Jon Stewart Destroys Donald Trump – ‘Our First Openly Asshole President”

Gasland, documentary

 

In Egypt, a soccer team owner’s racist comment leads to online protests

 

By Hana Baba (follow) 

 

  • •Mortada Mansour in 2012 after he announced his candidacy for Egyptian president

    •Mortada Mansour in 2012 after he announced his candidacy for Egyptian president

    Al-Aashira Masaa is a popular daily Egyptian call-in show on satellite TV that has viewers around the world. And on July 3, many of them were shocked to hear Mortada Mansour, head of Zamalek, one of Egypt’s top soccer clubs, calling in and slamming the show host for having soccer player Ahmed Almerghani on as one of his guests.

    Almerghani sat quietly as Mansour yelled at the host: “Why do you have this boy on?! He doesn’t deserve time on your show! He wasn’t raised right! He’s a traitor!”

see full article here .

Documenting Death Inside Syria’s Secret Prisons

JULY 14, 2015 3:42 AM ET
Images of dead bodies in Syrian prisons, taken by a Syrian government photographer, are displayed at the United Nations on March 10. The photographer, who goes by the pseudonym Caesar, took the pictures between 2011, when the Syrian uprising began, and 2013, when he fled the country. His photos will be on display at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

Images of dead bodies in Syrian prisons, taken by a Syrian government photographer, are displayed at the United Nations on March 10. The photographer, who goes by the pseudonym Caesar, took the pictures between 2011, when the Syrian uprising began, and 2013, when he fled the country. His photos will be on display at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

Lucas Jackson/Reuters/Landov

A Syrian forensic photographer, who now uses the pseudonym Caesar, documented the death of thousands of detainees in Syria’s brutal prison system. He made more than 55,000 high-resolution images before he fled the country, fearing for his safety, in 2013.

He spoke publicly for the first time in July 2014, when he appeared before the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, wearing a blue jacket with a hood to protect his identity.

Dozens of Caesar’s photographs will be displayed again in the halls of Congress on Wednesday.

The exhibition is sponsored by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in cooperation with the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The graphic images show beaten and bruised bodies, many are skeletal, most with signs of torture. Now, Syrian families are searching the photos online after Syrian opposition groups posted more than 6,000 images in March.

NPR spoke to a member of the group that posted the pictures, as well as a friend who identified a victim, and a lawyer working on a war crimes case. Here are their stories:

Amer fled Damascus two days after his friend, Kutabia, a 40-year-old father of two, was seized by government agents from a bookstore in Damascus. The two friends demonstrated together through 2011. They took even larger risks together, smuggling money and medicine into restive neighborhoods besieged by the Syrian government.

“They invaded on New Year’s Eve at 6 p.m. I was at a café nearby. And when I finished I said, ‘Let’s go and say hi [to Kutaiba].’ I knocked and there’s no one. No lights inside. And I continued home and that’s when I heard that my friend was taken to the detention center or the torture center.

This is where the story begins. Once your friend is detained by the government, you try to figure out where he is.

His parents started to ask. They usually go to people in the intelligence service and the guy will say, ‘I can’t tell you, you have to give me money.’

For two and a half years his parents are paying money. Sometimes they take a couple of thousand dollars and [they] get back and say, ‘He’s alive and well, and says hi to his sons.'”

In March 2015, Syrian opposition groups published 6,000 of Caesar’s photos online. For the first time, Syrian friends and families could search the gruesome photo gallery and identify the victims. Kutaiba’s picture was among the dead, killed within a month of his arrest.

Rep. Ed Royce (center), R-Calif., speaks during a July 2014 hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, with "Caesar," a Syrian army defector who wore a blue, hooded jacket to protect his identity. Caesar smuggled out of Syria more than 55,000 photographs that document the torture and killings in Syrian prisons.

Rep. Ed Royce (center), R-Calif., speaks during a July 2014 hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, with “Caesar,” a Syrian army defector who wore a blue, hooded jacket to protect his identity. Caesar smuggled out of Syria more than 55,000 photographs that document the torture and killings in Syrian prisons.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

“It was him. His eyes were closed. He had stitches on his forehead like the ones you see in horror movies. And I was shocked. I was in the middle of work. I don’t know what sort of people can do this harm and torture to another person.

I saw his color, and was like, ‘Thank God he wasn’t starved to death.’ He didn’t have his ears taken off or his nose. So, I thought he made them furious enough to kill him right away rather than being tortured on a daily basis. It’s always better to know, is he alive or is he dead.”


Dr. Mohammed Ayash works with the Syrian Association for Missing and Detainees of Conscience, based in Istanbul. In March, the group published some of the Caesar photos online and has organized private showings in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan and even in some rebel-held neighborhoods near Damascus. Dr. Ayash is scanning all the images and documenting the dead. It is a grim task made harder still because Dr. Ayash has seen friends and neighbors among the dead.

“We have about 6,700 victims in this website. I am a doctor, I’m not a pathologist, but I describe what I see in every picture. We have children in these pictures. There are older men. There is one woman.

It comes to my dreams sometimes, because of the horrible methods. By torture, by starvation and eye gouging, and it’s very hard for me.

(The work) is very important because we need the families as witnesses in any court. We need families to say, ‘Yes, this is my father and my brother,’ and they were taken and killed by the Assad regime.”


Muna Jundi, an attorney in Flint, Mich., works with United for a Free Syria, a coalition of Syrian-American nonprofit organizations. She was part of a team of Syrians who got Caesar to testify to Congress last year and will be in Washington for the event on Wednesday. She took part in the decision to publish the photos online.

“It was systematic, the regime was using it as a way to quell the revolution.

There’s a lot of missing Syrian people and a lot of people don’t know the fate of their family members. They hear about it through rumors. They pay money to try and find information and really there’s nothing concrete. And unfortunately there’s nothing more concrete than pictures of dead bodies. So the idea was to open up to help people identify their own family members.

For an American audience, I think it was shocking. But the sheer … mass production of this, I think, is what overwhelms. They’ve documented it in such detail.

Syrians inside Syria that had any experience with intelligence [services] automatically knew why the documentation had to happen.

When there’s an order from above, they need evidence that those orders are being carried out. In a highly corrupt government, where you can pay people to release people, they need the evidence. They needed to keep the evidence to show that you told us this is what we need to do, and therefore, this is what we are doing.”

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Pan-Arabists and the Iran “deal”

The Pan-Arabists of the Middle East are celebrating the US-Iranian deal along with all the Progressives of the world. Every spin is being put on this deal to make it look like a guarantee for peace in our time, that somehow the Iranian regime’s desire for a nuclear bomb has been curbed. In exchange, however, the world has offered Syria to Iran on a platter. We’re told by reasonable people that of course, “no deal is perfect”. What they won’t say is that the “imperfect” bits are Syria, and that the millions of people who can’t go home anymore, and the hundreds of thousands who have died in the last four years, are directly a result of Tehran’s actions.

I didn’t always used to think like this. You’re reading the blog of a bitter and disillusioned man who once cheered for Hassan Nasrallah during the 2006 war and believed that Tehran’s ‘Axis of Resistance’ was the region’s only hope. I changed my mind because Syrians were being murdered by the thousands, their legitimate claims dismissed, and their uprising brushed off as a terrorist uprising by a tinpot dictator who would not have survived had it not been for the help of Tehran and Hezbullah. The pan-Arabists were blasé about the news. We were brutalised and the world did nothing. We were tortured, and the world did nothing. We were starved, and the world did nothing. The world looked away when Syria started.

Whilst I write this I am thinking about a young Syrian boy I shook hands with in Turkey. Well, we didn’t shake hands. He shook my hands, I shook the stump of his arm because his hands were blown off by a Syrian regime missile strike. The Iranian deal means more bombs, more bullets, and more militias will be sent to Assad, and the easing of sanctions means more money will be used to prop up his economy and keep him in power. That’s why I’m not enthusiastic about the deal with Iran. That’s why I’m angry and biased. I don’t know, maybe I’m not thinking straight; I’m too ’emotional’.

I’m sorry that Syrians are inconvenient, that we’re not being killed by the right type of enemy for you people. I’m sorry we haven’t received your stamp of approval. Pan-Arabists are cheering a deal with Iran, because, as they keep reminding us, Israel is the real enemy; Palestine the real goal. Never mind the untold misery, guts and excrement that we are being forced to crawl through in the name of this mythical liberation that hovers on our horizon like a promised paradise for the wretched of the world. Syria is “complicated”. Syrians are only to be felt “sorry for”, like the victims of some flood or an earthquake. From your glass towers in Dubai you intellectual pan-Arabists can toast a deal with Iran, and celebrate the fact that nothing has been allowed to deviate your attention from the lofty goal of “liberating Palestine”.

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Mediocrity

Maysaloon

Posted: 11 Jul 2015 02:10 AM PDT

I can’t write. My thoughts are scattered as my attention jumps from one story to another. I read into people’s comments on social media to the n-th degree. I know – not even sure how – where they are coming from when they make a statement about some subject, and that’s when I start to wrestle with ghosts. Start is probably the wrong word. My paralysis is because I am trying to reach the start point, the firm ground from which I can begin pointing out where everything started to go wrong. I read praise for a long serving foreign minister who has just passed away. The only discernible legacy I can make out is that “he was there”. He didn’t do much, but he was around to see stuff happen. So we clap for him because we don’t know what politics is. The only thing we know is mediocrity, so we applaud it as an accomplishment.On the same note we have the Pied Piper of the Middle East claiming that “the road to Jerusalem” passes through the towns and cities of Syria. Where do I start with that? I’ve spent the last hour typing and then deleting pages of nonsense on how wrong, how inconsistent, and how hypocritical that man’s statements were. A liar celebrating a day which is a lie, for a cause which is dead, to a people who are merely animated husks. Why should that bother me? Who was I trying to reach? I can’t honestly say.

We don’t even realise that the Middle East is dead, that there existed before all this noise pollution a region that had a very different view of the world, of its place in it, and a hope for the future that the soldiers killed. We think we have inherited something, but in reality we are all squatters in the mansions of people long gone. We dress up with the clothes they left behind, dine in their halls, and pretend to understand the books in their libraries or the art on their walls, like children play-acting at being adults, but we don’t get it. We have no idea.

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Free Gaza Greta Berlin 2015

On June 29th, 2015, the Israeli navy boarded and seized the boat “Marianne” in international waters, some 100 nautical miles from the coast of Gaza. 18 passengers on board were taken against their will to Israel, and the boat was towed by the Israeli navy to the port of Ashdod. Greta Berlin, a founding member of the Free Gaza Movement talks about the latest attempt to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

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