Monday, December 28, 2015

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17-year-old arrested in Turkey’s north for ‘insulting Erdoğan’

A 17-year-old construction worker in the Thracian province of Tekirdağ was arrested on Dec. 28 for “insulting” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on social media.

Police was informed of a boy identified only by the initials F.E. who “insulted Erdoğan” in a post he shared on his Facebook account. F.E. was detained at this home in the Çorlu district following a police investigation into the post. 

A local court ruled for the arrest of F.E. on the grounds of “insulting Erdoğan” and he was transferred to Tekirdağ closed prison.

Reports have said the investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Since Erdoğan was elected as president last August, his lawyers have filed dozens of cases against alleged “insults” targeting him. 

In recent months, a schoolboy was detained by police in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri for allegedly “insulting” Erdoğan, though the boy was released when the court determined that he was only 14.

In addition, a man was also sentenced to electronically monitored home arrest for allegedly defaming Erdoğan following a prosecutor’s objection to his release after he was detained over the same charge.

Video Interview / Report - Donald Trump Too Radical for Infamous Ex-Ku Klux Klan Leader

David Duke, the notorious former KKK Grand Wizard, and former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, has stated that Donald Trump is a lot more radicalized than he is, an aspect he believes to be both a positive and a negative.

The comments were delivered in a strange video interview posted December 17 on the racist politician’s YouTube account. The video is labeled “Fox Interview,” but it’s unclear who conducted the interview, or whether it ever aired.

“As far as what I see, according to the candidates that are out there now, Republicans and Democrats, I think he’s head and shoulders right now above the rest,” Duke said. “I don’t agree with everything he says, he speaks a little more, actually he speaks a little more, a lot more radically than I talk. And I think that’s a positive and negative.”

The former KKK leader was, in the interview, critical of Trump’s support of Israel.

“It’s positive in the fact that there’s less political correctness and people are getting the courage to speak out,” Duke continued. “At the same time, I’m concerned that I don’t agree with all of his policies. I certainly don’t support the idea of America supporting the nation of Israel, which has committed terrorism against the United States of America, with the Lavon affair and the attack on the Liberty and the incredible treachery and the damage that was done by Israel with its spy Jonathan Pollard, who basically caused the death of hundreds of our operatives. I think, and I see this Jewish extremist, this basically Zionist, minority having enormous influence.”

On the other hand, the infamous zealot is pleased that the GOP front-runner is giving a voice to racist extremists and bigots across the nation.
“I think the appeal of Donald Trump is the fact that he’s giving voice to a lot of people, including, and I think he represents the rights of all people in this country, but he actually includes the values and the interests of the European-American majority, and I think that’s the underlying appeal behind his popularity.”

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Saudis deliberately target schools, kill kids in Yemen: Amnesty International

On Friday, the UK-based rights group released a report titled, "Our kids are bombed," wherein it expressed outrage at the Saudi airstrikes against schools in the provinces of Sana’a, Hajjah, and Hudaydah in western Yemen between August and October.
 On Friday, the UK-based rights group released a report titled, "Our kids are bombed," wherein it expressed outrage at the Saudi airstrikes against schools in the provinces of Sana’a, Hajjah, and Hudaydah in western Yemen between August and October.
In some of the attacks, which killed five civilians and injured at least 14 people, including four children, "the schools were struck more than once, suggesting the strikes were deliberately targeted," the rights group said.
"No evidence could be found in any of the five cases to suggest the schools had been used for military purposes," it added, saying that the resultant damage had disrupted the education of more than 6,500 children in those provinces.
The Saudi strikes were launched with the aim of undermining Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement and bringing the country’s fugitive former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a Riyadh ally, back to power.
Yemeni men walk past a building, damaged during a Saudi airstrike, in the capital, Sana’a, on November 29, 2015.
More than 7,500 people have been killed and over 14,000 others injured since the strikes began. The Saudi war has also taken a heavy toll on the Arabian Peninsula country’s facilities and infrastructure.
Saudi arms suppliers
Meanwhile, Lama Fakih, the senior crisis adviser at Amnesty, said it is "appalling that the US and other allies" of Riyadh "have continued to authorize arms transfers" to Saudi Arabia for bombing Yemen.
Last month, the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) likewise said Washington had to stop selling bombs to Saudi Arabia while Riyadh was engaged in war on neighboring Yemen.
“The US government is well aware of" the Saudi "indiscriminate air attacks that have killed hundreds of civilians in Yemen since March,” said HRW Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director Joe Stork.
“Providing the Saudis with more bombs under these circumstances is a recipe for greater civilian deaths, for which the US will be partially responsible,” he added.
Also in November, the US Defense Department announced that it had approved the sale of smart bombs worth USD 1.29 billion to Saudi Arabia, and that it was committed to supporting the Royal Saudi Air Force in the bombardment of Yemen.

Saudi Arabia's Anti-Terror 'Coalition' Is a House of Cards

Earlier this month Saudi Arabia's young and inexperienced Defense Minister announced a military coalition made up of nearly three dozen mainly Sunni Muslim-majority states, stretching from Morocco to Bangladesh. The Saudi-led alliance's stated purpose is to defeat global terrorism in five nations: Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, Iraq and Syria.
This followed months of increased pressure from Western officials on Gulf Arab nations to fight Daesh ('Islamic State') more forcefully. However, given the conflicting interests and lack of military experience on the part of the coalition's members, there is ample reason to conclude that this alliance lacks substance.

A 'Coalition' of the Weak, Divided and Unwilling
The Saudi-led 'coalition' includes Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Chad, Comoros, Cote d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Guinea, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE and Yemen. A number of these nations are failed states or just above that classification, beset by their own civil wars, Islamist insurgencies, and endemic corruption. Several are among the world's poorest countries.
For a variety of reasons, the announcement of this so-called 'coalition' was bizarre and surprising. The leaders of Pakistan - one of Saudi Arabia's most important allies - never officially agreed to join, and learned of their purported membership from news organizations. Similarly, Malaysian officials also expressed reservations and ruled out the possibility of Kuala Lumpur making any military contribution to the alliance.
Saudi Arabia and several other Gulf Arab states took part in the U.S.-led campaign against Daesh in September 2014. However, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members' contributions to the campaign were insignificant and came to an end after the coalition's initial missions were completed. Like Saudi Arabia, the smaller GCC members, particularly the UAE, have shown a deeper commitment to fighting the Houthi rebel movement in Yemen (viewed in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi as an extension of Iranian influence) in Yemen than to combatting Daesh in Iraq and Syria. It is unlikely that the GCC members' priorities will change in light of Riyadh's announcement.
Among the Saudi allies with relatively powerful militaries - including Turkey, Egypt and the UAE - it is doubtful they will cease to pursue their own respective interests, which certainly conflict. Ankara's top priorities in Syria entail toppling the Assad regime and preventing the Syrian Kurds from establishing a proto-state governed by a Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) affiliate group along Turkey's southern border. Overwhelming evidence demonstrates that NATO member Turkey has actively supported Daesh's sale of oil to the global markets in order to advance these two objectives.
As Russia has stepped up its direct military involvement in Syria to fight certain militias, which Saudi Arabia sponsors yet the Kremlin considers 'terrorist' organizations, it is difficult to imagine how the Riyadh-led coalition would interact with Moscow given the conflicting interests among the member nations. Saudi allies in Abu Dhabi, Amman, Cairo and Manama welcome Russia's intervention in Syria, sharing the Kremlin's interest in preserving the Syrian nation-state. On the other hand, Ankara and Doha staunchly oppose Russia's direct military intervention in Syria, as underscored by the Turkish military having shot down a Russian fighter jet last month. Such geopolitical divisions undermine the potential for Riyadh to unite the Sunni Muslim world against 'terrorism'.
Moreover, the stated objectives of this coalition are vague. Aside from Daesh, which other 'terrorist' groups in these five countries will this pan-Sunni alliance combat? Where will the intelligence to combat them be derived? Which countries in this coalition will deploy most of the troops? How many troops will be required to be effective?
Although many of these coalition members have combatted extremist groups unilaterally, the task of defining terrorism will be problematic if they are to effectively fight such organizations within the framework of a NATO-like alliance. Among these 34 states there is ample disagreement as to which non-state actors are 'terrorist' organizations.
Turkey, Sudan and Qatar support the Muslim Brotherhood across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Yet Egypt and the UAE consider the Islamist movement to be a terrorist organization. Saudi Arabia and other members of this coalition consider Hezbollah and other Iranian-sponsored Shi'ite militias in Syria and Iraq to be terrorist organizations. Given that these groups (along with the Syrian and Iranian militaries, and Kurdish fighters) serve as the most effective fighting force against Daesh, will the Saudi-led military coalition combat both Hezbollah in addition to the Daesh fighters? Certainly, the objectives of the coalition are unclear and most likely highly unrealistic.
All of these questions leave one wondering why Riyadh bothered to make this surprising announcement. The answer has to do with Iran, not Daesh. Given that Saudi Arabia's coalition deliberately omitted the 'axis of resistance' (Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanese Hezbollah), Riyadh is determined to create a pan-Sunni alliance committed to countering Iranian influence in the Arab world. The declaration of this alliance underscores new geopolitical realities in the Middle East, in which Washington left the Saudi leadership with the impression that the U.S. had abandoned much of its commitment to the kingdom's security in favor of a rapprochement with Iran, Riyadh's archrival. Saudi officials undoubtedly came to believe that they had little option to but to rely on itself and its perceived allies to establish a Sunni Muslim equivalent of NATO to provide a counter weight to Tehran.
The absence of a serious commitment on the GCC's part to fight against Daesh has been a source of frustration for many in Washington and other Western capitals. The Obama Administration and members of the U.S. Congress may issue statements expressing support for this anti-terrorism alliance led by Saudi Arabia. Yet both President Barack Obama and his successor will find Riyadh to be an awkward and highly problematic ally in the battle against groups such as Daesh. Given the history of the kingdom's religious establishment promoting anti-Shi'ism and other forms of religion-inspired bigotry, there is little reason to wonder why Saudi Arabia has more of its own citizens fighting on behalf of Daesh than any other nation in the world (apart from Tunisia).
Now that the caliphate has set its sights on the Kingdom, and has expressed its commitment to not only rid the Arabian Peninsula of Shi'ite Muslims, but also toppling the House of Saud, Riyadh faces an enemy largely of its own making. Despite Saudi Arabia's proclaimed 'coalition' against Daesh and other terror groups, the reality is that this unlikely and disparate collection of nations is unlikely to weaken the 'caliphate', as its members are neither capable nor interested in doing so. Indeed, if the Saudis were genuinely committed to weakening Daesh, officials in Riyadh would cease to finance religious schools worldwide that spread Wahhabism, Daesh's ideological foundation. Without making such efforts aimed at addressing this root cause of jihadist terrorism in the broken Middle East, there is little reason to expect this coalition to effectively weaken the 'Islamic State'.

Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas Is You

Video - China urges Japan to handle wartime sex slavery issue responsibly

Op-ed: China, a constructive mediator in Syrian crisis

Chinas recent invitations for a Syrian government representative and opposition partyrepresentative for talks show not only Chinas willingness to promote peace talks and aresolution of the crisisbut also Chinas commitment to its responsibilities as a majorpower.
China seizes the opportunity for crisis resolution
The Syrian crisis is now at a critical stageDuring the past five yearsthe Syriangovernment and the opposition party have been locked in a war of attritionand neitherside has been able to gain the upper hand.
As a result of this deadlockthere has been a growing willingness to resume peace talksbetween the two sides.
Russian intervention in the Syrian crisis has objectively helped the Bashar al-Assad regimeto consolidate its powerIf the West still insists on Bashars stepping down as aprerequisite to crisis resolutionthe anti-terrorism campaign will be hampered.
In this contextChinatogether with other U.NSecurity Council membersvoted forResolution 2254, injecting new impetus into a political solution for the crisis.
At presentChina hopes to build on the basic consensus reached by the internationalcommunity that the Syrian crisis should be solved politicallyand continue efforts topromote dialogue between the Syrian government and opposition party.
China mediates Syrian crisis
In talks with Syria and the U.NSecurity CouncilChina offered proposals regarding peacetalksceasefirehumanitarian aidthe fight against terrorism and economicreconstruction.
Chinas specific proposals include authorization of the Security Councils ceasefiremonitoring planand a peacekeeping operation when conditions permitThese proposalsare pertinent and highly operable.
China exerts influence on Syrian crisis
China sees “Three Principles of Persistence” as key to the peaceful solution of the crisis;namelyinsisting on a political solutioninsisting that the future of Syria should bedecided by its peopleand insisting on the U.Nas the key mediator.
All groups that favor a political solution and the removal of extreme terrorist activitiesshould be given a place at the peace talk tableIn this wayfurther antagonism can beavoided and all parties will feel welcome to sit down and talk.
A problem as complicated as the Syrian crisis cannot be solved by any single party orcountry aloneinsteadit requires the joint efforts of the international communityChinais willing to play a constructive role in pushing for a political solution for the Syrian crisis.

Lavrov, Kerry discuss threat to Minsk agreements, fight against Islamic State

In discussing Russian-American relations, Lavrov emphasized hopelessness of US sanction pressure on Russia, which only undermines possibilities of bilateral cooperation.

In a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov asked him to exert influence on Kiev to compel the Ukrainian authorities to strictly abide by the Minsk agreements, as well as urged the US not to set preconditions in the setting up of a united front to fight Islamic State, a terrorist group banned in Russia, the Foreign Ministry reported after the conversation initiated by the US. "The prospects of overcoming the crisis in Syria, including within the context of the talks between representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition organized by UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria, with a view to reaching a political settlement were discussed," the ministry said. "Lavrov also pointed to the need to abandon preconditions in creating a single front to fight against IS and other terrorist groups."

"The minister drew attention to the incident in which OSCE observers and a filming crew of VGTRK television came under fire from Ukrainian positions near the settlement of Kominternovo in Donbas," saying this put in jeopardy the Minsk agreements, the ministry reported. The Russia foreign minister "called on the US Secretary of State to use America’s influence on Kiev to have it strictly abide by its commitments under the Package of Measures agreed in Minsk," the ministry said. "In discussing Russian-American relations, Lavrov emphasized hopelessness of US action to build up sanction pressure on Russia, which only undermines possibilities of bilateral cooperation on pressing international issues, in which Washington constantly appeals to us for assistance in the their settlement," the report said. The ministry said the sides had also discussed practical implementation of the Joint Plan of Action on the settlement of the situation around Iran’s nuclear program.


German Politician - US Wars Created Daesh 'Monster'

The chairman of Germany’s The Left party and member of the Bundestag, Sahra Wagenknecht, bluntly accused the West, and the US in particular, of creating a Daesh “monster” by waging wars in the Middle East.

On Monday Wagenknecht told Germany's DPA news agency that the Daesh militant group would have had no chance of becoming so large and constituting a threat to world peace if not for US foreign policy and the way it has destabilized Syria.
"There would have been no IS [Daesh] if there was no war in Iraq," she explained. "The organization would not have been so strong if not for bombardments of Libya and destabilization in Syria. The West, first of all the United States, has made this monster bigger by their wars,"
The politician criticized Germany for protecting the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle earlier in December. She compared Germany's support for French airstrikes in Syria with the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, saying it is hypocritical to draw a line between civilian deaths in the Middle East and those in developed countries.
"Of course it is no less of a crime to murder innocent civilians in Syria with bombs than it is to shoot them in Parisian restaurants and concert halls," Wagenknecht stated.

Germany has traditionally been cautious about being engaged in military missions abroad. The country has consistently maintained that its military would not join the airstrikes currently being carried out by Russia and the US-led coalition. Wagenknecht has previously spoken in opposition of Germany's participation in the war.

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Video - A lot of people have Googled Trudeau in 2015. Here's what they asked

To fight, or not to fight? Trudeau must tackle these five pressing decisions in 2016

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made some ambitious promises shortly after sweeping to power, but he will have to lay out his plans for these high-stakes issues in the near future:
1. To fight, or not to fight?
The nature of Canada’s engagement in the coalition to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is the most pressing near-term decision. Trudeau has pledged repeatedly to pull Canada’s CF-18s out by March, but his defence chief, Harjit Sajjan, has been more equivocal about timing.
2. How deep in hock will we go? 
The Liberals have promised to run three deficits of $10 billion in their first three years, but a balanced budget by 2019 and keep the debt-to-GDP ratio on a downward track.
3. Are we climate leaders, climate laggards, or something in between? 
Before the Paris climate conference in November, Trudeau promised new greenhouse-gas-emission reduction targets within 100 days of the conference’s close Dec. 12, a mid-March deadline.
4. The Senate
A new non-partisan appointments process has been sketched out, offering few details as to how it will actually work.
5. Aboriginal issues 
Trudeau has pledged to resolve long-standing aboriginal grievances. An inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women is being convened.

Why Bernie Sanders Thinks He Can Win Trump's Supporters

Hillary Clinton Reveals Plan To Battle Alzheimer's Disease

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Tuesday announced a slate of proposals to battle Alzheimer's disease and seek a cure by 2025, including an increase in funding for research on the disease and related disorders.

Clinton called for a decade-long investment of $2 billion per year for research, which her campaign called a fourfold increase over last year's $586 million.

Clinton's campaign scheduled a conference call with reporters on Tuesday to discuss details of the proposal. Clinton, the front-runner for her party's nomination for the November 2016 presidential election, will discuss it later in the day in an appearance in Fairfield, Iowa.

"We owe it to the millions of families who stay up at night worrying about their loved ones afflicted by this terrible disease and facing the hard reality of the long goodbye to make research investments that will prevent, effectively treat and make a cure possible by 2025,” Clinton said in a statement.
Alzheimer’s is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that eventually destroys the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. More than 5 million Americans are estimated to have the disease, which the National Institute on Aging said is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

A cure for Alzheimer's could help provide some relief for caregivers, including the so-called sandwich generation - people providing care both for their children and their parents at the same time.
About 15 percent of middle-aged people are helping financially support both an aging parent and a child, according to the Pew Research Center. Older parents are likelier to need caregiving of some kind.

Clinton, the former secretary of state, has made boosting the middle class a centerpiece of her campaign and she has often spoken on the campaign trail about meeting supporters who are struggling to care for family members with Alzheimer's.

How Hillary Clinton Went Undercover to Examine Race in Education


 On a humid summer day in 1972, Hillary Rodham walked into this town’s new private academy, a couple of cinder-block classrooms erected hurriedly amid fields of farmland, and pretended to be someone else.
Playing down her flat Chicago accent, she told the school’s guidance counselor that her husband had just taken a job in Dothan, that they were a churchgoing family and that they were looking for a school for their son.
The future Mrs. Clinton, then a 24-year-old law student, was working for Marian Wright Edelman, the civil rights activist and prominent advocate for children. Mrs. Edelman had sent her to Alabama to help prove that the Nixon administration was not enforcing the legal ban on granting tax-exempt status to so-called segregation academies, the estimated 200 private academies that sprang up in the South to cater to white families after a 1969 Supreme Court decision forced public schools to integrate.
Her mission was simple: Establish whether the Dothan school was discriminating based on race.
“It was dangerous, being outsiders in these rural areas, talking about segregation academies,” said Cynthia G. Brown, a longtime education advocate who did work similar to Mrs. Clinton’s.
She added, “We thought we were part of the civil rights struggle, definitely.”
As issues of race and civil rights have become central to Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 campaign, and as Black Lives Matter activists have demanded more from her, she has frequently talked about her work for Mrs. Edelman’s Children’s Defense Fund, making her advocacy for children the backbone of the biographical story she tells voters. But her experience going undercover in Dothan is a little-known aspect of that work, one she devoted just under 300 words to in her 562-page memoir, “Living History.”
A look at Mrs. Clinton’s efforts that summer, through archives and interviews with more than 50 local officials, civil rights activists and people who knew her, reveals a summer job that was both out of character for the bookish law student and a moment of awakening.
Until her trip to Alabama, she had been relatively sheltered, her activism mostly confined to Ivy League debates and campus turmoil. Like many white activists from the North who traveled south to help on civil rights issues, Mrs. Clinton confronted a different world in Dothan, separate and unequal, and a sting of injustice she had previously only read about.
“I went through my role-playing, asking questions about the curriculum and makeup of the student body,” Mrs. Clinton wrote in “Living History.” “I was assured that no black students would be enrolled.”
Segregation Persists
In 1972, Mrs. Edelman’s Washington Research Project, which later became the Children’s Defense Fund, and other groups published a seminal report, “It’s Not Over in the South: School Desegregation in 43 Southern Cities 18 Years After Brown.” That year, an estimated 535,000 students attended private schools in the South, compared with 25,000 in 1966.
Mrs. Clinton was one of a handful of young researchers and interns who worked in Washington reviewing documents, looking into the schools that had been granted tax exemptions, and coordinating with activists and lawyers in the South who had been at the forefront of integration efforts.
After Mrs. Clinton spent several weeks studying the issue and establishing relationships in Atlanta and Alabama, she and other researchers were sent to different parts of the South to gather data and report firsthand on the private schools. They delivered their findings to Mrs. Edelman’s and other advocacy groups that were trying to pressure the Nixon administration.
Civil rights lawyers had had success in sending “testers” to investigate whether white and black couples received equal treatment in home rentals and purchases, as required by the Fair Housing Act, but going undercover to test private schools was less common and carried more risks.
“At the time, people were sort of suspicious about outsiders,” said Charles C. Bolton, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro who has done extensive research on education in the South. “But they were also quick to make assumptions that all white people shared their views.”
Mrs. Clinton declined requests for an interview about her efforts to investigate segregation academies. But historical documents, descriptions of her work from friends and from others engaged in the issue, and Mrs. Clinton’s writings and public comments suggest that her trip to Dothan took her far out of her comfort zone.
She had graduated from Wellesley in 1969, and in the spring of 1971, at Yale Law School, had met Bill Clinton. That summer, the couple shared a small apartment not far from the University of California, Berkeley, while Mrs. Clinton worked at a law firm in Oakland, mostly writing legal briefs in a child custody case, according to “Living History.” They returned to Yale and lived together in a ground-floor apartment in New Haven that cost $75 a month.
In summer 1972, Mr. Clinton was in Miami working on George McGovern’s presidential campaign when Mrs. Clinton traveled from Washington to Atlanta to meet with civil rights lawyers and activists, then rented a car and drove the nearly four hours to Dothan.
Hillary was not a derring-do type of person. It wasn’t her normal mode,” said Taylor Branch, the civil rights activist and author, who was a close friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton at the time. “But,” he added, “you do these things when you’re young, and this was the era when young people did more of that than normal.”
In Dothan, Mrs. Clinton most likely stayed at the Holiday Inn on Ross Clark Circle, since locally owned hotels might have been suspicious of a single woman with black acquaintances, several people who did the same work said. While Mrs. Clinton favored corduroy bell-bottoms for casual wear, the dress code for the investigative work called for conservative blouses and skirts, her colleagues said.
She drove over the railroad tracks near downtown, east of Park Avenue, to the black part of town. There, she met local contacts who told her over a lunch of sweetened ice tea and burgers “that many of the school districts in the area were draining local public schools of books and equipment to send to the so-called academies, which they viewed as the alternatives for white students,” she wrote in “Living History.”
Years later, Mrs. Clinton does not say she ever felt afraid, but a white woman traveling alone in the South would have been “looking over her shoulder,” said Marlene Provizer, who did similar research into segregation academies in Mississippi and Georgia in the same era.
“There weren’t many folks doing this work,” she said. “I was very conscious of being ‘the other.’ ”
Blending In
With a nuclear plant under construction on the nearby Chattahoochee River, along with the Army base at Fort Rucker, outsiders were moving to Dothan, a city of 37,000 then, named after Genesis 37:17: “They have gone away, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’ ” “In a smaller town or had she gone to Mississippi, she wouldn’t have gotten away with it,” said Steve Suitts, the founding executive director of the Alabama Civil Liberties Union, who has worked on the issue of private academies since the late 1960s. “People would have asked around about who she was and why she was down there and who her husband was and where they went to church.”
The local real estate agents, the bankers, the Baptist pastors and even the elected officials encouraged new families — if they were white and Christian — to consider Houston Academy, the new private academy just outside town that was able to operate because the I.R.S. granted the school tax-exempt status, according to several former students. Mrs. Clinton does not name the school in her book, but according to public records and tax filings, Houston Academy was the only private school founded in Dothan at the time that had requested and received a tax exemption. People who worked on the issue in Alabama then said the school would have been Houston Academy. The summer Mrs. Clinton was in Dothan, the pages of the local paper, The Dothan Eagle, erupted with editorials and angry letters from readers concerned about the effects of school integration. “The arbitrary, compulsory integration of black and white children in the classrooms in massive numbers simply does not work,” read an editorial titled “School Integration Becomes Intolerable.” In an interview last month with Joe Madison, a black activist and radio host, Mrs. Clinton described her job in Dothan as “frankly, posing as a white parent” to “elicit information.”
In order to receive a tax exemption, Houston Academy was required to place an ad in The Eagle publicizing its “open enrollment” policy. School officials told The Birmingham News in 1970, “No black students have been accepted because no black students applied.”
Bob Moore, the original headmaster at Houston Academy, described the school in a recent interview as “just three slabs of concrete and a couple side walls” when Mrs. Clinton visited.
Mr. Moore and his wife, Dollie, who edited the school’s yearbook, The Cavalier, still live in their ranch-style home near Houston Academy, now an elite college preparatory school. “I’m not saying it didn’t happen,” Mr. Moore said of Mrs. Clinton’s account. “But I am saying I know nothing about it.”
In 1972, attending Houston Academy cost less than $750 a year, or less than $4,300 in today’s dollars. The town’s directories listed the academy as a public school because it was not affiliated with a church. Marty Olliff, an associate professor of history and director of the Wiregrass Archives at Troy University’s Dothan campus, said he did not doubt Mrs. Clinton’s story but suggested that the exchange at the school would have been less direct than what she has described in her book and on the campaign trail. What would have kept black people out “would have been the tuition,” Dr. Olliff said. “Not ‘you’re black, you can’t come in.’ ” D. Taylor Flowers, the chairman of the board of Houston Academy, whose father was a founding board member, was in the ninth grade at the school (which locals call “H.A.,” jokingly saying it stands for “holy Anglo”) when Mrs. Clinton visited. “I've heard the story, and I don’t think Hillary Clinton made it up,” he said over lunch in Dothan. The school was founded to prepare students for college, not as a segregation academy, Mr. Flowers said. But, he added, “I would be disingenuous if I said integration didn’t have anything to do with” parents’ enrolling their children in Houston Academy. “Integration was a huge social change for us.”
Over in a Minute
Mrs. Clinton spent part of that summer working on the issue of segregation academies, and only a couple of days in Dothan. But in many ways, her work on segregation academies best encapsulated her “commitment to pragmatism” in the struggle for equal rights, as her college adviser at Wellesley, Alan H. Schechter, described it. Decades later, when young Black Lives Matter activists confronted Mrs. Clinton backstage at a New Hampshire campaign event on what she would do about racial injustice, she articulated the approach she had adopted that summer in Alabama.
“I don’t believe you change hearts,” she told them. “I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate.” But if Mrs. Clinton’s experience in Dothan opened her eyes to discrimination, it also provided an early education in the obstacles inherent in trying to enact social change through fact-finding and policy papers. Ms. Brown, the education advocate who also investigated segregation academies, estimated that maybe one or two of these private schools had lost their tax-exempt status, despite years of work and multiple reports filed to the federal Department of Health, Education and Welfare. “Nixon was president then, and he wasn’t going to do anything about it,” she said.
Houston Academy maintains its tax-exempt status. Today, its once bare-bones campus has a country-club feel. White columns adorn the front entrance, and the admissions office that Mrs. Clinton would have visited is now decorated with a kaleidoscope of flags of Ivy League schools.
On a recent afternoon, students in uniforms of khaki shorts and blue polo shirts ate lunch in a maze of manicured courtyards with waterfalls. The farmland that once surrounded the school is now an upper-middle-class subdivision.
In 2013, eight of Houston Academy’s 527 students were black, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The current headmaster, Scott Phillipps, said that nearly 10 percent of the students were minorities, including blacks, Indians, Latinos and Asians, and that the school, which costs around $10,000 a year, offered scholarships and tried to lure students and teachers of diverse backgrounds.
“If you want to narrowly define diversity in terms of African-Americans, that’s kind of Old South,” Dr. Phillipps said. “We’re trying to be global.”
In August 1972, when Mrs. Clinton had completed her research into segregation academies, she joined Mr. Clinton in Austin to help register voters in South Texas. She then returned to New Haven to complete her law degree, and went on to other projects for the Children’s Defense Fund before moving to Arkansas, marrying Mr. Clinton and beginning her legal and political career. The proliferation of private schools in the South “was a gigantic event, and it blew the minds of civil rights folks and took the wind out of their sails,” said Douglas A. Blackmon, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center who is working on a documentary about the effects of segregation academies.
“But in a minute, it was over,” he said of the effort to combat such schools. “And the well-intentioned work Hillary described was no match for the absolute insistence of millions of Southern whites that their kids never go to school with black kids.”

Video - President Obama's Interview With NPR's Steve Inskeep - December 21st , 2015

Video - President Obama Has A Question For His Successor

President Obama and Hillary Clinton Named Most Admired Man, Woman in the World

Melissa Chan
President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are the most admired man and woman in the world in 2015, according to a new Gallup survey that shows Pope Francis and Donald Trump tied for second place.
Obama and Clinton top the poll this year by wide margins, with the Democratic presidential front-runner being named the most-admired woman for the 20th time with 13 percent, according to poll results released Monday. Obama earned 17 percent and has made the list now eight times.
Pope Francis and Trump tied for runner up with 5 percent each, followed by Bernie Sanders, Bill Gates, Ben Carson, the Dalai Lama and George W. Bush. On the women’s side, 2014 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Malala Yousafzai came in second. Oprah Winfrey, First Lady Michelle Obama, Carly Fiorina and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also made the list.
A random selection of 824 adults was surveyed for the poll this year by telephone between Dec. 2 and Dec. 6. The margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.


By Jamie Barnett
The yellow ribbon has become an iconic American symbol for a heartfelt welcome home, with all of the comforts and care that home connotes. I remember yellow ribbons first for the American hostages in Iran in 1981, but then I saw them for my comrades-in-arms and me when I came home from Saudi Arabia in the First Gulf War. And in my last job in the Navy as deputy commander of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, I saw yellow ribbons as we welcomed back our sailors from service on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, disarming IEDs, protecting dams and sea-based oil rigs, and re-building the infrastructure. I am extremely proud of their service and that pride fueled the warmth of the welcome home.
But our veterans deserve more than yellow ribbons and parades. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have added some 2.5 million new veterans to the millions still living from previous U.S. conflicts. These men and women of action deserve our action. America makes a solemn vow to the men and women who serve the military: Dedicate your life to the protection and well-being of the United States, and we will care for those who have borne the battle and their families. This means those who have served should, at a bare minimum, have timely access to top-notch healthcare and educational opportunities aimed at capitalizing on their unique experiences and skills sets for competitive civilian jobs.
A lot of people might be surprised to know that Secretary Hillary Clinton has long been a leader on this front. I am not talking about speeches; she has actually made tangible progress for veterans. No other presidential candidate comes close to her record of accomplishment for veterans and their families. She has worked with, and will continue to work with, Republicans and Democrats alike to improve the quality of life for veterans, service members, and their families.
One particularly enlightening example was her fight to expand military healthcare benefits to reservists and guardsmen — as well as to their loved ones — guaranteeing that they were covered by Tricare even when they were not deployed. Before she, along with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, fought to expand these service members’ access to Tricare, they were only covered while on active duty orders and for a limited time afterward. Not only was it a travesty that some military families didn’t have healthcare, but it posed a serious hurdle in military readiness for today’s expeditionary force. She was able to include this provision in the FY2005 National Defense Authorization Act, when nearly 40 percent of Americans serving in Iraq were reservists. The next year, she partnered with future Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on working to increase the gratuity paid to families of those who perish in service to the country from $12,000 to $100,000 (over and above any service members’ life insurance).
While in the Senate, Secretary Clinton also championed legislation signed into law to broaden protections under the Family and Medical Leave Act for family members of wounded Sailors, airmen, soldiers, and Marines. This protects the jobs of family member caregivers so they can focus on looking after their spouse, parent, or child, and not whether they will still have a job when they try to go back to work.
She also knows that the VA has not lived up to its mission in recent years and something must be done about it. The VA’s problems will not be found in privatizing veterans’ medical care — that doesn’t mean we can’t learn some lessons from business, but the needs of those who have sacrificed the most for their country should never be trumped by the bottom line. Secretary Clinton’s policy proposals show she fully understands that we must fix the systemic problems plaguing the VA by first tackling the outrageous wait times veterans face when seeking care, streamlining the claims process, and giving veterans a workable appeals process. The proposal is in depth and detailed, and tackles each of these problems one by one.
Take, for instance, the claims process. First, she will simplify the benefits claims process by eliminating barriers between DoD and VA processes and combining their medical evaluations. She will also promote the expanded use of “fully developed claims” and implement rules-based automatic adjudication, both of which will make processing claims faster and more efficient. She will also ensure the appeals process has the resources it needs to make sure the VA does right by those who serve their nation in uniform.
Second, she will strengthen ties and information sharing between the VA and DoD so these agencies can better plan and prepare for future waves of VA claims. Doing so will give these the agencies far better anticipation, allowing them to surge resources well in advance to avoid out-of-control claims backlogs.
Lastly, she will launch an Innovation Initiative, connecting the VA with the brightest minds in business, academia, and civilian service organizations. These groups can help the VA develop the dynamic solutions necessary to better manage current problems like the benefits claims and appeals process, while putting the best ideas to work toward meeting future challenges.
She knows that it is not just about fixing VA’s medical systems, but about modernizing the full spectrum of veterans’ benefits. Our contract with veterans does not end with their medical concerns — we must follow through with education and jobs. I know from my own experience, both in and out of government after I retired from the Navy, that military training can lead to professional success as a civilian. Secretary Clinton has pledged to expand jobs programs with private companies so that our veterans can succeed once they are out of uniform. That means ensuring the GI Bill can be used to cover education for tomorrow’s jobs and strengthening ties with leading private sector companies and labor groups. And to promote the hiring of veterans across the board, she will look to make permanent existing tax credits, like the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, for companies that employ veterans and expand incentives for employers to make workplace adjustments for disabled veterans.
Another prime area set for Secretary Clinton’s attention is helping those that may fall through the legal system’s cracks by expanding Veterans Treatment Courts. These courts, which emphasize treating mental health and substance abuse over simply punishment, are practical alternatives to traditional criminal prosecution for veterans who commit minor offenses that are aggravated by these conditions.
Most veterans are tired of hearing empty political promises from candidates every few years only to be forgotten once they take office — and then suddenly being remembered again during reelection season. To maintain focus and momentum on her veterans agenda, Clinton is promising to convene a White House Summit on Veterans. It will meet early and often to hold ALL those in her administration accountable for veterans’ policies and programs. Veterans’ advocacy has to be bigger than just the VA; her proposal for a President’s Council on Veterans, focused on an all-of-government approach, is unique in recognizing how our promise to veterans remains, at best, incomplete.
George Washington knew how central to America and its security the treatment of veterans is. In a statement widely attributed to him, he said, “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by our nation.” Not just yellow ribbons. Action. I trust Secretary Clinton to take effective action because she already has a proven track record of doing so for veterans and their families. And she is the only one in the race who has such a record. For American veterans and their families, I support Secretary Clinton.

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Pashto Music - Sardar Ali Takkar - مناجات ـ اُستاد پسرلې

Video - PM Modi's speech at the inauguration of the new Parliament building of Afghanistan - Dec 24, 2015

Female Antipolio Volunteer Shot Dead In Afghanistan

Afghan officials say two unidentified gunmen have shot and killed a female polio campaigner and seriously wounded her teenage granddaughter in the southern city of Kandahar.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack that took place in the morning of December 28. 
The gunmen fled the scene, but security forces have launched a search operation to find them, a government spokesman said.
Kandahar health officials said the pair were eradication-campaign volunteers, going house to house when they were targeted. 
"Today was the last day of the campaign and as the workers were leaving a house, the gunmen opened fire on them and fled," senior health official Abdul Qayum Pukhla told Reuters.
Militants in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan accuse antipolio health workers of being spies and say the polio vaccinations are part of a plot to sterilize Muslims.
Despite some violent opposition to vaccination in Afghanistan, its anti-polio campaign has had remarkable success for a nation at war.
The number of polio cases in Afghanistan has fallen from 63 in 1999 to just 14 in 2013. 
Only eight new cases have been confirmed this year, compared with 108 in Pakistan. 

Robert Fisk: You won't hear it, but news from Afghanistan is bad

Isis men are now fighting in their thousands in the country we arrived to “liberate” 14 years ago, quite apart from tens of thousands of Taliban “pushing” in to their “heartland” around Sangin
Sure, Kunduz was captured by the Taliban – but then the Afghans got it back (though minus one American-bombed hospital, along with most of its patients and doctors).
Sure, Sangin was captured by the Taliban – but now the Afghan army is fighting to get it back. But didn’t more than a hundred British soldiers die to hold Sangin? Sure, but American troops in Iraq died to hold and keep Mosul – and Mosul is now the home of the Isis leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. And US troops in Iraq died to capture Fallujah, then lost it, and died all over again to recapture it – and Fallujah is now in the hands of Isis.
We don’t do “bad news” from Afghanistan or Iraq. It’s like a movie, replayed over and over again each Christmas. Just two weeks ago, General John F Campbell, the US commander of American and Nato forces in the country, admitted that Isis has surfaced in Afghanistan.
There could be 3,000 or 4,000 or 5,000 Isis men who are now trying to consolidate links to their “mothership” in Iraq and Syria; note the Hollywood language here. Isis wants to establish its pre-Afghan “Khorasan Province” in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province.
But Obama assures us that America’s “commitment to Afghanistan and its people endures” and Afghan forces are “fighting for their country bravely and tenaciously” and “continue to hold most [sic] urban areas”. Taliban successes were “predictable”, the US president says, but almost 10,000 troops will remain in Afghanistan – even though the war is over – and 14 months ago, David Cameron told our own chaps that their achievements in Afghanistan “will live for ever”. Not any more.
As our very own ex-chief of the general staff, General Dannatt, said last week, he was “not surprised” by the fall of Sangin. Not at all. After all, “we always knew that the situation once we left Sangin would be difficult. We left Afghanistan in a situation where the Afghans were in control and the future was in their hands. It is not a great surprise that the Taliban have continued to push in southern Afghanistan, it’s their heartland.” So Isis men are now fighting in their thousands in the country we arrived to “liberate” 14 years ago, quite apart from tens of thousands of Taliban “pushing” in to their “heartland” around Sangin (so much for Cameron’s stuff about achievements living for ever). And yet Obama tells Americans that in the corrupt Afghan government, the US has “a serious partner”, a “stable and committed ally” to prevent “future threats”.
It was in 1940, when German soldiers were swarming into France – a rather more dangerous swarm than the one Cameron obsesses about in exactly the same area today – that Churchill decided to tell Britons the truth. “The news from France is very bad…” he began. And British soldiers, in their thousands, were dying to stem the invasion. Their “achievement” was not victory, but Dunkirk.
Yet we are not permitted to use this same expression – “very bad” – about Afghanistan. No, Cameron had to talk about an “achievement”, and now the mother of a terribly wounded soldier speaks of her “desperate sense of waste”. For Gen Dannatt, the future’s up to those Afghan army chappies now. No big deal; we always knew the Taliban would fight on.
You only have to read Afghan journalists’ reports from the country to know that even the old Churchillian “very bad” is a bit on the optimistic side. Take the case of the Shia Muslim Hazara Afghans taken from a bus on the way to Kabul this year. The lads from Isis stopped the bus, abducted 30 Shias and wanted to exchange them for familyprisoners – Uzbeks, it seems – in Afghan government hands.
The captives were subjected to the usual Isis treatment: at least one beheading, days of beatings, more videos of the Shias wearing suicide belts. Only after nine months were they freed, after an armed assault on their Isis captors by the Taliban. Yes, the bad guys suddenly turned into the good guys, the same bad guys who have captured Sangin, but are now fighting the even-more horrid bad guys. If this wasn’t tragic, it would be farce.
And, just for good measure, take the recent local story in Afghanistan about poor Qais Rahmani who, along with his family and four-month-old baby, set off among the refugee army to Europe and in Turkey boarded a boat to Greece which almost immediately sank.
Qais’s baby died in his arms. Just another Alan Kurdi, you may say, but what struck Afghans was that Qais was a well-known television presenter, his wife and family university-educated. The Rahmanis were not from the poor and huddled masses.
They were middle class, the very people who should have wanted to stay and build the new Afghanistan and to work for their government, which is – I quote Obama again – “working to combat corruption, strengthen institutions, and uphold the rule of law”.
So just stand back and look at the script. The Taliban ended the lawless regime of the Afghan militias and controlled almost all of Afghanistan by 1996. But it also sheltered al-Qaeda post 9/11. So we invaded Afghanistan to destroy both al-Qaeda and the vile misogynist, murderous and undemocratic Taliban.
But the Taliban was not conquered. And now it is winning. And today, we surely want it to fight against the even more vile, misogynist and murderous Isis. Which is why, tucked away at the end of his peroration to the American people,
Obama said that everyone should “press the Taliban… to do their part in the pursuit of the peace the Afghans deserve”. So the horrid Taliban can become the good, brave Taliban again. Truly, the news from Afghanistan must be very bad.