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Updated: 5 min 43 sec ago

The Economics of the Saudi's "take-the-money-and-run" Strategy

41 min 29 sec ago

As the Financial Times reported on 12 July, Saudi Arabia's oil-output reached record highs in June 2016. Increasing production 280,000 barrels/day to 10.6m b/d, Saudi Arabia has once again waved off OPEC's request not to glut the market with oil. 

As it turns out, economic principles explain why the Saudis began, in late 2014, to pump crude as fast as they could - or close to as fast as possible. In fact, there is a good reason why the Saudi princes are panicked and pumping. 

Let's take a look at the simple analytics of production. The economic production rate for oil is determined by the following equation: P - V = MC, where P is the current market price of a barrel of oil, V is the present value of a barrel of reserves, and MC is the marginal recovery cost of a barrel of oil.

To understand the economics that drive the Saudis to increase their production, we must understand the forces that tend to raise the Saudis' discount rates. To determine the present value of a barrel of reserves (V in our production equation), we must forecast the price that would be received from liquidating a barrel of reserves at some future date and then discount this price to present value. In consequence, when the discount rate is raised, the value of reserves (V) falls, the gross value of current production (P - V) rises, and increased rates of current production are justified.

When it comes to the political instability in the Middle East, the popular view is that increased tensions in the region will reduce oil production. However, economic analysis suggests that political instability and tensions (read: less certain property rights) will work to increase oil production.

Let's suppose that the real risk-adjusted rate of discount, without any prospect of property expropriation, is 20% for the Saudis. Now, consider what happens to the discount rate if there is a 50-50 chance that a belligerent will overthrow the House of Saud within the next 10 years. In this case, in any given year, there would be a 6.7% chance of an overthrow. This risk to the Saudis would cause them to compute a new real risk-adjusted rate of discount, with the prospect of having their oil reserves expropriated. In this example, the relevant discount rate would increase to 28.6% from 20% (see the accompanying table for alternative scenarios). This increase in the discount rate will cause the present value of reserves to decrease dramatically. For example, the present value of $1 in 10 years at 20% is $0.16, while it is worth only $0.08 at 28.6%. The reduction in the present value of reserves will make increased current production more attractive because the gross value of current production (P - V) will be higher.


So, the Saudi princes are panicked and pumping oil today - a take the money and run strategy - because they know the oil reserves might not be theirs tomorrow. As they say, the neighborhood is unstable. In consequence, property rights are problematic. This state of affairs results in the rapid exploitation of oil reserves.

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Categories: News Monitor

DeMar DeRozan Almost Had One Of The Greatest Dunks Of All Time

50 min 12 sec ago

DeMar DeRozan tried to dunk his way into basketball history Tuesday by almost completing what would have been one of the greatest dunks of all time.

The attempt came during the USA men’s basketball team exhibition game against China at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. Even though he only had four points in the USA’s 50-point blowout win, the Toronto Raptors swingman was the one receiving all the attention after the game. After watching the video, you can understand why.

With just over two minutes left in the runaway game, USA was coming down the floor in transition when DeRozan received a pass from Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green that gave him an open lane to the basket. Instead of simply laying the ball up, or even throwing down a standard dunk, DeRozan decided to attempt a 360-degree contested slam in his defender’s face. 

It almost didn’t seem to matter that he didn’t complete the dunk. NBA players, including LeBron James, were dumbfounded that someone would even attempt it.

howww do you even have the audacity to try a CONTESTED 360 ?!

— Kendall Marshall (@KButter5) July 27, 2016

Man if @DeMar_DeRozan would have made that dunk, would have been top 5 All Time! #USABMNT

— LeBron James (@KingJames) July 27, 2016

That derozan miss would have been a top dunk ever. Still an incredible attempt wow

— The Needle (@spencerhawes00) July 27, 2016

The dunk that DeRozan tried to throw down reminded a lot of people of Vice Carter’s legendary dunk on 7-foot-2 French Frédéric Weis in the 2000 Olympics. 

The best part, besides the dunk attempt itself, was the reaction from the USA bench. The team jumped to their feet in anticipation as DeRozan left the ground. Even after the miss, the players on the bench remained standing in disbelief. Teammate Kevin Durant couldn’t stop himself from walking onto the court and doing a spin on one leg. 

The USA bench was issued a technical foul, but the players didn’t let that distract them from the tomfoolery. USA went on to win by a final score of 107-57, giving USA their second win over China since July 24. 

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Categories: News Monitor

Syrian Army Says It Has Cut Off All Supply Routes Into Rebel-Held Aleppo

1 hour 15 min ago

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The Syrian army said on Wednesday it had cut off all supply routes into the eastern, rebel-held part of Aleppo a day after it invited armed groups to put down their weapons and texted residents to ask them to leave the city.

Once Syria’s largest city, Aleppo has been divided between rebel-controlled and government-held sectors for five years of the civil war. Taking full control of the city would be a significant victory for President Bashar al Assad.

An advance by pro-government forces around the only remaining supply route into the eastern sector this month enabled them to fire on it at close range, making the battlefront Castello road too deadly to use and putting at least 250,000 people in rebel-held districts under siege.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the eastern parts of Aleppo had been under effective siege since July 11, and advances in recent days by pro-government forces had strengthened their control of the only route in.

“Today there is no way at all to bring anything into Aleppo,” Observatory Director Rami Abdulrahman said.

Fighting persists across much of Syria after the failure of diplomatic efforts to end the conflict. The United Nations says it hopes to reconvene peace talks in August.

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France's Hollande Meets Religious Leaders Amid Anger Over Security

1 hour 24 min ago

PARIS/SAINT-ETIENNE-DU-ROUVRAY, France (Reuters) - President Francois Hollande demonstrated interfaith unity with France’s religious leaders on Wednesday after two Islamist militants killed a Roman Catholic priest in a church, igniting fierce political criticism of the government’s security record.

One of the assailants was a known would-be jihadist awaiting trial under supposedly tight surveillance, a revelation that raised pressure over the Socialist government’s response to a wave of attacks claimed by Islamic State since early in 2015.

“We cannot allow ourselves to be dragged into the politics of Daech (Islamic State), which wants to set the children of the same family against each other,” the Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, told journalists after the meeting at the Elysee presidential palace.

He was flanked by representatives of other Christian denominations as well as Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist leaders.

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Hollande and his ministers were already under fire from conservative opponents over the policing of Bastille Day celebrations in the Riviera city of Nice in which 84 people died when a delivery man drove a heavy truck at revelers.

Former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who is expected to enter a conservative primary for next year’s presidential election, stepped up his attack on Hollande’s record since the first major attack against satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo last year.

“All this violence and barbarism has paralyzed the French left since January 2015,” Sarkozy told Le Monde newspaper. “It has lost its bearings and is clinging to a mindset that is out of touch with reality.”

Sarkozy has called for the detention or electronic tagging of all suspected Islamist militants, even if they have committed no offense. France’s internal security service has confidential “S files” on some 10,500 suspected or aspiring jihadists.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve rejected Sarkozy’s proposal, saying that to jail them would be unconstitutional and in any case could be counterproductive.

“What has enabled France to break up a large number of terrorist networks is keeping these people under ‘S file’ surveillance, which allows intelligence services to work without these individuals being aware,” he said on Europe 1 radio.

Cazeneuve later told reporters that summer festivals that do not meet tight security standards will be canceled, as the government assigned 23,500 police, soldiers and reservists to protect 56 major cultural and sports events.

In an acknowledgement that the last two attacks occurred outside Paris, the minister announced a shift in the balance of the 10,000 soldiers already on the streets. Some 6,000 will now be based in the provinces.


Tuesday’s attackers interrupted a church service, forced the 85-year-old priest to his knees at the altar and slit his throat. As they came out of the church hiding behind three hostages and shouting “Allahu akbar” (”God is Greatest”), they were shot and killed by police.

The knifemen arrived during morning mass in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, a working-class town near Rouen, northwest of Paris, where Father Jacques Hamel had been celebrating mass. One of the hostages was badly wounded during the attack.

Islamic State said on its news agency that its “soldiers” carried out the attack. It has prioritized targeting France, which has been bombing the group’s bases in Iraq and Syria as part of a U.S.-led international coalition.

Police said they arrested a 16-year-old local youth after the incident but Cazeneuve said on Wednesday he did not appear to be linked to the church attack.

One of the attackers, 19-year-old Adel Kermiche, was a local man who was known to intelligence services after his failed bids to reach Syria to wage jihad.

Kermiche first tried to travel to Syria in March 2015 but was arrested in Germany. Upon his return to France he was placed under surveillance and barred from leaving his local area.

Less than two months later, Kermiche slipped away and was intercepted in Turkey making his way toward Syria again.

He was sent back to France and detained until late March this year when he was released on bail pending trial for alleged membership of a terrorist organization. He had to wear an electronic tag, surrender his passport and was only allowed to leave his parents’ home for a few hours a day.

Kermiche’s tag did not send an alarm because the attack took place during the four hour period when he was allowed out.

According to the justice ministry, there are just 13 terrorism suspects and people convicted of terrorist links wearing such tags. Seven are on pre-trial bail. The other six have been convicted but wear the electronic bracelet instead of serving a full jail term.

France was already in a state of shock less than two weeks after the Nice truck attack. In November, 130 people died in shooting and suicide bombings in and around Paris.

In March, three Islamist militants linked to the Paris attackers killed 32 people in suicide attackson Brussels airport and a metro station in the Belgian capital.

Since the Bastille Day killings in Nice, there has been a spate of attacks in Germany too.

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Categories: News Monitor

How America's Puritan Roots Helped Create Its Unforgiving Prison Culture

1 hour 31 min ago
While I was in Ireland teaching a criminal justice course this past semester, I had the opportunity to take a tour of an Irish prison.

The Irish prison service states one of its key missions is to protect human rights: the rights of the public and the rights of the offender. A tour of a temperature-controlled prison in the Irish city of Cork revealed prisoners had access to Wi-Fi, educational programs, drug treatment and counseling. Clients interact with staff on a first-name basis. Prison food is high-quality and health care is equivalent to what is available to the general public. As you may know, none of this is true in American prison systems.

As a criminology professor and U.S. prison system researcher, I get a front-row seat to the atrocious conditions that American prisoners live in day in and day out -- overcrowding, violence, rape, a funding deficit and a disappointing health care system, among other problems.

Early Calvinists were known for their intolerance of others' perspectives.

As I toured through the Irish prison, I began to formulate a simple thought: In all common law countries -- countries that are legally guided by judges -- except the U.S., going to prison is the punishment. Because that is the punishment, the prison does not have to "add to" the punishment.

In the Irish prison, workout rooms, in-cell TVs and quality food were all present. As the prison staff discussed their jobs, they noted that all of their prisoners eventually return to society and that the staff's job is to keep them from returning to prison after their release.

Having studied prisons in the U.S., I've found it is clear we do not share that ideology. America views prison not only as the punishment, but also as the place for punishment, deliberately making prison more difficult in hopes of reducing recidivism. However, when comparing Ireland, which had a recidivism rate of about 62 percent in 2007, and the U.S., which had a recidivism rate of 67 percent in 2005, you quickly see that our "get tough" strategies haven't made return rates any lower.

'The Puritan', (c1810-c1847) is shown hanging his cat for killing a mouse on a Sunday. (Photo by English Heritage/Heritage Images/Getty)

Could this difference in the idea of punishment be related to some foundational ideology rooted in the religious history of these countries?

I started to reflect upon German sociologist Max Weber's book "A Protestant Ethic and a Spirit of Capitalism" during my time in Ireland. Weber suggests that a major branch of Protestantism called Calvinistic Christianity laid the foundation for modern industrial capitalism by proposing beliefs and values that would lead adherents to adopt a "spirit of capitalism."

Calvinistic Christianity is the belief that Calvinists took on as a reaction to the Lutheran movement and the Roman Catholic Church, with a theology that proposed a strict adherence to the Bible and right living. While other sects of Christianity preach right living, early Calvinists were known for their intolerance of others' perspectives. In addition, they dropped the more sacramental notions of sin and forgiveness found in Anglicanism, Catholicism and Lutheranism and adopted a personal relationship of understanding between the penitent and God.

In Protestant sects, such as Calvinist Christians, the sinner has no assurance of divine forgiveness or acceptance.

With Weber's theory in mind, I began to consider the role of religion in the creation of the modern American criminal justice system. Of all the common law nations, only the U.S. had its origins rooted in a form of religious fundamentalism, known as Puritanism. Puritans believed that strict adherence to sacred scripture was the only real faith. A pure faith was a biblical faith, and that was generally rigid and unwavering in its adherence to their interpretation of scripture. Although the U.S. was and is a country without a dominant religion, many colonists incorporated beliefs rooted in Calvinistic Christianity into the new nation and its laws.

Even though Pew Research Center data from 2014 shows about 70 percent of the U.S. population practices Christianity, down from about 78 percent in 2007, the religion -- Calvinist Christianity in particular -- remains a cultural power in the country. Foundational ideologies of right and wrong and punishment and redemption remain rooted in this religious tradition. These concepts are at the forefront of our country's attempt to deal with criminals. While it is certainly true that religion is weakening in the United Kingdom, with 46 percent of citizens identifying as Christian in 2012 from about 59 percent in 2011, the U.K. and all other common law countries do not house their cultural roots in Calvinist Christianity.

The Church of England, like the Roman Catholic Church, recognizes the role of private and public confession for the forgiveness of sins. In these institutions, the penitent acknowledges his or her sin to a priest and is absolved, or washed clean, by the act of the church. Once the sinner is forgiven, they are assured that he or she is "right with God," will never again need to confess that sin and are free to go on with life, assured of salvation.

In the 1850 American novel "The Scarlet Letter," Hester Prynne is condemned by a Puritan New England court for adultery. Her punishment is to stand, holding her out-of-wedlock daughter, upon the scaffold in the town square for three hours and to wear a scarlet A embroidered upon her clothes for the rest of her life. (Hulton Archive/Getty)

In Protestant sects, such as Calvinist Christians, Weber points out that the sinner has no such assurance of divine forgiveness or acceptance. In fact, Protestants who join a non-sacramental sect must trust that their confessions of guilt were heard by God, accepted as valid and actually absolved. They are told that their confession to God is "heard" but no human being is touching them, absolving them or telling them that a sacramental change has occurred. The forgiveness for most Protestants happens not in the public arena of a church, but in the private recesses of the mind. This personal confession, according to Weber, creates a level of insecurity about whether or not one has actually received God's forgiveness, which then forms a collective anxiety for Protestants who are not in sects that believe in a sacramental type of forgiveness.

Calvinists dealt with this anxiety by strict adherence to rules for "right living." For example, Puritan punishment in Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter" is to force a woman caught in adultery to wear a red letter "A" around her neck. Violations of the rules were dealt with authoritatively. Since Calvinist sects and their deviants dominated the American religious ideology for hundreds of years, this could be one reason for the differences in punishment ideologies that trickled into criminal justice systems.

What emerges in the U.S. is a penal system grounded in a Protestant fundamentalist religious history, with a strong sense of right and wrong and a penchant for justifying abuse.

This was produced by Zocalo Public Square.

Also on WorldPost:

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Categories: News Monitor

Turkey Detains 47 More Journalists As Crackdown Grows

1 hour 35 min ago

ISTANBUL/ANKARA, July 27 (Reuters) - Turkey ordered another 47 journalists detained on Wednesday, part of a large-scale crackdown on suspected supporters of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused by Ankara of masterminding a failed military coup.

Turkey has suspended, detained or placed under investigation more than 60,000 soldiers, judges, teachers, journalists and others suspected of ties to Gulen’s movement since the July 15-16 coup, which was staged by a faction within the military. Turkish interior minister Efkana Ala said Wednesday that authorities have detained more than 15,000 people, including more than 10,000 soldiers, CNN Turk reported.

Turkey’s army General Staff put the number of soldiers belonging to the Gulen network who took part in the coup attempt at 8,651, roughly about 1.5 percent of the armed forces, broadcaster NTV reported.

Gulen has denied any involvement in the failed coup.

Turkey’s capital markets board said on Tuesday it had revoked the license of the head of research at brokerage AK Investment and called for him to face charges over a report he wrote to investors analyzing the July 15 coup.

Western governments and human rights groups, while condemning the abortive coup in which at least 246 people were killed and more than 2,000 injured, have expressed alarm over the extent of the crackdown, suggesting President Tayyip Erdogan may be using it to stifle dissent and tighten his grip on power.

The detention of journalists ordered on Wednesday involved columnists and other staff of the now defunct Zaman newspaper, a government official said. Authorities in March shut down Zaman, widely seen as the Gulen movement’s flagship media organization.

“The prosecutors aren’t interested in what individual columnists wrote or said,” said the official, who requested anonymity. “At this point, the reasoning is that prominent employees of Zaman are likely to have intimate knowledge of the Gulen network and as such could benefit the investigation.”

However, the list includes journalists, such as Sahin Alpay, known for their leftist activism who do not share the religious world view of the Gulenist movement. This has fueled concerns that the investigation may be turning into a witch-hunt of the president’s political opponents.

On Monday, media reported that arrest warrants had been issued for 42 other journalists, 16 of whom have so far been taken into custody.

At least 42 journalists to be detained in #Turkey. #CrackdownChronicle. Full list of names here: https://t.co/w3KyD3y5Om

— CPJ (@pressfreedom) July 25, 2016

Alpay is a former official of Turkey’s left-leaning, secularist main opposition CHP party. The Dogan news agency said police raided his home in Istanbul early on Wednesday and detained him after a 2-1/2 hour search of the property.


Erdogan’s ruling Islamist-rooted AK Party and opposition parties, usually bitterly divided, have demonstrated a rare spirit of unity since the abortive coup and are seeking consensus on constitutional amendments partly aimed at “cleansing” the state apparatus of Gulenist supporters.

A senior AK Party official said on Wednesday they were discussing plans to increase parliamentary control of a key state body that appoints judges and prosecutors.

Also on Wednesday a government official said Turkish special forces were still hunting in hills around the Mediterranean resort of Marmaris for a group of 11 commandos thought to have tried to capture or kill Erdogan on the night of the coup.

Erdogan was holidaying in Marmaris at the time and only narrowly avoided capture before flying to Istanbul where he rallied his supporters who helped to defeat the coup plotters.

Erdogan, a popular but polarizing figure who has dominated Turkish politics for more than a decade, will chair an annual meeting of the Supreme Military Council (YAS) on Thursday after vowing to restructure the armed forces following the coup.

The military said 35 planes, including 24 fighter jets, 37 helicopters, 74 tanks and three ships had been used by the coup plotters, NTV reported.

In Greece, authorities on Wednesday postponed hearings for eight Turkish soldiers who sought asylum there after fleeing Turkey. The men - three majors, three captains and two sergeant majors - deny being involved in the coup but Turkey has branded them “traitors” and is demanding their extradition.

Erdogan has signaled Turkey might restore the death penalty in the wake of the failed coup, citing strong public support for such a move, though the European Union has made clear this would scupper Ankara’s decades-old bid to join the bloc.


Turkish officials have complained of what they perceive as a lack of support from the EU over the coup, while European leaders have urged Ankara to show restraint and a sense of proportion in bringing those responsible to justice.

The attempted coup has also tested Turkey’s ties with its NATO ally the United States, where Gulen has lived in self-imposed exile since 1999. Responding to Turkey’s request for Gulen’s swift extradition, Washington has said Ankara must first provide clear evidence of his involvement in the coup.

The strains with the EU and the United States have coincided with Turkey’s renewed push to repair ties with Russia, badly hurt last November by the Turkish downing of a Russian jet near Syria and Moscow’s subsequent imposition of trade sanctions.

On Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said his talks with Russian officials this week on improving bilateral relations had taken place “in a very positive atmosphere.”

Simsek, respected by Western investors as a safe pair of hands in guiding the Turkish economy, also said he saw no reason to downgrade Turkey’s credit rating following the coup. Standard & Poor’s recently downgraded the sovereign debt outlook to negative from stable and Moody’s has said it will review the rating for a possible downgrade.

(Additional reporting by Ercan Gurses in Ankara and Ayla Jean Yackley and Nick Tattersall in Istanbul; Writing by Gareth Jones; Editing by David Dolan and Peter Millership)

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The Bombing of U.S. Embassy Dar es Salaam

1 hour 36 min ago
On August 7, 1998, between 10:30 and 10:40 a.m. local time, the U.S. embassies in Nairobi , Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania were attacked in coordinated truck bombings. Approximately 212 people were killed and an estimated 4,000 wounded in Nairobi,, while the attack killed 11 individuals and wounded 85 in Dar es Salaam. The bombings were timed to mark the eighth anniversary of the deployment of U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia and were later traced to Saudi exile and al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

President Bill Clinton ordered retaliatory military strikes on August 20. In Afghanistan, some 70 American cruise missiles hit three of Osama bin Laden's training camps. An estimated 24 people were killed, but bin Laden was not present. Thirteen cruise missiles hit a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan where bin Laden allegedly made or distributed chemical weapons.

In November 1998, the United States indicted Osama bin Laden and 21 others, charging them with bombing the two U.S. embassies and conspiring to commit other acts of terrorism against Americans abroad. To date, nine of the al Qaeda members named in the indictments have been captured.

This Moment was compiled from an interview by ADST with Vella G. Mbenna (interviewed beginning in 2016), a Support Communications Officer at Embassy Dar es Salaam. You can read the entire Moment on ADST.org. This Moment was edited Erika Saunders.

MBENNA:I went to my office and opened up and started my morning IT/communications routine. Shortly afterwards, the young lady who had just arrived a day or two before to replace me came in.

I needed to give her a turnover briefing because she was going to work alone until the new chief of communications arrived in about a week or two. I shared a few things with her, but before we got to the heavy and critical turnover known as COMSEC [communications security], she asked if she could in-process with a particular office because the person in charge was leaving for vacation.

So, I was glad for the break because I could run down to get the female guard application. However, about 20 minutes earlier I had asked the operator to place a call to the Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa....

After leaving the center where I worked and passed the area around the corner where the Front Office was located, I heard a faint phone ringing. I stopped in my tracks, turned around and entered the communication center to find out that it was my phone.

I quickly went to the back of the center to my office to get it. It was Pretoria on the line and I was glad. I sat in my chair and said these words to them, "I am Vella from Dar es Salaam and I was wondering why our system's staff ....."

Before I finished the sentence, the blast occurred because the wall I was facing came back in my face and slammed me into racks of equipment across the room.

I recall getting up, brushing myself off and proceeding to alert Washington via my equipment that something bad had happened and to close our circuits for now. Then I proceeded to check on colleagues in the communications suite and putting communication and IT stuff in a safe.
The security Selectone [alarm] sound was loud and constant and annoying but music to my ear to keep me on my toes quickly securing things.

After I was comfortable that my communication center was OK, I got my purse and my INMARSAT [satellite communication system], secured the communications center, and started walking around the corner to get out of the Embassy.

When I turned the corner, I saw the devastation that had occurred. Furniture, paintings, parts of the building, window glass, paper, pencils, and much more were in the walkway. I had to carefully work my way through it.

When I got to the Executive Suite [where the Ambassador and Deputy Chief of Mission have their offices] door, I looked in and saw no one but I thought I was dreaming. The place was in shambles and the window glasses out. Desks were turned over, couches turned over, office supplies everywhere.

I then thought, "Where are they?" After about a minute of just staring to see if there was life in that suite, I proceeded to walk to towards the narrow catwalk that connected the two parts of the building. In the center of the catwalk was the stairs that led downstairs behind Post One [the Marine Security Guard post at the embassy's main entrance] and out the front of the Embassy.

I looked down and saw things and ceiling debris on it. Before I attempted to go down it, I wanted to go to the other side of the door I was facing to see how the other Americans and FSNs were doing.

I was afraid and then I realized something else. It was quiet. I did not hear the security Selectone anymore. I had no idea how long it was quiet, but I know I could hear the quiet...It was crazy, but I really could hear the silence.

I walked on and opened the door to the Admin building side of the building....What I saw without even entering deep into the building was complete chaos. It was more of what I saw in the Executive Office, but to a greater extent. It was like a meteorite had hit the Embassy. Even worse was that the entire wall and windows facing the road was gone.

I started having a really bad feeling because most of all I saw or heard no one. Why was everyone gone except me? I backed out of the door and back onto the catwalk and started down the stairs.
As I started down the stairs I realized that something bad had happened, something really, really bad. I thought that maybe that if it wasn't a meteorite, then a space ship came down and the aliens took up everyone except me.

I wanted to start screaming for help...Then I thought, no one would know exactly what happened to us all. So, I tip-toed down the rest of the stairs.

When I saw more devastation and how I appeared to blocked in, I had to scream. I started screaming for help, first a low scream...and then louder....

After about a minute and a half I heard a familiar voice calling out asking who was there. It was a Marine. I told him it was Vella, the communications officer from the 2nd floor. I wanted to be as clear as possible, even though I knew the voice. Once I told him exactly where I was, he told me to try to climb over the rubble and look for his hands. I told him I was going to throw up the INMARSAT first and I did.
I started carefully climbing until I saw his arm reaching out. I grabbed his hands and he carefully helped me around the mound of rubble. I followed him to a set of emergency stairs to the outside of the building. On the outside is where I found the CDA [chargé d'affaires] John Lange, our security officer, a few Marines, and some other Embassy officials. I quickly ran to the CDA and asked him if he wanted me to set my INMARSAT.

He said no, and that I should leave for the safe haven (the DCM's house not too far from the Embassy). Someone told me that the van was on the outside of the back wall and we walked quickly to the area. The driver of one of our Embassy vans waved for me to come and get in. I grabbed my INMARSAT and ran into the van.

There were a few other folks on the bus and everyone looked terrified. I then realized that I needed to find the new lady who came to replace me. No one knew but then I heard this cat-like voice from someone sitting a few rows behind me.

I looked at the person and the tip of the nose was ripped almost off. It looked bad. I did not recognize the person so I asked again for the lady who was there to replace me. I heard the cat-like voice again, and again I looked around, and this time the lady waved at me and I heard, "It's me, Liz." I had to look closer. It was her and I was relieved.

After a minute or so more, the driver came in and we drove to the safe haven. After just some minutes there and realizing that folks could not talk on the radio, I figured the repeater on the Embassy roof was down.

I ran to find a driver to take me to my house to turn on the backup radio system. I could not find anyone, so I ran onto Toure Drive and tried to wave down a cab, but no one stopped
After about a minute, I was determined to stop a taxi, so when I saw one coming from afar, I jumped in the road and started waving my arms for it to stop. He did. I told him that something bad had happened at the Embassy and that I needed to go home down the street....

When I got home, my house girl Sabina saw me and immediately started wiping the blood from me and pulling my shirt off. She asked what happened and I told her something happened at the embassy but did not know what....

I started hearing talk on the radio and it was music to my ears because I knew the embassy folks could communicate now. Over the next few hours and days and weeks, I did quite a bit to get communications back up and running at an alternate location in town. It was a lot of work and people pitched in to help....

The building was destroyed, so yes, that facility was permanently closed. We set up a temporary safe haven at the DCM's house for a few days. Then, we took over the Public Affairs Office (PAO) house as a semi-temporary location to work from.

I started working closely with the Ops Center and the Information Resource Management Bureau (not called that back then), to secure approval to set up communication with what I had beyond a phone line and fax. The embassy did not have much to work with, but we were able to communicate....

One thing I admired about leadership that day and as long as I remained there is that Ambassador John Lange really cared about us and stopped to ask if we were OK or had everything we needed or told us to take a rest. He also saw the worth in my expertise and had me tag along to several meetings in case he needed to place a call or receive a call.

It made me feel really special that he valued his communications officer. He was a nice and respectful person, even before the attack and he gets in touch with us (those under his regime during that period) every year around that time.

Not many were killed in Tanzania -- less than ten. Unfortunately, the female Tanzanian guard at the booth who was waiting for me to get her application was one of those killed that day.

It horrifies me to think that if I had not received that phone call and returned to my office, I could have been right next to her or my car, which coincidentally was destroyed beyond normal recognition, and more than likely killed too. I thank God for that phone call and sparing my life.

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Categories: News Monitor

American Red Cross Faces Nationwide Blood Shortage, Calls On Donors

1 hour 48 min ago

The American Red Cross is facing a nationwide blood shortage and hopes that a small perk will motivate donors to help. 

The Red Cross currently has less than a five-day blood supply on hand, according to a statement released by the aid group. A five-day supply is what the organization needs at any given time to be prepared for emergencies that require large volumes of blood.

The organization also has to be prepared for everyday situations. Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs a blood transfusion.

To motivate donors, the organization is giving a $5 Amazon gift card to anyone who donates blood or platelets between now and August 31. 

“Each day, the Red Cross answers the call for help ― when a home fire devastates a family, or a hospital needs blood for a sickle cell patient,” Red Cross President Gail McGovern wrote in a HuffPost blog on Monday. “And every day, someone like you can help a patient who needs that lifesaving gift.”

While shortages are somewhat common in the summer, this season's shortage is particularly concerning because it arrived “several weeks earlier” than the nonprofit experienced in recent years, Peter Wilson of the American Red Cross told The Huffington Post via email.

To donate blood, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.

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Categories: News Monitor

Borders And Boundaries: A Multi-Disciplinary Exhibit At St. Petersburg's Street Art Museum

2 hours 2 min ago
Rafael Schacter Takes a More Nuanced Approach to the Migration Crisis

Commerce and technology have been eroding traditional constructs of the borders and boundaries, especially in the age of the Internet, satellites, transnational banking and trade agreements that create governing bodies that openly dismiss national sovereignty, integrity, identity, aspirations. Borders and boundaries are contested, guarded, or disregarded at will; open to international capital, porous to immigration, hardened by armies.

Daily they are in the headlines: Trump's plans to build a wall along the US-Mexican border, Syrian war refugees immigrating across European borders, Israel and Palestine's ongoing land and settlement disputes, even maritime territorial claims of China and the Phillipines in the South China Sea that were ruled upon yesterday - all reveal clues to our historically complicated relationships and geo-political perspectives.

Art to the rescue!

A current show mounted by primarily urban artists under the direction and curatorial vision of Rafael Schacter in Saint Petersburg, Russia, takes on a thin, rich slice of this story; a conceptual examination of borders and boundaries from the perspective of migration. With global forced displacement breaking all records in 2015 at 60 million people according to the UN we clearly need to re-examine these constructs and decide what purpose/ which people borders are serving.

Sorry, we're using terms interchangeably, which Schacter will correct us on. Toward that end, we are pleased today to present Mr. Schacter, an anthropologist, researcher of street art, author, and lecturer, here on The Huffington Post to share observations and experiences from his most recent project, a fascinating show at the Street Art Museum (SAM) called Crossing Borders / Crossing Boundaries. Our thanks to the artists, only a small number of whom we are able to present here, as well as to the museum for sharing their talent and resources. A full list of the participating artists is at the end of the article.


From Rafael Schacter:

In May of this year, I spent nearly four weeks in Saint Petersburg curating a large scale exhibition at the Street Art Museum (SAM). The Museum, set in a functioning factory on the edge of the city, is a mammoth site. The first plastics factory in the Soviet Union, the site became partially abandoned in the 1990s after the collapse of communism, and has since been taken over and partly given over to this new museum. Containing huge outdoor and indoor spaces, the museum is truly a dream location to work.

For the summer exhibition this year, we decided to focus on what has been termed the Migration Crisis. Rather than tackling this head on, however, something that I feel can often be crass and exploitative, something that I feel can often be seen to be utilizing peoples' hardships for artistic 'gain', I sought to provide a concept that could explore the theme from a more nuanced angle.

The title of the exhibition, Crossing Borders / Crossing Boundaries, thus attempted to explore the differences between these two terms; words which are often used interchangeably, but are in fact quite distinct.

Utilizing the work of renowned sociologist Richard Sennett, borders were hence posited as zones of high organic interactivity and development, engaged, permeable spaces such as the zones between the land and the sea in which different species thrive, intermix and exchange. In contrast however, boundaries were understood as guarded, impenetrable locations, locations, for example, like the territorial perimeters of creatures such as lions or wolves.
Focusing on these differences, on the fertility and vibrancy of the border compared to the sterility and aridity of the boundary, we then commissioned 20 artists from around the world to produce works on this theme.

Working with artists from a background of street art as well as contemporary art, with video artists and photographers, muralists and artivists, the exhibition is thus truly multi-media and multidisciplinary. I was beyond impressed with the results, all the artists bringing an amazing set of ideas to the table and delivering them in the most fantastic of ways.

We had over 5,000 people come to our launch on May 14th, as well as a huge international conference on the topic of migration taking place in the museum on the same day. Living, working, eating and sleeping in the factory with all of the artists over the entire period of production was tough, to say the least. However the energy was unrelenting, with the artists and the whole team at SAM working without rest to deliver this incredible project.

I'm super proud of what we achieved, to both sensitively and critically explore this theme, to not just provide the traditional liberal consensus positionality but rather to challenge people's thoughts and ideas on this topic. Who knows what effect it will have, if any. But I hope that the project can push people to think about the topic in a more nuanced rather than binary way.

Following the video are a few of the artists and their work for Crossing Borders / Crossing Boundaries.

SpY. Street Art Museum (SAM). St. Petersburg, Russia. May 2016. (photo © Evgeniy Belikov)

Go Home / Crisis / Basket
Printed banner on chimney / Acrylic paint on oil barrels / Basketball hoop and backboard on containers, acrylic paint on asphalt

SpY's deceptively simple yet conceptually ingenious interventions focus on the upturning of spatial and societal norms. Using irony and humour to create a dialogue with the viewer, SpY attempts to impress multiple readings onto a space, re-presenting it as a "frame of endless possibilities".

His set of works here follow this method precisely. In particular, his giant work Go Home, at first an apparently aggressive, deeply antagonistic phrase (to put it mildly), plays with the variety of meanings that this expression can contain: the very ability to go home, for example, to return back to the place of one's family, one's birth, one's life, is the very thing that most immigrants desire but simply cannot undertake (whether due to war or famine, economic or ecological pressures). To be able to go home is thus a privilege that not all of us have.

As with his famous method of renegotiating the set rules of sporting activities, provoking, as he says "disorder and chaos through context and content", SpY's works do not simply invert or subvert their spaces but playfully distort them. They "misuse" their environments to show the latent possibilities that lie within.

SpY. Street Art Museum (SAM). St. Petersburg, Russia. May 2016. (photo © Evgeniy Belikov)

SpY. Street Art Museum (SAM). St. Petersburg, Russia. May 2016. (photo © Evgeniy Belikov)

SpY. Street Art Museum (SAM). St. Petersburg, Russia. May 2016. (photo © Evgeniy Belikov)

Filippo Minelli. Street Art Museum (SAM). St. Petersburg, Russia. May 2016. (photo © Evgeniy Belikov)

Untitled / A Revolution Nobody Cares About
Scaffold, laminate photographic prints, flags, and spray paint and acrylic on containers / Acrylic paint on wall

Fillipo's installation for Crossing Borders / Crossing Boundaries explores different border zones throughout the globe. From the sea border of North and South Korea to that of Mexico and California; from Morocco and Mauritania to Cambodia and Vietnam; from the invisible border between Northern Mali and the disputed territories of the Azawad; to abandoned NATO bunkers at the Belgian Dutch border, these images present us with some of the most politically fraught locations on the planet which, somehow, contain a strangely alluring beauty. Alongside this, Filippo presents a series of Whatsapp conversations documenting his personal struggle to gain entry into Russia for this exhibition: a series of Kafkaesque scenarios in which he was sent from location to location in a seeming test of his resistance. The installation as a whole can be seen to bring together Filippo's joint obsession with political, industrial and internet aesthetics.

His mural, A Revolution Nobody Cares About / Nobody Cares About a Revolution, speaks, quite loudly, for itself.

Filippo Minelli. Street Art Museum (SAM). St. Petersburg, Russia. May 2016. (photo © Evgeniy Belikov)

Filippo Minelli. Street Art Museum (SAM). St. Petersburg, Russia. May 2016. (photo © Evgeniy Belikov)

Filippo Minelli. Street Art Museum (SAM). St. Petersburg, Russia. May 2016. (photo Evgeniy Belikov)

Kirill KTO. Street Art Museum (SAM). St. Petersburg, Russia. May 2016. (photo © Evgeniy Belikov)

Acrylic and spray paint on wall

Kirill's work for Crossing Borders / Crossing Boundaries arose through his correspondence with curator Rafael Schacter. Focusing on the barrier of language and the complexity of translation, the work is about the impossibility of understanding and the unwillingness to understand. As KIRILL says "I understood only a small percentage of what we discussed and so decided to make this the heart of the work". It is thus the borders and boundaries of language that KIRILL takes aim.

As he continues "there are two borders of misunderstanding: you see unfamiliar letters and you do not understand everything completely. Signifier and signified become equally incomprehensible. Or even it's a familiar language, but still it is not clear". Kirill's work, although colourful and bright, is in fact the image of alienation. The image of the migratory and the incomprehensible.

Gaia . Mata Ruda. Street Art Museum (SAM). St. Petersburg, Russia. May 2016. (photo © Evgeniy Belikov)

If Capital Can Move So Freely Why Can't Bodies?
Acrylic and spray paint on wall

Gaia and Mata Ruda have produced a monumental work for Crossing Borders / Crossing Boundaries, a work which functions in the classical tradition of political muralism. Using imagery from the filmmaker Marc Silver and photographers Jonathan Hollingsworth and Alex Kurunis (both of whom show other work within the exhibition itself), Gaia and Ruda present us with an assemblage of figures and artefacts which together convey a dense narrative about contemporary migration. Including individuals and stories from the borders of the USA and Latin America as well as Africa and Europe, the artists also produced a group portrait of three Uzbekistani employees at the factory who work and live in the very site where the mural exists.

The story Gaia and Mata tell is one of inequality and injustice, a story of the imbalance of our contemporary global system. Yet within this it contains hope and strength, the strength of the individuals who strive to fight these inequities on a daily basis.

Gaia . Mata Ruda. Street Art Museum (SAM). St. Petersburg, Russia. May 2016. (photo © Evgeniy Belikov)

Nano4814. Street Art Museum (SAM). St. Petersburg, Russia. May 2016. (photo © Evgeniy Belikov)

Acrylic and spray paint on wall

Nano4814's half-abstract, half-figurative mural for Crossing Borders / Crossing Boundaries demonstrates the strangely discomforting yet visually arresting style which we can now instantly recognize as his own. Frequently focusing upon the apprehension he has with his own work, Nano's characters can often be seen to be in states of tension or strain (both literally and metaphorically), an angst reinforced by their compressed captivity within their sites.

Moreover, his use of brick-walls, barriers, and wooden shards, symbols that act as leitmotifs throughout his work, play with the idea of boundaries as objects that encourage intrusion and trespass: Like masks, these borders both suggest and occlude a veiled truth, hinting whilst hiding, implying yet escaping. It is thus the very limitation that enables us to venture beyond.

Brad Downey . Igor Posonov. Street Art Museum (SAM). St. Petersburg, Russia. May 2016. (photo © Evgeniy Belikov)

Double Yippie Hollow Super Power
Slides, DIA projector, flags, photographs, socks, coins, drawings in collaboration with Clemens Behr, SPY, Paco, and Fillipo Minelli, computer guts, digital prints, plastic, wood, plexi-glass, mounting hardware, sound installation, radio, headphones, cables, paint, chess set, soviet fabric, and industrial spools.

Double Yippie Hollow Super Power is a joint project between artists Brad Downey from the USA and Igor Ponosov from Russia. Taking inspiration from the parlor game "cadavre exquis" or "exquisite corpse" (a method by which a collection of words or images is collaboratively assembled), the pair have sought to combine the varying national symbols of their home nations into a new, exquisite set of iconic forms. The "unity of the opposites" that they have created - utilizing objects such as flags, coins, and anthems - plays with the sacrality of these national symbols, the almost divine status that they contain. Moreover, it alludes to the strangely intimate relationship that the two countries are entwined in. Whilst apparent opposites, common enemies, both locations create their identity through their connection with the other: the objects Downey and Ponosov have thus created contain both a critical and playful edge. They ridicule the stereotypes of both themselves and each other in the same moment.

Brad Downey. Igor Posonov. Street Art Museum (SAM). St. Petersburg, Russia. May 2016. (photo © Evgeniy Belikov)

Brad Downey. Igor Posonov. Street Art Museum (SAM). St. Petersburg, Russia. May 2016. (photo © Evgeniy Belikov)

Brad Downey . Igor Posonov. Street Art Museum (SAM). St. Petersburg, Russia. May 2016. (photo © Evgeniy Belikov)

Jazoo Yang. Street Art Museum (SAM). St. Petersburg, Russia. May 2016. (photo © Evgeniy Belikov)

Dots / Painting Blocks
2016, Korean ink on wall / Found objects, cement, and acrylic paint on wooden palletes

Jazoo Yang's Dots series originates from her work in her native Korea, in particular within areas of the city going through the process of redevelopment. Using traditional Korean ink, and solely using her thumbprint (a marking used as a signature on important documents), Yang's work sought to bring focus on the increasing amount of "redevelopment refugees" in the city

For Crossing Borders / Crossing Boundaries, Yang has expanded her Dots Series to incorporate the issue of refugees and migrants in Europe and further beyond. Working mainly on her own but also with immigrant workers from the factory itself, Yang discusses their stories, their histories, their existence with these individuals as they mark the wall together. These imprints act as a record of this moment whilst remaining entirely silent.

In Yang's Painting Block Works, this theme of memory and regeneration continues. Exploring the violent so central to the contemporary city, Yang wants to ask how much we perceive our lives and make independent decisions within these oppressive environments. She aims to bring these problems to the surface through rebuilding them with the materials we so readily abandon, in Korea using objects from deserted houses and buildings, here in Russia using the detritus and ephemera of the factory itself.

Jazoo Yang. Street Art Museum (SAM). St. Petersburg, Russia. May 2016. (photo © Evgeniy Belikov)

Jazoo Yang. Street Art Museum (SAM). St. Petersburg, Russia. May 2016. (photo © Evgeniy Belikov)

Clemens Behr. Street Art Museum (SAM). St. Petersburg, Russia. May 2016. (photo © Evgeniy Belikov)

The Final Frontier (Space) / Our House (In the Middle of the Street)
Laminate doors, wooden pallets, wooden battons, hinges, and acrylic paint / Acrylic and spray paint on wall

Mimicking and playing with their settings through a process of transformative deconstruction, Clemens Behr's geometric shapes and abstract forms come to distort the viewers' perspective, merging two and three dimensional spaces in a single plane.

His installation for Crossing Borders / Crossing Boundaries acts as what he terms a "social maze". Utilising one of the most classic example of borders/boundaries, the common doorway, the work explores the potentially empowering or inhibiting abilities of these structures: as one door opens, another closes, enabling some and disabling others in the same moment. As a participatory sculpture, its visual possibilities become endless. However conceptually it demonstrates how every decision we take effects those around us. Like many of Behr's installations, this work was produced with what was at hand, in this case the products and detritus of the factory site itself.

Behr's mural tackles another question however. Playing with the shadows and design of the adjacent fence, with the actuality of space (and time) versus the potentiality of painting, he questions the boundaries of art itself: Can it go beyond reflection to truly generate the new?

Clemens Behr. Street Art Museum (SAM). St. Petersburg, Russia. May 2016. (photo © Evgeniy Belikov)

Clemens Behr. Street Art Museum (SAM). St. Petersburg, Russia. May 2016. (photo © Evgeniy Belikov)

Random Geopolitical Map / Upside-down Fence
Acrylic paint on wall / Barbed wire, steel poles, metal fence, laminate warning signs

Eltono's mural is a reaction to the absurd rationality of national boundaries. As opposed to the natural flow of borders (as can be seen in perhaps the world's only natural country, Chile), the carving up of the planet's boundaries happens at right angles: diagonal, horizontal, and vertical lines cutting up the planet into a perfectly linear patchwork.

As such, Eltono has created his own world map using a generative art technique; using a basic randomizer to choose a digit between 1 and 7, the numbers which emerge then come to define both the color of the country and its borders, indicating the direction that each color, and each boundary will thus take.

Unlike his mural, for his fence installation, Eltono presents us with the opposite of the rationality as seen within maps. Rather, he displays a perfectly irrational object, an upside-down fence. For Eltono, however, the inversion of the fence makes it something lighter, not an object that prevents our movement, but a compact object that can be upended "as if the wind had blown it upside down". As he continues, "it's not a massive obstacle anymore. A fence that can be flipped is a territory that can be freed."

Eltono. Street Art Museum (SAM). St. Petersburg, Russia. May 2016. (photo © Evgeniy Belikov)

Merijn Hos. Street Art Museum (SAM). St. Petersburg, Russia. May 2016. (photo © Evgeniy Belikov)

Merijn Hos
Lost in a Dream
Acrylic and spray paint on wall

Merijn's mural has a simple, yet vitally important message. His five globes show us the development from a basic binary of black and white to a densely colored, intricate, heterogeneous space. The final image thus shows us a planet in which, as Merijn says, "everything harmonizes. All the colors are there together and they all work and flow seamlessly with each other. Of course borders exist in many ways, but if we take it a step further and forget about the rules and just go with our feeling this is what I think can be understood as the ideal. That we should not be limited by the rationality of borders. Probably a bit of a cliché. But that's how I see it and feel it".

Superproject. Street Art Museum (SAM). St. Petersburg, Russia. May 2016. (photo © Evgeniy Belikov)

Four Zero
2016, High Pressure Laminate installation

SUPERPROJECT, a two-man design operation spearheaded by visual artist Jasper Niens and industrial designer Thijs Ewalts, focus on computational design and digital fabrication, embracing art, architecture, engineering and technology. For Crossing Borders / Crossing Boundaries, they have created Four Zero, a space within a space, a location only accessible through four, tunnel-like entrances. Due to the curvature of the entrances, the visitor is not immediately sure where they will end up. As such, the work is about revealing and concealing, possibility and difficulty; once people enter the space they can either feel locked up and exposed or protected and safe within its embrace.

Tita Salina. Street Art Museum (SAM). St. Petersburg, Russia. May 2016. (photo © Evgeniy Belikov)

Tita Salina
1001th Island: The Most Sustainable Island in Archipelago
2015/2016. Video, trash, fishing net and wood

Tita Salina's 1001st Island is a work exploring the changing borders and boundaries of Jakarta. A city which is currently sinking between 2.9 and 6.7 inches per year, and which exists mainly below sea level, Jakarta is currently undertaking a huge land reclamation and producing a 32 kilometer sea wall to try and protect its boundaries, a project that will construct 17 new islands and take an estimated 30 years to complete.

The installation presented here, a reproduction of an artificial island built by Salina and local fisherman using marine debris and litter, aims to highlight the negative impacts of the project, in particular the fact that the city refuses to fix the causes of its problems -- namely, excessive groundwater extraction and inefficient waste management. Salina thus connects the reclamation and land issue with the human waste that plagues the ocean and the future of the traditional fishermen who live and work within this now perilous space.


ARTISTS Crossing Borders / Crossing Boundaries: Alex Kurunis, Brad Downey, Igor Posonov, Clemens Behr, El Tono, Filippo Minelli, Gaia, Mata Ruda, James Bridle, Superproject ( Jasper Niens & Thijs Ewalts, Jazoo Yang, Jonathan Hollingworth, Kirill KTO, Martha Atienza, Merijn Hos, Nano4814, Rob Pinney, SpY, Tita Salina

For more information please go to The Street Art Museum (SAM)

Additional images at beginning of article are stills from video and are ©The Street Art Museum


Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer's name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!

This article is also posted on Brooklyn Street Art.

Read all posts by Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo on The Huffington Post HERE.

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Categories: News Monitor

James Turrell's Illuminated Chapel Will Make You See The Light

2 hours 57 min ago

@jamesturell, Sunset Cemetery. Dorotheenstadt Cemetery, Berlin, 2016.

A photo posted by Kori Williams (@korimwilliams) on Jul 17, 2016 at 10:53pm PDT

Anyone who has ever witnessed a James Turrell artwork ― no, that Drake video doesn’t count ― has experienced the uncanny way the artist transforms a physical space into something yawning, otherworldly, spiritual.

Using the divine power of light, he converts the real world into an abstract artwork that swallows you whole. The act of looking changes from a passive experience to an active mode of encounter, through which forms mutate and grow before your eyes. 

The latest space to receive the Turrell treatment is the memorial chapel of Berlin’s Dorotheenstadt cemetery. The 20th-century space was remodeled by architect Nedelykov Moreira, endowed with sweeping, crisp lines and smooth, minimalist spaces. Basically, Moreira created the perfect Turrell canvas. 

#jamesturrell ~ the man who bought his very own volcano and works #light like few others #berlin

A photo posted by Maar Design (@maardesign) on Jul 25, 2016 at 4:01pm PDT

Like many of Turrell’s artworks, the sky serves as a conductor. When the sun sets, around 9 p.m. during Berlin summers, a light show takes off, complimenting the sunset with a hallucinatory flow of LED lights, hidden in the architecture.

The chapel begins by glowing a brilliant blue, changing color every two minutes for a full hour. During this time, while the sun sinks from the sky, the interior space becomes a seemingly infinite expanse of pure color and light. The experience captures, as Turrell expressed in a 2015 interview with The Spectator, “how we experience light in a dream, very suffused and radiating off people, filling space.”

Whether or not you consider yourself a religious person, this piece will surely make you see the light. 

If you find yourself in Berlin, be sure to check out James Turrell’s installation, on view every Saturday and Monday, beginning 30 minutes before sunset. Buy tickets here.

James Turrell @ Dorotheenstadt Friedhof #youjusttocallmeonmycellphone #jamesturrell #dorotheenstadt #berlin #instalike #instaberlin #instafeel #drake

A photo posted by Imanol (@imalove) on Jul 25, 2016 at 1:11pm PDT


A photo posted by last lifes (@ann.nord) on Jul 25, 2016 at 8:06am PDT

Our design director @zanimal666 paid a visit to James Turrell's installation in a chapel in Dorotheenstadt cemetery in Berlin (a very old historic cemetery where many famous Germans are buried). The chapel becomes filled with slowly changing light-scapes and coordinates with the sunset (which happens super late in German, around 9pm). Stay creepy, #Turrell

A photo posted by Richard Christiansen (@chandeliercreative) on Jun 28, 2016 at 1:00pm PDT

Turell in a chapel

A photo posted by Tekla Evelina Severin (@teklan) on Jun 6, 2016 at 1:52pm PDT

#jamesturrell #berlin

A photo posted by Martin Borini (@ailaviu) on Jun 20, 2016 at 5:24am PDT

James Turrell @ Dorotheenstadt Friedhof #youjusttocallmeonmycellphone #jamesturrell #dorotheenstadt #berlin #instalike #instaberlin #instafeel #drake

A photo posted by Imanol (@imalove) on Jul 25, 2016 at 1:17pm PDT

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Categories: News Monitor

Adopt These Healthy Eating Habits From Around The World

3 hours 11 min ago

The summer travel season is in full swing, offering the opportunity to experience new cultures and foods firsthand. Even within the United States, you’ll see significant differences in local food and culture, and traveling abroad can offer insight into some of the healthiest eating habits from around the world.

If you don’t have a trip planned, there’s no need to worry. Several registered dietitian nutritionists are sharing their favorite international healthy habits and some globally inspired recipes to help you put them into practice at home.

Focus on vegetables

“One of the healthy habits we have here in Greece is eating vegetables as a main course. We cook seasonal vegetables in olive oil and tomato and herbs, and have a big plate accompanied by bread and feta cheese,” says Elena Paravantes at Olive Tomato. A recent study from Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts shows Greeks boast the highest vegetable intake in the world, and Paravantes says that one meal may include three to four servings of vegetables.

To get a taste of that Mediterranean tradition, try Greek Style Green Beans-Fasolakia Lathera.

“In Mexico, you’ll find street vendors selling fresh fruits and vegetables, such as mango, jicama and cucumber, all cut up and ready to eat along with lime wedges and chili. It’s something I routinely serve my kids for snacks and sometimes pop into their lunch boxes.”– Katie Sullivan Morford of Mom’s Kitchen Handbook

In Syria, “we center all our meals around a main vegetable and then cook it with different sauces, meats and side dishes. For example, ‘Mahashee’ is eggplant and zucchini stuffed with rice and ground beef cooked in a tomato base.” – Rahaf Al Bochi, Olive Tree Nutrition

Eat more plant-based protein

“Lentils are a staple in India, and they just happen to be one of the healthiest foods out there. Lentils are rich in fiber and protein and are high in manganese, a mineral that is needed to absorb calcium and to maintain stable blood sugar levels. It is part of superoxide dismutase (SOD), a compound which protects healthy cells from free radical damage and which may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.” – Christy Brissette, president of 80 Twenty Nutrition

Try Lentil Coconut Curry With Brown Basmati Rice.

“Several countries in Africa use peanuts (called groundnuts) and other legumes for protein and flavor. These inexpensive plant proteins are a great idea for Meatless Monday meals here in the States.” – Deanna Segrave-Daly, Teaspoon Communications

Try this African peanut stew.

Let herbs shine

Roxana Begum of The Delicious Crescent says she’s not aware of any other cuisine that uses such large of quantities of fresh herbs as are included in Persian dishes. “The cuisine is rich with recipes that use cups of fresh herbs resulting in a scrumptious dish that is also very healthy due to the phytochemical-rich herbs.”

Try Almond Herb Crusted Baked Fish.

Eat more fish

“A lot of Asian countries like Japan enjoy more fish and less meat, reaping the benefits of those heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids that so many of us are low on.” – Abbey Sharp, Abbey’s Kitchen

Try her sustainable Maple Artic Char.

Go nuts

“One of my favorite healthy habits is incorporating hints of healthy fats, such as nuts, seeds and olive oil into meals and snacks as people [do] in Mediterranean countries, such as Turkey, Greece and Italy. I particularly love nuts like pistachios, almonds and walnuts, as they are simple to pack on the go, as well as throw into meals for a heart-healthy boost.” – Vicki Shanta Retelny, The Lifestyle Nutritionist

Try Mediterranean-Style Watermelon, Pistachio-Mint Couscous.

Switch the staples

“A very popular dish is ‘freekeh,’ which is roasted baby wheat kernel. It is a whole grain and is now being introduced in the West. Freekeh is high in fiber, B vitamins and protein, and has a chewy, nutty texture.” – Rahaf Al Bochi, Olive Tree Nutrition

Try Syrian freekeh.

“I love that traditional Indian cuisine uses yogurt as a base to enhance the flavor of dishes, with fresh herbs and spices,” says Elizabeth Shaw of Shaw’s Simple Swaps. She suggests making this Kachumber Salad, also known as Indian cucumber yogurt salad.

Spice it up

“A common condiment in Ethiopian cuisine is senafich, a delicious and spicy mustard dip. Mustard is rich in phytonutrients that are converted into isothiocyanates, compounds which may help prevent cancer.” – Christy Brissette, 80 Twenty Nutrition

“I use global inspiration to boost flavor in my recipes with a wide variety of herbs and spices. There is evidence that some herbs and spices provide health benefits, and it’s the perfect way to season a dish without adding excess salt. Cayenne pepper, paprika, mustard and garlic in any Cajun-style dish are some of my favorites!” – Cara Harbstreet of Street Smart Nutrition

Go for naturally sweet treats

“While traveling in Turkey and Greece, I noticed that fresh fruit was more often the dessert of choice over sugary sweets. At home, I find if I pick up gorgeous, seasonal fruit and assemble it with some care (sometimes on a bed of crushed ice), it’s greeted with as much enthusiasm as more decadent desserts,” Morford says.

Take time out

In Europe, “food is an experience and about community. Germans also value exercise and frequently ‘volksmarch,’ where members of the community come together and hike or walk. Culinary and wine walks are a fun opportunity to walk through the vineyards and stop at food and wine booths. They also make it family-friendly with activities for children.” – Betsy Ramirez of Hungry & Healthy

In Spain, “older couples would go out for nightly walks around town where I lived. It’s a way to get a bit more movement into your day, you can lower your blood sugar levels post-dinner and spend quality distraction-free time with family!“ – Rebecca Clyde, Be Truly Nourished

“While visiting Europe, I went to grocery stores and local markets several times a week to load up on fresh produce. I now continue this habit at home to keep my fridge stocked with fresh fruit and veggies!” – Amy Gorin of Amy Gorin Nutrition

What healthy habits have you picked up while traveling or in your own community? Considering how connected we all are, it’s easier than ever to learn about different cultures, try new foods and adapt any of these healthy habits from the comfort of home.

Healthy Eating Habits From Around the World was originally published on U.S. News & World Report.

More from U.S. News:
6 Healthy Foods Worth Splurging On 
8 Ways to Start an Urban Garden
The Best Foods for Lowering Your Blood Pressure 

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Obama Still Has Time To Curb A Toxic Waste Crisis Caused By Gadgets

4 hours 17 min ago

Electronics can wreak havoc on the planet when they’re discarded irresponsibly, and a new petition is zeroing in on a major organization making the problem worse: the federal government.

Currently, a legal loophole allows organizations used by the government to export electronic waste ― like discarded smartphones, computers, televisions and monitors ― to other countries, where they’re dismantled by workers in unsafe conditions.

“They take advantage of the fact that the U.S. is the only developed country in the world that has failed to ratify the Basel Convention, which requires getting permission from importing countries before you send them toxic wastes such as old electronic devices,” Jim Puckett, head of the Basel Action Network, a nonprofit opposing toxic exports, told The Huffington Post last month

Puckett and his team on Wednesday introduced the petition calling for President Barack Obama to sign an executive order in the final months of his term that would curb the federal government’s e-waste exports.

“A signature from Obama to properly manage the federal government’s own e-waste would not only send a powerful message, but would in fact result in replacing cancer and birth defects with sustainable safe jobs,” Puckett said in a Press release, referring to health problems that can arise from mishandled equipment.

Properly recycling electronics in the U.S. would be costly, which is why many companies don’t do it and ship their junk elsewhere. Safely dismantling gadgets to use their parts elsewhere also isn’t easy, which means this issue is also enmeshed in a complicated battle about “right to repair,” with heavy hitters like Apple opposing legislation that would make it easier for shops to dismantle and resell electronics.

Four years ago, the government enacted guidelines to prevent federal agencies from dumping electronics into landfills, encouraging them to bring gadgets to “certified” recycling agencies instead.

But after tracking supposedly “recycled” devices from the U.S. to dangerous junkyards in other parts of the world, the Basel Action Network found that nearly 40 percent originated at these certified locations ― underscoring that problems will continue until exports are banned.

More stories about waste:

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Climate Change Risk Threatens 18 U.S. Military Sites, Study Finds

4 hours 55 min ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Rising sea levels due to hurricanes and tidal flooding intensified by climate change will put military bases along the U.S. East Coast and Gulf Coast at risk, according to a report released on Wednesday.

Nonprofit group the Union of Concerned Scientists analyzed 18 military installations that represent more than 120 coastal bases nationwide to weigh the impact of climate change on their operations.

Faster rates of sea level rises in the second half of this century could mean that tidal flooding will become a daily occurrence for some installations, pushing useable land needed for military training and testing into tidal zones, said the report titled “The U.S. Military on the Front Lines of Rising Seas.”

By 2050, most of these sites will be hit by more than 10 times the number of floods than at present, the report said, and at least half of them will experience daily floods.

Four of those - including the Naval Air Station in Key West, Florida, and the Marine Corps recruit depot in South Carolina - could lose between 75 and 95 percent of their land in this century.

The report said the Pentagon already recognizes the threat of climate change on its military installations but warned that more resources and monitoring systems are needed to boost preparedness.

But last month, the U.S. House appropriations committee passed an amendment that blocked funding for the Pentagon’s climate adaptation strategy.

“Our defense leadership has a special responsibility to protect the sites that hundreds of thousands of Americans depend on for their livelihoods and millions depend on for national security,” the report said.

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Bomb Blasts Hit Northeastern Syrian City, Killing Dozens

5 hours 34 min ago

BEIRUT, July 27 (Reuters) - A large truck bomb blast claimed by Islamic State killed nearly 50 people and wounded scores more in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli near the Turkish border on Wednesday, a monitoring group and state television reported.

The attack hit near a Kurdish security forces headquarters and was the deadliest of its kind in the city for years, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The blast, which took place early on Wednesday, killed at least 48 people. The death toll expected to rise because of the number of people seriously injured, the Observatory said. State media put the death toll at 44.

Kurdish forces control much of Hasaka province, after capturing vast areas from the jihadist group last year. The Kurdish YPG militi, which has proved the most effective partner for a U.S.-led coalition battling Islamic State, is also involved in fighting the extremists farther west, in Aleppo province.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for what it said was a suicide truck bomb attack, and added that it targeted Kurdish security forces. The group State has carried out a number of bombings in Qamishli, which is in Hasaka province, and in the provincial capital, Hasaka city.

State TV rolled footage purportedly from the scene of one blast, showing large-scale damage to buildings, vast amounts of rubble strewn across the road and plumes of smoke rising.

The explosion was so powerful it shattered the windows of shops in the Turkish town of Nusaybin, directly across the border. Two people were slightly hurt in Nusaybin, a witness said.

Islamic State has targeted Qamishli and the provincial capital, Hasaka city, in the past with bombing attacks. A suicide blast killed six members of the Kurdish internal security force, known as the Asayish, in April. In July, an Islamic State suicide bomb killed at least 16 people in Hasaka.

The YPG is now involved in a U.S.-backed offensive that has advanced against the jihadists further west near the Turkish border.

The assault against Islamic State in the city of Manbij has put it under pressure, cutting off all routes out of the city. Fighters from the U.S.-backed alliance have in recent weeks made incremental advances as they try to flush out the remaining IS fighters in Manbij.

Territory that Islamic State controls in that area was a major supply route to the outside world via the Turkish-Syrian border, through which it moved weapons and fighters.

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Armenian Stand-Off Continues to be Tense and Dangerous

6 hours 9 min ago

Image: Ethnic Armenians have been protesting in and out of the country in recent years. This sign at a Los Angeles rally refers to many Armenians' belief that Russia interferes in their country's affairs. (Twitter: @S_Zoppellaro)

Lines are hardening in the stand-off between Armenian authorities and supporters of a jailed fringe occupation figure who stormed a police station in the capital of Yerevan on July 17.

The danger for the government is that the increasing tension could lead to either side making a mistake that ignites a general uprising.

Authorities shot two of the station occupiers as they patrolled outside the facility on July 26. Later an agreement was reached for the two to be allowed to go to a hospital for treatment.

The shooting further galvanized about 2,000 occupation supporters who have been marching near the station.

The day before the shooting, authorities cut off the dozen occupiers' cellphone service, electricity and food.

The raiders had released the four remaining hostages in the station on July 23 as a gesture of good faith. They initially took seven hostages, but released those who had been wounded.

When the authorities responded to the final hostage releases by trying to starve out the occupiers, the raiders, feeling betrayed, burned three police cars.

On July 26 authorities accused the raiders of firing guns willy nilly in the air outside the station, endangering those living in the area. The raiders' supporters countered that they, not the occupiers, had fired the shots to dramatize their demand that they be allowed to talk to those inside the station.

Also keeping tension high was supporters' refusal to move their demonstrations to an area away from the police station as authorities requested.

The Armenian chapter of Transparency International has jumped into the stand-off by contending that authorities' continuing use of violence against dissent flies in the face of an Armenian commitment to police reform. The agreement was reached between Armenia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Accusing the authorities of roughing up demonstrators on the streets and in jail during the police-station stand-off, Transparency International called on the rest of the world to stop pouring money in Armenian police reform, saying the effort clearly had failed.

The government has made some conciliatory gestures on the station stand-off, but so far the occupiers and their supporters have refused to bite.

The most important overture was a government assertion that the occupiers could avoid prosecution if they surrendered.

Armenian law allows those who embark on a crime to avoid prosecution by ending it.

The problem with a blanket amnesty is that some of the occupiers killed one of the officers in the station and wounded two.

Can the government really let them walk away from the occupation without being charged?

The occupiers tried to help their case for a blanket amnesty by contending that the officer who was killed was shot by accident rather than intentionally.

The other overture the government has made to the occupiers came from President Serzh Sargsyan himself.

He offered to meet with the man the occupiers want released -- Zhirayr Seflian -- about how the stand-off can be resolved without additional bloodshed.

The men who took the station did so to try to force the government to release Sefilian, head of the small opposition political group Founding Parliament, whom the authorities jailed last month on allegations of planning a coup.

In addition to Seflian's release, the raiders have demanded Sargsyan's resignation.

Seflian, who fought in the war between Nagorno Karabakh separatists and Azerbaijan from 1990 to 1994, has been unhappy about Sargsyan's response to a renewal of the conflict this year.

He's particularly incensed that Sargsyan has refused to commit to retaking small slices of territory that Azerbaijan reclaimed during a flare-up in the fighting in April.

The Nagorno-Kazabakh war started when the mostly ethnic Armenians in the territory declared their independence and neighboring Azerbaijan objected because it considers the enclave its territory. Armenia has always supported the separatists.

Seflian has also objected to Sargsyan cooperating with Russian President Vladimir Putin's bid to forge a new Nagorno-Karabakh truce between Armenia, Azerbaijan and the separatists.

Sefilian, who served 18 months in prison on a weapons charge in 2007 and 2008, has called openly for an overthrow of the Sargsyan government.

Although he commands a relatively small group of followers, many Armenians who have dismissed him as a fringe politician have been sympathetic to the occupiers and their supporters for standing up to a government they see as corrupt and unresponsive.

The release of the remaining hostages has shifted the leverage in the station stand-off from the occupiers to the authorities.

But it's still a very dangerous situation. One wrong move on either side could provoke a much larger confrontation.

Armine Sahakyan is a human rights activist based in Armenia. A columnist with the Kyiv Post and a blogger with The Huffington Post, she writes on human rights and democracy in Russia and the former Soviet Union. Follow her on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/ArmineSahakyann

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No Surprise That ISIS Jihadists Killed A Priest In France

7 hours 47 min ago
A pair of killers in provincial France slit the throat of an elderly priest while he was celebrating mass. The killing, and hostage taking in a church, was shocking, but should not surprise.

Terrorists inspired by the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and other radical groups in the Middle East have a long history of killing Christians. In Iraq and Syria, home territory for ISIS and other such groups, priests have been targeted for years. Killing a Christian religious leader warns all members of the community that they are not safe.

The Islamic State, both when it was operating solely in Iraq and now in both Iraq and Syria, killed priests and bishops with wanton gusto. Sometimes they shot them or stabbed and dismembered them. They held clerics for ransom or simply disappeared them into the anarchic fog of the two countries.

Over the years since 2003, when President George W. Bush invaded Iraq, insurgents bombed churches, kidnapped Christians and other minorities, emptied Christian neighborhoods of inhabitants, all in the name of creating a pure Islamic holy land emptied of infidels. Two year ago, ISIS expelled the entire population of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city.

As for the murder of Fr. Jacques Hamel, what would be the rationale for such an attack? Islamic State tacticians have concocted a view that jihad ought to include killing civilians anywhere, and in France's case, against a country that is involved in bombing ISIS. A church, unguarded, is the softest of targets. Small group and so-called "lone wolf," individual terror attacks are encouraged, even without orders from Islamic state commanders.

You just have to go online to get how-to instructions.

The killing ought also to be viewed in the context of the holy warriors' long list of civilians they regard as deserving punishment: non-believers generally, women who do not follow strict Islamic social norms, gays, and anyone deemed as having offended Islam in any way. That's what ties together such seemingly disparate killings in Orlando, San Bernardino, the mass killing in Nice and recent assaults in Germany.

Muslims are far from exempt from the jihadists' furious cruelty, especially members of non-Sunni Muslim sects, among them Shiites, Ismailis, Druze and Alawites. Sunni Muslims may also face punishment if they simply are insufficiently pious or show a lack of enthusiasm for holy war.

The jihadists base their judgments on archaic versions of Islam and restrictive texts that demand obeisance to a one-dimensional view of the religion. They reject Islamic restrictions on killing civilians developed through centuries of Muslim history.

The murder in France was done in Islamic State style, as if the priest was a sheep for slaughter. He was forced to his knees before they slashed his throat. Reportedly, the event was video recorded, according to a nun who witnessed the murder. Such recordings, of course, are meant to strike fear widely, as have the scores of other videotape beheadings by ISIS that have taken place in Syria and elsewhere.

The attack, which took place in a working class suburb of Rouen, an out-of-the-way place in northern France, is likely to fuel the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim National Front party of Marine LePen.

France's President Francois Hollande blamed cowardly attackers "linked to the Islamic State" and said the goal of the two killers was to "divide" the French, presumably by setting off an Muslim/non-Muslim civil war. President Obama has yet to comment. If he does, he will probably pronounce the killers as having distorted Islam and send his condolences. He has only reluctantly acknowledged that Christians in the Middle East are specifically targeted by the terrorists.

Both Hollande and Obama, with their vague pronouncements, do a disservice to the vast majority of Muslims who do not subscribe to the tactics and ideology of the Islamic State. ISIS draws its vicious notions from two ultraconservative branches of Sunni Islam: Salafism, which contends that the earliest generation of Muslims set the ideal for present day action; and Wahhabism, a similar sect which features an aggressive promotion of holy war, including the killing of adherents of other religions and even groups within Sunni Islam. Both draw punishments like beheadings and burnings-alive from ancient practices.

Muslim leaders in the Middle East (if there are any who themselves are not tormenting their Muslim citizens) are also reluctant to speak plainly about the sources of ISIS doctrine. They fear accusations of fomenting Islamic disunity. But the sectarian toll on Muslims in places as far afield as Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and Syria ought to be enough to persuade them to speak up and denounce ISIS ideology (by the way, Sunnis are not the only guilty practitioners of wanton killing of the innocent: in the case of Iraq, Shiite militias sponsored by Iran are violently tormenting Sunni refugees; in Syria, Alawite security forces persecute Sunnis with indiscriminate bombing, torture and disappearances).

It does not seem to me to be an insult to Islam or Muslims to point all this out. Muslims by and large are aware of the venom heaped on Christians, Shiites, other Muslims and non-monotheistic worshippers on satellite TV and the Internet. They would not be offended by plain speaking about the dangers of extreme sects that pretend to represent their religion.

Such openness would not end attacks. But it would at least clarify for Muslims and non-Muslims the source of ideas that need to be fought (and illuminate who it is that sponsors such ideas and activities, chief among them Saudi Arabia). The death of Fr. Jacques was simply a crime against humanity and should be denounced as such by all.

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Bill Clinton Tells Democrats How He Met Their Nominee

11 hours 54 min ago

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PHILADELPHIA ― A quarter-century after winning his party’s nomination for the presidency, Bill Clinton took the Democratic National Convention stage to tell a story on the night his wife officially won it herself: 

“In the spring of 1971, I met a girl.”

And so began the 42nd president’s push to make Hillary Clinton the 45th president, with an attempt to humanize a woman whom American voters don’t like or trust. While most voters likely associate Hillary Clinton with “email server” or “Whitewater” or the other controversies Republicans like to talk about, Bill Clinton spent 43 minutes ― a short speech, by his standards ― explaining the small details of their courtship, of becoming parents, of dropping their daughter off at college where Hillary busied herself with laying liner paper in Chelsea’s dorm-room dresser drawers.

“We’ve built up a lifetime of memories,” he said.

He interspersed the personal stories with praise for his wife’s work ethic and attention to detail, and tried to turn her difficulty in delivering an entertaining speech into a virtue.

“Speeches like this are fun. Actually doing the work is hard,” he said, as he explained how Hillary had put together a package of reforms to improve the public schools as first lady of Arkansas and later pushed through the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program that remains today.

And it was that effectiveness, someone who can make government work, the former president said, that so terrified her political opponents who ultimately want to cut government. “If you win elections on the theory that government is always bad and will mess up a two-car parade, a real change maker represents a real threat,” he said.

Clinton said that is why the real Hillary Clinton is so different from what was described by Republicans in their convention last week.

“What’s the difference from what I told you and what they said? How do you square it? You can’t. One is real. One is made up,” he said, explaining that Republicans had no choice. “Your only option is to create a cartoon, a cartoon alternative. They’re running against a cartoon.”

Clinton’s testimonial continues the role reversal the two began in the final year of his presidency, when Hillary Clinton started her own political career after some 25 years of standing by Bill’s side during his rise from Arkansas attorney general to governor to president.

The party and nation Bill Clinton addresses on behalf of his wife, of course, is a world apart from the one he spoke to during his nominating convention in 1992. Democrats had won only three of the previous 10 presidential elections, and one of those was Jimmy Carter’s post-Watergate victory in 1976.

Democrats like Bill Clinton thought that only by appealing to more conservative voters could they break the Republicans’ lock on the Electoral College. And, with the third-party run of Ross Perot peeling away Republican votes, that’s what he managed to do, winning Louisiana, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia, as well as his home state of Arkansas. 

Six elections later, Hillary Clinton will probably not win any of those states. She doesn’t need to, thanks to the increase in black and Latino voters in California, Florida, Virginia and elsewhere.

“Bill Clinton was a Blue Dog. He was more conservative ― he had to be to win, but the party is being much more liberal,” Michigan delegate Rebecca Bahar-Cook said. “It’s becoming much, much more progressive and I think that’s a really cool thing.”

“I don’t think it’s so much the party,” New York delegate Maxine Outerbridge said. “I think the question should be put in context as in what’s gone on in the world.”

Hillary Clinton’s historic Tuesday brought with it two associated firsts: Bill Clinton becomes the first potential “first gentleman” based on a nomination of a major party, and the couple would become, should she win in November, the first husband and wife to each serve as president.

Such an eventuality was hinted at, if not held out as a promise, right from the start. During his 1992 run, Bill Clinton advertised his wife’s policy chops as a “buy one, get one free” deal. Voters weren’t universally thrilled with the notion, and, after the failure of the health care reform effort that she led in 1994, Hillary Clinton’s West Wing role was not emphasized much anymore.

Hillary Clinton’s political ambitions were kept on ice until the end of Bill Clinton’s second term, when she announced she would run for an open Senate seat in New York. Her run for president came after her re-election to a second term, but was thwarted by Barack Obama’s improbable campaign.

If Hillary Clinton lands the top job, putting Bill Clinton in an undefined advisory role, Democrats gathered for the convention did not seem worried about potential turf battles.

“Listen, any spouse, my wife, has an awful lot of influence on me. Anyone, whether man or woman, who says the spouse doesn’t have influence is crazy,” Georgia delegate John Olsen said. “At the end of the day, it’s always the president’s decision. But there’s nothing like having someone to give you a pat on the back or a kick in the butt. And only a wife or a husband could do that.”

Clinton now has been an ex-president for nearly twice as long as he was in the Oval Office. For those 16 years, Clinton has remained the most popular Democrat on the campaign trail, surpassed only in recent years by Obama.

Even Obama relied on him four years ago, assigning him the role of “explainer in chief” to talk up the performance of the economy under Obama against Republican attacks. His well-received performance helped Obama open a measurable polling lead over Republican nominee Mitt Romney that remained stable through Election Day.

Clinton’s role now reprises his work in 2008, when he was his wife’s top surrogate in her first try at the presidency, at times effectively reaching the working-class white supporters who helped him win two terms, but at times creating damaging distractions for the campaign with off-script attacks on her opponent, Barack Obama.

Igor Bobic and Julia Craven contributed reporting. This post has been updated throughout with more details from Bill Clinton’s speech and reaction to it.

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Palestinian Activists At The DNC Believe Time Is On Their Side

13 hours 16 min ago

PHILADELPHIA ― Democratic Party leaders may be doing their best to snub Palestinian rights advocates, but the activists were out in unprecedented force at the Democratic National Convention this week.

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) candidacy, along with young people’s changing views of Israel, are emboldening staunch partisans of the Palestinian cause once relegated to the fringes of the progressive movement in the United States.

It is hard to know how significant the small but visible pivot of Palestinian activism into the Democratic tent will be over the long term. But if it proceeds on its current trajectory, it could threaten the virtually unconditional support for Israeli government policies that has been a core tenet of both major parties for decades.

The sight of the Palestinian flag among the “Bernie or bust” protesters in downtown Philadelphia was not surprising, but seeing delegates from Florida raise the Palestinian flag on the convention floor was something else entirely.

We at the FLA delegation just raised Flag of Palestine at #DNCinPHL during platform vote #ProgressiveforPalestine pic.twitter.com/g64VLfUxHe

— Ahmed Bedier (@bedier) July 25, 2016

Many others in the audience could be seen holding signs that said, “I support Palestinian human rights.”

The public displays of Palestinian pride and solidarity were a notable contrast with the Democratic Party platform. Sanders surrogates won major gains on domestic issues like the $15 minimum wage, the public option for health care, and Social Security expansion, but not on the question of Palestinian rights.

Platform committee members supportive of Clinton shot down attempts to even characterize Israeli control of the Palestinian territories as a military “occupation,” though the term is uncontroversial in international legal and diplomatic circles.

What the platform does include is a promise to keep Jerusalem “the capital of Israel, an undivided city.” Most advocates of a two-state solution, which remains the official position of the U.S. government, believe a shared Palestinian and Israeli capital in Jerusalem is essential to peace ― and would likely feature some divisions.

Clinton herself has taken pains to reassure prominent Israel supporters that she will not only back Israel, but also make amends with the current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (President Barack Obama has been perceived as having a rocky relationship with the conservative Israeli premier, in part due to the U.S. administration’s negotiation of a nuclear deal with Iran.)

At a panel discussion in downtown Philadelphia on Monday evening, supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS, expressed little confidence that Clinton could ever be trusted to fight for Palestinians. The BDS movement calls for a boycott of Israel until the Israeli occupation ends, Palestinian refugees are allowed to return, and Palestinian citizens of Israel are treated equally.

The event, organized by the local chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, a pro-BDS group, put the Palestinian cause in the context of other struggles against “neocolonialism” in Puerto Rico, Honduras and Afghanistan. There were more than 100 people in the audience. 

I don’t think [Clinton] is really movable on Israel, but the people around her might be.
Jeremy Siegman

Max Blumenthal, an anti-Zionism journalist and author of Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, devoted much of his speaking time at the event to naming and explaining the roles of pro-Israel donors and ideologues backing Clinton’s candidacy. Blumenthal singled out for scrutiny donors Haim Saban, Seth Klarman and Jack Rosen, and policy expert Robert Kagan.

Blumenthal has been a source of irritation for the Clinton campaign, since his father, the journalist Sydney Blumenthal, is a longtime friend and adviser to the Clintons. Hillary Clinton’s campaign has publicly denounced some remarks made by Max Blumenthal to make clear she has no association with him.

“I am the only member of this panel who has been condemned by the Clinton campaign,” Blumenthal said, drawing cheers from the crowd. “I was deeply, deeply hurt by the rumors … that I have ever been a friend of Hillary.” 

It is hard to imagine Palestinian advocacy groups viewing past Democratic national conventions as an occasion for organizing, let alone packing a solidarity-themed event full of people who were mostly in town for the convention. 

While Jewish Voice for Peace’s nonprofit status precludes it from getting involved in electoral politics, it was clearly hoping to take advantage of the high concentration of progressive activists descending on the city to build on its cause. The day before the panel, it hosted a training session for DNC-related activism, and on Tuesday, it held another panel on the “power of boycotts and divestment as tools for social justice movements.”

This year’s DNC is different for groups like Jewish Voice for Peace, in no small part because of Sanders’ candidacy, which brought more liberal voices into the Democratic Party and expanded the bounds of the debate in the process.

There is the official convention at Wells Fargo Center ― and then there is the people’s convention all over the city.
Juan Gonzalez, Democracy Now!

Rania Khalek, an associate editor at Electronic Intifada who moderated Monday’s panel, acknowledged that the Sanders campaign represented a watershed moment for the Palestinian rights movement. Khalek highlighted Sanders’ willingness to challenge Clinton during an April debate in Brooklyn for being too one-sidedly pro-Israel, and said it was a sign the position is no longer the political taboo it once was.

But Khalek credited activists for pushing Sanders to be more vocal about the matter, noting that in the summer of 2014 he shouted down constituents at a town hall meeting who were badgering him to more vocally oppose Israel’s war in Gaza. (Sanders said then, and continues to argue, that Israel acted disproportionately.)

Jeremy Siegman, a Philadelphia resident attending the event, shared Khalek’s assessment that Sanders’ campaign showed the possibilities for policy shifts.

“I don’t think [Clinton] is really movable on Israel, but the people around her might be,” Siegman said. “And I think the Democratic party is movable on Israel ― as evidenced by Bernie, as evidenced by [Reps.] Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum.”

Blumenthal, Khalek and other dyed-in-the-wool proponents of the Palestinian cause are still not the norm in mainstream progressive circles. But they believe that American demographics are on their side. The percentage of Americans more sympathetic to the Palestinians than the Israelis is higher among younger American age groups, according to the latest Pew polling.

The increasingly illiberal behavior of the Israeli government, which includes cabinet ministers who do not even pretend to support Palestinian independence or human rights, can only help the BDS cause, Blumenthal suggested.

Sanders may not be the Democratic nominee now, the thinking goes, but it is only a matter of time before the party’s standard bearer has a view of Palestinian rights that is closer to his than that of Clinton.

Until then, the panelists at Monday’s event were content to stage a teach-in that they believe is every bit as subversive as the public protests taking place elsewhere through the city.

“There are two conventions going on here,” said Juan Gonzalez, a co-host of “Democracy Now!” who was there to speak about Puerto Rico. “There is the official convention at Wells Fargo Center ― and then there is the people’s convention all over the city.”

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Molten Lava Is Flowing Into The Ocean In Hawaii

13 hours 24 min ago

Last night, a lava breakout in Hawaii flowed into the Pacific Ocean after creeping toward the coast for weeks.

The flow, which originating from Kilauea volcano’s Puʻu ʻŌʻō vent, officially made contact with the water at 1:12 a.m. HST on Tuesday, according to the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Videos and photos of the rare occurrence show the bright red, 2,000-degree lava cascading down the rocky southeastern coastline of Hawaii’s Big Island, producing clouds of steam as it enters the water.

Though volcanic activity constantly blows our minds on the Big Island, this phenomenon puts all others to shame. See for yourself in the photo slideshow below:

This particular breakout began in late May and has been moving slowly toward the coastline for several weeks. Lava enthusiasts have been eagerly waiting to see if the flow would actually reach the ocean. It’s been nearly three years since lava flowed into the sea on the Big Island.

When molten lava meets water, it cools quickly, hardening into rock. Essentially, you’re witnessing the island growing larger by the minute. The water, on the other hand, heats up to very high temperatures, producing steam.

And while it’s fascinating and beautiful, it’s also incredibly dangerous.

Though there are boat tours and walking tours that approach the phenomenon, the U.S. Geological Survey website urges visitors to keep a safe distance from the flow and the surrounding area, both from the water and on foot. In addition to the ground being highly unstable and uneven, “venturing too close to an ocean entry exposes you to flying debris created by the explosive interaction between lava and water,” USGS writes on its website.

Kilauea is one of the world’s most active volcanoes, and it has been continuously erupting for more than 33 years. Though it currently poses no threat to residents of the Big Island, it claimed one home and threatened a small community in 2014

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Categories: News Monitor

Yemen & Image Politics: Weapon, Qat & Misogyny

13 hours 35 min ago
This article was originally published on Raseef22.com in Arabic, 5th July 2016.

Visualization is an integral part of how we perceive the world, so visual images about Yemen do construct how Yemen is perceived. That's the case, as well, in how Yemenis perceive each other. Having said that, I tackle Yemen and Image Politics on two levels. One, how western media use images to portray Yemen? Second, how Yemenis use images to narrate stories about each other. Between the misleading political image and misogynic image, images from Yemen are confusing.

Yemen's Image in Western Media

It is difficult to tell when exactly the relationship between the western media and the Old Sana'a's beautiful architecture began. That relationship was contagious that it was duplicated in the Arab media. No doubt that the Old Sana'a's dazzling architecture is difficult to ignore; but as I just mentioned, it's called the "Old" Sana'a; meaning that there is a new one. To box all Yemen, with all its cities and diversity, in a bunch of images from the Old Sana'a is not only doing injustice to the rest of Yemen's cities and their beauty, but it also gives a flawed impression that Yemen is just the Old Sana'a. And when western media wants to dig deeper into Yemenis' lives, it boxes their lives in limited topics about weapons, tribal culture and Qat, and other easy and repeated topics.

The image of an Arab has always been demeaned in Western media; we are told that we, Arabs are barbarians, terrorists and uncivilised. Yemen falls into that stereotyped image which perhaps can be summarised in the "Salmon Fishing in -the- Yemen" movie. The movie demonstrates to be one of the best movies that wrongly portray Yemen. It's based on the novel with the same title for a novelist that has never been to Yemen. The movie crew, including the actors and the actresses never been to Yemen, as well. The movie was never shot in Yemen. How can we have a movie depicting a country without touching its ground for real is something I don't understand!

Images' Use among Yemenis

As movies are discussed, here is a Yemeni movie that's one of the best movies that genuinely used images to relate to Yemenis. "I am Nojoom, Age 10 and Divorced" by the Yemeni filmmaker, Khadija al-Salami is a movie inspired by the book "I Am Nujood, Aged 10 and Divorced" which was about the real story of the Yemeni child Nujood who is believed to be the first Yemeni child to get divorced in Yemen. The movie was shot in Yemen and following its release has won several international awards. The movie is genuine and honest; its message is to raise awareness about the child marriage tragedy in Yemen. Unfortunately, the movie has not been shown in Yemen, due to the absence of established cinema and, most importantly, the consecutive occurrence of armed conflicts and violence, since the release date of the movie in 2014. This made politics dominate any intellectual and cultural debate in the country.

Media in Yemen is obsessed by a political debate that mainly revolves around today's political leaders. For instance, topics that dominate media in Yemen are the states of the ousted president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, president, Abdurabou Mansour Hadi, and Houthis' leader, Abdelmalik al Houthi. Images about this or that political leader represent a mirror in which Yemenis see through each other. Polarisation is extreme and any middle ground is inevitably absent.

In this regard, one of the issues that concerned me the most is the issue of Misogyny and how images are used in Yemen's political debate. Throughout the past 5 years, since the beginning of Yemen's 2011 uprising, and along the way with my blogging experience, I found one pattern of a concept being repeated whenever images are used and meant to demean a political leader. That is, whenever any political camp wants to insult another political camp, the easiest thing to do is to portray him as a woman. For example, when ousted president Saleh is meant to be demeaned, he's being portrayed with full make-up and jewellery so he can supposedly look like a woman. In that way, there is an association being drawn between a demeaned status for men and being a female; an expression of an insult is channelled by describing the other as a female.

I collected the following images over the past five years. As the political phases in Yemen develop, Yemen's social media users seemed busy designing and posting these images - which sometimes found their way to the streets' protests as posters.

Speaking of protests, the world was impressed in 2011 by Yemeni women's participation. Little did they know that those women were to a large extent affiliated to the second largest political party, the Muslim-brotherhood version in Yemen, Al-Islah party. Their participation was only out a decorative move. However, the women who took the streets independently, challenging ousted president Saleh's regime and Patriarchy -which obliges a gender-based segregation between the two sexes in public space- did not receive the same worldwide attention; even worse, they were doomed to be hit by the walls of Patriarchy. These women's rebellion provoked Yemeni men. At the beginning of Yemen's 2011 uprising, a group of men and women tried to hold a gender-mixed protest, but the protest was not only fated to be dispersed but also to be violently attacked. In particular, the women had the biggest share of humiliation and assault.

The perception that women are inferior exists in Yemen; as much as, it exists in the Arab world. Women are believed to be "3awrah". At the start of the Arab Spring, a group of Arab feminists created a page on Facebook that calls for the uprising of women in the Arab world. People rushed to the page with their posts, protesting against how females are treated in the Arab world; as 2nd class citizens, if not even worse. I was struck by this post from Yemen, which dismays any claim that says women in Yemen are not perceived as inferior.

(I am Shima'a Al-Ahdel with the Uprising of women in the Arab world. My brother is ashamed to say my name and my mother's name.)

The problem of insulting a male political leader by describing him as a female is something that a Yemeni man won't understand unless we reverse the meaning. I once had a discussion with a Yemeni male friend who used to like using sexy women images on his facebook to tease and provoke the rival political camp. "I don't mean to insult women," he told me, "I just want to tease my enemies." I said, have you ever seen a woman using images of sexy men to insult her enemies?" My friend stopped to do such moves after he understood my point.

The issue of "Misogyny" and media is a global problem and it doesn't only exist in Yemen, but it is rarely discussed in the Arab and Yemeni media. We often condemn how western media portray us, Arabs; but we don't condemn how our media portray our women. And here, Yemeni media concerns me the most.

Since the beginning of Yemen's 2011 uprising and one conflict after another has been spinning the country around -which made life or death matters prioritised in whatever discussion being brought up about this impoverished country. Amidst all the bloodshed, there is no space for free and refreshing discussion. For instance, I wrote this article while bearing in mind two things: that this topic is refreshing to me from the perspective of media theories and practices, and gender theories. The second thing: I know that there is a so-called "this is not the right time to talk about this" camp awaiting me to undermine the importance of this topic. My desire to navigate an intellectual topic about the stereotyped image about Yemen in media won over my anxiety from the so-called "this is not the right time to talk about this" camp. And that is how I managed to write the article.

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Categories: News Monitor