mardi 30 avril 2013

ONLINE COURSES AVAILABLE FOR FREE


Yale, Stanford, MIT, Cornell, and many other universities around the world have introduced free open courses in subjects like physics, biology, and chemistry. In many cases, there is a semester’s worth of recorded lectures, along with exams to test your knowledge. If you have ever wanted an Ivy League science education, here’s your chance!

Complete list here: http://bit.ly/10OPhfE

Photo credit: Yale University

Note: In the event of a crashed server, please bookmark and try again later.














Yale, Stanford, MIT, Cornell, and many other universities around the world have introduced free open courses in subjects like physics, biology, and chemistry. In many cases, there is a semester’s worth of recorded lectures, along with exams to test your knowledge. If you have ever wanted an Ivy League science education, here’s your chance!

Complete list here: http://bit.ly/10OPhfE

vendredi 26 avril 2013

Iraqi Kurdistan a dictatorship? current president will break law, run for election again


Elections will held in Iraqi Kurdistan in September. And despite the fact that local laws say he can’t, the current president may run for the job again. Local MPS are hatching several cunning plans to get around the law.

On April 18, the President of Iraqi Kurdistan Massoud Barzani, announced that parliamentary and presidential elections would be held in the semi autonomous region in September this year. And many others said that Barzani would also be running for President again, come September 21.

But there’s a problem there. According to current laws in the semi-autonomous region, the President of the region may only remain in power for two terms. A term is four years. And Barzani will complete his two terms in the middle of this year.
Yet many senior politicians in Iraqi Kurdistan – including the Barzani’s party, the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s spokesperson, Jafar Ibrahim Eminki - have said that they are trying to get around the law in order to allow Barzani to be nominated for a third term as President. Senior politicians from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan have also said that they don’t have anyone to replace Barzani.
Generally power is shared between two major parties in Iraqi Kurdistan - the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) – and in practice the region is basically split into two separate zones of influence, with local administrations in Erbil and Dohuk controlled by the KDP and the Sulaymaniyah area mostly administered by the PUK.

There are also opposition parties in the region, including the relatively influential Change Movement, also known as Goran, which is formed of many dissatisfied with the two major parties.

 And opposition parties in Iraqi Kurdistan responded with strong criticism to the idea that Barzani might be nominated for President again. In a joint press conference, the Change Movement and the region’s two major Islamic parties, said that trying to change the law to allow Barzani to remain in power was a step toward dictatorship in Iraqi Kurdistan and was a blatant disregard of the law.
“We don’t have any problems with Barzani as a person,” Aram Sheikh Muhammad, director of the elections office for the Change Movement, told NIQASH. “The problem is that the law doesn’t allow him to run for another term.”

The critics of the plan for Barzani to run again suspect that the KDP and PUK have various ideas to circumvent the current law. One sees legal experts interpreting the law in such a way that Barzani is able to run for election again.

Ali Awni, a senior member of the KDP, gave a clue as to how that plan might work. He told NIQASH that in 2005, when Barzani first became President of the region, there were no actual elections held. Barzani was never elected and he was appointed President by the local parliament, via  political agreement between the leading political parties in the region.  

“The President was elected by the people for the first time in 2009,” Awni explained to NIQASH. “So if he runs again it will only be for election for the second time.”

Awni added that as yet, Barzani himself hadn’t suggested that he run for President again. He said it was an issue that the opposition parties were talking about publicly in order to pre-empt any such thing happening. This was a violation of Barzani’s own rights and “it didn’t serve the public interests,” Awni noted.

The second way of allowing Barzani to run again would involve MPS belonging to the KDP and PUK going back to parliament to amend the law – the KDP and PUK have 59 out of 111 seats in the Iraqi Kurdish parliament.

However the latter could run into problems as it appears that not all the members of PUK like the idea of Barzani running again. “If Barzani wants to nominate himself again, then it must be under an amended law,” Arez Abdullah, a leading member of the PUK, said. “But if the law isn’t amended then Barzani cannot be nominated to run. But up until now nobody in the PUK has even discussed this with the KDP. If they approached us on this issue, then we’d make a public announcement of you r position.”

Meanwhile Bakhtyar Saeed, a local lawyer and political observer, says that if Barzani is eventually nominated to run for a third term, the conflicts that already exist between the two ruling parties and the opposition movement in Iraqi Kurdistan will only deepen.  
“Barzani has finished two terms and he cannot re-nominate himself,” Saeed confirmed. “But the KDP is not ready to give away this position at any price. They believe that if the opposition succeeds in preventing Barzani’s nomination, then they will lose a lot of power in a very short time. That’s something they will never accept.”

jeudi 25 avril 2013

Militants will start withdrawing from Turkey on May 8, PKK says


ISTANBUL – Hürriyet – 26.4.2013 – Senior PKK leaders in northern Iraq make a much-anticipated statement, announcing that militants will start pulling out from Turkey on May 8.


The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) will begin withdrawing from Turkish soil on May 8, according to Murat Karayılan, a senior leader at the group’s base in the Kandil Mountains of northern Iraq. Karayılan, however, told reporters yesterday that any military operation targeting the militants would delay the withdrawal and cause the militants to retaliate.

The PKK also released a number of suggestions to facilitate the withdrawal during the press conference, which was attended by high ranking PKK members Zeki Şengali and executive board member Hacer Zagros.

The PKK militants will use previously traveled routes during the withdrawal in an organized and disciplined while avoiding any clashes, the group said, according to Fırat news agency, which is known to have close ties to the organization.

According to the ongoing preparations, the withdrawal will start on May 8 and will continue in phases. The process will be finalized “as soon as possible” and in secrecy. The withdrawing militants will be deployed to “southern Kurdistan,” which refers to northern Iraq. Karayılan said they expected understanding from the Iraqi authorities, and particularly from the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The Turkish military should show a “similar sensitivity,” while avoiding any “provocative and opportunist attitudes” in northern Iraq, he added.

In the event of any military operations being conducted against the militants, the withdrawal will be halted and the militants will use the “legitimate right of defense” to retaliate, Karayılan said.

The leader did not disclose in his statement whether the militants would pull out with or without arms. Both Turkish President Abdullan Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erodğan have insisted on a withdrawal without arms in repeated remarks, while the military is asking for a legal regulation for the process as it is legally obliged to fight against terrorism.

In a statement on April 22, the military said it would keep on fighting against terrorists. A number of other items that were mentioned in a letter to the jailed PKK leader, Abdullah Öcalan, and which are also known by the Turkish authorities, should also be considered, Karayılan said, without giving further details.

The last item in the list was related to observation by independent groups that could help spot problematic issues regarding the withdrawal. The resolution process, meanwhile, will take place in three phases, according to Karayılan, who named the withdrawal as the first stage.

The second stage is the efforts, mainly from the Turkish government and the state, for a permanent solution, he said. “With the reforms within the frame of a constitutional solution, the conditions for democratization in real terms and a solution to the Kurdish problem will emerge,” he said, calling for the abolition of the village guard system, support for the Turkish military and other “special war bodies.”

He also called for the new Constitution, which is currently being drafted under government auspices, to accord a place to the democratic rights, identity, beliefs and religious sects of Kurds. The third stage, which deals with “normalization,” would include freedom for Öcalan, according to Karayılan. “The disarmament of guerrillas will be brought to the agenda following the realization of this process, which will witness the liberation of everyone, including that of leader Öcalan,” Fırat quoted Karayılan as saying.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/militants-will-start-withdrawing-from-turkey-on-may-8-pkk-says.aspx?pageID=238&nID=45632&NewsCatID=338

Apologist for apartheid masquerades as human rights activist


Apologist for apartheid masquerades as human rights activist

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Joëlle Fiss, a pro-Israel lobbyist who poses as a defender of human rights. 
 (European Parliament)
Last night I witnessed an attempt to cover Israel’s crimes against humanity with a veneer of respectability.
Joëlle Fiss is a pro-Israel lobbyist who masquerades as an anti-racist campaigner with Human Rights First, a group dedicated to “American ideals.” Based in New York, she is visiting Brussels this week to promote her new book Tiptoeing on Minefields.
The first speaking engagement of her trip wasorganized by D&D Consulting Services, an outfit headed by Dimitri Dombret, former secretary-general of European Friends of Israel. It took place yesterday.
As Fiss’s job title describes her as a “senior associate” with a “fighting discrimination” program, I felt it would be appropriate to solicit her views on Israel’s systematic discrimination against Palestinians. So I asked her during yesterday’s talk if she agreed that Israel was an apartheid state. Fiss replied that my question was “illegitimate.”

Evasion

“I don’t have discussions with my Palestinian friends” about whether or not Israel is an apartheid state, Fiss said, claiming that they prefer to discuss “checkpoints, refugee issues, the specifics, not generalities.” Her unnamed friends “don’t throw around that word [‘apartheid’]; they are extremely pragmatic, not dogmatic.”
Unwilling to tolerate this evasion, I then asked Fiss if — as a campaigner against discrimination — she was familiar with the UN’s official definition of apartheid, which refers to the domination of one racial or ethnic group over another. It is beyond dispute, I contended, that Jews are accorded more rights by the State of Israel than Palestinians. Fiss said she had no opinion on this matter.
Ironically, her book alludes to the lynchpin in Israel’s apartheid system: the Law of Return. Yet she merely mentions that this 1950 legislation declares that “every Jew has the right to return to his homeland.” Despite all the chats she has apparently conducted with “my Palestinian friends” on “refugee issues,” she does not explicitly acknowledge that Palestinians uprooted by Zionist forces two years earlier are denied the right to return to their homeland. This blatant injustice elicits no response from this purported expert on discrimination.
The 111-page book is influenced by Fiss’ previous job as an official in the European Parliament and her stint chairing the European Union of Jewish Students. Brief and readable, it is nonetheless more a work of propaganda than of intellectual exploration. Fiss, who holds British and Swiss citizenship, is moist-eyed about her devotion to both Israel and the EU. “Just like the EU, Israel represents a utopia to yearn for, as well as a concrete reality to live in,” she writes.
The main argument in her essay is that the Jewish diaspora should consider having a “citizen’s initiative.” It would be modelled on a provision in the EU’s Lisbon treaty, which theoretically allows ordinary people to shape the Union’s agenda if 1 million signatures are collected on a particular topic.

Hogwash

Fiss draws a clumsy parallel between how the Zionist movement “translated a covenant between the Jewish people that led to statehood” and a “constitutional process” in the EU that attempted to “create a tighter connection between its members and its peoples.”
This hogwash overlooks how the EU’s constitution has been rammed down the throats of the EU’s citizens. When French and Dutch voters rejected this blueprint for a militarized and neo-liberal Europe in 2005, it was repackaged and renamed the Lisbon treaty. Ireland was the only country which held a referendum on the revamped treaty; the Irish rejected it in 2008 but were bullied into voting “yes” when a second poll was held the following year.
(The title Tiptoeing on Minefields is, to put it mildly, unfortunate. Fiss concerns herself with metaphorical minefields — the prospect of the tame political ideas she toys with “exploding in your face.” Her beloved Israel, however, has created literal minefields — by, for example, littering large parts of Lebanon with cluster bombs in 2006).
Tomorrow Fiss, will be back in her old workplace, when she will address a breakfast meeting hosted by Frédérique Ries, a Belgian member of the European Parliament (MEP). Ries is a vice-chairwoman of European Friends of Israel, a cross-party alliance of MEPs.
I asked Ries why she was teaming up with a purported champion of human rights like Fiss, when she (Ries) routinely defends a state that denies an entire people its elementary rights. Ries did not reply.

mercredi 24 avril 2013

ITF TURKEY REPRESENTATIVE DR. HICRAN KAZANCI CELEBRATING MESSAGE FOR THE 18TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE IRAQI TURKMEN FRONT



ITF TURKEY REPRESENTATIVE DR. HICRAN KAZANCI CELEBRATING MESSAGE FOR THE 18TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE IRAQI TURKMEN FRONT



We are celebrating the 18th anniversary of the Iraqi Turkmen Front which was founded on the 24th of April 1995 and is the largest organizational structure of the Turkmen.

Since the day of its establishment the Iraqi Turkmen Front has made major progress in defending the rights of the Iraqi Turkmen and eliminated all internal and external threats. Although it was over, the cyclical impact of the Cold War continued into the 1990’s. The Iraqi Turkmen Front has applied rational policies against the developments emerging from the cyclical impact of the Cold War and has been successful in keeping the rights of the Turkmen on both the national as well as international platforms.

The Iraqi Turkmen Front maintained its stand of prioritizing the interests of the Turkmen community and continued on its path also after the new structuring emerging in the region after 2003. Today countries which are within the parenthesis of global forces which are driving regional conflicts centered in Iraq are carrying out a power play in Iraq.

Today attacks and plots against Turkmen, particularly centered on Turkmeneli region, continue in Iraq. These conspiracies are targeting the Iraqi Turkmen Front. However, the Iraqi Turkmen Front which is empowered by the nation is strong enough to overcome these troubles as it has in the past and as it will in the future. With its 18 year history in politics and significant experience, the Iraqi Turkmen Front shall continue to generate strategies for the cyclical protection of the interests of the Turkmen community.
--

lundi 22 avril 2013

Iraq 10 years on: Are the taps flowing?


Iraq 10 years on: Are the taps flowing?

BAGHDAD/DUBAI, 22 April 2013 (IRIN) - For much of the past decade, Iraqis have cursed about two things: 'maya' and 'kahraba' - water and electricity.

These are more than petty complaints; they have become a benchmark by which Iraqis judge progress in their country. A recent survey by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) [ http://www.ndi.org/files/NDI-Iraq%20-%20April%202012%20National%20Survey%20-%20Report.pdf
 ] found that 42 percent of 2,000 Iraqis surveyed considered basic services - like water and electricity - among the top two concerns they want the current government to address.

In 2011, more than one-quarter of the population had access to water from the general network for less than two hours a day, and nearly half the population rated the quality of water services in their area as bad or very bad, according to the Iraq Knowledge Network (IKN) [ http://www.iauiraq.org/documents/1677/IKN_Introduction_en.pdf ], a survey of nearly 30,000 households  conducted by the Ministry of Planning's Central Statistics Organization, the Kurdistan Regional Statistics Office and the UN.

According to the UN, most Iraqis have limited access to clean water because of poor infrastructure maintenance and inadequate funding of the water supply system. One-fifth of Iraqis relied on bottled water as their main source of water, and only one-fifth of people had access to water from the general network all day long, the 2011 IKN survey found. The state of disrepair forced significant numbers of people into using river water, despite the health risks, IRIN reported in 2007 [ http://www.irinnews.org/Report/70243/IRAQ-Water-shortage-leads-people-to-drink-from-rivers
 ].

Still, statistics appear to show that access to clean water has improved in the last decade.

ORSAM Report No: 153 Electoral Laws in Iraq

http://www.orsam.org.tr/en/enUploads/Article/Files/2013422_153.pdf
ORSAM Report No: 153 Electoral Laws in Iraq
ORSAM -











After the 2003 U.S. invasion, a new system has been 
strived to be established in Iraq. Within this system,
it was aimed to create a country ruled by 
governments through elections, which is one of
the essential principles of democracy. To that 
end; constituent assembly elections to prepare 
the Iraqi Constitution were held on 30 January 2005, 
Constitutional referendum was held on 15 October 
2005, local and general elections were held on 15 
December 2005, local elections and general 
elections were held respectively on 31 January 2009 
and on 7 March 2010. In the forthcoming two years, 
it is planned to hold two more elections in Iraq. 
In the first place, local elections will be carried out 
on 20 April 2013. Then, general elections are 
expected to be held in 2014.       

Considering the federal structure in Iraq, the local 
elections are such as to shape the Iraqi politics. 
The local elections will be a key to general elections 
to be carried out in 2014. Within  this report, 
Arabic texts of laws on local elections in Iraq, 
as well as their Turkish translations can be found.

 Hasan Kanbolat, ORSAM Director
Full text    
   

dimanche 21 avril 2013

Cult of the Chameleon - documentary by Iranian filmaker Maziar Bahari on the Mujahedin-e Khalq



A documentary by Iranian filmaker Maziar Bahari on the Mujahedin-e Khalq, a designated U.S. foreign terrorist organization. 

Massoud Rajavi is the leader of this bizarre Iranian Cult who over the years helped Ayatollah Khomeini overthow the Shah, then declared war on the Islamic Republic ruthlessly killing their fellow countrymen. They allied themselves with Saddam Hussein but now that he is gone are ardent supporters of the coalition. The MEK has switched allegiances so often that any underlying ideology is long gone. 

Now the MEK is on the verge of getting off the U.S. list of terrorist organizations as a result of a multi-million dollar media & lobbying blitz.

The Fuzzy Line of Terrorism - about MEK terrorist organization

Since this article was written in 2012 the MEK have been removed from the US and EU terror list


The Fuzzy Line of Terrorism
September 27, 2012


The Obama administration’s plan to remove a group of violent Iranian émigrés from the U.S. terror list suggests a readiness to pursue the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend strategy that put the United States on the side of Osama bin Laden and Islamic extremists in Afghanistan in the 1980s, says ex-FBI agent Coleen Rowley.



By Coleen Rowley

And what kind of mind-boggling corruption — of the worst kind – influence-peddling by a “foreign power” (as defined by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to include foreign terrorist groups) — lies hidden behind the curtain?

Could some members of the MEK “foreign terrorist organization,” their murderous history magically erased, be sent to a nice suburb somewhere to live as your next door neighbor as happens with the organized crime “witness protection program?”


Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey

Or will the soon-to-be-legalized “terrorism” of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (or mojahedin-e khalq, usually referred to as MEK) find more utilitarian function in the mode of how U.S. neoconservative officials plotted with and used convicted con artist Ahmad Chalabi and his Iraqi expatriate group to gin up the false “intelligence” that served to launch the unjustified and counter-productive war on Iraq? Even worse, might this new MEK operation end up resembling the sequel to “Charlie Wilson’s War”?

Since we cannot seem to learn from history and therefore seem doomed to repeat our mistakes, all of the above could be true. In any event, the old movie script will require few changes.

From MAK to MEK

The popular 2007 movie “Charlie Wilson’s War” found a way to glorify a rather derelict Texas congressman’s exploits and secret appropriations to fund CIA covert assistance to Mujahedeen “rebels” in Afghanistan (one faction recruited and trained by Osama Bin Laden himself), based on the repeatedly discredited notion that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Hollywood and Tom Hanks also found a way to edit out the real truth:

“That the U.S.-aided Mujahedeen’s ouster of the Soviets in 1989 ultimately led to civil war and the ultra-orthodox Islamic Taliban coming to power in 1996, an event that also enabled anti-Soviet fighter Osama bin Laden and his fledgling al Qaeda to set up a base from which to plan the 9/11 attacks.”

Or as Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed wrote in an article, “Our Terrorists,” for the New Internationalist Magazine: “Osama bin Laden arrived in the country … sent by then-Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki bin Faisal, where he set up the Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK) which helped finance, recruit and train mujahidin fighters.

“Bin Laden, the MAK, and the Afghan mujahidin in total received about half a billion dollars a year from the CIA, and roughly the same from the Saudis, funneled through Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). … Continued US sponsorship of the al-Qaeda-Taliban nexus in Afghanistan was confirmed as late as 2000 in Congressional hearings.

“Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on South Asia, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher – former White House Special Assistant to President Reagan and now Senior Member of the House International Relations Committee – declared that ‘this administration has a covert policy that has empowered the Taliban and enabled this brutal movement to hold on to power’. The assumption is that ‘the Taliban would bring stability to Afghanistan and permit the building of oil pipelines from Central Asia through Afghanistan to Pakistan’”

In other words, Charlie Wilson’s War seriously backfired and was a significant factor that gave rise to the 9/11 attacks. (Incidentally — and a big reason why there’s so little hope of anyone having learned from this sordid history — is that Dana Rohrabacher happens to be one of the main congressmen who has now taken big sums of money from the MEK front groups!)

An October 2010 report (“Restoring Afghanistan’s Tribal Balance”) for the New World Strategies Coalition described U.S. covert support of the Mujahedeen as follows:

“During the ‘jihad’ against the Soviets, the Judeo-Christian West teamed up with violent Islamic radicals of the worst sort, against the Soviets, because they shared a common hatred for the godless communists.

“The same people American leaders once called ‘freedom fighters’ throughout the 80′s are now [in the current war] violent extremist jihadist terrorists who commit immoral acts and heinous human rights violations that all Americans should find deplorable.

“Of course, before 9/11 when these ‘terrorists’ were fighting against the Soviets, they were ‘our terrorists’ and such human rights violations and war crimes hardly ever made the press. Today, people aren’t really supposed to remember nor point out this interesting historical irony, especially within the media.”

By fast-forwarding 30 years and changing one vowel, (MAK to MEK) we see history repeating almost exactly. There’s ample evidence that Iranian MEK terrorists, “our new terrorists,” are responsible for conducting assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists.

U.S. officials confirmed the charges leveled by Iran’s leaders as well as the fact that the killings and bombings in Iran were financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service. In an exclusive report, NBC reported that:

“The group, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, has long been designated as a terrorist group by the United States, accused of killing American servicemen and contractors in the 1970s and supporting the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran before breaking with the Iranian mullahs in 1980.

“The attacks, which have killed five Iranian nuclear scientists since 2007 and may have destroyed a missile research and development site, have been carried out in dramatic fashion, with motorcycle-borne assailants often attaching small magnetic bombs to the exterior of the victims’ cars.” [From NBC Rock Center exclusive report, February, 2012]

Last April, Seymour Hersh reported in the New Yorker article “Our Men in Iran” that members of MEK were also being trained in Nevada by U.S. Joint Special Operation Command for covert actions to topple the Iranian government.

The following comments are from former U.S. security experts Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett’s excellent analysis of the highly politicized flip-flop, “By Delisting the MEK, the Obama Administration is taking the Moral and Strategic Bankruptcy of America’s Iran Policy to a New Low“:

“We have seen too many times over the years just how cynically American administrations have manipulated these designations, adding and removing organizations and countries for reasons that have little or nothing to do with designees’ actual involvement in terrorist activity. … Yet, precisely because we know how thoroughly corrupt and politicized these designations really are, we recognize their significance as statements of U.S. policy.

“Today, the Obama administration made a truly horrible statement about U.S. policy toward Iran. … Just this year, U.S. intelligence officials told high-profile media outlets that the MEK is actively collaborating with Israeli intelligence to assassinate Iranian nuclear scientists. …; Iranian officials have made the same charge.

“Since when did murdering unarmed civilians (and, in some instances, members of their families as well) on public streets in the middle of a heavily populated urban area (Tehran) not meet even the U.S. government’s own professed standard for terrorism? …

“Here, the Obama administration is taking an organization that the U.S. government knows is directly involved in the murder of innocent people and giving this group Washington’s ‘good housekeeping seal of approval.’… Count on this: once the MEK is formally off the FTO list — a legally defined process that will take a few months to play out — Congress will be appropriating money to support the monafeqin as the vanguard of a new American strategy for regime change in Iran.

“In the 1990s, similar enthusiasm for Ahmad Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress — who were about as unpopular among Iraqis as the MEK is among Iranians — led to President Bill Clinton’s signing of the Iraq Liberation Act, which paved the way for George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003. The chances for such a scenario to play out with regard to Iran over the next few years — with even more disastrous consequences for America’s strategic and moral standing — got a lot higher today.”

Flynt Leverett served as a Middle East expert on George W. Bush’s National Security Council staff until the Iraq War and worked previously at the State Department and at the Central Intelligence Agency. Hillary Mann Leverett was the NSC expert on Iran and — from 2001 to 2003 — was one of only a few U.S. diplomats authorized to negotiate with the Iranians over Afghanistan, al-Qaeda and Iraq.

Governmental Influence-Peddling

A steady flow totaling in the millions of dollars during these last years has been revealed, funneled through various front groups to latter-day Charlie Wilson U.S. Congresspersons, Washington lobbying firms and former high level Department of Justice, Homeland Security, military and U.S. counter-terrorism officials.

Check out the excellent reports — here and here – of Chris McGreal, a Guardian investigative journalist based in Washington who really did some good research attempting to trace the sordid money trail, writing:

“US policy change on banned Iranian group came after extraordinary fundraising operation to transform its image. Only a few years ago, US authorities were arresting pro-MEK activists. To the US government, the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK) was a terrorist group alongside al-Qaida, Hamas and the Farc in Colombia. The MEK landed on the list in 1997 with American blood on its hands and by allying itself with Saddam Hussein along with a long list of bombings inside Iran.

“But the organisation is regarded very differently by a large number of members of Congress, former White House officials and army generals, and even one of the US’s most renowned reporters, Carl Bernstein. They see the MEK as a victim of US double dealings with the regime in Tehran and a legitimate alternative to the Iran’s Islamic government.

“That difference is in no small part the result of a formidable fundraising operation and campaign to transform the MEK’s image led by more than 20 Iranian American organisations across the US. These groups and their leaders have spent millions of dollars on donations to members of Congress, paying Washington lobby groups and hiring influential politicians and officials, including two former CIA directors, as speakers.

“In a highly sensitive political game, MEK supporters have succeeded in pressing the state department into removing the group from the list of terrorist organisations after winning a court order requiring a decision to be made on the issue before the end of this month. But its supporters were forced to tread a careful path so as not to cross anti-terrorism laws.

“Only a few years ago, the US authorities were arresting pro-MEK activists and freezing the assets of front groups for ‘material support for a terrorist organization.’ Now members of Congress openly praise the group in apparent contradiction of the anti-terrorism legislation many of them supported. Nearly 100 members of the House of Representatives backed a resolution calling on the US government to drop the MEK from the terrorist list.”

Most of the damning details, however, of what would probably be otherwise considered “material support for terrorism” will probably lie buried and stamped “Top Secret” in Treasury Department files forced closed when the presumptive targets of the investigation turned out to include over three dozen top U.S. officials and even many of the federal investigators’ former bosses and cronies, including:

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey; former Assistant Attorney General and Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff; two former CIA Directors; former DOJ Attorney and Homeland Security Advisor to the President Frances Townsend; former U.S. Attorney and NYC Mayor Rudy Guiliani; former FBI Director Louis Freeh; former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, etc.

Clearly such powerful “political considerations” can trump the law and easily subvert even the U.S. terrorism laws constantly promoted since 9/11 as all-important but now turned on their head. So unless a brave whistleblower or two steps forward, we probably won’t know much more about the presumably-forced closure of these criminal terrorism investigations for another 20 years or so until a federal judge finally rules in agreement with a FOIA request. Or unless new movie producers can force some leaks out to jazz up the old script.

“Terrorism” Propaganda

The last 11 years have seen almost uninterrupted, cynical exaggerating and distorting of the threat of Mideast “terrorism” by our mainstream media (to scare us into doing dumb things like launching war on countries like Iraq that had no connection to 9/11) so it was strangely out of the norm for the Washington Post article to frame the de-listing of the MEK Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) as humanitarian intervention.

Interestingly, the Post reporter also chose the term “label” to minimize the importance of the U.S. government’s designation-undesignation of a “FTO” in the case of the MEK.

So it’s just a “label” when Michael Mukasey and three dozen other high level political figures flouted the law in support of a “foreign terrorist organization.” But would the Post say mere FTO “labels” justify launching thousands of U.S. government investigations and prosecutions of ordinary, non-powerful, non politically-connected people for “material support”?

There are 23 anti-war activists in the Midwest who are still under Department of Justice investigation two years after their homes were raided by the FBI; and there are thousands of people serving long prison terms or, even worse, on “kill lists” to be summarily executed due, the Government would allege, to even a fleeting or tenuous connection to someone or some group on the U.S. FTO list.

Furthermore, no transparency, no judicial process has seemingly existed — until MEK’s big money lobbying campaign came along — to dispute the accuracy of such FTO “labels.”

An article at the Bill of Rights Defense Committee’s “Peoples Blog for the Constitution” entitled “Terrorist designation a problem? Befriend a politician” points out this terrible double standard:

“The severe ramifications of this law have resulted in solitary confinement and a fifteen year sentence for US citizen Fahad Hashmi, who allowed a suitcase of raincoats at his apartment, and a 17 year sentence for Tarek Mehanna, who translated a text by a Saudi religious scholar.

“The removal of the MEK from the FTO list demonstrates not only the double-standard for enforcement of material support laws, but also the over-broad and heavy-handed criminalization of constitutionally protected activity.

“When the overbroad law resulted in investigations of prominent politicians and former officials, the law was not modified to address First Amendment concerns, but instead maintained, while a specific organization was removed from the terrorist list to accommodate those politicians’ activities. The material support law should be changed so that it doesn’t criminalize association, expression, or other activity protected by the First Amendment, or efforts aimed to advance humanitarian goals.”

Finally, consider how unbelievable and incongruent for the MEK to have such a powerful lobby that it can reach its tentacles into U.S. political “leadership” like this, spending millions of dollars in exchange for political endorsements and yet be portrayed at the very same time, as the Post and other media does, as a poor group of refugees trapped in Iraq enemy territory in need of humanitarian intervention.

Where would this refugee group which (for 15 years) has been designated a “foreign terrorist organization” get the millions it paid to U.S. officials and politicians for their assistance and influence-peddling? News articles do allude to the fact that the payments and the political pressure were in violation of U.S. law, but these articles fail to go into how and why federal investigators were apparently forced to drop their investigation of officials who received huge payments from the MEK.

The big-money model for lobbyist success has paved the way for the coalition of MEK front groups to corrupt U.S. Government by funneling millions of dollars from who-knows-where to elected and appointed political figures to turn dark into light. Certainly there will now be other foreign-based front groups following this example in ever more flagrant disregard of what Justice Brandeis long ago warned us, about how government wrongdoing and contempt for (and subversion of) the law functions.

Contrast the portrayal of the need for “humanitarian intervention” on behalf of what was portrayed as defenseless women and children refugees in the MEK Camp in Iraq with the millions of dollars that have gone into PR propaganda firms, corrupt U.S. congresspersons and former high level DOJ, Homeland Security and counter-terrorism officials to essentially re-write the history of a violent terrorist group that worked for Saddam Hussein — who some of these same officials were, only a decade before, falsely implying was responsible for 9/11.

Why did these millions of dollars not go to helping the MEK women and children move from Iraq if they are in such danger instead of going into corrupt U.S. political figures’ pockets?

If only the American people would wake up to this corruption, they might find themselves, at the very least, extremely confused that some of the same U.S. political figures who were so hell-bent to take out Saddam Hussein are now sponsoring one of Saddam’s main “terrorist” underlings.

Don’t they remember Charlie Wilson’s War? Or what Friedrich Nietzsche said: “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.”

Coleen Rowley, a FBI special agent for almost 24 years, was legal counsel to the FBI Field Office in Minneapolis from 1990 to 2003. She wrote a “whistleblower” memo in May 2002 and testified to the Senate Judiciary on some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures. She retired at the end of 2004, and now writes and speaks on ethical decision-making and balancing civil liberties with the need for effective investigation. [This article previously appeared at HuffingtonPost.]


samedi 20 avril 2013

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT : 2012 progress report on Turkey


European Parliament resolution of 18 April 2013 on the 2012 Progress Report on Turkey (2012/2870(RSP)) – P7_TA-PROV(2013)0184


The European Parliament, – having regard to the Commission’s 2012 Progress Report on Turkey (SWD(2012)0336),

– having regard to the communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council entitled ‘Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2012-2013’ (COM(2012)0600),


– having regard to its previous resolutions, in particular those of 9 March 2011 on Turkey’s 2010 progress report[1], 29 March 2012 on Turkey’s 2011 progress report[2], 22 May 2012 on a 2020 perspective for women in Turkey[3], and 22 November 2012 on Enlargement: policies, criteria and the EU’s strategic interests[4],

– having regard to the Negotiating Framework for Turkey of 3 October 2005,

– having regard to Council Decision 2008/157/EC of 18 February 2008 on the principles, priorities and conditions contained in the Accession Partnership with the Republic of Turkey[5] (‘the Accession Partnership’), as well as to the previous Council decisions on the Accession Partnership of 2001, 2003 and 2006,

vendredi 19 avril 2013

The Looted and Abused Iraqi Culture- Ten years after the Invasion- Let Us not Forget by Hashim Al-Tawil


The Looted and Abused Iraqi Culture- Ten years after the Invasion- Let Us not Forget
by Hashim Al-Tawil

March 12, 2013


A NEW NUMBER OF THE SWEDISH IRAQ MAGAZINE has been published to mark the 10th anniversary of the war.









Iraq, Mesopotamia- the land between the rivers- the cradle of civilization, the land and its people who invented much of what we do in our present time in all aspects of life, the first language, the first school system, agriculture, the law, mythology, religion, urban system, and the arts. This land was invaded in 2003 by the Americans and the British primarily but with the help and support of other neighboring countries and some Iraqis both inside and outside Iraq. Former American president George W. Bush and his partner former British prime minister Tony Blair headed the campaign which was shrewdly fabricated and built on lies and false accusations. Gorge W. Bush manipulated and abused the power and economic assets of both people of Iraq and America for the benefit of few corporate giants. Both Bush and Blair appropriated human lives, national assets, and abused Iraq and its people. All Iraqis are losers: those in power, the millions living in Iraq and those who left the country.

One of the most destructive accomplishments of the invasion has been the installation of sectarianism and the quota system, which promptly instigated a major social fragmentation, and provoked bloody cycles of political revenge, and sectarian reprisal. Millions of Iraqis fled the country and are still refugee everywhere. Hundreds of "country builders": academics, professionals, specialists, experts, and technocrats have been assassinated and murdered; Thousands have been forced to flee the country and have not been given the opportunity to contribute to rebuilding Iraq. Among them are hundreds of professional artists, architects, and cultural administrators forced into exile and manipulation. Ten years after the invasion and Iraq is more a consumer country and less productive.

The invasion and occupation swiftly put the country and its people to waste beyond repair. The human toll of that invasion has been paramount and so is the monumental cultural loss. Bombing, air raids, and direct military operations in cities and towns killed thousands of Iraqis all across the country; thousands of Iraqis have been imprisoned, detained, kidnapped, tortured and in many cases disappeared. Sectarianism has been nurtured, and the division of the country has been realized further, and what used to be one unified country is now on the verge of fragmentation and dissection.

One of the early casualty- and result of the invasion was the cultural loss. Beside the looting of the Iraqi museum and the spread of illicit excavation, robing, and smuggling of archeological sites, there was the abuse and destruction of historic architectural monuments and sites. Early on, invading troops occupied and used major archeological sites in the south- Babylon and Ur as military bases, constructed military installation such as chopper platforms and gravel roads to accommodate heavy trucks on the foundations of these sites, which caused extensive damage. It was also under the watching eyes of the occupying forces that the illicit excavation went on for years with illegal digging, unearthing and smuggling of antiquities. The occupying forces also failed to protect many medieval Islamic buildings and monuments. The following is a brief introduction to some of those lost or damaged medieval Islamic monuments during the early years of the occupation of Iraq.



1: The spiral minaret of the Great Mosque of Samarra built by the Abbasid caliph Al-Mutawakkil in 847, in Samara. This historic and unique –about 53 meters high minaret was partially damaged in 2005. US forces in clear violation of international guideline of protecting national heritage used the top part of the minaret as a military lookout and sniper post. On April 1, 2005 Iraqi resistance blasted the sniper post.

The Minaret of the Great Mosque of Samarra.


Built by the Abbasid caliph Al-Mutawakkil in 847

The damaged top of the minaret in 2005




2: The Minaret of Ana Mosque, Ana, Anbar Province, 28 meters high.

The minaret of 'Ana is commonly attributed to the Abbasid-Uqaylids 11th - 12th century. It was erected along with the congregational mosque in Ana. Conservation work on the monument was undertaken in 1935, 1963 and 1964. When the valley was flooded by the Qadisiyya Dam at Haditha in 1984-5, the Iraqi Antiquities authorities relocated the minaret – professionally cut it into sections, and removed it to the new 'Ana where it was re-erected at the end of the 1980s. It was destroyed on June 22, 2006 by an unknown source, probably to instigate religious sectarian friction.

The octagonal base has an arched opening on the north side providing access to the interior of the minaret. Its octagonal shaft leans sidewise. It is decorated with eight rows of arched niches set in rectangular frames. Every row is composed of eight niches located on each of the eight sides of the octagon. Some of these sixty-four niches constitute windows to light the internal staircase. It has an octagonal body enhanced by alcoves, some of which are blind. Inside is a spiral stairway encircling a ribbed stone column.

An American soldier posted this short clip which shows US soldiers detonating explosives at the base of that Minaret and the voice of one soldier in the clip announces "… It cracked it all the way up…."https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=Voho25JQMLc

Other clips posted by US soldiers on the Internet show similar destruction to other mosques in Iraq. In this clip a mosque and its minaret are taken in one artillery hit:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyIBsDeUatg

This clip shows US forces destroy a mosque in a video game style:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SDfG0WQyqg

Or this clip which shows a deliberate unprovoked insane firing on a minaret with the aim of toppling it down:https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=jO7xwnZA124


The minaret of `Ana was built in the 11-12th century The minaret was relocated in the 1980s. The destroyed minaret in 2006




3: Al- 'Askari complex in Samarra is an important religious pilgrimage site for Shi`is pilgrims not only from Iraq but also from other Islamic countries. The site includes the mausoleums of the two Shi`i imams 'Ali al-Hadi and al-Hasan al-'Askari. The shrine/mosque was built in the tenth century CE with subsequent remodeling and additions. The last major remodeling and embellishment was done in the 19th century with funding from the Qajar dynasty. The golden dome was added in the early 20th century.

In February 2006 the dome was destroyed in a surprising bombing. Its two remaining minarets were destroyed in another bombing in June 2007. US officials reported that the minarets were blown up by Al-Qaeda. The bombing of this complex enraged Iraqis and sparked a severe sectarian reprisal that resulted in further bombing and destruction of smaller mosques throughout Iraq in different cities in Babil, Basra, and Baghdad. In Basra the shrine/mosque of a companion of the prophet Mohammed-Talha Bin al-Zubair was destroyed on June 15, 2007. As noted above the Askari complex was a religious pilgrimage site that generates major economic revenue for the city and residence of Samarra. It is hardly conceivable that any Iraqi- Sunni or Shi`i would even speculate on committing such a crime.



The first bombing (the dome) in 2006



Al-`Askeri Site after the destruction of the two minarets in 2007




4: The Iraqi Jewish Historical Collection and the Archive of the Iraqi Government:

Some objects of the historic Iraqi-Jewish collection such as the 16th century Torah scroll were taken from the Iraqi Museum of Antiquities under the supervision of the US authorities in 2003, and the other part, mainly the archive which was stored in the basement of the Mukhabaraat building in Baghdad. The US bombing flooded that basement and the water impacted the entire collection. US forces transferred the collection to the National Archives and Records Administration in the US. The archive also include some 7 million pages of records of the Iraqi government including the entire record of the Ba`th party. In 2007 the looted Iraqi Torah surfaced at Temple Isaiah in Maryland and an online article of the Baltimore Sun on October 28, 2007 shows Rabbi Mark Panoff celebrating the housing of the looted Iraqi Torah. Books and other objects from that looted cultural collection have been reported to reach Israel.

As for the Iraqi archive, it has been reported that the Hoover Institution, a think tank and library affiliated with Stanford University, signed a deal in February 2008 with Kan`an Makiyya- head of the so called Iraq Memory Foundation—a private, nonprofit group that has had custody of the documents since just after the invasion of Iraq in April 2003—for the transfer of the entire archive and other artifacts from Saddam Hussein's tenure as Iraqi president. The Iraqi government has been following up on the return of this archive in vain and without any positive response.

The flooded Iraqi archive 2003
 

The Iraqi-Jewish collection transferred from the Iraqi museum in 2003 Rabbi Mark Panoff of Temple Isaiah, Maryland welcomes the looted Iraqi Torah to his synagogue in 2007


Dr. Hashim Al-Tawil, Professor of Art History. Born in Iraq, lives and works in Michigan since 1992.

Link to THE SWEDISH IRAQ MAGAZINE
Source

Irak’ta Yerel Seçimler Nereye Gidiyor? Where Are the Local Elections in Iraq Heading To?


Irak’ta Yerel Seçimler Nereye Gidiyor?
Where Are the Local Elections in Iraq Heading To?

ORSAM - Bilgay DUMAN


http://www.orsam.org.tr/tr/trUploads/Yazilar/Dosyalar/2013419_8bilgayduman.pdf

http://www.orsam.org.tr/tr/yazigoster.aspx?ID=4417

lundi 15 avril 2013

IRAK, L'OMBRE DE LA GUERRE - Film by Anne Nivat

REPOSTING




Anne Nivat, grand reporter de guerre indépendante, nous plonge au cœur de la société irakienne. Auteur de nombreux livres sur la question, elle est retournée en Irak cette fois avec une caméra pour retrouver certains de ses amis. Pendant dix ans, elle avait appris à les connaître en partageant leur quotidien, même au plus fort de la guerre. Toujours seule, sans autre protection que celle des familles qui l'accueillaient, Anne Nivat est restée volontairement discrète, par respect pour ses hôtes et pour ne pas devenir une cible.

Une mère, un pharmacien, un prêtre, un ancien amiral déchu de l'armée de Saddam Hussein, osent pudiquement témoigner. Dix ans après l'entrée en guerre des Américains, un an et demi après le départ des derniers soldats étrangers, on se rend compte que la guerre en Irak n'est pas vraiment terminée. 

Un film qui s'aventure où l'on ne va jamais, avec émotion et retenue

dimanche 14 avril 2013

UN envoy in Iraq welcomes beginning of parliamentary voting process




Special Representative Martin Kobler. UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz


13 April 2013 – The top United Nations official in Iraq today welcomed the smooth conduct of the Governorate Council Elections' Special Voting, where Iraqi soldiers and policeman cast their ballots ahead of next week's main vote.

“Today's special voting marks the beginning of the voting process,” the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Martin Kobler said in a news release.

The country's electoral body, the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), demonstrated “a high level of professionalism in this first election organized under full Iraqi ownership,” Mr. Kobler stressed.

“Now that Iraqi security forces, police and military have exercised their right to cast their ballot, all eyes are focused on the election day on 20 April,” the UN Envoy noted. He urged the security forces to ensure a free and secure environment for the elections.

At least 15.5 million Iraqis are eligible to vote in the 20 April polls, according to official estimates, where more than 8,000 candidates are reportedly vying for 378 seats on provincial councils.

Provincial councils are responsible for nominating governors who take charge of the provinces' administration, finances and reconstruction projects.

“It is of the utmost importance that voters turn out in an orderly and safe environment free of violence, threats and intimidation,” Mr. Kobler concluded.

Next week's elections are the first Iraq has held since parliamentary elections in 2010.

vendredi 12 avril 2013

How Paul Bremer tried to ignore Iraq's Ayatollah Sistani


Joel Wing - Musings on Iraq


Paul Bremer, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) arrived in Iraq in May 2003. He was determined to put his stamp upon the country. He had a vision for how it would become a democracy, which would require up to two years of transition under his supervision. This was to be a top down process that had little room for what Iraqis wanted. This ran into immediate opposition from Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most senior Shiite cleric in Iraq. He wanted Iraqis to have a voice in the process, and demanded that elections be held as soon as possible to draw up a new Iraqi constitution, and government. Bremer consistently rejected the cleric’s demands until Washington forced him to compromise. It was an ironic turn of events as Sistani consistently pushed for a faster turn towards democracy than the Americans did.


CPA head Paul Bremer wanted to run Iraq as a viceroy, and did not want to listen to prominent Iraqis like Ayatollah Sistani (AFP)



Paul Bremer envisioned a long process of building a new democratic Iraq. At first, many believed that he would quickly set up an interim government to turn over control to Iraqis, but he immediately squashed that idea. Instead, he created the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) with some help from the United Nations in July 2003. The council was tasked with coming up with a timetable for selecting a constitutional drafting body, and when the document would be written. Afterward there would be elections for a new Iraqi government. He speculated that process might take up to two years. Then on September 8, he wrote an op ed for the Washington Post where he clarified his plans. He ruled out early balloting, because there were no voter roles, no districts, or laws on elections or political parties. Instead he proposed a three-step process. The first was the creation of the Iraqi Governing Council. Then a constitutional committee would be formed by August. A constitution would be drafted, then a referendum held on it, followed by elections for a permanent government, finished off by sovereignty being returned. While Iraqis were minimally included in the process through the Governing Council, Bremer demanded that he be in charge, and have ultimate say. For example, no Iraqis were included in formulating his plan. Many were unhappy with this idea, including the ones that Bremer chose as partners, and his superiors back in Washington.

jeudi 11 avril 2013

ITF Turkey Representative Dr. Hicran Kazancı reacted to the Minister of Education of Baghdad



Although 10 years have gone by since the dictator of Iraq was ousted and 10 years have been spent on the path to democratization, democracy is obstructed because there are still those in the Baghdad administration who have not been able to discard their dictator-like and chauvinist mentality. 
Regardless of the fact that the Turkmen language is an official language according to the Constitutional Law, on the 9th of April 2013 the principal of the Kirkuk Girls High school, Nursen Abdullah who is of Turkmen origin was relieved of her duties by the Minister of Education of Baghdad Muhammet Timim because she spoke the Turkmen language during the flag raising ceremony, which is an indicator of where the position of democracy in Iraq has reached because of his mentality.
It is thought provoking that the applications regarding the Turkmen take this turn although Turkmen rights have been approved in parliament. We anticipate that all the Turkmen ministers and members of parliament in Baghdad address this issue.


mardi 9 avril 2013

ITF TURKEY REPRESENTATIVE KAZANCI MET WITH AK PARTY GENERAL VICE PRESIDENT KURTULMUŞ



ITF TURKEY REPRESENTATIVE KAZANCI MET WITH AK PARTY GENERAL VICE PRESIDENT KURTULMUŞ

        
AK Party General Vice President Numan Kurtulmuş met with Iraqi Turkmen Front Turkey Representative Dr. Hicran Kazancı at the AK Party Headquarters. The developments and the political crisis in Iraq were discussed at the meeting.

After the meeting a joint press conference was arranged and Dr. Hicran Kazancı said that they had discussed the developments in Iraq, the deepening crisis and stopping the violence in the Turkmeneli region.  Kazancı said:

“Turkey is the main country which can be effective in stopping the crisis in Iraq from deepening any further and stopping the bloodbaths. It is evident particularly after 2003 that in its policies in terms of Iraq, Turkey has maintained an equal distance to all the groups there. Turkey has arranged for those injured in terror related explosions to be examined and treated in Turkey without delay. This is arranged without considering ethnic identities. … Turkey made significant efforts to have the Sunni included in the political equation when they were excluded. The same efforts would have been executed on behalf of the Shiites if they had been excluded.”

Kazancı thanked Kurtulmuş for his concern.

In his speech Kurtulmuş emphasized that the problems in the region could be resolved with stability and negotiations by saying, “We are for the integration of the people in the region. We want the Iraqi Turkmen to have a say in the future of Iraq”. Kurtulmuş indicated that two words held the key to establishing peace in the region by saying:

“One of these words is stability. The second one is negotiation. Yes, there may be problems between us. There may be political, social, economic problems among the people of these territories, these regions. In order to resolve these problems we are obliged to be receptive to negotiation and that these negotiations produce common ideas as well as act in such a way that the interests of all the people in the region are taken into consideration.  The second issue is political stability. Policies established on the incitement of conflict, segregation, differences, diversity will not be beneficial. In addition, it is clearly evident and natural that we have unique emotional ties with our Turkmen brothers in Northern Iraq. We are in close affiliation with the Turkmen in Northern Iraq, Kirkuk, Mosul and Telafar who are our kin.”