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Family: Mother killed in Syria kept many secrets

May 31st, 2013 Comments off

In this 2007 photo provided by the Mansfield family, Nicole Lynn Mansfield stands behind her grandfather Monte Mansfield. Nicole Mansfield, a Michigan mother killed during fighting in Syria, often left family and friends in dark about the details of another life _ marrying an Arab immigrant, attending a Muslim school in Detroit and taking trips to the Middle East including the one that would be her last, relatives said Friday, May 31, 2013. (AP Photo/Mansfield Family Photo)BURTON, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan mother killed during fighting in Syria often left many family members and friends in the dark about the details of another life — marrying an Arab immigrant, moving around frequently and taking trips to the Middle East, including the one that would be her last, relatives said Friday.

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Weekend Nostalgia: When Talaat Harb Street and Square were Suleiman Pasha

May 31st, 2013 Comments off
The old Suleiman Pasha Statue, pre-1954

Perhaps the Cairo Midan best known to Westerners, after Tahrir Square, is Talaat Harb, which like Tahrir is not a “square” but a circle; the street of the same name, which runs from Tahrir through Midan Talaat Harb, is also named Talaat Harb. The circle contains the famous Groppi’s tea room and other landmarks, and the Cafe Riche is just off it; it’s well-known as well as a secondary gathering place for protests in the past two years, often the starting point for marches to Tahrir. The street is one of the major downtown shopping venues.

When I first went to Cairo 40 years ago, no one called it Talaat Harb, though that was its name, and his statue stood in the center of the circle. Many Egyptians of the older generation still call it by its older name: Suleiman Pasha.  Readers of Alaa al-Aswany’s novel The Yacoubian Building (and viewers of the movie made from the book), which is set in a building on the street, will note that the characters almost invariably call the street and Midan Suleiman Pasha.

Suleiman Pasha (Col. Sève)

The name was changed in 1954, and the statue was changed.  The old name, Suleiman Pasha, honored a European, a French officer in Muhammad ‘Ali’s Army. Colonel Joseph Anthelme Sève served as a commander in the Egyptian Army and married an Egyptian; he was known as Suleiman Pasha al-Fransawi (“the Frenchman”). One of his descendants was Queen Nazli, wife of King Fuad I and mother of King Farouq. In the Nasser era he was doubly anathema: a foreigner and an ancestor of the ousted King. The statue and the name had to go.

The Midan with the Talaat Harb Statue
It was renamed in honor of Talaat Harb (Tal‘at Harb), economist and founder of the Bank of Egypt. The statue was changed as well, though the old name continued to be used by Egyptians for decades.
So what happened to the statue of Suleiman Pasha? Apparently (or so I’ve heard: the angles of the photos make it hard to be sure), it’s the same statue now on display outside the Military Museum at the Cairo Citadel, shown below.


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Romanticizing terrorists, as long as they don’t kill Americans!: "She is a problem solver who wanted to help!"

May 31st, 2013 Comments off

One of MSM/ cable’s toilets, CNN, found the American Jihadists ( who went to kill in a foreign land) fascinating. As long as she kills brown men & women, we could always shed a tear for these “misguided” souls!

“… Her niece tried to be a “problem solver,” she said.“Nicole was the type of person if she thought that something was wrong somewhere, that she could help repair it,” said her aunt.“Trouble spots,” Carole Mansfield said, “… fascinated her.”“That it was to help free the Syrians from the Syrian government and all the problems that they’re having over there,” she answered…She was just an American woman who was misguided,” Jones said. “… And it really makes me sick to my stomach that people post such horrible things.”…“And they lied to her. They misled her and they took her and brought her over there, probably paid for her ticket and everything, and they kept her there.”. …Jones thought her mother could be in Syria, fighting alongside rebels in the country’s bloody civil war.Nicole Mansfield had converted to Islam several years ago, her daughter told CNN Friday….”


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Istanbul tonight …

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"Syria: Diplomatic Code"

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“… He is clearly saying that if the missiles do reach Syria, the Israeli Air Force will attack and destroy them. But he calls it a vital issue for Israeli security, even though the missiles are purely defensive weapons, incapable of attacking Israel. “Security” in what sense?In the sense that Israel sees freedom to launch air attacks on Syria any time it feels the need as a vital element of its security policy. The S-300s would make it more dangerous to bomb Syria, so Yalon sees them as threatening Israel’s “security”. It’s an innovative use of language, to say the least…. 
And President Barack Obama most eloquently said nothing at all.He said nothing about the EU’s initiative, because it’s so confused and contradictory that it’s embarrassing to talk about it.He said nothing about the Israeli threat to attack the Russian anti-aircraft missiles because Israel is a “friend and ally,” and it’s best not to notice when its threats to attack other countries get too brazen.And he said nothing about the Russian S-300s themselves, because he is probably secretly glad that they are being sent to Syria…”


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Has the ‘Turkish Spring’ started?

May 31st, 2013 Comments off

“… Increasingly violent protests have rocked Istanbul for the fifth day. What began May 27 as a peaceful sit-in against the Turkish government’s plan to replace a small park in the centrally-located Taksim neighborhood with a shopping mall has morphed into resistance against Turkey’s growing authoritarianism, highlighted both by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an’s curtdismissal of protestor concerns, and an AKP parliamentarian’s wisecrack that some young people “are in need of gas.”Today, the Turkish police attacked protestors violently, injuring not only students but also journalists and even members of parliament. Pictures emerging from the protests have shocked Turks. CNN Istanbul correspondent Ivan Watson tweeted, “Like so many other residents of Istanbul, I got tear gassed on my way to the office. imagine NYC cops gassed Times Square on a daily basis [sic].”


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Falsely Accused Pot Mom Released in Mexico; Case Argues for Decriminalization

May 31st, 2013 Comments off

The release of Yanira Maldonado from a Mexican jail after an apparent attempt to frame her for marijuana trafficking underlines the need to end the disastrous “war on drugs” and to legalize marijuana. Maldonado only escaped a very unpleasant fate because she happened to be exonerated by a surveillance video showing her boarding a bus visibly lacking in 6 kilos of pot.

ABC News reports

Over 600,000 Americans are arrested every year on marijuana offenses, and those arrests, jailings and court sentences cost more than $10 billion every year. Roughly 50,000 people are in jail for marijuana offenses, costing another $1 billion a year. More Americans are now arrested for marijuana than for all violent crimes combined. Wouldn’t we have less crime if police were freed to go after, like, actual criminals?

All this is not to mention the ways in which the system produces injustice and corruption. Ms. Maldonado wouldn’t be the first person falsely accused by someone hoping to get a bribe or to pass blame to someone else.

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American woman killed fighting for Syrian rebels

May 31st, 2013 Comments off

WASHINGTON – A 33-year-old American woman is among three foreigners killed in Syria while fighting for rebel forces in Idlib province in the north of war ravaged Aran country, media reports said Friday.

A Syrian TV report said a British man named Ali Almanasfi was among the three foreigners killed Wednesday.

The report said the three were ambushed in their car in the flashpoint province, …
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Istanbul Park Clashes: Symbolic but Important

May 31st, 2013 Comments off

UPDATE: A court has now ordered the suspension of the development project in the park, which could either defuse or escalate tensions depending on the government’s response.

UPDATE II: An English-language live blog from the protests here.

Clashes between police and demonstrators in an Istanbul park mark the latest conflict between the ruling AKP’s party’s ambitious plans for Turkish expansion and those who oppose those policies. The demonstrators are trying to preserve Gezi Park in Taksim from government development plans. The demonstrators are fighting to preserve the green space where the government wants to reconstruct a former Ottoman-era barracks complex as a potential tourist draw. Dispersing the protesters, police announced arrests and some injuries.

The history of the site and pictures of the planned development can be found here. (Hat tip to Managing Editor Jacob Passel for this and other links.)

The AKP, capitalizing on Turkey’s recent prosperity, has been engaged in a broad range of development schemes, from building projects such as a new airport and a third bridge at Istanbul, dedicated on the anniversary of the fall of Constantinople and named for the Ottoman Sultan Selim the Grim. Critics of the AKP see the projects as a sign of creeping Islamization and the “Neo-Ottoman” policies of Prime Minister Erdogan. This article addresses some of the controversies. There is also a critique of the new construction projects here. And a photo gallery of the police raid here.

The development projects, along with such social issues as the recent restrictions on alcohol,
reflect the growing culture clashes between traditional and Islamic elements tapped by the AKP and the secular urban elites which have dominated Turkey in the past. The head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the secularist opposition, visited the demonstrators at the park earlier in the week.

Taksim is also a traditional area for public protest, and the protesters see development of the park as  a government effort to reduce protest space.
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Roger Cohen on the Leveretts’ book on Iran

May 31st, 2013 Comments off

Pretty devastating opening paragraph in Roger Cohen’s review of Flynt and Hillary Leverett’s new book on Iran:

Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett are unusual among former staffers of the CIA, the State Department, and the National Security Council in their deep affection for the Islamic Republic of Iran. This attraction, which knows few bounds, finds its apotheosis in Going to Tehran. Their stated goal is “the most objective analysis of Iranian politics.” Yet they find that Iran embraces, “more fully and openly than Turkey, the project of building a state that is simultaneously Islamic and democratic.” (The greater openness of Tehran than Istanbul should, they seem to think, be apparent to any objective analyst.) Iran’s government “of the Shi’a, by the Shi’a, and for the Shi’a,” they suggest, may well produce “a wider range of choice for Iranian voters than the United States’ two-party system offers American voters.”

Not a book you want to have out when the religious Supreme Leader of Iran has just decreed that the two top presidential candidates from outside his own network should not be allowed to run. Cohen writes a little further down: “The eerie effort to whitewash the Islamic Republic in Going to Tehran is so extreme that it would be comical if it did not stray close to obscenity.”

Ouch. 

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