Mass Shootings in Orlando

A mixture of hatred, radicalism and mental instability

Shia Wisdom

It saddens us that a month doesn’t pass without having to mourn or condemn an act of terror against innocent civilians around the globe. The last string of those cowardly attacks that assumed the lives of many civilians was Orlando FL, in the United States of America, when a man later identified as Omar Mateen opened fire at civilians inside a club and murdered 50 people.

It is heart breaking and astonishing to witness a US born, US raised citizen turn to become such a violent individual, filled with outrageous amount of hatred toward anything that is qualified as “different”. There have been reports of mental instability within the character of Orlando attacker, yet there are facts that need to be stated. Continue reading Mass Shootings in Orlando

Time for new World Order

(Political insolvency on all fronts is leading to narrower options)

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

Although many observers are skeptic of the phrase ‘world order’, yet its definition in the post 9/11 era has mandated new interpretations regarding many political, economic and social concepts around the world. Discussing any of the previous eras, whether post WWII or post-Cold-War era is bound by one unifying notion, which makes theorizing and governance more feasible and approachable than the current realities around globe. The fact that world order was centered around the concept of STATE was inevitable since the global ideological struggle (Capitalism VS Communism) was based upon application by state. Therefore, neither sides was ready to accept any alternative for the presence of state and its authority, even though the competition between the poles was more like a clash and conflict.

The rise of non-state actors and their overwhelming influence in decision-making circles has placed the international community with several obstacles without any evident solution in the near future. The influence and role of many intergovernmental non-state actors is also bound and limited by many variable and new domestic or regional legislations, which only expands the power of non-governmental actors around the world. In addition, majority of global actors and IGOs have not been able to cope and align themselves with new political guidelines and criterions to contain the means and factors behind emergence of non-state actors. However, there are many non-governmental actors around the world with superb record in helping humanity and aiding states in law and order promotion. Nonetheless, the violent non-state actors or what the modern world call terrorism and rouge elements are the actors that influencing our world today. Unfortunately, the notion of proxies has been transformed into having non-state actors as allies in a certain country or region to mandate certain policies and gains, which only complicates the job for the international community.

Narrowing down the focus of this subject would be facilitated if the Middle East is considered as a study case, where non-state actors have been the real cause of distress and instability or order and stability in some cases. In addition, the influence of this geographical region in the world contains many other aspects other than political variables, due to its complex ethnic, religious and sectarian divisions, which have been politically mobilized and misused.

Fortunately or unfortunately is a judgement for future generations, yet modern non-state (non-governmental) actors have been able to achieve and accomplish much farther goals and gains than many states in the region. Although the resources and means of wealth were always controlled by the states, yet Middle Eastern governments have proven to be the most incompetent around the world, even though they had numerous models and examples from around the world. Therefore, non-governmental organizations have been able to create complex and well-built social networks and popular bases for themselves. The influence of those NGO came to reality and was capitalized through organized and planned political endeavours, armed conflicts, and violent methods and in case of Yemen total take-over of power and ousting a government. The efforts of the international community has proven to be unworthy as the mindset of those organizations is still unclear, since majority of the conflicts are still ongoing. Therefore, finding solutions and placing authority in the hands of legit and elected governments is far from the reach.

The notion of categorizing states by their cooperation with the international community, economic distribution to the world markets and alliances has been useless, as conceptualizing the world based on realism and liberalism is irrelevant.

To be continued

When order prevails result is: …

 

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

The title of this article can be presented as a statement or a question and since the answer is unconditionally assented and acknowledged, it would be meaningless to discuss any possible ambiguity of such statement. Abiding by order, rules and guidelines is not only an essence of showing class, it is a path to success and being able to accomplish based on outlined and set goals and progress. The holy Quran grants great importance to order and discipline, where the 4th verse of chapter 61 presents the perfect metaphor for orderly conduct and order. “as though they are a single structure joined firmly”. The holy Prophet of Islam emphasizes on the notion of order in all affairs and actions, where it seems without order the emergence of effectual results are doubtful.

The primary foundation of Islam as a religion and a path of life is solely based on orderly fashion conduct of deeds, decisions and action that includes every aspect of a Muslim’s daily affairs, whether personal, religious or interactional. Among the most repetitive advices by elders and teachers to youth, is the importance of organization and allocating time and efforts accordingly to have successful results. We all remember the famous quote, which has probably been said by majority of teachers around the world (Don’t leave your studying and projects till the last moment). The core of this statement is linked to organization and having order as a way of life, which will reflect on personality, characteristics and someone’s view before the public as well.

Imam Ali (P.B.U.H) has placed order and its importance in second place after being pious, which in addition shows that among the primary signs of being a pious person, being organized and adherent to order is given. Therefore, majority of Islamic scholars have determined that Islamic jurisprudence prohibits breaking the laws and orders of a society, such as speed limits and traffic rules. Failure to adhere with these rules, would destabilize the order and safety of a society and those two aspects are the primary essences of an innovating and smart society.

The notion of order in supplication is also among the important in Islam, where moderation and wise time allocation for supplication and prayer is necessary. Imam Al-Sadiq states in a narration that over-doing supplication would lead to reluctance from prayer and supplication, which means this spiritual and religious aspect of a Muslim’s life must abide by rules and orders of life. The five prayers/day are the obligatory prayers and anything else such as random supplications can be done during other daily tasks, as only repeating certain phrases and words are sufficient to be considered as supplication. In addition, unlike other religions granting total time and self to religion and its institutions has been disavowed by Islam, and the importance of forming family and working to provide for this family is considered among the best deeds and supplications to Allah.

Fortunately, Islam has presented the perfect means of organizing and adhering to orders and feasible rules in society, whereas as mentioned earlier the entire length of an individual can be covered by Islamic order and organization codes. Islam presents advice and solutions in maintaining order for:

  • Social interactional order
  • Personal life affairs, such as personal hygiene
  • Time management
  • Fulfilling covenants and contracts
  • Management of supplication and prayer order
  • Expenditure order and management
  • Military order and organization

There are numerous other aspect, where the lives of Prophet Mohammad and his holy household would present hundreds of examples and models for ordinary humans, where order becomes the essence of any action and decision in their lives.

Terror in Baghdad

 

The continuous bloodshed and ravished life in Iraq

SHIA WISDOM

It is heartbreaking that not long ago the world mourned the innocent lives of Belgium terrorist attacks and Paris, where Daesh claimed responsibility for, yet today a new wound has been added to the devitalized body of Iraq. Yesterday the Iraqi Capital witnessed a series of terrorist acts against innocent civilians in crowded sites and markets, where dozens of people mostly women and children lost their lives. The pictures being circulated from after the attacks are devastating and heartbreaking and the amount of innocent children with severe wounds or ravished corps would only translates the horror and pain a parent would have to experience.

According to early statements by Iraqi interior ministry, the cars carrying the explosives and terrorists were entered to the area with official badges, license plates and uniforms belonging to the ministry. This statement only shows the incompetency of Iraq’s political and bureaucratic elites in diminishing corruption and favoritism that has costed Iraq thousands of innocent lives and billions of dollars. In addition, the continuous failures of Iraq’s ruling elites to establish healthy, transparent and strong infrastructure and steady service of basic necessities is beyond apprehension. Meanwhile, the international community must place enormous pressure on the Iraqi government to implement influential and actual steps toward crushing and diminishing corruption and favoritism in Iraq. The massive flow of suspicious transactions, the normality of bribe and bribery in government’s institutions and infiltrated security agencies must be the priority of any Iraqi government.

Shia Wisdom urges the respected religious authority in Iraq, illustrated in Grand Ayatollah Sayed Ali Al-Sistani, the Iraqi people and all conscience and patriots of Iraq to form a unified front that supports drastic change and reform through peaceful means. The past months and weeks have shown the Iraqi masses are capable of change and reform, yet they need to be cautious for any political entity that might use their march and movement for own interests.

Shia Wisdom and staff offer their sincere condolences to the families of all those fallen in the terrorist attacks of Baghdad, asking the almighty to grant them patience and tranquility and gives mercy to the victims.

Shia Wisdom  

Resolution Methods for Privation & Adversity

Part 14: The economic factors for generating, sustaining and developing wealth to fight poverty (10) (Stimulating wealth flow)
(Based on the thoughts & theories of Ayatollah Sayed Murtadha Al-Shirazai)
By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi
The flow of wealth and funds will result in active and healthy economy, where citizens have access to funds for consumption, transactions are facilitated and inflation is contained and reduced. However, accumulation of wealth and funds, will freeze and prevent them from a healthy flow in the markets, which will also prevent the creation and flow of new wealth and fund generation methods. Therefore, the Islamic system has discouraged accumulation of wealth and the 34th verse of Quran’s 9th chapter indicates: “and those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah, give them tidings of a painful punishment”. (Note: the phrase way of Allah would not necessary hold a religious aspect, as other verses of the Holy Quran and traditions of Prophet Mohammad and his holy household, indicate that any action, deed, statement and effort which would benefit the people is considered an action in the way of Allah.)
The prohibition of accumulation in this verse is not bound to gold and silver, but since those two items are the most notable and known examples their names are mentioned. Presently, states around the world have maintained a continuous policy of wealth accumulation under the name of (RESERVE) or (Emergency fund). Unfortunately, billions or hundreds of billions in dollars and precious metals are stashed in reserves and funds, where the entire management process of these funds are granted to administrational bureaucrats.
Nevertheless, the methodology of Imam Ali (P.B.U.H) shows that funds received from taxation or other sources were granted to the masses immediately, as Imam Ali never left any funds in the state treasury at the end of the day. This methodology and policy of Imam Ali would assure that all the funds and wealth of a nation is directed to the masses, including the lower class. Therefore, poverty and privation is minimized vastly, flow of wealth leads to stronger economy and this trend would ultimately benefit the state and its citizens on all levels and aspects. In general, once the consumption ability of the masses is increased, the investment opportunities are available in a broader range, infrastructures, cultivation, manufacturing and mining are sought to be excellent opportunities for wealth growth. Nonetheless, this strong and healthy economy would translate into an ability to pay more taxes, which will also end up in the hands of people in different shapes, services and plans.
Therefore, pouring the reserve funds into the hands of the masses would create and enormous direct and indirect ability to diminish poverty and privation, which would lead to a stronger state and public. This method would also increase the gross domestic production, which is the real reserve fund and power that could support and sustain any currency regardless of the size of an economy.
According to some historians and researchers, the necessity of stimulating flow of wealth and funds was among the primary reasons behind the Prophet Mohammad’s decision to change the goods exchange methods to currency and monetary system. The system considered gold and silver as standard for exchange, comparison and equivalency, where the worth of the currency was set. Therefore, for instance 1 Dinar was equivalent 4.6 g of gold and other measurement.
The shift to this system enabled the consumers to explore various options for trade transactions, as transportation and other related aspects to any trader deal were facilitated. Therefore, exchanging a good for another was not the method to conduct a transaction, which also prevented some goods being kept aside until expire, because the goods exchange method made them unpopular.

Challenging the traditions

Mainstream Islam & legacy of violence against minorities

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By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi
Majority of observers, researchers, activists and writers have accused the Saudi regime sponsored Wahhabi sect for the contemporary phenomenon of terrorism and use of violent methods. Although, the Saudi family and their Wahhabi branch is responsible for some the most horrific crimes against humanity and free will, yet the root of these actions and ideologies was only capitalized and implemented by Wahhabism. The ideological implementations of Ibn Taymiya and other scholars within this sect are derived from earlier and traditional texts, where minorities like Sufis, Shias, Jews, Mutazilies and others were subjected to ideological and physical elimination.
Throughout previous articles the foundation of a violent trails of actions, statements and decisions was identified in the early post-Prophet Mohammad era, where certain companions carried out terrorizing acts. In addition, other decisions by the first three Caliphs and later on by the Umayyad and Abbasids became the preliminary bases for any ideological theorizing and legitimizing use of violence and force. Therefore, the early stage of Islamic history and the horrific crimes against minorities, the holy household of Prophet Mohammad and Islam itself, were only actions or organized efforts by individuals and groups to gain influence and control. However, the actions of this mentioned era was used by later scholars as mean of general ruling and fatwa extraditing tools and methods.
Early stages of theorizing violence
The early stages of legitimizing use of violence was primarily for political purposes according to many historical findings, since most scholars of those eras were linked and affiliated with political dynasties of the time. For instance the most direct and clear indication of violence legitimization is witnessed during the Seljuk dynasty and its famous Vazir Nizam Al-Mulk, who is the founder of Nizamiya School in Baghdad.
This man is considered a very wise, just, trustworthy and eloquent individual, who counseled the Seljuk king and ultimately wrote a book exhorting kings about the methods of governance and leadership. The book is named ‘Siyasat Nameh’ and has several chapters categorizing the priorities, responsibilities and governance methods for any ruler or king, which urges some historian to think that Siyasat Nameh was a book for the elites only. Regardless, the author of this book launched and initiated a systematic and planned elimination of Shia Muslims inside Iraq and other places, by alerting the king about the danger of leaving Shias alone. Nizam Al-Mulk suggests that Shia Muslims are an element of instability and chaos, and prevailing stability and headache-less rule is achieved by eliminating those rouge elements, alongside other minorities like the Esoteric sects.
The trails of Nizam Al-Mulk and his influence is transferred to individuals effected by him and his political rationale. The use of religious rationalization for political gain is later capitalized and implemented by scholars like Abu Hamed Al-Ghazali, who is considered among the greatest scholars of Sunni Islam. The affiliation of this scholar with the political entity of that time, forced him to develop a religious fundamental for eliminating oppositions and any group of minorities that were considered dangerous. Therefore, sources indicate that Al-Ghazali legitimized and set the foundation for physical elimination and total abandonment of entire groups and sects, in the name of guarding the Islamic Empire and nation.
Unfortunately, the theological rationales of such individuals was used to wage war against dynasties and groups, under the pretense of being an infidel, esoteric, Shia, non-believer, apostate or blasphemers. Saladin Al-Ayoubi used the work of Nizam Al-Mulk and Al-Ghazali and their likes to legitimize his crimes against the Shias of Egypt and other minorities under his rule. Therefore, although radical scholars like Ibn Taymiya were always condemned and challenged by other Sunni scholars, yet the traditional sources and texts of this school is filled with legitimization of hate, violence and use of force against other groups. It might be right to argue that Wahhabism and its famous scholar Ibn Taymiya and Mohammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab have placed the entire world as their nemesis, due to difference in ideology, yet what is considered mainstream Islam is filled with similar claims as well.
Fortunately, the recent years have presented several individuals with a tendency to come in Public and denounce the content of these traditional sources, which are considered as sacred and worthy of being taught. Several Arab and Muslims channels have aired debates and panels with scholars from numerous schools of thought challenging one another upon the substance of those books and their hateful ideology. Although the trend of such challenges is slow and require more time and additional cleansed resources, and alongside the challenge a healthy and complete alternative is require as well. Once contemporary free-minds and Muslim scholars start to question and challenge the content so these books, they must begin to seek answers and alternatives, as they will have to reassess the entire foundation of what is considered mainstream Islam.

The Refugee Crisis: Facts VS Presumptions

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

The recent attacks in Paris and even in Beirut have raised many questions about the possible outcomes that welcoming the refugees might have in western societies. Although the concerns have existed prior to the recent attacks, but the issue has been a hot topic in the headlines and there are many oppositions to any notion of welcoming and accepting those refugees. The argument presented for opposing these refugees is based on several issues, which can be described as following:

  • The possibility of having terrorist sleeping-cells among those massive numbers of refugees is very high, as one of the terrorists in the Paris attack had a Syrian Passport on him.
  • The amount violence and trauma these refugees have been exposed to, makes them rational candidates for radicalization and ultimately vengeance while on western lands.
  • The time-line to accept these refugees, which has been set by the United Nation and some of the western nations, poses many dangers to the security and stability of them, as conducting a thorough background security check on these refugees requires sometime. Therefore, according to the time-line, which has been accepted by some of the western nations would not be sufficient to conduct an effective background check on those refugees.

In addition, some extreme voices have raised the notion of only accepting the refugees that can assure their Christianity and not accepting any Muslims. Although, many of these extreme and radical calls are exclusive to Europe, certain groups and individuals in the United States have raised similar voices as well.

Therefore, it would be beneficial to examine the legitimacy of the concerns raised against accepting and welcoming refugees into Europe and North America. This examination would aid in shaping a better comprehension about this complicated issue, as some of the concerns raised are legitimate and rational. In addition, there are many hidden or forgotten facts, when it comes to the refugee crisis, which make the ability to have a decision on this topic hazy and rather difficult.

Refugees VS Terrorists

No one denies the fact that the percentage of possible terrorists among the current refugee crisis is a very tiny portion, which will not exceed 0.0001% at best. Therefore, majority of these refugees are desperate and victims of a bloody conflict that has left them displaced and forced to leave their homes and cities to secure their lives and loved ones. In addition, claiming a refugee status is only one of the ways that someone can get to a specific country and reside there, as majority of the current refugees in Western Europe have arrived there illegally. Therefore, the chances of having terrorists among those refugee already exists and poses a great danger to Europe, which means the fear of terrorists among those refugees is no longer rational, when a country wants to accept few thousands refugees through the legal channels and immigration procedures.

These refugees can be screened and selected through numerous filtration methods, which can assure only qualified individuals are selected and accepted for refugee status. In addition, there are thousands of orphans and widows among those refugees that require immediate attention and consideration for refugee status, and those groups can be prioritized for screening.

Nonetheless, the routes for arriving to a certain country are not only through refugee status, as mentioned earlier, and terrorist groups are definitely able to fabricate documents and files for any individual to be accepted as a student, an investor or even a tourist into any country. In addition, the same illegal ways are still available for others, as there are thousands of people in the United States, who have crossed into the US illegally and conduct their affairs like any other resident in the US. Therefore, the same methods can be utilized by terrorist groups and radical individuals can find a way intro any country, if they decide to pursue such a method.

Nevertheless, most of the recent terrorist attacks in the west were carried out by home-grown elements and individuals, who were citizens of those countries and some of them were even born and raised in the west. Therefore, the quantity of radical elements in the west diminishes or decreases the fears of having terrorists among refugees.

Psychological status of Refugees

The concern of the psychological status of the refugees and exposure to tremendous amount of violence and trauma is taken out of context and used unethically for political and partisan intentions.  Obviously, the current refugees have been exposed to a great amount of violence and trauma and obviously they have witnessed many horrific scenes that no ordinary human should ever witness. This exposure and this great amount of violence is the primary reason, which has forced those people to flee their country and homes and seek safety in a society that differs from, what they have lived in for years.

In addition, majority of the current immigrants and refugees in the west (Europe, United States and Canada) were victims of violence, terrorism or authoritarian regimes. Some of the immigrants and refugees, who are now citizens of many western countries are still suffering from their past experiences, and many of them struggle to forget the great amount of oppression or violence they had to experience. Therefore, why wasn’t this notion an issue when accepting those refugees? The immigrants and refugees from the Balkan war, the refugees from the first Gulf war, the refugees from Congo, the refugees from South Sudan, the refugees from Europe post WWII. These are all victims of violence and oppression, who still suffer from trauma and exposure to scenes of genocides and massacres. Therefore, this issue should not even be raised, as the ethical responsibility is on our burdens to help those refuges pass through these experiences and return to their normal life and routines.

Background screening and security checks

Without doubt this concern is the only legitimate issue that can hold its ground in any discussion or deliberation, when it comes to the refugee crisis. The United State has agreed to accept 10,000 refugees into its borders and Canada has agreed to accept 25,000 refugees, and countries like Germany and Sweden, which have already let thousands of refugees through their borders, have pledged to accept and legalize thousands. Therefore, the issue of security and background check on refugees in Europe is sort of meaningless, as Europe is already overwhelmed by refugees, and the streets of Berlin, Frankfort, Stockholm and other major cities are filled with refugees.

This concern is majorly a North American issue, which can be considered as legitimate and rational as mentioned earlier, since the time-line suggested by the United Nation and pledged by the US and Canada to accept those numbers is irrational. For instance, the Canadian government led by the newly elected Liberal Party, has pledged to accept 25,000 refugees within a time-line that doesn’t exceed 60 days. The Obama administration also has pledged to accept the 10,000 refugees based on an expedited sets of procedures, which has raised many concerns and criticism in the US. Therefore, to be rational and logical, the time-line set for accepting those refugees, put a great amount of pressure of immigration offices and officers, as they are required to process a tremendous amount of procedures, within an unorthodox required time window. Background and security checks require patience and a great deal of thoroughness, as the information needed to make a decision for each application is processed through many global security agencies. These information need to be verified and coordinated in a professional manner, which assures the safety of the citizens and a hassle-free journey for the refugees to their final destination. Incomplete procedures can ultimately cause distress and discomfort for the refugees once they arrive to the United States or Canada, which can also lead to social and psychological unrest for the refugees that can delay the process of integrating to the new society.

Therefore, providing and forming dependable camps for the refugees in Europe, through a coordinated and a shared international effort will ensure the refugees are temporarily contained and a reasonable time-line is available for the western countries (USA & Canada) to conduct the necessary screening procedures. In addition, the numbers of refugees to be accepted by Canada and the United States are not as big as the numbers that have been pledged by European countries, which means the wait times would not be as lengthy as many might think. Therefore, these nations have abided by their pledges and a reasonable solution has been reached and outlined for future cases.

Nevertheless, the refugee crisis will continue and remain as one of the most complicated symptoms of the conflict in the Middle East, and as long as the conflict in Syria is not solved the flow of refugees will continue. Therefore, the international community is obligated to end this conflict and bring stability to this region before the situation get to a point that cannot even be contained.

Paris Attacks – An Act of Raw Terrorism

Official Statement by Shia Wisdom

Last week, November 13th unfolded an unforgettable tragedy in the otherwise peaceful city of Paris, France. As people enjoyed a social evening, cries of terror ensued from several locations across the city following deadly attacks of violence. Shootings and bomb blasts displaced all other noise and northern Paris experienced the first set of explosions just outside Stade de France stadium where a crowd of people including President Francois Hollande had gathered to watch an international football match. A suicide bomber when stopped by a routine security check at the stadium entrance detonated the explosives, killing himself and a passer-by.

A second bomber detonated explosives outside a different stadium not soon after and an identical third bomber carried out an explosion yet at another location not far from the second stadium. Meanwhile, the center of the town experienced other attacks surrounding nightlight hot spots. Witnesses at a bar, Le Carillon at 18 rue Alibert reported that their initial reaction to the sound of gunfire had seemed to be firecrackers going off before it dawned on them that they were facing semi-automatic rifles. South of rue Alibert, diners at restaurants had undergone another attack.

This chain of shootings continued south of the first restaurant in 11th district before another restaurant on Boulevard Voltaire underwent a bomb explosion by a suicide bomber. The night’s deadliest attack was seen on Boulevard Voltaire at a concert venue inside a 1,500-seat Bataclan hall. Three gunmen with Kalashnikovs walked in wearing suicide-belts. After firing at the crowd, one was taken down by an elite police officer with his suicide belt detonating in the process and the other two detonating their explosives themselves.

Numbers report 129 deaths from these calamitous incidents across Paris with 100 in critical condition and hundreds more wounded. Witnesses at the Bataclan clan incident reported to have heard one of the gunmen shouting “Allahu Akbar” in Arabic as he opened gunfire.

Witnesses observed similar behavior of suicide bombers in southern Beirut, Lebanon where 43 people also died in a twin bomb blasting incident just a day before the attacks in Paris. This conduct is typical of radical Islamists that are part of well-known terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and the infamous Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) that has boldly admitted to responsibility for the abhorrent acts of terrorism in both France and Lebanon.

While ISIL may have captured media highlights since last year with their ‘jihad’ motto, it has been an extension of Al-Qaeda since 1999 where it first emerged as “Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad” and constituted jihadist extremist militants that belonged from the Wahabbi or Salafi sect – an extreme version of the Sunni sect. According to the religion of Islam, these extremists are a deviation from the true teachings of Muhammad and defy the tradition of peace that is embedded in 14 centuries of Islamic scholarship.  An Islamic scholar, Dr. John Andrew Morrow in an interview with Truth Jihad Radio said that, “A lot of so-called jihad (such as ISIL’s) is not rooted in Islam.”

A French journalist, Didier Francois who had been this terrorist organization’s hostage this past year reportedly said in an interview with CNN that, “The terrorist group cares little about the Muslims religion or Quran,” and that the group never discussed anything found on the Islamic holy book with him during his captivity.

The Republique Square in the city of Paris is now in a state of mourning as candles are being lit in remembrance of the terror that shook France and the World caused by ISIL’s barbaric motives.

Sources:

http://time.com/4113157/paris-attack-bataclan-firefight-video/

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34818994

http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/16/middleeast/lebanon-adel-termos-beirut-hero/

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/13/lebanon-families-mourn-victims-beirut-bombings

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2014/06/18/isis-or-isil-the-debate-over-what-to-call-iraqs-terror-group/

http://www.presstv.com/detail/2014/06/17/367304/is-isil-really-sunni-not-at-all/

http://www.christianpost.com/news/isis-hostage-says-terror-group-doesnt-care-about-islam-didnt-even-have-a-quran-133596/

 

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Confirms Evidence That Liquid Water Flows on Mars

Source: Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo NASA

New research using NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter reveals the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars.

Using an imaging spectrometer on MRO, researchers detected signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious streaks are seen on the Red Planet. These darkish streaks appear to ebb and flow over time. They darken and appear to flow down steep slopes during warm seasons, and then fade in cooler seasons. They appear in several locations on Mars when temperatures are above minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 23 Celsius), and disappear at colder times.

“Our quest on Mars has been to ‘follow the water,’ in our search for life in the universe, and now we have convincing science that validates what we’ve long suspected,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “This is a significant development, as it appears to confirm that water — albeit briny — is flowing today on the surface of Mars.”

The downhill flows, known as recurring slope lineae (RSL), often have been described as possibly related to liquid water. The new findings of hydrated salts on the slopes point to what that relationship may be to these dark features. The hydrated salts would lower the freezing point of a liquid brine, just as salt on roads here on Earth causes ice and snow to melt more rapidly. Scientists say it’s likely a shallow subsurface flow, with enough water wicking to the surface to explain the darkening.

“We found the hydrated salts only when the seasonal features were widest, which suggests that either the dark streaks themselves or a process that forms them is the source of the hydration. In either case, the detection of hydrated salts on these slopes means that water plays a vital role in the formation of these streaks,” said Lujendra Ojha of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta, lead author of a report on these findings published September 28 by Nature Geoscience.

Ojha first noticed these puzzling features as a University of Arizona undergraduate student in 2010, using images from the MRO’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE). HiRISE observations now have documented RSL at dozens of sites on Mars. The new study pairs HiRISE observations with mineral mapping by MRO’s Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM).

The spectrometer observations show signatures of hydrated salts at multiple RSL locations, but only when the dark features were relatively wide. When the researchers looked at the same locations and RSL weren’t as extensive, they detected no hydrated salt.

Ojha and his co-authors interpret the spectral signatures as caused by hydrated minerals called perchlorates. The hydrated salts most consistent with the chemical signatures are likely a mixture of magnesium perchlorate, magnesium chlorate and sodium perchlorate. Some perchlorates have been shown to keep liquids from freezing even when conditions are as cold as minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 70 Celsius). On Earth, naturally produced perchlorates are concentrated in deserts, and some types of perchlorates can be used as rocket propellant.

Perchlorates have previously been seen on Mars. NASA’s Phoenix lander and Curiosity rover both found them in the planet’s soil, and some scientists believe that the Viking missions in the 1970s measured signatures of these salts. However, this study of RSL detected perchlorates, now in hydrated form, in different areas than those explored by the landers. This also is the first time perchlorates have been identified from orbit.

MRO has been examining Mars since 2006 with its six science instruments.

“The ability of MRO to observe for multiple Mars years with a payload able to see the fine detail of these features has enabled findings such as these: first identifying the puzzling seasonal streaks and now making a big step towards explaining what they are,” said Rich Zurek, MRO project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

For Ojha, the new findings are more proof that the mysterious lines he first saw darkening Martian slopes five years ago are, indeed, present-day water.

“When most people talk about water on Mars, they’re usually talking about ancient water or frozen water,” he said. “Now we know there’s more to the story. This is the first spectral detection that unambiguously supports our liquid water-formation hypotheses for RSL.”

The discovery is the latest of many breakthroughs by NASA’s Mars missions.

“It took multiple spacecraft over several years to solve this mystery, and now we know there is liquid water on the surface of this cold, desert planet,” said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “It seems that the more we study Mars, the more we learn how life could be supported and where there are resources to support life in the future.”

There are eight co-authors of the Nature Geoscience paper, including Mary Beth Wilhelm at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California and Georgia Tech; CRISM Principal Investigator Scott Murchie of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland; and HiRISE Principal Investigator Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona. Others are at Georgia Tech, the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and Laboratoire de Planétologie et Géodynamique in Nantes, France.

Publication: Lujendra Ojha, et al., “Spectral evidence for hydrated salts in recurring slope lineae on Mars,” Nature Geoscience (2015); doi:10.1038/ngeo2546

 

Lethal Force

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There is a widespread and persistent problem of unnecessary or excessive force by police in the United States. The recent deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Ezell Ford and many others have set off a long-overdue conversation on race, policing and justice as well as protests around the country.

The UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials set out strict human rights safeguards for the use of force. These standards provide that law enforcements should only use force as a last resort and that the amount of force must be proportionate to the threat encountered and designed to minimize damage and injury. Amnesty International is concerned that state laws on the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers do not comply with international standards and is calling on all states to review and revise their use of lethal force statutes in line with those standards.