EnglishFrenchGermanItalianPortugueseRussianSpanish

US and Hu Rights Violations - Russia Confronts US

You need to have the Flash Player installed and a browser with JavaScript support.

Thanks! Share it with your friends!

URL

You disliked this video. Thanks for the feedback!

Sorry, only registred users can create playlists.
URL


Published by Administrator in Russia United state
152 Views

Description

by grtv

The United States and Russia have achieved many milestones when it comes to relieving tensions between the two superpowers after the Cold War, but it seems that lately those strains have been on the rise.

Russia has been more than vocal over its opposition of the US missile defense shield in Eastern Europe, and now Russia plans on implementing a visa ban on American officials to counter the US banning Russian officials for alleged human rights violations.

David Swanson, campaigner for Roots Action, joins us with more on the matter.

Show more

Post your comment

Comments

Be the first to comment

Iran

»
Nikpress News Image

389 views

Nikpress News

Nikpress News. www.nikpress.com

حجاب اجباری ـ اسلامی Image

693 views

حجاب اجباری ـ اسلامی

حجاب اجباری ـ اسلامی

نویسنده و گوینده: نیک پاکپور

حجاب اجباری در سه دارلخلافهٔ اسلامی ـ تازی، قرن بیست و یکم

1 ـ در حکومت اسلامی داعش

2 ـ در حکومت اسلامی ولایت فقیهٔ ایران

3 ـ در حکومت اسلامی عربستان سعودی

جهد و جستحوئی جُستارگونه پیرامون شروع و شجرهٔ شرّ و شرنگ حُقنهٔ حلقه حقارت حجاب در جامعه یا جبل عصر جاهلیت جادوگران، جنبل بافان، جمل سواران، بادیه نشینان، بیانگردان اسلام تعزیری ـ تازی.

زمانی به درازنای 1400 سال است که پیروان پشماگند، پلید و پلشت یعنی پاکاران و پادوأن پرخش بدست یا شهسواران شریر و شمشیر بدست، بربر و بدسگال همچون ملایان، مفتی یان، مداحان، مُتعه گران، مجتهدان، مقلدان منحط و منحوس، مُدلس و مکار، این اُباشان و اجامهٔ تازی تباران، برای تحقیر و تسخیر و تسلط تندیس تنومند و توانمند بانوان، آلبته با اهرم و ابزار زور و ذوالفقار، ترور و تیزاب، تجاوز و تعزیر، تهدید و تطمیع با شقاوت و شلاق و با مدد جانیان جُندی پوش جُندالله ی و سالوسان سفاک سارالله ی برای مقابله و محاربه با تحول و تمدن، تغییر و تّجدد در مرده شورخانه های مساجد و مهدیه ها، در ضمیر و زمین آریائیان، تبهکارانه و طرارانه تبلیغ و ترویج، تاکید و تکلیف می کنند را می توان بر اساس احادیث و احکام یعنی اوهام و اباطیل تازیان اُم القرائی ـ قرآنی، اینچنین طبقه بندی و ترازبندی کرد:

نوروز و فروردین Image

1,571 views

نوروز و فروردین

نوروز و فروردین نویسنده و گوینده: نیک پاکپورفرارسیدن فروردین و نوروز این فرادیس فروهر ها یا فره وش های فرهنگ فروزینه و فروزندهٔ آریايی زادگاه و زایشگاهٔ زیبنده زروان و زرتشت، این زایا و زایندهٔ مهر و میترائیسم، بر همه فرزندان فرهنجیده و فرهیخته ایران زمین، فرخنده و فرخجسته باد!امید است که فرارسیدن فروردین امسال، رویش و رهایش یا رستاخیز رُخشان، تاریخی باشد که بتوانند ایرانیان یکبار دیکر با همت همبستگی و همبودگی، همسانی و هم گرائی هوشیارانه و هوشمندانه، به همراه تمرین تلاش و تُخشای تهمتن گونه، بدون تفرقه و تفکیک ملی ـ میهنی، با غرور و غیرت، با غیظ ناشی از هویت و حیثیت ملی، با سلاح و سپر تجّدد و تمدن، تحول و تعقل، تتمه و ته ماندهٔ تفالهٔ تحجر با تاول تعفن، باقی مانده از فرهنگ فژاگن فرودستان تازی تعزیرگر، در حال تلاشی و تباهی را با ترکش و تکانی تاریخی به تکفینی ابدی رهسپار سازنند!گوینده این ویدئو را با آفرین و فریشی پارسایانه و پیام رسانه به پیشگاهٔ همه ماندگان و یادماندگان اصیل، با عاطفه و اخلاق ایرانی ـ آریائی که بیش از سه دهه دهشتناک تاریخی ایست که بخاطر باورمندی به ملیت و منتهای مدنیت ملی به همراه فرمان ستیزی سزنده و سزاوار علیه عبودیت و عفن عملهٔ عمال عمامهٔ عرب تازی، از مشاهده منظره زرین و زرفام سرزمین مزدای بی همتای مهر و میترائی ملک ایران زمین باز نگه داشته شده اند، تقدیم می نمایم.

Europe

»
Germany: Thousands of German Turks decry Armenian ‘genocide’ allegations Image

19 views

Germany: Thousands of German Turks decry Armenian ‘genocide’ allegations

Thousands of people belonging to Berlin’s Turkish community marched through the streets of Germany’s capital, Saturday, to protest recent comments by several world leaders labelling the mass killing of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I as a “genocide.”------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------To use this footage please contact the Ruptly Client Desk: cd@ruptly.tvVideo ID: 20150425-055----------------------------------Twitter: http://twitter.com/RuptlyVK: https://vk.com/ruptlytvFacebook: http://www.facebook.com/RuptlyLiveLeak: http://www.liveleak.com/c/RuptlyVine: https://vine.co/RuptlyInstagram: http://www.instagram.com/RuptlyGoogle Plus: http://google.com/+RuptlyTVYouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/RuptlyTVDailyMotion: http://www.dailymotion.com/ruptlyVideo on Demand: http://www.ruptly.tv

‘The Jungle’: France moves migrants to makeshift Calais camp Image

23 views

‘The Jungle’: France moves migrants to makeshift Calais camp

Last month hundreds of migrants stuck near the French port of Calais were forced to relocate to a new makeshift settlement. Today aid workers call it 'the worst in Europe'. RT's Polly Boiko paid a visit.RT LIVE http://rt.com/on-airSubscribe to RT! http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=RussiaTodayLike us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/RTnewsFollow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/RT_comFollow us on Instagram http://instagram.com/rtFollow us on Google+ http://plus.google.com/+RTListen to us on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/rttvRT (Russia Today) is a global news network broadcasting from Moscow and Washington studios. RT is the first news channel to break the 1 billion YouTube views benchmark.

Torches light up Yerevan: 100yrs since Armenian genocide Image

22 views

Torches light up Yerevan: 100yrs since Armenian genocide

A torchlight procession was carried out in memory of the victims of the 1915 killing and deportation of ethnic Armenians by the Ottoman Empire, in Yerevan’s Republic Square. The procession is part of the commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the mass killing.COURTESY: RT's RUPTLY video agency, NO RE-UPLOAD, NO REUSE - FOR LICENSING, PLEASE, CONTACT http://ruptly.tv RT LIVE http://rt.com/on-airSubscribe to RT! http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=RussiaTodayLike us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/RTnewsFollow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/RT_comFollow us on Instagram http://instagram.com/rtFollow us on Google+ http://plus.google.com/+RTListen to us on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/rttvRT (Russia Today) is a global news network broadcasting from Moscow and Washington studios. RT is the first news channel to break the 1 billion YouTube views benchmark.

Middle east

»
Yemen Clashes: Intense firefight erupts in Aden Image

20 views

Yemen Clashes: Intense firefight erupts in Aden

At least 27 people were killed in clashes between Houthi fighters and forces loyal to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, in south Yemen. Footage shows fighting involving tanks, small arms and articulated anti-aricraft guns in Aden's Dar Saad district. Houthi fighters recently demanded an end to Saudi-led air strikes against them before beginning UN-sponsored talks. RT LIVE http://rt.com/on-airSubscribe to RT! http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=RussiaTodayLike us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/RTnewsFollow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/RT_comFollow us on Instagram http://instagram.com/rtFollow us on Google+ http://plus.google.com/+RTListen to us on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/rttvRT (Russia Today) is a global news network broadcasting from Moscow and Washington studios. RT is the first news channel to break the 1 billion YouTube views benchmark.

Yemen bombed: Aden, Taiz targeted, dozens killed (GRAPHIC) Image

24 views

Yemen bombed: Aden, Taiz targeted, dozens killed (GRAPHIC)

Saudi-led coalition airstrikes reportedly targeted the port city of Aden on Thursday, despite Riyadh having officially ended the bombing campaign in Yemen. The day before, dozens were killed in the southern Yemeni city of Taiz.COURTESY: RT's RUPTLY video agency, NO RE-UPLOAD, NO REUSE - FOR LICENSING, PLEASE, CONTACT http://ruptly.tvRT LIVE http://rt.com/on-airSubscribe to RT! http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=RussiaTodayLike us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/RTnewsFollow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/RT_comFollow us on Instagram http://instagram.com/rtFollow us on Google+ http://plus.google.com/+RTListen to us on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/rttvRT (Russia Today) is a global news network broadcasting from Moscow and Washington studios. RT is the first news channel to break the 1 billion YouTube views benchmark.

US citizens escape Yemen bombing aboard planes sent by Russia Image

79 views

US citizens escape Yemen bombing aboard planes sent by Russia

The US government said there is no plan for the evacuation of its citizens out of Yemen. And that's been the message for several weeks now. A number of Americans though did manage to flee on-board planes organised and co-ordinated by the Russian embassy.RT's Murad Gazdiev was on one of the latest flights that took Russians and foreigners from the conflict zone.RT LIVE http://rt.com/on-airSubscribe to RT! http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=RussiaTodayLike us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/RTnewsFollow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/RT_comFollow us on Instagram http://instagram.com/rtFollow us on Google+ http://plus.google.com/+RTListen to us on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/rttvRT (Russia Today) is a global news network broadcasting from Moscow and Washington studios. RT is the first news channel to break the 1 billion YouTube views benchmark.

United state

»
The Execution of Timothy McVeigh 3/3 (60 Minutes) Image

35 views

The Execution of Timothy McVeigh 3/3 (60 Minutes)

Before his death Timothy McVeigh allegedly told the Buffalo News that if there turned out to be an afterlife, he would "improvise, adapt and overcome", noting that: If there is a hell, then I'll be in good company with a lot of fighter pilots who also had to bomb innocents to win the war.- Wikipedia

GRAPHIC: Police car slams into suicidal suspect carrying stolen rifle Image

47 views

GRAPHIC: Police car slams into suicidal suspect carrying stolen rifle

Police in an Arizona town have released dashcam footage showing a police car slamming into a suspect at high speed.The incident, which occurred on 19 February, started when Mario Valencia was spotted by police walking down the street, pointing the rifle (which he had stolen earlier in the day) at his head.At one point he is seen to fire into the air, with police officers following him at a distance. Another car, driven by Officer Michael Rapiejko, can be seen racing to the scene then driving into Valencia and after a concrete barrier.Valencia was later taken to a hospital in serious condition, but was jailed two days later for the the rifle robbery and using a firearm in city limits.What are the top stories today? Click to watch: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSyY1udCyYqBeDOz400FlseNGNqReKkFdeuronews: the most watched news channel in EuropeSubscribe! http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=euronews euronews is available in 14 languages: https://www.youtube.com/user/euronewsnetwork/channelsIn English:Website: http://www.euronews.com/newsFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/euronewsTwitter: http://twitter.com/euronewsGoogle+: http://google.com/+euronewsVKontakte: http://vk.com/en.euronews

This Year, Tax Day is Minimum Wage Day Image

44 views

This Year, Tax Day is Minimum Wage Day

Low-wage workers across the nation came out and demanded a $15 an hour living wage. TRNN's Thomas Hedges spoke to protesters in the nation's capitol about the day of action.

This Year, Tax Day is Minimum Wage Day
Low-wage workers across the nation came out and demanded a $15 an hour living wage. TRNN's Thomas Hedges spoke to protesters in the nation's capitol about the day of action. -

Bio
Thomas Hedges is a journalist and producer at the Real News. He's also worked as a journalist for Ralph Nader's Center for Study of Responsive Law. He earned a degree in history from Columbia University and majored in English as an undergrad at Colgate University. @ThomasHedgesTRN

Subscribe to Nikpress

  • Israeli military strikes Golan Heights to foil terror plot
    Israeli soldiers stand next to mobile artillery units near the border with Syria in the Golan Heights (Reuters/Baz Ratner) By RT The Israeli Air Force launched a strike on a militant cell, who had arrived from Syria, after they were attempting to plant a bomb in the occupied Golan Heights. Reports say that up to four people have been killed in the operation.At around 9:30pm local time, Israeli troops saw “a group of armed terrorists” heading towards the Israeli side of the Golan Heights. The group then placed an explosive device on a border fence, which was deemed an apparent threat as it targeted the troops, according to an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) statement. Israeli aircraft were deployed and “targeted the squad, preventing the attack.”The military did not confirm or deny any casualties, but local media said up to four people had died. The Haaretz newspaper reported that three militants were killed and it was likely that the fourth one had been hit. It was also confirmed that the explosive device was not activated.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the troops’ quick response: “Any attempt to harm our soldiers or our citizens will be met with a decisive response like tonight’s IDF operation that prevented a terror attack. I commend the vigilant IDF soldiers that acted quickly and accurately,” he said.No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attempted attack.Israel seized part of the Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War. Damascus tried to unsuccessfully retake the Golan Heights during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The two countries signed an armistice in 1974 and a UN observer force has been in place on the ceasefire line ever since. Both countries are still technically in a state of war.Incidents similar to the Sunday attack are not uncommon on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights border. In March, Israeli soldiers shot at Hezbollah fighters who were suspected on trying to plant a bomb at a similar spot.There has been a lot of violent activity at the border, as Syrian anti-government rebels, including the extremist Al-Nursa Front, have been making their presence known on the Syrian side of the boundary.One of the biggest incidents involved the capture of 43 United Nations peacekeepers by armed Islamist forces in the Golan Heights. Militants linked to the Islamic State have been trying to seize control of the border crossing.The Syrian Civil War, which started in 2011, has left the country in a state of turmoil and has at times, spilled over into Israeli territory.Israel’s Air Force shot down a Syrian fighter jet over the Golan Heights in September, while in August, Israel took down a drone that had crossed over from Syria.Israel has not been a passive bystander in the Syrian conflict. UN observers at the Israeli-Syrian border reported back in December that Israeli security forces have treated wounded Syrian rebels and have possibly supplied them with arms for more than a year.In a series of reports to the UN Security Council by the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), there have been a number of documented instances (from March 2013 to December 2014) of the IDF engaging with “armed members of the opposition” on the Israeli-Syrian border in the Golan Heights.In January, Israeli warplanes struck several targets in Syria. The IDF said this was in response to Hezbollah rockets being fired into the Israeli occupied region.
  • The Myth of ‘Value-Free’ Social Science Or The Value of Political Commitments to Social Science
    By Prof. James Petras For many decades, mainstream social scientists, mostly conservative, have argued that political commitments and scientific research are incompatible. Against this current of opinion, others, mostly politically engaged social scientists, have argued that scientific research and political commitment are not contradictory.In this essay I will argue in favor of the latter position by demonstrating that scientific work is embedded in a socio-political universe, which its practioners can deny but cannot avoid. I will further suggest that the social scientist who is not aware of the social determinants of their work, are likely to fall prey to the least rigorous procedures in their work – the unquestioning of their assumptions, which direct the objectives and consequences of their research.We will proceed by addressing the relationship between social scientific work and political commitment and examining the political-institutional universe in which social scientific research occurs. We will recall the historical experience of social science research centers and, in particular, the relationship between social science and its financial sponsors as well as the beneficiaries of its work.We will further pursue the positive advantages, which political commitments provide, especially in questioning previously ignored subject matter and established assumptions.We will start by raising several basic questions about scientific work in a class society: in particular, how the rules of logical analysis and historical and empirical method are applied to the research objectives established by the ruling elites.Social Scientific Research and Socio-political Context Scientific work has its rules of investigation regarding the collection of data, its analytic procedures, the formulation of hypotheses and logic for reaching conclusions.  However, the research objective, the subject matter studied, the questions of ‘knowledge for what?’ and ‘for whom?’ are not inherent in the scientific method. Scientists do not automatically shed their class identity once they begin scientific endeavor.  Their class or social identity and ambitions, their   professional aspirations and their economic interests all deeply influence what they study and who benefits from their knowledge.Social scientific methods are the tools used to produce knowledge for particular social and political actors, whether they are incumbent political and economic elites or opposition classes and other non-elite groups.The Historical Origins of Elite Influenced Social Science After World War II, wealthy business elites and capitalist governments in the United States and Western Europe established and funded numerous research foundations carefully selecting the functionaries to lead them. They chose intellectuals who shared their perspectives and could be counted on to promote studies and academics compatible with their imperial and class interests. As a result of the interlocking of business and state interests, these foundations and academic research centers published books , articles and journals and held conferences and seminars, which justified US overseas military and economic expansion while ignoring the destructive consequences of these policies on targeted countries and people. Thousands of publications, funded by millions of dollars in research grants, argued that ‘the West was a bastion of pluralistic democracy’, while failing to acknowledge, let alone document, the growth of a world-wide hierarchical imperialist order.An army of scholars and researchers invented euphemistic language to disguise imperialism. For example, leading social scientists spoke and wrote of ‘world leadership’, a concept implying consensual acceptance based on persuasion, instead of describing the reality of ‘imperial dominance’, which more accurately defines the universal use of force, violence and exploitation of national wealth. The term, ‘free markets’, served to mask the historical tendency toward the concentration and monopolization of financial power. The ‘free world” obfuscated the aggressive and oppressive authoritarian regimes allied with Euro-US powers. Numerous other euphemistic concepts, designed to justify imperial expansion, were elevated to scientific status and considered ‘value free’.The transformation of social science into an ideological weapon of the ruling class reflected the institutional basis and political commitments of the researchers. The ‘benign behavior’ of post-World War 2 US empire-building, became the operating assumption guiding scientific research. Moreover, leading academics became gatekeepers and watchdogs enforcing the new political orthodoxy by claiming that critical research, which spoke for non-elite constituencies, was non-scientific, ideological and politicized. However, academics, who consulted with the Pentagon or were involved in revolving-door relationships with multi-national corporations, were exempted from any similar scholarly opprobrium: they were simply viewed as ‘consultants’ whose ‘normal’ extracurricular activities were divorced from their scientific academic work.In contrast, scholars whose research was directed at documenting the structure of power and to guiding political action by social movements were condemned as ‘biased’, ‘political’ and unsuitable for any academic career.In other words, academic authorities replicated the social repression of the ruling class in society, within the walls of academia. Their principle ideological weapon was to counterpose ‘objectivity’ to ‘values’. More specifically, they would argue that ‘true social science’ is ‘value free’ even as their published research was largely directed at furthering the power, profits and privileges of the incumbent power holders.‘Objective Academics’: the Manufacture of Euphemism and the Rise of Neo-Liberalism During the last two decades, as the class and national liberation struggles intensified and popular consciousness rose in opposition to neoliberalism, one of the key functions of the academic servants of the dominant classes has been to elaborate concepts and language that cloak the harsh class-anchored realities, which provoke popular resistance.A number of euphemisms, which were originally elaborated by leading social scientists, have become common currency in the world beyond the ivory tower and have been embraced by the heads of international financial institutions, editorialists, political pundits and beyond.Twenty-five years ago, the concept ‘reform’ referred to progressive changes: less inequality, greater social welfare, increased popular participation and more limitations on capitalist exploitation of labor. Since then, contemporary social scientists (especially economists) use the term, ‘reform’, to describe regressive changes, such as deregulation of capital, especially the privatization of public enterprises, health and educational institutions. In other words, mainstream academics transformed the concept of ‘reform’ into a private profitmaking business. ‘Reform’ has come to mean the reversal of all the working-class advances won over the previous century of popular struggle. ‘Reform’ is promoted by neo-liberal ideologues, preaching the virtues of unregulated capitalism. Their claim that ‘efficiency’ requires lowering ‘costs’, in fact means the elimination of any regulation over consumer quality, work safety and labor rights.Their notion of ‘efficiency’ fails to recognize that economies, which minimize workplace safety, or lower the quality of consumer goods (especially food) and depress wages, are inefficient from the point of view of maximizing the general welfare of the country. ‘Efficiency’ is confined by orthodox economists to the narrow class needs and profit interests of a thin layer of the population. They ignore the historical fact that the original assumption of classical economics was to provide the greatest benefit to the greatest number.The concept of ‘structural adjustment’ is another regressive euphemism, which has circulated widely among mainstream neoliberal social scientists.For many decades prior to the neo-liberal ascendancy, the concept of ‘structural changes’ meant the transformation of property relations in which the strategic heights of the economy were nationalized, income was re-distributed and agrarian reforms were implemented. This ‘classical conception of structural change’ was converted by mainstream neoliberals into its polar opposite: the new target of ‘structural change’ was public property, the object was to privatize by selling lucrative public enterprises to private conglomerates for the lowest price. Under the new rule of neo-liberal policymakers, ‘structural adjustment’ led to cuts in taxing profits of the rich and increases in regressive wage and consumer taxes on workers and the middle class. Under neoliberalism, ‘structural adjustments’ involve the re-concentration of wealth and property.The scope and depth of changes, envisioned by neoliberal economists, far exceed a simple ‘adjustment’ of the existing welfare state; they involve the large scale, long-term transformation of living standards and working conditions. ‘Adjustment’ is another euphemism designed by academics to camouflage the further concentration of plutocratic wealth, property and power.The concept ‘labor flexibility’ has gained acceptance by orthodox social scientists despite its class-anchored bias. The concept’s operational meaning is to maximize the power of the capitalist class to set work hours and freely fire workers for any reason, minimizing or eliminating notice and severance. The term ‘flexibility’ is another euphemism for unrestrained capitalist control over workers. The corollary is that labor has lost job security and protection from arbitrary dismissal. The negative connotations are obscured by the social scientist’s manipulation of language on behalf of the capitalist class: the operational meaning of ‘labor flexibility’ is ‘capitalist rigidity’.Our fourth example of the class bias of mainstream neoliberal social science is the concept of ‘market economy’. The diffuse meaning of ‘market’ fails to specify several essential characteristics: These include the mode of production where market transactions take place; the size and scope of the principle actors (buyers and sellers); and the relationships between the producers and consumers, bankers (creditors) and manufacturers (debtors).‘Markets’ have always existed under slave, feudal, mercantile and capitalist economies. Moreover, in contemporary states, small scale local farmers’ markets, co-operative producers and consumer markets ‘co-exist’ and are subsumed within national and international markets. The ‘actors’ vary from small-scale fruit and vegetable growers, fisher folk and artisan markets to markets dominated by multi-billion dollar conglomerates. The relations within markets vary between ‘relatively’ free, competitive local markets and massive international markets dominated by the ten largest ‘monopoly’ conglomerates. Today in the United States, international banks and other financial institutions exert vast influence over all large-scale market activity.By amalgamating all the different and disparate ‘markets’ under the generic term ‘market economies’, social scientists perform a vital ideological function of obscuring the concentration of power and wealth of oligarchical capitalist institutions and the role that financial institutions play in determining the role of the state in promoting and protecting power.The Question of Political Commitment and Objectivity Reconsidered By critically examining a few of the major concepts that guide orthodox social science researchers, we have exposed how their political commitments to the capitalist system and its leading classes inform their objectives and analysis, direct their research and guide their policy recommendations.Once their political commitments define the research ‘problem’ to be studied and establish the conceptual framework, they apply ‘empirical’, historical and mathematical methods to collect and organize the data. They then apply logical procedures to ‘reach their conclusions’. On this flawed basis they present their work as ‘value-free’ social science. The only ‘accepted criticism’ is confined to those who operate within the conceptual parameters and assumptions of the mainstream academics.Who Benefits from Social Science Research? In the 150 years since its ‘establishment’ in the universities and research centers, the funders and gatekeepers of the profession, including the editors of professional and academic journals, have heavily influenced mainstream social scientists. This has been especially true during ‘normal’ periods of economic growth, political stability and successful imperialist wars. However, deep economic crisis, prolonged losing wars and social upheavals inevitably make their impact on the world of social science. Fissures and dissent among scientists grow in direct proportion to the ‘breakdown’ of the established order: The dominant academic paradigm is shown to be out of touch with the everyday life of the academics and as well as the public. Crisis and the accompanying national, class, racial and gender mass movements present challenges to the dominant academic paradigms. In the beginning, a minority, mostly students and younger scholars form a vanguard of iconoclasts via their critiques, exposing the hidden political biases embedded in the work of leading social scientists.For example, the critics point out that the pursuit of ‘stability’, ‘prosperity’, ‘social cohesion’ and ‘managed change’ are ideological goals, dictated by and for the preservation of the dominant classes faced with societal breakdown, widespread immiseration and deepening social changes.What would begin as a minority movement critiquing the ‘value free’ claims of the mainstream, becomes a majority movement, openly embracing a value informed social science oriented toward furthering the struggle of popular movements. This happens through committed social scientists, whose work criticizes the structures of power, and propose alternative economic institutions and class, national, racial and gender relations.Economic crisis, imperial defeats and rising social struggles are reflected in a polarization within the academic world: between students and younger academics linked to the mass struggles and the established foundation/state-linked senior faculty.Having lost ideological hegemony, the elite gatekeepers resort to repression: Denying tenure to critics and suspending or expelling students on the basis of spurious charges that political activism and research directed toward mass struggle are incompatible with scientific work. The emerging academic rebels counter by exposing the elites’ hypocrisy – their political activities, commitments and consultancies with corporate and state institutions.Movements outside academia and critical academics and students within the institutions point to the enormous gap between the elites declared ‘defense of “universal values’ and the narrow elite class, imperial and race interests that they serve and depend upon.For example, elite academic claims of defending democracy through US intervention, coups and wars are belied by the majoritarian resistance movements in opposition to, as well as the oligarchies and military juntas in support of, the intervention. The elite academics, faced with these empirical and historical facts, resort to several ideological subterfuges to remain ‘loyal’ to their principles: They can admit the facts but claim they are ‘exceptions to the rule’ – amounting to temporary and local aberrations. Some academic elites, faced with the contradiction between their embrace of the ‘democratic hypothesis’ and the authoritarian- imperialist reality, denounce the ‘tyranny of the majority’ and exalt the minority, as the true carriers of ‘democratic values’. In this case ‘values’ are superimposed over the quest for economic enrichment and military expansion; ‘values’ are converted into disembodied entities, which have no operative meaning, nor can they explain profoundly authoritarian practices.Finally and most frequently, elite academics, faced with overwhelming facts contrary to their assumptions, refuse to acknowledge the critiques of their critics. They simply avoid public debate by claiming they are not ‘political people’ . . . but reserve their right to castigate and punish their adversaries, behind closed doors, via administrative measures. If they can’t defeat their critics intellectually or scientifically, they use their enormous administrative powers to fire or censure them, cut their salaries and research budgets and thus…. ‘end the debate’.With these elite options in mind and given that their power resides in their administrative prerogatives, critical academics, oriented to popular movements, need to engage in coalition building inside and outside of academia. First they must build broad alliances with local and national academic solidarity movements defending freedom of expression and opposing repression; secondly they must engage in research supporting popular movements. Any successful coalition must be inclusive among critical academics, students, university workers and the parents of students capable of paralyzing the university and negotiating with the academic – administrative power elite. Finally, they have to strengthen and build political coalitions with social movements outside of academia, especially with groups with which academic researchers have established working relations.These include neighborhood groups, tenant unions, trade unions, farmers’ and ecology movements and community organizations fighting urban evictions, which will ally with academic struggles on the basis of prior working relations and mutual solidarity. When academics only show up to ask for popular support in their time of distress effective social mobilization is unlikely to evolve.The ‘inside and outside’ strategy will succeed if it strikes quickly with large-scale support. These alliances can go forward through immediate victories even if they are small scale: small victories build big movements.ConclusionAcademic freedom to conduct scientific research for and with popular, national, democratic and socialist movements is not merely an academic issue. To deny this research and to expel these academics creates larger political consequences. Rigorous studies can play a major role in aiding movements in arguing, fighting and negotiating in favor of their rights and interests. Likewise, critical academics, whose studies are disconnected from popular practice, end -up publishing inconsequential treatises and narratives. Such social scientists adopt an exotic and obtuse vocabulary, which is accessible only those initiated into an academic cult. The elite tolerates this exotic type of critical academic because they do not pose any threat to the dominant elite’s paradigm or administrative power.For the serious critical academic, in answering the question of ‘knowledge for whom?’: they would do well to follow Karl Marx’s wise adage, ‘The object of philosophy is not only to study the world but to change it.’
  • Nepal earthquake All latest updates Aftermath
    By The Economist The number of dead is rising, and aftershocks continue WHAT happens right after a natural disaster matters almost as much as what takes place during the calamity itself. The 7.9-magnitude earthquake that struck west of Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, on April 25th toppled buildings and crushed the unlucky people inside. The death toll is now 2,500 in Nepal, with over 6,000 injured. If injured victims are not rescued and treated in time, if water and food supplies are insufficient, if proper hygiene is not preserved or if those made homeless are exposed to poor weather, then the risks for survivors grow. Many Nepalis are now camping outside, fearful because of continuing aftershocks. Hospital patients are being treated in the street, for example, for broken limbs and pelvic fractures, amid fears of further damage to buildings. Unseasonal rains and storms are now expected. Drinking water, says one Kathmandu resident, is a problem. “A lot of people were outside at night without blankets,” he adds.The number of known earthquake victims will certainly rise as it becomes clearer how smaller towns and villages have been affected, especially around Gorkha, in a mountainous area west of Kathmandu. Aerial photographs show collapsed houses on terraced hillsides. Avalanches triggered by the earthquake killed climbers on and around Mount Everest, with over 200 people still missing there. Tremors also killed dozens of people in neighbouring India, notably in Bihar state. There were also casualties in Tibet. On April 26th a fresh earthquake just east of Kathmandu, with a magnitude of 6.7, caused further panic, though apparently not more casualties. There had in theory been abundant time for many international agencies and other aid donors to plan for an earthquake in Nepal, which is said to have 92 active fault lines. Nepal is stuffed with foreign experts, recruited to focus on precisely this sort of problem. Kathmandu is generally a pleasant place for foreign aid workers to live. Nepal has been host to at least a dozen UN agencies and a large contingent of foreign staff. At their peak, UN operations employed 3,000 in the country.Natural disasters strike Nepal regularly, and the impact of these can be reduced by common steps, such as better communication. Storms strike the mountains and kill locals and tourists caught in the open, but better warnings can save lives. Floods kill about 1,000 Nepalis a year. To some extent the steady spread of mobile phones and social media is likely to reduce the toll of disasters, by alerting people to coming storms, for instance, and spreading information about how to prepare for and respond to earthquakes.Senior UN officials involved with humanitarian issues have long talked in private about their greatest fear in Nepal: a big earthquake compounded by a failure in governance. This earthquake, though severe, could have been even stronger. It is unclear whether Nepal's government can respond effectively. Foreign governments, however, are already doing so. India has taken the lead and started delivering aid while evacuating hundreds of its own citizens. China, Bhutan and Sri Lanka have also sent assistance, and others, including Pakistan and America, are promising to do so. How dire the humanitarian situation becomes will now depend in part on the weather as well as on how quickly better land access from India to the mountainous territory that is worst affected can be established.
  • Assad’s hold on power looks shakier than ever as rebels advance in Syria
    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaks during an interview with France 2 television in Damascus, the Syrian capital, on April 19, 2015. (Syrian Arab News Agency via EPA) By Liz Sly April 26 at 5:44 PM (The Washington Post) BEIRUT — A surge of rebel gains in Syria is overturning long-held assumptions about the durability of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which now appears in greater peril than at any time in the past three years.The capture on Saturday of the town of Jisr al-Shughour in northern Idlib province was just the latest in a string of battlefield victories by rebel forces, which have made significant advances in both the north and the south of the country.As was the case in the capital of Idlib province last month, government defenses in Jisr al-Shughour crumbled after just a few days of fighting, pointing as much to the growing weakness of regime forces as the revival of the opposition.The battlefield shifts come at a time when the Obama administration has set aside the crisis in Syria to focus on its chief priorities: defeating the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and concluding a nuclear deal with Iran.Yet the pace of events in Syria may force the United States to refocus on the unresolved war, which remains at the heart of the turmoil engulfing the Middle East, analysts say. Iran backs Assad, Saudi Arabia backs the rebels, and a shift in the balance of power in Syria could have profound repercussions for the conflicts in Iraq and Yemen. We’re seeing a game changer right now in Syria,” said Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist. “I think we are going to see an end to the Assad regime, and we have to think now about what will happen the day after, because the day after is near.”[Graphic: Visualizing the 220,000 lives lost in Syria]Other observers say the prospect of a government collapse in Damascus is still remote. The capital is well defended, and the rebels’ gains have come mostly on the periphery of the country, where the regime’s supply lines are stretched.But perceptions that Assad will survive indefinitely or serve at least as an interim counterbalance to the Islamic State and its strongholds in northeastern Syria are in doubt, said Emile Hokayem of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.The growing strains on Assad’s manpower and resources “are becoming extremely obvious, and the magnitude of his losses are now too big to hide,” Hokayem said.“This destroys the narrative that he is winning, which he was counting on, and also the argument that he is the best option against ISIS,” the analyst added, using an alternative acronym for the Islamic State. “If he’s not able to take on or even defend against the rebels, he’s going to have a hard time presenting himself as able to fight ISIS.”The revival of rebel fortunes is attributed to a large degree on the recent rapprochement between a newly assertive Saudi Arabia and its erstwhile rivals for influence over the rebels — Turkey and Qatar.Since inheriting the throne in January, Saudi King Salman has moved forcefully to challenge the expanding regional influence of Iran, Saudi Arabia’s biggest foe, most publicly by embarking on an air war against Houthi rebels in Yemen. He has also acted to shore up the flagging and deeply divided rebels in Syria against the Iranian-backed Assad, in coordination with Qatar and Turkey, Khashoggi said.The result has been an unexpectedly cohesive rebel coalition called the Army of Conquest that is made up of al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, an assortment of mostly Islamist brigades and a small number of more-moderate battalions. The coalition, which launched last month, has proved more effective than expected.After seizing most of Idlib province in recent weeks, the rebels are pressing south toward the government strongholds of Hama and Homs, and are threatening the Assad family’s coastal heartland of Latakia. A separate, more moderate rebel coalition has been making swift advances in the south, challenging government control over the key provincial capital of Daraa and making progress north toward Damascus.Just as significantly, government forces have been proving increasingly ineffective. The collapse of two much-trumpeted offensives earlier this year, in southern Syria and in Aleppo, presaged the success of the recent rebel offensives, suggesting that even if the government can remain in control in Damascus, its chances of regaining the rest of the country are slipping.There are signs that the regime itself is fraying under the strain of the four-year-old war. On Friday, pro-government news outlets reported the death of political security director Rustom Ghazaleh, a longtime Assad stalwart, after months of rumors that he had fallen out with the regime, been badly beaten up by a rival and was languishing in hospital.The reports followed the firing last month of the military intelligence chief, Rafiq Shehadeh, another inner-circle loyalist. Western diplomats monitoring events in Syria from Beirut say the two men appear to have clashed with the Assad family over the growing battlefield role played by Iran.[Map: How the flow of foreign fighters to Iraq and Syria has surged since October]The tensions are reaching into the heart of the Assad family, whose four-decade-old rule had seemed unshakeable until the revolt erupted in 2011.Hafez Makhlouf, Assad’s cousin, was fired late last year as head of security in the province of Damascus and has since fled the country, the diplomats say. Another cousin, Munzer al-Assad, was detained this month amid rumors that he had been plotting a coup.“It looks like there are major rifts going on inside the Assad regime,” one of the diplomats said. “A military collapse on the regime side is not impossible.”Much will depend on Iran, which has stepped up in the past to dispatch men, money and arms whenever Assad seemed to be faltering. But Iran is stretched, too, by the economic effects of continued international sanctions and by the competing demands of the war next door in Iraq, which has diverted some of the Iraqi Shiite militias that had been fighting for the regime in Syria.In a commentary for the Middle East Institute last week, Robert S. Ford, a former U.S. envoy to Syria, said a regime collapse cannot be ruled out. The regime’s schisms, its battlefield setbacks and its manpower shortages “are all signs of weakness,” he wrote. “We may be seeing signs of the beginning of their end.”
  • Traumatised Yazidi girls are having secret abortions, used as sex slaves by Isis fighters (Video)
    The names of Yazidi women were selected from a lottery for men to rape, a survivor told the charity Traumatised Yazidi girls are having secret abortions and operations to repair virginity after months of being used as sex slaves by Isis fighters By Sara Malm and Elaine O'flynn For Mailonline Hundreds of Yazidi girls and women held as sex slaves in Islamic StateSome who have escaped have returned pregnant by their captorsAbortion is illegal in Kurdistan, but some doctors are breaking the law Doctors in Kurdistan are breaking the law by performing abortions on young Yazidi girls who have been released after being held as sex slaves by ISIS fighters.Traumatised after months of rape and torture at the hands of ISIS militants, some of victims have returned after falling pregnant by their captors and further at risk at being ostracised by their community, which frowns upon pre-marital sex.Now, some Kurdish doctors are allegedly performing illegal abortions and secret surgeries to 'reverse loss of virginity' on the victims, some of whom are as young as eight, the Sunday Times reports.Scroll down for video Hundreds of Yazidi girls and women, some as young as eight, were kidnapped by ISIS last year, and have since been held as sex slaves in the Islamic State Horrifying tale: This 15-year-old Yazidi girl is one of hundreds of former ISIS sex slaves who have managed to escape the Islamic State and now face the difficult task of re-entering the strict religious communityThe young girls, some barely teenagers, are some of around 40,000 people kidnapped at gunpoint when Islamic State fighters attacked Yazidi villages last summer.The women who have escaped now face being shunned by their strict religious communities, and many are erase to hide the physical evidence of their time in captivity, Hala Jaber writes in the Sunday Times. Some Yazidi girls are secretly undergoing abortions, banned in Kurdistan even in cases of rape, and seeking hymen surgery to 'reverse the loss of virginity'.A recent study by Human Rights watch has found that ISIS fighters have been kidnapping women and children as young as eight, forcing them to marry and convert to Islam and raping them repeatedly.Around 40,000 people were kidnapped at gunpoint when Islamic State fighters attacked Yazidi villages last summer. Yazidi women and girls have been separated from their families, forced to convert to Islam and repeatedly raped by ISIS fighters, the study from Human Rights Watch says. Their actions amount to war crimes. it adds The names of Yazidi women were selected from a lottery for men to rape, a survivor told the charity azidi children as young as eight have been abducted from their homes in northern Iraq, raped by ISIS fighters and forced into marriage. One child interviewed said she was 'owned' and raped by seven different menHundreds have been able to return, either by fleeing or being set free by ISIS, and many young women who has been held as sex slaves.Their terrifying campaign of systematic rape was tantamount to war crimes - and possibly crimes against humanity, the report adds.Human Rights Watch has collected the accounts of 20 women and girls who escaped from ISIS, which they say shows a system of organised rape and sexual assault, sexual slavery and forced marriage – acts that constitute war crimes.Now they are urging that survivors get the medical and psychological treatment that they need to cope with the unimaginable trauma they suffered.A 31-year-old Yazidi woman named Rashida told the charity she was told by her brother to commit suicide if she was unable to escape the ISIS fighters who had captured her.‘Later that day they made a lottery of our names and started to choose women by drawing out the names', the 31-year-old said.‘The man who selected me, Abu Ghufran, forced me to bathe but while I was in the bathroom I tried to kill myself.‘I had found some poison in the house, and took it with me to the bathroom. I knew it was toxic because of its smell.‘I distributed it to the rest of the girls and we each mixed some with water in the bathroom and drank it. None of us died but we all got sick.’     Rape and other forms of sexual violence committed during an armed conflict violate the laws of war. These women were part of a group of 216 Yazidis who were recently released by ISIS after being captured last yearAnother woman, identified as Dilara, said she was taken to a wedding hall in Syria where ISIS fighters told the group to forget their relatives and prepare to marry them and bear their children.From 9:30am in the morning, men would come to buy girls to rape them. She told Human Rights Watch: 'I saw in front of my eyes ISIS soldiers pulling hair, beating girls, and slamming the heads of anyone who resisted.'They were like animals…. Once they took the girls out, they would rape them and bring them back to exchange for new girls.The girls’ ages ranged from eight to 30 years… only 20 girls remained in the end.'This comes just weeks after the release of 216 Yazidi prisoners who had been held captive since last summer when ISIS militants attacked their villages in the area around Sinjar in northwestern Iraq.The freed prisoners said that they had been led to believe they were being led to their execution, but instead, were piled onto a minibus that drove them to peshmerga positions.It was not clear why the radical jihadists had decided to release the Yazidis, whom they consider devil-worshippers, but the group previously freed 200 more it was holding under similarly mysterious circumstances.Yazidi activists say many remain in the hands of Islamic State, which has often subjected women to rape or sexual slavery.The United Nations said last month that the Islamic State may have committed genocide against the minority.The Yazidis are an ancient, predominantly Kurdish, people who follow their own religion derived from Islam, Christianity and Zoroastrianism.
  • London schoolgirls who joined ISIS Tweet of new 'jihad bride' live
    'Takeaway food... now I wanna behead some kafirs': Tower Hamlets schoolgirls who travelled to Syria to become jihadi brides tweet about their new lives with ISIS By Sara Malm for MailOnline Published: 11:56 GMT, 26 April 2015 | Updated: 14:51 GMT, 26 April 2015 Amira Abase, 15, left UK for Syria with two classmates in FebruaryTweeted about enjoying a takeaway in Islamic State 'capital' RaqqaAlso shows life pre-ISIS with tweets about shoes, waffles and Chelsea FCAmira, Shamima Begum and Kadiza Sultana aimed to be 'jihadi brides'Before departing, Amira tweeted a picture of the three in a London park One of the three East London schoolgirls who left the UK to become 'jihadi brides' in Syria has confirmed that she is now living in the Islamic State - by tweeting a picture of chicken and chips.Amira Abase, 15, left Bethnal Green with Shamima Begum 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, in February, and is believed to be living in the Syrian city of Raqqa.Now, nearly two months after her departure, Amira has shared a snippet of life in the Islamic State - posting an online photo of her enjoying a takeaway dinner with another teenage 'jihadi bride'.Scroll down for video ISIS spread: London schoolgirl Amira Abase, 15, has tweeted from inside the Islamic State for the first time (above), bragging about a Western-style takeaway dinner of fried chicken, chips, pizza and kebab meatUntil recently, the Twitter account of 15-year-old Amira was set to private. The recent public tweet from the radicalised teenager gives a unique insight into the life of the British runaways.It shows a huge Western-style takeaway, including fried chicken, chips, pizza and kebab meat. Amira - tweeting under the name Bintt Abbas - captioned the photograph 'dawla takeaway w/ @um_ayoub12'. 'Dawla' is another name for the Islamic State, which is also known as Isis.'Um-ayoub12' is the name of another Twitter user, who describes herself as a '16-year-old muhajirah'. She believed to be another of the dozens of western teenagers who have travelled from Europe to join Isis.Amira's dinner companion uses the same profile picture as the 15-year-old from Bethnal Green. Earlier this year the older girl tweeted: 'uh wanna behead some kafirs [non-Muslims] now'. Amira Abase, pictured last September, has tweeted from inside the Islamic State for the first time Disturbing minds: Amira uses the same Twitter picture as another Western teen runaway, known only as Um Ayoub, who tweeted earlier this year that she wanted to 'behead some kafirs [non-muslims] now'. 'Jihadi brides': This picture is thought to show Amira and her fellow runaways - Bethnal Green Academy students Shamima Begum, 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, in a London park   Amira's Twitter account shows pictures of Amira's everyday life as a teenager in East London in the months before she left for Syria.They include snaps of her building a tower out of neon highlighter pens during a revision session at Bethnal Green Academy as well as several pictures of the London skyline, which appear to have been taken from her family home.The GCSE pupil also shares her love for Vans and Nike trainers and Chelsea FC.She also appears to be a fan of the Cookies & Cream dessert cafes, tweeting a picture taken in its Whitechapel branch and declaring it has 'the best waffles'.Before her departure to Syria, she tweeted a poignant picture of herself with two friends, believed to be fellow runaways Shamima Begum and Kadiza Sultana, before their departure. It shows the trio sitting in a London park, and is captioned 'Akhwaat', meaning 'sisters' in Arabic.Earlier this week, it was reported that Abase and her two classmates had joined the fearsome group of British female jihadis who run Isis's ultra-religious police force. ormal teen: As Amira's Twitter account has become public, it also gives an insight into her life as a normal 15-year-old girl in East London, posting about shoes, waffles, sunsets and Chelsea FC Concerns: The three East London schoolgirls are believed to have joined the fearsome group of British female jihadis who run the al-Khansa brigade - Isis's ultra-religious police forceShamima Begum has forged social media links with three of the British leaders of the al-Khansa brigade – an all-women militia set up by the terror group a year ago. It is understood the trio are now training with one of the notorious female arms of Isis.Covered in black from head to toe and wielding automatic weapons, the group has been accused of doling out savage beatings on the streets of Raqqa, and spying on its citizens.They are said to mercilessly patrol the streets of the terror group's adopted capital, and have previously declared that children as young as nine should be married. They say women should obey men – who are their masters – and remain 'hidden and veiled' at all times.The group operates as an ultra-oppressive police force, monitoring the behaviour of females in the city and dishing out brutal punishments to anyone wearing shoes that aren't black or veils made from the 'wrong' material.According to Syrian activist group 'Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently', the female fanatics are feared by local women due to their use of torture.
  • Chinese Honor Guard Arrives in Moscow for First Time Ever
    By Sputnik The Chinese army's Honor Guard has arrived in Moscow for the first time ever in what the country's ambassador calls a new stage in inter-military ties.The Chinese army's Honor Guard arrived in Moscow on Saturday to participate in the May 9 Victory Day parade.This is the first time that China is sending its Honor Guard to take part in a parade on Red Square. The 110 Guards of Honor are based in Beijing's Capital Garrison and report directly to the Chinese General Staff. "This is an important event for inter-army exchange between Russia and China this year, and will assist in making the two countries' inter-military cooperation enter a new stage of development," China's Ambassador to Russia Li Hui previously told Xinhua.Ambassador Li added that the guard's arrival shows the high level of strategic cooperation between Russia and China, as well as the peculiar character of their relationship. Serbian Guard Officers Head to Moscow for Victory Day Parade Ten countries have so far announced that they will have their military participate in the May 9 parade, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.War veterans from the former Soviet Union as well as other countries will also take part in the parade.
  • Syrian rebels capture Jisr al-Shughour
    By Erika Solomon (FT) Islamist rebels have captured the Syrian town of Jisr al-Shughour, their second major victory in less than a month as they push back Bashar al-Assad’s forces in the north and inch closer to his coastal stronghold.For the first time since their four year revolt began, opposition forces seized Jisr al-Shughour, one of the first places to take up arms against the president amid a crackdown on peaceful protests. Rebel control of the town threatens supply lines to the few remaining government strongholds in northern Idlib province and could aid rebel advances east toward Syria’s second city, Aleppo, or south toward the central city of Hama.It is also a symbolic victory for Islamist supporters who remember Jisr al-Shughour as the site of a fierce regime crackdown in the 1980s.Syria’s state news agency indirectly acknowledged the army’s withdrawal, saying that state forces were attacking rebels on the outskirts of the town.The opposition victory comes less than a month after opposition forces seized nearby Idlib city, the second provincial capital to fall from Mr Assad’s hands. These advances suggest Mr Assad is losing his grip on northwestern Syria.An alliance of Islamist forces launched the offensive last month, calling themselves Jaish al-Fatah, “Army of Conquest.” The Arabic word ‘fatah’ is a reference to 7th century Islamic conquests that spread Islam across the region.Among the leading groups has been al-Qaeda’s Syrian franchise, Jabhat al-Nusra, which some locals worry may try to use the region to make a base for itself along the lines of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) in eastern Syria. The group denies such ambitions. Rebel control of Jisr al-Shughour threatens Mr Assad’s coastal stronghold, the heartland of his Alawite minority sect. Alawites have largely stood by the president, fearing the rising power of Islamist forces. Rebels are already attacking an Alawite village near Jisr al-Shughour, where they believe Assad forces have fled.“After this, the battle will move to the enemy’s territory, to the region that for four years has exported the shabiha,” said opposition activist Tariq Abdelhaq, making a reference to pro-Assad militias, largely Alawite, that have been accused of several massacres of Sunni Muslims, Syria’s majority group and the backbone of the opposition.Thousands of civilians fled Jisr al-Shughour as government warplanes bombed the town in over 30 air raids, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. .
  • Islam, Polygamy and Western Subsidies
    Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day In Islam Muhammad is seen as the perfect example of life and conduct for Muslim males. Thus if he had many wives, then they can too. While Muhammad was granted special privileges and thus had around 13 wives (see sura 33:50), ordinary Muslims are restricted to just four wives (sura 4:3).That polygamy is standard Islamic practice is quite clear. What is not so clear is how this works out in Western nations which have proscribed polygamy. The sad truth is, polygamy is widely practiced by many Muslims in Western nations, and we even subsidise all this through our tax dollars.The Koran, hadith and authoritative texts on Islamic jurisprudence all speak to the place and regulation of polygamy. And the way it is usually carried out makes it quite conducive for Muslims in the West to get away with this with impunity.The classical Islamic law manual by 14th-century scholar al-Misri, Reliance of the Traveller, (recently translated into English) for example says it is “illegal for a man to house two wives in the same lodgings unless they both agree” (Book M10.2). Most Muslims indeed prefer that they live separately, and in the West, this is quite helpful for getting government (taxpayer) assistance.One wife can live with the Muslim husband while the other three live elsewhere, and they can then collect things like the sole parent pension. Since many of these marriages are unregistered, they can easily get away with this. This is a big problem not just in Australia but around the West.THE MEN WITH MANY WIVESJust yesterday we had this shocking headline coming out of England: “Strolling in a park, a London businessman and his THREE wives – just one of up to 20,000 such multi-wife marriages in polygamy Britain.” The article opens with the story of Nabilah Phillips who gave up her studies at Cambridge University and a future successful career, to enter into a polygamous marriage with the businessman. The article continues:Nabilah, her husband and his two other wives are part of a growing number of polygamous marriages taking place in Britain. They are rubber-stamped under Sharia law, which considers polygamy completely legitimate as Muslim men are permitted to take up to four wives. It is, of course, in complete contradiction to UK law, under which bigamy is illegal and can result in a prison sentence of up to seven years.But as such marriages are not recognised by English courts — and around 70 to 75 per cent of Muslim weddings go unregistered — those who marry under the system are not subject to prosecution. As a result, the practice is becoming increasingly commonplace across Britain, with 20,000 polygamous marriages now estimated to have taken place here.Islamic Polygamy in AustraliaBut getting back to Australia, we have a history of this occurring, and many Muslim leaders have been rather open about it all. Let me just mention a few items here. For example, back in 2001, the ABC TV religion show Compass with Geraldine Doogue had an interview with the “founder of Victoria’s Islamic community,” Sheikh Fehmi Naji El-Imam. In it was this amazing exchange:Narrator:In Islam, sex outside marriage is forbidden, so marriage is positively encouraged. Muslims rarely marry outside their religious group and while this couple probably take it for granted they can have a wedding according their custom, in Australia this is a relatively new occurrence. Islam recognises polygamy so prior to 1968 Imams like Sheikh Fehmi were not permitted to celebrate marriages.Sheikh Fehmi:It used to be at the time the late Mr Snedden he was the Attorney General. So I had a good meeting with him one day and tried to convince him that it is important for the Muslim to marry their own people. But he used to say to me, Well you know Sheikh Fehmi that you Muslims may marry more than one and when we are not allowed to let anybody here for have only one wife. I said to him, listen to me please you may register the first one and don’t worry about the second one. He laughed and said all right we won’t have anything to do with the second one. I stopped at the idea and at the time we had gained recognition from the Attorney General for all our Imams around Australia from that year onward.Incredible! And that is basically what we have happening here. Polygamy may well be illegal in this country, but the authorities are effectively turning a blind eye to it, and are refusing to prosecute cases of this occurring here. Only when it was revealed just how much underage forced marriages are taking place that a bit of a crackdown occurred. I wrote that episode up here: billmuehlenberg.com/2014/06/14/this-is-sydney-not-saudi-arabia/Let me cite more of our recent history on this. Back in 2009 Keysar Trad, president of the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia, actually had a piece in the Sydney Morning Herald asking, “Why should polygamy be a crime?” In it he admits that most of these marriages are unregistered:There is no requirement for such a union to be “legally” registered with a secular body that does not recognise the clauses in a Muslim union. Plural relations of this nature that take place in Australia are treated like de facto relationships and are not registered. This keeps them outside the ambit of the nation’s criminal and marriage laws. Such unions are not considered adulterous because they follow the rules of an Islamic union. They are not secret and they carry no stigma under God.And as already mentioned, it is not just a case of Australian laws being broken here, but taxpayers having to fund this Islamic lifestyle. Consider a 2010 headline: “Growing number of Muslim men and multiple wives exploiting loophole for taxpayer handouts.” The article begins:A growing number of Muslim men and their multiple wives are exploiting a loophole to get taxpayer handouts. Centrelink has confirmed it has investigated up to 20 cases of multiple relationships, including polygamy, in the past two years for payment irregularities. It has forced some families to pay money back.Polygamy is illegal in Australia, but a Centrelink spokeswoman said it was not the welfare agency’s job to police polygamy laws. “It’s not our concern if they are a member of a polygamist relationship,” the spokeswoman said. “We look at whether they are receiving the correct rate of payment. We treat each couple independently.”But Islamic Women’s Welfare Council of Victoria director Joumanah El Matrah said some men were exploiting Australia. “It (polygamy) was a minority but it’s certainly a growing minority because Muslim men realised it was possible to get away with it,” she said. She said Muslim men who took more than one wife and relied on Centrelink payments to support their families were not following Islamic law, which dictated they could only take multiple wives if they could afford it.A year later a legal expert penned a piece about “Sharia law at work in Australia”. The article opens:Sharia law has become a shadow legal system within Australia, endorsing polygamous and underage marriages that are outlawed under the Marriage Act. A system of “legal pluralism” based on sharia law “abounds” in Australia, according to new research by legal academics Ann Black and Kerrie Sadiq. They have found that Australian Muslims have long been complying with the shadow system of religious law as well as mainstream law.But in family law, not all Muslims were registering their marriages and some were relying on religious ceremonies to validate unions that breached the Marriage Act. This included “polygynist marriages”, in which a man takes multiple wives, and marriages where one party is under the lawful marriage age. Their research, which will be published on Monday in the University of NSW Law Journal, says that the wider community has been “oblivious to the legal pluralism that abounds in this country”.All this is just the tip of the iceberg. Australia already has a two-tiered legal system, with sharia family law largely running unchecked. And when multiple wives with numerous children exist, largely in unregistered marriages, the system is wide open for abuse, and they can claim taxpayer-funded handouts, pretending to be single parents.So the clear law of the land is being broken, and ordinary law-abiding citizens are being forced to subsidise polygamy and sharia law in Australia. This must stop. The rorting of the system and the relentless creeping sharia are a recipe for disaster, and must be named and shamed by the authorities.In the case of child brides mentioned above, only a slap on the hand took place over that one – the Muslim cleric got a mere $500 fine before being sent back to Pakistan. It is time our leaders get serious about all these related problems: the abuse of the welfare system, polygamy, child brides, human trafficking and forced marriages.www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2762988/Strolling-park-London-businessman-THREE-wives-just-one-20-000-multi-wife-marriages-POLYGAMY-BRITAIN.html#ixzz3E6qawPIXwww.abc.net.au/compass/s287380.htmwww.smh.com.au/federal-politics/society-and-culture/why-should-polygamy-be-a-crime-20091002-gfdg.htmlwww.heraldsun.com.au/news/growing-number-of-muslim-men-and-multiple-wives-exploiting-loophoole-for-taxpayer-handouts/story-e6frf7jo-1225837150560www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/sharia-law-at-work-in-australia/story-fn59niix-1226097889992www.smh.com.au/nsw/father-of-child-bride-granted-bail-under-new-laws-20140623-zsizj.html[1487 words]
  • Why North Europeans Are the Happiest People
    What's to get upset about? Photographer: Jim Dyson/Getty Images By Leonid Bershidsky (Bloomberg view) Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark and Norway are the world's happiest countries, according to the 2015 World Happiness Report, which is put out by some influential economists. Three of these European states are not members of the European Union. What are they doing right that the rest of the world is doing wrong?Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, Richard Layard of the London School of Economics and John Helliwell of the University of British Columbia have been putting out these reports since 2012. They are intended to remind governments that success is about more than economic growth and other such statistics. Sure, people are happier when they're richer and healthier, as they tend to be in more developed countries, but there are other contributors to perceptions of well-being. That's what the reports measures: People in various countries are asked how they perceive various aspects of their lives.The report's authors say six variables account for three-quarters of the differences in happiness levels among countries: Gross domestic product per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity and freedom from corruption. Two of these -- social support and generosity -- are relatively independent of economic development or the political system, which explains why some relatively poor, institutionally weak countries have happier populations than the strongest Western democracies. For example, Mexicans are happier than Americans, Brazilians enjoy higher perceived well-being than the residents of rich, free Luxembourg, and Venezuelans like their life better than Singaporeans.A country is an all-around winner, however, when it's rich, healthy, free and populated with generous people who support one another when there's trouble. One has to wonder if Northern Europe's Law of Jante might not be responsible for the presence of Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden among the world's 10 happiest nations. Scandinavians may scoff at that creed, which makes individualism a crime, but it does make for unusually strong social support networks. That's how the authors explain Iceland's surprising resilience during an economic collapse, and its second place in the rankings. That country has the highest percentage in the world of people who say they have someone to count on in times of crisis.The report contains a chapter that stresses the role of "relational goods," such as reciprocity and simultaneity (which describes people taking part in meaningful activities together), in building happy nations. People are happier when they're socially fulfilled, perhaps as members of a group (both group membership and happiness levels are high in Scandinavia): The happiest countries are participatory. That goes for Switzerland with its direct democracy and tight-knit local communities, as well as for the Scandinavian countries, which, as Sachs wrote in his chapter of the report, have "perhaps the highest social capital in the world." Participation and deliberative democracy help to build mutual trust, an important part of social capital. People are more willing to pay taxes, less prone to corruption, and expansive social safety nets become the norm.This kind of social fabric, however, is finely woven and delicate. The happiest countries in the world have small populations (the biggest country in the top 10 is Canada, with 35 million people). Bringing countries together in a big bloc such as the EU doesn't help increase social capital. And when some countries in such a union do worse than others, their social fabric rips in a dramatic way, trust erodes and the decline in happiness becomes more pronounced than economic losses alone can explain. That's what happened in Greece, the biggest happiness loser compared with data for 2005-2007. Other big losers are Italy and Spain.One of the policy implications is that countries need to nourish their natural social fabric rather than seek to impose contrived rules that may have worked elsewhere. For Sachs and Layard, who both advised the economically ultraliberal Russian government after the Soviet Union's collapse, that appears a revisionist thought. Yet Sachs writes, reflecting perhaps on the largely failed Russian liberal experiment, or perhaps on Greece's disastrous post-bailout performance:If the legal rules that are promulgated "run counter" to the social rules and, more importantly, to the moral rules prevailing within that society, then the former will fail to produce the desired results, in that they will not be observed for the simple reason that not all infringers of such rules can be punished. Even worse, they will undermine the credibility and/or acceptability of the other two categories of rules, thus threatening the stability of the social order.No matter how much we may like big, ambitious programs, aiming for happiness may well mean thinking small and being careful with the fragile web of relationships that make human society function.To contact the author on this story:Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor on this story:Max Berley at mberley@bloomberg.net