American Spectator – Lo and behold, it seems that the media itself has a domestic violence problem. Ten cases discovered at first Google. Which is twice as many, to be specific, as the five cases that have had the media in such a frenzy over domestic violence in the National Football League.
Where are these ten cases to be found? Two cases at ESPN, with the rest spread out over affiliates of ABC, CBS, NBC and, yes, the New York Times. And there are others for television stations not affiliated with the major networks. With all this massive focus on what the Wall Street Journal calls “moral preening” in the media about domestic violence in the NFL — isn’t it a tad curious that the same “moral preening” is absent, that the camera never swings around to the media itself?
Five cases in the NFL have launched this media uproar, accompanied by an abundance of moral posturing. There has been no hesitation to spotlight the players named in those five cases: Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens, Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings, Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers, Jonathan Dwyer of the Arizona Cardinals, and Ray McDonald of the San Francisco 49ers.
Not satisfied with simply reporting these five cases, the media has used them to paint the entire NFL as a veritable athletic Evil Empire of domestic abuse. Zeroing in like a laser on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and various team owners or coaches as so many major and minor Darth Vaders.
But we find accounts of journalists arrested for domestic violence pop up precisely as they do with the NFL — in isolated accounts across the country. The difference? For some curious reason the media does not take all these stories and tie them together to cast a shadow of doubt and suspicion on the entire media.
So let’s go to Mr. Google for a look at domestic violence in the media. Instead of naming names, I’ll simply give the network involved and provide links to news accounts from the media itself. Names at this point are irrelevant. In the case of the NFL the media likes to insist there is a pattern of abuse, so we’ll focus on the pattern. There’s nothing secret here — no purloined court documents or leaked scoops.
Fox News – The United States, joined by five Arab allies, launched an intense campaign of airstrikes, bombings and cruise-missile attacks against the Islamic State and another militant group in Syria Monday night – marking the first U.S. military intervention in Syria since the start of that country’s civil war in 2011.
U.S. Central Command (Centcom) said in a statement released early Tuesday that 14 Islamic State targets were hit, including the group’s fighters, training camps, headquarters and command-and-control facilities, and armed vehicles. The operation involved a combination of fighter jets, bombers, Predator drones and Tomahawk missiles launched from the Red Sea and Persian Gulf.
“We’re going to do what’s necessary to take the fight to this terrorist group,” President Obama said Tuesday, before traveling to New York for meetings at the U.N. He cautioned that the effort “will take time.”
The strikes in Syria “destroyed or damaged” multiple targets, according to the U.S. military, which reported “all aircraft safely exited the strike areas.”
The mission was not limited to hitting Islamic State positions. Centcom said that U.S. aircraft also struck eight targets associated with another terrorist group called the Khorasan Group, made of up Al Qaeda veterans. Those strikes, near the northwestern Syrian city of Aleppo, targeted training camps, a munitions production facility, a communication building and command-and-control facilities.
Centcom said the Khorasan Group was involved in “imminent attack plotting against the United States and Western interests.”
The military strikes come less than two weeks after Obama, on Sept. 10, authorized U.S. airstrikes inside Syria as part of a broad campaign to root out the militants. The strikes ostensibly put the United States, for now, on the same side as Bashar Assad, the Syrian strongman whose ouster Obama once sought — though the Assad regime was not involved in Monday’s strikes.
Syria’s Foreign Ministry told the Associated Press that the U.S. informed Syria’s envoy to the U.N. that “strikes will be launched against the terrorist Daesh group in Raqqa.” The statement used an Arabic name to refer to the Islamic State group, which is more commonly known as ISIS or ISIL.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki made clear in a statement Tuesday that the U.S. “did not request the regime’s permission” and had warned the Syrian government “not to engage U.S. aircraft.”
“We did not coordinate our actions with the Syrian government,” she said.
U.S. officials said that the airstrikes began around 8:30 p.m. ET, and were conducted by the U.S., Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. The first wave of strikes finished about 90 minutes later, though the operation was expected to have lasted several hours.
“We believe we hit, largely, everything we were aiming at,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby told Fox News. Kirby said the military made the decision to strike early Monday.
The operation involved 47 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles launched from the USS Arleigh Burke and USS Philippine Sea. Officials told Fox News that B-1 bombers, F-16 and F-18 fighters, and Predator drones were also used. The F-18s flew missions off the USS George H.W. Bush in the Persian Gulf.
Reuters – The United Nation’s civil aviation body, currently wrestling with how to help airlines maintain safety over conflict zones, is taking first steps toward protection for commercial vessels in space.
Commercial space travel took a big leap this week after the U.S. space agency NASA awarded a combined $6.8 billion to Boeing and Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, to build commercially owned and operated “space taxis” to fly astronauts to the International Space Station. The NASA contract allows Boeing to sell rides to tourists; SpaceX already planned to offer trips to tourists, but did not say if it would fly tourists on its NASA missions.
“We’re starting to look at (suborbital space travel) more closely,” said a representative on the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) governing council who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Montreal-based ICAO will hold its first conference on issues related to commercial space travel in early 2015 and will discuss whether it should expand its governance to include oversight of suborbital space travel.
Newsweek – Five days before New Zealand’s general election, a group containing some of the world’s most prominent whistleblowers launched an attack on Prime Minister John Key, at a panel event, branded the “Moment of Truth”, in Auckland today.
The three-hour event was headed by Kim Dotcom, born Kim Schmitz, an internet entrepreneur most famous for setting up file-sharing site MegaUpload, and founder of New Zealand’s Internet Party, an organisation which advocates for less surveillance, copyright reform and cheaper internet.
Dotcom, along with journalist Glenn Greenwald, Julian Assange of Wikileaks, and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who was billed as a ‘surprise guest’, expounded on revelations that the New Zealand government worked to implement a mass surveillance system against its citizens. Owing to ongoing extradition requests, Snowden and Assange both appeared via videolink.
Most of the discussion focused on allegations of unlawful monitoring. Snowden opened his speech with a claim that the NSA was undertaking mass surveillance programs against New Zealanders, and vouched for the existence of at least two NSA facilities in the country that would be known to John Key. Members of the panel also drew attention to Dotcom’s particular situation.
“We share the same prosecutor, so I understand what is going on there, on a very personal level,” Julian Assange said of the entrepreneur.
“[The United States government] is trying to apply US law in as many countries as possible, applying their law in New Zealand to coerce and pluck out people to other states.”
“When you are able to control their police forces you have succeeded in annexing that country,” Assange added.
Yet the planned showpiece of the event was conspicuous in its absence. Dotcom had told the New Zealand Herald that he would be presenting “absolutely concrete” proof of Key’s collaboration with American security forces to the Auckland audience. However, the evidence never materialised.
Daniel Pipes NRO – In a televised address on how to address the Islamic State this evening, President Barack Obama declared the organization variously known as ISIS or ISIL to be “not Islamic.”
In making this preposterous claim, Obama joins his two immediate predecessors in pronouncing on what is not Islamic. Bill Clinton called the Taliban treatment of women and children “a terrible perversion of Islam.” George W. Bush deemed that 9/11 and other acts of violence against innocents “violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith.”
None of the three has any basis for such assertions. To state the obvious: As non-Muslims and politicians, rather than Muslims and scholars, they are in no position to declare what is Islamic and what is not. As Bernard Lewis, a leading American authority of Islam, notes: “It is surely presumptuous for those who are not Muslims to say what is orthodox and what is heretical in Islam.”
Indeed, Obama compounds his predecessors’ errors and goes further: Clinton and Bush merely described certain actions (treatment of women and children, acts of violence against innocents) as un-Islamic, but Obama has dared to declare an entire organization (and quasi-state) to be “not Islamic.”
The only good thing about this idiocy? At least it’s better than the formulation by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (known as CAIR) which has the nerve to call the Islamic State “anti-Islamic.”
In the end, though, neither U.S. presidents nor Islamist apologists fool people. Anyone with eyes and ears realizes that the Islamic State, like the Taliban and al-Qaeda before it, is 100 percent Islamic. And most Westerners, as indicated by detailed polling in Europe, do have eyes and ears. Over time, they are increasingly relying on common sense to conclude that the group is indeed profoundly Islamic.
New York Times – If you had told someone in 2012 that in just two years the eurozone would remain bonded together but the United Kingdom might not, they would have thought you insane. But here we are.
It’s been a good three centuries, but now Scotland may want out of the United Kingdom.
The stakes are enormous for Scotland, and quite high for the rest of Britain. But the debate over Scottish independence also sheds important light on how debates over the nature of the state that are as old as Hobbes and Locke apply in a modern world of instant communication and cryptocurrency.
The latest polling on the referendum, to be held Sept. 18, points to a narrow edge for Scots who wish to pull out of the state that they have been part of since 1707 and go it as a nation of their own. Previous polls, by contrast, had given the edge to those who wish for Scotland to remain part of Britain. Both betting markets and forecasting groups are now putting the odds that Scotland will pull away and form its own state at something like 30 percent.
What’s all the more remarkable about this possible secession is that major, specific grievances over public policy between Scotland and the rest of Britain are hard to identify. This isn’t like the Southern chunk of the United States seceding in 1860 because it was committed to slavery and the North was against it.
Sure, the pro-independence leaders make some promises about improving social welfare benefits like improved public child care for young children. But that doesn’t square particularly well with the fact that Scotland has been a net drain on the rest of British taxpayers for the last generation; it has received greater benefits than it has paid in taxes. And whatever long-term arrangements are reached over thorny issues like oil rights, divvying up public debt and currency arrangements between the Independent Scotland and the “rump U.K.,” as British commentators have been calling the possible post-secession nation, there is sure to be a heavy transition cost and damage to commerce in the near term.
Many Scots feel as if they have more to gain from governing alongside people who look like them and talk like them than they have to lose from no longer being part of a bigger, more powerful nation. A video posted by the pro-independence campaign captures a bit of this. Amid soft-focus images of beautiful Scottish landscapes and charming-looking Scots going about their day, a woman holding flowers says: “Independence. It’s what we all want in our lives. So why shouldn’t our country be independent too?”
One could point out that Britain as it exists today is the very model of a liberal democracy, that Scots are amply represented in Parliament, and that they have a great deal of control over day-to-day governance within their borders. The government has offered to expand those rights of local control over taxes and public administration if Scotland sticks with Britain. But it may not be enough.
That’s where these bigger questions of what makes a modern state come into play.
Reuters – Swapping cigarettes and chewing gum, the teenage girls outside Rotherham’s Centenary Indoor Market are not engrossed in the conversations students should be having on the first day of term.
Instead of timetables and summer gossip, theirs is a new school year dominated by revelations that as many as 1,400 children in this northern English town were sexually abused by gangs of predominantly Asian men over a 16-year period.
An independent report last week exposed the scale and graphic nature of the crimes and raised difficult questions about whether timidity about confronting the racial aspects of the abuse had prompted authorities to turn a blind eye.
Some of the victims, mainly white girls in social care homes, were as young as 11 and were plied with drugs and alcohol before being trafficked to cities across northern England and gang-raped by groups of men, predominately of Pakistani heritage, the report said.
Those who tried to speak out were threatened with guns and made to watch brutal gang rapes. Their abusers said they would be next if they told anyone. One girl was doused with petrol, her rapist threatening to set her alight.
The report added that senior managers in social care “underplayed” the problem while police regarded many victims with contempt.
“The council motto is ‘Where everybody matters,'” one girl outside the market, a 16-year-old sports and public services student who didn’t want to be named, told Reuters.
“But them there girls didn’t matter. People like us, we don’t matter.”
On a newsstand across the street, the front page of the Rother Advertiser newspaper calls for the resignation of council members and police officials.
“Rotherham is in disgrace,” the editor writes in his paper’s leading article. “It is this week the most shameful town in Britain.”
Rotherham council leader, Roger Stone, resigned following the report’s publication and South Yorkshire Police have commissioned an independent investigation into their handling of the scandal.
Last week’s report said misplaced racial sensitivities perpetuated the failure by police and local authorities to investigate the crimes over the last 12 years.
“Several councilors interviewed believed that by opening up these issues they could be ‘giving oxygen’ to racist perspectives that might in turn attract extremist political groups and threaten community cohesion,” wrote the report’s author, Professor Alexis Jay.
Allen Cowles, a Rotherham councilor for Britain’s United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), which campaigns against what it calls “open door” immigration, said local politicians were too scared of losing votes from Rotherham’s large Muslim population to speak up about the allegations, a view reiterated in much of the British press.
“Quite clearly, an excessive adherence to political correctness led to a failure to do or say the right thing for fear of being called ‘racist,'” he said. “This hindered the investigation of these awful crimes from day one.”
But others say concerns over racism are a weak excuse put forward by those who failed to protect some of the most vulnerable members of society.
On a residential street in Rotherham’s Eastwood estate, groups of Pakistani men gather outside the Jamia Masjid Abu Bakar mosque, to talk and make plans before attending afternoon prayers. Their voices drown out the Adhan Muslim call to prayer played on speakers through an open window.
“For all of these wicked things we have seen, I blame the police and council entirely,” said Mahir, a 63-year-old retired chemical salesmen. “They’re not scared of being called racists when they’re out arresting Pakistani drug dealers – then they are doing their job.”
Others nod in agreement. “Now they are scared,” says one man. “Scared that nothing was done. The whole world knows what happened here in Rotherham.”
ABC News – Only the minaret still stands after an Israeli airstrike reduced Gaza’s Al-Qassam Mosque to a heap of concrete, iron rods and dust. Hours after the pre-dawn attack, rescue workers searched in the rubble, residents gathered — and plainclothes Hamas security agents mingled among them.
Also known as the Grand Mosque, it was one of 63 that Israel has destroyed in its monthlong war with Hamas, according to Palestinian officials. The reason, Israel says, is that Hamas is using mosques to stockpile weapons and rocket launchers, and to hide tunnels used to infiltrate into Israel and carry out attacks.
Gaza’s Hamas rulers deny the accusation, saying Israel is waging a war against Islam. On the ground, many Gazans react the same, saying Israel is attacking their faith.
In its determination to go after what it says are militant arsenals, Israel is throwing aside any reluctance it had in the past to hit religious sites for fear of a diplomatic backlash. In Israel’s week-long 2012 air campaign in Gaza, not a single mosque was hit. In the three-week 2008-2009 war with Hamas, Israel shelled 17 mosques and toppled 20 minarets, saying they were used as Hamas military antennas.
During recent visits by The Associated Press to a half-dozen Gaza mosques destroyed by Israeli strikes, residents categorically denied they were used by Hamas as hideouts for its fighters or as storage places for its hardware.
“None, absolutely none,” or “I never saw members of the resistance anywhere here” were the most common responses to queries about whether the militants used them for military purposes.
And, indeed, most of the targeted mosques did double as social, education and health centers for residents, offering them medical care, classes to memorize the Quran and eradicate illiteracy, as well as sports events like soccer and table tennis tournaments.
Still, in a string of recent conflicts in the region, including the ongoing Syrian civil war and the 2003-2011 Iraq war, militants routinely stored weapons in mosques as Israel accuses Hamas of doing — the houses of worship serving as a deterrent to the enemy, since targeting them could create a public relations disaster.
In this war, Israel’s military says that Hamas has used mosques to stockpile weapons and rocket launchers, to hide tunnel access shafts and lookout posts, and to hold military strategy sessions. It says that of the more than 3,000 rockets Hamas fired at Israel during the war, 600 were launched from civilian facilities, including 160 from mosques. It has also posted video clips on social media sites that it says show Israeli troops uncovering weapons caches inside mosques.
“Terror organizations in the Gaza Strip, led by Hamas, cruelly abused mosques and humanitarian facilities by using them for terror activities,” the Israeli military said in a statement emailed to the AP. “It was Hamas that intentionally chose to establish its offensive capabilities within these premises, rendering them a legitimate target.”
Israeli counterterrorism expert Jonathan Fighel agreed.
“Cynically, they are using those places in order, first of all, to feel immune that they will not be targeted,” said Fighel of the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism, an independent think tank.
“And then if the place is targeted, they can scream and shout and say that the attacking side was violating the sanctity of worship.”
Mosques have traditionally been a key part of Hamas’ infrastructure, serving as centers for recruiting, training and nurturing future fighters, and their destruction would certainly have negative repercussions for the militant movement in the future.
“They want to undermine our faith and resolve, which are the foundations of jihad,” said Yahya Abu Siyam, a bearded primary school teacher, as he sat with other worshippers inside the ruins of the Farouq Mosque in the southern town of Rafah, targeted in a July 22 airstrike that also damaged several homes.
Standing atop the ruins of the Al-Qassam Mosque in the Nuseirat Refugee Camp, Abu Bilal Darwish, the director of Islamic Endowments for central Gaza, echoed the same argument.
“This is aggression against Islam,” he declared. “The occupiers realize that our mosques raise men and people who desire martyrdom for the sake of God.”