Ya’aburnee Arabic – Both morbid and beautiful at once, this incantatory word means “You bury me,” a declaration of one’s hope that they’ll die before another person because of how difficult it would be to live without them.
Justifiable homicide in the city shot up 79 percent in 2011 from the previous year, as citizens in the long-suffering city armed themselves and took matters into their own hands. The local rate of self-defense killings now stands 2,200 percent above the national average. Residents, unable to rely on a dwindling police force to keep them safe, are fighting back against the criminal scourge on their own. And they’re offering no apologies.
“We got to have a little Old West up here in Detroit. That’s what it’s gonna take,” Detroit resident Julia Brown told The Daily.
The last time Brown, 73, called the Detroit police, they didn’t show up until the next day. So she applied for a permit to carry a handgun and says she’s prepared to use it against the young thugs who have taken over her neighborhood, burglarizing entire blocks, opening fire at will and terrorizing the elderly with impunity.
“I don’t intend to be one of their victims,” said Brown, who has lived in Detroit since the late 1950s. “I’m planning on taking one out.”
How it got this bad in Detroit has become a point of national discussion. Violent crime settled into the city’s bones decades ago, but recently, as the numbers of police officers have plummeted and police response times have remained distressingly high, citizens have taken to dealing with things themselves.
Right now, unmanned drone aircraft can only fly over parts of military bases and along the US borders. However by 2015, the FAA will open up all US airspace to unmanned aircraft for military, law enforcement and civilian use. This is obviously good news to local law enforcement, bad news if you’re already paranoid about being spied on by The Man.
“One of the most horrible features of war is that all the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.”—George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia, Ch. V (via theyoungradical)
Charlotte McDonald-Gibson in Damascus talks to an activist who survived 21 weeks’ interrogation by Syria’s security forces.
It was a single egg that made Jolan, a 28-year-old activist, realise he was going to survive Syria’s notorious torture chambers. He was blindfolded and locked in what he describes as a metal coffin, and each morning his tormentors would push a small piece of bread and a hard-boiled egg through a narrow opening by his head. But his cramped box – so short he could not straighten his legs – was tilted and his hands were bound, so for five days the egg would simply roll away and drop to the floor through a hole by his feet.
Days earlier, Jolan had been sitting in a park in Damascus on a sunny morning, waiting for a friend from the burgeoning protest movement aimed at forcing President Bashar al-Assad from power. Instead, about 30 regime security personnel surrounded him. Before he could even think about fleeing, a rifle butt to the back of the head knocked him out cold.
Trussed and forced to relieve himself where he lay, Jolan did not know how long he would be there. He did not know how he could survive. But he knew that somehow he must eat the egg. “So the fifth day,” he says, “I put my heel in this hole and I stopped the egg rolling out. I managed to push the egg all the way up my body to my mouth. It was filthy, it still had the shell on it, but I ate it and, when I did, I knew I was going to live.”
Jolan, who gave a pseudonym because he remains active in Syria’s protest movement, is one of thousands of political prisoners who human rights groups say have been thrown in jail by a regime determined to use its full force to crush the biggest threat to its rule since the Assad family took power 41 years ago.
From a secret location in Damascus, Jolan gave a detailed testimony to The Independent on Sunday of his torture during 21 weeks in detention. Although his full account is impossible to corroborate independently, Human Rights Watch, the international watchdog, confirmed that many of the torture techniques he described are commonplace. Many Syrian rights groups have also documented Jolan’s time in detention.
The regime has denied the allegations of torture in its prisons. Its spokesmen say they are fighting an armed uprising sponsored by Islamist groups. But Human Rights Watch has interviewed more than 100 people detained since the protests began in March last year, and the group has collected harrowing testimony of torture against children as young as 13 and of deaths in custody.
For Jolan, his seven days in the metal box was the first of dozens of humiliations and torments. Next, still blindfolded, he was put in a tiny room just one metre high, where he was forced to stand, bent double, for another seven days. Then his captors finally started to interrogate him.
“For eight hours a day they asked me everything about co-ordination, about the people of the revolution. They wanted to know how they worked, how they take the injured from place to place,” he says.
Jolan refused to talk, causing the torment to become even more cruel. He was given 50 lashes with a metal cable in the morning and 50 in the evening. He was then subjected to what Nadim Houry of Human Rights Watch describes as the “dulab” method. A tyre is forced over the victim’s neck and his legs so he is folded forward. He is then tipped on his back, immobile, and beaten. Another day, Jolan says, he was suspended from the ceiling by a cable. On his 45th day in detention, they finally took the blindfold off. But Jolan was not prepared for the sight that greeted him. “When I opened my eyes, I could see two girls who were taken from the demonstrations. They were religious girls – usually they would wear the veil – but they were totally naked: the only item they were wearing was a blindfold,” he says. “From this moment, I started crying.”
With this image etched on his mind, he was taken back to the interrogation room and told that unless he talked, his mother and sister would be hauled in, also stripped naked and tortured in front of him. The UN report details similar “psychological torture, including sexual threats against them and their families”.
But still Jolan refused to talk. Exasperated, his captors transferred him to the Adra civilian prison in Damascus, where he was kept in filthy, cramped surroundings. Over the next few months he was called before a court to answer a litany of charges, including attacking the standing of the state, encouraging problems with minorities, going to a protest without a permit, and setting up an unlicensed field hospital. He was allowed a lawyer, but says his statements were ignored in the court. Jolan says he was saved only by pressure from some international human rights organisations. Eventually, towards the end of December, he was freed with a 1,000 Syrian pound (£11) fine.
Since then, he has continued his work, moving around by night to safe houses to collect supplies, trying to gather more crowds for the weekly demonstrations after Friday prayers. There are physical signs of his time behind bars – he is gaunt, and is missing four front teeth from the beatings. He chain smokes nervously. But he is determined to fight on. Fifteen days ago, the authorities told his uncle that Jolan must stop his activism or face “a bullet in the head”. So he switched mobile phone numbers and went underground for 10 days.
Mr Houry says: “Syria’s torture chambers belong to the Middle Ages. The security forces believe that by torturing people, including children, they will reinstate the wall of fear in Syria. But these torturers should know that their methods have only served to energise the protesters and that it is only a matter of time until they face accountability.”
Syrians flee to Jordan as violence escalates
Syrian refugees fleeing to Jordan have described a dramatic escalation in violence and a mounting toll of dead and wounded in the southern city of Daraa and the country’s battered central region. Activists said 26 civilians were killed on Friday, many of them in the central city of Homs.
The fighting in Homs, coupled with fresh violence in Daraa, has triggered a new wave of wounded refugees crossing into Jordan. In the past two days, 170 families – around 850 people – have fled to Ramtha, seven miles from the border. Most were from Daraa. At the hospital in Ramtha, newly installed gates protect hospital rooms where wounded Syrians are being treated, guarded by Jordanian security police.
Syria has seen one of the bloodiest crackdowns since the wave of Arab uprisings began more than a year ago. The United Nations says that more than 5,400 people were killed last year, and the number of dead and injured continues to rise daily. In addition, 25,000 people are estimated to have sought refuge in neighbouring countries and more than 70,000 are internally displaced.
David Cameron has said Britain is sending food rations for 20,000 people and medical supplies for those affected by fighting in Homs and elsewhere. AP
A policy brief recently issued by the National Poverty Center (NPC) reveals that the number of households in the US living on less than $2 a day per person has increased by 130 percent since 1996, from 636,000 to some 1.46 million today.
This means that some 4 million people in “the richest country on earth” (according to US capitalism’s apologists) are surviving on less than $60 a month each, i.e., essentially on no income whatsoever.
Government offers humanitarian aid and security assistance in the hope of a stake in country’s future energy industry.
Britain is involved in a secret high-stakes dash for oil in Somalia, with the government offering humanitarian aid and security assistance in the hope of a stake in the beleaguered country’s future energy industry.
Riven by two decades of conflict that have seen the emergence of a dangerous Islamic insurgency, Somalia is routinely described as the world’s most comprehensively “failed” state, as well as one of its poorest. Its coastline has become a haven for pirates preying on international shipping in the Indian Ocean.
David Cameron last week hosted an international conference on Somalia, pledging more aid, financial help and measures to tackle terrorism. The summit followed a surprise visit by the foreign secretary, William Hague, to Mogadishu, the Somali capital, where he talked about “the beginnings of an opportunity” to rebuild the country.
The Observer can reveal that, away from the public focus of last week’s summit, talks are going on between British officials and Somali counterparts over exploiting oil reserves that have been explored in the arid north-eastern region of the country. Abdulkadir Abdi Hashi, minister for international cooperation in Puntland, north-east Somalia – where the first oil is expected to be extracted next month – said: “We have spoken to a number of UK officials, some have offered to help us with the future management of oil revenues. They will help us build our capacity to maximise future earnings from the oil industry.”
British involvement in the future Somali oil industry would be a boon for the UK economy and comes at a time when the world is increasingly concerned about the actions of Iran, the second-biggest oil producer in Opec.
Hashi, in charge of brokering deals for the region’s oil reserves, also said Somalia was looking to BP as the partner they wanted to “help us explore and build our oil capacity”. He added: “We need those with the necessary technical knowhow, we plan to talk to BP at the right time.”
Somali prime minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali said his government had little choice but to entice western companies to Somalia by offering a slice of the country’s natural resources, which include oil, gas and large reserves of uranium. “The only way we can pay [western companies] is to pay them in kind, we can pay with natural resources at the fair market value.”
Britain is not the only country looking to develop Somalia’s vast natural resources. Last month oil exploration began in Puntland by the Canadian company Africa Oil, the first drilling in Somalia for 21 years. Hashi, who sealed the Africa Oil deal, said the first oil was expected to be extracted within the next “20 to 30 days”.
The company estimates there could be up to 4bn barrels (about $500bn worth at today’s prices) in its two drilling plots. Other surveys indicate that Puntland province alone has the potential to yield 10bn barrels, placing it among the top 20 countries holding oil. Chinese and US firms are among those understood to have also voiced interest about the potential for oil now that, for the first time in 20 years, the country is safe enough to drill.
Yet it is the extent of oil deposits beneath the Indian Ocean that is most exciting Somali officials. One said the potential was comparable to that of Kuwait, which has more than 100bn barrels of proven oil reserves. If true, the deposits would eclipse Nigeria’s reserves – 37.2bn barrels – and make Somalia the seventh largest oil-rich nation.
The state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation has tried to acquire an interest in Somalia’s reserves. Senior officials from the Somali transitional government are adamant that the imminent extraction of oil in Puntland next month would kickstart a scramble from the multinationals.
On Thursday, the last day of the London conference, BP and Shell unveiled an initiative to support job-creation projects in the coastal regions of Somalia. A subsidiary of Shell was thought to have acquired exploration concessions in Puntland before the descent into lawlessness in 1991.
A BP spokesman said there were “no plans” to work in Somalia and no official had recently visited the country.
Fuckers. The country’s war torn and starving and all these fuckers will ever care about is how fast they can rape it.
a lot of the language in this is disturbing to say the least. “The only way we can pay [western companies] is to pay them in kind, we can pay with natural resources at the fair market value.” ~ paying as in paying back, paying back debts we saddled them with while offering nothing for them..
Former President Jimmy Carter said on Wednesday that Occupy organizers have created a “relatively successful” movement because they focused national discussion on wealth disparity despite lacking leadership and a unifying set of goals. The Georgia Democrat said at an event in Atlanta that Occupy organizers have succeeded in forcing the media and Congress to realize the “chasm is getting greater than leaps and bounds” between the rich and the poor.
A new bill that is being brought to parliament this week could allow police to read your emails, monitor your online activity and keep track of your movements via your cell phone.
Privacy advocates say that is the new Canadian reality if Bill C-51 is passed.
University student Jared Exner grew up in an Internet age and knows why police might want unfettered access to everyone’s online activities, but he still doesn’t think it’s right.
“I know the criminal justice system is constantly looking for information about criminals, child pornographers etc, but at the same time it seems like an invasion of everyone’s personal information,” said Exner.
If passed as is, Bill C-51 would require Internet service providers to keep logs of their client’s activity and turn them over to police without a warrant.
Computer security expert Tom Keenan maintains police already have the power they need they just aren’t using it.
“Why aren’t they doing that? it would be a heck of a lot easier to get the ISP to do it for them,” said Keenan.
The bill would also allow police to monitor cell phones and track your every move.
The bill won’t be introduced until later this week but already it is being called down in parliament.
“How can we trust them not to use private information to intimidate law abiding Canadians to protest a pipeline, or protest pension cuts,” said Francis Scarpaleggia, Liberal MP for Lac-Saint-Loius.