Posts Tagged ‘Israel grossman attorney Blog’

North Korea Grants Interviews With American Detainees: To What End?

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 03 2014

Two U.S. news organizations, CNN and the Associated Press, were granted interviews with three men detained by North Korean authorities. To learn more about why, and what North Korea hopes to gain from the publicity, Melissa Block talks with Georgetown professor Victor Cha, the former director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2014/09/02/345296148/n-korea-grants-interviews-with-american-detainees-to-what-end?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

A Suspected Ebola Patient On The Run In Liberia

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 03 2014

YouTube

Health care workers pursue a suspected Ebola patient in Monrovia, Liberia.

A newly released video shows health workers in Liberia attempting to capture a suspected Ebola patient, who had allegedly escaped from a treatment center on Sept. 1.

Clad in a red shirt, the man was wearing a badge indicating that he was being treated for Ebola at the ELWA hospital in the Paynesville neighborhood of Monrovia, the capital city. The Ebola wards at ELWA have been so overcrowded that at times they’ve had to turn away people suspected of being infected with the deadly virus.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2014/09/02/345262595/a-suspected-ebola-patient-on-the-run-in-liberia?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Russian Space Experiment On Gecko Sex Goes Awry

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 03 2014

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A Russian capsule that housed a gecko space-sex experiment. The geckos all died.

ROSCOSMOS


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ROSCOSMOS

A Russian capsule that housed a gecko space-sex experiment. The geckos all died.

A Russian capsule that housed a gecko space-sex experiment. The geckos all died.

ROSCOSMOS

Space is a dangerous place. That message resonated again on Monday, when the Russian Federal Space Agency — Roscosmos — announced that a team of experimental geckos tasked with copulating while in orbit did not survive their journey.

“All geckos, unfortunately, died,” the space agency said in a terse statement.

Roscosmos is launching an investigation into the exact circumstances surrounding the geckos’ deaths, but the mission seemed star-crossed from the start.

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A brave geckonaut from Russia's Institute Biomedical Problems.

A brave geckonaut from Russia’s Institute Biomedical Problems.



IBMP/O. Voloshin

On July 19, the Foton-M4 satellite lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Onboard were several experiments from the Institute of Biomedical Problems designed to study life in space.

The star experiment was “Gecko-F4,” which according to a Google translation of the agency’s website was designed to “create conditions for sexual behavior, copulation and reproduction of geckos in the orbital experiment.” Video cameras were set up to capture the geckos in the act, along with any eggs that resulted.

But shortly after launch, ground control said the Foton-M4 stopped responding to commands. Controllers spent several days battling to reconnect with the spacecraft. During that time the status of the geckos, and their sexual activity, remained unclear. Nor was it clear whether the Foton-M spacecraft was capable of safely returning to Earth. The scenario was a little like the ill-fated flight of Apollo 13 in 1970 (except in most respects it was completely different).

Eventually contact was re-established with the spacecraft, and it did travel back to Earth. But the geckos appear to have died somewhere along the way. Ria Novosti quotes the head of the experiment, Sergei Savelyev, as saying the geckos very likely died just two days before landing. It appears that part of the capsule’s life-support system had quit working.

Not all life aboard perished, however. Roscosmos reports that some fruit flies appeared to have survived the journey. What’s more, they successfully reproduced.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/09/02/345309084/russian-space-experiment-on-gecko-sex-goes-awry?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

These 5 Crops Are Still Hand-Harvested, And It’s Hard Work

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 02 2014

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A woman holds the saffron crocus, during the saffron harvest in Herat, Afghanistan (left). Saffron flowers are collected in Saint Hippolyte, eastern France (right). Since the stigmas need to be picked from the flowers by hand, saffron is the world’s most expensive spice.

Majid Saeedi/Getty Images; Maxppp /Landov


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Majid Saeedi/Getty Images; Maxppp /Landov

A woman holds the saffron crocus, during the saffron harvest in Herat, Afghanistan (left). Saffron flowers are collected in Saint Hippolyte, eastern France (right). Since the stigmas need to be picked from the flowers by hand, saffron is the world's most expensive spice.

A woman holds the saffron crocus, during the saffron harvest in Herat, Afghanistan (left). Saffron flowers are collected in Saint Hippolyte, eastern France (right). Since the stigmas need to be picked from the flowers by hand, saffron is the world’s most expensive spice.

Majid Saeedi/Getty Images; Maxppp /Landov

Mechanization has made the farming of many crops — lettuce and tomatoes, among them — a lot less labor intensive. But some crops are still tended and harvested by hand, and it can be painstaking work.

How do you measure the labor intensity of crops? We thought there would be an easy answer to that, but there isn’t. Some agricultural economists talk about labor input in terms of hours per acre, but that may not take into account the difficulty of the labor.

For Labor Day, we thought we’d round up some of those crops that still require specialized human labor. This is by no means a comprehensive list, and some of these crops are only labor intensive in certain parts of the world, because their harvest has been mechanized elsewhere. And intensive does not necessarily mean abusive, though, as we’ve reported, slave and child labor do still plague the food system.

Saffron

This spice is among the most expensive in the world; the biggest producers are Italy, Iran and Spain. The work involves growing the saffron crocus flowers and then picking and processing them. The flowers must be picked early in the morning, and on the same day, workers by hand extract the stigmas — the tiny strands that are dried and then used to add color, flavor and a unique aroma to a meal.

Many have claimed that the labor involved to produce saffron is the reason for its high price: currently around $85 per ounce.

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Vanilla has no natural pollinators in Madagascar so it is pollinated by hand (left). Vanilla milk shakes (right).

Courtesy of Madécasse; Vegan Feast Catering/Flickr


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Courtesy of Madécasse; Vegan Feast Catering/Flickr

Vanilla has no natural pollinators in Madagascar so it is pollinated by hand (left). Vanilla milk shakes (right).

Vanilla has no natural pollinators in Madagascar so it is pollinated by hand (left). Vanilla milk shakes (right).

Courtesy of Madécasse; Vegan Feast Catering/Flickr

Vanilla

As we reported last week, many people have called vanilla one of the most labor-intensive food products the world over. If you’re talking about the real stuff (as opposed to the artificial stuff), most of it comes from Madagascar, but it also comes from Tahiti, Mexico and Indonesia.

Like saffron, the cost of that labor is reflected in the price for the beans — about $10 for a small jar of two or three beans. Vanilla beans are actually the fruit of an orchid. That orchid flowers only once a year and has to be hand-pollinated.

As former Peace Corps volunteer turned entrepreneur Tim McCollum, of the chocolate and vanilla company Madecass, told our sister blog Goats and Soda, “Farmers use a stick with a small, pointy end, extract something and put it together to pollinate. It’s only in bloom a very short time.”

After it’s harvested, the bean has to be cooked, sweated, dried and cured. The entire process from pollination to processed bean can take up to a year and a half.

To add to our list of labor intensive crops, we consulted the International Labor Rights Forum. Here’s what Abby Mills, director of campaigns for the ILRF, tells us about these next three:

“These crops take an intense amount of time and large number of manual laborers to grow, plus they grow best along the equator. So the incentive is very much to find the countries where both land and labor are cheapest, and often where rule of law is least established. Those forces combine to lead to the labor issues. The work is back breaking and hard, but the very intensity … also contributes directly to the poor conditions we see on so many of the plantations for the crops.”

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Constante Dace, a worker at Dole Food Co., stirs cocoa beans at the company’s Waialua coffee and cocoa farm in Hawaii (left). Theo Ghost Chili Pepper chocolates from Theo Chocolates (right).

Yuriko Nakao/Reuters/Landov; Mike McCune/Flickr


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Constante Dace, a worker at Dole Food Co., stirs cocoa beans at the company's Waialua coffee and cocoa farm in Hawaii (left). Theo Ghost Chili Pepper chocolates from Theo Chocolates (right).

Constante Dace, a worker at Dole Food Co., stirs cocoa beans at the company’s Waialua coffee and cocoa farm in Hawaii (left). Theo Ghost Chili Pepper chocolates from Theo Chocolates (right).

Yuriko Nakao/Reuters/Landov; Mike McCune/Flickr

Chocolate (Cacao)

Like vanilla, the cacao bean that eventually gets turned into chocolate originates inside a pod. But cacao pods are big and have to be hacked open with machetes or clubs. Once the beans are out, they have to be cleaned, dried and fermented before they can be ground up and processed into cocoa.

As we reported, some cacao farmers in the Ivory Coast had never even tried chocolate. Watch this video to get a better sense of what the work is like.

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An Indonesian farmer harvests palm oil near Tesso Nilo National Park, Indonesia (left). Onion pakoras made with palm oil in India (right).

EPA/Bagus Indahono/Landov; Miran Rijavec/Flickr


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EPA/Bagus Indahono/Landov; Miran Rijavec/Flickr

An Indonesian farmer harvests palm oil near Tesso Nilo National Park, Indonesia (left). Onion pakoras made with palm oil in India (right).

An Indonesian farmer harvests palm oil near Tesso Nilo National Park, Indonesia (left). Onion pakoras made with palm oil in India (right).

EPA/Bagus Indahono/Landov; Miran Rijavec/Flickr

Palm Oil

We’ve reported on the link between palm oil grown in Southeast Asia (which ends up in our doughnuts and other baked goods) and deforestation. Turns out harvesting palm oil can also be back-breaking work.

In its report on labor issues in the palm oil industry in the Philippines, the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights notes, “Like their adult counterparts, child workers are engaged in various types of palm oil activities namely fruiter, harvester, hauler, kickerall, uprooting among others. Hauling and harvesting are considered the most strenuous work wherein children have to raise a steel rod that reaches the canopy of the palm fruit (for harvesters) or they have to carry at least a [33-pound] palm fruit bunch (for haulers) and load it to the truck for transport.”

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Laborers sow cotton seeds in a field ahead of anticipated monsoon rains in Warangal, India (left). Potato chips are often made with cottonseed oil (right).

Noah Seelam/AFP/GettyImages; iStockphoto


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Noah Seelam/AFP/GettyImages; iStockphoto

Laborers sow cotton seeds in a field ahead of anticipated monsoon rains in Warangal, India (left). Potato chips are often made with cottonseed oil (right).

Laborers sow cotton seeds in a field ahead of anticipated monsoon rains in Warangal, India (left). Potato chips are often made with cottonseed oil (right).

Noah Seelam/AFP/GettyImages; iStockphoto

Cottonseed Oil

In the U.S., two of the most labor-intensive food crops are mushrooms and strawberries, according to Philip Martin, a professor in the department of agriculture and resource economics at the University of California-Davis. And cotton and cottonseed harvesting were mechanized long ago.

But in India and Uzbekistan, cottonseed is still hand-harvested and labor intensive. In India, many children are employed in the fields and in the gins, where the seed is separated before being pressed into oil. Annually, more than 1 million children and adults are forced to pick the cotton in Uzbekistan. In 2013, the number of manual laborers in the fields harvesting the country’s cotton increased an estimated 4 million, according to the Cotton Campaign.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/09/01/344354403/these-5-crops-are-still-hand-harvested-and-its-hard-work?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Analyst: Response To Russian Incursion Will Be ‘Defining Moment’ For NATO

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 02 2014

President Obama heads to Europe this week to take part in the NATO summit. The alliance is weighing how to respond to Russia’s incursions into Ukraine.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2014/09/01/345044338/analyst-response-to-russian-incursion-will-be-defining-moment-for-nato?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

NATO To Create New ‘Spearhead’ Force For Eastern Europe

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 02 2014

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NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Monday.

Yves Logghe/AP


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NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Monday.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Monday.

Yves Logghe/AP

NATO leaders are expected to set up a rapid-response force to deploy quickly to eastern Europe to defend against potential Russian aggression at their meeting in Wales later this week.

The force of about 4,000 troops will be ready to move on 48 hours notice from a station in a member country close to Russia, the New York Times reported.

The “spearhead” force would be defensive in nature and able to respond “to Russia’s aggressive behavior — but it equips the alliance to respond to all security challenges, wherever they may arise,” said Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in a speech on the NATO website.

The Obama administration supports the plan, but emphasized the force’s defensive posture, National Security Spokesman Caitlin Hayden tells CNN.

The force is “not intended as a provocation, or as a threat to Russia, but rather as a demonstration of NATO’s continued commitment to our collective defense,” Hayden said.

Poland and other NATO members in eastern and Baltic states had expressed concerns about Russian actions in Ukraine, and had demanded a stronger response, says the Guardian. The new force will not help with the current situation in Ukraine, but may serve as a deterrent if Russia considers destabilizing the Baltic states.

“The spearhead group will be trained to deal with unconventional actions, from the funding of separatist groups to the use of social media, intimidation and black propaganda,” writes the Guardian’s Ewen MacAskill.

Russia is bound to view it as an act of aggression, MacAskill says.

The NATO summit, featuring some 60 heads of state, including President Obama, is set for Thursday and Friday at the Celtic Manor Resort, a luxury hotel complex in Newport, Wales.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/09/01/345088327/nato-to-create-new-spearhead-force-for-eastern-europe?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

PTSD Goes Largely Untreated In Iraq’s Kurdish Region

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 01 2014

Copyright © 2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

ARUN RATH, HOST:

The Kurdish region of Iraq has lived with violence for decades, from Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons attacks in the late 1980s to the Kurdish civil war in the mid-90s to the current threat from Isis. The violence has produced generations of Kurds who suffer the same PTSD and depression symptoms of American veterans, but with a tiny fraction of the treatment. Dr. Ahmed Amin started one of the regions few psychiatric centers in 2007. And in a recent piece in Harper’s magazine, he said, before his center opened, there were 30 psychiatrists in all of Iraq. Reporter Jenna Krajeski wrote that story. We reached her in Erbil. She says the Kurdish civil war, in particular, had a profound effect.

JENNA KRAJESKI: Because the Kurdish struggle against central Iraq is based largely on this national pride, And that pride binds people together. And the idea that eventually there will be an independent Kurdistan is something that Kurds thought they were fighting for and struggling for. So when the two major political parties begin fighting each other, not only was it a vicious fight, families fought families. Dr. Amin has this quote in my piece where he says, neighbors fighting neighbors, families fighting families. And he also says, we’ve always wanted to erase this from our minds.

RATH: You spoke with people who are dealing with the PTSD problem directly there – the people working at one of very few mental health clinics in Kurdistan. This is the trauma rehabilitation and training center. What are the kind of stories that doctors are hearing there that they have to deal with?

KRAJESKI: Well, there’s a lot. The doctors see a lot of people who were detained. And in those prisons – particularly under Saddam – they really underwent systematic torture. There’s also the chemical weapons attacks, which really concentrated in a town called Halabja, which is quite an isolated town. Thousands of people died in one day. There are people who suffer extreme mental distress. They’re still waiting for their family members to come back. You know, they have certain sensory associations with those days that traumatize them.

Dr. Amin me something that I think is really interesting. They encountered a kind of language that even he, as an Iraqi, didn’t really know how to identify and diagnose. Women would tell them that their souls were hurting. And he would just say, you know, I’ve been trained in Europe and in Iraq. I don’t know how what to do when someone tells me my soul is hurting. I’ve never read any literature that says, this is the treatment for someone who says, my soul is hurt.

RATH: I have to imagine that having an active war going on – that must complicate treating people for posttraumatic stress, when there’s still, you know, stress in the air.

KRAJESKI: Yeah. I think that that’s a very good point. There’s a really high need for treatment. People who have suffered through decades of wars and occupations and invasions and – that project almost necessitates that there be an optimism about the future because you’re seeing people who you’ve convinced that by revisiting this very traumatic past, they can have a better future.

And so with the threat of Isis, you have hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people coming from areas that have been besieged by Isis into Kurdistan. Not to mention Syrian refugees – 250,000 of them in Kurdistan. And you have Kurds living in Kurdistan who are scared or had to leave their own towns. So, of course, this means more trauma, more patients. And yet, when I spoke to this Dr. Amin last, he told me that they were seeing fewer patients. And he thought it was because people were too frightened to come to the clinic. And to me, that says, maybe that optimism was gone if people weren’t going to the clinic. That, to me, was a disappointing thing to hear, and I hope it doesn’t last.

RATH: That’s reporter Jenna Krajeski. She’s been writing for Harper’s magazine about treating PTSD in Kurdistan. Jenna, thank you.

KRAJESKI: Thank you.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR’s prior permission. Visit our permissions page 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/2014/08/31/344809418/ptsd-goes-largely-untreated-in-iraqs-kurdish-region?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

‘Lady Al-Qaida’ And The Business Of Prisoner Swaps

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 01 2014

Copyright © 2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

ARUN RATH, HOST:

Days before their son was beheaded, James Foley’s parents received an email from his captors. It was a list of their demands. To release the American journalist, Isis wanted cash. They also wanted the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman serving an 86-year sentence in a Texas prison.

In 2004, this Siddiqui appeared on the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists. But shortly before that, she seemed to be living a normal life in America, with a husband, three children and a PhD from Brandeis University. Shane Harris wrote about Siddiqui for the latest issue of Foreign Policy magazine, where he’s a senior staff writer. He says Siddiqui is one of the most mysterious figures in the American war on terrorism.

SHANE HARRIS: Well, interestingly, she was not convicted of terrorism. She was taken into custody in Afghanistan in 2008. And when American officials went to go interrogate her, they stepped into a room that she was being held in. And apparently, we’re not told that she was actually in the room and that she was not handcuffed and not secured. And she jumped out, the FBI says in an affidavit, from behind a curtain, grabbed a rifle that had been left on the floor and shot at her American interrogators. So she was arrested and tried and convicted for attempted murder of U.S. officials.

RATH: And her supporters have a very different version of what happened. Can you explain that?

HARRIS: Yeah – extremely different. By the time that she was arrested in 2008 in Afghanistan, she had been missing from Pakistan for about five years. And there is an alternate story here about Siddiqui that is very widely held, I think, in Pakistan that she was disappeared by Pakistani intelligence and handed over to the American CIA and that she was possibly held in prison at the airbase in Bagram in Afghanistan for as long as five years. And people allege that she was tortured and brutalized while she was there.

RATH: How often has Siddiqui’s release come up as a demand from radical or terrorist groups?

HARRIS: We’ve seen it actually many times. It came up in the context of negotiations over the release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was the Army soldier who, of course, was recently released in a prisoner exchange with the Pakistani Taliban. It’s come up in the context of Swiss prisoners. It’s come up in the context of other prisoners, as well, and then more recently, of course, with James Foley and now also another woman who the Islamic State claims to be holding – a 26-year-old American woman who was kidnapped a year ago in Syria.

RATH: And who exactly how asking for Siddiqui’s release, aside from the Islamic State?

HARRIS: The Islamic State has asked for it. The Taliban has asked for it. And I think they sort of see her as an iconic sort of image of their struggle. They believe that she was – well, it’s hard to tell, actually. Some of them seem to think that she was wrongfully imprisoned and others, like Isis or the Islamic State, have claimed her as sort of a sister in their cause, which would seem to indicate that they think that she is actually a terrorist.

RATH: Now, very famously, five detainees from Guantanamo were released for the – in exchange for Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. From your reporting, has there been any serious discussion in the White House or the Pentagon about using Aafia Siddiqui for a prisoner swap?

HARRIS: I wouldn’t say serious discussion, but it has come up in a couple of instances. Two years ago, the Pakistani government made an offer to a very high level group of U.S. officials who were working on the possibility of getting Bowe Bergdahl released. And they brought up the idea that if the United States would release Siddiqui from the U.S. prison, let her go back to Pakistan, then the Pakistani authorities would try to intercede on behalf of Bowe Bergdahl to get him free. I’m told by people who were involved in those discussions that that idea was never taken seriously. It was dismissed very quickly because the United States would have considered that offering concessions to terrorists.

RATH: Well, what’s the difference, though, between swapping Aafia Siddiqui or – and, say, the Guantanamo five who were exchanged for Bowe Bergdahl?

HARRIS: I think it’s a great question. The administration tries to make – draw line between those two. And to me, it’s sort of a distinction without a very meaningful difference. The administration will say that the five Taliban prisoners were swapped for Bergdahl in – sort of in the line of a long tradition of exchanging prisoners of war. But at the end of the day, those five Taliban members were held in prison in Guantanamo. Our own intelligence agencies assessed that they were very likely to return to the battlefield. They’re only going to be under a form of house arrest in Qatar until next year. So it really does look like prisoner swap.

RATH: Shane Harris is a senior staff writer for Foreign Policy magazine. Shane, thanks very much.

HARRIS: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR’s prior permission. Visit our permissions page 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/2014/08/31/344809425/lady-al-qaida-and-the-business-of-prisoner-swaps?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Islamic State Suffers Rare Defeat In Amerli

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 01 2014

Copyright © 2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

ARUN RATH, HOST:

In Iraq, radical Sunni fighters calling themselves the Islamic State or Isis have suffered a rare defeat. Iraqi and Kurdish forces broke a nearly 80-day siege on the town of Amerli, where residents have enough food and water today for the first time in weeks. NPR’s Peter Kenyon reports from Erbil that the victory showed the kind of cooperative effort some analysts believe could reverse the Islamic State’s gains of recent months.

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: After weeks of rationing food and drinking unsafe well water, the Shiite Turkmen of Amerli fired their guns in the air today in celebration as the Islamic State seat was broken and Iraqi and Kurdish forces moved into the town. Their rescuers were an unusual coalition of Iraqi army units, Shiite militias and Kurdish Peshmerga forces backed by U.S. airstrikes.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken).

KENYON: Kurdish television showed Peshmerga forces attacking Islamic State positions outside Amerli. And 42-year-old teacher Mohammed Faras (ph), reached by phone, said, it was the first good day the town had seen in many weeks. He said, a very large humanitarian air-drop had finally brought enough food and clean water for the 12 to 15,000 people trapped in the town. The Pentagon said, the aid was a joint effort by the U.S., Britain, France and Australia. The White House says, in a phone call to Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani, Vice President Joe Biden described the effort to break the Amerli siege as ongoing.

It looks to be the second important defeat for the Islamic State fighters, who earlier were pushed back from the strategic Mosul Dam. While they took the mixed city of Mosul in June with little resistance, the Shiite Turkmen of Amerli held them off for weeks without electricity or sophisticated weapons. Islamic State members consider Shiites and other non-Sunnis apostates who can be killed under their harsh and rigid version of Islam.

Analysts say, the Islamists have held remarkably large chunks of territory with what appears to be relatively few men. The cooperative move to liberate Amerli, with Iraqi units pushing from one direction and Kurdish fighters from another, is exactly the kind of joint effort Washington would like to see confronting the Islamic State militants. And they would like to add Sunni tribesmen to the mix, in an effort to drive the Islamists out of western Anbar province, where violence continues to rage. Officials say, a suicide bomber killed dozens of people in Ramadi Sunday, most of them from the security forces. Peter Kenyon, NPR News, Erbil.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR’s prior permission. Visit our permissions page 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/2014/08/31/344809411/islamic-state-suffers-rare-defeat-in-amerli?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Sanctions Against Russia Have Failed To Achieve Political Goals

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Aug 31 2014

Copyright © 2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

ARUN RATH, HOST:

For more on a possible diplomatic solution in Ukraine, we turn to former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Steven Pifer. Welcome to the program.

STEVEN PIFER: Thank you for having me.

RATH: First off, you know, there’s a basic disagreement about the facts here. Russia is still not acknowledging the forces that NATO and Ukraine insist are there in Eastern Ukraine. How does a diplomatic dialogue even begin?

PIFER: Well, that’s one of the difficult things. But it’s becoming increasingly untenable for the Russians to maintain that there are not Russian forces operating in Ukraine. There’s just too much evidence of this coming not only from U.S. sources – from NATO, from the Ukrainians – to disbelieve that the Russian are now on the ground.

RATH: So far the U.S. and the E.U. have said that economic sanctions are their main tool in deterring Russia from further incursions into Ukraine. Yesterday on NPR, the NATO Deputy Secretary General, Alexander Vershbow, implied that it’s unlikely to escalate to military intervention anytime soon.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

ALEXANDER VERSHBOW: Obviously a direct conflict with Russia could escalate. I think at the moment we’re trying to steer things by increasing the costs to Russia through economic sanctions, through increasing international isolation, so that we can steer things towards a political solution.

RATH: Mr. Pifer, are current sanctions working?

PIFER: Well, I think current sanctions, which have been primarily economic, are definitely having an impact on the Russian economy. But so far, they’ve failed to achieve their political goal, which is to get Vladimir Putin to shift his policy course towards Ukraine. So I would argue for two things now. First, I think it would be appropriate for the West to adopt more stringent, more robust economic sanctions on Russia. But also it’s time for the West to be in considering supplying to the Ukrainians lethal military assistance – things like light anti-tank weapons, shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles – things that would allow the Ukrainian Army to perform better in terms of defending Ukrainian territory against what increasingly looks like a Russian invasion.

RATH: In terms of the stricter economic sanctions, is that something that might be difficult given that it could potentially hurt E.U. economies that benefit from trade with Russia?

PIFER: Well, certainly there has been caution on both sides of the Atlantic about how far and how fast to go with regards to economic sanctions. It’s now very clear that there has been the crossing of a threshold with regards to this crisis, where you now have such evidence of overt Russian military involvement in Ukraine. And that’s having an impact, I think, on the thinking on both sides of the Atlantic.

RATH: What do you think a diplomatic solution in Ukraine would look like? Would it involve land concessions?

PIFER: Well, this is the point. I mean, the goal of the sanctions and even providing military assistance is not to necessarily win the war, but to cause a change in the calculation in Moscow and bring the Russians away from their current course towards some kind of an approach that would facilitate a negotiated settlement. Ukraine and the European Union have already had a conversation with the Russians about how to ameliorate any economic impact on the Ukraine-Russian trade relations from Ukraine’s drawing closer to the European Union. So there are pieces out there that clever diplomats could put together and form the basis for a settlement that I think would allow all parties to say they’ve won, but they would also allow Ukraine to maintain sovereignty over Eastern Ukraine.

RATH: Do you have a sense of what Russia’s goal is in the diplomatic talks and is there any concern that they might just be trying to run out the clock with the diplomacy?

PIFER: Well, again there hasn’t been much Russian real diplomacy in this case. The problem thus far seems to be that Mr. Putin’s objective is simply to create a degree of chaos in Eastern Ukraine that destabilizes the government in Kiev and among other things makes it more difficult to for them to proceed with a more normal relationship with the European Union and deal with the other very real economic challenges and political challenges that it has to face.

RATH: Steven Pifer is a former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Steven Pifer, thank you very much.

PIFER: Thank you.

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Article source: http://www.npr.org/2014/08/30/344585043/sanctions-against-russia-have-failed-to-achieve-political-goals?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world