Category Archives: Terrorism

As Trump Ramps Up War on Terror, US Bombings Kill 170+ Civilians This Week

If Syria and Iraq are the model of “success,” Trump’s war expansion should terrify Afghan civilians

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-22-2017

Reports indicate that in the past week, at least 170 civilians—including dozens of women and children—have been killed by the U.S.-led airwar in Raqqa, a Syrian city controlled by the Islamic State (ISIS). (Photo: @Raqqa_SL/Twitter)

As President Donald Trump expands the war in Afghanistan, which Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday is partly inspired by “successful” tactics used in the war against the Islamic State (ISIS), Reuters reports that in the past week alone, more than 170 civilians were killed by U.S.-led airstrikes in Raqqa, a Syrian city ISIS considers its capitol.

“The monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 42 people, including 19 children and 12 women, were killed on Monday in strikes that destroyed buildings where families were sheltering,” Reuters reports. The observatory claims this marks the single largest daily death toll since the U.S.-backed Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition of Kurdish and Arab militias, began their mission to capture Raqqa in June. Continue reading

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In Support of Eight Arrested for Toppling Durham Statue, Hundreds Turn Themselves In

“The people will continue to keep making the right choices until every Confederate statue is gone, until white supremacy is gone.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-17-2017

In an act of civil disobedience and solidarity, more than 200 citizens offered to turn themselves in for toppling a Confederate monument in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo: @pharris830/Twitter)

More than 200 Durham, North Carolina residents stood outside a jail on Thursday, attempting to turn themselves in for the removal of the city’s Confederate Soldiers Monument—to protest the arrests of eight people who have been accused of dismantling the monument. The group chanted, “Thank you, we love you,” in support of those who were arrested. Continue reading

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The People will only take so much – and we have reached that point

Written by Carol Benedict

White supremacists beating Deandre Harris in a Charlottesville parking ramp. Photo: Zach Roberts/Nation of Change

Across this country, we are witnessing the general population respond to the Charlottesville tragedy. Never since the Civil War have we seen such a divisive point. Even the Viet Nam era protests were more civilized than this, notwithstanding the killings at Kent State that to this day have never been served justice.

But what we are not talking about is scarier and even more detrimental to our way of life and what it says about Americans overall. What we are witnessing is the degeneration of a once proud society, now brought to its knees by what would have been considered just one year ago as preposterous and impossible.

In 1945, at the end of WWII, the world recoiled when the death of Benito Mussolini was reported in April. By 1956, civilization took to tearing down of the statues of dictators and rulers who were later judged to be on the wrong side of humanity, beginning with Stalin’s statue in Budapest. Saddam Hussein’s statue met the same fate in 2003 in the town of Firdos, Iraq. It followed with similar actions in other countries; Iran, Egypt, Ukraine and Poland, to name a few.

When Hussein’s statue was pulled down to a screaming throng of angry citizenry, many Americans looked on in horror, grateful nothing like THAT could ever happen in America. We were, after all, a nation of law and order, respect and civilized discourse.

In 2008, the world congratulated America for finally elevating itself to a seemingly post-racial society. Since that time, we have seen eight years of political obstruction referred to as “governance” in Washington DC, championed by Mitch McConnell , who proudly stated that the number one goal for the GOP was to obstruct any policy put forth by the Obama Administration.

In 2016, America responded to that recognition by our international friends and allies through electing a recognized businessman and self-elevated media celebrity with absolutely no political prowess or experience, to lead a country as if it were a corporate enterprise and all that matters is the bottom line profit margin at the end of the day. Along the way, he has collected the most incompetent cabinet that represents what Americans refer to as “the good ole’ boys” of white Caucasian men making the decisions for all of the country.

We now must ask ourselves, “What have we become? What will we accept as a society? Where do we turn when our own President praises the actions of racist bigots while promoting divisiveness through despicable stances on the first amendment protections for freedom of religion and freedom of the press?”

When it takes a ground-swelling effort from the veterans of this nation to protect the family of the victim killed in Charlottesville, we have said we will not take this any more.

Perhaps what we really need to say is, “The People will only take so much, and we have reached that point.”

About the Author:
Carol Benedict is an indépendent researcher and human rights activist. She is also an independent Journalist and a professional member of the US Press Association.

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Police Stood By As Mayhem Mounted in Charlottesville

by A.C. Thompson and Robert Faturechi, ProPublica, and Karim Hajj, special to ProPublica, Aug. 12, 2017, 11 p.m.

Photo: Billy Baldwin/Twitter

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – There was nothing haphazard about the violence that erupted today in this bucolic town in Virginia’s heartland. At about 10 a.m. today, at one of countless such confrontations, an angry mob of white supremacists formed a battle line across from a group of counter-protesters, many of them older and gray-haired, who had gathered near a church parking lot. On command from their leader, the young men charged and pummeled their ideological foes with abandon. One woman was hurled to the pavement, and the blood from her bruised head was instantly visible.

Standing nearby, an assortment of Virginia State Police troopers and Charlottesville police wearing protective gear watched silently from behind an array of metal barricades – and did nothing.

It was a scene that played out over and over in Charlottesville as law enforcement confronted the largest public gathering of white supremacists in decades. We walked the streets beginning in the early morning hours and repeatedly witnessed instances in which authorities took a largely laissez faire approach, allowing white supremacists and counter-protesters to physically battle.

Officials in Charlottesville had publicly promised to maintain control of the “Unite the Right” rally, which is the latest in a series of chaotic and bloody racist rallies that have roiled this college town, a place deeply proud of its links to Thomas Jefferson and the origins of American Democracy.

But the white supremacists who flooded into the city’s Emancipation Park – a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee sits in the center of the park – had spent months openly planning for war. The Daily Stormer, a popular neo-Nazi website, encouraged rally attendees to bring shields, pepper spray, and fascist flags and flagpoles. A prominent racist podcast told its listeners to come carrying guns. “Bring whatever you need, that you feel you need for your self defense. Do what you need to do for security of your own person,” said Mike “Enoch” Peinovich on The Right Stuff podcast.

And the white supremacists who showed up in Charlottesville did indeed come prepared for violence. Many wore helmets and carried clubs, medieval-looking round wooden shields, and rectangular plexiglass shields, similar to those used by riot police.

Clad in a black, Nazi-style helmet, Matthew Heimbach told ProPublica, “We’re defending our heritage.” Heimbach, who heads the Traditionalist Workers Party, a self-declared fascist group, said he was willing to die for his cause and would do whatever it took to defend himself. He was surrounded by a brigade of white supremacists, including members of the League of the South and the National Socialist Movement.

By the time Heimbach and his contingent arrived in downtown Charlottesville shortly before 11 a.m., what had started hours earlier with some shoving and a few punches had evolved into a series of wild melees as people attacked one another with fists, feet, and the improvised weapons they’d brought with them to the park. White supremacists and anti-racists began blasting each other with thick orange streams of pepper spray.

The police did little to stop the bloodshed. Several times, a group of assault-rifle-toting militia members from New York State, wearing body armor and desert camo, played a more active role in breaking up fights.

Shortly before noon, authorities shut down the rally and the related demonstrations and marched the white supremacists out of the park and into the streets.

Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy defended the police tactics. “I’m not in the business of throwing our police department under the bus, because they’re doing the best job they can, ” said Bellamy. “I don’t think the police officers were just twiddling their thumbs.”

The skirmishes culminated in what appears to have been an act of domestic terrorism, with a driver ramming his car into a crowd of anti-racist activists on a busy downtown street, killing one and injuring 19 according to the latest information from city officials. Charlottesville authorities tonight reported that a 20-year-old Ohio man had been arrested and had been charged with murder.

Two state police officers also died in a helicopter crash.

At a brief press conference this evening, Virginia officials declined to answer questions about the police response, but said they were not taken surprise by the violence or the number of protesters. “This could have been a much worse day,” said Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, “We planned for a long time for today’s incidents.”

Charlottesville police Chief Al Thomas said at least 35 people had been injured – many of them from violent encounters between white supremacists and the counter-protesters. He said nobody had been wounded due to confrontations between police and the public.

In the weeks leading up to the protest, city and state officials put together a detailed plan for the rally, mobilizing 1,000 first responders, including 300 state police troopers and members of the National Guard. Judging from how events unfolded today, it appears that the strategy was to avoid direct confrontations with the protesters.

Miriam Krinsky, a former federal prosecutor who has worked on police reform efforts in Los Angeles, said it was too early to assess the law enforcement response in Charlottesville.

But she said a strategy of disengagement generally works to embolden unruly crowds.

“If things start to escalate and there’s no response, it can very quickly get out of control,” she said. “Individuals can and will get hurt.”

But an overly forceful response, she said, can also make the situation worse. Krinsky said attempts to seize weapons might have led to more clashes between police and protesters. “Trying to take things away from people is unlikely to be a calming influence,” she told ProPublica.

A good strategy, she said, is to make clashes less likely by separating the two sides physically, with officers forming a barrier between them. “Create a human barrier so the flash points are reduced as quickly as possible,” she said.

A.C. Thompson and Karim Hajj reported from Charlottesville, Va. Robert Faturechi reported from New York.

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.

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Blackwater Founder’s ‘Disturbing’ Plan to Privatize Afghan War Gains Ground

“There’s a bad record of contractors and human rights abuses.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. published 8-8-2017

Despite the fact that private contractors have a long record of abuse and deadly criminality, Prince believes that they should have a stronger presence in Afghanistan. (Photo: Melissa Golden/Redux)

As President Donald Trump vents his frustration with the United States’ “losing” strategy in Afghanistan, the “notorious mercenary” and Blackwater founder Erik Prince has seized the moment to offer his favored alternative: privatize the war.

According to a report by Katrina Manson of the Financial Times on Monday, Prince has drafted a proposal—dated August 2017—that would hand the longest war in American history over to a private “band of experienced sergeants,” who would fight alongside U.S.-trained Afghan forces.

Prince, Manson writes, “proposes a two-year plan for fewer than 5,000 global guns for hire and under 100 aircraft, bringing the total cost of the U.S. effort to turn round a failing war to less than $10 billion a year.” Continue reading

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As White House Ramps Up Attacks on Free Press, NRA Issues Warning to New York Times

Conservative commentator tells newspaper, “We’re coming for you”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-6-2017

The NRA’s attack on the New York Times in a video that’s gone viral is the latest conservative threat to the press. (Photo: Twitter/screenshot)

The National Rifle Association (NRA) drew attention this weekend after its newest ad went viral.

The New York Times was the focus of the video, which was released weeks after an ad that showed images of protesters and left-leaning cities including New York and Chicago, as the narrator warned viewers against liberal indoctrination by public school system, the news media, and other institutions.

Both videos have featured conservative talk radio hots Dana Loesch. In the most recent video, Loesch wages an attack on the Times, implying that the paper’s reporting does not reflect the views of most Americans. Continue reading

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Court Throws Out Blackwater Guards’ Sentences for 2007 Baghdad Massacre

Three former mercenaries who killed and injured 31 unarmed Iraqis in Nisour Square will be resentenced, and a fourth may be retried

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-4-2017

A federal appeals court on Friday threw out lengthy prison sentences of three former operatives for private mercenary firm Blackwater Worldwide—and ordered a retrial for a fourth operative who had received a life sentence—for their roles in the notorious 2007 Nisour Square massacre in Baghdad, which left 14 unarmed Iraqis dead and another 17 wounded.

“The men, Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, Paul Slough, and Nicholas Slatten, were convicted in October 2014 after years of legal battles,” Common Dreams reported in 2015, when U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth sentenced Slatten—who the government says fired the first shots—to life in prison and the other three men to “30 years and one day each on charges that included manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and using firearms while committing a felony.” Continue reading

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ISIL’s ‘genocide’ against Yazidis is ongoing, UN rights panel says, calling for international action

By UN News Service. Published 8-3-2017

Kurdish women and their supporters held a vigil outside UK parliament today to mark the 3rd anniversary of ISIS genocidal attack on the Ezidis of Sinjar. Photo: Mark Campbell/Facebook

Marking three years since the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) attacked the Yazidis in Syria, a United Nations-mandated inquiry has called for justice and rescue plans.

“The Commission of Inquiry calls on the international community to recognize the crime of genocide being committed by ISIL against the Yazidis and to undertake steps to refer the situation to justice,” said the expert panel in a statement marking the third anniversary of ISIL’s attack on the Yazidis. Continue reading

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Amid the Blaring Headlines, Routine Reports of Hate-Fueled Violence

by Joe Sexton ProPublica, July 25, 2017, 3 p.m.

In just the ten days following the 2016 election, there were 867 hate incidents reported in the US. Graphic: SPLC

Last Wednesday, July 19, was something of a busy news day. There was word North Korea was making preparations for yet another provocative missile test. The Supreme Court, in its latest ruling in the controversial travel ban case, said that people from the six largely Muslim countries covered by the immigration enforcement action could enter the U.S. if they had a grandparent here, refusing to overturn a ruling that grandparents qualified as “bona fide relatives.” And then, late in the day, President Donald Trump gave a remarkable interview to The New York Times, one that, among other things, laid into Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The day also produced its share of what, sadly, has come to qualify as routine news: A Muslim organization in Sacramento, California, received a package in the mail that included a Koran in a tub of lard; police in Boise, Idaho, identified a teenage boy as the person likely responsible for scratching racist words on a car; in Lansing, Michigan, police launched a search for a suspect in the case of an assault against a Hispanic man. The victim had been found with a note indicating his attacker had been motivated by racial animus. Continue reading

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Colonialism and Greed: Trump Considers Afghan War Expansion to Exploit Minerals

Trump is reportedly being encouraged by corporate executives to take advantage of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-26-2017

Trump appears committed to the belief that mineral extraction “could be one justification for the United States to stay engaged in” Afghanistan, the New York Times reported. (Photo: DVIDSHUB/Flickr/cc)

As the 16th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan approaches, President Donald Trump is reportedly being pressured by a billionaire financier and a chemical executive to extend the scope of the conflict for one simple, greedy reason: to exploit Afghanistan’s mineral reserves.

According to James Risen and Mark Landler of the New York Times, the Trump administration is “considering sending an envoy to Afghanistan to meet with mining officials” as the president is receiving encouragement from Stephen Feinberg, the billionaire head of DynCorp, and Michael Silver, the head of American Elements, a firm that specializes in “extracting rare-earth minerals.” Continue reading

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