This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Thinking Big, Finding Solutions, Living With the Sea

"For us, climate change is beyond ideology."
"Rotterdam lies in the most vulnerable part of the Netherlands, both economically and geographically."
"If the water comes in, from the rivers or the sea, we can evacuate maybe 15 out of 100 people. So evacuation isn't an option. We can escape only into high buildings."
"We have no choice, We must learn to live with water. That's just common sense."
Ahmed Aboutaleb, mayor, Rotterdam, Netherlands

"A smart city has to have a comprehensive, holistic vision beyond levees and gates."
"The challenge of climate adaptation is to include safety, sewers, housing, roads, emergency services. You need public awareness. You also need cyber resilience, because the next challenge in climate safety is cybersafety."
"You can't have vulnerable systems that control your sea gates and bridges and sewers. And you need good policies, big and small."
"This starts with little things, like getting people to remove the concrete pavement from their gardens so the soil underneath absorbs rainwater. It ends with the giant storm surge barrier at the North Sea."
Arnoud Molenaar, climate chief, Rotterdam, Netherlands
The biggest mobile barrier in the world, the Maeslant storm surge barrier was built to protect the Dutch city of Rotterdam from a one-in-10,000-year storm. It's part of the massive investment the Dutch are making to protect themselves in a new era of rising sea levels. Credit: Bert Knottenbeld/Flickr Creative Commons

About a half-hour drive from downtown Rotterdam near the mouth of the sea, is the Maeslantkering, an unbelievably immense set of gates, established there to hold back potential floods. The repeated North Sea floods that historically overwhelmed the coastline of Holland convinced its politicians and city planners that they needed to be proactive in defending and protecting their cities against storms that had catastrophic consequences. Two major waterways were dammed to produce the Maeslantkering which was put in place twenty years ago.
The giant Maeslant surge barrier guards the entrance to the Port of Rotterdam. Photograph: Kina Rob Doolaard/AFP/Getty Images

This giant sea gate was built to maintain the immense waterway that enables the port of Rotterdam to remain a commercial shipping port servicing Europe as the world's busiest port. Tens of thousands of ships from across the globe sail into Rotterdam, in the process supplying steel to Germany, petrochemicals to South America and everything else imaginable to anywhere else in the world. The city of over 600,000 souls is dependent on the port for its very existence, accounting for no fewer than 90,000 jobs.

The structure represents a monumental gate with two arms, each resting on either side of the canal, a unimaginably complex formula of advanced technical engineering, yet one of great beauty, an impressive marvel of ingenuity to solve a once-intractable problem that saw 1,800 people die in 1953 when an overnight storm wreaked havoc on the Dutch coastline. When the gate is in its closed state, the arms float out onto the canal; they meet and lock, tubes filling with water, sinking onto a concrete platform resulting in an impenetrable steel wall challenging the North Sea.
Floating buildings like this pavilion in Rotterdam's old harbor are still a boutique solution even in the Netherlands, but Hans Baggerman says they could become more common as climate change forces developers to get creative. "A lot of parts of Holland ar
Floating buildings like this pavilion in Rotterdam's old harbor are still a boutique solution even in the Netherlands, but Hans Baggerman says they could become more common as climate change forces developers to get creative. "A lot of parts of Holland are outside of the dikes," Baggerman says. "There’s no way you can build buildings unless they are floating." Credit: Joris van Gennip/The GroundTruth

It takes fully two-and-a-half hours for the process to close the gates to be completed. Sea pressure becomes transferred from the wall to the largest ball joints in the world, installed in the banks on either side of the river. A closed computerized electronic system is used to sidestep the possibility of cyberattacks, to hourly monitor sea levels, as well as operating to close the gate automatically, or to open it. Within the gate, thirty pumps are linked to a power grid, extracting water from the tubes at such time when the Maeslantkering is to be reopened. A backup grid exists if the first one fails, and a generator is also available to open the gate if required.

"It's an example of what  you can do if you connect storm-water management with social welfare and neighbourhood improvements", explains Paul van Roosmalen of a dike close to the industrial waterfront where a largely immigrant and poor neighbourhood takes advantage of a shopping center built upon the dike, along with a grassy park on its roof which slopes down to the streets, and housing blocks; a place where sunbathers enjoy the grassy roof and Frisbees are tossed for fun and games. The kilometer-long park has formal gardens as well. "It's what we mean here in Rotterdam by 'resilience planning'."

"It's in our genes", said Rotterdam's climate chief. "We have been able to put climate change adaptation high on the public agenda without suffering a disaster in many years because we have shown the benefits of improving public space -- the added economic value of investing in resilience. Water managers were the first rulers of the land. Designing the city to deal with water was the first task of survival here and it remains our defining job. It's a process, a movement. It is not just a bunch of dikes and dams, but a way of life", stated Mr. Molenaar.
Rotterdam in the Netherlands has the largest port in Europe. Photograph: Frans Lemmens/Corbis

Labels: , ,

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Human Reliability Issue in Self-Driving Cars

"Do you really want last-minute handoffs?"
"There is a really good debate going on over whether it will be possible to solve the handoff problem."
Stefan Heck, head, Nauto, Palo Alto, California

"Imagine if the autopilopt disengages once in 10,000 miles."
"You will be very tempted to over-trust the system. Then when it does mess up, you will be unprepared."
Gill Pratt, roboticist, Toyota

"Level three autonomous driving is unsolvable."
"The notion that a human can be a reliable backup is a fallacy."
John Leonard, professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"They gave the message when I was close to getting a high score [playing a game]."
"I just realized it's not so easy to put the game away."
"Humans are inattentive, easily distracted, and slow to respond.] That problem's just too difficult."
Erik Coelingh, head of safety and driver assist technologies, Volvo
Volvo, self-driving vehicle simulator
The manufacturers of self-driving cars have a terrific product. Who doesn't want to be driven around without having to be constantly alert and in charge of a vehicle? Computerized directions tell your vehicle where you want to go and the technology takes charge. Relax, do something else, that self-driving car will get you to your destination; safe and sound and no sweat on your part. Oh sure, there will be times when the computer suddenly signals that it is unable to interpret what is happening on the road, and nudges you, the 'driver' to use your human intelligence to decipher the situation and respond.


Except that you'd immersed yourself in a fascinating game on your smartphone and weren't paying attention. Why should you, the car was being computer-guided, and you were completely out of synch with what was happening. And then when the signal came 'over-to-you', you didn't know what was happening any more than the computer did. Google discovered to its great chagrin that even their own employees who should have an idea of what's happening and what their responsibilities are in that kind of situation, failed the test.
Google’s self-driving cars are going longer and longer before deciding to disengage and hand control back to humans.
After deciding to reward their employees by giving them their own self-driving cars to be used for their commutes to work and home, they checked back on the automatic recording of how swimmingly things went in the process. And what they saw gave those executives splitting headaches. Employees were recorded by cameras to be clambering into the back of the vehicle, climbing out an open car window, smooching, and other undriverly escapades, according to two (former) Google engineers. "We saw stuff that made us a little nervous", admitted roboticist Chris Urmson at the time in charge of the project.

We all like to believe in the 'intelligence' of robotic cars. They've been programmed, after all, to interpret and rationalize to a degree. There are set patterns they recognize and respond to. Kind of like the human brain. But not quite, not quite yet. Optimistically, engineers feel another decade of experimental research and tinkering should do the trick. For the present, autonomous driving will not be completely independent of a driver's attention when hand-offs are an instant situation requiring immediate recourse to action.

Computers may be capable at this juncture of winning chess games and sending chess masters of global renown into the sulks, but they are not yet at that stage when they are able to judge situations on the road and instantly react as a human should and would. And the human sitting in the car who has to be prepared for that moment when the computer tells him that it's his turn, and quickly, to avoid disaster, may not be prepared for that moment though he/she should be. We're dealing with human nature here, not a mechanical device.

There are five levels of human-to-machine controls that the automotive industry has established to date. Level 0 represents manual driving, and Level 6 is complete autonomy, while Level 3 represents that point when the artificial intelligence manoeuvering the car turns to the human to address an emergency. Except that though the human relies on the artificial intelligence to do its thing, the artificial intelligence, though it may not be aware of it, cannot entirely depend on the human to spell it during that emergency situation.

According to Nauto, a startup that developed a system capable of simultaneously observing both driver and outside environment to provide, as required, alerts, a "driver distraction event" occurs every six kilometers, on average. At Stanford University scientists showed research results illustrating that most drivers need over five seconds to successfully regain control of a car. Google saw what is called "overtrust" on the part of automotive engineers when it matched employees with its prototype self-driving cars.

Audi's commercial vehicle with Level 3 autonomy expected out next month will be geared to give drivers eight to ten seconds to intervene in an emergency situation, while the car moves at 60 kilometers an hour in stop-and-go traffic. The concern, needless to say, is human operators who may be engrossed in email or deep in a game they're trying to master. Perhaps the template in solving the situation can be the study of challenges faced by the airlines industry in ensuring that airplane pilots remain vigilant while the planes are on automatic pilot.


Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Russia Roiling the World of the Internet

In Kiev [on Tuesday], a car bombing killed a senior military intelligence official, Maxim Shapoval, in what investigators called a terrorist attack. Shapoval had reportedly been working to collect evidence of Russian involvement in the violence in Eastern Ukraine and is the latest in a string of assassinations or attempted assassinations of enemies of Russia on Ukrainian soil. In March, Denis Voronenkov, a former member of the Russian parliament who had fled to Ukraine after turning against Vladimir Putin’s government, was shot dead in Kiev. That same month, a military intelligence official assigned to the Donetsk region, which is partially under the control of Russian-backed separatists, was killed in a car bombing in the port city of Mariupol. On June 1, a man from Chechnya posing as a reporter for a French newspaper, shot and wounded Adam Osmayev, a Chechen who had gained fame for fighting on behalf of the Ukrainian government.
Unlike in previous cases, the government did not immediately blame Russia for Shapoval’s death, but Ukrainian officials reportedly suspect Russian involvement. In 2006, Russia passed a law permitting the killing of “extremists” on foreign soil.
Joshua Keating, Slate Magazine, 28 June 2017 

Ukraine appears to have been a target of cyberwarfare that once unleashed respected no borders, nor differentiated among the various corporations and government offices it appeared to spontaneously hit, shutting down operations and sending corporate heads and government officials into a tailspin as one after another, huge systems shut down operations and their managers were hit by demands for ransom. With such critical systems shut out of operation leaving industry and government helpless as hapless pawns by cybercriminals out to do mischief for political ends and/or for ill-gotten gains, the critical nature of the event is obvious.
The MV Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller, the world's biggest container ship, arrives at the harbour of Rotterdam August 16, 2013. REUTERS/Michael Kooren
Ukraine has seen its sovereignty challenged in every sphere, from the viciously internationally illegal invasion by a foreign neighbour of its eastern geography, to the support of that neighbour for an ethnic-political usurpation of territory, to the capture by Russia and permanent occupation of Crimea, its seaport and installations and ongoing threats of harassment and violence. The loss of tens of thousands of lives, including a civilian Malaysian airliner and its passengers, shot down by ethnic Russian militias. Moscow has authorized targeted assassinations of those it names "terrorists"..... 
"We are talking about a cyberattack."
"It has affected all branches of our business, at home and abroad."
Anders Rosendahl, spokesman, A.P. Moller-Maersk, shipping, Copenhagen

"It seems the virus is spreading all over Europe and I'm afraid it can harm the whole world."
Victor Zhora, CEO, Infosafe IT, Kyiv

"Today's cyberattack, the largest in the history of Ukraine, was not the last."
"There will be others."
Anton Gerashchenko, adviser, Ukraine Interior Ministry

"A massive ransomware campaign is currently unfolding worldwide."
"It's like somebody sneezing into a train full of people You just have to exist there and you're vulnerable."
Bogdan Botezatu, analyst, Bitdefender
"Data breaches and cyberhacks are one of the biggest risks facing business worldwide."
"The WannaCry attack and now Petya clearly demonstrate that hackers do not discriminate which type of business they are targeting."
Michelle Crorie, partner, Clyde & Co. law firm, cybersecurity issues
Microsoft operating systems running the gamut from Windows XP to Windows 10, theorizes Victor Zhora, are victims of ransomware previously seeded and time-activated. The attack originated in Ukraine, and the government in Kyiv views all such attacks as motivated by and originating from its  tormentor, Moscow. Despite that Russia's Rosneft oil company has reported being victimized as well. The destructive program is like a Frankenstein; even its maker is not immune to the system's ravenous appetite for mad havoc.
Customers queue in 'Rost' supermarket in Kharkiv, Ukraine June 27, 2017 in this picture obtained from social media. MIKHAIL GOLUB via REUTERS
In  Ukraine, however, there are reports of intrusions into the country's power grid (not the first time but quite obviously far in excess of the eastern Ukraine interruption) along with banks and government offices, closing down their entire networks. The airport in Kyiv and the subway network were all affected. And that included computer systems at the Chernobyl reactor where the virus's effects have forced manual radiation checks.

Europe has been struck, and the malware has gone beyond Europe into the United States, with U.S. drugmaker Merck's systems compromised. In western Pennsylvania the Heritage Valley Health System was attacked, affecting the entire health system of the organization through the widespread cyberattack, steadily growing its malevolent reach, into a worldwide crisis.

Companies in France, Poland, Belarus, Germany and India have been infected. Ukraine, where it all started, is fairly confident in its assertion that it is yet another instance of Moscow asserting its wretched influence in every sphere it can manipulate to wreak harm on Ukraine. Among some analysts this newer version of ransomware is being called Petya. The software is self-spreading, capable of replicating without human interaction, like a malign contagion.

A message demanding money is seen on a monitor of a payment terminal at a branch of Ukraine's state-owned bank Oschadbank after Ukrainian institutions were hit by a wave of cyber attacks earlier in the day, in Kiev, Ukraine, June 27, 2017. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

And the Lowest Common Denominator Is .... !

"We're all in danger, with that bar being open. It's bringing a lot of crime here. We never had a problem before."
"I heard a pow, real loud. It was like a firecracker [so she ran to her apartment balcony]."
"He had no chance, that poor little boy [25-year-old Ashton Dickson, former footballer, lying in the  street, bleeding to death]."
"People crying, screaming. Oh my God, it was terrible. It was like you were in a horror movie."
Carole Soikie Augusta Street, Ottawa

"I hear the screaming: 'Yeah! yeah!' I hear the noise of the engine, Vroom, vroom. Three or four times sometimes a night I hear this."
"Seriously, it's awful. We have kids that have to go to school in the morning, and they are being woken up at 12, at 1 a.m., at two. It's ridiculous."
"There's nothing they [police] can do. They'd have to stay there all night to catch them in the act, so basically it's no use [calling the police to react]."
Alicia (last name withheld)
Lost and Found: The True Story of a Muslim Youth Gang Member

Several years ago a bar called The Mingle Room was opened on Rideau Street in downtown Ottawa. On Monday a young man, a former high school and university football star, had been shot outside the bar and was declared dead at the scene. Four men were seen to have fled the scene. A week earlier at the same venue shots were fired and a 25-year-old man had been stabbed. Police are aware that a "minor altercation" had occurred inside the bar, then spilled outside.

The owner of the building is traced to a numbered company. Its directors are named Ahmad Sobh and Hanadi Dawi. They also own the next door building where the Shawarma Palace is located. They know nothing about any altercation. "My employees didn't hear anything", declared Ms. Dawi. "I can't really put the blame on (the bar) because it could happen anywhere. The city is changing."

Yes, yes it most certainly is changing. In the area late-night activity takes place, and drug trafficking. There are gangs and gang members carry guns. Illegal they may be, and smuggled into Canada from the United States where they are not illegal. Four young men were seen by Ms. Soikie, running from the scene of the stabbing last week. From her balcony in the early morning hours this week she had heard several gunshots and watched as a car with three or four men drove slowly in front of the bar.

She kept watching and then saw a gun being held at the window of the car. And then saw the young man on the ground in front of the bar, realizing he had been shot. When the police arrived last week, despite the reports of gunfire they found Abdullahi Osman, 25, had suffered multiple stab wounds. This is the man who was accused of being involved in a gangland homicide, who had been charged with first-degree murder in 2015.

This was the execution-style shooting of Yusuf Ibrahim, a Crips gang member. Mohamed Abdi Abdullahi another associate, was accused of having pulled the trigger. Unaccountably, charges against both were withdrawn, last year. The city has changed quite a bit, actually. There has been an influx over the last few decades, accelerated recently, of immigrants from abroad whose religion, Islam, is touted as a law-abiding religion. But the culture brought with them seems to reflect one of violence.

Violent incidents of shootings and stabbings reflect identities readily recognized as Muslim through their reported names, in numbers far exceeding their density within the population. The religious culture of alcohol and drug avoidance is not one seen reflected in the gangs and violent events that unfold on the streets of Ottawa in number that belie the constant claims of Islamic probity and respect for others.
There were an estimated 66,000 Muslim settlers in the Ottawa - Gatineau metropolitan area. Despite forming some 5 percent of the population, they are startlingly overrepresented in Ottawa’s murders.
2016 in Ottawa ended with a Muslim murder in December and it began with a Muslim murder in January. Mohamed Najdi was killed by five other Muslim men. Mohamed had probably been shot in connection with the 2015 shooting of yet another Muslim man by an accused killer named Mohammad. 
And we mustn’t confuse Mohamed with Mohammad.
The other Mohammad, a Kuwaiti immigrant, had been a suspect in multiple shootings the previous year and had spent two years in prison for sexual assault.
At January’s end, Marwan Arab, Ottawa’s second homicide victim, was shot, along with his cousin. Both men were members of the Algonquin Muslim Students Association. One of the Arab cousins allegedly had links to a terror suspect. The shooting led to more arrests of Muslims for plotting another attack.
In March, Christina Voelzing became Ottawa’s sixth murder victim. The 24-year-old Algonquin college student was murdered by her ex-boyfriend Behnam Yaali. Yaali, a drug smuggler, was represented by a lawyer who also specializes in refugee law.
Twenty-four hours after almost being allowed to walk free after pleading guilty to robbery, Idris Abdulgani was arrested for murdering Lonnie Leafloor, a 56-yearold former truck driver, by stabbing him in the back of the neck.
And that was Ottawa’s seventh murder.....
Daniel Greenfield, Shillman Journalism Fellow, Freedom Center, New York 

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, June 26, 2017

Disruption in the Arab League

"A lot of it [clash between Saudi Arabia and Qatar] does come down to personality. When the new emir comes in, he really does have a chip on his shoulder."
"From the late 1990s on, Qatari foreign policy is a combination of: 'What can we do to get ourselves on the map'?, and 'What can we do to annoy the Saudis'?"
"From 2011 to 2013 they're [Saudis and Qatar] in open warfare across the region."
Marc Lynch, political scientist, George Washington University

"Just like the presence of other foreign military bases or units in other countries of the region, our military presence in Qatar is principally based on a decision taken by the two countries relying on their sovereign rights."
Huseyin Muftuoglu, spokesman, Turkish foreign ministry
Nations cut ties with Qatar
Doha, Qatar. Still from video: CNN
There's the Arab League in disagreement among themselves again. They met years earlier to discuss what to do with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after booting Syria out and couldn't agree among themselves. Former Libyan strongman Moammar Qaddafi, when he was still around, used to roil those Arab League meetings with sneering contempt. At one time Gamal Abdel Nasser dominated the Arab League when Egypt had pretensions of leading the Arab bloc and their fundamental purpose was the destruction of the State of Israel.

Several years ago when Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was being sought by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur, he was greeted warmly by his peers in the League; perish the thought of handing over another Arab mass murderer to 'Western' interests of justice. More latterly from among its Arab members, Saudi Arabia sought a consensus and support for its military assault in Yemen against the Houthi rebels supported by Iran; a proxy war by an Arab nation against an Aryan theocracy both of which seek the ultimate leadership role of the Middle East.

Qatar, friendly with Iran, and an ongoing thorn in the side of Saudi Arabia, not to mention its Arab nation peers thanks primarily to its 'independent' state news arm, Al Jazeera which has enjoyed pricking the sensitivities of Arab states resentful of criticism is now feeling the heat, being quarantined in essence because of its nuisance meddling and stirring the pot. An Arab Sunni state supporting a non-Arab Shiite state with pretensions of conquest was looking for trouble.

Gulf carriers including Emirates have suspended flights to Qatar for an indefinite period. Arabian Business.com
So accusing it of supporting terrorism was as handy a stick with which to beat it as any. As though Saudi Arabia's Wahhabist madrassas established globally haven't churned out the raw material for jihadists whose specialty is terrorism. But the controversial Muslim Brotherhood with its worldwide tentacles of fundamentalist Islam, now shunned by much of the Arab world (exception: Jordan and Turkey) and Iran's proxy terrorist militia, along with the Brotherhood offshoot Hamas, all supported by Qatar, proved a handy tool to isolate Qatar.

Qatar may be geographically tiny and traditionally a satellite of Saudi Arabia but immense gas wealth has given it the wherewithal to strike out on its own and make waves both within the Middle East and abroad. Since Qatar controls one of the world's largest gas reserves it has an immensely robust economy. And the country's emirs have gone out of their way to become influential interlocutors and aides to Western interests.

During the Arab spring Qatar used its diplomacy, money and weapons in aid of anti-government movements, whether secular or Islamist, to gain authority and influence. Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states were all interested in suppressing the upset of what is for the Middle East the natural order; rule by monarchies, theocracies, oil sheikhs and other tyrants. Turkey and Qatar had an especial bond in supporting one another, alongside the Islamic Republic of Iran with its own powerful plans for self-enhancement and influence.

Enter President Donald J. Trump, who has returned the United States presence in the Middle East as a major arbiter influencing outcomes in intricate historical political situations. The world power that has its own proxy cold war sizzling under the covers with resurgent Russia, installing itself as a friend of Iran and supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the butcher of Syria. Trump's assurances to Sunni Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan and the Gulf States in the wake of the previous administration's move toward Shiite Islam re-installed confidence.

Paving the way for the current contretemps wobbling the Middle East into its traditional insecurity of  disagreements while part of it is being consumed in the flames of self-destruction. This, while Washington maintains its military bases in Qatar and Moscow theirs in Syria. Turkey is playing its usual middleman-role, conveying food and medicines to an embattled and defiant Qatar, isolated and unwilling to submit to the ultimata issued by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan and Bahrain.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Qatar's Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani speak, with unidentified Turkish translator at centre, during a meeting in Doha, Qatar (File)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erodan and Qatar's Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani speak with an unidentified Turkish translator (centre) during a meeting in Doha, Qatar (file) AP Photo/ Yasin Bulbul, Presidential Press Service, Pool

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Reporting an Assassination Attempt

"[Le Monde] wants to stress that none of its journalists are in Ukraine at the moment and that its staff does not include an Alex Werner."
"Le Monde firmly condemns any impersonation of its journalists or of its title, for whatever purpose."
Le Monde, French newspaper

"What is important is we have proof Russia is committing terrorist acts."
"His tongue [Alex Werner, aka Artur Denisultanov-Kurmakayev] may loosen to say who sent him here and why."
Anton Gerashenko, Ukrainian lawmaker

"He was elegant, calm and confident."
"Putin is personally interested in getting rid of us."
Amina Okuyeva, Ukrainian-Chechen fighter, sharpshooter
Amina Okuyeva and Adam Osmayev of the Dzhokhar Dudayev battalion. Kyiv, 2015. Photograph: Shaun Walker for the Guardian
Amina Okuyeva and Adam Osmayev of the Dzhokhar Dudayev battalion. Kyiv, 2015. Photograph: Shaun Walker for the Guardian

He had installed himself as a reputable journalist working for a well-respected French newspaper. And he had become a familiar figure in Kiev. He had made important contacts with politicians and with anti-Russian activists in the year he lived in the Ukrainian capital. Ms. Okuyeva, who was occasionally in his company noticed that though he carried a notebook when he interviewed her, nothing she ever said seemed to warrant his writing notes in that book for future reference as a reporter.

She and her husband with whom she served as a volunteer soldier in the Ukraine war against the eastern Ukrainian separatists, had been interviewed on a number of occasions by this tall, dapper man who spoke with a decided French accent. He always introduced himself as Alex Werner, reporting for the French newspaper Le Monde. Adam Osmayev, Ms. Okuyeva's husband, has been the commander of a unit of ethnic Chechen fighters since 2015. With that unit, Ms. Okuyeva is a sniper.

The Russian government accused Mr. Osmayev of having plotted to assassinate President Putin back in 2012 when he was then prime minister. Mr. Osmayev had been arrested but his extradition to Russia had been blocked by the European Court of Human Rights. He was released from custody after the Ukrainian revolution in 2014, when he joined the fight against the ethnic Russian Ukrainians living in eastern Ukraine.

Under his guise as a French reporter, Mr. Werner requested the couple to drive him over to the French embassy. On the way he asked that they stop the car, then aimed a gun and opened fire on Mr. Osmayev, whose wife just happened to have a concealed weapon on her person. She drew her pistol and shot the intended assassin who had shot her husband. In the melee, both men were seriously wounded, but both survived.

The wounded attacker who posed as "journalist Alex Werner", had a Ukrainian passport at the name of Oleksandr Dakar. His real name is allegedly Artur Kurmakaev, born Denisultanov. Photos: rbc.ua, fontanka.ru, rospress.com, rbc.ua
The wounded attacker who posed as “journalist Alex Werner,” had a Ukrainian passport at the name of Oleksandr Dakar. His real name is allegedly Artur Kurmakaev, born Denisultanov. Photos: rbc.ua, fontanka.ru, rospress.com, rbc.ua
And now the Ukrainian SBU intelligence agency is prepared to interrogate the man identified as Mr. Denisultanov-Kurmakayev, believing him to a Russian agent with the Russian intelligence services. Moscow authorized a campaign of targeted assassinations against those it identifies as "terrorists" threatening Russia. Ukrainian officials feel that this incident reflects Russian hybrid war actions, including assassinations.

This foiled attack represents the third high-profile killing or attempt at assassination taking place in Kiev that Ukrainian authorities attribute to Russian security services.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, June 24, 2017

African Tribal Violence

"The briefing [between the Canadian diplomat and South Sudan's foreign minister in 2011] was repeatedly interrupted just because of the noise from the gunfire. Tank rounds going off. And the minister was saying, 'Do not worry. Everything is perfectly normal."
"Those 20,000 people at the airport? It's always busy at Christmas. We wish them happy holidays."
"We'd park our vehicle [at the airport in Juba]. To be honest, it was a bit like a football tailgate party. The [foreign] embassies would park their vehicles and put their flag up. The Canadians [South Sudanese with Canadian passports] would come to us."
"I was constantly negotiating with the friendly countries -- do you have any seats on aircraft? Or they would come to us and say: 'We've got some Canadians [Sudanese-Canadians]. Can you check their documents?"
"Within two days you had 20,000 camped out at the UN compound at the airport and another 20,000 in town who didn't dare come out to the fence. And there was a 6:00 p.m. curfew. At six, the military would start shooting."
"Some [Nuers] we had to literally hold their hands to get them out of the airport. We'd be taking them out by the arm and the soldiers would come and I'd have to push them away and say, 'No, no, no. Diplomatic. Diplomatic'."
Nicholas Coghlan, (retired) Canadian diplomat with the Canadian Embassy in South Sudan
Families wait in line as the World Food Program prepares to deliver food aid at the Bidi Bidi refugee camp on Feb. 22 in Arua, Uganda. The continued flow of refugees from South Sudan has pushed the camp's population to more than 270,000.   Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

South Sudan, after a long conflict with the government of Sudan, an Arab, Muslim hierarchy governing black Sudanese Christians and animists, as well as Black Muslim farming communities all of whom felt marginalized and ill-treated by Khartoum, became the newest nation in the world in 2011, after a referendum in the south resulted in Sudan finally agreeing to respect a breakaway portion of their geography in the creation of South Sudan.

For awhile competing political and ethnic and religious interests were set aside as the impoverished nation attempted to pull itself together. The rivalries that had been tamped down as the various interests cooperated in their greater struggle against the government in Khartoum didn't last long, however, and the majority Dinkas in South Sudan began to attack the minority Nuer people; their shared government fell apart. By 2013 the country was roiled by civil war.

Foreign embassies became frantically involved in trying to rescue South Sudanese refugees who had sought haven and achieved citizenship in the West, and then returned to South Sudan with the intention of helping the new nation become an independent, sovereign success. But things turned ugly and even their own ethnic group, the minority Nuer, rejected those that had left while the country was in its original turmoil: "They were told, 'Where were you? I was in the bush for 2 years while you were living the high life in Canada'." explained former diplomat Coghlan.

That was then; four years later nothing has been resolved, the ethnic conflict continues. About 1.8 million South Sudanese have fled the fighting in their new nation for haven abroad. Almost a million ended up in Uganda, with large numbers also finding haven in Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo, even though inner conflict and poverty strikes there as elsewhere in Africa. Aside from those leaving South Sudan, an additional two million forced from their homes remain within, living in camps, fending as best they can.
"We are managing but there is a severe shortage of funding. We are only getting about 15 percent of the funding we require. That is a serious gap that may drive us beyond the breaking point."
"This could force the government [of Uganda] to examine its generosity at some point."
"That [the $20 million of the $400-million required to operate refugee camps in Uganda for South Sudanese refugees] is a drop in the ocean. There are refugees suffering in a poor country that has given everything that it can. And the world is walking away from us."
Robert Baryamwesiga, commandant [mayor], Bidi Bidi, Uganda
The Bidi Bidi refugee camp in Uganda is home to about 274,000 people, making it the largest camp in the world.
The Bidi Bidi refugee camp in Uganda is home to about 274,000 people, making it the largest camp in the world. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The Ugandan town of Bidi Bidi grew last August from a tiny enclave to become a refuge to 272,000 South Sudanese fleeing violence, starvation and death in their country. It has the distinction of representing the world's largest refugee camp. Masses of refugees registered with Ugandan authorities form long lineups daily for food, water and vaccinations. They have become the forgotten refugees; the world's attention focused on Syria and Iraq, with over a million refugees and migrants showing up in Europe.

As for China, with its deep interests in African investment and focus on furthering its presence there to gain influence and supply its own industries with food and minerals derived from African natural resources, its interests seem to stop short at the exploitation stage and feeding its own economy, not the refugee dregs of a desperately poor country. South Sudan and its violent upheaval has become a local event of disinterest to the global community fixated on the Middle East.

Famine stalks South Sudan. Partially because of a catastrophic drought. But then people were too frightened to plant, let alone harvest crops. And the issue of international aid with humanitarian shipments of food meant to stave off large-scale starvation has created a deadlock of another dimension when the competing sides often refuse to allow food aid through.

"They arrive, not having had food and water for weeks. That is what is mobilizing people to leave South Sudan", explains Elyas Mohammed, co-ordinator for the United Nations in Bidi Bidi for whom the focus is on the provision of food, water and shelter. Uganda requires at least $400-million for the operation of its network of refugee camps, but of that total, an insufficient $60-million was pledged, and merely $20 million received.

As Uganda struggles with its dedication to humanitarian aid offered to desperate refugees, though the country itself has experienced more than its share of conflict and desperation and is now yet another desperately poor African nation, it braces itself for a further influx of South Sudanese, with an anticipated additional 400,000 refugees expected to flood over the border in this year's remaining months.

Refugees gather at a settlement in Palorinya, northern Uganda
Refugees gather at a settlement in Palorinya, northern Uganda. In March, 2,800 people arrived in Uganda every day from South Sudan. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Friday, June 23, 2017

Courting The Dreaded Appellation of Islamophobia

"Unfortunately, you cannot disconnect this type of event -- terrorism -- from Islam in general. [I share the position of French President Emmanuel Macron] He told them [Muslim community leaders], it's also your responsibility to act on the theological front, to explain to your people that this [terrorism] is not part of the religion, that it is contrary to the teachings of the religion."
"This is a dual responsibility."
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard

"[Authorities] have absolutely no indication that he [jihadist Amor Ftouhi] had any association with anyone in the Flint area or, thus far, in Michigan."
"[Ftouhi was] neither on the radar of Canadian authorities or FBI or United States authorities."
FBI field director David Gelios 

"With remarks like this, saying Islam cannot be disconnected from terrorism, Mr. Couillard is pouring oil on the fire."
"He is premier, and not only is he saying Islam and terrorism are inseparable, he says the responsibility for terrorism falls also on the Muslim community."
"It endangers communities that are already stigmatized."
Eve Torres, co-ordinator Muslim integration group

"This person [Montreal citizen Amor Ftouhi] had an understanding of his faith that allowed him to kill people."
"That is obviously the reality, and we cannot bring back the words of 'Allahu akbar' inside his mouth. He actually yelled that."
"But to link this fact and the responsibility of Muslim communities to play a special role more than any normal citizen is actually stigmatizing."
Haroun Bouazzi, co-president, Association of Muslims and Arabs for a Secular Quebec

"It is up to  you, religious leaders, to fight toe to toe on theological and religious terror, to expose the usurping of your values, the appropriation of your religion's history, the negation of 15 centuries of interpretation work done by your scholars."
"The battle of thought and faith must be fought on the ground, especially among the younger generations."
French President Emmanuel Macron, address to the French Council of the Muslim Faith
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) meets with Al-Azhar's Grand Imam Ahmed el-Tayeb at the Ittihadiya presidential palace in Cairo, Feb. 26, 2017. (photo by Reuters/Egyptian Presidency)

If Egypt's president -- after stating that Islam badly needed reform, that in the present day its major precepts constitute a threat to world peace and stability and that he hoped that the Islamic theologians at Al-Azhar University would see fit to undertaking that journey in theological scholarship and amendment of a religious text dating from the Medieval era to make it responsive to the realities of modernity -- was  unsuccessful in his overtures, how can the observations and pleas of a French president and a French premier make any inroads?
At least the two men, Macron and Couillard, exhibited the moral fortitude to call the situation what it is; a religion's call to terrorizing members of other religions and those who follow their own. Even if they skirted the reality that jihad does reflect Islam. Those who follow Islam fall into a number of categories; those that simply deny that violent jihad reflects Islamic values, and those who support jihad as a major tenet reflecting Islam's vital pillars of prosetylization. 
When Muslims are exposed at each of their Friday night mosque sermons to proscriptions against non-Muslims, to the Hadiths and Koranic scripts that emphasize the exceptionality and superiority of Islam over the beliefs and faiths of the non-believers, and curse their very existence as a blight meant to be expunged by the faithful, little wonder that a significant number among them support violent jihad carried out by a smaller and dedicated number of fundamentalists.
Muslims prefer to wrap themselves in the mantle of victimhood, clasping the claims that it is they whose human rights are being threatened, even while their co-religionists destabilize the world order from the Middle East to North Africa, East Asia to Oceania, Europe to North America. The triumphalism of shouting 'Allahu akbar!' while committing violence as emblematic of Islam's power becomes the common denominator among those whose clasp of terror reflects Islam.
For Muslims to feel not shame and regret, but indignant entitlement to denying that these malicious and harmful attacks against non-Muslims can be identified with Islam, and insisting that Islamophobia motivates those who link terror and Islam, engage in an effort to reverse the shame by labelling non-Muslims racists and bigots, representing the very height of mendacious sophistry. 

Premier Couillard errs toward appeasement when he claims that terrorism is not part of Islam for that statement is absurdly inaccurate. Jihad is an imperative that the faithful are expected to respond to, to sacrifice themselves for the greater good of advancing Islam's interests. And its interests lie in expanding its influence and command to achieve final control in a worldwide caliphate. To that end, Islamic State itself in its brutally malign atrocity-laden program is faithful to Islam.

Muslims respond every time an act of carnage takes place with attackers calling out "Allahu akbar!", that Islam is misunderstood, that it is a religion of peace. At the very same time, passages in the Koran belie that assertion, and do so clearly, with instructions to the faithful to dominate and destroy the Infidels and the Jews. Islam and terrorism are indeed inseparable, for the former sees the latter as integral to its success, a type of 'persuasion' entrapping people through fear.

Where Muslims view jihad as a legitimate tool authorized by Islam to propagate its message and enlarge its following to absorb the world in a final and all-encompassing ummah, as an ingathering of humankind to the bosom of Allah, the methods used by jihadists reflecting the ancient Medieval world of bloody conquest through the sword are viewed by the non-Muslim world as what they truly represent: terror.

French president Macron also sugar-coats the reality of Europe's dangerously churning episodes with deadly violence courtesy of Islamist jihadis, supporting the Muslim community's contention that Islamic values have been usurped by those choosing to interpret the 'values' inherent in Islam as being linked to bloody violence, in his own effort to appease his Islamic audience.

Amor Ftouhi
Undated Photo, CTV News,  Amor Ftouhi, Tunisian Montrealer

This latest debate in Quebec reflects the incident of a Tunisian-born immigrant to Canada who travelled to the United States where he made an effort to purchase a firearm, but succeeded only in buying a knife. With that knife he attacked a Michigan police officer, wounding him seriously. He was simply performing the bidding of the current premier jihadists who urge the use of any type of weapon with which to attack the kuffar. In choosing a knife, he chose the weapon of choice by Palestinian Arabs against Israeli Jews.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Hateful Crime, Likely Not A Hate Crime

"[CAIR is representing Nabra's family and] will monitor the development of the investigation to ensure a thorough examination of any possible bias aspects of the case."
Lena Masri, national litigation director, Council on American-Islamic Relations

"You can't just say, 'Oh, he didn't say anything against Islam, so no hate crime'."
"[This crime happened amid an] unprecedented rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes nationwide."
"We've been doing this for a lot of years, and there are not always overt statements of bias made during the crime."
"But we firmly believe that many of these crimes would not have occurred at all if the victims were not perceived as being Muslim."
Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman, CAIR 

"Nothing indicates that the crime was motivated by hate or bias. Everyone looks at this crime and thinks that because the victims were participating in activities at a mosque, they assume that's what it was."
"It seems like a guy got enraged and just went after the victim who was closest to him."
Tawny Wright, spokeswoman, Fairfax Police Department

A motorist in Fairfax, Virginia has been accused and arrested and he will stand trial for the brutal murder of a young Muslim woman, 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen. She had been walking with a group of other young people when an enraged man driving a vehicle came across the group riding bicycles, walking, talking together companionably. The girls in the group were wearing traditional Muslim robes and head scarves.
Nabra Hassanen
Image via YouTube -- Nabra Hassanen
They were together in the early morning hours after attending the late-night Ramadan service at one of the largest mosques in the United States, the ADAMS Center. After their initial encounter, the motorist, a 22-year-old man from El Salvador whose presence in the United States is suspected as being illegal, came across the group again in a parking lot. An exchange of vituperative words took place, and the man began to chase the group of young people, holding a baseball bat.

They scattered and ran off rather than confront a man who was obviously in the throes of a psychotic rage. Nabra Hassanen appears to have been slower than her companions, and the man, now being held on a second-degree murder charge for whom no bail will be available, caught up to her, shoved her in his vehicle and drove off with her.

I wasn't  until later on Sunday that police discovered the girl's battered body beside a pond. An autopsy will determine whether she had been raped. Police are adamant to this point that they are investigating a crime of 'road rage'. No evidence exists that they can determine at this time that a hate crime was committed.

The accused, Darwin Martinez Torres, most certainly committed a heinous crime. His psychopathic rage was directed against the young people whose presence, for his own reasons, infuriated him. He was driven by his inner demons to pursue the young people with murderous intent. His intention bore atrocious fruit when he caught and abducted Nabra Hassanen. It was an odious crime.

A hate crime? Perhaps not so. In the latest statistics, the demographic most targeted for hate crimes is the LGBT community, followed by Jews, Blacks, Muslims, Latinos and Whites in descending order. There is, in addition, a sizeable gap between all of the demographics, but what is clear is that Jews, targeted mostly by Muslim incitement far more than by the far right, have been victimized by hate crimes in excess of Muslims.

Among the many Muslim community members that came out to pay their respects to Nabra Hassanen at her Wednesday funeral, her family and the Muslim community in mourning (understandably in shock) have been non-Muslims in the neighbourhood, among them members of the local Jewish community and synagogue-attendees.

CAIR's campaign to have this awful crime declared a hate crime against Muslims is yet another attempt on their part to portray the Muslim community as being under siege, to counter-weight the reality that Islamist fundamentalists are turning the world upside-down in their murderous rampage, with their declaration that Islam demands jihad.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Holocaust Skeletons Rattling in Europe

"I feel personally attacked, but this is for me a much more dangerous and general problem that has to be dealt with. It's a pure and simple attack on basic academic freedoms, which we take for granted here in Canada. I'm dismayed."
"[I will not allow the] campaign of hate [to distract from revealing a piece of history]."
"What I found is huge areas of human misery that have not been reported sufficiently or never. These things are not palatable to Polish nationalists who believe in myths."
"It's [the political climate in Eastern Europe] to an extent aligned with the wishes of the Polish state, which makes it all the more, I would say, appalling [the campaign to delegitimize his research]."
"They [Poles who killed Jews during the Holocaust years] were realizing their own dream of a Jew-free Poland."
"At the same time, they were very ardent opponents of the German occupation. Nothing is simple here."
Professor Jan Grabowski, historian, University of Ottawa
Prof. Jan Grabowski is seen in his office at the University of Ottawa on Thursday, May 21, 2015. The history professor has received death threats for his work on the Holocaust in Poland.
Prof. Jan Grabowski is seen in his office at the University of Ottawa on Thursday, May 21, 2015. The history professor has received death threats for his work on the Holocaust in Poland. (Jan Grabowski/The Canadian Press)
"He falsifies the history of Poland, proclaiming the thesis that Poles are complicit in the extermination of Jews."
"Grabowski fails to adhere to the fundamental rules of researchers' credibility. He uses vivid and exaggerated statements to create propagandistic constructions, rather than to provide an honest picture."
Polish League Against Defamation
German and Polish police, Poland, 1943. Yulia Krasnodembsky, from 'Hunt for the Jews.
"The current attack on Professor Grabowsky by the Polish League Against Defamation, as in a recent public letter signed by more than 100 academics who have no expertise in the subject, is baseless, putting forth a distorted and whitewashed version of the history of Poland during the Holocaust era."
"We are confident that your university [University of Ottawa], which is a bastion of learning and freedom of scholarly inquiry, will give its full support to Professor Grabowski against those who seek to besmirch his reputation and curtail his work, and by extension, ours as well."
"[Professor Grabowski is a scholar of] impeccable personal and professional integrity."
International Holocaust scholars

The Government of Poland is very sensitive about the fact that so many of the most efficient death camps like Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Auschwitz-Birkenau and Majdanek were located by Nazi Germany in Polish territory. Their establishment as extermination camps in Poland was quite deliberate, with the knowledge that there would be few protests from among the occupied population, so many of whom approved of the Final Solution. But the government is indignant when these death camps are described as "Polish", issuing swift corrections to label them as "German"; simply placed in Poland.

It is indisputable, because it is in the historical record that after the liberation of the death camps, releasing Jewish survivors who had by some miracle of fate escaped death for their value as death camp slaves and because the extermination machinery of the gas chambers and ovens could only process so many at a time, that not much compassion could be found in the Polish population for Jews.

Those Jews incautious enough to return to their home villages to reclaim their property soon discovered that the Poles who had taken possession of that property would not release them to the proper owners. Not only was there a stony reception at the reappearance of former Jewish villagers but violence was directed against them and the aura of deadly hostility was so great that many were slaughtered by Poles furious at their return.

Professor Grabowski knows very well that Poles suffered deprivation during the Nazi occupation of Poland. He also knows of the prevalence of hatred against Jews, that pogroms were commonplace, that anti-Semitism was presented in lock-step with the German dehumanization of European Jewry. As an eminent historian he is determined to peer back into history to discern details that Poland would much prefer to obscure and bury.

He is, however, determined to unearth and reveal for posterity's sake, all the ugly scars on the face of humanity that took place in Poland during the Holocaust years. Through the 25 years he has devoted to studying the Holocaust years in Poland he has concluded from what he has discovered that many Poles were not forced to collaborate with the Nazis. Rather they chose to kill Jews because to do so expressed their deep hatred for these, their fellow Poles.

Formerly, his work in uncovering these inconvenient historical realities had garnered the attention of Polish groups in Poland. What's new, he says, is that the campaign to discredit his professionalism has been imported to Canada. The Polish League Against Defamation has written two collective letters to the University of Ottawa denouncing the quality and veracity of his scholarship. He is being unmercifully hounded in his place of residence and his place of academic scholarship by foreign sources.

His publication Hunt for the Jews: Betrayal and Murder in German-Occupied Poland was awarded the Yad Vashem International Book Prize in 2014, appalling the league which named it "disturbing". One of the two letters sent to the University of Ottawa, had 130 Polish scholars signatures, none of whom have any connection to Holocaust studies. Professor Grabowski identifies some of the league's founders as ranking members of Poland's government, or ministerial senior advisers.

An estimated 5.5-million Poles were killed during the war. Of that total three million were Jewish Poles. Poland, and its collaboration with the Nazi regime is not alone. Other Eastern European and Western European countries also occupied by Nazi Germany saw fit to aid the Third Reich in its plan to destroy European Jewry, from Lithuania to France.

Canada's current Minister of Foreign (Global) Affairs has an unsavoury link in her own background as an ethnic Ukraine. Her Ukrainian grandfather, situated in Poland throughout the war years, operated a Ukrainian news outlet in complete collaboration with and support of  the Nazis

Labels: , , , ,

Some Return Alive, Others Dead

"I'm relieved to know that it was  him. On the other hand I was pretty depressed to find out from the autopsy that was done in Iraq what had happened to his body."
"Knowing that he was coming home, a different feeling came over me, that it's time to get back to work."
"All my questions have been answered."
Tina Martino, Niagara Falls, Ontario
Nazzareno Tassone (right) with YPG unit, December 2016, wpmedia.nationalpost.com
"The cause of their death is rather nebulous. They seemed to be on an advanced post on the frontline when they were attacked at night."
"The Islamic State would have taken the position, which would explain why they were in possession of the bodies. Everything seems to indicate that the YPG have paid to get the bodies back."
Guillaume Corneau, Laval University, Québec 
"I spoke to him regularly while he was there and I can tell you that he was motivated by a desire to do something about the scourge of ISIS and was inspired by other Canadians who had done so."
"[He was] basically functioning as a infantryman. He was equipped with an AK type of rifle and MARPAT (Marine pattern) cammo gear. He was involved in the fight for Manbij and spoke of losing several friends to suicide bombers."
"He expressed great pride in becoming a sniper and, as of when we last spoke, had 20 confirmed kills."
"As far as I understand it there was a large Daesh (ISIL) attack, he fought, and was killed."
Webster, Tassone acquaintance

A number of Canadians, some of them former military, have over the past few years, left Canada to join the fight against Islamic State, fighting alongside Kurdish forces. One of them was 24-year-old Nazzareno Tassone, who informed his family that he meant to travel to Iraq from Calgary in June of 2016 to teach English there. Instead he furtively slipped into Syria to fight with the YPG.

He was there, fighting alongside his Kurdish friends for six months before he and another Westerner were killed on December 21 near Raqqa, the proclaimed 'capital' of the Islamic State in Syria. But his body was retained by the Islamic State forces for six months. Eventually his body was released and ended up with the Kurdish unit he fought with, who mourned his death as one of their own.

It was arranged to send his body back to Canada. The Kurdish Peoples Protection Unit spoke of Nazzareno Tassone who fought with them as a martyr, a hero. And they were pleased to know that on his return to Canada he would be honoured when his casket was driven along the Highway of Heroes.

That ritual of honouring Canadian soldiers began spontaneously during the time that Canada had its military stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan as part of the NATO and UN coalition forces fighting the Taliban. It has since formally become a recognized and worthy ritual of respect and recognition of the sacrifice for freedom made by Canadian soldiers.

It is supremely fitting that this man who sacrificed himself in the international conflict against the Islamist jihadists who have roiled the Middle East and east Asia to North Africa and on into Europe and North America be recognized as a soldier of courage and determination in his personal decision to defend against the dark forces of violent savagery.

Now Tina Martino is preparing to give her son a funeral and to bury him at home. Her son had left a year earlier. She had been informed six months later by the YPG unit with which he was embedded and volunteered to fight on the front lines that ISIL terrorists had possession of her son's body. Six months later, in May of 2017, they managed to recover Nazzareno Tassone's body to make arrangements to transport him home.

His mother received autopsy results conducted in Iraq. That report came to the conclusion that her son hadn't died of a gunshot wound as she had been informed, but from a blow to the head. His body also had suffered broken bones.There were cigarette burns to his body and face, and it was clear that he had been bound, from the marks on his body.

But that same autopsy report described her son with a different colour of hair, taller than he was and a decade older. Only when another autopsy was conducted in Canada, when the coroner's office confirmed the body to be that of her son was she convinced that he had finally returned home.

Labels: , , , ,

() Follow @rheytah Tweet