Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Ten Thousand Maniacs

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  • Russell Brown,

    The Guardian reports on a complex picture emerging around the identity of the attackers:

    As police worked to identify the seven militants, all of whom died in the attacks, Molins also confirmed that at least one of the fighters, identified by his fingerprints, was a French national from the Paris suburb of Courcouronnes. The man, born in 1985, had a criminal record and had been flagged as an extremist as early as 2010, the prosecutor said.

    Relatives of one of the attackers, a Frenchman born in the Paris suburbs, were later arrested on Saturday, according to French authorities who said that searches were underway.

    Molins also said earlier that a Syrian passport, belonging to a man born in 1990 who was not known to the French authorities, had been found lying close by the bodies of two other jihadis, who both blew themselves up in the course of their attacks.

    Greece’s citizen protection minister, Nikos Toskas, said earlier that that the passport’s owner had entered the European Union through the Greek island of Leros on 3 October, adding: “We do not know if the passport was checked by other countries through which the holder likely passed.”

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22825 posts Report Reply

  • Suzanne McNamara,

    I've spent the morning reading about ISIS and what motivates them. They are brutal but are convincing to many. Troops on the ground will play into their grand vision of a final battle and apocalypse. This article explains it well
    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/03/what-isis-really-wants/384980/

    Auckland • Since Feb 2012 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    While victims were still lying where they fell, US Republican presidential aspirant Ted Cruz responded by rejecting ”outreach or declarations of tolerance” in favour of airstrikes with more “tolerance for civilian casualties”.

    I know it's never going to happen, but I'd love to see Hollande and Angela Merkel (who's far too nice to refugees for the American right's liking) to hold a joint press conference and say something like this:

    "When we want the advice of American politicians on our gun regulations, policies towards migrants or, basically, anything else? We will ask for it. But we strongly recommend not holding your breath until then."

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Tony Meyer,

    From what I understand, your last image there should be credited to Jean Jullien.

    Ahuroa • Since Jul 2012 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Tony Meyer,

    From what I understand, your last image there should be credited to Jean Jullien.

    Fair point. I grabbed it from Twitter and thought the credit would come through with it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22825 posts Report Reply

  • Astro Puss,

    Of course at the heart of most US political proclamations is the need for this to continue and escalate, in order to apease the interests of their multi-million dollar munitions industry sponsors. To sit back and preach peace and tolerance is anathema.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2015 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    To be fair to Senator Cruz, if you're going to get into a tone-deaf douche-off you will be Trumped:

    “When you look at Paris, toughest gun laws in the world, nobody had guns but the bad guys,” the Republican presidential candidate said during an appearance in Texas, in remarks broadcast by CNN. “Nobody had guns. And they were just shooting them one by one, and then they broke in and had a big shootout and ultimately killed the terrorists.”

    “And I will tell you what—you can say what you want, if they had guns, if our people had guns, if they were allowed to carry, it would have been a much, much different situation,” Trump added.

    OK, you expect the guy who had no idea China isn't party to the TPP to have a clue that France's gun regulations are far from the "toughest in the world". (Instead what France does have is a pretty sensible and rigorously enforced licensing regime, and doesn't recognize some inalienable human right for civilians to possess military-grade automatic weapons.)

    But perhaps he'd keep his Dirty Harry fantasies to himself, speaking in a country where there's been a string of high profile gun violence in movie theaters -- the most recent a little over three months ago.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • andrew r,

    Great post Russell. Cheers

    auckland • Since May 2007 • 99 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    But if the West joins Russia in backing the Assad regime as the lesser of two or three evils, it will be lending support to the original architect of Syria’s civil war

    So Assad’s incumbent administration designed a civil war to potentially oust itself and decimate its country while allowing verifiable information that it was the architect of these events to be widely disseminated via western media.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to chris,

    So Assad’s incumbent administration designed a civil war to potentially oust itself and decimate its country while allowing verifiable information that it was the architect of these events to be widely disseminated via western media.

    Are you hinting at a conspiracy? No.

    In 2011, the Assad regime cracked down brutally on a pro-democracy movement that gained momentum after the arrest and torture of some teenagers who had written some revolutionary grafitti. Government soldiers fired on people who assembled in huge protests that, at the time, were solely demanding democratic reforms.

    Eventually, opposition supporters armed themselves and subsequently formed rebel brigades. A civil war took shape, especially after Syrian Army officers defected to form the Free Syrian Army. At this point, Assad probably still had the support of a majority of the population, if only for the sake of peace. But he ordered shelling of residential neighbourhoods and, very probably, the use of chemical weapons.

    The Kurds got involved after scores of Kurdish civilians in Aleppo were killed in 2012 when Assad's forces shelled their neighbourhood – the first of a number of massacres of Kurdish civilians by the Syrian government. Then Hezbollah weighed in on Assad's side.

    First al Nusrah and then ISIS took advantage of the chaos to enter the fray in 2013, initially as allies of the FSA. But the moderates and ISIS were soon at war themselves. ISIS seized swathes of territory in Syria and then Iraq and also fought the Kurds and al Nusrah.

    Basically, every time a new group joined the fray, things got worse. But it seems pretty clear that Assad began and escalated the violence. The Syria over which he once ruled basically doesn't exist any more.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22825 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The victims in Paris were French, Algerian, Spanish, Brazilian, Tunisian, Swedish, Romanian, Moroccan, Mexican, Portugese ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22825 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Although all members of The Eagles of Death Metal escaped the Bataclan alive, their British merchandise manager and a Universal Music Group employee who worked with the band in France were killed. Bloody awful.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22825 posts Report Reply

  • SteveH, in reply to chris,

    So Assad’s incumbent administration designed a civil war to potentially oust itself and decimate its country while allowing verifiable information that it was the architect of these events to be widely disseminated via western media.

    "Architect" may imply a degree of foresight and planning that wasn't actually present, but it seems incontrovertible that the genesis of the current situation in Syria was Assad's brutal treatment of peaceful protesters.

    Since Sep 2009 • 444 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Are you hinting at a conspiracy?

    I just follow the Guardian [Jan 2012].

    Alas, not in every case. When coverage of an unfolding drama ceases to be fair and turns into a propaganda weapon, inconvenient facts get suppressed. So it is with the results of a recent YouGov Siraj poll on Syria commissioned by The Doha Debates, funded by the Qatar Foundation. Qatar’s royal family has taken one of the most hawkish lines against Assad – the emir has just called for Arab troops to intervene – so it was good that The Doha Debates published the poll on its website. The pity is that it was ignored by almost all media outlets in every western country whose government has called for Assad to go.

    The key finding was that while most Arabs outside Syria feel the president should resign, attitudes in the country are different. Some 55% of Syrians want Assad to stay, motivated by fear of civil war

    As you said:

    Assad probably still had the support of a majority of the population, if only for the sake of peace

    More recently

    Many who supported the original anti-regime protests say they were hijacked by outside powers long ago. Now they just want an end to the struggle, remote though the prospect seems.

    So yes, this happened:

    In 2011, the Assad regime cracked down brutally on a pro-democracy movement that gained momentum after the arrest and torture of some teenagers who had written some revolutionary grafitti. Government soldiers fired on people who assembled in huge protests that, at the time, were solely demanding democratic reforms.*

    here:

    Seven police officers and at least four demonstrators in Syria have been killed in continuing violent clashes that erupted in the southern town of Daraa last Thursday.

    I’m not sure about this:

    But it seems pretty clear that Assad began and escalated the violence.

    I understand there is something of a disconnect which encourages those of us in a democracy to depict the leaders of totalitarian regimes as evil Bond villains (that’s assuming we don’t have a FTA with them), more interested in bloodshed than preserving the oppressive stability of their own regions.

    If the Urewera 18 had been as bad as was reported and not been caught and had incited mayhem causing the PM to impose martial law I doubt very much that we would classify Helen Clark as the architect of the New Zealand civil war.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to SteveH,

    “Architect” may imply a degree of foresight and planning that wasn’t actually present, but it seems incontrovertible that the genesis of the current situation in Syria was Assad’s brutal treatment of peaceful protesters.

    Closer to my point certainly. These things are generally the result of a perfect storm of conditions. Violent clashes or peaceful protesters – depending on reports.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe,

    ....Blood and tears. Fear and silence. A grave silence, broken only by sirens or the sound of helicopter blades. War had come home....
    The victims at Charlie Hebdo and the shop were intentionally targeted as members of specific groups, because of their opinions or religion. This time, it is blind violence against random targets. Paris has discovered something it did not taste 10 months ago, a feeling that belongs to war zones: that violent death could come to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

    This paragraph from Florence Hartmann to me makes the most sense of why the Paris attacks have so shocked the Western world. There is a loss of innocence that such a calculated campaign of violence can happen in a European city to people like you, rather than to people who live in a different culture in another part of the planet.

    Many of us have been repeatedly horrified and disgusted at Beirut, Syria, Gaza, Iraq and the list goes on. It is not a matter of forgetting those events or diminishing them in any way.

    The only parallel I can give from my experience is the Christchurch earthquakes: seeing the images of injury and death and destruction, hearing the constant sirens, and trying to wrap my head around the fact those scenes were on my daily routes, within 15 minutes of home. Then the shock and disbelief hardened into an acceptance that "it" - war, terrorism or natural disaster - could happen to our relatively comfortable lives: People's innocence and feeling of safety disappears, and I don't know if it ever returns.

    The West must prevent that fear and vulnerability calcifying into hate. Unity and understanding are the only ways out.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/15/paris-attacks-aftermath

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2898 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    It’s hard to even conceive of what could ensue from the full-scale ground war that US Republicans seem to be cheering for,

    But some really want too…
    Which is dumber than…anything.
    And yes WAR what is it good for


    There is a simple solution but it requires humility by all parties and that doesnt come easily too many

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Not policing the the extremists is not an option, but that is what is should be – policing.

    It would definitely be worth trying first. The alternative has certainly had a pretty good shot, and here's the result - pretty much no progress whatsoever made despite all the military force in the world.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to andin,

    There is a simple solution but it requires humility by all parties and that doesnt come easily too many

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Olsen,

    Another perspective - from August 2015 and Le Monde Diplomatique http://newsroomplus.com/2015/11/15/the-lazy-rhetoric-of-the-war-of-civilisation/

    Since Aug 2015 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    Vice magazine has a more pragmatism based cause for ISIS shift from a ground campaign to terrorism than The Atlantic piece.

    https://news.vice.com/article/why-the-islamic-state-attacked-paris-and-what-happens-next

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    History is not something which should bind us in it's predictions for the future, but if history is to be our guide the European reaction to the irritant of minority religious fanaticism and/or ethnic minorities has always eventually been the ghetto, ethnic cleansing, and mass expulsions.

    I expect President Le Pen will start taking the first steps along this path in 2017.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2214 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Angela Merkel (who's far too nice to refugees for the American right's liking)

    Merkel is in serious political trouble on the refugee issue and a majority of German public opinion has shifted decisively against her refugee policies. It seems she is far to nice to refugees for many Germans taste as well, especially in the old GDR.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2214 posts Report Reply

  • Henry Barnard, in reply to Hebe,

    There is a loss of innocence that such a calculated campaign of violence can happen in a European city to people like you, rather than to people who live in a different culture in another part of the planet.

    I found these reflections from across the Tasman by Ghassan Hage useful about thinking about this issue in the context of living in New Zealand.

    Palmerston North • Since Aug 2013 • 65 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The Guardian reports on a complex picture emerging around the identity of the attackers:

    If most of the perpetrators turn out to be French-born or naturalised, then there are parallels with the London 7/7 bombings a decade ago. Londoners, being what they were, still by and large kept calm. And carried on.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5429 posts Report Reply

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