Posts Tagged ‘About Israel grossman’

National Guardsman, Cousin Arrested For Trying To Join Islamic State

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 27 2015



ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

There’s been another arrest in the U.S. linked to the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIS. The case involves a member of the Illinois National Guard and his cousin. According to a criminal complaint, one of the men wanted to go to Syria to become a martyr for ISIS. The other allegedly planned to carry out attacks here in the U.S. NPR counterterrorism correspondent Dina Temple-Raston joins me now. And Dina, what can you tell us about these two men?

DINA TEMPLE-RASTON, BYLINE: Well, the FBI arrested National Guard Army specialist Hasan Edmonds at Midway Airport in Chicago yesterday. Officials say he was trying to fly to Egypt to join ISIS in Syria or Iraq and his cousin, Jonas Edmonds, was arrested at his home in Aurora, Ill., which is just outside of Chicago. What makes this case troubling is that this was a member of the National Guard caught trying to fly overseas to join ISIS. And his cousin allegedly was going to stay behind and conduct attacks against military installations near Chicago.

SIEGEL: And how did these two men come to the attention of U.S. law enforcement?

TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, Hasan Edmonds, the 22-year-old National Guardsman, first came onto the FBI’s radar screen late last year. Allegedly, he’d been watching ISIS videos online and according to the criminal complaint, the FBI had an undercover agent send Edmonds a friend request over Facebook. He responded to it and they struck up a correspondence. In one message, Edmonds allegedly wrote that now that the state – meaning the ISIS caliphate – had been established, that it was the duty of Muslims to heed that call. He said he had spent three years in the Army. He called it a non-believer’s army and he said he had no intention of finishing the three more years he was supposed to serve.

SIEGEL: This is Hasan Edmonds, the one who’s a member of the Illinois National Guard. How did his cousin get involved and what does the government say he did?

TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, Hasan Edmonds allegedly said in these emails to the undercover agent that his cousin had first brought ISIS to his attention and that they both wanted to go to Syria, and in fact, his cousin wanted to bring his wife and five children with them but he said he couldn’t really afford it. And that cousin, Jonas Edmonds, also had a felony conviction in Georgia, which made it a little bit more difficult for him to get a passport. So he allegedly wrote to the FBI informant that if he could not go to Syria he wanted to attack here.

SIEGEL: Is there a sense that he actually could’ve done that?

TEMPLE-RASTON: Yes, exactly because of the National Guard connection that he had. I mean, they allegedly decided that the cousin would use Hasan Edmonds’s military uniform to get on a local military base and attack. And they said they’d use AK-47s and grenades, and according to the charging documents, they talked about a body count as high as 150. So if that’s true, that raises the level of this case from someone who just wanted to go to Syria to someone who, with a gun, could realistically attack here. I mean, the worst terrorist case we’ve had in the U.S. since 9/11 was the Fort Hood, Texas shootings in 2009 and that was when a U.S. Army major named Nidal Hasan opened fire in a readiness center at Fort Hood and killed 13 people and wounded 29 others. So, that’s why this was of concern.

SIEGEL: Dina, this of course is what the government alleges. Has there been any comment from any lawyer for either of these men, either acknowledging or denying these charges?

TEMPLE-RASTON: Not yet. They were scheduled to be in court but there has not been any sort of plea entered.

SIEGEL: OK. Thank you very much.

TEMPLE-RASTON: You’re welcome.

SIEGEL: That’s NPR counterterrorism correspondent Dina Temple-Raston.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/03/26/395604536/national-guardsman-cousin-arrested-for-trying-to-join-islamic-state?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Her Instagram Feed Finds The Fun In Long-Suffering Somalia

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 27 2015

When the Tax Return comes and hooyo stunts on you like “Yes bish, may we help you?”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2015/03/27/393823519/her-instagram-feed-finds-the-fun-in-long-suffering-somalia?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Was Your Seafood Caught By Slaves? AP Uncovers Unsavory Trade

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 27 2015

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Workers in Benjina, Indonesia, load fish into a cargo ship bound for Thailand last November. Seafood caught by slaves mixes in with other fish at a number of sites in Thailand, including processing plants. U.S. customs records show that several of those Thai factories ship to the United States.

Dita Alangkara/AP


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Workers in Benjina, Indonesia, load fish into a cargo ship bound for Thailand last November. Seafood caught by slaves mixes in with other fish at a number of sites in Thailand, including processing plants. U.S. customs records show that several of those Thai factories ship to the United States.

Workers in Benjina, Indonesia, load fish into a cargo ship bound for Thailand last November. Seafood caught by slaves mixes in with other fish at a number of sites in Thailand, including processing plants. U.S. customs records show that several of those Thai factories ship to the United States.

Dita Alangkara/AP

Some of the seafood that winds up in American grocery stores, in restaurants, even in cat food, may have been caught by Burmese slaves. That’s the conclusion of a year-long investigation by the Associated Press.

The AP discovered and interviewed dozens of men being held against their will on Benjina, a remote Indonesian island, which serves as the base for a trawler fleet that fishes in the area.

AP correspondent Martha Mendoza was one of the lead reporters for the investigation. The men AP found unloading seafood in Benjina were mostly from Myanmar, also known as Burma. When they realized one of the AP reporters spoke Burmese, “they began calling out, asking for help, and explaining that they were trapped and that they were being beaten and that they were enslaved,” Mendoza tells NPR’s Renee Montagne.

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Thai and Burmese fishing boat workers sit behind bars inside a cell at the compound of a fishing company in Benjina, Indonesia. The imprisoned men were considered slaves who might run away. They said they lived on a few bites of rice and curry a day in a space barely big enough to lie down, stuck until the next trawler forces them back to sea.

Dita Alangkara/AP


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Thai and Burmese fishing boat workers sit behind bars inside a cell at the compound of a fishing company in Benjina, Indonesia. The imprisoned men were considered slaves who might run away. They said they lived on a few bites of rice and curry a day in a space barely big enough to lie down, stuck until the next trawler forces them back to sea.

Thai and Burmese fishing boat workers sit behind bars inside a cell at the compound of a fishing company in Benjina, Indonesia. The imprisoned men were considered slaves who might run away. They said they lived on a few bites of rice and curry a day in a space barely big enough to lie down, stuck until the next trawler forces them back to sea.

Dita Alangkara/AP

When the reporter went onto the island, she found men held in a cage so that they wouldn’t run away. “They were trapped. They had no way to go home, they had not heard from their family in 5, 10 years. They were in a desperate situation,” Mendoza says.

How did the men wind up in this modern-day form of slavery? In some cases, they were lured by promises of a job by brokers in Burma, Mendoza says. The men had pledged to pay the brokers a fee for finding them the job, but when they arrived, they found out the work was in fishing, which they hadn’t signed up for, she says. “And they were obliged to not only pay back the broker fee, but now they’re being told they must pay for food and shelter as they work 22-hour days. The debt becomes bottomless.”

Others were kidnapped and forced to work. Still others signed up for the fishing work but decided it was not for them “because they weren’t getting paid and it was a terrible situation,” she says.

After the AP reporters made this discovery, they began tracking where the seafood went. They watched the seafood get loaded into a cargo ship called the Silver Sea Lion, then used GPS to track it to a port in Thailand.

“We followed as many as we could to the processing plants,” Mendoza says. Literally. The seafood was offloaded into some 150 trucks. The reporters — in cars — followed as many of those trucks as they could, taking notes, shooting video and jotting down the names of the plants where the seafood was delivered.

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A 3,000-ton cargo ship, at Thajeen Port in Samut Sakhon, Thailand, 15 days after it set sail from Benjina, Indonesia. The company that owns the ship said it is not involved with the fishermen. “We only carry the shipment and we are hired, in general, by clients,” said owner Panya Luangsomboon. “We’re separated from the fishing boats.”

Wong Maye-E/AP


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Wong Maye-E/AP

A 3,000-ton cargo ship, at Thajeen Port in Samut Sakhon, Thailand, 15 days after it set sail from Benjina, Indonesia. The company that owns the ship said it is not involved with the fishermen. We only carry the shipment and we are hired, in general, by clients, said owner Panya Luangsomboon. We're separated from the fishing boats.

A 3,000-ton cargo ship, at Thajeen Port in Samut Sakhon, Thailand, 15 days after it set sail from Benjina, Indonesia. The company that owns the ship said it is not involved with the fishermen. “We only carry the shipment and we are hired, in general, by clients,” said owner Panya Luangsomboon. “We’re separated from the fishing boats.”

Wong Maye-E/AP

Then AP dug into customs records “to see which of those companies was shipping seafood into the United States, on what date, under what label,” Mendoza says.

Those labels included Iams, Meow Mix, Fancy Feast, and other types of cat food shipped to the U.S. “And the distributors in the United States who are receiving some of the seafood from these factories also sell to Wal-Mart, Kroger, Albertson’s, Safeway and others,” Mendoza says.

The response from cat-food makers, grocers, fish sellers and others in the U.S. has “really been remarkable,” she says, from “the National Fisheries Institute on down.”

They’ve “all said that they appreciate the information that we brought to them and that they want to do something about this,” Mendoza says. “Nobody denied what we found. Everybody wanted more information.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2015/03/27/395589154/was-your-seafood-caught-by-slaves-ap-uncovers-unsavory-trade?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

German Town Grieves For Residents Lost In French Alps Crash

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 26 2015



AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The remains of the 150 passengers and crew who were on that Germanwings flight could take weeks to cover. That’s only compounding the grief for many family members and friends. NPR’s Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson spent the day in the German town struggling to cope with the loss of sixteen 10th-graders and two teachers.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: One of the places the 38,000 residents of Haltern am See go to make sense of the tragedy is this Catholic church in the main market square. Every minute or so, someone arrives to pray and light a candle, scores of which already illuminate the main altar like a campfire. They, like others in this pretty lakeside town, are in some way linked to the teens and their teachers who were returning from a weeklong exchange visit to a partner school outside Barcelona.

(Speaking German).

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Speaking German).

NELSON: I ask this taxi driver about his town’s close-knit atmosphere. He confirms my observation. His niece was in the same class as the teens who were on the plane. She chose not to go on the field trip at the last minute because her horse was sick, but he says she lost her two best friends in the crash. Not far from the high school, Sarah Mende is walking her dog. The 18-year-old says one of her close friends died in the crash and her younger sister lost her teacher.

SARAH MENDE: Well, it’s really hard for us right now ’cause we don’t know how to feel, and you see those empty faces and all sad faces, and you don’t even know what to say.

NELSON: She says it helps somewhat that area schools are providing grief counselors. Each school also memorialized those lost with a minute of silence earlier today.

MENDE: I would say it’s kind of bittersweet though because all the supporters really – well, they try to help, but they don’t really know how to. And we don’t even know how to feel, so it’s really hard for us to even say things.

NELSON: But as confused as residents are about how best to deal with their loss, they’ve made it clear they don’t want the media interfering. Before yesterday, the only thing widely known about this 800-year-old town on the edge of western Germany’s rust belt was that it was the birthplace of a couple of famous soccer players.

Only a few residents and officials here agreed to be interviewed by the hundreds of journalists who have descended on Haltern am See since the crash. Those who do talk, refuse to identify any of those who died. But the high school’s visibly shaken principal, Ulrich Wessel, shares a few details about the two teachers who are lost. He spoke at a press conference.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

ULRICH WESSEL: (Speaking German).

NELSON: “It’s difficult for me, in this situation, to tell you about these two young female colleagues,” he says. “One just got married last October. The other was engaged. This shows how major life plans evaporate in an instant.”

Hundreds of students placed flowers, candles and notes outside the high school to remember their lost classmates and teachers. A large cardboard sign describes their feelings. It says, yesterday we were many – today we are alone. Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR News, in Haltern am See, Germany.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/03/25/395355103/german-town-grieves-for-residents-lost-in-french-alps-crash?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

In Havana, A Journey Into The Forbidden With A Provocative Artist

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 26 2015

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Cuban artist Tania Bruguera poses for a photograph near the statue of José Martí in Havana’s Revolution Plaza. She was arrested in December for planning a political performance there.

Eyder Peralta/NPR


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Cuban artist Tania Bruguera poses for a photograph near the statue of Jos Mart in Havana's Revolution Plaza. She was arrested in December for planning a political performance there.

Cuban artist Tania Bruguera poses for a photograph near the statue of José Martí in Havana’s Revolution Plaza. She was arrested in December for planning a political performance there.

Eyder Peralta/NPR

It was still dark when Tania Bruguera hopped into a cab with us on her way to Revolution Square.

“All of a sudden it looks quite subversive what we’re doing,” she said. Her voice revealed a little nervousness, but it translated into a giddy laughter.

The last time Bruguera planned a trip like this, Cuban security agents hauled her out of her mother’s apartment and put her in jail. But two months later, here she was in a cab with some NPR journalists, navigating the desolate, pre-dawn streets of Havana.

Bruguera is a provocative Cuban performance artist. In December, right after President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced their diplomatic breakthrough, she flew down to Havana from New York City, where she has lived in recent years.

After some futile talks to get permission from Cuban officialdom, she announced that she would stage a performance piece at the square, a sacred place for the regime.

She invited Cubans to come speak freely into a microphone for one minute about life on the island. It was the first real test of just how tolerant the country had become of dissident voices. Some dissidents showed up and security forces arrested more than 30 of them. The event never happened.

Bruguera was detained before she could even get to the square, and her Cuban passport was taken. In the months since, she has been jailed twice and interrogated several times.

Now, looking out the cab window, we could see lights in the tall buildings of Havana starting to come on. We could see the sidewalks and the pavement bathed in the yellow hue of the street lights.

The afternoon before, we had met with Bruguera for an interview and asked what she thought would happen if she tried to visit the square again.

“I don’t know what would happen,” she said. “I think I would not be allowed to arrive there.”

Then, she smiled mischievously and asked, “Do you want to try it?”

Trouble is not new for Bruguera. Her performances have often been described as outrageous. Perhaps the best example of that happened during the Venice Biennale in 2009.

As part of a performance exploring the sacrifices political artists have to make, she loaded a gun with a single bullet and played Russian roulette on stage. Her audience was stunned and stepped in to stop her.

A image of Ernesto “Che” Guevara overlooks the plaza. The building houses Cuba’s Ministry of the Interior.

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“I was lucky, I guess,” Bruguera said. “My work in general, and I think art in general, is the space you have in society to push the boundaries of behavior, of social conduct and also politics.”

She added: “I think artists can use themselves in performance to say what other people will not dare to do or to say.”

Bruguera, 46, was born in Havana. Her father was a man who believed in the revolution and worked for the Castro regime as a diplomat.

In the ’90s, Bruguera caused her father and the regime heartache when she printed her own newspaper — a serious crime in Cuba. And in 2009 for the Havana Art Biennial, she staged a performance she called Taitlin’s Whisper #6.

A podium was flanked by two people dressed as soldiers. As each Cuban said his or her piece, one of the costumed soldiers placed a white dove on the speaker’s shoulder. One of the speakers was popular blogger Yoani Sanchez, whom the government considers a dissident. During her one-minute speech, Sanchez said that “the time has come to jump over the wall of control.”

The Cuban government was not impressed.

The Biennial organizing committee called Bruguera’s work “an anti-cultural event of shameful opportunism that offends Cuban artists and foreigners who came to offer their work and solidarity.”

By planning a similar performance for Havana’s Revolution Square in December, Bruguera was courting trouble. And she found it.

La Plaza de la Revolucíon is Havana’s Red Square, its Tiananmen Square. It’s a vast open space beside the seashore. It’s known as a place for mass, government-organized rallies.

When we arrived at the square, Bruguera noted how beautiful it is and also how imposing it seemed. On one side is a monumental statue of Cuba’s independence hero, José Martí. On the other side, in the distance, are buildings for the ministries of defense and interior with outline portraits of Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos, two of the country’s bearded revolutionary heroes.

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La Plaza de la Revolucion, Havana’s version of Moscow’s Red Square or Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, as the sun rises over the city.

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La Plaza de la Revolucion,  Havana's version of Moscow's Red Square or Beijing's Tiananmen Square, as the sun rises over the city.

La Plaza de la Revolucion, Havana’s version of Moscow’s Red Square or Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, as the sun rises over the city.

Eyder Peralta /NPR

Bruguera said that since her aborted performance, the Cuban government has tried to intimidate her. The prosecutor handling her case checks in with her a few times a week, she said, and the block leader makes sure she knows that they are watching her at all moments. For the first few weeks following her performance, state security vehicles parked outside her place in Havana. And she said that in an effort to alienate her, the state has tried to intimidate her friends.

“Three months ago, I would have thought somebody saying all this was crazy,” Bruguera said. “The biggest damage they have done to me is now I have doubts about the revolution that I didn’t have three months ago.”

By the time we got to the foot of the statue of José Martí, Bruguera seemed more at ease. She said that all she intended to do here last December was put a microphone right here, in this symbolic square.

“The idea was to invert the dynamic,” she said. “Because we are always here looking up to the leaders of the revolution and hearing [them speak into] their own microphones. I wanted to revert that dynamic and have the microphone in the street, in the place where normally you would walk, passively or shouting some chants that you learned.”

She said she wanted to shake Cubans of their “automatic responses,” their “learned responses” and “give people the freedom to say whatever they want.”

As we talked, the sky began to turn orange and the stars began to fade into the light. In a space like this and talking to a person like Bruguera, the line between art and politics seemed blurred.

“Good politicians know how to give new meanings to everything,” she said. “And the Cuban revolution has been a very good example, almost a case study of that. Fidel was really brilliant at changing the meanings of things, and that’s what an artist does — an artist rethinks the meaning of things.”

In choosing this hallowed, political ground for her performance, Bruguera said that she wanted to “give art a space in the history of the country.”

All of that, obviously, didn’t happen. Instead, Bruguera’s future is now a huge question mark. The government has yet to decide whether she will charged and tried for what they hold was an attempt at inciting a public disturbance. And Bruguera’s passport is still in their hands. The day before, Bruguera told us that these days she feels like she is re-enacting her Russian roulette piece — this time taking her chances with Cuban authorities.

By the time we wrapped up our interview, we were no longer under the cover of night. Bruguera was standing at Revolution Square in broad daylight.

A lone police officer was now keeping watch, and as we made our way back to the taxi, Bruguera greeted him.

Buenos dias,” she said. He just nodded.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/03/25/395185021/in-havana-a-journey-into-the-forbidden-with-a-provocative-artist?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Don’t Torpedo The Dam, Full Speed Ahead For Ethiopia’s Nile Project

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 26 2015

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The site of the planned Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is under construction near Assosa, Ethiopia, in this 2013 photo. The dam will have the capacity to produce 6,000 megawatts of electricity and become the biggest hydro-electric power station in Africa.

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The site of the planned Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is under construction near Assosa, Ethiopia, in this 2013 photo. The dam will have the capacity to produce 6,000 megawatts of electricity and become the biggest hydro-electric power station in Africa.

The site of the planned Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is under construction near Assosa, Ethiopia, in this 2013 photo. The dam will have the capacity to produce 6,000 megawatts of electricity and become the biggest hydro-electric power station in Africa.

Elias Asmare/AP

I once met a popular spoken word poet in Ethiopia who was asked by a government official to write a poem about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. (He politely explained that he didn’t do poetry about infrastructure.) But it’s not surprising that Ethiopia would like to inscribe this dam into the Ethiopian epic.

When completed, the Renaissance Dam promises to be the largest hydro-electric project in Africa. Funded without help from America or the West, the “renaissance” in the dam’s title refers to a 70-year-old vision of Africa rising on the strength of its own abundant resources. Independence and self-reliance in the so-called “dark continent” begins with electricity.

But since Ethiopia began construction in 2011, Egypt has spun the dam as a threat. Egypt’s way of life depends on the Nile River. Former president Mohammed Morsi once warned that every drop of water stolen from the Nile would be defended by a drop of Egyptian blood.

In fact, a hydropower dam doesn’t steal water from downstream. It only draws power from its flow. Except during one crucial period: just after the dam is built and the reservoir is filled. A reservoir this huge will hold 63 billion cubic meters — roughly as much water as Egypt gets from the Nile over the course of a year. If the basin were to be filled too fast, Egypt’s farmers would plunge into drought and its own hydropower dams would stop producing electricity.

Fear of that scenario is why Egypt’s former president almost went to war with Ethiopia over the dam.

Instead, on Monday, Egypt’s current president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn signed a “Declaration of Principles” with Sudan’s president as broker. Egypt approved the project and will have rights to some of the electricity that will be generated. The key negotiations to come will be over the pace of filling that giant reservoir when it’s completed in the next few years. Fast enough to satisfy Ethiopia’s grand ambitions but slow enough not to hobble Egypt’s economy.

Aaron Wolf, a professor of geography and trained mediator who runs the Program in Water Conflict Management and Transformation at the University of Oregon, says that once the reservoir is filled, the long term impact of the Renaissance Dam will be less to Egypt than to traditional Ethiopian tribes who will lose access to the river they depend upon for fishing or mining.

“Like all big dams, there are going to be impacts,” he says. “But if all things were equal, you do want [to build] your dams upstream.”

Negotiators for both sides will have to overcome centuries of conflict and distrust. Ethiopia rightly complains that colonial-era water treaties gave Egypt a virtual monopoly over Nile waters. Geography has also played its role. Wolf notes that “downstream” countries like Egypt tend to develop first, because that’s where the flat plains and agricultural land is, while upstream countries like Ethiopia are generally more hilly and later to develop. Then when those upstream countries develop, they have a downstream impact. “That chronology is fairly common,” Wolf says, from water conflicts in China, to Tajikistan, to Laos.

Even more common, of course, is the distrust that accompanies all water disputes. “I grew up in San Francisco and I grew up resenting Southern California for their incessant water needs,” Wolf says. “But the corollary to that is that water also brings people into a room who wouldn’t normally sit in a room together. So it brings Arabs and Israelis together, Egyptians and Ethiopians, Northern California and Southern California.”

When it comes to water, even the bitterest rivals eventually end up having to take up arms or negotiate. Two powerful African economies, Egypt and Ethiopia, have moved a step toward the latter.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2015/03/26/395321624/dont-torpedo-the-dam-full-speed-ahead-for-ethiopias-nile-project?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Vanilla, Nutmeg Spice And Everything Nice On A Zanzibar Farm

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 25 2015

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Vanilla beans, the prima donna of all spices.

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Vanilla beans, the prima donna of all spices.

Vanilla beans, the prima donna of all spices.

iStockphoto

Let’s start with a spice quiz. One is a bean discovered in Mexico. One’s a tree native to India. One’s the seed of a fruit discovered in Indonesia.

Today vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg can all be found in any spice farm in Zanzibar — the East African archipelago that was used as a spice plantation by the 18th century Omani Empire.

Our guide to Zanzibar is Fadhil Mohammed, and he’s starting with vanilla because vanilla is a prima donna. A type of orchid, it flowers only once a year. So there no time for a bee to find it. A farmer has to pollinate it by hand, with a stick, flower by flower.

The farmer only has one chance to pollinate, Fadhil says, because if the temperamental bloom has not been touched by noon, it dies, just hours after it blossomed. And no pods will ever emerge.

After nine months of maturing, the pods need event more careful attention: They have to be boiled and dried in the direct sun for only one hour. Prima donna indeed. And thus expensive. That’s why the vanilla in your coffee is probably synthetic imitation made in a lab.

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A spice farmer on the island of Zanzibar off the coast of Tanzania shaves off bark of the cinnamon tree.

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A spice farmer on the island of Zanzibar off the coast of Tanzania shaves off bark of the cinnamon tree.

A spice farmer on the island of Zanzibar off the coast of Tanzania shaves off bark of the cinnamon tree.

Gregory Warner/NPR

But our next stop on the tour is, by contrast, a low-maintenance, fast-growing laurel tree. Scrape off her bark, and you get delicious cinnamon, both a digestive and antiseptic. While should you feel an oncoming cold or flu, just move down to her roots and chew on them.

What do you taste? Eucalyptus, sweet basil and menthol, says Fadhil. I ask if the cinnamon tree is like The Giving Tree? Yes, says, Fadhil: You can use every part of it.

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A Zanzibar farmer holds a nutmeg.

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A Zanzibar farmer holds a nutmeg.

A Zanzibar farmer holds a nutmeg.

Gregory Warner/NPR

Our last spice on the tour is the most secretive. We walk up to a tree of what looks like apricots. But Fadhil tosses away the fruit and holds the precious pit. He strips away the waxy red webbing.

This is nutmeg, used in cake and coffee and also locally in nutmeg porridge, an alleged aphrodisiac. “If your husband is not around, don’t eat nutmeg porridge,” says Fadhil. Such is the power of the nutmeg powder.

The island of Zanzibar has a soil and climate ideal for spices and is situated in the crosshairs of ancient trade winds. It was a key stop on the spice route between Asia and Europe.

But I ask Fadhil to choose his favorite desert island spice. “Zanzibar is spice island, so we got this name around 1818. We got this name because of the one thing – it’s called cloves,” he says.

Cloves used to be produced on this island in such number that arriving sailors would catch their scent from giant warehouses by the harbor. Madagascar has now supplanted Zanzibar as the chief exporter. But Fadhil says that cloves will always smell to him like his home.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2015/03/25/395112316/vanilla-nutmeg-spice-and-everything-nice-on-a-zanzibar-farm?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

A Couple Spends Their Millions To Save Migrants In The Mediterranean

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 25 2015

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The Migrant Offshore Aid Station, or MOAS, carries out its first rescue in the Mediterranean in August 2014. The Malta-based private rescue service founded by a wealthy American and his Italian wife has rescued more than 3,000 migrants since its launch in August 2014.

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The Migrant Offshore Aid Station, or MOAS, carries out its first rescue in the Mediterranean in August 2014. The Malta-based private rescue service founded by a wealthy American and his Italian wife has rescued more than 3,000 migrants since its launch in August 2014.

The Migrant Offshore Aid Station, or MOAS, carries out its first rescue in the Mediterranean in August 2014. The Malta-based private rescue service founded by a wealthy American and his Italian wife has rescued more than 3,000 migrants since its launch in August 2014.

Barcroft Media /Landov

Christopher Catrambone, a wealthy businessman from Lake Charles, La., shows me around a boat called the Phoenix, which is docked in Malta, the place he calls home these days.

On a recent day, Catrambone and his team readied the Phoenix for trips out to sea that will begin in May.

But the Phoenix isn’t for luxury cruises. Catrambone and his Italian wife Regina invested about $8 million of their money to buy the ship and hire a crew to save lives at sea.

“Thousands of people are dying,” Catrambone says. “Today, as we stand here we just received news that 10 more migrants died.”

Record numbers of people from the Middle East and Africa are crossing waters to try to get to Europe. And rights groups say European countries don’t do enough to rescue them when they run into trouble at sea.

The millionaire husband-and-wife team decided to take on the task during a yacht cruise in the Mediterranean.

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Christopher Catrombone stands in front of the ship that MOAS uses for sea rescues, the Phoenix, docked in Malta.

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Christopher Catrombone stands in front of the ship that MOAS uses for sea rescues, the Phoenix, docked in Malta.

Christopher Catrombone stands in front of the ship that MOAS uses for sea rescues, the Phoenix, docked in Malta.

Leila Fadel/NPR

The catalyst came when Regina saw a jacket in the water during the cruise. She asked about it and was told it might belong to a dead migrant who was trying to find safety in Europe.

And that was that. They founded the Migrant Offshore Aid Station, which began operations last year.

“We’re the only game in town at the moment,” Christopher Catrambone says.

In just 60 days, they saved about 3,000 of migrants crossing the sea in rickety wooden boats or dinghies. They then coordinated with Italy and Malta in bringing the migrants to shore.

This year, they’re trying to raise money to operate for six months.

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A motor boat from the Italian frigate Grecale approaches a boat overcrowded with migrants in the Mediterranean Sea on June 29, 2014. The boat was carrying nearly 600 people, and the remaining 566 survivors were rescued by the Italian navy frigate.

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A motor boat from the Italian frigate Grecale approaches a boat overcrowded with migrants in the Mediterranean Sea on June 29, 2014. The boat was carrying nearly 600 people, and the remaining 566 survivors were rescued by the Italian navy frigate.

A motor boat from the Italian frigate Grecale approaches a boat overcrowded with migrants in the Mediterranean Sea on June 29, 2014. The boat was carrying nearly 600 people, and the remaining 566 survivors were rescued by the Italian navy frigate.

Italian Navy/AP

Martin Xuerab is the director of the organization and Malta’s former chief of defense.

“In our first mission [last year] we rescued 271 people, including over 100 women and children from a 12-meter boat that was already taking in water,” Xuerab says. “They’re packed like sardines.”

The boat likely would have sunk, he says.

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Some Europeans criticize the rescue operation, saying it draws more migrants to the sea.

Xuerab says that’s just not true. People are desperate and are making the journey to find a better life. They deserve to live, he says.

Last year, a record of about 218,000 people made this journey. Some 3,500 drowned. The numbers are growing.

Amnesty International says rates of those crossing are 50 percent higher than last year and hundreds have drowned already this year.

“Amnesty International is calling on European governments to start as soon as possible with a new concerted operation to save lives at sea,” says Matteo de Bellis, the group’s Italy campaigner.

At present, no European country has a search and rescue operation fully dedicated to saving migrants at sea, he says. And Malta in particular has been criticized for neglecting to pick up ships in trouble.

And with the conflicts in Syria and Libya, the numbers of crossings will only rise, he adds.

“The fact that private citizens are feeling that they need to intervene and provide search and rescue services is a clear indication of the fact that there is a clear gap, and the gap is lack of service to provide search and rescue in the central Mediterranean,” de Bellis says.

Every day, more boats set out to sea, packed with hundreds of migrants searching for safety.

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Born in Malta, Lucky (shown here with her father, Hussein Mohamed Abdi) was given that name by her mother because she survived the trip from Africa to Europe. Her mother was pregnant and at sea for six days. Several in her boat did not survive the journey.

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Born in Malta, Lucky (shown here with her father, Hussein Mohamed Abdi) was given that name by her mother because she survived the trip from Africa to Europe. Her mother was pregnant and at sea for six days. Several in her boat did not survive the journey.

Born in Malta, Lucky (shown here with her father, Hussein Mohamed Abdi) was given that name by her mother because she survived the trip from Africa to Europe. Her mother was pregnant and at sea for six days. Several in her boat did not survive the journey.

Leila Fadel/NPR

That’s how Filsan Abdullah Tawab got to Malta from Somalia. She and her husband, along with their two children, now live in just one room of a shared apartment. As she cuddles her newborn son, her husband plays with her two-year old daughter sitting nearby

Tawab says she fled Somalia after the militant group al-Shabab killed her brother and tried to force her into marriage.

Six months later, she reached Libya and got on a rubber dinghy with 94 other people headed to Europe. She was pregnant and at sea for six days. Food and water ran out quickly, eight people died and then, finally, the Maltese rescued her.

Her daughter was born in Malta. She named her Lucky, because she survived. For so many others, the journey ends at sea.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2015/03/25/393557932/a-couple-spends-their-millions-to-save-migrants-in-the-mediterranean?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

2-Minute Span Is Key To Jet Crash In French Alps That Killed 150

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 25 2015

A cockpit voice recorder badly damaged when a German jetliner smashed into an Alpine mountainside and a crucial two-minute span when the pilot lost contact are vital clues into what caused the plane to go down, killing all 150 people on board, officials said Wednesday.

Helicopters surveying the scattered debris lifted off at daybreak, hours ahead of the expected arrival of bereaved families and the French, German and Spanish leaders. The flight from Spain to Germany went into an unexplained eight-minute dive ahead of crashing Tuesday morning.

Crews were making their way slowly to the remote crash site through fresh snow and rain, threading their way to the craggy ravine. On Tuesday, the cockpit voice recorder was retrieved from the site, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.

“The black box is damaged and must be reconstituted in the coming hours in order to be useable,” Cazeneuve told RTL radio.

Key to the investigation is what happened in the minute after 10:30, said Segolene Royal, France’s energy minister. From then, controllers were unable to make contact with the plane.

The voice recorder takes audio feeds from four microphones within the cockpit and records all the conversations between the pilots, air traffic controllers as well as any noises heard in the cockpit. The flight data recorder, which Cazeneuve said had not been retrieved yet, captures 25 hours’ worth of information on the position and condition of almost every major part in a plane.

Royal and Cazeneuve both emphasized that terrorism is considered unlikely.

Victims included two babies, two opera singers, an Australian mother and her adult son vacationing together, and 16 German high school students and their teachers returning from an exchange trip to Spain.

The Airbus A320 operated by Germanwings, a budget subsidiary of Lufthansa, was less than an hour from landing in Duesseldorf on a flight from Barcelona when it unexpectedly went into a rapid 8-minute descent on Tuesday. The pilots sent out no distress call and had lost radio contact with their control center, France’s aviation authority said.

Germanwings said 144 passengers and six crew members were on board.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/03/25/395237938/2-minute-span-is-key-to-jet-crash-in-french-alps-that-killed-150?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

You’re Just A Blob In Layers Of Plastic

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 24 2015

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It’s not the real deal. This Ebola Treatment Unit was set up for a TED talk in Vancouver so people could get a sense of what the units are like, and what it’s like to put on the protective suit.

Nina Gregory


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Nina Gregory

It's not the real deal. This Ebola Treatment Unit was set up for a TED talk in Vancouver so people could get a sense of what the units are like, and what it's like to put on the protective suit.

It’s not the real deal. This Ebola Treatment Unit was set up for a TED talk in Vancouver so people could get a sense of what the units are like, and what it’s like to put on the protective suit.

Nina Gregory

At his TED Talk in Vancouver last week, Bill Gates posed the idea that, “If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus, rather than a war. Not missiles, but microbes.” He noted how the Ebola crisis in West Africa, which has taken about 10,000 lives, revealed serious problems in our global health care system. It’s not that the systems didn’t work well enough, he said. “We didn’t have a system at all.” He called the response “a global failure.”

So what do we need to do for the next epidemic, according to Bill Gates (whose foundation is a supporter of NPR).

Get prepared. He emphasized governments prepare for war — developing high tech training, drills and exercises. Why not do the same for an epidemic, which he sees as inevitable?

In conjunction with his TED Talk, Gates had a simulation of an Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) in West Africa built. The idea is that the ETU presents problems that the TED audience, filled with engineers, designers and tech experts, may be able to solve – or improve upon. People could try on those moon suits doctors and nurses had to wear in order to treat patients and experience what it really felt like to both put all the gear — as well as the more daunting task of taking it all off without getting contaminated. Doctors and nurses who had been in West Africa were there to walk people through the experience.

First: big rubber boots. Then latex gloves. A yellow plastic suit that zips up the front like a kid’s pajamas, if they were made out of a tarp. Then a mask goes over your nose and mouth, a hood over your head, a second set of gloves. Then goggles, an apron and the finishing touch: They write your name across the front of your hood in Sharpie because now no one can tell who you are. You’re just a blob in layers of plastic.

The first thing I felt when I had all my gear on was anxiety. It’s hot. It’s hard to hear or feel things with the tips of your fingers. Someone walking toward me in the same suit reminded me of the movie ET. When I caught sight of my own reflection — and saw those lumbering around in the mock ETU suited up like this along with me — it was unnerving. Imagine being on the other side: sick, dying of Ebola, and this giant, anonymous figure with not one fragment of skin or hair showing, is there to treat you, to try to save your life. My heart rate sped up, I felt faint and extremely claustrophobic.

Then it was time to get to work: Dole out pretend pills, put sheets on a cot, set up an IV. The double layer of gloves and all the gear made it really hard and extremely stressful. This is how it really feels, said Luanne Freer, an emergency medicine doctor from Montana. She spent six weeks at the end of 2014 volunteering in Sierra Leone.

“We wanted to give people the sensory and visual limitations we had in working in West Africa.” Once you put the suit on, you only have 90 minutes with your patients in “the hot zone” because people wearing the protective suits are at risk of fainting. “My team had to care for 15 people,” she said. “If our bodies would only let us stay in the hot zone for 90 minutes, some of our patients couldn’t get care. We were faced with a Sophie’s Choice: Do I leave or do I feed that baby? And we should never have to make that choice.”

The hope was someone attending TED — an audience that includes some of the world’s top scientists, engineers and inventors — might try these suits on and come up with something better.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2015/03/23/394820570/youre-just-a-blob-in-layers-of-plastic?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world