United for Peace of Pierce County, WA - We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy.

ANALYSIS: Obama has one foreign policy above the table and another below

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A commentary published Monday on the ouster of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel diagnosed a fundamental problem of the Obama presidency:  --  Barack Obama's refusal to act upon his putative awareness that it is a "profoundly corrupted system" that he heads up.[1]  --  "In a time of corruption, the countervailing forces of wisdom and courage will never be found among the credentialed, but rather among the outcasts of the establishment, those who were forced to the margins because they objected to the venality, because they stood up against misguided 'group think,'" said Parry, himself a mainstream journalist until he broke with the establishment in the 1990s as a result of perspectives gained from a decade of award-winning reporting on Central America and Iran-Contra.  --  (Parry now works independently.)  --  "Obama has been unwilling -- or possibly unable -- to come to grips with this reality," Parry said.  --  "Despite his personal intelligence and rhetorical skills, Obama never has been willing to challenge people cloaked in credentials – those who went to the best schools, worked at big-name firms, won prestigious awards or held fellowships at famous think tanks."  --  "I’m told that he understands the stupidity of the modern U.S. establishment and does sometimes consult with 'realists' who offer practical advice," Parry added.  --  "But he does so virtually in secret, with what politicians like to call 'deniability.'"  --  As a result, "Obama operates one foreign policy above the table -- pounding his fist along with the neocons against Syria, Iran, and Russia -- and another foreign policy below the table, dealing with adversaries in ways necessary to confront global challenges, such as collaborating with Iran to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and with Russia to address challenges with Iran, Syria, Libya, and elsewhere."  --  As for the purported subject of his piece, entitled "Possible Motives for Ousting Hagel," Parry admits he hasn't a clue....

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COMMENTARY: 'Iraq no longer exists'

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The United States is determined to save Iraq.  --  Unfortunately, as an article by Andrew Bacevich, currently at Columbia University, pointed out on Monday, "Iraq no longer exists."[1]  --  But that won't stop the U.S. national security state from spending untold billions on an effort to save it.  --  Bacevich added five more untrue pillars of U.S. foreign policy:  (1) "The presence of U.S. forces in the Islamic world contributes to regional stability and enhances American influence."  --  (2) "The Persian Gulf constitutes a vital U.S. national security interest."  --  (3) "Egypt and Saudi Arabia are valued and valuable American allies."  --  (4) "The interests of the United States and Israel align."  --  (5)  "Terrorism poses an existential threat that the United States must defeat."  --  None of these are true, either....

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NEWS: Obama issues secret order, ensuring US troops will fight on in Afghanistan

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The New York Times revealed Friday that President Obama has acceded to "excessive Pentagon pressure" and issued a secret order going against his earlier claims to be ending any combat role for U.S. troops in Afghanistan and "ensur[ing] American troops will have a direct role in fighting in the war-ravaged country for at least another year."[1]  --  The pressure from the Pentagon is behind the order, some military officers call it "half-baked and made with an eye to domestic politics," Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt.  --  COMMENT:  Strange are the ways of the Times.  --  The text of its article makes no comment on the order's secrecy, only implying it, yet the URL for the article contains the expression "in secret," and every other newspaper and agency picking up the story are emphasizing the order's secrecy.  --  Mazzetti and Schmidt are also quite vague about the date of the order, saying only that the decision to issue it was made only "in recent weeks" and after "a lengthy and heated debate that laid bare the tension inside the Obama administration between two often-competing imperatives:  the promise Mr. Obama made to end the war in Afghanistan, versus the demands of the Pentagon that American troops be able to successfully fulfill their remaining missions in the country."  --  Mazzetti and Schmidt did not, apparently, lay eyes on the text of the order; the story's sources are "officials with knowledge of the decision." ...

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COMMENTARY: What, in the name of God?

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The outrages perpetrated by the Islamic State are making vivid and direct forms of speech that have long been dead metaphors in the modern era.  --  The exclamation "What, in the name of God?" is one of them, as Leonard Pitts Jr. pointed out in a column this week.  --  "Ordinarily, it is only rhetorical, something you might say if you came home to find police cars parked in front of your house.  --  But it takes on a painful literalness following the latest video from the Islamic State, or ISIS, the barbarian army of extremists that has swept through Syria and Iraq."[1]  --  Pitts commented on the beheading of Peter Kassig, an Iraq war veteran who had devoted himself to humanitarian work.  --  Kassig even converted to Islam, taking the name Abdul-Rahman, but that made no difference to Islamic State illuminati.  --  But what really impressed Pitts was the dignity and elevation of the actions and statements of Peter Kassig's parents, Paul and Ed Kassig.  --  "His mother said with an assurance that lifted you as tides lift boats, --  'Our hearts are battered, but they will mend.  --  The world is broken, but it will be healed in the end and good will prevail as the one God of many names will prevail.'  --  His father asked for prayer.  --  He said the family would 'mourn, cry, and yes, forgive.'" ...

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 November 2014 21:07 Read more...
 

NEWS: Dempsey predicts 3- to 4-year war against ISIS

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Speaking at a conference in the nation's capital on Wednesday, U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, predicted that the war against the Islamic State would be a "protracted three- to four-year campaign," Military.com reported.[1]  --  "When discussing Iraq, Dempsey said, 'This is my third shot at Iraq, and that's probably a poor choice of words,'" Brendan McGarry said.  --  The 62-year-old general has a master's degree in literature from Duke University (with a thesis on the Celtic Twilight), and he should know better than to make such vacuous statements.  --  His crystal-gazing can be compared with that of a former secretary of defense, Leon Panetta, who opined in early October that the U.S. is now involved in "a kind of thirty-year war." ...

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 November 2014 07:25 Read more...
 

NEWS: Kurds say ISIS defeat imminent in Kobani (LA Times)

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Kurdish forces claim they are on the verge of defeating Islamic State militants in the battle for Kobani, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.[1]  --  Intensive U.S. bombing in recent days enabled "their fighters to seize several strategic hills from Islamic State militants," Umar Farooq said....

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NEWS & COMMENT: Congress failing to face responsibility for war on ISIS

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The U.S. has been at war against the Islamic State since August and has spent about a billion dollars on the enterprise.  --  But apart from a bill to aid "appropriately vetted elements of the Syrian opposition and other appropriately vetted Syrian groups and individuals," Congress, which under the Constitution holds the war power (Article I: "The Congress shall have the Power . . . To declare War"), has been inert.  --  On Thursday, Stars and Stripes reported that "President Barack Obama’s decision to reverse course and seek a congressional authorization for the war against the Islamic State has so far served only to reignite criticism of his entire military strategy against the extremists."[1]  --  On Friday, Politico said that "There appears to be no consensus among either party’s members about what an AUMF should say, what it should prohibit or how long it should last."[2]  --  Earlier in the week, Sen. Rand Paul pointed out the the war is now, in fact, illegal, quoting a Yale law prof:  "Yale Professor Bruce Ackerman puts it succinctly:  --  'The war against the Islamic State is now illegal.  --  The War Powers Resolution of 1973 gave President Obama 60 days to gain consent from Congress and required him to end "hostilities" within 30 days if he failed to do so.  --  This 90-day clock expired this week.'  --  And yet, there’s been no consent, and no end to the fighting.  --  I believe the president must come to Congress to begin a war.   --  I also believe the War Powers Act is misunderstood;  --  President Obama acted without true constitutional authority even before the 90 days expired, since we were not under attack at that time."[3]  --  COMMENT:  This absurd situation is another demonstration of the decrepitude of constitutionalism in the United States after several generations of the imperial presidency....

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NEWS: Dempsy says he's considering sending US combat troops back to Iraq, asks for 'patience'

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Eleven and a half years after the invasion of Iraq, Gen. Martin Dempsey "Dempsey pleaded for 'strategic patience' with a U.S. war strategy expected to last for years" as he told a House committee he was "considering" throwing U.S. combat troops into the battle against the Islamic State, the London Guardian reported Thursday.[1]  --  In other news, ISIS has released a tape purporting to demonstrate that the caliph is alive and well.  --  "In a seventeen-minute audio recording released online on Thursday, which could not be independently verified, ISIS leader Baghdadi cited Obama’s deployment orders for an additional 1,500 troops in Iraq last week as evidence that the U.S. campaign was failing," Spencer Ackerman and Raya Jalabi said....

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BACKGROUND: ISIS hated in Mosul, but 'no good option for the Iraqi Sunni community' (P. Cockburn)

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In Mosul, ISIS is confiscating houses and preemptively eliminating those from whom it expects resistance, Patrick Cockburn reported in Monday's London Independent.[1]  --  His report is based on testimony from people interviewed in Irbil, in the area controlled by the Kurdish Regional Government.  --  Surprisingly, pensioners in Mosul are still receiving payments from Baghdad....

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NEWS & COMMENT: ISIS spokesman said to wish al-Baghdadi 'speedy recovery'

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AFP reported Sunday that Iraq is "investigating whether Islamic State (ISIL) chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in air strikes by U.S.-led coalition warplanes targeting the group's leaders," but an Iraqi official said that so far there was "no accurate information available."[1]  --  The chief of staff of British armed forces said that "it will take some days to have absolute confirmation."  --  The London Independent noted that al-Baghdadi is known as the "invisible sheikh" and that "even his own fighters reportedly do not speak to him without the leader wearing a mask to hide himself," so such confirmation will be difficult to obtain.[2]  --  On Sunday evening (Mideast time) Haaretz reported that "A Tweeter account purportedly operated by ISIS spokesperson Mohammed al-Adnani wished the group's leader a 'speedy recovery,' but others question the account's authenticity."[3]  --  The tweet reads, according to Haaretz:  "Do you think the Caliphate would end with the Caliph's death?  We announce leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is in well, and wish him a speedy recovery."  --  (Counters will note that this contains 145 characters, and is presumably a translation, and a poor one at that:  "is in well"?)  --  COMMENT:  In these follow-up reports, the fact that CENTCOM spoke of air strikes near Mosul and the report about al-Baghdadi being "critically wounded" of the town of al-Qaim, 200 miles distant from Mosul, is never mentioned....

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NEWS: -- Rumor: ISIS leader 'critically wounded' by US air strike

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In a Friday evening air strike, the U.S. apparently attempted to kill the caliph of the Islamic State.  --  The London Guardian reported Saturday that CENTCOM later confirmed "that coalition aircraft did conduct a series of air strikes yesterday evening [Friday] in Iraq against what was assessed to be a gathering of ISIL [ISIS] leaders near Mosul.  --  We cannot confirm if ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was among those present.”[1]  --  Russia Today reported late Saturday that "Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a self-proclaimed as caliph of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (formerly ISIL/ISIS) was 'critically wounded' during a U.S.-led air operation in the Iraqi town of al-Qaim, tribal sources told Al Arabiya News Channel."[2]  --  The town of al-Qaim, though, is about 200 miles distant from Mosul.  --  The New York Times qualified the reports of the caliph's being critically wounded as "rumors," and added that "The discrepancy in the reported locations could not be immediately explained."[3]  --  The Al Arabiya report mentioned above is posted below.[4]...

Last Updated on Sunday, 09 November 2014 07:41 Read more...
 

NEWS: US sending more troops to Iraq -- 'with what porpoise?,' as Lewis Carroll would say

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On Friday the New York Times said that the fact that the announcement of 1,500 more U.S. troops being sent back to Iraq came three days after midterm elections "raised the question" whether the administration "decided to wait until after the elections to minimize further damage to Democratic candidates."[1]  --   "[S]enior administration officials denied that Mr. Obama waited until after the elections to announce the deployment so as not to alarm an already skittish electorate."  --  It's sheer coincidence that it was just after midterm elections that Iraqi forces "reached the point where they need additional help and guidance," according to Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, and that the administration needed to make a request for $5 billion, which "will be presented to Congress during the lame-duck session that begins next week."  --  Further illustrating the administration's clear-sightedness and sincerity, "Officials said the decision to send additional troops was based on what they said was legal authority the president already has from Congress."  --  "But they said the president wanted a new authorization from Congress for continuing American military action in Iraq and Syria, which Mr. Obama has said will last into the presidency of his successor."  --  Here's Adm. Kirby's story, and he's sticking to it:  "'We did spend a lot of money and effort training the Iraqi Army,' Admiral Kirby said.  --  'When we left them in 2011, we left them capable.'  He said the Maliki government 'squandered' the American military’s training of Iraqi troops, but expressed optimism that things will be different now.  --  'This is a completely different game,' he said, pointing to a recent visit by Mr. Abadi to Anbar Province to engage Sunni leaders in the fight against the Islamic State."  --  COMMENT:  And, Adm. Kirby might have added, this completely different game is a very difficult one, where the players all play at once, without waiting for turns, quarreling all the while, while the Caliph stamps about, shouting "Off with his head!" about once in a minute.  --  And it's a game where onlookers are beginning to feel very uneasy: even if they themselves have not as yet had any dispute with the Caliph, they know it might happen at any minute.  --  "And then," think they, "what would become of us?"  --  "They're dreadfully fond of beheading people here:  the great wonder is, that there's any one left alive!" ...

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NEWS & COMMENT: 'Bush-era throwbacks' elected to Congress

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The rise in Republican ranks of Joni Ernst, elected senator from Iowa on Tuesday in a 52%-44% victory over her Democratic opponent, "is a signal that the backlash against George W. Bush, both inside and outside the Republican Party, is ending," The Week reported.[1]  --  Other 'Bush-era throwbacks' elected to the Senate on Tuesday include Cory Gardner in Colorado and Tom Cotton in Arkansas.  --  In the House, neocon Elise Stefanik, 30, became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress by winning an upstate-New York seat.  --  "The victory of Senate hawks has also put NSA reforms and the CIA torture report in serious doubt, with Senate Intelligence Committee member Mark Udall (D-CO) losing his seat," Jason Ditz of Antiwar.com said.[2]   --  "Udall was one of the most public critics of government surveillance and intelligence community abuses, and the committee’s pending reshuffle with more pro-surveillance, pro-torture figures could spell the end to a push for reform." ...

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NEWS: Pentagon denies obvious: US war on ISIS in disarray

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Denying the obvious is the Pentagon's approach to the strategic disarray in which its war on the Islamic State finds itself, the London *Guardian* reported Tuesday.[1]  --  The collapse of key proxy groups, emerging alliances among enemy groups, and a near-exclusive concentration on a goal (Kobani) that is proclaimed to be peripheral and of no great importance -- none of these matter much, according to the Pentagon's chief spokesman, Adm. John Kirby.  --  But the facts suggest otherwise, Spencer Ackerman said:  "Beyond Kobani, the U.S. war effort, which has already morphed from its initial summer formations, has begun to look dire."  --  And more confusion lies ahead, since Republican control of the Senate after Tuesday's vote will mean that "John McCain will probably become chairman of the influential armed services committee.  --  A vociferous critic of Obama’s foreign policy generally and his campaign against ISIS in particular, McCain favors expanding the war’s aims." ...

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NEWS: Two US-backed groups fall to al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, reportedly with help from ISIS

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U.S. strategy in Syria encountered major setbacks on Saturday.  --  McClatchy reported tentatively on Saturday that ISIS appeared to have combined with al-Nusra to drive Jamal Maarouf (or Marouf), the leader of the Syrian Revolutionary Front and the most prominent U.S.-backed Syrian rebel, from his own home town.[1]  --  "If Islamic State fighters in fact joined Nusra in the attack, it will have major repercussions for the war in Syria, for the two groups have been divided since April 2013, when Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the Iraq-based leader, announced the creation of the Islamic State," Mousab Alhamadee and Roy Gutman said.  --  "The rise of Nusra, and its apparent collaboration with the Islamic State, casts a harsh light on the U.S. approach to Syria, which has been to bomb the Islamic State, and ignore the internal conflict between rebel forces and the Assad regime, which gave rise to the radical Islamists."  --  On Sunday the London Telegraph also reported on Maarouf's defeat, adding that on Saturday night another important U.S. ally, Harakat Hazam, "Hazm surrendered military bases and weapons supplies to Jabhat al-Nusra, when the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria stormed villages they controlled in northern Idlib province."[2]  --  "The U.S. and its allies were relying on Harakat Hazm and the Syrian Revolutionary Front to become part of a ground force that would attack the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)," Ruth Sherlock said.  --  "For the last six months the Hazm movement, and the SRF through them, had been receiving heavy weapons from the U.S.-led coalition, including GRAD rockets and TOW anti-tank missiles."  --  "For the United States, the weapons they supplied falling into the hands of al-Qaeda is a realization of a nightmare." ...

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NEWS & BACKGROUND: White House downplays Hagel's memo to Rice

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On Friday the White House downplayed the significance of Thursday's report that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel had written a memo to National Security Adviser Susan Rice criticizing the ambiguity of the administration's policy toward Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.[1]  --  BACKGROUND:  Hagel's two-page memo was first mentioned in a front-page story published in Thursday's New York Times that characterized the United States as "lurching from crisis to crisis."[2]  --  According to that story, the existence of Hagel's memo was revealed by his own staff in order to defend him from charges that he contributes little to policy deliberations.  --  Mark Landler's piece portrayed the entire administration as on the defensive with respect to charges that it was slow to react to the Islamic State and has stumbled in its response to the Ebola epidemic.  --  On Thursday, a DoD official confirmed the existence of Hagel's memo to Rice, AFP reported, saying it was sent "last week."[3]  --  CNN also confirmed the memo's existence, calling it "highly private, and very blunt," written while Hagel was on a trip to Latin America to talke about climate change.[4]  --  Reuters said the memo "suggested that the future governance of Syria needs to be at the core of American actions."[5] ...

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NEWS: Lower profile to elude ISIS attacks, Pentagon tells employees

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On Wednesday the Washington Times was the first to report that the Pentagon Force Protection Agency has told employees and their families to vary routines and hide evidence of links to the military in order to reduce the danger of attacks "directed or inspired by the Islamic States of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)," [1]  --  Employees were advised to "alter their ways of life" in eleven ways, Rowan Scarborough said.  --  Pieces of advice included "Remove decals and other identifiers from clothing and vehicles" and "Do not post any opposition to terrorist groups."  --  Employees were advised:  "It is important that you ensure all members of your family are made aware of this valuable information so they not only protect themselves, but also become an integral part of the overall community antiterrorism effort." ...

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BACKGROUND: Syria crisis straining US-Turkish alliance to breaking point

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The U.S.-Turkish alliance has deteriorated to the point that "some are starting to question whether the two countries still can be considered allies at all," the Washington Post's Liz Sly reported Wednesday.[1]  --  " 'The Syria crisis is exposing long-unspoken, unpleasant truths about the relationship that were put to one side,' said Bulent Aliriza, a Turkish analyst with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.  . . . 'There are growing doubts over whether the U.S. and Turkey share the same priorities and even whether they share the same goals.' " ...

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COMMENTARY: US is indeed No. 1... in violence & preparations for violence

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"American politicians are fond of telling their audiences that the United States is the greatest country in the world," historian Lawrence Wittner observed last week.[1]  --  But about the only area where this assertion is true is in violence and preparations for violence.  --  "Ultimately, it’s a matter of priorities.  --  When most U.S. government discretionary spending goes for war and preparations for war, it should come as no surprise that the United States emerges No. 1 among nations in its capacity for violence and falls far behind other nations in providing for the well-being of its people.  --  Americans might want to keep this in mind as their nation embarks upon yet another costly military crusade." ...

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NEWS: Revenge killings after Shiite militias & Iraqi government forces retake town from ISIS

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On Saturday, south of Baghdad, Shiite militias helping Iraqi government forces retake Jurf al-Sakhar from ISIS control summarily executed some of their captured prisoners, Reuters reported Sunday.[1]  --  "Asked why government forces had not buried the bodies of men who were killed a day before, an Iraqi army colonel said:  --  'Those terrorists do not deserve to be buried.  --  Let the dogs eat their flesh.  --  Many of our men were killed by them.' "  --  "As Iraqi government soldiers and militias savored their victory and were taking photographs of the bodies, mortars fired by Islamic State fighters who had fled to orchards to the west rained down on the town," Reuters said.  --  "The blast hit the militiamen, killing dozens and scattering body parts."  --  Iraqi News reported that 140 ISIS fighters were killed and 60 wounded in Jurf al-Sakhar.[2]  --  The National Iraqi News Agency reported that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited the town on Saturday after it was retaken, and made a speech in there in the evening.[3,4] ...

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BACKGROUND: Times publishes gruesome account of ISIS hostages' ordeal

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In a remarkable piece of investigative journalism, the Sunday New York Times published a grim 4,600-word article about the ordeal of the two dozen Western hostages who have fallen into the hands of the Islamic State, with a graphical timeline showing which hostages have been executed and which were turned over to their governments after ransom payments that averaged 2 million euros ($2.5 million).[1]  --  The story's focus is James Foley, the American hostage who was beheaded in August.  --  The Times reports that Foley converted to Islam during captivity, but was nevertheless "routinely beaten and subjected to waterboarding."  --  BACKGROUND: The author of this remarkable piece, Rukmini Callimachi, is a 41-year-old Bucharest-born journalist and poet with degrees from Dartmouth and Oxford who before working for the Times was West Africa bureau chief for the Associated Press, according to her Twitter account, where on Saturday she tweeted:  "Since June, I have been researching the hell hostages held in ISIS' underground gulag endured." ...

Last Updated on Sunday, 26 October 2014 07:30 Read more...
 
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Meeting schedule

United for Peace of Pierce County meets 7:00-8:30 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of every month at First United Methodist Church in Tacoma (621 Tacoma Avenue South).

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