Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad

A revelation of the plight of Afghan women and a window into the surprising realities of daily life in today's Afghanistan.

March 12, 2012

Suraia Rais had sued Seierstad in an Oslo court, claiming Seierstad had defamed her family and used “negligent” journalistic practices. Both she and her husband had also felt that Seierstad’s revelations of their lives invaded their privacy. The bookseller had allowed Seierstad to live in his home in Kabul while she collected material for her book.
Seierstad lost at the lower court level but won at the appeals court level, where damage claims against both Seierstad and her publisher were reversed. Rais then appealed to Norway’s Supreme Court.
Last week came news that the high court had refused to hear the case, meaning the appeals court decision stands and Seierstad prevailed.

The author of the publishing sensation The Bookseller of Kabul was found guilty of defamation and "negligent journalistic practices" last week after losing a case brought by a woman who claimed the bestseller depicted her in a humiliating, untruthful way that left her feeling "violated".

Legal experts say the ruling by Oslo district court will transform the way in which western journalists and authors write about people from poor countries. Åsne Seierstad was ordered to pay more than £26,000 in punitive damages to Suraia Rais, the second wife of bookseller Shah Muhammad Rais, with whose family the Norwegian writer lived for five months while researching her book.

xenophobic policies

The xenophobic policies offered up by Republicans in the wake of the Paris and Beirut attacks are simply jaw-dropping:

  • Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz suggested bombing innocent civilians in the Middle East.
  • Twenty-six Republican governors have vowed, without any legal authority, to block Syrian refugees from their states.
  • Presidential candidate Jeb Bush joined Sen. Cruz in proposing that we block Syrian refugees based on religion — admitting Christian but not Muslim refugees.
  • The House passed a bill requiring the FBI director, the secretary of Homeland Security and the director of National Intelligence to personally sign off on every refugee from Syria or Iraq.
  1. Jonathan Martin, “Obama Says ‘Enough is Enough’ after Colorado Shooting,” New York Times, November 28, 2015.
  2. Closing the Terror Gap in Gun Background Checks,” Everytown for Gun Safety, July 21, 2015.
  3. Judd Legum, "In Response To Paris, Ted Cruz Calls For Airstrikes With More ‘Tolerance For Civilian Casualties’,", November 13, 2015.
  4. Sarah Frostenson and Dara Lind, “Here's a map of every state refusing to accept Syrian refugees,”, November 18, 2015.
  5. Amy Davidson, “Ted Cruz’ Religious Test for Refugees, New Yorker, November 16, 2015.
  6. Camila Domonoske, “House Votes To Increase Security Checks On Refugees From Iraq, Syria,” NPR, November 19, 2015.

rash of violence in USA


Friday’s mass shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood health center, alongside last week’s white supremacist attack on a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis, is a stark reminder that domestic terrorists continues to be one of the most real and present threats to Americans’ safety.

Saturday, November 28, 2015


Paris attack

Published on Nov 17, 2015
Paris attack witness says black Mercedes pulled up and shooters fired rifles from the hip -

NOTE: Arab Muslims could have been involved in these attacks as well, potentially working with these 'white mercenaries' in some form or fashion.

“We Were Prepared”: Counter-Terrorism Emergency Exercise on “Multi-Site Attacks” Took Place On Same Day As Paris Terrorist Attacks -

CIA Director Brennan Met With French Security Chief Before Paris Attacks - Report -

Jewish owners recently sold Paris’s Bataclan theater, where IS killed dozens -

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Alphabet soup

Published on Aug 20, 2014
Este es un pequeño homenaje a Jim Foley. Esta grabación se corresponde al año 2012, septiembre. Jim fue de los primeros periodistas del mundo en entrar en Siria... Y su compromiso le llevó a seguir trabajando a pesar de las dificultades para hacerlo. Esto es Alepo, en el peor momento de la ofensiva. Allí estaba Jim...

On March 4, 2014, the Administration submitted its Fiscal Year 2015 budget request, including a base funding request of $45.6 billion for the National Intelligence Program (NIP), and a base funding request of $13.3 billion for the Military Intelligence Program (MIP). On June 30, the DNI submitted an updated FY2015 budget request of $49.4 billion for the NIP including funding for overseas contingency operations. An updated budget request figure for the MIP has not yet been disclosed.  One of the justifications for the budget of intelligence agencies is Islamic extremism. Yet the same intelligence agencies have been behind the rise of Islamic extremism for decades now.

The United States is th eonly country in the world where the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, are not view as a consequences of U.S. policy. Yet the record shows that the al-Qaeda network might have not existed at all, had the United States not sponsored Islamic extremism in Afghanistan. This is commonly understood outside the United States. The memory lapse is  understandable. Once the U.S.-sponsored Islamic extremists had forced the Soviet Army out of Afghanistan in the late 1980s, the United States just forgot about the monster it created.

The violence of Islamism has roused anxious concern throughout the Muslim world.  In the United States, the media and policy makers wage a campaign to demonize Muslims and Islam as a threat to Western interests. This political motivated propaganda is tuned to the resistance to Israel occupation of Muslim lands. The anti-Islam bias sets a double standard: The U.S. Media condones Israel's U.S.-financed violence - conducted on an enormous scale - while denouncing Arab resistence to it. The propaganda in the West suggests that violence and holoy war are inherent in Islam. The reality is that as a worldwide movement Jihad is a recent phenomenon. It is a modern, multinational conglomerate founded not so much by fanatic mullahs in Teheran as it is sponsored by governments including the United States, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. Historically, nearly all Muslim strugles of the 20th century were secular. 

For the average citizen of the West, the idea of the United States as The Sponsor of international terrorism would appear utterly incomprehensible. After all, one reads daily that the United States is leading the charge against something it calls terrorism, and it regularly assails its allies for dragging in response to terrorism.  The Western  misperception comes from an abuse of language. The powerful define terrorism to exclude their own acts. Washington arbitrarily designates any group or country which it opposes as terrorist, and this will be transmitted to the public by the mass media without laughter. 

“The War on Terrorism” was a semantic manipulation of the word “terrorism,” which is loosely defined, however it gave the government the extra power it has in time of war for an indeterminable amount of time. The Patriot Act, the invasive, controversial legislation was given a name that suggests anyone against it was “unpatriotic.” The slogan “Support the Troops” was seen everywhere, suggesting that if one was against the indefinable, unjust war that they were also against the troops. This again suggests opposers were “unpatriotic.” The best example may be that torture was renamed “enhanced interrogation.

The pre-eminent authority on the English language, the much-venerated Oxford English Dictionary, says:

Terrorism: A system of terror. 1. Government by intimidation as directed and carried out by the party in power in France during the revolution of 1789-94; the system of `Terror'. 2. gen. A policy intended to strike with terror those against whom it is adopted; the employment of methods of intimidation; the fact of terrorizing or condition of being terrorized.

In its semantic manipulation of terrorism and related words, a number of devices are used to differentiate friends and self from terrorists. Perhaps the most insidious is to confine the use of the word terrorism to nonstate actors and actions; i.e., to define terrorism as the use of violence to oppose governments.  This departs from the standard and traditional usage, according to which terrorism is a mode of governing as well as of opposing governments by means of intimidation. In this context, it is curios that The State Department aserts that ISIS is not a terrorist organzation.

ISIS used to be called al-Qaida. It has been claimed that the CIA had ties with Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda and its "Afghan Arab" fighters when it armed Mujahideen groups against the Soviet Union during the Soviet war in Afghanistan.

In a 2004 BBC article entitled "Al-Qaeda's origins and links", the BBC wrote:
During the anti-Soviet jihad Bin Laden and his fighters received American and Saudi funding. Some analysts believe Bin Laden himself had security training from the CIA.[1]
Robin Cook, Foreign Secretary in the UK from 1997–2001, believed the CIA had provided arms to the Arab Mujahideen, including Osama bin Laden, writing, "Bin Laden was, though, a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies. Throughout the 80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan." His source for this is unclear.[2]
In conversation with former British Defence Secretary Michael Portillo, two-time Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto said Osama bin Laden was initially pro-American.[3]Prince Bandar bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia, has also stated that bin Laden once expressed appreciation for the United States' help in Afghanistan. On CNN's Larry King program he said:[4]
Bandar bin Sultan: This is ironic. In the mid-'80s, if you remember, we and the United - Saudi Arabia and the United States were supporting the Mujahideen to liberate Afghanistan from the Soviets. He [Osama bin Laden] came to thank me for my efforts to bring the Americans, our friends, to help us against the atheists, he said the communists. Isn't it ironic?
Larry King: How ironic. In other words, he came to thank you for helping bring America to help him.
Bandar bin Sultan: Right.
Former FBI translator and Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, interviewed by Brad Friedman on the The Mike Malloy Show on June 2009 has stated: "I have information about things that our government has lied to us about. I know. For example, to say that since the fall of the Soviet Union we ceased all of our intimate relationship with Bin Laden and the Taliban - those things can be proven as lies, very easily, based on the information they classified in my case, because we did carry very intimate relationship with these people, and it involves Central Asia, all the way up to September 11."
U.S. government officials and a number of other parties maintain that the U.S. supported only the indigenous Afghan mujahideen. They deny that the CIA or other American officials had contact with the Afghan Arabs (foreign mujahideen) or Bin Laden, let alone armed, trained, coached or indoctrinated them. Scholars and reporters have called the idea of CIA-backed Afghan Arabs (foreign mujahideen) "nonsense",[6] "sheer fantasy",[7] and "simply a folk myth."
One allegation not denied by the US government is that the U.S. Army enlisted and trained a cashiered Egyptian soldier named Ali Mohamed, and that it knew Ali occasionally took trips to Afghanistan, where he claimed to fight Russians.
New allegations have turned up that the United States and NATO have either unknowingly or knowingly been supporting al-Qaeda affiliates during the Libyan civil war and the current Syrian civil war.[26] Al-Qaeda affiliates account for 12,000 fighters in Syria and one affiliate, the al-Nusra Front, is part of the Islamic coalition which accounts for 59-75% of the rebels in Syria and plans a political transition to Sharia law post-Assad.[27][28] Turkey, a NATO member, has listed the Al-Nusra Front as a terrorist organization.  
The United States of America has at various times in recent history provided support to Terrorist paramilitary organizations across the world. It has also provided assistance to numerous authoritarian regimes that have used terror as a tool of repression.[1][2]
United States support to non-state terrorists has been prominent in Latin America, the Middle-East, and Southern Africa.[1] From 1981 to 1991, the United States provided weapons, training, and extensive financial and logistical support to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua, who used terror tactics in their fight against the Nicaraguan government.[3] At various points the United States also provided training, arms, and funds to terrorists among the Cuban exiles, such as Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles.
Various reasons have been provided to justify such support. These including destabilizing political movements that might have aligned with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, including popular democratic and socialist movements.[4] Such support has also formed a part of the war on drugs.[2] Support was also geared toward ensuring a conducive environment for American corporate interests abroad, especially when these interests came under threat from democratic regimes.

Several scholars have accused the United States of conducting state terrorism. They have written about the liberal democracies and their use of state terrorism, particularly in relation to the Cold War. According to them, state terrorism was used to protect the interest of capitalist elites, and the U.S. organized a neo-colonial system of client states, co-operating with local elites to rule through terror. However, little of this work has been recognized by other scholars of terrorism or even of state terrorism.[1]
Notable works include Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman's The political economy of human rights (1979), Herman's The real terror network (1985), Alexander L. George' Western state terrorism (1991), Frederick Gareau's State terrorism and the United States (2004) and Doug Stokes' America's other war (2005). Of these, Chomsky and Herman are considered the foremost writers on the United States and state terrorism. Noam Chomsky  said:
The Obama administration is dedicated to increasing terrorism. In fact, it’s doing it all over the world.  Obama is running the biggest terrorist operation that exists, maybe in history:  the drone assassination campaigns, which are just part of it [...] All of these operations, they are terror operations.
People hate the country that’s just terrorizing them.  That’s not a surprise. Just consider the way we react to acts of terror. That’s the way other people react to [American] acts of terror.
Experts agrees that indiscriminate drone strikes are war crimes (more here andhere).
Chomsky has previously extensively documented U.S. terrorism.  As Wikipedia notes:
Chomsky and Herman observed that terror was concentrated in the U.S. sphere of influence in the Third World, and documented terror carried out by U.S. client states in Latin America. They observed that of ten Latin American countries that had death squads, all were U.S. client states.
They concluded that the global rise in state terror was a result of U.S. foreign policy.
In 1991, a book edited by Alexander L. George [the Graham H. Stuart Professor of Political Science Emeritus at Stanford University] also argued that other Western powers sponsored terror in Third World countries. It concluded that the U.S. and its allies were the main supporters of terrorism throughout the world.
The director of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan – Lt. General William Odom - noted:
Because the United States itself has a long record of supporting terrorists and using terrorist tactics, the slogans of today’s war on terrorism merely makes the United States look hypocritical to the rest of the world.

The former NSA and CIA agent Edward Snowden revealed that the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi was trained in Israel, various Iranien sources reported. 

Social Media Surveillance

The attacks in Paris and Beirut have all of us looking for answers. What can we do to stop this violence?
But while people around the world are grappling with that question, government officials are instead seizing the opportunity to renew their attacks on our most basic freedoms, even though they know it won’t make us safer from attacks.
Specifically, officials in the U.S. and Europe are pushing to ban strong encryption technology. (2) They want every type of Internet security to have a “backdoor” so that governments can access literally everything. Here’s the problem: weakening encryption will actually make us all less safe. Even if you trust governments to never abuse this system and only use it in the most extreme circumstances, once a backdoor exists, it can be used by anyone who can find it, including criminals, other governments, and yes, even terrorists. (3)
Fortunately, we’ve done a mountain of work over the last year educating the public and fighting this kind of misinformation, so more people than ever before know what’s really going on. Security experts agree that putting backdoors in encryption technology and letting the government collect even more of our personal information won’t prevent attacks like the ones we saw last week.
The battle lines are being drawn, but some powerful voices have been listening and are weighing in on the side of freedom and logic. The influential New York Times editorial board just came out swinging with the headline: “Mass surveillance is not the answer to fighting terrorism.” This is exactly the message leaders need to hear right now.
The details from Paris and Beirut are still emerging. The latest evidence suggests that the attackers were using totally unencrypted SMS messages. (4) The facts haven’t stopped politicians and pundits from demonizing encryption, but the reality is that it’s still not clear exactly how this happened, or how it could have been prevented.
What is clear is that now is not the time to make hasty decisions and rush to pass laws we’ve barely read. That path has failed us time and again. (5) Now is the time for informed, thoughtful, discussion about the causes of this violence and the real solutions to address it.
Weakening the encryption that protects our hospitals, power plants, airports, and personal information isn’t going to make us safer.
Collecting a giant haystack of data about hundreds of millions of innocent people is not going to stop the next attack.
We need real answers and solutions, not politicians scrambling spin this terrible situation to grab more power.
These decisions about encryption and mass surveillance will determine the type of world our children and our children’s children will live in. We shouldn’t let them be made for us by opportunistic politicians or violent attackers.
Yours for freedom and a better world, 
~ Fight for the Future
P.S. Here’s a link directly to the New York Times editorial. Please share it widely!
P.P.S. This is probably the only time you’ll see us rallying behind an NYT editorial. Savor the strangeness.

1. New York Times editorial board. “Mass Surveillance is Not The Answer to Fighting Terrorism” 
2. Huffington Post. “It’s Unclear if Paris Attackers Relied on Encryption. Lawmakers are Attacking it Anyway.” 
3. The Guardian. “Academics criticize NSA and GCHQ for weakening online encryption.” 
4. Techdirt. “After endless demonization of encryption, police find Paris attackers coordinated via unencrypted SMS” 
5. The Intercept. “From Paris to Boston, Terrorists Were Already Known to Authorities.”