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September 2012

Bachmann: ‘We Must Ban Falafel’ in School Lunches

Sep. 28, 2012
and I thought it was Israeli food ! (sarcasm)

Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann courted controversy today by claiming that falafel and other “jihadi foods” should be banned from school lunches in the United States.

In an interview with local television station KSTP in Minneapolis, Bachmann explained that after visiting a local elementary school she was shocked to find that falafel – a fried vegetable patty popular in the Arab world – was being served as a option on the vegetarian menu.

Ostensibly in the studio to discuss her close race for reelection against Democratic challenger Jim Graves, Bachmann instead used the time to appeal for a nationwide movement against Arab cuisine.

Startled by the parochial nature of her statements, KSTP anchor Chris Johnson felt obliged to challenge her reasoning:

“I have to ask Ms. Bachmann, why is that a problem? I mean some children like the taste of falafel, what’s wrong with that?”

“Chris, falafel is a gateway food,” responded Bachmann, “It starts with falafel, then the kids move on to shawarma. After a while they say ‘hey this tastes good, I wonder what else comes from Arabia?’ ”

“Before you know it our children are listening to Muslim music, reading the Koran, and plotting attacks against the homeland.”

“We need to stop these terror cakes now, before they infiltrate any further.”

God Hates Chick Peas

Bachmann stopped short of advocating a ban on all Arab food, saying that  “responsible adults can probably use Arab food safely in moderation.”

However, she made clear that she was frightened by the pace at which the cuisine has permeated the U.S.:

“I have a friend in Texas who has to homeschool her children because her local public school forces students to eat hummus. Its everywhere now. This is really scary stuff.”

Bachmann then intimated that the widespread use of Arab foods in American schools could be the sign of a conspiracy that goes all the way to the top:

“I have no proof that President Obama is forcing our children to eat Arab and Middle Eastern food. But it would certainly fit the pattern.”

Bachmann has a history of controversial statements regarding Islam and the role of Muslims in America.

She says her first priority upon returning to congress will be to introduce a bill protecting America’s children from the dangers of Muslim cooking:

“We must ban falafel and other jihadi foods in schools before its too late.”


Syria’s Torture Centers Revealed


          Publiée le  2 juil. 2012 par Former detainees and defectors have identified the locations, agencies responsible, torture methods used, and, in many cases, the commanders in charge of 27 detention facilities run by Syrian intelligence agencies. The systematic patterns of ill-treatment and torture that Human Rights Watch documented clearly point to a state policy of torture and ill-treatment and therefore constitute a crime against humanity. Interactive Map:



Syrian civil war marks grim record

Full article at (CNN)  with photo gallery — The death toll in Syria hit 343 Wednesday, the highest daily toll since unrest broke out in March 2011, an opposition group said.

“The regime is escalating the violence at every possible opportunity and it is proof that it is determined to crush the revolution by any means necessary,” said Rafif Jouejati, a spokeswoman for the Local Coordination Committees of Syria.

“The staggering numbers are horrific but the world also needs to know that there is increasing sexual torture and more children being tortured.”

Jouejati accused the Syrian regime of being willing to commit genocide. “There is (a) systematic increase in the violence and the world powers — so far — have shown that they are not willing to do much beyond the same condemnations we have been hearing for the last 19 months.”

The highest death count on Wednesday occurred in Damascus and its suburbs, where LCC cited 162 deaths, including 107 in a reported massacre in Thiabieh.

Superior!?… my a…..

The latest Walls delivery

Sep 26

Posted by OFF THE WALL

The latest selections of posts by Professor Landis betray what seems to be an affinity to the privileged. We first have a post presenting one of the most privileged people within the regime and who is a zero entity among the fractious opposition circles as the uniquely qualified person to hold Syria together.

Then comes a classical “Assad-the-enigmatic” style apologist post. Combining the professor’s reading of a Syria-experts, and that of Nir Rosen who, like many well-connected Syria specialists and insiders, continue to play the old bad melody of Assad the a reluctant murderer doing what he does because his sect wants him to stay in power in fear of losing privilege. The post, of course, attempts to inform us, in no uncertain term that all will be hell if this murderer and his gang lose power, and that Assad is viewed as the “superior” alternative to chaos.

Notwithstanding the very bad taste and choice the word “superior”, both posts prominently feature a declaration by general Tlass Jr., which received near zero second of attention by any of the many circles forming the real opposition to the mafia militia and is being hyped as a declaration of road-map and assurances through the traditional “I know-Syria” analysts in the US academia and press.

Both posts attempt to engineer opinion and both posts do display a lack of understanding, intentional or otherwise, about the seemingly stagnant, yet evolving situation in Syria. They also expose a lack of understanding of human nature. This is not because of missing facts, but for the machination of the facts in the interest of preserving the privileged status of those who ruled Syria by blood and gore for nearly fifty years.

Most tellingly, what the latter post ignores, which seems also to be a common deficiency among most US based analyses, usually written in favor of presenting those supporting Assad as future victims, is that there are no more privileges to have. The foundation of regime supporters enjoying special status, independent of their sect, was not power itself, military or otherwise, but the fear induced by the threat of exercising such power. In that sense, a thug can enjoy his privilege only in docile times when the hostility of the bereaved and oppressed is suppressed by this fear. This was only possible given that measures of violence remain personal and where examples are made through a limited, albeit, relatively huge number of people being brutalized by worst of the violence. The rest of the population has to be given a sense of deformed normalcy where accepting corruption, suppression, and despotism seem to be the safer option. It helps to throw in a bone of a central, larger than individuals cause to present the petty thief and murderer as a strong charismatic leader. These conditions would provide a wide margin for the privileged to use fear in relative safety and protection with minimal cost to themselves.

Fear is no longer. It has been replaced with open and courageous hostility, deep contempt, outright rejection, and tit-for-tat, albeit asymmetric violence directed against the regime’s privileged and their symbols. The current asymmetric military power and the wanton destruction and murder by the “Assad or we burn the country” has not helped in returning the clocks backward. On the contrary, the inhuman scale of the catastrophe wreaked solely by the ugly sectarian Assad-gang and their defenders has done exactly the opposite. It has exposed the limitation of the mindless violence in intimidating the will of the people once they have risen against the cheap and foolish ignoramus and his militia.

“Khelset” (crisis is over), Assad worshippers shouted more than a year ago. Today, they murdered 343 Syrians, many of whom were murdered in cold blood massacres. Everyone who still support this regime is accountable for their death

When were the minorities oppressed?

By Michel Kilo

Monday, 24 September 2012

Michel Kilo

In the past, minorities in Syria were not oppressed. If we studied the Kurdish example, we would find the Kurds to be founders of the national Syrian state, amongst them those who held the highest governmental positions; from the first Prime Ministry to the first Presidency to the first Army Generals. The Kurds did not endure persecution, indeed many of them were Arabized and in return many Arabs were taken in by Kurdish tribes known as Mawali. They did suffer greatly, however, in the years following 1963, as the regime set in motion a highly vindictive criminal plan known as the “Arabic Belt”, that sought to separate and surround areas which they had long occupied, changing the names of their towns and villages and installing Arabic tribes in their place, turning them into a foreign, hostile body in a land where they had long played a formative role, serving it with loyalty and devotion just like any of its other loyal children. On the other hand, the regime worked to incite the rest of Syria’s factions against them, under the pretext that they were conniving strangers waiting for the opportunity to pounce on the homeland, insisting that they must be harshly repressed as a preventative measure to limit their harm and eliminate their evil.

Just as the militarized Ba’athist regime incited the people against their Kurdish brethren, it also incited all Syrians against one another, carefully implanting doubts amongst them, instilling and fortifying various prejudgments and poisoning their consciousness. It became increasingly easy for the regime to charge citizens with any amount of hostility, playing an important role in shaping their opinions and attitudes towards one another. The regime was unable to win over its citizens after the role it played in the Arab and Syrian defeat during the June Aggression (Six Day War), and therefore did not fulfil any of its promises but in fact achieved their opposite, drawing out a comprehensive strategic game of ‘divide and conquer’ instilled to tear the community apart, hell bent on pitting citizens against one another, exploiting any differences found amongst them or those that the regime was successful in implanting. Such policies had no purpose other than to transform the Syrian society into discordant conflicting factions, unable to agree on any one uniting ideology or common principle other than those ridiculous ones related to the health of the regime’s policies and the ingenuity of its omniscient leader, as well as the inevitability of continued devotion and loyalty to him under any condition or circumstance, on the basis that he was the foundation, the immortal father whom the mortal obsolescent populace owed everything to, including their very existence.

This strategy was the essence of the regime’s internal policy for almost half a century, with the regime fighting to the death to plant it within the consciousness of citizens, using all available methods of control and intimidation, to a point where it became normal for Syrians to see anything that came out of it as normal, leaving no room for any other reality, normalcy or logical thinking. The entrenchment of such policies went as far as to lead many Syrians to believe what the regime had spewed about the immortality of Assad Sr. “our leader forever”, many suffering a palpable trauma after his death, or not even believing that he was a creature capable of dying, continuing to believe in his immortality, especially in certain circles close to him in the republican guard who referred to him as “the holy one”.

When the regime was caught off-guard by the people’s unity during their latest uprising, it found no viable investment to utilize other than the disunity it had sown and the fracture it had instigated, and so the first thing the regime bargained on was sectarianism. It was obvious from day one that the regime had constructed an air-tight plan to awaken dormant differences, and so it sent its security forces to Christian and Alawite villages warning them from their Sunni neighbors and sent to the Sunni villages those who would scare them from their Alawite and Christian neighbors, declaring at each instance its utmost readiness to protect the frightened; a plan aimed at occupying their towns and villages to ensure that those explosive elements were successfully implanted. This is indeed what the regime had done in “Al-Ghab”, for example, as it planted fear in the heart of the Christians of “Al-Sqailabiya” from their Sunni neighbors living in “Qala’at Al-Madeeq”, and vice versa. When a delegation from Al-Sqailabiya went to Qala’at Al-Madeeq to clarify matters, they met on the way a delegation from Qala’at Al-Madeeq heading their way to understand the reasons behind their wish to attack their town. When the reality of the situation became clear to both parties, both returned to their respective towns trying to rid it from the security personnel that had spread there.. In the end, when the regime failed at turning both communities against one another, it dealt brutally with Qala’at Al-Madeeq, many of its citizens finding nowhere else to go other than the homes of their brethren and friends, the Christians of Al-Sqailabiya.

The regime was unsuccessful at inciting sectarian strife amongst Syrians, in spite of all the weapons and lies it had distributed. Lately, as the people’s fear of the future began to subside, a real turning point in their attitude towards the regime occurred and clear stands were taken by Church authorities condemning the violence, demanding its halt and seeking to find a solution to meet the demands of the people. Extremely accurate numbers were published, detailing the size of the participation of Alawites, Christians and Druz in the revolutionary movement, detailing the fair share they received from the regime’s murderous, repressive policies, with some establishing battalions of the Free Syrian Army or joining the resistance, in addition to their role in aiding the people residing inside and outside affected areas. Meanwhile, the Ismaili people of “Al-Salamiyeh” were intensely involved in the uprising from day one, enduring brutal murderous campaigns and constant repression. They had even joined the revolution before Hama, indeed playing an important role in mobilizing the city.

Syrians today know of the scandals and atrocities of the regime’s disruptive and dividing policies, and can feel the importance of their coexistence in leading their demands for freedom to fruition by overthrowing the regime’s factional violence, which had implicated the innocent from different factions and sects in policies that hurt them greatly. Today, however, they have discovered that their situation and relationships before the regime were much better than after, that they were not oppressed before the current regime, and that the sectarian phenomenon was on its way to disappear and disintegrate when it was confronted with the unifying national spirit, while the regime was the one who made sectarianism a corner stone of its power and a weapon used to kill any higher sense of nationalism capable of unifying everyone under its wing without discrimination or divide.

Syria’s history with the regime is nothing more than the history of oppression committed against all its national, religious and ethnic elements, the history of reviving various and low partisanships, which had been declining and melting away. It is not at all wrong to say that the minorities had never known oppression before the regime, and that their oppression will disappear alongside its disappearance, restoring healthy relationships amongst citizens, exemplifying the need to respect personal choices and to legally protect all factions of society, preserving the national fabric and enhancing its unity.

The oppression of minorities will end with the end of a regime that had been hell bent on awakening sectarian strife and implicating Syrians in conflicts they were successfully moving past. Had that not been the case, it would not have been possible for Hafez Al Assad and scores of Alawite youth to move up the army ranks; they would not have been able to participate in the heart of power, eventually usurping it. Minorities and factions will cease to be, because democratic regimes do not believe in the existence of non-political minorities, and they view sectarianism as a sect particular doctrine which falls under the general affiliation to the larger society and country, not replacing it. Only then will the citizen have the right to be from a certain sect without being sectarian and the sun will rise on a new Syrian era, one that knows nothing of discrimination between citizens, where the law will protect the equal rights of Syrians regardless of their personal choices or affiliations, while Syria marches onwards on the path to a united society, one that is secure against discrimination and separatism, as those diversified factions of society will become a never-ending source of national richness. Only then will Syrians know that Assad’s regime never protected them, but instead made them prone to brutal dangers, toying with their lives and interest; that they have no protection outside of freedom, justice and equality.

(The writer is a Syrian writer and human rights activist. The article was published in the London-based Asharq al-Awsat on Sept. 23, 2012)


Fearful Alawites pay militias for protection in Homs

September 26, 2012 01:18 AM
An activist takes photos of damage in the old city of Homs September 23, 2012. Picture taken September 23, 2012. REUTERS/Shaam News Network/Handout
An activist takes photos of damage in the old city of Homs September 23, 2012. Picture taken September 23, 2012. REUTERS/Shaam News Network/Handout
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HOMS, Syria: Pro-regime militias in Syria’s most shell-shocked city used to offer fellow minority Alawites protection out of solidarity. Now, security comes at a price: About $300 a month. Alawite residents in Homs say they are being coerced into helping fund the war effort of the shabbiha, brutal militias supporting President Bashar Assad’s crackdown on an 18-month-old rebellion.

“The shabbiha exploit our fear. Every time, there is some excuse – they need food or ammunition. But it’s basically a silent understanding now that each month the wealthier families pay,” says Farid, a graying surgeon who lives with his family in Zahra, an Alawite district of Homs.

The cost of war is rising at the site of the longest-running battle between Assad’s forces and the rebels. Farid fears his children could be kidnapped for ransom if he doesn’t pay the pro-Assad militiamen what they call “protection money.”

The militias are formed mostly from members of Assad’s own Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. They have been the fiercest enforcers of a bloody crackdown on the uprising led by Syria’s majority Sunni Muslims, even accused of massacres.

The disgust some Alawites have at the idea of paying for them symbolizes a greater inner conflict many in their sect are struggling with: Do they risk rejecting the crackdown by their Alawite-led government and its brutal militias? Or do they buy in, literally, to the pro-regime argument that this is a fight for existence against Sunnis determined to take revenge?

“I’m not comfortable with it, it seems wrong. But I have no choice,” says Said, 40, a balding engineer in a slick black suit. “If I didn’t pay, I could be at risk. These guys are dangerous.”

After months of fighting, only the pro-regime militia-guarded Alawite enclaves like Zahra are relatively unscathed. Zahra has swelled to nearly 200,000 Alawites in recent months.

The neighborhoods belonging to Homs’ large Sunni population have become graveyards of bombed buildings and shattered streets. Very few families remain.

With jobs and money drying up due to the unrest, the $300 fee is no small sum. But Alawites in Zahra say that while they know the money they pay is extortion, and that loyalists’ violence toward Sunnis puts them more at risk, they are regularly reminded of how precarious their fate is.

As the sound of crashing mortars in the distance shakes the silverware on his dining room table, Farid stops his rant against Assad’s loyalists and sighs.

“Some days, I think we really do need them to protect us,” the elderly doctor says, surveying his four children silently eating their meal.

The fight for Homs has fallen off the front pages as battles erupt in Syria’s bigger cities, Damascus and Aleppo, but it has not eased. Gunfire perpetually rings in the background. Buildings are collapsing in the daily hail of mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.

Pro-Assad gangs used to rake in money by looting rebellious Sunni districts in Homs after the army raided them. But now that source of cash has run dry. Asking for “protection money” may be a way to make up for that.

The groups have become well organized in Homs. They have divided Zahra into six regions, each with a local “boss.”

In each area, the boss sends young men with shaved heads and camouflage pants to monitor, strutting about with their rifles in hand. The army stays out, only manning road blocks on the outskirts of the district.

“There is no state presence in Zahra any more, even though it is surrounded by Sunni areas. Yet it is the safest place in Syria,” says Said, reluctantly giving the militiamen their due.

One improvement residents say their donations funded is the building of two 20-meter high blast walls towering over Zahra’s main square. The street had once been within easy range of rebel gunmen atop buildings in neighboring districts.

“This used to be the deadliest spot in Zahra,” says Manhal, the surgeon Farid’s son, as he walks behind the two massive white-washed walls.

Instead of seeing residents scurrying below, all gunmen nearby can see now is a giant poster that pro-Assad militiamen plastered over the wall: A portrait of former President Hafez Assad, Bashar’s father, who ruled for nearly 30 years until his death.

Not far from Farid’s family home, Wael “the accountant” combs a thick glob of hair cream into his dark hair and gets on his motorbike to make the monthly rounds for his boss. “In my area we have 15 families. I get the money for the boss whenever there is a need: weapons, gas, car repairs, food for our boys,” says the 25-year-old tough.

Wael doesn’t think what he does is exploitative. He sees it as a service that residents need to pay to maintain. Unhappy residents can leave Homs if they want, he argues. “We even arrange convoys to help them get out – that costs 10,000 lira ($120).”

There is no end in sight to the war in Syria. International powers are too deadlocked to negotiate. Fighters show no interest in laying down their arms. Meanwhile, groups like the Alawites feel more vulnerable, and the pro-Assad gangs have taken advantage.

Umm Hani, a mother of two in Zahra, noticed the trend after a stunning bomb attack in July that killed four top security officials in Damascus.

“After that, the regime was shaken. And the shabbiha started to take more power, they started to demand more money. Without saying a word, they made their message clear: We are the ones responsible for you. Pay up.”

There are deep wrinkles around Umm Hani’s blue eyes after months of anxiety. Alawites like her feel trapped. She doesn’t have enough savings to leave Syria. She feels she would be unsafe in the mostly Sunni refugee camps on the borders. Paying is the only choice. “Where can we go? Who would accept us? So we stay, and we deal with our new little pharaohs.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 26, 2012, on page 8.
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(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Woman defaces ‘anti-jihad’ ad in Times Square station

  • Last Updated: 10:28 PM, September 25, 2012
  • Posted: 7:13 PM, September 25, 2012

Cops busted a lone protester — angry with subway ads equating enemies of Israel as “savages” — as she spray-painted over one of the controversial signs today.

A Post camera crew captured the bizarre conflict between suspect Mona Eltahawy, 45, and a woman defending the ads.

see videos here

“Mona, do you think you have the right to do this?” said Pamela Hall, holding a mounted camera as she tried to block the barrage of spray paint.

“I do actually,” Eltahawy calmly responded. “I think this is freedom of expression, just as this is freedom of expression.”

Hall then thrusts herself between Eltahawy’s spray paint and the poster.

Eltahawy — an activist who has appeared on MSNBC and CNN — engaged her in an odd cat-and-mouse dance, spraying pink every time she had an opening.

“What right do you have to violate free speech,” Hall pleaded.

“I’m not violating it. I’m making an expression on free speech,” an increasingly agitated Eltahawy shot back.

“You do not have the right!” Hall said.

see videos here

“I do actually and I’m doing it right now and you should get out of the way! Do you want paint on yourself,” Eltahawy shot ack

As the poster defender bobbed and weaved to get in the paint’s way, Eltahawy mocked: “That’s right, defend racism.”

Finally an MTA police officer and an NYPD cop came to scene and arrested Eltahawy.

“This is non-violent protest, see this America!” she said as cops cuffed her. “I’m an Egyptian-American and I refuse hate.”

The MTA was forced to install the controversial ad campaign by court order.

The 46- by 30-inch ads are plastered in 10 Manhattan stations, including busy Grand Central and Times Square Stations.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative, a pro-Israel group spearheaded by activist Pamela Geller, paid $6,000 for the ad space.

Syria : if sensitive abstain

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