policies of his ruling party would not change as he prepared to take the presidency and hand the job of premier to Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Erdogan gave a keynote farewell speech to Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as it held a congress to confirm Davutoglu as the new party leader and premier when he becomes president.

The Turkish strongman rejected suggestions that Davutoglu would simply be a puppet premier and said that the AKP would never be a "one man" party.

The vast congress, which mustered some 40,000 people at an Ankara sports arena, was a key step in a tightly-choreographed process to ensure the succession goes smoothly.

Erdogan -- who has ruled Turkey as premier for over a decade with Islamic-tinted and development-focused policies -- will be sworn in as president on Thursday after his victory in the August 10 election.

In a marathon two-hour speech, Erdogan said the government's strategy would not change with the handover and said the party had "always excluded personal ambitions and arrogance".

"Names have no importance. Names change today but our essence, our mission, our spirits, our goals and ideals remain in place."

Erdogan, who has two sons and two daughters, described the party he helped found as his "fifth child" but said the "farewell time" had come.

Under Turkish law, the president should sever all ties with political parties. But Erdogan said the party was not just about one person.

"The AKP will never be a one-man party. It is a party of principles," he said.

"Our cause will not change tomorrow and it will not be abandoned in the future."

- 'Davutoglu not a caretaker' -

The congress is a largely ceremonial affair with Davutoglu the only candidate for party leader and premier after his candidacy was agreed by the party's executive committee last week.

It will make a formal show of voting on his candidacy later in the day.

Erdogan entered the congress with his wife Emine to a rock star-style welcome, throwing red carnations to the crowds and a pop song booming out with the chorus "Recep Tayyip Erdogan".

The slogan of the congress "all together for a new Turkey" emphasises Erdogan's ambition to transform the country into an economically-booming world power.

Erdogan, 60, is expected to revamp what has been until now a largely ceremonial post of president into a powerful role, with Davutoglu a loyal ally who will not pose any obstacles.

"This is not a change of mission, it is just a change of names," Erdogan said in an outdoor morning speech in Ankara before heading into the congress.

"This is not a farewell. We will continue to serve our people from Edirne to Hakkari," referring to cities at opposite ends of Turkey close to the borders with Greece and Iraq.

In his speech to the congress, Erdogan however insisted that Davutoglu would be a figure of real stature and power as prime minister.

"I would like to stress this: Davutoglu is not a caretaker. Everyone should know that."

Erdogan also said that Davutoglu, 55, will form a new cabinet by Friday, with intense speculation over who will hold the top jobs.

Press reports have tipped the head of Turkey's intelligence service Hakan Fidan as a possible new foreign minister while there is also huge attention on the future of economic pointman and market favourite Ali Babacan in the government.

Davutoglu, who became foreign minister in 2009, is a controversial figure blamed by some for pursuing an over-ambitious foreign policy that led to the rise of Islamic militants in Syria.

Erdogan boasted of the success of the AKP in turning Turkey into a fast-growing emerging market after the chaos of its 2001 economic crisis.

"When we took office, there were dark clouds over Turkey, but today we have an economy that the whole world admires," he said.

***********

New Turkey PM Leaves Troubled Foreign Policy Legacy

by Naharnet Newsdesk
27 August 2014, 07:10

Turkey's new premier and outgoing foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu leaves his successor a troubled legacy after a bold policy to expand Turkish influence across the ex-Ottoman empire left the country painfully exposed to the Syria and Iraq crises.

Critics accuse Davutoglu of persuing ideas that backfired disastrously by backing Islamic rebels in Syria who then went on to create the brutal Islamic State (IS) jihadist group.

Moderates are calling for a recalibration of Turkish foreign policy when outgoing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan takes the presidency on Thursday to mend fences with the West and pursue more realistic goals in the Middle East.

Yet this is far from guaranteed under Erdogan, who said his election victory was not just for Turkey but the Muslim world from Sarajevo to Islamabad.

"With this approach, Turkey has increased its profile but also found itself a part of many conflicts in the region," said Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, director at the German Marshall Fund think-tank in Ankara.

The identity of Turkey's new top diplomat is yet to be revealed but reports it could be the head of Turkey's secret service Hakan Fidan, an Erdogan loyalist, hardly suggest a sharp about-turn in policy.

Davutoglu's unassuming and smiley demeanor belied his reputation as a steely idealogue who was the architect of Turkish foreign policy for most of the past decade.

His thinking is based on his 2001 book "Strategic Depth", where he argues that Turkey should embrace its Ottoman past and use its unique geo-strategic position to restore its influence throughout the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Middle East.

But initial successes in asserting Turkey's power were cancelled out after the Arab Spring uprising when interventionist Turkish policies only brought more strife. 

- 'Crazy and irresponsible' -

Turkey stands accused of arming radical groups fighting against the Syrian regime, in the hope that it would quickly bring down President Bashar Assad.

"Incapable of convincing its former ally Assad to engage in reforms, Turkey took the crazy and irresponsible decision to support -- directly or indirectly -- the jihadists," said Bayram Balci of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

He said Turkey's ambiguous relations with the jihadists contributed to their growth in Syria and Iraq.

In a huge personal embarrassment for Davutoglu, IS militants are now holding 49 Turks hostage, including diplomats and children, abducted from the Turkish consulate in Mosul on June 12.

Critics have expressed bewilderment that despite such failures, Davutoglu has been promoted.

"You, yourself, handed over the hostages to IS. You have moulded IS into its current shape," said the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

"It's amazing how he has been rewarded," he said.

As the world takes on IS, Ankara has remained silent in order not to endanger the lives of the hostages who are believed to be kept as human shields.

A Western diplomat said it was Davutoglu's unrealistic assumptions about Turkey's power that pushed the country to become a part of the problem.

"Turkey cannot pursue an ambitious foreign policy in the region anymore because it has so many security concerns right now. It can only do damage control and try to minimize the losses that can occur from the crisis on its doorstep," he told Agence France Presse on condition of anonymity. 

NATO member Turkey's relations with Israel have eroded almost to breaking point, in the wake of Erdogan's blistering attacks on the Jewish state. 

- EU, US relations soured -

Meanwhile, Erdogan's periodic clampdowns on social media and anti-government protests have also soured relations with the United States and the European Union.

"Improving relations with the U.S. and the EU will take improving democracy, freedom of expression and rule of law in Turkey," said Unluhisarcikli.

Political scientist Behlul Ozkan -- who has analysed academic articles Davutoglu penned in the 1990s -- describes him as "a pan-Islamist who uses Islam to achieve his foreign policy goals".

"He (Davutoglu) believes that the nation-states that were formed in 1918 were artificial... He wants to go back in time to an order based on Islamic unity," Ozkan told the Taraf newspaper.

Still, his policies remain hugely popular among the AKP's pious voters, who hail Davutoglu for raising the country's international profile.

"Davutoglu has opened a new chapter in foreign policy thinking by positioning Turkey as a country of the center" Ibrahim Kalin, one of Erdogan's advisers, wrote in the pro-government Sabah newspaper.

"He has refused to confine Turkey just to the East or to the West."


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« Reply #15208 on: Aug 27, 2014, 06:26 AM »

U.S. Mobilizes Allies to Widen Assault on ISIS

By HELENE COOPER and MARK LANDLER
AUG. 26, 2014
IHT

WASHINGTON — The United States has begun to mobilize a broad coalition of allies behind potential American military action in Syria and is moving toward expanded airstrikes in northern Iraq, administration officials said on Tuesday.

President Obama, the officials said, was broadening his campaign against the Sunni militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and nearing a decision to authorize airstrikes and airdrops of food and water around the northern Iraqi town of Amerli, home to members of Iraq’s Turkmen minority. The town of 12,000 has been under siege for more than two months by the militants.

“Rooting out a cancer like ISIL won’t be easy, and it won’t be quick,” Mr. Obama said in a speech on Tuesday to the American Legion in Charlotte, N.C., using an alternative name for ISIS. He said that the United States was building a coalition to “take the fight to these barbaric terrorists,” and that the militants would be “no match” for a united international community.

Administration officials characterized the dangers facing the Turkmen, who are Shiite Muslims considered infidels by ISIS, as similar to the threat faced by thousands of Yazidis, who were driven to Mount Sinjar in Iraq after attacks by the militants. The United Nations special representative for Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, said in a statement three days ago that the situation in Amerli “demands immediate action to prevent the possible massacre of its citizens.”

As Mr. Obama considered new strikes, the White House began its diplomatic campaign to enlist allies and neighbors in the region to increase their support for Syria’s moderate opposition and, in some cases, to provide support for possible American military operations. The countries likely to be enlisted include Australia, Britain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, officials said.

The officials, who asked not to be named discussing sensitive internal deliberations, said they expected that Britain and Australia would be willing to join the United States in an air campaign. The officials said they also wanted help from Turkey, which has military bases that could be used to support an effort in Syria.

Turkey is a transit route for foreign fighters, including those from the United States and Europe who have traveled to Syria to join ISIS. Administration officials said they are now asking officials in Ankara to help tighten the border. The administration is also seeking intelligence and surveillance help from Jordan as well as financial help from Saudi Arabia, which bankrolls groups in Syria that are fighting President Bashar al-Assad.

On Monday the Pentagon began surveillance flights over Syria in an effort to collect information on possible ISIS targets as a precursor to airstrikes, a senior official said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an organization that monitors the humanitarian consequences of the conflict in Syria, reported that “non-Syrian spy planes” on Monday carried out surveillance of ISIS positions in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor.

Although America’s allies in the region have plenty of reasons to support an intensified effort against ISIS, analysts said, the United States will have to navigate tensions among them.

“One of the problems is that different countries have different clients among the fighting groups in Syria,” said Robert S. Ford, a former American ambassador to Syria. “To get them all to work together, the best thing would be for them to pick one client and funnel all the funds through that client. You’ve got to pick one command structure.”

But persuading counties to help the United States in a military campaign in Syria will require more effort, administration officials said. Turkey, for example, is in the midst of a political transition, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ascending to the presidency.

His likely successor as prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, has been deeply immersed in Syria as foreign minister. The White House, meanwhile, has been unable to win Senate confirmation of a new ambassador to Turkey, John Bass, leaving the post vacant at a critical time.

Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf emirates are important as a source of funding for the rebels, but there are strains among them. Qatar, for example, helped negotiate the release of an American hostage, Peter Theo Curtis, who was being held by a less extreme militant group, the Nusra Front. But Saudi Arabia does not talk to the Nusra Front, and the Obama administration has sought to navigate between the feuding gulf countries.

Enlisting the Sunni neighbors of Syria is crucial, experts said, because airstrikes alone will not be enough to push back ISIS. The administration, Mr. Ford said, needs to pursue a sequential strategy that begins with gathering intelligence, followed by targeted airstrikes, more robust and better coordinated support for the moderate rebels, and finally, a political reconciliation process similar to that underway in Iraq.

The White House is also debating how to satisfy a second constituency, Congress. Mr. Obama’s advisers are considering whether to seek congressional authorization for expanded military action and if so, under what legal rationale. Lawmakers had been reluctant to vote on airstrikes in Iraq, but several have begun arguing that the broader action being contemplated by Mr. Obama would demand a vote in Congress.

“I do not believe that our expanded military operations against ISIL are covered under existing authorizations from Congress,” said Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, a Democratic member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Senator Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican who is the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said on MSNBC that Congress needed to “own” any further military action against the militants.

On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement that seven Western countries had pledged to provide weapons and ammunition to Kurdish forces who are fighting ISIS in northern Iraq.

Albania, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, France, Italy and Britain have committed to sending arms and equipment to the Kurds, Mr. Hagel said, adding that operations would “accelerate in coming days with more nations also expected to contribute.”

Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said Albania and Britain had started moving supplies to the Kurds.

******************

Betrayal of Yazidis Stokes Iraqi Fears of Return to 2006 Sectarian Horrors

By AZAM AHMED
AUG. 26, 2014
IHT

ZAKHO, Iraq — The afternoon before his family fled the onslaught of Sunni militants, Dakhil Habash was visited by three of his Arab neighbors. Over tea, his trusted friend Matlul Mare told him not to worry about the advancing fighters and that no harm would come to him or his Yazidi people.

The men had helped one another over the years: Mr. Mare brought supplies to Mr. Habash’s community in the years after the American invasion, when travel outside their northern enclave was too dangerous for Yazidis. Mr. Mare bought tomatoes and watermelon from Mr. Habash’s farm and sometimes borrowed money.

But his friend’s assurances did not sit right with Mr. Habash. That night, he gathered his family and fled. Soon afterward, he said, he found out that Mr. Mare had joined the militants and was helping them hunt down Yazidi families.

“Our Arab neighbors turned on all of us,” said Mr. Habash, who recounted his story from a makeshift refugee camp on the banks of a fetid stream near the city of Zakho, in Iraqi Kurdistan. “We feel betrayed. They were our friends.”

It would be the last time the men saw each other, as they were swept into different spheres of Iraq’s fracturing sectarian landscape, where militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria are filling their ranks with the country’s disenfranchised Sunni Arabs.

Some Iraqis fear that the plight of the Yazidis, thousands of whom are missing or have been massacred by ISIS fighters, could be a harbinger of a return to the sectarian nightmare of 2006 and 2007, when neighbors turned against neighbors.

Many Sunni tribes have not supported ISIS’s advance. But the group has benefited from widespread bitterness among Sunni Arabs over perceived mistreatment at the hands of the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. When ISIS arrived, officials say, some Sunnis saw an opportunity to reclaim some of the supremacy they enjoyed under Saddam Hussein’s rule.

As ISIS has advanced, more than 400,000 Yazidis, who follow an ancient religion with roots in Muslim and Zoroastrian traditions, have been forced to flee their enclaves. The humanitarian crisis helped prompt President Obama to authorize American airstrikes to halt the slaughter, a decisive step in checking the militants’ advance across northern Iraq.

“I called my closest friend after we fled, an Arab man who owned a shop in our village,” said a Yazidi man who identified himself only as Haso, declining to give his first name out of fear of reprisal. “When I asked him what he was doing, he told me he was looking for Yazidis to kill.”

The friend denied Haso’s account. But he grew angry when a journalist referred to the militant group as ISIS, because the militants now prefer to be called the Islamic State.

Another Yazidi refugee, Qasim Omar, said that just before ISIS reached his village, Arab neighbors began flying the group’s black flag from their homes.

“Before ISIS came, the Arab villagers had already helped them,” said Mr. Omar, 63. “I couldn’t believe it. They were our brothers.”

The extent of the collusion is hard to map. Many Yazidi families interviewed did not have firsthand information of Arab neighbors aiding ISIS. And in some cases, Arabs risked their lives to save persecuted friends.

Why Obama Is Helping the Yazidis in Iraq

Click to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abUg7E662-8

With humanitarian crises around the world, a look at why President Obama decided to use military force to help the Yazidis, a religious minority in Iraq.

But amid the chaos, an emotional truth has emerged: ISIS has destroyed the peaceful coexistence that many northern towns once cherished.

“We would like to go back to our village, but we will never have a relationship with the Arabs anymore,” Mr. Habash said. “It will never be the same.”

His realization began on Aug. 4, when Mr. Mare and some other neighbors who lived near his family’s farm came to his door, seemingly making the rounds of all of their Yazidi neighbors.

Over tea, the men told the family to remove their flag supporting the Kurdish Democratic Party and replace it with a white one.

“You will be safe,” Mr. Mare repeated, according to Mr. Habash and other family members who were present.

The men left at sunset and the family waited, Mr. Habash said.

A few hours later, calls began to pour in from friends as nearby villages fell to ISIS. The Kurdish pesh merga security forces were retreating. Men were being executed. Women and children were vanishing. At 2 a.m., the family fled.

But Mr. Habash’s niece stayed behind with her husband’s family.

“Her new family trusted the Arabs more than they trusted us,” said her father, Mohsin Habash, who stayed behind for his daughter.

The rest of the family raced toward the Yazidi enclaves at Mount Sinjar, but discovered that the road to the Syrian border was still open, and headed there instead. That evening, they arrived at a border checkpoint, among a caravan of trucks swollen with passengers collected along the way.

Later, they headed into Iraqi Kurdistan, where they received a call from a fellow Yazidi who had been stopped at a snap checkpoint set up by the militants. Manning the roadblock was an armed crew of ISIS fighters and local Arabs, among them Mr. Mare.

“He asked me why I was leaving, and I told him I needed to see my family members,” said Nasr Qasim Kachal, the friend.

“Then go to hell,” Mr. Kachal, reached by phone, recalled Mr. Mare saying before he was waved through.

Mr. Habash’s niece, Ahlan Mohsin Kalo, was not as lucky. She and her family stayed for two days before deciding to flee. But on their way out of town, Mr. Mare spotted them, according to villagers and Mr. Kachal.

Her father has not heard from her since. “They didn’t have time to run,” Mohsin Habash said.

Though Mohsin Habash’s family suffered because of one Arab neighbor, he pointed out that they were saved with the help of another: a longtime friend who led a convoy of Yazidi refugees to safety at great risk.

The convoy drove through the night, passing ISIS-controlled territories undetected. Mohsin Habash believes it was because his friend knew the Arab areas better than any of the Yazidis.

Hours later, they reached Syria. From there, Mohsin Habash’s friend introduced them to another Arab man who took the group to the border with Kurdistan.

“He saved us,” Mr. Habash said.


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« Reply #15209 on: Aug 27, 2014, 06:27 AM »

Afghan Election in Crisis as Candidate Pulls out of Audit

by Naharnet Newsdesk
27 August 2014, 09:48

Afghanistan's fraud-hit election teetered on the brink of collapse Wednesday as one of the two candidates boycotted the U.N.-supervised vote audit set up to end a prolonged dispute over the rightful winner.

Abdullah Abdullah, who claims that massive fraud was committed against him in the June 14 vote, pulled out of the audit after his senior campaign officials dismissed the process for invalidating fake votes as "a joke".

The stand-off between Abdullah and his poll rival Ashraf Ghani has threatened to revive ethnic violence in Afghanistan as U.S.-led NATO troops withdraw after 13-years of fighting the Taliban insurgents.

The audit of all eight million votes was halted on Wednesday morning when Abdullah's observers refused to participate -- despite a U.S.-brokered deal in which both sides vowed to support the recount and respect its outcome.

"We will not join the process today, and maybe we will not re-join the process at all," Fazel Aqa Hussain Sancharaki, a spokesman for the Abdullah campaign, told Agence France Presse.

"Talks are ongoing with the U.N. If that reaches an agreement, we will come back. If not, that is the end of it."

With both candidates claiming victory, outgoing President Hamid Karzai has upped the stakes by insisting that his successor is inaugurated next Tuesday.

The U.N. has voiced fears of a return to the ethnic divisions of the 1990s civil war if the election dispute sets off a spiral of instability.

Any backlash against the final result could split the country, since many of Ghani's supporters are Pashtuns in the south and east, while Abdullah's loyalists are Tajiks and other northern groups.


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