Flood Of Desperate Refugees Tests Spaniards’ Tolerance

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Apr 25 2015

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Migrants wait to disembark at the Catania harbor in southern Italy on April 24. In recent weeks, hundreds of migrants leaving Libya have drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to European countries, including Italy, Spain and Greece.

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Migrants wait to disembark at the Catania harbor in southern Italy on April 24. In recent weeks, hundreds of migrants leaving Libya have drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to European countries, including Italy, Spain and Greece.

Migrants wait to disembark at the Catania harbor in southern Italy on April 24. In recent weeks, hundreds of migrants leaving Libya have drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to European countries, including Italy, Spain and Greece.

Alessandra Tarantino/AP

Pepe Guerrero is a doorman at a high-rise building in Malaga, on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. From his post he looks out at the turquoise blue waters — where hundreds of Arab and African migrants have drowned in recent weeks.

“They’re people — human beings like us,” he says. “Searching for a better life.”

But Guerrero says he’s divided. He says his heart goes out to those fleeing war and poverty, but he also worries about whether the local economy can absorb them. The jobless rate in the Andalusia region of southern Spain is 34 percent.

“It’s so high, the unemployment rate,” Guerrero says. “Spaniards themselves are migrating abroad because they can’t find work.”

Unlike northern Europeans, Spaniards have more experience with emigrating than receiving immigrants from abroad.

Spain is still relatively homogenous — white and Catholic. An economic boom in the early 2000s brought an influx of immigrants, mostly Latin Americans, to work in sectors like construction, but then the Spanish economy collapsed — and some began to see the newcomers as a burden on society.

It’s into this dynamic that desperate refugees are arriving by the thousands, often in rubber rafts. Malaga is about 100 miles north of the coast of Africa.

“They’ve been cheated by these traffickers,” says Guerrero, with a shrug. “I’m not sure what they expect to find here.”

He says he worries those immigrants could be cheated in Spain, too — or that they could cheat him and other Spaniards out of jobs.

Spain has no far-right anti-immigrant political party like the Northern League in Italy or Golden Dawn in Greece; Spain hasn’t had as many immigrants for that long. But that’s changing — both the number of immigrants and people’s attitudes toward them — which has experts worried.

“The economic crisis has worsened the view Spanish society has of these migrants,” says Alejandro Cortina, the director of Malaga Acoge — which means Malaga Welcome in English — an NGO that helps newly arrived immigrants. “[The economic crisis] creates fear and distorts the reality.”

To try to change that, Cortina’s group has launched a campaign called Stop Rumors — to challenge stereotypes of immigrants. NGO workers and volunteers give presentations in area schools to raise awareness of the plight of migrants trying to reach Spanish territory. The program is funded partly by the Spanish government, and partly by the European Union.

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High school kids make drawings of what immigration means to them as part of a Stop Rumors seminar run by Malaga Welcome, an NGO that works with newly arrived migrants and tries to change stereotypes about them. This student’s drawing is of migrants from Africa arriving on rafts on Spain’s coast.

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High school kids make drawings of what immigration means to them as part of a Stop Rumors seminar run by Malaga Welcome, an NGO that works with newly arrived migrants and tries to change stereotypes about them. This student's drawing is of migrants from Africa arriving on rafts on Spain's coast.

High school kids make drawings of what immigration means to them as part of a Stop Rumors seminar run by Malaga Welcome, an NGO that works with newly arrived migrants and tries to change stereotypes about them. This student’s drawing is of migrants from Africa arriving on rafts on Spain’s coast.

Lauren Frayer/NPR

In a high school in Torremolinos, a suburb of Malaga, Stop Rumors volunteers start by asking kids to draw a picture of what immigration means to them.

“I think the drawing is a good way to make them think about their stereotypes,” says Juan Alberto Ruiz Casado, who volunteers with the group. “Mainly we saw boats crossing from Africa to Spain. Very few people draw, like, airplanes.”

But more than 60 percent of immigrants come to Spain by airplane, not rubber raft, and most are from Eastern Europe or Latin America. They find work and pay taxes, and government data show they use Spain’s public health system less, on average, than native Spaniards. But a different, negative stereotype persists.

“I think some people are scared. Like, when you see a big Moroccan guy or a big African guy, usually you think: ‘I’m going to cross the street. I don’t want to walk in the same street. Maybe he jumps me, attacks me, robs me,’ ” says Kunal Keswani, a 16-year-old student attending the Stop Rumors seminar. “People have that concept of them — and not just a small percentage of people. It’s a big percentage actually — many people are racist.”

Keswani himself was born in Spain to immigrant parents.

“My parents are from India — they came here looking for a job. I grew up here,” he explains, adding that he has felt discrimination himself. “But yeah, if would have had darker skin I think it would be way worse.”

Until now, the Spanish government’s policy toward migrants has been to try to stop them from coming — by fortifying its borders, especially at two North African enclaves, where tens of thousands of migrants try to jump fences into Europe each year.

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Juan Alberto Ruiz Casado speaks to high school students in Spain’s Malaga province about challenging stereotypes of immigrants. Here he explains how most immigrants arrive in Spain by airplane — not by rubber raft.

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Juan Alberto Ruiz Casado speaks to high school students in Spain's Malaga province about challenging stereotypes of immigrants. Here he explains how most immigrants arrive in Spain by airplane  not by rubber raft.

Juan Alberto Ruiz Casado speaks to high school students in Spain’s Malaga province about challenging stereotypes of immigrants. Here he explains how most immigrants arrive in Spain by airplane — not by rubber raft.

Lauren Frayer/NPR

If migrants do manage to get here, the government houses them in prison-like facilities — which creates a stigma, says Cortina, the NGO director.

“It’s all about militarizing the borders and stripping away migrants’ rights,” Cortina says of Spanish government policy.

Spain has spent more than $270 million fortifying its borders in the past five years. At a meeting Thursday in Brussels, European leaders announced they would triple their funding for maritime missions in the Mediterranean.

But Cortina says the money would be better spent resettling refugees and helping them assimilate. His budget is just $3 million over five years.

“You know how many lives I could save and improve, with that money?” Cortina asks. “If I only had the budget they use to put up fences — we could really change things.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2015/04/25/402035778/flood-of-desperate-refugees-tests-spaniards-tolerance?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Powerful Quake Hits Nepal; Death Toll Rising

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Apr 25 2015

An estimated 7.8-magnitude earthquake shook Nepal on Saturday. It’s being described as the strongest quake to hit the country in 81 years. NPR’s Scott Simon talks to Red Cross spokesman Mark South.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/04/25/402159988/powerful-quake-hits-nepal-death-toll-rising?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Nearly 1,000 Dead In Powerful Earthquake In Nepal

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Apr 25 2015






Updated at 9:55 a.m. ET

A powerful magnitude 7.8 earthquake has struck Nepal near the capital Kathmandu today, killing at least 876 people there as well as dozens in three neighboring countries as it leveled houses and temples and triggered avalanches on Mount Everest at the peak of the climbing season there.

Authorities feared the death toll was likely to go up — perhaps dramatically — as more information comes in from remote and isolated parts of the region. The Associated Press says that the earthquake “shook several cities across northern India, and was felt as far away as Lahore in Pakistan, Lhasa in Tibet, and in Dhaka, Bangladesh.” Kathmandu’s international airport was shut down following the temblor, the news agency says.

“We need support from the various international agencies which are more knowledgeable and equipped to handle the kind of emergency we face now,” Nepal’s Information Minister Minendra Rijal was quoted by the BBC as saying.

It is the worst quake to hit the South Asian nation since 1934, when a massive one all but destroyed Kathmandu.

In today’s temblor, Deputy Inspector General of Police Komal Singh Ban said at least 876 are confirmed dead in Nepal and that the toll is expected to rise. Dozens were also confirmed dead in neighboring India, the Tibet region of China and Bangladesh, according to the AP.

In Kathmandu, people described panic and ruin amid collapsed buildings. The Associated Press quotes Pushpa Das, a laborer, as saying he ran from his house when the first quake struck but could not escape a collapsing wall that injured his arm.

“It was very scary. The earth was moving … I am waiting for treatment but the (hospital) staff is overwhelmed,” he told AP.

NPR’s Julie McCarthy, reporting from India, says it sent workers in offices running into the streets there. India is sending planeloads of supplies and personnel to assist Nepal to assist in rescue and relief efforts.

The quake, with its epicenter near Lamjung, about 70 miles northwest of the capital, struck just before noon local time and was followed by about 20 aftershocks, one as strong as magnitude 6.6, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

A senior mountaineering guide, Ang Tshering, was quoted by the AP as saying an avalanche swept the face of Mount Everest after the earthquake.

Gyanendra Shretha, an official with Nepal’s mountaineering department, said eight bodies had been recovered from the base camp. Earlier, a Nepali official said 30 people had been hurt on the mountain.

This is a breaking news story and we will update this post as new information becomes available.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/04/25/402160910/7-8-quake-hits-nepal-toppling-buildings-killing-at-least-138?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

A Century After Atrocities Against Armenians, An Unresolved Wound

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Apr 24 2015

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Armenians were massacred by forces of the Ottoman Empire in 1915. In this instance, the heads of the victims were placed on stakes.

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Armenians were massacred by forces of the Ottoman Empire in 1915. In this instance, the heads of the victims were placed on stakes.

Armenians were massacred by forces of the Ottoman Empire in 1915. In this instance, the heads of the victims were placed on stakes.

AP

This much is known: Up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed or deported in the violence unleashed by Ottoman Turks starting on April 24, 1915. But as the 100th anniversary of these events is marked on Friday, it remains a bitter source of contention between Turks and Armenians.

Armenians, along with many historians and European countries, have called it the 20th century’s first genocide. Turkey suppressed accounts of the killings for decades, and to this day staunchly rejects the label of genocide.

Modern Turkey, which emerged following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, still reacts sharply to countries that say a genocide took place. It recalled its envoy from the Vatican after Pope Francis used the term last Sunday and did the same in Austria after lawmakers spoke the word.

The U.S. government does not call the events a genocide and neither does Israel. In both countries, this position appears based in part, if not mostly, on a desire not to offend Turkey.

So what exactly happened in 1915? Here’s a look:

The Background

The Ottoman Empire once covered parts of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East and was home to Turks, Kurds, Armenians and many others. But by the start of World War I in 1914, it was crumbling. A few years earlier, a group of young army officers — named the Young Turks — seized power. And in WWI, they sided with the Central Powers — Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire — against the Allied Powers, Britain, France and Russia.

Historian Eugene Rogan, author of The Fall Of The Ottomans, tells NPR’s Steve Inskeep the Ottomans crossed into Russia thinking they might be able to strike a blow. Instead, they lost. There had been massacres of Armenians in the past, but with the loss to the Russians, he says, the Ottomans began to question the loyalties of the Armenians.

He adds: “What happened was a small number of [Armenian] militants who did cross over to the Russian side, who did actively try and recruit Armenians to support the Russian cause, made life extremely dangerous for the majority of Armenian civilians who basically had no fight with anyone, did not wish to be drawn into any war and found themselves under tremendous pressure; soldiers who, suspected by their Turkish comrades, begin to get shot down.”

The Ottomans’ ruling Committee of Union and Progress and government officials planned to forcibly relocate the Armenians from Anatolia, where they lived, bordering Russia, to the Arab parts of the empire, where they were deemed to be less of a threat. But, Rogan adds, the plans for the Armenians went beyond those that were written down. He adds:

“It was through testimony presented in trials the Ottomans convened after the war that we now know that the Committee of Union and Progress agreed to give, orally, orders for the extermination of Armenians: that men and women would be separated at the moment of departing their villages, that the men would be massacred and that the women would be marched under conditions in which only a fraction of them would survive.

“And the theory that most Turkish scholars of the genocide are putting forward was that the Ottoman plan was to reduce the demographic profile of the Armenians so that they would not exceed 5 to 10 percent in any given province. It wasn’t … to try and eliminate the Armenians in their entirety, but it was to make sure that the Armenians would never constitute a critical mass to seek separation for the Ottoman Empire as an independent Armenian state.”

Earlier Violence Against Armenians

Armenians in the Ottoman Empire were targeted even in the 19th century, but historians don’t call those events a genocide. The reason, writer Peter Balakian tells NPR’s Robert Siegel, was that the earlier killings were “putative — they were punishments for Armenian progressive reform movement. They weren’t designed to exterminate the entire population or rid the Ottoman Empire of its Armenian population, but they begin a very important process of devaluing and dehumanizing this ethnic minority group.”

Here’s what he says was different about the events of 1915:

“I think that the Ottoman government’s final solution for the Armenian people of Turkey represented a shift in organized, state-planned mass killing. The Ottoman government was able to expedite its mass killing of a targeted minority population in a concentrated period of time. So it’s important to realize that the Ottoman government murdered more than a million Armenians between 1915 and 1916 alone — perhaps 1.2 million is the number you come to by the end of the summer of 1916.”

The U.S. View

The U.S., a close ally of Turkey, does not call the events a genocide. The White House, in a statement this week, described it as an atrocity, a long-held position. But the Armenian community in the U.S. has long lobbied for the events to be recognized as a genocide.

The New York Times, in its reporting at the time, noted in a sub-headline: “More Atrocities Detailed in Support of Charge That Turkey is Acting Deliberately.” Henry Morgenthau, the U.S. ambassador to the Ottomans at the time, also supported that view in his memoirs, as did other Americans and Westerners.

The word genocide was not coined until 1944 by Raphael Lemkin, a Polish lawyer who combined the Greek word “genos,” meaning race or family, with the Latin word “-cidere,” for killing, to describe the events of the Holocaust.

As a teenager, he was drawn to the story of what happened to the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire after reading about a survivor of the atrocities. And in interviews in the 1940s he described the events as the Armenian genocide.

The Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, which describes the events as a genocide, says Lemkin’s “early exposure to the history of Ottoman attacks against Armenians, anti-Semitic pogroms, and other cases of targeted violence as key to his beliefs about the need for the protection of groups under international law. Inspired by the murder of his own family during the Holocaust, Lemkin tirelessly championed this legal concept until it was codified in the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1948.”

Turkey rejects the notion that a genocide was perpetrated against the Armenians, though its leaders have expressed regret for what happened at the time. Many Turks say there was no systematic plan to kill Armenians; admitting an Armenian genocide is seen as insulting Turkey, a crime under the country’s law.

Related NPR Stories

Turks And Armenians Prepare For Dueling Anniversaries On Friday

Last Armenian Village In Turkey Keeps Silent About 1915 Slaughter

Author Explores Armenian Genocide ‘Obsession’ And Turkish Denial

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/04/24/401791172/a-century-after-atrocities-against-armenians-an-unresolved-wound?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Armenians Mark A Century Since World War I Massacre

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Apr 24 2015

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Catholicos Karekin II (R, front), the supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin walk to attend a commemoration ceremony marking the centenary of the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in Yerevan, Armenia.

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Catholicos Karekin II (R, front), the supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and Russia's President Vladimir Putin walk to attend a commemoration ceremony marking the centenary of the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in Yerevan, Armenia.

Catholicos Karekin II (R, front), the supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin walk to attend a commemoration ceremony marking the centenary of the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in Yerevan, Armenia.

RIA Novosti/Reuters/Landov

European leaders attended a ceremony marking the centenary of the massacre of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I, as German lawmakers risked triggering a diplomatic row with Turkey by voting to acknowledge the historical event as “genocide” –- a charge Ankara has strongly denied.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Francois Hollande were among those gathered today in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, at the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial to mark the day generally regarded as the start of the massacre, carried out by Ottoman officials who feared that Armenian Christians would side with their enemy, Russia, during World War I.

“We will never forget the tragedy that your people went through,” Hollande said.

(For a history of the issue, NPR’s Krishnadev Calamur has a primer here.)

The vote by the German parliament “marks a significant change of stance for Germany, Turkey’s biggest trade partner in the European Union and home to a large ethnic Turkish diaspora. Unlike France and some two dozen other countries, Berlin has long resisted using the word,” according to Reuters.

The Associated Press notes that France “is home to a sizeable Armenian community. Among the French Armenians at Yerevan was 90-year old singer Charles Aznavour who was born in Paris to a family of massacre survivors.”

Most historians regard the events a century ago as genocide, but Turkey has vociferously rejected that label, arguing that the death toll has been exaggerated and that most of the victims died during unrest and civil war.

On the eve of the anniversary, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan again denied that the event constituted genocide. Earlier this month, Ankara froze relations with the Vatican after Pope Francis publicly referred to the Armenian “genocide.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/04/24/401930635/armenians-mark-a-century-since-world-war-i-massacre?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Alleged Skipper Of Migrant Boat Appears In Italian Court

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Apr 24 2015

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Mohammed Ali Malek is seen at Catania’s tribunal, on Friday. Italian prosecutors blamed the captain of a grossly overloaded fishing boat for a collision which capsized and sank his vessel off Libya, drowning hundreds of migrants.

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Mohammed Ali Malek is seen at Catania's tribunal, on Friday. Italian prosecutors blamed the captain of a grossly overloaded fishing boat for a collision which capsized and sank his vessel off Libya, drowning hundreds of migrants.

Mohammed Ali Malek is seen at Catania’s tribunal, on Friday. Italian prosecutors blamed the captain of a grossly overloaded fishing boat for a collision which capsized and sank his vessel off Libya, drowning hundreds of migrants.

Antonio Parrinello/Reuters/Landov

The man who authorities say captained a boat carrying migrants from Libya that capsized in the Mediterranean killing more than 700 has appeared appeared in an Italian court to face possible charges of homicide and human trafficking.

An attorney for Mohammed Ali Malek, 27, from Tunisia, says that his client was a passenger – not skipper – of the overloaded fishing boat that reportedly collided with a merchant ship and then capsized. Hundreds of migrants were allegedly locked below deck and unable to escape when the boat sank.

“He says he’s a migrant like all the others and he paid his fare to go on the boat,” his lawyer, Massimo Ferrante, said outside the courtroom in Catania, Sicily.

Reuters reports that a 25-year-old Syrian, who prosecutors believe was a crew member himself, but who claims to have been only a passenger, has accused Malek of being in charge of the vessel.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/04/24/401943343/alleged-skipper-of-migrant-boat-appears-in-italian-court?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

EU Leaders Close To Agreement To Deal With Influx Of Migrants

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Apr 23 2015

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In this photo made available Thursday, April 23, 2015, migrants crowd and inflatable dinghy as the Italian Coast Guard approaches them, off the Libyan coast, on Wednesday.

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In this photo made available Thursday, April 23, 2015, migrants crowd and inflatable dinghy as the Italian Coast Guard approaches them, off the Libyan coast, on Wednesday.

In this photo made available Thursday, April 23, 2015, migrants crowd and inflatable dinghy as the Italian Coast Guard approaches them, off the Libyan coast, on Wednesday.

Alessandro Di Meo/AP

The European Union appears close to agreement to step up efforts to rescue migrants trying to reach EU countries by crossing the Mediterranean and to capture or destroy human traffickers’ vessels, a move that comes days after as many as 900 drowned in a capsize off the Libyan coast.

The Associated Press reports that a draft statement among leaders of the 28 EU nations would “increase search and rescue possibilities” and “undertake systematic efforts to identify, capture and destroy” traffickers’ vessels before they are used in human smuggling.

“We will take action now. Europe is declaring war on smugglers,” the EU’s top migration official, Dimitris Avramopoulos, was quoted by the AP as saying in Malta, where he was attending the funeral of 24 migrants whose bodies were recovered after Sunday’s tragedy.

AP says the draft statement also said the EU wants to “set up a first voluntary pilot project on resettlement,” with at least 5,000 places for people qualifying for protection.

The BBC reports that Libya is high on the meeting’s agenda, because 90 percent of would-be migrants depart from there — most heading for the Iltalian island of Lampedusa, the closest EU territory to Libya.

With the self-declared Islamic State now reportedly operating in Libya, the EU
“fears [ISIS] could pose a huge security risk for Europe. In the past, it has explicitly threatened Italy,” the BBC says.

As The Two-Way’s Bill Chappell reported earlier this week, the EU called an emergency meeting after the latest disaster involving would-be migrants. It comes nearly two years after a similar sinking prompted calls for a re-evaluation of EU immigration policies. However, such incidents have become routine in the past few years, as migrants from Africa and the Middle East become increasingly desperate to reach Europe.

“With the best will in the world, these issues are not solvable,” a senior diplomat at the EU meeting in Brussels was quoted by Reuters as saying. “We can only limit the damage.”

The diplomat noted that the yawning gap in living standards between the north and south sides of the Mediterranean was the problem.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/04/23/401711615/eu-leaders-close-to-agreement-to-deal-with-influx-of-migrants?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

U.S. Operations Killed Two Hostages Held By Al-Qaida, Including American

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Apr 23 2015

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President Obama expresses his condolences today to the families of the American and Italian aid workers killed in a U.S. counterterrorism operation in January.

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President Obama expresses his condolences today to the families of the American and Italian aid workers killed in a U.S. counterterrorism operation in January.

President Obama expresses his condolences today to the families of the American and Italian aid workers killed in a U.S. counterterrorism operation in January.

Susan Walsh/AP

Updated at 10:23 a.m. ET

President Obama offered his “grief and condolences” to the families of the American and Italian aid workers killed in a U.S. counterterrorism operation in January. Both men were held hostage by al-Qaida.

“I take full responsibility for a U.S. government counterterrorism operation that killed two innocent hostages held by al-Qaida,” Obama said.

He said both Warren Weinstein, an American held by the group since 2011, and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian national held since 2012, were “devoted to improving the lives of the Pakistani people.”

Earlier today, the White House in a statement announced the two deaths, along with the killings of two American al-Qaida members.

“Analysis of all available information has led the Intelligence Community to judge with high confidence that the operation accidentally killed both hostages,” the White House statement said. “The operation targeted an al-Qa’ida-associated compound, where we had no reason to believe either hostage was present, located in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan. No words can fully express our regret over this terrible tragedy.”

The statement did not specify the nature of the operation, but The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed senior Obama administration officials, said the deaths were from a drone strike.

The statement added that Ahmed Farouq, an American al-Qaida leader, was killed in the same operation. It also said Adam Gadahn, another American al-Qaida leader, was killed likely in a different operation the same month.

“While both Farouq and Gadahn were al-Qa’ida members, neither was specifically targeted, and we did not have information indicating their presence at the sites of these operations,” the statement said.

It added:

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Adam Gadahn is an American who grew up in Southern California, converted to Islam and joined al-Qaida. The White House says he was killed in a counterterrorism operation in January.

IntelCenter via AP


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Adam Gadahn is an American who grew up in Southern California, converted to Islam and joined al-Qaida. The White House says he was killed in a counterterrorism operation in January.

Adam Gadahn is an American who grew up in Southern California, converted to Islam and joined al-Qaida. The White House says he was killed in a counterterrorism operation in January.

IntelCenter via AP

“The President directed that the information being shared today, which was properly classified until now, be declassified and shared with the American people. He takes full responsibility for these operations and believes it is important to provide the American people with as much information as possible about our counterterrorism operations, particularly when they take the lives of fellow citizens. The uniquely tragic nature of the operation that resulted in the deaths of two innocent hostages is something we will do our utmost to ensure is not repeated. To this end, although the operation was lawful and conducted consistent with our counterterrorism policies, we are conducting a thorough independent review to understand fully what happened and how we can prevent this type of tragic incident in the future. “

As we have previously reported, Weinstein was a development worker and Peace Corps veteran who was kidnapped in 2011 from his home in Pakistan. In a video released in December 2013, he was seen asking President Obama to “to instruct your appropriate officials to negotiate my release.”

Lo Porto, as the Guardian newspaper reported in a profile in 2013, traveled to Pakistan’s Punjab province start a new job as an aid worker. But he was kidnapped soon after his arrival.

Gadahn, as NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston reported in 2010, joined al-Qaida in the late 1990s. He was a New Mexico native of Yemeni descent. Here’s more from her profile of him:

“He grew up on a goat farm in Southern California. His parents were hippies. He was home-schooled, big into death metal rock, and eventually found Islam.

“Haitham Bundakji was a witness to Gadahn’s conversion at the Islamic Society of Orange County in the late 1990s. He was also a witness to Gadahn’s radicalization a short time later. ‘It didn’t take long before he had started spending time with the wrong kind of people at the mosque,’ Bundakji says. There were a handful of angry, particularly devout Muslims at the mosque who immediately befriended Gadahn. ‘He came to the mosque by himself and he didn’t have family who were Muslim, so he was all alone.’”

“Gadahn spent most of his days hanging around the Islamic center. He performed the five daily prayers there. He found odd jobs to do. Bundakji says these young men, a bit older than Gadahn — in their 20s and 30s — took advantage of the new convert. They turned Gadahn against Bundakji, whom they saw as too progressive.”

“Bundakji says that back in 1997, Gadahn actually attacked him. Gadahn was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault. He pleaded guilty and Bundakji barred him from the mosque for a time. By 1998, Gadahn and the other young men in his clique had drifted away from the mosque. A short time later, he left the U.S. and went to an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/04/23/401714713/u-s-operations-killed-two-hostages-held-by-al-qaida-including-american?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Feeling Blue? Share A Laugh With Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Apr 23 2015

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Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter Mpho bust some moves at the 2015 Skoll World Forum.

Courtesy of Skoll Foundation


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Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter Mpho bust some moves at the 2015 Skoll World Forum.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter Mpho bust some moves at the 2015 Skoll World Forum.

Courtesy of Skoll Foundation

The term “living legend” is tossed around so much that it really doesn’t have much sway.

But when I had the privilege of hearing Archbishop Desmond Tutu speak at the Skoll World Forum in Oxford, England, last week, I knew I was in the presence of … a living legend. Dressed in a dark suit, white cleric’s collar and purple sweater, with a large shining silver cross around his neck, Tutu radiated goodness and good humor from the moment he came onstage.

And yet, as he answered questions posed by a moderator, he didn’t issue legendary proclamations. Rather, he is a master of the simple yet inspiring comment.

He began by playing with the audience. The moderator asked a complex question about faith: Is it fluid or solid?

Before answering, Tutu made a few personal remarks.

Then he said, “What was your question?”

Listen to Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s infectious laughter.

Was he owning up to the frailties of age? He is, after all, 83. Or was he simply having a little fun at the expense of the moderator?

As Tutu spoke, it was evident that he is as sharp as ever. And that his faith is rock solid.

“I grew up in a society that told black people they didn’t count for very much,” he said. But he took inspiration from his mother: “She was stumpy and had a large nose but she was amazing in her generosity, her compassion, her caringness,” he said. He noted with mock dismay that there is a family resemblance, but her legacy was clearly about inner appearances. “I hope I might be able to emulate her,” he said humbly.

One memory of his mother is especially important to him. He recalls the day when, as a young boy, he saw a white priest doff his hat to his mother: “It made me believe what we kept being told: that we were all equal.”

One of Tutu’s four children, the Reverend Mpho A. Tutu, joined him onstage. Warm and wise, she is definitely her father’s daughter.

Resplendent in a brightly patterned turban and tunic, orange slacks and strappy high heels, she explained, “I didn’t want young people in the congregation to think if you want to be a priest you have to look [a certain way], that there’s no place for me in the ordained ministry.” So she dresses in all the colors of the rainbow and then some.

Mpho Tutu also has her dad’s sly sense of humor.

The moderator asked her how she felt being raised by such great parents. With the crack timing of a stand-up comic, she shot back: “I have to agree with you. My mom is one of the most extraordinary women on the planet.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2015/04/23/401013918/feeling-blue-share-a-laugh-with-archbishop-desmond-tutu?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Wilding? Ruff Ride? Dog’s Road Romp On Tractor Sparks Puns

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Apr 22 2015

As soon as the news broke, Traffic Scotland took pains to say it was a serious event, not a joke. But that didn’t stop people from putting their own spin on the story of the border collie who took control of a small tractor — which then drove onto a highway Wednesday.

Traffic Scotland announced a disruption to the morning commute on the M74 highway, “due to dog taking control of tractor… nope, not joking.” Saying that a farmer and police were at the scene, the agency added, “#maycausetailbacks” — using the term for long lines.

The dog lives on a sheep farm near the main highway southeast of Glasgow, near Abington. Farmer Tom Hamilton tells Scotland’s STV, “I had not put the brake on the tractor and when I turned round I got a fright as the vehicle was careering down the hill, through a gate and onto the M74.”

“The dog was unhurt after reportedly leaning on the controls of the tractor, taking it from a field on to the road,” the BBC reports.

“Don was fine and did not bark during the incident,” Hamilton tells STV.

On Twitter, people chimed in with a variety of jokes playing on whether the police had any “leads” in the case. Some said the story was “barking mad” — and an Edinburgh man said, “Ruff morning then…”

Traffic Scotland later tweeted a photo of Don the dog; it also admitted that the incident “has to be the weirdest thing we have ever reported!”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/04/22/401447087/wilding-ruff-ride-dog-s-road-romp-on-tractor-sparks-the-puns?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world