first_imgA few days after the posters were found The Brunswickan reported that a group called The National Socialist Canadian Labour Revival Party (NSCLRP) had claimed responsibility for them. MacDonald described content found on the group’s blog and Facebook page “racist, discriminatory and anti-Semitic.”Days later again, The Brunswickan reported that the self-proclaimed founder of the NSCLRP was Michael Thurlow, who claimed responsibility for two new posters that were found on the university campus, and who found a supporter in Mehta.UNB campus security has been investigating the circumstances around the posters, including whether the person who physically put them up is associated with the university, but has not made any announcements to date, a UNB spokesperson told APTN Wednesday.McPhee said the apparent rise in public displays of racism and the way media report on them are intimately connected, and that journalists have a duty to be more diligent than ever in considering the evolution of conceptions of journalistic objectivity and other fundamental principles that guide journalistic integrity.“I think…the public is becoming a little bit more aware that things aren’t always equal, views aren’t always held equally and we shouldn’t treat them as if they should be held equally,” she said. “When you’re talking about white supremacist, racist views, it’s a lot easier to see that neutrality and free speech and objectivity might not be the best way to go about them — and how as a society are we going to deal with this? Because there is danger in shutting out some views.“Especially with Trump in America and how the press is covering him, the public is becoming more aware that some of these traditional views of what truth is aren’t exactly what we thought they were. Truth might not be something equally as balanced as we thought. It might be a bit trickier to go about than just trying to get two sides going against each other and trying to find a truth from that. You might have to actually hold up one over the other and be able to prove with thorough and rigorous investigation why you’re right.”The 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples reported that “mainstream media do not reflect Aboriginal realities very well,” and that “because Canadians do not hear Aboriginal points of view, they are often left with mistaken impressions about Aboriginal people’s lives and aspirations and the reasons for their actions.”Though Canadian media’s failure to adequately and accurately report Indigenous peoples, nations, cultures and perspectives has been identified time after time, Indigenous people themselves remain acutely aware of the racism and denialism inherent in settler colonial society.“The continued abrogation of Indigenous rights, and the continued denialism that we are experiencing as a country is very serious, and it is completely reflective of the longer-standing efforts in this society to control and dominate Indigenous life as a whole,” says Moran, responding to the recent incidents of residential school denialism.“For those that are seeking to find the silver lining in the cloud, or to deny that the residential schools were bad, we really gotta be honest: why are we trying to do this? Why are you looking for the good in this? Just sit with the bad for a minute and actually put yourself in the shoes of that child.” “Rather than attack with a protest against the racism, we bring our circle back together, because somewhere these young people that are doing it have stepped out of the circle of unity within diversity, not realizing we have to live together. They’re trying to impose their actions that hurt, and what we want to do is resist addressing those actions through the same way.“So what we do is bring our circle together, bring our ceremonial gifts that Mother Earth provides for us. So we organized a circle, and we wanted to do it right away so that students didn’t have to carry the burden of being attacked culturally.”Reporting racism and denialismUNB’s student newspaper in Fredericton broke the story of the posters, but not after intense editorial deliberations.Emma McPhee, editor-in-chief of The Brunswickan, and reporter Emma MacDonald decided to only report some of the poster’s text, not all of it, and to “provide context along with what was being said, as well as some of the ironies in what [the poster] were saying and how it didn’t quite make sense.”McPhee told APTN she didn’t want The Brunswickan “to be the platform that these white supremacist views could be spread more broadly,” or to give “more attention to views that are untrue and unfounded.”But after the poster went public on social media, and after mainstream media reported their entire contents, McPhee and MacDonald chose to show the posters in full.The posters claimed “it was slander on whites to say that what they had done to Indigenous people in Canada was bad…and that’s why we took that as being a form of white supremacy,” McPhee explained. “If you’re saying something that is actually true, which was that the European people who colonized what is now Canada took the original inhabitants and tried to ‘civilize’ them—by saying that that isn’t bad, and that calling that bad is slander—that’s a form of white supremacy. It’s taking history and calling it slander.”The Brunswickan issued an editorial statement alongside their coverage of the story, saying “that we condemned any form of hate speech, that we didn’t feel there was any way to cover it objectively or neutrally, just because it was hate speech.“If we were trying to cover it neutrally, we’d be suggesting that hate speech is just as valid as non-hate speech. And we didn’t want to do it that way; we didn’t want there to be any question of where we stood as a publication when it came to hate speech.” Justin Brake APTN NewsIn the wake of the Senator Lynn Beyak controversy, the Gerald Stanley verdict and new reports of racism in the RCMP, critics are speaking out about racism and settler denialism in Canada.As the nation grapples with the aftermath of high profile events that many say reveal the racism inherent in settler colonialism, some observers hope Canadians are coming away with a clearer understanding of their country’s history.“We have to be very honest with ourselves, and we have to as a country drop the natural defense mechanisms that we have, which is denialism, head-in-the-sand-ism, rejectionism, and disbelief that we are in fact telling the truth, and that this truth has been unequivocally proven,” says Ry Moran, Director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.Moran is referring to comments by Beyak and others, which he says undermine the credibility of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report and downplay Canada’s Indian residential school system as a tool of cultural genocide.Last year Beyak said residential schools weren’t all bad, and that while “the negative issues” around the schools “must be addressed, it is unfortunate that they are sometimes magnified and considered more newsworthy than the abundance of good” that came from them.The comments were met with widespread backlash, prompting the Harper-appointed Ontario senator to publish more than 100 letters of support on her website, some of them featuring overtly racist comments.Conservative leader Andrew Scheer kicked Beyak out of the party caucus after the senator refused to remove some of the letters on the grounds of free speech. She now sits as an independent.Beyak was not available for an interview but her Parliamentary Affairs Advisor Gerald Myall told APTN News in an emailed statement that the senator “understands the issues that affect the local Indigenous people and has been involved with self help groups for decades,” and that she “realizes that there is still hurt and anger but we need to move forward in compassion and forgiveness, not guilt and blame.”The impact of Beyak’s comments in the Senate and to media, some say, may be reverberating throughout Canada.Racist posters found on university campusLast month posters containing what some have called white supremacist and racist comments were found on the University of New Brunswick campus in Fredericton.They depict a Canadian red ensign flag and urge people to “reject the anti-white narrative being pushed in media and academia,” and to “stop the slander of the founding Europeans of Canada.”They also argue that, “overwhelmingly, Native Americans are beneficiaries, and not victims, of the society built by Europeans.”Dr. Matthew Sears, an Associate Professor of Classics and Ancient History at UNB, found one of the posters on a bulletin board outside his office.He Tweeted it out, with a message that “the consequences of marginalizing indigenous peoples…in the name of ‘free speech,’ are real and hurt real people. Let’s all stand against this cowardice and bigotry, and call out, publicly, everyone enabling it.”Sears says instances of racism, bigotry and settler denialism need to be identified and publicly refuted with facts as a means of educating the public about colonialism, especially those who may be inclined to believe the hateful stereotypes and misinformation that typically accompany anti-Indigenous racist sentiment.He says that, like the so-called ‘Trump Effect’ in the United States, the “Beyak Effect” could be at play in Canada following the senator and her comments’ extensive coverage in Canadian media. “When leading public figures are making these kinds of statements, then people who already hold these views feel empowered to make these statements,” he said.Sears points to Acadia psychology professor Rick Mehta as an example of denialism run amok.Last month Mehta came to Beyak’s defense on the grounds of free speech.“You claim to support free speech, yet you remove Senator Beyak from your caucus,” Mehta Tweeted at Scheer. “Where is the evidence of racism?”But in the days and weeks that followed, Mehta’s Twitter feed filled up with messages that revealed the professor himself questions the legitimacy of the TRC.In one tweet he said the TRC’s report “was based on a biased process that didn’t take all views into account,” and that it was “designed to create a victim narrative that could then be used as a basis for endless apologies and compensation.”In another, he said he fears “the TRC and the decolonization movement [are] going to worsen race relations between the indigenous and non-indigenous people.”Questioning the TRC: informed concerns or denialism?In an interview with APTN last month Mehta reiterated his doubt of the TRC’s findings.“The key issue is, was the output that came from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission truly representative of what actually happened in that chapter of our history?” he said.The TRC documented the deaths of more than 6,000 Indigenous children while they attended the schools, from malnutrition, disease and physical and sexual abuse.But Mehta questions whether the roughly 150,000 children who attended the schools were treated any differently than non-Indigenous students in Canada.“In terms of the abuse, the norms at that time were very different, so I’d want to see what the comparisons were in terms of the non-First Nations students. How were they treated?” he said.Mehta doesn’t deny that the schools’ architects and staff were deliberately working to assimilate Indigenous children and youth, but he also believes what many were “trying to do in practice was have a good experience for the children, so that that way [the children] could adjust and become productive members of the new society that was being formed at the time.”Sears has criticized Mehta on social media. He says that in light of all the evidence presented in the TRC report — based on an “amount of testimony and evidence [that] would make any scholar jealous” — “to simply go out and dismiss [the report] is both academically unserious and, I think, fraudulent.”But he thinks there’s more at play behind Mehta’s and others’ questioning of the TRC’s work and of the residential schools’ impacts.“Having privilege and having systemic and institutional disparities pointed out — people don’t like that. It’s an uncomfortable feeling,” he says.“I think it’s a reaction to this idea that maybe people are in the place they’re in in society, in the culture, in the economy, not entirely because of their own work or lack of work but because of what structures exist, what they’ve had to deal with, what privilege they already have — and there’s a reaction against that.”During his interview with APTN Mehta said he and other settlers living today “had nothing to do with those atrocities that were done in the past,” and that he doesn’t want to “take blame or feel guilty” for those atrocities.“When you have that kind of premise all it’s going to do is worsen race relations. It’s completely counterproductive to reconciliation.”But Sears says settlers have to navigate their discomfort with the history of their ancestors and country in order to grasp the truth he and others say is a prerequisite for reconciliation.“It’s not that I personally, for example, am responsible for residential schools, but I’ve benefitted simply as being an Anglo-white Canadian, from the system that put residential schools in place, and the continuing prejudices and stigmas that exist in our society because of it,” he says, explaining his own family’s history in what is now New Brunswick.“This is unceded Wolastoqiyik territory that my family, generations ago, was given by government, which wasn’t really the government’s to give. And I’m in the position I’m in — my family’s in the position they’re in now in this province, in this city — because of land we were given that shouldn’t have been ours in the first place. So that’s a direct material benefit I’ve received.”Like Beyak and the UNB posters, Mehta cited comments made by Cree playwright and residential school survivor Tomson Highway in a December 2015 interview with the Huffington Post. Tomson said that while “you may have heard from 7,000 witnesses in the process that were negative…what you haven’t heard are the 7,000 reports that were positive stories.”APTN reached out to Highway for this story but did not receive a response by the time of publication.Positioning himself as an academic and advocate, and not a survivor, Moran says that while some survivors reported positive experiences at the schools — some of them highlighted in the TRC report’s “warm memories” section — those accounts shouldn’t be used to downplay Canada’s efforts to eradicate Indigenous peoples and cultures.“Yes, it is nuanced,” he said, “but again the big story is of a system that was forcibly trying to convert people, and children, into something that they were not.“I think one of the most significant uncomfortable truths that this country has got to come to terms with is the fact that we are a proven, at least culturally genocidal state, and perhaps even a genocidal state.”In his June 2008 Indian residential schools apology, then Prime Minister Stephen Harper acknowledged the school system’s intent and consequences, and the disparity in the number of negative and positive accounts from survivors.“While some former students have spoken positively about their experiences at residential schools these stories are far overshadowed by tragic accounts of the emotional, physical and sexual abuse and neglect of helpless children and their separation from powerless families and communities,” he said.The beliefs behind denialismMehta made a number of claims during his interview with APTN that may reveal more about the fundamental beliefs underpinning his position on residential schools, Indigenous peoples, rights and sovereignty.He called those behind Idle No More, the Indigenous-led grassroots movement initiated in 2012, “echo activists,” adding that alongside corrupt chiefs those activists are actively working to draw money from Canada’s coffers.“Because of course when you have a victimhood narrative, that does give a basis now for apologies and compensation and whatnot,” he said.Mehta also argued that Indigenous people in Alberta who oppose the tar sands and the associated environmental and health consequences “could have moved somewhere else in the country.”He also questioned the legitimacy of oral history, the method of knowledge-sharing that has enabled Indigenous societies to pass traditional knowledge and wisdom from generation to generation, saying “there’s no way to verify the [truth of a] statement one way or another.” Mehta has also vocalized his opposition to Acadia University’s decision to do land acknowledgements on campus. He has criticized the decision-making process that led university administration, faculty and students to acknowledge before classes that they are on the traditional and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq.Asked if he acknowledges that he lives and works on land the Mi’kmaq have always maintained is unceded, Mehta said the Mi’kmaq “can take that up with the courts.”Presented with the facts that a disproportionate number of Indigenous men and women are represented in Canadian prisons, of the poverty and lack of clean drinking water on reserves, of the intergenerational trauma from residential schools, the Sixties Scoop and the ongoing crisis of Indigenous children in state custody, and the mental health, addiction and suicide epidemics — and asked whether these could be described as consequences of Canada’s efforts to assimilate or eradicate Indigenous people, Mehta didn’t say yes or no, only that “everyone does have personal agency as well,” and that “at some point we do need to start balancing rights with responsibilities, because those do go hand in hand.”Sears says Mehta has “abdicated his responsibility as an educator because he can’t possibly provide a meaningful and educational environment for his students with these public [statements],” and that Acadia has an obligation to publicly denounce Mehta’s comments.“At the bare minimum the university could say something like, he has the freedom to say these things but they do not reflect the views of Acadia University and…we will work as hard as we can to ensure Indigenous students are made to feel that they’re welcome on this campus.”Scott Roberts, a spokesperson for the university, says Acadia will not be issuing a public statement regarding Mehta’s comments or behaviour but is “currently providing solutions for students who have raised concerns so they are not forced to take a course from Dr. Mehta.”He says the onus is on individual students to share their concerns with the university before alternate arrangements for study can be made.Indigenous students and faculty respondHarrison Paul, a member of the Indigenous Students Society of Acadia, says when Mehta’s comments made national headlines some students “reacted in a state of shock because they couldn’t believe that at the institution we are [at] now something like that could have been said.”He says Mehta’s comments don’t “make a lot of us feel safe as Indigenous students,” but that the Indigenous community at Acadia have “started to come together” on campus to talk about the residential schools and their impacts on Mi’kmaq and other Indigenous peoples in Canada.He also says Mehta’s comments don’t reflect the broader Acadia community’s views on residential schools and the decolonization movement.“Who we are is this larger group who actually believes that residential schools were a bad thing, that we are on Mi’kma’ki, and the Indigenous people should not…feel threatened or feel like they are being removed from the university community itself.”At UNB, Elder-in-Residence Opolahsomuwehs told APTN that days after the posters were found on the Fredericton campus more than 100 students, faculty and other members of the university community came together in ceremony to heal.“When posters are put up making it seem like [residential schools] were resorts for our Indigenous people, that’s an insult, and obviously misinformation,” she said.last_img read more

first_imgPARIS — Late Friday night, the air on the Champs-Elysees was thick with perfume: heady blends of lavender, rose and other enticing scents wafting out of chic boutiques and perfumeries aglitter with Christmas tinsel.A day later, on what turned out to be yet another angry Saturday, Paris’ most famous boulevard simply reeked of tear gas. Clouds of the stuff hung in the air, burning throats but not silencing the sullen, rebellious crowds.Noses dripping snot, eyes red and watering, demonstrators in their “look at me!” high-visibility fluorescent jackets spontaneously burst into song as they fled the choking gas, running past luxury boutiques boarded up with plywood boards hastily screwed or nailed into place overnight.“To arms, citizens!” the yellow vests sang. “Form your battalions, let’s march!”It was “The Marseillaise” — France’s national anthem.Sang in joy in July, when France won soccer’s World Cup, the anthem was now an expression of defiance, spat out by protesters at phalanxes of heavy-geared riot police. Regularly, the officers broke ranks to toss tear gas grenades, fire rubber pellets and make arrests — nearly 1,000 of them, according to the country’s interior minister.Those brief outbreaks of song from the protesters were among the few fleeting moments Saturday when the demonstrations resembled something coherent.From all corners of the country, French protesters — the vast majority of them men — came by the thousands in trains, buses and cars. But once together in the capital, the most concrete thing they shared was simply fury.Fury at President Emmanuel Macron. At taxes. At jobs that don’t pay the bills. At politicians they accuse of stuffing their own pockets. At the elite. At banks. At ‘the system.’ At life in general.“Ras-le-bol” — which translates as “fed up” — was their common complaint.But without leaders or clearly expressed goals, lacking shared slogans or even an agreed-upon route through Paris, the protesters mostly milled around, roaming the streets like a giant florescent caterpillar.And that, for many, was just fine.Simply by being in Paris, by being so visible in their vests, by bringing their grievances from France’s many pockets of neglect, they felt they were making their point: We’re here. We exist. We cannot, will not, be ignored any longer.“They said that no one would come, so with my kids we said, ‘Right, we’ll go,’” said protester Romian Pascal.The construction materials salesman, made redundant last year at 59, said he had never demonstrated in his life before this. He drove five hours from the west coast of France with his adult sons, Brice and Anthony.“What we want is that the government be shaken up and not be governed by banks and fat cats,” he said. “The people must be heard.”Initially, Saturday’s demonstrations in the French capital were peaceful. Police sealed off the presidential Elysee Palace, blocking surrounding streets with flat-bed trucks that unfurled giant metal barricades, forming a ring of steel around France’s seat of power.Police opened gaps in the barriers when residents needed to pass. A surreal scene: Two men in full Scottish Highland dress, with kilts and sporrans, were allowed through to go to a wedding, they said.The police layout had the effect of funneling demonstrators down usually busy but now eerily quiet streets toward the Champs-Elysees. To get to one of the most beautiful boulevards in the world, protesters passed through repeated police checks. Lines of officers searched bags and patted people down looking for weapons and gas masks. They let protesters keep their yellow vests.Many had written slogans on the back, with demands as diverse as the protesters themselves: “Pacifist resistance,” ”Death to taxes,” ”Macron resign.”As the crowd grew to thousands strong, the mood soured. Soon, the air was thick with gas. Eyes streaming, people ran. The better equipped pulled out eye drops to flush the chemicals out. They sputtered curses. And then they gathered again.Over and over, the infernal cycle was repeated — gas, flee, gas, flee — that spoke of a France deeply divided.In the mayhem, small groups of vandals in Paris smashed store fronts, set fire to cars, built and torched barricades, hurled whatever they could find at police and sprayed graffiti on store fronts. In a vandalized Starbucks store, a telephone rang, unanswered.On the window of a shop selling expensive beds, a slogan sprayed in thick blue captured the mood of revolt:“The plebs are going to sleep at the princes’ places,” it said. “Macron, we’re coming!”John Leicester, The Associated Presslast_img read more

18 November 2009Although melting glaciers, rising sea levels and polar bears may be the faces of climate change, women – who bear the brunt of global warming – are on the front lines of its ravages. In some areas, women provide up to 80 per cent of agricultural labour, a task that will be made more difficult with the onset of inconsistent rainfall and fluctuating temperatures since they will have less resources and capacity to adapt.Already up to 14 times more likely to die in natural disasters, women could suffer more as hazards increase in frequency and intensity due to climate change. In the aftermath of disasters, many women who were not allowed to leave their homes without a male relative have perished, while others who never learned how to swim also lost their lives.Household tasks often falling on women – including gathering water and fuel – will become increasingly onerous as global warming leads to shortages.Their health will also take a hit due to increases in diseases and food shortages, and as primary caregivers, they will also see their responsibilities increase as their family members suffer from rises in diseases such as malaria and cholera.“We’re dealing with age-old problems that have more significance” as a result of climate change, said Tracy Raczek, Partnership Analyst and Focal Point for Climate Change at the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).Even before the current economic crisis, women and girls have comprised the majority of the world’s poor. Existing inequalities between men and women will only amplify the effects of climate change, she stressed.Nations are expected wrap up negotiations on an ambitious new climate change agreement in December in Copenhagen, Denmark.The current negotiating text includes over 20 references to gender, including “recognizing gender equity as an integral part of effective implementation of adaptation” and boosting women’s roles in decision-making processes.It also includes language on recognizing that women and children are particularly affected by the impacts of climate change.“We hope governments recognize that [these references] are a valuable inclusion,” Ms. Raczek said.Efforts to improve gender equality must be seen as a long-term process, but she underscored the need for systems to be put into place now to strengthen women’s participation and access so they can better deal with climate change.“Gender equality brings resilience to entire communities,” with fewer people losing their lives as a result of global warming, the UNIFEM official emphasized.An early-warning system run by women is credited with contributing to the zero-fatality rate in the Honduran municipality of La Masica when Hurricane Mitch struck in late 1998, according to a UNIFEM-supported study. That hurricane claimed an estimated 7,000 lives and caused some $3.8 billion in damage to infrastructure, agriculture and homes in the Central American nation.“If women are recognized as stakeholders, you have a more well-balanced problem-solving paradigm,” Ms. Raczek noted, highlighting the value of real-life experience and generational knowledge in combating climate change. In its just released State of World Population 2009 report, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) contends that the international community’s fight against climate change would be more successful if policies, programmes and treaties consider the needs, rights and potential of women.It also states that investment in women and girls – particularly in education and health – boosts economic development, reduces poverty and benefits the environment. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has underscored that, with their skills, perspectives, and experiences, the voices of women – many of whom depend directly on the environment for their livelihoods – must be heard more clearly in responding to the impacts of climate change.“It is time to involve them as equal partners. When we do, our world as a whole will benefit,” he said in a message to an event in New York in September on peace and security through women’s leadership.Although the UN has succeeded in amplifying the voices of women on a range of issues, including conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peacebuilding, Mr. Ban said the special perspective of women is often overlooked in global discussions on climate change.“We must do more to give greater say to women in addressing the climate challenge,” he stated.“I urge Member States to foster an environment where women are key decision-makers on climate change, and play an equally central role in carrying out these decisions.” read more

Environment Minister Diana McQueen says Alberta is a long way from imposing higher carbon levies on its energy industry.Responding to a story in the Globe and Mail, McQueen on Thursday acknowledged that she’s working with her federal counterpart on a new climate change policy. But she said those talks are preliminary and nothing specific has been determined.“We are currently in the early stages of exploring a variety of options through a collaborative process with industry, the federal government and our department experts,” she said in a statement.“These discussions are ongoing and revised targets have not yet been finalized.”McQueen said last month that she’s asked her staff for a “renewed climate change strategy.” She added that could involve raising the province’s $15-a-tonne levy on greenhouse gas emissions.Alberta consistently points to that legislation as unique in North America, but critics question its effectiveness.Under the legislation, industrial facilities that emit more than 100,000 tonnes of carbon a year are required to reduce their “carbon intensity” — emissions per unit of production — by 12 per cent a year.The $15-a-tonne levy applies only to carbon that exceeds what the facility would have emitted if it had met the intensity target. Groups such as the Pembina Institute suggest the levy actually works out to less than a couple of dollars per tonne averaged over a facility’s entire carbon output.Companies that exceed their carbon allowance can also buy carbon offsets such as wind power to make up the difference. Some of those offsets cost as little as $8 a tonne.Most independent experts and some government departments agree that neither Alberta nor the federal government will achieve their greenhouse gas reduction targets without substantial changes, including a higher price on carbon.Still, McQueen said, the current levy has collected $312 million, with $181 million of that committed to 49 green technology projects.“We realize we need to continue to meet our environmental responsibilities, while at the same time ensuring economic competitiveness within a global marketplace.”New Democrat Rachel Notley suggested the timing of the story was related to another trip to Washington, D.C, by Premier Alison Redford to lobby for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.“They have nothing to offer in terms of substance,” said Notley. “As a result, what we have is the environment minister briefly, publicly, talking about making a significant change and that gives the premier something to talk about.“It’ll never happen.”Notley likened the province’s effort to develop a new climate change strategy to other partially completed environmental initiatives.The environmental monitoring plan for the oilsands remains without a solid funding plan or governance model. Crucial guidelines and regulations for a land-use plan in the oilsands region remain blanks.Standards supposedly required for new oilsands projects such as Imperial Oil’s Kearl mine still aren’t in place, said Notley, despite the fact Kearl is now producing.“These guys talk and talk and talk and talk,” she said. “That’s 90 per cent of their environmental plan.“The press releases they put out, if they weren’t put out, would have a measurable impact on emissions.”16:58ET 04-04-13 read more

00:00:00 | 00:00:00::Projekktor V1.3.09 Struggling smartphone maker Blackberry has accepted a deal worth billions of dollars to be acquired by a Toronto company, just a few days after it announced it’s cutting 4500 jobs.Blackberry says it has signed a deal to be bought by Fairfax. The deal is worth $4.7 billion U.S.The friendly deal means Fairfax shells out $9 U.S. for each share it doesn’t already own. Fairfax previously owned around 10% of blackberry.The blackberry board of directors have approved the terms of the agreement. Just before the announcement was made, shares were down 60 cents at $8.48 on the TSX shortly before trading halted on North American markets.Last Friday, Blackberry announced it cut 4500 jobs, but still hasn’t said how many of those will be in Waterloo.Blackberry expects to post a loss of close to a billion dollars when it reports its second-quarter earnings on Friday. read more

“I condemn today’s arson attack and desecration of Al-Huda mosque in the village of Al-Jaba’a near Bethlehem in the West Bank,” UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry said in a statement. The fire was reportedly set to the mosque overnight Tuesday.Mr. Serry said he is “concerned by this and all other religiously-motivated attacks and provocations by any party, which may further inflame an already volatile environment.” “A timely and thorough investigation, as well as bringing the perpetrators to justice, is critical,” he added. “Extremists on both sides must not be allowed to turn this conflict into a religious one.” read more

first_imgSupreme Court judges are split over their historic Article 50 ruling, and look set to decide by a majority of seven to four to give Parliament a vote on when Britain leaves the European Union, Government sources believe.The news that more judges than expected could back the Government’s argument is a boost for the Brexit side, as some had feared before the case that only one vote would be in the Government’s favour.A narrow loss for the appeal will make it harder for Remain-supporting MPs and peers to frustrate the progress of a new law to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and start talks to leave the EU by the end of March. Lawyer James Eadie (centre) speaking at the Supreme CourtCredit:AFP/Getty Images Lawyer James Eadie (centre) speaking at the Supreme Court The source added: “The feeling among those in the room was the division among the judges was much more pronounced than perhaps it first appeared.”The Government will still have to pass a law formally triggering Article 50 if it loses the case but only a small margin of victory for Ms Miller would make it harder for the SNP and Liberal Democrats to amend any legislation and attempt to delay it. Supreme CourtCredit:Jeffrey Blackler / Alamy Stock Photo/Jeffrey Blackler / Alamy Stock Photo The Supreme Court is considering the case after losing a High Court hearing last month. The judges are expected to announce their decision before the end of next month.Ms Miller’s legal team argued that because triggering Article 50 would revoke the legislation which took Britain into Europe, it would require an Act of Parliament to leave the EU.James Eadie QC, acting for the Government, told the Supreme Court that last week’s motion in favour of triggering Brexit by March 31 was “highly significant”. Ms Miller, the businesswoman and philanthropist who brought the case against the Government, said after the hearing that the parliamentary vote should have no bearing on the case.center_img Legal commentators and experts had believed the court comprised overwhelmingly pro-Remain judges, with some expecting the Government would lose by a margin of 10 to one.However, government lawyers in the courtroom now believe the margin is actually much narrower. One source said: “It is difficult to predict how the case is going to go but the thinking of those in the room is that there might be a sizeable minority who are with the Government.“The understanding is that it is unlikely to be a slam dunk either way; even if a majority agree with Gina Miller [who brought the case] there will be a sizeable minority who don’t. It will potentially be a split decision.  Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Show more Supreme Courtlast_img read more

first_imgHe said: “The further north you are, the better chance you’ve got of catching a shower and a greater chance of any shower turning wintry. But you can’t rule it out further south.” @DerekTheWeather @Sue_Charles Light snow in NW Carmarthenshire atm! #uksnow— cudd cwmwl (@cwmwlcudd) April 25, 2017 UK weather forecast: Tuesday, April 25 There was no repeat in England of the more significant snowfalls seen in parts of northern Scotland on Monday.But forecasters have warned that thundery showers could bring localised hail storms and more wintry weather later on Tuesday. Many motorists had to scrape their car windows on Tuesday morning, such as in Pontrhydfendigaid mid Wales A dusting of snow on the North Yorkshire Moors on Tuesday morning Credit:Owen Humphreys/PA A snow shower in Aviemore in the Scottish Highlands on Monday, as the blast of Arctic weather moves southCredit:Jane Barlow/PA #sunshine and a dusting of snow #picture of the #midlands ##Uk in April 😎#wearsunglasses— Chris Thorley (@ThorleyChris) April 25, 2017 A sprinkling of late April #uksnow on the spring onions this morning in #MerthyrTydfil 😃— HANNAH THOMAS (@hannahthomasitv) April 25, 2017 Snow in North Staffs this morning! @Jeep @Jeep_UK @Jeep_People— stevens0074 (@steven7000741) April 25, 2017 Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said: “We are going to see plenty of showers. They could be intense at times and, as a result, that will bring the risk of something wintry, even though temperatures are set to climb a little bit as we go through the day.” Aviemore snow shower  The Met Office had a yellow warning in place for snow in parts of northern and eastern Scotland on Tuesday morning, but this was due to expire at 9am. The heck is this?! #snow #orkney— Nikki Sabiston (@sabistonnikki) April 24, 2017 A band of late wintry weather has brought snow flurries to parts of England as an Arctic blast moved south from Scotland.Towns as far south as Norwich, as well as many parts of the North of England and the Midlands, reported waking to a smattering of snow on Tuesday morning.Areas including Staffordshire, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and the North East also reported experiencing unseasonably wintry showers. Social media users posted pictures on Twitter of snow on their car windscreens and gardens this morning: What a shock. .snow on my car this morning on the east coast Uk— Sarah (@dunardtrek) April 25, 2017 Mr Burkill said Wednesday will be the last day of the cold snap, with temperatures rising towards the end of the week.He said snow at the end of April is unusual, but not particularly rare – Britain experienced snow showers on April 26 as recently as last year.He said: “It is fairly uncommon, but we have seen events like this before. You only have to go back as far as last year – we had snow as late as this time.” Many motorists had to scrape their car windows on Tuesday morning, such as in Pontrhydfendigaid mid Wales Credit:Ian Jones/Alamy Mr Burkill said night-time temperatures continue to be cold but not record-breaking with Redesdale Camp in Northumberland seeing the lowest recorded levels on Monday night at minus 4.1C (24.6F). A dusting of snow on the North Yorkshire moors  Overnight snow on the high fells above Lake Windermere Credit:Gordon Shoosmith/Alamy With high pressure to the W and a low to the E tomorrow will give cold northerly winds, but a reversal in fortunes is expected next weekend— Met Office (@metoffice) April 24, 2017  Overnight Snow on the high fells above Lake Windermere  Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

Falling asleep during lectures after staying up all night partying was once considered par for the course Sir Anthony has previously warned that universities are turning a blind eye to freshers’ week “excesses” “Every student should be taught how to breathe deeply and to control the breath to manage stress,” the report said.“Students who learn how to relax deeply and practise yoga, tai chi, pilates or other relaxation approaches develop growing resilience and confidence for life.”His report, published last year by the Higher Education Policy Institute, outlines how to create “positive universities” also suggests first-year students take psychology courses that teach them about the importance of wellbeing and good mental health. It suggests all students should be offered mindfulness classes, as well as a psychology programme in their first year which teaches them skills such as resilience, how to deal with emotions, build relationships and identify and use their own strengths.Ahead of the start of this academic year, the universities minister told vice-Chancellors that they must “prioritise” the mental health and well-being of new students and that this requires “leadership from the top”.  In a letter sent to all university leaders in the country, Sam Gyimah warned that there is “no negotiation” when it comes to mental health.“With the new academic year upon us, I’m sure you would agree that good mental health and wellbeing underpins successful participation and attainment,” he said. For university students, falling asleep during lectures after staying up all night partying was once considered par for the course. But now nodding off during classes at Buckingham University will be treated as a possible sign of a mental health disorder.Under new plans, every member of staff at the university will be given mental health first aid training so they can spot signs of potential distress among students.Starting from January, all university employees – from professors to cleaners, caterers and gardeners – will be enrolled on a compulsory half-day training course in mental health. They will also be able to sign up for a longer two-day course and become a mental health champion.  –– ADVERTISEMENT ––Dee Bunker, head of welfare at Buckingham University who is overseeing the staff training programme, said: “We will teach about the signs and symptoms of stress and of someone who is depressed: not being engaged, not attending classes, a lack of eye contact or a lack of sleep.  “If someone is anxious you may find them pale, sweating, wringing their hands or nervous. They may not be able to concentrate, look you in the eye, hold a conversation, sit still or sit in same room with you.” “Our hope is that no member of staff would ever walk past anyone who is upset,” Ms Bunker said.  “This training gives people the knowledge and confidence to say: ‘Are you ok? Is there anything I can help with?’ and signpost them towards where they can get more help.”  Ms Bunker said that staff will not be expected to diagnose mental health conditions on the spot. “It won’t make you an expert – but it means you won’t ignore someone who is distressed,” she added.It is the latest in a series of mental health initiatives launched by Buckingham University, which will host a wellbeing in education conference this Friday.  Sir Anthony Seldon, the university’s vice-Chancellor,  said: “No member of staff should walk past a student clearly in distress. The aim is to save lives and we should all be playing our part.”  He has previously warned that universities are turning a blind eye to freshers’ week “excesses” and urged fellow institutions to end their “permissive” culture. Sir Anthony, a former headmaster at Wellington College, said that said that first-year students should be offered alternative activities to parties and social events where heavy drinking and drug-taking are prevalent. Falling asleep during lectures after staying up all night partying was once considered par for the courseCredit: Marion Bull / Alamy Academics will be taught that if a “student is falling asleep in your lecture”, this could serve as “an indication that they are not sleeping at night” due to anxiety or depression. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.   “Collectively, we must prioritise the wellbeing and mental health of our students – there is no negotiation on this. To make this happen, leadership from the top is essential.”   Sir Anthony has previously warned that universities are turning a blind eye to freshers’ week “excesses”Credit: Peter Dench read more

Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedBritain to expel 23 Russian diplomats over chemical attack on ex-spyMarch 14, 2018In “World”Britain, Russia tensions spike over new nerve agent caseJuly 5, 2018In “World”Spy poisoning: Russia faces wave of diplomatic expulsionsMarch 26, 2018In “World” LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Britain, France, Germany and the United States condemned a nerve agent attack on a Russian ex-spy and his daughter, saying there was “no plausible alternative explanation” to Moscow’s involvement.Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, are in a critical condition in hospital (EPA/ Yulia Skripal/Facebook)“We, the leaders of France, Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom, abhor the attack that took place against Sergei and Yulia Skripal” in the English city of Salisbury on March 4, said the rare joint statement issued by the British government.“We share the UK assessment that there is no plausible alternative explanation, and note that Russia’s failure to address the legitimate request by the UK government further underlines its responsibility.”Britain has linked the attack to Soviet-designed nerve agents known as Novichok, and accused Moscow of failing to explain how the poison came to be used on English soil.“We call on Russia to address all questions related to the attack in Salisbury,” the four world powers said in their statement.“Russia should in particular provide full and complete disclosure of the Novichok programme to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapon.”The Salisbury poisoning is the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War.It amounts to “a breach of international law. It threatens the security of us all,” the US and European leaders said.Novichok — or “newcomer” in English — refers to a group of powerful and deadly chemical compounds reportedly developed by the Soviet government in the 1970s and 1980s, some of which were adopted by the Soviet army in 1990.Almost everything in the public domain comes from Russian defectors who revealed the existence of the secret weapons programme in the 1990s, including a former chemist who wrote a book about them. The aim of the nerve agents appears to have been to circumvent international conventions banning chemical weapons by developing compounds with new structures that would escape detection, experts say. read more

← Previous Story ASOBAL: BM Ademar Leon stay in race with FC Barcelona Lassa Next Story → VRANJES BEAT MACHULLA: Veszprem win derby over Flensburg The Norwegian national team player, Kristian Bjornsen, has extended his contract with HSG Wetzlar until summer of 2021.The 28-year-old Norwegian right wing Kristian Bjørnsen, who won the silver medal with the national team at the IHF World Championship 2017 in France, came to Wetzlar in summer 2016 from the Swedish champions IFK Kristianstad. He won the sixth place at DKB Bundesliga with his team in previous season. This is the best results ever for HSG Wetzlar. HSG WetzlarKristian Bjornsen read more

first_imgA letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calling for stronger biodiesel volumes in the final Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was signed by 36 U.S. Senators.The bipartisan group of Senators representing 24 states across the country sends a strong signal to the Obama administration as it takes comments on the pending RFS Proposed Rule. The letter led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) can be viewed here. The American Soybean Association (ASA) thanks everyone who helped with this effort by contacting your senators or discussing it with them during the Hill visits last week.last_img read more

first_imgLOS ANGELES (WSVN) — Kanye West was hospitalized in Los Angeles, Monday night, just hours after his remaining tour dates were abruptly canceled.TMZ is reporting that L.A. police and paramedics responded to a welfare call around 1:20 p.m. Sources told TMZ that West did not want to be hospitalized, and had to be restrained when he was transported.His hospital admission followed a week of erratic behavior at several concerts, with several tirades against Hillary Clinton, Beyonce, and Jay Z. West also cut his most recent concert short after performing only three songs.Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more

first_img Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. PINECREST, FLA. (WSVN) – South Florida first responders are biking together for the Live Like Bella Foundation.Members of the City of Miami Police Department and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue departed early Wednesday morning to start their three day ride to Key West.Their ride will raise money for childhood cancer research.Their journey is in memory of 10-year-old Bella Rodriguez-Torres, who passed away in 2013 from an aggressive form of cancer.Her father started the ride with a morning prayer and talked to 7News about how his daughter dreamed of protecting South Florida’s streets.“Bella wanted to be a police officer, and six years after she passed away, to be here and have these first responders honoring her memory and life, not to benefit her but to benefit generations of families battling cancer is something that fills our heart with an immense amount of joy,” said Raymond Rodriguez-Torres. “It’s a critically important thing to do.”Bella’s six year battle with cancer has since inspired millions around the world. last_img read more

first_imgWILMINGTON, MA — The Wilmington Board of Selectmen meets this Monday, April 8, 2019 at Town Hall (Room 9) at 7pm. An Executive Session precedes the meeting at 6:15pm.There are some noteworthy items on the agenda, including:Selectmen will have a discussion with its state delegation and MBTA officials regarding the North Wilmington Commuter Rail station.Selection will have a discussion on senior housing with Wilmington Housing Authority’s Executive Director Maureen Hickey.Selectmen will make their appointments to the town’s new Economic Development Committee.Selectmen will establish a committee to review options that would provide an ice rink for the Town of Wilmington.Town Manager Hull will provide an update regarding Olin Chemical in the form of an EPA news release.Town Manager Hull will provide an update on the Town Accountant’s upcoming retirement.Town Manager Hull will provide an update on potential impacts from the Ledges 40B project in Woburn, near the Wilmington line.Town Manager will provide an update on the town’s vegetation management plan renewal.Selectmen will consider the request of the Fourth of July Committee to use the Town Common, Municipal Parking Lot, and the Swain Green for the Annual Fun on the Fourth Celebration on Wednesday, July 3 through Sunday, July 7.Selectmen will consider the request of the Wilmington Police Department to use Rotary Park on Tuesday, August 6 for a National Night Out celebration.Selectmen will consider the request of WHS Principal Linda Peters to use the Municipal Parking Lot to display WWI vehicles on Thursday, April 11, from 9am to 11am.Selectmen will consider the renewal of secondhand dealer licenses for Robert P. Flaherty Jeweler, Inc. and GameStop.Selectmen will consider the request of Elia’s Country Store to change managers from Michael Elia to Michael Elia, Jr.The meeting will be telecast live by Wilmington Community Television on WCTV — Channel 9 on Comcast and Channel 37 on Verizon.  The meeting will also be streamed on WCTV’s website HERE.Wilmington Apple intends to report on many of the items above – and any other news that comes from the meeting — over the next two weeks. Wilmington Apple will live-tweet the meeting HERE.Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedSELECTMEN NEWS: Childhood Cancer Study, Olin, Cook Ave., Recreation Dept. Update On Agenda For Tonight’s MeetingIn “Government”SELECTMEN NEWS: Selectmen To Discuss Senior Center, Palmer Park, WHS Gym Floor At September 9 MeetingIn “Government”SELECTMEN NEWS: Selectmen To Discuss Need For Fire Substation At Wednesday, August 7 MeetingIn “Government”last_img read more

first_imgNorth Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju greet South Korean President Moon Jae-in and First Lady Kim Jung-sook at Pyongyang Sunan International AirportreutersSouth Korea has got a waiver from US-imposed sanctions on Iran for crude imports and financial transactions with Iranian central bank, a Seoul-based government official has said.There have been reports that US President Donald Trump has exempted eight major oil importers from complying with the Iran nuclear sanctions regime, but no country has yet confirmed it officially.The sanctions, which President Trump claims are the “strongest ever,” kicked in on Monday after Washington withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) earlier this year.The South Korean official says the country, which is the world’s fifth biggest oil importer, has got an exemption from the ban on buying oil as well as financial transactions with Iran’s central bank.South Korea had sought “maximum flexibility” after a few of its construction companies cancelled energy-related contracts in Iran following financing difficulties.The United States said on Friday it would allow eight countries to keep importing Iranian oil after re-imposing the sanctions. The top two Iranian crude importers China and India are also among the nations Trump has granted the crucial waiver.”Petrochemicals are important to the economy, and we said that if Iran sanctions hit, it would be a grave challenge to the whole economy,” said the official, who sought anonymity owing to the issue’s sensitivity.South Korea mostly imports ultra-light crude known as condensate.Seoul has also got an exemption from Washington for continuing financial transactions with the Iranian central bank to make possible oil imports, despite the sanctions, the official added.Seoul got a waiver from US sanctions in 2012 also for importing a limited amount of Iran oil despite the previous round of sanctions until lifted in 2016. Crude buyers in South Korea have progressively reduced their dependence on Iran by diversifying to US and African crude. They have been reducing dependence on the Middle East and Iranian crude because of higher price and uncertainties in a conflict-riddled region.China has been the biggest Iranian crude buyer at about 640,000 barrels per day (bpd) followed by India at 502,000 bpd. South Korea is in the third place by buying 313,646 bpd. The likely impact the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) that European Union has formed to protect European buyers of Iran crude from US sanctions, both primary and secondary, is also unclear at this point.last_img read more

first_imgEx-chairman of BASIC Bank Limited Sheikh Abdul Hye Bacchu. Prothom Alo File PhotoThe Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on Wednesday interrogated the former chairman of BASIC Bank Limited Sheikh Abdul Hye Bacchu for the second day in connection with swindling around Tk 22 billion from the state-run bank.Bacchu left the ACC office without talking to the newsmen at 5.15pm, immediately after the interrogation ended, reports UNB.ACC public relations officer Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya said that the second day’s interrogation of Bacchu began at 10:00am. ACC directors AKM Zayed Hossain Khan and Syed Iqbal led the questioning.Bacchu had fallen sick for hypertension during the interrogation and was examined by physicians around 2:00pm, he added.Earlier, he was interrogated on 4 December for the first time after the ACC had begun questioning the accused on 22 October in connection with the misappropriation of the money.Bacchu had claimed himself innocent during the first interrogation.Other BASIC Bank directors, including Md Anwarul Islam, Anis Ahmad, Quamrun Naher Ahmed, professor Kazi Akhtar Hossain, Shakhawat Hossain, Fakhrul Islam, AKM Kamrul Islam, Jahangir Akhand Salim, Shyam Sunder Sikder and AKM Rezaur Rahman, have already been interrogated.According to an inquiry of the Bangladesh Bank (BB), about Tk 45 billion was swindled out of the Basic Bank during six years of Sheikh Abdul Hye Bachhu’s tenure as its chairman.In September 2015, the ACC filed 54 cases with three police stations in the capital accusing 156 individuals including 26 bank officials in this connection.last_img read more

first_imgKolkata: Eminent author from Guatemala Professor Euda Morales said on Friday freedom is very important for the people of her country as they cherish the right to think and express freely. Guatemala is the theme country in this edition of the Kolkata International Book Fair. “Guatemala is more like your country. We cherish the right to free thinking, the right to talk freely without fear and criticise when we think in that way,” she said drawing parallels with India. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killedMorales was talking to reporters after addressing the ‘Ashok Kumar Sarkar Memorial Lecture’ at the book fair. Morales said though book fairs and book exhibitions took place in her country, the number of books and visitors are far less in quantity. “I can see this is so big for me… enormous and large a book fair. I can see people in India read a lot, otherwise not so many books would be available. I appreciate that very much,” she said. “(In Guatemala) we have many people who are very intellectual and of course we participate in many activities like this (book fair and literary meets), but the main difference between Guatemala and India is that not so many people read story books in her country where books are a lot more expensive,” she said. Also Read – Bose & Gandhi: More similar than apart, says Sugata BoseAsked about popularity of Indian films in her country, she said: “I can say so far I know – I think we don’t have so many Indian films. Even if they (distributors) show that will be few.” The Indian foods are lot more spicy. “You use a whole range of spices in your preparations, which we don’t,” she said. On the Guatemala pavilion in the book fair, she said: “It shows our heritage, our roots belong to the Mayas. We come from the Mayas. Anyone who is from Guatemala will have to be proud that so many people will be able to read and learn about our heritage.”last_img read more

first_imgRead MoreSnow in Stoke-on-Trent & North Staffordshire This is how to drive in ice & snow Your rights if you can’t make it to work New Street is also closed due to an accident near the Rose and Crown pub in Biddulph Moor. Met Office Yellow Weather Warnings remain in force in the region until 9am on Saturday morning. 8 local places to go sledging! In 1990 we had PROPER snow A snowy Stoke-on-Trent in 1981 Why do schools close when it snows? How to stay safe in snow on commute Get the biggest Daily stories by emailSubscribeSee our privacy noticeThank you for subscribingSee our privacy noticeCould not subscribe, try again laterInvalid EmailA snow plough has overturned and is blocking a Staffordshire Moorlands road this afternoon as snow and ice hamper traffic in the region. Traffic data company INRIX reports Leek Old Road is closed on both directions due to an overturned snow plough between Beat Lane and the A523 near Rushton Spencer. The vehicle is understood to be on its side near Barnswood Scout Camp. The road, a popular route between Leek and Macclesfield, is shut and this is affecting traffic between Rushton Spencer and Pool End. Elsewhere in the Staffordshire Moorlands the A523 is closed near Waterhouses following a number of accidents, this is affecting traffic between Leek and Ashbourne. The A53 remains closed between Leek and Buxton on the Derbyshire side of the border – one of a number of incidents on the roads in the neighbouring county due to the ‘Beast from the East’. 7 fun ways to enjoy snow with kidslast_img read more

first_imgRelated posts:Obama: Expand effort against Islamic State Islamic State terrorists talked of entering U.S. through Mexico Obama admits US underestimated IS threat Obama eyes air strikes in Syria, fixing Iraqi army WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. and Middle East allies pounded Islamic State positions in Syria in a barrage of airstrikes, a major expansion of President Barack Obama’s effort to destroy the Sunni extremist group.“U.S. military and partner nation forces are undertaking military action against ISIL terrorists in Syria using a mix of fighter, bomber and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said Monday night in an emailed statement. ISIL is an acronym for the group’s former name.Sunni Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, played roles in the attacks, according to a U.S. defense official with knowledge of the airstrikes who spoke on condition of anonymity because details haven’t been released. Others, including Qatar and Bahrain, contributed the use of military bases, intelligence and other support, the official said.The U.S. and allies are seeking to reverse the advances of the Islamic State, which has seized a swath of territory across Iraq and Syria. The Pentagon previously had conducted more than 190 airstrikes against Islamic State targets, all of them in Iraq until now and most against individual targets such as military vehicles.“The decision to conduct these strikes was made earlier today by the U.S. Central Command commander under authorization granted him by the commander-in-chief,” Kirby said in his statement.Obama said in a televised speech on Sept. 10 that he would “not hesitate to take action” against the group “in Syria as well as Iraq.”Targets in and around Raqqa, an Islamic State stronghold in Syria, included weapons and vehicle storage areas, training facilities and buildings that intelligence indicated were used for housing Islamic State personnel and for planning attacks, according to the U.S. defense official.While Iraq’s government has invited the U.S. and other nations to help it fight Islamic State, no such request has come from Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose ouster the U.S. seeks.U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told a U.S. Senate hearing on Sept. 17 that in helping to defend Iraq, “you have a right of hot pursuit, you have a right to be able to attack those people who are attacking you as a matter of self- defense.”Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin, whose country backs Assad, told the U.N. Security Council on Sept. 19 that any attacks inside Syria without Assad’s approval would be “considered illegal” under international law. The U.S. informed Syria’s U.N. envoy on Monday that the strikes would take place, Syria’s state-run television reported, citing the Foreign Ministry.Some U.S. allies have also shown reluctance to extend the strikes beyond Iraq and into Syria.While France has joined the U.S. in airstrikes in Iraq, President Francois Hollande ruled out attacking in Syria.“We’re very concerned with the aspects of international law,” Hollande said last week at a press conference. “We’ve been called in by the Iraqis; we’re not called on in Syria.”U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate hearing last week that about two-thirds of Islamic State’s personnel, which the Central Intelligence Agency estimates at roughly 20,000 to 31,500, are in Syria.Dempsey told the panel that attacks on Syria “will not look like ‘shock and awe’” airstrikes that opened the 2003 Iraq War because that isn’t how Islamic State is organized, “but it will be persistent and sustainable.”“This plan includes targeted actions” against Islamic State positions, including “command and control, logistics capabilities and infrastructure,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said last week.Backing the expansion of airstrikes into Syria, Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, the California Republican who heads the House Armed Services Committee, said in an emailed statement that “this is one step in what will be a long fight against ISIL. With strong coalition partners, a capable military and a clear mission, it is a fight we can win.”Jean-Pierre Filiu, a former French diplomat who served in Syria and is now a professor of Middle East studies at Sciences Po, a university in Paris, said Islamic State ultimately can be defeated only in Syria.“The head of the snake is in Syria,” Filiu said by video teleconference at a forum on Monday sponsored by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.As the U.S. expands its air campaign over Syria, the Pentagon has at its disposal manned B-1B bombers and F-16, F-15E and F/A-18 fighters. It also has Predator drones capable of dropping laser and satellite-guided bombs, including one with a 13-pound warhead called the AGM-176 Griffin.U.S. flexibility in hitting Islamic State targets also is aided by the capabilities of the latest version of Raytheon’s Tomahawk cruise missiles, which can be redirected in flight to new targets. The Navy has warships in the Persian Gulf capable of launching Tomahawks.The latest Tomahawk’s “key advantage” is “you fly it and it can receive changes in targeting, changes in direction,” the Navy’s chief of operations, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, told reporters last year. “It can go up and actually loiter.”Airstrikes are just the beginning of what will be needed to defeat Islamic State in what promises to be a years-long mission that ultimately will require some trained ground troops, said Michael Eisenstadt, director of the Washington Institute’s military and security studies program.“On its own, it won’t be enough to defeat ISIS,” Eisenstadt said at Monday’s forum.While Obama is counting on Iraqi and moderate Syrian rebel ground troops, “Our battlefield partners in Iraq and Syria are not ready yet,” Eisenstadt said.Training a 5,000-man force of Syrian rebels could take more than six months, said James Jeffrey, a former U.S. ambassador to Iraq who also spoke at the forum.With assistance from David Lerman, Angela Greiling Keane and John Walcott in Washington.© 2014, Bloomberg News Facebook Commentslast_img read more