Thursday, October 19, 2017
Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews.
Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show.
They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President ’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.
The racketeering scheme was conducted “with the consent of higher level officials” in Russia who “shared the proceeds” from the kickbacks, one agent declared in an affidavit years later...
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
On Monday of this week, what had been feared transpired: Paramilitary units supported by elements of the Iraqi army attacked in the vicinity of Kirkuk.
Baghdad’s putatively federal army put into action the threats of the country’s leaders and, at the risk of ruining any chance of future coexistence with the Kurds, responded to the peaceful referendum of Sept. 25 with a dumbfounding and vengeful act of force.
Not long ago, it was Saddam Hussein operating with gas and deportations. And then on Monday Saddam’s Shiite successors, answering to Tehran, sent tanks, artillery, and Katyusha rockets into the oil fields that are the lifeblood of Kurdistan. Today they are doing the same in the Sinjar mountains, in the southern city of Jalawla, and in the Bashiqa area on the Plain of Nineveh, which the Kurds only just reclaimed from ISIS.
Of course, this disaster would not have occurred had the Kurds not been tragically divided. We know today that Baghdad’s quick victory is largely due to what President Masoud Barzani, in a statement released Oct. 17, called the “treason” of several commanders loyal to the PUK, the party founded by Barzani’s old rival, former President Talabani. The Iraqi-Iranian coalition was able to take advantage of these dissensions, using the commanders close to Talabani as Trojan horses to gain entry to Kirkuk and other targets. Be that as it may, the main issue—and the real scandal—lies in the fact that the central government of the pseudo-state of Iraq, whose sovereignty consists of little more than vague and hollow rhetoric, have used force to crush the country’s Kurdish citizens.
And now, scandal mounts around the fact that Kurdistan’s “friends,” the countries that for two years running relied on it to keep the Islamic State at bay and then to defeat it, the people who swore by the Peshmerga, by its heroes and by its dead, have, as I write these lines, responded with nothing more than deafening silence, appearing willing to abandon to their fate the men and women who fought so valiantly for them...
...Boyle’s description of himself as a “pilgrim” was missed by many journalists, who apparently don’t know most Muslim places of pilgrimage are in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran and India. And not in the valleys of Wardaq where Boyle says he went with a sense of mission — to help people, "to fix things”, as he told the CBC’s Susan Ormiston.
When Armiston gently asked Boyle why he wanted to go to Afghanistan with a pregnant wife, he portrayed his decision not as an error of judgment, but as an act of sacrifice, to do “things that nobody else is doing, so I think I have to do it.”
What things? He didn’t elaborate.
The fact Afghanistan’s Wardaq province has been a Taliban- dominated area from the time the jihadis came to power seems to have had no bearing on Boyle’s and Coleman’s decision to move there.
Coleman, at least in the media, has demonstrated a characteristic we would expect of a Muslim woman living under Taliban rule. She has let her husband do the talking for her, although she did change out of her black burqa into a stylized Egyptian hijab...
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
When Laura Moriarty decided she wanted to write a dystopian novel about a future America in which Muslims are forcefully corralled into detention centers, she was aware that she should tread carefully. Her protagonist is a white teenager, but one of her main characters, Sadaf, is a Muslim American immigrant from Iran, so Moriarty began by diving into Iranian books and films. Moriarty explained via email that she asked two Iranian immigrant friends to read an early draft and see if Sadaf seemed authentic to them, and whether the language and accent fit with their memories and experiences. A friend of Pakistani and American descent who is a practicing Muslim gave additional feedback. Moriarty asked a senior colleague at the University of Kansas, Giselle Anatol, who writes about Young Adult fiction and has been critical of racist narratives in literature, to read the book with a particular eye toward avoiding another narrative about a “white savior.” And after American Heart was purchased by Harper, the publisher provided several formal “sensitivity reads,” in which a member of a minority group is charged with spotting potentially problematic depictions in a manuscript.
None of this, as it turns out, was enough to protect American Heart from becoming the subject of the latest skirmish in the increasingly contentious battle over representation and diversity in the world of YA literature. American Heart won’t be published until January, but it has already attracted the ire of the fierce group of online YA readers that journalist Kat Rosenfield has referred to as “culture cops.” To them, it was an irredeemable problem that Moriarty’s novel, which was inspired in part by Huckleberry Finn, centers on a white teenager who gradually—too gradually—comes to terms with the racism around her. On Goodreads, the book’s top “community review,” posted in September, begins, “fuck your white savior narratives”; other early commenters on Goodreads accused Moriarty of “profiting off people’s pain” and said “a white writer should not have tackled this story, and neither should a white character be the center of it.”...
Sunday, October 15, 2017
Apple’s VP of inclusion and diversity, Denise Young Smith, made an appearance this week at the One Young World Summit in Colombia and caught fire for some of the statements she made. According to TechCrunch, however, the Apple executive has apologized to employees for her choice of words…
At the event this week, Smith was explaining how Apple focuses on diversity and commented that there could be 12 white blue-eyed blonde men in a room who are still diverse:
“Diversity is the human experience,” the Apple executive said. “I get a little bit frustrated when diversity or the term diversity is tagged to the people of color, or the women, or the LGBT.”
“There can be 12 white blue-eyed blonde men in a room and they are going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation,” Smith remarked...
Friday, October 13, 2017
President Trump declares the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization and imposes sanctions against it. Something which should have been done decades ago, but which previous presidents lacked the spine to do.