20 Oct

Travel Day

New Postings will be delayed.

19 Oct

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


all countries


Synod On the Themes of Family Is Held At Vatican

Pope Francis the loser as hardline bishops veto gay-friendly statements

Final report of Roman Catholic extraordinary synod on the family removes talk of ‘welcoming’ gay people

Pope Francis appeared on Saturday night to have lost out to powerful conservatives in the Roman Catholic church after bishops scrapped language that had been hailed as a historic warming of attitudes towards gay people.

In the final report of an extraordinary synod on the family which has exposed deep divides in the church hierarchy, there is no mention – as there had been in a draft version – of the “gifts and qualities” gay people can offer. Nor is there any recognition of the “precious support” same-sex partners can give each other.


Hong Kong protests police

A protester in Hong Kong wearing goggles and carrying an umbrella to defend against pepper spray stands in front of a line of police. Photograph: Chris Mcgrath/Getty Images

Hong Kong protesters and police clash for second night

Fears efforts to defuse tensions and arrange dialogue with government could be undermined by further violence


Sorious Samura

Journalist Sorious Samura says people are dying in greater numbers than we know. Photograph: Sophia Evans

Ebola deaths in Liberia are ‘far higher than reported’

Film-maker Sorious Samura, recently returned from Liberia, says Ebola is still not under control, with cultural practices and data problems masking the true extent of the epidemic



New Hampshire 19min ago

Arrests and teargas as New Hampshire pumpkin festival descends into chaos

Police in riot gear make at least 14 arrests as Keene State College president says students will be held accountable

Turkey 30min ago

Turkey will not cooperate in US support for Kurds in Syria, says Erdogan

President calls Syrian Kurdish group ‘a terrorist organisation’ as US launches further air strikes against Isis at Kobani

Afghanistan 1hr 34min ago

An artist in Afghanistan: ‘To tell the story, you’ve got to take risks’

Arabella Dorman will exhibit paintings and drawings she believes tell the hidden story of life on and around the frontline

Shaker Aamer 17hr 43min ago

United States accused of misleading British minister over treatment of Shaker Aamer in Guantánamo Bay

18 Oct 2014: Mark Townsend: United States accused of misleading British minister over treatment of Shaker Aamer in Guantánamo Bay

Ebola 18hr 53min ago

Texas hospital mounts ‘#PresbyProud’ fightback as Ebola criticism mounts

18 Oct 2014: Dallas hospital where nurses were infected engages PR firm as nurses union chief says: ‘There has been no leadership’

Pope Francis 21hr 40min ago

Conservative US cardinal demoted by pope, he tells Buzzfeed

18 Oct 2014: Raymond Burke had clashed with Francis on social issues, but synod report passes without landmark welcome to gays



handshake shadow

‘Violent’ Muslims? ‘Amoral’ atheists? It’s time to stop shouting and start talking to each other

Reza Aslan and Chris Stedman: The logic of blanket statements falls apart when you’re confronted with diversity

Lost in the venomous arguments that have recently been flying back and forth between Muslims and atheists – on HBO and on op-ed pages, in the United States and beyond – is just how much these two marginalized, underrepresented groups have in common.

According to a Pew poll conducted this year, Muslims and atheists are the two least favorably viewed religious or ethical groups in the US. Both communities are severely underrepresented in the general population – roughly 2% of Americans identify as atheists, compared to 1% for Muslims. Both face rising levels of animosity from the general public. And both tend to be defined by the loudest voices within their communities.

The media may be saturated with images of Islamic terrorists and suicide bombers, but a 2011 Gallup survey concluded that Muslims are actually more likely than any other religious or ethical group in America to reject violence against civilians. At the same time, the vocally “anti-theist” atheists who dominate the airwaves and the bestseller lists may get all the press, but a 2013 study from the University of Tennessee indicated that less than 15% of atheists fall into the “anti-theist” category………………………..


19 Oct

Afghanistan & Iraq Occupation Casualties & News


White House exempts Syria airstrikes from tight standards on civilian deaths

Afghan girl

Photographer Muhammed Muheisen took an impressive series of portraits of Afghan refugee children in Islamabad. Here is six-year-old Laiba Hazrat in a slum on the outskirts of the city.

Other Occupation News

One civilian killed, several shops destroyed in a suicide bombing in Jalalabad.

Suicide attack on convoy of Afghan National Army and police in Helmand results in casualties, with conflicting accounts of 2 or 4 deaths of police officers. Five soldiers are also injured.

National Directorate of Security says that Taliban leader Abul Bara Al-Kuwaiti is killed in an operation in Nangarhar. They claim Kuwaiti had “ties to the family” of Ayman al-Zawahiri, whatever that means. (Just as a reminder, Zawahiri, Osama bin-Laden’s former second-in-command and current titular leader of the original al-Qaeda organization, is living in Pakistan under the protection of Pakistani security, putative allies of the U.S. No, I don’t understand it either.)

Missiles fired from Pakistan injure 1 woman and destroy 5 houses in Kunar province.

Taliban besiege Gizab district, Uruzgan, blocking all routes into the capital. (Gizab is a largely rural area with a population of about 75,000.) “‘Most of the schools in the district have been closed,” [an anonymous source] said. “If a military operation is not launched in Gizab shortly, the Taliban will take full control of the district,” he warned the government.”

NDS says it foiled a suicide attack plot in Faryab.

Much attention of late to Anand Gopal’s blistering indictment of the U.S. in Afghanistan, No Good Men Among the Living. Hereis the New York Times review by Kim Barker. Excerpt:

It is a devastating, well-honed prosecution detailing how our government bungled the initial salvo in the so-called war on terror, ignored attempts by top Taliban leaders to surrender, trusted the wrong people and backed a feckless and corrupt Afghan regime. . .

Gopal shows how the Americans messed things up from the beginning. Civilian casualties and night raids bred resentment. The United States also backed the same warlords responsible for atrocities during the ’90s. In the war’s early years, there was no rehabilitation for a former Talib, no re-entry program, no probation, no real way to join the new government. For leaders of the Taliban, unlike other Afghans with a bloody past, there was no way out — except to run or hide.

The American military was also naïve about how things worked in the country. Afghan informants exacted revenge against rivals by calling in raids. Gopal describes how one tribal elder was so successful in uncovering official corruption that he was branded a Taliban spy, which was enough to get him banished to Guantánamo Bay.

10/18/14 Fars: Scores of ISIL Terrorists Killed in Iraq’s Samarra City

10/18/14 middle-east-online: Kurds repulse new jihadist attempt to cut off Syria town

10/18/14 AFP: US slams IS with 25 new air strikes in Iraq, Syria

10/18/14 KUNA: Iraqi parliament approves Interior, Defense ministers

10/18/14 LATimes: In Iraq, Yazidis seeking refuge at holy site feel helpless, abandoned

Afghanistan Occupation Casualties, Exclusive of Civilians


U. S. Casualties Total To Date:Killed: 2349

Recently Identified Color denotes today’s confirmation:

Stephen Byus, 39, of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, a member of the Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime in Columbus, Ohio, working as a supply specialist, and assigned to the Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan while deployed…died Sept. 16, in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered from an enemy attack.



Spc. Brian K. Arsenault, 28, of Northborough, Massachusetts, died Sept. 4, in Ghazni, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when his unit was engaged by enemy small-arms fire. Arsenault was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

.Deaths in Afghanistan: A look at the faces of American lives lost


 Afghanistan Occupation Confirmed U.S Casualties – Since June 1, 2009

Iraq Occupation Casualties, Exclusive of Civilians


U. S. Casualties Total To Date:Killed: 4487

Recently Identified Color denotes today’s confirmation


Deaths in Iraq: A look at the faces of American lives lost

IIraq Occupation Confirmed U.S Casualties – Since June 1, 2009

Soldiers and families in need of crisis assistance can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Trained consultants are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and can be contacted by dialing 1-800-273-TALK1-800-273-TALK (8255) or by visiting their website at .The Military Crisis Line offers free and confidential support to service members in crisis or anyone who knows a service member who is. The service is staffed by caring, qualified responders from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), many who have served in the military themselves. Support is offered through the crisis line, online chat, and text-messaging services for all service members (active, National Guard and reserve) and veterans 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year by visiting the Military Crisis Line website at ; Online Chat at: ; sending a text to: 838255 or calling toll free at: 1-800-273-82551-800-273-8255, Press 1; in Europe Dial: 00800 1273 8255 or DSN 118. Services are available even if members are not registered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or enrolled in VA health care.The Army’s comprehensive list of Suicide Prevention Program information is located at . Information about the Army’s Ready and Resilient campaign is located at . Army leaders can access current health promotion guidance in the revised Army Regulation 600-63 (Health Promotion) at: and in Army Pamphlet 600-24 (Health Promotion, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention) at .Suicide prevention training resources for soldiers, leaders, Department of the Army civilians and family members can be accessed at (requires Army Knowledge Online access to download materials). Information about Military OneSource is located at or by dialing the toll-free number 1-800-342-96471-800-342-9647 for those residing in the continental U.S. Overseas personnel should refer to the Military OneSource web site for dialing instructions for their specific location. Information about the Army’s Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Program (CSF2) is located at .The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) Outreach Center can be contacted at 1-866-966-10201-866-966-1020, via electronic mail at and at . The website for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is , and the Suicide Prevention Resource Council site is found at

18 Oct

Weekend Enjoyment

Father goes into baby crib * The Baby Whisperer

By  Nunzio Raso

Morning jam with my lil man

By Dominik Hungr


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