Sunday, December 17, 2017

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US and Saudi Arabia arms significantly enhanced Isis’ military capabilities, report reveals

Bethan McKernan - @mck_beth

    Number of US and Saudi supplied weapons in Isis’ hands goes 'far beyond those that would have been available through battle capture alone'.
    An extensive field investigation into the origins of Isis’ weaponry in Syria and Iraq has found that weapons supplied by the US and Saudi Arabia to the Syrian opposition often ended up in the jihadis’ hands, enhancing the “quantity and quality” of their armaments. 
    While most weapons in Isis’ arsenal were captured from the Syrian and Iraqi armies, Conflict Armament Research (CAR)’s report, published on Thursday, found that the number of US and Saudi supplied weapons in Isis’ arsenal goes “far beyond those that would have been available through battle capture alone”.
    “Iraq and Syria have seen Isis forces use large numbers of weapons, supplied by states such as Saudi Arabia and the United States, against the various international anti-Isis coalitions that the two states support,” researchers found.
    The US and Saudi supplied weapons were all manufactured in EU countries, and Washington and Riyadh had broken contractual clauses prohibiting their transfer, CAR said.
    “Evidence collected by CAR indicates that the United States has repeatedly diverted EU-manufactured weapons and ammunition to opposition forces in the Syrian conflict. Isis forces rapidly gained custody of significant quantities of this material,” it said. 
    “[The findings are] a stark reminder of the contradictions inherent in supplying weapons into armed conflicts in which multiple competing and overlapping non-state armed groups operate.”
    The analysis of more than 40,000 items found that in total, however, about 90 per cent of the weapons and ammunition overall were made in Russia, China and Eastern Europe.

      Three per cent of Isis’ arsenal was Nato-grade. The report also found that over the last three years had been able to produce its own military-grade weapons and standardise production across the so-called caliphate.

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      #Jerusalem announcement - Right decision. Wrong decider

      Joshua Hammerman

      I can sum up last week’s Jerusalem announcement in six words:

      Right decision. Questionable timing. Wrong decider.

      Right decision:
      The 1947 partition plan, which Israel not only accepted, but incorporated into its Declaration of Independence, designated Jerusalem as an international city. So it was understandable that, when Israel declared its independence half a year later, in May of 1948, that no country, including the US, would have recognized Jerusalem as the capital. It wasn’t yet part of Israel.
      Later on, things got much more complicated, and once it was clear that Jerusalem would be Israel’s capital, America had a number of opportunities to recognize it as Israel’s capital while still maintaining “honest broker” status in peace negotiations.
      Bret Stephens laid out a solid case for the soundness of the decision in an op-ed last weekend. I have no argument with his points. Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. Every world leader has gone there. Sadat visited the Knesset. Popes and presidents have visited government offices there. As Shmuel Rosner put it last week, “Jerusalem is Israel’s Capital? Duh.”
      But the timing is questionable.
      I wish the US had done this years ago, as part of the diplomatic initiatives it has undertaken over the years. When the US sold AWACS to the Saudis, this carrot would have been very welcome, and given the imbalance of that deal, the Saudis would have had a hard time complaining. During the bus bombings of the early 2000s, this carrot would have been embraced by a beleaguered Israeli populace and would have sent a clear message to Palestinians that terrorism has  consequences. George W Bush’s 2004 letter to Prime Minister Sharon, which enshrined the idea that Israel would not be expected to yield the main settlement blocs in any final peace negotiations, was in fact a much more radical step than simply saying that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. The US also could have done it during the Clinton era negotiations, as a stick to keep the Palestinians at the table. They could have done it when Rabin was murdered or at other times when Israel really needed support from its closest friend. In short there were many chances to do it where it could have had a positive impact on what Bush 43 called “The Roadmap” in that 2004 letter.
      So why now?
      Yes, there are signs that the Sunni world, led by Saudi Arabia, has fatigued of the Palestinian — Israel conflict and could be realigning alongside Israel against Iran. There are signs that Palestinians are weakened and have lost faith in their leaders, and yes, to this point, the response has not been as violent as many had feared. But that can change in a millisecond — and the Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff suggests that in Gaza things are heating up for real. Enough rockets have been shot toward Israel over the past few days to indicate that it’s more than a random attempt to let off steam. Had Hamas succeeded in kidnapping Israeli soldiers, a plan thwarted this week on the West Bank, we would already be in the midst of a dangerous spiral leading almost certainly to war. Meanwhile, Jewish teens in a Swedish synagogue were firebombed this week, and the New York subways were too (fortunately, poorly), with the perpetrators referencing the Jerusalem decision. There is no excuse for terror, nor should such threats keep us from making bold, calculated risks for peace. But there is also no doubting that the short-term impact of Trump’s gambit was to make the world a more dangerous place.
      All of this downside and there is no upside. There is no “road map” anymore – no one even uses road maps anymore. Everyone has moved on to their own version of Waze. If Trump’s announcement had been part of a comprehensive, coordinated diplomatic strategy, we would have seen Israel and the US respond instantly in a manner that would have capitalized on the moment to reduce tensions and not increase them.
      Since there have been no follow up announcements by either the US or Israeli government designed reduce tensions, we can only assume that the timing of this decision was not diplomatic at all — assuming that the State Department has any diplomats left, much less a real diplomatic strategy.
      That leaves us with some combination of three possibilities: 1) it was impulsive, 2) it was diversionary and 3) it was purely political, designed to appeal to US evangelicals and, most specifically, the huge number of evangelical voters in Alabama, 80 percent of whom voted for Roy Moore this week. In other words, the only reason I can think of why this decision was announced last Wed., just two days before President Trump was to go all-in for Moore at a rally in Florida, and just a week before a special election, was to rile up evangelical voters who see Jewish control of Jerusalem as part of their end time aspirations.
      And for that, people have died and many more could still, and the prospects for a two-state solution have only gotten dimmer.
      Let’s play that back. The fate of the most sensitive square mile on earth was tossed around like a football simply to win a few more votes for Roy Moore on Tuesday.
      And how’d that work out for ya?
      Which brings us to the third part of my statement.
      Let me put it this way. If a someone were to stand on Mulholland Drive and flick a match into the tinderbox hills surrounding Los Angeles, and that person’s identity became known, what would happen to that person? How many years would s/he spend in jail for acting so irresponsibly?
      Jerusalem is arguably the most combustible diplomatic tinderbox ever known to humankind. President Trump tossed a match into it. It gave many Israelis and other Jews a terrific sugar high but little else, nor was Israel even asked to give something in return, as Thomas Friedman wrote. It was the art of no-deal.
      I will not litigate here all the concerns I have about this president, save to say that almost daily we see yet another affront to core Jewish values, as demonstrated just this week in two extremely alarming articles and a tweet from beneath the gutter.
      A year ago, right after Election Night, I promised my congregants that I would remain vigilant but also give the benefit of the doubt, and I prayed for the new president’s success. Sadly, many of my fears have been borne out, which poses a dilemma for someone, like me, who wishes both to be vigilant and charitable. Right now, vigilance must trump all else. I respect those who choose the celebrate the decision to recognize Jerusalem; I am simply unable to separate the decision from the decider.
      I found the accolades by Jewish groups, including my own Conservative Jewish leadership, to be perilously short sighted. Yes, supporting a just decision that should have been made decades ago is an easy choice, an “apple pie” issue. But given the extreme nature of the dangers we face right now, I believe those groups that have fallen in line are mistaken. It gives me no pleasure to say this. For them, it’s more about the decision. For me, it’s all about the decider, the dangers our democracy is facing, and how I will not allow myself to be an enabler.
      Had this decision been made by any other president at any time, I’d have been cheering as well. If Chester Arthur had recognized the Jewish right to Jerusalem, I’d have been down with it (Arthur was actually pretty good to the Jews).
      I will never forget thee, O Jerusalem… but neither will I become complicit to someone that could lead Jerusalem – and the world – down a very dangerous path.


      US President Donald Trump’s words were intended to placate the Palestinians, as he explicitly stated that the American position on the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty had not changed.
      The historic announcement on December 6, 2017, that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, evoked both expressions of support and waves of protest. However, it seemed that many did not understand the full significance of what President Trump described as the “recognition of reality.” He stated explicitly that the American position on the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty had not changed, and said indirectly that American recognition of Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s “capital” only applied to that part of the reality that is not disputed by the Palestinians and Arab states. Moreover, while Israeli expressions of satisfaction with the American president’s move are justified, if the leaders of neighboring Arab states that are considered US allies – Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia – analyze his words carefully, they will understand they contain nothing that contradicts the Arab peace initiative.
      The first country to recognize Israel after it declared its independence in 1948, was also the first to formally recognize Jerusalem as its capital. Throughout the world, and particularly in the Middle East, religious and nationalist movements have challenged the validity of states and borders as defined in the past. Therefore, there is more than symbolism in the move by President Trump, who, inter alia, based the recognition on the ancient connection of the Jewish people to its capital.
      As expected, President Trump’s announcement evoked both expressions of support and waves of protest. The Muslim and Arab world, divided for many years, found in the president’s announcement, something to divert attention from the frustration, despair, and disappointment caused by the failure of the awakening called the “Arab Spring.” The announcement boosted reconciliation efforts between the Palestinians’ two ideological-geographical sectors, as it was easy for all parties involved to unite around the subject of Jerusalem. In Israel, the debate intensified – between supporters of concessions in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria for the sake of full peace with the Palestinians – and those who proclaim the unquestioned right of the Jewish people to all these places. And in the European Union, two member states prevented a joint statement by foreign ministers that criticized the announcement. As expected, President Trump’s announcement evoked both expressions of support and waves of protest. The Muslim and Arab world, divided for many years, found in the president’s announcement, something to divert attention from the frustration, despair, and disappointment caused by the failure of the awakening called the “Arab Spring.” The announcement boosted reconciliation efforts between the Palestinians’ two ideological-geographical sectors, as it was easy for all parties involved to unite around the subject of Jerusalem. In Israel, the debate intensified – between supporters of concessions in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria for the sake of full peace with the Palestinians – and those who proclaim the unquestioned right of the Jewish people to all these places. And in the European Union, two member states prevented a joint statement by foreign ministers that criticized the announcement.
      However, it seemed that although many had heard or read the declaration, they had skipped a key sentence or were ignoring its significance. Trump said: “Today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more, or less than a recognition of reality.” The reality that was partly described by the president himself is that all the official institutions of the State of Israel are located in the western part of the city. However, Israel also applied Israeli law to the land that was annexed to Jerusalem in 1967, including east Jerusalem and surrounding villages and refugee camps. A partial response to any charge that the president avoided the reality that was created in the city after 1967, was given by Trump when he said: “We are not taking a position on any final-status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved.”
      Trump’s words were intended to placate the Palestinians, as he explicitly stated that the American position on the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty had not changed, and indirectly said that American recognition of Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s “capital” only applied to that part of the reality that is not disputed by the Palestinians and Arab states. These words should have also cooled the reactions of many Israelis in the various political camps who rejoiced at the declaration. But both inside and outside Israel the more modest meaning was ignored. Some in Israel even compared the statement to the century-old Balfour Declaration, which recognized the Jewish people’s right to a national home in the Land of Israel – although the two are only identical these aspects: the recognition by a leading power of the Jewish people’s right to a national home, and the recognition of the Jewish state’s right to determine its own capital.
      President Trump’s announcement prompted surprisingly harsh reactions, beyond what might have been expected, particularly since it is not clear if those reactions are based on an accurate reading of his text. Some came from leaders and foreign policy decision-makers around the world who specifically referred to a change in the status quo in Jerusalem, allegedly deriving that from the announcement itself. The reactions were surprising because some of them came from the representatives of countries that recognize the reality cited by Trump and conduct themselves in accordance this reality, exactly like the United States. The president of the State of Israel hosts heads of state and their representatives at his residence in Jerusalem, as does the prime minister. Heads of state have given speeches at the Knesset in Jerusalem, including former president of Egypt Anwar Sadat. Foreign ambassadors, who are obliged to submit their credentials to the sovereign power of the country to which they are assigned, do so at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem. Official institutions, such as most government ministries and the Knesset, were moved to Jerusalem a short time after Israel declared its independence, and since the time of Israel’s second president, his official residence has been in Jerusalem. The US president stated that he recognized this reality, and by doing that was not changing the status quo that has existed since the establishment of the state in 1948. He noted that he had given instructions to start preparations for moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, although he did not indicate a timetable.
      Those who still rely on Resolution 181 of the United Nations General Assembly from 1947 (the partition plan), to justify their opposition to Trump’s move should be reminded that according to the resolution, 10 years were allotted for the creation of a “separate entity” (corpus separatum) for Jerusalem. This period ended on September 30, 1958. Others, like High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, rely on Resolution 478 of the Security Council, adopted in 1980, following Israel’s passage of the Jerusalem Law. According to that resolution, members of the UN were called on not to recognize this law or other Israeli actions that changed the character and status of Jerusalem. The United States itself abstained from voting and, in addition, Trump declared that there was no intention to change the status quo. However, if the US does indeed implement the president’s intention to move its embassy to Jerusalem, it could breach the resolution, as it called on states that had located their embassies in Jerusalem to move them. Resolution 478 itself did not refer to the reality in which UN members that recognize Israel and have diplomatic relations with it do so in Jerusalem, and certainly did not call for a change in this reality, wherever the embassies are situated.
      Why was this US announcement made now? And how will President Trump’s declaration affect the political situation between Israel and the Palestinians?
      Regarding the timing, Trump presumably wished to fulfill his campaign promise to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, and was in a dilemma when faced with signing a postponement of this measure, required by American law every six months. As for the second question, Trump himself explained that even though his predecessors refrained from moving the embassy since Congress had passed the law in 1995, peace between Israel and the Palestinians was no nearer. At the same time, the president said he remains committed to promote a peace agreement and would do everything in his power to achieve peace. He also declared his desire to achieve the “ultimate deal” between the Palestinians and Israel, and mentioned a plan or initiative to be presented to both sides. In the wake of the announcement, opponents, including the Palestinian negotiators, have rejected the US as an honest broker. On the Israeli side, some contend that the US would now demand concessions to the Palestinians “in return for” the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In any event, the role of the US in the rounds of talks between Israel and its Arab neighbors has been controversial since 1973. Nonetheless, both sides have asked Washington for assistance to close the gaps in their positions at various stages of the negotiations. Demonstrations of anger and burning the American flag will not change the reality that the American administration is the only international element that has any degree of influence on Israel’s positions in negotiations with its neighbors.
      Following the president’s announcement, there were limited demonstrations among Arabs in Israel, in east Jerusalem and in the territories. A Salafist organization in Gaza fired rockets toward Israel. In the course of actions taken by Israel to curb the demonstrations near the Gaza border and in the response to the rocket fire, four Palestinians were killed. In other areas people were injured, but overall, the restrained responses of the IDF and the Israel Police helped keep the demonstrations under control. At this stage, it is not clear whether the harsh criticisms of Trump’s declaration will lead to a new wave of lone attacks. Larger demonstrations were held in many cities in the Arab and Muslim world.
      The forthcoming visit to the region by Vice President Mike Pence will likely prolong the wave of demonstrations and protests. But at this stage, it seems that in the absence of any concrete move to transfer the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the protests will die down, and with them the danger of violent actions. The customary reduction in political and diplomatic activity as the calendar year draws to a close could also help cool heated sentiments.
      If indeed there is an American or any other initiative that could serve as the basis for renewed political negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, its chances of success depend only minimally on US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The contents of the initiative, the internal political situation in Israel and among the Palestinians, the personal status of the leaders on both sides, and the situation in the Middle East and the international arena, will all exert far greater influence.
      Apart from expressing its gratitude, Israel has a role beyond keeping the territory quiet, particularly if there is an American initiative to renew negotiations that refers to Jerusalem, whether that is a single initiative geared toward a full, permanent settlement, or partial agreements with the final objective of two states for two peoples. Israel can adopt a policy that helps strengthen President Trump and promotes his moves.

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      We Can’t Wait To Hear This Interview Between Prince Harry And Obama

      By Doha Madani

      The royal interviewed the former president for a post-Christmas guest segment on BBC Radio 4.
      Pince Harry and Barack Obama are going to give us a late Christmas gift.
      The royal family’s official social media account, Kensington Palace, spread the news on Sunday that Harry conducted an interview with the former U.S. that will air on BBC Radio 4 Today on Dec. 27. He is serving as a guest host on the morning show that day.
      “The interview focuses on their shared interest in building platforms for the next generation of young leaders,” according to Kensington Palace.
      The royals social media account wrote that the interview would also center around Obama’s post-presidential life, including his newly founded charity. He has launched the Obama Foundation with his wife, Michelle, with the aim of empowering young leaders to enact change in their communities.
      In a clip tweeted Sunday, Harry told Obama the plan is to air the interview as a 20-minute package, and make the entire 40-minute conversation available as a podcast. Based on the clip, the interview will be pretty entertaining.
      “You’re excited about this, I’m nervous about this,” Harry joked to Obama in the clip. “That’s what’s going on here.”
      “I’ll interview you if you want,” Obama offered.
      “Let’s keep it this way, I’d much prefer that,” Harry responded.
      Here’s hoping that Obama, who in early October celebrated his 25th wedding anniversary with Michelle, gives the newly engaged prince some quality marriage advice.

      Roy Moore lost, but his brand of right-wing white populism still dominates the GOP

      By Joseph Lowndes

      Roy Moore won’t be in Washington next year, after all. But the Republican Party isn’t anywhere near rid of his style of racialized right-wing rhetoric — or of politicians like him.
      Exit polls showed that 91 percent of Republicans who voted in Alabama’s special election Tuesday supported the controversial former judge, even as Doug Jones became the first Democrat since 1997 to represent the state in the Senate. Right-wing populism has been an influential force in the GOP for decades, and it’s now dominant. Like former Alabama governor George Wallace — another racial reactionary who never won federal office but still influenced the party — Moore signals the way the Republican Party has been transformed since the civil rights era.
      White non-Hispanic voters alone can no longer reliably win national elections for Republicans. But the Alabama campaign showed that the strategy Moore embodied — combining resentment of elites with an assertion of white, Christian, patriarchal authority; attacks on Muslims, immigrants and gay and transgender people; and voter suppression — invigorates the party’s base. If not for the allegations that Moore had made sexual advances on teenage girls when he was in his 30s, he may well be on his way to the Senate now.
      Southern white politicians have been key players in this populist revolt, because they have long found political success in stoking resentment against meddling outsiders who are seen as threats to the values and sovereignty of their home states. From pro-slavery “fire-eaters” in the 1850s to Democratic “Redeemers” after Reconstruction to the architects of massive resistance to civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s, politicians held up white supremacy at home as a defense against outside forces that would destroy the “Southern way of life.”
      Following the model of mid-20th-century Southern politicians such as Wallace and governors Orval Faubus (Ark.) and Lester Maddox (Ga.) — whose popularity stemmed from theatrical opposition to federal authorities on civil rights — Moore built his political career on resistance and refusals that shocked many Americans but electrified segments of the electorate.
      Moore — like Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose Senate term Jones will serve out — is steeped in the racially charged politics of the South and the nation. Those traditions overlapped with Moore’s brand of aggressive Christian identity politics, as Moore racialized Muslims and warned falsely that whole communities in the United States are living under sharia law.
      Unsurprisingly, anti-black racism remains a staple of this right-wing populism. One top Moore campaign funder, for instance, was Michael Anthony Peroutka, a former board member of the neo-Confederate League of the South, an organization that calls for secession and the establishment of a white-ruled nation in the Deep South. In 1995, Moore delivered an address to the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white-nationalist successor of the infamous White Citizens’ Councils from the civil rights era. He was a strong proponent of the false conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, not Hawaii. And he has waxed nostalgic about the antebellum era.
      But perhaps the way Moore’s campaign most recalls the civil rights era is in how it reflects major changes in national politics. Like Wallace, Moore’s candidacy measured a hard right shift in the GOP. During his 1968 presidential campaign, Wallace attacked liberal elites, protesters and criminals, using thinly veiled racial rhetoric that called for “law and order” and an end to “forced busing.” This resonated with white voters across the country who were fearful of changes to the racial landscape in society, showing that in some ways, as Malcolm X said, the Mason-Dixon Line runs along the Canadian border.
      Wallace’s campaign success prodded his Republican rival, Richard Nixon, to make appeals to what he called the “silent majority.” He targeted working- and middle-class white voters nationwide on the basis of opposition to the civil rights movement and related struggles of the 1960s.
      Since then, there have been tensions between traditional conservatives and right-wing populists, often pitting economic conservatives against those who link white pride to relative deprivation in a politics of outsider grievance. President Ronald Reagan kept this coalition together in the 1980s by depicting government as oppressive in its regulations and indulgent in its welfare policies. But disputes over issues including immigration, free trade, corporate welfare and mild Republican gestures toward multiculturalism have spurred episodic revolts, spearheaded by figures like Pat Buchanan who chafed at the dominance of GOP “establishment elites.”
      Moore’s campaign, however, illustrates something more fundamental — that in the Trump era, white populism is the prevailing force in the Republican Party.
      For someone as politically extreme as Moore to beat the incumbent Sen. Luther Strange, a traditional Republican, in this fall’s primary race demonstrated something extraordinary. Not even President Trump, who initially backed Strange, could slow the party’s continued rightward shift toward authoritarian nationalism.
      Then, as if to test the proposition that there were limits on what the party would tolerate, a new, jaw-dropping threshold was crossed: Even well-documented accusations that Moore had preyed on underage girls failed to end his candidacy. Indeed, he received the endorsement of both Trump and the Republican National Committee after the accusations became public.
      While Moore was defeated, there is little reason to think that the orientation of the party’s base has been. And since Trump beat out 16 rivals in the 2016 GOP primaries, party leaders have been loathe to risk alienating that base. The long-running struggle between economic conservatives and right-wing populists has found temporary resolution in such initiatives as the proposed federal tax cuts and the Federal Communication Commission’s repeal of net neutrality. But traditional Republicans can only advance their economic agenda insofar as they do not offend the growing base of white reaction.
      A few prominent Republican voices will continue to offer sporadic denuciations of the latest outrages of the far right. But those dissenting voices will matter less as the party is redefined in coming years.

      When Middle Schoolers Say #MeToo

      By Rachel Simmons

      Sexual harassment starts well before women enter the workplace.
      Shortly after last year’s election at an elementary school near my home, boys apparently played “Trump tag” by grabbing at girls’ genitals. A school counselor at a Midwest middle school told me this week about “Grab Tits Tuesday.” The mother of a ninth-grade girl emailed that boys shouted “grab their asses” (and did) as girls filed out during a fire drill at their upstate New York high school; she said she has spent hours in the principal’s office advocating for her daughter, whose buttocks are grabbed frequently as she walks from science to history class.
      To hear the latest headlines tell it, sexual harassment among adults is a root cause of gender inequality. In fact, it is a symptom of toxic childhood lessons about gender, sex and power. As female whistleblowers have taken down titans of industry this fall, legions of underage harassers have continued to roam playgrounds with impunity. They are learning behavior that, unfettered, could graduate into adult forms of degradation. Few write stories about them. Why not?

      Sexual harassment is an epidemic in U.S. middle and high schools. In a 2014 study of 1,300 middle school students, University of Florida Professor Dorothy Espelage and colleagues found that one-quarter had experienced verbal and physical sexual harassment. Another survey by Espelage’s team found that 68 percent of high school girls were sexually harassed at least once, compared to 55 percent of boys.
      It is not only acts of harassment that harm girls. It is the expectation that they not resist them.
      Harvey Weinstein was once a boy. So were Matt Lauer, and Charlie Rose and Louis C.K. Early on, they likely internalized lessons in what experts call toxic masculinity: the expectation that a real man, as sociologist Michael Kimmel says, should “be strong, be tough, and never show [his] feelings.” To be a real man is to be hypercompetitive, get rich at all costs and have sex with women. These messages are delivered by members of a boy’s inner circle: fathers, uncles, coaches, male friends and older siblings.

      As they get older, boys develop their masculinity by punishing peers who don’t measure up, writes University of Oregon Professor C.J. Pascoe in the book Dude, You’re a Fag. To affirm their maleness, boys stigmatize sensitive peers as “gay” or a “fag,” gossip about girls’ bodies, and brag about sexual experiences.
      Victims may respond to the abuse by modifying their own behavior: Espelage and her colleagues found that children taunted with homophobic slurs are more determined to prove their masculinity ― and significantly more likely to perpetrate sexual harassment in order to do it.
      Harassment is one of puberty’s darkest, most unreported rites of passage. When adults do step in, it’s often to rebrand a snapped bra or yanked bathing suit as flirtation, a thing a girl might even be encouraged to feel grateful for (“He’s doing that because he likes you!”). As the lines blur between play and aggression, and desire and coercion, perpetrators progress in learning how to carry out harassment ― and victims learn to be silent.
      To be sexually harassed as a girl is to learn a lesson as old as time, one that is unlikely to be displaced by well-intentioned girl-power computer science classes and soccer drills: A girl’s most important source of value is her body and how others look at it. Known as self-objectification, the trait shows up in girls as young as 11, and is linked to depression, poor academic performance, social problems and eating disorders.
      Indeed, it is not only acts of harassment that harm girls. It is the expectation that they not resist them.
      Girls learn a script of silence that many take with them well into adulthood. If women fear that speaking up may cost them their job, girls know resistance will cost them their social status. Let your voice rise above a coquettish scolding, and you quickly become known as the bitch who can’t take a joke. To preserve your social life, resistance must be as skimpy as your outfit. Squeal, roll your eyes, then forget about it. Boys, as the saying goes, will be boys. And this passive performance is what it means to be a girl.
      Harassment has not abated as girls have become more powerful. If anything, as young women outlearn and outearn men, the opposite is occurring. As social roles change ― and perhaps because they’re changing ― other unwritten rules, like who should really be in charge in a relationship, calcify. Research finds that the more females outperform males in school and outnumber them in college, the more many appear to be to subjected to certain forms of gender-based degradation. It is no coincidence that classrooms, the place where girls outpace boys, are the second most popular place for them to be sexually harassed. If young people don’t take harassment seriously, it stands to reason that they may be less likely to report it as victims or bystanders, and more likely to perpetrate it.
      Social media now sends harassment onto the screens of a disproportionate number of young women, according to Pew: One-quarter of those aged 18 to 24 report having been harassed online, an experience that can happen at any time of the day or night.
      At one high school in Philadelphia, a school counselor told me, a 14-year-old girl pulled out her phone in class to find a Snapchat from a peer asking if she wanted to measure the size of his penis. A therapist in Toronto shared that, during class, a male student texted her 14-year-old patient to ask her to perform oral sex on him in the bathroom. Clinicians tell me these incidents are commonplace, not rare. In the 1990s, a wave of anxiety about girls’ body image led to widespread media literacy education of girls. Our next frontier must be intimacy literacy, this time for girls and boys. The need is significant. In one of Espelage’s studies, 14 percent of students downplayed their victimization as “meaningless” or as mere jokes; the most dismissive students were more likely to perpetrate homophobic bullying. If young people don’t take harassment seriously, it stands to reason that they may be less likely to report it as victims or bystanders, and more likely to perpetrate it.
      A few weeks ago, a Girl Scouts message advising parents not to force girls to hug relatives at Thanksgiving went viral. To tell “your child that she owes someone a hug either just because she hasn’t seen this person in a while or because they gave her a gift,” the post read, “can set the stage for her questioning whether she ‘owes’ another person any type of physical affection when they have bought her dinner or done something else seemingly nice for her later in life.”
      Advice like this can raise parents’ awareness of how girls are pressured to please others at the expense of their own boundaries and comfort. It is an important first step. As Frederick Douglass wrote in 1855, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
      If we want to end a culture rampant with harassment, we must listen to the adult women who are speaking out courageously. We must also make room for girls to speak: If we listened, we’d find that many middle schoolers are trying to tell us “me too.”

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      Suicide bombers attack church in Pakistan's Quetta before Christmas, killing nine

      Gul Yousafzai, Asif Shahzad

      Two suicide bombers stormed a packed Christian church in southwestern Pakistan on Sunday, killing at least nine people and wounding up to 56, officials said, in the latest attack claimed by Islamic State in the country.
      Two suicide bombers stormed a packed Christian church in southwestern Pakistan on Sunday, killing at least nine people and wounding up to 56, officials said, in the latest attack claimed by Islamic State in the country. Baluchistan police chief Moazzam Jah said there were nearly 400 worshippers in the church for the pre-Christmas service. The death toll could have been much higher if the gunmen had forced their way into the sanctuary, he said.
      Jah said the venue - Bethel Memorial Methodist Church - was on high alert as Christian places of worship are often targeted by Islamist extremists over the Christmas season.
      “We killed one of them, and the other one exploded himself after police wounded him,” he said.
      Islamic State claimed the attack, the group’s Amaq news agency said in an online statement, without providing any evidence for its claim.
      Another police official, Abdur Razaq Cheema, said two other attackers escaped.
      Broken wooden benches, shards of glass and musical instruments were scattered around a Christmas tree inside the prayer hall that was splashed with blood stains.
      Kal Alaxander, 52, was at the church with his wife and two children when the attack happened.
      “We were in services when we heard a big bang,” he told Reuters. “Then there was shooting. The prayer hall’s wooden door broke and fell on us ... We hid the women and children under desks.”
      Maryam George, 20, cried at a hospital where her younger sister Alizeh was fighting for life with two broken legs and multiple other wounds.
      Pakistani Christians, who number around 2 million in a nation of more than 200 million people, have been the target of a series of attacks in recent years.
      Baluchistan, a strategically important region bordering Iran as well as Afghanistan, is plagued by violence by Sunni Islamist sectarian groups linked to the Taliban, al Qaeda and Islamic State. It also has an indigenous ethnic Baloch insurgency fighting against the central government. Middle East-based Islamic State has created an active branch in Pakistan and Afghanistan in recent years mostly by recruiting among established militants, and its followers have claimed some of Pakistan’s most deadly attacks in recent years.
      A suicide bomber killed 52 people and wounded over 100 at a Baluchistan Sufi shrine in November last year, in an attack claimed by Islamic State. In February, Islamic State attacked a Sufi shrine in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province, killing 83 people.
      Violence in Baluchistan has fueled concern about security for projects in the $57 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor, a transport and energy link planned to run from western China to Pakistan’s southern deep-water port of Gwadar.
      The church attack came a day after the third anniversary of a Pakistani Taliban attack on an army-run school that killed 134 children, one of the single deadliest attacks in the country’s history.
      Pakistan’s army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, condemned the attack.
      “Quetta church attack targeting our brotherly Christian Pakistanis is an attempt to cloud Christmas celebrations,” he said. “We stay united and steadfast to respond against such heinous attempts.”
      Last year’s Easter Day attack in a public park that killed more than 70 people in the eastern city of Lahore was claimed by a Taliban splinter group previously associated with Islamic State.
      The United States strongly condemned “the shocking and brutal attack on innocent worshippers,” U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale said in a statement.

      Pakistan - Crackdown on INGOs

      REPORTS this week that the government has ordered anywhere between 10 to 30 INGOs to cease operations in the country is further evidence of the state’s escalating paranoia. Viewed in tandem with attempts to crack down on the media, social media and local activism, this suspicion of all foreigners and Pakistanis working with international aid threatens to plunge us deeper into darkness, isolated from the world and even each other. True, many foreign states do attempt to influence policy agendas through the disbursement of grant funding, particularly when it comes to national security. But when these policies align with what our government ought to be pursuing anyway, and when the ultimate beneficiaries of such activities are our own neglected people, the government must explain why it is preventing necessary humanitarian, development, research and advocacy work from taking place within the country. It is a legitimate demand that the development sector comply with stringent rules. But transparency and accountability are also required from our elected representatives.
      None of the INGOs that have spoken to the media have been given a reason for why their registration applications were not approved by the interior ministry. Confirming its arbitrariness, at least one local NGO was also included in this wholesale culling, even though its application is currently under review with the SECP. The government must provide grounds for its denials and ensure an independent review process for appeals. It must provide an answer to the no less vital question of whether it has the funds, capacity and will to fill the vacuum left behind by INGOs and, concomitantly, local NGOs. International groups contribute billions of rupees, supply technical assistance and employ thousands of Pakistanis to strengthen access to education, healthcare, disaster relief, food security and human rights. Human Rights Watch estimates that INGOs along with local partners reach about 20m Pakistanis annually. They do this because successive democratic governments and military regimes have failed to discharge their duties to the people, despite donor agencies’ attempts to work with the public sector. If the state is committed to the people’s uplift, it must see a way past its myopic distrust of the progressive values of the development sector and work with it to provide sustainable human security. Anything less is a disservice to our underprivileged, marginalised, disaster- and conflict-affected citizens.

      #Pakistan - Inquiry Into #Faizabad

      Political outrages are common thing, which flare up for two weeks, until they are forgotten and replaced by the next controversy. However, the damage inflicted by these controversies and mistakes often linger and convolute into dangerous precedents, silently breaking the spirit of the law, one by one. Although the Faizabad fiasco is done with and seemingly resolved, one does not need to look far, with the numerous violent protests springing up to fulfill demands, to assess the damage it has done to law and order in this country.
      This is why it is imperative that, while the issue of Khatam-e-Nubawat should not be flared up again, there be a proper inquiry on whose mandate the authorities settled the protest and compensated the protesters. The Senate on Thursday very rightly called for judicial or parliamentary probe into the recent Faizabad sit-in and matters associated with it. Farhatullah Babar, a PPP senator, asked for an inquiry as to how the protesters managed to come all the way from Lahore and sustained for three weeks, who negotiated the terms of surrender and why some seemed to be handed cash at the end of the sit-in.
      Executive oversight is one of the functions of Parliament, thus making this a very relevant issue for the Senate. At the end of the day, the state was held hostage by a few hundred protesters, and the establishment conferring blame on both sides sets a formidable precedent. The allegation of handing out money to protesters is also alarming.

      The Parliament should press for a proper inquiry in this issue of misdirection of the executive, while making it clear this is not about the Elections Bill amendment. We can no longer afford to ignore mishaps which threaten the spirit of law, since they may be forgotten easily, but their vestiges remain a long time.

      Pakistan - Asma Jahangir demands probe into Army-brokers dharna deal

      Supreme Court lawyer and prominent human rights activist Asma Jahangir has demanded parliamentary investigation against those who were behind the recent Faizaabd sit-in and from where a new lot came despite a successful operation against religious activists.
      Addressing a press conference on Saturday she said: “We don’t want a judicial commission on it and demand that only a parliamentary committee should investigate the matter.”
      “We need to know how the army became a guarantor during the agreement between the government and protestors. Why money was distributed among the protestors,” she said.
      She urged the parliament committee to see how people reached Islamabad and who brought them.
      On November 25, the security personnel carried out a botched operation against Faizabad protestors. Reportedly, a wave of protest sparked outrage across the country. The protesters were demanding resignation of the then law minister Zahid Hamid.
      The police personnel started to remove the protestors in the morning, but later a new lot reached there and occupied the area.


      Asif Hassan

      The Supreme Court of Pakistan has let Imran Khan of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) off the hook while convicting secretary general Jahangir Khan Tareen in a case under the “piety” Article 6 of the Constitution. No one is happy and that is unfortunate for the court. The opposition to PTI is unhappy that Khan was allowed to walk; the PTI is supposed to be unhappy that its secretary general has been ousted from politics for life. Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) cursed the court for disqualifying Nawaz Sharif and ousting him from premiership, the sort of thing the generals used to do. And it is deeply upset that the court has thrown out the case against Khan filed by PMLN leaders.
      The post-verdict atmosphere is predictably more conflictual than settled and settlement is what a good verdict must bring about. Some commentators predicted this state of dissatisfaction with the judiciary after the court decided to adjudicate under somewhat contentious Article 6 and not abstain, saying the case is political and should be sorted out by the politicians. The ambience was further mired in bad language where politicians preferred to speak in expletives. The judges’ bad habit of lengthy egoistic expatiation in judgments has caught on, their verdicts containing references to crime fiction.
      Tareen’s ouster from politics is going to cause some upheaval in PTI but will not lead to its scattering because of its autocratic boss, Imran Khan, whose word is law. He says Tareen will continue as secretary-general of the party giving lie to his earlier objection to Nawaz Sharif continuing at the head of the PMLN after his dismissal. But this is not the first time the PTI has been internally convulsed over Tareen. A party tribunal set up by Khan to adjudicate between Tareen and his opponents in the party had found against Tareen; and Khan had to dismiss the tribunal to retain him. The Supreme Court, alas, has not covered itself with glory and the brawling politicians living under a hypocritical Article 6 will go on earning people’s contempt. Pakistan has begun to hate itself in 2017.

      شہدائے آرمی پبلک سکول اور سقوط ڈھاکہ کے دن ہمارا قومی رویہ #APSPeshawar

      کالم نگار  |  اسد اللہ غالب

      ایک غیرت مند اور باحمیت قوم کی حیثیت سے ہمیں سولہ دسمبر کو سوگ میں ہونا چاہئے تھامگر ہم اس کے بر عکس خوشیاں منا رہے تھے، لڈو بانٹ رہے تھے اور لڈیاں ڈال رہے تھے، اس لئے کہ عمران خان کو صادق اور امین ڈیکلیئر کر دیا گیا تھا۔ عدالت جو فیصلہ دے، وہ نافذ ہو جاتا ہے الا یہ کہ دوسرا فریق اپیل میں چلا جائے مگر اس صورت میں بھی فیصلہ تبدیل ہونے کا امکان نہیں اس لئے عمران خان اب عدالتی حکم کے مطابق تا یوم قیامت صادق اور امین قرار پائے، اصل فیصلہ تو اللہ کی عدالت میں ہو گا میں حیران ہوں کہ عمران خان نے پبلک جلسوں اور میڈیا گفتگو میں خود تسلیم کیا کہ بنی گالہ کا ہزاروں ایکڑ کا محل جمائما گولڈ اسمتھ کے بھیجے گئے پیسوں سے خریدا گیا اور یہی وہ محل ہے جو پی ٹی آئی کی سیاست کا مرکز و محور ہے اور اب جبکہ عمران خان کو کراچی میں قائد اعظم کیپ پہنا کر کیڈٹ وزیر اعظم کے روپ میں پیش کیا گیا تو قوی امکان یہ ہے کہ بائی ہک اور بائی کروک اسے اگلا وزیر اعظم ہی ہونا ہے تو یہی بنی گالہ کا محل وزیراعظم ہائوس بھی ہو گا۔ ہمارے دوست ہارون الرشید نے پہلے پہل اس محل پر نظر ڈالی تو بے اختیار پکار اٹھے کہ یہ تو کسی وزیر اعظم کا گھر لگتا ہے اور جچتا ہے۔ تو اس صورت میں جمائما گولڈ اسمتھ کی غیر ملکی اعانت سے بننے والے بنی گالہ ہائوس کی شکل میں ہمارے سامنے غیر ملکی فنڈنگ مجسم شکل میںموجود ہو گی۔ عوام کو کون قائل کرسکتا ہے کہ عمران خان نے غیر ملکی فنڈنگ نہیں لی۔ عمران خان یہ بھی کہتا ہے کہ اس نے بیرون ملک کرکٹ کھیل کر جائز اور حلا ل پیسہ کمایا اورا سی سے لندن میں فلیٹ خریداا ور اس فلیٹ کو فروخت کر کے اس کی کمائی پاکستان لائی گئی۔یہاں سوال یہ ہے کہ بیرون ملک کرکٹ سے تو دیگر پاکستانی کھلاڑیوںنے بھی کمایا اور بہت کمایا ہوگا، ان میں سے درجنوں کھلاڑی عمران خان سے پیشہ ورانہ مرتبے میں اعلیٰ اور ارفع تھے، تو کیا انہوںنے بنی گالہ جیسے محلات تعمیر کئے، کیا انہوںنے پاکستان میں کسی سیاسی پارٹی کی بنیا د رکھی اور اس سیاسی پارٹی کی حکومت گرانے کے لئے دھرنا دیاا ور کسی امپائر کی انگلی کا بھی انتظار کیا۔
      عمر ان خان کے بارے میں فیصلہ آ گیا مگر اس کو ایک طبقے نے اسی طرح تسلیم نہیں کیا جس طرح نواز شریف کے بارے میں فیصلے کوقبول نہیں کیا۔نواز شریف کا مذاق اڑایا جاتا ہے کہ انہوںنے بار بار یہ سوال پوچھا کہ مجھے کیوں نکالا گیا ، اسی طرح عمران خان بھی ہمیشہ مذاق کا نشانہ بنیں گے کہ انہیں نہیں نکالا گیا۔ وہ نواز شریف کو صادق اور امین نہیں سمجھتے، ڈاکو ، لٹیرا اور ٹیکس چور کہتے ہیںتو عمران خان کو بھی یہودیوںا ور ہندوؤں کی فنڈنگ پر سیاست کرنے اور پاکستان کی معیشت کو دھرنوں اور لانگ مارچ اور عدالتی جنگ وجدل سے نقصان پہنچانے پر مطعون کیا جاتا رہے گا، سیاست کے سینے میں دل نہیں ہوتا اور انصاف کی دیوی اندھی ہوتی ہے، دنیا بھر کی طرح پاکستانی سیاست بھی اخلاقیات سے عاری ہے، یہاں وہ لوگ سیاست میں آگے نہیں جو دامن نچوڑ دیں تو فرشتے وضو کریں، یہ وہ سیاست دان ہیں جو اپنے حریف کی ٹانگیں کھینچنے کو سب سے بڑی نیکی اور عین عبادت سمجھتے ہیں اور اس کی حکومت کا دھڑن تختہ ہونے پر دیگیں چڑھاتے ہیں اور مٹھائی کے ٹوکرے بانٹتے ہیں، اس کی موت کے پروانے پر جس قلم سے دستخط کئے جائیں ، اسے سوونیئر کے طور پر چیف مارشل لاا یڈمنسٹریٹر سے مانگنے میں کوئی عار محسوس نہیں کرتے۔ ہاں ، میثاق لندن میں یہ ضرور طے ہوا کہ ا ٓئندہ کم از کم اس پر دستخط کرنے والی دو بڑی پارٹیاں ایجنسیوں کے اشاروں پر نہیں چلیں گی، بلیم گیم کا حصہ نہیں بنیں گی ۔ نواز شریف نے اپنی حد تک یہ عہد نبھایا اور زرداری حکومت کو ٹرم پوری کرنے کا موقع فراہم کیا مگر اب زرداری نے آنکھیںماتھے پر رکھ لی ہیں اور نواز شریف ہی کو نہیں، جمہوریت کی ا س ٹہنی کو بھی کاٹنے پر تل گئے ہیں جس پر وہ خود بھی تشریف فرما ہیں۔
      قبلہ حاجی ، مفتی، علامہ ، مولانا صادق اور امین، عمران خان کو اس ماحول میں سیاست کرنی ہے۔ اسے دن میں تارے نظر آ جائیں گے۔
      اور حضور جان لیجئے کہ صرف عدالتی فیصلوں اور کیڈٹ وزیر اعظم کا روپ دھار کر اگلے الیکشن میں کامیابی نہیں ملے گی، عوام خیبر پی کے میں پانچ سالہ کارکردگی کا ریکارڈ بھی دیکھے گی، جہاں دودھ اور شہدکی نہریں بہنے لگی ہیں، نہ انصاف کا دور دورہ ہے، نہ کرپشن اور لوٹ کھسوٹ کا خاتمہ ہوا ہے، نہ پٹواری کا استحصال ختم ہوا ہے ، نہ تھانہ کلچر کو بدلا گیا ہے، عوام نے فیض آباد کے دھرنے کا پھل آپ کی جھولی میں نہیں ڈالنا ، وہ تو کڑکتے چمکتے نوٹ لے کر چلتے بنے۔ اور گھروں میں جا دبکے، وہ فرشتوں کے پروں پر سوار ہو کر آئے تھے اور فرشتوں کی طرح ہی غائب ہو گئے، ان کے پاس ووٹ نہیں ، وہ طاقت تھی جس نے پولیس کو سیدھی گولیاںمار کر شہید کیا ۔ بلٹ اور بیلٹ میں بڑا فرق ہوتا ہے۔
      میں یہ مانتا ہوں کہ پاکستان میںمنصفانہ انتخابات بھی ایک خواب اور خیال ہی ہیں،سبھی کہتے ہیں کہ نتائج کمپیوٹر میںمرتب ہوتے ہیں ، عوام تو دکھاوے اور کھیل تماشے کے لئے پولنگ بوتھوں کا رخ کرتے ہیں، انجینئرڈ الیکشن کی اصطلاح محترمہ بے نظیر نے استعمال کی تھی اور اب سیاسی انجینئرنگ کی اصطلاح انہی کے جانشین سید خورشید شاہ نے استعمال کی ہے، اس کا مطلب کیا ہے ا س کے لئے قبلہ شاہ صاحب کی ڈکشنری سے رجوع کیا جا سکتا ہے یا کھلی آنکھوں سے وہ سب کچھ دیکھا جا سکتا ہے جو قومی اسمبلی کے اسپیکر کو دوہزار دو اور دو ہزارآٹھ میں بھی نظر نہیں آیا مگر اب وہ سب کچھ علانیہ ہو رہا ہے اور انہیں خدشہ ہے کہ اسمبلیاں اپنی موت آپ مر جائیں گی، اس کے لئے استعفے آتے رہیں گے، کوئی اور ہتھکنڈے بھی استعمال ہو سکتے ہیں ، اور کوئی ضروری نہیں کہ مارشل لاہی لگے کیونکہ فوج کاایساکوئی ارادہ نہیں، نہ مارشل لا لگنے کا کوئی ماحول ہے۔
      عمران خان کے حق میں آنے والا فیصلہ ہوا میں اڑ جائے گا جیسے نواز شریف کے خلاف فیصلہ ہوا میں اڑ گیا، البتہ جہانگیر ترین کے نااہل ہونے سے عمران خان کو کوئی نقصان نہیں پہنچا، وہ اب بھی اس کے لئے اے ٹی ایم ہی کے طور پر کام دے رہا ہے یہ ہے مالی سورس عمران خان کا۔ جہانگیر ترین اتنے ہوشیار ضرور ہیں کہ وہ جو پیسہ لگائیں گے، اسے مع سود در سود کیسے واپس لیں گے۔
      عدالتی فیصلے نے عمران خان کی راہیں ہموار کر دی ہیں ،یہ اس کے پیروکاروں کی سوچ ہے مگر پیالے اور ہونٹوں کے درمیان فاصلے کو پاٹنا ہر شخص کے لئے ممکن نہیں ہوتا ۔