After The Beating: Moroccan TV Airs Makeup Tips For Hiding Domestic Violence

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The smiling woman on the daily Moroccan television show spoke to viewers as if it were any other makeup tutorial, comparing brands and hues of face foundation and demonstrating how to apply it. Seated next to her was a woman with what appeared to be a black eye and bruises on her cheekbones.

“After the beating, this part is still sensitive, so don’t press. Make sure to use loose powder to fix the makeup so if you have to work throughout the day, the bruises don’t show,” said the host said in Arabic as she applied makeup on the woman’s face, eventually concealing the woman’s bruises.

The makeup tutorial, aired Wednesday on Moroccan state television, instructed viewers how to use concealer to “camouflage the traces of violence against women,” spurring outrage on social media that prompted an apology from the channel. The segment was broadcast two days before the U.N. International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the Guardian reported.

“It’s a subject we shouldn’t talk about, but unfortunately that’s what it is,” the segment’s host, Lilia Mouline, said in the tutorial. “We hope that these beauty tips help you carry on with your normal life.”

Before naming the various recommended beauty brands, Mouline reminded viewers that the apparent swelling and black and blue bruises around the woman’s eyes were depicted with makeup, and were not the result of real wounds. She suggested certain foundation tones for most effectively disguising a woman’s unfortunate “beating.”

“Use foundation with yellow in it,” she said. “If you use the white one, your red punch marks will always show.”

The video prompted shock and criticism on Twitter from viewers who saw the video as an attempt to encourage women to “conceal” abuse with makeup, instead of condemning the individuals responsible for the violence.

An online petition with more than 2,470 supporters encouraged people to contact the High Authority of Audiovisual Communication, the Moroccan authority responsible for regulating television and radio, and demand it take action against the television program.

“As Moroccan women and as feminist activists in Morocco, and in the name of all Moroccan people, we denounce the message of normalization with violence against women,” the petition read. “We demand severe sanctions against this show, ‘Sabahiyat,’ and the channel 2M.”

“Do not cover domestic violence with makeup, condemn the aggressor!” the petition said.

The channel removed the video segment from its website and issued online and on-air apologies for the tutorial, calling it “completely inappropriate” and an “editorial error of judgment in view of the sensitivity and the gravity of the subject of violence against women.”

In the apology on 2M’s Facebook page, it said the video contradicted the channel’s “unwavering” commitment in favor of the defense of the rights of women. It said it would take the necessary steps to address the people responsible for the error.

Human Rights Watch has previously criticized Morocco for what it called a “tepid response” to domestic violence. In February 2016, Human Rights Watch wrote a letter to the Moroccan government urging it to strengthen and draft laws to improve protection for victims of domestic violence. Existing laws in Morocco do not provide adequate guidance to police, prosecutors or investigative judges about their duties in domestic violence cases, the letter said, which contributes to inconsistent practices by some authorities. Female survivors of domestic violence told Human Rights Watch about times when the police did little or nothing when they tried to report domestic violence.

In 2009, a national survey by the Moroccan High Commission for Planning found that nearly two-thirds — 62.8 percent — of women ages 18 to 65 had experienced physical, psychological, sexual or economic violence. Of the sample interviewed, 55 percent reported “conjugal” violence and 13.5 percent reported “familial” violence. Only 3 percent of those who had experienced conjugal violence had reported it to the authorities.

“Sabahiyat” typically offers segments on health, beauty, cooking, fashion and other subject areas. Responding to criticism of the makeup tutorial, Mouline, the segment’s host, told a Moroccan radio station, Yabiladi, that “in no way are we endorsing” domestic violence.

“We are here to provide solutions to these women who, for a period of two to three weeks, are putting their social life aside while their wounds heal. These women have already been subjected to moral humiliation and do not need to also have others looking at them,” Mouline said, according to Morocco World News.

“Makeup,” Mouline says, “allows women to continue to live normally while waiting for justice.”

At the end of the tutorial on the show, Mouline said she hoped victims of domestic abuse could conceal their abuse so that they could “go to work and do what you have to do.”

“I wish you better days,” she said at the end.


Sources: Washington Post & Guardian UK

The Nauru Files: 2000 Leaked Documents Reveal Unspeakable Abuse At Australian Offshore Detention

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The devastating trauma and abuse inflicted on children held by Australia in offshore detention has been laid bare in the largest cache of leaked documents released from inside its immigration regime.

More than 2,000 leaked incident reports from Australia’s detention camp for asylum seekers on the remote Pacific island of Nauru – totalling more than 8,000 pages – are published by the Guardian in August. The Nauru files set out as never before the assaults, sexual abuse, self-harm attempts, child abuse and living conditions endured by asylum seekers held by the Australian government, painting a picture of routine dysfunction and cruelty.

The Guardian’s analysis of the files reveal that children are vastly over-represented in the reports. More than half of the 2,116 reports – a total of 1,086 incidents, or 51.3% – involve children, although children made up only about 18% of those in detention on Nauru during the time covered by the reports, May 2013 to October 2015. The findings come just weeks after the brutal treatment of young people in juvenile detention in the Northern Territory was exposed, leading to the Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, announcing a wide-ranging public inquiry.

The reports range from a guard allegedly grabbing a boy and threatening to kill him once he is living in the community to guards allegedly slapping children in the face. In September 2014 a teacher reported that a young classroom helper had requested a four-minute shower instead of a two-minute shower. “Her request has been accepted on condition of sexual favors. It is a male security person. She did not state if this has or hasn’t occurred. The security officer wants to view a boy or girl having a shower.”

Some reports contain distressing examples of behavior by traumatized children. According to a report from September 2014, a girl had sewn her lips together. A guard saw her and began laughing at her. In July that year a child under the age of 10 undressed and invited a group of adults to insert their fingers into her vagina; in February 2015 a young girl gestured to her vagina and said a male asylum seeker “cut her from under”.

In the files there are seven reports of sexual assault of children, 59 reports of assault on children, 30 of self-harm involving children and 159 of threatened self-harm involving children.

The reports show extraordinary acts of desperation. One pregnant woman, after being told she would need to give birth on Nauru in October 2015, was agitated and in tears. “I give my baby to Australia to look after,” she pleaded with a caseworker, adding: “I don’t want to have my baby in PNG, the [Nauru hospital] or have it in this dirty environment.”

The files raise stark questions about how information is reported on Nauru, one of Australia’s two offshore detention centres for asylum seekers who arrive by boat. They highlight serious concerns about the ongoing risks to children and adults held on the island. They show how the Australian government has failed to respond to warning signs and reveal sexual assault allegations – many involving children – that have never been previously disclosed.

The most damning evidence emerges from the words of the staff working in the detention centre themselves – the people who compile the reports. These caseworkers, guards, teachers and medical officers have been charged with caring for hundreds of asylum seekers on the island.

The publication is likely to renew calls for an end to the political impasse that has seen children in Australia’s care languish on Nauru for more than three years.

Nauru is the world’s smallest island state, home to fewer than 10,000 people. Australia supplies aid and buys services from Nauru’s government and companies, leading to accusations Nauru is effectively a “client state”. On the last official count at the end of June, 442 people – 338 men, 55 women and 49 children – were held in the Nauru regional processing centre. The other offshore centre, on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, was holding 854 people, all men. Australia’s policy has been criticized regularly by the UN.

The Guardian is publishing the files because it believes Australians have the right to know more about the regime at the Nauru and Manus centres, which costs Australian taxpayers $1.2bn a year.

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The documents cover the period examined in a review into allegations of sexual assault, the Australian Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into children in detention as well as the period examined by a Senate inquiry and beyond. They encompass the final days of Labor’s time in government and the ruling conservative Coalition’s time in office since September 2013.

In each successive inquiry, the Australian government and its contractors, including Broadspectrum (formerly Transfield Services) and its subcontractor Wilson Security, have maintained that they are improving conditions and reporting measures to raise the quality of life on the island.

But the files show a very different picture. Rather than serious events diminishing, they continued – and in some cases escalated – during the course of 2015. A vast number of incidents from across the timeframe have never before been reported.

Many asylum seekers held on Nauru were unable to leave the detention compounds during the period covered by the files. Some had been granted permission to leave on day trips but were closely monitored to ensure they returned before curfews. Those found to be refugees were released into the Nauruan community – yet still remain effectively detained on the remote island.

The primary evidence from the files backs up testimony from former immigration detention staff members interviewed by the Guardian as part of its investigation.

Access to Nauru is tightly controlled. Events on the island are reported sporadically through refugee advocates and whistleblowers, but the Australian government’s policy of shrouding its offshore detention centres in secrecy has prevented the reporting of many serious incidents. The Nauru files shatter that secrecy.

Excerpt, read The Nauru Files: 2000 Leaked Reports Reveal Scale of Abuse of Children in Australian Detention by Paul Farrell, Nick Evershed, & Helen Davidson | The Guardian UK

The Nauru Files | The Guardian UK (Interactive)


Recommended: Australia’s Offshore Cruelty by Roger Cohens | The New York Times

The Intolerable Cruelty of Australia’s Refugee Deterrence Strategy by Mark Issacs | Foreign Policy

The Forgotten Children: Four Corners Visits Nauru | ABC News Australia (Full Video 42:50)


Nauru Files Reporting Team: Paul Farrell, Nick Evershed, Helen Davidson, Ben Doherty, Ri Liu, Anna Livsey, David Constable, Tom Ross, Josh Wall, Nikki Marshall, Merran Hitchick and Patrick Keneally

In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. Hotlines in other countries can be found here.

Former Cuban Leader Fidel Castro Dies at 90

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Fidel Castro speaking in Havana, Cuba, February 3, 2006 (Photo: Javier Galeano/ AP).

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz (1926-2016), the fiery apostle of revolution who brought the Cold War to the Western Hemisphere in 1959 and then defied the United States for nearly half a century as Cuba’s maximum leader, bedeviling 11 American presidents and briefly pushing the world to the brink of nuclear war, died on November 25. He was 90.

Fidel Castro was a Cuban politician, and revolutionary who governed the Republic of Cuba as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and then as President from 1976 to 2008. Politically a Marxist–Leninist and Cuban nationalist, he also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from 1961 until 2011. Under his administration Cuba became a one-party socialist state; industry and business were nationalized, and state socialist reforms implemented throughout society.

Born in Birán as the son of a wealthy farmer, Castro adopted leftist anti-imperialist politics while studying law at the University of Havana. After participating in rebellions against right-wing governments in the Dominican Republic and Colombia, he planned the overthrow of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista, launching a failed attack on the Moncada Barracks in 1953. After a year’s imprisonment, he traveled to Mexico where he formed a revolutionary group, the 26th of July Movement, with his brother Raúl Castro and Che Guevara. Returning to Cuba, Castro took a key role in the Cuban Revolution by leading the Movement in a guerrilla war against Batista’s forces from the Sierra Maestra. After Batista’s overthrow in 1959, Castro assumed military and political power as Cuba’s Prime Minister.

The United States opposed Castro’s government, and unsuccessfully attempted to remove him by assassination, economic blockade, and counter-revolution, including the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961. Countering these threats, Castro formed an alliance with the Soviets. In response to U.S. nuclear missiles in Turkey, and perceived U.S. threats against Cuba, Castro allowed the Soviet Union to place nuclear weapons on Cuba, sparking the Cuban Missile Crisis—a defining incident of the Cold War—in 1962.

Adopting a Marxist-Leninist model of development, Castro converted Cuba into a one-party socialist state under Communist Party rule, the first in the Western Hemisphere. Reforms introducing central economic planning and expanding healthcare and education were accompanied by state control of the press and the suppression of internal dissent. Abroad, Castro supported anti-imperialist revolutionary groups, backing the establishment of Marxist governments in Chile, Nicaragua, and Grenada, and sending troops to aid allies in the Yom Kippur War, Ogaden War, and Angolan Civil War.

These actions, coupled with Castro’s leadership of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1979–83 and Cuba’s medical internationalism, increased Cuba’s profile on the world stage and earned its leader great respect in the developing world. Following the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991, Castro led Cuba into its “Special Period” and embraced environmentalist and anti-globalization ideas. In the 2000s he forged alliances in the Latin American “pink tide“—namely with Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela—and signed Cuba to the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas. In 2006 he transferred his responsibilities to Vice-President Raúl Castro, who formally assumed the presidency in 2008.

Castro was decorated with various international awards, and was lauded as a champion of socialism, anti-imperialism, and humanitarianism, whose revolutionary regime secured Cuba’s independence from American imperialism. Conversely, critics in the United States alleged that he was a dictator whose administration oversaw human-rights abuses in Cuba. Through his actions and his writings, he significantly influenced the politics of various individuals and groups across the world, including Hugo Chavez (Venezuela), Evo Morales (Bolivia), Nelson Mandela (South Africa), and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (India).

Cuban state television announced just after midnight on the morning of Saturday, November 26, 2016, that Castro had died in Havana.The cause of death was not immediately disclosed. His brother, President Raúl Castro, confirmed the news in a brief speech: “The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 [EST] this evening.” It was announced that Castro will be cremated on November 26, 2016. Upon hearing the news, Cubans began a nine-day mourning period while exiled Cubans and Cuban-Americans took to the streets in the U.S. to celebrate.

Primary sources: Wikipedia, NYT, WashPost, BBC, Guardian UK

A Wild World Upside Down

jeffrey-dunnPhoto: Jeffrey Dunn

Hello World! It’s been a few months since my last post. Can you believe how much has happened in such a short period of time? –  Brexit, Colombia/FARC Peace Agreement, Olympics in Rio, Cubs winning the World Series, an insane election cycle, and the passing of some notable people. . .to name a few. In fact, so much has happened that I feel the need to acknowledge and highlight some of the major events I missed while away.  So that’s the goal of this post and the events below begin in June 2016 – the last month I posted – and go through November 2016. The list below is by no means exhaustive, nor is it intended to be. And I deliberately excluded a few stories, they will appear as individual posts directly above this one in the coming days. Lastly, I included mini slideshow and names of a few notable people who have passed away since June.

Some of my readers may be curious about the title, A Wild World Upside. Don’t overthink it. Instead think about how you would describe the ebb and flow of 2016. For me, it  describes the tumultuous and tenuous nature of our quickly changing world – one in which basic human rights, respect for the rule of law, and civility are being muted by crippling fear, hatred, intolerance and demagoguery. The world is changing – for better or worse and whether we like it or not. Fissures of instability are exploding all around us. The only certainty seems to be uncertainty. Tension. Lies are being traded as capital, mistrust sown deep. It feels we’re all on high alert. So the title connotes my gut reaction to all that has come to pass, all that seems to be falling apart, and all that remains to be seen. Now, let’s get to it!

❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧❧

A woman cries during a vigil in a park following a mass shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando Florida
A woman cries during a vigil in a park following a mass shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on June 12, 2016. (Photo: Carlo Allegri / Reuters)

June 12: Gunman Kills 49 at Pulse Nightclub (Orlando, Florida)
On 12 June 2016, Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old security guard, killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in a terrorist attack/hate crime inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, United States. He was shot and killed by Orlando Police Department (OPD) officers after a three-hour standoff. Pulse was hosting Latin Night and most of the victims were Latino. It was both the deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter and the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people in United States history. It was also the deadliest terrorist attack in the United States since the September 11 attacks in 2001.

In a 9-1-1 call shortly after the shooting began, Mateen swore allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and said the shooting was “triggered” by the U.S. killing of Abu Waheeb in Iraq the previous month. He later told a negotiator he was “out here right now” because of the American-led interventions in Iraq and in Syria, and that the negotiator should tell the United States to stop bombing ISIL.

Initial reports said Mateen may have been a patron of the nightclub and used gay dating websites and apps, but Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials said they have not found any credible evidence to substantiate these claims. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) also conducted an investigation and said it found no links between ISIL and Mateen.

 

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Photographs of the nine victims killed at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. are held up by congregants during a prayer vigil at the the Metropolitan AME Church June 19, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images)

June 17: The Charleston Church Massacre (Charleston, South Carolina)
The Charleston church shooting (also known as the Charleston church massacre) was a mass shooting that took place at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, United States, on the evening of June 17, 2015. During a prayer service, nine people were killed by a gunman, including the senior pastor, state senator Clementa C. Pinckney; a tenth victim survived. The morning after the attack, police arrested a suspect, later identified as 21-year-old Dylann Roof, in Shelby, North Carolina. Roof later confessed that he committed the shooting in hopes of igniting a race war.

The United States Department of Justice investigated whether the shooting was a hate crime or an act of domestic terrorism, eventually indicting Roof on 33 federal hate crime charges. Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is one of the United States’ oldest black churches and has long been a site for community organization around civil rights. Roof is to be indicted on federal hate crime charges, and has been charged with nine counts of murder by the State of South Carolina. If convicted, he could face a sentence of death or thirty years to life in prison. A website apparently published by Roof included a manifesto detailing his beliefs on race, as well as several photographs showing him posing with emblems associated with white supremacy. Roof’s photos of the Confederate battle flag triggered debate on its modern display. In November 2016, Roof was declared competent to stand trial for the crimes.

 

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June 23: Brexit – The United Kingdom Votes to Leave European Union (United Kingdom)
The United Kingdom European Union Membership Referendum, also known as the EU referendum and the Brexit referendum (a portmanteau of “British exit”), took place on 23 June 2016 in the United Kingdom (UK) and Gibraltar to gauge support for the country’s continued membership in the European Union (EU). The result was an overall vote to leave the EU, of 51.9% on a national turnout of 72%, the highest ever for a UK-wide referendum and the highest for any national vote since the 1992 General Election. In the constituent countries of the United Kingdom, a majority in England and Wales voted to leave, and a majority in Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain. The British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar also voted to remain. To start the process to leave the EU, which is expected to take several years, the British government will have to invoke Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. The UK government has announced that it will start the formal process of leaving the EU (triggering article 50) by March 2017.

Membership of the EU and its predecessors had long been a topic of debate in the United Kingdom. The country joined the European Economic Community (EEC, or “Common Market”) in 1973. A referendum on continued EEC membership was held in 1975, and it was approved by 67% of voters. Historical opinion polls 1973-2015 tended to reveal majorities in favor of remaining in the EEC, EC or EU. In accordance with a Conservative Party manifesto commitment, the legal basis for a referendum was established by the UK Parliament through the European Union Referendum Act 2015.

“Britain Stronger” in Europe was the official group campaigning for the UK to remain in the EU and was endorsed by the Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne. “Vote Leave” was the official group campaigning for the UK to leave the EU and was fronted by the Conservative MP Boris Johnson and Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove.

Immediately following the result, Cameron announced he would resign, having campaigned unsuccessfully for a “Remain” vote. He was succeeded by Theresa May on July 13. The opposition Labour Party also faced a leadership challenge as a result of the EU referendum. In response to the result, the Scottish Government announced that it would plan for a possible second referendum on independence from the United Kingdom, and that it would like to “explore all the possible options to protect Scotland’s place in the EU.”

Financial markets reacted negatively in the immediate aftermath of the result. Investors in worldwide stock markets lost more than the equivalent of 2 trillion US dollars on 24 June 2016, making it the worst single-day loss in history, in absolute terms. The market losses amounted to 3 trillion US dollars by June 27.

 

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A man celebrates the signing of a historic ceasefire deal between the Colombian government and FARC rebels at Botero Square in Medellin, Colombia, on June 23, 2016. The sign reads, “RIP the War in Colombia 1964 – 2016.” (Photo: Fredy Builes / Reuters)

June 23: Colombia and FARC Agree to End 52 Year Civil War (Havana, Cuba)
The Colombian Peace Agreement refers to the peace process between the Colombian government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC–EP) to bring an end to the Colombian conflict. Negotiations began in September 2012, and mainly took place in Havana, Cuba. On June 23, the government and the FARC reached an agreement on three of the main points – bilateral and definite ceasefire, decommissioning of weapons and security guarantees – of the third item on the agenda, ‘end of the conflict’.

 

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A woman and her children in a camp for internally displaced persons, in Yola, the capital of Adamawa, Nigeria, after members of the Boko Haram rebel group attacked their home. (Photo: UNICEF/ Abdrew)

June 26: Nigerian Army Rescues 5,000 from Boko Haram (Borno, Nigeria)
The Nigerian army says it has rescued more than 5,000 people who were being held hostage by Boko Haram following a clearing operation in four remote villages in the northeastern Borno state. The fighting led to the killing of one civilian and six Boko Haram fighters. The 5,000 rescued, mostly women and children, had been living under Boko Haram for more than six years, since the armed group launched its violent campaign in 2009. The army also reported that two other Boko Haram fighters were killed in a separate mission to 11 villages in Borno. Boko Haram pledged support for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) last year. See The Brutal Toll of Boko Haram Attacks on Civilians for additional information.

 

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Family members, colleagues and friends of the victims of Tuesday blasts gather for a memorial ceremony at the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Thursday, June 30, 2016. Turkish authorities have banned distribution of images relating to the Ataturk airport attack within Turkey. (Photo: AP Photo/ Emrah Gurel)

June 28: Atatürk Airport Attack (Istanbul, Turkey)
A terrorist attack, consisting of shootings and suicide bombings, occurred on 28 June 2016 at Atatürk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey. Gunmen armed with automatic weapons and explosive belts staged a simultaneous attack at the international terminal of Terminal 2. Forty-five people were killed, in addition to the three attackers, and more than 230 people were injured.

Media reports indicated that the three attackers were believed by Turkish officials to have come from Russia and Central Asia. Turkish officials said the attackers were acting on behalf of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant and had come to Turkey from ISIL-controlled Syria. Commentators suggested that the attacks may have been related to stepped-up pressure against the group by Turkish authorities. No one claimed responsibility for the attack.

 

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A victim of summary execution, with packing tape wrapped around his head and a sign on his chest that reads, “I am a Chinese drug lord,” found along Road 10 in Manila. (Photo: Linus G. Escandor II/PRI)

June 30: Philippine President Declares ‘Bloody War on Drugs’ in Inaugural Address (Manila, Philippines)
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was elected in May promising a “bloody war” on drugs. Since he took office in June, he has made good on that pledge. Roughly 5,000 people have been killed since the war on drugs began in July, according to the Philippines National Police. Two thousand were killed in encounters with police and 3,000 in extrajudicial or vigilante-style killings. The international community, human rights groups, Roman Catholic activists and the families of many of those killed during the crackdown say that the vast majority of victims were poor Filipinos, many of whom had nothing to do with the drug trade. Those presumed guilty are not accorded an accusation and a trial, but are simply shot down in the streets, the critics say.

This is not the first time, Duterte has been accused of gross human rights violations. While he was the mayor of Davao City in the southern Philippines, hundreds of people were killed by what human rights groups say were government-linked death squads. Mr. Duterte denies involvement with the killings but made little secret of his support for a violent approach to curbing crime.

 


People gather at site of suicide car bombing in Karrada shopping area in Baghdad on July 3, 2016. (Photo: Reuters)

July 3: Karrada Bombing (Baghdad, Iraq)
On 3 July 2016, a coordinated bomb attack in Baghdad resulting in the deaths of over 300 and injured hundreds more. A few minutes after midnight local time (2 July, 21:00 UTC), a suicide truck targeted the mainly Shia district of Karrada, busy with late night shoppers for Ramadan. A second roadside bomb was detonated in the suburb of Sha’ab, killing at least five.

The Islamic State issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack, naming the Karrada bomber as Abu Maha al-Iraqi. There were reports that the source of the blast was a refrigerator van packed with explosives. The explosion caused a huge fire on the main street. Several buildings, including the popular Hadi Center, were badly damaged. The bombing is the second-worst suicide attack in Iraq by death toll after the 2007 Yazidi communities bombings and the deadliest terrorist attack in Iraq carried by a single bomber.

 

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A body lies next to a baby doll on July 15, 2016 after a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday July 14. (Photo: Eric Gaillard/ Reuters)

July 14: Bastille Day Attack (Nice, France)
On the evening of 14 July 2016, a 19 tonne cargo truck was deliberately driven into crowds celebrating Bastille Day on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, resulting in the deaths of 86 people and injuring 434. The driver was Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a Tunisian resident of France. The attack ended following an exchange of gunfire, during which Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was shot and killed by police.

Five hours after the attack, French President François Hollande announced an extension of the state of emergency (which had been declared following the November 2015 Paris attacks) for a further three months, announced an intensification of the French military attacks on ISIL in Syria and Iraq, and suggested the attack might have been Islamic terrorism. France later extended the state of emergency until 26 January 2017.

Later on 15 July, the French government declared three days of national mourning starting 16 July. On 16 July, two agencies linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed that the attack was inspired by the organization. On 21 July, Paris prosecutor François Molins said that Lahouaiej-Bouhlel planned the attack for months and had help from accomplices. By 1 August, six suspects had been taken into custody on charges of “criminal terrorist conspiracy”, three of whom were also charged for complicity in murder connected to a terrorist organization.

 

Turkey Military Coup
Turkish soldiers secure the area, as supporters of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan protest in Istanbul’s Taksim square, early Saturday, July 16, 2016. (Photo: Emrah Gurel/ AP)

July 15: Turkish Coup d’Etat Attempt (Turkey)
On 15 July 2016, a coup d’état was attempted in Turkey against state institutions, including, but not limited to the government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The attempt was carried out by a faction within the Turkish Armed Forces that organized themselves as the Peace at Home Council. They attempted to seize control of several key places in Ankara, Istanbul, and elsewhere, but failed to do so after forces loyal to the state defeated them. The Council cited an alleged erosion of secularism, the elimination of democratic rule, a disregard for human rights, and Turkey’s loss of credibility in the international arena as reasons for the coup. The government accused the coup leaders of being linked to the Gülen movement, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the Republic of Turkey and led by Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish businessman and cleric who lives in Pennsylvania, United States. Erdoğan accuses Gülen of being behind the coup—a claim that Gülen denies—and accused the United States of harboring him. Events surrounding the coup attempt and the purges in its aftermath reflect a complex power struggle between Islamist and ultranationalist elites in Turkey.

During the coup, over 300 people were killed and more than 2,100 were injured. Many government buildings, including the Turkish Parliament and the Presidential Palace, were damaged. Mass arrests followed, with at least 40,000 detained, including at least 10,000 soldiers and, for reasons that remain unclear, 2,745 judges.15,000 education staff were also suspended and the licenses of 21,000 teachers working at private institutions were revoked as well after the government alleged they were loyal to Gülen. More than 100,000 people have been purged.

 

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Portraits of five Dallas and DART police officers shot to death by a sniper on July 12, 2016, are displayed during the memorial service at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas. (Photo: Paul Moseley / Ft. Worth Star Telegram)

July 17: Five Dallas Police Officers Ambushed and Killed (Dallas, Texas)
On July 7, 2016, Micah Xavier Johnson ambushed and fired upon a group of police officers in Dallas, Texas, killing five officers and injuring nine others. Two civilians were also wounded. Johnson was an Army Reserve Afghan War veteran who was reportedly angry over police shootings of black men and stated that he wanted to kill white people, especially white police officers. The shooting happened at the end of a peaceful protest against police killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, which had occurred in the preceding days.

Following the shooting, Johnson fled inside a building on the campus of El Centro College. Police followed him there, and a standoff ensued. In the early hours of July 8, police killed Johnson with a bomb attached to a remote control bomb disposal robot. It was the first time U.S. law enforcement used a robot to kill a suspect.

The shooting was the deadliest incident for U.S. law enforcement since the September 11 attacks, surpassing two related March 2009 shootings in Oakland, California and a November 2009 ambush shooting in Lakewood, Washington; both of these incidents each killed four officers.

 


A Venezuelan woman, who lives in Malaga, protests against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government and the repression in Venezuela, in Malaga, southern Spain on March 29, 2014 (Photo: Jon Nazca/ Reuters)

July 22: Venezuelan President Declares State of Economic Emergency (Venezuela)
In 22 July 2016 decree, President Nicolás Maduro used his executive power to declare a state of economic emergency. The decree could force citizens to work in agricultural fields and farms for 60-day (or longer) periods to supply food to the country. Colombian border crossings have been temporarily opened to allow Venezuelans to purchase food and basic household and health items in Colombia in mid-2016. In September 2016, a study published in the Spanish-language Diario Las Américas indicated that 15% of Venezuelans are eating “food waste discarded by commercial establishments”.

In October 2016, Fox News Latino reported that during a month-long riot at the Táchira Detention Center in Caracas, 40 inmates dismembered and consumed three fellow inmates. There have been close to 200 prison riots in Venezuela in 2016, with the cause being attributed to a worsening social situation, increasing poverty, and food shortages leading to overcrowded prisons.

 

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Standing Rock Protesters (Photo: Getty Images + Pacific Press)

July 27: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Sues U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (Standing Rock Reservation, North Dakota)
The Dakota Access Pipeline is a part of the, a 1,172-mile-long (1,825 km), 30-inch diameter pipeline underground oil pipeline project in the United States. The pipeline is being planned by Dakota Access, LLC, a subsidiary of the Dallas, Texas corporation Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. It begins in the Bakken oil fields in Northwest North Dakota and is set to travel in a more or less straight line southeast, through South Dakota and Iowa, and end at the oil tank farm near Patoka, Illinois. The pipeline is designed transport as many as 570,000 barrels of crude oil daily. Using the Nationwide Permit 12 process that treats the pipeline as a series of small construction sites, the pipeline was granted an exemption from the environmental review required by the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. The nearly $4 billion project was first proposed in 2014 and is anticipated for delivery on January 1, 2017.

Routing the pipeline across the Missouri River near Bismarck was rejected because of the route’s proximity to municipal water sources, residential areas and roads, wetland, and waterway crossings. The Bismarck route would also have been 11 miles longer. The alternative selected by the Corps of Engineers crosses underneath Missouri River, the primary drinking water source for the Standing Rock Sioux, a tribe of around 10,000 with a reservation in the central part of North and South Dakota. A spill could have major adverse effects on the waters that the Tribe and individuals in the area rely upon. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has reported more than 3,300 incidents of leaks and ruptures at oil and gas pipelines since 2010. And even the smallest spill could damage the tribe’s water supply. The Standing Rock Sioux also argue that the pipeline traverses a sacred burial ground. And while the land being used for the pipeline is not technically on its reservation, tribal leaders argue that the federal government did not adequately engage the Standing Rock Sioux during the permitting process—a requirement under federal law.

Citing potential effects on the environment and lack of consultation with the Native tribes, most notably the Standing Rock Sioux, in March and April 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Interior (DOI), and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a formal Environmental Impact Assessment and issue an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Construction continued.

On July 27, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, alleging that the agency violated the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NHPA requires the agency to consider the cultural significance of federally-permitted sites and NEPA to consider the implications for the waterways. The tribe is seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to stop the pipeline. It also sought a preliminary injunction. The litigation is ongoing, but on September 9, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg denied the tribe’s motion to halt construction while the case winds through the courts.

After the hearing, a joint statement was issued by the US Departments of Justice, Army, and Interior temporarily halting the project on federal land bordering or under the Lake Oahe reservoir. The US federal government asked the company for a “voluntary pause” on construction near that area until further study was done on the region extending 20 miles around Lake Oahe. As of September, the U.S Department of Justice had received more than 33,000 petitions to review all permits and order a full review of the project’s environmental effects.

 

Flint Water
Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards shows the difference in water between Detroit and Flint. Flint has faced a water contamination crisis since it switched water sources but did not treat the water to prevent lead, a potent neurotoxin, from leaching out of pipes. (Photo: Jake May, The Flint Journal, MLIVE.com)

July 29: Michigan Attorney Charges Government Officials for Flint Water Crisis (Flint, Michigan)
The Flint water crisis is a drinking water contamination issue in Flint, Michigan, United States that started in April 2014. After Flint changed its water source from treated Detroit Water and Sewerage Department water (which was sourced from Lake Huron as well as the Detroit River) to the Flint River (to which officials had failed to apply corrosion inhibitors), its drinking water had a series of problems that culminated with lead contamination, creating a serious public health danger. The Flint River water that was treated improperly caused lead from aging pipes to leach into the water supply, causing extremely elevated levels of the heavy metal neurotoxin. In Flint, between 6,000 and 12,000 children have been exposed to drinking water with high levels of lead and they may experience a range of serious health problems. Due to the change in water source, the percentage of Flint children with elevated blood-lead levels may have risen from about 2.5% in 2013 to as much as 5% in 2015. The water change is also a possible cause of an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the county that has killed 10 people and affected another 77.

Several lawsuits have been filed against government officials on the issue, and several investigations have been opened. On January 5, 2016, the city was declared to be in a state of emergency by the Governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, before President Barack Obama declared it as a federal state of emergency, authorizing additional help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security less than two weeks later.

Governor Snyder issued an apology to citizens and promised to fix the problem, and then sent $28 million to Flint for supplies, medical care and infrastructure upgrades, and later budgeted an additional $30 million to Flint that will give water bill credits of 65% for residents and 20% for businesses. Another $165 million for lead pipe replacements and water bill reimbursements was approved by Governor Snyder on June 29, 2016.

Four government officials—one from the City of Flint, two from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), and one from the Environmental Protection Agency—resigned over the mishandling of the crisis, and one additional MDEQ staff member was fired. On July 29, 2016, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette charged six additional people with crimes in the crisis, three from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and three from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

 

brazil-favelas
The opening ceremony of the Olympics featured a nod to the country’s favelas, the informally built neighborhoods where some fifteen million Brazilians live. (Photo: Ian Walton/ Getty)

August 5-21: Olympics in Brazil Exposes Gentrification and Inequality of Favelas (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
In 2008, as the city of Rio de Janeiro prepared its bid for the 2016 Olympics, special law-enforcement divisions, known as Police Pacification Units, started operating in the city’s favelas, sweeping out drug gangs and establishing permanent police presences in three dozen such neighborhoods for the first time ever. The hope was for law enforcement to forge peaceful ties with these communities and make the city as a whole safer. At first, it seemed to work. Rio’s homicide rate plunged.But, like so much else in Brazil lately, the program failed to live up to its promise.

Since 2009, when Rio won the bidding to hold the Games, more than twenty thousand families have been evicted from their homes in favelas to make way for arenas and infrastructural projects. Intent on projecting a modern image for the Olympics, Rio’s mayor Eduardo Paes has insisted that those people forced to relocate received indemnities, rent assistance, or new apartments in affordable-housing projects. He underplayed the fact that, according to the researcher Lucas Faulhaber, of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, many of these twenty thousand families ended up having to move as far as thirty miles from the communities where they had previously made their lives.

Other disappointments include the notorious case from 2013, when pacification officers in the massive favela of Rocinha tortured and disappeared a construction worker named Amarildo de Souza. An epileptic, Souza is believed to have died after being subjected to electric shocks during an interrogation. While twelve officers were convicted in connection with the case, the damage done to the community’s trust has been immense. Pacification officers have since largely reverted to a more traditional, quasi-military role in Rio’s favelas. Police in the city still kill someone almost every day.

 

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The faces of some of the more than 60 lawyers killed in Baluchistan’s capital of Quetta, Pakistan on August 8, 2016 (Photo: BBC Twitter via @Shaimaakhalil)

August 8: Terrorist Attack on Government Hospital Kills Entire Generation of Lawyers (Quetta, Pakistan)
Baluchistan is a place that desperately needs lawyers. It is Pakistan’s largest province by area and the home of a decades-old separatist insurgency, fueled by real grievances over neglect and lack of political representation. It is also increasingly the target of Sunni extremists, who bomb and kill its Shiite minorities. What leaders the province has are widely considered corrupt. Dozens of local journalists have been kidnapped in the past few years. It is nearly impossible for foreign reporters to enter Baluchistan. Lawyers are almost all that give the province a semblance of justice.

But on 8 August 2016, terrorists attacked the Government Hospital of Quetta in Pakistan with a suicide bombing and shooting. They killed 74 and injured more than 130 others. Most of the fatalities were lawyers who had assembled at the hospital where the body of Advocate Bilal Anwar Kasi, the president of Balochistan Bar Association, was brought after he was shot dead by an unknown gunman. Responsibility for the attack has been claimed by various Islamist groups like Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and the Islamic State. Between 70 and 94 people were killed and over 120 injured. 54 of those killed were lawyers.

A week earlier, another lawyer was fatally shot. In June, the principal of the province’s law college was, too. A generation of lawyers has been wiped out in Quetta, and it will leave Baluchistan, in more ways than one, lawless.

Quetta suffered  another another attack on 24 October 2016, when three heavily armed terrorists carried out an attack on the Balochistan police training college. At least 61 cadets and were killed and more than 165 others were injured. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province claimed responsibility for the attack, and Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed to have collaborated with them. According to Pakistani authorities, the assailants came from Afghanistan and were in contact with their handlers there while perpetrating the attack.

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Footage shared online by the Aleppo Media Center is said to show a boy who was pulled from an airstrike on Aug. 17 in the Syrian city of Aleppo. (Photo: Aleppo Media Center)

August 17: The Boy in the Ambulance (Aleppo, Syria)
Sometimes you read something so eloquently written you just have to share it. The following excerpt comes from a TIME magazine article published on August 17. 

Hitting the play button begins a scene that has played out in Syria thousands of times over the past five years. It’s dark and men are frantically yelling. A young child, later identified by media citing medical workers as five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, is passed between the arms of his rescuers from a building in Aleppo. He’s caked in dust. The left side of his face is smeared with blood.

He doesn’t make a sound.

In a moment of pure horror, the boy lifts his left hand to his face, runs his fingers through his hair and then back down the side of his face before dropping it down. He looks at the palm of his hand and, unsure what to do, turns it over and wipes it on the seat. In that moment, he was like every other kid, trying to get something off his hand.

He doesn’t make a sound.

That was [some] of the first 37 seconds of footage shared on Aug. 17 by the Aleppo Media Center, reportedly showing the immediate aftermath of an apparent Syrian government or Russian airstrike in a rebel-held neighborhood of the northern city, which for years has been a battleground between government and opposition forces. The footage and a picture of the boy were shared widely online in the hours that followed.

The photographer was identified by the Associated Press as Mahmoud Raslan, who said Omran was rescued from the building with three siblings and their parents. He told the AP that none had sustained life-threatening injuries.

The picture instantly recalls that of Alan Kurdi, the Syrian-Kurdish toddler who was found dead on the Turkish shoreline almost a year ago. Kurdi, in a red t-shirt and blue shorts, was face down. The world soon learned that he had died with his older brother and mother after their boat capsized overnight on the way to Greece. That picture went viral online during the historic influx of migrants and refugees into Europe, highlighting the thousands who perished trying to flee something bad for something better.

The images of Alan and Omran do have similarities: a young boy in a vulnerable position, alone. They each instantly became the face of their own tragedy, a response of sorts to the major global players who could push to end the madness: Kurdi, as a dead refugee, and Omran, as one of the thousands of Syrian children caught in an endless war.

But Omran is unique. It’s that he is alive. It’s that he is, to a point, aware. It’s his face. It cannot be unseen.

Read the entire article here.

 

peace-deal
Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos (left) seals the deal in a handshake with the head of the Farc, Rodrigo Londono, in the presence of Cuban president Raul Castro. (Photo: AFP Photo/ Getty Images)

August 24: Colombia and FARC Final Agreement to End Conflict (Havana, Cuba & Cartagena, Colombia)
President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC announced a final agreement to end the conflict and build a lasting peace on August 24, 2016. But the peace agreement was rejected on 2 October 2016, after 50.21% of voters voted against the referendum and 49.79% voted in favor. On November 24, the Colombian government and FARC signed a revised peace deal. The revised agreement will be submitted to Congress for approval, bypassing the referendum process.

 

dapl
Protesters block highway 1806 in Mandan during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, North Dakota, Nov. 23, 2016. (Photo: Stephanie Keith / Reuters)

September 3: Dakota Access Pipeline Security Firm Uses Dogs and Pepper Spray On Peaceful Protesters (Standing Rock Reservation, North Dakota)
During the Labor Day weekend, on September 3, the Dakota Access Pipeline hired a private security firm and used bulldozers to dig up part of the pipeline route that contained possible Native graves and burial artifacts; it was subject to a pending injunction motion. The bulldozers arrived within a day after the tribe filed legal action. Energy Transfer bulldozers cut a two-mile (3200 m) long, 150-foot (45 m) wide path through the contested area.

When unarmed protesters crossed the perimeter fence to stop the bulldozers, the guards used pepper spray and guard dogs to attack the protesters. At least six protesters were treated for dog bites, and an estimated 30 were pepper-sprayed before the guards and their dogs left the scene in trucks. A woman that had taken part in the incident stated, “The cops watched the whole thing from up on the hills. It felt like they were trying to provoke us into being violent when we’re peaceful.” The incident was filmed by Amy Goodman and a crew from Democracy Now! Footage shows several people with dog bites and a dog with blood on its muzzle.

As of mid-October there had been over 140 arrests, including Standing Rock Tribal Chairman David Archambault II who was charged with disorderly conduct. Arrest warrants were also issued in Morton County for Democracy Now! journalist Amy Goodman as well as Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her running mate Ajamu Baraka on misdemeanor counts of criminal trespass and criminal mischief. Some protesters arrested for misdemeanors and taken to the Morton County jail have reported what they considered harsh and unusual treatment.

While the protests have drawn international attention and have been said to be “reshaping the national conversation for any environmental project that would cross the Native American land”, there was limited mainstream media coverage of the events in the United States until early September. The struggle continues. Learn more about the Dakota Access Pipeline, including how you can help.

 

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October 14: President Obama Further Normalizes Relations with Cuba (Washington, D.C. & Havana, Cuba)
On October 14, President Obama moved to cement his administration’s historic opening with Cuba by issuing a sweeping directive that will last beyond his presidency, setting forth a new United States policy to lift the Cold War trade embargo and end a half-century of clandestine plotting against Cuba’s government. The action formalizes the shift toward normalization that the president unveiled nearly two years ago with the announcement that he and President Raúl Castro of Cuba had secretly agreed to repair their countries’ relationship. President Obama also made what aides said were likely his final major modifications to loosen United States sanctions on Cuba before leaving office, including lifting the $100 limit on bringing Cuban rum and cigars into the United States.

 

hate-rising

October 18: Hate Rising – Univision Journalists Jorge Ramos’ Documentary Explores the State of Hate in America (United States)
A new film, “Hate Rising,” reported by Fusion and Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, shows the astonishing and very concerning rise of hate in America. From the Ku Klux Klan to the so-called alt-right movement, white supremacist groups. They are a small, but growing radical segment of the white non-hispanic population that feels threatened by the demographic changes in the country and is resisting the possibility of becoming a minority. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) estimates that the number of radical groups operating in the U.S. has grown from 784 in 2014 to 892 in 2015; and organizations affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan from 72 to 190. The SPLC has dubbed the mainstreaming of such hate groups “the Trump Effect“, due in part rhetoric Trump used during the election cycle.

Throughout the documentary, Ramos explores the mainstreaming of these ideas on TV and social media, and in our communities and classrooms. Over four months, he traveled to small towns across the nation speaking with neo-Nazis, members of the KKK, and the alt-right. He also heard stories of Muslims and Latinos who have been the victims of hate crimes. Last year, Ramos himself, a Mexican immigrant who is also an American citizen, experienced the anger and intolerance simmering at the surface of our society when a Trump supporter told him to “get out of my country.”

“Hate Rising” is directed by Catherine Tambini and produced in conjunction with Fusion and Univision Story House.

 

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October 24: The New York Times Names All the People and Things Trump Has Insulted on Twitter During His Campaign (New York, NY)
Throughout the 2016 election, Donald Trump weaponized his Twitter account to malign his opponents and give oxygen to conspiracy theories and hate groups around the country. The Republican nominee has done so with such frequency that on many occasions his social media outbursts went well beyond his 5.9 million followers to dominate entire news cycles for days on end.

The New York Times cataloged every insult to appear on Trump’s Twitter account since he launched his campaign in June 2015. On October 24, the paper devoted two full pages of its print edition to showcasing its impressive work. The shortlist includes: President Obama, all of the 2016 presidential nominees, a disabled journalists, FOX News’ Megyn Kelly, the mainstream media, women, blacks, Mexicans, a Gold Star Family, military generals and veterans. Ironically, the presidential nominee has showered praise on foreign dictators and authoritarians such as Vladimir Putin (Russia), Kim Jung-un (North Korea), and Bashar al-Assad (Syria), Muammar Gaddafi (deceased; Libya), and Saddam Hussein (deceased; Iraq).

migrants-mediterranean
The majority of migrant border-related deaths since January have occurred in the Mediterranean sea. According to estimates by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR, 3,800 people have died since the beginning of the year trying to reach European territory by crossing the Mediterranean. This figure represents 75% of the total migration-related deaths in the world this year. (Photo: Massimo Sestini/ eyevine).

October 26: Mediterranean Migrant Deaths Reach Record Level in 2016
“We can confirm that at least 3,800 people have been reported dead or missing in the Mediterranean Sea so far this year, making the death toll in 2016 the highest ever recorded,” UN refugee agency spokesman William Spindler tweeted, as the figures passed last year’s mark of 3,771. The sombre milestone was reached despite a significant decline in migrant crossing this year compared to 2015.

Last year, more than a million people reached Europe via the Mediterranean, but crossings so far this year remain below 330,000. Numbers began dropping dramatically following a March deal between Turkey and the European Union to stem the migrant tide on the Greek islands. The most dangerous route has been the Central Mediterranean route between Libya and Italy, where the United Nations has recorded one death for every 47 arrivals this year. For the much shorter Turkey to Greece route, the likelihood of perishing was one in 88, UNHCR said. Last year the rate was roughly one in 289 arrivals.

The agency explained that death rates have spiked despite nearly a two-thirds drop in total migration because smugglers are “often using lower quality vessels — flimsy inflatable rafts that do not last the journey.” Smugglers also appear to be packing increasing numbers of people on boats, possibly to drive up profits, UNHCR further said. Shipwrecks involving more people have reduced rescue rates, the agency added, also noting that several disasters this year have been linked to bad weather.

 

nobel-peace-prize
Juan Manuel Santos’ photo in Nobel’s Garden, Nobel Peace Center. The Norwegian Nobel Committee decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2016 to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos “for his resolute efforts to bring the country’s more than 50-year-long civil war to an end, a war that has cost the lives of at least 220,000 Colombians and displaced close to six million people”. (Photo: The Norwegian Nobel Committee)

November 7: Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Awarded Nobel Peace Prize (Oslo, Norway)
The president of Colombia was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on November 7 for pursuing a deal to end 52 years of conflict with FARC, a leftist rebel group, the longest-running war in the Americas, just five days after Colombians rejected the agreement in a shocking referendum result. Mr. Santos dedicated the prize to his fellow Colombians, especially the victims of the long conflict, and called on the opponents of the peace deal to join him in securing an end to hostilities.

 

2016 Election Trump
President-Elect Donald J. Trump with his family on November 8, 2016 after election results are announced by the media.(Photo: AP)

November 8: Donald J. Trump Wins Election to Become 45th President (United States)
Donald John Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States on Tuesday in a stunning culmination of an explosive, populist and polarizing campaign that took relentless aim at the institutions and long-held ideals of American democracy. The surprise outcome, defying late polls that showed Hillary Clinton with a modest but persistent edge, threatened convulsions throughout the country and the world, where skeptics had watched with alarm as Mr. Trump’s unvarnished overtures and racists demagoguery to disillusioned voters took hold.

The triumph for Mr. Trump, 70, a real estate developer-turned-reality television star with no government experience, was a powerful rejection of the establishment forces that had assembled against him, from the world of business to government, and the consensus they had forged on everything from trade to immigration.

Democrat Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton received over 2 million more votes than Trump, earning the majority of the popular vote. Protests in the form of school walkouts, marches, and boycotts erupted across the country, with protesters chanting #NotMyPresident and tweeting #LoveTrumpHates.

 

Paris Attacks Anniversary
People enter the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, on Nov. 12, 2016. A concert by British pop legend Sting is marking the reopening of the Paris’ Bataclan. (Photo: Kamil Zihnioglu / AP)

November 12: Bataclan Night Reopens with Sting Taking Center Stage (Paris, France)
Sting reopened the Bataclan a year after 90 people were massacred by ISIS gunmen at a packed rock concert. The English singer-songwriter and former Police frontman is staging the first gig at the 150-year-old venue since the deadly terror attack that took place on 13 November last year.

Greeted on the stage to loud cheers, Sting, 65, paid tribute to those who were killed in the venue and called for the audience to stage a minute’s silence in their honor.

Speaking in French, the musician said: “We’ve got two important things to do tonight. First, to remember and honour those who lost their lives in the attacks a year ago, and to celebrate the life and the music of this historic venue: “So before we begin, I would like to ask that we observe one minute of silence … We shall not forget them.” After the minute of silence, the star launched into a string of hits, beginning with his song ‘Fragile’, singing: “Nothing comes from violence and nothing will”.

 

Neo Nazi Rally
Members of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement hold flags as they salute and shout “Sieg Heil” during a rally in front of the Statehouse in Trenton, N.J. (Photo: Mel Evans/ AP)

November 14: Hate Crimes On Rise Since Trump Elected President (United States)
Racist incidents have been on the rise across the United States since Donald Trump was elected president. Details of disturbing incidents have been popping up on social media since Tuesday and some experts say it’s the biggest rise in these types of events since right after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

“Since the election, we’ve seen a big uptick in incidents of vandalism, threats, intimidation spurred by the rhetoric surrounding Mr. Trump’s election,” Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center. “The white supremacists out there are celebrating his victory and many are feeling their oats.” The SPLC has recorded more than 200 complaints since the election. Several news sources, including SLATE have compiled an incomplete list of racist incidents since Trump was elected on November 8, 2016.

 

blm-ieshia
Ieshia Evans, a nurse from Brooklyn, stands alone calmly while facing heavily-armed police officers who rush in to arrest her Saturday outside the Baton Rouge Police Department. Evans traveled to Louisiana to protest against the killing of Alton Sterling. (Photo: Jonathan Bachman/ Reuters)

November 16: New York Times Reports on Lack of Accountability in Police-Involved Deaths of Blacks (United States)
According to The New York Times, there have been 13 cases that have fueled outrage, heightened racial tensions and instigated protests around the nation. In some of the cases, the police offered an explanation for their actions, but raw videos led many to conclude that the police actions were unjustified.

So far, officers have been indicted or charged in seven cases. In four cases,
grand juries declined to bring charges. Officers in all 13 cases were placed on administrative leave or reassigned — a routine step that is not a form of discipline, said Christopher Dunn, the associate legal director at the New York Civil Liberties Union. Criminal charges have been brought against officers in fewer than half of the cases. Indictments are usually handed up by local grand juries, which make the decision in secret.

Courts have given leeway to the police on using deadly physical force if officers reasonably feel their lives are in danger, and juries are often reluctant to convict police officers, Mr. Dunn said. Prosecutors may feel pressure not to charge officers because they work with and rely on the police daily, and at times, facts can be distorted or withheld by the police, leaving prosecutors with incomplete or wrong information, he said. However, for victims’ families, “some action against the officer is very important to them, whether that’s criminal prosecution or dismissal from the department,” Mr. Dunn said.

 

Mideast Iraq
Civilians and security forces gather at the scene of a suicide bomb attack in Hillah, about 60 miles (95 kilometers) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, March 6, 2016. A suicide bomber on Sunday rammed his explosives-laden fuel truck into a security checkpoint south of Baghdad, killing and wounding dozens, officials said, the latest episode in an uptick in violence in the war-ravaged country. (AP Photo/ Anmar Khalil)

November 24: Hillah Suicide Truck Bombing (Hillah, Iraq)
A suicide truck bombing occurred on 24 November 2016 when a truck bomb exploded at a petrol station in Hillah, some 62 miles away from southern Baghdad killing at least 100 people and many other injured while Shia pilgrims were on route back to Iran after Arba’een Pilgrimage-2016. Besides, Iranians, there were people from Basra and Nasiriyah as well.

 

A man displays bolivar notes that he carries to pay for goods at a street market in Caracas
A man displays bolivar notes that he carries to pay for goods at a street market in Caracas on Oct. 1, 2015. (Marco Bello /Reuters)

November 25: Venezuela’s Economy Continues to Collapse (Venezuela)
On November 25, The New York Times reported that hungry Venezuelans are fleeing on boats to escape the economic collapse. Well over 150,000 Venezuelans have fled the country in the last year alone, the highest in more than a decade, according to scholars studying the exodus. But perhaps most startling are the Venezuelans now fleeing by sea, an image so symbolic of the perilous journeys to escape Cuba or Haiti — but not oil-rich Venezuela.

On November 28, the Washington Post reported inflation is expected to reach 720 percent this year and the biggest bill — 100 bolivars — is worth about 5 U.S. cents on the black market. The currency has dropped dramatically in value as Venezuela’s oil-based economy has cratered and the government has frantically printed more money. Prices, meanwhile, are soaring. So Venezuelans must handle huge volumes of cash — so much that the bills don’t always fit in a standard wallet — with many people packing wads of currency in handbags, money belts or backpacks.

 

alton-sterling-1
Still images from video show Alton Sterling as he is shot dead by police during an incident captured on the mobile phone camera of shop owner Abdullah Muflahi in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, July 5, 2016. (Photo: Handout / Reuters)

November 30: Native American and Blacks Are Disproportionately Killed by Police (United States)
The year isn’t over yet, and police have already killed at least 977 people — many of whom were unarmed, mentally ill, and people of color. This number comes from The Counted, The Guardian database of police-involved shooting in the United States. Two other reliable databases have slightly different numbers. The Killed by Police database counts 1056 people who have died at the hands of police so far this year. The Washington Post’s database, Fatal Force, reports that 878 people have been shot and killed by cops. All three databases operate in virtual real-time and generally update the information pursuant to their methodologies as well as their verification and publication protocols. Ironically, the existence of these three databases stands as a constant reminder that police killings were not tracked with any consistency in the past.

Going by the The Counted’s numbers, Native Americans (7.6%) and Blacks (5.84%) are being killed at the highest rates in the United States. There have been 233 black people killed by police so far this year, at a rate of 5.84 deaths per million. February and March were the deadliest months this year, with 100 people killed by police in each month. Police have killed 80 people this month – 27 were of unknown ethnicities, 26 were white, 14 were black, and 12 were Hispanic/ Latino.


Notable Deaths Since June 2016 – An Incomplete List
The names are listed and the slideshow images appear in the order of each person’s passing. Click the (text) name to be redirected to the respective obituary.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Muhammad Ali, 74 (1/17/1942 – 6/3/2016)
Alvin Toffler, 87 (10/4/1928 – 6/27/2016)
Pat Summitt, 64 (6/14/1952 – 6/28/2016)
Elie Wiesel, 87 (9/30/1928 – 7/2/2016)
Gene Wilder, 83 (6/11/1933 – 8/29/2016)
José D. Fernández, 24 (7/31/1992 – 9/25/2016)
Shimon Peres, 93 (8/2/1923 – 9/28/2016)
E. Barrett Prettyman, Jr., 91 (6/1/1925 – 11/4/2016)
Ralph J. Cicerone, 73 (5/2/1943 – 11/5/2016)
Janet Reno, 78 (7/21/1938 – 11/7/2016)
Yaffa Eliach, 79 (5/31/1937 – 11/8/2016)
Greg Ballard, 61 (1/29/1955 – 11/9/2016)
Gwen Ifill, 61 (9/29/1955 – 11/14/2016)
Sharon Jones, 60 (5/4/1956 – 11/18/2016)
Theresa Manuel, 90 (1/7/1926 – 11/21/2016)
Fidel Castro, 91 (8/13/1926 – 11/25/2016)

Click here for a comprehensive list of of all 2016 deaths

Jesse Williams’ Powerful BET Award Speech Addresses Police Brutality, Racism in America

Jessie Williams BET
Jesse Williams accepts the Humanitarian Award on stage during the 2016 BET Awards. (Photo: Kevin Winter/BET/Getty Images for BET)

Actor Jesse Williams is best known for his role on the TV show Grey’s Anatomy. But on the night of June 26, he earned a standing ovation at the BET Awards for the powerful speech he gave when accepting the 2016 BET Humanitarian Award. Williams paid homage to police shooting victims, including Rekia Boyd, Sandra Bland and Tamir Rice, who would have turned 14 years old on Saturday (June 25th) had he not been gunned down by police in Cleveland. Below is a transcript of Williams’ speech in its entirety.

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Before we get into it, I just want to say, you know, I brought my parents out tonight. I just want to thank them for being here, for teaching me to focus on comprehension over career, that they made sure I learned what the schools were afraid to teach us. And also I thank my amazing wife for changing my life.

Now, this award, this is not for me. This is for the real organizers all over the country—the activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers, the students—that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do. All right? It’s kind of basic mathematics. The more we learn about who we are and how we got here, the more we will mobilize.

Now, this is also, in particular, for the black women, in particular, who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves. We can and will do better for you.

Now, what we’ve been doing is looking at the data. And we know that police somehow manage to de-escalate, disarm and not kill white people every day. So what’s going to happen is we are going to have equal rights and justice in our own country, or we will restructure their function and ours.

Now, I got more, y’all. Yesterday would have been young Tamir Rice’s 14th birthday. So I don’t want to hear anymore about how far we’ve come, when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on a 12-year-old playing alone in a park in broad daylight, killing him on television and then going home to make a sandwich. Tell Rekia Boyd how it’s so much better to live in 2012 than it is to live in 1612 or 1712. Tell that to Eric Garner. Tell that to Sandra Bland. Tell that to Darrien Hunt.

Now the thing is, though, all of us in here getting money, that alone isn’t going to stop this. All right? Now, dedicating our lives—dedicating our lives to get money, just to give it right back for someone’s brand on our body, when we spent centuries praying with brands on our bodies, and now we pray to get paid for brands on our bodies?

There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There has been no job we haven’t done. There’s no tax they haven’t levied against us, and we’ve paid all of them. But freedom is somehow always conditional here. “You’re free,” they keep telling us, “but she would have been alive if she hadn’t acted so free.” Now, freedom is always coming in the hereafter. But you know what, though? The hereafter is a hustle. We want it now.

And let’s get—let’s get a couple things straight. Just a little side note. The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander. That’s not our job. All right? Stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest—if you have no interest in equal rights for black people, then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.

We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries, yo, and we’re done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us, burying black people out of sight and out of mind, while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil—black gold—ghettoizing and demeaning our creations, then stealing them, gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit. The thing is, though—the thing is that just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.

In Her Own Words: A Rape Survivors Addresses Her Rapist In Court

Rape 2

 

One night in January 2015, two Stanford University graduate students biking across campus spotted a freshman thrusting his body on top of an unconscious, half-naked woman behind a dumpster. This March, a California jury found the former student, 20-year-old Brock Allen Turner, guilty of three counts of sexual assault. Turner faced a maximum of 14 years in state prison. On June 2, he was sentenced to six months in county jail and probation. Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky said he feared a longer sentence would have a “severe impact” on Turner, a champion swimmer who once aspired to compete in the Olympics — a point repeatedly brought up during the trial.

But by the early hours of Tuesday morning, more than 191,000 people had signed a Change.org petition to recall Persky, a possibility in California, where judges are elected.

“Judge Persky failed to see that the fact that Brock Turner is a white male star athlete at a prestigious university does not entitle him to leniency,” the petition read. “He also failed to send the message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class, race, gender or other factors. Please help rectify this travesty to justice.”

Stanford University released a statement Monday deflecting criticism of its handling of the case. The school did “everything within its power to assure that justice was served in this case,” from immediately investigating the incident to referring it to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution, the statement said.

On June 2, Turner’s victim addressed him directly, detailing the severe impact his actions had on her — from the night she learned she had been assaulted by a stranger while unconscious, to the grueling trial during which Turner’s attorneys argued that she had eagerly consented. The woman, now 23, told the press she was disappointed with the “gentle” sentence and angry that Turner still denied sexually assaulting her.

✒ Her words, which need no introduction, are below.


Your Honor, if it is all right, for the majority of this statement I would like to address the defendant directly.

You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.

On January 17th, 2015, it was a quiet Saturday night at home. My dad made some dinner and I sat at the table with my younger sister who was visiting for the weekend. I was working full time and it was approaching my bed time. I planned to stay at home by myself, watch some TV and read, while she went to a party with her friends. Then, I decided it was my only night with her, I had nothing better to do, so why not, there’s a dumb party ten minutes from my house, I would go, dance like a fool, and embarrass my younger sister. On the way there, I joked that undergrad guys would have braces. My sister teased me for wearing a beige cardigan to a frat party like a librarian. I called myself “big mama”, because I knew I’d be the oldest one there. I made silly faces, let my guard down, and drank liquor too fast not factoring in that my tolerance had significantly lowered since college.

The next thing I remember I was in a gurney in a hallway. I had dried blood and bandages on the backs of my hands and elbow. I thought maybe I had fallen and was in an admin office on campus. I was very calm and wondering where my sister was. A deputy explained I had been assaulted. I still remained calm, assured he was speaking to the wrong person. I knew no one at this party. When I was finally allowed to use the restroom, I pulled down the hospital pants they had given me, went to pull down my underwear, and felt nothing. I still remember the feeling of my hands touching my skin and grabbing nothing. I looked down and there was nothing. The thin piece of fabric, the only thing between my vagina and anything else, was missing and everything inside me was silenced. I still don’t have words for that feeling. In order to keep breathing, I thought maybe the policemen used scissors to cut them off for evidence.

Then, I felt pine needles scratching the back of my neck and started pulling them out my hair. I thought maybe, the pine needles had fallen from a tree onto my head. My brain was talking my gut into not collapsing. Because my gut was saying, help me, help me.

I shuffled from room to room with a blanket wrapped around me, pine needles trailing behind me, I left a little pile in every room I sat in. I was asked to sign papers that said “Rape Victim” and I thought something has really happened. My clothes were confiscated and I stood naked while the nurses held a ruler to various abrasions on my body and photographed them. The three of us worked to comb the pine needles out of my hair, six hands to fill one paper bag. To calm me down, they said it’s just the flora and fauna, flora and fauna. I had multiple swabs inserted into my vagina and anus, needles for shots, pills, had a Nikon pointed right into my spread legs. I had long, pointed beaks inside me and had my vagina smeared with cold, blue paint to check for abrasions.

After a few hours of this, they let me shower. I stood there examining my body beneath the stream of water and decided, I don’t want my body anymore. I was terrified of it, I didn’t know what had been in it, if it had been contaminated, who had touched it. I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.

On that morning, all that I was told was that I had been found behind a dumpster, potentially penetrated by a stranger, and that I should get retested for HIV because results don’t always show up immediately. But for now, I should go home and get back to my normal life. Imagine stepping back into the world with only that information. They gave me huge hugs and I walked out of the hospital into the parking lot wearing the new sweatshirt and sweatpants they provided me, as they had only allowed me to keep my necklace and shoes.

My sister picked me up, face wet from tears and contorted in anguish. Instinctively and immediately, I wanted to take away her pain. I smiled at her, I told her to look at me, I’m right here, I’m okay, everything’s okay, I’m right here. My hair is washed and clean, they gave me the strangest shampoo, calm down, and look at me. Look at these funny new sweatpants and sweatshirt, I look like a P.E. teacher, let’s go home, let’s eat something. She did not know that beneath my sweatsuit, I had scratches and bandages on my skin, my vagina was sore and had become a strange, dark color from all the prodding, my underwear was missing, and I felt too empty to continue to speak. That I was also afraid, that I was also devastated. That day we drove home and for hours in silence my younger sister held me.


My boyfriend did not know what happened, but called that day and said, “I was really worried about you last night, you scared me, did you make it home okay?” I was horrified. That’s when I learned I had called him that night in my blackout, left an incomprehensible voicemail, that we had also spoken on the phone, but I was slurring so heavily he was scared for me, that he repeatedly told me to go find [my sister]. Again, he asked me, “What happened last night? Did you make it home okay?” I said yes, and hung up to cry.

I was not ready to tell my boyfriend or parents that actually, I may have been raped behind a dumpster, but I don’t know by who or when or how. If I told them, I would see the fear on their faces, and mine would multiply by tenfold, so instead I pretended the whole thing wasn’t real.

I tried to push it out of my mind, but it was so heavy I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone. After work, I would drive to a secluded place to scream. I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone, and I became isolated from the ones I loved most. For over a week after the incident, I didn’t get any calls or updates about that night or what happened to me. The only symbol that proved that it hadn’t just been a bad dream, was the sweatshirt from the hospital in my drawer.

One day, I was at work, scrolling through the news on my phone, and came across an article. In it, I read and learned for the first time about how I was found unconscious, with my hair disheveled, long necklace wrapped around my neck, bra pulled out of my dress, dress pulled off over my shoulders and pulled up above my waist, that I was butt naked all the way down to my boots, legs spread apart, and had been penetrated by a foreign object by someone I did not recognize. This was how I learned what happened to me, sitting at my desk reading the news at work. I learned what happened to me the same time everyone else in the world learned what happened to me. That’s when the pine needles in my hair made sense, they didn’t fall from a tree. He had taken off my underwear, his fingers had been inside of me. I don’t even know this person. I still don’t know this person. When I read about me like this, I said, this can’t be me, this can’t be me. I could not digest or accept any of this information. I could not imagine my family having to read about this online. I kept reading. In the next paragraph, I read something that I will never forgive; I read that according to him, I liked it. I liked it. Again, I do not have words for these feelings.

It’s like if you were to read an article where a car was hit, and found dented, in a ditch. But maybe the car enjoyed being hit. Maybe the other car didn’t mean to hit it, just bump it up a little bit. Cars get in accidents all the time, people aren’t always paying attention, can we really say who’s at fault.

And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times. She was found breathing, unresponsive with her underwear six inches away from her bare stomach curled in fetal position. By the way, he’s really good at swimming. Throw in my mile time if that’s what we’re doing. I’m good at cooking, put that in there, I think the end is where you list your extracurriculars to cancel out all the sickening things that’ve happened.

The night the news came out I sat my parents down and told them that I had been assaulted, to not look at the news because it’s upsetting, just know that I’m okay, I’m right here, and I’m okay. But halfway through telling them, my mom had to hold me because I could no longer stand up.

The night after it happened, he said he didn’t know my name, said he wouldn’t be able to identify my face in a lineup, didn’t mention any dialogue between us, no words, only dancing and kissing. Dancing is a cute term; was it snapping fingers and twirling dancing, or just bodies grinding up against each other in a crowded room? I wonder if kissing was just faces sloppily pressed up against each other? When the detective asked if he had planned on taking me back to his dorm, he said no. When the detective asked how we ended up behind the dumpster, he said he didn’t know. He admitted to kissing other girls at that party, one of whom was my own sister who pushed him away. He admitted to wanting to hook up with someone. I was the wounded antelope of the herd, completely alone and vulnerable, physically unable to fend for myself, and he chose me. Sometimes I think, if I hadn’t gone, then this never would’ve happened. But then I realized, it would have happened, just to somebody else. You were about to enter four years of access to drunk girls and parties, and if this is the foot you started off on, then it is right you did not continue. The night after it happened, he said he thought I liked it because I rubbed his back. A back rub.

Never mentioned me voicing consent, never mentioned us even speaking, a back rub. One more time, in public news, I learned that my ass and vagina were completely exposed outside, my breasts had been groped, fingers had been jabbed inside me along with pine needles and debris, my bare skin and head had been rubbing against the ground behind a dumpster, while an erect freshman was humping my half naked, unconscious body. But I don’t remember, so how do I prove I didn’t like it.

I thought there’s no way this is going to trial; there were witnesses, there was dirt in my body, he ran but was caught. He’s going to settle, formally apologize, and we will both move on. Instead, I was told he hired a powerful attorney, expert witnesses, private investigators who were going to try and find details about my personal life to use against me, find loopholes in my story to invalidate me and my sister, in order to show that this sexual assault was in fact a misunderstanding. That he was going to go to any length to convince the world he had simply been confused.

I was not only told that I was assaulted, I was told that because I couldn’t remember, I technically could not prove it was unwanted. And that distorted me, damaged me, almost broke me. It is the saddest type of confusion to be told I was assaulted and nearly raped, blatantly out in the open, but we don’t know if it counts as assault yet. I had to fight for an entire year to make it clear that there was something wrong with this situation.

How old are you? How much do you weigh? What did you eat that day? Well what did you have for dinner? Who made dinner? Did you drink with dinner? No, not even water? When did you drink? How much did you drink? What container did you drink out of? Who gave you the drink? How much do you usually drink? Who dropped you off at this party? At what time? But where exactly? What were you wearing? Why were you going to this party? What’ d you do when you got there? Are you sure you did that? But what time did you do that? What does this text mean? Who were you texting? When did you urinate? Where did you urinate? With whom did you urinate outside? Was your phone on silent when your sister called? Do you remember silencing it? Really because on page 53 I’d like to point out that you said it was set to ring. Did you drink in college? You said you were a party animal? How many times did you black out? Did you party at frats? Are you serious with your boyfriend? Are you sexually active with him? When did you start dating? Would you ever cheat? Do you have a history of cheating? What do you mean when you said you wanted to reward him? Do you remember what time you woke up? Were you wearing your cardigan? What color was your cardigan? Do you remember any more from that night? No? Okay, well, we’ll let Brock fill it in.

I was pummeled with narrowed, pointed questions that dissected my personal life, love life, past life, family life, inane questions, accumulating trivial details to try and find an excuse for this guy who had me half naked before even bothering to ask for my name. After a physical assault, I was assaulted with questions designed to attack me, to say see, her facts don’t line up, she’s out of her mind, she’s practically an alcoholic, she probably wanted to hook up, he’s like an athlete right, they were both drunk, whatever, the hospital stuff she remembers is after the fact, why take it into account, Brock has a lot at stake so he’s having a really hard time right now.

And then it came time for him to testify and I learned what it meant to be revictimized. I want to remind you, the night after it happened he said he never planned to take me back to his dorm. He said he didn’t know why we were behind a dumpster. He got up to leave because he wasn’t feeling well when he was suddenly chased and attacked. Then he learned I could not remember.

So one year later, as predicted, a new dialogue emerged. Brock had a strange new story, almost sounded like a poorly written young adult novel with kissing and dancing and hand holding and lovingly tumbling onto the ground, and most importantly in this new story, there was suddenly consent. One year after the incident, he remembered, oh yeah, by the way she actually said yes, to everything, so.

He said he had asked if I wanted to dance. Apparently I said yes. He’d asked if I wanted to go to his dorm, I said yes. Then he asked if he could finger me and I said yes. Most guys don’t ask, can I finger you? Usually there’s a natural progression of things, unfolding consensually, not a Q and A. But apparently I granted full permission. He’s in the clear. Even in his story, I only said a total of three words, yes yes yes, before he had me half naked on the ground. Future reference, if you are confused about whether a girl can consent, see if she can speak an entire sentence. You couldn’t even do that. Just one coherent string of words. Where was the confusion? This is common sense, human decency.

According to him, the only reason we were on the ground was because I fell down. Note; if a girl falls down help her get back up. If she is too drunk to even walk and falls down, do not mount her, hump her, take off her underwear, and insert your hand inside her vagina. If a girl falls down help her up. If she is wearing a cardigan over her dress don’t take it off so that you can touch her breasts. Maybe she is cold, maybe that’s why she wore the cardigan.

Next in the story, two Swedes on bicycles approached you and you ran. When they tackled you why didn’t say, “Stop! Everything’s okay, go ask her, she’s right over there, she’ll tell you.” I mean you had just asked for my consent, right? I was awake, right? When the policeman arrived and interviewed the evil Swede who tackled you, he was crying so hard he couldn’t speak because of what he’d seen.

Your attorney has repeatedly pointed out, well we don’t know exactly when she became unconscious. And you’re right, maybe I was still fluttering my eyes and wasn’t completely limp yet. That was never the point. I was too drunk to speak English, too drunk to consent way before I was on the ground. I should have never been touched in the first place. Brock stated, “At no time did I see that she was not responding. If at any time I thought she was not responding, I would have stopped immediately.” Here’s the thing; if your plan was to stop only when I became unresponsive, then you still do not understand. You didn’t even stop when I was unconscious anyway! Someone else stopped you. Two guys on bikes noticed I wasn’t moving in the dark and had to tackle you. How did you not notice while on top of me?

You said, you would have stopped and gotten help. You say that, but I want you to explain how you would’ve helped me, step by step, walk me through this. I want to know, if those evil Swedes had not found me, how the night would have played out. I am asking you; Would you have pulled my underwear back on over my boots? Untangled the necklace wrapped around my neck? Closed my legs, covered me? Pick the pine needles from my hair? Asked if the abrasions on my neck and bottom hurt? Would you then go find a friend and say, Will you help me get her somewhere warm and soft? I don’t sleep when I think about the way it could have gone if the two guys had never come. What would have happened to me? That’s what you’ll never have a good answer for, that’s what you can’t explain even after a year.

On top of all this, he claimed that I orgasmed after one minute of digital penetration. The nurse said there had been abrasions, lacerations, and dirt in my genitalia. Was that before or after I came?

To sit under oath and inform all of us, that yes I wanted it, yes I permitted it, and that you are the true victim attacked by Swedes for reasons unknown to you is appalling, is demented, is selfish, is damaging. It is enough to be suffering. It is another thing to have someone ruthlessly working to diminish the gravity of validity of this suffering.

My family had to see pictures of my head strapped to a gurney full of pine needles, of my body in the dirt with my eyes closed, hair messed up, limbs bent, and dress hiked up. And even after that, my family had to listen to your attorney say the pictures were after the fact, we can dismiss them. To say, yes her nurse confirmed there was redness and abrasions inside her, significant trauma to her genitalia, but that’s what happens when you finger someone, and he’s already admitted to that. To listen to your attorney attempt to paint a picture of me, the face of girls gone wild, as if somehow that would make it so that I had this coming for me. To listen to him say I sounded drunk on the phone because I’m silly and that’s my goofy way of speaking. To point out that in the voicemail, I said I would reward my boyfriend and we all know what I was thinking. I assure you my rewards program is non transferable, especially to any nameless man that approaches me.

He has done irreversible damage to me and my family during the trial and we have sat silently, listening to him shape the evening. But in the end, his unsupported statements and his attorney’s twisted logic fooled no one. The truth won, the truth spoke for itself.

You are guilty. Twelve jurors convicted you guilty of three felony counts beyond reasonable doubt, that’s twelve votes per count, thirty ­six yeses confirming guilt, that’s one hundred percent, unanimous guilt. And I thought finally it is over, finally he will own up to what he did, truly apologize, we will both move on and get better. Then I read your statement.

Rape 1

If you are hoping that one of my organs will implode from anger and I will die, I’m almost there. You are very close. This is not a story of another drunk college hook­up with poor decision making. Assault is not an accident. Somehow, you still don’t get it. Somehow, you still sound confused. I will now read portions of the defendant’s statement and respond to them.

You said, Being drunk I just couldn’t make the best decisions and neither could she.

Alcohol is not an excuse. Is it a factor? Yes. But alcohol was not the one who stripped me, fingered me, had my head dragging against the ground, with me almost fully naked. Having too much to drink was an amateur mistake that I admit to, but it is not criminal. Everyone in this room has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much, or knows someone close to them who has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much. Regretting drinking is not the same as regretting sexual assault. We were both drunk, the difference is I did not take off your pants and underwear, touch you inappropriately, and run away. That’s the difference.

You said, If I wanted to get to know her, I should have asked for her number, rather than asking her to go back to my room.

I’m not mad because you didn’t ask for my number. Even if you did know me, I would not want to be in this situation. My own boyfriend knows me, but if he asked to finger me behind a dumpster, I would slap him. No girl wants to be in this situation. Nobody. I don’t care if you know their phone number or not.

You said, I stupidly thought it was okay for me to do what everyone around me was doing, which was drinking. I was wrong.

Again, you were not wrong for drinking. Everyone around you was not sexually assaulting me. You were wrong for doing what nobody else was doing, which was pushing your erect dick in your pants against my naked, defenseless body concealed in a dark area, where partygoers could no longer see or protect me, and my own sister could not find me. Sipping fireball is not your crime. Peeling off and discarding my underwear like a candy wrapper to insert your finger into my body, is where you went wrong. Why am I still explaining this.

You said, During the trial I didn’t want to victimize her at all. That was just my attorney and his way of approaching the case.

Your attorney is not your scapegoat, he represents you. Did your attorney say some incredulously infuriating, degrading things? Absolutely. He said you had an erection, because it was cold.

You said, you are in the process of establishing a program for high school and college students in which you speak about your experience to “speak out against the college campus drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that.”

Campus drinking culture. That’s what we’re speaking out against? You think that’s what I’ve spent the past year fighting for? Not awareness about campus sexual assault, or rape, or learning to recognize consent. Campus drinking culture. Down with Jack Daniels. Down with Skyy Vodka. If you want talk to people about drinking go to an AA meeting. You realize, having a drinking problem is different than drinking and then forcefully trying to have sex with someone? Show men how to respect women, not how to drink less.

Drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Goes along with that, like a side effect, like fries on the side of your order. Where does promiscuity even come into play? I don’t see headlines that read, Brock Turner, Guilty of drinking too much and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Campus Sexual Assault. There’s your first powerpoint slide. Rest assured, if you fail to fix the topic of your talk, I will follow you to every school you go to and give a follow up presentation.

Lastly you said, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin a life.

A life, one life, yours, you forgot about mine. Let me rephrase for you, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives. You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect. You have dragged me through this hell with you, dipped me back into that night again and again. You knocked down both our towers, I collapsed at the same time you did. If you think I was spared, came out unscathed, that today I ride off into sunset, while you suffer the greatest blow, you are mistaken. Nobody wins. We have all been devastated, we have all been trying to find some meaning in all of this suffering. Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrollment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.

See one thing we have in common is that we were both unable to get up in the morning. I am no stranger to suffering. You made me a victim. In newspapers my name was “unconscious intoxicated woman”, ten syllables, and nothing more than that. For a while, I believed that that was all I was. I had to force myself to relearn my real name, my identity. To relearn that this is not all that I am. That I am not just a drunk victim at a frat party found behind a dumpster, while you are the All­ American swimmer at a top university, innocent until proven guilty, with so much at stake. I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt, my life was put on hold for over a year, waiting to figure out if I was worth something.

My independence, natural joy, gentleness, and steady lifestyle I had been enjoying became distorted beyond recognition. I became closed off, angry, self deprecating, tired, irritable, empty. The isolation at times was unbearable. You cannot give me back the life I had before that night either. While you worry about your shattered reputation, I refrigerated spoons every night so when I woke up, and my eyes were puffy from crying, I would hold the spoons to my eyes to lessen the swelling so that I could see. I showed up an hour late to work every morning, excused myself to cry in the stairwells, I can tell you all the best places in that building to cry where no one can hear you. The pain became so bad that I had to explain the private details to my boss to let her know why I was leaving. I needed time because continuing day to day was not possible. I used my savings to go as far away as I could possibly be. I did not return to work full time as I knew I’d have to take weeks off in the future for the hearing and trial, that were constantly being rescheduled. My life was put on hold for over a year, my structure had collapsed.

I can’t sleep alone at night without having a light on, like a five year old, because I have nightmares of being touched where I cannot wake up, I did this thing where I waited until the sun came up and I felt safe enough to sleep. For three months, I went to bed at six o’clock in the morning.

I used to pride myself on my independence, now I am afraid to go on walks in the evening, to attend social events with drinking among friends where I should be comfortable being. I have become a little barnacle always needing to be at someone’s side, to have my boyfriend standing next to me, sleeping beside me, protecting me. It is embarrassing how feeble I feel, how timidly I move through life, always guarded, ready to defend myself, ready to be angry.

You have no idea how hard I have worked to rebuild parts of me that are still weak. It took me eight months to even talk about what happened. I could no longer connect with friends, with everyone around me. I would scream at my boyfriend, my own family whenever they brought this up. You never let me forget what happened to me. At the of end of the hearing, the trial, I was too tired to speak. I would leave drained, silent. I would go home turn off my phone and for days I would not speak. You bought me a ticket to a planet where I lived by myself. Every time a new article come out, I lived with the paranoia that my entire hometown would find out and know me as the girl who got assaulted. I didn’t want anyone’s pity and am still learning to accept victim as part of my identity. You made my own hometown an uncomfortable place to be.

You cannot give me back my sleepless nights. The way I have broken down sobbing uncontrollably if I’m watching a movie and a woman is harmed, to say it lightly, this experience has expanded my empathy for other victims. I have lost weight from stress, when people would comment I told them I’ve been running a lot lately. There are times I did not want to be touched. I have to relearn that I am not fragile, I am capable, I am wholesome, not just livid and weak.

When I see my younger sister hurting, when she is unable to keep up in school, when she is deprived of joy, when she is not sleeping, when she is crying so hard on the phone she is barely breathing, telling me over and over again she is sorry for leaving me alone that night, sorry sorry sorry, when she feels more guilt than you, then I do not forgive you. That night I had called her to try and find her, but you found me first. Your attorney’s closing statement began, “[Her sister] said she was fine and who knows her better than her sister.” You tried to use my own sister against me? Your points of attack were so weak, so low, it was almost embarrassing. You do not touch her.

You should have never done this to me. Secondly, you should have never made me fight so long to tell you, you should have never done this to me. But here we are. The damage is done, no one can undo it. And now we both have a choice. We can let this destroy us, I can remain angry and hurt and you can be in denial, or we can face it head on, I accept the pain, you accept the punishment, and we move on.

Your life is not over, you have decades of years ahead to rewrite your story. The world is huge, it is so much bigger than Palo Alto and Stanford, and you will make a space for yourself in it where you can be useful and happy. But right now, you do not get to shrug your shoulders and be confused anymore. You do not get to pretend that there were no red flags. You have been convicted of violating me, intentionally, forcibly, sexually, with malicious intent, and all you can admit to is consuming alcohol. Do not talk about the sad way your life was upturned because alcohol made you do bad things. Figure out how to take responsibility for your own conduct.

Now to address the sentencing. When I read the probation officer’s report, I was in disbelief, consumed by anger which eventually quieted down to profound sadness. My statements have been slimmed down to distortion and taken out of context. I fought hard during this trial and will not have the outcome minimized by a probation officer who attempted to evaluate my current state and my wishes in a fifteen minute conversation, the majority of which was spent answering questions I had about the legal system. The context is also important. Brock had yet to issue a statement, and I had not read his remarks.

My life has been on hold for over a year, a year of anger, anguish and uncertainty, until a jury of my peers rendered a judgment that validated the injustices I had endured. Had Brock admitted guilt and remorse and offered to settle early on, I would have considered a lighter sentence, respecting his honesty, grateful to be able to move our lives forward. Instead he took the risk of going to trial, added insult to injury and forced me to relive the hurt as details about my personal life and sexual assault were brutally dissected before the public. He pushed me and my family through a year of inexplicable, unnecessary suffering, and should face the consequences of challenging his crime, of putting my pain into question, of making us wait so long for justice.

I told the probation officer I do not want Brock to rot away in prison. I did not say he does not deserve to be behind bars. The probation officer’s recommendation of a year or less in county jail is a soft time­out, a mockery of the seriousness of his assaults, an insult to me and all women. It gives the message that a stranger can be inside you without proper consent and he will receive less than what has been defined as the minimum sentence. Probation should be denied. I also told the probation officer that what I truly wanted was for Brock to get it, to understand and admit to his wrongdoing.

Unfortunately, after reading the defendant’s report, I am severely disappointed and feel that he has failed to exhibit sincere remorse or responsibility for his conduct. I fully respected his right to a trial, but even after twelve jurors unanimously convicted him guilty of three felonies, all he has admitted to doing is ingesting alcohol. Someone who cannot take full accountability for his actions does not deserve a mitigating sentence. It is deeply offensive that he would try and dilute rape with a suggestion of “promiscuity.” By definition rape is the absence of promiscuity, rape is the absence of consent, and it perturbs me deeply that he can’t even see that distinction.

The probation officer factored in that the defendant is youthful and has no prior convictions. In my opinion, he is old enough to know what he did was wrong. When you are eighteen in this country you can go to war. When you are nineteen, you are old enough to pay the consequences for attempting to rape someone. He is young, but he is old enough to know better.

As this is a first offence I can see where leniency would beckon. On the other hand, as a society, we cannot forgive everyone’s first sexual assault or digital rape. It doesn’t make sense. The seriousness of rape has to be communicated clearly, we should not create a culture that suggests we learn that rape is wrong through trial and error. The consequences of sexual assault needs to be severe enough that people feel enough fear to exercise good judgment even if they are drunk, severe enough to be preventative.

The probation officer weighed the fact that he has surrendered a hard earned swimming scholarship. How fast Brock swims does not lessen the severity of what happened to me, and should not lessen the severity of his punishment. If a first time offender from an underprivileged background was accused of three felonies and displayed no accountability for his actions other than drinking, what would his sentence be? The fact that Brock was an athlete at a private university should not be seen as an entitlement to leniency, but as an opportunity to send a message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class.

The Probation Officer has stated that this case, when compared to other crimes of similar nature, may be considered less serious due to the defendant’s level of intoxication. It felt serious. That’s all I’m going to say.

What has he done to demonstrate that he deserves a break? He has only apologized for drinking and has yet to define what he did to me as sexual assault, he has revictimized me continually, relentlessly. He has been found guilty of three serious felonies and it is time for him to accept the consequences of his actions. He will not be quietly excused.

He is a lifetime sex registrant. That doesn’t expire. Just like what he did to me doesn’t expire, doesn’t just go away after a set number of years. It stays with me, it’s part of my identity, it has forever changed the way I carry myself, the way I live the rest of my life.

To conclude, I want to say thank you. To everyone from the intern who made me oatmeal when I woke up at the hospital that morning, to the deputy who waited beside me, to the nurses who calmed me, to the detective who listened to me and never judged me, to my advocates who stood unwaveringly beside me, to my therapist who taught me to find courage in vulnerability, to my boss for being kind and understanding, to my incredible parents who teach me how to turn pain into strength, to my grandma who snuck chocolate into the courtroom throughout this to give to me, my friends who remind me how to be happy, to my boyfriend who is patient and loving, to my unconquerable sister who is the other half of my heart, to Alaleh, my idol, who fought tirelessly and never doubted me. Thank you to everyone involved in the trial for their time and attention. Thank you to girls across the nation that wrote cards to my DA to give to me, so many strangers who cared for me.

Most importantly, thank you to the two men who saved me, who I have yet to meet. I sleep with two bicycles that I drew taped above my bed to remind myself there are heroes in this story. That we are looking out for one another. To have known all of these people, to have felt their protection and love, is something I will never forget.

And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you. As the author Anne Lamott once wrote, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you. Thank you.

The Panama Papers: ICIJ Investigators Expose Global Corruption and Crime

Corruption

The Panama Papers is an unprecedented, global investigation into the sprawling, secretive industry of offshore that the world’s rich and powerful use to hide assets and skirt rules by setting up front companies in far-flung jurisdictions.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, together with the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and more than 100 other media partners, spent a year sifting through 11.5 million leaked files to expose the offshore holdings of world political leaders, links to global scandals, and details of the hidden financial dealings of fraudsters, tax evasion, drug traffickers, billionaires, celebrities, sports stars and more.

The trove of documents is likely the biggest leak of inside information in history. It includes nearly 40 years of data from a little-known but powerful law firm based in Panama. That firm, Mossack Fonseca, has offices in more than 35 locations around the globe, and is one of the world’s top creators of shell companies, corporate structures that can be used to hide ownership of assets.

Executive producer: Hamish Boland-Rudder
Producer: Carrie Ching
Animation artist: Arthur Jones
Report: Will Fitzgibbon
Narrator: Eleanor Bell Fox
Supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

ICIJ’s analysis of the leaked records revealed information on more than 214,000 offshore companies connected to people in more than 200 countries and territories.

The leaked data reveals information about 140 politicians, 12 current or former heads of state from 50 countries, including Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad, Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak, and Libya’s former leader Muammar Qaddafi. It reported Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson stored millions of dollars of investments in Iceland’s major banks in an offshore company. The Guardian reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s associates secretly moved as much as $2 billion through offshore accounts. Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported Juan Pedro Damiani, the Uruguayan lawyer who is president of the country’s most popular soccer team and a FIFA ethics expert, managed companies through which FIFA members may have received bribes.

ICIJ’s data and research unit indexed, organized and analyzed the 2.6 terabytes of data that make up the leak, using collaborative platforms to communicate and share documents with over 100 news outlets and 400 journalists working in 25 languages in nearly 80 countries.

The first news reports based on the papers, and 149 of the documents themselves, were published on April 3, 2016. The ICIJ plans to publish a full list of companies involved in early May 2016.

Source: The Panama Papers | ICIJ


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❋ Mossack Fonseca: Statement Regarding Recent Media Coverage (Web/PDF)

Love in the Time of War: Newlyweds in Syria Amid the Ruins

Newly-wed Syrian couple Nada Merhi,18, and Syrian army soldier Hassan Youssef, 27, pose for a wedding picture amid heavily damaged buildings in the war ravaged city of Homs on February 5, 2016. (Photography: JOSEPH EID /AFP /Getty Images)

In Homs, Syria, where entire city blocks have been reduced to rubble by years of civil war, a Syrian wedding photographer thought of using the destruction of the city as a backdrop for pictures of newlywed couples “to show that life is stronger than death,” according to AFP photographer Joseph Eid. Here, Nada Merhi, 18, and her husband, Syrian army soldier Hassan Youssef, 27, pose for a series of wedding pictures amid heavily damaged buildings in Homs on February 5, 2016.

SYRIA-CONFLICT-DAILY LIFE-WEDDING

Joseph Eid / AFP / Getty Images

 

Joseph Eid / AFP / Getty Images

Joseph Eid / AFP / Getty Images

 

Joseph Eid / AFP / Getty Images

Joseph Eid / AFP / Getty Images

 

Joseph Eid / AFP / Getty Images

Joseph Eid / AFP / Getty Images

 

Joseph Eid / AFP / Getty Images

Joseph Eid / AFP / Getty Images

 

Joseph Eid / AFP / Getty Images

Joseph Eid / AFP / Getty Images

Source: Newlyweds in the Ruins: A Syrian Wedding Shoot by Alan Taylor | The Atlantic

The Playgrounds of Pakistan – Where Children Play and Die

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Angie Wang

Not far from the house where I grew up in Karachi, Pakistan, there was a children’s amusement park. It sat on top of a hill, its slides and swings beckoning children from the houses below. As summer vacations dragged on, my brother and I would hear the gleeful screams of other children, and we begged my mother to take us. It wasn’t an easy sell. “The swings are so rickety,” she would say one day. “Aren’t you afraid you will fall out of the spinning wheel?” she would say on another. We were a little afraid, but we ached to go. That park was the only one we knew, and if it was shabby, its toy horses and pretend cars worn and weary, it still held the promise of exhilaration.

Like children everywhere, we were drawn to being a little scared. That, after all, is the pull of the amusement park: small thrills ordered and anticipated, and then conquered, fear confronted and overcome. When we did get to go, our hearts pumped wildly at the crazy height of a swing, our breath raced as our bodies were flung about; all of it made us wild with joy. Like everywhere, there were small dangers: grim grown men who sat at the periphery, watching giggling children with beady eyes; boarded-up or broken rides, like ominous warnings of thrills gone wrong; beggars who beseeched us for the coins we clenched in our fists. But the heedlessness of childhood worked its wonders; the swings and the slides blurred them into the background.

The children who died in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park in Lahore on Sunday would have been riding those familiar crests of feeling: the wild joy of being high up or spun around mixing suddenly, grotesquely with the grim finality of death. Twenty-nine of the at least 72 dead were children, all of them, presumably, engaging in the child’s pastime of facing fear and surviving it. In the footage of the aftermath, their bloodied clothes and toys are strewn about; a green plastic toy car sits untouched in the rubble.

Their deaths are a stern rebuke to the country that failed them and to the world that turns away from them. The lurking men of the playgrounds of my childhood are no longer predictable villains, the deviants and kidnappers who feature in the cautionary tales told to children around the world. They are assassins, their hearts harnessed with explosives, their bodies bundled with bombs. The mothers refusing their children a trip to the amusement park will now tell them not about a rickety swing but about a bombing. Even the resilience of the very young cannot dream that away; the shadow of terror encroaches on childhood.

For much of the world, the deaths of Pakistani children are forgettable. They are, after all, the progeny of poor distant others destined to perish in ever more alarming ways. It may not be said, but it is believed that they are complicit in their own deaths, guilty somehow — even at 2 or 4 or 6 years of age — of belonging to a nation that the world has appointed as its own boogeyman, a repository of all its vilest trepidations. In December 2014, Taliban militants gunned down more than 140 people at a school in Peshawar, a vast majority of them students. A former American ambassador, speaking of his government’s lack of desire to help the Pakistani government fight extremists, put it succinctly: “There is great Pakistan fatigue in Washington.”

In the media, too, it seems. Two days after Sunday’s attack, Lahore has disappeared from the top headlines. Pakistan’s pain has already been extinguished from the global news cycle, its catastrophe a news item and not — as in Paris or Brussels — a news event. The world has many demands on its meager stores of empathy. The children’s names, their pictures, the terrain of the park where they fell to bits will never be familiar to a mourning world. Efforts to make the dead children of Pakistan real and innocent, worthy of a tear and not just a tweet, start, sputter and fizzle.

The playgrounds of Pakistan have fallen silent for the moment as the country buries its dead children. As I think of them, my ears ring with the sounds carried down by the wind from the playground on the hill. We wished to go when we couldn’t, but even that longing for the playground has now been denied to Pakistani children. What children ache to do when they stand on top of a slide or swing high in the air is simply to face their fear and vanquish it. In this the dead children of Lahore are braver than their country, braver than the world, braver than all of us who are scared but cannot confront our fears.

By Rafia Zakaria | NYT (OpEd)

UNICEF: Female Genital Mutilation More Widespread Than Previously Thought

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Among the Marakwet people of Kenya, FGM is still considered a prerequisite for marriage, marking the transition from girlhood to adulthood. Photograph: Siegfried Modola/ Reuters

“You are brave, you are courageous, tomorrow you are going to be a woman.” These words are what relatives of six-year-old Hibo Wardere told her the night before she was led to a makeshift hut in the Somalian capital of Mogadishu, where a local ‘cutter’ used a razor to remove her genitalia.

Wardere, now 46, is one of at least 200 million women and children who have experienced female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM) in more than 30 countries, according to new data from UNICEF. Not only is that total far higher than previous estimates, the practice is also more widespread than researchers thought.

UNICEF researchers have only been able to source national data from 30 nations, but there are reports of procedures happening in pockets of Europe, Colombia, the U.S., India and South East Asia.

New data from Indonesia, where around 50% of girls under 11 have been cut, was largely responsible for an explosion in overall figures of nearly 70 million more people than totals of three years ago.

“What is relevant to highlight is we have always thought the practice originated in Africa and remained concentrated in many parts of the Middle East, but now with new evidence…the focus becomes wider,” Claudia Cappa, lead author of UNICEF’s report on FGM, told TIME.

Although global prevalence of the practice has declined over the past three decades, booming youth demographics in developing countries where FGM is most common has meant that absolute numbers of victims are increasing.

Today, more than 100 million girls in Egypt, Ethiopia and Egypt have undergone FGM, UNICEF reports, and at least 90% of women and girls between 15-49 in Guinea, Somalia and Djibouti.


BLOOD, FEAR AND RITUAL: WITNESS TO FEMALE CIRCUMCISION IN KENYA | MEERI KOUTANIEMI-ECHO

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According to the World Health Organization, FGM is classified into four types. Each involves the partial to total removal of a female’s external genitalia for no medical reason. Wardere, today an FGM educator and author in London, says Type 3 is the most devastating. Known as infibulation, the clitoris and other parts of the genitalia are carved away, leaving a tiny opening after the remaining skin is stitched-up together. ‘It is basically a slab… a wall with tiny holes, it is a dangerous business and the psychological affects that come with it is massive” Wardere says.

In all types of FGM, the short-term risks include haemorrhaging, urine retention, shock and, in the worst case scenario, death, says Leyla Hussein, a prominent anti-FGM campaigner whose online petition successfully lobbied the British government to launch an inquiry into the practice. Victims must live with infections, painful and irregular menstrual cycles, cysts, sexual dysfunction and infertility.

The reasons why FGM is inflicted varies from country to country: it is related to specific regional practices found in Christian areas to Muslim countries, linked to female right-of-passage ceremonies or the idea of preserving virginity. But activists say the common link are entrenched, patriarchal communities. “Fundamentally, it is done to control women, that is why myself and millions of young girls have undergone this” says Hussein, who started the U.K.’s first counseling service for FGM survivors.

Activists say political will, education and community dialogue are now needed to stem the problem. Wardere, who works for a U.K. governmental pilot scheme that will teach students, teachers and local councils about the risks of being cut, says a 16-year-old girl realized she was a FGM victim after attending Wardere’s lecture. She then disclosed that fact to her teachers, so as to protect her younger sisters from suffering the same fate.

Some progress is being made; Since 2008, 15 thousand communities and sub-districts in 20 countries have publicly declared they are abandoning FGM. Surveys also show men from countries with high prevalence are becoming more opposed to the practice than girls or women. In Guinea, 41% of boys aged between 15 and 19 think the practice should end compared to 27% of girls the same age, UNICEF says, while in Sierra Leone over a third of men (36%) between the ages of 45 and 49 want it to end, compared to 13% of women.

If more men in areas of Africa and the Middle East knew the issues it creates with fertility and women’s health, activists say, those voices of opposition might be louder. “I challenge these communities who undergo the practice: if you want us to have children, then why do you make it so difficult?’” Hussein says.

Source:  Female Genital Mutilation More Widespread Than Previously Thought, UNICEF Says -By Tara John | TIME