MintPress News http://www.mintpressnews.com Independent, non-partisan journalism Sat, 30 Aug 2014 10:00:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Independent, non-partisan journalism Mint Press News clean Mint Press News mmuhawesh@mintpressnews.com mmuhawesh@mintpressnews.com (Mint Press News) All Rights Reserved Independent, non-partisan journalism MintPress News http://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/powerpress/MintPressLogo_iTUNES.jpg http://www.mintpressnews.com Ferguson Protesters File Lawsuit Against Police for Civil Rights Violations http://www.mintpressnews.com/ferguson-protesters-file-lawsuit-police-civil-rights-violations/196071/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ferguson-protesters-file-lawsuit-police-civil-rights-violations http://www.mintpressnews.com/ferguson-protesters-file-lawsuit-police-civil-rights-violations/196071/#comments Sat, 30 Aug 2014 10:00:53 +0000 http://www.mintpressnews.com/?p=196071 Plaintiffs say police used 'excessive force' in arresting both protesters and bystanders. Continue reading

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Police Shooting-Missouri

Protestors confront police during an impromptu rally, Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014 to protest the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Mo., Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014. Police said Brown, who was unarmed, was fatally shot Saturday in a scuffle with an officer.

Protesters in Ferguson, Missouri filed a $40 million federal lawsuit on Thursday alleging that police in the local and county departments violated civil rights and used excessive force to falsely arrest innocent bystanders in an attempt to crack down on the demonstrations that took place throughout the month.

The death of Michael Brown, a black teenager who was unarmed when he was shot to death by Officer Darren Wilson, who is white, sparked weeks of marches and demonstrations against police brutality and racism.

The five plaintiffs, including some who were not involved with the protests but encountered officers while eating out or walking home, said they were arrested violently, shot at with rubber bullets, and subjected to racial slurs.

“The police were completely out of control,” said attorney Malik Shabazz of Black Lawyers for Justice. “In those initial days, it was virtually a police riot.”

The lawsuit names Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, Ferguson officer Justin Cosma, several unnamed officers collectively identified in the suit as “John Doe,” and the city and county governments.

Early days of the protests saw the police forces dressed in riot gear and shooting tear gas and rubber bullets into crowds of unarmed protesters. After days of unrest, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon put the State Highway Patrol in charge of securing Ferguson, which initially helped ease tensions. But police brutality returned to the protests after St. Louis County police were allowed back on the ground shortly after state troopers took over operations.

Talking Points Memo writes:

Plaintiff Tracey White said she and her son, a high school junior, were waiting for a ride from her husband at a West Florissant Avenue McDonald’s after attending an Aug. 13 “peace and love” rally at a Ferguson church when several rifle-carrying officers told her she was being arrested because she would not “shut up.” White said she and her son were detained for five hours at the county jail on charges of failing to disperse, but she said she was not provided with any records reflecting that charge or a future court date.

“It was so horrifying,” she said. “We did nothing wrong.”

Dwayne Anton Matthews Jr. said he was confronted by eight officers that same night while walking to his mother’s home after the bus route he normally takes stopped short of his destination because of the unrest. The suit alleges that after Matthews was shot multiple times with rubber bullets, he fell into a creek or sewer, where police officers “pounced on him, slammed his face into the concrete and pushed his head under water to the point that he felt he was going to be drowned.”

Matthews, who styles his hair in long dreadlocks, told reporters at a Thursday press conference outside the St. Louis federal courthouse that he was called a “coon” and a “mophead,” among other racial slurs.

Hundreds were arrested in recent weeks, including protesters, reporters, lawyers, and community leaders. Wilson has not been arrested for Brown’s death.

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Rendition Victims Urge Obama To Declassify Senate Torture Report http://www.mintpressnews.com/rendition-victims-urge-obama-declassify-senate-torture-report/196068/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rendition-victims-urge-obama-declassify-senate-torture-report http://www.mintpressnews.com/rendition-victims-urge-obama-declassify-senate-torture-report/196068/#comments Sat, 30 Aug 2014 10:00:44 +0000 http://www.mintpressnews.com/?p=196068 'You must now take responsibility for telling the world — and more importantly the American people — the whole truth about rendition and American torture.' Continue reading

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A watch tower overlooks the area near the Polish intelligence school just outside of Stare Kiejkuty, Poland, on Friday, Dec. 16, 2005. The installation has become the focal point of allegations of secret CIA prisons in Poland. The United States has denied access of information concerning extraordinary rendition to UK MPs. ( AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

A watch tower overlooks the area near the Polish intelligence school just outside of Stare Kiejkuty, Poland, on Friday, Dec. 16, 2005. The installation has become the focal point of allegations of secret CIA prisons in Poland. (AP/Czarek Sokolowski)

As officials continue to delay the release of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on post-9/11 CIA interrogation techniques, 10 victims of CIA rendition and torture have signed an open letter (pdf) to President Obama asking him to declassify the heavily redacted report.

The 500-page summary of the report, which includes details about secret overseas prisons, waterboarding of suspected enemy combatants, and rendition — the practice of sending a terrorist suspect covertly to be interrogated in a foreign country  — was so extensively redacted as to render it “impossible to understand,” as one critic put it. The report was expected to be released in August, but has been delayed and is currently thought to be sitting on President Obama’s desk while negotiations over declassification continue.

The signatories to the letter want these blackouts removed, in order to force a public reckoning with and official acknowledgement of their experiences.

“Despite living thousands of miles apart and leading different lives today, a shared experience unites us: the CIA abducted each of us in the past and flew us to secret prisons for torture,” reads the letter, which was coordinated by the international human rights group Reprieve. “Some of us were kidnapped with our pregnant wives or children. All of us were later released without charge, redress or apology from the US. We now want the American public to read that story, in full, and without redactions… You must now take responsibility for telling the world — and more importantly the American people — the whole truth about rendition and American torture.”

The letter, which details prolonged confinement in small boxes and dark spaces, waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and “bombardment with noise and weapons,” continues:

Torture, we thought, was something only dictators did. Colonel Gaddafi’s thugs were infamous for maiming and killing political opponents in Libya. In Egypt activists often disappeared. Moroccan interrogation techniques include “bottle torture,” where bottles are used to violate prisoners. We understood the Syrian regime’s brutality well before it murdered thousands of its citizens.

Before our abductions, though, none of us imagined the torturers standing over us one day would come from the United States.

Publishing the truth is not just important for the US’s standing in the world. It is a necessary part of correcting America’s own history. Today in America, the architects of the torture program declare on television they did the right thing. High-profile politicians tell assembled Americans that ‘waterboarding’ is a ‘baptism’ that American forces should still engage in.

These statements only breed hatred and intolerance. This is a moment when America can move away from all that, but only if her people are not sheltered from the truth.

In advance of an August 29 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) filing deadline, Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has reportedly asked for an additional one-month delay due to “ongoing negotiations” between the Committee, the Obama administration, and the CIA regarding declassification.

Earlier this week, the ACLU filed a FOIA lawsuit demanding the CIA release all three reports about “its post-9/11 program of rendition, secret detention, and torture of detainees” — the 6,000-page Senate Select Committee Intelligence Committee report; the CIA’s report in response, defending the agency’s actions; and a report commissioned by former CIA  Director Leon Panetta, which is reportedly consistent with the Committee’s investigative report findings, but contradicts the CIA’s response to the SSCI.

The Guardian reports:

While Feinstein and the CIA have reached the nadir of their relationship — the CIA intends to attack her report’s credibility — there are concerns that the CIA has weighed the scale in favor of secrecy. Obama allowed it to lead the declassification review, despite its interest in keeping the report secret. McClatchy reported this week that the main declassification interlocutor with Feinstein, top intelligence lawyer Robert Litt, represented CIA clients in private practice in undisclosed lawsuits.

“We believe the public should know the full story of what took place in the CIA’s secret prisons and that all of these documents – the Senate report, the CIA response, and the Panetta review should be released to the public,” said Jameel Jaffer, the deputy legal director of the ACLU, which filed the freedom-of-information case.

“It’s disappointing that the government is seeking further delay, but, given Senator Feinstein’s assurances, we’re hopeful that all of the documents will be released with very limited redactions in September.”

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War Without Reason: Mark Perry On The Futility Of The Assault On Gaza http://www.mintpressnews.com/war-without-reason-mark-perry-on-the-futility-of-the-assault-on-gaza/196089/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=war-without-reason-mark-perry-on-the-futility-of-the-assault-on-gaza http://www.mintpressnews.com/war-without-reason-mark-perry-on-the-futility-of-the-assault-on-gaza/196089/#comments Sat, 30 Aug 2014 10:00:31 +0000 http://www.mintpressnews.com/?p=196089 MintPress talks to author Mark Perry about Israel’s shifting goals in its most recent actions against Gaza and the amount of artillery it used in the area during one especially devastating assault. Continue reading

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Israel

Palestinians search the rubble to collect what they can from their family destroyed houses, hit by Israeli strikes in the Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014.

The Pentagon is reportedly in possession of a summary report that details how the Israeli army used up to 7,000 shells to bombard Shuja’iya in Gaza City on July 20, according to analysis run by Al-Jazeera America on Thursday.

The amount of shells and artillery pieces used in Shuja’iya is significant because the bombardment was one of the more notorious events during Operation Protective Edge, having killed 65 Palestinians. During a ground assault in the neighborhood prior to the July 20 bombing, 13 members of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were also killed.

Mark Perry, the author of the analysis and the book “Talking to Terrorists: Why America Must Engage with its Enemies,” explains that when speaking with a “high-ranking U.S. military officer,” information regarding the number of Israeli battalions (11), artillery pieces (258), and “high explosive shells” (7,000) used in Shuja’iya was divulged.

During an interview with MintPress News, Perry said that he was “almost certain” that the report contained the same informationSecretary of State John Kerry reacted to when he famously exclaimed, “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation!”

Meanwhile, Perry’s report states that Lt. Gen. Robert Gard, a war veteran and chairman of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington, exclaimed: “If the figures are even half right, Israel’s response was absolutely disproportionate!”

Perry said that he became interested in what happened in Shuja’iya because he was “interested in military tactics and… fascinated by Israel’s approach to controlling Hamas.” From the start of the war, he said, he believed Israel would emotionally overreact to what he called a “modest threat.”

The most pertinent example of that overreaction, coupled with an inappropriate military reaction, was the battle of Shuja’iya, he explained.

“It was almost as if they hadn’t read Clausewitz,” he said. “They did not look at this military confrontation as having political goals.”

He asserted that Israel initially claimed it wanted to disarm Hamas, then it said it wanted to demilitarize Gaza. After that, it wanted to break up the unity government, then it was going to destroy the tunnels, and finally, its goal was to strengthen and deepen ties with the United States.

All of this confusion, as well as the high civilian casualty rate (up to 2,200 Gazans and 69 Israelis), has led Perry to believe that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not have any clear political goals in mind before embarking on this war. However, Israel did declare a 3-kilometer buffer zone (1.8 miles) around the Gaza Strip, which “eats up about 44 percent of Gaza’s territory.

Perry said the “we’re going to make them pay” mentality is not a political goal, and it ended up costing the Israelis because Gazans are now more vigilant in their support for Hamas, and Israel has had to concede Hamas’ role in the unity government.

What it did show, he said, was the futility of an emotional war unguided by clear policy goals.

Netanyahu is in trouble because Israel’s right-wing looks at him and sees a person that “cannot protect southern Israel because Hamas can still fire rockets in there, and the left-wing looks at him as a war monger,” he continued.

Following Tuesday’s ceasefire, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has been quoted as saying: “From the start we set achievable goals and accomplished them.”

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Feds Set To Open Fracking Floodgates In California Based On One Flawed Study http://www.mintpressnews.com/feds-set-open-fracking-floodgates-california-based-one-flawed-study/196066/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feds-set-open-fracking-floodgates-california-based-one-flawed-study http://www.mintpressnews.com/feds-set-open-fracking-floodgates-california-based-one-flawed-study/196066/#comments Sat, 30 Aug 2014 10:00:19 +0000 http://www.mintpressnews.com/?p=196066 Report raises grave concerns about fracking pollution’s threat to state's air and water, say opponents, and also highlights fact that government officials have never collected the data needed to determine extent of danger and future destruction. Continue reading

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Drilling rig

Drilling rig at Lost Hills field in California (Photo courtesy of Earthworks)

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has put the ecosystems, water resources, and residents of California at urgent risk, expert critics are warning, by accepting a failed scientific review of the dangers of fracking in the state as a basis to begin issuing permits for the controversial gas drilling technique as soon as next year.

The BLM-commissioned study was conducted by the California Council on Science and Technology and came in response to a lawsuit brought by two environmental groups—the Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club—who objected to the leasing of public land in California to oil and gas companies for the drilling process also known as hydraulic fracturing—which injects water, sand, and chemicals deep into the earth to release fossil fuel deposits trapped in shale formations. A federal judge ordered the study in 2013 after ruling that the BLM had violated state law by issuing oil leases in Monterey County, Calif., without considering fracking’s environmental risks.

The findings of the report, according to the BLM, conclude that no serious dangers were found and signaled that fracking licenses could be issued on federal lands for drilling in 2015. Jim Kenna, the BLM’s California state director, told reporters on a media call that the report would allow state regulators to authorized fracking while also monitoring for safety, environmental impacts, and health concerns.

But as the Los Angeles Times points out, even the independent research organization that conducted the survey on which the decision was based says the study had severe shortcomings and lacked key metrics.

[The report] authors noted that they had little time and scant information on which to base conclusions, citing widespread “data gaps” and inadequate scientific resources for a more thorough study.

For example, the report found no evidence of water contamination from fracking in California, but the scientist directing the research, Jane Long, said researchers also had no data on the quality of water near fracking sites.

“We can only tell you what the data we could get says,” said Long, a former director at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. “We can’t tell you what we don’t know.”

Environmental groups say the flaws of report are glaring—demonstrating a rushed process and an inadequate survey of data—and slammed the BLM for indicating that fracking leases would be approved based on such flimsy and inconclusive evidence.

“This report raises grave concerns about fracking pollution’s threat to California’s air and water, but it also highlights the fact that government officials have never collected the data needed to determine the extent of the damage in our state,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “A few months of incomplete data simply can’t support a federal decision to resume selling off our public lands in California to oil companies. Using this report as a basis for continued fracking in California is illogical and illegal.”

The poverty of the report would not be so bad, according to Siegel, if the coming decisions based on its findings were not so profound.

“How can we count on a fair and unbiased process for evaluating the decision to resume leasing when the head of California BLM has predetermined the outcome?” she asked. “First we get the verdict, and then we get the trial.”

According to a review of the study by the San Francisco Chronicle, fracking in California may well, in fact, “endanger groundwater” in the state. The newspaper reports:

The report found that half of the oil wells fracked in the state lie within 2,000 feet of the surface, close to aquifers. Hydraulic fracturing uses a high-pressure blend of water, sand and chemicals to crack rocks containing oil or natural gas. Those cracks can sometimes extend as far up as 1,969 feet – not far from the surface.

Fracking chemicals, some of them toxic, could migrate along the cracks and leach into drinking water, according to the report. There are no recorded cases of that happening in California, the authors note, but it remains a possibility needing further study.

“In California, hydraulic fracturing is occurring at relatively shallow depths and presents an inherent risk for fractures to intersect nearby aquifers,” reads the report, from the California Council on Science and Technology.

Water wells in Kern County, where most of California’s fracking takes place, lie 600 feet to 800 feet below the surface, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

In its analysis, the Center for Biological Diversity listed the federal review’s most disturbing conclusions:

  • Fracking in California happens at much shallower levels than elsewhere, and the report notes that, “Hydraulic fracturing at shallow depths poses a greater potential risk to water resources because of its proximity to groundwater and the potential for fractures to intersect nearby aquifers.”
  • The study notes that investigators “could not determine the groundwater quality near many hydraulic fracturing operations and found that existing data was insufficient to evaluate the extent to which contamination may have occurred.”
  • Some fracking chemicals used in California are “acutely toxic to mammals,” the report says, while also noting that “No information could be found about the toxicity of about a third of the chemicals and few of the chemicals have been evaluated to see if animals or plants would be harmed by chronic exposure.”
  • The report says that “Current practice and testing requirements do not necessarily protect against adding produced water contaminated with hydraulic fracturing fluid to water used in agriculture.”

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Shell Renews Quest to Plunder Arctic in Search of Oil http://www.mintpressnews.com/shell-renews-quest-plunder-arctic-search-oil/196064/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=shell-renews-quest-plunder-arctic-search-oil http://www.mintpressnews.com/shell-renews-quest-plunder-arctic-search-oil/196064/#comments Sat, 30 Aug 2014 10:00:11 +0000 http://www.mintpressnews.com/?p=196064 Greenpeace responds with promise to escalate its campaign to 'Save the Arctic' from the dangers of oil and gas exploration in fragile region. Continue reading

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In this image provided by the U.S. Coast Guard the conical drilling unit Kulluk sits grounded near a beach 40 miles southwest of Kodiak City, Alaska, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2012. (AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard, Petty Officer 2nd Class Zachary Painter)

In this image provided by the U.S. Coast Guard the conical drilling unit Kulluk sits grounded near a beach 40 miles southwest of Kodiak City, Alaska, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2012. (AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard, Petty Officer 2nd Class Zachary Painter)

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell on Thursday indicated its continued desire to drill in the Arctic waters off the coast of Alaska by submitting new plans for exploratory operations to federal agencies.

“Shell’s preparations are a red flag for the millions of people around the world who want to save the Arctic from catastrophe.” —John Deans, GreenpeaceDespite previously failed attempts to perform such drilling and a global campaign—spearheaded by environmental campaigners at Greenpeace—that has vowed to stop Shell at all costs, the company appears committed to pushing forward.

As the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports:

The oil giant says it is keeping its options open [for operations in 2015] and has proposed putting two drilling rigs to work in the Chukchi Sea. The proposal came in a filing with the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), a division of the U.S. Interior Department.

Shell has been absent from the Chukchi Sea, located off northwest Alaska, for the past two summers. The company has already spent an estimated $6 billion on leases and equipment, but has yet to drill a single well.

Nor will it drill if environmental groups have any say in the matter.  They have sued, and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in January that the federal government did not adequately assess environmental impacts when the Bush Administration put oil leases up for sale in 2008.

Greenpeace was swift with its condemnation. In a statement, John Deans, a member of the the group’s Save the Arctic campaign, said:

Shell clearly believes the approval process is a formality and that it will be able to do whatever it wants in the Arctic next summer. The company is lurching forward despite the flood of reports from government agencies and environmental groups that Arctic drilling is too risky, that the Arctic is too vulnerable, and that Shell itself is too incompetent to proceed. If the Obama Administration is serious about climate change, it needs to prove it by keeping Shell out of the Arctic.

Shell’s preparations are a red flag for the millions of people around the world who want to save the Arctic from catastrophe. Shell clearly hasn’t learned anything from its last Alaskan misadventure, which would have been funny had it not put lives, local communities, and a delicate ecosystem in grave peril. Shell is putting the pieces in place for next summer so it will at least appear competent to the administration, but anyone who has been paying attention knows that Shell is simply hoping the public and the US government will confuse their commitment for competency.

The Dutch oil giant has bungled its way through its Arctic operations and squandered nearly $6 billion so far– and all they have to show for it is a containment dome crushed like a beer can, a grounded drill rig, and a PR disaster. Even with all of the money they’ve spent, Shell hasn’t been able to prove they can operate in the Arctic.

Brendan Cummings, senior counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity, told the New York Times: “Drilling in the Arctic makes no more sense in 2015 than it did when it was first proposed.”

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Obama: We Don’t Have A Strategy For Iraq-Syria War Yet http://www.mintpressnews.com/obama-dont-strategy-iraq-syria-war-yet/196060/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=obama-dont-strategy-iraq-syria-war-yet http://www.mintpressnews.com/obama-dont-strategy-iraq-syria-war-yet/196060/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 15:46:48 +0000 http://www.mintpressnews.com/?p=196060 Obama is sending Kerry to assemble a coalition for conflict. Continue reading

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President Barack Obama frowns as he speaks during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, on Wednesday, April 17, 2013, about a bill to expand background checks on guns that was defeated in the Senate. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

 (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

In a speech this afternoon, President Obama talked up the Iraq War in the broadest terms possible, praising the bravery of the pilots launching airstrikes in the country, and again taking credit for saving those “folks on the mountain,” presumably referring to the largely mythical Yazidi calamity that was the initial pretext for the conflict.

At the same time, he denied any existing plans to expand the war into Syria, and indeed claimed there “we don’t have a strategy” at all in place for any part of the war yet, saying asking Congress for permission for the war right now would be putting the cart before the horse until he figures out how big of a war it will be. The White House later clarified that as “no military strategy.”

Having no strategy at all would certainly explain a few things about the haphazard escalation of the conflict, as well as its apparent open-endedness. President Obama said Secretary of State John Kerry is being sent abroad to build a coalition for the war, because apparently other nations might want to get in on this strategy-free, heedless war.

Underscoring just how little clarity the administration is willing to offer on the war, President Obama conceded that the war will “cost some money,” without saying exactly how many billions of dollars per year we’re talking. That, along with where the money is going to come from, likewise seems to be getting punted down the road until the war is escalated to a level he’s comfortable with.

This article was published by AntiWar.

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Latest Slain American ISIS The Third From Single Minnesota High School http://www.mintpressnews.com/latest-slain-american-isis-third-single-minnesota-high-school/196056/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=latest-slain-american-isis-third-single-minnesota-high-school http://www.mintpressnews.com/latest-slain-american-isis-third-single-minnesota-high-school/196056/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 15:25:07 +0000 http://www.mintpressnews.com/?p=196056 Reports: At least 15 Somali-Americans from Twin Cities in ISIS Now. Continue reading

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Police

Minneapolis police officer Jeanine Brudenell talks with Somali students in Minneapolis. (AP/Jim Mone)

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has been very successful in recruiting Americans and other Westerners to their cause, but the lure to join jihadist movements seems particularly popular in metro Minneapolis.

Earlier this week, American Douglas McAuthur McCain was identified as an ISIS member slain in Syria. Today, another American slain in the same battle was ID’d as Abdirahmaan Muhumed, who grew up in the same town and went to high school with McCain.

Coincidence? Maybe not. McCain’s best friend in high school was Troy Kastigar, who himself was slain in Somalia in 2009, after going there to join al-Shabaab, another jihadist faction.

Minnesota Public Radio suggested in a past report in June, which focused on the now slain Muhumed, that this may be the tip of the iceberg, saying that at least 15 Somali-Americans from the Twin Cities were active members of ISIS at the time.

Muhumed was one such Somali-American, but neither McCain nor Kastigar were. Rather they grew up with Somali classmates and friends, and became sympathetic to some of the same causes.

The US claims to have identified nearly a dozen American ISIS fighters by name, but that’s a small fraction of the hundreds believed to be there right now. The US and other nations are struggling to determine even how many have gone to join ISIS, let alone who most of them are.

ISIS ability to recruit seems to be far exceeding official reckoning, as officials try to pass them off as “valueless evil” with no agenda at all, and yet the group continues to find growing numbers of recruits in some of the least likely places.

This article was published by AntiWar.

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How The US Militarizes The World’s Police, Not Just Ferguson’s http://www.mintpressnews.com/us-militarizes-worlds-police-just-fergusons/196054/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=us-militarizes-worlds-police-just-fergusons http://www.mintpressnews.com/us-militarizes-worlds-police-just-fergusons/196054/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 15:17:34 +0000 http://www.mintpressnews.com/?p=196054 The story of police militarization in the US and abroad is complicated, and involves the importation and exportation of equipment, tactics, and funds for the purposes of domestic and international security. Here's one part of that story. Continue reading

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Seattle Campus Shooting

A Seattle Police SWAT team officer strings police tape at the scene of a shooting, 2014 (AP/Ted S. Warren)

On Aug. 9, a white police officer named Darren Wilson shot and killed an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Since then, the world has watched the streets of Ferguson turn into a battleground, as heavily armed police officers fired tear gas, shot rubber bullets and pointed guns at protesters denouncing Brown’s killing.

“Solidarity with Ferguson,” tweeted Mariam Barghouti from Palestine. “Remember to not touch your face when tear gassed or put water on it. Instead use milk or coke.”

Numerous people — domestic and abroad — have expressed outrage at the militaristic response of local police against protesters, journalists, and people of color.

“Urban Shield plays a leading role in the globalization of repression.”

Since the protests erupted earlier this month, many have called into question the US Defense Department’s 1033 program, which allows surplus military equipment to be transferred to local police departments for counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism operations.

The 1033 program is just one part of a larger story about how American police departments became militarized — a global story about the importation and exportation of equipment, tactics, and funds for the purposes of domestic and international security.

Here’s another part of the story: the international Urban Shield SWAT training and weapons vending exposition in Oakland, Calif.

The annual event, which will be hosted by the Alameda County Sherriff’s Office from Sept. 4 to 8, brings together local and national first responder agencies for a 48-hour exercise in simulated disaster preparedness, information exchange, and equipment demonstrations. And it does so while encouraging participation from international forces.

Past participants have included military and domestic security teams from Bahrain, Brazil, Jordan, Israel, and Qatar. (It’s worth noting that some of these countries have been routinely criticized for using excessive force against civilians.) This year, the Brazilian team is returning alongside Singapore’s Police STAR Unit and South Korea, according to the expo website.

The two-day trade show linked to the event also includes a slew of vendors from armored vehicles and weapons manufacturing companies, many of whom promote the latest in communications supplies, tactical gear, crowd control methods, drones, and guns.

“It’s impossible to imagine suppressing resistance to policing by increasing policing,” said Rachel Herzing of Critical Resistance, a national grassroots organization started in Berkeley, CA to end the prison-industrial complex — the phrase used to explain government and private industry’s mutual use of surveillance, incarceration, and increased policing as a solution to socio-economic problems.

“It’s the same playbook that law enforcement and the government has been using for decades in this country and not to any better effect,” Herzing said.

Critical Resistance, War Resisters League, the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, and a number of other organizations have banded together to form a coalition in California intent on stopping the annual Urban Shield demonstration. They claim police militarization earns huge profits for private companies, while disproportionately affecting immigrants, Arabs and Muslims, people of color, and poor people worldwide.

The Urban Areas Security Initiative — a grant program of the Department of Homeland Security — provides funding for programs such as Urban Shield, which it believes facilitates regional preparedness in “high-threat, high-density urban areas.”

At least 25 percent of UASI funding has gone directly to “law enforcement terrorism prevention activities,” including information sharing, establishing regional ‘fusion’ centers, and increasing the use of security patrols.

According to the Urban Shield website, participating teams will take part in 35 individual events, including active shooter scenarios and exercises in radiological weapons detection. Prior to the events, each team receives an introduction to new technology that will be used in the training scenarios.

Teams are then evaluated and debriefed on their performance. Last year’s top SWAT teams are pictured on the website in camouflage outfits standing in front of armored personal carriers.

“Urban Shield plays a leading role in the globalization of repression,” Ali Issa, National Field Organizer with the New York-based pacifist group War Resisters League, said. “This means both that US police and private companies are exporting tactics and toys to the agencies from Guam, Qatar, and Norway that attended last year. And units from Bahrain, Brazil, and Israel are bringing their ‘crowd control’ methods here.

Issa said that as police forces around the globe continue to militarize, popular resistance will also continue to rise.

This article was published by Global Post.

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Police Treated British Rape Victims Like ‘Stupid, Naughty’ Girls http://www.mintpressnews.com/police-treated-british-rape-victims-like-stupid-naughty-girls/196050/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=police-treated-british-rape-victims-like-stupid-naughty-girls http://www.mintpressnews.com/police-treated-british-rape-victims-like-stupid-naughty-girls/196050/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 15:12:23 +0000 http://www.mintpressnews.com/?p=196050 A sex abuse investigation in Britain raises difficult questions of race and child protection. Continue reading

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Slutwalk, rape, sex abuseLONDON, UK — There was the 12-year-old beaten and burned before her illegal abortion. The intoxicated 13-year-old girl arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, while the men with her were released. Two different fathers who stormed houses in search of their teenage daughters, only to be arrested and the girls left with their rapists.

A major UK newspaper investigation and subsequent inquiries have uncovered sexual exploitation crimes of historic scope in Britain, and repeated refusals of police and child protection agencies to act on reports that something was wrong.

For the last 15 years, organized groups of men have been grooming and sexually abusing girls in northern and central England cities.

Girls as young as 11 were targeted in shopping malls, town plazas and other public places by older teenagers or adult men, who purchased their trust and affection with attention, car rides, gifts and alcohol.

“Some say focusing on the men’s race obscured that they were just as much a product of Britain as the girls they raped.”

Once they had established what the girl believed was a relationship, the requests began: If you loved me, you’d sleep with my best friend. Or my uncle. Or this stranger. Sometimes men received payment for use of the girls’ bodies. This led to girls eventually being raped by groups of men at a time, trafficked between cities for sex and beaten or threatened if they resisted. Small groups of men operated together, though it does not appear that the groups were part of a larger coordinated network.

More than 1,400 girls were attacked in this way in Rotherham alone, a south Yorkshire borough of 258,000 people that released a report Tuesday detailing the “blatant” failure of police and local authorities to stop the crimes.

The Rotherham report and an ongoing investigation by Times reporter Andrew Norfolk have prompted serious reflection in Britain about the way sexual exploitation cases are handled.

They have also raised uncomfortable questions of race.

While most of the men jailed for sex crimes in Britain are white, the vast majority of perpetrators in these cases were Muslim men primarily of Pakistani descent. Most of the victims were white.

When pressed on why they failed to adequately investigate or publicize early reports of the crimes, many public officials told Norfolk and investigators that they were fearful of inflaming racial divides or of appearing racist.

The discussion around race and whether it’s relevant to reports of these crimes has divided people within and outside of Britain’s South Asian communities.

Early reports of the crimes were seized upon by far-right groups like the British National Party and their sympathizers, who saw the crimes as fallout of Britain’s immigration policy.

That made people even more reluctant to probe a cause associated with unsavory figures like BNP head Nick Griffin, who once claimed that Muslims were spreading Islam in Europe by impregnating white girls.

The focus on race has been a distraction from deeper issues, some campaign groups said.

“It’s a let-off. You’re still [ignoring] the fundamental things that need examining, which are around age and gender,” said Sarah Green, spokeswoman for the London-based End Violence Against Women Coalition.

“The question needs to be, why are groups of men behaving this way? Why are they so confident they’ll get away with it?”

By January 2011, when the Times first broke the story, there had been 17 court cases nationwide of men abusing girls aged 11 to 16, with 56 men convicted.

Since then there have been multiple inquiries into these “street grooming” crimes and the policies that allowed them to continue unchecked.

The Rotherham report laid out in detail how the system failed girls.

In that city, overstretched child protection officers tended to push aside reports of abuse of girls 11 and older, as part of a national trend to focus increasingly scarce resources on the youngest children.

When confronted with reports, South Yorkshire Police “widely disregarded” their own policies on child exploitation cases, the report said, dismissing reports as exaggerations or as consensual relationships.

One-third of victims were girls already on the radar of child protective services, some of whom police viewed as “out of control” cases less worthy of police time.

The focus on white victims also overlooked victims of South Asian descent, many of whom felt pressure not to come forward, according to a report last year from the Muslim Women’s Network.

Others said focusing on the men’s race obscured the fact that they were just as much a product of Britain as the girls they raped.

“Excuse me, they are British men. They are boys who have been born and brought up here, by this country, by this society,” said Bashan Rafique, chair of the UK All Pakistan Women’s Association.

The Times stories prompted a Parliamentary investigation last year that prompted ongoing changes to the social work and criminal justice systems, including new police guidelines on handling these cases.

The publication of the Rotherham report this week and the gut-churning scope of the abuse detailed within brought widespread public attention to the issue. The leader of Rotherham Council stepped down, and there is widespread call for the police chief to do so as well.

Several British-Pakistani and Muslim leaders spoke publicly of the need to work within communities to prevent attitudes sanctioning these crimes.

In an interview with the Times, a former victim identified by the pseudonym Amy praised the report as “brilliant.” She reported her abuse to police twice, at the ages of 13 and 14, but said she was treated like a “a stupid, naughty girl.” No one was ever prosecuted for her rape.

“Those professionals have sat behind their desks, taken their wages, known this was happening, and done nothing about it,” she said. “To me that makes them as bad as the perpetrators.”

This article was published by Global Post.

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NATO Claims Satellite Images Show Russian Units In Ukraine http://www.mintpressnews.com/nato-claims-satellite-images-show-russian-units-ukraine/196045/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=nato-claims-satellite-images-show-russian-units-ukraine http://www.mintpressnews.com/nato-claims-satellite-images-show-russian-units-ukraine/196045/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 14:54:03 +0000 http://www.mintpressnews.com/?p=196045 Russia refutes charges as hard-to-verify accusations and denials by officials on all sides make assessment of facts in Ukraine difficult. Continue reading

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NATO

Detail of image released from NATO on Thursday which the western military alliance claims shows Russian units moving inside Ukrainian territory in recent days. (Photo: Digital Globe)

NATO officials on Thursday released satellite images they claim show mobile Russian artillery units and supporting vehicles “engaged in military operations inside the sovereign territory of Ukraine.”

The newly presented evidence comes as Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko declared from Kiev on Thursday that “Russian forces have actually entered Ukraine.”

According to the Guardian:

The accusation comes just two days after the Ukrainian leader met Vladimir Putin in Minsk, since when the situation in the east has deteriorated.

Poroshenko stopped short of calling the movements an outright invasion, but convened an urgent meeting of the country’s national security council to discuss the Russian moves.

In a statement about the satellite images—which were “captured in late August”—NATO claimed they “depict Russian self-propelled artillery units moving in a convoy through the Ukrainian countryside and then preparing for action by establishing firing positions in the area of Krasnodon, Ukraine.” The images were provided by Digital Global, an independent U.S.-based satellite imaging firm, to whom NATO referred those interested in verifying the images. NATO said they did not alter or change the images in any way.

“Over the past two weeks we have noted a significant escalation in both the level and sophistication of Russia’s military interference in Ukraine,” said Brigadier General Tak, a senior NATO commander. “The satellite images released today provide additional evidence that Russian combat soldiers, equipped with sophisticated heavy weaponry, are operating inside Ukraine’s sovereign territory.”

The Washington Post offered this detailed explanation of the images.

Officials in Russia denied the recent and repeated accusations that its soldiers are operating in Ukraine. According to Agence France-Presse:

Russia’s defence ministry on Thursday denied US and Kiev claims of its troops’ direct involvement in the escalating fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Kremlin insurgents in the separatist east.

Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told Russian news agencies that the “information has no relation to reality” and that army units believed by Washington to have crossed into Ukraine were conducting “tactical training exercises on their own and outlying ranges.”

The comments were the first by issued by a senior Russian official in Moscow since the US ambassador to Kiev accused Moscow of providing air defence systems to the rebels and becoming “directly involved in the fighting”.

On the latest developments, Reuters reports:

The latest sharp escalation in the crisis came only two days after the presidents of both countries held their first talks in more than two months and agreed to work towards launching a peace process.

Ukraine’s security and defense council said the border town of Novoazovsk and other parts of Ukraine’s south-east had fallen under the control of Russian forces.

“A counter-offensive by Russian troops and separatist units is continuing in south-east Ukraine,” it said on Twitter.

It said Ukrainian government forces had withdrawn from Novoazovsk “to save their lives” and were now reinforcing defenses in Mariupol.

Despite what continues to be an environment where claims by government officials on all sides—from Washington, Kiev, and Moscow—remain difficult to verify and hard to believe, the play between the so-called “fog of war” on the ground in eastern Ukraine and the state-fueled propoganda on all sides remains a key feature for those trying to understand the complex and deadly situation that continues to unfold.

As Stephen Cohen, an expert on Russian and Cold War history and professor emeritus at New York University and Princeton University, confessed in an interview with radio host Thomm Hartmann on Tuesday of this week, “There is so much misinformation, whether intended or unintended, coming out of Washington… particularly [out of] Kiev… and out of Moscow that a person has to figure out what is true and what isn’t true.”

For Cohen’s full assessment of some of the recent events and his analysis of how U.S. media have so far handled the coverage of the Ukraine conflict, watch/listen to the interview that follows:

In a striking part of his assessment, Cohen offers a nuanced view of Putin’s behavior (hard to find in the U.S. press) that seems essential for those worried about the U.S./NATO narrative of events but who also remain skeptical of Putin’s stance and the Russian military’s possible involvement in supplying the Ukraine rebels.

“I think, but I don’t know,” said Cohen, “that allegations that Russia’s Putin is sending higher-quality, heavier weapons to the defenders of [eastern Ukraine] is undoubtedly—not undoubtedly, but probably—true.” And here’s the reason, Cohen continued, “I think that Putin can not let this Russified region of Ukraine fall. He simply can’t. But desperately does he not want to intervene directly. So he’s trying to see, along with sending humanitarian help, whether the native rebels of eastern Ukraine can push back the Ukrainian Army that’s closing in on these two cities [of Donetsk and Luhansk].”

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