Solid Ways to Be an Actual Ally to Black People.

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Solid Ways to Be an Actual Ally to Black People.

As white folks and allies we can do a lot beyond posting sad or outraged status updates on social media. Here are some real world, concrete ways you can show that you understand that Black lives are important and that you won’t stand for them to be taken away in this manner anymore.


  • Call your local police station and ask them what *they* are doing to ensure that incidents like this will not happen in your community. Demand to know how they are training their officers to use non-lethal tactics to deescalate situations so they don’t lead to murder.
  • Call your local government officials. Call your city council members or your Mayor, and ask how they are holding police responsible for their actions and ensuring that they work hard to remove racial bias from their ranks.
  • Get in touch with your representatives on a federal level. Demand to know what they are doing to ensure that officers stop killing Black people.
  • Check out Campaign Zero which can easily help you learn more about what politicians can and should be doing to fix this.


Many of the folks murdered leave behind families that could really use our help right about now. Put your money where your sad face emoji is and donate to these verified crowdfunding pages:


People of color should not be expected to do the work on this. No educating. No explaining. No telling folks not to bring racism to their page. A break is sorely needed. So step up and be an actual ally. Come collect other white folks who are mouthing off when they have no place or right to be doing so. Educate them. Shut them down. Whatever needs to be done.

YOU be the one to post links about racial bias in the judicial system or within the police. You explain why “All Lives Matter” is bullshit.

At the same time, it is your duty to make your space a safe and welcoming one for your friends and family of color. Sure, you might engage with someone in hopes of changing their mind, but do not willfully expose others to hurtful words or blatant racism. Use the block button as it was intended.


Those videos going around? Showing the murder of Alton Sterling or Philando Castile? Watch them. Bear witness to their murders. But please, do not post auto-play links to them on your timelines. POC should choose if they want to view them. However, white folk? We need to watch to understand the fragility of Black lives. So that we can STOP this. But DO NOT watch and then post on your page looking for cookies. Do not fuel the notion of trauma entertainment at the expense of Black lives. But do watch, and do bear witness to these murders. It’s uncomfortable and appalling, but the men who were killed deserve to be acknowledged.


Read and share articles from POC about these murders. Elevate their voices.


Post about them on Facebook or Twitter. Use their names. Use pictures that their family would like you to see, not necessarily the ones that the media is promoting. Remember them as people. As fathers or mothers. As somebody’s child, brother, sister, aunt, or uncle. As a human being. As a Black person worthy of dignity, respect, and their life that was taken from them far too soon.

That’s what we can do.


Scientists conclude that religion has been dividing human society for 2,000 years.

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Scientists conclude that religion has been dividing human society for 2,000 years.

Whether religion is a good or bad force in the world has been a strong topic of debate for a very long time. Scientists have claimed that religion has actually been dividing our society and causing conflict for more than 2,000 years.

They looked at whether religion caused peace or conflict in early state societies.

Researchers from the University of Central Florida and the University of Colorado have released a new anthropological study of several Mexican archaeological sites dating back to 700BC.

“In both the Valley of Oaxaca and the Lower Río Verde Valley, religion was important in the formation and history of early cities and states, but in vastly different ways. Given the role of religion in social life and politics today, that shouldn’t be too surprising.”
Professor Joyce from the University of Colorado

The study was released on Monday in Current Anthropology.

It appears to contradict a long-held belief that religion united early state societies, the study said.

Professor Arthur A.Joyce and Associate Professor Sarah Barber lead several years of field research in the Rio Verde valley and the Valley of Oaxaca on Mexico’s Pacific coast.

They found that local religious rituals helped to forge strong small scale community links which delayed the development of large state institutions.

The scientists were studying the period from approximately 700BC to 250AD and found elites came to dominate religious life and controlled the connection between communities and their gods – leading to conflict with traditional community leaders.


This resulted in the formation of a regional state with the hilltop city of Monte Albán as its capital.

However, religion then caused yet more conflict, and regional states did not last long.

This caused grand temples being built by 100AD, only to be abandoned a century later.

Professor Joyce from the University of Colorado said: “In both the Valley of Oaxaca and the Lower Río Verde Valley, religion was important in the formation and history of early cities and states, but in vastly different ways.

“Given the role of religion in social life and politics today, that shouldn’t be too surprising.”


Insult, provoke, repeat: how Donald Trump became America’s Hugo Chávez.

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Insult, provoke, repeat: how Donald Trump became America’s Hugo Chávez.

He was a one-man media hurricane dominating the news with insults and provocations, promises and policy pronouncements. He would tweet at all hours, phone TV chat shows, stage rollicking rallies.

He hired and fired people live on air. Humiliated and taunted foes and bragged about winning. He could be funny and coarse and buffoonish and broke all the rules about presidential conduct. Inside the topsy-turvy world of Trump: what I learned on the campaign trail
Read more

Over time, it became clear there was genius to it. He sucked up all the oxygen, leaving allies as well as rivals gasping for air. Even if you were sick of him you paid attention.

This may sound familiar as Donald Trump marches towards the Republican presidential nomination. But actually it describes Venezuela from 1999 to 2013 under the reign of Hugo Chávez.

Some called him a clown. They were wrong. Chávez was a shrewd strategist and masterful communicator. He outfoxed elites and channeled frustration into a potent political force.

There are profound differences between the socialist strongman, who died in 2013, and the Manhattan billionaire. If Chávez were alive today he would surely lock horns with the GOP candidate, an ideological opposite. But having reported on both – I was the Guardian’s Latin America correspondent from 2006 to 2012 before moving to Los Angeles to cover the western US – I am struck by the similarities in character and style.

In the extemporized mix of bombast, menace and bawdy humor, the symbiotic relationship with crowds, the articulation of long-repressed grievances, Trump echoes the comandante.

The US is not Venezuela, which today reels from power cuts, food riots and hyperinflation. That is hardly likely here even under President Trump. But with polls giving Trump a chance against Hillary Clinton in November’s election, it is instructive to revisit Venezuela’s fate under a media-savvy populist.

Donald Trump’s mix of bombast, menace and bawdy humor echoes that of the comandante.

I first encountered Trump in July 2015 addressing a rapturous audience in Phoenix, Arizona. It was an unscripted grab-bag of jokes, boasts and tirades against illegal immigrants, Mexico, terrorists, Democrats and fellow Republicans. “Let’s say Jeb Bush is president: ay, ay, ay,” he groaned. “How can I be tied with this guy? He’s terrible.” He bashed other foes and talked up his talents. “I went to the Wharton School of Business. I’m, like, a really smart person.” In cold print that sounds asinine. Verbalized, it was actually funny, and meant to be. The press, Trump continued, jabbing at the media pen, were liars. “They’re terrible people. Terrible. Not all of them, but many of them.”

The crowd booed; one guy gave us the finger and I felt transported back to Valle Seco, a Caribbean hamlet which in August 2007 hosted an episode of Chávez’s weekly TV show, Aló Presidente. From a desk on the blazing beach the soldier-turned-revolutionary bantered with the audience and joked, among other things, about his anatomy. “I’ve a very big size, look.” He bared a foot. “I take 44.” About an hour in (shows tended to last seven hours) I was handed the microphone and asked him if a plan to abolish term limits augured authoritarianism. Chávez scowled, then launched a harangue about media hypocrisy which unspooled into denunciations of capitalism and racism. “Never has a European journalist asked our opinion about the arrival of Christopher Columbus.” As he thundered the red-shirts seated beside me inched away to avoid guilt by association with the terrible media person.

Trump works the same pitch as Chávez – the avenging outsider who will overturn a rotten system – and uses similar methods to show he is that savior.

Trump brags about penis size. Chávez leered at a camera to tell his then wife ‘you’re going to get yours tonight’

Language is key, notably humor, insults and vulgarity to rupture protocol and connect with supporters on a gut level. Trump brands opponents “pussies”, “idiots” and “disgusting”. Chávez branded his opponents “assholes”, “squealing pigs”, “vampires” and, in the case of George W Bush, “more dangerous than a monkey with a razor blade”. Trump brags about penis size. Chávez leered at a camera to tell his then wife, “Marisabel, you’re going to get yours tonight”.

Coarseness reinforces the message that the candidate is different.

“He’s unorthodox, sure, but at this point we need a complete change,” Garry Pollard, 35, a navy veteran-turned-Disneyland cleaner, told me at a recent Trump rally in Anaheim. “Oof, the comandante can make me blush but we need someone who will shake things up,” Alba López, a teacher, told me at a ruling party rally in Caracas in 2010.

Trump’s appeal is not just what he says, it’s how he says it. He shuns teleprompters and makes freewheeling discourses, one moment plugging his books, the next vowing to “bomb the shit” out of the Islamic State. Over the course of 20 minutes I clocked him riffing on Caterpillar trucks, golf balls, trade deals, phone calls from Paris, Humvees, conversations with his wife, Sino-Russian relations, sanctuary cities, Hillary Clinton and his desire to send “traitor” Sgt Bowe Bergdahl (the freed US army hostage) back to Afghanistan.

Chávez also improvised and zigzagged from the personal to the political, whimsical to the serious. It injected energy and tension into speeches because anything could happen. He would discuss his favourite book, then veer to trade deals, housing construction, baseball, phone calls from Havana, conversations with his daughters, Latin American solidarity, socialist cities, Barack Obama, alleged coup attempts and his desire to jail opponents and “traitors”, who in many cases were subsequently jailed .(Recognising his gift of the gab, the army trained Chávez in communications, and as a young officer he once hosted a local beauty pageant.)
‘You’re fired’

Trump revels in his persona from The Apprentice: a boss unafraid to usher his signature catchphrase “you’re fired”. Chávez gloried in such power. In 2002 he went on TV to dispatch executives of the national oil company, PDVSA, naming and shaming with gusto. “Eddy Ramírez, general director, until today, of the Palmaven division. You’re out!” He grinned and blew a whistle with each firing.

Trump, like Chávez, baits opponents and exults when they bite. “Thank you!” the real estate businessman yelled at a protester who infiltrated a recent rally in San Diego, as the man was bundled out. Such scenes bolster his stagecraft. When a protester was escorted out of another rally, he said: “I’d like to punch him in the face.” The audiences crackle with glee and sometimes violence. Protesters who burn flags and clash with police, as happened in Albuquerque and San Jose, play into his hands. “Did you see them?” he demands. Supporters howl.

Chávez, in fact, perfected this tactic. He played opponents like a harp, plucking strings so they overreacted in ways which, he noted happily, “drove them crazy”. It helped that some were discredited, racist elites. They called him a monkey and enlisted the Bush administration’s tacit backing for a 2002 coup which briefly ousted Chávez. Then they staged a ruinous national strike. Forced to choose, most Venezuelans backed the president.

When opponents moderated and played by the democratic rules Chávez did not ease up. He calculated that Venezuela’s electoral arithmetic made polarisation a winning strategy. So he denounced opponents as worms, fascists and CIA saboteurs and blacklisted millions who signed a petition against him.

Presidential patronage enlisted enablers to stoke division. Chávez appointed judges who enforced executive decisions. Electoral authorities hobbled his opponents. State media pumped propaganda, led by Mario Silva, a TV host who used leaked wiretaps to assail opposition politicians as “scum”, “faggots” and “limp dicks”. Chávez declared it his favourite show and phoned in to banter with Silva. “Did you see The Razorblade last night?” he would ask supporters at a rally. “Magnificent.” If you think Trump’s bromance with Fox’s Sean Hannity cannot get ickier, think again.

Chávez differed from Trump in important ways. He never bashed immigrants nor denied climate change. He spoke of tackling social injustice. He wanted to rein in US excesses in a region all too familiar with yankee imperialism. He could be specific about how he would achieve goals, to the point of numbing his audience with maps, charts, diagrams and statistics.

From 2003 to 2009 the comandante could claim success. Poverty tumbled and Venezuela led a leftist alliance against the gringos. It was, however, a house of cards. Record oil revenues and borrowing from China flooded the country with cash and imports but masked decay. Agriculture and industry hollowed and crime soared.

As failures mounted, Chávez created distractions, a continuous parade of stunts and diversions which turned Venezuela, in effect, into the Hugo Chávez show. In addition to his weekly show and press conferences, he appeared on TV almost daily, often marathon broadcasts. He sang, danced, rapped. Rode a horse, a bicycle, a helicopter. Exhumed Simón Bolívar’s remains. Hosted Naomi Campbell and other celebrities. Mobilised troops. Changed Venezuela’s flag and currency. Moved the clocks forward. Picked fights with foes real and imagined.

Like Chávez, Trump knows when and how to manipulate a news cycle which churns forever forward

He also promoted conspiracy theories: the CIA gave leftist leaders cancer, Nasa faked the moon landings and assassins, not tuberculosis, killed Bolívar. Trump, meanwhile, grabs headlines by suggesting New Jersey Muslims cheered 9/11, assassins killed Vince Foster and Justice Antonin Scalia, and Ted Cruz’s father aided Lee Harvey Oswald.

As president, Trump is hardly likely to seize farms, nationalise industries and impose exchange rate controls. But he has already shown a Chávez-like knack for distraction. If cornered on tax returns, policy flip-flops or awkward revelations, he says or tweets something provocative or outlandish, picks a fight, and at a stroke, attention shifts. Like Chávez, he knows when and how to manipulate a news cycle which churns forever forward, in thrall to novelty and outrage.

It often takes outsiders to identify overlooked grievances. Trump has performed a democratic service by identifying a constituency which feels marooned by economic stagnation and cultural shifts, and abandoned by traditional elites. His remedies may be opportunistic demagoguery but his supporters now feel heard. Chávez did the same for Venezuela’s poor, who suffered historic neglect.

They came up different ways. As a lieutenant colonel Chávez led a 1992 coup attempt. It flopped militarily – and dozens died – but made him a media star, paving his political rise. He kept his eyes on the prize: the presidential palace, Miraflores. Trump reportedly mulled a White House bid for decades. Now, three years after Chávez died, the casino owner campaigns as if channeling his ghost. Thunder and dazzle. Insult and provoke. Suck up oxygen. Dominate.

If Trump wins he will not have petro-state dollars to splurge on subsidies and giveaways. Or (one hopes) find judges, congress and state agencies so ready to bow to presidential whim. But Chávez’s rule serves as a warning: the longer he was in office the more intolerant he became, suborning state institutions to his will. Power amplified his faults.

The same would surely hold true for Trump, if elected. With reality miring plans in quicksand he would ratchet up polarisation and distraction. As commander-in-chief, all the easier to conjure. Dispatch a battleship to the Yangtze delta, say, or appoint Arizona’s notorious anti-immigration sheriff, Joe Arpaio, FBI director.

Even if forced to retreat the brouhaha would benefit Trump by spewing a radioactive climate.

Early skirmishes give a taste of what may come. “She took my flag and stomped all over it, some Mexican chick,” Irene Rodriguez, 42, a Trump-supporting optician, told me amid a raucous confrontation with anti-Trump protestors in Anaheim, California. “I told her, ‘you can do what you want to me, but not the flag. Show some respect’.” Richard Hernandez, 44, a Trump-supporting army veteran, scorned the protesters. “If you’re here illegally, I’m sorry, you shouldn’t be here. They’ve been paid to cause trouble. I’ve seen it on Pinterest.”

Two final predictions, should Trump win.

Opportunists and true believers will jostle for nourishing rays from the sun king – jobs, influence, favours. The louder opponents shout, the tighter they will bind to the administration. In Venezuela we called the greediest ones “boligarchs”. They enable and entrench despotism.

And if the Republican reaches the White House, government through television will turn the US into the Donald Trump show. He will play different parts – the sober statesman, the Rottweiler partisan, the glossy celebrity, blurring the personal and political, the trivial and grave. There will be many crises, real and confected. If Trump is as smart as Chávez – a big if – he will turn each one to his advantage, shoring up his power even as the country unravels into tragicomedy.



Child dies in hot car while family worships in church.

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Child dies in hot car while family worships in church.

A 3-year-old boy died on Sunday after he was accidentally left in a hot car parked outside a church, according to police.

The child’s family was attending an afternoon bible study at Rehoboth Praise Assembly in Dallas, according to CBS Dallas.

A church member told KDFW the boy’s mother and father were in separate groups at the church. When the couple reunited 45 minutes after arriving at the church, they realized they only had four kids and their youngest child was missing.

The father immediately left the church and ran to the parking lot, where he found the boy unresponsive inside the family’s SUV.

The boy was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The father speaks limited English and had trouble communicating that he needed someone to call 911, a church member told KDFW.


Gambia and Tanzania outlaw child marriage.

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Gambia and Tanzania outlaw child marriage.

Gambia’s President Yayha Jammeh announced that anyone marrying a girl below 18 would be jailed for up to 20 years. In Tanzania, the high court imposed a landmark ruling outlawing marriage under the age of 18 for boys and girls.

Some 30% of underage girls are married in The Gambia, while in Tanzania the rate is 37%.

Before the Tanzania ruling, girls as young as 14 could marry with parental consent, while it was 18 for boys.

The BBC’s Tulanana Bohela in Dar es Salaam says this is a big win for child rights groups and activists, who will now have an easier time rescuing girls from child marriage.

The case was brought by lobby group Msichana Initiative.

Gambia’s President speaking at the Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations at the end of Ramadan, said parents and imams who perform the ceremonies would also face prison.

“If you want to know whether what I am saying is true or not, try it tomorrow and see,” he warned.

Women’s rights campaigners have welcomed the ban, however some say that it would be better to engage with local communities to try to change attitudes towards child marriage instead of threatening families with prison sentences.

“I don’t think locking parents up is the answer… it could lead to a major backlash and sabotage the ban,” Isatou Jeng of the women’s rights organisation Girls Agenda told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from the Gambian capital, Banjul.

In December last year, Mr Jammeh also outlawed female genital mutilation (FGM), with a prison sentence of up to three years for those that ignored the ban.

He said the practice had no place in Islam or in modern society.

Three-quarters of women in the mostly Muslim country have had the procedure, according to Unicef.


ISIS is using encrypted apps to sell sex slaves.

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ISIS is using encrypted apps to sell sex slaves.

The advertisement on the Telegram app is as chilling as it is incongruous: A girl for sale is “Virgin. Beautiful. 12 years old…. Her price has reached $12,500 and she will be sold soon.”

The posting in Arabic appeared on an encrypted conversation along with ads for kittens, weapons and tactical gear. It was shared with The Associated Press by an activist with the minority Yazidi community, whose women and children are being held as sex slaves by the extremists.

While the Islamic State group is losing territory in its self-styled caliphate, it is tightening its grip on the estimated 3,000 women and girls held as sex slaves. In a fusion of ancient barbaric practices and modern technology, ISIS sells the women like chattel on smartphone apps and shares databases that contain their photographs and the names of their “owners” to prevent their escape through ISIS checkpoints. The fighters are assassinating smugglers who rescue the captives, just as funds to buy the women out of slavery are drying up.

ISIS sells the women like chattel on smartphone apps

The thousands of Yazidi women and children were taken prisoner in August 2014, when ISIS fighters overran their villages in northern Iraq with the aim to eliminate the Kurdish-speaking minority because of its ancient faith. Since then, Arab and Kurdish smugglers managed to free an average of 134 people a month. But by May, an ISIS crackdown reduced those numbers to just 39 in the last six weeks, according to figures provided by the Kurdistan regional government.

Mirza Danai, founder of the German-Iraqi aid organization Luftbrucke Irak, said in the last two or three months, escape has become more difficult and dangerous.

“They register every slave, every person under their owner, and therefore if she escapes, every Daesh control or checkpoint, or security force – they know that this girl … has escaped from this owner,” he said, using the Arabic acronym for the group.

The AP has obtained a batch of 48 head shots of the captives, smuggled out of the ISIS-controlled region by an escapee, which people familiar with them say are similar to those in the extremists’ slave database and the smartphone apps.

Lamiya Aji Bashar tried to flee four times before finally escaping in March, racing to government-controlled territory with Islamic State group fighters in pursuit. A land mine exploded, killing her companions, 8-year-old Almas and Katherine, 20. She never learned their last names.

Lamiya Aji Bashar was left  blind in one eye after a mine exploded when she escaped her captors.

Image: Balint Szlanko/AP PHOTO

The explosion left Lamiya blind in her right eye, her face scarred by melted skin. Saved by the man who smuggled her out, she counts herself among the lucky.

“I managed in the end, thanks to God, I managed to get away from those infidels,” the 18-year-told the AP from a bed at her uncle’s home in the northern Iraqi town of Baadre. “Even if I had lost both eyes, it would have been worth it, because I have survived them.”

‘Barely human’

The Sunni extremists view the Yazidis as barely human. The Yazidi faith combines elements of Islam, Christianity and Zoroastrianism, an ancient Persian religion. Their pre-war population in Iraq was estimated around 500,000. Their number today is unknown.

ISIS relies on encrypted apps to sell the women and girls, according to an activist is documenting the transactions and asked not to be named for fear of his safety.

On a chat on the WhatsApp app, an Islamic State group militant offers a woman and her children for sale, in this May 22, 2016, photo taken in northern Iraq. “If you know one of the brothers who has a slave for sale, please let me know,” it reads in Arabic. “She wants her owner to sell her. He wants a price of $3,700 for her. She has two daughters, one 3 years old, the other 7 months.”

Image: Maya Alleruzzo/AP PHOTO

The activist showed AP the negotiations for the captives in encrypted conversations as they were occurring in real time.

The postings appear primarily on Telegram and on Facebook and WhatsApp to a lesser degree, he said.

Both Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Telegram use end-to-end encryption to protect users’ privacy. Both have said they consider protecting private conversations and data paramount, and that they themselves cannot access users’ content.

“Telegram is extremely popular in the Middle East, among other regions,” said Telegram spokesman Markus Ra. “This, unfortunately, includes the more marginal elements and the broadest law-abiding masses alike.” He added the company is committed to prevent abuse of the service and that it routinely removes public channels used by ISIS.

In addition to the posting for the 12-year-old in a group with hundreds of members, the AP viewed an ad on WhatsApp for a mother with a 3-year-old and a 7-month old baby, with a price of $3,700. “She wants her owner to sell her,” read the posting, followed by a photo.

“She wants her owner to sell her,” read the posting, followed by a photo.

“We have zero tolerance for this type of behavior and disable accounts when provided with evidence of activity that violates our terms. We encourage people to use our reporting tools if they encounter this type of behavior,” said Matt Steinfeld, a spokesman for WhatsApp.

Like the Bible, some passages of the Quran implicitly condone slavery, which was widespread when the holy book emerged. It also allows men to have sex with both their wives and “those they possess with their right hands,” taken by interpreters to refer to female slaves.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, most Muslim scholars backed the banning of slavery, citing Quranic verses that say freeing them is a blessing. Some hard-liners, however, continued to insist that under Shariah sex slavery must be permitted, though the Islamic State group is the first in the modern era to bring it into organized practice.

In the images obtained by AP, many of the women and girls are dressed in finery, some in heavy makeup. All look directly at the camera, standing in front of overstuffed chairs or brocade curtains in what resembles a shabby hotel ballroom. Some are barely out of elementary school. Not one looks older than 30.

Islamic State group militants took this photo of Yazidi girl Nazdar Murat, as part of a database the militants have put together of Yazidi girls and women they have enslaved.

Image: Maya Alleruzzo/AP PHOTO

One of them is Nazdar Murat, who was about 16 when she was abducted two years ago — one of more than two dozen young women taken away by the extremists in a single day in August 2014. Her father and uncles were among about 40 people killed when ISIS took over the Sinjar area, the heart of the Yazidi homeland.

Inside an immaculately kept tent in a displaced persons camp outside the northern Iraqi town of Dahuk, Nazdar’s mother said her daughter managed to call once, six months ago.

“We spoke for a few seconds. She said she was in Mosul,” said Murat, referring to Iraq’s second-largest city. “Every time someone comes back, we ask them what happened to her and no one recognizes her. Some people told me she committed suicide.”

The family keeps the file of missing Yazidis on a mobile phone. They show it to those who have escaped the caliphate, to find out if anyone has seen her, and to other families looking for a thread of hope they’ll see their own missing relatives again.

The odds of rescue, however, grow slimmer by the day. The smuggling networks that have freed the captives are being targeted by ISIS leaders, who are fighting to keep the Yazidis at nearly any cost, said Andrew Slater of the non-profit group Yazda, which helps document crimes against the community and organizes refuge for those who have fled.

“Rescues are slowing. They’re going to stop. People are running out of money.”

Kurdistan’s regional government had been reimbursing impoverished Yazidi families who paid up to $15,000 in fees to smugglers to rescue their relatives, or the ransoms demanded by individual fighters to give up the captives. But the Kurdish regional government no longer has the funds. For the past year, Kurdistan has been mired in an economic crisis brought on by the collapse of oil prices, a dispute with Iraq’s central government over revenues, and the fallout from the war against the Islamic State.

Even when ISIS retreats from towns like Ramadi or Fallujah, the missing girls are nowhere to be found.

“Rescues are slowing. They’re going to stop. People are running out of money, I have dozens of families who are tens of thousands of dollars in debt,” Slater said. “There are still thousands of women and kids in captivity but it’s getting harder and harder to get them out.”

Remembering captivity

An activist looks at an Islamic State group marketplace on the encrypted app Telegram, advertising a 12-year-old Yazidi girl as a slave for the price of $12,500, in a photo taken in northern Iraq on May 22, 2016.

Image: Maya Alleruzzo/AP PHOTO

Lamiya was abducted from the village of Kocho, near the town of Sinjar, in the summer of 2014. Her parents are presumed dead. Somewhere, she said, her 9-year-old sister Mayada remains captive. One photo she managed to send to the family shows the little girl standing in front of an ISIS flag.

Five other sisters all managed to escape and later were relocated to Germany. A younger brother, kept for months in an IS training camp in Mosul, also slipped away and is now staying with other relatives in Dahuk, a city in the Iraqi Kurdish region.

Sitting very still and speaking in a monotone, Lamiya recounted her captivity, describing how she was passed from one ISIS follower to another, all of whom beat and violated her. She was determined to escape.

She said her first “owner” was an Iraqi ISIS commander who went by the name Abu Mansour in the city of Raqqa, the de-facto ISIS capital deep in Syria. He brutalized her, often keeping her handcuffed.

“I tried to escape from him,” she said. “And he captured me, too, and he beat me.”

She tried to run away twice but was caught, beaten and raped repeatedly. After a month, she said, she was sold to another ISIS extremist in Mosul. After she spent two months with him, she was sold again, this time to an ISIS bomb-maker who Lamiya said forced her to help him make suicide vests and car bombs.

“I tried to escape from him,” she said. “And he captured me, too, and he beat me.”

When the bomb-maker grew bored with her, she was handed over to an ISIS doctor in Hawija, a small ISIS-controlled Iraqi town. She said the doctor, who was the ISIS head of the town hospital, also abused her.

From there, after more than a year, she managed to contact her relatives in secret.

Her uncle said the family paid local smugglers $800 to arrange Lamiya’s escape. She will be reunited with her siblings in Germany, but despite everything, her heart remains in Iraq.

“We had a nice house with a big farm … I was going to school,” she said. “It was beautiful.”


Neil deGrasse Tyson discusses the dozens of times he’s been racially profiled.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson discusses the dozens of times he’s been racially profiled.

Occasionally, I personalize dark matter’s place in the universe. Especially the part about matter and dark matter feeling one another’s gravity but not otherwise interacting. Never was this more real to me than during the summer of 1991, when I attended an annual conference near Atlanta, Georgia, of a national physics society that I belonged to.

That autumn I would begin my astrophysics postdoctoral research appointment at Princeton University. Conferences are comforting places. You feel as if you’ve known people your entire life even though you’ve never met because everyone’s life path strongly resembles that of your own. Among professional physicists, for example, we all got good grades in school (last checked, physicists are disproportionately represented among college seniors who graduate magna and summa cum laude). We’ve all solved the same homework problems in physics classes. We’ve all read the same books.

We wield nearly identical vocabulary sets when describing the physical world. And we’ve all felt the occasional aspersions cast by pop-society on our intellectual abilities. By the time of the society banquet, held the last night of the conference, people have loosened up.

Discussions commonly shift to personal matters and other things that have nothing to do with the subjects and themes of the conference. By the end of this particular banquet, a dozen of us from several adjacent tables collected the unfinished bottles of wine and retreated to one of those common-rooms on the top floor of the hotel. We talked (and argued) about the sorts of things that the rest of society would surely consider to be geeky and pointless, such as why cans of Diet Pepsi float while cans of regular Pepsi sink. That one was new to me, although I did have latent memories from the end of long parties where all the ice had melted in the beverage cooler and some soft drinks were floating while others were resting at the bottom. We lamented the fact that the transporter in the television and film series Star Trek does not transport perfectly across spacetime.

Apparently, the teleported copy sustains an extremely small but quantifiable level of degradation when compared with the original—a perversely humorous fact that was well-known among the Star Trek cognoscente. The questions to be debated started rolling: How many times could you be transported back and forth between the starship and a planet before you started to look different? What part of your body would change? Was it your DNA? Was it your atomic structure? Or would you one day beam back to the ship without a nose? That night was rich in the expression of applied mental energy.

What else could you have expected among intellectual soul-mates, at the end of a full meal, near the end of a full conference, while sipping good wine into the late evening? Around midnight, while discussing momentum-transfer in automobile accidents, one of us mentioned a time when the police stopped him while driving his car. They ordered him from his sports car and conducted a thorough search of his body, the car’s cabin, and the trunk before sending him on his way with a hefty ticket. The charge for stopping him? Driving twenty miles per hour over the local speed limit.

Try as we did, we could not muster sympathy for his case, although a brief discussion of the precision of police radar guns followed. We all agreed that on a straight road, the geometry of a radar gun measurement prevents your exact speed from being measured unless the police officer stands in the middle of the oncoming traffic. If the officer stands anywhere else, such as to the side of the road, the measured speed will be less than your actual speed. So if you were measured to be speeding, you were certainly speeding. My colleague had other encounters with the law that he shared later that night, but he started a chain reaction among us.

One by one we each recalled multiple incidents of being stopped by the police. None of the accounts were particularly violent or life-threatening, although it was easy to extrapolate to highly publicized cases that were. One of my colleagues had been stopped for driving too slowly. He was admiring the local flora as he drove through a New England town in the autumn. Another had been stopped because he was speeding, but only by five miles per hour. He was questioned and then released without getting a ticket. Still another colleague had been stopped and questioned for jogging down the street late at night. As for me, I had a dozen different encounters to draw from. There was the time I was stopped late at night at an underpass on an empty road in New Jersey for having changed lanes without signaling.

The officer told me to get out of my car and questioned me for ten minutes around back with the bright head lights of his squad car illuminating my face. Is this your car? Yes. Who is the woman in the passenger seat? My wife. Where are you coming from? My parents house. Where are you going? Home. What do you do for a living? I am an astrophysicist at Princeton University. What’s in your trunk? A spare tire, and a lot of other greasy junk. He went on to say that the “real reason” why he stopped me was because my car’s license plates were much newer and shinier than the 17-year old Ford that I was driving.

The officer was just making sure that neither the car nor the plates were stolen. In my other stories, I had been stopped by the police while transporting my home supply of physics textbooks into my newly assigned office in graduate school. They had stopped me at the entrance to the physics building where they asked accusatory questions about what I was doing. This one was complicated because a friend offered to drive me and my boxes to my office (I had not yet learned to drive). Her car was registered in her father’s name. It was 11:30 PM. Open-topped boxes of graduate math and physics textbooks filled the trunk. And we were transporting them into the building. I wonder how often that scenario shows up in police training tapes.

In total, I was stopped two or three times by other security officers while entering physics buildings, but was never stopped entering the campus gym. In that conference hotel room, we exchanged stories about the police for two more hours before retiring to our respective hotel rooms. Being mathematically literate, of course, we looked for “common denominators” among the stories. But we had all driven different cars—some were old, others were new, some were undistinguished, others were high performance imports. Some police stops were in the daytime, others were at night. Taken one-by-one, each encounter with the law could be explained as an isolated incident where, in modern times, we all must forfeit some freedoms to ensure a safer society for us all.

Taken collectively, however, you would think the cops had a vendetta against physicists because that was the only profile we all had in common. One thing was for sure, the stories were not singular, novel moments playfully recounted. They were common, recurring episodes. How could this assembly of highly educated scientists, each in possession of a PhD — the highest academic degree in the land — be so vulnerable to police inquiry in their lives? Maybe the police cued on something else.

Maybe it was the color of our skin. The conference I had been attending was the 23rd meeting of the National Society of Black Physicists. We were guilty not of DWI (Driving While Intoxicated), but of other violations none of us knew were on the books: DWB (Driving While Black), WWB (Walking While Black), and of course, JBB (Just Being Black). A year after the conference, Rodney King was pulled from his car by the Los Angeles Police and, while hand-cuffed, tased, and lying face-down on the street, was beaten senseless with night sticks.

What sometimes goes unremembered is that the deadly riots that followed in South Central LA were not triggered by the beating itself but by the subsequent acquittal of key participating officers by a court of law. Upon seeing the now-famous video of the incident, I remembered being surprised not because Rodney King was beaten by the police but because somebody finally caught such an incident on tape.

The next meeting of the National Society of Black Physicists, held in Jackson, Mississippi, happened to coincide with those Los Angeles riots. I was scheduled to give the luncheon keynote address on May 1, 1992, exploring the success or failure of undergraduate physics education in the academic pipeline that leads to the PhD. But while watching the helicopter news coverage of the fires and violence that broke out that morning, I had a surreal revelation: the news headlines were dominated by Black people rioting and not by Black scientists presenting their latest research on the frontiers of physics.

Of course, by most measures of news priorities, urban riots over-ride everything else, so I was not surprised. I was simply struck by this juxtaposition of events, which led me to abandon my original keynote and replace it with ten minutes of reflective observations on NSBP’s immeasurable significance to the perception of Blacks by Whites in America.


Misogyny is going to be treated as a hate crime for the first time in the UK.

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Misogyny is going to be treated as a hate crime for the first time in the UK.

Police officers in the UK are to classify misogyny and incidents of harassment against women as hate crimes for the first time, under new measures.

Nottinghamshire Police announced crimes ranging from harassment on the street to aggressive physical approaches will be recorded as hate crimes, becoming the first force in the country to change its definition.

The force now defines misogynistic hate crime as “incidents against women that are motivated by an attitude of a man towards a woman, and includes behaviour targeted towards a woman by men simply because they are a woman”.

By the end of July, selected Nottinghamshire officers and staff will have completed comprehensive misogyny hate crime training, in keeping with the new guidelines.

Planning for the scheme began in summer 2014, when members of the police force met with women’s rights campaigners and staff from Nottingham Women’s Centre.

Officers listened to a range of testimonials from women who had been harassed, abused and attacked in the city of Nottingham over the past few years.

Sam Smethers, chief executive at the Fawcett Society which campaigns for women’s rights, told the Independent: “This is what the Fawcett Society has been calling for. Nottinghamshire Police’s commitment to taking misogynistic hate crime seriously should be welcomed and rolled out nationwide.

What women face, often on a daily basis, is absolutely unacceptable and can be extremely distressing

“We need to call out misogyny for what it is – a hate crime. Women and girls face a tidal wave of abuse and harassment every day. Our law has to send a clear signal that this is not acceptable. It is a crime.”

Meanwhile, Nottinghamshire Police’s chief constable Sue Fish said the force was committed to tackling misogyny “in all its forms”.

“What women face, often on a daily basis, is absolutely unacceptable and can be extremely distressing,” she said. “It’s a very important aspect of the overall hate crime work being conducted and one that will make Nottinghamshire a safer place for all women.

“Nottinghamshire Police is committed to taking misogynistic hate crime seriously and encourages anyone who is affected by it to contact us without hesitation.”

The use of mobile devices to send unwanted or uninvited messages or take photographs without consent or permission are also included in the guidelines for officers.

The force confirmed that domestic abuse will not be included in the scope of misogynistic hate crime as there are separate procedures already in place.

Melanie Jeffs, Centre Manager at Nottingham Women’s Centre, said: “We’re pleased to see Nottinghamshire Police recognise the breadth of violence and intimidation that women experience on a daily basis in our communities.

“Understanding this as a hate crime will help people to see the seriousness of these incidents and hopefully encourage more women to come forward and report offences.”


Baby raised on vegan diet hospitalized for malnutrition & removed from parents.

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Baby raised on vegan diet hospitalized for malnutrition & removed from parents.

When an Italian baby was taken to hospital in Milan earlier this month by his grandparents, doctors there were shocked by the baby’s condition. At 14 months old, he weighed only slightly more than a 3-month-old, according to the Local Italy.

Upon further examination, a more harrowing picture began to take shape. The baby, whose parents allegedly kept him on a vegan diet without providing dietary supplements, was found to be severely malnourished, suffering from dangerously low calcium levels. Complicating matters, the baby had to undergo an emergency operation because of a congenital heart condition, which was aggravated by his low calcium levels.

The Local reported that hospital staff reported the case to social services and that the baby’s parents have lost the custodial rights to their child.

The case “forces us to reflect on uncommon feeding regimes,” Luca Bernardo, director of pediatrics at the hospital, told the Daily Telegraph.

He was careful not to take sides on the issue of what constitutes an optimal diet for a baby, however. “It is not a problem to choose different or unusual kinds of nutrition, and we certainly do not want to enter into a discussion of the merits of the decision. But since birth, the baby should have had support in this case with calcium and iron,” Bernardo said.

In recent months, Italy has seen multiple cases of children on vegan diets being hospitalized for malnutrition. In June, a 2-year-old girl was brought to a hospital in Genoa, where she spent several days in intensive care after doctors found her to be suffering from vitamin deficiencies and low levels of hemoglobin. And last June, an 11-month-old baby, whose parents are vegans, was treated for severe malnutrition at a hospital in Florence

Similar cases have played out in other countries as well. In 2007, a vegan couple were given life sentences after their 6-week-old baby boy died of starvation in 2004. They had fed the baby a diet of mainly soy milk and apple juice, and a jury found the couple guilty of murder, manslaughter and cruelty to children. And in 2011, a French vegan couple were charged with child neglect after their 11-month-old baby died from vitamin deficiencies.

It is not a problem to choose different or unusual kinds of nutrition, and we certainly do not want to enter into a discussion of the merits of the decision. But since birth, the baby should have had support in this case with calcium and iron. Luca Bernardo, director of pediatrics at the hospital where the baby was taken

It’s not necessarily the case that veganism leads to malnourished young children, of course, as a 2007 op-ed in the New York Times titled “Death by Veganism” seemed to suggest, drawing a furious reaction from some vegans, including articles with such titles as “Veganism is Not Child Abuse.”

“Holy guacamole – can we all just stop the madness when it comes to ill-informed journalists claiming that vegan diets harm/kill babies?!” said a broadside in the Your Daily Vegan. “Every year or so, an article enters the world with inflammatory headlines and content about how dangerous a vegan diet can be for infants and children.”

As an article in the Spectator last year argued, it isn’t veganism that harms children – it’s neglectful parenting. Veganism, if done right, can give kids all the nutrients they need for healthy growth, experts say.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics agrees that “well-planned vegetarian and eating patterns are healthy for infants and toddlers,” according to its publication, “Eat Right.” For breast-feeding mothers and for infants who don’t consume milk products and eggs, it recommends supplements or fortified foods for vitamins B12, vitamin D, calcium and iron and advises parents to consult a dietitian.

Britain’s National Health Service makes similar recommendations.

“It’s not a problem if parents want to raise their children using alternative or even unusual diets,” the hospital’s head pediatrician told the Corriere, the Local reported.

“But care needs to be taken to make up for any nutritional shortfalls using supplements. For example, the 1-year-old child we are treating should have been taking iron and calcium supplements.”

As Slate’s parenting advice columnist put it: “Can kids be vegan and be healthy? Of course they can. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are undoubtedly good for growing bodies, and research even suggests an association between veganism and a reduced risk for cancer.”

But there’s a caveat: Veganism requires a lot of extra work. Parents and caregivers, the Slate columnist writes, “have to ensure that their children are getting the calories and wide variety of nutrients they need – not a small feat when dealing with typically fussy, food-neophobic kids.”

Spanish matador gored to death in bullfight live on TV.

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Spanish matador gored to death in bullfight live on TV.


A well-known matador has been killed during a bullfight in eastern Spain, the first such incident to occur in the country this century.

The fight was taking place at the festival Feria del Angel in Teruel, during an event which was being shown live on TV.

Professional bullfighter Victor Barrio, 29, was killed by a bull which flipped him over with a horn, then continued to gore and push him along the ground.

Bystanders immediately rushed to help but Mr Barrio had already sustained severe injuries. Doctors were unable to save him and he died in hospital.

The festival was suspended after the incident, which was broadcast live on Spanish television.

The bull was called Maños, according to El Mundo, and weighed 529 kilos.

Televison footage of the event showed Maños with several spears already hanging from his back.

Tributes poured in from Spain, with politician Cristina Cifuentes writing:  ‘”All my love to your family and friends”.

However, others were more critical of Mr Barrio.

Bullfighting is a controversial sport but deaths of Matadors are rare. The last to die in Spain was Jose Cubero in 1985.


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