Dictatorships

This image of Putin is illegal in Russia, so don’t distribute it. FUCK #PUTIN, and #RUSSIA

Since 2013, Russia has enforced “internet extremism” laws that forbid the dissemination of online content that the government finds offensive. Newly added to that list is an image that depicts Vladimir Putin as, in the words of the Washington Post, “a potentially gay clown.” As such, the above image is now illegal in Russia to share the above photo. It’s not illegal here, though.

This registry of “extremist materials” features the photo at number 4071, and the Post describes it thusly: “a picture of a Putin-like person ’with eyes and lips made up,’ captioned with an implicit anti-gay slur, implying ’the supposed nonstandard sexual orientation of the president of the Russian Federation.’”

Here it is again, should you need a reminder:

Do not distribute it in Russia.

CNN reports that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said of the photo: “You know how such things might hurt somebody’s feelings, but the President is quite resistant to such obscenity and learned how to not pay attention.”

That much is obvious, what with the 15-day prison sentence and fine of 3,000 rubles that hits anyone in Russia who would venture to go so far as to even retweet the image.

The image’s origins date back to as early as 2011, though it became common among those who would protest Putin’s 2013 “gay propaganda” law, which aims to protect children from the views of those with “nontraditional sexual relations.” Protests often found those arguing in favor of gay rights to be beaten or arrested.

Of course, there are plenty of other memes out there that might offend people who can’t bear the thought of Putin being associated with “nontraditional sexual relations.” Here’s a few below:

В РФ признали экстремистским плакат с накрашенными Путиным и Медведевым http://gordonua.com/news/worldnews/v-rf-priznali-ekstremistskim-plakat-s-nakrashennymi-putinym-i-medvedevym-181824.html 

Photo published for В РФ признали экстремистским плакат с накрашенными Путиным и Медведевым

В РФ признали экстремистским плакат с накрашенными Путиным и Медведевым

Картинка, на которой были изображены люди, похожие на президента РФ Владимира Путина и премьер-министра Дмитрия…

gordonua.com

View image on Twitter

#Saudi #woman pictured not wearing #hijab faces calls for her to be #killed, Saudi’s are #TOSSERS!

One social media user said: ‘Kill her and throw her corpse to the dogs’

saudi-woman.jpg

A woman in Saudi Arabia pictured without a hijab is facing calls for her to be killed.

Some social media users reacted with outrage after the emergence of the image taken in capital city Riyadh, with one man demanding: “Kill her and throw her corpse to the dogs”.

The photo was allegedly first posted by an account under the name of Malak Al Shehri, which has since been deleted, reports the International Business Times.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

A Saudi woman went out yesterday without an Abaya or a hijab in Riyadh Saudi Arabia and many Saudis are now demanding her execution.

An unnamed student who reposted the image told the website that Ms Al Shehri had announced she was going out to breakfast without either a hijab or abaya; a traditional Saudi body covering.

The student said she started receiving death threats after posting proof in response to followers who had asked to see a photo.

Saudi Arabia executes prince accused of killing man in brawl

“So many people retweeted it and what she did reached extremists, so she got threats,” the student said. “She deleted her tweets but they didn’t stop, so she deleted her account.”

A hashtag which translates into English as “we demand the imprisonment of the rebel Angel Al Shehri” subsequently went viral.

One user wrote “we propose blood”, while another demanded a “harsh punishment for the heinous situation”.

Despite the outrage, many more users in Saudi Arabia came out in support of the woman’s actions.

 

Chinese farmers take over former white-owned farms in Zimbabwe to cash in on tobacco

Gho Feng gives thumbs up at tobacco farm
Gho Feng gives thumbs up at tobacco farm CREDIT: TSVANGIRAI MUKWAZHI 

Chinese farmers have taken over formerly white-owned farmsfor the first time, investing millions of pounds into tobacco production.

Farms that were badly managed for nearly 20 years, after Robert Mugabe’s mass seizure of white-owned land, are now being worked again in the hope of reaping a  potentially huge reward.

At least five farms have attracted Chinese investment in Mashonaland Central, a region to the north-west of Harare, that was traditionally one of the country’s best tobacco-producing areas.

Safe in the knowledge that Mr Mugabe’s policy of strengthening ties with China will offer a degree of protection, they have poured money into machinery and are taking advice from international experts.

China has become the largest investor in Zimbabwe, the economy of which is still reeling from the land seizures of 2000 and hyperinflation, has taken a nosedive once again.

Unemployment is running at about 90 per cent and the regime is so short of money that it cannot pay teachers or civil servants.

Chen Li Jun,left, sits on a motorcycle with a farm worker 
Chen Li Jun,left, sits on a motorcycle with a farm worker  CREDIT: TSVANGIRAI MUKWAZHI 

The dire economic conditions have prompted rare protests against Mr Mugabe’s regime by a coalition of  opposition parties.

Yesterday, a heavy police presence in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare stopped a planned mass demonstration, as activists claimed police used live ammunition to disperse small protests.

While Zimbabwe’s land reform process has empowered around 60,000 small-scale black tobacco farmers, who grow lower grades of tobacco, many of the bigger farms distributed among Mr Mugabe’s cronies have not fared so well.

Farms just north of Harare lie fallow amid broken fences, fields scorched by fires and scarce livestock. There are few surviving indigenous trees as many were felled by new farmers who could not afford coal to cure their tobacco.

A generation of evicted white farmers have moved abroad or live hand-to-mouth, waiting for promised compensation.

Tsitsi Chiasan attends to tobacco seedlings
Tsitsi Chiasan attends to tobacco seedlings CREDIT: TSVANGIRAI MUKWAZHI 

One farm worker in Mvurwi, about 60 miles north of Harare, said there were now plenty of jobs in the district after years of difficulties following the departure of the white landowners. “The Chinese are spending money,” he said.

Experts believe that the five Chinese-run farms will, despite their limited experience, grow and cure about 1,500 acres of tobacco this year. They said the new  infrastructure including equipment manufactured by US company, Valley Irrigation, must have cost at least £7 million.

Anti-Mugabe protesters clash with police in ZimbabwePlay!00:43

An insider in the tobacco industry said the Chinese company would be paying a hefty rental for the land they are now using to the “political” men who now own the farms.

“The Chinese will pay a percentage of the income from the tobacco as rent,” he said. “Some of that rental should be shared with the white farmers who left their homes with nothing and received no compensation from the  government, but they probably don’t know their old farms are now about to start making money again.”

Phone Call Leaked! All USA People Need to See This! June 2016 New World Order Exposed !

Finally FOX News showing more PROOF and EVIDENCES for MARTIAL LAW and FEMA! Leak!! People of America urgent news!! Public utility! Update to JUNE 2016! Real Scenes! This video is very important! NEW EVIDENCES – NEW PROOF! All American people need to see this! GOV LEAKED! FEMA CAMPS and MARTIAL LAW are coming in 2016!! All Americans need to watch this!! Let’s Share… Share… this video must be shared with max number of people! make your part now, please share it! Because the Government Cover-up! Important: Before JUDGE, watch the whole video. MARTIAL LAW EMINENT APPROACH! MUST SEE!! URGENT VIDEO PUBLIC UTILITY! FEMA CAMPS IS REAL!! OBAMA IS LEAKED!

Phone call leaked! All USA people need to see this! JUNE 2016 NEW WORLD ORDER Exposed! pls share

Horrifying moment a taxi driver is surrounded by riot cops and beaten with truncheons

Horrifying moment a taxi driver is surrounded by riot cops and beaten with truncheons on the floor… during a protest about police brutality in Zimbabwe

  • Violent clashes between Zimbabwean police and protesters resulted in 30 arrests as a riot broke out in Harare
  • Demonstrators forced to lie down in dusty roads and battered by truncheons as police use tear gas and dogs
  • Protest over a number of issues including economic hardship, police brutality and Robert Mugabe’s government
  • A journalist saw protesters severely beat two police officers with sticks before taking their uniforms to wear them
  • Many rioters were young men who make a living from by charging a small fee to load passengers into minibuses
  • The majority of Zimbabwe’s citizens survive on just one US dollar (75p) a day, the official statistics agency says

Violent clashes between Zimbabwean police and protesters resulted in 30 arrests as a riot broke out over economic hardship, police brutality and Robert Mugabe’s government.

Demonstrators were forced to lie down in the dusty roads as machine gun-wielding officers fired warning shots and rounded up civilians in Harare.

One taxi driver can be seen getting a savage beating from six riot cops, another man has his head stood on by an officer carrying a machine gun and bloodied protesters are pictured running from the mayhem.

As well as a number of economical and political issues affecting workers, the protest was ironically about police brutality in the country.

Savage:Taxi driver surrounded by six riot cops who kick him and beat him with truncheons as another demonstrator escapes the fracas

Savage:Taxi driver surrounded by six riot cops who kick him and beat him with truncheons as another demonstrator escapes the fracas

Down in the dirt: Four police officers in riot gear carrying guns as they force protesters to the ground in Harare

Down in the dirt: Four police officers in riot gear carrying guns as they force protesters to the ground in Harare

Blood on the streets: One protester is helped away from the riots while a child (far right) watches on in horror having been caught up in the action on the way to school 

Blood on the streets: One protester is helped away from the riots while a child (far right) watches on in horror having been caught up in the action on the way to school

Police fire tear gas and water cannons at protesters

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Smoking barrel: A Zimbabwean police officer fires a warning shot as the riot gathers pace in the capital

Smoking barrel: A Zimbabwean police officer fires a warning shot as the riot gathers pace in the capital

Brutal: A protester has his face shoved into the dirt by a machine gun-wielding police officers boot as one of his colleagues goes after another civilian with a truncheon

Brutal: A protester has his face shoved into the dirt by a machine gun-wielding police officers boot as one of his colleagues goes after another civilian with a truncheon

Police in Zimbabwe’s capital have fired tear gas, water cannons and warning shots during riots by minibus drivers and others protesting alleged police harassment.

The violence in Harare, in which 30 people were arrested, came amid a surge in protests in recent weeks because of increasing economic hardship and alleged mismanagement by the government of President Robert Mugabe.

An Associated Press journalist saw protesters severely beat two police officers with sticks, then take their uniforms and helmets and wear them.

The protesters blocked roads leading into the centre of the city on Monday, forcing many people to walk up to six miles (10km) to get to work.

The violence in Harare, in which 30 people were arrested, came amid a surge in protests in recent weeks because of increasing economic hardship and alleged mismanagement by the government of President Robert Mugabe

The violence in Harare, in which 30 people were arrested, came amid a surge in protests in recent weeks because of increasing economic hardship and alleged mismanagement by the government of President Robert Mugabe

Outnumbered police later sought to negotiate with the crowds after failing to disperse thousands of protesters, who were concentrated in Harare's eastern suburbs

Outnumbered police later sought to negotiate with the crowds after failing to disperse thousands of protesters, who were concentrated in Harare’s eastern suburbs

Rioters threw stones at police and vehicles, and some children on their way to school were caught up in the chaos.

Outnumbered police later sought to negotiate with the crowds after failing to disperse thousands of protesters, who were concentrated in Harare’s eastern suburbs.

Many rioters were young men who cannot find regular employment and make a living from drivers by charging a small fee to load passengers into minibuses.

Some police were seen firing live ammunition into the air to ward off the crowds. They also brought in police dogs.

The drivers’ grievances stem from anger over numerous roadblocks that police sometimes set up in city streets, which drivers allege are to demand bribes.

Police said they had reduced the number of roadblocks after complaints from parliamentarians, tourism operators and others.

Many rioters were young men who cannot find regular employment and make a living from drivers by charging a small fee to load passengers into minibuses.

Many rioters were young men who cannot find regular employment and make a living from drivers by charging a small fee to load passengers into minibuses.

An Associated Press journalist saw protesters severely beat two police officers with sticks, then take their uniforms and helmets and wear them. A demonstrator, not involved in the attack, can be seen carrying two sticks

An Associated Press journalist saw protesters severely beat two police officers with sticks, then take their uniforms and helmets and wear them. A demonstrator, not involved in the attack, can be seen carrying two sticks

Burning issue: Mugabe, 92, has ruled the southern African country since independence from white minority rule in 1980, scoffing at frequent allegations of human rights violations

Burning issue: Mugabe, 92, has ruled the southern African country since independence from white minority rule in 1980, scoffing at frequent allegations of human rights violations

Thirty people were arrested for inciting the protests, police spokeswoman Charity Charamba said.

“We have information and intelligence on the identities of some criminal elements who are behind the social unrest,” Ms Charamba said at a news conference.

Such acts of defiance and clashes with the police are rare in Zimbabwe, although the government deployed the army against 1998 riots over soaring food prices.

Mugabe, 92, has ruled the southern African country since independence from white minority rule in 1980, scoffing at frequent allegations of human rights violations.

Frustrations over rapidly deteriorating economic conditions in Zimbabwe, compounded by dissatisfaction over alleged government corruption and incompetence, have resulted in near-daily protests in recent weeks.

On Friday, protesters burned a warehouse at Beitbridge, a busy border post between Zimbabwe and South Africa, over a Zimbabwean decision to ban a wide range of imports.

Seventeen people appeared in court on Sunday over the Beitbridge protests and were charged with public violence.

Separately, state hospital doctors and other government workers said they will strike over the government’s failure to pay their June salaries on time.

Down and out: Frustrations over rapidly deteriorating economic conditions in Zimbabwe, compounded by dissatisfaction over alleged government corruption and incompetence, have resulted in near-daily protests in recent week

Down and out: Frustrations over rapidly deteriorating economic conditions in Zimbabwe, compounded by dissatisfaction over alleged government corruption and incompetence, have resulted in near-daily protests in recent week

Hands up: A protester is surrounded by three riot police officers as he cowers against a wall

Hands up: A protester is surrounded by three riot police officers as he cowers against a wall

Nowhere to go: The drivers' grievances stem from anger over numerous roadblocks that police sometimes set up in city streets, which drivers allege are to demand bribes

Nowhere to go: The drivers’ grievances stem from anger over numerous roadblocks that police sometimes set up in city streets, which drivers allege are to demand bribes

Grounded: Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has been pleading with Western countries to unlock financing for Zimbabwe in the form of loans that were halted close to two decades ago

Grounded: Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has been pleading with Western countries to unlock financing for Zimbabwe in the form of loans that were halted close to two decades ago

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has been pleading with Western countries to unlock financing for Zimbabwe in the form of loans that were halted close to two decades ago.

The financing dried up due to failure to repay debts as well as international sanctions imposed because of concerns over democratic rights.

Some recent political protests have been notable for their brazenness.

Police said they are looking for Lumumba William Matumanje, a former ruling party activist who used an obscenity to denigrate Mugabe while launching his own political party last week.

People have often been sent to jail for such conduct in Zimbabwe.

Last month, video footage showed an anti-government protester shouting in the lobby of an upmarket hotel in Harare and haranguing police until they move in and drag him away.

The video shows a protest by activists angry at Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko’s alleged 18-month stay in a 400 US dollars (£300) a night hotel suite in the capital.

Activist Sten Zvorwadza was charged with threats to commit malicious damage to property and was freed on 200 US dollars (£150) bail.

The majority of Zimbabwe’s citizens survive on just one US dollar (75p) a day, the official statistics agency says.

Rock bottom: The majority of Zimbabwe's citizens survive on just one US dollar (75p) a day, the official statistics agency says

Rock bottom: The majority of Zimbabwe’s citizens survive on just one US dollar (75p) a day, the official statistics agency says

Video: Zimbabwe police brutality exposed

In yet another horrific video that shows the brutality of Zimbabwean police, a woman is battered by a group of police officers while one of the cops – a senior officer – holds her child.

 

In the video- which has gone viral on social media – about a dozen truncheon-wielding officers stationed with a couple of service trucks are seen beating up unarmed civilians.

The video was captured from a police truck, apparently by another officer.

It is not clear where the video was captured as the country recently had several incidences of police confronting civilians and brutalising them during the various protests that took place.

 

7 Things to Consider Before Choosing Sides in the Middle East Conflict

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Are you “pro-Israel” or “pro-Palestine”? It isn’t even noon yet as I write this, and I’ve already been accused of being both.

These terms intrigue me because they directly speak to the doggedly tribal nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You don’t hear of too many other countries being universally spoken of this way. Why these two? Both Israelis and Palestinians are complex, with diverse histories and cultures, and two incredibly similar (if divisive) religions. To come down completely on the side of one or the other doesn’t seem rational to me.

It is telling that most Muslims around the world support Palestinians, and most Jews support Israel. This, of course, is natural — but it’s also problematic. It means that this is not about who’s right or wrong as much as which tribe or nation you are loyal to. It means that Palestinian supporters would be just as ardently pro-Israel if they were born in Israeli or Jewish families, and vice versa. It means that the principles that guide most people’s view of this conflict are largely accidents of birth — that however we intellectualize and analyze the components of the Middle East mess, it remains, at its core, a tribal conflict.

By definition, tribal conflicts thrive and survive when people take sides. Choosing sides in these kinds of conflicts fuels them further and deepens the polarization. And worst of all, you get blood on your hands.

So before picking a side in this latest Israeli-Palestine conflict, consider these 7 questions:

***

1. Why is everything so much worse when there are Jews involved?

Over 700 people have died in Gaza as of this writing. Muslims have woken up around the world. But is it really because of the numbers?

Bashar al-Assad has killed over 180,000 Syrians, mostly Muslim, in two years — more than the number killed in Palestine in two decades. Thousands of Muslims in Iraq and Syria have been killed by ISIS in the last two months. Tens of thousands have been killed by the Taliban. Half a million black Muslims were killed by Arab Muslims in Sudan. The list goes on.

But Gaza makes Muslims around the world, both Sunni and Shia, speak up in a way they never do otherwise. Up-to-date death counts and horrific pictures of the mangled corpses of Gazan children flood their social media timelines every day. If it was just about the numbers, wouldn’t the other conflicts take precedence? What is it about then?

If I were Assad or ISIS right now, I’d be thanking God I’m not Jewish.

Amazingly, many of the graphic images of dead children attributed to Israeli bombardment that are circulating online are from Syria, based on a BBC report. Many of the pictures you’re seeing are of children killed by Assad, who is supported by Iran, which also funds Hezbollah and Hamas. What could be more exploitative of dead children than attributing the pictures of innocents killed by your own supporters to your enemy simply because you weren’t paying enough attention when your own were killing your own?

This doesn’t, by any means, excuse the recklessness, negligence, and sometimesoutright cruelty of Israeli forces. But it clearly points to the likelihood that the Muslim world’s opposition to Israel isn’t just about the number of dead.

Here is a question for those who grew up in the Middle East and other Muslim-majority countries like I did: if Israel withdrew from the occupied territories tomorrow, all in one go — and went back to the 1967 borders — and gave the Palestinians East Jerusalem — do you honestly think Hamas wouldn’t find something else to pick a fight about? Do you honestly think that this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that they are Jews? Do you recall what you watched and heard on public TV growing up in Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Egypt?

Yes, there’s an unfair and illegal occupation there, and yes, it’s a human rights disaster. But it is also true that much of the other side is deeply driven by anti-Semitism. Anyone who has lived in the Arab/Muslim world for more than a few years knows that. It isn’t always a clean, one-or-the-other blame split in these situations like your Chomskys and Greenwalds would have you believe. It’s both.

***

2. Why does everyone keep saying this is not a religious conflict?

There are three pervasive myths that are widely circulated about the “roots” of the Middle East conflict:

Myth 1: Judaism has nothing to do with Zionism.
Myth 2: Islam has nothing to do with Jihadism or anti-Semitism.
Myth 3: This conflict has nothing to do with religion.

To the “I oppose Zionism, not Judaism!” crowd, is it mere coincidence that this passage from the Old Testament (emphasis added) describes so accurately what’s happening today?

“I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the desert to the Euphrates River. I will give into your hands the people who live in the land, and you will drive them out before you. Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods.” – Exodus 23:31-32

Or this one?

“See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land the Lord swore he would give to your fathers — to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — and to their descendants after them.” – Deuteronomy 1:8

There’s more: Genesis 15:18-21, and Numbers 34 for more detail on the borders. Zionism is not the “politicization” or “distortion” of Judaism. It is the revival of it.

And to the “This is not about Islam, it’s about politics!” crowd, is this verse from the Quran (emphasis added) meaningless?

“O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you—then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people.” – Quran, 5:51

What about the numerous verses and hadith quoted in Hamas’ charter? And the famous hadith of the Gharqad tree explicitly commanding Muslims to kill Jews?

Please tell me — in light of these passages written centuries and millennia before the creation of Israel or the occupation — how can anyone conclude that religion isn’t at the root of this, or at least a key driving factor? You may roll your eyes at these verses, but they are taken very seriously by many of the players in this conflict, on both sides. Shouldn’t they be acknowledged and addressed? When is the last time you heard a good rational, secular argument supporting settlement expansion in the West Bank?

Denying religion’s role seems to be a way to be able to criticize the politics while remaining apologetically “respectful” of people’s beliefs for fear of “offending” them. But is this apologism and “respect” for inhuman ideas worth the deaths of human beings?

People have all kinds of beliefs — from insisting the Earth is flat to denying the Holocaust. You may respect their right to hold these beliefs, but you’re not obligated to respect the beliefs themselves. It’s 2014, and religions don’t need to be “respected” any more than any other political ideology or philosophical thought system. Human beings have rights. Ideas don’t. The oft-cited politics/religion dichotomy in Abrahamic religions is false and misleading. All of the Abrahamic religions are inherently political.

***

3. Why would Israel deliberately want to kill civilians?

This is the single most important issue that gets everyone riled up, and rightfully so.

Again, there is no justification for innocent Gazans dying. And there’s no excuse for Israel’s negligence in incidents like the killing of four children on a Gazan beach. But let’s back up and think about this for a minute.

Why on Earth would Israel deliberately want to kill civilians?

When civilians die, Israel looks like a monster. It draws the ire of even its closest allies. Horrific images of injured and dead innocents flood the media. Ever-growing anti-Israel protests are held everywhere from Norway to New York. And the relatively low number of Israeli casualties (we’ll get to that in a bit) repeatedly draws allegations of a “disproportionate” response. Most importantly, civilian deaths help Hamas immensely.

How can any of this possibly ever be in Israel’s interest?

If Israel wanted to kill civilians, it is terrible at it. ISIS killed more civilians in two days (700 plus) than Israel has in two weeks. Imagine if ISIS or Hamas had Israel’s weapons, army, air force, US support, and nuclear arsenal. Their enemies would’ve been annihilated long ago. If Israel truly wanted to destroy Gaza, it could do so within a day, right from the air. Why carry out a more painful, expensive ground incursion that risks the lives of its soldiers?

***

4. Does Hamas really use its own civilians as human shields?

Ask Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas how he feels about Hamas’ tactics.

“What are you trying to achieve by sending rockets?” he asks. “I don’t like trading in Palestinian blood.”

It isn’t just speculation anymore that Hamas puts its civilians in the line of fire.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri plainly admitted on Gazan national TV that thehuman shield strategy has proven “very effective.”

The UN relief organization UNRWA issued a furious condemnation of Hamas after discovering hidden rockets in not one, but two children’s schools in Gaza last week.

Hamas fires thousands of rockets into Israel, rarely killing any civilians or causing any serious damage. It launches them from densely populated areas, including hospitals and schools.

Why launch rockets without causing any real damage to the other side, inviting great damage to your own people, then putting your own civilians in the line of fire when the response comes? Even when the IDF warns civilians to evacuate their homes before a strike, why does Hamas tell them to stay put?

Because Hamas knows its cause is helped when Gazans die. If there is one thing that helps Hamas most — one thing that gives it any legitimacy — it is dead civilians. Rockets in schools. Hamas exploits the deaths of its children to gain the world’s sympathy. It uses them as a weapon.

You don’t have to like what Israel is doing to abhor Hamas. Arguably, Israel and Fatah are morally equivalent. Both have a lot of right on their side. Hamas, on the other hand, doesn’t have a shred of it.

***

5. Why are people asking for Israel to end the “occupation” in Gaza?

Because they have short memories.

In 2005, Israel ended the occupation in Gaza. It pulled out every last Israeli soldier. It dismantled every last settlement. Many Israeli settlers who refused to leave wereforcefully evicted from their homes, kicking and screaming.

This was a unilateral move by Israel, part of a disengagement plan intended toreduce friction between Israelis and Palestinians. It wasn’t perfect — Israel was still to control Gaza’s borders, coastline, and airspace — but considering the history of the region, it was a pretty significant first step.

After the evacuation, Israel opened up border crossings to facilitate commerce. The Palestinians were also given 3,000 greenhouses which had already been producing fruit and flowers for export for many years.

But Hamas chose not to invest in schools, trade, or infrastructure. Instead, it built an extensive network of tunnels to house thousands upon thousands of rockets and weapons, including newer, sophisticated ones from Iran and Syria. All the greenhouses were destroyed.

Hamas did not build any bomb shelters for its people. It did, however, build a fewfor its leaders to hide out in during airstrikes. Civilians are not given access to these shelters for precisely the same reason Hamas tells them to stay home when the bombs come.

Gaza was given a great opportunity in 2005 that Hamas squandered by transforming it into an anti-Israel weapons store instead of a thriving Palestinian state that, with time, may have served as a model for the future of the West Bank as well. If Fatah needed yet another reason to abhor Hamas, here it was.

***

6. Why are there so many more casualties in Gaza than in Israel?

The reason fewer Israeli civilians die is not because there are fewer rockets raining down on them. It’s because they are better protected by their government.

When Hamas’ missiles head towards Israel, sirens go off, the Iron Dome goes into effect, and civilians are rushed into bomb shelters. When Israeli missiles head towards Gaza, Hamas tells civilians to stay in their homes and face them.

While Israel’s government urges its civilians to get away from rockets targeted at them, Gaza’s government urges its civilians to get in front of missiles not targeted at them.

The popular explanation for this is that Hamas is poor and lacks the resources to protect its people like Israel does. The real reason, however, seems to have more to do with disordered priorities than deficient resources (see #5). This is about will, not ability. All those rockets, missiles, and tunnels aren’t cheap to build or acquire. But they are priorities. And it’s not like Palestinians don’t have a handful of oil-rich neighbors to help them the way Israel has the US.

The problem is, if civilian casualties in Gaza drop, Hamas loses the only weapon it has in its incredibly effective PR war. It is in Israel’s national interest to protect its civilians and minimize the deaths of those in Gaza. It is in Hamas’ interest to do exactly the opposite on both fronts.

***

7. If Hamas is so bad, why isn’t everyone pro-Israel in this conflict?

Because Israel’s flaws, while smaller in number, are massive in impact.

Many Israelis seem to have the same tribal mentality that their Palestinian counterparts do. They celebrate the bombing of Gaza the same way many Arabs celebrated 9/11. A UN report recently found that Israeli forces tortured Palestinian children and used them as human shields. They beat up teenagers. They are oftenreckless with their airstrikes. They have academics who explain how rape may be the only truly effective weapon against their enemy. And many of them callously and publicly revel in the deaths of innocent Palestinian children.

To be fair, these kinds of things do happen on both sides. They are an inevitable consequence of multiple generations raised to hate the other over the course of 65 plus years. To hold Israel up to a higher standard would mean approaching the Palestinians with the racism of lowered expectations.

However, if Israel holds itself to a higher standard like it claims — it needs to do much more to show it isn’t the same as the worst of its neighbors.

Israel is leading itself towards increasing international isolation and national suicide because of two things: 1. The occupation; and 2. Settlement expansion.

Settlement expansion is simply incomprehensible. No one really understands the point of it. Virtually every US administration — from Nixon to Bush to Obama — hasunequivocally opposed it. There is no justification for it except a Biblical one (see #2), which makes it slightly more difficult to see Israel’s motives as purely secular.

The occupation is more complicated. The late Christopher Hitchens was right when he said this about Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories:

“In order for Israel to become part of the alliance against whatever we want to call it, religious barbarism, theocratic, possibly thermonuclear theocratic or nuclear theocratic aggression, it can’t, it’ll have to dispense with the occupation. It’s as simple as that.

It can be, you can think of it as a kind of European style, Western style country if you want, but it can’t govern other people against their will. It can’t continue to steal their land in the way that it does every day.And it’s unbelievably irresponsible of Israelis, knowing the position of the United States and its allies are in around the world, to continue to behave in this unconscionable way. And I’m afraid I know too much about the history of the conflict to think of Israel as just a tiny, little island surrounded by a sea of ravening wolves and so on. I mean, I know quite a lot about how that state was founded, and the amount of violence and dispossession that involved. And I’m a prisoner of that knowledge. I can’t un-know it.”

As seen with Gaza in 2005, unilateral disengagement is probably easier to talk about than actually carry out. But if it Israel doesn’t work harder towards a two-state (maybe three-state, thanks to Hamas) solution, it will eventually have to make that ugly choice between being a Jewish-majority state or a democracy.

It’s still too early to call Israel an apartheid state, but when John Kerry said Israelcould end up as one in the future, he wasn’t completely off the mark. It’s simple math. There are only a limited number of ways a bi-national Jewish state with a non-Jewish majority population can retain its Jewish identity. And none of them are pretty.

***

Let’s face it, the land belongs to both of them now. Israel was carved out of Palestine for Jews with help from the British in the late 1940s just like my own birthplace of Pakistan was carved out of India for Muslims around the same time. The process was painful, and displaced millions in both instances. But it’s been almost 70 years. There are now at least two or three generations of Israelis who were born and raised in this land, to whom it really is a home, and who are often held accountable and made to pay for for historical atrocities that are no fault of their own. They are programmed to oppose “the other” just as Palestinian children are. At its very core, this is a tribal religious conflict that will never be resolved unless people stop choosing sides.

So you really don’t have to choose between being “pro-Israel” or “pro-Palestine.” If you support secularism, democracy, and a two-state solution — and you oppose Hamas, settlement expansion, and the occupation — you can be both.

If they keep asking you to pick a side after all of that, tell them you’re going with hummus.

TORUN, Poland (AP) — About 2,000 NATO troops from the U.S., Britain and Poland conducted an airborne training operation on Tuesday as part of the biggest exercise performed in Poland since the 1989 end of communism and amid concerns over Russia.

This should make Russia look, oh ya they talk about nukes, but even if they used a tactical nuke, it would kill there troops as well, and make a dead zone not only in Poland, but Russia too.

This is the way to make Putin look and be scared, we need to Box them in, so that if they try and use Tactical nukes, they too will be affected, i am getting sick and tiered with all this “WE HAVE NUKES ” shit coming from Moscow. They need to start looking at what the real price will be if they try to make a Crimea attack again! Their little green men without Russian badges, that only makes them look like cowards, a real military, would show who they were, not try and hide from us.

 

Scores of U.S. troops and then military vehicles parachuted into a spacious, grassy training area on the outskirts of the central city of Torun. The force’s mission was to secure a bridge on the Vistula River as part of the Polish-led Anakonda-16 exercise that involves about 31,000 troops and runs through mid-June.

Nineteen NATO member nations and five partner nations are contributing troops to the exercise that will train and test their swift joint reaction to threats on land, sea and in the air.

Airborne forces from the U.S., Great Britain and Poland conduct a a multi-national jump on to a designated drop zone near Torun, Poland, Tuesday, June 7, 201...

Airborne forces from the U.S., Great Britain and Poland conduct a a multi-national jump on to a designated drop zone near Torun, Poland, Tuesday, June 7, 2016. The exercise, Swift Response-16, sets the stage in Poland for the multi-national land force training event Anakonda-16. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

In a complex operation that was precisely planned and timed, troops of the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division flew directly from their U.S. base in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Their Boeing C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft were refueled in midair. The British troops flew from a NATO base in Ramstein, Germany, while the Poles arrived from their base in Krakow, in southern Poland.

The exercise “confirmed that we can count on our friends who are capable of flying over the Atlantic to be here with us in a matter of hours,” said Polish Gen. Miroslaw Rozanski, deputy commander of the exercise. “We can look into the future with calm. We have good allies and good partners.”

Russia considers NATO troops’ presence close to its border as a security threat. President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Tuesday in Moscow that the military exercise in Poland “does not contribute to the atmosphere of trust and security on the continent.”

Poland and other nations in the region, as well as NATO leaders, say that any military presence or exercises are purely defensive and deterrent measures.

The drill is being held just weeks before NATO holds a crucial summit in Warsaw expected to decide that significant numbers of NATO troops and equipment will be based in Poland and in the Baltic states.

___

Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed to this report.

A C-130 plane drops paratroopers from the Polish 6th Airborne Division during a multi-national jump with soldiers and equipment from the U.S., Great Britain ...

A C-130 plane drops paratroopers from the Polish 6th Airborne Division during a multi-national jump with soldiers and equipment from the U.S., Great Britain and Poland on to a designated drop zone near Torun, Poland, Tuesday, June 7, 2016. The exercise, Swift Response-16, sets the stage in Poland for the multi-national land force training event Anakonda-16. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division jump during a multi-national jump with soldiers and equipment from the U.S., Great Britain and Poland on to a design...

U.S. C-17 planes from the 82nd Airborne Division drop paratroopers during a multi-national jump with soldiers and equipment from the U.S., Great Britain and Poland on to a designated drop zone near Torun, Poland, Tuesday, June 7, 2016. The exercise, Swift Response-16, sets the stage in Poland for the multi-national land force training event Anakonda-16. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

Commander of the 82nd Airborne Division General Richard D. Clarke, left, runs after jumping during a multi-national jump conducted by forces from the U.S., G...

Commander of the 82nd Airborne Division General Richard D. Clarke, left, runs after jumping during a multi-national jump conducted by forces from the U.S., Great Britain and Poland on to a designated drop zone near Torun, Poland, Tuesday, June 7, 2016. The exercise, Swift Response-16, sets the stage in Poland for the multi-national land force training event Anakonda-16. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

A British C-130J plane from the 16th Air Assault Brigade drops paratroopers during a multi-national jump with soldiers and equipment from the U.S., Great Bri...

A British C-130J plane from the 16th Air Assault Brigade drops paratroopers during a multi-national jump with soldiers and equipment from the U.S., Great Britain and Poland on to a designated drop zone near Torun, Poland, Tuesday, June 7, 2016. The exercise, Swift Response-16, sets the stage in Poland for the multi-national land force training event Anakonda-16. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

A U.S. C-17 plane from the 82nd Airborne Division drops paratroopers during a multi-national jump with soldiers and equipment from the U.S., Great Britain an...

A U.S. C-17 plane from the 82nd Airborne Division drops paratroopers during a multi-national jump with soldiers and equipment from the U.S., Great Britain and Poland on to a designated drop zone near Torun, Poland, Tuesday, June 7, 2016. The exercise, Swift Response-16, sets the stage in Poland for the multi-national land force training event Anakonda-16. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

China’s army is using guns and hip-hop to recruit more young people. Defiantly watch!

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army has a simple message for potential recruits: We’re cool.

A promotional video released on the PLA newspaper’s website last week hammers home this point by showing explosions, shootouts, jet planes, hostage situations and unidentified men being wounded, all set to loud rap music and hard rock-esque guitars.

Chinese state media has proudly called it the “first hip-hop video made by the PLA,” and it certainly does appear to be a shift from previous videos, which featured somewhat similar visuals but tended to be accompanied by sweeping orchestral scores.

However, the rap’s lyrics may cause some of China’s neighbors concern. China Daily reportsthat the lyrics were “carefully worded to avoid being too aggressive,” but the video contains the lines “Let’s go to war, let’s fight to win” and discusses how the PLA will keep on fighting “even if a bullet passes through my chest.” The title of the video isn’t subtle, either: “Battle Declaration”

The footage also shows off a variety of modern PLA military hardware, including the J-11 fighter jet, the Liaoning aircraft carrier, and a number of spacecraft and satellites.

This isn’t the first time that a recruitment video for the PLA has used music to make its point. In 2014, it released a video featuring PLA members dancing to “Little Apple,” a popular though cheesy pop song created by the Beijing-based producers Chopstick Brothers.

U.S. Sanctions Seen as Warning to Nations Backing Cyber-Attacks

President Obama announces his first public action in response to the Sony hack.

New U.S. sanctions against North Korea over the hacking of Sony Corp. will probably have a limited impact on the isolated Asian nation, but may serve as a warning to other countries suspected of sponsoring cyber-attacks.

The measures announced Friday by President Barack Obama against 10 North Korean officials and three government entities were the first public action taken by the U.S. response to the November hacking of Sony’s movie studio. The administration said further punishment is coming.

Even so, the moves to block U.S. bank access and business dealings with targeted people and entities will be minimized by the fact that impoverished North Korea already is subject to U.S. penalties for its pursuit of nuclear arms and is largely isolated from the rest of the world.

“Sanctions do little against North Korea and really do not put sufficient pressure on the regime or Kim Jong Un personally,” said David Maxwell, a retired colonel in the U.S. Army special forces and a specialist on North Korea, referring to the country’s leader. “Sanctions, while important in sending an international message, are just not strong enough to influence regime behavior.”

For the U.S., the Sony attack was different because it wasn’t simply an attempt to disrupt traffic, spy or steal information, but to destroy data on a foreign network, said an administration official involved in the deliberations about how to respond.

Line Crossed

The latest penalties are intended as a signal to nations engaged in offensive cyber-activities that the attack on Sony crossed a line, according to the official, who asked for anonymity to discuss internal administration debates.

Some cybersecurity specialists have questioned whether North Korea was behind the November attack. White House press secretary Josh Earnest, in a statement accompanying the sanctions announcement, reiterated that the administration blames the North Koreans.

“We take seriously North Korea’s attack that aimed to create destructive financial effects on a U.S. company and to threaten artists and other individuals with the goal of restricting their right to free expression,” Earnest said in a statement that accompanied release of an executive order on Friday. “Today’s actions are the first aspect of our response.”

Direct Links

An administration official said on a conference call with reporters that none of the agencies or individuals listed, however, are believed to have been directly involved in the hacking. The official asked not to be named.

Joseph DeTrani, a former top U.S. intelligence specialist on North Korea, in a phone interview said the sanctions target the key players in North Korea’s government and its major agencies.

He said the country has the technical capacity to carry out the attack on Sony’s computer network, and called evidence laid out by the Federal Bureau of Investigation last month “pretty compelling.”

The U.S. contends that the attack, which exposed confidential industry information and forced Sony to take its computer network offline, was retaliation for the planned release of the company’s “The Interview,” a satirical movie that involves a fictional plot to assassinate Kim Jong Un.

A group that claimed credit for the attack also threatened movie fans with violence if they went to see the film.

Film Released

Sony initially said it wasn’t going to distribute the film, a decision Obama on Dec. 19 said was a mistake. The company has since sent the film to several hundred independent theaters and released it through Internet video services.

While numerous American banks, retailers and other companies have been hit by foreign hackers, the sanctions are the first the U.S. has imposed on a foreign country in response to a cyber-attack on a U.S. company, another administration official said on the call.

Jonathan Pollack, an Asia specialist at the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based policy research center, said because 90 percent of North Korea’s economic and financial transactions are made with China, the U.S. reach is limited.

The sanctions show, though, the U.S. won’t stand still if its companies are the victims of cyber-attacks, Pollack said.

“Part of it is a name-and-shame aspect,” Pollack said in a phone interview.

The U.S. already blocks transactions involving people and entities that help North Korea sell and buy arms, procure luxury goods or engage in money laundering or drug trafficking.

Bigger Impact

Administration officials said in the conference call that they hoped other nations would join the U.S. effort.

Bruce Klingner, senior research fellow on Northeast Asia at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, said in an interview that sanctions could have a greater impact than some people think.

Despite the common perception that North Korea is the most isolated country in the world, Syria, Myanmar and Zimbabwe are more heavily sanctioned by the U.S., he said.

The steps announced Friday will make it more difficult for the targeted North Korean agencies and individuals from operating in the global financial system, he said.

“The most reclusive regime or terrorist group has to have its money cross-borders at some time,” Klingner, the Central Intelligence Agency’s former deputy division chief for Korea, said in a phone interview.

The transfers can be made either impractically through suitcases or, more probably, through digital means. Most of the electronic transactions go through U.S. banks because they’re nearly always denominated in American dollars, he said.

The sanctions “could make it much more difficult to move money,” he said.

North Korea had warned the U.S. against punishing it for the cyber-attack, saying it would lead to damage “a thousand times greater.”

The sanctions would probably lead to more “trash talk,” Pollack of the Brookings Institution said.

DeTrani, now president of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, a nonprofit group that includes government and business leaders, said he doubted the sanctions would draw any significant response from Kim Jong Un.

“I don’t think he wants to go down that road,” he said.