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Posts posted by visionary


    Calls for David Cameron to step in after US bars British Muslim family from trip


    The prime minister is facing calls to challenge the US over its refusal to allow a British Muslim family to board a flight from Gatwick to Los Angeles, to visit Disneyland.


    Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, has written to the prime minister after a family party of 11, about to embark on a dream holiday for which they had saved for months, were approached by officials from US homeland security as they queued in the departure lounge and told their authorisation to travel had been cancelled, without further explanation.


    Creasy said she is concerned that a growing number of British Muslims are saying they have had similar experiences of being barred from the US without being told the reasons for the exclusion.


    The family, from Creasy’s constituency in north-east London, had applied for and were granted travel authorisation online some weeks before their scheduled 15 December flight.


    Speaking to the Guardian, Mohammad Tariq Mahmood, who was travelling with his brother and nine of their children aged between eight and 19, said they had been given no explanation for the last minute cancellation, but he believed the reason was obvious: “It’s because of the attacks on America – they think every Muslim poses a threat.”


    He said the children had been counting down the days to the trip for months, and were devastated not to be able to visit their cousins in southern California and go to Disneyland and Universal Studios, as planned.


    Creasy believes a lack of information from US authorities is fuelling resentment within British Muslim communities.


    “Online and offline discussions reverberate with the growing fear UK Muslims are being ‘trumped’ – that widespread condemnation of Donald Trump’s call for no Muslim to be allowed into America contrasts with what is going on in practice,” Creasy writes in an article for the Guardian. She said she was in contact with at least one other constituent who had had a similar experience.


    Ajmal Mansoor, an imam and lecturer based in Bristol, spoke this week about his own experience being turned away from boarding a flight to New York on 17 December, after which he was told only that his travel authorisation had been revoked.


    “I am baffled, annoyed and angry,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “USA has the right to issue and revoke visa – I fully understand that. However not forwarding any reasons infuriates ordinary people. It does not win the hearts and minds of people, it turns them off. I am amazed how irrational these processes are but does USA care about what you and I think? I don’t think so!”


    British Muslims Say They Are Being Refused Entry To The US


    Ajmal Masroor, a well-known imam and commentator based in Bristol, told BuzzFeed News that he was due to travel to New York last week to give a lecture at a community mosque, as well as to visit friends.


    Masroor said that just minutes before he boarded his Virgin Atlantic flight from Heathrow airport, he was approached by a representative of the United States embassy, who told him his authorisation under the US Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) was being revoked.


    He is one of a number of British Muslims who say they have had similar experiences in recent weeks just as they were about to board flights to the US. The Muslim Council of Britain said it was concerned that US officials were making the decisions to revoke authorisations on the basis of the faith of the individuals involved.


    Masroor said he had applied successfully to travel under the VWP, which allows citizens of certain countries, including Britain, to travel to the US for up to 90 days without having to go through a formal visa application.


    Those wishing to travel to the US under the programme must first apply through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which is run by the US Customs and Border Protection Agency. The scheme is open to citizens of the qualifying countries unless they have a criminal record, have been arrested even if not convicted, or have a communicable illness.


    But although Masroor met the criteria and had been granted permission to travel, he was approached by a US official shortly before boarding. “They asked to see my passport,” Masroor said. “I handed it to him… he told me shortly after that my visa had been revoked, and I would be unable to travel to the United States today.”


    “I was so shocked,” Masroor said, adding that when he asked why this was happening, the man replied: “You must have done something wrong,” before walking off.


    Western leaders urge Libyan factions to allow bombing of Isis fighters


    Western officials are scrambling to get authorisation for Libya airstrikes in the coming days before Islamic State captures the strategically important town of Ajdabiya, gateway to the country’s oil wealth.


    Fierce fighting is raging in the town, which sits on a rocky plateau dominating the eastern oil ports. Capture will give Isis command of the Sirte basin, home to Libya’s largest collection of oilfields.


    British, American and French jets are on standby for strikes from bases across the Mediterranean, with drones and reconnaissance planes already in the air. US special forces are in the Libyan desert, with one unit inadvertently photographed at the western Wattiya airbase last week.


    But strikes will not be launched until Libya issues a formal invitation, which military planners hope will be made soon, after the United Nations last week unveiled what it hopes will be a new unified government for the chaotic country.

  3. https://opendemocracy.\net/arab-awakening/intissar-kherigi/tunisia-irresistible-flow

    Tunisia: the irresistible flow


    “Out of the revolution and counter-revolution…was born the dialectical movement and counter-movement of history which bears men on its irresistible flow, like a powerful undercurrent, to which they must surrender the very moment they attempt to establish freedom on earth.” Hannah Arendt, On Revolution


    Today marks five years since the start of Tunisia’s revolution. 17 December 2010 was a day like every other, except for one act that transformed it into the beginning of an extraordinary set of events.


    Tunisia’s revolution and the ensuing wave of protests that swept the Arab world caught the world by surprise. Much ink has been spilt in the last five years in an attempt to piece together a genealogy of this upsurge of dissent, seeking to trace the roots of an earthquake that emerged from the fertile inner reaches of Tunisia’s rural and deprived regions. While academics debate whether the determinant factors were economic, social, political, demographic or technological, what matters for those who lived them is that these uprisings laid bare the lived experiences of the people of this region and put their demands at the heart of political events, rendering the invisible visible.


    The Tunisian revolution started with the story of one man, Mohamed Bouazizi, whose self-immolation lit the flame of dissent and struggle. His act would have remained an isolated act of desperate protestation at injustice, just like the tens of others who had set themselves on fire before him in similar conditions, had it not been for the acts of others who transformed it into a nation-wide call for freedom, justice and dignity.


    What captures the essence of the uprisings of 2011 is that they were a moment of a reassertion of people and of politics from below. Through collective mobilisation, people created a moment so powerful that it toppled rulers and created the biggest political change in the region since decolonisation. The uprisings had no master narrative – they were a series of micronarratives produced by ordinary people. What made the scenes so inspiring was precisely this vibrant representation of all parts of society, What made the scenes so inspiring was precisely this vibrant representation of all parts of society. female and male, young and old, rural and urban, poor and wealthy, religious and secular, people of all walks of life - the unemployed, farmers, factory workers, lawyers, doctors, housewives, students, doctors. This desectorialised collaborative effort created a moment in which fiction was exposed, power was redefined and existing political and analytical frameworks shattered.


    The first fiction to be shattered was that of the ‘Arab exception’. These events were made more extraordinary by the fact that they unfolded in a region long considered immune to the democratic waves that had swept across other regions, led by people who, it turned out, craved freedom, dignity, and social justice as profoundly as other peoples. The slogan invented in Tunisia and which spread throughout the region was “the people wants the fall of the regime”, a cry that at once constituted and asserted the existence of one people, who had the capacity to express a collective will and who demanded to be heard. This was an inconvenient truth for some – certainly for authoritarian rulers in the region, who had repressed and depressed their people into submission, crushing resistance through coercion and cooptation.


    The second shattered fiction was that of the ‘security pact’, an arrangement by which Arab societies were expected to trade freedom, political inclusion and human rights in return for security and economic growth. This was nowhere exemplified better than in Ben Ali’s Tunisia, in which the scarecrow of disorder and instability were regularly brandished to silence opponents - in the 1990s by framing government repression as a response to an ‘Islamist threat’ to state and society, and then in the 2000s shifting to the fight against terrorism, making full use of the opportunities provided by the global ‘War on Terror’.


    In exchange for obedience, the regime offered an ‘economic miracle’ built on macro-economically sound policies, neoliberal reforms and ‘good governance’, a discourse that convinced most international financial institutions and foreign governments. This ‘miracle’ turned out to be a mirage based on fictitious economic data, hiding a reality of gross inequalities, pervasive corruption and economic mismanagement that created mass structural unemployment, regional disparities and economic insecurity for vast parts of society. The security pact thus failed to deliver on its own promises, putting paid to the notion that the economic could be separated from the political, and that stability and security could be viewed in isolation from a wider notion of human security and wellbeing.


    The third fiction shattered by the Arab uprisings is that the fate of Arab nations is dictated by external actors and allows no possibility for autonomy or change. The past century of Arab political and intellectual discourse has been saturated with a keen awareness that decisions about this part of the world are taken somewhere far removed from its people – whether by rulers who are unrepresentative of their wishes or by global powers whose interests far outweigh the interests of the region’s 300 million inhabitants. A deep sense of humiliated fatalism and strangled sovereignty made it difficult to even imagine alternative political realities. A deep sense of humiliated fatalism and strangled sovereignty made it difficult to even imagine alternative political realities. The Arab uprisings threw macropolitics out of the window in favour of “people politics” - the politics of individual actions, grassroots mobilisation, networks and communication. The future, it turned out, was not history waiting to be written by others, but a new reality to be forged through collaborative action.


    At Least 75 Killed in Ethiopia Protests, Says HRW


    At least 75 people have been killed during weeks of protests in Ethiopia which have seen soldiers and police firing on demonstrators, Human Rights Watch said on Saturday.


    "Police and military forces have fired on demonstrations, killing at least 75 protesters and wounding many others, according to activists," HRW said in a statement. There was no immediate response from Addis Ababa, but a government spokesman has previously put the toll at five dead.


    Britain hopes to send hundreds of troops to Libya after peace deal


    Britain hopes to send hundreds of troops to Libya after the signing of a UN-sponsored peace deal that nominally unifies the two rival Libyan governments.


    This comes despite the agreement being denounced as illegitimate by some of the groups that it is meant to unite.


    The UK expects to be asked by the new Libyan government to deploy troops to train and advise the country’s fledgling force as it attempts to stabilise Libya and stem the advance of Islamic State, which has a coastal base. A fortnight after sending fighter jets to Syrian skies, the Ministry of Defence is ready to send up to 1,000 troops in a non-combat capacity, the defence secretary, Michael Fallon, announced in an interview with Forces TV.


    In a separate statement, David Cameron said: “Importantly, this agreement means the international community can now engage with one unified, representative government in Libya in the fight against Daesh [isis] and the migrant traffickers.”


    The move demonstrates the west’s optimism in the fragile peace deal signed on Thursday in Morocco by some members of Libya’s rival parliaments in Tripoli and the eastern city of Tobruk. The deal’s supporters hope it will hasten the end of an 18-month civil war, as well as five years of political violence that followed the uprising against former dictator Muammar Gaddafi.


    UN Libya envoy Martin Kobler, whose predecessor is accused of bias towards the Tobruk government, said the signing was a “historic day” for the country and insisted the door was open for non-signatories to sign in the future.


    “The signing of the Libyan political agreement is the first step on the path of building a democratic Libyan state based on the principles of human rights and the rule of law,” he said.


    But the sustainability of the deal has been thrown into doubt after key players on both sides did not attend or support the signing ceremony. Earlier this week president of Tripoli’s rebel government, Nuri Abu Sahmain, and Aguila Saleh, his opposite number at the official government in Tobruk, announced joint opposition to the plan, branding it foreign meddling.


    Pretext for US&UK troops in Libya: Kobler & Kerry on Sunday said these 15 ppl speak for Libya & want intervention
    8:29 PM


    Presidential Council of the UN's new Libya "unity" government (known as the "Government of National Accord" or GNA)
    12:49 AM



    Reconciliation pact struck with Turkey: Israeli official


    Israel and Turkey have reached "understandings" to normalise ties, at a low since the Jewish state's deadly 2010 raid on a Turkish ship headed for Gaza, an Israeli official said Thursday.


    The deal drafted at a secret meeting in Switzerland calls for Israeli compensation to victims of the raid, a return of envoys and the start of talks on gas exports to Turkey, once the pact has been signed, the unnamed official said.


    Libya's rival factions have signed a UN deal to form a national government - Western powers hope deal will bring stability & help fight I.S.
    9:16 AM


    BREAKING: Niger foiled coup attempt by senior military officers, president says
    2:49 PM

  7. I was only half paying attention to it, but it seemed like it could be interesting. When did SyFy learn they were allowed to have good original programming?

    Dark Matter was really good (a bit like Firefly, but more serious and dark), and so far The Expanse seems good.  It reminds me of Babylon Five a little.  Also The Magicians looks good, although of course that's probably going to be more of a fantasy show.  Killjoys is fun to watch too, but I'm not huge fan of it (it's a little messy and doesn't have very many characters).  My parents liked it a lot though.


    Shiite Muslim Sect Alleges Massacre by Nigeria’s Military


    Representatives of a Shiite Muslim sect in northwestern Nigeria said on Tuesday that hundreds of its members were killed by the military in a massacre over the weekend.


    The government has disputed the death toll, acknowledging that at least seven members of the sect were killed but refusing to provide updated casualty figures. Still, the killings appeared to add a dangerous new dimension to the sectarian violence that has long bedeviled Nigeria.


    The government has been battling an insurgency in northeastern Nigeria by Boko Haram, a Sunni Muslim extremist group, for years. Shiites, by contrast, are a tiny minority of the country’s Muslims.


    On Tuesday, a leading human rights advocate called the killings of members of the Shiite sect a “massacre,” while the Iranian news media reported that Iran’s government, which sees itself as a protector of Shiites worldwide, had demanded an explanation.


    Abdullahi Tumburkai, a Shiite journalist, said he had counted more than 830 bodies in the mortuary in Zaria, the headquarters of the sect, which calls itself the Islamic Movement in Nigeria.


    A spokesman for the sect, Ibrahim Musa, said that as many as 1,000 of its members had been killed, and accused the army of covering up the death toll, saying that soldiers had been taking the bodies of the dead to an “unknown destination.”


    At a news conference here on Monday, an army commander, Maj. Gen. Adeniyi Oyebade, said that soldiers opened fire on Saturday after members of the sect threatened a convoy that was taking the army’s chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, on an official visit to an emir in the region.


    “They started throwing dangerous missiles, stones, machete and all kinds of traditional or crude weapons,” General Oyebade said of the sect’s members, adding that security forces concluded that General Buratai’s life “was under threat, and they had no other option than to force their way through the blockage, including the use of lethal weapons.”


    General Oyebade said the army acted “within the rules of engagement permissible by law.”


    CAR rebel leader declares autonomous state


    A Muslim rebel leader in the Central African Republic (CAR) has declared an autonomous state in his northeastern stronghold after rejecting upcoming elections aimed at ending years of conflict.


    A spokesman and chief lieutenant for Nourredine Adam, the leader of a splinter faction of the Muslim Seleka rebel group, said the Republic of Logone was proclaimed in the northeast on Monday.


    "What we want first of all is autonomy. Then we'll look at how to move towards independence," Maouloud Moussa told Reuters from the group's headquarters in the town of Kaga-Bandoro.


    "Muslims are marginalised ... The north has been abandoned by the central government. There are no roads, no hospitals, no schools."

    The spokesman for Central African Republic's transitional government immediately denounced the rebels' declaration, Reuters reported.


    "We call upon the international community and the international forces present in Central African Republic to do everything possible to neutralise the capacity to do harm of these terrorists," said Dominique Said Panguindji.


    UN peacekeepers took down the rebel republic's flag - horizontal yellow, green and black stripes with a white star - after it was raised over the northern town of N'Dele.


    Egypt: Child ‘raped with wooden stick by police officers’ must be released


    A 14-year-old boy who says he was raped in detention by Egyptian National Security agents must be immediately released and those responsible for torturing him brought to justice, Amnesty International said today.


    Mazen Mohamed Abdallah’s family told the organization the teenager was repeatedly tortured in custody, given electric shocks on his genitals and had a wooden stick repeatedly thrust into his anus as police forced him to confess to protesting without authorization and belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood group.


    “The horrific abuse described by Mazen Mohamed Abdallah gives a sickening insight into the widespread and routine use of torture and ill-treatment by Egyptian security forces in police stations,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.


    “That such abuse is meted out against children in detention is utterly deplorable.”


    Mazen Mohamed Abdallah was seized by heavily armed security forces from his family’s Cairo home on 30 September 2015. After questioning the teenager at home and searching his mobile phone and the house, two national security officers blindfolded Mazen and told his mother they would take him away to ask two questions and then return him home. They did not show a prosecutor’s arrest or search warrant to the family.


    For the next seven days, Mazen was detained without being allowed visits or contact with his family or lawyers. The authorities denied he was in custody when the family searched for their son in police stations and prosecutor’s offices. Mazen’s family also filed reports to the Ministry of Interior and the Public Prosecutor about the disappearance with no success.