👤By Retro Russia ¦A Founding Blogger of the Calling Out Community
✒ Posted April 12, 2016 🐦Twitter: Follow Us¦👍Facebook: Like Us
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On March 6, 2009 (seven years ago last month) U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Geneva, Switzerland to present her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov with a red button with the Russian text “перегрузка”.
It was intended that this would be the Russian word for “reset“. Clinton explained that she wanted to reset relations between Russia and the United States, which had stagnated and even deteriorated over the previous decade.
However, Lavrov explained to Clinton that “перегрузка” actually means “overcharge“. The two pressed the button anyway, with Clinton explaining that the American side meant it; they wanted a new era of better ties. You can see the video here, one of the more cringe-worthy moments in recent diplomatic history.
Now fast forward 7 years. Where has this “reset” of US – Russian relations gotten us? Or has it been in fact an “overcharge”?
Early on, things were great – America helped Russia enter the World Trade Organization (WTO), as his predecessor Bill Clinton had done with China years before. While the former has not yet had time to play out on the world stage, the latter with China has been an international financial disaster for the U.S.
By 2013, however, things became more strained, thanks to Edward Snowden and Russia’s support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. One widely shared photograph (left) from a June 17, 2013 G-8 meeting in Northern Ireland, is said to capture the mood of Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obam. Reports say that US President Obama later cancelled another meeting with Russian President Putin, after Russia granted asylum to US whistleblower Edward Snowden.
In 2014, the fall of Viktor Yanukovych’s pro-Russia government in Ukraine created a crisis. Soon thereafter, the Russian military invaded the Ukrainian territory of Crimea. On March 1, 2014, President Obama phoned President Putin and spent over 90 minutes on the phone with him, as the United States condemned the invasion, and called on Russia to withdraw its forces back to bases in Crimea. The U.S. later issued a “strongly worded statement”.
That situation escalated on March 15, 2014, when Russia vetoed a U.N. Security Council draft resolution that declared a planned referendum on the status of Ukraine’s Crimea region. Samantha Power, the American ambassador to the United Nations, was so furious (photo right), she was seen marching over to her Russian counterpart, Vitaly Churkin, in the Security Council meeting room, and blasting him in public with a “strongly worded” piece of her mind. At least someone in the American government has balls.
The Syrian Civil War has been a political and PR disaster for America, namely because Russia simply flew and sailed into the Syrian area, set up shop and ran their own show, completely outside of the U.S. or international community’s thoughts. Sentiment after that has grown increasingly ugly between the superpowers.
Now, this week, the situation has grown dire. The USS Donald Cook, a guided missile destroyer on exercises this week in the Baltic Sea, came under what was later chacterized as a “mock attack” by several Russian SU-24 attack aircraft on April 11, making 20 passes over the American ship, some coming as close as 1,000 yards away, but at one point screaming less than 100 feet above the destroyer as they flew over it. The following day, two Russian helicopters circled over the ship taking photos. Then, two jet fights again made numerous close passes to the ship.
Russian jets made provocatively close passes to an American warship, as tensions continue between Moscow and Washington over the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.
A senior defense official told CBS News that two recent incidents were “more aggressive than anything we’ve seen in some time.”
The first, on April 11, involved two Russian SU24s, when the USS Donald Cook left the Polish port of Gdynia and was about 70 nautical miles from Kaliningrad in the Baltic Sea. The official said the Russian jets made 20 passes of the American ship and flew within 1,000 yards at an altitude of just 100 feet.
In the second incident on April 12, two Russian KA27 Helix helicopters flew several circles around the Donald Cook, apparently taking photos, after which two jets again made numerous close passes of the ship in what the official described as “Simulated Attack Profile.” (Emphasis mine)
These simulated attacks come days after the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said the “inability to predict the leadership plans and intentions of the Putin regime in Russia” constituted the “biggest intelligence failure” since 9/11. I agree – Putin was given far too much room to grown and maneuver in his early rule and now this “reset” has inarguably been a miserable failure, with Russia is re-introducing the possibility of great power conflict to Europe.
The Russian military is once again rising up in power. After miserable outcomes in Afghanistan and the First Chechen War, the Russian military has rallied, winning a messy victory in the Second Chechen War, winning its short conflict with Georgia in 2008, invading the Ukraine and rapidly annexing the Crimea, and most recently stabilizing the Assad regime and winning back hundreds of square miles of lost Syrian territory.
In fact, universally President Obama has been a foreign relations flop. China is growingly aggressive in the Pacific, North Korea is testing long-range missiles, Russia invaded the Ukraine and is flexing its military muscles in Europe and the Middle East, Iran is gaining new economic strength and access to international arms markets, and of course ISIS is extending its reach well beyond the Middle East.
GOOD JOB, DICKHEAD. And to think, the Democrats may just nominate for their Presidential candidate one of the architects of this mess – a lady who couldn’t even hire a proper Russian translator to come up with the word “reset”.
America, your nation is in such good hands with Democrats.
👤By Islam Rising ¦A Founding Blogger of the Calling Out Community
✒ Posted April 11, 2016 🐦Twitter: Follow Us¦👍Facebook: Like Us
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Yesterday (Sunday, April 10) we brought you a very shocking story, through our partner blogger Islam Rising, that focused on the allegations of Muslim kids from Syrian families – as young as Grade 3 – that were attacking other children in a Halifax elementary schoolyard with chains, making hand gestures of decapitation and shouting pro-Islamic statements.
It was without a doubt one of the most-read stories we have ever had on the Calling Out Community site – in fact the #3 most-read story of all time out of more than 110 posts in the last year. We are particularly proud of the fact that we picked up on this story up to half a day before much bigger players did so.
The reactions were mostly favourable, minus that of one Muslim woman who had the gall to blame the reaction of the paper, after pulling the story without warning, as being the result of “poor journalism practices“:
You were partly correct. There is a newspaper strike into its 80+ day, and the article would have been written by a freelance author. However, that in no way affected the decisions made, nor was the writing of the article in any way the issue – it was the resulting editorial decisions (and accusations made against concerned citizens like ourselves) that we are now quite FURIOUS BEYOND WORDS ABOUT, and we are going to get even.
The paper posted a very revealing response today to the backlash created by stories like ours. What was offered was perhaps the worst piece of yellow journalism CRAP, which they considered their justification for retracting the story:
CHRONICLE HERALD | PUBLISHED APRIL 8, 2016 – 8:01PM | UPDATED APRIL 11, 2016 – 9:01PM
The Chronicle Herald published a story Saturday that has drawn the wrath of many of our readers, particularly online.
It was based on two parents’ allegations of physical bullying and threatening behaviour by some of the children who recently arrived with refugee families.
The school cited in the article, Chebucto Heights Elementary, has had an influx of new students in recent weeks.
The story quoted two mothers who didn’t want their names used for fear of reprisals against them or their children. A third person, a grandparent, was interviewed and had similar concerns.
Since the article ran, another family has contacted us with a similar complaint.
Bullying is a sensitive subject. So is the integration of newcomers, particularly those who have faced challenges, even trauma, on their way here.
Our story was incomplete and insufficiently corroborated, given the serious nature of the allegations.
Readers also rightly pointed out that the headline ‘Parents worried over school kids’ brutality’ was unfortunate. Using the word brutality to describe children, particularly of an identifiable cultural group, is problematic.
Reaction to the story was all over the map, from thoughtful to downright scary.
Many journalists called publishing the story irresponsible. Some parents weighed in on social media on the need for better discipline and more supports to help newcomers in our schools.
Appallingly, anti-Muslim groups with words like ‘crusade’ and ‘jihad’ in their names started sharing the article.
We pulled it from our website.
Since then, some readers have contacted us to object to the article’s removal.
Our concern is about more than reaction.
Social media is not a great place for the cautious, well-considered examination of problems. A newspaper ought to be. We should have done better and we will.
We’ll start by asking more questions and getting more answers.
We will also run letters and commentary. Please email us at email@example.com.
Here’s our thoughts – 6 things to take away from this piece:
Apparently, in order for a source to be considered valid to this paper, they have to be publicly named?Is that a joke? One secret informant in 1972 brought down a sitting President (Nixon), sent several to jail, and earned the journalists a Pulitzer Prize after the Watergate scandal. Yet, apparently this paper thinks abused kids, terrified by little Islamic thugs already, need to also be exposed publicly for the audacity of criticizing the Muslim community.
The little Islamicthugs remain free and clear. There even seems to be some justification for their behavior. Notice the soft language used to describe them: they are called ‘newcomers’, ‘some of the children who recently arrived with refugee families’, ‘those who have faced challenges, even trauma, on their way here.’ Oh BOO HOO, poor little Mohamed. Don’t be upset that he choked your kid with a chain around his neck – cause he’s had a rough go.Right, and there are no abused kids in Halifax homes already? They should just shut up and take it?
Apparently two different families can complain about the same thing and it’s still not enough. WHOA! Wait a minute – but isn’t the paper now admitting that parents or grandparents have come forward now from four different families with the same story? How many kids have to come forward before its considered a story? What’s your child abuse minimum,Halifax Chronicle Herald? (Oh yes, by the way Herald Chronicle, ignoring or worse, even justifying child on child attacks is a form of abuse too).
“Using the word ‘brutality’ to describe children, particularly of an identifiable cultural group, is problematic.” Wow, I guess the cultural elite in Halifax don’t get out much. Perhaps it’s best we don’t tell the sensitive little darlings at this paper that there are videos on YouTube of Palestinian 3 year olds singing “death to Israel” songs (yes, there actually are songs) while brandishing knives. Little ISIS soldiers under 10 years of age are slicing people’s heads off in other video horrors. Kids can be brutal if they are taught to be. But apparently in Halifax, it’s not considered ‘brutality’ when kids choke other kids in Grade 3 with chains. An autistic kid is threatened with decapitation but that’s not brutal? Children are even told that “Muslims will conquer the world”. And yet you believe that the only truly problematic part of this story is the fact that some thinking people called it “brutality”?
“Appallingly, anti-Muslim groups with words like ‘crusade’ and ‘jihad’ in their names started sharing the article.” And that is the reason, dear friends, why a newspaper deleted its own stories from its own site. Because someone was sharing it. Sorry, is that not a newspaper’s actual REASON FOR EXISTENCE? And is it in fact not the ULTIMATEMARKETING PLAN of most news media outlets today to boldly share controversial stories without compromise, and to have people you don’t even like or agree with share that story with others?
We used to call that “promotion“. Are left-wing media outlets today so insecure about their messages that they now try to decide who gets to even read them One wonders what the editors of this paper would do if they knew that people actually use their newspaper to dry newly-washed windows, soak up any urine the new puppy might dribble out, cover the bottom of the bird cage, or to use as lightweight packing material for boxing up shiome nuts. My God, the Halifax paper would fold in a week (pardon the pun). Let’s keep these revelations our little secret – the poor ‘journalistic’ darlings are apparently dealing with enough.
Protecting parents and their kids with warnings about a real threat to their safety is not relevant, I guess – nor apparently is it the lack of this protection on an elementary school playground the fact that the editors found to be most appalling.
Protecting Muslim reputations is paramount, no matter what the cost to journalistic integrity or credibility. Clearly Muslims forced them to take the story down – otherwise this newspaper just provided us with a copy of their suicide note.
So, on behalf of the people of Halifax who have depended on you for generations to tell the truth, the whole truth (the W-5 who, what, when, where, why and how), we ask this question of the editors:
Herald Chronicle, you bluntly stopped readers from being able to access a controversial story on your site, simply because some folks had the audacity to share it. Therefore, can you now define for us going forward – what the hell is your REASON FOR CONTINUED EXISTENCE?
This is an truly and incredibly bad example of total CENSORSHIP – from a newspaper of all places. And we call “B.S.” on this nonsense about an identified “anti-Islamic’ group who would have the word Jihadin their name. AND SO WHAT IF THEY DO? They have every right to free speech in this country, which one would have thought a newspaper would defend loudly and long. The Herald-Chronicle has lost their way in this 80 day journalist’s strike I guess, as now they believe they are ourden mother or hall monitor, not the provider of the news?
How people use the information a newspaper provides is quite frankly not a journalist’s main concern nor actually any of their business –telling the true story is their only task.
Since when does this paper suddenly feel the need to protect Islamic groups over all others? How did Muslims suddenly manage to become the victims in this story – or in general? We’re pre-supposing that anti-Israeli or pro-BDS groups can share this newspaper’s articles to their hearts content, and such actions won’t trigger story retractions from this site, because the stories themselves are often anti-Israel or pro-BDS.
It was hard to pick a winner, but in the end, we chose this sentence as our ultimate lame-ass favorite: “Social media is not a great place for the cautious, well-considered examination of problems. A newspaper ought to be. We should have done better and we will”.
Well guess what ladies and gentleman? Apparently you’re too stupid to figure this stuff out yourself.Don’t be talking around the water cooler or your Twitter feed about thinge. The cultural elite will tell you exactly how to think.
Here’s our message to the Chronicle Herald – SCREW OFF. No one asked the you to give a “cautious well-considered examination” of anything. Tell the damn story – who, what, when, where and why. We can figure out what it means for us, thanks just the same.
Folks, forget what these idiots have to say. They gave up their right to be heard when they deleted their story.
If you want to know what’s really going on with this story, checkout the Rebel Media video. They have boots on the ground in Halifax and they have uncovered a shocking story that the cultural elite – and the Liberals – don’t want you to know. What else is new.
👤By Islam Rising ¦A Founding Blogger of the Calling Out Community
✒ Posted April 10, 2016 🐦Twitter: Follow Us¦👍Facebook: Like Us
✉ Email us with comments and ideas!
On Saturday, April 9, the Halifax Chronicle Herald published a very provocative story with the title “Parents worried over school kids’ brutality at Chebucto Heights Elementary School.”. The story, along with the rest of the Saturday paper, was distributed to 72,000 homes that morning, according to 2014 circulation stats.
But today, just one day later, you will find the following, when you attempt to view the story on their website:
If you didn’t or couldn’t read the retraction statement, we’ve taken the liberty to reprint it:
“This story has been removed. Bullying is a sensitive subject. So is the integration of newcomers, particularly those who have faced challenges, even trauma, on their way here. Our story was incomplete. More work needs to be done and will be done before the story is republished. We should have done better and we will.”
If I were this reporter, I would sue. This is lamest thing we have ever read. “Bullying is a sensitive subject” – yah WE KNOW. That’s why we need to actually read about it – especially when the article alleged that it’s happening on elementary school property,at the hands of Grade 3 Islamic thugs using chains to choke other kids, utilizing hand signals to signify cutting offtheir heads and announcing that Muslims are gonna conquer the world.
Weespecially need to read about it when it’s perpetrated by these so-called Syrian “refugees” that our Prime Minister is paying a fortune from our national piggy bank to ram down our throats. Seemingly almost desperate to swamp us with these Third World backwater-and-rape-culture suspects, Trudeau even ordered the selling off our remaining gold reserve to pay for their golden tickets to Canada, and our abundant social welfare programs.
We at Islam Rising (as well our hosts the Calling out Community) don’t care what their reasons were – the Chronicle Herald has demonstrated a gross lack of journalistic integrity with this story, and we’re all about shaming them for it today. If the facts were wrong or the story was made up, then simply state that to the readers. Don’t papers fact-check stories, especially ones that are this explosive, before they go to print?
This “incomplete story” nonsense, framed with references to “bullying” and “integration of newcomers”, says to us that they in fact were also bullied by possibly the same Muslim community to shut up.
Staff at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris criticized Islam and were brutally slaughtered for it. Therefore, excuse us if we refuse to tolerate the bullying of our Canadian media by these Islamic hordes.
To be sure, there won’t be a republished story. They hope in 2 days you’ll forget all about it. We’re gonna make sure that doesn’t happen. So here now is the original story in its entirety. The editors at the Chronicle Herald may have been scared into silence. The same knee jerk reaction/retraction after bullying will not be duplicated here. Enjoy.
HALIFAX — Concerned parents are reporting incidents of violence by refugee students at Chebucto Heights Elementary School.
Reports of students choking, pushing, slapping and verbally abusing their fellow classmates are causing parents to worry about the school’s disciplinary action.
“There has always been some fighting and bickering going on at the school but never to this degree,” said Missy, the mother of two children who attend Chebucto Heights. She asked to be referred to by her nickname for this story.
Missy said her daughter, who is in Grade 3, was choked on Monday and Thursday last week by two refugee boys. A chain was used on both occasions, but she cannot confirm the size or strength of the chain. She said one boy yelled “Muslims rule the world” while choking her daughter. School staff intervened, but to her knowledge, the students were not disciplined further.
According to the Halifax Regional School Board, refugees began registering at Chebucto Heights, located in the Cowie Hill neighbourhood of Halifax, in mid-February.
School board spokesman Doug Hadley said, as of last week, there are currently 252 refugee students enrolled in the region, with another 71 waiting on settlement of permanent housing.
Missy’s son, who is in Grade 5, has also been the subject of rough play on the soccer field. During games, refugee students reportedly take their thumb and slide it across their neck from left to right while staring into the eyes of their competitor; imitating the slicing of the throat.
Missy said the school’s response to this and other on-field violence was to cancel intramurals and soccer. But cancelling of recreational activity is not beneficial to students like Missy’s son who has ADHD and relies heavily on physical activity.
“Soccer is what gets my son through the day,” she said.
When asked about the violence at Chebucto Heights, Hadley said he couldn’t confirm whether an individual student had been involved in any behaviour that broke the board’s code of conduct.
He said there’s no connection between the cancellation of extracurricular activities and any violent behaviour. “There’s a term teacher at Chebucto Heights that is finished their term in the next week or so, and they just finished the unit on soccer,” he said. Intramurals will resume in May when the next term teacher begins.
Another mother, who asked not to be named, said her daughter was slapped after she and a classmate disagreed in the schoolyard. Her daughter reported the incident to her teacher.
“The school didn’t even call me to let me know.”
She called and left a message, but said no one has returned her call. She said her daughter begs not to go to school because of the persistent bullying.
A language barrier could be a factor. Many refugee families do not speak English and integrating students into a primarily English speaking environment is bound to cause a few problems.
Missy suggests having an interpreter on staff to help new students understand curriculum or the reason for disciplinary action. “I’m all for the transition,” said Missy.
“I just think there should be people in the school to help and guide them.”
The school board says there are currently 19.5 English as a second language teachers working in regional schools. “We have a long history of welcoming newcomers all over the world to Nova Scotia,” said Hadley. He encourages an open stream of communication between the school staff, students and parents.
“It doesn’t matter if the student is new to Canada or if they have been in school for many years in our system,” said Hadley. “Schools would address it no matter who the child is the same way.”
So media tells a shocker that could bring a very real warning about danger to our kids – and then just deletes it- most likely after pressure from the Islamic community. Now, greater pressure from Canadians should be levelled on these editors for making this cowardly decision to pull this story. This relates to real children in a real Canadian schools who have been attacked and whose very lives have been threatened by real Islamic thugs.
A question to ponder: if the grade 3 children in this family so easily perpetrate these crimes, imagine what the parents who raised them are like?
Our take on it? Round up the families of every child who instigated this violence and send them all back where they came from.
Don’t give us the “civil society / light shining on a hill” crap either. This is not redeemable behaviour – and if we allow it to continue we won’t have a civil society anymore.
These kids are programmed to hate from birth, and their parents may be here to cause us harm. Kids that age don’t pick up “Muslims will rule the world” on Sesame Street.
To our Prime Minister @Justintrudeau: At least for one day in your tumultuous reign and trust-fund-privileged life, can you cut the crap, drop the drama lessons, put the politics aside, grab some balls (maybe your “wife” will let you borrow hers) and do what’s right for Canada.
Russia marched and flew into the Syrian Civil War, set up shop and started bombing the heck out of ‘someone’, ‘somewhere’ and they then packed up, stating they had accomplished ‘something’. Are we ever going to know what at least ‘some’ of those facts are?
Update: June 26, 2016
Reuters broke the story 3 days ago that the Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) called on United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday to launch an investigation into its accusations that Russia has repeatedly used air-delivered incendiary weapons in Syria.
Russia deployed warplanes to Syria last year to support President Bashar al-Assad against rebels seeking to end his rule. A crackdown by Assad on pro-democracy protesters five years ago sparked a civil war and Islamic State militants have used the chaos to seize territory in Syria and Iraq.
“Russian air forces have repeatedly deployed incendiary weapons and cluster munitions to kill, main and terrorize Syrian civilians, including in at least 10 documented incidents,” Riad Hijab, coordinator of the opposition HNC, wrote to Ban.
“They have violated the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and breached international humanitarian law,” he wrote.
Original Post: March 26, 2016
“MOTHER RUSSIA” – also known as The Bear, The Empire, or The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The West has always been suspicious of Russia’s motives – partly due to the fact that she never looked (nor do any nicknames sound) verymotherly.
For one thing, as the recent conflict in Syria so aptly demonstrated, she can be and is an extremely brutal bully.
Underneath it all, the old mistrust and even fear of Russia has been reborn. The Soviet Union we saw under Mikhail Gorbachev and even Boris Yeltsin didn’t look, act or feel right when it was reborn as the Russian Federation – it didn’t quite pass the smell test. After all, how could such a brutal Communist dictatorship just vanish, replaced by rainbows, unicorns and doves for so long, as we saw under Gorbachev? Or in the case of Boris Yeltsin, in a bottle of vodka? A dictator alone cannot rule a dictatorship of 11 time zones singularly – he must have hundreds of thousands of cruel dictatorial helpers.
Well, the Russia we knew wasn’t dead. She was apparently just sleeping – and she was awakened under the steel-blue gaze of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a President of Russia we can understand and not relate to – just as it was with Brezhnev, Andropov, Kruschev and the rest of their ilk all the way back to Lenin and Stalin. Putin gives you the impression that he will play with his kitten right now – but later tonight, he’ll burn your house down.
In all his years of rule, Putin never acted more like a Russian President normally does, than he did concerning the subject of Syria’s bloody 4-year Civil War. The brutal war has left approx. 250,000 Syrians dead, as we reported well over a year ago:
“CNN reported that the death toll has doubled every year for the last several years: ‘Since civil war broke out there, 310,000 people have been killed, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday. A year earlier, SOHR’s tally stood at 162,402. And the year before, the United Nations put the death toll at 70,000.’ According to the CNN report, this crisis is the equivalent of the complete emptying of Greater Boston and the displacement of its 7.5 million people, as well as the starvation of the entire population of Moscow, the capital of Russia.”
However, the real toll has been on the living– according to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) website on the “Syrian Arab Republic”. As of June 2015 they reported:
149,200 Iraqi refugees(which the UNHCR notes is a government figure for Iraqis living in Syria. Why on earth would Iraqi refugees reside in Syria, next door neighbor or not, when it’s being bombed to smithereens in a Civil War?)
4,194,554 Syrian refugees, as of June 2015, living in mostly giant tent cities set up in the deserts of Jordan, Syrian areas not directly affected by bombing, etc.
160,000 “stateless” people, which UNHCR defines as: “persons who are not considered as nationals by any State under the operation of its law. This category refers to persons who fall under the agency’s statelessness mandate because they are stateless according to this international definition, but data from some countries may also include persons with undetermined nationality”. So what, they just refused to tell UNHCR where they are from then? Hmmmm.
7,632,500 “internally displaced persons (IDPs)” – the true horror of this conflict, which UNHCR defines as: Persons who are displaced within their country and to whom UNHCR extends protection and assistance. It also includes people in IDP-like situations. For the most part, they simply have no home to go back to.
Total in need of United Nations assistance, of June 2015:
The city of Aleppo, formerly Syria’s second largest city, held nearly 2.3 million residents (2005) before the war. Now, according to British newspaper the Guardian:
Those who remain in eastern Aleppo, roughly 40,000 from a prewar population estimated at about a million
[Aleppo proper – Aleppo metro is 2.3 million], have been without electricity or running water for more than a year.[emphasis mine] Now a bombed-out shell, with nearly a million displaced from their homes
– what the United Nations is now calling the largest refugee crisis in world history -Russia came into the fray, told everyone else to get the Hell out of the way – and everyone did. Then they declared their objectives met after pounding Syria with over 1000 airstrikes, and headed for home.
What Did Russia Accomplish in Syria?
According to Al-Jazeera, as of January 20, 2016:
“At least 1,505 people have been killed in Russian air strikes since they started in September 2015. We have documented their names and can say at least 346 of them were children and only at least 47 were fighters,” Bassam al-Ahmad, spokesperson for the Violations Documentation Centre in Syria (VDC), told Al Jazeera on Wednesday.
The VDC is an independent, non-governmental organization that has been monitoring the conflict in Syria since April 2011.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at 1,015, adding that 238 of those killed were children. The Observatory also said that at least 1,141 fighters had been killed, including fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.”
And yet the Civil War isn’t even close to being finished yet, and ISIS is still alive and well. So what were they doing in Syria? And why such a high proportion of civilians? We’ll likely never find out for sure. And that’s thanks to the weak leadership of Barack Obama.
👤 By Retro Russia, Founding Blog Member Calling Out Community ✒ PostedMarch 26, 2016. Updated June 26, 2016. We’d love to hear from you:
The United States and Russia may be hitting ISIS harder than anyone, with constant attacks from the air, but Israel is the only country the Islamic State group truly fears, according to a German reporter who spent 10 days with the organization in Iraq and Syria.
“The only country ISIS fears is Israel,” Jürgen Todenhöfer, 75, who visited the territory under the control of ISIS accompanied by his son, told British online news siteJewish News. “They told me they know the Israeli army is too strong for them.”
In 2014, Todenhöfer, a former member of the German Parliament from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, visited Syria and Iraq, becoming the first Western journalist to be allowed extensive access to ISIS territory – and to return safely from the trip. He has since written the book “My 10 Days in the Islamic State“, published in 2015.
In a subsequent interview he explains that ISIL is a reaction to violent actions taken by western countries in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. “They think they can defeat U.S. and U.K. ground troops, who they say have no experience in city guerrilla or terrorist strategies. But they know the Israelis are very tough as far as fighting against guerrillas and terrorists,” Todenhöfer told Jewish News
At the same time, Israel does not seem to fear the same thing with ISIS. Former head of IDF Intelligence Amos Yadlin on Wednesday expressed a contrarian opinion on the dangers of the terrorist group ISIS, responsible for the beheadings of journalists, as well as thousands of “infidels” in Iraq and Syria who do not subscribe to their particular brand of Islam. According to Yadlin, there’s nothing to fear from ISIS.
Nor should they worry. The Israeli Defense Forces is one of the most powerful militaries on earth – with 176,500 active soldiers, and a reserve force of 450,000 that can be called up at any moment, they dwarf the estimated military strength of ISIS (approx 20,000 fighters) by nearly 30 to 1.
But Israel’s secret strength is in its mandatory military service for all 18 year olds in the country, both male and female. In fact, the 1.6 million females trained and fit for service gives Israel the greatest shoeing of female military might possibly in world history.
Mandatory conscription means that today, over 1/2 of Israel – more than 3 million people – have been actively trained and have served in the Israeli forces over the last 60+ years.
Then there’s the equipment – while ISIS apparently is in possession of a few tanks, Israel’s military equipment is vast: with over 3,700 tanks, 6,000 armoured personnel carriers, 1,200+ artillery pieces, 680 F15 and F16 fighter jets, over 50 naval ships and even 5 submarines, the legendary armies of Israel could even take on a military the size of America’s
Speaking at an Ashkelon College in September 2014, Yadlin said that despite the shocking videos the group released showing the beheadings of journalists Steve Sotloff and James Foley, “there is no real reason to fear. ISIS is very good at media relations, and using the media to frighten people. They murder their captives in a shocking manner in order to get media attention.”
The terrorist group may have been bolstered this week when Russia announced it was suspending their air strikes in Syria, declaring their mission a success. Yet ISIS remains as strong as ever in the embattled country torn apart by a four-year Civil War, so clearly they were not Russia’s intended target. However, Russia “obliterated” a key ISIS base in Syria in October 2015 with a series of airstrikes, so they did have some supporting role to play in the conflict that can’t be denied.
President Vladimir Putin stated yesterday (Thursday, March 17) however that Russia could scale up its military presence in Syria again “within hours” and would still bomb terrorist groups there despite a partial draw-down of forces ordered after military successes.
However, it’s their definition of what constitutes a “terrorist” group that has some scratching their heads. And though they continually state they are “bombing ISIS targets”, they aren’t in the right part of the country to be able to make that claim.
As ISIS and Israel move toward a showdown, stay tuned, this story is definitely not yet fully told, and we will bring it to you as it unfolds.
By Islam Rising, Founding Blog Member Calling Out Community Posted December 7, 2015. Updated March 18, 2016
We’d love to hear from you:
Holocaust. The very word itself causes us to bow our hearts and our heads, both in prayer and in horror. The origins of the word itself (from the Greekὁλόκαυστοςholókaustos: hólos, “whole” and kaustós, “burnt”) conjure up horrific images of the ovens of the Auschwitz crematorium. To take a moment to stop and truly contemplete what the smoke belching from those chimneys actually represented, we run the risk of facing complete insanity. Our innocence was shot to pieces at Treblinka; our belief that man is basically good was beaten to death at Sobibor; our hope for humanity’s future was ripped to shreds at Ravensbruck.
The Holocaust becomes more horrific, more difficult to digest, and more impossible to ignore, when one also considers that it was systematically and intentionally planned, and orchestrated and executed with an evil, insane perfection that only the Third Reich could muster. Every arm of Germany’s bureaucracy was involved in the logistics of the genocide, turning the Third Reich into “a genocidal state” (1). Our hearts are broken with grief, more than 70 years later, to realize that Hitler’s “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” was unbelievably close to… finalization.
The numbers are staggering – of the nine million Jews who had resided in Europe before the Holocaust, approximately 66% (or 6 million people) were mass-murdered – one million of those being children (2), almost completely shutting off the entire future blood line of the Jewish race. Poland once had the largest Jewish population in Europe – more than three million – until 90% weremurderedin the Holocaust. Concentration camps were also filled with Gypsies, Poles, communists, homosexuals, Soviet POWs, and the mentally and physically disabled – in total, approximately 11 million people were killed, using a network of 42,500 facilities in Germany and German-occupied territories to concentrate, confine, and kill Jews and other victims. Between 100,000 and 500,000 people were direct participants in the planning and execution of the Holocaust.
At the centre of this evil was the extermination camp system Auschwitz-Birkenau – though most may not know that it was actually an organization of 48 camps, consisting of Auschwitz I (the original camp), Auschwitz II–Birkenau (a combination concentration/extermination camp), Auschwitz III–Monowitz (a labor camp to staff an IG Farben factory), and 45 satellite camps. At the height of its horror, the camp processed and executed 25,000 people a day – with a final death toll of over one million people. Today, one outside wall at the camp bears a slogan, written in 5 languages – the simple phrase “NEVER AGAIN”.
But less than 50 years later, we had already…. forgotten to never forget. On April 6, 1994, the plane carrying the President of Burundi and President Habyarimana of Rwanda (the latter a Hutu by race) was shot down over Rigali, Rwanda’s capital. Almost immediately, the Hutu majority (85% of the population) in Rwanda pointed the finger of blame on the Tutsi minority (14%) that lived amongst them. What happened next was so horrific it beggars description. The Rwandan military whipped machete-armed civilians into a 100-day bloodbath – and an estimated 800,000 people were killed. When it later came to light that the Hutu majority actually conspired to kill their own President & party leader in order to start this genocide on purpose, one could be forgiven for going catatonic.
Now fast forward to March 2011 and the unrest across the Middle East – a drama that played out on our nightly news broadcasts for weeks and weeks. This was something new, progressive, exciting – even liberating – as an “Arab Spring” blew its winds of change across the Middle East. Egypt fell first, throwing a President in jail and electing one from the Muslim Brotherhood, with connections to Muslim fundamentalism.
In Syria, it began with protests agains President Bashar al-Assad‘s government. It was hoped that this “Arab Spring cleaning”, if you will, would bring real change to this country. The conflict gradually morphed from prominent protests to an armed rebellion after months of military sieges and local skirmishes between pro-Assad government forces and opposition factions like ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) – now known as ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) – the latter referring to the region of the Middle East including Cyprus, Hatay, Israel, Jordan,Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria.
Since then, this conflict has broken out into an all-out Syrian Civil War. The chaos, human suffering and destruction has now reached almost Biblical proportions. Yet, to watch the vast majority of news networks today, you’d think the war was long since won and ended. “Out of sight, out of mind” has always been a problem in the West – we see what we want to see, and in fairness we will even tolerate and respond appropriately when we are shown what we don’t want to see – as ISIS and Boka Haram have clearly demonstrated.
However, our society does not go looking for where pain and suffering exists. There are always fringe elements that do – be they missionaries, aid organizations, or people that have a love for a particular country for various personal reasons.
The vast majority of the world has stopped caring and changed the channel on the issue, didn’t bother to learn about it in the first place ….or, as we suspect is likely the real problem – we haven’t been given enough information by the only sources of media we have, in order to make an informed decision to care or not.
The Calling Out Community believes many residents in the West would care more if we knew how bad things had become – but our media outlets predominantly have failed us in reporting the scope of this crisis. This has been corroborated by a news reporting analysis conducted on the Syrian catastrophe by the Conversation, a non-profit educational entity hosted by Boston University’s College of Communication, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Reuters, University of Birmingham (UK), the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and many others.
In that analysis, The Conversation reported:
“February 2015 has already seen some major developments in Syria’s four-year conflict. At the start of February, rebels launched more than 100 rockets into Damascus and the Assad regime fired mortars on areas of its own capital, hoping to discredit the insurgents. At least six people were killed in the attacks.
Meanwhile, rebels also claimed to have blown up 30 men fighting for the Assad regime – Hezbollah troops, Iranians, and Iraqis among them – at a militia headquarters west of Damascus.
All this while US-led coalition air strikes were carried out in eastern Syria against the Islamic State (IS), with Jordan in particular vowing to “wipe them from the face of the Earth” after the group murdered a captured pilot.”
The Conversation then noted that the largest Western media outlets were oddly silent about Syria during that same period of time:
“If you read The New York Times, you are unlikely to learn about much of this; the newspaper has no reporting from correspondents, only a Reuters report. The same is true of the Washington Post, CNN, and al-Jazeera English. And the BBC? As the attacks and the deaths mounted on February 5, its lead story was on the conviction of former pop star Gary Glitter on sexual assault charges; the corporation later made partial amends on its website with a story headlined Syria Conflict: Dozens Killed in Heavy Damascus Fighting.
However, both the BBC and Reuters articles relied heavily on the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which often passes off rumour and chatter gleaned from social media as a news “network” inside Syria.”
How Bad Is It?
Recent warnings from aid groups in the region, and statistics gathered by government entities, now paint a picture of such overwhelming horror and catastrophe, the 15-member United Nations Security Council will need to either act now – possibly militarily – or be held responsible for allowing this crime against humanity to continue.
According to a March 12, 2015 New York Timesarticle, nearly 50% of Syria’s total population – over 7.6 million people – have been forced from their homes by the Civil War, with 3.9 million more – half of them children – seeking refuge in other countries, according to figures collected from various United Nations agencies. The website of the United Nations High Council on Refugees (UNHCR) reports that Syrians are now the world’s largest refugee population under their care.
Even though the numbers are staggering, for most people they just don’t hit home close enough. CNN tried a different twist on the story this week in order to bring the horror to our back door, first by reporting that the death toll has doubled every year for the last several years:
“Since civil war broke out there, 310,000 people have been killed, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday. A year earlier, SOHR’s tally stood at 162,402. And the year before, the United Nations put the death toll at 70,000.”
According to the CNN report, this crisis is the equivalent of the complete emptying of Greater Boston and the displacement of its 7.5 million people, as well as the starvation of the entire population of Moscow, the capital of Russia.
From a Canadian perspective, imagine the combined metropolitan populations of Toronto and Calgary being forced from their homes – over 7 million people – because of a war that has literally ripped cities apart. Visualize if you can, simultaneously,. that all the residents of British Columbia have started to flee across the border, to live in the wilderness of Washington State – with only the clothes on their back. No food, water, medicine, shelter.
Now picture that 50% of them are children. The United Nations has held at least one donor’s conference from wealthy countries, to try to raise enough funds to feed and take care of those displacement. The budget? $6 billion.
“Not a dry eye in the room”
On Thursday, April 16, Dr. Mohamed Tennari addressed the United Nations Security Council and showed a video of a suspected chlorine attack March 16 in his town of Sarmin in Idlib province, including graphic images of three children, ages 1 through 3, dying despite attempts to resuscitate them. The medical area was so cramped that one of the children was lying on top of their grandmother, who also died. “Everyone smelled bleach-like odours and heard the sound of helicopters,” Tennari later told reporters after showing them the video. He said most of the victims were women and children.
The U.S. and other council members have repeatedly blamed the Syrian government for such attacks, saying no one else in the civil war has helicopters to deliver the toxic chemicals. And this wasn’t some isolated incident of the Assad regime – there have been numerous reports in the New York Times over at least the past six months of similar situations:
“BAGHDAD — American security officials said Thursday that they were looking into a new report that Islamic State militants had used chlorine gas as a weapon against Iraqi police officers last month near Balad, north of Baghdad.”
The U.S., lead by Ambassador Samantha Power, has been trying to get consensus on a strong condemnation resolution against Syria, but to this point either China, Russia or Venezuela, all staunch allies of Assad’s regime, have vetoed them all down. However, chemical attacks on children can warm even the coldest hearts, and, in a rare sign of unity, on 6 March 2015, by a vote of 14 in favour, zero against, and 1 abstention (Venezuela), the Council adoptedResolution 2209 (2015) which:
“Condemns in the strongest terms any use of any toxic chemical, such as chlorine, as a weapon in the Syrian Arab Republic…[and] Stresses that those individuals responsible for any use of chemicals as weapons, including chlorine or any other toxic chemical, must be held accountable.”
Well now it’s happened again – and women and children are dying. The Security Council must act immediately to bring those responsible to justice.
Everything’s going dark
The crisis has reached a point where it’s impact can now even be viewed… from space.
On 12 March 2015, The New York Times published an analysis of satellite photographs taken over Syria in March 2012 (the 1st anniversary of the start of the Civil War) and again in December 2014. The photos clearly show that the country is now 83% darker at night than it was previously. Widespread migration is one of the main causes.
Hardest hit has been the city of Aleppo, an active battlefront for several years. Before the war it was home to more than 2 million people – roughly the size of Vancouver. But now…
“…the city is now 91 percent darker at night. Population migration, power cutoffs and destruction of infrastructure were the main reasons for the decline, according to Xi Li, one of the authors of the study.”
What can I do about it?
Reading the enormity of the situation, one could be forgiven for feeling very small, insignificant and useless to do anything about this crisis. Not true – there are several practical things that we encourage everyone to consider doing.
GIVE – there are several humanitarian organizations on the ground in Syria and in neighbouring countries where millions of its refugees have fled. We have provided links to their sites for your reference:
Samaritan’s Purse – Islamic militants with ISIS continue their persecution of Christians and attacks against people in the Middle East. Samaritan’s Purse has been actively on the ground for more than two years, caring for thousands of Iraqi and Syrian families who have fled for their lives with only the clothes their backs.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency – is the world’s leading organization aiding and protecting people forced to flee their homes due to violence, conflict and persecution.
Canadian Red Cross – Syria Crisis Fund – the Syrian Red Crescent is actively working inside Syria to assist two million people a month who have been displaced, while the Syrian Red Cross assists with the refugees who have fled to other countries in the region.
PRAY– only God himself can resolve this problem now – with so many factions at war with one another, and so many innocent lives in the middle, there is no hope but a miracle for this region.
(1) Dawidowicz, Lucy (1975). The War Against the Jews. New York: Bantam.——— (1981). The Holocaust and the Historians. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
(2) Fitzgerald, Stephanie (2011). Children of the Holocaust. Mankato, MN: Compass Point Books.