Islamic State Militants Execute Female Iraqi Human Rights Activist

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/25/samira-nuaimi-killed_n_5880900.html

09/25/2014

BAGHDAD (AP) — Militants with the Islamic State group tortured and then publicly killed a human rights lawyer in the Iraqi city of Mosul after their self-proclaimed religious court ruled that she had abandoned Islam, the U.N. mission in Iraq said Thursday.

Gunmen with the group’s newly declared police force seized Samira Salih al-Nuaimi last week in a northeastern district of the Mosul while she was home with her husband and three children, two people with direct knowledge of the incident told The Associated Press on Thursday. Al-Nuaimi was taken to a secret location. After about five days, the family was called by the morgue to retrieve her corpse, which bore signs of torture, the two people said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of fears for their safety.

According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq, her arrest was allegedly connected to Facebook messages she posted that were critical of the militants’ destruction of religious sites in Mosul. A statement by the U.N. on Thursday added that al-Nuaimi was tried in a so-called “Sharia court” for apostasy, after which she was tortured for five days before the militants sentenced her to “public execution.” Her Facebook page appears to have been removed since her death.

“By torturing and executing a female human rights’ lawyer and activist, defending in particular the civil and human rights of her fellow citizens in Mosul, ISIL continues to attest to its infamous nature, combining hatred, nihilism and savagery, as well as its total disregard of human decency,” Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N. envoy to Iraq, said in a statement, referring to the group by an acronym. The statement did not say how she was killed.

Among Muslim hard-liners, apostasy is thought to be not just conversion from Islam to another faith, but also committing actions that they believe are so against the faith that one is considered to have abandoned Islam.

Mosul is the largest city held by the Islamic State group in the self-declared “caliphate” it has carved out, bridging northern and eastern Syria with northern Iraq. Since overrunning the once-diverse city in June, the group has forced religious minorities to convert to Islam, pay special taxes or die, causing tens of thousands to flee. The militants have enforced a strict dress code on women, going so far as to veil the faces of female mannequins in store fronts.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/25/samira-nuaimi-killed_n_5880900.html

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The Tamale Underground

From In These Times:  http://inthesetimes.com/article/17146/the_tamale_underground

Street vendors must skirt the law to make a living.

BY Rebecca Burns
September 8, 2014

Each afternoon in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood, 70-year-old Cuala resumes her quiet game of cat-and-mouse with police. After spending a few hours openly hawking cool drinks or hot chocolates from a cart, the street vendor (who declined to give her last name because of legal concerns) stocks an unmarked cooler with tamales, making furtive lunch sales to customers in the know. The stealth tactic reduces her profits, but lessens the chance that she will be arrested and ticketed: While the sale of drinks and packaged desserts is legal, street vendors like Cuala are prohibited from selling prepared foods in Chicago.

Though carts offering tamales, elotes, cut fruit and other treats are a common sight on Chicago streets, the Windy City is one of the few major metropolises that won’t grant such vendors business licenses, citing the difficulty of regulation and potential health concerns. As a result, street vendors, many of whom are poor immigrants, are subject to harassment from police, arrest and punishing fines of up to $1,000.

Some, like Cuala, resort to subterfuge; others vend only in the early morning, when police officers known for targeting vendors aren’t on the beat; others dash off the street whenever a police car approaches.

Whatever the strategy, the result is the same: Vendors, many of whom have already been shut out of the formal economy because of their age, childcare responsibilities, language barriers or immigration status, are forced to remain in the shadows. Street vendors and their advocates say that the ongoing threat of arrest represents a major barrier to growing vending businesses enough to make a decent living. It also takes a psychological toll on vendors.

Cuala once worked temporary jobs, but can no longer get hired: “They don’t want anybody old,” she says. She began selling tamales seven years ago. But one day last year, as she was handing tamales to a customer, a police officer grabbed them, threw them back at her and threatened to arrest her if she continued to sell on 26th street, the bustling thoroughfare that runs through Little Village.

Since then, Cuala has been in “constant fear” when police pass by and sells her tamales more surreptitiously. But her new strategy can yield as little as $80 each day, she says, whereas when she sold in the open, she made up to $200. The result, she says, is that it’s now impossible to save money, and she and two adult nephews whom she lives with must get by “day by day.”

All this could change soon. Arguing that street vending is an inextricable part of the fabric of city life, a coalition of vendors, labor activists and community groups are advocating a City Council ordinance that would legalize vending.

Continue reading at:  http://inthesetimes.com/article/17146/the_tamale_underground

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America’s Political Spectrum Is Not Left to Right, It’s Top to Bottom—And It has Failed the People

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/americas-political-spectrum-not-left-right-its-top-bottom-and-it-has-failed

Every day, there are populist uprisings, both large and small, all across this country.

By Jim Hightower
September 17, 2014

My father, W.F. “High” Hightower, was a populist. Only, he didn’t know it. Didn’t know the word, much less the history or anything about populism’s democratic ethos. My father was not philosophical, but he had a phrase that he used to express the gist of his political beliefs: “Everybody does better when everybody does better .

Before the populists of the late 1800s gave its instinctive rebelliousness a name, it had long been established as a defining trait of our national character: The 1776 rebellion was not only against King George III’s government but against the corporate tyranny of such British monopolists as the East India Trading Company.

The establishment certainly doesn’t celebrate the populist spirit, and our educational system avoids bothering students with our vibrant, human story of constant battles, big and small, mounted by “little people” against … well, against the establishment. The Keepers of the Corporate Order take care to avoid even a suggestion that there is an important political pattern — a historic continuum — that connects Thomas Paine’s radical democracy writings in the late 1700s to Shays’ Rebellion in 1786, to strikes by mill women and carpenters in the early 1800s, to Jefferson’s 1825 warning about the rising aristocracy of banks and corporations “riding and ruling over the plundered ploughman,” to the launching of the women’s suffrage movement at Seneca Falls in 1848, to the maverick Texans who outlawed banks in their 1845 state constitution, to the bloody and ultimately successful grassroots struggle for the abolition of slavery, and to the populist movement itself, plus the myriad rebellions that followed right into our present day.

WHAT POPULISM IS NOT: An empty word for lazy reporters to attach to any angry spasm of popular discontent. (And it’s damn sure not Sarah Palin and today’s clique of Koch-funded, corporate-hugging, tea party Republicans.)

WHAT IT IS: For some 238 years, it has been the chief political impulse in America’s body politick — determinedly democratic, vigilantly resistant to the oppressive power of corporations and Wall Street, committed to grassroots percolate-up economics, and firmly rooted in my old daddy’s concept of “Everybodyness,” recognizing that we’re all in this together.

Although it was organized into a formal movement for only about 25 years, Populism has had an outsized, long-term, and ongoing impact on our culture, public policies, economic structure and governing systems. Even though its name is rarely used and its history largely hidden, and neither major party will embrace it (much less become it), there are many more people today whose inherent political instincts are populist, rather than conservative or liberal.

Yet the pundits and politicos frame our choices in terms of that narrow con-lib ideological spectrum, ignoring the fact that most of us are neither, or a bit of both. Our nation’s true political spectrum is not right to left, but top to bottom. People can locate themselves along this vertical rich-to-poor spread, for this is not a theoretical positioning: It’s based on our real-world experience with money and power. This is America’s real politics.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/americas-political-spectrum-not-left-right-its-top-bottom-and-it-has-failed

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