The first echoes of the Syrian Civil War in its present form sounded in March of 2011. In February of 2012 it reached a major tipping point, as major cities were locked down and besieged by regime forces.
Now let’s imagine what it’s like to be a resident of Homs. You wake up one day to plaster hitting your face, caught in the midst of a heavy artillery attack. The gun being used against you is most likely aSoviet M-46 firing a 130mm high explosive round. That’s about this big, and there are hundreds of them landing around you every hour at random. This is what that looks like. I’ve seen one hit a ten storey building. They turn half the structure to dust in an instant.
Maybe one of these lands on you, maybe one lands on your neighbour and thousands of shards of metal eviscerate you, maybe you just sit there all day watching the fireworks while you try to keep calm. But let’s say for argument’s sake you survive.
That was day one. You endure a year and two months of that, along with rocket attacks that eat city blocks and air strikes you can’t hear until they’ve struck. Every day your friends and family are bombed from the air, and if they pop their heads out to see the bombs they become bait for the snipers and tanks.
Oh, and there are snipers and tanks. The snipers are on every roof, and their bullets take with them about a pinky’s worth of solid concrete every time they hit the wall next to your head. If you want food, you have to walk down streets lined with corpses that all fell in a common pattern, hoping that the sniper is taking lunch because if not you’re going to join them. The tanks are mobile microwave ovens and the crew are paranoid that theirs will be the next to turn on. If they see movement, even movement that only exists in their own mind, they fire at it. Their 125mm high explosive shells are this big, and one of them will disintegrate much of your home if their barrel swings that way.
Now survive a year and two months of this. Of complete civil failure, with no police and no water and power being cut out every time a rocket or a bomb or a shell or a bullet hits the wrong something. Of unimaginable suffering, with the only men willing to treat your child for their shrapnel wounds under constant threat of targeted rocket attack by regime forces in their makeshift hospitals, with everyone you’ve ever known or interacted with being dead, dying, displaced, or crouched in the remains of their home like animals waiting to be one of the above depending on where the next mortar shell lands. Of knowing that the international community has written you off, that those fighting for you are corrupted by jihadists and left fashioning tanks out of scrap metal and playstation controllers, that if you pick up a gun you’ll be targeted by both armies and that if you don’t you’ll still be targeted by both armies as both see you as a collaborator of their enemy.
And with this in mind, you’re the lucky one. If you had stayed in your home village, yesterday the drug-crazed paramilitary forces of Assad’s psychopathic brother, the Shabiha, walked down the street lighting houses on fire and using machetes against anyone who was stupid enough to try to escape. They’re fueled by religion, politics, race, and their own insanity and when they enter a village no one else leaves it.
You’ve lived this long, seen so much unimaginable horror without a moment’s relief, and now you’re standing over the man who represents the force which took everything you’ve ever loved and gutted it with a smile. You have a knife. That’s how.
The 15 threatened animals were shot dead for their horns last month in the Mozambican part of Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, which also covers South Africa and Zimbabwe.
They were thought to be the last of an estimated 300 that roamed through the special conservation area when it was established as “the world’s greatest animal kingdom” in a treaty signed by the three countries’ then presidents in 2002.
The latest deaths, and Mozambique’s failure to tackle poaching, has prompted threats by South Africa to re-erect fences between their reserves.
Yeah if you are a poacher or like to kill any animals or humans for fun, you are a fucking pussy and deserve to die a slow, horrible death.
~ Reverend Zepto, blogg.com
It got a lot of attention this morning when I tweeted, “You’re Eight Times More Likely to be Killed by a Police Officer than a Terrorist.” It’s been quickly retweeted dozens of times, indicating that the idea is interesting to many people. So let’s discuss it in more than 140 characters.
In case it needs saying: Police officers are unlike terrorists in almost all respects. Crucially, the goal of the former, in their vastest majority, is to have a stable, peaceful, safe, law-abiding society, which is a goal we all share. The goal of the latter is … well, it’s complicated. I’ve cited my favorite expert on that, Audrey Kurth Cronin, here and here andhere. Needless to say, the goal of terrorists is not that peaceful, safe, stable society.
I picked up the statistic from a blog post called: “Fear of Terror Makes People Stupid,” which in turn cites the National Safety Council for this and lots of other numbers reflecting likelihoods of dying from various causes. So dispute the number(s) with them, if you care to.
I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.
I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.
I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.
Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.
I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.
I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.
I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.
My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.
In reference to the killing of 16-year-old Kimani Gray in East Flatbush
The NYPD has declared a portion of Flatbush a “Frozen Zone”, meaning media are not allowed in and people can be subjected to arrest for not following police orders. It basically means the area is under temporary martial law. The last times the NYPD declared a Frozen Zone was on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and during the beginning of OWS.
“Naturally, the common people don’t want war, but after all, it is the leaders of a country that determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parlament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.”
~Hermann Goering, Hitler’s Reich-Marshall
at the Nuremberg Trials after WWII
“Yala ya shabab” its means literally “Lets go guys/men” in context it means “Get your asses over here and help”
“Sheelo hathda walad” means literally “take this boy out.” A lot of people are saying prayers out loud. He keeps repeating the time and date.
At 4:31, they all shout الله أكبر (allahu akbar), which, although it literally means “god is the greatest”, in this context would be loosely translated as “oh my god” or “holy shit”.
This is what man is capable of.
These are our brothers and sisters.
The video was taken in Aleppo, where the Syrian opposition and the Syrian government are fighting for control. This is from a rebel held neighborhood, and you’re correct in that the Syrian government has been shelling and bombing rebel held neighborhoods indiscriminately. Of course, its not entirely one-sided as the rebels themselves have been accused of using car bombs in civilian areas controlled by the government. Nonetheless, this particular video definitely highlights how civilians are caught up in this horrible conflict.
Civil War. The head of Syria’s government, a man named Assad, is a dictator. He is not a good leader, he does things the people don’t, violates human rights, and cannot be replaced by an election. The people of Syria decided they have had quite enough of their dictator, so they joined a movement known as the “Arab Spring”, and started protesting in the street demeaning that Assad step down from power. Assad declined to step down, choosing instead to begin killing some of the protesters. Some parts of Syria turned to rebellion and took up arms to fight back and try to violently over throw the government. Assad responded to this by ordering his air force to drop bombs on parts of the country,often urban areas, where those rebels are popular and have support. This video shows the aftermath of one of the bombings.
During the tumultuous months of the presidential campaign, most Americans heard nothing of this report in the (Minneapolis-St. Paul) Star Tribune (that originally appeared in The Los Angeles Times): “To live under drones is to live in terror.” Based on a study by Stanford University and New York University, it was written by Jennifer Gibson, who was one of the on-site researchers of this startling account of the CIA pilotless drones’ killings in Pakistan under the enthusiastic authority of President Barack Obama.
Gibson is on the staff of the London-based international human rights organization Reprieve, whose carefully documented work I have frequently cited in these columns.
“Drones,” she wrote, after spending weeks in North Waziristan, “are a constant presence … with as many as six hovering over villages at any one time. People hear them day and night. They are an inescapable presence, the looming specter of death from above. And that presence is steadily destroying a community twice the size of Rhode Island.”