Giorgione's Sleeping Venus
Home | Index of all articles
A Virginia mosque has publicly condemned the words of its leading imam, highlighting lingering divisions among Muslim leaders over the controversial and widely rejected practice of female genital mutilation.
The Board of Directors at the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church said Monday that Imam Shaker Elsayed’s seeming endorsement of the outlawed practice as “the honorable thing to do if needed” ran afoul of both U.S. and Islamic law.
Elsayed’s comments during a lecture on child rearing and family life last month sparked a brief controversy last Friday after a right-wing watchdog group circulated a video clip of his speech online.
Female genital mutilation (FGM), branded a human rights violation by the World Health Organization and by most governments, is a common practice among certain Muslim and Christian populations in Africa and parts of Asia. The practice can range from a small incision or partial removal of the clitoris to a full removal of the clitoris and labia and the infibulation of the vaginal opening — procedures that the WHO says can lead to hemorrhaging, chronic infections, childbirth complications and even death.
Although the practice, which is sometimes also called female circumcision, has no basis in the Koran or in the Bible, experts say it is perpetuated in large part because of false claims about religious obligations and health benefits, societal pressures and the desire to suppress female sexuality.
In his lecture, a video of which appeared on the mosque’s YouTube channel, Elsayed spoke about circumcision as the cutting of “the tip of the sexually sensitive part of the girl so that she is not hypersexually active.” He warned about the dangers of more serious forms of the procedure, but advised congregants to seek the advice of a Muslim gynecologist to see whether minimal action was necessary. He also warned that “in societies where circumcision of girls is completely prohibited, hypersexuality takes over the entire society and a woman is not satisfied with one person or two or three.”
Dar al-Hijrah’s Board of Directors on Monday said that it rejected Elsayed’s opinion, and that FGM is “prohibited in Islam as well as the laws of the land.”
“We at Dar Al-Hijrah, DO NOT condone, promote, or support any practice of FGM,” the board said in a statement. “The reference to “Hyper-sexuality” is offensive and it is unequivocally rejected. The Board of Directors is particularly disturbed by such comments.”
The statement also included a retraction from Elsayed, who said he “referred the audience to their OBGYN to inform them why it is illegal and harmful,” and that he regretted his comments on “hypersexuality.”
“I admit that I should have avoided it. I hereby take it back. And I do apologize to all those who are offended by it,” he said.
But some community members said the statement didn’t go far enough, and two mosque officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the mosque’s second imam and outreach coordinator, Johari Abdul-Malik, was threatening to quit if the board didn’t fire Elsayed. Abdul-Malik and Elsayed both declined to comment. But Abdul-Malik and 20 other Muslim leaders and intellectuals, including prominent activist Linda Sarsour, released a statement Monday evening, calling on the board “to immediately terminate Imam Shaker El Sayed’s contract. We cannot and will not stand for any Imam or Muslim leader who endorses human rights abuses antithetical to our beautiful faith.”
While some classical Islamic texts endorse the practice, “it’s extremely important to know that the prophet Muhammad and his family did not experience female circumcision in any way, shape or form,” said Suhaib Webb, a popular imam at the Center D.C. who has a large youth following and who supports the call for Elsayed’s ouster. Numerous modern-day Muslim leaders, including Egypt’s Grand Mufti, have condemned female genital mutilation, Webb added. “I think there’s a very real concern [comments like his] contribute to the idea that Muslims are backward and out of touch, as is their religion.”
One longtime Dar al-Hijrah member said that the controversy reflects ongoing tension between the more conservative and liberal ranks of the mosque’s leadership. “He’s a very old-school guy. He has old-school views,” said the member, who worried that Elsayed’s continuation at the mosque would be a “breaking point” for progressives like Abdul-Malik. He asked not to be named so he could speak candidly.
Dar al-Hijrah, one of the nation’s largest mosques with about 3,000 regular congregants from more than 20 countries, has sought for years to scrub its image, after it became the focus of public scrutiny and FBI investigations following 9/11. A former imam, Anwar al-Awlaki, became one of the most recognizable global proponents of extremist ideology years after he left Dar al-Hijrah. And two of the 9/11 hijackers, along with Fort Hood shooter, Maj. Nidal M. Hasan, all worshiped there at some point.
Although there is little indication that female genital mutilation is common in the United States, the issue drew fresh attention in April when federal prosecutors charged three Michigan doctors with involvement in the female genital mutilation of two Minnesota girls, marking the first case to be prosecuted under the United States’ decades-old ban.
Attorneys for the doctors, all of whom are Indian American and belong to the tiny Dawoodi Bohra sect of Shiite Islam, are expected to invoke religious freedom in their defense at trial later this month, an argument that is likely to further inflame the stereotypes.
The controversies come at a particularly fraught time for American Muslims. Hate crimes against Muslims shot up 67 percent in 2015, according to the FBI. And hate crimes in general went up more than 42 percent last year in Maryland’s Montgomery County — a 30-minute drive from Dar al-Hijrah — according to an analysis of preliminary data by Brian Levin, a hate crimes expert at California State University in San Bernardino.
Last month a white supremacist, Jeremy Joseph Christian, killed two men on a Portland light rail train when they intervened to protect two Muslim girls Christian was harassing, authorities there say.
Dar al-Hijrah and its members — including women and girls who wear headscarves — have been the target of anti-Muslim hate speech, threats and, on one occasion, violence.
After a video clip of Elsayed’s lecture circulated on social media last Friday, the backlash erupted on Twitter.
“This is a loser monster that needs to be exterminated off the face of the earth! This is what our wonderful President is saving us from!” wrote one person, whose Twitter avatar featured a picture of a Trump-Pence campaign button.
In a rich world, a persons value depends on attractiveness and youth. If you are rich and older, just invest in destruction. The poorer the world, the less does your value depend on youth.
Torture has always been a practice widely used by the United States and many countries of the world; a history that does not end in Iraq.
The almost unanimous condemnation by the American congressmen of the terrible tortures and mistreatments in Abu Ghraib detention center in Baghdad after the CBS (United States) publication of the photos taken in such a center should not be a reason to minimize such practices or to believe they were invented after September 11 attacks, not to mention the operations in Afghanistan led by the very same Afghan people at the end of year 2001, or the defeat of the Iraqi army in March 2003.
Considering the absence of an official and conventional conflict that implies a direct confrontation between two states, the war that Washington sought and got in Iraq has gone beyond all limits of the legal framework established by the Geneva Convention. The war has been launched based on the excuse of a state defense secret. No matter what the authorities of the Bush Administration do, this will never be a real war; this has never looked like a real conflict which has only existed in the official rhetoric and demagogy of the American leaders. It is not about solving a political conflict through the confrontation of two armies; this a colonial conquest aimed at controlling the civil populations and the natural resources. Then, why pretending astonishment when considering the scientifically prepared and adapted images aimed at psychologically contain the real or possible adversary?
Why launching the war against civilians subject to the Shock and Awe until stultification aimed at terrifying these populations through torture until they have no choice but resignation?
In this sense, we have to acknowledge George Soros’ lucidity when in a recent article he said what has shocked the Americans have been the pictures and not the “torture” as such. In an informal interview, Soros has spoken of his experience with Wall Street investors who reached a consensus to implement some measures to fight terrorism: they were mostly in favor of torture but they did not want people to know it.
How can we explain then the different reactions that have arisen in the debate regarding the reestablishment of torture, a fact that has fascinated American lawyers and politicians since the end of year 2002? And how to explain their reaction to the pictures that showed abominable acts though ordered from above? All these can be explained if we accept the idea that such images can lead the public opinion.
We were prudently talking about the “reestablishment of torture” but thanks to the existence of casually recovered and preserved American documents we can see that since the beginning of the 60s such manuals taught tortures and were widely spread in Latin America, specially when counter-insurgence operations or operations against guerrilla groups were carried out in the said continent.
Documents that supported the use of torture in Latin America has also been declassified in the last few years and they show that the allegedly “mistakes”, “outrages” and “beatings” criticized by the U.S. general staff to “wash its hands” is nothing but a vile carefully-studied-planned-and-applied tactic hidden from the press. Tortures have always been one of the best and indissoluble constants of its military and political strategy.
The emergence of the guerrilla revolutionary movements at the beginning of the 60s, the increasing intensity of the Viet Nam war and the first Marxist resistance centers in South America encouraged John Kennedy advisers to design some counter-insurgence methods. They also thought of developing a group of military, political and economic measures to overcome the Third World National Liberation Movements.
Special units like the Green Berets of the army, the marine SEAL (Sea-Air-Land Commands) and air force special task forces were famous in many countries such as Honduras, Indonesia, Thailand or Filipinas for destroying the economic and political independence plans or many social or revolutionary movements.
In year 1963, the first Counterintelligence Interrogation manual was written. It was titled KUBARK. KUBARK was the CIA’s codename to identify this project. The manual was a detailed guide of different methods to be used in order to obtain information or effectively force the “elements of the resistance” to talk. The manual explained the steps to “become a perfect torturer” and quickly get the necessary categories to be a good “interrogator” explaining in detail the coercive techniques to achieve the goals.
Many practical recommendations were also included; among them: «the torturer must be familiarized with the electric current so that he could use the electric transformers and other available conversion devises if needed». It was also suggested the prisoner had to remain standing and deprived of sleeping and of his visual or tactic sensations for a long time with the purpose of overcoming his will.
The manual also explained that if such «ideal» conditions were met, the interrogated developed the feeling of inflicting himself the bad treatments. It indicated too that a barrel full of water or an “artificial lung” were even more effective. In the first pages or the introduction of the manual, torturers were advised “not to be mistakenly considered a person authorized to use such coercive techniques” and “not to forget to find a discreet or secret place where such practices could be implemented”.
Collected excerpts of this manual and of other manuals later recovered by the military espionage during the 60s, known as “Project X” were mixed to write a second “Bible” of the perfect torturer which was titled Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual -1993. The new manuals were largely used again in South America from 1983 to 1987.
This manual taught techniques similar to the ones that have been observed in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The original version stated: «We will only talk about two kinds of techniques: coercive and non-coercive. We do not want to make emphasis on the use of the coercive techniques. We just want you to know them». This last phrase was written to prevent the users of such manual to be accused in case of being discovered.
Later, the Senate of the United States carried out an investigation on the violations of the human rights in Honduras perpetrated by the death squads in 1988 and a paragraph of the torture manual was modified the following way: «yes, we oppose the use of coercive techniques. We just want you to be informed about them so that you can be warned and avoid their use». The manual also warned that «a frequent use of torture demeans the morale of the organization that implement it and corrupt those who depend on ...».
Since year 1966, the famous manuals were a priority in the School of the Americas, headquartered in Panama, later located in Fort Benning (Georgia, U.S.). Another part of the school was transferred to the Political Warfare Academy headquartered in Taiwan (nationalist China). For ten years, the interrogation techniques were taught by South American and Asian military men which were the ones in charge of doing the counter-insurgency dirty work. In 1976, this kind of training was prohibited once an American parliamentarian commission knew about such practices.
In fact, President Carter’s government confirmed such prohibition but the Reagan Administration validated it again reactivating the torture courses of the School of the Americas. For that purpose, a new “changed” edition of the 1983 manual was printed though torturers preferred to use the 1963 old version for it was much more explicit.
By doing this, Reagan’s team tried to be updated: by confirming its will to fight the “pro-Castro” regimes in Central America it did not hesitate for a second to state, through its Secretary of State Alexander Haig, that “international terrorism” -the expression used by the Reagan Administration to identify the revolutionary uprisings and insurrections- “will replace Human Rights as our main worry”.
The translation and massive diffusion of these manuals in South America by the military forces which applied the American doctrine against local counter-insurgencies called the Pentagon’s attention in such a way that in 1992 it made a secret report titled “The Spanish-language Intelligence Training Manuals” which was submitted to Dick Cheney (current vice-president of the United States) then Secretary of Defense of President George H. Bush (father). The report indicated how worried they were regarding “the criminal and doubtful elements included in such manuals”, a fact that could damage the allegedly image of virtue the Southern Command, that is, to promote the respect of Human Rights, at least on paper.
The threat was that the manuals constituted de facto a direct evidence of their wrongdoings and “could damage the image and credibility of the United States which, in addition, could be seriously compromised” by any human rights organization.
Months before, an investigation carried out by the Department of Defense had been interested in the seven problematic manuals that were chaotically spread compromising them in multiple cases which included abuses, blows, abusive imprisonments, executions and serum injections since the 60s. Dick Cheney’s order was to locate, find and destroy all these manuals. The order was executed as part of a “joint correction operation”. By that time, his implemented counter-insurgency program had already proved its effectiveness by subjugating great part of South America, and eliminating many revolutionary movements.
All this was nothing but a useful attempt to hide the evidences of a disastrous plan, previously studied.
In his State of Union address (United States) in year 2003, the current American president George W. Bush said about Saddam Hussein’s regimen: «electrical charges, marks made with hot iron, acid split on the skin, mutilation made through electric drill, tongues pull out and violations. If this is not evil, then this word has no meaning...»
The hidden debate from indiscreet cameras begun at the end of year 2002, and it was only an attempt to accept or demean widely used practices. All this was done by taking advantage of the emotion caused by September 11 attacks, very alive by that time. But this emotion has been slowly disappearing while the number of victims of the “war against terror” has increased so much that there are more victims now than after September 11.
Later, the capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (the allegedly right hand of Bin Laden) at the beginning of year 2003, caused a polemic on the legalization of torture and not on the use of torture for it was a common thing in the operations against counter insurgent revolutionaries. The fact of taking prisoners to be tortured in countries where torture was commonly used, for instance, Egypt or Morocco, was already a reality when this news and controversy were published in some diaries.
For example, this is the case of Muhammad Saad Iqbal Madni, by that time a CIA suspect of being linked to shoe bomber Richard Reid Iqbal Madni, and secretly taken from Indonesia to Egypt by the American services to be brutally interrogated.
It must be said too that the colonial past in Algeria and France repression in its former colony to subjugate it at the end of the 50s and the beginnings of the 60s so that it could not become independent, called the attention of the Pentagon before the conquest of Iraq in 2003.
This colonial French past easily proved that once the ethic limit for the use of torture is passed, the permanent confrontation is a guaranteed fact. Torture becomes then «the shortest way» to get to the said situation. Maybe this is the reason why the Abu Ghraib revelations have become so famous: it was necessary to put an end once and for all to this permanent confrontation before the situation becomes abominable or uncontrollable, as if the whole things was a time bomb that nobody knows when will blow, as professor David Cole explained to The Nation in March 2003.
Another counter productive element once you reach to uncontrollable situations like the Iraqi chaos caused by the invasion is that uncertainty linked to the threat favors the practice of torture because in moments of doubt and insecurity it can be used in all circumstances with no impunity at all. The French experience in Algeria was reproduced in Israel long before the Israeli Supreme Court legally prohibit it, at least on paper, in 1999: «Very soon, and in rare occasions, torture was a common practice in Israel mainly due to the metaphoric example of the ‘time bomb’ for such concept used by the oppressor becomes a justification of his actions, despite the fact that they can postpone or prolong (manipulate it) as they wish and for their ‘good conciseness», explained too Phil Roth to The Nation.
But before considering torture a method to obtain information, isn’t torture the incarnation and pure essence of state terrorism? Who would dare to say the Iraqi population is not terrified by the idea of being in the hands of torturers in Abu Ghraib prison?
We know that today the United States persistently demands a Resolution of the UN Security Council to be renewed so that its military men won’t be judged at the International Court of Justice. So, the U.S. has a double strategy: on one hand it is carrying out a judicial battle of attrition letting first the High Command to be the responsible and in the worst of the cases it will “burn” some low-ranking officers but the executive direction will be protected. All this is planned to avoid justice. The only thing it has to do later is affirming torture was not used neither by them or its mercenaries or vassal countries. They will also say there are no CIA secret interrogation centers.
The 1983 manual was specially written to spread torture in Central America. All methods were good to prevent civil populations from supporting communists. On the ground, operations were directed by John Negroponte. It is due to his “experience” in such matters that George W. Bush has appointed him ambassador of the United States to Baghdad from July 1, 2004 not to put an end to torture.
95 percent of the victims of work accidents are men. Because women are cowards, and just want to rule from behind.
Hi, Sunil here to talk about prostitutes in Dubai and where they hang out.
So what inspired this section? Well well I once wrote a post on our Blog about prostitution in Dubai and happened to include some places where you can spot prostitutes in Dubai.
Just minutes later I was bombarded by emails accusing me of promoting prostitution and provide a resource for others to come to my website and find out where they can go to find one.
My friend, if you wanted to find one, you would with or without my help.
That is a lame a reason to give me.
But thanks to the people who saw the glass half empty, my intention with the blog post was a half full one.
I wrote it so that I can alarm those who want to avoid places saturated with prostitutes.
Think about it, if you are going with your family, do you want to accidentally end up somewhere where there are prostitutes?
So hopefully my logic makes sense now?
It is not a surprise that prostitution exists in Dubai. Dubai has fame, fortune and a majority male population. It just makes sense. Read this section on prostitution in Dubai for some background information and a brief history lesson.
Just know that legally, to have sex with someone you are not married to is an offense (something to think about for the young single couples, especially if you live together).
Hopefully that will make you think thrice before getting involved with anything that has to do with the Dubai prostitutes (or in general). It is risky more than just from a legal perspective.
So whether you look at the glass as half full or half empty, here are some places loaded with prostitutes in Dubai:
Cyclone Club is the most famous or should I say INFAMOUS place where prostitutes hang out in Dubai
Rattlesnake Club at the Metropolitan Hotel
The Al Nasr Square area
Rumours at the Ramada Hotel
The Regal Plaza Hotel
Stayin Alive at the Imperial Suites Hotel
Sea View Hotel is a A big Filipino hang out
Various erotic massage establishments
The Hyatt Regency in Deira.
The Red Square Club at the Moscow Hotel
We are different. We, the adherents of Kreutz Ideology and Kreutz Religion, think that sex is the most important aspect in life. Everything else is just logistics.
Many Jamaican women seem to be on the hunt for quick tighteners for their 'lady parts'.
Sade Buckeridge, owner of Fetish Secretz told THE WEEKEND STAR that she stocks two types of tighteners that work within minutes, and they are among her best sellers.
"We have the China Shrink Cream and we also have an organic one called Tightna. That one you insert like a tampon, and the cream is something you just rub on the outside and just a little bit into the entrance," Buckeridge explained.
She said customers flock the fast tighteners for various reasons.
"Some might say, 'Lord I've been so bad when my husband wasn't here so I need a shrink cream', and you know women have this ego thing to say them have the tightest vagina," she said.
China Shrink Creams contain alum as the main ingredient and retail for $3,500. Manufacturers claim the active ingredient will tighten the vaginal muscles in five minutes.
Tightna is made in India and is said to be organic, but the ingredients are not listed. It retails for $8,000.
"I have to get shrink cream all the time. It's selling at least four or five times a week," Buckeridge said.
Aside from the tighteners, Buckeridge said Ben Wa balls have been selling like hot bread. They act as the weights in the kegel exercises, which are performed to strengthen a woman's pelvic floor muscles overtime.
"Those have been selling like crazy especially since the Fifty Shades of Grey movie. You have vibrate and no vibrate types available in small, medium, large," she said.
Similarly, Sekou Bavis, who operates Cloud 9 Pleasures, said his Ben Wa balls have been doing well.
"If you vagina loose, or you just have a baby, or you just want maintenance, you insert the balls and 'quint' the vagina and try keep up the balls, so that builds the muscles. They sell for $2,500 and $3,000. Women do like it, and they tend to recommend it to others," He said.
Renowned gynaecologist Dr Michael Abrahams advised that women seeking tightness should stick to natural methods such as daily kegel exercises, and if that fails, they should consult a physician.
"In general, we don't really encourage those stuff (tightening creams), but I can't speak for all of the products because I don't know all of them. Some of these products are actually astringents, so they make the vagina drier, and it feels like it's tighter but it's not really healthy," he said.
Feminism is the enemy of successful men. Let millions of Arabs migrate to Europe. That will give feminists second thoughts.
On April 6, Donald Trump initiated his first war, by launching dozens of cruise missiles against the Syrian regime, following its use of chemical weapons. U.S. officials have offered a variety of motives for the use of force—but many of them aren’t compelling. First of all, there’s the need to defend American credibility when opponents cross a red line.
This may help to explain why the United States launched cruise missiles, but not why the red line was originally drawn around the use of chemical weapons. In addition, Trump claimed that Syria had “violated its obligations” under the Chemical Weapons Convention. But he’s shown little interest before in the value of global legal structures. Trump also said the attack might kick start a peace process: “I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria.” But the American strike has only widened divisions with Russia and Iran.
Perhaps the most powerful argument for the attack is the unique horror of chemical weapons. Trump claimed that chemical weapons are “very barbaric” particularly when employed against a “child of God.” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer suggested that a chemical strike is the worst possible act of war: “You had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.” (Given the employment of gas chambers in the Holocaust, Spicer later apologized for a misplaced analogy.)
But are chemical weapons really uniquely horrific? Using sarin nerve gas against innocent civilians is undoubtedly evil. But chemical weapons are not exceptionally terrible in the scale of suffering. In Syria, for every civilian murdered in a chemical attack, hundreds have been killed by conventional means. Neither are chemical weapons uniquely brutal in the manner of death. Asphyxiation by gas is truly horrifying—as is being lacerated by shells or tortured to death in Bashar al-Assad’s gulag archipelago.
The focus on the means of killing, rather than the amount of killing, can seem arbitrary. During the Rwandan genocide in 1994, Hutu militias killed 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus with machetes and small arms. Let’s imagine that the militias followed this up by murdering a further 80 Tutsis in a chemical weapons attack. It would be absurd if the international community ignored the genocide, and then intervened after the chemical strike.
The core underlying reason for the U.S. air strike is rarely if ever discussed in public: upholding the norm against chemical weapons gives the United States a strategic edge, by helping the U.S. military win wars.
U.S. officials want to keep warfare limited to a traditional model where one army fights another army on a clear battlefield, and everyone wears uniforms. The reason is that the United States will almost always emerge victorious. Ask Mexico, the Confederacy, Spain, Germany, Japan, Grenada, Panama, or Iraq, what it’s like to fight a straight up conventional war against the U.S. military. Today, Washington is pouring billions of dollars into big-ticket hardware like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which further entrenches America’s advantage in conventional fighting.
The United States has an interest in shaping global norms so that tactics and technologies that fit the traditional model are viewed as “good war” or morally acceptable. This includes bombing, shelling, and shooting. Just last week, the United States dropped “the mother of all bombs,” or the 21,000-pound Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, on an ISIS position in Afghanistan.
At first glance, drones might seem like a morally dubious technology. Hundreds of civilians have died as a result of U.S. drone strikes around the world. Insurgent groups like Hezbollah have begun to use primitive drones. Terrorists could easily employ drones to deliver bombs. One might think that Western countries would push for some kind of international convention to prohibit or limit their use. But the U.S. military finds drones extremely useful. And so, there’s barely a squeak from official Washington about the ethics of flying robots of death.
By contrast, other tactics and technologies that deviate from the conventional war template are treated as “bad war” or illegitimate. This includes anything that might level the playing field or give weaker actors a fighting chance, like terrorism or insurgency.
Which brings us to chemical weapons. The United States has an interest in preventing the use of chemical weapons. The U.S. military doesn’t need these tools in the same way it needs drones. Chemical weapons would complicate life in wartime for American soldiers, who would have to carry protective gear. Chemical weapons also have an undoubted psychological impact that terrorists and rogue states could utilize.
Therefore, the United States and other powerful actors cultivate the image of chemical weapons as the epitome of barbarism. Boosting the perceived evil, chemical weapons are lumped in with nuclear and biological weapons in the famed “weapons of mass destruction” category—even though nuclear weapons are vastly more dangerous.
A good test of whether the chemical weapons taboo is really about ethics or interests is to ask how the United States would respond if an ally used these weapons. Fortunately—or unfortunately—such a test exists. During the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, Saddam Hussein was viewed as a secular sentinel holding back radical theocratic Iran. When Saddam used chemical weapons against the Kurds in Halabja in 1988, killing 6,800 civilians, the United States barely even protested. Washington knew that Saddam was to blame, but U.S. diplomats were nevertheless instructed to say that Iran was partly responsible. Washington pushed a UN Security Council resolution that muddied the waters by calling on both Iraq and Iran “to refrain from the future use of chemical weapons.”
Sometimes, the United States moves tactics from the bad war box to the good war box. Traditionally, the assassination of foreign leaders was held to be morally reprehensible. In 1938, the British military attaché in Berlin suggested assassinating Adolf Hitler to avert a European war, but London rejected the plot as “unsportsmanlike.” In the 1970s, President Gerald Ford issued an executive order renouncing assassination.
The norm against assassination doesn’t make a lot of inherent sense. If you can invade another country and destroy its military, why can’t you kill the enemy leader and perhaps avoid a war entirely? In a detailed study of the norm against assassination, Ward Thomas found that the taboo emerged in the 17th century because it served the interests of powerful countries by placing their leaders off-limits from personal attack.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, flatters a girl more than a man committing suicide because of her.
Daud Mohamed lives a fragile existence, wholly dependent on rain.
At his homestead in Somalia where we camped one night, his nine children were busy with chores as the sun was coming up: feeding the baby goat, collecting drinking water an hour’s walk away, and mixing up porridge in plastic mugs for breakfast. Mohamed has managed to keep a sense of normalcy at his rural homestead a two-hour drive from the nearest village. But he said the situation is anything but normal.
“I’ve never seen this kind of a drought that has killed our animals. It’s the worst one,” Mohamed said, his grey goatee making him look older than his 45 years. He has just one goat and a sickly calf left, he added.
Down the hill from Mohamed’s house is a clearing where he used to grow vegetables for his family and grass for his goats and cows. The soil is now dried into a wide latticework of deep cracks. At one end of the clearing stand two large trees. Many branches have been unceremoniously cut for firewood, leaving jagged stubs. But their broad trunks attest to their survival: droughts typically hit this region every few years, so these trees have withstood many lean seasons.
Mohamed walked us to the far end of the beige expanse and looked glumly at the skeleton of one of his last cows. The unforgiving sun had already bleached is ribs white. “They didn’t get enough food, and people were depending on animal’s milk and meat. If animals died, then human beings will also die,” Mohamed said.
Mohamed said he thinks that a current law in Somaliland that bans cutting trees and charcoal production, is a good idea.
“Those trees used to help our animals. Now it looks like a desert,” he said. But he recognizes that planning ahead -- even as a single father with a brood ranging in age from toddler to teenager -- can be a luxury.
“If you have a family and you lose your livestock and there is drought, you will do anything to feed the children,” Mohamed said.
That is part of the reason why those two last trees on his parched pasture are starting to look like his only hope, he said.
Across the global scientific community, there’s broad consensus about the reality of climate change. The Department of Defense first highlighted the security threat of global warming in 2010, calling it “an accelerant” for conflict. Yet with his tweets and executive orders, President Donald Trump has catapulted climate change skepticism into the mainstream. But for many people on the planet, like Daud Mohamed, the debate is moot: life is fundamentally changing right now.
More than six million Somalian people are currently in urgent need of assistance, according to the United Nations, which has called the refugee crisis the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.
Most Americans first heard of Somalia when the country suffered a severe famine in the late 1980s.
The country once again made international headlines because of an incident known as Black Hawk Down in 1993, when 18 U.S. soldiers were killed in the streets of Mogadishu. The killings were later portrayed in an Academy Award-winning film of the same name.
The country occasionally makes headlines because of the pirates who trawl the coastline awaiting foreign cargo ships that they can hold hostage for massive ransoms. On land, reporters regularly recount the suffering of communities who still live under the ruthless rule of al-Shabab, a militant group aligned with Al Qaeda.
My reporting partner, photographer Nichole Sobecki, and I came to Somalia to look into another grim phenomenon, however. Scientists now believe that Somalia is one of the most vulnerable places in the world due to climate change. News stories about the war-torn country rarely highlights this link, but much of the violence in Somalia stems from environmental issues and resource scarcity -- and those underlying causes are only getting worse.
“With these weather patterns, Somalia or Somalis will not survive,” said Somali environmental activist Fatima Jibrell. “Maybe the land, a piece of desert called Somalia, will exist on the map of the world, but Somalis cannot survive.”
Yet just 40 years ago, Somalia seemed to be on a different trajectory.
The UN held their first environmental conference in Stockholm in 1972, but it wasn’t until the late 1980s that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was formed and the science of climate change started to be discussed as a global issue.
However, Somalia’s leaders had a deep appreciation for their fragile relationship with the environment starting in the 1970s after a punishing drought. At the time, the government saw that safeguarding their natural resources had to be a priority. A quarter of a million nomadic people lost their livestock and became desperately poor in 1974 and 1975, according to Somalia expert Ioan Lewis. It was essentially the equivalent of going bankrupt, having your car stolen and your house burning down all at once. For these people, life became focused on survival.
With support from the U.S. during the Cold War, Somali President Siad Barre created the National Range Agency to manage the country’s natural resources. The Range Agency’s leaders had the ear of the president, the largest budget of any government department, and eventually more than 2,000 people on the payroll.
One of the foreign experts drawn to this work at the National Range Agency was a British ecologist named Dr. Murray Watson.
Watson had learned to fly while studying wildebeest migrations in the Serengeti for his doctorate at Cambridge University. He moved to Kenya, bought a Piper Super Cub two-seater plane, and began tinkering with a rig of measuring sticks, an altimeter and a camera to take aerial photographs to document wildlife.
Watson arrived in Mogadishu in 1978, just as the Range Agency was starting its work. Through the rest of the 1970s and ‘80s, Watson led a small team of scientists in carrying out the most comprehensive land survey of Somalia in the country’s history. They crisscrossed the country by Landrover and bush plane, photographing and studying the environment at more than a thousand sites.
But in 1991, that momentum came to an abrupt halt. Rebels toppled President Barre and then turned on each other, plunging the country in civil war. Thousands of people were killed in street battles in the city. The rebels looted and destroyed businesses and government buildings.
But Watson somehow managed to make his way across the city amid the firefights and rescue the agency’s maps, photographs, and field notes. He snuck some 15,000 environmental documents out of the country in a bush plane.
As Range Agency staff fled the chaos and accomplished Somali scientists ending up in refugee camps, they left behind everything they held dear, including university diplomas, wedding photos and children’s books.
“We always thought we would go back,” said Dr. Abdullahi Ahmed Karani. He served as the first and longtime director of the National Range Agency, and he fled Somalia in 1991. He eventually settled in Baltimore and is now almost 80 years old.
As the Somali government collapsed and terrorism became an even larger problem, no one could enforce the ban on charcoal production and deforestation. Illegal fishing and dumping of toxic waste increased as foreign companies took advantage of Somalia’s unpatrolled waters. Meanwhile, as Somalia’s climate began to change, increasingly frequent droughts made people even more vulnerable to armed groups like Al-Shabab.
In contrast, Watson’s land survey provides a rare, detailed picture of a country before the past 26 years of conflict and environmental destruction.
But in 2008, the conflict caught up to Watson. While conducting another environmental survey, Watson and his Kenyan colleague Patrick Amukhuma were ambushed and kidnapped. Watson has been missing ever since, and what happened to him remains a mystery to his family to this day.
But Watson’s work has lived on. The Somali government has begun finding its footing after a quarter-century of war, and researchers believe Watson’s land survey -- now housed in a farmhouse in Britain -- could help show precisely how and why the country’s environment changed. It could also possibly offer clues about what can be done to restore it.
But many Somalis have already decided Somalia is no longer a viable home.
Another terrible drought hit in 2011, sparking a mass exodus. According to the UN, a quarter of a million people died and almost a million more crossed into neighboring countries. Tens of thousands of those fleeing their homes finally found relief in Kenya at one of the world’s largest refugee camps, Dadaab.
When their farm failed, Mohamed Abukar and his wife, Habiba, took their two young daughters and walked for 27 days to the camp across desolate southern Somalia -- land that in Watson’s old photographs appears verdant and green, with one of the country’s old-growth forests and even a national park. Today, the region is controlled by al-Shabab, who have deforested much of it to supply their lucrative charcoal trade, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
Now a father of five, including two young sons, Abukar knows his family can’t stay in the refugee camp in Kenya forever. But he also can’t imagine returning to Somalia.
Abukar said that in Somalia, al-Shabab recruits boys at the madrassas or religious schools.
“I am fearful that they will be recruited. First, there is no school other than those run and controlled by [al-Shabab],” he said.
“They can radicalize you because you are poor and don’t have anything,” Abukar added, explaining that extremists sometimes block aid from reaching these areas to coerce people into supporting them.
Indeed, aid agencies could have alleviated the suffering from the drought. But al-Shabab wanted to leave people vulnerable, “to attract the hungry people, knowing too well that people facing starvation will fall for anything,” Abukar said. He told us this fear of starvation is one of the concerns that runs through his mind at night while his family sleeps.
“Even if Somalia has security problems, if someone has to die, it’s best if he dies while in good shape other than dying of hunger,” he said.
Abukar vows he’ll never return to Somalia. Since the war broke out in 1991, millions more have also left, making new lives for themselves elsewhere in eastern Africa or boarding rickety boats bound for the West at the mercy of smugglers.
Environmental activist Fatima Jibrell had left Somalia too. She moved to the U.S., but decided to come back to lead Adeso, the organization she founded in 1991. Her organization focuses on creating jobs and rehabilitating the degraded land. But she questions whether that approach will ultimately work, blaming desperation that has been exacerbated by a changing environment and dwindling resources.
“It’s going to take us to wars where we kill and maim each other. Sadly, I think that is the way we will choose. Not intelligently, but by not doing anything -- that’s the choice we will make,” said Jibrell. “The other choice is harder, but it’s doable. It comes with intelligent people coming together.”
Jibrell’s feelings about the future are peppered with both optimistic and grim predictions. But she said she is committed to her work, even as she approaches 70.
“We are alive, and we are thinking beings. And it’s not in our nature, I think, to give up,” Jibrell reflected. “Nobody likes to die sitting.”
Why is sex so important? Because everything else is just irrelevant.
1. It's a clinical phenomenon called anesthetic awareness.
'Anesthetic awareness, also known as intraoperative recall, occurs when a patient becomes conscious during a procedure that is performed under general anesthesia, and they can recall this episode of waking up after the surgery is over,' Dr. Daniel Cole, president-elect of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, tells BuzzFeed Life. Patients may remember the incident immediately after the surgery, or sometimes even days or weeks later. But rest assured, doctors are doing everything they can and using the best technology available to make sure this doesn't happen.
2. One to two people out of 1,000 wake up during surgery each year in the United States.
"It's not a huge number, but it's enough people that it's definitely a problem," says Cole. Plus, the true rate could be even higher. "The data is all over the place because it's mostly self-reported." "Ideally, the anesthesiologist would routinely see the patient post-operation and ask them about intraoperative awareness," he says. But this opportunity is often lost because patients are discharged or choose to go home as soon as they can after surgery. "Even if they remember three, five days later, they might feel embarrassed and don't want to make a big deal so they don't mention it to their surgeon. So there can be underreporting of awareness."
3. It happens when general anesthesia fails.
General anesthesia is supposed to do two things: keep the patient totally unconscious or 'asleep' during surgery, and with no memory of the entire procedure. If there is a decreased amount of anesthesia for some reason, the patient can start to wake up. The cocktail of medication in general anesthesia often includes an analgesic to relieve pain and a paralytic. The paralytic does exactly what it sounds like — it paralyzes the body so that it remains still. When the anesthesia does fail, the paralytics make it especially difficult for patients to indicate that they're awake.
4. And it's not the same as conscious sedation.
Conscious sedation, sometimes referred to as "twilight sleep" is when you're given a combination of a sedative and a local or regional anesthetic (which just numbs one part or section of the body) for minor surgeries, and it's not intended to knock you out completely or cause deep unconciousness. It's typically what you would get while getting your wisdom teeth out, having a minor foot surgery, or getting a colonoscopy. With conscious sedation, you may fall asleep or drift in and out of sleep, but this isn't the same as true anesthetic awareness, says Cole.
5. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn't usually happen right in the middle of surgery.
"The anesthesiologist is very aware that this can happen and never relaxes or lets down their guard at any point during the surgery, no matter how long," says Cole. "Awareness tends to occur on the margins, when the procedure is starting and you don't have the full anesthetic dose or when you're waking up from anesthesia, because it's safest to decrease the amount of anesthesia very slowly and gradually toward the end." However, this also depends on the surgery and patient... which we'll get to in a little bit.
6. Patients often report hearing sounds and voices. "The most common sensation is auditory," says Cole. Patients will report that they were aware of voices, and even conversations that went on in the operating room — which can be especially terrifying if loud tools are involved. "If you look at the effects of anesthetics on the brain, the auditory system is the last one to shut down, so it makes a lot of sense."
And opening your eyes to see the surgeons operating on you? Basically impossible. "First of all, the anesthesia puts you to sleep, so your eyelids shut naturally. Even if you regain consciousness, the anesthesia still restricts muscle movement so your eyes will stay shut," Cole explains. "But there's still 10–20% eye opening when you sleep. So during surgery, we will cover the patient's eyes or tape them shut to prevent injury and keep the eyes clean."
7. Few patients experience pressure (and rarely pain) during anesthetic awareness.
Less than a third of patients who report anesthetic awareness also report experiencing pressure or pain, says Cole. "But that's still one too many, because the patient is kind of locked in and aware of what's happening to them but unable to move, which is terrifying." Typically, sufficient analgesic (pain reliever) is given, so that even if you wake up you won't feel pain. "More often, we use an anesthetic technique which includes a morphine-type drug to reduce pain. But this is really required for when the patient wakes up and they no longer have anesthetic so they are conscious and aware of pain," Cole says.
Even if the analgesic wears off, there should be sufficient anesthesia to keep the patient unconscious and pain-free. "It's rare. You'd have to both have insufficient anesthesia and insufficient pain medicine at the same time to feel prolonged pain during awareness," Cole says.
8. Anesthetic awareness can cause anxiety and PTSD.
"The potential psychological effects of awareness range greatly," says Cole. "It can cause anxiety, flashbacks, fear, loneliness, panic attacks — PTSD is the worse. It's been reported in a small minority of patients, but it can be very severe." says Cole. If doctors hear about someone having intraoperative awareness, they will try to get the person into therapy as early as possible, before memories can be embedded in a harmful or stressful way to patients. "If you were in the hospital for a week and on day two we heard that you woke up during surgery, we'd get a therapist in the same day. We always want to mitigate so we can try to reduce the severity of symptoms," Cole says.
9. It's most often caused by an equipment malfunction.
General anesthesia can either be given intravenously (where all or most is given through an IV) or more commonly as a gas, which you breathe in through a mask. If the equipment in either of these were to malfunction, and the anesthesiologist wasn't aware of it because the signal that gas is too low doesn't work, for example, then patients would stop receiving medication and start to wake up. Again, this is terrifying but rare.
"The anesthesia equipment is like an airplane," Cole says. "The anesthesiologist will do a pre-flight check and go over all equipment to make sure it works. But sometimes, that equipment can malfunction as short as an hour later so it won't show up before taking off." Likewise, there is equipment used to monitor the patient's vitals and brain activity, which can also fail to signal to doctors that the patient is waking up.
10. Less commonly, it's the physician or anesthesiologist's fault.
"Any time humans are involved, human error is always a possibility — but it’s more common that technology fails," says Cole. "Physicians and anesthesiologists are well-trained to look out for signs of awareness during surgery, which obviously includes any movement of muscles and changes in vitals." Since paralytics are often involved, doctors also closely monitor other signs like heart rate, blood pressure, tears, or brain electrical activity for any red flags. However, sometimes patients can be on medications that suppress the body's responses and inhibit the monitoring systems from effectively picking up warning signs of light anesthesia and awareness. These incidences can make it difficult to detect awareness, so physician anesthesiologists must closely watch an array of signs.
11. It is more likely to happen during surgeries that require "light" anesthesia.
Anesthesia also comes with risk factors, and can be harmful depending on the surgery or patient's risk. "Awareness can occur when there is too light of anesthesia, which we often do deliberately for high-risk situations," says Cole. According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists, high-risk surgeries include heart surgery, brain surgery, and emergency surgeries in which the patient has lost a lot of blood or they can easily go into shock. Or the patient may need a lower dose of anesthesia due to risk factors such as heart problems, obesity, a genetic factor, or being on narcotics or sedatives. "For instance, anesthesia depresses the heart, so a normal dose could be life-threatening to someone with heart problems," Cole explains.
"Sometimes you have to make a trade off," says Cole. "Would you rather have a high level of anesthesia which threatens your body's life functions, or a low level which ensures safety but increases the risks of waking up during the procedure?"
12. ...But if that's the case, your doctor will talk to you about it first.
Patients often feel better knowing that the decreased amount of anesthesia is for their own safety. "We tell the patient that there's an increased chance that you may hear some voices or fuzziness, but if it gets uncomfortable we can tell and will increase the dose," says Cole. "Patients are more understanding and happy when they understand that the risk of waking up is for their own safety."
Also, you should know that if you've had a previous incidence of awareness, that puts you at higher risk for another episode. Cole explains that in this case, doctors will spend a lot of time with the patient and anesthesiologist describing exactly what to expect, so that hopefully they won’t experience it again.
13. ALL THAT BEING SAID, the chances of this happening are slim, and medical professionals are doing everything they can to ensure that this does not happen.
According to Cole, it's always helpful to spend some time pre-operatively with the surgeon and physician anesthesiologist going over the procedure and how they'll get you through it safely and comfortably.
"I do something called 'patient engagement' and 'shared decision-making' so I can make sure the patient understands literally everything. Some patients don't want to talk about awareness because it will give them more anxiety, and they just trust us," says Cole. However, even if you aren't at risk, your doctors will be happy to answer any questions you have about anesthesia before the procedure.
It's not that it would be terribly difficult to manufacture Sarin nerve gas. The small Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult produced loads of it for attacks in Japan in the early 1990's. It's just that medieval Arabs are too stupid to handle it. They can't even do mustard gas for which the recipes are on the Internet. That saves European cities.
Home | Index of all articles